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May 17, 2006

Ctrl-Alt-Del, Let There Be Light

Adam Malbug_17Slate's deputy editor, David Plotz, has taken on a curious task:

He is going to blog the Bible.  The entire thing.

Or as much as he gets through before his wife kills him.

Plotz describes himself as a "not terribly observant" Jew, one who read the stories of the Torah long ago and wanted to approach them with a fresh and critical eye. 

My goal is not to find contradictions, mock impossible events, or scoff at hypocrisy. [...]

I want to find out what happens when an ignorant person actually reads the book on which his religion is based. I think I'm in the same position as many other lazy but faithful people (Christians, Jews, Moslems, Hindus).

With two posts so far, he is already through Genesis 19 and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Despite his stated goals, he is already unearthing some curious contradictions and little-known nuggets. For example:

  • Did you know there was not one, but two versions of Creation?  Among other differences, the two stories place gender roles on very disparate footing.

  • God does not always follow through on promises, like the one about killing Adam and Eve as soon as they eat the Forbidden Fruit.

  • God hates vegetarians.

  • The great flood seems like it was little more than a "fit of pique."

  • Abraham was far less apt to kill the innocent than God is.

I'm not sure what to gather so far from two blog entries, but Plotz's fresh take is fascinating.  And it does tend to further undermine biblical literalists (as if such a task were that difficult).

Perhaps a few of them should also give the Good Book a good re-reading, as Plotz is doing.

May 12, 2006

Gay Left-Coast Kookiness


California_cuckoo I'm sure there are more such reports to be found in California alone, but a casual perusal of blogs this afternoon helps underscore the dogged determination of some gay liberals to alienate the rest of us who might otherwise support them on issues that concern us all.

BoiFromTroy writes about a trip to his local gay bookstore, during which he had hoped to find a copy of gay American Mary Cheney's new tome.  But the shop was good enough to carry plenty of copies of straight American, and frothy socialist, Noam Chomsky's new book.

Perhaps these are wise business decisions for someone with a West Hollywood clientele.  But why, then, call yourself a "gay" bookstore?  Answer: Because a disturbing number of gay Americans naïvely consider ultra-leftist politics part and parcel of the homosexual experience.  For millions of the rest of us, this just doesn't compute.

In a somewhat related story, Queerty reports that the California State Senate has passed a bill "that would require textbooks in public schools to instruct students on contributions by gays and lesbians in the state's development."

Normally I would decry the balkanization of education by officious politicians.  But the bill already reads like a laundry list of aggrieved groups — "men and women, Black Americans, American Indians, Mexicans, Asians, Pacific Islanders, and other ethnic groups, and people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender" — so gays might as well join the hit parade.  (It's similar to my thoughts on hate-crimes laws: They're stupid and pointless, but as long as we have them, gays should be protected by them.)

But why can't they just teach students about Californians' contributions to the state, regardless of whatever preferred group to which they belong?

March 27, 2006

The Bond Between Two Men When the One Is Gone

Grief_1 I had meant to begin this post by finding a quote that neatly and accurately described the book I recently finished reading. It seemed simple enough; run a quick google search, scour few dozen sentences by famous writers, and somewhere therein find some perfectly rendered phrase that seems profound, wise, and all-encompassing.

However, if a reader takes only one thing away from Bill Valentine's A Season of Grief, it is that coping with the death of a loved one, a life partner, is a deeply personal process. No metaphors for love and grief, desolation and despair, can ever capture the textures of the empty coat hanging in the closet, or the remembered smells of a favorite food, or the consoling tones of a record collection left behind. William Carlos Williams once remarked, "No ideas but in things." There is no grieving but in what remains: memories, possessions, connections, words spoken and not, family, loves, faith.

Continue reading "The Bond Between Two Men When the One Is Gone" »

March 05, 2006

The Sound of Rutting

Malbug_13Whether Brokeback Mountain wins big tonight or flames out (as it were), we will always have Annie Proulx's wonderful novella on which the film was based.

But if you're like me and find that whole reading thing to be – in George Bush's words – "hard work," then AOL Gay & Lesbian is offering a free download of the audio version of the story, as read by Campbell Scott.

February 13, 2006

"Straight-Washing" Entertainment



It's all the rage among the 'mos to denigrate the "gay" American TV networks, such as Logo, Here! TV and the faltering Q Television Network.  You've heard the rap before:

"They reinforce negative stereotypes.  They don't show our lives.  Their production values are a disgrace to right-brained queens everywhere.  Their content is recycled, derivative of other sources, or redundant, given the existence of other channels like Bravo or E!"

But guess what, boys?  We need these networks.  We should support them and encourage them to put on realistic and entertaining gay programming that is relevant to our "community," insofar as there is one.

Why?  Because although gains are being made, we still don't get quite a fair shake in the mainstream media.

Exhibit A, the first clip from "The Tony Danza Show" that will ever be played on MalcoVision.  (And judging by Danza's ratings, possibly the last.)

Actor Anthony Rapp, one of the most talented performers in almost any medium who also happens to be an out gay man, stopped by this morning to promote his new book, "Without You," a memoir that focuses on his 11-year association with the musical "Rent."  The dominant themes of the book include Rapp's life as a gay man, and the loss of several friends to AIDS.  The book jacket even mentions Rapp's partner, Rodney To.

So what was Danza interested in talking about?  The death of Rapp's father.

The Washington Blade ran an editorial on Friday about the "straight-washing" of the news, a phenomenon that seems to cross over into some daytime talk shows.

Until it becomes second nature for straight America to talk to and about gays like we're just anybody else, there will be an important spot at the electronic hearth for Logo and its cousins.

[Watch video – 6:57, WMV format, high bandwidth]

[Watch video – 6:57, WMV format, low bandwidth]

January 26, 2006

Norah, Norah, PR Scorer


Norah Vincent is getting the kind of publicity normally reserved for people like William Ginsburg.  (Remember him?)

Last night she was on "The Colbert Report" and CNN's "Paula Zahn Now" hawking her book, "Self-Made Man."  And tonight she will be on "Late Night With Conan O'Brien."

[Watch video – 9:05, WMV format, high bandwidth]

[Watch video – 9:05, WMV format, low bandwidth]

January 24, 2006

King for a Day (Give or Take 540)


NorahWhat would you do if you could live as the opposite gender for a day?  How about for 18 months straight?

Norah Vincent (a 5'10" lesbian, by the way, who wears men's size-11 shoes) did just that, going undercover as "Ned" for a book she wrote called "Self-Made Man: One Woman's Journey Into Manhood and Back."

Most straight guys I know would probably make their first stop the women's locker room.  But as ABC's 20/20 discovered, Norah was more interested in learning about gender differences that go beyond mere genitalia.

The results were surprising to her in many ways she couldn't first imagine.

[Watch video – 9:00, WMV format, high bandwidth]

[Watch video – 9:00, WMV format, low bandwidth]

January 11, 2006

Wonkette Gets 'Rourked

Malbug_13P.J. O'Rourke says Ana Marie Cox should keep her day job.

Whoops, too late!

December 19, 2005

Blood Suckers Possibly Sucking?

Lestat2 The new Elton John musical based on Anne Rice's Lestat began previews this weekend in San Francisco in preparation for a March premiere on Broadway. The latest adaptation of Rice's Vampire Chronicles reunites John with lyricist Bernie Taupin as the pair collaborate on their first stage production together.

The musical is intended as a linear blending of Interview With The Vampire and The Vampire Lestat. As these are the two best novels in the series before Rice mutated into a Catholic Marquise de Sade, I've been fairly excited to see what Sir Elton would do with the material. While he doesn't wield the repetitious, mind-destroying powers of an Andrew Lloyd Webber, his previous Broadway endeavors have been pretty decentish. With that in mind, I eagerly gave the preview song from Lestat over at Amazon.com a listen.

I don't know.

I must say, Taupin's awkward lyrics with John's quasi-spoken opening immediately brought the truly, truly awful Jekyll and Hyde to mind. (You have not lived until you've found yourself rolling on the floor, heaving with laughter at the television production of Jekyll and Hyde starring David Hasslehoff).

However. The song, especially the chorus, did seem to really grow on me as I continued listening. Perhaps in the hands of an accomplished theatrical singer (Elton sings this version) and slightly altered instrumentals, "Make Me As You Are" will prove somewhat less frightening.

Here's hoping.

December 07, 2005

A Brokeback Documentary

Brokebackdoc In a last burst of publicity before Brokeback Mountain hits theaters this Friday, Logo recently ran a documentary about the making of the film. Though Mal may be off in a land far away, Malco-Vision is still here to keep you company.

In these highlights you'll find a synopsis, interviews with the stars Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal, director Ang Lee, and the writers of the film. There are also plenty of shirtless scenes, kissing scenes, kissing while shirtless scenes . . . ahem. More than enough to tide over any hard-core Brokeback Mountain fan until the film's final theatrical release.

[Watch video – 9:04, WMV format, high bandwidth]

[Watch video – 9:04, WMV format, low bandwidth]

November 28, 2005

A Club Worth Joining

Poison_oak We here at Malcontent are nothing if not slavish devotees of our advertisers. After receiving a blog ad for Brent Hartinger's gay teen novel, The Order of the Poison Oak, I approached Mal with the idea of a book review. We contacted the author, and he very graciously offered to send not only TOotPO, but also the preceding novel in the series, Geography Club.

Literally a day later, controversy hit over Hartinger's previous novel. Parents of a Tacoma, Washington school district claimed to be distressed over an internet meeting depicted in GC and sought to ban the book. As Hartinger's interview today with Queerty makes clear, the complaints primarily targeted the homosexual content, and rattled school officials used the internet meet-up as a transparent excuse to justify the banning.

Well, now I had to read both novels and review them to see what all the parental apoplexy was about. Not a natural reader of the gay genre, much less teen literature or your average coming out saga, I was originally worried about writing these reviews. There are only so many ways the material can be presented before a certain repetitiveness sets in.

With that in mind, I cannot believe how immensely I enjoyed these books. I intended to read them on and off over the long weekend, but found myself devouring Geography Club in a single sitting. After a fifteen minute coffee break, I cracked open the Order of the Poison Oak and continued reading until I polished off that entire novel as well.

Full reviews after the jump.

Continue reading "A Club Worth Joining" »

Schadenfreude, Thy Name Is Sheehan

Malbug_13Being no mathematician and not understanding what you get when you divide by zero, I'm not even sure you can express in real terms how greatly the press outnumbered the fans at Cindy Sheehan's book signing.

But I do know, as far as royalties go, that zero percent of zero isn't too good.


[HT: Gay Patriot, Queer Conservative]

November 21, 2005

Romancing the Wand

Harry_and_ron_on_a_date_2 By now, everyone on planet Earth has seen Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. In this fourth installment of the series, Harry and Ron struggle to control their raging hormones and the angst of budding adolescent love and jealousy.

Though we've been led to believe the objects of their affection are Cho Chang and Hermoine, respectively, E! Entertainment's "The Soup" uncovers the secret homoerotic romance between Harry and Ron in J.K. Rowling's magical world.

Malco-vision brings you the exclusive clip:

[Watch video – 1:30, WMV format, high bandwidth]

[Watch video – 1:30, WMV format, low bandwidth]

Plug-O-Matic: Fight Bigotry Edition


If it is true, as Barry Goldwater famously said, that "extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice," then count The Malcontent as a "First Amendment extremist."

America's freedom of expression is probably my greatest source of pride in my country of birth.  I constantly marvel at countries such as China, where practically half the Internet is inaccessible to the populous for political reasons.  Or in much of the Middle East and other totalitarian regimes such as Cuba, where certain opinions ensure lengthy prison terms or even death.  Even in supposedly enlightened European countries, there is an overly sensitive attitude toward expression and a notion that people must be "protected" from select ideas.

In fact, the only comments I have ever deleted from this blog were from spammers, and one that was making rather generalized death threats against gay people.

GeographyclubSo that is why I am always disappointed whenever American troglodytes crawl out of their holes to propose speech codes or, just as odiously, to ban books – as has just happened at a school outside Tacoma, Wash.:

Acting on a parent complaint, University Place schools Superintendent Patti Banks has removed a novel about gay teens from district library shelves.

Banks said her decision had nothing to do with the theme of homosexuality in “Geography Club.” Instead, she was alarmed by the “romanticized” portrayal of a teen meeting a stranger at night in a park after connecting with that person – who turns out to be a gay classmate – through an Internet chat room.

As you might have discerned by the headline, the author of "Geography Club," Brent Hartinger, coincidentally became a sponsor of my blog recently with the sequel, "The Order of the Poison Oak."  Hartinger has been following the book-banning story over on the new blog, Big Gay Picture, to which he is a contributor.

As he wrote in an email to me, the chat-room excuse seems to be a flimsy pretext, at best:

I’ll concede that the superintendent may be sincere in objecting to this element of my book.  And sure, not every school can or should stock every single book.

That said, I don’t think that internet scene is the real reason my book was banned.  According to the Marge Ceccarelli, president of the Curtis PTA, the parents who complained were initially upset with the book because it would “turn straight kids into homosexuals.”  Those parents compiled a long list of objections, only one of which the superintendent agreed with.  But surely it was the book’s gay theme that led to this intense level of scrutiny.

I think that the issue of Internet predation is a red herring, in this case.  I am nearly a couple of decades removed from my teenage years, but even I am aware of the central role the Internet, instant messaging and chat rooms play in the lives of young people.  Yet we never hear about censorship involving these themes when straight students are the subjects.  Hartinger's books, on the other hand, have won awards and have been praised for their quality and sensitivity to gay issues and young people.

The best way to fight the bigots, of course, is to "vote with your pocketbook," as they say.  You can find Hartinger's new book, "The Order of the Poison Oak," here, or "Geography Club" here.

While you're at it, please keep our other fine, freedom-loving sponsors in mind:

Even if Brent Hartinger weren't a sponsor of this blog, The Malcontent would be in his corner.  Some people are so afraid of gays that it drives them to literally un-American ends, but they need to be told that our nation will never quite be the "land of the free" until we truly become the "home of the brave."

October 30, 2005

Bad Pictures of Famous People


Sunday we saw Joel Godard, the wacky announcer for "Late Night With Conan O'Brien," out walking his dog.  He must live in our neighborhood.

(Click pic to enlarge)

Then a bit later while in SoHo, we saw them shooting "The Devil Wears Prada," the adaptation of the book starring Anne Hathaway and Meryl Streep.  Both of them were there, filming an interior scene.  Here was my best attempt at getting Meryl Streep on film:

(Click pic to enlarge)

I also got a little bit of (bad) video.  Meryl is the gray head on the left in the background, behind the production assistant with the headset.

[Watch video - 0:19, WMV format, high bandwidth]

[Watch video - 0:19, WMV format, low bandwidth]

October 24, 2005

Sucking the Life Out of Christ

Lestat_1 I remember reading Interview with the Vampire as a sophmore in third period World Civilization, quietly poring over every word of the scene under the Theater Des Vampires. A young boy "pressed his sex" into Louis' leg, and I surreptitiously slid a biology text to hide my own. Still struggling with my sexuality, Anne Rice's works were my first window into homo-eroticism and love between two men, undead as they were.

I rifled through the series, devouring the Vampire Lestat, The Queen of the Damned, and the Tale of the Body Thief. In Memnoch the Devil, Rice rediscovered Jesus.

It was all downhill from there.

Continue reading "Sucking the Life Out of Christ" »

October 17, 2005

Measure of a Man


Author Scott Poulson-Bryant deconstructs a certain myth about black men.

October 12, 2005

How Stella Got Banned from the A-List


I'm not going to comment on the finalization of Terry McMillan's divorce, her gay ex-husband, and all of that.  I will leave that to Rod and Andy.

But I did find this quote from the author of How Stella Got Her Groove Back interesting:

"I do not hate my husband for being gay,'' she wrote to (the San Francisco Chronicle). "I do not hate anybody (except Saddam Hussein).''

I thought it was de rigueur if not mandatory among the entertainment industry to hate the man who removed Saddam from power.

October 06, 2005

Wand Envy

LONDON (Oct. 6) - A British cleric and top-selling author of children's books was thrown out of a school where he said Harry Potter was "gay" during a talk to 12-year-olds.

Granted, the Harry Potter series contains sexual subtexts so deep, you often need hipwaders. CertainCedric_2 sections leave readers contemplating a post-chapter cigarette. What else can we make of the tri-wizard pregame examination in Goblet of Fire where Harry contemplates his wandish inadequacy while the handsome Cedric Diggory proudly boasts of polishing his twelve and a quarter incher (!) every night?

But let's not forget Harry's brief infatuation with Cho Chang and the extended make-out scenes with Ginny Weasely.

This cleric has already made millions of pounds with his crappy Potter knock-off, Shadowmancer. He's being a bitter, greedy git.

September 07, 2005

Siegel's "False" Sense of Security


Falsealarm Author Marc Siegel was on "The Daily Show" last night, flogging his book False Alarm: The Truth About the Epidemic of Fear.  I have not yet read the book, but his interview with Jon Stewart was troubling, to say the least.

[Watch video – 10mb, 6:09, WMV format]

The cover photo is indeed taken from a true false alarm: the evacuation of the U.S. Capitol when a plane carrying Kentucky's governor bound for the Reagan funeral wandered into restricted airspace with a broken transponder.  But the cause for the panic was genuine.

On Sept. 11, 2001, Flight 93 was headed for the U.S. Capitol before it was taken down when passengers rose up against their terrorist hijackers.  The Capitol has been evacuated a handful of times since, though one would be hard-pressed to argue that an alarm is "false" when it involves the potential of dying from a plane crashing into you.

It was hard to tell exactly what Siegel's point was, but I'd try to sum it up this way: "We don't really need to worry about terrorism.  Except for nukes.  But we didn't find any nukes in Iraq, so everything is OK."

“We’re worried about the wrong thing,” Siegel said, arguing that we put too much concern into a "truck bomb versus a hurricane."

But what if that "truck bomb" involved a series of coordinated attacks on levees?  The end result would be much the same as Hurricane Katrina.

"We have the whole country afraid of terrorism, which can happen to a few people and scare the whole country,” Siegel says.

Call me silly, but I don't think 5,000 people murdered (and counting) by al-Qaeda qualifies as "a few" under most definitions.

"They’re scaring us silly about everything," Siegel says, throwing “mad cow and West Nile” into the mix.

But Siegel has a pronoun problem.  His "theys" are actually several discrete entities.  For instance, the chief fear-mongers on mad cow disease actually come from the left because they see partisan gain at the expense of the Administration.  They also want us all to eat organically grown food, even though millions more people a year would starve if we actually heeded their advice.  (Incidentally, total number of confirmed cases of mad cow in U.S. cattle: two.  Total number of confirmed human deaths from mad cow in the United States: zero.)

“Our National Guard is over there instead of over here protecting against the disaster,” Siegel said.

More leftist hyperbole.  As James Robbins points out, only about 10 percent of the Army (including Guard and Reserve) is in Iraq, while nearly three-quarters is in the United States.  Isn't it raising a "false alarm" to make such an overblown claim?

JON STEWART: There clearly is a group of people who are organizing a network that is aiming to get large weapons to come over.  Or am I reading that wrong?  [SILENCE] You’re scaring me.

MARC: You’re reading that right, but what I’m saying is that we can’t assume that everything that happens is a risk to all of us.  The terrorists know that the biggest weapon they have is fear.  They don’t have to hurt a lot of us.  They get a few of us, and the rest of us panic.  … That’s the elephant in the room is nuclear weapons.

Finally we've found something that actually scares Marc Siegel: nukes.

They don't have to hurt a lot of us, Marc, but anyone who has been paying even a little bit of attention since, oh, 1998 knows that they want to hurt, or kill, a lot of us.  All of us, actually, or at least those of us who don't subscribe to their perverted religious fanaticism.

JON: Isn’t that what we’re aiming to do, by taking on the terrorists where they live?

MARC: I think that’s a global paranoia.  I think when we went over there, we didn’t find those weapons.

Marc, you just said "nukes" were the elephant in the room, then you called them "paranoia."  Which is it?

So just because we haven't found them in Iraq, do we ignore them elsewhere, like in Iran?  Is it a "false alarm" to be concerned about countries like Iran with deep terrorist ties transferring those weapons to be used against us, or is it a legitimate concern?  You're confusing me, Marc!

Predictably, Siegel's book is earning plaudits from such great nonpartisan pre-Sept. 11 thinkers as Bob Kerrey, Bill Press and David Corn.  (I couldn't find a noteworthy Republican in the bunch.)

Kerrey calls it "a terrific and groundbreaking book," while Corn calls it "masterful and provocative."  (Anything that bashes life-saving pharmaceutical companies is OK by him!)  While Press says, "Relax and put away your duct tape," precisely the kind of thing that explains his status as a former co-host of Crossfire.

Look, Siegel has a point, but only to a point.  If we're going to worry about things, we should probably prioritize between the trivial and the serious.  But if his interview last night was any indication, his book sounds more like part of the left's ongoing campaign to hit the "snooze button" on terrorism than an honest attempt to delineate among the relative risk of things.

Did I mention that Marc Siegel is a medical doctor and not a politician or policymaker?  But at least he has given me a book idea: "The Doctor's Definitive Guide to Open-Heart Surgery."

UPDATE: I conceded at the outset that I hadn't yet read the book, but I thought in fairness that I'd share this brief email I got from Dr. Siegel today.  Maybe he was just trying to speak Jon Stewart's language?:

Try reading it.

It is neither left or right.

I am not minimizing terrorism, what I am doing is pointing out that it often – deliberately – scares beyond the actual damage.

Let me know what you think after you read it.