Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Do You Nomi?

This post started out as something else, altogether. I came across a clip on my daily visit to BoingBoing. It was of obscure, androgynous punk rocker Jobriath appearing on a show hosted by Gladys Knight. Jobriath was apparently the inspiration for the Jonathan Rhys Meyers character in the film Velvet Goldmine. The song is "I'maman."

Weird & 70's Bowie-esque (yes, I just made up a new term). Certainly interesting enough for me to do a post on androgyny in music and film. Then, while doing research for that post (yes, I actually do research - I have to know what the hell I'm talking about, though that doesn't seem to stop some bloggers - Hello? Bai Ling, anyone?), I came across something which sent me in a completely different direction ("Ooh, look! A bunny!"). And that direction was early 80's performance artist, Klaus Nomi.

I first saw Klaus in 1979 when he appeared as a back-up singer/performer for David Bowie on "Saturday Night Live. " Classically trained in opera with an exceptional vocal range and a completely, mad and original performance style, the German-born singer soon had all of Lower-Manhattan clamoring to be at one of his shows. He worked with drag impresario Robert Ludlam at Ludlam's infamous Ridiculous Theatre and then went on to create his own shows where he would often perform songs which punned on his name (including 'The Nomi Song'), in a bizarre, robotic style that caused one critic to coin a phrase about him: "He has come from Outer Space to save the Human race."

I was very lucky to have seen Klaus perform live in New York in 1981. It was a strange time - we all wore strange clothes and dyed out hair blue (I was a theatre major with lots of art major friends and it was the early 80's - leave me alone) and we hated pop music and disco and craved the avant garde. It may have been CBGB or some other iconic downtown club. It was hot and crowded and I was excited to be part of something that was so uniquely New York. Klaus came out and did his set and the crowd went wild before and after each song. I thought I had seen the future of music. Here is a clip of Klaus singing 'Total Eclipse,' live:

And here's fan-made tribute video, featuring Klaus' cover of a song you probably know better - the Leslie Gore hit, 'You Don't Own Me:'

Sadly, Klaus succumbed to AIDS-related disease in 1983. He is considered by many to be the first celebrity to die of AIDS, even though he was relatively obscure in most of the world (celebrated mostly in Manhattan and France - yep, he's the Jerry Lewis of "popera."). His distinctive face and makeup have become rather iconic. Even if you never saw Klaus perform, you've seen his image somewhere. Towards the end, he was writing his own opera and took to dressing as its main character, a sort of Elizabethan clown:

There's a terrific documentary about Klaus, The Nomi Song, which I happened to catch on Logo a few months ago. Nomi's "alien' persona is on full display, though interviews with his contemporaries like actress/singer Ann Magnuson (Making Mr. Right; "Anything But Love") paint a picture of a soft-spoken, though brilliant auteur.

Had he lived, Klaus could have been a major voice in music, art and film today. His 1983 death at the unfairly young age of 39, left the world tragically bereft of yet another original artistic voice. If you have some time and want to know more about the early 80's performing arts scene, Google Mr. Nomi. You won't be disappointed.

More, anon.

PS - That Androgyny post will be coming soon...

Monday, March 30, 2009

What's In Your DVR?

I thought I was going to talk about movies or TV tonight, but it turns out I don't have a whole lot to say about either. I thought the TNG episode of "Family Guy" was really funny, but then "American Dad" went and had one of it's funniest, most surreal episodes ever. My DVR is filling up - I need to watch a million and four things before I can record anything else. I dumped a movie tonight to make room (OK - so it's a movie I've seen before. It's still a movie).
I have the whole season of "Nip/Tuck" on there, saved for when most of my favs are off-air. I have my usuals (I'm backed up on "Heroes" and "Saving Grace" though finally caught up on "Damages"). I still have last week's "Grey's;" "Private Practice;" "CSI," and something else. I have last night's "Desperate Housewives." and tonight's "Castle." Ack! I'm a TV junkie! Thank goodness the JTMF show is going to take me out that for a bit!
So what's stored on your DVR ta ht you can't bear to get rid of? How about Netflix? Has there been a DVD sitting by your TV, that just haven't brought yourself to watch? This, by the way, is the reason I quit Netflix and went back to in-store renting. Drop me a line. You know I love it!
More, anon.

For Scott & Steven...

And anyone else who enjoys an outrageous laugh. First, this video is possibly NSFW, though it features no actual sex or nudity or profanity. Second, I'm really sorry about the bizarre, farted (I swear to God) cover of "Bohemian Rhapsody." Turning the volume down does not diminish the video (and the music gets old, fast). Ladies and Germs, all the way from a Polish Fun Fair, the "Cock Cock Train:"

I suspect this was part of the town's Carnivale celebration before the start of Lent. It's also reminiscint of the holiday's pagan origins as a festival of cleansing and rebirth. On second thought, a giant peen spurting out fully-formed children doesn't really seem all that inappropriate. Or maybe I'm just a sniggering teen-ager at heart, as is every man I know, gay or straight.
I'll be back in a bit for another small post tonight. Just wanted to make sure I didn't forget to post that clip.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Disney-Pixar Presents: "Frank Miller's '300?'"

I wasn't sure what I was going to write about tonight, unil I visited my old friend, YouTube. And because I had been recently viewing re-cut trailers, it suggested one I hadn't seen before. I was thinking I might do a follow up to the Classic Horror? post from a few days ago, but then found something that took me on a different path toward sort-of the same destination: Mash-up trailers. And for some reason, I found a plethora of trailers which mashed the 300 trailer's audio to any number of other trailers' visulas. Even more interesting was how many Disney/Pixar films get the the treatment. The first one of these I came across was a Toy Story/300 mash-up:

Funny, yes? Well, linked to that mash-up was this one, for Monster's Inc./300:

And it doesn't just work for CGI. Here it is brilliantly realized in The Lion King/300:

It's not even limited to animated films. I can think of any number of westerns and action films that would work, but this Star Wars/300 mash-up is probably my favorite:

And let's not forget those afflicted with "gamer's thumb." Here is Mortal Kombat/300:

But it isn't just mash-ups. I suppose the bombastic trailer for 300 was just perfect fodder for parody, as evidenced by how many there are on YouTube alone. Here is Ninja Asylum's hilarious parody:

Or this immigration-themed parody from The Latino Comedy Project:

Finally, from YouTube poster "mynameisthad300," this delightfully absurd, MST3K meets the British "Whose Line Is It, Anyway?" parody "Where's My Cat?"

So what are your favorite 300 parodies? Or what other movie parodies do you love? Please share any links in the comments. And I promise another follow-up on re-cut trailers, including the one that led me to all this 300 nonsense.

More, anon.


Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Gayest Thing You'll See This Week (Movie Edition)

And possibly the funniest and/or worst movie clip you'll ever see. Thanks to the "Found Footage" section on I09, I came across this 1987 gem, Rock'n'Roll Nightmare. Along with the most jaw-droppingly ridiculous special effects (and unlike our President, when I say "special effects," I really mean special effects) it includes some of the most godawful writng, acting and directing, ever. Ed Wood would have been asking, "Dude, what the hell is wrong with you? This movie is crap!"
In the movie's climax, a girl turns into a travelling carnival's Dark Ride attraction and our Hair Band hero suddenly sheds his clothes, donning eye makeup and a studded leather codpiece and claiming to be an archangel. Did someone leave the house without taking his thorazine? The puppet demon (or whatever) grunts appreciatively as the muscle-bound drag queen poses and flexes. Then a stagehand throws poorly-made ambiguous "creatures" at our hero (presumably dispatched by the not-scary-but-ridiculous demon), who pretends to struggle valiantly, all the while making faces like a constipated yak (not that I have anything against yaks - their hair makes the best theatrical wigs and beards, as evidenced by the star's new and improved gigantic hair).
There's some hilarious face-off/dance-off moves between the sweaty, steroid-pumping, obsequiously androgynous, 80's big-haired star (one Jon Mikl Thor - is it me, or are there very few more pretentiously spelled names?) "fights" the devil (or Beelzebub or Baal or any other number of names for the devil Mr. Thor can mangle the pronunciation of). There's even some ankle grabbing! It's truly indescribable. You just have to watch for yourself. Oh, what the boys at MST3K could have done with this:

Wasn't that just so perfectly je ne sais qua? I honestly think this movie was made in Mr. Thor's mom's basement with a bunch of retired carnies, aging roadies and the junior high art class for a crew. And that hair just makes me want to set it on fire, poor thing. He's actually not bad-looking when he's not scrunching up his face in all that ridiculous grimmacing. The only things missing were a nipple ring and a masked slave on a leash. Oh, Jon Mikl Thor worked again and in 2006 made The Intercessor: Another Rock 'n' Roll Nightmare. As soon as I have time to find a clip, Ill post it. I hope it's half as deliciously awful as the first one.
And speaking of the boys at MST3K, have you seen this fan-made MST clip on the crap-tastic Tweener vampire franchise, Twilight? Hilarious!

See? You thought I was pulling your leg in my last post. Movies and "The Gayest Thing" in a single post! Who loves ya, baby?

More, anon.

Friday, March 27, 2009

On Acting

What a ridiculous profession, acting is! Honestly, when you think about it, it's totally unnatural. More like a genetic disorder, really. I mean, people get paid to stand up in front of a group of people (all of whom have usually paid and want to be there) and they pretend to be people they're not, telling a story that is usually completely untrue. And here's the kicker: by buying your ticket and paying to see me pretend to be someone else, you are also agreeing to believe me as I lie to you for two or more hours. And worse yet, we're both happy because of it. What? What the hell kind of B.S. contract is that?

But it's been that way for millenia. The first recorded professional actors were ancient Greeks taking part in religious ritual plays to please the gods (a phenomena we still see in modern Passion Plays and religious theme parks). When the poets got hold of playwrighting, everything changed and it became about much more than just honoring the gods, but in telling great stories. And it's been that way ever since.

Actors have been both praised and reviled throughout history and it was only in the early 20th Century that it started to become a respectable (if not still suspect) profession. There are dozens of styles of acting. There's classical British acting, "method" acting (after the Stanislavsky Method). There are those who use the techniques of more modern teachers like Strassberg and Meisner. Personally, I'm what some people call a "combination actor." I take bits from here and bits from there (sometimes more from one than another, depending on the play) and use all them together. I've been lucky enough to include both ancient, classical and modern theatre styles on my resume. and find myself a more well-rounded performer for it. And a better director.

Sunday, I am taking part in another Directors' Panel at my Alma Mater. The last one in which I took part was about scene analysis. This time we're doing an audition and headshot seminar, advising student actors on improving their audition skills and getting the best results from a photo shoot. I love working with young actors, because they aren't afraid to take risks on stage and stretch and play parts they might not otherwise have gotten to play. I'll be holding my own auditions in a few weeks, so Sunday morning may well prove educational for me, as well.

You're bored, I can tell. More on movies in my next post, I promise. And maybe even a "The Gayest Thing You'll See" post. They're secretly my favorites.

More, anon.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

I Almost Forgot

You can also join the JTMF Group on Facebook. We want to get the word out and fill seats, so we may may ask you to share information from time to time. You'll really only hear from us in the spring. You can also access exclusive photos from our shows and events. Above, you can see "Joan Rivers" interviewing two guests at our Fifth Anniversary Red-Carpet Gala in 2007, which featured Charles Busch's hilarious play Psycho Beach Party and a Luau-themed reception. Silent auction items that year included donations from Robin Williams, Carol Burnett and the cast of ABC's "Desperate Housewives." Oh, we know how to throw a party, honey!
By the way... I must make a correction. In a previous post, I mentioned that the MCCC/JTMF "Pride Night" at Angels in America benefited the JTMF. I should have said that the event benefits the James Tolin Memorial Scholarship at MCCC, which was established by the JTMF. I apologize for any confusion.
More, anon.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

More on JTMF

Since Stephen asked in a comment on my last post, if you don't live in the area, how exactly does one make a donation to the James Tolin Memorial Fund? Very simple. Go to http://www.jtmf.org/ and click on "Make a Donation." Your secure, tax-deductible transaction is handled by PayPal, and on-line donations go towards our production costs.
The JTMF raises funds for AIDS and Arts Education charities in New Jersey and Africa by producing an annual event which features a fully-staged production of an LGBT-themed comedy. We perform at the Kelsey Theatre on the campus of Mercer County Community College, in West Windsor, NJ. 100% of our box-office goes to our beneficiaries, which include the Open Arms Foundation - an organization which provides support and services for NJ residents with HIV, as well as HIV prevention and treatment programs in Africa - and the James Tolin Memorial Scholarship, which provides tuition assistance to worthy Performance Arts majors at MCCC. In the past, the JTMF has also supported Graffiti Productions, an organization which fostered performance art education to inner-city youth at risk. And we will soon be announcing a new beneficiary: an inner-city youth theatre company from Trenton, NJ, which specializes in HIV/AIDS Prevention Programming, Visit the JTMF site and watch here for more details.
Our annual June Gala includes tickets to the show (in the past we have presented productions of Jeffrey; Torch Song Trilogy; Mr. Charles, Currently of Palm Springs; The Altruists and What the Butler Saw). We try to include LGBT content in all of our shows, and because it's as much about honoring a fallen friend as it is about raising money, we only do comedies. We also have a catered reception, usually themed around the production, and a silent auction of gifts and services from both local and national merchants. All Silent Auction proceeds go toward next year's production costs.

The JTMF tries to be edgy and for this particular venue, we are. Our target audience is sophisticated, wealthy and gay. As a director, I've pushed buttons and envelopes at the venue (which used to be known as "The Family Theatre."), and am pushing both with this next show. Luckily, I have a producer (and a few other folks) who trust me enough to create something both artistically satisfying and politically eye-opening, as well. We've already gotten at least two complaints that I know of, one via email and one via phone. But our past successes have seen an edgier take from other companies who also use the venue, so maybe we're upping the ante, which is also good.

The Kelsey still prides itself on musicals and children's theatre, which is good for sales, but it's nice to see that they are willing to allow more sophisticated fare. You can find out more about the Kelsey, their seasons' offerings and even order tickets for their shows here. Several companies work in the space, an intimate amphitheatre with no bad seats and one can see everything from travelling children's companies and circuses, to local community theatre companies' productions. NJ's Prestigious Shakespeare '70 calls Kelsey their summer home (they usually go up right after the JTMF show - this year marks their first ever production of "Romeo and Juliet). The Kelsey is also home to Maurer Productions, which stages elaborate productions of classic musicals and modern dramas.

We are also teaming up with the MCCC student production of Tony Kushner's Angels in America. Friday, April 24 will be "Pride Night" at the Kelsey, with ticket proceeds going towards this year's JTMF production of The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told.

If you are in the area and can attend our events, we would love to see you there. If you aren't, and still want to help us out, please visit our site and make a donation. I continue to espouse the notion that Art can (and will) save the world. I hope that you will help save Art, so it can.

More, anon.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

And so it begins...

Tonight was an important pre-production meeting for Paul Rudnick's The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told, which means the JTMF benefit is about to fly into high gear. I started Caliban's Revenge after last year's event, so though I know I've mentioned the JTMF and what we do, I've never blogged a JTMF event for you guys. I have blogged it on the JTMF blog, which no one read. The problem was, since we only do one event a year (something we have been trying to change for a while), there isn't a whole lot to talk about when the event isn't in progress, which basically translates into a nine month stretch with absolutely nothing to say. Yawn. I'm working on changing that and am next off to create the JTMF Facebook page. You may notice smaller and eventually fewer posts as we get closer to June and production.
I want to leave you something fun, and you may have already seen it, but here's a trailer for Pandorum a movie that could be total cheese or nifty Sci-fi Horror in the tradition of Alien. Ah... who am I kidding. Colby Jack, all the way. It stars the still very hot Dennis Quaid and Ben Foster, who played Angel in X:3 and Claire's bisexual boyfriend on HBO's Six Feet Under, so it has the potential to be either. German director Christian Alvart doesn't have many credits at all, and no others in the U.S. Writer Travis Milloy has only two previous writing credits for movies no one has ever seen. Hmmm.... OK - but will it be a pleasantly palatable cheese (a nice aged sharp cheddar) or something stinky and awful like Limburger? "Enquiring minds want to know..."
More, anon.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Add These to the List

Damn! I missed a Sunday night post-date! Oh, well. The reading on Friday went better than it should have, considering some of the play's clunky, trite dialogue. There was a rather lively (and surprisingly lengthy) audience feedback session, which elicited some very positive responses, as well as some genuinely useful constructive criticism (though no one brought up what I like to call "The Mazola Factor"). The playwright seemed pleased with how it went and the director was thrilled. Personally, I think the play needs the help of an experienced dramaturg. So.
But that's not really what this post is about. This post is about two new films that have your Uncle Prospero chomping at the bit, both of them via.
The first, TiMER, appears to be a Sci-fi Rom-com. "Buffy" star, Emma Caulfield stars with Jobeth Williams (Poltergeist) in a tale about the future, where the meeting of your soul-mate can be monitored via an implanted timing device. The idea is, both of your timers will go off at the same time when you meet the person with whom you are destined to spend your life. See the intriguingly trailer here.
Then there is the astounding test footage from an End-of-the-World movie, What's in the Box? below. Those of you who couldn't deal with the hand-held film styles of movies like The Blair Witch Project or Cloverfield may want to avoid watching this clip, but I think it's just about the best, continuous single POV sequence I've ever seen. Exciting, terrifying and enigmatic, What's in the Box? is right my alley. I suggest you watch the clip in Full Screen mode.

I, for one, am dying to know what happens next.

More, anon.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

On Tarentino

Honestly, I am of two minds on Mr. Tarentino. I LOVE Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill Vols. 1 & 2 and From Dusk Till Dawn. I HATE Jackie Brown and Death Proof. I also happen to love the brilliantly claustrophobic two-part episode of C.S.I. he directed.
Which is why I am torn about seeing his latest, Inglorious Basterds, starring Brad Pitt. First, there's that horrible spelling. Then there's the plot itself: A group of Jewish-American soldiers infiltrate France during during WWII with one objective: to kill Nazis. Not that I am saying that killing Nazis is a bad thing. It just seems even more exploitative than even the worst of his films, as evidenced by the trailer, here:

Is it me, or does this seem like a movie whose sole purpose is to show graphic violence for the sake of graphic violence? Unlike many bloggers, I have no problem with the presence of Eli Roth (director of one of my favorite hilarious horror movies, Cabin Fever). And I certainly am not against the killing of Nazis (though many Nazis were forced to be so). I just can't get past this line: "Each and every man under my command owes me one-hundred Nazi scalps."
I will probably see Inglorious Basterds and my companion(s) may watch it through their fingers, but I can't promise that I will like it. Then again, Tarentino may fool me and make yet another brilliant film. My hope is that he does.

More, anon.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Supermacht FTW

An end of the workday quickie. I just found this (via) amusing:

More, anon.

I'll Be MIA

The staged reading is tomorrow (tonight, actually), so I probably won't get to post much, if anything. until Sunday night. Be back soon.

More, anon (that's redundant, isn't it?)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Classic Horror?

Today I came across a very funny recut trailer for Titanic which turned it into a horror movie:

Of course, this wasn't the first re-cut trailer I'd ever seen. The first I remember seeing, and maybe the funniest, was this one, for Mary Poppins:
Then I started looking and found plenty of them. Cleverer folks than I (or maybe just folks who have Macs and IMovie), make these things and I just watch and laugh. So, for your perusal, here are several other trailers for movies that aren't horror movies, but imagine they are. Disney seems to fall victim to these kinds of parodies most, as evidenced by this trailer for Cinderella:

And other classic "family" films can be misconstrued in the same way. For example, The Wizard of Oz:

Or Robert Zemeckis' epic, Forrest Gump:

And the Farrely Brothers' rude comedy Dumb and Dumber:

Even John Hughes' classic '80's comedies aren't immune:

And of course, for every action there is an opposite, but equal, reaction. Here's the hilarious comedy version of The Shining:

Oh, YouTube, where would we be without you?

More, anon.


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Turkish Taffy

While making my daily stop at BoingBoing today, I came across this hilarious gem:


I looked it up on YouTube because I thought it went well with my recent Superhero posts, but then found a whole bunch of hilarious clips I just had to share. Now, I'm hardly an expert on International Copyright Law, but I must imagine that Turkish filmmakers have little (if any) regard for it, as evidenced by the clips I am about to share with you. First, please enjoy this clip from the Turkish version of Superman:

Apparently, the Turkish Superman is so powerful, he doesn't even need to actually hit you to send you flying across the room. And Styrofoam rocks have absolutely no effect on him. At least he sort-of looks like he could be Superman, unlike his rather chubby Indian counterpart above. Though I doubt he can sing and dance as well. And do Turkish filmmakers have no concept of continuity or scene matching?

Next, please enjoy this clip from the Turkish version of Spider Man, in which Spidey appears to be a villain, rather than a hero:

Who knew that Mexican wrestlers played such a vital role in Turkish superhero movies? And when is the last time you can remember Stan Lee having Spidey strangle a soap-blinded, nubile waif with her own shower head? Let's not forget about those killer guinea pigs!
And the phenomena is not limited to superheroes. American Sci-Fi fares equally as well in Turkey. Here's a clip from "Badi," the Turkish version of E.T.:

Did that rubber alien actually pee smoke? Yikes! And Spielberg isn't the only victim here. Take a gander at this clip from the Turkish version of Star Wars:

Wow! What's the deal with Luke Leapfrogger, there? Mark Hamill should have been so lucky. And I have to wonder who got confused... why is John Williams' Indiana Jones music appearing in a Star Wars rip-off? And more importantly, why do the cheesy sound effects keep interrupting it? Even worse, not only has an entire concept been ripped off, but actual footage from the movie they're ripping off has been randomly inserted, as if no one would notice. Do the folks at Lucasfilm know about this?

Speaking of bad sound effects, here's a clip from "Korkusuz," the Turkish version of Rambo:

I love how what is supposed to be the sound of flesh being punched is the same as the sound of cloth-covered flesh being punched. And as with the Turkish Superman, Turkish Rambo doesn't need to actually land a punch to beat up his enemies. At least the Turkish Rambo is hotter than Stallone. I know I wouldn't kick him out for eating cous-cous in bed.
Finally, and possibly most horrific of all, I present you with the penultimate scene from "Seytan," the Turkish version of The Exorcist:

Santa? Why are you performing an exorcism? Shouldn't you be at the North Pole, making toys for well-behaved Christian children? And what's up with your creepy buddy and his ultra-wide floral tie? Why is beating up that poor girl with the bad skin? Dimi... why you do dis to me?
I can't wait to see the Turkish version of Watchmen (though I doubt we'll see Dr. Constantinople's big blue penis).

More, anon.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Parties, Baking, Rehearsal and Drunken Actors

Quite a title, isn't it? So, tomorrow is the St. Patrick's Day party at my day job. You have to understand though, that where I work we have parties at the drop of a hat. "Oops! I sneezed! Let's have a party!" It wouldn't be so bad, but every department on the floor joins in. There is enough food for two weddings and the leftovers go on for days. Some people stop at a store or bakery and just buy something lame like chips and jarred salsa or a supermarket cake. Other people are up all night the night before, cooking and making special dishes. Now, not to blow my own horn (these days though, it seems I'm the only one who does... haha), but I happen to be a pretty darned good cook. The folks at work always look forward to whatever I show up with on party day, and my dish is always among the first to be gone. For my birthday last year, I received a "Monkey Bread" kit. For those unfamiliar, Monkey Bread is a lumpy, tear-apart sweet bread, usually made with a biscuit type-dough and a brown-sugar and cinnamon glaze and baked in a bundt-style pan. Sometimes it's stuffed with cream cheese. After the first time making it, I thought "You can make this a million ways" and I started experimenting. For the last work party, I made a Tropical Monkey Bread with pineapple cream-cheese stuffing and a crushed pecans in the topping. This time, I decided to try a savory version, with spinach, onions and sharp cheddar (I may do a spiced ham and cheese, next time). So what does this have to do with Rehearsal and Drunken Actors? Well...

I am currently rehearsing for a staged reading of a new play which goes up this Friday. Staged readings are nice - they require minimal rehearsal and no memorization. We had our first read-through last week and tonight we were adding the minimal blocking (movement) for the piece. It's an interesting work in which I am playing the psychiatrist who, in 1972, admitted to being gay at the APA convention in Philadelphia, paving the way for the removal of homosexuality from the APA's list of mental disorders in 1973. There are six actors, only one of whom I know well and have worked with before. Two are relatively young, and neither have played gay characters before. Tonight's rehearsal started at 8 (later than most). Five of us were there at 7:50. The sixth didn't make it until 8:45. When he did arrive, claiming he'd gotten caught up at work, he joined me on stage for our first scene together and nearly knocked me over with his whiskey breath, which I could've lit aflame with a match. I don't know who else noticed. I mentioned it to the actor I know, but not the director (didn't think it was my place, actually). But the point is, he delayed rehearsal and caused me to get home much later than I had hoped. Which then meant that I was starting my baking at 10:30 and literally finished just before I started this rant. I'm now tired, annoyed and though my bread smells delicious, I have no idea if it actually worked or not, because I was rushed in preparing it.
So, what's my point? I guess I'm just pissed that two things I had planned for tonight were delayed because some young pissant actor decided to get drunk before rehearsal. Really, is it too much to ask for a little professionalism and respect for your fellow cast mates? OK - maybe the poor fellow is nervous about playing gay. Maybe he has a problem. I don't know and don't care. Just don't waste my time with your issues. kid. There. I feel a little better now. And how was your evening?
More, anon.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Fall of Western Civilization

I, for one, despise so-called "Reality TV." There are several reasons for this. First, as a writer myself, I hate that it puts creative TV writers out of work. Second, it is probably the most misnamed TV genre, ever. There is nothing real about "Reality TV." Producers manipulate the participants and edit footage for the sake of ratings. No matter that an actually nice person may be made into a villain or a horrible person is depicted as good. As long as the ratings are there; as long as the vultures are watching to pick over the remains; as long as the audience gets to scream "Yay!" or "Nay!" We may as well be feeding Christians to the lions. Third and finally, it allows shallow (and often exceptionally stupid people) a shot at fame - or infamy. Does anyone really remember who won on the first season of "The Apprentice?" I don't. All I remember is the vile Amorosa; a petty, shallow and all-around repulsive woman who stooped to the lowest common denominator so she would be remembered. She then went on to appear on several other "Reality" shows, further cementing her hold on infamy. I ask you, do you really want to be remembered for being a villain? Personally, I'd much rather be remembered for the things I did to further the human race.
All of this because of the clip below (via). It shows what recently happened in NYC, as people lined up for their shot at being a contestant on "America's Next Top Model," the shallowest of these types of shows. Apparently, a car overheated outside the building where auditions were being held, and some one yelled "Bomb!" Needless to say, pandemonium broke lose:
Even worse, are the fights that break out among contestants on the shows. The stakes are apparently so high (usually only 5 minutes of fame - far less than Andy Warhol predicted), people will turn on each other over the pettiest of reasons:
I blame MTV for the trend. As innovative as they were in the early 80's, MTV decided that showing music videos wasn't enough to keep their ratings afloat and less than 10 years later created a show called "The Real World." And while old-time shows like "Queen for a Day;" "Truth or Consequences" and "Candid Camera" made seminal stars out of real people, "The Real World" took the concept and exploited it beyond anything we'd ever seen before.
My sister, whom I love dearly, is addicted to "Survivor." My friends Janet and Dale watch "Project Runway," while my friend Kathy and her family watch the insufferable "American Idol." To me, it all seems to boil down to what the Germans call "Schadenfreude:" taking secret pleasure in another person's pain. And it all hearkens back to the Romans watching wild animals kill innocents in the Coliseum or the Elizabethans betting on bear-baiting. And I have to ask myself (and fans of the genre), why have we not progressed beyond such disgusting behavior in the last 1800 years?
I honestly cannot wait for the day when this trend dies the undignified death it deserves, though I hope that it doesn't take an on-camera murder to do so (though I fear that may be what it takes). Until such a time, I'll do my best to rail against it, and refuse to watch it. And I urge you to do so, as well.
More, anon.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Delayed Review: "Castle"

I rarely watch Prime-Time TV in real-time. Instead, I DVR the shows I love and watch them later, zapping (as many of you do) through the commercials. And that is the reason for this review taking place well-after the first air-date of ABC's newest dramedy, "Castle."
I wanted to see it because I just adore it's star, Nathan Fillion. He's not only good-looking, but very talented. I first noticed him on the lamentable (and lamentably titled) ABC sitcom "Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place." He then appeared in Joss Whedon's FOX series "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Firefly. In 2006, he starred as a small-town sheriff in James Gunn's hilarious sci-fi comedy Slither and then again in Serenity, the big-screen movie spun off from "Firefly." In 2007 he starred in FOX's quickly-cancelled "Drive." Next up, came a short stint as an OBGYN on "Desperate Housewives." The poor guy couldn't get a break. The studios obviously loved him, but couldn't find a suitable property for him. During last year's writer's strike, he appeared as the hero in Whedon's on-line musical hit, "Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog," where he proved he could actually sing, as well as act.
Here's the trailer for Slither (which also features Jenna Fischer, Pam from "The Office"):
Now, finally, it seems Fillion may have a hit on his hands. On "Castle" he stars as Richard "Rick" Castle, a mystery writer with a penchant for the macabre (think Stephen King meets James Patterson). When two real-life murders match murders detailed in his novels, Castle is pulled in to consult on the investigation. Lead Detective Kate Beckett (Stana Katic - Quantum of Solace; The Spirit) is a fan of Castle's, but finds his often childish ways irritating to no end. Castle lives with his daughter, Alexis (Molly C. Quinn) and his mother, Martha (the always delightful Susan Sullivan) a former actress endowed with "gray-dar" (which may well be my favorite new phrase). Castle has the NYC mayor on speed-dial, plays poker with any number or real-life mystery writers and takes endless pleasure in signing autographs on the chests of his female fans. He's also an analytical genius who can out-think even the smartest of NYPD detectives. By the end of the first episode, Castle has not only helped to solve the crime, but chosen Kate as the model for his newest recurring character, getting permission from said mayor to accompany her on cases in the name of "research."
The writing on "Castle" is sharp and funny and the chemistry between Fillion and Katic is undeniable. My mother (a bona-fide mystery fanatic) told me she just loves the show and I have to admit, it's one of the best mid-season replacements in several years. I hope "Castle" is a hit, not only because I love Fillion, but because it's such a departure from the procedural crime shows like "C.S.I." Plus, it harkens back to the glory days of David and Maddie on "Moonlighting," one of the best detective shows ever. Sexy, funny and exciting, "Castle" may well be my favorite new show (after "Fringe," of course).
For those of you completely unfamiliar with Mr. Fillion's works, I offer up this clip from James Gunn's PG PORN: "Nailing Your Wife." Just hilarious.
More, anon.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Superman or Super Dick?

I guess I've been on a bit of a superhero kick, of late. But I posted this (via) on my Facebook page the other day:

My friend Jonathan then promptly suggested I visit superdickery.com, a very funny site that makes fun of superhero comics and mostly goes on to prove just what a dick Superman can be. Here's an example from the site:

Then there's that joke about the country rube visiting the big city for the first time. He goes to a bar at the top of a tall building where he meets a man who tells him that the building is so high that the wind's updraft prevents anyone from falling out of it. To prove it, the man jumps out the window and is almost immediately blown back in. The rube takes him up on the challenge, only to plunge to his death. The bartender then turns to the man and says "Man, you are a nasty drunk, Superman."

And not that these prove anything at all about my theory, there are these two bizarrely funny clips from Funny or Die (language NSFW) featuring an apparently gay Superman:

By the way, for some reason, Funny or Die's embed codes don't always work. If you see two black boxes above, just click teh link below each one to see the video. Sorry about that.

And finally, with my apologies to my dear D, here is "Superman Retires":

So, is Superman really a dick? Did I prove anything here? Not in the least. I just wanted to post something I thought was funny. Besides, everyone who knows me knows how much I really love Superman. Even (maybe even especially) in his most recent incarnation:

As always, more, anon.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Drag Me to Sam Raimi

Director Sam Raimi has always had a distinctive style. For those of you only familiar with his Spider-Man films, I suggest you might want to check out his upcoming return to horror, the genre that made his career, Drag me to Hell. Allison Lohman (Big Fish; Beowulf) stars as Christine, a young loan officer who is bucking for a promotion and in the process, denies a mortgage extension to an old woman who turns out to be a lamia, a female demon who curses Christine to be literally dragged to hell for all eternity. Her boyfriend (Mac commercials cutie and Live Free or Die Hard co-star Justin Long), doesn't believe in curses, though he may be on his way to changing his mind. Check out the trailer:

I'm most excited to see this film because it heralds Raimi's return to his horror roots. He first made a splash with the indie horror film The Evil Dead n 1981. But it was the sequel (actually, more of a comedic re-make), Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn that garnered him a cult following (along with its star, Bruce Campbell). Some critics have described Evil Dead II as "The Exorcist meets The Three Stooges"
Raimi's first foray into the superhero genre, 1990's Darkman starred Liam Neesom as a disfigured scientist who creates artificial skin, allowing him to assume any identity he wants and Raimi learned many of the tricks he would employ in Spider-Man while making it. Next came the third in the Evil Dead series, Army of Darkness. Personally, I think Raimi pushed the comedic envelope a little too far here. It's an amusing film, but disappointing on many levels. I think they all just tried too hard to be funny, and forgot the horror.

After Army..., Raimi switched genres and made The Quick and the Dead, a western starring Sharon Stone; Russel Crowe; Leonardo DiCaprio; Gary Sinise and a fellow we would eventually come to know as "Jigsaw," Tobin Bell. Critically derided, it featured Raimi's signature travelling POV shots and plenty of dark humor. And I'm probably one of maybe 10 people who actually like it. He followed up with A Simple Plan, based on Scott Smith's (The Ruins) novel, which is just a terrific movie about greed and how it can destroy us. Then in 2000, Raimi made a quiet little horror movie, The Gift, starring Cate Blanchett as a small town Southern psychic caught up in a murder plot. Giovanni Ribisi, Greg Kinnear, Keanu Reeves and Katie Holmes are among the supporting cast and it's the first time Raimi cast the excellent character actor J.K. Simmons, who would go on to play J. Jonah Jameson in the Spider-Man franchise. Raimi is set to next write and direct a big-budget a re-make of The Evil Dead, according to IMDb, to be followed by Spider-Man 4. And in case his work as a writer/director wasn't enough, you should also know that Mr. Raimi is also responsible for bringing us Kevin Sorbo and Lucy Lawless as Hercules and Xena, respectively, to the small screen (c'mon boys and girls, you they're hot!)

I have to also admit, Raimi is responsible for inspiring my most recent favorite musical "Evil Dead: The Musical." You'll find two clips below. The first is an hilarious commercial for the Toronto revival (watch the arm on the lower left of the screen). And the second is a bunch of scenes set to the show's opening number, "Cabin in the Woods."
If you only know Raimi's work on the Spider-Man franchise, I seriously suggest you get caught up on his full body of work. Sam Raimi may well be the best unknown director working today. I know I'll be first in line on May 29th for Drag Me to Hell. Wild horses couldn't drag me away (sorry, couldn't help myself there).
More, anon.


In case you're wondering, the title of this post stands for "Where Would Jesus Be?" For many, it's on a piece of toast. Or a cinnamon bun. Or a rock. The official term for this phenomena is "Pareidolia."
My sister lives in western Florida, just outside of Tampa. While visiting her a few years back, she drove me past an office building on which the image of the Virgin Mary supposedly appeared on a window. There were people camped outside the building, lighting candles and praying to what appeared to me to be nothing more than a grease stain. My sister (a self-described 'liberal Born-Again') agreed this was nonsense. Since then, I send her links to every pareidolia story I come across on the Net, and we laugh. Honestly, don't you think if Jesus (or the Virgin Mary) was going to make an appearance, it would be in Times Square or Piccadilly Circus or downtown Jerusalem? I imagine They both probably have better things to do than make Their presence known in a bag of Cheetos. As an affirmed agnostic, I can't help but think it's like looking for homophobia where it doesn't exist. (Sorry - I know - I promised to stop carrying on about that. Just couldn't help myself).

Pareidolia is not limited to religious images. Here's a perfect example - a photo pf the surface of Mars in which we can clearly (?) see a face:

Or how about this one, from my Facebook page, in which Godzilla appears in the clouds:

In case you're wondering what inspired this post, it's the video below (via), a hilarious compendium of local news shows who end their broadcasts with stories about miraculous sightings in ordinary objects, aptly titled "Finally Tonight, Jesus..." Enjoy.

To quote Homer Simpson, "Help me, Jebus!"

More, anon.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Bears and Cubs and Movies, Oh My!

Enough with the political correctness (or lack thereof) in recent movies. On to the hot guys who will soon be gracing our cineplexes. Superheroes, video games and fantasies seem to the films du jour, and there are two in particular I want to discuss tonight.
First, on May 1st, comes X-Men Origins: Wolverine, starring Aussie hottie Hugh Jackman, seen here in all his glorious hotness in a shot from Baz Luhrman's Australia:
My goodness, the man just gets finer and finer! Reprising his role from the three previous X-Men movies, Jackman plays Logan/Wolverine, a mutant with regenerative powers who is apparently immortal and suffering from the pain of losing everyone he's ever loved. Along comes William Stryker (30 Days of Night's evil vampire leader, Danny Huston), who offers Logan a chance at redemption. Replacing Logan's bones with an experimental metal called "Atomantium," Stryker transforms Logan into Wolverine, an indestructible mutant weapon. Oscar-winning director Gavin Hood (Tsotsi) is at the helm and there is plenty of delicious manflesh on display in the forms of Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool); Liev Schrieber (Sabretooth); Daniel Henny (Agent Zero) and LOTR/"Lost" star Dominic Monaghan (Beak). As a lover of Bryan Singer's first two X-Men movies (and an almost-hater of Brett Ratner's third), I wasn't exactly sold on this one until I saw the trailer prior to seeing Watchmen last week:

Next, I'd like to talk about (read: drool over) a movie scheduled for next year, Disney's version of the video game Prince of Persia, starring Jake "Oh God, those eyes!" Gyllenhaal. Much has been made of Gyllenhaal's physique in this film, with many folks claiming he must have used steroids to bulk up. Jake (who you must know starred as a gay shepherd in Brokeback Mountain) and his handlers maintain he did no such thing. To me, it isn't so much about his body (which seems mighty fine), but his hair (atrocious) and the enormous package he seems to be sporting in this already much-seen publicity photo from the film:

Personally, I've been in lust with Mr. G. since Donnie Darko, Richard Linklatter's enigmatic time travel movie. It's always been about those soulful eyes, though it's obvious here, he has much more to offer. Why does Reese Witherspoon get to have all the fun? Oh, well. It's nice to fantasize every now and then, isn't it? And I suppose that's why we go to the movies in the first place. What is it that Hannibal Lecter says? "It starts with coveting." Well, I'll be the first one to admit that I covet both Jake and Hugh. What red-blooded American gay boy doesn't?

More, anon.


Sunday, March 8, 2009

Is Zack Snyder Homophobic?

A young acquaintance of mine tagged me in a Facebook note he'd titled "The Skinny on Homophobia in 'Watchmen.'" He cited the scene in which the lesbian Minutemen are found murdered with the words "Lesbian Whores" written in blood above their bed, as well as Ozymandias' perceived homosexuality, contrasted with shots of Dr. Manhattan's penis. What? He even claims that Ozymandias' hybrid cat is an allusion to Siegfried and Roy (the source material pre-dates S&R by about 10 years). He and other responders then go on to say that director Zack Snyder has a homophobic agenda, citing the character of Xerxes in 300 (more on that in a moment). When I tried to rebut, saying that any issues with homosexuality are Alan Moore's and not Snyder's, another poster brought up the character of the church organ player in Dawn of the Dead. Huh?
I ask you, is it me, or has everyone just gotten too god damned sensitive? Of course I am against homophobia. But I don't go looking for it in every movie I see (unless it's overt - and then I'd probably avoid seeing it in the first place). My Facebook friend then goes on to say that he "has an eye for these things" and that he was "molded" by Larry Kramer and Derek Jarman. Below is an edited version of my final comments on the post:
"None of the things you mention are Snyder's issues. They are Moore's. Snyder was simply recreating what Moore wrote. Are you trying to say that there are no bad gay people? That we are all altruistic do-gooders who would never harm another human being? The film is about the dark underbellies we all try to hide from one another. Comedian shoots a pregnant woman, for God's sake! I was far more offended by that than by anything Rorschach (who is obviously unstable) had to say. And Ozymandias' tiger is right out of the book, pre-dating Siegfried and Roy by about 10 years... The most horrific serial killer in American history, Jeffery Dahmer, was gay. Does that make all serial killers gay?

"I think we'll need to agree to disagree. Not being a fan of Larry Kramer's brand of activism, or someone who goes looking to pick fights, I think the only real way to deal with homophobia is through education and rational discussion, rather than ranting and taking to the streets in the anger. All that seems to do is rile up the opposition and make the protesters look crazy. Maybe once you've reached my age, you'll see the difference. We no longer live in an America where the LGBT community is rounded up and hauled off to jail for "indecent behavior." Real change is slow and painful. The way to be heard is through rational discourse and the democratic process. In the meantime, can't we just enjoy a little dark entertainment once in a while, without analyzing it to death?"
As for 300, I think it is probably the gayest movie of 2006. Where else will you find 300+ scantily clad musclemen, showing off their magnificent physiques for one another (and us)?
Here's the thing: It's never been about Us (the LGBT Community) against Them (the Straight Community), but rather Us (the Rational Humanitarians) against Them (the bigoted assholes afraid of what they don't understand). Maybe that's why I have more straight friends than gay friends. Many gay activists seem to me just as narrow-minded as their fundie opposites. What I want to know is, when will everyone realize that there is no "Us" or "Them," only "We?"
More, anon.