Two by Two: Men in Pairs by Chris Brickell

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I noted on my Facebook page that the lovely Chris Brickell was talking about his new book at the Dunedin Zinefest.  I know nothing about Zinefest.  When Chris produces a new book I tend to stalk him until I get a copy.  A professor in Gender Studies at the University of Otago he has published two books contibuting to the gay history of New Zealand men.  This is his third is a self-published volume.  I decided that this counted as a book-launch and attendence would count as today’s divertisement.

First task was to track down the address at Black Star Books in Moray place.  It wasn’t too hard.  Wandering around upper Moray Place I reminded myself as I approached it that the sign for Black Star books was at the drive-way for the courtyard behind the Corso Building.  Indeed I found Chris standing outside.  Neither of us knew where to go further.  Chris made enquiries.  A flight of sloping steps with a rickety bannister at the back of the Corso Building led up to Black Star Books.  It regretted not having my camera with me to record the charm of its unorthodox architecture.  I find that that is one of my comment complaints.  I’m never prepared to think ahead to have it with me when I want to take a photo.

Black Star Books didn’t seem to me to be a bookshop as the name implies.  It has a library including a shelf of its own samizdat publications, appropriate for a Zinefest.  Black Star Books seems to be the successor to classes for working men and women of a previous generation in Dunedin.  The centre for the Zinefest was held next door in the motel foyer used to house Interact.  Here there were young people mingling.  Chris’s workshop was held in the front room of Black Star Books, a enlarged space in the apartment above the Corso Building Cafe.  His demonstration talked about his desk-top preparation for the book on computer, then publication through Dutybound in Dunedin.  The final binding of the book had only been completed that morning at half past ten.  (Eeek!)

Still it was my pleasure to be the first person to buy a copy of this title.  It is a beautifully made, hard-bound book with good binding.  It is sized like a notebook.  I understand that Dutybound has a good selection of notebook volumes and the book is styled like one of them.  It is proof as I had heard previously some years ago that Dunedin is a good place to get book-binding done.

I keep stopping as I write to flick though the book’s pages and its images of men together, both suggestively erotic and in open camaradery.  I was glad when I heard that Chris was selling them for $40 each as I knew I had that money on me and wanted to spend it on a copy.  It is number 21 of a run of 120 for the first edition.  I look forward to showing it to staff members of the Presbyterian Archives and the Hewitson Library on Monday.

Afterwards there was opportunity to share in a lunch of baked potatoes, vegetable stew and fresh bread at the main floor of the Zinefest.  It was a nourishing lunch, right for the middle of the day.  I was glad to attend to support what Chris is doing and validate his work.

Ten years of blogging


The one thing that I forgot in the middle of my decrepit computer is that 17 September was the tenth anniversary of The Irrefutable Proof about Hobbits.  I am such a bad parent that I didn’t commemorate this special day!  I have been thinking about it for a while.

The Irrefutable Proof about Hobbits started ten years ago on Livejournal.  The account is not updated now.  It is still there if I ever go back to it.  The title was a nod to the movie The Irrefutable Truth about Demons.  Actually I’ve never watched it.  There is no proof about the existence of hobbits in this journal except that I record my life, The Hobbit.   My icon was taken from the National Geographic website, the image of a Homo Florensis Hobbit, Ebu Gogo, the flesh-eater.  I liked the irony of not being identified as one of Tolkien’s hobbits.

The subtitle Satura I picked up from a year of classical studies.  It is a Greek word with multiple meanings: the origin of the word ‘satire’, a mixed dish of fruit shared as a dessert.  On Livejournal I used it as the name of my friends’ page.  It was always in the back of my head as a title if I ever wanted to publish a fanzine.

Originally I blogged daily, recording my life.  That palled after flatmates I lived with used it to track what I was doing.  It became irritating to post a blog and have some one come and say to me ‘so you XYZ…?’ about half an hour later.  I started thinking ‘Why, yes, Captain Obvious!  And you only know that because you’re stalking me!’  My life returned to my written journal.  The Irrefutable Proof about Hobbits became more sporadic.

Still I kept returning to it.  I find I like to blog and report on events as I encounter them.  It’s not going to be a popular blog.  It’s way below the radar to get the hits.  And I don’t want to promote it.  People still find it.  I moved it off Livejournal to WordPress.  It’s still followed by a handful of friends: Southern Dave, Jason Goroncy, Traci Voss, Tony Skaggs.  I share it on Facebook and Twitter and I know people visit from those sites.  I never know who they are and they never speak.  They are still out there.  I lost one follower and friend, Grace Gardner, when she took her own life.  The world is diminished by that loss.  She is not forgotten.

And after this year’s break for house-sitting I return to blogging.  I look forward to finding new things about which to report, gripe and be  curmudgeonly!  As well as new surprises to delight me.  I hope for another ten years!

Catching up

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I haven’t posted in a while.  I’ve been away from this computer, house-sitting for a friend who has been away for five weeks in Beijing and Europe.  Lucky him!  Since I’ve got home my computer has got seriously decrepit.  The hard-drive has slowed down and frozen a couple of times.  There was a couple of days when it would not boot.  It looks like it needs replacing.  I’ve bought an external drive and backed everything up.  Mark is setting up a new computer for me.  I’m waiting to hear from him.

My hobbit email address looks like it has disappeared.  I haven’t been able to log onto for some weeks.  I will have to get in touch with them.  In the meantime I have taken out an account with  The nickname for that address is intheologus.

Events continue to happen.  The Demonstration for Democracy happened in the Octagon.  I was underwhelmed.  It was more like a picnic for democracy.  I have learnt my lesson.  If the advertising for an event only gets to me a couple of days before the event then that’s a warning that this event could be not worth supporting.  World Peace Day was also held in the Octagon, also a small event.  Representatives from Dunedin faith groups were present including Hari Krishnas, Christians, Muslims and Buddhists.

I went to parish camp on Quarantine Island for the weekend, my most recent escape from the city.  I should take some time away as I have plenty of leave.  Never mind.  Burt is coming!

In time for the local body elections Opoho Church held its Candidate meeting over two nights.  About 31 candidates were present before an audience which the Otago Daily Times estimated at 120 people.  Typically for Opoho about a quarter of the audience arrived in the last five minutes.  They just came in and filled the pews.  Mayor Dave Cull was well received by the audience.  They liked his stands on conservation and climate change which reflects the interests of the audience.  There were also questions on supporting business and supporting low-income citizens.  Some of the candidates impressed me because they knew their stuff and how to address the audience.  I was time-keeper again.  Some of the candidates are not getting my vote because they didn’t know how to condense what they had to say before I cut them off with a stag-horn.  My god, that was fun!  Some other candidates who have their faces over the city like a Stalinist personality cult are also not getting my vote.