Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Last Minute Ramblings (June 2020 in Hindsight)

It's the last day of June and I'm writing this on the fly.  Laundry is spinning but the words feel stagnant.

It has been a productive and satisfying month on my blogs.  From films to flowers, I celebrated outsiders.  My proudest moment arrived when someone was insulted by my poem ONE QUEER TOWN. 😎 

An interesting thing occurred with my words in June.  A friend read this entire blog, without being committed to an asylum, and compiled what he perceived as my best posts. It's a great little homemade book with some stuff I had forgotten about, which unearthed some buried emotions, good & bad.  Digging into my past was something I had planned to do back in 2018., but that plan fizzled out.  Maybe one day I will resurrect my revolution and put my own spin on a blog compilation. πŸ€” 

On the personal front, the kitten my sister and I found last month is now a part of our family.  Nobody wanted him, so Laszlo is making himself at home and driving Miss Kitty and Orange Baby crazy.  Laszlo is the most rambunctious kitten I've ever been around.  He likes to bite, making his vampire name perfect. 😁

I spent a day with my friend/Dark Excursions muse Jody and her sister.  I hadn't seen them since July 2019.   We had planned to get together in March but COVID-19 cancelled that event.  Businesses are opening up, so now was the right time for us.  Before you ask, social distancing be damned, we hugged each other and dined at the same table, without wearing masks.  It's not like we went to a crowded beach, pool, bar or stadium, so save your collective gasps of disapproval and tongue-clucking for others who commit far more egregious offenses. 

In conclusion, 2020 is half over, but I'm not done yet. 

Oh, the library is scheduled to open next month, but we shall see how that goes. 😏

Thank you for reading or listening to my half-blind words.

Freak Out, 

P.S. One of the funniest things I've ever created...
Hopefully The Collective Eye for July won't be late, but the Archive is open for examination...πŸ‘ 

Thursday, June 25, 2020

freakboy on film: SATURDAY NIGHT AT THE BATHS (1975)

(screenplay by Franklin Khedouri & David Buckley / directed by David Buckley) 

Is this a porno?

I asked myself this when I first saw the DVD cover and read the title.

It was in and around 10 years ago when I received an unexpected box in the mail.  A couple from my Omaha days had performed a bit of spring cleaning on their DVD collection and sent me the purged titles.  They probably figured their freak film-lover was the perfect recipient of mostly LGBT-related films. 

There were a few films I had been wanting to see (ADAM & STEVE, for example, which caused me physical pain despite co-starring Parker Posey) but many of the titles were new to me.  Truthfully, I've passed along some of the DVD's for other friends to enjoy, including a couple of titles that were edited adult films (THE HOLE, for example, started out as an amusing parody of THE RING, but quickly focused on tiddlywinks, or whatever the cool kids are calling it nowadays.).  I kept a handful of the DVD's, including SATURDAY NIGHT AT THE BATHS, which...to my surprise...was NOT a porno!  Though there are a couple of intensely intimate scenes.

SATURDAY NIGHT AT THE BATHS is a slice of-life look at shades of sexuality and what it meant to be queer in a post-Stonewall 1970's New York City.  The film also takes a peek behind the lavender curtain at a bathhouse, the kind of establishment where Bette Midler and Barry Manilow got their starts.  A minimalistic plot and low-key acting gives this film an honest, realistic feel.  

Michael (Robert Aberdeen) is a straight-laced pianist living in New York City with his girlfriend.  Tracy (Ellen Sheppard) is a photographer and encourages Michael when he lands a gig at The Continental Baths, a gay club that is like a discotheque, vaudeville stage and bathhouse rolled into one.  Scotti (Don Scotti) is the manager of The Continental, and opens a different perspective to the straight man.  The question is, what will Michael ultimately see in himself? 

SATURDAY NIGHT AT THE BATHS doesn't give you easy answers, which is one of the reasons I enjoy this film.  The story dares you to draw your own conclusions and take a look at yourself as the three main characters struggle with and celebrate life and love.  There is also plenty of humor, along with some knockout performances at The Continental, for a nice balance with the underlying drama.

In conclusion, I urge you to see this important LGBT film.  It's low-budget, but it's amazing that such a film with frank and honest dialogue concerning homosexuality could be made in 1975.  Especially when you consider how gay characters and themes would be treated in the 1980's.  SATURDAY NIGHT AT THE BATHS is a cinematic record of us being there, being queer and being human...and we still are. 

(As of this writing, SATURDAY NIGHT AT THE BATHS is available to stream on Amazon Prime) 

Thank you for reading or listening to my half-blind words. 

Freak Out, 

P.S.  A different review of a different queer-themed film...
My books & blogs...

Tuesday, June 16, 2020


The following poem is my personal interpretation of what it feels like growing up queer in a small town in the U.S. 


I can't be the only one 
In these dusty streets 
Feeling the way I feel 
Alone in the shadows 
Watching the conservative 
Heterosexual life progress 
Knowing they can  
Never truly understand 
The seperation   
The rejection 
The condemnation 
We have experienced 
Love the alleged sinner 
Hate the so-called sin 
Just an excuse 
For their prejudice 
Their desire 
To change us 
To betray us 
Or worse yet 
To pray for us 
If there is an us 
In this one queer town 


Thank you for reading or listening to my half-blind words. 

Freak Out, 

Thursday, June 11, 2020

channel freakboy: HATERS BACK OFF! (2016-2017)

Miranda (Colleen Ballinger) wants to be famous more than anyone wants anything.  More than her sister Emily (Francesca Reale) wants to be an artist.  More than her Uncle Jim (Steve Little) wants to relive his high school Color Guard days.  More than her mother Bethany (Angela Kinsey) wants to recover from imagined ailments.  More than her neighbor/potential love interest Patrick (Erik Stocklin) wants to be a successful popsicle salesman and professional magician.

The problem is that Miranda suffers from a severe lack of talent.  She truly believes her terrible singing is truly amazing.  It doesn't help that her mother and Uncle Jim have encouraged this erroneous belief all of her life.  Now, with assistance from Uncle Jim and his 5-phase plan, Miranda begins by uploading a video to You Tube, even though this grab for fame may tear her family and friend apart.

I stumbled upon Netflix's HATERS BACK OFF! while searching for the Britcom MIRANDA, starring Miranda Hart.  I was disappointed to not find what I wanted but I ended up seriously enjoying what I found.  My sister and I didn't know what to expect when we sat down to watch the first episode of HATERS BACK OFF!  Honestly, we weren't quite sure what we had just watched when that first episode ended.  All we knew was that we laughed at the craziness surrounding these very different characters. 

I suppose these characters could be seen as unlikable or pathetic.  Sometimes they are and sometimes they are borderline caricatures.  Yet, somehow through hijacking a parade, crashing a funeral, staging a backyard performance of ANNIE, and holding a hospital fashion show, I often felt sympathy and even empathy for these characters.  Yes, I related to them because they live in their own little world, but are still not quite good enough.  

HATERS BACK OFF! is about the ultimate outsiders and I understand because I am one too.  Awkward, weird, occasionally off-putting and never quite succeeding, even with the best of intentions.  Miranda, Patrick, Bethany, Emily and Uncle Jim are my televised people.  Especially when one of them reaches for the sky, fails miserably, but keeps on trying.

In conclusion, my sister and I have watched the entire series three times since 2018.  So, if you want to experience something truly different and feel uncomfortable while laughing, then sit back, stress-eat wieners and enjoy HATERS BACK OFF! on Netflix!   

Thank you for reading or listening to my half-blind words.

Freak Out, 

P.S.  A blogpost from 2016 about my filmic people...
The Collective Eye is open with music & blogs...

Monday, June 8, 2020

The world I want to live in...

This is a screenshot of a photo I took in 2016.

It represents the world I want to live in.

A world where we celebrate our diversity.  

A world where we embrace our similarities. 

A world where humanity finally realizes that we are all in this very short life together. 

May the peaceful protests in the name of George Floyd be the first step into a brave new world of unity. 



I know this world will not instantly appear overnight, but, despite my cynical-pessimistic nature, I believe humanity can be remarkable if we choose to be so.

Thank you for reading or listening to my half-blind words.

Freak Out, 
John L. Harmon 

Saturday, June 6, 2020

freakboy on film: HAIRSPRAY (2007) - The Third Broadway Bound Blogathon Edition

A jazz-hands thank you to Rebecca D. of TAKING UP ROOM https://takinguproom.wordpress.com/ for allowing me to participate in 🎡THE THIRD BROADWAY BOUND BLOGATHON!🎡)


(screenplay by Leslie Dixon / directed by Adam Shankman)

I hate musicals!.

Ok, that's obviously a lie.  However, I can't stand the bloated musicals of the 1960's.  MY FAIR LADY could be used as an instrument of torture and THE SOUND OF MUSIC should've ended with Maria spinning off one of those hills.  

I guess I like offbeat musicals the best.  LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, SWEENY TODD, CANNIBAL THE MUSICAL, to name a few.  Does HAIRSPRAY follow in the same offbeat path?  Well, let's find out.

I love-love-love John Waters' 1988 film about racial integration and dancing.  So, when I heard there was going to be a Broadway musical, I thought...NO!  I listened to the Original Broadway Cast album and it didn't do a thing for me (and still doesn't.). Then I heard about a film version of the Broadway musical and I thought...Interesting. 

The casting caught my attention.  The idea of John Travolta and Christopher Walken as Edna & Wilbur Turnblad blew my mind!  Then hearing that Queen Latifah would be stepping into the shoes of Motormouth Maybelle made me eager to see this musical.  Oh, and I adored the idea of Michelle Pfeiffer as Velma Von Tussle because, with John Travolta, there would be a GREASE/GREASE 2 connection. 

I actually went to the theater in my small Nebraska town to see HAIRSPRAY.  It was me and a few women of a certain age in the audience.  The story basically follows John Waters' original film, with a few detours and changes.  It's the early 1960's and Tracy Turnblad (a jubilant Nikki Blonsky) dreams of dancing on The Corny Collins Show, a local Baltimore teen dance program.  When this dream comes true, Tracy fights for the love of teen-dancing-heartthrob Link (a bland Zac Efron), dances for the acceptance of full figured women and protests for integrated dancing on the show.  Along for this worthy revolution is Tracy's sheltered friend Penny (a quirky Amanda Bynes) and Motormouth Maybelle's son Seaweed (an energized Elijah Kelley).

The adults in the film appear to be having a good time.  John Travolta and Christopher Walken as Tracy's parents have a nice chemistry, though they will never replace Divine and Jerry Stiller in the original film.  Queen Latifah takes Motormouth Maybelle and makes the character her own and gets to belt out a few good tunes, which is what she does best.  Michelle Pfeiffer is fine as Velma Von Tussle since the character was vamped up for the musical.  I must add that Allison Janney is wasted as Penny's obsessive mother an James Marsden does a serviceable job as Corny Collins.  (Was John Barrowman busy with TORCHWOOD at the time?   He would've made a perfect Corny!)

While I'm disappointed that the title song from the original film is not included, there are some catchy songs.  (Why I enjoy the film versions but not the Broadway versions is still beyond me.). Anyhoo, I dare you to not join Tracy as she giddily sings Good Morning, Baltimore, a song introducing her dancing dream.   It's impossible to refrain from dancing to the joyous rhythm of Seaweed's Run and Tell That, an anthem of strength and solidarity in the black community. The exuberantly fun Without Love is a celebration of the love between Tracy & Link and Seaweed & Penny.  Last, but not least, is the infectiously hopeful grand finale You Can't Stop the Beat, a pop-infused tribute to the changing times of the 1960's.  It's too bad life isn't a musical, where the multiple divides in humanity could be easily bridged with an upbeat song and groovy dancing.  

Which sort of brings me to my complaint about this version of HAIRSPRAY.  The overall feel lacks the sharp edge of John Waters' crossover hit.  It's a watered down (pun intended) sanitized, Hollywood version.  Which is pretty much what I expected as I took my seat in the theater.  Still, even with this, I enjoyed the celebration of diversity and outsiders singing and dancing across the screen.  That celebration is what drew me to the original film in the first place and made me a life-long John Waters fan. 

As I left the theater, I overheard a couple of the women of a certain age remark how they thought the movie was going to be about a beauty parlor.  I couldn't help but chuckle and wonder if they would research and find the original, which might ultimately lead them to PINK FLAMINGOS.  That thought made me more than chuckle. 

In conclusion, HAIRSPRAY (2007) isn't as offbeat as it wants to be but it contains some great songs and an interesting cast.  In a lot of ways, the story was built for a Broadway and film musical.  So embrace your inner hair-hopper and watch this film with a beat you can dance to...and then find the non-musical original for a truly offbeat good time! 

Thank you for reading or listening to my half-blind words.

Freak Out, 

P.S.  If either version of HAIRSPRAY is all you know of John Waters, then you may not want to read or listen to my review of MONDO TRASHO...

The Collective Eye is open with music & blogs...