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June 2005

Attention, My Minions!

I have two big favors to ask of anyone who's in any position to assist:

  1. If you're in New York, please make an effort to go see Twist of Faith at the Quad sometime this weekend. If they get enough business this weekend, it will help ensure that it's held over for at least another week. Now, this is not just me doing a for a pal: Twist of Faith is a really extraordinary and moving film, and people deserve to see it.

    TWIST OF FAITH
    Quad Cinema
    34 West 13th Street Box Office (212) 777-FILM
    OPENS JULY 1

    ACADEMY AWARD NOMINEE — BEST DOCUMENTARY
    OFFICIAL SELECTION — SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL
    WINNER — AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

    "Powerful" — Village Voice
    "Important" — Los Angeles Times
    "Unforgettable" — Boston Globe

    Update: Eddie also informs me it's opening in San Francisco tonight, as well:

    TWIST OF FAITH
    Roxie Theatre
    3125 16th St.
    San Francisco, CA
    415 863 1087

  2. Also, does anyone know anyone who's ever worked on any incarnation of Star Trek? Actors, extras, writers, crew, anything? I’m trying to find one or two for a speaking engagement.

Twist of Faith

TComes_Rectory_077.jpgIf you have access to HBO, then you owe it yourself to check out Twist of Faith tonight at 10:00 (or Thursday night on HBO2). This is the latest documentary produced by my friend Eddie and directed by his partner Kirby Dick, and I say "owe it yourself" instead of "owe it to Eddie" because I can say without any trace of persoanl bias that this is really, really good, and you will be moved by seeing it. That Oscar nomination wasn't for nothing, you know.

Twist of Faith tells the story of a Toledo firefighter named Tony Comes as he and his family try to deal with the spectre of his teenage abuse by a priest in his high school. It also gets into so much more, really showing the kind of stain something like that leaves on someone's life, even when he's courageous enough to face it head-on. Neither Tony nor the filmmakers shy away from the complexity of the issue at hand. There are no easy answers in this story, just a lot of pain, hope, betrayal, courage, anger, shame, and love. I might be able to spend more time trying to articulate how moving the film is,but really you'd be better off just catching it yourself. (You can also check here to see where it will be playing in theaters soon.)

Wallflower Armor

It's comforting to have a pretty serious camera again. Since effectively giving up film photography a few years ago (first by laziness, then officially when I accidentally sprayed WD-40 instead of air into my beloved Pentax K1000), I’ve been using tiny, mediocre digital cameras that could give me halfway decent pictures (compared to what more money might have gotten me), but never the same satisfaction as I would get from a more substantial piece of equipment. Sure, a better camera lets me take better pictures (which is why I got one in the first place), but I’ve also realized that it's a better prop, too.

By "prop," I guess I mean "shield." People take you more seriously as a photographer when you have a less subtle camera, and don't give you as many funny looks as they do when you just whip out a tiny one and stare intently at its screen. Effectively, you look like you mean business, so people assume you have some business taking pictures. For a wallflower like me, that’s very, very comforting. My social skills are famously ineffective at bars, parties, and other big social functions: I’m shy, I fidget, I get self-conscious talking to people I don't know. I mingle badly, and have never been able to master the art of standing around and sparkling. I don't smoke or drink, so those standard props don't work for me, either. With a camera, I have something to do that makes me feel more at ease. It gives me a way to participate that bridges the gap between my solitary and my social instincts.

Luckily, though, I learned a long time ago to see through a camera lens but not just through a camera lens. The camera may be my shield and my crutch, but I’m careful to look up and experience what goes on around me, too, using all my senses. In that way, the camera reminds me to pay attention to what's going around me, instead of getting too wrapped up in any nonsense happening in my head. So there's this strange relationship: it helps me hide but draws me out at the same time. Plus, I don't have to worry about what to do with my fidgety hands, especially with a camera that’s hefty enough to require them both.

Rocking Out

Thanks to a tip from Bill Roundy, who met up with Andy and me at the Mermaid Parade, I also got myself over to CBGB's last night for the last-ever Homocorps show before the club closes down this summer. It wasn't as full of familiar faces from all the previous shows as I’d hoped, but there was a sprinkling of pals, former flings, cute guys, sassy dykes, and great bands to ensure a diverting evening.

Hot back-up dancerCazwellA Dueling Bankhead
Da Lipstyxx3puen
A Dueling BankheadCarol Channing RoxxThe Velvet Mafia
Jonny McGovernJonny McGovern's posse

By the end of the night, I was kicking myself for not being a more diligent photographer. I only had my teeny emergency camera, though, since my regular one was recharging from its workout at the Mermaid Parade. Sadly, I didn't get any pictures of Dirty Excuse, maybe one of the best rock bands to come thundering into my world in a while. And I certainly didn't get enough pictures to do justice to Da Lipstyxx, who are fierceness incarnate, bless them.

Dance, Mermaid, Dance!

The Coney Island Mermaid Parade was, once again, a blast. I would expect no less, but the looming redevelopment of the boardwalk area makes me fear that this may be the last time the Mermaid Parade is still a wonderful, messy burst of local character quite like this.

I love the parade more than anything else that happens in New York all year. It's the time when worlds collide, but in this case they always do it beautifully. The boardwalk is packed with every slice of life that the city has to offer, and everyone's just having fun soaking it all in. Dreamy.

Gender bending mermaid fun

(Read the rest...)

Astroland

A sunny day at Coney Island

Astroland is not the largest or the fanciest amusement park there is, but it's the heart of Coney Island and it's fantastic in all it's low-rent glory. The rides are crudely awesome, the crowd is kinda rowdy, and the typography will make you squeal with delight (if you're a type nerd like me).

Note Consolidation

It occurs to me that I keep worrying about not buckling down and writing things here, when in fact I’m actually scribbling things down all the time. I just happen to be dumping all those little nuggets into e-mails instead of sharing with everyone else. A few samples, then, in lieu of a very lengthy pair of posts I need to write about WYSIWYG and great night at the screening of the Oscar-nominated documentary Twist of Faith:

From: Daniel Rhatigan
Date: June 19, 2005 5:36:16 PM EDT
To: pj gallagher.
Subject: Re: best line from JLU this week

I loved it! In fact, I love this show more and more every week. 

On Jun 19, 2005, at 5:31 PM, pj gallagher. wrote:
vixen: "what do i know about the jungle? i live in a loft in chelsea."


From: Daniel Rhatigan
Date: June 22, 2005 11:15:15 AM EDT
To: (more...)
Subject: Re: about last night

Yo kids,

I had a great time last night, because you all KICKED ASS. (And did lots of other great things to ass over the years, based on what you all said.) Really, it was a magnificent night.

And you'll all be happy to hear that I managed to score at least a few totally cute pictures of all of you, so your sexiness will go down on record for all the world to see. When I get them all sorted out, I'll let you know where to find the big versions for your own use.

Thanks for making us so proud,
Sparky

On Jun 22, 2005, at 10:15:03 AM, Bradford Shellhammer wrote:
inspired by Joel, I write you a haiku.

eight gays share a stage
fisting, midgets, and dildos
Jacko would have smiled

Seriously, you guys were really incredible and I laughed out loud at each of you. Thanks for including me.


From: Daniel Rhatigan
Date: June 22, 2005 12:19:02 PM EDT
To: Andy Horwitz
Subject: Mer-man

I’m totally down to help out at the Mermaid Parade. I’ve been trying to find people to go, and hanging wih our next mayor will be vastly preferable to wandering the boardwalk playing phone tag.


From: Daniel Rhatigan
Date: June 23, 2005 12:37:12 PM EDT
To: Joel Derfner
Subject: Re: photography question

My god, you even need to ask? I’d be crushed if you wanted anyone else to handle such a delicate assignment.

On Jun 23, 2005, at 12:18 PM, Joel Derfner wrote:
Do you think that you might be able to take some photos of me in ridiculously gay hotpants?


From: Daniel Rhatigan
Date: June 23, 2005 1:04:31 PM EDT
To: Andy Pressman
Subject: Re: Your ampersand tattoos

Hey! It's great to hear you're still kicking around somewhere! How's tricks?

I certainly don't mind you forwarding my name for the tattoos thing, but I beat you to that punch ages ago. I was actually featured in the article that lady wrote that inspired the book idea. Hell, I even managed to press that advantage to secure a teaching gig in the department she helps run up at City College. Cuz it's all about the shmooze.

Keep rockin',
Dan

On Jun 23, 2005, at 12:44 PM, Andy Pressman wrote:
Hope you don't mind, but some lady my boss knows is up to something regarding typographic tattoos. Mentioned your name. After some miscommunication between the two of them, this arrived in my inbox. I told her I’d send the info on to you, so here it is. Be in a book!


From: Daniel Rhatigan
Date: June 23, 2005 11:34:14 PM EDT
To: Max Jones
Subject: Amazing!

I can't think who to tell who'd appreciate this more than you: I was walking down the street tonight with my friend and three women came up to us, looking a little flustered and asking if we knew if there was a karaoke bar in the area. I couldn't think of one, so I asked if they were looking for a specific one, or if they just felt like some karaoke to lighten up the evening. They explained, much to my surprise, that they were contestants on the Amazing Race, and they had a clue that told them to look for a karaoke bar. I was intrigued, as you can guess. I tried to direct them to some I knew further away, but it seems they were restricted to a certain zone, and no one seemed to know of any within the specific area. 

There was no camera crew, but the third woman appeared to be their handler. She had a clipboard with the clue in it and seemed to be making sure they followed the rules. The clue had three parts, and the only bit I remember is some allusion to sweet sixteen and the famous "Who's on First" bit, which apparently was how they knew that they couldn't go south of 16th Street or east of 1st Avenue.

Drat! If the camera crew was being unobtrusive, then I might have shown up onscreen if I’d directed them to a place where they could sing!

Curses. But I did go to an HBO premiere with my pal the Oscar-nominee last night, so I guess that’s all the glamour I can handle for one week. 

Also, I happen to know that the production designer for Gilmore Girls was casing bars and coffee shops in New Haven this weekend, taking reference photos. So I guess Rory won't be abandoning Yale altogether.

Your devoted mole,
Sparky

When Worlds Collide

Just when I thought I’d seen everything, I stumble across an episode of the Superfriends where — I shit you not — a tornado drops the Hall of Justice in the land of Oz. Superman, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman then have to follow the yellow brick road to find the Wizard, and along the way they are turned into the Tin Man, Lion, and Scarecrow respectively, yet they still get to wear their costumes.

"I just hope the strange fish of Oz will respond to my aquatic telepathy!" says the made-of-straw Aquaman as he finds himself too waterlogged to swim. Loser. And at one point, Superman rusts in the rain, right before the yellow brick road turns into kryptonite.

Mr. Mxyzptlk is behind it all, of course, but even that doesn't redeem the sheer camp of it all.

Propaganda Comics

I read comics voraciously all during the 70s, mostly thanks to the teenage son of a family we knew, who was willing to let me read through as much of his comics as I could whenever I was over the house. For a little kid my age, I knew an awful lot about the Defenders, the Human Fly, the Justice Society, Nova, and all sorts of other costumed types of the era. Unfortunately, until I was old enough to begin squandering my meager allowance, the only comics (except for maybe the oversize Superman vs. Spider-Man) I ever really owned were these:

Spire Christian Comics

(Read the rest...)

X-Factor

Huh, looks like the Thumbs have gotten another write-up in X-Factor magazine:

Hardcore action figures
PosableThumbs.com

The final Star Wars movie has hit the theaters and other summer blockbusters are not far behind. That can mean only one thing. Well, at least to me. More male action figures will soon be hitting the shelves at Toys 'R' Us, and hopefully joining the cast at PosableThumbs.com.

Until Star Wars, Ewan McGregor was never shy about getting naked in front of the camera. Hopefully his Obi Wan action figure will be as willing to undress in front of Bobby, Daddy Joe, Dez and the rest of the cast of PosableThumbs.

Check out this uniquely playful site to see what Slave does until his Jedi Master shows up.

MoCCA 2005

I don't know how many of you are in the New York area (4? 5, maybe?), but if you are you should get yourself down to the MoCCA Arts Festival down at the Puck Building today and tomorrow. I wish I’d remembered it sooner so I could have given more warning, but it's a nice weekend so hopefully you'll be out and about and in need of something fun to do between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. It's a great chance to meet a lot of indy artists, writers, and publishers and get your hands on some fantastic comics and zines you may not find otherwise. Also, it's filled with cute comics boys, if that’s any incentive.

Coming Up Empty

The most refreshing thing happened yesterday. I made my usual Wednesday trip to my comics shop of choice and got...nothing.

In one respect, that’s a bit of a disappointment, sure. On the other hand, though, it's kind of a relief. Ever since I started reading comics again, giving in once and for all after years and years of trying to keep the monkey off my back, I’ve had to admit that I’m weak. I’m a sucker for big events, I’m a sucker for first issues, I’m a sucker for pretty pictures. (Bad art, though, is a deal-breaker, even if the story's good. I wish I could be less biased on this point, but them's the breaks.) All this enthusiasm for the medium is a real drain on the financial resources for some one of modest means. Yet even though I don't necessarily think every comic I buy is worth the cover price, I give in to my curiosity.

This, of course, makes me feel like a total pawn of marketing departments from time to time. They're so sneaky, so insidious! I had to have that last issue of Identity Crisis, even though I’d already stopped caring. Oh my god! New Avengers? As we head into a summer of huge crossover events, I’ve been fearing the worst.

So it was a real relief to look aroound yesterday and say, "Nah. Don't need it." I don't actually give much of a crap about the Rann-Thanagar War, or another bout of hand-wringing over the Dr. Light Fiasco, or yet another Wolverine cameo. For once, I feel like I’m free, like I have a choice. Or, at the very least, that through a scheduling quirk I can afford to go out and eat extra snacks this week.

Apologies to All

A good friend's troubles inspired me to spend a chunk of the evening reading through old entries, especially the ones from around the time I had my spectacularly maudlin meltdown a few years ago. In a way, I was looking for a little reassurance, for some proof that the doldrums that have been dogging me for a while now aren't so bad when you look at the big picture. Well, I suppose they're not. It's not very encouraging, though, to realize that I’ve slipped back into some very bad habits I thought I’d kicked. The overall dullness of my posting for so long now is really just a symptom — granted, it's a real obvious symptom once you notice it — that I’ve gone back to pushing, pushing, pushing my feelings as far down as humanly possible, and at the very least hiding them when I can't successfully suppress them. The way I feel it, this has led to me becoming the most boring, dispassionate me that I can ever recall being. The last few weeks of sitting around the house more than usual have reminded me how much I’ve retreated into myself over time, making a bad habit out of what once had been an emergency measure.

I am one frustrated motherfucker. I’m frustrated with myself, and with lots and lots of things about my life. I’m keenly disappointed about a few things, and mad at myself for not doing more to make them happen, or keep them from happening. For instance, I seem to have shut out most of the people who would have intentionally or accidently called my bluff. After all, if you're trying to avoid the obvious, you probably avoid the people who know you best. Even worse, you probably don't even notice you're avoiding them until you realize you've already alienated them.

Which is stupid. And cowardly. And fucked up.

I’m not sure when a touch of reserve gave way to my being an impassive asshole. I’m sure it was just a slow accumulation of teeny decisions. Cue the development of my internal monologue: "No, I have a lot of work to do." "No, I don't have the energy to go out and be cheerful." "No, I don't wanna explain what's on my mind." "No, there's so much catching up to do." "No, I really owe them an apology more than dinner and a movie." "No, we haven't talked for so long that I can't just call and pretend I haven't been a jerk."

Suddenly, I notice how lonely I am, and what an insensitive idiot I’ve been. But I don't wanna face up to it, so I shove it all down a little further and move along. Of course, I definitely don't write about anything that I ought to talk about first, so you the public get another post about TV or current events or something. Remember when I has stuff to say? I do.

So, I’m sorry. I’m sorry in a general to way to anyone who still bothers to read this nonsense, but mostly I’m sorry to a particular handful of people I love for not talking to you in a long while, or for making you think I didn't want to talk to you. I do — desperately — but I’m pretty ashamed that I dropped the ball so often and let things deteriorate so much, especially since I want so badly to know how you're doing. If you have any forgiveness left, I'll try not to be such an insensitive/oversensitive jerk anymore.

Cosmos King

The Final FrontierSpeaking of Jack Kirby, I just finished reading his 2001: A Space Odyssey series, which started out as a sort of sequel to the movie, but inexplicably turned into the origin of Machine Man by the end of its ten-issue run. I originally bought the series because I love Kirby so much and was intrigued by what seemed to be a very bad idea: the continuing adventures of the Monolith! To my surprise, it turned out to be a pretty interesting series of short stories (including the monolith-free Machine Man issues) that let Kirby make up all kinds of crazy shit.

The series is also filled with the stuff I love most about Kirby's work — his depiction of outer space. Kirby's cosmos aren't cold, dark, and empty. Instead, they're like a bubbling cauldron of mystery. There's stuff everywhere, and it all looks cool as hell. You just know Galactus could pop out at any second and wave around some of those excellent Kirby mystery machines (the stuff I love second-best about Kirby).

(P.S.: Be sure to follow that link to Galactus' blog. It's funnier than the Hulk's blog, but sadly just a one-time column, not a regular thing.)

How-To for Hollywood

Blogger Mr. Snitch has written a great piece about the things that often go wrong when great comics are adapted for the screen, focusing mostly on how the upcoming Fantastic Four movie is likely to suck (sadly, I expect it to do so), while Batman Begins is likely to succeed (I’m still prepared for the worst). Even if you're too ADD to read the whole thing, it's worth a look just for the handful of gorgeous Jack Kirby covers peppered throughout the post. If you dig in more, you'll also find a bunch of great links, including this one which makes a similar argument based on what's happened to Alan Moore and Frank Miller books.

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