Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

A Broadway star one hundred years ago, Fay Bainter won the 1938 Supporting Actress Academy Award for her turn as Aunt Belle in Jezebel. She acted on stage, on radio, in motion pictures and television, visited hospitals and entertained wounded soldiers during World War II.Buried in Arlington National Cemetery with her husband, Reginald VenableShe is buried in Arlington National Cemetery with her husband, Lieutenant Commander Reginald S. H. Venable.
Remember veterans -- and their wives -- this Memorial Day...

Friday, May 28, 2010


According to the local newspaper, New Bedford may have guests visiting from "out of this world." The Other Whaling City now has a hotel nowhere near downtown but everyone calls it "the downtown hotel."

Matthew Morrissey, executive director of the New Bedford Economic Development Council, similarly hailed the development as a boon to the city. The picture's from the S-T, or possibly a Caprican e-paper"Based on the level of finish and the look of the place, we're already booking some ... major companies in the region to do corporate retreats here," he said, describing how the council has brought CEOs through the building for tours. "Universally, everyone is impressed with the Lafrance family's work."(emphasis mine)
I'm curious. What exactly was ommitted through the use of that ellipsis? "We've already booked some..." Some what? I know some Universal travelers who might enjoy a short stay in NB...
Better shot of lobbyThey've stayed in worse places.RIGHT AK NEXT TO THE AK ICE MACHINE AK AKI am leaving soon, and you will forgive me if I speak bluntly.Moar stuffiez.
Tonight in our lounge, for the kids...... and for William Shatner.I swear it must've been her sister I saw on AHA! night...
(Among others, the presentation includes photographs of Yvonne Craig and Claudia Black.)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Vincent Price

His culinary prowess and his art collecting aside: If only for his exquisite sartorial taste -- as exhibited in both films and in his private life -- I celebrate the man's birthday as if it were a religious holiday.(Actual size)Yes, I am aware

that it is also ChristopherLee's birthday.That, and this:

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Recent Events Urge a Confession

The unconscionably cruel treatment of a young woman here has made me examine my own commitment to fair treatment of all people, and surely redouble my efforts at protecting everybody else.
If you are not apt to click on links: I refer, of course, to my display of the shooting of the Singing Telegram Girl -- played by Go-Gos guitarist Jane Wiedlin -- from the movie Clue.
See? She's OKAY!Sure, it's funny and as out of context as is the entire film today, but wouldn't you know it? Within seconds of that post over at The Old Swamper's Almanac, I received a message that urged me to tell my representatives in the legislature to support the International Violence Against Women Act (HR 4594 and S 2982). It quoted a horrific statistic that I will repeat here in big letters:

One in three girls will be assaulted in their lifetimes.

With this terror and recent events here and elsewhere fresh in my mind, I must make the following confession:
I once raised my hand to a woman. For two weeks.
Wednesday through Saturday, twice on Wednesday and one Sunday matinee. People paid three dollars to see and I got twenty-one bucks a week later. Paid in cash. In an envelope with the Theater department head's name crossed out, and mine misspelled under the sullen smudge of red ink.
And, thanks to an uninspired and awkward and cliché blackout, I never struck her.
You see, it was in the theater.
I was squandering valuable hippocampus neuronal synapses, portraying "the bad guy" in an AWful "experimental" "theater-noir" don't-put-this-on-the-résumé black box production of a grad student's project written after a forlorn and self-indulgent binge-drinking afternoon bewailing the loss of her slacker boyfriend (which is what we called "hipsters" at the time). The play was brutally conceived in her head, horrifically executed on the page, and morbidly undertaken on the stage. I sincerely apologize to any of the thirty-one people who could stomach the senselessness over the week which bore the hardship.
Usually, it is a challenging and joy-filled task, devising a characterization from essentially nothing. But this particular exercise was horrible. The director, rumor had it, was an over-entitled trustafarian shy one "media and mass communication" credit; I never met him. He didn't think it was his responsibility to attend rehearsals. The author was present but silent, smoking clove cigarettes in the cramped riser seats. She disappeared for an entire week of production. The other actors smoked outside until they were called and avoided me, the older guy.

SPOILER: Doll eventually married Danny Thomas.Without backstory, character notes, substantive clues from dialogue or any sort of direction, I was left to render a passable Sterling Hayden impersonation for my introductory -- and only -- line and sat at a table recreating his stoic demeanor in Asphalt Jungle while my scene partner recited a litany of insults in a seven-page monologue. Until my sole stage direction: He runs across the room and slaps her.
"Don't hit girls!" "Never strike a lady!" "Leave your sister alone!" rang in my head. Injunctions learned in childhood, delivered in tones that assured their consequence. The first two were mere moral instructions, since I was raised to live a moral life in polite society. (The last probably had nothing to do with me, but more as a palliative offered to the older sibling on the long car ride to Grandma's.) It just never occurred to me that violence in any form was the correct answer to disputes between the genders. And if ever it were, there would be my shattered conscience to pay with guilt, with my bankrupt morality and possibly neuroses.
The eventuality of such a violent act only precipitates the very reaction that I felt on that stage over and over again: I would rather my arm fall off at the shoulder than let my hand fly in an atrocious mistake.
I could have easily blocked a bit of business involving my downstage hand and my partner's reaction. It's a usual throwaway bit of stage combat. Instead, I insisted that when I raised my arm, the lights would go pitch black, framing the tableau forever for the audience.
I employed clever sophistry to secure a lighting trick instead of a blocking trick. Which worked rather effectively except for during the Sunday matinee when there was external light. Which diminished the dramatic effect considerably.
Every home should be safe and every partner should be an equal.
I hope that some good can come of this misfortune.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Old Swamper's Return

This past week's foray into "On This Date in..." Land reminded me of the lost Blogger feature, The Old Swamper's Almanac. And what is an "almanac" if not a collection of dates and significances?
I admit that it may be a wearying exercise to manage two sites, particularly when acknowledgment is rarely forthcoming and I clearly apprehend mutterings from those to whom I have not been indiscriminately obsequious. I am not driven by any moral or ethical need to post regularly or even well, or to act as a public relations arm of any municipality, or public or private entity, or individual.
I may post here and there only intermittently, but I remain obligated to whatever quality I can commit.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

On This Date in 1780

The Darkness (an obscuring cloud from a forest fire in southern Ontario, according to researchers at the University of Missouri/NASA) descended upon the Northeast.
Any Old Swamper will tell you that

"It's a sign of rain or snow
When birds and bugs fly low."
(Actually, I don't know if any Old Swamper will tell you that, but I am sure that I heard it as a youngster. It was featured on an incessantly-repeated promo for The Mickey Mouse Club on a local Rhode Island teevee station. I'm pretty sure it was Eddie Carroll --whom see -- voicing Jiminy Cricket, but this feature dredges older harbors. And my point here is that New Englanders know the significance of strange weather, and rarely attribute it to supernatural forces.)
The very literate -- folk who were familiar with natural philosophy, scientific inquiry, works of Edmund Burke, James Cook, and Joseph Priestley -- knew that it wasn't an eclipse. Because they may have been in possession of one of Mr. Franklin's peer's almanacs (NOT the Old Farmer's Almanac, which didn't start publishing until 1792). They also knew that it wasn't Judgment Day or the Apocalypse (because they had thinking parts).
The loudest -- and by no means at all the largest number -- believed that their God had picked an inopportune Spring day to punish them for their misdeeds, not the least of which was a pesky war for independence. These were the individuals who may have had an almanac in the outdoor privy, but used the astronomical information pages with the goofy symbols as hygienic accommodation. They were referred to as "teabaggers." Hadn't anyone read their Rabelais?, Their fundaments would have been probably more elegantly attended, if only at the distress of the local goose population.
Where were we? Ah! Adumbration. Murk. The skies were murky for a few days, and eventually darkened more on that May 19, enough so that the local news media (in their usual -- yes, even then -- chickeny panic) mentioned it. Of course the cloud of smoke -- which most people recognized as the airborne remnants of some faraway forest fire -- dissipated.
The only people who achieved any gratifying consideration as result of widespread dumbassery were sailors who suggested that women renove their garments as the height of The Darkness allowed them access to nightspots that opened early to serve them. They were the first disaster capitalists. William Pynchon of Salem saw some mariners taking advantage.No mass hysteria has so gripped the superstitious in New England until the Coakley/Brown race in 2009.
(This presentation features a photograph of Tina Louise.)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

On This Date in 1652

In a turn of administrative casuistry typical of Rhode Island, the colony passed a law that declared one of its major industries illegal. Well, it didn't effectively criminalize slavery, it strongly suggested that slaveryshouldn't be so much abolished as amended to whatever extent that its stakeholders permitted. The eager will characterize this as deeming slavery illegal; famous Rhode Islanders John and Moses Brown considered it "abolition with benefits."
(Quakers with strong ties to the triangle trade. Or at least the side that didn't involve molasses or rum)Rhode Island's orginal settlers were religious "separatists" exiled by the Massachusetts communities who brought them there in the first place -- themselves also separatists. Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson couldn't have been happier. They had showered off the pong of all of the Church of England idolators who hadn't contrived a high enough wall between Church and State and hadn't allowed for "freedom of conscience."
Hi Neighbor! Have a 'Gansett! Won't you?By 1652, it was simple: illegalize slavery by requiring that those who force "black mankinde" into servitude comply with the same rules that apply in any European indenture; Africans would be indentured for a period of ten years, after which time they must be set free. Free to become miserable hourly at-will wage drudges like everybody else in Rhode Island.
In the best of all possible worlds -- and, Rhode Island is THISCLOSE to being "the best of all possible worlds" -- this "law" might have effectively abolished slavery, or at least limited its ambition. The worst thing that could happen would be that, in order to replace freed chattel, Rhode Island slavers would have to redouble their efforts at supplying the New World with African slaves.
Which is exactly what happened anyway.
Like most traffic laws in Rhode Island ("obey speed limits," "negotiate four-way stops," "fully stop at intersections"), there was little actual enforcement of the slavery "law," which was approached by citizens and lawmen the same way present-day Rhode Islanders respect any toothless legislation: regard it as toothless, and ignore it.
Rhode Island did eventually make slavery illegal for realz in 1784.

Monday, May 17, 2010

On This Date in 1792

Twenty-four stock brokers -- Founding and Subsequent Fathers -- lolled about under a buttonwood tree on Wall Street in New York. The twenty-four had devised a scheme to organize under a constitution that would leave auctioneers -- and eventually, everyone else -- out of the arcane price machinations of corn and linen and other things that people don't think much about. Except when someone -- a stock broker, let's say -- invites them to "get in on" a "deal" involving such things. Or some other things that aren't even that real. ''Just sign it! We'll get you a tricorn. Sheesh...''The brave economists insisted that they would work with each other exclusively and collect one guarter of one percent commission on any trade. And then they decided to meet in a coffee house so that no one would accuse them of soaking up at a public house when they hit the wrong letter, or sell a large number of liquid futures contracts, causing a panic sell-off which briefly wipes out a trillion dollars or so in market capital.
That was The Buttonwood Agreement, a quaint relic and the beginning of the early New York Stock & Exchange Board, which changed its name to "New York Stock Exchange." Or, more commonly, "gambling."

Friday, May 14, 2010

On This Date in 1607

Captain Christopher Newport, a mercenary privateer and operative of the Virginia Company of London (formerly "The London Company," which just sounds like a chic wrinkly clothing shoppe), planted his skull-and-crossed-bones on what he figured was "far enough" into the New World. It was actually a mosquito-ridden island-cum-swamp that he immediately named after James I, thinking that would save him the trouble of having to fill out the paperwork to name it "Newport." (Years later, plenty of other places would be named "Newport" mostly because it sounds nice and would solve many marketing issues.)
The source of the name "Virginia" for the colony is hard to attribute, but probably had something to do with Walter Raleigh's clumsy sea-struck mushmouthed pronunciation of the name of the actual king of North America at the time, Wingina. (Many scholars believe that Raleigh had merely named the landmass after Elizabeth I, "The Virgin Queen." But sheesh, dude, really.)
''Not if I have anything to say about it. WOOF!''Raleigh's ill-fated settlement at Roanoke reminds me of the brave explorers who first colonized the Moon. Wait, nobody did that? Oh, right, that's because they couldn't find a decent source of water, and so brought home useless handfuls of minerals. Well, in Raleigh's case, it was an organic: tobacco. But ultimately each resulted in the same thing: some people got rich and others found fame and others happily and witlessly addicted themselves. Then got cancer and died.Tallulah Bankhead died of lung cancer in 1968.Newport had three ships. His own was -- ironically -- named "Something" Constant. "Sarah," "Susan," something. It's different in every account. Apparently, the names of ships weren't as important as the names of kings in those days, because Newport went on to name everything "James." "James Towne." "James River." "James City County." "King James Bible."
The Virginia Company (after experiencing starvation and then ignoring or killing the natives who figured that the Company was there because they'd done something bad) would eventually steal the concept of community rule from the native Powhatans, pretend to have invented democracy, and then wreck everything by allowing special interests and lobbyists to destroy a once-great nation's enthusiastic enterprise, but let's not worry about that now.
Let us, rather, look upon Virginia Hey.The greatest lower lip in cinema.

(This presentation includes photographs of Miranda Richardson, Tallulah Bankhead, and Virginia Hey.)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

On This Date in 1912

The (British) Royal Flying Corps was established by King George V. Leading to heroics, nationalism, perceived truncations of certain hostilities, scientific innovation, and comic lampooning...

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


My Beloved and I enjoyed a clamboil last night. A new steamer (tiered, and with a spigot for delectable broth) will entice foods into it. Living, as we do, within shucking distance of fine seafood, a seafood boil was inevitable
Unfortunately, there was the formality of an unfortunate Bruins game, further evidence that sports franchises cannot afford to simply win a seven-game series in less than seven games.
I experience a state of euphoria after steamed clams and all the other items in a clamboil: potatoes (a limited nip of both white and sweet varieties), chouriço, sausages, onions, you know. Perhaps it's my unique personal chemistry -- due to renal dysfunction or some quirk of endocrinology -- but I achieve a transcendent state of well-being, a pleasant sense of near-intoxication after a classic shore dinner.
I have divined that the nicotine in potatoes -- a favorite vegetable I now must avoid due to high levels of potassium (twice that of bananas) -- acts on neuroreceptors, causing what I term a "bivalve bliss" or "clamboil high."
So, I didn't need to see this amateur video of the Gulf of Mexico.
You probably don't need to see it either, especially if you've been watching teevee shots of BP's former oil rig and all of those politicians standing in Louisiana shaking their heads and quoting the Bible or whatever it is they do nowadays to curry favor among those with whom they can still curry favor.
This is a damned mess.
Glad I got to use the new steam pot at least once.

It's Ian Dury's Birthday

Celebrate appropriately. Or responsibly. You choose.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

I Like her...

Elena Kagan
...especially her turn as the devious Hynerian Orrhn in Farscape (2001 episode: "Fractures").Orrhn Pak

Monday, May 10, 2010

Lena Mary Calhoun Horne (June 30, 1917 – May 9, 2010)

I've just always loved this picture of her.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

"Nought may endure but Mutability." - Percy Bysshe Shelley

Finally! They're hiding the evidence.(Herald didn't bother crediting the photographer.)
Another piece of my youngsterhood is a jumble of muddy rubble along Route 6 in Westport. The old Durfee Bowling Lanes -- and if any readers have esteeming anecdotes about the old place, feel free to mention same in the "Notes" section -- because I can only remember the time when a friend's brother (who is deaf and differently-abled) totally pwned me, frame for frame. I bowled, like, a 28. I wish that I could say that I let him win because it was his birthday, but this kid is a competitor. With trophies to prove it.
from Grant Welker's terse communication in today's Fall River The Herald News:
Westport — The old Durfee Lanes bowling alley on Route 6 was demolished this week, years after what was once an attraction in the north end of Westport had closed.
The site, between Sanford Road and Route 88, is now owned by Mid-City Steel, which has been approved for plans to build a 25,000-square-foot warehouse and office building...
...The warehouse will be built on essentially the same footprint as the bowling alley.
It will allow for a more efficient process for unloading, storing and loading steel, the company has said. A two-story office portion in the front will include a showroom of prototypes of different shapes and styles of steel Mid-City offers.
No word on whether the showroom will feature karaoke or offer Wednesday night drink specials. from The Big Lebowski

(This presentation features a photograph of Jane Wyman)

Happy Birthday, Don Rickles!

Mr. Warmth started his career in television as an announcer. In 1955 and 1956, his voiced entertained and informed the viewers of Stage 7 and Cavalcade of America, while he worked with:

Angie Dickinson

Gloria TalbottJoi LansingNoreen Corcoran

Jan Sterling

With colleagues like that, I might have stayed in show business for 55 years. His next turn behind the mic hits theaters June 18, when he reprises his role of Mr. Potato Head in Toy Story 3.

(This presentation features photographs of Angie Dickinson, Gloria Talbott, Joi Lansing, Noreen Corcoran, and Jan Sterling.)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Well, that settles it

from Alexis Hauk, in today's Standard-Times, talking about some boat coming to Fall River to do "[a] fund-raiser for the Old Colony and Fall River Railroad Museum... from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday..." Toward the middle:
Turner eventually donated the ship to the Fall River Chamber Foundation, which kept it sitting in Heritage Park from 1993 until 2001...
Tequila Party PatriotI must've been making up all that shit.
(Good thing I got to actually sail on those other ships!)

Saturday, May 1, 2010

May Day

...means something different on The Beach.