Friday, July 10, 2009
Thursday, July 9, 2009
Four cemetery workers have been charged with illegally dismembering human bodies after digging up more than 300 corpses and dumping them in a pit in order to resell the graves.
Illinois police discovered the decomposing bodies at the historic Burr Oak cemetery in Alsip where a number of prominent African Americans are buried, including Emmett Till, the 14 year-old boy whose lynching in 1955 for flirting with a white woman helped galvanise the civil rights movement, and blues legend Dinah Washington.
"What we found was beyond startling and revolting," the Cook county sheriff, Tom Dart, said.
The police say the bodies were dug up and dumped in an overgrown area fenced off from the rest of the cemetery, 20 miles south of Chicago. The graves were then resold with the four arrested workers believed to have made about $300,000 over several years.
Relatives of the dead descended on the cemetery to discover if their loved ones had been disinterred. They included Simeon Wright, a cousin of Till, who told the Chicago Tribune: "I've got several generations of my family buried there, and I've never had any problems. ... But this is a pretty ghoulish story."
Dart said that Till's grave appears to have been undisturbed but he was not sure about Washington's or that of the heavyweight boxing champion Ezzard Charles.
The principal target appears to have been older graves that had not been visited for many years so that the removal of the bodies would not be noticed by relatives.
Dart said the FBI has been called in and that forensic medical examiners are working to identify the remains.
"I've been in this business for 35 years, and I have never heard of employees committing these kinds of terrible acts," Vickie Hand, treasurer of the Illinois Cemetery & Funeral Home Association, told the Chicago Tribune. "There's no words that can express it; it's just absolutely unbelievable."
Read more here.
The New Twenty tells the story of five college friends that are approaching thirty and questioning the bonds they once shared. In a post 9-11 world where ‘text is the new sex, gay is the new straight, and friends are the new family’ Chris Mason Johnson has given us the most dysfunctional ‘family’ ever. There’s Julie (Nicole Bilderback – Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Bring It On, Clueless) an over-achiever, and her aggressive fiancé Andrew (model Ryan Locke from Beyonce’s If I Were a Boy video). Then there’s Julie’s gay brother Tony (Andrew Wei Lin) and his addict roommate Felix (soap star Thomas Sadoski). Tony is dating the HIV+ teacher Robert (Bill Sage – Sex & the City, Mysterious Skin, Boy Wonder). Then there’s woof-y Colin Fickes as Ben Barr, a bearish geeky guy that spends most of the movie trying unsuccessfully to hook up online. Julie is incredibly successful at her job which threatens Andrew. He becomes fixated on his own success and partners with a stereotypical money-grubbing investment banker. He also tries to bring in Tony who refuses after her overhears the banker verbally gay bash him. Tony and Robert are having problems as well – although there’s only one real scene that conveys that – and eventually they break up. All the tension (I know, *what* tension?) builds until the climactic finale at Andrew’s bachelor party. This is a movie that gets everything and nothing right. The performances are top caliber from this ensemble of back-players, but that can’t help a talk-y script that confuses, ignores, and generally falls flat. There’s so much importance plot-wise on the careers of the two leads – and yet you’re never quite sure what *anyone* in the story does for a living. For example, Andrew’s job apparently consisted of yelling obscenities and scarring his staff of two. And there was also some confusion on my part about Felix’s addict status; we see him meet up with some girl and they go back to her apartment. Next we see a baggie with something inside and a glass pipe – I’m thinking pot, right? Also, cue ‘girl-with-a-guitar’ music. But the movie treats it like he’s addicted to heroin. Now, it may have been heroin in the baggie, but there’s really nothing else in the movie that would indicate *what* the guy is addicted to. And the tacked-on fifth wheel Ben is completely pointless and spends the entire movie maybe hating his body, smoking, and being incredibly needy. At the end of the movie I felt like if thirty is the new twenty then I feel sixty. Killer soundtrack though. The New Twenty will be available on DVD on July 21st.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
All in all, it was a fitting and tasteful tribute to the King of Pop.
Berry Gordy claimed that 'King of Pop' was no longer big enough - instead he called Jackson 'the greatest entertainer that ever lived.'
Al Sharpton told the Jackson children 'There wasn't nothing strange about your daddy, but it was strange what he had to deal with.' - a comment that has already created controversy among Jackson's detractors.
The most poignant moment came at the end when Jackson's 11 year old daughter Paris spoke: "I just wanted to say, ever since I was born, Daddy has been the best father you could ever imagine. And I just wanted to say I love him. So much."
Rest well, Michael. You will be missed.
Sunday, July 5, 2009
Thursday, July 2, 2009
My plans for world domination are finally coming to fruition!!
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
If you have ever considered yourself a movie fan in the least, I have something very special to share with you. Actually, this isn’t the first time I’ve mentioned Were the World Mine. But now that it’s finally arrived on DVD, I wanted to take a second opportunity to implore you to see this fantastic film.
I still have trouble believing this is a feature film debut for Tom Gustafson. The film is so pitch perfect you’d believe it was the work of a seasoned Hollywood heavyweight. Were the World Mine is a re-working of Gustafson’s 2003 short film Fairies. Fairies was a major festival success and repeatedly shown on LOGO. It was this success that inspired Gustafson to try it on a larger scale.
Were the World Mine is like you threw High School Musical, Moulin Rouge, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet into a blender and still managed to achieve something wholly original and emotionally moving. While there’s nothing particularly ‘new’ about Were the World Mine (the story is a few hundred years old) it still feels fresh and groundbreaking, perhaps in its’ ability to finally combine all the queer elements of the films that preceded it then distilling it into a simple-fairy tale-esque story. In its simplicity it will become this generation’s Beautiful Thing.
In terms of plot think High School Musical Does A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Timothy (Tanner Cohen) is begrudgingly but openly gay at an all-boys school in typical small town America. He doesn’t hide who he is but he doesn’t exactly flaunt it either. Nevertheless he still gets teased by his schoolmates. And his mother (Judy McLane) is trying to be accepting but obviously still doesn’t understand. He feels completely alone except for his two best friends from a neighboring school – guitar-toting Frankie (Zelda Williams) and athletic Max (Ricky Goldman). Timothy spends most of his afternoons with Frankie and Max but most of his school hours daydreaming about the jock rugby team player Jonathan (Nathaniel David Becker) – but Timothy’s got plenty of material. Jonathan pats his butt during basketball practice, compliments his singing in a particularly dreamy/flirty scene, and always rises to his defense when the other rugby players start their bullying. So he’s completely annoyed when his kooky drama teacher interrupts his Jonathan-drooling-a-thon one day to insist he try out for the school’s upcoming musical version of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Timothy gets cast as Puck, and while memorizing his lines he stumbles upon the recipe for the pansy’s love potion. For the non-Shakespearean among you – in A Midsummer Night’s Dream the impish fairy Puck creates havoc when he sprays a love potion via a pansy into several sleeping eyes one night that causes the sleeper to fall madly in love with the first person he or she sees upon opening his or her eyes. Timothy is skeptical at first, but looses all doubts when he accidentally sprays Max. The next day at school he’s ready when drama practice starts – determined once and for all to get the guy of his dreams. To his delight it works, but his moment is cut short by more homophobic taunting from the rugby team members in the cast. In a moment of anger he sprays his two worst antagonists – who start totally making out! Now anyone who tries to stand in his way will finally see what life is like in his shoes. Soon half the town has had a sudden change in orientation and gay marriages have been legalized! But soon we realize that what was at first laugh-inducing has become heart-breaking. Problems arise – as they will when love is involved.
The cast is fantastic. Relative newcomers Tanner Cohen and Nathaniel David Becker are not only heavenly on the eyes (and I do mean heavenly) but they can both act and sing. Tanner is one half of an emotronic pop (a sub-genre I had never heard of) band called The Guts. He also appeared in The Life Before Her Eyes and “As the World Turns”. As for Becker, you might remember him from a Virgin Mobile commercial (I didn’t). The most recognizable cast members are in the ranks. Wendy Robie might look more familiar to audiences with an eye-patch but her role as the as the ethereal drama teacher is the complete opposite of Nadine from ‘Twin Peaks”. She’s captivating and enchanting – so, completely believable as a captivating and enchanting drama teacher. Another television personality on-hand is Jill Larson, who has played Opal Cortlandt on “All My Children” for the past 18 years. And Zelda Williams may not be a name you know offhand but you probably know her dad, Robin.
The DVD officially hit store shelves June 9th, so if you haven’t been lucky enough to see it at a festival or you have and you have to own a copy be sure to keep your eyes peeled.
I got an e-mail this morning with some exciting news that I had been waiting to hear about.
There will be a big announcement in the coming days - so keep your eyes peeled!!
In the meantime - let's celebrate with some dancing bears!!