Monday, March 31, 2008


Ahead lays a full-out body-slam on a movie that I wish I could expunge from my mind. Remember:

The content after the section break below will be graphic and whiney. Surf away if you want to save the next few precious minutes of your life for something better.

But first, a brief history of (some of) my encounters with porn.

There was one porno theater in the cities I attended college. One night during my freshman year, the whole male portion of the floor decided to take a field trip to the place because most of us had never seen a porno. This was before the big videotape boom, btw.

We went to see a double-feature of Debbie Does Dallas and Behind the Green Door. Needless to say, it was an uncomfortable event, because there we were, two rows of young, naïve college guys stunned into silence by the graphic sex on the screen, most concentrating on trying not to mess themselves as does the character of Joe Gideon (who was really Bob Fosse) in All That Jazz does when working in a strip joint as a blooming adolescent. I'm sure the cumulative blood pressure levels in the room could've propelled Apollo 13 to the moon's surface and back.

While it was enormously arousing to me, I was really uncomfortable at the same time. Something inside kept insisting that watching the act of others having sex was ... not a good thing to be doing.

Years later I worked at one of the first video rental stores. (Half their stock was Betamax to give you an idea of how long ago this was. And yes, betamax looked way better than VHS; it's taken till now with Bluray for Sony to win a format war.)

The owners said that if we had no moral or religious objections, to please watch a few of the pornos so we could recommend them to customers. One of their marketing thingys was the staff was well-versed in movies and could help you choose one. Again I discovered that while porno was arousing, I just couldn't get past feeling like I was doing something icky. I only viewed a few, and from there relied on the opinions of the others who kept up the practice.

(I can bet some guys reading this are thinking: dude, you had permission - nay, a directive - to watch porn for free and you didn't do it? Well, dudes, yes, I didn't. I guess there's just something wrong with me. For the record, I like perusing the occasional tasteful/artistic/funny nude on the web, but I still get bugged by raw boinky boiky.)

TLD: Quick side story. One of my co-workers at the vid store was this hot, young blonde who had a passing resemblance to Jessica Lange and who wore heart-shaped "Lolita" sunglasses.

It was just her and me at the store one day when a guy came in and b-lined for the porno section. After a few moments he called out, "Say, you got anything you can recommend?" I knew implicitly he was talking to me - guys (at least back then) did not consult women to assist them on their porn consumption.

Before I could get up, "Lolita" went back and started helping him out. She was oblivious to his discomfort, but I could practically see the "OMG!" waves shooting out of the doorway like in a cartoon. A sample of her patter was, "Well, my boyfriend and I liked this one. This one's OK. This one's gross; this guy [I don't recall what it was that she said] and I just don't like that kind of stuff. Oh, the girls in this one are pretty."

She didn't get very far. He stormed out of the porno section, practically slammed the tape on the counter, and shot me a look that screamed, "Why the hell weren't YOU the one helping me." His face was so red, I was sorta worried a vein would blow and spray me in the process.

"Lolita" emerged with kind of a puzzled look on her face and straightened shelves until he left. When he was gone, she said he'd rudely snatched the tape right out her hand! What was his problem?! she wondered.

I explained that he was probably uncomfortable with a girl, a cute one at that, helping him select jerkoff material. She asked (and I paraphrase): "Why? Isn't he fantasizing about fucking a girl when he does that anyway? I'm a girl. What's the problem?"

I really couldn't argue with that.

Suffice to say, I'm not what you'd call a fan of porn movies. Mind you, I don't really care/it's none of my business what other folks think and feel about porn. Grownups can do what they want, imo.

(Here we go.)

So, when I'd heard that the director of Hedwig and the Angry Inch (which I have not seen - I've seen enough movies in the genre that focuses on modern western-society gay lifestyle, and I'm not a fan of them either), John Cameron Mitchell, made a film called Shortbus that was supposedly about various couples and had some racy sex scenes, I was intrigued. How bad could it be?

I'd seen the French film Romance that had some graphic sex in it, but anything truly graphic was so brief that it really seemed like a hard "R". And it was boring. The story/theme was kinda silly, too. And I'd seen Angels and Insects, which contains a graphic (and funny) scene where we, the audience, and the hero discover that his wife is also having sex with her brother. He leaps off her, still at attention. Then there's the old classics Last Tango in Paris (couldn't eat butter for a week afterwards) and Little Big Man that had some blatant scenes. Only "Romance" had enough content that made it come close to being just a porno, but all of the blue content really did seem to have a connection to the story.

Then there's Shortbus.

Shortbus is just a porno.

Mitchell claims that it's not, that he and the cast who improvised most of the story together were really trying to make a film - an art film - that just happened to contain actual sex.

(Oh, and according to the "making of" (yes, I watched that, too; I wanted to see if the sick fuck ever blinked, if you get my drift) it just happened to contain actual orgasms of/by all cast members who are filmed in the act. Btw, Mitchell himself "performed" in the orgy scenes, something I'm sure he told the cast he did out of solidarity. I bet they believed him, too.)

What Mitchell has made is the exact kind of movie I never want to see again. It's on the short list with The Wife, the Cook, the Thief, and Her Lover and a couple others that I must've thankfully managed to repress as I can't recall their titles.

Now I know in this supposedly enlightened day and age we are supposed to be OK with openly gay characters expressing themselves sexually in film. Well, folks who really believe that apparently have no clue that people like what they like and don't what they don't. I will never be able to sit through a gay kiss or sex scene and think, "Isn't that nice/sweet?" No, I usually think "ew", and get past it. For those of you who think this is homophobia, so be it. I personally think homophobia is a hostile or fearful reaction to the same, and not (discreet) repulsion. For the record, I don't like watching extreme torture porn (a recent genre introduced by Saw and the like), because it repulses me, too. I know others get a bang out of it; I do not. Does that make me torture-porn-phobic? (My answer: hell no.)

Well, the main character arc of Shortbus is a gay couple who become a threesome and then a foursome. The other two "heterosexual" story arcs are mostly inconsequential. The first one, a sex therapist who can't orgasm, merely the bookends the movie, and the second, a dominatrix hooker who likes taking Polaroids of people at the exact moment it would piss them off the most, is more of an afterthought than a subplot. In short, this is the gayest film I've ever seen, with the gay esthetic essentially being the main element and theme of the movie.

Btw, in answer to my own question above, "How bad could it be?", I submit:
- One character manages to fellate himself (that supposed mythical fantasy of men everywhere) and we get to watch him ejaculate into his own mouth. And then cry about it. Couldn't decide which was worse.
- Not one, but two long scenes of three-way gay male sex, including one burying his face in the ass of another and singing a song.
- An orgy that is pretty much lifted from Behind the Green Door, but rendered entirely un-erotic.

And, after all, that's the biggest sin of this whole porno. Since it is a porno, it has no business being so aggressively un-arousing. So I can't even recommend this to people who LIKE porn.

That inspires me to employ a current internet meme about such things:

Now pardon me while I go shower. Again.
Some days it seems like this

(Click for larger image.)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

In praise of April Wine and every other band like'em

Most of the CDs in my car are "mix tapes" of the songs I liked best at the time I made the CD. Thus, I have very few complete, original albums since there aren't many I want to listen to in transit and essentially interrupted. One of the very few I have is April Wine's Nature of the Beast, a favorite from my teen years.

For a while in my hipper late 20s and early 30s, it fell out of favor. It seemed too cheesy and retro, and I cringed internally if I put it on for fear someone would hear.

Now that I'm an old fart and have gotten past the years of being "hip", or "in", or whatever the hell it's called now, I couldn't give less of a flying fuck at a donut about being caught rocking out to it.

Last week I slid'er in and found that I've gained a new appreciation of the energy and musicianship (not to mention the production, which is stellar and was renowned at the time of its release - rumor has it they recorded it "live" with their concert setup at one end of the recording space, and the recording stuff at the other end to give it the thump and presence of a live set).

So, I decided to jump onto the MP3 store at to see what else they might have out, and found another one of my favorite songs of theirs: "I Like to Rock". Beside being a great tune, at the end they play the classic riffs from "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" on the left channel and "Day Tripper" on the right, with the riff from the song itself joining in center channel. It's ... kinda cool.

Well, since I was there, I checked yet again to see if they'd put out "Memory Pain" from Johnny Winter, and by God they had! (Into the shopping cart it went.) Even if you don't like the other songs here, you should drive this on around the block a couple times. I don't think there's a better classic rock/classic blues song in existence. I simply don't.

Usually, Amazon's recommendation "if you like that you might like this" algorithms either make me laugh or just piss me off. Another happy surprise, the ones offered with the various albums above were relevant, and I'd been looking for songs from those guys, too.

So, here's some great old late 70s/early 80s rock chestnuts that are now provided for your pleasure:

- "Bad Motor Scooter" by Montrose

- "Highway Song" by Blackfoot

- "Flirtin' With Disaster" by Molly Hatchet

Oh, and even though I popped for the best of the ovure of Foghat long ago, and didn't need "Slow Ride" and other classics of theirs, I was amused to see this album. Back when I was young and thought I'd try to be a rock star, I swore I'd make an album with this cover. I didn't know until now it'd already been done.

It took me so long to put together this post (this baby's been on the stove for a week or so now), I've since found another couple great songs that aren't classic rock, but are gems just the same.

You can now finally get the theme song to National Lampoon's Vacation, "Holiday Road" by Lindsey Buckingham. This is a new live version, but it seems better than the studio version.

You've no doubt seen the commercial for the new ultra-super-slim Macbook that has the song "New Soul" by Yael Naïm. Click the link and that baby's yours for 89 cents. If you don't know the one I'm talking about, watch this:

Oh, and if you want the ethereal song "Creep" by Radiohead used in one of the clips in the post directly below, here it is.

Just keeps bringing the laughs

I've always loved the various takes on this White House event.

"Conan's take"


Monday, March 24, 2008

Too Funny

Go here, type in your best bud's name in the first line, then type in yours in the second (skip the emails), and click "Visualizar."

Sunday, March 23, 2008

And there you have it

The high priests, along with the religion scholars and leaders, were right there mixing it up with the rest of them, having a great time poking fun at him: "He saved others—he can't save himself! King of Israel, is he? Then let him get down from that cross. We'll all become believers then! He was so sure of God—well, let him rescue his 'Son' now—if he wants him! He did claim to be God's Son, didn't he?" Even the two criminals crucified next to him joined in the mockery.

From noon to three, the whole earth was dark. Around mid-afternoon Jesus groaned out of the depths, crying loudly, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" which means, "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?"

Some bystanders who heard him said, "He's calling for Elijah." One of them ran and got a sponge soaked in sour wine and lifted it on a stick so he could drink. The others joked, "Don't be in such a hurry. Let's see if Elijah comes and saves him."

But Jesus, again crying out loudly, breathed his last.

At that moment, the Temple curtain was ripped in two, top to bottom. There was an earthquake, and rocks were split in pieces. What's more, tombs were opened up, and many bodies of believers asleep in their graves were raised. (After Jesus' resurrection, they left the tombs, entered the holy city, and appeared to many.)

The captain of the guard and those with him, when they saw the earthquake and everything else that was happening, were scared to death. They said, "This has to be the Son of God!"

After the Sabbath, as the first light of the new week dawned, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to keep vigil at the tomb. Suddenly the earth reeled and rocked under their feet as God's angel came down from heaven, came right up to where they were standing. He rolled back the stone and then sat on it. Shafts of lightning blazed from him. His garments shimmered snow-white. The guards at the tomb were scared to death. They were so frightened, they couldn't move.

The angel spoke to the women: "There is nothing to fear here. I know you're looking for Jesus, the One they nailed to the cross. He is not here. He was raised, just as he said. Come and look at the place where he was placed.

"Now, get on your way quickly and tell his disciples, 'He is risen from the dead. He is going on ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there.' That's the message."

The women, deep in wonder and full of joy, lost no time in leaving the tomb. They ran to tell the disciples. Then Jesus met them, stopping them in their tracks. "Good morning!" he said. They fell to their knees, embraced his feet, and worshiped him. Jesus said, "You're holding on to me for dear life! Don't be frightened like that. Go tell my brothers that they are to go to Galilee, and that I'll meet them there."

Meanwhile, the eleven disciples were on their way to Galilee, headed for the mountain Jesus had set for their reunion. The moment they saw him they worshiped him. Some, though, held back, not sure about worship, about risking themselves totally.

Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: "God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I'll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age."

Matthew 27: 41-54
Matthew 28: 1-10, 16-20

Some FAQs

Friday, March 14, 2008

Read More Blogs

I have had a rash of less-than-scintillating reads lately.

My point to this posting is at the end, so skip down to there if you don't want to waste precious time reading about books that suck.

Duma Key by Stephen King

As constant readers (a phrase I've borrowed from King) know, I'm Steve's bitch as a fan. And, dammit, this is his worst book to date. Dull dull dull. It's derivative of things he's already done himself, too. (Paintings causing events in reality, dead twin girl ghosts, for starters.)

I read over 700 pages, and the plot actually starts on page 670 hundred something. Even then, I just found it a slog.

Then I saw a site that has plot summaries of current books, the book spoiler, so went to see if it was worth continuing. (Sometimes knowing the end for me can propel me to it in order to see how it's executed.) Alas, it just gave good reason to bail.

The book spoiler summary is 11 paragraphs long, and the first 3 cover the first 700 pages of the novel, to give you an idea.

Sorry, Steve; this one's a dud. Of course, I'll read the next one, though.

Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life by Steve Martin

Surprisingly, for someone who was as popular and influential as a stand-up, there's just not a lot of there there (to paraphrase Gertrude).

Martin's an amazingly flat-footed writer, here, too.

Eventually I couldn't even keep up the energy to just skim to the good parts.

When You Need a Lift: But Don't Want to Eat Chocolate, Pay a Shrink, or Drink a Bottle of Gin by Joy Behar

Picked this up as a lark from the "just in" shelf at the library. In her defense, Behar didn't really write any of the book other than the intro. It's a collection of (mostly useless) advice for life from celebs and friends of Behar's.

The only good one was Carol Burnett's, but I lost the photocopy of the page, or else I'd share it with you.

Things I've Learned From Women Who've Dumped Me by Ben Karlin

Now I thought this one would be a can't-miss tome of great relationship blow-up stories, but they were all pretty lame. Not a laugh in the bunch. And, inexplicably save for political correctness, there's even an entry by a gay guy whose first real live glimpse of a vagina (or va-jay-jay as the current Oprah euphemism goes) convinced him he was gay. Gosh, thanks for the news flash, Bruce.

Not even worth the calories it would take to lift the book.

The realization I had was that any one of the blogs you see over there on the left in the "great blogs" list are written by superior stylists than I found in all those books (with the exception of King, of course). They certainly provide much better content on any given day than any of the books above.

The go-to lazy story most Journalists trot out at least once a year is a rumination about whether blogs are needed or any good.

After my recent voyage through all that published mediocrity, I was left with a pretty solid conclusion: HELL YEAH!

Two of the most ground-breaking and important TV series were made possible by women.

Desilu, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz's production company, gave us "Star Trek". MTM (Mary Tyler Moore) gave us "Hill Street Blues", which provided the template for every cop and hospital drama on the air since.

Interesting, no?
Xena the Grammarian

Irregardless of what you've been told, to really write well, there're some old grammar myths you should be aware of. However, new information has been offered that can dispel some of the silly things that cause us to write convoluted, corkscrew sentence just to avoid these non-foibles, e.g. answering "How are you?" with "I'm good."

It's all good.
Thank God Wingnuts are pro-gun; we're gonna need'em.
(The guns, for those of you in the cheap seats.)

Over the years I've wondered why the wingnuts want the middle class gone.

George Carlin spells it out:

It's just hubris, stupidity, greed, and shortsightedness. Guess that proves Occam's Razor yet again.

Even scarier is the fact that the Bush family was once involved in (another - ahem) plot to turn America into a fascist dictatorship, as mentioned here and detailed here.

On the lighter side of things, this particular bit is a favorite around the office right now:

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Here it goes again

Really, not gonna make this a habit, but this was just too ... everything ... not to share.

NSFW: A music video that actually contains all the birds and the bees info of your average health class in a few short minutes. And it's funny, too.

(Lord, forgive me.)

Oh, via Attu.