Wednesday, July 31, 2013

I Still Hate Squirrels

Mmmm... Uriney!
So, even after an evil squirrel doomed my Zebra finches to a what was an undeniably horrible fate, they continue to plague me. Last year, they destroyed any hope of my having home grown tomatoes (there just isn't a better tomato than the one you've grown at home). This year, the little bastards dug up and ate at least half of my lily bulbs. And the little bastards love hanging onto my bird feeder. 

I've tried just about everything I was told to try. They laughed at the mothballs. They ran from the water pistol, but came back. They ignored the pepper spray, even when I hit them in the face with it. And while someone told me that she had success using a ceramic raccoon, I was unable to find a realistic one at a reasonable price. 

So coyote urine pellets are now my last resort (short of actually shooting them, which I don't think my neighbors would appreciate). I placed my order for Shake-Away time-released coyote urine pellets at Garden.com earlier this evening. Of course, coyotes are not native to my suburban PA neighborhood, so I'm not sure how the evil rats with fuzzy tails will react to it. I hope they will quake in fear and avoid my yard forever. Otherwise, I will have wasted yet another $30 on a product that doesn't work.

Do you have or have you had a squirrel or other rodent problem? How did you deal with it? Were you successful? Tell me what you did.



Oh, how I hate these thieving little creeps! Any and all suggestions as to how to keep them out of my garden are welcome.

More, anon.
Prospero
You have read this article Birds / Desperation / Evil / Finches / Lilies / My Garden / Pest Control / Pests / Squirrels / Tomatoes / Zebina with the title July 2013. You can bookmark this page URL http://tammycross.blogspot.com/2013/07/i-still-hate-squirrels.html. Thanks!
Monday, July 29, 2013

The Most Positive Gay Things You'll See This Week

Pope Francis I
I'm torn. Do I write about the story that impacts LGBTQ people here in the U.S. or the the story that impacts LGBTQ people all over the world? I guess I have to talk about both, if I'm going to write about either. Let's start with the whole world, shall we? (Hey - go big or go home, right?)

On his flight back to Rome from Brazil, Pope Francis I gave an impromptu, jovial, no-holds-barred press conference for the reporters on board. And in answering one question, he moved the HRC (no, not the HRC) into the 21st Century. When a reporter asked what he would do if he found out a priest was gay, he responded "Who am I to judge a gay person of goodwill who seeks the Lord? You can't marginalize these people." Of course, this is no way means that Francis thinks gay sex (the biggest hang-up most religious folks seem to have about gay people) is okay, but his answer to that question is probably the most progressive statement ever made by any Pope, ever. Historically, there have been married Popes; adulterous Popes; sadistic Popes and (in 2000-odd years), undoubtedly at least one gay Pope. I mean, come on. 265 men (and possibly 1 woman) have held the title. Statistically, at least one or more of them had to be gay.

Francis is proving himself to be even more "The People's Pope" than the much-beloved (and on the track to Sainthood) John Paul II. Smart, modern and accessible, Francis knows the Church is hurting. In South America, Catholics have been leaving the Church for evangelical congregations, while in the U.S. and Europe, they have been leaving because the Church has refused to evolve on issues like homosexuality, women's rights and birth control. Of course, Uncle P still views all religion as detrimental to progress and an affront to science, but that doesn't mean I hate religious people. I just wish they would wake up and smell reality. Francis seems to at least caught a whiff and that's terrific.

Tim Hardaway
And the other big LGBTQ news comes from retired NBA star Tim Hardaway, who in a 2007 interview said "I hate gay people... I'm homophobic." After spending time at Miami's YES Institute and seeing the way LGBTQ people have been abused, bullied and vilified, Hardaway had an epiphany of sorts. Earlier this month, he was the first person to sign a petition challenging Florida's marriage laws. 

"With what I said, people could think it's OK to throw rocks at them or bully them... I just wanted to make people understand that what I said wasn't cool. I wanted to make amends for it.'' Hardaway says he hasn't become a voice for Equality because he wants publicity (he rarely gives interviews). As a young man growing up in Chicago, he had a gay relative to whom he was apparently close. He says now that his comments were 'thoughtless.'

Wow! A little education goes a long way. And while my faith in Humanity hasn't been fully restored (at least while Vladimir Putin and Robert Mugabe are still spewing ignorance and hate), it has been elevated by the words and actions of two very influential people who have had a change of heart and mind. I still have issues with Pat Robertson, who yesterday said that Trans people aren't sinners, but gay people are (don't get me started about that old fossil), but it is amazing to see the tide turning so quickly and so dramatically. 

We still have a long way to go. Next month, 13 U.S. States will officially recognize same-sex marriage (Yay, Minnesota!). I suspect that Illinois; Pennsylvania; New Jersey; Hawaii and Virginia will be next with Colorado; New Mexico; Nevada and Ohio to follow.From there, it's just a matter of time before America finally embraces everything for which our Constitution stands.

Last week, Queen Elizabeth II signed her approval of Marriage Equality in the UK. New Zealand is likely to be the next country which fully embraces Equality, with Australia probably soon to follow. I now have real hope that before I leave this world, it will be changed for the better in so many ways.

The Roger Waters' song embedded below may be about the end of the Cold War, but I can't help but think it applies here (and the animation by my favorite artist certainly doesn't hurt):


More, anon.
Prospero


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Friday, July 26, 2013

Do Boycotts Work?

There was that gay boycott of Coors beer in the 90's. That worked, right? Coors is out of business, right? More recently (and still going on) we boycotted Chick-Fil-A. And they totally went under. And right before that, our boycott of Target took them down. And let's not forget the opposition. One Million Moms' boycott of JC Penney really sent them spiraling into oblivion, didn't it?

Oh... wait. None of those boycotts made a damned bit of a difference to the companies being boycotted. And while as a community, we are much larger in numbers than One Million Moms (with 58,000 followers on Facebook - about 5% of their claimed membership), even we couldn't take down Coors, Chick-Fil-A or Target.

In the light of recent anti-gay politicking under uber-masculine President Vladimir Putin (methinks the lady doth protest too much) and homophobic attacks in the former USSR, LGBT activist Dan Savage has called for a boycott of Russian products. In particular, Russian Vodka. Already bars in Chicago, San Francisco and several other US cities have removed Stoli and other Russian brands from their shelves. In response, the president of Stolichnaya (which operates in Russia and Latvia) has issued a statement decrying Putin's policies, while touting their promotion of and participation in LGBT events all over the world -- except in Russia. He goes on to say that they are a private company with no influence on governmental policies. And he is 100% right.

In the late 70's or early 80's, I remember a call to boycott Chilean grapes. I think it had something to due with the political climate in Chili at the time. It didn't stop me from eating grapes, mostly because I didn't care about the political climate in Chili. And this current call for a boycott of Russian products isn't going to stop people from drinking Stoli or buying gas at Lukoil and will certainly not stop Putin and his homophobic, fascist regime from persecuting LGBT people in Russia. And that's because most Americans don't care about the political climate in Russia. 

Support for Marriage Equality may be at an all-time high in the U.S., but most of us are more concerned with being able to afford the gas to get to work, let alone Human Rights violations thousands of miles away in some frozen wasteland of a country we've always considered "less than." Hmmm...sound familiar?

Don't get me wrong, I'm very concerned about Human Rights violations wherever they are taking place. But we need to take care of those same issues here in the States before we can even begin to worry about the rest of the world. Hate crimes against LGBTQ people are on the rise (I suspect because the homophobes are reacting against recent strides in Marriage Equality). Recent events in NYC (one of the gay-friendliest cities in the world) prove that we still have a long way to go before we are equal -- Just ask the African-Americans who are still dealing with racism 40+ years after the March on Selma. Ask the Latino-Americans who are subjected to documentation searches in certain southern states. Ask the flight crew of Asiana Airlines flight 214, who were subjected to a news report featuring sophomoric parody names like "Wee Too Lo" and "Bang Ding Ow." Ask any West Asian/Muslim person in the US how they've been treated since 9/11. Ask every parent of a child who committed suicide last year because of homophobic bullying. 

Ask an aging gay atheist what the problem is and I'll be happy to tell you. Ignorance, fear and religion are at the root of both homophobia and xenophobia. Putin's policies are backed by the Russian Orthodox Church, whose leader has said (and I'm paraphrasing here, so don't jump down my throat) that Marriage Equality will bring about the apocalypse. Talk about using scare tactics! 

Here's the thing - boycotts are all well and good, despite their ineffectiveness. If nothing else, they raise awareness. And that's not such a bad thing. 

How do we fix the problem in Russia? I don't know. Some are calling for a ban on international travel by Russian officials. Others are calling for UN sanctions. Me? I'm calling for fighting homophobia, ignorance and hate here in the U.S. before we start worrying about the rest of the world. We can't fix problems elsewhere until they're fixed here. And while I am encouraged by how quickly things are happening here, I know we have a long way to go before joining the now 16 (with the recent addition of the UK) countries which afford same-sex couples the same rights and privileges as opposite-sex couples.

I still don't eat at Chick-Fil-A, but I shop at Target. I was never a big drinker of Stoli (there are cheaper and equally good, if not, better vodkas on the market) so I won't miss anything by not drinking their products. Coors has moved on, though I rarely drink beer (and when I do, it's Harp or Sam Adams or a local brew-pub's). In general, boycotts don't work. Want to effect change? Write or call your local representatives (a simple Google or Bing search will get you the info you need). Demand sanctions and actions. Demand changes to your state's laws. VOTE! Voting is the single most powerful tool we have to effect change in government policy, and most of us don't even bother. Become involved. Be a voice for change, rather than whining about what you don't like. Support local and national LGBT charities either by donating money or volunteering time. Whatever it is, just don't sit on your ass and do nothing. That never helps. The video below may (and should) be disturbing.



More, anon,
Prospero


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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Legally Gay or: The Domino Effect Part Deux

Alicia Terrizzi and Lorren Bloodgood of Pottstown, PA
So, on the heels of PA State Attorney Kathleen Kane announcing that she will not defend the federal lawsuit brought against the commonwealth's law banning same-sex marriage, Montgomery County Registrar of Wills, D. Bruce Hane, began issuing licenses to same sex couples, saying he wants to be "on the right side of history." 

Sadly, the licenses (and even today's first same sex marriage in PA between the two ladies on your left) will not be recognized under current PA law. Our 'illustrious' and homophobic Governor Corbett  issued a statement which said in part:  

"Individual elected officials cannot pick and choose which laws to enforce. 

"All officials are constitutionally required to administer and enforce the laws that are enacted by the Legislature." 

It looks like Uncle P's adopted state is about to (maybe) become the last of the Northeast states to have either civil unions (ugh - NJ, come on!) or legally recognized Marriage Equality.

Here's the thing. I hope that the LGBTQ Gen-Xer's and Millennials truly appreciate how far we've come, how long it took to get here and how amazed the Queer Boomers are at how quickly it all seems to be happening. Keep fighting the good fight. Celebrate every small victory. The future is sooner than you think.



More, anon.
Prospero
You have read this article Gay / History / LGBT News / LGBT Rights / Marriage Equality / Pennsylvania / Plan 9. The Future / Politics with the title July 2013. You can bookmark this page URL http://tammycross.blogspot.com/2013/07/legally-gay-or-domino-effect-part-deux.html. Thanks!
Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Gayest New Music You'll Hear This Week

Pet Shop Boys
As obsessed with film scores as I am, I am very surprised by my recent rash of new music posts. 

Uncle P came of musical age in the 80's when I discovered so many musicians; bands; performance artists and singers from every era and genre. For the most part, the music with I most connect the beginning of my musical awakening is the often bizarre dance music to which my college friends and I spent many a Thursdays (with Jon Stewart tending bar) dancing at 90 Cent Dance Night Thursday at the notorious City Gardens in Trenton, NJ.  90 Cents to get in and 90 Cents for a watered down well drink. We'd get a pitcher of Kamikazes to start the night and then move on to the cheap stuff, dancing so much that we never really got all that drunk. One of the era's few surviving groups, Pet Shop Boys have a new single out called "Vocal." The song and the video (via) are everything I have always loved about the eccentric gay (not a couple) duo. Enjoy:



Then there's the heavily 80's influenced George Alley and his latest single, "Smoke." Alley channels The Smiths, The Cure and Pet Shop Boys, while infusing his own sense of weirdness (via). Alley is entertaining, but an acquired taste:



Next, Autoheart takes a stab at Russian homophobia with their single, "Moscow" (also via):



And finally, a dance track from self-described "small town Wisconsin boy" Garek, coming out (in every sense) with his debut single "Save the Queen"(also via):



While none of the videos posted tonight are NSFW, the "(via)" links to their source sites may be very NSFW.

There seems to be a wonderful musical explosion among openly gay singer/songwriters and LGBT-Friendly bands. I'm so excited to live in a time when no one needs to hide anymore.

More, anon.
Prospero
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Monday, July 22, 2013

Everything Groovy Is Bad Again

James Franco and Bruce Campbell
A movie I really wanted to like, Sam Raimi's Oz The Great and Powerful was rather disappointing and now I (as you will, soon) partially know why. 

The original Evil Dead  trilogy ended with 1992's Army of Darkness; which took the camp level up another 10 notches by making Ash (Bruce Campbell) a genius among idiots while forever cementing his status as a cult icon. And while I am a devout Raimi fan (hell, I love The Quick and the Dead), I must admit that Army of Darkness is my least favorite of the three. Unlike Evil Dead II's perfect blend of horror and slapstick, the third movie just tries a little bit too hard, if you know what I mean. Oh, don't get me wrong; it's hilarious and bizarre and horrific and evokes so many other genre films of the past, but of all of Raimi's earlier films, it is the most self-aware and consequently the least effective.

Regular readers know how much I adored Raimi's 2009 return to Horror, Drag Me to Hell. And while I was truly looking forward to seeing Raimi's visual stamp on the Oz franchise, I was truly disappointed to see the horribly over-produced mess that was Oz: The Great and... No, Not Really So 'Great,' More Like... 'Okay,' I Suppose.

Thankfully, the video embedded below helps explain at least part of what was wrong with the director's latest effort.




I somehow lost the link to the site where I found this. If you saw it somewhere else first, please let me know where. And please join me in hoping Raimi sticks to Horror from now on.

More, anon.
Prospero
You have read this article Bruce Campbell / Drag Me to Hell / Evil Dead / Horror / James Franco / Lazy / Movies / On Directing / On Writing / Sam Raimi / Side By Side / The Wizard of Oz with the title July 2013. You can bookmark this page URL http://tammycross.blogspot.com/2013/07/everything-groovy-is-bad-again.html. Thanks!
Sunday, July 21, 2013

Review: "The Conjuring"

"See what you made me do... "
My Birthday Celebration 2013 continues and Dear D treated me to the 7:45 screening of director James Wan's 'Based on the True Story' much-touted (currently at 84% Fresh on RottenTomatoes -- almost unheard of for a horror movie) The Conjuring at our favorite (and mutually local) multiplex.

After a brief prologue involving a rather terrifying doll and the introduction of so-called 'Demonologists,'  Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) Warren, we meet Roger (Ron Livingston) and Carolyn (Lily Taylor) Perron as they move themselves and their five daughters from NJ to a secluded house in rural Rhode Island in 1971. The family is excited to explore their new digs but their dog refuses to enter (D turned to me and whispered "Leave. Leave now.") and the horrible things start to happen almost immediately. By the time Carolyn convinces the Warrens to help them, the family is sleeping together in the living room; doors are tied shut to prevent them from rattling and banging; Carolyn is covered in mysterious bruises and the girls are terrified. The Warrens determine that this not a haunting, but an attempt at demonic possession and vow to get a priest to exorcise the demonic entity. Sadly, the script is by brothers Chad and Carey Hayes (House of Wax; The Reaping) and it never reaches the height of creepy as Wan's last movie (written with Wan's Saw and Dead Silence partner Leigh Whannel), Insidious. 

A caveat - as a non-believer, possession movies (nope, not even The Exorcist) just aren't scary to me (not that any horror movie is ever really 'scary' to a jaded horror fan like Uncle P). But while D and most of the very packed audience jumped and screamed a whole lot more than I did (I'll admit to jumping once -- the maid!!), but the creepy finesse of Insidious just wasn't quite there. What saves the movie are the earnest performances of the very talented cast who sell some pretty absurd dialog with earnest conviction. Wilson is fine as usual and Livingston (whose character is a trucker, leaving him away from home for work) isn't given enough to do. Taylor, an Indie darling whose last horror movie was the deplorable remake of The Haunting, gives one of her best performances to date as a loving, terrified mom desperate to keep her equally terrified family safe. But this is far and away Farmiga's movie. Having just spent the past spring watching her astonishing performance as Norma Bates on AMC's "Bates Motel" and seeing her create and totally lose herself in diametrically opposed character in a very different genre piece, it's obvious she she should make more scary stuff. Another Indie darling, Farmiga seems so at home in genre work and you can't take your eyes off of her whenever she's onscreen. Lorraine comes across as both strong in faith and character and I almost believed she could see the evil she claimed to see.

Joseph Bishara's (Insidious) score works well and allows plenty of room for nostalgic period music while all of the design and art direction gets the 70's pretty right (at least as well as I can remember, I was actually quite young in 1971... sigh... ). Don't get me wrong, The Conjuring is hardly a bad movie and not even a bad horror movie. It just wasn't quite creepy enough for me to make it a great horror movie. It's fun and has lots of shocks and weirdness and appropriate, tension-relieving humor as any good horror movie should and Wan does know how to build suspense, even if the payoffs weren't always what I hoped they could have been. Of course, a few of the payoffs are visually striking and startling at the same time. The movie works best at those moments, but they're to few and far between to make up for things like a non-religious family immediately buying into the religious aspects that the Warrens extoll to them without question.

D loved it, saying it was one of the scariest movies he'd ever seen. I must admit to enjoying his reactions and jumps and yelps even more than the movie (you know I love you, D!!). I can understand why this movie (just like The Exorcist) works for so many people. It just missed for Uncle P. **1.2 (Two and a Half Stars). The Conjuring  is rated R for "Terror." And for the first time in a long time, I saw no inappropriately young people in the audience! Thanks for being responsible, Hamilton, NJ movie-goers!



The Warrens are real people, though Ed passed away in 2006. There is already talk of a franchise surrounding the couple's exploits as 'paranormal investigators' and there is an amusing Easter Egg in the end referencing their most famous (and highly-debated) case in one Amityville, NY.

More, anon.
Prospero
You have read this article Dear D / Horror / James Wan / Lily Taylor / Movies / Patrick Wilson / Reviews / Vera Farmiga with the title July 2013. You can bookmark this page URL http://tammycross.blogspot.com/2013/07/review-conjuring.html. Thanks!
Saturday, July 20, 2013

4.5 Minutes of Intensity and Genius

I know, I know. Anyone who cares has probably already seen this. In fact, I'm not even sure where I foumd it - probably via Facebook on the 'I Love The Walking Dead' page. It doesn't matter, really, anymore.

What matters is how amped up Season 4 seems to be, at least from the ComicCon trailer embedded below. To this I say: "HELL YES!!"

If you know me at all, you know I love horror movies and especially zombie movies. And I cannot wait until AMC's "The Walking Dead" regains the top spot on my Top Ten TV Dramas list this year (if I end up doing one... who the heck knows, anymore?). TWD's astonishing 6-episode Season One was truly ground-breaking television and deserved every accolade afforded it. Season Two was... slow, I suppose (hey - even "Lost" had Nicki and Paolo), but built to a very intense second half. Season Three was better than Two, but not up to Season One's quality, which I ascribe to the firing of series creator (and the single best film interpreter of the works of Stephen King), Frank Darabont.

Now under the direction of chief make-up designer Greg Nicotero, the folks at AMC certainly seem to have listened to the fans and considerably  raised the stakes for Season Four. Why do I doubt the trailer's final message? See for yourselves (and watch Full Screen):



Damn! I don't know who is more upset about waiting until October: Uncle P; My Sister; My Mother; My Coworker; My Other Coworker; My College Friend or My College Friend's Daughter. It doesn't matter because even after 3 seasons, I am stupefied by the fact that TWD (along with several other Horror/Fantasy/Sci-Fi shows) is Mom's favorite TV drama. She may not always understand the supernatural/Sci-Fi elements in many of these shows, but she sure appreciates compelling characters and exciting story-telling. The apple doesn't fall far... though it seems I've actually turned her opinion about genre entertainment, even if I have to explain it to her at length.  But that's not a bad thing at all.

More, anon.
Prospero


You have read this article AMC / ComicCon / Horror / My Friends / My Mother / My Sister / The Walking Dead / Trailers / TV / Uncle P / Zombies with the title July 2013. You can bookmark this page URL http://tammycross.blogspot.com/2013/07/45-minutes-of-intensity-and-genius.html. Thanks!
Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Gayest Muppets You'll See on My Birthday

Yes, today is Uncle P's birthday. I share it with Vin Diesel; Nelson Mandela; Wendy Williams; Kristen Bell; John Glenn; Red Skelton; Richard Branson; James Brolin; Hunter S. Thompson; Harriet Nelson; Martha Reeves; Elizabeth McGovern (born the same year); Grant Bowler; Paul Verhoeven and my fellow blogger, Horror fan, Facebook friend and Jersey Boy, Pax Romano (among others). 

My poor mother was in labor with me for 46 hours in a Trenton, NJ hospital without air-conditioning during what is traditionally the hottest week of the year. I was two weeks late in a time before planned Caesareans and induced labor. Given the current weather conditions, I can't believe she loves me as much as she does. And while I am hardly a believer in anything supernatural, the Zodiacal descriptions ascribed to my birth date are usually dead-on: Creative; homebody; romantic; family-oriented; sensitive; quirky; adventurous (to a point); imaginative and fiercely loyal. I'd like to think that most of those qualities apply. In my particular case, they often forget moody; restless; insomniacal (yes, I think I made up yet another new word) and just plain weird. Most (if not, all) of my friends will agree to that last one. 

All that aside, having reached an age I couldn't even begin to imagine as a child, I have also become a vociferous defender of LGBTQ rights; an advocate against bullying; a supporter of anti-suicide causes and, despite the unlikelihood of being a participant, a staunch supporter of Marriage Equality.

Which brings me to the video (via) which I am about to share. While neither an authorized product of Henson Productions or its parent company, Disney (both of which are supportive of LGBTQ causes and employees), this version of "The Rainbow Connection" (sung by a Kermit impersonator) speaks for so many folks in a funny and clever way. I hope that my sharing it will help make it go viral. 



If your birthday was today, please let me know. If you are a fellow Cancerian (or 'Moonchild'), please let me know. Hell, if you enjoyed the video or anything I have to say, please let me know. I always love hearing from you. 

More. anon.
Prospero
You have read this article Cancer / Celebrity / Happy Birthday to Me / LGBTQ / Marriage Equality / Moonchild / Music Video / The Muppets / Uncle P with the title July 2013. You can bookmark this page URL http://tammycross.blogspot.com/2013/07/the-gayest-muppets-you-see-on-my.html. Thanks!
Wednesday, July 17, 2013

5 For; 5 Against: "World War Z"

Mireille Enos and Brad Pitt in World War Z
I'm back! After 5 1/2 days in Chicago (part business/part pleasure), I'm home and back online. I had a great time with co-workers and friends (met up with a High School friend and her husband who just happened to be vacationing there at the same time) and got to explore Hyde Park, a part of Chicago with which I was previously unfamiliar and apparently the home of the Obama family. I also got to visit the Shedd Aquarium and wade in the waters of Lake Michigan (the first time I've ever had my feet in a lake!) where I got to see not only many hot, mostly naked gay guys but got a look at the building where Bob Newhart lived with Suzanne Pleshette in the 70's. I ate lots of great food (Astoundingly delicious Pineapple Curry Shrimp at Chant; amazing -- and huge! -- Apple Pie at Clarke's and super yummy Rigatoni Bolognese at Pizza Capri). I also got to spend time with two terrific Chicagoans, at least one of whom managed to get me very drunk (at Scot's Bar) without taking advantage of me (though there were at least two other patrons I would have happily taken advantage of -- TMI?). Anyway...

And since July in Chicago is almost as intensely hot and humid as July in the Delaware Valley, I took yesterday afternoon to visit the new Harper Theatre in an effort to escape yesterday's oppressive heat (though I've found it much hotter, here at home).  There were several movies I wanted to see playing at the Harper, but I'd already promised to see a couple of them with other friends, so I settled on a movie I hadn't originally planned on seeing at all: World War Z. And since it's been out for a while and I'm still pretty exhausted from my trip (I need a vacation from my vacation), here's my "Jeep Guy" 5 For/Five Against:

Five For:

5. The movie takes little (if any) time getting started, though it should be obvious to any Philadelphian that Prague is a poor substitute for the real Philly.

4. There are some rather amazing SFX, including some very creepy zombies.

3. Director Marc Forster knows how to deliver an exciting action sequence.

2. Marco Beltrami's score is almost as perfect as his other works.

1. The truly international cast works well together, delivering some excellent performances despite the film's overtly silly premise.

Five Against:

5. World War Z is not a zombie movie. It feels more like an infection movie, much like Steven Soderbergh's Contagion

4. Brad Pitt (like many former Hollywood Hotties) is not aging well, and it shows (though that may well have been the director's intention).

3. Swarming zombies. Like the Marabunta ants in The Naked Jungle, the zombies in World War Z climb on top of one another to reach their prey, suggesting a previously unseen (and nonsensical) hive mentality presented in any other zombie movie ever made.

2. Matthew Fox is completely wasted in a role which could have played by any other day-player. 

1. This movie has little, if anything, to do with the novel on which it is based. Max Brooks' novel (which bored Uncle P to death) had no true through-narrative. Each chapter detailed the experience of a specific person in a different part of the world as told to a UN investigator after the events described. While the screenplay (by three writers, including "Lost" writer Damon Lindelof) attempts to draw the disparate elements together, it ultimately fails to thrill, scare or cause the audience to care about the non-ending.

I'm hardly surprised that I didn't actually like this movie, though I gave the benefit of the doubt. Eschewing the gore that is traditional to the genre (almost every zombie kill is made off-screen) and concentrating instead on the search for a cure, World War Z fails as a Zombie movie while almost succeeding as an Action Thriller. And while the truly International cast mostly proves themselves up to the task, we are left wondering exactly what the task was.

** (Two Out of Four Stars).



More, anon.
Prospero


You have read this article Action Movies / Brad Pitt / Chicago / Five For; Five Against / Food / Horror / Movies / Reviews / Zombies with the title July 2013. You can bookmark this page URL http://tammycross.blogspot.com/2013/07/5-for-5-against-war-z.html. Thanks!
Thursday, July 11, 2013

My Kind of Town

Chicago Is

Uncle P is off to my favorite U.S. city for a brief business trip and then four days of vacation, hanging out with friends (one of whom is a High School friend who will also be vacationing there from California at the same time); visiting museums; playing at the Navy Pier; eating in amazing restaurants; taking the Architectural Tour and assorted other distractions. I hope 4 days will be enough to do all I want to do.

I'll be back on Wednesday night, but since Thursday is my birthday, I probably won't be writing much before Friday. I feel like a jerk for missing Caliban's Revenge's 5th Anniversary post the other day, but I promise to make it up to you, soon.

In the meantime, here's the latest video from Steve "All-American Boy" Grand, a cover of L'il Wayne's "How To Love (Starchild)" (via):



Have a great weekend, everyone!

More, anon.
Prospero


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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Newest Gayest Music Videos You'll See This Week

Eli Lieb
There seems to have been an absolute explosion of gay recording artists releasing new songs and videos this month. 

On the heels of Steve Grand's viral hit "All-American Boy" (already touted earlier this month) comes Tom Goss' "Bears" and now (via) comes the adorable Eli Lieb with "Young Love." 

At Uncle P's age, it amazes me that so many young artists are producing fearless and truthful works about who they are. While these days I'm out to just about everybody (with the exception of a few very elderly and very Catholic aunts and uncles who just don't need to know, though I'm sure they must suspect by now), when I was Grand, Goss and Lieb's age, I was still very much closeted to all but my closest friends.

Openly gay artists like the three gentlemen cited above (along with folks like Chely Wright; Adam Lambert and Drake Jensen) give me hope that future generations of LGBT people will eventually be fully recognized as equals and celebrated for their talents and not just their sexuality. 

"If music be the food of love, play on." 







More, anon.
Prospero


You have read this article Bullying / Chely Wright / Drake Jensen / Eli Lieb / Gay Bears / Gay Music / LGBT / Love Is Love / Music / Music Video / New Music / Steve Grand / The Gayest Thing with the title July 2013. You can bookmark this page URL http://tammycross.blogspot.com/2013/07/the-newest-gayest-music-videos-you-see.html. Thanks!
Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Domino Effect?

The ACLU has filed a legal challenge to my home state's Marriage Equality ban. Similar suits have also been filed in Virginia and North Carolina. 

And it's about time. 

Since SCOTUS ruled Article 3 of the DOMA Act Unconstitutional last month, we can expect such suits being filed in the remaining 38 states which currently do not allow for Marriage Equality. And one by one, just like lined-up dominoes, we can anticipate those anti-gay laws to fall on the side of fairness and "Equality Under the Law." I don't expect it to be an easy fight. Pennsylvania's current Repugnican Governor Tom Corbett, like many of his dinosaur cronies, is against Marriage Equality. But in light of SCOTUS' recent decision on DOMA, the state where America was founded is likely to join the current 12 states and DC in legalizing love within the year (though I think my native state of NJ will be first, despite Governor Krispie Kreme's* opposition).

Yes, there are plenty of PA rednecks who live the part of my state I like to refer to as 'Pennsyltucky,' who rant and rave, but the tide has been turning for quite some time and I suspect the progressive thinkers in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh (what's up with that superfluous H?) will prevail. 

I can see the whole country eventually turning toward reason as more and more people realize that being gay is not a choice, especially if the LGBTQ community continues to make ourselves known. Yes, the haters will probably always be there, just like the racists and anti-Semitics. But even their numbers are (thankfully) dwindling. Frightened, uneducated jerks like Pat Robertson; Maggie Gallagher; Brian Brown and Bryan Fischer will be silenced soon. And the creeps at the Westboro Baptist Church have long ago become laughingstocks. 

While Uncle P has no personal stake (and at my age is unlikely to do so) in the matter, I hope that when I am truly old and decrepit, those who come after will enjoy the rights and privileges afforded every other American citizen. 

You've probably seen this Australian Equality promo before, but I think it's worth repeating:




*Yes, I went there. You hate me? I hate you. Nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah!

More, anon.
Prospero
You have read this article Civil Rights; Equality / DOMA / Gay / LGBT Rights / LGBTQ / Marriage Equality / Pennsylvania / SCOTUS / Uncle P with the title July 2013. You can bookmark this page URL http://tammycross.blogspot.com/2013/07/the-domino-effect.html. Thanks!
Monday, July 8, 2013

A TV Quickie - Missing MST3K

Nope, LEGO versions of Joel and the Bots just don't do it. Over its 10 year run on Comedy Central and Sci-Fi (long before it was SyFy), "Mystery Science Theatre 3000" entertained me and my friends with some of the snarkiest, silliest most outrageous and often very obscure comedic references ever. 

The premise revolved around an ordinary human (Joel Hodgson and later, Mike Nelson) trapped aboard a space station with four robots (Cambot; Gypsy; Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot) who is forced to watch bad movies as part of an evil experiment. Joel, Mike, Tom and Crow would then spend the next two hours making fun of the movie (and sometimes shorts) they were watching with more-often-than-not hilarious results. If you are a fan, you know how brilliant the show could be. If you aren't familiar, go to YouTube (after you finish reading this post) and watch it!

I know I've blogged about this show before, but the lunatics at Io9 recently posted "The 15 Most Disturbing Host MST3K Segments" and it got me nostalgic for both the 90's and the show.

Here are just a few of my favorite clips, bits, movies and segments:















And here's a fan-made MST version of Twilight:



 While the idea lives on at RiffTrax and the gang occasionally does live events broadcast to movie theaters nationwide, it's just not the same. Someone bring this show back, please!

More, anon
Prospero
You have read this article Bad Movies / Clips / Comedy / Funny / MST3K / Nonsense / TV / YouTube with the title July 2013. You can bookmark this page URL http://tammycross.blogspot.com/2013/07/a-tv-quickie-missing-mst3k.html. Thanks!
Friday, July 5, 2013

Choose Your Poison

Uncle P is currently the victim of some sort of plant poison. I doubt it's poison ivy as a particularly bad bout with it as a child left me immune. The weeds, vines and unwanted tees growing along my neighbors' fences which surround my back yard (or 'garden' for my UK, NZ ad AU readers) are incredibly varied and often unidentifiable. 

I know there's lots of Rose of Sharon, Honeysuckle and Briar, though there are dozens more growing over, through and under the various fences surrounding my property. If you follow me regularly, you know I am still in the process of cleaning up the debris left by my well-intentioned BIL in May. I suspect it is during this clean-up that I contracted whatever it is that has left my ankles, left thigh and left arm with angry, itchy and downright nasty red rashes which are driving me insane.

Yes, I am using both cortisone cream for the itch and a product recommended by both a dear friend and my local pharmacist to stop the rash's spread. Both are helping, but neither seems to be curing. Every time I think one of the rashes is healing, another one appears on a new limb or a new area of an already affected limb. It burns. It itches. It's ugly. I hate it.

One week from today, Uncle P will be visiting Chicago for both business and vacation. I'll be meeting up with at least two dear friends and hopefully having some non-committed fun (if you know what I mean - nudge, nudge, wink,wink) and I certainly hope these rashes are long gone before then. I don't consider myself a 'Prize' by any means and this unfortunate turn of events certainly doesn't help to upgrade my desirability. 

Honestly, I think my life could be included in the Lemony Snicket books, "A Series of Unfortunate Events." Every time I think things are going well, something comes along to say "Eff You and Your Life!" Of course, this is nothing more than a "First World Problem" or a "White Whine." I know there are people in the world with far worse problems than an uncomfortable rash. It still seems like these kinds of nuisances pop up at the worst possible times...

Of course, I could just be a whiny d-bag who doesn't appreciate how good my life is, compared to many. I'll leave that up to you to decide. In the meantime, I'll be doing my best not to scratch.

At least I know this isn't the issue (nor will it ever be):



More, anon.
Prospero


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Thursday, July 4, 2013

Steve Grand Update

Steve Grand
Since I posted about the gorgeous, hot and talented singer/song-writer Steve Grand, I've found both his Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/SteveGrandArtist) and Twitter (@SteveGrandMusic) pages.

Is it creepy/stalkery that I'm following him on both? Not really. Yes, I certainly appreciate how attractive Steve is. But I appreciate his talent, even more. My musical tastes can usually best be described as eclectic, to say the least. When I find a new artist who's work not only hits home as precisely as "All-American Boy" but does so so very well, I have to stand up and sing his or her praises. 

Damn! Now I sound like a giddy teenager blogging about his newest crush. I'm not kidding when I say Grand is going to be a major cross-over artist, in more ways than one. First: Country/Pop. Second: Gay/Straight. Everyone has experienced an unrequited love or crush. It's part of the Human Condition. If you haven't watched the video for "All-American Boy," jump back a post and do so. You won't regret it. Steve Grand is the real deal. I mean, when have I ever posted about the same subject, twice in a row? I guess I have no choice but to add him to my ever-growing list of obsessions.

More, anon.
Prospero
You have read this article Cute Boys / FaceBook / Hot / New Music / New Obsession / Obsessions / Steve Grand / Twitter / Updates with the title July 2013. You can bookmark this page URL http://tammycross.blogspot.com/2013/07/steve-grand-update.html. Thanks!
Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Gayest New Music and Hottest Boys You'll See This 1st Gay 4th of July

Happy Gay Independence Day!



This Independence Day has new meaning to millions of LGBTQ people all over our country, who are celebrating the deaths of DOMA and Proposition 8. For the first time in my life, our government no longer considers us "Less Than." We are closer and closer to joining the 13 (and soon to be fifteen with Uruguay and New Zealand's Marriage Equality laws taking effect next month) countries who have come into the 21st Century and recognized that there is nothing wrong, unnatural, perverse or sinful in love. When we're long gone, I hope someone finds and reads all our archived blogs and says the same thing we now say about "Whites Only" fountains and entrances and theater seating. 'Equality under the law.' Finally.

And apropos of both the First Gay Independence Day and my recent new music tear, I have discovered a second country artist I actually like (I'll talk about big ole Country Bear Drake Jensen and his anti-bullying anthem "Scars" in another post, soon). Today is all about gorgeous and so very hot Steve Grand and his debut single "All-American Boy." Those who've known Uncle P since the late 80's will understand why this song and video mean so much to me. And after you watch it, I'll tell you why. Here (via) is "All-American Boy":



So, there are three major differences in Steve's story and mine. First, my All-American Boy already knew I was in love with him because everyone I told and asked not to tell him, told him anyway. Second, we didn't end in an awkward attempt at a kiss, but rather a very difficult (but ultimately cathartic and beneficial) conversation during a long drive in the country, necessitated by the fact that I was about to direct him in one of the greatest romances of all time and facilitated beforehand by a wonderful and more-than competent therapist (thanks, Jim, wherever you are!). And third, I am not nor have I have been anywhere near as hot as young Mr. Grand. So now you know a little bit about me that you didn't know before.

I hope my U.S. readers have the same 4-day weekend I have. And thank you to all the police; firefighters; EMTs; doctors; nurses; technicians; pharmacists and other service workers who don't. I hope you're getting lots of OT or DT in exchange. You deserve it. Have a safe and happy holiday, America. I can't remember a happier one for me, even with that nostalgically bittersweet video (of course, Steve and his co-star help make it a little sweeter). Grand's website is under construction, so there's nothing to really link to him yet, but I'll be looking out for him and will surely post about him again. Like Father Tiger, if he keeps putting out great music like this, I'm sure he'll be around a while.

For the first time in a long time, I'm starting to (just a little bit) regain my faith in Humanity.

I'll be posting at least once or twice more before celebrating the Caliban's Revenge 5th Anniversary Super Post on July 9th. I hope I'm able to live up to the hype!

More, anon.
Prospero

You have read this article Country Music / Cute Boys / Gay / Holiday Weekends / Holidays / Hot / LGBT / Music Video / New Music / Sexy / Steve Grand / The Gayest Thing / TMI / Uncle P with the title July 2013. You can bookmark this page URL http://tammycross.blogspot.com/2013/07/the-gayest-new-music-and-hottest-boys.html. Thanks!

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