About worlda2b

Naively optimistic traveler of the world wide interwebs.

My new crush…

This Valentine’s Day, I developed something of a crush. It’s definitely unrequited as the object of my affection doesn’t even know I exist. He’s a bit older. To be honest, he’s a lot older. He was born in 1929, and I was born nearly half a century later. But age is just a number, right?

My crush has so many great qualities that I can’t help but overlook our age difference. First, he achieved the rank of Eagle Scout, and we all know what a great honor that is, particularly if you are a white, heterosexual male that has a penchant for wearing short-shorts and neckerchiefs. Second, he received an appointment to West Point Academy when he was only 16. He never actually attended the Academy, but being accepted is basically the same thing. He opted instead to attend Bob Jones University. It wasn’t an accredited school, but even in the early days, it was a bastion of Christian fundamentalism and conservative ideologies and that’s much better than being able to transfer credits. Lastly, and most importantly, since 1955, he’s been at the helm of the Westboro Baptist Church.

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You’ve probably already guessed that my crush is non-other than Pastor Fred Phelps.

I’ve known who the Pastor is for some time; he and his flock of hate-filled picketers are quite the media darlings. But, I never took the time to visit the church’s website (godhatesfags.com for those interested) or to learn anything about its leader. That is, until Valentine’s Day when I came across a CrowdRise fundraiser setup by Josh De Leeuw to raise $100 for every minute Westboro Baptist Church planned to picket Vassar College. Apparently, the genius that is Fred Phelps decided he must rally his troops for a 45 minute protest because “God Hates Vassar College for following the satanic Zeitgeist by professing the soul-damning lie that it is ’OK to be gay.’”

Setup to be a Vassar community counter-protest, De Leeuw hoped to raise $4,500 for the Trevor Project, the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth. However, response from the Vassar community and beyond has far exceeded De Leeuw’s initial goal. At last check, more than $100,000 has been raised. That’ll pay for a ton of services for LGBTQ youth in need.

None of this would have been possible if it weren’t for Pastor Phelps and his hate mongering. So, thanks, Freddy, keep doing what you do so we can keep raising money for organizations like the Trevor Project and hopefully save a few precious lives too. Sorry, I didn’t send you a card or chocolates, but I did give a little something to the counter-protest in your honor. I’ll keep you on my list for next year.

XOXO

B

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America’s Family Guy has been banished to the couch…

It’s been 4 days since the Oscars aired, and I am already tired of seeing, reading and hearing exactly how offensive, misogynistic and inappropriate Seth MacFarlane was as host. And here I was, thinking Peter Griffin was the only one that ever beat a dead horse. At least with “Family Guy”, you know the episode is going to end in 30 minutes.

For the better part of a decade, Seth MacFarlane has gained legions of fans with his brand of nothing-is-sacred comedy. From gays to various religions to the education system to the Hollywood elite to himself, Seth will make fun of anyone and anything.

I count myself among his fans. I like his biting wit and satirical views and only occasionally feel a bit guilty for laughing. My feelings of guilt are not Seth’s fault; his jokes are funny because they’re true. He gets a bad rap because he has the balls to tell them, while others, including myself on occasion, are too busy looking around to see if anyone might be offended before laughing. If we took the jokes for what  they are, parodies trying to point out the hypocrisy in our own views, then we would all laugh mightily and probably add a few years to our lives as we would finally stop being so damned uptight.

I’m not saying every joke was the best joke Seth has ever told. In fact, I agree with pretty much everyone that the ‘Jews run Hollywood’ and ‘all black people look alike’ jokes were tired a decade ago. But Seth was hired for a reason: to use his brand of comedy to get his more than 3 million followers on Twitter, fans of his two hit TV shows and fans of his recent box office record breaking movie to tune into the Oscars. Between hiring Seth and dropping the “85th” from the ads halfway through the promotion, the Academy was trying to rebrand the Oscars as a show Seth’s demographic would want to watch. It was a gamble that seems to have paid off. The Oscars did see an increase in viewership compared to last year when Billy Crystal, the Academy’s favorite darling, hosted for the 10th time.

The problem arises when Seth, as host, is expected to be something he isn’t. He can’t pander to the Hollywood elite during a one night gig and risk alienating his core fan base by giving an inauthentic performance. So, let’s take a look at some of the jokes that have people wishing Chris Brown would take Seth for a late night car ride in LA.

The Chris Brown/Rihanna joke seems like a good place to start. I’ve read claims that because this joke makes light of domestic violence “we’ll end up with more dead women.” I’d like to think this joke is more of a warning to Chris Brown than an attack on Rihanna for going back to him. This joke says to Chris: “We know what you did, and while Rihanna has forgiven you, we haven’t. We’re still watching; don’t make that mistake again.”

Seth’s comment about being a former exotic dancer was another joke deemed as an attack on women in general and Jennifer Aniston specifically. This was not a barb to Jennifer Aniston. It was a challenge to our stereotypical ideas that when you see a man and a woman and you are told one of them is a former stripper, you will automatically assume it’s the woman. This time, that wasn’t the case and as much as we’d like to think otherwise, women are just as capable and just as likely to objectify men. The box office success of “Magic Mike” proves that point. I’m sure you saw the memes this summer “this is the first time guys want to see a movie about a teddy bear and girls want to see a movie about strippers.” I’m not embarrassed to admit I doled out my 8 singles to see Channing Tatum body roll in larger than life proportions on the big screen. And if he was still performing in the Tampa Bay area, I’d make the two hour drive south to my hometown to see him in the flesh.

Speaking of nakedness, “We Saw Your Boobs” is a catchy tune. I didn’t have an issue with it, and obviously, neither did a number of the women mentioned as they were part of the bit. And if you notice, Seth mentioned very strong women in a number of very strong roles. If he wanted to make a true mockery of women showing skin, he would have used that opportunity to make a Kardashian sex tape joke. However, I do think Seth missed an opportunity to call out several other boobs we regularly see. I’m looking at you, Matthew McConaughey, your wardrobe must be the least expensive of all stars because you spend so much time on screen, and in real life, without a shirt.

That reminds me, the audience was okay with equating Ben Affleck’s bearded face to a Kardashian but not okay with John Wilkes Booth being the one actor to “really get into Lincoln’s head?” What does that say about us as a society? I’ll tell you – it says we are only concerned about gender equality when it’s convenient and we can’t joke about something that happened nearly 150 years ago.

Don’t agree? Tell me, where were your admonishing words when neither Time nor Newsweek bothered to feature Nancy Pelosi on the cover when she became the first female Speaker of the House, but both put John Boehner on the cover when he was merely the presumptive Speaker? Where are your condemnations over the fact that women earn, on average, $0.81 for every $1 a man makes, for the same job?

Unfortunately, I don’t have time to explain each of Seth’s jokes to you. It was a 3 hour and 35 minute show, and I do have a job. That means, I have to work longer and harder to be able to afford the same house as my male neighbor. Don’t worry about being outraged on my behalf; I know you’re busy condemning Seth MacFarlane for mentioning Quvenzhané Wallis’ name in a joke making fun of a man’s (George Clooney) penchant for dating younger women. So, let’s agree to put this topic, along with your delicate sensibilities to bed, shall we?

A wickedly disappointing book and travel plan…

For my upcoming vacation, I wanted to go somewhere I haven’t been yet. Sadly, this isn’t terribly hard as I am not particularly well traveled.  I have been to a few great cities, including Chicago, Boston, Atlanta and Miami. I’ve also hiked the Grand Canyon and spent a few days in Vegas but there are still so many amazing places I’m dying to see, both in the US and beyond. Top on my list is, of course, New York City!  The Big Apple! This is Gotham City and The Metropolis, for crying out loud! So, for this vacay, I decided I’d finally find my way to the Empire State to visit the Capital of the World.

NYC library

I texted up my gay bestie and favorite travel partner to see if he was up for a little romp in the Concrete Jungle. I’m not sure if it was the city itself or my excellent use of all of its nicknames that sold him but, obviously, he was ready to pack his best gold lamé pants1 and hit the tarmac.

I went into hyper Type A mode planning our trip. I wanted to do all the amazing touristy things like visit Ellis Island and Lady Liberty, ride the subway, stroll through Central Park, buy a lukewarm, overpriced bottle of beer in a bar that I waited 3 hours to enter, watch a taping of SNL and The Daily Show, hail a cab, eat sketchy street vendor food and buy a knock-off designer anything from a dude’s jacket. Hopefully, I would do all of these things without getting urinated on or mugged. And what would a trip to NYC be without a show (or 39, time permitting) on Broadway?

We decided to see Wicked so in my preparations for the trip, I headed to my local library and rented up the audio book that the show is based upon, Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire. I had previously tried to read the book but I just couldn’t get into it. I love audio books and thought this format might help me trudge through this beast of a book. My plan worked, I did finish the book but it was a real chore. At times, I dreaded getting in the car because I just didn’t want to listen to the story. But, I have a firm policy of finishing every book I start, no matter how much I don’t want to, so I drove forth, trying desperately not to crash the car as a means getting away from the fucking book. If that seems a bit harsh, I bet you haven’t read it.

Other than knowing that this book was based on L. Frank Baum’s2 The Wizard of Oz character, the Wicked Witch of the West, I had no idea what to expect from the story. As I have seen The Wizard of Oz, I knew going in that the WWotW would die and I expected to shed more than my fair share of tears when it happened. But, this was contingent on the expectation that the story would be full of magic and whimsy and give the WWotW a backstory that would make her a loveable villain, endearing her in my heart forever. Kinda like what J. K. Rowling did with Professor Snape. I could not have been more wrong.

I fully believe every book is great, that’s part of the reason I always finish whatever it is I’m reading. Each author has given something of themselves in the telling of their story and I will not fault them because I do not have an ear capable of hearing their voice. This point is fully illustrated with Maguire’s vision for Elphaba, the given name of the WWotW, versus my own expectation of reading the story of a Disney-fied witch that is merely misunderstood.

While I didn’t particularly enjoy the story, I do have to credit Maguire, he can absolutely turn a phrase. Two of my favorite quotes from the book are:

“But in the middle was an island-a tiny thing, the size of a mattress, sprouting one leafless tree like an umbrella that has lost its fabric.”

“The moon passed overhead in its path from the Vinkus, and she felt its accusatory spotlight, and moved back from the tall windows.”

For some reason, I am particularly partial to the imagery of trees and this first quote creates a beautiful, albeit morose, picture. For that matter, the second quote is also quite morose but it is also a very beautiful image: the heavy-hearted and guilty cannot even hide in the dark.

Not being a fan of Maguire’s take on the WWotW, I was inspired to check out the original Baum story. I wanted to see what in the hell Baum could possibly have written to inspire Maguire’s tale. I’ll save the full deets for next time but as a quick preview, the movie is quite a stretch from the book and there is a real shocker when it comes to Dorothy’s famous shoes.

As if the disappointment of the book wasn’t enough, my vacay travel plans also fell through.  My favorite ‘Mo was up for a promotion at work and instead of throwing caution to the wind and heading to the former New Amsterdam (just when you thought I was out!), he decided to be responsible and adult like. It’s total BS in my opinion but he got the job and now makes roughly twice what I do so I guess his strategy is paying off more so than mine. Literally, apparently. So, now I have to wait to see how the Broadway show compares to the written story. I’ll get to NYC eventually, I just know it. Hopefully, SNL will still be on air.

  1. He doesn’t actually have any gold lamé pants. I don’t know how it happened but I have the worst gays. None of them are trendy or stylish. They wouldn’t know Tom Ford, even if he tried to hook up with them via Grindr3, 4.
  2. Fun fact: the L. in L. Frank Baum stands for Lyman
  3. For the record, Glee is the only reason I know who Tom Ford is.
  4. Also, I have no actual knowledge of Tom Ford using Grindr or ever trying to hook up with my very unfashionable ‘Mos.

Photo credit: New York Public Library, focusing on one of the lions. I seriously love libraries and I always try to visit them on vacations.

If I ruled the world…

If I ruled the world, one of the very first things I would do is create a harem of beautiful men to serve me. They need not be slaves or property in the true sense of the word, just be available to meet my every whim (while scantily dressed – I am not above objectifying men). I have three men in mind to get the group started and I’d like to take this opportunity to introduce the first one to you now.

Yes, that’s right. Seth MacFarlane is one of my top three. If you have eyes in your head, you can see that Seth is rather nice to look at but that is hardly the reason he will be one of the first in my harem once I rule the world. There will be others that fill the role of eye candy so Seth must have a higher purpose and thankfully, he has some amazing skills that will make him a great addition to my collection.

Firstly, he appears to be rather intelligent. As I’ve never had an actual conversation with him, I can only base this assumption on the references he makes in his television shows and his jokes. I know he has a team of writers but surely, some of things he says are from his own brain. One of my favorite jokes was posted on his twitter account: “If a macaque gets dismembered, I guess you’d call it rhesus pieces.” That’s just damn funny, it has a reference to my second favorite candy of all time (for the record, my favorite candy is Sixlets), it has an old world monkey reference and fun word play. See what I mean? Dude is basically a genius.

Secondly, Seth is equal opportunity. From gays to various religions to the education system to the Hollywood elite to himself, Seth will make fun of anyone and everything. His jokes are spot on and only occasionally make me feel a bit guilty for laughing. A good example also comes from Seth’s twitter account: “The lyrics to “Call Me Maybe” sound like the prelude to a horrific date rape.” This joke gained a ton of attention for making light of an incredibly violent and horrific act but as Seth says, “there’s no hell; you’ll be fine.” So, feel free to laugh.

Third, Seth is a proud and vocal atheist. Personally, I don’t know what I believe. I definitely do not subscribe to some bullshit book of fairy tales that disapproves of haircuts and eating lobster but is perfectly okay with a father offering up his daughters to a mob. But in times of stress and sadness, I find myself talking to someone/thing, sometimes bargaining, sometimes just getting my headspace clear. And, generally speaking, I’m okay with people believing in and talking to a fairy or wizard or weird creepy dude living in the sky, if that’s their bag. I’m not okay with people using their fairy/wizard/creepy dude to keep others from doing whatever it is that makes their heart sing. The more people that proclaim their status as a disbeliever, the more voices of reason we have in matters of public policy. And that’s a good thing.

Fourth, the man can croon. Besides the jack ass songs featured in Family Guy, I had no idea Seth could actually belt out a tune until Wil Wheaton* mentioned it a few years ago. Naturally, I headed to Youtube to have a listen. You should check out this one, and this one and this one. And when you are finished with these, just do a search for Seth MacFarlane singing and spend the next few days in auditory bliss.

But all of that pales in comparison to the cherry on the top of the Welcome to the Harem sundae: Seth is a liberal! There is nothing I find more attractive in a man than his leftist political views. He has a remarkable platform and uses it well.  His views are represented regularly in his shows and he doesn’t feel the need to apologize when he offends someone with more delicate sensibilities. My favorite example of his personal views appeared in an article published by The Advocate regarding marriage equality: “…I thought to myself, Why is it that Johnny Spaghetti Stain in fucking Georgia can knock a woman up, legally be married to her, and then beat the shit out of her, but these two intelligent, sophisticated writers who have been together for 20 years can’t get married? It’s infuriating and idiotic.”

Now, before you think the pedestal I’ve created for Seth is too high, let me reassure you that I do find fault with him. I think he may have a drinking problem. I’m not saying it’s an alcohol drinking problem but he definitely imbibes beverages from a cup as some sort of crutch. If you have ever seen him on a talk show, you will know what I mean. I first noticed his incessant drinking when he was a panelist on Real Time with Bill Mayer. In lieu of jumping into the debate with the two conservatives, Seth spent most of the episode clinging to his cup like it was the only thing that would save him. At one point, Bill Mayer called him out for being a lame panelist. I expected much more from Seth in this type of discourse and I was sorely disappointed. Since that show, I’ve noticed Seth always has a cup and is constantly drinking from it when being interviewed. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for hydration, but I think Seth drinks as often as his shows beat a joke to death. Which is every single time a joke is told, over and over and over and over again. Fortunately, his drinking is not a deal breaker for me. So, Seth, drink up and get ready to serve me some lightly frozen grapes while we watch the latest Katherine Heigl romcom.

Be sure to check out Seth hosting The Oscars tonight. I’m sure he will knock it out of the park and will look very dapper doing it.

*For the record, Wil Wheaton would definitively be on my harem list. He’s nerdy and a little awkward and pretty easy on the eyes. Plus, he starred in one of my favorite movies of all time, so I’ve kind of loved him my whole life. But, he’s married and while I’m okay with the idea of having a group of men be at my beck and call, I draw the line at home wrecking. See? I do have standards.

Photo credit: Awards Daily

Don’t you forget about him…

The first post in a new blog is a lot of pressure. I mean, it sets the tone for the whole endeavor; it’s a harbinger of things to come. The first post can’t merely be good, it has to be GREAT! It has to be the voice of a generation – of blog posts. And nothing says voice of a generation quite like John Hughes. So this inaugural post is in his honor and it’s all very apropos as today is his birthday.

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This is the guy that gave us The Breakfast Club and Sixteen Candles and Pretty in Pink and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.  Not to mention National Lampoon’s Vacation, Planes, Trains and Automobiles and Home Alone and many, many, many more. Seriously, his credits are miles long. Check out his IMDB page for the full deets.

John Hughes wrote constantly and quickly. Apparently, he wrote the script for The Breakfast Club in just 2 days! His movies challenged the typical depiction of teens by giving credence to our actual dilemmas. I can identify with every Hughesian version of a teen girl portrayed by Molly Ringwald. I was so paranoid my family would forget my birthday like Sam’s did in Sixteen Candles that I started a birthday count down. In fact, in my senior year of high school, my friends were so annoyed with the daily reminders of the number of days until my 18th birthday, they refused to actually tell me happy birthday once the day finally arrived. It was a Friday and we had a football game against our biggest rival, Gaither, so they said ‘Happy Gaither Game’, it was on the cake too. I had great friends. I don’t miss them much at all. I’m more than a high school reunion from being a teenager but I still give reminders leading up to my birthday. It’s like my yearly homage to John Hughes. Plus, I really wanted Jake Ryan to by my first too. He really is ideal.

John Hughes also managed to brainwash us with his soundtrack selections. In Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Hughes featured Oh Yeah by Yello in such a way that the song is now subconsciously synonymous with anything that is deeply desired. It’s been part of a Twix commercial and it’s Duffman’s theme. And most recently, it was featured in Glee’s Naked episode each time one of the guys appeared without a shirt. Now, if that’s not something that’s deeply desired (with extra, particular emphasis on Darren Criss), I don’t know what is!

The only negative I have to say about John Hughes is the lack of another John in his movies. Of course, I am referring to John Cusack. I love John Cusack and he made many great 80s flicks but I am sure he would have been even more awesome with a lead in a Hughes film or 13. I do keep the dorky Bryce in a special place in my heart though. What can I say? I love nerdy boys too and the combination of young John Cusack and nerd is nearly more than I can handle.

I could easily write several thousand more words on John Hughes and his movies but I’ll keep some of these words for another day. For now, I will leave you with my favorite John Hughes quote:

“You see us as you want to see us – in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. You see us as a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess and a criminal. Correct? That’s the way we saw each other at 7:00 this morning. We were brainwashed.”

Happy birthday, Mr. Hughes, you are missed.

*edit: this was supposed to be posted on 02/18/2013 which is actually John Hughes’ birthday but I somehow managed screw it up and it didn’t post until 02/19/2013. Talk about harbinger of things to come…