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Archive for July, 2022

by Sam Juliano

The 2022 summer school program ends on Friday of this week, leaving Lucille and I the month of August to unwind and relax.  However, Yours Truly can do neither (Ha!), as my focus must continue to be on completing Irish Jesus in Fairview, which as of this morning is at 95,000 words.  I am speculating this “sequel” will need to reach 120,000 words for all the narrative gaps and strands to be properly negotiated.  But to accomplish this it will not take me much longer, as I know exactly to fill it all out.  The 120,000 word length is barely longer than Book #1 as a result of the lengthy appendix, which will not carry over to the sequel.  I have decided to copy two of the book’s earliest paragraphs from Chapter 1, to give potential readers a clue as to how the narrative will progress, but I won’t be adding more.  I thought this one time would whet potential readers’ appetites:

The downside to Adam’s seeming full recovery from the neurological trauma he sustained after he was thrown from the Wild Mouse at Palisades Amusement Park during a weekend visit in September of 1971, was that he had developed a serious stutter.  Prolongations and repetitions maligned virtually every phrase or sentence he launched.  Whenever he became nervous, or suffered from anxiety, it surfaced in full bloom.  A brain specialist was a bit surprised it took as long as it did to affect the boy, but he added that it was hardly unprecedented.  

Attributing it to the fall, the professional defined it as a neurogenic stutter and concluded the boy would likely have the condition for the rest of his life.  He recommended keeping stress at bay whenever possible.  He explained that with some accident victims the stutter kicks in immediately, but with others a trigger could initiate it.   In the meantime, Sarah, armed with Joseph Furano’s full insurance coverage for his son, made an appointment for Adam to begin speech therapy, hoping the stutter could be controlled or at least arrested from worsening.

The “Rest of Europe” polling has so far attracted over 20 ballots, but I have every reason to believe when all is said and done will will have reached 30.  Thanks to all who have participated.  The poll runs through August 5th, so we still have eleven days left to cast ballots.

I liked the new release Nope, by Jordan Peale a bit more after I left the theater than I do now.  Some dazzling set pieces were undermined by the oft-cryptic and convoluted narrative, but I  do plan to watch it again at some point.

Nope           *** 1/2 (Friday)          Ridgefield Park multiplex. (more…)

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by Sam Juliano

The Rest of Europe poll is attracting excellent support on the corresponding FB post, but with a few weeks still left to go, I’m sure the response will be even more impressive.  I think it is great that a number of people have been revisiting or introducing themselves to relevant films.  To those who have cast ballots or are planning to I want to express our enormous appreciation.

This past week essay writer extraordinaire Jim Clark published a fabulous piece on inde darling Jim Jarmusch’s late-career The Dead Don’t Die.  The comprehensive review includes wonderful capsules on other Jarmusch films, so fans of the director are in for a treat.

As of Sunday afternoon, July 17th, I have surpassed a whopping 92,000 words on my second novel, Irish Jesus in Fairview.  The first book only went to 96,000 (plus the appendix, which for the sequel I have decided to dispense with).  Nonetheless, though I have surprised myself with the unexpected major progress over the past three weeks, I do feel that to give this narrative what it needs I must continue to write.  It is not entirely unreasonable to speculate that 110,000 words will be the final figure.  My great second stage editor Bill Kamberger keeps telling me NOT to rush this book out, as he feels several months with the editing process should be employed.  He feels the soonest I should publish this book is March, 2022.  While I am considering all his suggestions, right now (for me) that date seems too long down the road for whatever intricacies the editing process portends.  Bill is a great guy and a great editor, but he did NOT tell me what I wanted to hear.  I do not see the actual writing of the book to go longer than three or four weeks at the very most.

I did not think very much of the poorly-reviewed Where the Crawdads Sing, which I attended as a favor to a few of my kids, two of whom read the novel.  Rating:  1.5 of 5.0 (more…)

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by James Clark 2022

Filmmaker, Jim Jarmusch, has, in a long career, reveled in disclosing what most folks ignore. Whereas the world seems, to most, about science and/or religion, Jarmusch’s muse is the arts. Arts in spades.
Arts in spades, could also be called philosophy. Jarmusch never uses the term, but he practices that skill, deeply. In all of the works, it was philosophical daring that made the difference. Daring to maintain that nearly all who have ever been alive have been seriously, horrifically blind. Moreover, his artistry could open a door of charm, wit, in the midst of trouble. Such sophistication would be hanging from a gossamer thread. One could say that the term, “indie,” –small revenue–had come to a crisis. In fact, our film today, would be his last feature, a film unlike any other of his endeavors. Film practice at this point has become a strictly quantitative business, with no serious focus upon matters that have to be managed. If not with that slush, or slack of looking for happily involved, one must invent another orientation.
For now, we have Jarmusch having turned his wit to extreme deadliness. Our film, The Dead Don’t Die, presents a cannon over everyone’s bow. Make no mistake, he is seen to be angry. He is addressing a planet of slackers, unable to die with dignity. (more…)

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by Sam Juliano

The “Rest of Europe” polling is underway and will continue into early August.  Each voter gets fifteen choices, and there are six countries being considered:  Greece, Ireland, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium and the Netherlands.  Thank you Marilyn Ferdinand for mentioning Austrian director Jessica Hausner, since it alerted me to my tragic omission of LOURDES, which was my #1 film of its release year.  I was thinking it would count for a country already covered.  But I must revise my vote to include it now, and am still trying to work in two other films, one suggested by Tony d’Ambra – Michael Cacoyannis’s STELLA.

I have been focusing my attention this past week on Irish Jesus in Fairview, and am quite happy to report that as of TODAY – July 11th – I have eclipsed 85,000 words.  (Paradise ran 92,000). Obviously this means I am winding down to the finish line, though I still have a few crucial chapters to write including the very last, and numerous transitional passages and date revisions.  But I have made more progress over the past 12 days than I have for any time writing what will end up being a sequel longer than the first book.  I’d like to think the literary development of the characters and themes eclipses anything I did in the first book, but that is not for me to conclude.  As always, my friend and muse, Valerie Clark has been front and center with inquiries, support and the much needed push.

Sadly, many thespian passings over the week including the iconic Godfather star James Caan at 82 and F Troop stalwart Larry Storch at the amazing age of 99.  May they all R.I.P. (more…)

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“Rest of Europe” polling is hereby launched!
Six countries not previously considered will constitute the “Rest of Europe” poll in a month-long project that will run until August 5th. The six are: Ireland, Greece, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Austria.
Each voter gets fifteen (15) choices, to be entered chronologically, alphabetically, in ranked order or in arbitrary equal designation. As always the poll’s chief arbitrator and tabulator will be Bill Kamberger. My own ballot once again will be listed alphabetically:
Alpine Fire (Switzerland) 1985; Fredi M. Murer
The Assault (Netherlands) 1986; Fons Rademakers
The Butcher Boy (Ireland) 1997; Neil Jordan
Character (Netherlands/Belgium) 1997; Mike van Diem
Iphigenia (Greece) 1977; Michael Cacoyannis
The Dead (Ireland) 1987: John Huston
The Last Chance (Switzerland) 1945; Leopold Lindtberg
My Left Foot (Ireland) 1989; Jim Sheridan
Once (Ireland) 2007; John Carney
La Promesse (Belgium) 1996; Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne
Rosetta (Belgium) 1999; Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne
Toto the Hero (Belgium) 1991; Jaco van Dormael
Travelling Players (Greece) 1975; Theo Angelopoulos
Winter in Wartime (Netherlands) 2008; Martin Koolhoven
Wolfwalkers (Ireland) 2020; Tom Moore/Ross Stewart

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by Sam Juliano

July 4th was once a time of incalculable joy in Fairview!
Baby boomers regularly immersed in the priceless memories that defined their coming of age in the Borough of Fairview will doubtless count July 4th as a premium recall that as much as any time of the year exemplified the town’s community spirit. The fireworks that were staged on the Little League Field either on the evening of July 3rd or during the nocturnal invasion of July 4th proper by fire department personnel brought together athletes, Scouts, grammar and high school students, service organization officers and members, church activists, and even those who for most of the year were cloistered and reluctant to engage in social activities. The July 4th fireworks for many was the crowning event after daytime activities on the field that including pillow and relay races, games and complimentary refreshments such as hot dogs, pretzels and soft drinks.. Winners received trophies and framed acknowledgements from Borough officials or service organization leaders. While fireworks are still engineered in the area, the time is long gone when residents can look forward to July 4th as a day of frantic activity from 10 A.M. till 10 P.M. Like those of us who counted the days till the Yuletide airing of “The Wizard of Oz” on CBS, many Fairview youngsters focused their expectations on our nation’s birthday, from the moment they received their report cards, pondering the competition among their friends, and the cherry on top of the sundae, the raucous, booming pyrotechnic display that lit up Fairview’s sky and dared anyone living on 6th, 7th or 8th streets to turn in early.
The grass spaces around the field of course, were overflowing with locals, a bevy of people armed with lawn chairs, some waving sparklers and a few with a mischievous bent discussing their plans to set off “cherry bombs” on the way home from the event. Everybody knew everybody else in those days, and even the ocean of humanity that permeated every nook and cranny of the tract of land brought into Borough domain by legendary Republican Mayor Louis Battaglia in the 1950’s, didn’t diminish the ability of the locals to say hello or greet almost everyone who crossed their paths, on the way to the refreshment stand, up and down the access hill aside Our Lady of Grace, in and around Pop’s Park, the little kids’ playground overlooking the main theater or the descending path from the basketball courts. Of course the immediate locals -those who hailed from 6th, 7th, Kamena and Walker Streets- faithfully attended, and prevalent families like the Montefortes, Blasos, Foglios, Andreazzas, Rutches, Mesiscas, Ballerinis, Picinics, Booths, Mirandas, Lauras, Andrettas, Sartors, Weises were on hand, seemingly ubiquitous no matter where you walked in this gloriously congested hamlet. But the aforementioned names represent only a microcosm of the population who descended on the grounds, and through year-long face-to-face involvement at a time when social media was non-existent Fairview, by way of community and civil organizations, sports and shopping locally was truly one big family.
At the height of the boomer era -and no small coincidence- the wildly popular film version of the Broadway musical “1776”- released in late 1972, debuting at Radio City Music Hall, and for Fairviewites attuned to “philately” the mid-70s was a time to lay down some coin at the box-sized post office next to the Greek Church on Anderson Avenue for all the celebratory issues commemorating our bicentennial.
Yes, the 4th of July is what you make it, and even today those with an adventurous spirit can re-live some scene–specific joys, but the camaraderie we experienced in the 60s and 70s was a singular phenomenon. Ah, the memories, and so many tears.

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