Sunday, January 31, 2010

Little Old Lady Got Mutilated Late Last Night

Universal Pictures practically invented the American Horror Movie in the 30's and 40's: Dracula; Frankenstein; The Mummy; The Invisible Man... and one my all-time favorites, The Wolf Man. It was the transformation that always got me. Of course in 1941, makeup artist Jack Peace couldn't have even imagined CGI effects, so it was done the old-fashioned way: replacement photography. They would take a shot of Lon Chaney Jr. lying on the ground, stop and apply some makeup and yak hair, take another shot, stop again and and more makeup, and so on. It was a long and laborious process that yielded mediocre results, at best.

In the 50's and 60's Hammer Studios revisited many of these characters, usually starring Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. They never took on werewolves, though there were plenty of (usually) bad werewolf movies. It wouldn't be until 1981 and director Joe Dante's The Howling, that the werewolf got scary again. For the first time, thanks to makeup wiz Rob Bottin, we got to witness a transformation that used neither replacement photography, nor hand-drawn animation. Using a series of bladders under latex, Bottin showed the audience painful stretching of skin and re-shaping of bone that would accompany an actual physical transformation into a monster. I was 20 and immediately decided I wanted to go into FX makeup (thankfully, I didn't, because I couldn't imagine CGI, either). And even though Dee Wallace ended up looking more like a cute little were-Pekingese puppy than a werewolf, the movie (with a screenplay by John Sayles), was actually pretty good.

Of course, later than same year, Bottin's protege, Rick Baker, would create a full-body transformation for director John Landis' An American Werewolf in London:

Landis' and Baker's work remained the standard (the team worked again on Michael Jackson's Thriller) and An American Werewolf... would be the best werewolf movie ever made for almost 30 years.

Then along came Jurassic Park, and CGI changed movie FX forever. And in 1999, Stephen Sommers got lucky with his new version of The Mummy, resurrecting a Universal monster that had appeared only in comedies like The Monster Squad and cartoon shows like Scooby Doo. Sommer's action-adventure movie took the shambling, decayed monster and turned him into a powerful (and yummy) magician as the antagonist, a soldier of fortune and a plucky (if klutzy) librarian as the heroes and used state-of-the-art CGI to create an amazing sand storm in this rollicking horror adventure.

Universal, thrilled to be able to revive a long-dormant franchise, greenlit a sequel and then allowed Sommers to make Van Helsing. The Mummy pictures had been so successful, they figured they'd let him use not one, but three of their classic monsters - Dracula, Frankenstein's Monster and the Wolf Man - in what would become an overly-loud, overly-CGI'ed, over-blown mess of a picture. Bad acting, a ludicrous plot, corny dialog, ridiculous effects and star Hugh Jackman being shirtless for only a few seconds all contributed to a true epic fail.

On February 12, Universal tries again, reviving Kurt Siodmak's original plot and characters in The Wolfman, starring Benicio del Tor; Anthony Hopkins; Hugo Weaving; Emily Blunt and Geraldine Chaplin. Directed by Joe Johnston a hit (Honey, I Shrunk the Kids; Jumanji;) or miss (Jurassic Park III; Hildalgo) kind of guy, the plot once again concerns Larry Talbot (del Toro), and English ex-patriot returning from American to attend his brother's funeral. Talbot has a strained relationship with his father (Hopkins) and later runs afoul of a cursed gypsy on the moors, one night.

The movie has been bounced around for quite a while. Originally scheduled for release in 2009, it kept getting pushed back for re-shoots and re-edits (not usually a good sign) and composer Danny Elfman didn't get to finish his original score because the delays cut into his commitment schedule. Most recently, Elfman's replacement was removed and Elfman is back in. If it weren't for the movie's terrific cast (and even the best actors have made some stinkers), I don't know that I would be so anxious to see it. But the trailer still looks terrific:

D and I already have plans to see it. You know I'll be reviewing it when we do. Can The Wolfman be as successful as The Mummy in reviving a Universal Monster? Will it be a better movie than Landis' and Baker's classic? I'll be attending with not-quite high expectations, something worked out quite well for Sherlock Holmes, earlier this year.

More, anon.

Friday, January 29, 2010

A Night Off

If Uncle Prospero was Paula Deen, he'd say "Ah'm tired, y'all!"

It's been a long couple of weeks, and while almost everything in my kitchen is finally done (I still have to paint and find space to put some of what came out of my cabinets back in), I am just about exhausted.

So with no fun video clips; no pithy remarks; no movies or TV shows to review; no political and/or social commentary and nothing particularly exciting to talk about, I'm going to knock off early and get some much-needed rest.

I'll have a couple of things to talk about tomorrow at The Zombie Zone, but tonight... my bed is calling with a siren's song that I find simply irresistible.

Have a good weekend, y'all.

More, anon.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Gayest Thing You'll See This Week

I know I talked about Lady Gaga recently, and said I really wasn't familiar with her music. But when Ozzie Osbourne comes out and says he likes her, I suppose one has to pay attention (ahem).

Tonight, (via) I saw the very, very gay video for her newest release "Teeth." And you know what? I really liked the song (of course, I had to watch the video about three times before I actually paid attention the music...). I guess I have to check her other stuff out, now. You can check out Gaga's Vampire-themed hotness for yourself, below (may be NSFW):

Gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "Bite Me," doesn't it?

And speaking of The Gayest Thing, gay dating site ManCrunch has offered the below commercial (also via) to CBS for airing during the Superbowl. If anyone at CBS has half a brain, they'll air it:

Finally, while on the subject of CBS and Superbowl ads, I went to their site last night and posted the following on their feedback page:

"As a fan of many fine CBS programs, it saddens me that your network has chosen to air an ad paid for by the hate group, Focus On the Family during your Superbowl broadcast. While your company may not find the ad's contents objectionable, you should find its creators' values exceptionally objectionable. By accepting this ad, you are giving support and credence to an organization whose main focus is to discriminate against the LGBT community, block civil rights and destroy the lives of millions of LGBT citizens. Shame on you, CBS. If the ad airs as scheduled, you can be assured that you will lose millions of LGBT viewers, as well as their friends and family members. Is the temporary revenue you gain by allowing this ad to air worth the potential losses you will incur in the future? Until you announce the rejection of FOF's ad, I will be a former CBS viewer."

I urge all my readers to go to CBS's site and do the same. Please feel free to use and/or amend that text I will admit that I am sucker for the CSI franchise, but I'll give them up gladly, if they air that FOF ad.

More, anon.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Dudencrantz and Dogenstern

I was going to get all political tonight and talk about CBS and their decision to run a Superbowl ad from the Anti-LGBT group Focus On the Family, but when I ran across this item earlier today, I decided it had been a while since I talked about a movie I really need to see and went with it, instead (though tomorrow I'll probably go full rant on CBS's ass).

As you can probably imagine, I visit tons of movie sites every week. Some, more often than others. And as Genre Queen, I often visit Horror movie sites. About once every two weeks or so, I visit UHM (Upcoming Horror Movies), just to see what's on the Horror horizon. Today, I found a listing on UHM for a movie that pushed all my buttons at once.

My first experience as an Shakespearean actor was playing Claudius in a college production of Hamlet in 1983. The director, a brilliant but possibly insane man whom I adore (and who actually taught me how to use my voice to its best advantage), cast the principal roles in the Spring and worked with all of us throughout that Summer in preparation for a late Fall production. When classes resumed that Fall, he cast the remaining roles and I was introduced to our Rosencrantz and Guildenstern for the first time. Both of them were exchange students (one from England and one from Canada) and both of them were absolutely gorgeous. I fell in love with one and later slept with the other (I'll never tell which is which), and both of them were with me when I got my ear pierced (it was the 80's, after all).

Not long after that rather amazing show, I saw Tom Stoppard's brilliant 1966 play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, in which Stoppard dissects Hamlet and skewers theatrical convention, all through the eyes of two of the play's most enigmatic, though relatively minor characters. It wasn't until 1990 that the movie was made, starring Gary Oldman, Tim Roth and Richard Dreyfus, and I immediately fell in love with the material again.

By now, you may well be asking yourself what any of this has to do with Horror movies. Well, just see the poster I've put up at the top of this post, and you will have your answer.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Undead is the story of a fellow who is hired to direct a rather unorthodox production of Hamlet. It turns out (to the joy of Marlowe conspiracy enthusiasts everywhere), that Shakespeare was not the author of Hamlet and it actually involves both the Holy Grail and... vampires! As ridiculous as it sounds, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Undead has all the earmarks of a fun, campy horror movie written and directed by someone (Jordan Galland) who knows his way around Elizabethan drama and Vampire lore. Take a look at the hilarious trailer and see if you don't agree:

UHM lists the movie as "Awaiting Release." I, for one, am waiting impatiently.

More, anon.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

What Becomes a Legend Most?

This is a something I actually wanted to talk about last week, but just never got around to, for a variety of reasons, until today.

That's a picture of the Grande Dame of Television, Betty White, who at 88, received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Screen Actors Guild this past Sunday. Working in the industry since the 1945 short Time to Kill, Ms. White has graced film and TV screens with her talents for six decades. Whether on her own eponymous series (there were 4); as part of an ensemble or in many appearances on daytime game shows like "Password" or "The Match Game," Betty White has always been the epitome of grace and humor.

As Sue Ann Nivens on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" in the '70's, she put the "bitch " in home cooking shows while Martha Stewart was still dreaming about her own TV empire. And as the ditzy Norwegian from St. Olaf, Rose Nyland on "The Golden Girls," she managed to prove that dumb blondes are sexy well into their late 50's (and how she managed to say some of that outrageously hilarious dialog without cracking up is still beyond my ken). In Steve Miner's campy 1999 horror flick Lake Placid, she played a foul-mouthed old coot who kept a killer croc as a pet and on ABC's "The Practice" and "Boston Legal," she played a crazy murderous old broad who killed for attention, if nothing else. A long-time advocate of animal rights and from all accounts a wonderful human being, I can't imagine a person more deserving of Lifetime Achievement award.

Those who know me will attest that I am not a gusher nor a stammerer when it comes to meeting celebrities (ask me about the "I'm-about-to-run-into-you-dance" I did with Liam Neesom in the Lincoln Center Barnes and Noble some time), but I assure you, were I to meet Betty White, I would stammer, gush and probably fall prostrate at her feet. The words "Living Legend" have never been more apt then in describing this true icon of Film and Television. Still going strong, her most recent film was the Sandra Bullock/Ryan Reynolds romantic comedy The Proposal and she is listed on IMDb as being in post-production for the upcoming You Again and in pre-production for writer Suzanne Martin's TV series, "Hot in Cleveland."

If you ask me, the world needs more Betty Whites. Here are some highlights from her long and varied career:

Bless you, Betty White, for all the joy you've brought to millions over the years. I am, and will continue to be, an avid fan.

More, anon.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Fever Ray (A Quickie Post)

I talk about music every so often here at Caliban's Revenge, and I wanted to briefly touch on my newest (newest as in, tonight) discovery, the Swedish dance band Fever Ray.

Yes, I know my musical taste might be considered by some as "odd." I also know that not everyone can appreciate the brilliance of bands like Grizzly Bear and Dead Can Dance or modern composers like Hans Zimmer, Laurie Anderson, Paul Schwartz, Karl Jenkins or even Avatar's James Horner.

But every so often, an artist or group comes along that simply demands my attention. Such is the case with Fever Ray.

Via Towleroad (one of my favorite blogs) comes this incredibly bizarre clip from a Swedish awards program, featuring an acceptance "speech" from their lead vocalist, Karin Dreijer Andersson:

Intrigued, I did a YouTube search and found some rather interesting videos from the group. Here then are some videoss from my newest favorite band:

More, anon.

A Sad Win

My friend Sean at Just a Jeep Guy has been posting some of his favorite comics, lately. Not too long ago, he was contacted by John Forgetta, the author of The Meaning of Lila, thanking him for helping to promote the strip.

More recently, he was contacted by John Lustig, author of Last Kiss. Lustig is a fine artist whose work you'd recognize immediately and whose single-panel strip often contains some very funny LGBT material and jokes. Lustig wanted to let Sean know about a contest he was running, in which the winner would get a chance to write with a rather well-known Sci-Fi author. What Sean didn't realize, was that the well-known Sci-Fi author was the notoriously homophobic Mormon, Orson Scott Card. Or, more precisely, he was unaware of Card's stance on LGBT rights. Card is an outspoken opponent of LGBT rights and a member of NOM, one of the many groups that helped pass California's Prop 8 last year (and whose infamous "Gathering Storm" commercials vilified the LGBT community with out-and-out lies about what same-sex marriage would do to children, families and even churches).

Of course, yours truly had to open my big mouth (or rather, type away on my keyboard) and express my concern that Sean would promote such a contest to his primarily gay readership. In response, Sean took down the post and researched Card's activities. Today, Sean posted this. And while I am sad that he felt he had to remove a post and possibly end correspondence with one of his favorite cartoonists, I am proud and pleased that he not only will no longer post Lustig's work, but sent him an email detailing precisely why.

My hat is off to you, Sean. I'm so sorry that things didn't work out the way you had hoped, and even sorrier that one of your favorite cartoonists disappointed you so, but as I said in my comments, "Thanks and keep fighting the good fight!" Today, you became one of my heroes.

More, very anon.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

How the Mormons Stole Love

Today, closing arguments were made in the trial against Proposition 8, the bill that made same-sex marriage illegal in the state of California. Prop 8 was the first bill to amend a state's Constitution, which actually denied rights to its citizens.

And while we all knew the Church of Latter Day Saints (i.e. the Mormons) had a lot to do with the passing of this discriminatory, hateful and misinformed bill, the LDS emphatically denied that they had anything to do with its passing. Of course, we all know that was a lie.

Also today, making its Sundance Film Festival debut, was a documentary called 8: The Mormon Proposition, which details the LDS's involvement with the passing of Prop 8 and the deceit of the LDS elders and members about their complicity in the campaign of lies against same-sex marriage.

While still in Middle School, I was shown the 1972 Orson Welles-narrated film Future Shock, based on Alvin Toffler's book, which posits that Western Society would soon be so overwhelmed by technological advances, we wouldn't be able to cope with the changes associated with said technologies. Nearly 40 years later, and it seems to me we're doing just fine with modern technology. Among other things Toffler got wrong, Future Shock posited that pollution would destroy the world by the year 2000. Of course, at the tender age of 11, the movie's most memorable (and giggle-inducing) moment, featured a marriage ceremony between two men. While the prediction of same-sex marriage may be one of the few things Toffler got right, he seems to have omitted its opposition by the so-called "Religious Right."

Here's the thing: If we (i.e. Americans) continue to fall for the rhetoric and hate-filled propaganda promoted by, not only the Mormons, but the Catholic Church and Fundie Baptists, we'll never rise above the religious discrimination that was the basis for the founding of America in the first place. How dare anyone tell me (or anyone else) that my love is less valid than theirs? As pointed out more than once (especially in the "Stop Dr. Laura" campaign of the '90's), the Old Testament Bible promotes the selling of one's daughters, the abomination of eating shellfish and the stoning of religious dissenters. We may as well all go live in counties like Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia; where theocracies continue to rule and dissenters are jailed, or worse. As I recall, the 2nd paragraph of the United States' Declaration of Independence starts with the words " We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal..." So why should I (and millions of others) not be considered equal to everyone else?

As for Christianity, The New Testament makes no mention of marriage (other than that Jesus performed one). So why do folks who claim to be "Christians" continue to rely on it in an effort to promote their uninformed and hate-filled agendas? I can only surmise that fear and ignorance (the usual culprits) are to blame.

Here's the trailer (via) for 8: The Mormon Proposition:

It seems quite clear to me that the LDS led a campaign of hate against the LGBT community, despite the fact that not one of the books of the New Testament address the subject in any form. I may well be preaching to the choir, as it were, but if one mind is changed after reading this ramble, then this rant was not in vain...

More, anon.

*After I posted this, my sister, a Liberal Born-Again (isn't that an oxymoron?) sent me the following in an email:

"As for Christianity, The New Testament makes no mention of marriage (other than that Jesus performed one)."

It’s actually wrong. He didn’t perform one, he attended one (turns water into wine) and he does speak to it when the Sadducees ask him about it (Mathew 23-30)

On that day some Sadducees (who say there is no resurrection) came to Jesus and questioned Him, asking, "Teacher, Moses said, 'IF A MAN DIES HAVING NO CHILDREN, HIS BROTHER AS NEXT OF KIN SHALL MARRY HIS WIFE, AND RAISE UP CHILDREN FOR HIS BROTHER.' "Now there were seven brothers with us; and the first married and died, and having no children left his wife to his brother; so also the second, and the third, down to the seventh. "Last of all, the woman died. "In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife of the seven will she be? For they all had married her." But Jesus answered and said to them, "You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures nor the power of God. "For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.

Again, Jesus answered the Pharisees marriage and divorce. (Mark chapter 10 verses 2-9)

"Some Pharisees came up to Jesus, testing Him, and began to question Him whether it was lawful for a man to divorce a wife. And He answered and said to them, "What did Moses command you?" They said, "Moses permitted a man TO WRITE A CERTIFICATE OF DIVORCE AND SEND her AWAY." But Jesus said to them, "Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. "But from the beginning of creation, God MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE. FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH; so they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate." He then teaches on adultery after this line. OK- he doesn’t use the word marriage here because he’s talking about divorce, but the last line is part of most standard wedding vows.

Don’t want to be preachy, just letting you know that the statement you made wasn’t entirely accurate.

This is Prospero again. Consider me corrected. Thanks, Sis.

Friday, January 22, 2010


Okay - in all honesty, I'm not sure which makes me sadder; the fact that these movies exist and are scheduled for release in 2010, or the fact that there are people who will actually spend money to see them.

I'll be honest - I am not exactly a connoisseur of fine film (though I always prefer good movies to bad - with a few exceptions). Hell, I love some really terrible films (Flash Gordon, anyone?). I'll even go out of my way to see a really bad movie, as long at it makes me laugh. And I even own one or two (see my review of Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter). But some movies are so bad, they aren't funny in the least, even when they're trying to be (Snow Dogs; Norbit; Pluto Nash; Meet Dave; Daddy Day Camp - sorry Cuba and Eddie, but you're both in so many bad comedies... ).

Here are some upcoming movies that are so obviously bad, their stench wafts from from the trailers, alone (some language and images may be NSFW):

Hot Tub Time Machine:

John Cusak, you were in Say Anything and Being John Malkovich. Of course, you were also in Igor and 2012, so what does that say about your career of late?

Furry Vengeance:

Okay, so Brendan Fraser doesn't have the greatest track record when it comes to good movies, but he was in Gods and Monsters and the relatively enjoyable The Mummy. Still...

Cop Out:

Originally called A Couple of Dicks, Cop Out is director Kevin Smith's first time directing someone else's script. And while I love Kevin Smith's Dogma, I simply don't find Tracy Morgan to be funny, ever.

Repo Men:

Didn't Darren Lynn Bousman already make a musical version of this story? Shame on Liev Schreiber, Jude Law and Forest Whitaker for taking part in this shameless rip-off of an already bad movie.

And that's just a few of the movies that already stink from the future... I haven't talked about The Last Airbender (which will hopefully be M. Night Shama-Lama-Ding-Dong's last movie, ever), Resident Evil 4; Tekken or (God help us) Saw VII. Hopefully, 2010 will provide enough good movies to cancel out these cinematic turds.

See you at the cinema, anon.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Naked Came the Homophobe

As much as I love my Dear D, his taste in movies isn't always the best. His favorite film is Rocky and his favorite actors include Stallone, Seagal and the subject of tonight's post, the "Muscles from Brussels," Jean-Claude Van Damme. And while I often chide D about what he thinks are "good" movies, I must admit his choices are often entertaining, if nothing else.

And, as much as I'd like to, I cannot deny JCVD's physical attributes. He is a rather magnificent specimen of male perfection: a stunningly muscled body combined with gorgeous facial features and unparalleled Martial Arts prowess, Van Damme is the epitome of macho male hotness, as evidenced by the picture I've posted here. And while he may not have (for me, at least) the hotness factor of my personal obsession, I wouldn't kick the man out of bed for eating crackers, if you know what I mean.

Still, I have issues with the Belgian heartthrob. He has been quoted as saying he doesn't like that he has gay fans, and hates that they look at his ass. Really? Then why show it off, so often?

Whether it's displaying his wall-crawling splits in any number of movies, or his totally naked backside, Monsieur Van Damme seems to have no problem with showing off the body with which God and Nautilus have gifted him. So why should he worry about who is looking at? If it were yours truly, I would have no problem with being worshiped by anyone, male or female.

As an actor who prides himself on his body, why should he care who lusts after it.? He must know that 99% of the people who who may long for a tumble in the hay with him have 0% chance of actually doing so. And if those people are willing to plunk down their hard-earned money to see his movies might fantasize about having sex with him, so what? It's hardly likely that they will ever do so, so what should it matter to him? And if it bothers him so much that gay men are lusting after him, why then would he continue to appear in as little clothing as possible, often oiled up to show off the kind of body most of us can only imagine having? Methinks the lady doth protest too much, to quote a certain genius.

Van Damme's latest film, scheduled for release in the Spring of 2010, is the sequel to Universal Soldier, the first film in which we got a glimpse of those powerful glutes. In Universal Soldier: Regeneration, JCVD reprises his role as a robotic soldier, this time fighting against UFC star Andrei Arlovski (Damn!) and former 80's hunk, Dolph Lundgren:

If it weren't for Van Damme's open disdain for the gay fans who made him a star to begin with, I might actually consider renting Universal Solder: Regeneration when it comes out on DVD. As for now, I'll simply list him among the homophobes whose coffers I refuse to add to.

More, anon.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Gayest and Most Insane Things You'll See This Week

Okay - I'm just not quite sure what to say about this picture. That's Adam Lambert as a Na'vi from James Cameron's overblown and over-loved Avatar, quite possibly the single most overrated film (with the possible exceptions of Titanic and Paranormal Activity), ever made.

Now, I know there are both Adam and Avatar fans out there who will no doubt find this image sexy, hot, intriguing and/or breathtaking. Sorry, but I'm not buying it.

First of all, not a single Na'vi in the film had a hairy chest. Second, there were no overtly gay characters in the movie (one of its - IMHO - many flaws). Third, why are we still obsessing over Adam Lambert? Granted, my posting of this image doesn't help matters, but it's the context in which it is used that counts. And in this context, I can only call it as I see it: Lame.

As if Lambert doesn't already have enough over-exposure, why should he subject us to this nonsense? The photo appears via Towleroad, which credits Lambert's Twitter account for the picture. While Lambert may been of the most flamboyant "Idol" contestant of all time, he is hardly the most talented (Carrie Underwood, anyone?) or hardly the first gay contestant. And I suspect his "Is He or Isn't He?" rouse during the competition was all part of the grand scheme in making him a "star." When it comes down to brass tacks, Lambert is hardly the most talented gay celebrity to make a mark. But enough of him and that nonsense.

In insane movie news, here's the subtitled trailer (via) for the latest insane horror moie to come out of Japan, House, a 1977 film which is finally being released on DVD in the U.S. (which has nothing to do with the 1986 Steve Miner film of the same name):

So much for the J-Horror" revolution of the '90's. Honestly, I've seen better special effects on an episode of "H.R. Puffenstuff." Of course, I still need to see it. Perhaps someday on a double bill with Vampire Girl Vs. Frankenstein Girl:

More nonsense, anon.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Hollywood's Closet

That's Hollywood's most sophisticated leading man, Cary Grant (right) with his long-rumored lover, cowboy star Randolph Scott, sharing a dip in the pool at the house they shared before studio execs forced them to separate. These days, the thought of being forced by my employer to break up with my partner makes my blood boil. Of course, in the 40's and 50's, even the merest whisper of one's homosexuality could land one in jail (or worse).

Sadly, it's not much better today. Openly gay actor Rupert Everett takes every opportunity he can to blame his coming out for his faltering career, though I suspect it's really the bad movies he's in, that are to blame. Still, there is such a double standard in Hollywood when it comes to LGBT performers, it makes me want to scream.

Yes, there are loads of openly gay celebrities: Nathan Lane; Neil Patrick Harris; George Takei; David Hyde Pierce; Ian McKellan; Meredith Baxter; Dan Butler; Amanda Bearse; Portia di Rossi; Ellen Degeneres and Jane Lynch to name a very few. But, there are plenty more who, though seen publicly with their partners in gay venues, simply refuse to publicly come out: Queen Latifah; Jodie Foster; Anderson Cooper; Johnny Mathis and many others.

While I certainly agree that coming out is a personal choice (and I hate bloggers like the repulsive Perez Hilton, who consistently try to out celebrities without their permission), I think it is more important now then ever, for those celebrities to openly admit thier sexuality and help the rest of the country move on in the fight for LGBT rights. The more 'Straight America' sees of 'Gay America,' the better. As much as the American LGBT community clamors for equality, the more important it is for us to reveal ourselves as perfectly normal members of society, doing the same jobs and living in the same world as everyone else.

To those celebs still in the closet, whether by personal choice or on the advice of their (probably gay) agents, I say break free from your shackles and show the world that we are as vital to modern society as anyone else. Hate is a learned emotion and the best way to fight it is to admit you are a victim of it.

Come out, come out, whoever you are!

More, anon.

Monday, January 18, 2010

TV Review: "Human Target"

DC Comics' Christopher Chance rears his head again in Fox's remake of the failed 1992 show of the same name (starring Rick Springfield, of all people). IMDb doesn't list what network the show aired on, but since it lasted a mere 7 episodes, I don't imagine anyone is willing to own up to it.

In this latest incarnation, ruggedly handsome Mark Valley ("Boston Legal;" "Fringe") stars as Chance, a private security specialist who takes on high-risk clients in danger. In the DC Comic, Chance takes on his client's identity in an effort to draw fire away from the real person. In Fox's newest incarnation, Chance simply assumes the role of a trusted confidant (or in the pilot's case, an interpreter), so he can be close enough to his client to protect them from evil-doers who want them dead.

Not being familiar with either the DC comic or the 1992 series, I watched the "Human Target" pilot with no preconceptions as to what it was actually about (other than the promos which Fox has been airing, ad nauseum), so I think I was able to approach it with a relatively unbiased eye. And, for the most part, I was entertained, if nothing else. Of course it doesn't hurt that Chance's partner, Winston, is played by Chi McBride (late of my much beloved "Pushing Daisies") and his "man on the outside" is played by future Freddy Kreuger and former Rorschach, Jackie Earl Haley.

The pilot episode concerned the head designer of a new Bullet Train that links San Francisco to L.A. in three hours (an impressive feat, if you've ever driven the Coast Highway). Someone wants her dead, and it's Chance's job to make sure she stays alive. With plenty of comedy and even more face-pounding action, this version of "Human Target" can best be described as a one-hour Bond flick, complete with femme fatales, bald hitmen (you can always tell when a TV character is evil -- he's bald) and an acerbic hero with what may be a death-wish of his own.

Valley is fine here, though I doubt even James Bond would have come through the beating he receives in the pilot with less blood and bruising. And while I'm happy to see McBride back on TV, he is simply transferring the world-weary Emerson Cod from "Daisies" to Winston, yet another world-weary cynic dealing with people who don't do what he thinks they ought to. As Guerrero, the former bad-guy-gone-good, Haley seems weirdly out of place, though I suspect that's what how producers want the character to appear. Haley's dry delivery of death threats to the thugs dispatched to beat him is both creepy and amusing.

I suppose it will take a few more episodes before I decide whether or not "Human Target" is worth the space on my already crowded DVR, though I must admit to being entertained by the pilot.

**1/2 (Two and a Half out of Four Stars).

Here's a clip from the 1992 version for an unfair comparison:

More, anon.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Golden Globe Showers

Ah, mid-January. And the unofficial start of "Awards Season." Each year, The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (a bunch of old guys writing critiques for the European and Asian markets), give out their version of the Oscar for Excellence in American Films and Television. Kind of an oxymoron, isn't it?

I watched the first hour tonight. Host Ricky Gervais was very funny. Even funnier were some of the award recipients and presenters. Monique, winning for Best Supporting Actress in Precious (a film I did not and probably will not, see) thanked God (though what God would have to do with one winning any type of award still eludes me - like He cares). Felicity Huffman proved herself human with a series of teleprompter flubs; Julianna Margolies and Michael C. Hall won best actress/actor awards and I was bored beyond comprehension.

It was only recently (5 minutes ago), that I discovered that not only had James Cameron won Best Director for the derivative Avatar, but the film itself won Best Picture (Drama). Seriously? Are the members of the Hollywood Press Association all teen-aged boys with ADD? Did no one in the HFPA see Moon? Was everyone so blinded by 3D and CGI that actual good filmmaking and acting were set aside? Did Monique actually believe that dress was flattering? Does anyone actually take the Golden Globes seriously?

Of course, I'm complaining about an award show that never has actually been about the "best." But still. Yes, Meryl deserved her record-breaking 7th Golden Globe for Julie & Julia, and "Glee" deserved to win Best Series (Comedy or Musical). But Avatar as Best Picture (Drama)? A bit of my soul died upon hearing that news...

So what did you think of the Golden Globes? Did you watch? Did you care? Are you as annoyed as I am by Cameron's ego-inflating wins? Curious minds want to know, as the old marketing promo goes. Leave me a comment.

More Awards Nonsense, anon.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Forgotten Gems: "Gilda Live"

Yesterday's post asked something about bringing a celebrity back to life and who you would choose. I chose Gilda Radner and said "The world needs more Gildas." And I meant that. I can count the number of celebrity deaths that actually made me sad on one hand. News of Gilda's death from ovarian cancer, delivered live by Steve Martin on SNL, is probably the one that made me the saddest of all.

As an original cast member of Saturday Night Live's "Not Ready for Prime-Time Players," Gilda quickly became known for a series of hilarious characters, many of them based on family and friends she'd grown up with, as well as celebrity parodies no one else was doing (or could do). Whether it was playing advice columnist Rosanne Rosannadanna (pictured); hearing impaired substitute teacher Emily Litella; nerdy Lisa Lupner; hyper-active Brownie Judy Miller or drug-addled rocker Patti Smith, Gilda's total abandon into silliness, just to make an audience laugh was without par.

In 1979, Gilda got her own Broadway show and director Mike Nichols filmed it, preserving forever some of the funniest work from one the funniest women who ever lived. The film also features a hilarious performance from Don Novello as Father Guido Sarducci, possibly the most politically incorrect Italian character ever...

Yes, that's Paul Schaffer as Candy's drummer.

And just because I loved her so, here's some more of Gilda's brilliance:

Sadly, from what should have been a nonsensical marriage of epic proportions, the films made with her husband Gene Wilder are just terrible. Yes, even The Woman in Red, though Haunted Honeymoon is undoubtedly the worst of them (and sadly, Gilda's last). Her legacy lives on through Gilda's Club, a non-profit organization providing support for cancer patients and their families. Who knows what heights of silliness Gilda might have achieved? I'm just glad we have records of some of her best.

If you've never seen it, put Gilda Live in your Netflix queue; even if you don't get the late '70's topical references, there's enough character-driven humor to make you laugh a whole lot. If, like Uncle Prospero, you saw all those great SNL moments and haven't seen Gilda Live in a while, funny is always funny, especially if you haven't seen it in a while. "Oh! My cheechnos!"

More, on Sunday.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

How Damned Lazy Am I, Tonight?

Okay, your Uncle P is wiped. Early last week, I noticed a wet spot on my kitchen floor. (and not the good kind) $4k worth of plumbing and cabinetry repairs (and another $1K to go), a house turned upside down and a previous New Year's Eve back injury exacerbated by the whole mess, and I am just pooped. So, I am going to be very lazy and pass on another one of those questionnaires where you talk about yourself. I thought this one was weird and funny enough to use when I have nothing else really interesting to say (if I ever do).

Full credit to my dear West Coast Stephen at Post Apocalyptic Bohemian. He's a smart, funny, compassionate and all-around good-guy. You should check him out. Love ya, Stephen!

So, here's "What If..."

1. You can press a button that will make any one person explode. Who would you blow up?

Only one? No fair. Well, since Stephen already chose Pat Robertson, I'd have to choose President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, who not only denies the Holocaust, but claims there are no gay people in Iran.

2. You can flip a switch that will wipe any band or musical artist out of existence. Which one will it be?

Another hard one. Kanye's too obvious... It's a toss-up between Boston and REO Speedwagon.

3. Who would you really like to just punch in the face?

Pat Robertson.

4. What is your favorite cheese?

A nice, sharp cheddar.

5. You can only have one kind of sandwich. Every sandwich ingredient known to humankind is at your immediate disposal. What kind will you make?

Honey-roasted turkey breast, sliced thin, with white American cheese; red-leaf lettuce; sliced sweet plum tomatoes; sliced red onion; soy sprouts and lemon-honey mustard on Arnold Oat Nut bread.

6. You have the opportunity to sleep with the movie celebrity of your choice. We are talking no-strings-attached sex and it can only happen once. Who is the lucky celebrity of your choice?

Hands down easiest question on this list, and if you don't know my answer, click here.

7. You have the opportunity to sleep with the music celebrity of your choice. Who do you pick?

Can I go back in time? Because it would have to be '67 Comeback Special Elvis. Damn, he was beautiful!

8. Now that you’ve slept with two different people in a row, you seem to be having an excellent day because you just came across a hundred-dollar bill on the sidewalk. Holy shit, a hundred bucks! How are you gonna spend it?

I'm not, because as soon as I walk into a store, I wake up.

9. You just got a free plane ticket to anywhere. You have to depart right now. Where are you gonna go?

New Zealand

10. Upon arrival to the aforementioned location, you get off the plane and discover another hundred-dollar bill. Shit! Now that you are in the new location, what are you gonna do?

Find some drinking mates

11. An angel appears out of Heaven and offers you a lifetime supply of the alcoholic beverage of your choice. It is…?

Bombay Sapphire

12. Rufus appears out of nowhere with a time-traveling phone booth. You can go anytime in the PAST. What time are you traveling to and what are you going to do when you get there?

Ancient Egypt to discover how the pyramids were built.

13. You discover a beautiful island upon which you may build your own society. You make the rules. What is the first rule you put into place?

All marriages between two consenting adults shall be recognized as such, with all the appropriate benefits that go along with said marriages.

14. You have been given the opportunity to create the half-hour TV show of your own design. What is it called and what’s the premise?

"What's My Dysfunction?" starring me as the host of a show in which a celebrity panel tries to discern a guest's psychological disorder in 20 questions or less.

Betty White: "Does your problem have anything to do with finding older women attractive?"

Guest (An Exhibitionist): "Um, that would be no, Ms. White."

15. What is your favorite curse word?


16. One night you wake up because you heard a noise. You turn on the light to find that you are surrounded by MUMMIES. The mummies aren’t really doing anything, they’re just standing around your bed. What do you do?

Really? Um... since I can't honestly imagine this happening (I may be a horror fan, but I'd like to think I have a grip on reality), I suppose I would be kind of freaked out at first. Once I realized I wasn't in any danger, I'd try to figure what was going on.

17. Your house is on fire, holy shit! You have just enough time to run in there and grab ONE inanimate object. Don’t worry, your loved ones and pets have already made it out safely. So what’s the item?

Before you read my answer, I have to share Stephen's with you, because it is the most amazing combination of people you can imagine. Stephen wrote: "My framed letter from Louis XVI to his sister. A gift from Fay Wray." Is there anything cooler than that? It makes my choice lame in comparison.

I would save the framed poster from my 1994 production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, the first Shakespeare I ever directed.

18. The Angel of Death has descended upon you. Fortunately, the Angel of Death is pretty cool and in a good mood, and it offers you a half-hour to do whatever you want before you bite it. Whatcha gonna do in that half-hour?

Drink the biggest martini known to man while watching a montage of my favorite movies ever made.

19. You accidentally eat some radioactive vegetables. They were good, and what’s even cooler is that they endow you with the super-power of your choice! What’s it gonna be?


20. You can re-live any point of time in your life. The time-span can only be a half-hour, though. What half-hour of your past would you like to experience again?

The last half hour of the final performance of The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told, if only to see those two magnificent performances one more time.

If you can erase any horrible experience from your past. What will it be?

The day I realized my father was an asshat.

22. You got kicked out of the country for being a time-traveling heathen who sleeps with celebrities and has super-powers. But check out this cool shit… you can move to anywhere else in the world! Bitchin’! What country are you going to live in now?


23. This question still counts, even for those of you who are under age. Check it out. You have been eternally banned from every single bar in the world except for ONE. Which one is it gonna be?


24. Hopefully you didn’t mention this in the super-powers question…. If you did, then we’ll just expand on that. Check it out… Suddenly, you have gained the ability to FLOAT!!! Whose house are you going to float to first, and be like “Dude, check it out… I can FLOAT!”?

This question is stupid. Why float if I can fly? If I could fly, I wouldn't tell you where, anyway.

25. The constant absorption of magical moonbeams mixed with the radioactive vegetables you consumed earlier has given you the ability to resurrect the dead famous-person of your choice. So which celebrity will you bring back to life?

Gilda Radnor. The world needs more Gildas.

26. The Celestial Gates of Beyond have opened, much to your surprise because you didn’t think such a thing existed. Death appears. As it turns out, Death is actually a pretty cool entity, and happens to be in a fantastic mood. Death offers to return the friend/family-member/person, etc. of your choice to the living world. Who will you bring back?

My mother's mother, Helen or "Grandmom Cookie." She was one of the funniest, sliest women I knew. When my father complained to her "Jesus Christ, you'd buy those kids the damned world, if you could!" her response was to buy my sister and I globes on her next weekly visit.

27. What’s your theme song?

Imagine (this version made me weep when I saw it on "Glee")

More, anon.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Gayest Thing You'll See This Week

I have not been a fan of most popular music for a very long time. Most of it is unoriginal, boring and downright crap. In fact, I've heard better lyrics in cereal jingles than the Black Eyed Peas' "I Got a Feeling." And some songs are unavoidable, though their inherent catchiness is soon outweighed by their over-exposure. And I never would have heard Chris Brown's not terrible song "Forever," if it wasn't for this infamous viral. While there are plenty of recording artists putting out all sorts of crap, as always, there are the rare few who are actually good.

And then there there is Lady Gaga. That's her in a Dominatrix Minnie outfit on your right. Now I know I've heard and could recognize at least one of her songs: "Poker Face" Not exactly a terrible song and certainly harmless enough. But I'm afraid that I know who Lady Gaga is more for her outrageousness than for her actual talent as a musician (which from all accounts is considerable). And to be fair, she is a fierce supporter of LGBT rights and proclaims herself a champion of outsiders and freaks everywhere. So, what does any of that have to do with the Gayest Thing You'll See This Week? Well, I'll tell you.

If you're a regular reader, you know Uncle Prospero loves him some homemade gay boy video karaoke (and shame on you if you mind leapt straight to porn before reading the word "karoake."). It all started with that damned Beyonce song and when I find great examples of it, I have to share. Here then (via) is homemade gay boy video karaoke of Lady Gaga's "Monster," The Gayest Thing You'll See This Week:

More, anon.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Newest Favorite TV Show

On ABC's hilarious comedy "Better Off Ted," Veridian Dynamics is sort of the Lou Costello to Cyberdine Systems' Godzilla. Sure, they're an evil corporation. But they're a funny one. And since the show is set in the Research and Development Department at Veridian, it allows for loads of ridiculously funny Sci-Fi geek moments.

The Ted of the title is Ted Crisp, played by handsome TV vet, Jay Harrington, a survivor of ABC's disastrous attempt to recreate the BBC hit, "Coupling." Ted is the head of R&D and oversees two geeky scientists, Phil and Lem (more on them in a bit). A widowed Dad raising a smart and adorable daughter, Rose (played sweetly by young Isabella Acres without a whiff of precociousness), Ted is the anchor that somehow holds his insane crew together. His boss, Veronica (Portia de Rossi) is a cold-hearted, fear-inspiring steely bitch who only does the right thing when it makes her look good. And then there's the newest member of Ted's team, Product Tester Linda (Andrea Anders, a survivor of NBC's ill-fated "Joey"), an aspiring anything, working for an evil corporation while she figures out just what she's aspiring to be.

As for the evil corporation itself... well, they're more comically evil, than anything and probably not very effective at doing any real evil. So what if they've tried to weaponize pumpkins; automated the building with a reflected-light recognition system that couldn't detect black people; used a coworkers at-desk death to incite fury of extra work hours "in his honor;" froze an employee and created scented lightbulbs that quickly degenerated into the smell of rotten meat. Oh yeah, they also create d a squirrel so small, it was "highly inhale-able." Well, that's to say, Lem and Phil created it. As two best friends in science and nerdom, Jonathan Slavin and Malcolm Barrett are perfect comedic compliments. Phil (Slavin) lives with an unnamed harridan of a wife, while Lem (Barrett) lives in the shadow of his scientific genius mother (guest-star Diahann Carroll).

Di Rossi is perfectly cast as Veronica, a woman so-driven to succeed she will literally do almost anything to do so. Incredibly self-confident and predatory, her icy gaze can turn men (well, at least Lem and Phil) to quivering piles of gelatin. With her severe hair, fitted suits and clipped American accent, the Aussie actress gets this role and plays it for all its worth. Anders, as the smarter-than-she-lets-on Linda is delightful, and I'm glad to see the writers continuing to explore new places for her to go and new kinds of crazy to discover about her. If Linda worked where I do, we'd so be friends.

But it's Harrington's performance that holds the whole thing together. They only character to break the "Fourth Wall" and address the audience directly (ala "Malcolm in the Middle"), Ted is the audience's link to reality. Mostly sane and usually rational, and it is he with whom we're meant to identify most. In other hands, Ted could have turned out to be a bore, but Harrington's charm and good looks (he has a terrific smile) keep us engaged and his running commentary is the glue that holds the whole thing together.

Unlike the other current workplace hit "The Office," "Better Off Ted" doesn't try to be real in any sense of the word. The ridiculous "science" being performed in the company's labs borders on Pythonesque, while the office politics plays more like Dilbert, but without evil cats or pointy hair. It reminds me of NBC's late '90's show "Working," which was another edgy-evil corporation satire starring Fred Savage. I liked "Working," but it eventually got very silly and weird for the sake of being weird. Unlike that show, "Better Of Ted" manages to keep the weirdness level to a minimum, while ramping up the more familiar absurdity of office-life. A terrifically funny cast consistently and hilarious writing (the commercials for Veridian are genius) make "Better Off Ted" my Newest Favorite TV Show. **** (Four Stars)

Here's a clip that's perfectly SFW:

This next video is what prompted me to write this post, in the first place. It was posted on Soicalite Life (via). It's apparently from an upcoming obscenity-laden (and heavily bleeped) episode. The VERY NSFW video is pretty danged funny, though:

And finally, a couple of those hilarious Veridian commercials:

More, anon.