Banality Over Broadway

Sylvester Stallone at the Broadway premiere of “Rocky: The Musical”
Sylvester Stallone, who leapt to overnight fame and artistic renown by writing and starring in the 1976 film classic Rocky and has proven himself to be a one-note hack by cranking out rip-off after tiresome rip-off of Rocky ever since. Mr. Stallone's latest rehashing of the Robert Balboa saga is Broadway's Rocky: The Musical, which is currently in residence at Broadway's Winter Garden Theatre to lackluster business and terrible reviews. He is far from the first Hollywood transplant to try and breathe life into his fading career by resurrecting an early film success as a musical on the Great White Way; Woody Allen adapted his film Bullets Over Broadway into a Broadway musical which opened at about the same time (to lackluster business and terrible reviews), but at least Mr. Allen has had a long career in the theatre (dating back to the 1960 musical revue From A to Z) and the source material even has "Broadway" in the title, so it seemed like a reasonable idea. Mr. Stallone's project seemed less promising considering that he has zero stage experience and the source material has a rock in the title. True, Mr. Stallone's most recent testament to artistic shoddiness is co-authored by Tony Award-winner Thomas Meehan, who collaborated with Mel Brooks on a more creditable (if overrated) retread of a past movie success with The Producers. But the New York Times summed up Rocky: The Musical by reporting that (aside from its exciting climactic boxing match) "this sluggish show's sensibility isn't just underdog; it's hangdog." At least Mr. Stallone had the good sense of recasting the title character with Andy Karl (who has received mostly positive notices for a thankless task) rather than attempting to recreate the part himself. Anyone who has heard him sing in the movie musical Rhinestone knows that airline vomit bags would have to be issued with each ticket if he hadn't. But even without Mr. Stallone's talents in the title role, his stage version of Rocky is yet another indication that the Broadway musical is on the ropes and may soon suffer a knockout that will kill it off for good. I only hope it does before we see Rambo: The Musical. The idea of listening to a soulful ballad titled Do We Get to Win This Time? makes me want to reach for an airline vomit bag.

James Franco's tweet in
response to Ben Brantley's
review of “Of Mice and Men”
Speaking of the Great White Way, James Franco, who responded to an indifferent review by New York Times critic Ben Brantley towards his Broadway debut in a revival of Of Mice and Men by tweeting that Mr. Brantley was "a little bitch" and that he should be working for instead of the newspaper of record. I'm not a fan of Mr. Franco's art but I had read the review before his tweet and thought that it was a fairly even-handed piece, praising the staging's "meticulously designed production" but finding the over-familiar story of George and his dim-witted companion Lenny to have lost impact in the 75 years since it was written. Mr. Brantley did have a less than stellar opinion of Mr. Franco's work ("Though he sports a Yosemite Sam accent, Mr. Franco is often understated to the point of near invisibility") and had higher praise for the performance of a dog in the first act, but that's the risk you take by going onstage. A critic once described my performance as Claudio in Measure for Measure many years ago as "a dreary monotone." Sure, it hurt at the time, but you didn't see me making public personal attacks against the guy who wrote it. That would have made everybody think of me as a little bitch.

Enemies List favorite Mara Marini, who posted this photograph on the social network of herself baking a wholesome batch of chocolate chip cookies. I have taken a lot of shit from Ms. Marini over the years, what with her being a gorgeous temptress who responds to my worshipping at her perfect feet with restraining orders and an open repulsion which only those of us most seasoned in the cat-and-mouse game of romantic byplay recognize as purposefully fanning the flames of my desire. But now that she's telling me that she can cook in addition to all her other charms, I'm ready to throw in the towel and cast my attentions towards a more realistically attainable woman, like the Venus de Milo or Jessica Rabbit. Women like Ms. Marini don't cook. They have their downtrodden upstairs maid (who is usually on the receiving end of one of her stiletto pumps, thrown after a frequent display of the maid's incompetence) run out to Nobu for sushi and they'd better be back damned quick or else they'll be greeted by a stiletto pump hurled at their forehead again. Now that I've found out that in addition to everything else that she bakes cookies, neither my brain nor my penis (my last two functioning organs) can process it and I must finally admit that Ms. Marini is not of this world. Fortunately for her, my teenage years of watching Star Trek have caused me to develop a fetish for extraterrestrial woman, and I have come to consider chocolate chip cookies as being an aphrodisiac. The game is back on.

Jonny Award winner Jesse Merlin, who reported to my operatives (some of whom are gangsta-rap aficionados) that rapper Christ Bearer cut off his own penis before jumping out of the window of his second story apartment. No motive was given but Mr. Merlin was quick to speculate "I'm not saying it was drugs, but... it was drugs."I'm not so sure. I've never taken any major illegal substances myself, but I'm under the impression that the idea behind doing drugs is that they make you feel like you were in some kind of physically or mentally enhanced state, even though the kick they provide could be at great risk to the user's health or psychology. I can't imagine anyone saying "I feel fantastic after injecting that poison into my veins! So much so that I think that I'll cut off my own junk!"I think it far more likely that Mr. Bearer was so distraught over the absence of drugs that he opted to slice off his own wang just for something to do (and anyone who has spent a Thanksgiving with my family can relate to that level of boredom). But I have lived a far more sheltered life than Mr. Merlin so it's entirely possible that he is familiar with some pharmaceutical used by the scum and muck of humanity that he associates with that makes them want to hack off their own genitalia. At least it can't be that addictive because you can only do it once unless you keep reattaching your schlong with airplane glue every time you want to get your buzz on. Just be sure to be in a well-ventilated room when you do. You wouldn't want the fumes of the glue to impair your judgment and make you do something stupid.

Bro Joe, who was beside himself with excitement over this week's "blood moon," a lunar eclipse in which the moon is completely covered by the earth's umbral shadow. "I told everyone to go see the moon," reported Joe, "and then I ended up on a nine mile hike to go see it myself, getting home at 4:45 in the morning. It was cool!" Some might seem puzzled at his need to trek nine miles in the dead of night to witness something that is normally accessible to the naked eye as the moon, but such nocturnal wanderings are nothing new for Joe. The truth be told, I'm happy that Joe walked for such a long time in the wee hours with an objective as attainable as the moon, since he normally squanders the period most people reserve for sleep by searching for something harder to get his hands on, like a pink elephant or a leprechaun's pot o' gold. True, we're talking about the moon here, which most people can see in the nocturnal hours just by tilting their head at a 30 angle. But if you add the additional stumbling block of drinking a bottle and a half of brown liquor like Joe always starts his night with, you'll also find yourself staggering through the streets for nine miles before you finally look up to see a stop light and process it in your whiskey-soaked temporal lobe as the blood moon so that you can finally fall asleep in the gutter (which Joe cozily refers to as "home"). And that's cool.