Sunday, December 30, 2007

Overheard at my health club

(Conveniently located in a big hotel in Waltham wherein a baby shower was going full blast as I left)...a gaggle of tall well dressed twenty-something women sweep past me heading for the pre-natal festivities, one was heard to mutter gaily
"I can't wait for MY baby-shower, but I can sure wait a while on the baby!"

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

American Madness (1932)

Nothing quite brings the holiday cheer like a depression era drama about an embattled bank president who is contending with an unfaithful wife and a bank-panic all on the same day.
If you said "this sounds like a Frank Capra film" and you would be right on that score.
It is a good movie, Walter Huston is great, Pat O'Brien is wonderful, even Sterling Holloway has a good scene or two. It is a stone cold shame more of Capra's early works like "Miracle Woman" (1931) and "Submarine" (1927) aren't available at all on DVD.
In some ways this is a sort of early sketch for the later classic Jimmy Stewart vehicle "It's a Wonderful Life", which again features a virtuous banker in close battle with personal and professional challenges.
Can't recommend a single local outlet that might rent this film, nor does it play much on cable, hell I had to watch via a "private source".
However, we will be able to download it someday but only after spending hundeds and hundreds of dollars on bandwith upgrades.

Amazon will sell you the film as part of a take that for whatever comfort it may bring.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Kudos to the classically heroic soul who delivered

the Sunday Globe on this icy merciless morning. I live amidst some ill-plowed hills deep in the provincial heart of Arlington, delivering the paper today was a feat akin to Achilles' taking down Hector.

Time to reconsider upwards the annual Christmas tip....

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Grenade Soup in Middlesex County....

Last night I dropped by the home of a married couple I know, purely to assess the chill-battling qualities of Absolut vanilla flavored vodka you understand.
Their oldest son was completing an elementary school homework assignment which required him to generate a list of instructions.
He chose to compose a recipe for "grenade soup", he assured his mother that said potable would only "blow up the pot and the stove".
Last I checked the mother was ardently campaigning for a disclaimer to be inserted on the grounds of "silliness".
Amidst the process she gave me the puppy-dawg eyes and said "I am the mother of case you needed any reminder".

BTW Absolut vanilla flavored vodka, chilled in the freezer has the ironic effect of chasing off the cold like a trained hunting dog.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Ar The Brattle Theater for a screening of

"The Hound of the Baskervilles" starring Basil Rathbone on Friday night, starring Peter Cushing!
This is Hammer version and a fine film IMHO but I'd still love to see Universal's adaptation starring Basil Rathbone on the big screen.
Anyhow, Cushing makes a very good Holmes with his clipped delivery and falcon profile...the only major plot hole is the off screen escape and capture of the killer convict "Seldon" which becomes a very clumsy device for plot exposition. Conan Doyle handled these trifles with so much more panache.
The whole thing reminded me to track down some of the Holmes adaptations Cushing did for the BBC in the late 1960's including the seldom adapted "Study in Scarlet" which generally gets short shrift do to it's low view of Mormonism.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Bad Poets Society comes in for some publicity...

You can read Victoria Cheng's article here:

Well isn't fully compatible the Mac OS and at the same time, Kinko's PCs are incredible slow and unreliable...they wouldn't even let me cut and paste a simple URL!
"Ease of use" and "reliability" are largely bygone notions in today's technological civilization...and that is NOT a good thing!
Thus I had to revise this post the next day! From work where at least I can cut and paste and do a hotlink without falling into full scale ranting and raving.

Anyway it's a good article please read it.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

T-Minus 24 Hours and Counting (give or take) til the 2007 Bad Poets Society

Hope you can all make it there...we've got our poems picked and our readers all set. We've also cracked the listings at Boston Globe Calendar and the Phoenix's coveted "8 Days a Week" column.
So we are in good shape.
Anyhow the balloon goes up tomorrow night at 8pm at the Speigel Auditorium 56 Brattle Street Cambridge MA, admission a mere $'s the worst know comedy event in Boston that has somehow lasted seven long years.
See you there!

I leave you with a short appetite builder courtesy the one and only William McGonagall:
Sunlight Soap
You can use it with great pleasure and ease
Without wasting any elbow grease;
And when washing the most dirty clothes
The sweat won't be dripping off your nose
You can wash your clothes with little rubbing
And without scarcely any scrubbing;
And I tell you once again without any joke
There's no soap can surpass Sunlight Soap;
And believe me, charwomen one and all,
I remain yours truly, the Poet McGonagall.

Who knew he wrote advertising copy? Seems like a good fit for his technique I'd say.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

All Soul's Day

It was my habit in the lead up to Halloween to rent two titles from the now closed Video Oasis in East Cambridge courtesy of the late Dennis Arruda's incomparable horror film collection.
Typically I'd get a classic, something like "The Mask of Fu Manchu" starring Boris Karloff and something weird and obscure like "Blood Shack" directed by Las Vegas own Ray Dennis Steckler.
In no other video store north of New York could I have such choices.
All gone I'm thinking about Dennis tonight, not in sad way but happy that I had access to such an amazing collection of movies for so long.

Somehow we must move forward, the best of times are always just ahead.

Rest in Peace Dennis.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Secret of Sherlock Holmes

by Jeremy Paul directed by Robert Walsh at Shakespeare & Co in Lenox Ma.

Seems pointless to review something that just closed, but what the hell I spent good money on a hotel room to see the show so...

Generally I liked the script, the "secret" of the title is a bit contrived for my tastes, but the dialogue largely lifted from the original Conan-Doyle stories has an unexpected vibrancy. Doyle didn't write for the stage so it's a treat to hear his conversations recreated verbatim - who knew he could be read as actor's dialogue?
Moreover the play is a strong revisionist look at Watson and his contribution to Holmes' crimefighting crusade. That much I enjoyed, the Watson-as-Dimwit meme is very much a played out thing.
No if I have a problem with the show it lies with the casting, Michael Hammond is just too old to play Sherlock Holmes, oh he is vigorous enough, but he is balding and what remains of his hair is turning white. This contrasts poorly with David Demke's Dr. Watson who looks acts and sounds like a man in his thirties, together they are less popular literatures greatest detectives and more akin to father and son. Maybe the make-up design should have been reconsidered, bring Demke up a few years and bring Hammond down, because their acting is uniformly excellent, but they made an incongruous duo.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Despite the Regatta and a town swarming with Touristas

I want you all to know, I found legit on street parking in the Back Bay today and managed to do a leisurely leaflet drop on behalf of Channel Zero and the Bad Poets Society.
Yay me!
The big revelation this time around is the slow agonizing death of the local second hand record story, CD Spins has closed, as well Satellite Records - there used to be fours of five of these places on Newbury street now they are down to exactly none.
As a drop zone the Back Bay is becoming a backwater, which is an unhappy sign of the times I think.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Did Lindsay Lohan really call...

rehab "a sobering experience"?

Mother of Ghod!
I mean, maybe she has kicked booze-n-drugs, but clearly da girl still has a bad jones for stupid pills and imbecile capsules.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Sputnik Fool's Day...

All those movies in the below post are fabrications by the way, you just can't expect to get away with spoofs like that on April Fool's Day anymore.
Moreoever, today is "Sputnik Day"...the wrong date was a dead tip off...right?
And besides that the IMDb has pretty much ruined the old "phoney flicks" routine for the enterprising fantasist.
Anyway, here is some newsreel footage, until Channel Zero can get the scratch up to produce an acutal film called "Sputnik a Go Go" this will have to do.

Anyway The Bad Poets Society convenes next month, if you have any good representative examples of awful poesy, feel free to paste them into the comments field or sent us a note at

Monday, October 01, 2007

Happy Sputnik Day...

today marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Russian earth satellite's launch.
Someday, Channel Zero will mark the occasion with a revival screening of one of the great late 1950s early 1960's "Sputnik Movies".
Our favorites are listed below:
"I Hijacked Sputnik" (1958) starring Beverly Garland, John Ireland, Jay Robinson and Jonathan Haze

"Hercules against Sputnik" (1960) starring Ed Fury and Claudia Mori

"Sputnik a-Go-Go" (1965)Starring "Batavian singing sensation Rochester Hammerlink Jr."

"Sputnik Flies, Django Kills" (1966) starring Franco Nero and Montgomery Wood.


Monday, September 10, 2007

Yesterday...Nelly Furtado assured some bimbo

interviewer on CNN that (unlike Lindsay & Britney) she was proud to own "many many panties".
She was even prepared to give viewers recommendations on the best sources of women's underwear...
Oh it was jolly to be sure and a good ten minutes of congressionally licensed airtime on CNN no less.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

November IS Bad Poetry Month

Yes indeed folks the rumors are all true, the Bad Poets Society an epic reading of the world's worst verse RETURNS Friday November 9th at 8pm at the Blacksmith House deep in the beating heart of Harvard Square!
Watch this space for details, announcements on special guests, ruminations on poetry good and bad and the revelation most sacred as to this year's "Anchor Poet".

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The collapse of western civilization is perfectly illustrated by

the inability of much hyped technological innovation to increase productivity. A good illustration of this week down last night at the Shaw's on Lexington Street in Waltham.
A customer presented a simple coupon to the check-out clerk and because Shaw's is implementing a new high tech scanning-cash register system this caused the whole transaction to void and brought no less than Seven grocery clerks, baggers and the night manager into the mishaugas. At one point a Shaws "associate" could be seen frantically paging thru a operator's manual like a sinner looking for loopholes in the Book of Revelation.
The poor schnook with the coupon escaped with his groceries after a ten minute wait whilst seemingly half the store's heirarchy tried to figure out how to void a purchase and re-enter on their new fool-proof high speed high tech cash register-scanner system.
Calculating the transaction on an abacus would've been quicker.
Frankly the transformation of grocery check out lines into defacto ATMS with multiple payment options has in fact increased everyone's wait time. I've taken to bringing a paperback with me for the grocery check out action unthinkable a mere twenty years ago when one could get in and out of the store in under ten minutes.
Sad but this is the shape of things to come, nobody designs "upgrades" for ease of use and one and it's killing capitalism I fear.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Tragic News in East Cambridge

It is my sad duty to inform my readership of the death of Dennis J. Arruda, owner of Video Oasis, surely the BEST independent video story north of New York on July 12th of this year.
Dennis' rental inventory was an amazement, I almost always went into that store and found some obscure title that'd I'd been wanting to see...when I left (loaded with notes for future rentals and tapes) I inevitably intoned "I'll be back for it all, one tape or DVD at a time".
Dennis would chuckle, and now he is gone.
I'll miss him, he mattered, he loved the movies, loved talking about the movies and his store reflected that enduring passion. In palmier times when Jon Haber and I were free lancing for the Globe, whole articles we wrote were built around movies that were exclusively available at Video Oasis. He put us on the map, in return we always gave him a big press in our column "It's All True" our annual "Best and Worst of Boston" survey he was best video store three years running. He'd a won four years in a row but the publisher put his foot down and demanded someone else triumph that year.
Those were good times, Dennis cared, it mattered to him that he had the best video store in Boston, he was proud of the achievement and derived much mirth from the rumor that Blockbuster video never established an outpost in East Cambridge out of fear the competition from Video Oasis.
Sixteen years ago, on a cold rainy sunday in the dead of winter, I walked up a flight of stairs to Video Oasis old location at 525 Cambridge Street. I'd been driving past this store for months, as a writer on the local video beat, I was idly curious what this obscure local independent store had to offer.
Not expecting much I sauntered in passed thru one room, then another and in the third room I saw not a shelf but a WALL crammed with ultra-rare 1960's Italian gladiator movies.
I fell to my knees, I felt like Alex Haley when he finally tracked down Kunta Kinte's home village "I FOUND IT!" I thought, the first store, the best store the greatest video store...the one with all the stuff Jon and I were looking for. A place of myth, an empire of fancy but this was real and overflowing with good stuff.
Dennis never failed us, he never failed the he is gone. He had a big influence over my life and my development as a writer. I won't forget him...he took good care of me and my interests.
This has been a bad year for film in Boston, Movies on a Menu closed, the Tri Town Drive In in Leominster is rumored to be closing at the end of this season and Dennis Arruda, that axiom of independent movie rentals has gone to his final reward.
Our hearts are heavy, but we must go forward.
G'bye Dennis, you stood the watch to high times and low, we won't forget.
And just for the record "The 300 Spartans" was a much better movie than that cockamammie "300" mishaugas.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

"Signal Problems at Park Street"

turn my red line commute last night into a sort of below-ground glacier-race. Honestly our progress from South Station to Alewife unfavorably compares to molasses running uphill in the dead of winter.
Slow in other words...with lots and lots of stops and apologies over those awful PA speakers from the train crew.
But what really kills me is that Happy Jack recording from Dan Grabauskas that plays every five minutes in all the stations "Here at the T, SAFETY is our number one concern!"
Yup, SAFETY...cause' it's for damn sure that the MBTA has given up on speed and efficiency.

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Harry Potter Festival in Harvard Square

(which is peaking even as I write this as 11:24pm EST 7-20-07) is a bracing reminder of the old Harvard Square...full of oddly dressed gawkers and buskers of all descriptions...a real mob scene.
One thing I don't get though, if "Harry Potter and Deathly Hallows" is supposed to be a kid's book, then why are so many college co-eds tarted up in sexy schoolgirl costumes?
I guess it's a generational thing.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

'Arry Potter odds

Given the omnipresent release hype for the last of the Harry Potter novels this week, I thought I'd toy with some death-odds on the leads. Alas, this is all pure buncombe on my part as I'm not a fan, the Edwardian school setting is very off putting to me.

Harry: 50-50, I suspect JK Rowling is damn sick and tired of her boy wizard, the way Conan Doyle found Sherlock Holmes a curse. So there is ample precedent for simply snuffing poor Harry, but then you have to factor in pressure from the publishers and Warner Brothers who want an untainted revenue stream from Rowling's creations for years to come. Offing Harry is bad business.

Hermione: 60-40, in her favor: Hermione is Rowling's familiar spirit, I doubt she'd kill her own avatar. Besides if Harry turns up dead she can probably revisit the seriesh Ms. Granger as the lead, maybe that was the plan all along.

Ron: 20 to 1 against. Stick a fork in him, Ron is doomed. The comedy relief never survives to final reel in story's like this, his death is supposed to be the hero's final passage to adulthood, blah blah blah. Besides, it's an easy out and even the best writers succumb to cliches.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

A perfect day at Horseneck Beach today

perfect surf and perfect weather. I doubt I'll be so lucky for the rest of the summer. The only thing that harshed my groove was the proliferation of mediocre to awful tattoos some on which adorned the flesh of kids too young to enter into a binding contract in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
I guess that must be the hot new sweet sixteen gift, a smeary awful looking rose tattoo on one's shoulder blade.

Ten years from now, when "skin art" is strictly for squares, yer gonna wanna own stock in one of those companies that make lasers for tattoo removal...they'll be doin' a land office business.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Pick of the Week

Forget Harry Potter and Johnny Depp's pirate in eyeshadow...The Harvard Film Archive is goin' balls to the wall with action tomorrow!
The Adventures of Captain Marvel is one of the greatest serials ever made and this is a one in a lifetime chance to see it in it's natural big screen setting.
Don't let that pass you by!
Kudos to the HFA for making good use of the University's lavish endowment!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Sighted on the Minuteman Bike Path last night in East Arlington

at about 8:30pm...a small tow-headed boy wielding a teensy tiny butterfly net methodically attempting to capture one of the many many lightning bugs that were flickering about.
Behind the wee lad stood his two obvious parents grinning like circus clowns, the father reverently clutching the traditional glass jar with a perforated lid.

Add in the "Tom Sawyer" style bib overalls and the picture becomes complete.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Despite the rain

the grand fireworks show on the Esplanade look great last night...came across vividly even atop Robbin's Farm in Arlington some seven miles away from the action.
Is it me though, or are they getting closer and closer to outright mushroom-clouds over the Back Bay every Fourth of July?
The pyrotechnics, especially the traditional big finish seemed more akin to the Bikini Atoll tests this year...

Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007)

The best thing I can say about this movie, is that it is nowhere near as tedious as "The Incredible Hulk" or as pretentious as "Daredevil".
But that of course is faint praise indeed. This time the famed superheroic quartet must get the nigh-omnipotent extraterrestrial Silver Surfer away from the planet before he summons his master "Galactus" and the Earth is consumed like a cosmic cocktail weiner.
And in the midst of this, Sue Storm (an inert but beautiful Jessica Alba) has gone all Martha Stewart whilst planning her perfect wedding to Reed Richards (a baffled Ioan Gruffud).
At a sparse ninety minutes the film has no time to get boring but hits no heights either. Michael Chiklis as "The Thing" and Chris Evans as "The Human Torch" are really the best part of the film and do their best to bring a Marvel Comics feel to the movie. Therein though lies the whole problem, two of the four actors are up for it, the other two range from banal (Gruffud) to outright bad (Alba...who seems to have less dialogue this time around, maybe she has problems spouting the requisite techno-babble who knows?). Frankly if Sony wants to start making some money here, they should decorously drop Gruffud and Alba from the sequel and start anew with Chiklis and Evans and include some decorous actress with talent to bring in the requisite star quality. Think of it as a "Marvel Two in One" for the big screen...

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Sighted on the Fellsway Yesterday

A lone guy on roller blades, blithely skating along right in the middle of this major thoroughfare. Utterly oblivious to the fact that the Fellsway has no breakdown lane and twists and turns dangerously making it tough for cars to see this poor shlub if the conditions are right.
Seemed like a laid-back way to commit suicide if you asked me.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

"Love's Labor's Lost"

The Actor's Shakespeare Company is throwing a sort of Elizabethan's Mad Tea Party with this, the Bard's deceptively frothy comedy of manners and identity headlined by the one and only Johnny Lee Davenport a noble veteran of Shakespeare and Company and one of the region's best journeymen classical actors.
The cast was tight, the jokes well timed, but the show's outre dependence on a five person ensemble makes the play more of a showcase for individual players and their powers of sheer memorization rather than a coherent whole. I get this feeling a lot whenever a small cast executes a huge play, that the whole mishaugas is mostly about getting the right hat and wig on and hitting one's mark just in time.
It's not so much "stunt casting" as "stunted casting".
Still it was funny, Johnny Lee was particularly good as Don Armando the farcical Spanish Knight, Sara Newhouse shone as the Princess of France and let me just give a nice loud shout out to young Khalil Flemming as the scene stealing page Moth.
Overall I give er' three out of five.
I just wish A.S.P, would give up on this "All Male Titus Andronicus or All Female MacBeth" and give us Shakespeare that is "all good".

Saturday, June 09, 2007

I have a new heroine

her name is "Rags to Riches", she can't leap tall building with a single bound or swing from a web, but she sure can shut down the boys at today's Belmont Stakes. Won by a dainty little nose, first Filly to do so in a hundred and two years!
Pretty amazing race, Tod Pletcher the owner was over the damn moon.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Whoops stu-pid meee-ee...

According to David Abel in the Boston Globe that mysterious "tracking ship" tied up on the Black Falcon is the "BEM Monge", a French telemetry ship that has tied up looking for some R & R.
I got those sailors in civies right, but my tin ear for languages ran true, I thought they were Russian.
The above linked article sez the French sailors on liberty are given $290 and the night off to explore Boston. Fair enough, I hope they enjoy themselves, but as soon as those poor boulevardiers taste what passes for domestic wine here in the USA they'll haul up the anchor and make flank speed back to Calais.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Is there a "Tracking ship" tied up on the Black Falcon in South Boston?

Damned if I can figure this out!
I saw some sailors clearly on R & R walking up Drydock Avenue at 5:30pm this evening spouting what sounded like Russian.
When I boarded the Silver Line BMIP and came round the dog-leg what was docked at the pier but an old fashioned "tracking ship" festooned with huge satellite dishes and under guard with the usual anti-terror gimmicks in place.
Scanning dishes that big strike me as only being useful for tracking satellites and manned spacecraft..I could be wrong about this, but why is a Russian space tracking ship tied up in Boston?
Can anyone give me the low down?
Never seen such an odd looking vessel in all my years as a low level clerk in the insurance industry.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Sighted on Drydock Avenue in (Romantic) South Boston

The liner "Norwegian Dawn" in in drydock at the moment, gettin' painted & polished and generally spruced up.
The topmost deck, some five stories up all told, has an open air basketball court where yesterday morning sundry persons were blissfully & actively shooting hoops about 8:15am.
Nothing like a fast pick up game of b-ball before a tedious day of vacuuming and bathroom scrubbing or whatever the hell they do over there.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Notes on a short weekend getaway to Barnstead New Hampshire

I passed by a boot-n-tack shop on Route 28 in Allentown that was tarted up in garish frontiersman regalia looking all the world like the Ponderosa's guest house.
I came to the conclusion that New Hampshire is never more ridiculous than when it tries to pass itself off as cowboy country. This is a bizarre long standing theme in the otherwise sensible Granite State.
Anyone out there ever gone to "Six Gun City" in Jefferson N.H?
This is an inane but fun theme park dedicated to the notion that Big Sky Country commences a hour or so west of Rumford Maine.
Okay all kidding aside, Sparky's Sub Shop in Rochester NH makes a hearty Italian grinder and the vistor's center on Route 93 North in Rockinghams NH us staffed by the nicest most helpful people west of the Vistula.
Massachusetts drives though, are still classic massholes in extremis.
I watched with fascinated horror as the remains of a backyard grill with propane tank slid off the back of a truck speeding north on Route 93 in North Reading. The driver in question slowed down long enough to assure himself that his debris did not kill me and was now merely littering the breakdown lane before speeding up and shooting over the horizon.
Mike Dukakis and Deval Patrick are right!
We all need more rail travel in Massachusetts, we'll never learn how to drive!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Cardullo's in Harvard Square

keeps a flat screen television in it's show window and shows the Red Sox game some evenings to passers-by complete with audio piped in via discreet speakers.
The crowd watching last night's loss was pretty sparse and is indicative of Harvard Square's cruel decline as a destination...a few bums, a couple of boulevardiers, the usual long haired old ladies and a pair of EMT's lounging next to their ambulance without a care in the world.
Didn't quite know what to make of that, guess there wasn't much happening in Cambridge by way of pain and misery last night.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Spider-Man III

Serious comic book fans will note that despite being one of Marvel's A-List super heroes that the proverbial webspinner suffers from a decidedly second rate rogue's gallery. From Electro to The Vulture and on to the The Lizard they are, by and large a shopworn collection of one-note freaks.
So when it came to write Spider-Man III, clearly Sam Raimi threw caution to the winds and dug right down to the bottom of the barrel to dredge up MORE if not better antagonists for the title character. This is how we end up with such tedious hacks as "The Sandman" (Thomas Haden Chuch channeling Jim Nabors), "Venom" (an entirely superfluous Topher Grace) and James Franco's "Goblin Junior" or whatever the hell they called unpromising bunch to be sure.
Local pundit Jon Haber has sensibly opined that when screenwriters start shoe-horning multiple supervillains into a script it is a time to worry as easily written excess has now supplanted mere creativity.
To me though, the real villain here, the one Spider-Man cannot beat, is hubris, that firm belief that with a cast this good producers can indulge anything sans reproof.
Sadly, this is not the case, at two hours and twenty minutes Spider-Man III feels like a ponderous three and a half hours as we wearily trudge from villain backstory to villain backstory and on to the completely joyless action climax.
This is disquieting to watch, generally the Spider-Man franchise has been impeccably cast from the git-go with strong thematic notions to underscore the and move the action. Here though, the vague notion that poor Peter Parker has been seduced by Spider-Man's popularity is burried under tons of treacly dialogue, witless brawls and bizarre continuity errors. I won't even try to discuss Spidey's new black uniform it's origin or it's ultimate fate...I don't have all night and it wouldn't make a lick of sense the second time around anyway.
Personally I think McGuire and Dunst should take a hint, cash their checks and move on, the franchise has nowhere to go but down.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Insult to Injury

Gordon Scott, my favorite "obscure" Tarzan actor has died in Baltimore Maryland. He was the biggest Tarzan (biceps like granite), also the first to speak normal English and the first Apeman to film one of his films in Africa.
He will be missed.

Joseph Zamparelli Sr. R.I.P.

It is my sad duty to report that our artist-in-residence's father died last week after a long illness.
If "Mister Zee" was angry or unduly fussy in life, he had a right to be as he was caring for a profoundly ill wife for over thirty years. His devotion to duty set the standard for the rest of us. He was no breaker of proverbs, he will do well in the life after this one, he was passionate he was steadfast and we will not see his like on this breathing Earth again.
So g'bye Mister Zee...kiss Peggy for us and put in a good word for the boys in the back room, we are gonna need it.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

I saw the "Fenway Samurai" at work on Friday Night

it was entirely unavoidable, it was a Sox-Yankees smackdown on TV so the Summer Shack in the aforementioned Fresh Pond was full of happy howlin' louts. I even saw the big much discussed eighth inner surge, but being completely ignorant of the basics of baseball, I had no idea what was going only that the crowd was happy with the Red Sox latest acquisitions from Japan.
Frankly, if it doesn't have boxing gloves or a horse's tail, I dunno a thing about it.
What th' hell, everyone was pleased with the last minute victory...I can't criticize hard work in desperate circumstances.
Baseball gets a big hard sell here in America, but I don't get what all the hoopla is about. Ball players stand around in the hot sun, seemingly thinking deep thoughts while they wait interminably for someone to score. A man could compose an opera in the time it takes to actually catch something in the outfield.
Football on the other hand is a chatty sport, or so it seems to this perpetual outsider, armored brutes stand around gabbing away in endless huddles or else get complicated instructions from the coach at the sidelines...and that is only after guys go in and come out to further add fuel to the eternal palaver.
Then there is twenty seconds of serious carnage, then it's back to the tawky-tawk.

The Ninety Nine in Fresh Pond has closed!!!!!!

This is a catastrophe in extremis, where will Arlington drink now? Oh sure in certain restaurants, you can order a drink with your meal, but where to go for a little nightcap at the end of Route Two???
With the loss of the Ground Round, we are down to the Summer Shack (Which is nice but is primarily noted for it's family seafood dining) and the Bertucci's at Alewife Station.
Slim pickin's if'n yew asked me.
This is a cultural setback for Arlington, nothing left for me to do but join the Sons of Columbus, the Royal Order of Osiris or The Imperial Order of Icemen.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Sighted on the Red Line this morning

A brief case toting, dignified,nigh lawyerly looking young woman wearing a stylish black over coat, black nylons and white galoshes decorated with multicolored polka dots.
Presumably, she had something a little flashier to wear on her feet once she got to the office.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

The Actor's Shakespeare Project: Titus Andronicus

Is being presented down on JFK boulevard in Harvard Square until April 22nd. The venue is normally a retail space and yet seats one hundred comfortably...the conversion of the space to full time theatrical use is hearby urged by Channel Zero owing to the cruel fall off in cultural attractions in Harvard Square these last few years.
As for the play itself it is skillfully staged, all the performances are uniformly strong, Robert Walsh's Titus is particularly well played between the twin poles of the character's foolish devotion to duty and his resultant homicidal dementia. Ah but Shakespeare loved his duty loving soldiers (Othello) and foolish old men of power (Lear) didn't he?
If there is a general problem here it lies in the script which is not one of the Bard's best relying as it does on a climax that wouldn't be out of place in a "Nightmare on Elm Street" sequel. Contrivances aside it is always and everywhere Shakespeare's language & potent themes that elevate the mediocre into the marvelous.
And if there is the specific criticism it lies in director David R. Gammon's decision to cast men in the plays two major female parts. Despite the use of male actors in Elizabethan theater, it's always come off as a sort of "stunt casting" option in most modern revivals of Shakespeare. I've seen it down a half dozen times in various plays and of the lot I can clearly say it made a real difference in one case that being Celia Madeoy as Petruchio in Shakespeare and Company's gender reversed version of "The Taming of the Shrew".
It worked that time because the actress was tres formidable and fully invested into putting over a somewhat labored idea.
Here it's just sorta predictable.
Be that as it may it is still an good production of one of Shakespeare's most challenging plays. One hopes A.S.P> can find a way to bide a while in Harvard Square.

Monday, April 02, 2007


(The 2007 Drive In Diaries...part 1)

Thank the Great Jehovah and the Continental Congress!
Where else, after all, can we see fraudulent nonsense like "300" with a light heart?
I mean thank ghod I saw this film at the Tri-Town saturday night, my guffaws and catcalls might've annoyed a multiplex audience.
Honestly, Gerard Butler as the Spartan King Leonidas prances around in a black spandex posing sack, red superman cape and spouting truculent gibberish that would gladden only the chickenhawkish hearts of a Dartmouth Review alum.
This is when the stouthearted and preposterously pumped Greek warriors aren't giving their special college yell...they do this seemingly every ten minutes.
Ah but did you know the Spartans at Thermopylae went down to glorious annihilation fighting masked zombies,asssorted gruesome freaks and what looks like "The Incredible Hulk"?
Look THAT up in your Herodotus!
Such is the alleged vision of director Zack Snyder.
oh the battle scenes are great, the gouts of gore arc thru the air in slow mo like raindrops in a downpour, the cinematography suggests one of Frank Frazetta's "Conan" paperback covers come to oily life, but the dialogue is wooden and inane along with the dessicated plotline.
As for the sturdy myth of heroic annihilation stick to "They Died with Their Boots On" or John Wayne in "The Alamo" if you are an itchy wingnut.
Otherwise can't wait to see Tarantino-Rodriguez's "Grindhouse" opening this month, the previews promises a film worse than "300" in almost every way!
Another drive in season has begun!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

As the USS Donald Cook puts out to sea

a curious scene is played out on the Silver Line's SL#2 this evening. The bus picks us up in front of Drydock # 27 and speeds down Black Falcon Avenue, makes the dog-leg to Northern Ave and then blithely roars past a good nascent twenty passengers milling around the bus-stop.
Not so much as a by-your-leave even.
But then it gets even stranger, the driver pulls up to the very next stop and lets on a single solitary well insulated passenger, just as the doors whooshed open the cheery electronic voice intoned "Please report any unattended packages or suspicious behavior to the bus-driver".
Which put me in a quandary, how can I report the bus-driver's suspicious behavior to...the bus-driver? I mean whassup with dissin' the twenty on the sidewalk for the lone hammerhead one stop up?
I wanted to stand up, wave my battered paperback copy of "Lolita" overhead and announce " an aesthete...I have taste decorum even, and this bus is operated by a driver of pronounced and morbid caprice!! I demand a detailed explanation!! An alibi, a little sonnet perhaps...but please for the love of the late muses, why didja blast past those twenty back there??"

Alas I did nothing, it was late I was tired if Al Queda or the Winter Hill Gang were in on it, I couldn't figure out their plot.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

On the Red Line from South Station Tonight

I could've gotten to Alewife faster if the MBTA had the foresight to hitch up our train to a team of oxen.
No joke, I was a young man when I boarded that train full of naive' hopes about overcoming "switching problems in Davis Square", decades later we limped into Alewife liked the starved survivor's of Stalin's GULAG.
Honestly, the T compares unfavorably in almost every way to the Moscow Metro which I actually rode back in the early eighties. As I recall the schedule was reasonably dependable for the harried communist commuter. And that was Andropov's USSR we are talkin' about, seething with torpid deadheads and party hacks...yet somehow the damn trains rolled.
Can't say as much for the MBTA wherein daily one is exposed to the perils of premature senility from the slack-assed pace of the Red Line.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Channel Zero Returns Sunday March 4th at 2pm!

In which we will be screening:
Jerry Lewis (Yes THAT Jerry Lewis!) as "The Jazz Singer" (1959)

Jerry stars as a popular nightclub singer whose worldly success alienates his
stern father the Rabbi in this rare live television production. See "Le Roi du
Crazy" in a early dramatic role!

Jerry Sings!! (No...Really!!)

Sunday March 4th, 2pm
Eddie's Movie Cafe aka Movies on a Menu

148 Massachusetts Avenue
Arlington Ma.
781 316 8668
Suggested donation $5 (Maybe!)

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Pick of the Week

"Invasion USA" (1952) one of the best cold war paranoia films ever made screens tonight at 9pm at the Harvard Film Archive.
If watching Russian Paratroopers machine-gunning US Congressmen is your thing, then this is a definite take-in. Other films danced around the myth of a Soviet Dominated America, Invasion USA fearlessly depicted the whole fantasy down to the last detail.
DAMN I wish we had screened this at Channel Zero!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Remind me never again to doubt Arlington's own "Book Rack"

majestically nestled at 13 Medford Street next to the Regent Theater in the beating heart of Arlington Center...cause' they damn well had a used copy of Ian Fleming's "Moonraker"!
The joke is on me though, I checked out the Book Rack orginally two weeks ago, and didn't find what I was looking for. But I was down in the Center today and decided to give them another try, on a second pass I discovered they kept the whole 007 bibliography in a separate bookcase.
Dopey meee!!!
Well what the hell, I paid $2 for my paperback (Barnes and Noble in Burlington wanted FOURTEEN U.S. DOLLARS for the same damn story new, outrageous!!)...and departed with a light springing step.
I'll re-read it, as soon as I'm done with Spitz's bio of the Beatles, Harold Lamb's biography of Genghis Khan, Frederic Wakeman's "The Hucksters" and a couple of those old Ballantine "History of WW2" trade paperbacks that I stumbled over.
Yeah I know, I read a lot of books...well there is nothing for it, I have an hour commute in both directions on the notoriously wheezy and unreliable Red Line every day...nut'n ta do but get caught up on yer reading.
Anyway, The Book Rack is a place of happy miracles, check out their website


Friday, February 09, 2007

Meanwhile up in orbit

U.S. Astronaut Sunita Williams quietly sets the women's record for spacewalking...some twenty nine total hours of which seven were tacked on in one marathon session outside the International Space Station this week.
Lets remember that achievement as the chattering classes go to work on Lisa Nowak and her bizarre alleged attempt to kidnap a rival for a fellow astronaut's affections.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Crazy Astronauts in Love

It occurs to me that if this story was a movie coming out this friday starring say Nicholas Cage and Nicolle Kidman...directed by ohhh I dunno Frank Oz from a script by Nora Ephron, you'd just pass that bad baby by as the most desperate contrived nonsense imaginable.
And yet here we are, Astronaut Lisa Nowak allegedly tries to kidnap a rival for the affections of another astronaut after a wild ride cross country complete with diapers and disguises.
Forget it, David Lynch would have to direct this one.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Britannicus at the A.R.T.

excellent execution of Racine's Roman drama depicting the final days of the son of the late Emperor Claudius before his murder at the hands of the infamous Princeps Nero.
Liked Kevin O'Donnell quite a bit in the title role he plays it honest, unassuming and fearfully unaware of the malevolent forces arrayed against him. Alfredo Narcisco's Nero is a familiar depraved type...artsy and homicidal. Kudos to Joan MacIntosh as Agrippina, Nero's nasty stage mother who fears her darling boy has unknotted her apron strings and stolen off on his own.
The A.R.T. for once toned down, the odd even inexplicable artsy flourishes that usual characterize a revival like this were nowhere to be seeen.
That my friends was a welcome discovery to say the least.
There were times in other shows, where the trapeze artists and Balinese finger dancers all seemd closer to second house vaudeville than modern theater at it's most sublime.
No if there is a problem with "Britannicus" it lies in the text, Agrippina spends most of the play as a cold calculating dominatrix before turning unconscionably credulous in the third act. to Ms. McIntosh she plays thru it all with aplomb.
The play however was great and runs thru this week, well worth the effort to see it.

Moonraker Blogging second weekend...

Moody street in Waltham let me down, Back Pages Books had exactly nothing in the way of Ian Fleming while More than Words Bookstore had both "Octopussy" and "You Only Live Twice" on hand the requisite title was still nowhere to be found.
This is taking on the entirely overdone elements of a bad Melvillian metaphore...the little green Signet paperback in place of the fabled White Whale.
I could just go to the damn library...but at this point, my blood is up and I must prove it can be found the old fashioned way!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Appropos of nothing...

You'd think after five years of "American Idol" they'd a run thru the nation's backlog of tone deaf freaks and giddy no-talents.
Sadly based on a cursory viewing of the show on Monday night, this does not seem to be the case.
And is Paula Abdul finally in rehab yet?
I mean girlfriend is cutting it a bit close with respect to her liver's long term prospects.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

National Gorilla Suit Day

Tomorrow is National Gorilla Suit Day, that immortal holiday that celebrates our common descent from the terrestrial flesh eating apes of prehistoric Africa.
But now today, certain book worshipping fanatics are trying to turn our RIGHT to celebrate Darwinism by donning crude ape regalia into some de-evolutionized xianized costume semi-holiday like Easter or the Liberace's Birthday!
PROUDLY don your gorilla suit today and CELEBRATE the UNDENIABLE fact of our anthopoidal ancestry!!!

Remember, Darwin is the Reason for the Season!!

Happy National Gorilla Suit Day!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Here is a used book conundrum...

Why can't I find a second hand copy of Ian Fleming's "Moonraker"?
I've tried the Bookrack in Arlington, The Harvard Bookstore in Harvard Square, the Raven Bookshop on JFK Blvd, WebHead Enterprises in Wakefield...Bearly Read Books out in Sudbury and Annie's Book Swap in two different locations.
I mean what is the difficulty here? It used to be a common Signet paperback with a dull green cover, now pffft! Can't be found.

I know it's out there first hand, but i refuse to spend so much on such an ubiquitous paperback.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Apropos of Nothing but

I would pay good money to see some Diana Ross Wannabee, immaculately coiffed and perfectly turned out get up on American Idol and belt out Ray Steven's Guitarzan.
The trick is, she'd need a good singing voice...cuz it's just funnier that way.

Speaking of American Idle (a show I don't normally watch), anyone out there think Paula Abdul will finally experience delirium tremens live on on the air tonight?
And just where do the D.T.'s end and American Idol begins anyway?

Monday, January 08, 2007

Flash Gordon Returns?

The Sci Fi Channel is conjuring with a revival of the classic depression-era space hero.
Generally I'm liking the idea, Flash's core concept never gets old, Yalie athlete crash lands on hostile alien planet with co-dependent girlfriend and wise Jewish scientist, proceeds to conquer all and sundry with his two fists of iron.
Buster Crabbe fit Flash to a "T" back in the day, lets hope for a similar casting coup.
Anyway, if Sci Fi can polish a turnip like Battlestar Galactica, who is to say they can't infuse Flash Gordon with new life?