Thursday, May 31, 2012

Game On (Book Review: The Boyfriend Game by Stephie Davis)

"The Boyfriend Game" is a cute, short read. I have been reading some YA things recently. Sometimes when you get to be as old as I, you long for days of youth and I may be going through a reminiscing phase lately - not that I had the same experience as this story, mind you. Trisha, the main character in this novel, is a teenager whose biggest goal of the moment is getting into the Varsity Soccer team, and she isn't really interested in boys. That is, until she meets Graham, who helps her train. They spend afternoons together, playing soccer together, and well, you can guess what happens next. The story is paced pretty well, and the characters are believable, if chaste and wholesome. You don't have to use your brain to fully appreciate this book, you just have to have a heart.


Monday, May 28, 2012

Retirement Passage To India (Film Review: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel)

On Memorial Day, there are two kinds of people: those who watch "Men In Black 3," and those who choose "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel." I belong to the latter breed. This movie isn't Shakespeare (although most of the cast have done Shakespeare) and it is light and quite predictable, but it is a master class for great acting. Even if some of the situations in here are quite unbelievable, the actors are so natural that you go along with it, and in the end you are satisfied with the journey. I have seen this movie described as "Real World: India for Senior Citizens" and that is quite a snarky - but true - description  of the film. Seven strangers move from London to Jaipur,  and they bring along baggage fron their past lives. The most affecting story goes to Graham (Tom Wilkinson) who goes back in search of his old love, recalling a time when he was by a river and thinking of a time "when he was happiest." Dame Judi Dench is vulnerable here, playing a widow who finds a fourth wind in her life. Bill Nighy and Penelope Wilton play a couple whose life savings were squandered by their daughter for a dot-com venture, and Dame Maggie Smith plays the quintessential Maggie Smith character: the fussy British. Every scene is a marvel, especially when they get to interact with each other. It is funny that the script doesn't really call for much "characterization" but each actor brings such uniqueness in them that each ones feel different - and real. I loved the first half of the film, with the exposition. The second half limps, as stories are tried to wrap up instantly. You can take your guns and aliens with you, I will have my tea and crumpets in India. 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Producer (Book Review: Showbiz by Ruby Preston)

I am a big Broadway fan so I was very eager to read "Showbiz," by Ruby Preston. My friend Melissa Amster from Chick Lit Central recommended me to the author for a review of the book, because she knows of my affinity for The Great White Way. I started reading it, without knowing anything about it besides its setting. I had initially thought it would be some kind of modern romance novel, but it is more a light mystery. No big deal - Preston is good at keeping the action going with short chapters and quick pacing. It is a short read, but a lot of things happen. However, some of the plot do not fully work. I had to suspend a lot of my disbelief for a lot of plot twists, but that is not a big deal - this isn't investigative reporting. Even though the characters are likable enough, they were just a hairline away from being two-dimensional. A couple of them change motivations too quickly, and we do not really have an idea why. It did give me a glimpse as to what producing for Broadway was like. As a fan, I don't really know too much from the production side. "Showbiz" is a fun beach/pool read, and you don't even have to be a fan of theater to enjoy it. 


Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Mellow Touch (Music Review: Rita Wilson, AM/FM)

Some of the best vacations I have taken have been the ones where I have doen nothing. My friends and I used to go to this small house in Truro, next to Provincetown, Massachusetts. I remember just lounging by the bay, letting time pass, letting spirit rest. I am reminded by that feeling while I listen to Rita Wilson's album "AM/FM," a collection of songs from the mid to late 70s. I call this kind of music "Mellow Touch."  Before the dawn of Lite-FM, there was the mellow touch - where songs of current singer/songwriters used to thrive. That music had a little more weight than softened versions of pop hits. Rita Wilson apparently loved that musical era, two, which, I believe spawned a second great area of The Great American Songbook. Miss Wilson sings in a sweet, unaffected, honest voice. There is no strain, and she has nothing to prove so she just sings the songs - no melisma, no pyrotechnics needed. It really is a revelation when you just the music speak for itself. I was totally besotted from the first song, "All I Have To Do Is Dream" with Chris Cornell on harmonic vocals with her. Then song after song, sweetness just sweeps, but it is never too saccharine. I think of it as perfect summer afternoon music - let it be your atmosphere as you look at a bay, an ocean, a mountain, an opened fire hydrant in the middle of an urban street. It recalls a more innocent, cynic-free era. I loved the slow-burn version of "Love Has No Pride," the tender promise of "never My Love," the chill of Joni Mitchell's "river." I am sure people long lost feelings of love with her version of "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow." This is not an album that will grab you right away - it is best listened to slowly to let it simmer. 

Friday, May 25, 2012

We'll Never Belong Together (Film Review: W/E)

I was truly expecting the worst in W.E., which people mostly describe as Madonna's directorial feature debut (she had previously directed a documentary) because so many people have written and said horrible things about it. I have to confess I knew very little about the real story behind "one of the greatest love stories of all time," that of Wallis Simpson and Prince Edward VII besides the fact that he gave up his throne for her. It's a story ready-made for a great movie. Sadly, after seeing the movie, I know not much more, and that is its biggest flaw. I wish I could have seen what made them tick, what attracted them to each other, what combusted their chemistry. their story, framed with a parallel modern-day story, seemed diluted. Andrea Risebrough tries hard to get a human out of her character, but as written here, it seemed dead on arrival. And James D'Arcy seemed miscast as the Prince. He looks the part, but is so wan that it doesn't seem believable that Wallis would be obsessed with him. I wish the latter day storyline was more interesting, but it was, frankly, boring. It doesn't help that Abbie Cornish looks as bored as the audience, and doesn't generate any heat with her partner, played by Oscar Isaac. (Its not helping that hunk as he is, he is about half a foot shorter than her) I knew what Madonna was trying to do, but she got bogged down by her own ambition. I wish she had just abandoned her art house aspirations and just gave it to us straight. She has a great vision, and good taste - the costumes, the make-up, and especially the music is quite good. As it is, though, the movie looks like a little princess dressed for the ball with nowhere to go. That said, though, the movie isn't really as bad an effort as people make it out to be. I definitely have seen worse first efforts, and I would gladly take this over some of the overhyped commercial fare we get nowadays. 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Don't Hold The Bun (Television Review: Bunheads)

I have been experiencing SMASH withdrawals, and I think I have found the next best thing. ABC Family has a new series coming out in June called BUNHEADS, and it stars the glorious Multi Tony awardee Sutton Foster, so I thought, well she has Broadway roots so why not? I don't think I have ever watched anything on ABC Family before, and I guess now is as good time to start as any. This series was created by Amy Sherman Palladino, of Gilmore Girls fame. I never watched that show either, but I do know it has a huge following, some from people whose taste I admire. Sutton here stars as Michele, who was a Broadway Chorus girl turned Las Vegas Showgirl, who is experience career crisis when she quickly marries this man (named Hubble, hello Barbra!) and moves to this oceanside small town. It's a town so small even the local movie theater closed. It was such a quick thing she did not even have time to pack a suitcase, but she still attempts to start a new life. The caveat? He lives with his mother, played by Kelly Bishop. She runs a dance studio, and used to be a ballet dancer herself. I can see that this series may be more dance oriented than anything else, and Sutton, of course, is a great dancer, as evidenced by her performances in "The Drowsy Chaperone," and "Anything Goes." I thought the whole premise was quite interesting, and there's a twist in the end that was unexpected. (I didn't see it coming) It's all exposition, and I guess to make it more interesting for the ABC Family demographic, they introduced four female tween students, who I suspect will make a lot more appearances in the future. My one problem? Sutton's character is supposed to be this great beauty, when Sutton,a s talented as she is, for me is more a brainy, interesting type, physically anyway. But he carries it well, and I thought she showed great acting chops. This has potential to get really good - the writing is excellent - and I hope Kelly Bishop's character gives the show a little sour in all its sweet. I'll be watching. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Read What Happened (Book Review: Most Talkative by Andy Cohen)

So confession time: I *love* Watch What Happens Live, which is the almost-nightly talk show on Bravo hosted by Andy Cohen - I think it's fun, it's sassy, it's so gay it will make your eyeballs hurt. But Andy Cohen? I am conflicted. Sure, I have to commend him on changing the reality TV climate with the Housewives series, but sometimes his instigator/what-me-instigate? schtick can be annoying. But I was interested enough to read his memoir, "Most Talkative: Stories from the front lines of Pop Culture."  And you know what? it was entertaining. I kind of like that he does not take himself too seriously, and he weaves a web of stories that are interesting. His self-deprecating tone is just right, I never felt it was too put-on. I wasn't expecting anything deep in it, and I didn't get any. While I don't think he is a genius - he is a privileged rich boy who has great ideas - I respect his commitment to his craft. After all that, there really isn't anything more to add. If you like and follow the Housewives series, you will appreciate the story of how the franchise was created. I liked the stories of his interactions with celebrities, like Oprah, Diana Ross, and his inspiration, Susan Lucci. The book is a quick read - grabbing it on the way to the beach can't hurt you much. 


Sunday, May 20, 2012

Expect The Expected (Film Review: What To Expect When You're Expecting)

I don't know if I am liking this trend of movies based on self-help books, but I suspect there will be more. "Think Like A Man" was a surprise box-office success, and now we get "What To Expect When You Are Expecting," which, I know is a must-read for when you are pregnant.  This is a smorgasbord movie, made up of five story lines interwoven with each other - all revolving couples who are expecting. Cameron Diaz plays a fitness trainer who gets pregnant while on a Dancing With The Stars type show (by her partner, played by Matthew Morrison)  Elizabeth is a book-store owner who has a difficult pregnancy, as her father-in-law declares that his wife is pregnant as well. And Jennifer Lopez goes through an ordeal of an adoption process of a baby from Ethiopia, and a young couple (Anna Kendrick and Chase Crawford) gets pregnant after a one-night stand. It's all nice and straightforward, and Elizabeth Banks shines most as a neurotic pregnant woman. I have an irrational dislike for Diaz and I surprisingly am not too upset with her here. And of course, Jennifer Lopez has a physical-pregnancy-free story - the diva cannot be photographed fat, after all. It's been only a couple of hours since I saw the movie, and I don't much remember a lot from it. I laughed at all the right places, but i suspect this movie will resonate more with people who have gone through similar situations. I just am not this movie's target market, and that's fine. I wish it well, and actually welcome it from as counter programming from all the comic book action packed Summer Blockbusters. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Rentboy Manhunt

I don't really read a lot of mysteries, but I know a lot of older people do. So, as I realize I am aging, I said I might as well go with the flow and read some. A long while back, I got "Second You Sin" free from Amazon, and I just read it. I loved it. Maybe it's because it's really not much of a mystery novel. It's a gay love story, a gay in the city story, with a side of a mystery. The mystery part is pretty lame: someone is killing rent boys in the city, who could be doing it? I can say I spotted the killer a mile away, and it was pretty tedious to see it unfold. However, Sherman has given us a very likeable character in Kevin Connor - he is witty, smart, and pretty erudite that you will not mind spending time with him. Who would have thought he could extract a sympathetic character from a male prostitute? But he has, and the situations he put himself into were hilarious, and Sherman has also assembled a cast of characters that are vivid and charming. I especially loved Kevin's mom who owns her own salon in Long Island (Sophie's Choice Tresses) and how she handled a homophobic daytime talk show host. I kind of  wished the supporting characters wouldn't just disappear, but then I found out this is the second of a series so I think they are probably recurring characters. Now I have the mind to go read the first of the series. The book reminded me of those novels from the 90s that I used to read by folks like Robert Rodi and Michael Feinberg. This is cute and sweet, even with the stale mystery. 


All Mighty Hiris

It's not only until I fell in love with Dior Homme that I realized I love iris. I never paid much attention to it before, and I thought the note always smelled like cardboard. Then I went through a phase when I could not get enough of it. I remember when L'Artisan Iris Padilla was hard to find, I got a decant of it and was so scared to use it for fear I would run out of it. Then I discovered Hermes Hiris, and I thought to myself, I have now discovered the perfect iris for me. Ironically, it's from 1999, and created by one of my favorite noses, Olivia Giacobetti. She made this before I discovered her, before I got obsessed with perfume and realized I loved almost everything by her. Hiris is the perfect description of a Gicaobetti creation - it's ethereal, it's sheer, it envelopes you like a chiffon scarf. For some reason, the visual I get for this scent when I am wearing it is of me walking the rainy streets of Paris, with the steely and cold air whipping my hair. Hiris has a cold iris note - it's a big blast in the beginning, but it softens on me, and the drydown is quite sweet: iris and florals and some aquatic honey something. On my shirt, it smells like a bouquet. (I imagine holding a floral bouquet while I look at the Seine) It's such an elegant scent, and that's why it works as a male scent, too - Dior Homme has more cedar and a lot more cardboard and just as loved by me. Hiris is one of my Top 10 scents of all time, and I hope to never be out of it for the rest of my life. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

European Flats

Oh, how I wanted to love Marilyn Brant's "A Summer In Europe."  In theory, it had everything I love in a book: a love story, a setting that's magical and romantic, a contemplative tone. The novel is set all over Europe, in places I have loved, like Rome, Florence, Venice, London. It even excites me that it also features some places I will be visiting soon, like Budapest, and Vienna. But I think it is just one of those things. I gave the book more than a million chances - it took me three weeks to finish it and as I turned a page (well, metaphorically, as I read it on my Kindle) I kept on hoping it would get better, and for me, it just never did. I thought the main character, Gwen, was a miserable fool, it seemed she was never happy even in some of the most beautiful places in the world. She went on one of those European multi-city bus tours, a la Globus Gateway, and that just seems a little dated nowadays. And she is wooed by these sophisticated Brits who would never go travel in those things. In and out of cities, and I never discovered anything new, and all the characters are as flat as ever. I cannot eve begin to describe how I was so extremely disappointed by this book. 


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Smash Season Finale: You Are My Star

Here we go - I cannot believe that it's already the season finale, and we won't see new episodes until January 2013. I do not know if I can wait that long, I am tearing up just thinking about it. But I am going to try and move on, based on the strength of last night's season finale. I know I slag the show, but I really do love it, and the best thing I love about last night's show is that all the drama was framed around putting on a show. We start with a show that's been fractured because it's lead star has quit - and by the end of the show, we get a rousing number that's so beautiful it erased whatever doubts I had about Kat McPhee being Marilyn. I kind of understand now why she was chosen as Marilyn - she has an innocence and purity that Ivy doesn't have. Ivy's greatest strengths - her polished professionalism - ultimately went against the production team's vision of "Bombshell."  I felt bad for Ivy - she wanted it and she almost had it - and there is a huge part of me that really wanted her to get the role. But - I have accepted Karen now, and appreciate her. And make no doubt, she werrrkkked that last song, "Don't Forget Me," made it shine like the diamond that it is. Marc Shaiman, on his Facebook page, wrote that he and Scott Wittman wrote that song in circumstances not dissimilar to Tom and Julia's. And it is a beautiful song that perfectly capped this season. I guess I should we should not have been surprised that Karen got the role: from the very start, they were framing her for it: she has the natural talent, the look, and let's face it, she is the star of the show. I resisted it - mainly because Hilty stole every scene she was in - but I am at peace with it now. (It's a little ironic that the day after Megan Hilty got raves for playing a Marilyn role on Gentlemen Prefer Bloondes at Encores!, she loses this Marilyn role)  As for the other story lines - I am glad Ellis was fired, and also that Michael's wife has left him, but I still don't know how I feel about the "Julia is pregnant" storyline. (Apparently, there is a scene that was cut where they show her taking a pregnancy test and seeing it positive)  I hope Ivy didn't take those pills. But I have heard major changes for next year, and if they are to be believed, there is a major shake up in the cast and direction of the series. I will wait, and judge then, but right now I just want to bask in the glow of last night's memory - Smash, You Are My Star. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Broadway With A Twist(ed)

Who says showtunes aren't adaptable? Who would have ever thought that Dee Snider, front man of Twisted Sister, would ever release an album of Broadway songs? Well, as Sondheim said, you gotta have a gimmick. I have listened to this album two times now, ad I still don't know how I feel about it. It is louder than anything I have on my music library, first of all. I am not really a big fan of the shout-is-more school of singing, so there were moments when I just felt so overwhelmed by this here. But, he seems to have brought some Broadway cred here. I mean, he was able to lure Patti Freakin Lupone to do guest vocals in a duet of "Tonight/Somewhere" from West Side Story. And in the weirdest of senses, the track works. There is certainly a showcase of theatrics there that just gels. Other guest vocalists include Bebe Nuewirth in "Whatever Lola Wants," (she kind of gets lost in there) and Clay Aiken (!) in "Luck Be A Lady." (that was just bizarre) There certainly is a wink-wink vibe here, what with the cast of Priscilla Queen Of The Desert singing "There Is Nothin' Like A Dame." But strange as the tracks sound, though, he brings new shadings to songs like "Cabaret," and "Music Of The Night.' There is actually such energy in how he sings "the Ballad Of Sweeney Todd" that takes that song to another dimension. Whether it works or not, the jury is still out. One thing is for certain, I don't know if I could listen to this album again in one sitting - it felt so exhausting to go through all the noise that I found myself wanting pure silence afterwards.

Once Upon A Love

Sometimes, the only thing a musical needs is...heart. You don't need turntable stages, or elaborate sets, or chandeliers or superheroes. ONCE just has a pub. As a matter of fact, before the show and during intermission, theatergoers can mingle with the cast on stage in a pub setting, enhancing the intimate feel of the piece. And this is as intimate a piece as it gets. Based on the 2006 indie movie, this show started Off-Broadway and became an instant hit, that the move uptown was inevitable. I did not get to see its smaller incarnation, but the one at Bernard B. Jacobs Theater has a heart that is nothing but small - it fills the whole space and you are smack in the middle of it, that when it bleeds, you hold the blood in your hands. Ever since I saw the show, I have been playing its anchor song, "Falling Slowly," at least once a day, and each time I peel a layer from it and see and feel something new, as the memory of the show has lingered in me since that night. It's been a slow churn, too. When I saw the show, I appreciated it, but I was caught up in several moments that I only truly appreciated it as I thought about it more, and after. First, I have been thinking more and more about Christine Milotti's performance - about how it is a little showy, but is really the heart of the piece. It touches me how she shows pain and suffering to be instruments to bringing art and hope to someone who has given up on life. Steve Kazee bares his soul so raw and he is such a presence that I was unable to look at him, his pain so real it was like seeing someone with their guts hanging out from pain. The two of them such deep-seeded chemistry that I cannot believe they are not together in real life. The book by Enda Walsh fleshes out a thin story without stretching, and the music, a mixture of originals (by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova) is perfectly fit to the fable-like feel of the story. I am not alone on my love of this show - it got eleven Tony nominations. I always say that my favorite art are the ones that touch me and make me feel love - this show is the poster child for that feeling. 

Try to resist crying after hearing this:


Saturday, May 12, 2012

Not Too Brad

I wasn't expecting too much from "Born To Be Brad: My Life And Style So Far," as far as deep writing was concerned. I knew it would be fluff, and it was, but it was kind of deep as well. It wasn't deep-dee-, but it dug enough. Was it Thoreau who said that in order for you to write, you need to live. I guess I pigeonholed Brad Goreski as one of those shallow media personalities, and he kind of is, but the good thing is that he has no pretense about who he is. This book is mostly a memoir of his life, thus far. He grew up in a suburb of Toronto, and knew he was gay at a very young age. We get the usual story: he plays with barbie dolls, his father throws them away, his grandmother buys him more in secret. He gets hooked in drugs and alcohol (and a toxic relationship) after college, and then hits rock bottom and has been sober since. he aso tells his story of how he rose from being an intern at Vogue and then working for its Los Angeles office before working as Rachel Zoe's assistant, then coming to his own. I only very fleetingly saw the Rachel Zoe show, but on a Saturday marathon sat through some episodes of "It's A Brad Brad World," so I kind of know his latter story. I thought this was thoughtfully written, enough to keep my attention. I never got bored with it. I had little use for some of his tips, like how to choose a little black dress, or his favorite restaurants in New York City. But, a lot of the people who bought this book probably appreciated it more. I wish there were more about his relationship with the writer Gary Jannetti, but he may be saving that for another book. All in all, this is a good summer read, and of course the underlying message he touts: "Be Yourself," is always a good thing.


Vetiver Just There

As a lover of scents, I always say that no fine lover of perfume should be without Guerlain Vetiver: it is the master of all vetiver scents, and s the yardstick that is measured against all others. But even though I love it, it isn't my favorite vetiver of all time (that would be MPG Rue de Vetiver) I tend to like my vetivers on the raw and dirty kind, with some soil and dirt mixed in with it. In 2009, Tom Ford launched Grey Vetiver, and it became a best seller for him. And even though I liked it (and I generally like the Tom Ford house, scent-wise) I never owned it until recently, when I chanced upon a seller selling testers dirt cheap. I had liked it fine when I first sampled it, but never enough to crave a bottle. I have been wearing it all week, and still feel the same. It is a polished, well-rounded, well-blended fragrance. The vetiver is a nice, clean, crisp one. There is a citrus forefront that puts it forward, then it turns sweet (tonka bean?) and has an ambery/oakmoss-y base. It's fine, and I think that may be its biggest fine. I like it, but not in love with it. I could do without it, but feel it's a great addition to my vetiver collection. It's that kind of effortless choice on mornings you can't be bothered to think about what to wear. I used to wear suits and neckties to work, and I kind of think this would have been a perfect choice for that kind of get-up. A lot of people say this is a more modern take on Guerlain Vetiver, and yes, I guess I would agree. It does smell like a "modern classic," which means teh citrus is appealingly synthetic and it's certainly longer lasting, and the sillage is "safe" enough to wear to the workplace. It's the kind of fragrance I wear, and I am happy wearing, but I don't fine myself trying to sniff my arm throughout the day. It's just there, and that's where it is.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Smash Ep14: Nuts

Here we are at the penultimate episode of the first season, and it's rounding up quite nicely. But before anything else, I totally loved Anjelica Houston singing "September Song," it's such a tender and sweet performance that I think it's the most honest musical performance in the series ever, there's more effective acting there than a whole season of McPhee and Hilty. That alone (I hope) should snag her an Emmy nomination. But back to the soapy drama - Ivy and Dev wake up together. Uh-oh, gurl you in danger. They both seem full of remorse, especially after Karen formally "introduces" both of them to each other. On stage, the first previews go on, and I must say miscasting aside, Uma Thurman as Rebecca did not make a bad Marilyn, performing "Let Me Be Your Star" as a solo in Bombshell's opening number. But, horrors of all horrors, they realize that the show's ending is a downer. (Marilyn...dies!) Well, what did they expect? I mean, what other ending can they have? So retrench, retrench for the creative team, and Derek, meanwhile, is still sleeping with Rebecca. "I have to take care of her," he tells Ivy. Well, there you go, a full-service director! Meanwhile, before they can even make changes in the show, Rebecca falls ill: someone has put peanuts in her shake, and her queeny assistant thinks it was an inside job. Well, here is my theory: She has obviously been struggling in the role, and all her insecurities have been coming out. So I think she set herself up. Maybe it was the same queeny assistant who put nuts in the shake, as per her orders, thus giving her an out. In the end, she quits the show. Reality check: can these stars get away with that? I am sure since she is the name star of the show (and I am guessing billed above the title) that the producers have protected themselves from situations such. But, yeah, stupid of me to insert common sense here. We then get to see Karen sing a gospel number with most of the cast in church. Kinda weird, a little out of place, but hey, I am game, and Leslie Odom Jr. was fantastic. And, now,  we are back to where we started. Officially, Karen is the understudy but she doesn't have enough time to learn the whole show. But...Ivy does. So --- who will be your star?

Mostests And The Bestests

I remember when I was in High School and I used to read those Sweet Dreams series, and sometimes I just like to rekindle those days. Maybe because I am now ancient, that I crave how it feels to be young. Melissa Senate's "The Mosts" was effective that way. It is the story of a young woman in High School whose boyfriend moves away,  so she is left to ponder her life, and deal with how her status in her school has changed since she has been un-coupled. It is a quick read - finished it in two hours or so - and Ms. Senate knows how to keep the action going. Of course, Ms. Senate is also the Queen of Chick Lit - she practically started the genre with "See Jane Date."  I liked it a lot, and it was exactly what the doctor ordered last night. I fell asleep with a smile on my face, thinking about the characters falling in, out, and back in love. Oh, if only life were as easy. 


Monday, May 7, 2012

Open Your Heart To Me

I stopped being way too critical about "gay movies" a long time ago because...well, life is short and if I do enjoy one, then fine. If I don't I just shrug and move on. I have seen all the movies in the Eating Out series and damn if I can even remember them. They are like strip shows - you go to a bar, you have a few drinks and you enjoy them, and by the morning it's all a distant memory. So as I put on "Eating Out - The Open Weekend," I have no expectations at all. But I do enjoy them as I watch them - the beefcake is certainly served well-done if almost generic to the point that you cannot distinguish one from the other. The plot int his one is thin - a couple goes to Palm Springs for the weekend, one guy wants to open the relationship, the other goes along even if he is unsure. Of course, exes, fag hags and the like get into the picture. So to speak. I thought this was an entertaining movie, if a bit too young-skewing for my taste. Yes, they are vapid, but have you been to Palm Springs lately? Actually, I haven't been there in twenty five years or so, but I can only imagine. There are no Oliviers here, but on a Saturday night, I found it to be a great diversion. The actors say their lines, look pretty, and disrobe. That's good enough. There is a marriage equality sub-plot that is kinda sweet without being too overtly political, and that's the extent of any kind of intelligence here. But then again, it never aspires to be so. 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

You Love Who You Love

Anna Paquin was just talking about bisexuality the other day in an article. In explaining it, she says:

“I’m someone who believes being bisexual is actually a thing,” she said to Zooey magazine, as reported in Hollywood Life. “It’s not made up. It’s not a lack of decision. It’s not being greedy or numerous other ignorant things I’ve heard at this point. … For a bisexual, it’s not about gender. That’s not the deciding factor for who they’re attracted to.”

I  don't know why there are people who have problems about it. I do think it exists, although I also think it is easier for women to be bisexual because for one, they are more in touch with their feelings, and also, women are typically the one who is "pursued." So I carry those thoughts with me as I read Alex Sanchez's "Boyfriends With Girlfriends," a YA novel about four high school kids: one is gay, one is a lesbian, one is a self-admitted bisexual, and the last one is a straight girl who finds herself attracted to the lesbian. I know my description made it sound more confusing,  but it really is just a simple story about kids dealing with their sexualities and just trying to accept them amidst the usual youth issues of acceptance, peer pressure, and parental restrictions. I thought it was a great story, and it has a great message for its young adult audience. As an older fuddy duddy, I can't help but feel a little enlightened by how today's youth is so unencumbered by sexuality. My generation is certainly more restricting. I find it more and more that for a lot of younger people, sexuality is a fluid thing - what matters most for them is attraction and chemistry. Although the "wise" in me sometimes rolled my eyes at how these kids reacted to situations, I had to keep in mind that these are kids, and their emotional IQs are probably still on its way to maturity. 


Saturday, May 5, 2012


Do you practice Judy-ism? I am not a faithful devotee, but I do believe in her. Maybe it's a generational thing - my diva worshipdom starts with Barbra and Madonna (and all in between) however, the story of Judy Garland - as fascinating as it is - seems to be a story we have all heard before, and we will hear again. Judy Garland, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston - sometimes they all just bend to one cliched story, where an artist cannot contain their own talent, and falls prey to demons. END OF THE RAINBOW tells the story of Judy's demons as it affected her. It's 1968, and she is in London to do a series of "comeback" shows. For the moment, she is clean, but is she? Tracie Bennett doesn't give us an impersonation, she gives us a real human being, and it just happens to be Judy Garland. In all my years of theatergoing, I very rarely see such an exhaustive "complete" performance, and Bennett delivers it. How she gets the stamina to perform the role this way, I will never know, but she is mesmerizing on stage. You cannot take your eyes off her, and the production will not let you, anyway. Perhaps because they know the limitations of the play, they put her front and center at all times, sometimes to distract the written word she is saying. Some people have complained about how she is being portrayed, and some have even said it is false. I don't really know, but I have read some Garland biographies that describe similar stories. They say someone on all those pills should be more lethargic than manic. Judyism fanatics scoff at their idol being portrayed this way. I do think people who only mildly know her story will see her in a more sympathetic light. I would not say that this play is a literary masterpiece, but because of Bennett's performance on that stage, what I saw on stage was exhilarating, depressing, magnetic, and kind of sad - probably just like Judy Garland herself.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Yoga Bore-a

This book, "Tales From The Yoga Studio," was near the bottom of my TBR pile until I found out that its author, Rain Mitchell was the pseudonym for one of my favorite authors, Stephen McCauley, so I dug it up to read right away. I can't believe this was written by him. It was so sluggish, and three quarters in, still not much has happened to any of the characters. To call it disappointing would be such an understatement. Perhaps it's my fault, because I was expecting too much from it. I thought it would be fun eye candy for the brain, with interesting characters that one can relate to. But, he crafted such brain-dead women that I found myself not wanting to spend any time with them. At the very least, I thought it would give me some insight about yoga, a topic I am mildly interested in. I learned nothing, though. I know that this book is a beginning of a series - the second book, "Head Over Heels" just came out - so this whole boo ma be an introduction to these characters. I found none of them worthy of a second visit. I am giving this two stars on Goodreads, but really it's just worth one. The other star is for his other books which I have all loved.


Thursday, May 3, 2012

70, Babs, 70

I cannot think of a music collector who doesn't loathe compilations. That goes for me, too. They exist not for me, because as a completist, I feel like I am being forced to acknowledge them, even if they have no use for me. But okay, I will bite, and look at "A Woman In Love: The Greatest Hits," which was released for Barbra Streisand to commemorate her 70th birthday. Most of the time, labels put one rare track in these things, but this one was so mechanically produced, it is as if it was produced by a robot. Most of her beloved hits are here, so the "casual fan" can purchase this and feel that they got their money's worth. The usual suspects - Love Theme (From A Star Is Born), People, Guity - are here. There are songs from her acclaimed Broadway albums, and songs from Funny Girl and Yentl. The only one thing that can be considered kind-of obscure is Ann Hampton Callaway's "I've Dreamed Of You," but I am sure they included that because that is Barbra's wedding song. But I can't hate this too much. This is still Barbra, and I will listen to her probably till the day I die. And it is for a wonderful occasion, her 70th. And the color scheme of the cover isn't pink. I don't even know who will buy a compilation like this - a "casual fan" of hers probably has something similar in their collection. But, all in all, the music is still like buttah. Happy Birthday, Barbra.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Broken, Just Broken

Hart Crane was an openly-gay poet at a time when openly gay meant death. That was the only thing I knew about him before I saw James Franco's "Broken Tower." This film was Mr. Franco's final thesis for NYU and while earnest, it feels like one (And that's not an insult) At times it tries too hard - artsy black and white shots abound, but I must give credit to Mr. Franco because I don't think anyone else would care to make a movie about Mr. Crane. I have heard about but have never read "The Bridge," which was Mr. Crane's poetic masterpiece, and int his movie, it is even narrated by Mr. Franco himself. The indifference to this poem drove Mr. Crane to depression and destruction. It's an interesting story, but there's too much pretentiousness going on here that you cannot get past it to mine the heart of the story. I really wish I had liked this more, but I just found myself rolling my eyes. And Franco's performance was so self-absorbed, and I never believed he was gay. The infamous oral sex scene is here, but it's so laughably fake. Whereto now, James?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Smash Episode 13: Tech Is A Bitch

I would say "Tech," last night's episode, is the series' best one yet, and I know why. Apparently, all twelve episodes aired had been in the can even before premiered, so this is the first episode they have shot since premiering. SO by the time they shot this episode, they had already heard all the mixed reviews, the criticisms, the word-on-the-street on all the storylines. And the first thing I notice? Less Ellis. Oh sure, he was still there, but they weren't using him to drive incredulous plot points.  First things first: I love the opening number, an honest-to-goodness show tune about a Broadway show. (I think it's the first time ever)  "Let Me Be Your Star" (a song I accidentally discovered I have played close to 100 times on my iPod) is interpolated - beautifully, if I may add - to Cole Porter's "Another Openin' Another Show" as they show everyone taking the train to Boston, where it will begin out-of-town tryouts. I love that scene, it's joyous and energetic, and a perfect opener. And while it is beautifully set in Grand Central Station, I couldn't help but ask: why are they taking Metro-North instead of Amtrak (which leaves from Penn Station) But anyway, they get to Boston (what a wonderful theater, I wonder where they shot?) So they get there, and it's tech - a laborious process where everyone is tired, irritated. they basically do nothing but stand on stage or do scenes over and over again. And the biggest kicker: the actor who plays Joe DiMaggio has suddenly quit after getting a pilot. So they have to get Michael Swift - which takes the story to Julia. She is distraught, she gives them an ultimatum: it's him or me. Why, you ask, wasn't Michael back with his wife anyway, and didn't I remember him telling her the affair was over? So shouldn't it be no big deal? (By the by, Julia's husband has come home) Back on stage, there is some  confusion about Rebecca and gloves, or some such thing, and it ended up to Derek sleeping with her. Ivy catches them, and is heartbroken, giving her a chance to sing a fantastic version of "I'm Goin' Down" in a singoff vs Karen. This after Karen turns down a engagement ring from Dev. (Her reason? "It's Tech!") We see Dev and Ivy at a bar, flirting. Fade out, and we see in next week's episode they slept together.