Visiting San Antonio’s Missions Sunday, Nov 29 2009 

PJ and I spent the first part of our Thanksgiving break with my family in San Antonio. We did the same thing two years ago. (This time we stayed with my sister, since her in-laws weren’t there.) On Wednesday, we paid a second visit to some of San Antonio’s missions, most of which date back to the eighteenth century, which is my period of study.

Last time, we visited Mission Nuestra Senora de la Purisima Concepcion de Acuna, the Alamo, and Mission San Jose y San Miguel de Aguayo. This time, we started with a return visit to Mission San Jose and then visited two new ones: Mission San Juan Capistrano and Mission San Francisco de la Espada. Again, the weather was great, and we had a wonderful time visiting the missions.

Partly, I like the history of these buildings and their compounds. I also like that these missions continue to serve as parish churches. And finally, I love the architecture of the missions. The angles, ruins, and shadows are beautiful to see and photograph. I just wish I were a better photographer.

Despite my limitations as a photographer, I figured I would mostly just sample the pictures I took and then maybe write a little about what I liked about some of their subjects.

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SotW: Whataya Want from Me by Adam Lambert Wednesday, Nov 25 2009 

All the “controversy” about Adam Lambert’s performance on the American Music Awards is really just homophobic silliness. All if want to say about it is that ABC (once again) should be ashamed of itself. When they canceled Lambert’s performance because of his “unpredictability” and scheduled Chris Brown of all people, they made it clear that they are more than happy to further our country’s homophobia and misogyny, which Eve Kosofsy Sedgwick taught us go hand in hand. It’s surprising that a network other than Fox can be the villain in a story about queerness, sexuality, and artistic expression, but ABC continues to claim that mantle every chance they get. Shame on them.

End of rant.

On the flip side, Adam Lambert is an extremely talented musician who has a long career ahead of him. Any doubts about this should be laid to rest with the following live clip from CBS’s The Early Show:

I’m not such a fan that I can’t entertain some of the criticisms about Lambert’s performances from time to time — and let’s face it: the real controversy about the AMA performance should have been that it just wasn’t very good vocally. I also sometimes find myself agreeing with critics who say that he tends to scream a little too much.

But this clip shows just how talented he really is. He can be a great singer; he definitely has a great voice. And it’s a pretty good song (co-written by Pink!).

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Make the Yuletide Gay: A Review Saturday, Nov 21 2009 

Last night PJ and I watched Make the Yuletide Gay, which is about a 22-year-old college student, Olaf “Gunn” Gunnunderson, who goes home for Christmas to visit his parents, who don’t know that he’s gay. When his boyfriend,  Nathan, shows up unexpectedly, comic mayhem ensues. Here’s the trailer:

After watching the movie, I read some other reviews online. The most accurate summary would be that Make the Yuletide Gay got mixed reviews. On the one hand, some people criticize it for being over the top, badly written, and cheaply produced. On the other hand, positive reviews praise its humor, good intentions, and leading performances. I can’t totally disagree with the former, but I nevertheless loved this movie. I think it’s a fun, adorable, heart-warming Christmas movie, and it’s about time we gays got a fun, adorable, heart-warming Christmas movie!

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SotW: Rave On by M Ward Wednesday, Nov 18 2009 

This week’s song of the week is M. Ward’s “Rave On.” It’s one of my favorite songs on his album, Hold Time. Here’s the video:

What I love most about this song is that it’s a sweet little love song. It was originally written in 1958 by Sonny West, Bill Tilghman, and Norman Petty. A number of artists have covered it since then, including Bruce Springsteen, Buddy Holly (with whom it seems to be most associated), the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and John Mellencamp. Ward’s version is my favorite; I like how he’s slowed it down a bit and stripped it down too.

Here’s a live version I found on YouTube:

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Dog Tags: A Review Monday, Nov 16 2009 

Over the weekend PJ and I watched Dog Tags, a movie about a guy, Nate, played by Paul Preiss, who joins the marines in order to please his girlfriend and his mother. While home from basic training, Nate gets a rude awakening about the girlfriend and meets Andy, played by Bart Fletcher, a gay guy with his own set of problems. The two men hit it off, leading both to make some important decisions about their futures.

I couldn’t find a trailer for the movie, so here’s a clip I found on YouTube. It takes place after Nate (the guy in bed) and Andy (the guy in the shower) have spent a night in a motel together.

I’m glad I found this clip because it illustrates what I like about this movie. First off, Preiss is great in this role. His Nate is a typical guy who’s just trying to do the best he can in life. His main problem is that he doesn’t know how he is. Raised by a single mother who isn’t very honest about his origins and who is torn between her hope that the marines will give him direction and that he’ll fail to become a marine, Nate pretty much just goes through life doing what everyone tells him to do. He’s not a big thinker.

Yet Preiss creates a character that is good-hearted and sincere, even if he isn’t terribly bright. As we get to know him better, however, we see that he is smart and has a lot of potential; he’s just never had the opportunity to figure things out for himself.

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Wrecked: A Review Saturday, Nov 14 2009 

On Friday, PJ and I watched Wrecked, a gay indy we rented from Netflix. Here’s the trailer:

Wrecked is about a would-be actor, Ryan, whose plans become derailed when his ex, Daniel, suddenly shows up and wants to crash at his house indefinitely. Although Ryan knows that Daniel is no good, he agrees to let him back into his life. When it becomes apparent that Daniel is still a drug addict and unable to commit to a monogamous relationship, Ryan has to decide whether to kick him out or jump right into Daniel’s drug-fueled sexual escapades. He chooses the latter, and his life quickly begins to spin out of control.

Theo Montgomery, which is apparently a pseudonym for actor Jake Casey, stars as Ryan. (PJ thinks that all of the actors on this movie used pseudonyms, but I don’t have time to confirm that right now.) I thought his performance was excellent. His Ryan has a winning mix of youthful gay attitude and innocence. I assume Casey and the other actors use fake names here because of the sexually explicit nature of this movie, and maybe they thought it would hurt their careers or embarrass their families or something.

And this film is sexually explicit. We see the four of the actors completely nude. They make out, feel each other up, get erections (which we see), feel each others erections up, and (presumably) simulate anal sex.

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Another Reason to Visit Brazil: Arthur Sales Friday, Nov 13 2009 

Reading Made in Brazil, one of my favorite blogs, gives me a new reason almost every day to want to visit Brazil. Here’s today’s reason:

Based on this video I have to say that Arthur Sales is a perfect ambassador for Brazilian tourism! (Watching his video for Butch also makes me want to workout!)

Rodrigo Calazans, one of my favorite Brazilian models, was the “face” of Butch in 2009. Here’s a making of video for his campaign:

For much of the past year, a picture from Calazans’ Butch campaign has been my desktop photo on my computer.

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Sotw: Bad Romance by Lady Gaga Thursday, Nov 12 2009 

This week’s song of the week is Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance,” the first single off of her new(ish) album, The Fame Monster. Here’s the video, which is crazy amazing:

Since watching the video, I’ve been reading various online reviews of it. Partly, I thought this might help me try to understand it a little more — I think Lady Gaga is a brilliant performance artist, but I don’t always think I’m “getting it” as thoroughly as I’d like to. And I was just interested in what other people had to say about it.

Critics agree that the overall message of the video is to critique various aspects of fame. As Christopher John Farley explains, “The theme of the video seems to be something about how fame seduces, addicts and perverts those that attain it.”

The best part of the video, of course, is the visuals Lady Gaga creates. As Marina Reed points out, “Only Lady GaGa could make getting kidnapped, drugged, and auctioned off to the Russian mafia look this good.” My favorite parts are the crazy eyes while she’s in the bathtub, the use of back lighting in several parts of the video, the hot Russian mafia guys’ bare chests and shoulders and tattoos (they can kidnap my ass any time they want!), the grotesque image of the nude Lady Gaga as deformed and emaciated captive, the hairless cat (totally brilliant), the floating jewels part, Lady Gaga’s white thong (she’s smoking too!), and, of course, the video’s final image. I guess that means I love it all!

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SotW: Shut Up and Drive by Chely Wright Tuesday, Nov 3 2009 

While PJ and I were driving to Washington D.C. last week, we talked a little about songs about driving. One of my favorites has long been Chely Wright’s “Shut Up and Drive,” so when we got back I downloaded it from iTunes and started listening to it again.

The embedding for the video has been disabled on YouTube, but you can watch it here. (Usually, I don’t choose songs that won’t let you embed the video — I think it’s stupid when they do that — but I love this song enough to overcome that prejudice.)

Now I can’t stop listening to this song. It’s really a great country song, I think. Somebody really ought to cover it.

Listening to it again also made me think about the late 1980s and early 1990s and when I loved a number of country songs, mostly by female artists. Here’s a list (in no particular order) of some of the ones I loved back then. Some of these video also have embedding disabled, but I’ll include what I can and link to what I can’t.

“Like We Never Had a Broken Heart” by Trisha Yearwood and Garth Brooks:

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    Pageant: A Review Monday, Nov 2 2009 

    PJ was feeling under the weather on Saturday, so instead of going out for Halloween, we decided to stay in and watch Pageant, a documentary about the Miss Gay America Pageant. Here’s the trailer:

    Simply put, I loved this documentary. Let’s start with the level of being a documentary. This film focuses on five of the 52 contestants in the Miss Gay America Pageant. I liked this emphasis on just a small sampling of the contestants, since it allows you to become familiar with them and start rooting for (or against) one or more of them. This focus creates the documentary’s narrative and sucks up into the competitions and back- and onstage dramas.

    Like the ladies in the Miss American Pageant, these ladies participate in a series of competitions before the pageant’s finale, where the finalists are named and then compete for the crown. We see the contestants undergo an interview as men — they are required to dress in male clothing and are judged, in part, on their ability to distance themselves from their drag persona. They have a solo talent competition, in which they have to perform alone and without separate props. Then they have a talent production contest, in which they can have back-up dancers, props, and sets. And they have to compete in evening gowns.

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