aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Saturday, November 25, 2006
The purple South
I watched Thomas Schaller, author of Whistling Past Dixie: How Democrats Can Win Without the South, on the Nov. 22 Washington Journal last night (start at 46:25). I was unimpressed.
Netroots Democrats decry the culture of the DC political consultant and hold Schaller, who went to school in North Carolina, lives in DC and researched his book in five states (Ohio, Wisconsin, Montana, Colorado & Arizona - not a Southern state among them) in high esteem.
To me he comes off as a standard-issue consultant cum tactician ("politics is really economics...and you spend where you can win"). Is their real goal not to eliminate the consultants but rather to replace them with their own?
On Monday, Facing South wrote in Purple America, Purple South:
Note in particular the battleground of the South. There are the strong “red” or Republican patches running through such areas as northern Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia; the Georgia and north Florida coast; and southeast Kentucky.
But even more striking are the deep shades of blue, such as most of Arkansas and Tennessee; a belt slashing through the piedmont of Georgia, South Carolin and North Carolina (the South’s fastest-growing area); and Appalachian counties in the Virginias.
The concentrations of red in the South are on par with the swaths of scarlet one sees in the Midwest/Plains (Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma) and the upper West.
It’s amazing to see so many blogs in the Democratic Party camp writing off the South in an attempt to position themselves as “realistic,” when the reality of fierce party competition in the South couldn’t be more clear.
A year ago I read Mo Fiorina’s Culture War? The Myth of a Polarized America. He’s still speaking to me when he observes that “The simple truth is that there is no Culture War in the United States.”
As a nation we remain closely divided, not deeply divided. Schaller notwithstanding, that observation most emphatically includes the South.
Friday, November 24, 2006
6 new DMCA exemptions
The Copyright Office has created six new exemptions to the hated Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which makes it a crime to break any digital lock, even if you’re doing so for a legitimate purpose.
Every three years, the Copyright Office hears petitions for exemptions to this sweeping rule. This year, it created six exemptions, including one for film profs, another for gamers whose consoles have gone obsolete, blind people, and cell-phone recyclers.
However, the office refused to grant exemptions that would benefit the general public—space- and format-shifting, backing up your DVDs—and they took back an earlier exemption that let people reverse-engineer the blacklists maintained by censorware companies to bring some transparency to their process.
Sunstein on Marshall
The University of Chicago Law School chapter of the Black Law Students Association is holding a series of talks in honor of the 40th anniversary of Thurgood Marshall’s appointment to the Supreme Court.
All sound interesting; the first was outstanding. It was from Cass Sunstein who clerked for Marshall in the 1979-80 term. He concludes his 50 minute remarks by quoting a speech Marshall gave in 1987 commenting on the bicentennial celebration of the constitution:
I cannot accept this invitation [to speak at the founding], for I do not believe that the meaning of the Constitution was forever “fixed” at the Philadelphia Convention. Nor do I find the wisdom, foresight, and sense of justice exhibited by the Framers particularly profound. To the contrary, the government they devised was defective from the start, requiring several amendments, a civil war, and momentous social transformation to attain the system of constitutional government, and its respect for the individual freedoms and human rights, we hold as fundamental today. When contemporary Americans cite “The Constitution,” they invoke a concept that is vastly different from what the Framers barely began to construct two centuries ago. [...]
If we seek, instead, a sensitive understanding of the Constitution’s inherent defects, and its promising evolution through 200 years of history, the celebration of the “Miracle at Philadelphia” will, in my view, be a far more meaningful and humbling experience. We will see that the true miracle was not the birth of the Constitution, but its life, a life nurtured through two turbulent centuries of our own making, and a life embodying much good fortune that was not.
Thus, in this bicentennial year, we may not all participate in the festivities with flagwaving fervor. Some may more quietly commemorate the suffering, struggle, and sacrifice that has triumphed over much of what was wrong with the original document, and observe the anniversary with hopes not realized and promises not fulfilled. I plan to celebrate the bicentennial of the Constitution as a living document, including the Bill of Rights and the other amendments protecting individual freedoms and human rights.
Still enthralled by The Wisdom of Crowds, I recently waxed poetic on the brilliant system of nondemocratic checks and balances established by the Founding Fathers that had the effect of filtering up the emergent intelligence of the national crowd.
I’d better be careful! What was I thinking?
There may well be some truth to the notion that the obstacles to direct democracy had the unintended effect of facilitating some emergent intelligence, but the direct effects of legislative electoral compromises, as I was eloquently reminded while hearing then rereading Marshall’s words, were far more costly than we like to think.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
Take pity this Thanksgiving morn on those poor castmembers of Broadway musicals forced to lipsync and dance in the cold pelting rain as part of the Macy’s Parade festivities. The castmembers of A Chorus Line, their leotards offering scant protection the elements, going through the motions to canned music to an audience more intent on waving at the camera--this is the down side of show business no one ever talks about. I remember once walking on the Upper East Side when I came upon a group of actors in faux armor and leggings clapping coconuts together to promote the just-released movie version of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. As they passed, I heard one coconut-clonker say to another, “And to think I went to Julliard...”
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
The next 50 years
By 2020, computational power sufficient to simulate the human brain - about 10 million billion calculations per second - will be available for $1000. The software will take a decade longer, but we are making exponential gains in reverse engineering regions of the brain. As a result, by the late 2020s, the tool kit we use in artificial intelligence will include all the processes involved in human intelligence.
I have consistently predicted that by 2029 we will be able to create machines that pass the Turing test. The result will be a formidable combination, uniting the subtlety and suppleness of human intelligence with the ways in which machines are already superior - for example, in their ability to download knowledge at electronic speeds.
The combined intelligence of all human brains is relatively fixed at 1026 calculations per second. By 2056, our nonbiological intelligence will be a trillion times greater than this in terms of hardware, and will also be vastly superior in software due to many generations of redesign. But this will not be an alien invasion of intelligent machines: rather, we will merge with the tools we are creating.
Odious ineffective sex offender laws
Draconian sex offender laws (Georgia’s chief among them) are in the news today. From the Washington Post:
As states around the country have sought in recent years to control the whereabouts of convicted sex offenders, Georgia’s law stands out as one of the toughest, a testament to the daunting public fears regarding children’s safety.
The roughly 10,000 sex offenders living in Georgia have been forbidden to live within 1,000 feet of a school, playground, church or school bus stop. Taken together, the prohibitions place nearly all the homes in some counties off-limits—amounting, in a practical sense, to banishment.
The very next paragraph shows how ineffective they are. How do we solve our problem? Make it your problem:
“My intent personally is to make it so onerous on those that are convicted of these offenses . . . they will want to move to another state,” Georgia House Majority Leader Jerry Keen (R), who sponsored the bill, told reporters.
Yet another problem? Who it covers:
The residency law applies not only to sexual predators but to all people registered for sexual crimes, including men and women convicted of having underage consensual sex while in high school.
“Our concern is that these laws may give a false sense of security,” said Carolyn Atwell-Davis, director of legislative affairs for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. “We’re not aware of any evidence that residency restrictions have prevented a child from being victimized.”
And let’s remember, you can charge a man for cybersex “under this law even if he never goes to Georgia or writes to anyone there. All you have to do is meet him in a chat room, pose as an Atlanta teenager, and wait for him to say something gross.”
He don’t like Obama
I’ll be driving in excess of 90 miles today to get to Costco. On my way I’ll drive through Henry County, GA, home to Nicklaus Lovelady and the Henry Daily Herald.
I had never herd of My Lovelady or the Henry Daily Herald until in last week’s Top Story Mr. Lovelady blamed Barack Obama for his not getting the girl:
Two years ago I was a full-time newspaper reporter in Illinois covering Southern Illinois University Edwardsville…
The day Obama came, there was a huge press conference at the university’s student center with about 100 people inside the conference room and hundreds more viewing the conference on a big screen in the lobby.
Obama did his thing, and at the end there was segment for questions by the media.
After about five questions from different television and newspaper reporters, I stood up to ask mine.
“Wait a minute son, this is for professional media only,” Obama said to me.
“What do you mean? I work for the local paper,” I said with a crackling nervous voice.
“Oh, I’m sorry. I thought you were a college student. You have such a baby face,” he said with an unremorseful grin.
After that the young lady Lovelady was wooing was woefully gone. And Lovelady was left bereft and unforgiving:
I don’t like Sen. Barack Obama.
He might make a good president some day, but he won’t get my vote. At least not until he apologizes…
Until that time, Hillary or Giuliani will get my vote.
Ah, but Obama is one consummate politician. In a move one could never imagine from Hillary Clinton (but child’s play for Rudy) on this week’s Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! Lovelady got his way. (Hint: and it wasn’t the girl.)
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
He plays one on TV
In her piece purporting to ask, can gay actors play straight men? Sacha Zimmerman professes her undying love for now out - ”[I] am quite proud to say that I am a very content gay man living my life to the fullest” -
actor Neil Patrick Harris and his sitcom, How I Met Your Mother:
[N]ever did I expect to be so tickled by his portrayal of Barney on a silly sitcom.
And yet, tickled I am. While his sexy, female conquest is in the bathroom, Barney casually writes a goodbye note: “Dear Resident ...” He has a secret life in Atlantic City gambling with Chinese business men. He sets his friend up with a Star Wars-quoting hooker. He splurges on pedicures--the very epitome of metrosexuality. And he effortlessly turns double dates into threesomes: “Girls, bad news. Marshall got sick.” It’s utterly crude and inane, and Harris makes every moment worth it. That it turns out he is gay makes it doubly delicious, like Harris is throwing us all a wink: Watch how good I am! Because that gay dude plays one hell of a womanizer. If Hollywood studios recoil at the idea of putting an actor like Harris in a leading-man role, it is their loss. He seems tailor-made for a romantic comedy. Besides, if gay men can ogle Ledger and Gyllenhaal (or Brad Pitt or Patrick Dempsey), why can’t straights have crushes on gays (I love you, Rupert Everett!)?
Harris came out with finesse and a shrug. Maybe if other closeted actors did the same, we’d really find out what America thinks of gays playing it straight. If Harris is any indiction, America has no problem with it at all. “Mother“‘s ratings are strong, and there’s even an episode in the works featuring Wayne Brady as Harris’s biological black gay brother--seriously. That’s just not something I can resist. If Harris’s announcement does anything, maybe it will just serve to spotlight his quirky show and prove that Doogie’s got chops.
I saw Harris from sixth row seats play Tobias Ragg in the 2001 New York Philharmonic concert performance of Sweeney Todd at Lincoln Center. He was stupendous.
I’ve set my TiVo.
CBS on YouTube: building bridges not walls
PRESS RELEASE - One month after launching the CBS Brand Channel on YouTube, CBS’s daily feed of news, sports and entertainment clips have become some of the most widely viewed content on the site.
CBS has uploaded more than 300 clips that have a total of 29.2 million views on YouTube, averaging 857,000 views per day, since the service launched on October 18. CBS has three of the top 25 most viewed videos this month (Nov.1-17), including clips from CBS’s Tuesday night hit drama “NCIS,” “Late Show with David Letterman,” “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson” and “The Early Show.” The CBS Brand Channel is also one of the most subscribed channels of all time with more than 20,000 users subscribing to CBS programming on YouTube since the channel launch last month.
“Above all the other good news, what’s most exciting here is the extent to which CBS is learning about its audience as never before,” said Quincy Smith, President, CBS Interactive. “YouTube users are clearly being entertained by the CBS programming they’re watching as evidenced by the sheer number of video views. Professional content seeds YouTube and allows an open dialogue between established media players and a new set of viewers. We believe this inflection point is the precursor to many exciting developments as we continue to build bridges rather than construct walls.”
That’s great. But then what’s the deal with Comedy Central? It can only be a negotiating ploy. And I can only hope the ads we end up with are “click-to-play.”
I’m happy as can be to have the player all tarted up with ad text and logos; just please don’t force us to sit through video ads we don’t want.
A movement or a turd?
Fortune calls Newt Gingrich the ‘08 Stealth Candidate:
The radical realist who defied conventional wisdom 12 years ago by stealing the House out from under the noses of entrenched Democrats now plans a surprise attack for the presidency. “I’m going to tell you something, and whether or not it’s plausible given the world you come out of is your problem,” he tells Fortune. “I am not ‘running’ for president. I am seeking to create a movement to win the future by offering a series of solutions so compelling that if the American people say I have to be president, it will happen.” So he’s running, only without yet formally saying so.
Shelley Lewis, author of Naked Republicans: A full frontal Exposure of Rightwing Hypocrisy and Greed, wonders:
Wow. I’m picturing David Blaine, only chubbier, older and even more full of himself. So...if he’s not running, but he’s waiting for a sign that the American people want him to be president, what do we do, text message our votes, like on American Idol, or something?
I played tennis with Sam Walton
So brags Pat Boone. But Pat’s now feeling dissed by the folks at Wal-Mart:
I read yesterday that this venerable company, the international outgrowth of Mr. Sam's personal vision, has agreed to automatically donate 5 percent of online sales directly to the Washington, D.C., community center for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people! The cash donation will come from online purchases made at Wal-Mart through the homosexual group's website. Every purchase made online for books, music, videos, clothing and accessories, children's clothing and toys, and electronics will automatically send 5 percent of the sales to the CCBLBT organization.
Pat’s thrown his support behind the AFA drive to sign up 1,000,000 families to boycott WalMart; good luck Pat. I smell a Democratic opportunity.
My views have softened some on Walmart as the market has moved the merchandiser my way. And I’ve learned that much as I may bemoan their business practices, you just can’t fight the economics of their low prices.
Now that’s what Pat and the AFA are up against. So while they busy themselves with their fruitless boycott, I’d like to see us pick up some Walmart voters.
THE VERY NEXT DAY: AFA declares victory (as does HRC, gays still get $$$) and ends the boycott.
I’m not a racist
Now, who among us thinks s/he is? We can’t know, can we? It’s so much easier to identify racism in others. But what’s worrisome is that which we don’t see; that which we can’t see.
This was made clear to me by a story Malcolm Gladwell told in his 2005 South by Southwest keynote address. In it Gladwell recounts this story from the book…
It seems the great conductors of the world once innocently believed that men were innately better musicians than women and orchestras were male bastions. When one day, through a set of fortuitous circumstances, a male maestro auditioned a woman he thought was a man (she auditioned from behind a screen) he hired her. And when screens were broadly adopted it became clear to everyone that women were every bit as talented musicians as men.
What once was “obvious,” that men were better musicians, is now obviously not.
His story is to illustrate the power and peril of subliminal snap judgments. Says Gladwell:
[48:38] There are certain things about somebody that all of us are really really good at knowing right away, and certain things that we may think we’re good at knowing that we are profoundly not…
Sexual attractiveness, you can do like that…
When we have real experience with something we are good at making profoundly good snap judgments, but in almost every other situation where we do not have that level of expertise our snap judgments are bad. And as a society I feel we are way too cavalier about the products of our snap judgments.
After his talk, during the questions, Gladwell made this observation that I have seen made no place else:
[50:29] I have become convinced since writing this book that juries should never be able to see the defendants in a jury trial; that that is just crazy. Why? Because the kind of snap judgments a jury is likely to make about a defendant from seeing the defendant are all irrelevant…
Every year someone stands up and points out that there are huge differentials in the conviction rates and sentences for blacks and whites convicted of the same crime. And yet we make that observation and kind of shrug and say, “Well, that’s America.”
We don’t have to live with that. Why don’t we do something about it?
I would bet every dollar I own that if we put the defendant in a backroom and had the defendant answer all questions by email that the gap between black and white defendants, the sentences and conviction rates would shrink.
I absolutely believe that.
I do too.
NOTE: This post’s title is a quote from Richards’ apology.
Global Orgasm Day
Uh, on December 22 I’ll be sleeping at my parent’s house:
The mission of the Global Orgasm is to effect change in the energy field of the Earth through input of the largest possible surge of human energy. Now that there are two more US fleets heading for the Persian Gulf with anti- submarine equipment that can only be for use against Iran, the time to change Earth’s energy is NOW! Read more about the fleet buildup here.
The intent is that the participants concentrate any thoughts during and after orgasm on peace. The combination of high- energy orgasmic energy combined with mindful intention may have a much greater effect than previous mass meditations and prayers.
The goal is to add so much concentrated and high-energy positive input into the energy field of the Earth that it will reduce the current dangerous levels of aggression and violence throughout the world.
Global Orgasm is an experiment open to everyone in the world.
We hope the results will register on the worldwide monitor system of the Global Consciousness Project.
This is the First Annual Solstice Synchronized Global Orgasm for Peace, leading up to the December Solstice of 2012, when the Mayan Calendar ends with a new beginning.
Monday, November 20, 2006
Stop looking South!
SEE ALSO: Race here.
[T]he fact that the only two Democrats who almost lost House seats despite the blue wave--which means we had to waste resources on defense rather than spending it on offense--were in Georgia
As far as the money’s concerned, there wasn’t enough of it and it wasn’t wasted. Those seats had been gerrymandered to death and George Bush himself made multiple highly visible visits here.
Winning big could have been a proud Democratic exclamation point on the blue wave. As it was, we had nearly the only incumbent Democrat loss in the nation.
Yes, you can win without the South. But much of the reveling in that fact looks to me like stereotypical Southern bashing that’s unbecoming of any party I want to belong to.
As the flowers fell, the couple enjoyed a rather excruciating three-minute kiss - stopping only after embarrassed guests begged them to.
Some are suspicious:
[T]his wedding was the media trying to convince people Cruise is a heterosexual man who got his new “wife” pregnant, and it just seems phony. Katie Holmes, who’s had a reasonable career, seems to have been cast in the role of young wife, not someone he actually fell in love with.
I don’t think so. I’m just saying:
In a culture that allows gay people room to be gay people, there is no need for lies. In a culture that does not...lies are rampant. And that’s unfortunate, not simply for the person in question, but for all the people in his or her life.
I have yet to see the movie - I’ve seen some of the offending clips on YouTube - but I am inclined to sympathize with the unsuspecting victims. I hope they win their cases but a look at the release they signed suggests it’s a long-shot.
Sunday, November 19, 2006
Renewed war over ‘dont ask, don’t tell’
The inflammatory headline courtesy of Newsweek:
With the Democrats in control of Congress, some activists are hoping they’ll add a controversial issue to their to-do list: revisiting the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on gays in the military. Gay servicemembers have sought a policy change for years. Now, says Steve Ralls, spokesman for the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, gay vets hope they might make some progress at a time when the military can’t afford to turn away the willing and able. Last year the Pentagon discharged 742 service members for homosexuality, according to SLDN.
But making a change won’t be easy: gay-rights advocates have seen a troubling signal from the Pentagon. Massachusetts Rep. Martin Meehan and the American Psychiatric Association complained last June when they learned the military’s disability policy classified homosexuality as a mental disorder-something the APA stopped doing in 1973. Then the Pentagon quietly reclassified it in July. Last week Meehan and the APA complained once more: homosexuality has now been grouped with other “conditions, circumstances and defects” like bed-wetting, repeated venereal-disease infections and obesity. The reclassification is “even worse,” says Aaron Belkin, who studies gays in the military at the University of California, Santa Barbara. “Now [homosexuality] is explicitly deemed to be a defect.” Pentagon spokeswoman Cynthia Smith says the Defense Department does “not think homosexuality is a mental illness” and says the classification could be re-examined.
Newsweek concludes, “there is still a long war ahead.” Relative to the centuries we’ve been fighting this prejudice, I don’t expect it will be long at all.
Saturday, November 18, 2006
I hope I never get there, but if I do, here’s one man’s tale of how to free up space in GMail:
You’d think almost 3 gigabytes would be more than enough space to store your email, but for the last two weeks my Gmail account has hovered ominously above 95% of the allowed storage quota. When it finally peaked at 98% (2725 MB of 2780 MB), I had to do something.
However, forwarding all those messages by hand or downloading 2.7 gigabytes of mail were out of the question. I simply had to start hitting that delete button. Using a few effective filters that helped determine what I could safely delete, I took my Gmail account from 98% of quota down to 67% of quota without losing one important message. Here’s how I did it. READ ON
LATER: Bob Cringley builds a video server for his minivan, and comments on Zune, “THIS Zune is a placeholder meant to start the clock ticking at best. Two Zunes from now is when the game really begins.”
An Ambridge Area School Board member’s derogatory remark, made during a public meeting last week and in reference to a new gay and lesbian extracurricular club, had several residents calling for his resignation Wednesday night.
Mary Jo Kehoe of Economy told the board Wednesday she couldn’t believe her ears so she jotted down what Ambridge School Board Vice President William Scherfel said when he referred to the high school’s new Gay-Straight Alliance group as a “sex club” during a Nov. 8 work session. She said when two board members tried to correct Scherfel’s politically-incorrect blunder by telling him the club’s formal name, Scherfel replied, “OK, the faggots.” [...]
Scherfel didn’t deny he used “the F-word,” but blamed the controversy on politics.
After Jim Best of Economy told Scherfel he was “damaged goods” and that he should no longer sit on the board, Scherfel said he would not resign. He would have to be voted off the board.
Friday, November 17, 2006
Blond Bond: a hunk not a babe!
They said Daniel CraigÃ‚’s ears stuck out. They called him Mr. Potato Head. They jeered when, traveling by motorboat to meet the press, he wore a life preserver over his suit. They spread the rumor that he didnÃ‚’t know how to drive a stick shift.
But now even the meanest-spirited, most Sean Connery-nostalgic critics in Britain seem to have been charmed out of their bad attitudes by Mr. CraigÃ‚’s performance as a gritty, steely James Bond in the latest Bond film, Ã‚"Casino Royale.Ã‚” Contrary to their predictions, they say, the 38-year-old Mr. Craig is not too blond, too wimpy, too dough-faced or too lightweight for the part.
And a vision in blue:
He proves his fitness for naval and other duties to fine advantage in an erotic (or homoerotic; take your pick) scene in which he emerges from the water in a sky-blue bathing suit that manages to be sexily short and tight without venturing into embarrassing Speedo-land.
The scene brings to mind Ursula AndressÃ‚’s famous bikini moment in Ã‚"Dr. No,Ã‚” the first Bond film, except that this time the sex object is a hunk, not a babe. Barely able to contain himself as he described it in The Guardian, Paul Flynn said he found the scene Ã‚"so scorchingly hot I feel embarrassed watching it, even when alone.Ã‚”
Here‘s the Guardian piece.
Tango saga continues
A picture book about two male penguins raising a baby penguin is getting a chilly reception among some parents who worry about the book’s availability to children _ and the reluctance of school administrators to restrict access to it.
The concerns are the latest involving “And Tango Makes Three,” the illustrated children’s book based on a true story of two male penguins in New York City’s Central Park Zoo that adopted a fertilized egg and raised the chick as their own.
Complaining about the book’s homosexual undertones, some parents of Shiloh Elementary School students believe the book _ available to be checked out of the school’s library in this 11,000-resident town 20 miles east of St. Louis _ tackles topics their children aren’t ready to handle.
Their request: Move the book to the library’s regular shelves and restrict it to a section for mature issues, perhaps even requiring parental permission before a child can check it out.
You’ve got to love this:
Lilly Del Pinto thought the book looked charming when her 5-year-old daughter brought it home in September. Del Pinto said she was halfway through reading it to her daughter “when the zookeeper said the two penguins must be in love.”
“That’s when I ended the story,” she said.
That’s exactly right Lilly, we can’t have that now can we?!?!?!? Not love!!! Especially in a true story about nature no less.
Give me a break…
NOTE: The cute little penguin in the picture has nothing to do with this story. It was the best penguin picture I had and it came from the ridiculous but fun story from early last year of the penguins put through airport screening devices at Denver International Airport.
LATER: Another report from the St. Louis Dispatch on Sunday.
Casino Royale: Bond stripped bare
Blockbusters make it here; maybe I’ll go tonight:
In Martin Campbell’s blissfully entertaining “Casino Royale,” the 21st picture in the 007 franchise, Craig is Bond reinvented and reborn, a creature so unexpectedly distinctive that even though we all think we know what we want in a Bond, we could never have dreamed this one up. He’s not what we think of as the classic Bond type: His body isn’t a tuxedo-ready balanced equation but a wedge of muscle that demands clever tailoring. His profile, with its coulda been a contender nose, is so strong and beautiful it wouldn’t be out of place on a Greek amphora—yet his ears, jutting out with boyish awkwardness, look more like the handles. But his charisma both overrides and enhances any physical attributes. Emerging from the sea after a swim with his lady love, he’s a scrappy blond god in tiny blue swim shorts; the moment is a clear visual nod to Ursula Andress in “Dr. No,” but also an unwitting reference to Venus on the half shell. This is Bond as we’ve never seen him, more naked, alive and mysterious than ever.
“Casino Royale” is almost everything you want in a Bond movie, as well as everything you didn’t know you wanted. Campbell has directed one other Bond picture, the 1995 “GoldenEye.” But “Casino Royale,” at least in terms of its action sequences, takes more of its cues from Campbell’s two terrific Saturday-afternoon swashbucklers, “The Mask of Zorro” and “The Legend of Zorro.” Over the past 20 years or so, the Bond movies have become increasingly encumbered by big explosions and noisy effects, at the expense of clever stunts and, often, wit. But Campbell brings to “Casino Royale” a clear love and respect for pure action: There are a few explosions here and there, but the action sequences really dominate. And if this is one of the darkest Bond movies ever made—we’re meeting Bond near the beginning of his career, just after he’s been promoted to double-0 status, and he’s clearly having trouble putting his thuggish instincts to use in international espionage—it’s also one of the funniest. (This is a Bond picture in which 007 can joke about chocolate, as well as martinis.) The picture’s violence is at times brutal, but it always has the appropriate weight: It’s neither frivolous nor excessively heavy-spirited. READ ON
Me & the gayby boom
When the notion of adoption comes up in our house, I balk. This, from a major article coming this weekend (link when it’s available) in the NYTimes’ Magazine, is more my style:
R. had always loved being around kids, particularly his niece and nephew, whom he saw often. But like many gay men, R. never thought of himself as a likely candidate for fatherhood. He always felt that parents opting to raise a child alone were choosing a rocky road, and at the time, R. himself had no long-term partner. He did, however, have an ex-boyfriend who had started a donor relationship with two lesbians; it seemed to be going well. He quickly became taken with the idea. Having a child of his own, he thought, would mean creating a relationship more intense and involved than what he had with his siblings’ children. “I guess I felt that maybe I wanted to have some kind of more lasting relationships in my life,” he said. “I said I was interested.Ã¢â‚¬Â�
And thus began a series of conversations. R. made it very clear that he had no ambition to be a primary parent and that he was happy to renounce his parental rights. (The latter is crucial to many lesbian couples, allowing the nonbiological mother to adopt and protecting her bond with the child in the event of the death of, or separation from, the biological mother.) Nevertheless, R. saw himself playing a significant role in the child’s life. “I saw myself holding a baby,” he said. “I wanted a child to be part of my life. I wanted to have a relationship with somebody that was in some sense unconditional, that wasn’t subject to the fading whims of friendships. And I don’t think it’s because I was not finding commitment somewhere else. I wanted to develop a relationship where I was nurturing somebody in a consistent way. I wanted to show up and be part of a child’s life in a significant way.”
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Almost enough to make me put my old TiVo decal on the new car:
Like a brutal child irretrievably mashing together differently-colored chunks of playdough, TiVo’s forthcoming amalgamation of online and offline media is the boost they needed to get me interested in paying for a DVR subscription. Facing up to competition from cable and dish providers at one end and from the likes of Microsoft and Apple at the other, TiVo will now offer web video podcasts sourced from both major networks and subscribers.
The video is free of the DRM yoke and requires the $25 Plus codec pack for TiVo’s Desktop media management interface. Deals with CBS Interactive, Reuters and Forbes have already been struck, meaning that TV and news will be among the first available content bridging these companies’ websites and your DVR.
The podcasting service, TiVoCast, will include a sharing mechanism to allows subscribers to set up “private channels,” distributing their own content to friends and family. Best of all, TiVo will provide show recommendations from celebrities: a feature against which the rest of the slate simply fades into insignificance.
Sounds good, but Endgadget’s hands-on likes the partners more than the sharing:
TiVo has teamed up with One True Media to allow people to upload and edit their movies online, and then share them via TiVoCast with a special code given to friends and family with Series2 setups. Not quite the sort of TiVoCasting freedom we would hope for, but it might prove to be a welcome feature to Joe Consumer.