908 posts categorized "Arts-Entertainment"

April 17, 2014

Beards and fashion

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If you are a slave to fashion, forever worrying about what "they" will think of your choices in clothing and personal grooming, I suppose you may be interested in this article in Salon. It states:

Attention all persons sporting a full visage of facial hair: If you’re trying to attract a mate, you might want to rethink your beard. That is one takeaway from a new study published this week in Biology Letters.

“We may well be at peak beard,” researcher Robert Brooks told the Guardian Australia. Brooks is part of a facial hair research team at the University of New South Wales; previously the team found that beards signaled virility. This year they discovered a different behavioral effect related to facial hair: If everyone is bearded, women prefer a clean shaven man. The same principle also works in reverse.

They don't need to change a hair for me. Affleck in particular looks stunning in his beard. I don't care a fart about someone's notion of fashion.

April 10, 2014

Marian Anderson at Lincoln Memorial, 75 years ago

Filmpreservation.org writes:

[I]n early 1939 the Daughters of the American Revolution declined music impresario Sol Hurok's request to book Marian Anderson into its Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. Her race was evidently the reason. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt then resigned from the DAR, an act that increased public awareness of the controversy. Secretary of the Interior Harold L. Ickes arranged for a concert on the Lincoln Memorial steps. On April 9, 1939, Marian Anderson sang before a live audience of seventy-five thousand and a national radio audience of millions more.

Mrs. Roosevelt's immortal resignation letter to the president general of the DAR began, "I am afraid that I have never been a very useful member of the Daughters of the American Revolution...." It was politely devastating. Any course in rhetoric should include it.

April 07, 2014

Bedtime Bible Stories

America's Best Christian, Betty Bowers, gets biblical with her bedtime stories for children. If you think this scriptural stuff is harsh, you should check out the original fairy tales by the Brothers Grimm. Or perhaps Hilaire Belloc's Cautionary Verses for Children.

Mickey Rooney, 1920 - 2014

Actor Mickey Rooney has died at age 93. A tribute is in order. This may be heresy, but there's something about those old Mickey & Judy "let's do a show" movies that makes me gag; so I chose the trailer for 1938's Boys Town, in which Mickey starred with Spencer Tracy.

Below is "Yakko's Universe" from the 1990s TV show Animaniacs, which was deliberately annoying but had its moments. This song includes a reference to Rooney. Hat tip to Sean Bugg.

April 06, 2014

20 years later, commemorating the Rwandan Genocide

[Above, the 2004 film Hotel Rwanda tells the story of how hotel manager Paul Rusesabagina, played by Don Cheadle, hid and protected 1,268 Hutu and Tutsi refugees during the Rwandan Genocide. Rusesabagina's story was told by Philip Gourevitch in his book, We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda.]

20 years ago the horror was already planned, and needed only surface-to-air missiles to set it off. Wiki reports: "On April 6, 1994, an airplane carrying [Rwandan President Juvénal] Habyarimana and Burundian president Cyprien Ntaryamira was shot down on its descent into Kigali, killing all on board. Genocidal killings began the following day: soldiers, police and militia quickly executed key Tutsi and moderate Hutu leaders, then erected checkpoints and barricades and used Rwandans' national identity cards to systematically verify their ethnicity and kill Tutsi. These forces recruited or pressured Hutu civilians to arm themselves with machetes, clubs, blunt objects and other weapons to rape, maim and kill their Tutsi neighbors and destroy or steal their property."

The commemoration to be held in Kigali tomorrow, April 7, will not include a representative of France. Al Jazeera reports:

Continue reading "20 years later, commemorating the Rwandan Genocide" »

Citing Israel Policy, D.C. Jewish Community Center Pulls The Plug On The Shondes

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(Photo by Frank Stefanko)

WAMU reports the demoralizing details.

The Shondes’ singer and bassist, Louisa Solomon, said, "The occupation is illegal, brutal, and unjust, and it is hard to imagine anyone with both a heart and a mind concluding anything else." Well, we can't have that kind of talk at DCJCC.

As a longtime defender of Israel, I increasingly find myself asking: If willful moral blindness is necessary for that defense, does it not undermine itself? As J Street understands, the West Bank Occupation is itself an existential threat to Israel. A two-state solution is the only sane path forward. Given demographic trends, if Israel stays on its current path, it will either stop being a Jewish state or it will stop being a democracy. It is unfathomable how the denial exemplified by DCJCC on this situation can possibly help Israel or the Jewish people.

I wrote to the leaders of DCJCC on this subject a year or two ago in response to an email I received from them. I got no response. If you have to hunker down and shut out contrary views, including from friends like me, you are not headed down a sustainable or happy path. This makes me inexpressibly sad.

April 05, 2014

Carole King surprises Beautiful cast at curtain call

Joe Jervis writes:

Beautiful, the Broadway musical that tells Carole King's life story through her songs, has been running for months to record crowds and rave reviews. King had famously declined to see the show, telling Playbill in December after walking out of a reading, "I can't watch my life played out before me." She changed her mind on Thursday, choosing to attend the show during the week that Broadway casts issue curtain call pleas for donations to Equity Fights AIDS.

Lovely. Especially nice for those of us who were in our teens during her peak years.

April 03, 2014

Capehart tribute to house music producer/remixer Frankie Knuckles

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Jonathan Capehart pays tribute to house music legend Frankie Knuckles, who died on Monday at age 59:

The National Public Radio obituary noted that “By the mid-1990s, house music was so mainstream that a song by Frankie Knuckles was played in a commercial for Lipton Iced Tea.” The New York Times remembrance highlighted the Grammy he won in 1998 for nonclassical remixer of the year. And the Chicago Tribune obit pointed out that Knuckles would build “dynamic ebb-and-flow sets that would keep his dancefloor filled from midnight to noon on weekends.”

March 28, 2014

Is a racist caricature okay as long as it's satirical? (No)

A controversy has arisen over Stephen Colbert's use of an offensive Asian stereotype to mock Dan Snyder's "charm offensive" over the racist name of the Washington football team. (The embed wasn't working, so click on the above link if you want to see the clip.) The question is, does Colbert's satirical purpose make it any more ok for him to do an Asian caricature than, say, a Stepin Fetchit impression? I agree with @suey_park that the answer is no. But she was barraged on Twitter by over-the-top threats and insults.

Really, people? The speed with which some resort to the most extreme language in online forums is scary, and does raise questions about the willful obtuseness of privilege by some and pandering to it by others. Okay, so you're being meta. The racist stuff is still offensive. Please knock it off.

March 14, 2014

You thought your marriage had problems

She's mad because her husband used to do "Straight Porn for Gay Eyes." Sounds like a niche market to me.

March 10, 2014

Swanson: Disney's 'Frozen' Is A Satanic Push To Turn Kids Gay

Right Wing Watch shares the latest in wingnuttery.

March 06, 2014

Lupita and Conan on working the cape

I have no particular reason to post this interview with Lupita Nyong'o and Conan O'Brien. She is just so stunning and poised. Their discussion of the advantages of wearing a cape does remind me of a revue at the National Theatre in the mid-1980s (it was an MLK Birthday celebration) in which a bunch of us from the Gay Men's Chorus were in the balcony watching an Elizabethan dance troupe which, let's just say, was way more gay than we were. One of the dancers wore a cape, and his absurdly elaborate and stylized moves caused a very bad boy among us (whom we nicknamed Crystal) to call out, "Work the cape, honey." I remember my friend David Sisson dissolving into tears of laughter.

(Hat tip: Rod 2.0)

D.C. Council's action to decriminalize marijuana possession

Jimmy Fallon on Wednesday mentioned the D.C. Council's action to decriminalize mj possession. (He also mentioned the bill last fall.) Oh, what we have to do to get attention!

GLAA endorsed the "Simple Possession of Small Quantities Of Marijuana Decriminalization Amendment Act of 2013," Bill 20-409, in our 2014 policy brief.

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) issued the following statement:

In a country where many states are permitting medical marijuana, or have decriminalized or legalized marijuana, I do not expect Members of Congress to interfere with D.C.’s local right to pass its own law on marijuana decriminalization. If Members try to interfere, however, I will stoutly defend D.C.’s right to pass such legislation, just as 17 states have already done.

March 04, 2014

Lupita Nyong'o on beauty

I encourage you to take the time to watch these remarks by Lupita Nyong'o on the gatekeepers of beauty and learning to love oneself and the beauty inside that has no shade. This was prior to her winning an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her performance as Patsey in 12 Years a Slave. What a class act this young actress is, and how well she is using the limelight. Brava.

March 03, 2014

American troops perform in drag; WND gets its panties in a twist

Some American troops donned drag for a charity performance in Okinawa. World Net Daily is appalled.

Ellen's Oscar selfie

Ellen's selfie with several stars during the Oscar telecast last night established a new retweet record, with 1.8 million RTs as of midnight EST.

The hottest guy in the picture (IMHO), charmingly enough, was not one of the stars but Lupita Nyong'o's brother Peter, whom she called "Junior" during her acceptance speech. They are a photogenic family. Okay, Bradleys, you're cute too.

12 Years a Slave wins Best Picture, Supporting Actress, Adapted Screenplay

The radiant Lupita Nyong'o gave an eloquent acceptance speech as she won an Oscar last night for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Patsey in 12 Years a Slave. It also won for Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay. This is the first film by a black director to win the top prize in Oscar's 86-year history. A fine moment of recognition for a magnificent, powerful film. It is a much-needed corrective to filmic falsehoods from "The Birth of a Nation" in 1915 to "Gone With the Wind" in 1939. Congrats and thanks to its makers.

February 25, 2014

A wee bit of Oscar news

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Judy's three children (Liza, Lorna, and Joey) are going to do a tribute at the Oscars next week to mark the 75th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz. This could be painful. I may call up one of my Wiccan friends and ask them to cast a spell to keep it scripted and mercifully short.

February 10, 2014

The little snowflake that couldn't

Let's hear it for Suzie Snowflake's brave protest at the Sochi Olympics opening ceremony, where she refused to open into an Olympic ring.

January 28, 2014

Stay, Mister Hannity!

Nathan Lane, Tim Gunn, and other New Yorkers help Jon Stewart plead with Sean Hannity not to carry out his threat to leave New York.

January 25, 2014

Mittens slow jams the news

He was a good sport to do it, but Mitt Romney just isn't very funny.

Swedish Marines make parody of 'Greased Lightning' in Afghanistan

This is what happens when you allow Swedes to serve in the military.

Gay Russian Artist Responds To Garage Magazine's Racist 'Black Woman' Chair With NSFW Image

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This image (click here and scroll down for the un-cropped version) has an entirely different vibe than the misogynist one to which it responds. It reminds me of a lyric by my late friend Michael Callen from his album Purple Heart:

"I’d like to be your music
I’d like to be your chair
I’d like to be the food you eat
and be the clothes you wear"

January 17, 2014

May 18 - Laura Benanti at Kennedy Center with Gay Men's Chorus

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Broadway World reports.

This will be fun. The talented Laura Benanti is the niece of the late Bob Wonneberger, long a favorite soloist with the Gay Men's Chorus of Washington. She has talked about her beloved uncle during her own Kennedy Center concerts. Thus she is not just any guest artist, she's family. And she's a wonderful singer.

For more information and tickets, visit the Gay Men's Chorus of Washington.

(Photo of Laura Benanti by Joseph Marzullo/WENN)

December 31, 2013

Sad anniversary on a celebratory night

This was the night five years ago when Oscar Grant was fatally shot on the Fruitvale Station platform by BART police in Oakland. His story, as told by young film director Ryan Coogler, moved a lot of people this year. Here is to his memory and to the cause of equal protection and justice for everyone.

December 28, 2013

Dench in Philomena: must see

I just came from seeing Judy Dench in Philomena. Do not miss it. Review here. Read about the notorious Magdalene Laundries here. Find Bill Donohue's denial here.

December 24, 2013

Alabama town, meet the Prancing Elites

Somehow, an Alabama town invited a troupe of black drag queens to dance in its Christmas parade. This took some parade-goers by surprise. The above news clip includes footage of them in the parade.

Transformative Year

My year-in-review for 2013 was published before the news broke of Her Majesty's Alan Turing pardon; but it was already a jam-packed year for the LGBT community. Here are a few excerpts:

2013 was a momentous year for the LGBT community, with nine states (California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Rhode Island and Utah) joining the marriage equality ranks; landmark marriage rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court; the Social Security Administration making it easier for transgender people to obtain Social Security cards reflecting their true gender identity; strong moves in sports and the arts; and Presidential Medals of Freedom awarded posthumously to Bayard Rustin and Dr. Sally Ride….

In late June, the U.S. Supreme Court delivered historic rulings in the Windsor and Perry cases, overturning the federal denial of recognition to same-sex marriages and restoring marriage equality in California. Edith Windsor, whose irrepressible personality made her the perfect "poster girl" for marriage equality at age 84, was a finalist for Time's Person of the Year….

The cause of marriage equality grew more bipartisan in 2013, when former RNC Chair Ken Mehlman organized a pro-equality amicus brief in the Perry case signed by more than 100 Republican officials; Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) endorsed marriage equality after learning his son was gay; and former president George H.W. Bush and wife Barbara served as witnesses at the wedding of Bonnie Clement and Helen Thorgalsen in Maine.

The year's remarkable string of marriage equality victories ended on an exhilarating note when U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby, an Obama appointee, ruled Utah Measure 3 unconstitutional, setting off a rush of same-sex couples to county clerk's offices in the conservative state ahead of an expected stay of the ruling. Shelby deliciously cited Justice Antonin Scalia's bitter dissents in Lawrence and Windsor to bolster the argument in favor of marriage equality.

I also touch on sports, the arts, and the international front. Read the whole thing here.

December 23, 2013

Members of Pussy Riot freed as part of Putin's pre-Olympics P.R. campaign

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(Maria Alyokhina speaks to reporters in Nizhny Novgorod on Monday. Photo by Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters)

Two members of the Pussy Riot punk band were released today as part of Russian President Vladimir Putin's pre-Olympics amnesty. Maria Alyokhina was released in the western city of Nizhny Novgorod, and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova was released in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk. NYT reports:

In a telephone interview on Monday, Ms. Alyokhina said she did not want amnesty and that officials had forced her to leave the prison. She said that the amnesty program was designed to make Mr. Putin look benevolent, and that she would have preferred to serve the remainder of her sentence.

“I think this is an attempt to improve the image of the current government, a little, before the Sochi Olympics — particularly for the Western Europeans,” she said, referring to the Winter Games Russia is hosting in February. “But I don’t consider this humane or merciful.”

She added, “This is a lie.”

Tell it, Maria!

Meanwhile, our left-coast friend Michael Petrelis shares the news that Russia's Straight Alliance for LGBT Equality has awarded Putin its Golden Enema prize. Follow the link for pictures. Bravo to these brave souls.

December 22, 2013

The right wing's Pandora's box

In the above clip, Rick Santorum agrees with suspended Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson's views on homosexuality but distances himself from Robertson's crude language. This is the same former U.S. senator who compared homosexuality to "man on dog" relationships.

In reactions ranging from relatively polite to unhinged, conservatives have rushed to portray A&E's suspension of Robertson as part of an assault on free speech and an attack on Christianity, despite there plainly being no shortage of outlets for conservative and anti-gay viewpoints. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who had previously warned that the GOP needed to "stop being the stupid party," called Robertson and his family "great citizens of the State of Louisiana." Meanwhile, GLAAD spokesperson Wilson Cruz was the target of a death hoax.

What do you do when you are stuck in bed with whack jobs and unvarnished bigots? These days, Republican office holders who make the slightest move to pull back from the most extreme intolerant rhetoric are vilified by others on the right. This does not mean that the GOP's control of the U.S. House of Representatives is in serious danger; gerrymandering will make it hard to dislodge them. But their ability to govern, to do anything but hurl rhetorical bombs and threaten to wreck the country if they do not totally get their way, is gone. If this is not starkly clear, it is only because the media is doing so much to fuel every controversy, generating much heat and little light.

If Democrats do not confront head-on the damage being done to the country by right-wing intransigence, obstruction, hate-mongering and political blackmail, they will be aiding and abetting that damage. As the midterm elections heat up in 2014, those aware of what is at stake must press Democrats to find their backbone and press the fight for our country. The more we allow America to be held hostage by know-nothing fanatics, the less our economy will be able to compete internationally with the likes of China, India, and Brazil. Smirking ignoramuses like Sarah Palin, and demagogues like Ted Cruz who exploit them, are not going away. The signal-to-noise ratio will remain low as the media continue behaving like nihilist whores. It is time to step up, organize, and speak out using all the tools available to us.

December 21, 2013

Getting email for Wilson Cruz

The only time I met actor and GLAAD spokesperson Wilson Cruz was at the White House in June 2009 when I was Frank Kameny's date for the Stonewall 40th anniversary reception. (He came up and introduced himself to me, and I right near melted into the carpet.) But Cruz was on TV this week, addressing the furor over anti-gay remarks by Phil Robertson of A&E's Duck Dynasty (in the above clip he squares off with Dr. Albert Mohler on CNN), and yesterday I got the following email from someone named Seth, who confused GLAA for GLAAD:

I am completely disgusted with comments made by your spokesperson in regards to Phil Robertson's interview and his response regarding homosexuality. First of all, what do you think a Christian minister is going to say when asked if he approves of that lifestyle???

A "true Christian" would READ and PRACTICE God's word. Homosexuality is not part of God's plan. If it was, there would be no reason for the creation of 'woman'. Phil reiterated that and was chastised and berated by your spokesperson for not only sharing God's word, but also expressing his opinion on the subject matter. That is his right as an American. The automatic response from the media and your organization is that he is essentially a closed-minded bigot going on an anti-gay tirade and not a true Christian. Really???

The irony of the response expressed by your organization is that there was more anger and hatred in those few lines than ever expressed by Phil. In fact, he spoke plainly as he always does; not with bitterness, but consideration and without a constant agenda to push his sexual preference down the throat of America.

Continue reading "Getting email for Wilson Cruz" »

December 16, 2013

Holiday flash mob at Air & Space

On December 3 at the National Air & Space Museum, the U.S. Air Force Band performed a flash mob version of "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" and "Joy to the World." Here's to high musical and production standards.

(Hat tip: Bob Witeck)

December 15, 2013

"I'm not an actor, I'm a movie star!"

Another Peter O'Toole clip, the delightful climax of the 1982 film My Favorite Year, in which the aging star of old swashbuckler movies is terrified of doing a live 1950s TV show, but rises to the occasion when the show's host is interrupted live by real-world thugs who work for a mobster he has lampooned. A gem of a movie.

Peter O'Toole, 1932 - 2013

Peter O'Toole, star of David Lean's 1962 masterpiece Lawrence of Arabia and an eight-time Oscar nominee, has died at age 81. In this indelible scene, a drawing-room chat with Claude Rains leads to sunrise over the desert via the blowing out of a match, and we know we are in epic territory. May this charismatic actor who shone in larger-than-life roles rest in peace.

December 13, 2013

"We have not seen him"

The Soweto Gospel Choir performs a stirring flashmob version of Johnny Clegg's Asimbonanga ("We have not seen him"), written in the 1980s as a call for the release of Nelson Mandela from prison, in the Woolworth's store in the Parkview suburb of Johannesburg. In the season of Advent, a joyous celebration of an avowedly flawed mortal who rose to greatness by persevering and leading his people to freedom.

You can watch a version here in which Mandela himself appears onstage as Clegg performs the song.

November 25, 2013

James Franco and Seth Rogen parody Kanye and Kim

The above video is a parody of the one below by Kanye West. Oh, how times have changed.

Katy Perry and cultural appropriation

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You may have heard about Katy Perry's impersonation of a Geisha at the American Music Awards. Ravi Chandra, M.D. writes at Psychology Today that Perry's performance was racist. The term "yellowface" comes up.

Setting aside Ms. Perry for a moment: If all cultural appropriation is racist, am I allowed to sing (or even enjoy) jazz or R&B? Such appropriation runs through all of human history. That doesn't make it okay, necessarily, but it is universal, flowering wherever different cultures encounter one another. Words are not just fossil poetry, as Emerson said; they are fossils of conquest and cultural encounters.

So our cultural policing needs to be more nuanced. If Perry's performance was exploitive and patronizing, that should be the point. If (say) your beautiful imported shirt from Mali or Japan was made in a sweatshop by someone who earned at most one percent if what you paid for it, that exploitation (and trade policies that protect it) is the issue. So the question is, how do we mix greater respect and equity into the inevitable cultural borrowing and its attendant commerce?

Continue reading "Katy Perry and cultural appropriation" »

November 22, 2013

Funeral march, 1963

Fifty years ago, the Boston Symphony Orchestra was preparing to do its regular Friday afternoon concert, starting with a work by Rimsky-Korsakov. But conductor Erich Leinsdorf came out and announced the terrible news (you can hear the audience gasp). Instead of the Rimsky-Korsakov they performed the funeral march from Beethoven's Eroica Symphony, the sheet music for which had been distributed to the musicians moments before onstage.

Haunting. I appreciated hearing that musical performance, in contrast to all the rehashing of the events of that awful day and conspiracy theories about it. The Beethoven wordlessly conveys grief and respect, far better as a response in my view than all the yammering and speculating.

November 15, 2013

Alec Baldwin's homophobic outbursts

Andrew Sullivan writes:

Baldwin is not just an actor; he hosts a political show on MSNBC. He behaves as a political actor with his support of various causes, all of them noble. He has set himself up as a pro-gay progressive. If we concede the point that because you are somehow formally pro-gay, it doesn’t matter if you hurl murderous homophobic threats against people in public, then we have sold our soul.

Maybe Baldwin is pro-gay as long as he gets to be the top. Maybe his analyst needs to point this out to him. Or his accountant.

I admire Baldwin's acting and find him likable in interviews. He appears to be a smart and thoughtful guy. And I can sympathize with him for the constant harassment by paparazzi. But by this time he should have worked out a response that does not include homophobic and misogynistic epithets and violent threats. In any case, he has done this too many times to pass it off as a mere lapse. And Andrew is right that we must not be enablers.

November 11, 2013

The Doctor at 50

Speaking of science fiction, I am afraid I let my people down over the weekend: I went with a friend to see the movie Ender's Game, based on a book by the homophobic Orson Scott Card, and liked it. I did not see any homophobia in the movie. I am a big fan of Harrison Ford. Besides, my friend wanted to see it. I am not big on boycotts; I generally favor marching into places more than marching out of them.