Sunday, September 15, 2019

cinema history class (corridors of blood)

Session: Karloff in the Age of Aquarius, Week 1
Movie: Corridors of Blood (1958)
Directed by Robert Day

As always, there may be spoilers here. And the trailer may be NSFW and/or NSFL


A devoted surgeon tries to develop anesthesia, but it gets him entangled in a web of murder. Hilarity ensues.


The most important thing that needs to be said about this movie is that it's a case study in false advertising. The screaming title and the trailer both sell it as an exploitation flick. But it was more intelligent and serious than that.

CoB was addressing the subject of pain in surgery before the use of anesthesia. Because of that it reminded me of Preston Sturges' 1944 film, The Great Moment, which covered the same topic, albeit more seriously and more historically accurate.

Boris Karloff did a great job starring as Dr. Bolton. Tortured by the pain he causes his patients, he tries to invent a method to numb the pain. But, experimenting on himself, he slowly becomes addicted. He did an admirable job portraying the Doctor's descent. But the show was stolen by Christopher Lee playing Resurrection Joe. His haunting performance was the high point.

This exceeded my expectations by a wide margin.

Me: 9.25
Dave: 9.8
Ethan: 9.5
Joe: 10
Sean: 2 out of 4

Saturday, September 14, 2019


I'm not sure how the idea came to me. But it did. That, according to what seems to be the consensus was a major spiritual failing on my part.

Maybe it was the fact that I had a container of kiwi fruit on my desk. And that I was hungry. At any rate, I started wondering what pizza would taste like with kiwi on it. I put it out on Facebook because, well, everyone knows that the best way to get a reliable answer is to throw the question out to a self-selecting mob.

The Facebook answers were largely in agreement, except for the couple of folks who thought of so-called "dessert pizza," everyone seemed to think that kiwi pizza sounded like a bad idea. But more -- it wasn't just bad food. It was some kind of spiritual transgression. Which meant I had to try it.

Bear in mind that I was thinking about pineapple pizza. That's a hotly debated topic in the pizza world, with traditionalists rejecting the idea --sort of like cinnamon raisin bagels raised to the tenth power. Myself, I'm not crazy about pineapple on pizza, but I find it edible. That said, pineapple and pizza both taste better if not mixed. At any rate, that was my model. Pineapple is a sweet but tangy fruit, and so is kiwi. Maybe they'd be OK together. And, over the phone, Blair reminded me that I have relatives who put cheddar cheese on apple pie. I don't find that at all appealing, but it's a similar concept -- a mixing of sweet and savory.

So, come lunchtime, I went out and got a couple slices. Then off to lunch with a colleague (who took one of the pictures) in Conference Room 16Q.**

I sliced up a kiwi and put some pieces on the end of one of the pizza slices -- I was all down for trying it, but I didn't want to ruin a whole slice in case it was vile.

The verdict? It wasn't terrible. It wasn't great, but it was edible. That whole tart/sweet combination was doing its thing. Sort of like pineapple pizza. I don't think I'll ever have it again -- if I want pizza and kiwi in the same meal, it's better to keep them separate.

What I'd love to know is how many of the people who reacted completely negatively to the idea also hate pineapple pizza?

*I won't reveal his name. Suffice to say he also likes food.
**Yes, for real.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

meeting an idol

In my Tunesday post from this week, I explained at length why I wasn't going to attend the book signing for Will Birch's new tome, Cruel to Be Kind: The Life and Music of Nick Lowe.

So, well, I went.

Yesterday, during the day, I called the Strand and found out that I could get a refund for my tickets. I was really close to cancelling my reservation and taking the refund, but something was holding me back. Yeah, I didn;t want to wait for hours to make sure I had a seat, and I didn't want to stand for the whole event. And I was feeling let down, having learned that I wouldn't be able to get a picture with Nick. But I still really wanted to go. Nick is a natural raconteur, and Will Birch has proven himself a really good storyteller. So when the events guy on the phone said he could reserve two seats for me (Ethan would be tagging along as my plus-one), well, that sealed the deal.

And I'm really glad I went.

I didn't know if this was to be a Q&A, or a simple reading, or what. In the end, it was kind of a conversation guided by Alison Stewart. Nick and Will both displayed the easy humor of longtime friends who are willing to share ideas and tease each other good-naturedly. My favorite moment was when Nick mentioned that he wasn't sure if something made it into the book, and Will asked in a faux-accusatory tone, "So you haven't read it?"

Nick talked about various aspects of his life and career, attributing a lot of his success to luck, or at least the ability to cling to that which would help elevate him.

In answer to an audience question, Nick said that he and Dave Edmunds aren't in touch. He noted that Edmunds is a bit of a recluse (something which has become quite obvious to observant fans). He also said that Edmunds seems displeased with him, but he doesn't know why. I'm not terribly surprised, but it does sadden me. That said, it doesn't sound like the kind of blood feud that some fan sites describe.

But perhaps the most interesting parts of the conversation were when they talked about the process of putting it together. It seems as though Nick might not have agreed to cooperate if he had known the project would make it to fruition. And yet he had enough honesty to allow himself to be portrayed warts and all.

After the conversation, Nick performed "Cruel to Be Kind" and "Love Starvation." That alone was worth the price of admission.
(video by Nancy Laub)

But the big surprise was that Nick came out to chat with the fans, sign whatever was thrust his way, and even pose for pictures. And that's another reason I'm really glad I went. If I had cancelled my plans, based in part on word that he would not be posing for pictures, I would have been really pissed off today when I saw the fan page on Facebook filled with pictures from the event. Also, while waiting to meet Nick, I happened to meet Dave Edmunds' ex-wife. For whatever that's worth.

After Ethan took a bunch of pictures of Nick and me, Nick did a pretty good job of sizing up the obvious dynamics. "Hey, Ethan," he said, "I'm really sorry you had to come to this."

Always too honest for his own good, Ethan replied, "It wasn't so bad."

Nick concluded by noting that his son, Roy, would have responded similarly.

My only regret is that, having found that one of the stars of the evening was willing to go beyond what was promised, I didn't have the presence of mind to see if I could get a picture with Will Birch. Between his books, the songs he's written, the records he's produced, and (of course) the music he made aa a member of the Kursaal Flyers and of The Records, it would have been great to have gotten a picture with him.

happy zmedsday!! (xlvi)

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

it's tunesday!

For today, I'm actually going with a top-40 hit: Nick Lowe's "Cruel to Be Kind," in honor of Will Birch's new book, Cruel to Be Kind: The Life and Music of Nick Lowe. The book was actually release late last month, but I don't have a copy yet. Will Birch and Nick Lowe are scheduled to do a book event at the Strand in downtown Manhattan this evening. Ethan and I have tickets -- I ordered two tickets that come with an autographed copy of the book -- for less money, tickets are available that don't come with a copy of the book. But we won't be there.

I was really looking forward to this, but then this past weekend I got an email from the Strand with the rules for the event.

Nick Lowe won't be signing the book (since he didn't write it). No pictures with Nick Lowe, or with Will Birch (though you can take candids of the latter while he talks. Will Birch will not sign anything except his book. Nick Lowe will not sign anything. Now, I actually get all of this. These guys are entertainers, but they don't owe us anything. If they go down the road of taking photos and signing anything, then they'll be there forever. Still and all, the curt email put a sour taste in my mouth.

But the big thing is the seating -- or, should I say lack of seating. The email noted that there will be limited seating, with most attendees standing. Had I known that, I wouldn't have bothered reserving a spot in the first place. If I am standing through the event, I will be uncomfortable and won't enjoy it. To avoid standing, I need to go early and have a good place in line. But I don't want to waste an hour or two waiting around. The email did include an email address for those who need a seat for medical reasons. But framing my discomfort with standing as a medical need? Maybe I'd be able to get away with it; I doubt they'd require certification. But I just can't do that in good conscience.

Anyway, I won't enjoy that.

Blair made a call for me, and learned that if I don;t show up I have a week to pick up the autographed book. If I don't, then they'll refund my money. So I ordered the book on Amazon, and in a week I'll get a refund from the Strand. Two lucky fans who cares more about autographs than I do will get to buy those autographed copies.

I'll admit that there's part of me that feels bad about this. Nick Lowe is one of my favorite musicians. I could go on and on about what I like about his (and Birch's) songwriting, production, and music. And I have one of Birch's previous books, No Sleep Till Canvey Island. He is a first rate raconteur, so I'll bet the talk will be interesting.

But the standing.

I've been to lots of book signings, readings, Q&A's, etc. In a lot of venues (though admittedly never at the Strand). I have never had to stand through any of them. I'm not interested in doing it now. And if that's what one is in for at the Strand, then I won't be making reservations at any of their events in the future.

Finally, just to be clear, this should not be read as a protest or a boycott. I still like Nick Lowe's music, and I fully expect to enjoy the book. If you're OK with standing, then by all means go to this event or events like it. But it's not for me.