Welcome to this site and web log. Your host is Papa G

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Thank You, Dear Reader

O blessed person who visits these pages. Column is slightly over six months old as a Blog. The site has been around since 2003. Your presence is much appreciated. Happy 2006!

Love Out Loud

Love Out Loud

I was born with bugle horns and trumpets in my heart

Mandolins, and accordions and voices in three parts

Pounding drums, guitar strums and choirs singing out

I was Born to Love Out Loud

….words and music by Michael Clay

Little Christmas ...

... 6 January, The Epiphany, Brokeback goes into even wider release and via Andrew Towle's BLOG we discover this:

Friday, December 30, 2005

'Brokeback Mountain' gains steam


Who's afraid of a couple of gay cowboys?

Not moviegoers, who helped "Brokeback Mountain" post the highest per-screen average over the film-flush holiday weekend.

The Ang Lee film, which follows the 20-year forbidden romance between two roughneck ranch hands, earned $13,599 per theater, compared with $9,305 for weekend winner "King Kong" and $8,225 for "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe."

The big question is whether "Brokeback" can maintain its momentum as it moves from selected cities, where audiences are receptive to the subject matter, to suburbs far and wide, where that might not be the case.

Early numbers -- and early awards buzz -- establish the picture's staying power, industry insiders say. "Brokeback" earned a leading seven Golden Globe nominations.

"It delivered very strong growth in what is truly a highly unforgiving, competitive, cruel market at this Christmas period," said Jack Foley, president of theatrical distribution for Focus Features. "It showed it has breadth beyond the gay community."

It is discussed here and there so much and so often because this is where acceptance will come through Art. The sad beauty of its story being understood in the heartland is almost as valuable as any proposition on the ballot. The underlying message is that gay people are everywhere which means even in the most unlikely of places.

Friday, December 30, 2005

From the Village Voice

Kings or Queens
Opening the Celluloid Closet

Ang Lee plus straight teen-dreams playing gay cowboys equals the most acclaimed movie of the year—not even in the wildest dreams of Harvey Weinstein. DONNA BOWMAN

Stonewall, Harvey Milk, Fire Island, Edmund White, John Waters, and Andy Warhol are all going on simultaneously with Ennis Del Mar's loneliness. But gay culture can't save him. Gay culture doesn't know he exists. The idea of his "choosing" to live (and presumably die) alone in that closet of a trailer with two shirts in the middle of nowhere is tragic. It all hails from Annie Proulx, but Ennis is a man after Edith Wharton's heart. WESLEY MORRIS

My wife and I attended the first matinee of Brokeback Mountain and discovered a razor blade in our popcorn. I don't suspect foul play—razor blades are used to scrape the poppers after closing time—but the incident underlined the perilous atmosphere in which Brokeback is being released. I'm happy this beautiful film is being put out into the world, but I'll be happier when the politics surrounding it fall away. SCOTT TOBIAS

In rushing to get its love scenes out of the way, Brokeback Mountain relegates soul-sustaining ardor to the realm of the pretty young things. Heath and Jake's teenage pants party is politically thrilling and totally yummy to boot, but a tender makeout between two hairy, paunchy midlifers—now that would be radical. JESSICA WINTER

Brokeback Mountain raised the specter of a neo-Western first-wives club via its emotional investment in the disappointed spouses beautifully played by Michelle Williams and Anne Hathaway. Linda Cardellini's warmhearted waitress, Anna Faris's nervy chatterbox, and Kate Mara's pining daughter completed a full house of women whose plights were no less evocatively depicted than that of the entwined cowpokes. Far from diluting the film's queer power, the hetero element emphasized the durability of Ennis and Jack's rawhide passion. GRAHAM FULLER

It's no surprise that a Brokeback backlash is coming, but the form it's taking is odd: straight male critics complaining it's not gay enough. They think a gay film has to prove—or at least aspire to—its outlaw authenticity. Brokeback is not just another story of tragic, helpless victims. Repression, especially the internalized variety, is the clear villain here. It comes in many forms: Straight people claiming the authority to determine queer legitimacy and then fetishizing it is one. STEVE ERICKSON

The year's most transgressive homo love story was Tropical Malady. Just as the crags and bluffs of Brokeback swallow up its star-crossed lovers, at once creating and destroying for them a false Eden, the Thai jungle to which Malady's young men retreat becomes both an erotic sanctuary and a literal fantasy world. MICHAEL KORESKY

Want to know more about a prospective mate's obscurantist/pop inclinations? Ask said p.m. to name this film: One member of an inseparable male-male duo has gone missing, and not coincidentally, a terrifying beast is on the loose. The correct answer: Tropical Malady—or Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. ED PARK

Thursday, December 29, 2005

The Spirit of Giving

First Liz Smith, someone who certainly points the way to growing old gracefully, had this to say on Wednesday:

STILL IN the giving holiday mode? Why don't you make a donation to the [NewYork] city's worthy Bailey House, a shelter for men, women and children afflicted with HIV/AIDS. This nonprofit organization has experienced the financial squeeze of federal funding cutbacks. Find out more by logging on baileyhouse.org. The AIDS epidemic is far from over, and it affects us all.

And of course you can always go here -- click, click

Makes a body want to sing out in the choir.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

And The Word Was Made Flesh

Et Verbum Caro Factum Est et Habitavit in Nobis. And the Word was Made Flesh and dwelt among us. The Word that came forth from God was made Flesh. Exegesis of ancient philosophy and thought places much emphasis on the power of the word. The Word that came from God took form in humanity. That’s what Jesus is supposedly all about:God and humanity as one and the same entity.

John, the Beloved Disciple is the attributed author of the above quote which is essential to the Liturgy of the Word in Roman Catholic ritual. John was the one whose head rested on the chest of the Lord during the Last Supper. John was the one to whom the Lord entrusted his mother when he was dying. John is usually depicted as a young hadndsome man.

A type of intimacy was attributed to and recorded about the relationship to Jesus. Let it be said here and now that Jesus Christ, according to the accepted Sacred Gospels, one of which was accordingly written by John, the Beloved, said absolutely nothing that directly condemned same sex relationships.

The theology that John’s writings exhibit has to do with the Divine inhabiting and becoming flesh and eventually overcoming the mortality of the flesh. It is the cornerstone of Xtianity.

It is John who is the only disciple who survived martyrdom and lived to a ripe old age. It is John who had numerable mystical visions that gave the world the Book of the Apocalypse, a.k.a. Revelations. It is John who points the way to overcoming the ravages of the Beast upon humanity. It is John and his relationship with the god-made-man that may very well point the way to acceptance of all human beings being exactly what God made them in all their glory.

John’s Feast is December 27th and celebrated during the Octave of Xmas.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

More Music News From Today's Times

Britt Daniel, the singer and songwriter who leads the Austin, Tex., band Spoon, agrees, and counts himself among the beneficiaries. After the band was dropped from the major label Elektra in 1998, Mr. Daniel found his way to a new contract with the independent label Merge, and Spoon's third album for the company, "Gimme Fiction," has racked up sales of nearly 100,000 copies, outstripping the previous two and ranking as one of the year's best-reviewed releases.

"There are great bands on major labels and bad bands on independent labels, but it seems like the records made on independent labels are more about real creativity and more heartfelt stuff," Mr. Daniel said. "It may just be a three-, four-, five-year cycle where indie music is cool. Sometimes I get cynical, but people tell me, 'No, this is the way things are going to be from now on.' "

Check out full article here.

Mark Aaron James Does Seal

Hey all,
Hope you all had a great holiday weekend. The "Undercover"
show is on for tonight, Tuesday the 27th, at 8:30 PM; The last one in
2005. Along with originals, I will be doing the songs of SEAL. He
actually just put out a bonus CD featuring acoustic versions of his
songs as part of his greatest hits package, so I have been enjoying
hearing his stuff from a new perspective. I'm looking forward to
playing my favorites for you guys. Hope to see you at Mr. Denehey's,
Carmine @ 7th Ave, downstairs. New York City.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Never Enough Love

Darlene Love continues to make her mark on David Letterman’s yearly Yuletide show with her perennial hit, “Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home)” which made its debut in the watershed year, 1963.

It was the year before the arrival of the Beatles and the memory which serves well brings to mind “Heat Wave,” “Anyone Who Had A Heart,” “Cry Baby,” “He’s Sure the Boy I love,” and “One Fine Day” among so many other hit songs that year. President Kennedy provided the world with its first movie star world leader with his classy First Lady. The Cuban Missile Crisis and The Bay of Pigs Invasion were behind us. Oh it wasn’t idyllic but the young baby boomers at least had everything in its appropriate place and were optimistic.

Darlene Love was hard at work on what was to become a Christmas music stalwart with the above standout original piece. Here is what she herself tells us about its inception in her autobiography, My Name Is Love:

The summer of 1963 was especially hot, and we were holed up in Gold Star almost the entire time, until two, three, four in the morning. For one we all welcomed Phil’s slave-driving schedule. The more we did the songs, the more the whole project took on its own life, personality, and history. We didn’t know we were building monuments in those days, except when it came to the Christmas album. Early on we knew that this was a landmark, that once in a lifetime opportunity that God bestows on some to change the course of events.

Jeff [Barry] and Ellie [Greenwich] really delivered the goods … proving one more time that the best Christmas songs, like the best love songs are about loss … “Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home)” was so good that I just assumed it would go to
Ronnie [Spector, of the Ronettes].

But poor Ronnie didn’t have enough circuits to handle the high voltage that Phil [Spector] wanted, and so he gave [the song] to me, and it turned out to be the record I’d been waiting to make with Phil in the year I’d known him. This song was even more powerful than “He’s A Rebel,” and this time it would have my name on it. As with all the sessions Phil didn’t want us to be too prepared, so we never even knew what keys we were going to sing in until we got to the studio … The more we worked the greater it all sounded. One night it got so late that my head just dropped behind me and my big old red wig fell off! All the musicians were happy because that finally ended the session.

…. Leon Russell was on the piano, and by the last takes he was playing so hard it was almost like a concerto. He played himself right off the bench and onto the floor and kept on playing. Cher was on background and has this to say: “Darlene started to sing and the hair stood up all over my body. It was a performance that made time stop. When she finished Fanita [one of The Blossoms] fell over with both her hands up in the air.”

… We didn’t finish the album until the end of September … Phil was going to make his first concept album a classic. It was set for release on November 22, 1963, a Friday. A little late in the game, but Phil was banking on an out-of-the-box smash that would sell for years to come.

… in the kitchen, cooking dinner, doing some ironing with the TV on in the living room … I froze over the stove, wooden spoon in hand. … And even though the reporters didn’t say that the back of his head had been blown off, I knew … that it was pretty bad. I probably picked up a napkin to wipe away some tears, and with them all thought of the Christmas album.

Darlene goes on to explain how the album was released and then withdrawn because of the dark cloud that hovered above the nation. The album, of course, has gone on to be released and re-released resurfacing every year as does Darlene’s magnificent performance. Darlene continued to work throughout the decade but those who admired her and her talent had to look hard for her. There was never enough of her.

Phil Spector's Christmas opus emerged as America journeyed across a piece of time that changed it forever. America was on the threshold of the British Invasion and the Vietnamese Escalation. Five years down the line 1968 would explode. Then as now there is the yearning for those who are far away and the loss that makes for classic artistic expression. The album and Darlene's song persist as does the loss that dogs us across generations

"Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home)"

It's Christmas

Baby, please come home

The snow's coming down
I'm watching it fall
Watching the people around
Baby please co
me home

The church bells in town
They're ringing a song
What a happy sound
Baby please co
me home

They're singing deck the halls
But it's not like Christmas at all
I re
member when you were here
And all the fun we had last year

Pretty lights on the tree
I'm watching 'em shine

You should be here with me
Baby please co
me home

Baby please co
me home
Baby please co
me home

They're singing deck the halls
But it's not like Christmas at all
I re
member when you were here
And all the fun we had last year

If there was a way
I'd hold back these tears
But it's Christmas day
Baby please co
me home

Baby please co
me home
Baby please co
me home
Baby please co
me home
Baby please co
me home
Baby please co
me home

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Gloria in Excelsis Deo

Midnight Mass

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Loyalty, Part Two

THE NEW WORLD. With Colin Farrell, Q’Orianka Kilcher, Christian Bale. Director: Terrence Malick (2:30). PG-13: Intense battle scenes. At Lincoln Square.

Terrence Malick's "The New World" is a lush, angry movie about how America got its seat-of-the-pants start.

It shows the good, the bad and the ugly of the interactions between the settlers at Jamestown and the Native Americans who sealed their own fate by lending those settlers a hand.

This is a sublimely rewarding yet prickly movie, anchored by the steady, hypnotic gaze of part-Peruvian, part-Swiss newcomer Q'Orianka Kilcher, who was 14 when she made this. Her luminous, ethnic looks transcend her role as the Powhatan princess Pocahontas to the point where she seems to embody the wild beauty and purity of the land itself - at least the land as it was before it gave rise to concrete, billboards and fast-food joints.

Revisionist history lesson gives way to romance. "The New World" can stand alone as a powerful, intimate love story - an impossible love, to be sure, but that's the most romantic kind.

Colin Farrell plays Capt. John Smith as a swashbuckling adventurer whose lust for new worlds (and women) to conquer was well served by his era. Kilcher is a wise, unspoiled Pocahontas, whose childlike joy and fierce intellect are an irresistible combination.

In reality, Smith and Pocahontas probably didn't hook up like that, despite Disney's animated version and a deeply ingrained collective fantasy. Some of "The New World" is deeply faithful to history (it was filmed around Jamestown, where the settlers landed), while some of it takes poetic license to get at greater truths.

In the end, it's a sweeping, important film that overturns everything you learned in school about the birth of this nation.

When the members of the Powhatan tribe first come across the clueless British settlers (who would have starved without agriculture lessons), they neither rattle spears nor attempt the kind of stilted negotiation movies usually depict. Instead, they swarm over the settlers, sniffing, touching, poking. They're curious and alarmed, territorial yet playful.

If tree-huggers gave Oscars, "The New World" would be a shoo-in. When Pocahontas travels to England to meet the queen (after she's married to another settler, the steadfast tobacco farmer John Rolfe, played with a different but no less effective romantic vibe by Christian Bale), we see the pruned hedges and landscaped gardens through her astonished eyes. Nature can be trussed up magnificently to appear safe and manageable, but implicit in Pocahontas' gaze is all that civilization has traded away in pursuit of progress.

Malick is a writer-director of extraordinary vision who is like an endangered species. Sightings of him are rare. "The New World" is only his fourth movie in 32 years, and it's up there with "Days of Heaven" in terms of ravishing visuals and a story that bundles the fate of its powerfully conflicted characters with that of the land they vainly try to tame.

Even if Smith and Pocahontas didn't take a tumble in the maize, historically speaking, they represent two complicated cultures that were fascinated with and terrified by each other, and whose inevitable mingling was their legacy to the America we inherited.

Originally published on December 23, 2005

Whatever he is, it seems that Colin puts his heart into his trade and we are there for him.

Friday, December 23, 2005


We don't like everything here, but we are loyal if nothing else. Mr. Farrell, it is hoped that you'll return to bless us with more high calibre performances. Rest up. Thank you for everything.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Taking Comfort ...

In this Reuters Item:

Early Oscar bets focus on 'Brokeback'

'It could be the gay Oscars this year'

Los Angeles, CA (Reuters) -- As Hollywood starts its annual awards season leading to the March 5 Oscars, key front-runners in main categories are either gay-themed or political films, with Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain, a drama of love between cowboys, leading the pack in the all-important best picture race.

It could be the gay Oscars this year because gay-themed movies could win almost all the major awards," said Tom O'Neill, show business awards columnist for TheEnvelope.com, referring to the sudden dominance Brokeback Mountain has gained so early in the race.

“Brokeback is going to be hard to beat. Rarely do we have this kind of award consensus for a movie, and its director (Taiwan's Ang Lee) is long overdue for an Oscar," O'Neill said.

"Brokeback," the first gay romance to make a bid for mainstream respectability, has already won the top awards handed out by critics in New York and Los Angeles and copped seven nominations for the January 16 Golden Globes, often a key indicator as to which way the Oscar wind might be blowing.

As for political films, the field is crowded with potential winners: "Munich, Good Night, and Good Luck, Syriana, and The Constant Gardener.

Many experts predict that Brokeback's toughest competition could come from either George Clooney's Good Night, and Good Luck, a steely-eyed examination of the McCarthy era, or Munich, Steven Spielberg's study of the price Israel paid for its reprisals for the murder of its athletes at the 1972 Olympics.

Before the race began and before anyone had a chance to see Spielberg's movie, it was being touted as the odds-on favorite to snare the best picture award, namely because Spielberg is a revered figure in Hollywood and had chosen to make his most serious movie since "Schindler's List."

The film is an examination of the cost of fighting terrorism and whether a democracy can use methods like targeted assassinations without destroying or shaming itself. (It opens in some cities Friday.)

The film was hit by a backlash as soon as it was shown to Jewish-American and Israeli groups, who argue that Spielberg ignored arguments that Israel was justified in using the methods it does in the war against terrorists.

New Republic literary editor Leon Wieseltier wrote that " Munich prefers a discussion of counterterrorism to a discussion of terrorism; or it thinks that they are the same discussion. This is an opinion that only people who are not responsible for the safety of other people can hold."

David Poland of Movie City News said that Munich has to overcome the impression that it is anti-Israeli and possibly can do this "because the anti-Israeli accusation is a neoconservative one and not a mainstream Jewish one."

He noted that at screenings at the headquarters of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, whose members give out the Oscars, Munich was well received.

Poland, himself, is optimistic, predicting that " Munich will still win the Academy Award. I think Brokeback will suffer when it goes into a wider viewing."

Other films with gay characters or gender-challenging themes that have won prominence this year include Capote, thanks to its standout performance by Philip Seymour Hoffman as writer Truman Capote, and Transamerica, with Felicity Huffman winning rave reviews as a man on the verge of completing a sex change.

In this movie, she's a woman playing a man about to become a woman -- a complicated performance. More than 20 years ago, Julie Andrews earned an Oscar nomination for playing a woman who becomes an allegedly male female impersonator in "Victor/Victoria," a comedy in which the confusion and role reversals were played for laughs.

Brokeback Mountain has done well at the box office -- even though it is only in 69 theaters, it was last week's eighth-highest-grossing movie.


CNN is currently running this item. It is a great antidote to the Mattel cretins for giving into the groups that demanded it pull its support from pro-choice groups [see Huffingtonpost.com] and Cheney's tie breaking vote yesterday that pulled funding from essentials like education. The 'Education President' indeed! [see Huffingtonpost.com].

At any rate, it should be noted that Seymour Hoffmann, extraordinarily versatile and prolific actor that he is, is well overdue his due, a fact that points to the perennial debate over whether it is body of work vs performance that merits the win.

It seems a very positive situation all the way around for those of the homosexual ilk. It continues to be vexing to find the perfect word for the opposite of "mainstream," e.g what is the opposite of "mainstream jewish?" A lox swimming upstream?

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

A Joyous Yuletide

The precise moment of the 2005 Solstice will be December 21, 2005 at 1:35 P.M. EST (18:35 GMT).

Here Comes the Sun King

'Tis the shortest day of the year, yet it is out of the darkness that we celebrate and await the light.

We are forever on our way.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

From Digital Spy in the UK

Bill Clinton records message for Elton

Former President Bill Clinton has reportedly recorded a video message to be played at Elton John's "hen-night."

The star will be holding a star-studded party tomorrow night before marrying his partner in one of the first Civil Partnerships in England. It is reportedly costing more than £100,000 and will see the likes of Ian McKellen in drag.

"We knew Elton had good connections," a source told The Daily Mirror, "But to see the ex-US president was something else."

Bill Clinton is said to praise the singer and his partner, saying: "If there were more people in the world like Elton, then the world would be a better place."

Fiona Edwards

Whose Bill of Rights?

It seems that we live in a Nation currently administered by people who not only forget history but disrespect its finer moments, it then becomes important to remind the good people who reside here of the first ten Articles of the Constitution of the United States:

Amendments 1-10 of the Constitution

The Conventions of a number of the States having, at the time of adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added, and as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government will best insure the beneficent ends of its institution;

Resolved, by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, two-thirds of both Houses concurring, that the following articles be proposed to the Legislatures of the several States, as amendments to the Constitution of the United States; all or any of which articles, when ratified by three-fourths of the said Legislatures, to be valid to all intents and purposes as part of the said Constitution, namely:

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Amendment II

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

Amendment III

No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Amendment V

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Amendment VI

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

Amendment VII

In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Amendment VIII

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Amendment IX

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment X

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

There is an intelligent and vigilant watch dog, who suggests that the display of the Ten Commandments takes the spotlight away from the true star of the show, The Bill of Rights visit the site and organization here.

Chris Bliss, its founder and president was recently interviewed on Air America, one of the brighter times there.

Mr. Bush has discounted and ignored the Fourth Amendment he needs to be taken to task. Write your representatives, Senator Feingold and Senator Specter.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Not Getting It Lately

It's not so much the difficulty in admitting that one reads a tabloid that causes discomfort, the true difficulty lies in accepting a simpleton's take on things without having the concrete opportunity to inform said simpleton of their inability to understand. Lloyd Grove writes the riveting Lowdown for the New York Daily News which is preceded in profound revelation only by the New York Post's Page Six. Today the brilliant Mr. Grove called Nathan Lane's very New Yorkese sense of humour an "'Emperor's New Clothes' Moment" for Brokeback Mountain. It's a mole hill, Mr. Grove. There's no story here. It's Nathan Lane being funny. It's what he does. Ever see The Birdcage? Jeffrey? Isn't there something better to report? Perhaps Bill O'Reilly making an obscene telephone call or harassing a hapless woman? Grove wrote:

But openly gay stage and screen star Nathan Lane went on the "Today" show Friday and, instead of treating the Ang Lee movie with customary reverence, had a satirical field day at "Brokeback's" expense.

"I wish I could quit you," twanged Lane - who was on the show ostensibly to promote "The Producers" - mocking Gyllenhaal's cowboy confession to his bunkmate.

"It's really when [Ledger] said, 'This thing gets hold of us the wrong time, the wrong place, we're dead,' " Lane recalled as Katie Couric and "Today" crew members giggled. "I thought, 'What do you mean, like the A&P? You're in the middle of nowhere! Get a ranch with the guy! Stop torturing these two poor women and get a room! What's the problem?' "

Quite funny and right on the money. The Producers on film unfortunately is neither it seems, but there's no need to feel sorry for Mr. Lane. He's not about to go on welfare or have all those years of a great career be erased. It could be worse: he could be writing a gossip column for a tabloid.

Free To Be You & Me

In a great Rolling Stone interview of some years ago when he was hitting his stride, Richard Gere said something to the effect of “If you want to believe I’m gay, then I’ll be gay. I’ll be whatever you want me to be.” It antedated the print ad he placed later on with his then consort – notwithstanding the advertisement proclaiming his heterosexuality Mr. Gere stands on the side of openness and equality. He has given us memorable gay roles on both stage and screen in Bent and And the Band Played On. His place in the current AIDS awareness ad appearing on the walls of the MTA underground attests to it. He is in good company with Elizabeth Taylor, Greg Louganis and Whoopi Goldberg et al. His career seems to be none the worse for his non-denial.

Robbie Williams solo singer of boy band lineage on the other hand will now be inducted into the Tom Cruise/Liberace Hall of Silly Poofters for suing those who have made the horrible, very terrible, earth shattering accusation that he is [shudder] gay.

Perhaps he is trying to avoid being the subject of an urban lie (legend is too good a word for drivel) like Mr. Gere’s. Before discussing anything else let it be said that it seems that straight people with not much going on in their lives are most titillated by the idea of a rodent being able to make its way beyond the human anal sphincters. The brilliant defunct TV show Action addressed the issue brilliantly demonstrating how the rumour might have happened.

That being said, Mr. Williams has to know that most people, especially the people who would listen to his music don’t care. In what way could it hurt his musical career?

Frank Rich wrote recently in the New York Times:

The history of "Brokeback Mountain" as a film project in itself crystallizes how fast the climate has shifted. [re: the public’s attitude toward homosexuality] Mr. McMurtry and Ms. Ossana bought the screen rights to the Proulx story after it was published in The New Yorker in 1997. That was the same year the religious right declared a fatwa on Disney because Ellen DeGeneres came out of the closet in her ABC prime-time sitcom. In the eight years it took "Brokeback Mountain" to overcome Hollywood's shilly-shallying and at last be made, the Disney boycott collapsed and Ms. DeGeneres's star rose. She's now a mainstream daytime talk-show host competing with Oprah. No one has forgotten she's a lesbian. No one cares.

It just might be that time once again to remind the likes of Mr. Williams and others who are wont to participate in this folly that Liberace sued under similar circumstances and won. If one must sue for unnecessary money let the money then be given to good homosexual causes and let their be acknowledgment of those who are as valuable human beings.

Admittedly some of the story perpetrated by the British Press alleged that Williams had trysts. While it is also important to maintain the right to privacy, then it might be more pragmatic and less dramatic to get the paper to retract an untruth might have been enough. No, it had to be about his sexual identity and orientation; nevertheless, his lawyer made the effort to proclaim that Williams was not a homosexual as if it were an illness or a crime of which he was accused.

Since it very likely thast he of the boy band pedigree might take inot consideration that his success mightbe due to the gay among us buying his music and going to see him perform. In this Post-Modern Age others might benefit from an admission or at the very least acknowledging that there is nothing wrong with being considered a gay person and there might be something good in acknowledging its goodness. Perhaps it is time that the world become a safe place for those who are homosexual. Perhaps it is time that the last victim of a violent homophobic attack be just that, the last.

Yes, Gay is Good, Mr. Williams, it is not an accusation. Get over yourself, please.

Sunday, December 18, 2005


I consider myself a logical, analytical person. I approach life in a reasoned manner, assuming that, no matter what happens, I can separate the wheat from the chaff, separate what's real from what my emotions want me to believe is real.

But as it happens logic sometimes doesn't serve; sometimes only deeply-felt emotion will do. And that's the way it is with Brokeback Mountain. So rather than this being a film review, an analysis of themes, a comparison of strengths and weaknesses, it's a very personal gathering together of feelings.

In the last fifty years I've probably only cried five or six times and of those, perhaps only 2 or 3 in public. Credit, or blame, my Irish-Canadian WASP heritage and maybe the era in which I grew up, but men aren't supposed to cry, so tears do not come easily.

A death, a personal loss or some rare convergence of event and memory that tripped an emotional trigger – that's it. Otherwise I'm the rock that other people lean on, the person they come to when they want to share their innermost pain. I sympathise, I empathise, but they know I won't cry with them and that's what they want.

And yet, today . . .

Today I bawled my eyes out in a movie theatre. I managed not to cry on the subway, but I cried in the car on the way home. I cried as I started to write this. It makes no sense, it's only a film. A story told by two-dimensional characters on a screen. Nothing more than moving pictures on a wall.

And yet, today . . .

Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal make the pain and longing, the frustration and helplessness, the brief days of joy and the unbearable months of separation, so immediate, so heartfelt that Ennis and Jack and the lives they lead take on an intense reality such as I have never experienced in a film before.

They come alive only when they are with each other. In existences stifled by convention and boxed in by fear, they must always hide an essential part of who they are - except from one another. Apart, they are generally detached, almost preoccupied. Following their separated lives is like seeing them through a camera that is always slightly out of focus. When they are with each other, they become whole. And eventually they are, as Annie Proulx wrote of the two shirts Ennis found in Jack's closet, "…the pair like two skins, one inside the other, two in one."

I cried for all kinds of reasons.

I cried because of the lives that were wasted, because Jack died, because all Ennis had was a couple of old shirts and a postcard, because they never got to say goodbye, because they could never be together, because neither got the one thing in life they deserved – to share every day with each other.

I cried because loving someone isn't always enough, because who we are, what others require us to be, can keep us from who we should be, because sometimes all we are left with is memories we can't share with anyone.

I cried because too many of us lead lives of quiet desperation, lives that we have made or that have been forced upon us, lives where we can only love in the wilderness, lives that drift and end unfulfilled, surrounded with regret.

And maybe I cried a little bit for myself. Because it reminded me that I too have a Brokeback Mountain in my past. That one person of whom I can think and say, "Maybe things would have been different, if only . . ."

Logically, I know this is just a story, that these are just fictional characters and, logically, I should be able to reject that it and they should have the power to do this to me. But as I said at the beginning, logic has nothing to do with it.

He Was A Friend of Mine

He was a friend of mine
He was a friend of mine
Every time I think about him now
Lord I just can't keep from cryin'
'Cause he was a friend of mine

He died on the road
He died on the road
He just kept on movin'
Never reaped what he could sow
And he was a friend of mine

I stole away and cried
I stole away and cried
'Cause I never had too much money
And I never been quite satisfied
And he was a friend of mine

He never done no wrong
He never done no wrong
A thousand miles from home
And he never harmed no one
And he was a friend of mine

He was a friend of mine
He was a friend of mine
Every time I hear his name
Lord I just can't keep from cryin'
'Cause he was a friend of mine.

Copyright © 1962; renewed 1990 MCA

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Right Back Where It Belongs

Ford does indeed have a better idea. After at first giving into the threats of the American Family Association, Ford Motor Company’s heart has returned to the right place – or rather to where a stockpile of disposable income resides. Ride that Mustang!

Gay Ads Back On Track For Ford
by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff


Ford Motor Company on Wednesday agreed to almost all demands from LGBT groups following a hastily organized meeting earlier this week with the company over a claim by the American Family Association that the company had made a pact with it to end support of the LGBT community. The AFA said it was ending a threatened boycott of Ford after the company agreed to pull advertising from the gay media and to stop funding LGBT organizations.

On Monday Ford met with LGBT leaders in a Washington hotel to hear their concerns about the AFA statement. In a statement released Wednesday afternoon, Ford said that it would feature all of its brands in a 2006 ad campaign in LGBT publications. Previously Ford was advertising only its Land Rover and Jaguar brands in the gay press.

"It is my hope that this will remove any ambiguity about Ford's desire to advertise to all important audiences and put this particular issue behind us," said the letter signed by Ford V.P. Joe W. Laymon.

The buying power of the LGBT community is estimated at $610 billion a year.

Without specifically mentioning the AFA by name, the company statement reaffirmed its commitment to its progressive workplace policies. But despite a demand from LGBT leadership that Ford commit to maintaining its funding of gay rights groups the company was less definite.

"You asked directly whether Ford Motor Company will continue to support non-profit groups and events in the GLBT community. While we still support certain events, I know you understand that the business situation will limit the extent of our support in all communities in 2006," Laymon's letter said.

Nevertheless, LGBT groups said they were encouraged by the general tone of the letter.

“We welcome today’s statement from Ford Motor Company and commend their firm stance in support of inclusion," the 19 LGBT civil rights groups said in a joint statement.

"It is an unequivocal reaffirmation of Ford’s historic commitment to our community and the core American values of fairness and equality. Moreover, it is conclusive proof of what Ford leaders have repeatedly assured us -- that there never was any deal with anti-LGBT organizations concerning Ford’s support for our community.
The AFA has not commented on the Ford commitment to the gay community.

“We applaud Ford Motor for taking such a firm stand on behalf of our community — pledging to continue support for our community’s organizations and events, and increasing — not decreasing — its advertising in our community’s publications to include all Ford brands," said Matt Foreman, Executive Director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. "This is a very positive, welcome outcome."

“Ford’s action is a positive outcome and win for equality and fairness,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “Ford has sent a powerful signal that corporate America values its gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees and consumers."

The AFA has a long history of using boycotts to try to force companies to adhere to a strict conservative view, but with mixed success.

It boycotted Proctor and Gamble last year after the Cincinnati-based P&G supported the repeal of an anti-gay law in that city.

In April AFA declared victory over Proctor & Gamble after the company ended most of its advertising in the gay media. The group claimed that more than 300,000 people had signed pledges not to buy P&G products.

The effect on P&G is believed to be one of the major reasons Microsoft decided to withdraw its support of a gay rights bill in the state of Washington following a meeting with a conservative Christian leader. Following outrage from the company's gay workers and LGBT rights groups in Washington the company reversed course again and announced it would support gay rights measures in the future.

In May, the AFA took aim at Kraft Foods - stopping just short of calling for a full boycott - for sponsoring the 2006 Gay Games in Chicago. Kraft has not budged in its support for the games.

Earlier this month another Conservative Christian group, Focus on the Family, announced it was withdrawing its funds from Wells Fargo because of the banks involvement in pro-gay causes.

©365Gay.com 2005

The so-called right in this country seems to be enamoured with the idea of war. Be it Iraq, Culture or Xmas. Onward Christian Solders indeed! But Blessed are the Peacemakers. From the AFA website:

AFA considering boycott of Ford Motor Company
(Tupelo, MS) - The American Family Association says that Ford Motor Company reneged on some agreements reached in discussions with the automobile giant, and the organization is considering its next move.

“We had an agreement with Ford, worked out in good faith. Unfortunately, some Ford Motor Company officials made the decision to violate the good faith agreement. We are now considering our response to the violation and expect to reach a decision very soon,” said Donald E. Wildmon, chairman of AFA.

AFA had called for a boycott of Ford last spring because of Ford’s support for the homosexual agenda and homosexual marriage but suspended the boycott for six months at the request of a group of Ford dealers. Wildmon said AFA and Ford officials hammered out an agreement in the interim that was accepted by both parties.

“All we wanted was for Ford to refrain from choosing sides in the cultural war, and supporting groups which promote same-sex marriage is not remaining neutral,” Wildmon stated.

He stated that because Ford broke the agreement, the option of a boycott is now very much alive.

Wonder where Toby Keith comes down on this issue?

It's Come to This

From Yahoo News.

By JENNIFER LOVEN, Associated Press Writer 27 minutes ago

President Bush said Saturday he has no intention of stopping his personal authorizations of a post-Sept. 11 secret eavesdropping program in the U.S., lashing out at those involved in revealing it while defending it as crucial to preventing future attacks.

"This is a highly classified program that is crucial to our national security," he said in a radio address delivered live from the White House's Roosevelt Room.

"This authorization is a vital tool in our war against the terrorists. It is critical to saving American lives. The American people expect me to do everything in my power, under our laws and Constitution, to protect them and their civil liberties and that is exactly what I will continue to do as long as I am president of the United States," Bush said.

Angry members of Congress have demanded an explanation of the program, first revealed in Friday's New York Times and whether the monitoring by the National Security Agency without obtaining warrants from a court violates civil liberties. One Democrat said in response to Bush's remarks on the radio that Bush was acting more like a king than the elected president of a democracy.

Bush said the program was narrowly designed and used "consistent with U.S. law and the Constitution." He said it is used only to intercept the international communications of people inside the United States who have been determined to have "a clear link" to al-Qaida or related terrorist organizations.

The program is reviewed every 45 days, using fresh threat assessments, legal reviews by the Justice Department, White House counsel and others, and information from previous activities under the program, the president said.

Without identifying specific lawmakers, Bush said congressional leaders have been briefed more than a dozen times on the program's activities.

The president also said the intelligence officials involved in the monitoring receive extensive training to make sure civil liberties are not violated.

Appearing angry at points during his eight-minute address, Bush said he had reauthorized the program more than 30 times since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and plans to continue doing so.

"I intend to do so for as long as our nation faces a continuing threat from al-Qaida and related groups," he said.

The president contended the program has helped "detect and prevent possible terrorist attacks in the U.S. and abroad," but did not provide specific examples.

He said it is designed in part to fix problems raised by the Sept. 11 commission, which found that two of the suicide hijackers were communicating from San Diego with al-Qaida operatives overseas.

"The activities I have authorized make it more likely that killers like these 9-11 hijackers will be identified and located in time," he said.

In an effort by the administration that appeared coordinated to stem criticism, Bush's remarks echoed — in many cases word-for-word — those issued Friday night by a senior intelligence official who spoke on condition of anonymity. The president's highly unusual discussion of classified activities showed the sensitive nature of the program, whose existence was revealed as Congress was trying to renew the terrorism-fighting Patriot Act and complicated that effort, a top priority of Bush's.

Senate Democrats joined with a handful of Republicans on Friday to stall the bill. Those opposing the renewal of key provisions of the act that are expiring say they threaten constitutional liberties.

Reacting to Bush's defense of the NSA program, Sen. Russell Feingold, D-Wis., said the president's remarks were "breathtaking in how extreme they were."

Feingold said it was "absurd" that Bush said he relied on his inherent power as president to authorize the wiretaps.

"If that's true, he doesn't need the Patriot Act because he can just make it up as he goes along. I tell you, he's President
George Bush, not King George Bush. This is not the system of government we have and that we fought for," Feingold told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

The president had harsh words for those who talked about the program to the media, saying their actions were illegal and improper.

"As a result, our enemies have learned information they should not have," he said. "The unauthorized disclosure of this effort damages our national security and puts our citizens at risk."

Friday, December 16, 2005

Why aren't they nelly?

Brokeback Mountain opens in Canada today in 3 cities, and in additional cities next week. The film has shown previously at the Toronto Film Festival in September, so at least some have already seen it. There have been several recent reviews and, as in the US, these have generally been enthusiastic. What follows is a mostly excellent review on CBC.ca today, except for one incongruous comment. More on that at the end.

Final Frontier
Brokeback Mountain’s story of cowboy lovers is a fairy-tale romance
By Alec Scott

We all replay certain, significant scenes from our past: the first or last meeting with a friend; a turning point in a relationship with a parent. In the process of remembering, these scenes slow down in our minds, as though time itself has been stretched. While other memories may shrink to nothing, these ones sprawl out.

The opening scene of Brokeback Mountain plays out with the same slow pacing of an oft-analyzed memory. Two young cowboys, Ennis (Heath Ledger) and Jack (Jake Gyllenhaal), size each other up in the spring sunshine, while applying for summer jobs herding sheep. Jack curses his unreliable pick-up truck; Ennis chews grass and tips his Stetson to shade his eyes. The two don’t exchange a single word. It seems a nothing moment occurring in the middle of nowhere (next to a trailer in Signal, Wyoming, in 1963), but it marks the beginning of a lifelong love affair.

The scene’s stately delivery by director Ang Lee bodes well for what follows. The film, which is based a short story by Annie Proulx, often manages to make such ordinary moments almost mythic. Although the movie covers the bulk of two lives, Lee is a man with a slow hand who never rushes unnecessarily.

Up on the mountain, the shepherds swap miserable-upbringing stories around the fire. One is a dispossessed orphan, the other has a nasty old cuss for a father. Against a backdrop of majestic cliffs and coursing rivers, they laconically share the plain, sad facts of their childhoods: “he never came to see me ride at a rodeo;” “they repossessed the farm a year after my folks died.”

With Brokeback Mountain, the versatile Lee — whose work has ranged from the arty Asian fight film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon to the Jane Austen adaptation Sense and Sensibility, from the comic book spectacle of The Incredible Hulk (his least inspired movie) to the suburban gothic The Ice Storm (his most) — masters the vernacular of yet another genre. As in classic Westerns, Lee paints a stark contrast between the barren emotional landscapes inhabited by his characters and the grand natural ones.

For one summer, Ennis and Jack are afforded a respite from their hardscrabble lives, and they roughhouse and joke their way into each other’s arms. They know from the start they will never enjoy an open relationship. In its impossibility, the film plays the same love-can’t-quite-conquer-all notes that made Casablanca (and, more recently, Todd Haynes’s Far from Heaven) sing.

Once they come down to earth, they both get married; Ennis to his high-school sweetheart (Michelle Williams), Jack to a rodeo queen (Anne Hathaway). Neither the short story nor the film treat these women as one-note victims and the actresses each give stand-out performances. The rodeo mistress grows brassy and callous (and assumes a peroxided ‘do to match), while the gentle sweetheart acquires a spine.

But it is the men’s movie and Ledger and Gyllenhaal throw themselves into their roles (and at each other) with abandon. It’s a little jarring that neither of the characters seems the slightest bit nelly; it’s as if this is a vision of gay life brought to you by the Log Cabin Republicans (the U.S. group of gay conservatives). It’s equally implausible that despite having been taught to hate queers — as a lesson, Ennis’s dad once showed him the corpse of a gay man who had been beaten to death — that both boys’ innards didn’t somehow get completely twisted. They are still innocent enough to sustain a loving, long-term affair and be, in their own ways, true to each other. Again, an “As if!” bell goes off. But the prettiness of the fantasy eventually wins out over such quibbles.

Lee details the middle and end of the affair with the same slow precision as its beginning, and the whole has a fairy-tale quality. If it was never really like this, it ought to have been, because the sweet that Proulx and Lee share with their protagonists far outweighs the bitter.

It’s only in retrospect that we learn the full meaning of such moments as that first meeting. That’s why we replay them. Brokeback Mountain’s first scene could have been portrayed as the moment when everything started to go wrong. Instead, it marks the beginning of a rise into the high country. Once visited, those heights can’t easily be forgotten. The memory is not diminished by all the ensuing drabness, and no number of replays can take its power away.

Now, just a minute here

It’s a little jarring that neither of the characters seems the slightest bit nelly; it’s as if this is a vision of gay life brought to you by the Log Cabin Republicans (the U.S. group of gay conservatives).

While I find the rest of that paragraph not particularly well-reasoned, I really wonder about this part.

Hmmm. Does this guy know any gay people? He writes about theatre and film, so you would think he should at least have met one or two. Then again, maybe all the gay people he's met are Liberace clones. To use his own words, "As if!"

Being gay doesn't always mean you have to have "nelly" characteristics and being straight doesn't mean you won't have

Besides, what the fuck does he think those should be in this film - perhaps eating beans out of a can with the pinky extended or walking like Nathan Lane in The Birdcage as he attempted to mimic John Wayne's gait or

Ennis: What do you think of chartreuse for the inside of the tent?
Jack: What's wrong with you, Mary! With my skin tone?

Of course, Proulx's vision of the ordinariness of her characters is strongly drawn in the novella - these are men who externally typify the macho cowboy myth, but they are also men who have sex with one another and, more importantly, love one another.

Perhaps this is the truly disconcerting part for Scott and others.

If these two men are gay then what about the guy sitting next to you on the subway, the contractor who's rebuilding your kitchen, the cop who stopped you last time you were driving too fast, the stodgy old accountant who finds you the tax breaks you need. If you can't identify who's gay then how can you know what to fear.

And then again, maybe . . .

Maybe that's what this film should do. It should make it so disconcerting for those with preconceived notions of what it is to be gay that they can't trust their prejudices any more. Maybe, just maybe, that's not just another pretty fantasy.

Ah well, that's what this stodgy old accountant would like to believe.

The Di Has Been Cast Off

Never let it be said that this BLOG and website is not the right combination of the sublime and the ridiculous. Perhaps it's time to give proper recognition to the latter.

Forget that All My Children fed its viewers the line that ordinarily very sharp men like JR Chandler and Tad Martin fell for Di being Dixie. Forget that the actress pretending to be JR's mother is actually younger than Jacob Young, JR's portrayer.

The good news is that Young and Michael E. Knight troopers both kept their acting skills along for the ride. Young has been praised on these pages and more than one of his photos can be found in our Favourites Gallery on the main site.

Other good news is that the roster of talented acotrs over at All My Children will have a new addition or readdition as the case may be. Carolyn Hinsey reports in today's New York Daily News:

But the big news is the "Christmas miracle" that "AMC" accomplished this week. They lured Cady McClain back as Dixie, signed her to a contract, and then post-taped the holiday episodes airing Dec. 23 and 26 to insert her into them. "Obviously, Dixie didn't die," says McClain. "She's somewhere in Europe and she will have a conversation with Di."

Yup, Di knew all along that Dixie was alive. See next week's column for the entire scoop.

A bit of trivia, on some cast lists, McClain is listed as Dixie #1. She was not the first Dixie. Be that as it may for AMC fans she is Dixie and many will be very happy to have the real Dixie back. Real work for real actors is always a good thing.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

That other Cowboy Movie

A great hidden gem among Westerns is Tommy Lee Jones’ Good Ol’ Boys in which Al Gore’s former college roommate shines as an actor and writer. Well, he’s up to his old tricks. We are grateful --

The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada

In the western drama penned by Guillermo Arriaga (21 Grams), Jones plays Pete Perkins, an earnest ranch hand who goes to great lengths to bury his murdered friend in his hometown in Mexico.

Jones won best actor at the Cannes Film Festival this year for his poignant performance as Perkins." Estrada" is also nominated for four Independent Spirit Awards including best film.

Q: You don't think it is a western?
A: I would hope that this movie would defy categorization and albeit the need for it.

[above from The Village Voice]


(AP) - Tommy Lee Jones brings his same dry manner and sly humour in front of the camera to his feature debut behind it as director of The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada.

Jones also co-stars in this spare, old-school Western as a Texas rancher investigating the killing of one of his employees (Julio Cesar Cedillo), an illegal immigrant from Mexico with whom he'd formed an unexpected bond, and whose friendship inspires his vengeful trek across the Rio Grande.

Working from a screenplay by Guillermo Arriaga, whose nonlinear narrative recalls his earlier scripts for Amores Perros and 21 Grams, Jones lulls us in with wide-screen, scrub-brushed vistas (some of which were shot on his own ranch) and the quirky rhythms of small-town life before reaching his destination with a surprisingly intense, satisfying climax.

Until then, Three Burials is all about killing time - in simple, often absurd ways, out in the middle of nowhere.

As a new border patrol agent, watching for Mexicans to cross in groups from their own vast, dry nothingness into more of the same in the United States, Barry Pepper's Mike Norton spends his days flipping through the pages of a Hustler magazine. And waiting.

His tackily gorgeous, bored wife, Lou Ann (January Jones), spends her days chain-smoking at the local truck stop diner and dreaming of going shopping at the mall in faraway Odessa.

Rachel (Melissa Leo), a longtime waitress at the diner, alleviates her own boredom by dallying with both Jones's character, Pete Perkins, and the sheriff (Dwight Yoakam, a perfect jerk here as he was in Sling Blade) - even though she's married.

The fatal shooting and hasty burial of Melquiades, told in flashbacks and from different perspectives, shakes up all their lives. It also sheds light on who this quiet, polite man was - besides just "a good Mexican," as one clueless cop describes him - and causes the ornery, slightly insane Pete to realize who he's capable of being.

His promise to Melquiades that he'd bury his friend in his tiny, remote hometown if he died takes him on an arduous horseback journey over many kilometres of steep, ruggedly beautiful terrain, shot with gritty realism by Oscar-winning cinematographer Chris Menges. The strangers he meets along his odyssey adventure show him unexpected kindnesses on both sides of the border - Pete is much more agreeable in Spanish than he is in English.

But he's not alone. Having determined the identity of Melquiades' killer, Pete drags him along for the ride - literally - by beating him up, handcuffing him and strapping him onto the horse behind him. Their trip is often painful to watch, partly because of the languid pacing but mostly because of Pete's bloodily abusive way of teaching this remorseless killer a lesson.

In classic Western tradition, justice and redemption come as days and kilometres pass. And with time and travel, Jones proves he's a director of understated skill and unexpected romanticism. Pete's loyalty to Melquiades and the revelations of his journey stir something deep within him - and in us.

Three stars out of four.

The Canadian Press, 2005

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Happy Holidays

How We Do What We Do

Brian Rodgers is how we do it. Discovering Brian is one of the best things a body can do. Christopher Meloni discovered that early on when Brian created his award winning official website. Brian has blessed Column of Life with his magic touch. Brian is not only endowed with cyber magic he is only one of the best people in cyber town. The whys and wherefores of a personal relationship can be reduced to the concepts of goodness, kindness, humour and honesty. He doesn't even have to be in the same room with you.

The following is his Christmas message:

Remember how you used to get long Christmas letters from people detailing what had happened during the year? Well, this is the electronic version. Except it's not really all about me. Honest it's not.

Now, you have the option of skipping it altogether by quickly scrolling to the end and getting to the important thing right away. I guess that could be a Christmas present you might choose to open early.

However, you're not going to do that, are you.

What's (maybe not so) new

First, thanks to all who have enquired about my health. After getting the right medication mix, everything seems to be fine. However, it's a pain remembering to take everything and when. I now have these pill containers for various times of day, each day of the week. It's official - I have become my father. Still, I have to admit that with the blood pressure and diabetes under control I'm feeling the best I have in a long time.

Work is as hectic as ever, but I'm still enjoying it. There are times when my alarm goes off in the morning that I think, "Ya know, I could retire now and not wait 2 years," but I've learned not to listen to myself. Besides when I look out my window at home, the best I can hope for is to see the odd squirrel; at work, chances are it will be deer. What can be better than working in the middle of a forest? It's almost deserving of an opera - no, no, not "Hansel and Gretel".

Once again, my trip to NYC was postponed. I know, I know. What else is new. But honestly, it's not really my fault. Oh, all right, it is my fault. I've decided that I'm no longer going to say that I'm going to NYC; I'm going to say when I go to NYC. I really want to make it to join Giovanni for the AIDS Walk next year. He's been doing a great job raising money, but I figure he needs some friendly competition.

On the bright side, I haven't had to move this year. My raucous, inconsiderate, let's-party-at-3-in-the-morning upstairs neighbours are no longer around. Trust me, this old Victorian house wasn't built to take circuit party music. Neither, of course, was this old not-so-Victorian tenant.

Then there was my nocturnal visitor, Vlad, the bat. Now, that's a story, but if I haven't already regaled you with it, it's a bit too long for a Christmas letter that threatens to rival "War And Peace". Maybe later.

And speaking of Giovanni. No, the bat didn't remind me of him. In case you forgot already, go back three paragraphs.

Worth A Visit

As most of you know, my web design hobby keeps me busy in my spare time. So ...

Giovanni's (and his ever-present companion Bernice Clifton's) Column of Life is the place for lots of actors' and musicians' photo pages, articles, opinions and musings, as well as an always up-to-date blog.

Christina's peaen to Gary Raymond chronicles an extensive career of films, television and theatre that has spanned 5 decades.

Chris Meloni's Official Home Page is my oldest site. That's not to say that it's stale or outdated, though. Chris continues strong as Stabler in "Law & Order: SVU" and this summer wowed theatre-goers and critics alike as the lead in Arthur Miller's "A View From The Bridge" at the Gate Theatre in Dublin

And my newest - Daniel Petronijevic's Unofficial Web Page. Yes, another actor, but this time a young Canadian whose portrayal of the troubled gay football player in "Playmakers" was perfect. He's not well known, but deserves to be.

And, as is my custom, I usually feature a few sites not of my own design that I've run across in my cyber-travels

Thanks to Gio for leading me to Michael Clay's Official Website. A man who follows his own path, this Austin-based singer/songwriter uses his music to explore his soul. And a delightful soul it is.

Maybe you'd like to unwrap some of Lewis Payton's photos. Now, Santa, I've been a good boy, honest I have. Can you fill my stocking with one of those?

What's that, Santa? Oh. OK, I'll take a photo too.

and as always

Please support the
Lesbian Gay Bi Youth Line

They shouldn't have to feel alone

Of course, my (in)famous newsletters wouldn't be complete without . . .

All things bright and gay

There's too much bad news. Afghanistan, Iraq, terrorism, tsunamis, hurricanes, earthquakes - man-made and natural disasters that at times seem overwhelming. So at Christmas, while we can't and shouldn't forget these, some cheerier fare - all with a gay bent (yep, pun intended).

Same sex marriage is a reality in all of Canada. Legislation passed the House of Commons, the Senate and received Royal Assent on July 21, 2005.

That's not to say it wasn't a struggle and that challenges still don't exist, particularly within one political party, but it's a cause for celebration.

Gays and lesbians have had most of the same rights as other Canadians for many years. Now the circle is complete.

One of the more interesting stories that didn't make a big splash (and that's how it should be) was the marriage of a sergeant and a warrant officer in May at Nova Scotia's Greenwood Airbase.

Must Read
  • Brokeback Mountain - Annie Proulx
  • Tab Hunter Confidential - Tab Hunter with Eddie Muller
  • The Year of Ice - Brian Malloy
  • Troublemaker and Fadeout - Joseph Hansen
Must See (DVD) With Anticipation

Christmas offers us a unique gift - the release on December 9th of Ang Lee's film adaptation of Annie Proulx's Brokeback Mountain starring Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal. Filmed in Alberta on essentially a small budget this has the potential of being the gay movie that will cross into Oscar territory.

A movie that has already won over most of the critics, including taking the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, and has left audiences in tears.

Plain and simple, it's a story about love. A love that neither man can understand, but one that ties them inexorably over 20 years. One review I read says it has the feel of "Romeo and Juliet" - two people whose love is undeniable, beyond their control and destined for tragedy.

Check out Andy Towle's Towleroad for more and, in particular, Giovanni's Brokeback film page for photos and reviews.

Now, if only Patricia Nell Warren, who once again owns the rights, could finally succeed in her quest to bring The Front Runner to us.

And with that, my friends

Wishing You Peace And Love