From vampires to scientologists, a weekend in the city

Temperatures in the windy city have begun to plunge, transforming what was formerly a leisurely fifteen minute walk to the train from my apartment into a brutally chilly venture. Although the weather makes it tempting to stay indoors, there’s simply been too many exciting things going on around the city to miss out on. I trudge forth into the winter “wonderland.”

Friday night, original plans fell through and my boo and I decided to go and see what all this Twilight fuss was about. Much like the respective Jonas Brothers-Miley Cyrus-owning a cell phone before high school crazes of teens and tweens in the past year, I had apparently missed the boat on why the Stephenie Meyer novel was on the “hot list” of every girl and sexually-confused boy between the ages of 11 and 16. With our sudden lacking of plans and mutual fandom of vampire cinema taken into account, we decided to brave the crowds and shell out the dough to check out Hollywood’s latest box office sales savior.

TWe definitely underestimated the militancy of the crowd, even at the latest Friday night showing, which was predominately a non-teen demographic. Ten minutes before the show and we were left scrambling for far-left, second-row seats — only to avoid front-row seats. My neck and upper back have still not forgiven me for that lapse of judgment on the seating situation.

And, unfortunately, neither have my eyes and ears. Yes, the film was entertaining — the score, by Carter Burwell, was quite good and the eye candy was pleasing, for two of its strongest points. A vampire love story told competently from innocent beginning to dramatic end. That said, the storyline was somewhat tedious and one-dimensional, owing to the pedestrian acting, save from the odd, jarring special effects that took the visual experience of the film from average to ridiculously hokey in a matter of seconds.

It also didn’t aide my experience when I later learned that Meyer is a devout Mormon, planning to donate 10 percent of her earnings from the film to the Church of Latter Day Saints, one of the leading contributing organizations to the effort to pass Proposition 8 in California. This, compounded by the fact that one of the nation’s largest theater chains — Cinemark/Century Theatres — is owned by CEO Alan Stock, a man who donated $9999 to support Proposition 8’s passage equals lots of angsty vampire-fueled dollars for the Religious Right. What will they think of next? A teenage zombie love drama? (I hope so!)

But it wasn’t all bad. The raspberry martini at the attached bar/bowling alley wasn’t too shabby — I think it was called a 7-10 Split. So deliciously clever. And the film’s director Catherine Hardwicke’s breaking the record of highest opening weekend at the box office ($70.6 million) for a female director deserves some props.

Saturday evening was spent learning more about soul-suckers of another kind: Scientologists. After a day spent window-shopping in Lakeview, I wandered to A Red Orchid Theatre in Old Town to catch a performance of the Very Merry Unauthorized Children’s Scientology Pageant. The hour-long musical was very amusing, with the troupe of kiddies satirically telling the story of L. Ron Hubbard, dianetics, the E-meter and auditing through the ages. The staging and production values were extremely low-budget, which added to the allure of the message in the intimate space.

The show was first presented in New York in 2003, resulting in the threat of a lawsuit from the Church of Scientology, unless the word “unauthorized” was added to the title. Probably a good idea for the writers — the scientologists have some financial muscle behind them, to the tune of an estimated $500 million+ annual revenue.

Scientology has been in the news this week as Germany’s attempt to ban the cult, er religion, from practicing, on the grounds of its coercion of vulnerable people into financial ruin and personal harm, was dropped. In addition, just yesterday, Mario Majorski, an ex-Sociologist entered a celebrity centre in Los Angeles holding samurai swords and was shot to death by security guards. The man had previously demanded the church pay him $50,000 for “ruining his life.”

How could a loving religion be so life-ruining? What could inspire such seemingly unprovoked rage? As I started to do my homework, I had an answer that made it make a little bit more sense:

[Homosexuals] should be taken from the society as rapidly as possible and uniformly institutionalized; for here is the level of the contagion of immorality, and the destruction of ethicsNo social order will survive which does not remove these people from its midst.

That’s L. Ron Hubbard, himself, explaining his views on homosexuality. And I’m sure this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the Church of Scientology’s brilliance. Any readers have any other favorite nuggets of truth from Mr. Hubbard?

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On remembrance

Last Thursday, November 20, marked the tenth anniversary of the recognition of International Transgender Day of Remembrance.  The day was originally conceived following the violent murder of Rita Hester in Boston.  The negative media coverage and police treatment of the Hester case — which remains unsolved to this day — prompted the outcry from the LGBT community.  The day is recognized through candlelit vigils and rallies held all around the world.

Please take a moment to read the names and stories of those who are no longer with us following the last year.

I think it is important to think about the many -isms and -phobias stacked up against the transgender community, inarguably one of the most vulnerable groups of human beings on this planet.  Sexism, racism, classism and homophobia are just four of the main ingredients of transphobia.  Listed at the link above are the names of our brothers and sisters who have fallen victim to hate.  These murders are usually unsolved and often directly involve police brutality or indifference.

It pains me inside to know that we live in a world where people are still killed, everyday, simply for being different.  Surely, one day, we will evolve past hatred toward understanding?  Not as long as faces like Mike Huckabee are condoned for their homophobic and short-sighted statements on national television, as seen below in an interview on The View last week, just two days after a trans woman was killed in Syracuse(This man denies evolution, too… and he was quite nearly a presidential candidate for this country?!)

Stand up and be counted as a transgender ally, because everyone deserves justice and an equal chance at happiness.

Not my “Pal”..-in.

In the days that have passed since it was announced that Super Hockey Mommy Gun-Lovin’ Church Lady Barbie was to be the Republican nominee for vice president, I have tried to refrain from my immediate reaction. Or actually, my second one, since my immediate reaction, “Who?”, would be difficult for me to deny, as it would be for many Americans.

But, no. We weren’t punk’d. Alaska Governor Sarah Palin; renowned for her extensive diplomatic experience with nearby Russia and research into the causes of global warming and the history of the feminist movement — she is, a feminist, of course; is truly being nominated for the No. 2 most important position in our country’s government.

I don’t know which of the following is more comical about this clearly very strategic move by the Republican Party, besides her complete lack of experience:

(a) That they’d truly believe that moderate and hardcore Hillary-loving liberal white women would embrace Palin as a candidate;

(b) That this would be viewed as a giant, progressive step forward in the women’s movement — breaking through the glass ceiling — by Americans everywhere, despite Palin’s clearly anti-choice position;

(c) That both of the above seem to actually be happening. At least in some parts of this nation, thanks in no small part of the right-wing PR machine (which, I must admit as a strategic communications major, is clearly brilliant) and the always-receptive-to-ignorance FOX News, not to mention CNBC. Just look at this ridiculous clip from Donny Deutsch, who claims that Palin is a successful candidate because she knows her place in the world — wearing a skirt — Hilldawg never figured that out.

This whole thing is ludicrous. But to be fair, Palin does have some experience in politics, and her accomplishments should not be ignored. Just to name a few:

  1. While serving as Mayor of Wasilia, Alaska, she looked the other way as victims of sexual assault were charged between $300 and $1200 for rape kits. OpEdna
  2. Also while Mayor of Wasilia, Palin attempted to fire a librarian who refused to remove several books from the library system. Two of the titles? Daddy’s Roommate and Pastor I’m Gay. I love having people in office in a democratic nation who don’t support free speech. The Huffington Post and AP
  3. While Governor of Alaska, Palin supported legislation that made it easier for aerial hunters to brutally kill wolves and other animals during the winter, in addition to many other aggressively pro-hunting policies. Queerty
  4. During her first 19 months in office as Governor, Palin billed Alaskan taxpayers for 312 nights of a “per diem” allowance to cover her meals and incidental expenses. The total bill? Around $16,000; while her family charged the state over $40,000 to travel in that time. Washington Post
  5. Palin’s former church, the Wasilia Assembly of God, has close ties to the abysmal and abusive ex-gay organization Love Won Out. AP

These were just five among many, many more reasons why this woman could not be a worse choice for vice president. Disagree? I’m deeply saddened by your ignorance. Period. I couldn’t agree more with Margaret Cho (an actual feminist)’s quotation from earlier today in the Washington Blade:

“I think [Palin] is the worst thing to happen to America since 9-11,” Cho said. “Someone who has no thoughts about women’s rights and who wants to send women back to the Stone Age? You might as well not let women vote. I came out of the Democratic convention feeling so proud and excited, but now I fear that our country is so backwards in so many ways and the ignorance that exists is greater than we can even imagine.”

Kudos for being brave and speaking out, Miss Cho. It’s not easy to do in a country that has been taught in recent years to fear like never before. To obey. To never ask questions. When in doubt, just drive over to Wal Mart and buy more shit. It’s the American way.

Kudos to Cho. Kudos to Gloria Steinem, author of the LA Times piece, “Wrong woman, wrong message”. Kudos to the hundreds who rallied this weekend at the Alaskan Women Reject Palin rally — more than showed up to her Welcome Home Rally on the same day. Kudos to mafuckin’ Tina Fey, for her impeccable impression of Hockey Mommy.

Let’s not stand by and let an anti-gay, anti-choice, pro-violence, completely ignorant non-feminist step within a heartbeat of the Presidency. The time is now.

Have friends getting gay-married anytime soon?

It’s been a busy few months for this ghey, but sanity has finally returned and Reality TV Makes Me Cry is now coming to you live from a new location — Chicago. I may not have cable yet, nor is my Internet connection the most reliable, but I intend to update this blog as frequently as I am able to with remarks on the various crazinesses of our world.

Yahtzee, game on.

Ever read a news story while instantly visualizing the next three headlines on that topic in the coming weeks? This was precisely my experience with this announcement from Hallmark that they would begin selling cards appropriate for gay-marrieds becoming civilly unionized, or whatever they call it these days, just in time for Portellen’s joyous union. These new cards arrive on the heels of a series of “coming out” cards unveiled last year by the retailer.

Cue the protesters: A number of Hallmark stores in the state of Idaho have announced that they will not carry the new offerings. The esteemed American Family Association has also added Hallmark to their shit list by encouraging a protest, just as they had earlier this year with the homo-friendly, gay pride mongers McDonald’s. Their rationale?

“… promoting same-sex marriage for profit is not the very best for families or our nation. Hallmark is a private company obviously driven by greed,” reads the official AFA petition. “Let them know you do not appreciate Hallmark promoting a lifestyle which is illegal in 48 states.”

Ho hum. You would think that the right-wing conservatives would find it enough to simply not buy the ghey cards and let the Bush-endorsed capitalist marketplace work itself out by eliminating the unholy pieces of parchment stuffed in equally evil envelopes. This is almost as amusing as the post-9/11 Dixie Chicks protest.

Speaking of illegal lifestyles and weddings, check out this story about a Michigan couple that was recently straight-married and wound up being tasered and spending the night in separate prison cells. Is this proof that the homosexual agenda has finally gained steam? Or did a bunch of bitches just get schwasted? Judge for yourself.

How much can you really “reclaim”?

I’m sure that you’ve all heard by now about Jane Fonda’s “C-bomb” droppage last week on The Today Show, during an interview with Meredith Vieira, but in case you missed it (which is highly possible.. I mean, does anyone really watch that show anymore?):

My first reaction to the news — which caused a ridiculous amount of uproar — pretty much matched Vieira’s. I rolled my eyes, apologized to the three people I was speaking with at the time and moved on. It’s not as though Fonda had slammed a glass beer bottle on the edge of a table, brandishing it toward Vieira while screaming a slew of obscenities about the female anatomy. Instead, she had referred to the name of the monologue — “Reclaiming Cunt” — that she had been asked to perform in a performance of The Vagina Monologues.

Our society has reached this bizarre point with censorship where words, phrases and ideas are only punished when they challenge hegemony. As Eve Ensler, the monologues’ author, stated in a People article: “Why is there a buzz about that when there’s no buzz about the word ‘rape’ or ‘plutonium’ or ‘clusterbomb’? … I’m always surprised that people focus on these issues, when one of three women in the world are being raped and beaten and violated.”

These issues are simply not being talked about, while at the same time, the gendering of proper behavior and etiquette for powerful women has never been more strictly policed. Fonda is just another example of this. We are inundated with news whenever Britney Spears eats a Ho-Ho, Hillary Clinton cries a tear or any other woman of influence steps out of line with the norm in some way.

Today in Wisconsin was the primary election, and as expected, Clinton was defeated soundly by Barack Obama, particularly here in Madison, where the “student voice” quickly morphed into a cultish choir chanting “change” and “hope.” Don’t get me wrong — I really like both candidates and am thankful that we as a country are fortunate enough to be able to choose between two fantastic Democratic candidates, rather than feeling stuck with . But, based on the conversations I have had in the past weeks, suffice it to say that I am skeptical about the depth of Obamaites’ knowledge on the issues. Their eyes sparkle from the excitement of a great orator with carefully crafted, brilliantly strategized appeals and imagery, though I’ve heard very little based in actual political discourse to back up the taglines. That is, unless this heinously anti-woman Facebook status message of a “friend,” posted earlier this evening, counts as discourse:

A “friend’s” Facebook status following Clinton’s loss Tuesday.

There simply seems to be no stopping the Obamamania.