What became of Aesha?
Farewell, Robin Gibb.
The Boston Globe takes a stand on the deportation of same-sex spouses.
Trans beautuy Jenna Talackova didn't become Miss Universe Canada last night:
The crown went to Sahar Biniaz, an Indian-born, Iranian-raised actress from Vancouver. Biniaz, 26, will represent Canada at the Miss Universe pageant in December, according to the Miss Universe Canada website.
Talackova refused to speak to the media after the competition, but Biniaz said Talackova had congratulated her on her win backstage. Biniaz added that she admired Talackova for having the courage to compete in the pageant.
In a CNN interview hours before showtime, the 6-foot-1 Talackova seemed a bit weary, as the spotlight was still squarely on her gender transformation.
"Like I always say, my family didn't understand, so why would I expect anybody else to understand? And then they got to know me and they loved me," Talackova said.
More on Dharun Ravi's gay allies.
Abdel Basset Ali al Megrahi, Lockerbie bomber, is dead.
The most fun article ever written about Article IV of the American Constitution -- which, mid-way through, turns out to be about marriage equality. (Seriously: Read it. Its a monstrously fun piece of writing.)
The Times in-house conservative, Ross Douthat, on the Elizabeth Warren/Cherokee pseudo-scandal:
A diverse faculty and campus can be a laudable goal. But the point is to build academic communities that actually contain a wide variety of experiences and perspectives, not to wax self-congratulatory because you’ve met a set of ethnic quotas. The story of Elizabeth Warren, “woman of color,” represents a reductio ad absurdum of the latter tendency, which has been all too prevalent in elite universities -- giving us affirmative-action programs that benefit West Indian immigrants more than the descendants of slaves, and faculties that include a wider range of skin tones than of political and religious views.
The irony is that Warren herself probably did make Harvard more diverse, since she grew up the daughter of a janitor in Oklahoma -- not a typical background, to put it mildly, for Ivy League students and faculty today. But under the academy’s cramped definitions, it was her grandfather’s Cherokee cheekbones, not her blue-collar roots, that led to her citation as a supposed trailblazer.
Paul Cameron, chairman of the Family Research Institute, seems to be losing it. He thinks Barack Obama's connections to Hollywood mean he's gay, and that the gay rights movement wants to turn the United States into -- wait for it -- Afghanistan. Watch Cameron explain all of this and more to David Pakman AFTER THE JUMP ...
On May 17th, Raw Story spoke with the five binational couples suing the United States' government in Blesch v. Holder. These are five of the some 35,000 gay bi-national couples in the United States who could be ripped apart because their marriages, unrecognized at the federal level, are insufficient to procure the non-American partner a green card.
The suing couples have filed their lawsuit with the help of Immigration Equality, the totally excellent non-profit which may be visited here.
Watch Raw Story's interviews AFTER THE JUMP ...
Four years ago in western Texas, Catholic priest John Fiala initiated a non-consensual sexual relationship with a 16-year-old boy. Fiala would drive the boy to his girlfriend's house and the pair would stop at a motel along the route, where the priest force himself upon his passenger. On other occasions, Fiala assaulted the boy in his car and in the rectory of his church. At one point, he made the boy perform sex acts at gunpoint.
From the Dallas News:
[The boy] never told his family about the attacks because he was so scared.
“I felt like I was saving their lives,” the accuser, now 20, testified this morning in a Dallas County courtroom.
After numerous rapes and assaults, Fiala attempted to hire a Dallas hit man to kill his victim. The attempt failed, and the boy lived to testify against the ex-priest, who's now 53.
On Thursday, Fiala was convicted in a Dallas County courtroom of trying to hire the hit man. (Fiala still faces sex assault charges in Edwards County.) On Friday, Fiala was sentenced to 60 years in prison. He'll be eligible for parole in 2027.
From the Dallas News:
In closing arguments, prosecutors asked for a life sentence for ex-priest John Fiala. Defense attorney Rex Gunter said anything more than 15 years would be a "travesty."
Kristen Wiig last night bid farewell to Saturday Night Live, after seven years of Kat, Penelope, Dooneese, Mindy, Gilly, Sue, and Target Lady. It was a teary farewell, emceed by Mick Jagger, who showed up to host the season finale. Watch AFTER THE JUMP ...
Yesterday, the board of directors of the NAACP voted to officially endorse marriage equality. The resolution passed by the board reads:
The NAACP Constitution affirmatively states our objective to ensure the “political, educational, social and economic equality” of all people. Therefore, the NAACP has opposed and will continue to oppose any national, state, local policy or legislative initiative that seeks to codify discrimination or hatred into the law or to remove the Constitutional rights of LGBT citizens. We support marriage equality consistent with equal protection under the law provided under the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. Further, we strongly affirm the religious freedoms of all people as protected by the First Amendment.
A further statement on the NAACP's website provides context:
The NAACP has addressed civil rights with regard to marriage since Loving v. Virginia declared anti-miscegenation laws unconstitutional in 1967. In recent years the NAACP has taken public positions against state and federal efforts to ban the rights and privileges for LGBT citizens, including strong opposition to Proposition 8 in California, the Defense of Marriage Act, and most recently, North Carolina’s Amendment 1, which changed the state constitution’s to prohibit same sex marriage.
The sudden endorsement of marriage equality by the 103-year-old civil rights organization is entirely symbolic. Yet as the Washington Post points out:
The decision has political implications for President Obama, who needs an enthusiastic turnout from black voters to help him win reelection in November but angered some African-American church pastors with his announcement this month that he believes gays and lesbians should have the right to marry.
The NAACP now presents itself as a counterbalance to the influence of the traditionally socially conservative black church. It can also help establish closer ties between blacks and gays, two of Obama’s most loyal constituencies.
Some pro-Republican conservative evangelical activists have said Obama’s announcement gives them an unusual opportunity to deflate enthusiasm among black voters for reelecting the country’s first black president, who tends to win more than 90 percent support in that community.
YOUR FEATURE PRESENTATION
Now Playing: With the world too busy seeing The Avengers for a second time last weekend, Dark Shadows premiered to considerably less fanfare and bank than Tim Burton and Johnny Depp collaborations are generally greeted with. So who will even notice that we're one week late to the ball? Young Carolyn Stoddard (Chloë Grace Moretz) will -- she's so smugly superior -- but she prefers the word "happening". She's quick to school her out-of-time vampire uncle Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp) that no one throws "balls" anymore.
Actually, Carolyn, Tim Burton does.
His movies are less like parties or happenings these days and a lot more like balls: the guest list is expected (Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter always RSVP); the attire is formal (Colleen Atwood gowns and suits preferred and always theme-specific); and the attendees will interact ritualistically in spacious well decorated halls (i.e. soundstages); and you don't arrive expecting a story but a festive visual and physical experience.
MORE AFTER THE JUMP...
Tim Burton has never been great at "story" anyway and Dark Shadows is no exception. The plot is overly complicated and enormously repetitive, boiling down to this: the evil witch Angelique (Eva Green) and her ex-lover the vampire Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp) have been at odds since the 1700s. Centuries later they still lust-hate each other and battle for the soul (and fishing profits) of the village known as Collinswood in the 1970s. As weird as it may be to say, "In the 1970s" is the important part of that sentence. Burton hasn't cared much about storytelling since the 90s when he made his two best films (Edward Scissorhands and Ed Wood). As a director he's always relied on his own peculiar aesthetic as the movie. His gothic cutesiness has grown so successful it's now a calcified brand which he can transport with ease (and a hundred million plus budget) to just about any property for a Burtonesque remake.
So the real question with each new movie is whether he's throwing a good ball or "happening". The answer changes from scene to scene.
Burton can still deliver a great visual hook as he does here with a recurring ghostly reenactment of a woman's hypnotic "suicide". These visitations are beautiful and haunting but the film's climax would play far more impactfully if we had pieced the details together for ourselves and felt the tragedy with an engaging "a ha". He can also still deliver whimsical comedy as in one fine bit when Barnabas' self-pitying dramatics actually cause the scene's chintzy musical accompaniment. But even in the film's best moments there's a certain clumsiness in the play and inertia in the pacing as if Burton is caught between his new laziness and his old genuine excitement about his chosen material. Is it a comedy, a tragedy, a melodrama, or a horror film? Burton doesn't know so the actors try to hit all the targets with entertaining but mixed results. Helena Bonham-Carter and Johnny Depp "get" Tim Burton (as well they should) but their elaborate characterizations feel more effortful and less funny than the movie needs. Even the gloriously welcome Michelle Pfeiffer (come back to the movies full time anytime, diva), moves with a certain careful stiffness through her regal, funny and winning big screen return as the Collins matriarch. Chloe Moretz fares worst with the one note role of the sullen teenager. Two years into her ubiquitous teen stardom she's still burdened by her youth, all pose and no deeper feeling. That's fatal in a Burton film where deeper feeling is the only thing that will differentiate you from the elaborate human statuary just out of focus behind you.
Only Eva Green, who also played a witch in The Golden Compass, moves through the gorgeously gothic set and preening 70s affectations with the freeness of inspiration. She's all quick spins, rump slides, and bosomy pride as unwaveringly sure that she owns the movie as Angelique is that she owns the town. Her freakish rictus grin is the perfect cap on the star turn: comedy, tragedy, melodrama and horror all at once. Green also earns the movie's best and most inventive visual effect, her skin-deep beauty cracking like the shell of a hard boiled egg…without the egg inside. She's never been human enough.
In the end Dark Shadows doesn't cast any of its own. Its mild successes and failures shine no bright light on the director's future (even though the final image is all "Can I be your sequel, please?") If Burton continues to make movies as terrible as Planet of the Apes and Alice in Wonderland, Dark Shadows will be a minor uptick in his creative downslide. If his imagination finds a second wind or purpose, Dark Shadows might well be remembered warmly as a turning point… the moment he stumbled back toward the light.