Feb 27, 2021

"Tell Me Your Secrets": Lesbian Victims of Predatory Men on the Bayou


Tell Me Your Secrets, a tv series hyped as "mesmerizing" and "riveting."   All I know is that it's a drama about "three characters with a mysterious bond."  What are their genders?  Are any of them hunks?  Are any of them gay?  I'll watch until I find out, or until it becomes too disgusting or too heterosexist to stand.

Scene 1: Texas, Past.  Karen and Mary talking over one of those prison phones.  Mary was at the trial, and now asks if Karen knows anything about what happened to her daughter.  Karen says she doesn't.  "But she was last seen at a gas station in Nevada with your man, Kit  the Serial Killer" (Xavier Samuel, somewhat older than in this photo, with bad hair and a redneck moustache).

Scene 2: Texas, Present.  Karen is being released from prison. Gratuitous underwear shot as she changes out of her prison uniform.  Do prisoners really get issued lacey black bras?  She stares at her breasts in the mirror for what seems like forever (actually only a minute and a half).    

She spends another thirty seonds fingering her tattoo and getting dressed.. I can hear the director: "Take your time.  The viewers have to finish masturbating."  

Whew.  Ok, the porn is over. Pete (Enrique Murciano) arrives to pick Karen up. 

I tried five times to get an Enrique Murciano nude or shirtless shot, but ran into: webt files, html files,  "file cannot be downloaded safely.", and one of his chest as he is straddled by a naked woman.  So here's a screen shot sans lady parts.

He asks Karen "Are you ready to be Emma?"

Scene 3: Louisiana: The Present.  Establishing shot of Pete and Karen/Emma driving down a narrow highway through a swamp, with gospel music playing.  Oh, Lord, what have I gotten myself into?  Should I bail now, or continue sludging through?

I thought Pete was Emma/Karen's case worker, but he reaches over and affectionally touchers her body.  They're lovers.  Whoops, no, he's just a grabby psychiatrist, taking her to her new life in the Wtiness Protection program.

They arrive at a hunting lodge-type house on stilts.  He tells her: "We'll continue our sessions.  I'll help you through this.  And stay away from young women."  Huh?  Karen/Emma is a pedophile?

Scene 4: 
Mary from Scene 1, her ex-husband, daughter, and son (Elliot Fletcher, left) are sitting around the dining room table, talking to their therapist about the disappearance of Theresa seven years ago. They all think it's time to start grieving by declaring her legally dead and setting up a memorial or something, but Mary protests: "She is still alive. I know because of my maternal instinct." 

Scene 5: Karen/Emma's house, night.  Unpacking groceries. She flashes back to a memory of Kit the Serial Killer, cooking dinner and being all smoochy.  

Meanwhile, Mary is conducting research., surrounded by piles of papers and newspaper clippings, watching an interview with Kit.   He says that he killed the nine girls out of compassion, helping them escape from societal pressures: "those girls were begging for their freedom."

Kit has finally agreed to see her, so she's going to get him to confess to Theresa's murder.  Wait -- doesn't she think that Theresa is still alive?

She kisses her son Jake's hand.  A hint of an incestuous relationship -- gross!  

Scene 6: A fried chicken joint, night. Close-up of Karen/Emma's face as she scarfs down a burger. Teenage Jess stares at her.  Two more girls arrive, walk across the restaurant in slow motion, and play with Jess's hair. Uh-oh, temptation!

But they're not lovers; they're muggers or rapists.  They force Jess into the bathroom.  Karen/Emma rushes to the rescue, and then tries to leave, while Jess follows and flirts: "Nobody ever stood up for me before.  You live around here?"  

Scene 7: Kit in an empty maximum security cell, reading a "Dear John" letter from Karen/Emma.  

Scene 8:
Karen/Emma applies for a job at a hair salon.  There's a male hairdresser, Thomas (Marque Richardson, who played a gay guy on Dear White People).  Maybe he's gay.

Scene 9: A meeting of the foundation that Mary started that helps the families of missing children.  An ex-con is offering his services in "awareness raising," to help women avoid being raped and kidnapped.  Mary isn't interested: "We help women here. We don't introduce them to predators." So none of those missing children are boys?  Women are perpetual victims?

Scene 10: Karen/Emma's stalker...um, I mean friend...Jess arrives and asks her out.  They take a boat into the bayou, then go back to the house and hug.  Karen/Emma says "I can't give you nothing better than friendship."  Well, she's jailbait.

Scene 11: Mary goes to visit Kit in prison, but just as she gets into the interview room, he's found dead in his cell (nice chest shot).  She collapses, hysterical, while a guard kisses her hair.  Is that appropriate?

Scene 13: Pete the Psychiatrist shows upa at Karen/Emma's house to tell her that Kit is dead.  She screams and runs out, but Pete grabs her and kisses her hair (the director's got a fetish, I see).

Wait -- why is she in witness protection?  She was a witness in Kit's trial, and now he's dead, so why isn't she safe?

Scene 14:
Montage of Jess working, Karen/Emma attempting suicide, and Mary being distraught.  Jess comes to the door but Karen/Emma won't answer.  

Mary goes to see John the Ex-Con and tells him that people can't change.  You can try to be better, but if you have an evil nature, you're stuck with it (um, that goes against every criminological theory of the last 130 years).  Once a rapist, always a rapist.  So she gives him the job of finding Karen/ Emma.

I don't follow.  Why would being an innate rapist make John qualified to do private detective work?

She blackmails him: take the job, or I'll tell everyone that you are an innate rapist.

Scene 15: Karen/Emma goes to see Jess to apologize for ghosting her before.   But Jess has been stabbed to death.  Well, that was unexpected. The killer is still there, so she runs away in slow motion.  Wait -- is that Mary chasing her?  

Scene 16: The hair salon.  Someone -- I don't think it's Karen/Emma -- is cleaning up.  A middle-aged woman comes in for a trim, and announces that her name is Theresa.  Huh?

Beefcake: None.

Gay Characters:  Jess and probably Karen/Emma, but it's mostly subtext.

Reprehensible Characters:  I really hate Mary. Her attitude toward criminal offenders is extremely old-fashioned and punitive.   If she doesn't think anyone can change, why does she hire an ex-rapist to do detective work?  If she really thinks that Kit killed her daughter, why does she think her daughter is still alive?  Besides, she seems to be in love with her son.

Sexism: Women are constant victims, being constantly raped, kidnapped, and murdered by men.  Men are never victims, just predators doing the raping, kidnapping. murdering, and kissing of hair.

My Grade: D

Feb 26, 2021

"Two Sentence Horror Stories": Being LGBT Means Perpetual Victimhood


Two Sentence Horror Stories
is a horror anthology on Netflix (each episode is actually about 20 minutes long).  The icon is so extremely disgusting that I've been staying away, but I'm running out of things to watch, so, I went through the plot synopses to find one that might have some LGBT representation.

I came up with "Elliott,:"  about a trans boy (James Goldman) who gets stared at and misnamed a lot,, and the principal forbids him from using the boys' restroom: "you either got the equipment or you don't."   

At least the music teacher (Edwin Perez) is nice to him.

James Goldman was playing girls prior to 2017, so I'm guessing he's transgender in real life.

In search of a restroom that doesn't have a transphobe standing guard, he goes through an "access forbidden" door and down a scary staircase to an abandoned corridor.  A scary shadowy being with glowing eyes appears....

Whoops,  just a friendly androgynous janitor, I;m guessing a masculine-presenting woman.  They eat pistachios and bond.  She says that lots of bullied kids come down here: "crying, alone in the dark."   Gulp

What janitor spends her whole life in an unused corridor?  She must be a ghost.  I'm guessing the ghost of someone killed in a transphobic hate crime years ago.

She lets him borrow a a magical ocarina that can stop the bullying: whoever hears it will feel what the player is feeling.

Back upstairs, Elliott uses the girls' restroom.  Two girls make fun of him, so he plays the ocarina, and they scream and cry and apologize.

He rushes down and tells Janitor about his victory.  Now she offers to let him have the ocarina permanently, for a price -- the notebook where he writes all of the music he's been composing.  

But...but "My whole heart and soul is in this.  I wouldn't know hwo I am without it."  So basically she wants his soul.

He makes the trade.

When Tony (Micah Solis) tries to beat him up, he plays the ocarina again, but this time Tony collapses in pain as his wrist is broken off.  Hey, no fair.  Elliott wasn't feeling physical pain..

Elliot runs down the hallway and encounters Principal Transphobe.: "You act all innocent, but you're rotten fruit, poisoning the minds of the other kids.  I'm not going to let you destroy the school.."

Elliott plays the ocarina to get rid of him, and rushes down the stairs to the unused corridor. He looks in abandoned lockers and sees...dead kids!  "The next locker is for you," Janitor says.  She's going to remove his pain from his "human husk," so it will live on forever.   

Whoops, Principal Transphobe has followed him down the stairs, and he's got a weapon!  Use the ocarina or not?

Well, Elliott has to.  The Principal is trying to kill him.

Principal collapses in pain as his fingers bend back and break.  

"Now you're mine!" Janitor squeals.  But Elliott gets the idea of breaking the ocarina.  Janitor disappears, and the two missing kids come back to life: a boy (Jhomer Suyom) and a girl..  They become Elliott's friends and help him thwart bullies through insults rather than physical pain.  The school also gets a new principal.

Narrator: "And eventually that boy became an old man, and his memories became stories bound in a dusty book."  Huh?  Not on Amazon Kindle?  But the witch never forgot about him -- as she appears at the window.

Two sentences appear on the final screen: "I don't have many friends.  That's why I keep them in the basement."

Ok, I get it.  The story is an elaboration of the "two sentences."

Beefcake: None

LGBT Representation: Rather an old-fashioned view of the LGBT person as a perpetual vicitm and outcast, living in constant pain.  

Plot Twists: Janitor (Janet Kidder) apparently adopted a masculine presentation on purpose, so audiences would think she was a victim of an anti-gay or anti-trans hate crime.  I was surprised when she turned out to be evil.

My Grade: B-

Feb 25, 2021

The Top 12 Greek Myth Mash-Ups of "Atlantis"

In the first episode of Atlantis, (2013-2015), Jason (Jack Donnelly) goes off in a submarine to search for his missing father, and ends up in ancient Atlantis (fortunately, an English-speaking Atlantis), where he tries to discover the mystery of his parentage and learns that he is the Chosen One.  But don't worry about that; this is mostly a series about Jason taking his shirt off and encountering the "Greek myth of the week," along with his companions, the boozing, brawling Hercules (yes, that Hercules) and the meek polymath Pythagoras (yes, that Pythagoras). 

Atlantis starts out as ancient Crete, ruled by the tyrannical King Minos, power-hungry Queen Pasiphae, and their daughter Ariadne: The first adventure is "Theseus and the Minotaur," with Jason playing Theseus.  But then it becomes an ordinary Greek city-state, surrounded by desert or forest, depending on the episode, visited by dozens of figures from Greek mythology and literature.

You may expect that, knowing how the stories turn out, Jason would be at an advantage, but after a few episodes the writers forget that he is from the 21st Century,. They are busy going through the index of Edith Hamilton's Mythology and having every mythological and literary figure they can find drop by for a visit.

Here are the top 12 mash-up myths.

1. Hercules dates Medusa before she gets that snake-hair curse.  There's no Perseus to cut off her head, though.

2. Daedalus (Robert Lindsay) and his son Icarus (Joseph Timms, right)  are just regular inventors; there is no "flying too close to the sun."  Icarus, in fact, starts dating Pythagoras (on the sly; the writers keep them both closeted until the last scene of the last episode, lest homophobic audiences turn off the show).

3. Orpheus (Ronald Pickup) is a seer who loses Eurydice to a zombie plague.  But he doesn't go to the underworld to fetch her.  He's also not attractive enough to be torn apart by Maenids.

4. Pandora's Box pops up as a magical tailsman.

5.  Telamon  (Clive Standen, left) doesn't help Jason hunt for the Golden Fleece or hunt the Calydonian Boar.  Here he is an enemy who is working with Queen Pasiphae to take over the throne.

6. Medea doesn't help Jason acquire the Golden Fleece (strangely, even though his name is Jason, there are no Argonauts here).  She's an enemy who works with the exiled Queen Pasiphae to try to conquer Atlantis.

7. Circe doesn't turn men into pigs, but she is a powerful soceress, encountered by Jason instead of Odysseus.

8. Nestor (Sam Swainsbury, left), a hero of the Trojan War, becomes a hero on Jason and Ariadne's team.

9. Cassandra is still an oracle who predicts doom, but for Atlantis, not Troy.

10. Laius (Tristan Gemmill, left) and Jocasta drop by with the infant Oedipus, who is saved by Jason and company (but won't get around to killing his father and marrying his mother for about 20 years).

11. Leonidas (Phillip Correia), a hero of the real-life Persian Wars, is now a hero of the Atlantis Wars.

12. Real=life poet Alcaeus (Louis Maskell) is still a poet.

David Soul

David Soul never quite made it as a teen idol.  Maybe because he wasn't visible enough.  He appeared on The Merv Griffin Show in 1966-67 wearing a mask (so people would like him for his music, not his face).

He appeared in a 1967 episode of Star Trek, but in alien makeup that made him unrecognizable.

He appeared on the beefcake-heavy Western Here Come the Brides (1968-70), but his star was almost completely overshadowed by Bobby Sherman.

But he did fine as an adult actor.  In Starsky and Hutch (1975-79), he played the shy, intellectual, gay-coded Detective Hutch to Paul-Michael Glaser's tough, streetwise Detective Starsky.

The duo was explicitly a romantic couple, not shy about displays of physical affection, openly stating that they loved each other.  Producer Aaron Spelling called it "tv's first heterosexual love affair."  And although they investigated the usual 1970s crimes involving strippers, call girls, and various women with large breasts, there were very few girlfriends introduced to distract them from their buddy-bonding.  
Of course, there was also lots of homophobia.  Gay-themed episodes of 1970s sitcoms usually involved a visiting high school buddy announcing that he's gay, but drama series always had a gay murder victim, and in order to investigate, the detectives had to enter  his sleazy underworld, full of pomaded misfits who simper and leer at each other.

During Starsky and Hutch, David found his singing career taking off.  His "Don't Give Up on Us" hit #1 on the charts in the U.S. and in Britain.  Unfortunately, his songs tended to be heterosexist.    In "Silver Lady," which hit #1 in Britain, he's a drifter until he finds salvation in the lady's arms.

He also found time to fall in love with Lance Kerwin in Salem's Lot (1979).

Currently a British citizen, David  does a lot of acting on stage and in film.  He is careful to point out that he is not gay in real life; however, he is a strong supporter of gay rights.

The New "Are You Afraid of the Dark": Are They Afraid of Beefcake?

Everything old is new again on Nickelodeon.  The venerable children's network is brushing off several long-lost shows and giving them a 2019 treatment:
All That
That's So Raven
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers

And most recently, Are You Afraid of the Dark, the anthology series that aired from 1990 to 1996: in each episode, the Midnight Society gathers to hear a ghost or paranormal story recited by a member, and acted out for us. 

I didn't care for it.  We learn almost nothing about the lives of the Midnight Society members.  They gather, exchange a few words, tell the story, and "the end."  It would have been much more effective if the stories had some connection to their real-life problems. 

But I had to admit, the actors were photogenic:  intellectual group leader Ross Hull, bad boy Jason Alisharan, nerd Nathaniel Moreau, and my personal favorite, the massively gorgeous Daniel DeSanto.

The reboot, a three part miniseries premiering in October 2019, breaks the cardinal rule of the old series:  the paranormal events are just stories, not real. 

Now they are.

New girl on the block Rachel (Lyliana Wray),who is having mysterious, disturbing dreams, shows up at school, where both the geek Gavin (Sam Ashe Arnold, top photo) and the geekier Graham (Jeremy Ray Taylor, left) hit on her. 

They invite her to a meeting of the Midnight Society, which apparently has only four members.  The other two are girls, Akiko and Louise.

Rachel tells her story, about a sinister carnival that rolls into town, and a manager, Mr. Tophat (Rafael Casal), who steals kids' souls (apparently she's been reading Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes).

To their surprise, a sinister carnival does roll into town, and the Midnight Society must fight real paranormal peril.

As you may have noticed, the miniseries is rather beefcake-deficient:  only two boys, neither likely teen idol material.

I did find Brandon Routh down the cast list as "Mysterious Handsome Man."

So who's looking at his face?

And since personal lives of the original Midnight Society were absent, it was easy to read them as gay.  Not here: the two male Midnight Society boys are aggressively heterosexual.

I give it a C-.

See also: Are You Afraid of the Dark?>

Feb 24, 2021

"The Crew": Behind the Scenes in a Race Car Crew, With Two Gay Teases


Amazon Prime's "Movies We Think You'll LIke" this morning is absolutely disgusting.  Not only "winning hte girl of your dreams" plots, but the icons are all about breasts.  What algorithym could possibly get the idea that a 60-year old gay guy with absolutely no interest in women would want to watch "Sex, Guaranteed" (breasts and three guys) or "The In-Betweeners" (guys staring at breasts) or "State Park" (naked woman leading a group) or "Sorceress" (Franzetta lady butt)  Or "Chick Fight" (chicks fighting) or "Use Me" (girl in lingerie) or "100 Girls."  Help!

In desperation I moved to Netflix and clicked on the first icon that showed a cute guy: The Crew.  No idea what it is about -- maybe the flight crew on an airplane? 

Scene 1:  No, it's the crew of a race car (the people who perform maintenance,  I guess).  Will this be comprehensible to someone who has never seen a race?

 Standing beside a pile of tires, Bear tries to instruct Jake the Hunk, apparently the driver, on what to do next, but Jake is busy listening to some "sick" tunes. Generational clash?  They get into a fight, while the rest of the crew watches.  Then the National Anthem starts, and they drop everything.

Scene 2: Establishing shots of a race track.  NASCAR is prominently displayed.  I don't know what that is.  Bear and three other crew members watch the race from a booth.  "We've had some bad races," Bear tells them, "But that will all change today."  Whoops, their car is immediately disqualified.

Scene 3:
They're all preparing for Bobby's 70th birthday party with gifts: squirrel sausage, a statue of a cowboy, two tickets to Hamilton.  Bear got him the best gift: the first car he ever won a race in.   Suddenly Love Interest -- um, I mean Katherine, Bobby's adult daughter, appears. 

 Introductions all around: Bear is actually named Kevin; Jake the driver; Beth the snarky office manager; Chuck the grizzled black guy who hunts squirrels; Amir the nerdish engineer; and about 30 background players.  Amir is the one who likes musical theater.  He must be gay..

Kevin is played by Kevin James, whom I've never seen in anything but recognize from movie trailers, much hotter as a bald, bearded, bear.

Bobby,  Rich Texan from The Simpson, a white-bearded cowboy, arrives and announces that he is retiring.  Love Interest...um, I mean Katherine..will take over the company, becoming Kevin the Bear's boss.  

Scene 4: Kevin the Bear goes to Bobby's office to complain.  Bobby can't retire -- he single-handedly built the sport of racing!  Katherine can't take over!  She has no experience!  And she's a...she has no experience!

Scene 5: Kevin the Bear's office.  Snarky Beth enters with dish about Katherine: at ler last job, she fired everyone and got a whole new staff.  What if she fires all of the crew?  Kevin has a girlfriend that he hasn't told Beth about, for some reason.  He suggests that "all four of us" get together that night.  

He drops the pronouns for Beth's partner?  Maybe she's a lesbian.

Scene 6:
Kevin gives Katherine a tour of the facilty: accounting, marketing (racers have marketing departments?), the floor where all the mechanical stuff takes place.  Uh-oh, a reference to Amir's wife.  An effeminate heterosexual. Gay tease demolished.

They haven't had a win in four years, and they haven't even been in the top ten most of the time. Katherine throws around some stats indicating that the team is not performing well.  "I don't want to fire anyone, but I'll do what I have to do to win."

Scene 7: Kevin the Bear and Beth at the bar, playing darts and waiting for their dates to arrive (Beth's partner is Frank --another gay hint demolished!). Jake the Driver calls.  It's an emergency!

Scene 8: Back at the garage.  Jake found a photo of Katherine having lunch with another driver -- gulp!  If he's fired, he will be unable to get another race car driver job, so he is going to quit instead. 

Katherine arrives.  It's true -- she's giving his seat to the other driver.   They argue.  Katherine agrees to let the two drivers race to see who gets the seat: fastest lap wins. 

Scene 9:  The "taking off the helmet to reveal that you're a woman" thing.  Jesse the Other Driver finishes in 28 seconds, 161 miles per hour (off camera).  Jake beats her by one second, but then crashes.  So he gets to keep his job.

Scene 10:  Whoops, they forgot their dates at the bar.  Kevin's girlfriend shows up to dump him.

Scene 11: Kevin and Beth discuss his breakup. She says that he should hold out for someone who loves racing as much as he does.  The end. Uh-oh, Beth is obviously in love with him, so this is boing to be a "Betty or Veronica" thing.

Several hot guys, but nothing comes off.  This scene is not in the first episode.

Gay Characters: Two gay teases demolished.  In a later episode, Jake reveals "a secret,"  but he was flirting with the female driver, so I doubt that being gay is the secret.

Heterosexism: Kevin's love life will be prominent as he tries to decide between Katherine and Beth.

Racing: This is completely different from what I thought racing was about: much more complex, with the driver playing only a small role.    It was rather interesting to peek into an alien world.  But I still don't know what NASCAR is.

Will I Keep Watching: Maybe the "Jake's Secret" episode.

Feb 23, 2021

"Thus Spake Kishibi Rohan": A Boytoy with Magical Powers in Japan or France


I don't usually watch anime.  The visual iconography is too hard to understand, and there are too many references to other other animes and mangas from 50 years ago.  For instance, take Thus Spoke Kishibi Rohan.  Am I supposed to know who Kishibi Rohan is?  Is the title a reference to NIetzche or to 2001: A Space Oddysey?    And shouldn't it be "Thus Spake Kishbi Rohan"?

But check out the Netflix icon, and tell me you wouldn't immediately drop everything click on "Play"!

Scene 1:
 The Cafe de Maigot in Paris.  High school student Koichi Hiroshi, who has green hair and dresses in a futuristic dystopian outfit, is going to Italy for spring break, so he asks Kishibi Rohan to write that he speaks Italian in the Heaven's Gate.  

Instead, Rohan tells him the story of how he visited Italy, and and to stop writing manga due to a terrible experience with HIM.

Isn't Heaven's Gate the cult that committed suicide in the 1990s?  Here it seems to be a magic box that grants wishes.  And when Rohan goes to Italy, a line is drawn across a map from Japan.  Are they in Japan or France?  I'm already lost.

Opening Credits: "Episode 16: The Confessional."  I check to see if I clicked on the wrong episode by mistake, and everything is explained earlier.  Nope, this is Episode 1, just called Episode 16 to be artsy.

Scene 2
: The story,.  Rohan is a muscular yet androgynous young man in a futuristic male stripper outfit, with dangly earrings, a bare midriff, and a ginormous bulge.  In Venice to conduct research for his new manga series, he stops into an old church.  He sits in the priest's side of a confessional booth, to get a feel for it. Uh-oh: someone thinks he is a priest and comes in to confess!  

Most people would explain that there's been a mistake and high-tail out of there to avoid disrespecting religious beliefs, but Rohan doesn't care about that.  He decides to listen to the confession.  

Scene 3:
The confession.  Redhead, wearing a futuristic worker's uniform with bare arms and a ginormous bulge but no dangly earrings, is 24 years old, working at a food market, "doing manual labor, too busy to meet girls."  

One day or night a homeless man with a third eye approaches  and asks for food (Redhead says it's night, but his "lunch" is sitting out).

Redhead yells at him for being lazy and forces him to unload bags of corn first. Finally Homeless Guy collapses and dies, after issuing a curse: "I'll come back at the happiest time of your life and destroy you!"

Scene 4: After that, Redhead has a stroke of luck: he inherits money, wins money in a lottery, invents Corn Flakes (wait -- wasn't that J.P. Kellog?), and becomes a billionaire.  He marries a supermodel.  They have a daughter.  

One day they are walking in a piazza, when Daughter's tongue turns into Homeless Guy.  It is time to die, but he'll give Redhead a chance: "Throw a piece of popcorn in the air and catch it with your mouth.  If you can do it three times, I'll leave you alone.  Otherwise I'll kill you."

Let me get this straight.  Not a sword fight, or a series of cosmic riddles.  A popcorn catching contest.

We watch the complete contest.  Redhead loses the third kernel in the sun, and Homeless Guy chops his head off and leaves.

Scene 5:
Back to the confessional booth.  Is Rohan talking to a ghost?  Redhead explains that he was so worried about Homeless Guy's curse that he paid a servant to get plastic surgery and impersonate him, and that's who died.  (Faced with a vengeful tongue, wouldn't the imposter give in and say "Look, you got the wrong guy?).    

Suddenly Servant appears at the church and issues Redhead yet another curse: "At the happiest moment of your daughter's life, I'll come and kill you."  Oh, and Homeless Guy is angry about the trick, and wants revenge of his own.

Scene 6:
Back to the sidewalk cafe, in France or Japan.  Remember, this has all been a cautionary tale to convince Hiroshi to study Italian the old-fashioned way instead of depending on Heaven's Gate.  But I don't see how. Neither Rohan nor Redhead misused magic. 

Two other people have joined them: a young woman and a swishy middle-aged man with dollar signs and  "Billion" on his futuristic dystopia outfit (shouldn't that be yen or Euro signs and milliard or 十億?)  He orders bubbly milk tea, which I assume is a feminine-coded beverage.

The two newcomers don't believe that Rohan encountered vengeful ghosts. It was probably "a run-in with some Stand users."    

Rohan tells them that he plans to return to Venice, to track down Redhead.  He's evil, but you have to admire his resilience.  The end.

I checked: this is a self-contained story, not part of a story arc.  In the next episode, Rohan goes on to a new adventure.

These people obviously have previous relationships, and refer to things like Heaven's Gate and the Stand without explanation, as if the audience is already familiar with them.  It's like picking up a DC or Marvel Comic: We're in the middle of a story that began two years ago in another title, with a crossover from Issue #118 of a third title and a back story last mentioned in 1986!"

Internet research:

"The Stand" is a means of channeling one's spiritual energy to make changes in the physical world (so, magic?).  Rohan's Stand, "Heaven's Gate," allows him to rewrite people's lives; for instance, "Hiroshi has always been fluent in Italian."

Rohan and his sidekick Hiroshi starred in the manga Diamonds are Unbreakable, which is somehow connected to  Jojo's Bizarre Adventures (1987-2004)Chapters 318-439.  They later appeared in a series of one-shots, Thus Spoke Kishibi Rohan, (1997-2013) which are numbered, in chronological order, 16, 2, 5, 6, 4, 7, 8, plus the unnumbered "Rohan Goes to Gucchi."  Some were collected in Under Execution Under Jailbreak in 1999. Another one-shot, "Rohan at the Louvre," appeared in the collection The Louvre Invites the Comics.  

Whew.  So the animators don't bother with plot exposition because they assume that you have spent the last 30 years with the characters, reading dozens of issues of three different manga series. 

At least the guys are pleasantly muscular (although not nearly as buffed as the cover icon), and no one but Redhead displays any heterosexual interest. 

Feb 22, 2021

"My Dead Ex Boyfriend", aka "I Was a Teenage Zombie"


My Dead Ex-Boyfriend
, on Netflix, sounds like one of those classic 1960s "my secret" sitcoms, where a "normal" has to hide a magical being -- genie, ghost, witch, or Martian -- from the outside world.  So I tune in.

Turns out that:

1. This is set in high school.  Ben (Ryan Lee) has asked out Charley (Katherine Hughes) a bazillion times, but she finds him repugnant.  Her lesbian friend Wren (Medalion Rahimi) calls him "shit on your shoe."  I don't know why -- he's cute, he seems nice, and when she finally agrees ("just coffee, and then you never ask me out again"), the date turns out to be gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches by candlelight.  Fun!

It's harassment to continually to importune someone who has made their rejection clear, but it's not Ben's fault: back in fourth grade, when they were dating, an old woman gave them two pendants guaranteed to make them "fall in love."  Ben is still wearing his, but Charley put hers away in a box.

The pendant has more magical powers: when Ben is killed during an attempt to take a selfie, it brings him back to life.

2. But Ben has no ghostly powers.  He can't  turn invisible or walk through walls.  He eats, sleeps, and goes to the bathroom.  Presumably he can't be killed, since he's already dead, and he won't get any older, but in every other way he is fully human.  

The problem: he has to stay within 30 feet of Charley at all times, for the rest of her life.  If he stays away for more than an hour or two, his body will start to decay.  

3. And it's not a secret: they tell the world.  Reporters clamor to interview the Boy Who Lived. The parents negotiate about where Charlie and Ben will be staying.  The school hires an escort to defend the students if Ben turns into a Walking Dead-type zombie.

I fast-forwarded through a few episodes.  Most of the plotlines seem to be about Ben adjusting to being undead and Charley trying to continue her ordinary high school life.  Ryan Malaty (top photo) plays her crush, Luke.   Of course you know who she is going to end up with.

 Lesbian friend gets a plot arc about her crush on a conservative Republican girl. 

There don't seem to be any gay male characters.  At the school dance, the  cop hired to be Ben's escort (Sarkis Ninos) seems to be flirting with the Principal: "Are you single?  Me, too.  Do you live in a...house?  I love houses."  But I think he is just being annoying.

Some big surprises in the last episode.

My grade: C.  I wanted Ben to have magical powers.

Bomba the Jungle Boy

Johnny Sheffield began playing Boy, adopted son to Johnny Weissmuller's iconic Tarzan, in 1939, when he eight years old, and finished in 1947, when he had grown bigger, taller, and far more muscular than his movie Dad and could hardly be called a "Boy" anymore.

A couple of years later, he started on a series of 12 Bomba the Jungle Boy movies (1949-55), ostensibly based on the series of boys' adventure novels, but really about a teenage Tarzan -- Bomba borrowed Weissmuller's trademark loincloth and "Me Tarzan" patois, and the short-lived comic book spin-off was subtitled "TV's Teenage Jungle Star."

The Bomba movies, which I saw on tv during the rare Saturday afternoons in the 1960s that didn't have a game or a repeat of The Magic Sword, seemed to have the same plot, with minor variations.

Bomba is summoned by a scientist or colonial administrator, who tells him about the bad guys and introduces his attractive teenage niece, visiting from America. Bomba and niece flirt.  Bomba is captured by the bad guys, but escapes.  The niece is captured, but Bomba rescues her and defeats the bad guys.  The niece goes back to America. Bomba goes back to the jungle.

The 30 or so minutes of action was turned into a feature-length movie through some stock footage of African wildlife and 20-30 minutes of close-ups of Johnny Sheffield's body.

When Bomba takes a nap, we don't get an establishing shot and then a switch to the next scene: the camera slowly travels down the length of his body for a good five minutes.

When he is tied up by the bad guys, he struggles with his bonds for the amount of time it takes the cameraman to go down to the commisary for a sandwich.

When he goes back into the jungle, he climbs a tree, and the camera obligingly zooms in on his semi-nude butt.

This wasn't an accident of direction or editing.  It was obvious that the African adventure and the heterosexist boy-meets-girl romance were just window dressing; the entire point of the movie was to put Johnny Sheffield on display as often as possible, for as long as possible.

Not that the audience, comprised primarily of preteen gay boys and straight girls, was complaining.  They could think of lots worse ways to spend a dull Saturday afternoon than gazing at Johnny Sheffield.

He influenced a generation of muscular, semi-nude jungle boys, such as Gunga on Andy's Gang and Terry on Maya

After Bomba, Johnny filmed a tv pilot called Bantu the Zebra Boy, which is available on youtube.  He then went to UCLA, got a degree in business, and had a successfully fully-clothed career in real estate.  But was always happy to chat with his fans, gay or straight -- Johnny was refreshingly gay-friendly for someone of  his generation.

There's a gay celebrity story about him on Tales of West Hollywood, but it might be apocryphal.

He died in 2010.

See also: Why is Bomba the Jungle Boy always tied up?

Feb 21, 2021

Was Elisa Lam Gay?


The Elisa Lam case has some undeniable fascination.  In January 2013, a 21 year old Canadian college student on a tour of California checks into the sleazy Hotel Cecil in downtown L.A. (why would anyone who knows anything about Los Angeles stay anywhere near downtown?).  She vanishes.  

Two weeks later, her body is discovered in a water tank on the hotel roof.  The only way to get there is through a door that will ring an alarm, or up a fire escape on the outside of the building.  In the middle of the night?

And the tank access lid was closed.  Elisa would not have been able to close it after jumping in.  Obviously someone was with her, helping or forcing her into the tank.

Then there's the security footage of Elisa in an elevator, crouching, pushing all of the buttons, making weird hand gestures, looking around as if she is waiting for someone, apparently talking to someone.  Who was with her?

The video went viral on the internet, with wild, crazy speculation.  She was playing a Korean game where, if you push elevator buttons in the proper order, you end up in a parallel world.  She was re-enacting (or being forced to re-enact) the plot of an old horror movie about a haunted hotel.  A ghost was holding the elevator doors open.

The bloated Netflix miniseries Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel plays up all the speculation, and adds some of its own.  Why did the police searching the hotel not check in the water tanks?  It took guests complaining that the water tasted funny for a staff member to think to take a look.  Why did the autopsy report take so long?  Were the police involved in a cover-up?  What about Morbid, a death-metal musician who stayed at the Cecil -- could he be the murderer?  What about the two men who delivered a mysterious package to Elisa the day before she disappeared -- could they be involved?

There are a lot of closeups of people's hands on keyboards, a lot of interviews with people who weren't involved in any way ("Yeah, we stayed at the Cecil two years before Elisa did.  It wasn't very nice"), and a lot of set-pieces about unrelated incidents at the Cecil (two serial killers stayed there...not at the same time as Elisa...and no hotel guests were victims..but still...).  Strangely, there are no interviews with Elisa's family or friends.  

The series waits for the last 10 minutes of the last episode to reveal that Elisa was bipolar, and had the habit of not taking her medication, which resulted in psychotic episodes where she thought people were trying to kill her.  She had been exhibiting bizarre behavior during her entire stay at the hotel.  On the night she died, she was probably fleeing from an imaginary assailant.  She climbed onto the roof, thought the water tank would be a good place to hide, climbed in, was unable to get out again, and drowned.  

The closed hatch? Probably a staff member noticed it the next day, and closed it without checking for a body at the bottom.

The elevator?  Elisa accidentally pushed the "stop elevator" button, got frustrated when the elevator wouldn't move, looked around for someone to help, and talked to herself before giving up.

The mysterous delivery? Some books she bought earlier that day.

Morbid?  Not even in the country at the time.

The four hours of wild speculation are not only annoying, they do Elisa a disservice, making her mental illness a "dirty secret."  And having to postpone it to the big reveal means that we learn nothing about her life before the visit to Los Angeles.  We learn nothing about her family and friends.  

 I assumed that the absence meant that Elisa was gay, and skittish producers closeted her.  But an internet search reveals several photographs of Elisa in chummy poses with male friends.  Buddies, or romantic partners?  It would be nice to know.

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