Happy Birthday, Saul Bass

Today’s Google Doodle is a tribute to Saul Bass – and it’s a pretty good doodle!

But check out Mr. Bass’ stunning opening sequence from North by Northwest. It’s really quite amazing and as fresh and exhilarating today as it was over 50 years ago when the film was released. And let’s not forget that Mr. Bass’ work was truly revolutionary. Per the Wikipedia:

Before the advent of Bass’s title sequences in the 1950s, titles were generally static, separate from the movie, and it was common for them to be projected onto the cinema curtains, the curtains only being raised right before the first scene of the movie.

8 Seconds of Cinematic Perfection

So good. The dismissive nail filing, the deadpan facial expression, the weary surveillance of the room, the sigh and finally – the line.

Also, I aspire to do exactly this upon my arrival anywhere – including my own apartment.

More Like the Seventh or Eighth Element

Leeloo Dallas, multi-MULTI-pass. Also, if you’re going to wear an after-five get-up, you need to wear some after-five shoes… For shame.


from FAIL blog

“Well… I have no notes.”

I’m not much of an Entertainment Weekly reader, what with being an insufferable snob and having a higher-than-9th-grade reading level and all. But this cover made my mouth go dry with delight.


And here’s some good stuff from the article in EW:

As for their sex scenes together (and trust us, the movie has plenty), Damon and Douglas both say that shooting a moment of passion is always awkward, no matter who’s involved. “The scene where I’m behind him and going at him, we did that in one take,” recalls Damon, laughing. “We do it. Cut. There’s a long pause. And then you just hear Steven go, ‘Well… I have no notes.’”

I am soooo going to use that line…

Also, who has HBO? And what time should I come by?

from Towleroad

How to Survive a Plague

Fascinating. Inspiring. Heartbreaking. Amazing. And, for me personally, a searing tribute to the men and women who are quite literally responsible for my being alive today. (And, just to digress a bit, yes, I am distinctly aware that these men and women are generally white and middle- or upper-middle-class. Am I complaining? N0 – but it’s quite difficult not to notice, particularly given that, today, new HIV infections in the U.S. disproportionately affect African-Americans and Latinos. Oh, and as long as I’m digressing, my title for this post originally had a typo and was Hot to Survive a Plague – which is kinda funny enough to have left as-is, but then kinda not so much. Is there a limit to how long a parenthetical phrase can be? I’m sure there is and I’ve violated said limit long ago. Ah, shit – I suck at writing. OK, not really. Well, I mean I do, but I just refer to it as my “style.” Also, I am not so hot. But enough about me…) This film is available on Netflix streaming. Watch it now. It is excellent.


I suppose I’ve established a level of comfort with being HIV+… Certainly, anytime I meet a fellow with with whom I may be physically intimate, I let him know that I’m poz (that is, I’m neither “clean” nor “disease-free” – such charming terminology we gays have! Ugh). This is not particularly burdensome, given the paucity of my intimate encounters (not attempting to elicit sympathy – just sayin’…). And I’m OK with discussing it in a general sense, though I’m not exactly shouting it from the rooftops. This is due more to my discomfort with sharing genuinely personal components of my life than it is with HIV itself. Or so I tell myself.

The fact is, having HIV remains somehow different than being diabetic or having cancer or multiple sclerosis or just about any other disease. While I certainly don’t want to become some bore, constantly talking about my medical condition, I think my reticence in talking about it on the regular serves to reinforce my own internalized view that I am indeed somehow a lesser person because I am HIV+. As much as I hate to admit it, I do regard my status as a negative (no pun intended) thing – and this is certainly (and depressingly) reinforced by many in the gay “community” here in SF. By this I mean that my being upfront and very candid about my status is, for many (I would even venture “most”) single gay men I meet, a dealbreaker – despite shared interests, mutual attraction or any of the other number of things that might lead to a date or a series of dates or even an ongoing relationship. My HIV status defines me above all else – and not favorably.

So, will my writing about this in a decidedly public (though not especially widely-read) forum help me get more comfortable with this component of myself? I have no idea – but I suppose it’s my own small way of recognizing that “Silence = Death” has a meaning that is both literal and figurative.

And don’t get me wrong. I am extraordinarily aware of how lucky I am to be not just alive but healthy and with my medical conditional extremely well-managed. I live in SF, where I have access to some of the best HIV care on the planet; the side-effects from my meds are tolerable; I have health insurance; I have a supportive family and friends; I have a reasonably secure job and income; and I have the skills and perseverance necessary to navigate my medical care, treatment and insurance coverage. But, still – you know, what with dukkha and all – it can feel like a tough row to hoe.

Yes, Please

Teaser trailer for Star Trek: Into Darkness. While the clip is decidedly lacking in Zachary-Quinto-as-Spock hotness, I do also like me some Chris Pine. I wonder if Kirk and Spock finally make out in this one…

Also, Benedict Cumberbatch – Benedict Cumberbatch! Yes, I believe I will see the hell out of this movie.

House of Cards

First of all, if you haven’t already, watch the original BBC version of House of Cards (along with the two sequels), which follows the behind-the-scenes political scheming of deliciously amoral MP Francis Urqhart. It is marvelous (and available on Netflix streaming).

Secondly, here’s the just-released trailer for the American version, streaming on Netflix Feb 1, in one of their first serious forays into original programming. One never knows, but this preview leads me to believe it is going to be excellent. And, given the substantial structural differences between English and American politics (not to mention journalism), this remake will likely deliver plenty of twists and turns even for those of us already well-familiar the lead character’s career trajectory. Oh, and Kevin Spacey. Sure, sometimes he chews the scenery – but I think that may be exactly what we’ll want from this flick.

“Stow all carry-on Baggins in the overhead compartment.”

I feel like I need to offer an excuse for not posting in ages. I actually have something written about my trip home… and I still have all my notes about my meals in Amsterdam – I just haven’t sit down to write yet. It’s not like I’ve been busy or anything – unless by “busy,” one means “lying on the sofa watching old episodes of Law & Order: SVU while eating nothing but rice pudding and mashed potatoes because I just had a section of the ‘puffy and boggy’ spot on my palate sliced out of my head so it could be biopsied and it turned out that it’s totally not cancer or anything, I just have a weird palate, and also I’m sort of in post-vacation depression thinking about how much better my life would be if I could always be on vacation and were typing this post in Amsterdam or Paris rather than in boring old San Francisco.” But I digress…

Anyhow, I’m not a particular fan of the LOTR movies (or books for that matter) and I’m unlikely to be seeing The Hobbit. But this flight safety video that Air New Zealand just rolled out is pretty fucking great. Though the rugby one from a while back is quite good too.

This doesn’t bode well.

A typical Sunday evening, wine glass firmly in hand and watching Family Guy, when a commercial for the new Spiderman movie came on. It looks just completely blah – not even terrible, just so very, very meh. And, since any thought that isn’t expressed on Facebook doesn’t truly exist, I grabbed my phone to post a status update to the effect that I am not interested in seeing this film.

Apparently, though I am not the only one – the autopredict robot in my phone’s keyboard is also not keen to rush off to the multiplex this week. To wit:


Pray God You Can Cope

I fell in love with this song pretty much immediately upon acquiring The Sensual World lo those more than 20 years ago. Of course, it wasn’t until at least a decade later that I learned it had been featured in She’s Having a Baby, a John Hughes film I’d never seen. And I thought to myself, “Well, he is an effective filmmaker. Why wouldn’t he use such a beautiful song?” Imagine my surprise another ten years later when I learned that Kate Bush had actually written the song not only specifically for this movie, but for this particular scene which had already been filmed.

Anyway, it hardly matters. It’s a beautiful song. The clip from the movie is marvelous, as is Ms Bush’s music video. Happy Father’s Day to one and all.

And here’s a quite lovely cover…

Paper Prometheus Trailer

Despite the mostly mediocre reviews, I’m eager to see Prometheus when it opens this weekend. And this paper rendition of the preview is absolutely helping. I don’t know how they make that screamy music sound effect at the end, but it’s sending chills down my spine (in a good way).

And here’s the trailer it’s based on.


People should have the freedom to do what they like with other consenting adults – but do they have to go around flaunting it? No one wants to have to see this in public. Gross.

Caine’s Arcade

Are you like me? Do you hate people? Sure, we all do. But every now and again, I see something that penetrates my crusty and wizened exterior to my schmaltzy and gooey interior – and this short film certainly qualifies.

Seriously, though, this kid is amazing. And the college fund that the filmmaker set up for him already has nearly $75K in it. Though I suspect young Caine will go far, college fund or no.

from The Awl

Ten Years Later

I struggled mightily with September 11, 2011. In some ways, it’s an arbitrary date in an arbitrary calendar based on an arbitrary amount of time. Why should that one day make us mourn differently or more profoundly than any other day?

But, thanks to The Daily Show, I saw this – Remembering the Day We Forgot the Lessons of the Day We Had Always Sworn We’d Remember and was shown this:

This remains so monstrous, so horrifying, so very un-Christian (or perhaps so completely Christian…). But I’m able to look past it, thanks to my intellect and my inherent morality as a humanist.  I’m always fascinated as an atheist that so many Christians profess to know the deep inner thoughts of their omnipotent and very angry god. Frankly, it seems sacrilegious, but I suppose I’m not the best judge of that…

At any rate, I did watch a fascinating show on Nova this weekend, Engineering Ground Zero. There was so much about this show that absorbed me: the unique engineering feats required to construct 1 World Trade Center; the tension between safety and aestheticism; the question of what to do with this void in very heart of the city that is the heart of the United States; the design and creation of the September 11th Memorial, which is both amazingly lovely and appropriate.

But what struck me more than anything – and made me in some ways pine for those days ten years ago of unity not just among Americans but among humanity – was the reverence with which all of the workers reconstructing Lower Manhattan regarded their jobs. None of them were maudlin or weepy or sentimental – but each of them viewed their role in the reconstruction, whether small or large, as something unique, deserving of respect and deeply important to them as individuals, as Americans and as people.

Immediately after watching this show, I wanted to post something. But it remains difficult (perhaps even impossible) for me to describe my very mixed emotions about that day and the ensuing ten years.

And then just tonight, again thanks to PBS, I saw this. And I thought it was one of the most beautiful and most heartbreaking and amazingly personal recollections of September 11, 2001. It tells a story better than I ever could.

Watch more from The Rauch Brothers. Not easy viewing, but really great work telling the stories of that terrible day in a way that is touching and genuine.

C’mon Along!

If there is one second in this performance that is not sublime, I have yet to see  it. I mean, really – Ethel Merman! Donald O’Connor! Dan Dailey! Johnnie Ray! MITZI GAYNOR! Obviously as a francophile, I have a bit of weakness for Miss Gaynor’s performance – and the high-kicking in heels just amazes me. Every time I watch this, I can’t believe it actually exists because it is perfect. And that’s not even mentioning the fact that this quintessentially American song was composed by Irving Berlin, a Russian Jewish immigrant. USA! USA!

R.I.P. Elizabeth Taylor

Despite a lifelong history of various health problems and medical issues, there was something seemingly indestructible about Miss Taylor. The news of her death this morning was really shocking.

Her beauty, which was almost other-worldly in its perfection, along with a personal life that can modestly be described as tempestuous, often overshadowed the fact that she was a supremely talented actress.

But in this really excellent obituary in the NYTimes, there is one short sentence that reminds us of one her greatest legacies:

She helped raise more than $100 million to fight AIDS.

In the early 1980s, when little was known about the disease and few outside of the gay community were willing to even discuss it, she became the public face of the search for a cure and a co-founder of AMFAR.

Elizabeth Taylor – a true star, whose like we shan’t see again. The loss is ours.