Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Music: Jay Brannan "Square One"

Out singer/songwriter Jay Brannan just released his new music video for "Square One" off his latest CD Always, Then & Now as he heads out on tour for the next several months.

Critics have had this to say about Brannan's uber-obvious talent:

“Brannan’s star is on the ascent.”

“The Male Joni Mitchell”
–Alex Catarinella, GEN ART PULSE

“the kind of indie folk that makes you feel warm and fuzzy while tearing out your insides”

You can download the new album on iTunes or Amazon.

"square one"
music & lyrics by jay brannan

does anybody here have a soul?
put the thermostat on overdrive, the air is bitter cold
everywhere i look is nip & tuck
and every song they play in here is vapid as fuck

well i don't give a shit about the weekend
i don't wanna hear about your car or what you're drinkin'
don't know what to make of all of it
the same people claiming it gets better treat everyone like shit, and

everyone sings about leaving, breaking off
but where the hell do they run?
here we were receiving, giving, making love
when some something came undone
sticking me back at square one

pigs & asses used to lived on farms
friendly skies weren't always overrun by airborne infants in arms
life's a beach, and should you swim astray
you'll fade to grey some castaway, there's no lifeguard service today

falling for the foolish can be tough
but everything is possible when you hate yourself enough
not my proudest moment, but the one i've got
it's a little painful being so much less cool than you by a lot, and


i just met you yesterday, and i'm already imagining the break-up
a little lovemaking and a 2nd latte is enough to keep me charging towards the shakeup
you're fucking out of my league, when will i learn it?
could sell the devil my soul, and he'd return it


Jason Collins talks on "code words" used to describe out athletes

Jason Collins recently stopped by TakePart Live to chat on the media firestorm that happens when you're the first out athlete to play in a major sports league.

Collins breaks down NFL coach Tony Dungy's offensive comments about not wanting to coach openly gay football player Michael Sam, and dangerous code words the athletic community uses to describe homosexuality.

"I think that personnel, coaches, owners — can look at my example, my journey in the NBA and see that after two weeks back, it was about basketball," Collins says in reference to Dungy's comments.

"There were games, especially a month after I was signed that reporters didn't even ask me any questions. It will always go back to the sport because there are only so many ways they can write the article. There are only so many ways they can keep talking about LGBT issues when you're a professional athlete because you're a professional athlete first."

"I kinda laugh every time I hear a code word being used…. Any kind of minority group, and you hear people use different code words and you're like, 'I know what you're really saying and I'm above that,'" Collins remarks.

(via TakePart Live)

St. Louis Rams' Michael Sam shrugs off Tony Dungy's comments with class

And this is how you do it.

When asked about Tony Dungy's recent comments, Sam replied: "Thank God he wasn't St. Louis Rams' coach. But I have a great respect for Coach Dungy, and like everyone in America, everyone is entitled to their own opinions."

"It is what it is," said Sam. "What you gonna do about it? My focus is on making this team. I'm excited to be back with the guys. Football is fun."

Good job, Michael.

Bill Clinton to World AIDS Conference: An AIDS-free world is just over the horizon

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton told an AIDS Conference in Melbourne on Wednesday that "an AIDS-free generation is within our reach."

St. Louis Rams coach says there is no Michael Sam "distraction"

St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher called into the Mike and Mike radio show, addressing former NFL coach Tony Dungy's recent comments that Michael Sam's presence on a team will prove to be a huge "distraction."

Fisher adamantly disagreed with Dungy saying that Sam has reported to training camp already a better football player and has shown his talent and tough work ethic since signing.

Take a listen below:

Rick "Frothy Mix" Santorum looks to lose another presidential campaign in 2016

Steve Marlzberg asks "the question" and Frothy begins his usual rambling.

Yeah, looks like he's running.

Such an exciting candidate.

ExxonMobil says it will follow new LGBT workplace guidelines

In light of President Obama's recent executive order banning workplace discrimination of LGBT employees by federal contractors, Exxon has signaled it will comply with the new guidelines.

Exxon is one of the largest corporations in the world which won over $480 million in federal contracts in 2013.

Company spokesman Alan Jeffers said Tuesday that Exxon will continue to "abide by the law."

However, that has not been the case for years. Via Houston Chronicle:

In May, Exxon shareholders voted down a proposal for the 15th consecutive year to add such language to its equal employment opportunity statement, maintaining that the business standards stated on a company web site ensure protections without having to specifically name them.

The proposal, backed since 2010 by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli on behalf of the New York State Employees Retirement System, has never gained majority shareholder support. It won 20 percent of voters this year holding roughly $41.5 billion in Exxon stock.
Exxon has not stated whether there are plans to formally change the company's equal employment opportunity policy.

I'm betting not. Exxon had to be brought to this point kicking and screaming.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Craigslist ad: "I told you not to feed your dog grapes"

This is an actual ad on Craigslist:

Hey... I saw you by a bench in Alley Pond Park today and you were feeding your dog grapes. I told you that a few years ago my dog Bear had a seizure and died after eating a bowl of grapes I left out.

You gave me a weird look, said thanks and walked away. Then you took out your phone and it looked like you were making a call or pretending to make a call. Now that I think about it, it was probably awkward for you to hear from a stranger that you shouldnt feed your dog grapes.

Your dog looked like a border collie and you looked slightly pregnant (maybe 2 months?)

Just wondering if your dog is ok and if you'd want to get a drink sometime? Or a coffee? I guess that's also a drink. I'm so awkward. Even on here!

Also if youre dog is sick we can wait until he's better to get that drink. Also if you actually are pregnant we can wait until that's over to get a drink.

Oh yea. I was wearing an orange polo from Macy's, cargo shorts, and black/red Onitsuka tiger 81s. I know you saw my shoes because you were looking down the entire time I was telling the story about Bear and the grapes. I removed my sunglasses when I approached you to show my sincerity and that I wasnt a threat. I dont think you were scared, just caught off guard is all.

I really meant well and I hope you can see that now. Maybe if you don't want to get a drink since you're pregnant I could just go on a walk with you and your dog? If your dog is ok that is.

If you feel awkward sending me a picture of yourself, just send me a picture of your dog. All other ladies - i appreciate your interest, but i felt a special connection with this woman so you shouldnt bother messaging me, but if you know someone who hangs around Alley Pond Park with a border collie maybe you could show her this?


(via Craigslist)

Researchers successfully eliminate HIV virus from human cells

The Temple University School of Medicine research team's approach looks promising as they work towards a permanent cure and potential for protection against HIV.

"This is one important step on the path toward a permanent cure for AIDS," says Kamel Khalili, PhD, Professor and Chair of the Department of Neuroscience at Temple.

Via press release:

When deployed, a combination of a DNA-snipping enzyme called a nuclease and a targeting strand of RNA called a guide RNA (gRNA) hunt down the viral genome and excise the HIV-1 DNA.

From there, the cell's gene repair machinery takes over, soldering the loose ends of the genome back together – resulting in virus-free cells.

One of the many difficulties involved, even with this good news, is the fact that HIV virus is prone to mutation, complicating any cure's potential effectiveness.

This news comes on the heels of a report published at the 20th International AIDS Conference announcing HIV infection rates in general have dropped here in the U.S.

(via Towleroad)

Music legend Billy Joel to receive Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song

Billy Joel, the 6th top-selling artist of all time and the 3rd top-selling solo artist of all time, has been announced to receive the prestigious Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.

The news was announced by Librarian of Congress James H. Billington:

“Billy Joel is a storyteller of the highest order,” Billington said. “There is an intimacy to his songwriting that bridges the gap between the listener and the worlds he shares through music. When you listen to a Billy Joel song, you know about the people and the place and what happened there. And while there may be pain, despair and loss, there is ultimately a resilience to it that makes you want to go to these places again and again.

“Importantly, as with any good storyteller, the recognition experienced in a Billy Joel song is not simply because these are songs we have heard so many times, but because we see something of ourselves in them.”

Added Joel: “The great composer George Gershwin has been a personal inspiration to me throughout my career. And the Library’s decision to include me among those songwriters who have been past recipients is a milestone for me.”

Just a brief review of his Grammy wins demonstrates the depth and range of his talents: Song of the Year and Record of the Year (“Just the Way You Are,” 1978), Album of the Year (52nd Street, 1979); and Best Rock Vocal Performance Male twice in back-to-back years: 52nd Street (1979) and Glass Houses (1980).

Joel has been  a big idol of mine for decades.  Not only for his melodies, but as mentioned earlier - his storytelling.  As an actor, I was aware at a very early age of the character development and story arc his songs would portray.  The very singular, blue collar "voice" of his songs delivered environment, character and desire.

Bravo for a very well-deserved award, Billy.

The curious case of NFL coach Tony Dungy and hypocrisy

Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Indianapolis Colts head coach, Tony Dungy, recently told the Tampa Tribune that he would not have drafted openly gay Michael Sam:

"I wouldn't have taken him. Not because I don't believe Michael Sam should have a chance to play, but I wouldn't want to deal with all of it.

"It's not going to be totally smooth ... things will happen."

Since that statement, Dungy has continued to receive criticism for the comments.

This is the same man who defended Michael Vick - convicted and sent to prison for animal cruelty to dogs. Of Vick's crimes, the Orlando Sentinel wrote this:

Vick’s crime was dog-fighting. Those who didn’t make the cut were shot, beaten and electrocuted. Three dogs were hanged, according to a report by the USDA inspector general, “by placing a nylon cord over a 2 x 4 that was nailed to two trees.” " Three more dogs drowned after Vick’s crew put their heads in a 5 gallon bucket of water.

Got that? Kinda serious, right? But Dungy stood by a man who tortured innocent animals and said he deserved a second chance.

But about Michael Sam? A man who had harmed no one? No such open-mindedness. Because Dungy "wouldn't want to deal with it."

So let's get this all straight:

Animal torture/murder = second chance
Gay football player = not gonna deal with it

Got it? Right.

And I'm not even going to go into the fact that just some years ago, being a coach of "color" was not something NFL team owners "wanted to deal with."  Good thing for Dungy times got better and people evolved on that level.

By the way, it should be noted that in the past, Tony Dungy - leader of men - has helped raise money for anti-gay campaigns and has made it clear he does not agree with a "homosexual lifestyle."

Check out Keith Olbermann's take-down of Dungy below.  Starts at the 2:00 mark:

Remember: Fotomat

This photo, posted by my fellow blogger kenneth in the (212), takes me back to my childhood.

I remember when these were everywhere, all over Fort Worth, my hometown.

I laugh thinking of my high school friend Lisa Priddy who worked for Fotomate.  She used to tell customers that there was a huge facility underneath the street level where all the rolls of film were developed and pics were printed.

Ah, good times...

Florida Rep. David Jolly is the 8th GOP member of Congress to support marriage equality

Freshman GOP Congressman David Jolly of Florida steps up to become the eighth sitting GOP member of Congress to endorse marriage equality.

From the Washington Post:

When asked by The Washington Post whether he supports gay marriage, in light of a Florida judge's decision last week to overturn the state's ban, Jolly said that his personal views on marriage are that it should be limited to one man and one woman.

But, he added, states should not be defining the "sanctity" of marriage.

“As a matter of my Christian faith, I believe in traditional marriage," said Jolly in a statement to The Post. "But as a matter of Constitutional principle I believe in a form of limited government that protects personal liberty. To me, that means that the sanctity of one’s marriage should be defined by their faith and by their church, not by their state.

"Accordingly, I believe it is fully appropriate for a state to recognize both traditional marriage as well as same-sex marriage, and therefore I support the recent decision by a Monroe County Circuit Judge.”

While his support for marriage equality is clearly welcomed, it's worth noting that he holds traditionally GOP positions on Obamacare, abortion rights, military support for Israel, and gun control.

Also expressing support for same-sex marriage in Washington are GOP Senators Rob Portman, Lisa Murkowski, Mark Kirk and Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Charlie Dent, and Richard Hanna.

One court rules against Obamacare, another court rules in favor

On the same day that the Fourth Circuit of Appeals ruled in favor of government subsidies for people signing up for Obamacare health coverage, a second appeals court in the District of Columbia has ruled against such subsidies.

The DC Circuit Court seems to have determined it's ruling on what appears to be the equivalent of a typo.

Via Vox:

The plaintiffs rely on an unclearly worded sentence in the law to argue that Congress never intended to provide subsidies in federally-run exchanges and so the subsidies that are currently being provided in those 36 states are illegal and need to stop immediately.

This is plainly ridiculous. The point of Obamacare is to subsidize insurance for those who can't afford it. The point of the federal exchanges is to make sure the law works even in states that can't or won't set up an exchange.

For Congress to write a law that provides for federal exchanges but doesn't permit money to flow through them would have been like Congress writing a transportation law that builds federal highways but doesn't allow cars, bikes or buses to travel on them.

Meanwhile, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals saw things differently:

"It is...clear that widely available tax credits are essential to fulfilling the Act's primary goals and that Congress was aware of their importance when drafting the bill," the Fourth Circuit Court ruled.

Only 16 states and the District of Columbia set up their own exchanges. This would mean, following the DC Circuit Court ruling, that the 4.7 million who signed up for subsidized health coverage through would be affected.

The Obama administration has said it will appeal to the full District of Columbia Court of Appeals.

For now, the law remains unaffected by the rulings until all appeals are exhausted.

Pastor Bert Ferias: Gays are possessed by putrid-smelling demons even pigs don't like

Pastor Bert Ferias has written a particularly vicious  op-ed for Charisma News.

Apparently, Charisma News is a very popular website among the Christian crowd.

Check out his loving, Christ-like words:

"Here's the raw, naked truth: Homosexuality is actually a demon spirit. It is such a putrid-smelling demon that other demons don't even like to hang around it.

"A genuine prophet of God told me that the Lord allowed him to smell this demon spirit, and he got sick to his stomach.

"And yet as humans, many embrace this demon. Yes, you heard me right: Being gay is demonic.

"There is an account in the Bible where Jesus casts 2,000 demons out of a man. The demons came out screaming and begged Jesus to send them into the pigs. The pigs didn't want them, so they ran down a steep hill and were drowned in the sea.

"Pigs have more sense than some humans. Some people embrace homosexual demons, but the pigs would rather die than be possessed with demons."

(h/t JMG)
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