Monday, November 30, 2009

Holiday weekend highlights

While many of you busily put up your Christmas trees and decorated the exterior of your houses, Spouse & I were lazy and just enjoyed the weekend.

Sat we took Big Ella out for some exercise, we went to lunch, stopped at the grocery store, watched TV, and Spouse napped. Steven & Thad, their friend Joe, and The Bobs came over for dinner. We purposely made extra Thanksgiving food so we could have it again with our friends. Amazingly, after 5 people at on Thanksgiving and 7 people at on Sat, we STILL have Thanksgiving left overs. But they're so tasty I don't mind. I had some for lunch today and put the rest in the freezer. We had a really nice evening with the guys and I was surprised at how quickly the time flew by. We ate in the dining room and used our 'good' dishes, glasses, silverware, and serving pieces. It was fun!

Sun morning we met Rick & Nick for brunch at 10 (we drove Big Ella). It was surprisingly warm and very sunny; we didn't even need a jacket. We took Jordan for a nice, long walk, then decided to go for a convertible ride with the top down, of course. I washed the last of the casserole dishes and played around on the computer while Spouse napped. Then we went to Rick & Nick's to watch a movie on their theatre-size screen. First we watched Kathy Griffin's "Balls of Steel" stand-up comedy act, which was great! I love Kathy Griffin! Then we watched "Stardust", which I'd never heard of before, but apparently was in the theatres for at least a week. We enjoyed it.

Its amazing how quickly a 4-day weekend can pass. I'm already looking forward to having some days off for Christmas.

Crush du Jour: Eion Bailey

Friday, November 27, 2009

Friday fragments

Welcome to Friday fragments, my weekly recap of topics too big to forget, yet too small to be their own post.

Thanksgiving was different this year for us. Since Spouse & I have been together (over 13 years) this is the 1st Thanksgiving that his sister (his favorite sibling) and her husband and children were not with us. They went to NC to be with her husbands' family. So it was a smaller, more quiet holiday for us, but it was still very enjoyable. Spouse's mom, brother, and sister-in-law came and we had a delicious meal and 'family time'. Spouse's lemon-herb roasted turkey was wonderful, as usual, and our side dishes included sweet potato shuffle and Paula Deen's corn casserole. We purposely made too much so we'd have lots of left overs. Tomorrow we're having some friends over for Thanksgiving left over dinner.


I'm just CRAZY for this video! Check it out - it is just one guy, using technology to 'clone' himself. Some people are so creative...

Do you ever feel like you blend into the scenery? Can't seem to get noticed in a crowd? Then get yourself one of these scarves:
A friend sent me this photo and it cracked me up!

Can I say just how much I CAN'T STAND Taylor Swift?

There was no Black Friday shopping for us today. We had no interest in being out in those crowded stores, risking getting trampled to death over a bargain.

Another friend sent me this photo, which I found to be pretty clever. Check out the location of the door knob.


Have a great weekend!


Crush du Jour: Matt Schiermeier

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Here's wishing everyone a very happy Thanksgiving. Enjoy!



Here's one Thanksgiving 'tradition' I will NOT be participating in.

Crush du Jour: Randy Orton

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Overheard in a restaurant

Overheard in Dos Locos restaurant, Rehoboth Beach DE, on Tues night:

"So what did you decide about Thanksgiving?"

"Oh my god... my mother is just too much..."

"What happened?

"She tried to guilt me into hosting AGAIN. You know, I've hosted Thanksgiving for, like, the last 7 years... ever since my brother's wife tried to host that one time. Basically they provided the location and everyone else provided the food AND cleaned up afterward. And the poor doe doesn't EVEN know how to set a table. Its really just too tragic."

(Giggles)

"So after THAT debacle, Mom asked me to host the next year, and I did, and it was fabulous, and so every year since then its been me... cleaning the house for days, making all the food... and for the first few years I enjoyed doing it. Really, it was fun."

"So what happened?"

"Well, for one thing, it kept growing. Long lost aunts, forgotten cousins, Mom's next door neighbors - it was ridiculous. Pretty soon there were, like, 24 people coming for Thanksgiving dinner. Mom said she couldn't help it, and since I had such a big house, why not?"

"Well, that can be nice..."

"Not when there's bad kids. I don't understand how people can just bring bad kids to someone else's house. They're loud, they're messy, they write on your walls with crayon... OH YES! One of those little hellions wrote on my wall with a grape crayon! I swear, people with bad kids should just stay home! Politely turn down invitations if you can't get a sitter, people!!"

(More giggles.)

"Oh my god, then there was last year. I told my mom I really didn't want to host last year. I'd done several years in a row, the crowd kept getting bigger, it kept costing me more and more money, I just didn't want to do it, and I told her: 'Mom, I just don't want to host Thanksgiving this year', but she guilted me into it."

"What did she say?"

"First she said she'd give me money for some of the food, but I told her it wasn't just the money, it was all the work and shit. So then she let our a big sigh and said: 'Okay son. We'll just have KFC for Thanksgiving at your brother's house.'"

"Ooohhh, she's goooooooood..."

"Yeah, well it worked last year but its NOT working this year. Oh my god, last year was a DISASTER! As usual, I'd cleaned and cooked and baked FOR DAYS, everything was beautiful and delicious. We were actually having a nice time - us adults, in the dining room - while the kids were watching a DVD in the living room. Then all the sudden we hear this loud crashing sound."

"Uh oh..."

"So we go running into the living room and I can't believe my eyes. First off, my glass coffee table is off its base, like, across the room. Yes, the glass top is off of the base and its clear across the room. Then one of the parents notices red splatters on the sofa and carpet and starts freaking out: 'Oh my god, oh my god, who's bleeding?!?!'

"Jesus!"

"Well, it didn't take long to discover that the red splatters weren't blood, they were candle wax. There were half a dozen candles on the coffee table that had been burning for, like, 5 hours so they were all liquid. When the table went flying, so did those jars of hot wax. The parents were so relieved it was ONLY candle wax and not blood, they didn't even apologize. Do you know how hard it is to get red candle wax out of beige carpet and upholstery? By yourself, since the rest of the adults went back to the dining room to drink up the rest of my wine?"

"Did you ever find out why the table got knocked over?"

"Hmph. No. When I asked the little hellions about it as I tried to get the candle wax up, suddenly they all had amnesia... or laryngitis... or something. I'm telling you, it was a nightmare."

"You are too nice to those people."

"Yeah, well not anymore. I'm just tired of it, ya know? I'm tired of doing everything - putting all that effort into everything - for what? So I can feed a bunch of people and have my house torn apart? So this year I just told her, on the phone: 'Mom, I don't want to host Thanksgiving this year. I just don't want to do it.' There was this long silence, and finally she said: 'Okay, but what about Aunt Estelle?' 'What about her?' I said. 'Well, you know she's getting up there... she may not be... with us next Thanksgiving...'

"Daaaamn..."

"I know! I told you she was too much. But then it hit me: the answer. I had figured out the answer to how I could avoid hosting Thanksgiving without having to envision Mom and Aunt Estelle huddled around a bucket of fried chicken at my brother's, with the table set all wrong."

"Well???"

"A restaurant!!! We'll have Thanksgiving dinner at a restaurant! Everyone will pay their own way, the restaurant cleans up after everyone, and my house doesn't get trashed. I can't believe I didn't think of this years ago. Mom wasn't crazy about the idea at first, but I just kept coming up with all the positive reasons why it was the perfect thing to do. You know me, I can talk. And when I'm trying to save myself a lot of work and money by NOT hosting Thanksgiving, I could sell an icebox to an Eskimo. So she finally agreed to it and said she'd tell my brother... and Aunt Estelle... and all the rest of them. It'll be interesting to see how many actually show up, since it won't be FREE like the last 7 years!"

"You want another cocktail?"

"Sure."

Crush du Jour: Brandon Kent

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A chance encounter

Last Fri one of the guys Bryan brought a friend Dan with him to Fri Night Dinner with 'the usual suspects'. Dan lives about 2 hours from here but happened to be in town Fri night so he came along with Bryan.

During our dinner conversation Dan happened to mention that his business partner had been raised as a Jehovah's Witness. More for comedic value than anything else, I asked him "What's his name? Maybe I know him." Dan had no idea I was raised in the Jehovah's Witness religion, but he told me his business partner's name anyway (David H), and my eyes widened as big as saucers.

"Oh my god, I DO know him!" To be sure we weren't talking about different guys with the same name, I told Dan the city/state David's family moved to when we were kids, and then I remembered his parents' and sibling's names. Sure enough, it was the same guy!

David's parents and my parents were good friends and lived near one another when we were very young. My father officiated David's parents' wedding! David and I are the same age and were good friends too. Then when we were probably around 10 his family moved away, but they moved to a town not far from where my grandparents lived.

During the years when I was probably about 12-15 years old my parents would let me stay with my grandparents in the country for a couple weeks during summer break from school. I would help them with their garden and enjoy swimming at the 'Big Swimmin' Hole'. It was very rural and there were no other kids around, so one year my parents thought it might be nice if David H would stay with me at my grandparents' house for a few days. We had fun helping my grandparents, exploring in the woods, and swimming.

Since my grandparents' house was super tiny, it was decided that David and I would sleep in their old Shasta camper trailer in the back yard. (When you're that age the idea of sleeping in a camper seems a lot more fun that it does now.) I remember one night after David had fallen asleep, I slid my hand inside the waistband of his underwear ever-so-slowly and gently. It was so amazingly exhilarating when my fingertips reached his pubic hair. Dare I go any further? What if he wakes up? I slowly and carefully continued my exploration until I was sure my heavy breathing would wake him up, so I stopped. I don't think I slept at all that night.

I had no inclination at that time that David was gay. He was just a nice boy in the right place at the right time. Learning from Dan and Bryan that David was gay kind of surprised me. I couldn't remember the last time I'd seen him. But David remembered.

Dan texted David: "I'm having dinner w/Bryan and someone who thinks he knows you, Mark in DE". David texted back: "Of course I remember Mark. The last time I saw him was at his grandmother's funeral (1990). His dad married my parents!"

I was so glad to learn that David was doing well. When someone leaves or gets kicked out of the JWs and their family is strict about following the rules like mine, not only do you lose touch with your family, but you have no connection to anyone else who may leave or get kicked out after you. So although David had been 'out' and out of the JWs for years, I had no way of knowing.

Sometimes old JW friends have contacted me in the past by calling Directory Assistance, looking me up in the phone book, and more recently using internet sites designed to help locate people. But both David and I were still JWs the last time we saw each other, so I guess neither of us even thought to look up the other once we'd exited the religion.

I'm just blown away at how a chance meeting with Dan (Bryan's friend) at dinner has allowed me to reconnect with David after all these years. We're now friends on Facebook too, and I am hoping to set up a face-to-face soon so we can catch up.

Crush du Jour: Simon Howard

Monday, November 23, 2009

Fun and productive weekend highlights

Sometimes we spend our weekends having fun. Sometimes we spend our weekends doing productive things. But my favorite weekends are when we have fun AND do productive things. That was the kind of weekend we just had, and it was great!

I had a relaxing Sat morning drinking coffee and flipping back and forth between "
Sell This House" and "My Big Amazing Renovation" (shows Spouse would rather not watch) while he was at his personal trainer appointment. After I showered, fed and walked the dog, and ran the dishwasher, Spouse came home and we went to lunch before doing a little shopping. We bought an old, dark-stained oak chest of drawers from an antiques and collectibles shop for our bathroom.
This will give us easier access to all of Spouse's health and beauty products. Although I'm usually not a big fan of oak furniture, this piece is stained dark and really coordinates nicely with the wainscoting and vanity.

I changed the sheets on our bed and then put on the new king size duvet and bedskirt we bought last summer, right after the addition started. Its amethyst in color, with a bronze border, and looks really nice with the area rug in our room. Since I still loved the queen size comforter set we used to have on our old bed, we decided to swap out a lesser quality comforter set upstairs with the one from our bedroom, which included taking the mattresses off the beds to change out the bedskirts. Definitely a 2-person job. Next I put up some temporary (paper) shades in the bathroom and closet windows so Spouse would finally start using those areas. Despite the fact that no one is looking in our windows, and even if they were they wouldn't be able to see us from the street on the 2nd floor, he feels every window should have a covering. I am temporarily obliging him while the stain glasses panels are being made.

Next we went to the storage unit and finally brought Big Ella home to live in her new garage. We'd been planning to do this for 2 weekends, but were unable due to my being sick one weekend and the film festival and rain the following weekend. She fits beautifully in her safe and dry home, with plenty of extra room for storage.

Our friend and neighbor Jared went with us to a glass blowing exhibit at Deb Appleby's studio. Then we had cocktails and a great dinner at Rigby's. I had pumpkin risotto with wild mushrooms, Spouse had beef stroganoff, and Jared had pasta bolognese. It was a really enjoyable night.

Sun morning Spouse & I had breakfast, then did a little more shopping at Wal-Mart and our fabulous Dollar Store. On the way home we stopped at the stained glass studio to get an update on our window inserts. They'd ordered a specific glass color they needed and had been told it was on back-order. Then when the supplier was ready to ship it there was some problem with having it delivered. The long and the short of it is that it will be at least another month before the window inserts are ready.

Once home, Spouse & I sorted through all of his health and beauty products, which had been temporarily stored in laundry baskets when the addition project began. Some stuff went into the trash, while the keepers were placed in clear, rectangular, plastic containers (from the Dollar Store) and then into the drawers of the new chest. We propped a vintage etched glass mirror on top to see if we like it before mounting it over the chest. Then I placed clean towels and new rugs (from Wal-Mart) in the guest bath, in preparation for our Thanksgiving houseguests. I washed some dishes and wiped off the counters before going to Five Guys for burgers and fries. Spouse was in the mood for cheeseburgers and I was in the mood not to cook them or clean up afterward.

And while all of this was going on, our yard guy Ray powerwashed the exterior of the house, our bikes, and all the porch furniture from both porches. What a difference! Its unbelievable how dirty the exterior of the house got from the neighbor's construction last year, the street reconstruction earlier this year, and our addition. But it looks clean and beautiful now.

So that was our fun and productive weekend. What did YOU do?

Crush du Jour: Pascal Elbe

Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday fragments

Welcome to Friday fragments, my weekly recap of topics too big to forget, yet too small to be their own post.

Here's a great video I swiped from Sean's blog. Its clever and sexy at the same time, an irresistible combination in my opinion. Enjoy!

I have been rather vocal in real life and on this blog about people talking and texting while driving. Its dangerous and should be outlawed in every state. So you can imagine my joy when I received this cartoon in an email from a friend!
Brilliant, no?

I can always count on Bob and his blog to keep me up-to-date. Thanks to Bob, I learned that the writers and reporters laid off Mon from the Washington Blade have started a new GLBT newspaper called The Agenda. A limited edition is available at newsstands in the metro DC area today! Since the staff is currently working as volunteers, please consider assisting with the cost of printing, etc by 'buying a brick'. Our issues, told by our voices.

Another friend sent me this little ditty.

Spouse & I have no social plans this weekend (did I just hear an audible gasp?) so we are going to begin preparations for Thanksgiving. Only his mom and 1 brother and his wife are coming this year so it will be our smallest Thanksgiving ever. They're coming Thur morning and leaving sometime Fri. This is fine with me, as I am envisioning a quieter holiday followed by the weekend without overnight guests. This weekend we will get the house ready and buy all the Thanksgiving food.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Crush du Jour: Timothy Mandala

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Logical

I like to think of myself as calm, reasonable, and logical. I am not prone to emotional outbursts or hysterical knee-jerk reactions. But today I was close to the point of cheering when I read about 10-year old Will Phillips on Bob's blog.

It seems Will is a rather bright boy. Rather than mindlessly following the tradition of rotely standing and repeating the pledge of allegiance, Will actually thought about those words and decided he could not say them in good conscience.

Unfortunately his substitute teacher thought he was trying to be a bad ass by refusing to stand and repeat the pledge. After she badgered him about it for several days, Will had enough and had to tell her "With all due respect, you can jump off a bridge". This landed him in the principal's office.

Why, you may be wondering, was Will opposed to repeating the pledge of allegiance? Because the final phrase of it reads "...with liberty and justice for all". It seems Will and his family have gay and lesbian friends for whom liberty and justice only go so far. So to heighten awareness of his gay and lesbian friends' 2nd class status, he decided not to stand and repeat the pledge. For the full story, click here. To watch a video of Will and his dad interviewed on CNN, click here.

Imagine that: a bright, 10-year old boy who recognized the disconnect between the promises "for all" contained in the pledge of allegiance and the way GLBT people are actually treated in the US.

Wouldn't it be nice if our elected officials had the logic of this 10-year old boy?

Crush du Jour: Chace Utley

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Intellectual property

A strange thing happened this week. I was accused of infringing on someone's intellectual property rights.

What? Me???

A few months ago I wrote about a website that allows you to create custom t-shirts, mousepads, visors, and all kinds of gear. You can upload photos and/or you can type text to appear on your items. I created 2 different t-shirts for Spouse and me to wear to Big Ella's 1st vintage car show. Then I listed the items in the Marketplace so that others who like them could order them, too.

The shirts arrived, I loved them, Spouse & I wore them to the car show events, guys at the car show loved them, and all was right with the world. Until Mon.

On Mon I received the following email:
Thank you for your interest in Zazzle.com, and thank you for publishing products on Zazzle. Unfortunately, it appears that your product, Tail fins, contains content that is not suitable for printing at Zazzle.com. We will be removing this product from the Zazzle Marketplace shortly.

The details of the product being removed are listed below:
Product Title: Tail fins
Product Type: Shirt
Product ID: 235761238692587880
Result: Not Approved
Policy Violations: Design contains an image or text that infringes on intellectual property rights. We have been contacted by the intellectual property right holder and at their request we will be removing your product from Zazzle’s Marketplace due to intellectual property claims

We apologize for the inconvenience, a detailed description of the policies are located here. If you have any questions or concerns about the review of your product, please email us.

Regards,
Content Review Team
Zazzle.com, Inc.

The item in question is a black t-shirt with the words "got fins?" on it. I scratched my head for a moment and wondered how in the world someone could claim intellectual property rights on 2 common words found in any dictionary.

So I wrote to the Content Review Team:
I am puzzled by the email I received below, which claims that my t-shirt design's "image or text infringes on intellectual property rights". Does this mean that someone claims to have a copyright on the two words "got fins"? I find this hard to believe. Can you please tell me what a person or company has to provide to you to prove their claim to the intellectual property rights?

Sincerely,
Mark in DE

Today I got the following response to my email:
Thank you for your email. Please feel free to resubmit your designs as they seem to have been removed in error. We apologize for any inconvenience. Thank you for using Zazzle.com.


So, apparently there was some mix-up about my supposed infringing on someone's intellectual property rights. They encourage me to resubmit my design since it was removed in error, yet my design still appears on their website.

I'm still a little confused, but I'm not going to invest anymore time or energy on it. My design is still there for the fin-loving masses or order.

If I were smarter and actually capable of infringing on someone's intellectual property rights I probably wouldn't have thought it so strange. But since I'm not, I did.

Crush du Jour: Marlon DiGregori

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

GLBT newspapers


I was disappointed but not surprised to learn that the Washington Blade and several other GLBT newspapers owned by Window Media ceased operating yesterday. Some employees arrived at work Mon morning to find the locks had been changed.

There are likely several causes:
1. The economic downturn over the last year has resulted in many business closings and advertising budgets slashed. There are literally fewer professional advertisers than there used to be.
2. The general shift from newspapers to online news sources means there are fewer newspaper readers than before. This holds true for large mainstream papers like the Washington Post and New York Times. More and more people prefer obtaining their news online.
3. Internet dating/hook-up sites have all but replaced the use of personal ads in print newspapers. Those looking for love or just a booty call prefer the immediacy of placing an online ad versus waiting for a print ad to be published.
4. Mainstream newspapers now cover GLBT issues/interests more than ever before, rendering GLBT-specific papers less important.

While I understand and agree for the most part with items 1-3, I take issue with #4. It may be true that mainstream papers cover more GLBT issues than before, that doesn't mean they cover all of them or that they do a good, fair, or unbiased job of reporting on these issues. An online gay news source I visit published a story about a gay teen who was burned and decapitated. I could not find this story in the Washington Post or New York Times.

Its hard enough to combat apathy when people are informed, but I fear that without these GLBT-specific newspapers our community will be even less informed, and therefore less involved.

I vividly remember being in my late 20s when the internet was just starting to become available to household consumers. AOL was basically the only provider and they charged by the hour! (Yes, dear young ones, its true.) As I hungered for information about the gay community, I poured over each weekly edition of the Washington Blade. I depended on it to inform and educate me. I read articles about gay issues and concerns that were written by gay people.

Our issues; for us, by us.

I think Village Voice writer Michael Musto summed it up perfectly: “This was the gay community writing about itself, and that’s a voice we should never lose.”

Now, I realize that some of the 'our issues; for us, by us' can still be found in gay blogs. Bob and others do a great job of making us aware of issues that concern the GLBT community.

But it is important to remember that bloggers are not held to the same standards as professional reporters. Bloggers can and do write opinions that may or may not be factual. Reporters who work for newspapers and TV news shows have to be able to back up their stories with facts. Reputable news sources employ people called fact checkers to verify the details of the stories they run.

Although I'm sure they have no ill-intent, most bloggers have day jobs and do not have the time or resources to validate everything they write. Most don't create original news content; they repost news content found elsewhere. So where will the gay bloggers go to research or validate their info, now that 1/2 a dozen gay newspapers have folded?

My hope is that some of the talented and dedicated gay reporters who used to work for the Washington Blade, South FL Blade, Southern Voice, and Houston Voice will find a way to continue writing professional, factual articles online.

I believe we need to hear about GLBT issues from GLBT people.

What do you think? Do you think GLBT have become so integrated into general society that our issues are sufficiently covered by mainstream news sources?

Crush du Jour: Lambert Wilson


Monday, November 16, 2009

Film Festival: day 4


Here are the Festival's film synopsis, followed by my comments, for the films I saw yesterday.

Off and Running
Avery is a typical Brooklyn teen living in an atypical, United Nations-style melting pot. Her adoptive parents are white Jewish lesbians, her younger brother is Korean, her older brother is mixed-race, and she is black. Though her family is loving, she can’t quite quell her curiosity about her biological African-American roots. The decision to contact her birth mother sparks a complicated exploration of race and identity. As Avery’s self-awareness increases, the question of racial identity takes center-stage. The more she searches for answers about her biological family, the more emotionally charged and distant from her current family she becomes. She maintains her position on the school track team, but drops out of high school and eventually leaves home. Avery’s constant displacement—whether it was at her Jewish elementary school, or among black friends, or even at home—informs her difficult journey, objectively documented by director Nicole Opper. Most impressive is Opper’s poised camera, able to capture honest and articulate conversations between Avery and her incredibly attentive brother Rafi. Off and Running is a unique and very American coming-of-age story that delves into the psyche of race through a fresh and careful dissection of a family’s struggle.

I found this documentary to be very interesting yet heart-wrenching. With loving, supportive parents and a natural talent for track and field, Avery seems to have more advantages than most adopted kids, yet she becomes hopelessly sidetracked by her quest to find and get to know her birth mother. When Avery drops out of high school and gets pregnant it really made me wonder if kids should be allowed to pursue finding their birth parents prior to graduation. On a scale of 1-5 I gave this a 4.


Marcello Marcello
A heartwarming and whimsical romantic comedy, set on a fictional Italian island in 1956, follows the fortunes of young Marcello, the son of a fisherman, who pines for the affection of the lovely Elena. Two things stand in Marcello’s way, the first being that Elena is the mayor’s daughter. The second is more elaborate: according to island tradition, the father of an 18-year old girl ready to meet suitors can choose the suitor based on what is basically a bribe—the best gift to the father results in a date with the daughter. So, what does Marcello come up with? And what does Elena think of Marcello? Rabaglia brings a sunny attitude to a sunny story, set in an unbelievably gorgeous (and, yes, sunny) place. His steadily accumulating narrative builds to an effective and satisfying climax. A terrifically and innocently romantic story of young love, told against the backdrop of a pre-modernized world where the pursuit of love reigns supreme, Marcello Marcello is a winning and winsome film.

This was a beautifully filmed and delightful story. Although Marcello despises his village's tradition, he is unable to resist vying for the opportunity to be with Elena. But to ensure his gift to Elena's father is the best, clever Marcello must make deals with half the village's population! Funny and romantic, this film is a sure bet. On a scale of 1-5, I gave it a 4.5.

Hannah Free

Starring Sharon Gless (Queer as Folk, Cagney & Lacey) in a tremendous performance, Hannah Free tells the story of a decades-long love affair between Hannah, an adventurous, butch lesbian with gruff charm, and Rachel, a pristine, married homemaker with a religious upbringing. Set in a present day nursing home, Hannah is forbidden from seeing the Rachel, due to her not being “family.” Through a series of flashbacks and past incarnations that Hannah imagines in her old age, the viewer is treated to the passionate beginnings of their relationship, which was both tumultuous and enduring. Hannah manages to convey the introspection that comes with age, while still being spunky and sharp. Though Hannah is out and unashamed while Rachel is much more reserved, both characters are revealed to be courageous in entirely different ways. The film easily questions matters of same-sex partners’ rights, the definition of family, and the difficulties surrounding seeing your loved ones become old and fragile.

This was a complex and beautiful film that had me in tears at the end. While Hannah suffers from a lifelong case of wanderlust, Rachel can only be happy in the safety of home. This film shows that although two people love each, they sometimes love in different ways and need different kinds of love. While Rachel's last days are spent in a room just down the hall, Hannah is unable to be with her until and unlikely person assists her and allows her to say goodbye for the last time. Highly recommended! On a scale of 1-5 I give this a 6. What a fitting way to end my film festival experience!!

Crush du Jour: Johnathon Schaech



Sunday, November 15, 2009

Film Festival: day 3

Here are the Festival's film synopsis, followed by my comments, for the films I saw yesterday.

Prodigal Sons
Filmmaker Kimberly Reed dives headfirst into an unflinching portrait of her family that is absolutely engrossing and marks her coming-out, in more ways than one. Returning home to a small town in Montana for her high school reunion, Reed hopes for reconciliation with her long-estranged adopted brother. But along the way Prodigal Sons uncovers stunning revelations, including a blood relationship with Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth, intense sibling rivalries and unforeseeable twists of plot and gender. Reed’s rare access delicately reveals not only the family’s most private moments, but also an epic scope as the film travels from Montana to Croatia, from jail cell to football field, from deaths to births. Reed’s compassionate vérité style of filmmaking captures the lives of her family in such an organic way that their exceptional and challenging stories puncture the surface of our expectations. Questions of sexual orientation, identity, severe trauma and family love are effortlessly explored as the subjects freely open up their lives to the camera. Raw, emotional and provocative, Prodigal Sons offers a moving, illuminating examination of one family’s struggle to come to terms with its past and present.

This documentary was chock full of intricate family relationship issues, which I found to be very interesting but also heart-wrenching at times. Kim seems burdened not only with her own issues as a transgender woman, but with those of her adopted older brother, whose teenage head injury and emotional baggage has left him feeling like the consummate victim. Very real; very gripping. On a scale of 1-5 I gave this a 4.

Big Gay Musical
Paul & Eddie have just begun previews for the new Off-Broadway musical Adam & Steve: Just the Way God Made ‘Em. Their lives strangely mirror the characters they are playing; Paul is looking for the perfect man and Eddie is dealing with how his sexuality and faith can mix. After yet another disastrous dating experience, Paul has an epiphany. He is done dating & just wants to be a slut like the sexy chorus boys that share his dressing room. Eddie has to tell his parents that he’s gay and is starring in a show that calls the Bible the “Breeder’s Informational Book of Living Examples.” Eddie comes out to his family and Paul goes on the internet. Eddie’s parents are destroyed by the news and Paul can’t even have a good one-night stand. But after musical numbers with scantly-clad tap dancing angels, a retelling of Genesis, “teleevangelists”, a camp that attempts to turn gay kids straight and a bunch of show tunes, everyone realizes that life gets better once they accept who they really are: just the way God made ‘em!

This was a silly, fun film full of major eye candy and cleverly funny lyrics. Don't expect a complicated plot; just enjoy the scenery. On a scale of 1-5 I gave this a 3.5.

10% Shorts, consisting of:
A Day at the Beach
Boy Meets Boy
Clouded
The Island
Falling for Caroline
James
Make A Mate
Little BFFs
Evelyn Everyone
Second Guessing Grandma
For a short description of each 'short', consult the program guide. I was disappointed my most of the shorts. I really only liked 4 out of the 10. If I had been on the panel to select which shorts would be seen, I would have only voted to show Falling for Caroline, James, Evelyn Everyone, and Second Guessing Grandma.


Crush du Jour: Cristiano Ronaldo

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Film Festival: day 2

Here are the Festival's film synopsis, followed by my comments, for the films I saw yesterday.


Fruit Fly
Composer and co-star of the indie hit Colma: The Musical, H.P. Mendoza returns with his directorial debut, FruitFly, an hysterical new musical about finding yourself and finding your (chosen) family. Fruit Fly tells the story of Bethesda, a Filipina performance artist searching for her identity and struggling to establish her career. Upon arriving in San Francisco, Bethesda moves into an artist commune and quickly befriends the eclectic group of gay, lesbian, and straight housemates who have made a sort of rag-tag family there. In the musical tradition –and to hilarious effect - the characters reflect on their lives, speak their minds and open their hearts through the film’s 19 original songs all composed by Mendoza. Pop to its core, and more fun than you can shake a stick at, Fruit Fly is a fun, frolicking and sparkly (of course) musical love letter to San Francisco, or whatever place you call home.

With a synopsis like that, I expected to be blown away by this film, but I wasn't. I was cute and many of the lyrics were really funny, but this film felt like a car that just couldn't get out of 2nd gear. There was nice eye candy and of course San Francisco is gorgeous, but I had higher hopes than this film was able to deliver. On a scale of 1-5 I gave it a 3.


Edie and Thea
Through the lens of documentarians Susan Muska and Greta Olafsdottir comes the true tale of two stunning, smart, vivacious women, whose endearing love story unfolds amid the historical backdrop of the Stonewall riots in the 1960s and continues over 43 years, including the 40th anniversary of Stonewall, and the emergence of the Marriage Equality Movement. Engaged not only in their personal relationship, but in the larger social, civil and legal recognition of love, Edie Windsor and Thea Spyer share their journey of possibilities and of actualized dreams ... of hope and of change ... that will inspire and challenge all who view the film to look
within their own hearts and likewise raise their voices for equality. Through still images, interviews, and live action, the story of Edie and Thea, demonstrates the best of the human heart, and reminds each of us to embrace who we are and what we have and to make the most of it. The film is more than a story about two people; it is the story of life and commitment, of humanity and equality.


I found this documentary and its 2 'stars' to be charming. It is always interesting to hear about how gays and lesbians socialized and how couples met before Stonewall. Although different in many ways, these 2 ladies were a perfect match for each other and lived a lifetime of love. On a scale of 1-5 I give this a 4.


The Burning Plain
In his debut feature as director, Guillermo Arriaga builds on the multi-threaded approach to storytelling he brought to his previous scripts (Amores Perros, 21 Grams, Babel, and The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada) to create an engrossing, interconnected study of guilt and consequences across three generations. Shuttling back and forth through time and space, from oppressive, steel-gray Oregon skies to sweeping New Mexico terrain, the film allows its audience to judge each narrative strand as it emerges and develops, before quietly weaving the stories together. Three compelling performances carry the film forward, backward, and sideways. Charlize Theron,Kim Basinger, and teenager Jennifer Lawrence each command the emotional center of their respective worlds. All three are subtle and sophisticated in their characterization, but gradually their emotionalties become apparent. Far from being a formal exercise designed to elicit widespread head-scratching from the audience, The Burning Plain is an affecting and subtle examination of love, guilt, and family. Lush cinematography, along with standout performances, contribute to an already-accomplished writer’s powerful first feature.

I thought this film was brilliant. I love films which appear to contain unrelated storylines, only to eventually weave all the characters and stories together. I found the acting to be honest and superb. This is definitely a film to add to your Netflix queue. On a scale of 1-5 I would give this film a 6 if I could.


Out in the Silence
Out in the Silence captures the remarkable chain of events that unfold when the announcement of filmmaker Joe Wilson’s wedding to another man ignites a firestorm of controversy in his small PA hometown. Drawn back by a plea for help from the mother of a gay teen being tormented at school, Wilson’s journey dramatically illustrates the universal challenges of being an outsider in a conservative environment and the transformation that is possible when those who have long been constrained by a traditional code of silence summon the courage to break it.

This documentary was moderately interesting, only because of the way it was told. It seemed to be an all too familiar story: small-minded, religious bigotry thrives in rural towns. Although Wilson was able to make some inroads with a local clergyman and his wife, this seemed a drop in the bucket compared to highly-organized conservatives who make up the majority there. The film's teenage 'star' also seemed to need some coaching in being a trailblazer. On a scale of 1-5 I gave this film a 3.


Baby Love
This highly romantic comedy-drama explores one man’s insistent need to become a father and its toll on his relationships. French style and wit permeate this wonderful tale of gay parenting in which pediatrician Manu yearns for a child of his own, but his partner Philippe will have nothing to do with it, content in his child-free life. But despite Philippe’s objections, Manu attempts to adopt a child. In a country where same-sex civil unions are legal but gay marriage and adoption are not, the agency turns down Manu’s request to adopt. When Philippe finds out that Manu acted behind his back, they separate. Unconcerned about anything but finding a woman to act as a surrogate and provide him with a child, Manu seeks the attention
of Fina, an illegal Argentine, eventually marrying her for the benefit of each. As their life together begins to assume the domesticity of a traditional married couple, complications surrounding the prospect of having a child arise, causing Manu to rely on Philippe’s assistance.


I really enjoyed this film. The 2 male leads were very handsome and I love the sound of French. However, it struck me odd that when the couple separated there was no talk about 'love' or the length of time they'd been together. It seemed there should have been some conversation about how the one guy's need for a child was going to alter or end their relationship. Fortunately the writer successfully wove sufficient comedy into the drama to keep this film from becoming too heavy. On a scale of 1-5 I gave this film a 5.

Crush du Jour: Andrew Paterini

Friday, November 13, 2009

Film Festival: day 1

Here are the film synopsis from the Festival, followed by my comments, for the films I saw yesterday:

To Faro
Mel (Melanie) looks, dresses and acts like a boy, and people frequently take her for one, like the slightly younger Jenny, who falls in love with her. At the same time, Mel is faking a relationship with a colleague for her family’s sake. This tale of the obliquity (sexual and otherwise) of adolescence is a tender and beautiful film about youth, and the sadness, loneliness and confusion that go with it. Its heroine is an odd but charismatic character who has yet to fully resolve her sexuality and gender. The tender magic and the atmosphere of mystery and expectation so typical of the protagonist’s age make for a powerful cinematic experience reminiscent of the dilemma faced by the protagonists of Boy’s Don’t Cry but without the tragic and violent conclusion.

I felt a great deal of honesty in this film, despite the fact that Mel is not honest with Jenny until the end. The emotions and actions of the two young women seemed quite congruent with their ages and experiences. Mel was not a caricature or a girl in drag; she was portrayed realistically and sincerely. On a scale of 1-5, I give this film a solid 4.

Out of the Blue
Marion is an attractive middle-aged mother and wife who makes the bold move of leaving her unappreciative jerk of a husband and starting over in a search for the unknown element that was previously missing from her life. Independent but terrified, Marion’s world changes quickly when she encounters a beautiful dancer who makes her feel alive for the first time and a casual friendship starts to look much more serious, much to the dismay of not only the husband, but her daughter as well. Skillfully acted and beautifully filmed, Out of the Blue is an endearing inspiration to anyone looking to start over.

I love the sound of French, and this film was in French so it already had that going for it. But I really enjoyed the story, despite the fact that my own circumstances couldn't be more different than Marion's. Having been in a boring marriage for years, with no advance planning Marion decides to leave her husband when he forgets their 22nd wedding anniversary. She embarks on a balancing act of changing enough in her life to make herself happy while not changing so much that she alienates her teenage daughter. Marion's new life surprises even her when she feels herself falling for another woman. On a scale of 1-5, I give this film a 4.

Patrik, Age 1.5
After facing much discrimination in their quest to adopt a child, Swedish gay couple Goran and Sven finally appear to be cleared to take possession of an 18-month old boy named Patrik. However, due to a misplaced punctuation mark, the “1.5-year old” turns out to be 15 and a homophobe with a violent criminal record to boot. This sitcom-like plot point is transformed into an intelligent rumination on tolerance and gradual understanding. Initially, all involved are displeased about the situation, especially Sven, who has also had his share of youthful run-ins with the law and knows the violence Patrik is capable of unleashing. The couple eventually coax positive qualities out of Patrik that go deeper than the teen’s initial disgust about having to live with “homos.” With strong performances, Patrik, Age 1.5 is a sensitive, quietly funny, and surprisingly affecting take on the theme of a same-sex couples raising an adopted child.

I loved this film! The characters were sufficiently developed to allow you to understand them, care about them, and sympathize with them. I also appreciated that this film didn't stereotype the adopting fathers. Often the more masculine looking man is the smarter, reasonable, centered one while the less masculine looking man is flighty, flamboyant, and prone to becoming hysterical. The story was touching and funny at the same time. Do yourself a favor and add this film to your Netflix queue! On a scale of 1-5, I give this film a 6!!

And Then Came Lola
Time is running out, and Lola has only one chance to salvage a job and save her relationship with new girlfriend, Casey. Wait, make it three chances. With the fast-paced, colorful, fragmented style of the epic German film "Run Lola Run", this time-bending tale chronicles the tempestuous journey of a commitment phobic photographer, Lola. Typically immune to the lesbian ways of the U-Haul, Lola discovers that she might have finally found someone worth slowing down for. But not now. Now Lola is late. Lola has to run! Navigating San Francisco like a treacherous video game, Lola has mere minutes to tame the domineering meter maid, avoid the canine wielding park chick, grab the photos, sidestep the ex, and deliver the proofs to the bar where girlfriend Casey is meeting with a prospective client (and her ex), the euro-hottie Danielle. Thrust on a relationship crash course, Lola grows ever more determined to deliver, and claim her girlfriend from the potential rival. Lola sprints, bikes, hitches rides, and flirts her way through the streets and back rooms of San Francisco.

Since I enjoyed "Run Lola Run" I thought I'd really like this film. On paper it sounds great and I believe the concept is. Unfortunately this film just didn't deliver for me. I found Lola to be the kind of person I wouldn't be able to depend on because she's too selfish to commit herself, so I really didn't care if she succeeded in the film. I didn't hate it, but I thought it could have been done much better. On a scale of 1-5, I give it a 2.

Crush du Jour: Peter Onorati

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Film Festival: day 0.5

Last night (Wed) was the opening of the Rehoboth Beach Independent Film Festival. Here is the festival synopsis of the film I saw.

Kisses
On the fringes of Dublin two kids, Kylie and Dylan, live in a suburban housing estate devoid of life, color and the prospect of escape. Kylie lives with five other siblings and her overworked mother. Next door, Dylan lives in the shadow of an alcoholic father and the memory of an elder brother who ran away from home two years earlier. After a violent altercation with his father, Dylan runs away from home and Kylie decides to run away with him. Together they make their way to the magical night-time lights of inner city Dublin, to search for Dylan’s brother, and in the hope of finding, through him, the possibility of a new life. Lance Daly’s
vision of Dublin, as seen through the innocent eyes of our protagonists, is a kaleidoscope of magic, wonder and mystery. But as the night wears on, and Dublin takes on a darker character, the two kids have to rely on the kindness of strangers, the advice of Bob Dylan and their trust in each other to survive the night.


I enjoyed this film and found it more interesting than the synopsis above. The actor playing Dylan wasn't that great, but I believe the actress playing Kylie has an acting career ahead of her. Although the ending was predictable (the kids eventually return home) everything leading up to it was interesting, cleverly shot, and not predictable. On a Netflix scale of 1-5 I would give this film a 3.5.

Just in time for the film festival, our area is being hit by a veritable monsoon. Beginning yesterday morning we've had rain and driving winds without let up. Forecasts are calling for 50-60 mph gusts!

I typically enjoy being one of the 1st in line at 7:00 am Thurs morning to chat with other indie film enthusiasts while we wait for the box office to open at 8:00. (Being 1st in line guarantees I'll get tickets to my desired films before they sell out.) Today was a completely different story. Rather than standing in the monsoon-like weather for an hour, we early birds were given paper numbers and told to wait in our cars. When the box office opened we went inside and got in line by number. So there was no chit-chatting about films prior to the box office opening, and I missed it.

After securing tickets to all of my desired films (YES!) I went to Duncan Donuts for my traditional post-ticket-purchase coffee and donuts: 1 Boston cream and 1 chocolate glazed. (Yes, I get those same donuts each time. Hey, traditions can be fun!) Since Steven works near the theatre and Duncan Donuts I told him I'd be there a few minutes after 8:00 in case he wanted to meet me there. As I stood at the counter placing my order with Olef, the foreign exchange student, Steven snuck up behind me and poked me in the sides and yelled "Gotcha!" I nearly jumped out of my skin. We enjoyed a brief breakfast together before he scooted off to work and I went home to shower.

After my shower I tidied up the house a bit before the housekeeper arrived. Oh yeah, we found a good housekeeper and she and her crew came today. I left for today's first movie (details in tomorrow's post) shortly after they began, and returned home from the theatre just as they were leaving. The house looks GREAT and I was super-excited to finally have the entire house clean.

I'm going back to the theatre for 2 more films this afternoon/evening, then meeting up with Spouse, Steven & Thad, and The Bobs for group trivia afterward.

Crush du Jour: Armon Adibi

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Short work week

This is a short work week for me, not because of being off for Veterans day (since my company does not observe it), but because I have taken off Thurs & Fri to attend the Rehoboth Beach Independent Film Festival (RBIFF). I will post each day about the films I see so you can add the ones you like to your Netflix queue.

Since I will be posting about RBIFF films on Fri, I will not have my usual Friday fragments post then. Instead, I am including some Friday fragments items today.

I have to share this link a friend sent me a link to a site called Affectionate Men. Be sure to watch both of the slide shows. They're great! Big nod to Stephen.

Another friend sent me this:
along with the caption: "Ooops! Looks like the architect didn't consider the shadow this fence would make." This gave me a laugh.

Crush du Jour: Romain Duris

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I believe

I believe that...
  • a birth certificate shows that we were born, a death certificate shows that we died, but pictures show that we lived!
  • just because two people argue, it doesn't mean they don't love each other. And just because they don't argue, it doesn't mean they do.
  • we don't have to change friends if we understand that friends change.
  • no matter how good a friend is, they're going to hurt you every once in a while and you must forgive them for that.
  • true friendship continues to grow, even over the longest distance. Same goes for true love.
  • you can do something in an instant that will give you heartache for a lifetime.
  • it can take a long time to become the person we want to be.
  • you should always leave loved ones with loving words. You never know when it may be the last time you see them.
  • you can keep going long after you think you can't.
  • we are responsible for what we do, no matter how we feel.
  • either you control your attitude, or it controls you.
  • heroes are the people who do what has to be done when it needs to be done, regardless of the consequences.
  • money is a lousy way of keeping score.
  • sometimes the people you expect to kick you when you're down will be the ones to help you get back up.
  • when I'm angry I sometimes have the right to be angry, but that doesn't give me the right to be cruel.
  • maturity has more to do with what types of experiences you've had and what you've learned from them and less to do with how many birthdays you've celebrated.
  • it isn't always enough to be forgiven by others. Sometimes you have to learn to forgive yourself.
  • no matter how bad your heart is broken, the world doesn't stop for your grief.
  • our background and circumstances may have influenced who we are, but we are responsible for who we become.
  • two people can look at the exact same thing and see something totally different.
  • your life can be changed in a matter of hours by people who don't even know you.
  • even when you think you have no more to give, when a friend cries out to you, you will find the strength to help.
  • credentials on the wall do not make you a decent human being.
  • the happiest people don't necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything they have.
  • 'The will of God will never take you where the Grace of God will not protect you'

Author unknown - edited by me

Crush du Jour: Thomaz Oliviera

Monday, November 09, 2009

Weekend highlights

I was really looking forward to this weekend because it was the 1st weekend since the end of Aug that we were not out of town, hosting weekend house guests, or otherwise committed. Yes, finally a 'free' weekend after 10 weeks.

On Sat Spouse went for his personal trainer appointment and I caught up on emails and ordered my holiday return address labels. As I've mentioned before, I love to send holiday cards - I have a routine for writing/addressing them - so I like to use special holiday return address labels. Similar to last year, I ordered two types. I ordered this beachy Christmas one again, since I liked it so much last year.
Its just a subtle reminder to folks that it sometimes snows at the beach. I also ordered this snowflake design for 'holiday' cards going out to my non-Christian friends.
Its 'wintry' instead of 'Christmasy'.

After Spouse returned we ran a few errands, had lunch, and did a little shopping. Spouse took a nap while I spoke with Ray, our yard guy, about moving some plants in preparation for the pouring of the replacement driveway, then checked out an antique/collectibles store. I found a great storage piece that I believe will be perfect for our new bathroom. Then Spouse & I met up with our friends for dinner followed by 'movie night' at George & Steve's house.

I had several more things on my to-do list for Sun including breakfast with Steven & Thad, but my body had a different idea of how it was going to spend Sun. I awoke to find myself with a recurrence of vagus nerve overstimulation, which forced me to lie vertical the entire day and night due to the extreme dizziness and nausea. Fortunately I didn't vomit this time. Down the drain went my plans for a fun and productive day. I laid in bed until 11am, then relocated to the sofa to watch TV for the rest of the day/evening. Spouse brought me toast and crackers, which I could eat lying down. Today I'm feeling much better, but not quite 100% back to normal just yet.

On the positive side, I finally watched the DVD of "Doubt" from Netflix yesterday afternoon, which we've had since May.

Crush du Jour: Adoni Maropis

Friday, November 06, 2009

Friday fragments

Welcome to Friday fragments, my weekly recap of topics too big to forget, yet too small to be their own post.

Last Sun afternoon I moved my clothes and shoes into the new closet/dressing room. It was so exciting! Spouse decided not to move his yet, since we do not have any covering on the bathroom windows. As long as I've known him he's been convinced that legions of people are standing out on the street looking up and into the windows at him, despite the fact that we have no neighbors on the front of our house where the bathroom windows are located.

Mon morning I had my 1st shower in the new shower room, and it was delightful! Its so roomy and spacious I kinda felt like I was showering outdoors. It felt a little naughty, and I liked it!

In case you're still obsessing over the H1N1 or other flu strains, here's a funny video with a flu treatment endorsed by celebrities.

Tonight we'll have dinner with 'the usual suspects' and tomorrow night we'll re-join our movie group, whom we've missed for the last 2 months.

Hope everyone has a fab weekend!

Crush du Jour: Andre Bland

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Business trip

I had to make a trip to my company's headquarters in Richmond, VA this week.

I left Tues morning and returned Wed night. It takes about 4 1/2 hours by car each way, if you drive a little fast like I do. It would take even longer if I flew, since I am 2 hours drive to the nearest airport.

I used to hate spending time in the Richmond office. The old management's bad energy affected everyone and it was so unpleasant to be around all that negativity. But fortunately the old management was kicked out, and so was their bad energy. Its like visiting a different office now, and I don't mind it at all.

I checked into renting a car and found that it would be cheaper to do that than expensing the mileage to drive my own car. Go figure! The small car rental office didn't have the intermediate size car I'd reserved so they upgraded me to the luxury class, so I got a fully loaded 2009 Nissan Maxima that looked exactly like this:

It was nice.

I arrived at the office at 1:30 and worked until 4:00. Then I was in a meeting from 4:00-6:00, followed by a team-building happy hour and then dinner which lasted until 10:00. The next day I was in back-to-back meetings from 8:30-4:00, with hardly any time to check email. I left at 4:00 and got home at 8:30. I'd brought an extra 1/2 of a sandwich and a cookie that were left over from lunch, and ate them in the car on the way home so I wouldn't have to stop.

It was a productive trip and it was nice to see my colleagues again. Since all of us work remotely we only see each other in person once a year, usually.

Crush du Jour: Matt Kobler

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Maine approves of discrimination

I'm so upset by this I can hardly breath. This is why equal rights for GLBT people needs to be a federal issue, not a state referendum. History shows that the majority will usually fight to keep the minority from gaining power/equality. We need Congress to pass federal legislation providing ALL tax-paying citizen, straight and gay, with equal rights and protections.

Maine Voters Repeal Law Allowing Gay Marriage
By Abby Goodnough, NY Times

In a stinging setback for the national gay-rights movement, Maine voters narrowly decided to repeal the state’s new law allowing same-sex marriage.


With 87% of precincts reporting early this morning, 53% of voters had approved the repeal, ending an expensive and emotional fight that was closely watched around the country as a referendum on the national gay-marriage movement. Polls had suggested a much closer race.

With the repeal, Maine became the 31st state to reject same-sex marriage at the ballot box. Five other states - Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, New Hampshire and Vermont - have legalized same-sex marriage, but only through court rulings and legislative action.

The Maine vote was particularly discouraging for gay-rights groups because it took place in New England, the region that has been the most open to same-sex marriage, and because opponents of the repeal had far outspent backers. Gov. John Baldacci, a Democrat, had enthusiastically backed the state law allowing gay marriage, passed by the legislature in May but put on hold until the referendum took place.

The repeal came a year after California voters banned same-sex marriage with a constitutional amendment. Preliminary results showed strong opposition to the repeal in Portland, the state’s biggest city, but not enough to counter widespread support in more conservative regions to the north.

Throughout the bitter campaign, supporters of same sex marriage had stressed that gay couples deserve equal treatment under the law, banking on Maine’s reputation as a “live and let live” state. Opponents repeatedly warned voters that if gays were allowed to marry, it would be taught in the public schools, a tactic that proved effective in CA last year.

The Catholic Church was a leading supporter of the repeal campaign, even asking parishes to pass a second collection plate at Sunday mass to help the cause. The National Organization for Marriage also contributed heavily to the repeal campaign; it is under investigation by Maine’s ethics commission for possibly flouting state campaign finance laws by refusing to reveal its donors.

Crush du Jour: Juan Carlos Garcia