Hi! It's R. Eric Thomas. From the internet?
This week: Liv Tyler fights space, a Straight Pride parade seems pretty gay, and Gwyneth Paltrow had no idea she was in Spider-man.
Let. Me. Tell. You. If I could sing, I would never speak. Ever. I would be unbearable. I was talking with someone today at David's church who told me that his husband had a beautiful operatic voice but wasn't really into singing anymore. "I've only heard him sing once," the man said, "and that was 20 years ago." I was agog! I paused my forkful of post-church cake midway to my mouth just so I could gape at him. "Bring your husband up on charges," I said gravely. The man reassured me, "he sings in the car when he's alone." I wasn't appeased. "Hide in the backseat of his car and listen for a while. And then serve him an indictment. I don't know what the charges are. Let the courts sort it out!"
I totally understand not wanting to perform at home or not being as enthralled with the thing you do as everyone else is. I get it. Intellectually. However, the grand jury has already handed down their decision and it's binding. See you in Music Court, where the judges all sit in rotating chairs and the bailiff is the robot from The Masked Singer.
People must think something similar when they talk to David about living with me. People always say, "It must be so fun living with a funny person!" And I always shake my head "no" as I eat another bite of cake. I am not funny at home; it's a real scandal. Honestly, I should be put in jail.
I'm always talking about money or worrying about climate change and then I'll stop, tweet something funny, and then go back to fretting about climate change. I mean, sometimes I say funny things but it's not a performance and it becomes really cumbersome to constantly be pulling up GIFs on our projector to go along with my commentary on the dishwasher. But if I could sing, every day would be a musical! (Even as I write that, I know it's not true. I'd probably constantly be on vocal rest, walking around with my throat wrapped in a scarf, pulling GIFs up on the projector to express my needs. I had to record a short story I'd written for an audiobook and I spent weeks prior sipping tea and whispering dramatically like Michelle Williams as Gwen Verdon in that scene when Bob Fosse calls her to tell her about the reviews Liza Minelli gotten as Gwen's replacement in Chicago.)
(OOOH that scene burns my BISCUITS!)
Most of the time, I don't sing because I don't really like the sound of my voice and so I'm not trying to annoy myself. When I go to concerts and the artists tells everyone to sing along I'm like, "No thanks. I'm good luv. Enjoy." First of all, I didn't come here to listen to a bunch of drunk strangers sing this song; I came here to listen to you. Second of all, I didn't come all the way down to this large auditorium and pay $35 to park just to hear my own very average voice. Get out of here with that! I am bringing you up on charges, Lady Gaga! (Of course, there is the rare moment at a concert when I am very interested in belting out the chorus of a song like it's 12:30 a.m. in a gay bar. I am only human after all and therefore not immune to the allures of "Since U Been Gone." But in general: NO. I saw Waitress a few weeks ago in New York--with Shoshana Bean, Jeremy Jordan, and Noah Galvin all of whom were INTENSELY good--and the guy behind me kept singing along to the best notes so I had him thrown out of the theater and barred from New York.)
(Okay, I didn't really have him thrown out. He was filming and then his Siri came on and it was a whole mess and a salty usher came over and gave him a stern, silent talking to and then he didn't return after intermission. I presume it's because he was hauled off to Music Court, but we'll never know.)
ANYway, I can't really sing and that's okay even though it makes me sad. Like the operatic husband from church I sometimes do enjoy the cranking the radio up and belting a little. Sometimes I attempt to harmonize and amuse myself with the idea that I have no idea how harmonizing works. When I go to karaoke, I like to sing Bruno Mars and "Gloria" and rap the Biggie part from "Mo Money Mo Problems," but only if it's one of those karaokes where you're in the small room with only your friends to annoy.
Sometimes I sing along to the best notes on the Waitress soundtrack like I'm a future Music Criminal sitting in the mezzanine behind R. Eric Thomas. When Beyoncé's "Before I Let Go" comes on, I can never resist wailing along with her, my hybrid's windows down, my moon roof open, my lyrical accuracy at about 45%--a triumph of blackness. Every once in a while the spirit moves me and my tongue gets untied and I can't help but sing, and in those rare moments, no matter how bad my voice is, it sounds magnificent.
This week, Gwyneth is shocked by her own career, Liv Tyler must defeat space, and Victorian ghost Jared Kushner takes on race. But first! Straight Rights!
When you think of a Straight Pride parade, it’s easy to imagine a sort of hellscape with pleated dockers and Chik-Fil-A smell, miles of missionary position and a chorus of people saying “Clearly I hated it” to a server at a restaurant taking their empty plate. But I can’t say for sure that this is really Straight Culture proper. (Even Chik-Fil-A, which has famously donated to anti-gay causes, is also quite clearly high camp. That cow on the advertisements who can’t spell? Scam queen; camp icon; stuntrix deluxe.) And the other stuff is just human stuff that some straight people like and some don’t. And some queer people like and some don’t. I would bet big money that when a server asks Pete Buttigieg how he enjoyed his meal while clearing and empty plate he is faithful to reply, “Oh! It was awful haha!” [READ THE FULL COLUMN]
Favreau says he's not sure, but they got the idea when they were both filming Spider-man: Homecoming. And here's where the wheels come off. Gwyneth Paltrow looking at Jon Favreau like he's a lunatic after he mentions a film that she was actually in is the most delicious energy of the day. The way she says "Spider-man?!" with a vociferous incredulity is sending me. It's like Favreau said the words "peer-reviewed science" to her. Gwyneth has maybe heard of the movie Spider-man, but she's not certain. And she definitely wasn't in it. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]
We, as a community, must come together to help Liv Tyler, actress and pop culture royalty, defeat her on-screen nemesis: the pitiless void of space. I thought this ancient grudge was buried, that Liv could finally be free to explore her hobbies and passions, but like Michael Myers rising again to stalk Laurie Strode, the demon of space is back with a vengeance. In the new trailer for the movie Ad Astra, we're supposed to be focused on the idea that Brad Pitt, an astronaut, is the only man on Earth who can go to space and find his supposedly dead, mysterious astronaut father played by a series of shadows falling across Tommy Lee Jones's face. That sounds riveting, truly, but I couldn't get past the idea that, as Pitt's wife, Liv Tyler must once again undergo the nightmare of crying into a camera being beamed up to a space station where father-son issues are being played out on a galactic level. CAN THIS WOMAN EVER KNOW CELESTIAL PEACE? [READ THE FULL COLUMN]
Chatty Kushy, who looks like the only survivor of a whaling vessel attacked by ghost pirates, has all kinds of things to say about Trump's sterling racial history and how the Democrats calling him a racist are doing disservice to the real victims of racism (there is only so much racism to go around, see), but when birtherism comes up, he's like "I was actually absent that day." [READ THE FULL COLUMN]
US Weekly is coming in with the hot, fresh news that superstar Brad Pitt is... still very much into sculpture. It came up on my Google alert for "Is Brad Pitt still into sculpture as a way of expressing himself and perhaps healing after his divorce or was that a passing thing like when you get a Groupon and decide you're going to start scrapbooking but then here you are a year later with a bunch of pieces of paper and a glue gun and no precious memories commemorated?" You'd be surprised how many things come up on that alert but most of them don't have to do with the central question of the alert which is: Brad Pitt, is he sculpting? What is he sculpting? Let's find out. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]
In another field, Nancarrow mowed the image of a polar bear and the message "Climate Change Is Real." A road cutting through the field separates the word climate from the rest of the statement so what you have in Bishop's Shortford is the message "Change is Real" which is very touching and quite inspiring. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]
Karlie and Christian enter and remind them that only three of them will make it to the final runway and that Nina is waiting for them at the offices of ELLE (that’s us!) with one last challenge. They ride the huge escalator in the middle of a waterfall in the lobby of the Hearst building (it’s truly stunning) and then meet Nina in her office. She takes them to a room full of racks of clothes, shelves of shoes, and more accessories than I have ever seen in my life. I have never been in this room and it is my life’s ambition. Every time I try to go my keycard is like “YOU THOUGHT!” I will Ocean’s 11 myself into this place if I need to. [READ THE FULL RECAP]
Let's Hang Out
Washington, D.C.: June 17 at Miracle Theater - Hosting The Moth StorySlam
Random Thing on the Internet
I've written before about beaches and the experience of blackness at a beach. Kaitlyn Greenidge's short essay on her family's history at the beach hits all the right notes and is quite lovely. I highly recommend.
I'm on vocal rest,