BY SAM GREISMAN
A look back at today's top stories
Sad news to report. Prominent AIDS activist Spencer Cox has passed away from AIDS-related causes. RIP.
Electoral wizard Nate Silver recently sat down with OUT Magazine and talked about many things including his sexuality; which he identifies as "sexually gay" but "ethnically straight". Also check out the the campaign video from Corey Johnson, the out gay candidate looking to replace Christine Quinn in New York City.
Today Ellen DeGeneres taped her show for the first time since the shootings in Newtown and dedicated it to the victims. NBC's The Voice also had a moving tribute prepared for the victims of the massacre.
Check out the adorable video for Cheyenne Jackson's "Don't Wanna Know". British band The xx hauntingly covers Wham's "Last Christmas" and all of YouTube's sensations from 2012 got together to remember the year in internet videos.
Instagram recently changed their Terms of Service and now they own the rights to all of your pictures. So be careful with those incriminating photos. Newly acquired New York Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard is in hot water for tweeting a homophobic slur relating to some crocs.
VIDEO OF THE DAY
A gay man in South Carolina finds himself in a tricky predicament in which he must find a way to come out to his wife. He's looking for advice, hopefully his wife hasn't stumbled across the video already.
PHOTO OF THE DAY: Darren Criss gives us a glimpse of the Glee Christmas Calendar.
BY NAVEEN KUMAR
“Words,” says one character in Melissa James Gibson’s new play at Atlantic Theatre Company, “are little f**kers.” What Rhymes With America, which opened Off Broadway last week, is the latest addition to Gibson’s body of deftly wrought dramas concerned with, among other things though perhaps above all, the efficacy of those ‘little f**kers’ in articulating slippery truths about human experience.
Gibson’s celebrated body of work includes her acclaimed play This, a wry drama about close friends ambling ponderously towards middle-age, which bowed Off Broadway at Playwrights Horizons in 2009, also under the direction of the scribe’s frequent collaborator Daniel Aukin.
As evidenced by its title—itself a question about language—What Rhymes is more overtly an exploration in articulation; together Gibson and Aukin take a less conventionally naturalistic approach than in previous outings. The play focuses acutely on the dynamics of isolation and intimacy among four characters, disparate in their lived experience but united in their individual struggles to answer life’s Looming Existential Questions.
The story that unfolds across Laura Jellinek’s mostly white set, suggestive of various spaces—a hospital room, a corridor, a stage door—is as fluidly imagined as the set itself. Attention rather centers on the often heartachingly funny and almost always hyper-articulate characters, pontificating to each other, yet mostly for the audience's benefit.
The building blocks of Gibson’s drama and dreamy style in which they’re assembled—familial estrangement, unlikely though surprisingly natural kinship, happenstance fumbling for sexual and emotional intimacy—may feel familiar to fans of indie filmmakers like Miranda July (Me and You and Everyone We Know) or Paul Thomas Anderson (Magnolia).
The talented cast, which includes scene stealer and Tony nominee Da’Vine Joy Randoloh (Ghost), and Atlantic Theatre ensemble member Chris Bauer, who stars as Andy Bellefleur on HBO’s True Blood, infuses their characters with nuanced emotional depth.
Though all excel at bringing that depth to the surface, Gibson’s somewhat loosely rendered narrative and Aukin’s itinerant staging often leave the superb performers unmoored at their most vulnerable. It’s a credit to the cast that while audiences may be moved by its performances, they may not always understand why from the story presented here.
Despite lacking the sort of intricacy with which her previous hit This was rendered, Gibson’s distinctive hand at doling out keen wit while tugging at heartstrings is very much on display here. Whether audiences are able to find footing amidst emotional peaks that at times seem ungrounded, Gibson’s shrewd insight into the shadows of mental life and her talent as a wordsmith are unmistakable.You can follow Naveen Kumar on Twitter @Mr_NaveenKumar.
Ben Affleck for U.S. Senate?
Instagram: "Thank you, and we're listening."
Ke$ha's "Die Young" pulled from radio following Sandy Hook shooting.
Someone's knocking you out with his American thighs.
Ireland to legalize abortion when the woman's life is at risk: "The Irish government has decided to repeal legislation that makes abortion a criminal act and to introduce regulations setting out when doctors can perform an abortion when a woman’s life is regarded as being at risk, including by suicide."
Rhode Island Senate leader commits to 2013 vote on marriage equality.
Tea Party leader: "Had George Zimmerman been at the front door instead of some mechanical card reader those children would still be alive."
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder says he'll veto a bill allowing guns in schools.
Scalia prompts examination of Catholic group 'Courage' and GLAAD has something to say to them: "if Courage wants LGBT people to stop making sexual orientation such a dominant part of their lives, then Roman Catholic leaders should stop making it such a dominant part of theirs. Stop firing employees like Al Fischer and Steav Bates-Congdon for being gay. Stop using pastoral care moments like the funeral of Barbara Johnson’s mother to tell gay people are unwelcome, even during the grieving process. Stop uninviting people like Dominic Sheahan-Stahl from speaking at Catholic schools because they happen to be gay, even if they have no plans to speak about it."
Michael Pitt gets surreal for Bullett magazine.
Blabbeando: Anatomy of Colombia's gay Nativity scene controversy.
Lee Hirsch's Bully documentary wins Stanley Kramer Award from the Producer's Guild.
Canada's first openly gay senator dies at 83: "In 1988, Laurier LaPierre publicly declared his sexual orientation at an event on Parliament Hill, and thereafter became an increasingly vocal advocate for the rights of gay citizens across the country."
Madonna's MDNA tour is the highest-grossing of 2012.
Uganda gets new Anglican archbishop: "We’re not going to kill them. (unintelligible) because we didn’t kill them in the past. We are not going to persecute them. We are not going to marginalize them. But there should be no promotion, and sex here is confidential."
Matthew Rettenmund interviews Grammy nominee Janis Ian.
Cyndi Lauper to appear on Happily Divorced with Fran Drescher: Photo.
Glee's Jacob Artist offers up some nip.
Tim Scott, who is set to replace Jim DeMint in the Senate, believes Christians are a minority under assault. "Over the last 17 years of public service, I have seen the concept of faith tested time and time again. The greatest minority under assault today are Christians. No doubt about it."
Michael Kors leaving Project Runway, will be replaced by Zac Posen.
Ryan Lochte gives good interview.
Chris Kluwe becomes an Athlete Ally ambassador.
Lady Gaga enrages PETA with fur purchase: "The 'Poker Face' singer is said to have bought a Russian sable coat worth about $210,000, as well as a silver fox coat valued around $19,600 at the Helen Yarmak store in Moscow."
New York Post, Daily Caller claim Hillary Clinton is faking a concussion: "'I have the measles and the mumps / A gash, a rash and purple bumps,' said Clinton, in effect, informing the House and Senate (with regrets!) that she was suffering too many maladies to testify as expected about the Sept. 11 attack in Libya."
NRA Promises 'Meaningful Contributions' to End Gun Violence in First Statement Since Newtown Shooting
The National Rifle Association released its first statement since the Newtown school shooting:
The National Rifle Association of America is made up of four million moms and dads, sons and daughters – and we were shocked, saddened and heartbroken by the news of the horrific and senseless murders in Newtown.
Out of respect for the families, and as a matter of common decency, we have given time for mourning, prayer and a full investigation of the facts before commenting.
The NRA is prepared to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again.
The group says it will be holding a press conference on December 21.
Gun Control and the Dangers of Radical Libertarianism [tlrd]
Spencer Cox, the pivotal AIDS activist who co-founded ACT-UP and TAG (Treatment Action Group) and was featured in David France's recent documentary How to Survive a Plague, has died at Columbia Presbyterian of AIDS related causes, France writes in a note:
As a very young man fresh from Bennington, where he studied Theater and English Literature, he arrived in NYC after finishing just 3 years. He was diagnosed with HIV soon thereafter. By 1989, at age 20, he had become spokesman for ACT UP during its zenith through the early 90s. A member of its renowned Treatment & Data committee, and later co-founder of TAG (the Treatment Action Group), he schooled himself in the basic science of AIDS and became something of an expert, a "citizen scientist" whose ideas were sought by working scientists. In the end, Spencer wrote the drug trial protocol which TAG proposed for testing the promising protease inhibitor drugs in 1995. Adopted by industry, it helped develop rapid and reliable answers about the power of those drugs, and led to their quick approval by the FDA.
Even before ACT UP, he began work for amfAR, first as a college intern, eventually going on staff as assistant to Director of Public Affairs, responsible for communications and policy. He left there to co-found the Community Research Initiative on AIDS (now the AIDS Community Research Initiative of America, ACRIA) with Dr. Joseph Sonnabend and Marisa Cardinale. At ACRIA, he ran public affairs and edited all publications.
From 1994 to 1999, he was Director of the HIV Project for TAG, where he did his groundbreaking work in drug trials designs. He designed the drug trial adopted in part by Abbott as they were developing Norvir, the first Protease Inhibitor to head into human trials. It had an "open standard-of-care arm," allowing people on the control arm to take any other anti-AIDS drugs their doctors prescribed, versus the arm taking any other anti-AIDS drugs plus Norvir. It was this study that showed a 50% drop in mortality in 6 months. Norvir was approved in late 1995. Though the results were positive, the proposal sharply divided the community, many of whom thought it was cruel to withhold Norvir on the control arm. Spencer defended himself in a controversial BARON'S coverstory that made him, briefly, the most-hated AIDS activist in America. Ultimately he was vindicated.
Watch the final interview with Spencer Cox shot by David France for his moving documentary, AFTER THE JUMP...
"What I learned from that is that miracles are possible. Miracles happen, and I wouldn't trade that for anything. I wouldn't trade that information for anything. I don't know what's going to happen. I don't know what'd going to happen day to day. I don't know what's going to happen next year. I just now, you keep going. You keep evolving and you keep progressing, you keep hoping until you die. Which is going to happen someday. You live your life as meaningful as you can make it. You live it and don't be afraid of who is going to like you or are you being appropriate. You worry about being kind. You worry about being generous. And if it's not about that what the hell's it about?"
Ellen DeGeneres made a special dedication at the opening of her show today.
"Today we’re taping our first show since the events that took place in Connecticut,. My goal for this show every day is to make you happy and make you feel good for an hour. I want it to be a safe zone. I want it to be light and filled with joy. I want you to know that you can watch with your family. It won’t be mean or sad. I want it to be uplifting and I want to celebrate all that’s good in life. And we’re gonna do the show today, but it’s gonna be a struggle cause my heart is broken for those families and for all the people in Newtown. We’re holding you in our hearts. And today’s show is dedicated to you."
Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...