NERDERY: More Who Blogging

“I really am just a madman in a box.”

So here it is, and two episodes earlier than I thought it would be.  At last, the thesis of Moffat’s run, delivered bluntly and with terrible heartbreak.

Does he mean it?  I don’t know.  The Doctor is an inscrutable creature, after all, capable of saying almost anything as long as it accomplishes the right end.    But I think Moffat means it.  Not reductively, of course: a madman in a box is still a wonderful thing and well worth watching on television.  But he’s not the Messiah; he’s a very naughty boy.

You cheeky bitch.

How did it come to this?  The first half of season six was about the Doctor as a resurrected, unmistakably Messianic figure.  Except, of course, that it wasn’t.  It’s never so simple with Moffat, who again seems single-mindedly devoted to deconstructing all of the easy comforts that Davies served up for our delectation.  Oh, how we feasted on it; I even loved when little Yoda Doctor turned into big powerful Doctor because everyone believes in fairies.  Hell, I swallowed the unmitigated guff of the season four finale because I wanted to believe.

"I'm sorry, Donna. But this is not hard sci-fi."

This is an entire episode devoted to tearing that faith down.  It doesn’t come on like that, naturally.  Writer Toby Whithouse (who gave us the enjoyable but nowhere near as complex Vampires of Venice) has brought us what can reasonably be called The Shining in Space.  In a surreally old-fashioned hotel, residents are called to face what seem to be their deepest fears before falling prey to a devouring God figure.  The Tardis, which apparently has the worst GPS in the galaxy, plunks down in the middle of the place and the Doctor, as is his way, decides to solve the mystery.  Monster of the Week, right?

Yes.  And the Monster is the Doctor.


As a title, The God Complex is a vicious fake-out.  Most obviously, the minotaur inhabiting the maze is a God figure who demands worship before snuffing out his subjects.  Is the Doctor so different?  In a sense, he demands submission, obeisance.  He tends to defy and humiliate those unimpressed with his genius.  Companions can challenge him, but at the end of the day, the Doctor wins on the Doctor’s own terms.  Still, even his towering, Aspergers-inflected narcissism has its limits.  The “happy” ending here depends on the Doctor convincing Amy Pond that her adventures only have two possible endings: discontinuation or death.  And so Whitman and Moffat do the unthinkable: two episodes before a season finale, they dump the Companion.

"What you talkin' bout, Willis?"

Seriously.  The Doctor dumps Amy Pond.  And poor, sweet Rory (though he does get a bitching car).

Of course, he’s still saving them.  By demythologizing himself.  Which only makes him more mythic and impressive.


It’s a hell of an episode, styled and shot in a manner that suggests Guillermo del Toro and Tim Burton had sex with Tron.  Director Nick Hurran deserves much credit for keeping in continuity and yet layering in some deliciously baroque touches; it’s often hard to tell if the episode’s wide angles are factors of architecture or cinematography.  The pace is deliberate but unrelenting, the scares wonderfully effective, and the gallows humor far more gallowsy than usual.

What really deserves examination here is that it’s an episode about the perils of religion.  The obvious explanation (this monster feeds on our fears) is finally upended by the realization that the monster is REALLY feeding on faith.  The last thing its victims do before dying is embrace the minotaur’s awesome divinity without question.  Rory, an atheist, is safe from harm, and the Doctor remains as difficult to categorize as ever (but who or what exactly did he see behind that door…?), but everyone else has a larger philosophy to be preyed on.  Paranoia, God, surrender, and in Amy’s case, the infallibility of the Doctor.  They aren’t seen as weaknesses per se, but each of these worldviews is red meat for the minotaur.  It cannot be a happy chance that the monster preying on these hopes and dreams is a classic false idol.  Whitman’s telling us that blind devotion is a trap.  It’s a pretty radical thing for a weekly family fantasy series to drop on its viewers, and more proof that Doctor Who is endlessly thematically malleable.

Terrific cast, as it happens.  After last week’s 3 character tragedy, this is a proper ensemble piece.  Smith is as mischievous and captivatingly intelligent as ever, with able support by the canny, haunted Gillan and the increasingly empowered Darvill.  The other captives are played by Amara Karan, Dimitri Leonidas, Daniel Pirrie and comedy star David Walliams.  All are good (and Walliams is particularly sharp as a ratty creature from a race of preturnatural cowards), but Karan takes the gold.  She’s delightful and a natural match for our hero.  The Doctor’s affections are so prized that when he takes an interest in Karan’s Muslim doctor, even the viewer feels jealous.  He’s ours, after all.

Except he isn’t.  He cannot belong to anyone.

Seriously, did we just lose Amy Pond?  The Girl Who Waited?  One of the greatest Companions the franchise has ever seen?  The “NEXT TIME” teaser indicates that while the Cybermen may return, Amy Pond doesn’t.  James Corden, cuddly sidekick of The Tenant, appears to be the big supporting character next week.  Are we about to get a male Companion?  It wouldn’t be unwelcome given Corden’s chemistry with Smith, but…


This began as a project to just start reviewing Who for fun, but as chance would have it, the series is just starting what appears to be some of its most mature, ambitious movements to date.  It’s still dynamite Saturday night entertainment, of course.  But Who matters, now more than ever.  It’s escapism with a conscience, adventure with consequences.

Best fucking thing ever.

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NERDERY: My First Doctor Who Blog

This was meant to be posted Saturday night, but technical difficulties prevented it.  From now on, Who blogging will be posted on the night or the next day.


Steven Moffat is clearly a sadist. If there is anything that gives him pleasure, and you can see it in his work with Doctor Who, Sherlock and Jekyll, it’s presenting an audience with a nearly impossible dilemma and not giving them the easy way out. There’s always a price, always a loser, and…well…not always a winner. The blueprint was set in what must be considered one of the classic Who episodes, and the first time most viewers sat up and wondered, “Who on earth WROTE this?”: The Girl in the Fireplace. The blueprint is as follows: Doctor throws himself headlong into an adventure, second party falls desperately in love, Doctor and second party crash headlong into practicalities making said love an impossibility, choice must be made to either do the thing that feels right or the thing that is right. It’s almost evil how effective a formula it is.

"And now you will cry. Yes, let me taste your DELICIOUS TEARS."

In many ways, it’s the anti-Davies. Davies loved setting in motion a thousand-car pile-up of temporal insanity and then resolving it by saying, “Well…he’s the DOCTOR!” What makes Moffat an often-divisive figure among the Who fanbase is that any wish-fulfillment is hard-earned. Look at his portrait of Van Gogh (an underrated episode if ever there was one). Even written by professional fluffer Richard Curtis, the episode ends on a hard truth: want to take Van Gogh into the future and show him how much joy his work brings the masses? Terrific. He’ll still kill himself, but his life will have one more tiny, infinitesimal increment of joy in it. The big finish to Moffat’s first season? A massive, euphoric happy ending tempered only by the knowledge that Rory waited all alone for Amy for thousands of years, and the Doctor was imprisoned in a claustrophobic space-box for the same length of time. Take the win where you can find it, Moffat seems to be saying, and decide if it was worth it.

(By the way, this episode was written by New Who veteran Tom MacCrae, but it is DRIPPING with the Moffat house style)

All of this is by way of saying that the tenth installment of the 6th season, The Girl Who Waited, is one of the most emotionally grueling Who episodes in recent memory, and one of the best. Moffat’s been on a dream run, building an entire season around the twin intricacies of River Song’s origin and the Doctor’s growing reputation as an intergalactic menace. In fact, Moffat may be the first writer to devote this much time to debunking the myth of the Doctor as some charming, shambling intergalactic hobo (despite the lovely shades of Troughton that Matt Smith colors into his portrayal) who brings a bit of sunshine and danger into the lives of his fellow travelers. This season, it’s been made clear: the Doctor has fucked up. A lot. And the cost has never been more apparent. The River Song origin story has tied into this quite neatly. After all, what sort of man is so horrifically dangerous that an alien society breeds a weapon to get rid of him?


All of this makes it sound like this episode is not also packed with AWESOMENESS, which it most assuredly is.

Let’s back up.

The story: the Doctor takes Rory and Amy to the planet Apalapucia, one of the top tourist attractions in the universe (not the top one, the Doctor explains, because “everyone goes there”), only to find that the Tardis has landed in a “kindness facility” designed to quarantine and treat victims of the Chen 7 virus. Amy is separated from the group and, having been mistaken for a virus victim, placed in an alternate, and much accelerated, timestream. She grows old in a matter of minutes. The rest of the episode is about Rory and the Doctor attempting to rescue her.

Except that it’s really about so much more. Amy, by the time Rory and the Doctor find her, has spent nearly 40 years as the only sentient being in a facility full of robots who unwittingly try to murder her with alien vaccines her body won’t accept. She’s old, she’s tired and she’s bitter. For the first time, she truly hates the Doctor.

And you know what? Maybe she ought to hate him. Amy’s first exposure to everyone’s favorite Time Lord was based on a betrayal: he dangled the promise of adventure right in front of her eyes and then vanished for years. This time, however unintentionally, the Doctor has left her out to dry in the worst way possible. Her youth has been drained away, her sense of adventure hardened into a grim survivalism. The Doctor, through his capricious noodling, has essentially killed Amy Pond.

Of course there’s a way out. Through the usual “timey-wimey” thingamajigging, it is possible to rescue young Amy and thus erase old Amy. Old Amy, however, may have survived too long to submit to that very easily.

Okay, this is complicated.

If there’s a star this week, it’s not Matt Smith, who spends most of the show in his own little bottle episode entitled I Fucked Up, trying to fix his errors from inside the Tardis. Nor is it Karen Gillan, who gives her usual sterling performance and ages herself smartly. No, this week belonged to Arthur Darvill. Rory has, over the course of the Moffat run, established himself as one of the first “boyfriend companions” to not immediately make me break out in hives from irritation. Starting off as a bit of a drippy smart-alec, Rory has revealed himself to be a courageous, intelligent and challenging match for Amy. In other words, a totally reasonable alternative to the Doctor. I never spent hours wondering if Rose would ditch her kick-ass adventures around space and time to settle down with poor, butt-hurt Mickey. Even Davies seemed to know that, eventually finding an excuse to make Mickey bad-ass, by which point we’d all forgotten about him anyway. No, Rory is key to the success of the current series, and Darvill’s been given a lot to play in this episode.

He rises to the occasion, to say the least. Darvill’s usual “JESUS CHRIST WHAT HAVE YOU DONE” panic plays beautifully as he searches for young Amy, but when he finds old Amy, it turns into something else. We see that he would take old Amy if he had to, but when the great big honking Sophie’s Choice at the heart of the episode shows up, Darvill’s performance goes from sweet to heart-rending. The climactic minutes of The Girl Who Waited are almost impossibly moving, and it’s all down to Darvill. He’s earned his spot in the opening credits, no mistake.

Just one of the many faces of Arthur Darvill


And it really would be, but the episode is packed tight with just the sort of nimble thrills that Who delivers at its best. It’s lightspeed storytelling, throwing loops and curves at regular intervals, and steeped in the kind of talk-as-action that makes me think Moffat may actually be the science-fiction Aaron Sorkin. But it’s not all wordplay and puzzle-cracking. Amy Pond gets a sword. Think about that for a second. Ever thought it might be fun to watch Amy Pond slice through a battalion of robots with a samurai sword? Turns out you were right. Another sweet little kick: Imelda Staunton is the pleasantly unhelpful voice of the facility. Apparently Umbridge has found work in alien healthcare.


The design may also be a new high for Who. The sterile, blindingly white facility and the vast alien topiary are lushly envisioned. For action, pace and visuals, director Nick Hurran deserves top marks. This is spectacularly confident television.

It all comes back to this, however: how long can this last? There’s no real comfort in the closing lines of The Girl Who Waited. The Doctor is still on the run. Amy’s been to hell and back several times over. Rory has displayed more patience than any boyfriend in the history of the world. There’s a reckoning coming, and one more clearly defined than any threat in the post-Davies era. Is the Doctor going to have to pay? And how dearly?

Of course he’ll make it through. Just. But there will be a price.

Doctor Who really is the best fucking thing ever.

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Naked Killer (1992) – A Tribute to the Greatest Movie Ever Made

I don't know why they didn't lead with the scene where everyone drinks tea. I guess they thought this would sell tickets. Whatever.

If the advertising campaign for The King’s Speech has taught us anything, it has taught us this: Some movies you see.  Others, you feel.

Still others have lesbian assassins, dick-eating and exploding hats.  Such a film is Naked Killer.

I don’t fit a very coherent profile when it comes to my tastes in film.  I love American summer blockbusters.  I love movies where French people brood about banging each other.  I love Indian musicals.  I fucking love Kung Fu movies.  Basically, I don’t care where your movie’s from or what it’s about as long as it puts me in that special, heightened place, that ecstatic hysteria of movie love.  It’s what I long for every time the lights dim in a theater (still a magical moment for me), every time I pop in a DVD of some unseen chestnut, every time I take advantage of the unholy pleasures of Netflix instant.  Take me there, make me giggle with the joy of discovery and awe, and I’ll be yours forever.  Raiders of the Lost Ark does that for me.  The Blues BrothersSholay. Om Shanti OmThe Third ManA Clockwork OrangeDuck Soup. Fist of Legend.  Crippled Avengers. All but two or three Terry Gilliam films.

Basically, I love loving movies.  I’m not an easy lay, but if I’m sitting down to watch your movie, I want to like it.  This dewy-eyed optimism can lead to surprising delight in a well-turned B picture (The A-Team) or angry disappointment with a work that has LITERALLY EVERYTHING IN IT THAT I SHOULD LIKE but still sucks (Nine).  Being a real movie lover makes every excursion a gamble, because it means I have a stake in the experience beyond getting my money’s worth.  I want my love’s worth.

The makers of Naked Killer (Producer/writer/prolific sleaze-genius Wong Jing and director Clarence Fok Yiu-leung) know what my love is worth.  Separately, they have made terrible, terrible films.  Together, they made this.  And it is one of the few genre pictures that takes a genuinely junky premise (hot chick assassins) and actually DOES something with it, never letting any single sequence be a mere functional progression of the plot when it can also be a hothouse of stylish filth.  It’s so cracked-out and vivid, and so in love with the kind of gratification movies alone provide, that there can be only one assessment:

Naked Killer is objectively the greatest movie ever made.

It’s a movie so great that Wong Jing, knowing he’d capped his career, more or less remade it in 2002 and called it Naked Weapon.  Accept no substitutes, however – this is the real deal, an honest-to-god exploitation treasure from Hong Kong cinema’s golden age.

Exhibit A – the trailer:

The greatness of that trailer is twofold:

1. The torrent of insane shit flashes by so quickly that you can’t really process it.  In what context does any of what you just saw make realistic sense?

2. Those aren’t even the best parts.

To summarize: Kitty (the unspeakably hot Chingmy Yau) is one angry girl, given to acts of horrifying violence if a man doesn’t meet her standards, though in fairness, most of the men in this film are idiots or rapists or both.  Her main tactic?  The kicking, shooting or stabbing of balls.

"Meow, bitches."

Tinam (Simon Yam, endearingly goofy in his pre-supercool years) is  your garden variety STREETWISE COP ON THE EDGE.  He’s also suffering from a serious, ahem, gun problem.  After accidentally killing his brother, even touching his weapon causes him to vomit.  He’s frustrated.  Emasculated.  Impotent.  Yes, Tinam certainly is neurotic about his gun.

Also, he has trouble getting it up.  V’OH!

This was the only available shot of Simon Yam from this movie. He's drinking milk in the bath. So...yeah.

Anyway, he falls for Kitty, who teaches him how to love (and get an erection) again.

And all it took was boobs. Magnificent, magnificent boobs.

Yes, Tinam, and the audience, are smitten with this testicle-destroying beauty.  But when Kitty falls afoul of the particularly rapey idiot responsible for the death of her saintly father, she is rescued by the mysterious Sister Cindy (MILFy Wai Yiu, or as I like to call her, “Why, you…!”), goes into seclusion, and begins her new life as a contract killer.  Sister Cindy trains her in the twin arts of combat and dykistry.

Just ladies, doing lady things.

Simple, you scoff?  I only wish it were!  It turns out that life is anything BUT simple for a hot chick assassin.  For one thing, the clothes are insane.




For another, sexy contract killing is a free market proposition, meaning competition is STIFF.  Enter evil psycho-lesbians Princess (Carrie Ng) and Baby (Madoka Sugawara).

Just a couple of lesbo assassins chillin' down after a long day.

Suffice it to say, things get moist.


And deadly.

But still also moist.

I promise you, I’ve spoiled nothing in explaining all of this.  The narrative doesn’t connect all of these dots in predictable ways, so the broad outline is pretty unrevealing.  The sweet/twisted story of Kitty and her father, for instance, is one of the film’s berserk highlights.  And even if you know the story going in, nothing can prepare you for the preposterous details that Wong and Fok employ in the telling.  The lush, weird production design, all miles of drapery and massive pillars, like something dreamed up by a gay giant; Peter Pau’s agile, popgasmically colorful cinematography (he would win an Oscar nine years later for his handsome, stately work shooting Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon); the performances, every one pitched somewhere between lurid camp and actionable psychosis; the coke-addled momentum of the thing, always threatening to overheat before…YES, it totally does.  And then it keeps going.

Naked Killer is also fertile ground for analysis.  Tinam’s impotence is a revealing plot device.  He dresses stylishly (at least that’s the idea) and swaggers into every scene like King Shit, but the moment he has to take action, he literally throws up.  And when his physical impotence is cured by Kitty, he’s still a hapless stooge, constantly mocked, fooled and pushed around by his dream woman.  In a world where every man is a slobbering sex criminal, we’re asked to root for someone who’s comically weak.  Can this really be the audience surrogate?  If it’s a film designed to cater to horny boys (and it definitely is), what the hell are the makers trying to say?  Could this be a trenchant, if unintended, critique of the main audience for films like this?  Of course, Tinam comes around for the climax (ahem) but until then it’s amazing how pathetically the filmmakers portray their traditional point of audience penetration (cough).

Maybe that’s because, in a break with tradition, our sympathies are meant to rest with the female lead.  Sure, she’s a castrating bitch (literally, she’s very irritable and she castrates people), but hers is the real journey of the film, from an angry woman betrayed by men to a superbadass assassin who has tasted Sapphic pleasures.  The film insists that the main love story is between Kitty and Tinam, but it’s obvious what the real romance is here: Kitty and Sister Cindy share the movie’s most legitimately sexy moments, and Yau and Wai seem genuinely turned on by each other.  The heterosexual trysts in the film are hilariously awkward, but in every moment of breathless nearness and fondling between the women, the entire film seems to shudder.  Sure, it’s exploitation, but the joy of much exploitation is the story it doesn’t MEAN to tell.  Wong Jing can throw in as many scenes of tortured yearning between Yam and Yau as he likes, but no dice.

Feel the strangely muted heat.

It’s hard to call the film feminist when it spends so much time leering at its scantily-clad (though rarely naked) subjects, but JESUS if the women don’t come out ahead of the men.  The women go on international missions, play dangerous games, employ subterfuge and pursue passionate affairs.  The men (well, the ones who aren’t rapists, and I’m serious, there are a BUNCH of rapists in this movie) stumble around trying to figure out what the fuck just happened.  It’s also refreshing how much blood-soaked justice is meted out to its male offenders, and how Wong and Fok pull no punches in hitting them where it hurts.  If you have testicles, expect to spend a lot of time cradling them in the watching of this film.

Of course, the main reason to watch is that this is a rare genre piece that is all killer, no filler.  You will see martial arts, exploding bodies, gunfights that destroy beautiful sets that a gay giant worked very hard to design, lesbian love, wild stunts, and, yes, a guy actually eating a dick.

So many genre movies start and stop at the premise stage, assuming that once they’ve hooked you, their job is done.  They go about their cynical business with a dispiriting joylessness, treating the actual making of exploitation cinema like a bothersome formality.  Not Naked Killer.  It’s different.  It’s a keeper.  Every chaotic, stupid, compelling, thrilling, heedless minute of it is dedicated to mining its premise and finally transcending it.  Unlike most films of its ilk, it’s not a “meh” deal that’s littered with highlights.  There are maybe five minutes in total of Naked Killer that are not working overtime to show you something you have never seen before, or at least never with such batshit energy.

In short, it’s the greatest movie ever made.  Watch it with someone you love.  Be lesbians together.



Bastard Keith

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As the World Spirals Into Chaos, I Go to the Theatre

First of all: few things are as spectacularly wonderful as going to a fancy event with a dirty secret, and heading out to Broadway’s utterly gorgeous Cort Theatre, massive red velvet curtain, beautifully painted ceiling, opera boxes and all, was easily fancy enough to make the Birdlocked under my clothes feel thrillingly illicit.  Rosebud was in high style, looking as lushly sexy as I’d ever seen her, and to be under lock and key among the swells was BONER FUEL.

Like this. But the rocket is a penis, and the fire is...I don't know what the fire is.

But enough about me getting off on  cheap, sick thrills.  On to me getting off on politics!

"I rim for votes." James Buchanan, you fucking scamp.

It seems fitting that in the days leading up to a possible government shutdown (which may or may not be solved by the time I finish writing this article) I found myself in a position to attend the new Broadway production of Garson Kanin’s priceless 1946 comedy Born Yesterday.  It’s a favorite of mine, with a classic screwball premise: Harry Brock (James Belushi), a rich, bullying New Jersey scrap merchant, arrives in Washington with his drunk, dim-bulb moll, Billie Dawn (Nina Arianda), in tow.  Brock’s there to buy out a senator who will push massive deregulation, allowing him to do deals in a Europe that’s still in tatters from WW2.  Billie, though, proves a roadblock: she’s crass, loud and very hard to control.  Her social ineptitude so worries Brock that he hires a highbrow journalist, Paul Verrall (Robert Sean Leonard), to educate her.  A little knowledge, as everyone knows, is a dangerous thing, and Billie’s education drags Brock’s life into chaos as she begins to understand (and question) democracy, money and power.  She’s also beginning to take a liking to Verrall, a dangerous proposition when you’re on Harry Brock’s arm.

It’s simple, diagrammatic and perfectly turned by Kanin, whose knack for finding poetry in the inarticulate is second to none.  Doug Hughes’ handsome, well-mounted production is  still in previews, so I can’t say too much about it, nor about my connection to it, so I’ll keep this part brief: it’s old-fashioned in the best way, and if it doesn’t make a star out of the sexy, funny, utterly beguiling Arianda, I’ll be shocked.  The other two leads are great value as well, Leonard charming and dry, and Belushi a bit of a revelation.  On the evidence of this, I’ll have to take him off of the “Jesus God In No Possible World Will I Ever Watch Something With This Toolbag In It” list.  He’s fucking GOOD.

If you desire him, render his mating cry: "Beluuuuuuuuuuuuuush!"

The reasons the play resonated with me so much, especially watching it at this point in history, are manifold.  First of all, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about feminism, as readers will know.  Born Yesterday is, despite its antiquity, pretty fucking strong as a proto-feminist piece: initially seen as a piece of arm candy and kind of a moron, Billie Dawn reveals hidden depths and a canny intellect.  Admittedly, this is under the tutelage of a man, but Billie is the engine that drives the second half of the play, her machinations and desires proving stronger than Brock’s endless fortune.  A kept woman, she finally decides who she wants to be with and what she wants to do.  Kanin gives Billie dialogue about as funny as anything ever put to paper, and Arianda nails every laugh down to the commas, but what this production and performance really put into stark relief for me is the way that a repressive male system strangles female liberation by force and deprivation.  Billie is constantly sent to her room, insulted to her face, even slapped (a moment that may not have played as heavily on its debut, but REALLY put the shits up the audience at the Cort), but she glides through it all, drunk and switched off.  She’s numb to the indignity of it all, accepting that her place is on a powerful man’s arm.  What other opportunities are there for a former chorine?  She has fits of rebellion (stubbornness, flirtation, and an almost terrifying aptitude for beating Harry at cards), but they’re only taken seriously inasmuch as they endanger Harry’s Washington business.  She’s treated as a device for sex and not much else, and she’s not questioning her role, really.

The beautiful irony is that Verrall’s education of Billie, initially part of a plan to make her more acceptable and compliant, shakes her awake.  It’s largely against her will.  But once she begins to read, think, research, it becomes clear to her: she has a place in this world that demands active participation.  She takes to it with a vengeance, and the conclusion is a gratifying example of a female hero having her cake and eating it, too.  Billie may be running off with Verrall at the end, but he’s a man of quality who doesn’t take her for granted.  She wins because she realizes she’s worth a damn, and she really is.  It’s a Kanin special, a unique mix of cynicism and wide-eyed hope.

This extends to the politics of the thing, which is the other big reason I was so smitten.  It’s a transparently liberal play, political in broad strokes, but it’s almost unnerving how relevant it is now.  This may be due to the fact that the more things change, the more they stay the same (Bob Roberts has a similarly eerie resonance), but it’s still surprising when a 65 year-old play talks about the dangers of deregulation.  Kanin’s play, hilarious and fleet on the surface, finally blossoms into full-blown outrage when the extent of Brock’s disregard for process and civility is revealed.  The play near-explodes with its keening love for real, functional democracy.  Kanin wants to show the beauty of the system: that every vote counts, that the government really is US, and if we get involved, we can affect positive change.  I’ve always believed this, and I also think that the only reason the Tea Party is running so hurtfully amok in Washington is because they got involved, loudly.

"Lower my taxes, don't give healthcare to the poor, and GET ME MY FUCKING SNUGGLEBEAR!"

It’s a heartening message in any case, all the more poignant as partisan ideology brings us to the brink of government just….stopping.  As of writing, the one thing holding up budget negotiations is the Republicans’ insistence that all federal funding to Planned Parenthood be immediately yanked.  Seriously.  That’s it.  Thousands of seniors will go without hot meals.  Military payroll will freeze.  It will hurt America in so many hundreds of ways if this shutdown is effected, and I want everyone reading this to remember one thing: if it happens, it’s because there are rich assholes in Washington who want to erase, little by little, every piece of progressive legislation going back to the New Deal.  They want women to sit down and shut up.  They want gays to stay second class citizens.  They want corporations to run your healthcare.  They want you to think that you’re powerless.

Don’t buy it.  Make like Billie Dawn.  Read up, get informed and get moving.  ASK QUESTIONS.  In Wisconsin, recall elections are happening in the wake of a ghastly piece of Republican anti-union legislation.  I’d be willing to bet that an awful lot of voters don’t even know that they have the power to recall.  Millions are standing up for Planned Parenthood, for NPR, for all of the tiny little bricks that the GOP want to chip out of the wall.  Stand up with them.

The Tea Partiers have this abstract notion of “spending.”  It’s bad, it’s wrong, we want LESS of it. How many have really contemplated how their lives are affected by that spending?  No EPA?  Great!  No Department of Education?  Fine!  Social Security? Privatize it!  Medicare, Medicaid?  Cut, cut, cut, cut, cut.  No more Planned Parenthood.  How DARE my tax dollars be spent on ABORTIONS?

Except that the EPA is acting to save our environment, which, contrary to what you may have heard, is affected by pollution.  The Department of Ed is working to genuinely improve conditions for our country’s students.  Every available model says that privatizing Social Security would be calamitous.  Medicare and Medicaid help so many older or impaired citizens that cutting to the extent that the GOP are demanding would be inhumane.  And Planned Parenthood?  Whether you like abortions or not, they also do breast exams, pap smears, GENERAL WOMEN’S HEALTH.

This shit is important.

Make cuts, absolutely.  We need to tighten the national belt.  But if you want government revenue to bump up, stop giving tax cuts to the wealthy.  Like Harry Brock, the millionaires and billionaires of this country have proven that if you give them enough rope, they’ll hang YOU.  It isn’t trickling down.  There aren’t more domestic jobs being created.  Fuck it, look at the MATH.


It was awfully nice to come out of a classic play so fired up.

And in the last few minutes, it seems a deal has been struck to continue funding (at least temporarily) our government.  The Planned Parenthood rider will be up for a vote on the Senate floor, where it will, rest assured, die.  As will the rider defunding health care reform.

The good guys may not always win, but the bad guys don’t always get what they want.

This is a country full of Billie Dawns, male and female, intellects just waiting to be switched on and fired up.

Many of them are super-foxy blondes. TRUE.

Get involved.



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My Adventures in the World of Women: Being a Feminist Smut Peddler

I know, excitement!  A man writing about feminism!  Another genius gazing down into his endless navel from the perch of male privilege.

"Hey, thumbs up, fucker!"

But here’s the thing.  Men need to think about what it is to be genuinely pro-woman.  Not think more, but think at all.  Because right now the earth is opening up right under our feet, all of us, and we face a choice.  A regressive, repressive white male Taliban is trying to legislate women back into the kitchen and the maternity ward for good.  Opposing them, the rest of us, those who feel that a woman’s body is hers to do with as she pleases.  This goes beyond pro-choice/pro-life.

"Trust us with your ovaries."

Side note: The terms that have come to define the differing sides of the abortion debate are FUCKING STUPID.  Pro-life?  “Sure, you could be for abortion, but that would make you ANTI-LIFE, wouldn’t it?  What?  You don’t like life?”  What about the life of the woman in question?  Why does the consideration of a fetus, which has no conscious sense of being, carry more weight than the medical/existential situation of the woman carrying it?  And if women HAVE to carry the baby to term, what’s the plan for giving care if the woman can’t actually provide it herself?  Oh, that’s right.  To the religious right, life begins at conception and ends at birth.  After that, the little fucks are on their own.  Pro-life my ass.

Where was I?  Right.  With the proliferation of recent anti-choice legislation (including but not limited to the bill that would have redefined rape as either “rape” or the more rapey variety of actual rape), battle-lines have been drawn.  But that’s only partially what this is about.  Plenty of ink has been spilled on the Tea Party’s delightfully relentless assault on the dignity of America’s women.  I’m not here with another diatribe to provoke scores of chin-scratching lefties into nodding thoughtfully and saying, “So true.”  I probably don’t have much new to say on the matter.  Here’s where I’m going with this:

My life has recently been a fertile space for the consideration of what feminism means from a male perspective.  Being married to Rosebud, a dominant female-bodied queer person hasn’t muddied the issue; rather, it has only clarified my feelings.  There has been much discussion in this house of privilege and what constitutes privilege.  Learning submission, at its most basic level, is about a rejection of the very idea of privilege.  The funny thing about privilege, though, is how invisible it is to the privileged.  I don’t kid myself that I’m somehow a member of the underclass; as a white male, I’m pretty much guaranteed a seat at the table (even if Jews have always had to be more self-deprecating and receptive to insult in order to gain that seat).  A recent conversation with Rosebud shed some light on the matter.

We had a discussion after which I was CONVINCED that somehow she had obscured her feelings from me.  I asked questions, she got frustrated, I asked more questions, and she finally expressed her frustration that I was focusing so much on understanding her actions as opposed to respecting them.  And I got it: I’m not OWED anything.  And that includes an understanding, or even, really, an explanation.  Now, this may not be the case in many vanilla relationships, but it was a useful lesson in what I’ve come to expect: that everything has to make sense to ME, through the prism of MY experience.

It sort of blew my mind, even if to the reader it might seem a bit trivial.

Anyway, I got thinking.  I’ve always considered myself a feminist.  Supporting a woman’s right to choose, her right to say no to sex, her right to equal pay for equal work, her position as a head of a household, her freedom to do LITERALLY WHATEVER SHE DAMN WELL PLEASES within the limits of legality.  I’ve also always understood that the system was rigged against her, and as such needed reform.  I read scores of books in high school, works by Gloria Steinem, Camille Paglia, bell hooks.

The point is: I TOTALLY GOT IT.

Except, of course, I didn’t.

I’ve done stupid things in my life.  I’ve made comments that could be seen as sexist.  I’ve made poor, insensitive word choices.  I’ve acted comfortably in a patriarchal system without really thinking about what I was doing.

I had immense resentment with my mother for several years, not really stopping to think that she basically had one of the hardest jobs of all time: being the woman of a house with her husband and three sons.  These days, understanding her gifts to me and my brothers, her wisdom and her sacrifice (this is a woman who gave up smoking and a globe-trotting lifestyle to raise three kids, four if you count my father, which he probably would), I cherish every moment I’m lucky enough to spend in her presence.  She carved out her own identity before, during and after our births.  She worked jobs, some well-paying, some not so.  She’s contributed in time, work and money to the AIDS crisis in South Africa, and educated me in it, and continues to do so.  She is an amazing person.  I may have been an impossible shit to raise, but I like to think I’m doing a little better at being her son these days.  Rosebud makes sure of that.

Rosebud telepathically commanding me to stop being a huge idiot.

I also reflect on my mother’s mother, who raised more than twice as many kids, most of them fiercely battling girls.  I think about the time I quoted some blowhard comedy character to Grandmother, just because I thought it was a smartass thing to say, and her response: “That’s very macho of you.  And I don’t like it.”  At the time I was butt-hurt, but now I just think that’s fucking awesome.

I’ve been surrounded my whole life by strong women, and most of them I’ve not really thanked for the privilege.  I just took it as read that there were, like, these WOMEN everywhere.  Like trees.  Trees with boobs.  And no one really pays that much attention to trees.  Well, hippies.

Like women, treeboobs are everywhere.

And now here I am, a burlesque host, a friend, nay, a member of the alt-porn community, basically for all intents and purposes a sex worker, a worker in a field that is predominantly female.  I mean, shit, man, empathize or die.  But this again raises questions: there are those who say that sex work, whether it be in porn, burlesque or prostitution, cannot be pro-woman.  From my own limited perspective, I’d call horseshit on that.  The women in these sectors have been the strongest, smartest, most extraordinary people I’ve ever met. I’ve been a friend, a lover, a pupil to these women.  Not all of them, obviously.  There are only so many hours in the day, and I’m not 18 anymore.  The point is, it’s the first time I’ve ever had to justify my presence anywhere.

This was probably the key to my dawning sense of gender actuality.  Rosebud, who has had some terrible experiences with men, told me, “Every man is a potential rapist.  You won’t ever understand what it is to know that.”  And she’s right.  The burden of proof will always be on me.  This isn’t unfair, it’s just a fact.  And I’ve had to do serious thinking about what the point of Bastard Keith is in these settings.

Backstage with a bunch of changing burlesque performers, I’m the one with the immediate potential to be an asshole.  This is their safe place.  Not mine.  I’m usually the one offering to get water for the room, to make sure everything’s running okay out on the floor.  That attitude stretches to the stage.  I’ve seen hosts who make fun of the performers, who make shitty, condescending, belittling, macho remarks that re-orient the show to be about THEM and not the women and men who are doing the real work of the night.  I can’t do that.  I’m in love with these performers, and I need the audience to feel that love, to be respectful of their art and their boundaries.  If they aren’t safe, the show isn’t fun.


That’s what I didn’t get for so many years.  My entire notion of feminism was processed through this idea that I was a card-carrying pro-woman liberal guy.  It’s only recently, as a sex worker, as an MC, as a submissive man, that I’ve learned about the negation of the philosophical male self.  When I take my maleness out of an equation, I can see it more clearly.  I’m not that great at it.  I’m still trying.

Another side note: It’s one reason that so much porn leaves me cold.  Well, there are a couple of reasons.  One is that, honestly, just watching people fuck is kind of dull.  I see myself and Rosebud fuck all the time (though less so in our current chastity experiment).  It’s not the fucking, but the TENSION that does it for me.  It’s why so much of the material, while undeniably well-produced, is just brutally exhausting to me.  The other reason, the one I was talking about, is that, while I respect the agency of the women involved in making it, this porn, like so much, is shot through the undeniable filter of the male gaze.  That saps it of pleasure for me.  For some wonderful, female-oriented Femdom porn, check out  It’s decently produced and the product of Eleise De Lacy’s sensibility and vision.  It’s also as hot as hell, the first porn I’ve enjoyed watching with someone (Rosebud is in love with Mistress Eleise).

A frosty Nordic blonde in a business meeting.

It’s my job, as a husband, as a sub, as a male sex worker, as an artist, to get over myself.  If you’re a man reading this, I’m not saying to put women on a pedestal.  I’m saying to see them without YOU.  Just try.  That’s the gateway to beginning to understand being a pro-woman male.

No revolution succeeds that is without a sexual revolution.  To loop this ramble back to where we began, the reason so many men fight against women having reproductive rights isn’t because they’re evil.  It’s because they’re threatened when a woman lives a life that doesn’t revolve around reproductive sex and domestic service.  A life, in short, lived for a woman and not for a man.

I’m a smut peddler who loves women.

Keep trying to lose yourself.


Bastard Keith

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Really, Guy?, Volume 2

And now for Volume 2 of Really, Guy?, my weekly column of utter disbelief.  This week we’ll be featuring the words of Glenn Beck.  If you don’t know his work, he’s a fat, sexless scrote-elf who yammers about Socialism (he’s against it), Communism (does not like it), Progressives (basically Nazis), God (the only real answer), America (GR8ST CUNTRY IN THE WURLD EVR) and gold (I still don’t really get his hard-on for gold) for a credulous audience of millions.

He’s also one of those hardcore conservatives who thinks that the merest criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic and un-American.  Speaking as someone who was raised Jewish, the difference between Judaism and Zionism needs to be better articulated; I think the Jews deserve Israel, and I think the Palestinians are getting roundly fucked by the Israelis.

Today, however, he’s upset about the US aiding rebels in the Libya.  Because that’s an affront to Israel, apparently.  Watch:

I’ll just give you about a half hour to parse that, since, if you’ve never been lucky enough to experience the incoherent gurglings of Baby Beck, it can be a bewildering listen.

I, personally, do not have a coherent opinion on Libya.  Like many people, I think that Gaddafi is a tyrant, that the Libyan opposition is in the right, and that without assistance the rebels will get the dogshit kicked out of them.  On the other hand, like most liberals, I am VERY reluctant to cheer on another military intervention in the Middle East.  No one wants another Rwanda.  No one wants another Afghanistan.

Especially not Hot Fetish Blonde.

"I do NOT want another Rwanda, or another Afghanistan. Is that clear, bitch?"

Like I said.

I think the wave of insurgencies across the Middle East is an encouraging sign that a region stuck between the distant past and the problematic present is finally looking to modernize.  Basically, all that shit we’ve been trying to do in Iraq?  Sisters are doing it for themselves.

Quick sidenote: Women are still treated like shit in much of the Middle East.  I was referring to the rebels as sisters because it amused me to do so, and because it sounded a little gay.  Gayness + Middle Eastern Insurgency = Comedy Gold.  Except that they treat gays like shit, too.  Maybe I’ll go back and edit that, but probably not.  You just read all this!  Have a sandwich, fucko!

What Beck is saying is that we’re empowering the enemies of Israel, that the merest attempt to halt the massacre of a few thousand Libyans by an oppressive regime is spitting in the face of our greatest ally in the region.

This seems to me a colossal act of point-missing.  Is it not possible that with democracy replacing tyranny there will be, as so many rap-type artists have begged, “Peace in the Middle East?”  That perhaps the anti-Semitism of so many countries in the region might be a little eased when their leaders don’t pump “Jews are responsible for all of your troubles” into the state press every day?

I mean, fuck it, who knows, it might be a total disaster, and once new governments have been implemented there might be a decision to REALLY stir shit up.  We just don’t know.  But isn’t a world without a Mubarak or a Gaddafi or an Ahmadinejad in power automatically a better place?

And look, not to dissect the ramblings of a retarded goat-boy or anything, but is it really fair to say that to support Libyan rebels is somehow anti-Israeli?  That’s like saying saving a racist from being hit by a truck makes you a Klansman.  Israel may be many things, but it is not an unambiguous force for good.  America’s conservative hard-on for Israel (which, by the way, derives not from liking Jews but largely from the evangelical Christian belief that Israel will play a pivotal role in the Second Coming) is what’s stopping our center-right government from taking an adult tone regarding their treatment of Palestine.

I’ll say it clearly so that no bloated, paranoid shit-monkey accuses me of calling Israel evil: Israel is a functional Middle-Eastern democracy that has done great things, given a home to a homeless people and should exist forever.  And it wouldn’t kill them to give a little ground to the Palestinians.  Hell, it might show the rest of the Middle East that Israel isn’t the root of all evil.  Sweet, cuddly Israel.

"Here, Palestine. I brought you a kitten and some settlements."

But no, Glenn Beck thinks that stopping the death of thousands means we’re turning our back on Israel.  He thinks that because he’s a simpleton, and he says it on air because he thinks that Real America is made up of simpletons, too.

Fuck you, Glenn Beck.  And I leave you with our Really, Guy? mascot to play us off.


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So I had this amazingly stupid idea that was also AMAZINGLY AMAZING

Obviously practical; thanks, Victorians!

Thus begins a new chapter in the ongoing saga of savage weirdness and perversion that is my life.  I, Bastard Keith, am submitting to a period, yet undefined, of chastity, to be supervised by my beloved wife and keeper, Madame Rosebud.  It took me considerable thought to actually post about this before I realized that most people who know me know that this is exactly the sort of thing I would do.  Testing the waters, I made a twitter remark referring to my situation that I thought was rather cryptic.  I was then barraged with responses along the lines of, “So your johnson’s locked up, huh?”

Apparently I am not as subtle about my fetishes as I like to imagine.

So, why chastity?  Apart from getting to wear something WAY FUCKING STYLING?

This is made from the same material as Wolverine's exoskeleton. Okay, Adamantium. That's what it's called. Shut up, nerd.

Well, a couple of reasons.  First of all, confinement is hot.  It’s just way fucking ridiculously hot to be confined by your lover.  I’ve experimented with various other forms of bondage (does it really count as an experiment, though, if the only conclusion you draw is that it spikes your jock?), but this one seemed to me the most primal, the most basic.  Is there any form of control more intimate and more direct than control over your actual sexual organs?  If you like being tied up, disempowered, divested of control, is there anything else quite so elegant and effective and illustrative?
Second of all, I’ve fantasized about it forever.  Simple as that.  The notion of a beautiful woman holding the key to my sexual freedom is just pure porn.
Third of all, honestly, I’ve been struggling with how best to focus and direct my submissive energies.  Rosebud and I only came to this arrangement relatively late in our relationship, despite knowing of and sharing these urges.  I’m turning 32 this year, and I was genuinely worried that I’d entered the Old Dog phase (not the movie with John Travolta and Robin Williams, that’s Old Dogs and it should never be spoken of), past the very possibility of learning new tricks.

I smell all the time, cannot control my bowels and resent fetching anything. Please euthanize me.

Confronting failure in your 30s, whether it’s professional, personal, psychological or sexual is frightening.  All men fear failure, because failure is humiliating and indicative of a certain impotence, whether literal or figurative.  We’re not all Masters of the Universe, of course, but that isn’t the point.  My brother, a massively successful chef, is not “famous” per se, but he makes a tremendous living, supports a wife and child, is recognized by his peers as a genius and is in demand the world over for his artistry.  You may never have heard his name.  He told me, when I said that success in my field demanded a certain fame, “Fame isn’t success.  If you’re making a living doing what you love, then that’s success.  Don’t get the two scrambled or you’ll drive yourself crazy.”
I’m doing rather well in my chosen field and I think my growth as a human, as an artist, as a man has been one of my happiest successes.  Still, I was having trouble finding the right expression for my submissive urges.  It’s all very well and good to fantasize, to play for fun even, but to make submission a serious part of your life is fucking difficult.  Largely because life isn’t porn (though mine does come wonderfully close at times).  Also because, well, I’m selfish.  And there’s a part of most men that feels entitled to what they want when they want it.  It’s exactly what I’ve spent my life raging against, an attitude grown in a system that is essentially misogynous, but one must be honest with one’s self.  I can be a huge brat, and I can be sulky when I don’t get to indulge myself to a proper degree.
Not very subby of me.
After months of attempting this D and S framework, I was floundering, and I was grinding my brain to bits at my own failure.  Why couldn’t I just get over myself and SERVE?
I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me before now.
Before we go on, I know this has been a considerably more humorous blog prior to this, and more concerned with the technicalities of intimacy than with its emotional goings-on.  Here’s where I would usually put a HILARIOUS picture and caption to let you know that really, this is all a tap dance meant to amuse you.
Anyway, back to vulnerability and the possibility of losing readers.
We’d spoken of chastity before, I owned a CB6000 (for the layman, a remarkably well-put-
together plastic chastity device that is easily hidden under normal clothes), and the only thing keeping me from actually going through with it was, well, cowardice.

Look upon me and despair, for I am CB6000, destroyer of worlds. I think that's Chinese writing there. Nice.

Fuck cowardice.  Fuck it in its puckered, trembling rabbit anus.
I’ve had it on for 3 days now, and the results have been fairly astonishing.  Most immediately, there’s the rekindling of a “we just met a couple nights ago and NEED TO BONE” variety of lust.  There’s also the fact that Rosebud finds the device unspeakably hot.  She likes to knock on it.  She likes to kiss it.  She likes to blow on it.
And this is where the awesomeness of it intermingles with ASTONISHING AGONY.  I’m basically turned on all the time.  ALL OF THE TIME.  I want sex now to the power of fucking seriously in a way that I haven’t since I first discovered that getting drunk and saying something clever would get me laid.  I’ve always had a pretty healthy sex drive, but nothing speeds restoration like deprivation.  As you may have guessed, a hard wang, unless it’s comically tiny, will not fit comfortably in a CB6000.  I’m no Liam Neeson but  I get by, and I’m trapped in this feedback cycle that goes something like this:
I want to fuck, but I’m locked up.
Wait, that’s hot!  Getting an erection.
But that kind of bondage is ALSO HOT!
Please ice my balls and shoot me in the face.
Wait, don’t stop!  WHY WOULD YOU STOP?!
I was going to write a haiku, but I couldn’t figure out how to work in a mention of the season.  That’s technically what you’re supposed to do.
But here’s the part that’s wonderful: I’m considerably more positive these days.  I’ve been eager to help around the house, obliging with Rosebud’s needs and getting better at all the basics.  I view the opportunity to serve and please her as a privilege.  My attitude is as sunny as can be.  I’m not behaving well to convince her to let me out, I’m kind of just…enjoying behaving well.  This is exactly the kind of Good Samaritan shit that I was supposed to learn as a kid.  I’m kind of trying to court her again.
So what do we know?
1. Bondage is awesome.
2. My wife has a sexy mouth.
3. Chastity reframes the male sexual urge into something resembling old fashioned courtship.
4. My cock is too big.
5. I didn’t mention this, but sleeping in it is difficult.
6. Watching Sucker Punch in my CB6000 was FUCKING NIGHTMARISH.
Anyway…there will be more on this subject to come, hopefully more humorous and less…well…no, fuck it, no apologies.  This is my blog and you can read it or not.
Any comments, suggestions, pertinent personal reminiscences are welcome.
Okay, here’s a sexy picture.

I actually masturbated to this picture at age 13.

Talk to me.

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Why Sucker Punch Will Save Us All

“I’ve been waiting 2 c a movie like SuckerPunch my whole life.”

- Madame Rosebud’s Twitter

Sucker Punch: A Film by Merchant Ivory

Director Zack Snyder has so polarized his viewers, pitting those who adore his cinema du right-this-moment and supernatural genius for imagery against a growing throng who detest his style-style-style approach to storytelling, that seeing his latest work is a mere formality.  Sucker Punch, a wild, unclassifiable 109-minute trip crammed tight with dragons, zombies, robots, hot chicks in fetish garb and about five million other things, is not going to be the work that finally convinces the haters that they’ve been in the wrong all along.  It is, instead, Snyder’s ultimate statement of intent, his eardrum-blasting, eye-melting, jaw-dropping Ulysses.  He’s not trying to make friends; he’s trying to blow your fucking mind.

He’s also revealed himself as one of the only genuinely feminist directors working in the Comic-Con fanboy vernacular.  Sucker Punch is going to save us all, and I’m not kidding.  It’s a call to arms for every young woman who has ever felt powerless in a world of men, a Dolby Digital battle cry for every girl who can’t relate to the intolerable passivity of Twilight‘s Bella Swan.  Sucker Punch doesn’t have a single scene of its young women agonizing over the affections of this or that petulant hunk.  If a vampire and a werewolf were fighting over a Sucker Punch girl, that girl would machine-gun them to shreds, rip their hearts out, eat them and stomp on their steaming remains.  And she would look unimaginably hot doing it.


"I love you and I must possess you."

Yet Another Amazing Sucker Punch Poster Hits The Web

"Die, pussy."

But let’s back up for a moment.

For such a divisive director, Snyder’s not been at it very long.  Debuting with a surprisingly effective (if utterly subtext-free) remake of Dawn of the Dead, Snyder blew up with his adaptation of Frank Miller’s 300.  Morally grotesque but aesthetically supercharged, 300 was a massive hit, and it allowed Snyder to more or less write his own ticket.  He cashed in every single cent of his capitol with a mega-budget film of Alan Moore’s Watchmen, and that’s where things get complicated.  To some, Watchmen is a hyped up, ugly bore.  To others (and it should be pretty clear where I fall in this) it’s the JFK of comic book movies, a kaleidoscopic phantasmagoria of pop culture, politics and brutality.  It also made one thing resoundingly clear: Snyder’s as good as his material.  Where 300 preserved with clarity Miller’s romance with hard right wing fascism, Watchmen is every bit as morally complex as its source.  Snyder never tries to make his “heroes” anything but the reactionary vigilantes they are, and the liberal superman who turns out to be the story’s “villain” essentially saves the world.  To the surprise of probably one or two people, a dark vision of a ruined world sprinkled with sex, violence and sexual violence, didn’t do huge business.

doctor manhattan

Giant radioactive blue cocks: not a crowd-pleaser, apparently.

And then there’s the movie about the cartoon owls.

Yeah.  So.

Which brings us back to Snyder’s fifth film, his first not based on pre-existing material.  Even that, though, is a misnomer: Sucker Punch plays like a compendium of every fascination that pop culture nerds have ever held dear.  If you’ve ever seen a 70s album cover or detail work on a van, you’ve probably seen a lot of Sucker Punch.  What’s surprising is what Snyder has decided to do with his images.  He’s taken a half century of typically male fantasy material and made all the men in the story either faceless or impotent.  This is an epic-scale fantasy about a teenage girl.

Many critics have called the storytelling muddled and confusing, but the text is almost ludicrously simple: Babydoll (the hypnotic Emily Browning) is sent to an institution after an attempt to kill her rapist step-father winds up deep-sixing her little sister.  At the exact moment that she is to be lobotomized, burying her dad’s secrets forever, the film jumps into her mind’s eye.  From there, we chart her and her friends’ attempts to escape the institution, represented in her dream as a sort of burlesque brothel where the inmates have to dance for male clients.  Every one of Babydoll’s “dance” sequences takes the film one level further into the dream world, illustrating her quest as hardcore fantasy action.

So basically, it’s like Bob Fosse stuck his dick into an Xbox.  It’s Lola Montes meets Heavy Metal meets Brazil.  It’s Gloria Steinem making an electro-prog concept album with swords.  It’s the New Feminism and it FREAKS ME OUT.

It’s also, bizarrely, the first movie I’ve ever seen that really gets burlesque, the idea that a sexy woman on a stage can hypnotize and weaken the most powerful man in the world, bring time to a standstill and plunge any viewer into a realm of pure fantasy.  That we don’t see the dances is almost beside the point (though apparently, many numbers were shot; this is a rare film where who knows what the director’s cut will look like?).  This is about what actually goes on in the mind of a sex object, a fact that has brought out much of the latent misogyny in fanboy culture.

Browning’s startling lead performance is supported by turns from Jena Malone (heartbreaking), Jamie Chung (SMOKINGLY HOT), Abbie Cornish (playing intensity a little too hard) and Vanessa Hudgens (High School Musical, for fuck’s sake) as fellow inmates.  Supervising them in both fantasy and reality is a Polish therapist, Dr. Gorsky, played by Carla Gugino, who has not only become one of the most reliable actresses currently at work, but a figure of lush, almost comically bodacious sexiness.  She looks like an inappropriately foxy Italian widow, and Snyder gives her scenes of Douglas Sirk-ian melodrama, knowing that little is more captivating onscreen than an outrageously beautiful woman in trouble.


Put this woman in every movie. Thank you.

Almost every man in the film is a grotesque caricature of male privilege.  From Babydoll’s incestuous brute of a step-father (Gerard Plunkett) to the institution’s depraved chef (Malcolm Scott) to the genuinely loathsome man who runs the ward like his own personal candy store, Blue (Oscar Isaac), this is less a rogue’s gallery than a Bosch mural.  The two men who aren’t self-evidently evil are Jon Hamm’s ambivalent lobotomist (he really only has one or two scenes, delicately played) and Scott Glenn’s mystical guide, known as Wiseman.  Glenn’s job is to spout vague platitudes, but he’s wonderfully touching in the role.  Notably, Wiseman may be a father figure, but his main lesson is that the women in this story can’t rely on him.   They have to rely on each other.

Of course, you could also argue that this is mainly, and most prominently, the sort of film in which a bunch of astoundingly hot women gun down a train car full of cyborgs on a distant planet (this does happen).  It’s true that Snyder may be the most imaginative and, importantly, coherent designer of action scenes working in Hollywood right now.  He merges the mad visual abstraction of Japanese manga with the lovingly choreographed combat of classic Hong Kong.  Indeed, every scene in which Babydoll and her co-horts drop into fantasy is so intensely imagined, so richly designed and so viscerally presented that it’s almost exhausting.  This is, on some level, a movie about hot chicks in fetish gear fighting dragons, and every moment they’re doing so is geek kryptonite, the kind of holy-shit spectacle that cinema was invented for.

Actually in the movie. Not just from this one time I was high.

But really, Snyder’s not just plugging a female character into a traditionally male role (as much geek fantasy reductively does): he’s actually talking about what it means to be a female struggling against a male hegemony.  This is a story about a young woman gathering the tools to hold her own and eventually triumph when she’s in a system designed to take her power, about learning to get a sister’s back when she’s in need.

The fantasies on display may be Snyder’s, but his avatar is a brutalized young woman.  The story may be his, but his narrator is an older, wiser female voice.  In the closing moments, Snyder’s dark fairy tale finally gives us a few moments of light and hope.  The nameless narrator, who has spent much time ruminating on who it is that really controls our destinies, finally gives us an answer: “It’s you.”  She isn’t talking to the boys.  It’s sentiments like that which make Sucker Punch the kind of film that I’d be okay with my niece watching.

You know what?  I bet you’ll fucking hate Sucker Punch.  The reviews have been brutal, and even the fanboys have turned on it, many criticizing it for not being sexy enough, for not having a story they can relate to, for not making sense.  Yeah, you’ll probably think it’s a big bunch of bullshit and nonsense, sound and fury signifying nothing.


I’ll bet some girl out there sees it and finally doesn’t feel so alone and powerless anymore.   And I bet she slays a fucking dragon.

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Really, Guy?, Volume One

This marks the introduction of a weekly feature called “Really, Guy?” in which I, Bastard Keith, will highlight stupidity of an aggressive nature. To start? The Good Samaritan Himself, Rush Limbaugh.

Easy target? Sure, but not only because he’s so fat you’d have to fire in the exact opposite direction to miss him. He’s also an easy target because I can’t imagine anyone reading this blog has a single nice thing to say about Rush Limbaugh, unless they’re a closeted GOP Rep who doesn’t know how to use Google and stumbled in by accident while searching for some cock porn. If that’s you, here you go.

Seriously, cock porn.

Now, then, to business. have a listen to Rush at the following link (sorry, video doesn’t seem to embed well here):

This is much less fun than cock porn.

Rush Limbaugh lords over his dirty little Right Wing Talk Radio fiefdom with the noxious, flatulent White Male Outrage that has come to be the standard for all such commentators.  He’s very much the daddy of the form.  If political punditry was a prison (and it kind of is), he’d be the guy with all the cigarettes and cocksuckers in Cell Block Retard.  He earns millions of dollars a year denigrating minorities, women, queers, welfare recipients and drug addicts, so it’s never a surprise when he whips out some new, steaming hot shitdevilry.  This, though, bears unpacking a little bit.  Listen to the whole segment and really think about it.

Limbaugh is, most simply, saying that by taking advice from women, Obama has revealed himself to be a massive pussy (I’d argue that the President’s unwillingness to stand with the Wisconsin public workers in a meaningful way indicates a certain, shall we say, flexibility of constitution, but never mind that).  Limbaugh is also saying that opposing war is a total pussy move.  So here we are, stuck in the middle: to stand with the pussies against war makes you a pussy, and to side with the NAGS who are all for it makes you a double fat-lipped pussy with a cherry on top.  A most amusing paradox

While we continue, just so you don’t get bored, enjoy this picture of a hot Asian dominatrix.

Yay politics!

The story of Obama being pussywhipped is taking hold in the larger media.  A lot of ink has been spilled over Samantha Power, Susan Rice and Hilary Clinton’s influence on America’s involvement in the Libyan situation, most notably by Maureen Dowd.  Dowd, an ace shit-stirrer, declines to really opine on the question of whether Obama’s decision to go into Libya was a capitulation, but she makes it very clear that the decision was motivated “more by impulse and reaction than discipline and rigor.”  In other words, the decision was an “emotional” one.

A “female” one.

So what are we dealing with here? A couple of problematic stereotypes:

1. As per the passage Rush quotes, a lot of people think that if women ran the world, it would be more peaceful.  I assume whoever keeps saying this has no knowledge of Kali.  I believe the world would benefit immensely from female leadership, but I’d never kid myself that war is an essentially male impulse.  It’s a human impulse.  If women did run the world, there would still be wars, just about different stuff.  The notion that women would govern more peacefully is derived far more from an assumption of softness than from an assumption of wisdom.  Fuck that.  Women are smart as hell, but they aren’t immune to belligerence.

2. It’s a widely held notion that women don’t make decisions based on facts and logic, but on “feelings” (as opposed to the decision by Bush’s cabinet to invade Iraq, which was obviously the result of a lot of preparation, research and *mouthfart*).  Again, PEOPLE make decisions based on feelings.  Just because the white hetero male establishment frequently acts out of greed and wrath doesn’t mean that those aren’t feelings.  They’re just shitty ones that hurt people.  The only women who act notably more irrational than men are on Sex and the City.  Man, fuck those broads.

3. “Real men don’t take advice from the womanfolk.”  This is the problematic douche-cream filling of Rush’s whole shitcake.  It’s also another example of why the right wing is really shitty about women.  They love their anti-choice gun nut mommies (and they scream “sexism!” whenever a lefty criticizes them), but when it comes to women on the left?  No vitriol is too extreme, no insult too condescending, no line of bullshit too bullshitty.  The moment a woman steps out on a liberal issue, she is a nag or a bitch or an enemy.

You can’t have it both ways…well…no, apparently conservatives can.

What do we take from all of this?  Well, we take that Obama can’t win with conservatives (nothing new) and that women can’t either.  Don’t like going to war?  Typically feminine POV.  Anxious to bomb someone?  What a nagging cunt, and probably a lesbian.


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Don’t Put Your Dick in a Racist (Not Actually Porn)

"OH HAY GUYZ! I'll see you on Thursday..."


You know, I’m in my thirties now. One of the really amazing benefits of age is that I need increasingly scant reason to do anything. By the time I’m in my 50s, my lack of accountability will be ghastly. I’ll be hurling nail bombs at passing children and calling in to talk radio, and nothing my mother says will be able to stop me. But let’s stay in the now. I don’t need MUCH reason not to fuck a racist.

When I was in my 20s, however, I think I might have needed a little more reason not to fuck a racist. Because I kind of totally did, and it’s been on my mind recently. Of course, we all have this fantasy that sex has no political belief and that if you have sparks with someone, hell, you have sparks. In much the same way that every movie is someone’s favorite, someone has to suck Glenn Beck’s cock some time.

But here’s the thing: just to take one example, have any of the liberals reading this ever really tried to have a sustained sexual partnership with a libertarian?  IT’S IMPOSSIBLE.  IT’S FUCKING ABSOLUTELY IMPOSSIBLE.  First of all, libertarianism is a godawful stupid philosophy.  Hell, it’s barely even a philosophy.  All of the trappings that allow libertarians to live their lives and yell in relative comfort about how they have no need of the government are provided by the government.  It’s not like some magical unicorn swoops in from the sky and shits infrastructure.  Don’t get me wrong, that would be awesome.  But unicorn shit doesn’t fix bridges.  No, libertarians piss and moan about how the government should basically tax them next to nothing and get off of their lawns.

Anyone who gives a shit about the government giving aid to the poor, the oppressed and the shit-out-of-luck can’t possibly hit that ass for more than a few times on the trot.  After a while, their partner’s callous disregard for even the barest civility and defiant, childish delusion that somehow the private sector will take care of the big stuff will wear on them.  They will grow cold, distant.  They will try to ignore that voice in the back of their head that says “You are with a complete tool who shares none of your values.  DITCH THIS PRICK.”

For the record, I prefer libertarians to Tea Party Republicans, largely because libertarians, not by and large a spiritually-driven group, don’t care whose dick is in whose ass as long as it’s not on their lawn.  Though precisely which queers are doing all the lawn-fucking in this little scenario is a mystery to me.

Libertarians: THIS IS YOUR GOD. A shitty novelist with bad teeth and a rape fetish. Kudos.

I may have complicated this unnecessarily.  Suffice it to say, it’s very difficult to be in a relationship with someone whose values system exists at a painful angle to your own.  Case in point: Laura.  The Blonde Racist.

In my defense, the first few times I had sex with Laura, I had no idea she was a racist.  I thought she was just, you know, intense.  A firm, unyielding woman with muscular thighs and a full body tan, Laura was the hard-charging, all-business friend of a cute redhead I was doing my damnedest to talk into bed.  Being 21, my game had not caught up to my ability to sustain an erection, so I wound up doing what most men of class and distinction do when they can’t score with a cute redhead: I fingerblasted her blonde friend.

Laura had a blunt, fruity, inexplicable scent, the kind you can’t really call good or bad.  It was just there, and it became a thing of comfort.  Her face was unmemorable, a pleasant arrangement of exactly what you’d expect to see on a face but without that crucial extra molecule of character. Her voice, similarly, performed all the necessary duties of a voice without ever becoming familiar.  What sticks with me is the rope-like consistency of her hair, her permanently hard nipples, and those fantastic thighs.

Our arrangement: she’d pick me up, we’d go to her place, she’d talk about business, I’d stare at her thighs and we’d fuck around.  She was an animal.  It’s not that the sex was life-changing or even filthy, just that she had absolutely no interest in foreplay, and her sheer physical strength meant that I could either go along with it or risk getting a joint bent backwards.

Being someone who’s always eroticized emasculation, I took an odd pleasure in it, though I distinctly remember spurning her one night and turning over to sleep.  Her words rang with simian confusion: “Uh…so we’re not going to fuck?”

It took every molecule in my body not to respond, “I AM NOT A PIECE OF MEAT.”

I am NOT a piece of meat.

After a few weeks of this joyless, convenient roundelay, we went to see James Toback’s Black and White.  If you don’t know this one, it’s the James Toback movie with  drug use, lots of fucking, and endless scenes of people batting intellectual douche-bombs back and forth.  You know, that one.  Also, it has a shit-ton of Black people in it, and it’s almost exclusively about America’s troubled relationship with race.

I enjoyed it even though, being a James Toback movie, it had no aesthetic and the characters were intolerable.  I mean, it had some sweet, sweet fucking.  So come on, now.  A discussion started in the car on the way back from the theater.  I talked a little about how I thought race was a class issue in America, how Black people have been marginalized and degraded economically and culturally, and how White America has been lazily complicit in the process.

Her response: “Ugh.  I mean, I just can’t stand them.”

“The…the characters, right?  In the movie?  It’s true, they were pretty shrill…”

“No, no.  Black people.”

There followed some silence.  She spoke again.

“I mean, they’re just so entitled.  Like, the way they act is ridiculous, and if you call them on it, they yell about racism.  It’s so aggressive and there’s the music that they play SO LOUD and again, if you’re like, ‘Turn it down!’ they call you a racist.  And then they want jobs, and it’s like, am I supposed to give you a job dressed like that?  I’m not a racist, but PLEASE.”

Before I could say, “No, I’m pretty sure you’re a racist,” a few thoughts came to me.  First, I wondered whether I should ever have sex with this woman again.  Second, I thought that if I did, I might be able to talk her into performing any depraved, fucked up sex act, because racists are essentially gullible and can be talked into anything.  If you can convince someone that, say, Jews have tails, or that Chinese women have sideways vaginas, or that Armenians smell like cabbage, you can probably convince them to get slamfucked at both ends by dildo-wielding leatherdykes while dressed as a member of the Lollipop Guild.

This is what occurs to me at times like that.

Let’s face it, racism at this point has been so mainstreamed that if you really called someone out on it, they’d be shocked.   White America does not know itself, because to know itself would be to grasp White Privilege.  If you pointed out that White people get a free seat at the table, a lot of them would tell you that they just don’t see race.  That maybe you have the problem.  These are usually the same people who don’t mind Brown folk being asked for papers in Arizona, because hey, there are illegal immigrants down there, and if they have nothing to hide, why should it be a problem?  This lazy slide into racism-by-any-other-name is exactly what makes it possible for mainstream political figures to embrace Birtherism.  “If it’s about his birthplace, then obviously it’s not about his race, and can the American left knock it off with this race obsession?  It’s getting embarrassing.  Yes, Julio, the hedges need trimming.  God, they’re affordable, but so lazy. Which reminds me, hide the silver.”

Convenience is the American God, after all, and to interrogate why there’s a White Hetero Male Hegemony in this country is a pain in the ass.  So is growing up.  Someone I know suggested that if Obama could win the presidency, we should end affirmative action.  Because obviously, racism is no longer a factor in American politics.  This person also plays Halo for 6 hour stretches and really enjoys Eli Roth movies.  Let’s not start taking policy tips from that guy just yet.

It took a few minutes of imagining Laura bent into impossible bondage predicaments, with spreader bars, ball-gags, plugs, inflatable plugs, a TENS unit, clothespins and sundry other leisure items before it became clear to me that this just wasn’t going to work.  Every time I imagined her body slumping in post-coital exhaustion, my cum oozing out of multiple orifices, I imagined her saying, “And what is the deal with that Puerto Rican Day Parade?  Do I get to celebrate my culture without being called a RACIST?!”

So long, erection.

There was some arguing on the way back to my place, and I may have weakened my position by insisting that the CIA had destroyed Harlem by selling crack, but that’s passion for you.  When she dropped me off, she was faintly annoyed that she didn’t get a goodnight kiss, but I knew that if I was to ejaculate that night, it was going to be in the warm, cheap embrace of Skinemax, not with this budding Grand Wizard Cheerleader.  Skinemax knew no prejudice, no hate.  Only bad writing with poorly staged fucking every few minutes.

As Muhammad Ali said, “No Shannon Tweed ever called me Nigger.”

Definitely not a racist.

P.S. I am in no way equating libertarianism with racism.  Tea Party Republicans, however, need to make their shit just a little clearer to me.

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