ANY DAY NOW: Audience Award Winner at Tribeca

30 Apr

ANY DAY NOW (2012). Image via www.tribecafilm.com.

Travis Fine’s fine new film Any Day Now, starring Alan Cumming, Garret Dillahunt, and Isaac Leyva, is the moving tale of a gay couple living in 1979 West Hollywood who adopt an abused boy with Down syndrome.  The film won the Audience Award at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival— and renewed discussions of whether Dillahunt and Peter Krause are secretly the same person.

Dillahunt can also be seen with hilarity as Kristen Wiig’s tacky husband in dark hit men comedy Revenge for Jolly!, which had a run of its own at Tribeca.

But seriously, Any Day Now is incredible, and totally deserving of its accolades.  Fine and co-writer George Bloom’s script could easily be a maudlin story too heartrending too connect with most audiences.  But through careful editing, separating emotion from sentimentality, and writing a work that is as often hilarious as it is tragic, Any Day Now‘s creative team elevate their story into a beautiful portrait of a loving family and the necessary struggle for what is right.  Also worth note is the film’s music, remarkably evocative of soulful yet disco-drenched late ’70s L.A.:

Not to give anything away, but the film’s closing song is a doozy.  Picture Alan Cumming, no longer in drag by this point, but quite theatrical, lit up on club’s stage and pouring his heart into this Bob Dylan tune.  Listen, picture it, and as soon as it hits a cinema near you, see this film.

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RUSSIA: Guarantee Free Speech, Release Pussy Riot!

23 Apr

Pussy Riot member arrested outside cathedral.
RIA Novosti / Iliya Pitalev.

Members of grrrl-led punk band Pussy Riot were arrested in Moscow this spring for an incendiary performance in a Russian Orthodox church.

The band, part of a large collective of feminist punk musicians, were protesting the patriarchal Russian political system and its connected cousin, the Orthodox Church.  According to this Al Jazeera report, the church has come under fire in recent years for its close ties to President Putin and the wealth of the church leaders.  See badass video below.

Pussy Riot perform their song “Holy Shit” at a Moscow cathedral in February.

For their brief overtaking of the cathedral, the band were arrested immediately.  Now Pussy Riot members face prison sentences of up to seven years for ‘hooliganism.’

Perhaps the group should face some repercussions for their scuffle with the Moscow police, but seven years seems absurdly harsh.  Feminist groups throughout Europe are calling for the group’s immediate release.  FreePussyRiot.org has begun to organize benefit concerts for the Pussy Riot legal defense fund.

The Russian Federation has been playing at increasing democracy and transparency since the fall of the USSR, but clearly, it still has a long way to go.  Where diplomacy rarely works, perhaps protest punk songs can.

What I’ve Learned When I’ve Gone About Dating

17 Apr

Image
My last truly successful romantic encounter occurred nearly a year ago. 45 Boston-based dates later, I am almost concluding that karma is catching up to me for handling that situation so badly.

Even so, moments of great discouragement are perhaps precisely those that warrant evaluating exactly what one has gained from the challenge of persevering and of not giving up hope. Here are my truths.


1. Attraction lies beyond the analytic
– personality traits, interests, goals, experiences, et al are helpful in alignment, but attraction is truly instantaneous, and strongly physical. Being an objectively good-looking and even foxy person does not always guarantee attraction from another. It is art, not science.

2. Rejection is only so personal/you can’t know why this is happening – you could have been a perfectly lovely date, and still have gotten rejected. You could even be a dynamite potential partner, and still get passed up. Truly, we all have flaws, and we may or may not get overlooked because of them. Ultimately, we are likely not fully to know why we don’t get chosen, and dwelling does no good.

3. There is no linearity to our narratives of love and sex – see #1 and #2, above: so much of this is chance. Putting in years of dating, or dozens of dates, does not a perfectly-fitting and fully-committed partner fate bring. There is no control; there is almost total randomness to potential chemistry and others’ reactions to us; and yet I am terribly tempted to visit a psychic with my buddy EL (she’s seriously down with the magics).

4. Persistence is key – as with job-hunting, one must not give up until one finds a match: and that’s when the real work begins. There are plenty of smart and personable people who may not be successful – one of those reasons might be lack of persistence. Don’t let it happen to you. Keeping the faith is much more difficult than is going through the motions, but we’ve got to reach for a holistically-optimistic view of the world’s possibilities.

5. No matter the disappointment, I continue to believe in what I have to offer – and I’m still a great date!! See #2: I do all I can not to take any of this personally. I am a hand-sewn, mix-textured, neon-patterned urban dress in a boutique filled with other pieces – I am not for everyone. But I believe I will be someone’s extra-special fun, functional inspiration.

6. Love happens – I know, because it’s happened to me. I may be forgetting the sensation, but I believe that it will happen again, and that when more elements are right, I will appreciate this person and what we share more than ever. Perhaps 45 site-specific dates will even seem a small feat compared with the joy awaiting me eventually.

 
About the author: Shendi is suffering from withdrawal from having recently finished Haruki Murakami’s South of the Border, West of the Sun. When the going gets rough, she writes herself into optimism, and maintains that you can, too.

It’s STD Awareness Month–Do you know where your junk’s been?

17 Apr

Alternate Title: Check yo self before you wreck yo self

Happy STD Awareness Month, everyone!  Even though we all know that we should be aware of our sexual health every month, let’s pay really close attention this month.  According to the Guttmacher Institute, people age 15-24 are responsible for almost half of new STD (also referred to as STI–Sexually Transmitted Infection) cases every year.  There could be a few reasons for this:

1) We’re having more sex, with more people, than our older counterparts.  Stands to reason that mathematical chance alone would account for some of the higher prevalence.

2) We’re not given the information or tools necessary to take charge of our own health.  Take sex ed, for example.  Only 21 states mandate sex ed in schools, and many teens are still having to sit through medically inaccurate, BS abstinence-only lessons.  As far as access to services, every state theoretically allows teens to consent to sexual health care, but barriers still exist.  The recent firestorm in Springfield over the School Committee’s decision to allow condom access and education for students illustrates the overwhelming resistance to acknowledging the sexual health needs of teens and young adults.  The problem with shooing teen sex under the rug is that not addressing an issue doesn’t make it not exist.

3) We’re being stupid.  Even with information and access, some people still choose to engage in unsafe behavior, or behavior that puts their partner(s) in an unsafe position.  That is just nonsense; stop it.  I recently read an article in which the author bragged about lying to her gyno.  What!?  I mean, I know doctors can be somewhat intimidating (especially if you’re in the younger end of that 15-24 age bracket), but come on.  Would you lie to your PCP about flu symptoms or to your dermatologist about a mole?

Bottom line: get tested, get vaccinated, and get a condom before you get it on.

“Mistakes: Grotesque, and Necessary”

11 Apr

"Mount Rainier Train" by Gary-Neil Richardson.

As I set out on a new adventure, I think about how fortunate I am:

To have the means to do what I love, to have friends who support and inspire me, to live in a relatively free society, to be privileged in so many ways.

To take ownership of my own life, and to make my own mistakes, grotesque, and necessary.  To often move through the world alone, and to be at peace with that.  To make art for myself.  To make art for others.

To fail.

To be freer than the majority of women who have ever lived.

Of course, this analysis depends on how one defines freedom.

Dani’s HOTD (Happiness of the Day)

6 Apr

It’s this.

To me, Tumblrs are the best internet distraction since, well, blogs I guess… (cue Keanue-esque “whoa” here.  Or, if Blossom’s more you’re thing, the Joey Lawrence “whoa.”).

In the past 48 hours, this meme has shown up everywhere, and even though I’ve always been an Obama gal myself, I’m totally digging it.  Funny and showcasing a woman in power? Check.  Add a Ryan Gosling cameo and I’m in love!

Video: “Shit Men Say to Men Who Say Shit to Women on the Street”

2 Apr

Speaking of men for whom we have great respect: National Anti-Harassment Week has ended, but this video from the Permanent Wave feminist collective (love the name) is suitable for viewing all year-round.  And we love what these men have to say.

Avoiding the slut-shaming angle of much rape/abuse/harassment-prevention advice, the video features New York men (mmm) letting other men know that harassing women will never be okay with them.  Multi-lingual, tri-borough+, mucho awesome, it is worth a watch and, we thought, worth sharing.

You can learn more about the Stop Street Harassment Campaign at Meet Us on the Street.