Cocktail Friday: Afternoon Lagoon

Posted on 16 Jan 2015 at 12:13pm

AfternoonI’m not a mixologist myself, but I know what I like, and recently, I’ve liked guava nectar. It’s sweet and unique … and I had no idea how to use it. So I decided to experiment.

Lots of missteps. Lots.

Then I decided I was over-complicating things — why not just get down to the basics? The Cape Cod — often dismissively referred to at bars as a “vodka-cran” — is a foundational drink that gets tweaked a lot. Add grapefruit juice, it’s a Sea Breeze; add pineapple juice, it’s a Bay Breeze; add o.j., it’s a Madras; add lime juice (and triple sec), and it’s a Cosmo. So what if I just added some guava?

In the spirit of Sex on the Beach, I give you the Afternoon Lagoon (I’m sure someone has made something similar, but this is my take).

2 parts Zodiac vodka

2 parts guava nectar

3 parts cranberry juice

Making it: Combine liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice; strain into a highball glass with ice.

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Rodeo Goat opens in Dallas on Market Center

Posted on 15 Jan 2015 at 2:08pm

IMG_6400IMG_6397There’s a Rodeo Goat in Tarrant County, but who has time to cross the Trinity for a good burger? Now we don’t have to. The Dallas locale of Rodeo Goat just opened across the street from Dallas Voice offices. Known for its burgers and cheesy fries, it’s not exactly raw-organic-vegan low-fat fare … which is fine with us.

We’ll have a more formal review soon, but until now, this is what it looks like outside the Rodeo Goat.

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WATCH: Hot gay dads in Nikon ad

Posted on 15 Jan 2015 at 1:03pm

gaydadsOK, first off: Who doesn’t wish they had dads as hot and attentive as they two men, Kordale and Kaleb? When their Instagram selfie went viral, though, some folks (anti-gay, anti-black, anti-brains) railed against them. But Nikon begged to differ, and now features the Atlanta couple in a new ad. Anyone who doubts that “gay parenting” is just “parenting” (the way, frankly, “same-sex marriage” is becoming simply “lifelong misery” … I kid, I kid) needs to watch this piece. Worst thing about it? They keep their damn shirts on!

 

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Oscar nomination reward Texans, and there’s even some gay stuff

Posted on 15 Jan 2015 at 9:50am
Boyhood Still7

‘Boyhood’

Two Texas filmmakers — Wes Anderson and Richard Linklater — continue their march to Oscar gold with the Academy Award nominations, which were announced this morning. In addition to their films (The Grand Budapest Hotel and Boyhood, pictured, respectively), Birdman and the gay-centric Imitation Game were among the major nominees.

Budapest tied Birdman with the top number of noms — nine each — including best picture and director. Boyhood managed the same, with six nominations.

Imitation Game, about the gay English mathematician Alan Turing, received eight nods, including one for Benedict Cumberbatch.

Foxcatcher managed five nominations, including one for Steve Carell playing creepy-gay billionaire John DuPont. Wash Westmoreland and Richard Glatzer, the gay couple who used to do porn films, saw Julianne Moore, the star of their film Still Alice, get a best actress nomination. Selma got only two nominations, for best picture and best song. That means Guardians of the Galaxy got more noms that MLK, Jr. Lesbian filmmaker Laura Poitras was shortlisted for her amazing documentary Citizenfour, about Edward Snowden and the NSA.

A full list is below:

PictureBirdman; Boyhood; The Grand Budapest Hotel; The Imitation Game; Selma; The Theory of Everything; American Sniper; Whiplash.

DirectorAlejandro G. Inarritu, Birdman; Richard Linklater, Boyhood; Wes Anderson, Budapest; Morten Tyldum, Imitation; Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher.

Actor: Michael Keaton, Birdman; Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything; Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game;  Steve Carell, Foxcatcher; Bradley Cooper, American Sniper.

ActressJulianne Moore, Still Alice; Reese Witherspoon, Wild; Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl; Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything; Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night.

Supporting actorJ.K. Simmons, Whiplash; Edward Norton, Birdman; Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher; Ethan Hawke, Boyhood; Robert Duvall, The Judge.

Supporting actressPatricia Arquette, Boyhood; Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game; Emma Stone, Birdman; Laura Dern, Wild; Meryl Streep, Into the Woods.

Original screenplay: Birdman; Boyhood; Grand Budapest; Nightcrawler; Foxcatcher.

Adaptation screenplay: Imitation GameWhiplash; Theory of Everything; American Sniper; Inherent Vice.

Cinematography: Birdman; Budapest; Unbroken; Mr. Turner; Ida.

Film editing: Boyhood; Imitation; American Sniper; Budapest; Whiplash.

Score: Imitation; Theory; Budapest; Interstellar; Mr. Turner.

Song: “Glory,” Selma; “Everything is Awesome,” The Lego Movie; “Grateful,” Beyond the Lights; “Lost Stars,” Begin Again; “I’m Not Gonna Miss You,” Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me.

Sound mixing: Birdman; Sniper; Interstellar; Whiplash; Unbroken.

Sound editingThe Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies; Sniper; Birdman; Interstellar; Unbroken.

Production design: Into the Woods; Budapest; Imitation; Interstellar; Mr. Turner.

Costume design: Grand Budapest; Into the Woods; Maleficent; Inherent Vice; Mr. Turner.

VFX: Guardians of the Galaxy; Interstellar; X-Men: Days of Future Past; Captain America: The Winter Soldier; Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

Makeup: Guardians; Foxcatcher; Budapest.

Documentary featureCitizenfour; Finding Vivien Meier; Last Days in Vietnam; Virunga; The Salt of the Earth.

Animated feature: Big Hero 6; The Boxtrolls; How to Train Your Dragon 2; Song of the Sea; The Tale of Princess Kayuga.

Foreign language filmTangerines; Ida; Leviathan; Timbuktu; Wild Tales.

Live action shortAya; Boogaloo and Graham; Parvaneh; The Phone Call; Butter Lamp.

Animated short: The Bigger Picture; The Dam Keeper; Feat; Me and My Moulton; A Single Life.

Documentary short: Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1; Joanna; The Reaper; Our Curse; White Earth.

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Preview: Oscar nominations are tomorrow, and here are my predictions

Posted on 14 Jan 2015 at 12:54pm
image-368

Birdman is a hotly fancied contender

The Golden Globes are barely cold (well, they are probably always cold) and it’s already time for the Oscar nominations, which will be announced tomorrow. There are always surprise snubs and inclusions, but if you’re up for an office pool, here’s my educated prediction for the major categories. Just don’t blame me if you lose $5.

Picture. The rules now permit from six to ten nominations, with nine being the usual figure, so here are a list of a dozen films that should make up the final list: Birdman; Boyhood; The Grand Budapest Hotel; The Imitation Game; Selma; The Theory of Everything; American Sniper; Gone Girl; Whiplash; Unbroken; Foxcatcher; Wild.

Director: Best director will surely be culled from the best picture finalists, so look for some of these directors match their films’ nominations. Alejandro G. Inarritu, Birdman; Richard Linklater, Boyhood; Wes Anderson, Budapest; Ava DuVernay, Selma; Damien Chazelle, Whiplash; Morten Tyldum, Imitation; James Marsh, Theory; David Fincher, Gone Girl; Clint Eastwood, American Sniper.

Actor: Once more, a strong year, led by these five (and a few spoilers): Michael Keaton, Birdman; Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything; Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game; Jake Gyllenhaal, Nightcrawler; David Oyelowo, Selma; plus Steve Carell, Foxcatcher; Bradley Cooper, American Sniper; Ralph Fiennes, Budapest.

Actress: Julianne Moore, Still Alice; Reese Witherspoon, Wild; Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl; Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything; Jennifer Aniston, Cake; plus Emily Blunt, Into the Woods; Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night; Amy Adams, Big Eyes.

Supporting Actor: A great category, led by: J.K. Simmons, Whiplash; Edward Norton, Birdman; Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher; Ethan Hawke, Boyhood; with the final spot a toss up for Tom Wilkinson, Selma; Raz Ahmed, Nightcrawler; Robert Duvall, The Judge; and Miyavi, Unbroken.

Supporting Actress: Not a very deep bench, but the likely nominees were all excellent: Patricia Arquette, Boyhood; Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game; Emma Stone, Birdman; Laura Dern, Wild; Meryl Streep, Into the Woods; Jessica Chastain, A Most Violent Year; and Rene Russo, Nightcrawler.

I’ll post the actual nominees here Thursday morning!

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Was Whitney Houston gay?

Posted on 14 Jan 2015 at 8:02am

Yolonda Ross

Editor’s note: This week, the Lifetime TV movie Whitney — directed very ably by Angela Bassett — makes its debut. For a TV biopic, it’s pretty good, though many fans will be disappointed that it doesn’t delve into her life much before or after she met Bobby Brown (it’s really a love story). But Deborah Cox, who dubs the singing of Whitney, does great with the numbers and it’s a lot of fun to watch.

But some folks may wonder what, exactly, was left out, which is what freelancer Mark Dawson asked about when he interviewed Yolonda Ross, who plays Whitney’s (rumored) lesbian lover in the movie.

There’s one thing Yolonda Ross — the actress who plays the role of Whitney Houston’s (rumored) lesbian lover in the upcoming Lifetime movie, which premieres Saturday — knows for sure about Whitney and her gal pal, Robyn: “They were two people that deeply loved, cared for and respected one another,” she says. “Theirs could have been more than a friendship and if so, it’s really unfortunate if others got in the way of it or compromised it.”

Directed by Academy Award nominee Angela Bassett, Whitney Houston will focus on the singer’s rise to stardom and her stormy relationship with Bobby Brown.

To prepare for the role, Ross feverishly studied Houston and her longtime assistant, Robyn Crawford. According to reports, the two met at 16 during a summer job in East Orange, N.J., and allegedly soon began a romantic relationship. They purportedly broke up when Houston married Brown in 1992.

“Robyn seems to be a straight-up, very grounded person,” Ross says, “somebody who, no matter what the situation, has got your back or is gonna set you straight. She offered security to Whitney and uncompromised companionship.”

The film is the first-ever produced about the life and death of Whitney Houston. Ross predicts it will be a piece of history. “Like The Jackson’s movie, The Temptations and The Five Heartbeats: three movies every black person in America has seen at least once in their life. This will be one of those, but reach an even wider audience due to today’s global media.”

Ross made her feature film debut in 2001’s Stranger Inside. The film earned the actress her first Film Independent Spirit Award nomination, along with the IFP Gotham Award for breakthrough performance.

whs_062614_jz_0366

Ya Ya DaCosta and Arlen Escarpeta as Whitney and Bobby

She went on to appear in Denzel Washington’s Antwone Fisher, Woody Allen’s Whatever Works, David Mamet’s Phil Spector, HBO’s Treme and the independent film, Yelling To The Sky. In 2014, she starred in John Sayles Go For Sisters, a film that has done what no other has — featured two black women leading a buddy film. This role earned the Omaha native her second Spirit Award nomination (for supporting actress). She has several films slated for 2015 including the indie drama Meadowland with Olivia Wilde and Lila and Eve starring Jennifer Lopez and Viola Davis.

“I’ve always been creative,” she says. “I paint, write, sing and play instruments.” However, she never imagined she’d pursue a career in acting. “I have always been painfully shy. Getting in front of people and acting something out was nothing I ever thought I would do.”

That all changed when she moved to New York City and realized she would need extra money to get by.

“I was in school and friends convinced me to try commercials and music videos. The opportunity came to do extra work on Saturday Night Live. It got me my AFTRA card and an agent. I didn’t hear from the agency for a while, but out of the blue, they sent me on an audition for New York Undercover, and I booked it. Months later they called me for another audition. It was for Stranger Inside.”

That HBO film forever changed the course of the young actress’ life.

“I had never taken an acting course,” she says. “But I was blessed with a gift and I have always studied people, and used music to help me create. I just applied that knowledge to scripts.”

When taking on a role, Ross’ objective is to embody a character to its fullest. “I aim to be that person inside and out, from the way they smell to the way they think. I want to know their ticks and personal traits. I want the character to speak through me and to make the viewer feel something,” she explains.

It hasn’t been smooth sailing. Ross describes being a young black woman in Hollywood today as “swimming upstream against the current and sometimes having rocks thrown at you.”

There are multiple hurdles. “Where roles for white actresses are endless, we only get to play limited types of characters,” she says, “and many are side roles that are only given few lines in a movie.”

She also sites lack of support from the black community. “Unless you’re Halle, Angela, Kerry Washington, or Viola now, it’s easy to be overlooked by the community, but social networking does help. Some of us keep ourselves employed by creating our own interesting content, but it takes money, time and people to do all that and not all actors want to do everything.”

Fortunately for Ross, she does.

 

 

 

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‘Serial?’ Killer!

Posted on 13 Jan 2015 at 1:15pm

IMG_9003As this goes online, it’s 2:15 p.m. Eastern Time on Jan. 13, and unless something happens, you should be able to finish it in under 21 minutes. If those facts mean nothing to you, then you didn’t become addicted to Serial, the podcast spun off from Public Radio’s This American Life show. Serial began late last fall, and finished up its 12 episodes late last year, spending one episode each (from 28 to 55 minutes) dissecting a murder that, if you believe the jury system, started exactly 16 years ago this minute, and ended fewer than 21 minutes later with the death of a teenaged girl at the hands of her jilted boyfriend.

Only chances are, you don’t believe that.

Serial was an addictive experience, and after it ended, there were quite a few critics who cried foul. Why? Apparently, because they feel they wasted 8.5 hours of their lives listening to, and countless hours caring about, what happened to Adnan Syed. When he was 18, he was arrested for the murder by strangulation of his ex-girlfriend. There was no material evidence against him — no witnesses to the crime, no fingerprints, no DNA, and barely a motive — he was allegedly upset she dumped him, though no one said he was angry, violent or planned revenge.

No one, that is, except Jay.

Jay was the only real witness, a drug dealer who claimed Adnan called him at 2:36 p.m. on Jan. 13 and confessed to having just killed the girl, and solicited Jay’s help in disposing of the body. That was the first time Jay knew what had happened. Except that Jay told the police at another time that Adnan told him days before of his plan to kill the girl.

So which is it?

I found it strange, listening to this show, that folks would honestly expect producers of a podcast to retroactively solve a 16 year old crime, but that seemed to be one of the major reactions. Why didn’t you end the story for us?

To which I say: What the fuck?!

First, consider this: Serial is not journalism, and its host/reporter/producer Sarah Koenig not a journalist. Yes, she has a journalism background, but she is an entertainer. (I’ve head Ira Glass say as much.) I love This American Life, but it is not a show in a vacuum. It knows it tells compelling stories in a compelling way, and it’s structured precisely to do that. Are they “reporting”? Absolutely. But they are also perpetually commenting on their own feelings and reactions and misgivings and conflicts. And they do so in such a way to tell a juicy tale.

Second, Serial is not something else, either: A piece of fiction. They don’t get to make up the ending they want, or create theories to fit the facts just to satisfy some need in listeners. They tell the story as they find it.

Third, and something Koenig says repeatedly on the show, Serial‘s staff are not detectives. They aren’t employed to solve a crime, but to report on the aftermath of it. Again, for entertainment. And damned good entertainment at that.

That said, Koenig did infuriate me in the way only armchair liberals can. She clearly feels for Adnan, and thinks he got a raw deal (there was evidence that his attorney totally dropped the ball on an alibi witness, something that has actually led to Adnan getting a new hearing in front of an appeals court, which will take place tomorrow, Jan. 14. Talk about timing!). And she casts certain folks, like some of the jurors, in a harsh light for not following the law (they admitted to holding Adnan’s silence at his trial against him, even though that’s a constitutional no-no), and she wonders why the police didn’t follow up on leads, why his attorney didn’t hit home inconsistencies in the cell phone records, etc. And then Koenig turns around and does the same things they do.

She wonders, “If he is a sociopath, he’s a manipulator, and he’s manipulating me. Do I trust him?” She concludes the podcast — and this is what angered many devotees — by saying she would have voted to acquit were she a juror, even though she has doubts about whether he did it. And that’s one of the worst things she says, because implicit in her judgment is that some doubt matters. We convict people beyond all reasonable doubt, and personally, I have those. Everyone should. Adnan — who, of course, we never see, because it’s radio — maintains his innocence without inventing explanations. That makes sense to me: If he wasn’t there, what could he know about that happened? But ultimately, it’s just one more story of someone mishandled by the justice system (even if he really did do it).

To me, Serial was never a waste of time. As a lawyer myself, I was fascinated by the legal wrangling, especially the trial record, where Adnan’s attorney was, to me, a shrill, ineffective shrike. There was so much to learn about racism and inner city life. And it exposed a lot about the well-meaning elitists (like Koenig, or even myself) who judge others by their standards rather than those that make sense to their community.

I can’t wait to find out what happens at Adnan’s hearing. I hope he eventually gets real justice. And that would make a really good podcast.

Did you listen to Serial? What did you think?

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Simply coming not out is enough in sports now — but there’s still a long way to go

Posted on 13 Jan 2015 at 8:12am

kissingOn the heels of Michael Sam’s engagement announcement, we wonder: Is it still possible to make Big News in sports? Dan Woog thinks so, as he writes here.

Back in the day — “the day” being, say, 2012 — an athlete coming out as gay or lesbian was Big News. In 2014, you had to do something really outstanding to make headlines. You had to be a National Basketball Association player, like Jason Collins — and then you had to sign a contract with a big-city team like the Brooklyn Nets. And your #98 jersey (worn to commemorate the year Matthew Shepard was killed) had to become the bestselling sports shirt in the country. Not just for basketball, but any sport.

You had to be a college football player like Michael Sam. Not just any football player, mind you, but one who was a consensus All-American, and your league’s Defensive Player of the Year. Then you needed to endure the media circus known as the NFL draft. And when you were drafted, you had to kiss your boyfriend, as cameras clicked and whirred.

You had to be a Major League Soccer player like Robbie Rogers. And because MLS is off many sports fans’ radars, you had to do something like play in your league’s championship game. And help win it. (We’ll run an interview with Rogers next week.)

You must have done those things because, in 2014, it was not just enough to come out as an openly gay athlete. Dozens of men and women did it. They were college football and basketball players, swimmers, baseball players, volleyball players and shot putters. They were Olympic speed skaters, lugers, rowers and gymnasts.

They were non-competitors too, but working in the sports world nonetheless. Coaches declared their sexuality publicly. So did pro teams’ front-office executives, and college teams’ sports information officials.

Major League Baseball umpire Dale Scott came out too. A year or two ago, that would have been Stop the Presses News. Now it was so unremarkable that — after he mentioned his partner in a Referee magazine article — it went unnoticed by everyone for a couple of months.

This long-awaited-but-still-unexpected state of affairs — an outpouring of openness across a broad swath of the sports universe — has created a gigantic ripple effect. Straight teammates have reacted with a range of emotions. Some give virtual high-fives, tweeting messages of support. College and pro teams have produced “You Can Play” videos, conveying the message that if you can dunk, dribble, pitch, row, run, dive, or do any other type of athletic activity, just go right ahead and do it — sexual orientation be damned.

Other teammates have reacted with who-cares shrugs. That’s appropriate too.

The ripple effect has reached down to high schools, and beyond. An entire generation of boys and girls are growing up knowing that they will have — may already have, in fact — LGBT teammates and coaches. It’s the same as realizing they’ll meet people of different colors and religions. Sports teaches many life lessons, and this is just one more.

The lesson is more profound for young LGBT athletes. They are joining the big, wide, only slightly dysfunctional sports world on their own terms, not even realizing that just a few years ago they would have faced formidable barriers to entry. This does not mean that thousands of gay boys and lesbians are suddenly signing up as out, proud Little Leaguers. Many of them have not yet figured out who they are. But they are playing their games in a rapidly changing environment. And as they concentrate more on batting and passing and shooting and whatever, they’ll spend less time on hiding.

Though, as with the rest of society, change comes more slowly in the transgender arena than others, the field is shifting for trans athletes too. But if a trans-inclusive vote earlier this month by Minnesota’s high school sports governing body is any indication — and why shouldn’t it be? — the “T” in LGBT sports is becoming more than just an afterthought.

So if in the year ahead you have to do something truly outstanding to make LGBT headlines in the sports world, what do you do?

Fortunately, there remain a few frontiers to conquer. You can be a professional sports franchise owner who hires the first openly gay head coach. You can be an ABC, CBS, NBC or ESPN TV announcer who announces, on air, that you are so proud of out athletes because you yourself are gay.

Or you can still be that elusive, still-unidentified-but-we-know-you’re-“out”-there man: a professional superstar, at the top of his game. You can be the guy to say — holding aloft the Super Bowl, World Series or NBA championship trophy — “I’m here. I’m queer. I’m going to Disney World.”

Even in 2015, that’s guaranteed to be Big News.

 

 

 

 

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BREAKING: Dallas Opera announces 2015-16 season

Posted on 12 Jan 2015 at 2:08pm

Jake Heggie

Keith Cerny, general director of the Dallas Opera, announced the upcoming season for the company (its 59th) at Hamon Hall inside the Winspear Opera House this afternoon.

Among the guests present were out composer Jake Heggie, pictured, who wrote the world premiere Moby-Dick for the DO, which closed the company’s inaugural season in the Arts District in 2009-10. As had been previously announced, Heggie has reteamed with librettist Terrence McNally to compose a new opera, Great Scott, which will launch the 2015-16 season on Oct. 30.

For the first time in the DO’s history, a Broadway musical — not an actual “opera” — will be on the slate: Oscar Hammerstein and Jerome Kern’s 1927s hit Show Boat. The show is best remember for the song “Old Man River,” which has often been a signature performance for powerful operatic baritones, including Paul Robeson and William Warfield, who performed it memorably in the MGM film adaptation in 1951. (See a video of Warfield’s rendition after the jump.) It will be performed April 15-May 1. It will close out the season.

Among the other productions slated for the new season: Puccini’s Tosca, Nov. 6-22; a second world premiere, Mark Adamo’s Becoming Santa Claus, Dec. 4-12; Manon by Jules Massenet, March 4-12.

The current season continues later this month with two one-act opera: La Wally and the new creation Everest, both set on mountaintops.

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BREAKING: Chef Matt McCallister to open second Dallas restaurant, Filament

Posted on 12 Jan 2015 at 1:29pm
Matt McCallister

Matt McCallister

Matt McCallister — the former protege of Stephan Pyles who gained national fame after opening his Design District restaurant FT33 — has finally announced his sophomore effort. Filament will open “in spring 2015,” according to a release, in the Deep Ellum neighborhood. Focusing on simple Southern ingredients — “items that I eat on my own time,” McCallister says — it will be approachable, but with surprises. We’re used to surprises from him, and this is a happy one.

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