Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Flying Under the Gaydar

Gay men love me. It's like they catch a whiff of my Metrosexual airs and it causes a dramatic chemical reaction, like Mentos mints dropped into a soda bottle, of unsolicited attention. It's almost like I'm emitting some signal that causes their Gaydar to get scrambled. I'm not a homophobe by any means; in fact, my disdain of machismo fashion (baggy pants, baseball caps, sports jerseys) and manly sports like American football - combined with a keen interest in elitist/fey sports like tennis, melodic pop music, and films with subtitles - puts me firmly in the aforementioned "Metrosexual" camp. But just because I don't wear a Ravens cap with a Hooters t-shirt and baggy cargo pants doesn't mean I'm "incoming" on your Gaydar screens, fellas!

Craig's List
Just a couple of weeks ago at a "First Thursday" event in Mt. Vernon, "Craig," a total stranger, walked up to me, handed me his card (it said simply, "Craig"), offered me a joint (I declined this golden opportunity to say, "No thanks, I'm straight") and, when I gave him the cold shoulder and walked away, leaned over and said, "Well at least give me a kiss" and licked my neck! Ewwwww! Call me funny about unsolicited bodily secretions, but I felt violated. To quote Hall & Oates, Your kiss is on my list - of the worst things in life!

Then this Saturday at the bookstore, an obviously gay man walked over to me and held up a ballet book, while saying, "This book is written by a man considered to be a great dancer."

Startled, and confused at why he had picked me out of the crowd to discuss this book, I muttered, cleverly, "Um, really? Hmmm, don't know much about it." "Yes," he continued, "But look at the cover!"

He held up a cover depicting a grainy black and white photo of a foot.

"It's a foot," I deduced.

"Yes but it's supposed to be a foot on pointe!" he said disgustedly. "Do you call that on pointe?" I believe he made a dismissive sound next that I can only translate as "Hmmmppphhtt!"

Why me, Ballet Boy? Out of everybody in the store that day, I was singled out as the person most likely to be share his indignation over poor ballet form. Instead I just said, "Oh well, it's just a cover. Maybe the publisher couldn't get the rights to a professional dancer's foot?"

That seemed to satisfy him and he walked away, adding "Any dancer worth their salt would be ashamed of that foot!"

Hmmmppphhtt, indeed!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

You Gotta BOH-lieve

Just a quick reminder that this Saturday, July 22, our good friends at the Senator Theatre are hosting a special free screening of Mr. Boh's Brewery - a documentary about Baltimore's legendary National Brewery by filmmakers Alex Castro, Harry Connelly and Lyle Hein - along with other Boh-related events and memorabilia ("Breweriana"?). Senator Theatre cognoscenti know that will almost certainly involve appearances by manager Gayle Grove's Natty Boh Art Car, as well as her sure to be Nattily-attired Border Collie pooch, Natalie Boh.

Oh, and did I mention the refreshments? There will be FREE Natty Boh!

Mr. Boh's Brewery is an ongoing documentary-in-progress (currently running about 45 minutes) that features vintage film footage and interviews with brewery owners, neighbors and workers. Admission is free on a "first-come, first-served" basis, so get there early to whet your whistle!

Following the film there will be a panel discussion with Brew Crew old-timers hosted by Elaine Eff of the Maryland Historical Society. That will include a Boh memorabilia show & tell with Turkey Joe Trabert.

And Atomic TV's Scott Huffines has put together a reel of vintage National Bohemian commercials, many previously aired on Atomic TV and the Atomic TV website, that may get played at some point during the activities.

Then, continue the Bohdacious Celebration with a free live concert at Belvedere Square featuring music from the '50s and '60s by Tony Berry and New Money.

Here's the full schedule listed by the great National fan website.

Sponsored by the Senator Theatre and WYPR

WHEN: Saturday, July 22, 2006
4:30 pm - doors open at the Senator Theatre
5:30 pm - documentary screening inside the Senator Theatre
6:00 pm - panel discussion inside the Senator Theatre
7:00 pm - free outdoor concert at Belvedere Square featuring music of the '50s and '60s by Tony Berry and New Money

WHERE: The Senator Theatre, 5904 York Road, (410)435-8338

NOTES: Admission is free and on a first-come, first serve basis.

If you miss Saturday's screening, you can catch Mr. Boh's Brewery again on August 12 when the Creative Alliance - in conjunction with Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse, Inc. & Obrecht Commercial Real Estate, Inc. - will present a free outdoor screening at 9 p.m. The doc, plus a 1930s short called Boost Highlandtown Week, will be projected on the exterior of the former National Brewery building. This time the Bohs will be $1 with 50 cents popcorn and sodas.

Related Links:
National Website
Senator Theatre Website
Sample Clip from Mr. Boh's Brewery (courtesy Baltimore Sun)

Monday, July 17, 2006

How Do You Spell Pretentious?

Like Brenda Spencer, I don't like Mondays (or rainy days, for that matter, as they always get me down) and as a result it's my designated day to be crabby and vent my rage against things that annoy me. Like pretentious spellings.

Sunday I stopped in Atomic Books to look for the new issue of ORIENTAL CINEMA and picked up a free copy of something called SEN. It's a local publication reporting on Baltimore's art and music scene. I liked the design and the size - about the same size as RADAR magazine (whatever happened to RADAR, by the way? Haven't seen one in a while). But what I couldn't figure out was what SEN meant. If you want people to pick up your publication from a sea of zines and mags on display, it helps to immediately identify what you're selling. ARCHITECTURE DIGEST - that's pretty clearcut. JUGS magazine, again, pretty obvious what it's about. But what the heck is SEN, I thought. A mag for Sennheiser microphone enthusiasts? Anyway, I picked it up because it looked well-designed and (more importantly) it was FREE. Only after flipping through it and seeing that it was a scene guide to Baltimore's clubs, artists and musicians did it finally dawn on me: SEN was a hipster spelling of SCENE with a long " - " accent line over the E to indicate the stressed E sound. Which begs the question, why not just spell out then word SCENE? Isn't the point of branding to clearly communicate one's identity and to communicate with your audience? This isn't WHEEL OF FORTUNE where you have to purchase an extra vowel and consonent. It costs nothing to throw in those two extra letters! The spelling lessons we learned from SESAME STREET and THE ELECTRIC COMPANY can't be so casually discarded.

On SEN's back page I also noticed an ad for VIN - which has a similar line over the "I" and is pronounced VINE - the new wine bar in Towson Circle. How fitting, because that place also grates on my nerves with its pretentiousness. I mean, VIN's website actually has the gall to pronounce itself "An Oasis of Quality, Sophistication and Joy" - a description just begging for a loud raspberry or a well-hurled pie-in-the-face from The Three Stooges. Just as I hate signs advertising businesses with unnecessary P's and E's (e.g., Ye Olde Rocket Shoppe, Brand New Towne), so too do I find scimping on letters pretentious. Like people named "Bil" or "Wil" or "Dug." It says you're trying too hard to be different, people! It's why, even though I like much of what I hear from Radiohead's albums, I can't get into any band whose singer spells his name "Thom." Sorry, just rubs me the wrong way. I'm especially sensitive on this issue, being a card-carrying "Tom" myself. The only thing worse would be to spell it "Ptom" as in the astronomer Ptolemy or the prehistoric dino-bird Pterodactyl (anybody remember Pterri on PEE-WEE'S PLAYHOUSE?). The effect, like SEN and VIN, is to take something clear and make it all Greek to me. But maybe that's the point; maybe it's the demographics of exclusion - and exclusivity - at work. Maybe these entities don't want construction workers and plumbers to "get it." Maybe they want people like me to mispronounce their names so that they can snicker, "Dumbass! He doesn't get it! He's not in with The In Crowd!" As in, if you have to ask, you can't afford it - be it the menu or membership in the group. I hope not; that would make typography just another tool in the ever-widening gap between the ranks in America's Class War.

One thing's for sure, you'll never see a pulled-pork BBQ joint call itself SWIN ("Pronounced SWINE - An Oasis of Finger-licking Joy with Sophisticated Handi-Wipes"). That would be like talking down to it's unpretentious customer base.

So please people, stop with the snooty spellings. It's all just a little too too.

Related Links:
SEN Website
VIN Website
City Paper review of VIN (thanks to countswackula for pointing this out!)

Related Rantings:
SPASTIC (the Society for Preservation and Acknowledgement of Subjective Taste In Communication) is a great resource for people who get annoyed by spelling and language infractions.

Friday, July 14, 2006

FOXy Ladies

Now that the competitive tension of the 2006 FIFA World Cup is over, I can sit back, relax, and reflect on the real reason soccer (football to everyone in the world but us Yanks - grrrr!) truly is The Beautiful Game: It's the Babes. Don't believe me? Check out FOX Sports' "Babes of the World Cup" site, a one-stop Eye Candy Store for discerning global girl watchers. It even has breakdowns for WAGS (soccer Wives And Girlfriends): Soccer Wives and Girlfriends.


It takes two to Tango. Shall we dance?


Get Down and Under! (Is that Kangaroo Toe?)

They've got an awful lot of booty in Brazil.

Yup, Brazil is a big country! No wonder they were the world's Cup holders entering 2006.

Cheryl Tweedy has back: leftback Ashley Cole, that is. Here she is singing with her band Girls Aloud.

And speaking of singers, here's Tweedy performing a visual duet with Spice Girl Posh (right, showing off her "booty"):

The French have the connection!

Deutschland uber alles!

Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon's babe is model Alena Seredova (below left). Good thing goalies are allowed to use their hands!

And below? That's amore!

The Land of the Rising Fun!

The Red Devil made me do it!

Mexico's fan base is really expanding.

Dutch treats abound in the Nether regions

The Iberian Lightness of Being.

Who said Swedes were icily aloof?

Figures our babes are pure White Trash!

Related Links:
Babes of the World Cup (FOX Sports)
Soccer Wifes and Girlfriends
The Best Looking Soccer Wives

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Marty Bass, Rhymes with Ass

You have to give it to Marty Bass for being consistent - consistently bad, that is. The Martifer, who 10 years ago was named "Best Reason Not To Watch WJZ-News" by the Baltimore City Paper, is still the single most offensive local news personality in existence. Whatever they're paying Don Scott to partner with him on the morning news show, it's not enough. As the City Paper so accurately hit the nail on the (balding) head: "No one else on local TV, or perhaps on the planet, is so unabashedly pleased with himself, and for no good reason."

But wait! There's more!

His loud and rambling weather reports serve only as vehicles to hog airtime, and afterward you don’t have a clue whether to take the umbrella or leave it home. Plus his hyper, “Look at me! Look at me!” performances on WJZ’s morning programs are a daily embarrassment (or oughta be) to the station and to Bass’ coanchor, the sedate Don Scott. At least the plug has been pulled on the nightly newscast’s inane “Mondo Basso” segments, which were anything but mondo and were full ofBass mugging for the camera. After two decades at WJZ, it doesn’t look as if Bass will be heading back to his native Texas any time soon, but we can always hope.

I've never liked Farty Ass (the handle by which his detractors call him), and it has nothing to do with his sleazy bust for soliciting oral sex from an undercover female cop in Patterson Park years ago. Heck, if I was that ugly, I'd be paying for it, too. (He was also charged with attempted assault on a police officer for allegedly coming close to running over the officer when he tried to flee the scene.)

It's not even for his deplorable linquistic defense of his lewd "undercover" foray into investigative journalism (Marty claimed his request for "your head" from the undercover cop was in fact a request to "get inside her head" for a news story on prostitution). Perhaps this nascent attempt at "Catchin' Ass" was the origin for his later WJZ-news segment, "Catchin' Bass."

No, I hate Marty Bass because he recently dissed soccer on air by telling Don Scott, who was talking about the 2006 World Cup, "I don't know how you can watch that game!"

It figures that Marty Bass isn't just repulsive physically and personality-wise, but also in his aesthetics. He's so ordinary. Is this the secret to his popularity with Baltimore's proletarians? (They love the Martifer in East Bawmer! The old White Trash East Baltimore, that is, not the new Hispanic East Baltimore, where the immigrant population rightly embraces The Beautiful Game Marty finds so boring.) One of Life's great mysteries, indeed.

Rome Is Burning...In Hell (with Marty)

And speaking of insufferable American TV personalities who like to bash The World's Game, this just in from the blog of Franklin Foer (How Soccer Explains the World):
Jim Rome has been the most vocal member of the anti-soccer yet to apologize for his misguided position. (That's because Jack Kemp has now admitted his erroroneous ways.) Rome, the Rush Limbaugh of sports radio, will proclaim things like, "My son is not playing soccer. I will hand him ice skates and a shimmering sequinded blouse before I hand him a soccer ball. Soccer is not a sport, does not need to be on my TV, and my son will not be playing it." That's why it's been particularly gratifying to read the crawl at the bottom of the ESPN screen to learn that "Jim Rome is Burning will not be seen today" due to the World Cup.

Best World Cup Blog: Deadspin
By the way, I came across a great sports blog called Deadspin ("Sports news without access, favor, or discretion") that has the best coverage I've seen of the 2006 World Cup, especially by David Hirshey. Unlike the rather bland reportage available on FIFA's official World Cup site, Deadspin is downright snarky. They speak the Truth - in plain (sometimes brutally blunt) words - about the sport, especially who hates whom (even among teammates) and which coaches are complete idiots (like Sven, Marco Van Basten, Bruce Arena, et. al.). Bonus: Deadspin also tends to find the best pics of the hottest babes at the World Cup (especially of the South American variety, as shown at right - go Brasil!)

Related Links:
Marty Bass - Best Reason Not to Watch WJZ-News (City Paper, 9/18/96)
Essex Man: Marty Bass (iamessexman blog)
Marty Bass - Wikipedia
Deadspin Sports Blog