Down and Out in Denver

Oh, Brad!

Posted in gays, tv by Alastair on March 31, 2011

Let me count the ways…

When news came that my pretend boyfriend Brad Goreski was leaving Bravo’s Rachel Zoe Project, I was upset. Sooooooooo upset. How could he do this to me? Well, I just about went bananas this afternoon when I learned that the former assistant to celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe has branched out and is building a business for himself – and has landed his own TV show on Bravo! Do you die?! I DIE. Tentatively entitled It’s a Brad Brad World, the series follows him as he starts his own business and tries to manage his personal life at the same time.

If you haven’t seen the sexy shirtless pics, taken by celeb shutterbug Terry Richardson, check them out here and here.


Lesbian Love on Glee

Posted in gays, tv by Blake on March 12, 2011

Santana and Brittany

While Glee has never been shy in tackling gay themes, mostly in the form of Kurt, his struggles to find love and avoid bullying, as well as cheesy Blaine’s antics, it has generally shied away from dealing with lesbianism.  Until Tuesday night’s show, which I only just watched last night.  Some critics have rightly noted that Brittany and Santana’s occasional messing around in previous episodes made it seem as if lesbianism was just something that girls might do until something better came along.  It wasn’t as serious as gay male identity, in other words.  It was passing and transient and inconsequential.  Exactly what many people think of lesbianism to begin with, in other words, especially if the two women involved are pretty and leggy and conventionally feminine.

But that changed with Santana’s confession to Brittany on Tuesday night’s show that she loves her, wants to be with her, and that her dalliances with Finn and Puckerman and Sam are only that: distractions.  I’m left torn by this. I can’t help thinking that the writers and producers recognized the rightful criticism lodged against them and decided to take women’s same-sex love as seriously as they have been taking male homosexuality.  All good on that count.  And I appreciate that Santana articulated a number of the concerns that many gay people have when thinking about coming out: ostracism, stereotyping, and the like.  It’s also demonstrably true that many young proto-gay men and women sleep around with people of the opposite sex in order to convince themselves and others that they are “really” straight.  And it’s perfectly fine that both Brittany and Santana are bisexual and not lesbian, if that’s what’s going on (it seems clear that that’s what Brittany is saying; she loves Artie and would be with Santana if she weren’t with him.  Santana, on the other hand, might be leaning more toward lesbianism?  I’m not sure).  But is it a good move, still, to portray male homosexuality as abiding and unchanging (witness Blaine trying to kiss Rachel; wasn’t going to happen.  Or Kurt’s unwavering gayness throughout the show, or even his closeted bully’s lack of romantic interaction with women) and women as bisexual?  Of course part of this is that the show has already boxed itself into a corner with Brittany and Santana’s past exploits with men.  Still, the message seems pretty clear: some boys are gay and some are straight; women, however, are “fluid” (Santana’s word for Brittany). Where is Glee’s butch baby dyke, the analogous character to Kurt?  I’m all for femme representation as well — in the form of Brittany and Santana — but the writers don’t seem totally willing to commit. Or maybe I’m just old and don’t understand how things are with the kids these days.

I’m still working through all this in my mind.  Thoughts?

She’s Baaaack!

Posted in gays, tv by Blake on December 13, 2010

Tabatha is back on Bravo on Monday nights.  And of course Alastair and I tuned in for the season premiere last week. Alastair had just returned from almost a week in SF, where he explained that he’d been eating too much.  So we decided to forgo our regular pizza and ordered Thai.  So healthy. Well, it would have been if we hadn’t included the fried potstickers and deep-fried shrimp in our order.  Oh well…

Tabatha in PJs with 3 Phun Sisters

But food was not the main event and Tabatha was! What can I say? Except that she’s as wonderful as ever, if ever-so-slightly softer around the edges (in terms of personality, that is, not somatically). Last week’s episode had Tabatha taking over a salon in San Bruno, CA run by four sisters (well, run by two of them, employing the other two).  The softer side of Tabatha: she went to their home (all 4 live together) for a slumber party and we saw her in her pyjamas!  All pink. Cognizant of her usual outfits, she asked, “You didn’t think I slept in black, too, did you?”  She also confessed a real fondness for the Phun sisters at one point, hoping that they would get it together to run their salon successfully.

What I love about Tabatha, aside from how blunt and profane she is (though I love both of those things as well), is that in the land of vapid reality television, she stands out as intelligent. She has a brain. When one watches a little too much of the housewives of various locations, one encounters a gaggle of women who take themselves very seriously. And are also very seriously dumb.  Not so Tabatha.  She knows her stuff, she’s funny, and she’s one smart cookie.  The fact that she’s also a lesbian endears her to our DOD heart even more.  Check her out tonight at 8 PM MST on Bravo.

Thoughts on Glee

Posted in tv by Blake on December 1, 2010

So the main reason that Alastair and I have been so mute is that we’ve been boring. Not so much dining out or carousing about town.  Big A is now in San Francisco so maybe he’ll have some stories to share.  Alastair?  I, on the other hand, have still not done anything interesting.  I did go to Boston for Thanksgiving and that was lovely, but it did not produce any DOD-worthy tales to tell.

I did, however, watch last night’s episode of Glee during my lunch break today.  And I had a good time, almost as good as when Gwyneth guest-starred (see above), which I enjoyed much more than I thought I would, not being the biggest fan of GP normally, finding her a little self-satisfied.  But I enjoyed last night’s episode far more than the bullying episode that I wrote about a couple weeks ago, which was egregious on any number of levels, some of which I noted, and some of which YOU noted.  A few thoughts about this most recent episode:

1. I love it when the show-within-a-show decides not to feature Finn and Rachel (Finchel) so much, because then we get to see other people sing and dance.  And sing and dance they did!

2. Blaine, plasticized as he may be, does a good dancing and singing number himself.  Two questions: Could it be that Kurt is a horrible back-up dancer?  When are these two boys going to get it on?  Or is Blaine, far cuter than Kurt, using him for some nefarious purposes?  Though that seems doubtful, given the doe-eyed looks he shoots at Kurt every time he sings and the fact that Kurt isn’t getting solos so clearly isn’t being taken away from New Directions to be used by the Warblers for his voice.  (OK, that was three questions and then some.)

Mike Chang (Harry Shum, Jr.) and Brittany S. Pierce (Heather Morris) on Ryan Seacrest

3. LOVE Brittany S. Pierce and Mike Chang. LOVE.  Love Brittany’s dialogue, love Mike’s cardigan in the final number (too cute!), love their dancing best of all.  Want. More.

4. Also loved the Hipsters singing Mike and the Mechanics’ “Living Years.”  I admit it; I teared up a little bit.  And promptly downloaded the original song to add to my “Old Guys Who Make Me Cry” iPod playlist.  (Yes, I have such a thing; maybe I should speak to my therapist about it.  Who else is on it, you ask?  Don Henley, Steve Winwood, Marc Cohn: 80s pop rock.  I can’t explain it; don’t ask me to.)

5. Also loved that Tina got a chance to sing at the end, and with Mercedes, who of course belted it out like she always does, making me smile as I always do (not as much as when she and Santana did Tina Turner’s “River Deep, Mountain High,” of course, but that was a moment to be savored for years to come.)

Bullying on Glee

Posted in gays, tv by Blake on November 15, 2010

Kurt's Tormentor Kisses Him

OK, so I’m a little behind on this one; forgive me.  I no longer have a television (!) so I watch everything either at Alastair’s house or after the fact on my computer.  And I only just saw last week’s episode of Glee, an episode that clearly was a long time in coming (the possibility of Kurt getting some action and the fact of addressing his bullying so explicitly).  One suspects that this has something to do with the recent and horrifying rash of suicides nationwide where gayness or suspected gayness has been a factor.  While I’m grateful to Glee for tackling this issue, I’m also a little skeptical of the tack they’ve taken.  For two reasons:

1. I loved the all-boys school version of “Teenage Dream.”  But I was not convinced — AT ALL — by the notion that this private boys school’s policy of “No Tolerance,” as Blaine explained it, would actually be very effective.  I have a certain amount of experience with all boys’ environments — schools, camps, other organizations — and oftentimes they are significantly worse on issues of homosexuality than are their coed counterparts.  I just don’t buy that Blaine’s classmates are so comfortable with his homosexuality.  Or, for that matter, that the entire school is so enthusiastic about its glee club that they would all be dancing along to its Katy Perry remake.

2. While Kurt has been bullied since Day One on this show, I am made profoundly uncomfortable by the notion that his biggest tormentor is now revealed as a closet homosexual conflicted about his feelings.  When will the gays abandon the notion that the worst homophobes are also homos as well? First of all:  What evidence do we have that this is actually true?  Second, in what way is this politically useful? Or comforting?  Do we really want them on our team?  I certainly don’t.  I also just don’t think this explanation can possibly account for the prevalence of hatred against gay men and lesbians.  Not all of the people who hate us can possibly also want to sleep with us.  Yes, they can be profoundly uncomfortable about their own sexuality or their masculinity.  Or they can just be looking for someone to pick on because they themselves need to pick on others to be popular. And in high school picking on the gay kid is standard practice. But the notion endorsed by last week’s Glee that our worst tormentors are … really just us.  That I don’t buy.

All that said, I’m super excited for Kurt to get it on with uber-cheesy Blaine.  It’s time for Kurt to have some boy-on-boy action.  I hope they don’t shy away from including Kurt’s first voluntary kiss in an upcoming episode, as they have not minded including the delightful Brittany and Santana makeout sessions or this most recent less-than-voluntary lip-lock.

Mondo and Gretchen: The Showdown

Posted in fashion, tv by Blake on October 29, 2010

The Final Three Pre-Shocker

It is difficult to know where to begin when discussing last night’s Project Runway season finale, which Alastair and I watched at his place with our gal pal Christine.  At the outset we all agreed that, on the whole, we had been underwhelmed by the talent of the designers this season.  It seemed clear to us that had Gretchen or Andy been competing on a previous season they would not have been in the Final Three, because other people would have beaten them out.  Which is also to say that we believed Mondo was going to win. How wrong we were. Let’s address a few issues separately, shall we?

The Peach Has a Gay Following Issue: Did you hear her say that in the reunion segment?  Did you see that she commented on our post about her? Do we flatter ourselves too much to think that Peach was talking about DOD?  Of course we do.  But maybe we think that a little bit anyway.

The Fairy Jobmother Issue: Don’t even get me started on the faux job skills workshop conducted by Hayley Thompson that we were all forced to watch during commercial breaks.  Clearly inspired by SuperNanny, but with none of her charm, we shan’t be tuning in for episodes of this anytime soon.

The Gretchen Is a Bitch Issue: In the reunion segment (rife with Heidi’s obvious voiceovers) Gretchen explained that she was not a bitch and that that was a word that generally gets used for powerful and confident women.  We agree with her on the second count but not on the first.  Men clearly are allowed to get away with more in this regard; indeed it is expected of them.  But that doesn’t mean that arrogance and two-facedness and delusional self-aggrandizement are attractive characteristics in a woman OR a man.  And throughout this season, Gretchen has demonstrated all three in spades.  We think this is nasty in a man, too, and we posted about it regarding last season’s resident egomaniac, Emilio Sosa.

What to say?

The Jessica Simpson Issue: Where to begin?  JSimps is clearly in one of her chunkier phases and that dress — maybe from her own collection at Macy’s? — certainly did not help, making her arms look like slabs of meat hanging from her torso.  But our main complaint here is with the fact that Project Runway thought it was a good idea to invite her on to be the season finale guest judge!  She offered up virtually nothing in the way of constructive criticism:  “That’s unique.”  “They all clearly put a lot of effort in and care about design.”  “I would wear that and I want my sister to wear it, too.”  Yes, she finally came down on the side of Mondo, but it was really too little, too late.  Whether through editing or not, she said virtually nothing of substance for 95% of her time on screen.

Grey, grey, grey, green, grey, grey, grey

The Immediate Elimination of Andy South Issue: Did I like Andy’s stringy tank tops and even stringier weave, newly introduced for the Season Finale?  No, I did not.  Did I love his clothes?  No.  There were two colors involved and the dominant one — seen on virtually all the models — was grey.  It was monotonous.  But there were a couple cute dresses, including one of the few unique pieces that Simpson bothered to express an opinion about at all.  I think what surprised us most was that Andy was quickly and cavalierly removed from contention.  We thought Mondo was better than Andy but we thought a reasonable debate could be had about the merits of Andy vs. Gretchen.  No such conversation took place.

The Most Important Issue: The trajectory of this season design-wise goes a little like this…  Gretchen emerges early on as the talent, then fades a bit mid-season, and by the end is barely squeaking her way into the final three, so egregious have some of her recent choices been.  You do recall the Heidi sportswear challenge, yes?  Indeed you do.  Mondo, on the other hand, was fine to begin with but made some bad juniors-inspired choices in the first half.  By the second half he was both a fan favorite, and a consecutive-winning star.

Ready to Wear This?

We expected that this trend would continue and in our estimation of the clothes, it did, though we’ll admit that Gretchen did step up her game and that Mondo could have wowed us more than he did.  I agreed with Nina that Mondo needed to edit a little more — there was a lot going on in terms of accessories — but I also thought that some of what Gretchen sent down that runway was truly hideous.  So your DOD boys and their gal pal were pretty shocked when the debate was as heated as it was: Garcia/Kors vs. Klum/Simpson.  Maybe Mondo never had a chance; was la Garcia really going to let JSimps come out on top?  Doubtful.  But the greater question is why Garcia and Kors preferred Gretchen in the first place.  And that leaves us baffled.  Gretchen was trumpeted as being a ready-to-wear designer and we can certainly see that she was more casual than Mondo, but where exactly does one wear a pair of drab ill-fitting short shorts and a matching blouse? Who, pray tell, is ready to wear that?

PR Incredulity: Michael Costello

Posted in fashion, tv by Blake on October 16, 2010

Alastair and I watched PR at his place on Thursday night — whilst enjoying a little vino rosso and a pizza from Benny Blanco’s — and we were pretty shocked by the outcome.  Not shocked that April was eliminated, though if each outfit were judged on its own basis — as opposed to the designer’s entire history, which they always say they won’t do and then do anyway — it should have been Gretchen.  But it was April, and we were sad to see her go.  We had unexpectedly become fans of April.

Michael Costello's Creation

No, what shocked us was that Michael Costello won.  We were pretty much convinced throughout the episode that he would be going home, or at the very least that he would be in trouble with Nina and Michael Kors.  And not because the dress itself wasn’t pretty — it was — but because it was boring.  It wasn’t new in the slightest.  It has been done and seen before.  Michael’s dress was inspired by … get ready … a dress.  Need we say more?  Apparently we need.  If the point of this challenge was to be innovative and creative and bring something new to the runway, then on all three counts Michael failed.  But all that seemed to be forgotten by the judges because they thought that Michael had brought the “wow” factor to bear in his design.  It is a pretty dress and it did drape well, but if I understand draping at all (and I may not) it seems to me that innovative draping is a little more complicated than what Michael did here.  This dress just hangs, tent-like, straight down.  Is that so challenging?  (Maybe it is; it doesn’t look that challenging, however.)  Isn’t this just a big maxi dress with a high slit and a plunging back?

I don’t think that any of the other designers were doing their best on Thursday either.  It was all a little ho-hum.  But with the exception of Gretchen (“It doesn’t look downtown, or uptown.  It looks midtown.”  OUCH.) at least each of them designed something unique and something that was very much identifiable as being designed by Andy or April or Mondo.  Michael Costello, not so much. Maybe we misunderstood the challenge?  In any event, we’re down to four, with one left to be eliminated before they show in Lincoln Center. We’re becoming very curious…

We ♥ Mondo Guerra Even More!

Posted in denver, design, gays, tv by Blake on October 1, 2010

Mondo and his Model

His third consecutive win.  The bold print and sleek little top.  His adorable mother.  His wry sense of humor.  His humility.  His coming out as HIV-positive on national television. His being our Denver neighbor.  In short, what’s not to love?

Let’s also have a moment here for Valerie Mayen, whose designs may have bored us toward the end a wee bit, but who gave us one of the best parting moments we’ve had on Project Runway.  As she talked about each designer, I kept expecting her to stumble and be less articulate in her description of the next one.  But stumble she did not.  Her comments were heartfelt, individualized, and moving. Dear reader, I am not ashamed to admit that between Mondo and Valerie and Tim, this DOD boy was sobbing like a small child.  And that was not such a bad place to be.

See our Season Finale Wrap-up Here.

Mondo Guerra Takes the Win!

Posted in fashion, tv by Blake on September 17, 2010

Mondo's Jackie O-inspired Creation

Congratulations to Mondo Guerra, who took last night’s win on Project Runway.  You may recall that we here at DOD have come to be rather fond of Mondo after his turnabout on the Michael C front last week.  Of course he’s also from Denver!  While Ivy’s outfit was pretty — we were not so fond of Christopher’s, also in the Top Three — Mondo was the only one who seemed to actually take the Jackie O part of the challenge to heart.  Would she have worn this outfit?  Maybe not.  But could you identify her in the oversized herringbone and the well-cut stripes? Indeed you could.  So bravo Mondo, for a cute outfit, for following instructions, and for his first PR win! (His outfit, however, was another matter.  While it is very difficult to make a boy that petite look chunky around the middle, that cummerbund did the trick.)

On to other matters: January Jones was quite an improvement over last week’s Kristen Bell, but really, who wouldn’t be?  Her outfit, however, not so much.  Black shirt and jeans?  This is Project Runway, Jan!  Step it up a notch.  Granted, don’t step it up so far that you look like you did at the Emmys:

January Jones at the Emmys

But still, a little effort would have been appreciated.  We didn’t hear as much from JJ as I would have liked, though she did get in one great one-liner.  Did you hear?  After Michael Kors bemoaned Andy’s choice of footwear for his model, calling it “what Nicole Kidman wore for Cold Mountain,” January piped up: “And her hair is from ‘Far and Away.'”  Apparently JJ can think on her feet!  (Speaking of judges: did you hear?  Jessica Simpson will be the guest judge for the final. To say that Alastair and I are shocked and appalled by this is, well, an understatement.  Jessica Simpson.  Fashion.  Rarely do the two meet.)

While I liked Michael Drummond’s sense of humor, his outfit was pretty hideous.  I will be sad to see him go, but I will not miss his do-rag/hat/glasses/earrings combo look.  Too much going on above the neck, Michael D!  Really, there is often too much going on above the neck on many of our designers this season.  Gretchen seemed to be sporting some Heidi braids in her interviews last night.  Mondo had a weird headband in his.  April regularly does some strange buns, and don’t even get me started on the craziness that occurs north of Andy’s shoulders.  I get it, kids, you’re fashion designers, you need to express yourselves.  But this is all a little much.

My final word on the show, and it relates to a concern I’ve had for quite some time.  What is with the constant use of the word expensive?  That word is thrown around — by designers, by Tim, by the judges — as if it is, by definition, a good thing, synonymous with attractive or stylish or even another of my least favorite words, classy.  Expensive does not mean any of these things: it simply means that something cost a lot of money.  I understand that when designers are given no more than a couple hundred bucks (and sometimes much less) at Mood, it is an accomplishment to have something look like it was made from costly fabric.  But expensive, in and of itself, is not necessarily a good thing (see above photo of JJ’s dress).  And expensive is not necessarily the opposite of cheap.  Strictly speaking, of course, it is.  But the word cheap has taken on a life of its own.  It can now be applied to actions as well as goods and while it clearly still refers to matters of cost, it’s also about taste as well. Using the word expensive the way they all do presupposes that if someone is willing to spend lots of money on something, ergo it is attractive.  This is specious logic.  The whole point of Project Runway is to demonstrate that beauty can be created in very little time and with strange (and sometimes cheap) materials.  Let’s do away with “cost” as a means of complimenting!  Expensive as an unqualified good should be eliminated from these people’s vocabulary.  We’ve all witnessed expensive dresses in the worst-dressed categories of every tabloid and post-award show wrap-up.  They were ugly.  And they still cost a fortune.

Check, Please! Bay Area

Posted in food, travel, tv by Blake on September 13, 2010

I’ve been traveling back and forth between Denver and San Francisco over the past year to see my Gentleman Friend.  And one of the things I’ve discovered in my time in the Bay Area is a public television show called “Check, Please!  Bay Area.”  I love it.  More than I can probably describe to you in this post.  This is the deal: Three “regular Bay Area residents” apply to be on the show by picking a favorite restaurant and extolling its virtues.  When they are selected they are given the names of two other restaurants. All three people visit each other’s favorite restaurants and assemble for the taping of the show, which is hosted by Leslie Sbrocco, oenophile and foodie.  And this is where the fun begins!  They all sit around talking about their experiences at the three restaurants.  Things remain calm if everyone is in agreement about how wonderful they all are.  But that is rarely the case.  Usually at least one person doesn’t like another’s very favorite restaurant.  And it can be all kinds of uncomfortable as one person is either aggressively or apologetically critical, all while Leslie tries to smooth things over.  The production values are pretty low and the awkwardness level can be well nigh excruciating because many people in the Bay Area are WACKY, but it is, quite simply, addictive.  I can’t get enough.  I can talk about CP!BA in the way that I can talk about my favorite NPR reporters: obsessively.  And that includes talking about its host, Leslie Sbrocco, who is herself a polarizing figure, even amongst people otherwise devoted to the show.  I adore all of her quirks and her awkwardness; she drives some people insane.

The show is great, however, not just for entertainment, but of course because you can go visit any of the restaurants reviewed!  For instance, I have now been to two of the three restaurants featured in Episode 5 of Season 5 (above), neither of which I would have known about without CP!BA.  Marnee Thai (locations in the Inner and Outer Sunset) is the best Thai I’ve had in the Bay Area and certainly better than anything I’ve had in Denver (and I’ve been to Thailand).  And on Friday night, my Gentleman Friend took me to Chez Spencer for my birthday.  We had a true feast, which included a number of the dishes featured on this episode of CP!BA: the pan seared sea scallops with hearts of palm; the steamed asparagus with shaved parmesan and truffle emulsion; and the filet mignon with morels and truffle oil.  We also ordered the foie gras and the my GF had the venison.  We split the profiteroles for dessert.  Tucked away in the Mission on 14th at Folsom, Chez Spencer is a bit unexpected in that neighborhood.  And while it wasn’t cheap, it was delicious and romantic and the service was excellent. And we knew about it because of the wonders of Check, Please! Bay Area.

So what does all of this have to do with Denver, you ask?  I want such a show here!  I’m not fully convinced that we have the restaurants to support it, but I think we could swing it.  The show in SF covers the entire Bay Area — suburbs from San Jose all the way up through Marin — so they’ve drawn their boundaries generously.  We could even just do the whole state or everything within two hours of Denver, say.  Chicago also has its own version (in 2001 state senator Barack Obama was on to talk about his favorite restaurant.)  What do you think, Denver foodies?  Check Please! Denver?