I don’t think that I’ve looked so forward to the weekend as I am to this weekend. With the deadly tornadoes and severe thunderstorms Monday that caused tens of thousands of Quad Citians to lose power (ours was out 44 hours Monday through Wednesday), I’m ready to just chill some.
We’re going out to dinner with four of our friends Friday night in Port Byron, Illinois, and then Saturday, there’s a work picnic. On Sunday, we’re planning on a movie double feature. And, I still didn’t get my pancakes last weekend, so that may be this weekend!
“UNDER THE DOME” WINS MONDAY NIGHT, BUT…
While “Under The Dome” was the most watched show Monday night (13.1 million viewers), I didn’t get a chance to watch it with the power outage. However, you can find the full episode on cbs.com or on television. CBS will re-air Monday night’s premiere episode this Sunday night (June 30) at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. Central. I wish that I was watching the season eight premiere of “Dexter” Sunday night, but we don’t have Showtime. So, I’ll avoid the spoilers and wait for the DVD. 😦
Now, here are my random thoughts this Friday.
GOOD RIDDANCE DOMA
The Supreme Court of the United States made a landmark ruling Wednesday calling DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act, unconstitutional. For those of you that may not be very familiar with it, DOMA is a 1996 federal law that would only recognize marriage between a man and a woman.
That may sound simple to some, but it also denied federal benefits, including insurance benefits for government employees, Social Security survivors’ benefits, immigration, and the filing of joint tax returns for married same-sex couples. So, while a gay couple could be married in one of twelve states or the District of Columbia, it would not be recognized by the federal government.
Thank you Justices Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elana Kagan for your votes to strike down DOMA, 5-4.
And, Justices John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, Clarence “Anita Hill” Thomas, and Samuel Alito, I hope you evolve. President Obama did it and America is doing it. I think it’s time that you do, too!
In the majority opinion, Justice Kennedy wrote, “Under DOMA, same-sex married couples have their lives burdened, by reason of government decree, in visible and public ways. DOMA’s principal effect is to identify a subset of state-sanctioned marriages and make them unequal.”
SIMPLY PUT, WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR RELIGION?
Nothing! You can still pray to God each night and attend church when it’s open. While you may get married in a church, the official document is issued by the government, not the church. It’s that document from the government that makes marriages legal and it’s also that government that’s based on the notion that “all men are created equal”. After Wednesday, I feel more equal and less like a second-rate citizen.
What does this mean to your marriage if you’re in an opposite-sex “traditional” marriage? Nothing at all — because you should be spending your time making each other happy and worrying less if two men or two women can now share the same government benefits as you and love each other in a committed marriage bond, too.
Let God judge. Amen!
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
PAULA, STOP TALKING AND BE WITH YOUR FAMILY!
Food Network star Paula Deen is all over the television these days. She’s the talk of radio, her face is all over the magazines, and blogger are feasting on a buffet talking about her. There are many things being said about her — some say give her a break because she hasn’t said anything you probably haven’t said and some say she’s a racist.
Paula’s whirlwind downfall started recently after she was called to testify last month in a 2012 $1.2 million sexual and racial workplace discrimination lawsuit brought against her and her brother Earl “Bubba” Hiers by former restaurant manager Lisa Jackson.
Jackson, who is white, claims that Deen said this when asked about a theme for a wedding, “Well what I would really like is a bunch of little n—–s to wear long-sleeve white shirts, black shorts and black bow ties, you know in the Shirley Temple days, they used to tap dance around. Jackson says that Deen laughed and said, “Now that would be a true southern wedding, wouldn’t it? But we can’t do that because the media would be on me about that.”
In that deposition last month, Deen admitted to using the “n-word” in the past. However, she maintains that she hasn’t used it in years and when she did, it was because a black man held a gun to her head at her former place of employment. Earlier this week on “Today”, Matt Lauer asked Deen , “Are you a racist?” and the 66-year-old grandmother responded, “No, I am not.” and “The day I used that word it was a world ago. It was 30 years ago.”
This week, Deen was fired from the Food Network and she lost sponsorships with Wal-Mart, Smithfield Foods, Home Depot, and Target. QVC is still deciding on Deen’s fate.
Domestic Diva Martha Stewart says, “”I feel sorry for Paula Deen. She’s a public figure and I know you have to be extremely careful being a public figure.” And, civil rights activist Reverend Al Sharpton adds, “A lot of us have in the past said things we have regretted saying years ago” and “You cannot deal with what is fair or not fair until we see an outcome of the present circumstances she is accused of, not something that happened 20 years ago.”
So, with that being said, I want to know what you think. Here’s what I think.
IF (and notice that’s a big IF) Paula made that joke about the wedding idea in any era, then or now, it’s not funny. It’s stupid. If Paula responded with the n-word after a man held a gun to her head as she stated, while not still acceptable, it’s more likely a case of forgiveness given the circumstances.
I grew up in the 1960s and 1970s South and that awful word was a commonly used word. Sadly, my late father, was one of the most racist, homophobic, sexist, and the list goes on, man I think I’ve ever met. And, even my late grandmother, who was one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met, uttered that word in my childhood, but she wasn’t using it to be ugly. As I grew from a child to a teenager, I educated her that although people use that word, it’s not right.
And, as Paula stated in the interview with Lauer, that word is used too freely in today’s society in movies and music. I agree and that has to stop, too. I don’t care if you are an African-American or you identify as a black man or woman, that word has to stop in all circles. While I’m a gay man, I don’t refer to myself as the derogatory “f-word” and I’d be truly offended if someone else did.
In this country, you’re supposed to be “innocent until proven guilty”. How do we know that Lisa Jackson is telling the truth? I’d really be saddened to know that Paula Deen was not a racist and these allegations ruined her life and career.
My only advice to Paula is stay off television, avoid interviews, and stop posting internet apologies. I know you’re hurt and scared, but the tears and the pleas make you seem too apologetic. As you’ve stated, people who know you know the truth — whatever that truth is.
The bottom line is that if Paula Deen is a racist and she freely used the n-word as Jackson claims, more people would be coming out of the woodwork to make other allegations. They haven’t!
And, I have to say that I commend Paula for the heartfelt and seemingly genuine comments in the interview, “I believe every creature on this Earth … was created equal, no matter who you choose to go to bed at night with [and] no matter what church you go to pray.” And, “There’s a couple of kinds of people that I don’t like that I am prejudiced against, Matt, and that’s thieves and liars.”
Lisa Jackson, if you’re a liar, I hope you get yours.
THE SAD LIFE OF A PIG (AND OTHER FARM ANIMALS)
Oh, how I wish that every pig was like Hollywood’s “Babe”.
This past Tuesday, I took part in the “Celebrity Showmanship” contest at the Rock Island County Fair. In less than an hour, I had to learn as much as I could about pigs and about showing one from my 4-H member, Grace. I aced my quiz from the judges and answered all of my questions correctly.
However, when it came time to show my pig, I learned that “my” pig has been competing all day in the summer heat and it was exhausted. The judge told me “if he lays down, just let him”. Well, the poor creature did and I think it cost me a ranking in the Top Seven! I did get a special “honorable mention” for my knowledge of pig farming, so I’m telling myself that I came in 8th place out of 15 people. I also won $50 for my charity, the Quad City Animal Welfare Center in Milan, Illinois.
As you look at this picture, you’ll see that the pig was exhausted. But, once he was sprayed with water and cooled off, after the competition, he walked away happily to his barn to sleep.
(Photo courtesy: Thomas Geyer of the Quad City Times.)
The whole learning process made me think even more about the lives of pigs and cows. While I don’t condemn people for eating steak or hamburger, I haven’t eaten either in a very long time and I will not. As for pork, I’ve been on the fence the past few months. After Tuesday and learning that the pigs “go to market” in about five to six months, I decided that pork is another meat that I’ll have to decline eating in the future. What a short little life for the creatures!
Again, I don’t condemn others for eating beef or pork, but I’ll have to stick to chicken, turkey, and seafood for now. I don’t have the same guilt toward them –yet.
BIG SCREEN SPECTACLE
I love “The Walking Dead” and I love George Romero’s “Night of The Living Dead” and all of its sequels and remakes.
When Brad Pitt announced that he would be starring in “World War Z”, a zombie epic, I got excited. Then when I saw the trailer for the first time, it looks intriguing, but I got a little concerned about the trailer not showing much of the zombies. And, then the stories about the problematic shoot started surfacing: it was going way over budget and the entire third act went through a reshoot.
The movie opened last weekend to $66.4 million in U.S. ticket sales alone, which is the biggest open for a Brad Pitt movie.
“World War Z” wasted no time getting right into the action. Pitt plays Gerry Lane, who used to work for the United Nations. He gave it up to be a stay at home dad to two girls. As the family is heading out-of-town (Philadelphia), they encounter an unprecedented traffic jam that turns into chaos with planes flying overhead and then it happens — the undead come alive and start attacking the living. City after city across the world fall to the zombies.
After spending the night holed up hiding out with a family, they make it out just in time to be taken to a fleet of ships out in the ocean off New York City safely away from living hell on land. There’s only one catch. They want Lane to go back to work for the U.N. to try to find what started this epidemic that has killed millions and if he agrees, his wife and two children can stay on the vessel.
Lane agrees and heads off to South Korea where he’s told by a hot-shot young doctor from Harvard that “Mother Nature is a serial killer” and that she leaves little clues to get caught. While there, Lane and most of his crew barely escape, but he learns that the zombies are attracted by noise.
From there, he’s off to Jerusalem, where he finds out how the Israelis learned about the zombies and how they’ve managed to keep the zombies and the plague from wiping them out.
The scene turns deadly as the zombies attack and Lane once again barely escapes to Wales on the most exciting and slightly unrealistic airplane ride ever!
As the massive real-world destruction continues, Lane figures out a couple of more things that might stop the deadly zombie apocalypse. Let me just say that I’m glad that the trailer did not feature the zombies prominently. They were amazing, but not your typical zombies.
If you want a thrilling psychological drama, a “Contagion” with action, this is the movie. It accomplishes the excitement and fear without the blood and gore of “The Walking Dead”. Don’t get me wrong, I love the gory AMC series, but it was fun to see this thriller dominated by the shock of fear and not guts!
GRADE: A+ (And, I rarely give a movie an A+!)
WEEKEND DOUBLE FEATURE
In last week’s “Random Friday Thoughts”, I mentioned that we might go see a double feature at the movie. We only got in “World War Z”. So, this weekend, it’s going to be “This Is The End” (you can see the trailer in last week’s blog), and the new Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx action thriller, “White House Down”.
For all you women and men (openly gay, closeted, or just secretly jealous), I think we need to get crazy like Precious and Miley Cyrus and check out and sing along to the humorous “(I Wanna) Channing All Over Your Tatum”. Thanks, Jimmy Kimmel.
TOO EARLY TO THINK ABOUT MY BIRTHDAY?
While my birthday is still more than three months away, I don’t think it’s too early to think about it. I mean, last year, we bought tickets to see Madonna in Las Vegas in February for my birthday, October 13th, which was still eight months away.
This year, I think I’ll hint to Ray that I want to see the Pet Shop Boys in Chicago in late September. While the 1980s new wave duo of Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe may be absent from American radio, they’ve been recording new music for the past thirty years and their new album, “Electric” comes out in mid-July and the single, “Axis” is fantastic!!!!! Check it out
PEEPS’ ’80s FRIDAY FLASHBACK
It’s very interesting how the music scene works on each side of the Atlantic. Since exploding on to the music scene in the mid-1980 with their #1 international hit, “West End Girls”, the Pet Shop Boys have only scored five more hits on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States.
Four of the other five hits made the top ten: “Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots of Money) (#10, 1986), “It’s A Sin” (#9, 1987), “What Have I Done To Deserve This” with Dusty Springfield (#2, 1987), and “Always on My Mind” (#4, 1987). They also reached #18 with “Domino Dancing”. Since then, the duo has scored many Billboard Dance hit.
However, in England, the Pet Shop Boys have scored 42 Top 40 hits with 22 of those reaching the Top Ten and 4 reached #1.
Here’s the song that kicked it all off around the world, “West End Girls”.
CELEBRITY REACTION TO THE DEATH OF “DOMA”
BY THE WAY, WHO IS JACK MACKENROTH?
His tweet about DOMA was funny, so who is he? Well, he’s a 44-year-old American swimmer (winning medals in the Gay Games), model, and was a contestant on the fourth season of the reality show, “Project Runway”.
Mackenroth is also a HIV/AIDS activist. He was diagnosed as HIV-positive in August 1990 and has lived openly about his status to combat the stigma of having HIV.
He says, “I am most proud of the fact that I was open about my positive HIV status on the show and exemplified that a person can manage HIV and live a successful life. Every time a person with HIV is open about his or her status it helps everyone who is living with the disease…. I am a living testament to what you can accomplish by letting go of shame and being your own advocate.”
AND, WE OWE IT ALL TO EDIE
And, as I conclude my blog this week, I dedicate it to Edie and to the memory of Thea.
Thea Clara Spyer and Edith “Edie” Windsor were together for 40 years when they got married in Canada in 2007. It was two years later that New York state began recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other states.. And, it was also the year that Thea Spyer died.
After Thea’s death, Edie, now 84, was required to pay more than $363,000 in federal estate taxes on her inheritance of her wife’s estate. However, if Thea had been a man and the two were married, or if DOMA was not a federal law, Windsor would have qualified for an unlimited spousal deduction, and paid no federal estate taxes.
Edie got the ball rolling toward the Supreme Court in the summer of 2012 and now the rest is history.
After the ruling, Edie replied, “One of the things I felt did not have to do with the money but had to do with…with my country is not giving dignity to this beautiful person I lived with. And today, my country gave dignity and appreciated who she was.”
Edie, I’m so proud of you and the fight you fought for your wife and your rights. Thank you for all you’ve done for every one us that will now benefit from your determination.
Now, we have 38 more states to win over for every American to have the same rights. The fight is far from over.
HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND
Thank you for checking out my random thoughts. Let me know what you think about any or all of it and have a great weekend!