Category Archives: Pop Culture

Caption this photo

Who is olde enough to remember the 1980s TV show Simon & Simon? Hopefullly the caption shared below inspires you to offer up one of your own.

Two tops looking for their bottoms

Book review: Sweet & Low by Nick White

Sweet & Low by Nick White is a collection ten short stories set in the South; with most in the Mississippi Delta. Each story focuses on an important and defining moment or series of moments in the main character’s life. Often poor and with little opportunity, the characters bear little resemblance to who I usually read in books but White does an excellent job bringing them to life.

Most of the short stories include an LGBT character, which is a good reminder that all gay men don’t live in cities or suburbs, nor are they all wealthy, despite what you see portrayed on television. The opening story, The Lovers, provides insight into several of the themes that run through all the stories, touching upon struggle and loneliness. My favorite story was perhaps one of the saddest. The Exaggerations is told by a nephew abandoned by his mother and raised by his aunt and uncle. The final paragraph of this short story is perhaps White’s best in the entire book.

Fans of romantic comedies or happily ever after endings will find this book tough to get through. Many of the characters aren’t all that likeable. A good example is, Pete, in Cottonmouth, Trapjaw, Water Moccasin, but most are misguided, lonely, and self-involved. The best example of that might be Forney’s mom in the short story the book is named after, Sweet and Low. Told through the eyes of Forney, she appears to want nothing more than to pick up her once aspiring country music singing career after the unexepected death of her husband, and she can’t be bothered with her only child who she has little connection or love.

If you enjoy reading before going to bed, the short story format is ideally suited to you. In 20-30 pages, White weaves a story full of depth meaning at defining moments of each main character. While I couldn’t relate to any of the characters, their stories still resonated and is why I would recommend reading this book.

If you’re interested in purchasing this book and open to supporting local bookstores, try one of the links I’ve shared. The links below will take you right to the book so you can order it online in just a couple of clicks. Alternatively, you can check your local library for a copy of this book. Here is a link to the BPL copy for Sweet & Low.

Brookline Booksmith in Coolidge Corner
Harvard Bookstore in Harvard Square
Porter Square Bookstore in Porter Square
Trident Bookseller’s & Cafe in Back Bay

Book review: The Sun and Her Stars by Donna Rifkind

The Sun and Her Stars by Donna Rifkind is a biography about the extraordinary but little known life of the Jewish, Austrian actress turned Hollywood screenwriter, Salka Viertel, who moved from Europe to southern California in the late 1920s. If you are fascinated by the Golden Age of Hollywood, you’ll find Rifkind’s detailed account of Viertel’s life and those around her fascinating to read.

It was fascinating to compare how several characters in this year’s celebrated film, Mank, were perceived by Salka. The black and white film about screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz writing of the acclaimed movie, “Citizen Kane” takes place at the same time and is nominated for 10 Oscars. Some of the Hollywood heavyweights referenced in both the book and movie include Orson Welles (actor), Ben Hecht (screenwriter / novelist), David Selznick (studio executive), and Charlie Chaplin (actor).

Hitler’s rise to power in the 1930s led to a braindrain of the creative class from Europe. These shellshocked ex-pats fleeing from the horrors of Nazi Germany, were not welcomed by most in America. Rampant, in-your-face antisemitism was pervasive and put many on edge; feeling fortunate to escpe but unsure of their future or ability to rebuild in an alien country and culture. Salka’s home in Santa Monica became a refuge for these people. Her close friend, Greta Garbo, was a frequent visitor as were the many refugees who would flock to her Sunday parties.

The biography also details the personal trials and triumphs of Salka who earned a commanding salary and the respect of studio executives, producers and directors at a time when few women were respected in the male-dominated industry. Rifkind also touches upon the blacklisting that impacted Salka and many other Europeans in the decade that followed WWII because of their political sympathies and foreign accents which made them tagets of McCarthy and those on the HUAAC.

The book was a fascinating read from a pop culture, political and historical perspective, and I’m glad I read about this rather extraordinary woman. Through her efforts she saved the lives of many fleeing from Europe to escape fascism and rubbed elbows with some of the biggest stars and deal-makers in Hollywood’s Golden Age. If you are fascinated by or liked the Oscar-nominated film, Mank, add this to your reading list.

If you’re interested in purchasing this book and open to supporting local bookstores, try one of the links I’ve shared. The links below will take you right to the book so you can order it online in just a couple of clicks.

Brookline Booksmith in Coolidge Corner
Harvard Bookstore in Harvard Square
Porter Square Bookstore in Porter Square
Trident Bookseller’s & Cafe in Back Bay

The Divas Experience at the MoS

The Boston Museum of Science has a new show that may be of interest to you. The Boston MoS new weekly 40-minute program, The Divas Experience, fuses the sounds of some of musics’ most iconic pop stars with stunning and inventive visuals under the Charles Heywood Planetarium dome.

Developed as a part of the SubSpace Project, the experimental playground for new work at the Museum of Science, this musical experience engages audiences in a sensory journey full of innovation, artistry, and imagination set to a pulsating soundtrack of music’s greatest icons.

Tickets are now on sale for shows on Friday and Saturday evenings. For more information and to purchase your tickets visit the Museum of Science planetarium website here.

Just a reminder that tomorrow you should wear…

handsome, hunk, man wearing underwearHard to believe that it was 15 years ago that the movie Mean Girls came out and I’m still quoting it regularly. May your Tuesday pass quickly and remember to find something pink to wear tomorrow.

Friends pop-up opens in the Fenway this month

If you are a pop culture fan and loved NBC’s Must See TV programming, you may want to check out this roving Friends recreation, that just ran in New York City and will make its way to Boston later this month. The “pop-up” will set up shop 401 Park from November 21 through January 5. Tickets are required (of course) and are now on sale here.

The official site, friends25popup.com, has a FAQ page for any questions you might have about the pop-up as well as merchandise for sale. The website encourages fans of the popular NBC sitcom to enjoy set re-creations from popular episodes, take advantage of fun photo ops and of course, Central Perk.

As much as I enjoyed the show when it was on, I can’t see myself going to this  but if you do get tickets to check it out, let me know what you think of it (and have a double espresso for me while you’re there).

Caption this photo

Michael Bublé humorHopefully the caption I’ve shared below inspires you to offer up a caption or two for this photo of Michael Bublé enjoying himself. The talented musician celebrated his 45th birthday on Monday so perhaps this is how he celebrated it.

“Open wide”

Game of Thrones final season starts tonight

Season seven of the Game of Thrones ended after just seven episodes in August 2017, but tonight the series returns to HBO. The much hyped and incredibly successful series inspired by  George R. R. Martin’s, A Song of Ice and Fireseries, may be a little fuzzy for many who have not seen an episode in 20 months.

Although many GOT fans may have been binge-watching in anticipation of tonight’s return, CNN has made it a bit easier for all of us who don’t have the time or inclination to revisit past shows with their article, 10 critical ‘GoT’ details to remember during the final season.

I’m looking forward to the final season and hope it lives up to the hype. Do you plan on watching the final season of Game of Thrones?

All hail Madonna: GLAAD recipient of Advocate for Change

gay rights, gay allies, MadonnaI’ve always loved Madonna, but her appeal was in part because she was a lot more than just a pop singer. She was an anomaly; an outspoken, vulgar woman who thrived on the hypocrisy of the 80s and a champion the LGBTQ community far before it was trendy to wear a red ribbon at award ceremonies.

So I’m happy Madonna will be presented with the Advocate for Change Award at the 2019 GLAAD Media Awards in NYC this May.  The inaugural Advocate for Change Award was given to former President Bill Clinton in 2013. Madonna will become only the second person to receive the honor, which is given only to those who “changed the game for LGBTQ people around the world” through their work, and I couldn’t agree more with GLAAD for acknowledging her. 

Apple’s Tim Cook is a role model the LGBTQ community needs more of in business

gayOften the LGBTQ community looks to pop culture icons as our allies. Over the past decade as being gay has become more accepted, we’ve started to also see allies step forward in sports and the business community.

“Being gay is God’s greatest gift to me.”
– Tim Cook, Apple CEO

Four years ago Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, became the first Fortune 500 CEO to publicly acknowledge he is gay. Last week Cook went a step further, saying “Being gay is God’s greatest gift to me.” He said he felt the need to share his comments to respond to stories he was hearing about increased bullying, families making life difficult for kids grappling with their sexuality and rising suicide rates among gay teens.

Tim Cook is not just a CEO. He is the CEO of one of the most admired companies in the world with a brand and name recognition that any company would envy. Earlier this summer Apple became the first American public company to cross $1 trillion in value. While its success is in large part attributed to the founder, Steve Jobs, Cook has done an admirable job making sure that Apple continues to grow. and succeed in a very competitive industry. I would like to see more executives speak out and up. Role models are around us everywhere and we can draw inspiration from them, but sometimes we need to be reminded so thanks for speaking up Tim. I’m sure that your sentiments have helped many and perhaps challenged misconceptions some people may have about what it means to be gay.

Clueless remake is apparently in the works

Earlier this week I read on NewNowNext that a remake of the mid-90s film Clueless is being explored. My initial reaction was, “As if!?!“. While I loved the original and am still prone to use lingo from the movie (Full on Monet, Betty and Fashion Victim just to name a few) – you can read through an extensive library of terminology the film used and helped make popular, here.

To say I’m buggin’ would be an understatement because what made the movie so great (for me) was how much it captured and poked fun at the stereotypes of the day – especially teenage Southern Californians. A remake of this film will need to tap into similar cultural touchstones of the day, but as a 40-something I doubt I’m tapped into the zeitgeist of today’s teens so much of the humor and references will likely go above my head. Having said that, I’ll probably go see it because I do love the original and will be curious to see how the movie was updated to make it relevant.

What about you? Did you see Clueless and did you love it? Would you go see a remake or would you likely skip it all together? Do tell, I’m genuinely curious.

Hanging with Seth Meyers

family, mom, dadMy parents spent most of their lives either working or taking care of their four children. Since retirement that has all changed. In some ways their lives more closely mirror the life Sergio and I lead – meeting up and going out or planning fun trips with friends regularly.

Seth Meyers and his younger (and every bit as funny) brother Josh Meyers grew up in our small town. Together they logged more than a few hours in the backseat of my Mom’s station wagon being brought back from school or team practices so when my parents planned a quick trip to NYC last week with two other couples, they stopped in to check out Late Night with Seth Meyers.

Two things strike me about this photo – first, my mother who is 5’7″ looks tiny and second, my parents are way cooler.

On Wednesday we wear…

handsome guyIt has been a while since I’ve provided this very important public service announcement. For those of you who do not understand this reference please immediately download Mean Girls and watch it tonight.

Sesame Street: How they became Bert & Ernie

America’s most famous gay couple share a rap about how they met and became “roommates” to the melody of Will Smith’s theme song The Prince of Bel Air. It was too cute not to share for all of you fans of  Sesame Street.

Netflix brings back Queer Eye for the Straight Guy

What is old is new again; first it was announced that Will & Grace would return to NBC then ABC said it was bringing back its popular show Roseanne. Now Netflix has revived the Bravo TV series Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, but this time with a new cast and in a new city.

Moving from the more politically progressive northeast this new cast will be based in Atlanta and roam Dixie. The new Fab Five includes Bobby Berk as the show’s design expert; Karamo Brown will be the cast’s cultural attache (so to speak); Antoni Porowski will manage all things related to food and wine; Jonathan Van Ness is responsible for personal grooming; and Tan France will lead the charge in the fashion department.

The Netflix teaser that dropped earlier this week opens with the lines, “The original show was fighting for tolerance. Our fight is for acceptance.” I’m not sure I really agree with that but you get the gist of this light-hearted formulaic series that will try to make America a little more accepting (and hopefully more polite) – one makeover at a time.

Check’em out on Netflix here: Queer Eye for the Straight Guy