A blog about movies and the Sturbridge area, including The Brookfields, Brimfield, Charlton, Holland, Wales, and Spencer as well as adjacent towns.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Playa del Carmen, RIP-Mexican dies in Sturbridge


Playa del Carmen, RIP

De gustibus non disputandum est is a Latin phrase that means there is no disputing taste. My alternative translation used when discussing what I disagree with is there is no accounting for taste.

I had heard that Playa del Carmen had closed and thought that they just couldn't make a go of it in the current business environment. After all, Romauldo's is gone and 420 Main as well. On Thinking out loud in Sturbridge, there is a post about the demise of Playa del Carmen. It appears there is a tenant-landlord disagreement. One hopes that it is a resolvable misunderstanding, but that usually is not the case in my experience.

I was there at the birth of PdC. Bob Datz arranged a press luncheon. The owners were hospitable. The food was good enough for the shakedown cruise. I did not find it exciting, but the staff was just getting going and one had no reason to quibble as they did more right than wrong.

So after some time, I went back with my family. It was a disappointment. Be assured, no one wants to see Mexican food succeed in our region more than moi. Unfortunately, the verdict of the fam was bland. Also, the service was poor that night. I can overlook that as not all systems run smoothly all the time. I just never went back because of the food.

After that, when the subject of PdC came up, the sentiment was near unanimous, bland. One person called it the Rom's of Mexican food. I liked Rom's, as did a lot of people. We were under no illusions that we were in La Toscania, but value for the money, it was okay. PdC was not going to get that pass. Everyone always expects more of the new guy in town. More so as everyone had been waiting so long for Mexican to arrive.

Now, I did hear from some locals who liked Playa, so it was not without its fans. Nevertheless, I just finished processing the habaneros I grew, so you know what I'm voting for.

Mexican food and I go back a long time. In the early 70s, enjoying an all expenses paid government vacation down south, I discovered the cuisine at the Cafe Puerto Rico. I know what you're thinking, but it served only Mexican food made by a Mexican American family. I never thought to ask about the origin of the name.

Upon separation from the service and returning to Nova Anglia, I sought out Mexican food in Massachusetts. Chain Mexican may be abundant in urban areas now, but there was almost nothing back then. There was a joint in the Brighton area of Boston. Actually, it was a kind of Tale of Two Joints. On one side was Concannon & Sennet's, a working class Irish bar. Not that it had a bad rep, but I'd heard that the bars on the windows were not to stop break-ins. Rather, they were to prevent patrons being thrown out the window due to the occasional altercation. El Phoenix Room, Boston’s only Mexican Restaurant at the time, occupied the other side.

The style of the food was probably not the Mexican you find south of the Rio Grande. It would be called Tex Mex. Still, it was pretty good. In the new millennium, Concannon & Sennet's and El Phoenix have given way to yuppification and the location is now Harry's Upscale Whatever.

Despite the drought of Mexican here, Southbridge had The Flatiron Cafe, located, oddly enough, in the Flatiron Building. It was a great place, a cut above my beloved Brighton dive. Alas, even in the relatively halcyon late 80s, early 90s, it could not make a go of it. The hinterlands were not ready.

The original Playa del Carmen is still open in Holden. With a successful operation up there, they had every right to think the formula would work here. Hey, Holden is a suburb. We here in the exurbs are a little more discerning than our more domesticated brethren.

It was with no little pleasure that I heard that Playa del Carmen would be taking up the space that was Rom's. True, in the end the fare did not excite me. That does not mean it gladdened my heart to see it close. I wish no one who will take a risk and open a restaurant to fail. I do want something with a bit more bite. So Carmen, if you resolve your landlord problemos and make it back, I have only one suggestion, turn up the heat.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Great Time at the Red Barn Market-Pictures and Video

So we had the market, thanks to Carol Joyce and Sarah Berquist for all your work. I know it's not Sturbridge and I wish something like it went on here, but until it does, I have to make do.














Thanks to Susan Guzik of Honey and Salt for providing high octane coffee.








Amongst the vendors was Roy Mansur, a man of beautiful pictures an portraits renowned in the Valley.
Portia is a regular at this market and has quite a following for her jewelry creations. Hasn't got me to wear any yet. Ah Cheshire Garden's mustards and preserves. Worth coming for by itself. Hope's brought her lovely wooden ware to the right. John Spineti's greenery is good to eat. It's good to grow. Heck, it's good to eat and grow. Jim Pitts has been around forever, but his farm has always been changing and growing in different directions, though his pesto has always been there. His pancakes kept people fed. Carol has herbs for every purpose. She has herbs you need even if you don't know you need 'em.

Video time. Carol talks about the herbs and John gives a recipe.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

If you're going to be in Amherst on Saturday, come to the Holiday Farmers' Market and Craft Fair


On Saturday, December 11th at Hampshire College's Red Barn there will be an array of farmers and crafters who will be there to make your Christmas or any other holiday you celebrate more festive. Heck, even if you don't celebrate, we've got useful stuff.

What's on tap?

~We will welcome back Roy Mansur, our fabulous photographer who creates glorious cards & matted photographs for sale.
~Also delighted to have Sangha Farm coming - they willl bring their creamy goat cheese and unusual, tasty goat cheese truffles (chocolate covered!)
~Don't forget to come by and stock up on potatoes, lettuce, & other veggies from John's Twin Oak Farm. He'll have his beautiful house plants and new this year: lettuce started in pots to grow (& clip for salad) in your kitchen!
~Richard will have his incredible beeswax hand cream that stops that winter dryness & honey from his hives.
~Hope (The Framstead) will have greenery to decorate your home & hand-crafted wooden items (like coasters & cutting boards) to grace your kitchen. She will have local Maple Syrup too!
~Keep an eye ut for Portia who will be hand-crafting her beautiful and affordable jewlery all day long.
~Cheshire Garden will have loads of salsa, jams and mustards...and don't forget her syrups, too! Yum!
~Jim of Delta organic Farm will be whipping up his hot whole grain pancakes for breakfast & selling slcies and whole pies.
~Don't forget that Susan wull have luscious sweets, cakes, organic coffee, and yummy goods at our Farmers' Cafe all day.
~Carl Family Farm will bring lots of crunchy apples for your holiday feast and his local honey.
~White Buffalo Herbs will have herbals, aromatherapy, and love potions! Also she has her annual gift of a FREE ceramic tea cup with every tea order, gift wrapped and ready to go.
So drop by and round out your holiday shopping. We can't wait to see you all!

For the facebook page, go here.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Sturbridge Times Magazine is out, Shameless self promotion-December edition



The Sturbridge Times Magazine is out, both print and online. This is the monthly notice wherein I, with no shame, tout my unworthy offerings.

George Diaz in one person combines history and artisanship. When I was talking with him at his shop in Southbridge I got a couple of clips of him at work. You can read about him on Page 10.


Below is George planning a chandelier.
Next is George working at the forge. In principle, not much different from the one at OSV. Of course no propane then.
On Page 7 is the story of some serious money made out of the financial debacle we've been going through.

My column on Page 22 is an attempt to be counterintuitive.

I am not the only one writing. There are many entertaining and useful articles that I had nothing to do with. You can read the magazine online by clicking here and downloading a pdf, or you can click on the graphic below to find out where to pick one up.

Enjoy!


Monday, November 29, 2010

Indiana James and the Debacle at Ruggles Mine


The feeling up at Ruggles Mine last Saturday was somewhat akin to the scene in Madagascar when the Penguins reach their goal and arrive in Antarctica. It's cold, windy and not what they expected. All of a sudden one says, "Well, this sucks." Yup, that was basically it.

There is a video in this post to document the day. An event filled with car accidents, near loss of all crew on the slippery mine parking lot. Fear that we would not make it home and reminders of the movie Alive in case we were to be stuck there forever.

There is also my feeble attempts to keep the language such that families other than the Mansons can watch.


Friday, November 26, 2010

Summer is really over-Amherst Farmers Market done-Red Barn Market coming.

Yeah, I knew summer was gone a while ago. Still, as long as the market is going, one can be delusional. Especially, as some of the last few markets saw the temps rise to the point that coats, and sweaters were shed. Last Saturday's market was saw a windy and chilly day, but with the sun out, it was wonderful. Sadly, it is all over.


But, wait, there is more. No, we can't stop winter from crashing into us. We can have fun, and we have been having it for 12 years. Below is Carol Joyce telling you about year 13.
So after the Red Barn Market, we can dream of next year's market. We spoke with Justamere Tree Farm, Marian Welch. She and J.P. have been at the market since forever and help make it the unique institution it is.
Sometimes, Sarah Berquist, our market manager, provides the music and sometimes it's ad hoc. At the last market, it was the latter. They were just a bunch of kids getting together for a few tunes, but they were fun.

We'll update about the Red Barn as we get closer to the date

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Calling all cinema tough guys. Show what kind of man you are as an Indy James extra.


Indiana James to shoot at Ruggles Mine way up in New Hampshire on Saturday


It's been a long road for Thomas Pimentel and his band of actors and crew. Finally, it's led to the shaft. This Saturday, November 27, the team will be filming at Ruggles Mine in Grafton, New Hampshire. But, why should Thomas, aka Indiana James and his team have all the fun. Why don't you come along and be part of the gang

Indiana James is looking for a few good men. On previous shoots, it's been a mixed group, but on Saturday, Indy needs guys, bad guys over 18 to be dressed up like police officers
called, the BIKIS, a rogue group of the Police Department. If you think you can be tough on screen, come and have fun.

A few caveats are in order. This is a long way from the Sturbridge area, so check the old mapquest for directions to 286 Ruggles Mine Rd, Grafton, NH 03240 for time and distance. Extras call is 10:00 a.m.
Changing areas will be provided. They do not have rest rooms on site and if you need
to go the bathroom you will have to get in your car and find a place to take care of
business.

WHAT TO WEAR
It will be cold so heavy coats, hats and gloves are advisable. You will be wearing shorts and polo shirts in
the scene. Any layers that you can hide under them are okay to wear. We will have wardrobe available for
actors. Please wear underwear

WHAT TO BRING FYI
Pack yourself a small cooler with drinks and snacks and power bars or whatever keeps you going. We
might not have time to stop and eat. Once we start we probably will not stop. Anyone who comes please
make sure that you have your own car. It will be difficult for you to have someone else pick you up that
late at night especially when we don't know when we will finish. We will take breaks if we can.

Bring cell phone chargers that plug into the wall or your car chargers. We don't want anyone out of
contact or stranded after the shoot.

Everyone has always had a good time at an Indiana James and the Raiders of the Lost Shaker of Salt shoot. For more information, go to the extras website. RSVP to Indiana James.

full disclosure, I have the defining role in the movie, er, I have a small part.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Meeting to Save the Casino


On the facebook page, Please restore the Casino Theater in Ware Massachusetts a post was left by the niece of the president of the Ware Historical Society.

There will be a meeting on Tuesday, 11/16 at 10 AM at the Wal*Mart in Ware in an attempt to save the Casino. Would it be possible for you to attend or send along your thoughts?

On November 8th Ware held a special town meeting.

ARTICLE 13proposed the irrevocalbe death of the old movie house. It read as follows, To see if the Town will vote to appropriate a sum of money for the demolition of the Casino Theater, located at 121 Main Street, Ware, Ma. and to determine the manner of

meeting said appropriation whether by taxation, transfer of available funds, borrowing or any other means or combination thereof or take any other action relative thereto.


As there is going to be a meeting, I assume the article passed.

Fred McLennan, who has purchased the Casino doubts they can do it as they don't own the building. Fred is trying to bring the theater back. the town moms and dads seem to have lost patience with him. At one meeting, I heard the call, "Show us the money." Fred has all my sympathies, and he has a daunting task. In truth, he has presented no credible plan.

If you are near Ware tomorrow and want to help save an historical gem of an old movie house, please stop by. Ware claims to be The Town That Can't Be Licked The motto adorns signs on roads entering Ware. Don't let the slogan become, The Town That Licked Itself.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Historic Preservation and Local TV Pilot-The Blackington


The OurFilmSpace crew has been working on getting new tv going in the Sturbridge, Massachusetts area for a long while now. One of the latest projects is Antique Warriors. Though not limited to the Sturbridge Area, the town is a natural for such an endeavor. Home to Old Sturbridge Village and next to Brimfield of the famed summer antique shows, the location is perfect. Lot of old stuff in the region.

Work on the Antique Warriors series has been going on for some time and there are teaser trailers at the facebook page. On a recent Saturday, the Boston film Industry Examiner followed the AW team at the Blackington Building in Sturbridge.

The Blackington Building is one of those old derelicts that break your heart. It is a gothic structure from 1880 with steep roof tower and dormers. Everyone from the area has driven by it as have the multidudes who exit the pike for Brimfield. It stands out as an aristocrat, but that will not be enough to save it.

Doug and Melinda Kirkpatrick, impressarios of OurFilmSpace assembled a crew to work on savioring the Blackington. They enlisted the camera skills of John Hartman, maker of Bridge Crusader and other movies. Talented as john is, he paled in comparison to the beautiful trio presenting the edifice to the public.

Many people in Sturbridge already know Lindsay Monroe for more than her extraordinary photography. Alicia Zitka was crowned Miss Massachusetts and when you see her as an Antique Warrior, you’ll not wonder why. Tee Whitlow is known as the Woman About Town and she does not suffer from a personality defiency.

Short plot synopsis, Lindsay is showing the Blackington to entrepreneurs , Tee and Akicia. Will they take the challenge?

Below are the behind the scenes videos. Part I introduces Tee and Alicia and we see Lindsay show the building. To see Part II starts with "boots on the ground," well, the floor anyway. Then we interview Tee. Doug comments and John admits to his undying devotion to the Boston Film Industry Examiner.

John, in the words of Phil Connors in Groundhog Day, I may be “a god, not the God.”


Sunday, November 7, 2010

Save the Market!


Okay, Hollywood in Sturbridge is about the Sturbridge and surrounding towns and movies. Still, sometimes your humble impresario branches out to other areas that are of interest to himself.


I have supported farmers' markets in our area both in print and online. However, long before the movement to bring farmers' markets to this region, I have been selling honey and beeswax hand cream at the Amherst Farmers' Market. Certainly, I would be better served now by going to a nearer market, but everyone associated with AFM, customers and vendors, are too wonderful to abandon. A Saturday morning in Amherst during the market season is a pleasure.


Life is good, what is there worry about? Plenty. a construction program is proposed that will lead to moving the market away from the common for 2011 and leave it with constricted space in the future.


Market Pres. John Spineti sent out an email outlining the problem:


SAVE THE AMHERST FARMERS' MARKET


SAVE THE SPRING STREET PARKING LOT


Construction proposed for 2011 to widen the Spring Street parking lot

sidewalks to 14 feet from their current width of five feet will result

in an 18 foot narrowing of the parking lot.


For this construction to take place, the Farmers' market, a 40 year

institution to the life of downtown Amherst as well as Valley residents,

has been asked to VACATE the lot for the entire 2011 market season.


Further, there will be a loss of four parking spots in this redesign of

the lot. The elimination of the four parking spots will result in four

farmers (vendors) losing their spaces. It does not seem reasonable.


Additionally, putting cars nine feet closer to traffic moving through

the lot obviously makes it more difficult for motorists to exit parking

spaces. Finally, to lose parking space and revenue when the cost of

creating parking space is so high and when recent news has focussed on a

scarcity of downtown parking is counterintuitive.


I am asking for public support to oppose this construction project.

Please contact the Select Board members and show your support for the

Amherst Farmers' Market.


John Spineti

President

Amherst Farmers' Market


I caught John and market manager Sarah Berquist on video explaining what's at stake and what can be done. Also, on the vid is a sample of the music on tap at last Saturday's market and one of the vendors is moved to dance.



So write a note to the select board letting them know that you support what is a valuable asset to the town and region at:


Amherst Select Board transparent.png

4 Boltwood Avenue

Amherst, MA 01002-2301


suggested letter:


SAVE THE FARMER'S MARKET
SAVE THE SPRING STREET PARKING LOT

I oppose the construction of the 14' wide sidewalks along the Spring
Street Parking Lot. The dislocation and disruption of the market during
the 2011 market season and the loss of four parking spaces will hurt the
market.

____________(print name)

____________(signature)

____________(address)


The link to the farmers' market website is here. The facebook link is here. More info should be coming.


Friday, November 5, 2010

Sturbridge Times Magazine is out, Shameless self promotion-November edition,



The Sturbridge Times Magazine is out, both print and online. This is the monthly notice wherein I, with no shame, tout my unworthy offerings.

We may have lost Peter Morin, but the Rimscha Concert Series still lives in Sturbridge, and on Page 18.

On Page 16, Normand Gibeault may or may not be shy, but he certainly is not retiring.

Read about educational sticker shock in my column on Page 26.

I am not the only one writing. There are many entertaining and useful articles that I had nothing to do with. You can read the magazine online by clicking here and downloading a pdf, or you can click on the graphic below to find out where to pick one up.

Enjoy!



Thursday, November 4, 2010

OSV announces More Beautiful Than Any Other: Quilts from the Old Sturbridge Village Collection (SturbNew Old Sturbridge Village Antique Quilt Exhibit

Passing on an OSV press release FYI for all you quilt lovers out there. You know who you are!


More Beautiful Than Any Other: Quilts from the Old Sturbridge Village Collection

(Sturbridge, Mass.) Nov. 2, 2010: For the first time in more than 10 years, antique quilts from the Old Sturbridge Village collection are out of storage and on display to the public in a newly opened exhibit, More Beautiful Than Any Other: Quilts from the Old Sturbridge Village Collection. Rare quilts from all over New England are featured, along with a variety of period quilted garments, including petticoats, hoods, coats, and period sewing tools and accessories.

The exhibit title refers to a silver medal-winning quilt made by a “Mrs. D. Baker” judged to be “more beautiful than any other” at an exhibition held at Faneuil Hall in Boston on September 20, 1841. Both the award-winning quilt and Mrs. Baker’s silver medal are part of the Old Sturbridge Village exhibit. The oldest quilt on view dates to 1793. The exhibit is free with museum admission, and will be open through June, 2011. However, since the fragile quilts can be displayed only for a limited time, a new group of the museum’s antique quilts will replace those currently on exhibit in February, 2011. For details: 800-733-1830;www.osv.org.

Exuberant colors

Quilting, the art of stitching together layers of fabric and batting to create a warm bed covering or garment, has a long history in New England. Not only was it a quilting practical way for New Englanders to keep warm and comfortable during the long, cold winters, it was also an expression of style. “Early New England quilts often featured exuberant colors and bold patterns,” says Rebecca Beall, collections manager at Old Sturbridge Village. “People today who are used to seeing old, faded quilts are often astonished at just how bright the original fabric colors were.”

Part of the OSV exhibit is an 1823 fabric swatch book that shows the true depth and tone of the period fabric colors. “Because the swatch book was kept closed for nearly 200 years, the rich hues and bright patterns of the fabrics inside have survived in nearly original condition,” Beall notes. Another good example in the exhibit of the bold, bright patterns popular at the time is an 1835 quilt from the Capen family in Stoughton, Mass.

Artistic skill and embellishments

In addition to elaborate patterns and intricate stitches, some quilters incorporated other artistic embellishments in their designs, such as theorem painting, or stenciling, which was popular in early New England. An example of this is a stunning eight-pointed star quilt stitched in 1837 quilt by Clarissa Moore of Eastfield, Conn., who stenciled her name, date and other decorations on the quilt.

Distinctly New England

New England women began to depart from English quilting traditions, adopting different piecing and stitching techniques. “One practical and distinctly New England innovation was the T-shaped quilt, which had cut-outs at the bottom to better fit around the bedposts,” notes Jean Contino, coordinator of households, horticulture and women’s crafts at Old Sturbridge Village. Some survive with the original ties in place, such as a pieced star quilt from the OSV collection made in 1849 by Betsy Lyford of Brookfield New Hampshire.

Early piecing

Period pieced quilts sometimes included dozens of different printed fabrics, including new fabrics, scraps, and fabrics re-used from old gowns or bed hangings. When the American textile industry boomed, the price of printed cotton cloth plummeted, and by the 1830s, women could buy American-made cottons for as little as four or five cents per yard, so they often purchased fabrics specifically for a quilt. Two good examples of early pieced quilts in the Old Sturbridge Village exhibit are an 1835 quilt from the Wilbur family of Swansea, Massachusetts, and an 1808 hexagonal patterned quilt made by Phebe Winsor of Johnston, R.I. Today, the hexagon pattern is often called “Grandmother’s Flower Garden,” and early names for the pattern were “Mosaic,” and “Honeycomb.”

Sentimental inspiration

Sometimes quilters used scraps from other garments not for frugality, but for sentimental reasons. Many early quilts contain fabrics that had significance to the makers and were remembrances of family and friends. An unusual example of this is a quilt on display made by Nancy Newton of Marlborough, N.H. sometime between 1825 and1850. The centerpiece of the quilt is a silk-embroidered linen “pocket” made in the 1700s that perhaps was a cherished heirloom handed down from the quilter’s mother or grandmother. (Pockets were worn by ladies around their waists under their gowns). The rest of the quilt’s design uses motifs from the centerpiece pocket.

Conspicuous consumption

The oldest quilt on display in the Old Sturbridge Village exhibit is a 1793 wholecloth wool quilt from the family of Elizabeth Mather of Sandisfield, Mass. At the time this quilt was made, the practice of displaying beautiful, high quality quilts demonstrated the owner’s wealth and taste. Quilts adorned beds in the best room of the house -- a room that was used for dining and entertaining as well as for sleeping.

Affordable affluence

Later, as British and American textile mills produced an increasing variety of printed cloth, wholecloth cotton quilts became a fashionable and affordable way to dress a bed, and the printed fabric, not the quilting stitches, became the focal point of the quilt. An example of this “affordable affluence” is a reversible quilt from Springfield, Mass. made between 1820-25 featuring a fabric patterned with tree branches and exotic birds.

Cradle comforts

A number of the quilts on exhibit at Old Sturbridge Village are cradle quilts, which show the same techniques and styles as their full-sized counterparts. “Cradle quilts were sometimes made by an older sister practicing her sewing skills before undertaking a larger quilt,” notes OSV’s Contino. “And unlike the pink and blue colors traditionally used for babies today, there was little distinction between color palettes for boys and girls in early New England.”

More Beautiful Than Any Other: Quilts from the Old Sturbridge Village Collection will be on exhibit through June 30, 2011. Old Sturbridge Village has one of the largest textile collections in the northeast, with more than 6,000 pieces, including 250 quilts of all sizes, dozens of quilted garments, and hundreds of other bed coverings, such as blankets, sheets, woven coverlets and counterpanes (summer bed coverings).

The overall Old Sturbridge Villager artifact collection of more than 60,000 artifacts. The museum celebrates New England life from 1790 – 1840, and is one of the oldest and largest living history museums in the country, with 59 antiques buildings, three water-powered mills and a working farm. The museum is open year round, but hours change seasonally. For details: www.osv.org; 1-800-733-1830.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tomorrow is the last day of the West Brookfield Farmers Market



Tomorrow is the last day of the West Brookfield Farmers Market. It has been a great first season, but this can't go on forever.

Wednesday will be warm, but we risk a shower, but you won't melt. Come to the market and show what your made of.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Shameless self promotion-October edition, Also debut of mon fils as author!


The Sturbridge Times Magazine is out, both print and online. This is the monthly notice wherein I, with no shame, tout my unworthy offerings. There is at least one article that I can tout with a bit of pride.

My Son, CiarĂ¡n, spent the summer in China on a project as part of his studies at WPI. He was working with Caterpillar, but he also learned a lot about the Chinese nation and people. His article is on Page 9.

On Page 14, I am not trying to scare anybody, but at the end of October, things will go bump in the night and you should be prepared.

Do you think that Roger Clemens injecting some stuff to whiff a few extra batters is a crisis of the Republic. Well, maybe you don't want to read my column on Page 22.

What's hot and what's not in Sturbridge Country? See the Best of Greater Sturbridge Awards. The readers have spoken. Go to Page 14.

I am not the only one writing. There are many entertaining and useful articles that I had nothing to do with. You can read the magazine online by clicking here and downloading a pdf, or you can click on the graphic below to find out where to pick one up.

Enjoy!



Thursday, September 30, 2010

Antigonish, the movie to be made in North Adams


I love the poster for the upcoming movie, Antigonish. I can't tell if it's the Swallows returning to Capistrano or the Seagulls returning to Antigonish. Not that it matters, as it evokes the dark aura I believe the filmmakers are aiming at.



Antigonish

Yesterday, upon the stair,
I met a man who wasn’t there
He wasn’t there again today
I wish, I wish he’d go away...

When I came home last night at three
The man was waiting there for me
But when I looked around the hall
I couldn’t see him there at all!
Go away, go away, don’t you come back any more!
Go away, go away, and please don’t slam the door... (slam!)

Last night I saw upon the stair
A little man who wasn’t there
He wasn’t there again today
Oh, how I wish he’d go away

What was Hughes Mearns getting at when he wrote that poem? It was inspired by a ghost haunting a house in the town of Antigonish up in Nova Scotia. Originally part of a play Mearns had written for an English class at Harvard, it is often called The Little Man Who Wasn’t There. Hardly surprising that.

The poem has had an influence in popular culture. The movie starring Billy Bob Thornton took its title from the poem. It was made into song, listen to a Glenn Miller version here.

The words of Antigonish present a conundrum. How can someone be there and not there at the same time. Ah, but such a problem spells opportunity for the artist. The possibilities are endless.

Just where would someone go who could go just about anywhere with the plot? This is the question facing the team of Alexis Rosasco (IMDB) and Christopher Grace (IMDB) who are making the movie, Antigonish. Alexis, a Williamstown native and graduate of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts has written the script. Christopher, director of Boston Film Festival entry, Third Shift: Michael’s Lament, will be at the helm when cameras roll.

Alexis, recently in Kevin McDonald’s Witching Hour, will also play Rachel Ames. Rachel is an eccentric young artist with a bored and disgruntled husband, Gerry. The not so happy couple is having some problems. Gerry has resorted to adultery. Always a sure method to simplify ones life.

Rachel is getting some guidance from James who is described as “a sweet art student and temporary library clerk.” That with the addition of an “intimate working relationship with jock-turned-art model Kyle” should provide some twists and turns that can only become complicated. With this setup, the therapy provided by stern marriage counselor can’t be that exciting.

Can Rachel and Gerry come to terms? Will Rachel find peace from the roaming hubby? Or is the source of her problems deep inside her? Calling Doctor Hitchcock.

Antigonish will not be filmed in the town the poem is named for. Rather, the venue will be the beautiful Berkshires of Western Massachusetts. This is a dark movie, so despite all the lovely locales, the work will be done in the old mill town of North Adams starting in 2011. As a small city, it might bear some resemblance to the Canadian town.

Other cast members include, Kyle Wilker as James, Ellen Soderberg as Sarah, Gina Gesamondo asAndrea, Rich Manley as Kyle.

Academy award winner Loren Miller will direct the editing with Nick Beaubien assisting.

David Palmacci is art director, and William Koroskenyi is in charge of music.

The Antigonish website is here. We’ll be keeping track at the Boston Film Industry Examiner so check back

Again, I must lament not that movies are being made elsewhere, but that they are not being made in Sturbridge Country.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Thursday, September 23, 2010

3rd Shift: Michael's Lament premiere at the Boston Film festival was the highlight of the season


And the post screening social at W Lounge was a hit too. Okay, this is a bit of shameless self promotion. I had a small part in this movie. Congratulations to the people who made it. We should be making movies in this area. But it is not happening. Oh Well.


Last Monday, September 20th was a sunny, windy day for a movie made entirely at night to premiere. No matter, it was a pleasant contrast for everyone in the audience at the 26th Annual Boston Film Festival. It was even more so for the cast and crew in attendance at the Stuart Street Playhouse in Boston. When the last of the credits had rolled by, they had every right to feel good about 3rd Shift: Michael's Lament.

Christopher Grace, the director, described 3rd Shift as Neo Noir, or for the non francophone, New Dark. Dark it is. Mark Vos' Michael has much to lament of his life. He has a secret that not even the people closest to him know Then again in Michael's case, closest does not mean close.

The secret is horrible. Michael is a walking disaster area. He knows it and would end it if only. If only. We're he caught, no jury, or god would spare him the maximum torment. Yet for all that, our Michael is a sympathetic character. When you see the movie, you will want him to be able to find some resolution, even though one can see what he is a mile away.

Ally Tully plays Clara with heart. She loves Michael, and he is not without feeling for her, but that will not bode well for her destiny. Franz Strassmann is Frank, Michael's boss at a movie theater. We meet him with his paramour, Marie, a high class call girl played by Liz Eng. Frank seems to be in control, but events will eventually unnerve him. Gianna Simone is intense as Patty, a street walker oppressed by Zito, a bad actor played by good actor, Eric Eastman. Gianna and Michael go back a long way and her tragedy will be his tragedy. As if he needed more.

Shelly Whittle, Marv, the diner cook is likeable even as he doles out the near edible "slop." Michael Reed and Nicole Trychon are effective as an obnoxious couple. Kachina Dechert as Silver, does not have the proverbial heart of gold as Patty's replacement. Anny Rosario as Lucy makes the bad choice to put the moves on Michael.

Everyone else in the cast and crew deserves recognition. Instead, click here to go over to imdb where almost all of the cast is listed.

Enjoy the video. It consists of Christopher Grace telling how he gets work out of actors. Marc Vos plays Christopher as a dramatic role. Gianna Simone talks about life, movies and being an adult in film. Eric and Emily Eastman as well as Leo Kei Angelos speak. Also, who is more glamorous, Emily or Eric?


Friday, September 3, 2010

Shameless self promotion-September edition


The Sturbridge Times Magazine is out, both print and online. This is the monthly notice wherein I, with no shame, tout my unworthy offerings.

On Page 12 is the story of Wally and Michelle Connors and Socks for Siberia. Talk about people with big hearts.

Ridge Shinn is passionate in a measured way about what he believes in. Read about him on Page 16.

Think our regional salvation will come with building a casino? Think again. Others have thought it was a sure fire plan. How'd that work out? Read the Review of Havana Nocturne on Page 19.

Got a buck? Maybe you too can overpay for a national news magazine. Read about it in my column, Musings From Long Hill Road on Page 26.

Enjoy.

I am not the only one writing. There are many entertaining and useful articles that I had nothing to do with. You can read the magazine online by clicking here and downloading a pdf, or you can click on the graphic below to find out where to pick one up.