Gay, Catholic College Student on Dating

Originally posted on NextGenJournal.com. For original, please refer to: Gay, Catholic College Student on Dating- NextGen Journal.

I’ve been told countless times after a particularly bad date or a frustratingly fruitless night out on the town that dating in college is incredibly difficult. It’s meant to be comforting – it’s not me, it’s the system! – but in reality, it’s about as helpful as “It Gets Better” is to a seventh grader: great to know for the future, but not really benefiting me in the present.

Of course, I’m not just trying to date in college – I’m a gay man going to a Catholic school. Now, Loyola Marymount University (LMU), a private Jesuit school in Los Angeles, is as progressive as they come, and I’m certainly in better shape than many others. But that doesn’t change the fact that, surrounded by straight couples and single heterosexual students who have no trouble finding options, I’m growing increasingly despondent about finding someone each and every day.

The problem is threefold: the gay population of my school, the gay dating scene in general and my age. If I had one wish for LMU, it would be that more students could be honest about their sexuality. I’ve visited friends at other schools and been shocked at how casual students are about sex.

At LMU, while students are accepting and progressive on gay issues, you’d be hard-pressed to find many out students. With such a small community, everyone knows everyone, and most have decided whether or not they’d be interested long before ever meeting someone. Students usually go off campus to find successful relationships, to neighboring USC and UCLA. Of course, how to find them is part of my second problem: the gay dating scene.

How do you meet a fella who likes fellas? It’s a conundrum that has plagued gay young adults for decades. Sure, there are the parties and the clubs and the gay neighborhoods (LA’s is West Hollywood), but what if you’re the type who likes watching “Bridesmaids” on a Friday night? Gay hookup apps masquerading as ‘dating’ apps like Grindr aren’t the solution, either – though they are becoming increasingly more accepted not only among those in the gay community, but in the straight one, too. Good luck, though – if you can wade through all the headless torsos and find a quality man, you’ve accomplished quite a feat.

Even if you do like going out and having fun, woe to you if you’re not 21! West Hollywood has exactly one gay club open to those 18 and up, Rage, and that’s only on select nights and draws an eclectic crowd. (There is another gay ‘night’ in Los Angeles, TigerHeat, but it’s an event rather than its own club, on a Thursday, and constantly moves venues.) Other than that, you’d best wait until your 21st birthday to get in anywhere.

As a result of all this, my dating experiences in college have been disappointingly limited. I’ve done my best to put myself out there, but my only good experiences have been back home over the summer (ironically enough, considering I’m from Texas – a much less gay-friendly place than LA). Unfortunately, other than waiting until you hit 21 and continuing to try to break a bad streak, there isn’t some big solution to dating gay in college, much less at a smaller Catholic college. But ‘if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again,’ the old saying goes. Plus, ‘it gets better,’ to quote a slightly newer saying.

So if you’ll excuse me, I must be going. I’ve got a date to meet.

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Sandra Bullock

Sandra Bullock Selling Her Austin Digs

Originally posted on TMDailyPost.com. For original, please refer to: Sandra Bullock Selling Her Austin Digs | TM Daily Post.

Sandra Bullock

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons

Is Sandra Bullock leaving the capital of Texas behind?

The 47-year-old Academy Award-winning actress has put her $2.5 million Austin home up for sale, according to the Austinist. The residence—a 5,600 square foot, one-story complex overlooking Barton Creek—includes a pool, a view of the Austin skyline, and a tennis court, according to the listing at Redfin.

Bullock currently commutes between Texas and California, according to People. Reports from across the country and beyond speculate that the move is primarily motivated by her desire to be closer to the Los Angeles preschool that her two-year-old son Louis attends. (Bullock also has an LA-based production company, Fortis Films.) Bullock adopted Louis from New Orleans in 2010, a process she started with then-husband Jesse James.

After a public scandal erupted around James’ affairs with several women, Bullock ended her five-year marriage by filing for divorce in Travis County.

In 2010, Bullock sold the Sunset Beach home she shared with James for $4.5 million and began living in Austin full time. Now, she’s reportedly remodeling a $16 million mansion in Beverly Hills. (Bullock also owns homes in New Orleans and Wyoming, according to the Daily Mail.)

In a May 1998 story for TEXAS MONTHLY, Bullock told Skip Hollandsworth that she was moving to Austin because she felt at home.

“A lot of people in the industry are baffled that I would just pick up and leave L.A.,” she said at the time. “But I feel a lightness when I’m here. It’s the kind of place where I can feel normal again.”

Does putting her house on the market really signal she’ll be saying goodbye to Austin for good? (After all, Bullock still has a number of business ties to the city, including a successful downtown restaurant, Bess Bistro, and a delicatessen-cafe, Walton’s Fancy and Staple.) At Curbed, Nick Leighton mused that Bullock “seems to have an affinity for the city” and so will probably be househunting in Austin again soon.

A Separation

Iranian film is relatable despite subtitles

Originally published in the Los Angeles Loyolan. For original, please refer to: Iranian film is relatable despite subtitles – Los Angeles Loyolan.

A Separation

Photo Credit: YouTube | iranianfilmfes

Living in Los Angeles allows better access to independent and limited release films than almost anywhere else in the country. It’s that sort of access that allowed me to see “Black Swan” on its opening day in 2010. Such opportunity is a gift, but it doesn’t allow residents of the City of Angels to see absolutely everything.

Case in point: I saw the best film of 2011 in March of 2012. The movie was “A Separation,” an Iranian film that just recently won an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. The story follows a couple that goes through a divorce and a legal battle with hired help simultaneously. It is, in almost every way, a perfect film, yet because of its status as a foreign film, not to mention an Iranian film, I couldn’t see it until almost two months after 2011 had ended. Those in other cities may never get the chance to see it in theaters.

“A Separation” is a wrenching portrait of a family falling apart, as well as the greatest legal thriller I’ve ever seen. The screenplay and direction, both by Asghar Farhadi, are superb in equal measure. The ensemble of talent is worthy of the masterful film it inhabits. The plot is irresistibly human and relatable. It is only foreign through its language – the story could be told about any culture or any family.

This isn’t the first example of a good film getting lost in translation when distributed in the U.S. With very few exceptions, including Ang Lee’s “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” and this year’s Best Picture Oscar winner, “The Artist” (a French film, albeit with several American influences), international movies are constantly relegated to the foreign dumpster despite easily relatable themes largely because American distributors are convinced that the language barrier will simply be insurmountable.

Unfortunately, those distributors are proven right time and time again by American audiences that would rather see sequel upon “threequel” instead of fascinating stories that happen to be in different languages. It’s a shame that so many in America and beyond won’t get to see “A Separation,” for example, because it has so much to offer, not only to fans of foreign cinema, but to general audiences everywhere.

That’s where the “foreign” label really fails: it creates a barrier between its American audience and the film itself. A story like “A Separation” would work in any language because it’s so relatable – yet the subtitles at the bottom of the screen drive away audiences.

It’s likely that “A Separation” will see some success thanks to the publicity generated on Oscar night. Rentals of the DVD will probably be quite high for some time on Netflix. A story this great deserves better than that, though. It deserves a place among the classic titles we all regard so highly. It deserves a wide audience and huge grosses. It deserves so much more than it will ever get simply because it’s a human story told in a different language.

Since we do live in Los Angeles, “A Separation” is still playing in several art house theaters around the city, including Laemmle’s Royal Theatre on Santa Monica Boulevard less than 10 miles from LMU. If you have the time, do yourself a favor and go see it. You likely won’t get the chance to see such a compelling, heartbreaking story from American cinema any time soon.

University reacts to city’s new trash plan

Originally published in the Los Angeles Loyolan. For original, please refer to: University reacts to city’s new trash plan – Los Angeles Loyolan.

The city of Los Angeles is currently considering a new garbage disposal plan that would see the hauling of all waste performed by a single, assigned private contractor. The plan, which is purported to be an instrumental step in reaching the “zero waste” output goal, is generating controversy due to its potential to shut down smaller contractors.

While officials supporting the plan argue that the greater L.A. area would likely see a major boost in the amount of waste recycled if the plan was implemented, LMU would likely be only minimally affected by the change due to its current emphasis on recycling. The University has already chosen to oppose the measure due to the potential dip in quality of services such a plan would provide.

“The University feels like the franchise system will limit our free market choices when it comes to solid waste hauling at the University,” said Bill Stonecypher, the manager of the Solid Waste Management and Recycling departments at LMU.

Student and faculty members, however, don’t see the plan as being quite as harmful.

“It probably won’t affect us,” said environmental science professor Dr. John Dorsey. “If anything, it’ll probably be better, because more of what we put in the waste stream will be recycled.”

Junior urban studies and Spanish double major Natalie Hernandez, who works as a sustainability outreach coordinator with Green LMU, agrees that the plan will have minimal impact on the University.

“LMU already recycles a lot of its waste, so I feel like it wouldn’t affect our recycling efforts too much,” said Hernandez. “It might just affect how much waste is hauled from here.”

The plan, according to the Feb. 12 Daily News article “L.A.’s new trash plan: better for recycling or a big mess?”, will allow for greater control of recycling and could lead to unionization of workers in the sanitation field.

“I think it has a lot of potential,” Hernandez said of the initiative. “It will hold the [garbage collection] companies more accountable in their recycling efforts.”

However, Stonecypher disagrees, stating that while the zero waste goal can be achieved under this new plan, “we think the goals of that policy can be achieved through a variety of other methods that don’t include limiting a customer’s options.”

“By taking away choices, the answers to disposal issues as we strive to become even greener can only come from a single source,” he said. “Currently, the solid waste hauling industry in the greater Los Angeles area is exploding with all these new customer options … for greener solutions, and we think this should be encouraged and flowered, not hindered.”

The additional controversy around the plan arises from the requirement of only one collection company to service each of the 11 distinct regions in L.A., meaning most smaller agencies would be put under immediate threat of being shut down, thus creating a monopoly.

“We feel like the quality of services rendered by a disposal contractor in a regional monopoly would significantly degrade the quality of service,” Stonecypher said.

“Sure, it could definitely do that,” Dorsey said of the possibility of a monopoly. “Everyone needs their fair shake. But even the smaller groups have said that they need to do a better job of recycling.”

The new plan could also potentially raise disposal prices for the University and for the greater L.A. area.

“According to the city’s own data, consumers pay almost 33 percent higher rates in exclusive franchised cities,” Stonecypher said. “And that’s really tough for us in this time of fiscal crisis because we’re doing everything possible to keep our infrastructure costs down so we can keep tuition down.”

Currently, LMU recycles 56 percent of its waste output, according to the Recycling and Waste Management information section on the University’s website. LMU has been recycling since 1990, reaching state mandates for increasing the reuse of discarded materials a full five years ahead of the deadline at the turn of the millennium.

“But LMU needs to continue working on reducing our overall waste stream by cutting down on what we throw away, what we reuse,” Dorsey said.

Debate over the new garbage transfer initiative began in City Hall this past Monday and will continue until the measure reaches a vote. If approved, the new program wouldn’t be implemented fully until 2016.