News outlets fight for release of Pulse 911 calls

By : Wire Report
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ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) – Attorneys for almost two dozen media groups are arguing in federal court in Florida that a lawsuit demanding the release of 911 calls involving the mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando should be moved back to state court.

Attorneys for The Associated Press, CNN, The New York Times and other media groups are arguing Aug. 18 that the case doesn’t belong in federal court.

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UPRISINGS!: We don’t want to liveblog the Democratic debate tonight (in the wake of unspeakable terrorism in Paris and Beirut), but we’ll give it a go.

By : Billy Manes
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This is how it goes. You starch your sarcasm collar up high and point your judgment nose low, and then everything falls into a saltwater pool of international proportions. While we had planned on digesting tonight’s debate on CBS between the Democratic triumvirate bench in the typical bathroom manner with which we digest small bits of food, today has fallen beneath the pall of last night’s coordinated attacks on Paris and on Beirut. There’s still talk that this plays into the Russian plane crash and any other act of terror that might be bothering the temples on either side of your eyes. In response, CBS told the New York Times that it is realigning its question path to match the timbre of the times. OK, so … will it be like those strange post-9/11 telethons were? Or will it be Hillary’s chance to shine in the international diplomacy mirror? Or will Bernie shut it down with some well-earned outrage? The O’Malley situation seems less relevant by the minute, but he’s eye candy, so there’s that. At any rate, we will be chiming in as appropriate starting at 9 p.m. We apparently didn’t have anything better to do (which is a lie), but we’re also still puffy-eyed with tears from the decay of modern civilization at a freaking concert in Paris. Grab a corndog and watch along as everyone walks the “too-soon” tightrope walk on international conspiracy, the one that tilts as safely as possible to the left. It might not be as fun or funny as previous liveblogs from this particular scribe, but he (I) has a feeling that it may be an important moment in political discourse. And abuse of tenses.

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Overheard in Tampa Bay: Rocky Horror, Nick Carter’s strip club advice and Ben Carson

By : Anonymous
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Let’s do the Time Warp right meow!
Few things scream Halloween more than a public showing of the cult classic The Rocky Horror Picture Show and it’s made even better when it’s done for charity. The Burns Court Cinema in Downtown Sarasota will have an all-out, costumed viewing over at the Frankenstein place on Halloween night. Admission will be a $25 donation and includes the Rocky Horror bag-o-goodies for the enhanced cinematic experience. Proceeds will go to the CAT DEPOT; a rescue, adoption, education and resource center for homeless cats and kittens. Hot Patootie, bless their souls. The donation also gets you a free raffle ticket and a free drink at the Starlite Room after party. Dammit Janet, if you’re a Rocky Horror virgin and don’t know the words don’t worry they’ll have subtitles and plenty of people will be there to help you touch-a, touch-a, touch your inner Rocky.

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By : Kirk Hartlage
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More than any other large-scale Pride-type event, Gay Days Weekend attracts every shade of the LGBT rainbow. It also brings an equally vast range of scenic views, not just from taking part in the numerous events associated with the weekend, but also from behind-the-scenes if you’re making it all happen. We asked a variety of folks, with a variety of backgrounds with the Weekend, to share their favorite mental snapshots. We also asked: What does Gay Days Weekend mean to you, why has it lasted so long, and what impact do you think it’s had in all that time?

While you’re here we’d like to hear from you – tell us how Gay Day is Your Day!

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Watermark Reader Valentines 2015

By : Watermark Staff
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Watermark readers are a loving bunch—at least that’s how it seems each year when we ask for your Valentine’s Day greetings every year.

You delivered in a very big way again this year and we’re happy to showcase so many happy couples in our midst.

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20 years of Watermark’s historical highlights

By : Tom Dyer
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August: With a staff of three, Watermark publishes its first 24-page issue featuring Winter Park’s Amanda Bearse (Married With Children) on the cover.


August: Todd Simmons signs on as editor as Watermark expands to Tampa Bay.

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Publisher’s Perspective: Time to Pass the Baton

By : Tom Dyer
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TomDyerHeadshotI’ve commandeered this space to share that this will be my last issue as Watermark’s publisher. Going forward, former chief financial officer Rick Claggett will oversee newspaper operations.

It’s a selfish decision on my part. For the last 20 years, I’ve operated a busy law practice and a deadline-driven newspaper. Shifting gears throughout the day—with each meeting, appointment, phone call and email—is taxing. I’m used to it, but the newspaper—and the vibrant local LGBT community—deserves a focused, full-time publisher.

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From stand-up act to actor, wherever Russell Brand goes, controversy is sure to follow

By : Kirk Hartlage
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You most likely know Russell Brand from his starring roles in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Get Him To The Greek, the recent remake of Arthur, and the film adaptation of the 80’s-set musical Rock of Ages. You probably also know him from his televised appearances hosting the 2008 and 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, as well as a 2011 episode of Saturday Night Live. (If you’re from Brand’s UK homeland, you no doubt know him from his work on several Big Brother spin-off shows.)

You may even know Brand from his stand-up comedy act, which is frequently influenced by his prior drug use, alcoholism, and promiscuity. Or perhaps he’s familiar because of his consistent public support of the LGBT community as a straight ally. And, presumably, you know Brand as the likely inspiration behind several of ex-wife Katy Perry’s latest chart-topping hits.

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MLK march: King’s “dream” is not done

By : Wire Report
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Washington (AP) – Tens of thousands of people marched to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial and down the National Mall on Aug. 24, commemorating the 50th anniversary of King’s famous speech and pledging that his dream includes equality for gays, Latinos, the poor and the disabled.

The event was an homage to a generation of activists that endured fire hoses, police abuse and indignities to demand equality for African Americans. But there was a strong theme of unfinished business.

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Outdated IDs a concern for transgender people

By : Wire Report
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Lauren Grey didn’t think much about the gender recorded on her Illinois driver’s license until she went to test-drive a new car. Although she had been living as a woman for months and easily obtained a license with her new name and a picture reflecting her feminine appearance, Grey’s ID still identified her as male, puzzling the salesmen and prompting uncomfortable questions.

“They are like, ‘This doesn’t match.’ Then you have to go into the story: ‘I was born male, but now I’m not,'” said Grey, 38, a graphic designer living in suburban Chicago. “And they are like, ‘What does that mean?’ It was super embarrassing.” Similarly awkward conversations ensued when she tried to rent an apartment, went to bars or was taken out of airport security lines for inspection.

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Screened Out: This is Woman’s Work

By : Stephen Miller
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Remember those cheering Facebook posts “Osama bin Gotten”? Here’s the much more intellectual, interesting movie version. We know how this ends. The question is how it was accomplished.


Chastain (who also stars in Mama, see below) is a CIA agent trying to discover bin Laden’s hiding place. Everyone, including rival operative Ehle and a bunch of shadowy men, feel the leader is holed up in a cave somewhere. Chastain has other hunches that must be substantiated. She turns to torturer Clarke to glean information from a prisoner, hoping to end years of false leads.

This historical retelling is being called director Kathryn Bigelow’s great follow-up to The Hurt Locker. I disagree. Her Oscar-winning film had plot, character and theme, comedy and a razor-sharp sense of timing. Zero Dark Thirty is fragmented. The opening sequence is a cliche radio play about 9/11. The first 20 minutes is all shaky camera work and an alphabet soup of military acronyms and Arab names. Also, we know how this ends; Bigelow chooses to tell the events in thrilling real-time. She never, however, shows bin Laden’s life or insight into his conviction, so the puzzle is still incomplete.

What is fascinating here is Chastain, trying to remain determined, stomaching the torture to reach her aim. She and Ehle are rare women in a men’s world. Chastain’s understated discomfort earned her an Oscar nomination in a film with some early minor stumbles.

Mama is another first-time director being produced by Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth), who seems obsessed with new works that imitate his style. Also, del Toro apparently likes stories about motherhood. He started with The Orphanage by a newbie Juan Antonio Bayona (see his second film, The Impossible, below). He then produced the lackluster remake Don’t be Afraid of the Dark.

Mama apes that second film quite a bit but manages some small improvements. The story is still truncated, more style than sense or substance, and it still has some plot holes.

Coster-Waldau’s brother went missing with his two daughters five years before. The daughters have turned up in an abandoned house in the woods, having miraculously survived. Now uncle Coster-Waldau and rocker girlfriend Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty, see above) are raising the girls, who are wild and crazy. Also, a maternal, evil ghost seems to follow the kids around.

Primarily, we go to films like these to be scared, and Mama mostly delivers. The characters and acting are better than most horror thrillers. The mood and style are wonderfully creepy.

However, this horror still possesses certain things that don’t add up. Even after it explains its supernatural rules, Mama breaks them. Survivors are left with a story that’s impossible to explain.

In short, if del Toro is going to mother these things to fruition, he should follow the example of The Orphanage, which had more time and care involved.

Besides your devouring my obsessive ramblings, my fellow cinephiles should always also read Roger Ebert. Here’s one of my favorite quotes: “The more specific a film is, the more universal, because the more it understands individual characters, the more it applies to everyone.”

The Impossible is a perfect example of this. It tells of an English family vacationing in Thailand when the famous 2004 tsunami struck, tearing the family apart for days. The father (McGregor) saves the two youngest children. The mom (an amazing, Oscar-nominated Naomi Watts) is swept into the water and wreckage with her oldest son, Holland. Most of this movie is about mother and son, how Watts bravely fights to reunite the family, and how catastrophe makes Holland grow up quickly.

This is only the second full-length film by Spanish director Juan Antonio Bayona. (His first was also brilliant: The Orphanage.) Here, Bayona shows us the unexpected devastation, the wall of water, the dangerous debris whirling within.

The story is based on a real Spanish family, but it’s been Anglicized – probably to help sell it to Americans. Perhaps a small complaint is that even the native people, the 283,000 who died, are relegated to the background.

However, Bayona and Watts help us focus on the hearts of one family in the middle of the disaster. This specificity brings events home to audiences who may not remember that over a quarter of a million people died in that water.


Monday Ripples: This One’s for Father Mychal Judge

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“I have never wished a man dead, but I have read some obituaries with great pleasure” â┚¬â€œ Mark Twain

It's a weird feeling isn't it? Osama bin Laden is dead, our country killed him. I have an overriding feeling of joy, but there is part of me that debates the moral ramifications of taking an eye for an eye. You killed, so we'll kill you.

Whenever I think of 9/11, I think of Father Mychal Judge and I find myself wondering today what he would think of the whole thing.

As you may know, Father Judge is one of the many heroes of 9/11. He lost his life on that terrible day after running in and out of Ground Zero, performing his duties as chaplain to the New York City Fire Department. Even before that day, many people regarded him as a living saint because of his extraordinary compassion for people â┚¬â€œ particularly recovering addicts, AIDS patients, and the homeless. Father Judge was also gay, though that was a matter of his orientation since he was celibate per his vows to priesthood.

Many honors have been given in Father Judge's memory â┚¬â€œ a street in NYC, Pope John Paul II awarded him the Légion d’honneur, and a nomination for the Presidential Medal of Freedom â┚¬â€œ but I bet Mychal's Message would be the one that would touch him most. Mychal's Message carries on Father Judge's work of helping the poor and homeless.

Today's Ripples are dedicated to Father Mychal Judge and all those we lost on September 11, 2001. I think the best thing we can do to honor their memory is to try and do the most good we can. Who's with me?

Put the Pedal to theâ┚¬Â¦uhâ┚¬Â¦Pedal
Life in the Slow Lane
I have a love/hate relationship with Orlando Magazine; one issue it will have great stuff in it and I think I can't live without it, the next issue half the issue will be dentist advertorials. At any rate, this short piece tells the story of a family in Winter Park doing the best they can to park their car permanently.

Ned Weeks on Broadway at Last
You Gotta Have Heart
Larry Kramer holds a special place in my heart. Ever since I saw The Normal Heart in London when I was a wee lad of 18, the playwright has been a hero of mine. In the late '90s I had the chance to actually be in the play and, as publicity for the show, I interviewed Larry for Watermark. That interview started a relationship with Watermark which continues to this day, as you can no doubt surmise. The Normal Heart has finally hit Broadway and POZ magazine sat down with Larry, still raising hell after all these years, to chat about it.

Stamp Out Apathy!
Go Green (Forever)
I had a stamp collection when I was a kid, well I say â┚¬Å”hadâ┚¬Â when actually the collection is tucked in a corner of one of the closets at my Dad's house. I seem to remember my grandparents starting the collection for me and I perceived it as some sort of rite of passage, like my first bike or the first time I kissed a boy. I'm not sure if that collection is where my fascination with the pictures on stamps started, but I still find myself drawn to them. It's also cool when the stamps have activism tied in like these stamps that give people tips on being green. Doubly cool is that they are the â┚¬Å”foreverâ┚¬Â stamps, so you don't have worry about the price of stamps being raised.