Monday, January 23, 2006

Found in the paper

Found in the paper:

"Alito and Inclusion"
Noting this from the
Feminist Wire:

Judiciary Committee Votes Tomorrow on Alito; Filibuster Possible, Says Durbin
Tomorrow, two days after the 33rd anniversary of Roe v Wade, the Senate Judiciary Committee will vote on Samuel Alito, a Supreme Court nominee who in 1985 wrote that the Constitution does not protect a woman's right to an abortion. Women's rights leaders and activists rallied last night at the Supreme Court in support of the landmark Supreme Court ruling.
"Since we last gathered to commemorate Roe v. Wade, two seats have opened up on the Supreme Court, and George W. Bush has used both opportunities to nominate judges whose records show a disdain for privacy rights and individual liberties," said Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization for Women. "The Senate is poised to vote on confirming Samuel Alito, who would replace Sandra Day O'Connor, a justice whose vote has upheld women's rights for nearly 25 years. How quickly the fate of women's reproductive rights could turn in this nation."
Already, at least nine Senators have come out publicly and strongly against Alito's confirmation, including four who voted in favor of confirming John Roberts as chief justice. In an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times, Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL), the Democratic Whip, said that a filibuster was possible.
"A week ago, I would have told you it's not likely to happen," Durbin said. "As of [Wednesday], I just can't rule it out. I was surprised by the intensity of feeling of some of my colleagues. It's a matter of counting. We have 45 Democrats, counting [Vermont independent] Jim Jeffords, on our side. We could sustain a filibuster if 41 Senators ... are willing to stand and fight."
GET THE INSIDE SCOOP with The Smeal Report and the New Leif blogs at
TAKE ACTION Call your Senators and urge them to oppose Alito
DONATE Make an emergency contribution to the Feminist Majority’s Save Roe Campaign. We must be a strong voice in this crucial fight to save Roe and the Supreme Court for women’s rights.
Media Resources: Feminist Majority; NOW statement 1/22/06; Chicago Sun-Times 1/20/06

It's the last lap in the home stretch. We can pull it out, we can dig deep and grab onto those last bits of energy.
Now we just got done with a roundtable for the gina & krista round-robin and you can consider what follows to be the writing of Betty and Cedric. If there's something we feel differently on or want to make our own point on, we'll indicate it, but this is our joint entry.

Every Saturday when we get together to work with The Third Estate Sunday Review gang (the gang is Ava, Jess, Ty, Dona, Jim and C.I; we are Rebecca, Wally, Mike, Elaine, Kat, Betty and Cedric) there are any number of items that are proposed for a feature. Some ideas are shot down because they're too big to undertake (unless they can be repitched as something easier in scope) and some are shot down because there's not enough interest in them from enough people. On something like that, if it's not just an idea you had but something that is really important to you, you can state that and everyone's willing to include it. But each edition there are ideas that we never end up having time to get to.

Everyone usually tosses out interesting ideas even if they are too large in scope. One idea that came from C.I. this weekend was about an article in the New York Times. It was on a topic that we hit on a lot in roundtables there. Ty usually has something to say on the issue as well. We made a point not to invite Ty to help on this entry because we know he would have said "yes" or felt guilty. As you'll see in the round-robin tomorrow, Ty's got a major exam first thing in the morning.

We left Ty out of this trying to make sure he was able to focus on studying. Had we not known of the exam, we would have brought him on board. We are the three Black voices of the community in terms of doing sites.

The article C.I. brought to the table was Neela Banerjee's "Black Churches' Attitudes Toward Gay Parishioners Are Discussed at Conference" and it ran in Saturday's New York Times on page A10. We'll note that Betty is from the Atlanta area and she does know of Dr. Kenneth L. Samuel of the Victory Church.

The article addresses a meeting last Friday between Black clergy and and the National Black Justice Coalition and the issue discussed was prejudice against gay men and lesbians. We have spoken repeatedly in roundtables about what has happened in our churches and how our congregations have had to face up to the fact that many of our brothers and sisters include those who are gay.

Betty: Cedric's church dealt with it way before mine did.

Cedric: The AIDS epidemic led to my church addressing it long before I was an adult.

Betty: Dr. Samuel is well thought of and respected by many in the Atlanta area for his work on this issue. Banerjee has no control over where the article appears or the length the paper decides to go with but this really should have been an article in the paper's Sunday magazine. Had there been more room, I'm guessing Banerjee would have noted that Dr. Samuel not only has critics but he has support from outside his own church. He, rightly, has made a name for himself by taking the gospels to heart.

The article details how Bully Boy and the Republicans were able to lure some Black churches into their tent by making gay marriage a wedge issue. African-Americans/Blacks should have known better than to throw in our lot with someone who stands in direct opposition to our own advancement as a people.

Whether you are an integrationist or an isolationist, the last thing we need to be doing is dividing our collective power by drawing a line between those of us who are straight and those of us who are gay. When our ancestors were working on plantations, masa' wasn't concerned about who were fantasizing about, just about squeezing every bit of life out of us he could. When the civil rights movement fought for integration, the racists standing in our way didn't care if the brother or sister sitting at the counter or going to the school dreamed about the opposite or same gender. When we were disenfranchised in Florida in 2000 and in Ohio in 2004, no one was concerned about what was or wasn't going on in our bedrooms. From way back to the current day, the line against us was and is drawn based upon our skin color.

Like it or not, we are in this together. And as a race, we have collective power. The Republicans attempts to divide us and turn us against one another is just another attempt to co-opt elements and dilute our power.

When we talk to brothers and sisters who are skittish (or worse) about sexuality, the first thing we usually ask is, "Who in your congregation has died of AIDS?" The awful disease has made gay men more visible (in death) but what you find is that a church that hasn't attempted to have a dialogue about this issue is a church that goes out of its way to erase the contributions of a deacon or a choir director, you name it.Brother Ray that you were always so happy to see dies of AIDS and suddenly it's as though Brother Ray never existed. That's not right.

And the only way this changes is when we start getting honest. Gays and lesbians have always been in the Black chuches. You might not have known it at the time, but they were there. They were there on Sunday wanting so much to take part and they were there contributing to the church in spirit and with tithes. They are us and we are them.

It shocks us that our proud race which can rally when we see a brother or sister demonized, even if they may very well be guilty of a crime (including murder or child molestation) wants to turn against our own brothers and sisters.

In unity we have power and strength. In unity we are one and able to help one another. Though some churches do have sports team, it's not a requirement that you shower with your congregation so the silly notion of "What if we were in the locker room together?" is even sillier.

God made each of us. But for some reason we want to kick some of our brothers and sisters out of the boat and instead break bread with a Bully Boy who's declared an illegal war and attacked a people but expected us to fight his war in large numbers seems far from the teachings of Jesus Christ. To be there for our brothers and sisters, all of our brothers and sisters, who are attempting to struggle on their own paths to spirituality seems very much in keeping with the teachings of Christ.

At a time when so many Uncle Toms and Aunt Tomisinas are willing to turn their backs on race to enrich themselves, we don't think it makes sense to turn our backs on those who want to stand with us.We also think that this turning is the sort of thing Jesus counseled his disciples against.

We have relatives who are gay and lesbian so we saw a long time ago that they're not the "other." They are our family members and they bring much to our families. African-Americans/Blacks who have not been uprooted repeatedly due to the economy and other factors usually not only have a strong sense of family but are also close to many of their kin.

We don't think any large family gathering takes place without at least one gay or lesbian family member attending. You may not realize that or you may go out of your way to deny it. But they truly are us and we truly are them.

The article makes the point that in the 19th century scripture was used against us to justify slavery. Jesus and his teachings rejected that argument. We believe that this is true with regards to sexuality as well.

The article notes that "Blacks often bridle at comparisons made between the civil rights stuggle of African-Americans and the campaign by gay men and lesbians for equal protection under the law." We think that's a mistake and have addressed this before.

The civil rights movement is something we look to with great pride. We'd love to see it taught as something that not only brought African-Americans/Blacks closer to equality but that provided a framework and sense of justice to inspire people of all walks of life. We're quite aware that we work and work to create something (blues, soul, rap) and then a White person comes along and rides it to popularity while our own work is often ignored.

But with regards to the civil rights movement, it seems to us that nothing could be a better legacy than for people of each generation to learn of it and honor it by utilizing it to make their own strides towards equality. It's our legacy and we'd like to see it be a living legacy that continues to inspire.

That could remove it from something that's only noted one month a year (Black History Month) and instead becomes something all value. An activist, of any color, gender or orientation, a hundred years in the future turning to the civil rights movement for inspiration speaks to how important that movement was. We also believe that this attention can only provide a renewal in interest of the objectives we are still striving for.

The Rev. Al Sharpton is noted in the article and we'll note that we remember in the recent Democratic primaries, he was one of the few voices that could speak out for all. He didn't shy from the issue of gay rights and we think that's because, due to our own struggles, we are inclined to grasp anyone's struggle. We have had to overcome so much and we can identify with others who are also struggling for equality.

This is our better nature. We are more than track stars and basketball players, rap stars and comedians. We are the ones who shook off the shackles of extreme discrimination (and still live under discrimination often in less overt forms). We are leaders. Our struggles have made us that.

Our gay brothers and sisters shouldn't have to hide in closets from us or risk scorn if they come out. We shouldn't return to a past that rewarded those who could pass or gave preferential treatment to those among us who were lighter skinned. We are a race, a powerful race, and unless someone's working to hold us back, they are in our boat. We need to welcome them and we need to reach out to them.

We sincerely pray that we will have the strength as a race to welcome all who want to continue the fight for equality. As so many of us continue to live in poverty and below the poverty line, we need strength. The only line drawn should be the one that asks, "Are you for us or against us?"


"TV Review: Four Kings? They're bluffing"
NBC returned to a two hour line up of sitcoms on Thursday night. Based on the first week's ratings, the country did take notice. NBC, as noted by Kate Aurthur in Saturday's New York Times, found itself number one "among adults 18 to 49." The whole nation is not interested in endless questions about dead bodies with glimpses of "naughty" sex tossed in. (Is bondage the only sex Jerry Bruckheimer is familar with? Watching the original CSI viewers can be forgiven for wondering.)

Will & Grace remains on Thurday nights though now it leads (Joey's been benched). It's joined by The Office and My Name is Earl, transplanted from other nights, as well as the new show Four Kings. Four Kings?
They're bluffing. There may be three kings, time will tell on that, but there is one card that is a two. Yes, ace can be the lowest number in the deck, it can also be the highest. For that reason, we would never claim that Seth Green is the "ace." He is two with no suprises in store for anyone.
If an action can be conveyed by pointing, Green will convey it by stomping his feet, bulging his eyes, waving his arms and then pointing. His attempts at acting will exhaust you when they don't annoy you.
The new millenium has discovered it Squiggy, all hail Sonny Bono of 2006. Laverne & Shirley never resulted in a spin-off for Squiggy. A wise decision on the part of everyone involved. When Cher ended it with Sonny, ABC did attempt to provide a weekly hour of Sonny Bono. The nation has only recently begun the recovery process from that ordeal.
The show runners would be well advised to grasp that, despite all the inflated claims of Seth Green's popularity (it's non-existant at the box office), Green goes down best in small slices. The scenes of Barry (Green's character) without the other three men fell flat. Green's success, such as it is, on the big screen has revolved around playing a very minor character in the Austin Powers films. He is not a lead. Writing him as a lead is a path to failure.
Green was funny. Or rather, he was in funny scenes. Wearing heavy make up and hair clips was funny. Not because of anything Green said or did. (In fact when Barry became aware that two juvenile females had made him up in his sleep, the laughs stopped.) It was funny to watch the reactions of the other three leads.The other three leads are Josh Cooke, Todd Grinnell and Shane McRae. Cooke plays Ben who's the tent pole for the show. All the reactions and actions revolve around Ben the way they revolved around Mary on The Mary Tyler Moore Show; however, Mary would have worn a better bathrobe than Cooke did in the most recently aired episode.
We'll also note that Cooke has an interesting hair style (we'll touch on this next week as well) that apparently is attempting a come back. Other than that, what can we say?
Cooke, Grinnel and McRae have talent an chemistry. They work very well together. Green remains the guest star on. Last Thursday, he was playing Phoebe's boyfriend who didn't wear underwear. In the hands (or pants?) of any of the other three actors, it might have been funny. (Rebecca swears it would have been sexy if they'd given the bit to Cooke or Grinnell.) With Green, it was just disgusting.
That's the thing about Four Kings currently. It's a funny show. It's still finding its legs but it's funny. (Disclosure, we know people working on the show.) However, you can't share the good things about the show because you keep coming back to how awful Seth Green is. He's Jerry Van Dyke and we don't have thirty years to wait for Green to find a Coach. Does the show have many more episodes it can last with Green as a member of the cast?
Absolutely. Provided that they realize he is color to be added in a dash or a sprinkle. He is not a full meal. On Seinfeld, had he been lucky enough to have a significant role on Seinfeld, he would have played the Newman type character. Four Kings is Newman sharing an apartment with Seinfeld and it's not working.
He disrupts the natural flow everytime he opens his mouth. There are laugh getters and there are laugh stoppers.
Possibly Barry could move out and they could provide a "Fourth King" by crossover promotion with The Book of Daniel?
Something needs to be done. And it needs to be done quickly because as a "lead," he pulls the show down. Attempts to "humanize" him (via sad and touching moments) will not address the basic issue because the problem has nothing to do with the character of Barry, it has to do with that presentation of Green (we won't call it acting, it's there in every comic role and it's also his own irritating personality in real life).
Someone has convinced him that he is sexy, funny and unbeatable. Someone lied.
His fussy presentation and attempts at scene stealing mar every scene he's in. You never believe you're watching four friends interact; however, you do feel that Shecky Greene's desperate to get one last round of yucks. When asked to tone it down in other roles, Green's been either unable or unwilling to do so. He honestly thinks he's the funniest thing in America.
(Again, someone must have lied to him.)
In the early days of Ellen (when it was still These Friends of Mine), Audrey was a guest. Viewers familiar with only later shows may not grasp why Ellen characterized Audrey as "the most life endangering force on the face of planet." For those who know the character only after became a regular and the character was radically altered, we'd suggest they study Green's Barry.
Barry was conceived as Ben's nemisis. (Again, the show revolves around Cooke's character.) A nemisis doesn't dominate the show. The scripts aren't written to provide Green with the opportunity to dominate this ensemble. But Green's so damn sure he's America's gift to comedy that he pulls out all stops to "enhance" the proceedings. That's going to bury the show.
We called around to friends who'd been show runners on other sitcoms (the paper of record would call that research -- no, we never tire of that joke). Five weighed in with opinions. One said recast Barry quickly. Another said write Green off the show. Three offered that there had to be a way to work with Green as part of the show since it was already airing. The one with the longest running sitcom to his credit (all five were males) said that they need to get Barry out of the shared apartment immediately. He spoke of an actor he was stuck with (due to a network insisting upon the actor) and how, in small doses, they were able to turn the actor into a semi-popular part of the show. (When the actor later attempted to play the same type of character in other shows, but as the lead, the actor quickly discovered how fleeting fame can be.)
That would require moving Barry out of the apartment, limiting him to a few scenes each episode and getting the point across that the other three, like the audience, did not care for Barry.
Unless that's done (or something similar) prepare to alternate laughter with flinching. All five spoke of "the damage" Green does to each episode. The laughs are flowing and then, if the target of the laughs isn't Green and he opens his mouth, the laughs stop. Immediately. The other three are seen as "likeable" by the five but that won't continue if a character the audience finds repulsive is seen as their equals. ("They'll be tainted by association," said one.)
Every now and then someone comes along intent upon breaking the sitcom "mold." (My Name Is Earl breaks nothing, but we're not referring to that show.) They'll try to make the lead a hated character and call that a "twist." If it is a twist, audiences have consistently demonstrated that they prefer their sitcoms served without a twist -- which is to say likeable lead characters. When you're expected to tune in each week for thirty minutes, you need to feel that you're watching people who reflect you. Archie Bunker was popular (the character) with some audience members who felt he was dead right in everything he said and did. Others could watch the show because, if Archie annoyed them, they could count on Gloria and Mike to call him on it.
Barry annoys, but he's not really called on it. (And Green's no Carol O'Connor.) Most people confronted with a Barry would either avoid him or tell him (loudly) to shut up. That the other three (Ben, Bobby and Jason) don't could turn the audience against them.
Which is too bad. The show trotted out an old, old plot for Thursday's episode. The bar scene. They called it one night stands but, in other times, it's also been the swinging singles episode (as when Penny Marshall made her first appearance on The Mary Tyler Moore Show). Ben had to "score" a one night stand. That's not really in the character's make up and what followed could have been cloying and so touching that you threw up. Cooke managed to provide enough tension to keep it funny. He's a lead. It was a smart decision to cast him as Ben. McRae is a strong physical comedian and no one seems to have noticed that yet. It's as though an anchor is weighing him down (the anchor that should be around Green's neck?) and he's being prevented from cutting loose. The only worry regarding Grinnell is that his timing has been so strong, from the start, that he may find himself with too many weak lines in each script and be told, "You can make it funny!" instead of everyone working to figure out what's wrong with the lines.
Thursday night, the three leads demonstrated at the bar why they were all alone. Bobby just knew "vibe" talk followed by silent staring was the way to interest the opposite sex. Jason felt his technique was the way to make a woman interested in him: offer a slight compliment followed by an insult. Both went home without bed mates. Ben did land one but, as is the character's nature, immediately attempted to turn the one night stand into a long term romance.
Meeting her parents, going away for the weekend and other things were immediately planned before the morning coffee. In a scene that we'd love to see a network air with women involved (but we'll settle for men since most shows tries to convince you that unmarried equals death), Jason and Bobby explained why Ben would be making a mistake to rush from one long term releationship back into another one.
If Ross was "divorce guy" on Friends, Ben is "relationship guy" on Four Kings. A few years ago, or on CBS at any given moment, the argument would have been based on women destroying fun or weighing you down or some other crap. Instead the argument was based upon taking the time to get to know yourself. (Again, we'd love to see the networks feature a scene like that among women.)
Three Kings are three guys trying to figure out where they fit in the world today. (Not only does Barry not fit, his routines are so outdated that Larry from Three's Company comes off as modern by comparison.) This is a show that men and women can enjoy. You're not going to feel like you've just been disrespected if a man's laughing at Charlie Sheen's latest asault on women, for instance.
posted by Third Estate Sunday Review @
Sunday, January 15, 2006