Jul 3, 2020
Back in 1991, I bought the 50th Anniversary Edition
I was five years old when the 25th Anniversary Edition was published in 1966 (I bought it much later).
When I was a kid, I loved the Disney Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge titles, with the ducks adventuring in exotic locales, in search of the Mines of King Solomon or the lost crown of Genghis Khan.
There was always a Duck cover, and the first story starred Donald Duck, but it was a slapstick comedy, not an adventure.
1. The Little Bad Wolf, a "Casper the Friendly Ghost" who butted heads with his single father, Zeke, aka the Big Bad Wolf from The Three Little Pigs (1933). Neither father nor son expressed any interest in girls, so that was a glimmer of gay subtext, anyway. But also:
2. The patois-speaking Indian Little Hiawatha,who apparently starred in some cartoons in the 1930s. f Offensive even for a 10 year old in 1971
3. Jiminy Cricket from Pinocchio (1940). Who?
4. Scamp, the son of the two dogs who got together in Lady and the Tramp (1955). He was rascally, adventurous, a gender-stereotyped "boy," with sisters who were gender-stereotyped sissy "girls." Offensive even for a 10-year old in 1971.
6. But the worst was the last feature, a serial by artist Paul Murray (1911-1989) that paired Mickey Mouse and Goofy.
They were usually detectives trying to solve a crime with science fiction elements, though there were also outer-space and historical stories.
The problem was, I never could read a serial straight through. Buying comic books was always a gamble, based on what Schneider's Drug Store stocked, what was left by the time I got there, and how much money I had. There was never an opportunity to buy the same title several months in a row, so instead I always arrived in media res, or in time for "the ghost was really your disgruntled assistant" Scooby wrap-up.
November 1968: "The River Pirates," Part 3.
March 1969: "The Secret of Shipnabber's Cove," Part 1.
September 1970: "The Sign of the Scorpion," Part 1
February 1971: "The Mystery of the Counterfeit Masters," Part 3
September 1971: "The Viking Stone Mystery," Part 3
July 1972: "Message in a Nutshell," Part 3
April 1973: "The Case of the Talking Tooth," Part 3.
But I never made the leap. Goofy was too tall, gawky, and dopey to be a fantasy romantic partner when I could get Tarzan, Johnny Quest, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., David Cassidy, Peter Brady....
Jul 2, 2020
Sounds like one of those gay-themed web series, with musclemen posing in bulging spandex superhero drag. Especially when I look at the episode synopses:
"Scarlet Steele moves into the building" A drag queen?
"Kal and Scarlet get naked." Gay guy dating a drag queen?
"Out of the Closet" Nuff said.
"Dicky Lox has a plan to market Kal's penis bulge." Definitely 'nuff said.
Prologue: Idealistic young Fred gets off a London double-decker bus -- in Las Vegas. He's supposed to meet his brother Kal, but "The Director" picks him up instead.
Scene 1: This is a mockumentary. Kal explains why he couldn't pick his brother up: he was dressed as Superman (nice bulge), and had to help a little boy find his father.
Scene 2: Comic book flashback to "Down Under"(Kansas). the last time Kal and Fred saw each other. It's Fred's birthday, so he gets a singing kangaroo. Kal just broke up with C.K (Clark Kent?)., so he's moving to Las Vegas.
Whoops, C.K. is a girl. Kal is straight.
Scene 3: Kal's apartment. Ben is filming everything for the mockumentary. The brothes Kal and Fred reunite, and then Kal faints -- an allergic reaction to the cat hair in Fred's bag.
Fred is straight, too? WTF?
Ben is still filming everything. Is Ben gay? He's the only cast member left/
Scene 5: Comic book flashback to high school, where Kal is in lo-oo-ove with C.K.
Scene 6: Kal's apartment. He explains that he is a professional Superman impersonator, and he wants Fred to join the "family business," playing Spiderman.
Scene 7: Switch to Kal at work, being Superman in a sombrero for National Nacho Day. Wow, racist! A Mafioso named Deniro Guy tries to get him to sign on, offering him Wolverine, Captain America, and Thor gigs, but he refuses.
Scene 8: Fred doesn't want to do Spiderman because...well, because it's insane. He storms off.
Scene 9: Ben interviews Fred over the closing credits. Flashback to Fred playing a talking kangaroo at a Down Under-themed restaurant, where he terrorizes a small child. The end.
Wait -- the plot synopsis says that Ben saves a life and Kal makes the ultimate sacrifice for his brother. Did I miss those parts....
Ok, I'm watching Episode 4: "Out of the Closet." One of these guys better be coming out of the closet, or I'll be mad.
Scene 1: Ominous music. Fred finds a secret room in Kal's apartment. A shrine to his relationship with his ex-girlfriend.
The director is called Reggie,but in the IMDB, the Reggie character is played by Arthur Loring. This guy is obviously Melvin Fowler, listed as Wayne in the IMBD.
Scene 3: An operator is selling "original, fake Superman symbols" on the sidewalk. Reggie/Wayne the Director approaches him: "I'm looking for a man."
Operator protests: "I'm not into that gay shit yet. I've been taking these classes." How to Be into Gay Shit 101?
Reggie/Wayne explains: "I'm looking for a specific man named Tim Broderick, an old friend to spend the holiday with. Totally not gay."
Scene 4: At the apartment, Fred is criticizing Kal's hair regiment. They discuss Kal's crush on next-door-neighbor Scarlett.
Scene 5: Fred as Spiderman takes a break at the comic book store. He and Katie, the proprietor, discuss fixing Kal up with Scarlett, so he will get over his creepy obsession with his ex. They will all have dinner that night.
Scene 7: Dinner with Scarlett, Katie, and the two brothers.
Scene 8: Tim the Homeless Guy awakens, tied to a chair, as Reggie/Wayne helps him through withdrawal. They discuss Reggie/Wayne's kidnapped son.
Wait -- so Reggie isn't gay for real? Then who the heck is coming out of the closet?\
Who the heck decided to make a gay-themed tv series with no gay characters?
Mark-Paul Gosselaar, rent or stream Dead Man on Campus (1998). It's a dark comedy about two college students, Cooper (Mark) and Josh (Tom Everett Scott) who attempt to cash in on the urban legend that when your roommate dies,you get automatic A's for the semester.
Some beefcake, lots of shirtless shots, and check out the scene where Josh is in his dorm room, trying to get some sleep, when Cooper brings a girl home and jumps in bed with her. The camera is focused on the consternation of the roommate, but if you look carefully in the top right of the screen, you can see Mark Paul Gosselaer rising to the occasion.
And you get two cute guys, a strong homoerotic subtext, and almost none of the casual homophobia endemic in buddy comedies. What's not to like?
Jul 1, 2020
Scene 1: Surprise! We don't begin with close-ups of a naked babe! Hannah, dressed like a fairytale Snow White, is running through the icy wilderness of northern Finland, hunting reindeer and being trained in ninja killing techniques by her father, Erik (Eric Bana, left) Not Prince Erik? Then they sit by the fire in their hut, while Erik reads to her from a book of weird trivia. There's a montage, with the two of various ages.
Scene 2: Cut to a super-secret lab, where the Evil Queen ..er,, I mean Head Spy Marissa gives us a Plot Dump: Erik was an American agent who went rogue and vanished, with the state secrets of every country in Europe. Oh, and he killed his girlfriend and stole her infant daughter. Wait -- so Erik is an evil kidnapper? Or is he the Huntsman in Snow White?
Scene 3: The American agency sends men with guns and weird death's-head masks to shoot up the hut and capture Hannah. Erik runs away (way to abandon your adopted daughter/kidnapping victim, dude).
Scene 4: Hannah awakens in a scary underground facility, kills some guards with an eyelash and a paperclip, and escapes through a hatch -- into the desert! (I don't think we're in Finland anymore, Dorothy.) She walks away, with no food, water, or shelter.
Suddenly she encounters two English kids on a caravan (camping holiday): the 10-year old Miles and the teenage Sofia, who tries to flirt with her ("I think I'd like to be a lesbian, and date you, but then marry a man"). Erik has not taught Hannah any social skills, so all she can do is rattle off the details of her screen persona: "I live in Leipzig, population .9 million. My favorite classes are history and sport."
The kids ask Hannah if she wants a ride, but she refuses. You're in the desert with no food and water! Accept the ride!
Scene 5: Fortunately, there is a Berber camp right over the ridge, and then a full-blown Middle Eastern city drawn directly from an Orientalist fantasy, with camels and everything. Erik helpfully taught Hannah Arabic, so she talks her way into a hotel room, where she is delighted by electric lights but horrified by television.
Scene 6: Hannah reunites with Sofia, her brother, and her free-wheeling hippie parents, who think that it's perfectly wonderful for a teenager to be traveling through Morocco alone. When they move on to Spain, Hannah sneaks into their trunk for a free ride. Apparently Erik told her that, if they are separated, they should meet in Berlin.
First up: he interrogates and then kills the Moroccan hotelier.
Meanwhile, Erik takes off his clothes and jumps in the ocean. I don't know why, but beefcake is beefcake.
I think Hannah's boy is played by Alvaro Cervantes (left).
Scene 9: Marissa does some recon on her own, and interrogates Hannah's grandmother, the mother of the agent Erik killed. Then the Big Bad Wolf kills Grandma!
Another Plot Dump: There was a secret experiment using genetic manipulation to create super-warriors. When the project was terminated, they killed all the babies, except Hannah, whom Erik saved because he erroneously believed that he was her biological father.
Scene 10: In bed, Hannah and Sofia hold hands, exchange friendship bracelets, and kiss. It's all extreme closeups of eyes and hands. Of course, the fans are all screaming: "Just because they kiss doesn't mean they're lesbians! Hannah can't be a lesbian! She's the hero! And Sofia says that she would like to be a lesbian, meaning she isn't!
Please -- Hannah refuses to kiss a boy, but kisses a girl. Could you get more obvious?
Scene 11: When Isaaks shows up, Hannah runs away, leaving the family at his mercy (way to abandon your friends!) Marissa arrives to interrogate Sofie's 10-year old brother: "You like Hannah, don't you? You must be sexually attracted to her, because you're a boy, and all boys are sexually attracted to girls, because no gay people exist. So tell me where she is?"
Scene 12: Hanna goes to what is apparently a safe house in the midst of a fairy-tale theme park. The owner, Kneper, keeps up the fairy-tale motif even in his bedroom upstairs, which presumably park visitors wouldn't be privy to. Flamboyant, creepy, crazy -- he dances to the tune of "The Hall of the Mountain King" from Peer Gynt. I get it -- he thinks he's really living in a fairy tale. But he's nice to Hannah, which means he's doomed.
Isaaks and Marissa show up, and Hannah hides while the guy is being interrogated and killed downstairs (way to abandon your friends yet again).
Scene 12: Hannah goes to her dead grandmother's house. Erik is there, and explains that he is the Huntsman who kept her safe from the Evil Queen...er, Marissa the Agency Head because he liked her more than the twenty other babies who were killed. Isaaks and Marissa show up, and Hannah runs away. She hears Erik being shot in the distance.
I'm getting tired of the trained assassin, who knows twenty ways of killing people with a slice of salami, abandoning her friends.
Scene 13: Back at the theme park, Isaaks is dead, but Marissa is still alive, standing in the mouth of a Big Bad Wolf ride. They shoot each other, but keep going and going like Energizer Bunnies. Finally Hannah kills Marissa. The end.
Wait -- what happens now? The girl is alone in the world. All her family and friends are dead. She has no money, no social skills. I guess she could move into Grandma's apartment and get a job as an Arabic translator.
Gay characters: Hannah, obviously. Probably Isaaks: he only tortures/kills men. When a woman or little boy has to be interrogated, Marissa takes over. It must be in his contract.
Beefcake: Not much other than that one Erik underwear shot -- here's one of Isaak's henchmen to tide you over -- but in a movie like this, the mere absence of girl bods is cause for celebration.
My grade: A+.
Jun 30, 2020
One of the most iconic beefcake moments of my childhood came in Mysterious Island, the 1961 adaption of the Jules Verne classic about some Civil War soldiers who end up lost on a mysterious island with giant crabs, prehistoric auks, and Captain Nemo.
The 1960s version added some women to up the hetero-romance, but made up for it by divesting Michael Callan of his shirt.
The scene where he and his girlfriend get trapped by giant bees is still frightening today.
Michael Callan was the go-to guy for teenage beefcake in the 1960s, wandering between Disney, ARP, and anyone else who would put a shirtless scene. I've seen him as a bulgeworthy circus aerialist in The Flying Fontaines (1959), a troubled high schooler in Because They're Young (1960), a gang member in West Side Story (1961), a teen dancer in Gidget Goes Hawaiian (1961), and a rascally cowboy in Cat Ballou (1965).
He also took off his shirt in Bon Voyage (1962), The Interns (1962), The Victors (1963), and who knows what else?
Dwayne Hickman (left) in Cat Ballou.
Plots involve backstabbing coworkers, people suspecting their secret, and Greta's boyfriend suspecting that they're really involved, but no hetero-romance for Peter. You can see some episodes on youtube.
In real life Michael was married three times, and doesn't have a lot of gay rumors attached to him, though Dwayne Hickman spends many pages of his autobiography describing their warm friendship.
Jun 29, 2020
The Tick. created by Ben Edlund in 1986, is a superhero parody that examines how being super might play out in the real world, where the rent is due, buildings you smash up have to be repaired, and you suffer from anxiety and depression over "being different."
The comic book, animated series, and tv series versions have all been slightly different, but the Tick and Arthur always capitalize on the superhero-sidekick homoerotic bond: they live together, share expenses, share a bed, bicker like a married couple. The 2001 series, with Patrick Warburton as The Tick, was called "the gayest show on tv" for dealing with issues like coming out to parents and gay adoption.
The latest adaption, on Amazon Prime (2016-2019),is even more gay. In previous versions, Arthur gets girlfriends to sort of diffuse the gay coding, but here, he (Griffin Newman) does not express any heterosexual interest. Neither does the Tick (Peter Serafinowicz). Everyone accepts them explicitly as a couple. They are invited to parties together; Mom invites "the two of you" to dinner; they apply for official superhero status as a pair.
Fellow superhero Overkill (Scott Speiser) has a sentient boat named Dangerboat (voiced by Alan Tudyk in a parody of Kitt , the talking car from Knightrider). Early in the series, Dangerboat announces that he identifies as male. This starts out a little discomforting, like a transphobic joke, but after the initial “identifies as” scene, everyone just accepts that Dangerboat is a male boat. Furthermore, he is gay, attracted to both male boats and male humans. He was in love with his previous owner, Michael, and now he has a crush on Arthur.
He gets a little frisky while Arthur is taking a shower (inside him).,but then he apologizes, and just asks Arthur out (or in) to movies.Arthur keeps blowing him off. (“Just date the boa!” I yelled at the screen.“You could do worse.” )
Tick is enthusiastic about the potential romance,but Arthur isn’t sure – a man dating a boat? How would that even work? (Gay human couples get the same response). “”I don’t want to confuse him, or confuse me. I’m already confused. He’s just a boat, right?”
Thing come to a head when Dangerboat has a post-traumatic episode over Michael’s death, and Arthur talks him down from a "deep cleansing" that would kill them all: “I know what it’s like to lose someone you love” Dangerboat admits that he loves Arthur, and Arthur responds "I know you do."
Later, Dangerboat apologizes for losing it, and hopes that they can still be friends. “We are friends,” Arthur affirms.
So I guess they won't be dating. But I still think Arthur could do worse.
Plus a Season 1 plot arc involves the Very Large Man, an ordinary guy zapped with a ray that makes him 200 feet tall. At that height, he's no longer sentient, but he does have a 20 foot long penis.
The perennial question: smart but tiny, or dumb but hung?
See also: 10 Things You Should Know about "The Tick"
Jun 28, 2020
Prologue 1: A balding, bearded middle-aged man is staring into a gun barrel, and thinking. "In 1994, the summer was coming to an end, and so was my childhood."
Prologue 2: A scary, empty summer camp. As the police wrap up some bodies in the woods, Teen Hunk is watching from the trees. When they see him, he runs away. Uh-oh, he must be the young Baldy, a murderer!
Scene 1 (1994); Teeaage girls at summer camp acting like five-year olds. One is swinging. Another blows on a whirligig and laughs in delight. I don't get it -- are these special needs children? At least the boys are doing teen things, drinking wine and playing foosball.
Out on the lake, three boys, including Teen Hunk, are frolicking (bare chest shots) while a Girl photographs them.
They head back to camp. Teen Hunk and the Girl grin dopily at each other.
Mom and Creepy Head Counselor yell at Teen Hunk for shirking his responsibilities to go grinning dopily at The Girl. He's supposed to be "looking after them."
That night, in the cabin, Pawel and his Sister discuss how hot Daniel and Laura are, respectively.
Scene 3: Pawel is off to make his nightime rounds, shining his flashlight into dark trees and checking the locks on buildings. Artur and Laura join him, and they go joy riding in a car thats been parked in the woods all day with the keys in it. Suddenly they hit someone! Uh-oh, I know what you did last summer, 26 years ago!
Scene 4 (2019): The Adult Pawel and, I assume, his wife Laura, are watching their daughter in a diving contest. Another daughter sits beside them (this is turning into a very distaff-heavy show). Pawel refuses to take pictures of the competition, because they could end up on the internet, where pervs could access them. Geez, this guy is broken! What happened at that summer camp?
Scene 5: Plot dump: Adult Pawel is a widower with a daughter. He works as the chief prosecuting attorney of his district, obsessed with bringing pervs to justice. Laura, who is married to someone else, has come for a visit. She asks Pawel to move back home,so things could be like they used to be, but Pavel insists: "Nothing will be like it used to be."
Plot dump: Someone named Marek was murdered last night. It's a fake name, so they don't know who he really was. But he was carrying a lot of newspaper clippings about the 1994 disappearances, and Pawel's name and address..
Scene 7 (1994); The guys are playing basketball (one shirtless, and a ginormous bulge), while girls look on with annoyingly blatant horniness -- they're dying to get laid, right now! Wait -- weren't they acting like five-year olds earlier that day?
Artur obligingly approaches one, and they swallow each other's tongues for awhile, until Creepy Head Counselor interrupts them. .
Scene 8: Creepy Head Counselor goes into the woods with some girls and flirts with them (I guess they're so horny they'll take anyone with a penis.)
Meanwhile, Pawel and Laura go to the beach, play with each other's toes, and smoosh their tongues inside each other's mouths.
Scene 9 (2019): Adult Pawel examines the clippings from the Dead Guy's car. Of course Creepy Head Counselor, aka "The Summer Butcher," was convicted of "killing that girl." And of course he didn't do it. Of course Dead Guy knew what Pawel did that summer, so Pawel killed him to keep him quiet. At least, that's what the inspectors imply. (But after killing him, Pawel left his name and address and the clippings in the car?He's not an idiot!)
Scene 10: Back home, Pawel has a cute-daddy scene with his daughter. Wait -- isn't it like 2:00 am? And didn't her cousin stay over. Is this the same night as the swim meet?
They take off their shirts and dance and almost kiss. Some gay subtexts going on.
But then the girls show up, gazing with that annoyingly blatant "Sex me up right now!" look, and invade the party.
Scene 12: Pawel stumbles into the woods and throws up. Why, did a girl try to kiss you? Laura comes out to grin dopily at him.
Scene 13 (2019): By now it must be like 5:00 am. Adult Pawel rummages through his bulging files about that summer (so I guess he didn't do it). Adult Laura joins him.
Plot Dump: Mom, who ran the camp, abandoned him after the incident. Or did she disappear because she knew something?
Scene 14 (1994): Mom yells at young Pawel for having booze parties with hoodlum friends like Artur: "Pull a stunt like that again, and God knows what I might do!" (an obvious red herring)
She then yells at/threatens Artur: "Stay away from Pawel! You're no good for him!" (Definite gay subtext, in spite of the girl-smooching.)
Scene 15 (2019): Adult Pawel swimming (kind of dumpy). Then he goes to work, where his assistant shows him risque photos of her! (is it taboo to say someone's name in Poland?). He calls her, a college student, into his office. Two guys raped her and then pled not guilty. These photos will be used to "prove" that she is a slut who wanted the activity.
This is interesting, but...what's it doing here?
Later, Pawel is sitting in a cafe, when one of the boys' fathers shows up. He offers to pay the girl 50,000 zlotys and donate to Pawel's wife's foundation if he drops the case. Then he threatens Pawel: "Everybody's got secrets."
Scene 16 (1994): The teens are doing their idiotic jump-dance thing. Pawel sits outside under a tree. Laura convinces him to walk into the woods. Close-up of tongue-swallowing, then sex for abotu five minutes of air time. They are interrupted by a loud noise. Laura runs away, and Pawel looks in horror at....
Scene 17 (2019): Adult Pawel swimming and looking horrified. Later, in the courtroom, Pawel moves to keep the boys in the rape case in custody while they analyze the forensic evidence. Their Dad is not happy.
Scene 18: Pawel meets with the police inspector. Plot Dump: Four kids went into the woods. Two were found dead later. The other two, including Artur and his sister, were never seen again.
He finally agrees to look at the body from Scene 6, the guy who died with all the clippings from the incident in his car. "Fuck me -- impossible!" It's Artur!
Gay Subtexts: Pawel and Artur.
Heterosexism: A lot of smooching.
Heavily Broadcast, Obvious Red Herrings: A lot.
Weird Age Conflations: The teenage girls act like they're five years old one moment, and auditioning for a porn movie the next.
My Grade: B.