Friday, November 28, 2008

Parades or Killer Fetuses, That is the Question

Babies aren't always so cute and cuddly.

The title of this post is, of course, a quote from "Hamlet." I think the whole thing goes:
Parades or killer fetuses, that is the question;
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer

The murderous unborn in films produced by Roger Corman,

Or to watch a giant inflatable Snoopy take over the streets of New York

Both are almost equally pointless, and will make you want to die, to sleep.
(That last part might be off by a few words. It's been a while since I last read "Hamlet.")

Yesterday was Thanksgiving here in the United States, and it's a day that's always been "meh" for me, perhaps because I don't like turkey or football -- or maybe because I don't need to be reminded to be thankful for all the good things in my life.

For me, Thanksgiving means there are marathons of horrible shows on cable all day and there's no mail service. Is that really worth celebrating? Then there's the family togetherness concept, which always sounds so warm and fuzzy in theory and ends up being more like a bad Fassbinder film in practice, but without the very things that make bad Fassbinder films bearable: English subtitles and sodomy. (Oh, and without the Hanna Schygulla. Can't forget the Hanna Schygulla.)

Quickly, if you will -- this was supposed to a parenthetical aside but spiraled out of control -- here is how Thanksgiving goes with my family. Once the food has been consumed, everyone divides into two camps: the guys congregate in front of the TV, where they natter on endlessly about typical guy subjects (sports and cars at first, and then the dads start talking about Iraq or weather-proofing the house, while my cousins say things about Natalie Portman and Megan Fox that make me recoil and reach for the travel-size Purell that I never leave home without), and the women sit around the dining room table discussing the stupidity of their respective husbands and children.

Where do I fit into any of these conversations? I don't know anything about cars, I've never given any thought to having sex with Natalie Portman or Megan Fox (I'm more the Kerry Washington, Eva Mendes and assorted middle-aged French and Spanish actresses type), and I don't have a husband or kids to complain about. There are times at family get-togethers when I have lots of lesbian company. (You know the scene in
"Arsenic and Old Lace" when Cary Grant's character tells Priscilla Lane something like, "Insanity runs in my family. It practically gallops." Replace insanity with gayness and you've described my dad's side of the family. Assemble us all in the same room and the only place you'll find more lesbians is at a Tegan and Sara concert.) But forces conspired against us last night and the end result was an interminable straightfest. The kind that has you trying to mentally recite the "Who's on First?" comedy routine or play entire songs from Pet Sounds in your head to keep from losing consciousness and plunging face first into a gravy boat.

The good news is that despite all this, my Thanksgiving wasn't a total bust. I did have time to watch
"The Unborn," an egregiously terrible horror/sci-fi hybrid that Roger Corman produced in the early '90s. Normally I don't go anywhere near Roger Corman movies (even the women-in-prison ones that boast Pam Grier in the cast, which is really saying something), but one that's about killer fetuses -- starring no less than Brooke "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" Adams herself -- sounded too good to pass up, especially when the alternative was watching a family-friendly parade that didn't feature any dykes on bikes or leather queens in assless chaps.

The premise of "The Unborn" is pretty simple: a crazy infertility specialist (played by James Karen) is impregnating unsuspecting, desperate-to-reproduce women with murderous babies. We're talking babies so murderous they start killing when they're still in the womb. Babies so murderous that even being aborted doesn't quell their blood lust. It's enough to make John McCain reconsider putting the health of the mother in air quotes, I'll tell you that much.

Altogether, yes, it was 83 minutes of my life that I'll never get back. The direction, by Rodman Flender (the man behind the masterpiece that was "Leprechaun 2"), was seemingly nonexistent, and I'm not quite sure there was an actual screenplay involved. But think of all the things you see in those 83 minutes. There's Lisa Kudrow in a bit part as a flaky doctor's receptionist, looking unusually demented; Kathy Griffin as a dippy New Age lesbian whose expectant partner, alas, turns out to be a bit too much like Kenneth Halliwell for my liking; K Callan, who played the lesbian partner of Edith's dead cousin on a groundbreaking episode of All in the Family, as Adam's mentally unstable mother; an indescribably awkward sex scene involving a married couple and a rocking chair; an aborted fetus stabbing its father through the eye with a knitting needle; and a vengeful Brooke Adams
training a gun on a baby. How often does that happen in a movie?

For all its many faults, "The Unborn" -- when it isn't taking shots at science, infertility, reproductive rights, mental illness, feminism and lesbianism -- does provide a valuable social service of sorts: It encourages adoption by stressing the point that once you get pregnant, you never quite know what you're carrying. Your baby could be a psychotic murderer for all you know, one that's intent on destroying you from the inside out and killing your partner as well. Babies are entitled enough as it is, crying and screaming whenever they want something and making you feed them and make silly faces for their amusement. To think they can also rip through our stomachs in a violent rage and plot deadly car crashes when things aren't going their way, well, that's enough to convince me that adoption is the way to go.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Wherefore Art Thou Homosexual Actors?

So that's where all the gay leading men are.

Mark Caro of the Chicago Tribune wonders why there are no openly gay leading men in Hollywood. (For my part, I wondered why Mark Caro was asking such a silly question until I saw the accompanying promotional still from Milk.) There aren't any openly gay leading ladies in Hollywood, either, but never mind that; the answer to Caro's question is simple -- the entertainment industry is full of cowards, the media is full of cowards, and the public is full of idiots.

With that out of the way, I have to take issue with Caro raising the tired suggestion that it might be easier for women to come out (or kinda come out) in Hollywood and retain their careers than men. After noting that straight actors like Tom Hanks "have no problems being believed as gay men—or murderers or mentally challenged characters—yet there's much doubt that an openly gay actor could be convincing carrying a romance with the opposite sex," he writes:
There also may be different standards for women and men. Although Jodie Foster does not discuss her personal life, while accepting an award late last year she thanked "my beautiful Cydney" in reference to the woman widely acknowledged to be her partner. Cynthia Nixon's revelation that she is a lesbian had no effect on her participation in this year's smash "Sex and the City" movie, and if anything, Lindsay Lohan has received more sympathetic press since she began dating DJ Samantha Ronson (and stopped acting so erratically).
Isn't that all a bit flimsy? As Caro admits, Jodie Foster doesn't discuss her personal life. While everyone knows that she's gay (or almost everyone, as surely there must be someone in Kansas...), and while she knows that we know she's gay, she has never confirmed to the media that what we know, and she knows that we know, is in fact true.

(This is the part of the post where Fielding Mellish interrupts the proceedings with a passionate: "I object, your honor! This trial is a travesty. It's a travesty of a mockery of a sham of a mockery of a travesty of two mockeries of a sham. I move for a mistrial! Do you realize there's not a single homosexual on that jury?")

You'll remember that Foster's "beautiful Cydney" comment, which prompted major news outlets to declare her officially out of the closet, was never followed up by anything from Foster herself. If the media wants to consider her "out," that's their prerogative, but she hasn't said a word on the subject. Until she takes that step, she cannot be lumped in with celebrities who have put their careers on the line by saying in no uncertain terms that they're gay. She hasn't earned a place at their table.

And let's not pretend that she's known for pulling off convincing onscreen romances with members of the opposite sex. Have we already forgotten about the flop that was Anna and the King? Her abject failure to generate chemistry with Matthew McConaughey in Contact? Foster hasn't, which is why she spends more time outwitting and overpowering men than seducing them in her most commercially successful films.

Then there's the case of Cynthia Nixon. Of course her coming out didn't effect her participation in the Sex and the City movie; she was 1/4th of the show. And it is the show, not the movie, that's key here, because Nixon was in a heterosexual relationship for most of Sex and the City's run on HBO; her coming out didn't happen until seven or eight months after the series wrapped. Would she have been cast as Miranda Hobbes if she'd been out 10 years ago? Would T.R. Knight have been cast on Grey's Anatomy if the public already knew him as a gay man? Good luck getting a straight answer now, so to speak, on either count.

That leaves us with Lindsay Lohan, whose career is in tatters. Lohan says she isn't gay and is apparently reluctant to call herself bisexual. How do any of these things point to women possibly having it easier than men? Particularly when, as Caro points out, it is "unclear" whether audiences would accept some openly lesbian performers, such as Ellen DeGeneres and Rosie O'Donnell, as anything other than lesbians. (Perhaps that wasn't what Caro was getting at, but "different" usually boils down to "easier" in these debates.) If Hollywood actresses have reason to believe they can come out without harming their careers, why are so many of them still in the closet?

Caro's article mentions seven openly gay male celebrities: Clay Aiken, Lance Bass, Elton John, Ian McKellen, Rupert Everett, Neil Patrick Harris, and T.R. Knight. On the women's side, he counts the newly out Wanda Sykes and the not-so-newly-out Ellen DeGeneres, the "seems like it's been a lifetime but it was only in 2002" Rosie O'Donnell, the presumably bisexual Nixon and possibly bisexual Lohan, and Foster. Who won't comment on her sexuality. (I'd call her a Beautiful Cydneybian, but even that has been thrown into doubt.) Additionally, Caro name-checks Richard Chamberlain and Rock Hudson as actors who came out later in life, and while I'm not sure that's technically true of Hudson, it's certainly true of other actors -- Farley Granger, Tab Hunter and George Takei come to mind. If these men have any lesbian counterparts in the United States, their names have slipped my mind. Maybe there are different standards for women and men after all...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Two Straight Guys Sorta Talk About Gay Movies

My Pacino cop of choice -- one who doesn't kill gay people.

I threw in the "sorta" because, let's be honest, a lot of this brief interview Salon's Andrew O'Hehir conducted with Boys in the Band director William Friedkin is simply O'Hehir (also known as O'Hewho, because Stephanie Zacharek is the only Salon critic anyone reads now that Charles Taylor is gone) kissing Friedkin's ass.

O'Hehir, I'll admit, lost me before the interview even started, when he referred to Cruising, Friedkin's second cinematic run-in with the gays, as a "powerful, intriguing and unfairly demonized picture." Once he gets going with Friedkin, he adds, "Cruising is also out on DVD now, and also ripe for reappraisal."

Except for the part where there's nothing to reappraise. Cruising, which presents gayness as a deadly virus that is sexually transmitted from one cock-crazed leather enthusiast to another (Ed Gonzalez called it "an AIDS metaphor
ahead of its time, except in this heterosexual fantasy of the gay world, every gay man gets it"), is a movie that only Fred Phelps and Pat Robertson could love.

That Friedkin is a skilled director does not make Cruising any less vile now than it was 28 years ago, and to call it unfairly demonized
is a bit like suggesting that Gordon Willis's Windows -- the one about the psychotic lesbian who, lacking a penis of her own, hires a man to rape the woman she's obsessed with -- was misunderstood and deserves a second, more open-minded look. As the gay critic David Ehrenstein opined in a 1995 article about Cruising: "This is a horror film. And we are the monster." Time has not, and cannot, change that.

Now, had O'Hehir called Jade unfairly maligned and questioned whether it might be a classic on par with The French Connection and The Exorcist, that would've been a whole different kettle of fish...

(See how crazy that sounds?)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Larry Kramer on Proposition 8

From Maureen Dowd's Sunday column about gay marriage (and Harvey Milk):
I e-mailed Larry Kramer, the leading activist for gay rights in the era that followed Milk's, to get his read on Prop 8. (In 1983, I interviewed Kramer about the new scourge of AIDS, and he read me a list from a green notebook of 37 friends who had died. )

"DON'T WE HAVE THE RIGHT TO HAVE RIGHTS?" he e-mailed back, blessedly cantankerous. "I AM ASHAMED OF YOU THAT YOU HAD TO ASK ME THAT QUESTION."
That's a very good response.

Candace Gingrich Calls Out "Hater" Brother Newt

Being a huge bitch myself (just ask anyone who knows me!), I'd have preferred something nastier -- maybe a dig at Newt's three marriages, two divorces, history of infidelity, or the way he treated his first wife when she was battling uterine cancer -- but she sums things up nicely at the end when she writes:
What really worries me is that you are always willing to use LGBT Americans as political weapons to further your ambitions. That's really so '90s, Newt. In this day and age, it's embarrassing to watch you talk like that. You should be more afraid of the new political climate in America, because, there is no place for you in it.
Then again, I'm pretty sure that any "new political climate in America" that has room for Michele "Krazee-Eyez Killa" Bachmann can accommodate Newt Gingrich and his enormous head (and even bigger ego) as well.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Everyone Loves Destructive Primates

Because I feel bad about not posting anything today (in addition to not posting anything of substance yesterday, or practically any day since starting this blog), here's a picture of a monkey crashing a party in the old Warner Brothers comedy Lady Killer:


Isn't that awesome? The movie, one of five starring James Cagney to be released in 1933, would be pretty humdrum if not for the monkeys gone wild scene (in which Cagney adds a little too much life to Margaret Lindsay's birthday bash with the help of a barrelful of monkeys) and the blink-and-you-miss-it kiss a naughty Cagney plants on Mae Clarke's breast.

Part of the problem is the lack of chemistry between Cagney and Lindsay, who'd have made a more believable pair as platonic friends whose heads were both turned by Clarke. What I'm trying to say -- read this next part in the voice of that office slut character Cheri Oteri played on Saturday Night Live -- what I'm trying to say is that Margaret Lindsay was a massive dyke. Like Cagney and Lacey rolled into one, if you're looking to quantify it. I'll grant you she wore a dress better than Hope Emerson or Marjorie Main, but she couldn't have seemed less interested in James Cagney in Lady Killer if he'd been wearing a giant sign that said "Get Your Herpes Here."

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

eHarmony Will Take Your Gay Money Now

But it appears they still want us to keep our distance from the mother ship, and will instead be directing us to our own special gay site from which our homo cooties can't infect all the normal, healthy heterosexual customers who are seeking opposite-sex partners for Bible-approved, procreation-oriented, missionary-positioned hookups within the miserable bounds of traditional man-woman holy matrimony over at "regular" eHarmony.

I'd type more, but I confused myself with all of that.

Hitchcock Would've Loved This

One of the only Hitchcock films that bores me to tears.

This kind of stuff freaks me out. Jason Jones, a 26-year-old forklift operator, was arrested in May for the shooting death of a government witness in a drug case. Jones maintained his innocence and offered investigators an easy way to verify his alibi: they could check his MetroCard history to see where he'd been on the night of the murder. He said he had used public transportation to first stop at a cash-checking joint and later to visit his girlfriend, but police didn't bother looking into it. That didn't stop federal prosecutors from charging him with murder, which can carry a possible death sentence.

You can guess where this is going, right? A private investigator working for Jones's attorney went to the jail where Jones had been held and found the MetroCard in question. He took it to the New York City Transit Authority, which was able to confirm that Jones had been on every bus and subway he said he'd been on that night. The investigator also found time-stamped, photographic proof that Jones had been at the cash-checking office with his coworkers just as he had always claimed. It was enough to get him released on bond, but the charges have yet to be dropped.

Aren't the authorities supposed to check into these things before charges are filed, or is that the kind of silly, old-fashioned concept that's essentially meaningless now, like the separation of church and state?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Gay Men Will Continue to Spend Like Drunken Sailors Despite Flagging Economy

When money is tight and Elton John needs to spend another $40,000 on flowers,
he simply finds a new pot of gold to raid.

At least that's what I gleaned from these survey results about straights and gays of both genders and how they're reacting to the economy going down the drain. And, hey, as long as they can afford it, good for them! Stimulating the economy is a dirty job (someone like Michael Lucas should probably make a movie about just how dirty such stimulation can be), but someone's gotta do it. Me, I'm more the financially conservative type. My last big purchase was about $30 worth of books from Amazon, and even that I wouldn't have bothered with if I hadn't had a gift certificate to use.*

You might recall that back in June, gay and lesbian consumers were surprisingly unconcerned about the state of the economy. Around the same time, business owners and politicians in California were rubbing their hands in glee when a study projected that gay marriage, if it remained legal past November 4, would bring hundreds of millions of dollars into the state in a span of only three years. Ah, June. It was only five months ago, but we were all so innocent then.

* The books, by the way, were David Simon's "Homicide," Nella Larsen's "Passing," and Andrey Platonov's "Soul: And Other Stories." I'm sure this knowledge has enriched your life in unimaginable ways. If you want me to come back tomorrow and tell you what I had for lunch, I'd be happy to do so.

NPR on Grey's Anatomy

TV critic Andrew Wallenstein's commentary on Dr. Hahn's departure from Grey's Anatomy is one of the best I've heard so far, and you can now listen to it in its entirety on the NPR website. He starts off by addressing the issue that has bothered me the most about the firing of actress Brooke Smith -- namely, that it doesn't make sense for a show that is overrun with one-dimensional characters played by so-so actors to get rid of an interesting character played by a talented actress.

In Wallenstein's words:
"What's most unfortunate is Hahn may have been the most richly drawn character the show ever yielded. Finely played by a respected character actor like Brooke Smith, Dr. Hahn's sexual awakening provided what's otherwise a pretty vacuous soap opera some real moments of dramatic heft."
He also hits just the right note when he goes after ABC at the end of the piece, giving a nod to all the ways gays currently exist on TV (as cuddly daytime talk show hosts, as comic foils, as one-time ratings stunts during sweeps) and concluding that "Grey's may have been doing something more provocative by normalizing a gay relationship." Until they screwed it all up, of course.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Howard Stern Weighs In on Wanda, Portia and Ellen

How would Tobias Fünke have felt about Prop 8?

It's been a while since I last attempted to transcribe any Howard Stern Show shenanigans (I'm still worn out from this Tracy Morgan appearance in March), but this morning Howard devoted a few minutes to Wanda Sykes coming out at a Prop 8 protest rally in Nevada over the weekend and it led to a brief conversation that gave us some insight into what the straightest people on radio think about prominent lesbians.

The exchange came after Howard paused a clip of Wanda's speech at the mention of her wife, and involves Howard and Stern Show cast members Robin Quivers and Artie Lange. Both Howard and Robin (along with sound effects genius Fred Norris) have been outspoken critics of Proposition 8 and measures banning gay marriage and gay adoption in other states; George Takei, the official announcer of the Howard Stern Show, married his longtime partner, Brad Altman, in California in September.
Howard: I wonder if her chick is hot. I always like to see that.

Robin: Well, her wife was there, you didn't see the visual?

Howard: No. I wonder if she's a big fat white chick. I could picture her with a big fat white chick.

Robin: Really?

Howard: I don't know why.

Robin: Why not a hot chick? She's in show business.

Howard: I would love to see that. But a lot of these women, the real hardcore lesbians -- I don't mean the ones that, like, make out at the strip club 'cause you're giving them twenties, I'm talking about hardcore lesbians who live with women and stuff -- they're attracted to a whole different scene.

Robin: Like Cynthia What's-her-name --

Howard: Right.

Robin: -- from Sex and the City.

Artie: Oh, that broad...

Robin: She grabbed an odd girl.

Howard: Yeah.

Artie: She's gay.

Howard: That's a real gay woman.

Artie: She's dating Danny Bonaduce.

Howard: It's like that thing when you go to the strip club and you see two really hot chicks like making out with one another, that's one thing, but they're not real committed to the lesbian lifestyle.

Robin: So where do you find Ellen and Portia de Rossi?

Howard: Well, they're hardcore lesbians. I mean, Ellen's a mess, and Portia de Rossi's super hot.

Robin: Uh-huh.

Artie: Portia wants to -- you don't think Portia might be doing, like, a little bit of the Anne Heche thing? Like she's just --

Howard: No. I think Portia's gay, but she wants a mannish-looking woman. Like, she's really gay. They're two real gay people.

Artie: Right.

Howard: Those are real gays right there.

Robin: Real.

Howard: Real gays.
While the "Ellen's a mess" line kind of screws things up a little, it was nice to hear Howard smack Artie down on that tired "Maybe Portia's not really gay..." theory, particularly because Howard himself has a history of making comments about the DeGeneres/de Rossi relationship that make me cringe and change the station. (He never sounds more hopelessly heterosexual than when he tries to guess what happens in their bedroom. I mean, please, read this old Advocate interview with de Rossi and tell me with a straight face that you think she's a pillow princess.)

As for Sykes, after listening to her say, "Now let's go get our damn equal rights," Stern replied, "Right on," and noted, "Boy, she's got the triple whammy. She's gay, she's black, and she's a woman. There's no hope. All your rights have been stripped all over the world. Good luck. She should announce she's Jewish, then that would be the quadruple whammy."

If Prince Was Your Girlfriend (He'd Tell You to Stop Being Gay)

I'll let this photo speak for itself.

Wendy and Lisa need to bitch slap this crazy-assed mofo right off his platform heels. Truly, it cannot be just any old bitch slap. It has to the bitch-slappiest of bitch slaps. It has to be hard. Because now that the artist formerly known as "The Artist Formerly Known as Prince," that once nameless paragon of, uh, robust heterosexuality, has found religion (I understand it had been hiding at the bottom of a Cracker Jack box, where you'd normally find a small plastic horse), he is turning his back on us, his gay fans.

That's right, he has forsaken us to climb into bed with the businessman and hatemonger Philip Anschutz (in a non-sexual kind of way, one would guess, since the only hard-on Anschutz has for homosexuals has to do with oppressing us — but who knows, maybe they're into a bondage scene together), and recently told The New Yorker's Claire Hoffman that Democrats are making a mistake by supporting gay marriage.* Conceding that the so-called red state approach to government doesn't work because there are multiple ways to interpret the Bible, Prince continued, "And then on the opposite end of the spectrum you've got blue, you've got the Democrats, and they're, like, 'You can do whatever you want.' Gay marriage, whatever. But neither of them is right."

You can read the pocket-size pop star's explanation of what's wrong with both political parties at the New Yorker website. Hoffman also writes:
When asked about his perspective on social issues—gay marriage, abortion—Prince tapped his Bible and said, "God came to earth and saw people sticking it wherever and doing it with whatever, and he just cleared it all out. He was, like, 'Enough.' "
A spokesman for God couldn't be reached for comment, but sources close to him suggest he once had a similar reaction after seeing a Prince concert. "It is my understanding that God hasn't bought a Prince album since Lovesexy," said a confidante who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of rankling his all-powerful friend. "Or maybe the Batman soundtrack. I remember God loved 'Batdance.'

"At first he was willing to overlook the hyper-sexual lyrics and the debauchery of the stage shows because songs like 'When You Were Mine' spoke to the human condition," the source continued. "But after ten years of singing about sex, sex, sex, all the time sex, and always simulating fornication in his stage shows and holding his guitar between his legs on TV like it was some kind of giant musical penis, it got to be too much. And now he comes out with these statements about the gays, which isn't a good way for Prince to get back into God's good graces. All this hullabaloo about gay marriage and Proposition 8, it's giving God agita. He's so sick of people trying to speak for him. That's why you can't print my name; I don't want to get any nasty text messages after this is published."

UPDATE (2:15 PM) - Perez Hilton is reporting that, according to a Prince insider, Prince was misquoted and Hoffman's inept. In Hilton's words, "What His Purpleness actually did was gesture to the Bible and said he follows what it teaches, referring mainly to the parts about loving everyone and refraining from judgment." That's the story Prince needs to stick to if he wants to stay on my iPod.

* Democrats support gay marriage?! Why hasn't anyone let Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in on that?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

More on Sontag's Diaries

The first volume of Susan Sontag's diaries (edited by her son, David Rieff) will be published in the U.S. by Farrar, Straus and Giroux next month. In England they'll have to wait until January, but today's Independent quotes a couple of passages dealing with Sontag's sexuality, including this one that she wrote at the age of 15: "I am very young, and perhaps the most disturbing aspects of my ambitions will be outgrown ... so now I feel I have lesbian tendencies (how reluctantly I write this)."

She sounded less reluctant a year later, when she wrote about having sex with another woman, but if the Times excerpts are any indication, Sontag continued to have a complicated relationship with her sexuality for many years to come. In December of 1959, at the age of 26, she wrote:

My desire to write is connected with my homosexuality. I need the identity as a weapon, to match the weapon that society has against me.

It doesn't justify my homosexuality. But it would give me — I feel — a license.

I am just becoming aware of how guilty I feel being queer. With H., I thought it didn’t bother me, but I was lying to myself. I let other people (e.g. Annette [Michelson, film scholar]) believe that it was H. who was my vice, and that apart from her I wouldn’t be queer or at least not mainly so.

. . .

Being queer makes me feel more vulnerable.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Wanda Sykes Comes Out (Literally) for Marriage Equality

"And that's when I said, 'Liquor? I hardly know her!'"

[Cranky note: Update below]

The featured story of the moment on the Times website: Across U.S., Big Rallies for Same-Sex Marriage. An excerpt:
In Las Vegas, the comedian Wanda Sykes surprised a crowd of more than 1,000 rallying outside a gay community center by announcing that she is gay and had wed her wife in California on Oct. 25. Ms. Sykes, who divorced her husband of seven years in 1998, had never publicly discussed her sexual orientation but said the passage of Proposition 8 had propelled her to be open about it.
You can read more of Wanda's Las Vegas statements here. She's one of my favorite comedians and I applaud her for finally coming out. It can only help her stand-up routine; now she can let loose in her bit about gay marriage in a way she couldn't before.

And if you haven't already, while you're at the Times website be sure to check out this Jesse McKinely piece about the impact of Mormon donations on the Yes on 8 campaign. It's important to know your enemy.

Originally posted at 8:44 PM.

UPDATE (11:40 PM) - More of Wanda's remarks via The Strip Podcast Guys. And I thought it might be worth pointing out that Wanda's "The New Adventures of Old Christine" costar Julia Louis-Dreyfus recently did a "Big Gay Following" interview with Brandon Voss of The Advocate that contains a few exchanges made more interesting by today's announcement.
Voss: In the current season of "The New Adventures of Old Christine" your character marries Wanda Sykes’s character, who’s also straight, to prevent her from being deported. What inspired that story line?

Louis-Dreyfus: Obviously, same-sex marriage is a hot topic these days, particularly in California, and it just seemed like a strong story line for Wanda and me to play.
There's also this -- you can understand why Louis-Dreyfus laughed at the question (and I'd like to know if Voss was about to laugh while asking it):
Voss: Who’d make a better lesbian -- you or Wanda?

Louis-Dreyfus: [Laughs] It would have to be a tie. I think we would both make wonderful lesbians. I have been hit on by women, so I guess I’ve been mistaken for a lesbian. I say, “Thanks, but no thanks!” -- just like Sarah Palin.
And finally:
Voss: With so many closeted actors out there, is it refreshing to work on "Old Christine" with an openly gay actress like Jane Lynch?

Louis-Dreyfus: Jane Lynch! That’s definitely who I would become a lesbian for. Oh, my God, she is so fantastic and funny. I love her.

Yeah, I have worked with closeted actors, and I can understand why certain actors are reticent to reveal their sexuality in public for fear of everything you can think of -- pigeonholing themselves into a certain kind of character, blah, blah, blah -- but it’s always nice to not have to work around secrets.

Friday, November 14, 2008

What Would Kit Bond Say?

Remember how Senator Bond, Kit Bond, tried to rile up a crowd at a Sarah Palin rally in Cape Girardeau, Missouri last month by telling them that Barack Obama, if elected president, would threaten the very (starchy white, with a pointed hood) fabric of our democracy by possibly appointing judges who don't hate "the teenage mom, the minority, the gay, the disabled." That was fun, wasn't it?

You know what else is fun? Joining outraged citizens across the country in protesting the passage of California's Proposition 8, which people will be doing tomorrow. In Cape Girardeau.

They Call It the Dirty South for a Reason

Ever wondered what happened at Tara when all the men were off at war?

Do you ever find yourself sitting around wondering what it is that Atlanta-based lesbians do in bed? Yeah, me neither. (I assume they do what the rest of us do, except maybe the un-PC sports fans among them throw in a tomahawk chop or something.) But in 2005, sociologist Kathleen A. Dolan approached 162 women with the kind of probing personal questions that are usually only asked by Howard Stern, and for some reason I'm just hearing about it now, via this Southern Voice article by Laura Douglas-Brown.*

The statistic that really startled me would have to be the 21% of women who reported engaging in heterosexual intercourse within the last year. Call me old-fashioned, but I leave the sex with guys stuff up to gay men, just as God intended. Curiously, none of the lesbians interviewed by Dolan reported doing what I do in bed, which is read grisly Ruth Rendell novels and obsessively check my alarm clock to make sure it's properly set (which isn't really necessary since I wake up before the alarm goes off anyway, but try telling my OCD that). Maybe those activities are unpopular with the lesbians of Atlanta because they don't call for any man-penis...

* Those of you who worry about clicking the wrong link at work should know that the article is accompanied by a large photo of a lesbian liplock. Far more troubling than that, in my opinion, and even more distracting than the unusually large earrings both women are wearing, would have to be the ads for a Hilary Duff Greatest Hits CD that are plastered all over the website. I'm hoping it's 12 tracks of silence, but that seems unlikely.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

No Dead Lesbians on Grey's Anatomy Tonight

Six years later, Buffy fans are still angry about Tara's death.

Last week I was a tad pessimistic about tonight's episode of Grey's Anatomy; I thought there was a chance from the preview that Erica Hahn's mangled corpse might be wheeled into Seattle Grace.

While common sense would dictate the last thing the Grey's writers, or ABC for that matter, would want to do right now is piss the gays off even more by dusting off the dread Dead Lesbian cliché, Grey's Anatomy isn't a show that's known for its sensible writing. What made me think that such a development wasn't outside the realm of possibility was a flashback I had to the creepy way ER once dispatched of one of its interns (played by Omar Epps), who -- as I remember it, but I saw the episode a long time ago and the details are hazy -- left work one night and returned hours later as an unidentified (until his beeper went off) patient who'd been run over by a subway train.

Since there had been no resolution to the Callie/Erica storyline, since it had been reported that Brooke Smith would not be appearing in future episodes, and since her character was last seen heading to her car after threatening to bring serious legal action against the hospital, there didn't seem to be many options for tidily wrapping things up for "Callica" outside of having Erica get hit by a bus or something.

In the end, she wasn't deemed an important enough character to merit a proper sendoff. Within the first minute or so of tonight's episode, Cristina, who had a contentious relationship with Erica, flopped into bed with Meredith and Derek to announce that "Hahn is gone." (Ah, lazy writing. It's a concept I'm well-acquainted with, as anyone reading this can tell.) She quit following her "no gray area" fight with Callie last week.

As if to compensate for the inevitable "Ding-dong! The witch is dead" joke made at Hahn's expense, Derek reacted to news of her departure by saying, "It's too bad, she was really talented." Erica's replacement, a cardiothoracic surgeon played by Mary McDonnell, was swiftly introduced; like her predecessor, she instantly rubbed a few coworkers the wrong way, but she has been given an autistic spectrum disorder that will presumably make viewers sympathetic to her in a way they never were to Hahn.

Judging by what we saw tonight, it's possible that "Callica" could resume contact off screen and viewers could get a Hahn update at some point. It's unlikely I'll be tuning into Grey's Anatomy again anytime soon, so I won't know about it unless someone mentions it to me.

Your Weekly Dose of Jodie Marsh

She's baaack...

It's been almost a week since I last mentioned Jodie Marsh (whose lesbionic backstory you can read about here), and I think we'd all agree that's been almost a week too long. Just as you can never have enough hats, gloves and shoes, you can never have enough news about Britain's favorite attention-seeking clown hooker.

With that in mind, I point you in the direction of Dlisted, the brainchild of the gayelle-crazed homosexual Michael K (not to be confused with Gregory K, the kid who divorced his parents, or Kafka's Josef K -- I'm not sure how either Gregory or Josef would feel about Michael's one true love, the celebrated lesbian folk hero Rojo Caliente), and its recap (complete with image gallery) of Jodie lezzing out for photographers the other night with her girlfriend Nina.

Nina, by the way, is exactly what you'd get from Central Casting if you requested a Siouxsie & the Banshees-loving hairdresser who has spent a lifetime groping inebriated, nominally heterosexual women in the back of taxicabs. I'd like for Mike Leigh to reteam with Sally Hawkins to make a movie about Nina; Timothy Spall can play her coke-addled salon-owner mentor and it'll be BAFTAs all around, I promise.

The photos Michael K corralled are safe for work in some respects; both women are wearing clothes and no one appears to be performing any actual sex acts, though Marsh does take on an orgasmic glow when the paparazzi are around. (Or maybe I'm confusing that with spray tan.) On the other hand, I'm not convinced they're safe for humanity. That's something every lesbian will have to judge for herself.

A Round of Applause for Timothy Egan

"There she goes again, mentioning us to Matt Lauer!"

The Times writer and noted author wonders what the hell is going on in Alaska, and the resulting blog post is a thing of beauty. Seriously Alaskans: WTF?

Speaking of Alaskans and WTF?, Sarah Palin gave her first press conference today. If you guessed that it was barely longer than a Ramones song, you are correct and deserve some kind of prize. (Truly, Jason Biggs lasted longer with that pie than this woman who wanted to be the vice-president of the United States lasted in front of reporters. It's insane.)

You can choose from the lovely assortment of paperclips on my desk (there's a green one, a pink one and a bunch of boring old regular ones) or the Louise Brooks videocassettes I can't bring myself to throw out despite the fact that Pandora's Box and Diary of a Lost Girl are now available on DVD. It seems morally wrong to send anything bearing Louise's image to the landfill, even though I'm relatively certain the tapes and their cases don't have feelings.

Can Anyone Really Be This Stupid?

I know I'm a bit late on this -- I was away from my computer most of the day yesterday -- but having finally read what Scott Eckern, who resigned as artistic director of the California Musical Theater on Wednesday amid protests over his $1,000 donation to the anti-gay Yes on Proposition 8 campaign, had to say for himself, I gotta admit: I'm a bit baffled.

In what universe does a statement like "I understand that my choice of supporting Proposition 8 has been the cause of many hurt feelings, maybe even betrayal. It was not my intent. I honestly had no idea that this would be the reaction" make sense? He's been working with the gays for more than 25 years; he knows we're a bit on the sensitive side even when we're not being stripped of newly granted marriage rights by our "loving and supportive" friends and relatives and coworkers.

Eckern used those words -- "loving and supportive" -- to describe himself as the brother of a lesbian sister, saying, "I am loving and supportive of her and her family, and she is loving and supportive of me and my family. I definitely do not support any message or treatment of others that is hateful or instills fear." (I don't know how that would wash in your family, but my home state voted to ban gay marriage several years ago, and if my brother had been in favor of it and I found out about it, I'd have probably kneed the bastard in the groin. Repeatedly. Every time I saw him, for the rest of his life.)

Did he realize what Proposition 8 was when he made a donation in support of it? Eckern's explanation for the check, which he now says he'll balance with a $1,000 donation to a gay-rights organization (like that really evens things out in any way), was, "I chose to act upon my belief that the traditional definition of marriage should be preserved." But let's be clear. He loves the gays and the families of the gays in all their untraditional, not-heterosexual gay gayness. In fact, some of his best sisters are gay!

Honestly, I don't know what to say about situations like this. I haven't the faintest understanding of how someone like Scott Eckern can reconcile what his (Mormon) church has taught him about the acceptability of institutionalized bigotry with his support of his sister's family. Nor do I understand how someone who has spent 25 years working in the world's gayest industry this side of dog-grooming could possibly vote to take away the rights of so many of his colleagues and his theater's patrons and not anticipate a negative reaction.

I think it's very unfortunate that Eckern is now out of a job -- though I wouldn't be surprised if he's quickly offered a new one by a group that shares his politics. (Remember the homophobic landscapers who later claimed the dust-up over their refusal to work for a gay couple was good for business?) But it's more unfortunate that he wrote that check in the first place.

Update: I'm At Least a Little Gay

If lesbians can be Village People, where's the softball player?

In response to this bit of teeth-gnashing earlier in the week, I was pointed in the direction of Channel 4's amusing Gay-O-Meter, which -- drum roll, please -- tells me I'm 33% gay and even refers to me as "straight acting."

That, my friends (sorry, I'm still having John McCain flashbacks), is poppycock. It is categorically false. It is untrue and inaccurate. I'm running out of words here, but rest assured that I'm half-tempted to have Bert Fields send the Gay-O-Meter a letter that's heavy on mentions of defamation and retractions and public apologies. If necessary, I could produce a sworn written statement from my aunt, who claims she knew I was gay by the time I was a toddler. (And she knows from these things, having once been a gay toddler herself.)

While I liked the Gay-O-Meter quiz, I couldn't help but feel I'd been penalized for not having tattoos, not being handy with a wrench, never having worn leather pants, and being non-violent. So I retook the test, changing my answers to those questions, and suddenly I was 17% gayer. But does that really make sense? Since when are lesbians members of the Village People?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Defiant Palin Vows, "I Will Never Stop Being Stupid"


If you want to get all technical, Sarah Palin didn't really vow to never stop being stupid. But she came pretty close when she lashed out at bloggers in an interview with Fox News' Greta Van Susteren, calling them "kids in pajamas sitting in the basement of their parents' homes" -- ostensibly because they've been critical of her. (FOR BEING AN IDIOT!, I might add.)

I guess she's forgetting the part where she probably owes her selection as John McCain's running mate to the efforts of a college student and blogger named Adam Brickley. As Jane Mayer wrote last month in The New Yorker:
In February, 2007, Adam Brickley gave himself a mission: he began searching for a running mate for McCain who could halt the momentum of the Democrats. Brickley, a self-described “obsessive” political junkie who recently graduated from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, told me that he began by “randomly searching Wikipedia and election sites for Republican women.” Though he generally opposes affirmative action, gender drove his choice. “People were talking about Hillary at the time,” he recalled. Brickley said that he “puzzled over every Republican female politician I knew.” Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, of Texas, “waffled on social issues”; Senator Olympia Snowe, of Maine, was too moderate. He was running out of options, he recalled, when he said to himself, “What about that lady who just got elected in Alaska?” Online research revealed that she had a strong grassroots following; as Brickley put it, “I hate to use the words ‘cult of personality,’ but she reminded me of Obama.”

Brickley registered a Web site—palinforvp.blogspot.com—which began getting attention in the conservative blogosphere. In the month before Palin was picked by McCain, Brickley said, his Web site was receiving about three thousand hits a day. Support for Palin had spread from one right-of-center Internet site to the next. First, the popular conservative blogger InstaPundit mentioned Brickley’s campaign. Then a site called the American Scene said that Palin was “very appealing”; another, Stop the A.C.L.U., described her as “a great choice.” The traditional conservative media soon got in on the act: The American Spectator embraced Palin, and Rush Limbaugh, the radio host, praised her as “a babe.”

Palin's rise from obscurity, her $150,000 wardrobe, her trip to Saturday Night Live, can all be traced back to a kid blogger. Shouldn't she be thanking the blogosphere instead of telling it to fuck itself?

And by the way, Sarah, when I write hurtful things about you from my parents' basement, I'm usually dressed in waders, the better to navigate the flood of bullshit that's unleashed every time you talk to the press.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Breaking News: I Might Not Be Gay!

"Has my whole life been a lie?!"

Well, okay, that's a bit of a sensationalistic headline, but I wanted to make sure I have your attention.

Just moments ago, as I was looking at this, my very own website (which I only peek at through my fingers, like I'm watching a horror movie or a live Liza Minnelli performance), an advertisement caught my eye. It said something like: "Are You a Lesbian? Take This Test and See!"

I had a few minutes to spare, so I thought I'd take the test and find out. Even though I consider myself to be pretty obviously gay -- gay as hell, to be precise -- others aren't always as convinced. My siblings, for example, didn't believe me when I came out to them. It took my sisters several months to realize I wasn't kidding. Even after I got my parents to vouch for my gayness (I remember it like it was yesterday, calling them into the room so I could wave towards my sisters and impatiently demand, "Will you tell them I'm incredibly gay?"), they regarded me with skepticism, convinced I was secretly dating a male friend.

And my brother, he didn't know what the hell was going on. I came out to him very casually, when we were having a conversation about something that couldn't have been of much consequence since I don't remember the topic now. It was put forth as a little aside, something like, "You do know I'm gay, right?" He nodded and went on with his story. It wasn't until years later that he told me he hadn't known, and that he had only kept rambling out of embarrassment.

My siblings aren't the only ones. My grandfather, who I love despite the fact that he's completely insane, frequently calls my mom to see if I have a boyfriend. He bristles when she reminds him that I'm gay, and then he does something that infuriates me since I've never heard him make similar remarks about any of the other gay people he knows: he suggests that maybe I'm confused. "Maybe you're confused," my mom likes to tell him. "Maybe you should have a boyfriend." That's his cue to grudgingly admit that he knows he's being stupid, but it's never the end of the conversation; they've been having this exchange since I came out as a teenager.

Then there's the case of a straight male friend who often accuses me of being a bad lesbian -- or, as he once put it, like he was scolding a rambunctious dog who nipped at a neighbor: "a bad, bad lesbian." (I don't remember if that was before or after the time he wrote an e-mail explaining why he's a better lesbian than I am. He's very invested in the theory that I'm somehow a disgrace to the gay community. I believe he owns more Tori Amos CDs than I do, and he's far more emotional than I am, so on those grounds I'm willing to concede that between the two of us, he might be the superior lesbian. But I also suspect he has dated more lesbians than I have, so this might be more a case of him being a terrible heterosexual than anything else.) This is all in addition to the legions of people, most of them fellow dykes, who've told me I'm more like an old queen than a 25-year-old lesbian (and, hey, if the caftan fits...*).

As I was transported to a website with the word "dumb" in its name (which seemed only fitting) and waited for the "Are You a Lesbian?" test to load, I thought of everyone who had ever doubted my orientation. I'll show them, I thought. This will set the record straight and no one will ever question my epic lesbian-ness again!

The early questions, about subjects like how you'd change a tire and what men are useful for (the options were things like opening jars or serving as beards, when in reality such men would be merkins) weren't promising. They were supposed to be humorous but often missed the mark, and several seemed to equate homosexuality with gender confusion, which is roughly as amusing as all of those America's Funniest Home Videos clips that showed five-year-olds hitting their fathers in the crotch with Wiffle ball bats. A few didn't have any answers that appealed to me at all, like how would you finish the sentence: "Bettie Page is..." (The choices were "Who?", "My fashion GODDESS," "Someone I'd go lesbian for" or "In my dreams." My preferred answer would have been: "Someone Mary Harron made a decent movie about.")

Still, I breezed through the quiz, answering a total of 20 questions about everything from Melissa Etheridge (I chose the David Crosby answer) to the Grand Canyon (which I don't believe is Mother Earth's vagina, though a Grand Canyon postcard that reads "Greetings from Mother Earth's Vagina!" is definitely something I'd send to my grandma), and waited for my results. A screen popped up asking me to enter some personal information while the true extent of my gayness was calculated. Sighing in irritation, I submitted bogus info and again clicked for my results.

A new page came up asking for more information. This happened several times, with the requests getting more and more outlandish. (What does my mother's maiden name have to do with my sexual orientation?) Several more times I fed it phony responses, and then "special offers" would appear, all with fine print that said things like "If you accept this offer you will be charged $9.99 monthly on your mobile phone bill or deducted from your prepaid account." Hitting the button that was supposed to decline the offers and tell me if I'm a lesbian only summoned more -- you guessed it -- special offers!

Accepting that I'd unwittingly boarded an endless merry-go-round of stupidity, I closed the Mozilla tab without ever learning if I might be straight or bisexual. Could the website have made a convincing argument that I'm not a lesbian? Probably not. Our club's admission standards have grown so lax since the invention of MTV that pretty much anyone is allowed to join nowadays. (Don't you ever wish you'd been a lesbian in the age of Katharine Cornell and Eva Le Gallienne? Doesn't their world seem infinitely cooler than the newer one that includes Tila Tequila and the stars of Work Out?) And for all the crap I take from friends and the occasional relative, I hardly think my lesbian credentials are anything to scoff at. So what if I know more about Joan Crawford movies than episodes of South of Nowhere? Joan Crawford had her own South of Nowhere-esque adventures every now and then, and none of them would be stamped with a TV-PG rating on Noggin. (This is where Edward G. Robinson would sneer, "Where's your lesbian now, Moses?")

And isn't there more than one way to be a giant lesbian, anyway? Look at Ellen -- she dances. Rosie writes poetry. Melissa Etheridge sings herself hoarse and publicly contemplates tax evasion. Jodie Foster ignores the lesbian issue altogether and keeps herself busy by making the same terrible movie over and over again. My best friend from middle school, who didn't officially come out until a year or two ago, plays ice hockey with a bunch of women who all seem to end up leaving their husbands for their (female) teammates. As my hopelessly heterosexual father once said after I carefully explained to him the difference between bears, cubs and otters in the gay community, "It takes all kinds."

Even so, I'm still looking for a quiz that will prove I'm a 100% board certified lesbian. If you know of one that isn't comprised of unbearably stupid questions, send me the link and we'll get this taken care of once and for all.

* I don't really wear caftans, so you don't have to look so alarmed. But if I were an old queen, I'd live in them.

She Hasn't Worked With Brett Ratner?

"Tell Godard I'd love to work with him but I have a prior engagement."

From a Haaretz interview with actress Jeanne Moreau in support of her latest film, One Day You'll Understand, a partial list of directors she has worked with in the almost 60 years she has been making movies: Francois Truffaut, Orson Welles, Michelangelo Antonioni, Louis Malle, Jacques Demy, Luis Bunuel, Jean Renoir, Joseph Losey, Elia Kazan, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, and Amos Gitai.

No Michael Bays (though she has worked with Luc Besson) or Ron Howards or anything of the sort. It's enough to send a thrill up your leg, as Chris Matthews might say.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Arnold Consoles the Gays He'd Been Ignoring

Are we sure The Terminator wasn't influenced by Cruising?

Would it kill Arnold Schwarzenegger (pictured above at his favorite leather bar) to stick with a position on gay marriage? As this Los Angeles Times article so neatly lays out:
In past statements, he has said he personally believes marriage should be between a man and a woman and has rejected legislation authorizing same-sex marriage. Yet he has also said he would not care if same-sex marriage were legal, saying he believed that such an important societal issue should be determined by the voters or the courts.

Following that position, he publicly opposed Proposition 8, which amends the state Constitution to declare that "only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."

Today, Schwarzenegger urged backers of gay marriage to follow the lesson he learned as a bodybuilder trying to lift weights that were too heavy for him at first. "I learned that you should never ever give up. . . . They should never give up. They should be on it and on it until they get it done."
It's nice that Governor Schwarzenegger, the star of such cinematic masterpieces as Red Sonja and Junior (oh, the side-splitting hilarity of a pregnant man! It was almost as funny as casting Schwarzenegger as a scientist), has decided that gays and lesbians are deserving of civil rights after all.

It's also nice that he's encouraging us to keep fighting for equal treatment under the law.

What isn't nice is that he didn't keep his promise to fight Proposition 8. Instead, he chose over and over again to remain mostly quiet on the issue in the crucial weeks leading up to the vote.

Maybe a guy who has blemishes like Raw Deal and Jingle All the Way on his résumé isn't overly concerned with his legacy, but Schwarzenegger's failure to stand up to the Yes on 8 crowd will not be forgotten. And he owes us all -- not just Californians, but everyone around the country who supported No on Proposition 8 -- an apology.

The Boys in the Band Comes to DVD

Movie buffs, it's time to get this week's Netflix queue in order if you haven't already, because Paramount will release William Friedkin's gay "classic" (in quotes because your mileage may vary) The Boys in the Band on DVD Tuesday.

Love it or hate it -- and I know a few of you hate it -- it's a milestone movie, it's a part of our history, and it should have been released on DVD, complete with documentaries and audio commentaries, years ago.

I'm not much of a Mart Crowley fan, but I look forward to seeing if Paramount was able to clean up the film's image quality and checking out all the special features. Until the Criterion edition of Chungking Express comes out later this month, it's the most exciting DVD arrival of November.

For a blast from the past, you can read what the Times had to say about The Boys in the Band in March of 1970.

This Is Why Charlotte Converted for Harry

The Goldenblatts love the gays.

With a kick-ass Huffington Post blog entry on Saturday, writer and actor Evan Handler has joined the growing list of celebrities registering their disgust with Californians who voted yes on Proposition 8 on Tuesday. I'm not going to quote anything from it, because you need to click the link and read it in its entirety, but I especially liked his response to his Sex and the City boss Michael Patrick King's ludicrous suggestion that a performance art protest is in order.

It shows that Handler really does understand what we're up against, and it's a nice companion piece to this angry Harvey Fierstein essay, also posted at HuffPost, that reads in part: "While we dance in the streets and pat ourselves on the back for being a nation great enough to reach beyond racial divides to elect our first African-American president let us not forget that we remain a nation still proudly practicing prejudice."

The Associated Press has also put together an article about celebrity reaction to the passage of Prop 8 that includes comments from Sean Penn, Melissa Etheridge, Ellen DeGeneres, Rosie O'Donnell, Christina Aguilera, and Samantha Ronson. At the time of this posting, more than 500 people who'd read the piece on MSNBC's website had inexplicably given it an average rating of 2.5 out of 5 stars. One of the highest-rated stories on the website, earning 4 stars out of 5, was called "Bullies may get kick out of seeing others in pain."

Saturday, November 8, 2008

A Rare Moment of Sentimentality


Normally I dig around British websites every weekend for odd, lesbian-related tidbits to lazily exploit here; you might recall this one about Subarus, or the one about bisexuality being "reserved for 15-year-old goths and Abi Titmuss, you stupid lesbian," or the field day I recently had with a lesbian sex diary that included strange mentions of sex toys and squirrels.

Tonight I come to you with nothing about lesbians. Honestly, I get lesbian fatigue sometimes. Anytime I'm around more than three lesbians who are under the age of 30 for longer than five minutes and it becomes apparent they all have histories with each other, I start rubbing my right temple in misery and despondently think to myself, "I could be watching Turner Classic Movies right now..."

People fatigue in general is a problem for me. I know, I know, you would never have guessed from the things I write here (my sunny disposition is kind of my trademark), but I get annoyed very easily. And then I get angry. And then I get angry that I'm angry. On the outside, I try not to let it show. Operating under the assumption that people already think I'm strange enough as it is (because I'll admit it: I'm pretty strange), I try to keep my twitching and ticcing to a minimum. But on the inside, once that fatigue sets in, I'm like Ron Burgundy having a breakdown in a phone booth after his dog is punted off a bridge; it's all I can do to keep from wailing "I'm in a glass case of emotion!"

If garden-variety people fatigue drives me nuts, lesbian fatigue is even worse. There's something more insidious about it; it makes me think I'll never meet anyone I can stand to be around, much less get married to (once American voters decide gays are created equal after all, and therefore permitted to marry and divorce with the same abandon as heterosexuals, that is), and that's depressing.

It's depressing because I like the idea of getting married enough that, even as I chuckle at the meanness of the Nellie McKay song "I Wanna Get Married," I understand the kooky conviction of its narrator as she serenely concludes "I will never tarry/ I'm not even torn," about wanting to walk down the aisle. It's also depressing because if I never get married I'll spend a good portion of the remaining years of my life being asked by nosy relatives why I'm not married, or when I plan on getting married. That would really send my people fatigue into overdrive.

And that, in a kind of convoluted way, brings us to what I did find in a British newspaper this weekend (besides a look back at fifty years of Motown) -- a fantastic, marriage-oriented article about Barack and Michelle Obama in The Guardian, in which Gaby Wood writes: "Together, they present the most collaborative, romantic, intelligent and relaxed couple that has ever been anywhere near the White House."

It's hard to disagree with that. The Obamas always look so in sync with each other, so happy to be in each others company, that I love seeing them together. (Wood describes them as having "the devotion of Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, and the glamour of the Kennedys.") When the Obama campaign put behind the scenes footage from this year's Democratic National Convention on YouTube that showed Barack sitting on a couch in Kansas City, Missouri, touching his wedding ring as he watched Michelle deliver her speech on TV, I got a little teary-eyed. It was then that, with some surprise, I realized the Obamas had sort of become my Brangelina, and I wanted them to adopt everyone in America and change all our names to Pax.

After each of the three presidential debates, the candidates were joined on stage by their wives. When the Obamas looked at each other, you could sense they were having a silent conversation with their eyes. (Which is a good thing, because it'd be really creepy if their eyes could talk...) Whatever it was that Barack Obama had just accomplished in those debates, it was clearly something he had done with a great deal of help from Michelle -- and they both looked very proud of it. Then you'd catch a few seconds of the McCains together and they seemed less like husband and wife than unhappy partners in a failed business venture. You couldn't picture them going home and cranking up the Marvin Gaye; it was easier to imagine them driving back to the hotel in tense silence, with Cindy afraid to say anything that might make John erupt in anger and call her a 'see you next Tuesday' again.

Or, as Wood writes of the Obamas:
When we hear that he insisted, in the middle of his presidential campaign, on coming home to take her out to dinner on their wedding anniversary, it seems crazy yet appropriate, just as it's unsurprising to know that Cindy McCain's parents buy her birthday presents and sign them from John McCain because he's usually too busy to remember.
We didn't just vote for the right president on Tuesday, we voted for the right first family. And that has me "aw"-ing so much, you'd think I was an expectant mother looking at an Anne Geddes calendar. It's so weird to feel sentimental about something besides Roger Federer winning a Grand Slam final that I don't really know what to do with myself.

Friday, November 7, 2008

This Doesn't Sound Quite Right

So I was minding my business, lifting some lead off the roof of the Holy Name church* looking for information about an old Sidney Lumet film at IMDb (I know how to have fun on a Friday night), when I decided to skim today's WENN offerings. That's how I came across this odd little blurb about Elizabeth Banks banning her in-laws from seeing her latest movie:
Elizabeth Banks has banned her husband's parents from watching her strip in saucy new movie Zack And Miri Make A Porno.

The actress jumps into bed with pal Seth Rogen to make a sex tape for cash in the Kevin Smith comedy.

And Banks hates the idea of her in-laws watching her have sex with anyone other than her spouse of five years, Max Handelman.
Am I going crazy or is that last sentence rather disturbing? The piece goes on to quote Banks in a way that kind of explains the wording, but that doesn't mean my face hasn't been frozen in horror for the last five minutes anyway.

* Damn that Morrissey. Once he gets in your head he's there all day.

A Weekend Geography Lesson


Because it's never too late to learn (and gloat):

Spain is in Latin America.

Venezuela is in the Middle East.

Czechoslovakia still exists.

Russia is in Alaska.

New Hampshire is in the "Great Northwest".

Canada is in Alaska, too.

As for Africa ... well, Sarah Palin will "have to get back to you" on all of that.

But most importantly, John McCain is not in the White House. And Sarah Palin is back in Alaska, where she can only harm 683,478 people instead of 305,603,000. Ah, Alaska. As its ever-chipper governor might say, in between "you betchas" and winks, Alaska's reward is in heaven.

Why Are British Lesbians So Slutty?

Throughout history, British women have been total players.

Every goddamn week, it seems, British lesbians want to sleep with a new celebrity. I know this because I receive e-mail alerts about it. Why it's considered newsworthy that anyone wants to have sex with Maria Sharapova, I really couldn't tell you, but then there are a lot of things about Britain I don't understand -- Jodie Marsh and Kerry Katona immediately come to mind; and then there's that troubling national obsession with truly awful cover songs, often of tunes that were terrible the first time around, performed by hacky boy bands and girl bands that seem like they were assembled by comedy writers who have nothing but contempt for the public.

I've been careless in keeping track of all the famous women these very social British lesbians have set their sights this year, so I'm sure I'm missing the results of a poll or twelve. Still, this should give you an idea of what I'm talking about:
  • In February, Keira Knightley was crowned the dream date of British lesbians. She's insanely gorgeous, I agree, but I'd worry about being impaled by a protruding rib or clavicle.
  • Three months later, British lesbians identified Maria Sharapova, who glams it up on the red carpet and in TV commercials, but is, I think, at her most attractive when she's battling frustration on the tennis court, as their favorite serve-smashing pin-up. When Sharapova's face turns red and she glares at her racket like she wants to throw it, and when the volume goes up on her shrieking and yelling (to the anguish of her opponent, the crowd, the commentators, and almost everyone watching at home) -- call me fucked up if you want, but I like that.
  • In July, before those bikini photos hit the Internet (and before she made those date rape comments that D.C.I. Jane Tennison wouldn't approve of), Helen Mirren topped a poll of the women over 50 that single British lesbians would most like to date. She beat out Susan Sarandon, Meryl Streep, Goldie Hawn, Dolly Parton (careful, ladies, you'll have to get through Judy Ogle first), and Joan Collins. Yes, Joan Collins. You're not alone in saying "WTF?" to that one. The results of this particular survey seemed so bland to me -- next time, why not show women like Charlotte Rampling, Catherine Deneuve, Angela Bassett, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Isabelle Huppert, and Debra Winger a little love? I mean, c'mon, stop watching those 1980s comfort food movies on TV all weekend and rent a little François Ozon.
  • By September, British lesbians had shifted their attention to Rachel Weisz, naming her the Hollywood star they'd most like to sleep with. Hard to argue with that one, seeing as she glowed in The Constant Gardener. (People aren't supposed to glow, we're not nightlights or rave paraphernalia. I think that means she has magical powers, and Sarah Palin's guest pastor, Thomas Muthee, should probably do something to protect Weisz's costars from witchcraft.) Of every winner of every poll so far, I think Weisz also earns the distinction of being the best marriage material -- though my grandparents would be baffled by her apparent inability to determine whether her own mother is Jewish. (From her well-sourced Wikipedia profile: "Weisz's father is Ashkenazi Jewish and her mother has been referred to as either Catholic, Jewish, having Jewish ancestry, and being of part Italian descent." For God's sake, reporters, this isn't rocket science. Just ask if her maternal grandmother is Jewish and, bam, another mystery solved.)
Now it's Drew Barrymore who has everyone in a tizzy, and I have a few questions for all you fickle British lesbians out there. First up: Why are you such skanks?! Can't you remain faithful to a woman for longer than a month or two? And my second, more important question: What are you doing for dinner tonight?

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