La Llorona Monday, Feb 25 2008 

Today my Lesbian and Gay Literature class started discussing Felicia Luna Lemus‘s Trace Elements of Random Tea Parties. The novel is about a Latina named Leticia, as the book’s back cover tells us, “immerses herself in the post-queer hipster scene in Los Angeles.”

Leti begins her story by telling us that it is “really about my girl Weeping Woman, Nana, and me” (3). I thought it was important to make sure my students understood the folklore surrounding the Weeping Woman, so I did a little internet research to give them.

The story of the Weeping Woman, or La Llorona, exists in several forms. In all of them, she kills her children by drowning them. Her spirit now roams the earth looking for naughty children to snatch away and make her own.

During my research, I came across the following video on Youtube. I’ve completely fallen in love with it.

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I Am Hillary Clinton Friday, Feb 22 2008 

I didn’t watch last night’s Democratic debate. I have to admit that I’m ready for the primary season to be over and to get on with the election. My friend James called after the debate and asked if I had seen Hillary’s final statement, which he liked very much. Since I hadn’t, I looked for it online this morning. Even the liberal blogs that I read are abuzz about it.

In many ways I think this speech demonstrates how Senator Clinton should have run her campaign all along. From day one, the campaign should have been about the American people and nothing else. While I still intend to cast my vote for Hillary in the March 4th primary, I think Senator Obama will likely win enough support in Texas and Ohio to end Hillary’s campaign and to win the nomination, politically if not numerically.

I’ll admit that I’ve been wavering a bit in my Clinton support lately. I haven’t liked some aspects of her campaign and I had hoped she would make a better case for herself. So, why am I voting for her? Two reasons immediately come to mind.

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What I’m Listening To: Queer Music Saturday, Feb 16 2008 

Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been listening to a series of gay and lesbian musicians. Back in November, I started listening to Cazwell. I loved the queerness of his record so much that it made me want to seek our other gay artists and get a greater sense of what’s going on in gay and lesbian music.

I immediately found two sources to begin exploring: Youtube and Logo. Logo’s series “New Now Next” and online site “The Click List” is a great source for finding gay and lesbian music videos. One of the musicians I first saw on Logo was Adam Joseph. Initially, I didn’t care much for his video, “Flow with My Soul:”

I’m not totally sure why I wasn’t into it at first, but I think it might have had something to do with the video’s attempts at some sort of urban street look. It just seemed a little too posed for me. But then I came across another video by Joseph, “Faggoty Attention:”

I have to say that I immediately loved this video’s blatant sexuality, its queerness. This has to be the queerest video I’ve ever seen. I love it! It’s so cheeky and fun. I like that it’s playing off of the straight male fantasy/fear of gay men coming onto them while playing off the gay male fantasy of seducing the hot straight guy. Plus the lyrics are just hilarious. This is now the song that I walk around singing in my head all day long!

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Favorite Plays of 2007 Sunday, Feb 10 2008 

PJ and I saw some great productions this year. We saw plays here in Ohio, in New York City, and in London. Usually our London trip gives us the opportunity to see some great plays, but this year the works we saw there were rather weak on the whole. New York was much better. Ohio University’s School of Theater also regularly puts on interesting work.

So, here’s my annual list of favorite plays:

  1. August: Osage County. I’ve already reviewed this production from our New York trip, but I’ll reiterate here how much I enjoyed this play. It borrows a lot from other great American plays, but that doesn’t make it any less entertaining. Indeed, part of the fun is listening for those echoes. I definitely want to plan a trip to Chicago sometime to see another production by the Steppenwolf Theatre Company. If August is any indication of the kind of work they do, it will definitely be worth the trip!
  2. Betty’s Summer Vacation. I didn’t get a chance to blog about this OU School of Theater production of Christopher Durang’s satire on contemporary media. This website provides some interesting information about the play and Durang’s vision in writing it. I particularly liked the play’s comic satire. All of the performances in the local production were great, but one really stood out: Shelley Delaney, a faculty member in the School of Theater, starred as Mrs. Siezmagraff, the owner of the beach house that Betty and three other college-aged people rent for their vacation. Mrs. Siezmagraff is a rather off-beat character whose comic antics ultimately become kind of tragic, and Delaney played the part perfectly. It was an excellent production.
  3. Spring Awakening. We also saw this musical in New York. This is a different kind of musical; it took me a little while to warm up to it. But ultimately, I’m a sucker for musicals so I did warm up to it. Here’s my review of the plays we saw on that trip.
  4. The Seafarer. This is another play we saw in New York. I was expecting more of this play — I expected to like it even more than I did. I enjoyed it, but based on the reviews it was getting I thought it would really knock me out. It didn’t do that, but I liked it. Here’s my review of the plays we saw on that trip.
  5. The Drowsy Chaperone. This was the only London production we saw last year that I liked. It’s more a traditional musical than Spring Awakening, and I enjoyed parts of it immensely. I can’t help but put it lower on my list than SA due to its lack of boldness in depicting gayness and gay men’s love of musicals. I’ve already reviewed it too.

While I like these plays, they’re not as strong as the ones on my list from 2006. We won’t be going to London this year, and we may not make it to New York either.  However, we do hope to make a trip to the Stratford, Ontario Shakespeare Festival this summer and there are always terrific local productions to see.  So I should have theater to write about this year.

Favorite Movies of 2007 Monday, Feb 4 2008 

I think I’m ready to list my favorite movies of the past year. There may be one or two movies that I still need to see — movies often come to Athens later than they come to cities. But these are my ten favorite movies so far.

1. No Country for Old Men. The Coen Brothers’ western was nothing less than a masterpiece. I especially liked its meditations on the nature of evil and whether good can ever really triumph over it. I reviewed it just after we saw it in November. I’m not totally sure Javier Bardem deserves all of the accolades that he’s received, but I certainly don’t begrudge him the recognition — he’s definitely been overlooked when he deserved them in the past. Tommy Lee Jones and Josh Brolin are both excellent.

2. There Will Be Blood. I just reviewed this film earlier this week. It’s a great movie, and Daniel Day-Lewis’s performance is stellar. He and Paul Dano are both great.

3. Paris, Je T’aime. I know that my fondness for this movie is strongly influenced by the fact that we went to Paris for the first time just before seeing it. But that doesn’t change the fact that I really liked this movie. It’s a wonderful homage to Paris, and, while I didn’t like all of the short films that make up this work, I loved it on the whole. Anyone who loves Paris will enjoy seeing this love letter to the City of Lights. Here’s my earlier review.

4. Death Proof. This has become one of my favorite Quentin Tarrantino movies — right up there with Kill Bill and Pulp Fiction. It’s a great feminist take on 1970s exploitation films. While it was originally packaged with Robert Rodriguez‘s Planet Terror, Death Proof is the better movie, I think. Here’s my quick review of the “double feature.”

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Four Movie Reviews Sunday, Feb 3 2008 

I haven’t had a chance to review some of the movies PJ and I have seen lately, so I thought I might catch up by composing quick reviews of them.

There Will Be Blood

Last weekend we saw There Will Be Blood starring Daniel Day-Lewis as a prospector turned oil magnate in early twentieth-century California. Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, this movie is amazing — it definitely lives up to its critical acclaim. Day-Lewis is a powerhouse as the increasingly vindictive and malevolent Daniel Plainview, a man of raw grit who is committed to succeeding at all costs. In the movie’s opening section, we see him injured in an accidental cave-in while prospecting in a hole in the ground. Despite his broken leg, he manages to recover a hunk of silver and literally scoot his way across the desert and back to the nearest place to sell the precious metal. Here’s the trailer:

When one of his workers dies in an oil drilling accident, Plainview adopts the man’s son as his own, using him to swindle families out of their rightful share of oil profits by casting himself as a widowed family man. When his “son” is later injured, we see both Plainview’s seeming love for the boy but also the limits of that love.

Plainview’s antagonist throughout much of the film is a local evangelical preacher, played by Paul Dano, who really should have also been nominated for an Academy Award. He’s excellent in this part, especially in the film’s climactic ending, a confrontation scene between him and Plainview.

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