Not Picture Perfect Endings

Two of the ‘drama’ series on TV that I enjoyed this fall have come to an end for this season. American Horror Story: 1984; Castle Rock: Season Two. I’m pretty sure AHS will return for another season but am not sure about Castle Rock. I enjoyed being immersed in the bloody, gooey worlds that each of them created but while AHS paid brilliant homage to summer camp slasher mayhem, Castle Rock failed to deliver much more than atmosphere.

 

 

The only tease that AHS failed to deliver was an appearance by Billy Idol – the season was an interesting mash up of summer camp & Groundhog Day. Killed ‘campers’ returned to life very time they were killed – each resurrection slowly taught them important life lessons: accepting that you are dead eases the pain of being dead etc. Revenge is a distraction not a solution. 

Castle Rock: Season Two turned out to be all window-dressing for an essentially empty store. The premise of Annie Wilkes (Misery) backstory was promising but got lost & nearly drowned in the goo. Lizzie Caplan’s Annie was so clearly unbalanced from the get go that her drug addled journey was more boring that revelatory. She spent so much of the time covered in blood or mud I felt sorry for make up & continuity. If she ever forgot a line all she had to say is ‘Where is my daughter’ or “I’m protecting you from the dirty-bird world’ & it would have been fine.

 

The window dressing included Somali immigrants, most of whom disappeared after a few camera shots established them. Not even the goo people were interested in them. Joy & Chance flirt – sweet teen-age lesbians but nothing develops. Chance sure does handle a gun well though but we were spared her backstory in favour of the goo people. The window dressing of racial conflict, sexual diversity are dangled then given no substance.

 

Pop’s redemption story as ho-hum, Annie’s descent into madness was a forgone conclusion. Many episodes were so uneven they felt like different writers, directors were working on different shows with the same setting & then the show runners stitched the parts together. They gave us an ending that didn’t make up for the mess of missed opportunities that preceded it. The best part of the show was Fan Critical’s Castle Rock podcast commentary, they were much kinder to the show than I was. Season Two gets two blueberries. Fan Critical gets five.

Watching how the narrative elements in each series are structured is a great lesson though. They make me aware of maintaining enough logic that one’s readers/viewers understand what is going on even if they don’t know why. Don’t make backstory more compelling than the main story: Joy’s birth story & how it played out was the most interesting part of Castle Rock.

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Podcasting 2019

The nature of the podcasts I listen to has changed over the years. I started with various writing podcasts, added a few ‘social commentary’ but eventually got bored with them. Let’s face it I could hear so much about world building or about conspiracy theories. I stopped listening to all of them.

Then I came across Andrew Gurza (http://www.andrewgurza.com/homepage ) on some gay dating site. His profile mentioned he had a podcast which has since become Disability After Dark – shining a bright light on sex & disability. On it he talks explicitly about sexuality – gay, straight, other as it relates to various disabilities: autism, visual impairment, mobility limits & more.

I’ve heard nearly episode. His fearlessness & the articulateness of his frequent guests continue to make me aware of importance of representation in media, of myths about disability & has been sexy enough sometimes it forced me to take cold shower 🙂

Another podcast I now listen to is Buffering The Vampire Slayer (https://www.bufferingthevampireslayer.com ) – on which two lesbians (Jenny Owen Youngs, Kristin Russo) have been watching & discussing each Buffy episode in detail. They’ve also interviewed past cast members, stunt people & hard-core fans. I found them after I had started watching a box set of the entire series. I’m into season 6 & they have just finished season 4. The hosts are fun to listen to, & I look forward to each episode – usually every other week. They inspire me to be a proud cult nerd. A great podcast even if you aren’t a Buffy fan.

Another podcast is Fan Critical (https://www.fancritical.com ) – I started listening to them last year during the run of Castlerock – a collective of men, women in Britain & Australia discussing series such at Walking Dead, event movies such as Avengers: End Game. Initially the Castlerock was enough for me & it certainly helped me enjoy the series. After Castlerock ended the podcast continue looking at other Steven King adaptations.

Also under the Fan Critical umbrella is the Worst of Netflix – hilarious reviews of bad movies. I love it. I’ve also listening to their discussions of some event movies & frankly, no matter how they rave, I’ve not bothered seeing these movies 🙂

Most recent listening addition has been Gayish (http://www.gayishpodcast.com/ ). A couple of gay guys (Mike Johnson, Kyle Getz) chat over drinks. They talk about everything & each episode is focused on a single topic: i.e. Boobs, undies. Not laser focused though, as they stray into tangents often. Sex positive, often hilarious & well-researched. As with the Buffering hosts – they have an easy rapport that is inviting & enjoyable. I sort of envy them their friendships & their willingness to listen to each other. 

I subscribe to them via iTunes but they can be found on most podcast platforms. I support Disability After Dark & Gayish via Patreon. Try them out if you aren’t following any of these podcast already.

an older piece that the Gayish podcast on Boobs brought to mind:

Hooterville

the one area I feel empathy 

for straight guys is cleavage

where are you supposed to look

when caught up in this barrage of boob

focus on her eyes if you can

and hope she doesn’t perceive the wavering flickers

as you try not to get drawn down

it is easy to see how women 

become objectified

even when they object to it

how to pretend she isn’t pretty

that you find attractive attractive 

without being demonized

without being brow beaten 

by breasts for being such a beast

 

there’s no way of making up for it

no apology

no affirmative action

takes away the taint of having a dick

of having two competing heads to think with

of being faulted 

for thinking with the wrong one

regardless of which one is being used

of being opportunistic slaves to our base instinct

all men are guilty

no way out no absolution 

to be hormonally driven dick heads

is punishment enough

 

I have this simmering empathy 

when I get caught as straight men often do

in décolletage

try to make conversation

as subtle light shifts with each motion

as she pushes her hair behind her ear

try to focus on her words

try to ignore non-verbal communication

I’ve never heard a guy tell a woman 

‘stop looking at my package

my eyes are up here’

 

yeah I know

but the eyes are the window to the soul

and I don’t think either of us is 

ready to go there

https://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6

every Tuesday 2019

July

Stratford Festival – Nathan The Wise

August 2-13: getting back to my roots in Cape Breton
Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee on my trip to Cape Breton – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet 

September

Shaw Festival – Sex (Mae West)

Stratford Festival – Little Shop Of Horrors

2020

June 2020 – Capturing Fire 2020 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

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Hungry Sneak Peek – April 2019

First a recap of March 🙂 March was cold then cool, dark then sunny. Started the rewatch of Taboo. The series is as intense as I recalled, also as illogical. The image clarity of the DVD is clearer than the original broadcast so some things are more noticeable – no this plot holes but the make-up on the King& other characters doesn’t hold up at all. But Tom Hardy is a magnificent beast & the tattoo work is exceptional. His great coat pulls focus everything he walks down the street.

Also rewatching Castle Rock. Knowing what is going on from having seen the series already doesn’t detract from the mystery but does let me ignore the endless red herrings, and frequent incidents that only exist for atmosphere or for the writers to show us how clever they are. Re-listening the the Fan Critical commentaries as well.

Speaking of Fan Critical I have also been listening to their reviews of ‘event’ movies I’ll never get to see until they turn up on TV. This is a very funny, intelligent group of commentators. Their newest addition is the ‘Worst of Netflix.’ Hilarious.

As I expected with the end of google+, my WordPress hits have dropped from frequent 60+ a day – to an average of 20 a day. My followers have increased: WordPress – 312, (following 36) Tumblr: 223 (following 54). TW: 215 (following 99). The Tumblr purge hasn’t ended the site & the nudes keep coming. I’m still deleting follows from hetero porn sites.

Coal Dusters is moving along well. I’ve blogged just over 90,000 words with at least 40,000 more words to go. This is clearly a second draft & not the final draft. I realize that I have to iron out wrinkles in time. I have to makes sure I have a time line that all these events can fit into. I suspect I have to get some of my geography settled as well. I am using some imaginary places i.e. Castleton  – but also real places i.e. North Sydney, New Waterford.

Now for the sneak peek part of this post. First up is Hot Damn! It’s A Queer Slam Season 5 finale at Buddies in Badtimes Friday April 5, 7 p.m. 5 Cities! 8 Poets! But only 1 Champion. I can’t wait to see who wins the grand prize of a trip to Capturing Fire Slam, the International Queer Summit & Slam in Washington DC. I love everything about this expect the part where I can’t afford to go to Washington DC this year 😦 

The Hot Damn! feature is a dream come true! The out of this universe fantastic Nasra Adem NASRA is a queer, Muslim, Oromo creator/curator living in Amiskwaciwȃskahikan (Edmonton) on Treaty 6 territory. They were the Youth Poet Laureate of Edmonton from 2016 to 2017.

So far tickets have been booked to see Henry VIII, Nathan The Wise, & Little Shop Of Horrors at Stratford. Considering Private Lives, Othello if good seats go on sale. Tickets booked to see Sex at the Shaw Festival. Yet to book there is The Ladykillers. Oddly I’ve never wanted to any of their actual Bernard Shaw plays.

Not so distant future coming event is why I can’t afford to go to Washington DC this year: my visit to Cape Breton in August. I haven’t visited since June 2012. Plans include a visit to Fortress of Louisbourg, day trips to North Sydney, New Waterford for Duster’s & Picture Perfect research. Sydney has an unexpectedly lively lgbtq+ community now. Judging by the large number of Squirt profiles there are lots of men on the prowl too.  I guess I got the seven year itch?

Hungry Plants

more or less

all or nothing

how much is little enough

what constitutes over load

enough is a feast 

but we all want more

give em an inch

they‘ll want sex

quantity or quality

a little of the good stuff

or all you can eat

in for a pound

staggering from the corner 

for another go

another kick at the can

another bite at the hands 

that don’t feed enough

 

when things are overflowing

too much is left behind 

not every bit gets eaten

all those tiny crumbs

don’t miss one

good to the last drop to the canvas

slug fest of who gets

the bigger piece of pie

who gets left high without a dish to dry 

without a mouth to feed

getting is better that giving

don’t let anyone tell you otherwise

become the gracious receiver of gifts

so that others 

can indulge their need for generosity 

superiority

while you relax into gluttony

thank you thank you

don’t be shy or ashamed

anything you offer is fine by me

don’t stop giving

I want it all 

both my hands helping you 

by rifling through your wallet 

while you look the other way 

I know you’d be dismayed if I didn’t

you don’t want all that stuff

as much as I do

 

feed me Seymour feed me now

we’re all hungry plants

duking it out for the purse

raging shrill hogs

barely able to stand on two legs

in the lunge for greased joys

gimme gimme gimme 

more than my share is all I want

don’t get parsimonious on me now

after all it’s for the good of your soul

for the good of the world

more for me

means less for the people 

you really want to punish

 

you know I’ll always be thankful

even when I go behind your back

to the people you deprive

for more

I’ll take it from all givers

I’ll never let pride get in the way 

of getting more than I deserve

of getting more than you can spare

everything not nothing

biggest piece is always mine

so give now

be generous

or

live with your selfish regrets 

because that’s all you get 

to take to the grave

https://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6


http://www.queerslam.com

every Tuesday 2019


June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

August 2-13: getting back to my roots in Cape Breton
Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee on my trip to Cape Breton – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet 

Hey! Or you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2020’s capfireslam.org – sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

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Castle Rock Rocks

Hulu’s Castle Rock was satisfying & more fun to watch than I expected. It never became as bloody (or as silly) as American Horror Story, didn’t get as gloomy & relentless as Taboo or Handmaiden or as soapy as The Dome. Overall I enjoyed the writing, the cast & in particular the music.

 

Spoiler warning: there may be spoilers in this review but I’ll try not to give too much away either. Based on locations & characters out of the entire Stephen King oeuvre the writers do a great job of referencing without being slavish to King. Episode One started in Shawshank Prison and I was doubtful of enjoying the series. 

 

I have read King extensively but not recently, so this opening made me fearful that I wouldn’t understand this world without an extensive knowledge of his work – but I didn’t. The plot & subplots are quite clear without knowing a word of King. The show is full of ‘Easter eggs’ small references to some of his writing i.e. there is a Claiborne’s Cafe in the background of some shots.

The plot hinges on the discovery of Bill Skarsgård as “The Kid” in an isolated cage deep in an abandoned part Shawshank Prison. Is he evil, good or merely in the wrong dimension? He asks for Henry Deaver (André Holland) who turns out to be a lawyer. In the course of the show we meet Sissy Spacek as Henry’s adoptive mother Ruth Deaver; Scott Glenn as Alan Pangborn – a character who appears in King’s novels & some short stories; & Noel Fisher as prison guard Dennis Zalewski.

The atmosphere is eerie as opposed to scary. The story telling is often done in flash-backs. The Dark Tower multiple universes concept is more a distraction than an explanation. The finale wrapped things in a tidy way – Henry gets the Kid released in the beginning & in the end Henry becomes the Kid’s new jailer. 

I loved the episode 7 “The Queen” & hated episode 8 “Past Perfect.” Episode 8 was great fun at the Dead & Breakfast in an American Horror Story way but was so deliberately clever I was disappointed. It showed that the only reason there was a Jackie Torrence character was for the punch line of her wielding an axe. One direct King reference  that didn’t advance or add to any plot line but merely existed for the witty Shining references.

What I enjoyed as much as the show was the Castle Rock Critical podcast with a fine set of hosts who explored each episode scene by scene, theorized what might be happening, pointed out the many King references & made it all fun. On their scale I’d give the season 4 out of 5 blueberries. It loses a berry for too many unresolved plot threads and for events that were only there for atmosphere i.e. the dog that takes the severed head. I’d give the podcast 5 blueberries.

The performances were all excellent. On line & on the podcast there was a lot of sexual ogling of Bill Skarsgård, who as an actor was excellent, but as a sex object I find to be a tall glass of tepid water. Give me André Holland (please), or even Noel Fisher any day (or night). Then again this Castle Rock takes place in a non-diversity dimension with no LGBTQ people.

Elbow 

1

‘They found another elbow in the park.’

My mother was doing something to eggs on the stove. The scrape of the spatula dull on the frying pan as if she wasn’t fully playing attention to anything. 

‘I said they found … ’

‘I heard you dear. I’m afraid they have to be scrambled.’

I hated scrambled eggs. I could cook my own breakfast, but when I started she would hover, then take over as if she was doing me a favour. Saying something like ‘boys shouldn’t cook’

‘Left or right’ she asked.

‘Huh?’

‘The elbow, was it left or right?’

‘I didn’t hear.’

The eggs were a yellow clump with browned edges

‘That makes the fifth elbow this month.’

‘Soon they’ll have enough for a whole body’ my mother half laughed. ‘How are the eggs?’

‘Yummy.’

‘Can they tell left from right?’ She stirred her coffee. ‘It’s just an elbow joint.’

‘Yep. The eggs are fine. Severed clean. I suppose there’s enough for them to tell from the way the joint moves.’

‘Yuk.’ My mother shuddered. ‘Gives me the creeps to think of an elbow like that – of some csi guy manipulating it with their hands.’

She manipulated an invisible elbow in the air over her coffee cup.

‘Would it squeak like a rusty door?’ she made a weird squeak with her voice. ‘Creeeeeequee.’

We both laughed till tears ran down our cheeks.

2

‘Could you pass me that book?’ Mrs. Coude gestured with the stump of her right arm.

‘This one?’ I picked up the English text that had fallen off her desk.

She’d had two complete arms yesterday. In her sleeveless dress the stump was hard to miss. A complete left arm and nothing on the other side. As if it was trick of the light. My eyes were almost seeing what was once there. I didn’t want to stare too obviously. It wasn’t a red raw. The end was smooth, healed. The nub, just before where the elbow would be, was so natural, as if there had never been a limb beyond it. It seemed impossible to me that less that twenty-four hours ago she had a flesh and blood arm there and now her forearm was gone.

She was the first person I had met who had suffered the loss of an elbow. I had so many questions. I had to know how did it happen.  Did she feel anything when it happened. Did she wake up in this morning and her elbow was gone.

She went to the board and started to write with her left hand. The letters were childlike, less controlled, as she went along. At one point she rubbed some of it out with her right shoulder. She stopped abruptly, her back to us as she sobbed into her left hand.

A couple of students went to the office to get the vice-principle. It felt like we were telling on her, but something had to be done.

Mr. De Codo took her by the shoulders and gently lead her out of the room.

‘You boys behave. Someone will be with you directly.’

We sat still, silent, looking at the scattered smudge she had put on the blackboard. Then began to copy it as exactly as we could. One never knew what was going to be on the exams.

(Elbow to be continued next week)

https://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6

every Tuesday

October scary poetry every Wednesday & Thursday

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2020’s capfireslam.org – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

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