Monday, 21 January 2013

Weekend thoughts…

  • I really love the sound of footsteps on nice and fresh snow! It snowed a lot the past few days in London. The scenery was simply lovely. So, I put my wellies on and I went for a walk to the neighbourhood and nearby Park, yesterday morning. I stayed out as much as I could. When I started not feeling my face, I went indoors for a lovely warm coffee to read the Sunday paper and watch the people outside slide over the icy roads.

  • Question of the day: Am I supposed to feel sad or sorry for Lance Armstrong? Because I’m not. I didn’t watch his full interview, but from the part that I watched, I thought he sounded as smug as ever. I don’t think he’s sorry about it. He’s only sorry he got caught. The only but high credit I can give him is from having cancer and stopping it. Being diagnosed with the big C is probably the worst news someone can get.

  • I also realised how my perception of things change over the years. Things I used to love don’t mean that much to me anymore and vice versa. To be more specific, I’ve recently re discovered a love I have to Mediterranean / Greek cuisine and its value. After the excessive holiday eating, we’ve been trying with JJ to cook a bit healthier. So, we’ve found some Greek recipes that I really despised while growing up. Things like Greek style spinach and rice (spanakorizo), pork with leeks and Briam (tourlou) were dishes I really didn’t like. I now thankfully (for my waist line) love them. On the opposite side, I watched Coppola’s ‘Dracula’ the other day with Gary Oldman. I hadn’t seen it for years but I remember really falling for it when I first watched it. Now, watching it again felt like such a disappointment! Unfortunately, after all these years, it has faded out.


Monday, 14 January 2013

Gay Stereotypes in TV

There’s a new show on television called ‘The new normal’. You probably know more about it, than I do. I’m a bit slow when it comes to TV programmes. In case you haven’t seen it, it’s from the creators of Glee, so you can imagine how it’s like. I’ve only seen three quarters of the first (I think) episode in rerun. It’s about a gay couple finding a surrogate mother for their child and all the shenanigans followed by making that choice. There’s the lovely, annoyingly perfect, gay couple, the outspoken and loud African-American assistant, the traditional, very rich and homophobic grandmother of the surrogate mother and her daughter, a cute but a bit strange little girl. That little girl is like a clone taken from ‘Little Miss Sunshine’.

Before I even start, I have to say that I don’t like Glee. I never did. I’ve seen only a few episodes and those by accident. I found it predictable, not funny and the songs way too mushy, over the top and forced to be emotional. However, I know lots of people that swear by it. At least, they used to. I don’t know what’s happening now and how popular it is, after all these series. The gay characters in that show, from what I had seen, follow the general stereotypical image of gay people. The same recipe I think is followed in the ‘New Normal’.

One of the characters in the new series is extremely like a grown up ‘Kurt’ from Glee (I googled to find the character’s name). He’s a very camp, much into fashion and everything ‘pretty’, character. His boyfriend is like a character taken out of a gay romantic fiction book. He’s the exact opposite of his partner and a very down-to-Earth, intelligent, gynaecologist with a six pack (of course) with a sense for intellectuality. They also share a very nice house and a very cute dog. The surrogate mother is the forcibly likable victim of a bad relationship, starting fresh and saying all the rights things on the right time. She even wants the money from the surrogacy to study Law and create a better future for her daughter (can anyone pass me the tissues?)!

OK, maybe I’m being way too harsh. I haven’t seen much of the show to be honest and so judgmental and negative. Maybe the characters are not so two dimensional and the story evolves nicely in an interesting way. I’m not holding my breath for it though.  
However, I have to give much deserved credit to both shows, Glee and New Normal. They are making more gay characters likable in a mainstream TV show. They introduce more popular gay people to the everyday watching family. They’re not the first show to do that. But from what I’ve read, Glee has been so extremely popular to younger and not only generations that might be helping loads in fighting homophobia and bullying in schools (hopefully).  I might not completely agree with the way that some gay people are portrayed, but still, it is a positive thing to do.

It’s very nice that shows like ‘Modern Family’ (more to my taste to be honest) and ‘New Normal’ try to portrait and even promote gay parenthood.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Holidays Ahead with some minor dark clouds

With 2013 already underway, our little house in the south of London has been happily buzzing, making plans for the near future. The easiest and most pleasant of them are of course the plans regarding holidays and trips. Even if it is still very early for the year, we’ve decided on making a trip to Athens at the end of January, beginning of February! And I’m so excited!  What’s great about Athens is the fact that it’s inexpensive, since we’ll be staying at my brother’s and the weather most likely will be good (during the Alkyonides days). We’ll meet members of my family and some of my dearest and oldest friends.

Speaking of my family, I’ve mentioned to my mother the days we’ll be staying in Athens and that it would be nice to see them. It would also be nice of them to meet JJ for the first time. It was only fair since I’ve met JJ’s parents very recently and we could get the ‘meeting the parents’ thing out of the way once and for all. My mother didn’t sound too excited about this prospect. On the phone she mumbled something on the line ‘we’ll see’ and that they’re busy, so she can’t promise they could get the time to go all the way to Athens!

Although, this could really be the case, I had my doubts. So, on a later phone call I’ve openly asked her that if JJ left earlier and I stayed a couple of days longer, would they then think about coming to Athens to see me! And then, the amazing happened! They could make it (if I was on my own)! This whole thing upset me the day we had that brief conversation.  I’m now feeling much better about it though. I don’t have anything to be apologetic about and the problem lies with them. I’ve decided that some things can’t be forced, although I will bring up the subject to my mother when I see her.

I believe that the first time I mentioned us being in the country and if they could come, she didn’t even check with my father about it. He simply doesn’t want to hear about it. He can’t accept the fact that his son is gay, even if he’s happy and partnered. It’s not that important but I’m mentioning the partnered bit because when we had the ‘talk’ once, he was going on about how I was wasting my life, being alone and ending up on the street like a tramp, begging for some affection and paid love! She’s better than him. When I know he’s not listening she’s asking me quietly about how we are doing and even wished JJ Merry Christmas! Just to stir the waters I had sent them a Merry Christmas card signed by both of us. :-)

In any case, we have holidays approaching and I’m very happy about it! I’ve already been checking on things we could do and didn’t do during our last visit. The most important one is visiting the National Archaeological Museum of Athens. The last time I’ve been there I was probably in my teens. There are some amazing exhibits there including Cycladic art, the well-known golden mask of Agamemnon and the famous Antikythera mechanism.

Please meet Agamemnon

Especially the latter is something I would really love to see again. We were recently watching a full documentary in National Geographic (I think) regarding it. For those of you not familiar with it, this Greek ancient mechanism is considered to be one of the very first “computers” ever built. It was found in a ship wreck close to the Antikythera Island and its very complicated cogs and wheels were calculating astronomical positions.      

 Antikythera Mechanism

Thursday, 3 January 2013

My walk of shame

This post is all about my fitness level. I hope it’s not just a New Year’s Resolution that will be forgotten next month. But I am planning to make some decision which I hope to keep. So, bear with me on that and/or help me if possible.

Generally, I’ve been good and managed to maintain a decent weekly number of visits to my gym during the last months. Apart from the time when I was away on holidays, I don’t think I’ve skipped gym for a whole week without going at least once or twice. The personal trainer I have is also good at kicking my ass almost every week. Sometimes of course is harder than others, but I assume that’s to be expected.

Last week was exceptionally nice. The gym was almost empty. Once, there were 4 people overall in the whole area, including me. I like it like that, when it’s empty and mostly quiet. I can enjoy working out without distractions. I even took a photo of the empty locker rooms. Before you ask, no, it’s not something I’ve done before and no, I don’t plan on making a habit out of it. :-)

I know that the state of the empty gym will not last. The hordes of the January new members on their own New Year’s Resolutions will be arriving soon. It’s unavoidable. We just have to be patient and wait for it to pass:

The reason however of the title of my post is my lack of running and doing long sessions of cardio exercise. I know how important running is to maintain my weight and waist line in a fairly good condition. I’ve mentioned my weight increase over the last weeks, that is not making me very happy and it’s not just the holiday food. I’ve gotten heavier and I need to do something about it.

I’m not a great fan of indoor treadmill running in the gym. I find it a bit tedious. I so much prefer running outdoors and I used to do it so often. When I first met JJ I was fitter, lighter and I could do long runs without any problem, like that first half marathon I did in Bath back then. I used to log all my outdoor runs and from what you can see things haven’t been going that well recently:





Even if I might have missed and not logged a couple of runs over these last years, I don’t think it’s not obvious the decline of mileage over the months. Even during the good months, I didn't run that much, but still combined with gym, it was OK. I could come up with many reasons I haven’t been running, like heavy work schedule, my personal life or the bad weather but it’s no right. They’re only silly unforgivable excuses. It’s a personal defeat I will not easily accept, at least not without a fight.

So, even if these graphs are so embarrassing, I’m presenting them to you. I need you as witnesses that I plan on getting out again writing miles. According to my blog the last time I posted anything tagged in the ‘running’ category was October 2011! I hope this will change (and soon). Can you nag me in the near future if I don’t mention anything relevant at some time soon?

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Happy New Year

I’d like to wish for you a jolly, healthy, successfully and productive New Year!

We went to central London for the change of the year. We had arranged to meet some friends, but it was so busy that it was impossible to reach them. To give you an idea we were in the North Bank of Thames around 10 pm, close to Temple station (that’s two stops away from Westminster), and it was already crowded and we couldn’t get closer. They had already blocked parts of the road leading to the area around Big Ben. By 11pm the closed road where we were was full of people and there was nowhere to go but stay put and wait for time to pass.

At midnight, the fireworks display was really nice. I tried to enjoy the ‘show’, so I didn’t take many pictures. It wasn’t easy to zoom in, keep steady with everybody moving around and take a decent shot of the fireworks anyway. The atmosphere of the joyful crowds was pleasant as well (excluding some drunk people).

When the display was over, we quickly tried to get to a convenient open tube station and head home. JJ was working the next morning and we couldn’t afford to get stranded in the centre. The way back was funny. There were lots of people wishing each other for the New Year. The girl sitting next to me in the train had a carton decapitated Queen with her. Since she was slightly drunk and falling asleep, the Queen was resting on my shoulder as well. I couldn’t resist and told JJ to take a picture of me: