Tuesday, November 30, 2010




(inspired by the PBS fund-raising special


Did you see old man John Sebastian

on the Public Broadcasting System?

He now looks a little like George Segal

and sounds a lot like Peter Coyote.

Did you see old man Barry McGuire


He now looks like a retired WWE wrestler

and wears NYPD patches on his black T-shirt.

Did you watch this tribute to old folk music

in the comfort of your home

as people protest and die in far-off lands

and American media propagandizes

about the evils of WikiLeaks

and the perfidy of Julian Assange

(the timing of the latter is rather convenient)?

Did you once gather for communal singing

and peaceful demonstration

until you "grew out of it"

because too many people told you

that standing up for the rights of others

was passe and not likely to lead to good job offers?

Of course you did.

And I did too.

Monday, November 29, 2010

RIP Leslie Nielsen and Irvin Kershner

Farewell to two class acts:

By now, you can turn on just about any media outlet and see/hear clips from Leslie Nielsen's appearances in the Zucker/Abrahams/Zucker comedy classics AIRPLANE! and THE NAKED GUN series.

As for director Irvin Kershner, he's fated to be eulogized as the director of numerous franchise sequels--such as RETURN OF A MAN CALLED HORSE, ROBOCOP 2, NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN and, especially, THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (probably the most gripping and adult STAR WARS entry--then George Lucas decided to pull the series back towards a more family-friendly approach from RETURN OF THE JEDI through the prequel trilogy).

Kershner's earlier work included THE HOODLUM PRIEST, UP THE SANDBOX (Barbra Streisand as a dissatisfied housewife), A FINE MADNESS (Sean Connery as a nonconformist poet) and THE FLIM-FLAM MAN (George C. Scott as a Southern con artist).

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Heartwarming story of altruism vs unnecessarily condescending professional poetry behavior.


On a personal level, I'm glad he'll be around for years to come.  Professionally, I wish that more generosity and less conformity to someone else's notions of "quality" (i.e. Murray's usual "layers of meaning" bromide about ideal poetry) could appear under the G. Murray Thomas Poetix.net byline if he's intent on continuing his  self-appointed tenure as a  Revered Figure in Southern California poetry/literature.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A few words about Allan Moyle's 1980 proto-punkette film TIMES SQUARE.


It's unlikely that Allan Moyle's TIMES SQUARE will resurface on DVD, unless Universal Pictures (the current owner) wants to issue it as a print-on-demand offering.

Moyle's best known for two other teen-centered cult films, PUMP UP THE VOLUME and EMPIRE RECORDS.  But TIMES SQUARE was an attempt by producer Robert Stigwood to create a punk/New Wave variant of SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER, with Trini Alvarado as a sheltered Shirley Feeney-type playing off Robin Johnson's Laverne De Fazio/Joan Jett archetype.  According to Moyle's comments at yesterday's screening at L.A.'s Silent Movie Theatre, there was a mild same-sex romance between the two characters, but this was removed by Stigwood before the film's October 1980 release (though some vestiges of it remain in the theatrical print--particularly Johnson's anguished pour-out-my-heart-in-song scene at Tim Curry's radio station).

When I saw TIMES SQUARE in 1980, I disliked the film's venturing into unrealistic (the griminess, and dog-eat-dog behavior of Times Square of that period was, even to the eyes of this then non-urban viewer, somewhat oversanitized)  over-the-top ludicrousness.  Thirty years later, I can see a mixture of what Moyle called "corny" as well as some heartfelt attempts at criticizing pressures to "conform", plus the mindset that any kind of "punk" rebellion was best treated with drugs and institutionalizing.

And, in retrospect, the cartoonish city official character who is the father of Alvarado's Pamela presages Rudolph Giuliani's later successful efforts to re-invent Times Square as a tourist-friendly corporate theme park.

Final note: Trini Alvarado has a whip-my-hair moment that presages Willow Smith by about three decades.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Old poem with update: CAROL

Found out the other day about the passing of Carol Eby McCredie (1959-2007).

Here's a poem I wrote about her (and my immature-at-fifteen mindset) a few years back for my chapbook WICHITA FALLS:


In 1974, I was a member of the
Backdoor Youth Theatre group
in Wichita Falls, Texas.
One Saturday afternoon, I saw
a fifteen-year-old girl with
long brown hair play the role
of Lady Macbeth.
“Out, damned spot!” Carol said
as she convincingly essayed the
madness of the character.

I fell in love.

A few Saturdays later, I asked her for a date.
She smiled and said, “I’ll let you know.”

One Saturday later, we had that date.
I was too young to drive,
so my parents had to chaperone.
I came calling at her parents’ home
near Midwestern University.
My parents went to a movie at the State Theater.
Carol and I went to the old Piccadilly Cafeteria
for dinner.
She told me about her life in Guam
when her father was still in the Air Force.
I told her about my growing up in the
small town of Electra.
She told me of her dislike of Jerry Lewis.
I told her I didn’t think he was all that bad.

Two things were becoming evident.
We didn’t have a lot in common and
I didn’t know how to carry on a conversation.
Those were the days where I didn’t know how
to talk to-or listen to-a woman
especially when she was nine months older
and infinitely more mature than I was.

But I thought she was a goddess
and told myself, “This could work!
Don’t let her get away!
We’re the couple described in
She’s a lady.
And I’m a dreamer.”

After dinner, Carol and I walked
to the Strand Theater and bought
two tickets to Peter Bogdanovich’s
I picked the movie.
I thought that anyone who could
perform Shakespeare would appreciate Henry James.

DAISY MILLER is a film that has disappeared
from American memory.
I remember it as a film where Cybill Shepherd
talked a lot, flirted a lot and then died.
I hoped that Carol would appreciate
my sophisticated taste in movies.

When it was over,
we received a ride
from my parents.
I walked Carol to the front step
of her parents’ home.

“Thanks for a nice evening,” I said.
“Thank you,” she said with a smile.
“Maybe we could do this again sometime,” I said.
“We’ll have to talk about that,” she said in a soft,
quiet voice.

On the way back to Electra,
I began to believe that a love affair
of the ages had begun.
I knew we would see each other again
in theater class-seven whole days away.

I couldn’t wait that long.
Three days later, I sent her
a thank-you card that reiterated
the “thanks for a nice evening”
sentiment I told her previously.
My parents said, “Take it slow.”
I said, “I don’t think she’ll mind.”

Those were the days when I didn’t
want to listen to my parents’ wisdom.
I was fifteen-going on sixteen.
I just knew Carol felt something for me.

Four days passed.
I saw Carol at Backdoor Theatre.
I tried to talk to her but she
seemed to be disinterested in me.
What little conversation there was
concerned the theater class and the
upcoming public performance of scenes
from great American plays.

“Maybe it’s not over,” I thought.
“Perhaps I should wait a few weeks
and call her once more…”

…And that’s exactly what I did.
I called her on the afternoon of
Christmas Eve at her parents’ home.
“You just caught me with a piece of cheese
in my mouth,” Carol said.
I had an upsurge of hope.
She was in a good mood!
Perhaps she’ll say yes!

After about five minutes of casual conversation,
I asked her about the possibility of a second date.
She declined-politely but firmly.
I hung up the phone, devastated.
No great love affair for me.

From that point on, Carol and I saw very little of each other.
We graduated from our separate high schools.
I went to Midwestern (State) University for five years.
She went to Southern Methodist University.
After that, I knew nothing else.

About four years ago, a mutual friend told me
that Carol lived in south Texas.
She was a wife and mother, married to a doctor.
On occasion, she still acted in community theater.

It would be nice to meet her someday
and see the person she has become.
Nowadays, I know a little more about
how to talk-and listen-to people
than I did at the age of fifteen.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

From a different pre-MFA-worship era: Poem called SHALL WE MARCH FORTH?

Years ago, when SoCal poets spoke to each other on listserves rather than via Facebook, a poet suggested that the local community pull together to advance the status and (assuming) the visibility of poetry.  It didn't happen, but here's a poem I wrote inspired by that post:

(inspired by the author responding to
a post where a poet was concerned
that reaching out to a broad audience
meant “watering down” the “art”
of poetry?)

This reminds me of when I used to
go to Screen Actors Guild meetings
and hear complaints that
letting too many background actors
(extras) join the union
would be ruinous
to the art of Acting.

Poets shouldn’t have to worry so much
about “watering down” their work
for the masses when a lot of them
make a strong effort to avoid
intersecting with the masses
under any circumstances.

I’d like to envision a future where poets
could take the stage at Pershing Square
to entertain the lunch-break office
workers, street people and
random passers-by.
Or what remains of the Fairfax
Farmer’s Market,
the Federal Building in Westwood,
etc. etc.

Somewhere besides the usual
coffeehouses and bookstores-
or the usual alternative ways of intersecting
with the public
(“on the bus” readings).

Can we March Forth?

Or will we march into
an early grave-
complaining that
the “stupid masses”
will never appreciate
our brilliance
no matter what we did
or didn’t want to do
or tried to do
or merely thought about doing?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

RIP Dino De Laurentiis

He produced Fellini films.  He produced films for Paramount Pictures release--SERPICO, THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR, the semi-forgotten 1976 KING KONG and THE SHOOTIST being four examples.  And he produced and released films in the 1980s through DeLaurentiis Entertainment Group (DEG)--the best of these include David Lynch's BLUE VELVET and Michael Mann's MANHUNTER.

Here's an obituary: http://tinyurl.com/2cqpb8p


Sunday, November 7, 2010

It was one of the Best of Times....

Giving some public thanks to Rafael F. J. Alvarado, S.A. Griffin and new Beyond Baroque director Richard Modiano for yesterday's Beyond Baroque marathon of poets and writers.

During the time I was there, I got to see Wanda Coleman (for the first time ever), Pam Ward (ditto), Doug Knott and Gerald Locklin--among others (including the talented young Orange County poet Jennifer Donnell).

It was a good learning experience and it reminded me a bit of the kind of poetry and readings that don't seem as prevalent now in today's SoCal literary scene.

Please support Beyond Baroque now and in the future by going to its readings and buying books/chapbooks from the bookstore.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Keith Olbermann of MSNBC gets Griffined.

In the wake of Keith Olbermann's suspension for making small campaign donations to Democrats (seemingly not too ethically challenging for a clearly partisan newsertainer/commenter), one wonders what MSNBC majordomo Phil Griffin (let's pass over the channel's top Republican Joe Scarborough's GOP/Democratic donations for now) has in mind.

My guess is that MSNBC may either rebrand itself as:
1. The channel of the cautious, mild-liberal Center, with Rachel Maddow becoming the only capital-L Liberal safe for Prime Time and Chris Matthews dethroning Olbermann to become the Face of the Channel.
2. The channel's re-embrace of its former Republican, shadow-of-Fox News, phase, with former MSNBC anchors Tucker Carlson and John Gibson maybe being asked to return--with a new show called.....COUNTDOWN WITH PAT BUCHANAN.

UPDATE 11/8/10: Here's a link I did for a YouTube video commenting on the suspension and reinstatement: