The Wizard of W&G

We, all the fags of the world, have watched every version of The Wizard of Oz ever put out, and, although after a few different versions we get tired, but then we see Judy in all her glory and BAM! life is good again. Having said that, let’s think about a new scenario. Imagine the characters of Will & Grace doing The Wizard of Oz.

Now think about that for a moment, because it would really only be funny if you avoid the clichés. Like so:

  • Will would have to play the Scarecrow. Not because he lacks a brain, but because he doesn’t, so it adds a nice twist to his bits.
  • Grace would have to be the Wicked Witch of the West. Because she’s not really evil, as we’ve all learned from Wicked and because Grace is really the right blend of strength and neurosis to channel the twists that this casting gives.
  • Jack would have to be the Tin Man. It leaves him open to complain to Will with things like “But I shouldn’t be the Tin Man, you’re the heartless bastard.” Of course, this can lead to Will replying with something like “That might be true, but you haven’t been this hard since that time with the football team in high school.”
  • Guapo, Jack’s parrot, would be Toto. Just because it would be funny. I know that Jack owns a dog, but with the death of Stan a while back, Jack’s dog will need to play The Wizard.
  • Karen, in perhaps the most inspired casting moment, will play Dorothy. Just imagine the moment when she comes upon the Wicked Witch of the West and spouts off with “Honey honey honey, what’s this? What’s going on? What’s with all the green?”

I know that this *could* happen, but there is no reason to think that it *would*. Right now, tho, there are several queers at a coffee shop in Houston who are cracking up coming up with lines for this. Actually, if you can think of lines, do post them below. Cheers!

Seeing RED.

It’s been a long while since I’ve had a break to spend time writing about my life. So long, in fact, that my friends in Maine have begun to wonder if I’m dead. No such luck, babes, no such luck. Just been incredibly busy with RED and things are going quite well.

It just didn’t seem that way until recently. In fact, it seemed almost hopeless until just a few days ago. Three days ago, to be precise. But all the work that was put into the magazine appears to be paying off, and it seems that it’s launching soon, and we’re very excited about it. Not the least of it because it becomes a *real* job for me now, and not just a “I’ll help and we’ll see” situation, which of course means I’m getting PAID!

So this officially begins a new chapter in my life. I’ve been a student, worked in a hotel, served in several restaurants, worked in many offices and suffered through the stupidity of corporate America, been in marketing and advertising, created videos and worked on films, and now I’m in the magazine business. It’s all been interesting, some of it more than others, and the education that I’ve gotten in the past 16 years (holy balls!) I wouldn’t be able to find at any University in the world.

But more on that later. RED is coming to Houston, and it’s only a moment in time before we paint your town, too!

Opera Theater of Oregon

Opera Theater of Oregon It’s something that I need to comment on, but haven’t had a chance with all the stuff that is going on with RED right now (more on that later, I promise!). However, OTO is absolutely the best idea to hit classical music in about 45 years. Maybe 50.

Anyway, OTO is the organization that is striving to bring opera to the masses by doing an educated outreach program that includes a Young Artist Studio working on shorter productions giving each artist a chance to shine, and also producing the mainstay operas, like La Traviata, sung in English so that everyone can understand them. For this, Angela Niederloh and Amy Russell Cathey deserve great praise and support.

And support is what you should give. So go to the site and give them some cash. It’s a tax deductible donation, so you’re helping the arts and stopping the waste of money in Washington at the same time. What could be better?

I wish I could write this way

dooce is the site of The Fabulous Heather B. Armstrong, Recovering Mormon and Constantly Constipated Wit. There is no one funnier on the web, and frankly, if you aren’t reading her blog, you aren’t living!

Houston, we have a problem!

I was checking out the news online and found that Apple had released a new version of Final Cut, which is core technology for what I really want to be doing – film. And TV, but film is a good place to be. So I went over to the Final Cut Pro User Group Network only to find that the lovely pages haven’t been updated in quite some time. Like a year or so.

I realize there are many things in our lives that make having to deal with extra groups too much, and that especially with something like Film, where the competition is high and the playing field is anything but level, that sometimes getting together in these groups to share ideas and whatnot isn’t, well, productive to your business. Or it feels that way. I suspect it’s more of a feeling than anything else. But then I see that sites aren’t updated and that they are ugly to begin with, and I think, well, it’s pretty sad when this happens.

So I guess I have two points for this blog post – is there a Houston Final Cut Pro Users Group? And if so, what is the website for more information. I will be stopping at the Apple store in the Galleria to find out tomorrow, although if anyone has any knowledge on this, by all means, post a comment and let me know.

The other thing I want to know is, have any of these groups thought of using blogging software, like WordPress, which I adore, or Movable Type, which I admire but don’t use? Their sites could be much better if they did. Perhaps I will have to go fix this, and maybe have something new to do in Houston.

It’s up!

Red Nightlife Is Up And while that may not seem like much, it’s been a fun ride for me. I got to play at being a web guy again, and frankly, it’s just play. There are so many things I just don’t know how to do – yet. But anyway, the site works, looks mostly ok except for some random issues with the picture pages and whatnot, and some other weird linking issues. However, it’s 90% there, and for now, that’s good enough.

I hate having to do that, tho. =(

Pride and RED

So I spent the weekend in Phoenix doing the Pride festival and launching Red Nightlife which was a blast. I happen to think that the launch of this new magazine is going to really change the landscape of the gay nightlife mags that have, honestly, sucked ass. And not in the pleasant warm way. But why am I writing about this in my blog?

Because I have to post something in the hopes that someone will read it, right? Ha ha ha, it is to laugh.

No, I’m posting this because RED is a great study in branding as a tool for doing something that is already being done by others. Branding successfully will make all the difference in the world, and RED has done it quite well. The logo is very well done, to the point that when stacked against the competition, it’s big, bold and readable, and frankly, it’s a beautiful thing.

And of course, it’s also red, the color, with a dash of white.

Now the dingbat is the cool part. I know that many of the non-design people of the world are thinking “what is a dingbat, you, um, dingbat?” and it’s really simple. It’s the part of the logo that is used, on it’s own, to represent the company. Why? Because the logo includes the name of the company, but the dingbat is, if used well, the non-word replacement that will, hopefully, remind everyone of the company. It becomes the final piece of the brand that makes the difference in marketing.

As an example, think about this – what’s the logo for Infiniti? It’s the name of the company, Infiniti, under the dingbat, which is the oval with the road lines going to, well, infinity. Very well done, and frankly, most people would think that is the logo, and the name isn’t part of it. Wrongo, but thanks for playing. The rare case that a company doesn’t have a dingbat but does have a logo that dual functions as a dingbat would be like UPS which built their new logo around their old logo’s shape. The shield functions as a dingbat, but only because the company never calls themselves “United Parcel Service” anymore.

So RED had a logo, and in the logo was a star in the middle of the ‘d’ and that star became, though a happy accident, a dingbat. Perhaps the most well received and liked dingbat ever. And it’s not a circle of red, it’s an oblong globe and skewed white star that just rocks. So much so that even the lesbians put the sticker on their cars – so if you see a Subaru around Phoenix with a RED dingbat, you’ll know why.

So now it’s all up and going, and frankly, it’s brilliant. And marketing proves itself again, which is the point. Marketing is not Sales, and while they are related by business, they are different fields and different skills entirely. And companies that get them confused tend to fail more often than they succeed.

FOAAW:2

Ok, so I didn’t write about this at the time, because I didn’t think it was really my issue. But now that it’s happening yet again, I’m less than pleased, and it’s my issue this time.

Back story: In late 2003 my friend Laurie, who is the best friend a gay man living in Caribou Maine could ask for, had to see her husband Andrew shipped off to Afghanistan because of the issues there. Without getting into the stupidity of war or the fact that it was necessary in both places, it was hard to see Andrew leave. Laurie was bummed, not just for the extra work she’d have to do raising her then barely 2 year old son Owen, but for Andrew as well, who would return to find his baby boy a rather amazing nearly 4 year old. And as for what she felt for Owen, tears and tears and tears. That kid missed his dad so much that every time you point a camera at him, regardless of who is holding it and to this very day, he smiles and yells, “Hi Daddy!!!!” BREAKS. YOUR. HEART!

Andrew did return, safe and sound, and things are going well for the family, and while I’ve moved away, I’m glad I was there for Laurie and Owen during the whole event.

I have to point out, however, that I was just a friend, doing what I think friends should do – be there. Let me repeat that. Friends should be there! There were plenty of people who told Laurie that they would be there for her while Andrew was off serving his country – for the second time in 4 years, while his son was growing in amazing ways without him, as a member of the Maine Guard who, really, should be, um, well. I don’t know. GUARDING MAINE?! Anyway. Those ‘friends’ weren’t there. Laurie mentioned it to me right after Andrew returned home how many of them reappeared, like he’d never been gone, and neither had they. Fuckers.

And I’m not calling them fuckers because I think they got away with something, they didn’t. I just don’t like people who say they are your friend but turn out to be nothing more than bar-flies, without the bars.

So now it’s round 2. For those of you can’t figure out FOAAW, it’s Friend Of An Army Wife. This time, less than two weeks after arriving in the beautiful City of Houston, I get to watch as Richard is sent to Iraq. I get to watch as Janna churns over in her head all the horrible possibilities and maybes that are faced by anyone who sends a loved one overseas. And unlike the naivete that I not only embraced but enjoyed, I know what’s going to happen. I know the sleepless nights that are coming when a phone call is missed. I know the dread that comes from any phone call from an unknown number. I know the angst and horror of just not knowing, but reading the news and hearing the worst, and thinking “and he’s there.”

I cannot serve my country, as I am gay. My country won’t let me. I’m very proud to know some of the amazing people who do serve. And I would give anything to not have to ask anyone else to serve so that my friends wouldn’t have to go through this.

To make matters worse, the military’s inability to figure out how to schedule itself has turned their last week together into their last night together, with them both hoping for another tonight. I hope they get two or three, honestly, but we all know that won’t happen. So Richard is off to the Middle East, and Janna is here in Houston, me at her side. Hopefully, it’s just to stand here and wait with her as Richard is returned safely to her at the end of his tour. Please, please please let that be the case.

I can’t really remember what it is like to lose someone that close, as death had taken most of my family when I was young, and the rest of my family and most of my friends are so onery we won’t ever die. I know a bit from another friend who lost her lover-and-soon-to-be-fiancée, and I can honestly say that scared me immensely. I know what it is to be a friend, and to be the FOAAW and I won’t ever let my friends down. I just don’t want to be needed, as much as I know I will always be there.

Back in the West, New in Texas, Yet it’s the Same Ol’ Tune…

I have some wonderful things to say about Texas in general and Houston in particular. I will start out by mentioning that my cousin, Erin-the-Dangerous, who lives in Dallas, informed me via email that I was moving to “the armpit of Texas” and that I would probably hate it, get some random disease or perhaps die by armadillo poisoning. I had to inform here that I was moving from Caribou Maine, which, as any gay man who has lived there can attest, is the Asshole of the Universe. And while I’m neither a big pits or asshole man, I figured I’m moving up regardless.

Now that I’m here, however, I know that she lives in Dallas and is merely jealous of the fact that, well, she’s stuck living in a town where the NFL team are loving referred to as “The Girls.” How could she not be jealous of me?

I’ve met some wonderful people in Houston, and things are slowly getting going for my work, which I won’t discuss here as I’d like to keep any clients that I might actually land. But it’s warm, sunny for the most part, and I’m liking it here. I have a community that has welcomed me with open arms, and there is nothing nicer in the world. Not a thing.

Gone West

This is a super quick post, just to let everyone know that I’m in Houston and everything is dandy. Especially the big monitors, they look amazing, and they aren’t even on yet. (Brilliant me, I sent the power cables and the keyboards and mice for the powermacs via Fedex, so they should arrive sometime in April… 2007). Going to nap, chat later!

Go West Young Man!

There’s lots of news going on, at least in my world. And let’s face it, it’s all about me, always has been, always will be. Um, yeah… right. Anyway.

So let’s get right into, it shall we?

I am no longer employed by ATX. As some of you will remember, back in January of 2002, I agreed to join ATX and move to Caribou, Maine to become a copywriter for the tax software company. I thought I would be in Maine for 6 months, no biggie, and then I’d head back to civilization.

So three years pass…

And now, after working in Marketing, Documentation and Design, Strategic Services, and some odd-ball work for just about every other department, ATX and I realize that my core duties, the videos, aren’t necessary. And they can’t justify the expense, and frankly, I can’t justify Northern Maine.

And really, who could justify Northern Maine? Anyone? No.

But they gave me all the studio equipment, so I’m really quite well set, thanks, and so, I’m moving to Houston. On Monday.

“Why Houston?!?” I hear some of you scream. Well, because it’s a city I haven’t lived in, a city that Janna, a best friend I’ve known since I was 8, lives in, and, well, IT’S A CITY! A REAL CITY! HALLELUJAH!

Now I know, there are many other places I could go, and there are many other places that I will visit soon, and hopefully get to live in at some point. But for now, this seems like the right thing to do, the right direction to go, and frankly, the Universe seems to be guiding me there.

So, while I don’t have the specifics quite finalized yet, I will be living with Janna at her superfab new house, which is simply lovely, and I will be moving on Monday, and should be there sometime on Wednesday or Thursday. And I’ve got a ton of stuff. That’s all there is to know now.

The Pope can Bite me!

Top News Article | Reuters.com

Let’s be real, the Pope is an old dude in a white silk gown wearing enough jewels to make Liberace wince, so he has absolutely no right to tell me that who I am and my fight for equal rights is somehow part of the evil of the world.

Let’s be quite clear, hate is the problem we have in this world. Hate is why the world is in such horrible shape. The Muslims hate the Jews hate the Protestants hate the Catholics hate the Hindi hate the Muslims. It’s a nice circle of hate, and wow, there’s the Pope as one of the points of that compass.

What the world needs now is more love, not less. Of all the people, the Pope should know that.

Sorry that this post is so short, but really, I had to say something.

Why I Left College

“It’s not like…” tends to be the way I begin my writing. That and “It’s almost as if…” which I think is a sign that I’m losing my mind and the creativity that has been core to who I am. I’m not one of those people who blindly accepts facts because someone in authority says them. Authority is notoriously overrated, and frankly, I like to find out about things on my own. Which is why college was such a tremendous pain in the ass, and why I left early. Well, partly.

Recently there has been a bit of a brouhaha about Ward Churchill who is a complete moron with tenure. Apparently, some people think this is a new thing. For a more complete read on this topic, start here. Once again, it’s Dahlia Lithwick proving that she should be heading up a school, and I would be the first to apply. I might possibly be the first to be expelled, too.

I find it interesting that the article pushes aside the bigger complaint about colleges in that there are morons who enforce the status quo on the campus, which tends to be a liberal bias with a decidedly conformist bent, to the extent that they expect college campuses to really be a group of individuals who all think alike.

I did not get along with many of my professors. I was combative, antagonistic, hard-headed and bright. I’ve managed to keep all of those traits through 15 years in the corporate world, however I can’t imagine that I’ve kept them at the same levels. I used to be upset when someone told me a truth without letting me figure out. I’ve got better things to do now, like figure out a way to make the truth unimportant. Always fun for the Christians of the world, to be sure.

I like puzzles, but I’m sure that the puzzles that I like are the ones that upset the apple cart for most everyone around me. Such is life, folks, change is the only constant, and I happen to enjoy it.

I’ve learned many things about myself since leaving school, and in many ways, I think people like me lose more in school than we gain. In the 11 years since college, I’ve found that I can think critically and not have to remember dates of wars or the cosine of anything. I can analyze a process and decide if it’s a good thing or needs change, and can apply my mind to finding out how to make things better. All good puzzles are just that – finding a better way.

And a better way for schools has to be found. A friend is writing a book showing how his schooling is taking away his mind, and I happen to agree with the premise and I even, bless my liberal thinking, think he’s right about the reasons – even though the reasons are the liberal foolishness that takes away the ability to truly create.

There is no passion on campus outside a mob.
This is the basic problem with college when I was there, and I suspect it’s always been the problem for people like me, is that it’s about conformity and regurgitation. And while I’d like to use this as an excuse for why I didn’t get a degree, the truth is, I just don’t believe in one. Every person that I’ve met who has a degree is using about 1% of what they learned in school and 99% of their own thinking, creativity, passion and beliefs. They got the degree because they are reasonable people who understand that having a degree gives you a leg up in the world, but doesn’t give you a free ride. Even scientists who have doctorates in whatever it is they chose, had to take a few undergrad courses that, if nothing else, wasted their time. In some cases, those other courses were so far from what they wanted in college, I’m sure it knocked a few points off their IQ for a year or two. I’ve met a few of these people, and I share their angst, minor though it may be when viewed through the lens of years.

My life-ride has been less than easy, and I’ve gone places I’ve never expected, done amazing and amazingly stupid things. I pride myself on not putting up with much B.S., and frankly, those slips of papers from colleges and universities are just pretty ways of saying “Yes, I can put up with some level of bullshit from you, you should hire me.” and that’s not me. Not at all.

And now we have a college that schedules a speech by another college’s faculty and finds itself at the center of hate mail and death threats because of the idiocy of the schools. Not the school that hired Churchill, nor the school that scheduled the speech, but all the schools in the nation that churn out graduates at an ever-expanding rate without ever teaching them to think.

There was a time in this nation when people read the newspaper for news. There was a time in this nation when the teacher could discipline the student and make them pay attention or get out of the class so that others could learn. At least, I think there was, but I have no proof.

However, it’s not too late to teach kids to think. I’m much better at thinking than memorizing, although I have a pretty weird memory, which comes from my mother. Playing Trivial Pursuit with her was a good way to see just how much useless and esoteric minutia was retained by our gray matter, and the amount was usually staggering. But that’s because we both learned in school that learning wasn’t important, just memorize the B.S. and call it a day.

And be sure to go along with the crowd, it’s easier for all concerned.

However, my best memories of school are of in class debates that were few and far between because of the blood pressure generated by the dumb kids. I’d constantly take the unpopular side, and growing up and realizing that I’m queer, this does make some sense. I’m usually on the outside of any topic.

But the bullies and popular kids would have to defend themselves from me and a few other kids. We had the ability to think, create, and deduce. We could follow an argument to it’s logical-yet-disturbing conclusion to stop the other side from ‘winning’ because they were locked into the dogma. We were our teachers’ prides-and-nightmares all rolled into soft cotton t-shirts and raggedy jeans. I was just generally a nightmare for them, however, because I lacked a filter to stop me from saying what I thought. I still lack that filter, and now my vocabulary includes more vicious and dangerous words. Which is always fun.

But again, those days when we got to prove that we could think were few and far between. They were the real treats at school, although having a day when gym was cancelled was a close second, as being both fat and queer didn’t lead to a positive gym experience, even with the showers.

I think it’s very sad that Bill Gates thinks that we need more international programming students in order for this country to survive. What he’s really saying is that U.S. schools don’t teach our kids, so we have to import our future. It’s sad. And why do American students choose ‘easier’ courses away from the sciences? Because they are easier. All those courses require is that you regurgitate facts and remember it all – there is not much thinking involved, and very little creativity. And science is very hard to learn if you’ve never been taught to think.

The Aviator

It’s late as most people reckon things, but I have to post this. I just saw The Aviator. Amazing. Absolutely amazing. I’m a pretty big fan of aviation anyway, and I know a lot of it’s history, but Howard Hughes was so critical to how we see aviation today, it cannot be overstated. Yes, the airlines have problems. Hell, the two airlines that started it all, Pan Am and TWA are both history. TWA was Hughes’ airline, and frankly, he probably revolved in his grave when it died. If you want to know more about the history of aviation, it, like all things good, can be found online. Full disclosure: My father is a pilot, as is my grandfather and my grandmother, and if I’m not mistaken, a few cousins are as well. I am not, as I prefer to be served free booze from micro-bottles while relaxing in the air. I did, however, work at Garrett Aviation for about two years, which was interesting, as it spanned the events of September 11, 2001.

But I digress. History is one thing, the movie is another – usually. I know that there are parts that are made up or insinuated from half- or less-than-half-known facts. Regardless, this movie was fantastic. Amazing set work, visual design, everything, gave us, the audience, a chance to be there. It was amazing!

Alan Alda was breath-taking as the senator from Maine that was owned by Pan Am. His role should earn him many awards, the highest, of course, being right of first refusal of every male character aged 50 and over.

Leonardo DiCaprio was stunning in his portrayal of Hughes. We all know from our history that Hughes was eccentric, and if you’ve done any study of him, you’ve heard about OCD and some others. I would guess, purely non-clinical of course, that it was a combination of OCD and Aspergere’s Syndrome that afflicted Hughes. Again, regardless of what exactly it was, Leo was phenomenal. He deserves many more roles, and I’m not a huge fan of his. At least, I wasn’t. Although, thinking on it, I did enjoy The Basketball Diaries, but I’m almost positive that was because of the masturbation-on-the-roof-with-the-New York-skyline scene.

Cate Blanchette. There is only one word: BrilliantFantasticAmazingStunningWOW. Trust me, it’s a word. It’s the only one you can use to describe her as Kathryn Hepburn. Cate as Kate was brilliant casting, and Cate captured the stiff-spined and unflinching spirit of Kate and brought her full bloom to the screen. Every moment Cate was there, Kate was there, and we were taken back to the Hollywood she so loved and loathed. If ever a biopic of Kate is made and Cate isn’t cast in the role, I will personally stage a boycott. There is no way to describe this in words, you must see it. I thought Elizabeth was the role of her career, even though Cate has done some great work since. I now know that I was mistaken, and she’s just getting started.

There were a myriad of other fine actors and actresses in this movie. I will be buying this on DVD, but I suggest you don’t wait till then to see it. I’ve heard the movie dismissed by someone saying “I don’t care to see a movie about how a rich man learned to fly” and frankly, if you feel that way, you’re wrong. You can’t judge a book by it’s cover, nor a movie by it’s subject.

Which is why I’m going to go see Hotel Rwanda as soon as it shows up here.