Wednesday, July 31, 2013

President Obama to sign bill lowering interest rates on student loans


On July 1st, interest rates on student loans doubled to 6.8 percent from 3.4 percent after Congress failed to meet the deadline to prevent the rate increase.

Now, after urging Congress to address the issue, President Obama is set to sign a bill into law that will lower interest rates for college students.

Via The Raw Story:

The House of Representatives on Wednesday passed a bill that would reverse a recent hike in federal student loan interest rates, lowering them to 3.86 percent for undergraduates in the new school year.

The House voted 392-31 in favor of the bill that will switch interest rates to a market-based system.

The bill pegs interest rates on student loans to the 10-year Treasury note plus 2.05 percentage points for undergraduates, and plus 3.6 percentage points for graduate loans.


Marriage equality begins at midnight in MInnesota and Rhode Island


Congratulations to the LGBT communities in Minnesota and Rhode Island as marriage equality becomes a reality at midnight tonight.

In Rhode Island, Lee Swislow, GLAD’s executive director made the following statement: “Congratulations to all of the loving, committed Rhode Island couples who can now marry and enjoy the dignity and security of having their marriage recognized at home and by the federal government. We are joyful and proud that each of the six New England states recognizes the freedom to marry for same-sex couples.”

GLAD was an active part of the coalition that worked for many years to secure marriage rights for same-sex couples in Rhode Island through legal work, public education, and providing strategic expertise.

Some people in Rhode Island can't see the writing on the wall, though, as one man tried to get a temporary restraining order in place to stop the upcoming nuptials:

Ronald L’Heureux, a cofounder of the Faith Alliance to Preserve the Sanctity of Marriage as Defined by God, brought a petition and complaint to the court on Tuesday morning and sought a temporary restraining order to stop the law from taking effect. Judge Daniel A. Procaccini denied the request, saying L’Heureux had fallen “far short” of the criteria needed to obtain a temporary restraining order, said court spokesman Craig Berke.

Instead, Procaccini scheduled a preliminary hearing for Aug. 9.

L’Heureux’s complaint, which names Governor Chafee, state Department of Health Director Michael Fine and 75 state lawmakers who voted for same-sex marriage as defendants, argues that legalizing same-sex marriage will violate religious freedoms guaranteed by the state Constitution, forcing people to accept, in public spheres such as schools, a practice that they oppose based on their faith.
“It violates the Constitution and causes irreparable harm, and once it passes they’re going to teach my children and grandchildren conduct that’s reprehensible to my faith,” said L’Heureux, who represented himself in court.

With gay marriages becoming legal in Minnesota on Thursday, courthouses in major cities across the state will be open after midnight to accommodate dozens of same-sex couples eager to tie the knot.

"It's good for our business," says Ron Stein, a jeweler in Minneapolis, where the mayor plans to conduct weddings for approximately 40 couples. "We've had orders already."

NPR Minnesota reports that the city of Minneapolis is hosting an extravaganza at City Hall tonight where Mayor R.T. Rybak will officiate at the marriage of 42 same-sex couples. The celebration, which will stretch well into Thursday morning, includes performances by local musicians, a brass quintet and a reception at the nearby Hotel Minneapolis.

In recent days, the Minneapolis Star Tribune has published articles about the coming "boon" to the state's wedding industry, as well as the phenomenon of same-sex couples facing the same sort of pre-wedding "jitters" long known to straight couples.


MSNBC's Thomas Roberts on Anthony Weiner's sexting friend: This chick is so batshit



I hate to even share this because I like Thomas Roberts a lot. But it really just goes to prove that he's human like everyone else and he was just saying what he thought.

Roberts did make an on-air apology for his language later in the broadcast.

"Embrace Life" - A campaign encouraging seatbelt use



"Wear your seatbelt" campaign in the UK.

No words.

Creative and powerful.

Photo gallery - CHICAGO the Musical in performance at Hollywood Bowl

Last set of pictures from my little adventure back into "CHICAGO-land." Some backstage snaps and some bits of the show in performance.

Thanks for taking the ride with me.

The cover of the Entertainment section of the LA Times

Ashlee Simpson, Samantha Barks, Randy Slovacek - with a photobombing Stephen Moyer
Backstage with Ashlee Simpson, Samantha Barks and Stephen Moyer,
who I found out is a serial "photobomber" :)

Opening day after final dress rehearsal - entire cast and creative team of CHICAGO at the Bowl

With Drew Carey backstage

With the dapper Stephen Moyer backstage
Backstage with the luminous Lucy Lawless

Closing night party pic with the fab Brooke Shields, our director

Michael gets his pic with Brooke Shields

Stephen Moyer and Anna Pacquin with MIchael Caprio at closing night party of CHICAGO
We LOVE True Blood at our house.  Michael was beside himself that he got this pic
with Stephen Moyer and Anna Pacquin at the closing night party

Samantha Barks as "Velma Kelly" in CHICAGO

Courtroom scene of CHICAGO - me "swearing in" Drew Carey

"We Both Reached For the Gun" with Ashlee Simpson and Stephen Moyer

Samantha Barks and company - "All That Jazz"

"Razzle Dazzle" with Stephen Moyer

"After 47 years, a Cook County precedent has been shattered..."

When Anthony Weiner's campaign implodes, it IMPLODES


In a rant rarely seen in a political circles, Anthony Weiner’s communications director Barbara Morgan went off the rails while talking to a reporter at Talking Points Memo.

Former intern for the Weiner campaign, Olivia Nuzzi, published a story on the blog NSFWCORP, which then landed her on the front cover of the Daily News.

On a call to TPM about an unrelated issue, Morgan apparently roared on and on about Nuzzi and her article:

“Fucking slutbag. Nice fucking glamour shot on the cover of the Daily News. Man, see if you ever get a job in this town again,” said Morgan.

According to Morgan, Nuzzi stopped interning for the campaign “like four weeks ago.” Nuzzi’s story on NSFWCORP described her as having spent “four weeks” as a Weiner intern. When asked whether the claims in Nuzzi’s stories were true, Morgan suggested many of them were “bullshit.”

“It’s all bullshit,” she said. “I mean, it’s such bullshit. She could fucking — fucking twat.”

According to Morgan, Nuzzi's job performance left much to be desired.

“She sucked. She like wasn’t good at setting up events. She was clearly there because she wanted to be seen. Like it was, like, terrible and I had to like - she would like, she would just not show up for work,” said Morgan. “For the four weeks she worked there — she didn’t work weekends, so twenty days total. Of those twenty days, she missed probably five because she would just like not show up and not tell me she wasn’t going to be there. So, yeah, so there’s that.”

Morgan also expressed disbelief that Nuzzi criticized her credentials.

“And then like she had the fucking balls to like trash me in the paper. And be like, ‘His communications director was last the press secretary of the Department of Education in New Jersey,” Morgan said. “You know what? Fuck you, you little cunt. I’m not joking, I am going to sue her.”

Late last night, Morgan issued a statement to Business Insider about the screed:

“In a moment of frustration, I used inappropriate language in what I thought was an off the record conversation. It was wrong and I am very sorry, which is what I said tonight when I called and emailed Olivia to apologize,” said Morgan.

(via TalkingPointsMemo)

Sting and Robert Downey Jr. - "Driven To Tears"



Robert Downey Jr just got that much cooler.

I'd never seen this until now. RDJ sings at Sting's 60th birthday bash at Beacon Theatre in New York, 2011. Other guests who joined the policeman included Lady Gaga, Stevie Wonder and Bruce Springsteen.

(via Boreme.com)

Popular parody - Kristin Chenoweth skewers Anthony Weiner's NYC mayoral bid



You KNOW it's over when this happens...

NJ Gov. Chris Christie to Sen. Rand Paul - You're the pork barrel state, not NJ



Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul recently referred to Gov. Christie and folks in New Jersey as "gimme, gimme, gimme" in terms of wanting government help after Hurricane Sandy.

This was Gov. Christie's response.

BAM.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The New York Times editorializes on Putin's "war on gays"

Graphic via Memeographs

"The United State needs to be more forceful.  So does the International Olympic Committee, which too often fails to defend the Olympic ideals and should be leading a full-throated international campaign to insist that Russia repeal these laws." - New York Times editorial board July 27, 2013

Ashlee Simpson and the men of CHICAGO: "Roxie"


For those folks who've emailed asking for clips from CHICAGO at the Hollywood Bowl, here's a pretty decent video of the number "Roxie."

I wish they didn't zoom in quite so much so you got a better sense of the staging, but you get the idea :)

Thanks everyone for the support about my participation in the production. Much appreciated.


NYC: Tony Award winner Billy Porter to kick off new "Monday Musicals at XL"

The owners of XL Nightclub have just announced that they will be 'taking over' Musical Mondays, renamed "Monday Musicals," and will kick off with an exciting lineup of special events beginning with a performance by Tony Award winning Kinky Boots star Billy Porter on August 12th.

XL Nightclub will carry the concept of 'Musical Mondays' enhanced, supercharged and dubbed "Monday Musicals at XL," to the Hell¹s Kitchen hotspot housed within THE OUT NYC urban resort.

For reservations, more information and the club¹s complete calendar of events, please visit www.xlnightclub.com, call 212.239.2999 or email info@xlnightclub.com.

More info at BroadwayWorld.com

Nick Jonas shares shirtless post-workout pic on Instagram


Nick Jonas shows off his buff shirtless body in this post-workout photo he posted on Instagram today.

“I never do this but… Healthy living and fitness update. Post workout picture. #diabeticinshape #2.0,” the Jonas Brothers singer captioned the photo.

The Jonas Brothers are currently on tour around the United States.

Eileen Brennan passes away at the age of 80


Veteran actress Eileen Brennan, best known for her roles in Private Benjamin, The Sting and The Last Picture Show, has died.

Brennan passed away Sunday of bladder cancer according to reports. She was 80. Brennan received a best supporting actress Oscar nomination for her role as tough Captain Doreen Lewis in Private Benjamin opposite Goldie Hawn. She also reprised the role for the CBS TV adaptation, winning an Emmy and Golden Globe for her performance.

Brennan made her feature film debut in 1967′s Divorce American Style.

Her most memorable film roles include brothel madam Billie in George Roy Hill’s Oscar-winning 1973 film The Sting and Mrs. Peacock in 1985′s Clue.

She also appeared in Peter Bogdanovich’s classic 1971 film The Last Picture Show for which she received a best supporting actress BAFTA nomination, and his 1974 adaptation of the Henry James novella Daisy Miller.

As most Broadway music theater fans know, Brennan also created the role of "Irene Malloy" in the Jerry Herman mega-hit Hello, Dolly!

Carol Channing commented today on Brennan's passing, saying:

"Eileen was a brilliant actress and I respected her work. I truly wish we had kept more in contact over the years," Channing said. "As is the case in this industry, you so often lose touch with each other. She will be missed."

RIP Eileen Brennan.

(source)

Jackie Chan is STILL alive

Jackie Chan is dead - not quite the accurate headline just yet.  Jackie Chan is still very much alive.

For the past few days, rumors have spread on Twitter that “Rush Hour” star and martial arts superstar Jackie Chan died after falling from a 12-story building while filming a stunt in an unspecified movie project. Fortunately, the rumor was just a hoax, but that hasn’t stopped countless Twitter accounts from posting the false information.

“Hollywood Breaking News - Jackie Chan died after perfecting a deadly stunt. Jackie Chan falls from a building,” user Drheartbeat7 wrote on Monday, linking to a less-than-credible Facebook fan page disguising itself as a celebrity news site.

Other users picked up the rumor and ran with it.

“R.I.P. Jackie Chan. Talented man & amazing entertainer. He'll be sorely missed,” user DulceThoughts wrote on Monday.

“So it's really real Jackie Chan died smh R.I.P.!” wrote Shiiguyy.

It's the second Chan death hoax this year. In June, nearly the same rumor began circulating on Twitter, leading Chan to personally deny it. Chan posted a short note on his Facebook alongside a picture of him holding that day’s newspaper, proving he was still around.

(source)

Bradley Manning acquitted of "Aiding the enemy" charge

Bradley Manning

Bradley Manning, the former Army intelligence officer who released thousands of classified government documents to WikiLeaks, was acquitted of aiding the enemy — the most serious charge against him that potentially carried a life sentence — on Tuesday, according to NBC.

Manning was, however, found guilty of another 19 charges, including 5 counts of espionage.

Col. Denise Lind, the judge in Manning's court martial trial, announced the verdict Tuesday morning in Fort Meade, Md.

Manning had already pleaded guilty to 10 charges that carry prison sentences up to 20 years, as well as a dishonorable discharge, reports NBC.

Manning, 25, who is openly gay, was convicted of violating military code, including failing to obey an order or regulation, reports NBC.

Manning could face up to 125 years in prison as a result of the other charges of which he was found guilty, including "espionage."

(source)

Stephen Colbert roasts FreedomWorks on "burning ObamaCare cards" campaign

Stephen Colbert takes on uber-conservative anti-ObamaCare FreedomWorks folks who are encouraging people to "burn their ObamaCare cards."

Of course, as Colbert reminds us, there's no such thing.

Check the video below.

"Wine, please..."


Lea Michele tweets on the death of Cory Monteith

"Thank you all for helping me through this time with your enormous love & support. Cory will forever be in my heart."

"Thank you all for helping me through this time with your enormous love & support. Cory will forever be in my heart." - tweeted by Lea Michele, breaking her silence since Cory Monteith's passing

New music: Avicii Wake Me Up



Via the press release:

Today, two-time Grammy-nominated superstar, Avicii and Denim & Supply Ralph Lauren will release the first co-produced official music video for "Wake Me Up," the first single from Avicii's September 17th album, TRUE (PRMD/Island Records).

The video was directed by celebrated American photographer Mark Seliger, and merges the hallmarks of Avicii's driving beats and uplifting melodies with the free-spirited aesthetic of the Denim & Supply Ralph Lauren brand. Produced by At Night Studios, the "Wake Me Up" video tells a universal story about belonging and finding your place in the world.

"Wake Me Up" is a provocative new sound for Avicii and has been met with huge critical and commercial success with over one million downloads worldwide: "Wake Me Up" debuted at #1 in 47 countries, including the UK where it set a new record for the fastest-selling single of 2013!

Madonna releases video tease for her #secretproject



"Democracy doesn't seem to exist anymore."

"I know what you're thinking."

"Don't you see a pattern here?"

"I feel that people are becoming more and more afraid of people who are different."

"People are becoming more and more intolerant."

Find lots of Madge news here.

US Citizenship and Immigration Services updates FAQ to include same-sex couples


The USCIS has updated their FAQs page on same-sex marriage. Here are the first two Q & As:

Q1: I am a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident in a same-sex marriage to a foreign national. Can I now sponsor my spouse for a family-based immigrant visa?
A1: Yes, you can file the petition. You may file a Form I-130 (and any applicable accompanying application). Your eligibility to petition for your spouse, and your spouse’s admissibility as an immigrant at the immigration visa application or adjustment of status stage, will be determined according to applicable immigration law and will not be automatically denied as a result of the same-sex nature of your marriage.

Q2. I am a U.S. citizen who is engaged to be married to a foreign national of the same sex. Can I file a fiancé or fiancée petition for him or her?
A2. Yes. You may file a Form I-129F. As long as all other immigration requirements are met, a same-sex engagement may allow your fiancé to enter the United States for marriage.

You have no idea how happy it makes me to read that.

Forward.

(via JMG)

Monday, July 29, 2013

Pope Francis on gays - "Who am I to judge?"


Pope Francis today refused to condemn gay people during a conversation with reporters on his return flight from Brazil.

From Associated Press:

Pope Francis reached out to gays on Monday, saying he wouldn't judge priests for their sexual orientation in a remarkably open and wide-ranging news conference as he returned from his first foreign trip.

"If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?" Francis asked.

While stressing Catholic social teaching that calls for homosexuals to be treated with dignity and not marginalized, Francis said it was something else entirely to conspire to use private information for blackmail or to exert pressure.

Francis was responding to reports that a trusted aide was involved in an alleged gay tryst a decade ago. He said he investigated the allegations according to canon law and found nothing to back them up. But he took journalists to task for reporting on the matter, saying the allegations concerned matters of sin, not crimes like sexually abusing children.

Lady Gaga unveils artwork for first single, "Applause," from upcoming album

Lady Gaga tweeted the cover artwork for her new upcoming single "Applause'

Via press release:

Multi-platinum and Grammy Award-winning artist Lady Gaga has announced that the first single from her long-awaited forthcoming album/app ARTPOP is "Applause", and has released its single artwork shot by Inez & Vinoodh.

"Applause" will be available worldwide beginning August 19th, and is the first single from the pop icon's highly anticipated fourth studio album/app ARTPOP, which will hit stores around the world on November 11th through Streamline/Interscope Records.

Lady Gaga is set to perform "Applause" for the first time at this year's MTV Video Music Awards, from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY on August 25th.

Trayvon Martin - "Imagine"

Marriage News Watch - July 29, 2013



From the American Foundation for Equal Rights:

It's been a busy week, with marriages suddenly recognized in some unexpected states. But it's unclear how long those victories will last. Meanwhile, state officials in other states are refusing to defend marriage bans. And as always, we have more favorable polling numbers.

Russia: Lawmaker says government cannot "suspend" anti-gay laws for the 2014 Sochi Games

Anti-gay Russian legislator Vitaly Milonov
BBC's Russian-language service has posted a story quoting the co-sponsor of Russia's "homosexual propaganda" bill, who says that the government does not have the power to selectively suspend enforcement during the Sochi Olympics, as was suggested they would to the International Olympic Committee last week:

St. Petersburg legislator Vitaly Milonov of the [ruling - ed.] United Russia Party has asked the government to refrain from selectively enforcing the law on "gay propaganda," which he co-sponsored. On Friday, the International Olympic Committee informed journalists that the Russian government had assured the safety of all athletes and spectators without respect to their sexual orientation.

"I haven't heard any comments from the government of the Russian Federation, but I know that it is acting in accordance with Russian law. And if a law has been approved by the federal legislature and signed by the president, then the government has no right to suspend it. It doesn't have the authority," said Milonov in an interview with Interfax. Further, during an interview with "Ekho Moskvy" the legislator claimed that the law on "defending children from propaganda of non-traditional values," for which he lobbied, has nothing to do with "the ordinary life of adults" [whatever that means - ed.], adding that he personally doesn't know any LGBT athletes.

Poll: 52% of Americans support marriage equality


In a new poll from Gallup, 52% of Americans say they support a Federal law making same-sex marriage legal in all fifty states.

43% say they oppose such legislation.

The good guys continue to lead. Yay!

NBC announces Hillary Clinton mini-series to star Diane Lane


NBC has announced a mini-series about Hillary Clinton which will star Diane Lane:

NBC announced here on Saturday that it was preparing a four-hour mini-series based on the life of Mrs. Clinton and hoped to broadcast it before any possible formal declaration that she was running. That would avoid the possibility of other candidates demanding equal time, said Robert Greenblatt, NBC’s top entertainment executive.

Mr. Greenblatt said NBC bought the project even though it had no script yet, though the deal came with a star attached: Diane Lane, who was nominated for an Academy Award in 2003 for her leading role in the film “Unfaithful.” The Clinton project will be written and directed by Courtney Hunt, who was nominated for an Oscar for writing the film “Frozen River.”

NBC’s release described the project as a mini-series that would “recount Clinton’s life as a wife, politician and cabinet member from 1998 to present.” That would include her run for the presidential nomination in 2008.

A spokesperson for Clinton declined to comment on the series, saying he had been unaware of its development. Get ready for the right-wing to issue its usual rants about the mainstream media colluding with Democrats.

(h/t JMG)

Louisiana Sheriff claims he didn't know anti-sodomy laws were declared unconstitutional ten years ago

East Baton Rouge Sheriff Sid J. Gautreaux

A dozen gay men have been arrested since 2011 by the Sheriff’s Office task force for merely discussing or agreeing to have consensual sex with an undercover agent. Not prostitution, as no money ever changed hands; and not sex in a public place - just consensual sex between two adults in the privacy of a home.

From the Advocate:

An undercover East Baton Rouge Parish sheriff’s deputy was staking out Manchac Park about 10 a.m. one day this month when a slow-moving sedan pulling into the parking lot caught his attention. The deputy parked alongside the 65-year-old driver and, after denying being a cop, began a casual conversation that was electronically monitored by a backup team nearby.

As the two men moved their chat to a picnic table, the deputy propositioned his target with “some drinks and some fun” back at his place, later inquiring whether the man had any condoms, according to court records. After following the deputy to a nearby apartment, the man was handcuffed and booked into Parish Prison on a single count of attempted crime against nature.

The Sheriff now says he didn't know the law was invalidated by the Supreme Court.

"To our knowledge, the Sheriff’s office was never contacted or told that the law was not enforceable or prosecutable," a statement from the Sheriff's Office claims. It was issued Sunday after The Advocate newspaper in Louisiana exposed the illegal undercover sting operation.

That explanation doesn't square with Metro Councilman John Delgado.

“Does he know that slavery is no longer around?” an outraged Delgado told The Advocate newspaper in Louisiana. “Does he know that we have cars and no longer horse and buggies?”

The newspaper now reports that Delgado is demanding apologies be issued to the 12 men who were arrested, one as recent as this month.

(via the Advocate)

UPDATE:

On Monday, Sheriff Sid J. Gautreaux III issued a statement apologizing “to anyone that was unintentionally harmed or offended by the actions of our investigations.”

The sheriff said that he had instructed his employees to no longer use “this unconstitutional law,” and that he was conducting “a comprehensive evaluation of undercover operations made by our deputies and will make changes to ensure better supervision, training and guidance.”

Think Progress points out that 14 U.S. states still have anti-sodomy laws on the books despite their unconstitutionality.

Major broadcast company planning to drop Hannity and Limbaugh


In a major shakeup for the radio industry, Cumulus Media, the second-biggest broadcaster in the country, is planning to drop both Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity from its stations at the end of the year, an industry source told POLITICO on Sunday.

Cumulus has decided that it will not renew its contracts with either host, the source said, a move that would remove the two most highly rated conservative talk personalities from more than 40 Cumulus channels in major markets.

More at Politico

Sarah Palin: I was muzzled by GOP 'brainiacs'



I'm not so sure how "muzzled" or "censored" the former half-term governor of Alaska was back in the 2008 campaign considering she became famous for "going rogue" back then, with comments about Obama "palling around with terrorists" and more.

And it seems like everything she mentions in this clip she actually DID talk about on the campaign trail.

Sounds like someone is still mad. Five years later...

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Variety reviews "CHICAGO the Musical" at the Hollywood Bowl

Photo: Craig Mathew/Mathew Imaging

Variety reviews CHICAGO the Musical at the Hollywood Bowl:

"The impossibly triple-jointed Fosse-style choreography — originally recreated by Reinking, here marshaled skillfully by Gregory Butler — also stands out clearly, requiring less reliance on the ubiquitous Jumbotron views than usual."

"She (director Brooke Shields) earns kudos for her handling of the ensemble, who prowl hungrily around the action to invest punchlines, caricatures and carny shtick with unflagging relish. Carrying through original helmer Bobbie’s use of the chorus as side commentators, Shields must deal with almost double the stage expanse but pulls off the living environment with utter lack of strain."

Read the entire review at Variety.

Tim McGraw posts "end of tour" shirtless workout pic

A shirtless Tim McGraw poses for the camera after a final tour workout with his band and crew

Tim McGraw posted on his Facebook page an "end of tour" shirtless workout pic with his band and crew.

Lots of hard work goes into staying healthy and fit. And touring doesn't make it any easier. Cool to see that Tim continued to make this a priority throughout his 2 Lanes of Freedom Tour.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

New Rutgers University athletic director comes out

Newly hired Rutgers athletic director Julie Hermann comes out as gay: "I'm really blessed to have a wonderful family, and we're excited to become part of the Rutgers community."

The last sentence of Hermann's 453-word bio on Rutgers' official website says: "Hermann and her partner Dr. Leslie Danehy are the proud parents of a seven-year-old son, Aidan."

Hermann is one of a few known athletic directors in Division I who has publicly acknowledged she is gay. She is one of only three current female ADs at the FBS level.

Ben Cohen in 2000 Nike commercial - "No limits"



Ben Cohen appearing in a Nike ad 13 years ago.

Even then the LGBT ally had a message of positivity and "no limits."

What a hero.

Madonna's first album debuted 30 years ago today


JoeMyGod notes that Madonna's first album was released by Sire Records thirty years ago today. Rolling Stone noticed the release two months later:

Madonna, who crashed onto the dance charts last year with "Everybody," has a voice that takes some getting used to. At first, it doesn't sound like much at all. Then you notice its one distinguishing feature, a girlish hiccup that the singer uses over and over until it's irritating as hell. Finally, you get hooked, and you start looking forward to that silly little catch in her voice. It helps that she writes good tunes — catchy and bare to the bone. It helps even more that her album is pristinely produced by Reggie Lucas. Electric keyboards have the clarity of finger chimes. The bass slaps the backbeat like shoes on pavement. Mind you, it's simple stuff: "I'm burnin' up/Burnin' up for your love," or "Holiday/Celebrate." But it's clever at times, too. "Physical Attraction" is practically a capsule history of high-school proms, with its sly references to the Association's "Cherish" and Olivia Newton-John's "Physical." There are lots of blue-eyed soul belters with more generous voices and more intricate songs — Teena Marie comes quickly to mind. Still, without overstepping the modest ambitions of minimal funk, Madonna issues an irresistible invitation to the dance.

In the United States, the album was released on July 27, 1983. It entered the Billboard 200 albums chart at number 190, the week of September 3, 1983. The album had a slow and steady climb, and peaked at eight on the Billboard 200 on the week ending October 20, 1984, almost a year after its release.

The album has sold more than ten million copies worldwide.

The first single - "Everybody" - was released in advance of the album:

"All That Jazz" from CHICAGO at the Hollywood Bowl



Here's the opening number from CHICAGO the Musical at the Hollywood Bowl opening night.

Samantha Barks and the company in "All That Jazz."

I appreciate that someone posted it, although I wish they'd pulled back a bit so you could the whole number as the directors intended.

But here you go... :)

More NYC bars joing the #DumpRussianVodka campaign


From the Facebook page of The Eagle NYC:

"Beginning immediately, the Eagle NYC will discontinue the sale of STOLI and any alcoholic product produced in Russia in protest of Russia's anti-gay bill banning the "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations". This archaic bill effectively strips every LGBTQ member in Russia of basic human rights and puts gays in danger of being harmed or even killed because of the anti-gay fervor created by the bill. The bill even applies to tourists. The Russian government is pandering to its constituents basest characteristics in an attempt to elevate it's own image.

"The Eagle NYC denounces the bill and will continue to support gay rights at home and abroad."

Three other NYC venues with the same owner will reportedly join the boycott: Industry, Elmo, Barracuda.

Desmond Tutu: "I would refuse to go to a homophobic heaven"

Graphic via Memeographs
The United Nation's has launched a global campaign for the LGBT rights during a meeting in South Africa.

At the launch announcement was Archbishop Desmond Tutu:

South Africa's Nobel peace laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu says he will never worship a "homophobic God" and will rather go to hell.

The retired archbishop was speaking at the launch of a UN-backed campaign in South Africa to promote gay rights.

Archbishop Tutu said the campaign against homophobia was similar to the campaign waged against racism in South Africa. "I am as passionate about this campaign as I ever was about apartheid. For me, it is at the same level," he added.

International Olympic Committee says Russian anti-gay laws won't affect athletes & fans at Sochi Games


The International Olympic Committee has issued a statement that it has received "assurances from the highest level" of the Russian government that athletes and fans that attend the Sochi Olympic Games will not be subject to the national ban on "promoting homosexuality."

“As a sporting organization, what we can do is to continue to work to ensure that the Games can take place without discrimination against athletes, officials, spectators and the media,” the IOC said in an emailed statement. “To that end, the IOC has received assurances from the highest level of government in Russia that the legislation will not affect those attending or taking part in the Games.”

The IOC added that “this legislation has just been passed into law, and it remains to be seen whether and how it will be implemented, particularly as regards the Games in Sochi.” While the law’s proponents argue that it is aimed at protecting children from harmful influences, critics allege that the move is part of a broader crackdown on Russia’s gay community. Russia has come under international criticism, including from the European Court of Human Rights, for its treatment of gay people.

NBC said this to Buzzfeed regarding the IOC's statement :

“NBCUniversal strongly supports equal rights and the fair treatment for all people. The spirit of the Olympic Games is about unifying people and countries through the celebration of sport and it is our hope that spirit will prevail,” NBCUniversal senior vice president of corporate communications Cameron Blanchard told BuzzFeed Friday evening.

Geidner reports that NBC noted that the Olympics are still seven months away and that "specific coverage plans are yet to be finalized."

(via JMG)

HRC calls on NBC to expose anti-gay laws in Russia during Olympics


The Human Rights Campaign is calling on NBC, the official broadcaster of the Olympic Games, to call out Russia’s anti-gay policies during their telecast.  

Chad Griffin says “NBCUniversal, which has the exclusive rights to broadcast the Olympics in the United States, has a unique opportunity — and a responsibility — to expose this inhumane and unjust law to the millions of American viewers who will tune in to watch the Games.’

Read the full letter here


(via TheBackLot.com)

Skyy Vodka - "Cheers to Equality"


Riffing on the #DumpRussianVodka campaign, Skyy Vodka points out their US origins AND support for the LGBT community in a recent tweet.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Mind over (20lbs of) matter

Picture taken today - 5am,  July 26, 2013

So, seven weeks ago I was asked, as I've shared before, to be a part of the Hollywood Bowl production of CHICAGO The Musical. My first full production gig onstage in 8 years. And tonight is opening night.

Many regular readers of The Randy Report know that in another life I was an actor and dancer on Broadway; something I loved and am very proud of.  It was flattering to be asked to be a part of this amazing production directed by Brooke Shields, choreographed by Greg Butler, with music direction by Emmy Award nominee Rob Fisher.

This came at a good time for me. I was approaching my 50th birthday, I had grown 20 lbs out of shape, and I needed incentive/inspiration to take charge of my health, fitness and nutrition.

So I happily accepted the chance to be onstage again, and made a decision to get back into my former dancing shape and weight. The goal was to pull it up, discipline myself, lose 20 lbs, reorganize my approach to nutrition and GET. IT. DONE.

Not for ego.

For myself. For perspective on life.

For me.

I was going to take charge of something, make myself accountable, and meet this goal.

And, I was going to take a picture of my weight on the scale to MAKE me accountable for really reaching this goal. 

The last time I was onstage in a full theater production was in 2005;  I was inshape and 150 lbs.  My goal was to get back to that fitness level (without chemical assistance, I might add).  That meant getting back to 150 lbs.  There would be NO not meeting the goal.

This post is my celebration of all these things, and the universe collaborating with me for everything to come together.  And not only "come together," but at the right time to mean something to me.

The pictures here are not about "hey look at me, I think I'm hot." I get to hang with Chippendales occasionally, so I know what "hot" is and I don't think I'm that.  Clearly I could be in even better shape.

But - I promised myself I'd post the "before and after" pic no matter what I looked on the day of my self-imposed deadline -  opening night of CHICAGO.  Pressure.

The "before and after" pics below are completely un-retouched. NO Photoshop (much to my chagrin - I can't believe I'm posting them). This isn't a p90x or INSANITY ad; no body oil or professional lighting.  I'm guessing I'd look better if it were.  These are simple iPhone pics.

The results are a combination of changes in my nutrition, lifestyle and mindset. Nothing spectacular, but the results are mine.

I'm sharing this to show that we all can set and achieve goals - no matter who you are, no matter what age you are.

I'm proud that I didn't give up - which I wanted to often.  So many times, it crossed my mind to acquiesce and say "well, 152 lbs or 151 lbs is ok..."  But every time, I looked my goal in the eye and said "I will not NOT meet this.  I WILL do this." 

So, here we are, kids.  Opening night and I've reached this goal.  I feel good.  The show (not talking about me here) is so fab.  The cast is beautiful and talented, and our director and creative team have given us all we need.  Moments like these are gifts, and I can't wait for tonight.

And my next goal.

No fear.

Forward.

Seven weeks ago (L) & today at 5am (R) completely unretouched
I can't believe I'm posting this...

Back in CHICAGO The Musical costume, with a little CHICAGO attitude :)
I take none of this for granted. Thank you, universe.

NYC: Mayoral hopeful Anthony Weiner drops 9 points in new poll


In the New York City mayoral race, some expected shifting in standing has occurred regarding the current Democratic candidates. Christine Quinn has improved her position from 20% to 25%, and Anthony Weiner has quickly dropped 9 points.


Talking Points Memo has the ins and outs of the first poll taken since "Anthony Weiner 'sexting' scandal 2.0" hit the news:

Weiner's standing in the race has clearly slipped due to the scandal, though he's not entirely out of contention. The poll showed him in second place in the Democratic primary with 16 percent compared to 25 percent for City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and 14 percent for both Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and former Comptroller Bill Thompson. Prior to the scandal, Weiner had been leading his rivals in multiple polls. The last Marist poll, which was released June 26, had Weiner with 25 percent, Quinn with 20 percent for Quinn, and Thompson with 13 percent. Weiner has dropped nine points since then.

By city election law if no candidate gets 40% in the primary on September 10th, the top two finishers go into a runoff on September 24th.

(h/t JMG)

Liberty Council asks Facebook to "Like" stoning gays to death


Right Wing Watch reports that yesterday the virulently anti-gay Liberty Counsel asked its Facebook followers to "like" the above banner which cites the biblical call for homosexuals to be put to death

Since Right Wing Watch brought this to light, Liberty Council has removed the banner from its page and the image from its photo albums.

Brian Tashman writes: "We are eagerly awaiting Liberty Counsel’s other Facebook images on stoning women who had sex before marriage; adulterers; kids who curse their parents; blasphemers; sorcerers; Sabbath-breakers and false prophets." 

The banner now features the same image, but with the biblical notation of Matthew 19:4-6: "at the beginning the Creator made them male and female."