Wednesday, February 17, 2016

And the Oscar goes to...Leo. (Finally!)

I’ve always been a fan of Leonardo DiCaprio and his work. When Rose refused to make room for him on that wooden panel, I cried. When his character was killed in The Departed, I was destroyed. When he was denied an Oscar nomination for both these performances, my heart broke yet again. But I told myself; my heart will go on.

So despite the fact that the trailer for The Revenant looks utterly dreadful and I vehemently declared, “You can’t pay me to see that,” I did. I mean, how could I not? Leo’s winning every award under the sun for this performance, his Oscar buzz is at an all time high, and it’s Leo - I had no choice. I had to see it. And since I’m collecting $450 from the government this week while unemployed, I figured Uncle Sam wouldn’t mind if I added another $7.50 back into our economy for an afternoon matinee.

Well, to be honest; I’m still not really sure what to even think of this film or why it’s called The Revenant. What does that even mean? Much like Rose on that piece of wood, I might have to sit on this one for a few more days. It’s definitely not an easy film to watch due to the gruesome, graphic violence and imagery. And unless I blatantly missed something, I still have no idea exactly where or what year it all took place or even what the purpose really was. All I know is Leo, his half Indian son, Tom Hardy, a bunch of other unkempt characters and one hot ginger with great hair and great lips are running around in the middle of winter killing Native American Indians one minute and then befriending them the next. These men are all dressed in animal hides, traipsing through snow, crossing ice-cold rivers on foot, and eating raw animal meat like it’s nothing. My mind kept wandering wondering why no one freezes to death, develops gangrene, suffers frostbite while sleeping, catches a parasite or develops other intestinal issues from eating bloody bison meat. (I would not have lasted two days on this excursion!) I did remain focused long enough though to know that if Leo does not win an Oscar for this performance, the poor bastard never will.

Initially, I wondered why on earth he would even agree to this film? He’s rolling around in snow, being dragged by the current down a raging river, buried in dirt, covered in bloody make-up and filthy clothing and attacked by everyone and everything. It all just seems so horrific. But I’m sure his agent probably mailed him this script with a post-it note on the cover that read, “Here’s your Oscar…finally!”

Overall, Leo gives yet another stellar performance. No surprise there. He doesn’t speak much but does convey plenty emotionally. The bear scene that everyone and their mother have been talking about for months is indeed a nail biter, but there’s another scene with a horse carcass that I found even more disturbing. Despite the lack of Leo dialogue and difficulty watching some seriously gnarly stuff happen to one of America’s most endearing movie stars, Leo beat the odds, kept his heart going on and survived this brutal blood bath. He truly deserves the Oscar for this one indeed.

PS - I just looked up the meaning of revenant, defined as “a person who has returned, especially supposedly from the dead.” That works well.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Putting the "Super" in the Superbowl

Forget the men in tights battling it out on the field for the title of Superbowl champs. Forget the powerful throwing arms of superstar quarterbacks Tom Brady and Eli Manning. This year’s Superbowl was all about the halftime show and a performance by one of the most prolific and provocative entertainers the world has and will ever know - Madonna.

Love her or hate her (and apparently there is no in between), there is no question Madonna is indeed a first rate entertainer. Ever since her 1990 Blonde Ambition world tour, when she single-handedly changed the face of music concerts and raised the bar of audience’s expectations forever, she has never let her fans or her audience down; a feat she has proven yet again.

Critics across the nation and around the world have already lambasted her for lip synching (an unfortunate reality of today's world) and/or for the company she chose to keep on stage (LMFAO and Cee Lo “Mr. F You” Green). But Madonna had everyone on their feet and and talking without the assistance of a strategically plotted wardrobe malfunction.

From her impressive entrance as Cleopatra to her multiple cartwheels as an over excited cheerleader, this 53 year-old mother of four demonstrated there is no stopping Madonna. Featuring classic hits like “Vogue”, her latest single, the already chart topping “Give Me All Your Luvin’,” and a mash-up that included “Open Your Heart,” “Express Yourself” and “Like A Prayer,” Madonna delivered eight minutes of non-stop, eye popping entertainment. Gladiators, cheerleaders, a marching band and even a church choir, she pulled out all the stops, including a massive video screen that covered half the field and only enhanced the appearance and appeal of America’s favorite material girl.

Madonna’s halftime performance was an extravagant assault of the senses and one that will forever go down in history as the greatest halftime show ever. We will certainly remember this remarkable performance for years to come, but will anyone be able to recall who actually won the game or what the final score was? I doubt it.

Madonna we missed you, but girl we're glad to have you back in such super form and fashion.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Forget Wall Street, Occupy This

I must admit, after all this time, I’m still clueless as to what the Occupy Wall Street movement is all about or what these pedestrian protesters wish to gain. But I do give them props for planting a seed in my mind, and although I’m not about to pitch a tent and sleep outside – hello, its winter – I have decided to join their movement and add my own little twist. So, here’s a list of locations I feel we should really be protesting.

Occupy J. Crew:

This chic prepster retailer has long been a favorite of mine, ever since I placed my first catalogue order at the age of 15, but as our economy has crashed, J. Crew’s price points have increased. This summer I could not find a single pair of shorts at J. Crew for less than $65. And their winter collection is out of control, a men’s half zip cashmere sweater for $285? Give me a break. I refuse to spend more than half a week’s unemployment check on over priced cashmere. My limit is $150. Okay, $200 max. Anyway, it’s time to Occupy J. Crew and demand more affordable fashion immediately.

Occupy ABC Daytime:

Talk about a daytime dilemma. First the grand dame of daytime, Queen Oprah retired. Then daytime diva Erica Kane was forced to flee Pine Valley when All My Children got cancelled. Then Regis walked over a salary squabble, and now One Life To Live will take its last breath in January. What is going on at ABC Daytime? Dr. Oz is no Oprah; The Chew leaves a bad taste in my mouth and The Revolution will certainly cause me to revolt. Could General Hospital be the next causality?

No! I literally grew up watching General Hospital. This show was a major part of my childhood. Scotty Baldwin became my first crush. I learned what sanatorium, quarantine, and adultery meant. I watched Luke rape Laura at the local disco and then marry her. This show can't die, we must save GH and Occupy ABC Daytime today before it’s too late.

Occupy the Kardashians:

Thanks to Ryan Seacrest, these ladies with large asses have taken over television, pop culture, and almost every professional sport in America and wreaked havoc on all. The Kard-ass-ians contribute absolutely nothing to the world, society or the institute of marriage. My gays can’t get married, but a third of the KKK can marry, make millions and then divorce 72 days later. These bitches need to go back to wherever they came from and give pop culture back to the reality stars that have actually earned and deserve our attention, like those little monsters on Toddlers & Tiaras. (Go Maddy!) Let's Occupy the Kardashains and eliminate them once and for all from our lexicon.

So who's gonna join me in my Occupy movement?

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Step Up to the Bar Boys, The Ballet Bar

According to a recent article in Details magazine, the way to achieve that perfect male underwear model physique is the latest women’s workout craze called the bar method.

Think of the handrail used in a ballet class, and you’ve apparently discovered the key to a tight, toned body. The method, or workout, focuses on plenty of core exercises, including squats, lunges, and the occasional plie.

Always seeking another way to annihilate that extra inch of flab wrapped around my abs, I took full advantage of a special deal and signed up with my friend Jason for ten classes at Cardio Barre in Beverly Hills. We set out last Saturday for our first “beginners” class. The studio consists of one large carpeted room, with ballet bars on either side and two additional bars in the center of the room. As you might imagine, we were the only men in a class consisting of about 30 participants, but we were warmly welcomed and greeted with more eye catching cleavage than at a Hooters restaurant.

Class kicked off fast and furious with a series of squats, leg lifts, kicks, plies, and plenty of pointed toes. Within fifteen minutes, Jason and I were both sweating and already exhausted. My ass and calves have never been worked so much in my life. Next was a series of light weight lifts and curls, before we hit the floor for a few crunches and then an extensive series of inner thigh lifts, tucks and stretches. There were muscles in my body I never knew existed or ever flexed before. What I initially believed to be a core exercise class, quickly felt like the Vagina Monologues Workout, and let me just say, my vagina has a first name and it’s P-E-N-I-S. Ouch!

This was one intense workout, and the results seemed instant. After class, my ass, calves and thighs were as tight as Joan Rivers face. My backside literally rose about two inches and didn’t drop for days. If I keep this up, my ass will be in a whole new class, and more than ready for a close-up in my Calvins.

Monday, August 22, 2011

More Than Just "The Help"

It’s not often a novel effects me emotionally, but after reading Kathryn Stockett’s beautifully written debut novel The Help,
(now a perfectly adapted major motion picture starring Emma Stone and Viola Davis) I couldn’t stop thinking about one person inparticuliar.

Growing up in a middle class section of Queens, New York during the 1970’s, my neighborhood was exclusively white. The only black people I had exposure to either worked at the local warehouse or appeared on TV, and the only maid I ever knew was Florence on The Jeffersons. But after my grandmother, my father’s mother, suffered a stroke and became paralyzed, she needed a nurse to help care for her - enter Mrs. Green.

I was four years old when I met Mrs. Green. She was the first black person I intimately knew and instantly took a liking to her. Mrs. Green was always perfectly put together in her crisp, clean, starched white nursing uniform. She spoke in a soft velvety voice, always presented an engaging smile and thanks to an endless supply of Vaseline Intensive Care hand lotion, had hands as soft as silk. Hands that I became far too familiar with, because whenever I visited my grandmother, Mrs. Green would greet me by squeezing my cheeks and calling me Smiley.

My grandmother passed away when I was eight years old, and just like that Mrs. Green was gone as well. I didn’t see her again until several years later at another family members’ funeral.

As soon as my father informed me of Mrs. Green’s arrival, I swiftly made my way through the throngs of relatives at the funeral home to say hello. She recognized me instantly, and once again greeted me by squeezing my now thirteen year old cheeks as she joyfully declared, “Smiley.” Her welcome felt like an old favorite sweater; warm and comfortable. Instantly, I wrapped my arms around her and engulfed her with a great big hug and kiss.

As I said goodbye, one of my cousins grabbed me and in a rather derogatory tone asked me why I would kiss a black woman. Perplexed, I quickly explained, “That was Mrs. Green.” But still, I was met with disapproving eyes. I was absolutely stunned and in hindsight, now realize that was the moment I first experienced the ignorance and horror of racism.

Mrs. Green had cared for my grandmother for four years, five days a week, providing a much needed service that no family member was capable of or skilled to carry out. She was dedicated, respectful, kind and generous. She ate meals with my family, became a part of our conversations, and was always present during my weekly visits with my grandmother.

I’m not sure if Mrs. Green knew it, and honestly, until becoming enthralled in the pages of The Help, I never gave it much thought myself, but it was Mrs. Green who taught me one of life’s most valuable lessons. Thanks to Kathryn Stocketts’ thought provoking novel, I realized it was Mrs. Green who taught me to see beyond the color of a person’s skin and to accept everyone as equal.

I have no clue where Mrs. Green is today or if she’s even still alive, but I would be terribly remiss if I didn’t thank her for demonstrating that powerful lesson to me. So wherever you are Mrs. Green, I want you to know that I will forever remember your kindness, your affection and your incredibly soft hands with much adoration and always with a smile.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Eyeball Meet Dodgeball

This is some serious stuff – the Weho Dodgeball League is fast, fun and fierce in more ways than one. These boys (and a handful of girls) bring it in their hot little short shorts and barely there bedazzled tank tops. It seems as if half of West Hollywood plays in this league, from muscle boys to geeks to twinks and certainly more than a few who put the “jock” in their jockstraps.

As a newbie to the sport, I arrived early for my first game to scope out the situation and of course, cruise the crowd. As I stood on the sidelines, I thought, “What the hell did I get myself into?” I hadn’t played dodgeball since the fourth grade, and that was decades ago. Sports and I don’t normally go hand and hand. But I had heard so many good things about this league, that it was fun, easy and a great way to meet people, so I figured why not? What did I have to lose?

The gym was much smaller than expected; with a net separating the two courts so that four teams could play at once. Lady Gaga was blasting from the stage, refs were blowing whistles, players were yelling, running, jumping – a few dancing – while balls were being thrown in rapid succession and with surprising speed. It was total chaos.

Once on the court, it was indeed non-stop action - something I’ve never been opposed to – and surprisingly, not as intimidating as originally anticipated. During the first game, my approach was to lay low, but I quickly realized everyone gets picked off sooner than later, even the most experienced players. So, I promptly jumped in to action and by my third game, the adrenaline was pumping at full speed as we were up 2 games to none. I quickly started dodging balls, slid across the floor to fetch another and found the balls to throw, literally. By the sixth game, I felt fierce and invincible, especially since one of my fellow newbies kept praising me for my prowess on the court.

With this boost to my confidence, I was all over the place and having a blast. Picking out members of the opposing team I wanted to nail with the ball, including a guy I actually once nailed. It was totally fun and I even managed to take out my former trick. But let me tell ya, karma is a bitch.

With 2 minutes left in the hour of play, I found myself in the back corner internally patting myself on the back for a game well played, when suddenly the dude in front of me ducked and a ball smacked me directly in the right eye. That shit came so hard and so fast; it dropped me to my knees and literally knocked out my contact lens.

Today, I’m a little battered and bruised with a bloody eye, but I must admit, it was great fun and well worth it - we won. And let's face it, that bruised eye totally ups my butch quotient. Now let’s just hope next week I can keep my eye on the ball instead of my former tricks.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Farewell My Dear Friend Oprah

After a quarter of a century, Oprah Winfrey will cease production of her eponymous talk show this week. Twenty-five years ago no one even knew who or what an Oprah was, but today the entire world knows the meaning of that now ubiquitous name.

Talk show host. Producer. Television pioneer. Philanthropist. Entrepreneur. The titles one could bestow upon Oprah Winfrey are endless. To her viewing audience she has become our friend, our mentor, and the person we most want to spend our afternoons with. Her weekly chat fest reached 40 million homes in the U.S. alone, and was broadcast in 145 countries around the world. That’s quite a sizable audience that has been entertained, educated and influenced by the words and actions of one iconic figure.

In twenty five years, Oprah has not only changed the face of television, but the lives of the millions who tuned in to watch. She introduced us to “a-ha” moments, encouraged us to “live our best lives”, motivated us to read with her enormously successful book club selections, and even went as far as educating us about our poop. She’s enriched and enlivened our lives with her words of wisdom, her warmth and grace, and let’s not forget her litany of favorite things.

As a television viewing audience, we’ve seen Oprah struggle with her weight, fluctuating from high to low and back again. Who doesn’t remember a triumphant Oprah in her size 10 Calvin Klein jeans rolling out a wheelbarrel containing 67 pounds of fat, symbolic of the weight she lost?

But we never judged her when she put the weight back on; we only loved her even more for demonstrating her humanity.

Over the years, Oprah has introduced us to our idols, the rising stars of tomorrow, and brought back our favorite stars of yesteryear. She even introduced us to her family, while becoming a part of our own. We met her best friend, Gayle King, who instantly became ours as well. We met the love of Oprah’s life, Steadman Graham, their menagerie of dogs, and most recently even her long lost half-sister Pat.

She’s generously gifted entire studio audiences with brand new cars, trips to Australia and a plethora of the latest and greatest gizmos and gadgets during her highly anticipated holiday editions. But Oprah has given us more than just a-ha moments and things, she’s given us hope and restored our faith in the notion that anything is possible; after all, she’s the ultimate example.

And just like Oprah, who ends her magazine each month with a column titled What I Know For Sure, I think it’s safe to say what we all know for sure is that when the lights go dark on The Oprah Winfrey Show, there will be an enormous void left not only in television, but also in the lives of the millions of us who tuned in day after day to watch the woman we so loving called our friend