Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Ah, the naïveté of youth. Especially cute, rural, muscular, well-endowed youth.

I hate unicorn drinks.

I laughed out loud at this for two minutes today.

I knew a guy like this once. Something about that face that is very recognizable, but hard to describe.

It's my new favorite thing!

Remembering Gene Anthony Ray
(May 24, 1962 – November 14, 2003)

He was best known for portraying Leroy Johnson in the 1980 film "Fame" and the 1982-1987 television series "Fame".

Ray was born in Harlem in New York City, on May 24, 1962. His father abandoned him, and he was raised by his mother, Jean Ray, and his grandmother, Viola (Lilly) Ward. Ray grew up on West 153rd Street. He showed a fondness for dance as a child, and began performing on the street and at block parties. His formal dance training included a year of dance at the New York High School of the Performing Arts (the inspiration for the film "Fame") and a class at Julia Richman High School.

While at Richman, Ray skipped class to audition for the film "Fame". His exquisite physique and good looks made him a star on the subsequent TV series, and he became fast friends with dancer-actor--choreographer Debbie Allen. Their impromptu dancing was electric. His natural athleticism and talent meant that he could out-dance almost anyone -- without any rehearsal. He was immensely charismatic; nearly everyone who met him said his mere presence charged a room.

In 1982, Ray purchased a home in rural New York for his mother and grandmother. It was torched by racists four times.

In 1983, Ray's mother, three aunts, three uncles, and grandmother were both arrested for selling drugs -- even on the set of "Fame". Jean Ray was later sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Gene Ray himself was in trouble, too. While he could be charming, sweet-natured, generous, and gentle, he also had a temper that could lead to physical violence, massive insecurities, a cruel streak, and a near-complete inability to deal with criticism. A near-alcoholic in his teens, Ray began heavily abusing drugs and alcohol during the series' run. When drunk, he was arrogant and vicious. At one point, Ray was suspended from the show for several months in 1984 for skipping 100 days of work.

"Fame" was cancelled by NBC after a single season. It was a huge hit in Europe, however, and went into syndication. It was cancelled again in the spring of 1987.

From then on, Ray barely worked. He was in a few commercials, he was in a play or two, he was a background dancer in a few films and TV shows. But no one wanted to take a chance on his addictions.

Although Ray butched it up on screen, off-camera he was flamboyant and camp. With friends, he was remarkably open about his homosexuality and his extremely active sex life; with the press, he remained frustratingly private.

By 1993, Ray had blown his life savings on partying, drugs, and alcohol. He was homeless for much of the time, sleeping on park benches. He was rarely sober.

In 1996, Ray was diagnosed HIV positive. He'd often fall ill with one disease or another, spend time in a hospice, and then seem to recover.

Ray managed to get to Europe in 2001, where he'd enjoyed the greatest success of his life. A dance school he tried to start in Milan, Italy, fell apart. He started a male stripper review to make money. A TV crew caught up to him in 2002: He was gaunt and somewhat incoherent.

Ray returned to the United States in 2003. He had gained weight and seemed healthier, and filmed a "Fame" reunion video. He moved to New York City, to be closer to his mother (who was released from prison in 1999).

Gene Anthony Ray suffered a stroke in June 2003. It's unclear what effect it had on him, but he seemed to recover. He suffered another stroke in November, lingered two or three days, and then died on November 14, 2003.

And to think, I never used to be a leg-man...

Monday, May 22, 2017

Then there was that time on Teen Titans where Beast Boy forgets that he sleeps in the nude, and shows up for training with Raven all nekkid...

Phyllis Thaxter as Martha Kent in 1978's Superman.

58-year-old Thaxter was producer Ilya Salkind's mother-in-law.

For my money, the "leaving home" scene is one of the best in the film. Thaxter plays the melancholy Martha Kent to a perfect "T".

The location was just as much a character as either Jeff East or Phyllis Thaxter in this scene. The Kent farm was on Range Road 264 near Blackie, Alberta. Contrary to published reports, the farmhouse and barn are actual buildings erected in the 1920s and 1930s by a homesteader. The farm was still in production, but the barn and house not lived in by the 1970s. The production company cut down a huge swath of trees and bushes in front of the farmhouse to give a clear view of it from the road. They painted the barn and house, and added a dormer to the north roof to give Clark's bedroom a view of the outside. After filming ending, a huge number of shrubs and trees planted to restore the front of the property.

The Smallville cemetery scene was filmed in a canyon near Beynon, Alberta.

John Williams' "Leaving Home" segment begins eerily (with a bit of the Close Encounters chorus), and moves to a wonderful, sweeping, emotional moment as Martha Kent gives up her son to whatever destiny awaits him. Her love drives her to reach out to take his hand, but she dare not. It's heart-rending to see her lose him.

The camera work as the shot ends is astonishing.

The Kent homestead in Superman (1978).

The Kent homestead in 2013. It's privately owned.

The Smallville Cemetery establishing shot in Superman (1978).

The Smallville Cemetery establishing shot in 2013. Although the grain elevator is no longer there, the annex (green structure) was moved to a new location a short distance away.

The Smallville Cemetery main shot in Superman (1978).

The Smallville Cemetery main shot in 2013.

The Smallville Cemetery reverse shot in Superman (1978). The church in the distance was most likely a prop.

The Smallville Cemetery reverse shot in 2013.


AmericanTowns Media just used my photo of the East Potomac Park Mini-Golf Course for their site "15 'one-of-a-kind' Mini Golf Courses you need to play!"

First look at Amber Heard as Mera on the set of Aquaman. The photo comes from director James Wan's Twitter account.

In every workplace I've ever been in, the bosses repeatedly demand "more collaboration". "We have too many silos here at work", they claim.

How do they know? By what measure did they make this judgement? Because, frankly, I just don't believe it. In fact, I think that TOO MUCH cooperation is going on at work, and it's hindering the work-process -- which is why cooperation fails.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

I am all a-tingle!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I just learned about Victorian Farm!!

Backstory: So, in 2002, PBS aired a Channel Four (that's a British television channel) documentary-reality show series called The 1900 House. The producers restored an actual home in a London suburb to its original 1900 condition, and a modern family attempted to live like a family in 1900. The show was chock-full of amazing facts about how people lived in 1900, and how this modern family had extensive troubling adapating (particularly the wife and girls, who found life incredibly hard).

Two years later, it was followed up by The 1940s House, in which a family of four tried to live through the London Blitz (with night-time air raids and the works). Since I'm a big fan of Mrs. Miniver, this series was right up my alley. Edwardian Country House was the next in the series. Here, a modern family tried to live like a wealthy Edwardian family, while a group of disparate strangers portrayed the house servants and staff. The family was so boring, they weren't watchable. Watching the servants, though, was like a soap opera! Regency House Party was the fourth series to air. Ten modern men and women attend a manor house party set during the British Regency of the 1810s. BORRRRR-ing. Coal House was the last to air, and it had two seasons. A modern family attempted to live like a family in a 1920s Welsh mining community. It was all right, but since a lot of the focus was on mining, which was hard to depict accurately on camera, it seemed to lose a lot.

In the United States, the success of these shows on PBS led PBS to do their own series. Frontier House was the first, and it was set in Montana in the 1880s. The problem here was the show wasn't about life in the 1880s. It was about the wacky California rich people, the rednecks from Tennesse, and the appalled Boston black family. It was more soap opera than documentary. (One wife nagged her husband so much, they divorced after the show.) It was followed by Colonial House, which recreated daily life in Plymouth Colony in 1628. Once more, PBS fucked it up royally. Instead of making a show about life in Colonial America, the show became about how the right-wing fundamentalists from Texas lorded it over everyone else by imposing modern-day Christian fundamentalism on the colony and spouting off a-historically about how much the Founding Fathers loved Jebus. The producers didn't rein them in, and their hate-speech became so bad that one of the cast members actually came out of the closet on air in protest. I stopped watching the PBS shows. There was one more, Texas Ranch House, which recreated the life of a family and ranch hands on an 1867 Texas longhorn cattle ranch in Texas. I didn't watch.

LONG STORY SHORT (too late)..............................

Today, I learned that in 2009, BBC Two ran a similar set of series. Victorian Farm is actually the second of these. The first was Tales From the Green Valley and it aired way back in 2005 (just after Regency House Party over on Channel Four). It depicted life on a Welsh farm in the 1400s (the Stuart period).

After a four-year break, Victorian Farm came out. It was the second-most popular show on BBC Two that year. It was followed up by Victorian Pharmacy in 2010, Edwardian Farm in 2010, Wartime Farm (set in WWII) in 2012, Tudor Monastery Farm (1500s-era monastery) in 2013, Secrets of the Castle (set in a 13th century French castle) in 2014, 24 Hours in the Past (about the poorest of the London poor in the 1850s) in 2015, and Full Steam Ahead (a look at railroad workers in the 1830s and 1840s) in 2016.

What's different about the BBC Two shows is that they don't feature a modern family going back in time with occasional visits from historians and experts. Instead, historians Ruth Goodman, Alex Langlands, and Peter Ginn are the stars of each show. The shows are filmed intermittently, so the historians have time to eat, shower, and relax in a hotel between each week spent doing whatever.

24 Hours in the Past was the exception. There, a TV anchor, two actors, a former Tory MP, an athlete, and an impressionist (I know: WTF?) lived like the poorest of the poor for three weeks without hotel breaks. The show bombed.

Anyway, now I have to find these BBC Two shows on DVD or Netflix and start watching!
Google Books and Hathi Trust are great for doing original research.

The problem with Google Books, though, is that their algorithms suck. I typed in the following search phrase:

"Robert D. Kohn" "H. Black & Co."

I got 10 hits back. Variations on the ampersand and "company" abbreviation did not help. Typing in

"Robert D. Kohn" Black factory

turned up more than 100 hits. Almost all of them including the phrase "H. Black & Co." It seems that Google Books either can't search for the term "H. Black & Co." in the poorly scanned images (but can search for the term "Robert D. Kohn", amazingly), or that Google Books has a crappy search algorithm that truncated my search results because Google thinks it knows better than I what I'm looking for.
I am not normally a fan of Adam Bouska's work. I find his photography trite and repetitive. Usually. This one, this one I really found eye-popping and wonderful.

I tried using this new urinal, but all it did was throw pee in my face.

New urinal

I refuse to post these to the front page of Wikipedia any more. But I will post them here. The article I wrote or assisted with is in bold.
Did You Know ... that Washington College of Law (the law school of American University in Washington, D.C.) graduate Raymond Muir served as Chief Usher in the White House from 1933 to 1938
I like his intense eyes. I like his dusky skin tone. I like the golden-burnished color of his hair.  I like his vascularity. I like his furry legs.  I like his bulge.

What's not to like?

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

I got a curly straw with my drink at the restaurant! YAY!

Curly straw

Monday, May 15, 2017

Henry Cavill. What's not to love?

Salvador Sobral won Eurovision this year. He seems a nice person, sings well, and has a nice song.

BUT............... Someone needs to (a) teach him how to use a comb, and (b) tell him that having a top-knot hairstyle reduces his I.Q. by 75 points.

I mean, honestly: The guy is on the verge of looking like Homo neanderthalensis here (at the Smithsonian).

I so wish these were real books!

Just how much experimentation went on here before this guy realized he had black-light underwear?

Sunday, May 14, 2017

I'm back.... I put off a big project for 10 months, and then ran smack into the deadline. Ooof. But now it's over.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

It's true! I've seen it!

According to Disney: Fans expressed disapproval of a CGI Leia in further "Star Wars" sequels.

But a survey, quietly taken over the past three months, shows that fans would NOT be upset if Disney used footage from other films Carrie Fisher had done, such as Drop Dead Fred, Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, or The Blues Brothers.

Disney acquired the images of Fisher from these films for an undisclosed price, and will use motion-capture of a stuntwoman and put Fisher's images from these other films into the next "Star Wars" movie.

Has anyone else seen this headline? My god, I always knew it to be true!!!

It's photographic proof!!

Found on a store shelf today!!!

Friday, March 31, 2017

That's very nice.  A bit posed, but beggars can't be choosers.

Most people think of British actor Thomas Brodie-Sangster as this little boy.

He's not. He's quite the adult stud. I'd let him fuck me all day long.

Sangster (Brodie is his middle name, and he hyphenates them for his acting work) was born in London in 1990. His first big break came in Nanny McPhee in 2005, when he was 15. Because Sangster is short and slender, and has very elfin features, he was cast as a prepubescent boy rather than the 15-year-old young adult he was. In 2007, he was cast as Ferb in the Disney animated series Phineas and Ferb, and the same year appeared on Doctor Who -- again, playing a character about five years younger than he really was.

By the time he played Newt in The Maze Runner in 2014, he was 24 years old -- and still playing a 14-year-old.

He's 27 now, and a stud. Especially where it counts, between his legs.