Saturday, July 07, 2018

Present At The Creation-When Luke, Leia And Han Could Say To Be Young Was Very Heaven-George Lucas’ “Star Wars” (1977)-A Film Review

Present At The Creation-When Luke, Leia And Han Could Say To Be Young Was Very Heaven-George Lucas’ “Star Wars” (1977)-A Film Review   

DVD Review

By Sarah Lemoyne (somehow the editorial assistant, obviously a stringer, in a few of my previous recent reviews didn’t believe in spell-check or in inquiring to me personally how to spell my name and did so with the incorrect “LeMoyne” which drew a tell-tale red line under the incorrect spelling and should have been picked up.)     

Star Wars, starring Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher (Eddie Fisher, he of the flyaway to Elizabeth Taylor reputation and jilted former girl next door Debbie Reynold’s daughter), Harrison Ford (he of the sullen Valley boy post-World War II hot rod “chicken run’ at midnight set in future star-studded American Graffiti ), and a cast of odd-ball characters from wizard Alex Guinness to Darth Vader aka James Earl Jones he of the authoritative-or else-voice and all the refuge of the galaxy wars and whatever techno-props were available at the time of film shooting) directed by George Lucas, 1977      


Seth Garth of this publication (and formerly for a long time of the prestigious American Film Gazette which impressed me no end since I had been spoon-fed on that publication, on-line of course from my young girlhood) is a beautiful man. Is a guy who has helped me out ever so much in trying to establish myself as a writer, a journalist really in this my first real job since I got out of journalism graduate school at NYU (we won’t count the couple of years spent as a waitress, ah, waitperson at Zack’s in the Village, a barista at you know where and as a cashier at Whole Foods although maybe eventually once I get established and get my own by-line I can use the material I gathered at those locales to fill out a few columns when I need something in a hurry like every writer since Homer’s time has done when deadline approaches).

Let’s settle this right away before the Internet rumor mills churn their grist and spew out the usual scandalous misinformation, no way, since I already have a companion whom I met as a barista at you know where, are Seth, the older seasoned writer who has seen it all and I, who still has star-dust in my eyes, sleeping together. That little literary trope has been done to death both in real life with the likes of the late Norman Mailer and others of the male-heavy literary establishment of a generation ago, now too as it turns out with the rise of the #MeToo expose movement, and their “young female met at some publishing event” so-called acolytes or in fiction most recently as part of the novel Asymmetry reviewed in the New York Review of Books.  Christ Seth has daughters older than I am and moreover as much as he has helped me he is “damaged goods” in the romance department having like half the older guys around here been married at least three times and is adamantly no longer interested in the marriage ceremony. I am the “B” of LGBTQ” so marriage is a hope especially if to another woman not that we can do that. I am very interested in that prospect once I earn my keep in the literary world, or at least can write reviews for cold hard cash.         

Seth has helped me in ways that matter as a matter of being a mentor to me, nothing more. Teaching me the ropes in this dog eat dog business where truly you are only as good as your last piece hitting publication and then the wolves begin to howl, especially if you are any good. And especially by those will fall by the wayside and can’t write and will earn their cold hard cash keep trashing those of us who can, who want to, as “film historians,” culture critics, book review essayists from whatever rock they have make their short climb. Teaching me things that they have never taught in any journalism class because if they did then many more people would be perfectly content to end their days as baristas at you know where. The biggest thing Seth has taught me which came in handy recently when I had my first real set-back in the business was that you had better yell loudly, very loudly when some cowardly editor succumbs to office politics and takes a plum assignment away from you.

Along with that very sound advice Seth also said, hell, since I am only a stringer anyway and life is precarious down at the bottom of the publishing food chain that I should take the opportunity when it presents itself to publicly write about what is what inside the fish bowl. Basically to dare any editor or fellow writer to cut me off at the knees and not let it be published (and laughingly Seth said what the hell you are getting paid by the word so stretch things out to pay the rent anyway-another good piece of advice especially when you submit your piece just before the deadline and that empty space you were supposed to fill is empty and the first smells of panic take flight from the offices upstairs). Again it is good to know the animal you are dealing with, fangs or licks. Seth told me that Greg, the guy who hired me and the guy who has taken that plum assignment away from me was put in charge after a vote of no confidence in the last site manager and so is actually something of a usurper, a guy who got his job on the rebound. Moreover, Greg is responsible to an Editorial Board and no new guy wants to lock horns with that crowd so Seth said I should write whatever comes into my thoughts and dare Greg and/or the Ed Board to not publish the piece.  

The number one villain in this dog eat dog saga is one Sam Lowell (who as he told me to do in the interest of full disclosure also happens to be a friend of Seth from the old days when they were in high school and hung around the same forlorn corner in the small town where they both come from and which tells you how really cutthroat this business is despite high tone glossy presentations and nice manners at cocktail parties and awards galas). Yes, that Sam Lowell of the big film review by-line back in the day who won his spurs in the profession by doing an incredible job of analyzing the history of film noir. That work is still the benchmark by which anybody who has come after has to consult if they don’t want to be laughed out of the room. A powerful man, a fixture, a force of nature if he wants to be, even if he is well past his prime and when I met him seemed to be a little wizened and not the florid-faced big shot I had expected to meet. But more on that later. For now though what has me pissed off, what had Seth pissed off for his own reasons about “passing the torch” and of plain orneriness from their long-time sometimes prickly relationship, is that Sam took without a murmur from anybody but Seth my Hammer Film Production six-film series of psychological thrillers from the 1950s that Greg had given to me after I had done a good on a couple of small reviews (for little money as one might expect from a stringer). Sam’s reason, if he needed one, was that he had done a couple of years ago the eight- film Hammer Film Production of film noirs from the late 1940s and early 1950s that Columbia Pictures had outsourced to them as low-cost using low production values, and unknown or has-been actors to keep the expenditures down in a time when movie attendance was being eaten away by the advent of television.

Greg immediately called me in to give me the bad news. I sat there stunned, left, and ran into Seth at the water cooler and told him my story. He said march myself right back into Greg’s office and get something in return. That is when Greg offered me this complete (so-far) Star Wars series looking back at the epic from the fresh eyes of somebody who was not present at the creation but who, truth, loved the action-packed series. Not only that but I have first dibs on any future Marvel or DC Comic studio productions with the understanding that I would have a better grip on why millions of kids have their parents pony up for high-priced tickets and expensive sodas and inedible popcorn to see this stuff that the older writers who have been drafted, mostly kicking and screaming, to write about since I love those films as well.

My blood is up though, egged on a little by Seth who has his own axes to grind with Sam or maybe just for old times blood sport sake, and I am not finished with Mr. Sam Lowell the big-time by-line columnist. I might have been, I might have let it go given what Greg had given me to get me on my way to a coveted by-line but Sam made the fatal mistake of thinking I was some carpet to walk all over. I had started two of the reviews for that Hammer Production (that outfit if you have never heard of it is English by the way, or it was back in the 1940s, 1950s and early 1960s when beside noir and psychological thrillers they also did low-rent horror and monster movies) and had, my mistake, shown him those rough drafts. What he said about them, that snake in the grass, my expression, that wizened old thief bastard, Seth’s expression, was that they were good, that they should be published, and he would see Greg about doing so. That part I took with some kindness and was starting to have a different opinion of the guy, starting to see that this cutthroat business was real but only on the surface when Sam said he wanted me to then, under his by-line “ghost” a couple of rebuttal reviews essentially trashing what I had written and making me out to be some holy goof who should have stayed in the service industry, have stayed a barista at that place. That done, that holy goof stuff done, Sam had the bright idea that we would have “dueling” reviews with me playing the naïve dunce and him the thoughtful and erudite film critic. With me writing everything on both sides like some sleazy lawyer, some hired gun, writing whatever paper or cyberspace would take.

This is where Seth really did put me straight, really made me realize that if I was to make it in the profession I had better know what was what or else I would be continually hammered by guys like Sam Lowell[O1] . This is what Seth told me about Sam (aided by a little independent research and some serious conversations with Leslie Dumont, who when she was younger had been put under the same Sam hammer as a stringer until she finally left and got her big by-line at Women Today and by Sam’s long-time companion Laura Perkins who nevertheless knew the pitfalls and pranks of her man). Everybody knows that Sam Lowell re-wrote the book on the meaning of film noir. Made his name and rightly so telling that new wave of film makers of the 1960s who were interested in the genre going forward what made noir so compelling, even B-film material, from plot to shadowy photography to the sublime sound tracks. Even today if one is serious about film noir your first stop is Sam’s work. I have never heard anybody, even his most vociferous detractors like Cella Dunne say otherwise. What people don’t know although if they had thought about and had compared it to academia and other professions Sam like the professors, the one note book writers, the one genre artists had one big idea which he milked forever. Got that by-line and never looked back. But aside from the million all expenses paid lectures and conferences, the pithy little pieces for half-baked journals generated by aficionados, that expensive by-line Sam never really expanded his universe. Truth.

Seth thought maybe it was because Sam like him was from hunger and that once he made his mark he quit, he let the fate sisters ride him to wherever they wanted to take him. I have mentioned this before as has Seth but Sam was perfectly happy when he was short of an idea for a review, especially if it was a not a noir to take whatever the studio publicity department handed-out, cut off the top, type his name in and sent it along. Allan Jackson, when he was walking with the king here, unaided by any such hinderance as an Ed Board was perfectly happy to publish the piece no questions asked. Meanwhile Sam was on some beach, maybe with Seth, maybe with some young woman, some Seven Sisters young woman who were his preferred acolytes and grinders, snagged from one of those high-priced lectures drinking whiskey sours and cavorting the day and night away. The other thing that Sam would do and this is where Leslie Dumont came in with her insights was to have a stringer, her mostly, write the whole thing and sent it in under Sam’s name. Even tried, the old dog, the old “controversy” gag with Leslie which Sam had tried on me. Allan was more than happy to publish the pieces in double columns. Hopefully this will get some dewy eyes opened up and not throw writers off the trial but I thought you should know what I now know courtesy of Seth Garth, a beautiful man.             


Now to the task at hand. As I mentioned a minute ago in the “negotiations” between Greg and I we agreed that I would do a retrospective of the entire Star Wars series now in its eighth rendition (plus a couple of outliers in the bunch to introduce new elements, a black resistance fighter and a female wannabe Jedi for starters) from fresh eyes, from eyes that were not bedazzled by the first spectacle which animated my parents’ generation back in the 1970s when they needed to have something to take their minds off of what with the international gas crisis and endless ragtag inflation eating up their dollars like crazy. This “fresh eyes” approach is important since we have just witnessed in young Will Bradley’s review of the eight installment Star Wars: The Last Jedi what were jaded eyes since Will in his own words could give a fuck about the stupid series. This from a guy who slept through the one film he did see when his parents grabbed a video from their local store and threw it in their VCR.  Greg wanted a much better take, a rationale for why new generations have gravitated to the series over the past forty or so years, young, old and in between.

I am just the gal to do this job because I too saw my first Star War film via the old VCR although it was the very first one that I am reviewing here. My parents loved the movies, had met at some retrospective at the Tattler Theater in old-time Ann Arbor, at Michigan and while their professions never intertwined with their love of films there was a constant flow of films from the 1960s to 1990s running through the house in Cos Cob. From then on I was hooked on the series unlike timid and fearful Will. I might add, and here Seth has given me another good piece of advice kick your competitor when she or he is down and Will is very down in the eyes of our supreme leader Greg. I wouldn’t be surprised if he were reviewing Saturday morning kid shows before long after that stunt with the precious A-1 review material he was given to work with and blew. In case you have forgotten Will in any case was a guy who went mano a mano with sainted Seth over the question of the homosexuality of Sherlock Holmes and Doc Watson in their long film collaboration and got it wrong, totally wrong not knowing about the dilly boys that this pair hung around with on the wharves between cases. Will got caught with what I would call his pants down not knowing of the rampant homosexuality in the English public school (private schools here). Everybody, except beloved Seth who does have a heart after all he has gone through, had a great big laugh at that faux pas, even I chuckled when I heard what he had tried to do to defend himself after Seth lashed him to the mast.        

As the Star War series has progressed we have seen many more sophisticated technological gizmos per film but I am here to tell you that the basics were all set up in that first film from the grotesques of the galaxy who no self-respecting persons not bitten by the “politically correct” bug would let in the neighborhoods to the latest in space age travel. That is however not the most important part-not the Hollywood “hook” that Seth has told me that every film and every film review needs. Usually it is the time-honored boy meets girl or these days girl meets boy or whatever other combination, hopefully “B” meeting “B” but you don’t see much of that yet the screen can produce-including inter-species love if the 2018 Oscar for Best Film is any indication. Here though and it will drag out at least through this first trilogy, the part of the saga that is the fight against the dark side, the Darth Vader side is the whole question of good and evil and what to do about it. What do good guys and gals do about it when the baddies want the galaxy and they want it now.

With that as the backdrop we have our three main players here and in the trilogy. Future Jedi warrior prince angel avenger Luke Skywalker, played by young Mark Hamill, the fairy queen Princess Leia of the royal house of whatever since apparently even is advanced space technology and future times we are going to be bedeviled by goddamn monarchies and future romantic interest Han Solo, played by hard-working Harrison Ford of the jut-jaw who is the only one who broke out of the sci-fi paydays good as they were. (Han was in once everybody figured out you can’t have incest once it turns on a dime that Luke and Leia were brother and sister and, and the children of … well see the film, oops see the trilogy). They will be guided in their battles against the fallen satanic angel gone on a vengeance run one Black Knight breathing heavy Darth Vader and his boss some mad monk who as usual wants to rule the world and needs a good gunslinger to do his dirty word. The battle is joined, the endless battles and heavy casualties on the bad guys side. This is one point I will agree with Will Bradley on for such a massive force the bad guys seem to be very ill-trained not to be able to beat a few kids and assorted amateurs. More later since I have run out of billable words.    

*Walk Right In Is Right- The Blues Up Close And Country

Click On The Title To Link To YouTube's Film Clip Of Bukka White Performing "Panama Limited". Wow!

CD Review

When The Sun Goes Down: Walk Right In, various artists, BMG Music, 2002

In the course of the past year or so I have highlighted any number of blues CD compilations as I have tried to search for the roots of the American musical experience, and in the process retraced some of the nodal points of my own musical interests. I never tire of saying that I have been formed, and reformed by the blues so that when I came upon this “When The Sun Goes Down” series (a very apt expression of the right time for the playing of the blues) I grabbed each copy with both hands. In one series, the producers, as an act of love without question, have gathered up the obscure, the forgotten, the almost forgotten and the never to be forgotten voices that “spoke” to me in my youth and started me on that long ago love affair with the blues. I have hardly been alone on that journey but it is nice to see that some people with the resources, the time, money and energy have seen fit to honor our common past. Each CD reviewed here, and any future ones that I can get my hands on for there are more than the three I am reviewing today, is chock full of memorable performances by artists who now will, through the marvels of modern high technology, gain a measure of justified immortality.

Here is the cream. As always “Big Joe” Williams holds forth on “Baby, Please Don’t Go”. The only question is how many strings does the guitar that he is using on this track have? I know it isn’t six. That’s too easy. Moving on, no anthology of the country blues is complete without a Lead Belly song. Although he has never been on the top of my country blues list here his “Ham an’ Eggs” and, of course, the jumping “Midnight Special” are well done. Hey, I only said he wasn’t only MY A-list not that he wasn’t a great and worthy blues legend. Big Bill Broonzy is definitely on my A-list and he shows off here with “Mississippi River Blues”. A real treat in this compilation is the inclusion of Milton Brown and His Musical Brownies doing “Garbage Man Blues” Why? Well, at one time, before his early death in an automobile accident, he was a real challenger to Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys for the title of "King of Western Swing”. Moreover, unlike my questioning the placement of yodeler Jimmy Rodgers as a blues man (in another CD in this series) Milton Brown fits right in here.

All hail Bukka White. I have been raving about my relatively recent “discovery” of Brother White every since I saw him on a Stephan Grossman DVD musical documentary that also included Son House. Old Bukka blew House, that well-respected and seminal figure in country blues away. Here Bukka holds forth on the old railroad blues tune “The Panama Limited”, a song that I first heard way back in the day when it was covered by folk revivalist Tom Rush on one of his early albums. Tommy Johnson, as on a previous CD in this series, stands out with “Cold Drink Of Water Blues”. No wonder blues woman Rory Block, a key figure in the modern “discovery” of his work, chose to cover this classic.

Two exceptional treats here are the incomparable Paul Robeson reaching down for “Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child”. Nothing I could say here would give an adequate expression to the voice of Brother Robeson. We may have been left wing political opponents but when the deal went down he could sings circles around anyone else, especially with his primordial emotive powers. All I can say is that you have to hear this one. The other treat is a genuine piece of black cultural history, the weaving of politics and religion that, in a pre-Obama age (and maybe even now) drove one aspect of black musical expression. Here we have the Reverend J.M. Gates doing “Somebody’s Been Stealin’” (along with some members of his congregation). If you want to hear what bluesman Blind Willie Johnson and, let’s say, a black politician like Adam Clayton Powell fed off of in order to learn to “speak’ in the cadence of the black masses in the first third of the 20th century listen up.

Aberdeen Mississippi 2:33 Trk 9
Bukka White (Booker T. Washington White)
Bukka White - vocal & guitar
& Washboard Sam (Robert Brown) - wshbrd.
Recorded: March 7th & 8th 1940 Chicago, Illinois
Album: Parchman Farm Blues, Roots RTS 33055

I was over in Aberdeen
On my way to New Orlean
I was over in Aberdeen
On my way to New Orlean
Them Aberdeen women told me
Will buy my gasoline

Hey, two little women
That I ain't ever seen
They has two little women
That I ain't never seen
These two little women
Just from New Orlean

Ooh, sittin' down in Aberdeen
With New Orlean on my mind
I'm sittin' down in Aberdeen
With New Orlean on my mind
Well, I believe them Aberdeen women
Gonna make me lose my mind, yeah

(slide guitar & washboard)

Aber-deen is my home
But the mens don't want me around
Aberdeen is my home
But the men don't want me around
They know I will take these women
An take them outta town

Listen, you Aberdeen women
You know I ain't got no dime
Oh-oh listen you women
You know'd I ain't got no dime
They been had the po' boy
All up and down.

(guitar & washboard to end)

Friday, July 06, 2018

Songs For Our Times-Build The Resistance-Playing For Change- Bob Marley's "One Love"

Songs For Our Times-Build The Resistance-Playing For Change- Bob Marley's "One Love"       

During, let’s say the Obama administration or, hell, even the Bush era, for example  we could be gentle angry people over this or that notorious war policy and a few others matters and songs like Give Peace A Chance, We Shall Overcome, or hell, even that Kumbaya which offended the politically insensitive. From Day One of the Trump administration though the gloves have come off-we are in deep trouble. So we too need to take off our gloves-and fast as the cold civil war that has started in the American dark night heads to some place we don’t want to be. And the above song from another tumultuous time, makes more sense to be marching to. Build the resistance!

Standard guitar tuning:

A Call to Observe Hiroshima and Nagasaki Week in Massachusetts

A Call to Observe Hiroshima and Nagasaki Week in Massachusetts

Building Peace with North Korea and Iran

August 5 - August 9, 2018

Michelle Cunha and Mike Van Elzakker at Korea Peace Network's lobby days, June 11-12

73 years have passed since the United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, 48 years since the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) took effect, and almost one year since the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons opened for signing.  Yet the five original nuclear weapons states, led by the United States, have not taken serious action on their commitments to abolish nuclear weapons.

After threatening North Korea with “fire and fury”, President Trump held a summit meeting with Chairman Kim Jong-un, but much work remains to resolve the nuclear crisis with North Korea and bring peace to the Korean peninsula.  He unveiled a Nuclear Posture Review that for the first time declares that the U.S. might use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear threats, and he continues to fund the $1.2 billion nuclear weapons escalation program.   President Trump broke the Iran nuclear deal, falsely claiming that Iran was a nuclear threat. 
In reality, it is the United States’ 6,500 nuclear warheads, although with those of the other nuclear powers, that pose an imminent threat to humanity.  The President can launch a civilization-destroying nuclear war on his sole authority.
Without a powerful grassroots movement dedicated to nuclear disarmament, the world’s nuclear crisis will only get worse instead of better. Therefore, Massachusetts Peace Action joins with peace groups, people of faith, youth, community groups, and human rights advocates who have organized events across Massachusetts on August 5-9, 2018, to call attention to the people’s demand for an end to the $1 trillion nuclear weapons escalation and the failure of the United States to support the nuclear ban treaty.
We urge your or your organization to plan an event in your town, church, or campus. Send information on your events to We will publish a calendar of events across the state so that all people who seek a peaceful world will know that they are not alone!   Last year, we listed 17 events in Massachusetts and we hope to top that this year! 
We hope you will collaborate with us in this joint effort! Contact 617-354-2169 or with questions or to connect and exchange ideas.
We have posted the events we know about here.


Grafton Peace Pagoda's Peace WalkSaturday August 4, 1pm, Hanscom Air Force Base, Lincoln – Nuclear Holocaust Peace Pilgrims. Join the monks and nuns of the Grafton Peace Pagoda at Hanscom Air Force Base and for the other events on their walk for nuclear disarmament. 
Sunday, August 5, Amherst to Leverett – Peace Walk with the monks and nuns of the Grafton Peace Pagoda followed by Hiroshima Ceremony, then continuing on to Vermont Yankee, Bennington, Saratoga Springs, Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory, and Grafton on August 12. 
Michelle Cunha and Mike Van Elzakker at Korea Peace Network's lobby days, June 11-12
Sunday, August 5, 11:45 am, Cambridge Common – Remembering Hiroshima and Nagasaki: Welcoming Momentum for Peace in Korea.  Outdoor gathering after church.

How to Participate

75 to charity
We urge your organization to plan an event in your town, church, or campus. Send information on your events to and we will add it to our current calendar so that all people who seek a peaceful world will know that they are not alone! Last year, we listed 17 events inMassachusetts and we hope to top that this year!  

We hope you will collaborate with us in this joint effort! Contact 617-354-2169 or info@masspeaceaction.orgwith questions or to connect and exchange ideas.

"Not one step back"

Cole Harrison
Executive Director
Massachusetts Peace Action - the Commonwealth's largest grassroots peace organization
11 Garden St., Cambridge, MA 02138
617-354-2169 w
617-466-9274 m
Twitter: masspeaceaction

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