September 28, 2012

So Call Me Maybe.....On Your Glove Phone

This picture is not a joke or something from The Onion or the latest Carly Rae Jepsen spoof video.  This is Hi-Fun, a real and crazy little gadget that takes Bluetooth to the next level.

This set of warm winter gloves comes with a built in microphone and speaker so that you can literally put it up to you ear and mouth and hold a conversation.  It's made to connect with the iPhone too, making it a cool new accesory for those iPhone 5 adapters. Granted, people may think you look a little silly and your hand may cramp up a bit for those long conversations with your spouse. But in the winter, something like this might actually come in handy....especially in New York! Made and marketed mainly in Europe so far, the cost is 50 Euros...or about $64.

September 27, 2012

Staten Island Will Soon Have World's Tallest Ferris Wheel

Big news for NYC's forgotten borough today--they are getting the world's tallest ferris wheel over 680 feet in height. It should have some truly spectacular views of the entire harbor and, in one place, provide a view of probably all five boroughs of the city.  And, finally, there will be a reason for tourists to take the Staten Island ferry other than the view.

It always seemed like a missed opportunity to just have all those people get off the boat and loop back around. Now they will have somewhere to go, along with the usual planned hotel/retail complex. The whole project was announced today by Mayor Bloomberg and, if all goes well, will be completed in 2015.

There's a great quote about the whole thing today from the Borough's shockingly honest president, James Molinaro.  "We've gone from having the world's biggest dump to having the world's biggest wheel."

September 26, 2012

My Friend's Cute Cat Video Campaign For ModKo

My friend and filmmaker/colleague Gregory Kennedy has produced a fun cat video for the Internets. It's a promo for Modko, a company that has designed a very mod looking kitty litter box. But as smart as the box looks, the cats in this video (two of which I've "cat-sit" for before) are just adorable.  And there are more where this came from at the Modko website, where each cat type gets it's own video. My personal favorite? The Teenager! That cat (whose real name is Burt) has opened a few doors on my watch too. He is sexy, surly, and crafty....and very well-named.

September 25, 2012

Woman Needs iPhone 5 Now...But Not Sure Why

This is a real video of a woman who was sitting on line in New York last week waiting for a new iPhone 5. It seems that maybe she had been on the line a bit too long perhaps as she appears to be delirious, disorientated, almost brainwashed with a generic excitement about a phone she doesn't seem to know much about.  They are those who refer to the folks who go bonkers for the Apple hype as "drinking the Kool-Aid".  Well, this woman is not just chugging that stuff...she is apparently swimming in it.

As this video spreads virally, there have been some questions online about whether this woman was an actor or the whole thing was a comedy stunt/sketch. However, the guy who does these videos "Prime Time Sam Roberts" seems to specialize in finding real-life oddballs and drawing them out of their shell in ways that are bizarre and hilarious. Check out his video with a packing David Bowie from a recent ComicCon.

September 24, 2012

Sitcom Master Directs Michael Urie in PARTNERS

Tonight on CBS, the new sitcom PARTNERS debuts. It's from the creators of WILL AND GRACE and stars Michael Urie, who was in my second feature WTC VIEW (which he did right after graduating from Juilliard). It's about two best friends, one gay and one straight, who run an architecture firm and it's inspired by the real life friend between creators Max Mutchnick and David Kohan.

I found an interesting story on NPR today about the director of tonight's pilot episode, James Burrows. He's directed more than 50 TV pilots over the last 20 some years, starting with TAXI and including other hits like CHEERS, FRIENDS and THE BIG BANG THEORY.  He has an interesting theory about directing sitcoms too--he often does it with his eyes closed. Literally. He says it's more important to hear the show, like radio. Which I guess why NPR did a feature on him :)

September 21, 2012

An NYC Living Room With A View

This week, a suspended living room opened above Columbus Circle which enclosed the famous statue of the man who is credited with discovering America.  It's a truly wacky and inspired work of public art by a man named Tazu Nishi. Actually, that's not his real name...changing his name is also part of his odd work as a multmedia artist.

Tazu scouted a number of statues in NYC and almost picked the one of an angel in Central Park. But he liked that this one was up of the ground a bit, as opposed to other statues which didn't have much of a base. While the living room is nicely designed, what's really cool are the completely unobstructed views out the windows to the north (of Central Park West) and to the East (of Central Park South).

You can read more about him in a fun Times Q&A piece. And you can visit his living room box some 80 feet above the circle through November 18th.

September 19, 2012

Parker Posey Gives Lessons On Receiving Your Emmy

There's a great promo sketch up on YouTube for this year's Emmy Awards which features indie darling Parker Posey. Playing a character named Jan who now goes by JA.N (the video explains it all), she guides her students in an acting workshop through the rigorous process of awards acceptance.  LoL. Great Stuff!

September 18, 2012

Stand-Up Comedian Punks Fox News In Live Interview

With 50 days to go til the presidential election, I am growing weary of all the political talk on TV about the race.  So this clip brightened my day a bit.  A standup comedian named Max Rice somehow made it onto Fox News for a live interview segment where he was supposed to be a young man who voted for Obama in 2008 and has now switched to Romney.  Fox News had a script--that young voters were having second thoughts--and this guy fit this suit, as it were.  Problem was, though, he was just conning them to get on the air and make a few jokes.

Rice says that the producers at Fox News were so desperate to find someone to personify their narrative that they got him on the air, with little questions asked (at least beforehand). The interview is awkward and goofy and a nice little reminder to those out there at news organizations with an agenda about this election. My advice to Fox and all broadcasters for that matter is to report the news rather than trying to make it up.

September 14, 2012

Why Pop Music Is Getting Sad

A regular podcast I enjoy is Studio 360 from WNYC, with Kurt Andersen. It's a weekly show about all aspects of the arts from unusual angles. This week's episode had a story about why pop music is getting sad. Literally. Someone did an empirical study of pop songs over the last 40 years and, back in the 1960's, the vast majority of hit songs were in a major key and extremely upbeat tempo around 116 beats per minute.  Nowadays, the majority are in a minor key and the bpm's have dropped to around 100.

As part of the conversation, they dissect the "Barbie Girl" song (remember that one?!) from the 1997 as a key hit in this trend towards minor keys. There is even a discussion of Mozart in relation to all of this which was unexpected as well, along with a lively interview with Alice Cooper who laments the lack of major keys in pop music today. He seems like an unlikely champion of old school hit making but he makes his point strongly and eloquently for a rock star.  All in all a really cool piece of radio journalism that, afterwards, will have you listening to the radio in a different way.

September 13, 2012

HUNTING SEASON Is A Sexy New Web Series

Last night, I went to the premiere of a new web series that my friend Jon Marcus has produced/directed called HUNTING SEASON. Written by another filmmaker I know Adam Baran, it's based on the sexy blog from a few years ago "The Great Cock Hunt", which was a no-holds barred look at the life of a gay man in his 30s in NYC.  

I saw the first three episodes of HUNTING SEASON at a special screening at Bartini in midtown and it was so much fun!  It is also incredibly hot with a lot of full-on action that keeps things very interesting. But what is most interesting is that, afterwards, everyone was talking about the fact that this is unique in that it's essentially a TV show in which gay men have sex--a lot of it.  And that's pretty reflective of life for this certain set of gay guys living in New York City. Usually, when gays appear on network TV or even cable, they are rarely seen actually having sex (with the exception maybe of QUEER AS FOLK). As much as pop culture has changed in its depiction of The Gays, this seems to be the final frontier in some ways...and HUNTING SEASON is aiming to break that one wide open.

If you'd like to check it out, you can see the first three episodes as paid downloads on the show's website.  There is also an option to watch a censored version on Logo's website.  Though that could be a bit like watching SEX AND THE CITY in syndication. ;)  In fact, the show has one main SEX IN THE CITY parallel in that the lead character (the adorable Ben Baur, above) is a writer with a Carrie-esque voiceover.  But even the ladies on that risque show never got this down and dirty!  

September 12, 2012

NY Republican Votes For Marriage Equality And Battles For Reelection

Today's TIMES has an interesting story about a Republican state senator Roy Mcdonald who was one the key four votes in passing marriage equality in New York state last summer.  Now, he's up for reelection and his opponent is making his vote the number one issue in his reelection.  The question is, in economic hard times, will voters even care?  What I find even more interesting is that his opponent concedes that there is no way the state's law can be reversed or re-voted on either.  So it's a true case of water under the bridge but she has been relentless in her attacks on her opponent. And, obviously, the advent of gays getting married in the state has not brought about the apocalypse or the collapse of society so it seems like she doesn't have much of a case really.

Let's hope that the votes upstate can see this tactic for what it is...a desperate measure by a fringe candidate to get some attention. Roy Mcdonald won a lot of gay fans (and financial support for his campaign) with his common sense approach to an issue that all too often becomes conflated with things that are entirely irrelevant to it (i.e. the "threat" to "traditional" marriage).  I particularly love his quote in the article today below. I think we could really use more wise men, Republicans or Democrats, like Mr. Mcdonald serving in government today.
“I’m in the party of Abraham Lincoln — I’m very proud of that,” he said. “I’m not in a party of a bunch of right-wing nitwits. It’s Abraham Lincoln. It’s everybody’s included. And I feel that’s very important.”

September 11, 2012

A Year Of Progress At The World Trade Center Site

These are two photos I took of the new World Trade Center tower one year apart, on 9/11/11 and 9/11/12. It shows the remarkable progress that has been made with the new tower, which recently topped out at the 110th floor.

Meanwhile, other progress that is not as visible was announced just this week. The construction on the museum, which has been halted for a year due to a dispute between the Port Authority, the city, and the foundation building the museum will start up again after an agreement was reached regarding finances.

Though this year's commemoration of the attack is much more subdued than last years 10th anniversary, this news is the best way to honor the nearly 3,000 people who lost their lives that day. The museum, which will tell their story and the story of that fateful day, is now scheduled to open in 2014.

September 10, 2012

The 9/11 Memorial That Will Soon Be Homeless

One of the emblems of the original World Trade Center was the large modernist sculpture that sat at the center of the huge windswept plaza.  Called "The Sphere" it was made by the German scultptor Fritz Koenig and placed on the site in 1971.  Despite the collapse of the twin towers around it, it remained remarkably intact with some holes and dents to its bronze skin.  Six months after the attacks it was relocated to Battery Park where it remains today with an eternal flame burning at its base.

This weekend, the Times City Room blog ran a story about a group of volunteers who decided to clean the memorial as the 11th anniversary approaches. One of them, Michael Burke, lost a brother on 9/11 who was a NYC fireman. This fall, a massive renovation of Battery Park will displace The Sphere.  Unfortunately, it has nowhere to go. The 9/11 Mueeum doesn't want it for its collection and the 9/11 Memorial Commission does not want artifacts cluttering up the plaza.  There is a plan to place it in Liberty Park, a part of the Trade Center site development on Liberty Street, but that is not even due for completion until around 2014.

So until then, this remarkable piece of 9/11 history will probably have to go back into storage. It's really a shame the city or the Port Authority can't find a better way to take care of this monument and keep it in the public eye until the new park is ready.

September 7, 2012

Ira Sach's Film KEEP THE LIGHTS ON In Theaters This Weekend

I've posted here before about my friend Ira Sach's latest feature KEEP THE LIGHTS ON.  It had its New York debut at the Tribeca Film Festival earlier this year after screenings at Sundance and Berlin. Now the film is out in theaters this weekend and I urge you to check it out. It is one of the best American features of the year. And that's not just me talking....the New York TIMES agrees as well.

It's a love story between two men told over the course of 10 years.  It's intimate and intense and a deeply personal story as well.  And it's also revealing about the nature of intimacy and what happens when that gets tangled with addiction. Finally, it's a story about life in New York and, with its beautifully realistic look, has the feeling of a sharply witnessed documentary at times.

It's opening this weekend in NYC and LA so please check it out. And it will be at other theaters in major cities across the U.S. later this fall. Here's the trailer below to give you a taste of the film...

September 6, 2012

Zach Wahls Addresses The Democratic Convention

Over the last couple weeks, I've avoided posting much about the conventions, both Republican and Democratic (hough I was certainly tempted to post Clint Eastwood talking to an empty chair, that's for sure!). But I do want to draw your attention to the short but powerful speech of Zach Wahls. This is the young man from Iowa raised by two lesbian moms who turned out to be an Eagle scout, straight (!) and a remarkable young speaker.

I've posted about Zach before when he spoke at the GLAAD Awards here in New York. Now, with his debut speech at the Democratic Convention today, he really makes his point about the importance of family no matter what the definition of that is.  This is his first time speaking at a political convention and I doubt it will be the last.

September 5, 2012


One of my favorite all-time comedies is the indie flick WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER.  It was a little movie from the guys who did THE STATE on MTV which is a loving sendup of summer movies from the 80's, especially those of the camp genre.  It also happens to sport a surprising number of future stars too, including Amy Poehler, Paul Rudd and Bradley Cooper (playing it gay!).  I was fortunate enough to have caught this in its limited release in August 2001 and it brightened up what was a dreary dog day of summer. I've seen it a few times since and still find it amusing as there are som many weird little jokes going on that you always seem to catch something new.

While I'd heard the film was popular with a certain movie-mad crowd, I had no idea it had become something of a cult classic.  Paper magazine reports on the film's legendary status in an interesting article about how it morphed from an in-theatres flop to a DVD hit and now a midnight classic. The best thing in the article, though, is the news that there is a sequel of sorts in the works. Will Bradley Cooper and his white Izod join the fun?  I hope so.  And I really hope they can get it together for Summer '13.

September 4, 2012

Peter Pan Bakery Has Best Donuts In New York

One of the recurrent themes of my blog (and my life!) is donuts. So this weekend, I was out in Greenpoint and finally got a chance to visit the Peter Pan Bakery, which I had heard a lot about (and had even mentioned here before) but never made the trek out.  I can honestly say that these are easily the best donuts in New York City....yes, even better than the my local fave The Donut Pub.

They are truly kicking it old school at Peter Pan and you know it the minute you walk in the door. It smells heavenly and kinda like the 70s. That is, it smells like the 70's at the old Montgomery Donuts I used to frequent as a kid. Peter Pan has been in operation for decades and has a great zig-zag counter with stools too which looks pretty retro too. But what sets Peter Pan apart from say The Pub is a) the sheer variety of donuts (I counted about 20) and b) just a fresher crisper old-time donutty taste.  A favorite was the Apple Crumb donut which had a healthy dose of cinnamon crumbs piled on top.  There was also the basic chocolate ring that was awesome and a white cream filled creation that was delicious.

I would be there ever day if it weren't roughly 3 trains away from me in the city. But that is probably a good thing too.  Too many donuts=Homer Simpson.