Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Death and Afterlife of Joseph Stalin

Let the record show that one of the last things that Joe Stalin did when he retained the ability to talk, walk & slay is screen at late night movie with select members of his politbureau.
Then came the sumptuous buffet and the vodka wine and then more vodka. Stalin was a terrific insomniac and stroke/heart attack survivor but according to Nikita Khrushchev he could party like a fratboy well into his seventies...hell he routinely courted cardiovascular disaster by taking steambathes, no one could tell the Boss what to do, not if they wanted to live any longer.
That last party was a success by the standards of the politbureau circa 1953, Stalin was in a good mood, no one got arrested.
When the guests dispersed, The Leader retired to his private house in the Kuntsevo suburb of Moscow at 4:30am 2-28-1953 leaving strict orders he was not to be disturbed, til he called in the morning.
Normally Stalin rang for his morning tea at 11:30am or so, but come the next day he did not call, the security detail at the Dach were frantic, calls when back and forth to the Minister of State Security (Sergei Ignatiev, a protege of Nikita Khrushchev...the guards were told to leave the Leader alone.
Finally at 6:30pm eighteen hours after Stalin retired, a light went on in the Leader's dining room (where he normally slept on a coach)...the detail breathed a sigh of relief...but the phone never rang.
Such was the sheer terror Stalin's underlings had for him that literally did not dare enter his Imperial Presence unless biden to do so, like a Chinese Emperor quite literally.
By now the guards are in a state of panic, complicating things was the arrival of the daily sealed mail poach from the CPSU Central Committee, which had to be handed over to Stalin without delay.
Finally these poor mooks drew lots and the loser went into the house with the pouch.
There at 10:30pm that night he found The Leader sprawled on the floor in a semi conscious incoherent state, having urinated himself.
All attempts to rouse the Dear Comrad Leader failed thus doctors were summoned, at 7am the next morning.
By now, the politbureau is in attendance, so there are plenty of witnesses when the diagnosis came down that Stalin had suffered a massive stroke and would shortly die.
The great irony of Stalin's death is, that due to the "Doctor's Plot", a blantantly anti semitic campaign to purge the medical profession in the USSR of "rootless cosmopolitans" and "British Agents", the best cardio-vascular MDs in Russia were all in KGB's Lubyanka Prison in Moscow.
All these poor unfortunates were summarily rousted and interrogated by hulking secret police types who painfully described the Leader's condition to their prisoners using no names, the verdict from the Lubyanka, the case was terminal.
Beria, Stalin's brutal child molesting chief of the Secret Police alternately kissed the leader's hand and cursed him in loud tones, Khrushchev wept, almost all the men who stood the deathwatch had been themselves threat of arrest & execution at one time or another.
But they saw their opportunity and took it.
I mean is it any wonder then why medical attention never reached Stalin until twelve to eighteen hours after the onset of symptoms?
Still and all that, it took Stalin almost four days to die, just long enough for his "colleagues" to fix up the succession, abort the coming purge and start plotting the arrest and death of Beria.
Stalin's millions of victims living and dead, could wait.
Stalin himself, ended up a preserved mummy, a sort of high end Elmer McCurdy placed on eternal venerated display in Lenin's tomb until 1961 when Khrushcheve decided to bury Stalinism by burying the late leader's corpse once and for all.
And all of this is merely where Channel Zero's next screening begins....
That would be "History's Greatest Loss" (1953) the official Soviet Propaganda Documentary detailing the funeral rites for Comrade Stalin.
Communist societies know how to bury their leader's with true necor-worship, look at the rites accorded Conrade Kim Jong Il in North Korea, buried in a blizzard thousands forced to weep at the mere sight of his hearse.
Anyhow..."History's Greatest Loss, the Great Farewell to Joseph Stalin" screens Friday March 2nd at 8pm in the Microcinema of the Somerville Theater 55 Davis Square Somerville Ma, Admission $7 (cheap!), in Russian, Subtitled in English.
This would be the last great spasm of Stalinist Propaganda...unseen in Boston in fifty nine years!

But all that aside, I'd love to know the title of the last movie Stalin ever saw...Y'know over and above the Soviet Propaganda Product, Nikita Khrushchev claimed to te end of his life Joe Stalin loved John Wayne movies.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Coriolanus (2012)

One thing is for sure, Shakespeare knew his soliders, both as heroes but also as fatally flawed men several steps short of glory.
From Othello with his superstition and credulity to Julius Caesar with his fatal ambition...the Bard told the truth on them all.
Now at long last, Ralph Fiennes has dig waaa-ay down in the canon to come up with "Coriolanus" Shakespeare's arrogant childish mother dominated Roman General who is banished by jealous rivals only to return at the head of an army composed of Rome's hated enemies.
Simply put, I loved this movie Fiennes put across just enough Wellesian touches (modern dress, iambic pentameter news broadcasts) without taking focus off the weird triangle between Coriolanus, his Norman Batesish Mother (played with razor sharp nastiness by Vanessa Redgrave) and Aufidius (Gerard Butler), Coriolanus's former foe, sudden ally and maybe sorta BF.
Like I said, Shakespeare knew his soldiers.
Well all sexual politics aside, Coriolanus is likely Shakespeare's most reactionary protagonist, he loses out on the consulship of Rome simply because he can't bring himself to cajole the restive masses for five lousy minutes. He bungles his opportunity, blames everyone but himself and then betrays his country literally in a childish temper tantrum.
Very instructive in an Election Year to be sure.
I sometimes am given to think that Shakespeare had it in for the Romans, they keep reaching for Glory in all his Histories and all fall short with tragic contrast his English Kings occasionally land on a Happy Ending...even if it's by accident.
Anyhow this one won't last long in the theaters, its an relatively obscure Shakespeare adaptation by US standards well worth tracking down to the Waltham Embassy.

Friday, February 17, 2012

The CW is set to revive "Beauty and the Beast"...

the old Linda Hamilton teleseries, I never watched it, but the core fairy tale admits all sorts of possibilities.
So far as I can tell, this time, it's a superheroic beast teamed up with a dollsome female cop.
So far so good, except the CW has cast Kristen Kreuk as their beauty.
I mean lets face it, Kristen Kreuk hasn't got the acting talent Ghod gave a sock puppet, she actually dragged Tom Welling down to a very crude level of acting on Smallville, and that mah frenz is sayin' something.
I give it six weeks tops assuming the pilot isn't a complete botch.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Six Inches of Snow Predicted over a

twelve hour period for tomorrow, although there doesn't seem to be a snowfall prediction for Greater Boston as yet.

So d' ye suppose "NewsPanic Seven" and Channel 25 News are gonna spin this into a Life Extinction Weather Event?

Oh well, I was beginning to think I'd never have recourse to this year's "Snow Storm Liquor".

Which is:

1.) One Unopened Fifth of Jack Daniels
2.) One Unopened Fifth of Cabin Fever Brand Maple Flavored Whiskey
3.) One Unopened Pint of Brandy (Brand Unknown)

I guess this'll get me through....

Dave Maynard is dead

The long time host of "Community Auditions" a local prehistoric ancestor of "American Idol".

Here he gives Sarah Silverman her first big a singer no less.

RIP Dave....