Friday, October 26, 2007

Dream Job

A Look Back at Jon Stewart's Greatest Gay Moments |

The link above leads to a long article filled with clips from, as the headline says, the "greatest gay moments" on the Jon Stewart show. The banana episode is so funny even Stewart and then-correspondent Stephen Colbert can't control their laughter; I spent most of my time watching the collection in similar stitches.

The link also points to a larger theme of late. I've been realizing, while reading liveblogs of each new Nuke episode of As the World Turns, that AfterElton's team of writers and editors have one of my dream jobs.

I was contacted recently by the editor of a left-leaning publication, who said, "Saw your blog. I like the way you write. If you ever want to do anything for insert magazine here, give me a shout." Ever since, I've been pondering what I could write for this publication. But every topic I conceive is a better fit for AfterElton. Sure, I care about a lot of liberal causes--but I don't bring anything special to the table in writing about them.

But gays on television and in movies? Now that is something I know, something I care about. I've seen every Will & Grace, every Queer as Folk, every Six Feet Under, every Desperate Housewives, every Brothers & Sisters, every How I Met Your Mother (even before Neil Patrick Harris came out). I read The Advocate and Out. I have oodles of thoughts on what it means that Dumbledore is gay and the propriety of mentioning it after the books have all been published.

So, Michael Jensen, if you're reading, and you like what you see, give me a shout. Because you and your publication are living my dream.

UPDATE, 4:53: After I posted this, Michael went and posted something that sums up why I think the mission of his site is important (and thus why I would want to be a part of it):
BTW, Dennis Miller totally cracked me up when he commented, "I'm bored with people's sexuality. I don't care if Dumbledore is gay." Spoken like a straight man who can go to a movie any day and see straight people, can turn on the TV any night and see straight people, and can kiss his wife anywhere in the world without a second thought. Idiot.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Nuke Won't Be Gone Long...We Hope

ATWT email blast oct issue copy.jpg

The suddenly large legion of Nuke fans (that's Luke and Noah of As the World Turns, for the uninitiated) seems to be white-knuckled with terror this morning that our favorite duo is headed for a long disappearance as Luke tries to overcome his temporarylisis. After yesterday's insane levels of cuteness, this would be a most unwelcome development! But with CBS suddenly offering nothing in the way of episode descriptions, and no more confirmed appearances this week, there's no way to know when we'll see our heroes again.

But the following image, from the October ATWT newsletter linked above, gives me hope:

As far as I can tell, we've never seen Luke and Noah in this pose (or these shirts) before. The image appears to be set at the Snyder farm...a logical spot for Luke to make his recovery, though the problems Lily and Holden are having will certainly complicate matters. Could Noah be comforting Luke about that? We'll find out. Hopefully soon.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Drifting Homedics QRM-400H Therapist Select Quad-Roller Massaging Cushion with Heat: Health & Personal Care

When I got invited to the Amazon Vine program a few months ago, I imagined I would get a jump on all the exciting new books publishers wanted to get into the national consciousness ahead of their release dates. And the first month, that's what happened; the three books I reviewed are all coming out this month and it's been amusing to see interviews with the authors about a book that I, unlike almost anyone else, have already read.

But the second month in I didn't get any books, instead grabbing a British miniseries, an Australian band's third album, and clinical strength deodorant. (I've spared faithful blog readers my review of this last one; I doubt reading about me sweating does anything for anyone.)

And now things are completely off the rails. Amazon has limited Vine reviewers to a single item this month after being bombarded with complaints from people who were invited into the program but didn't get to review anything the first two months because most items ran out. (Obviously, I was part of the problem!) So, while I might have taken a book or two if I had multiple selections, given a single pick I chose the item linked above, a $150 massage cushion. (And grabbed it just in time; the supply ran out about four minutes after the new items became available for the month.) Perhaps this is for the best; I'm still plugging away at Doris Kearns Goodwin's doorstop about the Roosevelts during World War II and I start an intense seven-week course in less than two weeks.

In any case, I expected this program to expand my reading horizons. So far I've read three books I would have gotten around to anyway. But I don't think I'd ever have watched The Amazing Mrs Pritchard or listened to Augie March without Amazon Vine. And I'd probably never have bought myself the massager. Now I'm getting one for free! The quest for Amazon's top 1000 may be a bust (that link leads to the day I hit 2,990, and two years later I'm at 3,256), but something good has come of my obsession.

Friday, October 12, 2007

One Crowded Hour, Indeed

Augie March: Moo, You Bloody Choir

The first song on Augie March's third album, "One Crowded Hour," is pulling triple duty. It's the album opener, the best song, and its title is a pretty good description of the album as a whole. This is a very crowded album! In many places the producers seem to have given up on getting everything to fit in, surrendering instead to the muddy vibe that results from too many things going on and too few decisions made about what to bring forward and what to push back.

It's also crowded stylistically; one moment Moo, You Bloody Choir sounds like it wants to be a Crowded House album or a Neil Finn solo record, but moments later it's doing a Dylan impression (though not, it must be said, an especially good one). Some might call this range! But to make an album so ambitious, to give it cover art so pretentious, is to promise that it's actually about something. This album isn't sure what it is or what it wants to be, and at more than an hour it can't sustain its momentum.

That's not to say there aren't highlights; while the lyrics for "Just Passing Through" are a bit silly, the song has an actual structure, and the way it builds and recedes gives me little chills every time I listen. "There is No Such Place" is a very pretty ballad. And nothing here is downright bad. It just isn't amazing.

This review has been posted on Moo, You Bloody Choir was provided for review as part of Amazon's Vine program.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Craig, Continued

I'm not usually given to posting YouTube videos, but this one from SNL, mocking Larry Craig's decision to stay in the Senate after promising to resign, is a bit too funny to ignore.

You can visit my YouTube account (I know, I feel like I'm twelve saying that) to find this video along with several related to the continuing Luke/Noah drama on As the World Turns in my favorites.

Friday, October 05, 2007

British Political Fantasy

The Amazing Mrs Pritchard

This six-hour BBC miniseries tells the story of a grocery store manager who decides, after watching two candidates for Parliament engage in fisticuffs outside her store, that she could do a better job. As luck would have it, a TV camera catches her saying so, and soon she finds herself in the middle of a whirlwind political movement. She inspires other women to run for office, and many defect from their political parties to join her. Come election day, her party wins—and she becomes prime minister. (Forgive me—I’ve just told you how the first hour ends.)

But all is not so simple for Ros Pritchard, the titular star of the show (played with aplomb by Jane Horrocks). Her husband does not support her choice and urges her to refuse the job, fearful that his own secrets will come to light if she takes office. And within hours of her election, she faces the first of several crises that demonstrate to her that being a world leader is tougher than it looked on TV.

Ros rises to the challenge, though, and for four of its six hours this miniseries is a delightful fantasy about how the world would be if “the great British people” got behind a leader with common-sense ideas and a desire to effect real change. Supporting players generate much of the interest, with no one’s story more compelling and intriguing than that of Catherine Walker, a former Tory and now the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Catherine is the voice of wisdom and experience that Ros desperately needs, but as portrayed by the stellar Janet McTeer she is a woman with regrets that need working out, as well. Watching her work through her own issues while keeping the country running is a gripping experience.

I limit myself to four of five stars because the final hour of the series goes a bit off the rails. Without giving anything away, all I dare say is that the two days depicted in the last hour proceed as if the responsibilities of government have been temporarily suspended. And Americans, used to our tidy endings, probably won’t love the way the series concludes; the text at the end, which British audiences evidently did not see when the program aired on the BBC, seems to wrap things up in a bow but actually makes the conclusion less believable.

Despite that, this is a fine series that anyone with an interest in politics will heartily enjoy. Bonus points if you’re an Anglophile!

This review has been posted on The Amazing Mrs Pritchard will be released October 30 and was provided for review early as part of Amazon's Vine program.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Sonics Expand, Charm Remains

Iron and Wine: The Shepherd’s Dog

What a remarkable album. Sam Beam takes new steps with each song, pulling in new instruments and new styles without losing his soul or his signature whisper. From steel guitar to jazz piano, each new addition is incorporated with aplomb, and nothing feels forced.

For fans coming to this straight from the last “album,” Our Endless Numbered Days, the changes may come as a surprise, but those who’ve heard Woman King or In the Reins, an EP collaboration with Calexico, will recognize this album as a logical follow-up to those efforts. Indeed, two members of Calexico appear here, contributing to the filling-out of a sound that is bigger and better than ever. Iron and Wine can still do introspective, soul-searing songs (like album-closer “Flightless Bird, American Mouth) better than almost anyone. Now the band can make you dance, too, on songs like “The Devil Never Sleeps.”

If that seems unlikely, consider this: So far, every time I listen to the album, I end up playing it twice. Sam Beam has discovered new worlds of sound. Won’t you explore them with him?

This review has been posted on