October 30, 2009

Obama's Midnight Trip To Dover AFB

Just before midnight on Wednesday, President Obama left the White House and flew to Dover AFB in Delaware, where the remains of US servicemen and women killed abroad are returned home. He witnessed the "transfer ceremonies" for 15 soldiers, spent two hours meeting with families of the fallen and returned to the White House just before 5am. Famously, these transfers were banned from television coverage back in 1990 by the first President Bush. The ban remained as the US entered two wars under the second Bush and more than 3,000 soldiers were lost. Obama lifted that ban earlier this year.

Last night, the Katie Couric did a solemn piece on this historic visit for the CBS Evening News that you can watch below. Generally, there was very scant coverage of it in the media. Fox News was the only other broadcast story I could find. The NY TIMES wrote about it but the story was buried online...I had to search "Dover" to find it. Not sure where it ended up in the print edition but I'm doubting it was page 2. As the President weighs his options on the war in Afghanistan, it seems that this extraordinary visit by the Commander-in-Chief to honor his fallen troops would have been more newsworthy.

Regardless, while those on the right froth and fret about this President destroying our country, Obama's clear sense of the gravity of his job is unmistakable and his actions, even those taken without fanfare, continue to speak louder than any of their words.

Watch CBS News Videos Online

October 29, 2009

Blowing It Up Back In The Day

In 1981, I got my start as a filmmaker working with my neighbor Jeff Davison and his dad's RCA b/w video camera that was tethered to a massive, first generation VHS player/recorder. We did all sorts of adaptations of popular TV shows, like "Superman", "Star Trek", "The Wild Wild West" and "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir". But the most memorable and hilarious films we made were of us blowing shit up. Jeff would get fireworks down in South Carolina and we'd go to town on our old toys or models. We even blew up Luke Skywalker's land speeder....I've gotta find that clip!

Anyway, I finally got one of these videos up to YouTube today. Now I know that it was totally juvenile and dangerous to be lighting firecrackers on my neighbor's wood porch. But it was damn funny too....the last line's a classic! Even though this video is nearly 30 years old and I've watched it countless times, it still cracks me up, especially the Beavis & Butthead background dialogue and uncontrollable giggling when things go boom. Feel free to forward, link, share and who knows....maybe it'll become a YouTube sensation. America likes a good explosion.

October 28, 2009

Backstreet Is Back...In The Office

Continuing the trend of DIY music videos, here's one from a group of office workers doing their own take on the Backstreet Boys 1999 hit "I Want It That Way". This has gotta be one of my fave cheesy songs of all time and this video does the song justice with a funny/cheesy take on the thing. However, I'm slightly suspicious these camera-ready, emotive lipsynchers are actually random folks working in the same small office together...unless maybe it's a casting office. ;) Still this video is awesome for its utter simplicity and it is very sweet too. Oh--and the guys are cute as well.

October 27, 2009

Someone Broke My Facebook

There's been a lot of angry status updates lately as Facebook pulled another big change without letting anyone know what was going on. The general consensus seems to be that the live feed/news feed is a bit of a mess.

So if you'd like to fix your Facebook back to the way it was, here's how to do it in a couple easy steps:

On the menu at the top left, click on MORE.
Drag STATUS UPDATES to the top of the list above NEWS FEED. After dragging to top, CLICK on it.
Your HOME will be just like before.

I just did it, it took two seconds and all is back to normal. Yes, it's true....you can fix your Facebook. Give it a try....

October 26, 2009

Indie Filmmaker Richard Kelly is Kinda Cute

I wouldn't say I'm a rabid fan of "Donnie Darko", the 2001 indie sensation starring a then-unknown Jake Gyllenal in a story about....well, I still don't know what it was about. But I kinda enjoyed it's weird, moody style even though it was pretty damn confusing. Something about a schizo high school student who dreams of a big scary bunny that causes a plane crash leading to the end of the world. I do remember there was all this cool 80's music...like real college radio stuff by Joy Division and Echo & The Bunnymen. That I appreciated.

"Donnie Darko" was written and directed by Richard Kelly and, given the subject matter and the artsy feel of the film, I imagined it the feverish work of some real Tarantino-like film geek. Apparently not. Here's a picture of Mr. Kelly (on the left...why are director's always pointing?) from a profile in yesterday's New York TIMES and, suprisingly, the director of this super dark movie is kinda cute. In fact, he might even be borderline hot. Regardless, I am adding him to my Kinda Cute pantheon anyway because he is certainly not how I expected the director of that film to look. To use a pop culture analogy, it's sorta like the reverse of the Susan Boyle effect.

Anyway, "Donnie Darko" developed a cult following and Kelly made another movie called "Southland" which I believe was also about the end of the world, though I didn't see it. Now, he's traded up and done a big studio movie which sounds semi-intriguing. It's called "The Box" with Cameron Diaz playing some suburban mom in the 70's gets a million bucks if she hits a big red buttton that will randonly kill someone in the world. Weird, right? But at least it sounds like it has a plot so I think I'll check it out.

October 23, 2009

Money Makes The World Go Around

While trawling The Awl for my weekly taste of weird, I came across this German TV commercial for donating money to charity. It is not your average Unicef ad..that is for sure. But then again, Germany is not your average country. Though the commercial uses a classic narrative cliche that has been the basis for more than a few features and shorts, it does so with style and wit....all under one minute.

October 22, 2009

Whatever Happened To Persis Khambatta

I put the original Star Trek movie on my Netflix after seeing "Close Encounters" earlier this summer at Bryant Park and loving it. I have to say "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" doesn't hold up as well, even in the reedited version available on DVD. It plays like a very long episode of TOS which would have been fine if it was 50 minutes long. Unfortunately, it's 136 minutes long which earned it the fanboy tag "Star Trek: The Slow Motion Picture."

Like this year's "Star Trek" reboot, Bones steals the show and his scenes with Kirk and the old gang always crackle. Another standout is the lovely and mysterious beauty of Persis Khambatta, the bald Deltan who has an odd dual role in the film, playing Lt. Ilia and a robotic version of herself in a dangerously short mini-dress.

Joining the crew of the Enterprise was Persis' big break, having been Miss India in the 1960's and a well-known fashion/makeup model, most famously for Revlon.
Unfortunately, her career didn't exactly hit warp drive after her role in "Star Trek". Her most notable role was in 1981's "Nighthawks" and a final part in the pilot episode of "Lois & Clark", playing the Indian ambassador....what imaginative casting!

In 1998, she suffered a heart attack and died suddenly. Her age is listed as 47 on Imdb and 49 on Wikipedia. Either way it seems too early....she was such a striking and enigmatic figure. It's a shame she didn't take off and have a more vibrant career. Her Hollywood debut, however, remains memorable. Even if the movie isn't all I remembered it to be.

October 21, 2009

An Eloquent Speech On Equality For All

Earlier this year, Maine's legislature passed a bill which gave gays and lesbians same rights as heterosexual couples to be married under the laws of that state. This was not a so-called activist court in action. It was a measure brought forth by the state's elected representatives and signed by the state's popular elected governor. Still, the so-called Christians started gathering signatures and spreading fear and now Maine's marriage equality is up for the entire state to vote on this November.

When Maine was considering the original bill, there were extensive public hearings held with a great deal of public comment. Recently, a statement in support of equality for all by an 86 year old WWII vet has been making the rounds on the blogs. It is moving and beautiful in its simplicity. Too bad this guy wasn't around for the Prop 8 battle last year...

If you'd like to donate to help defeat Maine's Proposition 1, go
here. They need all the help they can get.

October 20, 2009

NYC Couple Collect 3,500 Works Of Art

Herb & Dorothy Vogel are well-known in the New York art world. For more than 40 years, they have been ubiquitous on the art scene. Sometimes attending as many as 25 shows a week, they were avid collectors who amassed a modernist treasure trove of more than 3,500 works of art which cluttered their small NYC apartment.

Soon they will be well known to the entire country as they have donated their entire collection to the National Gallery of Art.
Their donation, however, was so massive that it overwhelmed the National. The museum could only absorb 1,000 works. So the solution they all came up with for the balance of this material was to give 50 works to a museum in each of the 50 states. A non-profit was formed called 50 x 50 and the crates have been arriving, like an early Christmas present, at museums across the country this Fall.

I found out about these unique artistic philanthropists via a movie that aired this weekend on PBS called "Herb & Dorothy". It's a documentary about how they started collecting art in the mid-1960's on their modest salaries as a postal worked and librarian. They collected mostly modern work by artists like Sol LeWitt and Chuck Close. What's amazing about their story is how their passion for art, not money, inspired and sustained their collecting. The tag line of the movies is "You don't have to be a Rockefeller to collect art".

The Vogel's are true patrons of the arts whose generosity will now be shared with the nation by this unique arrangement. They are an inspiring couple with an amazing story. The movie captures their unique relationship beautifully and is well-worth seeing.

October 19, 2009

The Original Queer As Folk

I had a bit of a cold over the weekend so I stayed home and caught up on my Internet TV viewing. I've been enjoying the new thriller series "FlashForward" on ABC, loved the season premiere of "Ugly Betty" which remains one of the funniest shows out there, and saw the latest episode of "Fringe", Fox's "Twilight Zone"/"X-Files"/"CSI" mash-up which is surprisingly compelling.

Also, I reconnected with an old favorite that's now available for free on Hulu: the original UK version of "Queer As Folk". Having re-watched the first two episodes, I can report that this show is just as brilliant and shocking as it was 10 years ago when it premiered on Channel 4. It's hard to compare it to the American remake as the UK QAF was a short run series, with only 10 episodes while the Showtime version ran a soapy 5 years. But, overall, it is truly an example of excellent television with great writing, casting, music and some unforgettable scenes/lines, some of which I still find myself quoting (i.e. "I'm doin' it! I'm really doin' it!"). Worth seeing again...or for the first time.

October 16, 2009

The BUTT Blind Date

Butt Magazine is known for it's sexy photos and quirky Q/A's. Of course, the pix can be hot....like the spread of Jake from Scissor Sisters. But like Playboy of days gone by, you can honestly say you read it for the interviews. They are that good--both for the wide range of interviewees as well as the slightly oddball and intimate style of questioning.

Recently, the BUTT blog started a feature where the magazine's editors set two people up on blind dates. The first lucky couple met in Chicago last week and the results were posted in two separate Q/A's. It's a sweet and funny "he said-he said" account of the first date experience. And the guys' pix are cute too. :)

October 15, 2009

Megatron Man Meets TRON

I've previously posted about the new Tron movie and it's awesome trailer. Last month, Disney finally revealed the official release date for "Tron Legacy": December 17, 2010. So yeah...there's still some waiting involved. But in the meantime, I found this very cool music video made up solely of footage from the original "Tron". It's very effectively cut to the electro beats of Patrick Cowley's disco dance hit "Megatron Man", a song which I've heard recently on the DJ Will playlist at Vandam. This is a remix so it's a little long but, since they've used all the good CGI-parts of "Tron", it's easier than renting the DVD. :)

October 14, 2009

Cake Wrecks

As some of you know, my sweet tooth does not only apply to donuts. I enjoy cupcakes, cakes, brownies, cookies....basically any sort of baked good with chocolate somewhere in the mix.

I sometimes check in on
the blog Cake Wrecks, which specializes in disasterously decorated professionally made cakes. Now there is a Cake Wrecks book out with some hilarious pictures of various cake mishaps. Spelling mistakes are very common, of course, as is writing "nothing" and "leave space blank" when the decorator was told to write nothing. Classic. However, even though they are made of sugar, some of these cakes would even give me pause to actually eat them: a current trend has pregnant bellies with feet poking out of them made for baby showers!

Today's TIMES features an
article about all these crazy cakes and the woman behind the blog, Jen Yates, as well as a great slide show of various cakey-disasters she's discovered over the years. I loved these pics because not only does all that icing make me hungry, it also makes me laugh. That's certainly a sweet combo to get the day started right.

October 13, 2009

Equality & Diversity

One thing that was most striking about the March for Equality was the diversity of the crowd. As a blogger on Huffinton Post noted, it wasn't just a bunch of gay white men marching. Not that there's anything wrong with that. :) But Sunday's march was truly a rainbow coalition of black and white, hispanic and asian, gay and straight, rural and urban, trannie and leather, single and married. There were even a surprising numbers of kids marching along with their parents, some who were holding wonderful signs about their parents like "Let my mom's marry". Sweet.

Standing in front of the White House, I shot a video of the marchers passing by. In this randomly selected, 35 seconds of the March, the diversity of the crowd is both striking and heartening. Today's Washington Post has a great editorial stating "FULL EQUALITY for gays and lesbians is the civil rights issue of our time." As the March visibly demonstrates, it's an issue with a growing coalition of supporters that make this movement unique and creates a broad, universal imperative for action. Now is the time! So let your representatives in Congress (as well as Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Reid) know how you feel about equal rights for all.

October 12, 2009

The March for Equality -- Slideshow

On Sunday, I marched on Washington with 100,000 of my closest friends in the March for Equality. For all those who say God hates the gays, the weather begged to differ: it was crisp and sunny, a perfect day for a politically active stroll from the White House to the Capitol to express our growing displeasure with the piecemeal approach to equal rights for GLBT citizens. I've got some pictures of the day posted here in the form of a slideshow.

While President Obama's speech to the HRC was somewhat heartening on Saturday night as he committed to ending DADT on his watch, he oddly failed to even mention the March that went right by his house. There is no denying the fact that the President has alot of work to do on this issue. And that's why we were there...to remind him that a large number of this nation's citizens are still treated as lesser than. There's hope this can change in the next 4-8 years but it's not gonna happen unless we demand it loud and clear; full Federal rights for all of this nation's GLBT citizens. In the workplace, in relationships, in all aspects of our lives. Nothing less will do.

October 9, 2009

YouTube's Greatest Hits In 4 Minutes

What?! You mean you haven't seen THAT video? You know, the one with the baby/cat/kid/plane/panda/diet coke/etc.? How is that possible?!?!

If these sort of insistent queries from friends and neighbors often puzzle you, someone out there in Internet-land has compiled all the greatest hits of YouTube in a concise 4 minute package. There is also a helpful list on the video's YouTube page if you want to seek out the original clips. The only glaring omission is the infamous Gay Weatherman vs. Cockroach. What's up with that?

In the spirit of this weekend's March for Equality in Washington, I say equality for all stupid videos....even the ones with screaming weather-queens.

October 8, 2009

The Wilderness In New York City

I've had a few posts recently about what Manhattan was like 400 years ago when the Dutch arrived. Basically, it was a wilderness of astounding beauty that, if it had not become a great city, would likely be one our greatest national parks.

Today, though most of New York City has been paved and developed many times over, there is a surprising amount of green space here considering it is one of the densest places on the planet. In fact, NYC is probably the greenest city in the world with roughly 25% of it's total acreage reserved for parks. That means that within the borders of the five boroughs there are roughly 33,000 acres of public parkland. Astounding. And 8,000 acres of that land has been designated as "forever wild" which means it will never be developed or managed or anything. What that means is that if a tree falls in one of those woods, not only does no one hear it, no one will ever remove it either.

A few years back, NYC Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe wanted to catalog the city's natural beauty. So he approached well-known street photographer Joel Meyerowitz and asked him if he'd be interested in documenting the city's parks and creating a modern archive. Meyerowitz took some 3,000 images which have been distilled into a book of 250 photographs called
"Legacy: The Preservation of Wilderness in New York City Parks". The book, published by the Apeture Foundation, is out now and the Museum of the City of New York has an exhibit opening today which features a selection of these photos. The pictures, like the one above of the Bronx, are stunning in that you would never guess they are scenes shot in the city. And they're a great reminder to get out and see a little wilderness in this urban jungle.

October 7, 2009

Japanese Robot Idol

Japanese robotics are getting crazier and creepier. Now they have this life-size fembot who can actually carry a tune. Note that this is not a recording of someone else singing but apparently the results of a voice synthesis software by Yamaha called Vocaloid. However, if they're going for realism, one thing they might add to the upgrade is having the singing robot take a "breath".

October 6, 2009

A Gay World War II Musical

When people complain that there is a dearth of new musicals on Broadway, I usually tell them they are looking in the wrong place. In fact, there are plenty of new American musicals these days at small theatre companies (like Second Stage, where "Next To Normal" got its start) or local theatre festivals (like NYMF, which is currently going on now).

Last night, I got an interesting look at one of the most unusual and compelling musicals of the current season; the gay Word War II tuner "Yank!". The JCC presented the show's all-in-the-family creative team, brothers David and Joe Zellnik, as they sang a few selections from the tuneful score and talked about how they collaborated on their third stage musical.

Named after the Army's own newspaper written by and for soldiers during the war, "Yank!" is an old fashioned show with a new fashioned twist; a gay love story during wartime...with tap numbers!
The story of "Yank!" follows a young inductee named Stu as he falls for another man in uniform named Mitch. Thoroughly researched, the show is based on the secret history of The Greatest Generation gays who, in many ways, laid the groundwork for Stonewall and the modern gay rights movement. Other than Allan Berube's amazing book "Coming Out Under Fire", these stories have stayed fairly hidden over the last 60-odd years. David Zellnik pointed out that in Tom Brokaw's bestselling book about the war, he didn't find one gay veteran to interview.

Thus "Yank!", like the soldiers it portrays, is on a mission not only to entertain but enlighten. And the show, which I saw in its earlier incarnation at the Gallery Players in Brooklyn, does just that. So
if you're looking for a fun new musical, "Yank!" is definitely one to check out. It's happening at the York Theatre, with previews beginning February 16, 2010. Tickets are already on sale at their website so do yourself a favor....go see a real, live NEW American musical.

October 5, 2009

The Best Donuts In New York

As the temps fall, my interest in donuts always seems to rise. Maybe it's those pumpkin donuts that start showing up on the rack at Dunkin' and Starbucks. Or maybe, now that the layering has started up again, I have less concerns about over-donuting.

Well, I don't think I'm on the only one whose interest perks up this time of year.
Over at NY Daily Photo, there's a great photo (reposted here) and feature today about The Doughnut Plant (their spelling) on the LES. I've mentioned them on the blog before but his post offers a little more detail and history too. Basically, they make exquisite donuts with mad crazy real ingredients and no high fructose corn syrup in the mix. They are a little pricey at 2-3 a pop but this is New York, dammit...what isn't?

In other donut news, there is even a new play on Broadway this fall about donuts. Sorta. No, it's not the musical version of The Simpsons. It's a serious, straight play called "Superior Donuts" which comes from the same writer who brought us last seasons' "August: Osage County". Just like it's name, this new work by Tracy Letts, which chronicles life in a Chicago donut shop, is supposed to be a bit lighter, fluffier and sweeter, with reviews comparing it to a genial 70's sitcom. And there's certainly nothing wrong with that! It sounds a bit like a white "What's Happening" or "Archie Bunker's Place" with cream-filled concoctions instead of cocktails. Either way, I plan to check it out this fall, if only to see if donuts are on sale in the lobby.

October 2, 2009

Free Buses To The March For Equality 10/11

Broadway Impact is providing free bus rides from NYC to the March For Equality in Washington DC next month. The March For Equality is the largest gathering of Gays, Lesbians and everyone else who believes that every American should have equal protection under all areas of federal law....just like the Constitution promises. I've posted this video below which gives the basic rundown. So get on the bus, Gus, and head to DC on October 11th. Let's make that Million Moron March look super small, okay? :)

October 1, 2009

And Speaking of Music Videos....

So yesterday I posted about the oldest music videos and today, I have what could be the future of music videos.

In the last few months, there have been a rash of DIY music videos burning up the blogosphere, with their unique and hilarious takes on hits by Whitney Houston and Miley Cyrus. Now we have a group of Canadian students who have given the Black Eyed Peas Fall '09 party anthem their own, Janet Jackson-esque spin. Though this cost about 1/1000th of Jackson's not exactly one-shot wonder from 1986. What this has that that glossy production didn't is the unbridled spirit and contagious energy of fresh, collegiate youth. Enjoy!