OrangeAsshole

When President Trump was elected I told myself that I probably wouldn’t watch any of his presidential addresses. His unofficial State Of The Union was tonight and I decided to watch after all. My thinking is that I’d rather know what was coming and hear it from the source than be left in the dark and let my news be filtered through someone else.

The way that Donald Trump describes the United States makes us sound bleaker than we really are. He talks about the Detroit inner city and how it’s been failed without mentioning that Detroit is going through another renaissance period. Trump talks about how drugs are pouring into this country and it makes it sound like there are drug houses on every corner and that every other person is on drugs. I’m beginning to realize that Trump exaggerates everything. 

Trump loves to talk about immigration and how Radical Islamic terrorists are out to destroy us. He neglects to mention that a white guy shot two Indian-Americans in Kansas while highlighting those in the gallery that had been harmed by undocumented immigrants. Don’t get me started about how reckless his new VOICE (Victims Of Immigration Crime Engagement) program is and how similar it is to what the Nazis did to the Jews.
The immediate reaction to Trump’s presidential address is that he has now become presidential because he honored Carryn Owens, the widow of a Navy SEAL killed in Yemen during a disastrous raid. William “Ryan” Owens was killed in action along with over 20 civilians. The sad thing is that the high level person we were after escaped so the intelligence that was captured is in doubt. President Trump tarnished the memory of Owens by using his death to further the Trump Regime’s militant aspirations. 

Others thought that Trump was presidential but I think he’s an asshole. I’ve given him a little over a month to get his act together. Since January 20th he’s introduced a budget that cuts money from the EPA, the arts and all the important things while funneling more money into the military. He’s taken away protection from trans* students. His stance on immigration is atrocious. Fuck, his stance on most things is atrocious. And that’s why I’ve made the decision to take away the respect I usually reserve for the sitting president. He might be the sitting president but I no longer recognize him as my president. Three more years under the OrangeAsshole. God help us all.

I’m dragging ass today. I stayed up way past my bedtime over the weekend.

I stayed up way too late on Saturday. I wound up going to mens group to see the mythical gay firefighter and went to eat with the guys afterward. Then HJ and I wound up at Soho. It’s been too long since I saw him but I had a feeling he’d show up.

Of course, last night I stayed up to watch the Academy Awards. I’m still in shock over what went down. In a stunning mistake that everybody be talking about, Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway were mistakenly given the extra envelope for Best Actress instead of Best Picture. Rewatching it, you can see that Warren Beatty is visibly confused and that’s why he hemmed and hawed while announcing the winner. He shows it to Faye Dunaway and she only sees La La Land and announces it as the winner. The film was the odds on favorite to win so no one was surprised to see the producers of La La Land take the stage.

Then things got interesting. After Jordan Horowitz gave a moving acceptance speech calling for Hollywood to continue “to create and champion bold and diverse work, work that inspires us towards joy, towards hope and towards empathy” and Marc Platt spoke about how “repression is the enemy of civilization”, Fred Berger said the words that shocked the audience at the Dolby Theater and the audience at home. “We lost, by the way, but, you know.”

Moonlight won. OMG! Moonlight won Best Picture. I feel that it took the people in charge of the Oscars far too long to acknowledge the mistake. The people behind Moonlight weren’t allowed to have their moment. It was chaos but Moonlight, a film featuring a black cast and same sex love, won Best Picture. 

And The Oscar Goes To….

The Academy Awards come on tonight. I’m a big movie fan so I’ll definitely be watching. I’ll be honest and admit that I’ve only seen 2 (Hell Or High Water and Moonlight) of the 9 films nominated for Best Picture. Award shows, like any other event that tries to judge art, are subjective. That said, here are my picks for the top six awards.

Best Picture: God, I hope Moonlight wins but I’m afraid we’re going to have another Brokeback Mountain situation where the Academy isn’t ready to recognize a gay film so La La Land will probably win.

Best Director: Damien Chazelle has been this year’s it boy. He’ll win for La La Land and become the youngest director ever to win the Oscar.

Best Actor: I think the controversy surrounding Casey Affleck and his alleged mistreatment of women will prevent him for winning for Manchester By The Sea so Denzel Washington will win for Fences. That said, I wonder if it’s fair to judge a performance on the actor. If a totally douchebag (and I’m not saying Casey Affleck is one) pours his heart into a role is it then unfair to judge the performance by the performer. It’s called acting and I’m not sure if an actor’s real life actions should affect honoring a good job on screen. Food for thought.

Best Actress: I would be floored if Emma Stone didn’t win for La La Land. She’s the frontrunner and it’s her time to shine.

Best Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali has to win for Moonlight if there’s any sense in this world.

Best Supporting Actress: This is, by far, the hardest choice. It’s a coin toss between Viola Davis for Fences or Michelle Williams for Manchester By The Sea. I told my friend Devon that I picked Michelle Williams but I really didn’t know.

DVD Binge

I had a pile of DVD’s that I needed to watch so I went on a little binge. Here’s what I watched.

Closet Monster. This is an LGBT film that had huge buzz at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival. It stars the really cute Connor Jessup as a young man questioning his sexuality while flirting with a hot co-worker, the gorgeous Aliocha Schneider, and trying to win a coveted scholarship to a school in New York City. The trailer to the film makes it look darker than it really is and totally ignores the fun fact that Isabella Rossellini is the voice of a hamster. Closet Monster surprised me.

Retake. This was another LGBT film that was heartbreaking. It’s about a guy, played by Tuc Watkins, who hires an escort in an attempt to change the past. It sorta reminded me of Pretty Woman.

Masterminds. A comedy based on a true story of a bank heist. Despite the fact the cast is filled with funny people, I thought the film wasn’t that funny. 

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk. I loved this film. It juxtaposes the horror of war with the spectacle of football as an army unit honored for bravery participates in a Thanksgiving game halftime show. 

An Act Of Love. A great documentary about a Methodist minister put on church trial after performing his son’s same sex wedding. 

I’m at Taco Bell and there’s a group of about 5 boys, probably 6th or 7th grade, occupying a corner booth. I can hear their conversation from where I sit and all it consists of is them making fun of their classmates. So much attention is given to mean girls but, damn, I know first hand how cruel boys can be.

Reading Roundup

My book club met tonight. It’s hard to believe that the dream Ali and I had of starting a book club at the library we both once worked at is still a reality a decade later. I’ve read some great, meh and not so great books in February so I figured I’d do a roundup.

The Turner House by Angela Flournoy was the book we discussed tonight. I felt this book was pretty meh. I liked it but I’ll probably forget most of it a year from now. It’s set in Detroit but it didn’t feel right. I know it’s nitpicky but the author seems to have written about the suburbs without actaully visiting the suburbs. She writes about Ferndale and it’s a town I’m well acquainted with and her description seems off to me.

I really enjoyed the way the author handled the dynamics of a large family. My dad is the oldest of 7. My mom is the oldest of 9. I know large families. The thing is I wanted more. The book intersects the beginnings of Francis and Viola’s relationship with the stories about 3 of their 13 children. The thing is I wanted more. I wanted more Francis and Viola. Why did Viola stay? What was it like moving from the South to the North where you knew no one but your husband? 

I did like the theme of a house being symbolic of a family. My family has the same problem. My brother and nephew just returned from a trip to Virginia to fix up the homestead. No one lives there so there are days where I wonder why we bother on the upkeep on my grandmother’s house. But, like the Turner house on Yarrow Street, the house at the end of Lazarus Branch represents home even though it’s empty.

I received an advance reading copy for The Leavers by Lisa Ko. I receive the majority of my ARC’s from NetGalley so shout out to them. Lisa Ko won the Pen/Bellwether Prize and I know why. The Leavers is unlike anything I’ve ever read and I have read a lot in my 40 years. From identity issues to immigration, this book is breathtaking. I haven’t had truly page turner read in ages but this book had me up at night eager to see what would happen to the main character next. The book goes on sale in May. It’s one to watch out for because the timing for this story is right. I’m saying it now but I predict great buzz for The Leavers.

Choose Your Own Adulthood by Hal Runkel is another ARC that I’ve had the pleasure of reading. First, as a child of the 80’s and teen of the 90’s, I loved the format of this book. If you can’t tell by the title, Hal Runkel has written a choose your own adventure style handbook for those graduating high school and setting off to college. Even though the book is geared towards recent graduates, I found it to be helpful as I navigate the midlife crisis I’m in. The book goes in sale in late March. It’ll be a great gift for all those spring graduations.

And, side note, I’m really impressed with the eclectic catalog of Greenleaf Book Group. They’re the publishers behind this book but they’re also the publishers behind Exposure by Dr. Chauntelle Tibbals. Exposure is a book about the adult entertainment industry told in a positive light that I still rave about. 

Another ARC read is Transphobia by J. Wallace Skeleton. It is a kid’s non-fiction book dealing with transgender issues. As a “gender transcender” I feel the book would be a good gateway into a discussion about what it means to be trans*. Goodness knows it’s a discussion that we should be having with everyone so misinformation isn’t spread. My only red flag would be the inclusion of the word “transsexual”. Gender and sexuality are two separate things so using a word like transsexual confuses people when you try and make the distinction between gender and sexuality or, as my friend puts it, the difference between hearts and parts. And, as much as I’m thankful to live in a border state because I’m able to watch CBC Windsor 9, I was still thrown when Canadian trans people were mentioned rather than United States trans people. That’s my “American” bias kicking up but it might be off putting to a kid in, say Iowa, who might pick this book up.

I’m a progressive liberal so I don’t know what the fuck I was thinking when I requested an ARC of The Deplorables Guide To Making America Great Again by Todd Starnes. I think I had a notion that the book would help me find common ground with conservatives but each chapter had me more heated than the last. I can’t honestly review the book and be objective. 

I’m glad I requested Get It Together, Delilah by Erin Gough after attempting to read the Todd Starnes book. The book is good but not great. I read a lot so parts of it were predictable. It’s a sweet coming of age book about a young lesbian crushing on the sexy flamenco dancer next door while trying to keep her family restaurant running while juggling everything else. It’s an Australian import that will be making its American debut in April.  The last book I can remember reading that had a young lesbian POV was The Miseducation Of Cameron Post so it’s about time there was another book with a teen lesbian protagonist.

I read ARC’s of two upcoming memoirs this month. It’s difficult for me to review memoirs because I don’t want to come across as judging a person’s life story even if that’s exactly what I’m doing. 

The Skin Above My Knee was requested after a late night boredom enduced round of let’s request randomness. Now that I’m thinking about it, that’s probably how I requested the Todd Starnes book. At first you’ll pick it up and ask yourself why even bother. Marcia Butler isn’t a well known name. She’s an oboe player. She doesn’t even play for a famous orchestra. She’s a freelancer that goes wherever her oboe takes her. Then you start to read and you become hooked. It’s a record because I read two page turners this month. You get about midthrough and you start to question everything you thought you knew about memoirs. Who would have thought that the life of a fucking oboe player would be so interesting? The book was released yesterday so do yourself a favor and pick up a copy.

I didn’t get as excited about the second memoir and I’ll take the blame. I requested The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy thinking that Ariel Winter had wrote a memoir about her emancipation from her parents. I mixed up my Ariels so I was left disappointed with Ariel Levy. After speed racing through the remarkable The Skin Above My Knee, the languid pacing of The Rules Do Not Apply left me bored. There are too many books on my Kindle and in the to be read pile next to my bed to suffer through uninteresting memoirs. I left Ariel Levy in South Africa as she’s trying to score an interview. I doubt I’ll return.

I was asked to be a beta reader for a book tentatively titled The Boatswain’s Mate. I don’t know if it’ll ever get published but I hope it sees the light of day. It’s a great love story about a young dude assigned to a naval ship during the Reagan Years.

Right now I’m juggling 3 books. I’m almost finished with The Book Of Forgiveness by Desmond Tutu and his daughter. I’m reading it as part of my connection group. We discuss a chapter per week and we discussed chapter 6 earlier today so there are only a few chapters left.

Because I’ve started journaling again after a long absence I wanted to see how other people do it. Andy Cohen has a most entertaining diary inspired by Andy Warhol. The Andy Cohen Diaries goes deep into the shallowness that surrounds Hollywood. I’m loving it and I’m almost done.

Lastly, I’m reading an ARC of the new Elizabeth Kostava due to be published in April. I figure I’ll do a reading roundup towards the end of each month so I’ll write about it then.