October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween From Randy Rainbow & Beau Arthur

A rare double-posting for Halloween but this video was too good to wait until tomorrow.  Randy Rainbow is up to his old tricks again with accompaniment by Beau Arthur and special guest phone calls from Pat Robertson.  It's good scary fun!

"Party Rock Anthem" Rocks Halloween House In California

With five million hits and counting, this viral video has become a Halloween sensation over the last week.  A man in Riverside, CA who does up his house with a crazy lights/disco combo for major holidays picked LMFAO's song of the moment, "Party Rock Anthem" to do a Halloween themed light show.  It's so good that it's not only stopping traffic in front of his house but also driving traffic like crazy to YouTube.

What's also amazing is how unassuming the creator of all this is.  Kevin Judd, 39, who works as a technician for Verizon, said he didn't particularly like the song but his kids did, making him officially the coolest dad of the year.  It is a pretty impressive display for a guy who calls himself a "hobbyist".  And it's certainly rockin' the web  this Halloween.

October 28, 2011

What's In A Subway Sign? A New Font

In a break from their 45-year old master plan, the New York City subway system has introduced a new font to their signage.  At stations in and around the World Trade Center site, they have used Gotham instead of Helevetica to direct passengers to the entrance of the 9/11 Memorial.  The reason is that Gotham is the font of the memorial's trademarked design.

It is rather surprising change given how Helvetica has become a trademark of the system itself.  But the TIMES City Blog reports the MTA says this is actually just a temporary move.  The signs to the memorial are there because it currently has one controlled entrance (due to continuing construction at the site) and this is to guide thousands of visitors to that area in a clear, visually arresting way.

October 27, 2011

VHS Comes Back From The Dead....Literally

The '80s are proving to be the decade that won't die with all the revivals lately in terms of fashion, music and movies.  Now another totally unlikely return is upon us....yes, that's right, the VHS tape is back!  In the same way that vinyl has lived on in an era of CDs and MP, the clunky ol' videotape is having a revival of sorts, but only for a specific type of film....grade Z gorefests.

There was a fun article in the TIMES about this curiously revival, with the above-pictured cute boy as one of the true believers in analog technology.  Note the big, bold VHS tattoo on his bicep.  Now that is some serious low tech-love!  Apparently, when watching bad horror movies made in that decade, the terrible quality of VHS tapes only helps make the experience more enjoyable.  Huh?  Yeah, that was pretty much my reaction too. But then again, I'm not a fan of those trashy horror films, other than the DAWN OF THE DEAD series which is more brilliantly trashy.

October 26, 2011

Herman Cain's Smokin' New Campaign Ad

Yesterday morning, I saw a link to an ad for rising Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain on FB.  I clicked on it and it was so bizzare I thought it must be a hoax.  It only had about 300 hits too.  Today it has nearly 400,000.  The ad shows Cain's campaign manager, Mark Block, talking about Cain and the campaign somewhat haltingly and then smoking a cigarette at the end.  No, make that relishing a cigarette. Then there is a weird/creepy shot of Herman Cain turning towards the camera in extreme closeup.  

Well, believe it or not, the ad is real.  And many are calling it the worst political ad of all time.  You can listen to Herman Cain himself on a radio show explain the whole thing, though he seems somewhat surprised by it too.  But basically, his message is that he is going to be who he is and his campaign manager is going to be who he is....a guy who loves smoking on camera. Whether or not this is a saavy strategy to get people to vote for him, it is certainly getting his message out there.  And now, according to a new CBS poll,  Cain has taken the lead over Romney by 4 points.

October 25, 2011

Actor Luke Evans Comes Out, Goes Hollywood, and Then Goes Back In

A week after seeing two celebrities come out publicly, this story is just a little sad.  Actor Luke Evans, a Brit who got noticed doing theatre in London and then ended up in CLASH OF THE TITANS, had given some interviews a few years back where he talked openly about being gay. But now, with the release of the movies THREE MUSKETEERS, IMMORTALS and the upcoming mega-buster THE HOBBIT in which he stars, he is suddenly silent on the topic and seemingly straight.  

Media site Dot429 has the full details on the story and how his managers/agents are saying that admissions he made in earlier interviews were when he was young and immature.  The person who wrote this article claims that he knows, through mutual friends, that Evans would like to continue to be openly gay but the corporate media system has thrown his back in the closet.  They even revised his Wikipedia page to say that he "doesn't like to talk about his personal life." 

So while some actors like Zachary Quinto are brave enough to buck the system, for an up and comer like Evans, the more things change in H'wood the more they stay the same.

October 24, 2011

Documentary about Divine Needs Your Help

Earlier this year, I had a campaign on IndieGoGo to raise money for the off-Broadway debut of my play, WTC VIEW.  Now a fellow filmmaker I know has his own crowd-sourcing campaign going for a documentary about Divine, the fabulously filthy star of John Waters early films from the '70s and '80s, including most famously HAIRSPRAY. So it's time to pay it forward, as they say....

Today is the last day of Jeffrey Schwarz's IndieGoGo campaign for I AM DIVINE and he is still trying to reach his goal for this film.  So give what you can...$10 or $100 or more. There are some fun and trashy perks too.  (I got a copy of Jeffrey's William Castle doc!)  And Jeffrey has also put together a hilarious appeal video/trailer for the project as well which is (obviously) NSFW but is highly entertaining. Just like Divine!

October 21, 2011

&$@!*? That Siri Says...And Sings Too

In the last week, people have been having fun with Siri, Apple's new built-in digital personal assistant that comes with the new iPhone.  Though you can make appointments, phone calls and search the internet for all sorts of information, people of course like to ask Siri personal questions.  To some of these there is a built in response while to others, Siri seems to go a little blank.  There is now a Tumblr devoted to the "Shit Siri Says" where you can read what people have said (PEOPLE: "I Love You" SIRI: "All You Need Is Love. And Your iPhone"! ) and add your own too.

But asking Siri what she looks like is not enough for us humans either. We also have to sing it to her.  A talented young musician named Jonathan Mann has created a little duet with Siri.  How cute.  And very funny too....

October 20, 2011

Radioactive Wolves on PBS's NATURE

Whenever there's nothing to watch on TV, you can always count on something interesting on PBS.  Last night, I randomly clicked over to WNET-13 and found a fascinating show about how packs of wolves have not only survived but thrived in the radioactive no-man's land surrounding the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.  The explosion at the Soviet-run reactor in 1986 remains the worst nuclear accident, bypassing even the near meltdown in Japan earlier this year.  The disaster created a zone of intense radiation around the plant that also emptied nearby company-town Pripyat, turning it into a creepy industrial ghost town.

Though humans cannot live in this disaster areas, wild animals strangely enough do and have actually thrived there.  The documentary, presented as part of the NATURE series, is not only about the wolves but also about how herds of bison and wild horses (extinct in this part of Europe since the 1880s) now roam this desolate landscape.  The area has become something of a sanctuary for endangered species.  One of the oddest facts is the super-size catfish living in a former reactor cooling pond that are now more than 8 feet long.  They aren't that size though due to radioactivity.  It's because they just kept growing after 1986 when their immediate natural predators were killed off the by initial accident.  Catfish can live up to 100 years old, if not eaten by other animals.  So these fish as enjoying an unusually fat, chill, relaxed life in the shadow of a nuclear disaster.

The doc was filled with all sorts of bizarre facts like this, told in the typically dry and slow-pace that PBS still favors. In fact, I'd go so far to say PBS is a sanctuary of sorts compared to the insane pacing and utter lack of information on most commercial television.  So if you're looking for something unusual and informative, it will surely repeat again or you can watch some cool clips on the PBS website.

October 19, 2011

To The Stars, In 100 Years

Down in Orlando this week, hundreds of scientists and engineers attended a symposium on how to get from the earth to the stars.  As reported in this week's TIMES, the meetup was entitled "The 100-Year Starship Study" and was to look at long-term solutions to traveling super-long distances in space. It was organized not by NASA but by DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency who famously did the ground work in the 1960s that eventually brought us the Internet.

Now they are looking at long-terms plans for man to get from here to Alpha Centuri, the nearest star system.  The problem; well, it's a bigger hike than you might imagine.  Take this analogy, presented by starship designer Richard Obousy:
If Earth were in Orlando and the closest star system, Alpha Centauri, were in Los Angeles, then NASA’s two Voyager spacecraft, the most distant manmade objects, have traveled just one mile.
Wow. From that factoid you might think there's no chance.  But these diligent folks are working on a number of interesting ideas involving nuclear powered engines (like the Icarus project, pictured above which is the size of an aircraft carrier) and a starship that has no engine at all.  That ship would travel using the gravity of asteroids, planets and stars along the way, not unlike the Voyager crafts.  But the timeline they're working on here, of course, is a long one...100 years long. So though I'll likely never see it in my lifetime it's fascinating stuff to ponder anyway. 

October 18, 2011

They're Coming Out: Zach Quinto & Dan Kloeffler

A week after National Coming Out day, there is a growing wave of celebrities coming out.  It started on Sunday with Zachary Quinto, most famous for playing Spock in the STAR TREK reboot.  He made his announcement in a very low key way, as part of a movie promo interview with New York magazine, choosing not to go the cover-of-PEOPLE-magazine route.  And that is admirable in that is places his sexuality in the same context as any other actor; that is, it's simply a fact and a facet of his personality.

Then, the coming out party picked up steam today when ABC News anchor Dan Kloeffler came out in a similar manner during his World News Now broadcast.  (You can watch the clip below.)  It's also notable in that Kloeffler makes his sexuality an aspect of who he is when he jokingly talks about breaking his rule for dating actors while commenting on the Quinto story. In a short but eloquent follow-up blog post today, Kloeffler said he was not only inspired by Zach's action and also by the fact that young gay teens need to see they are not alone in their struggles.  So true...and so inspiring too.

October 14, 2011

Getting My MAD MEN Fix In The East Village

It's been a little over a year since Season 4 of MAD MEN ended, leaving me and millions of others anticipating the return of Don and the ladies to our screens (TV or otherwise).  It's been quite a long wait as Season 5 got delayed due to contract negotiations. They finally started shooting back in August but the new season will not begin airing until March 16, 2012.  Sigh.

Until then, there is a zippy alternative that I rediscovered last night at the Wilde Project in the EV.  It's a MM musical spoof called The Mad World Of Miss Hathaway starring my good friends Angela DiCarlo and Patrick Johnson.  Ange plays a singing version of Christina Hendricks and Patrick plays a plus-sized version of Peggy.  This installment, the fourth they've put together over the last year, plays with the Beatnik storyline from Season 3 with some catchy songs and hilarious in-jokes for those MM fanatics out there.  And a special guest starring role for downtown writer Mike Albo as an unemployed, pot-smoking hippie.

There is one more show if you want to catch it....tonite at 8p at the Wild Project, 3rd Street btw A/B. Until the real thing appears next spring, this Mad World is a satisfying "fix" for those suffering from MM withdrawal.  And there will be a holiday episode too, coming in early December.  Talk about a Christmas gift!

October 13, 2011

DIRTY GIRL is Super Sweet

Over the weekend, I caught a new indie movie called DIRTY GIRL.  The title is somewhat misleading as this was the sweetest and most surprisingly indie I've seen in a while. Set in 1987 (OK--so I may be a little biased), it's about a slutty high school girl, played perfectly by Brit actress Juno Temple, who goes on a road trip to find her father.  Along for the ride is an overweight gay kid she is paired with in a health class, newcomer Jeremy Dozier.

The film truly feels like something from the late 80's with its spot-on soundtrack (four Melissa Manchester songs!) and hazy, pastel look (shot on real film, of course).  It's a bit ramshackle and thrown together but that's part of its charm, as well as featuring some winning performances from the two leads and a colorful cast of well-known supporting characters, like Mary Steenburgen, William H. Macy, Milla Jovovich and Dwight Yoakam.  I don't know why the film has gotten some less than shining critical notices as audiences seem to really be enjoying it...including me!  The film is a fun mix of sweetness and reality, magic and mayhem, with a few music videos thrown in too.

It's only playing in NYC right now but opening in other cities over the next few weeks. So if you'd like a fun alternative to the usual studio fare, this is a great movie to check out.  And a much more enjoyable movie than the other '80s retro film out there now, DRIVE (which I've previously blogged about). Go see DIRTY GIRL and support indie film!  

October 12, 2011

Gay Rights Pioneer Franklin Kameny, 1925-2011

One of the first proponents of equal rights for gays and lesbians, Franklin Kameny of Washington DC died yesterday at his home.  He was 86 years old and there is a full obituary at the Washington Blade's website today.

In 1958, after being discharged from the Army for being gay, Kameny started fighting the fight and rounding up protestors in respectable ties and jackets to picket the White House for equal rights.   In a time when "homosexuals" were considered deviant and their activities criminal, Kameny took to the streets in the spirits of the '60s to make his case for equal rights.

I wrote about Kameny last year when he attended President Obama's signing of the bill to end the military's discriminatory policy against gays and lesbians. And it's amazing that he died just a couple weeks after witnessing the official end of that policy which made him an activist.  He was a true pioneer for equal rights for gays and lesbians.

October 11, 2011

Netflix Gets A Clue & Kills Qwikster

I got another email from Netflix yesterday, the third since late July about crazy changes in the pricing and general service of what was once considered one of the great Internet businesses.  Fortunately, the third email was the charm as it announced that the company was not going to split their DVD and streaming into two separate businsses and websites. It was a change no one wanted...except the company's CEO, Reed Hastings.

Curiously, this email was not signed by Hastings but instead sent by "The Netflix Team".  Hastings got slammed for sending an apology email about the price increase that not only didn't truly apologize but, adding insult to injury, also sprung the horribly conceived idea of Qwikster on customers. I wonder if the fact that there was already an angry dude with Qwikster as his Twitter handle and looking to cash in had anything to do with the about face.

Anyway, though this is great news for customers, it's been bad news for Netflix stockholders.  The stock hit a one year low by the end of the day yesterday.  Basically, Netflix will have a long way to go to regain consumer's, as well as Wall Street's, confidence.

October 7, 2011


It's been a while since I've posted a fun DIY video....but this one is great!  It definitely takes some knowledge of the original '80s-movie sendup by Katy Perry, which probably cost as much as an '80s movie.  Though this version was probably made for a couple bucks, what it lacks in budget it makes up for in uniqueness and the cute charm of its lead, Michael Chase DiMartino.

DiMartino is a singer-songwriter based in NYC....a dime a dozen right?  Well, not exactly.  His day job is what makes him unique as he is a sign-language interpreter for businesses and for music celebrities too, like Lady Gaga.  So using his skills, he made an ASL version of Perry's catchy hit.  It helps that he is adorable and can dance too.  Watch through to the '80s makeover at the end....awesome!

October 6, 2011

Steve Jobs Made Computers Cute

There are many obituaries, tributes and bios of Steve Jobs online today after the Apple visionary died yesterday at the age of 56.  Many superlatives have been used to describe Jobs and the remarkable impact he had on the world of computing.  One surprising fact to me was that he held more than 300 patents for everything from the casing for the original Mac to the staircases at Apple stores.  

But despite these remarkable technical innovations, Jobs did something unique.  Simply put, he made computers cute. Until the mid-80s, computers were forbidding machines that mathematicians, scientists and businessman used.  Then he created a Mac which smiled when you turned it on and was guided by a hand-operated mouse.  And slowly the world of computing truly became personal.  Later on, the utter simplicity of something like an iPod served as a sort of gateway drug for technophobes into the wonderful world of personal computing. People were surprised to find their parents and even grandparents online, often using a Mac or an iPad. 

In some ways, Job's remarkable story is similar to that of another industrial innovator, George Eastman. Despite what many think, Eastman did not "invent" photography (though he has multiple patents like Jobs).  What he did was to make it accessible with his equally cute and simple Brownie camera that spawned a similar revolution in the way people used photography.  Through his Kodak company, Eastman took an existing technology and made it friendly and usable for the masses.  Jobs did the same, times 10. And the world will never be the same....in a good way.

October 5, 2011

The SkyNet Chronicles: Apple Introduces Siri

I've posted a few times before about the increasing intelligence of computers and whether or not they are approaching the sinister capabilities of SkyNet, the fictional computer that became self-aware in the TERMINATOR movies and turned on its makers.  Yesterday, Apple was supposed to announce the iPhone 5 but the real big announcement was of a new app called Siri, which is a digital personal assistant.  It makes appointments on your calendar, it tells you where to find local Starbucks, it will even remind you gently to call your wife.

Of course, it does all of this after you tell it to.  But no matter....the Internets were abuzz with SkyNet freak outs yesterday.  CNN reported on this in a story which mentioned old SkyNet precursor Hal9000 from the 2001 movies.  I didn't even know that Hal has his own Twitter feed but he certainly had some snarky things to say on it about his new rival.  No word from Watson, IBM's supercomputer that beat a human on Jeopardy recently.  But maybe if someone set up Siri (who sounds like a woman, though Apple creepily calls her "it") and Watson and they had a baby it would grow up to rule the world! [Insert sinister laugh here.]  Computer conception, though, seems a little ways off....

October 4, 2011

Is WTC VIEW A True Story? Here's My Answer...

Since our first performance back in 2003, people have been asking me if WTC VIEW, my play about life in NYC after 9/11, is a true story.  I was recently asked to write an essay for my friend Ira Sach's website about "Art & Autobiography" on this topic.  Ira put together this website over the summer as part of the promotion for his own autobiographical film, KEEP THE LIGHTS ON, which is currently in post-production.

I have always found it interesting how people are fascinated by whether or not a work of fiction is true or not.  So I was eager to write about this topic, especially in relation to WTC VIEW.  This was a play (and then film) I wrote about a guy who places a roommate ad on the night before 9/11 looking for a roommate in lower Manhattan.  On 9/10/01, I placed a roommat ad for my apartment on the VILLAGE VOICE website and this was the starting point for this work.  But is the story autobiographical?  Not in the way that people would expect.

So please check out my article on "Art & Autobiography", which posted today. Also, take a look around the rest of the site as well.  Ira has put together some amazing writers and historical pieces about gay life in New York City, all of which are worth reading.