Nov 28, 2020

Beefcake Overload at the Colorado School of Mines


If you're like me, you've always wondered about the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colorado (a suburb of Denver).  Do they really just teach you about mining?  How much education does mining require?  See that hole?  Take this pickaxe, go down there, and bring out some iron ore. 

Turns out that mining is a lot more complicated than that, requiring a background in engineering, physics, geology, and other science fields.

And the School of Mines isn't just about mining: you can major in Biochemistry, Chemical Engineering, Economics, Engineering Physics,  Environmental Engineering, Petroleum Engineering, and so on.

Since "professionals must be able to integrate social, cultural, political, economic, ethical and environmental knowledge into their decisions and designs," there's a department of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, where you can take courses in creative writing, film studies, history, literature, music, political science.  The Hennebach Lecture Series has offered "Water in Contemporary Film and Literature," "Healing Our Country through Empathy and Forgiveness," and "Nature, Race, and Writing."

The rest of the beefcake overload is on A Gay Guide to Small Town Beefcake

"The Christmas Chronicles 2": Leave the Interesting Characters at Home


I've never seen or heard of Christmas Chronicles 1, but Christmas Chronicles 2 is splashed all over my Netflix feed, and Netflix has been very good at gay representation this year, so I turned it on.

Scene 1: Belsnickel (Julian Dennison), an Inuit teenager, is living in a compound on the South Pole, feeling nostalgia over Santa Claus: "the first human I ever trusted -- and the last." A homoromantic buddy bond with Santa Claus?  Interesting! But the relationship ended badly, and now he is living in exile.  An elf brings him intel about a girl who can get him back to the North Pole.

Scene 2:  Cancun at Christmas.  Teenagers Teddy (Judah Lewis) and Kate (Darby Camp) are complaining about having to spend Christmas in a tropical paradise.  Teddy is rather arch and catty -- could he be gay?  Kate is mainly upset about Bob (Tyrese Gibson, top photo) whom Mom has been dating for ten months -- too early for a committed relationship!  I'm guessing that Bob helped save the day in the first movie. 

Bob's tiny, anxiety ridden son joins them.

A girl runs up and asks Teddy to go snorkeling.  Thus identifying him as heterosexual! Darn!

Scene 3: Bob arranges for a couples-only overnight tour of the Mayan ruins of Tulum.  No fair -- that's the only reason to go to Cancun!. Meanwhile Teddy will go snorkeling ("I know someone who loves snorkeling!  A girl, darn it!), and Kate is the designated babysitter for Bob's son, Jack.

Kate is angry at Mom and Bob, and decides to take the next flight back to Boston.  

Scene 4: Uh-oh, Belsnickel shows up as the shuttle driver.  He notes that he hated his family, too, and ran away.   So no homoerotic buddy bond -- Santa Claus was his adopted father!  Boo!

Uh-oh, Bob's son pops up from the back seat: "Are you running away?  You're supposed to be watching me."  At that moment, Belsnickel opens a wormhole and zaps them to the North Pole.

Wait -- no more Cancun?  No Teddy snorkeling?  No hunky Bob?  Boo!

Scene 5: They land amid ice and snow (and fir trees?), still in their beach clothes.  Kate has apparently been here before, and is confident that Santa Claus will rescue them before they freeze to death.

Meanwhile Santa Claus (teen idol turned action hero turned geezer Kurt Russell) is in his sleigh, chasing a wildcat.  He hears Kate yelling for help, and rushes to the rescue -- too late, the kids are dead!  He bundles them into the sleigh anyway.  Just as he takes off, Belsnickel rushes up and catches a ride.

Santa Claus keeps calling his reindeer ladies, which I find very annoying.  Who decided that they should all be girls?  

Belsnickel reveals his end game: to take toy delivery?

Scene 6: The kids are revived by the magical healing powers of Mrs. Claus (Goldie Hawn, naturally.), whose maternal instincts kick in -- she's thrilled to have real children around again.  Lots of gender stereotyping going on.

Santa explains that he and the elves established this community 1,700 years ago (times stands still, so he only ages when he leaves to deliver the toys).  It is powered by a sliver of the Star of Bethlehem. And the toy delivery is just a sideline -- Santa's real duties involve spreading the Spirit of Christmas, whatever that is.

Kate wants to stay at the North Pole and get a job -- she already speaks Elvish, after all.  But Santa puts his foot down -- tomorrow morning, it's back to Cancun.

Scene 7:  More backstory. 1,700 years ago, Santa led the elves to the North Pole, like Moses leading the Children of Israel to the Promised Land.  The elf named, I mean Belnickel...was brilliant and beautiful, Santa's favorite, but eventually he grew surly and egotistical, and sinned (he pasted his picture on a toy and wrote graffiti on Santa's sleigh) so God cast him out of, I mean Santa cast him out of the North Pole.  Whoa, Bible references in a story about Christmas!  Go figure!

Scene 8: 
 Belsnickel steals the Star of Bethlehem, so he can take it to the South Pole and build a new Christmas Village  (it will be the shiz!).  Mrs. Klaus invites him to stay at the North Pole and become an Elf again, but he says "Bah! Humbug!" (North Pole-ese for "F*k off!).  They fight, the Star is destroyed, no more North Pole, no more Christmas. (Well, we can still sing Christmas carols and feast on roast beast, right?)

Plus, Belsnickel poisoned the elves with elfsbane, so they become "reckless, dangerous maniacs" and start throwing snowballs at the humans.  Or maybe decided to rebel against their human overlords.  You have nothing to lose but your chains!

Scene 9:  Only Hakan and the Forest Elves can build a new star, and they live in Turkey.  So Santa and Kate (for some reason) go, while Mrs. Claus and Jack stay home to work on a cure for the ravaging elves.

Turkey is a snow-covered forest.  Boo!  I wanted to see Istanbul!

They get the new Star, but Belsnickel steals it, and zaps them to...Logan Airport in Boston in 1990?  Random choice!

Scene 10:  Kate tries to get batteries  to power the time machine (huh?), but her $5 bill is from 2020 (do bills contain dates?  I never noticed). 

Meanwhile, Santa decides to re-ignite the Christmas Spirit. But...there are Christmas trees everywhere, and carols playing.  What's to reignite? And who cares about what happened 30 years ago?

To accomplish this, he cancels all flights and entertains the stranded passengers with a song, accompanied by a gospel choir (I don't know what's going on, just run with it).

Scene 11:
Kate meets a teenage boy named Doug (Sunny Suljic), who loves his parents, and convinces her that Mom dating a nice guy is not the end of the world (100 to 1 this boy will grow up to be her father).


Scene 12:  The time-travel machine repowered, they head back to the future.  

There's an in-air sleigh battle between Santa and Belsnickel, and another fight on the ground.  Defeated, Belsnickel realizes that "running away doesn't solve your problems."  He accepts Santa's offer to stay in the village, and turns into an elf again.

Scene 13: Kate and Jack parachute back to Cancun, where Teddy realizes that they were at the North Pole, and asks if their adventure "was as good as last time."  They all hug Mom and Bob.  The end.

Three questions:

1.  Is Julian Dennison gay in real life?

2.  Why didn't Teddy go along for the adventure? Is he too old?

3.  What happened to Christmas LGBT representation?

Stealing Sinatra

Stealing Sinatra (2003) is a caper movie about the real-life kidnapping of 19-year old Frank Sinatra, Jr., son of the famous singer, in December, 1963.  The kidnappers were down-and-out entrepreneur Barry Keenan and down-and-out fisherman Joe Amsler, both 23, plus Joe's father, Johnny Irwin.  Barry and Joe had attended University High School in Los Angeles, where they knew many celebrity children, and thus got the idea of kidnapping one of them (their first choice was Bob Hope's son, Tony).

Barry Keenan, Joe Amsler, and Frank Sinatra Jr. were all heterosexual.

 So why does the DVD of Stealing Sinatra contain previews for only gay-themed movies, Jack and Manhood, and the gay-themed tv series The L Word?

Because in the Showtime version, Frank (Thomas Ian Nicholas) is plainly gay, with feminine mannerisms and an effeminate pinky ring, singing about girls only because his career requires it, but otherwise spending all of his time with men.  He is kidnapped while he and a buddy, drummer John Foss (Colin Cunningham) are sitting around in their hotel room in their underwear.  

Barry (David Arquette) and Joe (Ryan Browning, left) kidnap Frank  for the money, of course, but also for. . .something else.   Joe big brothers him, and Mr. Irwin (William H. Macy) gives him speeches about self-confidence and being your own man.  Barry keeps staring at him with soul-searching passion.  They are a lot alike, both outsiders, both lonely, both waiting for someone.

Frank uses the kidnapping to open up, seek advice, explore how to establish his own identity in his father's shadow, and start looking for real emotional connections: "I've never loved anybody!" he  moans.  He doesn't actually fall in love with Barry or Joe -- the kidnapping remains a harrowing ordeal -- but now at least he knows where to begin. 

The Gay Villages of Sonia and Tim Gidal

When I was little, my search for a "good place" often led me to the My Village books.  Tim Gidal (1909-1996) was a a pioneer in the field of photojournalism and a respected academic at the New School for Social Research.  In the interest of fostering international understanding, he and his wife Sonia published My Village in India (1956), a photo-story about the everyday life of a real ten-year old boy in a rural village.

It became so popular that they started scouting out villages in other countries, eventually traveling to 23:

1956: Austria
1957: Yugoslavia, Ireland
1958: Norway
1959: Israel, Lapps (Norway)
1960: Bedouins (Jordan), Greece
1961: Switzerland
1962: Spain, Italy
1963: Denmark, England
1964: Germany, Morocco
1965: France
1966: Finland, Japan
1968: Korea, Brazil
1969: Ghana
1970: Thailand
They only stopped when the couple divorced.

Each story was written in present tense and covered a few days in the life of a 10-12 year old boy: shepherding in Yugoslavia, fishing in Norway, tending to a vineyard in France.  He also went to school, played with his friends, talked to other villagers, went to a festival or took a field trip to a big city, and sometimes solved a minor mystery.  On the way you learned something about the history, language, and culture of the country (probably for the first time).

No gay people or same-sex romances were ever mentioned.  So why did these books offer a glimpse of a "good place"?

1. The boys were all exceptionally cute, from my preteen vantage point, and in warm climates they often stripped down to swim or fish or frolic.  Even in cold climates: the Norwegian boy stripped down for bed, and the Finnish boy was photographed completely nude in a sauna.

2. Their fathers, older brothers, and neighbors all lived off the land: they were farmers, shepherds, fishermen, loggers.  That meant endless photographs of muscular adult men.

3. American media of the 1960s was full of preteen boys "discovering" girls.  But the Village boys never expressed the slightest interest in girls.  Indeed, they didn't seem to know any, other than their sisters.

4. However, they often came in pairs that were extremely expressive by American standards: always hugging, wrapping their arms around each other, lying side by side, even kissing each other on the cheek.  To my preteen mind, it was obvious that they were boyfriends.

See also: Looking for Love in the Encyclopedia

Nov 27, 2020

Airplane!: Convincing Bob that "Surely you can't be serious!" is funny

For pandemic Thanksgiving this year, Bob cooked a turkey -- but I couldn't get him out of bed until 9:00, so the turkey went into the oven at 11:00, and we didn't eat until 6:00 pm.  We passed the time by watching "Thanksgiving" movies, such as Airplane! (1980).

A parody of 1970s disaster movies like the Airport series (1970, 1976, 1977, 1979), it holds up surprisingly well -- for me, anyway.  Probably because there is a real plot, with characterization and suspense: when the cockpit crew and many of the passengers are disabled with food poisoning, traumatized pilot Ted Striker (Robert Hays), who hasn't been able to fly since the War, is forced to land the plane.

Many of the jokes still made me laugh, although Bob was annoyed by my habit of laughing before the punchline: 

"Surely you can't be serious!"
"I am serious, and don't call me Shirley!"

"The hospital called."
"The hospital!  What is it?"
"It's a big building with patients in it, but that's not important now."

Other jokes were still funny to me, but I had to explain them to Bob, who wasn't born yet in 1980:

The stewardess gives a passenger a second cup of coffee, and his wife muses "He never asks for a second cup of coffee at home": a popular tv commercial.

Robert Stack as Captain Rex Kramer: a parody of his 1970s tough-guy roles.

An elderly white woman can "speak jive" to communicate with black passengers: she was Barbera Billingsley, the button-down conservative Mom on Leave It to Beaver.  Interestingly the team of Abrams, Zucker, and Zuker was also responsible for Kentucky Fried Movie, a sketch-parody movie starring both Wally and the Beaver.

Bob had never hears of any o fhtem.

Other jokes made him glare at me and say "You liked this?"

Racist jokes are everywhere.
1. The two black guys speaking jive, with subtitles translating into English.
2.  A isolated African tribe who "have never seen white people before" are instinctively good at basketball.
3. Striker's life history is so boring that everyone he tells it to tries to kill themselves: a Japanese guy commits seppuku, and an Indian guy tries self-immolation.

4. We could do without Captain Oveur's pedophilia jokes: "Billy, have you ever seen a grown man naked?  Do you like gladiator movies?"

5. Striker sees his future girlfriend Elaine for the first time in a sleazy bar during the War.  He is so oeverwhelmed by her beauty that he thinks he is dreaming, and asks the guy sitting next to him to "pinch me."  The guy glares and moves away. thinking that he is gay.

6.  We were torn about the character of Johnny, who seems to be an assistant ("How about some coffee?"  "No, thank you"), but is listed in the credits as Air Traffic Controller Johnny Henshaw-Jacobs.  Sometimes he evokes gay stereotypes: he criticizes a woman's outfit, respnds to "What do you make of this?" with "Oh, I could make a lovely hat," and calls his Auntie Em during the crisis like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz.  

But at other times he comes across as just wacko.  While the plane is landing, he umplugs the lights on the runway, then says "Just kidding" and laughs maniacally.

Compared to the uber-swishy gay characters of other movies of the era, such as Lamar in Revenge of the Nerds (1984), we see a much more nuanced performance.  We wondered if the actor tweaked his performance to cut down on the swish: Stephen Stucker was something of an activist.  He was one of the first performers to publicly announce that he had been diagnosed with AIDS, a  few months before his death in 1986.

Verdict:  Me, A-.  Bob: C.  I guess you had to be there. 

Nov 26, 2020

Freedom from Want: Norman Rockwell's Parody of the Nuclear Family

The iconic Thanksgiving scene is Norman Rockwell's Freedom from Want, originally published in the Saturday Evening Post on March 6, 1943.  It was part of a series called the Four Freedoms, based on Franklin Roosevelt's State of the Union speech in 1941: Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Religion, Freedom from Fear, and Freedom from Want.

It's reprinted all the time as an example of what America was like, back in the "golden age": white, Christian, gender-polarized, and very, very, very heterosexual.

The usual interpretation: Mom and Dad serve a Thanksgiving dinner to their adult children and their husbands and wives, along with a grandchild or two, thus supporting heterosexual "family values," replicating the myth that everyone on Earth is, or will be, a heterosexual husband or wife, that no single heterosexuals or gay people exist.

But take a close look.  It makes no sense.

1. There's not nearly enough room to set that turkey down without knocking over a water glass.
2. There's no other food on the table except some gigantic stalks of celery and a weird centerpiece of pears and brown grapes.
3. Everything on the table is ghostly white.
4. There are five people on the left side, but only three place settings.
5. There's no way all of them could fit at that table.  They must be disembodied heads.
6. No one is looking at the turkey, or the elderly couple about to serve it.

I get the impression that they're not really there at all.

In fact, Rockwell took photos of his friends and associates, and painted them in, a sort of hodgepodge.

You think that the elderly couple at the head of the table are Grandma and Grandpa, but actually the woman is the Rockwell cook, and the man is a random old guy.  The nine guests include Rockwell's wife and mother, but the others are friends, most not related to each other by blood or marriage.  No attempt is made to suggest heterosexual male-female couples.

This painting actually critiques the nuclear family myth.  It's about friendship.

Maybe that's why it's been subjected to so many parodies and homages.

Joe Philips gives us a gay version, with a hunky couple serving (notice the hand on shoulder) and nine cute guys of diverse racial groups (but not ages) around the table.  The room is now a Castro Street Victorian with stained glass windows, and there's a lot of healthy food on the table, plus wine in the glasses, adding some much-needed color.

The Muppet version eliminates the background.  Kermit and Miss Piggy are serving.  There's not enough room around the table for nine muppets, so Fozzie and the Swedish Chef are standing aside.

Should that eagle be eating a turkey?

Evil Clown Comics was a series in National Lampoon written by Nick Bakay and illustrated by Alan Kupperberg.  Here there are seven people around the table, two helping to balance the carcass of Frenchy the Clown.

I have only two comments:

1. Frenchy has a very nice physique, for a clown.
2. Where did they put his legs?

ABC's Modern Family opens up the table to get everyone around it, with Jay and Gloria serving.  There still aren't enough plates for everyone, but at least they bronzed that weird pear-grape centerpiece.

Putting the girls in red adds some color, but Claire in a white wig looks strange, and why is Cam's hand pressing against the surface where his food will be soon?

Sam Spratt gives us the Redneck version, with the original characters modified slightly: tattoos, a Nascar t-shirt, Mohawks.  They're eating a canned boneless turkey.  Notice the Spam, beer cans, switchblades, and cocaine on the table.

By the way, the top photo is what popped up on Google images when I searched with the key words  "Freedom from Want", "Norman Rockwell," and "parody."  I guess the rationale is, if he's a guest at Thanksgiving dinner, you'll be free from want.

See also: Was Norman Rockwell Gay?

10 Reasons Why Thanksgiving is the Gayest Holiday

If you're not from the U.S. you might not be familiar with Thanksgiving, a holiday celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November (it's also celebrated on different dates in Canada, Liberia, and Grenada).

It's my favorite holiday.  And the gayest:

1. It's in November, so it's cold outside, and dark at night like it's supposed to be.  No one is forcing you to go out and "enjoy the outdoors."

2. There are no tv commercials depicting heterosexual couples giving each other gifts or watching in rapt joy as their children unwrap gifts.

3. There's no religious significance, so you won't feel guilty if you accidentally say "Happy Thanksgiving!" to someone who is Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Wiccan, or atheist.  Although sometimes vegans will lecture you.

4. Gay men spend many extra hours at the gym in anticipation of over-indulging on Thanksgiving.  As a result, at Thanksgiving they're more buffed than at any other time of the year.

5. Everyone gets to demonstrate their culinary skill.

6. You only get Thursday and maybe Friday off work, so there's no time to take a plane ride 2000 miles to the place you grew up.  Thus, "home" is no longer in the past, it's the place you are today, and "family" is what you make of it.

This Advocate cover shows Howard Cruse's character Wendel being served Thanksgiving dinner in bed.  But why is the kid wearing a mask?  Is he the famous Thanksgiving character, Zorro?

7. If you do go home to visit extended family, Thanksgiving dinner is the traditional time for making Big Announcements, like "Guess what?  I'm gay."

8. Most of the bars, clubs, and bathhouses have special Thanksgiving Day events, so you don't have to waste all Thanksgiving afternoon watching football.

9. The origin story, about 17th century Pilgrims and Indians coming together to share a meal, is an imperialist myth, masking a history of conquest and genocide.  But it does lend itself to some interesting ideas for homoerotic revisions (picture from Crow821 on

10. Gay people have a lot to be thankful for.  They grew up in a culture where they told, over and over, that "discovering the opposite sex" was inevitable and universal, that no gay people existed except for grotesque monsters.  And they survived.

Nov 25, 2020

Boody Rogers: Don't Let the Fanboys Fool You


Comic book fanboys get all pervy over Boody Rogers (1904-1996).  Surely his name is an alternative spelling for "booty," or "women's sex organs," they claim.  And his signature character, the hillbilly baseball player Babe, was a prime example of "Good Girl Art,"  the boob-heavy, double entendre laden lascivious might-as-well-be-porn comics of the 1940s.  In one issue, she gets literally saddled and ridden like a horse, a blatant S&M scene.  

But let's take a closer look.  

Gordon Rogers never explained why he adopted the name "Boody," but probably not because of the sexual connotation/ The slang meaning of the term, originally "buttocks,"  comes from the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s (earliest print example is from 1926).  Boody probably wasn't aware of it until later.  Besides, he also published under the pen names Charles McGraw, Cliff Perill, and Tody Turnovah.

Babe was hardly his signature character.  She appeared in an eleven-issue series in 1949-1950, just before Rogers retired.  While she didn't wear a bra, her breasts were not the main appeal of the character: she was super-strong, an athlete who excelled at the male-dominated sports of baseball, football, and even wrestling.  Plus she was the hero in humorous adventure stories: "Babe and the Dying King"; "Babe and the Magic Lamp"; "The Midnight Mystery."

 Maybe she was even a role model to young girls; some of the ads suggest that the intended readership was female.

Just as Li'l Abner is uninterested in girls, Babe doesn't need or want a man in her life.  One story features the sophisticated, effeminate Max Van Glamor, who is so attractive to girls that he can't even eat in a restaurant -- the waitresses keep trying to kiss him.  When he discovers that Babe isn't interested, he immediately falls for her.  Lots of gay subtexts there.

Rogers' signature character was Sparky Watts, who appeared in over 100 issues of Big Shot comics between 1940 and 1949 (although Joe Palooka clone Brass Knuckles usually got the cover).

 A college student zapped with a super-power ray, Sparky sometimes fought Nazis, but more often had humorous fantasy adventures, such as shrinking to bug-size and almost being forced to marry the bug-queen.  

He lived with the punch-drunk ex-boxer Slap Happy and the oddly effeminate scientist Doc.  Probably some homoerotic subtexts there, but I've only read two stories, so it's hard to tell.

Other Boody chararters include Jasper Fudd, a hayseed who turns out to be a superb runner (with a superb physique); and the the teenage Dudley

Quite a lot of beefcake for "Good Girl Art."

The Twins Day Festival of Twinsburg, Ohio

Twinsburg, Ohio, is a small town of 18,000 near Cleveland, founded in 1817 by identical twins Aaron and Moses Wilcox.  In honor of its origin, it hosts the Twins Day Festival, the world's largest gathering of twins and other multiples, held the first weekend in August since 1975 

About 4,000 twins attend, fraternal, identical, and multiple.  Some come alone, their twin being detained or lost.  They are of all ages from infant to octogenarian, of all races, genders, sizes, and shapes, from the United States and about a dozen other countries.

Twins in the outside world tend to dress differently and pursue different activities to emphasize their uniqueness, but here they revel in their similarity, dressing and acting alike, banding together with other twins to form dazzling mirror images.

The festival features live music groups, food, crafts, rides, and exhibits, plus many twin-specific events, like a 5-k run, a twin parade, and the crowning of the imperial court.

Non-twins are welcome, but bear in mind that it's a place for twins to catch up with old friends and enjoy a safe haven from the scrutiny of curious outsiders, not for twin fetishists to cruise.

But some of the twins are quite hot, and a surprising number are gay or bi.  Even the straight ones seem perfectly happy to talk to strangers (all photographs copyright Charles Robinson, except #12, copyright John Robinson).

1.-2. Mike and Matt Gragnani, real estate agents from Berwin, Illinois.

3. Long haired bodybuilders in purple muscle shirts.

4. Ben and Jared from Louisiana.

5-6. Nick and Jim Falco from Elmhurst, Illinois have been attending since 1991.

7. Jeremy and Josh from Louisiana.

During the last 30 years,  in vitro fertilization and the use of fertility-enhancing drugs has increased the number of twins born, from 22 to 32 per 1,000 births.  Not that anyone is complaining.

More after the break

Nov 24, 2020

Public Penises of Eastern Europe


You'll find a lot of muscular guys in Eastern Europe, where bodybuilding is nearly as popular as soccer (pictured: Bulgarian bodybuilder Dimitar Dimitrov).  But outside of the Czech Republic and Hungary, beefcake in public art is scarce.  The combined influence of Slavic churches and Soviet-era puritanism has taken its toll.

When someone does erect a nude male statue, there's usually a public outcry.  This statue of a nude Roman Emperor Trajan, one of the founders of Romania, placed on the steps of the National Museum of Romanian History in Bucharest, has caused jeers of derision. 

Both for his nudity and for the fact that he's holding a wolf with a scarf (it's actually the Capitoline Wolf, who fed Romulus and Remus, attached to the Dacian Dragon).

When a nude statue of Prometheus the Fire-Bringer was erected in the Park of the Heroes of Macedonia in Skopje, public outcry forced Macedonian officials to give the god golden underwear.

But there is still beefcake to be found, often in the most unexpected places.

Like this naked man seemingly hovering in mid-air over the Bryda River in Bydgoszcz, Poland, commemorating Poland joining the European Union.

Or the Naked Swordsman at the University of Wroclaw, erected to warn students against incautious spending (apparently he was a student who bet everything he owned, except his sword, and lost).

More after the break.

Gay Representation on Prime Time 1: CBS

I was getting tired of my media bubble of Amazon "shows we think you'll like" and Netflix "because you watched Queer Eye."  What is tv like in the "real world" of untaylored, non-algorithm, "turm it on and it's there" prime time?  So I decided to check out the 2020-2021 prime time schedule on CBS, the network that aired some of my all-time favorites when I was a teenager in the 1970s: Mary Tyler Moore, Bob Newhart, One Day at a Time, Alice, WKRP in Cincinnati.  

Here's what CBS has been up to lately:


The Neighborhood: A fish-out-of-water series about a white family (headed by Max Greenfield, left) who moves to a black neighborhood. Every character is involved in a heterosexual nuclear family.

Bob Hearts Abishola
: Plus-sized sock company executive (Billy Gardell of Mike and Molly) falls in love with a Nigerian-American nurse.  Wait -- isn't this the same premise as Mike and Molly?  It's been criticized for portraying Nigerian immigrants as "a better class of people" than African-Americans.  One of the actresses is gay, but her character is not. 

 All Rise: A legal drama about a black female judge in Los Angeles.  William Bethel  (left) plays the deputy district attorney.  Five writers left because they were fed up with trying to tone down the racist and sexist scenes, but at least one of the judges is a lesbian.

Bull.  Bull (Michael Weatherly) is a psychologist with three Ph.D.s and a pilot's license who helps lawyers select jurors. His team includes Marissa, a psychologist, neurolinguist, and sex therapist; Chunk, a fashion stylist and former football star; Cable, a computer hacker; and Danny, a former cop.  No gay characters.

I agree; this is bull.


Crime shows.  I didn't watch them as a kid, and I don't watch them now.


Game shows.


Young Sheldon.  I bought this on Vudu.  Homey, cozy East Texas in the 1980s.  Cute, a little too sweet for its own good, no gay people mentioned, ever, but none of the blatant homophobia of its parent series The Big Bang Theory.

B Positive.  A sitcom about a therapist and newly divorced father (Thomas Middleditch) who needs a kidney transplant, so a girl he knew in high school offers one of hers.  This is a sitcom?  Presumably they are going to fall in love, but only four episodes have aired to date.  No gay characters.

The Unicorn.
A recently widowed father (Walton Goggins) re-enters the dating scene, and finds that he is a hot commodity due to not being a jerk. Also he's got smokin' abs.  The Unicorn is also the title of a documentary about a gay county-western singer, so research on the sitcom's gay content is nearly impossible.  I'm going to guess that there isn't any.

Demonic possession is investigated by Mulder and Scully, in this case a forensic psychologist (and single mother of four daughters) and a Catholic seminarian .journalist/ superhero (and love interest).  No gay characters, although there may be a gay person in one episode.  It's hard to research; conservatives keep yelling that the show is anti-Christian, drowning out any howls of homophobic outrage.


Crime shows

Gay Representation Score: 1 show out of 8 has regular LGBTQ characters.  Um...well, let's have another peek at that Netflix "Because you watched Queer Eye" list.

See: Gay Representation on Prime Time 2: ABC

Nov 23, 2020

""Gym Shorts": What It's Like to be Hit On by a Gay Guy


Gym Shorts is a 2019-2020 web/Amazon Prime series (three episodes to date) about a gym "full of unique characters."  One was written as gay, but changed to straight at the audition, so no gay representation.  But there are bound to be some hunks, and it might bring back some nostalgic memories of the days when you could spend more than 45 minutes at the gym and get within 6 feet of the other patrons.  So I watched the first episode.

Prologue: Middle-aged Kevin listens to depressing music and throws away his wedding ring.

Scene 1:  U-Ran-Us Fitness.  Is this a reflection of Uranians, a 19th-century word for gay men?  I doubt the writers are that well versed in gay history.  Probably just a fifth-grade joke on "your anus."

Personal trainer Chad is advising Nico to not spend so much time on one muscle group: it's way overdeveloped.  Guess which?  The glutes (i.e., your anus).

But Nico is well built, while Chad is rather too skinny to be a personal trainer.  How about hiring actors that look like what they're playing?

Scene 2:  Kevin appears. Chad hard-sells him into a membership, but he insists on a tour first.  Close up of Sam, who is staffing the front desk, sucking on a lollipop.  I don't understand the significance.

It's a very basic gym, two narrow rooms, with some treadmills and free weights.  Some guys playing ball by the weight machine. The "juice bar" is a table with a blender on it.  Juice Bar Guy is sucking on a lollipop.  What's with all the sucking?  Oral sex?  Indicating that these guys are gay?

Cheryl, who wears a skimpy outfit that leaves her belly bare, gets up from the quad machine to flirt with Chad, but he blows her off.  She follows them to the locker rooms, then bursts away in anger.  

Scene 3
: There's a Naked Old Man reading a newspaper in the locker room (no skin).  He checks out Kevin's butt.

Back in the weight room, Nico is working on his glutes.  Chad reprimands him, so he starts on a boxing bag.  With his butt.

Gina is sitting on a butterfly press machine, doing her makeup and complaining about the lighting.  She's wearing high heel shoes.  

Scene 4: Cheryl is secretly watching Chad give the tour.  

We see but do not meet three black guys.  For diversity?  All of the named cast has been white so far.

Aha!  Wesley the officious stick-in-the-mud manager is black. 

Kevin is about ready to bolt, but Wesley invites him into his office to talk it over.

Scene 4:  Wesley has a picture of his wife prominently placed to indicate that he is heterosexual.  Kevin notes that his wife just divorced him and he'll be dating soon, so he needs to look hotter. Plus core strength and cardiovascular fitness?

Apparently this is the only gym in town, so he has no choice.  He signs the contract.

Scene 5: 
Kevin arrives for his first workout.  Sam, working reception, checks out his butt.  

Chad: Just watch me, do what I say, and guys will be hitting on you in no time.

Kevin: But I'm not g___.

Chad: Don't argue with me, dude.

Their first exercise is an incline bench press, which seems rather advanced.  Chad is spotting him, but gets distracted: "Wow, that guy's sexy.  Who is that? He's doing squats, the international sign of a voracious bottom!"

He leaves Kevin choking under a barbell to get the guy's number.  Then he says "One more set, and hit the showers."  After a few reps of one exercise?

"Douchebag!" Kevin mutters.  

I agree.

Surprisingly little.

Gay characters:  Chad.  I'm guessing Sam with his lollipop, too, and everybody else who sucks on a lollipop or checks out Kevin's butt.  I thought the gay character was removed.  

My verdict:  This gym must be right next to Kevin's workplace.  There's no other reason for joining -- the equipment is sub-standard, Chad is completely incompetent, and the incessant sucking on lollipops and checking-out of butts was creepy, like a straight guy's fantasy of what being hit on by gay guys is like.    

Will I Keep Watching: The gyms are closed again.  I have to make do with free weights and a recumbent bicycle in the basement.  Why not? 

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