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Whiskers on roses & raindrops on kittens: V. Rondo

Posted by Job O Brother, August 8, 2007 10:22am | Post a Comment

5.) The Haunted Mansion

Last I checked, Amoeba Music is not selling any of these, no matter how much I pester management that there is a ready market for it.

I don’t know what it says about me, but as a child growing up on the sunny island of Oahu, I dreamed incessantly of once again returning to the Haunted Mansion, located on the edge of New Orleans Square in the Magic Kingdom of Disneyland in Anaheim in California on the Mainland…

…Earth.


Something about the temperature, the hues of dark greens, blues and violet, set a-glow by thousands of volts of black light; a soundtrack of pipe organ and church bells… It made a young Job feel at home. I can’t account for it, but that’s how it felt and, infantile as it may seem (maybe even perverse) it still does.

Once inside, I would never want to leave. At age five, I stood at the base of the escalator that took people from the end of the ride to the outside world, and cried. I’m sure people who passed me assumed I was crying because the ride had scared me, when in actuality, I wanted to move in.

I was a deeply unpopular child.


Every once in a while, a copy of the Haunted Mansion soundtrack will pop up in my section of Amoeba. It was only sold at the Park, and even then in limited edition batches (though they re-release them). Most anything Disney on c.d. goes out of print and instantly becomes a collector’s item; there’s always a market for the stuff. There’s people out there right now, who have left their babies alone in cribs, as they hunt for anything with that recognizable Disney logo stamped on it.
(Confession time: When a c.d. simply will not sell in my section, I just hand-draw this emblem on it, then stand back and wait for the bidding war between customers who suddenly must own this “rare release by Disney of the ‘Inside Deep Throat’ soundtrack”.)*

It should go without saying that this entry on my list of "guaranteed bliss" has nothing to do with the Eddie Murphy film based on the ride. I have never seen this movie, for the same reason that I never want to see the photos of Marilyn Monroe's corpse: Eddie Murphy stresses me out.


This is what my Santa looks like - a portrait from the gallery of the Mansion

If you're like me... well, first of all, my condolences... and thoughts of the Haunted Mansion elicit more euphoria than phobia, it may interest you to know there's others like us. You can find them here.

It’s been years since I’ve been to Disneyland. In fact, moving to Los Angeles three years ago is about the time I stopped going. This is not by choice! So if any of you readers out there have plans to go, drop me a line and invite me, please. I promise I will not cry inside the Haunted Mansion…

…much.

6.) Sonic Youth


They're a band. They have albums. Y'know.

*This is not true, I have never done this; don't go scribbling the Disney emblem on some record you scratched and try to return it to Amoeba for a refund.

(In which Job clarifies the difference between the gay community and lunch.)

Posted by Job O Brother, July 15, 2007 01:08pm | Post a Comment

Thursday night, after a sexy and glorious workday at Amoeba Music Hollywood, my boyfriend Corey picked me up and whisked me away to the premiere party for Outfest, held at the historic Orpheum Theatre in downtown LA.

Outfest is LA’s most popular film festival for the GLBT community. (GLBT stands for Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender and should never be confused with the BLT, a popular sandwich.)


Know the difference - Bacon, lettuce, tomato vs. gay actor, Montgomery Clift

"Outfest is the only nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring that the extensive but threatened LGBT film heritage is preserved. Since the beginning of the struggle for LGBT equality, visionary filmmakers have recorded their lives, challenges and triumphs on film. Outfest is committed to saving, preserving and providing access to that precious, affirming heritage for generations to come." - quote from their website

Put another way, this is a chance to see lots of muscle hunks come to terms with bullies and remakes of “Pretty Woman” that could be called “Pretty Women”.

If I sound cynical, it’s because I am, a bit. But that’s not a reflection of Outfest, rather, a problem I often have with queer cinema. I’ve never been a fan of romantic comedies, and because the definition of gay is indicative of sex, so many gay films are “romantic”.

That’s just one issue I have. On the whole, queer cinema suffers from the same things that mainstream films do. Clichés and what-not. It’s particularly discouraging to see gay films that mimic straight films but, you know, with gay people in ‘em. It’s rare to find a film that is distinctively “gay” outside of the love scenes.

That’s not to say there’s no room for light entertainment within queer cinema. Don’t get me wrong! I realize that not everyone wants the films I do – in fact, most people don’t.

Beyond my personal tastes, I absolutely believe it is important that organizations like Outfest exist. It is vital that minorities see themselves represented in media. When I was a kid and still mystified by my own sexuality, seeing gays in film and on TV provided a sense that I was not alone, that there were others like me, and they were successful and unashamed.

Of course, being born in 1974, those glimpses were rare, and it took a real stretch of imagination to feel kinship with kd lang as she got a straight-razor shave from Cindy Crawford. Still, it helped.


Straight-razor… heh…

The party was populated by the usual crew to be found at such an event. I didn’t see anyone A-list. Tori Spelling mingled as camera crews followed her every move, gathering footage for her “reality” TV show. Perez Hilton stood behind me in the line for free booze. Chi Chi Larue strode through the crowd looking much like Marilyn Monroe would have if she were still alive.

The biggest treat was listening to my man Corey as he talked shop with the people who really keep the Hollywood business functioning. I got to hear a hilarious story about Arianna Huffington from one of her former assistants, but I’m not allowed to tell you about it. You just can’t keep a secret, I’m afraid. You have only yourself to blame.

In honor of Outfest 2007, and because I don’t want you to think I’m homocinemaphobic, I offer up the following films as suggestions of rad things to watch; one for every letter in the aforementioned acronym:


"Dude, your nipple is, like, hella awesome!" Keanu Reeves & River Phoenix

For the ‘G’, I recommend watching “My Own Private Idaho”, Gus Van Sant’s modern take on Shakespeare’s play “Henry IV”. It beautifully explores gay love and desire without offering moral platitudes, and doesn’t content itself with only “gay” issues. Oftentimes funny and always poetic, it also perfectly captures the (sometimes self-destructive) essence of the Northwest grunge scene of the early 1990’s. It also stars the late River Phoenix in one of his finest performances.

Next is the ‘L’. This is a tough one, because there’s actually quite a list of movies I love that qualify. Ultimately, though, I’m going to settle on the classic film “The Children’s Hour”, starring Shirley MacLaine and Audrey Hepburn.


"Darling, I would never confuse you with Katherine..." Shirley MacLaine & Audrey Hepburn

I realize the irony that my choice of lesbian film didn’t actually star a lesbian, but the movie stands as significant. It broached a topic that dared not… urr… film its name…? Furthermore, it starred two A-list celebrities, adding weight and credibility at a time when homosexuality was still widely believed to be a psychological disorder. It is beautifully shot and packs an emotional wallop.

I can’t help but sneak in another film, however. It’s more obscure. “The Sticky Fingers of Time”, written and directed by Hilary Brougher. The story, essentially science-fiction in nature, is still human in a way that reminds me of a Philip K. Dick novel. It’s very low budget but uses this to its advantage and struck me as intriguing, haunting and, how you say, dope.


Terumi Matthews & Belinda Becker in "The Sticky Fingers of Time"

Then on to the ‘B’. B, B, B… hmm. Oh, I know!

“The Hotel New Hampshire”. This gem has a cast of stars a mile long, yet remains surprisingly unknown. This is perhaps due to its acute quirkiness, and storyline which ambles along without clear climaxes, much as our lives do. Alternately hilarious and slapstick, then suddenly tragic, it follows the lives of an eccentric family headed by a whimsical father (played by Beau Bridges) as they find fame, fortune and love, then lose it, then gain it again. (Wow, that sounds awful… I’d never see it if I heard someone describe it that way!)


Jodie Foster makes love to Natasha Kinski in a bear suit! I mean, what more do you need?

It features a very naughty, yet somehow sweet, incest love scene between siblings played by Jodie Foster and Rob Lowe. I cannot recommend this movie enough, even if I can’t recommend it well.


Rob Lowe & Dorsey Wright, working it all out

Finally, the ‘T’. Again, so many to choose from. I’m afraid I’ll get my Fan Club status revoked for not championing “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”, but that’s so obvious and anyhow, writing about it would lead to another eight pages of me boring you with nostalgia.

So, I’m going to settle on “Orlando”, Sally Potter’s gorgeous adaptation of the book by Virginia Woolf of the same name.


Superlative actress, Tilda Swinton as "Orlando"

It’s the story of a young man, Orlando, born in Renaissance England. Having been ordered by the aging Queen Elizabeth I (played with humorous gravity by Quentin Crisp) to never grow old and die, he doesn’t, and the film takes us through major time periods unto present day, all the while exploring love and sex as relating to gender.

It is quite simply a visually perfect film. Anyone who delights in set and costume design must take a peak. It stars the amazing Tilda Swinton in the title role. And you get to see her naked, if that matters to you. And it does.


Tilda Swinton, Tilda Swinton, Tilda Swinton, and also, Tilda Swinton

So, there you have some considerations for queer cinema that transcends the usual bunch. If you’re in the neighborhood, be sure to check out Outfest. Just watch out for Tori Spelling’s camera crew, ‘cause those dudes are f**ing all over the place.

(In which the author celebrates our Nation's independence.)

Posted by Job O Brother, July 7, 2007 10:53am | Post a Comment

The Boston Tea Party. (What - no Massachusetts-sized scone?)

It was the Fourth of July, which I recently learned is some kind of holiday? I dunno. Something about a “united” something-or-other; I guess it’s about, like, this one country where they killed a bunch of British people by making tea in the actual sea (I’ve tried this myself and let me tell you, there is no amount of cream or honey that will overcome the fishy flavor) and gave out blankets to native tribes… or am I confusing that with the day we celebrate our ancestors surviving a hard winter by eating Stove Top stuffing and hiding eggs under kids’ pillows for money?

Whatever. In any case, my boyfriend Corey, our friend Lisa, and good ol’ Logan of Amoeba Music fame, decided to mark the occasion by seeing “Transformers” at the Cinerama Dome (right across the street from Amoeba).


For those of you lucky enough to not live in Los Angeles, you are so unlucky that you don’t get to watch movies at this theatre. I am totally spoiled, and happily pay the outrageous fee for the experience. Reserved seating, witty/snide employees, no commercials before the previews, and none of those (insert whatever cuss word you think has the biggest punch here) SLIDES that propose stupid questions like:

“Which action film did Bruce Willis star in as a New York cop named John McClane?”

a.) Agnes of God
b.) The Little Mermaid
c.) The Little Mermaid, Part 2
d.) Die Hard


Really – if someone is dumb enough to find this trivia challenging, they probably can’t read to begin with, so they’re wasting everyone’s time!

I mean, (and I’m digressing into one of those ‘when I was a kid’ moments right now – best to just skip ahead) I remember entering a darkened movie theatre and just… reveling in the hush; the stillness of it. It was like entering a church. And then there was the excitement of hearing that first “crackle” that let you know your film was about to begin. That was terrific!

Nowadays you’re constantly faced with commercials and fake radio stations that play whatever Top 40 crap the major corporations are trying to convince you is worth the insulting price they’re charging for their tired product.

“Clap your hands if you prefer Diet Coke to regular Coke!”

What?!

I already spent half my paycheck on a medium popcorn! Leave me alone!!!

(Author takes a moment to catch breath and remember what the point of this blog was… …is.)

Oh yeah… “Transformers”.

I had a real good time. I thought it was entertaining. I also thought it was… a minstrel show. That is, every person of color was outrageous and comical and met the “entertaining” stereotypes of today, whereas every person in the film that saved the day or fell in love was not only beautiful, but beautiful and white.


"G-G-G-Golly! That choo-choo just transformed into a r-r-r-robot!"
(One of many scenes from "Transformers")

But I didn’t turn to this film for cultural enlightenment, so I’m not particularly outraged. Movies like these are, after all, less about the political agenda of the studios and more a reflection of target markets – so we only have ourselves to blame for what we see.

The final half hour is bewildering, and I think most people will leave the theatres feeling as though the Decepticons weren’t the only things to be obliterated – the flimsy plot was, too. Again, not that I expected Dostoyevsky (from what I hear, he was a GoBots man) but the moviemakers perhaps gambled that we, the Audience, would be so hypnotized by the action that we wouldn’t notice gaping plot-holes. Well, we all noticed, but in the end, didn’t care.

This climax, a super-violent war between cars and aircrafts in which old landmarks are demolished and crowds of people rush around in terror and confusion, takes place in downtown LA, so admittedly, it took a while before I realized it was supposed to be significant, rather than just a panorama of a normal day in the Garment District. Those of you who don't live here won't have this problem and should be sufficiently thrilled.

The film smartly turned to some deft dialogue, mostly featured in the first third of the film, centered on the lead actor’s family. It was like they hired Woody Allen as a script consultant for that segment. But don’t worry, mallrats, the overwhelming bulk of dialogue was your standard fare of Hollywood clichés and shallow, moral posturing.


"I know we're on the edge of complete annihilation but could I, like, see your boob?"

Corey, who went in with high expectations, left furious; I, who hoped only to feel him up at some point during the film, left surprisingly satisfied by the spectacle.

As far as action goes, this film doesn’t come close to matching the original, animated “Transformers, the Movie”, which is very simply one of the most hyper, battle-heavy films ever made. The fact that my generation survived it while sucking on Pop Rocks and discovering Jolt Cola is testament to… uh…

…Something, I suppose.


The Original. (Check out Optimus Prime's package! Whoa!)

I remember, when the first film came out, the schoolyard was buzzing with rumors that it contained the word “Shit!” Never had my class been so excited about grammar.

If you’re gonna see the new “Transformers”, see it on the biggest screen you can find, with the most friends you can gather, and with the lowest expectations you can muster. You’re bound to at least chuckle while you roll your eyes.

And if you’re like Lisa, Logan and I, you will drive home slightly paranoid that the car you’re driving may, at any moment, reconfigure itself into a giant, sarcastic robot.

HOLLYWOOD: WHERE THERE'S GOLD IN THE STREETS

Posted by Billyjam, June 24, 2007 09:52pm | Post a Comment

So I spent this past Thursday, June 21st -- the longest day of the year -- in Hollywood. And it was just one of those perfect days. You know, one of those days you have when everything goes just perfectly? Being the first day of summer, I guess, the weather could not have been more desirable: sunny and warm but never too hot, and certainly not a trace of that smog that is so often unfairly associated with LA. But besides the weather, every single person I encountered that day in Hollywood was genuinely warm and friendly and a pleasure to be around. Even the tragic bums along Sunset and Hollywood Boulevards all seemed to have vanished for the day. Not one person asked me for money all day.  The opposite happened in fact: not once but twice, glancing down at the pavement I found money -- a quarter on Vine and a crisp new dollar bill blowing on Sunset. Damn! There really is gold on the streets here, I thought. What a perfect day. As I happily walked I couldn't help but remember in my head all of the songs about Hollywood and LA (there is even a Wikipedia page dedicated to them) that include Bob Seger's Hollywood Nights, Murs' LA, Jurassic 5's LAUSD, Kool & the Gang's Hollywood Swinging, Defari's Los Angelinos, and X's Los Angeles. And as I walked down Vine heading towards Sunset, humming Randy Newman's I Love LA, I kept a close eye on the pavement in case I might find even more money, when I noticed that Rin Tin Tin had his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Wow! Even dogs are stars here.

Shortly afterwards at 6400 Sunset Boulevard at Amoeba Music Hollywood (the main reason for my trip down from the Bay for the day) I ran into Amoebite Kara who was walking her cute and affectionate little dog. The last time I was down in LA -- several months previous -- she had just gotten the miniature pooch who she had rescued by adopting him from an unfortunate homeless woman who could no longer take care of her pet. At Amoeba Music I spent the day hanging out and meeting many Amoebites for the first time, like Irene (who works in the office and was sporting a cool Virgin Prunes t-shirt), and some that I knew from before like KP, Tim Ranow, and Ilene. It was about my sixth trip to Amoeba Hollywood since it opened and I tell you the cavernous store never fails to amaze me. It is truly a music fiend's dream! And despite the good amount of time I spent digging in the crates of the endless rows and rows and sections and sections of music, I still only barely scratched the surface of the store's seemingly never ending inventory.

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