Monthly Archives: June 2011

Dick Van Dyke And Celebrity Bios

Blogger Lance Mannion is underwhelmed by Dick Van Dyke's memoir "My Lucky Life", in part because Dick Van Dyke is too decent a guy to engage in gossip.  And not just mean gossip, but "inside baseball" stuff.

Well, it's Dick Van Dyke.  He's a decent enough guy.  I wouldn't expect him to give dirt or a deep inside look.  This is what the Washington Post had to say:

His breezy tone also reflects the star’s value system. “If you are looking for dirt,” he warns on page 2, “stop reading now.” And it’s true: The closest Van Dyke comes to dishing is to confirm that Maureen Stapleton and Dean Martin liked to drink. He is also no fan of the director, or final cut, of the 1968 children’s classic “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.”

Of Moore, the most stinging criticism offered is that she initially seemed “stiff and proper.” Swiftly, however, Van Dyke reports they developed a “special timing and chemistry . . . such that people actually thought we were husband and wife in real life.” Indeed, like everyone else in America, Van Dyke developed a “crush” on MTM — but never acted on it. “If we had been different people,” he writes, “maybe something would have happened. But neither of us was that type of person.”

Yet Van Dyke became that type of person: In 1976, amid a long-running battle with alcohol, he left his wife of 28 years, the mother of his four children, for a younger woman, his agent’s secretary. It took him 14 years to sober up, but he and Michelle Triola remained devoted partners until her death in 2009. Comprehensive and spare, “My Lucky Life” deals forthrightly with Van Dyke’s ups and downs, demons and misdeeds, yet still conveys the decency — and deft humor — of the legendary performer.

So it basically sounds like a vanilla memoir, from a vanilla guy.  Too bad.

But getting back to Lance Mannion, he makes a comparison between Van Dyke and another icon of Van Dyke's era: Charles Nelson Reilly.  Reilly not only turned out a great memoir, but he did it in the form of a one-man show… which was awesome.  Here, for example is Reilly talking about his friend Burt Reynolds:


I think every celebrity — including and ESPECIALLY the B-listers — should have a one-person show when they are old and on death's door.  I'm totally serious.  They should make it a requirement of being in the Actor's Guild or something.

Netflix Will Now Let You Adjust Your Quality So You Can Avoid Data Caps

If you watch a ton of Netflix, you probably get pretty close to reaching your internet provider's bandwidth caps—especially if your provider has especially low limits. If you're regularly straddling that line, you can now head into Netflix's Account Settings and change the quality of your video to lessen the amount of data you use. They give you three presets: Good, Better, or Best quality. Your video won't necessarily be high definition anymore, but you won't risk paying extra every month for using too much data, either.  Also might help with NetHiccups.


Verizon 4G Coming To Triad Sooner Than Expected


Verizonannounced on Tuesday it will turn on its 4G LTE network in Greensboro, Winston-Salem and High Point on July 21.

4G mobile service gives consumers service up to 10 times faster than a 3G network. The company expects average data rates in real-world, loaded network environments to be 5 to 12 megabits per second (Mbps) on the downlink and 2 to 5 Mbps on the uplink.

The 4G technology also will improve coverage strength inside buildings, as it runs on a powerful 700 megahertz wireless frequency.

The deployment provides 4G coverage throughout the surrounding areas of Cooleemee, Mocksville, Lexington, Welcome, Bermuda Run, Clemmons, Lewisville, Bethania, Rural Hall, Tobaccoville, King, Walkertown, Kernersville, Stokesdale, Oak Ridge, Summerfield, McLeansville, Whitsett, Sedalia,Jamestown, Archdale, Thomasville, Trinity, Randleman, Forest Oaks, Pleasant Garden, Liberty, Franklinville, Asheboro and Ramseur.

The Constitution Is Optional Apparently

Miss Tennessee Ashley Durham was asked if burning religious books is protected by the same First Amendment free speech rules that cover burning an American flag.

Her answer:

"I know that some people view it as a freedom of speech, however, burning the American flag is not patriotic at all. No American citizen should do that, and you should also respect other religions. I'm a Christian and a faithful person. I would personally not appreciate someone burning the Bible, and that's just a line you do not cross."

No, truthfully.  We all know happened.  She got a question about whether some act should be constitutional or not, and not knowing what "constitutional" means, she answered as to whether or not the act was patriotic or not.  Because in her mind, I suppose, what is constitutional must be patriotic, and vice versa.

Anyway, read this article to both mourn the state of young women to and/or celebrate Miss California's victory.  Or I'll just sum it up for you: of all 51 contestents who were asked if evolution should be taught in schools, only TWO stood up for Darwin — Miss Calfornia (who took the Miss USA title) and Miss Massachusetts.  The rest all hemmed and hawed, didn't understand the question, or said that they didn't believe in science.


The Long National Obsession Is Over

Weiner is stepping down.

Rep. Anthony Weiner of New York will step down from office amid intense pressure from congressional Democrats following his admission of risque online chats and photo swaps with multiple women and lying about it, sources tell ABC News.

Weiner, 46, has begun sharing his decision with close friends, the sources said, but has not yet sent a formal letter to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo indicating his intentions.

A Democratic source said Weiner called House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Steve Israel, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Wednesday night while they were at a White House picnic to inform them he would resign today.

I'm still not convinced that Weiner's misdeeds warranted a resignation.  He broke no law (as far as I know); he's not a moral hypocrite.  Yes, he's a little ookey sexually, but then again, so was Ben Franklin.  And Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), meanwhile, remains a senator in good standing, despite his lies and habit of hiring hookers. 

Spiderman Finally Opens; No Longer The Worst Musical Ever

But what it is, is this:

This singing comic book is no longer the ungodly, indecipherable mess it was in February. It’s just a bore.

–  Ben Brantley, New York Times

The show actually sounds better than when I saw it in previews.  They took out the overbearing and pompous Arachne plot, as well as the insufferable "Geek Chorus".  It looks like they basically took Act I and stretched it into two acts.

Which, admittedly, would be an improvement.

But even if more stage time is given to Page (as the Green Goblin) — who was good when I saw it — it doesn't make up for one of the musicals biggest flaws, and one that critics ignored the first time around: the music.  Howeve, the leaner Spiderman 2.0 offers up the flaw, as noted by critic Scott Brown of New York magazine:

No amount of mulch or manure can cover up the music, which is, by far, the show's greatest weakness. (Which is saying something.) With Taymor in charge, Spider-Man essentially ignored its score, and invited us to ignore it, too. We happily obliged. Now, the inert echoplay of the Edge's music and the dippy teen-poet vacuousness of Bono's lyrics cannot and will not be denied…. "Bullying by Numbers," "DIY World," "A Freak Like Me Needs Company," and the narcotizing ballad "If the World Should End" (the undisputed nadir of last weekend's Tony awards ceremony) demonstrate, beyond a doubt, that the boys from Dublin never had a damned clue what a musical was or how to dramatize action and emotion in song. Spider-Man was a bad Julie Taymor musical; it is now, wholeheartedly, a terrible U2 musical…


But yes, I predicted that:  Taymor was only part of the problem.  U2 was the other part.

Anyway, on to the reviews:

USA Today: “Luckily, Patrick Page, the veteran actor who plays Osborn and the Goblin, is an exuberantly entertaining villain; Reeve Carney, the less experienced leading man, conveys a youthful earnestness and burgeoning confidence that make him a compelling foil. The new ‘Spider-Man’ is more of an overt crowd-pleaser, but its most affecting features reflect the serious, arty aspirations of the original.”

Associated Press: “This production is lighter and clearer, if thematically less challenging. It may not be the best thing in theater, but it is far from the worst show in Broadway history.”

The New York Post: “‘Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark,’ the busy musical spectacle that opened last night, tries very hard to be fun and accessible. After many upheavals and accidents, firings and rewrites, the show is closer than ever to the bull’s eye, but that’s not saying much: The target has been both broadened and lowered. The point of reference is Joel Schumacher’s family-ready ‘Batman,’ not Christopher Nolan’s dark, arty one.”

The Daily News: “Emerging from all that tangled drama, Spidey 2.0 is more cohesive, streamlined and funnier than before, and its thrills are still intact – though it is still weighed down by so-so songs. “Spider-Man” isn’t a great, gourmet meal, but it’s a tasty diversion.

Newsday (subscription required): “So, is it better? Yes, the story makes sense now and, so far, no one has fallen down. But is it better than junk-food theater in a jumbo package? No.”

New York magazine: “I’m sorry to report that the eight-legged, nine-lived megalomusical — which finally opened tonight, in its newly tamed, scared-straight and heavily Zolofted post-Taymor state — has deteriorated from mindblowingly misbegotten carnival-of-the-damned to merely embarrassing dud.”

Time Out New York
: “What can we say about this marvelously morphing musical? It’s a hell of a lot better. ‘Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark’ is now a coherent and mostly enjoyable entertainment for children and adults, albeit one still saddled with Taymor’s vestigial nuttiness and freshly dug plot holes all its own.”

The Wall Street Journal: “George Tsypin’s sets, Kyle Cooper’s digital projections and Eiko Ishioka’s costumes have been melded into an exquisitely exact stage equivalent of the sharp-angled, high-contrast drawing style of the Marvel comic books in which Peter Parker and his web-spinning alter ego first came to fictional life. The show’s sheer visual dynamism is staggering — but except for one great performance, it has little else to offer. It’s the best-looking mediocre musical ever to open on Broadway.”

Chicago Tribune: “Given the limited amount of fix-’er-up time, and the depths of incoherence from which this show had to rise, 2.0 is a remarkable achievement for those who have toiled for coherence and a measure of absolution in this dangerously tangled web. For all the abiding limitations, clashing sensibilities and thudding holes, it should, for the record, be noted as such. And if you were the one writing those big checks and hoping against hope that something Vegas-popular, London-duplicable, family-friendly and appealing to Gotham tourists who don’t speak a lick of English would emerge from the biggest heap of theatrical mishegoss since the Astor Place Riot in 1849, you would be breathing a sigh of relief as that opening-night curtain rang down Tuesday.”

Philadelphia Inquirer: “The new ‘Spider-Man’ is all for fun, a live-on-stage comic book, pure and simple – precisely what the last version wasn’t, and what its team, on hiatus for several weeks of rewrites and rehearsals, reimagined. It will by no means assume a spot in the pantheon of great Broadway musicals, but it’s now far more than a tortured curiosity.”

Financial Times: “If you have been craving confirmation that ‘Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark’ is a disaster, you may be disappointed: this version 2.0 is pretty entertaining.”

The Washington Post: “This effects-driven musical is still situated a wide canyon’s distance from good.”

The Globe and Mail: “While the musical has moments of beautiful imagery and genuinely exciting aerial sequences, as well as the basic storytelling competence it lacked for most of its history, only rarely does it soar.”


Breaking: Walker Opinion On Prop 8 Upheld


SAN FRANCISCO—A federal judge has upheld a gay judge's ruling to strike down California's same-sex marriage ban.

Chief U.S. District Judge James Ware said Tuesday that former Chief Judge Vaughn Walker did not have to divulge whether he wanted to marry his own gay partner before he declared last year that voter-approved marriage ban was unconstitutional.

Lawyers for backers of the ban argued at a hearing Monday that Judge Walker should have recused himself or disclosed his relationship because he and his partner stood to personally benefit from the verdict.

Lawyers for two gay couples called the effort to disqualify Judge Walker frivolous, offensive and unfortunate.

Judge Walker publicly revealed after he retired in February that he is in a 10-year relationship with a man.

As predicted.

UPDATE:  Opinion here.

Rapture Guy Has Stroke

Thankfully, it was a mild one.

Because he's got some more 'splainin' to do when his LAST explanation falls through:

When the apocalypse failed to occur on May 21, Camping was widely mocked and he called it "a very difficult time."

He has since insisted that his prediction was overall correct. On May 24 he clarified that a "spiritual" Judgment Day had begun three days earlier, placing the entire world under Christ's judgment, and said the Earth actually would be obliterated on Oct. 21.

October 21… gotcha.


Today in Prop 8 News

Just to recap.

Prop 8 was a California ballot initiative that banned same sex marriages in California.  Well-funded by out-of state bigots (like the Mormons), it narrowly passed in 2008.

But then Prop 8 was challenged in state court for being unconstitutional.  But the California courts upheld Prop 8.

After the California Supreme Court upheld the voter initiative, another suit, Perry v. Schwarzenegger, was filed in a Federal District Court in San Francisco. On August 4, 2010, U.S. District Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker overturned Proposition 8 as being unconstitutional.  He also stayed his own ruling; the voter initiative was to remain in effect pending appeal.

The case is kicking around the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.  The particular issue is standing.  You see, the State of California refused to support Prop 8, so the people who are defending it are citizens groups.  And there is a question as to whether citizen groups have standing to defend a proposition.

In the meantime, however, another suit was filed to attack Perry v. Schwarzenegger collaterally.  Specifically, on April 25, supporters of Proposition 8 filed a motion in district court to vacate Walker's decision in Perry. Walker, who is now retired, has admitted that he is gay.  Prop 8 supporters argue that Walker should have recused himself or disclosed his relationship status, and that unless he "disavowed any interest in marrying his partner", he had "a direct personal interest in the outcome of the case".

The hearing on that motion was yesterday; a decision is expected today.

As a preview, let me say this:

The Prop 8 supporters have a very weak argument.  First of all, black judges can hear cases involving discrimination; women judges can hear cases that may have an impactg on womens' rights.  This has always been the case.  The Prop 8 supporters are weilding an argument that, if it succeeds, would change the face of the law forever.  You simply can't ASSUME that a judge is impartial simply because he is a member of a group that MIGHT be affected by the outcome of a case.  Even the folks at Fox grasp this:


The other reason why the Prop 8 supporters are likely to lose today is because Judge Walker wrote a 138 page opinion.  And guess what it doesn't say?  It doesn't say:

I am siding with the anti-prop 8 people because I am gay.

That's right.  He actually gave 138 pages of reasons why Prop 8 was unconstitutional. 

And the Prop 8 people lost because they were TERRIBLE in court.  Look at page 11 of the opinion. It reads:

At oral argument on proponents' motion for summary judgment, the court posed to proponents' counsel the assumption that "the state's interest in marriage is procreative" and inquired how permitting same-sex marriage impairs or adversely affects that interest. Doc #228 at 21. Counsel replied that the inquiry was "not the legally relevant question," id, but when pressed for an answer, counsel replied: "Your honor, my answer is: I don't know. I don't know." Id at 23. Despite this response, proponents in their trial brief promised to "demonstrate that redefining marriage to encompass same-sex relationships" would effect some twenty-three specific harmful consequences. Doc #295 at 13-14. At trial, however, proponents presented only one witness, David Blankenhorn, to address the government interest in marriage. Blankenhorn's testimony is addressed at length hereafter; suffice it to say that he provided no credible evidence to support any of the claimed adverse effects proponents promised to demonstrate. During closing arguments, proponents again focused on the contention that"responsible procreation is really at the heart of society's interest in regulating marriage." Tr 3038:7-8. When asked to identify the evidence at trial that supported this contention,proponents' counsel replied, "you don't have to have evidence of this point." Tr 3037:25-3040:4.

Now look at page 38 of Judge Walker's opinion. Here Judge Walker is noting the paucity of the evidence supporting Prop 8. Keep in mind that side is called the "Proponents" (as in, the Proponents of Prop 8). Judge Walker wrote:

Proponents elected not to call the majority of their designated witnesses to testify at trial and called not a single official proponent of Proposition 8 to explain the discrepancies between the arguments in favor of Proposition 8 presented to voters and the arguments presented in court. Proponents informed the court on the first day of trial, January 11, 2010, that they werewithdrawing [here the judge lists four witnesses]. Doc #398 at 3. Proponents' counsel stated in court on Friday, January 15, 2010, that their witnesses United States District Court because they "were extremely concerned about their personal safety, and did not want to appear with any recording of any sort, whatsoever." Tr 1094:21-23. The timeline shows, however, that proponents failed to make any effort to call their witnesses after the potential for public broadcast in the case had been eliminated.

This is why the Prop 8 team was routed at trial. It wasn't Judge Walker's evil gay bias.  It was because the proponents of Prop * failed — miserably — in court.

So I expect today's decision to be a slam-dunk win for the anti Prop 8 (pro- same sex marriage) crowd).

UPDATE:  The transcript from yesterday's hearing on the motion to vacate indicates that the Prop 8 lawyers (once again) didn't have very good arguments and were taken to town by the presideing judge (Judge Ware).  An example:

Judge Ware: What is fact you rely upon that judge walker was in a relationship for purposes of marriage?

Charles Cooper (attorney for the Prop. 8ers):  The fact that he has publicly announced that he is and has been in a relationship with another person? [laughter]

Judge: So if you are in a ten year relationship with another person, that is for purposes of marriage? You would concede that you could be in a long term relationship without being in it for purposes of marriage?

Cooper: Yes.

Judge:  What distinguishes it?

Cooper:  Very fact that two individuals are in kind of relationship Walker has…

Judge: What distinguishes between two?

Cooper: There are platonic friendships that do not lead to marriage. [laughter]

Judge:  What do you mean, ‘platonic'?

Cooper: Non-intimate, non-sexual. Clear understanding of media reports…

Judge:  You are saying that length of relationship alone converts to marriage relationship?

Cooper:  Yes. Bespeaks commitment.  All of these have been used interchangeably.  The plaintiffs take pains to say they are in long term relationships.

Judge: The plaintiff’s relief was not to stay in a long-term relationship.  Nothing threatened their long term relationship. Neither they nor Walker were threatened. The plaintiffs sought to change relationship. What fact would you cite to the court to show that Walker sought to change his relationship?

Cooper: [Stumbles…] There are several points I would make that a reasonable person with knowledge that Judge walker would be expected to have an interest in marrying his long time partner.  Judge Walker similarly situated for purpose of marriage just as plaintiffs.

Another excerpt:

Judge Ware: You keep saying that Walker has an interest in getting married. Is that what you are saying?

Cooper:  If he has an interest in marriage, …

Judge: You repeated it again.  I hear me. I recognize my voice. I’m not sure you hear yours.

Cooper:  Let’s back up. The ten year relationship means he was bound to disclose. Also, he must disclose that he is similarly situated to plaintiffs.

Judge:  You’ve raised the disclosure question many times.  You seem to say that judge is required to disclose. In a case where race is involved, sometimes disclosure not made because race is obvious. We are bound by our past, which is largely irrelevant. 

If a female judge has suffered rape or sexual assault and is hearing a case on rape or sexual assault, must she disclose?

Cooper: That’s a tough question.  I don’t see how her direct interest would be affected.

Judge: That’s not the question. Would a reasonable person object?

Cooper:  It is closer call whether or not reasonable person in possession of all facts whether judge’s impartiality disclosed.

Judge: You would have me rule that judges disclose intimate details of their past such as being abused as child and should not be presumed capable of fulfilling their duty.

Cooper:  A judge would have to disclose if the parties think its’ relevant. It’s a broad standard, and includes information that the judge might believe himself would not rise to meritorious recusal. The cases are quite clear. The judge’s responsibility quite broad.

Judge:  In this case, Judge Walker need not to have disclosed orientation.

Cooper: That is true. We have made that clear from beginning when first news reports surfaced.


My Sarah Palin E-mails

They’re releasing 24,000 emails from the time when Sarah Palin was governor of Alaska.  And because that’s a lot of emails to sift through, many news organizations have been asking people to sign up, and help them sift through them quickly to find the fun stuff.

Which I did.

The emails are being released, but my batch hasn’t come in yet.

But I wish *I* had a job where I could just ask other people over the Internet to do it for me.

UPDATE – A la send in the clowns, don’t bother…. they’re here (some of them anyways):

Sarah Palin emails from Alaska


Sarah Palin Emails #2

Palin emails, #3

RIP, Leonard Stern, The [Adjective] Creator of Mad-Libs

And everyone — myself included — makes the obvious gag:

Leonard B. Stern, an Emmy-winning writer, producer and director for television whose frantic search for an adjective one day led him and a colleague to create Mad Libs, the game that asks players to fill in blanks with designated parts of speech to yield comically ________[adj.] stories, died on Tuesday at his home in Beverly Hills, Calif. He was 88.

His death, of heart failure, was announced by his publicist, Dale Olson.

As a writer, Mr. Stern received two Emmy Awards, in 1957 for “The Phil Silvers Show” (a k a “Sergeant Bilko”) and in 1967 for “Get Smart,” on which he also served as executive producer.

Like Mr. Stern, Mad Libs — bound tablets of stories with blanks in strategic places — has a show-business pedigree. First marketed in 1958, it was born by way of “The Honeymooners” and introduced on “The Steve Allen Show.”



The Final Word (One Hopes) On Weiner

I'm just outsourcing this to Glenn Greenwald, who makes some valuable points:

What makes the Anthony Weiner story somewhat unique and thus worth discussing for a moment is that, as Hendrik Hertzberg points out, the pretense of substantive relevance (which, lame though it was in prior scandals, was at least maintained) has been more or less brazenly dispensed with here.  This isn't a case of illegal sex activity or gross hypocrisy (i.e., David Vitter, Larry Craig, Mark Foley (who built their careers on Family Values) or Eliot Spitzer (who viciously prosecuted trivial prostitution cases)).  There's no lying under oath (Clinton) or allegedly illegal payments (Ensign, Edwards).  From what is known, none of the women claim harassment and Weiner didn't even have actual sex with any of them.  This is just pure mucking around in the private, consensual, unquestionably legal private sexual affairs of someone for partisan gain, voyeuristic fun and the soothing fulfillment of judgmental condemnation.  And in that regard, it sets a new standard: the private sexual activities of public figures — down to the most intimate details — are now inherently newsworthy, without the need for any pretense of other relevance. 


Yes, Anthony Weiner lied — about something that is absolutely nobody's business but his and his wife's.  If you're not his wife, you have absolutely no legitimate reason to want to know about — let alone pass judgment on — what he does in his private sexual life with other consenting adults.  Particularly repellent is the pretense of speaking out on behalf of his wife, as though anyone knows what her perspectives on such matters are or what their relationship entails.  The only reason to want to wallow in the details of Anthony Weiner's sex life is because of the voyeuristic titillation it provides: a deeply repressed culture celebrates when it finds cause to be able to talk about penises and naked pictures and oral sex while hiding behind some noble pretext.  On some level, I find the behavior of the obviously loathsome Andrew Breitbart preferable; at least he's honest about his motive:  he hates Democrats and liberals and wants sadistically to destroy them however he can.  It's the empty, barren, purse-lipped busybodies who cannot stay out of other adults' private and sexual lives — while pretending to be elevated  — that are the truly odious villains here.

In The AtlanticConor Friedersdorf argues that the private consensual sexual activities of politicians are none of our business, and in reply,Megan McArdle insists that "society has [an] interest in whether people keep their vows" in marriage and thus it's a good thing "to use a few of our precious news hours to say, 'Hey, not okay'!"  Except McArdle has absolutely no idea what vows Weiner and his wife have made to each other, and she shouldn't know, because it's none of her business, despite her eagerness to learn about it and publicly condemn it.  Even if she had any idea of what she was talking about — and she plainly doesn't — nothing is less relevant than Megan McArdle's views of the arrangement Anthony Weiner and his wife have for their marriage and whether each partner is adhering to that arrangement.  That a journalist atThe Atlantic wants to talk about this, and dig into the details, and issue judgments about it, says all one needs to know about our press corps.

Can one even imagine how much different — and better — our political culture would be if our establishment media devoted even a fraction of the critical scrutiny and adversarial energy it devoted to the Weiner matter to things that actually matter?

And that's just the highlights — read the whole thing.

The Sissy Boy Experiment

It's very rare that a blog does some serious investigative reporting, but that's just what Box Turtle Bulletin has done.

The story begins:

Kirk-age-4-yrs-6-mo-old-e1294603580954-350x508 In 1970, a well-known expert on homosexuality and transgender issues appeared on a local television talk show in Los Angeles to talk about feminine boys. He described how very young boys who behaved in a feminine manner would almost invariably grow up to become a homosexual. Alongside that expert was a gay man who described his own childhood and confirmed what the expert said. But there was hope, the expert announced. A new program at the University of California at Los Angeles would ensure these young boys grew up to become masculine, normal men. The expert gave a list of symptoms to watch out for, and urged his viewers to call him if their children exhibited the problems he described.

The mother of a four year, eleven month old boy saw that program that afternoon. She noted the list of symptoms that the expert gave and concluded that there was something seriously wrong with her son. She and her husband decided to take their young boy to UCLA for treatment to prevent him from growing up to be gay.

The boy's name was Kirk Murphy.  He was "treated" by a young UCLA grad named George Alan Rekers.

The UCLA treatment was partially successful.  Then, Kirk's therapy — the one devised by George Alan Rekers — went into the household.  Blue and red poker chips were used.  The mother explains:

“When Kirk would do something bad, or play with the doll instead of the train or the truck or whatever, he would get a red poker chip. If he picked up a helicopter or an airplane or did a boy thing, then he would get a blue chip. At the end of the day, I would deduct the red from the blue. And then however many blue chips there were, they told me to give him an M&M for each for a reward. And then I had to keep this all written down.”

Over time, the punishments got stronger — they turned into beatings.

1992-London-200x301 But after a while, the therapy was deemed a success.  George Alan Rekers had made a name for himself in the psychology community, and wrote dozens of papers about Kirk (who was named "Craig" in the literature).

You may have already guessed the rest.  Kirk survived his ordeal, and he continued to grow up under relative anonymity. Neither he nor his family knew that he was the subject of nearly two decades of discussion among behavioral therapists working to change their clients' sexual orientation. Through it all, Rekers wrote that Kirk had a "normal male identity, had normal aspirations for growing up to be married and have a family, and was well-adjusted as a teen-age boy in general."

The truth was far different. His suicide attempt at the age of seventeen was unsuccessful. But twenty years later, he took his life on December 21, 2003. He was 38.

And perhaps the name Rekers rings a bell for some of you.  Rekers' career effectively ended on May 4, 2010, when two reporters at The Miami New Times revealed that he had been photographed at the Miami International Airport while returning from an overseas trip in the company of a handsome, blond twenty-years-old man who Rekers found on

Rekers protested that he had hired the escort to help him with his luggage, but his escort himself begged to differ. Rekers’s colleagues began distancing themselves from him, and he eventually resigned from the National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), a group composed of dissident therapists who believe that homosexuality is a pathology in need of treatment, a scientific fallacy proved wrong by Kirk's experience itself.

The full story — a blog expose — can be found here.  

THe mainstream media focuses on this story too.  Tonight at 10 ET on CNN TV, "AC360º" examines the shocking "experimental therapy" designed to make feminine boys more masculine. See what one family says was the devastating result in a special report, "The Sissy Boy Experiment."

Palin’s Gotcha Question

I almost missed this.  Palin, as you know, complained that the question she was asked — the one that forced her to demonstrate her lack of knowledge about American history — was a "gotcha" question.

David Frum discovered the outrageous ambush question that threw Palin for such a loop:

“What have you seen so far today, and what are you going to take away from your visit?”

Yeah.  Tricky question.  Requires a Paul Revere facepalm.


Google Music Beta: A First Impression

It's not often that I get into the "beta" door — usually I don't try.

But I asked for, and received, and "invite" to use Google Music Beta, the new streaming music service by Google.

This is the newest development in the music industry.  In the OLD days, you would have to buy the music in some tangible form (LP, cassette, CD, etc.).  In the somewhat OLD days, you would just by the digitized song, and put on to something tangible (your iPod, computer) to listen to it.

But NOW, we're moving to an age where your music collection is stored in one place, and it streams to you over the Internet/WiFi.  Where is it stored?  In the "cloud".

Amazon came out with its cloud service; so did Google.  Apple came out with its version yesterday.

But this is about Google.  How does it work?

First it scanned by computer for all my music (some 7,000 worth it says).  Then it uploaded all those songs to Google's computers (I was well within the 20,000 song limit).  And that was that.

Now I can access my songs through any Internet connected computer, or phone app.  This morning I listened to a song streaming to my phone, and I honestly couldn't tell any difference from when that song was actually stored on my phone.

So far, so good.

MTV Awards

I didn't watch the MTV Awards last night (I haven't watched them in well over a decade), but I'll bet even money that some girl kissed another girl, or a guy kissed a guy, or there was some sort of sexual touching going on which is all the buzz this morning.

Santorum’s Failed Attempt to Link D-Day and Medicare

See if you can make sense of this:

… Santorum said, what he and Paul Ryan want to do is “give people the resources to go out and choose for themselves choose what’s best for themselves.”

Unlike Obama, he continued, who is spitting in the face of those Americans who fought on D-Day, 67 years ago today. “Almost 60,000 average Americans had the courage to go out and charge those beaches on Normandy, to drop out of airplanes who knows where, and take on the battle for freedom,” Santorum said.

“Average Americans,” he added. “The very Americans that our government now, and this president, does not trust to make a decision on your health care plan. Those Americans risked everything so they could make that decision on their health care plan.”

Now, Santorum wasn't attacking the Affordable Care Act (aka "Obamacare"); Santorum was arguing that Medicare itself denies seniors choices. And because Medicare denies seniors choices, it means seniors are less free, which means those who fought for freedom don’t want Medicare.

Or something like that.

The End Of Weiner?

I like Anthony Weiner and his brand of politics.  No holds barred.  Fiery.

And then he had to go and do something stupid and classless like having inappropriate online conversations with women not his wife, some underage apparently, and some conversations including risque photos.  Worse than that — far worse than that — he made Andrew Breitbart look somewhat respectable.

So…. after finally fessing up, what now?  Weiner says he's not going to resign.  And I think that is good.  I don't think politicians should be held to a higher moral standard unless of course they hold themselves and others to that standard.  Weiner was never the sanctomonious holier-than-thou type, and now we know that he doesn't have good reason to be.  In other words, the status is quo.

But of course, this may not be his choice.  There will be motions to censure, calls for criminal investigations, etc.  The GOP will not rest until they have their head.

Oh, Anthony.  You and John Edwards.  What the hell were you thinking?  WERE you thinking?

The Review Is In….

From the Winston-Salem Journal:


Play is good-hearted fun


"Duck Hunter Shoots Angel," which opened Friday night at Twin City Stage, follows the misadventures of a couple of good old boys who think they've shot an angel and a tabloid journalist from "up North" as they search for meaning and redemption in an Alabama swamp.

Along the way, we meet a half-man, half-gator; a smart girl who runs the local Gasmart; a mysterious woman; and a corrupt tabloid-newspaper publisher.

The journalist, Sandy, played with disillusioned charm by Don Gunther, sums up his philosophy this way: "Life is about stumbling from one mistake to the other … and then you die." He is schooled along the way by the bumbling duck hunters — Duane (Ken Ashford), his brother Duwell (Chad Edwards) — and a couple of earth angels — Kansas (Katlyn Swanson) who runs the Gasmart and Woman (Laurel Ullman), the love he sacrificed to his ambition.

Rudy Anderson as Lenny, Sandy's photographer side-kick, is quite good, lending some naturalism in his acting to the frequently farcical proceedings.

Ashford and Edwards are often hilarious with their endless stream of malapropisms; at one point of extreme stress, Ashford's Duane declares that he's about to have "a corollary."

The Southern characters have Southern accents, but Gunther and Zach Hall, who plays the "Weekly World and Globe" publisher, Lester, use neutral accents.

In a script that constantly compares the North and the South and makes good-hearted fun of both, some actual Northern accents would have created more contrast and more humor.

The set by Larry Hurych is functional and effective with smooth scene changes and a great, murky swamp. The lighting by Daniel Alvarez supports the action nicely, particularly in the scenes that suggest the angel's presence.

Palin Doubles Down on Stupidity


WASHINGTON (AP/The Huffington Post) — Sarah Palin says she didn't mess up her history on Paul Revere.

The potential 2012 presidential candidate was in Boston on Thursday as part of her bus tour when she was asked about the Revolutionary War hero.


She says there were British soldiers in the area for years before Revere's legendary ride, and that he was warning them, as well as his fellow colonists.

"Part of his ride was to warn the British that were already there that 'hey, you're not going to take American arms, you are not going to beat our own well-armed persons individual private militia that we have.'"

She blamed her previous answer on the media, saying it was a "gotcha question."

Okay, first of all, Sarah, you are STILL wrong.  There simply is no account wherein he gives a WARNING to the BRITISH who just happened to be in the neighborhoods through which Revere was riding.  Maybe you can INFER that, but even that is a stretch.

To set the record straight for Grizzly Mama, here's what has to say about the historic ride: 

"On the evening of April 18, 1775, Paul Revere was sent… to ride to Lexington, Massachusetts, to warn Samuel Adams and John Hancock that British troops were marching to arrest them… On the way to Lexington, Revere "alarmed" the country-side, stopping at each house, and arrived in Lexington about midnight. As he approached the house where Adams and Hancock were staying, a sentry asked that he not make so much noise. "Noise!" cried Revere, "You'll have noise enough before long. The regulars are coming out!" After delivering his message, Revere was joined by a second rider, William Dawes, who had been sent on the same errand by a different route. Deciding on their own to continue on to Concord, Massachusetts, where weapons and supplies were hidden, Revere and Dawes were joined by a third rider, Dr. Samuel Prescott. Soon after, all three were arrested by a British patrol."

Secondly, Sarah — stop your friggin' whining about the media out to get you.  Getting a question about Paul Revere isn't a gotcha question, standing alone.  It's only a gotcha question in your case because… well, because it gotcha!!

UPDATE:  Palin's fans are trying to help her out…. by desparately editing Wikipedia to reflect Sarah's statement.

John Edwards Indicted

Pretty sad, really.  How many of us thought he was different?

AP reports:

A federal grand jury indicted two-time presidential candidate John Edwards on Friday over $925,000 spent to keep his mistress and their baby in hiding during the peak of his 2008 campaign for the White House.

The case of USA v. Johnny Reid Edwards contains six counts, including conspiracy, four counts of illegal campaign contributions and one count of false statements.

He's got a court appearance at 2:30 today, literally one block from me.

UPDATE:  To be honest, having read the indictment (here), I'm not sure it is the strongest case.  The case seems to turn on whether the money used to hide the mistress/baby qualified as “contributions” to, or “expenditures” on behalf of, the Edwards campaign within the meaning of 2 U.S.C. §§ 431(8) & (9).  Edwards might be able to argue that the money was an "independant expenditure" which was not designed to influence the outcome of the election (as opposed to, say, advertising dollars).  He might be able to win on that argument.

Also, here's the strange story about how the controversy over Edwards' $400 haircut led to today's indictment.

Sarah Palin Gives Off-The-Cuff Bizarre Retelling of Paul Revere’s Ride


Sarah Palin is in Boston today, meeting with supporters and other curious elements. She is also chatting about how meaningful being in such a historic region is to her on her One Nation tour. Of course, this means Sarah Palin is talking about history, and CNN anchor Brooke Baldwin, who was covering the story this afternoon, could barely contain her contempt as Palin described Paul Revere “sending those warning shots and bells” to tell Americans that “the British weren’t taking away our arms.”

Palin strung together an off-the-cuff explanation of the famed Midnight Ride for those listening that seemed to involve a ton of noise, bells, gunfire, and a warning that the British were out to take away Americans’ as-yet-nonexistent Second Amendment rights, which Baldwin couldn’t help but react to with deer-in-the-headlights confusion. “History lesson from Sarah Palin on the Midnight Ride of Paul Revere,” she deadpanned.

It’s hard to imagine why Revere would warn the British of anything, or why he’d do it with bells and gun shots. So that the British wouldn't take away our as-yet-unprotected Second Amendment rights?

You can see the impromptu history lesson as well as the deadpan reaction of CNN anchor Brooke Baldwin:


Best YouTube comment:

Paul Revere went on to become a legendary lumberjack in Minnesota along with his trusty blue ox Babe Ruth. Sadly Babe then died of Mad Cow disease or as it was called back then Lou Gehrigs disease. Revere was never the same, he hit the bottle pretty hard, but on the plus side he then found Jesus, and changed his name to Saul and became a famous saint. He was burned at the state by the British who had sailed to America in Joan's Ark. His place of death is now the Minnesota state capital, St. Paul

Of course, a quick survey of those toying with the GOP presidential field reveals that basic American history is not their strong suit. Tim Pawlenty confused the Iraq war with an Iran war, Hermain Cain confused the Constitution with the Declaration of Independence, and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) confusedMassachusetts with New Hampshire. Bachmann’s particular struggles even earned her a debate invitation with a 10th grader.

But all these candidates would pale in comparison to this figurehead of flubs if Palin pulls the trigger on a presidential run.


Apparently, Palin's bus tour is as harried as Paul Revere.  So harried in fact, that it doesn't have much respect for the law:

SEABROOK, N.H. — Sarah Palin’s bus is plastered with a mockup of the U.S. Constitution. But her entourage — both the three-vehicle motorcade that includes the bus and the smaller, two-SUV version she uses for smaller events — hasn’t been very respectful of the traffic laws.

They speed. They run red lights and stop signs. They make last-second lane changes to get off the highway, sometimes without signaling.


Journalists in the caravan trailing her One Nation tour bus describe the experience as harrowing, a rolling menace careening up the East Coast in hot pursuit of the former Alaska governor who declined to provide any advance itinerary of her tour over six days on the road.

As they left the clambake she attended Thursday in New Hampshire, Palin’s two-SUV caravan did 52 miles per hour in a 35 zone as it peeled away from the hosts’ neighborhood. Both cars blew through a stop sign about a mile later. They did 70 mph in a 55 mph zone on I-95 — and then, after they got off, without signaling, flew right past a flashing sign informing them they were going 45 mph in a 35 mph zone.

This Side Of The Tracks

This is the arrest record from just one local trailer park this past weekend:

Rakem Deshawn Chambers, 23, was charged with driving while impaired. Albert Barron Kimber, 24, and Cyvonne Lachelle Hooper, 26, were charged with being drunk and disruptive and resisting arrest. Dawanna Creed Jackson, 25, was charged with disorderly conduct. Miguel Mendez Oliva, 31, was charged with assault on a female. Amanda Marie Whitaker, 27, was charged with assault with a deadly weapon. Michael Tony Jackson, 53, Shaun Raymond Clemins, 32, and Gilardo Reyes, 30, were cited for noise violations.

That's Holcomb's Mobile Home Park in Yadkin County, NC, friends.

Oh, yeah. The dog bite victim, LaChelle Kimber, 34, of Advance, was taken to the hospital for treatment, police said. The pit bull dog is currently quarantined by the Yadkin County Animal Control.

Weather Wonders

For those keeping score — and I'm sure most aren't – as of May 23, Mother Nature had unleashed a whopping 1,151 twisters in the U.S.

That's more than double the 506 that had touched ground by this same time in 2010.



The cast of the New York Philharmonic’s recent limited run of Stephen Sondheim's Company will reassemble for the 2011 Tony Awards, which will be presented June 12. 

The performance will include Stephen Colbert, Jon Cryer, Katie Finneran, Neil Patrick Harris, Christina Hendricks, Aaron Lazar, Patti LuPone, Jill Paice, Martha Plimpton, Anika Noni Rose, Jennifer Laura Thompson, Jim Walton and Chryssie Whitehead.