Category Archives: new jersey
A Christmas Story 2 ~ This review should have been timely to the season, but Netflix never delivered the disc until we reported it undelivered. Not their fault, and I’m really not complaining. They’ve given our household superior service for at least a decade. One would just think with their delivery technique becoming obsolete, their technology outdated, and their selection diminished – they might just try a but harder is all.
On to the movie, and the review. I was very wary of this flick when I first heard about it. I am a huge fan of Jean Shepherd, both his numerous TV series and movies, and his books and stories. The original A Christmas Story was brilliant, as was its underrated and largely forgotten first sequel My Summer Story, also known as It Runs in the Family. From all indications, only the characters are the same in A Christmas Story 2, and it does not include any of Shepherd’s work, or charm.
From the opening of the film, I was ill. The narration, the voice of the adult Ralphie, formerly that of the late Jean Shepherd, was now taken by screenwriter Nat Mauldin, doing a shamefully bad and consistently out of breath Shepherd imitation. So bad is this almost never-ending narration that it completely distracts from, rather than holding together the film. I found myself wanting to tell him to take a break, catch his breath, we would wait. Yeah, it’s that bad. And the narration sets the tone, as everyone is doing a cheap imitation of the original movie.
The story is set six years after the first A Christmas Story, and has much the same plot. Ralphie wants a car instead of a BB gun. The catch is he wrecks the car and has to pay for it before his old man finds out about it. The acting is painful, and the actors should be ashamed for raping the corpse of Jean Shepherd. On the good side, the film does present a reasonably good facsimile of 1940s middle America. I guess that’s where the money went.
Steer as far from this shameful rip-off as possible. You will get a million times more enjoyment watching the original for the hundredth time than you will trying to watch this crap just once. Seek out the real Jean Shepherd in print, audio, and video – and forget this garbage.
“Don’t Say No to Me” by Lulu Temple
We’ve talked about Quincy before, and how I discovered college radio, it’s all here. One of the most important things in college radio is support. Now I was involved with my college radio station, and it needed a lot of support.
I didn’t go to the University of Pennsylvania with WXPN, Drexel with WKDU, Trenton State College with WTSR, or Princeton with WPRB. I went to Camden County College, yeah, thirteenth grade, and their radio station, FM mono WDBK, was, if anything, a weak second cousin to those big four of area college radio.
We needed a lot of support. So we featured a lot of local artists, among them, the former Quincy, who had formed very locally at Haddon Heights High School. Quincy had to change their name to Lulu Temple because of pressure from Quincy Jones, so their second release, Don’t Say No, came out under that name. The album had a difference in sound as well with added horns. I dug the title song a lot and gave it much airplay.
Actor, director and teacher Robert Hegyes passed away this morning in Metuchen New Jersey from a heart attack. He was 60 years old.
He was perhaps best known as Juan Epstein, one of the Sweathogs on “Welcome Back, Kotter,” one of the superstar sitcoms of the 1970s. He was the tough guy, the Puerto Rican Jew, the guy who always had a note from his mother. Later he was a regular on “Cagney and Lacey,” and appeared in a myriad of television and film projects in the time since.
A graduate of Glassboro College here in South Jersey, now called Rowan, he became an artist-in-residence. He also frequented the stage, at one point to much acclaim as Chico Marx in “An Evening with Groucho.” His directing career began when he was 25 on the set of “Welcome Back, Kotter.” Also of note for the Jersey born performer was his family, Jon Bon Jovi was his cousin. He will be missed.
“Dear Mr. Kotter,
Please excuse little Juan from class today. He’s dead.
Signed, Epstein’s Mother”
A recent trip to the Berlin Farmers Market (that’s the Berlin Auction for all of us who actually grew up in the area) brought on a scary flashback for me. I saw a kiddie ride there, a battered, dusty, broken down kiddie ride still bearing a 25¢ per ride sign. It was the Batmobile. It was the Batmobile from the old 1966 “Batman” TV series, albeit in a scrunched up miniature form, and built for little kids to get inside and ride for a couple minutes on a quarter.
This particular ride may not have been the very one that sat just inside the old Acme Market on the White Horse Pike in Berlin back in the late 1960s, but it might have been. I remember that ride very well even though I never got the chance to actually ride it. I know I begged to ride it, I know I cried to ride it, I’m pretty I misbehaved my butt off to ride it. I wanted to ride the Batmobile sooo bad. And quite frankly, I still do to some extent.
This mania to ride the Batmobile was brought on by the TV series, which during its time was the biggest thing going on in pop culture of the day – and for a generation of young folks, it was everything. It was for me. The “Batman” TV series starring Adam West and Burt Ward certainly was everything for me, and it ignited this obsession I still have for comic books.
Batman and Bat-paraphernalia was everywhere, especially in my house. I had a picture of Batman, Batman slippers, and of course dozens of comics. Every Matchbox and Hot Wheels car I had was imagined to be the Batmobile at one time or another, I would use baggie ties to put little capes on army men, and who didn’t tie a towel around their neck and pretend to actually be Batman?
As I stood and looked at this ancient relic of a bygone age, this Batmobile ride, I thought of all these things and smiled. I knew it didn’t work any more, but I did wish for a quarter, and I did wish I could ride in the Batmobile. I never did, on this model, but I think we all know, the Batmobiles of our imaginations and memories are much much cooler.