Watch Grindr CEO Joel Simkhai talk biz on Bloomberg Television, AFTER THE JUMP ...
"Superman: Forged By Bullies!"
Complicated memories of a father murdered mid-transition:
“I was talking with Jean tonight about Dad,” [said my sister Bridgette]. Jean was one of her transgender customers. “And Jean said, ‘Maybe you were never meant to celebrate Father’s Day, because your dad was always meant to be a woman.’” She looked at me as though this might be a consolation, but I was having none of it.
“That’s absurd!” I said, because I believe our dad was a man through and through. He was 6-foot-7. He was lanky, deep-voiced. I often described his personality as somewhere between Anthony Bourdain and Howard Stern. What was most damning, in my mind, was how physically abusive he was to my mother and me. Bridgette missed much of this. She was 5 when I went into foster care at 15. The court made my dad take anger management classes after that. “He was always talking about how he hated women,” I said. “If that’s the case, how could he have really been one?”
Russell Pearce, author of Arizona's "papers please!" law, can't find a place to hold fundraiser; accuses Arizonans of trying to "stifle" his candidacy:
The fundraising event was originally planned to be held at Macayo’s restaurant in Phoenix, but the plan was scuttled by activist Dee Dee Garcia Blase of Arizona’s Tequila Party, a conservative Latino group formed in reaction to the deportation-happy Tea Party. Garcia Blase organized a protest to be held outside the restaurant during the event and contacted Macayo’s corporate offices, which led the restaurant to cancel the event on Thursday morning.
By midday Thursday, Pearce’s campaign had emailed supporters announcing a second location, Oaxaca Restorante Y Cantina in downtown Phoenix. However, when Garcia Blase contacted Oaxaca’s management, the event was canceled within hours.
Oaxaca manager Joseph Aguayo told the Capital Times that Pearce’s campaign had booked the event under a false name. When Garcia Blase told him who the event was for, Aguayo barred the group from the restaurant. “We don’t need that,” he said, “We want to keep the support of our Latino community.”
Finally, Pearce attempted to gain access to the library of Phoenix’s Central High School, a request that was denied 30 minutes before Pearce’s guests and supporters were due to arrive. Phoenix Union High School District Superintendent Kent Scribner said that the event, with the added concerns of protesters and security, posed a logistical nightmare for school officials.
“Given the late notice of this request and the anticipated turnout, we are unable to host it,” Scribner said.
Game of Thrones creators apologize for beheading President Bush.
A report from Syracuse gay pride.
Some evidence suggesting tiny particles sometimes slip the bounds of the universe to go ... somewhere.
You are carrying around six pounds of microbes.
Belief in gods continues to plummet amongst millenials.
Dr. Albert Schatz -- vindicated!
YOUR FEATURE PRESENTATION
At a recent press screening in Manhattan, heavily attended by the gays, the choreographer turned So You Think You Can Dance judge turned movie director Adam Shankman cheerfully introduced the screening of his latest stage-to-screen musical ROCK OF AGES. It's his first musical since the exuberant Hairspray (2007) and he charmingly expressed his nerves and excitement about showing it off. He invited the assembled to not take the movie too seriously ("dumb fun!") and sing along with it if they felt the urge. I was sitting near the front and as Shankman bounded up the stairs to exit from the back, he shouted out 'Oh, and I'm gay!' as a "no shit" style punchline. The crowd laughed and the lights went out.
The energy of Shankman's introduction can't have hurt the screening but his invitation to sing-along proved redundant. It doesn't take long for the movie to send out its own karaoke invitation. In the jukebox musical's first number we meet a small town girl, living in a lonely world, who takes a midnight train bus going anywhere. Her name is Sherry Christian (Julianne Hough) but she's not exactly going anywhere. She's purposefully headed to Los Angeles to try to make it in the music business. No sooner has she begun singing "Sister Christian" (get it? Um… haha?) than the unnamed extras on the bus start grabbing solo lines from the verses until the whole bus is singing about Sister Christian. Her time has come!
Upon her arrival in the big city, this girl from the sticks lands both a new job and a new bartender/songwriter boyfriend (Cam Gigandet) at a famous club operated by a beleaguered old pro (Cher) and her gayish sidekick (Stanley Tucci). The club is having financial trouble thanks in part to a mercenary money man (Eric Dane) and hopes that a big voice (Christina Aguilera) will resurrect its fortu---
NO WAIT -- THAT'S BURLESQUE! Sorry Sorry.
MORE, AFTER THE JUMP...
My apologies. Given the identical plots I kept wishing I was watching Burlesque instead. Here's a handy chart in case I lost you.
Like Hairspray before it, Rock of Ages has a healthy sometimes wickedly funny sense of humor and dynamite choreography, but the comparisons (and most of the praise) end there. Hough and Boneta are attractive leads but you need star power and chemistry to headline and they're as exciting as cardboard multiplex advertisements once they're sharing their scenes with bonafide movie stars like Catherine Zeta -Jones and Tom Cruise.
Tom Cruise is so game for his role as a drugged up rock legend Stacee Jaxx that he enters the movie in assless chaps (his own idea according to Shankman). His star turn is both the worst thing and the best thing about the movie given that he's supremely watchable and only half costumed but also arguably way too intense / emotionally broken for the jokiness the movie is aiming for. Malin Akerman is his romantic foil -- a Rolling Stone 'slutty librarian' type of reporter. Akerman is equally game to slapstick the sex up but I kept wishing an actress with a more distinctive gift for goofy carnality and Cruise Chemistry would have played the role instead. Was Cameron Diaz busy? Tone deaf?
Catherine Zeta-Jones, who should only make musicals until she drops (by gunpoint if necessary) gets the cartoon energy right. She plays a pious activist with a secret who wants to shut down the sinful club. Sadly, Shankman doesn't seem to know what he's got in front of him in Zeta-Jones (used only fleetingly and not well at all after her secret comes out.)
Shankman is weirdly even more clueless about Mia Michaels' choreography even though he's a choreographer himself. The numbers are so frenetically edited (even Zeta-Jones's Pat Benatar routine) that they make Moulin Rouge! feel absolutely restrained. And Moulin Rouge! had valid reasons for its chaos aesthetic! Shankman and his beleaguered editors (so. many. cuts) jerk so frequently from camera angle to camera angle and from one blurry close-ups of faces in motion to another that you'd think they were making a movie about rave culture rather than a movie about 80s hair metal power ballads. Where is the slow build, power reveal and repetitive totemic iconography of those aggressively dumb-fun classic songs in the visuals for this dumb-fun movie? The movie is such a chaotic mess that it's often more enjoyable to close your eyes and listen ….and Adam, baby, Adam. We have iTunes for that!
To be fair to Shankman, almost everyone making musicals these days needs these two lessons. One in basic human anatomy, the other in filmmaking
- Dancing takes place in the body, not in the face.
- The purpose of 24 frames per second is to simulate actual movement, not to show us 24 different pictures.
I have no idea whether audiences will respond to Rock of Ages which is enjoyable and funny in spurts. Its curio value may well play better at home where you can sing along or ignore at your leisure free from off key embarrassment. It's easy to imagine it being a huge hit at a karaoke themed thirty or fortysomething slumber party but who throws those? If Rock of Ages would like to become a smash hit I suggest sending Adam Shankman on tour with it to introduce each and every screening. That'd be a grueling tour for any director with a movie on 3,000 plus screens several times a day but if anyone has the inexhaustible energy for it it might well be Shankman.
Last night, Nik Wallenda became the first person to ever cross Niagara Falls on a high wire.
It was a cool stunt, and it was good that Nik Wallenda got to do it. The Flying Wallendas are arguably the most storied family in the dare-devilry and circus biz. They've been around for a century, more or less, and a lot of them have been killed in their pursuit of daringness.
Nik Wallenda wasn't killed, and ABC's coverage of his stunt was strangely touching. Watch AFTER THE JUMP ...
At PS 195, in the Rosedale neighborhood of Queens, New York, 5th grader Kameron Slade did not deliver a speech supporting marriage equality in a school-wide speech contest on Friday. He did not deliver that speech even though he had written it, and even though he had previously won a qualifying in-class speech contest and been told he could speak to the school-wide assembly on any subject he wished. From NY1:
Kameron's mother said he was told to choose any topic, so he chose same-sex marriage. But on Wednesday, the principal said he should write another speech or be removed from the contest.
"She said that people have different opinions on it and that some parents may not want their children to learn about this type of topic," Kameron said.
Kameron's speech calls for acceptance and tolerance. It describes his mother's explanation of the issue and his impression of his mother's friends who are gay.
"They seemed happy," he said. "Best of all, they seemed to love each other. The only difference was that there were two moms instead of a mother and a father."
"It’s on the news," his mother said. "It’s a part our lives now. They need to open up. The New York City Department of Education need to open up."
And open up they have. After the story of Slade's speech-that-wasn't broke late last week, notices were sent to the parents of PS 195 informing them that Slade would deliver his speech in a "special assembly" on Monday. Hear the student discuss his brush with censorship here.
Jim Messina, former White House Deputy Chief of Staff and current Obama campaign manager, was the subject of a generally friendly profile in this week's Businessweek. But on the profile's fourth page, in reference to Jim Messina's tenure working for Sen. Max Bacaus, of Montana, readers find this:
Messina will go a long way to win, as the two leading stories from his Montana career suggest. Both involve the 2002 Senate race he ran for Baucus, a Democrat seeking reelection in a terrible year for Democrats. To protect Baucus, Messina had him refuse to participate in any debate that didn’t also include a fringe third-party candidate who’d inadvertently dyed his skin blue with homemade antibiotics—a guaranteed distraction.
The other story involved his Republican challenger, a state senator named Mike Taylor, who was the target of an ad so devastating it got national attention. The ad charged Taylor with having embezzled student loans from a cosmetology school he’d owned in the 1980s. But its force lay in the music and imagery. Set to a porn soundtrack, it featured snippets of an old television ad for Taylor’s hair salon that showed the candidate clad in a medallioned, open-shirted disco outfit, massaging lotion into another man’s face, and then appearing to reach toward the man’s crotch, as a narrator intoned, “Not the way we do business in Montana.”
“Jim is tough,” Baucus says. “I’ll never forget when he showed me that ad. We were in Bozeman in a motel. The curtains were drawn. He said, ‘Max, what do you think?’ They were afraid I wasn’t going to like it. I loved it!” Humiliated, Taylor quit the race, and Baucus sailed to victory. “I found out quickly from Messina that there was no honor in politics,” Taylor says in an e-mail.
The facial cream ad is a classic in the annals of political dirty-trickdom, as David Sirota points out at Salon:
... very few spots are so indelible as to be considered iconic, and almost all of those are national presidential ads, like the 1964 Johnson campaign’s “Daisy” spot; the 1988 Bush campaign’s racially charged “Revolving Door”; and the 2004Swift Boat Veterans for Truth attacks on John Kerry’s war record. Arguably the only congressional ad to ever reach such rarefied air was the 2002 Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spot against Montana Republican Senate nominee Mike Taylor.
Renowned in political circles, the ad set porno music to 20-year-old footage of a video from Taylor’s cosmetics business. The video showed Taylor in a leisure suit rubbing cream into another man’s face. As the spot faded to black, it showed Taylor then seeming to reach for the man’s crotch as a voice-over said “Mike Taylor — not the way we do business in Montana.”
Thanks to the deliberate choice of music, the footage of man-on-man physical contact and the voice-over message, the ad is considered the epitome of homophobic demagoguery — a spot ostensibly about Taylor’s Department of Education loans, but really designed to raise questions about Taylor’s sexuality in a culturally conservative state. Summarizing the national uproar over the ad, the Denver Post at the time noted that “only the most naive adult would miss the implication that Taylor is a homosexual” and that clearly “the supposedly inclusive Democrats deftly played on the right’s homophobia.”
... but is that so? The video is so cheese-tastic that it would be insane for a political opponent not to use it in a campaign ad. As to the porn-movie music -- what other music could this video possibly be set to? The moment a political ad features facial hair of this caliber, soundtrack options become somewhat limited.
Note: Joe Solmonese, former HRC president (and current Obama campaign co-chair) emailed Buzzfeed yesterday to defend Messina's LGBT rights cred:
"With the exception of the President himself, the LGBT community has had no greater champion or advocate within the administration than Jim Messina," Joe Solmonese, HRC president and Obama campaign's national co-chair emailed BuzzFeed. "In the fight to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell, I had the honor of working by Jim's side throughout the entire process. No one that I know was more proud of that accomplishment or more visibly moved on the day of its passage than Jim. I'm proud to call him a friend."
Watch the old Baucus ad AFTER THE JUMP ...
On Thursday, media outlets around San Diego reported a weird controversy involving a teacher, some porn, and a bunch of masturbating 7th graders. Deal was: One day last April, in an all-male English class at Bell Middle School in Paradise Hills, nine students began semi-surreptitiously streaming porn on their cell phones and masturbating beneath their desks. Other students say they complained to the attendant teacher, a Mr. Ed Johnson (pictured below), and Mr. Ed Johnson did nothing. He remained at his desk, reading a book. The students' complaints eventually made it to the school administration, and the masturbateurs were suspended. Curiously, Ed Johnson was not disciplined for allowing his class to devolve into Johnson Ed. Some school administrators, it seems, wished to discipline him, but the teacher's union was adamantly against it. They didn't wish to see a teacher disciplined based on hearsay -- even when the hearsay came in the form of 22 written statements from students who claimed to witness the incident.
But there was more to the story. Yesterday, the U-T San Diego reported that the porn-streaming was part of a kind of gayness-test designed by the students:
... The Watchdog reviewed written testimonials from 22 students. Their accounts said students in the all-boys English class wore gym shorts and watched certain videos in class. Whoever became aroused was labeled gay. Children masturbated openly in class, according to the statements, and peers complained of inaction by the teacher.
Although no action has yet been taken against Mr. Ed Johnson, the teacher's union is swiftly moving to ensure none is. From the U-T San Diego's initial report:
“Some of us are collecting signatures of support for Ed Johnson,” Bill Daniel, special education teacher and school site union representative, wrote in an email to colleagues on Friday. “We only want to support him as a friend and colleague. We are making no judgments. Our petition only states that there appears to be rush to judgment based on questionable statements made by very young children.
Vice Principal Kathleen Gallagher replied by email, “The statements submitted by students should not be discounted based on their age. The process of collecting statements and interviewing students was conducted consistent with district procedures, each one independently of every other one. Because nine of our students were suspended as a result of this incident, it is difficult for me to swallow the statement about not making judgments. Students were held accountable for their part of this problem.”