1014 posts categorized "Arts-Entertainment"

March 26, 2015

Norman Scribner dies at 79

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WaPo reports:

Norman O. Scribner, founder and artistic director of the Choral Arts Society of Washington, one of the region’s preeminent symphonic choirs, died March 22 at his home in the District. He was 79.

The cause was a heart attack, said a son, Matthew Scribner.

The late Washington Post music critic Paul Hume once called Mr. Scribner “one of Washington’s finest musicians and one of the most gifted choral conductors in the country.”

Rest in peace, Norman. I sang under him for a while in the 1980s, which enabled me to experience some great music and musicians from the stage. At one point we were doing a Russian piece, possibly Boris Godunov (Washington's symphonic choruses sang many Russian pieces during Mstislav Rostropovich's tenure at the National Symphony), and they had scores in Cyrillic for the purists, one of whom was a ferocious Zionist who told me that Democracy was inimical to Israel's interests. I haven't seen Binyamin since then (I'm kidding, Bibi Netanyahu as far as I know never sang with Choral Arts). Anyway, Norman was a big guy and could be intimidating, but was a pleasure to work with.

In 1986, when I was promoting the Gay Men's Chorus of Washington's first concert in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall (featuring guest soloist Maureen Forrester in the Brahms Alto Rhapsody), Norman graciously lent us the Choral Arts Society's mailing list. I remember him telling me that the flyer we mailed "struck all the grace notes."

Once in the 1990s, the Gay Men's Chorus sang Norman's setting of the "Ode to St. Cecilia," the patron saint of vocal music. Jim Holloway, GMCW's director at the time, was often a rehearsal accompanist for Norman, and they struck up a musical friendship. So after several weeks of rehearsing, Norman joined us at the dress rehearsal for a run-through. He was delightful as always. But I remember teasing him during a break by saying that a line from the text, which (regarding St. Cecilia) mentioned "her sacred organ's praise" (meaning she sang), came out "her sacred organ sprays" if we didn't enunciate clearly. He reacted with mock horror. Choristers find ways of amusing themselves during long rehearsals.

(Postscript: the ferocious Zionist I mentioned might have been from what was then called the Oratorio Society, which I also sang with in the 80s. It's hard to keep my symphonic choruses straight, especially since they joined forces for large works. The guy was bearded, and had the look of a deranged prophet. He was a good singer.)

(Photo by Neshan Naltchayan/Courtesy of Choral Arts Society of Washington)

Go to a revolution and cure your writer's block

Salman Rushdie delightfully recounts how he cured his writer's block in 1986 by going to a revolution. The punchline is great even though you can see it coming a mile off.

March 23, 2015

A Cruz I'd rather look at

Jon Stewart on Schock, Netanyahu, and Hart

In case you missed it.

Imagine Ted Cruz winning

March 19, 2015

Michael Sam cha-chas his way to glory

"Dancing With the Stars" describes this clip from its Season 20 premiere: "Michael Sam & Peta Murgatroyd dance the Cha Cha to 'Uptown Funk' by Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars." Looks fine to me. And if Vito is okay with it, then as His Holiness says, who am I to judge?

The multi-talented Michael Sam

It occurs to me that, while I once used "zombies" in a headline, I have never used "bootylicious."

March 08, 2015

SNL mocks Ben Carson

Sometimes an apology comes too late.

Filming on the bridge

Just as David Lean had to film Lawrence of Arabia in the desert, Ava DuVernay had to film her Blood Sunday scene on the real bridge.

March 04, 2015

House of Bricks

From Sesame Street, the three little pigs take on Frank Underwolf. Frankly, I liked this better than what I binge-watched on Netflix last weekend.

Pat Robertson tells how to cast out your own demons

A demon tricked me into blogging this.

Demonic raisins, I rebuke thee!

For another approach, see Georgina and Esther below.

March 01, 2015

She'll Be Back: deleted Sondheim song for Streep in Into the Woods

Above, a song that Stephen Sondheim wrote for Meryl Streep's witch for the film version of Into the Woods, and which was filmed before the creative team ultimately decided the movie worked better without it.

Nowadays, these bits from the cutting room floor can be preserved as Extras on DVDs of movies. In the past, such deleted material was usually lost. Thus we will never see the gay kiss between James Dean and Sal Mineo in the 1955 Rebel Without a Cause, nor the portion of To Kill a Mockingbird involving Jem and Mrs. DuBose.

Thanks to Craig Howell for sharing this. As he notes, "It sounds very Sondheim."

February 27, 2015

Leonard Nimoy, 1931-2015

Actor Leonard Nimoy has died at age 83. Above is a collection of clips from his banter with the late actor DeForest Kelley on the original Star Trek series. May he rest in peace.

February 24, 2015

'Glory' sales surge after Oscar win

Billboard reports:

Common and John Legend's "Glory" is basking in the glow of its Academy Award win for best original song on Feb. 22, and is on course for big sales gains in the wake of the Oscars.

A small comfort for a film unjustly snubbed.

February 23, 2015

Michael Sam signs with Dancing with the Stars

Recently Sam said he would continue to pursue his dreams of playing with the NFL. Someone asked if this latest news means a change to that. Don't know. We'll have to see.

Lady Gaga shows her musical chops

Lady Gaga's performance of a medley from The Sound of Music in tribute to Julie Andrews at the Oscars on Sunday night was the introduction for a lot of people to her musical talent. Behind the meat dress, the bubble dress, and assorted other theatrics, she is an accomplished musician. Then the surprise entrance by Julie Andrews herself put icing on the cake. (BTW, Gaga transposed into a lower key during "Climb Every Mountain. The pipes Andrews had cannot be replicated in most mortals.)

D.C. drag community mourns Mame Dennis

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(Mame Dennis and Donn Culver at Pier 9. Photo by Rob Moore/Discomusic.com)

One of the longtime mainstays of Washington's drag community has died. Rest in peace.

February 19, 2015

Pussy Riot: I can't breathe

Pussy Riot expresses solidarity with Eric Garner and other victims of police brutality.

February 14, 2015

Meet Solomon Georgio

On Himalayan sea salt, Pocahontas, and how an Ethiopian came to have an Italian last name. Hey Sampson, you have competition.

February 13, 2015

Evergreen

For all who are far from their loved ones on Valentine's Day. As nationwide marriage equality nears, there are so many for whom it will have come too late. Live in the moment, for that is the only thing of which any of us can be truly certain. Here is to lovers.

February 12, 2015

Jon Stewart on 'Wedding Crushers'

Jon Stewart takes on Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore.

February 10, 2015

From Cuba to Stephen, some chocolate love

I have been a fan of Cuba Gooding, Jr. since his soulful performance in Boyz N the Hood. I like him even better after this bit of play with BAFTA Film Awards host Stephen Fry, a hugely popular British writer, actor, and comedian. BAFTA is the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, and this year's film awards happened on the same day as the Grammys. Fry last month married his partner Elliot Spencer.

This was just a bit of foolery at a glitzy awards ceremony, but it says so much about how far we have come. Gooding has aged quite well, and is getting meaty parts these days on television, in addition to playing civil rights attorney Fred Gray in the movie Selma. His last-minute turn to kiss Fry on the lips was quite charming. Made me a little jealous of Stephen.

February 09, 2015

Sam Smith tops Grammys

Singer and songwriter Sam Smith won four top Grammys last night. Below, in his acceptance speech for one of them, Record of the Year, Smith thanks the man who broke his heart last year for inspiring his breakthrough as an artist.

February 04, 2015

How many pheasants died for Aaron Schock's new congressional office?

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Ben Terris of WaPo caused quite a stir when he reported Monday on the lavishly redecorated congressional offices of Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL), which have been done up in the style of the red room on "Downton Abbey." Here is a lovely display of pheasant feathers.

I am concerned that now everyone will want one, and pheasants will be driven to extinction.

The mean people at Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, however, asked the Office of Congressional Ethics to investigate whether Schock broke House ethics rules by accepting the redecorating services.

Schock now says that he expects an invoice from decorator Annie Brahler, and dismisses his critics:

"I’ve never been an old crusty white guy -- I’m different, I came to Congress at 27, I’m not going to -- when I take a personal vacation, I don’t go sit on the beach, I go do active things. I’m also not going to live in a cave," he said, adding later: "As Taylor Swift said, haters are gonna hate."

Followed into his office by Zeleny and his crew, Schock said the walls were "Republican red."

Below, the Dowager Countess, dropping by for a visit, gave the congressman a look when he said he was heterosexual.

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February 01, 2015

Banner performance

On this Super Bowl Sunday, a look back twenty-four years to the memorable rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner by Whitney Houston before the 1991 Super Bowl. As Tom Sherwood said in sharing it, "This is how you do it." Amen.

PS: Best wishes for her daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown's healing.

Langston Hughes gets a Google Doodle

Happy birthday, Langston Hughes.

(Hat tip: Tom Sherwood)

January 23, 2015

Enter the dragon

Above, a bit of motion capture from Benedict Cumberbatch as Smaug in The Hobbit. Below, how the animation was constructed.

January 22, 2015

If guys acted in real life the way they do on gay apps

Our friend @OfficialSampson (Sampson McCormick) appears in this funny video.

January 20, 2015

Billy Crystal's gay discomfort

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(Photo courtesy RAYE34 fansshare.com #5406WW10813299)

Pink News reports:

Billy Crystal has claimed that modern gay storylines on TV shows are “pushing too far”.

Crystal played one of the first regularly openly gay characters, Jodie Dallas, on 1970s comedy ‘Soap’.

Speaking to the Television Critics Association, the star claimed that he doesn’t want TV to “shove it in our face” with regards to gay issues.

He said: “Sometimes I think, ‘Ah that’s too much for me.’

Dear Billy, I assume this means you are locked in a dungeon, tied down with your eyes forced open like in "A Clockwork Orange," with a giant tv showing gay programs in a loop. I admit it does sound like torture. Maybe if it's a good boy, its tormenters will untie it and give it a remote control.

Now Billy says his comments were taken out of context. Well that's dreadful, of course.

Noah Michelson at HuffPost Gay Voices comments.

Jon Stewart takes on Mike Huckabee over culture-clash hypocrisy

Score one for Jon Stewart. Notice that Huckabee manages to put his anti-elitism in the nicest possible light, though Stewart isn't having it. Huckabee is a lot more likeable than the other whackjobs.

A gay-friendlier Vatican, or window dressing?

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(Photo Illustration by Emil Lendof/The Daily Beast)

This article by Justin Jones at The Daily Beast, on unofficial gay-themed art tours at the Vatican, overstates the degree of the Vatican's and the Pope's pro-gayness, as became clear the other day when Francis spoke in the Philippines and called same-sex marriage a threat to the family. That should not be a surprise to anyone, nor does it mean we should not continue to engage the Church on a range of issues. But the welcome contrast with Benedict (whom I regard as a classic vicious closet case) is not everything.

Still, I will be interested in the Vatican's reaction to gay-themed art tours, as I am curious about their reaction to Michael Sam's twitpic of his proposal to Vito atop the dome of St. Peter's. While doctrine and policy are my main focus, symbolic gestures have their value, as do simple courtesy and respect. The latter, however, are not advanced by calling us a threat to the family. We must remember that the Curia remains powerful.

January 19, 2015

BeBe Winans - I have a dream

A lovely song inspired by Dr. King's most famous speech.

(Hat tip: Mark Thompson)

January 12, 2015

More helpful comments from Bill Donohue

Bill Donohue of the Catholic League offers another display of his Christlike forgiveness of those who give him offense.

(Hat tip: Right Wing Watch)

Fey, Poehler, a roomful of stars, and alcohol

Yes, the Golden Globes were on TV last night. Above is the opening by hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Their targets included George Clooney (who was there) and Bill Cosby (who was not). Below, Transparent wins for best TV series - comedy or musical. Actor Jeffrey Tambor also won for his role, and dedicated his performance and award to the transgender community.

December 31, 2014

Tony Bennett, Lady Gaga - The Lady is a Tramp

To help you get into a festive mood, here's a great duet between Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga. I have always loved this song, and they have fun with it.

December 27, 2014

Joe Califano whitesplains it all for you

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(Photo by Yoichi R. Okamoto/LBJ Library)

Joseph Califano, who served as President Johnson's top domestic affairs assistant, slams the new Selma movie in WaPo. He actually claims that "Selma was LBJ’s idea."

Lauren Victoria Burke responds at Crew of 42:

What? In an interesting column in the Washington Post, former LBJ aid Joe Califano claims that it was LBJ who came up with the Selma march. What in the world Califano is talking about is anyone’s guess. Below is the Selma episode of Eyes on the Prize.

December 25, 2014

Addams Family Christmas

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Thanks to Denise Van de Weigel for sharing this classic cartoon by Charles Addams for The New Yorker. Now it's time to head to the roof to greet the Christmas carolers.

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Eminem kills in The Interview

Rapper Eminem has a cameo in the action comedy The Interview in which he is interviewed by James Franco's character and comes out as gay. This is very funny, enhanced by his deadpan delivery as mayhem erupts in the studio. Seth Rogen and his assistant dancing in gleeful celebration of their scoop is a nice touch.

December 23, 2014

The Marquis of Hollywood visits Downton Abbey

It's Christmas at Downton Abbey, and Lord Grantham loses the family fortune again. He decides it would be better had he never been born. An angel appears and shows him an alternate reality in which the Marquis of Hollywood has taken his place. It's a spoof for a charity called Text Santa, and George Clooney makes the Dowager Countess swoon. Part 1 above, Part 2 below.

December 21, 2014

Hobbitses on top

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies earned more than $90 million from Wednesday through Sunday.