A Welcome and a Definition

Culture Vulture: "A person with a strong, sometimes obsessive, interest in the arts." Culture Vultures spend a lot of time observing the world. This is where those observations come out.

Monday, December 6, 2010


Right off the bat, I want to say I am a huge Ginsberg fan. I've read Howl and Other Poems several times, as well as Kaddish. I also read some of his latter, not as popular poems, as well as a biography. Like many young gay boys, reading Ginsberg was a revelation for me.

Most movies about writers and writing are never actually about the writing itself. They focus on the writer's life, including lovers, friends, and possibly what drove them to write/ be crazy/ whatever salacious details are available.

Howl is not like that. Much of the movie is the author reciting "Howl" as animation illuminates the poem. This is intercut between three different scenes: Allen Ginsburg reciting the poem at a bar, Ginsburg being interviewed about the poem, and the trial against City Light Books for publishing "pornography." The movie jumped around a lot, but was the pace wasn't too much that I could not keep up.

James Franco continues to impress me as an actor. Even though I like Franco, I was hesitant when I heard he was playing Ginsburg. However, James had obviously studied Ginsberg's mannerisms and the way he spoke intensely. His portrayal was really seamless.

My biggest issue with the film was minor to the film but major to Ginsberg's life. The movie portrays him as having a very loving relationship with Peter Orvolsky. While they were together a long time, they actually had a very tumultuous open relationship. But as one of my friends pointed out, it made an nice arc for the movie. I also feel like some of the animation moved rather quickly and I didn't get the full effect. It might be better having sat through multiple viewings.

Great movie, definitely worth the trip to the theater. 4 and half stars.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Actually Love...

I always feel a little odd telling people that Love Actually is one of my favorite Christmas movies. As Christmas movies go, it's a non-traditional one. No one tries to save Christmas. Santa Claus is not a main player in the movie. No one finds out what life would be like if they had never been born. In fact, Christmas is more of a backdrop to the movie.

However, here are the reasons I find it to be an enduring classic. Let me just say this first: for the most part, my friends are not religious. In fact, I have many friends who consider themselves atheists/ agnostics. However, all my friends celebrate Christmas in some form. While that might sound odd to many people, I really don't think of it that way. As a good friend of mine recently told me, "What other time of the year do we celebrate the best things about being human?"

The movie weaves several stories together of people's lives around Christmas. The stories are almost too numerous to mention; however, all of the storylines form around a relationship. There are many well-known actors as well: Colin Firth, Hugh Grant, Laura Linney, Emma Thompson, just to name a few.

For me, Christmas has always been about love. Love for the people in your life, love for mankind, the love of just being alive. Love Actually captures that more so than any other Christmas movie I've ever seen. The movie shows love in many forms: old love, new love, platonic love, sexual love, even unrequited love. None of it is easy or simple. I tend to enjoy movies more that show love as a complicated endeavor, instead of the overwrought fairy tale of many rom coms.

Love this movie, love this movie! Grab someone you love and watch it (again) this holiday season!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Oprah isn't the only one with favorite things...

Been on a bit of a holiday hiatus but I'm officially back! This week, Oprah brought out her favorite things. I am not really a Oprah fan, but I thought it would a good time to unveil MY favorite things in time for the holidays! This is what I am looking forward to this holiday season:

1) Me by Ricky Martin
Ricky Martin has always been a bit of a guilty pleasure for me. He's hot, Latin, and has great music. I am definitely curious to read his autobiography and found out what makes him tick.

2) Pink Martini Joy to the World
Pink Martini's music is so light and great, of course they had to make a holiday album. I'm looking forward to hearing this. As if it couldn't get any better, Ari Shapiro sings on several tracks!

3) The Complete Golden Girls 25th Anniversary Set
I won't lie, it's all about getting Sophia's purse! (The box set comes in a bamboo purse a la Sophia Petrillo).

4) Howl
I love Allen Ginsberg. I love James Franco. I was a little concerned that these two great tastes would not go great together, but the previews look good! I have to see it in the theater.

5) Beaujolais Nouveau
Technically, wine is not usually a culture I discuss on this blog. However, I always look forward to the arrival of the beaujolais nouveau wine that is usually only available between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I will be drinking a glass with my Thanksgiving turkey!

Enjoy your holiday!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Halloween Hiatus

Just wanted to leave a note and say things have been a little crazy lately! All the chaos leaves little time for culture vulturing. But I plan to return to blogging soon! Have a happy and safe Halloween!! <3

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Waiting for Superman

I know I promised a couple posts on my favorite geniuses, but I wanted to pause and talk about a movie that came out this weekend. Tonight I attended a preview of Waiting for Superman, the documentary that goes in depth about the US public school system. This movie has already generated a lot of buzz because of its frank talk about schools. As someone who teaches in community colleges and wants to teach high school soon, I was very interested in seeing it.

The movie starts off by following various families (mostly living in urban areas, one in the suburbs) looking out to try to get a good education for their children. One student, Daisy, just wants to go to college and become either a doctor or a vet. The movie outlines the problems facing the various students' districts and their schools. The movie makes a very valid wide point that I think many people are not aware: not all high school diplomas are created equally. The education a student gets in School A might be very different from School B 10 miles down the road.

Some of the points the movie makes are very valid; others seemed a little unfair to me. The movie spends a significant amount of time discussing the ins and outs of the teacher unions, and definitely does not paint them in a favorable light. The idea of teacher tenure also comes under fire, basically saying all it does is protect bad teachers. I tend to feel like too much emphasis lately seems to be placed on these "bad teachers," that somehow getting rid of them would fix everything. This seems like more myth than fact to me and I think it is for most teachers. While I'm sure there are some truly bad teachers out there, I doubt it's as widespread as the movie purports.

The movie particularly talks about the Washington DC school system, considered the worst in the nation. The movie talks a lot about the efforts of Michelle Rhee, the now former Chancellor of the DC school system. Many of her efforts for big changes get blocked, despite all the issues of the DC schools. (Rhee has recently resigned, her 3 year term being the longest one served by any recent Chancellor). Her number 1 enemy portrayed in the doc? Teacher unions.

One solution the movie emphasizes is charter schools. The movie says that charters are trying to fix many of these issues; however, there's a catch. When a charter school gets more applicants than spaces (which happens every year), a lottery is held for the students to decide who gets admitted to the charters. In the most heartbreaking scene, each of the students profiled sits in a large auditorium/ gymnasium waiting for their number to be called. This is their only break of getting out of their current situation. While I am amazed this goes on at all, I have to say the slanted nature of this troubled me. I am a product of a magnet program (which the doc touched on but dismissed), a program that is based on merit alone. Portraying the fact that the ONLY way to get a good education outside of a private school is left to a crap shoot seemed unfair and one-sided.

Despite my misgivings, I would definitely recommend seeing it. I do think this movie will be creating further buzz, and I think it anyone with a stake in the education system should have some knowledge about it.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Geniuses of History

Enough standing on the soapbox, back to being the Culture Vulture! In the class that I'm teaching, we are currently discussing the Renaissance. I thought this was the opportunity to talk about my one of my favorite people of history, Leonardo da Vinci. Da Vinci is one of three people in history I truly admire; the other two being Benjamin Franklin and Abraham Lincoln. I am always hesitant to tell people I admire these three people because they are all well-known historical figures. But I think many people don't realize exactly how unique these individuals were and why they are forever remembered in history. So I thought what a good idea for a mini-series of posts. My next couple posts will be talking about WHY I think you should enjoy these men as much as I do. Coming soon!

National Coming Out Day

Monday Oct 11th is National Coming Out Day. I make no secret on this blog that I am an openly gay male. I have been lucky though; I had a lot of support from friends and family when I came out. I can honestly say no one close to me ever paused or had doubt that I was no longer the person they thought I was. But I know many people who are not that fortunate. With all the news of GLBT teen suicide, I think National Coming Out Day is more important than ever. As a society, we have to let go of the shame and allow people to be who they are. October 11 is one step towards this.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Sex and the Screen

In a recent interview, Kaley Cuoco, who plays Penny on the TV show The Big Bang Theory, revealed that she and Johnny Galecki (Leonard) dated for two years. Of course, many fans of the show will know that Penny and Leonard have had an on-again/ off-again relationship. This tidbit of news got me thinking again about the blurred line where sex on-screen translate into sex off-screen and how that affects the movie or TV show.

There seems to be an adage that sex off-screen almost never translate into good chemistry on-screen. Possibly the most notable example of that was the movie Gigli, known by many to be the worst movie to come out recently. Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck played a couple on screen, and were possibly starting a romance off screen. The movie and the relationship were both major flops. One of my favorite actors, Cary Grant, never had a relationship with any of his many leading ladies. Some people say that helped add to the chemistry of his films.

However, I can not go so far as to say it is always a bad thing for a film or show. On Designing Women, Dixie Carter's husband Hal Holbrook, played Reece Watson, Julia Sugarbaker's boyfriend. Delta Burke actually met her husband Gerald McRaney when he played Suzanne's ex-husband on the show.

This also brings up a similar controversy: If an actor is openly gay, can the audience ever accept him/ her as a straight character? There was a controversial article a few months ago printed by Newsweek on the topic. I think the biggest counter to that argument is Neal Patrick Harris, who plays the very straight Barney on How I Met Your Mother. Harris is well-loved on the show, but also is considered a notable figure in gay Hollywood. It seems to me if he can do it, others should be able to as well. No one questions Jake Gyllenhaal playing gay in Brokeback Mountain, or Eric McCormack playing gay Will in Will & Grace. It seems like it would work both ways. However, the argument persists, often from gay actors like Rupert Everett.

As for BBT, I don't think Kaley and Johnny's relationship seemed to affect anything on screen. At best, it's an interesting side note of the show. However, it's interesting to note their relationship seemed to fizzle out right around the time Penny and Leonard's did.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Were they? Were there not?

I posted about a month ago about my love for Cary Grant and touched his rather complicated relationship with Randolph Scott. Grant and Scott lived together for most of the 1930s and tended to be rather open that they were more than friends. However, Michael Musto did a column showcasing some of fan photos! Even in the naive 30s, they must have raised a few eyebrows.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

My, that's a big brain you have....

Some people say the most important sex organ is the brain. While I'm not completely sure about that, I know I think it's sexy when someone I like actually acts like he has a brain. Really, charm is only charming for about 15 minutes, then you need to actually know something. For a change of pace, I thought I would list some of my favorite hotties who would stimulate your brain as well. In no particular order:

1) Ari Shapiro

When I said in no particular order, I admit I was lying a little because Ari is definitely number one. Besides being the White Correspondent for NPR and an openly gay man, Ari also moonlights as a singer for the group Pink Martini. He does serious news stories but also doesn't shy away from doing pieces about and beneficial to the gay community. He can also be fabulous when needed, as everyone saw when NPR spoofed Lady Gaga's Telephone. Ari is indeed, darn near perfect. *sigh*

2) Gavin Newsom

I think many a gay man has a crush on Gavin Newsom. The mayor of San Francisco, Newsom is currently running as Lieutenant Governor of California. Newsom become well-known for taking openly flouting the gay marriage ban in California, and marrying people in City Hall. Newsom has actually made gay rights an important platform to his candidacy, despite being "openly straight" (not that we hold it against him). It's always nice to have a good-looking face attached to your cause.

3) Andrew Ross Sorkin

Unless you tend to be an avid watcher of news shows, you may have never heard of Andrew Ross Sorkin. He's a reporter for the New York Times and wrote the widely popular Too Big to Fail, about the situations that led up to the Wall Street bailouts. I think he's got a nerdy-hot thing going and he's appeared on both The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, which totally ramps up his cache. When I googled his name to find this picture, the related searches they listed were "Andrew Ross Sorkin wife" and "Andrew Ross Sorkin shirtless" so I must not be the only person who thinks he's sexy.

4) Jay Brannan

Jay Brannan has made a cult following of fans by singing angst-ridden ballads usually associated with women's folk music. Brannan is also well-known for his appearance in the movie Shortbus, a John Cameron Mitchell movie. He's as talented as he is hot. I recently saw him for the first time in concert and was really impressed. He literally made me a fan overnight.

5) Anderson Cooper

You can't do a list of brainy hotties and not mention AC. He's practically the poster boy. He is smart, and travels to the third world countries to cover disasters and also fights injustice with his CNN show. And to the top it all off, he looks totally hot doing it. What's left to say?

I'll give you a moment to wipe the drool off your keyboard...

Friday, September 10, 2010

Clarissa Explains it All

Unless you were an avid watcher of the Food Network between 1999-2003, you have probably never heard of Clarissa Dickson Wright, one half of the duo known as the Two Fat Ladies, stars of a cult cooking series by the same name. On the show, Clarissa and her partner in crime, Jennifer Paterson would travel around England cooking for in various locales. It was very funny and very British.

One of their signatures was making this hideous British food ladened with enough butter and cream to clog a canal. In the clip above for instance, they make kedgeree, a weird combo of fish, curry, rice and cream that was popular for breakfast (yes I said breakfast!) in imperial India. Sadly, Jennifer Paterson died rather unexpectedly in 2000 and the series was canceled.

I finally was able to get a copy of Spilling the Beans, Clarissa's memoir that came out a few years back. Even if you have never heard the name Clarissa Dickson Wright, the book is a fascinating read. Clarissa was born into an affluent family of power and money but was plagued by an abusive father. She became a barrister (a form of lawyer) just to spite her surgeon father. When her mother died suddenly, she took solace in alcohol and drank away a promising career and a large inheritance. After the life of her life died unexpectedly, she finally managed to sober up and worked as a domestic for various households (many less affluent than the one she grew up in). Cooking for a living brought her back to life, and created the second act of her life as a well-known cook and television personality.

To give you some idea how much Clarissa drank, years after she got sober she was diagnosed with ailments related to quinine poisoning. The quinine poisoning came from drinking tonic water, mixed with her gin. To get quinine poisoning from tonic water, you would have to drink gallons of it for years on end.

Clarissa doesn't pull any punches, she's mostly upfront about her issues. She's a little diplomatic with The Two Fat Ladies years and her relationship with Jennifer Paterson but that's seems to be the norm in these memoirs. Many people I think are afraid to "break the magic." Other than that, definitely worth a read, especially if you enjoyed the Ladies as I did.

Monday, September 6, 2010

End of the Summer

Today is Labor Day, traditionally the end of summer season. I tried to create a little end-of-summer reading list for myself about a month ago. While I am always reading something, I thought I would try to do something a little more formal this time around. My life has been in major upheaval lately (I had to move unexpectedly and still don't have a permanent place to live), so I fell a little short of my reading goals. Here's a little breakdown of what I read and did not read:

Sellevision (Augusten Burroughs): I've mentioned in a recent post about my love of Burroughs, yet I had never read his only published novel. I had very mixed reviews of the book and was not sure what to expect. However, I was so drawn in I read the book in 2 sittings. The novel is about various characters who are hosts on a TV shopping channel called Sellevision. I think some of my love for the novel stemmed from a brief fascination I had with HSN and QVC as a young teenager (That was painful to admit, by the way!). There's a lot of sarcastic and dark humor that pervades the novel, making it a clever take on consumerist culture.

Magical Thinking (Burroughs): This was actually a reread. I think this is one of Burrough's most underrated books. It's a collection of essays which draws from more from Burroughs as an adult than as a child, unlike many of his previous books. My favorite essay is "Mark the Shrink," about his relationship with a therapist.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time (Mark Haddon): I have a small confession to make: I am actually still reading this book. I had heard about this book and several people had recommended it to me, but I did not know that much about it. However, now that I am reading it, I understand why people like it. This novel tells the story of Christopher, a severely autistic teenager who is accused of killing his neighbor's dog. The book is told exclusively from Christopher's perspective, and gives some interesting insights about autism. I love when I can learn about a topic I know very little about through a novel or a movie and this one fits that criteria.

Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand): I thought I would have more time than I did when I borrowed my mother's copy of Atlas, hoping to fill a knowledge gap of never having read a word of Rand. Unfortunately, a whole host of events in my life and the intimidating size of tome caused me to never open the book. I am taking classes this fall, as well as teaching a new class, so I am not sure I will get to it any time soon.

Sunday, August 29, 2010


Sorry for the lack of updates lately. Life has been a little out of control lately. However, I did have a moment this weekend to take in the new Edward Gorey exhibit at the Orlando Museum of Art. Before I went, I knew very little about Gorey, other than his popular works such as The Doubtful Guest and The Gashlycrumb Tinies. I went with a friend of mine and several of his artist friends, which always fun for me. I love getting the opinions of people with a more technical eye for art, music, or whatever, as they usually pick up on things I overlook. One person in our group knew a lot about Gorey, so I got some extra insight on the man himself.

Many people tend to think of Gorey's work as dark and Gothic, but I could not help but notice a certain whimsy in what he did. I like that his work never takes itself too seriously. It's not heavy, but there is a certain gravity to it. The exhibits often included the books, so the illustrations had context. Another thing everyone marveled at was Gorey's ability to do the detail in his drawings. His drawings are so small, and all the work looks so fine and delicate. The other interesting thing about the outing was learning more about Gorey himself. To say he was eccentric was to put it mildly. Some interesting facts about Gorey:

*He was a voracious reader. When he died, his house in Cape Cod was filled with volume upon volume of books he had read over the years.

*He was a major recluse, as well as single his entire adult life. Once when asked who/what was the great love of his life, he replied "cats." He always owned cats, and even did illustrations for a volume of T.S. Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats.

*He did the costumes and scenery for the 1977 Broadway production of Dracula.

*He was obsessed with the ballet, and attended every production of the New York City ballet while he lived there.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sedaris vs. Burroughs

I was having a conversation with friends about going to see David Sedaris when he comes to town to speak next year. I casually mentioned that I wasn't sure I wanted to go, and added I much prefer Augusten Burroughs. My friends basically replied to me that Augusten Burroughs wrote one fabulous book and several terrible ones. Au contraire, I said! This got me thinking about the merits and demerits of both authors.

Sedaris: Now I will give Sedaris credit for basically being the first commercial writer in contemporary times to write these confessional essays/ novels. I think, as a society, we've become more confessional, and his books came out just as we made that leap. Sedaris' work is consistently good. While many people hold up Naked or Me Talk Pretty One Day as his best works, pretty much all his work is on par. However, I think his work can be too staid sometimes. He is very mainstream because he is confessional but it doesn't really offend. I don't think Sedaris really pushes the boundaries often.

Burroughs: Okay, everyone knows Running with Scissors was wonderful (However, don't watch the movie!). I will agree with my friends the point that nothing Burroughs wrote so far has stood up to Running. However, I have to disagree that nothing else he wrote was notable. My second favorite by him is Magical Thinking, which is more a collection of essays than a memoir. I also enjoyed Dry but that may have been because I read it first, before Running. I think that is the biggest problem with Burroughs: he released his best book first, so everything pales in comparison.

One thing I do appreciate about Burroughs is his ability to take some horrific events and writes about them in a such a way that shows the humor in them. He can be macabre, but I think for the most part, it works well. Sometimes his quality does fluctuate (I just barely got through Wolf at the Table), but I think overall his genius separates him from Sedaris.

I know I am in the minority on this, so feel free to leave a comment and respond.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Drama on the Potomac

I have been waiting for the arrival of The Real Housewives of DC every since the crashing of the White House state dinner. I mean, seriously, the other Housewives have had drama, but so far this is first show to cause an incident where the Secret Service got involved. I thought I would watch last night's episode and get reeled in enough to keep watching. However, I didn't know I would get hooked from the first episode! So here's my opinions so far:

Mary: I can't say I have a favorite yet, but I think odds are my favorite DC housewife will be Mary. She's equal parts socialite and super mom, and manages to look fabulous doing it all. She had some funny moments last night, including getting drunk at her own birthday and going on to Stacie about integrating salons! She should be fun to watch.

Stacie seems cool, but I didn't get a good read on her role in the show. I like Stacie so far, but I don't know if that will last.

Cat: Cat, the newcomer to DC, did not come across very well her first episode. He acted snooty at the polo tournament, and bashed Obama (also her husband's boss) to a room of black people. Also, some of her stories didn't quite add up: her husband is supposed to be close to her husband, yet he didn't RSVP to her wedding? Also, why was she so insistent about her opinion about Tyra Banks to a man who had worked for her? So far, I don't like Cat.

Lynda: Like Stacie, I am on the fence about Lynda. On the one hand, I can appreciate her love for large black men (like Lisa Lampanelli!) and she did have the funniest line of the show: "I wouldn't show my face at that goat rodeo!" On the other hand, she acted a little snooty in places and seemed overly insistent about another housewife's eating disorder. Which brings me to:

Michaele: I think many people who watched the show last night where curious just to see the antics of Michaele Salahi AKA the woman who crashed a White House state dinner. The rumor is she did it simply to ensure her spot on the show. Just when I thought Bravo had served up crazy in all forms, Michaele seems to be a whole new form of it! Not only was she hugging everyone who came in contact with her, she told more than one person "I love you," including her stylist. In a preview clip, she laments at the White House dinner that she can't hug the president. She's very adamant about not having an eating disorder, despite never really saying what she does eat. The weird thing is I usually cringe while watching the crazies, but I actually like Michaele.

We'll see how the season goes! Should be juicy!

Thursday, July 29, 2010


Cary and Randolph
I have to admit I've been on a bit of a Cary Grant kick lately. It started when I watched My Favorite Wife on TV about a week ago. That led me to want to reread Marc Eliot's Cary Grant: A Biography and watch a few of his movies courtesy of Netflix.

Now I have loved Grant for several years. I have a picture of him hanging in my bedroom (the only celeb I ever had hanging on a wall in my life.) I think part of me has always wanted to absorb a bit of Grant into my personality. I think many gay men are drawn to Grant because he was the sexy, urbane wit onscreen many hope to be. Also, his romantic movies often reversed the usual sexual roles: he was often the object of desire and was pursued by the female lead. On top of that, gay rumors followed him for decades.

The biography paints a different person than the sexy onscreen persona. Abandoned at a young age by his mother, Grant is plagued by massive insecurities for most of his life. Preferring the company of men to women for at least the first half of his life, Grant seemed unable to make a relationship work with anyone. He was given to fits of loneliness and would often hole himself in his house for days after a serious break-up. Unlike his persona, he was a man of simply tastes. His favorite hobby was going to the horse races.

Ironically, the relationship Grant had that seemed to last the longest was not with one of his wives (he had 5), but with fellow actor Randolph Scott. Scott is mostly known as a B actor who did westerns in the 1950s. He also appeared with Grant in My Favorite Wife. I have always been fascinated by the relationship between Grant and Scott. The book portrays their relationship as multi-layered: more than friends, but not quite committed lovers, they obviously shared a deep connection to one another. Many people think too much was made of the Grant/Scott relationship, that they simply lived together as was customary to many movies stars. However, Grant and Scott lived together for a total of 11 years, and would often be photographed together at events. This happened so often, the studios became supplying them with female "escorts," young actresses to go on the town with them so it looked like a double date.

During his relationship and subsequent marriage to first wife Virginia Cherrill, there was almost a rivalry for Grant's affections between Cherrill and Scott. After Cherrill and Grant divorced, Grant moved back in with Scott and lived with him until just before his 2nd marriage to Barbara Hutton. Scott, meanwhile, had married Marion Somerville, who preferred life at her ranch in Virginia, allowing Scott to continue life in California with Grant. Scott and Grant had a falling out, on top of pressure by the studios about their unusual relationship, and "broke up" around 1940.

Some random facts about Cary Grant:

*Prior to becoming famous, Grant worked as stilt walker with a traveling stage troupe.
* In the 1930s, he had a dog named Archie Leach, his name prior to becoming a movie star.
* His 2nd wife Barbara Hutton was the heiress to the Woolworth fortune. The press dubbed them "Cash and Cary." Hutton was married a total of 7 times, and died penniless in 1979.
*His famous experimentation with LSD therapy was actually a way for him to deal with the emotional detachment issues he had his entire life.
*Grant never won an Oscar for any of his films. In 1970, he was finally honored by the academy with a Honorary Oscar for his body of work.
*There was a 47 year age difference between Grant and fifth wife, Barbara Harris.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Jane Austen's Fight Club

I don't know who did this but I love them for it...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Fortunate Ones

As a rule, I don't usually read contemporary novels, outside of a few authors I consistently enjoy. However, I am often drawn to novels about people coming into their own within the context of a very certain time, a very certain place. (I may have mentioned I love movies and books with a strong sense of place.)

In my rereading kick, I recently picked up A Fortunate Age by Joanna Smith Rakoff, a novel that came out about a year ago. The book follows the lives of Lil Roth, Sadie Peregrine, Beth Bernstein, Tal Morgenthal, Dave Kohane, and Emily Kaplan, a group of friends living in New York City and takes place mostly between 1998 and 2002. They all met when they attended and graduated from Oberlin College. Each is born to a prosperous family, and each tries to get away from their own affluence to become musicians, actors, artists, or English professors. The novel captures the jaded prosperity of the late 90s, leading into the sobering up of America with 9/11.

The book opens with the marriage of Lil Roth to Tuck Hayes, a man relatively unknown to the rest of the group. Lil is the first to get married or even embrace any real notion of commitment among the group. While I cannot say Lil is the main character in the book, her disastrous marriage to egotistical slacker Tuck coupled with her strange behavior, often makes her a topic of conversation among the others. The novel also opens and closes with events around Lil. My favorite quote about Lil:

She was a perfect, devoted obsessively attentive friend who could spend hours dissecting Emily's or Sadie's or Dave's problems; who always remembered birthdays and bought too many perfectly chosen gifts; who would meet for coffee at the drop of a hat- and yet over the years somehow those virtues had hardened into something akin to flaws. The light of her affection shined too brightly for any one friend to bear...

Besides Lil, each friend "grows up," moving beyond their own hang-ups and neuroses to finally embrace a more adult life. This seems perfectly set up with pre-9/11 New York City, when people were rather jaded in their own affluence. September 11, 2001 becomes a subtle turning point for all the characters. Sadie says about her life before when she finds herself unexpectedly pregnant: "Everything just feels so pointless. . . . It’s all, like, where are we going to eat for dinner? What movie are we going to see? . . . There’s no urgency to anything. No reason for anything.”

My only criticism for the book that when each character makes the leap into adulthood, it all looks the same: urban NYC parents with spouse, kids and a co-op. It would have been more interesting if one or two of them had grown into something slightly different, yet still resembling a more responsible life. 2 1/2 stars

Friday, July 16, 2010

Gay Boys and Broken Hearts

The first time I saw The Broken Hearts Club, I was on the cusp of coming out of the closet. It was a movie that always stuck in my mind a) some of it I could really relate to and b) I found it a little depressing. I tended to avoid it for a long time but finally decided to watch it again.

The movie follows the various storylines of a group of gay men. Each has had his own issues with love and commitment and wanting more from life than simply partying and being gay. The movie was noteworty for a several reasons. First it portrayed gay men slightly different from the AIDS victims and style gurus that had overtaken Hollywood movies in the 90s. Also, the cast was many noteworthy actors, including John Mahoney, Timothy Olyphant, Dean Cain, and then-unknown Zach Braff. Because of all this, I really wanted to like the movie now. On some level, I kind of do. However, it falls short of being gay cinema magic.

There's a telling scene in the movie where Benji (Zach Braff as a bottle blond) is at "gay therapy" AKA the hairdresser, and he mentions this documentary he saw on TV about a tribe of monkeys who live together peacefully all year long until mating season comes, then they tear each to shreds trying to get the best mate. Benji basically equates his group of friends to these monkeys. This mentality is evident when Kevin gets introduced to the group. Kevin is a co-worker of Benji, who brings him around because Benji has a crush on Kevin. Kevin is a "newbie," or newly out. However, Kevin gets stolen away by Cole (Dean Cain), a slightly narcissistic pretty boy actor. Cole drops Kevin (as he does all his other dates) and Kevin ends up hooking up with Dennis (Timothy Olyphant).

In the movie, each of them seems to live life only at the surface, and not really getting invested in real relationships, even with each other. The only constant in everyone's life is Jack (John Mahoney), the older gay man who runs the Broken Hearts restaurant, where they all hang out and some of them also work. Towards the end, they are brought closer by tragedy, ultimately causing Dennis (the main focus of the movie) to reassess his life and make some changes.

I was always taught to give compliments first because it makes criticism easier to take. There are certain scenes and ideas that I liked and could relate. For instance in one scene, Dennis is walking with Kevin, discussing coming out and how his father died just before he came out. Dennis says: "My one regret is that he never knew me." Kevin says "Well, he knew you on some level, I mean..." and Dennis stops him, "No, he never knew me!" That scene hit me because it made me think about how much of my personality I suppressed in order to stay closeted. Even though being gay is not all I am, I would definitely feel the same way. Another sub storyline I enjoyed was Cole's relationship with closeted actor and leading man Kip Rogers (played by Michael Bergin, who I totally forgot about, him and his hotness). I like the jabs at the Hollywood closet.

I think what stops me from embracing this movie completely is how there seems to be no deeper connections among the characters until the end. Each of them seems trapped in their own neuroses and "stuff" and can not let even their friends in deeper than a surface relationship. An example of this is how Jack's partner never says very much, but is always at the baseball games Jack sponsors. The partner is usually dressed completely in purple, so he is referred by the group as Purple Guy. This seems evident of the surface relationships: if they really felt close to Jack, why do they only know his partner as Purple Guy? Also, the ending never comes across as the uplifting now things have changed feeling that I think the movie is trying to convey. I have to resent this portrayal of gay men slightly, showing the usual shallow side of sex and partying that permeated Queer as Folk and many gay movies. I think this movie will always make me feel conflicted. 2 1/2 stars.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Kissing Jessica and Hedwig

Inspired by a recent blog post from my friend Stephen, I got to thinking about soul mates, and why people love who they love. I really have always thought the idea of soul mates is way more complicated than people usually think. As a chronically single person, I can safely say I am not even close to understanding how that other fits or will ever fit into my life. However, the topic and pop culture that discusses it always fascinates me. The two movies that I feel best relate the complicated world love can create are Hedwig and the Angry Inch and Kissing Jessica Stein. I will admit both of these movies have a queer bent to them, but then again so do I.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch: The movie opens with Hedwig talking about her lifelong search for her other, as shown by her tattoo: two halves that went put together will form a whole, a complete circle. This idea is set up nicely in the "Origin of Love," that love is really a search for a loss all of us suffered some time ago. (Side note: the Origin of Love comes from the Plato's Symposium and was attributed to Aristophanes in the work. It's also one of the earliest mentions of homosexuality in Western culture.)

Hedwig thinks she has found her other twice in her life: once, with her ex-husband Luther Robinson, the American GI who marries her and gets her out of East Berlin. The second time is her lover and protege, Tommy Gnosis. However, the movie alludes to the fact that neither ever loves her completely. Luther makes it go through her botched surgery to create the "Angry Inch" and then promptly leaves her (for a man no less!) In a rather emotional scene, Tommy and Hedwig get intimate when Tommy suddenly pulls back when he realizes she is not completely a woman. Hedwig screams at him "Love the front of me!" Tommy and Hedwig eventually break up, only to cause Tommy to climb higher and cause Hedwig to fall even further. She is deep into her tour and her obsession with Tommy when the movie opens.

Behind the scenes (so to speak) is Hedwig's third love: her bandmate Yitzhak. The relationship's minor role in the movie indicates its minor role in Hedwig's life. It is obvious she is still hung up on Tommy. While she knows Yitzhak is not her other, she also can not stand the idea of him leaving her. She indicates this when he does try to leave and she tears up his passport. However, this never brings Hedwig peace. Only when she lets go of everything: her past, her relationship with Tommy, and finally Yitzhak does she find the peace in the fact that Hedwig is complete person all on her own. The movie drives this point home by recreating Hedwig's tattoo as a complete face in a complete circle. I have to admit the ending was slightly lost on me the first time I saw this movie. However, I was really moved by the ending more so the last time I watched it than on previous viewings.

Kissing Jessica Stein:
This indie movie tells about the many layers of a relationship that exists between two women. Jessica, a neurotic singleton, can never seem to make to find her perfect soul mate. However, she finds a deep connection with Helen, her polar opposite. Helen is a free-thinking, bicurious woman who is dating several men. Where Jessica is frozen in her decision-making, Helen jumps first and looks for the net later. A personal ad and a few meetings bring them together to create a quasi-lesbian relationship, despite misgivings from Jessica's side. However, Helen challenges Jessica's notions, yet loves her unconditionally (this echoes Jane Austen's idea of romance and is always a winning combo in rom coms).

Much of the movie follows Jessica through her journey of acceptance and change in her notions of who her true love will look like. However, what I love about this movie is that Jessica's eventual acceptance of Helen in her life completely is not the end of the story. Like Hedwig, there's another story going on in the background: her love/hate relationship with her boss and ex-boyfriend Josh. A comment Josh makes to her is what precipitates her push towards Helen. Jessica and Josh are affected by one another more than each wants to admit. In a very telling scene, Jessica and Helen have dinner with Jessica's parents only to find her mother has invited Josh and an eligible bachelor for Jessica to meet (Jessica's mother unaware her daughter is dating Helen.) When the rather charmless bachelor announces he works as a systems analyst for IBM, both Josh and Helen say in unison, "Jessica hates computers." This scene reveals that Josh and Jessica connection.

Finally, at the height of Helen and Jessica's relationship, Josh reveals his undying love for Jessica. Jessica is noticeably torn but stays with Helen. However, Jessica's relationship with Helen is never perfect and eventually falls apart. Jessica finds peace with herself and has Helen as her best friend. With her new found liberation, Josh magically reappears in her life. The movie's plot arc leaves you with a lot to chew on: so who is Jessica's soul mate? Someone might argue it's Josh, but without Helen, would Jessica ever be ready for Josh's love? The fact that both are in Jessica's life may indicate that indeed it is really both of them are Jessica's soul mates.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Princess Leia Tells All

In her memoir Wishful Drinking, Carrie Fisher writes about the rather sad story of Charles II of Spain. Charles was the last Habsburg King of Spain whose family had spent generations intermarrying in order to maintain the royal line. He was so inbred that his grandmother was also his aunt. Consequentially, Charles was born with several disabilities, including a tongue so large he could not speak or chew. He was severally mentally and physically disabled, and prone to frequent seizures. Carrie likens herself to Charles II, as the daughter, stepdaughter, and wife of celebrities, she is truly the product of Hollywood inbreeding. Or as Carrie tells her daughter Billie when she starts dating Elizabeth Taylor's grandson, "You two are related by scandal."

Such is the tone of Carrie's memoir, which is based on her one woman show of the same name. If you are looking for some deep insight of what life was like growing up the daughter of Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, then you need to find another book. Carrie doesn't take herself too seriously. The book is very frank and really no one is safe. Besides her famous parents, she talks about the exes: her ex-stepmother Liz Taylor, her ex-stepfather Harry Karl, and even her ex-husbands Paul Simon and Bryan Lourd. She also devotes a chapter to Star Wars (which one of friends cleverly points out should of been the title of the movie about her parents' marriage.)

Carrie's life has taken some surreal turns. She opens the book talking about her best friend for many years, R. Gregory Stevens, a Republican adviser who was openly gay. He died in 2005 after taking a large dose of Oxycontin and falling asleep. In her bed. While Carrie was sleeping next to him. Another example: when Carrie was in the throws of her drug and alcohol addiction, her mother calls a family friend with some experience with drugs issues to counsel her. That family friend was Cary Grant.

I'm an unusual fan of Carrie's; I saw Postcards from the Edge long before I saw Star Wars. She also did this weird interview show where she would do these Barbara Walters-style interviews (but much more frenetic than Barbara) which always engrossed me. Anyway, if you are even mildly curious what Princess Leia has to say, I would recommend picking it up. I'll end with my favorite quote from the book, "If my life wasn't funny it would just be true, and that is unacceptable."

Friday, July 2, 2010


I am truly sorry for the lack of updates these past two weeks. I had my computer crash on me and I was finishing some work for a class I was taking. Hopefully, I won't let the blog sit that long again.

Recently, I was trying to decide what I was going to read (I am almost always reading something) and I rediscovered Rue McClanahan's 2007 memoir My First Five Husbands... I know many people dislike reading any book twice. However, I find it comforting to read a book I enjoyed again, like watching a movie you love but seen 50 times or listening to a song on repeat. Often times, I pick up on things I missed the first time around. Sometimes, it also serves as a good distraction when I want to read something but not necessarily put my full resources into it.

It was very sad to me when Rue passed away a few months ago. I, of course, loved her as Golden Girl Blanche but I also loved her recent work with Del Shores in Sordid Lives: The Series. Strangely, rereading My First Five Husbands... it felt I was visiting an old friend.

As the title suggests, Rue did have five ex-husbands (actually she was married to husband #6 when she died). Her stories of marriage are almost worth the price of the book alone. Husbands #1, #3, and #4 come across very badly, while she seemed to still have genuine affection still for #2 and #5. Husbands 3 and 4 didn't even get names in the book! #3 is "The Italian" in the book and #4 is "The Greek." However, Husband #2 was a good friend of hers she felt pressured by her family after her 1st husband flew the coop and left her with a son to raise. She said she was never really in love with him, but they remained friends until he passed away (They even had an open marriage!). Husband #5 was actually her high school sweetheart who she married in haste only to realize it was a huge mistake a year later.

Besides talk of various husbands and boyfriends over the years, the book talks about her journey from a small town in Oklahoma to a respected actress of stage and television. She mentions the people who were important to her throughout her life, and how they impacted her life. She also dishes a little on her life on The Golden Girls set. With the GG stuff, she strikes a very interesting balance: she definitely tries very hard not to bad mouth any of her c0-stars. On the other hand, she also makes it very clear that the four ladies were not close friends off stage. For instance, she said the only party off set that she, Betty and Bea would attend together was Estelle's annual birthday party.

So if you love The Golden Girls and are looking for a little light summer reading, I would wholeheartedly recommend My First Five Husbands....

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Real Housewives NYC: The Final Breakdown

I know I am a few days behind, but I finally watched the last installment of the Season 3 reunion. The term "breakdown" seems particularly appropriate, as the series seemed to have its own breakdown this season. On top of that, I want to do my own breakdown of what went on:

Bethenny: The girl is on fire!! I love Bethenny Getting Married? (I'm even developing a crush on Jason). 3 books, a successful business, a line of skin care, various other products, a husband, a daughter, she is doing everything. In 10 years, I think Bethenny will have colonized life on Mars! She says she's not very people-oriented, but I still wish we could go out together for skinny girl margaritas.

Sonja: I was kind of waiting to cringe at Sonja. I was sort of expecting her to tick me off, but I have say I really like Sonja. She's funny, she's sassy, she's horny. I think Sonja is a great addition to the show. I think if Bethenny leaves the show, Sonja will be my new favorite housewife.

Alex: I never really thought Alex would end up being one of my favorites. However, I love the new assertive Alex (especially without her cosmic twin Simon). I still think some of the changes made this season (less emphasis on her sons and Alex) were deliberate by her, even if she denies it.

Ramona: Ramona is still crazy, but I like her a little more each season. She might want to curtail her diarrhea of her mouth and cut down on Pinot Grigio. She seemed to develop a real affection for all the ladies this season. Her vow renewal was a little weird too, but sweet.

LuAnn was really blah this season. She became Jill's bff, she sang, and she dated creepy men. I don't know how she could say she remained neutral in the Jill/Bethenny feud. She was totally Team Zarin!! I don't usually like to make deep observations about anyone on a reality show, but I feel like LuAnn is really searching for an identity. She always seems lost to me.

Kelly: For her safety and others, Kelly needs to be removed from the show and possibly hospitalized. She is no longer fun crazy! She is medicate her immediately and then strap her down crazy! If Bravo lets her continue on the show, it's just irresponsible.

Jill: When the season open with the Bethenny/ Jill feud, I really expected there would camps. People would be Team Zarin or Team Frankel and at the end, Bethenny and Jill would come together. Instead, Jill came across so badly I almost felt sorry for her at the reunion. I agree with the ladies that Jill probably would not have tried so hard to make up with Bethenny if it wasn't for the engagement and the pregnancy. If Jill comes back, hopefully it will be a kinder and gentler Jill.

Monday, June 14, 2010

A little Tony breakdown

So like many a gay men, I had to tune into the Tonys last night. So far, I've seen a mixed bag of reviews. Bravo's Andy Cohen hated the whole thing. However, he also thought it would be a good idea to put Danielle Staub on TV. Anyway, here's a few thoughts and opinions on the event:

Openers: I have to agree with Andy that the emphasis on the jukebox music from the latest crop of musicals like Memphis and Come Fly with Me really felt like overkill. I never thought I would say this, but I was actually happy to see Green Day! American Idiot was the only musical that seemed vaguely interesting. (I hate to admit it, but I have no idea what the hell was going on when Fela! came out. They needed some better context for those of us at home.)

Sean Hayes: I have to say overall, Sean pulled it off. Some of the sight gags were hilarious. (Seeing Sean in full Annie dress only to say he was really the drag Bernadette Peters was the best!) However, my favorite were the various interactions between him and Kristen Chenoweth.

Best Speech: My favorite acceptance speech was from an actress I have never heard of: Katie Finneran. She looks vaguely familiar, so I am sure I have seen her on TV or something. However, her speech last night made me a little weepy. She talked about how she just got engaged and said something to the effect of (pardon my paraphrasing Katie) "I want to talk the kids right now. Sometimes your dreams seem so far away but I want you to find your passion. Find your passion and use it as a road map and you will lead a very blissful life." Anyways, before I tear up again, just watch her acceptance speech.

Best Musical Number: I may be biased but Matt Morrison singing is always heaven in a glass. Worst: Catherine Zeta Jones garbled rendition of "Send in the Clowns."

Hotties: I feel a little shallow for including this but whatever! I was very happy that my celebrity crushes were out in full force! I already mentioned Matt Morrison's stint on stage. Ricky Martin presented an award for something, but I wasn't really paying attention. Ryan Reynolds was there supporting his wife Scar Jo, nominated for her role in A View from the Bridge. (Ryan is a #1 big time celeb crush). When Scar Jo won, she thanked "her Canadian", which was actually very sweet to me. A new gay crush was also there: Levi Kreis, who you can't look at or even listen to and not think of Harry Connick Jr. He's the gay brother Harry never had...

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Almost, Maine

Things in my life have finally calm down a little, so I thought I would catch a little theater last night. I always try to support the plays at Valencia Community College and this weekend they did a production of John Cariani's Almost, Maine. I went totally blind, not something I usually like to do. However, I was pleasantly surprised.

Almost, Maine is a series of vignettes that take place in various situations around an unincorporated town in Northern Maine called Almost. (The locales call it Almost because they are "almost" a town.) All the vignettes happen on a Friday night under the lights of the Aurora Borealis.

All the vignettes center around the topic of love in some form. In Almost, the metaphorical becomes the literal: a woman carries her broken heart in a bag. Another woman breaks up with her boyfriend and demands he return all the love she has given him. The most touching of the vignettes is the story of Hope, who returns to Almost to find the one she let slip away. She gets to his door and realizes she doesn't know him anymore (literally). The stories could have bordered on the sappiness worthy of a Hallmark card, but somehow manage to make me uplifted instead of choking on saccharine. The otherworldly-ness of the Aurora Borealis lends a certain credibility to the stories. 3 stars

Monday, June 7, 2010

Debbie Does Orlando

I have been crazy busy the past couple days as The Fringe Festival led into a brief work week which led directly into Gay Days Orlando. One of the highlights for me this year at Gay Days was the Debbie Gibson concert. Now I loved Debbie when I was a kid; but frankly until last week, I have not thought about her in about 15 years. I am hardly what someone might call a nostalgia junkie. However, I have to say Debbie puts on a fab show! She sounds as good and looks as good as she did back in the 80's (although she admitted she's celebrating her 40th birthday this year). I always think it's sad to see celebs, especially musicians, out and about performing when they are clearly past their prime. While Debbie sang mostly retro songs, she had such energy that it didn't feel dated. I think that's the mark of a true performer. Great job Debbie! You made me a fan all over again. I am posting a link to "Foolish Beat" because YouTube vids seem to appear weird on the blog.

Monday, May 31, 2010

What I did at Fringe

Often times, I get asked by people not familiar with the Orlando Fringe Festival: "So what exactly happens at Fringe?" In fact, A LOT happens at Fringe. So much happens that I like to put together a list every year.

Things I did at the 2010 Orlando Fringe:

1) I watched a woman sing opera to toilet paper.

2) I visited a trailer park where everyone residing there could sing and dance.

3) I met one of my favorite stars of gay cable.

4) I attended a soiree.

5) I learned about the kinkier side of Serengeti phone sex.

6) I fell in love with a cheerleader (and I'm sure I'm not the only one).

7) I learned the real identity of William Shakespeare.

8) I watched two people defuse a bomb.

9) I heard people make a toast to Sarah Palin.

10) I found out if you are going to put a condom on a banana, you really shouldn't peel it first!!

See you next year!! (The last of my reviews are also coming up!)

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Soiree Review

It just occurred to me I reviewed T-O-T-A-L-L-Y and ...Some Other Day but never reviewed The Soiree. Walking into the show, the audience discovers we've been invited to a party at Elizabeth's house. Elizabeth is the tipsy hostess with the most-est, and a love of all things French. (The house opens with Edith Piaf's Rien de Rien.) In this show, you are literally Elizabeth's guests: she greets several people as if she has known them all her life. Some audience members are pulled up onstage for a rather corny party game (Thank goodness I wasn't one of the people pulled!) The thing that made me love this show actually didn't happen until I walked out of the theater. I realized that the show actually followed the arc of a party: the anticipation and nervousness of just getting there, to the light mood moments of a fun game, and even the feeling of being trapped by a stranger who is yammering on for just a little too long. The show is playing in the Blue Venue and only has one more show.

Fringe Updates 2

Sorry for the lack of updates, Fringe has kept me busier than I anticipated. So far I have only seen eight shows but I want to give my Top 3 picks so far (this will probably change). In no particular order, go see T-O-T-A-L-L_Y, ...Some Other Day, and The Soiree if you don't think you can see anything else. I'm looking forward to seeing The Bike Trip, XXXplicit, and The Great Trailer Park Musical.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Fringe Updates

This weekend was madness! I've barely had time to wind my watch (a favorite albeit outdated saying of mine). This almost never happens, but I was able to see most of must see's already. Here's what I've seen so far and some reactions:

...Some Other Day: Schave Reilly really did it again! Awesome piece! Sometimes I have seen different shows by the same artists and thought, "Wow, their first show was so much better!" Totally not the case here. I've been recommending this show to everyone.

Dirty Stuff: I was looking forward to this show because of Jonny McGovern's great skits on The Big Gay Sketch Show. McGovern is a ball of energy in this show! He would pull you into one character and then suddenly switch and be another character. Many times TV actors are high energy because TV tends to mute your energy onscreen, but McGovern really blew it up. Good show.

Janine Klein: Gay Bar Star: The show ended up being exactly what I expected: gay, campy fun. She did these great takeoffs of Broadway songs. My two favorites were "Here's to the Homos who Brunch" (from Ladies who Lunch) and "Match.com make me a Match" (from Fiddler's Matchmaker).

A Day in the Life of Miss Hiccup: After leaving this one, there was a moment of "What did I just see?" It was odd, surreal, and hilarious! For goodness' sake, the woman sang to toilet paper! However, if sitting with this show for a while, I realized I found worth seeing just because it's an experience and it's very Fringe-y! Just be willing to laugh at it...

T-O-T-A-L-L-Y: Sometimes a show's popularity and buzz really doesn't get going until the festival begins. I had several great conversations with Kimleigh in this show, and that made me decide I had to see her show. I'm glad I did: the show is uplifting with a great message, yet doesn't take itself too seriously.

See you at the Fringe!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Fringe Madness!!

Sorry the delay in updates, I had plan to post this yesterday but had internet issues at home. The 19th Orlando Fringe Festival is here and I am excited! Here are some highlights and shows I am can't wait to see:

...Some Other Day: Schave Reilly were here last year and did such an awesome job in The Department of Angels; I was excited to see them return to Fringe this year. Ben Schave and Caitlin Reilly are a husband-wife team that do slapstick comedy which might remind you of a silent movie or a Laurel & Hardy routine. Very cool, very different, very Fringe.

Dirty Stuff: Regular viewers of LogoTV aka the gay network will know the name Jonny McGovern from the popular The Big Gay Sketch Show. McGovern does a wide range of the show, so I can only imagine what a one man show he will do at Fringe. Plus, you can never go wrong with a show with gay themes and a title like Dirty Stuff.

Janine Klein: Gay Bar Star: Most veteran Fringers know that when Janine Klein and John Ryan get together, it's a very good thing.

The Bike Trip: Martin Dockery did a show last year called Wanderlust. His stage consisted of him and a chair, yet I was mesmerized the whole show. Dockery is possibly one of the best storytellers on the Fringe circuit. I doubt this show will be any different.

The Great American Trailer Park Musical: I have no idea what this show is about, but I saw them at the Fringe Preview talking to a local art and culture podcast. They had me in stitches, so I am there!

A Day in the Life of Miss Hiccup: It amazes me that the Orlando Fringe is drawing people from Tokyo. I saw the woman doing the show in full make-up, walking around the theater last night. I have heard she gets rave reviews at other Fringe Fests, so I am always happy to show performers like that a little love.

See you at the Fringe!!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Fringe Madness!!

The 2010 Orlando Fringe Festival begins with the opening gala on Thursday and kicks into full festival mode on Friday. The theater festival is always a lot of fun and in my opinion, the high point of the year in the Orlando arts scene. A little background: The first Fringe Festival was in Edinburgh, Scotland and featured unjuried, experimental theater on the "fringes" of town. Orlando has one of the oldest Fringe Festivals in the United States. The shows that appear are chosen from a lottery, so there's no selection committee. I have seen some of the best and the worst shows at the Orlando Fringe. I will be volunteering for the Fringe, attending shows, and generally hanging out and stalking my favorite performers (Kidding! Well, not really...). I am going to try (emphasis on try) to update the blog at least every other day during the Fringe Festival about all the madness and fun. A complete list of shows and times are available here. See you at the Fringe!

The Casserole

In a previous post, I mentioned some shows I am looking forward to seeing this summer. I overlooked one that really deserves its own post. Jeffrey and Cole Casserole can best be described as gay absurdist theater meets YouTube. Jeffrey Self and Cole Escola are the minds behind this unusual comedy sketch show. Their sketches are usually out there and usually seem to originate from a very twisted (in a good way) part of their brains. Forget anything you have seen on SNL! The other catch is that are both young and look even younger so they manage to get away with almost anything! The only analogy I can come with is if you were cussed out by a golden retriever puppy. The thing I like most about the series was that it started as a web series and got picked up by Logo. However, they never did away with the low budget look of a web series. The yellow legal pads and webcam shots are now their signature look and only adds to the camp factor. Casserole returns to Logo July 9 and there's a preview of the upcoming season on the website.

Monday, May 10, 2010

NPR does Lady Gaga

As you may have gathered, I do enjoy a good YouTube video and honestly, I must have watched this one at least a dozen times. For me, it's the perfect combo of nerdy and gay. Now if you are not a regular NPR listener, you will probably wonder Who the heck all are these people? However, die-hards will probably recognize all the names and maybe the faces if you are really a die-hard. The blog Above the Law has a great explanation of how and why the video was done. Also, I think I now have a crush on Ari Shapiro...

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

New Joi-sey is back!!

Last night was the premiere of Season 2 of The Real Housewives of New Jersey. Even though NYC is my favorite, I feel a connection to the Jersey housewives because I was born in Northern New Jersey and still have relatives living two towns away from Franklin Lakes (where they all live). Also, every time I watch the show, I am reminded of all the things I love and hate about my birth state. With that said, I'm breaking it down housewife by housewife:

Dina: We learned only two things about Dina this episode: 1) She is all about her calm and her cats lately 2) Her daughter Lexi isn't appearing this season. I can understand Lexi not appearing if Dina was getting death threats; however, it's a bit of a shame because Lexi was hilarious in Season 1. Were the death threats and vandalism the thing that caused Caroline to break down in the reunion? Hmmm....anyway, Dina has always been my favorite on the show and I liked her no drama mantra last night. I also thought it was really nice that she was texting Danielle.

Jacqueline: One of the two fertile housewives on this franchise, Jacqueline finally gave birth to her son Nicholas. After all her anguish last season over her miscarriages, you could tell Jacqueline was finally really happy. J always came across as the peacemaker of the group, so it was nice to see all her family rally around her and that she and Caroline are closer. I'm curious what will happen with her wild child daughter Ashley. You can tell Ashley is a little spoiled and I think they were hinting that the sparks will fly.

Caroline: I like Caroline, but I am really hoping they will be more to her than was shown last season: she never seemed to evolve past her role as the tough-as-nails Italian mama. I enjoy her children more than her on the show. I will cop to having a small crush on Albie, the handsome law student who they portrayed last season as being smarter than his brother and sister put together. (Someone won the genetic lottery in that family!) The fact that Lauren is dating Albie's best friend (who kind of looks a bouncer but then again many men from NJ do) could be an interesting side story.

Teresa: My reaction to Teresa's scenes was the same last night as it was Season 1: Teresa, really? Really? For instance, the scene of her family making sauce for the year seemed quaint and old world-y until they started talking about husbands for Gia (who's 8 by the way). Teresa suggested Gia might want to marry a Jewish guy, to which Gia made a comment that was vaguely anti-Semitic. Teresa said to her "You shouldn't say those things" but I'm not sure she would have said that without the camera there because later she made a joke about turning her possible son gay (she's the other fertile one). My point is sometimes I think Teresa comes across rather provincial Jersey Italian, and she's a little painful to watch. I want to like Teresa and sometimes I even do, but it never lasts long.

I like to think of Danielle as the counterweight to the other four, because really to counterbalance the close relationships between the four, you need someone as bat shit crazy as Danielle. She makes the show. I already said when I watch Teresa I think Really? However, when I watch Danielle I think W..T...F? Danielle definitely did not disappoint. Some of things she did last night 1) She claimed to be a good Catholic then promptly yelled at a priest 2) She shopped all over town although she claimed she was still struggling to pay her bills 3) She almost stalked a party until her rather level-headed daughters told her not to. Mind you, all of this was on camera when supposedly you would think she would want to portray herself in a good light.

It annoyed me to no end that she made fun of Dina for working "stocking shelves and doing nails." Um, what's the shame in that again? Danielle established in Season 1 that she wasn't born with a silver spoon in her mouth and neither was Dina! Big deal! On the flip side, I will say I felt sorry for Danielle over her two-faced "friend" Kim. It's one thing to be professional and polite to someone when they enter your place of business even if you don't particularly like them. It's another thing to act like BFFs when someone is there and then to turn around a talk crap about them. I had to wonder if maybe it had to do with Kim's drunken boyfriend. If the boyfriend doesn't like Danielle and Kim does, she might have been putting on a bit of a show for the boyfriend and Caroline. It doesn't make it right though. Also, Kim said Danielle was good for business but then said Danielle owed her money. So exactly how good for business could she be?

This season should be interesting, and I am especially interested in the scene that keep showing that looks like a clip from Cops.

A totally gratuitous picture of the adorable Albie

Monday, May 3, 2010

Summer Madness

Living in Florida, summer comes a little sooner here than in the rest of the country. In my world, summer starts early May and goes until about September. So with that in mind, here's a list of some of my summer picks for film and TV:

1) Sunset Daze: Sunset Daze actually premiered last Wednesday on WE, but it's a light airy series that almost screams summer mindless entertainment. The show follows a group of senior citizens living in Surprise, Arizona as they navigate life over 60. No topic seems to be off limits as I found out the first episode where Sandy ("The Wild Child") tries to get back into the dating scene and talks at length about "BOB" aka her Battery Operated Boyfriend. My favorite so far is Gail, the NYC transplant who sings, acts, and has a gay son.

2) Royal Pains: The USA network always has a knack for getting great summer fare. I'm a little over Psych but will definitely be watching Royal Pains, a show about a doctor on demand in the tony Hamptons. The show has its hard-to-believe moments but is definitely good escapist TV. The bonus is that it stars the very cute Mark Feuerstein, who I have always thought should have his TV show. The show returns to USA June 3rd.

3) Bethenny Getting Married: The unstable New Jersey housewives return tonight but I am more looking forward to Bethenny Frankel's spin-off about her wedding and pregnancy. I have already mentioned my love for B on this blog so you know I won't miss this. The show premieres June 10 on Bravo.

4) Drag U: If you are a fan of Rupaul's Drag Race, you'll want to watch Drag U. The premise is the queens from Season 1 and 2 mentor women with image issues and make them feel glamorous. While it sounds a little Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, they are bringing back some of my favorite queens as "professors": Season 1's Nina Flowers and Ongina, and Season 2's Pandora and Jujubee. The show premieres sometime in July on Logo and probably VH1.

5) Sex and the City 2: I just want to say straight out that I consider myself more of a casual SATC fan. It took me a year to see the first movie and frankly it disappointed me. However, I am little fascinated of the ides of the ladies in the Middle East. May 27 (A Thursday so I imagine there will be some midnight showings.)

6) Get Him to the Greek: This movie follows the rather unstable Aldous Snow, played by Russell Brand originally in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. I enjoy Brand's stand up and his cameo in Sarah Marshall, so this should definitely be entertaining. June 4.

7) Dinner for Schmucks: Paul Rudd AND Steve Carell? Yes please! Rudd stars as a corporate guy who must bring a moron to a dinner with his boss, as part of some strange ritual where everyone brings an idiot and as a good laugh at his expense. Sounds very promising. July 16

8) Happythankyoumoreplease: An offbeat comedy about the lives of 6 New Yorkers and how their lives intertwine. I love these types of movies and this one has some great buzz. Some are saying it's this year's 500 Days of Summer. August 27