Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Strangest Opera, Best Sci-Fi and Worst Superhero You'll See this Week

Oh, Hell No!
So, Uncle P has an honest to goodness date tomorrow night - my first in more than ten years! Yikes! I met T on "Compatible Partners," the site E-Harmony was compelled by the courts to create. T seems likes a nice, normal guy from our emails, texts and phone conversations. Of course, my breakup with Ric was rather devastating as I thought I had found the person with whom I was going to spend the rest of my life. Looking back, I'm actually glad that didn't work out as my life would have been very different had we stayed together.   

But that has little to do with tonight's post.

First up (via) comes this bizarre and rather entertaining video from tenor August Schram,who mixes realism, surrealism and kink to create this possibly NSFW video for the aria "Habanero" from Bizet's classic opera "Carmen:"

Of course, regular readers know how much of a geek I am when it comes to Horror, Sci-Fi and Fantasy. And as much as I really loved JJ Abrams' Star Trek reboot, I'm really looking forward to it's sequel: Star Trek: Into the Darkness. Here's a little "behind the scenes" video to whet our geeky appetites:

Last, but not least, new photos of wackadoo Nicholas Cage in test footage for Tim Burton's proposed (and happily aborted) "Superman Lives!" movie have surfaced, featuring Cage wearing a 'muscularly enhanced' Superman costume (see above photo via) Personally, I can't get past Cage's receding hairline. Superman should have super hair, no? Henry Cavill may not have been my first choice for the iconic American superhero, but Cage would certainly be my last. Thank goodness this film was never made. Poor little Cal-El Cage might never have lived down the embarrassment.

More, anon.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Immorally Straight.

N. Rockwell
"On my honor; I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep physically strong,  mentally awake and morally straight."

-- The Boy Scout Oath

So, the BSA is deciding whether or not to allow local chapters to create their own non-discrimination policies. I say they're deciding because they've made no real announcement; just a smartly leaked item that sort of went viral. The BSA is also asking for your opinion by allowing comments on their Facebook page and taking calls at a specially set-up phone number (972-580-2330, if you are so inclined), so you can let them know how you feel about it.

But this is a complete sham. All it does is let the BSA look as though they're doing the right thing, while full-well knowing that chapters which function in Catholic, Mormon and Southern Baptist churches will do the dirty work for them. So what does this mean for LGBT scouts and scout leaders? Well, a few troops in major cities will certainly adopt non-discrimination policies, if (and that's a very big if) the BSA itself decides to allow them to do so. The rest us them are SOL, as they say.

Considering all the bad press the BSA has had over the last year regrading this issue, you'd think they might want to try doing something genuinely palliative, rather than a bogus and transparent attempt to make themselves look good without actually making any real changes.  

Having been in Scouts as a kid, I found the outdoor skills I learned with them very useful when I became an avid camper in college (no, real camping in the woods with a tent and a sleeping bag you smart-asses!), but I remember after moving from Cub Scout to Webelo and Boy Scout a shift in the way the other members treated me. As I grew older and it became apparent that I was 'different,' it also became harder and  harder to put up with the constant taunting and name calling. I quit when the Leader (I don't even remember his name) joined in.

Membership in the BSA has seen a steady decline in recent years, thanks in part to parents who don't want their sons taking part in a group that still thinks it is okay to marginalize and deny admission to an entire community based on sexual orientation. Until the BSA says: "We will unequivocally stop discriminating against LGBT people," I wouldn't allow my dog to join.

And just in case you don't know what it's like to go camping, here's John Pinette telling about the one time he went. Needless to say, I have a different opinion about it all:

More, anon.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Flashmob Nonsense & A Hint of Romance

Nonsense on the MTA
Despite (or perhaps because of) the recent deaths of two people who unknowingly shared in the forming of the person I am today, I thought tonight we should talk about something fun.

Who doesn't like to have fun? A smile, laugh or giggle; administered as often as possible; to everyone; every day, would certainly go a long way to making life just that much better. 

"Shut up you liberal, tree-hugging, gay elitist!" 

What? Who said that? You have no power here. Begone, before someone drops a house on you! 

This particularly delightful bit of nonsense has been popping up all over the place today and I am hardly ashamed to share it. As you know, Uncle P adores a good flashmob and have for several years now tried to find a reason to stage one of my own creation... (of course, it just may be the way to... no, not gonna share. Yet. I love when inspiration strikes). 

People who don't frequent New York City think of it as a cold, heartless place where dreams are made and dashed, traffic is ridiculous and its residents immune to their surroundings. Well, here's something to change the minds of people who hate the city I love so much:

I need to walk along 7th Avenue, see a show and end the night in the Village, stat! Good thing is, I may have someone special with whom to do that, soon... Intrigued? Me too. I'll let you know what does or doesn't happen... Well, maybe not everything that happens.

More, anon.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Sally Starr's Dilemma

Our Gal, Sal!
Growing up in the Philly suburbs in the 50's and 60's, there were more than a few Philly-centric local celebrities who hosted kids' afternoon programming, among them: Pixanne; Wee Willy Weber; Chief Halftown and Gene London. But there was only one gal for this l'il dogie -- Sally Starr, who hosted the Philadelphia market's highest rated children's program, "Popeye Theatre" on WPVI Channel 6 from the 50's until 1971, showing Popeye cartoons (the Max Fleischer ones were my favorites) and Three Stooges shorts. She made many personal appearances and retired from her last job as a C/W DJ in Vineland, NJ in 2006. Her career got its start from her 1958 single "Our Gal Sal," with Bill Haley and the Comets. I wish I could find a recording of it... but I did find this insane 1957 blatant attempt to cash in on Gene Autry's massive Christmas hit, an Easter ditty called "Rocky the Rockin' Rabbit" (I crap you not):

And here's a clip of Sal hosting "Western Theatre" for a local South Jersey channel in the 80's (sorry about the quality):

Sally made lots of personal appearances at local events and church carnivals, so when it was announced that Sal was coming to a church fair right in my own town when I was maybe 7 or 8, I begged my parents to take me. And when I say 'begged,' I literally mean down on my knees; hands clasped; eyes cast down begging like a condemned man pleading for his life. So, off we went to Our Lady of Perpetual Hope, a Greek Orthodox church very close by. The exact events of that amazing summer night are hazy lo these many years later, but I do remember the excitement as my father (back when he was my hero), pushed his way through the crowd to the edge of the stage with me on his shoulders and Sally reached down, patted and rubbed my head and said "Here ya go, darlin'" handing me a signed 8x10 which stayed in my room for many years after. My mother, who couldn't have been prouder, still thinks Sally secretly hated kids, but made an exception by rubbing my head. I say my mother is a little nutty, sometimes -- yes, I know. It does run in the family.

Our Gal Sal passed away yesterday, just 2 days after her 90th birthday and many Philadelphia-area boomers are very sad, right now.

All of that having been said, let's get to Sally's dilemma, shall we?

Of course, that requires a little more setup. At Saturday Night Fever High, we had two teachers named Jones. One was a burly bull-dog with a thick, coarse buzz-cut of white hair and a jet black unibrow that always made him look as if he was scowling. He taught chemistry, didn't understand creative people at all, and hated me. His was the only class in which I ever received an F. The other Mr. Jones... well, antithesis isn't quite the word. And because the mean Jones' first name started with a C, he was only listed as 'Jones' on your schedule. The fun Jones' first name was Lloyd, and he appeared on you class schedule as 'JonesL,' which led every student in the building call the beloved Lloyd Jones, 'Jonesal.' JonesL taught 10th Grade Social Studies. He claimed to be color-blind and that he let his dog pick out his clothes (which I suspect were purposely awful); introduced his students to ideas like free-thought, parody and political satire; taught with passion and humor and was probably only 10 years older than we were. So, as part of a lesson on ethics and freedom of choice, Jonesl told every class the tale of "Sally Starr's Dilemma." I have no idea where Lloyd Jones is these days. I have no idea if anyone has ever shared this story on the Internet. I give him full credit. If you are he, reading this, please contact me. If you are a classmate or contemporary and know anything about Mr. Jones, please let me know. *

Anyway, without further ado, "Sally Starr's Dilemma:"

JonesL and his cousin went to a local fair to see Sally Starr. They were so excited, they got there early and went on lots of rides and ate lots and lots of greasy, sugary, generally bad for you fair food. They almost forgot why they had come to the fair, when an announcement came over the P.A.: Our Gal Sal was taking the stage! JonesL and his cousin ran, but couldn't get close enough. That's when JonesL's cousin suggested they get on the Ferris Wheel next to the stage, where they could get a really good look at her. Needless to say, they got on, went around once and then stopped high over the stage. JonesL looked over and whether it was the swaying of the gondola, the height, the food or a combination of all three, let loose a spray of vomit right over the stage. And just as he did, he saw Sal look up at the sound of his wretching. So, her dilemma? Does Sal stay where she was and hope it misses her, or duck out of the way hope she avoids it? JonesL never told us what Sally actually did that day. He would only say that when she appeared on "Popeye Theatre" that afternoon, she wasn't wearing her hat. The moral of the story: no matter where you go, how you move or what you choose, you might get puked on from a kid on the Ferris Wheel. And if you get puked on, get over it and move on. There are seriously worse things in life.

*A high school classmate informed me today (Tuesday) that JonesL passed away last year. I was sad to hear that, too,

More, anon.

Sunday, January 27, 2013


R'ha, A Short Film by Kaleb Lechowski
Like any art lover, I'm always on the lookout for new and interesting artists and their works and I like to share them with you (assuming you actually read my nonsense).

Anyway, I was perusing the often amusing Neatorama and came across this fascinating Sci-Fi CG short film R'ha from German film student Kaleb Lechowski. There is, according to Neatorama, much buzz about turning this short into a feature, though we know buzz doesn't always mean very much. Personally, I really would love to see R'ha expanded to feature length. Lechowsky certainly has some interesting ideas and creates rather stunning futuristic city-scapes. And I love that there are no human characters, a true rarity in the genre (at least on film and TV).  

See for yourself. I recommend watching full screen, especially if you have an HD monitor. 

R´ha [short movie] from Kaleb Lechowski on Vimeo.

I've posted before about shorts with potential to become features, which never seem to pan out. R'ha is different, if only because of it's lack of humans. The four-armed organic protagonist reminded me of the stop-motion demon in Stephen Dorf's 1987 film debut, The Gate and the hydra-like A.I. character was nothing we haven't seen before. Machines rising against their organic creators is hardly a new Sci-Fi theme nor are bands of determined rebels fighting for their (usually) humanity. And while the plot and dialog are hardly groundbreaking, Lechowski's visual (especially those astounding alien skylines) acumen cannot be denied. I honestly want to see what happened before this scene and what happens after. And I have to wonder, can machines lose their "minds?"

What do you think? Is R'ha something you'd want to spend 90 - 140 minutes watching? I'm pretty sure I would.

More, anon.

Review: "Les Miserables"

Good news: Les Miserables isn't as bad as the haters say it is.  Bad news: It's not nearly as good as it's fans would have you believe.

While it seems everyone wants to adapt movies into Broadway musicals these days (thank you, Galactic Empire), it's still risky to do so in reverse. For every Cabaret or Chicago, there's a Phantom of the Opera or The Producers. And while
I found much to really like about what director Tom Hooper (The King's Speech) did with the piece, many of his choices seemed inconsistent with the scope of an epic tale like Victor Hugo's massive anti-war/redemption/romance. 

There are many great things to say about Hooper's casting, the most pleasantly surprising being Amanda Seyfried's lovely, sweet and honest soprano - like I needed another reason to love her. I know much has been made about the performances of Anne Hathaway, Russell Crowe and Hugh Jackman, both good and bad. Hathaway is very good in her rather brief 20 minute appearance in a nearly 3-hour film. And while Crowe is the weaker singer (they transposed the vocal part of every one of Javert's songs), Jackman actually comes of the worse, nearly strangling to death on "Bring Him Home" (so gorgeously rendered by Colm Wilkinson in the original London and New York Productions*). Hathaway's version of "I Dreamed a Dream" my not be the (and I hate to use the word) 'prettiest,' but the performance probably comes closest to the lyrics' intent than any which may have come before. If you're a fan of Susan Boyle's cover, you'll probably hate this one. And despite what I may feel about Crowe as a human being, he takes his job seriously and his intensity helps his performance past his less-than-perfect vocals in the role of the relentless Detective Javert. Following in the footsteps of Robert Pattinson and Andrew Garfield as really creepy Brit boys American girls swoon over, Eddie Redmayne does a fine job with the vocals, though I have no idea how anyone might fall in love-at-first-sight with him. Right behind Seyfried is Samantha Barks, making her screen debut as Eponine after having sung the role in the show's 25th Anniversary Concert. Barks' performance of "On My Own" (possibly the ultimate song about unrequited love ever written) is one of the film's best scenes. Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter are well cast as the comically villainous inn-keepers, the Thenardiers and gorgeous Aaron Tveit is terrific as the impassioned revolutionary, Enjolras. Daniel Huttlestone (12 at the time of shooting) very nearly steals every scene in which he appears as Gavroche and the ensemble clearly gives their all... 

Hooper obviously has a vision and while he has done his best to be true to it, I can't honestly say his vision works for this particular piece. Hooper spends 90% of the film in close-up after close-up after close-up. The few things not shot this way seemed like aborted attempts to convey the scope of Cameron Macintosh's original stage production. On stage, Les Miserables is practically transcendent when you see it for the first time. Even well-done smaller productions can be truly breathtaking. The seemingly endless close-ups were anything but. Danny Cohen's gorgeous cinematography only serves to enhance Eve Stewart's meticulous production design and Paco Delgado's equally detailed costumes, though the new song "Suddenly" (written only so the film could be eligible for a "Best Song" Oscar), does little to add to Schonberg's and Boubil's original show.

The consensus among the group of actors/directors/musical theatre veterans with whom I saw it tonight: Hooper's adaptation of Les Miserables, while not exactly terrible, suffers from a lack of the theatricality which made the show so successful in the first place. While hardly the worst film adaptation of a stage musical (The Wiz, anyone?), the source material would have probably benefited from a less intimate directing style in order to properly relay Jean val Jean's 30+ year saga. **1/2 (Two and a Half Out of Four Stars). If you like movie musicals and have never seen the show (or heard it's many cast recordings), you may enjoy it. If you are a fan of the show, you might want to skip this version.

 *In the movie, Wilkinson plays the kindly Bishop who gives Val Jean a new lease on life.

More, anon.

Friday, January 25, 2013

A Night for Me

Off to work on some much-neglected screenwriting. No, really. I am. I promise. In the the meantime, here's the best of Lucille Bluth:

I so loved that show!

More, anon.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

TV Review: "American Horror Story: Asylum - Madness Ends"

Yeah, What Pepper Said.
Season 2 of Ryan Murphy's and Brad Falchuck's mini-series/anthology hybrid "American Horror Story: Asylum" ended last night with an episode titled Madness Ends. Last week's episode, Continuum, started to tie up the loose ends and seemed rather sedate, given the deliberately disturbing and off-putting story of lunacy, aliens, Nazi experiments, demonic possession and crushing guilt.

Unlike Season 1, which pretty much revolved around 6 or so central characters and a modest supporting cast; "Asylum," while having many more supporting characters with their own subplots, was ultimately about three people: Sister Jude (the incomparable Jessica Lange); Kit Walker (Evan Peters, finally coming into his own) and Lana Winters (Sarah Paulson in a true Tour-de-Force performance that deserves as much recognition as Lange's).  And the writing this season was even better than last. There were so many things going both in and out Briacliff, none of it should have made any sense or fit together at all, but it did and it shows that taking time to develop a story-line all the way through before writing a single episode is the way to go. And the season finale was no exception to the rest of the season, which truly surprised me by wringing more than a tear or two out of jaded old Uncle P's eyes. No matter how awful things had been or how badly they had treated one another, we came to care about these three people and we wanted to know what happened to them.  

Madness Ends starts in the present as an aging and now very famous Lana gives a rather intimate interview on the eve of receiving a Kennedy Center Honor. As Lana tells the truth about everything, flashbacks filled in the details of what happened after Kit found the supposedly dead Jude at Briarcliff. And even if not every question was answered (why did the aliens want Kit and what did his children do to calm Jude's damaged sanity in the woods?), their stories ended quite appropriately, if - in at least one case - a bit predictably. 

I didn't know how they were going to top Season 1 and now have no idea what to expect from the already announced Season 3. I have no doubt that Murphy and Falchuck have finally found a show that may be able to maintain it's momentum by introducing a new story each season, using a rotating ensemble of astoundingly talented actors and a team of insane writers with only their imaginations to limit them. Don't be surprised if other networks copy FX's 'long format mini-series' (have Murphy and Falchuk created "Repertory Television?") approach used on other genres. Of course, the 'Big 4' won't be able to be nearly as edgy or experimental as FX can.

Bizarre; creepy; ironic; blasphemous; outrageous; sexy; gross; shocking; horrific and so very over-the-top, but always so very effective, Asylum set a new bar which I can't wait to see raised in Season 3. American Horror Story is a must see for fans of Horror and terrific acting & writing. **** (Four Out of Four Stars).

More, anon.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Gayest Things You'll See This Week (Possibly NSFW Edition)

NPH Goes Bollywood Sexy!
As you may have noticed, my taste; interests and (hopefully) my life might be described as 'eclectic.' When it comes to movies, I may have some favorite genres, but that doesn't mean I don't enjoy others. The first time I actually appreciated a Bollywood musical number was in the delightful and underrated romantic comedy The Guru. Sure, it was Americanized, but I was intrigued by the dance style and wanted more. Luckily, Baz Luhrman gave us an even more elaborate number in the finale to Moulin Rouge and I was hooked. I started seeking them out, learning quickly the difference between a good Bollywood musical and a bad one (production values make all the difference). The plots of most of these films are for the most part, preposterous star-crossed lovers stories or tales of syndicated crime (sometimes both in the same movie). But they all feature those fascinating andcomplex dance numbers. Of course, many of you were with me when I first learned about a Bollywood superstar who is quickly growing into an official "Obsession" (though he'll never replace THE Obsession). I'm referring to the very talented, very hot Hrithic Roshan (sigh...).

His eyes! His face! His body! His dancing! Honestly, I have no qualms about saying Roshan's dance skills put Michael Jackson's to shame. Don't get me wrong, Jackson was a damn good dancer. Roshan is undoubtedly better. Of course, Roshan's 'complete package' and a hotness level of 17 on scale of 1 to 10, eclipses everything else anyway. (sigh...). He truly is stunningly beautiful, isn't he? (sigh..). No, really. I'm fine. (sigh...).

Of course, the one thing Bollywood musicals very rarely celebrate, is gay love. Step right up, Prince Harris. Oh - Let me 'splain, Lucy. If Ellen is our High Queen Lesbian and Elton our High Queen Queen, then America's gay boy next door Neil Patrick Harris is decidedly our naughty, irascible and adorable Clown Prince Harry, providing an exceptionally positive role model for today's queer youth, whether he acknowledges it or not. Neil has a YouTube channel called "Neil's Puppet Dreams," which is a series of shorts in which Neil 'dreams in puppet.' Often silly, sometimes racy and always  hilarious, I've been a fan from the start. In the 'Season Finale,' Harris and company go after about 104 topics (alight, maybe 6 or 7...) in their best, most elaborate and smartest episode yet:

The man makes me smile every time I see him, no matter what he's doing and seeing him in a splashy, exceptionally clever, pointed and funny Bollywood parody is a treat. Seriously, who doesn't love Neil Patrick Harris? I know of no one.

And since we're in Bollywood, it's only a slightly longer flight to Oz. In what be the stretchiest segue ever, Australia is the Eastern Hemisphere's equivalent to the U.S. in it's scared-to-commit but happy-to-accept-pink-dollars attitudes. The popular majority supports Marriage Equality, but the governing conservatives do not. Sound familiar? The difference is, Australia has never been afraid to openly, joyously and willingly court gay tourism. Via (site may be NSFW), comes this video promoting a party called "John Homosocial (Australia Day Weekend)." While there is no actual nudity, plenty of very naughty things are rather obviously implied and it may well be NSFW:


And since it seems I unknowingly set up a pattern here (and please let me know if you recognize it, too -- you know, to prove to me I'm not crazy) let's end with a very funny, very NSFW but ultimately endearing tribute to... um... Mom? Ew. But Yay! I'm confused. (also via)

Gurl, I feel your... well, I get it. Literally can't live with 'em and can't live without 'em, eh?  I was also going to post a link to the trailer of a documentary currently playing at Sundance, but decided I was tired of talking about a person involved with it and changed my mind. You probably know who I'm talking about.

More, anon.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

TV Review: "The Following"

A college friend; fellow actor; writer and pretty smart guy, apparently despised the new FOX thriller "The Following." He gave his reasons (which I will address) and has every right to disagree with me. And while I respect his opinion, mine is different. Ebert and Roeper disagreed all the time. And that's as it should be.

James Purefoy ("Rome") is serial killer Joe Carroll, a Poe-obsessed professor of Romantic literature who finds beauty in the death of young women, having killed 14 of his students and removing their eyes (yeah, it's that kind of show). Kevin Bacon (in his TV series premiere) is former FBI Agent Ryan Hardy, who captured Carroll 8 years ago. Here There Be Spoilers:

The pilot episode begins with Carroll's escape from Federal prison just weeks before his scheduled execution, brutally murdering several guards in doing so. Hardy, on disability leave thanks to the pacemaker which had to be installed after Carroll stabbed him in the chest, gets a call to "consult" and finds himself once again hunting a deranged genius - but now Hardy has spent 8 years amassing a cult-like online 'following' who worship him and will do anything and everything he asks of them. The rest of the cast includes cutie Shawn Ashmore (X-Men) as young Agent Mike Weston - a computer savvy devotee of Hardy's True Crime book about Carroll; Maggie Grace ("Lost") as Carroll's only other surviving victim and Natalie Zea ("Californication;" "Justified") as Carrol's ex-wife, Claire.
Created by Kevin Williamson (Scream; "The Vampire Diaries") "The Following" is by no means perfect. Plot-holes abound; some dialogue is less-than-perfect; and plot twists can be seen coming like an MTA train on the 1-9 line. But plenty of cringe-inducing gore (ice-pick-to-the-eye, anyone?); terrific performances (Purefoy practically oozes 'Evil' and yes Mark, Bacon was 'twitchy.' Ever meet a traumatized alcoholic that wasn't?); a dash of by-now-familiar procedural; just enough backstory to set up an intriguing puzzle and loads of atmosphere manage to overcome it's flaws. The addition of the talented Annie Parisse ("Person of Interest;" "Rubicon") in the next episode only makes me more excited to see it.

Not for the squeamish or jaded, I found "The Following" to be one of the most exciting and intriguing new thrillers on network TV. And while it will certainly never replace the exiting "Fringe," I'll keep watching "The Following," willingly giving in to its conceits and hopefully finding the remaining episodes as just downright entertaining as the pilot. *** (Three Out of Four Stars). The trailer below may be NSFW for violence:

Creepy, gruesome fun.

More, anon.

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Gayest Inaugural You'll See This Week

Image Via
Today, Barack H. Obama was inaugurated as President of the United States for the second time. 

I couldn't be happier or prouder, especially when he included the LGBT Community in his speech. This is a massive step forward for the Community as we continue to strive for equality under the law. 

As I write this, 9 U.S. states (Connecticut; Iowa; Maine; Maryland; Massachusetts; New Hampshire; New York; Vermont and Washington) as well as the District of Columbia, legally recognize marriage between two people of the same sex. And while it seems likely that more states will be passing similar legislature in the near future, it is my hope that by the end of Mr. Obama's second term, the U.S. will join the many countries which already recognize the legality of such unions.

Sadly, there are those folks who claim that their religion(s) expressly forbids Marriage Equality. And to them I must ask: 'What has your God wrought upon those countries?' The answer, of course, is: 'Absolutely nothing.' The Netherlands, Belgium; Spain; Canada; South Africa; Norway; Sweden; Portugal; Iceland and Argentina have neither been flooded out of existence nor consumed by fire. Your argument is invalid.

Growing up in the 60's and 70's, I never imagined a world where our President would recognize that love is love, no matter who is loving whom. I admit to crying a bit when I heard Mr. Obama utter those words in is his speech. And knowing that the official Democratic Party's stance on the topic means that every Democrat who runs for POTUS will include Equality as part of his/her platform gives me hope for young LGBT folks everywhere. I also hope that I live long enough to see the day when this issue is as embarrassing for our nation as slavery was 150 years ago. And if there is an afterlife, I hope that Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Harvey Milk are all smiling down on our nation today.

More, anon.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Guerilla Filmmaking and Other Movie Nonsense

Escape from Tomorrow
From the Happy Mutants over at BoingBoing comes this review of a film which premiered at Sundance this weekend. Escape from Tomorrow tells the story of a man who, on the last day of his family vacation in Orlando, learns he has lost his job. As the film  progresses, the man slowly loses his grip on reality, eventually creating a surreal and nightmarish descent into madness. Of course, the extraordinary thing is that the film was apparently shot without the knowledge or cooperation of the Disney corporation, which has been known to sue daycare centers for copyright infringements and asking Santa to leave their parks. Film critic Drew McWeeny says "It is impossible this film exists... And yet, not only does it exist; but it's fascinating." 

Long-time readers know that Uncle P's sister is a self-described "Disney Dork." In fact, last weekend she and the BIL went on their second Disney cruise. And while I personally prefer Universal Studios, I must admit that I have been to Disneyworld at least five times. Which makes Escape from Tomorrow all that much more fascinating to me. 

Personal friends know that I adore off-the-wall, experimental and outright bizarre film experiences. Movies like Richard Elfman's Forbidden Zone; David Lynch's Eraserhead; Quentin Dupieux's Rubber; Terry Gilliam's Brazil; David Cronenberg's Naked Lunch and Guy Maddin's The Saddest Music in the the World are very much why I love film so much. They make me feel like I'm not alone in my personally skewed vision of life.

Here's a clip from Escape from Tomorrow, featuring daddy-bear star Roy Abramsohn dealing with his obsession with two French teenagers at a Disney resort pool:

I don't know how director Randy Moore pulled off this film, though I am amazed and excited that he did. McWeeny supposes the movie will never find a distributor and will eventually fall into obscurity, thanks to Disney's phalanx of lawyers. Still, I think that I must see Escape from Tomorrow, if only to satisfy my curiosity and add it to my list of outsider films I've loved or hated.

Trust me, I don't get it anymore than you.

More, anon.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

I've Always Suspected as Much

It's Girl Scout Cookie Season. Uncle P's downfall are the Peanut Butter Sandwiches. I don't care for the multi-flavored Samoas or the gag-inducing Thin Mints (typing those words was a major hurdle for me - mint and chocolate should NEVER be paired together. The very thought of Andes Candies or York Peppermint Patties can actually send me into a paroxysm of dry-heaving). You honestly have no idea how long I had to hold my breath to link to pictures of those disgustingly sweet confections.

I ran some errands today and was confronted by a table of Girl Scout Cookies manned by the most adorable moppets I have ever seen, set up in front of my local liquor store. I broke down and bought a box of my favorites and a box of Shortbreads for my mother. Of course, each year the box and the cookies get smaller while the price goes up. I can't really fault the GSA for this. Unlike the BSA, the GSA has proven to be an inclusive and welcoming group, allowing female-identifying boys to join and having no policy which excludes LGBT members or leaders. While cookie sales far outweigh membership dues in funding the GSA, they only make about 40 cents per box, just about ten percent. That seems both unfair and exploitative to me.

But this post isn't about the GSA. No. It's about a far more-insidious girl-centric topic: Unicorns. I get it. I think. Girls love ponies, horses and unicorns. I'm not sure what they fully represent or mean to them, not being a girl, myself. I imagine most girls think of unicorns like this:

Tom Cruise was so pretty before he lost his mind, no?

Anyway, I have come to suspect that unicorns aren't really quite as magical and beautiful as girls think they are, especially given this bizarre YouTube series featuring a rather jaded unicorn named Charlie:

But I fear the truth is far more insidious.Via comes this extremely disturbing (yet somehow hilarious) video about the true nature of the Lisa Frank staple (language may be NSFW):

I knew it! Unicorns are merely the tools of homophobic Nazis and gay-bashing, gun-loving nutjobs  who think the Gov'mint is out to git 'em by suppressing their rights to own assault weapons which serve to enhance their ridiculously small penises. It all makes so much sense now!

More, anon.

Friday, January 18, 2013

One Sad Fan

Joshua Jackson, Anna Torv and John Noble in "Fringe"
Tonight sees the end of one of television's smartest, most well-acted, well-written and inventive Sci-Fi series of all time, "Fringe."

Created by J.J. Abrams ("Lost;" Super 8), "Fringe" started out as an outre FBI procedural about a special FBI unit that investigated unusual or 'fringe' cases. Agent Olivia Dunham is brought in to help investigate a mysterious plane accident, along with her partner/lover John Scott. Seeking help from the institutionalized Dr. Walter Bishop, Olivia soon finds herself caught up in forces beyond her control, the least of which is her attraction to Bishop's ne'er-do-well son, Peter. Season one established the show's characters and their often tenuous relationships, while hinting at something called "The Pattern," which seemed to be controlled by a secretive scientific company called Global Dynamics. And while "The Pattern" was eventually (and wisely) dismissed by Season 2, the relationships between the characters was explored more fully, allowing fans and critics to finally take notice. By Season 3, when the idea of the Alternate Universe was established, yours truly was hooked beyond hooked.

Over five extraordinary seasons, "Fringe" grew into something much more special than any TV show in which I'd ever been caught up. Sadly, the truly remarkable performances of Anna Torv; Joshua Jackson; Jasika Nicole and (most notably) John Noble have been ignored by the folks who nominate and award the Emmys. The sweet, brain-impaired Walter, so brilliantly performed by Noble, warrants an award category of its own, while Torv managed to create three different versions of the same character (yes, it's complicated) and channel Leonard Nimoy's 'William Bell' without a whiff of the silliness another actor may have bought to the role. Supporting performances from Lance Reddick; Blair Brown; Michael Cerveris; Jared Harris; Michael Kopsa; Kirk Acevedo; Seth Gabel; Ryan McDonald; Nimoy and a slew of terrific guest performers only added to the show's prestigious roster. 

Smart, intriguing and often aggravating, "Fringe" proved that intelligent Science Fiction still has a place on television along with most of the junk the networks try to force on the viewing public. And while I am very sad to see the series end, I have high hopes that it will leave fans satisfied.

I have recorded tonight's 2-hour Season Finale on my DVR for viewing tomorrow. I hate to say goodbye to this family of characters I have grown to love but I cannot wait to see how it all ends. 

Best Science Fiction Series Ever? Without a doubt. Move over "X-Files." You've been eclipsed by an even smarter and more engaging series.

Of course, I am looking forward to Fox's newest thriller "The Following" with Kevin Bacon and James Purefoy. I hope it is at least half as good as "Fringe."


More anon,

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Gayest & Most Super Things You'll See This Week

Henry Cavill in Man of Steel
Before anyone says or assumes anything, this post is not meant to imply actor Henry Cavill is gay. His picture here is part of the 'Super' section of the post (and the 'Hot' label).

I will admit that I have been a little less than kind when it comes to director Zak Snyder's Man of Steel, Warner Brothers and DC's most recent reboot of the Superman franchise. Cavill seemed an odd choice at first, though I will be the first to admit he is gorgeous. And he's obviously buffed up since his days on "The Tudors." I saw the teaser a few months ago and grew even more dubious. But today I came across the latest trailer for Snyder's version (produced by Christopher Nolan) and it may well have changed my mind, despite the presence of the truly terrible Kevin Costner and the enormously douchey Russell Crowe. I may be late when it comes to posting this trailer, but it was new to me, today:

Moving on to truly gay stuff, James Franco has been teasing and titillating gay fans for years with his is-he-or-isn't-he? schtick. Franco recently teamed up with very gay filmmaker Travis Matthews for Interior. Leather Bar, a film which imagines what went on during the filming of the infamous 40 minute scene which was cut (and subsequently lost) from William Friedkin's polarizing 1980 film Crusing, which starred Al Pacino as a cop going undercover into the gay leather scene to catch a serial killer. I saw Cruising with the same BF who introduced me to YES. We found it depressing and decidedly unsexy. It doesn't look as if Franco and Matthews have done anything to change my opinion of that film with theirs. Trailer may be NSFW:

Hmmm.... Whatever his sexuality, Franco continues to garner a reputation as a provocateur, at the very least. 

And in a very odd segue, linking yesterday's musical post and today's Gayest Thing post, here's the latest from recording artist Aiden James. 'Hurry, Hurry' is a delightfully catchy tune and the video features scruffy cutie James singing to his muscle bear sweetheart, while waiting to meet up in the Times Square subway station:

I've added Aiden's latest CD ('Trouble with This') to my Amazon wish-list. My birthday is only 6 months away....

More, anon.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Blasts from the Past

Ah... the 70's. They weren't all Disco, cocaine and Studio 54. The 70's were a time when Independent Cinema grew into its own and experimental "Art Rock" bands were paving the way for the Punk and New Wave movements of the 80's. 1979 saw the release of Pink Floyd's best-selling album ever, The Wall. My musical education truly began with that album. While several years earlier, Elton John's Goodbye Yellow Brick Road; the first album I actually purchased for myself and the first time I realized that Elton was probably gay.

Having grown up with a Mozart, Beethoven and Wagner-loving father and an Elvis-idolizing mother, I must thank both of my parents for letting me know that while not all music is equal, good music can be... transportive. I may have mentioned that I attended Saturday Night Fever High. I had a 3-piece cream suit and dark brown Qiana shirt for the big dance on the last night of our Senior Class trip to Orlando (the very first time I set foot inside the Magic Kingdom and several years before EPCOT existed).

Earlier today, fellow blogger and often hilarious Facebook friend Pax Romano posted that he was listening to Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of  The War of the Worlds, which immediately made me think of YES keyboardist Rick Wakeman's Journey to the Center of the Earth and finally to YES' weirdest and most amazing album, Tales from Topographic Oceans. It came in a fold-old sleeve with some amazing art by Roger Dean and each side of the 81:15 minute long concept album is just one song. I was introduced to the album by my first out-of-high-school boyfriend amid a cloud of smoke and vodka and I wasn't sure which of the four of them was more intoxicating...  Many years later, I was surprised to learn a later BF loved the album, as well. We spent a July Saturday afternoon in Provincetown with this album blaring on his Pathfinder's stereo.

If there is anything I really miss about the music industry when I was growing up and learning to love an even wider variety of musical genres, it's great album art.

Here's some awesome music from when Skrillex and Dead Mau5's parents were kids:

And here's some random bad album cover art:

A Warhol Wannabe?

No, Let ME Touch Him

Move Along. Nothing Gay to See Here

As What, a Giant Q-Tip?

Bwomb-Chicka-Wow-... Oh, Hell No!

Hope I made you smile, at least!

More, anon

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Funniest Nonsense You'll See This Week

Oh Frabjous Day!
Oh, I do hope you got to check in on tonight's "PUD" notification... Oh, dear. That doesn't sound right, does it? Maybe this will help: Because I have a tiny bit of a weird sort of OCD, I strive to post a blog entry before midnight every day (and actually get a little stressed when I miss an unscheduled day off). And because I usually start them later in the evening, readers who check Caliban's Revenge between 10:00 PM and 1:00 AM ET, usually find the post's title and an occasionally, cryptically relevant image accompanied by the words "POST UNDER CONSTRUCTION."

Now, stick with me here, and if you get to end of the post, I'll tell you what it said instead if the usual, tonight (the first variation ever).* Of course, that's all to do with tonight's post, anyway.

With me, so far? Good. Not for long, I bet...

Those who risk their sanity to regularly check in on what Uncle P has to say (and hey - who the heck knows what the hell I'm going to talk about on any given day, anyway? -- I rarely know myself, until I sit down to write) know how much I truly adore Nonsense. And no, I'm not talking about the ridiculousness of every day existence (though that usually plays a part). I'm talking about what some refer to as "High Nonsense" or "Smart Nonsense." Lewis Carroll. Edward Lear. The Pythons. Early Zucker Brothers. We laugh at these folks' works not only because it's silly, but because it is so with a usually intelligent, winking eye.

So, bearing all that in mind... I had made plans with a 'friendly acquaintance' (a talented, attractive and very funny actor/musician who has made appearances in two JTMF shows). I met (and cast) Mike thanks to D. Tonight, Mike and I got together for the first time in over a year and we very quickly managed to go from 'Friendly Acquaintances' to 'Friends' in one of those rare and surprising evenings when such things happen. And I love when such things happen. Q can attest to how she and I bonded in much the same way one night, while in college. 

And as if that weren't enough to raise my endorphin levels, I logged in to check out my usual haunts after getting home and came across the particularly hilarious bit of nonsense embedded below (via). Please take the time to read the often outrageously absurd credits which follow the 'film.' I haven't actually snorted at a YouTube video in a very long time. I lost count at seven.

Ladies and germs, I give you "Shortest Film:"

*Please don't cheat and go right to the end. Santa is watching, and every naughty thing you do goes in his book! Every. Naughty. Thing.

Now it's going to be anti-climactic, especially since you probably ignored everything I asked and you jumped right to the end of the post without even an iota or guilt or remorse... I hope you can live with yourself.

 So, today's "PUD" notification read: POST UBDER NUNSTRICTION. 

Sad, isn't it? I'm going to stand in the corner and think about what I've, now. And if you laughed at any of this, you might consider doing the same. Or not. I don't care. I'm not really going to, anyway. 

'Your mother was a hamster and your father smelled of elderberries.'

'Hey! There's a great dictator on the gramophone, tonight! Let's all go to Venezuela and smell it!'

I know... you don't get it. But those who do, know exactly what I'm talking about. Well, a bit. We did do the nose. And the hat. But she 'as got a wart.

More, anon.

Golden Obsessions

The Latest Poster for 'Carrie'
That's Golden Globe winner Julianne Moore as Margaret White on the latest poster for the third film version of Stephen King's debut novel, Carrie. The novel, published in 1973, was set in 1979 - the year I graduated high school.* Director Brian De Palma adapted the book into his classic 1976 film starring Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie. It was unlike any horror movie that had come before and featured a shocking ending sequence which had audiences reeling (it was also the Feature Film debut of Scientologist John Travolta). In 2002, the movie was remade for television, starring Angela Bettis (May; The Woman) and Patricia Clarkson ("Six Feet Under;" The Green Mile). The best that can be said about it is that it was 'less-than-successful.'

Director Kimberly Pierce (Boys Don't Cry; Stop-Loss) has revisited the story for a new generation with Chloe  Grace Moritz (Let Me In) in the title role and Moore as her religiously fanatic mother. Both Spacek and Laurie were Oscar nominees for their extraordinary performances in DePalma's version. And while I know Moritz has her detractors (I'm talking to you, JA), if anyone can best them, it's Moritz and Moore. I've been a fan of Ms Moore since 1992's The Hand that Rocks the Cradle and Moritz has been on my radar since 2010's Kick-Ass. I think I have to add Carrie to the small list of remakes (along with Evil Dead) to which I am actually looking forward to seeing.

And linking the Golden Globes to my many obsessions, here's a clip of one of my biggest obsessions, presenting an award to another of my obessions:

Seriously, it should be illegal to be as hot as Statham is. And yes, Adele totally deserved to win over Taylor Swift, and not just because Swift is a fickle slut (I didn't just type that, did I?).

And while we're (well, I'm) on the subject of obsessions, Cirque du Soleil has added a new act to their "adult" show in Las Vegas, Zumanity. "Scottish Fantasy" features a very hot hula-hooping act in a tiny kilt designed by Thierry Mugler:

And just in case you haven't seen it before, here's one of the reasons I love Zumanity:

Let's see how well I sleep after after that, tonight...

*Damn, I'm old!

More, anon.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Awards Season Nonsense

Golden Globe Hosts Tina Fey and Amy Pohler
I don't know if it's age-induced cynicism, bitterness or just an increasing awareness about what's really important in life, but I have come to loathe the entertainment Awards Season and the shows which present said awards.

It honestly seems ridiculous to me to offer up awards for any art form, especially since art is so very subjective. I may love a film; TV show; play; musical; painting; song; album; composition;  sculpture or installation that you absolutely detest. Or vice-versa. You might find something uproariously funny while I find it repulsively disgusting. I may be moved to tears by a poem or novel, while you simply shrug your shoulders and say "Huh?" No one else I know is as fascinated by Dali's "The Discovery of America by Christopher Columbus" as I am. And that's as it should be. Art (and one's response to it) may be one of the few truly individual things we have.

Here's a very personal example: Dear D's favorite actor is Sylvester Stallone and his favorite movie of all-time is Rocky. I have no favorite actor (really, how can one?) and my favorite film of all-time is Bringing Up Baby. If I did have a 'favorite actor,' I can assure you it wouldn't be Stallone. That doesn't mean Stallone hasn't been in some highly entertaining films. It also doesn't mean that every film he's been in, has been bad. Or even that the bad film's in which he's appeared weren't entertaining. Demolition Man is by no means be 'high art,' but I was amused and entertained by it (though, unlike D, I don't have 3 seashells in my bathroom - no matter how hilarious I may find it). 

Awarding folks for their achievements is hardly new. And while I wouldn't be opposed to winning an award of any kind, I imagine that winning a Nobel or Pulitzer or even an Olympic medal would mean much more to me than a Golden Globe, Critics' Choice or Academy Award. While awards shows may be just as entertaining to some folks as great art is to others, to me they are just ego-inflating parties thrown by and for rich people who have nothing better to do than pat one another on the back.

Oh, and for famous LGBT people to publicly come out (via):

Sorry for the bad audio. It's what they had.

More. anon.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Jurassic Pork

Chicken Flavour?
Jurassic Park IV has been rumored for so long, I had begun to think it wouldn't and probably shouldn't happen. Remember back in 2007 when it was announced that the movie was being cast and would feature dinosaurs with guns? That makes about as much sense as Chicken Flavoured Vegetarian Ham (and whatever the hell that is, keep it as far away from me as possible, please and thank you!).

Now, as much as I liked the original movie and hate both of it's even more ridiculous sequels (OK - I'll admit that I laughed when the Japanese tourists were running from the T-Rex in JP2), the idea of a third sequel never really sat well with me. In fact, most sequels (with a few exceptions), remakes and reboots (again, with a few exceptions) never really sit well with me. I've always been interested in original films with original ideas and find most such films to be lazy attempts to cash in on something that has already proven to be successful. Ever see The Sting II or Superman IV? How about Bewitched, The Dukes of Hazard or The Stepford Wives? Ugh!

That's not to say that all such films are terrible. But for every The Italian Job or The Fly, there's a Godzilla, The Wolfman or The Wicker Man taking big, smelly dumps on the originals. 

Indiewire is now reporting that Universal Pictures has scheduled Jurassic Park IV for release in June of 2014 (of course, they're also reporting that a script has been commissioned for the completely unnecessary Pirates of the Caribbean V, but I digress). The real news in this story is that the latest script for Jurassic Park IV has been written by Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver, the writers behind the very entertaining Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which revived the franchise that was nearly destroyed by Tim Burton's 2001 remake starring Mark Wahlberg. I can only imagine that if anyone can revive the late Sci-Fi writer Michael Chrichton's vision, it's these two.

Still - I can only wonder where they might take the story and must offer up a few ideas of my own.:

1. Jurassic Park IV: Dinos on the Run. Knowing they are feared and despised by the public at large, the dinosaurs go on the lam, hiding in seedy motels under bad pseudonyms like 'John Dodecasaurus' and 'Tommy Rex.' Pursued by a team of government agents led by Leonardo DiCaprio, they soon find themselves lost in world of alcohol, drugs and loose women. Directed by Gary Sherman and starring Wings Hauser as John.

2. Jurassic Park IV: Night of the Giant Iguana. A former priest leads a group of aging women on a tour of Isla Nublar and learns a valuable lesson about his life's failure before being eaten by a pack of hungry velociraptors. Starring Hugh Jackman, Dame Judi Dench, Dame Helen Mirren and Dame Maggie Smith. Directed by Danny Boyle.

3. Jurassic Park IV: Rise of the Iguanadons. When an evil dinosaur threatens to take over the world, it's up to a team of Europasuruses to stop her from turning the world into a frozen wasteland. Animated. With the voice talents of Jude Law, Isla Fisher, Alec Baldwin and Fran Drescher as the Iguanadon. Directed by Don Bluth and produced by Peter Jackson and Guillermo del Toro.

4. Jurassic Park IV: Lost in Pangaea. A lonely Allosuarus pines for a simpler time when 80's New Wave music ruled the airwaves and size 127 Chucks were available in hot pink. When she's married off to the Rex of Pangaea, Allie realizes how empty her life is and willingly submits to death by meteor. Starring Parker Posey, Steve Carrell, Bill Murray and Kirsten Dunst as Allie. Directed by Sophia Coppola and Christopher Guest.

5. Jurassic Park IV: We Just Don't Care Anymore. Dinosaurs kill everyone and destroy everything. Starring Matthew Broderick; Pierce Brosnan; Helen Hunt; Hank Azaria; Betty White; Ed Asner; Pam Grier; Samuel L. Jackson; Sid Haig; Anne Heche; Woody Harrelson; Jake Gyllenhaal; Harvey Fierstein; Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio and the corpse of Charleton Heston. Directed by Roland Emmerich and Seth MacFarland.

Spielberg's original Jurassic Park is scheduled for a 20th Anniversary (HOLY CRAP!) 3D IMAX re-release later this year. I only hope that Jaffa and Silver have been able to come up with a script worthy of their Apes re-boot that is as excitingly entertaining as David Keopp's adaptation of Chrichton's novel.

More, anon.