Oscar speeches look more like presidential debate at 88th Academy Awards

By : Jeremy Williams
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Oscar night is often filled with award shocks and surprises and the 88th Academy Awards did not disappoint as Sam Smith becomes the first openly gay man to win an Oscar. Well, okay so he wasn’t, but he wasn’t sure about it so he said it anyways.

Sam Smith was among the winners considered an upset by Oscar experts. The winner of the Best Original Song for “Writing’s on the Wall” from the James Bond film Spectre was as shocked as the rest of the viewing world when his name was called instead of Lady Gaga and Diane Warren for the emotional song “Til It Happens to You” from The Hunting Ground, a documentary about campus rape in the United States.

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Overheard in Tampa Bay: Marines’ Toys for Tots, Trump, IGLTA conference and dance party honors

By : Anonymous
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Hot packages for charity
Toys for Tots is one of the most beloved and respected holiday charities in the country and it isn’t hard to see why. The amazingly talented and beautiful Marines showcase those big muscles of theirs, their hearts, as they gather toys for less fortunate children for Christmas. So it is no surprise that for the fifth year now the Marines’ Toys for Tots is being associated with the amazingly talented and beautiful Kori Stevens for a benefit and toy drive at St. Pete’s Flamingo Resort. Make sure to clear your Sunday evening Dec. 13 and come join in on the tastes, talent and toys of a charitable tradition, and who knows, you may actually get to take home a Marine.

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Houston says no to HRO, Kentucky elects anti-gay governor

By : Wire Report
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(AP) – Kentucky voters elected just the second Republican in four decades to hold the governor’s office Nov. 3, in a race that hinged largely on President Barack Obama’s signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act.

The result was a potentially troubling sign for Democrats ahead of next year’s presidential election and represented a big win for the GOP as it continues to consolidate political power across the South. Democrats also were thumped in Virginia, where they made a costly push to win a majority in one chamber of the state Legislature.

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2 gay filmmakers only American representation at Cannes Film Festival

By : Jeremy Williams
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NEW YORK (AP) — There will be no selfies on the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival this year, but, rest assured, there will be every other type of image-making at the French Riviera extravaganza.

Photographers will form flashing gauntlets through which many of the top stars and filmmakers in movies will stream on their way to premiering hotly anticipated films on screens that are less theaters than movie cathedrals.

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The Wonderful World of Wanzie: WAVEs of My Own

By : Michael Wanzie
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Michael Wanzie

Michael Wanzie

All this recent talk of WAVE Awards has had me thinking. First of all, you can’t really say “WAVE Awards” because the “A” in the word WAVE stands for “Award(s).” So when you say “WAVE Awards,” what you are actually saying is, “Watermark’s Awards For Variety and Excellence Awards.” That’s one “Awards” too many.

To take it one step further if you say “Watermark’s WAVE Awards,” what you’re actually saying is Watermark’s Watermark’s Awards for Variety and Excellence Awards.”

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8.28.14 Editor’s Desk

By : Steve Blanchard
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SteveBlanchardHeadshot_137x185As a late-30-something who lives 900 miles away from his hometown, waking up in the room I lived in as a child and a teenager is unsettling. I open my eyes, stretch and briefly panic as I try to remember if it’s a school day and wonder if the last two decades of your life have been a dream.

Of course, neither is the case.

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Watermark readers react to our “bug chaser” story

By : Jamie Hyman
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Due to the overwhelming response to our Bug Chaser cover story from Watermark‘s last issue, we’ve compiled a round-up of reader reactions.

Read them all after the jump:

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Player says NFL recruiters asked about sexual orientation

By : Wire Report
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In light of the Manti Te’o situation, the questions at the NFL scouting combine during player interviews earlier this month appear to have touched on some subjects that aren’t supposed to come up in job interviews – namely, sexual orientation.

The NFL Players Association is aware of those rumblings, and Colorado tight end Nick Kasa’s contention that he was asked if he’s a heterosexual, and the union wants the league to investigate whether, and to what extent, it occurred.

“I know that the NFL agrees that these types of questions violate the law, our CBA and player rights,” NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith said in a statement to USA Today. “I hope that they will seek out information as to what teams have engaged in this type of discrimination and we should then discuss appropriate discipline.”

The NFL appears ready to comply.

PlayerSaysNFL“Like all employers, our teams are expected to follow applicable federal, state and local employment laws. It is league policy to neither consider nor inquire about sexual orientation in the hiring process,” league spokesman Greg Aiello said. “In addition, there are specific protections in our collective bargaining agreement with the players that prohibit discrimination against any player, including on the basis of sexual orientation.

“We will look into the report on the questioning of Nick Kasa at the scouting combine. Any team or employee that inquires about impermissible subjects or makes an employment decision based on such factors is subject to league discipline.”

There was a report from ProFootballTalk.com’s Mike Florio, speaking on The Dan Patrick Show, saying the “elephant in the room” was teams’ desire to know if Te’o was gay and if his relationship with Lennay Kekua, who didn’t exist, was some form of cover-up for his sexuality.

Florio did not state a team asked Te’o if he was gay. Kasa said he was asked the opposite.

“They ask you like, ‘Do you have a girlfriend? Are you married? Do you like girls?’ ” Kasa said in an interview with ESPN Radio Denver, per ProFootballTalk.com.”Those kinds of things, and you know it was just kind of weird. But they would ask you with a straight face, and it’s a pretty weird experience altogether.”

Jeff Foster, the National Football Scouting president who runs the combine, said no team, player or agent has said to him that an inappropriate question was asked during the private interview sessions, which are conducted solely by the team. Foster and his staff only set up those interviews.

The combine staff conducts videotaped interviews that last about 10 minutes and are distributed to teams, who are permitted 60 private interviews. Those questions, Foster said, “have all been reviewed by legal and human resources to make sure they’re in compliance” with legal guidelines.

“The 32 NFL teams are professional organizations. At this point, I certainly don’t feel we need to remind them they need to act as such. I’ve got no sense of that,” Foster said. “I think it’s probably like a lot of things that come out of the combine – more rumor and innuendo than fact.”

“Now, if we found out there was in fact something that was inappropriate, we would address that individually to make sure we understand what’s happening and make sure we were all on the same page. But at this point, we don’t see that as being necessary.”

Monday Ripples: Pondering Heroism

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â┚¬Å”It's our responsibility as human beings. We're put here to make people smile and to share our good fortune. Give it away and you always, always get it back.â┚¬Â â┚¬â€œ Gary Lambert

I hope you'll take a moment to locate a copy of Watermark to take a look at the heroes issue. Inspiring stories about people making a difference and I'm happy to say a few of them are friends of mine.  You'll also see my airbrushed puss featured in an â┚¬Å”A Minute Withâ┚¬Â interview by my editor Jamie Hyman. While I think there must have been some terrible mix up to lump me in with a group of heroes, I'm happy for the honor and the chance to talk about this blog.

I would be willing to bet that most of the people involved in the issue would probably shrug off the title of â┚¬Å”heroâ┚¬Â and it wouldn't be out of modesty. I think all people feel the same way about trying to make a difference: the feeling is insatiable â┚¬â€œ we always, always feel like we could be doing more. It isn't a bad thing.

What is heroic?

If you take a look at your own life, you'll probably realize there is heroism there. I work in a non-profit with a dedicated group of people and most of us landed there due to the recession, consequently some of us make half or one-third of what we normally would make. You see, once we landed, we fell in love with what we were doing, so it's hard to even consider â┚¬Å”greener pasturesâ┚¬Â (the green being actual money, in this case). Making a life work on less money because you believe in what you're doing seems nothing short of heroism.

Then again, the non-profit in question is in the arts. Right now I'm stressing over selling our annual production of The Nutcracker.  When you're life is consumed by something like that trying to get 17,000 people interested in ballet, it is good to get some perspective, which is exactly what I got this week.

A co-worker came into my office space at the end of the day and told us about her brother who is a firefighter. He just lost a longtime co-worker in a blaze. Naturally, such a thing makes worrying about sugar plum fairies absolutely ridiculous.

What is heroic?

I'll have to leave you to decide for yourself, while I try to find that path myself.  Maybe somewhere in the Ripples below you'll find your answer.

I Feel City, Oh So City
The City Solution
Here's an interesting article from National Geographic explaining how the perception of cities has changed. Environmentalists used to look at cities as blights on our landscape, cancers even, but now it appears that cities may be the answer to accommodating our growing population without destroying our planet. The photo of the infinity pool in Singapore sucked me into the article. I've put taking a swim in that on my bucket list!

I Speak for the Trees
Of Forests and Men
A little over seven minutes long, this is the official film of International Year of Forests, which was apparently this year. The film is beautiful, does a good job of looking at the state of trees today, and proves that Edward Norton probably shouldn't be a narrator. Here is the fact that chilled me the most from it: â┚¬Å”Over the past 60 years, we have inflicted more rapid degradation on the planet than in all of human history.â┚¬Â

Come On Baby, Put Out My Fire
2012 Orlando Firefighter
So, holy crap, I was at Parliament House recently to catch a bunch of friends in Wanzie's Glittering Star-Studded A Christmas Carol (hilarious, by the way) and I saw a poster for an event that I'm going to attend for certain. It turns out that the Orlando Firefighters have done a 2012 calendar and, if the poster was any indication, the firemen are hot! On December 17, PH will have firemen in attendance signing copies of the calendar. The money from the sale of the calendar goes to help firefighters through Strengthen Orlando.

The Anti-Scrooge
People Person
You would have to live under a rock not to know about the philanthropy of Bill and Melinda Gates. If you do or if you don't, you'll still find this article enlightening since Melinda has only recently decided to be more out in the press. She has realized how much more she can accomplish by doing so. I think my favorite part of the article is near the end when she talks about taking time to quietly consider the people she is helping each day. What if we took a moment like that each day to meditate on the work we do?

Scottie's Christmas List â┚¬â€œ Part 2
Thembaleth Beaded Elephant
What do you do? You're a rabid fan of SSTW and you want to show your appreciation by showering the Watermark offices with gifts for your favorite blogger. But you don't want to send just anything for fear he'll make you the subject of a future column on wasteful spending. Here's a suggestion: a beautiful beaded elephant ornament from Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. Elephants are my totem and I collect them, plus funds from the sale helps BC/EFA fund grants for AIDS service organizations in South Africa.

Publisher’s Perspective: Tests of Courage

By : Tom Dyer
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TomDyerHeadshotWhat makes a king out of a slave? Courage! What makes the flag on the mast to wave? Courage! What makes the elephant charge his tusk in the misty mist, or the dusky dusk? What makes the muskrat guard his musk? Courage! What makes the Sphinx the seventh wonder? Courage! What makes the dawn come up like thunder? Courage! What makes the Hottentot so hot? What puts the “ape” in apricot? What have they got that I ain’t got? Courage!The Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz

If you’re looking for a rewarding entertainment experience, go see The Help. The movie version of Kathryn Stockett’s bestselling novel is filled with vivid characters and touching performances. It’s also a discomforting look at the ways that slavery cast its dark shadow into modern times, particularly in the Deep South.

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