HGG 2011 Gift-A-Day: Last minute gifts and stocking stuffer roundup

COUNTING IT DOWN

Whether you need to give to the coworkers, neighbors or just add to the gift stock pile by stuffing the stocking, these might help out on your decision making.

SPIRITS WE HAVE HEARD ON HIGH

Moon Mountain vodka makes this holiday season more “green” that is certified organic by the USDA. Made in America, the artisanally crafted vodka is made from Midwestern corn, but in small batches creating the right taste to make it the perfect spirit to toast the season. The vodka is priced at $19.99.

Available at major spirits retailers.

FORGET SANTA

These Biscoff cookies are a surprisingly addictive treat, that it may be hard to give away. The crispy biscuits with the caramel flavor are ideal with coffee or even on their own. And a welcome alternative to usual holiday sweets with their light touch. Made from Belgium, these treats are vegan and contain 0 grams trans fat and 0 cholesterol per serving. So your recipients will be quite happy about these. Coming in a variety of counts and packages, these Biscoff Cafe Totes house eight packages of two. So you can get one for yourself and then try to give the other one away. You could leave them out for Santa but try not to eat them before he does. Ten percent of the purchases of this item go toward Teach for America. A set of three is priced at $16.95.

Available through Biscoff.com.

MAY THE FORCE BE WITH YOU

For the Star Wars gamer geek — er, loved ones — comes this quirky stylus set. Made for Nintendo DS products, Star Wars fans can have their very own Clone Wars with these character-designed stylus lightsabers.  The stylus can be used for DS Lite, XL and 3DS and is for ages six and up. Priced at $9.99.

Available at Best Buy, Walmart, Target and other major video game retailers.

 

GAY FILM FEST

Breaking Glass Pictures has made gift giving for your LGBT movie fan rather enticing. The company that distributed the locally-made Ticked Off Trannies with Knives is offering a 30 percent off purchases made during the holiday season. Stack up on indie gay movie faves like Violet Tendencies, The Big Gay Musical and the 30th anniversary edition of the gay classic Taxi Zum Klo. Head to the site withthe promotion code “holiday” and snag a bargain on the films. Hey, you might even get one for yourself.

Available at BreakingGlassPictures.com.

 

 

 

BRUSH AWAY

Expect an eye roll if you give kids a toothbrush, but once they start handling his Arm & Ammer Spinbrush Proclean, they might get more on board. The battery-operated brush is a simple, but effective way to keep those pearly whites, um, white, with the appeal of being a whirring gadget. Don’t talk about how better it is than a manual toothbrush and dental health. Yawn for days. Hype up the dual action technology, the durable body style and what a grown-up “toy” it is. Because, of course, adults can use it to. Retails between $8–9.

Available at retailers nationwide.

 

—  Rich Lopez

Sign of the times: coffee karma

Spotted at the Starbucks at Montrose and Hawthorn:


“The man with the good karma who drove home to get a coat hanger after I locked myself out my car thank you – there is something in this for you!

—  admin

‘Hairspray’ at Casa Manana tonight

What ozone layer?

Whether you’ve seen it onstage or at the movies (or both!), Hairspray is whole lot of delightful fun. Mixing social messages with drag characters is one thing, but to brighten it up with fun-loving tunes that feel like they popped right out of old-time radio is what makes the story work so well. Come on. How many times have we wished we could wake up singing “Good Morning, Baltimore” and feel that good about the day? Anybody? Just us?

Check out our piece on actor David Coffee who plays Edna Turnblad.

—  Rich Lopez

‘Let the Blue Serve You’

Dallas Police Department traffic officers, Texas Department of Public Safety troopers and agents with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission will all be on hand at the Starbucks at 6123 Greenville Ave., from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Friday, March 11 to participate in an even called “Cops & Coffee: Let the Blue Serve You.”

The event is sponsored by the Dallas Police Department and Starbucks Coffee, in preparation for Spring Break, and will give those who attend the chance to the officers, troopers and agents about “traffic laws, alcohol laws and driving on tollways,” according to the flyer e-mailed to us by the DPD’s Public Information Office.

—  admin

MA: Holy Grounds Coffee House manager resigns; failed to register as a convicted sex offender

Anti-gay pastor Scott Lively was drawing young truants to his Springfield, MA coffeehouse, promising to bring his brand of homophobic spirituality to the town. One problem with pious, hateful “Christians” like Lively is the oh-too-hilarious ignorance/foolishness regarding background checks for employees, thinking anyone professing to be a believer is, ahem, honest and trustworthy. BZZZZT FAIL. On an epic scale.

Michael J. Frediani, 38, “has resigned from his volunteer position as a manager of the coffee house and we have accepted his resignation,” said Scott Lively, who is pastor of Redemption Gate Mission Society which owns and operates the coffee house. The site also serves as a church with worship services and Bible study, and visitors to the coffee house, since opening in October, have included students from the nearby High School of Commerce.

Frediani was convicted in 1996 of sexually abusing an 11-year-old girl in New York state, and served more than two years in prison. He is listed as a Level 3 (high risk) sexual offender in that state and as a Level 2 (moderate risk) offender in Massachusetts.

Frediani had identified himself as Michael Free and as a born again Christian in an earlier interview by The Republican. Police said Michael Free is an alias.

The ministry’s board “is unanimous in supporting his claim to be a changed man,” Lively said.

Read up on this debacle:

  • Jan. 13: Lively says he didn’t know his manager is a convicted sex offender
  • Jan. 13: Police arrest manager of Holy Grounds Coffee House as unregistered sex offender
  • Jan. 10: Lively says students prohibited from coffee shop during school hours
  • Jan. 7: Springfield officials worry Holy Grounds coffee shop attracts truants
  • Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

    —  admin

    The Nooner: Oprah, Minnesota governor’s race, H&M, Clover coffee, Cedar Hill slaying

    Welcome to the inaugural edition of Instant Tea’s new midday news briefing, The Nooner™. Here goes nothing:

    • Oprah denies she’s a lesbian in interview with Barbara Walters to air Thursday. (Video clip above.)

    • Anti-gay, Target-backed Republican Tom Emmer concedes Minnesota governor’s race. Does this mean it’s OK to shop there again?

    • Clover coffee arrives at Starbucks on Knox Street.

    • H&M to open pop-up store at NorthPark today?

    • Arrest of partner in Cedar Hill teacher’s murder a relief for family.

    —  John Wright

    Study: Heavy coffee drinkers ‘more likely to hallucinate’

    I’m an English Breakfast tea drinker myself, but I guess my Blenders are spacing out right now on the java here in the coffeehouse…

    Heavy coffee drinkers are more likely to have hallucinations or feel “the presence of dead people,” according to new research.

    A UK-based study quizzed 200 students on their caffeine intake and found those with the highest consumption were also more prone to report seeing, or hearing, things that were not there.

    Those who consumed a daily equivalent of seven cups of instant coffee or more – high caffeine users – were three times more likely to have extra-sensory experiences than low users, who had less than one cup daily.

    Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

    —  admin

    Don’t drink coffee when you read this

    FAIL! Oh, MASSIVE FAIL! I tried to drink my coffee while reading a gem of a post over at Wonkette! Oh, AMERICAblog Gay readers if you are in the mood to laugh, and laugh hysterically, please trot over to “Wonkette” and read “Ann Coulter to Blame for Gayest Wingnut Slapfight Ever.” The title alone is worth a belly laugh. Excerpts abound, but here:

    Did everybody hear about the big shame-party that the homosexual conservatives are throwing in New York City for Ann Coulter? If this news missed you, worry not, for there likely will be tickets available until several weeks after the event. But let’s catch up. This group is not kidding when they call themselves “GOProud” — or at least they don’t understand why we think it’s funny — and they are throwing the first annual “HomoCon,” which will be just like Comic-Con, except the virgins will be humorless and homosexual, and at least 99% white.

    THEN, a whole new section of the gay community weighed in when anti-gay Peter “Porno Pete” LaBarbera, of Americans for Truth about Homosexuality, had a massive conniption fit over the fact that Ann Coulter had chosen to eat lunch with THOSE girls, and moreover, was pretending she didn’t even know this “Peter” girl. Get a load of the social rejection in this quote:

    Would Ann Coulter speak at an event for “Republicans For Responsible Porn Use,” or “Republicans for Higher Taxes,” or Republicans for Choice (Abortion) — if such groups took legitimately conservative positions on other issues like gun rights?

    Imagine what a Sad-fest that “HomoCon” is going to be?




    AMERICAblog Gay

    —  John Wright

    Urban Dog launches specialty blend to benefit Legacy Founders Cottage

    UrbanDogHeaderUrban Dog Coffee is launching The Cottage Blend, a specialty coffee benefiting Legacy Counseling Center’s Founders Cottage.

    A launch party is set for  6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday at Urban Dog, 2720 Oak Lawn Ave. ROBOCAT and TraDeMarx will be the guest DJs.

    Brady Cottle, owner of Urban Dog, said they partnered with local artist Jim Frederick and AAH Coffee Roasters with contributions from Cultured.com and Lead Concepts to create their first philanthropy coffee.

    The Founders Cottage is a cozy, seven-bedroom home in Dallas that provides 24-hour care and comfort to people who are critically ill from HIV/AIDS.

    “So buying this bag, just like the blend inside it, means you’re living boldly and beyond yourself,” Cottle wrote to Dallas Voice.

    —  David Taffet

    Partner denied sick leave by AT&T

    Bryan Dickenson, left, and Bill Sugg hold hands in Sugg’s room at a rehabilitation facility in Richardson on Wednesday, Jan. 27. (Source:John Wright/Dallas Voice)

    Despite 100% rating from HRC, company won’t allow gay man time off to care for ailing spouse

    JOHN WRIGHT  |  News Editor
    wright@dallasvoice.com

    Bryan Dickenson and Bill Sugg have been together for 30 years.

    For the last 12 of those years, Dickenson has worked as a communications technician for Dallas-based AT&T.

    After Sugg suffered a debilitating stroke in September, Dickinson requested time off under the federal Family Medical Leave Act to care for his partner.

    But AT&T is refusing to grant Dickenson the 12 weeks of leave that would be afforded to a heterosexual spouse under the act.

    As a result, Dickenson is using vacation time so he can spend one afternoon a week at Sugg’s bedside at a rehabilitation facility in Richardson. But Dickenson fears that when his vacation runs out, he’ll end up being fired for requesting additional time off to care for Sugg. Dickenson’s attorney, Rob Wiley of Dallas, said he initially thought AT&T’s refusal to grant his client leave under FMLA was just a mistake on the part of the company. Wiley said he expected AT&T to quickly rectify the situation after he sent the company a friendly letter.

    After all, AT&T maintains the highest score of 100 percent on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, which ranks companies according to their treatment of LGBT employees. And just this week, HRC listed AT&T as one of its “Best Places to Work.”

    But AT&T has stood its ground, confirming in a statement to Dallas Voice this week that the company isn’t granting Dickenson leave under FMLA because neither federal nor state law recognizes Sugg as his domestic partner.

    “I really couldn’t be more disappointed with AT&T’s response,” Wiley said. “When you scratch the surface, they clearly don’t value diversity. I just think it’s an outright lie for AT&T to claim they’re a good place for gays and lesbians to work.”

    Wiley added that he’s disappointed in HRC for giving AT&T its highest score. Eric Bloem, deputy director of HRC’s workplace project, said Thursday, Jan. 28 that he was looking into the matter. Bloem said a survey for the Corporate Equality Index asks companies whether they grant FMLA leave to same-sex couples, and AT&T replied affirmatively.

    “I’m not exactly sure what’s going on, so I don’t really want to make an official comment on it,” Bloem said.

    Walt Sharp, a spokesman for AT&T, said the company has “a long history of inclusiveness in the workplace.”

    “There are circumstances under which our administration of our benefits plans must conform with state law, and this is one of those circumstances,” Sharp said in a written statement. “In this case, neither federal nor state law recognizes Mr. Dickenson’s domestic partner with legal status as a qualifying family member for a federal benefit program. There is no basis for this lawsuit or the allegations contained in it and we will seek its dismissal.”

    Sharp didn’t respond to a request for further comment.

    Wiley said Sharp’s statement doesn’t make sense. No law prohibits the company from granting Dickenson an unpaid leave of absence, which is what he’s requesting. Wiley also noted that no lawsuit has been filed, because there isn’t grounds for one.

    The federal FMLA applies only to heterosexual married couples, Wiley said. Some states have enacted their own versions of the FMLA, requiring companies to grant leave to gay and lesbian couples, but Texas isn’t one of them.

    Wiley said the couple’s only hope is to somehow convince the company to do the right thing, which is why he contacted the media.

    “At some point in time this just becomes really hateful that they wouldn’t have any compassion,” Wiley said of the company. “I think the recourse is to tell their story and let people know how AT&T really treats their employees.”

    Through thick and thin

    This isn’t the first time Dickenson and Sugg have endured a medical crisis.

    Sugg, who’s 69 and suffers from congenital heart problems, nearly died from cardiac arrest shortly after the couple met in 1980.

    At the time, Dickenson was a full-time student and didn’t have car. So he rode his bicycle from Garland to Parkland Hospital in Dallas every day to visit Sugg in the intensive care unit.

    In an interview this week at the rehab facility, Sugg’s eyes welled up with tears as he recalled what a Parkland nurse said at the time – “If that isn’t love, then I don’t know what the hell love is.”

    “And sure enough, it was,” Sugg said over the whirr of his oxygen machine, turning to Dickenson. “As long as I have you, I can get through anything.”

    Dickenson said in addition to visiting Sugg each Wednesday afternoon, he wakes up at 7:30 on Saturday and Sunday mornings so he can spend the day with Sugg at the rehab facility.

    This past Christmas, Dickenson spent the night on the floor of Sugg’s room.
    “That would have been our first Christmas separated, and I just couldn’t bear that, him being alone on Christmas,” Dickenson said.

    The worst part of the whole ordeal was when he had to return to work after taking 13 days off following Sugg’s stroke, Dickenson said. Sugg didn’t understand and thought his partner had abandoned him for good.

    “He called me over and over every night, begging me to please come see him,” Dickenson said. “And I said, ’Honey, you don’t understand, I had to go back to work to save my job.’

    “That’s what really hurts about what they’ve put me through, not my pain and anguish, but his,” Dickenson said.

    Dickenson said it was 3 a.m. on Sept. 22 when he rushed Sugg to the hospital. Doctors initially said it was “the worst sinus infection they’d ever seen,” but within 48 hours Sugg had suffered a stroke affecting his cerebellum.

    Sugg lost the ability to swallow and his sense of balance. He’s still unable to walk and suffers from double vision.

    Because he wasn’t out as gay at work, Dickenson initially told supervisors that his father was sick.

    When he returned to work after 13 days at the hospital, Dickenson explained that his domestic partner was ill and he needed more time off. His supervisor managed to get him an additional 30 days of unpaid leave.

    In the meantime, Dickenson phoned the company’s human resources department and asked whether he’d be eligible for leave under FMLA, which allows 12 weeks (or about 90 days) per year. Dickenson said he was told that since he lives in Texas, he wouldn’t be eligible.

    Dickenson filled out the FMLA forms anyway and sent them to the company, but he never got any response.

    When Dickenson returned to work, he asked to be reclassified as part-time employee, so he could spend more time with Sugg. His supervisor refused and told him his best bet was FMLA leave, even though he’d already been denied.

    That’s when Dickenson contacted Wiley.

    Sugg is scheduled return to the couple’s Garland home from rehab in about a week, but he’s still on a feeding tube and will require nursing care. With any luck, he’ll someday be able to walk again.

    Sugg bragged that he was able to drink his first cup of coffee last week, and he’s looking forward to getting back to his hobby of raising African violets.

    Dickenson said he knows of at least seven medical appointments he’ll have to arrange for Sugg once he returns home. He said his vacation time likely will run out by April, and he fears that if he loses his job, the medical expenses will eventually cause him to go broke.

    But Dickenson, who’s 51, said he’s committed to taking care of Sugg, even if it means living on the street someday.

    “When it runs out, I’ll be fired, and it really hurts to be in a situation like that, because I’ve worked very hard for AT&T,” Dickenson said. “We suffer now, but maybe other people in our shoes in the future, if they work for AT&T, they won’t suffer like we do.”

    —  John Wright