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I Want This Monster Under my Bed! November 25, 2009

Posted by rscottgriffin in Uncategorized.
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Although it’s been leaked for a week, and many a positive remark (Bananas! I die!) have already been made about the new benchmark in music videos set by the “Bad Romance” video, Lady Gaga’s newest album (or half-album, as it were) was officially released today.  If you didn’t know that, you’ve probably been living under a rock or don’t have a single gay friend.  “The Fame Monster,” is the follow-up to the HUGE “The Fame.”

I have never written a music review in my life, but let me tell you why I cannot get enough of this album.  I’m not going to repeat the constant comparisons to Madonna, other than in a few of the songs, below.  I love it because it sounds fresh and new and hip with an edge that Lady Gaga lends to her performance, but it also has some fantastic nuances that pay tribute to the frivolity and synth beats of the 80s and 90s and brought back some great memories of early mornings at Backstreet.

There is also one, undeniable thing that we know after this album – this Lady can SING!  Although you can tell the label had a lot more cash to throw into production in this album, that’s more in the backing music and effects and they let Gaga be Gaga.  It’s certainly obvious why she made it into Tisch at NYU at 17.   So, here are my thoughts, for what they’re worth, song by song.  (I’m not analyzing lyrics, here, btw, that could probably be a college course in and of itself.)

“Bad Romance” – I’ve been hitting “replay” on this song for two weeks, now.  It’s been remixed, it has a kick-ass video, and a great line that we’ve all thought at some point, “I DON’T WANNA BE FRIENDS!!!  Want your bad romance!!!”  Amen, sister.

“Alejandro” – Okay, this one is reminiscent of “La Isla Bonita,” which was never one of my favorites from Madge.  But, it also has a nice Ace of Bass “I Saw the Sign” little back-beat to it that gives it enough pep to make me want to get out of my chair at work.

“Monster” – She goes a little rougher here, too, and I do wish that the Autotuner would go the way of the Dodo, but we have our first big dose of 80s synth, here, which is just pure nostalgia for me.  This is also the first of the non-BR songs that is made for remixing and more layers of beats. It’s a cute disco song.  There’s also a shout out to “Just Dance.”  If you’ve seen a Gaga performance, you can see those creative seeds throughout this album, too.

“Speechless” – For every critic that says Lady Gaga is just another over-produced, bouncing blond “vocalist” that can’t actually sing, I give you this song to pop in your iPod, take a listen, then shut the f*ck up.  We go on to a completely different musical direction, here.  This one makes me think, Beatles.  I’m talking sound and pacing, here, people, but it also has a very bluesy feel with even a bit of country and western twang at one or two points.  The music and backing vocals are very simple, so you can really get a good dose of what a deep and raspy voice (Janis Joplin, Bonnie Tyler) she actually has.

“Dance in the Dark” – Oh. My. God.  This one is MADE for remixing, not that it stands out as a possible club mix on its own!  But, damn, it starts out sampling Depeche Mode’s Strangelove for Christ’s sake!!!  Also, she brings back her “freak bitch” self-proclamation from “Bad Romance,” here.  But, the hook has me thinking of that moment on the dance floor – you know it – when everyone’s been waiting for anticipation for it, then there’s a big “WHHHOOOOO!!” and everyone throws their hands up and the lights correspond.  I can’t imagine that this one won’t be on everyone’s favorite list, especially since about 3/4 of the way through, she channels “Vogue” and rattles off some dead celebrities…most of which are big gay icons.

“Telephone” – We all knew that the collaboration between Lady Gaga and Beyonce was coming, but who knew that it was going to be everything and more that Madonna and Britney wished “Me Against the Music” could be.  It mixes their styles so well, and its also remix fodder for days.  Also, listen very closely, and you’ll hear a little sample of “Beautiful Nightmare” thrown in there.

“So Happy I Could Die” – We’ve all had these nights, that everything seems so perfect, and you’re having such a good time…but this song is not happy, it’s melancholy.  It’s fantastic.  It’s juxtaposition of lyrics with music, and it actually evokes something much more, to me, than what they lyrics convey.  (Okay, so that’s my one discussion of lyrics.)

“Teeth” – Okay, I think Madonna circa Erotica era on this one.  Very raw, with a simple driving beat, it’s as primal, tribal, and honest as what she’s singing about.  I mean, she says, “I just want your sex” and “take a bite of my bad girl.”  This is probably my least favorite of the album, but I have a feeling it could grow on me.

So, those are my thoughts.  Please feel free to share your own in the comments section!

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My Greatest Accomplishment: Becoming a Notary Public November 3, 2009

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When consulting a former colleague on some things I should think about when starting my own law practice, she suggested that I “sign-up” to be a Notary Public in Fulton County.  She suggested this so I could add Real Estate closings to my professional offerings.  (For others that are attorneys reading this, I realize there is some question to notarizing documents for a party I’m representing, but it doesn’t hurt, right?)  So, I asked around, and they said, oh it’s easy, you fill out the form, take it to the court, and there you go.  Great.

Georgia, being the progressive State that it is, actually offers an on-line application.  Praise Her for electronic government.  So, while I was still at my firm, knowing that we had plenty of Notaries around to notarize the application, I decided to go ahead and fill the thing out.  I will preface the rest of this story with the fact that I *possibly* did not fully and completely read all of the details of the application rules.  Hell, I’m a lawyer.  Unless it’s in published rules of court or an order or some administrative agency, a thorough perusal is usually sufficient.  So, I asked one of the secretaries and one of our case clerks (who is a Notary) to serve as endorsers on my application.  We filled in the application, I printed it out, signed it, had Travis notarized it, and voi la…I could become a notary.  Wrong.

The next week, my application in hand, I set off for the Clerk of Superior Court of Fulton County.  I sat down at the window and passed through my application.  On each and every legal document, court admission, court pleading, patent application, mortgage application, insurance application, driver’s license, check, and any other piece of paper that I have to sign in an official manner, I sign it with my first initial, and then my middle and last names – R. Scott Griffin.  Like many a southern boy before me, was cursed by being called by my middle name, and the application was VERY clear to apply in the manner in which you SIGN YOUR NAME.

So, my first argument with this particular bureaucrat was over whether they could issue me a Notary seal with my first initial, then my full name.  I explained the situation, explained I was a member of the State Bar of Georgia under that form of my name (including producing my bar card), and even showed that my driver’s license had that EXACT signature.  He had to ask his supervisor and mumbled something about “Homeland Security,” but I avoided THAT particular political discussion.  After a few minutes in the back, it was determined that was acceptable.  He then begins to take my application and enter the information into his computer.  (Why they have an electronic application that basically prints what you type, but requires them to perform data entry why you attempt to sit pretending to be patient is really beyond me.)  At the first endorsement, the secretary’s, he notes that she does not live in Fulton County, but in Cobb.  (This is the part where I realize I may have skimmed past something important in the rules, and I’ll own that part.)  So, he says, get two Fulton County endorsers, and I’m all set.  Great.  Trip number one down.

So, I get a friend and neighbor to scratch through the prior endorsement, per his instructions, and fill out new endorser information.  I embark on my second journey.  I go and sit at the window, and the same gentleman begins to enter the information anew.  (I remind him we’ve already solved the great name debate of 2009).  The next problem then arises.  He asks if this new endorser has a local phone number.  “I don’t know, what did he write?”  This is an out of state number, he says.  “Oh, he only has a cell phone and moved here from Florida, and that’s his only phone.”  This is when it really gets interesting – apparently, and this was NOT in the rules, each of your endorsers has to have a LOCAL phone number because…the phones at the Fulton County Superior Court Clerk’s Office can’t dial long distance!!!!

He also informed me during this second visit that I was really “causing him problems” because I noted on my application that I had a reckless driving conviction four and one-half years ago.  He indicated that, although it was “not that bad,” the clerk generally likes to INTERVIEW people that have answered in the affirmative to the particular question about convictions other than minor traffic citations.  Seriously?!?!  Interview???!?!  So, at this point, the ire and irritation were seriously bubbling up inside of me.  The only thing that I could do to keep from screaming at this man at the absurd turns this application process was taking was return all of my stuff to my bag and walk out and say I’d come back…AGAIN.

So, back on-line I went.  I started the application anew, filling in all of my required information.  I then tracked down two friends, one of whom is a notary, to fill out the endorsers section.  I also completed all of the information about my reckless driving issue.  Last week, off I went to the courthouse for a likely-unprecedented THIRD time, with my application, complete with endorsements from Fulton County residents with local phone numbers, a full explanation of my reckless driving conviction, and the court papers for the resolution.  I.  Was.  Ready.

Yeah, you knew it was coming…he HAD to give me a hard time about something.  He was about to tell me that they could not accept the application because my endorsers were WRITTEN in as opposed to being typed and that after November 1, they would no longer be accepting applications with anything filled-in in writing.  I said, “well, it’s not November 1, and after the first time I came you told me to have a new endorser write his name in, therefore I thought that was fine.”  (Again, I note that NONE of this is actually in the rules or noted on the on-line application.)  So, he asked his superior, who said that it was fine and that they would get it taken care of.  Next, he looked to my explanation of my conviction, and I noted that I had all of the papers.  The supervisor, still standing there, asked if he could HOLD ON TO MY ORIGINAL FILE!!!  Um, NO!!!  Lord, what kind of personal records do you people keep if you would you give your only copy to a stranger?!!?  In the ensuing conversation we agreed on which pages they needed, which I handed over to them for him to copy.  I got my papers back, put everything up, and he noted that I should “hear something” in the next week or so.  If I don’t, I should call.  At this writing, I have not heard anything from them, so I have no idea if the clerk wants to interview me.

That does not end the story, though.  Of course, after I get OUTSIDE OF SECURITY at the courthouse, I decide that I probably needed to check to make sure I had all of my papers.  One of them…the original, was not returned.  When I tried to go back through security, I was not allowed because only workers were allowed to use that entrance.  So, back around the block I went, back through the security line, and back to the office to retrieve my original, which he has just sat on his desk and not even copied.  Wow, these people are detail-oriented.

So, at this point, I have no idea if I’ll actually become a Notary Public.  I’m sure that they will find some other issue that I have to address, but right now, no news is good news.  Thursday of this week will be a “week” since the application was filed.  Also, keep in mind that I have managed to get admitted to the State Bar of Georgia, all Georgia State courts, the Northern District of Georgia, the United States Patent Office, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, and numerous other District Courts on a Pro Hac (per case) basis, and adding up the effort I expended for each of those STILL would not come to what I’ve had to deal with just to become a Notary Public.  So, rest assured, Fulton County, your public servants are ensuring that those people that sign off that it really is you signing your documents are doing everything in their power to make sure you’re safe!  And, y’all keep your fingers crossed for me, okay?

In Fear of an Educated Population October 2, 2009

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Today on MSBNC’s Morning Joe, show regular Mort Zuckerman, who, according to Wikipedia, is the Editor in Chief for U.S. News and World Report and writes for the New York Daily News, and therefore wields a massive amount of influence over the message that a large number of people are presented, made one of the dumbest comments I’ve ever heard.  I think  his comment, by an incredibly successful and man and purported journalist, belies a serious problem of ignorance in this country and was horribly irresponsible.  I will give him the caveat that he was speaking rather “off the cuff” in the midst of a conversation and his comment may not have been as precise as he would’ve liked.  However, what he said was, “the trial lawyers won’t let them set up medical courts.”

Let’s break this down, shall we?  What, pray tell, is a ‘medical court’?  Which ‘them’ is being stopped from setting them up?  So, first, let’s discuss ‘medical courts’ in the context in which the discussion was occurring.  The current reform effort is Federal.  The Federal government and its powers are articulated in the Constitution of the United States.  Article III of the Constitution, in fact, establishes one court, and that is the Supreme Court of the United States and that Congress can establish inferior courts from time to time.  These courts, the Federal court system, only have jurisdiction over claims that arise under Federal law or cases that satisfy certain diversity requirements (litigants are from different States), but still are still cases that are adjudicated on the basis of the laws of the States.

The United States is a Federal system, hence the Federal government, where the Federal government only has the powers that are specifically dictated to it by…you guessed it…the Constitution.  ALL OTHER governing powers are left to the individual States, which, under the system as envisaged at ratification, were fundamentally states as sovereign as England or France or any other country, as we would understand it today.  From time to time, Congress has stretched the reach of Federal powers  beyond those powers specifically stated in the Constitution, and they use something called the Interstate Commerce Clause to do so.  Basically, if some aspect of business, society, etc…, stretches across state boundaries, Congress can assert control over it.  Medical malpractice, however, is not one of those issues.

Medical malpractice, the insurance industry (State Insurance Commissioners – try buying an insurance policy from a different state), doctors (State Medical Boards), and pretty much everything that occurs in the health care arena as we know it today, with the obvious exception of MediCare, is regulated by…the States.  Why?  Because medical malpractice is what we lawyers call a tort, just like when you hit someone with your car or generally do anything that damages that person.  Because, at its core, medical malpractice is a doctor doing something that injures a person more than it helps.  Now, yes, trial lawyers may do very well in “med mal” cases, but their regulation, the limits of recovery, and what can actually be sued for is solely in the purview of STATE law, not Federal.  Now if a doctor is in one state and the patient in another, you may be able to bring the case in a Federal court, but the law governing the case is…state law.  There is NO SUCH THING as Federal malpractice.

States, like the Federal government, can establish whichever courts their respective Constitutions say they can, and they have significantly more power and a broader range of authority than Federal courts.  Herein lies the problem.  Federal health care reform is attempting to set up a national-level system that will allow more competition, options, and access to coverage than are currently available with traditional insurance, which is regulated…by the States (note that every few years states also elect an insurance commissioner, and all responsibilities of insurance companies that operate within a state are stipulated by State law, and that’s why, living in Georgia, I can’t buy insurance from a company in Arizona).

So, what does all this really mean?  It means that Mr. Zuckerman, in his position of influence and dramatic wealth, knows this…and knows BETTER, and is simply engaging in that typical race to the bottom and for the minds of the “Lowest Common Denominator.”  Now, I’m not writing this as an “intellectual elitist” that thinks I know more than others or is better than others.  But, instead of sticking to a party line that embraces this “faux-populism” that has been a trademark of the conservative right for the past 12 years, why not try to EDUCATE those that may not understand or appreciate the nuance?  Because it’s hard…and it’s the difficult thing to do.  It’s also the right (as in correct) thing to do.  Nuance and explanation do not fit into neat sound bytes or quick quips or “Death Panels” or “they’re taking away your MediCare.”  It also has the convenience of leaving in place the status quo insurance system, which lines the pockets of the super-rich.  (I do not claim that there are not some Democrats and progressives that are equally guilty, but a majority of the perpetrators are conservative, and an (R) follows their names if they are elected representatives.)  For them, it’s not about helping people – it’s not about the moral obligation that we should all have as the wealthiest country in the world that people don’t die because they get sick or that education enriches the debate when everyone is operating with the same information.  To them, it’s about winning, more money for them and their friends, and making sure that as much stays the same as possible.  It’s time for a new level and a new type of discourse that involves all of us, and not a precious few railing against new ideas when they know for a fact that the ones they’re appealing to are the ones that they are trying to keep down and in the dark.

God, These People! February 18, 2009

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A coworker of mine sent THIS over to me today.  His comment was that it was “the best unintentional satire” ever.  I would say that is a pretty good summation, but it goes so much deeper than that.  I cannot truly determine who is the bigger douchebag, the writer or the subject.  Let’s do a quick analysis, shall we?

First, we know the “talented,” glorified party bitch, Mr. Rohr, wears Hugo Boss.  Yeah, so do a lot of men that I know.  He makes good stuff that is not completely stale and boring, so you don’t go to work feeling like you dress like your dad.  However, add that to “Porsche-driving,” and these are the first two items of descriptive text that the writer uses to identify this man.  Oh, he is 6’5″, for whatever that’s worth, and that he’s “ruggedly handsome.”  That usually means the guy doesn’t moisturize.  Let’s also consider that Mr. Rohr likely approved this text.  Therefore, it is a safe assumption that he finds these, in some warped sense, personality attributes.

We next learn that while planning Inauguration parties at his last job in DC, he kayaked the Patomac.  Um, has the writer, Mr. Bonvissuto, seen the Patomac River?  It is not especially wide, or rough, at least not where the highways cross the river from Virginia into the District of Columbia. My friend Michelle canoed on it, once.  To give him some credit, I performed a quick search on the Interwebs to determine if there are, indeed, white water rapids on the Patomac.  I found THIS. So, basically you can rent an inflatable boat and take to the rapids, even if you’ve never sat in a kayak before. I don’t take it to mean that Mr. Rohr is trying out for the U.S. Olympic team any time soon.

So, now we get to Mr. Rohr’s current engagement as the party bitch for the St. Regis, where he “has been skipping across the top of the city’s social scene like a wellpolished[sic] pebble.”  The last time I checked, “well” and “polished” were two, separate words, as I have illustrated, here.  Maybe a hyphen, there?  He’s popular with rich people because he works at a fancy hotel!  I’m shocked.

Let’s get real, though – at least that’s where Mr. Bonvissuto take us next.  Mr. Rohr likes to lounge around his house smoking a cigar (rebellious!), watching independent films, or READING (give me a Tolstoy or Dickens if you want me to be impressed, or even John Irving, for God’s sake), and listening to that indie, angst-filled (see the use of the hypen?) band that personifies “real” like no other – Coldplay.  But, Mr. Rohr would like to be “really wild” and throw on jeans and a t-shirt (because how many men that you know qualify as a ‘jeans and a t-shirt’ kind of guy???  Can you think of any???  I mean, isn’t that so WILD?) and ride a motorcycle all day.  Take a drive up to the North Georgia mountains, and you will see people riding motorcycles for multiple days – middle aged and young and everyone in between.  In this day of pink Harleys, nothing says “wild” like a motorcycle, no ma’am.  But, he just hasn’t made good on his “threat” to buy one, because that would certainly be earth-shattering.

I think what is most troubling about this personality profile, or whatever it is, is that it is meant to be taken seriously by those that would find Mr. Rohr’s sort an appealing party planner for their “upscale” wedding or other “special” event – because the St. Regis is not for just ANY event.  He’s been in a magazine!  He drives a Porsche!  Having a motorcycle is “wild” and different!  Wow.  Seriously?  Come on, people, please, for the love of God, get a damn life.  Get some depth greater than half a thimble.  Find something in your life that is not such a damn contrivance!

But, the best part of this all, I’m saving for the end.  My friend Michelle did a quick bit of Interwebs research, herself, and located THIS.  So, I leave it with you as a parting gift, that Mr. Rohr’s persona as a “I really don’t care that much about this stuff” is all basically a construct, and it only demonstrates that he earnestly does.  What would he be without it?

OMG, They’re Going to Keep Breeding! February 11, 2009

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This post started last week as a general comment on that whack job (I hear that’s a clinical term) in California that had eight babies, but that clusterfrak is now saved for another day.  I was just flipping through the channels and came across the following program, which inspired fear, revulsion, and made me understand the phrase “Holy Terror” for the first time in my life: A Very Duggar Wedding.  If you don’t know who the Duggars are, they are the “fundamentalist” family that has now has 18 children.  Momma Duggar says she’ll stop having children when God stops getting her pregnant.  Now, I learned in 5th grade what makes you pregnant, and, as far as I was taught, God was only directly involved once.  These people are flat out batsh*t crazy because modern life and medicine provide us lots of ways to AVOID IT.  But, no, not these people. Oh, and they home school them…but not in a correspondence-course sort of way in which they have to pass tests that actually prepare them for the world.  No.  Just in the ways of the Bible and scripture and such.  I am all in favor of spirituality, but not at the expense of basic Math and English skills.  Ugh.

Not only have they now had 18 children that they can afford and house comfortably because TLC gave them a TV show, but the oldest one, a boy, is GETTING FREAKING MARRIED!!!  “So, they have managed to brainwash and rope some poor girl into this sh*tshow,” was my first thought.  But, what made my stomach turn was that this woman looks like one of the kid’s sisters.  They all have that stringy/curly “fundamentalist” hair and extremely figure-unflattering clothing – you know what I’m talking about.  I just want to make sure you all have this image.  Their wedding program marching all those kids down the aisle looks more like my kingergarten commencement announcement, which had about 20 kids.  So, basically, now that you have the picture, let’s think about what we can expect from this couple – the epitome of sophistication and intellectual interest in the world?

I doubt it.  Probably another 18-20 kids.  I mean, seriously.  Does the world really need that many people?  Oh, and by the way, they are now talking about no dancing and no booze at the wedding.  OMG!  What the hell is the point, otherwise?!  No one cares about the wedding.  It is a frightening reminder of all those wedding receptions in the fellowship hall of a Southern Baptist church my mother dragged me to as a child.  (Sorry, this is turning into a bit of a “live blog.”)  The mom, describing the bride’s maids dresses, called them “modest.”  We all know that means some horrid tent-like frock made out of fake satin.  I mean, this really can’t get any worse.  ONE woman actually took the time to straighten her hair, and the others are ADDING curls.

So, on to this horrid experiment in social irresponsibility.  Years and years and years ago, even as recently as early last century, people needed lots of kids to do the chores, tend the farms, etc… in the hope that a few of them survived into adulthood.  But, we are in an age where the world is on the brink of over-population.  If I weren’t so incensed, I would do some research to determine the percentage of the world that lives under the poverty line and is malnourished or cannot dig up food from the desolate land they live in.  Our food supply is dangerously tainted, and the U.S.’s role as the world’s bread basket will be coming to a shocking end much sooner than later.  Yet, you have these people, the woman in California that now has 14 kids she can’t support, the Jon and Kate Plus 8 freaks (why do we keep giving these people TV shows?!?!?), all the fundamentalist LDS people out in Texas and Nevada and Utah, and no telling how many others who are only adding to the madness through fertility treatments or NOT KNOWING WHEN TO STOP.

I won’t call these people stupid, but they certainly lack an intellectual capacity to realize what damage they are doing to their children and to the world.  Not a single one of these children is going to be adequately emotionally prepared to live in this world.  If we had not been celebretizing these freak shows, they would all be malnourished and living off state support, much like the 14 kids in California are going to have to be.  That woman doesn’t even  have enough house to fit the six children she already has.

THIS is what President Obama was talking about when he is encouraging personal and social responsibility.  We do not live in a world where we are struggling to survive because there are too few of us.  Quite the opposite, there are too MANY of us, and we are going to choke ourselves if we don’t stop.  It’s time to stop and think and realize that we can’t all be sociopaths, not if we want our species to survive.

Holy shit!!  They have written into their marriage vows a promise to let God determine the timing and number of each child!  Birth control is NOT an abomination, people!!!!  I think my head is going to explode, soon.

Okay, so they’re married, now.  I’m going to dig out some sherbet and Sprite and make some punch to toast them with.  Or maybe I’ll break open the emergency bottle and drink myself into a stupor.

NEW UPDATE – They WAITED to have their first KISS until they got married!!!!  This has to be the most bizarre shit I’ve ever heard!!!

I’m going to need an extra emergency bottle.

Shut Up, Sweet Charlotte January 26, 2009

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For all you theatre people out there that also love old movies, southern gothic, and drag queens, this is the show for you.  And, yes, you know how well all of those things go together.  Shut Up, Sweet Charlotte, is playing at the 14th Street playhouse in Atlanta, and you do not have to have seen the movie on which it was based, Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte.  If you have seen ANY Bette Davis movie and know that Olivia de Haviland (Melanie from Gone With The Wind) plays Miriam, that is pretty much all you need to enjoy this.

It stars Varla Jean Merman, a wonderful drag queen and actress out of *New York*, as Miriam.  She has also appeared in Girls Will Be Girls (another must-see movie, if you have not seen it) as the young ingenue.  But, Ricky Graham, playing the role of Charlotte, absolutely NAILS Bette Davis.   The show is absolutely hysterical.  It is only playing from Wednesday of this week through Saturday the 31st, so I would get your tickets NOW.

The play parallels the movie, except with drag queens playing the lead roles.  Actually, even the Sheriff is a gender-bender.  It takes the noir/gothic quality of the movie and turns it on its ear as only camp drag can, and it WORKS!

Tonight’s showing, benefitting Joining Hearts, was only about half full, but I would guess that it will get much more popular by next weekend.  So, if you are looking for something fresh, and a real treat for Atlanta, I encourage you to go and see this production.  Enjoy!

Talkin’ ’bout My Generation January 21, 2009

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Today’s inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States is staggering and historical for so many reasons.  So many others have and will address the significance of today’s events, down to each and every last detail.  I would prefer to leave the detailed analysis and examination of each and every nuance to the pundits, historians, and soothsayers.  But, being me, there is no way I can let this day go without any comment at all.

Many have noted not only a political and social shift, but that President Obama’s (I’m never going to tire of typing that) election and inauguration signals a generational shift in American, and, we hope, global, politics.  When the helicopter lifted off carrying ‘W.’, no longer “The President,” off into the cold, D.C. afternoon, not only did many of us breathe a sigh of relief, but it also more than likely spirited away the last elected “Baby Boomer” president.  ….And the world heaves a collective sigh of relief.  More on that later.

My favorite morning show, ‘Morning Joe’ on MSNBC, had Colin Powell as a guest this morning.  They also had Tom Brokaw.  One of Joe’s regular cadre of journalists and pundits, Mike Barnacle, noted that Tom Brokaw wrote “The Greatest Generation” and was a Baby Boomer and that Colin Powell was part of the “Greatest Generation,” and there as this great love fest over them.  And, then, Colin Powell noted something about this new generation and these “kids” that got President Obama elected, at least that was the implication, that did not remember the original  Gulf War.

Now, I’m not certain how old they think our new President is, but he was born in 1961 – he’s 47.  President Obama is a Gen-Xer.  According to Wikipedia, the standard definition for “Generation X” is those born from 1961 through 1981 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generation_x).  Yes, it is a broad range of people, but, basically, we are the children of the Baby Boomers, and there aren’t that many of us.  But, there are some commonalities among us.  We are likely the first generation that does not perform statistically better than our parents, economically.  We are generally considered a “Reactionary” generation, and we are also the products of two very long-living generations.

None of us  has really had to lead.  May of us have still-living grandparents, and they finally let go of the reigns as late as 10-15 years ago.  Our parents picked them up.  They are also still around, and, until today, still held the keys to the highest office in the land.  Look around the Board rooms, the partners’ offices, and every other hallway of power in this country, though, and you will likely see someone that looks like your parents.  However, let’s take a look at how their world has turned out.

If you are like me, your parents focused all of your attentions as a child on doing well in school, majoring in something that could get you a job, and finding a job after college.  After that, it was just about working – working to pay the mortgage, to pay for the kids’ college tuition…life was about working.  And, many of us, saw what it did to them.  Dreams lost and abandoned long ago, left as driftwood along the shore as they approached their 40s.

They call us the “slacker” generation or the “me” children of the 80s, but aren’t we just products of our parents?  Doesn’t it seem that their generation, of which our last president is a great symbol, seemed to just make it up as they went, constantly telling us they knew what was best?  There was so little taught about service, about coming together to work together and solve problems.  They somehow instilled in themselves and tried to pass on a silent but palpable fear of those that were “better.”

We are not slackers.  We have a president of our generation.  Now, it is time to lead.  This is our moment in time.  Their ways do not work, and have fractured the world even more than before.  It is our job to put it back together.  Like the President requested today, we must set ourselves into action.  We must be responsible for ourselves and our neighbors.  We must shuck off our selfishness and single-mindedness.  We have been waiting and complaining and begging for it to be our turn.  Here it is.  Grab on to it, and lend a hand.

The Lord saw it, and said it was Good. January 13, 2009

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****FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO ARE FANS OF AS THE WORLD TURNS, DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER IF YOU HAVE NOT WATCHED TODAY’S EPISODE*****

They finally did it!  There have been gay soap characters before, but there was never a first kiss until Luke and Noah in 2007.  That was over a year and a half ago.  In the meantime, all sorts of soap opera-y shenanigans have gone on and kept them apart.  Today, though, today they finally “did it.”  I think this qualifies as a huge gay media moment.  Two of the cutest boys in daytime unmistakably got it on.

Before any eight of you reading this start thinking I’ve gone off the deep end of living in some crazy fantasy world, think about guilty pleasures and what they can bring us.  Before we all devolved into pits of hopelessness and emotional waste with jaded unrealized expectations bubbling up through our insides.  There was something better, something sweeter, and something a little old-fashioned.  The question remains, do we have to all really be jaded, suspicious queens?

Remember your first boyfriend, your first love…your first time?  There is no rule that someone can’t make you feel like a teenager, again.  Only our own insecurities, baggage, and history can prevent that if we let it.  I, personally, think that there is something to be said for being old-fashioned, waiting until maybe a few dates in before going at it, instead of going at it and then thinking, hey, maybe we should go on a date.  I really think that romance is a lost art, and we all could use getting back to it a little.  Sure, I know the argument that why should we, as gay men and women, follow the same rules as straight people always have when they are so adamant about not letting us participate?  Maybe it’s not about them.  Maybe it’s about taking ourselves seriously, for once, developing some self-respect, and learning that maybe, just maybe, we all deserve to find and be with someone special…someone that makes us feel young and scared and just a little giddy all over again.

For a video recap of today’s episode, you can go here: http://www.afterelton.com/blog/dennis/nuke-update-video-clip-01-12-09

For a HYSTERICAL liveblog of the episode (seriously, this is some funny shit): http://www.afterelton.com/blog/brianjuergens/liveblogging-as-the-world-turns-supernana

We Are Partially to Blame for Prop 8 November 10, 2008

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There has been a lot of news coverage of the protests in California regarding the passage of Proposition 8.  This morning I received a Facebook message about a march on Saturday afternoon, which is a day of solidarity against Prop 8.  The pundits, talking heads, law school professors, political science junkies, pollsters, and anyone the media can line up to put in front of a camera are eager to disect and deconstruct how the proposition passed.  Was it the African American vote and high turnout for Obama, or was it the predominantly Catholic Hispanics, or how much did Focus on the Family or the Mormons effectively warp the meaning of the proposition and the prior ruling the California Supreme Court?  It is my guess that no single one of those things or voting groups was responsible for the passage of Prop 8, but everyone, us included, contributed to it.  (As a side note, David Gergen chided Cynthia Tucker on This Week yesterday for playing Identity Politics, so the above does not express my beliefs, but those ideas that have been floated for Tuesday’s result in California.  See also, here: http://network.nationalpost.com/np/blogs/fullcomment/archive/2008/11/09/colby-cosh-minorities-at-war-on-obamaland-s-western-shore.aspx )

What is achingly true is that in the hope, optimism, and excitement of Tuesday about what the United States of America had just done, the majority of voters in the country’s most progressive and accepting state, and the voters of Florida and Arizona, had, like many others before them, told gay people that we do not deserve to get married because of who we fall in love with. 

Our initial reaction is, who do we blame?  In a country that has supposedly turned a corner regarding what really matters about a person, how could this happen?  Which group voted against us?  Why do the churches hate us?  …And then the next instinct is to criticize.  Those stupid [insert whatever first derogatory comment comes to your head, here].  Those close-minded bigots.  Those  hateful, awful people.  Well, we are better without them.  We don’t need them. 

But, the inexorable truth stares us in the face is that we DO need them.  We need them if we hope to ever be treated as equal citizens in our society.  We do need them if we want our families and relationships recognized by our government as just as valid and important and real as those of our heterosexual bretheren.  We need them to pick up our banner, because, like everything else in politics, it’s all just a numbers game.  We need “them” all – straight, men, women, latino, latina, black, Asian, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Agnostic, Atheist…everyone we can think of.  While we have drawn many forward-thinking, progressive people to our side, we still do not have the numbers.  We have to find and enlist those that would be sympathetic to our cause(s) and educate them.  We have to show everyone why we are just as American and boring and normal and plain as every other American.  When considering who to “blame” for Proposition 8, we need to take a long, hard look at what happens when we point a finger at someone else – three fingers are pointed back at us.

So, here we are, a week removed, and there is protesting and demonstrating and complaining and sorrow and anger after the fact that should have been the motivation BEFORE the election.  What’s done is done.  Although the state of the approximately 18,000 couples married in California during the interim period starting with the California Supreme Court ruling in May will come before a court, the actual reversal of Proposition 8 is highly unlikely.  The voters have spoken, and elected officials and even courts are loathe to overturn the will of the people once clearly expressed. 

We have to move forward.  We have to take a long, hard look at ourselves and figure out what to do next.  Sure, we can scream, but how much will that accomplish?  We have to get to work.  We have to get to work on an all-inclusive ENDA.  We have to get to work at the state and local levels for additional protections that say we can’t be fired from our jobs or removed from where we live simply for being gay (these laws still exist in a frightneningly high number of places around this country).  The most oft-cited civil rights-era case synonymous to the gay marriage fight is Loving v. Virginia, which overturned prohibitions agasint inter-racial marriage.  Loving was decided in 1967, three years after the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  It took years of struggle for African Americans to get equal rights on paper before that case was decided.  We have a very long way to go for, simply, the basic rights and protections achieved by other minority groups.  Actually, to think of it, we have to get ourselves thought of as a minority.

As the leader of the Log Cabin Republicans said after the ’04 win by Bush, we have to come out if we want things to change.  If we ever want our voices heard and to be taken seriously, we have to come out to our families, our co-workers, our friends, neighbors…everyone.  You have to come out because when those that voted for Proposition 8 realize they have gay cousins, neighbors, co-workers, fellow members of the PTA, etc…, they will start to think.  They will have a face to put with “those people.”  They will realize that our lives are just as normal and boring every other day of the year as theirs are.  We go to work, we pay our bills, we put gas in the car.

We also have to get organized.  Yes, the anti-marriage community, strongly funded by religious fundamentalists, poured millions into this fight, and they won.  They got their message early, they got their fundraising, and they used fear.  Our side assumed, wrongly, that, hey, it’s California, everything will be fine.  That started changing in August and September when the polls started going a little sideways.  At that point, we had already lost.  We don’t need to continue waiting for the other side to organize to provide us with a reason to respond or take action.  We need to organize and come up with our own message.  But, we have to start small. 

We also have to stop tearing each other down.  As gay men, we have a terrible habit of separating ourselves, even from each other…bears, otters, black, white, asian…look around you sometime.  If we ever hope to be included and have equality in society, we cannot expect to get it without demonstrating a LOT of acceptance of our own.  (Ask yourself, and I am as guilty of this as anyone else, how many times you’ve heard the words, “what is THAT?!” come out of your mouth when looking at a particular fashion choice.)  That also includes between gay men and lesbians.  Sure, there is some inter-mingling, but precious little.  Also, ask yourself how many transgendered people you know.  We have to become a true community. 

There is an enormous degree of selfishness in our community as well.  It may cut into 15 or 20 minutes of gym time, but there is a need for us to meet as a community and start determining how we can best educate the broader community in which we live that we are not the boogiemen and women coming after children every night.  I’m sure many of us can forego that extra $50 (or more) shirt to contribute to a gay-friendly political candidate or local and state-level equality movements.  We also have to realize that the fight is not about us as individuals.  I have had numerous arguments, one of them on election night, with a friend that does not care about gay marriage because it does not affect him and because he does not believe marriage should exist in the first place.  After calling him a Republican for his “me” attitude, I mentioned that it does not matter whether or not he wants to get married or has someone to marry, what matters is that somewhere out there, two men or two women want to marry each other,  commit their lives to each other, and have that union recognized by the government and receive the same rights that heterosexuals couples receive.  As long as those couples are not allowed that right, then there is injustice against all of us. 

As the finger analogy goes, for every finger than we can point at everyone that voted for Prop 8 in California (or Prop 2 in Florida or Prop 101(?) in Arizona), we need to take a serious look at the three that point back at each of us.  If we want to change direction, it’s going to take time, and it’s going to take work.  We have to come together, we have to start taking ourselves seriously, and we have to start doing the hard work to fight for and solidify rights for ourselves all over the country, and for each and every aspects of our lives.  And if we want to enjoy the rights of society as a whole, we have to start acting like a community of our own.  We have to court and include broader society in our lives because we need their votes.  We are no longer an island.  If we want to make the argument to have our voices heard and our lives and relationships and families treated equally, we have to give up this “us v. the world” mentality, and realize that we are part of the world, and we need their help.

Easy Like Sunday Morning… September 14, 2008

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Good morning.  So, in the interest of this actually being a blog, I am blogging.  I am up watching the Sunday morning news shows, but, unfortunately, they’re not saying anything other than the campaign talking points.  All I really want is someone to say, “Obama’s winning, again.”

Now Carly Fiorina is throwing out “ageism.”  She was my VP at Lucent when I was there…then she got booted from HP…um, not a real reliable source.

I will just sum up the weekend so far.  Trial. Prep. Sucks.  We go to trial on Monday, so everything is nuts.  I worked most of yesterday, but did get to catch a bit of the GT v. VT game.  😦  (We gotta work on the turnovers, and stupid penalties don’t help.)  Friday night, I worked until 9:30 and watched Happy Feet.  I am turning old and boring, and I don’t like it.  Damn, I’m John McCain!

So the highlight of the weekend was seeing the Indigo Girls last night – brilliant, moving…almost a religious experience.

Today I need to go into the office, so that pretty much sucks.  Maybe I’ll get fired up over something else, but I wanted to make sure I was actually “blogging” for those of you that said I was not updating often enough.  🙂

Have a great day, all 2 (maybe) of you!

 

UPDATE: The Tina Fey/Amy Poehler Palin/Hillary news conference is posted on NBC.com.  OMG.  Must. Watch.  And I really don’t care what they say or how they say it in Alaska…that accent is annoying!