Category Archives: Uncategorized

“Truthtelling: Stories, Fables, Glimpses” by Lynne Sharon Schwartz— Looking at New Yorkers

Schwartz, Lynne Sharon. “Truthtelling: Stories, Fables, Glimpses”, Delphinium, 2020.

Looking at New Yorkers

Amos Lassen

Let me start by saying that I am not much of a short story reader but with that said, I have to say that I totally enjoyed Lynne Sharon Schwartz’s “Truthtelling” and not only because of her wonderful prose but because I read them at a time when we are all looking for hope. So many of us are facing a new way of life in which dreams have been shattered and we face new kinds of problems every day. Reading how others deal with this made me see myself differently. I found compassion within myself that I was unaware even existed anymore (I thought I was “compassioned” out). We all make decisions that are not the best and it is always easier to see that in others than in ourselves.

I do not want to go into details about each story because that usually means that I have to choose a favorite and they are all my favorites. We see how decisions influence our lives and even change them. Through the stories we escape, for a while, at the sad and scary realities that we are facing yet we also see that we are all alike.

“Daddy” by Michael Montack— Our Fathers

Montlack, Michael. “Daddy”, NYQ, 2020.

Our Fathers

Amos Lassen

Michael Montlack’s  new collection of poems, “Daddy” is a tribute to the daddies in our lives and more specifically to his own daddies. I found myself redefining “daddy” as I read and the part of daddy I have played for others in my life. Many people in our lives are daddies to us in one way or another. We see those various father figures through poems that are political, personal, humorous, sexy and even silly. Montlack’s “daddies” include a “dramatic twin sister, mysterious birth mother, aloof ex-boyfriend, even Stevie Nicks and Medusa”.

We have all begun to see gender, these days, as a social construct and with Montlack, we see that daddies do not have to be male. To understand those who were his daddies, Montlack examines his own family and himself as a gay male and as an adopted child. He also looks at himself as a daddy, “Hey, Daddy, can I buy you a beer?”

The poet has said that what he knows of masculinity, he learned from his mother. The poet also includes his chosen family— members from all walks of life including Stevie Nicks and Fire Island’s “Cherry Grove Carla”. We are taken to nightclubs and to rural Vermont to the places that are important to his becoming who he is as well as the places of the imagination. We, likewise, see the larger picture of life and thoughts on morality.  There are profound thoughts here.

I love the tour of gay life that we take with all of its joys and sorrows, the friendships and the loss of friends. We arrive at self-acceptance after quite a journey and to self-realization expressed in gorgeous lines of poetry. Above all else, what is here is humanity, the sense of belong to something bigger than all of us. Just as Montlack defines and redefines himself, we do the same as his lines lead us to introspect. Reality through humor and irony bring us to better understand ourselves and to recognize the daddies of the world. By bringing desire and identity, family and how we live we see the truth of who we are.

“It’s all packaging. Sugary

Glaze on a stale donut. Like

selecting the perfect outfit

to wear to an orgy— no,

 simply deliver me

the way I came in.

I have always found that poetry gives me the impetus to think about what I have rarely, if ever, thought about before. That is certainly the case here and I shall be thinking for quite a long time.

‘The Dorians TV Toast 2020 on Revry— Hosted by Talk Radio Icon Karel from his Virtual Pub, Streams Globally September 13th

The Dorians TV Toast 2020 on Revry

Hosted by Talk Radio Icon Karel from his Virtual Pub, Streams Globally September 13th

September 8, 2020 (Hollywood, CA) – Hugh Jackman, Janelle MonáeRegina KingPose sensation and fashion trailblazer Billy Porter, groundbreaking trans actress Laverne CoxSchitt’s Creek star Dan Levy and vaunted political satirist John Oliver are among the slew of actors, comics and performers lending cheer to GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics’ inaugural Dorians TV Toast 2020 on Revryairing Sunday, September 13th on the first LGBTQ+ global streaming network Revry.

In the two-hour star-studded virtual event, hosted by famously opinionated entertainer and talk show host Karel, fans will find out which stars and TV shows the LGBTQ+ organization’s 270 members deemed the best, most visually stunning and even campiest of the past TV season. In addition to raising a glass to the honorees—many of whom delight in virtual acceptance videos—GALECA members discuss the nominees’ merits and even controversies (Randy Rainbow and Tiger King don’t get off lightly).

 

Going into Revry’s September 13th special, star and co-creator Dan Levy’s riches-to-rags comedy Schitt’s Creek leads the pack with seven nominations, while Hollywood whiz Ryan Murphy’s ambitious, star-studded reimagining of Tinseltown’s early days sashays down the red carpet with six nods. The fact-based TV movie Bad Education and daring miniseries Watchmen each have four Dorian nominations, with the HBO titles’ respective stars, Jackman and King, earning best performance nominations. Singer and actress Monáe, now seen in the centuries-spanning horror film Antebellum, and Porter share a nomination for TV Musical Performance of the Year for their vibrant opening number in this year’s Academy Awards telecast. The full list of contenders, across 14 categories, can be found at DoriansToast.com.

Helping present the TV Dorians: Drag icon Shangela (star of HBO’s We’re Here), What We Do in the Shadows’ vampire-slayer Harvey GuillénDailyMailTV and Gay Good News host and groundbreaking cable news anchor Thomas Roberts; actor and music artist Alex Newell (Glee and NBC’s Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist)RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars champion Chad Michaels; multi-hyphenate Josh Thomas of the hit Freeform sitcom, Everything’s Gonna Be Okay; actress-comedian Margaret Cho; veteran talk radio host and Sexy Liberal podcast network founder Stephanie Miller; legendary saxophonist Dave Koz; acclaimed actress and jazz singer Lea DeLaria (Orange is the New Black); rising stars Rafael Casal and Kate Rose Wilburn; and iconic comic Bruce Vilanch. Revry personalities Shira Lazar and Andy Lalwani, of the news and pop culture series What’s Trending, will also be on deck offering insightful commentary.

 

“It’s really incredible how the industry has so positively responded to our show,” said outspoken host and producer, Karel (otherwise known as Charles Karel Bouley). “While COVID has definitely created challenges, it’s also strangely brought us together in a global way: We’ve got Alex Newell in Canada, Laverne Cox in New York, Lea DeLaria in LA, Margaret Cho in her back yard and even a surprise from Ireland! A pub is a place that brings people together, and we think Oscar Wilde would approve of our virtual Plan B.”

 

“Revry is honored to host the exclusive premiere of the star-studded Dorians TV Toast 2020 on Revry and to stream the show worldwide on our queer network,” said Christopher J. Rodriguez, Esq., Revry co-founder and CBO. “We believe that representation saves lives and while our network focuses on uplifting LGBTQ+ entertainment within queer culture, GALECA has been essential in pushing the broader entertainment industry towards increased representation of LGBTQ+ people in mainstream media. This partnership creates the perfect bridge between these two worlds and allows GALECA and Revry to honor our allies in the industry on a network made by and for our community.”

 

The Society’s Dorian Awards, which in the past have gone to both film and television titles combined, announced the nominees for its first separate Dorian TV Awards on June 30. The Dorians are awarded to both general and LGBTQ content, reminding bigots, bullies and at-risk youth that the world looks to the Q eye for leads on great entertainment.

 

“With September being Suicide Prevention Month and next month being LGBTQ History Month, this is a lovely and loving time to celebrate not just great television, but also how ‘rainbow’ journalists have boosted Hollywood from day one,” said John Griffiths, GALECA.org’s Executive Director and Founder. “Be they black, Latinx, indigenous, white, bi, trans, nonbinary or several of the above, queer entertainment critics and reporters have a distinct perspective born of their culture and oppression that has shaped all of the arts for the better. People should know that—and they will thanks to Revry.”

 

GALECA members offering their opinions in what host Karel calls his “virtual pub” include Tre’vell Anderson (Cohost, Maximum Fun’s FANTI podcast), Kevin Fallon (Senior Writer, The Daily Beast), Eric Andersson (Senior Writer, TV Guide Magazine), Tracy E. Gilchrist (Co-Editor in Chief, The Advocate), Liz Shannon Miller (Senior TV Editor, Collider), Dino-Ray Ramos (Associate Editor, Deadline), Erik Anderson (Editor in Chief of Awards Watch), Jose Bastidas (Assistant Entertainment Editor, The San Francisco Chronicle), Tariq Raouf (Entertainment Queerlypodcast), as well as freelance journalists Ren Jender, Manuel Betancourt, Topher Gauk-Roger and Griffiths (former longtime TV critic for Us Weekly).

 

Chiming in as well with lively comments are former CNN Headline News show host Jane Velez-Mitchell, legendary showbiz columnist Michael Musto and Revry co-founder Wadooah Wali, all GALECA Advisory Board members. The Emmy-winning Velez-Mitchell, now a crusader for animal rights, veganism and the environment via her #JaneUnchained initiative, is one of five media experts to recently join the Society’s list of advisors. The others are Shane Michael Singh, former executive editor of Playboy turned brand partnerships and development manager at the LGBTQ youth charity The Trevor Project; groundbreaking black film critic and former VH1 talk show host Bobby Rivers; Nick McCarthy, director of programming for the NewFest LGBTQ film festival; and Gil Robertson, co-founder and president of the African American Film Critics Association.

 

The show is produced and created by Karel.Media, whose creative team includes Brandon Riley Miiller (High the Series, Life In Segments) and talent liaison Makiko Ushiyama, with awards design by Karel and Jason Young of Pearl Image. The special includes an original theme tune: The cozy and festive “Toast,” with music by Morgan Mallory and lyrics by Karel. Viewers can also hear what Karel calls a “power-pub” version of the song, “Toast 2,” performed by Las Vegas-based Irish band The Black Donnellys, featuring a new melody and an added stanza by Donnelly’s frontperson Dave Rooney.

 

And the Dorians special will include a special message from siblings Rosanna and David Arquette in support of the Alexis Arquette Family Foundation and its missions to offer care and support of the LGBTQ+ community and reflect its namesake’s belief that the arts can transform lives.

 

The show will air Sunday, Sept. 13 at 8pm EST, 5pm PST for free on Revry, the LGBTQ+ streaming network, available globally at watch.revry.tv. For more information about the Society and its Dorians Toast, visit GALECA.org and DoriansToast.com. For Commercial Promos and Photo Assets click HERE.

 

Celebrities set to appear:

 

Hugh Jackman

Regina King

Rafael Casal

Margaret Cho

Laverne Cox

Lea DeLaria

Harvey Guillén

Dave Koz

Dan Levy

Damon Lindelof

Chad Michaels

Stephanie Miller

Annie Murphy

Michael Musto

Alex Newell

John Oliver

Janell Monáe

Billy Porter

Shangela

Thomas Roberts

Fiona Shaw

Josh Thomas

Jane Velez-Mitchell

Bruce Vilanch

Kate Rose Wilburn

 

About GALECA

GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics’ Dorian Awards, a nonprofit professional organization, was founded in 2009. Today, GALECA consists of 270 active critics and journalists who write on entertainment for major and distinctly unique media outlets in the U.S., Canada, Australia and the U.K. Visit GALECA.org for more info, and support us @DorianAwards on Twitter and Facebook and @Dorian_Awards on Instagram. 

 

GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics is a member of CGEM: Critics Groups for Equality in Media, an alliance of underrepresented entertainment journalists and Time’s Up’s CRITICAL database. For more information, visit CGEMCritics.org

 

About Revry

Watch Queer TV 24/7 with the first LGBTQ+ virtual cable TV network. Revry offers free live TV channels and on-demand viewing of its global library featuring LGBTQ+ movies, shows, music, podcasts, news, and exclusive originals all in one place! Revry is currently available globally in over 250+ million households and devices and on seven OTT, mobile, and Desktop platforms. Revry can also be viewed on nine live and on-demand channels and Connected TVs including: The Roku Channel, Samsung TV Plus, Comcast Xfinity X1, Dell, XUMO TV, Zapping TV, STIRR, TiVo+, and as the first LGBTQ+ virtual reality channel on Littlstar (available on PlayStation devices). The company–an inaugural member of the Goldman Sachs Black and LatinX Cohort–is headquartered in Los Angeles and led by a diverse founding team who bring decades of experience in the fields of tech, digital media, and LGBTQ+ advocacy.  Follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @revrytv. Revry.tv

 

 

“After Elias” by Eddy Boudel Tan— A Pilot’s Last Words

Tan, Eddy Boudel. “After Elias”, Dundurn, 2020.

A Pilot’s Last Words

Amos Lassen

Eddy Boudel Tan’s “After Elias” is amodern queer tragedy about a pilot’s last words, an interrupted celebration, and the fear of losing everything.

When the airplane piloted by Elias Santos crashes a week before their wedding day, Coen Caraway loses the man he loves and the illusion of happiness he has worked so hard to find. Elias only leaves behind a recording of his final words, and Coen is stymied by the cryptic message. Coen is filledwith grief and seeks solace on the Mexican island that was meant to host their wedding. As parts of the past come to the surface, Coen is forced to question everything he thought he knew about Elias and their life together. He learns the truth about Elias and about himself. This is a story of doubt, regret, and the fear of losing everything

Coen tries to cope with grief in his own way but then devastating truths began to surface . There are many heartbreaking moments, often balanced with humor, and  there are some interesting twists along the way. While this is a book about death, it is also about hope.  

The events that follow the crash reinforce (the suspicion cast on Elias after a mysterious message is revealed, Coen’s determination to proceed with the wedding as a celebration of life despite everyone’s apprehensions. There were memories that allude to a darker truth and the story moved forward in ways that were shocking, exciting, and impossible to predict. The writing is gorgeous and the characters are well drawn and show depth.

We find ourselves falling in love with some characters, and then fall out of love, then fall back into a complicated sort of love with them. This is a story of healing and realizing that all our loved ones are far more complicated than we would like to think. The narration shifts between past and present and we see why Coen fell in love with Elias even as his reputation falls apart in the present and doubt creeps into Coen’s thoughts. 

I must admit that I started questioned whether Elias was ever even a good person to begin with. But I realized that it is hard to ever know anyone fully and when we see that everyone has flaws. Coen’s learns that healing requires us to face pain. 

“The End of the Day” by Bill Clegg— Friendship

Clegg, Bill. “The End of the Day”, Gallery/Scout Press, 2020.

Friendship

Amos Lassen

Bill Clegg’s “The End of the Day” is a look at “the complicated bonds and breaking points of friendship, the corrosive forces of secrets, the heartbeat of longing, and the redemption found in forgiveness.”

A retired widow in rural Connecticut gets an unexpected visit from her childhood best friend that she has not seen in forty-nine years. A man comes to a Pennsylvania hotel to introduce his estranged father to his newborn daughter and finds him collapsed on the floor of the lobby. A sixty-seven-year-old taxi driver in Kauai gets a phone call from the mainland that takes her back to a traumatic past. While these people may seem to be disconnected, their lives come together as old secrets start to come to the fore. We are reminded of how various choices–to connect, to betray, to protect–become our legacy. On one day, we get sixty years of history.

This is a novel that crosses boundaries of age, class and gender through portraits of the characters and the dynamics of class that inform their lives while asking important questions: those of fate, responsibilities and passions and how they change the course of our lives. The novel’s shattering resonance emerges from its masterful construction. The long-buried secrets that are uncovered show that “the facts of a life do not always add up to the truth.” This is a novel of reckoning and dealing with life. We look at the past and how it return to us.  As we meet the characters and hear their stories, we cannot help but wonder if there is a connection between them. We go fromcharacter to character, back and forth in time looking for answers. Life is not straight and narrow, there are curves along the road Our decisions change our actions and we are influenced by our friends and our own secrets.

We are takeninto the minds of the characters and feel their pain read their thoughts and share their memories. It’s pretty remarkable. The characters propel the novel and we become interested in them and in their hopes, forgiveness, friends, and family. We see how people’s lives connect and disconnect as we connect with them.

“To Be a Gay Man” by Will Young— An End to Gay Shame

Young, Will. “To Be a Gay Man”, Ebury Press, 2020.

An End to Gay Shame

Amos Lassen

Will Young is a million-selling pop star and co-host of influential podcast “Homo Sapiens”. In “To Be a Gay Man”, he calls for an end to society’s legacy of gay shame, revealing the impact that it had on his own life, how he learned to deal with it and how he can now truthfully say he is gay and happy. Young’s story began long before his first audition. He recalls a world where growing up being called gay was the ultimate insult and coming out after spending part of his life hiding his sexuality. Young explores the long-lasting impact repressing his true self has had. He shows that internalized shame in childhood increases the risk of developing low self-esteem and even self-disgust that lead to destructive behaviors in adult life. In revisiting the darkest extremes he has been to, and by sharing his vulnerabilities and regrets, he shares his own navigation and shows the way for others who might have felt alone in the same experience. He breaks taboos with honesty and offers  practical advice on how to overcomeg the difficult issues that are faced within the LGBTQ+ community

Today Will Young is 41 and it is his hope that by sharing his life will help and inspire other young, queer people to come out and live a life free of shame.

“Wagnerism: Art and Politics in the Shadow of Music” by Alex Ross— The Influence of Richard Wagner

Ross, Alex. “Wagnerism: Art and Politics in the Shadow of Music”, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2020.

The Influence of Richard Wagner

Amos Lassen

Alex Ross reveals how Richard Wagner became the proving ground for modern art and politics in “an aesthetic war zone where the Western world wrestled with its capacity for beauty and violence.” Wagner is one of the most widely influential people in the history of music. In about 1900, Wagnerism became part of European and American culture. His compositions “The Ring of the Nibelung”, “Tristan und Isolde”, and “Parsifal” were regarded as models of “formal daring, mythmaking, erotic freedom, and mystical speculation.” He impacted such luminaries as Virginia Woolf, Thomas Mann, Paul Cezanne, Isadora Duncan, and Luis Bunuel,. He was seen as a kindred spirit by anarchists, occultists, feminists, and gay-rights pioneers. Adolf Hitler incorporated Wagner into the soundtrack of Nazi Germany, and Wagner was defined by his strong antisemitism. Many today see him as synonymous with artistic evil. 

In “Wagnerism”, Ross explains the confusion of what it means to be a Wagnerian. We see the battle raged over his legacy and Ross extends this over a variety of artistic disciplines including the architecture of Louis Sullivan, the novels of Philip K. Dick, the Zionist writings of Theodor Herzl, the civil-rights essays of W.E.B. Du Bois and contemporary literature.

Unfortunately this is not a happy story because Wagner became defined by an ideology of hate. Nonetheless, he is felt throughout the music and culture of the twenty-first century culture with his themes seen in superhero films and fantasy fiction. The research is amazing as are what we learn from literature, philosophy, the visual arts, musicology and cinema.

“Dying with Ease: A Compassionate Guide for Making Wiser End-of-Life Decisions” by Dr. Jeff Spiess— Death as a Fact of Life

Spiess, Dr. Jeff. “Dying with Ease: A Compassionate Guide for Making Wiser End-of-Life Decisions”,  Rowman & Littlefield, 2020.

Death As a Fact of Life

Amos Lassen

Death is one of the topics that we tend to shy away from even though we are well aware that we are all going to die. We just do not want to believe it. Instead of looking at our options and considering the possibilities that can impact our final days, we ignore the idea  of death because we are afraid of it. This increases the pain and grief we experience at the end of life, and also impacts the suffering of those we leave behind.

Dr. Jeff Spiess has cared for the dying for some thirty years and he explains here that if we face the ideas of death and our mortality, we will make wiser decisions and thereby live our lives more fully and with less stress. He usescultural and religious references and poignant narratives to inform, inspire, and challenge “our cognitive and emotional understandings of our own lives and deaths.”

Spiess gives us practical ideas and information about planning ahead, hospice and palliative care and ethical and legal issues that are part of death in this country.

Heanswers such questions such as how to plan for the last part of life, the options against unbearable suffering, what religion and spiritual philosophy say about dying and what it feels like to die. Because of Covid-19, we have all become more aware of death and the fact that we could be gone tomorrow. We are all afraid and now the great unknown seems closer than ever. If we can push those fears aside, we will be able to make smarter decisions and see that fearing death can be dealt with.

COVID-19 has made many of us more aware of our own mortality. By putting the fear of our final days to rest, we can make wiser and more authentic decisions throughout the rest of our lives—however long they may be. Death may be inevitable, but fearing the end-of-life is avoidable.

Spiess finds additional insights in depictions of dying in literature, including sacred texts, music, and popular culture. He gives us information and inspiration and we are challenged to deal with our lives and our deaths.

“Three Rings: A Tale of Exile, Narrative, and Fate” by Daniel Mendelsohn— The Randomness of Lives

Mendelsohn, Daniel. “Three Rings: A Tale of Exile, Narrative, and Fate”,  University of Virginia Press, 2020.

The Randomness of Lives

Amos Lassen

In “Three Rings”, Daniel Mendelsohn explores the mysterious links between the randomness of the lives we lead and the artfulness of the stories we tell. He brings together memoir, biography, history, and literary criticism together through the stories of three exiled writers who turned to the classics of the past to create their own masterpieces that look at the nature of narrative itself— Erich Auerbach, the Jewish philologist who fled Hitler’s Germany and wrote his classic study of Western literature, “Mimesis”in Istanbul,  François Fénelon, the seventeenth-century French archbishop whose sequel to the “Odyssey”, “The Adventures of Telemachusis a veiled critique of the Sun King and the German novelist W. G. Sebald, self-exiled to England, whose narratives explore Odyssean themes of displacement, nostalgia, and separation from home.

Mixed into these tales of exile and artistic crisis is an account of Mendelsohn’s struggles to write two of his own books–a family saga of the Holocaust and a memoir about reading the Odyssey with his father. Both are tales of oppression and wandering. As we read we get a revelation about the way in which the lives of its three heroes were linked across borders, languages, and centuries and we reconsider the relationship between narrative and history, art and life.

This is a book about telling stories that provokes thought with its originality.

“NEW QUEER VISIONS: RIGHT BESIDE YOU”— Five Short Films

“NEW QUEER VISIONS: RIGHT BESIDE YOU”

Five Short Films

Amos Lassen

No one really likes to be alone— we all want to know that we have someone with whom to share good and bad times whether it be a best friend, a pen pal or a lover. Companionship is something we all want and need as we see in the new collection by New Queer Visions: Right Beside You”.

“ALL MY MOTHER’S LOVERS” (“Los Novios de mi Madre”) comes to us from Mexican director Samuel Montes de Oca León who in twenty-two minutes introduces us to Luisa, a mother who brings her dates home. This bother her son, Cesar. Then when Cesar invites his best friend Pablo over for a sleepover, Luisa flirts with him breaking the heart of her son and the way he, himself feels about Pablo. become too much to bear, especially as Cesar has his own feelings towards Pablo

“BOOTYFUL” from France and director  François Barbier is about Estelle who is hoping for her typical Saturday night of dancing and fun. Then she meets Sacha who changes everything. This is a story of opposites in come together.

​“ONLY WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT ME” (“Apenas o que você precisa saber sobre mim”) is a Brazilian short directed by Maria Augusta V. Nunes and is the story of teens Laura and Fabio who meet at a skate park and who become more than just friends. Then Laura disappears and Fabio tracks her down to uncover the reason why.

From the United Kingdom, director Joe Morris brings us his short, “JUNK”, the story of Tat whose is caughtbetween a dysfunctional family and living on the streets, He tries to hold on to Jack, the only companion he has left. Tat and Jack are two boys caught on the fringes of society.

Claire Zhou’s “HIGH TIDE” (“Stille Dorst”) comes from the Netherlands. Tarik, a 32 year old Moroccan man, spends his time alone in a holiday cottage in the forest trying to live with himself after his divorce from his wife. Jonas, the owner of the cottage comes over to make some repairs and  Tarik has to face the feelings he has been suppressing his entire life.