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by Sam Juliano

I would like to thank Bobby Jopsson, Peter Morose, Celeste Fenster and Frank Aida for their concerned messages after the missed Monday Morning Diary this past week.  As I explained on Thursday in my “All is Well” post I got caught up and then we lost power.  It was a maddening week and what with the continuing pandemic woes one of the worst seven days periods I can remember.  We are still in the dark on school openings as it seems experts are envisioning a surge in cases by October.  We remain in a bad way and aren’t remotely out of the woods, neither here in the Metropolitan area, nor in the rest of the country.  I have been busy on my anthology projects on FB and am commencing the latest one on Rod Serling’s Night Gallery. (more…)

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All is well!

I received a few e mail messages inquiring about the missing MMD this week.  My family and I are well, but I was overwhelmed by the FB The Twilight Zone project which ended on Monday with a three-review flourish.  Then we were hit by a major storm and power outages on Tuesday when I planned to post a replacement Tuesday Morning Diary.  I will be back will bells on on Monday and much appreciate the kind words, support and concern!

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by Sam Juliano

Now the prognosis on school openings in September is back on uncertain ground as in too many states the virus numbers continue to surge.  I’ve love to be able to paint a rosier picture and express more optimism but there just isn’t enough evidence to do that.  The situation has improved dramatically in our area -we paid our dues after all when we were the epicenter- but there can be no denying that is several areas in the country the virus is totally out of control.  Ah these are such trying times.  If Allan were still here he’d really put the situation in perspective with his inimitable wit, but as it is I’m sure he’s looking down and hoping we make it.

I have decided on the advice of another reader to hold off ten more days and then post my full Twilight Zone Top 78 presentation at the conclusion which is nearing.  I am down to Number 17 (The Masks) today in my second of two posts.  Jim Clark’s new essay will post on Wednesday.

For those who have not yet seen Duane Porter’s stupendous ‘Best of 2019’ presentation (his seventh year in a row at the site) please check it out.  As always an incomparable look at film over a one-year period. (more…)

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by Sam Juliano

In the New York-New Jersey area things continue to move in the right direction, though in Florida, Texas, Arizona, California and elsewhere it couldn’t be any worse.  The heat has moved in a punishing way making things wholly uncomfortable and the summer of 2020 a time that will live in infamy.  Wishing all the best to our friends who are urged to take no risks.

I have decided to post some of my Facebook Twilight Zone reviews from my ongoing Top 78 that today reached Number 31 in reverse numerical order.

Top 78 Twilight Zone Episodes

Episode 34 “One for the Angels” (presented in reverse numerical order) Season 1

Mr. Death, that erstwhile reminder that life on Earth is and always has been a temporary proposition, has made multiple appearances on The Twilight Zone. One time he materialized as a matinee idol in an elderly woman’s tenement, another as a haunting visage who always popped up at the side of highways, and finally as a suit-wearing clerical type who was willing to compromise and one whose earthly presence was was as a messenger for a higher ruling body which oversaw induction in the two final destinations so aptly framed by John Milton. In only the second episode of The Twilight Zone to air back in the autumn of 1959, Mr. Death pays a visit to a lowly aging pitchman with some engaging quirks, whose overriding pleasure in his life is to help and intermingle with the neighborhood children.

Lou Bookman, in his mid-60s, isn’t remotely ill, as he conveys to his seemingly innocuous mercenary, but his time has come, giving some spiritually-attuned credence to the idea that everyone’s time of departure is preordained, and once firmed up can never be altered. Bookman admits he has made little difference during his life, though by that point the audience can see he does indeed have a vital function, one not kept in celestial record books, but appreciated by those lucky to receive his magnanimous gestures and attention. Initially Bookman is in denial and tries to elude the ghostly representative by leaving the room and re-locating to different areas in the building but Mr. Death is always there, gently admonishing Bookman for tactics that are doomed to failure. The persistent, charismatic Bookman eventually convinces his mildly abrasive stalker to to delay his imminent departure until he makes one last sales pitch, “one for the angels.” Mr. Death agrees but when he asks when this pitch may be orchestrated Bookman pulls a technicality, saying he is retiring. Mr. Death concedes he has been scammed, but informs Bookman that someone else must take his place in this fateful equation. (more…)

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by Sam Juliano

We are approaching mid-July and nothing has changed in any resonant manner.  Movie theaters are planning to open soon but many of us, even those with long running attendance will be rushing to risk getting infected.  We all have out DVD/blu ray collections and a bevy of streaming services to fill that void.  While for the time being we are in a better spot than we have been in a very long time in the New York-New Jersey region, much of the rest of the nation is experiencing resurgences and high case numbers.  Deaths too have sadly increased.  The political scene has many of us in disbelief and this week our “wise and witty” Chief Executive is saying that children must attended school in September or they will losing funding.  Derangement of a tall order.

I have been presenting my Top 77 in reverse numerical order of The Twilight Zone with two reviews a day, one in the morning and one at night on Facebook.  On next week’s MMD I will published all that I posted so far.  The project has received amazing support from the show’s fans, and I am thrilled.  Thank you Bobby J. for inquiring, next week you will see the progress so far! (more…)

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by Sam Juliano

July has showed up with excessive heat in most regions stateside, with the Metropolitan area seeing 90 degree temperatures.  The summer season has also brought out throngs of people willing to chance virus infections and the numbers have been on the rise in Florida, Texas and a number of other states and areas.  Yours Truly has been teaching a summer school program in virtual mode and it will continue until the final day of the month.  I’ve been working hard on a Top 77 Twilight Zone project on FB with a daily submissions each day after I completed similar ventures with Thriller, Outer Limits and Alfred Hitchcock Presents.  The political insanity seems to intensify each and every day and social media is a place where many seem to preach and promote propaganda.  In any event it seems things are going well for many of us who are looking for a change. (more…)

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by Sam Juliano

Our “virtual” summer school classes commence this week on Wednesday (July 1st) and will run until the final day of the month.  Meanwhile, New Jersey’s governor has announced that in person classes will return in September under the auspices of the individual districts, which will decide how to negotiate social distancing via class sizes and monitor testing.  This will be like nothing ever encountered and the year will be more than challenging.

This is one of the briefest MMDs ever, but today I was preparing for my classes and next week will return with a more comprehensive report.  Wishing all continued safety.

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by Sam Juliano

Though case numbers are still rising in Florida, California, Texas and other states -and now we have irresponsible, though happily poorly attended political rallies as part of the problem- things are getting better daily in the New York-New Jersey metropolitan area.  I even ventured out to get my hair cut early this morning  on the very first day barbers are again allowed to exercise their craft.  The Fairview school district will actually be conducting the annual summer school program from July 1st to July 31st and Yours truly will again be involved though unlike other years the negotiation will be virtual instead of in person.

This was a very difficult week for extended family passings, though none were COVID-19 related.  But zero consolation of course.  Thanks to social media friends for their generous words.  This past week the titanic actor Ian Holm passed away at age 88.  One of the all-time greats.

Jim Clark published another banner essay in his continuing Ingmar Bergman series this past Wednesday on From the Life of the Marionettes. (more…)

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Jeremy shown at local Black Lives Matter rally. He attended the event this past week with my other four children.

by Sam Juliano

Racial tensions continue to hold the stage around the nation with another killing in Atlanta on Friday bringing renewed focus on the sad situation that has attracted the eyes of the world at the time the pandemic is still a direct threat to our existence. As to the latter concern, our immediate area is better than it has ever been with hospitalizations down to a trickle and case numbers the lowest they have been though the residual death numbers, carry overs from infection over a month ago (84 yesterday for example) still remind us we can never let down our guard.  New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced this past week that summer school programs can move forward and even in person on July 6th to boot.  But the decision as to whether to go with the physical option instead of the virtual one will be left up to the respective school districts.  While no word has yet come down on September it is looking more likely now that school will open at that time, virus resurgences notwithstanding.  Meanwhile around the country there are hotspots reminding us we are far from out of the woods.

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by Sam Juliano

The Monday Morning Diary thread is back after a rare one-week absence due to the concluding post of the Fourth Annual Allan Fish Online Film Festival publishing the previous Monday.  I speculated that if anyone had anything to say aside from the festival entry they would post it on the submission thread, which our friend Mark Smith did.  I want to thank all those who commented and place likes and also to those who again contributed mighty essays – Roderick Heath, Sachin Gandhi, J. D. Lafrance and project founder Jamie Uhler.  While five submissions was admittedly the lowest total we’ve ended up with since the festival began in May, 2017, we can basically attribute that to the stressful circumstances we are presently living in. In any event quality was not compromised as we may have had the most extraordinary presentation yet.  God willing we will proceed next year with the 5th Annual, and may yet attract more writers at a time when we are hoping the pandemic will no longer be part of the equation. (more…)

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