Map Of The Stars: First Constellation



Suggested Audio Jukebox ♫


[1] Coldplay “A Sky Full of Stars”

[2] Elvis Presley “A Little Less Conversation”

[3] Marilyn Monroe “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend”

[4] Miklós Rózsa “Parade Of The Charioteers”

[5] Adam Lambert “A Loaded Smile”

[6] Kansas “Carry On Wayward Son”

[7] Gary Portnoy “Where Everybody Knows Your Name”



I’m always on the lookout for inspiration when pondering any fresh venture and it can come from the most peculiar of locales. However, sometimes it just comes down to plain old-fashioned optical seduction. Given that sourcing top-notch visuals plays such a fundamental part in providing the full Keeper experience, the law of averages suggest that I’ll stumble across the odd nugget of stimulation from time to time and that is precisely what has occurred here. Who would have thought that I’d have Christopher Lambert to thank for this, my latest brainchild? Hardly the most charismatic of actors, it was indeed he who led me to water and I just can’t resist grabbing myself a dash of refreshment while I’m here. You see, by entering his name into my search bar, I was promptly supplied with a smorgasbord of rather amusing caricatures and I knew that I simply couldn’t allow an opportunity like this pass as it was positively gift-wrapped. After putting two and two together and reminding myself that I’m a veteran of film, it appeared the absolute epitome of no-brainer.


Let’s not get this twisted, I have no great burning desire to ridicule the rich and famous, and many of the “stars” selected for my red carpet are amongst my personal cinematic heroes. That said, a caricature is a caricature, and not obliged to reveal one’s best side after all. There will be no real rhyme or reason as I lumber from one celebrity to the next as the possibilities here are way too infinite to catalogue and segregate. Thus, anyone who has taken the time to forge a career in movies is fair game and I’m more than within my rights to throw in the occasional swerve ball, just to spice up the dish some. Moreover, should you feel the urge to offer up your own suggestions then feel free to donate any names into the comments section at the foot of the page and I shall endeavor to shed some light in the name of team spirit. This one could have legs Grueheads, my pickle has already been tickled at the mere consideration of the voyage we are about to embark on. Time to boost those rocket packs and get ourselves in amongst our opening constellation methinks.


Ladies I apologize in advance as I have a confession to make and it should come as pretty much no revelation whatsoever by this point when I reveal my starting beacon. Minds out of the gutter but not that far mind as it was inevitable that we would kick off with a female member of the species. Anything else just wouldn’t be Keeper although I have every intention of upholding good taste for as long as is feasible and shall delve deeper than mere skin when honoring the magnificent magenta marvel that was, and forever will be, Marilyn Monroe. Too often typecast as “dumb blonde”, Monroe struggled to shed this image right up to her tragic death in 1962. However, during her time beneath the lime light, she became the top-billed actress in cinema, with her films grossing over $200 million at the box-office. Attitudes were changing and her success was emblematic of this swing in fortunes. Indeed, she is just as humongous a culture icon even now, over half a century after her light ultimately dimmed. You want star power? Then she’ll be only too happy to blow you a kiss.


It is here that I must come clean as I happen to suffer from a mild phobia of watching any film released before I plopped onto the gurney. Don’t ask me why, I suspect it has something to do with the fact that everything seemed so “quaint” back then. With the exception of a handful of pre-Woodstock horror movies and clutch of timeless Technicolor classics, I’ve barely donated a cursory glance to many of the most monumental motion pictures in history. This stretched as far back as poor Marilyn and I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was doing the old girl something of an injustice by now quenching myself on her succulent fruit. Desperate to right this most heinous of wrongs, I pledged a three-pronged commitment to inviting the blonde bombshell to my frontal lobe for ripened cherries, infinite hard bodied sex, and perhaps just a smidgen more conversation, time allowing. The trifecta comprised The Seven Year Itch, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, and How to Marry a Millionaire and she had me at the very first playful wink.


How utterly delightful this experience proved to be and never before have I been so tickled pink to wear a splurge of egg yolk right across my stupid grinning face as I am right now. As projected, a fair old part of me desired only to bend her over the nearest three-seater sofa and gift her something to really get her itching, but something totally unprecedented played out also. I fell headlong into her radiant glow and remained there wide-eyed for the best part sniffing about her painted toes with tongue at full stretch for five hours as I drank this trio of glorious movies in and gargled them gleefully. I’ve never professed to being the alpha of males and have no problem with stating Clueless as one of my all-time favorite rainy day flicks and Pretty in Pink as my personal darling John Hughes feature so the skin is fitting rather snugly thank you very much and unruly testosterone won’t tamper with my reason dagnabbit. Damn this Los Angeles born and raised crown jewel sparkles bright and I was powerless to resist each cute little giggle and wiggle.


If Monroe struggled to break free of the dizzy shackles, then she could never be accused of not excelling every last time the lens kissed her dimples. The likes of Jane Russell and Lauren Bacall weren’t without their charms and plentiful they were too, but it was she whose dazzle was most luminous. As for the chump change chaps frantically jousting for her sole affection, they weren’t fit to slather her heel cracks and could count themselves lucky for having a few precious stones in their vault as they had no right to so much as jizz in her foot spa, let alone tap that perky pink tush of hers. Granted, she had a tendency to scheme and I felt for hapless Tom Ewell as seven-years of itching sucks when all you have to scratch the afflicted area with is Ricky’s fucking paddle. However, any vague prick-teasing injustices were instantly forgiven the very moment she fluttered those lashes. While hardly about to embark on a thirty-strong Monroe marathon to brush up any time soon, I’ll be far less inclined to switch channels next time Bus Stop airs and I raise a stem of the finest Moët to the original blonde bombshell. Cheers sweetheart.


If that’s enough to make a grown man shed a tear, then the time is right to suck it up and guzzle a quick quart of the cloudiest man ale, just to remind myself where my testicles dangle. Enter the late, great Charlton Heston, one of the silver screen’s true premier champions. My experience of Heston as leading man previously consisted of the likes of Planet of The Apes, Airport 1975, and The Awakening, not to mention smaller parts in all manner of significant movies through his later years. However, I am ashamed to report that I was unfamiliar with his star-making turn as Judah Ben-Hur until recently. After hanging out with Marilyn, I decided it was high-time I do my homework and, 212 minutes later, felt fully justified in my decision. William Wyler’s Ben-Hur is the kind of epic so lengthy that it sees fit to shoehorn in a poo break at just over the two-hour mark and I was tempted just to excavate my bowel where I sat, such was my full and undivided investment.

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Boasting a budget of over $15 million, a record at the time, the adaptation of Lew Wallace’s 1880 novel went on to amass almost ten times that theatrically, not to mention pocketing Heston the coveted best leading actor Academy Award and an unprecedented eleven Oscars to boot. It’s a classic of biblical proportions and I no longer need hang my head in shame after my eventual baptism. Regrettably his reputation was somewhat tarnished in 2002 after Michael Moore’s documentary Bowling for Columbine pulled no punches when painting a decidedly grim picture of the former military man and political activist. This treatment was even more shameful given that he had already battled with prostate cancer and been recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at the time of his one-sided representation. Whether we agree or disagree with his views on gun laws is irrelevant in my eyes as his legacy in cinema is truly second to none and he should be judged by that first and foremost. And double damn could this fine figure of a man boss a chariot.


With coliseums no longer in vogue, mankind eventually found fresh ways to settle its differences and this meant taking to the battlefield. While Apocalypse Now, Full Metal Jacket, The Guns of Navarone, and Saving Private Ryan all hold special places in my heart, two war movies in particular stand head and shoulders above the competition in my opinion and they are Oliver Stone’s Platoon and Terrence Malick’s masterful The Thin Red Line. Thus I recently revisited both in an attempt at crowning an overall champion. The obvious choice was Platoon and, thirty years later, it’s still just as magnificent a motion picture.


This is largely due to one of the hardest working professionals in Hollywood, Willem Dafoe, and his flawless portrayal of Sgt. Elias, good cop to Tom Berenger’s bad cop, Sgt. Barnes. Sporting a grill of varnished tomb stones that could light up any burial plot, Dafoe has repeatedly astounded me over four decades plying his trade on the silver screen and high points are almost too numerous to tally. Personally however, he had me at William Friedkin’s To Live & Die in L.A. as charismatic crook counterfeiter Eric Masters and I have never once looked back.


While not necessarily conventional leading man material thanks to his vague resemblance to a randy goblin when that toothy grin is at full mast, his mere appearance in films raises the ante with immediate effect. I make no secret of the affection for which I hold Mary Harron’s American Psycho and his short succinct turn as smiling assassin Donald Kimble had me clapping like a seal before Patrick Bateman could so much as order his entrée. Likewise, watching him ham it up as everyone’s favorite Nosferatu Max Schreck in E. Elias Merhige’s Shadow of the Vampire or play it straighter than a spirit level as He in Lars Von Trier’s emotionally jarring Antichrist has provided further joys to behold. As Elias in Platoon, he even manages to make a banana look appealing as he kicks back with the grunts and loads up his rifle with potent THC just for shits and those all-important grins. When William flashes his pearls, it’s fruitless not to reveal our own in unison and naive rich kid Chris Taylor did well to huddle up beneath his wing as opposed to the tattered flapper of the Cain to his Abel, the tyrannical Barnes.


This leads us conveniently onto Charlie Sheen and, while this fallen angel has become more recently known for his repeated drug abuse, rocky STD strewn road toward sexual gratification, and all manner of misdemeanors, there can be no denying what a force this young man was in the eighties when every American took Carlos Irwin Estévez to their hearts. While his brother Emilio was making a name for himself while attempting to sneak a peek up Molly Ringwald’s petticoat in John Hughes’s The Breakfast Club, Charlie was hard at work becoming the nation’s poster boy as attested by crowd-pleasing roles in Lucas and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. However, it was cinematic prophet Stone who made this gemstone shine brightest and, as Bud Fox in Wall Street, Sheen bought himself a lifetime hall pass with Keeper, going shoulder to shoulder with the great Gordon Gekko and getting his ass spanked for his insolence. This cocky young stockbroker’s American dream ultimately turned into a nightmare, predating his swan dive (albeit lucrative) into Two & A Half Men by a decade and a half.


As Topper Harley in Jim Abrahams’s Hot Shots! he showed a surprisingly natural aptitude for tickling the funny marrow and waved goodbye to any credibility as a serious leading man soon after. Granted, he loves his excess like the next man and man after that combined, but the whole world knows he has game and there is still time for Sheen to finish on a flourish. Perhaps Quentin Tarantino should dig up his alcohol ravaged kidney and give it a dust off as he has a canny knack for defibrillating the ailing and Charlie’s only ever one stint at rehab from another hit in my opinion.

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As wide-eyed Bravo Company volunteer Taylor he was perfectly suited to his red bandana and his voyage into manhood under the guidance of two chalk and cheese enforced fathers has lost none of its impact thirty years on. That said, The Thin Red Line now clambers up the hill in pole position, thanks to providing a poetic vision of the beauty and beast that exists within both humanity and nature. It’s also got Woody Harrelson in it and he chews up the cud like a seasoned veteran as Sgt. Keck before blowing himself a brand new ass trench courtesy of a case of mistimed pin pull on a live frag.


Watching him in his dying throes pleading with his unit not to mention his rookie error when reporting his demise to his wife called to mind how I first came across Harrelson as affable bartender Woody Boyd in long-running NBC sitcom Cheers and I couldn’t help but raise his grimace with a smile. I’m not entirely sure that was particularly tactful since he was desperately watching his discharged stool trickle down into the long grass of Mount Austen but at least everybody knows his name thanks to his skills with cleaning the empties and mopping up Norm’s stall sweat. The Texan titan came good and has shown his versatility as an actor on many an occasion during a career spanning a full thirty stretch and counting. However, there are a handful of unforgettable roles liberally sprinkled across the period that have stood out like beacons of brilliance. I can barely even say the name Roy Munson without shitting a lung (sore subject Woody I know) and, of all The Farrelly Brothers’ lovable goofballs, he is a fair few strands of wispy Munson head fuzz above Cameron Diaz’s jizz-dried quiff and even manages to hold his own alongside the legendary bouffant of arch nemesis Ernie “Big Ern” McCracken.


I have but three words for you – “how do I look?” Attempting to keep a straight face as Lauren Holly licks her fingers, sticks down that comb over as best she can, and replies “you look good Roy…real sharp” is utterly futile and just one of a plethora of golden moments that left me well and truly “Munsoned”. Meanwhile, as Billy Hoyle in White Men Can’t Jump he almost outblacked Wesley Snipes, stepping into the soiled breeches of mass murderer Mickey Knox, proved that he possessed the minerals to be regarded a bona fide Natural Born Killer and, depicting outspoken Hustler chief Larry Flynt in a second stint with Stone, single-handedly sold me a dozen or so skin mags. Don’t even get me started on Tallahassee from Zombieland as I barely have the superlatives to describe that particular redneck man-mountain.


The bottom line is this – Woody is the balls. With his Christian namesake Woody Allen’s nut sack being so desperately withered and a certain wasteful cowboy still not having anointed his timber testicles on the clearly gagging-for-it Bo Peep three Toy Story movies in, that makes Harrleson my all-time darling Woody. In the words of Roy Munson: “You must have a really wide foot because you got both of them”. Who says actors aren’t prepared to suffer for their art?


That should do us for starters but Pandora’s Box has now been wide open like Sgt. Keck’s sorry rectum and I plan to continue to rustle around in spilled entrails at the next available opportunity. In the meantime, I have devised us a closing gallery just to hint at what may possibly lie ahead. On a particularly clear summer night, the stars come out in force, and I’ve barely even skimmed the custard here so I’ll be firing up that rocket pack once more before Ernie McCracken could say “you’re on a gravy train with biscuit wheels”. I shall leave you with a dash of parting wisdom: when you consider the six degree of separation theory, there’s a good chance that Roy Munson once milked my grandfather’s prize bullock. Now if you’ll excuse me Grueheads, I have a morning cup of tea that ain’t creaming itself.

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Click here to read Second Constellation


Truly, Really, Clearly, Sincerely,


Richard Charles Stevens


Keeper of the Crimson Quill

Copyright: Savage Vault Enterprises 2016


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