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Arise, Pumpkins, Arise!: Rise of the Jack-o-Lanterns 2014

19 Oct

October 19, 2014

For the third year in a row, I went to the dark and spooky Old Westbury Gardens for the annual Rise of the Jack-o-Lanterns! This is where you walk through a dark country park with spooky music playing, all the while gawking at amazing pumpkins. It is always a lot of fun and this year, they made sure that the carvings were all new. In fact, all three years I’ve been there, they’ve changed it up every year. You can see pics from previous years here (Jack-o-Lantern Avengers) and here (Big Bang Theory pumpkins). Be on the lookout for some Modern Family pumpkins in this assortment.

Click on the thumbnails for larger images.

Thanks to Allan Keyes for allowing me to use some of his pictures.

 

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I Predicted This: How Hollywood Russell Predated The New Stonehenge Discovery

29 Sep

September 29, 2014

Did you see this headline last week? This story made news around the world.

henge

Turns out the Stonehenge is really huge, much bigger than we thought. Basically, researchers had been walking around, over, on top of, all kinds of crazy structures and objects, and not all of them were buried. A lot of the hills and mounds turned out to be hiding structures right in plain sight. Scientists were basically having picnics on top of those pretty hills and never realized what was going on right below.

This is why I should have been a Stonehenge researcher, because I would have discovered those mounds and buried objects ages ago. You see, I already had that theory 30 years back.

It was the late 80’s/early 90’s, somewhere in that area, and my friend and I were hanging out at Kings Plaza, Brooklyn’s version of a shopping center, working on various ideas for stories that we’d never write. Both of us were interested in Old Time Radio and most of our ideas tended to fit in the horror or detective genre. Sometimes both.

We had an idea for a show called The Corpse. It would be about a crime-solving corpse. (We put the emphasis on solving to differentiate it from all the other crime-committing corpses.) Basically, a bunch of Scooby Gang types would ride around with a dead man in the back of their car and they’d communicate with it by Ouija board.

JOE: Quick corpse, tell me, who’s behind the big bank robbery?
PETE: I’m getting something now. “B-I-G-B-R-U-C-E-F-R-E-E-D-K-I-N.” It’s Big Bruce Freedkin!
JOE: There’s something else coming through!
PETE: “D-U-C-K.” Duck? What’s that mean?
(SOUND OF A SHOTGUN BLAST)
JOE: They’re shooting at us! That’s what it means! Duck!

We also had an idea for a show called The Adventures of Seamus O’Reilly. Seamus was a sheep and his owner, Mother O’Reilly, was knitting him a sweater because he looked cold. She was knitting him a sweater out of his own wool. See why it never got made?

There was also someone called Stoop Nagle, but for the life of me I can’t remember if he did anything more than sit on a stoop.

All this brings me back to Stonehenge and the unlikely first adventure of Hollywood Russell.

In Hollywood’s first adventure, the plan was that he’d been tracking either smugglers or Nazi spies (or both) who were using a small plane to fly in and out of Coney Island unseen. Eventually the bad guys, fearing that Hollywood was getting too close, buried the plane under the Coney Island beach sand. From ground level you couldn’t see anything but some large dunes. Families would climb on them, kids would play on them, and no one could tell there was a plane below. Only when Hollywood went to the top of the parachute jump and got an aerial view could he see the outline of the plane buried below, kind of like the famous Nazca lines down in South America.

For some reason we found that idea farfetched (wonder what those Stonehenge guys would think?) and changed the story so that the plane was buried under the parachute jump during its construction. But that was even more ridiculous, especially considering that the boardwalk was between the beach and the attraction. Then things got worse from there.

And there you have seven degrees separation between Stonehenge and Hollywood Russell.

 

 

 

A New York Minute (18) September 2014- Al Pacino!

17 Sep

September 17, 2014

Hello, and welcome to your New York Minute. This week’s episode is brought to you by Pharell’s big hat.

Al Pacino was born in Manhattan, but it took some Brooklyn law breaking for him to become one of Hollywood’s biggest stars.

I live in South Brooklyn, and in more than one New York Minute I talked about organized crime and the movies. There was Kid Twist and Coney Island, the Bowery Boys, even the mob shaking down the crew filming Saturday Night Fever. Al Pacino starred in some of the greatest organized crime films ever made, The Godfather and The Godfather Part Two. Many years later, he also starred in a Godfather parody called The Godfather Part Three.

Pretty much for as long as I can recall, I had been told that one of the houses in The Godfather was actually located right around here, so the other day, just for you, I set out to find “the Godfather house” and sure enough, it was right in my backyard.

As seen in the movie

As seen in the movie

Turns out it was the house that Clemenza lived in, and although I already had the address, I found out that the neighbors are pretty good about people, like me, who still come around looking for the house and taking pictures. I’d ask if you go, please be nice and respectful, as it is a quiet residential neighborhood. It’s a narrow street, so don’t try to double park, and also, please don’t knock on the door and ask if Martin Scorsese ever drops by from some capicola. Um, not that I did that.

The house today. I took the shot on the right.

The house today. I took the shot on the right.

The most interesting thing about the house isn’t the building itself, which is pretty nice, it’s the neighborhood. It is located just a few minutes away from the inspiration for another famous Al Pacino film. Just the next year, Al, (we’re on a first name basis, we’re good like that), was back in Brooklyn filming Dog Day Afternoon, and unlike The Godfather, this was based on an infamous bank robbery that happened wayback when I was a kid. And it turns out that I pass the robbery location almost every single day.

The scene of the crime: then and now

The scene of the crime: then and now

I’m not talking about where the film was shot, this is the actual robbery scene. Back in the 70’s this was a Chase bank, but today it is vacant. Want to rent it? The way this area is going, it’ll be sure to be a hipster juice pub thing any day now. Anyway, the building has gone through a few owners, it still has the cut corner that was a trademark of Chase banks of the era.

The movie was filmed in Windsor Terrace, still in Brooklyn but with Prospect Park as a backdrop. In a nutshell, the bank robbery went bad, hostages were taken, and it turned into a police standoff with the hundreds of onlookers rooting for the crooks. In the end, the cops seem to give in to their demands but Pacino’s character gets 20 years in prison. Spoiler warning! That was a spoiler.

dogdaymovie

Interestingly, both films also starred the amazing yet odd John Cazale, and if he were born in Brooklyn this would have been a neat and tidy way of wrapping things up but he had to spoil it be by being born in Massachusetts. No foresight there, thanks a lot.

Although I was too young to see any of the filming of these movies, in 1991 I did get to see the filming of Steven Segal’s Out for Justice, and believe me, that’s not a feather in anybody’s cap.

This has been your movie star, and Steven Segal, -filled New York Minute, and like Pacino said in The Godfather III- “just when I think I’m out, they pull me back in!”

What, you were expecting Scent of a Woman? “HOOOOOO-AH!” There you go.

An audio version of this story recently appeared in the amazing FlashPulp website. Check them out for awesomeness and goodies!

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