Saturday, October 31, 2009

Universal Monsters

When James Whale's FRANKENSTEIN opened up the doors of horror at Universal Pictures, the bosses there walked happily through those doors and created a series of films that remain intriguing today. I'm in the middle (at Halloween time) of watching a number of these movies, and though the acting is a bit arch and the storytelling a tad stretched, the energy behind the films is viscerally potent and very entertaining. Over the last two evenings, I've screened SON OF FRANKENSTEIN, with Basil Rathbone chewing up whatever scenery Universal could throw at him as the son of Henry ("Heinrich" on the grave) Frankenstein, who created the Monster that will not die. Last night, it was GHOST OF FRANKENSTEIN, in which stodgy Sir Cedric Hardwicke, clearly counting the zeroes on his paycheck, trundled through the story of yet another iteration of the Monster, while Ralph Bellamy kept finding it impossible to locate Lon Chaney's Monster even when it walked down the main street and entered houses through the front doors. Regardless, thoroughly engaging and fun to watch. Also fun to see which straws were drawn when the casting sessions were held. Would the Monster be Karloff again, or Chaney, or Lugosi? Would Lugosi, in the wake of his iconic DRACULA, continue to play (and play extremely well) the misshapen Igor? Which British leading man would be hired to fall breathlessly into the thrall of the "It's Alive" mentality established by Colin Clive in the original? And how many townspeople killed in previous Frankie movies would appear bearing torches in the town in the next one? Great stuff. Always ready to toss a Universal Monster DVD into the player and await the silly little bi-plane (or whatever it is) circling the silver globe at the opening.

Friday, October 30, 2009

If The Mood Strikes...

So I like to think I'm a writer. At least, that's what I tell people when they ask what I do. The fact that people ask what I do kind of makes me wonder if I am a writer. But that's a question for another day. For now, I thought I would pass along a link to my WEB SITE. I do this for two reasons. First, I would like anyone reading this to visit the site and see what I've been up to as a writer, director, actor...Second, I want to see if I can make the HTML work on this blog and actually set up a link. Looks like I may have succeeded. Once you're on the web site, you will find a number of visitable pages, which I could easily link directly here, now that I know how to use this thing, or I could just let you visit the main page and wander through the site, which is what I am going to do. You'll find links on the site to my PLAYS, my PLAYS FOR YOUNG AUDIENCES, a number of VIDEOS from my plays, and, most importantly, my SCRIPTSTORE, where vistors may purchase perusal copies of my scripts, and even pay royalties for shows of mine they've performed.

As of this writing, or this blogging, I see that absolutely no one besides yours truly has read this thing. This is because, as is usually the case with me, I like to keep things to myself.

Perhaps I will figure out a way to change this.

For now, I remain a mystery to myself, and others.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Yesterday was one of those days when people talked to me even though I had no need for them to do so. I'm at the box office at the Hollywood Hits movie theatre in Danvers, and I ask for a ticket to Julie and Julia. This is a difficult enough task if you're a guy, but I did it. The woman who had just purchased a ticket asked me if I was going to go home afterward and cook something. I chuckled. Chuckling is the only non-scatological response to something like that. Then I go into the theatre and two women sitting together in the last row of the virtually empty room see me and one of them says, "Hope you can find a seat!" I thought of chuckling again, but this one deserved a response. So I said, "I'll do the best I can." People wanted to be friendly yesterday for some reason. They had no idea whom they were dealing with.

Julie and Julia is a thoroughly engaging movie spiked by not only a monster performance by Meryl Streep, but also by an equally monster dual performance by Streep and Stanley Tucci, who plays Julia Child's husband, Paul. My God, these two actors conducted a cinema master class in timing, connection and truth-telling. The marriage depicted is supposed to have been a special one, and these guys, and Nora Ephron, brought it to the screen as if they'd been rehearsing since graduate school. They were getting laughs from barely audible voice rumblings and slightly arched eyebrows. There has been a lot written about the supposedly sub-par performance of Amy Adams as Julie, but...come on. Give her a break. The character is written and played as a kind of driven lunatic and Adams, I think, is letter perfect throughout. Chris Messina, as Julie's husband, is also terrific, and reminded me of the husband in...

Paranormal Activity.

Both these guys deserve medals of honor for dealing with the wives/girlfriends they've hooked up with.

The thing about Paranormal Activity is...the hype. You're going to see it or rent it or download it because of the hype.'s not all that bad. But if you are bored by looking through a night-vision camera at two people sleeping, this movie is going to drive you to the concessions stand pretty quickly. Yes, there are a few nice moments of boo!, but you can see the ending coming for miles and there's really nothing new about all this unless you count the fact that it cost them about 37 cents to make it. Blair Witch Project pissed me off because the hand-held camera made me nauseous, but I do remember at least being shocked and spooked throughout the movie. This one, not so much.

But those husbands/boyfriends in these movies...saints. Saints!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

And Another Thing...

The next snot-nosed, lip-pierced, eyeshadow-slathered movie box-office or grocery checkout Britney who asks me if I want a senior discount is in for a tongue-lashing unheard of outside of an Alec Baldwin family phone call. I am not a senior. I don't intend to be a senior. And the only time I am EVER going to ask for a senior discount is on my death bed when I'm around 97 (I hope), when I will ask for a discount on the morphine drip. I run 3-5 miles every day, I went 3 for 5 at this year's UMass Lowell Reunion Baseball Game, and anybody who has sat through one of my note sessions after a rehearsal knows I have more energy than any 21st Century high school slacker who sells tickets at Showcase Cinemas. Stop asking! Anybody who wants a discount will ask for a discount. Those of us who don't want one, will not ask for one, and we do not want to be asked! Get it? Just because there's a little gray hair sticking out from under the sides of our Red Sox caps does not mean we are seniors. Shut DF Up!

There's Always A First Time

So I'm blogging. Knowing my track record for such things, this will last one, two, three days, tops. But I am blogging. I know I am. Because I can feel myself typing and I can see the words appearing on the Blogging Screen. I use "Captain Show Biz" as the title of the Blog because that's pretty much all I know. Yeah, I know a little baseball and a few things about Catholics, but when push comes to shove, as it does so often in my life, it's show business that I know about. And, to be truthful, I really only know about show business prior to 1970. See, now I can feel push coming to shove and I want to stop this thing altogether. But, what the hell, I'll post this and see what happens. Maybe what I'll do is blog and not tell anybody about it. That's pretty much the way I've managed my life in the arts, anyway. Surreptitiously. Under the radar. It's quieter that way.