Sunday, September 30, 2012

Science Fiction Double Feature

Tim Curry as Dr. Frank-N-Furter
Since tomorrow is the start of Shocktober here at the Revenge and I already made a joke about it in last night's post, what better movie to talk about tonight than the undisputed King of Cult Movies, The Rocky Horror Picture Show?

I was introduced to the movie in the summer of 1977, when it was first taking off as a midnight phenomenon (it had proven a box-office disaster when initially released two years earlier). It was the summer between my sophomore and junior years in high school and I had scored my first paid acting job at a dinner theatre owned by the father of a man who would much later become one of my dearest friends. The show was truly dreadful... some nonsense about a foreign exchange student (yours truly) being kidnapped and replaced with a professional football player. If an ASCAP rep had visited, we'd all have gone to jail - the show's writer/director (my friend's father) had simply written new lyrics to classic standards, making them fit the show's ridiculous premise. 

None of that really mattered. I was getting paid ($500.00 for the run - an enormous sum for 15 year old in 1977) and was introduced by my fellow cast members to Rocky Horror. The first night I went, they told me nothing - only that I had to see it for myself. We crossed the river into New Jersey and got in line at the long-gone Quaker Bridge Mall Cinema, where bewildered folks leaving the 10:00 shows of whatever first runs were playing, were shocked as people in line for the midnight show yelled "Lips!" and "Asshole!" and "Viesssss!" I was equally puzzled, but intrigued and excited. We finally took our seats and I was stunned as the opening number played and nearly every person in the theater sang along...

Not only did I now know what "Lips!" meant, I understood every Sci-Fi/Horror movie referenced in the lyrics. I immediately knew I was going to love this movie.

Of course, when people started yelling at the screen, throwing rice and dancing in aisles, I was beyond love. Then... oh, then... Tim Curry made his entrance (and what an entrance) and I knew I had found the only movie that actually understood me:

Transvestites? Gay sex? A hot muscle blond in a teeny bikini? And all of it a parody of classic Horror/Sci-Fi movies? They had me at "Let's Do the Time Warp Again." Here was a movie that celebrated the freak in all of us and I suddenly felt much less like a freak and much more like a special person. I finally belonged to crowd who shunned the mainstream and embraced the bizarre, even if it was only on Friday and Saturday nights at midnight.

I have no idea how many times I saw RHPS in the late 70's and early 80's. Enough to see it evolve with new shout-outs and live performances in front of the screen. I was actually interviewed by The Trenton Times while in line one night with several friends. By the time I paid nearly $100 for a VHS copy sometime in the 90's, the allure had worn off. I remember having a party the weekend I got it where one attendee yelled "Show us the midget!" every ten minutes (really?) and realizing the world had moved on. And so had I. 

But there was that brief moment of enlightenment, when I realized I wasn't alone in the world and that there were plenty of others who understood the world in the same context as I did, and I felt as though I had finally found my place in that world. And for that, I will always be grateful. Of course, insanity like this is always fun:

And let's not forget that star Tim Curry went on to play two more iconic Fantasy/Horror roles, while Susan Sarandon and Barry Bostwick have both had very respectable careers in film and television. Everyone has to start some where. And what a start for those three!

I hope each of you have had a youthful experience that let you realize it was more than okay to "Let Your Freak Flag Fly." I hold those times as among the best of my youth. And while it would be another 20 years or so before I finally let my Rainbow Flag fly for all the world to see, The Rocky Horror Picture Show was instrumental in my personal journey. Of course, the less said about its dreadful 1981 sequel, Shock Treatment, the better.

By the way - did you notice Barry "Dame Edna" Humphries among the cast? Take another look, if you didn't. Talk about rising above...

Tomorrow is the start of Shocktober here on the Revenge, and I have loads of creepy movies to talk about all month! I can't wait!

More, anon.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Cooking with Alcohol

Drunken Desserts
So regular readers know that Uncle P gets together with a group of dear friends from college every couple of months for a themed dinner party. We've had ethnic nights (our very first such dinner was 'Homemade Chinese,' if I remember correctly); chocolate and vanilla; all soups; vegetarian; 'Everything Garlic' and 'Cinqo de Mayo,' to name just a very few. Not all of them have been successful though lately, we've been batting 1000. The list of what we've done in past 25 years or so, is starting to outnumber the things left on the list to try. I know we still have 'Man Food' and 'Carnival Treats' (among several others) left to try.

Tonight's theme was 'Cooking with Alcohol.' We started with appetizers: Beer Bread with Guinness & cheese dip and Drunken Wienies in Rum Sauce. Delicious and decadent. Soup was a shrimp bisque (my least favorite part of the meal - I'm not big on seafood dishes, especially soups) followed by the main course: Coq au vin, meatballs in a red wine marinara, beer-battered asparagus with horseradish remoulade and spinach sauteed with bacon, onions and white wine (the veggies were my contribution). All of it delicious and filling, though we were hardly done.

The drunkest part of our drunken dinner was dessert. While the alcohol had basically been cooked out of most of the food we'd eaten so far, dessert proved to be a whole other beast. There was a Walnut Caramel Pie with Port-infused Cherries; Rum-soaked Fruit Salad; 'Shots O' Cupcakes' and Pecan Bourbon Balls (both of the latter pictured above). The pie was yummy and the cupcakes divine (they had Bailey's and Jameson in the icing) but the Bourbon Balls were both delicious and powerful. The first bite was good, but the second hit you like a double shot and warmed the esophagus all the way down. More than one of those bad boys and I don't think I'd have been able to drive home.

Of course, the food is secondary. The point is an evening spent with people I have known and loved for a very long time. Those evenings are always too few and too far between, making them all the more precious when we do get to have them.

I came home and logged onto Facebook, where my buddy Pax Romano had posted about his meatloaf dinner, which made me sort of sad that our dinner parties are never quite like this:

Oh, who am I kidding? They're all just like that!

More, anon.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Vote! Our Lives Depend On It!

These Are Your Choices
As September of 2012 draws to a close and Shocktober looms, this will probably be my last political rant until until November. And while I realize that the vast majority of my readers are either gay or gay-friendly, I know of at least one formerly Democratic lady friend who is planning on voting for Mittens, even though his views on women are 60 years behind the times and his stance on LGBT rights is downright Draconian. MML has been fooled by the Teapartiers and the Obama haters into believing that our current President has failed and is somehow convinced that a return to the same elitist policies of the Bush administration will somehow save the country. I call 'Bullsh*t' on that nonsense.

Given the disastrous mess Obama inherited from his "Good Ole Boy" predecessor, he's kept more campaign promises (Healthcare Reform, saving the US Auto Industry and the end of DADT, among them) than anyone since Clinton. And if the Republican-held Congress hadn't fought him on just about every other reform he wanted, I probably wouldn't be ranting right now. 

So here's the thing: Do you want a progressive; forward-thinking; inclusive and compassionate man running the country and solving even more of our problems, or would you prefer someone whose dubious religious convictions lead him to hate women and gay people, even though he has no problem lying to satisfy whoever happens to be interviewing him at the time? Do you want to move forward or backward? Do you want to promote the subjugation of women and sexual minorities, or do you want equal rights for everyone? Are you an a-hole or a decent human being? Do you really think that 8 years' worth of crap can be cleaned up in 4 years? If you answered "yes" to any of those questions, I really feel sorry for you. You might as well go give Ann Coulter a BJ.

If I can't convince you, maybe these folks can:

Vote, folks! Vote as if our lives depend on it, because they do. Stop the right-wing, misogynistic homophobic tea-baggers from turning the greatest democracy in history into a theocratic oligarchy. I have honestly never been more passionate about a Presidential election in my life. And it's because I truly fear that a Romney administration would be the most detrimental administration in U.S. history.

Okay - Deep breath. Another rant over (for now). Back to my usual nonsense, soon. I have another themed dinner party tomorrow ("Cooking with Alcohol" - I'm making Beer-Battered Asparagus with a horseradish remoulade and Sauteed Spinach with onions, bacon and white wine). I'll be reporting on the rest of the meal once my friends and I have eaten it.

More, anon.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

17 Days and Counting

Sunday, October 14th. 

I'm still not sure how a television adaptation of a graphic novel about flesh-eating zombies (or 'walkers" as they are called in the books and the show) caught fire the way AMC's "The Walking Dead" has. It was risky from the start. 

Sure, zombies have been increasingly popular since George A. Romero created the genre in 1968. Still, many critics dismissed Romero's low-budget shocker. But it spoke loud and clear to a group of disenchanted young people who saw the living dead as an analogy for the 'establishment.' And by the time Romero released Dawn of the Dead in 1979, it was clear that he had a message to impart. 

Over the last 10 years or so, zombies have become more popular than ever, moving from a rather obscure sub-genre into the mainstream and Romero's message of "They are us" resonates with more people than ever before (especially given the current economic and political climate). And then there's the classic escapism provided by horror. "At least my life isn't that  horrible (though at the drop of a hat, it could be)."

But I think that at the heart of it all, despite the political and social commentary the genre provides, good story-telling and compelling characters are what drive great drama and "The Walking Dead" provides both in spades. Whether or not you hate Lori and/or Carl or love Daryl and Carol or you're just rooting for the return of Merle and the inclusion of the bad-ass Michonne; the show's fans have become fully invested in what happens next. And that's a testament to both the great writing and the amazing performances to which we are treated in each episode.

In any case, you can expect my usual Monday recap and commentary starting Monday, October 15th, along with my Shocktober post. 

More, anon.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Not So Super Man

Well, we're only a week into the new TV season and one of the worst sitcoms in television history has already reared its ugly head on CBS. And that's a shame, because "Partners" had a lot of great things going for it to start.

First off, it was created by David Kohan and Max Mutchnick, creators of "Will & Grace." Based on their real-life business partnership and friendship of a gay man and a straight man, the show should have been a no-brainer. Add the talented David Krumholtz ("Numbers"); Micheal Urie ("Ugly Betty"); Sophia Bush ("One Tree Hill") and the gorgeous Brandon Routh (Superman Returns), and CBS should have had an unqualified hit on its hands.

Sadly, "Partners" suffers from zero chemistry between its two leads; absolutely terrible writing with completely unfunny (not to mention horribly stereotypical) jokes and one of the worst, most ill-timed canned laugh tracks in memory  Krumholtz and Urie play Joe and Louis, best friends for 23 years who run an architectural firm in New York. Bush is Joe's girlfriend, a jewelry designer named Ali and Routh is Louis' boyfriend, Wyatt, a nurse. In the pilot, Joe worries that Ali has given him a "marry me or else" ultimatum while Louis insists on telling people that Wyatt is a doctor. Tracy Vilar is Rosanna, their 'saucy' Latina Office Manager who gets away with insulting her bosses with 'jokes' like "Joe, Joe, Joe, gay, gay, gay, I will cut you!" And Routh fares even worse with: "It's Cardiac Awareness Week. Which is why I have a heart on." Sigh...

I can't really tell you more about this travesty, because I was so offended in every possible way, I turned it off after the first 15 minutes.  And I think what bothered me most about the whole thing was the incredible waste of talent of all those involved, especially Routh, whose once-promising career has been reduced to playing a self-loathing gay second-banana (all puns intended) on a third rate sitcom from two men who should know better. Shame on everyone involved with this crap. I'll be surprised if it lasts more than 3 episodes.

Honestly, I've had surgery that was less painful. "Partners" is certainly the worst sitcom of the 21st Century (and possibly of all time*). Zero Stars Out of Four.

More, anon.

*And that includes "My Mother the Car;" "Life on a Stick" and "Cavemen."

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Gayest Thing You'll See This Week?

Bryan Cranston in "Breaking Bad"
After the first few episodes of AMC's "Breaking Bad," I honestly couldn't handle its brutally realistic bleakness. For those how haven't seen it, "Breaking Bad" is about high school chemistry teacher Walter White (the brilliant Bryan Cranston) whose insurance won't cover the cost of treatments for his cancer. Out of desperation, he teams up with former student Jesse Pinkman (Emmy-winner Aaron Paul) to cook and sell crystal meth, in order to keep providing his family. Walter and Jesse soon find themselves caught up in a very dangerous game which leads to murder and worse. It's intense and savage and all too real (unlike AMC's other brilliant and bleak drama "The Walking Dead," which is pure fantasy).

Now, (via) comes this funny and bizarre mashup of "Breaking Bad" and Brokeback Mountain: "Breakbad Mountain:"

I don't know... these two just don't 'click' for me.

And yes, as a Horror fan, I like my entertainment dark. But I prefer it totally unrealistic. "Breaking Bad" as just a bit too plausible for my taste.

And you must know how much I am looking forward to the return of "The Walking Dead" on October 13th. Not only do we get a 16-episode season 3, we'll be introduced to two major new characters;  Michonne and The Governor. And if that wasn't enough - Merle returns, complete with a deadly homemade prosthetic to replace the hand he cut off on top of the department store in season 1.

Just about 2 and a half weeks to go!

More, anon.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Retro Review: 5 For and 5 Against "Mother's Day"

So, I finally got to see the much talked-about 'remake' of Mother's Day from director Darren Lynn Bousman (Repo: The Genetic Opera) and I first have to say that it resembles Charles Kaufman's 1980 Troma slasher as much as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre resembles Psycho. They may share the same source material, but they are two very different films. And I must admit, Bousman's is the more successful of two. 

A suburban house party is interrupted when three bank-robbing brothers force their way into the home where they grew up, only to discover that their mother doesn't live there anymore. Brother Johnny (Matt O'Learly) has been shot. Brothers Addley (Warren Kole from USA's "Common Law") and Ike (Patrick Fluegler from "The 4400") call Mother to come get them. When Mother and Sister arrive, all hell breaks loose and the movie becomes a story of survival, torture, desperation and revenge. 

It's late and I'm tired, so here's another 5 For/Five Against review, inspired (as always) by my buddy, Sean:

5 For:

1. Rebecca De Mornay, best known for Risky Business and The Hand that Rocks the Cradle, gives a new career-defining performance as Mother. As chilling as she may have been in Cradle, she is absolutely terrifying as a woman who will go to any lengths to protect her children.

2. Shawn Ashmore (X-Men; X2) is practically perfect as George, the doctor forced to attend to a killer and who has perfect insight into Mother's manipulations (on a side note, his twin brother Aaron can be seen on my favorite steampunk SyFy show, "Warehouse 13").

3. Scott Milam's screenplay transforms Kaufman's characters into real life people, as opposed to the cartoonish villains Kaufman gave us in the original.

4. Warren Kole's obviously insane Addley was the antithesis of the character he plays on "Common Law." Kole proves himself an actor who is not afraid to go where he needs to in order to achieve the performance required. Addley is definitely not a guy you want to meet in a dark alley.

5. Bousman manages to create an intense feeling of claustrophobia in what is probably his most artistically successful film to date. Yes, there are plenty of scenes set outside the house where the main action takes place, but the scenes in the house's basement are particularly upsetting and disturbing.

5 Against:

1. The violent torture depicted in the film may be a bit much for some viewers. I was able to distance myself, but some folks may find some scenes too much to handle.

2. Jaime King ("Heart of Dixie") as the film's "final girl" just didn't cut it for me. Her rather one-note performance didn't make Beth a character I wanted to root for.

3. The movie keeps referencing an impending tornado which is threatening the Nebraska town in which the film is set but we never get to see any evidence of such a storm.

4. Stupid cops. A cop arrives at the house and obviously suspects something is wrong, yet he never calls for back up and (SPOILER ALERT) announces his presence without being sure the killer is actually dead.

5. The ending (SPOILER ALERT 2). Characters who should have been dead, survive and pull off a highly improbable kidnapping. 

Overall, I liked the movie. It's one of the better 'Home Invasion' films in recent memory and proves that Bousman is capable of making a film that doesn't rely on weird makeup prosthetics or strange mechanical devices to make an interesting, if very disturbing, film. **1/2 (Two and a Half Out of Four Stars).

More, anon.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Fighting It...

If you've been reading Caliban's Revenge for a while, you know that Uncle P suffers from occasional bouts of depression. I'm not afraid or embarrassed to admit this. In fact, I hope that doing so might help others who suffer in the same way.

My worst struggle with the disease came about in 1996, while directing a production of Romeo and Juliet. I won't go into detail, though I will say that seeking the help of a therapist was the best thing I ever did for myself. My therapist gave me tools to cope and introduced me to a group of men whose circumstances were very similar to my own and after about a year, I was able to move on. 

Out of that group, I remained friends with one of the sweetest people I've ever known, my dear friend Bill. Bill and I would meet for dinner, attend to movies and just hang out. Eventually, we lost touch. But thanks to Facebook, Bill and I reconnected a few years ago and struck up our friendship, anew. 

We left snarky comments on each other's walls and he came to see my shows and supported the JTMF. In March of this year, Bill emailed me that he had bought tickets to see Hairspray and was looking forward to the show. Then I didn't hear from him for a while. I went to his Facebook page and posted something to the effect of "Where have you been? I miss your snide comments." It was only after I posted that I read some of the things other people had posted on Bill's page: "I miss you so much!" "I pray you are at peace." "I can't believe you're gone!" What?!? It turned out that Bill had died a few weeks earlier of a heart attack, while brushing his teeth before work. I was devastated, to say the least. Bill was three years younger and in much better shape than me.

A few months later, a fairly new friend and exceptionally talented painter (who had donated a rather beautiful painting to the JTMF silent auction the previous year), also passed away from an unexpected heart attack. Ed was five years younger than me.

Last weekend, while in Miami for the day job, I learned that the young man who'd been cutting my lawn since he was teenager, passed away at the age of 34. Granted, Luke had been in and out of rehab several times in past ten years; had been ill enough to be placed in a medically-induced coma earlier this year and had recently ballooned to twice my size thanks to the medications on which he'd been placed. Still, 34 is far too young... The tox results are still pending, though his family suspects a blood clot in his leg may have moved into his heart. His mother and brother found him that morning, at first thinking he had fallen asleep in front of the TV.

I don't think after all this, the fact that I am contemplating my own mortality should be any surprise. It has also been almost three months since I've done any theatre (the one thing that actually makes me feel whole) and almost as long since I've spent any quality time with the friends who are always there for me. Combine all that with money being particularly tight and the lack of a truly fulfilling intimate relationship... Well, you can imagine how I've been feeling these past few weeks.

I know... all this means nothing, especially when each event is taken on an individual basis.But I still can't help but feel a bit disturbed.

What I need are hugs from my besties, a show to distract me and the attentions of someone who can see past all my nonsense. Of course, a date with Jon Hamm or Jason Statham would do wonders...

Oddly, it's lesbian singer/songwriter Melissa Etheridge who gets how I'm feeling right now...

Sorry for rambling. Thanks for "listening." I'm fighting this with every tool I have at my disposal (though I may up my daily vitamin D dosage) but it's not easy. Letting it all out here helps, a bit. And don't worry - I'm not planning on going anywhere, soon.

More, anon.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Horrors Yet to Come

Today is the Autumnal Equinox - the first day of Fall - and it brings with it two of my favorite things: Halloween and Horror Movies. I have no idea why an aging atheist loves Horror Movies so much. I guess it's because I grew up with them. My father loved the old Universal Monsters. One of the first movies I can remember seeing on TV was Tod Browning's atmospheric 1931 version of Dracula, starring Bela Lugosi. 

Scary movies are just so much fun! Of course, I get much more out of the plausible, psychotic killer type of movies than I do the supernatural ones. But every now and again, a supernatural thriller like Insidious comes along to provide genuine creeps. It's the whole 'suspension of disbelief' thing, I guess. While watching such a film, I can totally give in to its conceits. Of course, after it's over, I revert to a rational human being who knows the premise is ridiculous and laugh at myself for getting sucked in. There are plenty of Horror Movies coming up this season, and I find myself wanting to see many of them.

First up is writer/director Scott Derrickson's Sinister, with Ethan Hawke as a man who moves his family into a home where five families have been previously murdered, as evidenced by the reels of home movies he finds in the attic.

Gotta love an R-rated Horror Movie! And this one looks particularly disturbing.

Then there's The Bay, a found-footage movie from Good Morning Vietnam and Rain Man director Barry Levinson. The trailer is certainly interesting and I am excited to see what an established "mainstream" director does with a found-footage film:

Yikes! Environmental Horror ranks up there with Psychotic Killer Horror for me.

We're also finally going to get to see The Hole from Mad Max and Gremlins director Joe Dante. Completed in 2009, The Hole has apparently finally found a distributor and is scheduled for release in the U.S. this fall:

The Hole reminds me of both Steve Miner's 1986 Horror Comedy House and a very young Stephen Dorff's 1987 Canadian film debut, The Gate which, if you've never seen it, is a really fun movie that mixes lots of Harryhausen-like stop-motion monsters with both ridiculous Heavy Metal Satanism and Lovecraftian themes - highly recommended.

On the Psychotic Serial Killer end of the spectrum, we can look forward to The Collection from Feast screenwriter Marcus Dunstan. I guess you could think of it as Saw meets The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. You can view the trailer on the movie's IMDb page. 

The there's the completely unnecessary 3D update of Tobe Hooper's absolutely terrifying (and actually gore-less) 1974 classic The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, simply titled Texas Chainsaw 3D. Sigh...

Seriously? Give me the original (or even Marcus Nispel's not completely inept 2003 remake) any day. Of course, both of those films were inspired by the true story of Ed Gein, who was also the inspiration for the grandfather of all slasher movies, Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho. And Psycho just happens to be the subject of one of the movies I most want to see this fall: Hitchcock starring Sir Anthony Hopkins as the mercurial director and Scarlett Johansson as Janet Leigh. There's no trailer available as of now, but I'll be sure to post one as soon there is (no doubt as part of a post dedicated to the movie).

So what movies (Horror, or otherwise) are you looking forward to seeing this fall?

More, anon.

Friday, September 21, 2012


40-odd days away from the Presidential election and I can't help but feel more hopeful than ever that the Romney/Ryan ticket is sinking faster than the Titanic. 

I'm pretty certain that the majority of my U.S. readers are liberal Democrats who agree that a Republican in the White House will only lead to more poverty, more repression of human rights and more corporate power. It is clear that Mitt Romney doesn't care about the working poor, the elderly, the ill or the LGBT community. Romney only cares about what's good for himself and the 1%. You all know that I'm an avowed Secular Humanist, but I know that nothing Romney stands for is in line with what the Bible says Christ stood for. The message of the New Testament is one of love, compassion and charity. I have no idea what the Book of Mormon says, other than what I've learned from the creators of "South Park" and The Book of Mormon, though it sounds just as insane as Scientology does to anyone with half a brain. Still, if it follows the supposed teachings of Jesus, Romney should throw himself out of the temple; denounce his wealth and set about doing good for his fellow men. I honestly don't see that happening, do you?

I wonder what the average guy thinks? Maybe the ultimate 'average guy,' Homer Simpson can shed some light on the problem.

Honestly, I'd try to kill myself if Flanders was seated next to me on the production line, too.

Uncle P lives in the swing state of Pennsylvania, where the State Supreme Court has just sent the new Voter ID law back to lower courts, deeming it unworthy of their consideration but still likely Unconstitutional. PA does issue free Non-Driver IDs via the Commonwealth's DMV. Of course, one has to be mobile enough to get to a DMV photo center in order to obtain such an ID. This limits those who are handicapped; elderly and/or without adequate transportation from obtaining such an ID. The idea behind these IDs is to limit voter fraud. The reality is that the law limits those unable to obtain such an ID (no matter what the reason) from voting at all. This Repugnican backed law is meant solely to prevent voters who would normally vote for Obama, from doing so. Who is committing Voter Fraud, now? Comedienne Sarah Silverman probably expresses this idea best in the the NSFW video below:

Here's the thing: VOTE! Vote to save our freedom. Vote to save our economy. Vote to keep religion out of politics. Vote to ensure that every American has the same set of rights. Vote for what you know is right. Vote as if your lives depended on it. Because they do. 

If you're still not sure who to vote for, read Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale or George Orwell's 1984 or any other treatise on the tenets of basic human rights. Hell, read the Constitution. It's all right there. 

Do you want the country to be ruled by man who believes God lives on the planet Kolob, or a man who believes every citizen has the right to liberty, justice and the pursuit of happiness, regardless of his or her race, religion, sex or orientation? 

And just to touch on Marriage Equality one more time, I came upon a quote about "Two Spirit" people and I'd like to share it with you.

"Christian leaders stand on our soil and claim: 'gay marriage' has never occurred here. Over 130 tribes in every region of North America performed millions of same-sex marriages for hundreds of years. Their statements are both hateful and ignorant. Your 'homosexual' was our 'Two Spirit' people... and we considered them sacred." 

I don't have a name to attach to that quote, but I know from my personal research in my own spiritual quest that this is true. In fact, the word 'homosexual' didn't even exist until the mid-19th Century. 

And don't even get me started on the teacher who insisted that the 'homo' in 'homosexual' was rooted in the Latin for 'man,' rather than the Latin for 'same.' If she were alive today, I'd smack her silly.

Rant over, for now. You know I'll be talking about this subject again before November. I hope you'll bear with me through the idiocy of our electoral system.

More, anon.


Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Gayest Things You'll See This Week

This Makes Me Cry Every Time I See It
So, I have two rather gay topics to cover tonight and I wasn't sure which one I wanted to talk about the most, so I decided to talk about both.

First up: Today marks the First Anniversary of the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell, which finally allowed gay men and women to serve openly in the U.S. Armed Forces. You'll do well to note that this is one of several campaign promises President Obama has kept. 

And despite all the hand-wringing; nay-saying and doomsday talk from the Conservative Right., all reports indicate that the repeal of Clinton's compromise has had zero negative effects. None. Nada. Nothing. Recruitment has remained steady; morale is just as good as ever and only 2 servicemen have resigned as a result. Surprised? Not me. Nor is anyone with half a brain. Most Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines serving today have grown up knowing, accepting and loving gay friends, family and co-workers. The photo above has become as iconic an image as the Sailor kissing the Nurse on D-Day and happily proves to the bigots and haters that they have lost (and continue to lose) in their fight on the wrong side of history. I can only imagine that the repeal of DOMA and Prop 8 will soon follow, paving the way for true Equality. Still, I suppose that 'haters gonna hate.'

Of course, the Entertainment blogger side of me wants to talk about Tom Hooper's film version of the most popular show in Musical Theatre History, Les Miserables. There is much noise being made about the movie being shot using live singing on set, rather than the actors lip-syncing to prerecorded songs, as though it's the first time such a thing has ever been tried. 

To that I say: What a Load of Crap! Even into the late 50's, musicals were shot this way. In fact, as late as 1975, director Peter Bogdanovich* used that very technique for his (admittedly terrible) musical comedy At Long Last Love, starring Burt Reynolds; Cybill Shepard and the amazing Madeline Kahn.

It helps if one has actors who can actually sing (I have my doubts about Russell Crowe - but I think he's an a-hole, anyway). We know that Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, Sasha Baron Cohen and Colm Wilkinson (the show's original Jean Valjean) can sing. But can they sing well enough to pull off such an endeavor? Only time will tell. Les Miserables is scheduled to open on Christmas Day.

*It should be noted that Bogdanovich directed two of my favorite comedies from the 1970's: Paper Moon  and What's Up Doc? (Damn. Ryan O'Neal was hot back then, wasn't he?)

More, anon.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


Before I start tonight's post, I just want to go on record and say that I hate Blogger's new posting format.

Anyway, I visit Gizmodo's SciFi, Fantasy and Horror blog i09 fairly regularly. They're a good source of  movie and TV news and occasionally offer up some rather exciting content. I also subscribe to their email updates and received a link from them the other day that I just now got around to checking out. It was titled "A downright gorgeous short film about doomed astronauts after a spaceship crash." 

I wasn't sure what to expect, but when I finally got around to watching Kevin Margo's 8 minute film Grounded, I was left... confused. Watch it and then we'll discuss:

Grounded from Kevin Margo on Vimeo.

So... I imagine I'm not the only confused viewer, yes? 

First, the cinematography; the effects and Ken Andrews' gorgeous score are all amazing. And yes, I get all the themes about life, death, aging and desperate loneliness. But I didn't understand why the 'Traveler' (Derron Ross) was so desperate for a new helmet at the beginning. There were clouds and there was fire, which mean atmosphere and oxygen. He should have been able to breathe with no problem. And he obviously did so, eventually becoming (I must assume) the old 'Tender' (Brent Meeker). And speaking of the 'Tender,' where did he get those seeds? Did he bring them with him? Were they there all along, just waiting to be cultivated? And just how many incarnations of the 'Traveler' fell to the same planet over the years? It looked to me as though at least three astronauts ejected from the craft in the very beginning. What happened to the other two? Was the 'Traveler' in purgatory? Or maybe even hell? Was he actually assumed into heaven, or transported by unseen aliens? I have no idea.

The filmmaker's own description on Vimeo says: "Grounded is a metaphorical account of the experience, inviting unique interpretation and reflection by the viewer. Themes of aging, inheritance, paternal approval, cyclic trajectories, and behaviors passed on through generations are explored against an ethereal backdrop."

Okay... That's an awful lot of territory to cover in just 8 minutes. Kubrick spent 141 minutes exploring many of the same themes in 2001: A Space Odyssey, with similarly confusing results. Or maybe I'm just over-thinking both films. I'd like to think that I'm smart enough to understand complex films with multiple meanings. And while I do enjoy a good puzzle, it's still nice to have some definitive answers on occasion.

Don't get me wrong - I really liked Grounded. I thought it was beautiful, enigmatic and just weird enough to keep me intrigued and I look forward to seeing other films by Kevin Margo. I'd like to know what he can do with a feature-length movie. 

What do you think Grounded was about or had to say? You know I love your comments.

More, anon.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

TV Review: "Revolution"

I don't usually review TV shows until I've seen at least two episodes but the pilot episode of J.J. Abrams' new NBC show "Revolution" has proven to be the exception to my rule.

The premise starts in the contemporary world. Two young children are watching 'Bugs Bunny' cartoons while their mother ("Lost" and "V" alum Elizabeth Mitchell) is on her iPhone with her own mother when her husband Ben (ubiquitous guest star Tim Guinee) rushes in and tells her to fill the sinks and tubs. "It's happening, isn't it?" she asks. Ben calls his brother while downloading a file onto a flash drive. Brother Miles (Billy Burke - most recently seen on "The Closer" and "Rizzoli and Isles") is in the car with a buddy when he gets the call. Soon, reception is lost; lights and engines are failing and planes are falling from the sky.

Flash forward 15 years and Ben and family are living in what appears to be an agrarian suburb, growing their own food and raising livestock in a gated cul-de-sac. His now young adult children are adept bowmen and his new companion is the "Village Doctor." When the Militia arrives and demands that  Ben come with them, all hell breaks loose: Ben is shot and his son Danny is taken. Before he dies, Ben implores his daughter Charlie to seek out Uncle Miles in Chicago, while entrusting the flash drive with best friend, Aaron (Zak Orth). 

What follows is a trek through an overgrown Illinois (complete with a vine-infested Wrigley Field) and some excellent swordplay as impetuous daughter Charlie seeks out her uncle while brother Danny escapes the militia to find solace with the mysterious Grace (Maria Howell) who possesses an amulet exactly like the one in which Guinee hid the flash drive, and which apparently provides electricity to both a lamp and a computer which she uses to communicate with an unknown entity,

There's tons more that I haven't covered here, but I must admit that I am very intrigued to find out what is going to happen next. Why did the electricity go out? What's on that flash drive? Why does Grace have power (limited as it may be)? How did Miles' drinking buddy gain control of the local militia and why does he want to capture Miles? Who is the mysterious Nate and why does he help Charlie in a fight against one of his own? 

Much like the massively popular "Lost," Abrams and company ask questions to which we may or may not find the answers. Directed by Iron Man's Jon Favreau, the pilot for "Revolution" set up a series of puzzles that may well prove as intriguing as those in "Lost." I hope they don't lose the momentum they set in motion with the pilot. I just know that I'll be tuning in to see where it goes.

Of course, Uncle P and his sister share a mild obsession for abandoned amusement parks; theatres; hospitals;  monuments and cities, so the sets and visuals impart a particular resonance with me.

So far, I give "Revolution" ***1/2 (Three and a Half Stars Out of Four). "Revolution" airs Monday nights on NBC. Check your local listings for air times.

More, anon.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Retro Review: "Snow White and the Huntsman"

While I missed it when it was released to theaters in May, I very much wanted to see Snow White and the Huntsman and while in Miami, I got the chance to rent it as an in-room movie Saturday night. 

I really loved almost everything about this movie, especially its dark and violent tone. And while many find the 1937 Disney classic to be rather dark, Snow White and the Huntsman is no Disney fantasy. 

The movie opens with the deaths of both Snow White's mother (from an unspecified illness) and the murder of her father (hottie Noah Huntley of 28 Days Later and Your Highness) at the hands of his beautiful but ice cold new wife, Ravenna (the stunning beauty Charlize Theron). Snow White is hurried off to a tower cell where she grows up to be Kristen Stewart (Twilight). When the seemingly ageless Ravenna learns that she can attain immortality from her magic mirror (voiced by Christopher Obi of "Doctor Who" and Burke and Hare) if she can possess the beating heart of Snow White, Ravenna orders her creepy brother Finn (The Hurt Locker's Sam Spruell) to fetch her from the tower. Aided by a bird she'd rescued as a child, Snow escapes and makes her way to the Dark Forest, where Ravenna's horses cannot enter thanks to a convenient swamp. Ravenna then enlists Chris "Thor" Hemsworth's drunken Huntsman to retrieve her with the promise of resurrecting his dead wife. 

There are four reasons to see the movie: Theron, Hemsworth, the special effects and the eight amazing actors who portray the CGI enhanced dwarfs. Ian McShane; Bob Hoskins; Ray Winstone; Nick Frost; Eddie Marsan; Toby Jones; Johhny Harris and Brian Gleeson make up the rattiest, dirtiest and most delightful band of gold-hearted miscreants in recent memory, even if it is a bit disconcerting to see them shrunken down to a third of their actual sizes. Theron is nothing less than mesmerizing as Ravenna and her beauty shines through even when made up as an old crone. No one plays a beautiful, evil bitch like she can. Hemsworth is fine, though his affected Australian/Irish accent is occasionally weird to the ear and as in The Cabin in the Woods, he doesn't spend nearly enough time unclothed for my taste. Spruell is also fine, his creepiness aided by his pale makeup and a choppy, bad Page Boy haircut. 

Sadly, the dour-faced Stewart is hardly believable as someone who is supposed to be more beautiful than Theron (a task few young actresses would be able to fulfill), though it is the purity of her heart that makes Snow White the "fairer" of the two. Pretty Sam Claflin (recently cast as Finnick in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire) is the adult version of Snow White's childhood friend, William and he does his best with a role that could have been left out without affecting the movie in any way. 

The fantasy elements, which include a giant troll; some very weird fairies; mushrooms with eyes and a rather magnificent version of the fabled White Stag, are often breathtaking and add just enough whimsy to keep the movie from being relentlessly grim. First time director Rupert Sanders (who was instrumental in the break-up of Stewart and her Twilight co-star Robert Pattinson - he of the creepy, pasty flat face) does a fine job balancing the more realistic elements of the film with the fantastical, though the movie does get bogged down a bit in the middle, though the infamous Poison Apple scene is handled quite cleverly. Fans of the original Brothers Grimm tale won't be disappointed by the dark tone and general dirtiness of the movie (almost everyone is covered in grime, mud and soot), though I wouldn't recommend it for children who know and love the Disney version or for adults who prefer "pretty" fairy tales with easily achieved happy endings. I didn't (and have no desire to) see Tarsem Singh's comedic Mirror, Mirror but I imagine it can't begin to compare to this movie.

*** (Three Out of Four Stars). Snow White and the Huntsman is rated PG-13 for "intense sequences of violence and action, and brief sensuality."

More, anon.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Jiggedey Jig

Drag at South Beach
While I may not have slept very well while on my business trip to Miami (I truly despise hotels and never get much sleep while in one, no matter how luxurious), I did have a good time.

After arriving in Miami on Friday afternoon, my coworkers and I spent the afternoon preparing for Saturday's event. Once released, three of my lady coworkers (ranging in age from mid-20's to early-60's) and I headed to South Beach in search of fun. After visiting the beach, where the surf was exceptionally rough, so our youngest adventurer (also the niece of my rock, K) could dip her feet in the very warm waters of the South Atlantic, we made our way along Ocean Avenue where countless waitstaff at lots of restaurants and clubs attempted to lure us for dinner and drinks. And while we saw many tourists taking advantage of truly gigantic Margaritas; Mai-Tais and other exotic drinks, we kept on walking until we found The Palace Bar. The Palace not only had an affordable dinner menu but also advertised a Drag Show from 6 to 10 PM. The ladies were intrigued and I found myself very comfortable among the gay restaurant's patrons (many of whom were incredibly hot).

We settled in at a sidewalk table as our adorable waiter kept plying us with pitchers of a delicious German beer (we drank four but he only charged us for three) while a bevy of beautiful 'ladies' kept us entertained for over three hours. We dished; we laughed (a lot); we ate and drank and had an all-around great time. Uncle P even got 'molested' by the drag queen in the picture above. The show was fantastic and the performers even made their way onto Ocean Drive where they often stopped traffic to perform in the middle of the street. So much fun!

The next night (after a successful work event) the same four (plus one who had heard stories of our grand adventure), made our way to the Bayside Market, where we had an amazing Italian meal a Lombardi's and did some shopping. It was a less exciting, though equally enjoyable evening for all of us. We ended the evening with a ride back to our hotel (the gorgeous Hyatt Regency Miami) on the Monkey Shuttle; a free, open-air electric shuttle that allowed for delicious wind in our hair and a very amusing and knowledgeable driver who worked only for tips.

My only previous stop in Miami was for dinner on my way to Key West with college friends while on Spring Break in the mid-80's. I remember it being seedy and a bit scary. My, how times have changed. 
I do hope to return to Miami someday on a proper vacation, without the restrictions of traveling for business. I have been on many business trips for the Day Job to cities which I have truly enjoyed (Chicago among the best of them) but I can honestly say that Miami will remain one of my all-time favorites.

I'll be back tomorrow with a Retro Review of Snow White and the Huntsman.

More, anon.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A Few Nights Away

So, Uncle P is off to fabulous Miami for a business trip this weekend, which means I won't be posting tomorrow or Saturday. And while I will be in one of the gayest cities in Florida, I am there for work, so play time will be restricted to Friday and Saturday evenings. Of course, 'playtime' on a business trip means hanging out with co-workers, so I won't be able to get into too much trouble. Miami is a city for old Jews and hot, young gay boys and since I fall somewhere in between (yeah, I know...), I doubt there'll be too many opportunities for real trouble, anyway.

Still, maybe I'll get lucky and find Adam Rodriguez and Jonathan Togo still hanging around, looking for someone... I mean, something to do. David Caruso... not so much.

I'll be back on Sunday.

More, anon.