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February 2015

2015 Oscars Photo Montage

2015oscarsI was thoroughly entertained by this year's Academy Awards telecast (despite host Neil Patrick Harris' annoying Oscar predictions routine that he dragged out for the entire show).  First, I watched it live, and then re-watched it a few more times.  I've already written a more lengthy review of what I liked, but here are a few dozen photos (taken from my TV screen) that didn't find a place in it that I thought were worthy of sharing.



This was NPH's first time hosting the Oscars but he's not new to Hollywood as he's appeared in 20 films, including last year's "Gone Girl" (a hit) and "A Million Ways to Die in the West" (a bomb).


The show's "Moving Pictures" opening


NPH surrounded by Marilyns during the opening extravaganza.


Although "Selma's" David Oyelowo didn't get an Oscar nomination he received the most screen time of any actor, with audience shots, time on stage to present an award and here with NPH discussing his British accent.


36-year-old John Legend looks 15 years younger.


Unlike David Oyelowo and Chris Pine, who had tears running down their face, Julianne Moore's emotions during the performance of "Glory" were limited to watery eyes.


Lady Gaga wipes lipstick from the cheek of her mystery man - father, chaperone, confessor, accountant, record exec?


One of the high points of the telecast was Julie Andrew's gracious reception of Lady Gaga after her rousing "Sound of Music" medley.
Thought bubble: "How in the hell did J-Lo get a seat next to Meryl Streep?"


Unlike others, Reese Witherspoon main-  her composure during Common's and John Legend's performance.
The fellow seated behind Bradley Cooper made the most of his on-camera opportunity by making eye contact with millions of viewers.
Richard Linklater? I thought this was the president of Bolivia!


Robert Mitchum lookalike, "Whiplash" actor Miles Teller.


And the Oscar for Most Peculiar Way of Clapping goes to ... Nicole Kidman.


"Zero", the lobby boy from "Grand Budapest Hotel".
After watching Rita Ora's performance of Best Song nominee "Grateful" I bought it on iTunes.


Laura Dern reacts to her second Best Actress nomination.


A lovely moment between husband and wife a split second after Julianne Moore won the Oscar for Best Actress.


Perhaps the most peculiar thing said at the podium was Cate Blanchett saying "Okie-dokey, Smokey" as she opened the envelope for Best Actor.


Eddie Redmayne and wife a few seconds before he won the Oscar for Best Actor.


And a few seconds after his name was called ...

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things ... About the 2015 Oscars

Neilpatrickharris.briefsNeil Patrick Harris put another notch on his bed post after his latest hosting conquest - this time acting as ringmaster at the Academy Awards for the first time.  And while I like him just fine as an actor, his ubiquity as the go-to awards show host has worn thin.  I don't know, he's a bit too "clever" for my taste.  (And I found the routine about his Oscars picks, that dragged on throughout the show, particularly annoying).  Happily, I don't watch the telecast because of the host.  In honor of The Sound of Music's 50th anniversary (see below), here are a few of my favorite things ... about the telecast:




  • The three Chris' all looked dashing: Pine, Evans and Pratt.  (Too bad Chris Hemsworth wasn't in attendance.)






  • As did the three black actors, all Brits, whose names I can never remember: Daniel Oyelowo, Idris Elba and Chiwetel Ejiofor.  Of the three, Oyelowo had by far the most screen time, constantly shown in shots scanning the audience (and he always knew he was on camera).







  • And Lupita Nyong'o also brought her style and grace to the podium ...




  • Speaking of style and grace, Emma Stone looked regal and absolutely stunning  with her red hair and porcelain skin creating such a beautiful effect.  This may be my favorite photo of the entire telecast.




  • The most adorable camera shot of the telecast had to be this one of Eddie Redmayne, who later won the Oscar for Best Actor.




  • Meryl Streep's intro to the "In Memoriam" segment was so touching and beautifully presented, like hearing a heartfelt eulogy.  I've replayed it repeatedly.  




  • Has there ever been a more jarring juxtaposition between two nominated songs than the frenetic Everything Is Awesome (from The Lego Movie) and Glen Campbell's mournful I'm Not Going to Miss You (from the documentary about his dealing with Alzheimer's Disease)?  The Campbell ballad, sung by Tim McGraw, brought to mind the deeply touching song Keep Me In Your Heart by Warren Zevon that was performed at the 2004 Grammys after his death.





  • One year after Pink wowed the audience with her rendition of Over the Rainbow, Lady Gaga did the same with her loving medley of songs from the Sound of Music (which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year).  However, the performance was marred for me by the sight of Gaga's numerous tattoos.  Not quite as numerous as Adam Levine's, but nonetheless a jarring disconnect from the movie.  The performance was capped off by Julie Andrew's warm embrace of Gaga.







  • Most Amusing Acceptance Speech - The director of Ida rambled on about the juxtaposition between the grim, gray world portrayed in the film in comparison to the glitz of Hollywood (which he referred to as "the happy center of noise and world attention").  Then he amiably spoke of his dead wife, parents and relatives and then mentioned his children (who, he added, "are all still alive").




  • Most Moving Acceptance Speech - Graham Moore (who won Best Adapted screenplay for Imitation Game) observed how unfair it was that he was getting accolades rather than Alan Turing, who was persecuted for being gay and committed suicide.  Moore then revealed that he contemplated suicide at the age of 16.  He urged young gay people out of the mainstream to "stay weird, stay different". 




  • Looking at NPH in his tight wine-colored tux made me uncomfortable because I felt confined.  Reminded me of a little kid in a snowsuit.




  • Despite what I said earlier, I actually chuckled at a number of NPH's quips.  For instance in mentioning the gift bags given to nominees he noted that the $160,000 worth of merchandise and gift certificates in every bag included "an armored car ride to safety when the revolution comes".  (Julianne Moore loved that one).




  • In introducing Channing Tatum: "He's the real deal, pants down, I mean hands down."




  • The winner of the Best Documentary Short, Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1, wore a Cher-worthy gown covered with fur balls.  After she left the podium NPH said, "I liked that dress.  It takes a lot of balls to wear a dress like that."  (One thing he didn't joke about, however, was the Sony hacking debacle from the end of last year.)




  • Gay Presence: Besides NPH, other gay persons who got camera time included the singing duo Tegan & Sara and journalist Glenn Greenwald.  (I originally listed Graham Moore, the Best Adapted Screenplay winner, as being gay but he told reporters that he wasn't.)  Additionally, Terrence Howard and Common mentioned gay rights during their time at the podium.






  • Reese Witherspoon presented a few minutes after a TV promo aired for a new ABC drama starring ex-husband, Ryan Philippe ...






  • I so enjoyed Adam Levine's charged performance of his Best Song nominee Lost Stars.  This was the first time I was hearing the song and after replaying this clip countless times I ended up buying the song on iTunes (as I also did with Rita Ora's nominated song Grateful).









  • I chuckled over diminutive Kevin Hart being one of the presenters for Best Animated Short (and I scratched my head over his choice of formal wear).




  • Finally, regardless of what was happening up on stage Robert Duvall wore the same blank expression.




If you love the Oscars, you may find my recaps from 2014, 2013 and  2012 of interest.

Remembering Fun Times at Greenwich Village's Monster Bar & Disco




One of ZeitGAYst's most visited posts is one I wrote about gay bars that have closed since I moved to New York in 1979.  Each one that closed made me apprehensive about my neighborhood bar, the Monster, meeting the same fate, so I've written a loving tribute to the Monster before the fact.  Located on Grove St., around the corner from my apartment, it's a lively place that's been around for 40 years.  Part of its appeal for me is that even if I stay longer than I planned I'll be home in minutes.  


Besides its proximity, I also like the place because of it's spaciousness and, at least until the invasion of the shrieking women, attracts a good mix of patrons of different ages, races and ethnic backgrounds; there's also little "attitude" to speak of.  If you prefer to sit and chat an expansive bar is upstairs; if you like to dance a a disco downstairs beckons; and if belting out show tunes is your talent, there's a piano you can gather around.  (Two complaints I have concern the bar's drinks: 1) they're smaller than those of other bars - for example, Industry in Hell's Kitchen, serves drinks that are twice as large for the same price; and 2) Happy Hour doesn't include cocktails with "brand" liquor - a detail that isn't made explicit.)


Happy Hour


The Monster opened its doors in the early '80s, which was around the time I moved into Manhattan.  My earliest memory there is dancing to Michael Jackson's Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough in the downstairs disco with my boyfriend Rick and a friend from work during Gay Pride weekend in 1983.  In its early years it didn't have the section of the bar where the piano now sits - that was a bookstore (legitimate, not "adult").  Thirty years later I often go there on Friday evenings after work, joined by my friends Andy and Maury.   Here are some other fond memories/photos:


  • When I was in between full-time jobs I'd often go there late on Tuesday for its Classic Disco night.  It was wonderful hearing the great classics of the 1970s and '80s.  In a post I wrote about my favorite disco lyrics, the opening paragraph mentioned this weekly event.




  • I once got six people kicked out for being disorderly.  It happened one Saturday night as I was seated at the bar and a boisterous group of guys and gals persisted in heavily leaning and pushing up against me (especially the women).  Despite asking them nicely a number of times not to do so, they continued invading my space.  Finally, I had enough and, summoning my inner "top", stood up and forcibly shoved them away from me.  It turns out they were being annoying all night and this was the excuse the door man had been waiting for to bounce them.  Happily, I wasn't tossed out with them.




  • I had the good fortune of meeting hunky Channel 5 weatherman Mike Woods there on a Sunday evening last summer.  I introduced myself because I wanted to tell him of the post I had written about sexy news anchors that included him.  (Last fall People Magazine named him its "Sexiest Weatherman".)




  • Despite there being no electricity, the Monster was open after hurricane Sandy struck in late October 2012.  It had a generator and the bar stayed open as long as the ice supply held up.  I went there with friends the evening of Halloween.  On a night that's known for being crazy and crowded in the Village, that year was dark and quiet with no Halloween parade.  But inside it was cozy with candlelight and just neighborhood regulars.




  • This is the bar where I had my first Negroni, vodka gimlet and martini.  One evening, in the summer of 2012, I splashed some of my martini on my Blackberry, which was sitting on the bar, and within 10 seconds it stopped working.  I loved this device but I ended up getting a smartphone instead.




  • It's the only bar where I know bartenders by name, such as Mitch and Jeremy (pictured together), Greg, Vinny, Stephen, Patrick, Raymond, Pedro, Achilles, Evan and Facundo (pictured).  However, once I knew their names I was always felt a sense of loss if I discovered they had left (as was the case with the last four names). 






  • Because I live so close I can walk there quickly in the depths of winter without putting on a coat (saving me hundreds of dollars in coat check expenses over the years).
  • Some of the go-go dancers at Saturday night's Manster at Monster event were a joy to watch as they truly put on a high energy,  hot show.  But not all of them.  Once I called out one who was barely moving, just sort of posing (and the song playing was quite danceable) - and I reported him to the manager.  However, a few years this vibe disappeared as rent boys replaced the dancers, trying to charm patrons (ideally, drunk tourists) into buying a lap dance for $5/minute.  This change happened after bar manager, Mitch, who was the creative force behind Manster, left and his night was replaced by Squirt




Crowd favorite, Vinny Vega.







Sitting at the bar ...







Iron work at the monster
A nice piece of iron work hangs behind the booth at the entrance where patrons pay cover charge on weekends.


Miguel the monster
Miguel is one of the managers






Greek statue at monster
Are we at a bar or a museum? (Stands adjacent to the piano.)in


Monster tshirt


May 28 monster disco
As Alicia Bridges sang, "I love the nightlife, I love to boogie, on the disco round ..."


Rainbow chest at the monster bar
Pride weekend, 2017






Drink on bar
Absolut Mandarin with a splash of cranberry!



Monster glass wall
Cinder block glass wall on the stairwell leading downstairs to the dance floor


Singing by paino
A regular belts out a tune ("What I Did for Love" would be a good guess)


(Despite my fond memories, in recent years changes in the types of patrons it attracts, e.g., more straight women, many of them drunk and loud and with their boyfriends in tow, and most recently, repercussions of COVID-19, have reduced the Monster's appeal for me.)

Anti-Gay Violence Addressed in Video for Hozier's Hit Song "Take Me to Church"



I immediately liked the song Take Me to Church when I stumbled upon it on iTunes in October 2014, but it wasn't until three months later that I became aware of the song's video (brought to my attention by an interview in Entertainment Weekly with the song's vocalist/composer, who goes by his last name, Hozier).  The video tells the story of two gay men in the bloom of young love, perhaps experiencing their first same-sex relationship.  This tenderness is then juxtaposed with a group of young men in hoods, masks and clubs coming for them. 


At its conclusion the video strongly suggests a horrific ending at the hands of the gang.  As I watched I was expecting/hoping that rescue of some sort would come, but it didn't, leaving me shaken.  Watching this video once was enough (thru October 2018 its had close to 240 million views on You Tube).


This video brought to mind the songs Smalltown Boy by Bronski Beat from 1984 and Rod Stewart's The Killing of Georgie from 1976.  However, while the lyrics of both these songs communicated what the songs were about, a listener of Take Me to Church who hasn't seen the video wouldn't associate the song with homophobia or anti-gay violence (and the singer mentions his girlfriend).  Despite its deeply anti-religion message, I couldn't grasp the connection with anti-gay violence since the thugs who hunt down the gay couple don't appear to have a link to religion; they seem more like nihilists than devout churchgoers.





Despite being greatly troubled by the video I still think Take Me to Church is a wonderfully powerful song.  (And Hozier's been recognized for his craftsmanship with a Grammy nomination for Best Song.)