Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

29 July 2012

The Man with the Golden...

Has anyone noticed the gay subtext in The Man with the Golden Arm? Surely essays must've been written about this before.

Frank Sinatra is a drug-addicted poker dealer, but the way director Otto Preminger frames the drug use in the film is always in this erotic way. For one, the dope dealer always injects the heroin for Frank, and this means that they're A) always doing drugs together and B) that they're in a small room with the shades pulled. It's all very erotic. And because the dealer is trying to get Frank hooked again, he keeps saying things like "I'll be waiting" and "Just come up to my place" and "You know you want it." It's exactly like an affair.

So late in the film, Frank is dying for a fix, and he barges in on the dealer (played by Darren McGavin) and because I'm all into this subtext, I'm chuckling to myself about how sexy the whole thing is.

McGavin and Sinatra have just come back from some card game that lasted like twenty-eight hours or something, and McGavin is tired and undressing in the room, while Frank, going totally out of his mind for the fix, is rolling up his sleeves. At the same time, McGavin (who is obviously the villain in this film) is gloating, saying things like "oh, wow, it wears off quickly for you now," and "we'll have to try something new" or something to that effect.

And I'm thinking, all that needs to happen now is for McGavin to take his shirt off and Frank to promise him sex. And then:

I mean, the drugs are not really a metaphor for homosexual sex in The Man with the Golden Arm as much as they are the same thing as homosexual sex.

And as soon as Darren McGavin is out of the picture (permanently) Frank is able to kick his drug habit. He wasn't a sucker for the drugs so much as he was a sucker for what McGavin had to offer.

Someone else has to have written about this.

Incidentally, you can watch this movie in its entirety for free online, but you should start with the totally awesome opening credits sequence by Saul Bass:

And check out the entirety of the all-jazz score here if you have Spotify.

28 July 2012

Love Poem

My friend Michael shared this on tumblr a few weeks ago and I haven't been able to loosen its grip on me, so I thought I would (re)share it on here.

by Linda Pastan

I want to write you
a love poem as headlong
as our creek
after thaw
when we stand
on its dangerous
banks and watch it carry
with it every twig
every dry leaf and branch
in its path
every scruple
when we see it
so swollen
with runoff
that even as we watch
we must grab
each other
and step back
we must grab each
other or
get our shoes
soaked we must
grab each other


Sorry I haven't blogged in a while. I am trying to keep this head above water in whatever way possible. Soon.

08 July 2012

Tyrannosaur's Wrecks

Sometimes it doesn't matter how well a movie is made, or how much a movie impresses me.

I thought Paddy Considine's Tyrannosaur was unsparing, beautifully shot, excellently acted, skillfully directed, timely, fascinating, and surprising, as well as sensitive, intelligent, and very, very sad.

Which doesn't really mean that I liked it. Yes, it is all of those things, and actually, I did like it, but it's the sort of bleak movie that doesn't let a person go after it's over. I might even feel a little depressed by Tyrannosaur. And, honestly, the film is not totally without hope, so I am not sure why I am finding so affecting.

Maybe it's that I've been watching so many war-effort films from the 1940s and so I wasn't really prepared for the brutality of a film about today, or maybe it's that I read a disturbing play today and just couldn't handle so much violence in one twenty-four-hour period. I'm not sure. But no matter what it is that's making me so sensitive today, I appreciated Tyrannosaur, but I don't think I'll be recommending it to anyone I know. It's a serious film, with some great performances, but it packs a real wallop, so enter with care.

But that poster! Can we talk about that? It's fantastic!!

06 July 2012

Seneca on Anger

Instead of writing this article about pornography that I'm supposed to be writing, and instead of editing my dissertation (which I kind of need to do), I felt like reading Senecan philosophy. There's a series out by the University of Chicago Press that proposes to publish the Complete Works of Seneca in new, exciting translations, and I couldn't help but buy myself the volume Anger, Mercy, Revenge, which, as it happens, is pretty much ancient Roman violence theory. What a delight! Seneca, the famous Stoic philosopher, relates wisdom such as:

Missiles rebound from a hard surface, and solid objects, when struck, cause pain to the one striking them; just so, injury cannot cause a great spirit to feel it, because it is more fragile than the thing it attacks. How much finer it is to rebuff all injuries and insults, as though impervious to any missile! To take vengeance is to acknowledge pain: a great spirit is not bowed down by a wrong. The one who has harmed you is either stronger or weaker than you: if he's weaker, give him a break; if he's stronger, give yourself a break.

Later, he relates this story:

When Plato was angry with his slave, he couldn't get himself to grant a delay but ordered the slave to doff his tunic and offer his back for lashes, which he intended to administer with his own hand. After he realized he was angry, just as he raised his hand, he kept it raised in midair and stood there like someone poised to strike; then when a friend who happened on the scene asked him what he was doing, he said, "I'm punishing an angry man." Like someone paralyzed, he maintained the pose—grotesque for a wise man—of someone on the verge of savagery, having now forgotten the slave because he'd found another more deserving of rebuke.

Seneca's writings are filled with these tiny wise tales, and much sound philosophy. Reading him is also giving me a much fuller picture of what this ancient playwright was like – his plays are brutal grotesqueries, though his philosophy is restrained and generous. Such a complicated man deserves a much more full reading than what I have known up until now about his work.

Spillin' Tea

The title of this blog (tea to pour) comes from slang for sharing gossip. Among gay Southerners, pouring tea means dishing the dirt or telling tales about other people. Sometimes a bit of good gossip is described as hot, as in:

Girl, this tea is hot, you better sit down.

And sometimes people who can't keep their mouths shut when they ought to know better are referred to as spilling, as in:

That old queen was spilling the tea all over until I dragged her onto the lanai and told her to shut it.

All of this as a (gay) prelude to this song, in which tea gets two shouts-out if you're listening. I know I don't normally post music (because, frankly, I am never up to date), but this is just too good.