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Friday, December 01, 2017

Memories of the AIDS plague

Written on World AIDS day 2017

I was most involved with the NZ male gay scene during the late 1970s and 1980s. I wasn't gay and didn't have much sex, but it was a safe place for me to be so I chose to be there.

In those days when men came out after years or decades of repressing their sexuality many (most) of them understandably went wild and spent 2 or 3 years having as much sex as possible before they calmed down and formed stable relationships. Back then even casual sex was normally unprotected and it was common for these men to go for a holiday to San Francisco for 2 weeks of casual sex with random men in the bath houses.

"So many men, so little time" was their mantra.

Then AIDS happened.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Good and Bad Influences In Comedy

You'd have to have been living in  a white house to be unaware of the recent fuss over sexual harassment in the entertainment industry.  Recently American comedian Louis CK has been shown to be a despicable person, and people are lining up to say that they always knew his work was unacceptable.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

No Longer Just Kidding

My comedy material has evolved over time. Although much of my early comedy was firmly based in science and reality, I was after jokes that made people laugh. When I first transitioned my material was a mix of psychologically or emotionally true jokes and cheap attempts at comedy. Last night there was one joke in my set that wasn't closely based on a real experience of mine. Today I decided to retire that joke.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Transformation day 89

I've been having a rough time of it today. I feel totally sapped of energy and motivation.

There's any number of possible causes, some of the recent discussions in social media have increased the stress I mentioned in my last update and further depressed me.

Alternately It could well be my medication. Today is day ten of a two week course of doxycycline. I developed boils in several different parts of my body & the doctor gave me them in an attempt to knock out whatever it was.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Remembering Jokes When On Stage

I'm a member of a secret Facebook group where comedians run draft jokes past each other and sometimes ask for other tips. Recently a person asked how we remember the running order for our intended set.

It's a truism that the art of comedy is concealing the art, so I hope I'm not giving away too many secrets here.

For me confidence is the key.

Earlier in the day I run through my jokes sub-vocally from memory, if possible more than once. Each gag I do has a unique keyword I know it by and while waiting to perform in the green room I grab my notebook & write out my list of keywords for the jokes I intend to do (Often the same list I rehearsed, but sometimes I feel mixing it up would be better) Then I use a vivid marker to write on my wrist the first letter of each keyword as a mnemonic. Usually I don't need to refer to the mnemonic as just having it there is sufficient for me to feel confident enough to do my set.

When I first started doing the mnemonics I was doing a fairly standard set and had a mnemonic of ETCH WEACH (Elephant, Tribe, Clothing ...). I couldn't for the life of me remember what the A was. Tessa & I discussed it and she couldn't remember either but I kept writing the A in case it came back to me. One day I found an early version of the list and discovered the A was just a transcription error. I kept it in the list for quite a while after that as a private joke and a tribute to my humanity (ref: Persian Flaw). I have actually told this story on stage a few times when the moment seemed right.

BTW: I have a joke I do very occasionally where I refer to how I was "recently" told off for relying on written lists of jokes and ask an audience member to help, then reveal I have some (different) keywords written elsewhere and get the guy to read keywords -- whichever keyword he reads I tell that joke. I'm always careful to pick a guy who looks pretty laid back. That's how I got the idea for using a vivid marker on my wrist instead of a ballpoint.

Very very occasionally when on stage I spontaneously add in a joke that isn't in the list, but that tends to throw me. Ad-lib jokes either referring to current events or even a reference to something the MC has said are fun too, but I've usually at least run them through in my head a couple of times before hitting the stage. A real ad-lib coming out my mouth on the spur of the moment is an interesting experience.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Planned obsolescence in Smartphones. NOT!

Recently there was some online commentary on how every version of iOS makes older iPhones run more slowly. The conspiracy theorists like to see this as a deliberate action by Apple to force people to upgrade. I doubt this for two reasons, first the Apple fans are already super keen to upgrade to the latest and greatest iDevice and I can't see how Apple would benefit from the likely damage to its reputation from pulling a trick like that.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Transformation day 52

It's been a very long time since I posted an update. There's a number of reasons for this, I've been a bit down because of stress about some unrelated things, I do regret deciding to document certain changes to youknowwhat, and progress has slowed.

Four days back I had a check-in with my counsellor at the hospital, booked before I started HRT. During the session I felt like a bit of a fake because everything was going well. He did raise his eyebrows when I said I now felt a lot less pressure to strive for a more feminine look since starting HRT, then used the term "Performance Art" about how I was dressing before. I needed to explain how when how I dressed was the only way to signal my mental state it was much more important than it is now that there were real changes happening in my body. In retrospect a very poor choice of words when talking to someone not in the entertainment world. We agreed that I don't need to book any more sessions with him unless something comes up that is concerning me.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Three years, mostly smokefree

Back at day 1000 I was expecting to be on quit-line posting about my 3rd anniversary of quitting today. Unfortunately there's a couple of reasons why that won't be happening.

I've been struggling the last few months. Some know some details and some don't. Let's just say Julia's world is not all choirs of angels serenading the unicorns that trot across the rainbow bridge. There has been a period where I was having the odd cigarette as a crutch and there were days where there were several. I never got back into full-on smoking but it was a close run thing. I've smoked on two of the last 13 days and it's been 7 days since my last cigarette. I feel like I'm free of them now, but I felt that a few times earlier too.

I really don't feel much like celebrating three years. No I don't intend adjusting or resetting my quit date. 6 September 2014 is still the date I went from being an incorrigible 30 a day smoker to someone who is mostly smoke free. I have recently gone from someone who was 99% smoke free to 95% and am still working on my quit; but it's the same quit. In any case no other date really makes any sense to me.

The second reason is that even before the above struggles Quit-line had become toxic for me. I was turned off by some of the behaviour I witnessed there; behaviour I saw as intolerant and bullying. Sure there were many supportive people and voices of reason, but there was a large enough minority of the others to put me off.

For better or worse I haven't been going there much of late and very few of my cohort are still regulars. When I was starting out I saw names that were unknown to me as they were never there and only popped in to post what seemed incredibly large numbers of days. I vowed to myself that I wouldn't be one of them, if I ceased being a regular contributor and stopped recognising the regulars I'd quietly retire from posting to the site.

When I go there now I also feel professionally angry at the new software. No matter how many times I say "Remember me" it never does, I can't page through the blogs, I can't look at the blogs of the people I supported and they still haven't loaded in the old blogs.

I've spent 40 years developing computer software and I can't remember seeing an upgrade as incompetent as Quit-line's mess. It looks like it was thrown together in a hurry by a high school student for a mid-week homework assignment. Actually that's not fair, most of the student programmers I've known would have done a far better job.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Transformation day 18

I haven't updated this progress blog for a couple of weeks. Very little change was happening & I felt I'd wandered into areas that were making me uncomfortable.

There have been a few more changes over these two weeks.

Saturday, August 05, 2017

Days 4 & 5 Struggling with meds & bra shopping

Friday was a bit of a non-event. Things progressed from Thursday and there was little worth reporting so I'm covering Saturday and only briefly touching on Friday. I'm still feeling great & the world is feeling a little brighter.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Shopping, banana & tofu

Day 3 of HRT & more changes. I haven't got a lot to report. It's still too early for much in the way of noticeable physical  changes but I did notice a couple of minor ones and the mental changes have continued.

My nipples already seem a little larger, fatter if you will. The breast structure behind them will take months or years to develop, but this is an interesting change.  [Edit] In retrospect, I'm not sure they have changed, I think they have probably become more-or-less permanently erect, apparently this is a known thing in the early days of transitioning [/Edit]

I went shopping today with a girlfriend and I noticed that how I examined clothing in the shops was different as was how I reacted to other people I passed.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

HRT Day 2. Today Tomorrow and Taboo

Today

I've been feeling really great. All blissful & happy. I went down the road to get some bread & coming back the world seemed very clear.  This seems to be happening extremely quickly, almost too quickly, and I'm wondering how much is a placebo effect from my knowing I've started the medication, how much is just that the stress of being in a male body is reduced by the knowledge that it is rapidly becoming less male in at least its chemistry.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Starting HRT

Today was my second appointment with  a specialist at Auckland Sexual Health. A week ago he made sure I understood what HRT would and would not do for me and the risks attached. Then some blood was taken. Today was a brief meeting where he reviewed the results of the blood tests, everything was OK, he answered the couple of questions I had, wrote me the prescriptions and made a follow-up appointment for 2 months.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Intolerance of unconventional quitting methods

It's well over two years since I quit smoking and I'm largely detached from quit-line but I still pop in to the blogs over there.

I don't have any real stats, but I'm picking that far more people fail on each attempt than succeed. This CDC fact-sheet says that over 50% of US smokers attempted to quit in 2015. That smoking rates are only slowly decreasing means that only a relatively small number of quitters succeed each time, but given we all know of ex smokers who did give up after multiple attempts it's reasonable that people who try hard enough and often enough can succeed.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Most Influential Albums of my High-School years

Fellow comedian Neil Thornton posted this list of the top ten most influential  albums of his high-school years, although he must have been a slow learner as his cover a 17 year period.  I've kept to the years 1970 to 1974 when I was at high-school. The top ten most influential albums of my high-school years (in year order, then alphabetic) are: