Jun 2, 2018

Bill and I Fall Asleep Reading Uncle Scrooge

When I was a kid in the 1960s, it was hard to find comic books.  I didn't get a regular allowance until junior high, and when I did manage to earn a quarter or a dime, Schneider's Drug Store would be out of my favorite titles. I depended mostly on gifts from my uncles, or hand-me-downs from my cousin or the big kid down the street.

So one of my fondest childhood memories is of the summer of 1971 -- a few weeks before my Aunt Mavis took us to see The Time Machine.  My boyfriend Bill, my brother, and I went to the Denkmann Elementary School Carnival, and  I won a whole box of Disney comics that somebody donated-- Donald Duck, Walt Disney's Comics and Stories, Uncle Scrooge --  over 20 in all.

In those days new comics cost 15 cents, so that was quite a score!

I could do without the Donald Ducks, with Donald being forced to sit on a chair at the Bon Ton while Daisy tried on hats, and the Walt Disney's Comics and Stories were uneven, but each of the Uncle Scrooges was a gem.

In each issue Uncle Scrooge traveled to a far-flung corner of the world with Donald and his grand-nephews (Huey, Dewey, and Louie) to manage his various business enterprises or acquire more wealth.

They are captured by the Harpies while searching for the Golden Fleece.
They rocket to a solid gold moon created by a Venusian explorer.
They find the Mines of King Solomon.
They visit the kingdom of Tralla-La in Tibet.

History, astronomy, mythology, chest-pounding adventure, either before or at the same moment that I was discovering Treasure Island, King Solomon's Mines, Coral Island, Journey to the Center of the Earth, and the books in the Green Library!

It was a male-only world, with no damsels in distress to be rescued and no girls waiting back home at the adventure's end.  Uncle Scrooge is elderly, his life nearly over, and he has never expressed the slightest interest in a woman.

But my memory has another layer:

I did not read the comics alone.

Bill invited me to stay over at his house so he could "help me" read, squeezed into his small bed in the room down the hall from his big brother Mike.

I read long into the night, long after Bill loosened his grip on a comic, his eyelids fluttered shut, and he began to snore. Once he shifted position until we were pressed together, his soft chest rising and falling, his lips parted slightly, his face illuminated in the golden light of his cowboy lamp.

When I was ready to sleep, I lay against his chest, and he put his arm around me.

I had slept over with Bill many times before, and I would sleep over again, but that was the only time we slept in each other's arms.

May 30, 2018

Why I Walked Out on Spiderman

I was asked if I ever see a movie that doesn't have gay characters or a gay subtext.

Not often. If it's of historical importance, or if the premise is intriguing, maybe.

For instance, let's look at the top grossing films of 2002 that I didn't see.

1. My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Who wants to see a movie about heterosexuals getting married?

2. Austin Powers in Gold Member. It stars the homophobic Seth Green.

3. Men in Black 2.  It stars the homophobic Will Smith.

4. Die Another Day. Trailer showed Pierce Brosnan kissing women.  Yes, we know heterosexuals exist.  Do they have to rub it in our face?

5. The Bourne Identity.  Trailer showed man (Matt Damon, left) hooking up with woman.  Does every movie trailer have to scream "gay people do not exist!"

6. Maid in Manhattan. Ralph Fiennes in love with a woman. Natch.

7. Red Dragon. Sequel to the homophobic Silence of the Lambs.

8. The Time Machine. I knew the original was heterosexist.

9. 40 Days and 40 Nights.  Hetero-romantic comedy starring Josh Hartnett (left)

10. Cabin Fever.  Starred Rider Strong of Boy Meets World, but I heard that there was a joke about killing gay people.

11. Tuck Everlasting. Hetero-romance starring the homophobic  Jonathan Jackson.

12. Boat Trip.  Homophobic.

And the ones I saw (not always in 2002; sometimes on DVD or Netflix later).

1. Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. Sam and Frodo subtext.

2. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Harry and Ron subtext.

3. Chicago. Strong lesbian subtext.

4. Sweet Home Alabama. Gay character.

5. Spy Kids 2.  Children's movie starring Daryl Sabara (left, later photo), who doesn't express any hetero-horniness.

6. Big Fat Liar. Children's movie starring Frankie Muniz of Malcolm in the Middle, who befriends a girl but doesn't fall in love with her.

7. Orange County. Gay characters.

8. Clockstoppers.  A boy (Jesse Bradford) and a girl stop time, but don't fall in love.

9. The Mothman Prophecies.  Richard Gere investigates the West Virginia monster, and tries to reunite with his dead wife.  Ok, he is obsessed with the wife, but I'm nto the paranormal.

11. Far From Heaven.  Gay married man in the 1950s.

12. The Importance of Being Earnest. Oscar Wilde!

Looks like one movie in every six lacks gay content.

But wait -- I started more, but turned off the DVD on two of them.

1. 28 Days Later.  Cilian Murphy wakes up in the zombie apocalypse, and hooks up with two survivors, a man and a woman. I'm all set for a nice triangulation, when all of a sudden the man dies.

Of course the man had to die.  We had to have a man and a woman left to prove that only heterosexual desire exists, that only heterosexuals exist, to erase gay people from the universe.  I popped the DVD out of the player and threw it in the trash.

2. Igby Goes Down.  The title made it seem obviously gay-themed, and I heard the star, Kieran Culkin (left), was gay.

It wasn't gay-themed.  There were no gay characters.  Instead, there was an amazingly homophobic portrayal of a bi drug dealer.  I turned off

And one I started watching in the theater, but walked out after the first line:

Spider-Man.  I was all set to see Tobey Maguire's muscles (top photo).  But the first line is a voice over stating: "Like all stories, this story is about [a boy and] a girl."  All good stories?  

Heterosexist much?  Way to erase action adventure, comedy, science fiction, and horror stories!   All that is just filler!  The only movie plot is about boys and girls gazing into each other's eyes.   Nothing matters in life but that fade-out boy-girl kiss. Gay people do not exist.  Same-sex friendships do not exist.  My feelings, my hopes, my dreams, my life does not exist.

Who on Earth thought that this incredibly offensive statement was a good way to begin a movie?

I stomped out of that theater pronto, and I've never seen any of uber-jerk Tobey Maguire's other heterosexist dreck

See also: The most homophobic movie ever made

Kon-Tiki: 6 Guys on a Boat

Boys growing up in the 1960s were encouraged to read High Adventure, tales of exploration and conquest: Robert Peary's expedition to the North Pole; Roald Amundsen's expedition to the South Pole; Edmund Hilary's ascent of Mount Everest; Stanley Livingston's trek into Darkest Africa.  

All of this was somehow supposed to prepare us for a future confined to small square offices by day and small square houses by night.

The only tale of High Adventure that I actually liked was Kon-Tiki, about Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl's quest to prove that Polynesia was settled by the early Incas -- or could have been.

So he and five companions built a raft of balsa wood, the only material available to the native peoples, and set out from Callao, Peru on April 28, 1947.  Four months and 4,000 miles later, they ran aground on Raroia, near Tahiti.  To international acclaim.

Who cares that contemporary anthropology disputed his theory?  He had been on a High Adventure.  Every boy I knew read the book, named his toy boat Kon-Tiki, and planned extravagant sailing adventures.  Mine started down the Mississippi, across the Gulf of Mexico to Florida, and then followed the Gulf Stream to Europe.

I especially liked reading about six guys together on a small raft, their bodies nude and bronze in the sun, helping each other, rescuing each other, learning to care for each other.

Many more recent expeditions have attempted to recreate the journey, such as the Tangaroa in 2006, with Heyerdahl's grandson Olaf in the crew.

Naturally the 2012 movie ruined it!  What is this obsession for making every movie scream "Gay people don not exist!"   I know heterosexuals hate us, but still, can't they leave one moment of our childhood alone? 
Thor Heyerdahl was married to women three times, but he wasn't married in 1947, and there was no mooning over half-naked babes.  This was a gay men's adventure, like Donald Duck and his nephews seeking out the Seven Cities of Cibola.

See also: Donald Duck's Double Life.

May 28, 2018

The Tarzan Who Might Have Been

Remember Tarzan, the Ape Man  (1981), the big-budget, big-breasted , Jane-centric Tarzan for the 1980s, featuring it-girl Bo Derek in darkest Africa in the altogether?  She and her producer/director/ husband John Derek wanted a beautiful, sensual Tarzan, someone who looked like he sprang off the cover of a romance novel or is stripping at a "ladies' night out" show.

They interviewed over 100 hopefuls, and had former Tarzan Jock Mahoney comment on their vine-swinging and lion-taming skills, and settled on Lee Canalito.

The 25-year old Lee grew up in Houston, and was on his way to a pro football career before a knee injury had him casting about for another sport.  One day he went to see a friend box in the Golden Gloves, and the boxing bug bit.  He won several Golden Gloves tournaments, then got a trainer, Angelo Dundee (who had also trained with Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard).  He premiered in January 1977 at the Fountainbleu Hotel in Miami.  Knockout in two rounds.

His other bouts in 1977 likewise resulted in knockouts, and gaining the attention of Rocky Sylvester Stallone, who wondered if he had any interest in acting.  He did.

He starred with Stallone and Armand Assante in Paradise Alley (1978), about two brothers in Philadelphia who are dealing with their personal problems while trying to help the third brother (Lee) become a boxer.

Now he was hanging around Los Angeles with Stallone, studying acting and going on auditions.  This was his big break!

But during the filming in Sri Lanka, something happened, and he was sent packing.

For many years fans believed that John Derek caught Bo and Lee rehearsing for the sex scenes. But Ms. Derek insisted that he just wasn't shredded enough.  There was "too much jiggling" as he ran through the jungle; "we wanted him to look like a sculpture."

John explained that he couldn't do the job.  His old knee injury made the vine-swinging and trampoline work impossible.

Shouldn't they have checked on those things before leaving for Sri Lanka?

They were in the midst of filming, so they needed a new Tarzan right away.  Bo called Jocko Mahoney, and he suggested Miles O'Keeffe.

A psychology major at the University of the South who also had dropped out of football due to an injury (a broken hand).  He had done some extra and stand-in work, but this would be his first film role.

He had 24 hours to get to Sri Lanka and start shooting (fortunately, he had no lines to memorize: this Ape Man doesn't speak).

Lee Canalito would star in a few other movies and tv shows over the years, but he mostly concentrated on boxing.  After 21 bouts, 90% resulting in a knockout, he retired undefeated.

He now owns a boxing gym on the south side of Houston, and does after-school fitness and boxing programs for kids.

Missing out on Tarzan doesn't bother him.  It didn't really boost Miles O'Keeffe's career, did it?

See also:Tarzan, the Ape Man

May 27, 2018

More Riverdale Beefcake

The second season of Riverdale has a convoluted plotline about a serial killer named the Black Hood, a sort of Zodiac stalking the town's "sinners," who has a special bond with Betty Cooper.

Plus a drug named Jingle Jangle, which, like all drugs on tv, is the brainchild of a single archvillain, the mysterious Sugarman.

Plus there are increasing tensions with the Southside, which is full of drugs and crime, but not because of economic deprivation (in Riverdale the two social classes are upper-middle and rich).  Because of the machinations of two gangs, the rowdy Southside Serpents and the uber-evil Ghoulies.

Kevin Keller's plot arc involves going cruising at night in the park, in spite of the dangers.  Why doesn't he just go on Grindr?  "Because the guys there aren't real," he explains.  Then he rejects a three-way relationship with Moose and Midge, and starts dating a bad boy, Betty's long-lost brother Chic.

But, like Season 1, the cast is full of beefcake actors who aren't shy about hanging out shirtless.

1. Jordon Connor as a baby-faced Southside Serpent with the unlikely name of Sweet Pea (the Popeye character was actually Swee Pea).

2. Model Tommy Martinez as Malachi, leader or at least spokesman of the Ghoulies.

3. Graham Phillips as Nick St. Clair, one of Veronica's New York buddies -- they used to go clubbing.  Wait, she's 16.  Where were all these clubs she was getting into?

Anyway, he comes for an extended visit,  gets a suite at the Five Seasons, and uses a date rape drug to incapacitate Cheryl Blossom after she's been throwing herself at him all night.  Couldn't he just ask?

4. Mark Brandon as Nick's dad has been a very busy character actor since the 1980s (his first credited role is on Mama's Family in 1983), and wrote a book on Winning Auditions.   He looks very much like the Mark Brandon who posed nude in Advocate Men in 1990.

5. Drew Ray Tanner as Fangs Fogarty, a member of the Southside Serpents (he appears as a bully in the Little Archie series).  He starts dating Kevin.

6. Moses Thiessen (left) as Ben, Miss Grundy's newest jailbait conquest.  They make out during a piano lesson, and then the Black Hood kills her.

7. Spanish actor Stephan Miers as Andre, the Lodges' personal assistant.

8. Hart Denton as Chic, Alice Cooper's long-lost son (maybe), who breezes into town with blackmail on his mind (Betty Cooper's mother is not named in the comics.)  He starts dating Kevin, too.

See also: Riverdale: Archie's Pals and Gals.

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