What to Wear to a Witchhunt

Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers

You cursed New York Times! Look what you’ve done! I’m melting! Melting! Oh, what a world! What a week! Who would have thought that a failing publication like you could destroy my beautiful and it really is beautiful, some people say that it is probably the most beautiful wickedness that has ever been. Ooh, look out! I’m going! Ooh! Ooh! 

There maybe no place like home, but it’s taken far more than three clicks of the heels to bring these ruby slippers back home. The FBI announced that a pair of the famed red-sequined slippers from “The Wizard of Oz” that were stolen 13 years ago, have been recovered this week. But this post is about way more than just a pair of pumps.

Is the Wicked Witch dead, at least politically? If so, who did it? Some people are saying I didn’t do it. Actually, a lot of people are saying this same thing now, but someone out there is thinking, I didn’t mean to do it. Really, I didn’t. It was an accident. It’s just that he was setting our country on fire, but then there were those tax cuts. Back where I come from people who do nothing all day but write op-ed pieces. They are called enenomous, enninonuss, er, yea, unknown people. Now a new hunt is on for this man. The Wicked Witch is not dead, which is why this Anonymous is now trying to lay low and stay out of his way.

Just try! I’ll get you, my pretty, and your little dog, too!
Toto too?

Today, former President Obama uttered the name Donald Trump for the first time in public since his inauguration in a speech at the U of I. Kicking off his campaign for Democrats in the midterm elections, Obama’s message to the students there was simple, go vote. In this fiery speech, he asked, “What happened to the Republican Party?” and after enumerating their many failings over the last two years, he added, “That’s not how our democracy’s supposed to work.” His prescription for going forward was simple, “What’s going to fix our democracy is you.” It was a call to arms, a call to go vote. If you agree with Obama vote Democrat on November 6th and let the real witch hunting begin! 

Lizzie

[White & Purple] Mask, David Moore, 1971

Yesterday, was the 126th anniversary of Fall River’s most infamous murders, the Borden axe murders. In this case, the daughter Lizzie Borden was accused of murdering her father and stepmother with an axe. She was tried, but acquitted by the jury. But in the court of public opinion she was found guilty and immortalized in this little skip-rope ditty:

Lizzie Borden took an axe
And gave her mother forty whacks.
When she saw what she had done,
She gave her father forty-one.

These murders have captured the public’s imagination from their inception to today. The latest iteration is a movie due out next month called Lizzie that stars Kristen Stewart and Chloë Sevigny. Here is its YouTube trailer.

In reading a review of this movie, I also had the opportunity to read a copy of the first Boston Globe article about this case. In this article, which was written the day of the murders, Lizzie is not yet considered a suspect. Suspicion was being directed at some nameless Portuguese man. It’s distressing, to note that from Borden’s time to today people first look for a minority to blame.

Also, in this article is a description of the events in the immediate aftermath of the murders, Lizzie sent Bridget Sullivan the maid to fetch Dr. Bowen. Part of my personal connection with this case, other than being born in Fall River and having a last name of Axe, is that my grandparents lived on Bowen Street. I later met some of the Bordens.

Years ago, we were at the wedding of Peter and Evelyn, high school friends from Ann Arbor. Peter is a Borden. His middle name is Borden. Two of his aunts also attended the wedding. When I learned that they too were from Fall River, I introduced myself to them. I think that my last name was too much for them though. These two elderly women were aghast with me. Even with the intervening years, I don’t think that they were old enough then to be alive at the time of the murders, but they certainly heard about them, much too often and I must have been just one more reminder of events that they would rather forget. 

Captain Dick

Forecaster front page + Dan’s Birthday Candle

Pictured are members of the crew for the movie Blow the Man Down. Most of the men are shoveling snow that had just been delivered for a later scene shoot. Dan made the wooden cutout of the lobsterman, who he calls Captain Dick. Dan is barely discernible in the photo. He is on the far right, in front of the house. He is working on a mechanism for the cutout. I’m sure that is his birthday candle.

Shooting has wrapped and Dan should be back in Brooklyn early next week. First, the film had little or no snow, then three nor’easters later they had too much snow and had to go back and reshoot some scenes. Now, it appears that they’ve run out of the white stuff again and have to import it. Years ago, they filmed the Wisconsin winter wedding chapel scene at the end of  the George Clooney movie, Up in the Air, at a church adjacent to Dan’s Maplewood apartment. There they resorted to spray-painting dirt white to make snow. At least they didn’t have to do anything like that here. I hope.

Blow the Man Down is an indie film with chops. Its producers also produced the Oscar wining movie, Little Miss Sunshine. Lead actresses, Margo Martindale (Justified & The Americans) and Annette O’Toole (Smallville) have appeared in numerous film and TV productions. I’ve seen Ms. Martindale in Justified, where she plays a badass old lady crime boss. The following is this movie’s synopsis: 

An accidental murder. An established madam who does her dirtiest business while the town willingly looks the other way. 50 grand of cash up for grabs and the local men out to sea … enter two sisters with nothing and everything to lose.

Dan worked as a set dresser (read carpenter) on this film. In LA, he held this job on several films too, but those were student films. This is his first real movie. As proud parents, we look forward to its release and plan on watching the credits. 

Gringo

Gringo

Amazon’s “Gringo” begins with a frantic speakerphone call from Harold (David Oyelowo) to his two corporate Chicago bosses Richard (Joel Edgerton) and Elaine (Charlize Theron). Harold has called to say that he is in Mexico, he has been kidnapped and has a gun to his head. Oh, and they want $5M in ransom. 

The movie quickly rewinds 48 hours, allowing us see how Harold found himself in this predicament. It turns out that he has been managing the development of the pharmaceutical Cannabax, the weed pill, medical marijuana’s answer to Viagra. As the American representative of corporate, it is natural for the locals to think of him as El Jefe. Anyway, that’s who the cartel thinks he is…

The dark comedy in this show is punctuated with brutal scenes of violence. Its action sequences arrive with a crash (Befitting former stuntman turned director Nash Edgerton’s background.) and are separated with interludes of biting satire. There are plenty of other Americanos running around in this film and most of these characters are loathsome enough to make one wonder if Mexico should be building the wall, if only to keep them all out, but Harold is the gringo that everyone wants to get their hands on. This comic crime caper succeeds in entertaining the audience throughout for the period of the show and then leaves you with a few things to think about afterwards. 

We scored free tickets to the pre-showing of this movie as an attendance prize from last month’s Science on Tap. It opens in general release this weekend and eventually, it will come to rest on Amazon Prime, as original content. I enjoy going to these early screenings, because their timing gives my movie reviews more importance and allows me to feel a little bit like a big boy journalist. 😉

Bond, James Bond

London Pearlies

Anne, Joan, Pat and I attended Science on Tap, the monthly lecture series hosted by Washington University professors and curated by Dr. Cynthia Wichelman. This month’s lecture was entitled, “Serial Bonds: 007 Storytelling since Casino Royale (2006)”. It was given by Colin Burnett, PhD. This talk was a bit of a departure from the scientific origins of this lecture series, but it was not its first trip away from science and towards art. The crux of Burnett’s argument was that the four Bond films starring Daniel Craig represent a departure in the 26 film Bond series. Previously, Bond films all followed the same formula and were cookie cut from that mold. Now, in the Craig era, Bond movies have adopted serialization, just like almost all other blockbuster franchises have since Star Wars. As late comers to this party, this begs the question, what took them?

Burnett touched on the revenue benefits of serialization to the Bond franchise. In my mind these monetary gains are more tangible than any artist ones. I’ve seen all four Craig Bond films and can’t say that they were any better than their predecessors. For me, James Bond has become an anachronism. As a murderous and misogynist white male, is he really what we need now in the #MeToo era?

Black Panther

War Chief, Warriors and Attendants, Edo, 1600s

Is it a coincidence that in 1966 Stan Lee created the comic book character Black Panther and a few months later the activist Black Panther Party was formed? Maybe. It is certainly no coincidence that the movie’s origin story was set in Oakland, where the Black Panther Party was founded. Political references abound throughout the movie “Black Panther”, from its Oakland introduction to its epilogue. [Spoiler Alert] When did the United Nations move to Vienna? Why?

Black Power is on full display. The movie’s cast is almost exclusively black, except for a couple of Tolkien white guys. Afrocentric, “Black Panther” shows Africans unbowed by racism. It has a cast peppered with role models. Strong women predominate. The king’s daddy issues aside, their intellect governs. Unconquered and empowered, the people of Wakanda are a shiny beacon to a movie world that has never seen their like before.

Afro-futurism is a term bandied about with this show. Its African setting and sci-fi patina prompts this aphorism. I wonder what real effects this movie will have upon its target audience. How will black kids react to seeing this movie?  Why positively, of course. In this movie they are shown their future as has not been shown before. Among all the colorful robes and gleaming gizmos, it is in the actors’ countenances and bearing, where the true power of this movie lies.