Oct 29, 2021

"Fairfax": Woke Teens Strive to Become Influencers on Fairfax Avenue


The animated series Fairfax, on Amazon Prime, caught my attention because Fairfax Boulevard is traditionally the eastern edge of West Hollywood.  According to the trailer, it's about four 13-year olds, one of whom is so woke that she protests the milking of almonds. No doubt one of them is gay.

Scene 1: A futuristic totalitarian factory making t-shirts for the Latrine Company. The caped supervillain boss decides that the next Latrine t-shirt will feature Dr. Phil, the conservative talk show host, and suddenly everyone on Earth gets the ads on their screens.  Did I accidentally click on the wrong series?

No, we switch to Benny (Peter S. Kim), a chubby boy with traditional Korean parents, seeing the ads, getting all excited, and calling his friends to a special meeting.  

Meanwhile the woke Derica is protesting "milking almonds" at a supermarket.  She gets the word and kayaks down the Los Angeles river to the meeting.  (Ok, this is not our West Hollywood).

Teen dream Truman (Jaboukie Young-White, top photo) is photographing a middle-aged lady for her Tinder profile when he gets the word.  She flirts with him, but he reminds her that he's only 13.

Scene 2: The line outside the Latrine Store extends for blocks, all the way to the Fairfax Sign (this is not our West Hollywood).  A chubby man who got his t-shirt early taunts them.  A pigeon is congratulated by his friend for getting his t-shirt. 

Meanwhile timid Dale (Skyler Gisondo) is cowering in the back seat while his parents drive him onto Fairfax Avenue.  They've moved to West Hollywood to take over his uncle's vape store.  He worries that he won't fit in among the cool kids, but his parents point out that he is cool: he was president of the hiking club.

Scene 3:  While his parents unpack, Dale wanders past the Latrine Store, and is amazed: it has a skating ramp, multicolored shoes, and fluorescent mannikins.  The old guy from Scene 2 offers him $50 for his hat, and they go into the alley to make the deal.  Is he actually suggesting sex? That's inappropriate in a cartoon! 

Whew, he really just wants the hat.  The other three kids come to the rescue by pointing out that those hats go for $200.  

Scene 4: The others are shocked that Dale is not making an ironic statement: he actually is Middle American normalcore.  They take him to Schwimmer's Deli (Canter's?), where everything is second-rate and over-priced, to explain the grooviness of Latrine: the more absurdly overpriced Latrine products you display, the more "likes" you get on social media, and you're on your way to becoming an Influencer, and then all your dreams come true: You can push your Dad out of an airplane (Benny), direct a movie starring two women I've never heard of (Truman), or save the ecosystem with Greta Thunberg (Derica).

But how can they get one of the t-shirts?  They're sold out!  Dale comes to the rescue: he saw the manager of Latrine hiding a t-shirt in the back room.  

Scene 5: They sneak into a facility where artists are painting a man green and sculpting fish, to meet with the Plug, aka Joaquin Phoenix (in West Hollywood you run into celebrities all the time).  He's busy lighting himself on fire, and doesn't have time to help them locate a t-shirt.

Scene 6: They kidnap the dog of Lucas, the store manager, to force him to hand over the spare t-shirt, but he recognizes them.  They try to send a drone in, but it's detected and exploded.  

Scene 7:
Dale bursts into the vape shop, exuberant over his new friends: Bennie "like the Wizard of Oz": Derica "i'm not sure if she identifies as a girl, but she could legit be president someday"; Truman, who's actually had sex with a girl.  He just needs to figure out how to get the t-shirt, so they will like him.

That night, Dale has a vision of Dr. Phil, the guy on the t-shirt, who advises him to "think outside the box."

Scene 8: Dale calls his friends to the vape shop and points out a ventilation duct that goes directly into Latrine, next door.  They could just climb through and steal the spare t-shirt.  They hesitate -- if they're caught, they'll be banned from Latrine, a fate worse than death -- but he talks them into it.  

After an exploding fart causes the ventilation duct to crash, they end up in a Latrine torture chamber, with flaming spikes, but Dale saves them.  Next, an Indiana Jones-style treasure chamber with the t-shirt...but it turns out to be a hologram, and they're caught!  Locked up in Latrine jail while security calls their parents.  They all blame Dale, and break up with him.

Scene 9: Their punishments: Derica is forced to go to church (Catholic mass, naturally).  Truman's camera is confiscated.  Benny has to practice his cello.  Dale just has to promise to never trespass again.  And by the way, Dad went over to introduce himself to the Latrine guys, and they gave him a free Dr. Phil t-shirt.

Dale excitedly calls his friends for a meeting, but they've already apologized (with emojis) for acting like bitches.  Anyway, it's been a day since the t-shirts dropped, so they're out of style, and worthless.  Now Latrine dog cones are in.

Beefcake:  No.  Dale takes his shirt off, but he's just a kid.

Gay Characters:
  I assume Derica is gay af.  She seems to be wearing a Philadelphia Pride flag, which is a traditional rainbow flag with additional black and brown stripes to include people of color.  But no one expresses any same-sex interest.

Heterosexism:  Truman dreams of making a movie with two babes, and he's had sex with a girl.  Presumably Dale is heterosexual, since he's impressed by Truman's sexploits.  Benny doesn't express any erotic or romantic interests.

Pedophilia Implications: 2.  But the middle-aged lady might not count, since she is attracted to Truman, but won't jump him until he turns 18.

Poop and Farts: 2.  One is a major plot point.

Incomprehensible Teen Slang: Lots

My Grade: B

Update: Second Episode, Scene 1: Dale goes to his new school and has a slow-motion, jaw-dropping, Girl of His Dreams moment.  Grr...... change that grade to F.

Oct 28, 2021

"The Man Who Killed Don Quixote": Killing Your Enjoyment of the Miguel Cervantes Classic


Everything you have been told about Miguel Cervantes' iconic novel Don Quixote is a heterosexist myth.  Don Quixote is not a hero, his quest is not to win the heart of Dulcinea del Toboso (the barmaid whom Don Quixote mistakes for a princess is not a love interest, and appears only briefly), and his relationship withi Sancho Panza has a decidedly homoromantic subtext.  

Modern adaptations, notably the execrable musical Man of La Mancha, usually make Don Quixote a heterosexual love story.  So I went into The Man Who Killed Don Quixote with low expectations.  But it got worse.  Much, much worse.

Ten years ago, director Toby Grumetti (Adam Driver) made a movie about Don Quixote in a village in rural Spain.  Today he's back in Spain filming a commercial.  While watching his old movie during sex with the Boss's wife (Strike 1), he gets the idea of looking up the stars.

The elderly Jauvier now believes that he really is Don Quixote.  He "recognizes" Toby as Sancho Panza, and due to plot complications, the two set out on a quest to find Angelica, who was in the earlier movie (Strike 2).  Now she's working as the sex companion of vodka mogul Alexei Miskin, so Toby wants to "save" her. 

Eventually Jauvier dies, and Toby becomes the new Don Quixote, with Angelica at his side as a female Sancho Panza (Strikes 3-9).  They took one of the great gay couples of literature, and turned them into a boy and a girl.  That's not just heterosexist, it's downright homophobic, literally erasing gay people from existence.

Plus there's an obnoxious Romani stereotype named The Gypsy, who may have mystical powers.

According to wikipedia, this movie spent 20 years in development, plagued by lawsuits, illness, budget problems, writing problems, premise changes, new directors, and multiple recasts.  Toby, for instance was cast with Robin Williams, Johnny Depp, Ewan MacGregor, and Jack O'Connell.  Couldn't they have just left Don Quixote alone?

Oct 27, 2021

An Astrological Guide for Broken Hearts: Can a Heterosexual Gay Guy Find Happiness with His Platonic Gal Pal?


Single girl looks for love with the help of a gay bff, who has no life of his own.  Sounds like the plot of 99% of romcoms, and now the Italian tv series, An Astrological Guide for Broken Hearts.  The astrology angle is unique; who pays attention to birth signs and natal charts anymore?  On the off chance that gay bff Tio finds love, or --- heaven forbid -- he decides that he's actually straight, and hooks up with single girl Alice, I tried watching Episode #5, "Leo."  But the flashing scenes made no sense, so I started at the beginning.

Scene 1: 
Establishing shot of Turin, Italy.  Alice reluctantly climbs out of bed and goes to the bathroom (we see her sitting on the toilet -- gross!).  Flashback to a guy named Carlo (Alberto Paradossi) showing her an engagement ring -- but it's not for her, it's for his girlfriend, withi whom he's having a baby.  Alice is incensed!  She ducks out of the party, but sees him proposing through the window.

Scene 2: Walking through the city with a bottle of booze, Alice calls her friend Paola (who is in bed with husband Sandro) to fume with jealousy.  Carlo is her ex, who didn't want any commitments when they were together, but is hot to settle down with the new girl Cristina.  She stops on a bridge to yell "Fuck Carlo and Cristina!"  

Scene 3:  At home, Alice watches romantic tv and eats popcorn and cries, then sits on the toilet (again!) and sends Cristina a text "Congratulations! I'm pissed."   When she wakes up in the morning, she sees a note on her board: "Important meeting 9:30!"  (Or you could put a reminder in your phone).  She rushes out into the rain (naturally), misses the bus, and finally arrives at the tv studio.  Cristina is her co-worker!  Of course.

She tries to sneak around Hot Guy (Michele Rosiello), but he sees her and asks "Are you new?"  No, she's worked there for a long time, but she's so mousy and shy that no one notices her (also, she sneaks around people).  They do some Sam-and-Diane "you're arrogant!" bickering.

Scene 4:  It's time for the Important Meeting, so Alice decides to paint her nails in the conference room?  Weird!  Various colorful characters arrive, including her ex Carlo and Hot Guy, who says "Don't mind me.  I'm just here to observe."  Uh-oh, she insulted a Network Suit.

The purpose of the meeting: To congratulate Carlo and Cristina on their upcoming birth (Alice fumes) and to announce that the series "Wake Up, Turin" has been cancelled.  But not to worry,  most of them will go to work on a new show -- if they pass the evaluations conducted by Hot Guy, Davide.  Uh-oh.

Scene 5: 
 Assuming that Hot Guy Davide is going to fire her, Alice rushes to the bathroom to sit on the toilet (third time in twelve minutes).  She starts a conversation with the guy in the next stall: Tio the Astrologer (Lorenzo Adorni), who is also an actor working on a soap opera at the studio.  She doesn't believe in "that bullshit," but she's willing to flirt with him.  

Scene 6:  Alice's Ex Carlo invites her to brunch with Cristina, to discuss the "I'm pissed" text.  No way!  Tio swoops in to rescue her with "she's already committed to a brunch with me, to discuss my part on the show."  Alice has nothing to do with that show, but ok...

At brunch,  while the two flirt and moon over each other, Tio explains that all Libras are involved in tricky situations this month because Saturn (difficulty) is retrograde and Venus (love) is down.  But she can save face by claiming that she meant "I'm pissed that I missed the big moment."  I  could have suggested that without astrology.

Surprise!  Alice turns out to be an astrology buff: "I can't date a Scorpio, with his opposing Saturn!"  

Scene 7: Alice calls her parents to see if she can move back home after she loses her job and can't afford to pay her rent (after ten years, you're still living paycheck to paycheck?).   Nope, they turned her room into a sculpture studio, and by the way, come and get your stuff or we'll throw it out, and congratulate Carlo for us!

Scene 8:  Alice meets her friend Paola (from Scene 2) at a bar.  Turns out that Paola is an astrology buff, too.  They discuss sun signs and the hotness of Tio.  When is he going to turn into the gay bff?  Right now Alice acts like he's the hunkiest hunk who ever over-filled a Speedo!  

"Girl, it's been two years since Carlo dumped you," Paola says.  "Time to move on. Time to get fabulous and fierce!" Those are drag queen terms.  "Let the world know who you really are!"  She's going to come out as a lesbian?

They meet Paola's coworker Luca, who just got dumped by his girlfriend. Cute, but he's not interested.

Scene 9: Alice driving through Turin, dancing (while driving, which looks very dangerous) and flirting with a passing motorcyclist.  Wait -- if she has a car, why did she take a bus to work?  Whoops, the motorcyclist was Hot Guy Davide!  Humiliated, she sneaks into the office. 

Uh-oh, no one told the crew that they have two episodes of the talk show to shoot, and no guests!  Alice grabs one of the crew members to be interviewed about his LP collection, while Hot Guy Davide looks on with disapproval. 

Later, Tio texts her with her horoscope: "There's a possibility of a super-tempestuous romance today!"  She rushes to his dressing room, where he's in character as a Latin lover: "Hola, guapissima!"  (He's wearing a codpiece to produce a bulge.  Or is he just happy to see Alice?).

Scene 10: They have lunch and discuss the super-tempestuous romance.  Surely Tio meant with him?  Nope, he meant with Luca (Raniero Monaco Di Lapio, top photo), who texts on cue and asks for a date.  They discuss the characteristics of the Aries man.  The end.

Beefcake: None.

Girls Sitting on Toilets: 3

Gay Characters:   In the original novel, Tio is gay, and I sssumed that he was gay here, too, because in the trailer he's wearing a flamboyant costume and giving Alice fashion tips.  But in this episode he's tongue-lolling, eye-bulging, absurdly heterosexual, and he and Alice approach each other as extremely hot-to-trot potential lovers, not as platonic friends.  Like Will and Grace, but more intense. In every scene they have together, one wonders how they can remember their lines when they're so obviously aroused.

Heterosexism:  All of the girls have boyfriends, except for Alice, who is miserable because she is single.

My Grade: D.

Oct 25, 2021

Fear Street Part 2: Don't Go Near a Summer Camp in 1978


This week's movie nights involved the Fear Street series, three movies based on the teen horror books by R. Stine. In the first, some teens discover that a witch named Sarah Fier (pronounced "fear"), who was killed in 1666, and ever since has cursed the town with constant economic depression and marital problems.  Plus every decade or so, someone "snaps" and kills lots of people.  Except this time, all of the previous killers return and chase It-Girl Sam (and everyone who has touched her blood).  Then, just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water, It-Girl Sam gets witch-possessed and starts snarling.  

In Part 2, the surviving duo seeks out C. Berman, who survived a "snap" attack at a summer camp in 1978.  The movie is a flashback to that day.

Two sisters are in their last year as campers: strait-laced, virginal, non-drug using (in 1978?), stick-in-the-mud brunette Cindy and wild child redhead Ziggy, who is hated by the other campers -- they literally try to burn her to death.  The response of head counselor Nick Goode (Ted Sutherland): threatening to kick Ziggy out of camp!

By the way, Nick's late father was the town's police chief, and he will follow in his footsteps by becoming sheriff.  Huh? Towns have police, counties have sheriffs; they're different.

One day the camp nurse goes beserk and attacks Tommy (McCabe Slye), Cindy's good, kind, nice, gentle, "doesn't mind if we don't do it") boyfriend. She is arrested, Tommy gets first aid, and all the adults leave.  Top photo: Someone whom Google Images identifies as Mccabe Slye.  If it's actually someone else, complain to Google, not to me.

Meanwhile, Cindy catches fellow counselor Alice having sex and doing drugs with her boyfriend, Arnie (Sam Brooks). Nice butt.

Left: a photo entitled "Sam Brooks on Twitter: Riding in a car with (mostly straight)..."  Warning: it may not be the guy from the movie.

They all search for clues to the nurse's beserk spell, and end up in "the devil's mark," vast labyrinth of tunnels that lead from the woods to the latrine and finally to the mess hall.  Either the witch created it herself in 1666, or it was created by her death.

Suddenly Tommy goes beserk, and kills Arnie and traps the two girls, Cindy and Alice, in the labyrinth.  They spend most of the movie there, trying to find a way out, while Tommy continues his rampage, killing several of the campers (he thankfully kills kids off camera).

Future town sheriff/police chief Nick and wild child Ziggy notice the body count, and yell for everyone to gather in the mess hall, and then get on a bus and drive away.  Unfortunately, it happens to be "color night,' a late-night "capture the flag" contest, and many of the kids think that the warning is a trick.

Amid all the uproar, Nick and Ziggy have time for a heart-to-heart talk and some smooching.

Left: A photo that Ted Sutherland posted to his instagram page.

Gary (Drew Scheid) gets sliced while trying to get all the campers to safety. Left: a photo that Drew Scheid posted to his instagram page.

When Ziggy and Cindy are reunited, they figure that, since Sara Fier's hand was cut off, if they reunite it with her body, she will be satisfied and leave them alone.  But they are mistaken; she sends a lot of her previous serial killers, who stab both girls multiple times.  

They both die, but Ziggy miraculously comes back to life when Nick administers CPR (who knew that CPR worked on stab wounds?).  But ever since, she has been afraid of the witch sending her serial killers to finish the job.  She is especially concerned with the hour of 7:00 pm, for some unexplained reason.

Some boys' chests and butts.  Boys die right away or are background slasher fodder, while girls take center stage.

Left: a photo from Michael Provost's instagram.  He plays Kurt, whom I don't remember.

Gay Characters: No.  Deena and Sam from the first movie are lesbians, but in 1978, it's boyfriends and girlfriends all the way down.

Changing the Rules:  First the killers ignore everyone but the target girl, and then they don't.  First the witch is upset over her grave being disturbed, then she's upset because her hand and body are separated, and then she's just upset.

Spoiler Alert: C. Berman is Ziggy, not Cindy!  I have no idea why they went through all the trouble of this psych-out.  Who cares?

My Grade: B.  Extra points for Sam Brook's butt.

See also: The Top 10 Hunks of Fear Street

1 Shirtless Picture of Michael J. Fox and 10 Pics of Other Guys

Other than "that character can't be gay! He said hello to a girl in Scene 12!", the most common complaint I get is "that photo isn't of the obscure actor you're writing about!"

I don't understand the problem.  Why get angry when I accidentally put in a photo of someone else? How does it hurt them?

It's not like I'm doing it on purpose to ruin their life.

I oftn have no idea what these obscure actors look like, so I'm flying blind.

They might look completely different over time and in different projects.

There may be only a few beefcake photos available, or none at all.

Besides, is it possible to enjoy the physique of someone else, or are you only attracted to that one obscure actor that no one has ever heard of?

I get most of my images from the internet, using Google Images as a search engine.  It is notoriously unreliable, constantly suggesting photos of other people.  But what's wrong with that?

Pretend for a moment that I'm writing about Michael J. Fox, the famous star of Family Ties, Back to the Future, Teen Wolf, Spin City, and so on, the first celebrity I met  when I moved to West  Hollywood.  Pretend that I don't know what he looks like, but you do.  Google Images suggests these photos to illustrate my text:

1. Robbie Benson, a teen idol of the 1980s.  I'm definitely sure that this is Robbie Benson, because I had that same photo hanging on my bedroom wall.

2. Some guy in a war movie with dogtags.  Looks like Charlie Sheen, who I think was in a war movie called full metal something.

3. No idea

4. I think he was in one of those Friday-night TGIF sitcoms, Full House or Raising Dad or something.

5. No idea.

6.  This looks like Kevin Bacon with a moustache in a white cowboy hat.  Did Kevin Bacon ever play a cowboy with a moustache?

7. Frank-n-Furter.  I definitely recognize this one.  It's probably the original Frank, Tim Curry, although I could be fooled by a recent roleplayer homage.

8. No idea.

9. William Gallo, who was doing Vinnie Barbarino clone things back in the 1980s  I know who it is because the poster is labeled "Teen Beat Hunk of the Month William Gallo," and it's probably correct.

10.  No idea.

10. The real Michael J. Fox.  I clicked on the original article, and it definitely states that this photo is of Michael J. Fox, although it's a blurry side shot, and he's about 20 years older than the last time I saw him, so I can't be sure.

  Is your life so terribly diminished by the ordeal of seeing nine other hot guys who  aren't Michael J. Fox?

9 Shirtless Pictures of Daniel Sharman, Probably

Someone identified Picture #5 on the list of random photos I got while searching for Michael J. Fox, star of Family Ties, Back to the Future, Teen Wolf, and Spin City.

"Daniel Sharman. The pic is from Teen Wolf, and he was also shirtless in Fear the Walking Dead."

Wow, he was shirtless in Teen Wolf in 1985, and then in Fear the Walking Dead in 2017?  He's got a great physique for someone in his fifties!

But the guy actually meant Teen Wolf, the tv series, which I've never seen. Daniel Sharman played Isaac Lahey, a student at Beacon Hill High School who leaves his abusive father, becomes a werewolf, and moves in with Derek, then Scott.  I don't know who those people are, but it sounds like he's gay or gay-coded.

Daniel was actually born in 1986, a year after the Teen Wolf movie premiered.  He grew up in London, performed with the Royal Shakespeare Company beginning at age 9, and got a classical theatrical training at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts.  With all that training,you'd expect him to stick to West End productions of Ibsen and Pinter

But you don't get 2.1 million Instagram followers with Pinter, so he went to Hollywood, where he starred in the indie Last Days of Edgar Harding (2011) and took off his shirt to play the Greek god Ares in The Immortals (2011).

When you've got a chest, no one cares that you played Prince Hal.

After minor roles in The Collection (horror) and When Calls the Heart (historical rom-com), Daniel moved directly into playing the shirtless (and sometimes naked) werewolf on Teen Wolf. (2012-2014) and its spin-off The Originals (2014-2015)

Then came a 16-episode story arc on Fear the Walking Dead (2017)  Daniel plays Troy Otto, the leader of a group of scavengers who drive trailers around the post-Apocalyptic zombie wasteland.  He doesn't get a girlfriend or express any heterosexual interest, and he seems to be hot for Nick (the post-drug addict who lives in a community in an old sports stadium).   I assumed that his character was gay (of course, fans screamed "No! No!  Impossible!  He's not wearing a sign!"

In Medici (2018-2019), Daniel played Lorenzo de Medici, the Renaissance statesman, diplomat, writer, bon vivant, patron of Michelangelo. The real Lorenzo was gay or bisexual.  The tv series seems to make him straight, although I heard that there are other gay characters.

In 2020 Daniel returned to England for Cursed, an Arthurian fantasy centered around Nimue (the one who trapped Merlin in a tree).  Here she is a "teenage sorceress" who teams up with Arthur ("a young mercenary") to deliver an ancient sword to Merlin.  Quite a revision!

Daniel plays The Weeping Monk.  He sounds like a minor character, but he actually gets fourth billing, after Nimue, Arthur, and Merlin.

Quite a lot of gay content.  At least, he's in a lot of tv series with gay characters, not necessarily his characters.  And he's straight in real life.

There are lots of shirtless, underwear, and nude pictures of Daniel Sharman on Google Images,but I'm running into the usual problem: I've only seen him in Fear the Walking Dead, and some of the photos don't look like the same person.  Does he have black or blond hair?

Straight or curly?

A slim  or muscular physique?

 6 inches or 9 inches?

See also: 1 Shirtless Picture of Michael J. Fox, and 10 of Other Guys
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