Jul 6, 2019

The Top 10 Hunks of "Stranger Things," Season 3, Plus Some of the Plot

The tv series Stranger Things, now in its third season, is an homage to 1980s Goonies movies, with monster-fighting kids in stereotypic small-town Indiana. I watched some of the first season, but couldn't figure out what was going on -- it was a mishmash of psychic powers, alternate worlds, missing children, and parents with histrionic backstories.

So I am starting Season 3, Episode 1 fresh,  mostly looking for gay characters and beefcake, but also trying, once again, to figure out the painfully interrelated characters and endless back stories in this monsterized Peyton Place.

Prelude: A top-secret underground lab in the old Soviet Union, where scientists are trying to break on through to the other side.  When they finally manage to blast a crack in the wall, something slithery and horrible comes out and kills them, then goes back in.  The experiment was a failure.  "You have one year!" Colonel Klink growls.

1. In stereotypic small-town Indiana, Sheriff Hopper (David Harbour, top photo) is annoyed about his daughter and another girl kissing.

A lesbian couple!  Score! When they pull back, I find that they're not lesbians after all, but it's still cool that they're so gender-atypical.  The more masculine one is the girl, El (Millie Bobby Brown), and the more feminine one is:

2. Mike (Finn Wolfhard).

Great name, although he looks less like a Wolf Hard than anyone I can imagine.

Sheriff Harper doesn't want his masculine daughter having sex with a feminine boy, or anyone, for that matter, so he asks advice of Joyce (Wynona Ryder), his old girlfriend, who runs a local drug store that has fallen on bad times since the opening of the mall.

Joyce suggests a heart-to-heart talk; but when the Sheriff tries the talk, the teens laugh at him, so he drags Mike out to his truck and threatens to kill him.

3. Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) is at the new mall with his girlfriend Max and another feminine boy, Will (who looks like Mike's brother but isn't).  Finally Mike and El show up, apologizing for being late -- the sex took longer than they expected.

They are sneaked into the movie Day of the Dead by:

4. Steve (Joe Keery), the ex-boyfriend of Nancy (Mike's older sister), who works at a horrible ice cream place in the mall.

Afterwards Steve tries to pick up every female customer in sight, but usually fails.  His coworker Robin is keeping a tally (spoiler alert: Robin turns out to be a lesbian.)

By the way, Nancy (Steve's ex, Mike's older sister) is now dating:

5. Jonathan (Charlie Heaton), the older  brother of the androgynous Will, who was waiting at the mall with Lucas and Max.

Both Jonathan and Will, by the way, are sons of Joyce, the ex-girlfriend of Sheriff Hopper who works at the drugstore downtown.

Jonathan sneaks Nancy (Mike's older sister) out of the bedroom, and she goes to work at a horrible job bringing hamburgers to the local newspaper staff and having them make fun of her ideas.

Turns out that Mom Joyce is aware of Jonathan's sexploits, and fully approves.  His heterosexuality established, she turns her attention to:

6. Will (Noah Schnapp). the androgynous boy who looks like Mike's brother but isn't.  "You'll meet a girl someday, yada yada yada."

 "I'm not gonna fall in love!" he exclaims.  So he's either asexual/ aromantic, or he means "with a girl," and he's gay.

Spoiler alert: later on, during a fight, Mike exclaims that Will doesn't like girls, and he gets all upset.  But he doesn't express any interest in boys or girls this season.  Maybe the writers are ok with lesbians but skittish about gay men.

After Joyce's "what girl do you like?" interrogation, Will meets up with his friends (El, Mike, Max, and Lucas), where they use El's magical powers to arrange a welcome-home surprise party for:

7. Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), who has been away at summer camp. He got a girlfriend there, so instead of doing something fun, he insists that they all trek to a mountaintop to install a makeshift radio tower, so he can call her via short wave (what, no telephones in Utah?)

There's no answer.  They hang out all afternoon, abandoning him one by one, until he's all alone.  Then finally he gets a message -- but it's in Russian!

Call back to the first scene.  He's getting transmissions from the Soviet lab where they had "one year" to break through to wherever the slithery thing is from.

8. That night, Joyce, having rejected Sheriff Hopper's dinner invitation, is eating microwaved lasagna and peas and watching Cheers.  All of a sudden Sean Astin is sitting next to her, laughing at Cheers and asking whether  Sam and Diane (the "will they or won't they" couple) will ever get together.  Apparently this is a metaphor for Joyce, who has been rejecting Sheriff Hopper for quite some time.  But I have no idea what Sean Astin was doing there.

9. Billy Hargrove (Dacre Montgomery), the older brother of Max (one of Mike's friends, the girl who is dating Caleb) works as a lifeguard, where lots of middle-aged women are lusting after him.

He tries to pick up Karen Wheeler, the mother of Nancy and Mike.  Initially she resists, probably due to his horrible 1980s double-entendre talk: "I could give you a...private lesson...I know some...moves...the breast stroke...."  But then she agrees. That night she gets dolled up, and leaves her husband and youngest child asleep on the couch to head out for her hookup.

On the way to the hookup, Billy hits something slithery that drags him into an old abandoned iron mill.  Call back to the Russian blasting experiment?

That's all for this episode, but see how nicely everyone is interconnected?

10. To get to 10, I had to go to Episode 2, where Grigori (Andrey Ivchenko) shows up, a Russian agent assigned to beat up Sheriff Hopper and otherwise cause mischief.

I don't think I'll be watching.

My grade: B for the gender-atypical and queer characters, D for the plot.

Jul 5, 2019

"Revenge of Wonderland": Run Far, Far Away

I'm a sucker for all renditions of Alice in Wonderland, especially those that try to create a coherent fantasy world from Lewis Carroll's disjointed dream-journeys through the looking glass.  So when Comixology recommended Revenge of Wonderland, I immediately said "Ok, let's see a plot synopsis."

It's been a long time since Alice Liddle's daughter Callie escaped the twisted world that her mother was pulled into many years ago.  But the insanity of Wonderland has returned, and this time around things are much more dangerous and horrifying than ever before.  

Alice Liddell Hargreaves, the inspiration behind Alice in Wonderland, was born in 1852, so any daughter of hers would be 120 at the youngest.

And, in the comic book, Alice is Lewis Carroll's daughter. Nope, she was the daughter of Dean Henry Liddell, Carroll's colleague at Oxford, and his...um...girlfriend or fantasy girlfriend.  So I'm already not happy.

But I still buy the book.  I still want to know about this rendition of Wonderland.

Boobs.  Women's breasts everywhere.  Closeups.  Filling entire panels.  Women otherwise reclining in slinky catwoman costumes, their long, shapely legs in the air.  Butts and breasts and thighs and legs.  God help me, I'm in a 1940s pinup.

Help!  I need masculinity, stat!  I don't care who or what, tattoos, rings, weird beards, whatever, just get me a chest with pecs!

Whew, that's better.  Ok, I'm ready to continue.

There are four main sets of boobs:
1. The boobs belonging to Callie, Alice Liddell's daughter, rate the cover of Time magazine because she's a bestselling author (who apparently thought she was going to a photo shoot for Playboy). Her stories are all about Wonderland.  Fans have no idea that they're real.

2. The boobs belonging to Violet, Callie's daughter, who is trying to get her mother to admit that Wonderland is real.

The only male character who gets more than a tenth of a panel is Benny, who works with Violet's boobs at the auto garage. She comes the rescue when he is being harassed by some bullies for being mentally disabled.  But after two pages, he vanishes, and it's more boobs, boobs, boobs.

I'm not going to be able to make it.  More lady parts than I've ever seen in my life, filling every panel.  I'm going to be sick.  More beefcake, now!

This photo contains 21 penises (some are hidden, but I know that they are there).  Just keep thinking about the penises.

Right, I was going through a rundown of the main boobs...um, I mean characters.  Callie's, Violet's, and...

3. The boobs belonging to a girl who suspects their secret, and is trying her hardest to find a way into Wonderland while wearing underwear.  She eventually gets there.

4. The boobs belonging to the White Queen, who is kidnapping people from our world to turn into her slaves, after modifying them to have no eyes or mouths.  So they can't look at her boobs?

Ok, that's it.  I've gotten through the entire disgusting volume, including the last 20 pages, devoted to pin-up pictures of the 4 main sets of boobs.

We never did get to Wonderland.

One more penis to tide me over, and then I need a shower. 

Who's responsible for this travesty?

Art by Allen Otero, who has drawn a lot of other boob comics.  He lives in Acapulco, Mexico.  When he's not drawing boobs, he's posting memes of Bible verses.

So he's doing the Lord's work? Of course, I look at a hundred penises before breakfast...but it's not my life's work.

I also found a quote about how you should be allowed to try to change your "sexual preference" if you want to.  Why should we assume that you're stuck?  Why not give people hope?

Allen has a wife and six daughters, no sons.  I imagine he's never seen a penis before, not even his own.

Now about that shower...

Jul 4, 2019

10 Things You Should Know about Dylan Koroll

1. At the age of 17, he won the grand prize for modeling at the World Championship of the Performing Arts, an annual competition for aspiring singers, actors, models, and so on.  It draws performers from 60 countries and gives out millions of dollars in scholarships as prizes.

2. He's currently rated #9 of the top 10 models, and #4 of the top male models, represented by the Sutherland Agency in Toronto.  I especially like their link "Click here for package."  It wasn't the package I was expecting, though.

3. In his day job, he runs a construction company in Calgary.  He has also studied motorcycle repair.

4. His biggest acting credit is a 5-episode run as Hardy Champ, the sister's boyfriend on Wynonna Earp, until she dumps him for a girl.  His tumblr states that he hates the character of Champ: "he wanted to do something with his life, but he failed, and now he's just given up."

5. He also had a guest spot as "Cool Guy" on Young Drunk Punk, a semi-autobiographical series about Bruce McCulloch (Kids in the Hall) growing up in Calgary in the 1980s.

6. In Gavin Crawford's Wild Wild West, a mockumentary in which Gavin Crawford plays six eccentric Calgary residents, one of his characters is a gay cattle rancher who wants to open a dude ranch with his husband.  Dylan plays someone named Damien.

7. He's gotten considerably inked of late, considerably reducing his attractiveness.  But his body, his rules.

8. Dylan's only other film credit is the short Heartland.  I found a copy on director Brian Paccione's website, but I don't know what it's about.  People dressed in circus sideshow costumes chase each other through woods.

9. Heartland is also the title of a short film about a gay man who returns from the City to the Heartland to help out his ailing dad and cruise the farmboys.

10. His facebook page has a photo of him posing with a woman and child with his last name, so he might not be gay. But another photo shows him in tandem with these two hunkoids, so you never know.

Jul 3, 2019

Should I Skip or Stream "Wynonna Earp"?

Wynonna Earp has been showing up on my Netflix feed with an 86% match.  Should I stream it or skip it?

Con: My first instinct: run far, far away.  I hate Westerns, and I certainly don't want to watch a female version of Wyatt Earp gun-slinging down some fake dusty Wild West backlot.

Pro:  Wynonna (Melanie Scrofano) is a modern-day paranormal investigator, no connection to the Wild West (except she's Wyatt Earp's great-great-granddaughter)

Wow.  The title and central characters are so completely misleading that they must have been created on purpose, to draw in Western fans.  But doesn't it scare away all of the fans of paranormal investigation?

Con: Oh, this is still a Western.  Wynonna lives in the modern-Wild West town of Purgatory, where the bars have antler-heads and people still wear cowboy hats.  And she has a six-shooter, a special legacy from her ancestor that allows her to hunt down Revenants, escapees from Hell, and send them back where they came from.

Fortunately, the Revenants can't go farther than the area around Purgatory, called the Ghost River Triangle.

Unfortunately, they are adept at masquerading as humans, and highly organized, with a leader unfortunately named Bobo (Michael Eklund).  You can tell he's evil because of his unfortunate beard and androgynous mannerisms.  Yet another trans villain?

Con: The writers seem to be getting their character names from old John Wayne movies: Shorty, Carl, Red, Hetty, Tug, Skip, Drek

I also find Eve, Abel, and Jesus, but maybe they aren't the Biblical characters.

Speaking of names, what's with the extra "n" on Wynonna? I have to check the spelling every time.  It just doesn't look right.

Pro:  According to the plot summary on Wikipedia, the  mythology gets curioser and curioser.  Everybody has a tragic backstory, and no one is who they seem.

I like complex mythologies, as long as they don't get too ridiculous, like on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, where each season had a much-worse-than-before, Apocalyptic Big Bad.

Wynonna joins a top-secret paranormal-hunting government agency, and gathers up a group of scoobies:

1. Doc Holiday (Tim Rozon), the partner of her great-great-great grandfather, who didn't die of tuberculosis in 1887; he's still alive and kicking and looks about 30.

2. Waverly, Wynonna's sister (name too long to copy).  Well, actually half-sister.  They share a mother, but Waverly's father was an angel named Julian (yes, angels can reproduce).

3. Xavier Dolls (Shamier Anderson), the head of her unit.

4. Purgatory Sheriff Nicole (Katherine Barrell), who starts dating Waverly.

Pro: Ok, a lesbian relationship among the major characters, and they don't even wait until season 8.  That's a plus for inclusivity, but I wish there were some gay guys, too.

Pro: Score!  Jeremy Chetri (Varun Saranga), the Black Badge Unit's Lab Technician, is gay (and dating Agent Dolls?).  He's introduced in the second season.  In Season 3 he gets a boyfriend, Robin Jett (Justin Kelly, below).

Con: The show seems a bit beefcake-deprived.  Of the first 10 actors listed on imdb, 4 are women, 2 have weird beards, and 1 is grizzled.  That leaves Agent Dolls, Jeremy Chetri, and Daniel Onerheim as Paramedic (can't find a photo).

Farther down the list, we find Justin Kelly (6 episodes) and Dylan Koroll (top photo) as Hardy Champ, the boyfriend of Wynonna's sister Waverly before she starts dating Nicole.

So we have 4 Pro, 4 Con.  I need a deal-maker or deal-breaker.

I fast-forwarded through Episode 6: "Agent Dolls' secret comes out when he joins forces with Wynonna to find the Blacksmith, and encounters a family with a voracious appetite."

The Canadian Rockies in winter.  Cowboy hats, fringed leather jackets.  This is a Western.  Doc Holiday has apparently not changed with the times, ma'ama.  Wynonna wishes she could be a girl, buy lip gloss and wear flirty skirts.  Apparently she hasn't changed with the times, either.

Con.  Skip it.

Jul 1, 2019

"What We Do in Shadows": Everyone is Queer

What We Do in Shadows (2019) sounds like closeted gay men, who used to be called "shadow people."  It's actually about vampires, but aren't they sort of the same thing.  The vampire has always had a tinge of queerness, from the androgynous count Dracula through tortured femme Barnabas Collins to the pansexual gay-dad Lestat.

This iteration is a sort of Real World mockumentary about four vampires sharing a house on Staten Island.

1. Austere Nandor (Keyvan Novak, left), the oldest of the group, has been around since the days of Vlad the Impaler. 

2. and 3. Chubby aesthete Lazlo (Matt Berry, left) is devotee of the pleasures  of the flesh.  He has starred in thousands of porn movies, and enjoys pruning bushes into lady parts.  He is married to Nadja (Natasha Demetriou), but they both seek out other lovers. 

Nadja, for instance, turns Jenna (Beanie Feldstein) during a lesbian encounter, and is having an affair with Jeff (Jake McDorman), a reincarnation of a former lover.

4. Colin (Mark Proksch), an "energy vampire," feeds on the annoyance of humans.  So he has a cubicle-job, where he can annoy his coworkers with inane conversations.

5. Guillermo (Harvey GuillĂ©n, right, with boyfriend), Nandor's human "familiar" (slave, servant, apprentice).  He usually gets ignored or rejected, and then goes to his room to pout (think Willie Loomis to Barnabas). 

The humor comes from vampires engaging in modern urban activities like planning parties and going to nightclubs,with some plotlines about negotiating with enemies, forming alliances, and dealing with the Vampire Council.

The delivery is very understated, deadpan, with a lot of improv, which I find a bit dull.  Maybe, like, hire some writers to actually write some dialogue?

But on the bright side, everyone on the show is unreflectively pansexual; they don't seem to even be aware of the existence of sexual orientations.  For instance, Nandor orders Guillermo to invite his virgin friend Jeremy (James Dwyer) to the upcoming orgy to be eaten (virgin (infinitely attractive to vampires).  Guillermo tries to make Nandor think that Jeremy is not a virgin by discussing his "girlfriend," marking him as heterosexual.  But when Jeremy comes to the party anyway, he has energetic anal sex with a man. "This is a great party!" he exclaims. 

Well, not a great party, but a pretty good one.

My grade: B. 

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