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Archive for January, 2007

There was an apartment fire in a complex about half a mile from my house last night. 10 families were burned out of their homes, and according to the Red Cross none of them have renters’ insurance.

At the risk of looking like I’m blaming the victim I have to implore all apartment dwellers everywhere to get renters’ insurance. For no more than the cost of a delivered pizza each month you can have the peace of mind of knowing that if your idiot neighbor in 12-B uses a space heater with frayed wiring you yourself will not be destitute.

I lived in an apartment for 9 years. I know that sometimes that $10-$20 a month can be hard to find, but I promise you’ll sleep better knowing you’ve got it.

And no, I don’t work for an insurance company.

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There is probably no reason for me to have any sort of opinion on the whole Isaiah Washington thing. I’ve really tried to avoid having an opinion–other than “Look! Celebrity Gossip!”–because it’s not something I’m necessarily qualified to talk about. I have no firsthand knowledge of the pain of being black or gay.

But, man, apparently we’re ALL supposed to have an opinion, and that opinion had just better be the Right One. Imagine my surprise to open my Entertainment Weekly, only to have them devote their entire back page column to the “issue”. Granted, since the first of the year that back page space has become EW’s “blog-in-print”, with different writers contributing blogworthy entries either funny or screedy. So I shouldn’t be too surprised by the screedy from editor at large Mark Harris, who seems to think that Washington’s use of the f-epithet is a watershed moment in the politics of Gay Hollywood. Excuse me if I disagree. I think that namecalling is childish, immature and rude. Which is exactly the type of behaviour one would expect from people who choose to pretend to be other people for a living.

Let’s look at part of what Harris has to say, shall we?

I’m sorry that the first time this happened, Shonda Rhimes, whose commitment to on-air diversity is evident (even if the evidence stops short of including an actual gay staffer at Seattle Grace), thought it was okay to write this off as a private affair rather than immediately let the many offended fans of her show know how hateful she thought that epithet was.

No, there’s not an openly gay doctor (yet) on the staff of Seattle Grace. But this indictment of the show’s lack of gayversity is hardly a fair assesment. In the pilot episode Rhimes and her writers treat a presumption of George’s gayness (the actor is gay, the character isn’t) as a no-big-deal aside. Joe, the bartender at the Emerald City Bar is openly gay, and we’ve seen at least three episodes with him and his partner. He’s not a main character, but he is as strong a secondary character as Meredith’s parents, Denny Duquette and Callie Torres.

As far as Rhimes scolding Washington in public, I would have followed the same tack. Yes, name-calling is offensive. But it was a private moment behind the scenes on the show that leaked out. I imagine Rhimes’ first thought was to try to keep the thing in-house as much as possible.

I’m sorry that T.R. Knight, the target of Washington’s slur who came out following the incident, didn’t have the instant, unqualified, and loudly public (because that matters) support of every one of his colleagues.

Again, I think Rhimes was trying to keep this in-house and deal with it discreetly. Who knows what transpired between cast members? Of course, now that this is the official Issue That Will Not Die, other cast members are rallying around Knight.

‘m sorry that the overall non-reaction to Washington’s behavior helped to reinforce a perception that some quarters of the African-American community tolerate homophobia, a stereotype that is only going to divide us more unless both groups fight it at every turn.

How stereotypical is it of Harris (an openly gay man) to broaden the responsibility for Washington’s actions onto The Black Community at large? Honestly, Isaiah Washington is one man. He is NOT The Voice Of All Black Men Everywhere. Frankly, to me Harris’ statement here is far more ‘us-v-them’ than anything coming out of the Rhimes-Washington camp. In fact, I’d wager that many white, straight readers have no idea about the grudge match between the Gays and the Blacks that prominent gays have been pushing for awhile now. Okay, prominent blacks, too, if you count Oprah. She keeps doing shows about The Down Low, albeit from a YOUR BLACK HUSBAND MAY BE GAY!!!! scare-quote stance.

I’m sorry that it took ABC half the TV season to remind itself of its corporate responsibility.

Wha?? You want the network of Big Brother Two and A Half Men to be corporately responsible? Aren’t you cute?!?!

**What is my problem? Why do I think all of CBS’ stupid shows are on ABC? Good grief. Both networks appear to have a problem with branding. Anyway, I DO hold ABC responsible for the stupidity of cancelling Invasion, so there.

I’m sorry that not a single sponsor of Grey’s Anatomy had the guts to speak up, even last week.

I imagine that, like me, these people just want the whole issue to be handled quietly and with decorum. Most corporations are culturally different from entertainment magazines. They exist to make cars and trucks and soaps and frozen dinners that they intend to sell to lots and lots of people. They aren’t bound to get in high lather over actors (whom many people consider to be an odd breed anyway) acting like doofi. I really don’t see anyone at Ford saying “That man called another man a NAME. We must stop advertising on one of the top-rated shows on TV because of this namecalling!”

I’m sorry that we in the gay community didn’t make a lot more noise about this a lot sooner.

You ARE kidding me, right? Because although I’m not gay, I do have at least one foot in the gay community and I’ve heard nothing but sound and fury from TGC over this since day one. Except from my brother who seemed to think the whole thing was kinda funny.

I’m sorry that so many actors choose — and it is, whatever they tell themselves, a self-serving choice — to stay in the closet, since the more out actors there are, the less okay homophobia in entertainment becomes.

And here’s where I just got so mad at Harris that I could spit nails. Blame the libertarian in me if you must, but I absolutely hate the pro-outing attitude that exists in a large part of the Gay Community. It’s not that I want all gay people to stay in the closet, but the attitude of Harris and other high-level gays is galling. They are in New York and California. I’ve lived in Tennessee and Indiana. Being openly gay is still a career-killer for an awful lot of people. It’s very easy to declare Coming Out a necessity when you are cosseted in the bosom of one of the few gay-friendly employment cultures in the country. For many gay people, Coming Out is a minefield that can rob them of their family, their church family and any chance of making Vice President at the bank where they work. And as much as outsiders view acting as a gay-friendly career it ISN’T. The aforementioned sponsors who pay to make TV shows and movies are not dirty hippies wearing Dead T-shirts and patchouli. They are staid businessmen who don’t want to alienate the soap, car and frozen-dinner buyers out in the world. The few prominent gay actors had to wait to achieve prominence before they came out. The only gay tv show allowed to be on the air for more than a season–Will & Grace–was an offensive minstrel show with numerous straight actors in gay-face. It is not fair for Harris to insist that others risk their livelihoods and home lives in order to make a Grand Statement.

Yes, staying closeted is a “self-serving” choice. So what? Is Harris going to pay the bills of out actors who can no longer get work as some sort of thank-you? I didn’t think so.

Anyone who calls a colleague a faggot and manages not to get fired should count himself lucky.

Really? Is that what we’re about now? Firing people for their speech? Most corporations I know of insist on diversity training as a response to this type of action. Historically witch-hunts have never proven successful in the long term.

But really, I’m neither black nor gay. I’m just a woman who has been called a fat cow, four eyes, railroad tracks, bitch, cooze, whore, Aunt Jemima, dyke, faghag, kikelover, idiot, stupid, bible-thumper, jesus-freak, moron, titsy mcboobsalot and cunt. And I’ve lived with my head held high inspite of it all, moved on and never demanded that anyone be fired.

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A few days ago, Slarti pointed out that some of my diet tips were straight out of the Weigh Down Workshop. I feel bad about that, because I didn’t mean to lead anyone astray. I’ve been thinking about it for several days now, and need to set the record straight. Now seems like a good time, for reasons that may become clear later.

I first participated in Weigh Down somewhere between 1997 and 1999. (Years bleed together after awhile.) I bought the book and read it and loved the idea behind it. Surely Jesus would love it if I were skinny! While parts of the book seemed a little bit insane, I overlooked the Crazy in favour of the nuggets of weight loss wisdom. One piece of Crazy has stuck with me for years, however. In the book, Shamblin claims that she is so in touch with The Holy Spirit that she needs never to set an alarm clock. Jesus wakes her up whenever she needs to be out of bed. Hallelujah.

That kind of thinking has always bothered me. Yes, Jesus loves us and provides for us, but he also gives us things like electricity and batteries and stores which sell alarm clocks for a purpose. Pray to God but row for shore, brothers.

In the fall of 2000 I began working for a division of Thomas Nelson publishers–the original publishers of the Weigh Down Diet book. They dropped Shamblin as an author when she denied the Trinity. I began to wonder if perhaps Jesus had gotten her up too early on a few days, leading to sleep depravation and a resultant case of mild insanity. But I didn’t really care about her one way or another.

Then I began to work with a woman I’ll call Noel. This lady is perhaps the sweetest and kindest co-worker I’ve ever had. She was also overweight. For years she had worked as Gwen’s assistant but then was fired in part because she was overweight. Granted I have only the word of Noel and other coworkers for this, but the several times I’ve called Remnant Fellowship for clarification, calls were not returned. Now, I can understand a diet peddler wanting, unlike Caeser, to surround herself with men and women who are lean. But for Shamblin, ostensibly a Christian who taught that God loves all people fat or thin, to fire a woman because of her weight was a travesty. Surely if she truly cared for Noel as a human being–and if her diet truly worked–Shamblin would have taken Noel under her wing and worked with her as together they pursued thinness through Jesus. But no. Shamblin was more concerned with book sales and the building of her Remnant Fellowship.

I often drive past Remnant when I take a scenic route into Franklin. It’s a not-cheap building on a highly-valuable piece of land. I always wonder at this–at churches who purport to do the work of God yet see fit to spend money on earthly treasures. I suppose they expect to pay for part of the church with proceeds from their lawsuit against Rafael Martinez for libel. In addition to suing Martinez, they are also suing an anonymous blogger.

I can’t help but wonder if Jesus does have a special hotline to Shamblin. I mean, he’s told the rest of Christians to not sue other Christians. Apparently he’s told Shamblin that it’s okay to proceed otherwise.

I liked her better when she was just telling me to take half my restaurant meal home in a box.

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Oh, HBO. I remember back when you were the It Girl at all the dances. Your original movies had pizazz and verve and daring. Your series were all cutting-edge. Lately, though, I’m questioning your judgment.

The last Original Movie I remember seeing & loving on your channel was Lackawanna Blues. I think that was more than a year ago. Of course, you also produced Something The Lord Made recently, so I’ll give you some slack. Some. Not a lot.

But that’s beside the point. We aren’t here to talk about your original movies. We’re here to talk about your Series.

I will always love you for greenlighting, producing and airing all five planned seasons of The Wire. That does give you a small amount of a pass with me. That ‘pass’ however, isn’t going to cover the fact that you seem bound and determined to kill outright any other series of quality, while replacing them with utter krep.

Carnivale
This, like Babylon 5 and The Wire was a planned TeleNovel, originally designed to run for six seasons. Seasons 1&2 were Book 1. You axed seasons 3, 4, 5 & 6–leaving fans hanging without an end to their mythology. And without Michael T. Anderson’s brilliant portrayal of Sampson, who has now officialy become one of my all-time favourite television characers. Right up there with Omar.

Rome
Given the success of The Sopranos, it was almost a no-brainer to dramatise the original Italian Crime Families, the birth of vendettas and the rich history of that period. So why did you limit this to two seasons? As it was, Rome could have gone on indefinitely. Sure, we can all be easily spoiled by dialling up Wikipedia and Edward Gibbon, but so what? We love Pullo and Vorenus. I would watch Pullo read the Roman Phone Book. If they had phones back then. But whatever. You’re jerks for cancelling this show. In fact, if I didn’t have one more season of The Wire coming, I’d cancel your channel in retaliation.

Deadwood
I haven’t watched this yet, but I have it on good authority that I will like it if I can get past the swearing. Of course, I think I can. We’ll see. Discs one and two of season one are expected in my mailbox later today. Given my luck I’ll love it, now that it has officially been cancelled.

Big Love
This show inspired this rant. The first six episodes are now on OnDemand. I watched three of them. What an awful show. I hate knowing that show slots and budgets that could be going to Carnivale or Rome are instead being poured down the sewage sluice of this piece of trash. My objection has nothing to do with the “lighter side of polygyny” angle, and everything to do with the flat stories, irritating characters and complete misuse of large chunks of the Veronica Mars cast. I also don’t know why the powers-that-be think it’d be a huge treat for me to see Bill Paxton’s naked backside at least once every episode. Ugh. I can’t stand this program.

So there you have it, HBO. Please get your act together. At least pony up some Carnivale miniserieses. What is the plural of miniseries, anyway?

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It seems as though yet another person has decided I am not married. I cannot be married. I will never be married. This, of course, surprises my husband, my extended family and the roughly 300 other people who attended our wedding. I think it would also surprise the State of Indiana, which so kindly provided us with a marriage license. I know it surprises the four women who had to pay money for a burgundy dress made by the most difficult and rude seamstress in the world.

Alas, sadly, marriage is for procreation. This would seem to me to mean that you can’t be married unless you have children.

When I was a kid I would often make it through the more boring parts of church by reading the more thrilling parts of the Bible. (Hey, it’s the Bible! Who’s gonna yell at you for reading the BIBLE in church? ) Genesis is far better than most movies and television shows. I was eight when I stumbled across the story of Lot’s incest with his daughters. Boy, was that more interesting than the Offeratory! So I had this childhood steeped in those Old Testament stories, and soon enough my biggest fear became barrenness. In the stories of the OT a woman’s only true currency seems to be as a vessel for offspring. Babies are better than any type of wealth or intelligence. A baby was the only thing standing between a woman and poverty, starvation and death. Tamar was so desperate to secure her place in Judah’s household with a child that she dressed as a whore, seduced her father-in-law Judah and became pregnant with his child. Babies were a big deal, and barrenness was worse than blindness. So of course I feared barrenness and of course–lo and behold–I’m as barren as the high desert. My womb may as well be a steel bowl for all the good it does me.

As I’ve grown older I’ve realised that despite society, God loves and values barren women. But it still ticks me off greatly when some politician or armchair wannabe politico blogger announces that they’re in step with that fertile crescent bigotry. That they’ve determined me unworthy of marriage, ready for the ice floe of modern society to carry babyless me out of their sight.

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There are several films now out on DVD that I missed in the theatre for one reason or another. Either I was too cheap, too busy or too disinterested to make the trip to the multiplex. Now that it’s January and there’s nothing on TV, I’ve gotten fairly well caught up on last year’s videos, and this week I’m going to review each one of them. Too little, too late, I’m sure. Spoilers will be included.

Miami Vice

Did you ever rent a two-disc DVD and put the second disc in first by accident? If it hadn’t been for the credits across the opening scene and the fact that there was only one disc for this movie, I would swear that’s what I did here. I even looked over at Tim and said “did they just kind of pick up in the middle of the story?” The movie just kinda drops you right in the middle of the action, and you spend the first 15 or 20 minutes trying to figure out who’s who and what they’re doing. It doesn’t help that several characters introduced in those first few minutes never show up again. Weird movie.

There was much oddness in this picture, but by far the strangest thing was the casting. I was addicted to the TV series when I was a kid. Don Johnston ans Crockett was pure distilled hotness. Laugh if you must but that guy exuded sex appeal all over the place. The Colin Farrell version was a skeevy long-haired dude who looked like his idea of a hot date was a Monster Truck Rally followed by some meth-brewin’. Not sexy. Then we have the problem of poor Jamie Foxx. Tubbs was a thankless character on the TV show. Nothing has changed here. In fact, I’m not quite sure why Tubbs was in this movie, other than to serve as the Cop Whose Girlfriend Is In Jeopardy. It’ll be years before Jamie Foxx is anything other than Ray Charles to me. Sorry, Jamie. Actually I’m more sorry that you don’t have better roles offered to you. Tubbs was a waste of space.

Oh, and might I add that he’s also an idiot?

Let me explain something to all of you, even though you will most likely never find yourselves in this situation.

Say your loved one is in a trailer with a giant bomb consisting of big barrells of explosives tied to C-4 and sticks of dynamite. You and the rest of your merry band of maybe-they’re-cops-we’re-not-sure-because-the-movie-had-a-lousy-first-act storm the trailer, kill the bad guy holding the detonator and wipe out his thugcrew. While I realise that you and your loved-one have a very good reason to be both upset and relieved, it is still a good idea to leave the trailer. Do not tell your loved-one to wait in the trailer right next to the bomb. [Yeah. Three guesses what happened THERE.]

On the upside, I have to say that I absolutely loved the soundtrack to the movie, and will probably end up getting it on iTunes one of these days. The songs were very mood-driven and lush in a techno way. Even though they didn’t have the original show theme. (?!?)

All in all, I’d have to say that I can’t recommend the film, but I do think the album is worth $13.95.

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At Christmastime I was watching my sister unwrap her teacher gifts from all of her students. There were plenty of lotions and soaps and candles. A few parents gave gift certificates to malls or restaurants and there were the obligatory Christmas doodads. Teachers are magnets for the “Under $15″ gift.

In the middle of the piles of holiday-wrapped goodies there was one stinky plastic grocery bag. It reeked of cigarette smoke and the musty odor of unwashed people crammed in an unaired apartment. Inside was an old spiral notebook with several pages torn out. The other pages were covered in crayon scribbles. A few dirty and dull crayons were also in the bag, along with one chewed and weary #2 pencil. The accompanying note said, in a kindergartner’s handwriting something we assumed meant ‘Merry Christmas from Justine*’.

That was the best Christmas present my sister has ever gotten from a student. That little girl gave her everything she had. She gave a precious book of drawings and her last few crayons, I’m sure.

I just got off the phone with my sister. Yesterday was the 100th day of school, and they always do a ream (which is actually a 1000, but whatever) of activities to drive home the point of “100” and teach the value of that number. One of the activities involved asking the kids what they’d do with $100. Most kids wanted X-box games, American Girl dolls and other typical 6 year old dreams.

When they got to Justine she had a very simple answer.

“I would buy lots of groceries.”

God in Heaven. There is a six-year-old child whose fondest dream is to have lots of groceries. Toys do not even exist in her comprehension of the world. A toy is so far down her list of priorities that she doesn’t even think to mention it when she’s dreaming big. Her big dream is to eat.

I can’t even think of anything else to say about it. Her dream is to buy groceries. That kills me.

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