Kickstart the Gold Dust Orphans in NYC

Howdy folks!

The summer’s coming to a close. Time to trade the tees for longsleeves, the sandals for sneakers, and the beach bods for the muffin tops. (I’m already one step ahead of you guys on that one.)

Change is in the air. My girl‘s moving away, AJ and I are doing some major domestic planning, and maintaining this site is becoming a huge passion project. So when I see others taking new leaps, breaking new ground, and adding something big to the world, it gets me pumped. After all, innovation is in season.

In that spirit, I’m ecstatic to spread the word about an INCREDIBLE local theater troupe who needs help making their next major career move.

The Gold Dust Orphans have been mainstays of the Boston underground theater scene since the mid-1990’s. Their schtick: razor-sharp drag-infused parodies of old school movies, musicals, and stageplays. And their titles alone are worth the ticket price. Notable productions include The Gulls, Phantom of the Oprah, Mary Poppers, Peter Pansy, and a wonderfully interactive take on The Rocky Horror Show.

These guys are tremendously gifted, committed, and consistent in their output. And the pricing for admission is an affordable alternative to the many big-name productions the city has to offer. In short – its fringe theater at its finest.

They deserve a bigger audience. And we have the opportunity to help them.

KickstarterLogo

Ryan Landry and Co. created a Kickstarter project earlier this summer. Their goal: To bring their production of Mildred Fierce to NYC.

As of August 30, 2013, they’re 4/5 of the way to funding the project. 6 days remain. They’re almost there, but they could use your help. And they’re offering some pretty phenomenal rewards for your support.

If you believe in great theater, help these guys. Even if its $5. Show the world that there is a place for the arts. That following your dreams and making people happy is always en vogue.

And even if you can’t now, catch one of their shows! I promise you won’t regret it.

Donations can be made here. And here’s a cute little promotional video for your viewing pleasure.

Happy labor day weekend, y’all.

A Love Letter to the Mendon Drive-In

Being a child of the 90’s in good ole’ Milford MA, theater options were scant. Nonexistent, really. I’d heard fairytales of the Twin theaters that inhabited our once lively downtown, but when I came into the picture, they were kaput. Shame too, seeing as both were 10 minutes from my home.

Alas, times are a-changin’. In the mid ’90’s, the Bellingham theater put the twins out of business. For most, the highway-side location reads “convenience.” For Milfordians, though, it was a hard loss. We went from having two theaters in our backyard to a noisy major cinema a few exits away. It was one of many steps that resulted in a much quieter, far less social town center. Any evidence of the before times was effectively eradicated when they tore down the State Theatre. Its replacement? A bank. Mary Poppins never would have stood for this!

statetheatre

It was a bleak future, indeed. But not hopeless. Every summertime, local cinephiles have something to look forward to:

The Mendon Drive-In.

I distinctly remember seeing Jurassic Park in the summer of ’93. A wee lad of 7. It rained as the T-rex annhiliated his cage and sniffed out his kid victims. My heart raced. Will that film screen shield me from the beast? Tucked behind my iron blanket I repeated the mantra: It’s. Not. Real.

Later experiences were far less taxing on my psyche. I remember childhood favorites Beethoven’s 2nd, Rookie of the Year, Monkey Trouble, Toy Story, and Independence Day. Front row. In later years, it was Saving Private Ryan, War of the Worlds, and Ratatouille. The list goes on.

Our visits became a summer routine. We’d load up the car with blankets, pillows, chairs, and bug-spray. The essentials. Then we’d just go. I remember the smell of the tin carrying a triad of popcorn flavors (cheese, caramel, and buttered). If we pleaded long enough, our parents would buy us french fries or mozzie sticks from the snackbar.

As I got older I’d bring friends. And most recently, I had the chance to add my loving partner to the list.

I came to realize how special the place is. AJ had never been to one. Close friend and internet personality Max Pacheco was also a drive-in newbie. Seeing their glee-filled visits reminded me how rare this sort of thing is today.

In 1957, there were 4,000 drive-in theaters in the US. Now it’s barely 400. And to my knowledge, only three remain in Massachusetts.

It’s no accident that the few standing continue to thrive. With digital projectors going mainstream, movie studios are sending a clear message to the locally owned mom-and-pop theaters: Adapt or die.

Mendon defiantly chose the former; They made the switch to digital. In 1998, they added a second screen. The website got an upgrade, and their food and service improved. Just last year, they were even recognized as one of Phantom Gourmet‘s Hidden Jewels.

mendon-ma

The world today isn’t the one I knew in 1993. I now find that there are monsters far scarier than huge prehistoric lizards. And that’s not just because they actually had chicken feathers.

No, what scares me more is how quickly I forget these things. How quickly the public forgets. And how unfriendly the plummeting numbers can be.

My interests have shifted since I was a kid. While I’m certain that I want to add to the world, I wasn’t always sure how. Adulthood assures me that writing is it. I ultimately want to pen a successful screenplay. In my life, nothing matches the experience of a movie that really connects.

That moment where there is no distinction between yourself and the world onscreen. When the T-rex gets close and blows the hat clear off your head. When all you can do is just sit and stare. That’s the good stuff.

My drive-in endures and improves. It keeps up the pace in an industry declining. And above all, it makes experiences like the one above a reality. It gives us a venue to explore a realm of fantasy while promoting the social experience of “going to the movies.” And it’s doing everything in its power to stick around for awhile.

For more info, visit their official website

Read more about other nation-wide Drive-Ins below:

An Informative, Nostalgic Piece about Arizona’s Glendale 9 Drive-In

A Humor-Filled Tale of a Drive-In Misadventure

Review of San Jose, California’s Falafel Drive-In, Commending It’s Good Eats

A Brief Commemoration of a Local Gem in Abilene, TX

Shared Experience and Sharing the Word for Project Drive-In

Some fun facts about the Ford-Wyoming Drive-In of Dearborn, Michigan

An Informative Piece About the Drive-In Model, Past & Present

The Drive-In Experience, Through the Eyes of a Grateful Little Kid

Invite Important Ingredients

Sunday, August 18th was a celebration day! We were invited by Spencer’s Grandmother to a celebration dinner.

  • A very close family friend experienced a doctoral accomplishment.
  • Spencer’s Birthday was a few days earlier.
  • Paige (his sis) is leaving for college in a few days.
  • The weather was great; We’re the type of crew that just celebrates, never really need a big deal reason.

So, I want to focus on the recipe for success that Grandmother followed.

Ingredients:

  • Planned food that all enjoy. Two different entrees for 8 or 9 people is just as easy as making a little more of one. Part of the planning was prepping in advance which moved the cooking time and saved the cook/hostess from being shackled to the stove.2013-08-18 21.22.33
    • The menu began with goat cheese and fig preserve served with a delicious cracker variety. Spinach dip with tortilla chips. Cold drinks of all kinds.
    • Entrees were fresh lobsters, steamed mussels, backed stuffed chicken, roasted potatoes and the salad that you see here. I learned that the lobsters were fresh that morning (steamed at the grocery) from Market Basket.
    • Dessert was a custom ice cream cake from Cold Stone Creamery and one of four different kinds of coffee out of the Keurig.
  • The right mix of people. This was a family event in every way. One of the guests naturally made sure there was enough fig preserve with the goat cheese hors d’oeuvres. Another set the table. Another totally enjoyed washing some of the dishes once the dish washer was filled up. All invited had a great time and after many hours we all agreed that we’d love to stay, but bed time was calling. LOL!
  • Leftovers. A few of us took home some of the leftover seafood and were able to reminisce the great times again and again.
    • I was able to make the salad I showed you last week.
    • I also enjoyed a stir fry of Lobster and mussels in an olive oil wrap with one Laughing Cow Light Blue Cheese wedge spread onto the wrap before filling it with the warm lobster and mussels.

Mothers and Grandmothers have special ways in which they love, sometimes forcefully and sometimes very passively with both encouragement and devotion. It took me a long struggle to understand all of mom’s goose-ing techniques. I now can look back and see the amazing artistry of Nana Haven and Mama Leto and find myself applying their tools and tips and ideas into my life. I’m also doing more to develop myself. I am. I like it.

Further, I’m recalling this event with a new fondness today and recollecting that we were all one type of person that afternoon. We were ourselves.

Life with family and friends. Enjoy.

Breaking Bad Final Countdown: Part 3 of 8

September 29, 2013 will mark one of the saddest days in television history: The conclusion of Vince Gilligan’s game-changing dramatic series, Breaking Bad.

Truly, few samples of film, standalone or episodic, can match the skillful pacing or narrative flair of this show. And for that reason, I will pay my personal homage through the blogosphere: Episode-by-episode critiques and recaps of the final 8 installments of the series.

Be warned, there will likely be spoilers abound. This is primarily for fans who crave a post-viewing play-by-play. Comments are encouraged.

So without further ado:

Season 5 Episode 11 (Original Air Date: August 25, 2013)

bb_ep11_1

In case there was any doubt, Walter White does not give a fuck. You may have had your suspicions when he directly murdered some folks and poisoned a kid and passively watched a woman die. Mother Teresa he ain’t. But beyond being sociopathic or deceptive or just plain mean, he occupies a whole ‘nother level of grotesque. We’re talking downright evil.

More on that later. This is Breaking Bad, so above any one character is story. And here we have one of the most masterfully crafted in the series.

Pre-title credits, we check in with Todd. He leaves a voicemail with Walt about “a change in management” and asks that he call back for details. In a diner, we see the makings of a next generation meth-pusher in Todd’s cinematic retelling of the Great New Mexico Train Heist. He’s meeting with presumable business partners who later sneak away into a public restroom where one curiously wipes some blood off his boots. Ah, that change in management.

It will be interesting to see where this part of the story will tie into the final events of the series, especially seeing as all the major players seem pre-occupied with other plot lines. But even as we now have questions, these cryptic scenes have dramatic purpose in “the now.” The past isn’t through with these characters. Now, more than ever, every move counts.

Hank’s in a delicate situation. He’s tried desperately to squeeze information out of all of his adversaries. Which includes virtually everyone. Marie’s technically on his side, but let’s be real: that’s a major handicap.

He craves morale. Any reason to keep going. Mr. Pinkman should fit the bill, right? I mean, the guy is DE-pressed. Totally viciously ripped apart inside. Like a lion sniffing a broken-limbed gazelle, this should be beyond easy. But no, not even this guy will give up the good stuff. Saul eventually cuts into Hank and Jesse’s awkward prom dance, but only after its made painfully clear that Jesse’s lips are sealed. How painfully emasculating. Sorry bro.

Back at the Whites, Walt is debriefed by Saul and gives instruction for the next play. Junior yells something to dad about visiting Aunt Marie to help fix her computer, but we know better… Junior’s an idiot with computers! He’s like, the WORST guy to ask for help in that capacity. Walt has to think fast, so he brings up his cancer. But, if you want to leave your dying dad alone to help your kleptomaniac, meddling Aunt, I’ll be fine. I’m sure the neighbors will hear me scream if I fall over. Naturally, the empathetic Junior stays. Sucker.

Before a word from the sponsors, we see Marie freak out at Hank for keeping Walt’s secret a secret. Then we’re taken back to Episode 1 of the series as Walt and Skyler agree to film a confession. Note Walt’s behavior in front of a camera this time around. There’s no sense of fear or urgency or even regret. He’s entirely stoic. Purposeful. Vulcan-logical.

We sit at the edge of our seat through the commercial break and come back just in time to catch a dinner date between the Whites and Schraders. Walt and Skyler play defense, to start. Their opponents assume a more aggressive approach. After continued back-and-forths about child safety and awkwardly ignored guacamole offers, Marie utters the meanest words ever spoken by anyone ever.

“Why don’t you kill yourself, Walt?”

I want to reiterate that Walt is basically the worst person on this planet earth, but shit. This lady really gives him a run for his money with that one. Like, how rude.

The Schraders try desperately to back the Whites into a corner, but all this really does is confirm to the audience that they have NO IDEA who they’re messing with. Speaking of which, back to the recorded confession…

Its done. Well, a rough cut anyway. It could use some touch-ups in post, but for now, its ready for private viewing. H&M watch it at home with a critical eye. Walt wants some feedback.

It was good, brother-in-law. You tell a good story. Very believable emotional responses to the information being presented. I do wonder, though, if this is a narrative that could potentially ruin my life forever. That whole thing about me using my knowledge and power as a DEA to bully you into being my meth cook could really damage my character. I can’t quite prove that Gus wasn’t a business partner either, or that I orchestrated his death for that matter. And the $177k in medical bills that I “forced” out of you? Well, geez. You’d have me in quite a pickle with that one.

Evil is the theme here. Pure unadulterated evil. I know its standard for in-laws not to get along, but this is – Damn. I’m thinking Hank might want to actually take Marie’s advice at this point.

So there’s one threat eliminated. Walt’s way too smart for Hank, and what can he really do? He’s a man of the law – he can’t go rogue. Its about 99% safe to assume that Walt’s got him stalemated. But then, there’s also a loose cannon that needs fixin’.

bb_ep11_2

Saul and Jesse meet Walt in the desert to discuss a few things. Its worth review that, while waiting, Jesse watches a tarantula pass by his feet. Hmm, where did we see one of those before? Ah right, when it was snatched from the cold dead fingers of a dead boy who kinda-but-not-really witnessed the train heist. Point is: He’s dead. Jesse doesn’t like that. Never has.

Walt inspects the vehicle for trackers and asks Jesse about the information he’s given Hank and how much he thinks he knows. Nothing. Perfect. You should get out of here, Walt suggests. Start clean. For your own good.

For all of Jesse’s idiotic impulses and erratic behavior, he’s always been kind of a sweetie pie. And puppy-loyal. Its kind of endearing, but mostly pathetic, and that culminates in a raw moment with Walt in this scene. Jesse feels dicked-around, and he wants some honesty. But more than that, he wants Walt to admit that he needs him. Even if this particular “need” is for Jesse to disappear.

So Walt gives him a hug. He consoles him the way humans like to be consoled. Through physical contact. Warm, friendly, entirely calculated and disconnected human contact.

At the carwash, a heavily shadowed Walt ominously assures Skyler that they’re “fine.” Skyler seems oddly unconvinced. Cut to Hank in his office, calling off the dogs and letting Jesse go scott-free.

So as Saul sends off his client, it seems that all is right in the world. Removing Jesse from the picture is really a key element to Walt’s success. Why? Because Hank is a man guided by logic. When he’s enraged, he’s still effectively leashed to the green grass of common law. Which means, no matter how desperate he may become, there’s always a limit.

But what about a guy whose libido is king? He’s got a human capacity for morality, but what keeps him grounded? Where’s Jesse’s leash?

It was firmly in Walt’s hands, but then he let it go. Find a new home, pup. We can’t take care of you anymore. And it almost worked, before that simple discovery that sent Jesse over the edge. That minute detail that pattered in his mind as delicately as a tarantula on sand.

This is getting REALLY good folks. Stay tuned for next week.

To review last week’s episode, click here.

Coming Attractions

Every Friday, we’ll offer a quick itinerary of fun movie openings, events, talks, festivals, and anything else film-related that we think you should know about. What’s more? Its all local (MA and RI and beyond, for the real exciting stuff).

Here’s what’s new:

Cutie and the Boxer (kendall square cinema)

If early reviews are to be believed, Cutie and the Boxer may have what it takes to enter the canon of great docs about art. Angled at a labored love between a starving Japanese artist and his assistant in NYC, it looks to be uncommonly alive and emotionally textured. For those in search of an unconventional love story, this might be the place.

(Showtimes available August 23-29 @ Kendall Square Cinema)

The World’s End

Remember Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz? Same guys. ‘Nuff said. What’s that? Need more convincing? Geez you’re hard to please. Alright, watch the video.

(Wide Release)

And that’s all for today, folks. See you Monday!

Lobster, Tabbouleh, Spaghetti Squash salad

Time after time, I take food home with plans to incorporate the bit or bits of leftover food into a delicious meal. The Tabbouleh is from Chez Shelly. Stay tuned for the lobster origin.

lobstertaboulesaladI love crunch and strong flavors, which is why a series of individually cooked ingredients put together in a salad is always a top choice. The ingredients with calorie count is here. I chopped up the lettuce, layered the tabbouleh and squash, drizzled with balsamic vinegar and positioned the lobster on top. I don’t plate food in this organized fashion just for the camera.

Lunch was delicious, filling and satisfying. I felt good and not hungry for the right amount of time. 

Taking a look at what you have in the house and making deliciousness out of it is a skill that I’ve learned in recent years. Using what you have around the house opens up both your creativity and your budget. Leave me some comments on recipes that you’ve made from items that ‘shouldn’t work’.

Either way, enjoy.

The Call

Logline

An empathetic 911 dispatcher gets a second chance to capture a crazed child abductor when she receives a phone call from his latest victim.

Why we went

It was a night in for myself and Paige. We’ve been wanting to see this since March, and I’ve been theater-deprived. So we boldly went where 35,000 other IMDB users had gone before.

Why it worked…?

The Call may be ridiculous. Its character’s may act questionably and the cinematography may feel like an elaborate episode of NCIS. These things I expected. What surprised me was a movie as consistently fun as this one turned out to be.

Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine) owns it as a totally terrified blonde girl from the ‘burbs. When she comes to in her captor’s car trunk, she finds the perfect pitch and consistently sustains it. Thanks to strong casting, ours is a teenage victim we’d prefer get home safe.

Which is why we also take a liking to her potential rescuer, Halle Berry. Her performance is wonderful. I could stare at that woman for hours on end. But that’s probably just because she’s unrealistically perfect, even beneath her Kyle Broflovski jew-weave.

Story-wise, it works and it doesn’t. The beats make for a speedy play-by-play. We get into each scene late and leave early. Never was I bored. But the events don’t exactly unfold in a sensible way. Half the time, we question the actions of the characters on-screen. Really, you’re gonna go down that dark hallway unaccompanied with no cell phone service?! I’m not convinced, but do carry on. It’s a perfect example of that moment where you can see the puppet strings.

I took major issue with the stuttering camerawork too. Shaky faux-handheld needs to die, please. It ruined The Hunger Games for me and it totally peeled me away from some of The Call’s more suspenseful moments. Not always, but enough to annoy.

There’s a school of thought that says, “All’s well that ends well.” If you prescribe to this belief, you have 1 of 2 options: 1. Turn the movie off at about the 93 minute mark, or 2. Just don’t bother at all. Seriously. Its about as satisfying as a rice cake.

Bottom Line

You will have fun as its happening, but those seeking a satisfying, logically sound story will find that The Call flatlines.