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".