Dec 30, 2018

You: What's Worse, a Predatory Lesbian or a Hetero Stalker?

I don't usually watch romance movies, and I didn't even know that romance tv shows were a thing, but when you're visiting relatives, you watch what they watch, and what they watched was You.

A tv series with a title that makes internet searches extremely difficult.

It's a bland anxiety-stalker romance with not enough twists to keep your interested past the first episode.  Unless your relatives insist.

Manhattan used-bookstore manager Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgley, who I originally confused with comedian/atheism activist Penn Gillette) falls in love at first sight with customer Beck (Elizabeth Lail), a creative writing student. Through a combination of traditional stalking and social media mining, he manages to arrange some meet-cutes and tries to push his way into becoming her boyfriend.

Beck has some problems: she's insecure about her writing, a gold-digger, and a sex addict with a penchant for authority figures.  And that's just obvious: there are dark secrets in her past.  But nobody's perfect.

Of course, there are obstacles on the way to True Love.  Joe kidnaps, and eventually kills, Beck's ex-boyfriend Benji (Lou Taylor Pucci, left), manhandles her harassing academic advisor (Reg Rogers) and the therapist she's having an affair with (John Stamos).

Rich friend Peach (Shay Mitchell), a predatory lesbian with designs on Beck, is the worst threat, suspecting Joe from the beginning.  So Joe kills her, too, both to keep his secret safe and to keep Beck out of her clutches.

Meanwhile he befriends Paco, the kid next door who is living with a druggie mom and her abusive boyfriend (Daniel Cosgrove, left).  See, he's not such a bad guy.  Besides, he has a dark back story of his own.

I expected more plot twists to maintain audience interest.  I expected Beck to turn the tables and be a stalker-murderer of her own, like on the episode of Amazing Stories where a serial killer discovers that his intended victim is another serial killer who's been targeting him!

But nothing that clever.  I only saw 4 episodes before leaving Indianapolis, but back home I watched Episode 8, and it's still still "Oh, gee, that guy's a threat, I think I'll kill him, and then go buddy-bond with Paco."

Gay characters: A predatory lesbian, but otherwise this is a gay-free Manhattan.  I expected more from Greg Berlanti, who is gay in real life.

Beefcake: A lot of chests and butts of the guys Beck screws.  A lot of hunky cops, bookstore patrons, party guests, and bohemians. And don't forget the cheery, lacking-in-dark-secrets Ethan (Zach Cherry).  Frankly, I'd rather date him than any of jerks-with-muscles on the show.

Dec 28, 2018

"God Friended Me": God Friends Gay People, Too

TV dramas often sent the protagonist out on the road, to encounter new people in different settings every episode.  It provides for more plot possibilities than the "what else can we have happen at that radio station?" of situation-bound dramas. and famous guest stars can draw in the viewers. 

Sometimes the wandering busybody is an angel, or sent by God in some way.  I tend to avoid those shows, as they tend to be treacly "learn to live every moment!" nonsense. 

God Friended Me gives the heavenly helper a twist.  Miles (Brandon Micheal Hall), who runs a popular atheism podcast, gets a Facebook friend request from "God."  Obviously not the Creator of the Universe, but some provocateur, so Miles accepts.  "God" suggests other Facebook friends, all of whom have problems that Miles can solve.

1. A doctor planning to commit suicide.

2. A writer with writer's block and an estranged mother gets into an auto accident, and is assisted by the doctor from Miracle #1.

3. A single mother with an autistic son.

4. A motherless teenager (Jason Genao) and a police office with a dead wife (auto accident) find each other.

5. A woman with a lost love, who turns out to be a lonely gay guy (Will Rogers, left).  They are happy to reconnect as friends.

6. An alcoholic artist with a sister who died in an auto accident feels guilty.

7. A Muslim cab driver who disapproves of his daughter's Jewish boyfriend (Etai Benson, right).

8. Miles' own estranged father, a minister who disapproves of his atheism, and whose wife died in accident.

And so on.  By the way, what's with all the auto accidents?  Sloppy writing, or is Miles in some sort of coma after accident? 

Meanwhile Miles (center) tries determine the identity of this "God" person, along with his Scoobies:

1. Cara (left), the writer from Miracle #2.
2. Ali, Miles' sister.
3. Rakesh (Suraj Sharma, right and top photo), a computer hacker.
4. Jaya, his girlfriend
5. Arthur, from Miracle #8

There's a lesbian couple and a gay man among the miracles, which raises the ire of fundamentalist Christian fans:  "'s about God!  It shouldn't be forcing deviant lifestyles down our throat!"   

Fundie fans also tend to believe that "God" is actually God, communicating out of an updated Burning Bush.  After all, who else would be able to get Miles to the exact location he needs to be in to meet the person who is connected to another person who will help them reconnect with their estranged whoever?

"Bird Box": One Gay Character, Who Dies.

Bird Box appears in articles on "LGBT Movies to Watch on Netflix in December" and "Top LGBT Movie on Netflix."  It even appeared on a Decider list of the "Top 50 LGBT Characters."   So I watched.  Well, I fast forwarded through some of the gross stuff.

The opening: Malorie (Sandra Bullock) tells two children, named Boy and Girl, that they are going on a perilous journey down the river to safety, and they must never take their blindfolds off, or they will die.

Interspliced with the perilous blindfold journey is the back story:

Depressed painter Malorie, who is pregnant with a baby she doesn't want, is meeting her sister, Jessica (Sarah Paulson, who works with horses. Neither of them seems to have much room for other people in theiir lives.   I'm pretty sure they were written as a lesbian couple, and changed to sisters at the last minute. 

They dismiss tv reports of mass suicides in Europe  and mass hysteria in the U.S., and head out to see their obstretician, Dr. Lapham (Parminder Nagra).

Lapham?  Got a problem with Indian names? mean Dr. offended by their many jokes about how much they hate the baby.  She suggests that they give it up for adoption.

On the way out of the appointment, Melonie and Jessica run headlong into the Apocalypse.  Something or some things appear.  Anyone who sees them, including Jessica, immediately commits suicide.  Start running, and don't look back.

We don't know what they look like.  People who see them say "What the hell is that?," "Mom?", and "They're not so bad."  One guy says that they show you the worst of yourself, but that's just speculation.

Melonie takes refuge in the very well appointed house of Greg (B.D. Wong), along with a ragtag band of whoever happened to be running past and invited in.  They're familiar from other stories of Apocalypse survivors:

1. Born leader Tom (Trevante Rhodes, top photo)

2. Survivalist Douglas (John Malkovich).

3. Druggie Felix (rapper Machine Gun Kelly, below)

4. Religious fanatic (Lil Rel Howery, left)

5. Teenage boy.

6. Elderly lady who talks about her dead husband

7. A woman who was out jogging

8. Another pregnant girl

Sorry, I lost track of character names.

Besides, Tom, Charlie, Greg, Gary, Rick?  What's with the whitewashing of everybody's name?

Standard survival stuff ensues -- go on a food run blindfolded, give birth without any medical care, and so on.

A twist comes when some of the people who see the things don't immediately commit suicide.  They stay sentient long enough to force other people to look.  One of those shows up at the house, talks his way inside, and begins tearing down the curtains so they have to look.

Eventually all of the survivors die except Melonie, Tom, and the two kids, who form a nuclear family.  Then Tom dies, too, and Melonie takes the kids on the perilous journey to the sanctuary, which happens to be a school for the blind.

The survivors are mostly blind children, who are immune to the things.

Among the residents is Dr. Lapham, who smiles approvingly at Melonie's two children.

Wait -- has all this been a lengthy morality tale to convince Melonie that having kids is worthwhile?  That the goal of all women's lives should be to reproduce?


No beefcake.  Felix takes his shirt off, but that doesn't count as beefcake, not by a long shot.

Oh, by the way, Greg, whose house they crash in, is gay.  We know because Douglas states that his husband was an architect.

He's the first of the survivors to die (bury your gays).

This by you is a LGBT movie?

Dec 27, 2018

Getting Naked after Christmas: The British Boxing Day Dip

In Britain, Christmas is traditionally a time for caroling, exchanging gifts, going to pantomimes...

And plunging naked into the frosty Atlantic Ocean.

Porthcawl, Wales, has been holding an annual Christmas Morning Dip for chartiy for over 40 years.

Many other seaside towns hold their in Wales and England, like Aldeburgh,  Llandudno, Cromer, and Tenby, hold theirs on Boxing Day, December 26th (so-called because people would box up their Christmas dinner leftovers and pass them out to the less fortunate).

In Aldeburgh, Llandudno, Cromer, Tenby, and a dozen other towns, Boxing Day means a morning of fun and entertainment, followed by a quick costume change and a headlong dash into the sea (typically a frigid 50 degrees Fahrenheit).

Many dress in tuxedos and evening gowns (they're not limited to men, like the Naked Festivals of Japan).  Others go in costumes as Santa Clauses, Elves, Uncle Sams, or Power Rangers.  But most take off as many clothes as they can stand.

The rules are:
1. No full nudity (though occasionally skimpy thongs are ok, and sometimes they "accidentally" slip off).
2. No wetsuits (you have to be cold).
3. It only counts as a "dip" if you get your hair wet twice.

Afterwards the participants dry off, sip Bovril (beef tea)  and wait to see if they have won the prizes for bravest, best costume, and most donations.

Boxing Day Dips aren't gay-specific events, but they're a nice opportunity to see some beefcake during the most bundled-up of seasons, and give to charity.

Dec 26, 2018

Final Space: Gay Subtext, Beefcake-Heavy Sci-Fi Spoof

In the animated sci-fi series Final Space, bumbling small-time crook Gary Goodspeed (Olin Rogers) masquerades as an elite Infinity Guard pilot (to impress a girl -- he's rather aggressively heterosexual). 

His attempt to actually fly a spaceship (how hard can it be?) results in the loss of 92 Imperium Cruisers and a small family-owned Mexican restaurant.

He receives a five-year sentence on an empty spaceship, with no company except the deadpan control computer, HUE (think Hal-from-2001); and the annoying anti-insanity robot companion KVN.

After nearly five years of isolation (and no cookies), Gary is desperate for company, so he eagerly bonds with a cooing round semi-sentient space animal that pops by one day.  He even names it: Mooncake.

Turns out that Mooncake is a baby "planet destroyer" with mega-powers that every baddie in the galaxy is after.  Especially the Darth Vader-like Lord Commander (David Tennant), who was besties with Gary's father before going to the Dark Side.

To protect his new pet and avoid being disintegrated by his Dad's former bff, Gary teams up with a catlike bounty hunter named Avocato (Coty Galloway), and the game is afoot.

Later Avocato is killed, and his son, Little Cato (Steven Yeun), becomes Gary's replacement sidekick. Quinn (Tika Sumpter), Gary's crush, joins the gang, although she adamantly refuses any of his ham-fisted attempts at eliciting romance. Until she doesn't.

The stakes get higher -- a breach in space-time threatens to destroy the universe, and Gary and his team must steal an anti-matter bomb from Earth and fly through enemy territory to...well, it's just a maguffin to help Gary to transform from doofus to hero.

Aside from the obvious Star Wars-inspired plotline, there are echoes of Futurama, Guardians of the Galaxy, Mystery Science Theater 3000 ("He's the only one who can keep you sane") and even Adventure Time (Mooncakes looks sort of like a semi-sentient Jake the Dog).

Gay subtexts abound in this series.  Gary hugs, grabs, and complements physiques with post-gay nonchalance, and he grieves the loss of his bff as intensely as if he were a partner -- and has a child to raise alone.  Plus most of the supporting characters express no heterosexual interest.  Gary had a father but no mother.  Avocato has a son but no wife. 

Beefcake abounds, too.  Underwear shots of Gary and occasionally other characters, bare butts, and once, briefly, a penis. The humans have cartoon stick-figure bodies, but beefcake is beefcake.

Olan Rogers created the characters while a student at the University of Memphis, and uploaded some comedy shorts to his youtube channel. They attracted the attention of talk show host Conan O'Brien, who encouraged Olan to develop the tv series.

By the way, he's a born-again Christian, but writes that he doesn't have a problem with gay people: "I've met some gays that are nicer than straights."

Dec 22, 2018

A Remedy for Twinks

I've been doing a lot of twink-style beefcake lately.  Time to get back to macho men with muscles and chest hair.

This wrestler has a singlet with an eagle logo and "Jacob Curby, 1984-2010."  I can't read the line in cursive below it, but it probably says something like "Rest in peace."  So I wanted to find out who this Jacob Curby was, and why this wrestler memorialized him.  His big brother, perhaps?

Jacob Curby's obituary was easy to find: He was from LaGrange Highlands, Illinois, and he had two siblings, Nicholas and Courtney Curby.

He graduated from L.H.S. in 2002, and studied at the United States Olympic Education Training Center in Marquette, Wisconsin.  He was a member of the U.S. Graeco-Roman Wrestling Team.

After receiving his B.S. from Northern Michigan University, he moved to Boise, Idaho, to train for the 2012 Olympics.  But died unexpectedly one day, while taking a nap after a practice.

He suffered from cancer as a child, so memorials were requested to go to U.S.A.Wrestling or to Loyola University Pediatric Oncology Research.

More details: Jacob's family sponsored the  Jacob Curby Foundation, which offered the Curby Cup to American and Iranian wrestling teams every year from 2010 to 2015.

I don't know why American and Iranian in particular, but the 2015 winner was Bashir Babjanzadeh, who also competed in the 2016 Olympics.  He was suspended from competition for four years for doping (misusing steroids).

So who is wearing the memorial singlet?  I tried  Jacob's brother, Nicholas, the fiancee's brothers, and wrestlers at his old high school. No dice.

A reverse image search on google revealed "Beefy Men," "Muscular Wrestling Hunk," and various other photo names.

Then I found an exact duplicate: "Ben Proviser vs. Manuchar Kvirkelia, 2012 Curby Cup.  The memorializing wrestler must be one of those two.

Manuchar Kvirkelia, from Tbilisi, Georgia, won a gold medal in the 2008 summer Olympics.

Ben Proviser, from Stevens Point, Wisconsin, competed in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics.

The memorializing wrestler doesn't really look like either of them, but things change in 6 years.  It's probably Ben.

Here's Philippe Doux LaPlace, just because he's bulging and has chest hair.

And someone whose name I don't know, just because he's bulging.

Tired of muscle men yet?

The Protector: Turkish Superhero TV

The new Netflix series The Protector (2018-) is set in Istanbul, which is sort of interesting, but not very.  This is an Istanbul with no sign of Islam anywhere, which is almost as annoying as the standard gay-free San Francisco of American tv.

It's filmed in Turkish but dubbed in English, specifically an annoying colloquial "hey, dude, whazzup?" American.  Netflix uses subtitles for Basque, Catalan, and Hebrew.  Why Turkish?

I like Cagatay Ulusoy, but I do not like his character, Hasan, at all.  He's an annoyingly chipper post-teen operator with Big Dreams.

He and his buddy Memo (Cankat Aydos) hope to get the contract for renovating Hagia Sofia, the former Greek Orthodox Cathedral that is the most famous landmark in Turkey. 

Fat chance.   Turns out that rival contractor Faysal Erdem (Okan Yalabik) is killing off the competiton. 

Hasan keeps butting heads with his traditional father, who owns an antique shop: "We've got to be modern!"  I've only seen this a thousand times before.

And he's a stereotyped 1970s horndog, double-taking and jaw-dropping at ladies every five seconds, and getting cruised constantly with the absurd intensity of a shaving cream commercial, where the guy has to fight off armies of women driven to a sexual frenzy by the sight of his clean-shaven face.

But on to the plot:Hassan finds an ancient talismanic t-shirt which names him the Protector, a superhero destined to protect the world from the evil Immortal.  En route he has to find several more emblems of power.  He is assisted by a pharmacist named Kemal (Yurdaer Okur), the standard hero's mentor (think Mr. Miyagi and Yoda) and his daughter Zaynib.

Meanwhile the mysterious Leyla, who works for Erdem, joins the team, and...well, I don't need to finish that sentence, do I?

I don't expect any gay characters in a tv series filmed in the Middle East, but there isn't really much buddy-bonding, either.  Other than Memo, who is killed early on, Hasan's associates are all women or elderly men. 

Beefcake is also rather limited.  Hasan takes his shirt off a lot, to show the talisman burned into his chest, but the characters are usually shown in business suits.

I suggest skipping the stream and going for a pin-up of  Cagatay Ulusoy and a Google Earth tour of Hagia Sofia.

Dec 21, 2018

12 Hunks of "12 Monkeys"

12 Monkeys (1995) was a turgid, incomprehensible mess starring Bruce Willis as a depressed guy traveling through time to prevent an apocalypse.  Toned down and made a bit less depressing, it became a Sci-Fi Channel tv series in 2015. 

Rogue scientists Mulder and, I mean Cole and Cassandra (Aaron Stanford, Amanda Schull) travel back from the post-apocalyptic future to our era to stop the Army of the 12 Monkeys from initiating the apocalypse.

Wait -- didn't we just see that plot on American Horror Story?  And Terminator?

Their quest takes them to the 1980s, the 1940s, back to 2043, to the 1920s, to the Middle Ages.  They try to assassinate their younger selves; their younger selves try to assassinate them.  They fall in love in record time (no Sam and Diane "will they or won't they?" or these two!), but their timeline is dissolved, and they have to fall in love all over again.

There's lots of other heterosexualizing, and no gay characters, except the Season 1 Big Bad, a stereotyped gay villain with a husband and everything.

Even the beefcake is second rate.

1. Aaron Stanford plays Cole with a slezoid style.

2. Ramse (Kirk Acevedo, right), Cole's heterosexual buddy who turns traitor, naturally. Was there ever a heterosexual buddy who didn't?

3. Aaron (Noah Bean), Cassie's ex.  Sorry, I couldn't find any photos of him where he wasn't attached to a woman.  We get it: Mr. Bean likes ladies, and he wants the world to know.

4. Deacon (Todd Stashwick, left), the Big Bad of Season 2, who dates Cassie while she and Cole are on a break.

5. Dr. Julian Adler (Andrew Giles), the head of the time travel project.  Think Rupert from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

6.  Whitley (Demore Barnes).  Out of 100 characters, you need at least one black guy.  He's a soldier in the future, straight outta Compton, but if Demore Barnes doesn't mind the stereotyping, why should we?

7.You need at least one guy with chest hair, too.

 Robert Gale (Jay Karnes), an FBI Agent in the 1940s sequence who suspects that Cole is a time traveler.

8. Oliver (Ramon De Ocampo), the Season 1 Big Bad with a husband.  De Ocampo is straight in real life, but he's played gay characters before.  Well, not gay villains, but if he doesn't mind the stereotyping, why should we?

9. Mallick (Faran Tahir), an evil terrorist.  If Pakistani-American actor Faran Tahir doesn't mind the stereotyping, why should we?

10. Athan (James Callis), Cole and Cassie's son (see the resemblance?),  who was raised by the Army of the 12 Monkeys to be their prophet, called the Witness.  He lives with Sebastian.

Another gay Big Bad?  I don't know: I didn't get that far.

11. Sebastian (Dylan Colton)

12.The Witness (Andrew Lichte-Lee).  Wait -- I thought Athan was the Witness.  Maybe there are two of them, or maybe he splits in half, or...who knows?  Let's just concentrate on Andrew Lichti-Lee, a model, actor, and tech nerd with 1,500 followers on instagram.

Dec 19, 2018

Laying it Bare in Key West

This is an interesting post from 2012, one of the first I posted to this blog.  What's interesting are the comments.  Back then I was much more forgiving of comments like "He can't be gay!  He's not wearing a sign!"  and "He can't be gay!  He's only 12."

The implications, of course, are odious:  everyone must be taken as heterosexual unless the authors explicitly that they are gay. 

There are no gay children; we are all straight until we decide to "turn gay" sometime in adulthood.

Today I would just delete them automatically, but back in 2012, a newbie, I let them stand.

So here's the post:

I have 3 questions about CrissCross (1992), the downbeat but very brightly-lit movie starring David Arnott as a 12-year old boy whose mom works as a topless dancer.  And that's the least of his problems.  His biggest: his name is actually Criss Cross.

1. Who decided to cast decidedly homophobic Goldie Hawn as the mother of a gay kid?

Ok, maybe the producers weren't expecting a gay reading.  But it's hard to miss: as Criss (David Arnott) rides his bike down the mean streets of Key West, searching for a way to make money so Mom won't have to strip anymore (he hits on a plan to steal drugs being smuggled in on a fishing boat, with tragic results), he tries again and again to establish a same-sex bond.

First a male peer, Buggs (Damian Vantriglia); then the grizzled Emmett (James Gammon), who advises him that "The only thing worse than being lonely with yourself is being lonely with someone."

If you're trying to make gay mecca Key West gay-free, shouldn't you patrol for same-sex friendships, and give the kid a girlfriend (he does have a girl who's a friend)?

2.  Why the nudity?

I know it's hot in Florida,  and it's nice that all the male actors are barechested all the time.  It's understandable, I guess, that the kid rides around shirtless, in Daisy Duke short-shorts. But why the nude butt, when the movie is R-rated, so gay kids can't even get in to see it?

50 years ago, preteens were commonly filmed nude in movies to signify their innocence.  But this kid is anything but innocent.

3. What happened to David Arnott?

He gives a good, understated performance, reminiscent of Chris Makepeace in Meatballs (although that's a completely different genre).  He handles the gay-vague subtext with panache.  One one expects him to have a long career as a serious actor, or at least some ecstatic "fave rave" articles in Tiger Beat.  But this was his first movie -- he beat out 3,000 hopefuls in open auditions -- and his last.  Maybe he didn't like acting.

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