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

Defining Homes • Super (re)model

Remodeler Chris Sandlin says slow your roll before that redux

Wingren-Kitchen-5By Jonanna Widner

As a third-generation homebuilder and remodeler, it’s no surprise that Chris Sandlin opted out of a journalism career and instead chose the family business. He made the change in 2005 and with such a history of the industry in his blood already, Sandlin brings a fairly unique perspective to the market.

“I’m 30 years old, which is relatively young compared to others in my position,“ he says. “But I put a lot of time and energy into the right team of workers and sub-contractors to customers’ homes so the end result lives up to what the homeowners deserve. As a gay business owner, I’m happy in providing stellar home services to the community.”

Before moving forward with that remodel, Sandlin says to think before demolishing.

Wingren-Master-Bath-2Know when to remodel: “I commonly work with homeowners to determine whether it makes more sense to remodel or move. I approach each situation openly and honestly, and try my best to suggest what I think would be best, even if that means I don’t win the job.”

Remodel before selling: “This is usually the case with older homes that have not been remodeled recently. Homeowners accept my guidance for what sells. I have a good combination of experience in the homebuilding and real estate industry.

“There is a catch-22 here. If the house sells quickly, homeowners in won’t have time to experience the finished remodel project which tends to be the kitchen or master bath.”

“This can happen very easily. Most $250,000 homes do not need a $50,000 bathroom redo, nor does a $300,000 home need a $100,000 commercial grade kitchen. A wide variety of factors need to be considered, including how long they plan to stay in the home, what’s the budget, how it adds to the home’s value.“

Budget help: “When in the budgeting/planning phase with homeowners, research the values of nearby homes, especially with remodels. This has been helpful in concrete figures regarding their remodel, as well as experienced conjectures about how the remodel will affect the home’s future value.”

Don’t rush the details:  ”Too many homeowners want to rush into their project without a clear vision. Step back, assess the project and come up with a plan. With that, the end result will be everything the homeowner wants. Rushing into it without a plan will only result in more time, money and headaches.”

Going green: “This is an area I take pride in. As a certified green professional through the National Association of Homebuilders, I integrate green philosophies and I want to minimize waste factor and landfill component as much as possible.”

“I started making many green features as my standard a long time ago because I feel it’s the right way to build and remodel. I’m happy to see more homeowners interested in these options.”

DIY:  “I’m happy to help prepare homeowners for what they would encounter if doing it on their own. Sometimes it works out just fine, with small jobs that don’t require licensed tradesmen or city permits. When it comes to larger jobs, people need to know if they honestly have the time to do this in addition to the day job.”DH

Visit SandlinBuild.com for more information.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 7, 2011.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

—  Kevin Thomas

Applause: Stage pink

Queer highlights from the upcoming theater season

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer

Anticipation should be strong for the upcoming theater season in general. Ambitious shows like Giant, The Tempest, West Side Story and Hairspray all dot the stage horizon.
But we also like to see some of our own up there. As we look over the upcoming offerings from local theater companies, we always ask, “Where’s the gay?”  In addition to Uptown Players’ first  Dallas Pride Performing Arts Festival, here are some of the others.

……………………….

Fall

Although the Dallas Opera canceled the opera she was set to star in, lesbian soprano Patricia Racette will still perform at a TDO gala. (Photo Devon Cass)

Singer-songwriter Duncan Sheik gave an indie music flair to the musical adaptation of the 1891 play Spring Awakening. Set in 19th century Germany, Awakening follows a group of youths as they discover more about themselves and their rapidly developing sexuality.

The original Frank Wedekind play was controversial in its day, depicting abortion, homosexuality, rape and suicide. Now the show just has an added rock ‘n’ roll score. Along with Sheik’s musical perspective, Steven Slater wrote the book and lyrics in this updated version which debuted in 2006 on Broadway and won the Tony for Best Musical. Terry Martin directs.

WaterTower Theater, 15650 Addison Road., Addison. Sept. 30–Oct. 23. WaterTowerTheatre.org.

It’s almost un-Texan if you’re gay and not familiar with Del Shores’ tales of Southern discomfort.  Southern Baptist Sissies and Sordid Lives are pretty much part of the queer vernacular in these parts, but Shores got his start way back in 1987.

How will those northern folks take to Shores work (And by north, we mean past Central Expressway past LBJ)? Jeni Helms directs Daddy’s Dyin’: Who’s Got the Will for McKinney Repertory Theatre this fall. As the family patriarch suffers a stroke, the Turnover family gathers as they wait for his death. This family may just put the fun in dysfunctional.

McKinney Performing Arts Center, 111 N. Tennessee St., McKinney. Sept. 30–Oct. 7. McKinneyRep.org.

WingSpan Theatre Co. will produce one of the greater comedies of theater-dom this fall: Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, with Nancy Sherrard sparring over the gay wit’s price bon mots as Lady Bracknell.

Bath House Cultural Center, 521 E. Lawther Drive. Oct. 6–22. WingSpanTheatre.com.

Although A Catered Affair might sound a bit like My Big Fat Greek Wedding, it has the added flair of Harvey Fierstein’s wit. That’s because he wrote the book for the show alongside John Bucchino’s music and lyrics. The play is based on the Gore Vidal-penned 1956 film The Catered Affair starring Bette Davis.

When Jane and Ralph decide to get married, Jane’s mom Agnes wants to put on an elaborate spectacle of a wedding. The truth is, she can’t afford it and Jane isn’t all too thrilled about a huge affair. As in most cases, the wedding planning is more about the mom than the daughter and Agnes soon realizes the fact. Jane’s Uncle Winston — the proverbial gay uncle — is left off the guest list and is rightfully pissed. But as most gay characters, he rallies to be the voice of reason and support.

Theatre Three, 2800 Routh Street, Ste.168. Oct. 13–Nov. 12. Theatre3Dallas.com.

Lesbian soprano Patricia Racette was going to be featured in the production of Katya Kabanová but unfortunately the show was canceled by the Dallas Opera. But fear not. Dallas will still get to bask in the greatness that is her voice as Racette will perform An Evening with Patricia Racette, a cabaret show with classics from the Great American Songbook for a patron recital.

Winspear Opera House, 2403 Flora St. Nov. 9. DallasOpera.org

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Spring

Nancy Sherrard will star as Lady Bracknell in WIngSpan Theater Co.’s fall production of Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Importance of Being Earnest,’ perhaps the greatest comedy ever written by theaterdom’s gayest wit.

Kevin Moriarty directs Next Fall for the Dallas Theater Center next spring. Written by Geoffrey Nauffts, the play centers on Luke and Adam, a couple with some unusual issues. What’s new about that in gay couplehood? Not much, but when Adam’s an absolute atheist and Luke’s a devout Christian, the two have been doing their best to make it work.
The comedy played on Broadway in 2010, garnering Tony and Drama Desk nominations. And now Dallas gets to see how, as DTC puts it, “relationships can be a beautiful mess.”
Kalita Humphreys Theater, 3636 Turtle Creek Blvd. April 13–May 6. DallasTheaterCenter.org.

Perhaps the most surprising queer offering this next season is Theatre Arlington’s production of The Laramie Project. The show usually creates quite a stir — at least it did in Tyler, thanks to Trinity Wheeler — so how will this suburban audience handle it? Doesn’t matter. Props to T.A. for taking Moises Kaufman’s play about the tragic bashing and death of Matthew Shepard to its community.

Theatre Arlington, 305 W. Main St., Arlington. May 18–June 3. TheatreArlington.org.

Usually the question with MBS Productions is “what’s not gay?” Founder Mark-Brian Sonna has consistently delivered tales of gay woe and love that are sometimes silly and sometimes sweet, but always a laugh.

This season is no different. Playwright Alejandro de la Costa brings back drag queen Lovely Uranus in The Importance of Being Lovely. The last time we saw Uranus, Sonna wore the stilettos and pink wig in last season’s Outrageous, Sexy, (nekkid) Romp.  This time around, Uranus graduates to leading lady status as the show is all about her as audiences follow her through the changes she makes in her make-up, wigs and men.

Stone Cottage Theatre, 15650 Addison Road, Addison. July 16–Aug. 11, 2012. MBSProductions.net.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 26, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

President Obama and Speaker Pelosi roll into private A-list Hollywood fundraiser for DCCC tonight

UPDATE FROM PAM: The event raised M for the DCCC. How many anti-equality candidates do you think will benefit from that? For a description of the event and who attended go below the fold.



“If it weren’t for you, we would not be in the White House.”

– President Obama on May 27, 2009, at a DNC Hollywood fundraiser where 250 studio executives, directors and stars doled out ,200 a person.

Well, well — what a difference a year makes…or not. Tonight the President has his hat out in hand in oh-so-gay Hollywood, this time for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. In a piece in The Hollywood Reporter, it’s noted that unlike Bill Clinton, Barack Obama doesn’t care for hobnobbing with the L.A. movie stars, he just wants their dough — and they are still willing to give it to him, even though he’s failed to deliver anything of significance, particularly to the LGBT community.

This evening’s fundraiser featuring Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi takes place at the Hancock Park home of “ER” and “The West Wing” executive producer John Wells and benefits the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The usual gang of Hollywood A-listers will be in attendance: the host committee includes J.J. Abrams and wife Katie McGrath, Alan and Cindy Horn, Barbra Streisand, the Katzenbergs, and Kate Capshaw and Steven Spielberg (though the S and K of DreamWorks SKG aren’t expected to show).

You have to read between the lines of Obama toady, Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter, who won’t risk losing his access to the WH (and he happens to be pimping a book on the President, btw) to actually hold him accountable.

During his Los Angeles book party for “The Promise: President Obama. Year One,” Newsweek columnist Jonathan Alter spoke with Hollywood’s glitterati and literati at the Westside home of Sony Pictures Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton (who also happens to be his brother-in-law). Director Jay Roach, “House” executive producer Paul Attanasio, “Little Miss Sunshine” producer Ron Yerxa and more than 100 others gathered to grill Alter with questions about the president.

“I didn’t detect any anger, (but) on one level they are disappointed,” Alter said about the Hollywood community. “On another level, there’s residual admiration for him and an understanding they don’t know about the details of his job.”

On many issues about which the guests cared — the environment and gay rights, among them — Alter said the matters simply are out of Obama’s hands. “Climate change went through the House but failed in the Senate,” he said. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell requires an act of Congress, and Obama needs (Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman) Adm. (Mike) Mullen to lead the way.”

In other words, they don’t know how the sausage is made; they just throw him the check and buy the nicely packaged and marketed sausage when it comes out of the factory.

Our problem is our sausage never makes it out of the factory. They keep grinding the innards over and over…

The only player quoted in the piece has feet grounded in reality about the complete PR mess coming out of the WH on marriage equality and even then, Bruce Cohen has no grasp pf common sense regarding the political time squandered by administration’s foot-dragging.

The area in which Hollywood expresses its dissatisfaction most clearly is over Obama’s track record on gay rights. Activist Bruce Cohen, the “Milk” and “American Beauty” producer now working on next year’s Oscars telecast, insists that “it’s not time to grade him yet — we haven’t even gotten to the midterm exams” but still feels some administration stands are conflicted.

“We’ve not had presidential support on gay marriage itself, though Obama said that (California’s) Proposition 8 was unconstitutional, which we appreciated,” he said. Still, “we’re hoping one of the things the case does is make people realize you can’t be against Prop. 8 and be against gay marriage.”

If only these Hollywood deep pockets would join “Don’t Ask, Don’t Give” instead of enabling this party and President, the admin and Congress would sit up and take notice.

Perhaps it’s time to have protests at these tony private fundraisers as well; stopping the cash flow is apparently the only way to make them see the need to get our sausage packaged and out of the factory.
Pool report:

Motorcade departed at 6:10 Pacific time from the Beverly Hilton, speeding down Century City and Olympic boulevards, where Angelenos snapped cell phone pictures and waved. One held a small sign proclaiming, "We need jobs," but this was a friendly crowd. Motorcade turned onto Hudson Avenue, passed lush lawns and lovely houses to the home of John Wells, producer of television shows such as West Wing, ER and China Beach.

The 10-minute ride brought us to a landscaped front yard that was more English garden then lawn, with topiaries, paths, and a fountain with a large great blue heron spouting water.

The event has raised million. Entry was ,500, but co-hosts, such as JJ Abrams, Steven Spielberg and Kate Capshaw, Cindy and Alan Horn, Marilyn and Jeffrey Katzenberg (not actually here), Janet and Tom Unterman and Barbra Streisand (not actually here) paid ,400 a couple.

Judd Apatow is also here, as is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen. Former NFL head coach Dennis Green is also here, as is Taye Diggs and wife and Tony Award winner Idina Menzel, who will entertain.

Here's the whole list:

Additional Attendees

Members of the California Congressional Delegation expected to be in attendance:

Speaker Nancy Pelosi

Chairman Howard Berman

Congressman Brad Sherman

Congresswoman Barbara Lee

Congressman Joe Baca

Congresswoman Laura Richardson

Congresswoman Judy Chu

Congressman John Garamendi                        

Labor Secretary Hilda Solis

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa

Former CA State Speaker and Congressional candidate Karen Bass (Bass is running CA-33, the Diane Watson open seat.  The event is being held is Congresswoman Watson's district)

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright