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If we can catch up, kids: Rudy was named Time's Man of the Year (an honor previously attained by Hitler and Stalin—yes, I know that's a cheap shot, but so's your Mother); a freak went aboard a plane with a rigged sneaker (thereby redefining "Those shoes are the bomb!"); and Madonna reportedly made hubby reshoot movie footage when she didn't care for the way she looked. (Perhaps they should stick the finished product in the heel of a psychopath's Manolo Blahnik.)

And Hollywood already released a whole batch of cinematic sour balls, aggressively putting runs in our Christmas stockings. (By the way, can I please have a quarter for every Oscar wannabe Rolling Stone calls "one of the best movies of the year"?) The upshot? Well, Ali lacks a certain, er, punch, and if, like me, you don't like boxing, chances are you won't particularly care for, duh, a boxing film. The equally lengthy Lord of the Rings is beautiful and grandiose, like an old Cecil B. DeMille epic on extra crack, but honey, I was bored shitless. One more close-up of someone holding the damned ring and this thing would be ready for the Home Shopping Club.

The Majestic—which posed an even more serious nuclear threat than India-versus-Pakistan—is also pristinely shot, but it's much more banal than the original Hollywood clichés it's paying homage to. I saw only the first half, but noticed that Jim Carrey has become hideously life-affirming, earnestly underacting in a way that's really just another form of overacting. ( Russell Crowe —you know, "He's smart! He's schizo! He's straight!"—is way better at that kind of flashy subtlety.) And Kate & Leopold offensively trades on Breakfast at Tiffany's, repeatedly alluding to that chestnut as if this will automatically invest it with classic New York love story status. The difference between the two movies? "Wider than a mile." (On the bright side, at least Monsters, Inc. has a really hot sex scene. No, wait, that was Monster's Ball. Never mind.)

Just another small-town Saturday night: the scene at D.C.’s Velvet Nation
photo: Michael Wighita/courtesy Metro Weekly
Just another small-town Saturday night: the scene at D.C.’s Velvet Nation

The murder-among-the-lobsters drama In the Bedroom remains the favorite of a lot of critics—"one of the best," etc.—and Marisa Tomei will no doubt nab a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for it. Ring any bells? Tomei infamously beat out three Brits and an Aussie for an Oscar in '92, and people have been bitching and moaning ever since, insistently claiming the wrong name was read by the presenter. Well, this year, she'll probably be up against the high-toned, accented likes of Maggie Smith , Helen Mirren , and Kate Winslet , and I can already hear the caterwauling. Shut the fuck up, youse—she's good!

And now—I'm good—let's pack up our lobsters and move on to Washington, D.C., one of the gayest places on earth, not to mention one of the best movies of the year! (I just went.) In Dupont Circle—a/k/a the Fruit Loop—and beyond, the queers are everywhere, gagging at the architecture, delighting in the power plays, and marveling at the afternoon sex parties. In between all the political posturing, there are enough recreational options for you to retain veto power. At a pre-Stonewallish gay steak house named Annie's, the gay steak is tasty and the flamboyant waiter will gladly tell you the history of his jewelry. Rather have chicken? You can quietly grope a go-go boy at Secrets, a tunnel-like hangout studded with boyishly diverse dancers who gleefully flash their wee-wees. (In New York, that's topped only by XXX Thursdays at the Hole, where they actually do things with their wee-wees; thank God that Man of the Year was only for last year).

Crawl through Secrets' men's room—it's basically a small town—and you get to something called Ziegfeld's, where the trannies put on a cabaret show with retro material ( Liza Minnelli 's "Cabaret") and banter ("Everybody say, 'Hey, bitch!' "), though the spirits sometimes get as high as the hair. As a special treat, a Secrets go-go boy doubles as a spiritual singer, gravely massacring "O Holy Night" with clothes on. But the real stars are the audience, who make a point of grandly tipping the performers, a ritual that lifts them out of repression and bonds them to the gay experience. (I'd rather be cheap.)

Apparently, straights will pay to be part of the experience, too. A ballsy Adams Morgan area restaurant called Perry's brings out a handful of hets for a $22.95 drag brunch that doesn't even include coffee. What it did get us was a show featuring some of the same queens we'd seen the previous night at Ziegfeld's! (I told you it's a small town.) Stick to Velvet Nation Saturdays at Nation, a zesty, sprawling dance club where the eclectic patrons adopt a self-deprecating attitude ("D.C. is the worst"), a sentiment that prompts them to festively jump on any New Yorkers that come around. My friends and I were descended on by three shirtless guys on both Oxy-10 and "oxycotton" who ground their butts into our crotches within five seconds of saying hello. Forget the Washington Monument; we found the real landmarks, and it's not such a small town after all.

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