May 30, 2012

How To Slate A Movie, Tarantino-Style

I came across this delightful little montage on a friend's Facebook feed earlier this month and stored it away for a rainy day. Or a rainy evening.  So here it tis; a compilation of the creative slating skills of Quentin Tarantino's saucy and smart-assed 2nd AC on INGLORIOUS BASTERDS.

This is easily my favorite Tarantino movies and also one of the my favorite films of the new millenium.  So the fact that the slating on this movie is equally amazing only makes sense.  What's most insightful about this too is the amount of setups for a given scene as Tarantino goes through the alphabet once, twice and even three times. That means there are sometimes more than 48 shots for one given scene.  Wow. That's a hells-a-lot of coverage but on a big budget film, that is the luxury you get.

Fortunately, Taranatino made the most of his shots.  And his 2nd made the most of her slates.

May 29, 2012

A Twitter Contest Celebrating 35th Anniversary of STAR WARS

Over at The New Yorker's website, they threw a Twitter contest to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the release of STAR WARS.  Yes, it was Memorial Day weekend 1977 when George Lucas' blockbuster sci-fi epic hit screens across the country and spawned lines around the block.  So to commemorate the occassion, the magazine asked readers to sum up the movie's plot in a Tweet.  That's right--140 characters to summarize a cultural touchstone and a legendary film.  Easy right?  :)

I'm actually not that crazy about the two winners, which you can read about in full here, but there were a few runners up that caught my attention.  

@fabiorojas: “Whiny, but gifted, teenager trashes spiffy new military base”   LOL!
@samanthaglavin: “In a galaxy far far away, witty robots save stupid humans from trouble over and over again, set to a dramatic musical score”  ROTFL!
And then my favorite for it's simplicity and honesty. How would you sum it all up? Put your tweet in the comment below....or just tweet it!

@mattyshaz: “‘Star Wars’ pretty much sums it up.”

May 24, 2012

President Obama's Remarkable Record On Equality

There has been a lot of cranky complaints from gay activists since President Obama took office; that he was not doing enough, that he was not moving quickly enough, and that he was just paying lip service to the support of the LGBT community and the cause of equality for all.  However, when you truly look at this president's record, it's remarkable what has actually been accomplished in less than four years.  I would go so far as to say it's astounding. His administration has made it clear over and over again that gay rights are civil rights. Nothing more and nothing less. And that is revolutionary.

This progress is made even clearer in a new video released by the Obama campaign today which summarizes the president's bona fides for the cause of equality.  Is there room for improvement? Certainly.  That's what a second term is for. People seriously need to start looking at how this glass is more than half-full and get to work on re-electing the LGBT community's greatest Oval Office advocate in history.

May 23, 2012

Get Ready For The Eyes Of T.J. Mecklenberg In 3D

Film geeks on the Internet are abuzz today with the release of the first full trailer for Baz Luhrman's epic reimagining of THE GREAT GATSBY.  And it is epic indeed.  It was also shot in 3D and the trailer has a few shots which indicate how this might work (i.e. glittery confetti falling at a party). It also has an anachronistic soundtrack which one would expect from Luhrman, who infused 70s disco into fin de siecle Paris.  But I'm not so sure about the rap and the Gatz mixing here. However, it is common these days for contemporary songs to be used in period trailers strictly for marketing purposes.

While this does look exciting (New York in the ' color!), it also gave me a bit of a sinking feeling as I recalled another N.Y.C. early 20th century epic from another mad movie genius;  2005's KING KONG courtesy of Peter Jackson. That one was pretty to look at but ended up being a snooze.  We'll have to wait until Christmas Day to see if Luhrman's glitzy take on one of the great American novels has more to it than just pretty pictures.

May 22, 2012

MAD MEN Features New York's Own Hare Krishna's

This week's episode of MAD MEN featured a trip to the Hare Krishna's hangout on Second Avenue in the East Village.  The formerly kinda cute Paul (who I wrote about here a couple years ago) had shaved his head and started chanting with other hippies seeking enlightenment and love.

Over on The Bowery Boys website, their weekly MAD MEN-related history lesson provides some great background on all this.  The Krishna movement got its start in New York in 1966 when A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, a Hindu teacher and proponent of Gaudiya Vaishnavism, arrived from India and started gathering followers who believed in leaving their earthly possessions behind. One of their most famous early followers?  None other than Beat poet Allan Ginsberg.

The Krishnas hit the mainstream two years later in 1968 when they were featured in a number from the Broadway musical HAIR. Below is a clip of that number from the film version directed by Milos Forman that was released in 1979. I look forward to some reference to HAIR in the next season of MAD MEN.  OMG--Maybe Megan will audition for the show's off-bway version?!

May 19, 2012


When I first saw the trailer for this movie, I have to admit I was excited.  First, there's all the great 80's pop/rock music from Journey, Pat Benatar, and Night Ranger.  But even more exciting to me as a filmmaker was knowing that this was all being directed by HAIRSPRAY helmer Adam Shankman.  The musical adaptation of the John Waters classic was one of my favorite movie musicals in a long time and I dragged a number of friends to see it in the theatre. I went 3 times that summer!

Now, a new clip from ROCK OF AGES has surfaced featuring Mary J. Blige giving her own spin to "Any Way You Want It".  Forget Tom Cruise singing...I can't wait to see more Mary J.!

May 18, 2012

Getting Close To The Top Of The World

Yesterday was a crystal-clear spring day in New York. When I was walking home for lunch, I turned onto my street and noticed a beam being raised into place a thousand feet in the air at the top of the new 1 World Trade Center building.  The clarity of the steel beams against the blue sky was remarkable, especially after a week when the tower was covered in clouds, fog and rain. So I snapped a few photos which I've posted below.

The pictures came out incredibly blue but that's not just due to the sky. I had just been shooting some video indoors with the same camera and had it on the incandescent setting.  But, in a way, it ended up as an interesting, if unintentional, stylistic choice.

Though there is a new controversy over what it's official height will be, construction workers are getting very close to the top of the structure.  The new WTC is set to top out next month. Yet already the new building has claimed its space in the downtown skyline, balancing out the lower end of the island while providing a new "due south" to help people get their bearings in the urban jungle of Manhattan.

May 17, 2012

The Queen Of Disco Is Dead, Long Live The Queen

Donna Summer, whose name was synonymous with disco, died today after a battle with cancer.  She was 63 years old.  I grew up with all her disco music and have fond memories of "Last Dance" from high school and beyond.  It seemed that was always the song that was played at the end of any dance or wedding for about 20 years, right?

However, in memory of Donna, I'm posting not one of her disco songs but one of my guilty pleasures; a sizable hit she had from the late 80's call "This Time I Know It's For Real." This song, more than any of hers, has a special personal memory, connected to a certain place and time and, well, even a certain person.  ;)  The video however is a crazy! A catalogue of the decades' music video memes: running in place dance...check, lots of fog...check, hand claps closups....check, big hair/earrings....double check!  But, in the end, the song is the thing, as is Donna's lovely voice. Which is now really gone....

May 16, 2012

ABC Goes South To NASHVILLE For A New Musical Show

This week, advertisers in New York get a sneak peek at all the networks' upcoming fall schedules.  It's called the "upfronts" and used to be strictly industry. But lately, the upfronts have become a venue for the broadcast networks to also titillate and tease their audience in general, as they put promo trailers for their new shows up on their websites and even on YouTube.

I watched a bunch of them today over at Videogum and one that stood out was ABC's NASHVILLE. It looks to be a musical show ala SMASH but set in the world of country music. The main thing that got my attention was that it stars Connie Britton from FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS and my favorite show last year AMERICAN HORROR STORY. It'll be interesting to see just how much music is actually in the show.

May 15, 2012

Randy Rainbow Chats With John Travolta About Massage

Randy Rainbow has a new video out making sport of the whole Travolta-kerfuffle regarding his alleged harassment of male masseurs.  Very funny stuff...especially the GREASE references.  Enjoy!

May 14, 2012

Tennessee Williams' Final Play IN MASKS OUTRAGEOUS & AUSTERE

This weekend, I had a chance to see the first production of Tennessee Williams' last play over at the Culture Project on Bleecker Street.  Williams spent the final four years of his life writing and rewriting (never to his complete satisfaction) this show about a Southern grand dame being held hostage at a mysterious beachfront home, popping pills and drinking Champagne with her gay husband and his young lover.

If the setup sounds somewhat familiar, it is a bit like Tennessee's greatest hits.  However, there was something strikingly modern about the language and the frank discussion of the sexuality of her husband. No hidden secrets and unspoken lies here....Williams lays it all out, going so far as to have the husband and his consort show their affection for each other right in front of Babe.  Written between 1979 and 1983, there is a blithe tone to the play's treatment of homosexuality and sexuality in general.  There is even a little Williams diatribe against "computers" which is surprisingly prescient. 

The show itself was beautifully produced with a surreal and somewhat hi-tech setting.  However, it ran a bit too long and could use some more strong editing.  This could be a very tight 1 1/2 hour show as opposed to a nearly 2 1/2 hour one. Shirley Knight (who was actually in a Tennessee Williams' movie, SWEET BIRD OF YOUTH) did a remarkable job playing Babe but the rest of the cast was a bit uneven.  Yet, overall, it seems like there is a lot of potential in this swan-song of a play.

May 11, 2012

The White House Gets A Colorful Paint Job For THE NEW YORKER

THE NEW YORKER has created another one of their striking and bold covers for next week's issue. To commemorate President Obama's historic support of marriage equality this week, artist Bob Staake gave the South Portico a rainbow-colored paint job that mimics the colors found in the rainbow pride flag.

There's a nice little quote on THE NEW YORKER site, explaining his work. "I am honored to be doing this cover. It’s a celebratory moment for our country, and that’s what I tried to capture. (I don’t especially like those rainbow colors, but they are what they are—I had to use them.) I wanted to celebrate the bravery of the President’s statement—a statement long overdue—but all the more appreciated in this political year. We are on the right side of history."

May 10, 2012

Celebrating Obama's Historic Statement On Marriage Equality

President Obama made history yesterday by publicly announcing his support for marriage equality. While there was some grumbling that it took so long and that he has not vowed to make it federal priority, there was also a great deal of joy and excitement that he took to his bully pulpit to take a stand for equal rights for all Americans when it comes to marriage.  The bottom line is that there is no diminishing the historic importance of the President's announcement in support of marriage equality, which remains a highly contentious political issue. There were some comparisons to LBJ's embrace of the civil rights movement (and, famously, its language) when he spoke to Congress in 1964.  

Needless to say, it was a day and night to celebrate.  Some did it offline in New York last night.  While others did it online.  I was delighted to get a link sent to me of a celebratory Tumblr called "When Obama Endorsed Marriage Equality." It's a lively mix of photos and animated GIFs capturing moments of elation, happiness, and sheer joy.  Check it out and celebrate this historic moment before it gets dragged through the mud in the upcoming presidential slog...I mean, campaign. 

May 9, 2012

MAD MEN Makes Some Musical History

On this week's MAD MEN, the episode ended with Don Draper in his empty living room playing a cut from the "new" Beatles album REVOLVER, the proto-trippy "Tommorow Never Knows".  It was a cool and poignant moment for Don which transitioned into a montage of other characters at their own crossroads. But what was ever cooler is that it was the first use of a Beatles song on a dramatic television show.  Ever.

The Beatles licensing group Apple Corps are notoriously stingy about selling the songs for use in programming on TV and films.  Actually, I remember being told in film school there were two artists whose songs were essentially off-limits: the Beatles and Bruce Springsteen.  And it's not because the cost would be astronomical. It's because both the Beatles and Bruce didn't want to dilute their unique musical brands. While this sort of licensing can make a band enormous amounts of money (hello Journey!), it also can make songs less special.

There's an article in the TIMES this week about the process of getting the Beatles to agree to the MAD MEN use. It was not easy, according to creator Matthew Weiner. And it did cost a reported $250,000.

May 8, 2012

Zach Walls Is Not Running For Office But He Has Written A Book

In April, I attended the GLAAD Media Awards here in New York where one of the best speeches of the night was given by 21 year old Zach Walls.  In early 2011, Walls shot to YouTube fame when he spoke before the Iowa Judiciary Committee about being raised by two lesbian moms and gave an impassioned defense of his upbringing, summarized in this line: "the sexual orientation of my parents has zero effect on the content of my character." At the GLAAD event, Walls spoke so clearly and passionately that the buzz at our table was wondering when this articulate young man would be running for office.

In an interview over at Queerty today, Walls says he has no plans to run for office right now and is focusing on finishing his college studies in environmental engineering.  But he has not ruled it out and, in fact, could be seen as taking the first major step for any political candidate these days--he has written a memoir.  MY TWO MOMS, out in time for Mother's Day of course, is about growing up with his now semi-famous family.  Each chapter is headed with one word taken from the Boy Scouts oath (thrifty, brave, reverent, etc.).  Now if that isn't a savvy politician in the making!  Let's hope the book, in stores today, becomes Zach's DREAMS FROM MY FATHER...and that we'll see him on the national stage in 2028.

May 5, 2012

SATURDAY SPECIAL: Foodies Eat Up New York

Two very funny friends of mine, Randy Eisenberg and Sid Karger, have a new webseries which is worth checking out.  It's called FOODIES and makes sport of the way a certain subset of gay urban male in New York City makes food eating a sport.  The first episode follows them as they nosh their way through an hors d'oeuvre plate expending as much energy properly pronouncing the exotic places where their snacks came from as they do actually eating them. (Yes, I've been to THAT cocktail party!) In episode two, they do a hilarious riff on New Yorkers' obsession with of-the-moment restaurants.

There are four episodes in total so check them all out on YouTube....and hopefully there will be more comedy treats to come.

May 4, 2012

Angela Di Carlo's MAD MEN Spoof Guest Stars Casey Spooner

Last night, I got to attend the premiere of my friend Ange's newest episode of her MAD MEN spoof-serial, THE MAD WORLD OF MISS HATHAWAY.  This one featured a new spin on "Zou Bisou" and a guest starring role for Casey Spooner.

I had a blast and I wrote it up for the NEXUS, Next Magazine's nightlife blog.  Check it out....and if you don't have plans tonight, go and see it live @ The Wild Project. Happy Weekend!

May 3, 2012

Could Your Cat Be An Amazing Photographer Too?

The Tribeca Film Festival wrapped last week and one of the more talked about shorts was CATCAM.  It's about a German engineer named Juergen Perhold living in the South who has a very adventurous cat named Mr. Lee who would disappear for days at a time.  Curious what his cat was up to, Juergen engineered a little "catcam" that hung around Mr. Lee's neck that recorded 500 photos at different intervals of his cat's many adventures, like finding a snake or crawling through a drain.  

You can view Mr. Lee's photos (like the extremely artful shot above of a garage) on Juergen's website. And if you have a cat who wanders, you can buy a catcam of your own for just $53 dollars! Now you can see how your cat lives when you're not around.  It could seem like spying but, if your cat has as great an eye as Mr. Lee, who knows...your kitty's photos could be worth millions in the art world.

May 2, 2012

Does Anyone Remember The Original AVENGERS?

I keep seeing headlines and links to THE AVENGERS everywhere, referring to the new Marvel comics movie due out this Friday.  However, whenever I see these references to THE AVENGERS I think of something other than superheroes.  I recall the stylish Diana Rigg and Patrick Macknee wearing his smart black hat.  When I was a kid the British TV show THE AVENGERS was in syndication and always on in the afternoons or the weekends.  I don't really recall what it was about; something regarding spies maybe?  But I will never forget the sexy and stylish opening sequence and the awesome Bond-like theme song.  Oh yes....and Diana Rigg in that black vinyl jumpsuit.  Whoa.  Below is the later opening for show in glorious color which is also pretty cool looking too.

May 1, 2012

Remembering The Owner Of A Times Square Holdout The Grand Luncheonette

When I moved to NYC, 42nd Street was still pretty gritty and one of my favorite spots along the Deuce between 7th and 8th avenue was the Grand Lucheonette.  It was essentially a hot dog stand squeezed into the lobby entrance of one of the old grindhouses on the block.  It was a classic old New York joint that had been there since the 1940's which was run by a classic old New Yorker, Fred Hakim.

Hakim, age 83, died yesterday and got a lovely obit in the TIMES, recalling his place in the storied block's history as well as his stand against the gentrification which ultimately took his business in 1997 and changed 42nd Street into a corporate playground.  When Fred took ill last week, Jeremiah's Vanishing New York ran a lengthy post with photos (by Richard Estes) and video of the Luncheonette from back in the 90's just before it was closed. The video is especially beautiful with it's grainy quality and the utter lack of tourists!

Hakim said that the closing was ultimately a stroke of great luck as the theatre itself collapsed just a few weeks after his departure due to a combination of demolition work next door and high winds. Anyway, I will always remember him standing in the window and slinging dogs in this quaint relic of long gone era.