Thursday, January 19, 2017

Throwback Thursday: "That Cheerleader Accident" At Syracuse University 35 Years Ago

Me top of the pic center as a college cheerleader at Syracuse University in 1982
right after cheerleading accident on national TV

My college cheerleading buddy, Ken Fischer, pointed out that an early national news story in my life happened 35 years ago today. The story was run today as a #ThrowbackThursday item on

Syracuse versus Georgetown basketball games in the 1980s were always must-see events.

The game between the Orange and the Hoyas on Jan. 17, 1982 was another highly anticipated matchup between the teams. Georgetown was ranked seventh in the nation and had won 13 games in a row.

The game was shown nationally on NBC with Syracuse alum Bob Costas on the call.

When it was over, though, few were talking about Syracuse's 75-70 upset win, or the second largest crowd ever to see a college game.

Instead, a cheerleader's fall and her agonizing scream was what was remembered.

The Syracuse cheerleaders had gone out onto the court after the game's first timeout and formed a human pyramid, three bodies high. When 5-foot-1-inch Michelle Munn, from Sayre, Pennsylvania, flipped from the top, no one was there to break her fall.

She landed on her head, and the large crowd hushed.

Post-Standard reporter Mark Wallinger wrote that all "that could be heard was the hum of the electrical fan keeping the Teflon dome inflated and Michelle's wails and screams."

The cheerleaders had practiced the stunt - called a Swedish Roll - for about three weeks, but it was the first time they had attempted it in public.

Later, cheerleaders speculated that Munn may have miscalculated her jump because of the noise of the loud crowd, starting her count too early before her spotter was in position.

Paramedics at the game rushed the engineering major and cheerleading co-captain, to Crouse-Irving Memorial Hospital, where she was diagnosed with a fractured skull.

Her parents rushed to join her, as did her fiance, who was watching the game on TV from her apartment.

She was listed in satisfactory condition.

Forty minutes after the accident, the Dome crowd was informed that Munn was in "very stable condition," which brought a loud cheer.

Munn returned to campus a couple of weeks later.

She said she did not know what went wrong with the stunt, and said she could not recall much about the accident.

"I vaguely remember crashing into something, but nothing's very clear," she told the newspaper.

Despite headaches and backaches she was able to return to class but had no idea when she could rejoin the cheerleading squad.

She would hesitate "only a moment" before attempting the pyramid stunt again, and disagreed with some calling for it to be banned.

She said,"Every sport is going to have some risk to it."

My cheerleading partner, Lisa, in mid-air during the accident

I remember exactly what happened: we had been doing the pyramid called a "Swedish Roll" for some time. Two sets of shoulder stand with a girl held like a beam parallel to the floor. The two girls were my partner, Lisa, and Michelle. They would hit the position, with one leg lifted, then Michelle would call "roll" and the girls would drop into the arms of guys waiting below.

A new element we had just incorporated was two guys flipping under the towers via mini trampolines before the "roll." Nothing dangerous, basically a dive roll and then the girls would dismount as usual. But it was the first timeout with a huge crowd playing Georgetown, big rival, adrenaline rushing as we hit the court.

We did the pyramid like we had done, but before the guys could flip, Michelle (who was one of the squad captains) looked at Lisa and yelled "one, two, roll!' As Lisa tried to stop her from going, Michelle went, and hit Reed (who was in mid-air flipping) on her way down. Because she went early and the mini tramp was still there, no one was in place to catch her.

The whole thing led to a big national debate about cheering safety.

It's amazing to me that all the details from that moment are so clear in memory today, 35 years later.

News Round-Up: January 19, 2017

(via Instagram)
Some news items you may have missed:

• Instahunk Lex Abramov (above) is giving you "silver-haired ice-bear."

• The niece of former GOP presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, will take over the reins as Chairman of the Republican Party from outgoing Reince Priebus. Ronna Romney McDaniel takes over as Priebus is moving on to be Donald Trump's Chief of Staff in the White House.

• Energy Secretary Rick Perry was quite contrite at his confirmation hearing today, saying he regrets his now infamous "oops" moment during the 2012 presidential campaign when he vowed to eliminate the department he's now nominated to run.

• The latest CBS poll shows President Obama leaving office with a 62% approval rating.

• The former Apprentice contestant who accused Donald Trump of groping her is now suing him for defamation.

• North Korea may test-fire one of their intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) as early as Friday, the day Donald Trump is inaugurated, in an attempt to provoke Trump.

• The Virginia state House killed a potential "bathroom bill" similar to North Carolina's HB2, which has had a devastating effect on the Tarheel State's economy.

• Check out Troye Sivan's latest single, "Heaven" featuring Betty Who, from his Blue Neighbourhood album. You can watch the gorgeous black and white music video below featuring intimate shots of Sivan along with vintage clips of important moments in the LGBTQ rights movement.

President Obama's 'Thank You' Letter To The American People

One day before he leaves office, President Obama issued this official goodbye letter to the American people.

According to the release: "I wanted to say one final thank you for the honor of serving as your 44th President."

From the White House press office:

My fellow Americans,

It's a long-standing tradition for the sitting president of the United States to leave a parting letter in the Oval Office for the American elected to take his or her place. It's a letter meant to share what we know, what we've learned, and what small wisdom may help our successor bear the great responsibility that comes with the highest office in our land, and the leadership of the free world.

But before I leave my note for our 45th president, I wanted to say one final thank you for the honor of serving as your 44th. Because all that I've learned in my time in office, I've learned from you. You made me a better President, and you made me a better man.

Throughout these eight years, you have been the source of goodness, resilience, and hope from which I've pulled strength. I've seen neighbors and communities take care of each other during the worst economic crisis of our lifetimes. I have mourned with grieving families searching for answers -- and found grace in a Charleston church.

I've taken heart from the hope of young graduates and our newest military officers. I've seen our scientists help a paralyzed man regain his sense of touch, and wounded warriors once given up for dead walk again. I've seen Americans whose lives have been saved because they finally have access to medical care, and families whose lives have been changed because their marriages are recognized as equal to our own. I've seen the youngest of children remind us through their actions and through their generosity of our obligations to care for refugees, or work for peace, and, above all, to look out for each other.

I've seen you, the American people, in all your decency, determination, good humor, and kindness. And in your daily acts of citizenship, I've seen our future unfolding.

All of us, regardless of party, should throw ourselves into that work -- the joyous work of citizenship. Not just when there's an election, not just when our own narrow interest is at stake, but over the full span of a lifetime.

I'll be right there with you every step of the way.

And when the arc of progress seems slow, remember: America is not the project of any one person. The single most powerful word in our democracy is the word 'We.' 'We the People.' 'We shall overcome.'

Yes, we can.

Trump Spokesman Shills For Trump International Hotel During Presser

Raw Story points up this moment today from incoming White House spokesman Sean Spicer's first official press conference.

Asked a question about President-elect Donald Trump's scheduled visit to his Washington, D.C. hotel, the Trump International Hotel, to promote the dining room there while claiming to disassociate himself from his business dealings, Spicer called the idea "very smart."

“I don't think the idea that he's going to his own hotel should be a shocker. It's a beautiful place; It's somewhere that he’s very proud of.

"It’s an absolutely stunning hotel. I encourage you to go there if you haven’t been by.”

Bolding is mine. Watch below:

(h/t JoeMyGod)

Bangkok Set To Celebrate Gay Pride For First Time Since 2006

The city of Bangkok is set to celebrate gay pride for the first time since 2006

Bangkok will hold its first gay pride parade later this year, a long 11 years after its last.

Via Mashable:

While Thailand has held a pride event each year in the island of Phuket, the pride parade coming back to the capital is a show of unity for the local LGBTQ community, one of the organisers said.

"It was the lack of organisation and a lack of a definite plan back then that really affected Pride to go ahead," Paul Heymans, founder of OUT BKK, one of the LGBTQ organisations involved in Bangkok Pride, told Mashable.

The pride parades of a decade ago were organised by the business sector, and capitalised on the gay movement, and were less focused on promoting visibility or acceptance for the LGBTQ community, claims Rapeepun Jommaroeng, the deputy secretary-general of Rainbow Sky Association of Thailand (RSAT), another one of the organisers.

"It was more about promoting their businesses in the views of activists," Jommaroeng wrote in an email. "I never perceived solidarity within this sector."

Organisers are also hopeful that increased visibility will help the community move toward gender and marriage equality.

"(Pride) could be another opportunity to sensitise Thai society about gender diversity issues," said Jommaroeng.

Heymans added: "Getting married legally is a basic human right and one many Thai LGBT organisations set as a main priority."
In that Thailand's largest northern city, Chiang Mai, has seen anti-LGBT protests in the past, perhaps this renewed sense of celebration will help foster a more open sensibility of inclusion for LGBTs across the country.

The event will take place at some point in November. Originally slated for May, the delay is in honor of a one-year mourning period following the October death of the revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

The six-day Pride event will include a lineup of workshops, film festivals, social events and a pride march. More info can be found here on Facebook.

Just Because...

(via kenneth-in-the-212)

WHY is this guy never walking down any hotel hallways I'm coming down?

Throwback Thursday: Tom Jones Gets Freaky With Some 'Beatles'

Regular Randy Report readers know I love kitschy 60s/70s TV specials.

How could you not love black and white cow costumes and a groovy orange jumpsuited Tom Jones getting freaky on the Beatles "We Can Work It Out?"

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Radio Show: Today In LGBT News - President Obama's LGBT Legacy, WILL & GRACE Is Officially Coming Back To NBC

On this mid-week episode of The Randy Report:

• President Obama, speaking at his final news conference with the White House press corps, spoke about the progress of LGBT rights and protections under his administration. While he acknowledged his team was proud of the movement forward, he gave props to all the out and proud Americans who, through their sheer visibility, helped to bring about a huge change in the way society views LGBTs.

"I think we made useful contributions... but the primary heroes are the activists."

• President-elect Donald Trump's nominee for Education Secretary, billionaire Betsy DeVos, was directly questioned about her past support for anti-LGBT organizations, and especially so-called "ex-gay" therapy.

• And it's finally official - the hit TV show that many say helped give much exposure and visibility to the LGBT community, Will & Grace, is coming back to NBC for a 10 episode season next year.

Obama On LGBT Progress: "I Could Not Be Prouder Of The Transformation That's Taken Place In Our Society"

During his final press conference with the White House press corps, President Obama was asked by the Washington Blade's Chris Johnson on how he looked back on his administration's accomplishments on behalf of the LGBT community.

In his answer, he gave props to all those who came out and/or live out, and thereby make themselves visible to the world. He also points to the openness and authenticity of folks like Ellen DeGeneres.

I could not be prouder of the transformation that's taken place in our society just in the last decade. And I've said before I think we made some useful contributions to it, but the primary heroes in this stage of our growth as a democracy and a society are all the individual activists and sons and daughters and couples who courageously said this is who I am and I'm proud of it. That opened people's minds and opened their hearts and eventually laws caught up. But I don't think any of that would have happened without the activism, in some cases loud and noisy, but in some cases just quiet and very personal.

And I think that what we did as an administration was to help the society to move in a better direction, but to do so in a way that didn't create an enormous backlash and was systematic and respectful of the fact that in some cases these issues were controversial. I think that the way we handled, for example 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' being methodical about it, working with the Joint Chiefs, making sure that we showed this would not have an impact on the effectiveness of the greatest military on earth. And then to have Defense Secretary Bob Gates, Chairman Mike Mullen and Joint Chiefs who were open to evidence and ultimately worked with me to do the right thing--I am proud of that, but again, none of that would have happened without this incredible transformation that was happening in society.

You know when I gave Ellen the Presidential Medal of Freedom, I meant what I said, somebody that kind and likeable projecting into living rooms around the country, you know, that changed attitudes. And that wasn't easy to do for her--and that's just one small example of what was happening in communities all across the country, so I'm proud that in certain places we maybe provided a good block down-field to help the movement advance.

I don't think it is something that will be reversible because American society has changed--the attitudes of young people in particular have changed. That doesn't mean there aren't going to be some fights that are important--legal issues, issues surrounding transgender persons. There are still going to be some battles that need to take place. But if you talk to young people, Malia and Sasha's generation, even if they're Republicans, even if they're conservative, many of them would tell you "I don't understand how you would discriminate against somebody because of sexual orientation. That's just sort of burned into them in pretty powerful ways.

Listen to his answer below:

President Obama's Final Press Conference LIVE

For the final time, President Obama takes questions from the White House press corps.

Watch the live feed below:

It's Official - NBC Announces The Return Of "Will & Grace"

Former cast member Leslie Jordan may have jumped the gun recently when he told a San Diego radio station that hit TV show Will & Grace was "definitely" coming back, but now it's official.

Via Deadline:

The Emmy-winning Will & Grace is returning to NBC. After months of complex and difficult negotiations, the network has closed a deal for a new 10-episode limited installment of the hit series, to air during the 2017-18 season. NBC Entertainment president Jennifer Salke made the announcement at the top of NBC’s TCA presentation.

The new, ninth season of Will & Grace stems from the surprise election-themed reunion mini-episode released on Sept. 26. Done without NBC’s involvement, it immediately triggered talk of a possible real reunion.

Slowly but surely, producing studio Universal TV was able to secure stars Eric McCormack, Debra Messing, Megan Mullally and Sean Hayes as well as creators/executive producers Max Mutchnick and David Kohan. Veteran director James Burrows, who directed every episode of the show during its initial eight-year run, is on board to direct and executive produce.

Animals Amaze Me

Betsy DeVos Has Rough Ride During Education Secretary Confirmation Hearing

Education Secretary nominee Betsy DeVos had a very poor showing under during her confirmation hearing.

Wow. Watch this and think about the fact that Ms. DeVos is going to be the next person overseeing the entire federal education system.

It's notable that she has no experience working in education, nor does she have any education certification of any kinds.

Minnesota Sen. Al Franken focused on Devos' and her families huge donations to anti-LGBTQ organizations (around the 4:00 mark):

Franken: “Mrs. DeVos, your family has a long history of supporting anti-LGBT causes including donating millions of dollars to groups that push conversion therapy, the practice of trying to change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity. For example, you and your family have given over $10 million to Focus On the Family, an organization that currently states on its website that, ‘homosexual strugglers can and do change their sexual behavior and identity.'”

“Mrs. DeVos, conversion therapy has been widely discredited and rejected for decades by every mainstream medical and mental health organization as neither medically nor ethically appropriate,” the senator continued. “It has been shown to lead to depression, anxiety, drug use, homelessness, and suicide, particularly in LGBT youth. In fact, many of the leaders and founders of conversion therapy, including both religious ministries and mental health professionals, have not only publicly renounced it but have issued formal apologies for their work and how harmful it has been to the individuals involved. Mr. Chairman, I would ask that this be included in the record.”

“Mrs. DeVos, do you still believe in conversion therapy?”

DeVos: “Senator Franken, I’ve never believed in that. First of all, let me say I fully embrace equality and I believe in the innate value of every single human being and that all students, no matter their age, should be able to attend a school and feel safe and be free of discrimination. So let’s start there and let me just say that your characterization of our contributions I don’t think accurately reflects those of my family. I would hope you wouldn’t include other family members beyond my core family.”

Here she has a difficult time answering practically anything Sen. Tim Kaine asks:

Kaine: “If confirmed will you insist upon equal accountability in any K-12 school or educational program that receives taxpayer funding whether public, public charter or private?”
DeVos: “I support accountability.”
Kaine: “Equal accountability?”
DeVos: “I support accountability.”
Kaine: “Is that a yes or a no?”
DeVos: “I support accountability.”
Kaine: “Do you not want to answer my question?”
DeVos: “I support accountability.”
Kaine: “Let me ask you this. I think all schools that receive taxpayer funding should be equally accountable. Do you agree?”
DeVos: “Well they don’t, they are not today.”
Kaine: “Well, I think they should. Do you agree with me?
DeVos: “Well no . . . ”
Kaine, interrupting her, said: “You don’t agree with me.”

And then, this moment when she justifies guns in schools because some areas, like Wyoming, need them “to protect from potential grizzlies [bears].”

Dallas: Gay Man Beaten With Pipe By Two Masked Men

This past Saturday night, Dallas resident Derek Whitener was attacked by two masked men as he was leaving a Target store. According to reports, the two men hit Whitener over the head with a pipe, fracturing his skull.

As a result of his injuries, Whitener has undergone brain surgery and continues to be treated in an intensive care unit.

More from the GoFundMe campaign set up to assist with his medical bills:

On Saturday, January 14th, Derek Whitener finished acting and singing in a show at the Firehouse Theatre in Dallas, Texas.

After the show he stopped by Target on his way home to buy groceries. On his way out of Target he was brutally attacked by 2 masked men in the parking lot.

We don't know who they were or what their motive was at this point. All we know is they beat my friend so badly, that on January 15th he was rushed into surgery to stop the bleeding on his brain.

Before his surgery he was having difficulty forming words - a horrifying thing for someone as smart and quick-witted as Derek. They believe the surgery was a success but won't sure until the swelling subsides.

He is currently in the ICU, and the overall the recovery will be at least 6-8 weeks. He will be unable to work that entire time.

We've set up this GoFundMe to help offset the cost of medical bills and loss of income.

Derek is one of the most creative, passionate, and unique individuals I have ever met in my life. He just accepted a position as the artistic director of the Firehouse Theatre, a community theatre in Dallas. The level of outreach he has done through his artistic endeavors (singing, acting, costuming, etc.) has touched the lives of counless individuals. I know he has inspired me to be a better artist since the day I met him over ten years ago.

Clearly Whitener has a long road ahead of him in terms of recovery and expensive hospital bills.

Anyone who would like to make a donation, no matter how small, can do so via the GoFundMe campaign here.

Poll: President Obama Leaves Office With 60% Approval Rating

Via ABC News:

Sixty percent of Americans in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll approve of Obama’s job performance, the most since June 2009, five months after he took office. Sixty-one percent approve of his handling of the economy, a career high. And as many express a favorable opinion of him personally, the most since November 2009.

These ratings stand in contrast to Donald Trump’s; as reported Tuesday, just 40 percent approve of his handling of the transition, about half the average for recent incoming presidents, and an identical 40 percent see him favorably, a third lower than Obama’s rating and the lowest for any president-elect in polls dating to Jimmy Carter in 1977.

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