Sunday, October 29, 2006

My Damp Brush With Mediocrity.

Last night I finally gave in and watched "Poseidon" the big-budget special effects spectacle re-make of the "The Poseidon Adventure". I love big-budget special effects spectacles as much as the next guy. And I love disaster movies even more than the next guy; give me a burning building with a shit load of aging stars and I'm all set for two to three hours. "The Poseidon Adventure" has a special place in my baby boomer brain. It was one of the first 'adult' movies I remember going to see (at the Ford City Cinema 3). It was also one of the few times that I did something with my brother. (He is twenty years older than me and I never really saw him except for his legs sticking out from underneath a car he was working on.).

The film must have had some profound effect on me because for months afterwards I was taking toy boats and turning them upside down in the kitchen sink, or wrapping a tablecloth around my waist pretending it was evening gown crawling and jumping all over everything in the basement. "You have to go up to get out." My story and connection with this film isn't anything new or I've learned uncommon. A local theatre troop Hell in a Handbag did a musical on just this subject and they expressed these feelings about this movie better than I ever could.

However, I had another reason for seeing the remake. I used to be friends with the screenwriter, Mark Protosevich.
When I knew him was calling himself Mark Pro. In high school, I was friends with a group of guys, Dino, Al, and Fred, who were all basically filmmaker nerds. They all wanted to make horror movies; or at least watch horror movies. I had spent most of my teen years sitting alone in my parents basement watching tv, so it was great to finally have friends who I had a common bond with -- even if was only to talk about the movies that we've seen. In the group, Mark was the Dali Lama of nerds. Everyone respected him as the eldest one of us, (he was only one year older) and they would listen to him wax on about Sam Peckinpah, or how brilliantly a certain shot was done in "Apocalypse Now". Looking back now, Mark was sort of the Uber-nerd, with his thick glasses, and the nasal tone of his condescending voice. Mark was the leader of our style, we followed his advice about what was important. He was the first of us to break away from his parents, get his own apartment, have sex. You name it Mark had did it first and was glad to tell us how it should be done.

It's funny the things you'll remember about someone twenty years later. Although I was never one of his close friends. (I recently found a comedy skit we did together. See below). My senior year, I had a big crush on his sister, Nancy. And I think that at one time everyone had a crush on Mark, whether they would admit it or not.

But this memory of Mark I'll keep forever: Everyone had gone some school event, and Al was going to have people over at his house. Instead of going there with 'the group' I stayed behind with some other kids from school. For some reason this was the wrong thing to do. Later in the evening when I went to Alan's I knocked softly on the basement window, and waited at the door to be let in. Mark came to the door and said, "You can't come in; no one wants you here. Go Home!" For whatever reason lost in time, Mark had decreed that I was no longer 'Wanted'. It was one of those teenage angst moments that stung for many years and always had his face on it.

The last time I saw him was maybe ten years ago. Everyone was getting together for drinks because Mark was back in town. He was then a script reader for Paramount; meaning he got scripts, read them and put them in a pile to be read by someone else. I remember him looking slick and smug. The uber-nerd who made good had come back to rub his nerdly success in our faces. It was as if the high priest had gone to heaven and come back and said "Yes, it's beautiful there, too bad you can't come."

I hadn't thought of him for years, then I found out he had written the Jennifer Lopez movie "The Cell". Which granted wasn't that bad of movie, but it had a horrible, mean streak against woman, and coincidently has several scenes of women drowning in it. I followed his career here and there, finding out he'd written a script for one of the Batman movies, but it was never made. Then I found out about "Poseidon". Mark Pro was going to remake my childhood's favorite film, with one of my least favorite directors, Wolfgang Peterson. Not to be confused with Wolfgang Puck who makes a wonderful canned soup.

The first reviews of "Poseidon" were bad. Really, really bad. And unlike any other movie that I've read reviews of, most of the critics weren't pointing to the actors or the director, but singling out the screenwriter; many saying that the director's biggest mistake was using Mark's screenplay. I must admit I was a tad gleeful that the great Mark Pro had fallen flat on his face.

The main problem with "Poseidon" is that like most movies of this sort, it's completely soulless. It looks great; the ship being hit by the wave is pretty impressive. But the characters who you are supposed to be rooting for are so badly written that they are pretty much interchangeable. The women even look alike; at times I had no idea who was trapped or why I should care. It really didn't matter. The original has broadly drawn characters, played by actors that are capable of breathing life into them. The last time that I watched the original, I think I cried a little when Shelly Winters died. In this movie when a character died I felt like a video game scoreboard should have popped up. One down six to go! In fact, there is a character of some drunken guy who pops up and is dead in less than five minutes of screen time. In those few minutes he manages to spit out some of the most juvenile dialogue I've heard in some time. As Mr. Cranky said on his review site: "The only star in this film is the water. The faster it got into the boat, the faster "Poseidon" was going to be over, which is why I rooted for it."

The funny thing that Thax pointed out when he saw it, is that there is a small boy named Connor in it. His name is called out almost continually through the whole movie. Hmmm... is Mark trying to tell me something...

In a nutshell, this version of the story is already forgotten, much like the NBC Hallmark remake with Steve Guttenberg. Egad! Long live the original! Oh, and Mark is now working on a remake of the 1973 film "Omega Man". Please write your local cineplex and start the petition to stop him now.

Here is a skit I did with Mark Pro in 1983 Click Here for: Two Old Friends Don't judge me on this please, I was 19 years old and all I knew of life was what I'd seen on Dean Martin roasts.

Monday, October 23, 2006


I can only hope that someday I have a youtube video so popular that it's seen over a million times and then gets parodied by this comedy troup... If you haven't seen the video "Everyday" go to my September 11, 06 post. Hill-airy-us!


Saturday, October 21, 2006


I think that Barbra will have her first number one song in years with this one...!!!
Click here: SHUT THE FUCK UP!

(Thanks Dan for forwarding this to me!)

Monday, October 16, 2006

My Bloated Bookshelf

I have a confession. In my profile I state that one of my favorite books is "Sybil Trapper of Men". I must say, that up until this past week, I've never read it. Granted, it has been glaring at me from my bookshelf for the past 8 years. I've always been intrigued by the title. I mean, "Sybil Trapper of Men"! What self respecting gay man wouldn't want that displayed proudly on his bookshelf. (The book isn't half-bad - review coming soon).

I remember before I even moved into my first apartment I would buy books that I thought would make me look 'interesting'. I actually bought a copy of Freud's "The Interpretation of Dreams" that I would read on the bus, hoping to look intellectual. Of course, almost 20 years later my books are more a reflection of insane impulse buys at estate sales.

Here are some things I've pulled off the shelf this evening:

I love this book. It just a collection of stars headshots with a short bio. Here are some of the names in the book: Milton Berle, Woody Allen, Elliot Gould, Joan Rivers, the Marx Bros. Granted I didn't know about Theda Bara or Yves Montand. But I think I could have 'guessed' Joan Rivers. I'm sure this was a popular Hanukkah gift for 1985.

During an estate sale I picked up a bunch of self-help books from the 50s and 60s. Even though I've never gotten more than half a page into any of these books, I feel inspired to have them on my shelf. I also think that they show guests to my home that I'm trying to improve, even if through psychic means.

Other titles not shown: "The Importance of Feeling Inferior" "Breakdown: the true story of one man's victory over insanity!" "How to Stop Killing Yourself." "The 7-Day System for Gaining Self-confidence, Popularity, and Financial Success".

I've got to start reading again.

I've several books geared towards women to 'please your man' but nothing is like "Hold Your Man". I had tried to get Cheryl Tryvk to make this book into a performance piece. And in looking at it, I've several pages marked and passages highlighted. Such as:

Modesty in matters of the bathroom is essential if you wish to preserve that certain quality of fastidiousness which is precious to the woman of refinement. When you were first married you carefully avoided any mention of your physical requirements and maintained absolute bathroom privacy. However... Married people gradually let down the bars of their privacy... This is a grave mistake; and the woman who used the toilet in the presence of her husband is destroying one of his dream pictures of her. Men are such idealists -- they imagine their loved ones as having a special enchantment.

The book goes on to explain how to catch a man by making sure your teeth are clean, your breasts are firm, and you don't talk too much. To hold your man it explains to never let your husband see you out of make up (In fact, it suggests that you get up an hour earlier than your husband so that when you greet him with his breakfast in bed he sees you with lipstick and blush in place). The author also suggests that women do their reading during the day so that when their husbands are home they won't be distracted by any other entertainments.

To top it off the drawings are horrifying.

You can get her other book: Personality Unlimited on ebay for $9.99 -

That's just a brief look into my little bookshelf. If these books do say anything about me, I think that I should buy more books by Freud and start riding the bus again.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Barbra swears at a heckler. I can't believe that someone got a camera into the theatre!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

From the "Well I Thought it Was Funny" Department.

Last night I was at the Auditorium Theatre seeing the Joffery Ballet's production of Cinderella. During and intermission, I asked a friend if he wanted anything to drink from the bar; he said "I doubt if they have it, but I'd like a sherry". I went to the bartender and said, "This is a long shot, but do you have sherry back there?" He said, "No. I'm sorry we don't." (pause, pause, pause) "Well..." I replied, "Could you check to see if Nancy's around?". Stoney silence and stare. That's all folks.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

My Latest Favorite Album Cover.