Saturday, September 27, 2008

Well...that would work...

Part of me says this is cool, but it makes another part of me feel bad

H/T Corey.

Sex is impermanent, but Judy Blume is forever.

Guess what, kids? It's Banned Books Week! (More info here) To celebrate, here are a few of the most challenged books of the past 15 years, with commentary where applicable.

(This is in roughly chronological order, and is via the ALA)

Of Mice And Men, John Steinbeck.

The Adventures of Huck Finn, Mark Twain.

Meanwhile, over here in the real world, these are two of the books that put their illustrious authors within the pantheon. Huckleberry Finn is one of the giants among banned books alone.

The Bridge To Terabithia, Katherine Paterson

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle

The Great Gilly Hopkins, Katherine Paterson

Again these are books considered well-loved classics by many, and award-winners.

On the other hand...

Sex, Madonna.

Ok, so this book seems kind of joyless and gratuitous to me. Still, banning it was just playing right into Madonna's hands.

Judy Blume, Forever.

I liked this book a lot.

The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier

J. D. Salinger, Catcher in the Rye

Maya Angelou's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Goosebumps & Fear Street, R. L. Stine.

About these Stine series: They have to have gotten more kids to read than anything until the Harry Potter series (about which more in a moment).

Blubber: Judy Blume.
Killing Mr. Griffin by Lois Duncan

Again: Blume was like the great teacher so many of us wanted but rarely got. And Duncan was one of the best writers for young adults there's ever been.

Go Ask Alice -Anonymous.

The Harry Potter series, by JK Rowling.

I can't say this enough: I haven't read the Potter books, although I have seen all the movies, but I love anything that gets that many kids that excited about reading. Fantastic.

Maurice Sendak In the Night Kitchen

Is there anything happier than art by Maurice Sendak?

The Golden Compass, by Philip Pullman

I haven't read this or seen the movie, but I take it as a matter of faith that anything the religious Right and Bill Donohue attacks must have something I would like in it.

Similarly, I haven't read--

And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson & Peter Parnell

--Based on the true story of the gay male penguin couple at the Central Park Zoo.

But Parnell, besides having been a producer and writer on "The West Wing," was also Aaron Sorkin's writing teacher, and has written many plays.

As always, what books the (brain-dead segments of our) country seeks to ban reveals the serious hang-ups of our society. The Chocolate War, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Golden Compass and And Tango Makes Three were still among the most-challenged books of the year in 2007.

This suggests to me that we're still hung-up about sex, race, religion, language, violence, nationalism, sexism, homosexuality, conservative definitions of what a "family" is and oversensitivity.

But I kind of knew that.

What it also suggests to me--and I kind of knew this too--is that we have absolutely no appreciation for context.

Is there offensive (at least to some) language in The Chocolate War? Yes. Is it language that even the most cloistered Catholic school student is unlikely to have heard by their teens? No. Is there violence? Yes. Is the violence treated lightly? Absolutely not.

How about Huck Finn? Is there racist language in it? Yes, but as the creator of this Mark Twain page points out,
since the action of the book takes place in the south twenty years before the Civil War, it would be amazing if they didn't use ["the N"] word.

But is the book itself racist? Again, absolutely not, and quite the contrary.

Here's the 2007 top 10 (again via the ALA). I think if I were a parent, I'd be looking into finding out more about these books, and getting some of them for my children.

10. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

9. It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris

8) I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

7. TTYL by Lauren Myracle

6. The Color Purple by Alice Walker

5) The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain

4. The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

3. Olive’s Ocean by Kevin Henkes

2. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier

1. And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson & Peter Parnell

And with the possibility of someone who had to ask whether it was ok to ban books becoming "a heartbeat away from the presidency"...I think this week and the ideas behind it matter more than ever.

Apparently I should be watching "Lost."

Yunjin Kim for People Magazine

Friday, September 26, 2008

I love Chris Rock

From a recent appearance on the Larry King show:

KING: You must be ... proud that at this stage in our history a black man is running for president on a major ticket.

ROCK: Um, you know what? I'm proud Barack Obama's running for president. You know? If it was Flavor Flav, would I be proud?

If you were wondering...

These are my favorite blog posts on the debate (so far)

presidential debate open thread at Americablog.

Josh Marshall's Initial Reaction

More to come, I'm quite sure...

Dan Savage makes me laugh.

Oh, in case you hadn't heard, McCain will be debating tonight after all.

I wonder what they'll talk about?

Hello, Ben.

(being the first in a planned series of four posts trying to write something a little more penetrating about why I think it is that I've become so enamored--some would say obsessed--with the Saw films)

(If you don't know, a recurring themes in the Saw films are people finding tapes that address them directly. This is why I begin this one with)

Hello, Ben.

I want you to think about something. I want you to think about why a film series originating from one described as-

A twisted and gory horror film that's not for the squeamish
--has become one whose next installment you are so eagerly awaiting. Why do you love them so much that they've become some of your favorites? You are squeamish about maybe it's the twisted nature of the films that appeals to you? Is it the twists...?

For a lot of people, I think, it's about the plethora of little traps within each movie...but for you it's about the big traps. The ones you don't see until the final moments of the movie when you (or more properly, the characters) find out that the game they think they've been playing...isn't.

Or is it that there is still an idea at the center of the Saw movies...unlike your Texas Chainsaw Massacre remakes and Scream 3s. And that idea is: Don't take your life for granted. Don't waste it.

In his deranged Zen-master/cool kind of way, Jigsaw/John argues for changing your life. But here, let him explain it.

(fair warning: This gives away the ending of the first Saw, if you care).

Julianne Moore sez, about her parenting skills:

“I’m really good at not embarrassing [her children],” she says. “Maybe their father’s more fun, but he’s really embarrassing.

Y'know...I admire Julianne Moore, I really do. But I gotta think, somewhere between played-an-adult-film-star in Boogie Nights and appeared-in-a-garbage-pit-of-a-movie like Body of Evidence...the embarrassment ship has already sailed.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Note to self: The Letterman show should be good tonight

OK, sure, his first guest is Paris Hilton--who is plainly trying to win my heart--but more importantly:
Letterman's Top 10 list was "surprising facts about Sarah Palin," read by citizens of Wasilla, Alaska, where she was once mayor.

Two via TPM

One, I like Barbara Boxer...

And two, Sarah Palin makes Katie Couric look like Walter Cronkite.

Interesting Anne Hathaway article

"Anne Hathaway Grows Up," from Newsweek.

Acknowledgement to Jennifer for sending it.

The Dragons rise in Spring

Originally uploaded by jordanstratford

What's weird is, I remain, I think, the only person in America if not the world who liked "Reindeer Games" (that didn't work on it)

Charlize Theron:

You can tell me right now to my face that Reindeer Games was a piece of sh--. That's totally fine.

Much better, LeeLee

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Ah, it' ; venir de s.

How'd I miss this?

Chris Rock following Bill Clinton's "endorsement" of Barack Obama on the Letterman show.

Y'know, cause he was in "Wall Street," so...

It's come to this. As we all know, Wall St. is in a bit of a crisis right now. I haven't said very much about it because frankly, most if not all of it is so far over my head I would drown.

I try not to talk about things I don't understand, with the obvious exception of women (rim-shot!).

But you know, I think we can all agree this is a situation that calls for real, honest-to-god leaders of this nation. So, who did reporters ask about it?

Michael Douglas.

Now, everybody remembers the catch phrase, "Greed is good," but that whole speech is frighteningly seductive, and some of the best writing in any Oliver Stone picture I have seen.

It might indeed give us some insights as to what led to the real Wall Street going belly-up.

So who do we ask? Stanley Weiser & Oliver Stone, who wrote it?

No, let's ask the guy who played the role.

(Not that he wasn't impressive--won the Academy Award, too)

But seriously-if "real" reporters ever wonder why people trust the Daily Show correspondents at least as much as they trust them, something like this might just be a big ol' fucking clue.

OMG, this is the saddest thing I have ever seen

Linda Hamilton has let herself go.

(Just so we're clear--it's not Hamilton no longer being 35 I object to. Hell, neither am I. But by the same token, neither is Kim Cattrall.) (Or Jada Pinkett Smith, Annette Bening, Meg Ryan or Debra Messing...)

This seems like a good time to ask this again

Just 9 percent of those surveyed rated the economy as good or excellent, the first time that number has been in single digits since the days just before the 1992 election. Just 14 percent said the country is heading in the right direction, equaling the record low on that question in polls dating back to 1973.

Can we impeach them noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooow?

Is it me, or are these some of the ugliest bikinis you've ever seen in your life?


Seriously--a couple of supermodels (Marisa Miller And Miranda Kerr) should not leave me this cold.


Marisa's gonna have to do something to make up for it.


That'll do it.

I think Kim Kardashian is a bimbo.

Ok? And I don't watch Dancing With The Stars. It just doesn't seem like fun to me; also they've yet to have anyone on who I would consider a "star."

However. This made me laugh really, really hard.

Not Kardashian stumbling through a mambo to "Baby Got Back." She looks good, but only until she starts to move.

No, what killed me was the judge's comment that she and her partner lacked "chemistry." Wait for her partner--his name is Mark Ballas--to open his mouth and see if you can't think of any reason why he might lack chemistry with a good-looking bimbo.

As Will (of and Grace) once said about Jack:
everytime you open your mouth, a purse falls out!

A picture is worth 1,000 words

Per Americablog:

The National Enquirer is reporting that Sarah Palin was unfaithful to her husband with an also-married man. I don't particularly care one way or the other, though I do think AB is right about something.

If the infidelity of a private citizen not then seeking elective office (John Edwards) was news, it sure as shit is about a "values" voter hockey-mom who wants to be VP.

But again, that's not what made me smile about this story. What is, is the picture the Enquirer chose to run with their story, reproduced below with the caption that sprang to mind...

"Mrs. Palin, can you tell us what you found so unsatisfactory about your sex life with your husband, Todd?"

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Lucky dolphin being kissed by Emmy Rossum

Via her Myspace blog.

God forbid, if McCain should win...and if there's even the *perception* that women's anger at perceived sexism helped him...

...then I think we can wave goodbye to the chance of a serious woman progressive candidate for at least another 25 years.

I think Democratic men will feel that women have proved the vagina is more important to them than the vote.

I'm not saying I *want* this to happen...I'm just terribly afraid that it will.

The above is repeated from something I originally wrote in a comment over at Blue Gal's.

Why did I want to repeat it? Because:
A survey by Knowledge Networks now finds that 28 percent of Clinton supporters say that John McCain will get their votes. That number represents a 7 percent increase from a similar poll in June which found that 21 percent of former Clinton backers planned to cross party lines and vote for the Republican presidential ticket.

(Edited with addition) This will come as news to just about, um, no one, but Lindsay Lohan has confirmed she's in a lesbian relationship

And good on 'er, I say. I hope they're very happy and I'm glad she felt she could "go public."

ETA: Clay Aiken, too. Well I'll be damned--it's a day for coming outs that don't surprise anyone.

Hello, there!

...Mazel tov! Yes, hmmm.

(My former therapist had her baby)

Media Matters has prepared a report documenting just how piss-poor was the media's handling of the debates during the primaries.

And a petition to be sent to the television networks in hopes that they will raise their game in the debates to come. You can also indicate on the petition which issues you'd most like to see questions about.

FWIW, I chose Afghanistan, Civil Rights/Torture, Economy, Environment (should've chosen energy, too) Health Care and Iraq.

I'd like to think this is one of those few things liberals and conservatives can actually agree on: In an election this critical, it is more important than ever that the presidential and vice-presidential debates be about issues.

Here's the report, I hope you'll sign the petition. Will this change anything? Who the hell knows, but I think it's important to try.

There are no lesbians

Good news (sort of).

According to a new study by GLAAD, there are more bisexual or gay regular characters on mainstream, prime-time television than ever before.

The reason why I say this is only "sort of" good news is that according to the same study, none of those characters are lesbians. Photobucket There are bisexual women, but no lesbians.

Sadly, you don't have to stretch your mind too far to see why that might be: Fellas who think a little lesbian-type loving is sexy, but can't imagine women who don't ever want a little deep-dish dicking (forgive the raunchy).

As GLAAD says in their statement, this is a positive sign, but more work remains to be done.

Sign me up!

(For what?)

So far as I know (which isn't very far at all), neither of these actresses--Shannon Marie Woodward (on the left) & Liza Weil (on the right)--is gay or bisexual.

I'm using their pictures here because they are who I would most like to get to play my lesbian couple characters, Keitha & Annabel (respectively), if I could.


(design by Cheap and Chic Moschino)

If this is true, Halle, call me.

Late-night letters

1. Dear Minnie...

I liked you in Good Will Hunting, Grosse Pointe Blank, Return to Me; Ella Enchanted, and loved you in The Riches.

But on this point, trust me, your thinking is fucked.

Minnie Driver has revealed that she has no plans to include her baby's father at any time during the birth.

"I'm not married and I don't know if I'll stay with the guy," she told the New York Post.

"It's great to be an independent creature. Today you don't need a man any more. In the old days, a baby without marriage and people would put you out. I'm very into feeling this female thing."


Barack Obama's running mate says a campaign ad that mocked Republican presidential candidate John McCain as an out-of-touch, out-of-date computer illiterate was "terrible" and would not have been done had he known about it.

Dear Sen. Joe Biden: Whose side are you on?

Asked about the negative tone of the campaign, and this ad in particular, during an interview broadcast Monday by the "CBS Evening News," Obama's running mate, Sen. Joe Biden, said he disapproved of it.

"I thought that was terrible, by the way," Biden said.

Asked why it was done, he said: "I didn't know we did it and if I had anything to do with it, we'd have never done it."

You unbelievable dumbass. You have just given the other side ammunition for attacking Obama's integrity. When are Democrats going to realize this isn't West Side Story, it's an honest-to-god street fight?

Let me explain to you what I want to hear from a running mate, Joe (in public, at least-private is a different matter): Cheers. Put on the damn sweater and pom-poms, Joe.

As far as you're concerned, it's the opening weekend of Die Hard, Obama is Bruce Willis; McCain is Alan Rickman. Or to paraphrase another top '80s movie:
You just got lesson number one: don't think [out loud]; it can only hurt the ball club.

Sitting on air...doesn't surprise me even a little bit

Monday, September 22, 2008

Why did George Carlin have to die just when we really, really need him?

Case in point.

You know, Charlize Theron takes a lovely picture


Have you noticed that?

Women I'm meant for, by George

Carla Gugino

Ione Skye

If Marisa Miller ever decides to sell drugs instead of iPods, I am so screwed


Anna Kournikova looks smart.


Oh no, not again

George Michael busted.

And unfortunately this time, it wasn't for anything so well adjusted as seeking anonymous; no-strings sex in public places: He was arrested for crack.

(I know the joke you're all thinking of, and shame on you. I, for, one, am better than that)

But honestly, George...may I remind you that (unlike oh, say, Lindsay Lohan) you've actually got talent? Get off the dance floor, get it together, and remember you're a classic pop writer.

These photos are all by Don Spiro

Got milk?

These women should be at every movie theater.

Reading is sexy, see?

(more here)

Every Sorkin lover in the world just died and went to Heaven

Ever wondered what The West Wing's President Bartlet would say to Barack Obama? Well, it appears, so has Times op-ed columnist Maureen Dowd.

I don't always, or even often, like Dowd, but she has one big advantage that most of the rest of us don't have in pondering such a ponderable.

She once dated Aaron Sorkin, so when she wanted to know what his fictional Democrat would have to say to this true one...she just called him and asked him.

And he gave her this. It's a page of dialogue between the two men, ending with:

BARTLET ...You’re a 47-year-old black man with a foreign-sounding name who went to Harvard and thinks devotion to your country and lapel pins aren’t the same thing and you’re in a statistical tie with a war hero and a Cinemax heroine. To these aged eyes, Senator, that’s what progress looks like. You guys got four debates. Get out of my house and go back to work.

What's next?