Thursday, April 27, 2006

Job Search Anecdote

I was all dressed up in the financial district yesterday morning for a job fair up at 28 State Street. I came out of the State Street Orange Line stop and there at the top of the stairs was Sixty State Street in all it's red rock glory standing there just as insolently as it was when I was a mail clerk in a law firm on the nineteenth floor some twenty five years ago.
A wave of nostalgia for my mildly mis-spent youth washed over me and I exclaimed "Good God I'm back here again!"
Well this dapper legal-looking city gent in front of me spun around with an expression of the utmost solicitude he said "Are you lost? Do you need directions?"
I assured him that I was only having a little moment of deja vu he smiled, waved and walked across the street.
Now that I think of it, you just don't always get that kind of immediate engagement and courtesy here in chilly New England, let alone Boston's financial district.
Hope that fella had a good day.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Plaintive Cry...

The Boston Phoenix has its "Best of Boston" out this week. Once again they've bestowed laurels on East Cambridge's own "Video Oasis" as the best video store in Metro Boston.
This is the second time they've singled out Dennis Arruda's store for plaudits, and in truth the praise is well deserved. Dennis has a great store with a great collection of horror, sci fi, adult, and martial arts films.
Let the record show that Jon Haber and I discovered this store back when we were writing "Its All True" and gave him our won "Best in Boston" award three years running back when Bob Dole was a headliner.
They are only catching up to where we were back in 1996....

On a Second Viewing of "The Son of Frankenstein"

In some ways, this is the last great film of the original Universal Studios based horror cycle of the 1930's. It was certainly the last horror film with a lavish A-level budget and it shows in the lighting, decor, SPFX and vast sets.
The story is a familiar one, Victor Frankenstein's son returns and revives his father's dormant monster in a bid to prove his father's genius.
In fact young Wolf Frankenstein (Basil Rathbone) seems locked in a sort of Freudian death spiral with the unquiet shade of his father, a matter symbolized by the monster and all his lumbering symbolism.
This is a great looking film, Castle Frankenstein is a sumptuous German expressionist feast to the eye including a sulphur pit and what appears to be a walk in fireplace!
Alas the story is all but undone by an over-ripe hammy performance from Rathbone ably assisted by Donnie Dunagan the screechy child actor playing the scientist's toddler offspring.
Ah but the supporting players are a veritable gathering of the Gods!
Boris Karloff in his last performance as the monster mimes perfectly the brute's existential angst, Bela Lugosi gives the performance of his career as the wily hunchbacked peasant Ygor and Lionel Atwill plays it icy straight as the one armed police inspector.
If only the sequels were this good...but alas they declined in quality. Karloff passed the role of the monster on to everyone from Lon Chaney Jr to Glen Strange. Apparently Boris correctly deduced that from here on in, the monster would end up the uninteresting stooge of various other characters.
Lugosi at least seems to be having the time of his life playing the evil peasant and former grave-robber it is a performance that belies the notion that Bela was only good for playing bloodsucking aristocrats.
Currently "The Son of Frankenstein" is available as part of a DVD "Frankenstein Collection" set from Universal. If you have the scratch it is a worthwhile acquisition, there are plenty of extras plus the "Ghost of Frankenstein" (featuring another star turn from Bela Lugosi as Ygor) and the "House of Frankenstein". One can Watch the whole series come apart despite valiant efforts from reoccuring players Lone Chaney Jr., Lionel Atwill and Bela Lugosi.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

"Failure to Launch" (2006)

Hey if my old man wants to hire a hooker to get me to move out of the house, he is welcome and even encouraged to do so.
Okay so maybe the movie isn't all that explicit, Sarah Jessica Parker's character DOES primly explains to Matthew McConaughey's exasperated parents that she "never" sleeps with her clients as she beguiles them to move out - For a PRICE!
Hell, any experienced streetwalker will tell you the secret of the business is selling the sizzle not the steak.
What kills me is, McConaughey and Parker do have chemistry together in a complete freakshow that otherwise deftly mixes two taboo subjects, guys who live with their mom's past 20 years of age and prostitutes...
I just have this mental image that the script had to ahve been written for say Jennifer Anniston or Sandra Bullock...they both reached page ten of the script and howled into their cel-phone simultaneously "SHERM, THEY WANT ME TO PLAY A WHORE????!!!"
And so thus that is how Sarah Jessica Parker at the tender age of forty five
got her big break as a romantic comedy ingenue.

If you are up in Amherst New Hampshire

then definitely check out Mori Books 141 Route 101A Amherst NH (603 882-2665 or This is an old fashioned used bookstore with volumes piled up on the floor and bookcases that stretch to the ceiling...tons of everything is in evidence. The children's book collection is especially delicious with a pronounced emphasis on old Stratemeyer Syndicate series like "Dave Dashaway" or "Don Sturdy". They've also got a nice selection of the old "Big little Books" (those seem hard to find, though I'm no collector) and an excellent biography-history section with a nice stack of the old Ballantine Books "Our Violent Century" series.
I myself grabbed off a copy of Leo p. Ribuffo's "The Old Christian Right" which devotes an entire chapter to the life and career of Massachusetts' own Native Son, William Dudley Pelley, screenwriter, fascist and spiritualist extraordinaire!
So believe me, this is a good used books, Richard Mori, the owner has his head on straight.

Monday, April 10, 2006

The Rise and Rise of Captain Schoolgirl...

Cheap and crazy sometimes trumps lavish and maudlin...and then there is the iconic lunacy of “Captain Schoolgirl”?
Where to begin?
The independent comic book or the DVD?
The comic created by one “Fernandito” revolves around a goth girl who is a freshman at a local catholic high school. She does not fit in as is often the case and to confront her own alienation she doodles up an alter-ego the sexy Captain Schoolgirl who prances around in parochial uniform righting wrongs or some damn thing.
The Captain’s comic book depiction is a mite unfocused, she is both upholder of the status quo (a punisher of tardiness) and a great subverter of the catholic high school zeitgeist all at the same time.
There is something to be said for this, parochial schools are the last frontier in the American Teenage Firmament, they are seldom depicted realistically nor parodied with any kind of wit or insight.
The DVD on the other hand is a sort of straightforward satire drawing on such puerile fare as Filmation’s old “Secrets of Isis” Saturday morning show. The comic’s framing device and some of its satiric edge is accordingly dispensed with. The main conceit is that is this a normal episode of a mythical TV show called “Captain Schoolgirl” with clips setting up conflicts from previous shows and a nominal cliffhanger ending.
The tone of the whole enterprise though, is bracingly cheap and feckless, with strong performances from the title lead (alas her name is off the credits) and her sidekick “Dunceboy” (Sean Pridgeon) who reminds me of Jon Heder from Napoleon Dynamite. The story such as it is revolves around a bullying new kid and Captain Schoolgirl’s attempts to ward off the advances of the lecherous Reverend Mooney (Shane Scott both bearded and smooth shaven) and defeat the local Queen Bee Cheerleader (Jules Hartley). Imagine an ABC after school special as executed by William Burroughs and you’ll have the whole show figured out very nicely.
Where the DVD fails though, is in some details, ergo Captain Schoolgirl is the only pupil who wears a uniform, her male classmates for the most part are garbed in trashy street wear. For the record, when I was at a catholic school in North Cambridge it was suit coats and ties every day.
Ahhh...but for a labor of love shot over a few days “Captain Schoolgirl” has class and a sort of charm.
One hopes the production team can find time to produce more episodes before their nominal lead actress takes off for Hollywood, she is that good in my opinion.

Captain Schoolgirl's blog, DVDs & Comics can be found Here and or here.
Well worth the trip IMHO.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

So Katie Couric is going to become the Prime Anchorperson on the CBS Evening News?

Ahhhhh....CBS knows that Katie Couric ISN'T really fifteen years old right?
She just acts and is made up to look that way.
Hope someone clued them in...