Wednesday, April 30, 2008

"The Man who Invented Mars"

there is an article by Nancy Zaroulis about 19th century Brahmin-astronomer Percival Lowell and his obsession with the planet Mars in the Sunday Boston Globe Magazine.

Let the record show though, that in February of 1997my co-writer Jon Haber and I wrote an column on the exact same topic under the exact same title in the now defunct "Editorial Humor".

We make no accusations, it has been eleven years after all since we wrote that particular "It's All True" column and the world runs on coincidence and irony.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Dear Ghod....

Bacon Salt.....

Low calorie...bacon salt!
And the crowning touch?
It is supposed to be kosher!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

FYI I got my car searched by the TSA and the MBTA Gendarmes this morning

down at the Alewife T-station's parking garage.
I'd a declined and moved on, but the cop directing the sweep of my car was as cute as a button and looked like she needed a break with an onerous task.

Seriously though, I wonder what is up and why the Federales are in on the deal?
This is the third time since January that I've seen high profile security swarming the Alewife Red Line.

Again whassup with that?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Paul Sherman has a new book out

"Big Screen Boston" out May 3rd 2008, he is blogging about it hyar.

Paul has always been a good writer the book ought to be worthwhile.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Where else but in San Francisco can one see

a musical based on the 1924 Leopold and Loeb "thrill killing"?
Boston would prove stony soil indeed for "Thill Me The Leopold & Loeb story", that is even assuming you could find a venue that would tolerate the project.
Too bad Stephen Dolginoff's music & lyrics are strictly wanna be Sondheim and the play's central conceit Leopold deliberately bungled the crime to keep Loeb to himself in death or in prison is unimpressive.
For all that it was well acted, William Giammona's suave sociopathic Loeb is particularly memorable, but the play itself is distinctly second rate. Ultimately though, it was worth it, stuff like this just doesn't play in Boston...part of it is the frankly gay content part of it is our regional artistic torpor...the real risk-takers just can't get a toe-hold here.

On the other hand, Russell Blackwood down at the hypnodrome south of Market Street is doing the lord's work by the bay. The "Thrillpeddlers" group are systematically reviving the lost genre of grand guignol one acts for a modern audience. Trust me, a risk like this would NEVER make the art's listings in Boston!
And god-damn if they joint wasn't packed, of course, they hedged their bets with Noel Coward's little known "The Better Half"... can't go wrong with Noel can you???
Who knew Coward wrote for the Grand Guignol's London theater?
I had to go to San Francisco to discover this! I'd be an octogenarian before the news got to Boston believe me.
Anyway Coward's gay romp thru the groves of adultery and divorce was a nice curtain raiser for "the Old Women or The Crime in the Madhouse" a sort of gilded age splatter movie complete with useless psychiatrists and dopey nuns and that all before the blood starts running.
Honestly the whole project leaves me deeply envious...I wish Channel Zero had half so much going for it. What kills me though, is that the Thrillpeddlers" were set up in back of an antique store, and they were SOLD OUT!! And doing good business with wine and beer, a project like this would be dead on arrival in Boston!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

"Refusenik" (2007)

Laura Bialis spent five years shooting and editing this documentary detailing the world wide movement to free the Soviet Jews and allow them free passage to Israel.
It is a dramatic even heartbreaking story, but foremost it is a tale of activists and activism in America. From their initial bid to convince mainstream Jewish opinion of the righteousness of their cause to their decentralized but effective lobbying efforts all over the nation.
And in truth, they had good reason to press their case, the USSR was probably the last nation in the West to practice systematic anti-semitism. Josef Stalin was clearly preparing a vast blood purge of the CPSU in 1953 that would have included a nation-wide anti-Jewish pogrom. Only his timely death in March of 1953 prevent this catastrophe from happening. His successors a dumb and crude bunch were perfectly happy to treat the jews as second and even third class citizens according to the time honored rules of repression in Russia.
Thus truly serious people had good cause to worry about the fate of the jews in the USSR.
It's a twenty year story about a group of students and housewives who re-wrote the rules on diplomacy in this country, until the whole Refusenik mishaugas few activists over and above the Viet Nam war demonstrators took on the foreign policy of both the USA and USSR in such a specific and critical manner. As such they remain the model for international issue politics to this day, anti apartheid activists, pro-Tibetan groups and such-like all owe the campaign to free Soviet Jewry a debt of gratitude.
The movement to free Soviet Jews stands out as a unique and fragile example of bipartisanship, no other mode of "issue politics" included everyone from Edward M. Kennedy to William F. Buckley in it's ranks. It exactly the sort of unity you rarely see in US politics and perhaps with good reason.
I had the good fortune to meet Ms. Bialis in San Francisco last week, she is articulate with an encyclopedic knowledge of her topic. At present "Refusenik" lacks a distributor, it is nonetheless slated to run in Boston next month at one of the Landmark theaters, I urge all and sundry to see this film.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Drive Ins are Open! The Drive Ins are OPEN!!!


Serious cineastes will recall the dire predictions last summer that the Tri Town the Emperor of Massachusetts Drive Ins would be closing for good, well the Cassandras will have to spin their crystal balls again cause' th' Tri Town is open for business this Friday!!


Once More Unto the Breach Dear Friends, for God Saint Roger Corman and th' Movies!!!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

California Screamin'

If the City of San Francisco wants to make lavish use of me in a tourism advertising campaign, they are free to do so, just fly me back on the public's dime and I'll squawk lively as to how much fun I had in Fog City.
Truly, William S. Burroughs is right, the sky in California seems to be made of translucent blue paper...ah but so is H.L. Mencken, who claimed the wind off San Francisco bay was a sort of bracing tonic the first thing in the morning.
If you get up early enough, you can watch the sun rise over one of those fantastic cliff-like avenues, along the top will creep tiny human silhouettes like primitive animation. If you grab a cable car to surmount said hills watch for wizened chinese grandmothers remorselessly plodding up hill chain-smoking all the time.
Unfortunately, at the end of the cable car line you are left at "Fisherman's Wharf" a bloated gaudy tourist trap featuring all sorts of expensive nautical attractions, overpriced restaurants and the like. It is akin to Hampton Beach at full summertime gallop on a James Cameron style budget.
Honestly the City of San Francisco ought to hire grizzled actors to stand around in seamen's garb muttering "Yarrrr matey tis th' black spot!" would suit the atmosphere perfectly.
The best thing to do, is go early in the morning, avoid cable car crowds, buy a cup of tea for too much $ at Starbucks and watch the sea lions loaf in the harbor. These are huge bruisers with a indolent attitude towards life, they bark incessantly and lie around in the sun shamelessly.
They act like California is lucky to have them and as such suit the atmosephere perfectly.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Charlton Heston is Dead...

An Axiom of the Cinema passes on.

I wonder if they can detach that old musket from his hands in time for the wake?

Oh that was cruel, but a variant of it will be Letterman's opening gag tomorrow night so think of it as preview....

I mock Heston, he was a truly a third rate actor with the stony charisma of fine statuary lovingly polished, he was a hopeless character player (any time he was to do an accent, watch out!) but for all that he is literally in some ten or eleven movies I love. Planet of the Apes, The Omega Man, the 10 Commandments, Ben Hur, Soylent Green, Skyjacked, Airport '75, Midway, Earthquake, 55 Days at Peking, Khartoum, The Naked Jungle...its a long list believe me.
Never did such a limited talent do so much so well.
And what the hell, he did right by Orson Welles insisting that the Sifu should direct "Touch of Evil", that alone should get him marked down in the "book of life".
Heston may have been a gun-worshipper but he was loyal to his friends and he stuck his neck out good and far on behalf of civil rights when the rest of Hollywood was muttering on the sidelines.

He will be missed.

I'd conclude with the usual bromides about Heston being the last of an extinct breed but honestly he is naught but the Iron King for such ambitious second raters as Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzeneger.

A goodly portion of female backsides

spilled out into the hallway on Friday, it was unavoidable as they were all crowded breathlessly into W.E.'s cubicle to watch the New Kid's on the Block's reunion on the Today Show...artfully streamed live on

You wouldn't think NKOTB would have much of a footprint with any women these days, but to that 25 thru 30 cohort their charisma clearly lingers and has even picked up some strength.
I heard more than a few vows to secure tickets.
I'd mock the whole mishaguas except these are women I respect, in fact the steely eyed realist who trained me was practically cooing at the computer screen as Donnie Wahlberg waved at the Today Show Aud.

Now the dude I wondering about is their former Manager, Maurice Starr? Is he still around and in the mix? That guy had class, at his imperial high noon he swanned about Boston decked out like new jack Field Marshal complete with a gold lame' Sam Browne Belt and jack boots...all bought with money made off the NKOTB.
Class all the way.