Oklahoma State’s Samantha Show is your new queen of bat flips

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Oklahoma State pitcher Sam Show is lighting up the Women’s College World Series

Calling it a bat flip is a gross understatement. When Oklahoma State’s Samantha Show hit her second home run of the day — the home run that wound up carrying the Cowgirls over the Florida Gators 2-1 in the opening round of the Women’s College World Series — she lifted the bat up over her head and slammed it down on the ground. (OSU fans have already made shirts immortalizing the moment.) Technically, the bat did flip, tumbling end over end towards the dugout as Show rounded the bases.

Was it a flip? A slam? A Gronk spike?

Show prefers “bat tomahawk.” “It’s funny, it’s something different,” she said on the phone, a few hours before her team took on top-seeded Oklahoma. “Personally, I’ve never seen a baseball player do anything like that.”

The East Bernard, Texas native is OSU’s marquee pitcher and hitter, with a 2.38 ERA, .333 average and 20 home runs after transferring into the program for her senior year. Show’s scrappy, no. 13-seeded squad wasn’t supposed to win at all in the super-regionals, much less defeat defending champs Florida State in Tallahassee. Their victory Thursday over Florida was program’s first World Series win since 1998, making the team textbook Cinderellas.

The textbook Cinderellas are still competing, hoping that their nothing-to-lose swagger will lead them to improbable triumph. Thursday’s game was hardly the first time Show has given a team bulletin board material. In fact, Show (conveniently, her last name rhymes with “wow”) has earned something of a reputation for putting a little extra juice on the bat when she knows she’s gone yard.

“It doesn’t happen every time,” she insists, explaining that she’ll only flip her bat if she knows instantly it’s out of the park — and if the run gives her team a tie or the lead. “Whenever the ball’s hit and I know it’s out, I have so many strong emotions inside me. If I could, I would just sit there and not know what to do. But obviously I have to run around the base pads, so my emotions come out in my bat.”

Just as it would in baseball, her propensity to flip has become a point of contention in softball circles. Before the Oklahoma State-Florida game, for example, ESPN spliced footage of Show and Florida pitcher Kelly Barnhill talking about their approach to one of the sport’s most infamous “unwritten rules.”

“I don’t like bat flips,” Barnhill said in the clip. “I understand getting hyped and excited, but … act like you’ve been been there.” Naturally, they aired it again once the Florida pitcher and her team had taken the L — and one of the most memorable bat flips the sport has ever seen.

“It’s funny, because my first bat flip was actually off her last year,” says Show, who faced off with Barnhill during SEC play with Texas A&M. “I understand pitchers not liking it, but I’ve never shown up a pitcher when doing it. It’s always for the team — for the girls and for our fans. If a hitter were to do that to me, I gotta tip my hat to them. If they’re crushing balls like that off me, then I can’t be mad because I know I’m leaving pitches where they’re able to be hit that hard and that far.”

Show had never considered flipping her bat until last season when Texas A&M hired a new hitting coach, Keith Stein. Stein had played baseball for the Aggies, and Show says he encouraged players to show out more in the batter’s box.

“When we did hitting groups, he would tell us to stand in the box and watch our ball go — and if you wanted to, to just kind of bat flip afterwards,” says Show. “Honestly, I had never really seen it done in softball — and I’ve had some balls hit off me that are probably still going. I wound up being the only one who did it in a game. It just kind of became who I am.”

Flipping her bat is just one facet of Show’s larger-than-life persona on the diamond.

She favors thick smears of eye black that inevitably smudge over the course of the game. “It’s always just been fun to me — it’s like my softball makeup,” she says. “Softball and baseball are dirty sports. I don’t want it to look as good at the end of the game as it did at the beginning.” In high school, she painted a K on each cheek — one forward and one backward — and covered them with green glitter. “Because, ‘money,’” Show explains patiently.

The pitcher’s walk-up song is a remix of the theme from Saw because she wanted “something that would freak the other team out,” says Show. “Something that would catch them off guard, so they would say, ‘What are we getting ourselves into?’”

courtesy of Oklahoma State University Athletics

That’s the question that’s long followed Show, for reasons both good and bad. She’s tall — 6’ — strong and ruthlessly competitive, sometimes to the point of abrasiveness. The same things that make her no-holds-barred style of play so fun to watch, her fierce individuality and relentless fire, have long made it challenging for her to connect with her teammates and coaches.

“She’s kind of a polarizing person,” her coach Ken Gajewski said in a postgame press conference last weekend. “She walks to her own tune.” In the same press conference, her teammate Madi Sue Montgomery explained that they had had a players-only meeting at the beginning of the year without her. “We just let each other know that if we took what she was saying and not necessarily how she says it, it was for the best of the team,” said Montgomery.

“I know that I’m difficult,” says Show. “Growing up, when my teammates weren’t always as serious about softball as I was, I never really had a lot of friends on my team just because my main goal was winning. I wasn’t necessarily liked, but I would do anything to win.”

She was immersed in softball early; her dad was her first coach, and her two older half-siblings played softball and baseball. But even when she was just dabbling in a sport, from basketball to bowling, her father insisted that she push herself to be great. Show credits him for her drive.

“He wouldn’t let me mess around, he wanted me to be the best,” she says. “By the time I was in middle school P.E., I would be out there with the boys throwing the football around and getting upset because they wouldn’t catch the ball, or playing dodgeball and literally throwing the ball as hard as I could because I wanted to win that badly.”

Male friends provided some solace. “I would go to watch them play baseball and wish that I could be out there with them, because of how competitive they were,” says Show. She also loved watching MLB players, and still takes them as a model for how she approaches the game.

“I really admire the way that baseball players play with so much swag and confidence,” she says. “Some of them are cocky and arrogant, but if that’s how you’re going to be you definitely have to back it up with how you play. They’re being true to who they are and having fun playing the game.”

courtesy of Oklahoma State University Athletics

Somewhere along the way, she lost that swag — the swag that came from breaking into the starting lineup as a freshman in high school and earning countless all-state honors, the swag that had her painting green glitter Ks on her cheeks because she knew she was money. At Texas A&M, she never performed to her own incredibly high expectations. “Going into college it was just a whole different world, and I was trying to be someone who I wasn’t,” she says. “The competitiveness in me kind of went away.”

Show went to her mom, who told her, “I want you to go out and be 10-year-old Sam.” “When I was younger, I threw hard but I never knew where it was going,” says Show. “I was effectively wild. But I needed that — to just kind of let loose and throw the ball as hard as I can and not really care what happens. I wish I would have done it sooner.”

Then came the bat flips, the Saw theme and ultimately her transfer to Oklahoma State, where she says that she found a staff that would be real with her. “[Gajewski] has honestly been the only person who would say those kinds of things to my face, and I think that goes to show what kind of coach he is,” says Show. “He didn’t shy away from the challenge, if you will, of coaching me. I would hope that I’m not as difficult to work with now, but I don’t know,” she concludes, laughing.

Now, Show has taken on a leadership role by encouraging her teammates to — you guessed it — flip their bats.

“If there’s one thing I can really get across, it’s that you’re going to be the happiest when you’re playing as you and not trying to conform, or be a cutout of who coaches want you to be,” she says. “You have to have so much confidence in this game, and there are a couple girls on the team who I could tell right off the bat didn’t have that confidence. You have to go in there thinking you’re the best hitter — that you’re better than that pitcher in the circle. Hitting home runs is hard. You don’t necessarily have to flip your bat but if you hit a home run, admire it and be proud of what you just did. I think we should admire our hard work.”

Show knows that attitude puts some people off, that they might see it as showy or arrogant. She gets booed, and doesn’t care. “The first time, I honestly laughed,” says Show. “In my head, as weird as it sounds, I was like, alright, I’ve made it. Like, people are watching me and they don’t necessarily like what I’m doing, but they’re watching me.”

Thanks to her bat flip, there are certainly a few more eyes on the Women’s College World Series. “As crazy as it is, there are a lot of people on Twitter who are like, ‘Now I’m going to start watching softball,’” Show says. “It’s growing the sport — for good or bad, at least people know that the World Series is going on right now.”

Show’s bravado and swagger have put her on the map precisely because so far, she’s been able to back up her big talk and bigger flips. Fittingly, her Twitter location is “BIG BALLER ATTITUDE” — an allusion inspired by exactly what you would expect.

“I’m a huge supporter of the Ball family,” says Show. “Lavar Ball and his attitude — the Big Baller way, just knowing you’re the best. That’s kind of how I’ve taken this year, just knowing that if I’m facing a batter that I’m better than them and when I’m in the box, I’m better than that pitcher. Reminding myself to be the best that I can be, and reminding myself to attack every day with confidence that no one is going to beat me at what I do.”


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House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler Taken To Hospital After Health Scare At NYC Press Conference: Gothamist

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Michael_Novakhov
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from Gothamist.

052419nadlerdown.jpg
(Mayor’s Office livestream)

A press conference on the reauthorization of New York City speed cameras was cut short on Friday after Congressman Jerry Nadler suffered a medical issue on the podium.

Nadler, the 71-year-old chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, appeared to briefly lose consciousness during the Q&A portion of the Upper West Side briefing.

“You seem a little dehydrated, brother,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio, handing him a water bottle as a voice over the loud speaker declared a “code blue” in the gymnasium. Medical personnel quickly surrounded Nadler, and the room was cleared of reporters and advocates.

A spokesperson for Nadler’s office told Gothamist that “he is okay. Seems to have been dehydrated and it was very warm in the room. He was sitting down so did not faint or anything. He is responsive and receiving a check-up.” Reporters on the scene said he appeared to be in “okay spirits,” and photos show him smiling.


De Blasio, Nadler and several elected officials had gathered at the West End school to tout a “rapid expansion” of speed cameras in the city, following the passage of a state law reauthorizing the program earlier this month. Starting in July, the cameras will expand to 750 school zones, with extended hours of operation, including on summer weekdays and evenings.

The mayor also said he will begin pushing for reforms in Albany to escalate fines and suspend vehicle registration for repeat speeding and red-light offenders. A spokesperson for the Mayor’s Office did not respond to Gothamist’s inquiries about whether he supported similar legislation in the City Council.

On Thursday, Nadler told MSNBC that he’d spoken to Special Counsel Robert Mueller about his investigation into Trump, and that Mueller was prepared to testify in private before Congress.

UPDATE: Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters outside the press conference it seemed Nadler was “just taking a little nap for a moment. I put my hand on his shoulder and said, ‘Jerry are you okay?’ He didn’t respond right away.”

The mayor added that “after a few minutes he started coming back to his energetic self,” speculating that it was probably just dehydration. Nadler has since been removed from the premises in an ambulance. President Trump has not tweeted about the episode…yet.


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mikenov on Twitter: portable directed energy weapons disguised as video recording equipment – Google Search google.com/search?newwind…

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portable directed energy weapons disguised as video recording equipment – Google Search google.com/search?newwind…


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mikenov on Twitter: Michael Novakhov on fainting episode of Hillary Clinton on 9/11 Ceremony in 2016 – Google Search google.com/search?newwind…

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Michael Novakhov on fainting episode of Hillary Clinton on 9/11 Ceremony in 2016 – Google Search google.com/search?newwind…


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mikenov on Twitter: The #TrumpInvestigationsBlog by #MichaelNovakhov – #Review Of #News And #Opinions: 2:12 PM 6/1/2019 – #AttentionFBI: #Compare with fa… trumpinvestigations.blogspot.com/2019/06/attent…

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The #TrumpInvestigationsBlog by #MichaelNovakhov – #Review Of #News And #Opinions: 2:12 PM 6/1/2019 – #AttentionFBI: #Compare with fa… trumpinvestigations.blogspot.com/2019/06/attent…


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mikenov on Twitter: Attention FBI: Compare with fainting episode of Hillary Clinton on 9/11 Ceremony in 2016. This certainly is not the “Dehydration”, and the circumstances are very similar. I described the concerning and puzzling elements in Mrs. Clinton episode in one of… cnn.it/2wgg1sd

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Attention FBI:
Compare with fainting episode of Hillary Clinton on 9/11 Ceremony in 2016. This certainly is not the “Dehydration”, and the circumstances are very similar. I described the concerning and puzzling elements in Mrs. Clinton episode in one of… cnn.it/2wgg1sd


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“FBI politicization” – Google News: House Intelligence chief Adam Schiff warns spy agencies of Trump ‘politicization’ – Yahoo Finance

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House Intelligence chief Adam Schiff warns spy agencies of Trump ‘politicization’  Yahoo Finance

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff on Friday warned the FBI and spy agencies that President Trump is attempting to “politicize” U.S. …

“FBI politicization” – Google News


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“Trump anxiety” – Google News: Italy to evict Steve Bannon’s academy from monastery – POLITICO.eu

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Michael_Novakhov
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from 1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (197 sites).

Italy to evict Steve Bannon’s academy from monastery  POLITICO.eu

Trump’s former chief strategist planned to use alt-right academy to build European nationalist movement.

“Trump anxiety” – Google News


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Does Hollywood fail gay actors who are out from the start?

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Chris and Rupert

Gay Pride wasn’t born yesterday, but at 50 this month, it’s never been more vital. That’s due, in part, to Rupert Everett, who was something of a pioneer in the movement as it entered adulthood. The 60-year-old actor came out in 1989, five years into his filmography, back when it still was considered certain career suicide to do so.

I’ve always thought of Everett as a successful actor, so I was surprised to come across a 2009 The Guardian profile in which he lamented the effect coming out had had on his career. He also cautioned aspiring gay thespians against making the same mistake: “I would not advise any actor necessarily, if he was really thinking of his career, to come out.”

His rant began with this: “The fact is that you could not be, and still cannot be, a 25-year-old homosexual trying to make it in the British film business or the American film business or even the Italian film business. It just doesn’t work, and you’re going to hit a brick wall at some point.”

Everett has enjoyed a solid, if not quite spectacular, 35-year career, so it’s tempting to dismiss his gripes as bitterness over its occasionally jagged trajectory, but consider this: If he had come out much later or not at all, would his early promise as the next Cary Grant — or a British Rock Hudson — have translated to eventual superstardom?

Although openly gay actors now can find fairly gainful employment, especially if they look like, say, Matt Bomer, and can be mistaken for straight, we still don’t have one of Will Smith’s or Bradley Cooper’s A-list caliber.

No openly gay actor has ever won a performing Oscar (Kevin Spacey, Sir John Gielgud, and Cabaret’s Joel Grey were not publicly out when they grabbed their gold), and even bisexual and sexually/gender fluid ones hit that brick wall. Nico Tortorella has publicly identified as all three, and that might partly explain why he has yet to parlay his exposure on Younger and his leading-man good looks into substantial TV roles.

It’s harder to answer that definitively than it is to blame Everett’s Oscar snub for playing Will to Julia Roberts’ Grace in the 1997 hit My Best Friend’s Wedding on an Academy that’s more likely to be floored by a straight actor negotiating a gay character with such finesse (see Rami Malek’s and Mahershala Ali’s 2019 wins — and even Olivia Colman’s). Did the Academy pass over him despite his receiving rave reviews and Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations because voters assumed he was just playing himself?

We’ll never know for sure, but by choosing the courageous road less taken, Everett may have instantly pigeonholed himself. That’s something any fledgling gay actor should consider. While there are benefits to being out from the start — never having to worry about the dreaded tabloid expose, for one — there are potential hazards.

If you claim stardom as a gay character, you run the risk of being typecast. This is particularly true if you don’t fit the “bro”-gay standard. Chris Colfer won a Golden Globe as the openly gay Kurt Hummel on Glee, but according to Wikipedia, most of his post-Glee TV credits have been playing himself — literally.

Four-time Emmy winner David Hyde Pierce never hid his sexual orientation, but he probably owes his longevity to staying quiet about it for so long. Had he been out of the closet during Frasier’s heyday, would viewers have been as invested in Niles’s romance with Daphne?

Like Pierce, Neil Patrick Harris, Matt Bomer, Zachary Quinto, and Ben Whishaw, all waited until they were fairly established before coming out as gay, which might have been wise of them. Harris probably wouldn’t have been cast as the womanizing Barney Stinson on How I Met Your Mother if he had outed himself 10 years earlier than he did. That the show’s popularity didn’t suffer after he came out in 2006, though, shows that Hollywood underestimates the viewing public’s capacity to suspend disbelief.

Quinto has worked steadily since coming out in 2011, but his profile is considerably lower than that of his straight Star Trek costar Chris Pine. Meanwhile, Whishaw has won rave reviews, a Golden Globe and a BAFTA for playing Hugh Grant’s lover in the 2018 TV miniseries A Very English Scandal, but the onetime frontrunner for the role of Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody watched the part (and the Oscar) go to the more marketing-friendly (i.e., straight) Rami Malek.

Speaking of Mercury, music wasn’t particularly hospitable to gay and bisexual men when the late Queen frontman was alive or even for decades after he died. Coming out didn’t hurt the professional standing of Elton John in 1976, George Michael in the early ’90s, or Ricky Martin in 2010, but all three were already well-established by that time. Had they not been, Elton’s 1970-76 commercial peak, Michael’s Grammy-winning Faith, and Martin’s “Livin’ la Vida Loca” might never have happened.

The times, they are a-changing in music, though. Adam Lambert, Sam Smith, and Troye Sivan were out pretty much from the start, and all three have done well anyway. Then there is Frank Ocean, whose success still begs unavoidable questions: Did Channel Orange, his 2012 debut album, sell 131,000 copies in the U.S. during its first week because of the publicity surrounding his pre-release admission that his first love had been a man? Or did it sell that many in spite of it?

Was Ocean more acceptable because he resisted labeling himself as gay or bisexual, and veers far from the stereotypical campy gay man? I wonder how fans and the hip-hop community would have reacted had he come out and said, “I’m gay,” then showed up on a red carpet holding a man’s hand the week of the album’s release. Would Channel Orange still have done as well as it did?

At least the music industry occasionally bows down to gay pride. Hollywood merely curtsies politely. The movies still treat straight actors playing gay with far more respect. Until filmmakers respond to our gay pride with more gay pride of their own, the likes of Rami Malek and Mahershala Ali will continue to reap all the greatest benefits of living our lives.


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mikenov on Twitter: The Trump Investigations Blog by Michael Novakhov – Review Of News And Opinions: MAAGGA-Mugger Trump will run in 2020! Heil The N… trumpinvestigations.blogspot.com/2019/06/maagga…

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The Trump Investigations Blog by Michael Novakhov – Review Of News And Opinions: MAAGGA-Mugger Trump will run in 2020! Heil The N… trumpinvestigations.blogspot.com/2019/06/maagga…


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Wilson Cruz’s costume, Ronnie Woo’s meat, & Cody Christian’s facial

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This week a racist gay bar reversed its ban on rap music, a storm chasing meteorologist proposed to his boyfriend in front of a tornado, and Aaron Schock’s nudes “leaked” online. Here’s what happened on Instagram:

Jacob Bixenman got a tan.

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happy birthday @jacobbix you’re old

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Antoni Porowski posed on the pool table.

Chris Marchant made friends.

Darren Young found happiness at DragCon.

Jake Miller kept his clothes on.

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Summers comin ???: @spottedmagph

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Bradley Kim went to the beach.

Simon Dunn adjusted his shades.

Milk told a story.

Amini Fonua read a book.

Wilson Cruz was a pirate.

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#FireIsland #BiffBash

A post shared by Wilson Cruz (@wcruz73) on

Jimmy Fowlie wore pink.

Matty Lee picked his teeth.

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Don’t bite your nails people ?? #caughtoffguard

A post shared by Matty Lee (@mattydiver) on

Dan Tracer spun the color wheel.

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reclaiming orange ?

A post shared by Dan Tracer (@daniel_tracer) on

Cody Christian took care of himself.

Gus Kenworthy made it to San Francisco.

Jaden Smith graced the cover of Flaunt magazine.

Ronnie Woo ate meat on meat on meat on meat.

Justin Bieber hit the gym shirtless.

Andrew Walko climbed a waterfall.

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?

A post shared by Andrew Walko (@ajwalko) on

Joshua Christie caught a beach ball.

Patrick McDonald took a bath.

Tom Daley took a break.

Sam Asghari took a hike.

Travis Wall trained his dog.

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Obey my dog

A post shared by Travis Wall (@traviswall) on

Le1f flexed.

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i’ve been on a strict watagatapitusberry diet ?

A post shared by Le1f ? (@khalif) on

Cheyenne Parker sat in bed.

Ryan Cooper did some sit-ups.

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It’s that time again… #vanitypost ? – @smiggi

A post shared by Ryan Cooper (@mrryancooper) on

Seth Tyler held a cat.

And Jake Shears slipped into something a little more comfortable.


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mikenov on Twitter: The FBI News Review: New German Russian Strategic And Intelligence Partnership And The US Germany Russia Relations Trianglehttps://fbinewsreview.blogspot.com/2019/06/new-german-russian-strategic-and.html?spref=tw

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The FBI News Review:
New German Russian Strategic And Intelligence Partnership And The US Germany Russia Relations Trianglehttps://fbinewsreview.blogspot.com/2019/06/new-german-russian-strategic-and.html?spref=tw


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on Saturday, June 1st, 2019 3:38pm

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This former boy bander and his groom-to-be are expecting a baby

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Life just gets better and better for Markus Feehily, the youngest member of the Irish boy band Westlife. The 39-year-old announced his engagement to partner Cailean O’Neill in February, and now he says the couple is expecting a baby.

Related: The Boy Band Project hits the gym and the showers in summer bop

Feehily announced the good news with an Instagram photo in which he and O’Neill admire a sonogram image of the incoming addition to their family. “It really makes this my most special birthday EVER to let everyone know that later this year we will become Dads for the first time,” he captioned the May 28 post. “This is the proudest moment of our lives and we are beyond excited to say it out loud!”

The singer, who came out as gay in a 2005 interview, expressed his drive to be a father in a recent interview with The Mail on Sunday. “Listen, that is absolutely a dream for me when it happens,” he said at the time. “I say when it happens because it will happen. It is absolutely the next step.”

“Everything is exciting,” he added. “Sometimes your work is amazing, but your personal life is in trouble. Sometimes the personal life is great, but you have no work. When the two come together, it is the perfect harmony, and that is where I am at, and hopefully, it will stay like that.”

Related: ‘I’m in love’: Andy Cohen’s baby boy is here!

Cheers to the fathers to be!


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John Waters Tells Bill Maher About Tripping on Acid During Provincetown’s Bear Week: WATCH

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Filmmaker and “filth elder” John Waters sat down with Bill Maher on Friday night to talk about ageism, fame, being respectable, political correctness, Provincetown, Stonewall, and recently taking acid with his muse and the star of many of his films, Mink Stole.

Said Waters of his recent LSD trip: “I had such nostalgia remembering that phlegm in your throat right before you blast off.”

Waters also talked about Provincetown, where he spends his summers, and the various theme weeks they have in town: “Bear Week is overweight, hairy gay men. But they’re gettin’ fatter. I’m telling ya. I saw one. I thought it was a hedge but it was a person. And when we were tripping, it was Bear Week, we didn’t go out. I couldn’t do Bear Week tripping.”

“They have every week,” Waters continued. “They have Gay Pilots Week. Who ever thought of that? Analingus week. That’s coming!”

And for anyone coming to Provincetown over the summer at any time, follow our Facebook page and Instagram for Ptown Hacks, Towleroad’s 6th annual guide to Provincetown. Our 2019 guide will be dropping very shortly and you will be first to hear about it, and everything new that’s happening in town this summer, including all of the theme weeks.

Waters also talked with Maher about Stonewall: “Who ever thought it was the same day Judy Garland died? Could there be that gay a day?

The post John Waters Tells Bill Maher About Tripping on Acid During Provincetown’s Bear Week: WATCH appeared first on Towleroad Gay News.


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The Marc Gasol trade was Masai Ujiri’s other ‘high-risk’, high-reward masterpiece

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The Raptors’ general manager gets praise for the Kawhi Leonard trade, but getting Marc Gasol was just as important.

We spend a lot of time raving about the biggest trade of Masai Ujiri’s career, the one in which he traded DeMar DeRozan and Jakob Poeltl to the Spurs for Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green. We should spend a lot of time talking about that trade, because it was bold, it was brilliant. It worked.

But there was a trade after that one that still doesn’t get nearly as much attention as it deserves: the trade for Marc Gasol.

The Raptors picked up Gasol at the 2019 trade deadline for Jonas Valanciunas, C.J. Miles, Delon Wright, and a future second round pick. Toronto didn’t give up a lot in terms of a single critical piece, but it wasn’t exactly a trash bag package either. Valanciunas had been a starter for years, is seven years younger than Gasol, and had a strong on-court rapport with Kyle Lowry. Miles and Wright were having down seasons, but represented part of the Raptors’ strong depth. Ujiri gave up youth at the center position and depth to make a play for a 34-year-old big man with a $26 million player option for next season.

It worked.

In the 56 games before the Gasol trade, the Raptors had the No. 5 net rating in the NBA with the No. 7 offense and No. 8 defense, per NBA.com’s stats page. Toronto was No. 23 in the league in three-point shooting (34.5 percent) and No. 22 in assist percentage (57.8 percent). In the 26 games after acquiring Gasol, the Raptors had the No. 4 net rating in the league with the No. 9 offense and No. 3 defense.

But the offense didn’t actually become less efficient: other offenses just scored that much more efficiently. And Toronto’s offense got better in two key ways. With Gasol in town, the Raptors were the No. 1 ranked three-point shooting team (41 percent) and jumped to No. 4 in assist percentage (65.5 percent).

In their Game 1 win over the Warriors to open the NBA Finals, the Raptors shot 13-33 (39 percent) from three and assisted on 64 percent of their makes. Pretty good. And while Golden State ended up scoring at a rather efficient rate, Toronto’s defense caused problems for the Warriors throughout.

Any worries about whether Gasol would be able to provide a superior level of defense to Valanciunas against high-level foes were answered in the previous two series against the Bucks and 76ers. But Gasol is still showing why Ujiri pulled the trigger on the trade here in the NBA Finals. Look at this large 34-year-old move!

Gasol helps double-team Klay Thompson in the post, forcing Thompson to pass out to Andre Iguodala, who swings to Draymond Green, who looks like he has a wide open Jordan Bell under the rim … until Gasol rotates back into position to nab a steal. Marc doesn’t look like an immobile lumbering center here, does he?

The Gasol-Lowry pick-and-roll has also become a divine entry point into Toronto’s offense when Kawhi isn’t just destroying opponents in isolation. In fact, much of Pascal Siakam’s glorious Game 1 can be traced back to action off of the Gasol-Lowry pick-and-roll, with the Warriors shading help as Gasol receives the ball off a mismatch. This is attention that Valanciunas, lord love him, would not be getting.

Also, of course, Gasol scored 20 points on open threes and pick-and-pop buckets, which is almost gravy on a night when Siakam, Fred VanVleet, and Kawhi also scored a bunch of points as well.

The other beautiful piece of the Gasol trade beyond the positive on-court impact — this trade could end up as a critical ingredient of a freaking NBA championship — is that it simplified the offseason for Ujiri.

Valanciunas has $17.6 million player option for next season. At 27 years old, as a starting NBA center who is probably somewhere between the top 10 at his position and just above average, there is a real chance the Lithuanian opts out to become an unrestricted free agent. Toronto stood to either have to pay him big money like they did for Lowry and DeRozan, or watch him walk for nothing. (And if not this summer, next summer when the contract ends completely.)

Gasol also has that large player option, but he’s much older and quite possibly looking for a career denouement in lieu of another giant payday. Odds are Gasol will opt in to run it back with the Raptors no matter if Leonard sticks around, and then will sign a 2- or 3-year smaller contract to finish out his NBA career in Toronto or elsewhere. Who knows what the Raptors will look like then, anyway?

Gasol didn’t exactly save the Raptors money, but the trade did protect Ujiri from having to pay Valanciunas this summer or next, and that fits with the high-risk, high-reward orientation toward trying to win it all this season with Kawhi in tow. It’s probably time to break up the Raptors as we know them if Leonard leaves in the summer, title or not. That would have meant trading or letting Valanciunas walk anyway. With the Gasol trade, Ujiri fast-forwarded to that scene, putting the incumbent center’s timeline with the Raptors on the same timeline as Kawhi’s.

So really, there wasn’t a huge risk here. If Gasol didn’t materially improve the team (he did), he was a big salary hit for one additional season, but prevented a multi-year financial hit or a free agent walkway from Valanciunas. If Gasol did make the team noticeably better, all that still applies and the team gets a shot at a title. It’s more like a low-risk, high-reward trade … much like the Kawhi blockbuster.

This is part of Ujiri’s genius: he somehow makes obvious, high-upside trades look like risky maneuvers by doing the unexpected and always building upon what he has instead of tearing down. In retrospect, the Gasol trade was an obvious win; the question was to what degree it would be a net positive for Toronto. Based on the results so far, with the Raptors up 1-0 in the NBA Finals, it’s looking very, very good.


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How Armistead Maupin created a whole new and wonderful vision of gay life

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Name: Armistead Maupin, 75

Who He Is: Author, activist

How He’s Contributed: Maupin grew up in North Carolina as the son of a powerful lawyer. After serving several tours in the Navy, including a stint in Vietnam, he landed in television journalism, working for future right-wing Senator Jessie Helms. Helms and Maupin would later become arch rivals during the AIDS crisis when Helms opposed HIV research and referred to gay men as “morally sick wretches.”

“I’ve changed and he hasn’t,” Maupin deadpanned years later.

Maupin came out in 1974. Around the same time, he began writing Tales of the City, stories serialized in the San Francisco Chronicle revolving around a diverse group of friends living in the same San Francisco apartment building. The stories earned wide acclaim for their loving portraits of Maupin’s chosen city and for their groundbreaking portrayal of the warm family values of gay life. He would later migrate the stories to novel form, penning a whopping nine books over a period of 30 years. The books drew a generation of gay men and lesbians to San Francisco, looking for their own form of the community Maupin lived and imagined.

The series would also see three television adaptations beginning in 1993—Tales of the City, More Tales of the City, and Further Tales of the City—starring Laura Linney and Olympia Dukakis. A final installment premieres on Netflix in June. Maupin’s semiautobiographical novel The Night Listener became a film in 2006, starring Robin Williams in one of his best performances. Through it all, Maupin remained a vocal advocate of equality through the height of the AIDS epidemic to the present day. He became one of the first fiction writers to address the subject of HIV in Babycakes, the fourth Tales installment. Trans characters played key roles in his early books, but by the time the Netflix series came around a new creative team was updating the vastly less white and less cisgender male world that Maupin created.

Why We’re Proud: Forty years after its inception, Tales of the City looms as one of the defining works of American literature because of the breakthrough positive portrayal of gay characters. The eccentric residents of Barbary Lane feel like real, warm-hearted friends who just happened to stop by for a drink, toke, or dinner. This was a massive shift from earlier literary portraits of queer people as pathetic, lonesome or even evil who end up dead in the end.

Instead, Maupin drew his characters as often more full of life, community, and warmth than their non-gay counterparts and the lives they left behind in less diverse and even repressive parts of the country. Both the novels and subsequent TV series have given LGBTQ people a roadmap to the communal and social joys of gay life, not just the sexual ones, often overlooked by the mainstream.

The message: You can create your own family and live a life full of love, adventure, and friendship. It’s good to be gay.

As Maupin told BigFib in 2008: 

When I came along and started to write, the image presented in gay literature was pretty damn grim. And soon I realized that it didn’t have to be that way. If you chose your friends carefully and behaved in a way that was worthy of love, then you could escape from that terrible fate—of being a depressed old queen. And you know, I have my ups and downs like anyone else, but I’m happier at 63 than I’ve ever been because I know more about myself.

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New guy in town. Snapshot by the hubs.

A post shared by Armistead Maupin (@thearmisteadmaupin) on


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