Thursday, April 17

4 Minutes

A sexually provocative, lyrically shallow, cultural plagiarist - these terms describe a naysayer's view of Madonna Louise Ciccone Penn Ritchie's career. However, it can be argued that Mrs. Richie's most recently released single, 4 Minutes (to Save the World), is a thoughtful work that makes a strong case in support of international adoption.

Mrs. Ritchie last year adopted a child from the African nation of Malawi. After visiting the country and making an appearance at an orphanage, she chose a boy by the name of David and quickly left for England with him, assuming than an expedited process for the legal adoption would be undertaken. Madonna, having given birth to two children, Rocco and Lourdes, was ready to add a third child to her brood. When Madonna sings the line, "Come on boy I've been waiting for somebody to pick up my stroll" and Justin Timberlake responds, "Well don't waste time, give me a sign, tell me how you wanna roll" it is emblematic of the conversations that Madonna and her husband Guy Ritchie must have had about the potential of adopting, with Mrs. Ritchie's mention of "stroll" clearly referring to a child's stroller, and Mr. Ritchie's request asking for direction of "how you wanna roll" meaning precisely what sort of perambulator she desires. In the subsequent line, Madonna mentions her desire for "somebody to speed it up for me then take it down slow," which clearly refers to her desire for the legal process of adoption to be accelerated while not wanting her newly adopted son to grow up too quickly.

The chorus of the song indicates that "if you want it/Ya already got it" which is to say that those debating whether to adopt a child should recognize that there are millions of children in countries across the world who are in need of loving parents and a stable home. The love that an adoptive parent feels for their child is palpable, and as with almost all new parents, there is a strong desire to satisfy the child's every need, desire, and want ("If you feel it/It must be real just/Say the word and/I'ma give you what you want "). Madonna is advocating for people to not delay (because they've "only got" the metaphorical "four minutes") to follow through on their desire to adopt a child ("grab a boy/grab a girl") from an international location (the "world" reference in the hook "save the world").

While some interpret a later line in the song as reading "Don't be a pri(hey)ma donna," I would argue that the line could more accurately be interpreted as "Don't be a pre- (hey) Madonna." In other words, Justin is noting that before Madonna achieved fame, before becoming a mother, and before discovering the ancient mystical teaching of the Kaballah, she was not as spiritually enlightened or effective an advocate for an important sociopolitical topic such as international adoption. Today, having demonstrated her credentials as an author, spiritual guru, and environmentalist, she is well-positioned to serve as an advocate for rescuing children from the poverty conditions of the third world. Furthermore, if one interprets the "U" in the line line of "Sometimes I think what I need is a you (U) intervention" as referring to the United Nations, it is clear that Madonna is speaking on behalf of the poor orphans of the world.

With a toe-tapping beat, a visually engrossing video, and unforgetable falsetto notes hit by her background vocalist - and most importantly, through her lyrics, Madonna ensures that the plight of young victims of poverty from across the globe is highlighted. She furthermore makes an effective case pleading with policymakers to affect a simplified and less arduous process for international adoption to benefit these children and the families that welcome them.

Wednesday, May 31

John: Exit Stage Left

Taking a cue from our inspiration, this Beaverhausen has decided to retire from the blogging game. I've been giving the whole project a lot of thought lately, and it seems to me that four years and upteen thousands of posts is a pretty good run. Lord knows, the blogosphere has grown from our early days among to the innovators to the point now where it's getting harder and harder to contribute anything different from a thousand other voices. At the same time, as Ben has noted, newer forms of online intercourse have proliferated.

I'm not ruling out a return to the web in some form in the future. (In truth, I'll likely never leave, as I continue to utilize tools like Flickr and the various social nets.) I feel pretty good about what was achieved here. Our site tracker counts around 4,500 uniquie visitors a month. So it feels good to just go ahead and end my pseudocareer as a blogger on a relatively high note.

One thing I am going to miss is the honor of being among the bloggerati. Sure, the blogging network was demented and sad, but it was social. I was always surprised by strangers who would randomly approach me to say "Oh, you're Beaverhausen." "Well, half of it, I'd always say."

And that brings me to the saddest part of shutting down my beautiful blog machine: B'haus has been a big part of a very cool daily relationship with my best friend and confidante, who just happens to live 3,000 miles away. Authoring, editing and running a website with someone so close to me has been frustrating at times, but mostly it's been a fascinating and fun way to interact and get to know, even better, what makes each of us tick. So Ben, to you I say thank you so much for sharing this special endeavor with me. Don't be too sad that this chapter is closing. It only brings us that much closer to figuring out what that next big thing is, and when we find it, I trust we'll still be encouraging, baiting, and engaging each other just as much as we ever did here at Beaverhausen.

Sunday, May 28


The LATimes ponders a straight future for West Hollywood. Unthinkable, I know, but hey, it happened to Dupont.

Friday, May 26

Big Love

A divided Utah Supreme Court has upheld a bigamy conviction of a fundamentalist Mormon, rejecting the defendant's claims that the 2003 case of Lawrence v. Texas, which abolished sodomy laws, protected his right to multiple wives. The Chief Justice dissented, writing that under Lawrence, the due process clause of the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment provides protection to private relationships between consensual adults, whether bigamous or not. Read the opinions here.

(Wonder where that leaves Don Wildmon's latest wigout: polyamory in the gay community?)

Monday, May 22

Ba-Baaah and the Windigo

Bonus points to anyone who could have guessed what the characters shown at right had to do with the founding of America.

Answer: They're part of a children's show telling the story of Jamestown from the perspective of a young Indian girl (apparently a relative of Shrek the Ogre) and indigenous animals. It's all just part of the pageantry of "America's 400th Anniversary," a Virginia tourist promotion that kicked off near Colonial Williamsburg yesterday.

Fun for the whole family!

Friday, May 19

Blogging conference draws 400 in D.C.

Damn, we missed it. Was Sully there?

Thursday, May 18

Marriage on Both Sides of the Potomac

Gentlemen, start your pandering. GOP leaders in the Senate are cozying up to the bigot brigade again by promising a vote on the Federal Marriage Amendment in the first week of June. This led to some of the more exciting political news of last week, when Russ Feingold stomped out of Arlen Spector's Judiciary Committee meeting where the FMA was reported to the floor. Despite the theatrics, the brigadeers are not particularly happy. The WashTimes quoted one rightwing nutcase source who criticized the President's engagement on the issue:

It's not that we are demanding this, but when the First Lady is disparaging the issue, and when the Vice President lets stand unrebutted Mary Cheney's claims, we think some demonstration of presidential leadership is warranted -- and overdue.

The latter comment alludes, of course, to the Veep's long "missing" lesbian daughter, who made the rounds a week ago shilling for her new book, which has her agreeing with Al Gore on the FMA. Former HRC head Elizabeth Birch crowed, but most handicappers don't give the federal legislation much of a shot anyway. Boy, that's sure to piss off Donald Wildmon and his million mothers more than a big opening weekend for the Da Vinci Code.

Meanwhile, back in Virginy, legions gird for battle over this Fall's referendum on a state constitutional amendment. Despite heartwarming profiles of local homos in the regional press, observers in the Old Dominion think the powerfully worded SuperDOMA will pass by a large margin. I'm not counting on any intervention by activist judges, as happened last week in another "New South" state, either. In any event, the forecast for November calls for plenty of fear and loathing.

Goodbye, Anastasia

Will & Grace ends its eight-year run tonight, so it's time to bid farewell to Anastasia Beaverhausen. But will she and Jack, that lawyer and the decorator really be missed all that much? Critics disagree about the impact, whether the show leaves a big mark and changed attitudes because of its depiction of gays, or that it will be a quickly-forgotten relic of dated pop-culture jokes that won't hold up.

The disagreements seem to be a referendum on whether it is more important for a sitcom to be funny or to be a form of media where sensitive topics can be addressed and made fun of:
"We're proud of what's transpired" in terms of presenting gay characters as real people, Kohan says. "But if our goal here had been to put out ideas or role models, the show would have failed. All you really care about is: Do you like these characters? Do you care about their relationships? Do they make you laugh?"
And as with most sitcoms, the way to make you laugh is to play up the cliches and the catchphrases and same tired storylines. You end up with characters who are "so selfish and hateful to one another, you could never understand why they were friends to begin with. No amount of back story or riffs on low self-esteem could explain that."

The roles of Will Truman and Grace Adler became derivative characatures of other successful sitcoms, taking on some of the selfish tendencies of the Seinfeld quartet and the neuroses and compulsions of the Friends. And that's why I agree with the assessment that "it's hard to sustain characters over the long haul when nothing's at stake, and in its later years the show has bounced between silly and tiresome."

That's why I have to take exception with the arguments that the show was "a pioneer for using humor to address one of America's most incendiary issues...mainstream[ing] a way to laugh about gay, lesbian, bisexual, and straight sexual politics from a place of pure affection, not fear and hatred." I don't think the show hurt the case for gay rights, but I'm also not sure that it created "pure affection" for the gay rights or made a case for gay marriage. Backing me up is Beaverhausen fave Hank Steuver who writes:

The gayest among us now profess to have shirked duty and stopped watching a couple of seasons ago.

...For years, some viewers held on to the idea that the show was an example of pure progress in the way American culture views homosexuals. This turned out to be "Will & Grace's" burden to bear, and it discarded it happily.

...Watching the show...shoulder-to-shoulder with young men who had Ricky Martin haircuts and wore Abercrombie T-shirts, it was possible to make the mistake of reading "Will & Grace" as a solid triumph.

I would say that time would have to pass in order to tell if Will & Grace affects future generations in a way to I Love Lucy or All in the Family did. But I think that with constant reruns on Lifetime, we're likely to be able to tell far, far sooner whether Will & Grace can match the impact of that other long-running NBC sitcom about four individuals with a not-so-stealthy gay sensibility.

Friday, May 12

Pet Peeve

Is it just me, or is anyone else annoyed by the new Friday Fresh Air episodes that take a timely subject and cobble together old interviews on the topic, as introduced by Not Terry Gross? Today's show feature ancient interviews with cast members of The West Wing introduced by David Bianculli made me long for a fresh Fresh Air.

Monday, May 8

In More Positive Lacrosse News . . .

The NCAA men's lacrosse championship bracket has been set, as the popular sport continues to look beyond the Duke scandal. One fun programming note: my Tigers stand an excellent chance of taking on no. 2-seeded Maryland in the second round at Towson University on Sunday, May 21st. (Local favs Virginia, Georgetown and Navy will also be vying to reach the other half of that day's quarterfinal doubleheader.) I realize it's not the Herndon Climb, but maybe I can get some D.C. folks interested in a roadtrip to see these games.

Thursday, May 4

Flickr is the new Blogging

Conservative activist are up in arms over a proposal to prevent bias against homosexuality in California school curricula.