Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Have a Safe and Happy New Year's Eve!

Happy New Year! I've made it clear that I am not sad to see 2013 go. Here's wishing you and yours the Happiest of New Year's. I wish you and all those you love much Joy, Laughter, Prosperity and Health in 2014. Bring it on!

More, anon

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Netflix Revew: "Hansel & Gretel Get Baked"

I suppose a preface of sort is required here. For the past 10 years or so, my rock, K has spent Christmas Eve with Mom and myself. In a beautiful post on Facebook, K expressed how she was going to miss those weird and wonderful nights now that Mom was gone. And since I'll be at my sister's for Christmas Eve this year (something already passed by the time this post is published - how freaky is that?), I proposed that we have a Christmas Eve Eve with many of the traditions we've shared for so long. We were joined by our sweet, funny, weird, wonderful and adorable friend Michael for a lovely candle-lit night of good food, good drink and very good company. Honestly, everyone should be so lucky to have friends like mine - I love and thank them so much. 

Anyway... after dinner we decided to search Netflix for something to entertain us. K and Micheal searched through my personal list, which includes lots of movies only I (and a few of you... Pax...) would appreciate. And after an unabashedly intoxicated K had issues with the WiiMote, I took over, asking what they wanted to see. "Something funny!" they both said. So I went to the list of movies suggested because I'd watched Tucker and Dale vs Evil. I skipped along the menu until I hit upon a title that made me laugh and chose it, saying "If it sucks, we'll change it!" That title was Hansel & Gretel Get Baked. Starring "Castle" regular Molly Quinn as Gretel; the Twilight movies' Michael Welch as Hansel and a frighteningly over-surgeried and an almost unrecognizable Lara Flynn Boyle as a the immortal Bavarian-Nazi-Cannibal-Witch, Agnes who grows and sells enchanted dope to unsuspecting teens. Not surprisingly, the ingestion of those teens' flesh help both restore and maintain Agnes' youth.

Writer/Actor David Tillman's script is just clever enough to keep our interest, amusingly referencing  the story we all know and aided by costume designer Elizabeth Jett's very decidedly Tyrolean-inspired outfits for Ms Quinn. Add plenty of gross-out moments and hilarious puns (Agnes starts out as literally a 'Little Old Lady from Pasadena'), and Hansel & Gretel Get Baked ends up being a very funny modern take on the story via Cheech and Chong, where Skittles serve as breadcrumbs and hot young guys get slathered in herbed butter while strapped to a mortician's gurney. Cary Elwes makes a cameo as the Meter Man while a slew of other character actors you will recognize from every procedural TV show from the last 20 years crop up in other supporting roles.

Not everything works perfectly (Boyle's age makeups aren't quite convincing, though I suspect that may have more to do with her tragic cosmetic surgeries, than anything else). And some of the CGI FX (especially in the denouement) are a bit forced. But if you're looking for a funny, gory and gruesome distraction from all the Holiday nonsense you've been forced to endure in the past month or so, you could do certainly do worse than Hansel & Gretel Get Baked. I would definitely recommend it over the Big Studio crapfest that was Hansel &Gretel: Witch Hunters.

Screened at this year's Tribecca Film Festival, Hansel & Gretel Get Baked is currently available on Netflix and DVD. **1/2 (Two and a Half Out of Four Stars). Rated 'R' for Violence, Gore, Drug Use and Language, it was exactly what the three of us needed, even if K covered her eyes during the gory bits.

More, anon..

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merrily. Merrily, Merrily...

Enjoy the silence. Embrace your loved ones. Take joy in your Humanity. Accept beauty when you see it. Find your light and follow it. Merry Christmas, no matter that means to you. 

More, anon.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

NOT My Favorite Year

Florida is Weird...
Officially, Uncle P has one more work day before I'm on my 'Holiday Break.' To be honest, Monday should be fairly slow at the Day Job, though there are always those panicky clients who MUST get documents processed before the break (despite the fact that their documents aren't going anywhere until after we return). 

In my mind, I'm already in warmer climes, even though I don't leave for Florida until Tuesday morning. And yes, I have a bird/house sitter lined up, so I'm not worried about announcing I'll be away. My dear K will stopping in every day to give Skye fresh water; bring in my mail; watch TV and leave lights on.

This year, K. Michael and I are starting a new tradition: Christmas Eve Eve. Let me explain: For the past ten years or so, K would come over to my house on Christmas Eve to have dinner and take part in the orgy of presents Mom and I would share (long story - see previous posts). Since I'll be in Largo for Christmas Eve, I decided to push our celebration up a day and include a sweet and dear friend who has lent me loads of support in the past few months. We'll have our traditional shrimp cocktail and 'broasted' chicken dinner from Chicken Holiday, complete with their amazing fried creamed-corn nuggets; a small gift exchange and (hopefully) a viewing of A Christmas Story. K will be spending the night and taking me to the airport in the morning (though I have no idea who'll be picking me up when I get home, yet).

I hope to get together with my college friend Marousa (among other activities) while in the Tampa/Clearwater/St.Pete area. Of course, Sis has several activities already planned but I really hope this one happens. I'm very much looking forward to a meal at the African restaurant at Disney's Animal Kingdom's hotel (Sis and the BIL are Vacation Club Members) and honestly can't wait to visit the new Salvador Dali museum where I hope to spend some time gazing at my all-time favorite painting (I have no idea why it's so - it just... 'speaks' to me). I also hope to finish what little holiday shopping I have to do for folks with whom I won't exchange gifts until after the New Year. And among all that excitement, I hope to read at least one play and one novel. Great Expectations, indeed.

This will be the first Christmas spent with my sister in over 18 years. It's also the first Christmas Sis and I will spend without Mom. Ugh. So many feels. I'll be home in time to spend New Year's Eve with my BFFs, K.Q and Dale. So it's all good (or so I keep telling myself). 

It is my fervent hope that you are able to spend time with those you love (and who love you) during the Winter Holiday season, no matter what you believe. Merry Christmas; Happy Solstice; Joyous Kwanzaa and Happy New Year!

With the exception of at least one pre-scheduled post, this is probably (though not decidedly)  my last real-time post for 2013. I will not rue this year's passing. Goodbye and Good Riddance to 2013!

Hoping all of you (and I) have a better year coming!

More, anon.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Gayest Things You'll See This Christmas

Every time I try to get away, they just keep pulling me back! I really thought I was on E ("Empty," NOT Ecstasy). Apparently I'm not because here are two videos that actually helped raise... my spirits, you pervs!

I officially have one week before I'm off to spend the holiday with my sister in the land of lighted palms and be-shorted Santas.

So what does it take to make this Grinch's heart grow (not too much, because enlarged syndrome isn't really a good thing)?  Well, hotties in Speedos and/or undies and adorable frat boys frolicking in the snow to a Katy Perry song, of course.

So here are two very gay, somewhat pervy and often hot videos that warmed the cockles of my heart (look it up, pervs!). 

The first is via Wicked Gay Blog and involves the kind of weather that makes me think of Seinfeld, swimming and other cold-weather/water associated phenomena:

The second is the kind of video that makes me wish I was the self-confident (well, almost) version of myself now, when I was in my 20's (via):

What is it about Katy Perry?

More, anon.

Monday, December 16, 2013

2013 in Film

Saw several. Missed more (and a few have yet to open). Here (via) are 2013's movies in review:

I have lots to catch up on...

More, anon,

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Pachelbel Smiled

Adorable, no?
Couldn't resist this one. Regular readers know my obsession with Flash Mobs. I'm particularly pleased when they involve great music. Of course, when they include adorable cellists and woofy bassists in Air Force uniforms... Well, I don't know about you, but Uncle P must admit to feeling a bit like Garth when he climbs the rope in Gym.

Yesterday, I secured a gig directing a new short play for a new Short Play Festival in North Jersey. I'm very pleased by this and intrigued by the piece (a discourse - in part - on the value of art) and am about to submit a proposal to direct a Christopher Durang piece for a company which has always intimidated me, but which I am pretty sure I can convince to book me, if I get my sh*t together. I am moving forward; rejoining the world and expanding upon my life as an artist. And that's a very good thing, I think.

Someday, in conjunction with some project or other, I am going to stage and execute one of the most amazing Flash Mobs, ever. It joins a return to Paris, visits to London; Cairo; Brisbane; Sydney; Queensland; Tokyo; Bangkok and Machu Pichu and directing "Evil Dead: The Musical" and/or a black comedy 'splash zone' version of "Titus Andronicus" on my ever-growing Bucket List.

Here (via) is the Flash Mob video that inspired tonight's post:

Maybe... just maybe... I'm finally feeling a bit of Holiday Spirit. Or I may just be a sucker for a hottie in a uniform! If I believed in an afterlife, I would imagine Pachelbel smiling at this. It certainly brightened my day!

More, anon.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Last Words on this Topic

Okay, so maybe I was a bit premature. But I did say I'd post if something came up. And something actually has sort of blown up all over social media and I couldn't express everything I had to say about it in short bursts and comments on other people's timelines.

I'm sure you have figured out what I'm going to talk about from the the GrumpyCat meme pic I've posted to your right.

Uncle P's first experience seeing The Sound of Music was at a drive-in with Mom and my sister. I don't remember how old I was. It was certainly before the VHS boom of the late-70's and popular movies were often re-released to theatres many years after their initial runs. Mom thought we'd like it, so off the three of us went. That's almost all I really remember about it. I think I liked it. I do remember Mom telling us about a friend of hers who had left after the wedding scene (long movies often had intermissions) because she thought it was over. And unlike Mary Poppins,* it didn't make my sister cry because Mary left the Banks children. It undoubtedly had an influence on me. I have sung 'Edelweiss' for more auditions than almost any other song. And yes, it's old-school, Rogers and Hammerstein cheese. In fact, one of their cheesiest. But the film is a classic for so many reasons, Ms. Andrews' and Mr. Plummer's performances among the least of them. There is Robert Wise's amazing direction; the stunning scenery and photography; gorgeous period costumes and a score filled with songs that literally everyone in the Western world recognizes, if not knows the lyrics to. The movie is so beloved, that President Reagan rather infamously retreated from a G7 Summit which he was hosting, in order to watch it on TV.

You obviously think you know where this is going, but bear with me.

NBC presented an adaptation of the stage version of the show (in which Broadway legend Mary Martin originated the role of Maria) last Thursday. Twitter, Facebook and the blogosphere in general exploded with both negative and positive reviews, comments and what one of my Facebook friends called a "Snarknado." To be honest, I had no intention of watching it. Don't get me wrong - I've performed in my fair share of R&H shows - they are staples of high school and community theatre. I played Emile in South Pacific my senior year in high school. But give me Sondheim; Schwartz; Kander & Ebb; Rado & Ragni or Parker & Stone, anytime. Especially when it comes to a show like The Sound of Music, which is far better suited for the screen than the stage.

The night it aired, I caught about a total of 30 minutes or so, starting with "My Favorite Things." Not wanting to gawk at the the train wreck, I caught subsequent sections while moving between programs I had DVR'd earlier in the week. I witnessed unsuppressed accents; breathy singing; some really bad acting and even worse dialogue; anachronistic costumes and some pretty crappy sets.

What I did not see, was a Musical Theatre production. There was no live audience; no pauses for applause or laughter; no energy reflected back to cast to inspire them. I saw a talented singer with no acting experience thrust into an iconic role which she had no business playing. I saw some amazing actors left adrift and others taking command. And then there was Audra McDonald's stunning rendition of "Climb Every Mountain:"

Yes, so many of my theatre friends want to tout "The Sound of Music Live!" as an introduction to and inspiration for young theatre enthusiasts. And yes, it's wonderful that TV wants to bring us live performances (something NBC already does on SNL). But if you want to bring live theatre to the masses, then really shell out the bucks give them today's live theatre. I would have been glued to a live performance of Wicked or Pippin. Instead, NBC chose a 'safe' musical, did some stunt-casting and hoped Ms Underwood's fans would tune in, And while the ratings were pretty good, the criticism was less than kind, even among mainstream media. Time Magazine's review had this to say: 

"When Carrie Underwood stepped out on the (wooded, not grassy) hills and started singing, I wished the hills were alive with the sound of hungry mountain lions." Ouch!

Trust me, NO ONE believes more in the power of the Performing Arts than Uncle P.  While a poorly produced and woefully miscast production from a rag-tag company in a Podunk town may be perfectly acceptable and delightful, we expect and deserve more from a multimillion dollar production on a major TV network. 

*Speaking of Mary Poppins, I think if I only see one Holiday movie this year (though I hope to see a few), it has to be Saving Mr. Banks:

And in case you're wondering how all of this ties together, please remember that Julie Andrews won her only Oscar for playing... Mary Poppins. My dear dancer friend 'Lizard' and I were lucky enough to see her live in the Broadway production of Victor/Victoria and while she didn't quite have the range for which she was once so renowned, her stage presence alone was enough to make for an unforgettable theatrical event. That, my friends, is why so many of us hated "The Sound of Music Live!" and it's many missed opportunities.

I truly hope this isn't the last time we see such a grand experiment. I just hope it's done right, next time.

Rant over. Break starts now. Really. Unless some other idiotic thing gets stuck in my craw.  << sigh >>

More, anon (I suppose I have to go back that now, too).

Friday, December 6, 2013

Taking a Break

West and Wewaxation

Uncle P has had a rough year (and an even rougher Fall). Last weekend I broke my toe; caught some sort of bug and then had a very hectic and rather exhausting week at the day-job. I'm tired, folks. So I've decided to take a small break from blogging (since I can't seem to get one anywhere else) for the rest of this year. I'm sure my small band of loyal of loyal readers will understand. That's not to say I won't pop in and rant if I find something that inspires me to do so. I hope I do. I may tweet (@Caliban761) and will certainly be on Facebook. And I will be scheduling a few auto-posts here and there. But I need to give up something for a bit, and right now, it's Caliban's Revenge

I want to get through the holidays as painlessly as possible and while I'll be spending most of Christmas week with my amazing sister and the BIL in Florida, I'm still in recovery mode and need some time to get re-energized and re-inspired.

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season, no matter holidays you do or don't celebrate. Take time for yourselves (and buy something to give yourself for Christmas - a tradition Mom started in our house while I was still in high school). Be good to one another and tell the people you love that you love them, every chance you get. 

See you in 2014.

More, eventually.

Monday, December 2, 2013

World AIDS Day 2013

 I spent World AIDS day painting my bathroom. Of course, that hardly means I ignored the day, even if I spent most of it painting my bathroom.

I won't get into who I've lost or why this cause is so important to me and many people I know and love. It shouldn't really matter. HIV/AIDS is still a global killer. AIDS doesn't care if you are straight or gay; black or white; Hispanic or Asian; African or American. The HIV virus works on the same imperatives we all do: live; feed; reproduce. That's all it cares about (not that a virus actually cares about anything). 

AIDS is NOT just a 'gay' disease. HIV doesn't care or know who it infects or kills. It simply wants to follow those imperatives, and it does so, quite well.

I have personally lost at least two friends (one of them an ex) to AIDS. Some folks I know have lost more.

I encourage all of my readers to give to AIDS-fighting charities like amFAR, The Hyacinth Foundation or even JTMF (or any organization dedicated to the eradication of this insidious virus. It is my dream to see a cure/virus in my lifetime. I hope you feel the same.

More, anon.