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 concerned...so 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 groove...you 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 floor....so 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 endorse...no 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.