Just Giblets

Recent Reads

27th December 2004
by Michael

Recent Reads

After writing about films for the Chlotrudis Society for Independent Film, it’s fun to have another outlet to talk about some other things that I have recently enjoyed. Two books that I’ve finished in the last week couldn’t be more different. Nancy Kress is an award-winning science fiction novelist and short story writer. Beggars in Spain was published in 1993, a novel expanded from a previously published novella. It is an insightful near future tale that examines our society through a simple lens: what if people didn’t need to sleep? Genetic modification is all the rage, and in 2008, a new breed of genetically enhanced infants do not sleep. Instead they use all 24 hours in each day to learn, eventually excelling in what they pursue, leaving their sleeping brethren behind. As the Sleepless grow to adulthood and become fortune-making success stories, the dark prejudices of society loom their collective head. Most of the Sleepless resent the animosity directed at them, but one of the first, Leisha Camden, fights against the creation of Sanctuary, a space that is created to be a haven for the Sleepless; where they can live and prosper separate from the rest of humanity. Shunned by both the Sleepless and the Sleepers, Leisha must find her own path while somehow preventing an irreparable rift in humanity.

Kress creates plausible scenarios that are painfully familiar to many present day issues. Beggars in Spain reads very quickly, and while it examines many ideas that are traditionally the realm of the science fiction, its characters remain grounded in reality. It’s a fascinating read.

Men and Cartoons is a collection of short stories by best-selling author Jonathan Lethem. I enjoyed his 1999 novel Motherless Brooklyn a detective story about a man with Tourette’s Syndrome, but stalled out on his 2003 best-seller Fortress of Solitude (I will try again another time). Men and Cartoons is a collection of fantastic and original stories that traverse a wide range of styles. I was hooked with the first tale, “The Vision” about a man who becomse reaccquainted with a former high school classmate who used to pretend he was the Marvel comic character The Vision. Being the fantastic comic book geek that I am, and growing up with The Vision as my favorite male comic book character, this was a surefire way to get my attention. Other stories include the inventive tale of loss, “Vivian Relf,” where a man meets a young woman at a party and is sure they have met before, but they haven’t. As the years pass, Vivan continues to pop up in the most unusual circumstances ultimately coming to define his life. “Access Fantasy” is an intriguing combination of the mystery and science fiction genres. In a world where most of humanity lives caught in a never-moving traffic jam, separated from the privileged residents of apartment building, one man manages to piece the barrier to investigate a possible murder. The stories are continuously surprising and moving.

posted in Books | at 10:52 pm | 0 Comments
21st December 2004
by Michael

Groovin’ to Yaz and Sammy Hagar?

Isn’t it funny that I can watch hours of VH1 Classic and just get the biggest kick out of seeing videos that I used to groan at when they came on for the 7th time in a day back in the 80’s? Did I actually just sit through Billy Idol‘s “Dancing with Myself?” Surely I’ve seen that video about 350 times in my lifetime, but it’s true, I probably haven’t seen it for at least 15 years. Of course, the trade off is getting to enjoy a pair (since it’s Tuesday Two-Play) of videos from Erasure that very cleverly, and much to my delight, segued into a pair of vids from Yaz! “Nobody’s Diary” is a favorite of mine, and I had never seen the video for “Only You.” (I think I would have prefered the wacky hijinks of “Don’t Go.”) Then imagine my surprise when I found out that old song I loved (and hadn’t heard for ages) “Your Love Is Driving Me Crazy,” was by Sammy Hagar!

rough.jpgI admit it, I was a video geek during the 80’s. When MTV first come on, and it was cool, commercial free, and there so few videos they had to play really cool, offbeat stuff, the town I lived in didn’t get it. I was in a band at the time (the appropriately 80’s-named Psyclone) and after practicing at our friend’s house in a neighboring town, we’d all sit around and watch MTV. So cool… I actually remember seeing a video by Robin Lane and the Chartbusters! How cool is that? Does anyone else remember “All Touch” by Rough Trade in heavy rotation? Clearly a dearth of music videos was heaven for a burgeoning queer like me. (And if you haven’t read Rough Trade vocalist/songwriter Carole Pope’s autobiograhpy Anti-Diva… oh, what do you care. No one south of the Canadian border cares that Rough Trade was one of the most sexually subversive pop bands in history of modern music.)

Hmmm… I think I’m going to make a list of the 10 videos I’d most like to see again. Not now, this is going to take some time! Look for it in a few days…

posted in Nonsense | at 8:30 pm | 0 Comments
19th December 2004
by Michael

Dis-PASSION-ate

Here it is, ten months after Mel Gibson’s THE PASSION hit the big screen, and it’s still bugging me. Forget the fact that Gibson is a homophobic, religious fanatic. Forget the fact too, that THE PASSION struck out on Golden Globe Award nominations. Doesn’t anyone find it unsettling that in this day of war in Iraq and the religious right trying to curtail our liberties, the third highest grossing film of the year is Mel Gibson’s religious, gore-fest THE PASSION? (Thank God for cartoons and comic books. SHREK and SPIDER-MAN 2 beat Jesus at the box office.)

Violence and religion are today’s staples, while good old sex is being pushed more and more to the sidelines. Why is it that violence is so acceptable and sex, something that should be a celebration between people, is so abhorrent? I’ve ranted about this before: to my friends, on my old website, on this blog… it gets tiresome, I’m sure, but I just don’t understand it. I haven’t seen THE PASSION, nor do I plan to. Some will say that you can’t criticize what you haven’t seen, and I agree with that, so I won’t say anything else about the film.

I saw a couple of good films this weekend. Annette Bening shines in BEING JULIA, a delightfully fun film about the theatre in 1930’s London. On DVD I caught a quiet and intriguing French film by Andr? T?chin? called STRAYED. (Ironically, the latter film was about the effects on everyday people during the German invasion of France during World War II. There is very little violence, and it makes the point quite effectively.)

posted in Nonsense | at 9:32 pm | 1 Comment
7th December 2004
by Michael

How Much for a Bachelor’s Degree?

gertrudis.jpgHad I known there was a University giving Masters’ Degrees to cats, I think I would have signed Gertrudis up long ago. (Doesn’t she look wise in that picture?) Yahoo News reports (thanks Scot!) that the Pennsylvania attorney general’s office sued an online university for allegedly selling an MBA to a cat. Investigator’s paid $299 for a bachelor’s degree for their cat, Colby Nolan. Included on Colby’s resume was baby-sitting and retail experience. Trinity Southern University in Texas allegedly determined that Colby’s resume earned him an MBA. They subsequently issued a transcript listing the kitty’s course work at a 3.5 grade point average.

I always knew Gertrudis was smart, now here’s her chance to prove it with a degree! Brain the size of a walnut… ha! I’ve seen the way she looks at us and there’s more going on in there than a walnut could hold. At any rate, it seems that there is no end to the depths that online shysters will sink to make a buck… and it seems there is no end to the depths that idiots will sink when it comes to buying quick and easy deals on the Internet. Not surprisingly, Trinity Southern University in Texas does not exist.

posted in Nonsense | at 7:40 pm | 1 Comment
29th November 2004
by Michael

Anyone for an Oyster Party?

Strolling home in the light rain after a Sunday afternoon matinee of THE INCREDIBLES, Scot and I decided to check out one of the restaurants on the lower end of oft-neglected (by us) Tremont St. Living in the South End of Boston has provided us with countless opportunities to spend our money at fine dining establishments, but that doesn’t stop us from looking for more! After passing over Masa and the new Sibling Rivalry due to the priciness of their menus (and the fact that the latter restaurant didn’t open until 5:30 and we were 25 minutes early!), we decided to try out a place we’ve been meaning to try since we moved to Boston over a year ago, the similarly pricey B&G Oysters, Ltd.

B&G Oysters Ltd.This snazzy, little oyster bar has been winning largely raves since it opened about 16 months ago. Set a handful of steps below street level, a quick peek through the front windows showed a nearly empty dining room. We strolled to the back of the restaurant (where a gravel lot is used for summertime dining) and entered past the chic, shimmering, glass wall/waterfall. A friendly hostess promptly helped us with our dripping umbrellas and offerred to take our coats. A quick glance around the hip room showed a large oyster bar wrapped around the open kitchen, two tables for parties larger than three, and additional bars by the windows. It was clear that this place would fill up fast.

Scot and I were seated at one of the tables-for-three against the wall, giving us a clear view of the kitchen/oyster bar. Marble and mosaic tiles of browns and grays, lots of chrome, and an efficient use of a tight space all combined to give B&B both an oceanic and modern feel. Lacking a full liquor license, B&G does sport a robust wine and beer list, but it’s really all about the oysters, and we decided to sample a few of their extensive list for appetizers. We ordered a pair from Washington state, a pair from Prince Edward Island, and a pair from Maine… all delicious, invitingly presented, and downed in a flash. For dinner, Scot got the special, handmade, lobster raviolis, while I went for the seared scallops. The four, large, caramalized scallops with beets and leeks, nestled in (I kid you not) a potato fondue, were the best scallops I had eaten in years. The potato fondue… basically potatoes whipped to the consistency of cheesy fondue, was heavenly. We also sampled desert, the scrumptious mascapone cheesecake, drizzled with maple syrup and candied walnuts. While seafood is the staple, fish-shunners can also get a BLT sandwich (as opposed to its trendier cousin, the Bacon/LOBSTER/Tomato sandwich, which is also on the menu.)

Sadly, our dinner was slightly marred by the loss of service after our meal. Our young waiter spent more time flirting with the Robert Downey, Jr. look-alike seated behind us than tending to our needs. After he brought us our desert, we never saw him again, and after chatting (and waiting) for over 10 minutes while the restaurant filled to capacity, another waitress finally saw me holding my credit card and asked if we wanted our check. Just a minor quibble, and it certainly didn’t mar the overall experience.

On Scot’s suggestion, we just may have an oyster party one evening, where friends gather at the B&G and enjoy oysters!

posted in Nonsense | at 8:08 am | 0 Comments
22nd November 2004
by Michael

What Canadian Province Are You?

Given my penchance for things Canadian, there was no way I could skip this quiz when I found it! Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a freak about Canadian film and a lot of Canadian music. When I travel to Canada, which I do about once a year minimum to catch the Toronto International Film Festival, there’s this strange sensation of coming home. And, hey! My marriage is actually recognized up there!

So if you have three minutes to waste, find out what Canadian Province you are. Strangely enough, I took the quiz the other day, and it told me that I was Nova Scotia… fitting because my father’s side of the family is from Nova Scotia. However when I took the quiz again this morning, I actually got a different result! I know I answered the questions a little differently upon reflection, which really isn’t the point of these quizzes. I don’t think reflection is really called for. Today I am…

I'm British ColumbiaYou’re British Columbia. You’re hip and happenin’
but also a nice person who isn’t a snob. Career
is important to you but it isn’t your whole
life. People assume that your life is perfect
and that you have it all, like you were born
with a silver spoon in your mouth. But it’s not
true; you do have your own set of troubles just
like everybody else.

What Canadian Province Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

posted in Nonsense | at 7:47 am | 0 Comments
20th November 2004
by Michael

Maybe the towel was damp?

Sheridan and Owens... in the locker roomI’m sorry, I know I post about these things a few days after they’re really relevant, but that’s what happens when your life is filled with too many things and you don’t have time to keep up with your blog. So what is going on with society? Is it all connected? Is the fact that we have another 4 years with that bozo really connected to Janet Jackson’s nipple?

I am, of course, referring to this. The television network (and a host of others involved) apologized after numerous viewers complained about a pre-show spot airing at 9 p.m. before “Monday Night Football.” The spot, as I’m sure you all know, featured Nicolette Sheridan seducing Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Terrell Owens in a locker room. There was no nudity, only “implied nudity,” as Sheridan drops her towel in a locker room and jumps into Owen’s arms. Apparently, implied nudity is now enough to tick off enough people to cause an television network to apologize. And to think, for a while we were seeing naked butts on “NYPD Blue.” Now, suddenly because of Janet Jackson’s nipple a little implied nudity is verbotten. I have to tell you, this causes me to feel a bit of concern.

Are we becoming so prudish that a woman’s naked back, something we see in countless ads for soap, shampoo, and shaving cream, is now off limits? There was an article in a recent issues of something I was reading (I want to say that it was EW, but I’m not 100% sure) that talked about several network affiliates refusing to run the uncut version of SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, not because it features one of the most realistically violent openings ever committed to screen, but because the word “fuck” is used too many times to bleep. These affiliates were afraid of being penalized with the new, steep fine that has been instituted since (you guessed it) Janet Jackson’s nipple. (Don’t get me started on the way American society glorifies violence but demonizes sex.)

If I seem a bit preoccupied by Janet’s breast, well, I just don’t get it. I’m not going to go on about it here, but let me just say that I am so horrified by the level of puritanism that is currently running rampant in the United States in 200-fucking -4!

posted in Nonsense | at 5:15 pm | 0 Comments
16th November 2004
by Michael

A Possessed Weekend

Haylee Shrimpton as Ronald Reagan McNeilSo I’m over a week lake, I still wanted to report on our weekend in homage to that scariest of horror films, THE EXORCIST. The devilish events revolved around a Saturday night show of Ryan Landry’s latest madcap spoof, “The Exorsissy!” Ryan and his Gold Dust Orphans tackle a 70’s blockbuster film with a gay twist. The fabulous Afrodite!Young Ronald Reagan McNeil is a little boy who wants to wear a two-piece bathing suit and play with dolls, much to his mother’s chagrin. You see, Mom, Chris McNeil (played by Landry himself) is a Republican woman running for the Presidency. It’s bad enough that she’s from Boston, the possibility of a gay son… and adopted from Iran to top it all off! Besides the usual expected hijinks and laughter from a Ryan Landry production, “The Exorsissy” had another draw for us. Scot and our good friend Gianna’s hairdresser, Elise Garfinkel, played young Reagan while possessed by the demon (below left). Elise puked and cursed her way through a hilarious second act, with Landry spot on poking fun at politics, gender, and, of course, the catholic church. And I always enjoy seeing the sassy and sexy Afrodite (check her out on the right) as Lt. Thelma F. Kinderman. Gianna and Chris (of lymejello fame) joined me and Scot for the chilling and silly fun.

Elise Garfinkel is baaaaadBut that’s not all the devil we enjoyed that weekend! Scot recently discovered a website to get some “hard-to-find” DVD’s (thanks to the afore-mentioned Chris). The site is called 5 Minutes to Live and the bizarre DVDs available here is pretty astounding. From “The Dinah Shore Portal to Hell,” to “Jeff Stryker’s How to Enlarge Your Penis,” there is a wealth of bad pirated DVDs available for the purchase. Scot mined the depths of 5 Minutes to Live and came up with a handful, but the one we’re talking about now requires a bit of a preface.

Apparently, the Turkish film industry is based on remaking Hollywood blockbusters using Turkish actors. Sometimes the Turkish version of a film is a scene by scene recreation, sometimes it uses actual footage from the original, and sometimes is strays into its own territory. Scot was thrilled to enjoy THE TURKISH EXORCIST. The Turkish version does away with the Christianity, substituting Islam (although it was not as prevalent) and the actress who plays the mother couldn’t hold a candle to Ellen Burstyn, but the little girl bore a striking resemblance to Linda Blair, and the effects were just as good (?) as the original! What a demonic weekend!

posted in Nonsense | at 8:45 pm | 0 Comments
3rd November 2004
by Michael

I Do Not Want to Live in a Country Run by Religion

As of this typing, the morning after election day, things are not looking good. Naturally, there is no decision as yet, with all eyes on Ohio rather than Florida this year. I’m not going to write about all the reasons why I am incredulous, not only that it looks like we’ll have to put up with another four years of hell, but the House and the Senate picked up a few Republican seats as well, but I do have to comment briefly on one thing I saw on CBS-News. At exit polls, CBS-News reported that “Moral Values” was the number one issue influencing voter’s presidential choice at 52%, followed by the economy, and terrorism. The reporter went on to explain that “Moral Values” included not only such controversial issues as abortion and gay marriage, but Super-Bowl half-time shows and Britney Spears videos.

Huh? People are choosing the president because of Janet Jackson’s nipple? This, and this alone is enough to make me seriously consider that move to Canada. That’s all I’m going to say on this matter. I’m going to go mourn our country’s future.

posted in Nonsense | at 8:34 am | 2 Comments
23rd October 2004
by Michael

Mary Cheney is a Lesbian.

There, I’ve said it. And I’ll say it again. Mary Cheney is a lesbian. Of all the many (and there are many, as we all know) crazy things about that other political party, the outrage of so many about that mere statement of fact as uttered by Senator Kerry during the final debate, has got to be the craziest. In context, the Senator was saying such nice things about Ms. Cheney and her father too. It’s rather mind-boggling. It’s not like Kerry said, Mary’s a dyke. Or Mary’s a rug-muncher. No, a simple statement of fact; one that Mary’s own father has already confirmed, is enough to get all sorts of folks up in arms. I just read that a recent poll of voters taken by The Washington Post, shows that 2/3 of voters felt that Kerry’s statement was inappropriate. Whoo boy. Even the log cabin republicans, gay men and women themselves (presumably) have gotten into the act.

Okay, that’s as political as I want to get right now. Next thing you know I’ll be talking about the Boston Red Sox making it to the World Series for the first time since 1987. If they win, it will be the first time since 1918. Isn’t it ironic that I was actually in New York (a conference in Rochester) on the night the Sox beat the Yankees for the American League championship? I have to report that one woman, a New York resident, said to me, “It’s about time they won. They deserve it. Just don’t tell my husband I said that.”

It’s really all about baseball and politics this time of year, isn’t it? Seen any good movies lately?

posted in Nonsense | at 3:54 pm | 0 Comments
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