Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Mysterians

In my youth I watched any kind of science fiction film or TV show. I saw The Mysterians on some Saturday in the late 60s or early 70s. Some bits from that flick stuck with me into my early fifties (i.e. now): the bird-headed robot with ray-gun eyes, the Mysterians' cool helmets and capes, the abduction of Earth women from hovering saucers. Recently, I noticed it had come out on DVD; I ordered it immediately. After 3 viewings I must say I am impressed with the beautiful Mysterian gadgetry and the splendid martial music accompanying the parade of tanks, planes, missiles, etc.
The version I got was dubbed, but when I listened to the original Japanese trailer, I realized that "Mysterian" was not the translation of some Japanese word. They actually call them "Mysterians," which must suggst the exotic, mysterious Occident.* The DVD cover supplies the uncredited quote "The Greatest Science Fiction Picture ever Conceived by the Mind of Man," which may be a bit inflated. Still, it's definitely worth at least a look at the trailer for the American release. I may have to have a Mysterian party.

*(The allure of the west still rules in modern Japan. Teenagers are keen to have their eyes embiggened.)

Friday, May 23, 2008

Love Thy Neighbor? Not This One!

This is James W. Lewis and his wife LeAnn. The couple lived in Chicago for a few months in 1981-2, after which they moved to New York. They were calling themselves Robert and Nancy Richardson, because James was wanted on Kansas City charges: bilking elderly people out of land and unlawful flight to avoid prosecution. Since LeAnn had been fired from her Chicago travel agency job for taking office stationery for personal use, James needed to take revenge on her ex-boss. The 1982 Tylenol poisonings gave him the means: he wrote a note to Johnson & Johnson (on the travel agency letterhead) demanding one million dollars to end the poisonings and signed it with the ex-boss's name. He asked that the money be transfered to an account belonging to said ex-boss. However, his clever plan backfired. Apparently he did not think to type the note or to disguise his handwriting. Police found his fingerprints on the letter and matched the handwriting. Since the couple were in New York when the Tylenol bottles must have been tampered with, James was only charged with extortion. After serving 13 years of his 20-year sentence he was released. He and his wife moved into a lovely building in Cambridge, MA, which happens to be one of the 2 buildings in my condo association. Luckily it wasn't my building. Still, it was pretty close.
Fast forward to July 29, 2004. Once again, Mr. Lewis is in trouble with the law. His partner in a consulting business claimed he had used spice spray on her and struggled with her for four hours before raping her. When the case finally came to trial, the accuser refused to testify against him and Lewis was released. Recently he's been giving interviews, bewailing his wrongs. Being suspected of the Tylenol killings caused him great anguish: "I can tell you it is a big weight to have thrown at you and it is nothing that your mother prepares you for and it is not something that you learn about in school" (see McCabe).
I don't suspect him of being the Tylenol poisoner. But I do call him the Tylenol man; writing that note earned him the name.

McCabe, Neil W., "My Chat With the Tylenol Man" The Alewife, October 03, 2007
Bell, Rachel, "The Tylenol Terrorist: Looking for Answers" TruTV Crime Library
Hilts, Philip J. and Joyce Wadler, "Wanted on Extortion Charges; Tylenol Figure Arrested in New York" The Washington Post, December 14, 1982, Tuesday, Final Edition, First Section; A1
Roger Nicolsen Interview:

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

John Malkovich Being John Malkovich

Overheard in a Harvard Square restaurant:

He: I saw John Malkovich today!
She: Where was he?
He: Just walking down the street!
She: Just walking down the street?
He: He was shopping!
He was shopping!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

View From My Patio

Here you see the side of the old building next door. The bottom part houses Mayflower Poultry. Their sign says "Live Poultry, Fresh Killed." It sounds like a Zen koan. The tree on the right hides the grill behind which blows an industrial-strength fan, sending the scent of uncooked chicken outside. Sometimes the people on my side of the building have to call the city health dept. when the scent gets a bit too intense. A bunch of people, unconnected to the chicken trade, live in an apartment above. You can see two of their windows in the upper left. One of the occupants does commercial photography and makes big flashes that you think are lightening, until no thunder comes.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

A Satisfying Friday Night

Julie, Ann, me (behind camera), and Sue (below) enjoy a night out at the River Gods, an Irish pub with mystical and river-themed decoration.
The man at the left is a stranger. The lady hanging from the ceiling (below) is apparently some kind of river sprite.
After a delicious dinner of booze and fried food, we said goodnight to Ann. Dave (of Julie & Dave) joined us at Sue's place, where we marveled at her peonies (below).

Then we watched two TV shows (not pictured) of a type new to me. The hosts of Survivorman and Man vs. Wild travel to wild places where they demonstrate all sorts of useful survival skills. The Survivorman was in Utah; he almost died of thirst until he found a silty little pool. Then he made 5 pack rat traps with materials he found lying around and a stone knife he made. But only one trap actually caught anything. Bummer. The MvW host is a skinny British guy name Bear. His show was more exciting, and he ate a lot more gross stuff, like the big yellow thing (grub?) that exploded into a sticky mess on his face when he bit it. He also built an elaborate signal fire worthy (as Julie noted) of Martha Stewart. Good times!

Friday, May 02, 2008

I Missed the Fire on Dunster St....

...because I didn't go to work until 11:30, by which time most of the excitement was over. I had my camera with me, because I was going to take some library snaps for a web site. So had Fate sent me there in the early morning, I might have had my own photos, instead of this one I swiped off What EXCITEMENT was left? SLOW network service. The Harvard Health Service had to CLOSE, so I couldn't pick up my new glasses. Co-workers regaled me with stories of TRAFFIC jams and BLOCKED OFF streets. Oh well, maybe I'll be there for the next exciting thing.
Oh, no, here's something else that happened this morning:

Carmen 'The Cheeseman' DiNunzio indicted in Big Dig corruption sting

Thursday, May 01, 2008

More Old Photos

Maybe I'll try scanning these again. It's hard to get the glare out when photographing photographs.