a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Archive for June, 2018

GoFundMe!Please help save my early writing & TV shows!

https://www.gofundme.com/save-my-early-plays-amp-tv-showsPlease help me! I’ve had to start this GoFundMe page because my storage room in Manhattan where I’ve stored the first half of my  life basically, up to 1996, is about to be destroyed and lost forever if I don’t pay the storage place $1500. The deadline is sometime mid-July. Go Fund Me is great! They put up my plea IMMEDIATELY, but so far I’ve only gotten $230 in donations. I need $1200 more. Anything will help.The Storage facility knows I am doing this. They’re being nice about it. I’ve been paying them right along since 1996. EVERY month. And now I’ve amassed late fees that they add on every month. They’ve locked everything up. I can’t get in to take things out.

CLICK ON : https://www.gofundme.com/save-my-early-plays-amp-tv-shows

My credibility as a writer would be cut in two. My diaries which I’ve kept since I was a teenager, letters…Personal effects, furniture, clothes all could go and I’d only keep the originals of the plays themselves and the important TV shows with my interviews with people like Frances McDormand or the late Brian Bedford, etc. etc. Time is running out. They won’t wait forever.

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Happy Gay Pride 2018!!!

Happy Gay Pride Day 2018!!!

A Comedy About Prostate “Milking” & Testicular Cancer?

An Indie comedy about Testicular Cancer? Immediately you want to barf. And “Funeral Day” does kind of make you feel that way until the third act, as they say, of the movie. It’s short 79 mins. but it feels like forever, until it finally gets going at the end. Jon Weinberg is the writer/producer/director/ star and his self-absorption as the hypochondriacal Scott is staggering. He makes everyone around him suffer, especially the audience. The film gets its “quirky” title from the sad fact that this loser we’re supposed to identify with won’t even attend a late friend’s funeral. So he spends the five hours, he calculates, that it would take to attend this event, by running around Hollywood trying to”find himself.” Have you thrown up yet? I can’t believe I kept watching this thing.

“Funeral Day” moves fast, as fast as our hapless protagonist, runs around L.A. From quaint/dull location to location, he sprints, but is never out of breath, because he has no car. This is supposed to make us like him? Not very much. And Weinberg isn’t cute enough or charismatic enough to pull this ridiculously unsympathetic loser of a character off, if anybody even could.

Oh! And if ever a film was in the closet, it’s “Funeral Day.” The plot really gets going in the last third of the film, when he has a friend examine his scrotal area. He thinks he has cancer. He feels a lump. And he asks his stoner friend “Feel my nuts.” This is followed by a verbal description, (no visuals, please!) were his “cock-toid area”(is that even a medical phrase?)is described ad nauseum, and well as his pubic “forest.” I began to think that this film was going to be about coming out, but no. Our hero stays in the closet.

I can’t think of another film where the words “cock,” “nuts” and “balls” is more frequently used. And not in a sexy way. And then the penultimate scene involves him encountering a hetero couple in a park, who immediately diagnose his problem as “You need your prostrate milked.” (?!?) And they do.That this scene is the high-point of the movie, and actually was funny, redeemed “Funeral Day” from being, er, a complete, real funeral.

We don’t see anything, except that yes, Our Hero is pretty summarily in bed at home with the couple (a very game Jed Rees and Kristin Carey, pictured above). His ass is in the air(but demurely covered by the bed clothes and the camera angles) and yes, Rees inserts three fingers into Weinberg’s anus, while  he fondles Ms. Carey’s large breasts. And yes, they do bring him off. And if that isn’t gay, what is?

Turns out that the obliging couple are both doctors, and insist that he see another doctor(presumably a “real” doctor immediately. And in the end, well, I guess I shouldn’t spoil the tiny little surprise that comes at the finale and tries to subvert all the bad writing and acting that has gone before. But it’s not enough. Prostate milking ends up being sold as something everyone should experience. And most gays do on a daily basis. Please. If author/director/producer/star Jon Weinberg wants so badly to be anally penetrated, will somebody please give him directions to the next gay bar?? If “Funeral Day” was a gay film, made by gays, about discovering the joys of anal sex, it might have been a riot. But as it’s made by dull straights…well…it just stays dully in the closet.

 

Sensational, New Agatha Christie Bio by Laura Thompson, Pt.2


But I digress…Nobody EVAH writes about the wonderfully witty Ariadne Oliver character in Agatha Christie’s  oeuvre, so I thought I’d just fill you all in on how I felt. I loved that character. And Poirot and Miss Marple, too! And we’ve never seen a picture of an apple-munching Dame Agatha.

No. By no means is Laura Thompson’s meticulously researched and thoughtful book about  dotty, apple-munching Ariadne Oliver. It is securely focused on the elusive Dame Agatha Christie herself.

No one can explain how she was THAT prolific. She just seemed to never stop writing. And as she got older, she used to DICTATE her books into  a Dictaphone. Writing mysteries was essential to her as breathing. And as seemingly effortless.

Though as a single Mom after her divorce, she was forced to support herself. J. K. Rowling another prolific female British author, she, of the Harry Potter books comes to mind. Though Christie always had servants and was never on welfare as Rowling famously was.

Laura Thompson was allowed access by the Christie family to many notebooks and papers that have never before seen the light of day. It’s a treat for Christie lovers, and a triumph of a biography for Thompson. I can’t imagine anything being more thorough. “Agatha Christie: A mysterious Life” is exhaustively complete. And thoroughly researched, with end notes and footnotes galore.

Thompson interweaves episodes from the very secretive Christie’s life, as they appear, quite baldly in her prose. She never got over the break-up of her first marriage to the very handsome fighter pilot Archie Christie before WWI broke out.

Needing a Crying Wall, Christie seems to have poured her heart out in her Mary Westmacott books. Under a pseudonym, she could tell the truth. But actually I find the Westmacott books inferior reads to her bounty of mysteries. She needed the focus of a murder. She had a mind like a serial killer. And she just couldn’t stop writing. All her books Thompson reveals, are one way or another thinly disguised re-tellings of her break-up with the dashing rogue, Archie. Thompson posits that he is the barely cloaked villain in many, many of the stories. And all the violence she felt towards him, she took out on the page. Much to the delight of millions of readers.

Her difficult relationship with her only daughter Rosalind is gone into in great detail. Christie was an atrocious, absentee mother, and her daughter looked and sounded like her father. She didn’t take after her mother at all. Hard-headed, she became the businesswoman her flighty mother never was. And was in large part,  the  reluctant caretaker of her literary empire.

But it is Thompson’s tendresse and insight that spell-binds. She especially excels by slipping into the first person as Agatha herself recounts her doings during her infamous ten-day disappearance, which ended her first marriage, even though she didn’t want it to.

Hiding out under the guise of a “Mrs. Neale” at a Harrowgate Spa in 1926, the entire U.K. was out searching for the lost, “poor Mrs. Christie,” sure that Archie had done her in. Thompson reveals a never-before mentioned letter that Agatha wrote to Archie’s brother Campbell, telling them all where she was, but the letter seems to have gone astray and caused the ten-day ruckus that made her famous and made every book she subsequently wrote a best-seller.

It also ended her private life. Now forever a controversial public figure, by many who considered it a publicity stunt, Rosalind said “She ruined my father’s life.” The family all the while covered it as amnesia. 

And Thompson feels that this lingering bad taste of her “mysterious” disappearance may account for her lack of respect by many critics, while Thompson considers it a result of “Christie’s simple writing style.”

And a fan looking for a new Poirot or a new Miss Marple (her other great detective, an old lady who knits, no less) are more than going to find them popping up like real life figures as Christie goes through her trials and tribulations. For in Thompson’s skilled tellings, they WERE like real figures to her. And to us, her devoted, beguiled readers. “Agatha Christie: A Mysterious Life” is a treasure to be bought and savored.

Wonderful new Agatha Christie Bio, Part One

Agatha Christie Book JacketAgatha Christie is the 2nd most popular author in the English language. Only Shakespeare beats her. She was prolific to the max and all her books are still in print. Why is so STILL so beloved? I really agree with her current biographer Laura hercule & Ariadne 1Thompson that it’s the power of her writing. NOT just the mysteries themselves, which, yes, for the most part are brilliant.

But she could write like an angel and it’s very satisfying to read her books for, yes, her prose style, dare I say. The beginning of “Elephants CAN Remember” opens with a never-endlessly funny(to me) monologue for her also underrated mystery writer character(Really a caricature of herself, which she admitted freely) Ariadne Oliver.

ARIADNE, who, you say?

Hercule & Ariadne 3Well, in her later years, it is said she grew tired of her most famous creation the Belgian detective Hercule Poirot. The world fell in love with Poirot and it is said that it was his astounding popularity that propelled Dame Agatha to keep including him in her puzzles, her novels. She wrote over 80 of them, and Poirot is featured in something like 50.

The brilliant actor David Suchet, played him on the PBS series that ran for over 25 years. He filmed Poirot in every one. A great actor, he made the already endearing character, even more popular than ever. A Belgian, who was constantly mistaken for a Frenchman,(and he didn’t like that), was an OCD personality before that affliction even had a name.

His morning eggs had to be exactly the same size, for instance, and he was always com il faut, with his bow ties, cravats, vests, and patent leather shoes that were always too tight. Ariadne Oliver was his best female friend, a colleague, never a love interest, but she could be outrageous, while Poirot was always serious about his “little grey cells”(his ever-functioning brain).

I wish there was more of her. She turned up late in the Christie ouevre, but had Dame Agatha not died in 1976, at age 86, she was still writing, and I do believe Ariadne Oliver would have been more center stage than she was. In one of her last books “Elephants Can Remember” she practically elbows Poirot off to the sidelines.

Zoe as Ariadne 1She was irrestible. She was funny, in the drollest sense of the world, and she was constantly fed up with her writing and HER detective, Sven Hjerson, a Finn, who she grew tired of years previously. She beviled by him. Ariadne says “Of course, he’s idiotic, but people like him.”

British actress Zoe Wanamaker is just as sensational a scene stealer on the PBS TV series as she is in the books.

Addicted to eating apples constantly, she is always decrying her fate as a mystery writer/novelist in the wryest manner possible.

She appears in at least six of the later Poirot novels. She seems to make them bearable to Christie, who killed off Poirot in the ’40s in a book that wasn’t  published til after her death “Curtain.”

Elephants Can Remember

To be continued…

Zoe as Ariadne 1

Katrina Lenk & Tony Shaloub BOTH Win Best Actress & Actor & Best Musical for “The Band’s Visit”!

That’s it! “The Band’s Visit” has just won EVERYTHING! Good! Great!

A clean sweep! Katrina Lenk! Tony Shaloub! Congratulations to all! And to all a good night! Best Tony Show EVAH!

“Angels”Wins Best Revival, Katrina Lenk Sizzles Singing “Omar Sharif”

It looked like half the audience got up and paraded on to the stage as producers of the winner of “Best Revival of a Play..” What else?

“Angels in America” Parts One and Two.

Then the star-making moment of the evening when Best Actress in a Musical nominee Katrina Lenk sizzled as she sang “Omar Sharif” in an intense, smoldering close-up to Best Actor in a Musical nominee Tony Shaloub, who didn’t get to say or sing one word. “The Band’s Visit” which has won everything else so far….Will she win Best Actress, too??? Will he??? We all know it’s going to win Best Musical….

Another upset. “Once on This Island” wins Best Revival!?!?

Robert DeNiro just got bleeped a couple of times…I don’t know why…I guess we’ll find out why later…He’s introducing Bruce Springsteen. Who performs (and acts) a solo piece called “Your Home Town.” Serious stuff from him. Poignant monologue about his Catholic childhood. I can relate.

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