March 27th, 2011

Having spent this past weekend in Manhattan, it was sheer cosmic force much greater than Cher that put a random copy of the latest Advocate in the seat back pocket of seat 4F.  Wondering whether to crack open my Mac or dig through my bag to find a home theater magazine chock full of tech-geekery, I saw the image of disgraced preacher with evangelistic (and homosexual) tendencies, Ted Haggard, staring back at me.  His image seemed just a little more than strange on the cover of a gay ‘lifestyle’ mag, but my curiosity was piqued and I cracked it open..

Now, we interrupt our regularly scheduled blog for a moment of brutal honesty: What a load of horse shit this story was…  From all parties involved.  The Advocate portrays Haggard as a down-and-out, ex-prize fighter who’s attempting to TKO his way back into God’s good graces, while spending ample time allowing the gay male escort who outed him, Mike Jones, to wax poetic about how he never did this for the publicity and blah, blah, blah.  I couldn’t get through all of Jones’s side of the story, as the bullshit was getting too deep and the TSA won’t let me bring my yellow rain boots on a plane.  Overall, it was cream puff journalism with two main characters that basically deserve each other, but certainly not our sympathies.

Years ago, when this story broke, I was invited to write an article about my professional thoughts on it for Dan Savage’s The Stranger.  In time since, my feelings haven’t changed a bit, perhaps even growing stronger when reading what Mike Jones has been saying all along.  Naturally, he’s playing the victim, saying that he lost his friends and family, can’t find a normal job and that Haggard has ruined HIS life.  Pretty rich coming from a guy who not only seemed to me to be a gay male escort who hated himself, but also sold drugs like meth on the side for extra income.

Now that’s classy.

Jones walked the line against the cardinal rule in this business and got burned:  They pay you to keep your mouth shut.  What’s worse than a hustler who takes your money and sells you meth?  A hustler who goes right to the press afterwards, accepts a book deal and smiles big for the Anderson Cooper.

As for Haggard, he’s just in this sad spot in life, not owning up to his obvious homosexuality and clinging to the church as his last bastion of strength.  While he’ll never have that mega-congregation of followers ever again, he did and still does have the chance to make good on his bad decisions.  When asked about gay marriage, it’s clear that he wants to support it, but doesn’t have the chutzpah to stand tall on the decision.  Of course, he also still carries around the emotional baggage of his traditional marriage (yes, she’s stood by him this whole time), which tends to put a damper on things when you’re wanting to cruise the younger members of your congregation and invite them back to your office for ‘prayer and reflection.’

But, moving on…

The national tour of West Side Story recently rolled through San Antonio and having seen the Broadway revival in 2009, I wanted to see how the tour held up in comparison.  With such an iconic show, it’s far too easy to ruin the incredible music and technical dancing, but surprisingly, the tour may feature more talent than their Broadway counterpart.  The dancing was stronger and the voices were bell-clear.  While the orchestra wasn’t as large or as rounded-out sounding, the touring musicians and local fill-ins made the score sound lush and new.  Some of the larger set pieces are also on the tour (the chain link screen, the ‘overpass’ set piece during the fight), but never did the set overpower what was happening on stage.  I felt that in parts of the Broadway revival, the technical aspects of the production were glaringly more noticeable than the talent.  It wasn’t this way in the least with this current national tour.  Nice overall balance.

Also identical to the Broadway revival, the tour is also using a lot of Spanish, both in song and spoken dialogue.  It works well for those who understand the language and luckily when things go almost totally away from English, the actors use more than enough body language for anyone unfamiliar to comprehend what’s happening.  The dancing was thrilling, with everyone in the cast just attacking the material.  For the first time ever in watching West Side Story, I felt some fear when both the Jets and Sharks were on-stage.  They weren’t just dancers up there.  They were rough, rugged street kids who infused every step with emotion and cause.  Jerome Robbins was truly a brilliant choreographer.

If it happens to be in your area, go see it.  It’s rare that a classic like this gets a truly first-rate tour, much less a revival on Broadway.  With more movies being musicalized into mass-marketed machines for Manhattan tourists, it’s nice to see producers taking a chance on a true original.

And now, a bit of out with the old and in with the new…

After nearly 10 years of owning one model of Blackberry or another, I’ve finally made the switch and upgraded to a ridiculously fast and over-capable HTC Thunderbolt, the first 4G LTE handset that Verizon wireless has released.  I can’t express just how quick this device is.  While it’s being used in wireless mode (allowing up to 8 devices to connect to its 4G signal at a time), it’s getting speeds that rival or beat my home cable modem connection.  Simply amazing.  So far, the only downfall seems to be a very weak battery, but things like that are easily fixed with aftermarket extended power.  The screen isn’t as crisp or bright at the new iPhone 4, but the touch-screen interface is equally as responsive (and intuitive).  Thanks to a 4G network, you can easily walk down the street and video-conference in real time using either of the two cameras (one front-facing, one rear) as well.  While it’s only been a week, I think I’m in lust…  Love comes after several months of airport use and figuring out if it can handle multiple drops while going through the TSA screening.

The new ‘Ask BN’ feature is going like gangbusters and all thanks to the readers of 15mm.  Thanks much for taking the time to pose your questions.  As long as there’s extra time in my day, I will try my best to quickly reply to anything that pops through.  So far, I’m a bit backlogged on responses, having gotten nearly 30 questions each day the site’s been live.  For those who haven’t seen this new feature yet, here’s the link for bookmarking:

http://formspring.me/bennicholas

Also, for fans of the long-running Eye Candy postings, a plethora of pecker has recently been posted on the Eye Candy Twitter feed.  Just click the logo below to keep up with what I’m finding irresistible on the world wide web.

Until the next update, thanks so much for your readership and your feedback,

BN

Posted in Update!