Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Panic Buying:

( A snow storm list found in a parking lot this evening here in Romantic Arlington)

Three Typewriter Ribbons (black preferably)
Four Betamax Videotapes (blank)
One man hole cover ( cast iron, IMPORTANT)
One Quart, "Rupert's Old Fashioned Adding Machine Oil"
One copy of "A Freemason's Guide of the Non-Migratory Birds of the Northeastern United States, Volume One"
Little Debbies
1 Reserve Hang Glider
Three Cork Life Preservers (If they only have styrofoam then forget it)
Three pair My-Tee Fine, Polar Sandals.
Board Certified Mexican Bull Taser with optional padded & reinforced horn cozies.
Three Parasols (Polar Fleece, Pink, IMPORTANT)
Three boxes of Pineapple Flavored Ka-Boom
1 quart of "Olde Middlesex County Bust-Head" (Black Label)
Little Debbies
I tin bucket of "Hobo Joe's Gin" (note Joe is strictly a cash operation)
1/2 gallon of Ocean Spray Missile Juice
Six Fresh plasma fed Gourds (NO imports)
1 quart Clairol brand elite vodka (red label, use the coupon )
Grutenbourg's Classic Steel Cut just-add-sand Instant Microwave Bread
Don't forget the Little Debbies.

Please hurry they are predicting over four inches of snow between Wednesday and Sunday.

Just can't seem to work up any enthusiasm to see

"Avatar" anytime soon. I must be the only SF fan in the USA so inclined, but then when the genre started making people big bucks I found my interest waning.
Then again, James Cameron is the most unoriginal film-maker on the planet, the whole plotline to "Avatar" reminds me of Ben Bova's old sci fi novel "The Winds of Altair".

Sunday, December 27, 2009

"Me and Orson Welles" (2009)

This is a title that could apply very well to yours truly, if it is one topic on which I count myself a perfectly pathetic cultist it is Orson Welles,
I wanted to like the film very much as it recounts a seminal moment in the Welles' legend, his 1937 modern dress version of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar and indeed Christian McKay wisely opts to inhabit the Wellesian style rather than try to impersonate the great director in the fashion of Maurice LaMarche.
But a subplot involving Orson's entirely fictional teenaged protege played by Zac Efron and his short lived affair with Welles' long suffering secretary (Claire Danes) veers uncomfortably close to Cougartown if not statutory rape.
The last third of the film though is a wonderment as opening night of Caesar is recreated for the screen right down to the blackshirt uniforms, Caesar's assassination down to the death of Cinna the Poet at the hands of a fascist lynch mob, you suddenly get a sense of just how powerful Orson Welles' ideas really were when it came to enacting Shakespeare for the modern audience.
I'm sure there is more to Zac Efron than being a pin up boy, he did hold his own against Christian McKay and that is something (against Welles even in his dotage though, Efron would have been reduced to a red smear on the soundstage floor)...But his lovely dovey interludes with Claire Danes (herself a former Juliet no less) were superfluous filler at best if not cringe inducing to watch.
Alas though, Welles the director, the great teacher of film-makers has become a legend whose life has become outright film fodder, I'm not sure this is the sort of immortality he was shooting for when he set out to top "Citizen Kane."
Three stars, Liked the cast, loved the topic, had some issues with the script.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve....

Finished up my wrapping, poured myself a drink and settling down to watch my favorite holiday movie....WATERLOO!

Because nothing sez Holiday Cheer quite like watching the flower of Napoleon's Grand Armee go toe to toe with Wellington's Beefeaters for the whole shebang, domination of Europe and the rights appertaining thereof!

And Rod Steiger, a yuletide tradition in one package, the man is GIANT! Made Huge by a twenty yer diet of scenery swallowed whole!

Merry Christmas to All!
Vive L' Emperor!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

My High School Memories are packing up and moving to Savin Hill...

Yes indeed, North Cambridge Catholic on Norris Street in North Cambridge (obviously) is moving to Boston to get closer to it's core constituency.
I can already hear the anguished yelps and cries from both active and torpid alumnae, hell I could easily draw up a list and it'd be pretty accurate too.
Well this has been an inevitable thing, NCC stopped being a cozy little neighborhood HS back in 1976 when the first wave of kids desperate to escape busing in Boston came staggering in from Dorchester, Hyde Park and Southie.
And NCC has progressively draw from distant parks of Boston ever since then with a rising enrollment at a time when Catholic High Schools were being padlocked all over the Archdiocese. All Cristo Rey has done, is made NCC financially independent of the Diocese, put her in the black and made a virtue of the inexorable.
I'm fine with it, better alive in Savin Hill than a bunch of condos in North Cambridge, besides it isn't where you are, it is who you are...But believe me other people are gonna be incensed in extremis.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Every winter I re-learn the same painful lesson

that at the least hint of snow, the MBTA's Red Line quickly descends into a witless fiasco.
Case in point tonight where a "disabled train at Alewife" compelled the use of shuttle buses between Harvard, Porter, Davis and Alewife with the usual patently "cross Cambridge crawl" thrown in for good measure.
Hell I threw in the towel in Harvard Square, grabbed a cab with some guy from a financial advisory firm and hacked it to Alewife.
To think I once tooled around Andropov's Moscow on the subway with nary a worry about getting to my destination on time.
Alas the Red Line is concerned you can count on exactly nothing after a snow storm.
Granted this was a derailment and thank God no one was hurt. Nonetheless similar scenes of absolute maddening paralysis have been going every winter for over five years now.
has anyone reeled to their feet in the State House in outrage and high dudgeon?
No, them folks is all on Christmas break, God help us.
The MBTA is underfunded, understaffed, outmoded and outgunned, period end of story.
Fixing what is wrong goes beyond spending more money or hiring better people or busting the unions or crushing the kulaks. No, It starts with a change in ethos and by that I mean that the interests of those that commute by highway can never supercede the interests of those that commute by bus or rail. We spent untold billions on the fabled Big Dig lets make fixing the MBTA at least as big and as lasting a priority.
Any politician that gets that and has a positive program to move this ball forward has my vote.
1.) Equality of interests
2.) Restoring the MBTA to the level of efficiency associated with the Moscow Metro circa 1983....Cuz right now, the Red Line would be an embarrassment even to the communists.

A moment of silence please...

Arnold Stang is dead....
And look at that list of credits, I mean he goes all the way back to "Captain Video and his Video Rangers" on TV.
Who knew he was a local?
I always pegged that accent of his as High Brooklyn fer sherr.
Arnold Stanf might be one of the few character actors who stole every single scene he was ever in TV or Movies or Community Theater for that fact.
Not bad for a kid from Chelsea whose voice never quite changed....

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Apropos of nothing

But there is a big picture of Santa Claus tacked up next to the obligatory color photo of the Commander in Chief up at the VA LTC facility wherein my esteemed and honorable father loafs these days.
Which gave me the idle thought, "How the hell does Santa Claus get past all the security at the White House?"
He must have a high security clearance, imagine that background check eh?

Meanwhile, once upon a time adult film maker Barry Mahon went out onto the arid beaches of Florida, summoned the Powers and Principalities of the Air, Fire and Water...and at dusk he returned home having made this film "Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny".

The Rabbit looks stoned, but then it was 1971.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Paul Naschy is dead...

Franco's Spain never ever produced a better werewolf.
Ah but in his day Paul was a phenom, writer, director, principal actor he was a direct inspiration to other horror auteurs in the Latin world everyone from Coffin Joe down in Brazil to Jess Franco (Spain's other big horror director.
Okay hats off & incline your heads, this is one werewolf who won't rise again sad to say.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Screening "Thunderball" (1965)

In a vain attempt to stay warm on this cold December evening.
This would be second of many many many James Bond films set in the sunny warm Caribbean...Nassau to be exact.
Here, take a look at "Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" the unused theme song to the film looped over the original credit sequence...Sung by Dionne Warwick no less.
Other than that, this is the "hump 007" the film that set all the iconic James Bond film elements in stone, all of the franchise's subsequent entries borrowed heavily from Thunderball's zippy zeitgeist.
And if you wanna learn how this particular film's script all but prematurely killed Ian Fleming, then please check out Robert Sellers and Len Deighton's "The Battle for Bond".
It is a very suggestive and interesting read.

Monday, December 07, 2009

My Last Three Movies:

Haven't gotten out to the movies much lately, but I have been screening some of my DVD hoard on a regular basis.

The Caine Mutiny(1954) MiGhod this is a good movie! Saw it as a High Schooler back in the day and the film has lost none of it's allure for me. It is a superlative performance from Humphrey Bogart as the tyrannical & cowardly Captain Queeg buttressed by an outstanding supporting cast. Only in the demise of the studio system could Fred McMurray (once a Fox mainstay), Van Johnson (the golden boy of MGM) and Humphrey Bogart (the uncrowned King of Warner Brothers) ever star in a film together.

Superman Returns (2006)I don't give a good gawd-damn what the fanocracy sez on line, this was a good movie in every way. The action is carefully paced, the acting is up to the challenge and the effects are lavish...what more could we want?
Perhaps Kal El's possible sorta maybe son was a bridge too far...and maybe Brandon Routh went a little flat in a scene or two and maybe another land grab by Lex Luthor was too much of a good thing.
On the other hand, this is a Superman adaptation was was definitely worth avoiding...
I think twenty years from now, when the dust has finally settled from the Siegel Fanily's lawsuit and another Superman movie drought has been endured, people will look back on this title with more esteem and approval.

(1958)Simply put, Orson Welles' best performance in a film he himself did not direct. In this fictionalized treatment of the infamous Leopold and Loeb case Welles' shines as the Clarence Darrow homage and proves once and for all that given a class script he could underplay and let the words do the work sans reocurse to ham and or bombast.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Snow Storm Liquor (a brief inventory)

As the year progresses I am in the habit of putting half empty bottles of hard liquor in a milk crate in the cellar as a sort of stash against a serious blizzard.
These days I can't quite shovel out the house without a warming libation afterwards... forty seven IS forty seven folks.
Since we got snow last night I had a chance to take stock of the distilled odds and ends I've stocked away against the specter of hard times and high snow drifts.
Let me note that I commence every winter with a nigh empty bottle of Gordon's Gin on hand, usually it has about a shot or so left sloshing around the bottle, a proud survivor of the relentless demand for cooling gin and tonics during the hot summer months.
Old Crow: A nice ten dollar bottom shelf sour mash whiskey, allegedly aged in the barrel for four years and with a label that suggests losing shoot outs against Clint Eastwood.
A much prized potation, heavily trafficked by Mark Twain, General Ulysses S. Grant and later on, Dr. Hunter S. Thompson. Best served on the rocks.
Evan Williams Bourbon, or as I like to call it "Unemployment Jack Daniels". This is a reliable budget bourbon with none of the almighty Zen-like enlightenment of Jack Daniels nor does it invite any degrading after-effects either. It comes with an ornate black label that guarantees some of it's sales are due to confusion with the Famous Tennessee Sour Mash. If Evan Williams was a US Senator, it'd be Maine's Susan Collins, safe, secure, uncompetitive and easy going.
Pikesville Supreme Straight Rye Whiskey This stuff is about as smooth as sandpaper and leaves a burning sensation in the mouth that seems to imply the distiller has been tossing "Atomic Fire Balls" into the mash. Nonetheless it does reheat the limbs nicely on a cold winter's night, I can't imagine mixing it with anything with any success.
Svedka Vodka Another hardy castaway from the heat of the summer. Mediocre vodka is merely something that demands a good mix to be a social success, a trophy wife as it were. Great vodka can be consumed neat as nothing should impair or obscure it's semi-divine sharpness. As such let me note that Sveska mixes very well with "Newman's Own Pineapple Juice".

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

My Ghod!

Ray Dennis Steckler is DEAD!
Nobody tells me anything!!!

Ah but Ray was a wonder in his own way, he was the last of the independent producer-directors who sold exclusively to the drive in market also the first to become a do-it-yourself backyard film-maker...The man straddled some genres lemme tellya. I've often included "Ratfink a Boo Boo" on my list of the ten greatest films not out of a sense of whimsy but because I genuinely admire his attempt to stave off boredom by turning a cheap rip off of Psycho into a Batman and Robin parody.
Then there is his bizarre resemblance to former Bowery Boy Huntz Hall or his equally strange acting alter ego "Cash Flagg".
His enthusiasm, his lack of ego his wide ranging filmography (horror films, rock and rock extravaganzas soft core porn) mark him as ahead of his time.
Rest in Peace Ray there is no one out there quite like you.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Cancellation of Eliza (part II)

Dollhouse starring Boston's own Eliza Dushku has been unceremoniously cancelled after one and a half seasons!
The poor kid must be getting a complex, she will soon be rivaling the great Alison La Placa for an uninterrupted string of one and two season wonders.
In the case of "Dollhouse" producer Joss Whedon's core concept (brain wiped human robots assuming different roles each week at the behest of a sinister corporation) made it wee bit difficult to form an attachment with the protagonist even if she is the one and only Eliza Dushku. "The Prisoner" had the same problem as Patrick McGoohan's Number Six was all about denying his back story from his captors and by extension the viewers.
Well all I can say is, TV-land is a wasteland in extremis without Eliza D. raising holy hell on a weekly basis....helluva shame really.

Monday, November 16, 2009

My Last Three Movies:

The Informant! (2009) Directed by Steven Soderbergh...Won-der-ful film in every way, great performance from Matt Damon in serious "Heavenly Creatures" mode wherein it takes a good hour for the aud to realize the protagonist is completely bonkers. It is a funny movie in every way so we will see if any Oscar Buzz is generated off of Damon's portrait of a genial upwardly mobile nut job.
Zombieland (2009) Directed by Ruben Fleischer Best zombie flick I've seen since "Shaun of the Dead". A winning performance from Woody Harrelson but star turns also from co-stars Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone & Abigail Breslin. The ending doesn't make a whole lotta sense, but then it is a zombie flick and you have to expect a wheezy third act when the genre itself is heavily pre-populated with cliches.
As for the infamous cameo...Yer gonna have to go to some other blog to get it spoiled and hashed over, but rest assured it is preemo.
Amelia (2009) Directed by Mira Nair. Amelia Earhart (Hilary Swank channeling Hepburn) wants to fly, and to do it she'll endorse every product in the yellow pages and marry an oily publicity agent all to stay free above the clouds in a smartly painted biplane. Critics have lambasted this film for it's aimless plot and bio-pic cliches. However the writers consciously chose to depict Ms. Earhart as a free spirit of the air and lets face it, yer classic free spirits have little depth to them. And so it is with Amelia, rest assured despite the six inches of suds on the floor the whole thing is acted with a great deal of grit and panache, Ms. Swank almost accomplishes the James Deanian miracle of redeeming mediocre material... Almost but not quite.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Adorable scene in Menotomy this morning

When I go out to the car most mornings squads of middle schoolers are inevitably trudging by me on their way to the Junior High down the hill. This morning a flock of girls were prancing down the street clearly in no discernible hurry to get to school. Since we are all terrible provincials in this part of town kids tend to walk down the middle of the street sans demure since cars are infrequent things round' hyar. I generally let any kids in transit pass me by before pulling out as it just seems safer that way.
Well just as these girls had reached the stop sign down the block in front of me, a huuu-uge SUV roared around the corner and pulled up smartly right next to them on the curb, the driver's side window powered down, and an elegantly clad arm issued forth with expensive bracelets round the wrist clutching a brown sandwich bag in it's manicured hand.
Immediately the smallest of this aforementioned girlish gaggle detached herself from the group and deftly snatched away said back with a high pitched "Thanks MOM!" trilled on the breeze.
And with that the SUV roared away in a cloud of dust, the girls resumed their stately progress down the avenue without a care in the world.
All I could imagine was that moms was late for an early meeting at Ropes and Gray and took off out of the garage like the Batmobile howling "Amber forgot her luu-unch!!!!"

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Twilight of the Gods....

It is my sad duty to note the death of Brother Blue at the age of eighty-eight.
The very heavens do shake.
He was in palmier days, the wise counselor of my mis-spent youth.
A longtime fixture in Harvard Square, a man given to dancing atop the snow piles from the great blizzard of 1978, a storyteller, a friend to drifters, derelicts and children.
Now gone.
I will never again walk thru Harvard Square without wishing most ardently that he was still out on the damn triangle island in front of Wordsworth, rappin' on Othello (or as he called the moor "Big O")....It seems like I spent all four years of high school out there listening to him.
And when it came time for him to make his one and only feature film appearance, it was a foregone conclusion that he'd play Merlin in George Romero's modern Arthurian romance Knightriders (1981).
Typecasting to be sure, but what a natural!
The last time I saw him was maybe three years ago in front of the ART, it was clear time was at last digging it's claws into him, but he was still the friendliest most enthusiastic, most approachable of men.
He had many friends and no enemies, what more can be said of a superlative storyteller?

Rest in Peace Blue, put in a good word for us on the sidewalks of the hereafter, we are gonna need it.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

A belated word of thanks to

all our readers at this year's Bad Poets Society, the ranks were a bit thinner but the talent and zeal and hu-uge.

Sarah Bazydola
Gene Doucette
Jon Haber
Colin Buckley

and also our longer suffering "artist in residence" and the Bad Poets Society's director, Joseph Zamparelli Jr.

You guys all hold up the very heavens as far as I am concerned, again thanks.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

James McIntyre Invictus

Prophecy of a Ten Ton Cheese

In presenting this delicate, dainty morsel to the imagination of the people, I believed that it could be realized. I viewed the machine that turned and raised the mamoth cheese, and saw the powerful machine invented by James Ireland at the West Oxford companies factory to turn the great and fine cheese he was making there. This company with but little assistance could produce a ten ton cheese.

Who hath prophetic vision sees
In future times a ten ton cheese,
Several companies could join
To furnish curd for great combine
More honor far than making gun
Of mighty size and many a ton.

Machine it could be made with ease
That could turn this monster cheese,
The greatest honour to our land
Would be this orb of finest brand,
Three hundred curd they would need squeeze
For to make this mammoth cheese.

So British lands could confederate
Three hundred provinces in one state,
When all in harmony agrees
To be pressed in one like this cheese,
Then one skillful hand could acquire
Power to move British empire.

But various curds must be combined
And each factory their curd must grind,
To blend harmonious in one
This great cheese of mighty span,
And uniform in quality
A glorious reality.

But it will need a powerful press
This cheese queen to caress,
And a large extent of charms
Hoop will encircle in its arms,
And we do not now despair,
But we shall see it at world's fair.

And view the people all agog, so
Excited o'er it in Chicago,
To seek fresh conquests queen of cheese
She may sail across the seas,
Where she would meet reception grand
From the warm hearts in old England.

James McIntyre

And then there is James McIntyre, Canada's own delicated cheese lyricist. What makes his poetry so outstandingly bad aside from the dubious rhymes (exp: But it will need a powerful press This cheese queen to caress,)is that on the subject of cheese he is completely sincere! In fact over the course of his life, McIntyre managed to fill up an entire volume with nothing but poems about cheese. Of course by the turn of the century some sense of irony set in and his poems were syndicated mostly for their unintended comic effect thus proving bad poetry transcends the ages.
Anyhow let me remind you all, the Bad Poets Society returns to the Spiegel Auditorium at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education Tomorrow, Friday October 23rd at 8pm...admission a paltry $5 for a cornucopia of the world's worst verse! Once again we are deep in the throes of our research ceaselessly dredging poetry that makes last year's poesy look like freakin' Sophocles by comparison!
Don't miss it, now in it's tenth year (or so) of genteel substandard poetry mongering!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Ghod Bless Edgar Guest...

He is almost forgotten these days, but if he had not existed, the Bad Poets Society would have to invent him. No other "legacy bad poet" is quite so trite, self satisfied, banal and unctuously corny even by the standards of 1928 than was the late Mister Guest.
In his day though, he was a big deal, syndicated into hundreds of newspapers and magazines, collections of his poetry sold very well although today he is an absolute obscurity.
the reason for that is simple, lyric poetry is no longer a popular art form, one hundred years ago, even lowbrow publications like the Hearst newspapers all had full time poets on their rosters to compose suitable poetic copy - these days zilch nada.
A comparable will to poetry these days in a popular vein is exclusively founds in song writing, rap lyrics etc, no one writes odes to Mom's Apple Pie or their favorite overalls anymore, not at least the way Edgar Guest did.
Let us have a look at a typical Guestian effusion:

Hard Luck

Ain't no use as I can see
In sittin' underneath a tree
An' growlin' that your luck is bad,
An' that your life is extry sad;
Your life ain't sadder than your neighbor's
Nor any harder are your labors;
It rains on him the same as you,
An' he has work he hates to do;
An' he gits tired an' he gits cross,
An' he has trouble with the boss;
You take his whole life, through an' through,
Why, he's no better off than you.

If whinin' brushed the clouds away
I wouldn't have a word to say;
If it made good friends out o' foes
I'd whine a bit, too, I suppose;
But when I look around an' see
A lot o' men resemblin' me,
An' see 'em sad, an' see 'em gay
With work t' do most every day,
Some full o' fun, some bent with care,
Some havin' troubles hard to bear,
I reckon, as I count my woes,
They're 'bout what everybody knows.

The day I find a man who'll say
He's never known a rainy day,
Who'll raise his right hand up an' swear
In forty years he's had no care,
Has never had a single blow,
An' never known one touch o' woe,
Has never seen a loved one die,
Has never wept or heaved a sigh,
Has never had a plan go wrong,
But allas laughed his way along;
Then I'll sit down an' start to whine
That all the hard luck here is mine.

Edgar Albert Guest

I love the phony midwestern cadences, dialect poetry was very very big one hundred years ago, Rudyard Kipling wrote in a chest bursting barracks dialect for some of his best war-poems and the rest of the pack followed suit, James Whitcomb Riley being a notable Amercan practitioner as well as Edgar Guest.
These two lines are particularly significant:
An' growlin' that your luck is bad,
An' that your life is extry sad;

"Extry sad"?
Deliberately deploying bad english is always a sign the author wants to conceal something, or so George Orwell once reasoned. Here though, Guest is just slavishly desperate to rhyme in a fashion seemingly familiar and unthreatening to his audience.
Rest assured Guest churned out dreck like this on a daily basis for forty or more years and never once varied from his formula theThree S's "schmaltz, sentiment and self satisfaction". Like many of the other A-List bad poets down thru the years. Guest never ever betrayed the slightest artistic growth or even wavered in his perpetual interest in writing ever more lyrics in praise of his old fishing hat or some shoes he wears to do the gardening.
While Edgar Guest is technically proficient (compared to lyric ineptoid like William McGonagall), the sheer cataract of triteness that is his work marks the man down as unintentionally hilarious even at his most solemn.

Monday, October 12, 2009

William McGonagall, poet, tragedian & "Knight of the Burmese White Elephant"

Well know as the worst poet in the English Language, only received one paying poetry commission in his entire life.
The Sunlight Soap company paid him two guineas to compose some doggerel in praise of their product:

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.

Now THIS is a bad poem in extremis. The questionable rhyme in the first two lines, the wretched imagery, the complete failure to rhyme in lines seven and eight, reiterates soap twice in the same line, and to crown all McGongall inexplicably commends himself to charwomen "one and all" for a peroration.
And still Sunlight Soap paid him.
Gord Bambrick, has put forward the notion that McGonagall (who when weaving went bust took to the variety stage as a poet and occasional Shakespearean actor) deliberately wrote substandard poesy and in reading his word with pretended sincerity reaped definite financial rewards from playing the part of inept aspiring artist. This interpretation puts McGonagall closer to say Sacha Baron Cohen's Borat character than to a mere poetical bumbler.
Like Borat, McGonagall suffered for his art, "poet baiting" was all the rage in those days,local newspapers reported that the Poet was routinely pelted with rotten fruit in music halls all over Scotland.
For that privilege, McGonagall could count on wages around triple what a weaver could expect.
Bambrick's theory is interesting but I guess I'm a fundamentalist where McGonagall is concerned. I mean review the enclosed poem again, consider that he has been given a rare chance to write something with real commercial potential, if he turns in a good enough job who knows, maybe the "Burmese Knight of the White Elephant" can escape being cannonaded with old tomatoes in Glasgow?
And what does he do with this rare chance to escape? Nothing he turns in more of the rubbish he had been churning out for years, indeed he could do no other.
Well then again, McGonagall would not be the first artist to sell out for short money.

I guess...

this was NOT the day to try and comfort local sports fans with that old proverb, "It is only a game for God's sake!"

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Channel Zero is now

linking to the Happily Ever After" blog written by my old school chum Alexis Walker who wore a white lace bowler hat with a veil at her wedding.
I have the photos to prove it.
Anyway she is blogging about the romance novel genre (a gig she is trying to crack), I wish her well in all her endeavors.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Pick of the Week...

Undoubtably it is the House of Usher/Tomb of Ligeia double feature screening tonight both starring that Solon of Scariness, Vincent Price.
Alas owing to pressing family business I haven't been able to make full use of this Poe film series at the Brattle, however I did get out to see "The Black Cat" and "The Raven" last weekend.
"The Black Cat" (1934)is an incoherent mess but it is also the closest thing to gothic surrealism ever to star both Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi, who plays the nominal hero for once.
"The Raven" (1935) is just plain overwrought fun, Lugosi was already on the downside of his career and took to chewing the scenery like a starving man. Karloff is as always compulsively watchable even in a underwritten role as a monstrous henchman.

Monday, October 05, 2009

It is vaguely symbolic to be wandering around the

Bedford Mass Stop-n-Shop looking for bananas and Grape Nuts whilst Britney Spears is heard over the sound system warbling her paean to pederasty "No Longer a Girl, Not yet a Woman" (or whatever the hell it was called).
Honestly, imagine the sheer computer "programmability" that is routinely dedicated to making that young woman sound like a half competent twelve year old.
Imagine what good you could do with computer resources like that, fight third world AIDS, fly to the moon, any one of a number of things...But no first we've got to get Britney's tracks on key.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

On an errand of no great import

I found myself last Saturday afternoon down in the rehearsal spaces of the Berklee College of Music off Mass Ave. Strolling around down there is a amazement, perfect music issues from each and every rehearsal room, jazz, blues, piano concertos, kids jamming with electric guitars, it is the ultimate musical buffet to be sure.
Sure enough, I had a "Babbitt-ish" sort of thought, that is must be wonderful to be so young and gifted with music...Of course the kids lounging around the lobby likely felt differently, I had to gingerly step over a young girl's carelessly disgarded mandolin on my way out after all.
Ah youth ahhh whatever.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

On a day when one could not

visit one's father in the VA nursing home, then it is NOT recommended to be driving around Boston's Back Bay at twilight listening to "Siegfried's Funeral Dirge" by Richard Wagner.
Just a word of advice you unnerstan'.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Assuming this story is true...

then by a country mile, MacKenzie Phillips is still the reigning champ as The Most Messed Up Woman On the Face of the Earth.
I mean she had baggage as a teenaged TV starlet and she has even more today as a middle aged actress whatever it is, it just doesn't stop does it?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Jim Carroll is dead?

Helluva shame.
"Catholic Boy" was a great freakin' album, even if Jim's vocals did not justice even to Bob Dylan's celebrated wheezy croak.
And "The Basketball Diaries", great book, equal parts gritty and naive', truly Jim was the spiritual grandson of the Beats in every way, same spontaneous prose, same fascination with states of addiction and purity and the same spirit of urban adventure.
I used to listen to "City Drops into the Night" to pysche myself up for rehearsal back in my wandering days as a freshmen in one of Southern New Hampshire's Most Prestigious Catholic Colleges.
Catholic Boy indeed.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

My Last Three Movies:

"The World's Greatest Dad" (2009) Directed by Bobcat Goldthwait - Robin Williams stars as a shleppy high school teacher who profits from faking his son's suicide (the lout in fact expired from auto-erotic asphyxiation) and then can't take the guilt and shame of his fraud. Yup, after a long haitus, Robin Williams is back scrounging for street cred in a low budget black comedy. Unfortunately his sense of sheer chutzpah has been dulled by years of easy ass work in dreck like "Patch Adams"or sentimental trash like "RV", that plus the fact that the script while audacious is light on laughs makes for an indifferent viewing experience. However mega props to Daryl Sabara who turns in a bravura performance as Williams' thoroughly appalling teenaged son whose death sets the whole mishaugas rolling.

"District 9" (2009) Directed by Neil Blomkamp - BEST sci-fi movie I've seen all summer! Directed by an unknown and full of unknown South African actors, I mean who knew???
Unsightly insectoid aliens land in South Africa, where they are immediately segregated into a giant shanty town and exploited mercilessly. Eventually their numbers grow to the point where the government resolves to relocate them to a concentration camp. Sharlto Copley plays a geeky bureaucrat charged with running the forced re-location at least until he gets exposed to some secret alien goo and starts mutating into one of them!
Science fiction preachments is one of the hardest genres to get right, so it is nice to see a good honest stab at using the prism of speculative fiction to examine issues of class and race, somewhere in Valhalla, Rod Serling is wiping away a tear.

Inglourious Basterds (2009) Directed by Quentin Tarantino - Well I wanted to like this one very much, I am normally a big QT apologist, but this film just rambles way too much despite its many virtues. chiefly a great star turn from Brad Pitt as "Aldo the Apache" a US Army commando sent to France with an all Jewish guerilla team to harass the Nazis in preparation for the Normandy invasion. Well they get mixed up in a bid to kill Hitler and the Nazi high command at a Paris film premiere. this all sounds great and a perfect set up for the old Tarantino ultra-violence, but the Basterds of the title get sidetracked half way thru the film while Melanie Laurent's story (a vengeful Jewish Theater owner in Paris) and Diane Kruger's arc (a turncoat German actress) hold sway. In short the story meanders horribly.
And another thing, Tarantino has a gift for great dialogue it is very baroque but the ear tunes to it naturally, when it is rendered as German or French subtitles something is definitely lost.
Nonetheless the performances are all very strong especially Eli Roth as a vengeful member of the Basterds and Christoph Walz as a Jew-hunting member of the SS, all very recognizable Tarantino character types. And let me take a moment to note that whatever else is lacking in this film, Tarantino does have the courage of his convictions, other directors would make a long discursive arc around the issue of historic accuracy, not Quentin though, he wants to put Hitler and Goering in a Parisian fire fight and damn the consequences, too bad the film is never more than the sum of it's parts.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Disney acquires Marvel Comics...

For what seems to me a bargain price of 4 billion USD, I mean the film rights alone to all five thousand assorted characters ought to be worth that along and here the Mouse gets the publishing division and assorted licensing goodies in the bargain.
Of course all this commerce is ironic when you consider that Marvel rose to market predominance in the early 1970's on the basis of a grim-n-gritty "heroes with problems" motif that was an explicit and very profitable repudiation of their rival DC's comics more "Disney-esque" version of super heroics.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

My esteemed and honorable father

still in the rehab hospital recovering from a broken hip got off a good line about the late Senator Kennedy yesterday.
He was heard to mutter from the fastness of his wheelchair:
"If there are no politics in Heaven, then Teddy Kennedy won't stay".

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

"How Teddy Kennedy followed me to Leningrad"

(I shook the man's hand three times maybe in forty six years, this is the closest thing I have to an anecdote about our late Senior Senator)

Once upon a time in 1983, I went on a student tour of the olde Soviet Union, I had a great time, the Hermitage alone in Leningrad would have been a bargain at twice the price. Every night from one end of the USSR to the other my fellow students and I gathered in the US dollar loving Intourist Hotel bar, where we drank razor sharp vodka and shamelessly well undergraduates.
On our last night in Leningrad a cadre of tall blonde college students from the USA crept into the bar, they ordered fruit juice they insinuated themselves into our group as they spoke "american".
Sure enough they were undergrads from Wheaton College, the "other" Wheaton College, the Bible School and well known manufacturer of Protestant Ministers and their wives.
Turns out their student tour was a sort of pilgrimage combined with some old fashioned bible smuggling; "witnessing" they called it. "Well if they wanna witness the business side of a KGB lock-up who am I to judge" thought I, an expansive US Patriot to the last.
They were a convivial if uptight bunch and turned a blind eye to our lavish consumption of vodka, one interesting sidelight, each male student was assigned to "chaperone" a female student, everywhere it seemed they moved in robotic blonde pairs.
That alone counted as one of the strangest sights I saw in the Land of the Bolsheviks and I personally saw Lenin's waxen "corpse" deep under Red Square.
Fruit juice loosened this bunch's tongues after a while, they started chiding me none too gently about being from Massachusetts" the awful stomping ground of that terrible man Teddy Kennedy.
I went to a private Catholic College in New Hampshire so I was used to this sort of genial abuse from auslanders, Finally thought that sweet Russian lemonade made one of them bold and he asked in astonishment "I don't get it? WHY do you keep voting for that guy he is a monster!"
I smiled and said "Cause he knows how to handle people like you!"
Yeah that was the vodka talking to be sure I recognize the tone.
And y know in the Hotel Leningrad by the Neva River, under the very rigging of the cruiser Aurora, I finally came of age as a Boston Irishman...Because I fired off that rejoinder with such a fine hibernian smile and wink that my target merely laughed a trifle uneasily and moved on to discussing the glories of the Winter Palace.
And my friends is how Edward Moore Kennedy caught up with me in the Soviet Union.

A moment of silence please...

Edward Moore Kennedy has died.


Rest in Peace Teddy, class you had unto the last.

Nothing left for me to do, but announce my candidacy for the United States Senate.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Is this a bad poem?

As you all know the Bad Poets Society convenes Friday October 23rd at 8pm at the Spiegel Auditorium in Harvard Square. For once though, I'm gonna play it differently and give everyone an early glimpse at the selection process behind BPS. Below is some poesy written by Vaudeville Star Olga Petrova (aka Muriel Harding) she got into a hopeless row with the famous Keith-Albee vaudeville circuit circa 1916 or so when she insisted on reading the below poem as part of her act.
The poem was derided as "indecent" much to the chagrin of Ms. Petrova.
My question is simple, take a moment to read this poem and ask yourself these questions "Is it bad, is it bad enough to warrant inclusion in the Bad Poets Society if so what makes it bad?"

"To a Child that Enquires"
by Olga Petrova (nee' Muriel Harding)

How did you come to me, my sweet?
From the land that no man knows?
Did Mr. Stork bring you here on his wings?
Were you born in the heart of a rose?

Did an angel fly with you down from the sky?
Were you found in a gooseberry patch?
Did a fairy bring you from fairyland
To my door - That was left on the latch?

No - My darling was born of a wonderful love,
A love that was daddy's and mine.
A love that was human, but deep and profound,
A love that was almost divine.

Do you remember, sweetheart, when we went to the Zoo?
And we saw that big bear, with a grouch?
And the tigers, and lions, and that tall kangaroo
That carried her babies in a pouch?

Do you remember I told you she kept them there safe
From the cold and the wind, till they grew
Big enough to take care of themselves,
Well, dear heart, that's just how I cared for you.

I carried you under my heart, my sweet,
And I sheltered you, safe from alarms,
Till one wonderful day the dear God looked down -
And I cuddled you tight in my arms!

Well whaddya think is it bad? Post a comment one way or another I'm on the fence with this one.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Mark your Calendars!

It is Official, the Bad Poets Society returns to the Spiegel Auditorium at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education Friday October 23rd at 8pm...admission a paltry $5 for a cornucopia of the world's worst verse! Once again we are deep in the throes of our research ceaselessly dredging poetry that makes last year's poesy look like freakin' Sophocles by comparison!
Don't miss it, now in it's tenth year (or so) of genteel substandard poetry mongering!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Harvard University (AKA "Big Red")

has apparently sanctioned the creation of a "signature clothes line" under the trademark "The Harvard Yard".

The clothes look patently retro-ridiculous, i think one of those belts in the link above may well be a necktie...And the model looks like a recovering skinhead. Oh course that isn't his fault, the very God Apollo himself would look like a buffoon in that gear.

Moreover other than mere money why would Harvard University want to get in on a racket where Miley Cyrus and SpongeBob Squarepants are the biggest most profitable players?

Sunday, August 09, 2009

The best movie I've seen so far this summer

Is Kathryn Bigelow's "The Hurt Locker", a story of an adrenaline-addicted bomb disposal technician wandering the wastelands of Iraq in search of his next big ass rush. The rest of the guys in his squad are on the brink of fragging this poor driven schnook since his style inevitably takes everyone to the brink of destruction along the way.
To be sure it IS an action movie, a war movie even...But one with taut dialogue, great acting and a unique combat setting.

For years now I'd written off Kathryn Bigelow as an interesting artistic failure, Near Dark was great but she had serious plot plausibility issues in her two subsequent police procedurals "Blue Steel" and "Point Break".
Here at last though, she seems to have found her genre and a cast (Of unknowns no less) who can put the script over sans worry or woe.
Clearly I underestimated her, looking forward to her next film.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Wouldn't it have been funny if...

Sir Paul McCartney had opted to sing some of Neil Innes Beatles' homages instead of his usual Fab Four repertoire? It has to be cheaper for McCartney to sing those Rutles songs than the mad phat royalties he has to pay to SONY on his own music!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Twelfth Night (Shakespeare & Co)

Tina Packer is a sorceress, a conjurer, a Doctor Frankenstein who got it all right in the end. patiently year after year, from behind the granite fastness of the Berkshires she has found the artists, inspired the directors, built the audience and secured a venue. A home in other words, fit for the immortal bard of Stratford on Avon, year after year nigh un-noticed the little old ladies from Long Island and Hudson Counties, the hep families, the debased aesthetes like me stream into Lenox imbibe the years's offerings and then leave heartened, fortified and ready for any deed.
This year Jonathan Croy a long standing member of the company directs a hi-freakin-larious version of "Twelfth Night, Or What You Will". This is the sort of comedy that S&C can execute in their sleep but don't think that means the company is resting on their laurels, trust me they do this sumbitch up big. Kudos to exuberant scenery chewer Elizabeth Raetz as Olivia, otherwise a Lovelorn Duchess who chases girl-disguised-as-boy Viola with all the subtlety of the Coyote's pursuit of the Road Runner. In her they have a actress with a deft talent for comedy, both the clever repartee and the well time pratfall she is a keeper believe me. Merritt Janson's Viola is no slouch either, cute, winsome, blessed with impeccable timing and a face seemingly carved by the Gods of Theater for shameless mugging, another keeper to be sure.
Ah it just did my heart good to see Johnny Lee Davenport (AKA "Mister Thunder and Lightning") up on the big stage of the Founders Theater, sure he did double time in smaller supporting roles but he is a treasure to the legit theater, a big confidant stentorian ahhhhctorrrr who has no fear whatsoever of making a fool of himself in search of big larfs. For such as these did Shakespeare take pen in hand all those centuries ago.

In fact Twelfth Night is clearly Jonathan Croy's love letter to the imperial glory days of Chuck Jones' Looney Tunes' animated shorts...I can pay it no higher praise, sell the house, sell the spouse, sell the kids, make flank speed to the open sea, whatever it takes to get to Lenox Ma. to see Twelfth Night, you will not be sorry.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Nothing in the way of posts lately

haven't been doing much since my Dad fractured his hip and ended up in a Rehab Hospital...mostly been trotting over there most nights to see what I can do.
He is making good progress but eighty-eight is eighty eight so it's fair to say things won't be the same after this.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Am I the only person in the world who thinks that

Michael Jackson's "We are the World" is one of the most grotesquely narcissistic songs ever written?
And then there is the music video, one hundred of the music industry's best and brightest all giving themselves a nice loving rhetorical hummer right there in color on camera.
Honestly, Michael Jackson co-wrote the lyrics, so you just know the original draft was entitled "I am the World".
Okay chill, I KID, I kid because I love...I love to kid. Sure a lot of money got raised for famine relief but a lot of egos got buffed and polished as well...just sayin'.

Still...I forgot how Ray Charles' voice just soared over that mishaugas, gives me chills even today.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

A Ghoulish moment on the Red Line

Reading the unexpurgated text of Michael Jackson's Last Will and Testament, courtesy of the Boston Metro. The will itself is about as much fun to read as a well executed Bill of Lading.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Star Trek (2009)

Kudos to J.J. Abrams for figuring out that Kirk, Spock and McCoy et al are characters in the end that can played again and again by the right cast.
And it is in the casting that the new Star Trek franchise is the strongest, Chris Pine finds Captain Kirk quite easily without recourse to any of William Shatner's iconography, Zachary Quinto's Mister Spock is a post-Nimoy revelation and I expect great things from Karl Urban's Doctor McCoy.

Too bad the script is such a paint by the numbers affair with a bloodless villain and storyline that heavily recalls "Star Trek Nemesis" (2002), the last gasp of the Next Generation's run in feature films.
in truth I begin to think that there are no more Star Trek stories left to tell the franchise has soldiered on thru FIVE television series a stack of films, thousands of awful paperbacks...Honestly is there any creative water left in the well?
As long as the writers and producers are fixated on recreating the whole space battle motif behind "The Wrath of Khan" then I suspect they'll get maybe two more sequels out of this admittedly impeccable cast before they hit another creative wall.
Then again they might get something cool going, but they have to lay off all the "Master and Commander" in outer space stuff and try boldly going somewhere new and different.
Maybe do some exploring when is the last time anyone did any of that in a Star Trek franchise?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Sean Penn has apparently dropped out of the Farrelly's Brother's proposed Three Stooges picture...

Am I the only blogger on Ghod's Green Earth who is appalled that a charmless collection of goyim are all champin' at the bit to play the fabled middle stooge??

The fact that anyone is reviving the Stooges at all is a strong indicator that the end times may be upon us.

As funny as the old Columbia two reelers were, the whole filmography was factory output.
Who the hell wants to remake factory output anyway?
Frankly, it is a mere accident of American Culture that the Stooges are such cultural icons today since their colleagues at Columbia from Sterling Holloway to Buster Keaton and the sadly forgotten Charlie Chase all did equally worthwhile work at the time.
Hell as far as I am concerned, that Curley's replacement Shemp who also had his own series of solo two-reelers did his best work alone!

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Notes to a screening of "Land of the Lost" at the Tri Town Drive In

Will Ferrell is never gonna rise above being Will Ferrell, Chaplin was the Tramp, Jerry Lewis was the Kid, John Belushi was Bluto...Ferrell is ....well a the same clueless egomaniac in every film....Ron Burgundy over and over again.
And what the hell, the public loves it...I can't say much thought for opening a can of satiric whoop-ass on a minor Saturday Morning sci fi show like "Land of the Lost" constitutes some great comedic departure for all concerned...On the other hand I laughed more than I thought I would (which seems to be my half hearted refrain this summer), and the movie did look great on that big-ass outdoor screen.
Speaking of which I must report with some anger that someone tossed a rock thru the screen at some point last week leaving a small hole in the lower right hand corner.
Nothing too huge mind you, but just enough to mar what is otherwise a fresh looking screen.
Hopefully it will be fixed soon as vandalism like that should not be tolerated.
if Governor Patrick wants to be re-elected by a wide margin next year he ought to come out hard for a law making it a felony to vandalize Drive In screens...Venues like the Mendon and the Tri Town are rare and should not be subjected to this kind of abuse.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

"Mine that Bird" is my pony in today's Belmont Stakes

lacking a horse as a triple crown contender, then the only game in town is jockey Calvin Borel's improbable bid to beat thirty odd steeds to the roses.
And besides, if Borel will win it'll mean something to him, he will turn somersaults in the saddle it'll be fun television at least.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Notes to a screening of "Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian"

Of everything you could think of, who'd a thunk Ben Stiller would end up a family film star??
Well, I snark and I shouldn't as I laughed a whole lot more than I expected at the above movie, that is pretty damn amazing considering that the director, Shawn Levy has a long rap sheet composed of lame sequels.
Let me also single out Hank Azaria who is particularly hilarious with a real gift for redeeming mediocre material. His pouncey evil Pharaoh character neatly bookends his more heroic "Blue Rajah" routine from the unjustly overlooked "Mystery Men". I wish someone would write him some a-list material, th' man has a real talent for comedy.
Oh and forgive my Geek Bona Fides but I'd swear that Amy Adams' sexy tomboyish Amelia Earhart characterization could easily serve as a audition to play Cousin Pat Savage in a notional Doc Savage motion picture?
But the real good news is that the Tri Town Drive in out in Fitchburg has recently repaired and power-washed it's GIANT outdoor screen giving new life to this last of the almighty outdoor movie venues. If you have a big budget action comedy or fantasy film you have to see this summer, honestly it's worth the mishaugas to see it at the Tri's like they have a whole new screen....hell I'm in love all over again.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Sat next to a woman on the Red Line from Alewife this morning

who was delicately sipping her morning coffee out of what appeared to be an old fruit jar.

So from that I deduce that we haven't quite hit rock bottom in this recession.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

A Proclamation:

That hereafter the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend be known henceforth as "Squalus Day" set aside as a remembrance of all those members of the United States Armed Forces who died during peacetime.

They too, paid the ultimate sacrifice and the Commonwealth is hereby encouraged to remember those soldiers and sailors in their thoughts and prayers.

Duly proclaimed under my authority as a Marshal of the Commonwealth (self anointed) on this day the 24th of May in the year of Our Lord Two Thousand and Nine.

Long Live the Republic
Long Live the Commonwealth

Saturday, May 16, 2009

My new Hero(ine)

Rachel Alexandra, the filly what just won the Preakness, first time in eighty five years a girl-horse has won that race and from the post position of doom, unlucky #13.
Calvin Borel, that shameless showboat with the golden gut for picking winning long shots, rode her to glory and back, he is still playing to the crowd as I write this...Just an amazing run, man and horse.
Oh and Mine that Bird (the Derby's improbable 50 to 1 winner) came in second finishing in the money and dispelling all that "lucky fluke" snarkage quite nicely.
Great race, of course, my horse Pioneerof the Nile" ran in the opposite direction when the bell rang...but that is triple crown par for the course with me. I couldn't pick a winner if one horse was running.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

If the Green Line (Inbound) from Copley to Park Street

ran any slower during afternoon rush hour, alert science minded riders could actually visually discern Heisenberg's uncertainty principle in action.
Ever since that cockamammie accident last Friday night, the T's response has been to slow down the Green Line to the point of suspended animation. Honestly what are these Morlocks thinking? One of these days service levels will decline to the point where passengers will mutiny and attempt to seize the train, trolley or bus...mark my words on this.
I've said it before and I will say it again, I rode passenger trains from Tallinn Estonia to Leningrad at the height of the stagnation days under Yuri Andropov, and you could set your watch to those sonsabitches!
For that fact, I was in NYC last week I rode the #6 train and N train and spent precious time languishing stopped in tunnels for "schedule adjustments".

Saturday, May 02, 2009

50 to 1

It is always a victory for the rest of us when an obscure horse with an unknown trainer lands in the roses at the Kentucky Derby. Such is the case with "Mine that Bird" a race horse bought for $9,500.00 and taken to glory by jockey Calvin Borel who is still whooping like Geronimo and playing to the crowd even as I write this.
My horse..."Hold Me Back" (a reputed mudder)...Lived up to his name...i'm not sure he even left his stall when the horn blew.


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Hope Endures, Pride Detonates...

In the current issue of the Boston Phoenix,Trent Othick, producer of "A Bronx Tale", has denounced Boston Phoenix critic Carolyn Clay's review of his play calling for her replacement and bequeathing her "Our Asshole Critic Award".
It is to say the least a very very hot-headed letter to the editor.
I think we can rest assured that Ms. Clay's review was perfectly spelled, copy-edited and no doubt signed with dignity by the critic in question.

Which just goes to show, you can connect the dots to perfection and still end up getting flamed.


Saturday, April 25, 2009

Health note

If walking a nine mile hike on the Minuteman Bike Trail then one ought to refrain from taking any potent anti-histamines before hitting the asphalt. You'll make good time unmolested by coughing or snuffling for an hour or so, but thereafter your gait will devolve into a stagger that would do justice to a "Night of the Living Dead" audition.
The consequences of which were, everyone gave me a wide berth on the last three miles back to my car.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Heard in the Arlington Street Green Line Stop last night

A single mournful violinist bowing away at the end of that long Orwellian hallway. Beautiful music, and yet another anonymous contribution to the cause of civilization deep in the cavernous redoubts of the MBTA.
I knew not his name nor even his favored on line pseudonym but that didn't change the restful and soothing nature of his playing.
Frankly without anonymons like this, society could well board up the shop and decamp for the caves.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Watchmen (2009)

is Zack Snyder kidding or something?

I mean, he didn't so much adapt the beloved graphic novel as his simply transcribed it to the big screen, complete with casting that slavishly replicated the original character designs.
Or rather, Snyder simply paged thru the trade paperback and used to post-it notes to high-light his favorite scenes...The ones he was desperate to execute on film.
The result is a sort of peppy wax-works show with atomic explosions and such.
I will give Snyder credit though, he did try to purge Moore's original ending of it's almighty clunkiness, he didn't succeed but he did try which means he put a little more thought into the project than mere toadying reverence.
I think the problem there is, Moore probably wanted to really blow up the rather nasty civilization he'd created with a nuclear war in the end and for some reason, either he was compelled to generate a happy ending or else his nerve failed him for once. So instead we are stuck with a shopworn "Outer Limits" routine that does read or film particularly well.
Generally I liked the cast though, even if Alan Moore's dialogue sounds leaden when spoken, I guess it was meant to be read in the comic book format exclusively.
I used to think that Alan Moore's aversion to film adaptations of his own work was intolerable egomania of a kind, now I think he is justified in keeping his distance.
Otherwise the man has a touch of Hemingway to his work as it does not adapt well to film.
Well, what does it matter anyway?
Wasn't the damn thing executed on paper back in the 1980s and executed well?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Nothing says class quite like a

maroon dress fez, tassel and all. Such as the case last night at the Shriner's Auditorium in Wilmington where the Boston Roller Derby Dames went all up in a four hour extravaganza featuring the Boston Massacre versus the Philadelphia Liberty Belles in the Main Event.
The Boston Phoenix has been sporadically covering the Boston Roller Derby Dames since their inception in 2005, so at long last I decided to see what th' hoo-ha was about.
Alas and alack the Massacre got well...massacre'd by Philly, nevertheless I'm thinking women's roller derby may well become my new athletic passion if only I can suss out the sport's scoring matrix.
Some will criticize the sport's lavish use of provocative and anonymous pseudonyms for both the players and the referees (expl: Krushpuppy, Pussy Venom), but I say the audience, all seven hundred of them are anonymons as well so far as the players are everyone is in on the conspiracy.
And all this for but $16.00 with a bar attached and lavish opportunities to meet the players if that is your don't see that kind of fan friendliness on Lansdowne Street.
And believe me, these women are real athletes, they are taking hard spills and high speed collisions all on a concrete if it is raw courage you are looking for, the Shriner's Auditorium is a good place to start.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Gave my seat up to an elderly blind woman

on the Red Line this morning. She blithely sat down, produced a flute from her bag and began playing tunes all the way to Park Street Station, which is where I got off.
For all I know she'll rehearse sans worry or woe in that subway car all the way to Braintree.
I didn't know her name, she was a complete anonymon to to me, but that of course didn't alter the general high quality of her playing.
J'es a thought for the day, thass all.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Where else but during a Transit Police sweep of

"bags-n-parcels" at Alewife Station can one enjoy the slightly loutish spectacle of three florid faced MBTA coppers pawing gingerly thru a lady's purse?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Springtime in Menotomy...

As soon as the buds come out on the trees, you can safely throw out your alarm clocks.
There is no need, none....the sweet airs if spring itself will waft you out of bed.
For when the snow melts and the thermometer hits fifty degrees, the landscaping companies inevitably roll in at 6:50am EST and start up with the blowers, and hedge-trimmers and sundry noise makers. And if that ain't enough they'll hire a few high school drop outs to beat on empty oil drums with lug wrenches.

I tells yuh it is enough to put the steam back in a man's step.

The Red Line in full screech mode is quieter than my street right and it'll stay this way right thru June at least. Everyone is intent even in these recession wracked times on transforming their arid backyard strips into something akin to the Peterhof.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Superheroine Monologues (April 10th thru the 26th at the Boston Playwright's Theater)

There are times when you really wanna believe in a play very badly especially a play about A-list super heroines...and after all who doesn't like Wonder Woman and Batgirl?
Well liking certain characters isn't the same as doing well by them. So I guess local writer-performers John Kuntz and Rick Park deserve kudos for at least trying to do something different and zany with a disparate group of well know comic book super heroines. I just wish the result was less labored.
It is a well worn set up, this time a bunch of super heroines, (Wonder Woman, Lois Lane, Storm from the X-Men etc etc) regale an audience with their real story, the heartbreak, the self revelations, the pain the anguish and all the usual gags about lip gloss, period piece jokes and lingering crushes on Shaun Cassidy.
The show is sad to say, wildly uneven to say the least, with Elizabeth "Catwoman" Brunette, Amanda "Lois Lane" Good-Hennessey and Shawna "Wonder Woman" O'Brien as the show's stand-out performances.
In fact, I suspect Ms. Brunette to be a successful clone of Julie Newmar...I mean the resemblance is that close and as for Ms. O'Brien if a Wonder Woman feature film ever gets off the ground, she deserves an audition she is that good.
The rest of the cast has to get by on being merely excellent in every way...too bad the writing disappoints on a irritatingly regular basis...cuz these actresses are in there punching away with gusto. In particular I'd like to do a quick shout out to Christine "Phoenix" Power and Jackie "Supergirl" McCoy who never flagged for a moment despite being saddled with some very dubious material in their monologues.
Yes indeed this is a soft-R-rated show with heavy use of lesbianism, homosexuality, mommy-daughter conflicts and OCD to sell the drama and set up the laughs. By the time poor Melissa "Batgirl" Baroni takes to the stage you can tell the writer's are playing a tangled game of "connect the Big Ticket Problem to the heroine", as a consequence the show bogs down, a lot.
This is a shame, because the show does have good quota of laughs but the need to be...relevant and or contemporary just kills things time and again. For example an attempt to orientate Catwoman's origin with the assassination of Bobby Kennedy simply imposes a tasteless graceless moment into an otherwise su-freakin' perb performance by Elizabeth Brunette.
By the time we stagger to the epilogue spotlighting an older careworn Wonder Woman (now played with panache by the Bette Davis-esque Maureen Aducci) everyone was checking their watches and shifting uncomfortably in their seats. Moralizing and gags (however funny) about the Incredible Hulk's man-junk just don't mix.
Costume roles are tough, either you bond with the costume and sell it hard or you feel like a horse's ass in your cape and boots, let the record show all these women owned it from start to finish.
I wish to stress, this was a great cast in every way, I can pay these women no higher compliment than to note that we'd love to get any of them to read at the next bad Poets Society....cuz their individual charisma came thru loud and clear. All I can say is, Cheryl Singleton, are you available in October??

And if Rick Park and John Kuntz (who have talent by reputation so I am told) are serious about this script they could easily cut the whole mishaugas down to a very tight and much funnier 75 minutes sans worry or woe.
Think on it guys, that cast you have is one in a million.

"Milk" (2008)

Sean Penn is one of the finest actors of our times...but he does drive me crazy. For every misbegotten project like "All the Kings Men" (Three limeys and kid from New Jersey playing Huey Long's gang...I mean you do the math) he will scintillate in something like "Milk" the story of the rise and untimely death of San Francisco gay-liberation pioneer Harvey Milk.
That is by all measures a difficult role, and ghod bless Sean, he tackles it head on, he needs to kiss and fondle other men, screw it he'll do it without a second thought. There are TONS of men on the A-list in Tinseltown who would flee such a role the way a vampire flees the cross...I can't imagine George Clooney taking those kinds of chances, and hell I LIKE George Clooney.
Well in this case, Sean stands alone in his characterization as one of American Liberalism's lesser known martyrs, because he is fearless Harvey Milk's best qualities come thru loud and clear...the faith in deomcracy, the desire to live outside the closet sans reproach, the compassion, the talent and the zeal. All of that would've never come thru at all if the homosexuality was underplayed or worse simply botched...Sean got it right and for that he deserves all his plaudits.
But Sean, for the love of Ghod steer clear of dreck like "The Assassination of Richard Nixon".

Thursday, April 02, 2009

"Coriolanus" at the Somerville Armory

At last an Actor's Shakespeare Project production I can wholeheartedly gimmicks, no caberet casting, just good solid acting top to bottom Benjamin Evett scintillates as the title character a bloodthirsty mama's boy general exiled from Rome who turns on his former patrons til mother dearest (a top notch Bobbie Steinbach) talks him out of it with tragic consequences.
All in all I have no complaints save the fact that the initial hand to hand combat between Coriolanus and his mortal enemy and future "ally" the he Voscis General Aufidius is reduced to a somewhat childish noise-making contest enacted in a cage that sildes around the stage on rollers.
But it's a strong performance-centric show...Coriolanus isn't a very sympathetic character, he berates the Roman commoners like they were farm animals and refuses to put any of his virtues in their service leaving them prey to the manipulations of the cynical tribunes.
And when push comes to shove, who does he defer to, his loudmouthed mother who pleas for mercy are only eloquent enough to get Coriolanus killed.
Y' know I don't think Shakespeare liked his Romans, Caesar is a tyrannical stiff, Titus Andronicus is self satisfied jerk, Marc Antony is self destructive and Coriolanus...well he is fatally immature sez I.
One suspects, Shakespeare was trying to warn his own era about the perils of imperial politics...I just don't think the Bard thought much of the Roman overclass.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


The mighty mighty Tri-Town Drive in up in Lunenberg is firing up this weekend with a killer combo of Paul Blart Mall Cop and Grand Torino....knockabout comedy and Clint Eastwood, the very essence of the drrive in experience!

Things can't be all bad if the Drive In's still endure, patronize them frequently this summer!!!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Frost/Nixon (2008)

Ron Howard is fundamentally a director of hope. Maybe it's all the apple pie he ate at the craft table on the set of "The Andy Griffith Show"...who know?
But he has an Obama-esque sunny-side up artistic disposition that is for sure.
So credit him for some irony when he can a former Dracula of the stage and screen, Frank Langella as disgraced US President Richard Milhous Nixon in a film detailing his fateful duel with TV interviewer David Frost in 1977.
Both men are strivers you see, Frost (played by chipper chirpy Michael Sheen) wants to use the legitimacy of a Nixon interview to burnish his record and improve his negotiating position with the tv networks.
Nixon is bored and humiliated in retirement, he longs for vindication even if it is nothing more than artfully avoiding any admission of criminal wrongdoing on the air.
Langella's heavy awkward performance anchors the film he makes even Nixon's undeniable cunning seems somehow maladroit....Tricky Dick can out-manuever but he can't really ever convince anyone and so he goes stumbling on and on never a pratfall nor can stand upright either.
Frost of course, initially can't get a handle on Nixon until one night Tricky Dick calls up in a serious drunken funk railing against the elites and the liberals who looked down on him, all his life.
And in a moment, Frost gets it, Nixon the middle class striver derives nothing but pain from all his striving, he hates cajoling people, he has no time for frivolity....he is a misanthrope in short.
Frost on the other hand, glories in his striving, the whole Nixon interview is another rung on the ladder to loves it, the other loathes it.
Left alone, he'd be fine, pushing himnself into the public arena yields up only Watergate....
And so armed, Frost at last gives Nixon the great confrontation with the phantom liberal elite he so vocally loathes and forces the old man to something akin to guilt.
For this, Nixon thanks him later on, and dubs Frost a "worthy adversary"...indeed what some men will do to avoid playing cribbage on the porch once retired.
Can't say that Frost/Nixon is Howard's best film, indeed I'm not sure he is truly touched with greatness but here at least he got outside his favored genre and delivered up something different.

Sighted on the Red Line this morning...

a hugely pregnant blonde calmly & expertly knitting a pair of blue socks...guess she knows the gender thass all I can say.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

On a second reading of the Adventures of Tom Sawyer and the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

At some point in your life, you need to re-read Twain. Melville can survive on one reading if you know what to highlight...but Twain is a great misleader of youth and must needs a perusal in middle age to see if he holds up.
After all, he rules the high schools of this great Republic....Huck Finn in particular is assigned reading all over the nation.
tom Sawyer is still a god-damned funny book, you really do get the impression of Tom at loose ends in what amounts to a barbarian camp in pre-civil war Missouri. Riddled with superstition, poisoned by slavery, debased by revealed religion the mythical town of Saint Petersburg is the last stop before the wasteland.
And there in the middle of the street, stands Tom Sawyer that boyish American Sigfried, bound and determined to wring all the diversion he can out of a deadbeat hayseed village.
Mostly he succeeds in between the inevitable beatings from his school-master, his aunt, the local clergy etc etc.
Tom like Clark Kent and the aforementioned Sigfried is an orphan, instead of being raised by woodland elves and dwarves, he has to put up with his Aunt Polly's lackluster supervision, mostly he pays it lip service and goes on his merry way as much as possible.
Still and all that, you get the impression for all his adventures real and imagined, nothing much will come of Tom. Defiant though he is, in the end, time adulthood, revealed religion and superstition will combine to make a dreary clod of him. He has peaked in boyhood.
Huck Finn on the other hand shows growth potential thru-out the nominal sequel. Originally he is a somewhat cowardly sidekick for Tom, by the time though Huck escapes his tyrannical drunken father and takes to the river with Jim the runaway slave he is a veritable American Ulysses in fine fettle and ready for any deed.
Tom is a pretty interesting kid, but he'll grow up to be a fairly nondescript man, Huck on the other hand comes from the American frontier wasteland and is one his way to being a adult and even a hero.
What unites the books is the paucity of worthwhile adults, in Tom Sawyer they are all scolds and fools in Huck Finn they are all crooks and even killers.
No wonder Huck flees down the river, he is shedding off civilization...he even gives up any pretense that Jim might be inferior to him and openly conspires to deliver the negro to freedom...purely out of friendship and a heroic devotion to a higher duty.
The books are both wonderful in short....they survive a middle aged re-reading nicely. To Mark Twain western literature in the 19th century owes a lot, he broke the hold of ponderous empire worshipping English Prose with it's doorstop dimensions and gaseous rhetoric of sheer nullity. Twain's dialogue crackles and his characters burst thru the page, everyone else at the time was writing by the yard, Twain wrote for the ages.

In Defense of Eliza....

IF you can believe it, Nancy Frankin in the March 2nd issue of the New Yorker, dismissed Eliza Dushku (star of "The Doll House" on Fox Friday nights) as an honors graduate of "The Royal Academy of Cleavage".
Stuff and nonsense!
Why the young lady has a long honorable legacy in Hollywood devolving from the first action heroines of the movies, Pearl White and her sistas in the silent serials. Those women had gumption, they drove trains, crashed airplanes and got their backsides out of danger all by themselves for the most part.
Those were the empire days of the serials, all the heroes were women and a muli-talented self reliant lot they were too.
Those serials made millions and the Nancy Franklins of the era dismissed them all as decorous trash....not realizing genres were being created, walls were coming down.
Yup there is a touch of Linda Stirling and even Cynthia Rothrock in her DNA, all ballsy dames whose first and best instinct was to bust heads sans demure.
I do not know if "The Doll House" will be any more successful than "Tru Calling" her other lamentably unsuccessful series...but I do know that in a well run republic we ought to have have Eliza Dushku gunning a Harley Davidson thru a boardroom filled with thugs and brutes, blazing away with pearl handled revolvers and howling like Slim Pickens atop the H-Bomb all on a weekly basis.
Couldn't care less about the set up, just wanna watch Eliza D. bash thugs and brutes over the head with a candelabra.
Is THAT so much to ask??????

Monday, March 02, 2009

Whoever was driving the 84 bus inbound today...

deserves a freakin' service medal of some type. Damn bus pulled up at the corner of Park and Wachusett in deep in the hills-n-hollers of Arlington Heights, picked up all comers and relentlessly trudged down the Route 2 access road to there safe and sound and in a reasonably timely fashion...I mean who knew?!!!!
When things go wrong on the T, you wanna smack Dan Grabauskas upside the head, when things go right, you wanna kiss the driver....all things considered I recommend neither impulse to my readership.
Now if only I can avoid the dreaded "snow route" outbound tonight...if I can I need face only the two hours needed to dig out my house.
Fun times indeed...ghod I wanna move to the Baja!!!!

Sunday, February 22, 2009


The late Heath Ledger does win a posthumous Oscar tonight for playing Batman's old nemesis "The Joker" to perfection last'll be as much about his tragic death AND Hollywood's penchant for method driven portraits in dementia as it'll be about the actor's own ahrd work and devotion to the craft.
Conservative commentators will predictably blow a gasket over another film pyscho winning an Oscar...which is true but then again a generation ago lugubrious historical epics with wax-work performance styles ATE Oscar statues for breakfast.
Time passes new cliches replace old ones.
To me, it's just interesting and possibly a little liberating that a performance in a comic book adaptation merits such an award...we've come a long way from Flash Gordon haven't we?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Believe the Hype....

It really is a bravura performance from Mickey Roarke as a washed up grappler Randy the Ram Robinson in "The Wrestler".
Granted the script is nothing new, but all the performances are taught and realistic....Roarke in particular paces his performance so very carefully thru the film that in the very end you see just why his character is so hopelessly self destructive...and it's not because of drugs or booze or anything else, Randy the Ram never grew up...he opted for a very violent and childish form of fame (pro wrestler) and when went it went south, it is no wonder he can't reconnect with his daughter hold a job or escape his fate in any way.
Oh and kudos to Marisa Tomei (damn that girl just doesn't quit on herself) and Evan Rachel Wood, nothing phoney about either performance.
If Mister Roarke cops the penultimate bookend on Oscar night, then he will deserve it no question.
Oh and his feud with Chris Jericho sounds fake and I mean that in a good way.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Seen on CNN...

a short feature news story on how business owners are turning to astrologers and astrology to survive the current recession.
In fact, the captioned soothsayer in the story was referred to as a "LICENSED astrologer".
Never mind the fact that astrology is nothing but a bad understanding of planetary dynamics married to primitive notions of prognostication...what I wanna know is HOW does one become LICENSED in a spurious pseudo science like astrology?
ANd morever, forget the poor small business owners who go in for this rubbish, WHY doesn't CNN take a few minutes out of it's relentless 24-7 schedule to investigate the "licensing" of astrologers?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inaugural Memory...

I listened to the inaugural festivities on a small portable radio today in my monastic cubicle at a giant otherwise un-named insurance company.

When Pastor Rick Warren recited "The Lord's Prayer" (or as we Catholics call it "Da Our Faddah") of my co-workers slipped into my cubicle, piously inclined his head over my radio and forcefully repeated said prayer with preacherish intonations.
He barked out a hearty "Amen", thanked me for the use of my space in prayer and went about his business.
For once I was nonplussed, stammered "Oh...anytime, it's what I'm here for...


Monday, January 19, 2009

"Valkyrie" (2008)

I think I finally have Bryan Singer figured out.
Regardless of all the super-hero films, he very badly wants to be a latter-day Alfred Hitchcock. He has all the elements here, Nazi villains, a suspense driven caper and the usual collection of kibbitzers at the edge of the action.
And if that is Singer's ambition, then clearly Tom Cruise wants to be a sort of end-times Cary Grant a minimalist forced into the crucible of great events. Such is the plot of Valkyrie which features a stoic heroic Cruise as the real life Colonel Claud von Stauffenberg who came within an ace of assassinating Hitler in 1944.
As I said, Cruise is a minimalist and that suits the flamboyant material nicely, he seethes a bit but declines to play the crusading martyr. I think that was a good decision on his part, the story is dramatic enough in all it's particulars.
THe rest of the cast is tight and for once, a American film ends on a suitably unhappy note...right down to Stauffenberg being stood up against a wall and shot.
Being a stylistic descendant of Gary Cooper it was scene that Cruise was aching to play all his professional life and what the hell he does it justice.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Definition of an odd scene...

Sitting in the Bedford Mass Whole Foods Market eating one of their salads and reading Dr. Joseph Goebbels' diaries.
Such is a lazy Saturday for your humble narrator.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

The Quantum of Solace (2008)

Daniel Craig has a real future as James Bond. He is the coldest and least complicated 007 ever, in the tough-guy department he is up in Sean Connery's orbit which is an icy ruthless trajectory indeed.
he is none too handsome, but like Bruce Lee and Clint Eastwood Craig has an almighty "I-mean-it" look that was made for the movies.
Moreover, in his love-hate-relationship with M (Judy Dench the series other casting coup) you get every sort of tension right up to the doors of King Oedipus' bedroom.
But for the franchise to survive someone has to insist on more coherent scripts, I can do without the gadgetry and the labored quips but the alternately grunted and panted dialogue from "The Quantum of Solace" is a serious bring-down. The plot is more or less a direct sequel to "Casino Royale" with 007 still on the trail of Vesper Lind's employers/killers. Much is made of his quest for vengeance although that was more or less the link between "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" and "Diamonds are Forever" even revenge is nothing ne for 007.
Alas as far as this film is concerned, who the villains are and why they wanna corner the world's supply of fresh water is bore and a trifle. best I can determine it's a conspiracy of more evil businessmen, ho-hum.
The action set pieces are fun, but without a plot and without a real plan for the character it is all for naught.
Joseph Zamparelli Jr has idly proposed that the film-makers ought to revisit some of the less well adapted novels for inspiration..."Moonraker" perhaps or certainly "The Spy Who Loved Me" both of which were camped to death back in the daze of Roger Moore. They have the right Bond now what they lack are the right scripts.