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Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Queer As Folk Final Season, Six Feet Under, Reactions to Homophobia, Scissor Sisters.

Preview the fifth and final season of Queer As Folk. (You’ll need to click on “QAF Is Back!” to see the teaser.) The final season starts in May 2005 on Showtime. Six Feet Under’s final season premieres on HBO, June 13.

Please also visit my newly updated Reactions to Homophobia page.

We Are Scissor Sisters…and So Are You
DVD reviewed by Duane Simolke

Despite the fact that their debut album provides their entire play list, Scissor Sisters manage to deliver a DVD collection that includes a full-length concert, several music videos, a documentary, and much more! This DVD reportedly includes some Easter eggs as well, for those with the patience or equipment to find that sort of thing.

The picture quality during the concert falters at times, but the sound quality is perfect, and that really matters the most in this case. Fans of this theatrical dance band will enjoy seeing how they interpret these already familiar songs on stage. Keep in mind that singer Jake Shears previously worked as a go-go dancer; or just think of Queen’s Freddy Mercury with just as much peacock attitude but even more energy! All of the members bring their unique personalities to the show and the music. The ending number goes so far over the top that it seems like the Muppets crashing a live performance of The Rocky Horror Picture Show!

The music videos capture the humor and energy of the band in other ways, allowing them to play with costumes, low-budget special effects, and silly plot lines. The documentary goes a long way in explaining the bizarre antics but immediate magnetism of this hot new band.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Book review: First Chill: A Collection of Poetry by Brian E. Bengston

With “First Chill,” Nebraskan poet Brian E. Bengston establishes himself as a unique and passionate voice for Omaho, gay men, anyone facing HIV, and anyone who ever felt loneliness or longing. He celebrates all those people and more in this diverse volume, separated into five distinct sections.

“I. NEBRASKA” begins the book with images of Bengston’s state and its people. These poems mix physical details like streets, buildings, or nature with internal longings.

“II. Names” reveals Bengston’s ability to empathize with others and listen to their dreams. The people differ as much as the forms his poems take.

“III. T-Cells” reveals Bengston’s personal struggle with HIV, as well as with HIV medications. It also reveals courage, hope, and frustration. This section includes my favorite poem in the entire book, “Standing at the Edge of the Quilt.” That poem involves the AIDS quilt.

“IV. Letters” includes poems that literally sound like letters. The recipients vary from Bengston’s family members to an author of graphic novels.

“V. First Chill” features the most erotic and emotional poems of this collection. Even more than in the other sections, Bengston keeps the readers off guard and can change the feel of an entire poem with the last line or two. This section provides a satisfying conclusion to a book that I would suggest for poetry lovers everywhere.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Tuesday, June 21 on PBS’s POV series. The Education of Shelby Knox. According to the Incite-Pictures Web site, that documentary “is a coming of age story about a teenage girl who joins a campaign for comprehensive sex education in the high schools of Lubbock, Texas. As Shelby is swept into the fight, she begins to question her deeply conservative Southern Baptist upbringing; when the campaign broadens to include a fight for a gay-straight alliance, Shelby confronts her family and her pastor, in the end declaring herself a feminist and a liberal Christian.”

Read the review in Lubbock Online and a preview at pbs.org. (Air date subject to change, of course; check local listings.)

Read about gay Lubbock topics in my online newsletter Rainbow: Lubbock. I update it constantly.

On a related note, please read the following excerpt from “Fat Diary,” a story I wrote for The Acorn Gathering: Writers Uniting Against Cancer.

Forcing myself not to scream, I quickly changed the subject.

“I noticed on your application that you’re married. How long?”

“How long what?”

“How long have you been married?”

“We were married five months. We just got divorced, but we were still married when I filled out my application for you.”

“I’m sorry,” I offered, trying not to think about the fact that my marriage only lasted five weeks, and that I wasn’t sorry at all when it ended.

“It’s okay. I’m like so over him! He thought he was all that because he was manager of the last Piggly Wiggly around here, but it closed down and he wasn’t manager of nothing. He’s a bag boy at the super center now, but I don’t go in there. It’s like a magnet for stupid people. My new man is more sensitive than my husband was. He’s a theater major, anndduh…he has a part-time job at the flower shop!”

I stifled the stereotypes that flooded my mind, and I mentally kicked myself for thinking those stereotypes. “He sounds nice!”

She indicated exclamation with some sort of cheerleader motion of her right hand. “Oh, you wouldn’t believe how nice! But we’re not real serious. If he wants to buy me stuff, that’s great, but I need to be my own woman now, and I don’t need any help raising my kids.”

“Kids?” I said the word too loud for decorum, especially in a library. One of the housewives, spending way too long reading the back cover of a love story she would soon check out for the fifth time, looked up and cocked her roller-covered head.

“I have two kids, but I live with my parents now, so I don’t need any help. I’m a independent woman! My little sisters are both pregnant, though, so we need more income while I’m in college, planning for a career with some big company, maybe Enron or K-Mart.”

While helping Ian check out his TV/paperback tie-in and noticing for the billionth time how he and Lynn Williams always appeared at the same places at the same time, I bit my tongue over a myriad of “don’t go there” thoughts. Still, after Ian left, I couldn’t help but voice one of those thoughts. “I take it the Acorn School District still uses the abstinence-only, no-discussion sex education program that’s so popular in West Texas.”

“Yeah,” said Tiffani, chewing her bubble gum and tugging at the lacy bra strap that peaked out of her red sweater’s V-neck collar. “Why fix what ain’t broke?”

“And speaking of the Dewey Decimal System,” I swiftly and breathlessly replied, before I could get myself into trouble.