Friday, December 29, 2006

Okay, the "Saddam being hanged" thing

Welcome to Pottersville has the best take on it I've seen tonight so far, along with a great quote from the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

No one but his family and friends (if he had any) is going to mourn Saddam Hussein, but it's short-sighted in the extreme to pretend that this sort of "prize" is worth all we've gone through to get it.

we did squander nearly 3000 lives to depose, capture, try, convict and sentence a single man who was found guilty of killing less than 5% of that number.

The reason for which Saddam will be executed, his ordering the massacre of 148 Shi’ites in 1982, was never, to my knowledge, mentioned in the run-up to war. Perhaps the reason why it was never mentioned was because Saddam carried out these executions with a wink and a nod from Reagan and Poppy, his two bestest buddies. Rummy would soon join the club in December 1983 bearing gifts such as poison gas and satellite photos of the Iranian army’s position.

Our hands are filthy.

(Even though, as Fox and the producers of 24 keep telling us even after my friendly warning, "America doesn't negotiate with terrorists. Neither does Jack.")

Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except Me and Joe Scarborough

This is a real poll.

It's times like these I really regret MST3K is no longer on the air.

Early this morning, in one of those whimsical "you're up, it's on cable" moods, I gave a low-budget slasher-horror film called Scarecrow Gone Wild a try. Oh, my god. Honesty dictates I should tell you I was not exactly expecting great things from a B-movie called Scarecrow Gone Wild, but still: Oh, my god.

This thing is below-MST3K caliber all the way. The acting seems nonexistent, but (bending over backwards to be fair to a young cast) it is impossible to tell if the actors could ever be any good, because: The direction is incompetent and the, I refuse to believe there was a script. The dialogue makes Kevin Smith sound like Noel Coward.

Here's the scrap of plot: A college hazing victim merges with the soul of a murderous scarcrow and kills the kids who did this to him, on the beach. But put all that aside. It is the most plainly homoerotic slasher-horror film I've seen since at least the Jeepers Creepers movies, and maybe since the infamous Nightmare on Elm St Pt. 2.

First of all, the actor...and I use the word loosely...who was cast to play the role of the victim turned homicidal maniac is a young man with the fake-sounding name of Caleb Roehrig. Obviously I am not privy to Mr. Roehrig's sexual orientation, but I can say that he comes off about as straight as the love child of Liberace and Scott Thompson's Buddy Cole character from The Kids in the Hall.

This wouldn't necessarily be a problem, except that this immidiately noticable "vibe" means whether intentionally or not (I'd guess not), early scenes in which there's talk of setting his character up with a girl can only be greeted with hoots of derision. He, and/or his character, is clearly a gay man. Remember that, it may be important.

And then there's the good ole' boys he spends the rest of the film putting to sleep (much like the audience, ba-da-boom). Most of these fellows seem to spend inordinate amounts of time holding one another, considering their characters are supposed to be straight. And despite the presence of one or two really rather cute girls.

One of whom, a young woman named Tara Platt, has a part that consists almost wholly of sleeping with her friend's boyfriend, going topless and being killed off. Who says there are no good roles for women any more?

But my point in bringing this up is, even on the most base level of providing pleasant eye-candy for a straight male and/or lesbian audience, this film fails.

Not because Platt is anything less than lovely to look at, she's quite beautiful. But this film seems to have been made mainly on cold, cold days. I'm not making a cheap nipple joke, I'm picturing a director screaming "I don't care about your frostbitten toes, I'm losing the light!"

The scenes of Platt's exposed, pale skin and her bikini-clad form walking into an icy-looking sea do not inspire thoughts of the "hubba-hubba" variety. It's more like will someone for god's sakes get that girl a blanket and some hot chocolate and sit her down by the fire?

There's actually one or two good web sites devoted to looking at horror movies from a queer perspective (my favorite is Camp Blood-get it, get, huh?). I think such a film dramatizing the alienation many if not most young gay men must feel if surrounded by homophobic straight frat-boys could-potentially-be great.

That's the obvious subtext here. But what moves this film from the merely poor to the jaw-droppingly, inexplicably, irresponsibly bad is this: The hazing of the kid who's going to come back and get them, get them all, consists of his being stripped, beaten and left tied to a scarecrow all night.

And then it stops being funny. Because you realize that the filmmakers moral compass is so skewed they're willing to invoke the real-life horror of Matthew Shephard as the inciting incident for their stalker flick. But not willing to come out and say that's what their crappy movie is about.

And that makes Scarecrow Gone Wild not just a bad film, but an actually evil one.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Songs I'm listening to this Christmas Eve

"The Christmas Waltz," as recorded by Frank Sinatra the second time as a single for Capitol records.

"Merry Christmas, May Your Every New Year Dream Come True"

It almost always makes me smile as the last chorus fades out when Frank says "Merry Christmas," and he sounds...innocent. Innocence had passed him by a long time ago, but in that moment, on that record, I believe it. The choral group helps-it's haunting (in a good way).

All of us sometimes need our innocence restored, even if it's only artifice. Or art. And if Frank could do it, then there is always hope for the rest of us.

In 1961 Kenneth Tynan wrote,
A few months ago my nine-year-old daughter came in to be kissed while I was playing [Miles Davis'] most haunting LP, Kind of Blue. She listened for a moment and then said: 'That's Miles Davis.' I asked her how she could tell. 'Because, she replied, 'it sounds like a little boy who's been locked out and wants to get in.'

She Won't Be Home
by Erasure

And I wanted to say to you
How much I want to be with you
I wanted to say to you
How much I need to be with you
Christmas time comes once a year
She knows this time he won't be near

She phones her mum
Says this time she cannot come
Don't worry I'm with friends this Christmas
Dad gets upset
But in time he soon forgets
Here comes another lonely Christmas

I still love the way the lines "I wanted to say to you how much I need to be with you," repeated in the chorus into the fade, start to sound, unintentionally, like "I wanted to say to you how much I need to scream with you."

PS: As luck has it, someone's posted a homemade video for this song to YouTube. It's made up of clips from the cartoon movie Anastasia, which I haven't seen, but they seem to work pretty good with the song.

The Charlie Brown Christmas musical soundtrack is a must, of course. What it always captures for me is the melancholy of the holiday. Plus it's an obvious thing to say, but I seriously love Vince Guaraldi's piano playing.

This probably won't be allowed to stay up long (and the sound is a little tinny), but for soever long as it lasts, here's the first seven-odd minutes of the special. Enjoy.
"I know nobody likes me. Why do we have to have a holiday season to emphasize it?"

You tell 'em, Chuck old boy.

"Random" Flickr-Blogging: IMG_1225 (get it?)

This is the kind of picture that makes you think women know something the rest of us don't. Or: There's something in this about all women, # 5


Tourism's been going up in Japan since they decided to start making houses in the shape of Darth Vader.