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Showing posts from September, 2010

It Gets Better

I came out when I was seventeen. I was terrified. Truly, utterly terrified.

Not that people would make fun of me or not accept me, but that I would be alone.

I was scared of being alone.

There was only one other gay kid in my high school, and after five days of dating him, we broke up, and then I was...on my own.

Don't get me wrong. I had wonderful friends, and I was able to keep my family from finding out about my sexuality until I was ready for them to hear it, but still, I felt isolated.

I felt like I was never going to be in a relationship like my friends were. I couldn't have that romantic prom date everybody else seemed to have. I couldn't kiss in the hallways or have a high school sweetheart.

All because there just wasn't anybody else but me.

But then it got better.

I went to college, and I found out that there were other gay people out there in the world. There were other people who felt how I felt. And looking back, all those prom fantasies and high sch…

Nothing Can Cure the Tomato

My mother never forced me to eat anything, but she did try to get me to ease up on my picky eating habits.

"Just try a cucumber!"

"No, thank you."

"You like pickles! It's a pickle!"

"Then why isn't it called a pickle? My name is Kevin. You don' t call me Steve."

She couldn't argue with that one.

Aside from that, my mother didn't enjoy cooking very much. The fact that my favorite food was spaghetti with nothing on it made her life easier, so why was she going to complain?

It was my father who was determined to cure me of my dislike for...just about everything.

Unfortunately for him, he underestimated my stubbornness.

Once, he tried to make me eat a tomato slice. He told me I couldn't get up from the kitchen table until I had eaten it.

I sat there for twelve hours.

I kid you not, twelve hours.

I probably would have eaten a slice of plastic first. That's how much I knew I wouldn't like that tomato.

After half a…

Tolerance is Not Negotiable

The disturbing trend in the news lately has been pretty clear.

Young gay students bullied so badly they took their own lives.

Now of course, there have been responses. There is outrage. There are memorials. But people seem to be missing the key here.

It's one word: Unacceptable.

In this country, when prejudice and hatred is an issue of race and/or gender, there is a definitive answer to the discrimination:

It's unacceptable.

Yet when people are targeted for their sexuality, it becomes a "grey area." A "controversial topic." A "hot button issue."

Why?

Why should it be any of those things?

If a bunch of kids tormented a girl because she was a girl or an African-American kid because of his race, it would be stopped.

Let's not mince words here: It would be put to a stop.

Yet we are now witnessing an epidemic of gay students existing during what is supposed to be an enlightened and progressive time in our country, and they are being targeted and at…

Glee Does Britney...Why?

Glee has become known for its tribute episodes.

Tonight marked the third in only two years that highlighted a particular artist.

First there was Madonna, then Lady Gaga, and now--Britney.

Of the three episodes, tonight's was, by far, the most puzzling.

The Madonna episode was a fitting tribute, and an actual plot was constructed around the Material Girl's songs. Likewise, the Gaga episode was an over-the-top extravaganza but still managed to make a point.

Then we come to tonight's Britney Spears-filled lovefest, which was...

...Kind of pointless.

For one thing, most of the Britney numbers were just remakes of all her old videos. Granted, Britney's songs don't always lend themselves to the sort of theatricality that Madonna and Gaga's do.

Still, the bigger problem seems to be that whereas Madonna and Gaga are champions for individuality and creativity, that was never exactly Britney Spears' message.

If anything, Britney was the head cheerleader--not the so…

Americans Flunk Religion

As someone who went to a Catholic school that believed in educating its students on many different religions, I'd like to believe I would do pretty well on a religion test.

Then I took the quiz put together by The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life and found on CNN.com. It is a quiz that most people in America failed.

I've been keeping my distance from organized religion lately, and I still did fairly well on the quiz. Then I found out that might not be such a coincidence.

Believe it or not, the people who did the best on the quiz were atheists and agnostics.

That means most people don't know much about...their own religion.

This isn't so surprising if you think about it.

Most religions preach tolerance and acceptance, and if most people knew that, they'd realize they're not allowed to hate or legislate against all the people they'd like to--and that just wouldn't go over well.

So instead, ignorance continues to be bliss.

The more you know, the l…

When Writers Ruin Their Own Work

This weekend, I grabbed a copy of "S**t My Dad Says" by Justin Halpern off the shelf at my library to see if it really was as funny as I'd heard.

It was--and then some.

After finishing the book in just two hours, I went on the CBS website and watched the highly publicized television adaptation of it starring William Shatner to see if it was as funny as the book.

It wasn't--and then some.

Now, it's not unusual for a book to get lost in translation between page and screen, but it's a lot more disappointing when the actual writer is involved with the project.

Halpern is one of the writers for the show, and yet the book's edge is completely lost within the sitcom. The show bears almost no resemblance to the book at all, and not a single hilarious quip from the book was used in the first episode.

I'm always amazed at seeing writers mangle their own successes. Back when Hollywood used to hand everything over to professional screenwriters, adaptations woul…

30 Rock: Now That's Comedy

30 Rock began its fifth season tonight, and it once again proved itself to be the perfect example of what a modern television sitcom should be.

Special guest stars, pregnancies, and being on the air for almost a hundred episodes are things that would normally be traps for any television show, but this show has managed to keep its best and smartest weapon all these years:

Tina Fey.

Tonight's premiere featured what 30 Rock fans have come to expect from the multiple Emmy winner (and, let's face it, NBC's only shining star at the moment).

It's like intellectual soul food that still manages to be silly and downright absurd at times.

Within a single half hour, the show managed to coin a new catchphrase "the Fabian technique," seamlessly work in a fantastic comedic performance by Matt Damon as Liz's boyfriend, give Alec Baldwin a hilarious scene where he tries to seduce a gay interior decorator, and pull off two subplots involving Tracy Morgan's character se…

My Top Chef All-Star Picks

Here are my rankings for the Top Chef All-Star season. I'm rating from Worst Chef to Top Chef (my favorite to win). I'll give the Top Chef people credit, this is a killer line-up. Granted, an All-Star Season would feel a lot more special if they hadn't done so many stupid reunion shows.

I agree with not letting the Top Chefs participate, but at the same time, I think part of the reason they're not letting them compete is because they'd be getting knocked out early. Aside from Mike Voltaggio and Hung, none of the Top Chefs actually deserved their win. Hosea? I'm still mad about it.

One particular note of praise? Thank GOD they did not bring back Lisa from Top Chef Chicago. I couldn't take one more episode of her.

Worst to Best

18. Mike Isabella - They couldn't get Brian Voltaggio? Two Top Chefs from the same family would be amazing. PS. When are the Voltaggios getting a reality show about opening a restaurant called "We're Brothers B…

What I Learned When My Mom Got Divorced

An article was posted on CNN.com about children of divorce and their determination to stay married. Statistics show that if one person in a marriage is a child of divorce, the chances are 50% higher that the marriage will end in divorce, and 200% higher if both spouses are children of divorce.

The article makes it sound like all of these people were wronged by their flaky parents who got married and divorced for frivolous reasons.

There's absolutely no mention of anybody LEARNING anything from their parents' divorce, instead of just railing against it.

I wrote a letter to my mother almost two decades after her divorce, because I felt badly about the way I acted towards her when I was a teenager. I used to make her feel like all her problems were the result of her choosing to divorce my father. Like some of the people in the article, I wanted every issue I had with relationships to be the fault of my "broken home."

In reality, I would have had those same problems even …

Glee: Ryan Murphy Shows His Age

Any fan of Nip/Tuck will tell you: Ryan Murphy has a problem with longevity.

The first three seasons of N/T were fantastic, but once the Carver was revealed, everything went downhill.

Okay, you say, so the man had three good years on a show. What's wrong with that?

Well, keep in mind, those three seasons were on cable, which means they only made up about a year and a half worth of network television.

So it's fair to say that there's a good reason to worry about Murphy's biggest hit to date:

Glee.

I could already see the cracks in the facade last season.

I know you Gleeks don't want to hear it, but even you have to admit that by Episode 13, Murphy had finished up most of his storylines and there really wasn't anywhere to go...

...Except down.

The second half of last season was just him stalling for time by doing "special" episodes like the Lady Gaga-fest.

Oh sure, they're fun, but how about a little plot every now and again?

By the end of the season, the ga…

Will There Ever Be Another Dallas?

Every year, every television season has a theme.

The year after Lost and Desperate Housewives premiered, every show the following Fall was either a campy, over-the-top mystery or a moody drama with long story arcs.

When the WB premiered Dawson's Creek to big ratings, teenagers took over the airwaves to varying degrees of success.

And of course, we still haven't recovered from the reality tv onslaught that followed Survivor's first season.

So what's the theme this year?

Well, call me nostalgic, but I actually thought it was sweet that Fox's new television show Lone Star used an old favorite as a comparison to try and get people to watch, instead of a popular show that's already on television.

In one of its promotional ads, Lone Star compared itself to--

--Dallas.

Now, I guess the comparison isn't that far out.

The show does take place in Texas. It is a soapy-looking drama. Plus, it seems to be seeking the moniker that no longer exists on the airwaves these days:

App…

Theater for the Press

A few years ago, I went to New York to see a show in previews.

The show was a total disaster.

Actors were searching for lines, which meant the pacing was horrible. The direction was non-existent (and I don't mean that in a positive way). Funnily enough, however, the technical side of things was fine.

After the preview, the show opened and got rave reviews.

A friend said that I shouldn't have expected much. After all, it was a preview. They got the show in shape by the time it opened.

I responded with--"Well, gee, good thing I didn't pay seventy dollars for the ticket then."

Look, I know when you see a show in previews, changes might be made, but those changes shouldn't involve the actors learning their lines or the director finally deciding to put some effort in.

It seems like a lot of people now work a show up to press night, aim for a good review, and then coast on that until the end of the run.

One of my friends went to New York recently and saw a show that…

An Old Man Wearing Abercrombie

It's easy to pick my biggest turn-off--and I'm talking like "in life."

Beyond ignorance, cruelty, cattiness, and/or a lack of appreciation for Veronica Mars, my biggest turn-off is a man past the age of thirty wearing an Abercrombie t-shirt.

Every time I see it, it makes me want to walk up to him, tap him on the shoulder, and say--"Who is it you think you're fooling?"

There was one guy in Providence that I would see walking around all the time who always dressed like he'd just left his junior prom, and he was easily in his mid-forties.

I cannot imagine a more unattractive sight.

And it has nothing to do with how good he looks for his age. Looking good IS dressing your age.

Look at George Clooney. You don't see him walking around in khaki shorts and an ironic t-shirt.

He dresses his age, and looks all the better for it.

Nobody's saying you have to put on a cardigan and pleated pants, but for the love of God, please do not be dressed head-to-toe in …

I Like to Think

I work at a library, and part of my job involves helping people find books to read.

One disturbing sentence keeps popping up.

"I don't like to think."

People actually say this--unabashedly even.

They say when they read they don't like to think. I've also heard some of these same people say when they go to the movies, they don't like to think. When they watch television, they don't like to think.

It occurs to me that when shows like Jersey Shore get more viewers than Mad Men, there's a very good chance we've turned into a non-thinking society.

What I find interesting is the assumed flip side of the statement.

It's as if people are saying--"When I'm being entertained I don't like to think, because I'm thinking the rest of the time."

In reality, we all know this isn't true.

Many of us could go days without engaging our minds in actual thought.

Some people avoid anything that involves conversation or disagreement.

How often do you…

"Freedom" by Jonathan Franzen (Pt. 1)

Opening up "Freedom" by Jonathan Franzen was like opening up a Christmas present.

The novel has stirred up so much attention and excitement that I paused my current "must read" list and started right in on the book that has everybody talking.

I usually read a book in fifty page increments, and I have to say, the first fifty pages of "Freedom" is so good and full that you close the book and wonder--"What the hell else can he possibly have to say?"

That's when you realize you're in for one hell of a ride.

The first part of the book "Good Neighbors" reads like a novella.

The reader starts out thinking "Okay, I know what this book is about. I know exactly what's going to happen. It's going to be a half-ton book with limited plot and lots of pretentious thought and ruminating."

And oooohhhhh are you wrong.

"Good Neighbors" ends well before page 50, and by that point, you've soaked up over a decade in the l…

Don't Put a Hamster in the Fish Bowl

This primary season has been famous for one thing:

The anti-incumbent sentiment.

I understand the feeling of many of the voters out there.

They feel that things have gotten so bad, it's simply not enough to keep flip-flopping Democrats and Republicans.

This makes sense.

The part that doesn't make sense is the idea that the only way to fix the system is to flood it with amateur politicians.

Just so we're clear, the system we're talking about is not a mini-van. It's not a junior high school. It's not an Xbox.

It's a government.

That means it's most closely related to HAL from "2001: A Space Odyssey."

Pump it full of people who don't understand it, and it will eat those people alive.

Pardon me for sounding like Dr. Phil, but I don't care how smart a hamster is--when you put it in a fishbowl, it's going to drown. It's not going to change the fishbowl into a hamster cage.

The solution to fixing a corrupt government isn't to elect people…

Lunch with the Boys: Calling Dibs

Few subjects can solicit as much debate amongst friends as the age old practice of--

Calling dibs.

TURNER: You can't call dibs on a straight guy!

Where else could this conversation take place?

BRIAN: I disagree.

It was time for lunch with the boys.

Brian liked a guy--a straight guy--that he met out one night with his friend Jen. Jen now wanted to go out with the guy, and Brian felt she was crossing the line.

BRIAN: I liked him first!
TURNER: But he's straight! There's no chance of anything between the two of you!
BRIAN: Oh, but if I were a girl and there wasn't a chance--
TURNER: That would be different.
BRIAN: How would it be different?
TURNER: Because there could never be no chance.
ME: That's a double negative.
SCOOTER: What I ordered?
ME: What he said.
SCOOTER: Oh good, I thought I got the salmon.

Turner argued that there was always a sliver of a chance between a girl and a guy, whereas there is no chance between a straight guy and a gay guy.

SCOOTER: Clearly, som…

There is No Main Street, USA

I read a really interesting book about the Puritans by Sarah Vowell entitled "The Wordy Shipmates."

One of the fascinating things about the book is the dismantling of the perception most people have of the people who founded this country.

It turns out the Puritans weren't stuck-up witch-burners--at least, not all of them.

They valued education above everything but their religion, and they actually weren't that opposed to promiscuity. They believed loving anybody more than you love God was wrong, but they weren't all that concerned by what you did with your body.

Another myth Vowell dispels is what I call "The American Myth." It's this idea that at some point in American history politics wasn't corrupt, everybody loved and hugged each other all the time, and life was simple.

False, false, and false.

From the beginning, this country was rife with corruption. If anything, people back then were worse, because it was a lot easier for them to keep minori…

The Hurricane Game

The next big hurricane that's never going to amount to anything has been announced:

Igor.

What a great name for a hurricane right?

After all, it's sort of hard not to laugh at a hurricane called Earl, but Igor?

I know I'm terrified.

The top story on CNN this morning is that Igor has turned into a Category 5 hurricane--that's a five out of five.

What they don't tell you in the CNN headline is that Igor is out to sea and it doesn't look like it's coming on land anytime soon.

So what does that mean?

It means THERE'S NO POINT IN REPORTING ON IT!

But of course, the media simply can't resist trying to scare us with hurricanes. It's become their new favorite pastime.

And in Rhode Island, everybody's favorite new game is to spend hard-earned money on supplies for Hurricanes that aren't coming.

What I find interesting is that nobody from the theater, restaurant, or nightlife community criticized the local media for blowing a hurricane out of proportion the…

It's an Intervention, Charlie Brown!

We knew we had to do it before the Great Pumpkin showed up.

ME: Charlie Brown, could you sit down please?

We told C.B. that he was going to be doing a special on Arbor Day entitled "Trees are Awesome, Charlie Brown."

He's so out of it lately, he didn't even realize how ridiculous that sounded.

When he walked into the room, fear came into his eyes.

He knew instantly what was happening.

The first person he hugged was Linus.

I could hear him whispering under his breath.

CHARLIE BROWN: Dude, you told me this wasn't an intervention.
LINUS: We're here to save your life, Charlie Brown.
CHARLIE BROWN: You lied.
LINUS: I lied to save you.
CHARLIE BROWN: The next time we go to the bridge, I'm pushing your ass off it.

He hugged the others, then sat down the couch.

ME: Hi Charlie Brown, my name is Kevin, and I watch Intervention for hours at a time.
CHARLIE BROWN: That's...what?
ME: As an Intervention-watching specialist, I was asked to come here because all of your fri…

Can You Plagiarize Your Own Life?

This week in the word of post-modernism, a person is accused of plagiarizing...their own life.

Okay, it's a bit trickier than that.

Tony Blair is being accused of taking lines from the movie "The Queen" written by Peter Morgan, and using them in his book "A Journey."

The lines in question come from a scene in "The Queen" when Blair meets Queen Elizabeth for the first time.

Morgan claims that he made up the entire scene, so there's no way there could be similarities between what Blair wrote and what Morgan created.

Now, it's possible that Morgan just has an eerily accurate imagination.

The other possibility is that Blair saw "The Queen" and replaced his memory of meeting Queen Elizabeth with what happened in the movie.

This may seem odd unless you consider that other celebrities have admitted that film versions of their lives have influenced their memories.

Frank McCourt said that after "Angela's Ashes" came out, he started reme…

Dropping David Off at School

This weekend, my brother David moved out of my Mom's house.

He moved into a house near URI, and the entire family was enlisted to help him settle in at his new place.

At least, that's what we were told.

In reality, we were there to make sure my mother didn't find a pond to jump into.

MOM: My baby's moving out!
RYAN: Mom, I'm younger than David.
MOM: Don't try to calm me down!

I thought maybe I could help relax her.

ME: Mom, just think, in another year Ryan will be in school, then you'll have plenty of time to spend by yourself.
MOM: You know who likes spending time by themselves?
ME: Bad mothers?
MOM: BAD MOTHERS!

Forgive her, ladies, she was in hysterics.

It didn't help that a bunch of girls across the street came over to say hi as my brother was moving in.

RANDOM GIRL #1: Are you a sophomore?
RYAN: Uh, yeah.
ME: He's actually a junior--in high school.
RYAN: Way to CB me, bro.
ME: I could smell the herpes from where I was standing. I did you a favor.
MOM…

Shame the Children

A teacher friend recently told me that she had a problem with kids calling stuff "gay."

Now, this isn't exactly a new problem, but I did manage to come up with a new solution:

"Did you think about telling them that they're lame?"

She didn't know what I meant.

"You mean explain to them that what they're saying is prejudiced and--"
"Yeah, no, they've already heard that, I'm sure. Why not just tell them it's, like, really stupid?"

Well, she can't use the word "stupid" because that's banned in her classroom as well.

"Okay, but the only way teenagers stop doing ANYTHING is if they think it's uncool. So you have to make it uncool."
"How do I do that?"
"Shame them."

To me, it seems pretty simple.

After all, my teacher friend was in high school when "Mean Girls" came out. My generation should know how to handle stuff like this. Go toe-to-toe with the mean kids. Unfortuna…

The Best Movies You've Never Seen

Today I made an admission to a friend--I'd never seen Rushmore.

Don't ask me how it happened.

When it came out, I was still pretty young. Then, despite the fact that Comedy Central ran it every day for a solid month, I still never felt the urge to watch it.

By the time I'd seen everything else Wes Anderson did, and realized that Rushmore was probably really good, and I should rent it--I...

Well, I never got around to it.

Then I started thinking about other great movies I haven't seen.

When I was in college, one of the best classes I ever took involved an entire day where you confess what classic novels you've never read. It's amazing to see the shame people harbor over not having been exposed to a piece of literature, or a great film.

I think with movies it's even easier to miss great stuff, because now it's so easy to access pretty much any film you like. You think, "Oh, when I have time some weekend, I'll get around to watching that."

And the…

Shut Up, Jodi Picoult

Jonathan Franzen recently came out with his new novel "Freedom" to much attention.

This week, Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Weiner claimed that Franzen was getting "over coverage" for the novel, and that it's unfair male authors get so much more attention than female authors.

First off, these two complaining that they don't get enough coverage is laughable.

Weiner is a self-proclaimed chick lit writer. Chick lit doesn't get attention from the New York Times Book Review the same way that McDonald's doesn't get attention from Food and Wine magazine.

If you're writing for the paychecks, that's fine. But don't get upset and pull the "it's because I'm a girl" card just because you can't have artistic integrity on top of the pile of money you're sleeping on.

Picoult is a bit trickier, but only because she actually believes she's writing Nobel Prize worthy material. If you follow her on Twitter (as I do) you can tell…

I Don't Believe Drew Barrymore

Today I saw the new romantic comedy "Going the Distance" starring Drew Barrymore and Justin Long.

It was a surprisingly really good movie--aside from Drew Barrymore and Justin Long.

Actually, that's not fair.

It's not that Drew Barrymore and Justin Long can't act. It's that I don't believe a single thing they say.

Okay, that's not fair either.

I believe Justin Long when he's playing a quirky kid hanging out in a bowling alley, as he did on Ed before producers actually started thinking he could carry movies on his own.

I never believe him as being anyone over the age of fifteen.

In the godawful movie "He's Just Not That Into You," Long was supposedly the manager of a bar.

I don't believe he'd even get into a bar without getting carded twice, so believing that he ran one was just too big of a jump for me.

I'm a little surprised that at a time when every Hollywood star is trying to pass themselves off as a teenager, Justin Long is t…

But You're Not From New York

Over the past few days, an article from the Onion was posted all over Facebook.

Like all pieces from the Onion, it was satirical, and featured the headline:

"8.4 Million New Yorkers Suddenly Realize New York City A Horrible Place To Live"

The article was really funny, but I was surprised to see so many people post it.

Then it occurred to me that perhaps it had struck a chord with people because of something I'd been feeling a few months ago.

I was getting really frustrated with seeing so many of my friends move to New York. That's not unusual when you're a performer, and obviously New York is a fantastic city to live in when you're an artist, but it was just sad to me that so many people felt there were no options for a career in the arts outside of New York.

On top of that, I was hearing left and right about "New York" actors.

Outside of New York, an actor who has lived in New York can always turn a few heads when they mention where they're from at a…

The Rhode Island Supermarket Principle

I have a theory.

I've discovered where I work that if ten different people come in at ten different times, they will all proceed to checkout at the exact same time.

Believe me, it has taken me years to gather my research together, but now I'm convinced.

Just tonight, it happened to me in the supermarket.

I arrived there to pick up a few items, and after walking around the store, I ascertained that there were about seven other people there in addition to myself.

Every single one of those seven people decided to check out right when I started walking to the front.

So what does this information prove?

That Rhode Islanders enjoy making each other's lives difficult.

I'm convinced of it.

At the very least, Rhode Islanders are determined to make my life more difficult.

How else can you explain that when I'm in a hurry I always seem to have the one person in the state in front of me who goes ten miles below the speed limit?

How else can you explain the fact that when I go to Barnes a…

Germs and the Men Who Love Them

My friend Melyssa is not going to like this.

She believes in sterilizing everything, and I...

Well...

I am averse to getting rid of germs.

Now, don't get me wrong.

I wash my hands. I do dishes. I take out the trash.

I just don't overdo everything.

When my hands touch something older or a little more worn, I don't think about washing my hands. I don't get freaked out if someone sneezes near me. I don't try to avoid sick people aside from staying a few feet from them.

I'm a big believer in building up natural immunity.

It scares me to see how crazy parents get with their kids when it comes to keeping them clean. I realize we all had an H1N1 scare a few months back, but we're past that now, and parents are still scrubbing their kids clean like they're going into surgery every time they're at a public place.

What's worse is that the kids are now developing the bad habit of sanitizing themselves wherever they go at least twice--partially because it's …