- The Washington Times - Monday, February 1, 2010

Man love lost

“I probably wouldn’t take much interest in jolly fellows were it not for, first, a scholarly recognition that it isn’t possible to understand nineteenth-century American culture, high or low, without them, and, second, the complication that jolly fellows were the loudest and most visible exponents in their era of affection between men, a subject that interests me. Jolly fellows kissed, hugged, and ate off one another’s plates, when they weren’t knocking one another’s blocks off. [Author Richard] Stott reports that one California miner kept a journal about ‘the man I love better than all other men.’ Doc Holliday’s ‘whole heart and soul were wrapped up in Wyatt Earp,’ according to a handsome sporting man who knew both.

“Many of the men holding hands in antique daguerreotypes and tintypes are jolly fellows, and while some of those from late in the century look decidedly homosexual to a modern eye, it is much harder to qualify the affection represented in earlier ones. Maybe they were enjoying an effusive style of camaraderie that capitalism later made scarce, or maybe they were the sort who would tie someone like me to a barbed-wire fence and pistol-whip me for the fun of it. Or both; one thinks, anachronistically and no doubt inappropriately, of bear hugs in fraternity houses.”

Caleb Crain, writing on “Beer Buddies” in the February/March issue of Book Forum

Woman love lost

“One of the biggest successes at Sundance this year — which has produced the only old-school studio bidding war of the festival — is Lisa Cholodenko’s film ‘The Kids Are All Right,’ now known around the world as the ‘lesbian marriage movie’ starring Julianne Moore and Annette Bening. A beautifully constructed comedy with five strong characters and a rapier wit, it has delighted audiences here and has been snapped up by Focus Features, the quasi-indie division of Universal Pictures.

“For such a supremely enjoyable film, ‘The Kids Are All Right’ is likely to push many people’s buttons in various different ways. Not only is it a film about a family anchored by a lesbian marriage, but one of the partners (Moore) strays by sleeping with a man (Mark Ruffalo), who just happens to be the donor whose sperm helped produce the couple’s two children. As Cholodenko says, this is a pro-family film that treats the issue of infidelity very seriously — Focus on the Family would probably love it, if it weren’t for that one nettlesome detail about the particular family in this story. …

“I read her a little of the angrier feedback about her lesbian-does-dude plot and she laughed it off: ‘Maybe those people need to take their pink megaphone somewhere else.’”

Andrew O’Hehir, writing on “Sundance: Guy-sex and the modern lesbian,” on Jan. 29 at Salon

No love lost

“I’m sorry, I’m having a really hard time getting worked up about [Justice Samuel A.] Alito’s ‘breach of protocol.’ It’s totally true that justices usually sit there like a stone. On the other hand, presidents don’t usually call out said justices for being too wrapped up in that dumb First Amendment — much less call them out with statements that seem to be unequivocally false.

“Using the State of the Union as an opportunity to call out Supreme Court justices, who you expect will have to sit there impassively while you rake them over the coals is, well, kind of a jerk move. And I’m pretty sure it’s not exactly traditional presidential protocol. It certainly doesn’t show ‘all due deference’ to the separation of powers, especially when it’s followed by a pledge to pass more of the kinds of laws they’ve just ruled unconstitutional.

“I’m calling this one a draw.”

Megan McArdle, writing on “Tit for Tat” on Jan. 28 at her Atlantic site

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