Wednesday, July 22, 2015

2016 Republican Presidential Candidates Haiku

That's right! In honor of National Poetry Month (three months late)—GOP candidate haiku for 2016. After working on these 5-7-5 syllable poem-ets, I have to tell you—these are some scary mofos who hope to head the United States of America.

According to their almost universal policies, they would easily excel within any Taliban government. And given their druthers, teen-aged girls and full-grown women (including victims of rape and incest) should have babies—lots and lots of babies. That leaves these guys free to count their dirty, ill-gotten gun-lobby money while incarcerating as many poor addicts as possible, possibly murdering them with the death penalty whether they're guilty or not. Forget about healthcare, teeming masses—if you can't afford healthcare, that's just God's mandate. And are they pals with God! God is their great big buddy and right-hand man. I think that covers it.

Oh, and they'd really rather many of us not vote, so they can continue to power up their Fox News-generated political sideshow to stay in office as long as possible and feed off us like a bacterial infection.

Let's haiku:



Jeb Bush
No on abortion
Yes to the death penalty
Voting rights? Hah! lol




Chris Christie
Look into his eyes
The bullies from seventh grade
had more empathy




Ted Cruz
shuts down government
thinks climate change is a joke
morally bankrupt




Dr. Ben Carson
Believes health care law
is as bad as slavery
This man is confused




Donald Trump
Mr. pouty face
would-be supreme dictator
of major suckage




Carly Fiorina
My old HP boss!
a glorified P.R. hack
—so she qualifies




Mike Huckabee
Outlaw abortion
All human life is precious
Have a gun instead





Bobby Jindal
Paranoid zealot
drowning in a no-go-zone
of his withered mind




Rand Paul
libertarian
fiscally conservative
tea party code words




Rick Perry
policy wanker
deep in the heart of Texas
a heart of darkness




Rick Santorum
Family values
don't include contraception
Google "Santorum"



 
Scott Walker
is lacking daughters
to undergo ultrasound
for their abortions

Monday, July 13, 2015

My idea-generator is as empty as...

Summer's here and my brain is shutting down. And my landlord is swapping out all my bathroom hardware, originally from 1978. And the only films I've watched lately are Inside Out and Life Itself—both popular and very worth seeing. Day after day I stare at this blank blogger rectangle, trying to think of things to type, but all that comes up is:

Trona Pinnacles

The tufa formations of my mind

Badwater Basin

The salt flat of my mind

This White Mountains slag heap

Yup, the slag heap of my mind

I'm hoping we go on a trip soon so I'll have something to write about. Otherwise, you're going to be seeing a post about my updated bathrooms. And we don't want that.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Celebrate - See "Pride" (2014)

CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL PEOPLE WHO WANT TO GET MARRIED. It's a great day for civil rights in the USA. I can honestly say I'm proud of my country.

If you can't make it to a Pride Parade this weekend, that's too bad—it's going to be fantastic—why not watch my new favorite feel-good movie of the century, Pride? Based on a true, better-than-fiction and little-known event, Pride is expertly written by Stephen Bereford and directed with much soul by Matthew Warchus. (Note: I watched with English subtitles to get all that accented British humor.) Its ensemble cast is just simply remarkable, including all manner of promising newcomers along with great performances by so many greats—Imelda Staunton, Bill Nighy, Paddy Considine, Dominic West.

I'm not a huge proponent of the "feel-good" film. I don't like being emotionally manipulated by the powerful medium of cinema. But this film earns its emotions, by giving us well-rounded characters (so difficult to pull off in a large ensemble story), with excellent acting and the perfect story-telling touches that are the essence of skill, effort and some collaborative magic. There's so much humor and humanity in this film. And it's just a great story.

It's 1984 in Margaret Thatcher's London. A small group of young activists decide at the behest of their impromptu leader, Mark, to collect funds for long-time striking miners in Northern England. The miners are running low on funds, food and hope. They're also getting arrested on a regular basis. Mark figures they're experiencing a lot of the same problems that he and his gay and lesbian friends have gone through in a conservative society. They form Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners—LGSM (although Steph, the lone woman, initially makes it The Lesbian and Gays who Support the Miners).

At first they can't even get the union to accept their money—do you see any parallels to our world today? So they call a random town in Wales and make some contact. This leads to further contact, and then full immersion in their respective worlds: gay/straight, small town/urban center, liberal/bigot, until the lines blur and, oh just see it! You'll feel good. You'll also feel sad. It's the cusp of the AIDS crisis. You're going to feel emotions—really feel them. That's worth experiencing.



Here's Mark, who walks tall and leads with his heart (played by Ben Schnetzer—an American, of all things), in his youthful abode with is life-sized cutout of Eartha Kitt and just barely noticeable Communist flag. Mark's political leaning is one of the true facts glossed over to appeal to a wider audience—a pity, since it explains Mark's initial supporting of the miners so well.



I think J.K. Rowling had Margaret Thatcher and her cronies in mind when she thought up Slytherin House.

*shudder*

Gay Pride, the film version.



It was not easy to be out in 1984. The film, a perfect period piece, reminds us without ever losing its sense of humor and honor along the way.



Paddy Considine, disappears (as usual), into his role as Dai, a miner. I would see pretty much anything that Paddy Considine works on—he's like a stamp of quality on a film project.



The LGSM, having lunch with their first miner.



Considine—an actor's actor.



Steph (Faye Marsay) is so 80s with her caustic wit, iconoclastic hair and smoker's stance.



The group shots not only support the theme of strength in unity—they're actually based on real video footage and photos of the time.



Gethin (Andrew Scott) washes his bookstore windows and his resolute body language tells us that he's done this perhaps many times before.



The fierce (and adorable) Jessica Gunning as Sian James—the Wales housewife who went on to big things in parliament.



The genuinely fabulous Dominic West as Jonathan, retired actor and disco appreciator.



Bill Nighy makes understatement a complete art form. Imelda Staunton continues to inspire by handling drama and comedy so deftly.



So many issues are beautifully covered in Pride. Beyond the historical record, there's the difficulties of coming out, finding a support network, fear of the unknown, knowledge and openness as a lifestyle, reaching out, making someone a pot of soup because that's the best course of action at the moment—so many important aspects of life. See it.

And Happy Pride. XO

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Every Tom Cruise Crotch Shot from Ridley Scott's "Legend" (1985)

Some people have big dream-goals in their life. Others aim low. I'm not the most ambitious person, but there is something I've been meaning to accomplish for years now. I talked myself out of it so many times. No, no, I said—it's too much—don't overreach, you're bound to fail! And besides, I like to think I hold myself to some standard of decency (in general). But decency be damned! I'm talking about, of course, posting every Tom Cruise crotch shot from the Ridley Scott's 1985 fantasy bomb, Legend.

I was going to go to my grave without ever stooping this low. But that was before I read Lawrence Wright's scathing exposé, "Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief" (the HBO documentary is very much worth a view too—a brief summary of the most shocking facts is at Rolling Stone, here). Besides uncovering one of the most insidious cults of modern times, Wright points fingers at the people at the top of the Scientology pyramid who benefit the most from their draconian rule. One of those people is Tom Cruise—the seemingly benevolent, if manic, top-billed movie star and winner of Scientology's Freedom Medal of Valor. Cruise, from what I've read over the years, is a nice enough guy on set, but his Scientology ways are dark indeed. He's benefited from his pampered peak as Scientology ombudsman by decree of his buddy and pocket-edition tyrant, David Miscavige, Scientology's self-proclaimed leader.

According to Wright, accolades of the church's elite Sea Org order sign away their lives to billion-year contracts of service. The hapless worker-drones then give the church not only their worldly goods, but their precious time to appease the sailor-suit wearing Scientology top brass. Cruise has reportedly had Sea Org workers over at his manse on several occasions for renovations, luxury-vehicle provision and maintenance, and other manner of skilled labor, free of charge. The workers are said to be making somewhere in the realm of 40 cents an hour for this work, making Tom Cruise, essentially, their lord and master. And he's not just willfully exploitive of people who are threatened by their church with ostracization from family and friends, but he's seriously touched by upper-management madness as well.

So what of Legend? Ridley Scott is one of cinema's most accomplished and prolific producer/directors. He's celebrated as the visionary behind Alien, Blade Runner, Thelma and Louise, and that 1984 Apple Macintosh commercial where a stylish lady in red running shorts hurls a mallet through a propagandist's vision, saving us all from a dystopian future of wearing gray pajamas while suffering massive hair loss. In any case, Legend is not one of his greater works.

Set in a claustrophobic forest (an obvious set) with enough sparkly glitter to supply a legion of preschool art projects, Legend could have been a miniaturized children's fable. But someone got some producers to throw a lot of money at it and then cast a bunch of people who were more creepy than fanciful (and not creepy in the good movie-type way). And then that person decided Tom Cruise's crotch was going to be a major player in almost every scene. This person would be Ridley Scott. Perhaps he had a crush on young Cruise and wanted to show the world his new-found love interest. Or perhaps he had it in for Cruise and decided to damn him to a role known for its crotch shots for all time. We'll probably never know Scott's thinking process.

All I know, is that when I saw this movie in 1985, I was gravely disappointed in all but the last twenty minutes when Tim Curry finally shows up as Darkness, the best personification of the Devil in film history. Curry's makeup by Rob Bottin, according to Wikipedia, was so heavy and claustrophobic that at one point he tried to rip it off without properly soaking the spirit gum applications first, thus taking off some of his own skin in the process. That's some dark movie lore right there.

My only other takeaway from Legend was this: WHY SO MANY CROTCH SHOTS? It was not a subtle director's choice. And I vowed, thirty years ago, even though the Internet did not exist, that I would one day write of these crotch shots and so here we are.

And now—until Tom Cruise comes clean about the evils of Scientology—the crotch shots of Legend.



For my important research here, I was only able to get a Netflix DVD of the extended director's cut of Legend. Let me say this: twenty-five extra minutes of Legend is definitely twenty-five too many. The slug-like pace, inane dialogue (the goblin Blix talks in bad helium-voiced rhyme) and murky inaction will inspire you to multitask like never before. I got a lot of social-media posting done during the first 40 minutes or so. But I always kept my eyes open for the all-important crotch-shots, and I didn't have to wait long.

Here's our introduction to Tom Cruise's Jack—a "child of the forest," who apparently never learned how to sit on his bottom, performing in this squatting crouch in nearly all his scenes. Was Scott channeling monkeys or possums or some other squatty creature when he directed Cruise? The issue is not so much the squatting (although it looks painful and I'm sure Cruise's thighs were sore after each shooting day wrapped), but why did Scott choose to place the camera directly in line with his crotch over and over again?

Introducing Tom Cruise's crotch, in Legend

With his luxurious hair and jagged-toothed smile (I like Cruise's pre-fixed teeth better, just an aside), Cruise looks the part of would-be fantasy hero. But he has that doubtful look in his eye—the look of: "Is this going to ruin my career before it barely got started?" Such a mind-state is deadly to fantasy, which requires complete earnestness while giving up all logic and reason. Still, he's game to try, however miscast.

Crouching Heart-throb, Hidden Crotch

Better hair than his leading lady—always a bad sign

Mia Sara, in her first role as Princess Lili, whose kingdom is apparently somewhere else off-screen, is mainly required to look nice while running through the forest in flowing garments, her arms placed at her sides, just so. Like many of the cast, she ends up uncomfortably underdressed. There's a lot of skin for such a would-be children's fable.

Tra-la-la-laaaa...

The flimsy plot of Legend is a sorry thing. Some latex-faced squeeky-voiced goblins are sent by the lord of Darkness to kill two unicorns (wearing plunger-like horns that wobble when they run), to rid the world of light. Lili touches a unicorn, which is forbidden. Some fairies, led by the underdressed David Bennent as Gump, wearing huge pointy ears, surround Jack in the now-dark and snowy (and glittery) forest and make him answer a riddle and then promise to save a unicorn whose horn got cut off and bring sunlight back to the world. Darkness tries to make Lili his (underdressed Goth) bride and so on and so forth.

Anyway, here's a crotch shot.



Ridley Scott to Tom Cruise: "Can you crouch even lower, Tom? The camera's on the small tripod, you know!" Tom to Ridley: "Uh, sure!" (thinking: jeez, any lower and my balls'll freeze off)



One note: Gump is played by the fellow from The Tin Drum, and he's okay and everything, kind of resembling a Caravaggio Bacchus, but his voice was overdubbed by Alice Playten, who also played the goblin, Blix. Her hissy, whispery, very obviously womanly voice is so perplexing coming from of a male-child wearing a loin cloth in the snow.

Also, wherever Gump goes, a fairy light named Oona follows him (along with a couple of apparent leprechauns on a bender), and she somehow emits these soap bubbles (and face glitter) with her very presence. That's right—BUBBLES. Ridley Scott signed off on some bubble wrangler for this film and we just don't know why. My guess is, his heart wasn't really in this. His heart was too distracted by Tom Cruise's crotch.

Gump—with bubbles

Annabelle Lanyon as Oona, demanding a kiss from Jack, with bubbles
And lest you have any doubts, here's an elf played by Billy Barty, kissing Tom Cruise's leg, which even in a fantasy kingdom, is pretty weird.

\


More crotches.


Action crotch

Ridley to Tom: "Please hold the sword at CROTCH-level!"

Tom: "Uh, okay..."

Here's Tom's crotch, comin' atcha.



And here's his crotch in jail. I wonder if this is anything like the brig David Miscavige throws rebellious Sea Org members into, never to be heard from again.




And because I want to be thorough (this is for posterity after all), here's some really under-lit crotches.



Close-up—no other leading man has ever crouched this much in a major motion picture!





Close-up, in case you missed it. Note Jack's sparkly mini-dress length armor.



Here's a meeting-of-the-minds crotch shot.



One of the unspoken rules of fantasy is that your secondary characters should be fairly endearing, even if they're kind of weird or awkward. Legend didn't bother to follow this rule. Everyone in this film (save Tim Curry, who's excellent, but even he is required to laugh at least once like this: Mwah ha ha ha ha ha haaaaah!) is expendable. It's sad because the makeup, cinematography and set design are lovely. It's as if Scott just couldn't be bothered with plot or character once he started shooting. He was lucky to cast Tim Curry. Pity he only exists in the film's final minutes.

What an entrance

Tim Curry embodies his fantasy role—no questions asked

That's some impressively claustrophobic makeup

Here's some fighting crotch action shots (I think this was the point in 1985 when I'd definitely reached my limit).


You have no idea how I labored to bring you this action-packed crotch shot




This is it: the last crotch—the money shot. Properly lit and presented for maximum crotch overdrive. It's no Tim Curry as the Devil, but I think you'll agree, it delivers.

The last crotch shot, dramatically lit for your pleasure

There's a romantic kiss where even then, Jack's squatting, but his crotch is off-screen. At this point, you must use your imagination!



And here's Cruise's romantic love-sick grin of happily-ever-after. Perhaps this is what he looks like now when he orders his Sea Org minions around his palatial estate whilst counting his stacks of gold coins after each Mission Impossible release.

yikes

But wait—there's more! On the director's cut DVD, two lost scenes are included—one so lost it's pieced together with stills, sketches and a found soundtrack. And what do they reveal? More crotches. I present them here, free of charge—BONUS CROTCHES.


Note the bubbles

 MWAH HA HA HA HA HA HAAAH!