‘Tis The Season (To Give Well, For Once)

‘Tis The Season (To Give Well, For Once)

            Christmas time is here, and it’s the season for horrifying unwrappings and overdrawn credit cards. I can help with the former. With the other one, you’re on your own.

            For the cell phone stroker, look no further than the line-up with Verizon Wireless. First up is the Motorola Droid RAZR, which debuts with the slimmest profile of any smartphone to date. Yet, it doesn’t skimp on power for the gamer and web runner in your life with a 1.2 GHz dual-core processor and gigabyte of RAM.

            If your personal phone freak is more of the sufficient shutterbug, look no further than the HTC Rezound, which packs in a 28mm camera lens and stellar low-light performance that will leave no late night dance in the dark. The 720p Super LCD screen for viewing these shindigs doesn’t hurt, either.

            And thirdly, there’s the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, which comes powered with a 4.65 inch, 720p Super AMOLED screen that will be perfect for the restless movie watcher on the go.

            Have a friend that’s more of the shut-in type? Then Bioware’s latest PC MMORPG, “Star Wars: The Old Republic” will sure to keep their seats Sith-ly still. The developer promises endless hours of customization, lightsaber duels, and galaxy traversing. The brand new graphics and deep gameplay will surely blow “World of Warcraft” out of the water only seven (!) years after its release.

            Yet we all know what is truly keeping the bandwidth booming these days, and that would be Activision’s “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3” for PlayStation 3, PC and Xbox 360. The game has scored the biggest entertainment launch of all time, and surely the headset jockey in your household couldn’t resist a disk of this.

            For the nerdier set, there’s the Blu-ray of “Thor”, one of the many comic book films to hit the screens in the last several years. However, the charming Chris Hemsworth and his oafish humor help elevate it above the rest. The special effects and (literally) out of this world battles don’t hurt, either.

            For the adamant actioner in your atmosphere, there’s the “Jurassic Park Ultimate Trilogy” Blu-ray set for their pleasure. All three films in the series have been revitalized for 1080p quality and lossless DTS Master Audio 7.1 sound to rattle the room with dinosaur stomps and popcorn chomps.

            Love the people in your life more than the weight in your wallet and start shopping for these gifts today. That, or enjoy the Christmas Eve lines in all their suffering splendor.

A City In Agony, A Cause In Gratitude

On November 27th, 1978, San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone were shot and killed by former Supervisor Dan White within the San Francisco City Hall. Up and to this point, Milk was already gaining recognition as a power player in not only San Francisco politics, but gay rights activism as well. As such, his death left behind a legacy that still empowers civil rights in America to this day.
Harvey Bernard Milk became the first openly gay non-incumbent man in the United States to win an election for public office. More importantly, he was instrumental in defeating The Brigg’s Initiative in California, which, if voted in, would have banned all gays and lesbians from working in California public schools.
Milk also sponsored and helped pass a strong anti-discrimination ordinance within San Francisco that extended to homosexuals. The ordinance was called the “most stringent and encompassing in the nation”, and its passing demonstrated “the growing political power of homosexuals”, according to The New York Times. (Ledbetter, 1978)
Not to say that Milk was only a hero for the gays. During his tenure, he also created the famous “pooper scooper law”, which required dog owners to pick up after their pets. His determination to get attention over this event was extensive, as press conference that he held over the issue got national attention. Because of this and other political dealings of Milk, Anne Kronenberg, his campaign manager, called him “a master at figuring out what would get him covered in the newspaper”. (Epstein, 1984)
He also used his political flair promoting better and less expensive child care facilities, free public transportation, and the development of a board of civilians to oversee the police. (Charles Scribner, 1995)
Harvey Milk knew what people wanted from their leaders while also playing the political game with aplomb and loving care. So it’s no surprise that his tragic death would create “a city in agony”, according to the San Francisco Examiner’s dramatic headline the day after his murder.
To say that Milk alone led to the phenomenon behind the rising gay rights movement and its reaction his death would be inaccurate. Surrounding every great man are the circumstances and cultural musings influencing him and his rise to prominence. Milk merely helped lead a preexisting charge toward more freedom for gays within the San Francisco city limits, and, by extension, the country.
“What San Francisco is today, and what it is becoming, reflects both the energy and organization of the gay community and its developing effort toward integration in the political processes of the American city best known for innovation in life styles.” (Herbert, 1977)
Former Supervisor Dan White, on that fateful November morning, murdered Mayor Moscone then Milk over political frustration. White had been refused a reelection to his position by Moscone after the former resigned. Milk had campaigned against the reelection as well, which infuriated White and further widened the political chasm between the two.
President of the Board of Supervisors Dianne Feinstein was the first to discover Milk dead, and also the one to break the news to a distraught public. She had been shaking so badly after the discovery that she required support from the police chief. (Flintwick, 1978). “As President of the Board of Supervisors, it’s my duty to make this announcement. Both Mayor Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk have been shot and killed. The suspect is Supervisor Dan White.”
Very soon after the killings, White was caught and charged with two counts of murder and held without bail. Coincidently, he was eligible for the death penalty due to a recent passing of a statewide proposition that allowed death for the murder of a public official. (San Francisco Examiner, 1978)
Despite the evidence and public outrage facing White, he was given a relative slap on the wrist as a punishment at the end of the trial. He was acquitted of first degree murder charges. Instead, the killer was sentenced to eight years for two counts of voluntary manslaughter. With the sentence reduced for time served and good behavior, he would be released in five.
With the decision, the reaction was imminent. A swelling of people from the Castro District marched to City Hall, chanting “Avenge Harvey Milk” and “He got away with murder”. (Epstein, 1984). A mob that, at its peak, reached a staggering 3,000 people and threw rocks at City Hall as well as setting government cars ablaze. The attempts of Milk’s allies to quell the outrage went unheeded.
Once the night was over, 161 rioters and police officers had been hospitalized. Over one million dollars in damages were caused to government and civilian buildings as well as vehicles.
Despite the significance of the violence, it forever pales in comparison to the legacy that Milk’s beautiful work brought to this country. His achievements seem to bring a stark contrast to the rest of the gay rights movement, as no other individual within the cause has reached his icon status.
“No contemporary American gay leader has yet to achieve in life the stature Milk found in death,” Historian Neil Miller once asserted. (Miller, 1994)
Partly because of this, it seems that his legacy has become unclear in the light of the lack of a real contemporary.
Biographer Randy Shilts believes that Milk’s rise and fall is “a metaphor for the homosexual experience in America.” (Shilts, 1982) So, looking at it in another light, it would seem that Milk’s influence is more of the societal and cultural than the political.
Historian John D’Emilio seems to concur with this theory. “The legacy that I think he would want to be remembered for is the imperative to live one’s life at all times with integrity.” (Cloud, 1998)
Indeed, the media attention that followed the story of Milk after his death has been substantial. An Academy Award winning documentary as well as an acclaimed feature film were made about the man.
He has also been listed in several lists of the most influential Americans as well as gay rights personnel that have changed the face of the cause forever.
The Advocate listed Milk third in their “40 Heroes” of the 20th century issue, quoting the seemingly ever-present Dianne Feinstein in their write-up.
“His homosexuality gave him an insight into the scars which all oppressed people wear. He believed that no sacrifice was too great a price to pay for the cause of human rights.” (The Advocate, 2007)
And that sacrifice, for him, was the ultimate one. Few know this better that Harvey Milk’s nephew Stuart Milk, who was the one to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Barack Obama during 2009 in his deceased uncle’s place. Stuart also wrote an essay about Harvey, commenting on how he impacted his life and the lives of millions of people all across the country.
“I came out the night Harvey was killed. Coming out was still extremely rare back then, yet I would be joined by thousands of other LGBT people across the nation who read about and heard the prophetic message my uncle included in one of the political wills he recorded before his assassination: ‘If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet destroy every closet door.’” (Milk, 2011)

Works Cited
Ledbetter, Les (March 22, 1978). “Bill on Homosexual Rights Advances in San Francisco”, The New York Times, p. A21.
The Times of Harvey Milk. Dir. Rob Epstein. DVD, Pacific Arts, 1984.
Gold, Herbert (November 6, 1977), “A Walk on San Francisco’s Gay Side”, The New York Times, p. SM17.
“Harvey Bernard Milk.” Dictionary of American Biography, Supplement 10: 1976–1980. Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1995.
Flintwick, James (November 28, 1978). “Aide: White ‘A Wild Man'”, The San Francisco Examiner, p. 1.
“No Bail as D.A. Cites New Law”, The San Francisco Examiner (November 28, 1978), p. 1.
Miller, Neil (1994) Out of the Past: Gay and Lesbian History from 1869 to the Present, Vintage Books, p. 408
Shilts, Randy (1982). The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk, St. Martin’s Press, p. 348
Cloud, John (November 10, 1998). “Why Milk is Still Fresh: Twenty Years After his Assassination, Harvey Milk Still Has a Lot to Offer the Gay Life”, The Advocate, (772) p. 29.
40 Heroes, The Advocate (September 25, 2007), Issue 993.
Milk, Stuart (2011). Harvey’s Enduring Legacy, The Criterion Collection, p. 16

Discovery of Teen Sex Leads to Tragedy

The hit Fox show, “Glee”, is experiencing another round of controversy this week after airing an episode called “The First Time”, which, surprise, was about sex between teenagers.

The blind, deaf, and dumb Parents Television Council was, well, dumbfounded at the revelation that gay teenagers have sex.

“The fact that ‘Glee’ intends to… celebrate children having sex is reprehensible,” said the Council through a statement on Tuesday. “The gender of the high school characters involved is irrelevant.”

The Council would not comment on the sudden transformation of all high school students into children overnight. And at their convenience, even.

In addition, where was the almighty Council when heterosexual sex was implied in the first and second seasons of “Glee”? Emphasis on “implied”, as the 8 p.m. show has yet to feature on-screen sex between anyone.

Surprisingly, and maybe encouragingly, the Fox Network expressed no concern over the sexual subject matter regardless of the body part ownership.

It might be because of social politics, as the LGBT community had been hit with a rash of teen suicides over the last year. Many with fair minds find little fault with humane storylines, and, frankly, hot topics sell like hot cakes in writer and family rooms all across the country.

“Glee” co-creator Ryan Murphy couldn’t agree more, as his storytelling seems to have quite the pointed tip these days.

“I think what it says to a lot of young gay people who are confused and ashamed is that you can get love and are worthy of love,” said Murphy of the gay-centric stories within his show.

To backtrack, how explicit were these “sex scenes”? And did the homophobic PTC even care how old the actors are?

“If subsequent scenes didn’t make it implicit that the deed had been done, would anyone even guess that these two pairs of twenty-somethings portraying teenagers were meant to have had sex in these scenes?” said Kevin Farrell, a popular LGBT blogger. “Am I missing something here?”

And to sum it up, Damian Holbrook of “TV Guide” shares his frustration.

“Bet ya’ dollars to donuts nobody would have raged about ‘the message being sent to our young’ if the episode was solely about Finn and Rachel’s first time,” ranted Holbrook. “But throw in some action between two guys who love each other, took their time and acted responsibly and suddenly, boom go the puritans!”

Gaming Gets Smarter

The Nintendo 3DS, at its inception, was often viewed as the future of portable gaming. But it will not come to be.

Even though 3D has been touted as “The Next Big Thing” by many annals of the entertainment and technology industries, the results of the venture have been mixed. Especially with Nintendo.

The Nintendo 3DS sales have struggled in most regions despite a strong showing in Japan. Critics blame the small software library, price of the device, and poor battery life for the relatively sluggish sales.

What seems to be the main factor to me is the rise of mobile gaming, which is benefiting from the rise of dual, and, in 2012, quad core processors that can power more sophisticated and enjoyable games in smartphones.

Indeed, The Washington Post commented that Nintendo struggled to move games and consoles in the first half of this year, and I think it’s safe to say that the mobile and video gaming industries will be at loggerheads for years to come.

The Apple App Store, which is the only online source for games on the iPhone, made one point seven billion dollars in revenue during 2010 according to Apple Insider. This doesn’t even include the free application downloads as well as the money spent on the Android Market and Blackberry App World. Total, the smartphone application is a staggering two point one billion dollar industry.

As smartphones gain in complexity and popularity, we will be carrying fewer and fewer devices in our pockets next year and beyond. Our gaming console, music player, GPS, credit card information, house keys, and even our driver’s license will be packed all into the same device.

What I speak of is the NFC, or Near Field Communication chip that is slowly but surely popping up in more smartphones in the United States. The Galaxy Nexus by smartphone giant Samsung, which is due to arrive on Verizon’s network in the coming weeks, includes the chip as a much celebrated feature.

So it’s the simple matter of convenience that will decide the future of portable gaming. I predict the slow but steady decline of the portable console gaming industry as the smartphone becomes the sole overlord of our pockets and only touchstone for our fingers.

LGBT Celebrity Roundup 9/28/11

News within the gay and transgender celebrity circles was bustling with controversy this past week with many hoping that these stars will not be any worse for the wear.

Leisha Hailey, former star of the hit Showtime program “The L Word” is firing back at Southwest Airlines after she and her girlfriend Camila Grey were kicked off their flight for alleged “excessive kissing”.

“News: kissing is NOT indecent behavior,” posted friend and former American Idol contestant Adam Lambert from his Twitter account. “No matter what sex u are. So if two of the same sex are sweetly kissing, get over it!”

The complaints against the couple were launched by fellow passengers on the plane. Hailey recounted the incident in a statement shortly after the event.

“We were simply being affectionate like any normal couple. We were on the airplane less than five minutes when all was said and done… We were never told the reason the flight attendant approached us, we were only scolded that we ‘needed to be aware that Southwest Airlines was a family oriented airline’.”

It remains to be seen exactly how narrowly defined Southwest Airlines sees family.

The ruckus surrounding Chaz Bono and his appearances on “Dancing With The Stars” continues as Dr. Keith Ablow encouraged parents of young children to tune out, fearing the “indoctrination of children” from the same show that parades people in spray tans and women in low cut dresses.

Ablow asserts that he isn’t trying to “bully” Bono.

“As somebody who was bullied myself that’s the last thing in the world that I would do in any frivolous way to pick on somebody,” said Ablow.

The good doctor stated this not long after asserting that Bono had an “illness” and was “presenting it as a badge of honor” on national television.

Really, Keith?

Regardless, “Dancing With The Stars” premiered to excellent ratings.

And finally, Ellen DeGeneres suffered chest pains at the Burbank studio where she films her talk show.

DeGeneres said she first felt “tightness and heaviness” in her chest on Sunday, but waited until Monday morning to call for paramedics. The talk show host says she has a deep appreciation for the medical team who came to her aid.

“It’s better to be safe than sorry. Who doesn’t want to see a fireman occasionally?” the host said. “I want to say thank you to all the paramedics and the nurses who showed up… I appreciate it.”

DeGeneres reassured her fans that same day that she was doing just fine, going on to do another excellent show in the afternoon.

            And that’s the celebrity roundup for this week.

Favorite Anime Songs-Cowboy Bebop

“The Real Folk Blues”Yoko Kanno

“Blue”-Yoko Kanno


“Call me, Call Me”- Steve Conte and Yoko Kanno

“Wo Qui Non Coin”-Yoko Kanno and The Seatbelts

When it comes to anime soundracks, Bebop’s is one of the best. It’s jazzy, stylish, emotional, fun and most importantly memorable.  Kanno’s work here is exceptional which is fitting for one of (if not THE) best anime series ever created.

Standout track: “The Real Folk Blues”

Favorite Anime Songs-Monster

“For the Love of Life”-David Sylvian

Monster is  a fantastic psychological thriller and just a fantastic show in general. One of the best, and  Sylvian’s slow and haunting track, “For the Love of Life”  could not be a more perfect fit. When I first heard the song in its full form, I got a few goosepimples. It’s pretty epic, even if it’s depressing.

Favorite Anime Songs-Rurouni Kenshin

“Heart of Sword”-T.M Revolution

1/3 Pure Heart“-Siam Shade

Kenshin in my opinion was one of the finest shows to grace Toonami in it’s heyday. Action, Romance, Humor, it had it all. It also had a few good tunes as well. The upbeat, fast paced “Heart of Sword” is probably the most famous song on the shows soundtrack. I fell in love with it instantly upon first listen. It’s the primary closing song for when the show aired on Toonami, for original the Japanese airing, it was the 3rd.  The other track,  “1/3 Pure heart” is the 6th ending to the Japanese version of the show, another memorable one and probably my favorite from the show overall. I really dig  the vocals.

Favorite Anime Songs-Akira

“Kaneda’s Theme” by Geinō Yamashirogumi

Intense, Haunting, and absolutely epic! The main theme from Akira is one of the more beloved and instantly recognizable tracks in the medium. The eerie chanting is the highlight of this track, with the chants getting progressively more intense as it goes.

Favorite Anime Songs-Samurai Champloo

“Shiki no Uta” by Minmi

Samurai Champloo is the stylish sophmore series by the creator of Cowboy Bebop, Shinichiro Watanabe.  It follows an odd trio of characters (a rogue, a samurai, and a young girl)  as they go on a quest to find the elusive “samurai who smells of sunflowers”. This  groovy and laid back  track is heard during the first ending of the series.