The Blog Squad

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Double Switch

To use a baseball term, Los Angeles Times sportswriter Mike Penner has pulled off the double switch.

Penner wrote an inspirational column 18 months ago about how he was going on vacation as Mike and returning as Christine Daniels.

“I am a transsexual sportswriter,” he revealed. “It has taken more than 40 years, a million tears and hundreds of hours of soul-wrenching therapy for me to work up the courage to type those words. I realize many readers and colleagues and friends will be shocked to read them.”

Indeed, many were surprised, and intrigued. His revelation became one of the most read LA Times pieces in 2007. He found support from his editors and the staff as he bravely embarked on his new life. Though not publicly stated, Penner must have received some level of understanding from his wife, fellow sportswriter Lisa Dillman.

“This could be the beginning of a beautiful relationship,” Penner wrote.

For the past 18 months, Daniels has written a blog “Woman in Progress” at Then inexplicably, the site was removed on Oct. 21.

LA Observed broke the news and quoted Sports Editor Randy Harvey: “We’re looking forward to Mike’s byline appearing in the paper and on the website with increased frequency. He continues to be a valued member of our sports staff.”

Not to state the obvious, but Harvey used “Mike” and “he” to describe his sportswriter. Not “Christine” and “she.” This leads one to wonder, what happened to change this woman’s mind?

Penner has yet to divulge, and the feeling is there might never be an explanation. He was so forthcoming when he came out, yet this switch, if it’s permanent, seems much different. Much more personal. Much more painful.

Is coming out of the closet easier than going back in?

I would love to hear from those who have experienced and wrestled with similar feelings. Is there a sense of failure? Is there a trust issue with the awareness of one’s self? Is there embarrassment? Did he encounter more hate and pressure with his transition than he expected? All of the above and more?

OUT AT HOME: The daughter is developing an imagination. She told me the other day that she was holding a pretend snowball. I guess because it’s getting cold outside. I asked her what color. “Yellow!” she said. Yikes. I told her she never wants to hold a yellow snowball. “Brown!” Um, no. I told her she never wants to hold a brown snowball either. “Blue!” I told her it was fine to hold blue snowballs.

VIDEO OF THE WEEK: A student kicks a field goal during halftime and wins free rent for a year. The coach takes notice and invites him to join the team. Now the student may be the kicker for the No. 6 team in the nation.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A Crash Course on Bollywood

In our November magazine — The Global Issue — WRIR radio show host DJ Carlito is featured for his monthly Bollywood dance nights at Cous Cous in the heart of VCU’s campus. To get a better understanding of the Indian entertainment form that has consumed him and that he shares with Richmonders, we asked DJ Carlito, aka Carl Hamm, to give us a quick video tour of the foreign-film genre. Here, we turn it over to our guest DJ for a quick tour of Bollywood via YouTube. —The editors.

From DJ Carlito:

This is probably the best primer course on Bollywood that I could put together at the drop of a hat — and this is only a sampler of songs, scenes and trailers of India’s very prolific film industry.

Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na is a hugely popular newer movie.

Where's the Party Tonight is a good example of modern Bollywood dance music.

, Punjabi MC and Dalher Mehndi are just a few awesome Punjabi artists.

A good example of a newer Indian hit is Kismat Connection.

Another film, Dus, was also quite popular recently, in the past few years.

Some remakes have brought back classic Bollywood films such as Don (find its original below), starring Sharukh Khan, and Karz (also below but now called Om Shanti Om, also starring Sharukh).

Other new hits include Boys, a recent Tamil movie.

One thing about India’s movies: Bollywood cranks out more films than Hollywood, so it’s near-impossible for me to keep up with the most recent movies.

But to have a frame of reference here are some of the all-time classics that I would recommend people watch first — the ones that got me hooked. (And the older movies show more traditional Indian culture and less of the more modern urban vibe.)

A list:

Pakeezah, a poetic, heartbreaking romantic epic tragedy. It was Meena Kumari's last movie.

Baiju Bawra (an earlier Meena Kumari film — she was truly the best and her life was a tragic story too.)

Here is my favorite classic Indian song from 1955's Seema.

Satyam Shivam Sundaram is beautiful, very spiritual and utterly poetic. This song was covered by Thievery Corporation on their latest album, The Cosmic Game.

For all-time classic action movies, I suggest Sholay (also here) , and Don (also here).

And check out Bollywood’s assimilation of the disco era: Karz (above as Om Shanti Om); Hum Kissise Kum Naheen and Disco Dancer (this song was covered by M.I.A.).

To see the East-meets-West ‘60s vibe, check these out:
Yaadon Ki Baarat (also here) and Purab aur Paachim.

My all-time favorite actress is Smita Patel because she portrayed women in a new light. Unfortunately, she died in her 30s after childbirth. Along with another actress, Shaban Azmi, Patel was known for being a more political actress in her early career, playing in "art films" as they were classified in India. Here's Mirch Masala where she fights her pursuers with hot pepper powder.

Thanks for letting me share my appreciation of Bollywood and the Indian culture —DJ Carlito

Friday, October 17, 2008

Things That Better Not Happen

1. The Boston Red Sox better not beat the Tampa Bay Rays after being down 3-1 in the series. I’m still hopeful that the Rays will prevail after returning to Florida and the home crowd. They will have their ace, James Shields, on the mound for Game 6. Evan Longoria and B.J. Upton have proven to be two rising superstars on a team that could have field Josh Hamilton as well. Carl Crawford is already an established star as well as pitchers Matt Garza and possible future ace David Price. This young team will be good for a few years, but I don’t want to see the Red Sox or any other Boston team win another championship.

2. The Redskins better not go 1-2 or 0-3 in the softest part of their schedule after completing the hardest section at 4-1. Up next are the Browns, who defeated the Super Bowl champs Giants easily last Monday night. Washington should win, but I’m worried that the Redskins will take a conservative approach rather than trying to bury this team early. Just like they did against the Rams.

3. Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo better not play well despite a broken pinky and newly acquired Roy Williams makes an impact. Though Dallas gave up a lot for Williams when nobody really wanted him, the guy is a playmaker and could balance out the field. Owens should see less over the top help as Williams is capable of stretching the field as well. At least the Cowboys lost their punter for the year.

4. The Wizards’ Gilbert Arenas better not miss the entire season after sitting out all but 13 games last year. Arenas recently signed a huge contract and needs to be on the court if Washington hopes to make a run at the Eastern Conference title.

5. Kimbo Slice better not headline another EliteXC card. The Slice man was diced by Seth Petruzelli on Oct. 4 on national television. Petruzelli took the fight on one-hour notice and pounded Slice out in 14 seconds.

6. AROD and Madonna better not hook up now that they will soon be legally allowed to do so. I have Alex Rodriguez on my keeper fantasy baseball team and I’m afraid his career will sink much like Guy Ritchie’s after he married the Material Girl. Ritchie made “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” as well as “Snatch” pre-Madonna. What has he done since? You tell me.

7. This better not be the truth about Joe Paterno, but sadly I’m afraid it is. Sportscaster Brent Musburger said on the radio recently that he knows why his good friend Paterno keeps coaching. “This is a tough one for me because I have to say up front that JoePa is a dear friend of mine…I’ll tell your listeners the truth as to why he still does it. He is fearful—and he looks back at Bear Bryant (legendary Alabama coach) as the example—he is fearful that he would not be with us if he stepped away. He is a man that doesn’t fish, doesn’t play golf…he has no other interest other than his family and football. And he’s just afraid what would happen with the rest of his life if he walks away from it.” Bear Bryant died just 28 days after announcing his retirement from Alabama.

8. David from Mount Pleasant better be joking. He is, right?

OUT AT HOME: Took the daughter to see WALL-E last night at the Byrd Theater. It was the first time I’d been to the Byrd since I returned to Richmond in 2005. I love that place. I was pleasantly surprised, however, to see the littering ad still playing. “SICK!”

This makes me laugh. But they are good sports. Love seeing Cal and Eck belting out some notes.