Friday, September 30, 2011

Shocktober Starts Tomorrow!


Uncle P has to get up very early tomorrow morning to work his day job's one mandatory Saturday of the year, so this is going to be a shorter than usual post.

With the end of The Zombie Zone, I thought it fitting that this year's Shocktober theme be an homage, as it were, so prepare yourselves for 31 days of zombies. I'll be talking about zombie movies; zombie fashions; zombie pastries; zombie comedies; zombie parties and, of course, recapping "The Walking Dead" every Monday. Everything you loved about The Zombie Zone compacted into one terrifying (and hopefully amusing) month of Shocktober posts.

So, prepare yourselves for a month of gore; decay; shambling; running; double tapping and braaaaaiiiinss!
Hope you're ready!

More, anon.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

17 Days

Via Etsy Seller dougfx

On October 16th, AMC will premiere Season 2 of its groundbreaking zombie series, "The Walking Dead."  Fans know all the sturm und drang that followed the firing of showrunner Frank Darabount. But the Golden Globe nominated series seems to have weathered the storm and from all appearances, will continue to be the critically acclaimed show that made even Uncle P's mother (who, BTW, turned 70 this week - Happy Birthday, Mom!) love a show about zombies (no easy task, let me tell you).

New showrunner Glan Mazzara has promised to follow Darabount's lead and continue to provide fans with a high-quality show that's about so much more than just zombies. If you're not a zombie fan, and have not seen "The Walking Dead," I urge to check out Season 1. I'm not kidding when I say that the 2 hour premiere episode alone turned Mom, who always thought horror was silly, into a rabid fan who was actually disappointed that she had to wait almost an entire year for Season 2. And if the Season 2 trailer is any indication, the wait will have been well worth it. See for yourself (don't be a chicken - check it out):

I, for one (I'm guessing among many), can't wait.

More, anon.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

TV Review: "New Girl"

Zooey Deschanel stars in the new Fox sitcom "New Girl," the first new show I've seen two full episodes of. She's Jess, a gal who comes home early to find her boyfriend sleeping with another woman. She moves in with three guys she met online and comedy hijincks (hijincs? hijinks? hijinx?) ensue. Or do they?

Deschanel has been around a while, appearing in indie films and big releases (Elf; The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy). She's sweet and quirky and nothing like her sister Emily, who has the title role in "Bones."

There seems to be a lot of love out there for this show, but I don't know where its coming from. Max Greenfield (who's been kicking around assorted TV shows almost as long as Deschanel has been making movies), Jake M. Johnson and Lamorne Morris (who?) are the roommates. Their characters are stock cutouts: Douche, Sensitive Guy and Jock, respectively. I can't imagine these three as friends in real-life. Damon Wayans, Jr. appeared in the pilot, but his 'real' show on ABC ("Happy Endings") was picked up and he was replaced by Morris, I suppose just to make sure there was a black guy in the mix.

Jess is weird. She makes up songs about herself, is insecure and has no problem sharing a bathroom with three guys (even all at the same time). She makes lame jokes, pouts and mewls incessantly and has a supermodel best friend (Hannah Simone). The roommates don't get her, though they're trying to adjust. IN the second episode, Jess breaks the boys' TV and they force her to go back and reclaim her possessions from her ex, just so they can have a TV again. Haha!

While Deschanel is adorable and knows how to play "Geeky Gal" really well, this show just doesn't do it for me. Greenfield's character is so annoying, I just want to slap him (and if he takes his shirt off to expose his pasty, flat torso one more time, I may barf); Johnson's character is a total cipher and Morris is hardly Wayans. After 2 episodes and not a single laugh, I think I'm done with this one.

Fox is really pushing this show, placing it right after its monster hit "Glee" and before the far superior and actually hilarious "Raising Hope." Maybe they all need some time to figure out what this show is supposed to be, but I've already figured out that I have no interest in spending time with these characters. 1/2* (Half a Star Out of Four).

More, anon.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Day One Obsession Mated with Another

 Let's put away sad things, shall we? Well... it's sad to me that I probably will never get to see Iris, Cirque du Soleil's 'Journey Through Cinema,' in residence at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles. If you've been reading this blog for a while, you know how I love me some Cirque. My only real issue with them is that they have gotten so darned expensive. I saw almost every tour and several permanent and specialty shows) for several years, until ticket prices crept past the $125 mark. I was in on the ground floor, so to speak, and I feel customer loyalty should be rewarded. I've been there since We Reinvent the Circus, damnit! That should get me some discounts, if not freebies.

"Blah, blah, blah, Uncle P. Are you done complaining yet?" No, I'm not. I'm still upset that one thing I love did a show about another thing I love, and I probably won't get to see it (I know, I know. Total White Whine). Still, a Cirque show about Cinema? That's almost like Jason Statham starring as Prior in Angels in America. The Great American Art Form as interpreted by the Great French-Canadian Art Form? Bring it, baby. The last touring show I saw was Kooza in Philadelphia, a combination Christmas/Birthday gift from K, who came with me. We got lost and arrived a little late, but we were enthralled, as usual.

 The current touring show is the insect-themed OVO, and I am hoping to see it.

Maybe I can find a rich Sugar Daddy (or at my age, a rich Sugar Baby) who will fly me out on a private jet to have dinner, see the show and... well... let's just say I'd make worth his while.

Oh. My. God! Did I just offer to prostitute myself for tickets to a Cirque show?

Yes. Yes, I did. And I'll keep doing it until it works, damnit! And if you watch the clip below in Full Screen (as I recommend for all of the clips tonight), you will see exactly why I would do (almost) anything to see Iris.

I know there are people out there who can't afford tickets to a movie, let alone an extravagantly produced live show. And I know there are far worse things in the world than not being able to afford entertainment. Still -- there is a creative energy and sense of wonder in a Cirque show that I have rarely experienced elsewhere. Can you blame me for being obsessed? 

More, anon.

PS - I'm really close to liking the black, purple and green, though still think it needs some tweaking. Please tell what you think.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

My Heart Is Broken

Jamey Rodemeyer  1997 - 2011

I know you've seen this photo a lot in the past few days. Jamey Rodemeyer committed suicide last week after years of being bullied, despite making an "It Gets Better" video of his own and despite a supportive family. Jamey was 14 (my eyes are filling up as I write this, so please forgive a typo or two). Jamey should be just discovering the world, not leaving it. I haven't written about it until now, because I knew I wouldn't get through it. 

Why is this still happening? This must stop, friends.We can't let the bullies and the uneducated and the fearful win. Who knows what great works could have been lost? Who knows what this young man could have (and should have) become? But we'll never have the chance to find out. Jamey won't find out how wonderful the world can be. And Jamey's family will never see him graduate, go to college or find the love of his life. I don't understand how hate alone can kill. And I understand less why we still allow it to happen. School districts need to develop effective programs for dealing with bullying for students, teachers and parents. Parents need to talk to their kids and support them and fight for them when they've been wronged. And the parents of the bullies need to be held accountable for their children's actions, as well. Write to your elected officials; attend PTA meetings and parent/teacher conferences; listen to and love your children, no matter what.

And if you're a young person dealing with bullies, please know you are not alone and please talk to someone. If you think there's no one to talk to, I promise there is. The Trevor Project provides toll-free 24 hour support for LGBT and questioning youth. Call them at 1-800-4UTREVOR. That's 1-800-488-7386. Hell, email me or leave an anonymous reply and I will find someone or someway to help you. Your life is too precious to let bullies take it away. 

The rest of you can help, too. Volunteer at or donate to an anti-bullying or suicide prevention organization and write your elected officials.

More, anon.

I'll get back to nonsense (and the latest design changes) tomorrow. Until then, watch (and share) these:

Friday, September 23, 2011

The _________est Things You'll See This Week

Not Actually Tom Selleck, Though Almost as Delish!

I wonder what this will look like when you read it...

I had too many things to talk about to pick any particular superlative subject for this week, hence the _________ in tonight's title.

Where to start... well, I guess we can start with the obvious... Uncle P, why do you have a picture of a Tom Selleck Birthday cake? Well, Timmy, I'll tell you. Do you like gladiator movies? Good. Me too. They were the first homoerotic images I can remember from childhood. Those and Biblical epics featuring hunky heroes in togas, loincloths and leather battle skirts. Hairy, sweaty musclebound heroes and villains.

In the 70's, the gay community co-opted these physiques into what many refer to as the 70's gay clone. Gay "Adult" film stars like Jack Wrangler and Al Parker had the look. The Village People were the look. In the 80's, the bear with a pornstache moved into the mainstream when Selleck got his own show, "Magnum, P.I."  And there he was... the rich, single, hunky bachelor P.I. with a "man-servant" at a secluded Hawaiian estate... The only way it could be gayer was him kissing Kevin Kline** in In and Out

I bring all of this up because of the absolutely most hilarious thing I've seen in a long time. Apparently, there is no movie that cannot be improved by Tom Selleck's perfect 70's pornstache. The evidence below (via) in the Porniest Thing You'll See This Week (totally SFW):

My favorite is Bowie as Jared, closely followed by Rambo, Superman, Spider-Man and Nic Cage.

So much for facial hair. This next piece (I am ashamed to admit) came from some site I visited today and I feel awful that I am unable to fulfill the bloggers' unspoken etiquette rule of attribution. I am so sorry to which ever one of you I found this on (io9? BoingBoing?), but I'm just too tired to check. It may on either or both. I know we seem to be zombied to death (all puns intended and one reason I stopped the Zombie Zone*), but Iwill always give a shout out when I see something new or particularly clever in the sub-genre. I've recently started re-writing Act III of my latest zombie screenplay and am looking for all sorts of inspiration. The following is courtesy of a facebook friend (you know who you are). It's the second best reason I can think of for using the advertised services. Ladies and germs, the Zombiest Thing You'll See This Week:

Yoga Outreach - Zombies from Spy Films on Vimeo.

Finally, I don't know whether this is the Gayest, Weirdest or Scariest Thing you'll See This Week... You tell me.

LGBT Activist Alvin McEwan writes the blog Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters. The award-winning McEwan specifically targets the hypocrisy, lies and distortions which run rampant in the modern anti-gay movement. I usually get very angry when read Alvin's posts, but I try really hard to be the better person and not send hate mail to all the liars and bullies he exposes almost daily. It's not always easy.

Once a week, Alvin explores gay culture in popular media in the regular feature "Know Your LGBT History." The posts are sometimes poignant, sometimes sad and often very funny. This week's post is very funny. Here is someone's idea of a 'tribute' to 'gay' characters and references in children's entertainment:

Really? I mean, some of them are rather obvious, I suppose. Smithers, of course. But can you count "The Simpsons" as a children's show? Me neither. Tinky Winky? really? Didn't we discuss this already? Batman and Robin. Batman. Robin. Batman and Robin... er, yeah, I know...My friend Arthur and I once laughed ourselves silly when I said that Dr. Smith from "Lost in Space" was "...the first intergalactic hairdresser." Peppermint Pattie? Please - you mock me, sir! You mock me! But the thing that makes me question the whole intention of the video is the inclusion of Mary Poppins. Really? Mary F*&^ing Poppins? How does one come to the conclusion that Mary Poppins is a lesbian

First of all, she is far too fastidious. I don't know a single lesbian who carries a purse, let alone one large  enough to store a coat rack. Second, she's a soprano. I know plenty of lesbian altos and contraltos, but not a single soprano. Third, children love her. Fourth, why do you think she keeps Bert around? Fifth - she can fly. Are you telling me that Tinkerbell; Supergirl; Wendy; Wendy; Elphaba and Samantha Stevens were all lesbians? What? In the same coven, you say? No. I think all the lesbians I know would agree that Mary Poppins (while kind of hot) is not a lesbian. If you have it, please provide proof otherwise.***

Finally, let's address that ___________, shall we?

Oh, I'm crying...During the summers in the mid-to-late 70's, my sister and I spent most of days in our (now long gone) backyard pool. But we made sure Mom let us know when it was 2:45 so we could get out and dry off enough to come in the house for Match Game at 3:00. One of the many, many things that crazy cake lady and I share just between us.

More 'blank,' anon.

*Yes, this is the unofficial announcement. The official one will come this weekend on the Zone's final post.

** The only clip I could find was in Spanish, but you know you know this scene.

*** If you haven't figured out how much I am joking in those two paragraphs, go read some other humorless, PC piece-of-crap blog, You have no business here... Now begone, before someone drops a house on you.

More, anon.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

I Feel Better After This

The Cast of Barry Sonnenfeld's... er, ah... Tim Burton's Dark Shadows

This post is currently being written under the same format as last night's post, though few of you will actually see it in that format. Friends on Facebook agree this particular format is terrible. If you missed yesterday's post, you missed yesterday's lame Caliban's Revenge, ver 2.1

Anyway, Entertainment Weekly post the first "official" photo of the cast of Tim Burton's Dark Shadows, and I must admit, I am very relieved. That's Depp in the center, looking decidedly more Frid than Hatter, as the first leaked photo seemed to suggest.

Honestly, I see no signature Burton style here, which may be a good thing. Signature Burton cast may also be a good thing, as it reunites him with Michelle Pfieffer and Christopher Lee while adding Jonny Lee Miller (the former Mr. Angelina Jolie); Chloe Moretz (Let Me In) and Jackie Earle Hailey ("Human Target"). According to IMDb, Mr. Frid has a cameo role, as does 70's shock rocker Alice Cooper. The photo reminds me very much of a Chas Addams family portrait and suggests Burton has forgone Victorian romance for 60's Gothic, which would be a very good thing. I'm hoping we get an Ed Wood rather than a Alice in Wonderland. I really am...

How much did Martin Landau deserve that Oscar? If you're going to be remembered for one amazing performance (out of many amazing performances by Mr. Landau), why not let it be Lugosi?

Anyway, I'm relieved by the new picture. "Anonymous" can say "Told you so," if he or she so chooses. Of course, "anonymous" trolls commenters are rarely gracious to bloggers with whom they disagree.

More (and yet another layout), anon.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Experimentation in Progress

Not Actually Uncle P

So I started playing with the blog's look today. I am definitely NOT finished. This particular format is much like my original layout, though the colors are more like my most recent. I kind of like the fonts, but the layout and colors are BORING!

I'm going to play around  with it a bit tonight, though I probably won't save anything for a few days, in the hopes that you all tell me you hate this look as much as I do.

Of course, if I do make changes tonight, I'll be sure to up date you on them. I'm doing some creative stretching. I may have mentioned that I need a jump start (or something).

 Ever feel like the world is a very strange and unfamiliar place? One would think that at my age, that wouldn't be an issue. But at times, the world seems completely alien and unreasonably random; an unknowable and illogical place where nothing we do has any meaning at all. I may have mentioned my bout with depression in the 90's and how therapy was the best thing I ever did for myself. This is not that.  This, I think, is simple restlessness. A need for change and hopefully, growth. I'm just starting a little small... "Baby steps!"

More, anon (maybe even more anon than usual)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Forgotten Gems: "Bad Ronald."

My buddy Pax Romano reviewed a 2008 horror movie called The Ceremony over at Billy Loves Stu. At some point, he likened the movie to an ABC Movie of the Week from the 70's. Pax is a contemporary of Uncle P's, though I suspect he is a few years younger. We both grew up in the greater Philadelphia area and are mutual state switchers. Uncle P was born in NJ and now lives in PA, while Pax was born in PA and now lives in NJ. We both adore horror movies and share very similar political ideals. We read each other's blogs and are friends on facebook.

Anyway... Pax's ABC MOW reference brought back a flood of memories of some the best of them. And at the top of the list was 1974's "Bad Ronald." Starring Scott Jacoby (where is he now?); Auntie Mame's Pippa Scott and Dabney Coleman, Based on a novel by John Holbrook Vance, "Bad Ronald "tells the story of socially awkward teenager Ronald (Jacoby) who accidentally kills one his tormentors. His over-protective mother (Kim Hunter) literally hides him in the walls of the house, where Ronald retreats into a fantasy world of his own creation.

When Ronald's mother passes away, the house is sold to a family who have no idea they have a "guest." Almost completely off his rocker, Ronald incorporates the family into his fantasy until this happens. There are lots of creepy peepholes, mysteriously disappearing food and other strange events that don't disturb the parents (Scott & Coleman) enough to cancel their plans for a weekend away, leaving their three daughters alone with a potentially dangerous lunatic living in the walls.

Eventually, Ronald is captured and presumably taken to an asylum of some kind. The body count is very low (this was TV in 1974, afterall) but the creepiness factor was off the charts. It was all my classmates and I talked about for days... Looking back, it's most certainly because the lead character was our age (more or less) and many of us (Uncle P especially) identified with Ronald. There isn't much scarier in life than puberty, except maybe going through puberty while insane. 

There has been talk of a big screen remake of "Bad Ronald" as late as last year, but until it's announced, I won't hold my breath. I have mixed feelings about a remake. It has been many years since I've seen the original "Bad Ronald." My memory may be tainted and or influenced by any number of things, including my own confusing, 13 year-old hormonal insanity. A great script, amazing cast and the right director would tear this story up and scare the hell out of a new generation of pubescent persons. The wrong director would turn Ronald into a mutant or monster of some kind, slashing his way through beautiful teens who have sex out of wedlock. 

If You've never seen "Bad Ronald," I highly recommend it. While the body count is rather low for a horror movie, the suspense is through the roof. "Bad Ronald" may be a bit dated but good suspense is timeless, as seen in the ultimate "bad child" movie The Bad Seed:

Man, do I love that movie! 

Of course, not to be confused with "Bad Ronald" is Andy Samberg's "Shy Ronnnie."

More, anon.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Exceptionally Good Riddance to Excrementally Bad Rubbish

President Obama Signs the DADT Repeal

I keep telling you Uncle P is old. I know this by the amazing number of historical events I've witnessed. The moon landing; Nixon's resignation; the Challenger explosion; Oklahoma City;  9/11; the first African-American President. So many, many more. And tomorrow I will witness the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and the ability for LGBT persons to serve their country openly, with the full respect and dignity deserved by (almost) every Human Being on earth. 

And just to be clear, I say 'almost' because I can't include murderers; rapists; terrorists; pedophiles; Nazis; drug kingpins and two-faced, self-loathing bigots who vote one way and have sex the other, as people (among a few others) who deserve any respect whatsoever. In other words, people who don't read Caliban's Revenge.

Like so many, I cannot believe that I am alive to see this day. This is big folks. Probably the biggest Civil Rights victory since the 60's. And you have to give credit where credit is due. This is another one of many historical moments that will continue to be part of Obama's first term. We MUST make sure he has a second, because we run the risk of having an insane person running the asylum and all of it falling down around us like a house of cards. As much as I keep whining that Mr. Obama has to grow a pair (which he apparently did  today on his tax increase proposal), this is an amazing accomplishment. We now join Canada, Great Britain and several other Western countries that allow gays to serve openly. And you have to be honest, not only was bin Laden killed on his watch, Obama has just kept a major campaign promise to the LGBT community. DOMA is next and with it, Prop 8 goes away and the way is paved for marriage equality on a national level. I have never been prouder to be an American, than I am at this moment. You can read the official announcement here.

Tell your friends; tell your lovers; tell your boyfriends and girlfriends; tell your partners; tell your spouses (legal or otherwise); tell you parents and tell your straight allies: "Please, vote! Please make sure that the momentum is kept going; please make sure an insane person isn't elected POTUS." 

More, anon.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Ch-ch-ch changes...

Time to mix things up a bit around here. You'll notice I 've already changed my profile picture for the second time now. I had a hard time choosing. I almost used the image on your left, but thought that was more like Caliban's profile picture, not Prospero's. I've been holding on to this little guy's picture for a while, waiting for the right piece about Zombies to use it. I don't think I ever will...

Don't worry - I won't be changing much. Maybe the banner. Maybe the font (Uncle P is so old, I first typed "type face" instead of font. Quaint, ain't I?). It'll still be me and my usual nonsense; critiques; opinions; rants and the very occasional insightful commentary on something about which I am particularly passionate. You may hardly notice whatever it is I decide to do. Conversely, it may stick out like an elephant on the blog, which everyone wishes would go away, but won't until we acknowledge its existence. If so, I hope it makes everyone really uncomfortable enough to be forced to speak up and tell me how awful it is. 

I've been in a mood of late and feel many things are due for a change, so why not start with the one thing over which I actually have complete control? To be honest, don't get used to the new pic - it's not exactly what I'm looking for, but certainly as weird and interesting as the first two (though the first one actually was me in a Venetian mask). And somethings may change several times before I decide on which version I like. 

Oh, and yes I watched some of the Emmys, tonight. The two Jimmies rolling around the stage like 10 year-olds was funny. Charlie Sheen was actually and honestly gracious. Winner Juliana Margulies' dress was weird, wasn't it? The opening number stopped being funny long before it ended. Jane Lynch, representin, y'alI! Her 'gay agenda' joke was almost cute... Loved those Best Actress in a Comedy nominees standing tall with Amy Poehler and showing each other love. The singers, while all performers I enjoy, are silly and superfluous. Really, Joel Mchale? I hope to see you taking yourself down on next week's "Soup." Yay, Melissa McCarthy (love her, loathe her show)! Yay, Ty Burrell and Julie Bowen! They are consistently the most hilarious married couple on television.I normally hate the "idiot husband" character, but Burrell is so delightfully good-natured in the role, you can't help but love him. And Bowen has been a fav since her days on "Boston Legal." Halfway through I came in to check mail and Facebook and half-listened to the rest of it. Yawn, "Mad Men." Yay and yawn, "Modern Family!" Is it over now? Yay, it's over!

Keep watching for more changes, and please share your opinions about them. Maybe I'll make a game out of it, somehow. Hmm... 

Remember: Change is inevitable. Change is good. Exact change is better.

More, anon.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Seasonal Acclimation; Obviously Insane People; Dutch Advertising and Other Random Nonsense

Photo Via

The absolute best thing about living in the Northeast is that we get to experience the change of seasons. Winters here suck and summers can be brutal, but our springs and falls are actually quite lovely. I'm still in a bit of shock that it is already fall, but sort of glad it is. It means I'm closer to this year's 2nd JTMF show and that Halloween isn't too distant in the future. My allergies and sinuses don't always like the falls or springs here but they sell magic potions down at the alchemist's for that kind of thing. There's amazing fall foliage right in my own backyard; the air drys out and is cool in your skin and it's just so deliciously comfortable.

Of course, the fall also means elections. You all know my politics by now. I wear them on my sleeve, collar, waistband, crotch and shoes. There are very few things that actually scare me at this point in my life. The current state of American politics is one of them. She Who Is Insane isn't the scariest among them but only because she keeps shooting herself in the foot every time she sticks it in her mouth (man I hope I'm the first one to mix those metaphors when talking about her). Frothy Mix is still crazy, but never stood an ice cube's chance down Dolly's cleavage. The two who really scare me are the craziest of all. You've got Spooky Mormon Hell Dream -- I forget who, but some comedian said the LDS was the only religion founded as an excuse for having an affair with a waitress. We know how much the LDS just loves the LGBT community. I put Mormons with Scientologists; Jehova's Witnesses and Zoastrans at "High" on  the Religion Looniness Scale (And just so you know - there is no "Low" on that scale.) Then there's the scariest Repugnican candidate in history, He Who Has No Soul. The anti-Obama incarnate, the unctuous Texas governor has shown a blatant disregard for the separation of Church and State. His anti-LGBT opinions are well-known and he panders to the fears of the uneducated. Doesn't the Bible say something about many being fooled by those who proclaim to follow Christ?  I do love this, though:

Now that was funny.

And so is this: My sister sent an email yesterday.

"HEMA is a Dutch Department store. The first store opened on November 4, 1926 in Amsterdam. Now there are over 150 stores all over the Netherlands.Take a look at HEMA's product page (catalog). Just wait a few seconds and watch what happens. DON'T click on anything in the picture; just wait... This company has a sense of humor and great (web-designer), who has too much time on his (or her) hands."

I changed "computer programmer" to "web-designer, because this is definitely the work of a very talented and creative web designer. I also added "(or her)" because there's no indication of the artist's sex just by looking at the page.

My sister's email then instructed me to "Click on the link below." I did and was just delighted by what I found there. I shared this on Facebook earlier, but want to you to see it, too. It's perfectly safe for work and kids -- in fact, kids will probably love it. Please enjoy the HEMA product page.

Finally, this trailer for a movie I'm just not sure about, We Bought a Zoo. I love the cast (the little girl is freakin' adorbz), but really? Director Cameron Crowe (whose films I usually love) transplants the memoir of British author Benjamin Mee to southern California in story about a man who gives up on the rat race and  'accidentally' buys a zoo. It could be an amazing family film from one the best directors working today, or it could be a treakly bit of twaddle from a director who should have known better. You get no help deciding which from the trailer:

What do you think?

More, Anon

Friday, September 16, 2011

More Horrors to Come

The Woman in Black

It seems that American Horror films of late have been rather lame (with the exception of this spring's Insidious). And while I'm looking forward to the eventual release of Joss Whedon's Cabin in the Woods (whenever that is), with Shocktober quickly approaching, I'm really jonesing for a good Horror movie.

It looks to me like the most promisingly scary are all from outside the U.S. Have American filmmakers forgotten how to make a good horror movie? Hell, there isn't even a Saw movie coming out this October for the first time in 8 years (though that's not necessarily a bad thing).

There are one or two movies on my radar this October. First, in limited release on October 14th is The Woman from director Lucky McKee (May; The Woods). The Woman caused quite a stir at Sundance this year, inciting one audience member to outrage which required police intervention. McKee has never been to shy away from controversy and The Woman appears to be his most controversial to date:

The same day sees the wide release of the prequel to John Carpenter's masterpiece, The Thing. I'm not sure this movie will have anything new to say about a group of antarctic scientists who uncover a dangerous extraterrestrial life form. I just hope that the inevitable CGI FX are as affective as the physical FX in Carpenter's amazing and horrifying film:

The only other interesting Horror movie to see a wide release is Kevin Smith's Red State, a movie about religious fanaticism gone horribly wrong. Smith based his villains on the hate-filled members of Kansas' Westboro Baptist Church, headed by the vile homophobe Fred Phelps (NSFW):

But the most interesting Horror movies aren't until next year. And the majority of them seem to be from the U.K. and Spain. In The Awakening Rebecca Hall, Dominic West and Imelda Stauntan star in a tale of Post WWI England's obsession with the paranormal and a boys' boarding school that may actually be haunted:

And Harry Potter moves on from wizardry to ghosts in the upcoming adaptation of Susan Hill's The Woman in Black. Daniel Radcliffe stars as a young Victorian lawyer who travels to a remote village to organize the papers of a recently deceased client, only to encounter a vengeful ghost. Creepy toys and dolls prevail:

Uncle P may not believe in ghosts, but there's nothing like a good old-fashioned ghost story to get my heart pumping.*

Finally, from Spain, comes the second sequel to the rabies/zombie thriller, Rec 3:

Nothing like a zombie outbreak to ruin your wedding, is there?

*I wish someone would make a faithfully adapted film of Peter Straub's truly frightening novel Ghost Story

More, anon.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Why Did I Not Know This Existed?

Thomas Jane is a ruggedly handsome actor I first remember seeing in the ridiculous "smart shark" movie Deep Blue Sea, in which Samuel L. Jackson famously gets eaten alive while delivering what should have been the movie's "Saint Crispin's Day Speech." Jane can also can be seen in Magnolia; Dreamcatcher; The Punisher and Frank Darabont's stunning adaptation of Stephen King's The Mist, among others. Currently, he can be seen as well-endowed gigolo Ray Drecker on HBO's "Hung."

But in 1998, he starred along with Vincent D'Onofrio in The Velocity of Gary (Not His Real Name), playing Gary, the boyfriend of a former porn star (D'Onofrio) who is dying of AIDS. 

I bring this up because Jane recently commented (with tongue firmly in cheek) that if his "Hung" character had oral sex with another man, it would be his last episode. Many in the LGBT community were outraged. Jane responded (via) that he was obviously joking and reminded folks that he and D'Onofrio shared one of the longest and (IMHO) hottest gay screen kisses in history, in The Velocity of Gary...

Now, as much as I love movies; as much as I love outre and oddball movies; as much as I love edgy, experimental films and as much as I love queer cinema, I have no idea why I have never heard of this movie until today. And shame on me for it. I do know that I have to find a copy of it ASAP. Damn!

More, anon.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

AGT: The Winner?

Like most fans of "America's Got Talent" I was hardly surprised that Landau Eugene Murphy, Jr. won the top spot tonight, His smooth, Sinatraesque vocals were a pleasant surprise at his first audition and his transformation from car-wash attendant to singing sensation was easily the most predictable among the dozens of contestants paraded before the judges this season. Landau is undoubtedly talented and deserved to win. The man has a velvet voice, a humbleness that is truly inspiring and a rags-to-riches story that rivals Cinderella's.

What shocked me was the Second Place winners; Silhouettes, a group of young dancers who stole their concept from professional dance troupe Pilobolus and pandered to the current wave of misguided right-wing jingoism in almost every routine they performed.

Feh! I don't understand how both the judges and the voters were fooled by these conceptual thieves. If I were Pilobolus, I would sue them for Intellectual Property infringement. There is no way that Silhouettes was better than the completely original and amazing Team iLuminate, who combined dance, light and computer technology to create often breathtaking images.

Wow! I would love to see this troupe perform live.

Of course, young underdogs POPLYFE gave it their all. And while lead singer Kehlani wasn't at her best during last night's Queen tribute, they proved themselves a force to be reckoned with in earlier performances featuring The Beatles and The Jackson 5.

I take consolation in knowing that Team iLuminate and POPLYFE both have great futures ahead of them in the entertainment industry. 

"America's Got Talent" is the only "reality" show that I watch. The acts are often horrible and occasionally brilliant. This season was the best yet and I have no shame in admitting that I love this show.

More, anon.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Someone PLEASE Stop Them!

This is a shot (via) of Johnny Depp as Barnabas Collins on the set of Tim Burton's Dark Shadows movie, scheduled for a 2012 release. Seriously? Depp looks like Michael Jackson playing the Joker in an exceptionally terrible Joel Schumacher Batman movie. 

Okay. Burton and Depp made the remarkable Edward Scissorhands and the amazing and totally under appreciated Ed Wood. But that was back in the 90's when Burton was still a wunderkind and Depp was just known as a "quirky" actor. Then came 1999's Sleepy Hollow. Not awful, but not nearly as good as their prior collaborations. In 2005 I enjoyed Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, mostly because it followed the original Raold Dahl book more closely than the Gene Wilder version. Most critics hated it. Corpse Bride that same year was fun, but it was a simple voice-over job for Depp.

Then came the travesty that was 2007's Sweeney Todd. Seeing Stephen Sondheim's brilliant black comedy operetta turned into a musical horror movie was actually painful, especially given Depp's reedy tenor in a role written for a powerful baritone. In full disclosure, I played Sweeney in a rather amazing and particularly dark 1998 production, so I may be a bit biased. Still, for those who know and love the original show, the movie was abysmal. Most recently was Burton's most craptacular movie to date, Alice in Wonderland. An inexplicable box-office hit, Burton's 3D version of Lewis Carroll's nonsense classic is, quite simply, a fiasco. I could hear the Right Reverend Dodgson spinning in his grave from across the Atlantic as I watched this bastardized piece of Jabberwock poo. And again, in full disclosure (and as many readers know), I am an 'Alice' fanatic, having written several papers in college on both of the Alice novels and much of Carroll's poetry.

So now comes the above image from Burton's and Depp's latest collaboration and all I have to to say  to them is: "Put the bong down, stop chomping on the 'shrooms and leave my childhood the hell alone!" 

Below is a picture of Jonathan Frid as Barnabas in the Gothic daytime soap opera that ran on ABC from 1966 to 1971:

Now does that look anything like the foppish clown in the photo above? Survey says: "Buzzzzzz!"

"Dark Shadows," with its cheap special effects and preposterous story line (which included vampires; werewolves; witches; ghosts; time travel and even an alternate universe 40+ years before "Fringe") has deservedly developed a cult following since it first aired. To see the groundbreaking supernatural show sullied in such a way is not only an insult to its fans, but a slap in the face to the original cast.

Granted, this is only the first image we've seen. It may well be a deliberately campy shot in an otherwise brilliant take on the series. But given Burton and Depp's most recent track record, I think not.

Are/were you a "Dark Shadows" fan? Are you a Depp/Burton fan? Am I overreacting? Look at that picture again. Just as a reminder, here's a 1967 clip from the original show:

Dig that swinging 60's soundtrack! Frid may not have had Depp's admittedly sexual attractiveness, but he was at least believable as a vampire. So again, I implore you all, someone please stop them!

More, anon.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Gayest Thing You'll See This Week

Okay, enough sad stuff. Time to get back to my usual nonsense, don't you think?

The item of clothing on your left is known as a "wrestling singlet." They come in all sorts of designs and colors, are made of Spandex (TM) and make sure everyone at the meet knows when a wrestler is a little too excited about pinning (or getting pinned by) his opponent, if you know what I mean (wink, wink, nudge nudge). I tried to choose as demure an image as possible for this post, just so my readers wouldn't get fired when they opened it at work. But trust me when I say that GoogleImages offered up more than a few images of wrestling singlets that seemed more suited for porn sites, than my silly little blog.

Anyway, YouTube poster simianbrother added  his own tribute to all things Spandex (TM) back in 2009 but it seems to just now have caught the eye of gay news blogger Andy Towle, and consequently, mine. Here (via) is simianbrother's version of Backstreet Boys' "I Want It That Way:"

At my age, the video sort of made me feel like gay Pedobear, but I can certainly understand simianbrother's appreciation of the garment... Dear D was a wrestler in high school. I was going to make a joke about asking him to model his old uniform, but I know he'd hate me for it (ain't I a stinker?).

More, anon.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

In Memoriam

2753 Empty Chairs in NYC's Bryant Park

"Nothing's lost forever. In this world, there's a kind of painful progress. Longing for what we've left behind, and dreaming ahead. At least I think that's so." ~ Tony Kushner; Angels in America

More, anon.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Nunquam Alieno

By the time most of my readers see this post, it will be September 11th, 2011. 

It's strange to think that it is both only and already ten years since that horrible day. I was home with a sinus infection that day and slept in a bit. I came downstairs at about 8:30, turned on the TV and went into the kitchen to make some breakfast. But then I heard from the TV that a plane had crashed into one of the WTC towers. I went back to living room to see what was happening, only to be stunned to see a second plane fly right into the other tower. My heart sank as I realized, along with the rest of the world, that we were under attack. 

The rest of that day is sort of a blur. I watched people leap from the towers and cried. I heard that the Pentagon had been hit and cried. I watched the towers fall and cried. At some point, I called my mother, surprised that I actually got through. The fourth plane went down in Shanksville and I cried again. In the hours and days that followed, I cried a lot. Seeing all of the pictures go up of the missing was awful. Thinking about the fear and pain of those innocent people was awful. Hearing accounts of bravery and heroism helped, but it was still just awful. I spent three days feeling numb and horrified and... awful.

Nothing that has happened in the ten years since that terrible day has made me feel better about any of it. Thousands more have been killed in the two wars that followed. Hundreds of first responders have fallen ill by being exposed to the toxins produced by the attack. Thousands of children grew up never knowing fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, uncles and aunts.

And all it because of religious fanaticism.

I had a wonderful high school civics teacher who once said "Every war is a holy war, because both sides think God is on their side." That may well be true, but there is absolutely nothing 'holy' about war. Or mass murder. Or the pain and suffering that results from them. Honestly, what kind of God would take sides in the wholesale slaughter of His children? What kind of God would tell Jim Jones to force his followers to drink poison? What kind of God would tell David Koresh to burn his followers alive? What kind of God would tell Adolph Hitler that Jews were the cause of all ills in the world? What kind of God would tell Fred Phelps; Sally Kern; Maggie Gallagher; Bryan Brown; Pete LaBarbera; Beverly LaHaye and any other number of so-called Christians - including the Pope - that gay people are worse than terrorists?

Here's the thing: Hate is learned. Hate is taught. Hate is born of ignorance. 

Don't get me wrong. I still have hope that the Human Race will someday come to realize that we are all the same, despite our differences. But until we do (and I can only imagine that contact with extraterrestrials will cause that to happen), we are doomed to repeat the cycle of hatred and xenophobia that permeates modern society. I can only hope to live long enough to see the day when every human being is treated with the respect and dignity we all deserve, no matter who we are or what we believe. 

More, anon.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Pasta & Tipsy Mini-Golf

Long time readers may remember a similar tale of myself and my dearest friends, K, Q & Dale attending the 4H Fair after the three of them had been imbibing all afternoon. As the only sober person, I drove and laughed myself silly as they tried to navigate the Fun House.

Tonight, the four of us got together and had a delicious meal at a local Italian restaurant, where once again, the three of them had wine all through dinner and I (by choice) remained sober. We then headed to a nearby miniature golf course, not unlike the one pictured here. Of course, this place had some rather challenging holes which included some daunting hills, a shot that looped around and back under itself and water hazards galore. I have to say, for a bunch of Senior Tour players, we didn't do too badly. Dale and I each shot a hole in one on two different holes, but I had more fun watching the three of them tipsily make their way through the increasingly difficult course, giggling at the ridiculousness of it all. Thankfully, it was later in the evening and we were the last group on the course, so we weren't holding anyone up behind us (except the poor fellow in the "pro-shop" who had to wait to close up until we were done). K and I even got the bonus hole and won free games. 

It was one of those all-too-rare evenings with some of my favorite people in the world, having some inexpensive fun (and getting a little exercise to boot). After the weird and awful weather we've had this summer, it was just great to be outside, having a great time. Of course, if there had been a hole like this one, it might have been even better:

I hope all you have a great weekend.

More, anon.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Almodovar Does Horror

Spanish director Pedro Almodovar (Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!; Women On the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown) reunites with one of Spain's sexiest exports for his latest film The Skin I Live In

Still gorgeous Antonio Banderas stars as a plastic surgeon obsessed with creating an undamageable synthetic skin. He kidnaps a woman named Norma (Bianca Suarez) and performs bizarre experiments on her. I can only imagine that Norma reminds the surgeon of a past love lost to a fire or some other dermatological tragedy, and she somehow holds the key to his obsession.

That's probably not a fully accurate description of the film, but without actually seeing it, is probably as a close as I can come. Almodovar, never one to shy away from uncomfortable and controversial topics, is probably the most famous and highest grossing Spanish filmmaker, ever. His films are consistently lauded by critics and consistently land on many critics' Top Ten Lists. 

I have seen and enjoyed several of his films and am looking forward to The Skin I Live In, if only to see the director put his very personal stamp on the Horror genre. From the trailer below, I can only imagine it will be unlike any other Horror movie we've ever seen:

The Skin I Live In is scheduled for release in the U.S. in November. I won't be surprised to see it nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film come next March.

More, anon.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

My Favorite New Video Game

I'm not really into many video games these days. Of course, back in the 80's, there were several at which I was quite good. I worked retail full time while going to school part time and spent many a lunch hour in the mall's arcade. I was particularly good at Paperboy, in which the control was a bicycle handle and you got points by breaking windows and hitting customers in the head. I suppose it was a way to take out my frustrations on my real life customers. I was also quite good at Millipede; Galaga; Q-Bert; Burgertime and Tron. Oh, to have those quarters back... Later, my sister and I got into House of the Dead, which served as the basis for the godawful Uwe Boll movie of the same name. In the first-person shooter game, the player has to kill as many zombies as possible, before succumbing to their deadly bites.

Now, home gaming systems have all but wiped out the video arcades and the games feature amazing graphics; have gotten more elaborate; harder to play and even eliminated the need for hand controls. Still, it's nice to see that a classic format can be relevant, even today. In the online game Tea Party Zombie Must Die, the gamer has to take out zombified versions of Sean Hannity, Glen Beck, Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann in order to save the world from their insane rhetoric. It's all in good fun, despite what Faux News has to say about it. And honestly, it's a video game. No one is advocating the killing of real people, here. Created by Starving Eyes Advergaming, Tea Party Zombies Must Die is a simple and fun first-person shooter game in the tradition of Wolfenstein and House of the Dead, though I would remiss in not reporting the pleasure a liberal can take in chopping  Newt Gingrich Zombie; Rick Santorum Zombie and Fox News Blond Barbie Zombie to bits with a machete.

You can get a taste of the game in the video demo embedded below, via the Huffington Post. And I would be remiss if I didn't tell you that my friend Diana M. first alerted me to the game on Facebook, this afternoon. Thanks, Di!

More, anon.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Most Trans Thing You'll See This Week

Paige Elliott Phoenix

Paige Elliott Phoenix used to be a woman. He was recently featured on "X-Factor Australia" whee he performed "Never Tear Us Apart" by 80's band INXS.

Amid all the ridiculous controversy surrounding Chaz Bono's upcoming appearance on "Dancing With the Stars," it's rather refreshing to see a transgendered person be not only accepted, but lauded for his bravery.

As part of a community which often is as exclusive as it proclaims to be accepting, I am thrilled to see that a transgendered person can be judged solely on his talent, rather who he is (or was). And honestly, if I hadn't told you that Mr. Phoenix had once been female, would you have known? Be honest, now. Look at his picture. That is a picture of someone who is unquestionably male. 

I've mentioned before that sexuality is often a fluid and unknowable thing. But the fact the Bono, Phoenix and others have come to terms with their own sexual dysphoria means that they are now physically who they were meant to be is more than enough for me. As it should be for you. Honestly, how does their need to express their true gender identity affect you? Not in the least. Does it offend your religious sensibilities? Tough. Your religion has nothing to do with theirs or mine or any one else's. 

What matters here is whether or not Mr. Phoenix is talented. And, as the clip below (via) shows, he most certainly is:

If I could, I know I'd vote for him.

More, anon.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Goodbye Summer, 2011

Here's hoping my U.S. readers had a wonderful Labor Day Weekend. The unofficial "End of Summer" is usually marked by back-yard barbecues, mattress sales and union parades.

Personally, I have a love/hate relationship with unions. On one hand, they protect workers' rights, created the 40 hour work week and guarantee health care for millions. On the other hand, corruption and greed amongst labor union leaders is still a massive problem. 

I do believe that it is the hard-working middle class that helped to make America  the greatest nation on Earth. Sadly, there were and are those who took a free ride on the backs of those laborers, giving Unions more power than they should have and funneling money into the pockets of those who often deserve it the least. 

Now, before you go all crazy and label Uncle P "anti-union," don't get me wrong. Without unions, US workers would still be working for slave wages, spending 100+ hours a week at menial jobs and working in unregulated and unsafe conditions. 

Of course, these days, anyone who has a job is (and should be) damned grateful for it (I know I sure am). For the millions out there still looking, I feel your pain. Hopefully, Mr. Obama will grow a pair and defy his a-hole Tea Party foes and get his jobs plan into effect ASAP.

I think Emma Goldman would be proud to see what her work has led to over a hundred years after she incited a riot in Union Square:

More, anon.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Forgotten Gems: "The Rocketeer"

The Gorgeous Art Deco Teaser Poster for "The Rocketeer"

I almost titled this post "The Moment I Fell for Billy Campbell." 

20 years ago, director Joe Johnston actually made a good movie. The Rocketeer was produced by Disney and starred Billy (Bill) Campbell; Jennifer Connelly; Alan Arkin; Timothy Dalton and a still relatively unknown Terry O'Quinn as Howard Hughes.

Campbell is Cliff, a young wannabe pilot in the late 30's who stumbles upon a lost military jetpack. After he and his mentor Peevy (Arkin) tinker with it, Cliff makes his airshow debut as The Rocketeer. Connelly is the girl he wants to impress and Dalton is the Hollywood Heartthrob who is a secret Nazi and wants to steal the jetpack for Der Fuhrer.

An homage to the Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers serials of the 1930's, The Rocketeer is a fun and exciting bit of nostalgia, featuring Campbell at the height of his boyish gorgeousness (though he's nothing to sneeze at these days, either). Of course, the big summer blockbuster that year was T2 and there was no way any movie was able to compete with it. Still, Campbell should have been a bigger star than he became. 

The following year he appeared as the usually forgotten American character Quincy Morris in Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula (and is one of the few well-cast actors in it). He would go on to more success on TV, appearing in the family drama "Once and Again;" the aborted-too-soon Sci-Fi series "The 4400" and most recently on A&E's adaptation of "The Killing."  

I've caught bits and pieces of The Rocketeer on TV a lot in the last few weeks, probably because of it's 20th Anniversary. I think it's time to sit down and watch it again from beginning to end. 

Director Johnston (The Wolfman; Jurassic Park 3) has had a truly hit-or-miss career, but managed to hit the ball out of the park with another WWII era superhero movie with this year's Captain America: The First Avenger. Connelly (who first caught our attention in the cult classic Labyrinth) won an Oscar for A Beautiful Mind and appeared one of my favorite Sci-Fi movies, Dark City. Dalton would go on to play James Bond in several less-than-well-received films and Arkin recently made waves with his hilarious performance in Little Miss Sunshine.

If for no other reason (and there are plenty), The Rocketeer is worth seeing just to drool over Campbell. Just in case you doubt it, have a look:

More, anon.