It’s early to make 2009 resolutions for other people, but if I could just make some requests. I no longer wish to read the phrase “I loves me some (X),” with (x) being the thing you like. And I really don’t want to see any more comments that begin with “Ummm.” I know what you mean: you’re acting like the fellow standing on the periphery of the debate, watching two knuckleheads shout talking points, and you want to step in with crucial information but you’d have to slay six friends in your social circle to get close to Beta Male status, so you slump down and say “ummmm,” to get everyone’s attention in a way that won’t get you beat up by the big guys, and will make all the girls love you for your offbeat, sideways manner. Knock it off. Speak up, dork.

Also done for ’09: “(X), not so much,” with X being the thing that is now bedecked with FAIL and people do not loves them some.

FAIL, being the successor to the reductive internet binary paradigm of “SUCK / ROCK,” should also be retired. Thanks for the funny graphics, though.

Ordinary day, albeit cold and lonely. Worked at home; kept the radio off. Silence. Got lots done, even though the leaf-blower team spent three hours in the neighborhood, including a 90-minute stint at Jasperwood. They got most of the leaves out of the Oak Island Water Feature, which is drained and bereft. Dry fountains always give you pause, what with their Potent Symbolism. When I was in high school I spent two summer sessions at the University of Iowa – speech and debate camp, if you must know, and if you’re U of I alumn and dying to know, Rienow the first year and Burge the second. One nights I came across an abandoned fountain; it looked Roman and ancient and noble and all those things you ascribe to the manifestations of the Classical Revival. If you’re 16 and besotted by the past with a head full of Holst it’s like coming across a fragment of the Acropolis.  I believe it was outside the Chemistry Building, by Capitol and Market. Almost 20 years later, it was still there. Camcorder frame grab from the pre-internet days:

It’s still there, albeit spiffed up – the fountain is gone, and the relief pressed into a concrete block. . (I had the URL, but lost it; trust me.)

How the devil did I get on that? Oh: leaf blowers, dry fountains, melancholy realization of time’s swift passage, idealized notions about Rome, et cetera. The usual. Be grateful I didn't get into the PFM "Photos of Ghosts" album; I was thiiis close.

Jasper dog liked to drink from the fountain, which is why I couldn’t put any chemicals in it. He walked up the stones today, looked in, looked down, looked at me: how about that, boss. Huh. Dogs today, with their ever-crisp toilet water. They don’t know what it’s like to lap up brackish sick-sauce from a stagnant pond.

So that was my day. That, and writing, and the usual duties. On to other things: This week’s black and white feature! Again, these are not intended as boring old reviews; they're attempts to examine the look of old movies, peer at the people who passed across the screen, and see if anyone involved in the movie had any connection to Star Trek.

This one is from the “Forgotten Noir” collection. I presume the purpose of the series is to explain why these films are not recalled; if so, merely showing them answers all questions. Here we go:

No, let’s back up. Titles, please:

So it’s a repeat? The opening shows a fellow walking down the street in the middle of the night; he’s followed by two goons, who trap him in an alley. The picture above is his expression before he gets worked over, after which all is explained by the title:


In Britain, Usury Jaws; in France, Poisson Diabolique d’Argent. Basic plot: honest joes in a tire factory are borrowing money at ridiculously high interest rates, and if they try to skip town or welsh, they get pulverized by the mob’s gorillas. Ah, but who’s behind this fiendish act?

The Professor!

He’s the one who points cash-strapped co-workers to the loan sharks. We’ll get to the rest of the gang in a minute. First, let’s meet the love interests:

2 B, indeed. I dreamed I was smuggling traffic cones in my Maidenform bra! She catches the eye of our two-fisted hero, manly rugged leading man George Raft:

Seriously. George is known mostly for the roles he turned down – “The Maltese Falcon,” “Casablanca,” and “Double Indemnity.” Imagine Harrison Ford turning down "Star Wars" and "Indiana Jones," and ending up in "Death Wish" sequels, and you get hte idea. He had a vogue in the 30s as a tough-guy – when the bad guys and molls toss coins in the “Broadway Melody” sequence in “Singin’ in the Rain,” they’re copying Raft in “Scarface.”  But  “Loan Shark” was made 20 years later, and he just doesn’t make a convincing  babe magnet.

This might be the exact opposite of the concept of “Meeting cute.”

But of course she falls hard for him, and they go to the beach and make out.

Her name was Dorothy Hart; she had a promising career and was much lauded for her beauty and talent, but apparently she grew to hate Hollywood. I wonder why.

This was her last film. She ived another 52 years after being pawed by George Raft, and they appear to have been happy ones;
After this movie, she quit Hollywood and moved back to New York, appeared on TV panel shows and glamour mag covers, and did charity work for the Red Cross.

Anyway. To find out who’s the brains behind the loan-shark operation, George Raft goes undercover at the tire factory, which is now located in a former Batman villain warehouse:


He meets Possible Kingpin #1, recognizable for innumerable bad-guy roles. Recognize?


That’s Paul Stewart. Among his other accomplishments, he was a member of the Mercury Theater – which is why you hear him in “War of the Worlds” 1939 radio broadcast, and see him at the end of the greatest movie ever made, “Citizen Kane.”

I do believe that, incidentally. As a film, a piece of motion picture art, it really sums up everything the medium can do, flaws aside. Anyway: Paul isn’t the top bad guy. We move up the chain, and who do we meet? One of my favorite cold-hearted bastaches, The Wheelchair Millionare from “When Worlds Collide.” Our old Bleat hero, John Hoyt.


There’s a team. Turns out they’re not the top dogs, though. The real brains of the operation is Ed Morrissey:

Actually, that's Lawrence Dobkin.s

You might be surprised to find it ends with a gun battle, and George Raft gets the girl. Alas. No clips  this week – there’s really nothing in the movie that bears excerpting.

Oh: Trek connection?   Lawrence Dobkin. He appeared in a TNG episode and directed a TOS episode, "Charlie X." Which is about as Trektasmic as these things get.

That's it - see you buzz,mn. New Comic cover, too - Great Scott Month continues here.