What Ya Gonna Do This Summer?

I’m stealing this idea from Philebrity editor Joey Sweeney. What are the things you are looking forward to between now and Labor Day 2015? Here’s Mine. Now it’s your turn! #SummerToDoList #summer2015

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Painting by Ric McCauley

What I’m Looking Forward to Doing the Summer of 2015
–meeting my friend Steph (along with all out other peeps) to show her the pleasure of happy hour drinks at Harbor Park.
–water gun battles.
–corn, potatoes, shrimp and sausage boiled in Old Bay.
–actually calling at least one old friend a week to catch up and stoke the embers of the good times we’ve shared.
–drinking wine and watching movies in the park.
–checking out the El Bar and hearing friends’ old stories about getting chased and beaten up on that block and boy has this neighborhood changed…
—-hanging out at the Lambda Literary Writing Retreat and the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. (https://kellymcquain.wordpress.com/2015/05/17/lambda-literary-fellows-need-your-help/)
–reading for pleasure (hammocks preferred).
–planting something and watching it grow.
–wearing sandals every day.
–aw, hell. Going barefoot.
–helping my high school pal Ric hang his solo art show on the Chesapeake Bay.
–Jersey tomatoes.
–taking pleasure in my friends’ successes.
–jazz cocktails on M Restaurant’s patio.
–t-ball and playground trips with my adorable nephews, and pool trips sans their water wings. Checking in with all the other nieces and nephews, too.
–getting someone to go tubing with me in New Hope, or canoeing in the pine barrens…
–drawing, painting, getting messy and having fun.
–talking to someone older who might be able to give me a little wisdom for what’s ahead.
–wearing breathable seersucker shirts and shorts.
–eating outside.
–jumping in a fountain and pretend I’m on Friends.
–visiting Mom at her WV home… and seeing what latest critter has tried to get inside her house (in the last year, it’s been a mother bear with her cubs, two blacksnakes, and myriad deer. Only an enterprising groundhog has actually made it all the way into the living room)
–eating my way through Philly’s festivals. (Italian Market Festival? Check. Greek Festival? You’re up next)
–sudden thunderstorms where the temperature drops fifteen degrees in twenty minutes.
–peeling off wet clothes with someone I love.
–beach trips to Jersey, Delaware, and beyond, I hope.
–discovering the Drink of Summer (Paloma? Dark ‘n Stormy? Mojito? Some new invention?)
–writing, writing, writing. Finishing things, finishing things, and not beating myself up when I don’t finish everything.
–making a summer Playlist with the help of my music guru (he owns nearly six thousand CDs and they are all alphabetized! I know, I know. What’s a CD?)
–easy desserts of John’s Water Ice (lemon) with a shot of limocello (add strawberries for additional fancy-pants points.)
–hard cheese drizzled with honey infused by chocolate and habaneros (thank you, Mr. Artisanal Beekeeper at the Italian Market).
–seeing two summer blockbusters back-to-back on the big screen. Maybe even three!
–celebrating Walt Whitman’s birthday with some great out-of-town writers as part of the “Five for Philly” reading at Giovanni’s Room. https://www.facebook.com/events/836983619708969/
–shooting the shit with my neighbor in his yard.
–taking part in some exciting secret projects with various literary journals.
–and so much more!

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“A Long Walk” (film)

A short film based on my friend Samuel Autman’s essay “A Long Walk” is now available online. I invite you to check it out and share it. The director
shot the film in Camden, NJ, a couple summers ago. Samuel is a friend from UNO who is doing interesting things with memoir, and this new film is a feather in his cap. Be forewarned, the story is tragic.

LINK: https://vimeo.com/99293805

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QFest Announces Winning Films

It was my privilege this year to serve on the Jury for QFest, Philadelphia’s 19th annual GLBTQ film festival. Along with two other judges, I was tasked with viewing the documentaries. All told, I ended up seeing about twenty films, the ones competing in our category as well as some of the feature films I mentioned in previous posts.

Our Jury for Best Documentary faced a particularly tough challenge this year, choosing among excellent films that dealt with such topics as marriage equality, gay and lesbian parenting, political change, aging in our community and surviving hate crimes. _All_ the films deserve praise, and the Jury hopes you will seek them out and learn from the wisdom and insight they offer. One of the films stood out in particular for its rich historic detail, its fine cinematography and its insight into how our understanding of equality has changed over the last sixty years. All of this embodied by the story of one woman’s life: that of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker. We were happy to award Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth, the 2013 QFest Award for Best Documentary Film.

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The full list of winners is below, courtesy of the QFest site at http://www.qfest.com/index.cfm .

QFEST ANNOUNCES THE 2013 FILM WINNERS

OFFICIAL JURY AWARDS
BEST FEATURE: Free Fall, directed by Stephan Lacant
BEDOCUMENTARY: Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth, directed by Pratibha Parmar
BEST SHORT (GAY): The Package, directed by Rafael Aidar
BEST SHORT (LESBIAN): The Kiss, directed by Filip Gieldon
FIRST TIME DIRECTOR (FEATURE): Jane Clark for Meth Head
FIRST TIME DIRECTOR (DOCUMENTARY): Marta Cunningham for Valentine Road
HONORABLE MENTION: Pamela Drynan for Where I Am

AUDIENCE AWARDS
BEST DOCUMENTARY: The New Black, directed by Yoruba Richen
BEST FEATURE: Out In the Dark, directed by Michael Mayer
BEST COMEDY: Who’s Afraid of Vagina Wolf, directed by Anna Margarita Albelo
BEST SHORT: Spooners, directed by Bryan R. Horch
HONORABLE MENTION: The Rugby Player, directed by Scott Gracheff

QFest Update!

@QFest #gayfilm #QFest

20130719-173634.jpg Pictured: In the Name Of…

Seeing some fun movies at QFest over these hot, hot days, including a deeply symbolic Polish film called In the Name Of… about a Polish priest running a boy’s reformatory. Also saw a first-time director’s film called Love Will Tear Us Apart. It has a great soundtrack of French pop, including a French version of These Boots Were Made for Walking.

Documentary topics at QFest have ranged from a portrait of Gore Vidal to a pair of documentaries about the trials and tribulations of gay and lesbian couples creating families. Writer Robert Drake is featured in the moving Where I Am, about how he survived a brutal attack in Ireland in 1999 and was able to forgive his attackers. The New Black chronicled marriage equality politics in Maryland, while Breaking Through showcased cutting-edge queer politicians. The Invisible Men depicts the struggle of Muslim gays seeking asylum in Tel Aviv. More documentaries about Divine and Alice Walker are on my docket for the weekend. Check out the fabulous list of documentaries at http://www.qfest.com/2013-program.cfm?c=280.

QFest Film Festival Debuts with film: GBF (Gay Best Friend)

#QFest, #GBFfilm, #gayfilm

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QFest Update 1: Opening Night Film and Party
July 11, 2013

Opening Movie: GBF (Gay Best Friend)

GBF is a rom-com that doesn’t quite live up to the tropes of its genre, but nevertheless gains momentum with zinger after zinger, delivered by the likes of Meghan Mullally, whose cameo as the mother of a closeted high schooler is A+ work in an otherwise B- film.

The plot is a young queer boy’s dream (nightmare?) come true: What happens when closeted twinkie Tanner is outed by his classmates and finds himself the target of three mean-girl queen bees, all of whom want him to becomes their new “gay best friend”? Will he end up a faddish accoutrement akin to a puppy dog in a purse? Hilarity ensues, naturally.

As one of the three mean girls ruling the local high school, actress Xosha Roquemore plays bitchy drama queen Caprice. She is a standout, ably delivering snappy one-liners with uzi-like indiscretion and statuesque ferocity. If ever there is a Grace Jones bio-pic, she needs to be on the director’s short list. NancyPanel19Actor Taylor Frey steals scenes as a closeted young Mormon horn-dog who gets more action than anyone else in this comedy, which generally talks more about sex than actually depicts it. (Incidentally, both of these actors were at the Philadelphia opening night screening, and they seemed both personable and appreciative of their moment in the spotlight. See their sexy Twitter pic at http://instagram.com/p/bpjG0tPeF0/.

I can’t say the acting chops of leads Paul Iacono and Michael J. Willet were as good. Willet’s “Tanner”, the main male lead, seems especially sketched in–a comic book nerd who is never once shown reveling in his inner-geekdom. Iacono shares some funny moments with Meghan Mullaly, who plays his sometimes-helicoptering parent. Iacono and Willet both play closeted gay teens too afraid to come out on their own terms. Best-friends-turned-frenemies, the pair suffers from lack of backbone throughout the film, and their brief romantic interlude toward the end lacks any simulacrum of real spark. Don’t expect much fortitude in either character, though both certainly manage to keep the plot moving forward. The consensus among the friends I saw the movie with was that these two were outshone by their fellow cast members, which included Evanna Lynch (better known as Luna Lovegood in the Harry Potter franchise) and Andrea Bowen (who played Susan’s daughter on Desperate Housewives). And let’s not forget the school’s reigning diva, played by Sasha Pieterse. As “Fawcette”, a Farrah-like blonde, she displays the prowess of an actress of promise, coming closest among all her cast-mates to layering her character with the kind of depth that typified John Hughes’ teen movies in the 1980s–perhaps the Golden Age of teen films.

Indeed, GBF’s score borrows a LOT from that era, most notably in the music of the ’80s and early ’90s, with songs by Spandau Ballet, Erasure and Blur on the soundtrack. But unlike Hughes, who so masterfully wove the music of his era into the textual fabric of his films, thereby adding gravitas to his story lines–here the music seems mere afterthought. That’s too bad. A few quiet moments and some genuine tears would have made all the zany bitchiness far more poignant. That’s brave water to tread in a high-school comedy. But even though Director Darren Stein didn’t get it 100% right the first time around, these characters deserve revisiting in their college years–hopefully under direction that will make even more of the snappy, witty, and always clever storytelling of writer George Northy. Some genuine pathos would make the comedy stand out in sharper relief. I especially want to see what happens to Taylor Frey’s closeted Mormon, who morphs into a gung-ho gay boy by movie’s end.

The film is a fun romp worth seeing with friends. You’ll find some laughs and you may want to hit rewind a time or two to take notes on all the saucy repartee. As the kids say these days, “Whatev, bitches!”

Director: Darren Stein. So20130712-015654.jpgon to be released theatrically in LA and NYC. Distributor TBA.

Check out this video trailer on YouTube:

http://youtu.be/Z6DJSGrfNbk

 

PS–The after party…
…was a lot of fun. I met drag queen Timmy Tenderloin, and hung out with friends Rex, Javier, Mario, Thom Cardwell, @Michael Busza, @Brian Gannon. @Joe’l Ludovich, @Jhett Bond, and others at LIT ULTRA BAR in Northern Liberties. A great start to QFest! The theme was a prom night extravaganza, and it was a helluva show with drag queens, drag kings and a photo booth with a cute Mini Cooper (now only if Minnie Driver had been 20130712-031354.jpgdriving the Mini Cooper. Oh well.) Here is a gratuitous picture of Timmy Tenderloin, the drag king, at Philly’s Gay Pride Parade. I stole this off the Internet. At the party, in real life, I took Timmy’s picture weirdly distorted through an ice sculpture–wish I had it, but I took it on Timmy’s camera, not mine.

Tags: Xosha Roquemore, Taylor Frey, GBF, G.B.F., QFest, Philadelphia, Film, Gay, Queer, 80s music, 90s music, George Northy, Darrewn Stein, Timmy Tenderloin, Philadelphia Gay Calendar,

PPS–File under Extra Adorable. Taylor Frey of GBF helps kids fight obesity by teaching them dance moves from Hairspray. How freaking cute is THAT?!

http://broadwayworld.com/article/Photo-Flash-Mara-Davi-Taylor-Frey-and-More-Teach-PS-221-Students-in-Brooklyn-20130430

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Okay, enough pics, enough gossip. Go get your QFest tickets. Pronto! If you missed GBF, it shows again this weekend. http://www.qfest.com/film-details.cfm?id=14588

QFest Film Festival Debuts with film: GBF (Gay Best Friend)

#QFest, #GBFfilm, #gayfilm

20130712-015611.jpg

QFest Update 1: Opening Night Film and Party
July 11, 2013

Opening Movie: GBF (Gay Best Friend)

GBF is a rom-com that doesn’t quite live up to the tropes of its genre, but nevertheless gains momentum with zinger after zinger, delivered by the likes of Meghan Mullally, whose cameo as the mother of a closeted high schooler is A+ work in an otherwise B- film.

The plot is a young queer boy’s dream (nightmare?) come true: What happens when closeted twinkie Tanner is outed by his classmates and finds himself the target of three mean-girl queen bees, all of whom want him to becomes their new “gay best friend”? Will he end up a faddish accoutrement akin to a puppy dog in a purse? Hilarity ensues, naturally.

As one of the three mean girls ruling the local high school, actress Xosha Roquemore plays bitchy drama queen Caprice. She is a standout, ably delivering snappy one-liners with uzi-like indiscretion and statuesque ferocity. If ever there is a Grace Jones bio-pic, she needs to be on the director’s short list. NancyPanel19Actor Taylor Frey steals scenes as a closeted young Mormon horn-dog who gets more action than anyone else in this comedy, which generally talks more about sex than actually depicts it. (Incidentally, both of these actors were at the Philadelphia opening night screening, and they seemed both personable and appreciative of their moment in the spotlight. See their sexy Twitter pic at http://instagram.com/p/bpjG0tPeF0/.

I can’t say the acting chops of leads Paul Iacono and Michael J. Willet were as good. Willet’s “Tanner”, the main male lead, seems especially sketched in–a comic book nerd who is never once shown reveling in his inner-geekdom. Iacono shares some funny moments with Meghan Mullaly, who plays his sometimes-helicoptering parent. Iacono and Willet both play closeted gay teens too afraid to come out on their own terms. Best-friends-turned-frenemies, the pair suffers from lack of backbone throughout the film, and their brief romantic interlude toward the end lacks any simulacrum of real spark. Don’t expect much fortitude in either character, though both certainly manage to keep the plot moving forward. The consensus among the friends I saw the movie with was that these two were outshone by their fellow cast members, which included Evanna Lynch (better known as Luna Lovegood in the Harry Potter franchise) and Andrea Bowen (who played Susan’s daughter on Desperate Housewives). And let’s not forget the school’s reigning diva, played by Sasha Pieterse. As “Fawcette”, a Farrah-like blonde, she displays the prowess of an actress of promise, coming closest among all her cast-mates to layering her character with the kind of depth that typified John Hughes’ teen movies in the 1980s–perhaps the Golden Age of teen films.

Indeed, GBF’s score borrows a LOT from that era, most notably in the music of the ’80s and early ’90s, with songs by Spandau Ballet, Erasure and Blur on the soundtrack. But unlike Hughes, who so masterfully wove the music of his era into the textual fabric of his films, thereby adding gravitas to his story lines–here the music seems mere afterthought. That’s too bad. A few quiet moments and some genuine tears would have made all the zany bitchiness far more poignant. That’s brave water to tread in a high-school comedy. But even though Director Darren Stein didn’t get it 100% right the first time around, these characters deserve revisiting in their college years–hopefully under direction that will make even more of the snappy, witty, and always clever storytelling of writer George Northy. Some genuine pathos would make the comedy stand out in sharper relief. I especially want to see what happens to Taylor Frey’s closeted Mormon, who morphs into a gung-ho gay boy by movie’s end.

The film is a fun romp worth seeing with friends. You’ll find some laughs and you may want to hit rewind a time or two to take notes on all the saucy repartee. As the kids say these days, “Whatev, bitches!”

Director: Darren Stein. So20130712-015654.jpgon to be released theatrically in LA and NYC. Distributor TBA.

Check out this video trailer on YouTube:

http://youtu.be/Z6DJSGrfNbk

 

PS–The after party…
…was a lot of fun. I met drag queen Timmy Tenderloin, and hung out with friends Rex, Javier, Mario, Thom Cardwell, @Michael Busza, @Brian Gannon. @Joe’l Ludovich, @Jhett Bond, and others at LIT ULTRA BAR in Northern Liberties. A great start to QFest! The theme was a prom night extravaganza, and it was a helluva show with drag queens, drag kings and a photo booth with a cute Mini Cooper (now only if Minnie Driver had been 20130712-031354.jpgdriving the Mini Cooper. Oh well.) Here is a gratuitous picture of Timmy Tenderloin, the drag king, at Philly’s Gay Pride Parade. I stole this off the Internet. At the party, in real life, I took Timmy’s picture weirdly distorted through an ice sculpture–wish I had it, but I took it on Timmy’s camera, not mine.

Tags: Xosha Roquemore, Taylor Frey, GBF, G.B.F., QFest, Philadelphia, Film, Gay, Queer, 80s music, 90s music, George Northy, Darrewn Stein, Timmy Tenderloin, Philadelphia Gay Calendar,

PPS–File under Extra Adorable. Taylor Frey of GBF helps kids fight obesity by teaching them dance moves from Hairspray. How freaking cute is THAT?!

http://broadwayworld.com/article/Photo-Flash-Mara-Davi-Taylor-Frey-and-More-Teach-PS-221-Students-in-Brooklyn-20130430

20130712-030634.jpg

Okay, enough pics, enough gossip. Go get your QFest tickets. Pronto! If you missed GBF, it shows again this weekend. http://www.qfest.com/film-details.cfm?id=14588