Monday, March 29, 2004

Queers in Heaven

I was all set to post today about this hilarious movie I saw this weekend, called Don't Ask Don't Tell (newly, ahem, out on DVD). The director and writer of the film redubbed the awful low-budget 1950s sci-fi alien invasion flick Killers from Space, inserting new scenes to transform the film into a tale of a secret government agency intent on eradicating homosexuality from the military—until a bunch of boogly-eyed lisping aliens invade Earth and begin turning everyone gay (including the director of the agency). So great and so random....

But it turns out that—as is always the case when we're talking about the gay—truth is stranger than fiction. Why post about preposterous gay alien alien invasion movies when the whole same-sex marriage debate here in the Bay State is just as comical and ridiculous? You see, just when you thought it was safe, the Massachusetts State Legislature is once again convening today to once again vote on gay marriage. For the love of Ann-Margaret! What is this, like, the 87th vote or something? Don't these people have anything better to do? What about all those free-agent renegade Robocops roaming the streets of Boston, terrorizing civilians with their Unionized billy clubs? And haven't all the good senators and representatives heard about that poll showing that American voters don't care at all about gay marriage? Perhaps the Legislature's taking their overzealously anti-gay cue from the federal judge who banned gay prisoners from writing letters to each other. Or maybe they're all just ignorant because they need a new news source.

Anyway, if you're feeling confused and unsure about the world of the gay—whether it's because of the complicated legal wranglings here in Massachusetts or just because of a gay alien brain wipe—I recommend reading anything and everything by Michael Bronski, a noted author/critic/local professor and frequent contributor to the Boston Phoenix (his articles are really the only ones worth reading in the otherwise totally shitcanned Phoenix). Always ardent and articulate, Bronski is probably most famous for cheekily (but convincingly) outing Harry Potter last year. He also had a great piece last week about attempting to debate civily with an evangelical Christian before realizing that all anti-gay marriage "arguments" are fully devoid of logic and nothing more than hysteria-fueled sandbox name-calling. He himself actually gives the most convincing rationale for being opposed to gay marriage in an article about, of all things, artistic representations of Jesus with an erection:

Too often today, sex and the body are ultimately viewed as shameful and in need of regulation. We see this in nearly all aspects of an increasingly repressive culture—in more censorship, in attacks on sex education in schools, in lack of funding for HIV/AIDS-prevention programs. But nowhere is this modern repressiveness better seen than in the battle against same-sex marriage....What same-sex-marriage opponents do believe is that this is the last symbolic stand they can take against the social acceptance of homosexuality—one of the last bastions of regulated sexuality.
In other gay religious news, I finally saw Latter Days, the Mormon coming-out movie that I mentioned before, starring a guy I went to college with. Like all the best gay B-movies, it was simultaneously gripping and horrible, but most memorable for the really really, really hot sex scenes. There were also some great wink-wink moments with young gay icons Amber Benson (lesbian witch Tara from Buffy) and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (out and proud star of Third Rock) both playing stridently homophobic characters. The money quote, though, came courtesy of Jacqueline Bisset (a.k.a. The World's Most Famous Cleavage): "Alcohol and homosexuals....Can't imagine heaven without both."

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Anal Seepage (And Other Leaks), Part II

!!! This entry will be on a five-second delay because it features Janet Jackson. Mature audiences only !!!

So last time I mentioned that I've been digging some music that hasn't come out yet, because I'm a pompous dickwad who likes to brag and pretend I'm a total indie-rock asshole when in reality I'm just another disgruntled cubicle-bound apparatchik....Anyhoo, now for the reviews, eh? Up first is a brief look at Wilco's June release A Ghost is Born, and then it's full-frontal review action with Janet Ms.-Jackson-if-you're-nasty's Damita Jo, out next week.

Wilco, A Ghost is Born [6/8/04]
(Rejected title: Aghosh is Born. Ha!) Even the alt.est of indie rockers has to admit that it's basically impossible to hate Wilco's last album, the majestically pop-perfect Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. (As Pitchfork says, "No one is too good for this album; it is better than all of us.") Jeff Tweedy & Co. don't try to reinvent the wheel this time around, and start with the same jangly, mid-tempo sound of YHF: here, though, it either gets ratcheted up a notch into Led Zeppelin/wanky jam-band territory or toned way way down as placid, snuggly-but-still-smug ballads. Both options end up working quite satisfactorily, and like YHF, it takes a few listens before you're convinced. But won't someone explain to me WTF is up with that weird 8 minutes of music-free spaceship noises at the end?

Janet Jackson, Damita Jo [3/30/04]
Oh dear. The cover alone—with Janet slyly covering up her nipples (but flaunting a smidge of saucy asscrack)—is sure to cause Superbowl flashbacks for everyone, and induce paroxysms of hate among the Religious Right, who'll no doubt immediately demand that all god's children ban Janet from the radio and burn her CDs. And god forbid they actually listen to the thing, for the music completely and totally delivers on the cover's slutty promise, featuring Janet's standard now-patented (but still thoroughly enjoyable) mix of heavy-petting dance tracks and heavy-breathing R&B ballads, but all taken to brand new XXX-rated highs lows in honor of Janet's new role as sex educator/America's whore/international scapegoat. I suppose bleeding heart liberals are to be comforted by the fact that all the "you're a filthy slut" b(l)acklash against Janet's Superbowl simrape hasn't stopped her from keeping her legs spread wide open (musically speaking!), nor from refraining from being as nasty as she wants to be in her music. (The title is a bit of a play on this, actually: "Damita Jo" is actually her middle name, and a nickname used by Janet's father when Janet was but a wee little nip of a girl.)

And hey, thankfully, buried among all the full-on pornographic grunting and unh-aahing are a few tracks that are quite catchy, even memorable (for the right reasons)—especially remarkable considering the low standards to which pop music is held these days. 'Just A Little While,' the pre-album first single, was a horrible initial salvo for Janet, as its jarring New Wave shimmy has nothing to do with the rest of Damita Jo's otherwise slow, crotch-tingling burn. Thankfully that horrid abortion gets tacked on at the end of the album, letting wunderkind (and current R&B chart-topper) KanYe West's stellar production shine through the rest of the time. Highlights include the jittery and surprisingly tame (i.e., R-rated) 'Strawberry Bounce', infectious like an STD, with a backing track of KanYe just saying "Dance! Dance!" over and over again. 'R&B Junkie' is a Missy Elliott/Lauren Hill-styled throwback track recalling nascent Brooklyn-era R&B and hip-hop. But my favorite is 'All Night (Don't Stop)', a furious, steaming pile of dance track littered with the shards of the infamous diwali riddim, that Bollywood-inspired sample beat that has fueled Lumidee's 'Uh Oh,' Sean Paul's 'Get Busy,' Missy Elliott's 'Pass The Dutch,' and countless other hits. See, even Janet's down with the brown! [Pacifists not Paki-fists!] And then of course ther—

OK enough. I'm sorry Ms. Jackson, but who listens to Janet's first post-nipple album for the music? Probably the same people who watch porn for the acting—i.e., no one. Let's get to the dirty parts! Tracks 14-16 are the real money shot here, featuring the memorable sexual song line-up of 'Thinkin' 'Bout My Ex' / 'Warmth' / 'Moist'. (Here I have to disagree with DJ Mike Biggz, a big pre-reviewer of Janet's album who's probably most infamous as the boyfriend of ur-blogger Ernie of Little Yellow Different, the first blog I ever read. Mike thinks this latter section lags; I think that, thanks to the nasty nasty lyrics and the sexed-up rhythms, it's the whole reason to chow down on the juicy fish taco that is Damita Jo.) Anyway, 'Ex' is relatively tame, and actually a decent song (if slightly maudlin), but its buttery production values serve only to herald the start of the "breathy, horny Janet" section of the CD, in lieu of the "sexy, dancy Janet" portion (which comes just after the random "Caribbean vacation Janet" section of songs about lying on a beach in Anguila—what the hell, has Janet replaced Kathy Lee Gifford as the spokesperson for Carnival Cruise Lines or something?).

Sadly, the easy lead-in song doesn't make it any less painful to grapple with 'Warmth,' which follows 'Ex' and must be the nastiest song in existence at this moment in time. What can only be called a "blowjob ballad" opens with a, ahem, snatch of dialogue where Janet asks the guy driving her car to pull over on the side of the road....So she can suck him off! Oh mama! The opening lyrics are "My hand wrapped around / Strokin up and down / But nothing can compare / To the warmth of my mouth." At the line "I feel you get erect," Janet really starts stroking away to some velvety backbeats, then breathlessly intones "Deeper and deeper / You taste so good baby" over the bridge, to indicate that the party has moved into her mouth. There's some heavy breathing, and suddenly there's light rain falling in the background—all the better to obscure the vivid sounds of sucking and slobbering you'll hear in your left-ear headphone. Yes, actual aural cues of fellatio occurring are looped into the mix of the otherwise lyricless musical interlude of the song. Beat that sampling prowess, Poop Diddy!

When Janet returns to try singing again, it's hard to decipher exactly what she's saying (took me 3 replays to get "How you like that?....How much longer can you last / I feel you getting closer"). Why? Because she's enunciating as though she HAS A COCK IN HER MOUTH! She actually slips up on words and rolls her tongue around and makes strange open-mouthed grunts to indicate that this little dalliance is occurring in real time, with prime grade-A beef getting smoked in her warm little hothouse as we listen in, riveted/repused by the prospect of hearing adorable little moppet Damita Jo give some anonymous dude great roadhead.

It goes on and on like this, though we're mercifully spared the sound of erupting volcanoes of jizz or a verse about fumbling for tissues in the glove compartment—and of course there's no answer to the big question on everyone's mind: do pop superstars spit or swallow? But it gets better! The song ends tantalizingly with Janet's exclamation "Now it's my turn!," which segues right into 'Moist' (probably my least favorite word in the English language), a song all about pleasuring Ms. Jackson (rather than Ms. Jackson giving pleasure). Finally! Sample lyrics include "You make me so moist / Orgasmic / Rub it just like that" (subtle!) and the refrain "You feelin in it / You ticklin it / You swimmin in it / You gonna get it." (All you heteros out there, please explain to me what exactly it is that you end up "swimmin in" when you feast on the poonanny.) But it looks like Janet shot her figurative dirty-word load on 'Warmth,' as despite the orgasm-themed lyrics, she climaxes the song by refusing to name that one body part that got her into so much trouble in the first place. Viddy this lyric: "Suckin on my hmm with ice in your mouth / You know how to make my rain come down." Your hmm eh? Maybe that's what Justin calls it.

<Sigh> As I mentioned before, the sad part in all of this is that, if you can desensitize yourself to the lyrics, these XXX songs are some of the stronger ones on the album (I had the halting, slippery chorus of 'Warmth' in my, ahem, head for days). It's too bad that for Damita Jo the focus will almost definitely be on the substance rather than the style—ironic given the typical proclivities of celebrity news media. If only Charlie Kaufman's Lacuna Inc. were a real company: Mark Ruffalo could jack off with me into our collective consciousness, erase all memories of nipple exposure from our past, and let us all move on with our lives totally unaware that we ever saw Janet's hmm.

The Love Song of G. W. Bush [UPDATED 5PM]

"Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a filthy welfare mother etherized upon an abortion clinic's table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap Park Plaza hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question...
Oh, do not ask, "What is it?"
Let us go and make our campaign visit."

Someone pull Paul Revere out of the mothballs (ok, actually cast iron) and get him riding: The Bush is coming! The Bush is coming! Man, I can't believe I have to spend the whole fucking day within spitting distance of preznit give me turkee. Maybe I'll just get up and move to Chinatown to get farther away from him: on the inside I'm just an old Asian woman anyway (dim sum every morning!), plus, now it turns out that moving to Chinatown is the cool new thing to do.

So yeah, the whole area around the Boston Park Plaza hotel (where "President" Bush is spending the afternoon/evening fundraising today) is in total lockdown: at my work they released lots of detailed info about what streets will and won't be closed to traffic, but in the paper today I read that the Secret Service are refusing to release street closing information. Odd. And they actually had to cancel classes at the Renaissance Charter School (next to the Park Plaza) because of the preznit's visit. I'm glad that President "No Child Left Behind" thinks banking a cool $1M for his unopposed election effort is more important than getting the children of America educated. And this is from the guy who supports school vouchers and charter schools!

Anyway, all of you in the Greater Boston area, if you suddenly feel the urge to build a faith-based Superfund site atop a third-world orphanage or raze national forests using the aborted fetuses of commie pinko teen girls (or something similar), you'll know why—it's your close proximity to pure unadulterated evil. And those of you who fall outside the Axis of Evil the president projects for 50 miles in every direction around him, fear not: Big Brother is watching you, too—literally. A "reliable" source reports that every US$20 bill in circulation has a tracking device embedded in the right eye of Andrew Jackson; ditto for euros. Eek! If you microwave a $20 bill (?), the tracking device will explode and burn up. (Don't worry, a bill is worth its full face value as long as more than 50% of it is intact.)

UPDATE (5pm): So I was having lunch with friends, seated amidst the standard Back Bay lunch crowd—policemen, lawyers, anorexic publishing assistants, construction workers, etc.—and we were having a standard Bush-bashing session, as is common. We get back to the office and look out at the Park Plaza Hotel preparing for Bush's visit: who should be perched on the roof of the building, sniper-rifle in hand, but the gruff man in a police uniform who sat next to us the entire time at lunch. I was ragging on the "President" in full view of a Secret Serviceman. If I never post again, you'll know why. Nolite te bastardes carborundorum!

Also, did you know the Park Plaza is where all visiting "dignitaries" (and Bush) come in Boston because it has a bulletproof ballroom? What a great name for a band.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Anal Seepage (And Other Leaks), Part I

Remember all the brouhaha a few years ago over Olestra? You know, the hidden ingredient in low-fat potato chips that actually caused cancer as well as copious amounts of anal seepage ("fecal urgency," as the site calls it)? Speaking of the butt squirts, remember also the shitstorm surrounding aspartame, the carcinogen found in Diet Coke? (Diet Coke, better known as crack for sorority girls. Dude, please read that linked article and tell me that the woman who drinks a Diet Coke in the shower every morning to feel refreshed is just making that shite up.)

Well, it may be that we haven't heard the last of the silent but deadly food additives. See, it turns out that the chemicals used in chicken tikka masala may cause cancer. [Read more here] First of all, chemicals? What chemicals? Everyone's aware that chicken tikka is faux Indian food invented by the British—so it's not authentic, nor does it date back to the pre-preservative days of the maharajahs—but since when is it ok for any dish (regardless of dubious provenance) to contain "sunset yellow #30 paint"? I mean, paint? My bitch mother had about as much authentic Indian sentiment in her as Britney Spears's buttcrack, but even she knew not to put household chemicals in the curry. Sheesh.

Second of all, hate to say I told you so, but well, I told you so. The British don't exactly have the greatest track record when it comes to dealing with anything Indian, you know? What makes you think they'd fare any better at modifying Indian dishes for their own purposes than they did at modifying the Indian subcontinent for their own purposes? Hell, compared to the horrors of Partition, fecal urgency curry ain't nothin. Still, all you honkies out there, I implore you: the next time you head to your local curry-in-a-hurry, stick to the saag paneer. Cancer is, like, harsh, and anyway, chicken tikka masala tastes like ass—a sweet, creamy, smooth tomato's ass, granted, but still ass.

Of course, no discussion of race, tastiness, and asses would be complete without a mention of felching Beyoncé. Which is why I encourage you to vote Beyoncé for Vice President. Just thinking about Beyoncé's "motivated base" has got me feeling an urgency down there—and it ain't fecal. <Ba-dum-pum> Thanks, folks, I'll be here all week.

Want more on leaks? (I promise, no more of the bowel-related kind. Or the culinary kind. And no more felching either.) Then stay tuned. Recently, I've been listening to a lot of yet-to-be-released CDs that have been leaked early on the Internet. (I'm so G.D. illegal kewl, I know.) And it's been so long (days!) since I posted my oh-so-pithy music reviews. So the follow-up to this post (Part II) will take a look at the as-yet-unreleased upcoming CDs from both Topless Avenger Janet Jackson and mopey alt.rock saviors Wilco.

Dude, fecal urgency.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Font (of) Knowledge

Something that's always irked my inner snob/typesetter is that the unbearably unfunny Everybody Loves Raymond dares to use the New Yorker's typeface in its logo and credits—just compare these New Yorker cover logos with this Raymond-logo hat. Now, I disdain the snotty attitude of David Remnick et al. and love Us Weekly as much as the next pop whore, but !as if! Raymond could even begin to compare with the New Yorker. Regardless, the font is quite nice, if I do say so myself—and at least it's also used for Frasier, which has a lot more ideologically/snobbily in common with the New Yorker than Ray Romano's amateur hour. Hey, did you know the font was created specifically for the New Yorker and is named "Irvin," after Rea Irvin, the New Yorker's first art editor? And he not only designed the typeface and the magazine's overall layout (still used today), but also sketched Eustace Tilley, the foppish dandy who is the magazine's appropriately emasculated and pretentious mascot. Neat.

The site 'Mastication is Normal' comments on the Raymond/Remnick/Frasier connection, while noting that Les Miz and Lemony Snicket also share a same font. I've linked to 'Mastication' before (re: book covers), but in the discussion of fontography he must be mentioned again because of the fantastic Behind the Typeface, a VH1 Behind the Music-inspired short he made charting the celebrity-style rise, fall, and eventual kitsch comeback of Cooper Black, a chubby 70s-era font now gaining popularity thanks to its use on indie-rock DIY t-shirts (BONO FOR PRESIDENT!). I nearly pissed myself.

Speaking of font stories, the site Daidala has elegant vignettes inspired by fonts, riffing on both the font's name and its look and feel. My favorite is the austere prairie morality of the New Century Schoolbook piece (so perfect!), though I'm also intrigued by the idea of Helvetica as a sleek but slutty bondage font. But hey, where's the stupid drunken rambling (with :-) lots of smiley faces :-)), written in bubbly Comic Sans? Perhaps you'd rather just Ban Comic Sans (great cubicle decor ideas there)—or at least learn the origin of the :-) before you use it. Or let's say, hypothetically, that you love fontography as much as I do and want to instill those values in your children: I say just take them to Bembo's Zoo, a flash site that creates breathtaking pictures of animals out of the letters of that animal's name, set in the font face Bembo; the "P is for Peacock" and "U is for Unicorn" are totally the coolest. Of course, Bembo is the font used by Dave Eggers's unbearably unfunny McSweeney's "literary" "magazine"....Ack! Scratch that; I think there's some blogging rule that you can only mention one pretentious magazine per post.

OK, since we're talking about the Daves Eggers and Remnick (turns out the latter is actually Choire incognito), let's say you're so incredibly vain and self-centered that you want to make a font out of your own handwriting. Well guess what? You can! But why stop at pretending that you're just a font? Why not pretend you're one or more of the most important (visual) artists of the modern age? We all know about Mr. Picassohead, where you can wreak Guernica-style havoc on someone's face; and I'm pretty sure I've mentioned the online Andy Warhol silkscreener for do-it-yourself Blue Marilyns and the like. But this Make Your Own Mondrian site has got to be the coolest one of all. I am like sehr Dutch Modern right now, neen denken jou?

Monday, March 22, 2004

Bearded Clams

Where can you get the best bearded clam in the city? Just head downtown. A ha ha ha hahahahaha!

Sadly, our topic today is not nether-region synonyms but the prestigious James Beard Awards, a.k.a. the culinary Oscars. Nominations were announced last Thursday, with various chefs, cookbook authors, restaurateurs, wine stewards, and even a few bloggers vying for top honors in everything from Best Pastry Chef to Best Food Writing to Best Menu Design. The awards only recognize high-end cuisine, and thus favor culinary capital New York (though California also makes a respectable showing). Indeed, this year's Lifetime Achievement Award is going to Berkeley legend Alice Waters, whose Chez Panisse restaurant basically jump-started the "New American" high cuisine craze in the US (i.e. French perparations, vertical food, random use of tapenade and zucchini blossoms, etc.) as well as the whole foods/sustainable agriculture craze. Fawkin hippie.

Speaking of hippies, the usually staid culinary establishment got a little crazy with the nominations this year, mixing up the fuddy-duddy old French standbys with some hardcore alterna-eateries. The trucker-hatted crowd's favored watering holes—Schiller's Liquor Bar and Wylie Dufresne's wd~50—are both nominated, though I dunno if you can really call $140 tasting menus indie-rock (they're both on the Lower East Side, OK, what more do you want?). There's also a nod for sell-out Rocco "Am I Hot or Not?" DiSpirito, not for his cooking but for his atrocious TV tie-in cookbook Flavor (why does he look so tanned on the cover?).

The food writing awards also show a flair for the revolutionary—or at least Al Gore's Internet revolution: in fact, there's a whole new category for "Best Internet Writing," with nominees including a random blog post called "Bagels" (a deconstruction of Canadian bagel culture) and the more standard online newsletter-formatted "The Nose Knows", a wine-sniffing primer. (Maybe next year, this post will get nominated!) Plus there's the unheard-of scenario where the fancy "MFK Fisher Distinguished Writing Award" list is dominated not by big names like Jeffrey Steingarten or Ruth Reichel (incidentally, one of the original backers of Alice Waters's Chez Panisse) but by a bunch of food blogs. Yes, more blogs. Rock on. My favorite of these is the delightful "Calling the Shots", which chronicles adventures in Starbucks barista training. (Did you know a new Starbucks opens every 3 days? Did you know there are over 1200 tasteable flavors in coffee—more than wine—and that good coffee should be spit and swilled just like a good cabernet? Did you know the human head weighs 8 pounds?) But perhaps the most revolutionary category is "Best Television Food Segment," which counts among its nominees none other than dirty convicted liar Martha Stewart, whose stellar work on CBS's Martha Stewart Living is truly a good thing. Wayda stick it to The Man, James Beard! (If I ever quote School of Rock again, you're allowed to shoot me.)

What else....As the home to countless textbook/reference publishing houses (ahem), Boston got heavy play in the Best Cookbook section, but only 2 nominations for cooking (in Best Chef: Northeast)—one for Frank McClelland from the ritzed-out L'Espalier and one for my secret crush Ana Sortun, from the phenom Mediterranean/Middle Eastern boîte Oleana, in Inman Sq. (One of the best meals I ever had was at Oleana, but that's a post for another time.) McClelland is a perennial nominee, and Ana was up for Best New Restaurant in America (yes, best in the whole fawking country) in 2002. Oh, and those who have enjoyed the amazing off-menu burgers at Harvard Sq.'s Casablanca should also thank Ana—it was she who created Casablanca's fab menu. (New Yorkers hoping to impress their dates/palates can read Gothamist's run-down of the NYC Nominees.)

On the topic of high-end food in New York, everyone's talking these days about the world's most expensive mall food court—the constellation of astronomically fancy eateries on the top 2 floors of the new Time Warner Center mall at Columbus Circle (has anyone else been there? I thought it was totally lame). Megawatt chefs like Charlie Trotter, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, and Thomas Keller (the pretty much uncontested Best Chef in America) all have eateries there, as does sushi master Masa Takayama, the guy behind old L.A. celeb fave Ginza Sushiko. Masa's restaurant charges $100 for canceling your reservation, but considering that sushi there costs $300-500, that's chump change. This of course brings to mind pompous-assed French bastard Alain Ducasse's legendarily overpriced Essex House restaurant in NYC, with its $300 tasting menu—that's of course sans wine, which runs (per bottle) an average of $300 more, skyrocketing right up to $10,500 for a bottle of the storied 1961 Sauterne from Château d'Yquem. Ducasse has been in the news recently for a whole other reason, sadly: just after the Madrid subway bombings, an undetonated ETA bomb was found at the construction site of one of his future hotel/restaurants, the 45-acre, 5-villa, €195 per night L'Ostapè, nestled in the heart of the French Basque Country.

Saturday, March 20, 2004

Eternal Sunshine

I'm not talking about the gorgeous weather we're having here in the Northeast. (Yes, today is the first day of Spring!) I'm of course speaking of the fabulous Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, which opened yesterday to near-unanimous critical praise. [Watch the trailer here]

So oh god. It was amazing. I admit I was doubtful at first: it stars the unbearable Jim Carrey (Ace Ventura), it's written by the incomprehensible Charlie Kaufman (Adaptation), it's directed by the unknown French music video auteur Michel Gondry, and also, it's a sci-fi romantic comedy. As if! But it all works, swimmingly, mostly because everyone involved is playing totally against type: Jim Carrey stays reserved and a bit morose; Elijah Wood erases all memories of a certain size-challenged homoerotic do-gooder with his turn as a creepy slimeball stalker; Mrs. Jake Gyllenhaal Kirsten Dunst gets drugged-out and a bit sinister, hopefully ending her days of being typecast as a blonde ingenue (Virgin Suicides (not)withstanding); Kate Winslet outshines everyone by ditching the prissy bodice roles for the Boho crackpot role of a lifetime (plus an American accent that's better than mine); hell, even Charlie Kaufman fights his urge to just jerk off onto a piece of paper and call it a screenplay, penning his first script that's actually enjoyable (while still being as challenging as the abortion that was Adaptation [shudder]). And then of course there's randy little alt.hunk Mark Ruffalo, a quite well-endowed talented actor who spends most of the film, uh, flopping around in nothing but his tighty-whities and the absolutely hippest eyeglasses ever. Mmmm....

Oh oh oh, and all my blockmates out there (i.e., 3 of my 6 readers) should especially see it because not only does Jim Carrey's character visit the Manhasset LIRR station, but also because one of the major sequences involves walking across the frozen ice of the Charles River, a horribly dangerous and foolhardy endeavo(u)r neither I nor anyone else I know would ever attempt. Yeah. (To those who've seen Eternal Sunshine: is it a coincidence that the train to Montauk is having schedule delays over the film's opening weekend?)

Still not convinced? Let the scrappy Weekly Dig's Jamie Hook 'splain: "Most of the film takes place within the realms of Jim Carrey's mind, which is being gradually erased over the course of one night....It could've been maddening: an intellectual wank in which we are all caught in the spunk, so to speak. And yet, Sunshine traces the thread of an eternal heart throughout, choosing to ground its mental and visual schizophrenia in a good, old fashioned, sentimental love story. It's a bold choice—love stories are hardly 'cool'—yet in so choosing, both filmmakers have inarguably turned in their best work yet."

If, after watching the film, you decide you want a few memories wiped clean but can't seem to find a local branch of Lacuna Inc. (the movie places the company around Grand St. and Mercer, if that helps), I suggest you shoot a few Mind Eraser cocktails. Those in the Greater Boston area can also head to Six Flags New England for a few spins on the Mind Eraser roller coaster.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

I'm Feeling Lucky

Are you really, now?

Yesterday marked the end of this year's famed South by Southwest Festival (well, the tech portion, at least). Once just another burial ground for unwatchable indie films, SXSW has become one of the most influential and prescient music festivals in the country: both Bollywood-hating, sitar-spurning, Grammy-hoarding Norah Jones and hair-metal nostalgia act The Darkness were featured at SXSW when they were nobodys (in 2002 and 2003, respectively); both are huge now. SXSW is also basically a giant orgy for bloggers, as they gather in Austin, TX by the thousands and make out with meet those people they've been whacking off to admiring the online work of for the past year. (Indeed, SXSW is so big with webloggers that Blogger, the kind folks who host this site and power countless other blogs, had a big open-bar party to kick off the festivities.) I would love to go, but if I can't even work up the courage to email my weblog heroes/crushes (who could they be?), how can I hope to have the stones to make out with them all night in the middle of Texas?

Anyway, you'd think with all these technocrati in attendance, SXSW would be the place to learn about the latest innovations in New Media/online/[insert buzzword here]. So why the fawk was this year’s SXSW keynote speaker Jonathan Abrams, the founder of Friendster? I mean, how 9 months ago is that? The full text of his address is here, but do you really care? Is this news to people? Ooh, Jon, can the Internet really help people connect with each other? No shit, man! Are you for real? And, now wait, like, lemme get this straight, it’s not just for meaningless sex, but you can, like make friends and maybe even enter into serious relationships? Wow. Dude. Like, dude. I mean, what next, you'll be telling me I can like watch movies online or get my groceries online or something?

(OK, maybe SXSW was just taking their retro-Internet fascination cue from last Sunday's New York Times, which led with a headline story about how Google has revolutionized our world; "Googlemania," this month's cover story in Wired, was about the same thing. Uh, have the terrorist attacks in Madrid suddenly got everyone thinking it's 2001 again? Because stories about how great Google is were interesting about, oh, 3 years ago at the earliest. Granted, it was only this year that the respected and otherwise brilliant Nation columnist/feminist Katha Pollitt stooped so low as to pen an article in the New Yorker about how she stalked her ex-boyfriend using Google. But with war, economic woes, and a pending election, is it really that slow of a news day?)

Back to SXSW: one marginally interesting moment in Abrams's speech came when he mentioned that time way back in 2003 (when people gave a damn about Friendster) when Ahmet Zappa (Frank Zappa’s son and Lisa Loeb’s brother-in-law) announced his engagement to Selma Blair on his Friendster messageboard. Now girls, if your boyf proposed to you and then decided the best way to proclaim his undying love for you was to shout it from the mountaintops of Friendster, would you think it was unbearably pathetic, or just lame? Hope Selma got a big-ass rock on her finger.

Oh, one thing Abrams forgot to mention (probably by accident) was the unnaturally high concentration of real live gay porn stars on Friendster—not Fakesters (when someone makes a fictitious profile of some famous person, building, city, idea, etc. and interacts with others as though said famous thing were real), but bona fide A-list celluloid fudgepackers (and a few gay-for-pay folks). This oft-linked site gives a thorough rundown of most all of them. Yes, I moistened myself a little (OK, a lot; OK, I had to put on a new pair of boxer briefs) when I saw that both Filippo Romano and Joe Foster—2 of my personal favorites in the vast pantheon of adult film stars—were just 3 measly degrees of separation away from me (and were also best friends—just check this photo from Joe's profile). And if you’re just looking for people who aren’t necessarily bona fide porn stars but act like them in bed, use this guide to interpreting Friendster photos—I can vouch from personal experience that a cartoon always always means "immature and fat."

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Strangers With Cupcakes (and Peeps)

The syntax-challenged industry rag The Hollywood Reporter, uh, reports that Gotham super-couple Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker will star in an upcoming movie version of Strangers with Candy, the wickedly warped and hee-fawking-larious sitcom created by and starring comic geniuses Amy Sedaris and Daily Show/Mr. Goodwrench regular Stephen Colbert. (The show's over, but you can still catch it on DVD.)

Chronicling the bizarro adventures of doddering twit Jerry Blank (played by Sedaris), a 40ish woman with a rough background who goes back to high school, Strangers With Candy's genius always lay in its brilliant comic cameos from the likes of Cheri Oteri and Janeane Garofalo—cameo roles being what the Broderick/Parker power couple will probably make in the film, considering most of the regular characters are all played by Sedaris and her troupe. (Given the high school milieu of the show, here's hoping Matthew Broderick resurrects one of his classic high school-related characters—be it slacker king Ferris Bueller or neurotically undersexed teacher Mr. McAllister from Election.) Speaking of cameos, Sedaris herself has basically mastered the art of the comically pitch-perfect guest starring role, stealing scenes via cameos in everything from books by her brother David Sedaris to the J.Lo vehicle Maid in Manhattan to Sarah Jessica's own Sex & the City (Amy played Carrie Bradshaw's hagtastic former editor in the Prada date episode, a.k.a. "A Stud is Born").

While this is all well and good for the future of American comedy—it's comforting to know that in a world where Everybody Loves Raymond is king, subversive greatness like Strangers With Candy hasn't been forgotten—the real reason I care is cupcakes. Sex & The City of course single-handedly brought the majesty of Magnolia Bakery cupcakes to the world outside Manhattan by shooting several key scenes at the bakery. (Here's a recipe for the divine little cakes.) And just a few blocks east of Magnolia, at the café Joe, Amy Sedaris last year began selling her homemade cupcakes, often featuring her kooky collection of vintage cupcake charms. Both versions of the treat are phenomenal; indeed, the two were battling each other for "Best Dessert" honors in New York magazine's annual readers' poll of the Best of New York. Magnolia beat out Amy in the end, but I suggest judging for yourself and doing your own Village cupcake tour: stop in at both spots (they're blocks apart), and finish off at the true New York cupcake masters, the folks at Out of the Kitchen, a quick waddle south of the Magnolia Bakery at 456 Hudson St. (Folks scared of trekking south of Times Sq. [I'm really ragging on you all these days, heh], fear not: one of the owners of Magnolia opened the similarly old-fashioned/decadent Buttercup Bake Shop at 973 2nd Ave., just north of 51st St.; still gotta head over to the east side, though.)

(Other "Best of New York" winners are listed here. Looks like Gawker won the eternal Gawker/Gothamist battle this time around, but frankly I'm a bit confused as to how Gawker even got nominated. The award is for "Best New York Blog": j'adore Gawker, but the site is about the media élite at large—it just so happens that they're concentrated in and a fixture of New York Manhattan life; Gothamist, on the other hand, is unabashedly and specifically about daily life in and all things related to New York, and nobody covers that beat better—but maybe I'm just saying that because I have AZN Pryde.)

And there's more! In other sweet treat news, marshmallow fans no longer have to wait for those addictively fluorescent marshmallow goodies known as Peeps to be "in season" (Easter and Halloween, mostly): the folks at Wham-O (purveyors of Hacky Sack, Hula Hoop, Slip 'n Slide, etc.) have developed a Personal Peep Maker that lets you squeeze out the teeth-rottingly adorable little critters whenever you want. [Buy it for $15.95 + S&H from Quality Recreation] The kit comes with the molds for your standard boring bunny, egg, star, heart, and chick Peeps—though the little chicky is all ghetto and flattened out in 2D (and that's my favorite one! :( ). Thankfully, you can take a quick trip to any craft store for candy molds and start crankin out Krazy Peeps in all whacky-ass shapes and sizes, including four-leaf clovers, menorahs, realistic (?) vaginas, and my favorite, OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST. Jesus Peeps? Mmm, sacrilicious!

Monday, March 15, 2004

Jenny From The Block West Bronx Riverfront Revival District

Don't worry, this isn't about Jennifer Lopez. But it is about claiming to live in New York City yet never leaving, oh let's say, theoretically, a five-block radius on the Upper West Side <ahem>

So anyway, I thought it was just happenstance that one of New York City's countless subway lines is named the J/Z. But considering that J/Z the subway runs right past the Marcy projects, where Jay-Z the rapper grew up (back when he was just known as little Corey Carter), it seems like more than just a coincidence that the rap superstar and the subway have the same moniker. Hey, with the success Jigga Man is having these days (and the ways he's giving back to his old 'hood in the shadow of the J/Z), it's probably only a matter of time until the J/Z line gets changed to the H/V and every stop is renamed either Izzo or Izzay, so you can only give directions to the area by saying "take the H to the Izzo, or the V to the Izzay." (Get it? Wokka wokka wokka!)

On a semi-related note, the Sunday Times featured an article about controversies relating to neighborhoods and nicknames in Brooklyn, specifically the ideological battle that arose from renaming/"rebranding" the Boerum Hill/Cobble Hill/Carroll Gardens area (a.k.a. "the goyish white part of Brooklyn that isn't Park Slope or Williamsburg") as the "BoCoCa" district, all in an attempt to draw WASPs scared of living in what is basically Red Hook. This new name=new image magic trick is obvious to all those who took useless Lit classes in college: any hack with a copy of Barthes's S/Z can tell you that naming is just a mechanism of control, with words becoming the currency of power in the laissez faire market of speech (hereafter known as the (Yo)United States of [Ana]Logos), with language locking society into a slavish but delusory matrix of linguistic need and forcing compulsory citizenship in the hegemonic Dis(Semi)Nation, all of which only serves to underscores the inherent sadomasochism of speech and eventually cause the transformation of the nominous into the numinous. Throw in a My Fair Lady reference, quote something inexplicable by Bhabha because you just have to, hint that the Holocaust was really just a failure of translation, and you're done—Judith Butler couldn't have asked for anything better (well, she could have, but she would have demanded a bunch of motherhood hangups, incest, and tongue metaphors, and who wants that?).

Sadly, the NYT article barely scratches the theoretical surface of the neighborhood naming controversy; thankfully, the whole naming as power/renaming as gentrification thing—as it relates to Brooklyn—is covered in much better/greater detail in Jonathan Lethem's excellent novel-length love letter to the borough, The Fortress of Solitude. In short, Fortress's whole tragic, dramatic arc is set in motion when a racist Jewish woman rechristens the all-black drug ghetto Gowanus as "Boerum Hill" in an attempt to make it seem more quaint and residential, and thus more attractive to white people—this despite the fact that the area has neither a hill nor any connection to anyone named Boerum, and is basically just a cluster of crackhouses. (Even better, Lethem—who lives in "BoCoCa" to this day—talks about name games, Brooklyn's yuppie invasion, and old-skool Brooklyn 'hood life in this interview with The New Yorker.)

Indeed, New York is almost legendary in this respect, with a long history of giving run-down neighborhoods more upwardly mobile names in an attempt to attract the honkies—and even creating totally new "gentrified on delivery" neighborhoods out of dilapidated industrial districts (who knew a place called DUMBO would end up a desirable address?). Some famous neighborhood rebrands in recent NYC history....

Clever renamings in the 70s and 80s (respectively) transformed a stretch of stinky, abandoned docklands in the southwest corner of Manhattan into the chic district of art galleries, $2 million lofts, overpriced restaurants, and Gwyneth Paltrow sightings that we today call SoHo and TriBeCa. (Robert DeNiro and his temple to conspicuous consumption, Nobu, are almost single-handedly to blame for the latter—Bobby DeNiro pretty much owns the entire TriBeCa neighborhood.) In the 90s, when Chinatown's ever-expanding borders effectively wiped out all the Italianness in what was once one of the country's most storied Little Italy districts, some linguistic genius renamed all that was left of the historic area (basically two random factory buildings on Mulberry St.) as NoLIta, for "North of Little Italy"—and overeducated, overmedicated, overspending white people flocked to the area because of its saucily ironic name, visions of Humbert Humbert dancing in their heads. (It's now also known as NoHo, supposedly for "North of Houston" but really just to chase away all the Nabokovian/underage prostitute associations of NoLIta.) And we all know the story of Hell's Kitchen: once a favorite gang battleground (West Side Story takes place there), it was unsuccessfully scrubbed clean of the nastier (read: Hispanic) elements, marketed as a more urban chic (read: shitholey) alternative to the staid Upper West Side (which it borders), and of course renamed/rebranded as the "Clinton" district—all to bring in the rich white people. Didn't work, most likely because no one seemed to realize that it's so much cooler to say you live in Hell's Kitchen than in "Clinton." (Ditto for "BoCoCa": is some trucker-hatted fool going to get cred by telling their unemployed friends fellow Strokes rip-off band members that they live in BoCoCa [isn't that in Florida?] or in "South Brooklyn"?)

Yo, but my favorite neighborhood renaming story is actually from San Francisco, which (because of its tiny size) often slams very ghetto and very wealthy districts right up against each other, and thus often ends up with weird Bohemian no-man's-lands springing up between the two. Smack dab in the middle of downtown SF is the legendary Tenderloin district, which trafficks (as its name implies) almost exclusively in the sweet sweet loins of barely legal boy-sluts. The 'Loin is east of exclusive, snooty Nob Hill, home to countless upscale SF landmarks like the Ritz-Carlton, the Top of the Mark, and the four-star Fleur de Lys. Hepcats have recently discovered the Tenderloin's low rents but don't care much for the rent boys that come with it, so they've set up camp within the technical bounds of the red-light district but crept closer in feel to their yuppie white brethren to the west, high up on Nob Hill. In doing so, they've ended up populating a liminal space between the two regions that obviously and immediately earned the name Tender Nob. Yum!

Friday, March 12, 2004

Random Links

These should keep you busy for the weekend while I'm gone.

I actually groaned aloud while reading about yesterday's subway bombings in Madrid. When I was there for 2 weeks, the apartment I lived in was right at the Atocha subway stop, which was ground zero for the blasts.

No means yes? I am so totally confused by yesterday's vote to ban gay marriage. As if the whole situation weren't enough of a legal contortion act already, turns out the Mass. legislature's final vote to ban same-sex marriage is actually the first step in allowing same-sex marriage. Asphinctersayswhat? Thankfully, the Boston Globe does an admirable job of explaining the complex legal wranglings behind the vote.

In related news, the Chicago Sun Times posted the best headline ever about gay marriage recently, leading off an article about Rosie O'Donnell's marriage in SF and her criticism of Preznit Bush: 'Rosie O'Donnell Weds Girlfriend, Slams Bush'. HAHAHAHA! I think I just wet myself. (The headline's now been removed, but here's the Google cache to prove it existed once; also look for it in the dictionary under "best double entendre ever.")

From the Reality TV meets Virtual Reality department: Rebecca, the sleepy blond/token undergrad from The Real World: Seattle, is now in a band with Keanu Reeves. The world has officially come to an end.

I see London, I see France: With their soothing music, self-cleaning floors, and pre-warmed seats, I thought Boston's space-age public toilets were cool. I also enjoy the one-way mirrored stall doors of the bathrooms at Boston's only Indian/French/hooka fusion eatery Mantra. But all that pales in comparison to this experimental loo from London, with its 4 transparent walls/monolith chic. Why am I suddenly humming the 2001: A Space Odyssey theme song?

Why I'm glad I own a Nomad Jukebox: A woman was arrested for bludgeoning her boyfriend to death with an iPod. She claims she was acting in self-defense/retaliation after he "accused her of illegally downloading music and erased about 2000 of her MP3s. She complained that it took 3 months to build her music collection." Too bad she didn't have one of those colorful iPod Minis—her boyf probably would have just gotten away with a few bruises; plus, bloodstains look so much worse on white.

In related tech-violence news, Kerry-hating hack Mickey Kaus is all a-twitter about John Kerry's ringing endorsement of Blackberry enemas [scroll down to March 11]. As if it weren't enough that a Blackberry plays a pivotal role on the best TV show ever, Everwood, now I have a whole new reason to covet those sexy little personal digital assistants!

[insert witty Simpsons quote here]: Someone submitted the plot of a Simpsons episode to Dear Abby, and she answered it, thinking it was a real situation requiring her attention. Fuckin ghost writer—this would never have happened if the REAL Abby were still alive!

And finally: slutty Match.Com has a great Attraction Test that gives you a rundown of what "your type" is in general, using a photo-ranking widget à la "Am I Hot or Not?". They say it's been tested for some 15 years on hundreds of thousands of folks, and I believe it: despite offering photos that were marginally blah at best, the test was surprisingly accurate about what I found appealing—and you'd be surprised how difficult it is to explain what "type" of person you find attractive. OK, so yeah, the test at one point I'm pretty sure claimed I was attracted to other species ("You favor pretty boys and 'boy next door' types, but most of all you're attracted to traditional 'Ecto-Mesomorphs'"—aren't those like algae or amoebas or something?), and it definitely thought I was a pedophile ("Sometimes, you like younger men, by a good gap"), but I still buy it. So all you muscular, green-eyed, bespectacled guys out there—whether you belong to a frat house, a sports team, or an invertebrate sub-genus— wants you to know that here I come!

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Common Ground

Notes from my lunchtime trip to the Boston Common (a.k.a. gay marriage ground zero), just 1hr. before the Legislature went into session at 2pm:

I step off the train at Park St. and am faced with a family of 5 covered in yellow stickers saying Support MA & PA. At first I think these are in favor of gay rights—i.e. support the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts...and Pennsylvania (must've missed that ruling?!)—but turns out MA & PA is the "clever" nickname for the homophobic House Bill 3190, a.k.a. the anti-gay "Marriage Affirmation & Protection Amendment."

Being in prim and proper Boston, the pro- and anti- factions keep a respectful distance from each other, setting up camp on opposite sides of the Common.

The lay of the land around the Common is ripe with irony....
Fidelity Building: now owned by FOX 25 News.
Joy St.: currently closed for repairs.

The cast of the upcoming BCA show Hey Honey, Why Don’t We Get Married? Timmy and Teddy’s 20th Anniversary perform the "musical letter to Congress" scene over the din of a church group's recorded salsa music

"You have done a work at / Once so proud so precious so full of / Hope and Glory" "HOMO SEX IS SIN": An inscription on the memorial facing the State House, and the giant sign obscuring the inscription, respectively

The "Reverend Jones" speaking into a news camera about "the debauchery and predatory nature of the homosexuals," all while sporting rainbow glitter in his hair (?); a woman and her boyfriend walk behind him repeatedly while he's being filmed and make thumbs-down signs

"Gay & Lesbian: We're Here To Serve": Sign on a free refreshment booth being manned by members of a local high school's Gay-Straight Alliance

Speaking of GSAs, everywhere there are giggling high schoolers running around with white bedsheets stitched up like angel wings; whenever a group with offensive signs and homophobic chants appears, the high schoolers surround them and spread their "wings" to shield onlookers from the obscenity, while chanting "Equal Rights for All" at the top of their lungs

I'm dressed in khakis and a button-down dress shirt, carrying a black laptop bag; I am completely ignored by the Mass Equality Now flyer distributors and approached repeatedly by defense of marriage/Catholic types; Q.E.D., business casual = homophobe

Sign getting the most attention from newscasters and curious onlookers: "Liberty & Equality for All / Yankees Suck"

JUSTICE CONQUERS ALL: Inscription by Ralph Waldo Emerson on the Shaw Memorial, which faces the State House

Mary Me

Not much going on around work today, so it's just gay gay gay all the time. Let's talk briefly about the most deluded folks on the planet—the gay Republicans. So you're a "gay Republican" because you're socially liberal yet fiscally conservative, plus you smoke pole....Uh, too bad the Rethuglican party is neither socially liberal (not even centrist) nor fiscally conservative (not any more), nor do they—as Monica Lewinsky can tell you—look favorably upon pole getting smoked. So why do you persist in thinking they give a fawk about you, when they obviously just want you to "get AIDS and die" (to quote Repugnican radio host Michael Savage—surprisingly, himself a former gay Republican)? I mean cmon, look at what's happening with Mitt Romney, the fag-bashing Mormon squatter-governor of Massachusetts. A few years ago, the ringing endorsement of him by the gay group Log Cabin Republicans effectively won him the moderate vote and thus the governorship of MA. Yet ("surprise"?) in recent months, Gov. Romney has strongly come out against offering any significant rights for gay couples, and says he opposes both same-sex marriage and civil unions—this despite the fact that he (as part of the executive branch) has no say whatsoever in the current civil rights debate, which is taking place at the judicial and legislative branch levels. The question on Beacon Hill today is this: Who's more of an asshole in this situation, Romney for being a homophobe or the LCR for thinking he was anything but?

Thankfully not all "gay Republicans" are completely deluded. That most famous gay Republican (and Catholic), former New Republic editor and hack blogger Andrew Sullivan, recently renounced (on account of their avowed anti-gay stances) first the Catholic Church and then the President, even though he has defended both parties vehemently in the past. (Matthew 26:34: "Verily I say unto thee, that this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny Me three times." Teehee, he said cock!) I still find Andrew Sullivan to be a roid-raging moron, but at least he's seen the light briefly. And even the Log Cabin folks are starting to fight back in their own wussy way, by planning to air an anti-Bush Administration ad in key election states in the near future. The ads directly quote Dick Cheney, who first said civil rights should be left up to the states but has now recanted and agrees with preznit give me turkee that it's all about oppressing the homos on a national scale.

Cheney's position is particularly poignant horrifying because his daughter, Mary (who's hard at work on his re-election campaign), is a lesbian. Eeek!!! (Mary joins a growing list of politically active lesbian daughters/sisters of politicians that includes Chastity Bono, Chrissy Gephardt, and Candice Gingrich.) Indeed, Mary Cheney's plight—how would you feel if you had a dad who not only thinks you're a second-class citizen but wants to declare that to the world in the US Constitution?—has led to the birth of one of my favorite sites, Dear Mary. The site lets you write (and view already written) postcards to Mary urging her to talk some sense into her dumbass father. As past postcard-writers have said: "I WANT TO MARRY MY GIRLFRIEND; DON'T LET YOUR FATHER'S JOB END MY HOPE"; " Blood is thicker than water, but love is stronger than death"; and "Have you ever read "King Lear"? You might find strength and inspiration in Lear's youngest daughter, Cordelia. Cordelia loved her father so much that she refused to lie to him, even if it meant temporarily losing his favor. Best wishes, Bill in NJ." And so on....

Yet for every angry postcard, Andrew Sullivan Bush-bashing post, or bold Log Cabin Republican ad, there are still those gay Republicans who remain loyal to President Bush despite his call for a homophobic Constitutional amendment. Their argument is (1) there are issues more important to them than gay marriage, and on those Bush has taken a stand they like; and (2) Bush only said he opposes gay marriage to appease his conservative base. I understand talking point (1): gay marriage, while fabulous, is obviously just a "wedge issue" (whatever that means) to distract voters from how awful Bush's record is on every single other issue. But them's the breaks: Bush has decreed that he wants this topic on the table now—are you just going to accept lesser citizen status forever because fighting it isn't convenient for you right now? As (straight) groom-to-be Glen McDonald has written, "history will not look fondly on the 'defenders' of our current marriage law". As your beloved preznit has said, you're either for us or against us.

And listen, I also agree with talking point (2)—this is obviously all about making the fundamentalist Christian base happy. But, dude, when I realize that the political party I desperately want to belong to has a "base" that hates me and wishes I were dead and wants to deny me my humanity and thinks I'll burn in eternal hellfire forever, I don't apologize—I get the fawk out.

Happy Gays Are Here Again

It's that time of the month again—time for the Mass. State Legislature to meet once more and have a friendly little chat about the homos. I can't believe all these bigwig politicos are taking time out of their busy busy pork-barreling schedules on account of li'l ole me. Like, I'm blushing! I just can't help it, I lurve it when a bunch of straight people get together to decide how much gay people are worth!

No one's quite sure exactly what the Massachusetts Legislature is doing today in their little Constitutional Convention (a.k.a. "ConCon," no pun intended). As far as I can tell, they're reconvening to vote on whether to vote again to lead to another vote, by the people this time, on an amendment to the state constitution barring gay people from marrying, but only if they are the same sex, and only if it won't be recognized outside the state, or wait yes it can, or maybe we want civil unions, and what does the church have to s—ack, who knows. Enshrining bigotry in the constitution is so complicated! What happened to the good ole days, when bigots could just go and lynch someone they didn't like? Oh wait, that still happens.

There's lots of chatter about what the outcome of today's events will be—some predict a civil unions push, others say it's still split down the middle—but frankly I don't really understand what all the fuss is about. No matter what does or doesn't get passed today, the court has said (twice!) that gay people can apply for full marriage licenses come May 17, 2004; short of physically barring a gay couple from entering a license office, there's little anyone can do to stop gay marriage right now. And even if an anti-gay bill/amendment passes today, it's only the first step in a very long process: because of ratification laws, the very earliest such a bill/amendment could go up for vote by citizens (the last step before ratification) is in 2006—nearly 2.5 years after gay people will have been recognized as full citizens and allowed to marry each other.

By that time, of course, homophobes say the world will have come to an end and aborted fetuses will be fornicating with their brothers and sisters among the smoldering ruins of our civilization, all thanks to gay marriage. More likely, though, is a social landscape much like, say, the Netherlands today, which this month celebrates 2.5 years since same-sex marriage was first legalized in the country. According to that linked Washington Post article examining how the country is today, it turns out little, if anything, has changed because of the Dutch government's historic September 2001 marriage decision (the first in history): weddings, divorces, pre-nups, honeymoons, alimony, all that boring crap continues as always, and life goes on with hardly anyone batting an eyelash about gay people. That's right, no polygamists or pedophiles have come forward demanding their right to marry in odd/illegal combinations. Dogs and sheep remain unwed to their masters (or each other). The LORD YOUR GOD JEHOVAH has not rained down the fires of hell upon the peoples of Sodom, etc. Some Nederlander officials still refuse to wed same-sex couples (the law says they have that right), so couples just go to someone else, no problem.....<Sigh> We can only hope.

Actually, I won't lie: deep down I am opposed to same-sex marriage. You see, I actually support the proposed amendment that would "define marriage as between one man and one woman, or two hot women." SO HOTTT! Though in general I find having to associate with the lezzie dyke doughnut-bumpers to be an unfortunate side effect of being of the gay persuasion, I'm actually really excited about this amendment because—as the article mentions—how awesome will it be if the word twat makes it into the Constitution? [Via the always hilarious Ken at Durhey]

....OK, so the so-called "two hot women" amendment is (sadly) a complete satire, but methinks the talentless 50 Cent must have taken it as fact, as he told Playboy this month that he really loves lesbians but he "ain't into faggots. I don't like gay people around me, because I'm not comfortable with what their thoughts are. I'm not prejudiced. I just don't go with gay people and kick it—we don't have that much in common. I'd rather hang out with some straight dude." To which Strom Thurmond replied: "I ain't into niggers. I don't like black people around me, because I'm not comfortable with what their thoughts are or how I might get shot by a gangbanger if I stand too close to them. I'm not prejudiced. I just don't go with the coloreds and kick it—we don't have that much in common, since I'm not from the ghetto. I'd rather hang out with some white dude."

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Witchy Woman

Though she no longer, uh, espouses Scientology, it seems Nicole Kidman still has an interest in marginalized quasi-religious pagan cults: she's all set to play the evil White Witch—the bitch ice queen who seduces young boys with candy and plunges Narnia into an eternal winter—in a movie adaptation of C.S. Lewis's The Lion, The Witch, & The Wardrobe***, one of the famous books from that underappreciated genre "blatant Christian allegories thinly disguised as children's books." The film's not due out until Christmas 2005, but last week Disney printed a (Nicole-free) ad for it in USA Today, perhaps hoping to raise interest in this avowedly Christian film among the jew-haters fans of The Passion or piggyback on the critical and commercial success of J.R.R. Tolkien's pseudo-religious Lord of the Rings tomes. (Indeed, it was a young Tolkien himself who first turned the then-atheist C.S. Lewis on to Christianity while they were both at Oxford, leading both authors to embark on a long career of writing symbolically-loaded and unashamedly "Christian apologist" fiction.) This is just after PBS finalized plans to air a 4-part documentary on C.S. Lewis based on that storied Harvard class everyone shops but no one actually takes, 'Sigmund Freud v. C.S. Lewis: Two Contrasting World Views.'

***What's up with this Zap2it article about Nicole and Wardrobe? It says Wardrobe "will be filmed on location in New Zealand and Czechoslovakia." Now I know the film is a fantasy, but considering Czechoslovakia no longer exists (and hasn't for 11 years), how do they plan on filming there?

Going back to Nicole for a moment: news of Nic's bad witch role in Wardrobe arrived just weeks after the official announcement that she will star as good witch Samantha in a Summer 2005 movie version of TV's Bewitched, opposite Will Ferrell's mortal Darrin. (How great would it be if about 40 minutes into the film Jack Black suddenly came onscreen instead of Will Ferrell and played Darrin for the rest of the movie, in homage to the whole Dick York/Dick Sargent switcheroo from the original TV series? Heh.) Though this will probably be the first time Nicole will be acting opposite someone as tall as she is, I can't say I really see Nicole Kidman and Will Ferrell as an on-screen couple—I mean, are they remaking Bewitched or Linda Hamilton's Beauty & The Beast?

Oh yeah, so all these witch roles for Nicole have been announced within months of the arrival of her next big blockbuster starring role (I'm assuming her lead in April's devastating and long-awaited Dogville won't have them lining up at the multiplex), in the remake of The Stepford Wives due out early this summer [watch the trailer]. The original was a campy horrorish flick, but Nic and others involved in the movie have said this one will be more of a social satire, with Nicole's perfectly engineered android-wife playing it more like the gals from The Witches of Eastwick. I think it will probably be horrible, but how great will it be to see Nicole playing a robot wife opposite that most robotic of thespians, Christopher Walken?

Dude, it's just witch witch witch for this woman! What's next, a Harry Potter movie? (How great would it be if she played the adult Hermione in a flash-forward sequence, or better yet, a REUNION SPECIAL?) Is Nicole jealous of the success serious actresses like Cate Blanchett and Maggie Smith are finding these days playing witchish characters (that's in Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, respectively)? Or maybe it's just that after years of being married to a little troll (and a gay one, at that), it's easy for Nicole to envision herself in fantasy roles. <Zing!>

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Twat in the Hat

...And no, I'm not talkin about this picture of Paris Hilton. I'm talkin about how last week we all forgot to celebrate the 100th birthday of Dr. Seuss, which was exactly one week ago today (March 2, 1904). To celebrate, the Seuss estate encourages everyone to go hop on their pop. Eww!

Anyway, the NEA has a lenghty Seuss biography, while the BBC honors the artist formerly known as Geisel by listing a bunch of little-known facts about the good doctor, first and foremost being the fact that he wasn't actually a doctor. Hell, he never even finished reading for his masters at Oxford, forget about getting a full doctorate. (Well, Dartmouth, his alma mater, gave him an honorary doctorate in 1955 [how do colleges give doctoral degrees?], and rightly so: aside from the fact that Big Green is the only place in the world where the populace is consistently drunk enough to truly appreciate his books, it was while at Dartmouth that he first started using his "pseussonym." This news item from Dartmouth details Seuss-related events at the college, including the inevitable green-egg breakfast.)

Speaking of which, did you know Green Eggs & Ham was written after someone bet Dr. Seuss that he couldn't write a book using only 50 words? He did, and they are: I am Sam; that; do not like; you green eggs and ham; them; would here or there; anywhere; in a house with mouse; eat box fox; car they; could; may will see tree; let me be; train on; say the dark; rain; goat; boat; so try may; if; good; thank. Now if only he could have used a few more words to clarify one thing: does "green" modify both eggs and ham, or just eggs? Because while green eggs are fine, green ham is just narst, and sounds like either a small town in the English countryside or something dirty you do in a back alley in Amsterdam.

Though chances are you'd be hard-pressed to find a kid who hasn't at least flipped through a Dr. Seuss book—the Beeb says 1 in 4 children gets The Cat in the Hat as their first book (mine was actually One Fish, Two Fish...)—it's unfortunate that kids these days are forced to associate Dr. Seuss with the horrid film versions of How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Cat in the Hat, or worse, Seussical The Musical. Relatedly, did you know Dr. Seuss has not only a special Pulitzer but two Emmys and an Oscar (Best Animated Short 1951)?

If it weren't 9 o'clock in the fawking morning I would have written this posting in adorable but also subversive rhyming couplets à la Seuss himself. [More Seussentennial information]

Monday, March 08, 2004

Child's Play

Inspired by the great Raffi-spoofing "Marge vs. Singles, Seniors, Childless Couples and Teens, and Gays (SSCCATAG)" Simpsons episode that rerun last night, our topic today is children's music. So let's start with Radiohead. How the hell did they get so big? They're overwrought, totally depressing, absolutely impenetrable, and only enjoyed by graduate students—pretty much like every other major artist to come out of Britain since, well, Lord Byron in the 19th century, basically. And dude, they're no fun at all to listen to: because of the endless blowjobs positive reviews of Thom Yorke & Co. that have been published over the years, when you listen to Radiohead you're no longer actually listening to Radiohead—you're listening to critical opinion about listening to Radiohead, as has been noted many times before (namely at the funny East Bay Express).

EBX actually had a great piece several months back where they played choice Radiohead cuts for a classroom of fifth graders and asked them to draw pictures of whatever the music suggested to them. Though the children's artistic abilities far exceed mine, perhaps unsurprisingly, my opinion of (and visceral response to) the band fell almost exactly in line with the little 10-year-olds'. Among other things, the music inspires them to: giggle; grip their heads confusedly; imagine giant asparaguses and depressed dolphins; contemplate suicide (free suicide, no less); cry out "Mommy please come help"; and of course request Sean Paul instead—all things I feel when being forced to endure Thom Yorke's warbly anarchic diatribes.

A similar test—with music from indie darlings like The Strokes, Yo La Tengo, and the Pernice Brothers (a personal fave)—was run multiple times on a gaggle of Brooklyn kindergartners, yielding similar—and no less incisive—critiques. Did you hear that, trucker-hatted Williamsburg clones? Someone in Brooklyn actually has original taste! Seriously, these kindergartners are awesome: the less enthusiastic endorsements range from "it hurts my head like a hundred dogs" (The Strokes) to "this music is making me die" (Kleenex Girl Wonder) to the succinct but devastatingly accurate "barf" (Allen Clapp). The kid who felt vomitous also had this moment of almost Joycean epiphany: "A shadow of a hawk fell over us and then we ran in the ocean and there was the avalanche of big rocks." I don't know what that means, but it sounds like the lyrics from Kid A, innit? But by far the most accurate response was inspired by The Strokes's addictive single 'Soma': "Right away you can tell: it's white people." Ha! Who hasn't felt that way at least once during the course of taking in a rock show?

This all got turned on its head when Gawker editor/my secret fantasy Choire Sicha and others did a piece at The Morning News where they forced adults to listen to children's music rather than the other way around. The torture instruments of choice this time around were the greatest hits of the romper room set, including the quite catchy Beach Boys-in-junior high CD by the Langley Schools Music Project as well as the horrific As Seen On TV Kidz Bop series, where crowds of off-key rugrats warble through Top 40 radio hits. The kiddies' music is treated little better than the kiddies themselves treated Thom Yorke, Joe Pernice, et al., with great quotes about the tunes including "This isn’t Fame. This is Shame" and the timely "This would sound better in Aramaic." The best quip of all, though, came in response to the kid version of Mary J. Blige's 'No More Drama' (that "Don't need no hateration" etc. song): "In my opinionation, singerating with the childrification is all crunk until you viewify their standardized test scores." Does No Child Left Behind need a theme song?

Friday, March 05, 2004

Belated Oscar Thoughts - UPDATED 5pm

I know, I'm way too late on the Oscar wrap-up, and anyway everyone knows you're not truly a blogger until you've blogged the Oscars live/in progress. But hey, I was still on sabbatical/getting my chakras scrubbed when it all went down, so this will have to suffice.

First lets get poor, poor, sexy Scarlett Johansson out of the way. Like Rodney Dangerfield, she still gets no respect, as once again, just like at the Golden Globes, bitch hag Sofia Coppola totally neglected to thank Scarlett in her acceptance speech (don't believe me? read it yourself: "And every writer needs a muse. Mine was Bill Murray." Sofie, honey, a muse is a busty blond who uses her big fat rack to inspire you: Arthur Miller had Marilyn Monroe, Albert Brooks had Sharon Stone, Donatella Versace had Britney Spears, and you should have had curvaceous Ms. Johansson, not some crotchety old white dude with a bad tan. It all worked out in the end, though, when Scarlett strutted onstage with those pouty lips and that come-hither-and-rock-my-panties voice to give the award for Best something or the other—who knows, I was too busy wetting myself. And in her emerald green Alberta Ferretti dress, she was channeling the look of my Oscar crush from last year, Julianne Moore. Yes please!

Otherwise this had to have been one of the most boring Oscar ceremonies in recent memory: no surprise wins, no upsets, no wacky ballerina-inspired dresses, no saucy acceptance speeches, nothing. Zzzzzzz. I think ABC realized how much of a snorer it was and edited it down—didn't it feel shorter than normal to you? Or maybe it just seemed not as long to me because my brain has blocked out all the parts filled with Billy Crystal's wretched "jokes." Also, everyone wore boring white or flesh-tone dresses, so there weren't any easy fashion victims/targets (other than Marcia Gay Harden in her blueberry dress channeling Violet Beauregarde from Willy Wonka). Even Joan and Missy Rivers were wearing tasteful frocks; I guess the terrorists really have won.

Oh, there was some tsk-tsking over Uma Thurman's bizarre (but still blah white) sashed bolero dress by Christian Lacroix (how AbFab!), but I don't think it's possible for Uma Thurman to ever truly look unappealing. Uma's true comeuppance will come courtesy of Ethan Hawke's interview with Barbara Walters tonight, in which he will admit (according to the AP article on the interview): "It's just too hard to be married to a woman that wants to be a movie star." Excuse me, did you say a woman that wants to be a movie star? I wouldn't exactly call Uma Thurman an unknown hoping to get discovered. Maybe Ethan's confusing Uma with his new girlfriend Jen Perzow, who's such a nobody she's just a model, not even a "model/actress." And, um, hate to break it to you, Ethe, but those are some choice catty words coming from a dude who manages to not only star in shitty movies but also direct shitty movies and write shitty books. I guess we shouldn't expect much mental acuity from the man who gave up the chance to bone Uma Thurman.

Speaking of boning, how many of you ladies out there went into Tantric convulsions when Sting took the stage to make sweet sweet love to his dulcimer or whatever the hell instrument he was playing when he performed 'You Will Be My Ain True Love' with Alison Krauss? I mean cmon, he was rubbing and fondling that thing from BOTH ENDS! I changed my underwear at least 5 times, but I think one of those instances was because of Alison's shimmering Stuart Weitzman stilettos, which ended up being the big story of the evening since the nominations were so uninteresting and predictable. The shoes cost a whopping $2 million to make and are covered in real diamonds; in comparison, a pair of Judy Garland's original ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz sold at auction in 2000 for about ¼ of that price.

Let's see, what else....Boston gave a respectable showing, with Sean Penn and Tim Robbins winning for the faux Southie-set Mystic River and Cambridge's own Errol Morris winning Best Documentary for The Fog of War. It would have been nice to see Dennis Lehane there—I hated Mystic River the novel, on which the movie is based, but his Kenzie & Gennaro series of mysteries are one of my favorites. I guess since he technically wasn't nominated—though he wrote Mystic River, Brian Helgeland was the sole Best Screenplay nominee for the movie adaptation—maybe he wasn't invited.

On the topic of books and the Oscars, I realized (well, Steven Spielberg mentioned it in his intro to the Best Picture noms) that the Best Picture and Best Director nominees (except Lost in Translation) were all based on books. I also realized that I've read all these "nominated" books, except for Seabiscuit. (I'm sorry, Fred, I know you love the book, but I just can't bring myself to read it; gay men just don't read sports books, even if they contain the phrases "mounting" and "horse-hung.") Anyway, I must say that I thought the movie was way better for every single book, Mystic River especially. Or maybe I'm just stupider now.

UPDATE: Let's talk briefly about the distaff winners of the evening. First up, Charlize Theron: WTF? Here's a rundown of Charlize's accomplishments in Hollywood so far (taken from Children of the Corn III; costarring with a gorilla; costarring with Keanu Reaves; The Italian Job; and Oscar winner. One of these things is not like the other! But hey, isn't it neat how (as IMDb claims) Charlize won the Oscar for playing executed serial killer Aileen Wuornos on what would have been Aileen's 48th birthday? And re: Renée Zellweger. I loathe the stupid twat. Yet I clapped harder than anyone else Oscar night when she won Best Supporting Actress for her cornpone-chawing turn in Cold Mountain. Why? Let's put it this way: have you seen any movies (OK, any good and/or successful movies) lately starring Kim Basinger ('98), Angelina Jolie ('00), Mira Sorvino ('96), or Dianne Wiest ('95), all recent Best Supporting Actresses? Didn't think so! Everyone knows that winning the Best Supporting Oscar sounds the death knoll for an actress's career—so after the Bridget Jones sequel comes out later this year, Renée should be out of our hair for good and back to doing coke in the bathroom on Oscar night (remember that from 2002)!