Saturday, February 28, 2009

Don't Call Me a Sellout

You may have noticed that there are now ads on my blog. I've never thought of blogging as a money-making venture and, quite honestly, I don't imagine I'll make much from the ads, if anything at all. But I figured, "What the hell? A couple extra bucks a year is better than nothing." And since I'm baring my soul for all the world to see, why not get something in return?
The first ads I saw on the blog were for horror movies and LGBT products and services. No harm there, right? I'll moniter the ads and I promise to make Google remove anything I (or you) find objectionable or insulting and anything I think may be a scam. It costs you nothing to click, and makes me a few cents each time you do. But in no way should you feel obligated to visit the sites advertised. I hope you'll continue to read because you like what I have to say, even if I do own a Slanket, Stephen.
More, anon.

RuPaul on Marriage Equality

Just a small post tonight. I thought you might enjoy this Marriage Equality video version of RuPaul's "Let's Turn the Night."

More, anon.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Forgotten Gems: "The Incredible Mr. Limpet"

Don Knotts, probably best known as the bumbling deputy Barney Fife on "Mayberry, RFD," left us last February. He was an amazing physical comedian; gangly, geeky and somehow adorable, he played a hopeless nudnick in countless movies and TV shows. My sister and I were particularly fond of two of his movies as kids: The Ghost and Mr. Chicken (more on that movie, later) and 1964's The Incredible Mr. Limpet.
Knotts plays Henry Limpet, a patriotic fellow who, because of his astigmatism (something to which I can totally relate) has been classified as "4F," or Unfit for Duty. Yet he desperately wants to do his part in service to his country during WWII. His nagging, but loving wife (the amazing Carole Cook, still going strong at 78 in a recent episode of ABCs "Gray's Anatomy") and his best friend, Navy man George Stickle (Jack Weston, oh-so-hilarious in the movie version of Terrance McNally's The Ritz), wish Henry would just realize his place in the world and forget his dreams of glory.
But Henry has another obsession: Fish. He could stare at them all day. He just loves their bright colors and graceful movement as they glide through the water without a care in the world. He loves them so much, in fact, he wishes he were one himself:

One day, while visting Coney Island with Bessie and George, Henry falls into the water and is magically transformed into his heart's desire:

As a fish, Henry discovers he has an amazing sonar ability and he uses it to help the Navy track down and destroy Nazi U-Boats, eventually becoming the hero he always dreamt he'd be:

Directed by Arthur Lubin (the Claude Raines version of The Phantom of the Opera) and featuring some terrific old-fashioned hand-drawn animation from a team led by Looney Tunes animator Gerry Chiniguy (I particularly love the way Chiniguy interprets Knotts as a fish), The Incredible Mr. Limpet is based on a novel by Theodore Pratt. The screenplay, by Jameson Brewer and John C. Rose features songs composed by Harold Adamson and the movie has some hilarious voice performances from Paul Frees ("Rocky & Bullwinkle") as "Crusty the Crab" and character actress Elizabeth MacRea as "Ladyfish."
A sweet and delightful fantasy, typical of the early '60's, The Incredible Mr. Limpet is listed on my sister's Facebook page as one of her favorite movies. It's also one of mine. If you have the chance to catch this movie on TCM or AMC, watch it with your kids (or godchildren, nieces, nephews or whomever). Or rent it from Blockbuster or Netflix. A silly, funny and nostalgic family movie, you'll all love it. I promise.
By the way, a limpet isn't exactly a fish, but rather a crustacean, like a clam or a conch. I imagine Pratt must have chosen the name for its comic effect, more than anything else.
More, anon.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

4 Plays + 3 Hours = 1 Long Night

I saw four not-so-short one-acts this evening, and got home much later than I thought I would, and consequently don't have the time (or frankly, the energy) to post what I had planned for tonight. But I will be back tomorrow night with another Forgotten Gem.

More, anon.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

My Statham Obsession

What is it about Jason Statham? He's not actually handsome, in the traditional sense. - he's balding and looks like he's spent time on the wrong end of a battering ram. Most of his movies are simply awful (Death Race anyone?) and his voice sounds like Tallulah Bankhead after a three-pack smoke-a-thon (look her up, kids).

It can't be the body, alone (though damn, what a body!). It's the whole package, I think. He's a sexy, smart guy who can kick a bad guy's ass and seduce anyone he wants at the drop of a hat. Confident, stylish and sexy in a very bad-boy way and plucked from near-obscurity while hawking toys on a London street, Statham has made a career in the violent world of action movies. Some are pretty good (The Italian Job), most are down-right awful (Transporter 2; In the Name of the King), and some fall somewhere in between (Cellular). Then there is a curiously insane film called Crank. In it, Statham plays Chev Chelios, a dubious fellow who has been poisoned by his enemies and must keep his system flooded with adrenaline to stay alive. The action in Crank is so ridiculously over-the-top, you keep saying to yourself "Oh, come on!" But the humor is so outrageous, you can't help but laugh. Chev actually has public sex in front of a busload of Japanese tourists, to keep his adrenaline flowing. At the end of the movie, Statham falls many hundreds of feet from a helicopter to the street below, dying in the process.

But, it was not to be. Soon to be gracing local cineplex screens is Crank 2: High Voltage. Literally scraping the not-quite-dead (it's almost like a Monty Python sketch) Chev Chelios off the street, someone steals his apparently amazingly strong heart and replaces it with a battery-powered artificial heart. Chev must now keep himself electrified while he searches for his real heart. Dwight Yoakim (Panic Room) returns as the doctor who advises Chev on the fly, and insane Chinese actress Bai Ling joins the cast along with the legendary David Carradine (Kill Bill I & II).

Here's the berserk trailer:

So, am I the only one who gets the same thrill from Jason Statham's bad-ass sexiness? Enquiring minds want to know. Leave me a comment. I love hearing from you.

More, anon.


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Weirdest Thing You'll See This Week

This video (via) is an ad for MAC Cosmetics "Hello Kitty" line. For those of you unfamiliar, Hello Kitty is a brand of children's products from Japan. As with all Japanese pop culture, Hello Kitty is is insanely popular in the Land of the Rising Sun. You can even get Hello Kitty rifles, wedding dresses and headstones. My friend Janet doesn't care for MAC products. She says they feel too heavy on her face, which I suppose, is why they are the preferred brand among "gender illusionists" (drag queens, folks) around the world. I have no idea what this ad is trying to say. It's just weird.

Sort of like "Alice in Wonderland" meets "The Wizard of Oz" in Tokyo on acid. And you were there... and you were there... and you were there, too. Except you had a giant, black plastic Hello Kitty head.

More, anon.

Monday, February 23, 2009

And... Back to Nonsense

I came across this today. No idea what paper or what country it appeared in (obviously not the U.S.), but it's hilarious, nonetheless.

I love the last part: "Kids OK." Does that mean it's okay for kids to call, or okay to eat kids' brains? They're probably more tender than grown-ups' brains, don't you think?

More, anon.


Last Words on the Oscars

Maybe I was a little harsh on the Oscars, last night. I say that, because two award winners proved how relevant the awards can be.
The first, Dustin Lance Black, won for his screenplay, Milk. Mr. Black's moving speech was truly inspirational. Wearing a White Knot, Black spoke about growing up in a repressive Mormon household and then moving to California, where he first heard about Harvey Milk, many years after Milk's death, and how Harvey inspired him to be true to himself. He then said some of the most poignant and important words broadcast on national TV in recent memory: “…to all of the gay and lesbian kids out there tonight, who have been told that they are ‘less than’ by their churches, by the government or by their families, are beautiful, wonderful creatures of value.” If Dustin's win prevents just one gay teen from committing suicide; if he inspires just one gay youth to stand up and declare his or her value as a member of society; if he makes just one homophobic person think "Hmmm... Maybe I'm wrong," then his struggle to be heard was well worth it.
The second, Sean Penn, won the Best Actor award for his portrayal of Harvey Milk. I've not always been a fan of Mr. Penn. For a while, I thought he was an eccentric, violent person who couldn't handle the pressures of fame, despite how talented he may be (of course, marrying Madonna early on didn't help). Then he won his first Oscar for playing a death-row inmate in "Dead Man Walking" and I saw the glint of compassion and humanity in his eyes. He won his next award as a grieving father in "Mystic River," displaying an ability to reach down inside and reveal the kind of pain no one ever wants to experience. This year, he won for playing Harvey Milk, a gay activist who refused to lie down and let the system (or anyone else) walk all over him. In his acceptance speech, Penn said (referring to anti-gay protesters outside the Kodak Theatre): “For those who saw the signs of hatred as our cars drove in tonight, I think this is a good time for them to reflect on their shame.” Wow.
The tide is slowly turning, my friends. The voices of hate, no matter how loud they may be, are beginning to be silenced. Those who cling to antiquated belief systems are slowly realizing how wrong they have been. Soon - not tomorrow, or next week, or next month or even next year - but soon, we won't have to fight to be recognized as valued members of society. The more folks in positions of power and influence take a stand, the more we will share the same basic rights as everyone else.
I just read that the Indian government censored the Oscar telecast to exclude all references to Milk. Is that crazy? No - it's just a product of ignorance and fear. Ignorance and fear, spread by people like Utah Senator Chris Buttars, must be turned into education and understanding. Only then can we reverse opinions, fight fear and reduce ignorance. And that is why the Oscars are still relevant.
I know... I'm on my high-horse again. Back to movies, and nonsense soon. I promise.
More, anon.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

5 for 5

I stopped watching the Academy Awards after Heath Ledger won. I cried, but was glad to see so many in the audience crying as well. I cried for a talent lost and a life wasted. And for how eloquently Mr. Ledger's family spoke.

But, more importantly (to me, anyway), I'm here to crow a bit. So far, I'm 5 for 5 in my picks for winners in the major categories. Sadly, to me that's just further proof of how predictable the Oscars have become. I probably won't watch at all, next year. Unless of course, Hugh Jackman really is naked. Or Ryan Reynolds.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Only Reason to Watch

OK - I've already had my say on the irrelevance of the Oscars. I'm watching for one reason only:Jackman has joked that he'll be hosting the show naked. I'm sure ratings would soar if that were actually the case. There's a reason he was voted People Magazine's "Sexiest Man Alive" and I've just shown it to you. Damn, that man is fine! Alright. Back to our regularly scheduled programming.
More, anon.

Friday, February 20, 2009

My - sigh - Oscar Picks

Okay, okay. I know, I'm a "movie" blogger. I get it. But do I have to talk about the Oscars? I mean, honestly, does anyone really care, anymore? It's not like it used to be. The real glamour left Hollywood in the 90's. The old stars started dying and the new ones? Well, they're pretty and all, but they just don't have the same flair, you know? I mean, there will never be a gentlemen like David Niven again. Can you imagine Clooney making such a witty quip in quite the same manner if a streaker ran past while he was presenting an award? I mean, I love George and all, but it would never happen. He would make some kind of vulgar dick joke that would have be bleeped (or am I thinking of Kathy Griffin?). And can you picture Ryan remarrying Reese and giving her the biggest rock in the world? Me neither. Old Hollywood is long gone, my dears, and the world is worse for it. Passionate moguls like Louis Mayer and Jack Warner no longer linger over every detail of every picture they make. These days, artless accountants make movies because they are part of proven franchises that will make money whether they suck or not. I know, I know... there are still some truly talented writers, directors and actors out there and they occasionally make wonderful movies. But no one sees them. It used to be that everybody saw every movie that was nominated. Now, everyone sees the crap ($45M+ for Friday the 13th) and no one sees the good stuff (Milk). And rarely does the best picture win best picture (Crash? Really? Come on!).
Alright - I'll stop ranting and tell you who and what I think will and should win this year's major categories. As a bonus, I'll even let you know who I think was robbed of at least a nomination. Not that you should (or do) care what I think. See whatever you want. Just promise you'll try and see one really good movie every year.
Best Supporting Actress
Who Should Win: Amy Adams, Doubt
Who Will Win: Penelope Cruz, Vicky Christina Barcelona
Who Was Robbed: Joan Allen, Death Race
Adams continues to prove herself a force to be reckoned with. After her 2007 turn in Enchanted (for which she was robbed of a nomination), she gives another amazing performance as a conflicted young nun in Patrick Shanley's adaptation of his Tony winning play. Cruz (as creepy as I may find her) is fine in Woody Allen's comedy, but I just don't get her. As for Ms. Allen, anyone who can play that role with a straight face, deserves an Oscar.
Best Supporting Actor
Who Should Win: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
Who Will Win: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
Who Was Robbed: James Franco, Milk; Gary Oldman and Aaron Eckhart, The Dark Knight
We all know that The Dark Knight is Ledger's legacy film. His Joker is so original, so creepy and oh-so-psychotic, how could he not win? Plus, he should have won for Brokeback Mountain, two years ago. But Franco continues to grow as an actor and his turn as Harvey Milk's lover, Scott Smith, is just superb. As for Oldman and Eckhart, it's just a shame that two exceptionally fine performances were over-shadowed by Ledger's death.
Best Animated Film
What Should Win: Wall-E
What Will Win: Wall-E
What Was Robbed: Sex and the City
Wall-E tied for number one on my list of the best movies of 2008. It is nothing short of astonishing. Sadly, Sex and the City was shut out of this category becau... What? Really? Those were real live actresses and not cartoons? Oh, my mistake.
Best Original Screenplay
What Should Win: Wall-E
What Will Win: Milk
What Was Robbed: Outlander
Wall-E's screenplay by director Andrew Stanton and co-writers Pete Docter and Jim Reardon is simple and lovely. How many modern movies can you name that are heartwarming, poignant and funny with no dialog for the first 40 minutes? But, of all the Harvey Milk biopic screenplays that have been floating around for years, Dustin Lance Black's was the one that got made. And it's mighty fine. As for Dirk Blackman and Howard McCain's Outlander... come on! It's about Aliens and Vikings. How much more original can you get?
Best Adapted Screenplay
What Should Win: Frost/Nixon
What Will Win: Slumdog Millionaire
What Was Robbed: Hellboy II: The Golden Army
Peter Morgan adapted his play Frost/Nixon and the result is a surprisingly compelling look at notoriety and infamy, but Simon Beaufoy's adaptation of Vikas Swarup's novel helped turn Slumdog Millionaire into an indie sensation. Guillermo del Toro's adaptation of Mike Mignola's comic books elevated what could have been just another silly superhero movie to high art.
Best Director
Who Should Win: Gus Van Sant, Milk
Who Will Win: Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
Who Was Robbed: Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight
Van Sant is a hit-or-miss director whose misses (Psycho) are simply dreadful, but whose hits (My Own Private Idaho) border on brilliant. Milk is simply one of his best. Boyle continues to stretch and take on as many genres as he can, and the heat generated by Slumdog seems unstoppable. Most egregiously left off the ballot is Nolan, who took a superhero movie and turned it into a noirish crime thriller filled with wondrous visuals, brilliant performances and the sexiest Batman ever.
Best Actor
Who Should Win: Sean Penn, Milk
Who Will Win: Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler
Who Was Robbed: Robert Downey, Jr, Iron Man
Penn is nothing short of amazing as Harvey Milk, the first openly gay elected official in California. Rourke, despite looking like he had one too many sessions with Kenny Rogers' plastic surgeon, is good, too. But Downey deserves a nom simply for turning his life around even more dramatically than Rourke, who I imagine will go back into a downward spiral even after winning his first (and only) Oscar.
Best Actress
Who Should Win: Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married
Who Will Win: Meryl Streep, Doubt
Who Was Robbed: Sally Hawkins, Happy Go Lucky
Hathaway, another Brokeback Mountain alum who should have been nominated, continues to prove that she is among the best of Hollywood's young talents and her low-key turn as a drug addict in Rachel... is nothing short of revelatory, but Ms. Streep (arguably the greatest living actress) hasn't won in a long time, and Doubt will break her long losing streak. sadly, Sally Hawkins' amazing performance as a cockeyed optimist in Happy Go Lucky was ignored by the Academy. And that's just a cryin' shame, because she was wonderful.
Best Picture
What Should Win: Milk
What Will Win: Slumdog Millionaire
What Was Robbed: Wall-E and The Dark Knight
It seems that Slumdog is unstoppable, and this rags-to-riches love story is this year's Crash - a good movie, but not the Best movie. Sadly, Hollywood is still homophobic, despite the overwhelming number of LGBT people who work in the industry, which will leave Milk out in the cold. As for Wall-E and The Dark Knight, my pics for the best movies of the year were just too popular with audiences - a kiss of death where Oscar s usually concerned, despite The Return of the King and Titanic.
Well, there you have it. Make no bets based on my predictions. I'm often very wrong. We'll see on Sunday.
More, anon.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

And Now, A Shameless Plug

Inspired by Stephan Rader and his post about Season of Concern, I decided it's time I talked more about my own favorite charity, The James Tolin Memorial Fund.

The JTMF produces an annual comedy to raise funds for Arts Education and AIDS organizations in NJ. In the past, we have presented productions of Jeffrey; Torch Song Trilogy; The Odd Couple; Mr. Charles, Currently of Palm Beach; The Altruists; Psycho Beach Party and What the Butler Saw. This summer, we will be presenting Paul Rudnick's The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told. As always, there will be a catered reception before and after the show, live musical entertainment and a silent auction of goods and services from both local an national donors. For our 5th Anniversary Gala (featuring Charles Busch's hilarious Psycho Beach Party) we had auction donations from major celebrities such as Carol Burnett, Robin Williams and the cast of ABC's "Desperate Housewives." We only do comedies, because we know that James loved nothing more than to laugh, and he wouldn't have wanted us doing heavy-handed dramas. In fact, he probably would have hated the attention he's getting.

James Tolin was a NJ actor who succumbed to AIDS-related illness in 2002. The fund started as one-time event, meant to honor his memory and donate money to The Open Arms Foundation, an organization which provides support and services to NJ residents living with HIV. Open Arms worked closely with James throughout his illness and his friends and family thought it fitting that the proceeds go to them. Our first event, which featured Mr. Rudnick's Jeffrey (in which I played 'Sterling') was such a success, we just kept going. Now, seven years later, we are still going strong and have grown to include a scholarship at Mercer County County Community College for a deserving Performing Arts major. We have also helped fund Graffiti Productions, an organization which provided inner-city youth with creative outlets and performing arts experience. As we move forward, the JTMF hopes to fund even more educational endeavours (James was a big believer in Arts Education) and plan on expanding our program to include new works by local playwrights and performance artists. We are also looking forward to expanding our efforts with JTMF West, a Canadian branch started by a former Board Member who now lives in Alberta, Canada.

We perform at the Kelsey Theatre on the Campus of Mercer County Community College in West Windsor, NJ. Our casts, crews and supporters are strictly volunteer and 100% of of the box office is split between Open Arms and the James Tolin Scholarship at MCCC. Proceeds from the silent auction are used to defray production costs for next year's show. For advance tickets to our event, please visit the Kelsey Box Office website, here.

P.S. - If you visit the JTMF site, you can see a real pic of your Uncle Prospero. I'm the giant on the right.

More, anon.


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The 2nd Weirdest Thing You'll See This Week

He's baa-aack! Remember a few weeks ago when I posted the musical Tribute to Robert Goulet? Well, I found more video from the same fellow. This time he sings "Endless Night" from "The Lion King" while wearing underwear on his head, then goes off on several stream-of-conciousness tangents that make my head hurt. Again, don't say you weren't warned:

Does this young man even own a shirt? Oh, how sane he makes me feel. I think I love him.
More, anon.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

"Iron Sky" -- Nazi's on the Moon!

I first heard about Iron Sky over at io9. It's an indie Sci-Fi adventure currently in development. The movie posits that in 1945, Hitler sent a team of Nazi's to set up a camp on the dark side of the moon (no Pink Floyd jokes, please). They've thrived ever since and in 2018, decide it's time to return to invade Earth. The teaser is just fantastic and the movie looks like pure, cheesy Sci-Fi gold. I, for one, can't wait for this pic to get made. Here's the teaser trailer:
Talk about "high concept" movies! I only wish I had thought of it. You just gotta love that swastika-shaped moon base and the torch song theme music, not to mention those oh-so-cool retro-saucer ships.
By the way, if you're a producer looking for a high-concept zombie movie or an action thriller with Sci-Fi overtones or a bizarre-ish indie comedy, talk to me. I have a couple of scripts for you to read.
More, anon.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Review: "Friday the 13th"

By now you know that the re-make -- excuse me, the re-boot -- of Friday the 13th was the number one movie at the box-office this past weekend, raking in an astonishing 42.4 million dollars. I was supposed to see it on Saturday as part of anti-Valentine's Day date with my friend Kathy but she bailed on me last minute, so I waited and went to a matinee today. Consequently, my review comes after the thousands that are already out there. And sadly, like the thousands of reviews already out there, my response to the movie is: "Meh."

Don't get me wrong, as I've stated before, I really wanted to like this movie. Director Marcus Nispel actually did a decent job with his remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, so I hoped he would do as well or even better, here. Unfortunately, he didn't. Nispel's Friday the 13th isn't a bad movie; it just isn't very good, and I think it's a case of missed opportunities, more than anything else.

The movie starts where the original ended, with the sole survivor of the Camp Crystal Lake massacre beheading the killer (Jason's bat-shiat crazy mom). Moving on to present day, we find a group of hikers in the woods around Crystal Lake, in search of a supposed forgotten marijuana crop. They find the crop, along with a creepy, decrepit house filled with props that are meant to remind us of the eleven F13 movies that have come before. And of course, Jason finds them.

Skip ahead six weeks and Clay (Jared Padalecki of "Supernatural") is in town, looking for his sister Whitney (Amanda Righetti), who was among the pot-seeking hikers. He runs into a group of college kids in town for a weekend of pot, beer and sex at the rich boy's family vacation house on the lake. There's the gorgeous, arrogant tool (Travis Van Winkle); his too-nice-for-him girlfriend Jenna (Danielle Panabaker); a nerdy Asian pothead; a wannabe rapper; a slutty bimbo and another couple. As in all F13 movies, they're "all doomed!" They play beer pong, smoke dope, have sex and investigate the creepy abandoned camp grounds on the other side of the lake. And they are killed off one-by one, with an assortment of tools and weapons.

There are some surprisingly original murders in this version, as well as a first-time look at Jason's 'home' (a series of tunnels under the camp, reminiscent of the tunnels in Tobe Hooper's TCM sequel), but everything seems a bit too familiar. Even worse, not a second of it is scary. The film is completely lacking in suspense and surprise (even in its 'surprise' ending, which everyone knew was coming). The cast is pretty enough, though none of the hot boys are nearly naked enough - Padalecki never even takes off his shirt, though the women seem to do so without hesitation. Most egregious, was the lack of humor on display. In previous incarnations, some of Jason's victims could be found engaging in some sort of humorous behaviors before being mindlessly slaughtered. Nispel and company seem to have forgotten that humor is integral in a slasher movie, and everyone plays the thing so deadly serious that it makes for a really boring 97 minutes. Yes, there is the pervert licking the pages of a Hustler magazine and the guy trying to sneak a wank using a Land's End winter catalog for inspiration, but those scenes are more embarrassing than funny. Even the presence of hunky "Desperate Housewives" and "The Flash" star, Richard Burgi as a local police officer, can't save this movie from itself, despite his character's gruesome demise.

Rather than creating a new and inventive take on the genre, Nispel and screenwriters Damian Shannon and Mark Swift give us just another tired entry in a formula-ridden series. No stars. Friday the 13th is rated "R" for violence, language, nudity and drug use.

And speaking of which, I was most dismayed by the presence of at least three children in the audience who couldn't have been more than 10 years old. Two of them were brought by what had to be their grandmother, while the third was accompanied by a couple I must assume were her parents. What the hell is wrong with these people? Do they not know the meaning of the word 'inappropriate?' This is one of my personal pet peeves and Iwill never stop ranting about it. Children should not be subjected to the intensity of these kinds of movies, no matter how much they beg. Please, if you have kids who want to see a scary movie, take them to see Coraline. This is NOT a movie for 10 year-olds.

More, anon.


Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Weirdest Thing You'll See This Week

Okay - I know there's some weird-ass crap out there in the cyberverse, but I stumbled upon this site a few weeks ago and I just can't quite wrap my head around it. is a site where people take hot guys and photoshop them into centaurs. Seriously. Just look at this picture above.

I'm sorry, but I just don't get it. I suppose there's the whole fantasy geek angle. And the guys they use are hot enough. But seriously... is anyone actually getting off on this stuff?
I suppose there are all sorts of weird scenes and fetishes out there. And the Internet seems to be the place to find them. And before you start calling me a prude or something in the comments, you have to admit, this is just weird.
I'll be back with my review of Friday the 13th tomorrow. Hope you all had a great Valentine's Day and for those of you off tomorrow, have a great President's Day.
More, anon.

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Gayest Thing(s) You'll See This Week

I came across a very sweet and wonderfully inclusive music video tonight on Towleroad and thought I'd share it with you. The song, "'Til the End" by Tom Goss, is just lovely and the accompanying video reminded me of the 70's TV show "Love, American Style," in which the same brass bed appeared in every vignette.
When I went to YouTube to find the embedding code for "Til the End," I came across a few other LGBT themed music vidoes I wanted to share. The first is "Body's a Temple" from adorable young singer/song-writer Jay Brannan:
Then I started to notice the amount of LGBT videos on YouTube and was astounded at both their number and their depth (or lack thereof). Some were sexy, bordering on pornography. Some were homophobic and hateful. There were even gay Sci-Fi geek videos, as evidenced by this clip, based on an apparently gay-themed episode of "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" and featuring the song "It's Okay to Be Gay."
I always thought Alexander Siddig, who played Dr. Bashir on the show, was rather pretty and can completely understand why the gay alien haberdasher was crushing on him. Siddig also appeared in the 2007 season of "24' and in writer/director Neil Marshall's post-apocalyptic adventure, Doomsday.
Then there were the funny gay music videos. These were songs that made fun of homophobia, rather than homosexuality, and I admire their creators for their honesty and fearlessness. First, a video I've posted before; Mandy Steckelberg's "I Love the Gays."
Then there was this video from Oded Gross about a man whose wife leaves him, blaming gay marriage for their own connubial failures: "It's All Because (the Gays Are Getting Married)."
Finally, while this isn't a music video, it still made me laugh and fits in with my obssesion with zombies. I give you the trailer for Gay Zombie:
I refuse to be offended by that, as should you. It's too funny to be truly offensive. And if we can't laugh at ourselves, folks, we have no business laughing at others.
Certainly there is plenty more gay music out there. One needs only to watch "New, Now, Next" on Logo to find the hottest up-and-coming LGBT musical acts. And I can't even begin to tell you how many covers of Katy Perry's infectious "I Kissed a Girl" that I found that were called "I Kissed a Boy." There are gay C & W singers, gay rappers, gay balladeers and even gay metalheads. And all of them proudly flying their freak flags. And to all of them I say, "Well done! Well done, indeed!"
As always, more, anon.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Jin's Alive! (And HOT!!!)

Watching last night's Jin-centric episode of "Lost," got me thinking about my recent obsession with ethnic men. Regular readers will know that I rarely post about sex, or hot guys (the Danny Dyer photo being a rare exception) or anything remotely 'dirty.' But damn! Daniel Dae Kim is hot!

I'm hardly a person one could even remotely describe as 'racist.' One of the last things I notice about a person is the color of their skin or the shape of their eyes. In fact, I'm probably more interested in the size of their biceps or the shape of their pecs. But, I am the first to admit that a beautiful man will always turn my head.

In the past few years, I have noticed that I am more and more attracted to men of ethnicities other than my own. That's not to say that I don't find white guys attractive. I can find beauty in all variations of man-flesh (that sounds rather awful, doesn't it?). But the last WASP guy I dated (with the unlikely name of Ford), was just so boring! And please, don't ask me how long ago that was.

I think it started with Coby Bell on the late NBC drama "Third Watch." Smart, sexy and oh-so-beautiful, Bell is the first African American man I can remember actually lusting after (gee, that sounds even worse). Bell played a cop who wanted to be a lawyer, and whose moral standards rose above most of the rest of the show's characters. It didn't hurt that he's drop-dead gorgeous.

There's just something about a square-jawed hunk in a uniform that makes me go all squishy inside. Coby's "Officer Ty Davis" was the epitome of a good and dedicated cop, refusing to give in to the corruption which surrounded him on NYPD. When Ty sat down to take the LSAT, I was rooting for him to get a 180 (sadly, his schlubby partner, played by the excellent Skipp Sudduth) actually scored higher). I was sad to see this terrific show end, not only because it meant I no longer got my weekly dose of Coby, but because an excellent ensemble cast was scattered to the winds of Hollywood once-weres.

Then, of course, there is TV's current ultimate ethnic hottie, "CSI: Miami" star Adam Rodriguez.
Rodriguez plays Eric Delco, a Cuban immigrant and gunshot survivor who is not-so-secretly in love with his white bread co-worker, Calliegh Duquesne (the beautiful and talented Emily Proctor). Honestly, it should be illegal for a human being to be as gorgeous as Rodriguez.

So, what does all this mean? Am I racist? Am I anti-Caucasian? Hardly. Maybe I'm just a dirty old guy looking for vicarious thrills on the boob-tube.

Truth be told, I just think it means that I can find beauty in men of all types and ethnicities. That's probably more than I ever intended to share with anyone, and probably more than you ever needed to know about me. But there it is. Make of it whatever you will.
As long as producers continue to give us hot men on TV, I don't care. All the more reason to set my DVR to "record."
More, anon.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Did you know that there are two Friday the 13th's in a row this year? When F13 occurs in a February that is not in a Leap Year, then it occurs again in March, which is exactly what happens this year. How appropriate is it then to premiere the re-boot of the horror franchise Friday the 13th?

I didn't see the original movie in a theatre. But it was the first movie I ever saw on our then state-of-the-art VCR. The machine was a clunky monstrosity and looked much more like an old cassette recorder, complete with gigantic push buttons and a tape bay that popped up out of the top. It weighed a ton and took up the entire lower shelf of our TV stand. But man, were we excited to get it. Now we could see all the movies we wanted. And in the days before Blockbuster or Netflix, the biggest section at our local Mom & Pop video store was the Horror section. So when Dad brought home Friday the 13th as our first rental, Mom wasn't thrilled, but my sister and I were. We sat riveted, watching a group of unknown actors (all but one of whom would remain that way) get slaughtered by an axe-wielding maniac at a secluded campground. Thanks to John Carpenter's masterpiece, Halloween, the slasher film was about to take the 80's by storm and writer/director Steve Miner took full advantage of the trend (and the skills of makeup FX artist Tom Savini) in his first major hit. Miner's film also helped establish the trend of holiday-themed horror, including My Bloody Valentine; Mother's Day; Black Christmas and a slew of other films.

Looking back, the movie is pretty bad, as the trailer below can attest:

The plot is ridiculous. A grieving Mom (Betsy Palmer) takes revenge for the drowning death of her retarded son by killing camp counselors who had nothing to do with it, 20 years after the fact. And how the hell did a petite, middle-aged woman have the strength to hack, mangle, hang and mutilate all those strong young folks? She may have had surprise on her side, but any one of those strapping kids could have taken her down with one hand tied behind their backs. And the acting, despite the presence of a young talent who would later take the world by storm in Footloose, was awful. So what did it have going for it? Tom Savini. Savini's work on the previous year's Dawn of the Dead had cemented him as the guy for horror makeup effects, and he goes to town here (that's him in a wig falling through the window in the trailer). But even so, the effects are rather tame compared to what we see today. In the sequels that followed, the killer was now supernaturally immortal Jason Voorhees, a magically grown-up version of the drowned retarded kid, hacking up sexually active teens just because he could. Hell, in his last appearance on film, Jason actually does battle with Freddy Kruger, another 80's horror icon from the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. As my younger friends would say, 'redonkulous!'

Now, almost 30 years later, producer Michael Bay has "rebooted" the series, from all accounts combining elements of the first three movies to create a new take on the franchise. Director Marcus Nispel, who brought us the not-terrible remake of Tobe Hooper's classic The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is behind the lens, which actually gives me hope that this might not be an awful movie at all. That's not to say it will be good, though the trailer makes it look better than some of the recent, PG-13-rated J-Horror movie remakes:

The production values certainly look better. And star Jared Padalecki (TV's "Supernatural" and "The Gilmore Girls") is certainly yummy enough. But I really have to ask, is F13 a movie that really needs to be remade? The proof, as they say, will be in the pudding. I am thinking of going on Saturday as part of an Anti-Valentine's Day event with a friend. If I do, I'll be here with a full review on Sunday.
Until then, I'll leave you with one bit of Hollywood Horror Trivia. The iconic 'Friday the 13th Sound" (ch-ch-ch-ch... bah-bah-bah-bah) always sounded to me like "Kill, kill, kill, kill... blood, blood, blood, blood." And I was close. According to Miner, it was a re-mixed recording of Palmer whispering "Kill her!"
More, anon.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Theatre of Protest

(via) San Diego's Ion Theatre Company has vacated it's home, because they learned that their landlord was a major donor to Prop 8.
According to, “The five-year-old Ion is known for its strong emphasis on diversity and inclusion in its programming; Paris and Raygoza, the company's founders, are also partners in life."
Raygoza said the two didn't realize until late last year that the theater's landlord was one of Proposition 8's biggest financial backers. Caster became the target of a heated campaign by the gay community after his donations and those of family members were publicized."
A call seeking comment from Terrence Caster was redirected to a recorded message in which he defended his donations and insisted he has no ill will toward gay people. “
Read the full article here.
Here's the thing: If a non-profit theatre company, whose livelihood is dependant on ticket sales, grants and donations, can take a stand, then so can the rest of us.
I continue to urge you to write your local, state and federal representatives. Sign every petition you can find; send any money you can afford; call upon your friends and family. Do whatever you have to do to get this heinous motion repealed. And not just in California. In November of 2004, 11 states amended their constitutions to define marriage as between a man and a woman. My home state of Pennsylvania was among them. Is this Orwell's 1984? How we can allow government to legislate love? We can't. And if enough voices are heard, we won't.
OK - off my high horse for a while. More on movies, TV and theatre, soon, I promise. But only if you promise to keep fighting the good fight. Wear a White Knot, write your elected officials and vote out those who disagree. Together, we can make a difference.
More, anon.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Forgotten Gems: "The 7 Faces of Dr. Lao"

George Pal, the producer who gave us the original War of the Worlds; When Worlds Collide and The Time Machine, directed this fantasy adapted from the novel "The Circus of Dr. Lao," by Charles G. Finney. The 7 Faces of Dr. Lao tells the story of Abalone, a small western town on the verge of dying. In swoops Clint Stark (character actor Arthur O'Connell) with a plan to buy out everyone in town for pennies on the dollar, convincing the citizens of Abalone that their homes are worthless. Needless to say, teh townsfolk are completely unaware that the railroad is about to come through, making them all rich.
Out of the desert appears a strange Chinese man and his bigger-on-the-inside-than-on-the-outside circus, Dr. Lao. As played by Tony Curtis, Lao is both stereotype and charicature; sometimes speaking in pigeon-English, sometimes speaking in a Southern drawl and other times speaking in perfect King's English. Lao's bizarre assortment of acts features Medusa, Pan, Merlin, The Abominable Snowman and the blind prophet Appolonius (all played by Randall) as well as a tiny fish which Lao insists is the Loch Ness Monster.

Beautiful Barbara "I Dream of Jeannie" Eden is the heroine, a widowed mother struggling to raise her son as best she can, while hunky John Ericson is her romantic interest. A slew of character actors, including Royal Dano; Noah Berry, Jr; Eddy Little Sky; John Qualen and Minerva Urecal are among the townsfolk, each of whom fall under the spell of one of Lao's attractions.

Ms. Urecal, in particular, is literally petrified by her encounter with Medusa:

On the night before the town is supposed to vote on whether or not to accept Stark's proposal, Lao presents his grand finale, "The Fall of the City."

And thoughStark recants his evil ways, a drunken Dano and company decide to take their revenge on Lao by killing his beloved pet. Needless to say - it's a HUGE mistake.

I wish the video quality was better here, because the stop-motion animation is among some of the best of the era.

While many may complain that Randall's performance is racist, I would say it is typical of the attitude of the time. Chinese immigrants were often the backbone of the American rail system, providing cheap labor and a touch of Eastern mysticism into the lives of early American pioneers. And despite what you may think about Randall, Lao and the simplistic depiction of Chinese-Americans, the movie still holds up as one of the great fantasy films of the 1960's. I loved it as a kid and still love it, today. If you've never seen this delightful little fantasy, watch for it on AMC or TCM. I promise you will enjoy it.

More, anon.


Sunday, February 8, 2009

7 Plays in 24 Hours

I went to see some friends tonight in a curious play by Austin Pendleton called "Orson's Shadow." It's set in 1960. Orson Welles is in Scotland, appearing in his play about Falstaff to empty houses. He is approached to direct a production of Eugene Ionesco's "Rhinoceros," starring Laurence Olivier and Joan Plowright and accepts, despite believing that Olivier ruined his Hollywood career because his "MacBeth" was unfavorably compared to the Shakespearean films directed by Olivier. Meanwhile, Olivier is having his own issues; carrying on an affair with Plowright (whom he would later marry), while trying to delicately leave his beloved, but unbalanced, Vivien Leigh. Larry also has some major issues with the play, itself. A classically trained actor, he can't figure how to play modern absurdism and is further frustrated by Plowright's apparent ease in doing so.
"Orson's Shadow" is a fascinating take on several topics, least of all, the real-life drama behind the scenes of producing a play. Anyone who has ever been a part of a live theatre production knows exactly what I am talking about. But it also talks about failed relationships, floundering careers, desperation and the creative process. All of which, tied in nicely with the "Wired" event I attended last night.
Needless to say, I was worn out by the end of "Orson's Shadow." And while I wanted to stay and talk to my friends about the show, I was simply not up to it. I said "Hi," and told them I enjoyed it, then quietly slipped away to come home and write about it and see if that helped me sort out all the things my theatre weekend was about. Maybe by the time I start auditioning actors for the show I am directing in the spring, I'll have figured it out. Or not.

More Silliness

By now everyone has seen "David After the Dentist," the video shot by a sadistic dad on his way home from his son's dental surgery. And everyone has heard about of Christian "Batman" Bale's recent on-set rant over a technician who walked into his view while filming a scene. This video (via) mashes the two together for some hilarious results. (NSFW)

More silliness, anon.

On Judging Art

I was invited to be a judge at my Alma Mater's annual 24-hour play contest, "Wired." Six teams of students were given a theme, topic and several plot twists. They had 24 hours to write, rehearse and produce a short play, complete with props, costumes and scenery. They started Friday night at 8 PM and the shows went up Saturday night at 8 PM. The plot twists were often introduced at the last minute. For example, near the end of the writing portion, the teams were told they had to add a "death monologue." A character had to die (whether he/she was originally intended to or not) and had to deliver a monologue while dying. There were other random things assigned, as well. Each play had to use the word "Wired" at least 5 times; each play had to include the line "Who is Miley Cyrus?" and each play had to start and end with the same line. The young actors had basically one day to rehearse and memorize the scripts.
The resulting plays were often hilarious. In the first, two failing history students travel back in time to steal the Golden Fleece for extra credit, only to find themselves in the midst of a Trojan War where Paris and Achilles are actually in love with one another, leaving one of the students to whisk Helen away to the present just as Cupid's arrow pierces Achilles' heel, killing him before he and Paris can consummate their love. In another, celebrity gossip follows the dead into the afterlife: Moses is dating Princess Di ("She's only 12 years dead, you pervert!") and after Eva throws him out, Hitler moves in with Anne Frank. And another examined what might have happened if McCain had won the election -- He dies while taking the oath, Palin takes over and abolishes Congress; establishing herself as Overlord Palin while Al Gore leads the resistance from his secret Cold Fusion lab in Switzerland. Offensive? Maybe. Funny? Definitely.
We were all given rubrics which broke the shows down into three categories of points; 20 for Acting, 20 for Writing and 15 for Directing. The show I scored the highest (the one about Sarah Palin), didn't strike the same chords with the other judges (a friend and acting teacher, another alumnus, a randomly chosen audience member and the event's arbiters). Of course, we did finally choose, but it was far from easy.
I suppose the point of all this is, how does one judge art? Art, by definition, is completely subjective. What may move and inspire me, may leave you scratching your head and asking "What the...?" My favorite painting of all time is Salvador Dali's "The Discovery of America by Christopher Columbus." It is a sprawling, gigantic work, depicting a beatific Columbus landing on the stepped shores of America, surrounded by thousands of crosses. The painting is housed in the Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, FL, and every time I see it (about every two or three years) I get a lump in my throat and have to spend an hour or so just taking it in. I'm hardly religious; I am not a history buff and I don't believe that Columbus was the first European to visit North America. So why does this painting painting speak to me? I have no idea. It just does. Synapses fire, a mood is set and I am in awe.
At the end of the evening, as the awards were handed out, I felt that we had in fact, chosen the best play. Though I can't help but wonder how different the outcome would have been with a different set of judges.
Art is a very important part of what makes us Human. Only Humans truly create art. Yes, I know there are elephants whose paintings sell for thousands of dollars - but are the elephants sentient enough to know what they are doing? No. They are simply displaying behaviors imposed upon them by their trainers. Art is a Human trait, and I hope and believe that it is art that will save the Human race from itself.
So, how does one judge art? I don't know. I suppose it can only be judged if it moves you. If you are inspired; outraged; confused; excited; turned on; turned off or just made to think, then the artist has successfully done his or her job. And to that end, everyone was a winner at "Wired."
More, anon.

Friday, February 6, 2009

"Torchwood" Returns

And so, back to the silliness. My beloved BBC series "Torchwood" is still several months away, but I know it will be worth the wait. Smart, funny and oh-so-sexy, "Torchwood" may be a spin-off the the Beeb's eternally silly "Dr. Who," but it's so much better.
Created by Russell T. Davies (the man behind the original "Queer As Folk"), "Torchwood" concerns a super-secret British agency which has been put in place to protect HRM's citizens from whatever aliens, demons, ghosties and ghouls might pass through rifts in the space-time continuum. Set in Cardiff, Wales (apparently known as one of the most boring places on Earth), "Torchwood" concerns a band led by the charismatic and enigmatic Captain Jack Harkness (the very yummy and openly gay John Barrowman - who reminds me of none other than former People Magazine's 'Sexiest Man Alive,' Mark Harmon) and his team. Harkness, like Dr. Who, is a Time Lord, immortal and living through time out of sequence. The past, present and future are all one to Jack, who seems to have had more paramours than the great Casanova.
There's Gwen (Eve Myles), a former Cardiff PD who was recruited in the series first ep, and is probably in love with all the members of the team, despite being engaged (and now married) to her hapless spouse, Ryhs (Kai Owen). Then there is Owen (Burn Gorman), a roue who recently became a member of the Living Dead. IT specialist Toshiko (Naoko Mori), has been in love with Owen forever, despite her lesbian daliance with an alien in season 2, though she's apparently kicked the bucket (though with this show, one is never sure). Finally, there is Ianto (Gareth David-Lloyd), the adorable go-to guy who is now Jack's lover (after the only woman he truly loved was turned into a killer cyborg).
Silly, smart and more than a little sexy, "Torchwood" is the BBC's so much better answer to "The X-Files." It may not be the best Sci-Fi on TV ("Fringe" has usurped that title), but it sure is the hottest.
Here is the Season 3 trailer:

More of this, anon.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Courage Campaign

I've been kind of silly lately, which is fine. Personally, I much prefer silliness of all sorts to seriousness of any kind. I often find myself doing silly things for serious causes (as that picture of me can attest). And I'll even do serious things in serious situations (my day job, for example). Still, I've never been one to shy away from giving my opinion (right Sean?) or one to keep quiet when I see something wrong.
If you've been reading, I know you join me in continuing to remain vocal in opposition to California's Proposition 8 and similar measures in other states such as Florida and Arizona. You'll also know that I think Organized Religion is a sham - a business that is in the business of scaring people into acquiescence. And make no mistake, Organized Religion (and by no means just the LDS) scared people into passing those measures by spending millions of dollars on televised and bus-stop ad lies!
So, how do we make them stop lying and then make the people who've been lied to, believe the truth? It's not easy. There are still people out there clinging to the belief that the moonshots were faked. Even worse, there are people hopping mad and hunkering down in homemade armories because a black man is our president.
We know that the truth is simply about love and the right to love whomever you want. Wasn't there some guy about 2009 years ago or so, who said it was all about love, too? Or am I thinking of John Lennon? Or Ghandi? Does it really matter?
In a touristy little arts community not far from where I live, there is a very silly store that sells all sorts of kitchsy stuff like zombie finger puppets and vintage toys and clothing and 'Crazy Cat Lady' action figures. The store is called "Love Will Save the Day" and it's one of my favorite stores to spend an hour or so just wandering around inside. It's cramped and over-stuffed and there's way too much to look at all at once. The stuff they sell is basically useless crap, but it makes people smile and laugh and they buy, smiling and laughing as they hand over the money. No one leaves the place without at least smiling. Love, indeed, saves the day.
Trust me, there's nothing sillier or more serious than love.
This cause really has no personal effect on me - I haven't even the slightest prospect of marriage or partnership - my dance card is, sadly, wide-open. So why should I care? Because some day my dance card just might be full. Or if not, the dance card of a friend or relative.
The Courage Campaign has a new video out, called "Fidelity." It made me cry. Please share it and the link to sign the Courage Campaign's letter to the California Supreme Court here. Here's the clip (via):

"Fidelity": Don't Divorce... from Courage Campaign on Vimeo.

“Laughter kills fear, and without fear there can be no faith, because without fear of the Devil there is no more need of God.” - Umberto Eco
So, do this serious thing for me (sign the letter) and then go laugh to chase away the Devil.
My Thanks to You,

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Weirdest Thing You'll See This Week

I'm not sure what to make of this. It was sent to me by an actor friend, who finds many of the same things funny as I do. It tickled him more, I think. It puzzles me, but it is certainly very amusing. If it's what I hope it is, and not just a stroke of geek luck, then it is brilliantly Kaufmanesque and pure inspired silliness. Clearly the man has a beautiful voice, and I get the Goulet-inspired pompadour and porn-stache. But the toga, the barking and the weird sincerity of the song's interpretation add that perfect soupcon of surrealism that makes me love the Internet so very much. It's "Camelot" as directed by Dali and performed by the inmates of... well, okay, maybe not. What it is, is friggin' weird. And much like the Cheetah Lady a few months ago, it's folks like this that make me feel I'm not quite so insane, after all. I give you a tribute to Robert Goulet (don't say you haven't been warned):
More, anon.

One Last (for a while) Zombie Post

I knew I was on a zombie kick for a reason. Today is the birthday of the Father of the Living Dead, director George A. Romero. Every genre fan knows the story of how a cast-financed movie not only became a cult classic, but inspired an entirely new and enduring sub-genre. No matter how many other writers or directors approach the subject; no matter whether you prefer slow zombies or fast (I'm the slow, shambling zombie kind a guy - they're much funnier); whether in English or Italian; none of them would exist without Papa George.

And while he's made some other, pretty terrific genre films (Martin; The Crazies; Creepshow; Monkeyshines; The Dark Half) and was Executive Producer for the syndicated anthology show "Tales from the Dark Side," Romero's legacy will always be his films of the mysteriously resurrected dead, unstoppable in their hunger for living flesh. I suppose there are far worse things to be known for. Happy Birthday, George!