Last month, my cousin forwarded some movie information that he received from LA OutFest. Which surprised me since he lives in Madrid. Anyway, the e-mail described a Spanish gay movie that he thought might interest me. The premise was about three Spanish gay couples about to be married under the new law. However, the mishaps and miscommunications of their parents threatens to put a damper on the whole event. A lighthearted comedy that, he went on to tell me, was filmed before the law actually passed. Very interested, I found a theater showing it near my work and last night, my friend CS and I sunk into the semi-comfy theater chairs to enjoy the show.
Reinas (Queens) follows the stories of three couples in the few days before they are to wed in Spain's first official gay marriage ceremony. That is, until their mothers arrive and unintentionally throw wrenches into the works. Ofelia (Betiana Blum) arrives from Argentina -- along with her dog -- to watch as her son Oscar (Daniel Hedler) marries his partner Miguel (Unax Ugalde). Miguel's mother, Magda (Carmen Maura), operates the all-gay hotel in which the ceremony takes place and immediately takes a disliking to Ofelia and her dog, forcing them to move temporarily into their sons' apartment. Nuria (Veronica Fourqué) has a problem with sex -- she can't seem to get enough of it -- which leads to problems for her son Narciso (Paco Léon) because she sleeps with his fiancé Hugo (Gustavo Salmerón). Hugo's mother, Helena (Mercedes Sampietro), is a city official who wants no part of the wedding ceremony. However, when the original official collapses with a stroke, she is forced to preside at the ceremony. Jonas and Rafa (Hugo Silva and Raúl Jiménez, pictured) need to get their parents to meet outside of work: Rafa's mother Reyes (Marisa Paredes) is a famous actress whose son is about to marry the son of her gardener, Jacinto (Lluís Homar). Through a series of misadventures, accidental meetings and crossings of paths, these couples make a hilarious troubled trek to the altar that puts them at odds with their families but ultimately brings them closer together.
A great cast that seemed to have a lot of fun with the material. And that translated to the audience. We laughed, watching the troubles unfold, seeing who was sleeping with whom. No, the film didn't break any new ground, but it certainly made for an enjoyable time. Plus, hot Latin guys -- you can't go wrong with that.
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Monday, August 28, 2006
La Cultura de Los Angeles
The Boyfriend and I continued our anniversary festivites with a Saturday evening trip to Los Angeles for dinner and a show. As we drove North on the 710, my stomach grumbled as I'd only eaten a plum and an Ice Blended Chai from Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf so I asked where he would like to eat.
"I don't know. What are you in the mood for?"
"Oh, almost anything." I thought for a moment, "except Chinese. I had that for lunch Friday. What do you want?"
"I don't know." We pitched that back and forth as we sped from the 710 to the 5 to the 101, throwing out different food types -- burgers, Italian, our old stand-by the French Market -- until he mentioned Mexican food. "I know a little place in East L.A. that serves authentic Mexican food. La Parrilla, in a storefront along César Chavez."
"Is the food good?"
"It's one of my Mother's favorite restaurants." That cinched it for me and soon we pulled into the parking lot behind the restaurant, squeezing his Honda between some silver, two-door and a wide, beat-up pickup.
We entered the restaurant through the kitchen, passing through the baby-blue-with-pink-trim saloon doors along a small, thin hallway, into a narrow space crammed with tables, chairs, a flat stove sizzling with fresh-made corn tortillas. Green, white, and red crêpe paper hid the ceiling while pictures, newsclippings, placards and notices from Zagat's and the City of Los Angeles papered every inch of the walls. False eaves covered with adobe tiles and the store windows painted with black lines and curlicues to appear as wrought iron fencing gave the room an almost-outdoor feel as if we had walked into the courtyard of a Mexican house. The host said something in Spanish to The Boyfriend and lead us to a booth near the front of the room. The waitress placed a steel bowl with fresh corn chips on the table and asked The Boyfriend in Spanish what he wanted to drink. He answered in English, and I followed suit. She nodded and disappeared. I pointed to one item and asked if he tried the nopalitos because I was very tempted. However, knowing my stomach as well as I do, I decided to play it cautiously and chose the Milanesa Acapulco con pollo. (Think of it as chicken fried chicken with Spanish rice, charro beans and boiled potatoes.) The waitress took our order and that's when a notion took hold. I grew up in Southern California, visited Los Angeles hundreds of times. We were mere blocks from the Music Center, the Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Museum of Contemporary Art. But here, in this little restaurant in a store front in East Los Angeles, where almost no one openly spoke English, I was a foreigner. I almost mentioned it to The Boyfriend but realized how stupid I would sound. So I shelved the notion and enjoyed the delicious food set before us.
Leaving the cramped parking lot turned into quite an ordeal, with The Boyfriend maneuvering a 10-point turn without hitting the cars beside him or the one parked directly behind. With each successive forward backward forward spin the wheel backward, we burst into uncontrollable laughter which carried over to the lot attendant who stifled a grin as we finally left the lot.
A few lights from the restaurant, we turned, paid the $8 for parking and sauntered up the steps to the Music Center to see Water & Power the latest show from Culture Clash. Water & Power tells the story of twin brothers, nicknamed Water and Power by their father, who become powerful men in Los Angeles. Water works as a power-hungry State Senator; Power serves as a top-ranking police officer with the LAPD. With one bullet, Water and Power find themselves at the wrong end of a power struggle with the warring factions of Los Angeles. With a deft blend of film noir, hispanic and chicano history, mysticism and comedy, Culture Clash brings a uniquely Los Angeles story to the stage. Very intense and provocative with a riveting performance by Dakin Matthews as The Fixer -- a pseudo-gay, power broker who knows how to play all the gangs and politicians and police in Los Angeles to get what he wants. Lisa Peterson's excellent direction brings the modern day Greek tragedy to life. Ric Salinas, Richard Montoya and Herbert Siguenza (Culture Clash) all shine, bringing anger, pathos and humor to all their characters.
We hung around once the play ended to allow the almost-full theater to empty, and as we walked to the car, we noticed Dakin Matthews coming down the steps behind us and wished him well, telling him what a fantastic performance he gave. He thanked us, turned and walked down the hill toward Grand Ave.
Friday, August 25, 2006
First Line Friday
The answer to last week's First Line:
Total Eclipse of the Heart by Bonnie Tyler (and Nikki French and The Dan Band)
music/lyrics by Jim Steinman
Classic '80s song and a most definite guilty pleasure. Even the straight boys at The Dan Band concert last Friday raised their beer glasses and chimed in with their somewhat slurred voices. (Click on the song title above for the video featuring interesting images of young men in football uniforms, bathing suits and church choir outfits!)
In honor of my sweetie of a Boyfriend, I now present today's First Line....
Spring was never waiting for us, girl
It ran one step ahead
As we followed in the dance
Probably one of the most recognizable songs from Donna Summer (one of my Boyfriend's favorite singers. He has a sign decorated with rhinestones and whatnot proclaiming his love for her that he brings to each concert), her version reached #1 on the U.S. charts in 1978, becoming her first #1 single. The original, recorded by actor Richard Harris in 1968 and running for a staggering 7 minutes 20 seconds, reached the #2 spot in the U.S. and #4 in the U.K. ("Weird Al" even does a version on his Alapalooza album.)
Thursday, August 24, 2006
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
A Little Ray of Sunshine
Saturday evening, the Boyfriend and I caught the last matinee showing of Little Miss Sunshine. After a morning spent moving furniture, boxes and trash and helping my Grandma settle into her new home, we felt that a little bit of levity was needed to pick up my spirits.
Little Miss Sunshine follows the dysfunctional Hoover family as they travel from Albuquerque, New Mexico to the Little Miss Sunshine Pageant in Redondo Beach, CA. But before the travels begin, we meet each of the characters individually: Olive (Abigail Breslin) stands in front of a TV watching a taped beauty pageant, trying to imitate the women on the show; Sheryl (Toni Collette) frantically drives to the hospital to fetch her gay brother Frank (Steve Carell), the pre-eminent Proust scholar in the U.S. who just tried to kill himself because of his ex-lover; Dwayne (Paul Dano) silently lifts weights in his room, maintaining his vow of silence until he makes it into the Air Force Academy; Grandpa (Alan Arkin) snorts heroin in the Hoover's bathroom; and Richard (Greg Kinnear) tries to teach a small class about his nine steps for winners. They all converge on the Hoover household, sitting down to a dinner of fast food fried chicken, when a message left by Sheryl's sister turns this mismatched family upside down: Olive gets to compete in the Little Miss Sunshine Pageant happening in just a few days.
The family sets out for California in a ratty VW van. And, in a road movie to end all road movies, they suffer through one problem after another -- much to the delight of the audience. (One man laughed himself out of his seat during Richard's run-in with a motorcycle cop.) The smart script and deft performances from all the actors allow the audience to laugh at their antics but at the same time empathize with the trials of the Hoover family. Each character confronts his or her personal issues in unique and hysterical ways (such as trying to get a dead body out of the hospital) and comes out the better for it. There's so much that I want to say about the film, but doing so would give too much away. Definitely one of the best movies this year.
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
I awoke early Saturday morning and drove to The W to help with the rest of my Grandma's move. The majority of her clothes, smaller furniture, knick-knacks made the short trip from there to her new home earlier in the week, but my Mother and Aunt needed to clear the apartment by Sunday so they would not wind up paying another month's rent -- $4,500. By the time I arrived, all that remained were the bulkier items awaiting the Salvation Army truck: a sofa with the wheels coming off, two end tables with a matching coffee table, a heavy mahogany desk, some lamps and a king-sized headboard. Not to mention all the trash that still needed to be thrown into the dumpsters.
While my Mother and Aunt waited, I ran to the front desk and asked for a cart. All the woman could provide was a luggage cart from a hotel because the maintenance man was off for the weekend. So the heavy duty carts were locked in storage until Monday. I gladly took the cart and within minutes, we piled boxes of cracked plates, rusted frying pans, dead plants and a hoard of other items my Grandmother amasses over the years. I did manage to sneak two bone china bowls and a cut crystal decanter from the boxes before reaching the dumpster.
My Mother spotted the Salvation Army truck during our first trip to the dumpsters and directed them to the bottom of the building. I hurried back to the apartment to leave the cart, then followed the maze of hallways and elevators to where the truck waited. One of the divers propped the doors open and followed my Mother and me back to the apartment, trying to map the path along the way.
The two balked at what was waiting for them, decided that they couldn't take the headboard because it was too big, asking why we hadn't left anything at the curb, and phoned their "manager" to tell them that they would be delayed. The "manager" told him that if it were going to take more than five minutes per trip to get from the room to the truck, then the driver should use his judgment as to what to take. They weren't movers, after all, and they had a schedule to stick to. We think now that the two staged the call to get money for the delivery, which my Mother gladly paid just to clear out the place. (What's $20 compared to the $4,500 for another month's rent?) When the Manager of The W learned of what happened, she hit the ceiling, demanding a copy of the receipt and a full account of the events. Furious did not describe how angry red her face turned or how growling mad loud her voice became. She was going to give the Salvation Army a piece of her mind, after all the business she sends their way, to have their drivers pull a scam like this. We gave her the info and let her handle things, just happy to have the place emptied.
I thankfully left that place as fast as possible, following my Mother to my Grandma's new home -- a senior residence for Alzheimer's patients located in a neighborhood not far from my parents' house. The actual house surprised me. I wasn't expecting a house, thinking of something more along the lines of a small medical building. Her new place, though, was one of three large homes resting next to each other on a long street. In each of the homes lived no more than three residents (patients) and a live-in caregiver. All meals provided for. All laundry cleaned and hung in closets or folded into drawers by the caregivers. No locks on the interior doors. No private telephones. Each resident had his or her personal lounge chair in front of the TV.
We sat with Grandma in her room, talking about the move and where to put the rest of her furniture. She raved about the nice view of the golf course from the backyard patio and how she liked being able to see the sky and the trees instead of The W's courtyard with all those old people milling about. I stepped outside and admired the view, as well, mentioning how the valley tapered away and you could almost make out the Pacific. My Mother slowly went over the easier details of the move with her, holding onto Grandma's walker, looking out the window down at the carpet out the bedroom door, only looking directly at her once she'd finished. Her voice trembled everso slightly, enough for me to realize how she struggled to keep her composure.
Her lunch was almost ready so we didn't stay much longer. We hugged and kissed. She walked with us to the door and waved, steadied in her walker by the caregiver as he slowly closed the door.
Monday, August 21, 2006
Unclogging My Pipes
I made it home Friday evening with plenty of time to spare before the Boyfriend arrived for the concert. Time to tidy up, dust a little, vacuum a little, wash the dishes. So I ran the water in the kitchen sink to let it heat to skin-searing hot and notice that the water pooled instead of swirled. I locked up and hurried across the street to a neighborhood liquor store and paid for a bottle of Liquid Plumr®, half of which I poured into the sink. Waited fifteen minutes.
The pooled water now had a yellowish tint, smelling of a jacuzzi. Luckily, my Brother had pulled around to empty the back of his truck into the garage so I asked if he had a plunger. He disappeared into his house and soon emerged with the yellow-handled, black-rubber-headed tool and promptly plunged the heck out of my sink one two three times until the water circled and drained without incident. I let the hot water run for a time and thanked my Brother for his help.
I wiped the counter clean then hurried into the bathroom to freshen up. The semi-strong unpleasant stench of chlorine made me step back. I sniffed and followed the odor to my shower, and my face fell. Brown mud with black and white flakes that reeked of old food and Liquid Plumr® splayed across the floor of the shower like bird splatter on a car hood. I called my Brother in and together, we cleaned the shower, scoured it with hot water and Comet.
The Boyfriend knocked on my screen door moments after I changed shirts and laughed as I related the entire scene to him. We quickly got on the road, headed for the House of Blues.
The Dan Band had us laughing, signing and yelling just as they did back in April, but this time, they added a medley of "Don't Cha/My Humps/Milkshake" to their set. Nothing like watching three straight white boys singing about how sexy they are as they bend over reach a hand between their legs and run a hand down the sweaty pants ass crack. But the crowd went nuts and when they broke into their signature song (which I won't mention because of the First Line Friday), everyone sang along, raising their plastic cups of beer in tribute. We left with our calves in pain from all the standing and our stomachs grumbling for food.
Friday, August 18, 2006
First Line Friday
The answer to last week's First Line:
Eat It as recorded by "Weird Al" Yankovic
Music/lyrics by Michael Jackson, additional lyrics by "Weird Al" Yankovic
This parody earned him the first of his 3 Grammys and sent the album In 3-D to platinum status in the U.S. I'm always amazed at how closely he interprets the sound of each artist he parodies. His original songs are equally good and just as fun. The guy's a genius with an accordion! Check out his latest parody (which will not appear on an album in the near future) here or visit the official "Weird Al" Yankovic site for more information.
As for today's First Line, my Sweetie and I are going to the House of Blues in Downtown Disney tonight after work to see The Dan Band. A group of straight white guys performing songs normally sung by girl groups -- gotta love that! In honor of them, here's the next song....
Every now and then I get a little bit lonely
And you're never coming around
In 1983, Welsh singer Bonnie Tyler released the original version of the song which went directly to Number One and remained there for four consecutive weeks. One of the best things about the song was the gothic romantic video complete with her running down long dark hallways of a boys' school clad in a flowing white nightgown. Sexual tension? I wonder.... Nikki French performed a synth-pop-dance version in 1995, sometimes still played on K-BIG FM. The Dan Band's version first appeared in the 2003 hit comedy Old School with Will Farrell, Vince Vaughn and Luke Wilson and has since become the highlight of their concerts.
Well, back to work so I can leave a bit early for tonight!
Thursday, August 17, 2006
A Failed Southern Baptist
My Brother stopped by earlier this evening. He'd spent the day with our Parents and Grandma, moving her smaller items to the new group home, assigning the dozens of complete china sets and glasses into piles for either trash or the Goodwill, hauling her easy-lift chair and the new-ish bed to their new resting places.
"I thought she wasn't moving until Saturday."
"Well," he said, leaning against a doorjamb, "The W doesn't want the liability. The sooner she left that place, the better. So I drove down, moved a lot of stuff to the new place." He rested the knuckles of his left index and middle fingers against his waist, trying to be nonchalant about Grandma's move. "She has a master bedroom that's bigger than your entire house. With a small bathroom and sliding glass doors that open onto a small patio overlooking a golf course. While Mom, Dad and I moved her things, she talked and talked with some of the other residents."
Dad was supposed to call me tomorrow or Saturday to help with the move, and a little bit of sadness and jealousy crept across my face. "What's left to move?"
"Just her heavy stuff, dresser, couch, desk. She can't hang many of her pictures so Momand Dad have your drawing at their house." His right hand emerged from behind the doorjamb and handed me a piece of old paper. "Grandma wanted me to make sure you got this."
A dark blue cross planted inside a crown hung in midair above three rows of 5-6 year olds, shaded in varying degrees of blue and white. Thick bowl cuts of hair. Girls in polyester dresses; boys in striped t-shirts with matching Geranimal jeans. The once white border now sorely yellowed and lightly torn with age. Way in the back row, on the right side -- pale, chubby cheeked little me.
On June 8th, 1976, we graduated from Kindergarten at the First Southern Baptist Christian School. 30 years ago! And Grandma kept that certificate all these years.
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
My Father called this evening....
"The W* called. Your Grandmother pressed her emergency call button, but it took them almost 12 minutes to find her. She wasn't in her room. They found her roaming the halls."
Not good. I pictured her lost in the place she's lived for the past three years, worry settling in as she roamed along the white halls, passing door after door that she no longer recognized, searching for the way back to her little apartment as fear started to seep in.
"And, apparently, this wasn't the first time," he added.
"Oh, God," was all I could say. I wondered why they didn't call any of the other times she'd wandered alone, and my dislike for The W inched up another notch.
"The W said they aren't equipped to care for her in this state and that she would need to move out as soon as possible." Leave it to an elderly care facility to show such passion. He told me that they recommended a nearby group home that might be good for someone at her level of Alzheimer's. My Aunt arrived as fast as she could and together, she and my Mother drove to the group home to check it out. A master bedroom with its own bathroom, furnished but anything not wanted could be removed and placed into storage. Six patients altogether -- two men and four women -- plus two live-in caregivers. The manager seemed nice enough, and he followed them back to The W to speak with my Grandmother. After an hour, he told my Mother and Aunt that she would most likely fit in well with the other patients and that she could move in as early as Saturday.
"Your Mother's all frazzled, and your Aunt was bawling up a storm, as if she thought she were the one being asked to move." I asked about her furniture. "Oh, they'll let her keep the easy-lift chair. She'll want to keep her picutres. Your Aunt has a smaller bed than what she has now; they'll switch it out by the weekend. Her dresser will probably fit into the bathroom, but the rest is too large. Plus, she has more in storage. We'll probably end up calling Goodwill or something unless there's some things that you or your Brother would like."
I didn't want to think about that. "Have you seen the group home?"
"No, but I'm going with your Mother tomorrow. They need the first two months' rent so we're getting a check for $7,000 to take over." I gasped. "It's about $1,000 less per month than what she's paying now. Maybe you and your Brother can help move this weekend."
"No problem. Call me at home or on my cell. I always have my cell with me."
He briefly changed the topic to my Brother's vacation before calling it a night. "Remember to call me!" He said he would and hung up.
* = has nothing to do with The W Hotels. This is a senior community in South Orange County.
Monday, August 14, 2006
Not Another Gay Movie...
My friend RG e-mailed Monday or Tuesday of last week, asking if we wanted to see the film Another Gay Movie on Friday. My boyfriend and I viewed the trailer last month while in West Hollywood and had both given it a thumbs down in terms of wanting to sit in a theater at $10 a seat to watch the entire film. DVD, perhaps; theater, no. But we hadn't seen RG and his partner for over a month, and the prospect of being with friends outweighed the potential weakness of the film so we reluctantly said yes.
Friday evening as we're driving to the theater, RG called to tell us that the theater opened the doors early to allow in the large crowd. They were heading in to find a group of seats together; our tickets were up front with the ticket taker. We arrived roughly 10 minutes later to a large gaggle of gay men in tight polo shirts with the collars upturned, almost skin-tight jeans, and filp-flops displaying their dirty feet, all buzzing about two men being interviewed beside a poster for the film. Turns out the two men happened to be starring in the film, but neither of us recognized them until just before the movie started. We squeezed past them and found RG and friends seated a mere 6 rows from the front of the theater.
Just before the movie started, a man introduced himself as...well, I think he was someone important but don't really remember. He mentioned that he and his partner saw the film at a festival, absolutely loved it and had to bring it to the gay masses behind the Orange Curtain. He raved so emphatically about it that he came across like a gay Borg: "You are gay. You must love this movie. Resistance is futile." He passed the mic to the two stars -- Jonah Blechman and Mitch Morris -- who didn't speak too much about the film but did hurl a few copies of the Adam & Steve DVD into the crowd, accidentally hitting a poor homosexual in the head.
Finally the lights dimmed, the previews finished, the movie began....
Andy and his friends -- Jarod, Griff, and Nico -- finally graduate from high school and should be happy, but the fact that they're all "booty virgins" weighs mightily on their minds. Their spirits drop even farther as their lesbian stud bud Muffler bags one cheerleader after another and taunts them with their own lack of experience. Determined to show Muffler just how gay they can be, the four friends make a pact to have sex before Muffler's Labor Day Party in less than two months.
A spoof of teen films such as American Pie, Edge of Seventeen, Beautiful Things, and Carrie, this movie tries hard to be like other spoofs in the Scary Movie. In fact, many scenes spoof them very well, such as the apple pie sequence from American Pie vein. Yet this adds its own special flavor with the inclusion of a gerbil and a toilet paper roll tube. (What you're imagining is exactly what you'll see....) The filmmakers assemble a great cast, too: Michael Carbonaro, Jonathan Chase, Mitch Morris and Jonah Blechman as Andy, Jarod, Griff and Nico (respectively); Scott Thompson and Lypsinka as Andy's parents; Stephanie McVay (from Edge of Seventeen) as Nico's mother; Graham Norton as Andy's high school teacher on whom he has a major crush; Ashlie Atkinson as the loud-mouthed, obnoxious Muffler; James Getzlaff (Boy Meets Boy) as Jarod's love interest; Richard Hatch as Himself; and many others. Jonah is hysterical and over-the-top as Nico, as is Stephanie McVay as his mother. Too bad they aren't given much to work with except for raunchy and gross sexual humor (I never wanted to know what Belgian chocolate was) and every gay stereotype you can imagine. Sure, I admit to laughing my ass off -- and groaning with disgust -- quite a bit, but take that away, and the movie is just plain dumb.
But you do get to see a lot of penises.
Hamburger Mary's held a party afterward, but we decided to grab a bite to eat instead.
Friday, August 11, 2006
First Line Friday
The answer to last week's First Line:
Words Get in the Way from the Miami Sound Machine
Music and lyrics by Gloria Estefan
One of the four Top 10 hits from the Primitive Love album, which also gave us Conga and a video featuring Gloria Estefan dancing with some men in cat suits for Bad Boys. Gotta love the '80s. The band soon changed its name to "Gloria Estefan & the Miami Sound Machine," and 1989, Gloria embarked on her solo career.
I chose this next First Line in honor of my trying -- yet again -- to lose weight and to get into some kind of shape. Since April, I've managed to stay just under the 200-lb. mark and hope to reach 185 lbs. by the end of the year. Or, to at least lose the belly that tries so desperately to pour over my waistband. So this morning I weighed myself, coming in at 199 lbs. -- my starting point.
Because food tends to be one of my biggest obstacles (hot fudge sundaes, French fries, chocolate chip calzones, etc.), my First Line for today deals directly with food....
How come you're always such a fussy young man
Don't want no Cap'n Crunch, don't want no Raisin Bran
This parody, released in 1984, climbed to the number 12 spot the U.S. Charts, earning a Grammy for Best Comedy Recording and an American Video Award for Best Male Performance. (LOVE the video!!) The album from which it came was -- and still is -- one of my all-time favorites, prompting me at one point to become a "Close Personal Friend." I even had an autographed poster!
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
The Night Listener
We stopped at the local gay bookstore on Saturday afternoon. Not that either of us really needed more books to add to our ever-overflowing collections, but I enjoy walking down the aisles, browsing the covers and finding titles to add to my Amazon Wish List. (Just how that novel about the teddy bear that comes to life only to be mistaken by the U.S. government as a terrorist wound up in a bag with a purchase receipt escapes me, though.) After the bookstore, we walked around 2nd Street in Long Beach, doing a bit of windowshopping, stopping long enough in a music store for both of us to buy one CD each: Elton John's Honky Château for me; Prince's Lovesexy for my Man. We headed back to his place and called it a day.
Sunday morning, we finally dragged ourselves away from watching Mike Rowe act as shark bait on Dirty Jobs, scanned the movie section of the LA Times, and headed for a late breakfast around 1 PM. We still had some time to kill after all the food so we walked over to yet another bookstore as well as Tower Records. Luckily, I only bought one book this time and no CD's, though I listened to at least 3 which almost made me reach for my wallet. My boyfriend quickly ushered me from the store and across the street to see The Night Listener.
Armisted Maupin wrote the screenplay, based upon his novel of the same name, which in turn was inspired by true events. The story centers on writer and late night radio personality Gabriel Noone. His publisher gives him a manuscript to review -- the true story of Peter Logand, a young boy sexually abused by his parents and their friends, now living with AIDS. Gabriel unexpectedly receives a call from Peter and strikes up a friendship, learning all he can about peter. Gabriel's recent listens to an answering machine message left by Peter and his guardian, Donna, and notices something that starts to worm away at Gabriel's knowledge of the facts. When Gabriel's questions lead him nowhere, he decides to track down Peter to learn the facts for himself.
As far as thriller's go, this turned out to be an "okay" movie. Toni Collette gave a wonderfully creepy performance as Donna Logand, Peter's guardian, and made the movie worth watching. Robin Williams did a good job as Gabriel Noone, coming into his own during his quest to find out the truth about Peter, but reverting to a self-pitying gay man when around his ex-lover Jess. Sandra Oh was surprisingly underutilized as the housekeeper? neighbor? roommate? Bobby Cannavale played Gabriel's ex-lover Jess and appeared to serve no other purpose than to point out the answering machine message. After reading a few reviews in various gay magazines, I expected twists and turns such as in Fatal Attraction and Misery, but the lackluster ending -- which seemed very quick and almost last-minute -- deflated that balloon.
Just a bit of a let down, and we left the theater less than satisfied.
Monday, August 07, 2006
The boyfriend and I met with friends M&L in front of the Ahmanson Friday night to catch one of the previews of Curtains before a potential trip to Broadway. (Not us, the show.) As we stood in the Will Call line, excitement prickled across my skin at the thought of seeing the last musical created by the team of Kander & Ebb, who brought Chicago, Cabaret and Kiss of the Spider Woman to the musical stage. The inclusion of Rupert Holmes to the crew added additional oohs and aahs from me. I'd seen a production of his Accomplice a few years ago and, thanks to a former roommate, heard much of the soundtrack to The Mystery of Edwin Drood so I knew this was going to be a fun show. Once M had the tickets in hand, we quickstepped into the theater and found our seats.
The stage was draped in a gigantic, red velvet curtain fringed with golden tassels and braids. The ivory-colored pillars on either side added to the old-timey look of the theater, something from the golden age of vaudeville. The orchestra began the overture, lights dimmed, curtain rose on a screen introducing the musical Robbin' Hood....
The story takes place in 1959 at the Colonial Theater in Boston, during an out-of-town tryout for the new musical Robbin' Hood. This musical western take on the famous robber is to be a vehicle for its star Jessica Cranshaw, whom none of the cast seems to like, especially since she forgets lines and sings offkey. During their bows, Jessica collapses on stage. Meanwhile, the team responsible for the show pore over the bad press reviews and soon learn the Jessica died at the hospital. With the star dead, no one strong enough to fill the role -- not even Niki Harris, the understudy -- and the threat of closing the show before it hit even has a chance at Broadway, he cast prepares to leave. Until Lieutenant Frank Cioffi barges in, explaining that no one can leave the theater as it appears Jessica Cranshaw was murdered. He has to question each and everyone of them, and, since he enjoyed the show immensely, convinces them to work out the kinks to get the show back in running order. But danger lurks behind the scenes as one of the cast or crew may be a murderer -- or the next victim.
As murder mysteries go, Curtains definitely entertained. The boyfriend and I kept turning to one another during the show to say who we thought did it, to then change our minds when some new evidence came into light. Though, I admit to being disappointed at the end as to whom the killer was. David Hyde Pierce played just the right parts of intelligent policeman/hesitant nerdy love interest mixed with much humor and great physicality. Debra Monk and Karen Ziemba also dazzled in their roles. Edward Hibbert, however, stole the entire show as the overly loud demanding obnoxious director Christopher Belling. His cattiness and one-liners kept the audience in stitches and made the show worthwhile. The intricate staging, the incredible sets and unique choreography allowed the us to feel as though we were peeking behind the scenes and brought much life to the show.
The overt gayness didn't hurt, either.
The only downside turned out to be the music. And we discussed this at Canter's Deli after the show.
"What did you like?" asked the boyfriend.
"I loved the He Did It routine, with all the candles and the coming in and out of the sheets," I replied.
"And how the other characters popped up in different poses each time," added M. "Now, how did the song go?"
We all stared at each other, then down at our plates watching our food slowly cool as our brows furrowed. Not one lyric remembered. Not one tune whistled. No one could remember, and we'd just left the theater not more than 30 minutes prior. Sadly, that's how unmemorable the music was. Even now, looking at the titles in the program conjures nothing. No melody or lyrics come to mind.
During the drive home, we racked our brains trying to remember anything musically about the show, and all I could come up with was the use of the pit orchestra conductor to sing at the beginning of the second act.
"I hope they fix the music," the boyfriend said, "before it heads to Broadway."
"Yeah. I mean, the show's funny. But...."
We both shrugged our shoulders and continued toward Long Beach.
Sunday, August 06, 2006
10 Book Questions
Thanks to Matt over at A Guy's Moleskine Notebook, I'm the victim of a drive-by tagging. Thankfully, the topic centers on books so I can take a break from the reading of them and post about them.
My work here is done....
Friday, August 04, 2006
First Line Friday
The answer to last Friday's First Line:
Suicide is Painless from the film M*A*S*H
music by Johnny Mandel, lyrics by Mike Altman
The scene leading up to the song: Capt. Walter Kosciusko "Painless Pole" Waldowski - the best equipped dentist in the army - has decided his womanizing is merely a cover-up for homosexuality. Feeling he has nothing to live for, he can see only one way out: suicide. Painless seeks out his surgical friends for a quick and easy method. "Black capsule!" says Trapper John. Painless wonders if it will really work but is assured by Trapper, "It worked for Hitler and Eva Braun."
I guess I should see this film again. I glossed over the fact that the scene deals with the negativity connotated to homosexuality, another self-loather who feels that he must kill himself rather than entertain the possibility of being homosexual. Then again, that may have been the time period in which director Robert Altman sets the film. Intriguing....
For today's First Line Friday, my inspiration stems from the movie I saw Wednesday evening: Wordplay. Who knew that a documentary about The New York Times crossword puzzle could be so entertaining. And, it's actually two films in one: the first follows the history of the crossword puzzle and how Will Shortz -- who earned a degree in Epigramology (the study of puzzles) -- became the puzzle editor for the Times and ushered in the popularity of the Sunday puzzle. The filmmakers interviewed President Bill Clinton, John Stewart, Ken Burns, The Indigo Girls, and many others to find out what keeps them hooked. Scattered throughout are profiles of five puzzlers, all preparing to compete in the U.S. Crossword Championship -- which fills the second half of the film. The back stories of the competitors are just as intriguing as the competition, and I found myself caught up in the frenzy of wondering just who would end up the winner, rooting for the openly gay man. Highly recommended!!!
As for the First Line:
I realize you're seeing someone new
I don't believe she knows you like I do
Your temperamental moody side
The one you always tried to hide from me
This song comes from the sophomore album of this Miami-based group. Released in 1986, the song reached #6 on the U.S. charts. A downbeat mixture of synth-pop (heavy on the Casio keyboard) and Latin rhythms, I remember this as a big hit at my high school, and a few girls tried to do their hair or their clothing like the lead singer. And it was "the" slow song at the prom. It's even mentioned in my '86 yearbook as one of the Top 5 Favorite Songs.
Scene synopsis from Satire Screening Room.
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
Bookwhore Chronicles: On the Beach
The aftermath of the World War to end all world wars. 4,700 nuclear bombs detonated. Clouds of radioactivity darkening the planet, working southward country by country. Every living thing to succumb to the poisoning eventually.
For the last remaining humans, stranded in Australia, each day brings them that much closer to the end. They act and work as usual, make plans for gardens or for trips to Paris or trying to keep things as normal as possible. For American Captain Dwight Towers, his thoughts drift back to his wife and children in the states, his daughter's upcoming birthday, taking his son fishing. And his guilt for falling in love with Moira Davidson though he knows his family is gone. A small glimmer of hope appears as a garbled morse code signal reaches them from Seattle, WA. and Capt. Towers takes a small crew via submarine to check the signal.
Even so, the poisonous air drifts closer to those left alive.
I found myself crying toward the end of the book, reading along as the characters prepared for the inevitable all the while wondering why this was happening. To paraphrase what Moira says throughout the book, they took no part in the war yet the outcome effects even them. I cry at movies and plays, but rarely when reading a book. The characters became real for me, and I felt the anguish of the young couple with a newborn, knowing that the child had no future; at the wonderment of how the towns that Towers sees along the way to Seattle seem simply waiting for people, everything still in its place, no signs of any destruction; at Towers and many others attaching themselves to a future that won't ever happen, if only to keep themselves from going insane. A very heavy, very human book about nuclear war and the end of the World.
And it leads me to wonder: what would I do if I knew the end were near?
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper."
T.S. Eliot, The Hollow Men (1924)
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
It's Funny Until Someone Pokes an Eye Out
Friday morning, I started my first new antibiotic for this wacky infection that's been plaguing my eye. I swallowed the first doxycycline pill and went about my work at the office. A few hours later, my head exploded with pain, like a railroad spike being driven through the back of my head, through my left cheek and eye and exiting my forehead. The pain lasted for an hour, with remnant aches pulsing along the back of my head, neck and shoulder. I called the ophthalmologist and explained the problem to his nurse. She spoke with the doctor and told me to stop taking the medication, that we would determine what happened during my next appointment on Thursday. ...sigh...
Ricki Ticki Boom Boom
My boyfriend and I dined at The French Quarter in West Hollywood Saturday evening before returning to the Coronet for our second viewing of tick, tick...BOOM!. We sat fourth row, this time around, close enough to see the spittle fly into the front row. Still a fantastic show, with great acting from Andrew Samonsky as Jonathan, Wilson Cruz as his friend Michael, and Tami Tappan Damiano as Jonathan's girlfriend Susan. They received a much-deserved standing ovation at the end.
After the show, we headed to Canter's Deli for hot fudge sundaes and perhaps some celebrity sightings. (No luck with the celebrities though I thought I saw someone who may have resembled a late 70's-early 80's porn star.)
CS and I ventured to Disneyland on Sunday after running a few errands -- scanning old wedding photos for his Mom, searching for an air conditioner, buying Harry Potter 6 for only $7 at Target. Surprisingly enough, the parks were fairly empty; usually during the Summer months, too many people are packed almost sardine tight into the walkways, and the lines range anywhere from 30 - 90 minutes. But, maybe because of the heat, we found it very easy to walk from one attraction to another, with the longest wait being 15 minutes for the updated Pirates of the Caribbean.
The last major update of Pirates occurred a few years ago after flack from NOW (dirty, horny male pirates chasing women? How sexist! We demand a change even if what you're displaying is more historically accurate!), and the animatronic versions would have chagrined the very pirates they represented. Earlier this year, Disney closed the attraction at Disneyland and at the Magic Kingdom in Florida to add new characters and to coincide with the release of the latest movie-based-upon-the-attraction. Davey Jones now appears while floating through a dark cave; a few more skeletons have been added, including that of a parrot wearing a stocking cap; the treasure room features more shiny jewels and treasures; and three animatronic Captain Jack Sparrows are scattered throughout the Spanish village.
The first one caught me off-guard with its lifelike movements. I seriously thought it was a person in costume. And it looked remarkably like Johnny Depp. (A few of you are saying, "Well, duh!" However, when they designed the Indiana Jones attraction, Harrison Ford refused to allow use of his likeness for any of the animatronics so the end result kinda sorta looks like him. But not really.) I won't pinpoint where the new figures are, just in case some of you may visit D-Land in the near future.
After Pirates, we wandered around both D-Land and California Adventure, hopping on a few more attractions and eventually grabbing a bite at one of the hotels. By 9 PM, the sun had disappeared taking only a fraction of the heat with it so we called it a day.