June 30, 2010

Live From London It's The National Theatre

Last night I went to see "London Assurance" at the National Theatre and it didn't involve a trans-Atlantic trek. It was just a short walk to NYU's Skirball Center, where the play was shown on a movie screen in HD.  

The play itself is a bit of a chestnut:  a comedy of manners and errors as the lordly city-set get mixed up with the earthy country-set over the matters of an arranged marriage and an land inheritance.  It was written in the 1841 by Dion Boucicault, an Irish wunderkind who was all of 20 when this work debuted. But it does has some sturdy comical bones which have only been strengthened with a polish by UK playwright Richard Beane and sharp direction by the famed Nicholas Hytner.  It also has a stunning cast of British thespians, including Simon Russell Beale and Fiona Shaw, who hijacks every scene she is in. Having a name like "Lady Gay Spanker" certainly helps. 

NT Live is a program that started this year with a series of live broadcasts from the South Bank home of the National Theatre that are beamed out to audiences in countries around the world.  The tickets to this theatrical feast were just $25 and well worth it.  It's brilliant idea and has been such a success that their second season is already planned  for next fall.  First up is a new adaptation of Mary Shelley's "Frankstein" directed by Trainspotting/Slumdogging Danny Boyle.  

June 29, 2010

The Complete NYC Outdoor Summer Movie Guide

A few years ago, an editorial assistant at Random House named Rebecca Shapiro compiled a list of all the outdoor screenings of movies that happen in New York each summer.  The list has become very popular with her friends, not to mention the public at large.  This year, her list even got published in the NY Times. 

You can check out this comprehensive guide here on the City Blog page.  It's really handy to see them all together in one listing.  There are so many these days!  I just went through and marked my calendar with the one's I want to check out:  top of my list are "The Goodbye Girl" in Bryant Park and "Starship Troopers" at McCarren Park.  See you at the free movies!

June 28, 2010

The Angriest Soccer Coach In The World (Cup)

Now I don't know much about soccer.  But I do know a hilarious YouTube video when I see one.  Reminiscent of the Winnebago Man (whose movie is coming out next month), Fabio Capello, the manager of the English soccer team, has an extremely short fuse which leads to large explosions of expletives and even some shoving of his scared-looking players.  And that's when his team is actually winning!    

I found this at a site called Kickette, which has great player pics along with soccer gossip.  (Who knew there was such a thing?) It was recommended by a good friend who knows my ambivalence about soccer but, from my Benny video last Friday, my love of entertainment.  And Fabio is nothing if not entertaining.  

June 25, 2010

US Soccer Player Gives Good Face In DIY Video

Despite their admirable run in the World Cup, I'm not a fan of the USA soccer team.  Or any soccer team really.  But I am a believer in the incredible off-field talents of Benny Feilhaber.  

In one of the sexiest and simplest DIY videos around, Benny does an impeccable version of "No Air", doing justice to both the Chris Brown and Jordin Sparks parts.  Benny is apparently straight and has a girlfriend so I will take him at his word....I guess.  But this guy could seriously beat any NYC drag queen, even with his exquisitely expressive hands tied behind his back. 

Most of the comments on the video are about Benny's good looks, gorgeous eyes and that he is obviously gay.  However, his friends and defenders say he is just a big "goofball".  Hmmmm....is this the new sports world code for gay?  

June 24, 2010

SkyNet--Please Call Your Agent

The geniuses at IBM's research lab in Hawthorne, NY have been working hard on a new supercomputer called Watson.  This computer is so smart that it is actually beating real live humans' at Jeopardy.  It evens answers in the form of a question!   This thing is so good that it has been freaking the other contestants out, leading to all sorts of nervous SkyNet jokes about when it will gain consciousness and nuke their nerdy ass.  

There's a lengthy article about this super-duper computer from last week's TIMES Sunday magazine. It's worth reading if you are a techno-junkie or techno-phobe.  There's exciting and disturbing news here for both camps. 

June 23, 2010

Texting While Driving: Two PSA Approaches

Texting while driving is a dangerous and deadly habit, not only in this country but in the world.  Oprah started a campaign against it and there have been some disturbing PSA's to try and warn the public. Here's a couple of them from both ends of the spectrum on this issue: a humorous take from a Southern church and an incredibly graphic approach from India.  Which one do you think works best?

June 22, 2010

The Prince of Sweden Is Kinda Cute

This weekend the Princess of Sweden married her former personal trainer in the biggest European royal wedding since Charles and Di.  After exchanging "ja's" and even shedding some tears, Daniel Westling became officially known as HRH Prince Daniel, Duke of Vastergotland.  And now I'm unofficially crowning him Kinda Cute.

Unfortunately, the AP, AFP and Reuters declined to cover the event due to restrictions by the Swedish government.  So there is a real dearth of adorkable photos of Prince Daniel.  The Washington Post website has a slideshow of Getty images that are lovely and give a good sense of the Prince's, well, prince-liness.  He was just a commoner but look at him now...a real live Disney character! 

Congrats to the royal couple and here's hoping that their royal marriage truly lasts forever after.

June 21, 2010

"Nightmare On Elm Street 2" Comes Out of the Closet...Finally

For years, I have been telling anyone and everyone who would listen that the hottest gay studio flick of the 1980's was "Nightmare On Elm Street 2".  Forget all the hype about "Top Gun". Compared to this unlikely gem, Tom and Val only talk a good game. "Nightmare" totally goes all the way: lots of bare asses, S/M in the locker room, and even a full-fledged scene in a gay bar (with New Line co-founder Bob Shaye in a memorable role as a leathery bartender).  

I remember this movie being on cable when I was in college and, everytime it came on, I was riveted to the screen by what I saw.  I remember thinking is anyone else getting all this crazy gayness?!  I couldn't believe this was on TV...then again, it was HBO.  Meanwhile, my roommates were all, "uh...why are you watching that movie for the 10th time?" :)

There is now a comprehensive documentary which tells the history of the "Nightmare" franchise, including an official "outing" of the second installment.  It's called "Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy".  In an 8-minute excerpt posted on YouTube this weekend, the director of the sequel and New Line executives all claim they were clueless about the gay subtext which is actually more like super text.  But the screenwriter, the production designer and the lead actor, Mark Patton were all Mary's and knew exactly what they were doing.

There are some great stories and quotes in this preview and, if you're intrigued to learn more and Freddy and his special friends, you can order the full 2-disc DVD.  But I would encourage you to just rent or Netflix the original movie.  It's a totally campy and weirdly sexy horror treat.  And there is some off-the-hook bad 80's fashion too.

June 18, 2010

Welcome To The Wild, Wild West

You might think that state-mandated death by firing squad was something that went out with the 20th century.  Well, you might want to think again.

In today's TIMES, there's a fascinating and disturbing article about a death sentence in Utah that was carried out in this Wild West manner just last night.  Though it's their first firing squad execution since 1996, it still seems a bit old-fashioned to be pasting a target to an inmates' jumpsuit and having five prison guards give it their best shot.  Seriously....that's how it went down.  The even stranger twist to all this is that it is the condemned's own choice; it's either firing squad or lethal injection.

Though Utah is no Texas (with a stunning 450 executions since 1977) it is still rather remarkable that this type of punishment and the way it's carried out is still an option.   

June 16, 2010

Psycho Turns 50

Fifty years ago this week, Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho" opened in theatres.  Despite a lukewarm critical reaction, this film about a real estate secretary on the lam who makes a fateful stop at the Bates Motel was embraced by audiences and became one of Hitchock's biggest hits.   

This weekend, Kurt Anderson's Studio 360 did a few stories on the film's anniversary.  They even did an interview with the former Playboy bunny who claims she was the one who got knifed in the shower.  Marli Renfro has for years said that she was Janet Leigh's body double for the majority of this iconic scene.  However, Leigh has stuck to her story that she was there for all 77 camera setups, shot over the course of 6 days in December 1959.  But Marli makes a good case in her interview.  Also, given Hollywood's long standing use of body doubles and any actors natural inclination to complain about standing naked in a shower for a week, I'm inclined to believe Marli's story.

If you'd like to read more about the making of this extraordinary film, the Wikipedia entry is very comprehensive.  And there are a number of books on the subject, notably Donald Spotos' "The Dark Side of Genius", "Alfred Hitchock and the Making of Psycho" and the The Truffaut Interviews  which are probably the best in that you get to hear everything direct from the director himself. 

June 15, 2010

The NY Post Takes On The Velvet Ropes

I used to have an aversion to the NY POST.  More like an allergic reaction, especially during the Bush era with it's jingoistic headlines and far-right angle on all the news.  Lately, I have realized while picking up the stray copy on the subway, that the POST can actually be quite amusing.  Sometimes even intentionally.

Yesterday's POST had an explosive undercover investigation of how strict the velvet ropes were at a bunch of clubs in the Meat Packing district.  The newspaper hired six actors, dressed as stereotypes (i.e. guido, suburban dad, geek)  trying to get into the six clubs.  Who had the most success?  Suburban dad, of course.  I say of course because he is the only one who looks like he could easily afford an $18 martini.  

June 14, 2010

Grindr In The White House

Two enterprising female reporters for the Washington Examiner had an idea; they created a fake profile and signed in on Grindr while in the White House press room.  Grindr is an iPhone app which is like GPS-aided personals and a high-tech tool for cruising.  Apparently, they found more than a few gay men in the West Wing looking for some action. Not to the mention the Senate.   And, of course, they hit the motherlode standing outside the Pentagon.  Go figure.  

You can check out their YouTube video report below.  Though there style is a little rough, their idea was crafty.  Next stop...the Supreme Court.  Quick before David Souter leaves.

June 10, 2010

A Stroll Through Green-Wood Cemetery

Last weekend, I hit the BK for a field trip to Green-Wood Cemetary.  Set amongst some gorgeous hills near Brooklyn's Bay Ridge neighborhood, it's one of the oldest cemetaries in the city and easily the most beautiful.  It's home to many celebrity graves for folks like Leonard Bernstein, Fred Ebb, Peter Cooper and Jean-Michel Basquiat, just to name a few.
Founded in 1838, Green-Wood was recently designated a National Historic Landmark in 2006 not just for it's role as a cemetary but also for the Battle of Brooklyn.  This was a famous fight during the Revolutionary War between the British and colonial troops on the highest natural point in Kings County....a hilltop with stunning views of the city and the Harbor, thus a site that was strategically essential. 

Anyway, here's some photos I took in my wanderings.  As you can see, it's definitely one of the creepier cemetaries around.  Lots of mausoleums and statuary, as was the custom in the 1800's.

June 9, 2010

NetPix: Square Pegs

In 1982, CBS aired a quirky high school comedy starring a teenaged Sarah Jessica Parker called "Square Pegs".  Created by Anne Beatts (one of the original staff writers on SNL) it was critically well-received but had trouble getting decent ratings and was cancelled after just 20 episodes.  

When this show originally aired, I was fairly obsessed with it and even wrote a letter to CBS when word came down it was not going to be renewed. I recently heard SJP being interviewed on Studio 360 and the host played a clip from the show which sent me into a nostalgia-spin.  I immediately searched for it on NetFlix and found the one and only season of the show now on DVD.  

Despite all the 80's "fashion" and references (remember the Budweiser "Taste Buds"?), the show holds up pretty well and is very entertaining.  Then again, given my love of GLEE, this show is pretty much my sweet spot.  As for SJP, she is totally adorkable.  She almost didn't get cast on the show as the lead geek because she was too pretty.  But when she put on a pair of the casting directors big owl glasses, a sitcom star was born.  

The other standout in the cast is Merritt Butrick as Johnny Slash.  Watching it now, he is pretty much the gay guy on the show before you were allowed to say it.  It's pretty funny the various ways they telegraph this....like everyone think's he's punk but he keeps insisting he is "New Wave", leading to his catch phrase: "it's a totally different head, man...totally." Yeah, totally.  He also has a nicely braided rattail.....god, remember those?!  And the coolest moussed-up hairdo.  Sadly, despite going on to star in "The Wrath Of Khan" and "Star Trek: The Next Generation", Merritt died suddenly in 1990 of complications from AIDS.  He was just 29.  It's a tragic footnote to what has been a truly joyous viewing experience.  

So if you're desperate for a goofy look at high school in the 80's, this show may be geeky at heart but it's a winner in my book...and the rare TV show that is laugh-out loud funny too.

June 8, 2010

A Picture That's Worth A Thousand Miles

I found this amazing photo on Towleroad today.  It's a shot of last month's launch of the Space Shuttle Atlantis, taken from the unique perspective of a pair of F15 fighter jets patrolling the Kennedy Space Center. This was Atlantis' last flight, with the entire Shuttle program set to end next year.  A truly stunning shot...

June 7, 2010

The Mystery of The "Nighthawks" Diner

One of my favorite local history blogs, Jeremiah's Vanishing New York, has posted part one of a two-part mystery surrounding the location of the diner which inspired Edward Hopper's painting "Nighthawks".  For years, the rumor has been that the diner was located at the intersection of Seventh Avenue and Greenwich Street, where the MTA currently has a fenced in lot for vehicles with controversial plans to build a ventilation plant there.  However, after some diligent research, Jeremiah has found pictures of a gas station on the site from the 1930's. And no evidence of anything else being built there since, other than the MTA's fence.

Hopper has said the diner was inspired by a place he saw on Greenwich.  But Hopper has also been known to take liberties with his inspiration and was not exactly a documentary painter.  If you tune in tomorrow, Jeremiah says he'll reveal where the real diner was located. It would be amazing if he even found a picture.  I wouldn't put it past him....this guy really knows his stuff.

June 4, 2010

Zut Alors! The Gays Go To McDonalds Too

This adorable ad is airing in France apparently. So sweet....it's like a little piece of a French indie art movie that happens to take place in McD's.  So when do we get to see the American version of this ad?  They could certainly buy some time in GLEE and maybe some more of The Gays would actually go buy Big Macs.  No fries though.  Carbs.  :)

June 3, 2010

Stares In The City

Sex And The City's Kim Cattrall was one of more than 1300 people who sat across from performance artist Marina Abromovic in her 3-month marathon show at MOMA.  It ended on Monday afternoon to the applause of a filled atrium and the relief of Marina's back, which she was having some difficulty with after sitting 8 hours a day.

The Village Voice's website has put up photos from the Flickr stream of another artist, Marco Anelli, who took a picture of each person who stared down Marina for periods ranging from 1 minute to more than a couple hours.  Other celebs who sat were Lou Reed, Isabella Rossellini and Antony Hegarty.  There is also a priceless photo of a young girl who's 6 going on 60, a true city-kid skeptic of this whole performance art thing.  

I was at MOMA last week and it was fascinating to watch the different reactions of people as they sat to face the stone-faced Abromovic.  It was amazing to me that many people waited for more than 8 hours to have a few minutes in the chair opposite her for what some described as a religious experience. Some wept, some smiled and one woman even whipped off her clothes only to be removed by security.  Only in New York, kids! 

June 2, 2010

Manhattan-henge 2010

Twice a year, there is a phenomenon unique to New York where the sun lines up with the city's east-west street grid, creating some beautiful conditions for photography.  It's informally called Manhattanhenge and the first one of 2010 happened at sunset on Monday.  I found out about this on a blog called Animal, which has posted Manhattanhenge pictures for the last couple years, like the one above.  The next opportunity for anyone looking for a unique picture of the city will occur on July 11th at 8:42pm.  Mark your calendar, bring your druid necklace and I'll see you on 42nd street with my Lumix. 

June 1, 2010

Moscow's First Gay Pride Parade

While Memorial Day was celebrated here over the weekend, a holiday on which we remember and honor the servicemen and women who have fought for our freedoms, in Moscow a group of daring activists managed to stage the first Gay Pride Parade.  Unlike New York's parade goes on for five hours plus, this parade lasted about 10 minutes.  But that was a huge step forward considered the history of such events there recently. 

The city of Moscow's police and politicians have been incredibly hostile to gays and lesbians in recent years and all previous attempts to stage a Pride Parade have been disbanded, some ending in violence.  But on Saturday, a group of roughly 30 determined gays and lesbians, evaded the police and, through the magic of digital video and the Internet, you can watch their brave and determined efforts below.  This dramatic video  is from the Band of Thebes blog and there is is full coverage at Towleroad with more photos and behind-the-scenes videos.

I've often heard people here in the city bitch and moan about the Gay Pride Parade....that it's too long, it's too flamboyant, and, as someone recently tried to explain to me, it's "unnecessary". For those who wonder why we still march on gay pride day, this is a stark reminder that the fight for equality goes on.