November 30, 2010

Military Report Says "Little Risk" In Having Gays In Military

The long-awaited report from the US military about whether they can handle the idea of gays serving openly in the armed forces is being released this afternoon.  After months of surveys and analysis, it comes to the shocking conclusion that repealing the 17-year old "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy would cause little risk to the military's ability to carry out it's mission.

The report comes out, as it were, officially this afternoon but the Washington Post is reporting it's findings that gays in the military are not an issue with roughly 94% of those surveyed. Hopefully, this internal study will put an end to all the excuses that have drawn out the repeal of this unfortunate policy since President Obama stated his intent to end it more than a year ago.  It's now up to Congress to vote on it quickly before the end of the current session and the end of their democratic majority.

I've always found this whole debate over the issue incredibly frustrating since gays and lesbians have been an integral part of the US military for decades.  Their role in WWII is especially well-documented in the remarkable non-fiction book "Coming Out Under Fire" by Allan Berube. So it's about time they are allowed to serve openly and honestly in the noblest of missions; defending our freedoms.  

November 29, 2010

Nostalgia Rides The Rails For Christmas

The MTA is running some vintage trains for the holidays on special excursions.  Unlike previous rides where the special trains ran once for a extra fare of $20, this year you can ride one of the old R1/9 cars for the price of a regular fare swipe.

The trains will be running on the 6th Avenue line on Sundays from 10AM-4PM.   Also the MTA is even putting some vintage buses into service as well.  You can catch one on 34th Street in Manhatan and other lines throughout the city.  For details on these trips to the past, you can check the MTA website for lines and depature times.

November 24, 2010

It's Oscar Season....Brace Yourself

Oscar season is ramping up in the next few weeks as studios big awards campaigns go into full swing.  The major contenders right now seem to be "The Kings Speech", "The Kids Are Alright" and "Toy Story 3", if Disney gets its way.  Anyway, this video is a great spoof of all Oscar-aspiring movies and their oh-so-familiar trailers.  Check it out...

November 23, 2010

NetPix: Bored To Death, Season 1

I haven't had a good NetPix in a while as I haven't really seen any good movies on DVD.  I've been mainly watching a lot of TV in my queue.  But a newish show that I recently saw was last year's freshman season of "Bored To Death".  This HBO series starring Jason Schwartzman, Zach Galifanakis and Ted Danson, is one of the funniest shows I've seen in quite a while.  It's unique brand humor treads that fine line between the sublime and ridiculous, like the original "Seinfeld" did though in a much more subdued manner.

The series is centered around a Brooklyn writer named "Jonathan Ames" (who also happens to be the real-life scribe behind the show) who becomes an amateur detective after placing an ad on Craigslist.  It's a simple setup for some complicated story lines which often lead to hilarious shenanigans.  My favorite episode was one in which Jonathan attempts to retrieve a married man's sex tape and enlists his friends for a long, loopy night of adventure in New Jersey. Ted Danson, playing a magazine editor who is a bit of a senior stoner, is fantastic as he yearns for adventure after tiring of his wealthy, A-list, Manhattanite existence.  It seems that he, more than Jonathan, is the one who is bored to death.

Another charm of the series is its mixture of real-life and fiction, especially when it comes to the Ames character.  Jonathan is very much a TV doppelganger for the author's publicly stated interests and obsessions, such as boxing, Brooklyn and beer (or wine or vodka).  There is even an interesting collaboration with Zach's character, who is a graphic artist, which mirrors Ames' work with Dean Haspiel on their incredible graphic novel "The Alcoholic".  The show's focus on Brooklyn is unique as well, with a number of famous (Brighton Beach) and not so famous (Prisoner's Monument) local spots showing up and looking gorgeous.  The show is a true love letter to the BK and all it's quirky charms.

Season 2 just finished its first run on HBO recently.  It almost makes me want to get cable so I can watch it on-demand.  Almost.  I am dying (ha) to see what happens to this happy gang in the next go-round.

November 22, 2010

We Interrupt This Program...

It was 47 years ago today that a live broadcast of the soap opera "As The World Turns" on CBS was interrupted at 1:40pm.  What followed was the first audio report out of Dallas, Texas about an assassination attempt on President Kennedy.  It is riveting stuff and truly, as they say, the first draft of history.

The announcer is not Walter Cronkite and his voice is uncertain.... he even stumbles a couple times as he clearly reads copy that he just ripped off the wire.  The soap was interrupted twice more during it's half-hour broadcast as more details came in, like the number of shots, the fact that the Texas governor was wounded, and a report of assassins on the infamous grassy knoll.  What is most striking about these early reports is how clear it is that the president's wounds are grave. There is even the inclusion in the third bulletin of a Secret Service agent reportedly saying, "he's dead."

While we're all familiar with Uncle Walter's official video pronunciation of Kennedy's death roughly an hour later, I had never seen/heard these live bulletins before. A friend posted them on FB and they are worth watching today as, once again, we remember a president who was shot down in his prime.

November 19, 2010

A Blast From The Future--New Video By Massive Attack

In stark contrast to yesterday's blast from the video past, today I have this new clip for a song by Massive Attack.  This is one of the coolest CGI-style music video's I've seen in a while.  Truly stunning visuals.  Watch and be amazed...

Massive Attack-Splitting the Atom-directed by Edouard Salier from edouard salier on Vimeo.

November 18, 2010

All Fall Down-A Blast From the 80's Past

I finally got my YouTube account back after much confusion over at Google when they merged gmail accounts with video accounts.  Oy.  Anyway, after a few months blackout, I am celebrating my return to YouTube with this lost gem of the 80's that was suggested to me...."All Fall Down" by Five Star.  Google may not know how to merge my accounts but they do know my musical taste!

So...Five Star was a funky British girl group, all of them related, with a lead singer who had braces.  Their big hit sounds suspiciously like a slower jam of the Jets "I've Got A Crush On You" but, then again, there was a sweet sameness to this brand of '80's funky pop.  Also, I remember loving this video because of its more handmade rotoscoping which was in contrast to that other super-slick animated video taking 1985 by storm.  Enjoy!

November 17, 2010

Former AT&T Commercial Guy Matt Bush Is Kinda Cute

If this guy looks familiar you may recognize him as the weird kid in the AT&T Rollover commercials from a few years back.  His name is Matt Bush and he has been a busy little actor since then, starring in a few feature films (an summer romp set in 1985, "Adventureland") and TV pilots.  Now one of his shows has gone to air and it premiered last night on TBS.  It's called "Glory Daze" and is about a bunch of guys starting college in 1986.  So Matt Bush the look of the 80's or something?

While the music was awesome as they cranked out the hits of my college years ("Girls On Film"!), the show was somewhat lackluster.  However, things got slightly more funny whenever Matt showed up to say something weird or do something crazy.  Unfortunately, he was not cast as the lead but more of a goofy sidekick, a Jewish kid named Eli who gets incredibly stoned in the pilot.  But his best moment was the introduction of his character.  In one of the show's many nods to 80's films, Eli is shown dancing in his underwear ala Tom Cruise in "Risky Business".  I know.... not a highly original idea but Matt made the most of it.

The scene is the second up in the preview clip below. Anyway, you will surely be seeing more of Matt in the future, hopefully on shows that are a little more interesting than this retro rehash.

November 16, 2010

The Queens Midtown Tunnel Is Getting Old

Some of New York City's bridges get a lot of fanfare and even fireworks when celebrating big birthdays.  But yesterday, the Queens Midtown Tunnel, that workhorse of a road that carries an average of nearly 100,000 vehicles a day into the city, turned 70 and almost no one noticed.

Well, one person who did notice is Ben over at Second Avenue Sagas.  He had a nice little write up about the history of tunnel and the story of its construction.  One interesting fact was that the tunnel had its original brick surface until 2001 when it was entirely repaved.

The Queens-Midtown Tunnel, which brings cars from the city directly to the famed Long Island Expressway, has previously had one big moment in the spotlight.  It had a starring role in the original "Men In Black" movie asTommy Lee and Will famously sped out of the city on its roof. It was surely the fastest commute in the tunnel's long, congested history.

November 15, 2010

A Pastor In Georgia Comes Out With Pride

In recent years, there have been some dramatic scenes of religious pastors, shamed by private behaviour that has suddenly been made public, being forced to admit their sexuality to their congregations.  Being pushed out of the closet is never pretty, even if it may be somewhat deserved for preaching homophobia.  But here's something different: a pastor who comes out by choice and does so with eloquence and dignity.

James Swilley, who founded and runs a mega church in Georgia with his ex-wife, recently came out to in a Sunday sermon.  The reason?  He was compelled by the rash of gay suicides and his ex-wife's prompting to live his preachings.  What I love most about this CNN interview Swilley gave on Sunday is how straightforward and direct he is in his answers, especially when it comes to some annoying Twitter questions about the Bible.

This is a man of faith who is also gay.  And guess what America...there of many of them out there.  This brave man just decided to speak his truth.

November 12, 2010

A Real Life Mystery On FOX's "FRINGE"

One of my guilty pleasure TV shows is FOX's "Fringe".  It's a compelling sci-fi show that sometimes deals in real world science and scientific mystery.  Last night's episode, was about a unexplained phenomenon called "Number Stations".

Since the late 1940's, these shortwave radio stations have been broadcasting a seemingly random list of numbers for anyone to hear, usually those with a HAM radio. There are thousands of enthusiasts around the world who listen to and track these odd broadcasts but no one has been able to crack their code.  For years the rumor was that these stations were broadcasting the secret messages of spies during the Cold War.  But the Cold War is over and the numbers stations persist. No government has officially ever admitted to using numbers stations.

The explanation on "Fringe" last night had something to do with agents from an alternate universe giving longitude and latitude clues about where to find pieces of an ancient, buried doomsday machine that, if re-constructed, may likely destroy this universe.  Cool, right?  But if you'd like a more real explanation, I found this CBS News report on YouTube which has some interesting details and a more in-depth report on NPR.

November 11, 2010

Another Cool Video From OK Go

The indie rock band OK Go has become just as known for their catchy songs as for their inventive videos.  They have a new one out this week called "Last Leaf", a seasonal song of sorts with an accompanying video made up of nearly 3,000 pieces are artfully burned toast.  One wonders not only how they managed to do this but who came up with the idea in the first place.  It's a beautiful piece of animation and a lovely little song too.

Last Leaf

OK Go | Myspace Music Videos

November 10, 2010

Top 10 Car Wrecks Of All Time

OK--sorry to sound like the HuffPost today but I just found this clip compilation of the top 10 car wrecks from the movies and it is awesome.  Now, anyone who knows me knows I love a good car chase.  This may be surprising as my films haven't exactly been FAST nor FURIOUS.  That's only because I haven't had the budget to wreck some vehicles. In fact, I have a car chase in my upcoming movie PROM QUEENS and a big multi-car chase in my book "A Really Nice Prom Mess".

I have to say that this list is pretty inclusive and definitely has some of my favorites, including the number 1 spot.  The only movie missing is "What's Up Doc" and the VW bug that goes flying into SF bay. This comes from a newly relaunched site that has all sorts of fun clips and mashups.   Check them out!

Movie Videos & Movie Scenes at

November 9, 2010

Fall In The Bronx At The NY Botanical Garden

The New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx is home to a 50-acre Native Forest with trees that are more than are more than a hundred years old.  There was a write-up in the TIMES last week about leaf-peeping around the city in places other than Central Park. There are natural preserves in Staten Island, Queens and even Manhattan at Inwood Park.  But I have to say that the Bronx is pretty stunning.  I was up there recently and the fall colors were amazing.  Enjoy!


November 8, 2010

Kurt Gets Serenaded By Dudes On GLEE

GLEE started out a little rough this season and I almost gave up on it.  Then the "Rocky Horror" episode won be back with some great numbers and surprising casting (Merecedes as Frankenfurter!).  But still the show's been a little stuck in second year gear, as it were.  It looks like that could all change this week...big time.

There were rumors that Kurt, the show's out and about choir boy, was going to be getting an actual love interest.  Well, tomorrow night he meets a guy (played and sung by Darren Criss) from a all-dude prep school and gets serenaded by not only him but the entire boys Katy Perry's "Teenage Dreams" even!  The singing and do-woop dancing is fab but what really gets me is Kurt's reaction to all of it.  Crazy.  Tune in tomorrow at 8pm for all the gay action.....only on FOX.

November 5, 2010

The Vote Totals Were Not As High As The Rent

The results for the NY state governors race were not much of a surprise: 2.6 million votes for Andrew Cuomo and 1.4 million votes for nutter Carl Palladino.  But Jimmy McMillan of the wacky "Rent Is 2 Damn High" Party nearly quadrupled his total from the 2006 election.  In that year, he received about 14,000 votes whereas this year, due to his inclusion in the gubernatorial televised debate and the national press that ensued, he hit nearly 40,000 votes. 

This apparently is enough encouragement to keep Jimmy going as he plans to keeps running in the future.  Next up is the NYC mayoral race in 2013.  In fact, realizing his simple platform has national relevance given the hard times all around, Jimmy has even been encouraged to run for President.  However, he says he won't do that just now because he likes President Obama too much.  So while the rent may be high,  Jimmy's ego is through the roof.

November 4, 2010

Ricky Martin on THE VIEW: "God Doesn't Make Mistakes"

Ricky Martin appeared on THE VIEW yesterday to talk with the ladies about his new life as an openly gay man.  And, of course, to plug his new book.  But I was quite impressed with his frank discussion of his own struggle to come out and how his Catholic faith made that difficult.  Now, he's hoping his honesty can help inspire and even help others.

Below is a clip from the interview where, towards the end, Ricky makes an impassioned plea to teens out there who may be struggling with their sexuality. It was sort of an impromptou "It Gets Better" video but one that was clearly heartfelt.

November 3, 2010

Not The High Turnout They Were Hoping For

In the flood of election news about the Republican wave, there is one little loss that is worth noting. In California, voters rejected Proposition 19 which would have make recreational use of marijuana legal.  One would think that, since the state legalized medical marijuana successfully a few years back, this one would have passed easily.  But apparently the youth vote did not turn out and the measured was defeated by double digits.  The only area where voters were in favor of it was the Bay Area, but only by a slim margin.

The Wednesday morning quarterbacking on this story is that just having it on the ballot was a watershed moment.  I'd have to say that's true.  For years, stoners have joked about making marijuana legal and here was a state, the largest in the nation, seriously considering doing just that.  While lower voter turnout contributed to the loss, there was also the prickly problem of the fact that marijuana would have remained illegal at the federal level.  The legal morass this would have created was probably a turn-off to most law-abiding citizens.

Well, maybe like Prop 8 in 2008, this is only the beginning of an inevitable march toward legalization.  Given the amount of income it could generate from taxes, it could be increasingly hard to resist as state and federal deficits continue to grow.

November 2, 2010

Uncle Tom's Cabin Is Actually A Kitchen

Back in July, I had posted a story about the original "Uncle Tom's Cabin", located in Bethesda, MD and only a few miles from where I grew up.  Recently, though, it has come to light that the supposed cabin where slave Josiah Henson lived is actually a kitchen for the Riley Farm. And, on top of that, the whole house is not as old as it was promoted to be, built sometime after Henson fled to Canada where his life story inspired Harriet Beecher Stowe's landmark book.

The Washington Post did an expose of this massive history FAIL last month which you can read here.  There's also more in-depth report on this historian website.  All in all, it's a compelling tale about how the Montgomery County government, which spent more than a million dollars to keep the property off the market, ignored historical evidence that countered the years of rumors that had identified the physical property as signficant.  

Though it's still believed that Henson worked as a slave on the Riley Farm in the early 19th century, the actual cabin is not there anymore.  The official website for the site has been updated since but there is no admission of their error.  There is only reference to a public meeting held on October 28th where the name of the site was changed from "Uncle Tom's Cabin Park" to "Josiah Henson Special Park".  Special indeed. And there is a new warning at the end of the main text, stating that "as with all historical inquiries, research is ongoing." 

November 1, 2010

The Unseen James Bond Auditions of 1968

The new LIFE magazine, which now exists mainly online, has a cool feature about the casting of James Bond after Sean Connery left the franchise. In 1968, the producers got together the five finalists for a Bond-Off studio session in London where they took stills and shot some test footage to see who looked best holding the martini and fondling the girl. has some great highlights on their website.

A close runner up was John Richardson, a slim/sexy '60's star who appeared memorably in ONE MILLION BC (with Raquel Welch) and ON A CLEAR DAY YOU CAN SEE FOREVER (with Babs Streisand).  Too bad he didn't make the cut as he looks quite fine in this shot and others where he's wearing a revealing square cut suit.  However, the role eventually went to George Lazenby who had his one and only outing as 007 in ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE.