Thursday, August 31, 2006

Gay Jewish Porn Star To Support Israeli Troops

I have not previously blogged about the Israel-Hezbollah war in the Middle East but this is an irresistible story I snagged from TerranceDC's latest QueerlyKos round up. Michael Lucas, a Russian American, gay Jewish porn star (Yes, Hadassah, they do exist!) is going to visit Israel to entertain the Israel troops in the wake of the latest armed conflict in the region.

There are many reasons why this story is interesting to me. First, I get to post pictures of hot barechested guys (always a good thing :-) on a blog!) to illustrate my thoughts. Second, this development highlights the different ways different countries deal with "the gays in the military" problem. Third, I get to highlight an interesting (read: titillating) gay blog that I just recently discovered (Michael Lucas has his own blog, called LucasBlog). Fourthly, the story deconstructs sexual stereotypes of Jewish people (the Wikipedia profile of Michael Lucas points out that he was a Falcon Studios exclusive with an official endowment of "11 inches" --cut, one would presume!)

The status of gays in the United States military is an instructive one. The "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy is a clear failure but it is the law of the land, despite vast majorities of Americans who think the policy should be repealed and gay, lesbian and bisexual citizens allowed to serve openly in the military. This just goes to show that public opinion and public policy do NOT always go hand-in-hand, particularly when the issue deals with homosexuality.

I believe that the current controversy over marriage equality may have political parallels. Despite the fact that the public is reasonably split on how to address legal recognition of same-sex relationships, almost 20 states have passed constitutional amendments (the nuclear option in terms of public policy) to ban recognition of same-sex marriage, and a few of these measures also prohibit civil unions also.

In 2007 it is very likely that same-sex marriage will become legal in California either by legislative enactment or by the State Supreme Court finally deciding Woo v Lockyer. Regardless it is clear that the response will be a statewide initiative to ban same-sex marriage and/or domestic partnerships in 2008. And then what the public policy of the state should be and what public opinion thinks the public policy of the state should be will be put to the test.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Black Tennis Report for August

2005 Wimbledon champion (30)VenusWilliams has withdrawn from the 2006 US Open due to a lingering wrist injury. She hasn't played a WTA Tour match since her 3rd round loss to Jelena Jankovic at Wimbledon.

Serena Williams won her second round match against (17)Daniela Hantuchova.

(5)James Blake won his first round match against Juan Monaco.

Chandra Rubin lost her first round match against (9)Nicole Vaidisova.

Shenay Perry lost her first round match against Eleni Danilidou.

(27)Gael Monfils lost his second round match to Wesley Moodie. (Maybe it's the hair?)

I may have a second special US Open edition of Black Tennis Report after my trip to the US Open next week. I have tickets for the Monday Labor Day session and Tuesday September 6.

At the JP Morgan Chase Open in Los Angeles, Mad Professah attended Serena's Round of 16 match against Daniela Hantuchova and blogged it extensively. Serena came back from 1-6, 0-1 down to win the match 1-6, 6-3, 6-3. She then played another epic 3-set match against Meghan Shaunessey in the quarterfinals which she won. In the semifinals Serena was blasted off the court in straight sets by the hard hitting Jelena Jankovic. The tournament ended up being won by Elena Dementieva.

Since James Blake earned the #5 ranking in the World he has not won a single tournament. He lost to Marat Safin in Washington, D.C. and he lost to Juan Carlos Ferrero in Cincinnati. He also failed to defend his title at the Pilot Pen tournament right outside his hometown of Fairfield, CT by losing to Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo in a third set tie break 2-6, 7-6(6), 7-6(4) after having service break leads in boththe second and third sets. Hopefully the jinx will end at the 2006 US Open, the site of last year's instant classic quarterfinal match against Andre Agassi as well as his dismissal of World #2 Rafael Nadal.

US OPEN 2006: Women's Seeds Predictions

The US Open draw was released on Wednesday August 23rd. The 2005 champions were Kim Clijsters (who is out with a left wrist injury) and Roger Federer. The list of seeded players is available. Here is my preview of this year's U.S. Open.

(1) Amélie Mauresmo. 2006 has been the Frenchwoman's breakthrough year with two Grand Slam titles seven years after reaching the 1999 Australian Open final. Although her mental issues have been resolved by her recent major success she has been injured recently and lost pretty easily to a still-recovering-from-injury Davenport last week. She looked particularly sluggish in her first round match, but that could also have been due to the atrocious weather conditions. Prediction: Quarter/Semi-Finalist.
(2) Justine Henin-Hardenne. The "Little Backhand That Could" has reached the final of the first three Grand Slam tournaments of the year, the first woman to do that since Martina Hingis in 1997. However, the Belgian lost two of those finals to Mauresmo. She has a pretty good chance of getting to the final in New York also, but I suspect that Vaidisova, Dementieva and Schnyder will not be enough to prevent her from completing the significant achievement of reaching all four major finals in a calendar year. I may revise this prediction later in the tournamrnt. Prediction: Semi/Finalist.
(3) Maria Sharapova. As usual, the now hulking 6'3" Russian American phenom has a favorable draw at a major. However,this time I think she is tanned, rested and ready to take advantage of her luck and go all the way to the final. Prediction: Finalist.
(4) Elena Dementieva. She has a beautiful draw, with no one really causing her problems until the quarterfinal. Her serve has improved and her title win in Los Angeles recently shows that she is playing well on hardcourts. She has made it at least as far as the semifinals in the last two US Opens and I think she will equal that performance this year. Prediction: Quarter/Semi-Finalist.
(5) Nadia Petrova.
No one was playing better than the mercurial Nadia during this year's clay court season but then she had a shock early round loss at the French and a serious groin injury and hasn't been the same since. Prediction: Early Round loss.
(6) Svetlana Kuznetsova. The 2004 champion has had something of a comeback this year by winning "the fifth major" (the NASDAQ-100 Open soon to be renamed the Sony Ericsson Open) in March over Sharapova and reaching the Roland Garros final against Henin-Hardenne. Prediction: Fourth Round loss.
(7) Patty Schnyder. The crafty lefty has often underperformed in Grand Slams. She's stuck in the half of the draw with Henin-Hardenne, Vaidisova, Dementieva and Davenport. Prediction: Fourth Round loss.
(8) Martina Hingis. The come-back kid was destroyed last week by hard-hitting Ana Ivanovic two weeks ago in Montreal. The bad news for the Swiss Miss that Ivanovic is in her quarter and even if she gets past that she would have to play Sharapova. Prediction: Quarter-Finalist.
(9) Nicole Vaidisova.
The knowledgeable Jon Wertheim is predicting the hard-hitting Czech will make it to the final against Sharapova. I don't really disagree but I want to wait until the beginning of the second week until I see how Vaidisova is reacting to the raised expectations by her impressive run on clay. Prediction: Semi-finalist.
(10) Lindsay Davenport. Had to retire with a sore arm last Sunday in the title match against Henin-Hardenne at the Pilot Pen tournament in New Haven. May be retiring from a lot more in 2007. If she can play through the pain she should be able to make it to a quarterfinal against Henin-Hardenne but I don't see her getting through that match without divine intervention or Prediction: Quarter-Finalist.

State Legislature Approves Measure To Allow Domestic Partners To File Joint State Tax Returns

California Democrats finally found a tax cut measure the Sacramento Republicans wouldn't support (one that would reduce the taxes of an estimated 59% of registered domestic partners). SB 1827 (Migden) would close the last significant gap in state provided benefits to registered domestic partners, ending a campaign begun nearly 7 years ago by the openly lesbian legislator from San Francisco, now State Senate Majority Whip Carole Migden. The State Income Tax Equity Act passed the Assembly on Thursday August 24 and sent the final version to the Governor's desk yesterday.

The measure is a significant element of the mix of nine LGBT-related bills the Democrat-dominated Caifornia Legislature is passing this week and sending to the Republican Governor's desk for his signature, veto or assent. All this is going on in the midst of a gubernatorial re-election campaign, and 10 weeks before the entire Assembly faces the voters on November 7.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Governator Signs Kuehl's Anti-Discrimination Bill, Expresses Doubt On Others

From Equality California comes word that the Governor has signed State Senator Sheila Kuehl's SB 1441 which banned discrimination in state operated or funded programs on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.

The fundies are not happy about this decision by the Republic gubernatorial candidate. This comes in light of a recent SurveyUSA poll where California Republicans are supporting their party's official candidate by a ratio of 30 to 1 and Independent voters are supporting Schwarzenegger by 2 to 1.

The Governor will have a lot of decisions to make on this and hundreds of other bills which will go to his desk in the next two days. Mad Professah will be watching carefully to see if the Governor will reach a different decision regarding two other bills sponsored by Sheila Kuehl: SB 840 (Health Care For All Act) and SB 1437 (Bias Free Curriculum Act). However, in today's Los Angeles Times Arnold Schwazrenegger is quoted as saying "I don't believe in universal healthcare. I don't believe that government should be getting in there and should start running a healthcare system that is kind of done and worked on by government." For those of you who weren't convinced after he vetoed the first legislatively enacted bill to end gender discrimination in marriage, perhaps this will be enough to make you understand why California needs a new Governor.

2006 Emmy Award Predictions REPORT

Okay, so here is a summary of my previous predictions for the 2006 Emmy Awards combined with the actual results. Close readers will notice that Mad Professah scored an impressive four out of six accuracy rate in correct predictions. Woo hoo! And there's only 179 days until the Oscars are handed out on February 25, 2007!

Outstanding Comedy Series

SHOULD WIN: No Opinion! (I don't watch any of these shows)
WILL WIN: The Office.

WON: The Office.

Outstanding Drama Series

WILL WIN: Grey's Anatomy.

WON: 24.

Outstanding Reality-Competition Program

SHOULD WIN: Survivor.
WILL WIN: The Amazing Race.

WON: The Amazing Race.

Outstanding Miniseries

SHOULD WIN: Elizabeth I.

WON: Elizabeth I.

Lead Actor in a Drama Series

SHOULD WIN: Keifer Sutherland.
WILL WIN: Keifer Sutherland.

WON: Keifer Sutherland.

Lead Actress in a Drama Series

SHOULD WIN: Allison Janney.
WILL WIN: Mariska Hargitay.

WON: Mariska Hargitay.

California Legislature Takes Stand On Condoms in Prisons

MadProfessah has been a strong supporter of State Assemblyman Paul Koretz for a long time. He is the sponsor of AB 1677, a bill to allow condom distribution in California prisons.
While I was off learning skills for how to save the world in Cincinnati, Ohio last weekend the California State Senate passed the bill 22-16 and sent it to Governator's desk, who has not articulated a position on whether he will sign it into law or not.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Out Gay Actor Wins Emmy for Will & Grace

Congratulations to Leslie Jordan of the thankfully now-cancelled Will & Grace for his Emmy win on Sunday for Best Guest Actor in a Comedy Series. I earlier reported on the Simpsons winning their ninth Best Animated Series Emmy but the official Los Angeles Times report on the creative Arts Emmy Awards didn't mention Jordan's win at all! Instead, I got the news from Out In Hollywood today:
The wonderful Leslie Jordan, best known for his role in the film and stage versions of "Sordid Lives" won an Emmy over the weekend for his hilarious portrayal of Beverley Leslie on "Will & Grace." His [filthy] rich, bitchy and once comically closeted character graced 12 episodes of the series and is most noteable for his running fued with boozy, pill-popping Karen Walker (Megan Mullally). Unfortunately, in the series finale, the 4-foot, 11-inch Jordan literally blew out of a window to his demise just as he had found happiness with Jack (Sean Hayes).

Leslie Jordan is a lovely person, who has been a strong supper of gay and AIDS causes in the community for decades and is a pleasure to work with. I can't wait to see what he wears to the Emmys on Sunday, where he will be a presenter. It's nice to see at least one openly gay actor on That Show be finally rewarded for his work over the years!

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Survivor: Cook Islands To Separate Contestants By 'Race'

Tonight the Emmy Awards are happening in Los Angeles but the television world is buzzing about the latest reality television outrage. The latest (13th!) edition of the seminal reality television series Survivor (set in the Cook Islands) is going to separate the twenty contestants into four teams of fiveindividuals who (self?) identify as either Black, White, Asian or Latino. The names of the candidates as well as a group photo has been released.
Rebecca Borman, 24, makeup artist, Laurelton, New York;
Anh-Tuan "Cao Boi" Bui, 42, nail salon manager, Christiansburg, Virginia;
Sekou Bunch, 45, jazz musician, Los Angeles;
J.P. Calderon, 30, pro volleyball player, Marina Del Rey, California;
Cristina Coria, 35, police officer, Los Angeles;
Stephannie Favor, 35, nursing student, Columbia, South Carolina;
Billy Garcia, 36, heavy metal guitarist, New York City;
Adam Gentry, 28, copier sales, San Diego;
Nathan Gonzalez, 26, retail sales, Los Angeles;
Jenny Guzon-Bae, 36, real estate agent, Lake Forest, Illinois;
Yul Kwon, 31, management consultant, San Mateo, California;
Becky Lee, 28, attorney, Washington, D.C.;
Oscar "Ozzy" Lusth, 25, waiter, Venice, California;
Cecilia Mansilla, 29, technology risk consultant, Oakland;
Sundra Oakley, 31, actress, Los Angeles;
Jonathan Penner, 44, writer/producer, Los Angeles;
Parvati Shallow, 23, boxer/waitress, Los Angeles;
Jessica Smith, 27, performance artist/rollergirl, Chico, California;
Brad Virata, 29, fashion director, Los Angeles;
Candice Woodcock, 23, premed student, Fayetteville, North Carolina.
The latest installment debuts on CBS on September 14th. Last season Survivor separated teams by age and gender (Older Men, Older Women, Younger Men, Younger Women) and the ratings were disastrously low as the ambiguously heterosexual Aras Baskauskas walked away with the winner's $1 million dollar prize.

So the producer Mark Burnett came up with this "separate but equal" idea. However, Mad Professah notices some other differences in this cast. 9 of the 20 cast members come from the Los Angeles area (and another comes from San Diego and 2 more from Northern California). The average age is just over 31 years.

The reaction to the new of a segregated Survivor has been mixed, at best. My main complaint is the lack of nuance in the understanding of 'race' demonstrated by the format chosen of only four teams. I thought that after the PBS series Race: The Power of an Illusion from a few years ago, most Americans now know that the concept of race is socially constructed, that is, it is manufactured by societal and sociological forces which are historial, political, and cultural. This does not mean that race is merely a figment of our collective imagination and therefor is not "real"! However, a more intellectual understanding of the concept of race would not lead one to make up of teams consisting of "Black, White, Brown and Yellow" people! Oy vey!

My first objection is that you are leaving out a lot of "racial groups" by merely selecting these four to make up separate teams. My second objection is that you are also completely negating the presence of multiracial people. My third objection is with the selection criteria of the people into the racial teams. I can predict now that a lot of the fan/public commentary of this edition of Survivor will be about the authenticity of the racial representation of particular individuals as well as wild speculation and repetition of damaging stereotypes and preconceptions about physical and mental attributes of specific "races."

If I were going to make a suggestion for a segregated Survivor I would have a "White" team (of people who self-identify themselves as White), a team of people who self-identify themselves as "non-White," and possibly a separate team of people who self-identify as "multi-racial." My first thought was also to include a team of people who don't self-identify as any race (i.e. Decline to States) but I think this category is sufficiently problematic as to not be included. I would probably be fine with two teams: White and non-White and leave it at that.

What do you think? Are you gonna watch?

Help I'm in KY...

I'm actually writing this post from a Panera Bread cafe (yay! free wireless!) in northern Kentucky (Crestview Hills location) just outside of Cincinnati. I'm hoping to cross the state line to Indiana later on today and fly back to Los Angeles tomorrow...

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Off to vowel state until Monday

I'm going to be at NGLTF's Power Summit in Cincinnati, Ohio through Monday (this explains my series of posts about the city last week). I am unsure of internet access so blogging may be light...

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Serena Williams is blogging!

Hat tip to On The Baseline for alerting me to the existence of Serena Williams blog. She reports that she is back practicing at Nick Bolleteri's tennis academy in Florida, preparing for her play at the US Open in New York as a Wild Card entry next week. The blog's first entry is dated Monday August 14, so we will see if she keeps up the blog during the tournament.

In yesterday's entry, Serena reports on a number of "pitch meetings" that she went on while in Los Angeles to get television networks interested in a movie about the 50-year friendship between African American tennis champion Althea Gibson and a Jewish player (I had never heard of) named Angela Buxton, based on a book called The Match: A Portrait Of A Friendship. Apparently Serena's pitch went better than the pitch shown in this week's Entourage episode, because she seems excited about playing Althea and writes again that she "loves acting."

Fields Medal Awarded to UCLA Prof, 3 others

The New York Times and Queerty (!) reported that the Fields Medal was awarded to four mathematicans last week. The Fields Medal is awarded every four years by the International Congress of Mathematicians, which was held in Madrid in 2006. It is widely considered the most prestigious award in mathematics, since there is no Nobel Prize in Mathematics. The four announced winners of the Fields Medal were awarded to Andrei Okounkov (Princeton University), Wendelin Werner (Université Paris-Sud), Terence Tao (UCLA) and Grigory Perelman, who refused the award! The award is only given to mathematicians who are 40 years old or younger.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Legislature To Send LGBT Curriculum Bill To Governor

On Monday, the State Assembly passed State Senator Sheila J. Kuehl's "Bias Free Curriculum Act" by a vote of 47-31 with one Republican (Keith Richman) voting for SB 1437 and one Democrat (Nicole Parra) voting against it. The bill amends the California Education Code to include sexual orientation and gender identity in existing statutory prohibitions against the use of bias in instructional materials based on race, national origin, religion, sex, color, or handicap.

Since the author substantially weakened the impact of the bill to appease the Governor earlier this month after it had already passed the State Senate, it must return to that chamber before heading to Governor Schwarzenegger's desk for his signature or veto.

The heterosexual supremacists who are supporting the Republican incumbent's re-election still oppose even the diluted measure which passed the Assembly. “It removes some redundant passages, some meaningless passages, but the core remains the same. It will turn every California public school into a sexual indoctrination center.”

This statement is so inflammatory and false on its face it doesn't really require a response, does it?

Did the New York Times out Roger Federer?

David Foster Wallace's much-hyped article on Roger Federer for the New York Times "Play" magazine is now available online (hat tip to Off The Baseline.) However, what interests me is this description of Federer's fiancee, "girlfriend Mirka [Vavrinec, a former women’s Top-100 player, knocked out by injury, who now basically functions as Federer’s Alice B. Toklas]." (text bolded by MadProfessah.)

In case you were unaware, Alice B. Toklas was the longtime companion of celebrated American author Gertrude Stein. They were (and are) famous lesbian icons. It is an interesting analogy chosen by such an accomplished and prolix wordsmith as David Foster Wallace. Toklas was famous for basically two things: 1) being the pre-eminent love of Stein's life and 2) the person who basically self-subjugated her needs to take care of Stein's.

Well, clearly Mirka has similarly sublimated her tennis career goals to be Roger Federer's girlfriend, travelling companion and business manager so that aspect of her relationship to Federer is similar to Alice B. Toklas' relationship to Stein. But how should one parse the same-sex imagery invoked by declaring that Roger Federer's companion is similar to a famously frumpy lesbian?

MadProfessah is reminded of the popular gay quiz from years ago: "Gay, or Eurotrash?" popularized by Blair magazine. Is David Foster Wallace intimating that Roger Federer is gay? Or just European? He does, after all, in the rest of the article use the word "beautiful" to describe Federer, whichis an awfully unusual word for one heterosexual male to describe a world-class heterosexual male athlete. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Monday, August 21, 2006

MARYLAND: Senate Race Still Close

Taegan Goddard's Political Wire has the latest Rasmussen poll numbers in the Maryland Senate Democratic Primary race with Kweisi Mfume and Ben Cardin as well as possible matchups with likely Republican candidate Michael Steele. The primary is Tuesday September 12. Currently Cardin leads Steele 47% to 42%. Mfume leads Steele 46% to 44%. Currently, Mfume leads Cardin "by a few percentage points" which makes it likely both of the major party nominees will be African Americans. Currently there is one African American Senator, Barack Obama (D-IL), and one Latino Senator, Ken Salazar (D-CO), in the United States Senate.

'The Simpsons' Wins 9th Animated Series Emmy Award

The most consistently funny show on television for the last seventeen years, "The Simpsons" won its ninth Emmy Award on Sunday at the Creative Arts Emmy Award. The episode which won was "The Seemingly Neverending Story." The Prime Time Emmy Awards will be given out in Los Angeles next Sunday August 27. I previously made my predictions for who will win Emmys next week.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Montreal: Singles and Doubles Final Postponed to Monday

Due to rain in Montreal, the women's doubles final featuring lesbian tennis phenom, Martina Navratilova (49!) playing with Nadia Petrova has been postponed to Monday.

The women's singles final featuring Martina Hingis and Ana Ivanovic has also been postponed until Monday.

REVIEW: Akeelah and the Bee

The following quote by Marianne Williamson (attributed to Nelson Mandela in the film) is extremely central to Akeelah and the Bee which I saw earlier this summer at my favorite second-run movie house, the Regency Academy Theaters in Pasadena.
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous,
talented and fabulous.
Actually, who are you not to be?
The movie is quite "heartwarming" but it is not mawkish. (Don't let the quote above fool ya!)As a self-confessed sesquipedalian Word Freak (not just a devotee of Scrabble™, but also Boggle™ and Text Twist™ too!) I loved the premise of Akeelah and the Bee. I guess the "high-concept" summary would be "the documentary Spellbound meets Boyz 'n' the Hood." The amazing Angela Bassett plays the mother of Akeelah Anderson (newcomer Keke Palmer) who is a gifted speller who needs English professor Laurence Fishburne's Dr. Joshua Larrabee's coaching to get to the Scripps-Howard National Spelling Bee. Although the script is shockingly formulaic (the director Doug Atchison won the Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting for his original screenplay a few years ago) the film is still highly enjoyable.

The movie received pretty good reviews but did not do boffo box-office (just under 19 million dollars). It is being released on DVD on Tuesday August 29th. Of course having Oscar nominees Fishburne and Bassett working together is pretty magical (in fact I'm looking forward to seeing them in August Wilson's Fences at the Pasadena Playhouse next month) I'm hoping that critics will not forget Keke Palmer as a contender in the acting categories at the end of the year.


Friday, August 18, 2006

More Shocks In Cincinnati: Nadal Loses

For the first time in five attempts, Juan Carlos Ferrero has defeated World #2 Rafael Nadal. The score was 7-6(2),7-6(3) at the same Cincinnati Masters Series tournament where World #1 Roger Federer shockingly lost to Andrew Murray in straight sets two days ago. Four Spaniards made the quarterfinals of the tournament: Nadal, Ferrero, muy guapo Tommy Robredo and David Ferrer.

Leenah Friday

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Ok, some good things happen in Cincinnati

The Task Force announced today that the anti-gay proposition that was planned for the November 2006 ballot in Cincinnati, Ohio was withdrawn by the sponsors today! (This ballot measure is why I was planning on going to Cincinnati for a week next week.) The group"Equal Rights Not Special Rights" had only submitted 2 more petition signatures than the requisite 7,654 valid signatures needed to insure the measure it's place on the ballot. As many as 1,300 signatures were going to be challenged by Citizens to Restore Fairness (the good guys). The sponsors of the measure admitted fraud and asked that the measure not be placed on the November ballot. Apparently some of the forged signatures were obvious fakes, such as "Fidel Castro," the Cincinnati Enquirer reported. For the first time since 1992, discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity are now illegal in Cincinnati, OH! Hmmm, maybe it will be fun to visit there after all, now that it is a "free city"!

Sad Day: Roger Federer Loses In Cincinnati (Again)

Hmmm, I guess I should start getting nervous about spending a week in Cincinnati August 24-30! Bad things happen there! World #1 Roger Federer lost to 19-year-old Scottish player (and recent Brad Gilbert protege) Andrew Murray in straight sets 7-5, 6-4 at the Western & Southern Financial Group Master Series event.

The loss today ended a number of streaks for Federer. The most prominent was his attempt to make 18 consecutive finals (tying Lendl's record). It was the first time in 194 matches that Federer lost in straight sets! His streak of 55 match wins in North America also ended.

Federer last loss in North America was at the same event on August 3, 2004 to Dominic Hrbaty.

More on Term Limits...

Well, it seems like great minds think alike! Today, Taegan Goddard of Political Wire links to a story by the Associated Press on a report which argues that term limits have not diversified the ranks of elected officials and have also not increased the effectiveness of state legislatures.

"No systematic differences exist in the number of racial and ethnic minorities in the term-limited legislatures versus non-limited legislatures," the report states.


Twenty-one states imposed term limits between 1990 and 2000. But courts in Massachusetts, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming later overturned those limits, and lawmakers in Utah and Idaho repealed theirs. A ballot measure to reinstate limits in Oregon is headed for a vote in November.


By 2004, term limits in 13 states forced 1,200 lawmakers out of office, the study found. But many have returned in their assembly's other chamber, or have run for local office.

Turnover in term-limited House chambers was 11.5 percent higher in the 1990s than in the previous decade, leading to a shortage of seasoned lawmakers in statehouses.

"The difference under term limits is that these legislatures no longer have a small group of long-serving members whose leadership and expertise can guide a largely inexperienced legislature," says the report.

MadProfessah heartily endorses the conclusions of the report. It's interesting whether the report considered the increase in openly gay and lesbian members of state legislatures, but I think that result is not primarily due to term limits.

In addition, the rumored legislative deal in California to swap relaxed term limits with an end to partisan redistricting that I blogged about yesterday failed to come to fruition and will not be considered until after the November 2006 election.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Why George Skelton is Wrong About Partisan Redistricting

In Monday's Los Angeles Times, Sacramento-based political columnist George Skelton's "Capitol Journal" column claims the Democrats have lost a huge opportunity by refusing to go along with non-partisan redistricting in the past:
California Democrats — especially U.S. House candidates — should be poised to clean up in November because of President Bush's bungling, but they're not. And it's their own fault.

They've gerrymandered themselves out of the action.

It's ironic that the political party most opposed to redistricting reform in California is the party that currently could be reaping its benefit.

Conversely, the party that historically has advocated taking redistricting away from the Legislature — the minority GOP — can thank its lucky stars that gerrymandering still prevails.

He goes on to quote Tony Quinn, co-editor of the Target Book who says that if it wasn't for the partisan gerrymander of 2001 negotiated with State Senate Republican leader Jim Brulte Democrats might pick up 3 Congressional seats in the 2006 mid-term elections. Brulte brags "As a partisan warrior, I plead guilty," he says. "Our redistricting was designed to protect the Republican majority in Congress, and it has. I did my job, and I'm proud I did." However, later in the article it is revealed that Brulte, is now an advocate for indepedent commission to handle redistricting. Brulte also admits that it is a conflict of interest for legislators to draw their own districts. So if it was such a bad thing for Republicans to have non-partisan redistricting, why is self-proclaimed "partisan warrior" now in favor of it?

Although I agree that, for Democracy's sake, legislators should not draw their own districts, I disagree (strongly) with Skelton that the Democrats made a mistake in agreeing to the partisan gerrymander of 2001. They cemented control of the state Legislature for the entire decade without having to worry about ever losing majority status. To say that they should have traded that security for the chance of having a larger majority (I don't think even Skelton is claiming a veto-proof majority was achievable) is short-sighted.

Of course, what is best for a partisan majority may not necessarily be best for the people, but since I'm a progressive Democrat, I think that assuring a Democratic majority is good for the (majority of the) people.

This doesn't mean that the people are always right. Clearly, term limits have been an unsuccessful experiment. They have led to less beneficial public policy than more. The hope was that term limits would produce self-abnegating, public-minded individuals to replace the current self-absorbed, money-grubbing career politicians. Can't say I have noticed much of a change in our politicos, have you?

Interestingly, the latest proposals to remove the ability of state legislators to draw their own electoral districts have been coupled with an initiative to modify term limits. Dan Walters thinks that makes it more likely neither policy change will happen.

We'll see--August in an election year is always an exciting time for people interested in policy and politics in California. Stay tuned!

Monday, August 14, 2006

AIDS and Tennis Elite in Toronto

I guess Toronto was the place to be this past weekend. The Rogers Cup Masters Tennis Tournament was held there, and the XVI International AIDS Conference starts tomorrow. Roger Federer won his 40th career title and his 11th Masters shield trophy by defeating Richard Gasquet 2-6, 6-3, 6-2.

Also in Toronto on Sunday, Bill Gates addressed the biennial AIDS conference by schooling them in the "harsh mathematics" of the global AIDS epidemic:

Between 2003 and 2005, with the infusion of funds from Pepfar and the Global Fund, the number of people in low and middle income countries receiving anti-retroviral drugs increased by an average of 450,000 each year. Yet over the same period, the number of people who became infected with HIV averaged 4.6 million a year. In other words, for each new person who got treatment for HIV, more than 10 people became infected. Even during our greatest advance, we are falling behind.
Let’s consider what this means for universal treatment. Right now, nearly 40 million people are living with HIV. The lowest price for first-line treatment drugs is about $130 per person per year; in many cases the cost is much higher. And the cost of personnel, lab work, and other expenses easily exceeds another $200 per person per year.

That means — even when you assume the lowest possible prices — that the annual cost of getting treatment to everyone in the world who is HIV positive would be more than $13 billion a year, every year. To put that number in context, remember that Pepfar — an historic expansion in funding — designates about $1.5 billion a year for treatment.

This $13 billon figure doesn’t count the cost of much more expensive second-line therapies, which many patients will need. Moreover, these figures assume no increase in the number of people living with HIV — yet we’re averaging 4.6 million new infections a year.


The harsh mathematics of this epidemic proves that prevention is essential to expanding treatment. Treatment without prevention is simply unsustainable.

We have to do a much better job on prevention.

Bill Gates gets it! In another part of his speech he makes it clear that a key component of defeating the AIDS pandemic is empowering women and giving them options where their continued health does not depend on the decisions made by the men they have sex with (to wear or not wear a condom, to be circumcised or not, to be tested for HIV or not). "We need to put the power to prevent HIV in the hands of women." Amen, brother!

UPDATE: Terrance over at Republic of T points out that there are number of bloggers covering the AIDS conference among the 24, 000 attendees at a group blog called Time To Deliver.


The Emmy Nominations have been announced and the awards will be given out in exactly two weeks in Los Angeles on August 27. The awards ceremony will be broadcast on NBC. After my fabulous success at predicting the Oscars in March, I present to you my predictions for the 58th Annual Emmy Awards:

Outstanding Comedy Series

  • Arrested Development • FOX
  • Curb Your Enthusiasm • HBO
  • The Office • NBC
  • Scrubs • NBC
  • Two And A Half Men • CBS

SHOULD WIN: No Opinion! (I don't watch any of these shows)
WILL WIN: The Office.

Outstanding Drama Series

  • Grey’s Anatomy • ABC
  • House • FOX
  • The Sopranos • HBO
  • 24 • FOX
  • The West Wing • NBC

SHOULD WIN: This is my category! I watched every episode of 24 and the dearly departed Alias (sob!) this season. I have never gotten into The Sopranos. I just don't get the adulation for that show. I watched it a couple times, with a baffled look on my face. House I just plain refuse to watch. Grey's Anatomy I have actually only gotten into it over the summer since I added it to my DVR (read: Tivo) only after Spring Break. My partner calls it "emotional porn." This is not a compliment! However, I do notice he doesn't leave the room when I'm watching it. :) I'm a sucker for politics and I'm very loyal (I still have E.R. in my DVR, okay?) so I loved The West Wing, but ya gotta admit they sorta punted having Matt Santos win the election after his running mate John Spencer Leo McGarry died unexpectedly (not that I was complaining--I think he more people see a Democratic candidate win a Presidential election, even it is a fake election, on TV, the better for the Good Guys to win in 2008. My call: 24.
WILL WIN: Grey's Anatomy.

Outstanding Reality-Competition Program

  • The Amazing Race • CBS
  • American Idol • FOX
  • Dancing With The Stars • ABC
  • Project Runway • Bravo
  • Survivor • CBS

SHOULD WIN: Survivor. Again, this is the only one of the nominated shows that I watch though all my gay friends tell me Project Runway is a hoot! I refuse to watch American Idol. And I'm not sure I wnat to live in a world where such calculated crap can win an Emmy, even a Reality Television Emmy.
WILL WIN: The Amazing Race.

Outstanding Miniseries

  • Bleak House (Masterpiece Theatre) • PBS
  • Elizabeth I • HBO
  • Into The West • TNT
  • Sleeper Cell • Showtime

SHOULD WIN: Elizabeth I. Anything Helen Mirren is in should win, all the time. That should be a rule! I actually watched Sleeper Cell and thought the actors playing the terrorists were improbably handsome, but since the plots were equivalently improbable it made for fun viewing.

WILL WIN: Bleak House.

Lead Actor in a Drama Series

SHOULD WIN: Keifer Sutherland.
WILL WIN: Keifer Sutherland.

Lead Actress in a Drama Series

SHOULD WIN: Allison Janney. Allison Janney used to be unbeatable in this category a few years ago when she won 3 Emmys in a row for playing the character of CJ Cregg. She currently has four Emmys. She should win a fifth for showing how the character developed as she went from being the Press Secretary to arguably the most powerful person in the world (or at the very least, the busiest!), the Chief of Staff to the President of the United States. Sadly, she will not. I would really love to see Frances Conroy win (after losing 3 times previously, ouch!) for playing the mother in probably the Best Television Drama Of All-Time (ok, well at the very least the best written and acted) on Six Feet Under. Sadly, I don't think she will win either.
WILL WIN: Mariska Hargitay. I don't know why, I just think she will win. Last year's winner (Patricia Arquette for the execrable Medium) was not even nominated this year. I suspect history will repeat itself. Hargitay will win on her first nomination and not be nominated next year. I'd be very pleased if they gave it to Geena Davis juust to reward her fo r the juevos she showed playing the First Female President of the United States on the now-cancelled Commander-in-Chief. But, I don't really think that's gonna happen.

I probably won't even watch the show as I will be out of town in beautiful Cincinatti, Ohio trying to save the world, but I'll try and do a follow-up report on how well my predictions fared.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Fidel Castro's 80th Birthday

Fidel Castro Ruz was born on August 13, 1926. Today is his 80th birthday and thus it's an opportunity to review his life and legacy. The BBC calls him a "world icon." The United States givernment calls him a communist dictator. He has been in the news lately because he delegated almost all of his governmental authority to his brother Raúl about two weeks ago.

Coincidentally (ha!) the U.S. government tweaked its immigration policy regarding Cuban nationals on Friday. The federal Department of Homeland Security released two documents on Friday, one in which they announce that they have instituted a system of alerting the Cuban-American family members of Cuban nationals interdicted by DHS attempting to enter the United States. The other document reiterates that Cuban medical professionals (and their families) are allowed to enter the U.S. and says that "human rights abusers" or people "known to have been employed in certain positions of authority in the Cuban government or known to have been engaged in persecution of others" will not be allowed to enter the United States.

Just in case Raúl was thinking about it, I guess! Cumpleaños feliz, Fidel!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

David Ehrenstein Claims "We're Even" In Gay Marriage Fight

In Tuesday's Los Angeles Times openly gay film critic and blogger David Ehrenstein has an of-ed titled "Gay Marriage Gets Even" where he claims that despite recent setbacks for same-sex unions, the coming out of Lance Bass evens the score in the ongoing culture war.

GAY MARRIAGE in the United States is on the ropes and fighting for its legal and political life. In the last year alone, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a same-sex marriage bill in California; the supreme courts of New York, Washington and Georgia upheld marriage bans; and at least a dozen states have passed, or are working on, anti-gay-marriage laws.


But take heart. Lance Bass, a singer with the now-defunct boy band N'Sync, has come out of the closet, disclosing to People magazine two weeks ago that he's in a "very stable relationship" with actor/model and reality television star Reichen Lehmkuhl. Upon hearing this news, the first word that popped into my head was "even!"

The above comments are from the gay film critic who hated "Brokeback Mountain" He was wrong about that, and he's wrong about Lance Bass being "out" meaning that gay activists are now "even." To bolster his claim, David repeats a scurrilous report originally printed in the New York Daily News that "Sean William Scott turned heads when he showed up at Los Angeles gay bar Heat on the arm of David Geffen." Now, I am completely in favor of outing in lots of circumstances as an original subscriber to Mike Signorile's OutWeek magazine, but come on, now! There is no Los Angeles gay bar named "Heat" and the actor's name is Seann William Scott. But, I digress.

Ehrenstein's point (and he does have one) is that the good guys are winning the cultural war, and he quotes the results from the Pew Research Center poll MadProfessah also noted last week:
"On the subject of gay unions, 56% opposed giving gays the right to marry, but 53% favored allowing gays to enter into legal agreements that provide many of the same rights as married couples," a Reuters summary reported. "There has been an increase in the proportion of Americans who believe homosexuality is innate 36%, up from 30% in 2003. Similarly, 49% believed homosexuals cannot be changed to heterosexual, compared to 42% in 2003."

My quibble with Ehrenstein is his use of the word "even" (although he is really using the word as a reference to a Seinfeld episode, not in its true mathematical sense). In general, he does point out that even the man who coined the term kulturkampf (culture war), Pat Buchanan, "is calling for an 'armistice' in the culture war and encouraging conservatives to give up fighting for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage." It is true, these are all good news, but they are not equal (or even) in their indicatory or predicative value. Lance Bass' "I'm gay" does not equal the Daily News snarky outing of a gay billionaire's latest boytoy. And neither of these events is as significant as Governor Schwarzenegger's veto of last year's marriage bill or the two adverse marriage ruling during the dark day of July.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Blogging the JP Morgan Chase Open: Serena!

Serena, showing her best assets

Serena prepares to hit ball right at me!

Thursday night I attended the now-controversial Serena Williams-Daniela Hantuchova match at the JP Morgan Chase Open at the Home Depot Center on the campus of Cal State Dominguez Hills in Carson, CA and took some of the pictures above with my new Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ1 10x zoom digital camera. I'm still getting used to using it to take pictures. Thankfully, I had some of the best seats in the house: Second Row, Section 2 -- about 16 feet behind the baseline. It was a very exciting match. Serena initially started well, Hantuchova started with a double fault and was down 0-40 in her first service game. But three unforced errors and harder serving by Hantuchova got her to the crucial hold of the first game. Serena looked like she was doing fine in her first service game, although her service percentage did seem low. She ended up losing that game, thanks to the first of what turned out to be four net cords favorable to Hantuchova in the match. It was all downhill from there, and it got scary when at 0-5, 15-0 Serena stumbled and fell to the court stretching to return a ball which had skipped off the edge of the sideline. The chair umpire was ut of her seat and over to Serena by the time she got up. She got up quickly afterwards but it was clear that she was testing her left foot and not running for shots. It may have actually helped her to focus on putting a bit more on her serve because she won her first service game with an ace and two service winners. Hantuchova who was serving well, with a high percentage in, easily served out the set 6-1.

Serena called for the trainer and got her ankle taped during the set changeover. She then opened up the second set by getting her serve broken. However, she broke back immediately to level the second set 1-1. Serena quickly jumped to a 4-1 lead and held on to even the match by winning the second set 6-3.

The third set was pretty even, though Hantuchova's first serve percentage plummeted and Sereena's second serve was rock solid. She was able to get a crucial break of serve in the seventh game, leading to a 4-3 advantage. Then, despite whiffing two easy game points in her service game and facing a break point (which she served a service winner on) Serena was able to hold serve to maintain her one-break advantage at 5-3 at which point Hantuchova's serve really got shaky and Serena won the match on her second match point. Final score: 1-6, 6-3 6-3.

It was very exciting being that close to the action at a women's professional tournament match. We were close enough so that we were having direct interaction with Serena, which is why she hit the ball right at us (unfortunately neither of us caught it). The Home Depot Center is a fabulous venue for tennis, there really are no BAD seats in the arena, but definitely some seats are better than others.

UPDATE: Since I started writing this post, Serena played her quarterfinal match against Meghan Shaunessey, which was another 3-set thriller, this time, almost 2 hours, 40 minutes long (the Hantuchova match was a mere 108 minutes long) in the blazing Southern California heat, eventually winning 6-7(4), 6-1, 6-4. Serena played extremely well, ending up with 15 more winners than errors(!) and 12 aces to 1 double fault! Shaunessey played well also, though struggled mightily with her second serve, double faulting on both set points that she lost, the last of which was also match point. Serena plays Jelena Jankovic tomorrow and is now considering playing one more tournament (either Montreal or Pilot Pen) before the US Open starts on the 27th of the month (with me attendance during the first weekend!)

Introducing... LEENAH!

I have withstood the temptation long enough. But, now, I, too must succumb and post pictures of my pet on my blog! So, here it goes. Introducing, Leenah:

She was named after singer Lena Horne, actress Lena Olin and tennis player Li Na.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

REVIEW: Ciudad

tortilla soup


For the sixth anniversary of my Vermont civil union on 08/08/00 I took my civilly united spouse out to dinner at Ciudad (445 S. Figueroa Blvd). We had eaten lunch at the Border Grill in Santa Monica a few weeks ago and enjoyed it a lot. Ciudad is the "high end" restaurant of Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger. We almost cancelled our reservation after seeing the bad reviews at City Search. However, we wanted to try something new, and there were lots of positive reviews also. We consulted the menu on the restaurant's website to make preliminary selections but the menu we were presented with was different. "Oh, our menu changes weekly," our server informed us brightly. Ohhh-kayyyy, but why does the website claim "Dinner entrees [cost between] $16 - $29" when the cheapest entree was $23 on our menu and almost all were either $27 or $28?

We ordered the tortilla soup (with manchego cheese and guacamole, $7) and Argentine empanadas (wild mushroom with warm chipotle sauce and swiss chard with tomatillo sauce, $8.50). The soup was incredibly smooth, delightfully piquant with an exciting blend of flavours (the cheese, guacamole and broth with succulent chicken chunks). The two medium-sized empanadas were interestingly presented, with one side of the plate filled with a yellow cheese-based sauce and the other side was a bright green tomatillo sauce. I ordered the pomegranate lemonade ($3.50) and was glad I did. It was refreshing with just enough pomegranate to deliver a soothing reddish tinge to the beverage along with the much needed anti-oxidants, but without overwhelming the basic sweet-n-sour lemonade flavor.

After about a twenty minute gap our entrees arrived. I had the boneless baby-back ribs (slow roasted in chile, spices, and glazed with mistela, a homemade honey liqueur served with Mexican dipped corn cob and mashed yams, $27) and the better half had the argentine gaucho steak (caramelized jalapeño and roasted garlic stuffed beef rib eyeserved with an herb and garlic chimichurri sauce, bacon mashed potatoes, and a warm black bean, corn, and spinach salad, $28). The parenthetical description of the entrees are from the website but, again, the actual food on the plate that arrived was somewhat different. The food was good, but I think the gaucho steak was better than the baby back ribs. The portions were not huge, but were definitely filling.

At this point we didn't feel like dessert but we did order two scoops of ice cream (dulce de leche and yerba mate flavors). I thought the yerba mate was disgusting but he liked it, the dulce de leche was fantastic--not overly sweet and incredibly smooth and creamy. And even though we only paid for two scoops ($5) they gave us an extra scoop (of dulce de leche) for free.

Overall, it was an enjoyable dining experience and some of the food (the tortilla soup, the hummus with the spicy papadoms, the gaucho steak) was excellent. However, for it's price category, Ciudad is not really exceptional, although it's definitely worth going. Once.


Senaator Kuehl Amends LGBT Curriculum Bill To Appease Governor

As Rod pointed out yesterday, openly lesbian State Senator Sheila Kuehl has amended SB 1437, her bill to outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in public education curricula, to appease The Governator's expressed desire to veto the legislation. The version of the bill as introduced would have mandated the teaching of the historical contributions of openly LGBT individuals such as poet Langston Hughes, athlete Billie Jean King and congressman Barney Frank, among others.

The California Assembly passed the amended version 56-2 on Monday.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The Dog Who Moos.

Meet Norman, isn't he cute? Norman is a dog who moos. He can't help it, he was just "born different." He is the central image and meme for the $900, 000 "Born Different" public education campaign in the state of Colorado financed by the Gill Foundation and developed by the multiple Emmy-award winning Public Interest Productions.

I think it's brilliant. Take the quiz yourself now.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Indian Prince Discusses Disowning Openly Gay Son

Argh! Blogger ate my first post on this topic! I'm going to look into Moveable Type or some other more stable blogging platform. I don't understand if Google owns Blogger and Gmail why Gmail can have very timely auto-saving while Blogger repeatedly eats draft blog posts. Come on, Blogger, don't be evil!

I missed the original reports of this story in June while I was in Cuba doing research. Apparently, Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil of Rajpipla (in the state of Gujarat) was disowned by his father Raghubir Singh Gohil after becoming the chief patron of Lakshya Trust, the largest HIV/AIDS organization in the region, as well as one of the most well-known faces of homosexuality in India. The family is widely ackowledged as one of the richest and most powerful royal families in India.

Now, the father is speaking out. In an interview with the Times of India, Prince Raghubir says:
I was in an awkward situation and didn't know how do deal with it. Relatives from all over the country called me up. Rajpipla is a conservative place. Women still cover their heads with a pallu; sex is a taboo topic. I was in the line of fire.


But it was all the more difficult considering we come from a royal family. I understand some people are different, I accept it. I had never interfered in his life, but we are still a conservative society.

Hopefully the Prince had independent sources of income separate from his wealthy and influential royal family. One has to admire his courage at coming out and being an activist knowing that his family could disown him.

Monday, August 07, 2006

I Ain't Shy. Vote For Me!

The Black Weblog Award nominations are open until August 15. I'm not telling y'all what to do, but I do think that the categories of Best Personal Blog, Best LGBT Blog, Best Writing in a Blog and perhaps Blog to Watch might be where the URL (or ) might fit!

Go Vote!

PRODUCT: Panasonic KX-TG5439 5.8Ghz Phones

Following in the footsteps of Kevin Drum endorsing fabulous products, I want to blog about my home phones, the Panasonic KX-TG5439 5.8GHz. If you are one of the diminshing few who actually have a home phone line, these phones are incredibly useful. There are all sorts of really cool phones and "phone systens" made by Panasonic, actually. However some of those are full of features you may not need and can get sorta pricey, i.e. over $200.

However, the model pictured to the left is pretty cheap ($89.99 at and has lots of useful (and often used) features. Both handsets have extremely clear and loud speakerphone abilities, plus they come with caller-id, directories of calls made and a very cool intercom mode. This is the feature that I use the most; you can basically use the phones as walkie-talkies to talk to "the other person in the house" instead of having to walk all the way to find your spouse in order to ask them something, you can just talk to them via the intercom. There are actually a bunch of other features the phones have that I haven't used (there is some voice enhancement feature that I don't even know what it does). I suppose these phones won't be as useful to people in small apartments or if you don't have a home phone line, but otherwise I think these gadgets are indispensable.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Interesting Poll Results on the Kulturkampf

There's an interesting Reuters article about the overhyped nature of the cultural divide in this country on social issues as reflected in the latest Pew poll results. For example, majorities oppose gay marriage, amending the United States constitution to ban it and approve of civil unions:
As usual, Pam over at The Blend has the jump on analyzing these interesting results first. The numbers have implications for what the strategy of LGBT activists should be moving forward on gay marriage. Some people have argued recently that too much energy, effort and resources are being spent on achieving marriage equality. MadProfessah disagrees with this position. There's no reason why the LGBT community can not be arguing both for marriage and for increased AIDS funding and for adoption/foster care rights and for non-discrimination policies, et cetera. It's a false choice to say that we can only fight for marriage equality instead of these other also much needed policies.

Three Hollywood Democrats Defect To Schwarzenegger

The Los Angeles Times has a disturbing article on the front page detailing the surprising endorsement of Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger by major Democratic donors Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Haim Saban. The report emphasizes that the reason why the trio is supporting the Republican incumbent over his Democratic challenger Phil Angelides is primarily "a matter of friendship" rather than partisanship.

This is a pretty shocking turn of events. Three prominent members of the Jewish community (some would say the most prominent) in the state's largest County are declining to support a Jewish candidate for Governor of California! And the announcement was made on the Sabbath, no less.

The Times article recounts the bona fides of Spielberg, Katzenberg and Saban as 6-figure donors to traditionally Democratic causes. Amusingly, the paper also tries to confirm Hollywood's Democratic/liberal reputation by providing a list (helpfully supplied by the Angelides campaign) of bold-faced names who are supporting the Angelides ticket: Will Ferrell, Ed Begley, Jr., Larry David,Matt Dillon, Dana Delany and Olympia Dukakis. Which group would YOU rather have on your side?

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Why I Love New York

Frank León Roberts' blog at is a very interesting mix of gossip, commentary and analysis of "ball" culture and other urban black gay expression and representation. But what really caught my eye was his photography. Namely, this photograph:

Don't You Want To Touch His Snake?

Definitely looking forward to being in The City (Sorry, Frisco!) again in September 2-7 for the U.S. Open!

Friday, August 04, 2006

Official Statement from Fidel Castro on His Health

Here's the (clearly translated-into-English) statement by Fidel Castro which I couldn't find anywhere online yesterday:

I can not make up good news, because that would be unethical; and if there were bad news, these will only be of benefit to the enemy. Given the specific situation facing Cuba and the plans designed by the empire, the information about my health condition becomes a state secret that can not be continuously disseminated; and my compatriots should understand that. I can not let myself be trapped by the vicious circle of the health parameters that are constantly changing during the day.

I can say that my condition is stable, but only with time could I speak about the true evolution of my health status.

The best I could say is that my condition will remain stable for many days to come before I could give a verdict.

I very much appreciate all the messages sent by our compatriots and by many people in the world.

I feel sorry for having caused so much concern and bother to our friends in the world.

I feel in a very good spirit.

The important thing is that everything in our country is going on and will continue to go on very smoothly.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces and the people are ready to defend the country.

Our compatriots will have a complete information in due time, as was the case when I fell down in Villa Clara.

We must struggle and work.

August 1st, 2006, 5:30 p.m.

The View Outside My Bedroom Window

Friday Spider Blogging! This little beauty was outside my bedroom window. It's about 2 inches long. My partner says it is called a "garden spider." He is correct! It's called Argiope aurantia.

Black Tennis Report UPDATE: Blake Signs Evian Endorsement Deal

Top(?) American player James Blake has signed a multi-million dollar non-tennis endorsement deal with Evian water. (hat tip to London Calling Luv for the great pic!)

As I mentioned earlier in the July Black Tennis Report, James became the world's fifth-ranked player on Sunday by defeating former US and World #1 Andy Roddick in a very thrilling final at the RCA Championships in Indianapolis, IN. This was Blake's sixth career title, but his fourth in the last eleven months! Go James!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

U.S. OPEN Site To Be Named In Honor of Lesbian Phenom

The New York Times reported today that the United States Tennis Association has decided to rename the USTA National Tennis Center, the site of the U.S. Open, in Flushing Meadows, NY after open lesbian Billie Jean King. (What, you were expecting the Martina Navratilova National Tennis Center? Pshaw!) According to the Times, the USTA is foregoing almost 5 million dollars in annual revenue from corporate naming rights by bestowing the honor upon the most important American female athlete of all-time. According to the USTA, the soon-to-be-named "USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center" is the world's largest public tennis complex with 45 courts being used by 65,000 people annually on 46.5 acres. The USTA National Tennis Center contains the world's largest tennis stadium, Arthur Ashe Stadium (inaugurated 1997). The naming ceremony will coincide with the opening night of the U.S. Open on August 28th.

Billie Jean King is generally regarded as the founding force of the modern international women's tennis tour. She is also an International Tennis Hall of Fame champion, with 12 Grand Slam titles (1966-68, 1972-73, 1975 Wimbledon, 1967, 1971-72 and 1974 U.S. Open, 1972 French, 1968 Australian Open) and 67 singles titles and 101 doubles titles.

Prince Getting Divorced. Again. Let's Remember The Music

One of my favorite singers, Prince, is getting divorced. Again. Amusingly, to some people news of this divorce is the first official confirmation that The Purple One was actually married to Manuela Testolini. It was common knowlwedge that he had divorced his first wife Mayte Garcia shortly after the couple's baby son died from Pfieffer's syndrome, a rare skull disease, in 1998. Prince later had that marriage annulled.

I actually hadn't thought about Prince much recently so news of the divorce made me fondly remember the "good old days" when I used to be a Prince freak and run to the music store the very day a new Prince album dropped. I even wangled a way to get a bootleg version of "The Black Album" when Warner Records balked at releasing a record where the lead singer uniformly has his voice digitally altered to sound like he's singing in a helium atmosphere.

So, what I did was think about my Top 10 Prince songs. What are yours? (Here's a link to a helpful Prince discography.)
  1. "Adore" from Sign O' The Times
  2. "Kiss" and "Venus de Milo" from Parade: Music from the motion picture"Under The Cherry Moon"
  3. "When Doves Cry" and "Purple Rain" from Purple Rain
  4. "Joy in Repetition" from Graffiti Bridge
  5. "Condition of the Heart" from Around the World in a Day
  6. "Little Red Corvette" from 1999
  7. "Gett Off" from Diamonds and Pearls
  8. "A Love Bizarre" from Sheila E.'s Romance 1600
  9. "Do Me Baby" from Controversy
  10. "When 2 R In Love" from The Black Album and Lovesexy

Phew! I had first started this as a Top 5 Favorite Prince singles and couldn't stop at 5. It takes discipline to restrict oneself to ten. (You may notice I technically have 12--but hey! "Venus de Milo" is a swooningly beautiful instrumental which was my outgoing phone message for years in the early 1990s so it doesn't really count. Almost every track on the Purple Rain soundtrack is a classic, but clearly "When Doves Cry," "Let's Go Crazy" and "Purple Rain" are first among equals.) It should be noted that I stopped buying Prince albums after 1992's Love Symbol so his earlier work may be oversampled in my Top 10 list. I have also generally tried to restrict myself to one track per album.

There's still at least ten other Prince tracks which I love which are not on this list: "Let's Go Crazy," "7," "D.M.S.R.," "Starfish and Coffee," "Batdance," "Anotherloverholenyohead," "The Beautiful Ones," "Pop Life," "Cream," "I Wanna Be Your Lover" and "If I Was Your Girlfriend."

Hmm, perhaps coming soon: favourite Prince covers? Sinead O'Connor's "Nothing Compares 2 U" would be my #1 fave for sure. For now, I'd love to hear what others have as their favorite Prince songs.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Fidel Castro Delegates Control To Brother Raul in Cuba

Hmmm! One of the main stories of the last twenty-four hours has been the news that for the first time since January 1, 1959 Fidel Castro Ruz is no longer in charge of Cuba. His brother Raúl is. Here is the English-language version provided by Radio Havana (and reproduced by the BBC) of the text read to the Cuban people for the first time at 9:15 p.m., Monday, July 31, 2006 and repeatedly after that.

Proclamation of the Commander in Chief to the People of Cuba

Due to the enormous efforts made to visit the Argentinean city of
Cordoba, participate in the MERCOSUR meeting, in the closing of the
People's Summit at the historic University of Cordoba and the visit to
Altagracia, the city where Che lived during his childhood, and together
with that my participation in the commemoration of the 53rd anniversary
of the assault on the Moncada and Carlos Manuel de Céspedes barracks on
July 26, 1953, in the provinces of Granma and Holguin, days and nights
of continuous work with practically no sleep, my health, which has
resisted all tests, was subjected to extreme stress and broke down.

This provoked a severe intestinal crisis with sustained bleeding which
obliged me to undergo complicated surgery. All the details of this
health accident are found in the x-rays, endoscopes and filmed
materials. The operation obliged me to rest for several weeks, away
from my responsibilities and tasks.

Since our country is threatened in such circumstances by the government
of the United States, I have made the following decisions:

1. I temporarily delegate my responsibilities as First Secretary of the
Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party to Second Secretary
Compañero Raúl Castro Ruz.

2. I temporarily delegate my responsibilities as Commander in Chief of
the heroic Revolutionary Armed Forces to the aforementioned Compañero,
Army General Raúl Castro Ruz.

3. I temporarily delegate my responsibilities as President of the
Council of State and the Government of the Republic of Cuba, to the
First Vice President, Compañero Raúl Castro Ruz.

4. I temporarily delegate my functions as principal promoter of the
National and International Public Health Program to Political Bureau
Member and Public Health Minister, Compañero José Ramón Balaguer

5. I temporarily delegate my responsibilities as the principal promoter
of the National and International Program of Education to Companero
José Ramón Machado Ventura and Esteban Lazo Hernández, members of the
Political Bureau.

6. I temporarily delegate my responsibilities as the main promoter of
the National Program of the Energy Revolution in Cuba and collaboration
with other countries in this area to Companero Carlos Lage Dávila,
Member of the Political Bureau and Secretary of the Executive Committee
of the Council of Ministers.

The funds related to these three programs -- Health, Education and
Energy -- should continue being carried out and prioritized, as I have
personally been doing, by Companeros Carlos Lage Dávila, Secretary of
the Executive Committee of the Council of Ministers, and Felipe Perez
Roque, Minister of Foreign Relations, who have accompanied me in these
endeavors and should form a commission to continue the work.

Our glorious Communist Party, supported by the mass organizations and
all the people, has the mission of assuming the task set forward in
this Proclamation.

The Summit of the Movement of Non-Aligned Nations, which will take
place between September 11th and 16th, should receive the highest
attention of the State and the Cuban nation, and to celebrated with the
highest splendor on the dates scheduled.

The 80th anniversary of my birthday, for which thousands of
personalities have agreed to celebrate on August 13th, should be
postponed until the 2nd of December this year -- the 50th anniversary
of the Landing of the Granma.

I call on the Central Committee of the Party and the National Assembly
of People's Power to give their strongest support to this Proclamation.

I don't have the slightest doubt that our people and our Revolution
will struggle until the last drop of blood to defend these and other
ideas and measures that are necessary to safeguard our historic
process. Imperialism will never smash Cuba. The Battle of Ideas will
continue forward.

Long Live the Homeland!

Long Live the Revolution!

Long Live Socialism!

Ever Onward to Victory!

Fidel Castro Ruz
Commander in Chief

First Secretary of the Party and President of the Councils of State and
Ministers of the Republic of Cuba

July 31, 2006
6:22 p.m.

Having recently spent two weeks in Havana, Cuba I am following this story pretty closely. Twenty-four hours after news of the above first statement caused street parties in the Calle Ocho section of Miami, Fidel released a second statement (full text unavailable) saying that "[he is] in perfectly good spirits. The most I can say is that the situation will remain stable during many days before a verdict can be given."

As the New York Times says, the particular details of Fidel's health are being kept secret, but I don't find this unusual. Particularly since the world's only superpower is less than 90 miles away and has reiterated as recently as yesterday that they want to be involved in Cuba's "transition to democracy" (or as the Cubans would parse that statement "overthrow our givernment").


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