Wednesday, December 31, 2014

NBC Nightly News chronicles the suicide of Ohio transgender teen Leelah Acorn

After her parents took away her social media and sent her to Christian counseling, she wrote a long suicide note partly indicting them, then despondently ran into the path of a semi. So now there are two more victims of Christer transgender intolerance: Leelah and the semi driver.

Happy New Year and welcome to the start of the end of civilization

And it ain't going to be no Rapture. Excerpted from Noam Chomsky's depressingly perceptive piece which you can read in its entirety at In These Times:
     ...The likely end of the era of civilization is foreshadowed in a new draft report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the generally conservative monitor of what is happening to the physical world.
      The report concludes that increasing greenhouse gas emissions risk “severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems” over the coming decades. The world is nearing the temperature when loss of the vast ice sheet over Greenland will be unstoppable. Along with melting Antarctic ice, that could raise sea levels to inundate major cities as well as coastal plains.
      The era of civilization coincides closely with the geological epoch of the Holocene, beginning over 11,000 years ago. The previous Pleistocene epoch lasted 2.5 million years. Scientists now suggest that a new epoch began about 250 years ago, the Anthropocene, the period when human activity has had a dramatic impact on the physical world. The rate of change of geological epochs is hard to ignore.
      One index of human impact is the extinction of species, now estimated to be at about the same rate as it was 65 million years ago when an asteroid hit the Earth. That is the presumed cause for the ending of the age of the dinosaurs, which opened the way for small mammals to proliferate, and ultimately modern humans. Today, it is humans who are the asteroid, condemning much of life to extinction.
      The IPCC report reaffirms that the “vast majority” of known fuel reserves must be left in the ground to avert intolerable risks to future generations. Meanwhile the major energy corporations make no secret of their goal of exploiting these reserves and discovering new ones.
     A day before its summary of the IPCC conclusions, The New York Times reported that huge Midwestern grain stocks are rotting so that the products of the North Dakota oil boom can be shipped by rail to Asia and Europe. [Thanks, Warren Buffett]

      One of the most feared consequences of anthropogenic global warming is the thawing of permafrost regions. A study in Science magazine warns that “even slightly warmer temperatures [less than anticipated in coming years] could start melting permafrost, which in turn threatens to trigger the release of huge amounts of greenhouse gases trapped in ice,” with possible “fatal consequences” for the global climate.

That Pioneer Press tweet about Aaron Rodgers' favorite beard has now been officially deleted

Jim Romanesko marked the passing (via deletion) of the St. Paul Pioneer Press's interesting reference to Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers' favorite beard. Various synonyms and one definition of the word "beard" may be found here.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Armed coup attempt against brutally homophobic Gambian president seems to have failed

The BBC said both military and diplomatic sources say soldiers from the presidential guard attacked the presidential palace in Banjul early Tuesday, but  President Jammeh wasn't in Gambia.
     Gambian radio aired a governmental statement denying a coup attempt, but later Mr. Jammeh confirmed the attack, which he claimed came from invading forces from Senegal loyal to a "disgraced" former soldier and that four attackers were killed and four more were captured.
     Jammeh said he would be:
"returning from my state visit to France immediately," but a French foreign ministry spokesman said there was no indication Mr Jammeh had been in the country. Some reports say he is in Dubai. 
France 24 reports that Jammeh:
     ...eventually landed in the Chadian capital of N'Djamena in a plane bearing the presidential emblem, according to Reuters.
     That plane took off from N'Djamena late on Tuesday after a reported refuelling stop, during which Jammeh told officials in Chad he was returning home, a senior Chadian government source said.
     The pre-dawn assault near the presidential palace in Banjul triggered panic in the tropical city, while national radio went off air for several hours and state television was suspended.
      Opposition politician Sheikh Sidya Bayo told a private Senegalese radio station that the unrest was "the start of a mutiny that changed" into a bid to topple Jammeh.
     Three of the suspected coup plotters were killed and another captured by Jammeh's forces, but there was no confirmation of an overall death toll from the fighting. 
V[]cative reports that,
     ...Jammeh was quoted in February as saying, “We will fight these vermin called homosexuals or gays the same way we are fighting malaria-causing mosquitoes, if not more aggressively.”
     The U.S. responded last week to Jammeh’s long history of institutional homophobia by excluding Gambia from the African Growth and Opportunities Act, something activists praised as a first step toward addressing LGBT human-rights abuses in the country. Gambia was exporting around $37 million in goods to the U.S. each year duty-free before the suspension placed on its ability to receive benefits from the act.

Killjoy John Boehner soon to hide who pays for GOP IL Rep. Aaron Schock's fun vacations. Bummer

Thankfully Rep. Schock takes lots of pictures of his junkets to Hawaii, Greece,
South America, etc. and boy, he sure seems to like the ladies—at least in
social media land, if not back at the boring old office.
AmericaBlog has the disappointing news:

After three decades of public reporting, the Republican-controlled US House of Representatives will no longer require members of Congress to disclose lavish foreign trips paid for by special interests.

AG Jon Bruning, 'fair weather federalist', may subvert state's rights in suit against CO weed law

Slate raked the attorneys-general of both Nebraska and Oklahoma, depicting them both, in essence, as ammoral, craven opportunists whose "silly" lawsuit, if successful, could threaten state's rights: 
     ...when another state decides to experiment with a new drug policy, Bruning and Pruitt’s support for state sovereignty dries up. They are arguing that Congress’s prohibition against marijuana should force every state to prohibit it as well. (These attorneys general aren’t opposed to all intoxicants. Their position on marijuana might have something to do with the fact that both Bruning and Pruitt have received significant campaign contributions from alcohol industries.)
     This strange little lawsuit against Colorado is so astonishingly hypocritical, so brazenly antipodal to Bruning and Pruitt’s professed philosophy, that even admirers of both men are aghast. Case Western Law’s Jonathan H. Adler, the mastermind behind the latest Obamacare suit, noted with disgust that “it is as if their arguments about federalism and state autonomy were not arguments of principle but rather an opportunistic effort to challenge federal policies they don’t like on other grounds.” Georgetown Law’s Randy Barnett, who brought the first Obamacare suit from the fringe to the mainstream, wrote that “I see no other way to interpret Nebraska and Oklahoma’s lawsuits than as an example of ‘fair weather federalism.’ ” (Federalism describes the balance of power between states and the central government; self-described federalists favor increased state autonomy.)      What has Adler and Barnett so riled up about the marijuana lawsuit isn’t just the rank hypocrisy. It’s the precedent...
Read the entire, withering critique at Slate.

Why is Playdoh deleting uploaded pictures OF ITS OWN PRODUCT from its website?

A picture is worth 1,000 words...
     Hasbro has already told at least one TV station that it intends to redesign its Cake Mountain "icing" extruder, but apparently not soon enough to put out the social media wildfire it invited by releasing the thing.
     And please, nothing this blatant could have been accidental.
     Now that the attention has gotten out of hand, Playdoh is trying to delete pictures of the $20 accessory as fast as they are being uploaded. It might need to hire some temps.


Monday, December 29, 2014

Chuck Hagel's gay-inclusive holiday message to troops

Blink and you'll miss it, yet it shows how far Hagel has evolved, which is a lot further than any of Nebraska's leading GOP politicians currently in office.

(H/T: Towleroad)

Marriage equality mess in Florida

Matt Baume tries to make sense of the yes-here, no-there marriage patchwork in the Sunshine State and notes that the last-ditch effort by Idaho's governor Butch Otter to stall marriage equality in that state ended up a nearly half-million-dollar fail.

Nebraskans again polled on gay marriage; Nebraska Family Alliance again lies about judicial fiat

The Omaha World-Herald just reported the results of a poll it commissioned on Nebraskans' current views about gay marriage (41% here in Omaha, the state's biggest city, oppose it) and got another audaciously false precis by the head of the financially secretive Nebraska Family Alliance, which spearheaded a 10,000-signature petition drive to block the LGBT fairness ordinance passed 5-0 by the Lincoln City Council in 2012. Here's Rev. Al Riskowski's newest dissembly:
“Even though marriage has been overturned in a vast majority of states, in almost every situation it was a federal judge who overturned it and not the will of the people,” said Riskowski, executive director of the Nebraska Family Alliance.
A couple paragraphs later, the World-Herald called Rev. Riskowski on his bullshit:
Courts were responsible for overturning same-sex marriage bans or legalizing gay marriage in 23 of the 35 states where it is currently legal. State legislatures legalized gay marriage in nine states, while voters approved it in three: Washington state, Maine and Maryland.
     Even in states in which a federal judge "overturned" marriage (as Riskowski deceptively described extending the marriage franchise to same sex couples) it was often a case of judges or a judge affirming the decision of state jurisprudence, not overruling that decision.
     The most starting disparity in support for marriage equality revealed by the poll was by political party: 72% of Republicans in Nebraska opposed gay marriage; 54% of Democrats favor it.
     Below: opposition to Lincoln's 2012 LGBT fairness ordinance, orchestrated largely by ultra-right-wing pastors like Rev. Riskowski, proved to be a river of junk science, bald animus, fear-mongering and class slander.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Keystone XL boosters playing LGBTs for suckers on YouTube

Dr. Michaelson
You may not have heard of, but Dr. Jay Michaelson has, and in the Daily Beast he dismantles and excoriates the website's cheap, crude and cynical message, brought to you by TransCanada's apologists (and, perhaps, proxies.)
     The idea, apparently, is to hoodwink LGBTs by guilting them into rendering tangible gratitude, i.e., pipeline support, as a thank you for Canadian gay civil rights that TransCanada never lifted a corporate finger to advance.
     Keystone XL is a complete con. It's an export pipeline through, not to, the United States and TransCanada's own internal memos promise that it will raise gas prices throughout the Midwest.
     The record of the U.S./Canadian oil industry vis-a-vis gay civil rights is so bad that the world's biggest oil company, ExxonMobil, decided to blatantly lie about its practices to the Human Rights Campaign, the largest U.S. gay civil rights organization, which had this to say about the petroleum Goliath last June:
     ExxonMobil’s shareholders have voted 17 times to kill enumerated non-discrimination protections for ExxonMobil’s LGBT personnel—the most recent occasion was just last month. In fact when Exxon merged with Mobil in 1999, the newly formed company rescinded domestic partner benefits that had previously been offered to Mobil’s gay and lesbian employees. This unprecedented and unmatched record of corporate discrimination has earned ExxonMobil the only negative score in the 12 year history of HRC’s Corporate Equality Index.
Above: Brokeback Mountain's Alberta vs. TransCanada's
Alberta. Do you really need to be told which is which?
But back to Michaelson busts it as: project of a much larger organization,—and here is where things get really interesting. It turns out that EthicalOil, which refuses to divulge its funders, is linked to a network of Conservative party leaders, petrodollars, and right-wing media outlets.
Michaelson continues:
     ...this notion of a global gay identity is easily manipulated. Opechatesgays is one example. So are the cynical statements of American conservatives condemning Iran’s appalling human rights record when it comes to LGBT people. The same people opposing employment protections for gays here at home suddenly wave the rainbow flag when it comes to criticizing Iran. is also an example of “pinkwashing”: the attempt to use a country’s treatment of LGBT people as propaganda. The most controversial case of pinkwashing is that of Israel, which has an excellent record on LGBT equality, and which has trumpeted that record to boast that it is an advanced, liberal democracy, in contrast to Palestine and the rest of the Arab world. Not all Israeli gay propaganda is pinkwashing—a lot of it is good, old-fashioned PR to attract gay tourist dollars to Tel Aviv. But some of it—a photo circulated of two male Israeli soldiers holding hands, and captioned “It’s Pride Month. Did you know the IDF treats all of its soldiers equally?”—definitely is

     The stupidity of the opechatesgays website matches the stupidity of its message. My favorite fail? That gays (and other liberals) should choose Canadian oil because Canada “has no laws prohibiting LGBT lifestyle.”
      Honey, your conservative underwear is showing. “Lifestyle” is a right-wing code word. My sexual orientation is not a “lifestyle.” Nor is someone’s gender identity. They are traits. There is no such thing as a gay lifestyle, except in right-wing propaganda to oppose LGBT equality.
Michaelson has documented TransCanada's cynism in far greater detail than our excerpts show. You really owe it to yourself to read his piece in its entirety over at The Daily Beast.

Android app Twitter outage widespread

Widespread reports are coming in of Twitter users being logged out of their Android apps and subsequently being unable to log back in. This happened to AKSARBENT, but our PC-based Twitter client (via a browser) seems, so far, to be unaffected.

Joel Olsteen sent the most unintentionally hilarious 2014 tweet by a TV evangelist

Yeah, this October beut is long gone by now; only the screencaps remain, resurrected.

NSFW: Mike Tyson explains how to have sex in prison

Back in May, Mike Tyson explained to Opie and Anthony how to get away with conjugal visits on the sly:
It's always some fucking white guy in these prisons that has got the system down... even though he's always in fucking prison... he always gets caught but he's got the system down... "Make the underwear crotchless... They never check for crotchless underwear..." That's why white guys run the fucking country: because you motherfuckers think of this shit...

How to remember the colors in the LGBT flag

GIF of Joe Rogan, host of Fear Factor
on NBC for 6 years. Rogan is not gay,
but has a locker room stalker who
annoys him greatly.
Roy G. Biv is an acronym for the sequence of hues commonly described as making up a rainbow: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo and Violet.
     The LGBT flag originally had 8 colors, but now usually has six, corresponding to Roy G. Biv less indigo, which changes the acronym to Roy G. BV, which is stupid.
     They should have kept indigo and lost violet, which would have made the acronym Roy G. Bi, which would be much easier to remember.

How Paul Rudd and Seth Rogen know you're gay

To which one might add that AKSARBENT knows YOU'RE you're gay because you have shirtless pictures of Seth Rogen's hotter brother, Joe Rogan, who isn't related to him but you don't know that because you can't spell, which also means that AKSARBENT is totally the blog for you.
     Also, Paul Rudd is not gay, which we know to be a FACT because we once saw a comment thread with a bunch of uninformed homos saying that he was, but then we saw a comment near the end of the comments by a gay plumber who once did some work on Paul Rudd's bathroom and he said it definitely was NOT the bathroom of a gay man, so we believe that.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

An hour with Linda Rhonstadt

The former singer (she has Parkinson's) talked about stardom in the sixties, The Eagles, her favorites to sing with (Dolly Parton, Aaron Neville and Emmy Lou Harris) and her influences. Rhonstadt is a reader and has an inquisitive, sharp and discriminating intellect. Interview conducted for CBS SF Bay Area.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Taco Bell may or may not be faking the rainbow to flog AM Crunchwraps with up to 1370 mg. of salt

Taco Bell won't say whether the ad is real but it will say how much sodium these salt bombs contain. The commercial is adorable; the product is scary.
UPDATE: Taco Bell told Gawker, which followed up on this, the following:
We didn’t create this ad, but we can see the people who did share the same Live Mas passion for our brand—and our breakfast—as we do. Although we cannot condone unauthorized use of our intellectual property, we are impressed with their work and would be open to meeting with them.

(Via Gawker via Towleroad)

Wait for it: Teapartiers accuse 'first gay president' of aspiring to be emperor AND empress of U.S.

The White House withheld this photo, with visiting Girl Scouts, until after the election because Obama surrendered to whimsy and disobeyed his own rule about not "putting stuff on your head" if you're president.

Lee Terry, FBI patsy?

Lee Terry, who cosponsored one of the worst (failed) attempts to shackle the Internet, apparently believes everything the FBI says about North Korea hacking Sony despite the fact that most Internet security experts don't. In fact some cybersecurity geeks think the FBI is using reckless accusations to get gullible people (see headline) to support another overreaching attempt to restrict non-terrorists on the net.

Truth in advertising: Guardians of the Galaxy

This expensively dumb flick grows on you like Groot.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Here's the wickedly funny scene in The Interview in which queer-baiting rapper Eminem 'comes out'

This is a brilliant sendup of faking the rainbow, something that James Franco (and Craig Ferguson) have been doing for years.

Downton Abbey charity parody, features AbFab's Patsy, George Clooney; rips off It's a Wonderful Life

This was part two of the show's philanthropic text Santa self-mockery this year and included George Clooney, as well as the series' writer/creator, Julian Fellowes, who delivers comic lines very well. To see the servant's cut-throat game of strip poker in part one, go here.
     AbFab's Patsy dropped by in the Angel Clarence role from It's a Wonderful Life, in order to show Lord Grantham what life would have been like had he never been born and had never gone broke.

Speaking of sendups which borrow from It's a Wonderful Life, AKSARBENT was (after being referred by Huffpost) perusing the admonitions to RKO from the Breen office about unacceptable references in Frank Capra's aforementioned classic, now considered a paragon of wholesomeness.
     The unbelievable objections prove once again that nothing is pure enough for a blue nose wielding a blue pencil.
     Our choice for Most Idiotic was the warning to RKO (above) to ensure that 1946 moviegoers, many of whom had just beaten back the Nazis and/or Hirohito's soldiers, had better not get the idea that either George Bailey or Clarence, his angelic keeper, had completely disrobed while their clothes were drying out.
     Oh, geez.

It's a Wonderful Life: a little more respect for Lionel Barrymore's Mr. Potter, please

Maybe Lionel Barrymore was too good at playing the deliciously avaricious bankster, Henry F. Potter. While critics now rave about Donna Reed and Jimmy Stewart, appreciation of Barrymore's craft seems to have been swallowed up by the overall revulsion at his character — which would not be as acute had Barrymore been less talented (and if his scripted lines hadn't been so terrific.) Even Roger Ebert inexplicably had nothing to say about Barrymore's delightful performance.
     Next Time It's a Wonderful Life plays on TV, go ahead and chuckle appreciatively as Barrymore incorrigibly yawns, twiddles his thumbs and casts bored looks around the room while Jimmy Stewart praises the working man and appeals to high ideals.
     At one point, Barrymore's Potter tried to get the best of George by shrewdly assessing his disappointments and failed aspirations, praising him, appealing to his desire to be a better provider — and then dangled a $20,000 yearly salary (huge, in Depression America) in front of him, spinning what Jimmy Stewart called a "web" after coming to his senses. Potter's inventive machinations are a wondrous garden of evil beauty at which to cackle.
     Barrymore, by then wheelchair-bound by arthritis, turned in a performance as good as anyone else's in the movie, including Stewart's. When is he going to start getting the credit he deserves?

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

NBC Nightly News wants to know why MDs aren't prescribing more prayer

Brian Williams orchestrated another cheesy sop to religion in his introduction to a Nightly News  final segment by Cynthia McFadden, who noted that:
...half of Americans believe that prayer can heal before actually asking, “So why is it almost nonexistent in the doctor’s office?”

Fox Santa science vs. PBS Santa science

Fox's war on Santa got pretty mean last year, with craters in residential neighborhoods, at least one four-letter word, decapitated baby dolls, gratuitous full frontal male cartoon nudity and Santa's face turned into hamburger and licked by a dog in the fireplace. (Not to mention cruel child labor manufacturing of toys and the allegation that the Chinese eat reindeer genitals for health.)

This year, PBS counteracted the scurrilous notion that Santa couldn't possibly deliver toys to all those children, reassuring kids that, through clever usage of time zones, Santa actually has 32 hours, not 24, to deliver presents and may well be using quantum mechanics to get the job done. Whew. Ball's in your court, Roger Ailes.

Frigo's $78 million underwear endorser, 50 cent, isn't moving the merchandise

Says The Daily Beast:
     To find out if America really is ready to shell out a Franklin for some premium package packages, especially during this most intense of consumption seasons, I called a couple of the vendors listed on the RevolutionWear site.
     “I sold a couple a pairs,” admitted a gentleman reached in a Boston Neiman Marcus menswear department, who asked not to be named, when I inquired about how sales of the expensive style were doing. “I think they’re a little bit much!”
     Another preferred-to-be-nameless salesman, this time from Lord & Taylor’s 5th Avenue location in New York, wasn’t sure what the hype was about.
     “You know the funny thing was, the (RevolutionWear) rep actually said he preferred the other version over the high end version,” he laughed, adding, “They’re like Spanxx, or your basic compression short. That type of thing.”
     When asked if he thought we were ready for an influx of high-end holsters for our manhood, he chuckled again, replying:
     “I tell ya, I’ve been pushing ‘em a little bit, and they’re not really [selling]… No. I would say no.”
     This was a sentiment echoed by his Bostonian counterpart, who admitted: “According to what we’re selling, no!”

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Well, you can't blame a guy for trying, officer

Bet the perp wouldn't have posed the question if Rin Tin Tin had been along for the ride.

LGBT stereotypes: Modern Family vs. Desperate Housewives

Last Thursday, Tuc Watkins, who played the Bob half of Bob and Lee, a Desperate Housewives gay couple, vented a bit on facebook at what he thinks is stereotyping  in the portrayal of Cam and Mitch in Modern Family:
Hmm. I think “Modern Family” is clever, hilarious, even terrifically subtle at times. But, for the most part, I have a hard time laughing at the gay guys. In fact, I kinda cringe. It feels a little bit like the gay equivalent of “blackface.” It doesn’t feel “modern” at all. Sure, people come in all shapes, sizes, etc. So why are we fed such 80s stereotypes every week?
When the above was reported by Greg In Hollywood, Jesse Tyler Ferguson responded in a comment:
Sorry you feel that way Tuc. I know lots of guys who are just like Cam and lots of guys who are just like Mitch. We can’t be expected to represent every gay person. We can only represent these two people. Also, Mitch is basically a version of me…so I never know how to take it when people say that he is stereotypical. And in defense of Cam, I still can’t figure out how a clown & football coach who also happens to be gay is a stereotype. When all is said and done, it’s a family sitcom. I feel our writers do a fantastic job of servicing 11 characters each week in just 22 minutes. I am incredibly proud to play Mitch and I have a lot of pride in our show. As a closeted kid of the 80′s I would have loved to have had a show like Modern Family to watch with my parents. It would have meant a lot to me to see who I secretly was reflected on television. TV has come a long way and it continues to forge new ground. I am thrilled with the work that you did on Desperate Housewives. It opened the door for shows like ours and hopefully we can hold that door open for many more shows to follow us. At the end of the day we can’t please everyone..and we shouldn’t try to. Kinda just like life, right? Take care. Jesse Tyler Ferguson.

Now Watkins has walked back the "blackface" remark but not his principal objections:
Dear Jesse,
     I’m glad to see that a FB post can stoke a fire that burns in the LGBT community, and supporters of our community.
     Many doors have opened in gay people’s fight for equality. Civil rights, marriage rights, and depictions of us individually and collectively on television. Great strides have taken us from tolerance into acceptance and towards true equality.
     Stereotypes still exist. They probably always will. And while the truth is usually somewhere in the middle, stereotypes polarize us. No news there. But while an explanation of a stereotype can make good, logical sense, it still leaves the stereotype intact.
     I’m glad to have played gay characters, but at the same time have been frustrated by the stereotypes I feel I’ve been party to in playing those roles. I’ve begged wardrobe designers so      I wouldn’t have to wear paisley shirts, directors to reconsider a “snap” at the end of a scene, and writers to remove “Hey, gurl!” from dialogue.
     I did it because when I was growing up, trying to figure out where I fit it in, I couldn’t seem to locate a role model. The stereotypes I saw made me think, “Well, I don’t identify with that so I must not be gay.”
     I can appreciate that one man’s roadblock may be another man’s role model. I feel like my growth was stunted, but understand that another person’s may have been bolstered. I believe that, as a community we want to make the path easier for those who come after us. I want that. I’m certain you do to.
     Some audience members can laugh through a character, but it can also distance others. We each come to the fight with our own baggage…as well as our own weaponry. “Revolutionary times call for revolutionary means.” My comments were extreme, and my use of the word “blackface” inexcusable. I regret creating dissension among the ranks, especially when we’re all in this fight together.
     I see your point. I hope you’ll consider mine.
Yeah, OK, as brilliant as the portrayals (and writing) of Cam and Mitch are, we're kind of on Team Tuc. Modern Family is hilarious, inventive and incisive and really is TV's best comedy, but Desperate Housewives could break through stereotypes and preconceived notions like nothing else on broadcast television when Marc Cherry and the program's other writers put their minds to it, as they often did. For one of many examples of that, watch the last video.

Monday, December 22, 2014

The one line in The Sound of Music that drives gayborhood audiences wild

AKSARBENT followed yesterday's dreary twitterfeed of ABC's singalong broadcast and only one person picked up on the line. Evidently every drag queen in America was doing something else Sunday night.

Guardian of the Galaxy costars psychoanalyze Rocket Raccoon

One of the stars of the Marvel hit, now flirting with $800 million in international box office receipts, is a CGI creation with a sad backstory, a genetically engineered raccoon for whom there can be no mate, which may explain why he is such a mean drunk.

Reason for the season: an opportunity for Sarah Palin to hustle her new atheist-bashing book

The real reason for the season, of course, was the hostile takeover of pagan Winter Solstice celebrations by early Christians, who suddenly start celebrating the birth of Christ about 400 years after his alleged life, even though biblical descriptions of the allegedly immaculately-conceived savior's birth almost certainly rule out a winter delivery.

(Via JoeMyGod) 

Dr. Evil interrupts 'Sam Smith' on SNL to trash talk Sony and North Korea

Mike Myers even ripped one of his own theatrical bombs...

New York Times: prosecute Dick Cheney et al.

A word salad of extracted phrases in the Times' editorial alone is enough to give pause:
actively defended the indefensible; abhorrent; false patina of legality; depravity; sadistic; blinkered apologists; fabricating a legal foundation; shopped around for the answer they wanted; vast criminal conspiracy, under color of law; not made in good faith; Republicans who have gone hoarse braying; rationalize and conceal
Here's an excerpt in complete sentences:
     Mr. Obama has said multiple times that “we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards,” as though the two were incompatible. They are not. 
     ...Who should be held accountable? ... any credible investigation should include former Vice President Dick Cheney; Mr. Cheney’s chief of staff, David Addington; the former C.I.A. director George Tenet; and John Yoo and Jay Bybee, the Office of Legal Counsel lawyers who drafted what became known as the torture memos.
     There are many more names that could be considered, including Jose Rodriguez Jr., the C.I.A. official who ordered the destruction of the videotapes; the psychologists who devised the torture regimen; and the C.I.A. employees who carried out that regimen.
     ...Starting a criminal investigation is not about payback; it is about ensuring that this never happens again and regaining the moral credibility to rebuke torture by other governments ...The question is whether the nation will stand by and allow the perpetrators of torture to have perpetual immunity for their actions.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

#StopRush pushback to advertisers is starting to get to Limbaugh

He's now telling his listeners that the outrage to his vitriol is being manufactured by bots created by Democrats.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Annotated: the celebrities in Colbert Report finale

Dan Savage was there. So was Burning Man alumnus Grover Nordquist. And Terry Gross.

Bangin' Craig Ferguson's last show: Bob Newhart in Secretariat drag revealed last 9 years was a dream

Craig's sole guest, Jay Leno, proclaimed: "They can take away our talk shows but they can never take away our freedom!" After an unexceptional monologue, Craig and Geoff answered an email inquiry about the meaning of "Ass Mode," then got into a final fight, after which Ferguson informed Geoff he would be living in a Van Nuys storage unit.

WaPo: hacked Sony emails prompt Google to sue Mississippi AG, alleging collusion with Hollywood

Wow. This may be the most significant fallout yet from the hacker data dump of Sony emails. And no one saw it coming...
In a blog post Thursday, Google said that the e-mails revealed a campaign that sought to stifle free expression and to revive the Stop Online Piracy Act. That bill, which died in Congress in 2012 after massive populist and tech industry opposition, was criticized by many free expression advocates who said it would set a dangerous precedent for censorship in its effort to stop access to stolen material online.
     Among the main concerns of opponents were that SOPA would allow creation of an Internet "blacklist" that could be abused to keep average people from finding sites that the government found objectionable.
     "We are deeply concerned about recent reports that the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) led a secret, coordinated campaign to revive the failed SOPA legislation through other means, and helped manufacture legal arguments in connection with an investigation by Mississippi State Attorney General Jim Hood," said Kent Walker, the company's general counsel and senior vice president.
     Google also launched a campaign Thursday asking users to "take action" by telling the MPAA to stop trying to revive "#zombieSOPA."

Should moviegoers punish theatre chains who caved to censorship by staying home on Christmas Day?

Thursday, Rachel Maddow pointed out that it was bookbuyers themselves who ended the ban on sales of Salmon Rushdie's The Satanic Verses by picketing the chain bookstores that sur­rendered to empty threats by radical Muslims by refusing to carry the acclaimed book.
     The same thing seems to be happening now. The nation's biggest cinema chains have refused to exhibit The Interview — Regal, AMC (now owned by a Chinese billionaire), Carmike and Cinemark. Comcast, owner of NBC, has said it won't offer The Interview on-demand. Paramount has said it won't allow screenings of Team America, which some theaters said they would exhibit in place of The Interview.
     Despite isolated court rulings to the contrary, AKSARBENT doubts picketing a shopping center cineplex would get you anything but kicked off the premises by a shut-up-and-shop mall cop, but what if you just didn't show up at the box office on one of the most profitable days of the year?
     Maybe it's time for moviegoers in 2014 to teach the movie industry the same lesson that chain booksellers learned from their customers in the 90s. Conspicuous censorship isn't a very good business model. #BoycottAppeasers

Friday, December 19, 2014

The continuing, outrageous unfairness of the annual Army-Navy football game

Despite the built-in handicap, Navy won the 2014 contest 17-10.

Note: @fauxpelini, college football's favorite parody account, will follow coach Pelini to his new Ohio job coaching the Youngstown State Penguins.

Anita Bryant: Father, we want to thank you for the opportunity of coming to Des Moines

Last Tuesday, the Miami Herald Media Company and WPBT-Channel 2 put The Day It Snowed in Miami, a regional Emmy-winning documentary, up on YouTube for free viewing (and for anyone who doesn't remember "the political activism behind an equal-rights statute in Miami, and how it galvanized the gay rights movement in Florida and beyond," it should be compulsory viewing.)
     While we don't like to see anybody assaulted by anything, we can't deny the visceral pleasure of seeing the condescending, character-assassinating, class-slandering Anita Bryant slathered with meringue.
     Go here to watch the entire documentary on YouTube. It was directed by Joe Cardona and narrated by Margot Winick and produced by Shed Boren of Genesis Fund, Cardona, el Nuevo Herald videographer Jose Iglesias, Miami Herald LGBT issues reporter Steve Rothaus and Miami Herald interactive editor Nancy San Martin.

USA Today: secret FBI database reveals cops won't extradite 330,665 fugitives

In just the past year and a half, the total number of fugitives who police won't pursue beyond a state border swelled nearly 77%, to 330,665. The main reason was police agencies changing their minds about what to do with people who have been wanted for years.

KMTV's morning peroxide pundit wants you to know that the feds REJECTED 'Redskins' complaint; also,
did you know that FOUR tornadoes hit Pilger?

This morning, Deanne Brink reported a story on the reconstruction of Pilger, NE after "a pair of twin tornadoes leveled the town."
     We don't know whether she wrote this idiocy or just read it, unfiltered by common sense, from a teleprompter, but whatever the cause, it aired at least twice thrice this morning. (We certainly hope the segment was played repeatedly and that she didn't actually read it that way multiple times.)
     When she's not intoning dumb narrations on KMTV, a CBS affiliate, Deanne apparently likes to slyly promote the ultra-right-wing competition by retweeting drivel from Fox and Friends (of Saturday Night Live fame) where the denizens are VERY EXCITED that the FCC has REJECTED a complaint about the racist name of D.C.'s pro football team.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Candidate vying to replace Joni Ernst in Iowa Senate is wanted in Nebraska on a sexual assault charge

     Iowa is holding a special election in District 12 to fill the Iowa Senate seat vacated by Joni Ernst, elected to the U.S. Senate last November. The Libertarian candidate, Donald Brantz, running against Republican Mark Costello and Democrat Steven Adams, has a slight problem: he's wanted in Sarpy County, Nebraska for 3rd degree sexual assault, interfering with a public service company and disturbing the peace. All charges are misdemeanors.
     Brantz, a former social worker, is a Libertarian — with a vengeance, we'd guess.
     May the best man win.

With 3 weeks left in term, NE AG Jon Bruning sues CO because its voters legalized pot

Nebraska AG Jon Bruning pictured
with Eames and Barcelona chairs
Just when you thought lame duck Jon Bruning, the pride of Nebraska's GOP, had run out of ways to squander his budget, he comes up with this stunt.
     He (along with Oklahoma's attorney general) is suing the state of Colorado, claiming in a news conference today that arresting Coloradans traveling in Nebraska is a financial burden on some Nebraska counties, and also claiming, in the same news conference that it wasn't about the money, it was about Colorado flouting federal law, so now he will spend Nebraskans' taxes to do Eric Holder's alleged job. Or, more accurately, he will start the process, leaving his successor holding the bag. He said he discussed his action with incoming GOP AG-elect Doug Peterson.
    Jon Bruning has also said that heterosexuals, as well as homosexuals, don't necessarily have the right to a divorce, and that gay marriage is similar to a man wanting to marry a chair. In support of the latter proposition, Bruning filed an anti-gay marriage brief supporting Utah's attempts to fight marriage equality despite the fact that Utah is in the 10th U.S. District Court of Appeals and Nebraska is in the 8th.
     In 2012, during a debate, Bruning broadly insinuated that his GOP primary opponent, former Nebraska Attorney General Don Stenberg, was a pedophile.

The Day It Snowed In Miami, emmy-award winning documentary about 1977 gay rights fight, can now be seen free on YouTube

Steve Rothaus reports that The Day It Snowed In Miami, an regional Emmy-winning documentary about the 1977 fight for gay rights in Miami, can now be seen free on YouTube, courtesy of the Miami Herald Media Company (MHMC) and WPBT-Channel 2. The documentary was broadcast nationally and screened in South Florida theaters.

A look back at Cuban-American émigré Reinaldo Arenas via the biopic Before Night Falls

Against the backdrop of President Obama's steps to normalize relations with Cuba, we thought we'd try to find the sly dig at Fidel Castro's gay brother, Raul, in the Reinaldo Arenas biopic Before Night Falls on Youtube. We couldn't, but below is a nice clip, anyway (watch till the end!) Javier Bardem became the first Spanish national ever nominated for a Best Actor Oscar after he portrayed Arenas in this 2000 film, which also has a cameo by Sean Penn AND Johnny Depp in a dual role. From Roger Ebert's 3.5-out-of-4-star review:
      Arenas is played by Javier Bardem, a Spanish actor with a specialty in macho heterosexuality (if you doubt me, see "Jamon, Jamon"). He doesn't play Arenas as a gay man so much as a man whose body fits like the wrong suit of clothes. We accept Arenas as gay in the movie because the story says he is, and because there are after all no rules about how a homosexual should look or behave -- but there is somehow the feeling that the movie's Arenas is not gay from the inside out, but has chosen the lifestyle as part of a compulsion to defy Castro in every way possible.
     The film contains two more convincing homosexual characters, both played by Johnny Depp: Lt. Victor, a sleek, tight-trousered military officer, and "Bon Bon," a flamboyant transvestite who struts through Castro's prisons and proves incredibly useful by smuggling out one of Arenas' manuscripts, concealing it in that place where most of us would be most inconvenienced by a novel, however brilliant.

For his second inauguration, in 2013, Obama tapped gay Cuban-American poet Richard Blanco to compose a poem. denies helping Sony strike back at hackers with denial-of-service attacks

On December 11th, ZDNet followed through on a report by Recode:
On Wednesday, tech site Recode reported that Sony had used hundreds of computers in Asia to initiate denial-of-service attacks on websites offering Sony's stolen data to the public. The sources of these attacks were allegedly Amazon Web Services data centers based in Tokyo and Singapore.
     A spokesperson for Amazon Web Services told ZDNet the alleged activity is "not currently happening" on the service.

Hillary Clinton's birthday card to Chelsea Manning seems to have been lost in the mail

“Hillary told staff that she could not fathom how an army private, Bradley Manning, with psychological problems and a drag-queen boyfriend could single-handedly cause the United States unprecedented embarrassment just by labeling massive downloads as Lady Gaga songs.”
— Vanity Fair

The cable, obtained by WikiLeaks, describes the State Department's then-energy envoy, David Goldwyn, as having "alleviated" Canadian officials' concerns about getting their crude into the U.S. It also said he had instructed them in improving "oil sands messaging," including "increasing visibility and accessibility of more positive news stories.

— Chicago Tribune

NU's fired, $150k-a-month head coach takes vulgar parting shots, but is upstaged by fake twitter alter ego

Someone made a tape of the farewell speech to his players made by University of Nebraska football coach Bo Pelini after he was cut from the team. The World-Herald actually published the audio of the very NSFW outburst because in the Cornhusker State of Mind, football trumps any policy about journalistic dissemination of vulgar, sexist invocations of lady parts.
    By now Pelini-esque streaks of obscenity now revisit the same rut ploughed by the last surreptitiously recorded soliloqy, but Fake Bo Pelini (@fauxpelini) recaps of real Bo Pelini outbursts are ALWAYS fresh. And now, Fake Bo Pelini's bogus twitter letter to his successor has even made the august pages of the Washington Post. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Director's cut of 1998's Studio 54 puts back 30 minutes of footage, including excised gay scenes

Writes Greg Hernandez in Greg In Hollywood:
     Film editor David Kittredge who worked with [director Mark] Christopher on the director's cut for Berlin, wrote in a Facebook post Tuesday (16 December) that the studio-ordered 90 minute film was 'very different' from the original vision.
     Kittredge said he and Christopher have worked 'tirelessly' for the past several months 'trimming things and adding over 30 minutes of newly-digitized dailies that have not seen the light of day since 1997.'
     The re-cut version includes even more restored footage than what was shown at a well-received 'secret screening' of Christopher's vision at the 2008 Outfest Film Festival in Los Angeles.
     'Incredibly excited to have been the editor of what amounts to a massive cinematic restoration of a really great movie that would have blown people's minds in the '90s,' Kittredge wrote.

Meet Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-KS) who introduced that Citigroup legislation to bail out bank losses on risky investments with your taxes

Second-term Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-$) really represents CitiGroup in the U.S. House of Representatives but is supposed to represent the third congressional district of Kansas, including Wyandotte and Johnson counties, which include Kansas City and the surrounding suburbs of Overland Park, Lenexa, Shawnee and Olathe.
     He is the man who slipped lobbyist-written legislation into a must-pass spending bill too late for debate. The bill is called the Swaps Regulatory Improvement Act and will gut a section of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform act called the "push-out rule" that forbids banks from trading certain risky derivatives (which are complicated financial instruments with vales derived from underlying variables, such as crop prices or interest rates) with money insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). If this bill passes the Senate, taxpayers will be on the hook for more of Wall St.'s reckless gambling losses. The vote is here.
     Mr. Yoder's constituents and non-constituents are not happy with him and have been registering their disapproval on his Facebook page. The Huffington Post says Rep. Yoder isn't saying much these days:
Yoder has been mum about the spending package since it passed the House. His office hasn't responded to multiple requests for comment on why he slipped the Citigroup language into it. The press statements on his website say nothing about the provision or the spending bill. There are no posts about it on his Facebook page. He's said nothing in his Twitter feed.

Rachel Maddow shocked that demonstrations against police misconduct occurred 'even in Nebraska'

Evidently the members of Maddow's staff who carry out daily raids on YouTube to pillage free amateur footage (but which they at least no longer seem to plagiarize) must have missed that outrageous 2013 viral video of the warrantless police home invasion over unregistered cars in North Omaha.
     They also must have missed the story about the Omaha police accidentally shooting to death a crew member of the long-running reality show Cops during a ride-along, although to be fair to the Maddow show, that video was professionally made by a TV production company and not a YouTube amateur so the event was mostly covered by obscure old media outlets like NBC(!), The New York Times, The Hollywood Reporter, USA Today, etc.

Rock Hudson's last words

"No, I don't think so." (He was asked if he wanted more coffee.)
     This via the web site "Famous Last Words."
     Hudson, like Judy Garland, was quite witty in private.
     AKSARBENT's favorite Hudson story is when he welcomed a buddy of his (a suit at Universal) to one of his private pool parties. He took his guest to a balcony overlooking the patio and drunkenly explained, "The blonds are named Todd and the brunettes are named Grant."
     Bonus: Bob Hope's last words were to his wife Delores after she asked him where he wanted to be buried. "Surprise me," Hope said.

Stephen Colbert on Bill O'Reilly: 'No one's gonna pay me to watch him anymore, so fuck that noise'

Almost as good as his scary interview with Smaug, the dragon, the other day.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Whoa! HRC goes Wonkette on FL attorney general

Memo to HRC. Please notice Jon Bruning.

Cute Chicago Fox weatherman flips off camera,
now knows which way the wind blows

Why is it always Fox talent that gets caught making life difficult for the nuns at the FCC?
     We're guessing that meteorologist Bill Bellis will just get his knuckles rapped and not fired.
     Oh — for you youngsters, the headline allusion leads directly to the end of the second verse (1:02) of this song.

     We don't expect the above video to last long on YouTube.
      Like a cat leaving the litter box, Fox is usually pretty good at burying the telltale evidence of whatever it just did.
     Regardless of what happens, we do expect Bill to land on his feet.
     With his range of expressions, we're guessing he could do any number of things in front of the camera besides weather.

Trio of Catholic high school alumni accused of gay-bashing fail to get Philly court to dismiss charges

Defense lawyers tried to have the case dismissed at today's preliminary hearing by arguing that both parties were at fault. That ploy didn't work.

Des Moines' cityview blasted for titillating transgender cover accompanying serious story

Apart from the dubious cover, Des Moines' alternative weekly laudably attempted to report the trouble transgender people have when they need to use public facilities from their perspective as well as those people in charge of public facilties. The article, we thought, was commendable. The cover was a rather low-rent attempt to snag readers.
     You can read the piece online, here, and the reaction of Donna Redwing, of OneIOWA, who was interviewed, here.

Both sides joust in SD gay marriage fight, winning and losing some

Pro-marriage equality advocates are accusing the state of stalling.
     "The state's position being that the voters of South Dakota should pick the definition of marriage, rather than the federal court," South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley said.
     "That's too bad, because the Constitution was written for a reason. It was written to ensure that our rights are protected and not subjected to the whims or majority of a popular vote," said Attorney Josh Newville, who represents six gay South Dakota couples.

Twins outfielder Torii Hunter calls reporter a 'prick' for bringing up his anti-marriage equality ad; 'I don't even know you, man'

The Twins recently held a press conference at Target Field to announce Hunter's 1-year, $10.5 million deal with the team.
     Hunter ended the press conference shortly after reporter Mike Berardino indirectly asked him if he had discussed his public stance on gay marriage with management. (Hunter made a radio ad in support of GOP gubernatorial candidate Asa Hutchinson and his anti-marriage equality stance.)
     Hutchinson was beaten by Democrat Mike Beebe in November.
     “Nothing to talk about,” Hunter said. “You already know, so why keep talking about it? I said it. It is what it is. So, no, I’m not going to talk about it if you bring it up. It’s not even baseball related. You can do that later, when I retire, then I’ll tell you everything.”
     A few seconds later, Hunter turned his attention back to the reporter.
“Hey, Mike is kind of a prick, huh? No, seriously. You’re a prick, man. I don’t even know you.
     You’re a prick, seriously,” Hunter said. “Ain’t nothing wrong with that, man, that’s your job. He’s definitely a prick, though.”

     One more question was asked before the conference ended. Before leaving, Hunter pointed to the reporter and said he ruined the press conference.

Sydney hostage who rushed gunman, allowing others to flee, died a 'second class' gay citizen

AKSARBENT defines a hero as someone who risks his or her own life to save someone else's. (By our standards, if you pull someone out of a wrecked, burning car, you're a hero. If the car isn't on fire, you're merely a Good Samaritan.)
      Two people in the Sydney hostage crisis appear to have died heroically. The first was Katrina Dawson, a lawyer and mother of three, who it is claimed, was shot to death shielding a pregnant friend from gunfire.
     The second was Tori Johnson, manager of the Lindt Chocolate Café for two years and whom employees and customers could not praise enough.
     Here's part of what James Peron, President of the Moorfield Storey Institute, just wrote about Johnson in the Huffington Post:
     Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott called Tori Johnson, and the other victim "good people."
     Yes, Tori was good people, but to Abbott he still wasn't good enough, at least not when it came to marriage.

     Tori and his partner of 14 years, Thomas, could never be married, not in Australia. Tori and Thomas deserved the same rights as other Australians. But that right was denied them, and now, for Tori, it's too late.
     Prime Minister Tony Abbott laid flowers and said nice words but he's still fighting to deny marriage rights to "good people" such as Tori Johnson.
     If Abbot wishes to honor the heroism of Tori Johnson he should push for marriage equality. At the very least, he should get of the way and allow his own party caucus freedom to vote their conscience.
     For all couples like Tori and Frank it's time to pass Senator David Leyonhjelm's marriage legislation.