Video-Philes: June 2008: Archives

June 28, 2008

Spiral Up - Nathan's Story genre: Video-Philes

The following video is a trailer for a documentary titled, Spiral Up. The film's release date has yet to be established. The film was the idea of Scott Seskind, a social worker at a nursing home in Boulder where Nathan, the subject of the documentary (who also has Huntington's Disease) lives.

I first met Scott over a year ago when I responded to his Craigslist ad in search of a videographer. When I first spoke to Scott, he expressed his interest in making the film. Once we began filming, it was evident that Nathan was a remarkable person and it was also obvious why Scott had chosen to make the documentary.

Since then, we've been meeting, primarily on the weekends, and spending time filming Scott's conversations with Nathan and some of the other patients who know him at the nursing home.

While it can be said that we're documenting Nathan's battle with his disease...the real purpose, since the outset, has been to document his amazing spirit. You'll note in the trailer that Scott has pondered his motivations for making the film. Trust me when I say that he needn't do so...and anyone who takes the time to see Spiral Up will quickly realize that Nathan's story needed to be told.

In addition to posting the trailer here, I've featured it above in the "Front & Center" curtain section of Thought Theater. I hope you'll take the time to watch the trailer and tell others to stop by and do the same.

Tagged as: Boe Kennedy, Documentary, Film, Huntington's Disease, Nathan, Scott Seskind, Spiral Up, Trailer

Daniel DiRito | June 28, 2008 | 4:59 PM | link | Comments (0)
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June 24, 2008

The Onion: "Supremes" Think Death Penalty Is Totally Badass genre: Do Not Resuscitate & Tongue-In-Cheek & Video-Philes

The Supreme Court recently took up the question of whether lethal injection was an acceptable means of enforcing the death penalty. In the following video, The Onion has a little fun with the topic.

Suffice it to say that this Onion segment suggests that the Supreme Court is made up of some "totally badass" justices.

NOTE: The video contains some language that may not be suitable for children or the office.

Tagged as: Anthony Kennedy, Comedy, Death Penalty, Ginsberg, Humor, John Roberts, Lethal Injection, Sam Alito, Scalia, Supreme Court, The Onion

Daniel DiRito | June 24, 2008 | 5:10 PM | link | Comments (0)
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June 19, 2008

Mika - Lollipop & Billy Brown genre: Gaylingual & Tuned Out & Uncivil Unions & Video-Philes

Mika, born in Lebanon and currently living in London, doesn't get a lot of mainstream attention in the States. I've included two of his videos below. The first is for the song, Lollipop, an infectious upbeat tune with a fun animated video that just seems appropriate for the start of summer. I'll come back to the meaning of the song in a moment.

The second video isn't actually the music video for the song, Billy Brown...but it does a good job in telling the song's story. In fact, there isn't an official video for the song since one was never released. The song, in my opinion, tells the story of a man who struggles to accept his homosexuality.

That brings me back to Lollipop. There has been a fair share of buzz about Mika's sexuality, a subject he has not chosen to address. Some have speculated that he's gay but doesn't disclose that fact as it could hinder his popular appeal in the United States. He points to Billy Brown as evidence that he isn't shying away from sexual orientation.

Let me be clear. Mika's sexual orientation is irrelevant to me but to the extent that issues of orientation may influence the songs he performs makes my psychology wheels spin. In this particular instance, call it instinct, intuition, or gaydar...but whatever it is, I find the content of his songs fascinating. Both of these songs talk about love and relationships...with a focus on a lack of fulfillment as well as a measure of preoccupation with norms and conventionality.

Granted, Lollipop is far more gender and orientation neutral than Billy Brown, but what I hear in both songs is the undertones of a personal that leaves the protagonist is a state of limbo. If he follows his heart, he'll have to endure the whispers and judgments of others...if he conforms, he can fit in but he'll be denied the happiness he seeks.

Hence, he vacillates between the two, which I view as akin to the back and forth of a pendulum...always struggling to find the center...but always overshooting the mark in an endless battle for a measure of constance and comfort. In other words, the center is safe but often wholly meaningless. Mika's song, Stuck in the Middle, reveals more of this concept. The lyrics can be found here.

One line captures the essence of what I'm talking about. When Mika sings, "Oh Billy Brown you are a victim of the times", I hear the angst I've described above. Whether that angst is Mika's or simply the words expressed in a song he sings, I don't know. Regardless, the song succeeds in capturing real feelings that I suspect resonate for many in the gay community.

You can find the video for Happy Endings here and the video for Grace Kelly can be found here.

Mika - Lollipop

Mika - Billy Brown

Tagged as: Billy Brown, Grace Kelly, Happy Endings, LGBT, Lollipop, Mika, Music, Relationships, Stuck In The Middle

Daniel DiRito | June 19, 2008 | 12:20 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Has Mo Rocca Found The Michelle Obama "Whitey" Tape? genre: Polispeak & Tongue-In-Cheek & Video-Philes

What can I say? Just when I thought Mo Rocca had lost his comic mojo, he posts this "Do Not Drink Coffee While Watching" video. This is one of Mo Rocca's best offerings on the underbelly of the 2008 election.

If you're not familiar with brouhaha over the alleged Michelle Obama "Whitey" tape, the short story is that there's been a concerted effort on the internet suggesting that there is a video of Michelle Obama repeatedly using the derisive term. Of course, the primary source of this accusation has admitted that he's never actually seen the tape.

I don't know if a real tape will ever surface but this tongue-in-cheek version is priceless...and it also serves to question the veracity of those who continue to feed the rumor despite a complete lack of evidence.

Tagged as: 2008 Election, Barack Obama, Humor, Michelle Obama, Mo Rocca, Whitey

Daniel DiRito | June 19, 2008 | 10:49 AM | link | Comments (0)
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June 14, 2008

Right Wing Ralphie: Fighting For The Unmarried Status Of Gays genre: Gaylingual & Tongue-In-Cheek & Video-Philes

Sometimes the most effective means to combat the flawed argument of one's opposition is to make their argument for order to highlight just how absurd it is. In the following video, "Right Wing Ralphie" offers to help unsuspecting gays protect their separate quasi-marriage status from those who would grant them parity.

The video is from cartoonist Mark Fiore, and it does a good job tackling the recent Supreme Court ruling in California and the rhetoric of those supporting the upcoming ballot initiative aimed at overruling the court and preventing same-sex marriage.

Tagged as: Ballot Initiative, California, Cartoon, LGBT, Religion, Right Wing, Same-Sex Marriage, Supreme Court

Daniel DiRito | June 14, 2008 | 8:04 AM | link | Comments (0)
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June 12, 2008

Donna Summer On David Letterman - Stamp Your Feet genre: Tuned Out & Video-Philes

Despite Donna Summers unfortunate labeling as anti-gay back in the early 80's, she is undoubtedly an iconic figure in shaping the trajectory of the gay music scene. Summers has long denied the accusation that appeared in a New York publication and her support of AIDS related charities suggests she never abandoned her gay audience.

History aside, it's great to see her back with a new album titled Crayons. From what I've listened to, I think it has some real potential...especially in the dance club genre. Given the number of remixes that have already surfaced, I suspect the attention her new CD receives will only intensify.

I caught her recent performance on The Late Show with David Letterman and I've included video of that appearance below. From what I've seen, her voice is still intact and I wouldn't be surprised to see the song Stamp Your Feet achieve some measure of "gay anthem" status. I for one hope the gay community embraces this latest iteration of the "Bad Girl"


Here's some links you might want to check out:

To listen to more tracks from the CD:

One of the better remixes (IMO):

Stamp Your Feet Remix 08

Donna Summer On David Letterman

Tagged as: Bad Girl, David Letterman, Donna Summer, Gay, LGBT, Music, Stamp Your Feet, The Late Show

Daniel DiRito | June 12, 2008 | 10:23 AM | link | Comments (0)
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June 11, 2008

Fox News: Leading The Obama Smear Campaign? genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation & Video-Philes

Fox News likes to pretend that their reporting is fair and balanced. Unfortunately, the more they fear that the Democrats might defeat their beloved GOP, the more they exhibit their bias and serve as a shill for the party.

The degree to which their bias is evident took an exponential leap since Barack Obama became the presumptive Democratic candidate. In fact, it didn't take E.D. Hill long to infer that the "pound" (fist bump) Barack and Michelle exchanged could be interpreted as a "terrorist fist jab" (see the video clip below). Now I don't know about anyone else, but I knew what Barack and Michelle were doing the instant I saw it...and I am still trying to figure out exactly what a "terrorist fist jab" looks like.

Granted, had Barack and Michelle simultaneously raised and shook semi-automatic rifles in the air, I would have connected that with terrorists...but the gesture I witnessed couldn't be remotely associated with "extremist" body language.

As if that weren't enough hyperbole, Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly invited Michelle Malkin, a pillar of partisanship, to join her in a discussion on the efforts of a number of conservatives to make Michelle Obama an issue in the upcoming election. The Fox News modus operandi is to amplify any item they can find to raise doubt about those they oppose.

In this segment, Kelly opens the piece with a pointed and misleading segue when she states, "Well Michelle Obama is back in the news". In my opinion, the statement is an effort to infer that this report is a follow up to, or an extension of, the prior negative publicity on the Senator's wife. The truth of the matter is that Michelle Obama had neither said or done anything to draw the attention of the media.

In fact, Kelly proceeds to reference an anti-Obama documentary (that I doubt most voters have ever heard of) that is being compiled by a conservative group...that will "reportedly include" the clip of Michelle Obama commenting that she is, for the first time in her adult life, proud of America. So what we have is a piece designed to allow Fox News to reexamine any and all of the negative publicity that Michelle Obama has garnered.

Ah, but it gets even better. Throughout the segment, Fox News inserts taglines into its blue banner that are nothing short of inflammatory and one is, in my estimation, flat out racist. This use of taglines is a Fox strategy that happens all the time...and when challenged, it is defended as nothing more than the network repeating the statements made by others that are, of course, relevant to the discussion (according to Fox). Yes, they maintain plausible deniability...but I doubt an objective media/journalism critic would view the tactic as little more than purposeful and pungent propaganda catapulting.

With that said, I took the time to compile four still shots from the video to highlight the Fox New strategy (see the graphic below). The first derogatory tagline states, "Outraged Liberals: Stop Picking On Obama's Baby Mama!" Again, pardon my cynicism, but there's nothing accidental or uncertain about the insinuation delivered by this tag. The following four entries are the definitions one will find at Urban Dictionary for the term "baby mama"...and none of them are remotely complementary.

In fact, the racial overtones are palpable and it's clear they are intended to remind the viewer that the Obama's are African Americans...and thus connectable with all of the negative cultural stereotypes that might lead a voter to question the prudence of placing them in the White House.

1. baby mama

The mother of your child(ren), whom you did not marry and with whom you are not currently involved.

Oh her? She ain't nothing to me now, girl, she just my baby mama. So, can I get your number?

2. baby mama

A term used to define an unmarried young woman (but can be a woman of any age) who has had a child. As mentioned before in another definition, most of the time it is used for when it was simply a sexual relationship, compared to ex-wife or girlfriend. Usually this has a negative connotation, a lot of baby mamas are seen as desperate, gold digging, emotionally starved, shady women who had a baby out of spite or to keep a man. Sometimes they may act like this because of missed child support payments, unfulfilled promises by the father, or convenient sex by the father. Either or both may exist in any situation.

Joe didn't have any relationship with that chick, she was the "other woman" who ended up being his baby mama.

3. baby mama

single mother of a child

4. baby mama

Basically a woman you had a child or children with who you didnt marry and or no longer involved with. Usually associated with hoodrats and trailer park bitches.

The second tagline states, "Malkin Calls Michelle Obama's Bitter Half", which I suspect is again a reference to the Michelle Obama comment noted above. I believe it is also intended to invoke the rumored video that has been discussed on the internet for the better part of the last two weeks...a video that has curiously never been released for public viewing. As the story goes, according to a friend of a friend who saw the video, Michelle Obama is on tape railing against the the handling of a number of issues in America...all delivered with a notably racial bent. During the exchange, Kelly and Malkin discuss the possibility of other "unsubstantiated" internet rumors.

The other two stills I've included in the graphic were photos of Michelle Obama that were overlaid during the dialogue. While relatively innocuous, they represent images of Obama that I've never seen and that depict her differently than what one would expect to see if one had been watching the primaries. Whether there is any purpose in Fox News using two pictures in which she has a distinctly different hairstyle is open to debate.

Not long ago, "I wrote a similar piece called "The River Rafting Of Barack Obama", a title intended to invoke the swiftboating of John Kerry": At the time, the issue was Reverend Wright and a video that had appeared on YouTube designed to connect Senator Obama with the imagery of "the militant black agenda". In that posting, I speculated that backroom operatives in the GOP would do their best to capitalize on any such incidents. I was right as to intention...but little did I know that the messenger would be none other than Fox News. What a shameful development.

Still Shots From The Fox News Video


Fox News Video: Malkin On Michelle Obama

Fox News' E.D. Hill On The Obama "Terrorist Fist Jab"

Tagged as: 2008 Election, Baby Mama, Barack Obama, E.D. Hill, Fox News, GOP, Megyn Kelly, Michelle Malkin, Michelle Obama, Pound, Racism, Reverend Wright, Swiftboating

Daniel DiRito | June 11, 2008 | 9:23 PM | link | Comments (0)
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June 10, 2008

Reasons To Vote Republican? Yea, Right! genre: Polispeak & Video-Philes

If you have any doubts about voting Democratic this November, you might want to watch this video. Instead of telling you why to vote for the Democrats, this video lists a number of reasons why a person might want to vote for the Republicans. The purpose, of course, is to highlight the unacceptable positions held by many in the Republican Party.

It also serves to remind us what we could expect from the GOP if we chose to cast a protest vote for John McCain rather than support the Democratic nominee.

Tagged as: 2008 Election, GOP, Republican, Sarcasm, Satire

Daniel DiRito | June 10, 2008 | 11:08 PM | link | Comments (0)
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June 7, 2008

Mad TV: Sluts & The City genre: Tongue-In-Cheek & Video-Philes

Now that the Sex & The City movie is in theaters, I thought it would be fun to revisit Mad TV's treatment of the HBO hit. The title of the skit should serve as fair warning of what you can expect from this spoof. While this is one of the racier skits the Fox Network program has aired, it's also pretty funny.

Tagged as: Comedy, HBO, Humor, Mad TV, Sex & The City

Daniel DiRito | June 7, 2008 | 10:26 AM | link | Comments (4)
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June 6, 2008

The Daily Show: Kristen Schaal Takes On Media Sexism genre: Tongue-In-Cheek & Video-Philes

In the following video, Kristen Schaal points out the many instances of sexism that was directed towards Hillary Clinton. My favorite moment is when Kristen asks, "Who is that guy?" following right wing loon Laura Ingram's comment that we can't have a president who breaks down and cries. I guess she's never seen the many times George Bush has done the same.

I also like her extrapolation on the Tucker Carlson remark in which he infers that he involuntarily crossing his legs whenever he hears Senator Clinton speak. I'm not sure Tucker has anything to worry about. After all, one would first have to have a pair to worry about losing them.

Tagged as: Comedy, Hillary Clinton, Humor, Jon Stewart, Kristen Schaal, Laura Ingram, Media Bias, Misogyny, Sexism, The Daily SHow, Tucker Carlson

Daniel DiRito | June 6, 2008 | 11:31 AM | link | Comments (0)
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June 3, 2008

Steve Paikin Panel Discussion - Is Faith Inevitable? genre: Do Not Resuscitate & Hip-Gnosis & Video-Philes

The following video clips comprise a recent Steve Paikin program on Canadian television during which a panel discusses faith and the many beliefs people hold regarding the benefits of having faith. On the contrary, the panel looks at whether having faith in God or a higher being can make us better people.

Simply stated, many of the panelists point out that faith is a means to deal with uncertainty. In that construct, people are often able to assert some measure of control over their unrevealed destiny. However, it remains debatable if the insertion of faith is a valid endeavor in coping or simply an efficient method of denial to prevent the individual from confronting the fears of death.

As such, belief and faith may well be two different concepts. One of the panelist explains this important distinction when he points out that belief is subject to evidence and argument...while on the other hand noting that faith is often the ability to believe in something despite the evidence.

The counter argument to this perspective suggests that faith need not be a literalist equation and that it can serve a useful purpose if one foregoes the inclination to then turn around and use faith as the template for explaining all that they encounter. In other words, faith can be an effective tool in dealing with the existential nature of the human condition.

The discussion moves onto look at the atrocities committed in the name of faith or in direct rejection of, or opposition to, religion. In discussing the acts of Stalin and other political ideologies that have made religion the enemy, proponents of religion contend that atheism has, as evidenced by the acts of Marxists, been equally dogmatic and used for negative purposes.

Some of the atheists on the panel suggest that Marxism (and the other examples) is simply a clear demonstration of faith...meaning it was an adherence to a system or a set of beliefs that do little more than demonstrate a replication of the dangers of any form of faith. In other words, many of the political structures we've witnessed are often a form of surrogate or substitute theology.

"I've previously written about "Terror Management Theory"": The theory suggests that our human existence is primarily an attempt to deal with the fear (terror) that is created by the knowledge of our pending mortality. It seems to me that the bulk of all of our beliefs and actions spring forth from that innate awareness...and what we do with that awareness can lead to an array of decisions designed to cope with death. Faith and religion are simply one of the preferred constructs to achieve that goal.

Unfortunately, science has continued to provide evidence that contradicts the established religious beliefs designed to reduce that terror. At some point, as science explains more of our ways that undermine the Bible or other faith based doctrine...these two areas of thought are apt to become more adversarial. Finding a new equilibrium between the two is likely our prevailing task. We will either allow science to explain more of our existence in newly revealed ways, realize the benefits of adapting existing religious doctrine to allow for scientific discovery, or continue down the path of a growing division between science and religion.

Whether we can modify the rigid and/or literal interpretations that often form the basis for unyielding faith remains to be seen. Whether any new understanding of faith (religious ideology) modified by science....can be sufficient to allay the fears of death will undoubtedly play a major role in determining the degree to which society remains cohesive...and therefore successful.

Should the divide between science and religious ideology merely create more terror for those seeking explanations of their mortality...despite the advances made by science...we may well move towards increasing conflict and advancing animosity between those who elect to rely on faith and those who embrace science in managing their terror of mortality. In the end, the fact that death is inevitable remains our quintessential conundrum.

Is Faith Inevitable - Part One

Is Faith Inevitable - Part Two

Is Faith Inevitable - Part Three

Is Faith Inevitable - Part Four

Is Faith Inevitable - Part Five

Is Faith Inevitable - Part Six

Is Faith Inevitable - Part Seven

Tagged as: Death, Faith, God, Mortality, Religion, Science, Steve Paikin, Terror Management Theory

Daniel DiRito | June 3, 2008 | 12:30 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Craig Ferguson Spoofs Sex & The City genre: Tongue-In-Cheek & Video-Philes

I've yet to see the new Sex & The CIty movie though I've seen the trailer numerous times on network television. Last night, Craig Ferguson offered the following spoof of the trailer...and I have to say that I'm still laughing.

Ferguson has made a name for himself on late night television by playing a variety of characters. When he first entered the late night talk show scene, I wasn't sure if I liked him...but over time I've become a fan.

I especially like his irreverent treatment of the British Royal Family. His Prince Charles segment is one of my favorites. I've included one of those videos below as well.

Sex & The City Spoof

Prince Charles In LA - Keeping It Royal

Tagged as: Craig Ferguson, Humor, Kim Cattrall, Late Late Show, Prince Charles, Samantha, Sex & The City

Daniel DiRito | June 3, 2008 | 11:46 AM | link | Comments (0)
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