Favorite Videos of 2010 Sunday, Jan 30 2011 

Since I’ve covered albums and singles/tracks, the last of my annual music-related favorites list for 2010 is my favorite videos of the year. As usual, I’ll list the videos and explain briefly what I like about them. I’ll conclude with some thoughts about what this list seems to suggest about me.

My favorite video of 2010 is Brandon Flowers‘ “Crossfire”:

This is the first time that my favorite song of the year is also my favorite video, but the song itself is part of what I love about this video. I also love its Charlize Theron as ninja storyline — I love kick-ass women! I also love Flowers’ smile every time she shows up to rescue him. Together, these elements are an interesting spin on the more traditional damsel in distress. I also love when she puts her arm around him at the end as a sign of comfort. This reversal of traditional gender roles is bloody brilliant. And it doesn’t hurt that I think Flowers is one of the hottest men in the world.

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Animal Kingdom: A Review Saturday, Jan 29 2011 

Last night, PJ and I watched Animal Kingdom from Netflix. This Oscar nominated Australian film is gritty crime movie told from the perspective of 17-year-old Josh. As the film begins, Josh’s mother dies from an overdose, forcing him to move in with his grandmother and uncles, who are professional back robbers.

The cops are on to the family’s criminal activities, creating an increasingly tense climate as the police resort to drastic measures to “punish” the family for its crimes. As the violence escalates, Josh has to decide whose side he’s on: the corrupt police or his corrupt family. It’s not an easy choice.

Here’s the trailer:

Overall, I really liked this movie. The acting and directing are excellent, even if some of the plot twists are hard to believe — it’s sometimes difficult to believe that anyone would make such stupid choices when confronted with a situation as volatile and violent as Animal Kingdom depicts. Even so, I really liked it.

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The Ask: What Money Means to Me Sunday, Jan 23 2011 

I’ve just started reading Laura Fredricks’s The Ask: How to Ask for Support for Your Nonprofit Cause, Creative Project, or Business Venture for work. Whether I like it or not, a large part of my job is fundraising, and my success or failure will largely be measured by my ability to raise money for my college.

There are a lot of obstacles to this goal. Not the least of these is the fact that I have no experience asking for money. Even so, my first year as dean was fairly successful in terms of external gifts to the college: we had an increase of 50% over the previous year. This fact is misleading, however, since the previous year’s giving was relatively small — it didn’t take much to surpass it.

I also have a bit of a cushion this year: one planned gift for which the paperwork was completed this year almost made up my entire goal of the year. But as a planned gift, my college won’t see any of it until the donor passes away, not something that we’re hoping for anytime soon.

While these first two years have therefore technically been successful, my college increasingly needs cash money. Our university’s budget, like everyone else’s, is in the crapper, and the only way I’m going to be able to continue funding some programs is if they receive external support.

My boss would like for me to attend a workshop in Florida next month about fundraising, but the simple fact is that I don’t have a travel budget that will support both going to a workshop and doing actual fundraising. So, I’ve had to choose the latter over the former — I’ve already made one short alumni/development trip since the beginning of the year. In the next few months, I will be making additional ones to Cleveland and San Francisco for sure and to Missouri, Boston, Chicago, and New York potentially.

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Slice by Marco Castro Thursday, Jan 20 2011 

Lately I’ve had a constant craving for pizza. Any pizza. Pizza from the cafeteria at work. Pizza from our local pizza places (chains or locally owned). Homemade pizza. I can’t seem to get enough.

So, I find this short video by Marco Castro fascinating, partly for the pizza but mostly for the model, Asher Caplan! I first saw it on my new favorite blog, Sissydude, who saw it on another great blog, Homotography:

I love pizza too, but somehow I can’t manage to look this good eating it!

Red Cliff: A Review Wednesday, Jan 19 2011 

Over the Christmas holiday I wasn’t feeling well, so I had lots of opportunities to just lay around and watch movies and TV shows. At one point, I decided that I was in the mood to watch a Medieval Chinese epic — or whatever the correct term might be — something like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon or The House of Flying Daggers, two of my favorite movies. We now have Netflix for Wii, which is a great way to watch movies or television just by browsing by subject.

After trying out a couple of other movies that quickly didn’t feel like what I was in the mood for, I came across Red Cliff, a John Woo’s epic war film set in 208-209 A.D. It was just what I wanted to watch. Here’s the trailer:

Here’s the basic plot. In the summer of 208, Emperor Xian is forced into allowing his prime minister, Cao Cao, to march to war against two of the southern warlords, Sun Quan and Liu Bei, eventually forcing them into an alliance against Cao Cao’s overwhelmingly large forces. Cao Cao successfully attacks Liu Bei first, and Liu Bei sends his trusted strategist Zhuge Liang
to negotiate an alliance with Sun Quan’s forces. His success gives Cao Cao the pretense he needs to attack. The allied armies gather at Red Cliff, Sun Quan’s main military base.

Believing that the allied forces will be distracted by his huge navy, Cao Cao sends a cavalry force to storm Red Cliff. Zhuge Liang, however, anticipates this movie, and the allied forces defeat the “surprise” attack. Cao Cao is therefore forced to plan a naval attack against Red Cliff. His navy is commanded by two southern warriors, a fact that Cao Cao thinks will help him win the battle, since they are more familiar with the area.

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Chad White IS the Hottest Man in the World! Tuesday, Jan 18 2011 

Last May I asked, “Is Chad White the Hottest Man in the World?” This new picture is now making the rounds on several of the blogs I read; I think it definitely answers the question:

Via http://www.models.com Photo Gregory Vaughan

I love the longer hair, among other aspects of this photo! I’m glad that this is one question that I can now easily answer!

The King’s Speech: A Review Monday, Jan 17 2011 

Last night, PJ and I joined a couple of our friends at the cinema to see The King’s Speech, Colin Firth‘s new movie. Firth plays Albert Frederick Arthur George, the Duke of York, who became King George VI in 1936 when his older brother, Edward VIII, abdicated in order to marry Wallis Simpson, an American divorcee.

The instability caused by his brother’s short reign of less than a year combined with the threat of a second world war puts¬† great deal of pressure on George VI to succeed as king; this success, however, is threatened by his inability to speak without stammering. The King’s Speech follows the Duke of York’s and then King’s efforts to overcome his impediment with the help of a speech therapist, Lionel Logue. Here’s the trailer:

Overall, this movie is excellent. One of the things that some of the blogs I’ve been reading lately have emphasized is that it’s an uplifting film, and it definitely is. All of us came out of the movie feeling that it was a very inspiring movie.

Much of this inspiration is due to Firth’s magnificent performance as the stuttering prince and king. His performance is both physical — you can see all of the muscular contortions his character is going through in order to get words literally out of his mouth — as well as emotional.

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SotW: Ricky Martin’s “The Best Thing about Me Is You” Friday, Jan 14 2011 

Like most people, I’ve long thought that Ricky Martin is hot — or at least I have since he cut his hair shorter! For example, in recent pics (one’s in which he’s got short hair and has matured) Martin is HOT:

I don’t think he was all that hot when he was younger and had long hair:

Now that he’s out, he’s even hotter. I first heard this single when he sang it with Joss Stone on Oprah. At the time I was skeptical about it. It felt wrong for him to be singing a heterosexual love song after having just come out.

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Favorite Songs/Tracks of 2010 Thursday, Jan 13 2011 

Having written about my favorite albums of 2010, it’s time to list my favorite songs/tracks of the year. As usual, I’ve identified my favorite 25 songs, whether they’re singles or tracks from an album. The list isn’t an attempt to be specifically accurate — it’s not that I like #17 more than #18 but that the top ten or so are more my favorites than the next five and so on. I’ll also try to explain what I like about each song/track.

#1: Brandon Flowers‘s “Crossfire,” a great song with a great video:

I love The Killers, and this song retains much of the flavor of one of their songs. I also like that it’s catchy and kind of a love song. From the first notes, I immediately loved every bit of the song the first time I heard it.

#2: Glee‘s “Teenage Dream”:

I know that I’m in danger of being an old, gay perv by liking this song, but I think it’s wonderful that this kind of song is on TV and no one really takes it as the demise of Western Society any more. That a guy could sing this song more or less to another guy is just great. As a “gay” song, it’s also a great love song. And Darren Criss is an energizing addition to Glee. (I have to say, though, that I find it a little creepy hearing an adult woman sing it to an adult man —¬† a little too I’m-going-to-be-your-teenage-dream pedo fantasy for me.)

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Strapped: A Review Sunday, Jan 9 2011 

Last night, PJ and I watched Strapped, a small gay independent film written and directed by Joseph Graham. Ben Bonenfant plays a male prostitute who easily adapts to each client’s needs. After coming home with a John — literally, since the character’s name is John — the hustler becomes trapped in an apartment building, meeting some of its various tenants. He sleeps with some of them, but he learns a little more about himself from each person he meets. Here’s the trailer:

We first see him with a client who tells him a story about the guy he loved when he was a teenager in Russia. Bonenfant’s character immediately replies with his own revealing tale of childhood abandonment. He then meets a queen, instantly becoming a queen himself and pretending to be a version of Keanu Reeves’s character in My Own Private Idaho. He hooks up with a closeted married guy while pretending to be straight himself, blows a guy at the queen’s party, and gets fucked by an older gay activist who’s grateful for the opportunity to have sex with a such a hot guy. He also runs into a guy who just wants to kiss and have his soul penetrated.

The Hustler–we never know his name in the film–adapts to each client’s needs, but he also shares tender moments with most of the men, connecting with them in some deeply personal way. But is it really connection? Or are the tender moments just another part of his professional toolbox?

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