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Tue, Aug. 2nd, 2011, 05:14 pm
Entertainment Expert: ‘Was “Brokeback Mountain” at all realistic?’

Q: I have a question regarding the first sex scene in Brokeback Mountain . Has anybody been surprised about how easy and unreal that first sexual intercourse is? It may convince straight viewers, but no gay can believe it can be so easy for two virgin guys to “enter” the gay world! — Gwenhaël
A: Well, keep in mind that this is movie sex which, we all know, is nothing whatsoever like real sex.
Still, I’ve written about this before, and was so curious about that particular scene that I even asked the movie’s producer, James Schamus, if they “consulted” with anyone about the mechanics of it.
“We didn’t hire anyone,” he told me, “but [director] Ang [Lee] is not shy about his research on everything, from what kind of jeans shepherds wore back then to what the sex would be. I know he just talked to a lot of his friends and a lot of folks he met along the way until he was satisfied.”
But plenty of gay viewers were not satisfied. Since the principals involved with this movie are all straight , I suspect this was simply a case where no one involved knew the exact, uh, ins and outs of gay sex – and none of the Teamsters spoke up to correct them .
Brent Hartinger contributes to the entertainment site AfterElton.com and is a Young Adult novelist.

Tue, Jul. 5th, 2011, 10:32 am
This Week in Terrifying Science: A Bone to Pick

This Week in Terrifying Robots
Whenever I ask people what they hope scientists are working on, they all scream “Naps!”
Specifically, many of them are begging for scientists to develop personal time-stasis machines that would easily fit under a desk or in the backseat of a car that one could crawl into during the workday, stop time all around them while they caught thirty or forty winks, and then emerge refreshed without anyone being the wiser except for asking a few pointed questions about hair mussiness.
Others ask for some sort of suit/helmet combo that would allow them to bend the space/time continuum and to reclaim the naps that they refused to take as small children.
That is what right-thinking people want scientists to be focusing on. Well, that and dashboard-mounted DestructoRays.
Instead, the scientific community has yet again been relentlessly zeroing in on the antithesis of naps.
Case in point: Kilobots. See? Scientists aren’t even pretending they’re not dangerous anymore.
The reason that the roboticists at Harvard University didn’t go ahead and call them Kill-O-Bots is that the “kilo” is meant to indicate that they’re designed to team up by the thousands. Isn’t that comforting?
Harvard’s Self-Organizing Systems Research Group developed quarter-sized robots with little pin legs that can respond en masse to commands.
Which means they can do precision choreography like they’re the eensiest little celebrants of Kim Jong-Il’s birthday, or perhaps hoping to blow the Internet away with their creepy little interpretation of “Thriller.”
And, yes, Self-Organizing Systems Research Group, that sound you just heard was that of a single sequined gauntlet being thrown.
Though now that I’ve typed that, I’m concerned that, like the original video, the kilobots’ interpretation will also end with someone being trapped in a house and attacked on all sides.
Because in addition to responding as one to their creator’s commands, the bots are designed to be cheap, so they can be cranked out by the thousands and, when the Robot Takeover comes, swarm all over you no matter where you are hiding.
Whap at them if you must, but it will only drag out the inevitable end.
In the meantime, Harvard roboticists, I’m keeping an eye on you. If I see any news items about mysterious deaths that appear to be the result of disastrously overambitious acupuncture sessions, I am definitely calling someone.
Right after I change my name and skip the continent.
If you’d like to see where the kilobots will be carrying you, Gulliver-like, once you have been subdued, look no further than this chicken-processing robot featured on Dvice.
While it works with a slow, implacable pace in the clip, when it’s really cooking the robot can de-bone 1,500 chickens an hour. And it helpfully does the job with the carcasses in an upright position so you can get a real feel for how you’ll look on the slightly larger model.
Even if you’re used to cutting up and cooking chickens, you may find the eerie clinical calm and efficient flesh-removal disturbing. Though it may be worth watching the clip to see the bot’s inventor, speaking very seriously through a an interpreter about chicken breasts, make the international sign for “gazangas.”
And as unsettling as the de-boning robot is, trust me: You don’t want to see the re-boning robot.
This Week in Terrifying Medicine
Fortunately, we may have one hope for fighting the robots off. No, not the indomitable human spirit. Indomitable old people.
Gizmodo reports that hospitals are giving stunning numbers of medically questionable double CT scans to Medicare patients, which means our nation’s old people are getting a lot of radiation thrown at them. True, that seems worrisome at first glance. The elderly person stereotype is one of fragility.
But I’d like to know where the fragile old people are hiding; the old people in my life all got to be old precisely by virtue of being tough old birds with no intention of going down lightly.
The movies are wrong. Our future mutant saviors will not be the young. They will be our old people, who have a love of flesh-based civilization,  have all of our important cultural lore locked in their brains, and have been soaking up radiation like cranberry sea breezes.
Besides, the old are our best early warning system. What other population can Hulk out with impunity?
They will use their trifocals to aim and intensify their heat vision; their pacemakers, pins, and fillings to charge up their plasma blasts; and their sheer stubborn cussedness to get us to do anything, absolutely anything, if only they will stop talking about what the Weather Channel has been saying about the humidity in Montana, where none of us are right now.
And then we will wave and shout our thanks as they grab their golf clubs and bocce balls and fly off, perhaps a little more slowly than the average superhero and slightly to the left, to kick some metal robot ass.
And we had better have some Sanka ready for them when they get back.
Our Elder Mutant Heroes will take the robots down, put them in headlocks, and force them to develop emotions just so they can feel guilty about not calling last weekend.
Once more, humanity will assume its rightful robot-dominant place in the world.
And we will revere our Elder Mutant Heroes forever more.
And, forever more, the Elder Mutant Heroes will make the rest of us come to the Palace of Silver Justice every other day to help reprogram, because they unplugged everything to clean the wainscoting and now they can’t make the kilobots stop blinking 12:00.
Be afraid.
Ali Davis is a writer and performer in Los Angeles. Her book is available in paperback or on Kindle. It’s funny enough to very nearly take your mind off the fact that you are covered in tiny hostile robots.

Mon, Jul. 4th, 2011, 02:31 pm
Obama says gay couples deserve same rights as all

President Barack Obama praised New York state lawmakers who were debating landmark legislation Thursday to legalize gay marriage, saying that’s what democracy’s all about. But the president stopped short of embracing same-sex marriage himself.
“I believe that gay couples deserve the same legal rights as every other couple in this country,” the president said at a fundraiser in Manhattan, his first geared specifically to the gay community. Coincidentally, the long-planned event occurred just as lawmakers in Albany were debating legislation that would make New York the sixth state to legalize gay marriage.
That served to spotlight the president’s own views on same-sex marriage, a sore point with gay supporters who’ve otherwise warmed to him. The president has said his views are “evolving,” but for now he supports civil unions, not same-sex marriage.
“Traditionally marriage has been decided by the states and right now I understand there’s a little debate going on here in New York,” the president said to laughter. He said New York’s lawmakers are “doing exactly what democracies are supposed to do.”
Debate on the measure continued into the night at the statehouse, and the outcome was uncertain.
As Obama spoke a handful of people shouted out “marriage!” And Obama said, “I heard you guys.”

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