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The Living Liberally Annual Celebration - May 10th in NYC

Support the work of Living Liberally, honor our great progressive allies The New Organizing Institute and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, and join a great party at the Living Liberally Annual Celebration on Thursday, May 10th in New York.

Learn more and get your tickets now.

State of the Union 2012 - Parties and Games

Tonight, as the President takes to the podium in the Capitol, members of Drinking Liberally take to bars across America. This is the 9th year running that Drinking Liberally is hosting State of the Union Watch Parties, and you're invited to join.

Find your local chapter on our DL map and see if they've promoted a special watch party for tonight.

And whether you're a host or a guest, bring some games to your local event.

Here's a link to SOTU Bingo Cards created by Kathleen Thompson, our host in Mid-Cities Texas. These cards are pre-designed for you to print-and-play.

Check them out and print them out here.

And our Baltimore host, Robyn Henry, took it a different route: she supplied the words and you can fill in your own Bingo cards.

Her instructions: "Before the speech, fill in each space on a 5x5 grid from the choices below. During the speech, mark off each thing as it is heard or seen. The first person to BINGO and the person closest to blackout will win a prize."

Reward responsibility, Hard work, Bush Tax Cuts, Middle class, Fair share, Fair shake, Fair play, Progress, Blueprint, Buffett Rule, Manufacturing, Alternative Energy, Energy Independence, China, Iran, Insourcing, Equal Opportunity, "The state of our union is strong!", Unemployment, "special guest," Bipartisan Standing Ovation, Partisan Standing Ovation, Vice President Biden Yawns, Mic Check, Speaker Boehner is orange, Speaker Boehner cries, Michelle Obama's "guns," Nancy Pelosi looking unhappy, Arab Spring, Security, Budget, Diplomacy, Deficit, Energy, Pakistan, Private Sector, Elections, Food Security, Keystone XL, Partnership, Transparency, Environment, Results, HIV / AIDS, Hecklers, Someone wears a red suit

Ladies, gentlemen, treat yourself…. to Date Night

By Bec Zajac

Okay, I’m going to admit it--my dirty little secret, something I’ve been struggling with for a long time that I just can’t hide anymore: I like romantic comedies. I really do. I see them early. I see them often. I get excited when I hear there’s a new one coming out. And when Sandra Bullock won an Academy Award, goddamnit, I even cried a little!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not here to defend all that’s problematic about films in the “romcom genre”. And believe me, I know there’s a lot: they reinforce gender stereotypes, they promote hetero-normative paradigms, they idolize marriage; and, yes, I agree, every time J-Lo does another movie, a baby angel loses its wings.

But even with all its problems, for some reason, the romantic comedy keeps drawing me back in. Even though, after seeing one I tread a fine line between feeling warm and fuzzy inside, and seething with rage and self-hatred, I keep taking that chance. So lately, I’ve asked myself: Why? Why the hell do I keep seeing these terrible, sexist movies over and over again?

More After the Jump....

Help Keep Our Lights On

Last year, Living Liberally needed your help to keep operating. You came through for us, and we have kept going strong, collaborating with organizations like the SEIU, spreading our chapters to over 350 cities and keeping the dream of progressive communities in all 50 states alive.

This year, we need your help to keep that dream alive. Donate today to keep aggressive activists meeting nationwide.

We are joining in this fundraising effort with a vital partner in the progressive netroots, Open Left. Open Left has been a progressive media powerhouse for the last three critical years in our movement. Just as we have changed the landscape of modern politics by building a network of aggressive activists, they have done so through efforts like getting every 2008 Senate Democratic challenger to come out in support of net neutrality. With both organizations facing a budget shortfall in the upcoming year, we've partnered to ask that you support the effort to build a progressive counterpoint to the tea parties and Fox News.

Contribute now to support progressive infrastructure like Living Liberally and Open Left.

Congressman Alan Grayson Believes In Living Liberally

Fresh off a debate in LA with George W. Bush (played by Laughing Liberally vet James Adomian), Congressman Alan Grayson offered a message to the good people of Living Liberally.

Thank you, Congressman -- and keep on fighting!

Though he won't make it person, we know Congressman Grayson is with us in spirit at this year's Living Liberally Annual Celebration -- this Saturday, MAY DAY, in New York City.

Come partake in this proud tradition of living -- and drinking -- liberally.

Kick off Earth Day the Lazy Way: By Watching PBS!

By Bec Zajac

This earth day, PBS is screening its incredibly engaging and moving documentary feature, American Experience: Earth Days, directed by Robert Stone. As you might guess, it is about the creation of earth day, the first of which was the largest national demonstration in American history, involving a record 20 million people in events around the country! I watched Earth Days on my Netflix ‘watch instantly’ (it is streaming both on Netflix and on the PBS site) and found it to be a fabulous way to both ease myself into the spirit of the day and learn about its significance. Moving beyond discussions of Earth Day demonstrations themselves, the film really tells the story of the birth of the environmental movement and its many accomplishments during its early years.

What was most surprising to me about the film was how similar contemporary conversations in regards to global warming, conservation, renewable energy, sustainability, innovative technology, and reducing carbon emissions are to discussions that took place during the movement's pioneering days. Far from being simply a nostalgic historical narrative, Earth Days offers a refreshing lens through which to look at the current debate, as it is told from the perspective of a group of incredibly articulate folks who have been thinking about these concepts for the last 40 years.



The film follows the personal stories of several leading figures in the early movement—among them Former Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall, biologist/Population Bomb author Paul Ehrlich, Whole Earth Catalog founder Stewart Brand, Apollo Nine astronaut Rusty Schweickart, renewable energy pioneers Hunter Lovins and Dennis Hayes, Republican Congressman, Pete McCloskey, and environmental journalist, Stephanie Mills. It begins with each one discussing their formative years and is brought to life by the accompaniment of brilliant archival footage. We watch video footage of fifties TV commercials for cars and new appliances; the early nuclear tests; the launch of the interstate highway system; Rachel Carson’s book launch; and the one-mile-long gas lines during the 1973 oil crisis. Not to mention the images of the breathtaking natural landscapes that inspired these activists to begin with.

As one listens to these prolific folks wax lyrical about what events most influenced their early decisions and were crucial to the formation of their ideologies, it is difficult to not be somewhat mesmerized by their passion, thoughtfulness, and compassion for the world around them. Each one is an accomplished storyteller, and each brings something unique to our understanding of the era. Steward Udall discusses his upbringing during the depression, a time when he learned to live simply and get sustenance from the earth, and when, he says, people were conservationists because they had to be. For Stephanie Mills it was the nuclear bomb that made her realize that humanity's survival was now in its own hands.

For many of these activists who grew up in the fifties with the idea that progress was everything and the idea that more material goods meant more happiness, their environmentalism grew out of disillusionment with the ideology of the time. Incredibly, despite the fact that it is now 30 years later, and the world is a very different place, many of their thoughts could apply to the ideology of today, and much of their disillusionment is the same disillusionment being felt by our generation.

More after the jump...

Call for Submissions: Netroots Nation Screening Series!!!

By Bec Zajac

Are you a filmmaker looking to share your work with a progressive audience? Looking for ways to promote your film among the liberal grassroots community? If so, Screening Liberally and Netroots Nation want to see your stuff!

For the third year in a row, Screening Liberally will be the proud host of the Netroots Nation Screening Series. We are currently calling for submissions for Netroots Nation 2010, coming to Las Vegas in July.

The deadline has been extended to Tuesday, April 6th! Time is running out; submit your film for Netroots Nation 2010.

Click here for submission instructions: http://ow.ly/1th08

More info after the jump!

Up in the Air, Down in the Dumps

By Bec Zajac

You know that feeling you get when you walk into a Starbucks that makes you cringe? And it’s not because your coffee’s not good or because the music is bad or because people aren’t friendly to you. Actually all those elements have been designed through extensive psychological testing to provide the perfect “coffee experience.” It’s because you just know somewhere deep in your gut that there’s something not quite right about it. I got an especially bad case of the “cringes” the other day when I read that Starbucks recently opened its first unbranded coffee shop in Seattle, 15th Avenue E Coffee and Tea. It is decorated with ‘one-of-a-kind’ fixtures and customers are invited to bring their own music for the stereo system to develop what the company calls a ‘community personality.” You have to look hard to find the small print on the menus: “inspired by Starbucks.” I got another bad case of the “cringes” recently when I read about Pepsi’s “Refresh Project,” for which Pepsi is dedicating $20 million to local organizations proposed by the public to tap into a booming trend of what is called “cause related marketing.”

Even though we’re all familiar with the feeling of the cringe, it’s often tricky to pinpoint exactly what causes it to occur… But, it’s exactly that feeling of cringe-iness that’s explored, dissected, and extrapolated upon in the new Clooney movie, Up in the Air, directed by Jason Reitman. Although I went in to the theatre expecting a movie about a guy who flies a lot (which does happen) and expecting a movie where George Clooney, as always, smiles sultrily at the camera a lot (which, of course, does happen too), what was most interesting to me about Up in the Air was the way it investigates the “cringe factor” and unravels what it means to live in our cultural moment, that is the moment of spin-saturated-double-soy-frapuccino-Mc-Have-a-Nice-Day-iCorporate-culture that has become so naturalized in America today. Indeed, it is no coincidence that the opening song is a jazzed up version of Woody Guthrie’s American classic This Land is Your Land. More after the jump...

Living Liberally Oscar Trivia Quiz

Created by Bec Zajac

Yes folks, it's time for the biggest political event of the season.... More controversial than the presidential elections, a damn sight sexier than the Democratic National Convention, wackier than the Conservative Political Action Conference, and more talked about than the National Tea Party Convention... It's the 82nd Annual Academy Awards!!! And this year, to spice it up a little for all you lefties out there, we've put together a “Who Am I?” about all your favorite pinko Oscar nominees. So turn those TVs up and put those thinking caps on for this year's …. "Living Liberally Oscar Trivia Quiz"

1) I drive a Toyota Prius? Who am I?

A – Meryl Streep
B – Maggie Gyllenhaal
C – Penelope Cruz
D – Sandra Bullock

2) A former Canadian Prime Minister is my great grandfather. Who am I?

A – Anna Kendrick
B – Christopher Plummer
C – Jeremy Renner
D – Stanley Tucci

3) Despite dropping out of high school, I have an IQ of 160. Who am I?

A – Quentin Tarantino
B – Lee Daniels
C – Vera Farmiga
D – Ethan Coen

4) I said, “"There is a need, especially right now in America, to be a bit provocative."

A – Kathryn Bigelow
B – Jason Reitman
C – T Bone Burnett
D – Maggie Gyllenhaal

5) Concerned about the lack of Hispanic-oriented sitcoms on American television, I approached George Lopez about producing a sitcom with him as the star.

A – Penelope Cruz
B – James Cameron
C – Sandra Bullock
D – Jason Reitman

6) I once criticized Sarah Palin, by comparing her candidacy to "a bad Disney movie." Who am I?

A – Randy Newman
B – Mo’Nique
C – Matt Damon
D – Meryl Streep

7) I won top honors at the Rome Film festival for my role in a movie about a gay love affair between two members of a neo-Nazi group.

A – Penelope Cruz
B – Helen Mirren
C – Carey Mulligan
D – Colin Firth

8) I was involved in an anti-coal reality campaign, which aimed to debunk "clean coal" industry propaganda.

A – Anna Kendrick
B – Ethan Coen
C – Jason Reitman
D – Woody Harrelson

9) I have been spotted marching in pro-abortion demonstrations held in Washington, D.C.

A – Meryl Streep
B – Stanley Tucci
C – Matt Damon
D – Maggie Gyllenhaal

10) I founded a non-government organization, which has set up a home, a school and a clinic for homeless girls and people suffering from tuberculosis in Calcutta.

A – George Clooney
B – Penelope Cruz
C – Stanley Tucci
D – Gabourey Sidibe

11) I once said, in describing the Bush administration, “The US and the world just didn't deserve these people. They're a good deal worse. They don't even know the rules.”

A –Peter Jackson
B – Christopher Plummer
C – Morgan Freeman
D – Randy Newman

12) I once took a bicycle tour down the west coast, escorted by the “Mothership,” a Chicago city transit bus fuelled by hemp oil and powered by solar panels.

A – Lee Daniels
B – Jeff Bridges
C – Maggie Gyllenhaal
D – Woody Harrelson

13) I said, “I always want to make films. I think of it as a great opportunity to comment on the world in which we live. …. There will always be issues I care about.”

A – Morgan Freeman
B – Matt Damon
C – Lee Daniels
D – Kathryn Bigelow

14) I am such a big "South Park" fan, I got a hold of Trey Parker, the creator of the series, and asked for a part in an episode. I was given the role of "Sparky," the gay dog.

A – Quentin Tarantino
B – George Clooney
C – Matt Damon
D – Peter Jackson

15) On moving to LA, before getting involved with the film industry, I worked for a nursing agency, and then, by the age of 21, had started my own. Who am I?

A – Jeremy Renner
B – Vera Farmiga
C – Lee Daniels
D – Sandra Bullock

16) I was passionate about dancing and toured with a Ukrainian folk-dancing company in my teens.

A – Vera Farmiga
B – Anna Kendrick
C – Christoph Waltz
D – Helen Mirren

17) I founded the End Hunger Network an organization aimed at encouraging and supporting action to end childhood hunger.

A – Helen Mirren
B – Colin Firth
C – Jeff Bridges
D –Mo’Nique

18) I said, "Then the September 11th attacks happened and the idea of a domestic comedy adventure film about an anti-terrorism unit just didn't seem all that funny to me anymore."

A – Quentin Tarantino
B – Kathryn Bigelow
C – James Cameron
D – Ethan Coen

19) I am the only actress to date to have a film, which was marketed with my name solely above the title, top the $200 million domestic box office mark. Who am I?

A – Meryl Streep
B – Helen Mirren
C – Penelope Cruz
D – Sandra Bullock

20) I have been referred to as having played Obama’s favorite “movie president.”

A – Morgan Freeman
B – Christopher Plummer
C – Jeff Bridges
D – George Clooney

21) I said, “I am not loving Obama - he made this statement when they were talking about what they were trying to accomplish with the new legislation on global warming and he said, ‘Let's not let great be the enemy of good.’ That just stayed with me and haunted me.”

A – Woody Harrelson
B – Gabourey Sidibe
C – Matt Damon
D – George Clooney

22) I once said, “I feel quite strongly about anti-Americanism. I share people's grievances about the current Administration ….”

A – Nick Hornby
B – Peter Jackson
C – Helen Mirren
D – Colin Firth

23) Before entering the movie industry, I was a truck driver. Who am I?

A – Jeremy Renner
B – Peter Jackson
C – James Cameron
D – T Bone Burnett

24) I proudly support the American Civil Liberties Union, participated in anti-war demonstrations, wore a peace sign pin in support of the organization ‘Artists United to Win Without War,’ and achieved some notoriety for being quoted as saying America was "responsible in some way" for the 9/11 attacks.

A – George Clooney
B – Maggie Gyllenhaal
C – Jeff Bridges
D – Quentin Tarantino

25) I was inducted into New Orleans’ Warren Easton High School “Hall of Fame” for my help rebuilding the school after Hurricane Katrina.

A – Kathryn Bigelow
B – Joel Coen
C – Morgan Freeman
D – Sandra Bullock

26) I said, “If celebrity is a credit card, I'm using my credit. My job is to try and find ways of talking about issues that move us forward. I don't make policy, but I can shine a light on faulty or good policy.” Who am I?

A – James Cameron
B – George Clooney
C – Ethan Coen
D – Meryl Streep

27) I made a documentary about the common factors that bring women into the penal system
A – Jason Reitman
B – Mo’Nique
C – Joel Coen
D – Helen Mirren

28) When I was 11, I got a suit and a briefcase, went to the Minneapolis International Airport with a Super 8 camera and made a movie about shuttle diplomacy called "Henry Kissinger, Man on the Go"

A – Quentin Tarantino
B – George Clooney
C – Jason Reitman
D – Joel Coen

29)I said, “The myth of the liberal media is one of the great jokes played on us. The media are owned lock, stock, and barrel by the right wing.”

A – Morgan Freeman
B – T Bone Burnett
C – Jeff Bridges
D – Ethan Coen

30) In a profile of me for the NY Times Magazine I notoriously mentioned that I am in an “open marriage.”

A – Maggie Gyllenhaal
B – Woody Harrelson
C – Mo’Nique
D – Peter Jackson

31) I once climbed the Golden Gate Bridge and put up a sign that read, "Hurwitz. Aren't ancient redwoods more precious than gold?" in protest of Pacific Lumber CEO Charles Hurwitz.

A – Sandra Bullock
B – Woody Harrelson
C – Jeff Bridges
D – Randy Newman

ANSWERS:
1) A 2) B 3) A 4) D 5) C 6) C 7) B 8) B 9) B 10) B 11) D 12) D13) D 14) B 15) B 16) A 17) C 18) C 19) D 20) C 21) A 22) D 23) C 24) B 25) D 26) B 27) B 28) D 29) B 30) C 31) B

Excuse Me, Mr. Speaker Ignites the Fire of Accountability

Wednesday, The Tank was filled to capacity with liberal agitators for a screening of Justin Sullivan’s new documentary, Excuse Me, Mr. Speaker. The intimate film follows Paul Newell’s 2008 campaign for state assembly against 32-year incumbent and assembly speaker, Sheldon Silver. Sullivan brings to the screen a palpable, often endearing portrait of a man, of a campaign resisting the seemingly indomitable momentum of incumbency. The film is a tireless, close piece of cinema, but also offers a window into the state of the current progressive movement, one which is bound to leave audiences (as the one Wednesday) inspired to organize, act, and work for real change.

The screening was followed by a panel discussion stocked with some of New York’s most impassioned rising progressives. Paul Newell, filmmaker Justin Sullivan, and Paul’s fiery campaign manager, Evan Hutchison, fielded questions about the film and the Newell campaign’s historic blasphemies. City Council candidates Yetta Kurland and Pete Gleason were also on-hand to provide insights about challenging the daunting inertia of incumbency.

These are people who understand election fraud occurs long before faulty voting machines and roll purges. The real charade is perpetrated by not having legitimate alternatives to the static machinations in Albany, Washington, and beyond. Candidates like Pete and Yetta threaten the stalled complacency of incumbent candidates.

And even when insurgents like Paul Newell don’t get the most votes, they accomplish their goals. Paul’s candidacy, as the film showed, was about more than kicking out Sheldon Silver. It was about making politicians earn their re-election, showing we won’t stand for unresponsive, non-transparent politics as usual. Campaigns like Paul’s, Yetta’s, and Pete’s harness the collective discontent of the progressive movement. Our representatives, as Yetta so passionately reminded, are accountable to us; they exist to serve the people and are by no means entitled to re-election. By fielding and supporting insurgent candidates, we light a fire under the asses of incumbents everywhere. We remind them, “You have to earn it.”

In closing, I feel compelled to mention one scene in the film I cannot get out of my head. Perhaps the most glowing moment in Excuse Me, Mr. Speaker comes when things are at their bleakest. After delivering his concession speech to a room full of disheartened supporters, Paul quietly consoles a volunteer, “It matters.” In that moment, Newell is speaking to all of us, to the cynical urges that make us want to give up resisting the machine. Thanks, Paul for reminding all of us that success doesn’t have to mean electoral victory. Win or lose, it matters.