Tuesday, February 24, 2009
It’s not every night that you get to see Wonder Woman, a Golden Girl, and Barbarella on the same stage—but then, Monday’s Defying Inequality benefit concert was no ordinary night. Next secured me a pair of press tickets to the event raising money for marriage equality organizations. The star-studded lineup included the radiant Lynda Carter, Rue McClanahan (who spoke of her own right to marry—and remarry!—as she pleased), and Jane Fonda. The latter announced that the creators of Wicked (the event was held at the show’s home, the Gershwin Theater) had jointly contributed an additional $250,000 to the cause. Though the show was overlong and had some slow bits (the men of The Little Mermaid massacring “Part of Your World” was a low point), it offered plenty of great entertainment. A sing-along by cast members from Sesame Street made us all feel like kids again, and we were also treated to memorable performances by Ugly Betty’s adorable Mark Indelicato, comedian Mike Birbiglia, and the dancers from The Color Purple doing an exuberant take on the “Single Ladies” choreography. (Having three sassy male dancers lead that performance underscored the evening’s theme: let us put a ring on it, already!) Cyndi Lauper, alas, did not sing, but the Sicilian spitfire delivered an impassioned if meandering speech. She also got some of the night’s biggest laughs when she referenced Harvey Fierstien’s letter to the President and accidentally said “Harvey Weinstein.” Oops! As the crowd guffawed, Cyndi exclaimed, “That was last night! Damnit!”
But beyond the show’s undeniable entertainment value, it was a powerful reminder that we are in the midst of a true social revolution. After seeing and reading about Harvey Milk and the beginnings of the gay movement, I wished I could have participated in those historic events; but last night it hit me that there is an important battle for equality raging right *now,* and every one of us can participate. Again and again performers last night emphasized that the fight for civil equality is one we can and will win. We need only to keep fighting. I’m reminded of young Cleve Jones (Emile Hirsch) in the movie Milk: “I don’t do losing.” We should all be so stubborn and tenacious.
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
No more Gossip Girl for at least a month? Say it ain't so! Oh, well, at least this episode provided all sorts of shenanigans to (sort of) tide us over until GG returns from hiatus. The best part: they went to the Holiday House!!!! (Does little dance.) But before I get to that-- and before you ask, "What the hell is a Holiday House?"-- here's the plot. This episode was all about Blair and her vendetta against Miss Rachel Carr, the sweet lil teacher who didn't stand a chance when thrust into the shark-infested waters of Constance. In past episodes, Carr had ruffled Blair's feathers by giving her a dreaded B and potentially spoiling her straight-A streak for Yale. She'd also won the admiration of both Serena and Dan, with the latter probably more enamored with the teach then he'd like to admit. This hour kicks off with Blair "doing community service" for detention in Central Park (which of course means making poor Dorota do all the work), then demanding that her Mean Girls help her destroy Carr for the indignity. They're uninterested until the school announces a ban on cell phones, with Miss Carr leading the way. (Ruh-roh.) As the students suffer PDA withdrawal (I was reminded of Scully on The X Files: "Mulder, if you had to go an hour without your cell phone, you'd lapse into catatonic shock"), Blair gets Dorota to smuggle in cells for all the girls. (Patrick loved that her "disguise" still included her maid's head band.) She sets them to the task of digging up dirt on Carr, then stumbles across the perfect vicious rumor herself: Dan's close relationship with Rachel. Meanwhile, Chuck calls Nate and Vanessa out of their dull-as-dishwater relationship to help him look into what he thinks may've been "the greatest night of my life." He woke up hung over with memories of a masked ball and a night with a beautiful woman; an invitation he finds leads him to a swanky townhouse in midtown. The location used is the same tony interior featured in Sex and the City: The Movie, which also played host to a "Holiday House" showroom that both me and my friend (and fellow GG fan) Elon worked for last fall. It was a kick to see the distinctive and gorgeous space onscreen; one crucial moment was even set in "the Thanksgiving room," which was my favorite room in the house. Anyhoo, as for the actual *storyline*: Chuck finds a framed photo of the girl in question; he tracks down the house's owners and discovers that "Elle" is their nanny. She meets him at the house after hours, masked, with a ridiculously large candle in her hand, and thankfully Chuck makes a crack about this "Eyes Wide Shut mystery" so that we know they're not taking themselves too seriously. Elle mistakenly invited Chuck to the party using an old "client list" that included his dad-- holy Elliot Spitzer, Batman! But she emphasizes that the club is both extremely powerful and very dangerous; later the owners call Chuck to see if he's seen Elle, who's evidently disappeared. I'm not sure how I feel about this storyline: an evil gentleman's club sounds a little shark-jumpy, and didn't they already do a whole Skulls take-off last fall? I'm also confused as to what Vanessa has to do with anything; she receives an invite to the party and a mask, and shows it to Nate, though it's unclear if they're actually going to go or just stay in and have Bland Character Sex. ("Ooh, baby, you're so... underwritten!") Maybe if we're lucky this evil cult will do us all a favor and off Vanessa. Anyway, back to Blair vs. Carr. Blair's posting on Gossip Girl gets the whole school talking, but seemingly backfires when the headmistress expels Blair for spreading a dangerous lie. She manages to convince her Daddy Harold that the affair really happened, and he fights with the school board over the issue. (I love that the school board was made up of like, Rufus, Lily, Harold, and a couple random extras. Isn't Constance kind of a big school?) But Blair receives a secret weapon from Serena: a camera phone picture of Dan and Rachel hugging suggestively. (True, Rachel immediately pulls away and tells him it's a bad idea, but the fact that she's met with him at a restaurant after hours WHILE THERE'S A BIG ASS RUMOR GOING AROUND THAT THEY'RE SCHTUPPING demonstrates pretty poor judgement.) Blair instructs the headmistress to check her email-- conveniently wired to the projector-- and the provocative image shocks everyone. Favorite line of the night: Blair uses a fancy legal term, then quips, "I love Damages." But Papa Waldorf overhears her talking about how the whole thing started as a lie, and he's none too pleased. The next day he gives her a stern reprimand, and when she protests that "Yale was on the line," he responds, "I don't care what school you go to. I care about what kind of person you become." (Oh, Daddy. If you only *knew*...) He leaves with Handsome, the bulldog he gave Blair as a Yale present, adding to the sadness. Meanwhile, the scandal's taken a toll on perpetually star-crossed Serena and Dan, because, if I'm remembering this right, "there's always something." Or something. These guys always have the lamest excuses for breaking up. But maybe they should *stay* broken up this time. They've gotten kind of insipid. Besides, we all know Chuck and Blair are this show's true core couple. Serena's attempt at an apology to the fired Miss Carr is rebuffed; Dan, however, receives a warmer reception, as Rachel reminds him that she's not a teacher anymore. Cut to a montage of these two jail baiting lovebirds going at it to the strains of an incongruous rock song. "They're both poor. It's the music of the working class," my roommate Richard joked. Little do they know that the school is reconsidering its decision to fire Carr *at that very moment.* After all, Lily opines, there was no proof that Rachel engaged in indecent conduct with a student-- except for what's going down right now. But even more oblivious than Rachel and Dan is Serena, who's seen walking in the rain with quite possibly the world's largest umbrella leaving a message for Dan. She's sorry, and can they just forget the whole thing ever happened? Not likely! (Cue Ross Gellar: "We were on A BREAK!") Too bad we'll have to wait so long to find out what happens next. One final note: remember my rant about Blake Lively's freakish heigh? Yeah. Check the photo of her and Rachel above. Craaaazy.