Apr 13, 2019

Black Summer: The First Days of a Gay-Free Zombie Apocalypse

Do we really need more zombies, after Walking Dead, Fear the Walking Dead, Shaun of the Dead, Juan of the Dead, Zombieland, 28 Weeks Later, after zombie comedies, children's movies, and teen romances?

Probably not, but yesterday I still binge watched Black Summer (2019)  (except for a couple of episodes that looked boring), taking the point of view of someone who has never heard of zombies.

It opens with running.  People running fast through a suburban neighborhood (filmed in Calgary), trying to reach the army trucks that will evacuate them.  Something bad happened several weeks ago, and the world is in chaos,  There are marauders everywhere who will steal your supplies.

Plus when people die, they instantly turn into monsters and attack their companions. The monsters are very fast and impervious to bullets unless you hit them in the head, but they can't open doors.

In the first episode, there are five interconnected stories of survivors running, and when the army trucks leave without them, trying to get to the Stadium, where all of the survivors are gathering.

There is a lot of heterosexist rhetoric: "Do you have a family?"  "I'm a good guy.  I have a family."  "I have to find my wife/daughter/husband/ boyfriend."  And no gay characters or male-male bonding to speak of.  Mostly people interact in boy-girl dyads.

Finally they merge into 2 groups.

Group 1 consists of:
1. Rose (Jaimie King), whose husband monsterized, but her daughter got on the truck.

2. Ryan (Mustafa Alabssi, a deaf Syrian refugee).  His character is apparently not  Syrian. Cop-out!

3. Lance (Kelsey Flower), whose girlfriend monsterized.  He and Ryan have a brief buddy-bonding moment, but then Ryan monsterizes and turns on him.

4. Spears (Justin Chu Cary), who was being held by the army when he killed his guard and escaped.  He actually has taken his guard's name.  He hints that he knows something important, but we never find out what.

At least Justin Chu Cary has some beefcake photos.

Group #1 is trapped in a school where Lord of the Flies kids lure survivors in to play monster-human games (Aiden Fink, left, plays the Head Boy)

Ryan is killed (my favorite character!), and Lance gets separated from the group, leaving...wait for it... Rose and Spears, the same boy-girl dyad we see in every zombie movie ever made.  They'll be falling in lo-ooo-ove soon, I betcha.

Group 2 consists of:
1. Barbara (Gwyneth Walsh), who is separated from her family out west.

2. Velez (Sal Velez), who is also separated from his family out west.

3. Sun (Ooh Kungsun), who speaks only Korean and is separated from her mother.

They get into a car-battle with the occupants of a pick-up truck, resulting in Barbara monsterizing and Velez and Sun...another boy-girl pair...taking refuge in a deserted diner.

They add some new members:
1. Manny (Eddson Morales)
2. Carmen (Erika Hau)
3. Phil (Stafford Perry)

But Phil monsterizes, leaving Manny and Carmen, a third boy-girl dyad.  How much lo--ooo--ove can one zombie series take?

Eventually the groups converge and make it to the Stadium downtown.  There is utter chaos, with survivors shooting monsters and each other everywhere.  Most of the survivors are killed in the fallout.  Only Rose, Sun, and Spears actually make it inside.

The Stadium is deserted. It was not a refuge after all.

But on the bright side, a soldier brings in Rose's daughter.

What?  How did he know?  I mean, she got on a truck with lots of other survivors, who aren't around.  How did....

Beefcake:  None.  No one has time to take anything off.  I did find some beefcake photos of Nathaniel Arcand, who plays Governale in three episodes (I don't know who that is).

Gay characters/subtexts:  None to speak of.

Gay actors: None that I could find.

"I'm looking for my husband/wife":  A lot.

Sigh. When is The Walking Dead coming back?

Apr 12, 2019

Was the Duck Man Gay?

When I was growing up in Rock Island, Disney comics were a mixed bag.  Some stories depicted Donald Duck as a harried urban schlub, taking soul-destroying jobs and being abused by his nattering girlfriend.

Others depicted him as a stalwart adventurer, going off with his Uncle Scrooge and resourceful preteen nephews in search of the Seven Cities of Cibola, the Mines of King Solomon, the lost Crown of Genghis Khan, the golden fleece of Jason and the Argonauts, giving me my first glimpses of many of the twists and turns of our cultural heritage.

It was a rough-and-tumble man-only world, with never an instant of hetero- desire or hint of hetero-romance. Girls did not usually exist at all, and when they did, they were killjoys, waiting back home along with the bank notes and mortgages and all the little miseries and dull dread of "adult" life.  Who wouldn't prefer searching for the Seven Cities of Cibola to shopping for hats with Daisy Duck down at the Bon Ton?

In high school and college I found many more of these "good Duck stories."  Others I read about in comic book guides, dreaming about the wonders they held for those who could fork out hundreds of dollars for the original comics:

"Land of the Totem Poles"
"Trail of the Unicorn"
"In Ancient Persia"
"The Gilded Man"

During the 1980s,  I read most of them in reprints and special editions, and I thought about the "Good Duck Artist."  With his wonderful romanticization of masculine worlds and constant critique of heterosexual romance, surely he was gay!

I knew that his name was Carl Barks,  and he was a Disney studio animator turned comic book artist, but I didn't know anything else about him.  Maybe I didn't want to know anything else.  What if this cherished figure of my childhood was straight, sleeping with ladies while he penned men-only worlds?

Then Barks' successor Don Rosa began to spin a series of epic romance stories featuring Uncle Scrooge in love with Glittering Goldie, a dance hall girl he met while prospecting in the Yukon.

But Goldie appeared in only one canonical story!  I exclaimed. As a villain!  Carl Barks would never envision a hetero-romance!

So I looked into Barks' biography to "prove" that he was gay.

Born in 1901, Barks grew up on the family farm in Oregon, surrounded by rough-and-tumble types: prospectors, loggers, and "well-armed cowboys."

Well-armed, yeah? Nice arms?  Big biceps?  Nudge, nudge, wink,wink.

As a boy Carl  (second from right) was not interested in sports. He preferred reading, music, and art.

Artistic, yeah?  Quiet type, not athletic.  Sort of a milksop?   Nudge, nudge, wink,wink.

At age 17, he moved to San Francisco, where he lived in a residential hotel and found a job as an errand-boy.

Errand boy, yeah? Lots of errands.  Lots of running around. yeah? Lots of guys wanting things done? Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

In 1921, the 20 year old Carl married Pearl Turner.


They had two daughters.

Carl took a variety of jobs, including mule driver and carriage maker, while trying to sell his art.  He published a lot of risque comics in the Calgary Eye-Opener, a Jazz Era "dirty magazine."


After he divorced Pearl in 1929, Carl married Clara Baiken.  That marriage ended in divorce in 1951.  He married Gare Williams, a painter, the following year.  They stayed married until her death in 1993.


He eschewed big cities, preferring the wilderness, ending up in Grants Pass, Oregon.


Well, was he at least gay-friendly?  He lived to be almost 100, long enough to know all about the Gay Rights Movement, support gay people in the military, and maybe even support gay marriage.

Nope.  He was a staunch Republican who "disliked Democrats," a fiscal conservative who wanted things to stay the way they are.  There don't appear to be any specific statements about gay people in his work, but the comic book story The Golden Helmet (1952) contains a homophobic stereotype: when Donald is working as a museum guard, a fluff approaches and asks directions to the "lace and tatting" collection.  Donald bemoans the lack of "he-men" in modern society.

So Donald and company rejected women because they were heterosexual he-men?

And because Barks believed that his audience of preteen boys would not be interested in hetero-romance.


See also: Donald Duck's Double Life; Heterosexualizing My Childhood Hero

The Men of "Bomb Girls"

This is Billy MacLellan from The Silence (2019), a shot obviously not taken from the movie.  He's standing in a lake, pretending to be naked, biceps, chest, and abs on display, holding up a sign with a Canadian maple leaf and the logo: "Keep calm and save bomb girls."

I have no idea what that means,but if it will give me more glimpses of Billy's pecs and abs, I'm all for finding out.

It's a Canadian tv series (2012-2014) about four women working in a bomb factory during World War II.

Sounds dreary, but...

Are there any men?

It looks like each woman gets some: boyfriends, husbands, sons, fiancees who die in the war, or male allies.

Lorna (Meg Tilly), the middle-aged floor manager.  Think Paula on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.

1. Marco (Antonio Cupo, left), who is ostracized by the other factory workers due to being Italian (Canada is at war with Italy).  He begins dating Lorna, which results in a pregnancy and miscarriage.  Later he dates Vera (below), and then he dies.

2. Bob (Peter Outerbridge), Lorna's husband, a disabled World War I Vet.

3. Ned (Gabe Gray), a doctor who starts dating Lorna and Bob's daughter Sheila.

Gladys (Jodi Balfour), the heiress, who can't decide on a beau. Definitely Rebecca on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.

1. Gene (Brett Dier, left), Lorna and Bob's son, who suffers from PTSD due to his war experiences.  Gladys gets engaged to him after one date, even though she's engaged to someone else.

2.James (Sebastian Piggott), Glady's first fiancee, who has an affair with Hazel, gets an STD, and is killed in the war.

3. Clifford Parry (Tamoh Penikett, left), an intelligence officer who dates Gladys after the James-Gene story arc ends.

4.Rollie (James McGowan), Gladys' distant father.

Betty (Ali Liebert) the closeted lesbian.  Maybe Valencia on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (pansexual, but not closeted).

1. Ivan (Michael Seater, left), who dates Betty before she falls for Kate (below).  Afterwards Ivan dates Helen, a Nazi spy (the boy likes women with secrets!).  Then he dates Kate, and finally he is killed in a factory explosion 

2. Karl (Kjartan Hewitt), an escaped German POW who disses Betty for being in the closet.  Well, can you blame her?  This is 1941, after all.  She could lose her job, be institutionalized as a psychopath, and go to prison.

Kate (Charlotte Hegete), the naive, sheltered ingenue (Heather?)

1. Leon (Jim Codrington, left), an African-Canadian worker, who befriends Kate and gives her advice on starting a musical career.

2. Vernon (John Ralston), Kate's dad, an abusive street preacher.  Kate accidentally kills him, but Betty (above) takes the fall. 

Wait -- where does Billy McLellan fit into all of this?  Turns out that there is a fifth Bomb Girl:

Vera (Anastasia Philips), disfigured in an accident and now sleeping around.

1. Harold (Richard Fitzpatrick), the plant supervisor.  Vera sleeps with him to get a job, and gets pregnant.

2. Archie (Billy McLellan), an injured vet who she meets in the hospital.  After two episodes, he commits suicide.

What?  Billy appears in only a few episodes?  He's not even connected to one of the Fab Four?

And the show has no gay men?  A lot of lesbians, apparently, but no gay men?


Apr 11, 2019

The Catholic Fundamentalists

When I was growing up in the Nazarene Church, we yelled.  We jumped up and down.  We raised our hands.  We clapped our hands.  We chanted "Jesus!  Jesus!  Jesus!"

I hated it.  It went against everything in my nature.

Even though Nazarenes were supposed to fear and hate the Roman Catholic Church, I was totally into all things Catholic:  crucifixes, Rosaries, chalices, novenas, solidarities, quiet contemplation of the Divine.

I always go to Mass if I'm near one of the great cathedrals of Europe.   Who wouldn't jump at the chance to pray and meditate in a setting like this?

So I was dismayed to see a guy at the gym wearing a t-shirt for the "Divine Mercy Youth Evangelization Team."  "Divine Mercy" sounds Catholic, but "evangelization" is what evangelical Christians do.

Turns out that YET (national organization NET), open to all confirmed teens (the equivalent of evangelical "saved"), is dedicated to "making disciples of the whole world."

(It's very hard to get photos of the guys, as every "evangelization team" seems to be arranged in boy-girl order. I have to crop a representative out.)

They have retreats, neighborhood missions, door to door evangelization, events in public parks, days of recollection, and Pro Life seminars.

The Nazarenes, Pentecostals, Mormons, and Jehovah's Witnesses are already knocking on your door. Make way for the Catholics?

But...but...in Roman Catholicism, salvation lies in the sacraments, in the mystery of the Eucharist, not in getting "right with God." Doesn't it?

Well, doesn't it?


They kneel to get right with God.

But...but...that's what Confession is for, isn't it?

They read the Bible, not The Little Flowers of St. Francis.

They testify about being persecuted for their pro-life views, just like Nazarenes testified about being persecuted for our refusal to go to movies or dances.

They talk about Jesus.  A lot.

This was part of a boy-girl-boy-girl photo spelling out "Jesus" in t-shirts.

Whatever happened to the Immaculate Conception of Mary Mother of God?

This looks like one of the weird games Nazarene youth played because they weren't allowed to go to movies, dance, listen to rock music, or play any game involving dice.

But...Catholics can do all of those things.

We had "abundant life ministries," and sang "if you want life, real life, wonderful life, let Jesus come into your heart."

Except we didn't illustrate the concept with a real human heart.

They raise their hands to indicate that they've been filled with the Spirit.

Where there is evangelicalism, there is homophobia, so as the Roman Catholics turn into Nazarenes, I predict that they will become increasingly ravenous in their anti-gay ideology.

Whose bright idea was it to turn Roman Catholics into Nazarenes, anyway?

And, in this brave new world, where do you go for quiet contemplation of the Divine?

Apr 10, 2019

Pallance Dladla: Biceps,Bulge,Gay Character, and Braggadocio

Of course I'm going to watch Shadow (2019), an action-adventure tv series from South Africa, set in Johannesburg, where half the cast speaks Zulu half the time.  You've got to love those Zulu names: Zekheteholo Zondi; Didimalang Moagi; Bhekisizwe Mahlawe;Thembalethu Ntuli.

Especially when it star the biceps of Pallance Dladla (left).

Until I discover that it is a rehash of all of the cliches of the Marvel tv universe: a brooding vigilante with a tortured past (probably a dead wife) and a trivial superpower that's not really necessary  (the plot could function perfectly well without it).

In this case, brooding vigilante Shadow (Pallance Dladla), recovering from his tortured past, is living with his wheelchair-bound sister and their boarder, no doubt his future girlfriend.  His superpower:  he's impervious to pain.

Wait -- wouldn't that be a disability?  Don't we need pain to tell us that our bodies are injured?  How else would you know that something needs fixing?

Shadow has a buddy, Max (Khathu Ramabulana), so there might be some gay subtexts, but I'm not going to stick around to find out.

I am, however, going to research  Pallance Dladla's biceps and bulge.

According to his offical website, Pallance was born in 1992 in Soweto.  While attending the Parkland Boys High School, he won "Best Actor" and "Best Original Script."

Bragging much?

In 2011 he appeared on the tv talent show Class Act, where "He reached the finals and earned worldwide acclaim for hisincredible performances." 

Oh, don't be so modest.  When you have muscles, you don't need to know how to act.

Pallance's credits include

4Play: Sex Tips for Girls (2010), a sort of South African Sex in the City. He played Jimmy in one episode. In 2010 he was barely 18, so I'm wondering if he was qualified to give any of those sex tips.

Wild at Heart (2012), a long-running British series about a veterinarian and his family running a game preserve in South Africa..  He plays Mohato in one episode.

Avenged (2013), a crime drama.  He plays a character far down in the cast list.

Intersextions (2013), a tv series that examines "life, love, and relationships).  Pallance plays a gay man, and gets an on-screen kiss.

Afterwards many fans thought he was gay. He said "I didn't know how to handle that,but I tried to make it clear that I wasn't gay without being rude."

Hard to Get (2014), a romance about a young man from the townships who falls in love with a gangster's girlfriend and travels to Johannesburg to rescue his stolen car. That's what the plot synopsis says.

The Message (2015). A special-ops team is sent to save Soweto from a nuclear threat.  Their names are Reaper, Mother, Crowbar, Sideshow, Zinzi, and Joker (Pallance).  Please tell me that this is a comedy.

Tempy Pushas (2015).  A soap opera about jealousy, greed, and revenge in the multi-million rand South African fashion business.  Pallance plays X in one episode.

To be fair, Pallance didn't write this heterosexist "every woman's fantasy" tripe, but he did ask for comments on Facebook. 300 agreed, one said "unless they're lesbians," and another said "Even straight guys go crazy ove X's body."

Is'Thunzi (2016), a South African teen drama about a girl with big dreams.  He's not on the cast list.

Madiba (2017), a mini-series about the life of Nelson Mandela.  He's not on the cast list, but he says he played someone named Tokyo.

Zulu Wedding (2017).  Feisty choreographer is engaged to an American named Tex, but still feels compelled to go home to South Africa,where she is engaged to a king. Zulu (Pallance) plays the palace guard who she falls in love with.

This ad makes it look like Zulu falls in love with Tex.

She also has a gay best friend, by the way.

Apr 9, 2019

Shtisel: A Lot of Haredi Men Find Love

The Haredim are ultra-Orthodox, the Nazarenes of the Jewish world:no tv, no movies, no secular books, no internet. They wear untrimmed earlocks and Russian hats. Men and women are strictly segregated outside the family, and of course gay people must never be mentioned.

They disapprove of the state of Israel, since only the Messiah can restore the sacred land.

They disapprove of speaking Hebrew, too; the language of the Torah, used to discuss laundry?   But who in Israel still speaks Yiddish? (Actually, 2% of the population, mostly the elderly and the Haredim).

The Israeli tv series Shtisel (2013-), now streaming on Netflix, pits the elderly, traditional Shulem Shtisel (Dova’le Glickman) against his grown son, the quiet,artistic Asher Lev...um, I mean Akiva (Michael Aloni), who is still ultra-Orthodox but doesn't mind fraternizing with the outside world.   They live together in the Haredi neighborhood of Geula, Jerusalem, and teach at a Yeshiva school.

I started to watch because who could say no to hearing actors speak Hebrew and Yiddish?  Also Michael Aloni starred in Out in the Dark (2012), about a gay romance between an Israeli lawyer and a Palestinian student, and Zohar Schtrauss, who plays Lipa (Akiva's brother-in-law), starred in Eyes Wide Open (2009), about a married Orthodox man who falls in love with his male apprentice. Surely there would be gay characters.   Maybe quiet, artistic Akiva,who keeps rejecting offers of arranged marriage, would turn out to be gay.

Nope, he's straight.

No gay people in the series.  Indeed, it is obsessed with marriage. Akiva courts Elisheva, eventually marries her, then falls in love with his cousin Libbi, and gets a divorce so he can marry her.

His sister Gitti, abandoned by her husband  Lipa, starts to date.

Her daughter Ruchami starts to date a yeshiva boy, Hanina  (Yoav Rotman, left).

Even the elderly Shulem starts to date, and eventually marries.

The series is also obsessed with death.  Akiva talks to his dead mother, who tells him that the afterlife is "cold." Shulem talks to his dead wife, visits his dying mother, and talks to her after she dies.  Many scenes are set in an assisted living facility, where the ladies all wear caps, so they all look like they're dying of cancer.

After the first scene of dying people, I turned the depressing mess off. 

I fast-forwarded through a few more episodes, to see if there were two men together sharing moments that might indicate a gay subtext.

No such luck. Shulem and Akiva are surrounded by women in their private lives (sisters, wives, mothers, elderly dying relations).   Akiva has a posse, but it seems to be devoted to talking about girls.

Nor could I find any beefcake.  They aren't even shown taking ceremonial baths.

The last thing I need is a tv show that's depressing AND has no beefcake. 

Even if it is in Hebrew and Yiddish.

I rate it an F

Apr 8, 2019

The "Krypton" tv series: As Heavy as Kryptonite

In Superman's first appearance (Action Comics #1, 1938), we first heard that the Man of Steel came  from the planet Krypton (named after an element on the Periodic Table) just before it blew up.

Through the years of the Golden and Silver Age, we learned a few more details, and occasionally visited, but not often.   Krypton remained a shadowy, mysterious place, where extremely muscular people in capes lived in stark white crystal palaces under a red sky, and were named after the Hebrew word for God.  It was a dream world.  It was Heaven.

The new tv series Krypton (2018-) is set in Heaven.

Except it's a horrifying dystopian society.  No crystal palaces, no capes. And it stars Superman's grandfather.


Actually, it starts with Superman's great-great grandfather Val-El, who is executed for treason under Magistrate Daron-Vex.  His son, daughter-in-law, and grandson Seg-El (Cameron Cuffe, top photo) are banished.  Later Daron-Vex decides to marry off his daughter to Seg-El, which will allow him to return to the ranks of the aristocrats.

Meanwhile Seg-El meets Adam Strange  (Shaun Sipos, left), a time-traveler from Earth, who tells him to find the Fortress. He means Superman's Fortress of Solitude  (wait -- wasn't that on Earth), where Seg-El finds his grandfather's research indicating that an alien from the future will threaten the planet.

At ths point I'd be looking askance at Adam, but Grandpa means another alien, Braniac (Blake Ritson, below).

The High Council also wants to know about this research, and interrogates Seg-El's parents about it.  They are killed,leaving Seg-El and Adam on the run from the law.  Fortunately, Seg-El's buddy, comic-relief bartender Kem (Rasmus Hardiker) is willing to hide them.

Whew.  And that's just the first episode.

It gets murkier and murkier.  Seg-El and his Scoobies (including his girlfriend Lyta and a hologram of his grandfather) work on finding Braniac (who is wandering around Krypton inhabiting people) and form an alliance with future villain General Zod, who happens to be Seg's son from the future (not Jor-El). Meanwhile the Black Zero Terrorists, the Vox Conspiracy, and who knows what else have problems of their own.

The end game is making sure that Seg marries the right woman and gives birth to Jor-El, who will give birth to Superman, who will save Krypton...um, I mean go to another world after Krypton is destroyed.

I just got through one episode.   There is a nice Seg-Adam gay subtext, and according to Shaun Sipos, Episode #6  contains a hint that Adam is bisexual in order to "ruffle some feathers," 

In 2018, do you really need to hint around?  And why will a bisexual character upset people?  We've had plenty of gay ones.

I'm not waiting around to find out.  The mythology is too hefty to bear.


Apr 7, 2019

Rodzinka.pl: Poland's Answer to "My Three Sons"

It's always fun to investigate a tv show from outside the U.S.,  You find interviews, photographs, award shows, articles, a whole world of pop culture that you've been completely oblivious to. Like the Polish nuclear family sitcom Rodzinka.pl.   2011-, 200 episodes to date, many available on Daily Motion and Youtube

Based on the French Canadian Les parent, it stars Małgorzata Kożuchowska as Natalia, a women's magazine publisher, and Tomasz Karolak  as Ludwik, an architect  who works from home and takes care of the kids:  16-year old Tomek ( Maciej Musiał, left ), 11-year old Kuba ( Adam Zdrójkowski, below, now 18), and 8-year old Kacper ( Mateusz Pawłowski ).

Episode titles are rather evocative, but that may be due to translation problems:
"An Abnormally Normal Family"
"Fighting Addiction"
"Cute Teenagers"
Youth Does Not Know Fear
You Brewed the Beer, Now Drink It
About Love and Cold Water
Winter, It's You
Do You Play in the Salon?

Others in the cast are:
1.  Marek (Jacek Braciak), the sardonic neighbor.

2-4. Filip (Adam Sikora), Antek (Witold Susuki), and Bartek (Filip Chiniewicz), Kacper's friends.

5.-6. Bolo (Daniel Diziorek, left) and Maciek (Jan Raubo), Tomek's friends.

There appears to be a lot of beefcake:  swimming, vacationing, getting out of bed, and miscellaneous nudity.

Searching for "gay" with the series reveals some individual episodes, but I don't know what they mean.

That's the only problem.  After all this research, I won't be able to actually watch it without a Polish translator.
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