Thursday, August 30, 2007

OPB & anti-gay politics controversy

Sometime last week, I began hearing OPB's ads for the Ira Glass's upcoming appearance in Portland . . . er, Clackamas. I was surprised to hear he would be speaking at the suburban mega-church New Hope. I attended New Hope in junior high during the late 1980s and know it to be very active in anti-gay politics, so it seemed like a very unlikely venue. Yes, logistically, New Hope is an attractive suburban venue with a large sanctuary, comfy pews, good sound, plenty of parking and easy freeway access. However, conservative, suburban, Clackamas? It doesn't seem like the stereotypical progressive-leaning, urban, public radio audience venue.

After reading a entry about Sienna Architecture's business with New Hope last weekend, I sent a whiny late-night complaint to

I was very surprised and disappointed to hear that OPB is presenting the Ira Glass event at New Hope Community Church on October 7, 2007. New Hope is a politically-active organization that actively opposes gay rights legislation and regularly hosts politically conservative events. While I support OPB radio and am a fan of Ira Glass, I would not feel comfortable entering New Hope's facility especially at this politically sensitive time.

I suspect many OPB listeners and Ira Glass fans would have similar reservations about the New Hope venue. Can OPB assure event attendees that they will not be soliticited political petitions at the venue. If not, will the venue allow opposing political views at the event? Can OPB assure that event fees will not benefit New Hope's political activities?

Thank you for consideration.

I hate writing whiny e-mails and had second thoughts about whether I was making a big deal about nothing. I received a response Monday afternoon (underline added):

Thank you for emailing us about the Ira Glass event. I'm sorry that our choice of venue for the event is causing you distress.

The New Hope Community Church was the only space available of the size we needed for the date that Ira would be able to come to Portland.

I certainly understand that you disagree with their political outlook. Given the large and diverse audience we serve it is inevitable that there will be conflicts of opinion. I believe one of the values of public broadcasting is that it helps create a space where conflicting beliefs can respectfully co-exist.

The hall rental is not an endorsement of the church or it's political viewpoint. The church is not a co-sponsor and will have no part in the program. If they have material in the lobby (such as they do for youth groups and other activities) it is not part of the OPB event.

I hope that you consider attending.

Please let me know if I've addressed your concerns. Thanks for your support.

So in other other words, no. New Hope may very well have anti-gay signature petitions as reported by the Merc and no, OPB cannot guarantee that the ticket sales will not benefit New Hope's political activities. A disappointing response, but I resigned myself to thinking, 'well, I tried'. However, I apparently was not the only annoyed Ira Glass fan. Portland Mercury reports that Roey Thorpe sent complaints to OPB last week and Lelo in NoPo has also been leading an effort to have OPB change the venue.

Yesterday, Ira Glass's agent, Steven Barclay, apparently announced that Glass had requested that OPB request a change in venue (although last night OregonLive reported that OPB would not change the venue). Today, the Merc confirms that Ira Glass will not appear at New Hope.

What is most disturbing is that OPB handled their screw-up so poorly. First, why in the world would they do any business such a controversial, political organization? Secondly, instead of admitting they screwed-up, OPB tried to defend their unpopular and offensive decision. Now that OPB is changing the venue, it seems that an apology would be in order and some guarantee that OPB will do a better job choosing who it associates with.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Death At A Funeral: A

Death At A Funeral poster, originally uploaded by nojam75.

Scott, ma, and I saw Death At A Funeral Sunday. It is a funny, cute, and entertaining movie. Probably the best movie I've seen this year.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Invasion: B

TheInvasionPoster, originally uploaded by nojam75.

Okay, I have to admit that I've never sat through an entire viewing of the 1956 Invasion of the Body Snatchers or the 1978 version, so I probably give The Invasion more credit for originality than it deserves. But what can say? I love Nicole Kidman and enjoyed this movie.

The story and the characters all seemed believeable to me.

The movie's major drawback was its ending. [SPOILER! Highlight to view:] The unbelievable, everything-works-out-in-the-end was very disappointing. There should have been more sacrifices and more mystery.

However, I still enjoyed the movie and consider it one of the best of the year so far.

Seattle day trip!!!

On Saturday, Scott, Sheena, and I took my visiting cousin, Travis, to Seattle for the day. We started off at the touristy Pike Place Market. As always, Scott took great pictures:

Pike Place Market, originally uploaded by sweber4507.

Pike Place Market in color
Originally uploaded by sweber4507

Originally uploaded by sweber4507

Pike Place alley, originally uploaded by sweber4507.

Originally uploaded by sweber4507

IMG_2711 copy.jpg
Originally uploaded by sweber4507

Frank Gehry Building housing EMP/SFM, originally uploaded by sweber4507.

Travis loves sci-fi and music, so we took the Seattle Monorail to the Sci-Fi Museum and the Experience Music Project. The Sci-Fi Museum added a terrific costume exhibition and some Star Trek models since our last visit in December. I was impressed with the Deep Space Nine model from ST:DS9 and an Enterprise-D model from ST:TNG. The biggest surprise was the Battlestar Galactica uniform from the current series -- (possibly worn by Jamie Bamber even!).

Unfortunately, photographs were prohibited, so no great pictures from Scott. However, I found some other pictures from less courtesy Flickr contributers:

Originally uploaded by Julia C. Gulia

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

more proof 'Man vs. Wild' is bogus

I admit that I'm a little jealous that Scott is obsessed with Bear Grylls on Man vs. Wild. I'm personally annoyed that Bear always finds an excuse to strip naked even in cold climates.

Now it appears the whole premise of the show is bogus. Grylls allegedly stayed in hotels while supposedly "surviving" and used professionally-made rafts. The latest allegation is that his show used coals and smoke generators to fake molten magma and sulfar dioxide fumes.

Here's an interesting video that identifies one of the show's not-so-remote filming locations:

"God Bless America and her gays"

'Gays Too Precious To Risk In Combat,' Says General

(Hat Tip: Queerty)

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Providence Bridge Pedal

IMG_2197 copy, originally uploaded by sweber4507.

Scott, Sheena, and I joined Mark from GCN for the Providence Bridge Pedal this morning. It's a great community event. It's the only opportunity bicyclists have to bike over all ten Portland bridges over the Willamette -- including the freeway bridges.

I've done the 36-mile, 10-bridge ride a few times previously and looked forward to introducing Scott and Sheena to the event. We signed-up for the 10-bridge ride, but fortunately were too late to start the ride. The 14-mile, 6-bridge ride was plenty for me this year. I'm already prodding Scott to prepare for the full 10-bridge ride next year.

Mark from GCN.
Originally uploaded by sweber4507

View of Portland from the top deck of the Marquam (I-5) Bridge.
Originally uploaded by sweber4507

IMG_1771 copy.jpg
Fire boat greets bicyclists.
Originally uploaded by sweber4507

Awful 20,000-bicyclist bottleneck before the Rosse Island Bridge.
Originally uploaded by sweber4507

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

"Sunshine": C - meh

Sunshine image

Yet, another mediocre summer movie. I don't think I'm depressed or too judgemental about movies, but I have yet to see a really outstanding movie this year. Maybe I should drag Scott to more "art house" movies . . . er, "films", but Scott won't let me live down Capote.

Scott, Sheena, and I really wanted to like Sunshine ( this weekend. Sheena and I really like Danny Boyle's Millions and we all love 28 Days Later. So, we had high expectations for Sunshine.

Like many sci-fi movies, Sunshine loses its pacing by spending too much time explaining its sci-fi premise and setting the scene. The famous Star Wars opening scroll makes so much sense now. And yet, even with the introduction, very little useful information was provided about who these people are and why I should care. Half-way through, I lost track of the many disposable characters. Apparently, there was a love story mixed in somewhere. Unfortunately, the movie unexpected turned into a surreal suspense-thriller toward the end.

Overall, the movie has an interesting premise and is not terrible, but just not quite together. It needed an original story to match it's stylized setting.

Monday, August 6, 2007

ex-gay conference passes with little attention (updated)

Maybe I haven't been searching the right local news sites, but it seems Focus On the Family's ex-gay conference on Saturday attracted little media attention. It's been hard to find much information online about what happened at the ex-gay conference and the reaction to it.

Apparently, the conference did lead the 5:00 PM KATU newscast on Saturday. The short report merely skims the complex issues, but the reporter does attempt to have Exodus/Focus representatives answer some direct and basic questions:


ANNA SONG, ANCHOR: "They say homosexuality can be cured. A Christian organization called Focus on the Family is in town presenting a controversial seminar about converting gay people."

SUSAN HARDING, ANCHOR: "KATU's Brian Barker is here with more on this. And, Brian, you spoke with both sides about this today."

BRIAN BARKER, REPORTER: "I did, Anna. Focus on the Family used to be more aggressive about attempting to convert homosexuals, but they've toned-down their message a bit. Still, in a place like Portland, there is plenty of opposition."


WOMAN YELLING AT PULPIT [MELISSA FRYREAR??]: "I knew that God was real and I knew that his word was true!"

Clip appear to show the stereotypical screaming evangelist sound bite. On one hand, I sympathize with Exodus/Focus in that the TV report seemed to exploit the setting by reducing the conference to a shrill woman preaching. On the other hand though, it's not an inaccurate portrayal.

BARKER, VOICEOVER: "Inside a church in Northeast Portland."

WOMAN: "A day came in my life where I knew that I knew that I knew that what I was doing was wrong."

BARKER, VOICEOVER: "A former lesbian tells a half-filled room about her conversion to being a heterosexual."

BARKER: "Are you gay or straight?"

Seems like a simple and basic question.

RANDY THOMAS, EXODUS INTERNATIONAL: "I would say that I am a personal on journey."

So, neither gay or straight? Not even an inkling?

BARKER, VOICEOVER: "And outside, Randy Thomas explains the purpose of the Love Won Out seminar. Focus on the Family travels around the country and preaches about homosexuality and Christianity. Some homosexuals, they say, can have what they call an orientation shift and go from gay to straight."

BARKER: "Is that a healthy thing to do really?"

THOMAS: "Well, I -- we don't try to convert anyone anyway. Uh, it's people who determine for themselves what they want for their lives. And for me, its been the best decision -- one of the best decisions that I've ever made."

Wow. The Exodus representative is surprisingly tongue-tied in responding to a relatively simple question: Does your ministry promote something healthy? Seems like a basic question. Thomas's attempt to avoid answering a direct question and interject his personal experience seems like a cult-follower's answer.

BARKER, VOICEOVER: "But across town, at the Shanghai Lounge"

CUSTOMER (NOT SOBER LOOKING): "Ain't going to happen. Ain't going to happen. It's not."

Unbelievably, the reporter drove all across town past inclusive churches, MCC Portland, Basic Rights Oregon, Q Center, etc. and instead went to Old Town to interview a drunk guy. I really do hate it when TV news reporters attempt to get 'man on the street' responses by interviewing people at a bar. Fortunately, the reporter redeemed himself by tracking down someone associated with Love Welcomes All.

BARKER, VOICEOVER: "Many say the evangelical message just won't work. Up the street at the Ainsworth United Church of Christ other Christians preach tolerance."

TERI NOBLE, PFLAG: "Even if a message is couched in terms of love and reaching out, if the essence of what you're saying to someone is that you are not okay and you need to change who you really are to be acceptable to your family and your God. That's an incredibly threatening message. And it does a lot of damage to people."

Good, short, concise statement.

BARKER, VOICEOVER: "Back at the seminar."

BARKER: "Are you here to try to convert gay people?"

MIKE HALEY, FOCUS ON THE FAMILY: "No, not at all. That's not our goal here today."

BARKER, VOICEOVER: "Organizers brought in police in case there were protesters. There often are at these events, but not today."


Gee, a little paranoid -- especially considering few people apparently even knew of the conference. Having the cops there must have added to the conference attendees' perception that they were persecuted believers in a godless, liberal city. Does the conference foot the bill for the police? Was there a police presence at Love Welcomes All?

BARKER: "And the conference ends tonight. A group of Christians who oppose Focus on the Family's message is holding a rally elsewhere this afternoon."

Interestingly, the only other news item I could find was a article that focused mainly on the Love Welcomes All conference. I did see part of the KGW report, but it also focused on Love Welcomes All mostly. Maybe the ex-gay movement is becoming too fringe and discounted to be seriously covered anymore.

I felt a little guilty for not going to the Loving Welcomes All conference. I went to the conference in 2003, but I didn't feel a need to go this year. It's been over ten years since my ex-gay experience and I feel I've 'been there, done that' -- in terms of working through the ex-gay stuff. Of course, I still have an interest in the issue, but it doesn't go beyond browsing the web.

08/07/2007 11:45 AM UPDATE: Revised, added some thoughts, hopefully improved.

"Planet Unicorn, Heeyyyy": A++++

Scott sent me this last week. We LOVE this:

If I'm good, Scott will sing the theme song to me.

It reminds me of when I used to switch the heads on my sister's My Little Pony collection.