Category Archives: Pop-Culture

A Mob of Angry Models

Ok.  So, it’s no secret.  I ♥ America’s Next Top Model.  Each week I can’t wait to see what shenanigans Tyra and the “models” at ANTM are going to get themselves into.  I don’t really know how anyone can take this show seriously…and I love it! Cycle 12 just began and I believe that this season is not going to disappoint.  I’m also extremely excited to see that the CW is already pushing Cycle 13.  Tyra, who has been quoted as saying that she created the show to “counter stereotypes about beauty” is switching things up once again.  Cycle 13 contestants can be no taller than 5’7″.  Cue the overly dramatic pause.  That’s right, tall fierce girls with attitude need not apply.

Possibly that’s exactly what caused the brouhaha at the New York City Top Model Cycle 13 auditions.  Evidently, there was a stampede after all the short pretty girls had spent the entire night waiting in line.  Several were arrested and a few were even injured.  Shit, Tyra knows how to start things off just right–girl knows how to put on a show.

I’m not sure what else to say about this.  I guess it cracks me up whenever I hear that quote about Tyra breaking down modeling stereotypes.  I mean, seriously, I would never expect to counter a bunch of catty, narcissistic, and just plain mean girls on a show about “models.”  To her credit, however, throughout the show’s history there have been contestants with Asperger’s Syndrome and epilepsy, a transgendered girl, plus-size models, burn victims, etc. etc.   My personal favorite is the self-proclaimed “street preacher” from this current season.  Definitely the best thing about Cycle 12 starting up is that I am guaranteed to have at least one thing a week that I absolutely must blog about.  Let the fierceness begin!

Here’s a little clip I found on YouTube that highlights some of the craziness from the that several cycles:

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Tyler’s Favorite Things

I cannot begin to tell you how sick I am of Oprah. I’m sorry, especially if you think she is the best thing to happen to humanity since Gandhi. This is not the first time you’ve heard this from me. But, it bears repeating. Surriously. I’m tired of her…retire already. I really should be honest, though. I’m fiercely jealous. I can only dream of having her influence on pop-culture. Hell, she has a god-like influence on culture in general. I’m screwed.

So, I’m just going to take an extremely pretentious approach to this situation. Listen up! I, too, have a list of favorite things. I won’t pretend that you’ll get excited about anything on my list. Frankly, that’s your problem. And, don’t expect to receive anything from me in the form of a gift. The only thing you are only going to receive from me is a link to Amazon or Wikipedia or wherever the fuck I decide. You can buy my favorite things yourself. So here they are in no particular order…Tyler’s Favorite Things:

**The Flip. Oprah also included this on her list. But let me be clear, I was first. I saw a review of it in the New York Times and bought one. She was way behind the curve on this one. Simply put, The Flip is a relatively inexpensive and easy-to-use video camera. It’s tiny and you can pull it out of your bag and start recording in seconds. There are only a few buttons on this very hip device. Don’t forget to also check out all of the very cool accessories.

**The iPhone 3G. Really, enough said. I absolutely love mine and wonder on a daily basis how I ever lived without it. I will admit that the 3G had a rough start. I can tell you from personal experience that the cell phone service and device’s bug issues have improved immensely over the last 6 months. It still may not be perfect and may not be for everyone, but I am in love. It’s cool and it’s got like 1,000 uses.

**Eva Cassidy. I am embarassed to say that I didn’t even know who Eva Cassidy was until I started to investigate David Archuleta (American Idol runner-up, Season 7). He performed a cover of “Imagine” that was very similar to Eva Cassidy’s version. I stumbled upon her and ended up buying every available recording. She is no longer alive, but left us some incredibly amazing music.

**Skagen watches. I accidently discovered these amazingly thin, yet sturdy, watches while I was looking for a new Fossil watch. They are made by a Danish company and are very sleek. I love my Skagen watch.

**Ketel One Dirty Martinis. mmmmmmmm. Do I really have to tell you why I love Ketel One Dirty Martinis?

**Twitter. If you don’t like it or don’t get it, this one is definitely not for you. Twitter is a social-media website in which you answer the question “What are you doing?” For those of you who have a Facebook page, Twitter’s function is similar to the status update feature. The uses of Twitter have broadened immensely over the last year, however. All kinds of businesses, websites, bloggers, etc. use it to share important updated information. The personal aspect is still there, but the site has grown beyond its initial “tell me what you’re up to” purpose. I actually use it to update my Facebook status as well as to keep current with numerous friends, blogs, and businesses that I follow.

You may not be rushing out to buy or sign up for my list of favorite things. But, I had fun thinking about the things I have discovered over the past year that really made me happy. Check them out.

The Final Days of RENT

I originally wrote this post at the end of May. The amazing and legendary Broadway musical RENT was scheduled to close June 1 and, due to good ticket sales, was thrown a life line until this weekend. It’s now time for RENT to close after 5,123 performances on Broadway since it opened on April 29, 1996. That makes it the 7th longest running show in Broadway history.

RENT is closing on Broadway on September 7, 2008. This may not seem that big of a deal to many of you, hardly even “blog-worthy.” But for me it is the end of one of the best musicals to ever perform on Broadway. You see, RENT was my first Broadway show. I saw it in November of 1997 and it’s the reason for my love of musical theater. My friend Cathy and I went and saw it at the Majestic Theater in Dallas, Texas. I was working several weekends a month at a church in Texas. I would drive an hour and a half to Tulsa, Oklahoma, from Joplin, Missouri, and then fly to Dallas for the weekend to work at a church where I was the worship leader. I’m not sure why a church would pay to have a college student come so far, but they did. The escape from Bible college and the sense of being a jet-setter were amazing. The church was hoping I would come there full-time after graduation. In reality, the whole experience not only introduced me to my current employer, but it also gave me the flying bug.

Anyway, my point is that this was a transitional time for me. I was finishing up my six years at Ozark Christian College and dealing with all of the gay issues I’ve previously written about. At this point in my journey, I hadn’t come out of the closet. Going to see RENT was like giving me a peek into a world that I didn’t even know existed. A beautiful world of drag queens and queers (I mean that in a good way), a world where it was not only OK to be gay, but fabulously OK. It was a world in which people broke into song and dance for no apparent reason. This was my world. Stunned and, frankly, a little giddy, I sat on the edge of my seat for most of the performance.

I don’t know if Cathy ever knew that I loved it this much because as soon as we left the Majestic I had to get back into “Christian Music Pastor” mode. But, the seed had been planted. And that’s why this musical has been so important to me. It provided me with something I had been longing for–gay life–in all of it’s vibrant color and spectacular diversity. For several years RENT was the only ingredient in my musical theater diet. It was the appetizer, the main course, and the dessert.

I remember the following months in the Bible college dorm as other music students began to discover this musical. You could hear “Seasons of Love” floating out of their rooms. You could also hear the abrupt change in volume when the phrase “mucho masturbation” was supposed to be shouting from “La Vie Boheme.” Some songs really could never be played–at least through speakers. I suppose there is a very strange irony in a bunch of Bible college students drooling over a musical not just filled with sex, but sex with the same sex. And, don’t forget all of the colorful language and the topic of HIV/AIDS that permeates RENT.

But we couldn’t help ourselves. This was an amazing piece of work. I wanted to be Mark, one of the lead roles. And in some ways, I developed his sort of quirky, bohemian sense of style. All in all, I’ve seen RENT three times on stage. That hardly makes me a “RENT-head,” but I don’t think it diminishes my love for the show. When the movie came out, I paid to see it three times. When I bought the DVD and watched the accompanying Jonthan Larson documentary, I cried so hard that I thought I was going to hyperventilate. My love runs deep. So I’ll always hold a very special place in my heart for this musical that means so much to me. We have history.

goodbye, love, goodbye…

RENT links:

Original New York Times review of the show

A Photographer’s journal of RENT from the New York Times

RENT’s website siteforrent.com

Wikipedia’s RENT page

The original cast recording on Amazon.com

Flipping Out

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On the heels of my recent post concerning 30 days, I thought I’d visit the other side of the spectrum: Flipping Out. At its core, Flipping Out is a gratuitous offering of good old-fashioned OCD served up on an overflowing platter of stereotypical American pretentiousness. In other words, these people are cra-zy. It’s mostly Jeff Lewis who’s crazy, the primary subject of the show. Jeff Lewis is a real estate investor who “flips” houses–buys them, guts them, transforms them into “Jeff Lewis” homes and then resells them. I totally have a love/hate relationship with the show… and Jeff Lewis. The guy is flawed in a way that is endearing, hilarious and irritating.

No matter how awful the show tends to make me feel about the state of American society, I can’t take my eyes off of it. I’m completely addicted. Part of the addictiveness of the show can be attributed to the secondary cast of characters. Jenny, his assistant, is a witty and sarcastic woman–the type that everyone wants as a best friend. Zoila, his housekeeper, is a sweet woman who seems to be the only person who can put up with his OCD. They are both totally lovable.

Although the season just ended this past week, I started this post several weeks ago. I thought I’d still post this because Bravo replays its shows like 40 times a week. There’s a good chance you can still catch it. I realize that there’s also a good chance you have no desire to watch people behaving so badly. But, if you are anything like me, you won’t be able to help yourself. Just keep in mind that you might have to wash off afterward, and that you may briefly consider moving to Canada. Be warned.

Modeling with Pain

By now you probably know that I am completely obsessed with America’s Next Top Model, starring one Miss Tyra Banks. Love it. Seriously. And, if somehow you’ve missed this sensation that has swept across the nation, please do the world a favor and click on the link in my first sentence to visit the website. Or, watch just one episode. They constantly replay them on MTV. You’ll be a better person for it. And I promise that you won’t be let down.

I think people sometimes don’t get my sarcasm. You really should know that I enjoy ANTM mostly for its comedic value. In general, that’s why I love most of reality TV so much. The funniest stuff is the stuff that you just can’t make up. Like when a reality “star” says something that is beyond outrageous and impossible to take out of context.

For instance, not too long ago, Kimberly from The Real World: Hollywood used the words “blackville” and “ghetto” in the same sentence to describe another cast member she didn’t like. It was all very typical, spoiled, white, Texan girl behavior. I saw the clip on one of those reality recap shows on E. I haven’t actually watched “The Real World” for about the last 10 seasons. I remember watching it when the title wasn’t ironic. At least in this season the cast members are honest about their intentions–they’re all trying to “make it” in various parts of the show biz industry. Maybe it’s gone back to gettin’ real. I may just add it to my DVR list for next season. 😉

I love it when I read in a reality show cast member’s bio that they’ve “moved to LA and are trying to make it in the industry.” Really? What part of getting drunk and allowing cameras tape you while you pee in a corner qualifies you to be an actor? But, then again, “actors” are even taking the “reality” show plunge these days. So, who am I to try and define what it means to be an actor?

Oh, fiddlesticks. I got off topic again. Crap. I hate when that happens. I was supposed to be talking about Tyra Banks and ANTM. This is what happens when I drink too much coffee and just let my fingers do the talking while I am actually people watching. Some days I get a little unfocused. At least, I’m not at home trying to do this while the TV is on–that’s always a disaster. Ok, soTyra.

Part-way through this past season, Tyra had the “models” do a little exercise with her. She taught the girls how to come up with poses when they couldn’t think of what to do. Evidently, this happens a lot in the modeling world. She starts out by walking the catwalk with them, showing off her fancy moves. Then she fakes a sprained ankle and segues into what she calls “Modeling with Pain.” Oh, Tyra! Now, there’s a real actress. She had all those models fooled, and we all know how difficult that is. I would love to post the clip of this, but, I think you should look it up for yourself. You’ve got to see the wealth of ANTM clips that are on YouTube. Search: “modeling with pain” or just “ANTM.” You’ll be amazed by what appears.

I was watching the show with Jeff, and we both just knew that we had to do this. It was too rich to pass up. We started calling out different types of pain for the other to pose. It was a pose-off. Jeff took it a step further and decided that we should have a few of our friends over and make a “game night” out of it. I’m proud to present the condensed version of the video we created from that night. This is what happens when you combine 5 gay men, a modeling “game”, a video camera, and several cosmos. We had so much fun doing this. I admit that I got a little bit bossy with my “modeling directions.” I blame it on the drinks…

30 days

One of my favorite shows on TV is Morgan Spurlock’s 30 Days. It’s just one of a few “serious” shows that I’m watching this summer. My TV diet right now is heavy on ridiculous reality shows, which I do enjoy. It’s nice to balance the fluff, however, with some substance. 30 Days does that for me.

The basic premise of the show is to take someone and place them in a particular environment that is unfamiliar to them for 30 days. Some of the episodes just involve Morgan working in a coal mine for 30 days or Morgan living in a prison for 30 days, that type of thing. The really good ones place people outside their comfort zones. For instance, they had a Mormon mother move in with two gay dads who had adopted several children. Another one of my favorites involved Morgan and his wife moving to a different city and having to live on minimum wage for 30 days.

One of the most powerful episodes I watched was about animal rights. They had a guy from North Carolina who was a hunter move in with a family of vegans who worked with PETA. He had to work in an animal rehabilitation center, spend time with the PETA family, and actually participate in several PETA events. I don’t necessarily agree with everything that PETA supports or the way that they tend to protest. But, I do have to admit that the useless mistreatment and killing of animals needs to stop. It was amazing to see the hunter open himself up to another way of thinking.

I guess the thing I most like about the show is that it follows people while they explore different ways of life beyond their own. Not all of the people on the show make changes or expand their worldviews. For instance, the gay dads and the Mormon mama’s parting of ways was barely cordial. They spent most of their month in disagreement. It was extremely uncomfortable. I may be biased, but Mormon Mama just looked like an idiot. The gay dads always could defend why they believed what they believed. Mrs. Mormon’s best defense for her beliefs about gays was “this is the core of what I believe. And, I’ve always believed it. I just know that it’s true. I can feel it.” Not exactly a foolproof argument.

If you’re going to go on a show that places you right in the middle of something that you disagree with, you probably should be able to at least defend your beliefs. She just kept on complaining that everyone was ganging up on her. Someone seriously needed to remind her that she chose to go into a home with two gay dads. And if you’re gonna tell them to their face (in their own home) that they are going to hell and leading their children down that same path, you’d better have a stronger argument than “this is just what I feel to be true.” I can respect someone who has different beliefs if they can at least give a good reason why they believe it. Or, at least have the guts to say “I don’t know, but I’m trying to figure it out.”

Oh crap. Damn. There I go a-preachin’ again. The show makes me think and gets me riled up at the same time. Well, this has become a longer post than I’d originally intended. I just wanted to share my thoughts about 30 days. Check it out, the first season is already on DVD.

Starbucks closing 600 stores…

I guess I should stop apologizing for admitting to thinking certain things. That’s kind of the point of my blog, right? I’m neurotic. Who isn’t, though? I think sometimes that people try too hard to appear like they aren’t neurotic. I say, embrace your neuroses!

OK. So, now that I have the formalities out of the way, I’d like to go on the record and state that I actually downloaded the PDF file of the list of 600 Starbucks stores that are closing. Not only did I download it, but I also went through the list to see which ones would affect me. I was relieved to see that only 2 were in San Francisco and both were downtown. Only 1 have I ever visited. I had my moment of mourning, observed a moment of silence, and am now trying to move forward in these difficult and trying times. I would like to thank you in advance for your condolences.

I couldn’t help but feel sad as I looked through the list and noticed that the good people of Hickville, NY, would be losing their beloved Broadway Mall Starbucks. They will now have to get their Starbucks’ coffee from the store that probably sits in the parking lot of the Broadway Mall. Or, possibly the one that is on the way to the Broadway Mall. These are trying times indeed.

It’s not that I love Starbucks. I actually prefer to get my coffee from H Cafe, which sits approximately 20 yards from my front doorstep. It’s a privately owned and operated coffee house/café with a lot of character(s), depending on how you look at it. But I travel for a living, and Starbucks at least provides me with a consistent cup of coffee while I’m on the road.

My home flight attendant base is at the Oakland International Airport. Up until about a year ago, there wasn’t even a Seattle’s Best or a Peet’s Coffee. Now out of nowhere, there are 4 Starbucks! 2 are open and 2 are soon to be open. This might not be a lot for say, LAX or Chicago O’Hare, but Oakland only has approximately 30 gates. Not that I’m complaining, it’s nice not to have to walk more than 50 yards to get to the closest Starbucks. And business seems to be pretty good for my OAK Starbucks, too. The other day the closest one to me had a line of about 30 people.

It’s nice to see that when God closes one Starbucks’ doors, He opens another.

p.s.- I kept the list…so if you are curious to see if one of your Starbucks is closing, just ask… 😉