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Showing posts from January, 2011

Ebert Gives Hopkins' Demon Priest Three-Star Review


BY ROGER EBERT / January 26, 2011

"The Rite" takes exorcism more seriously than I expected it to. It begins with the supposition that Satan is “alive and active in the world” and assumes that satanic possession takes place and that the rite of exorcism works. Otherwise, we wouldn't have a movie, would we? In metaphysical terms, I must immediately jump on the word “alive.” In what sense can a being that exists outside of time and space be said to be alive? Active, yes.
The movie is based on the actual experiences of Father Gary Thomas, a California priest who was assigned by his bishop to study exorcism at the Vatican. In "The Rite," he becomes Father Michael Kovak (Colin O'Donoghue) from Chicago, and the closing credits tell us he's now working in a Western suburb. That's a fib. The director, Mikael Hafstrom, should say three “Hail Marys” and make a good act of contrition.
Continue reading Ebert's three-star review

Richard II, Act 3, scene ii, by William Shakespeare

For God's sake, let us sit upon the ground
And tell sad stories of the death of kings;
How some have been deposed; some slain in war,
Some haunted by the ghosts they have deposed;
Some poison'd by their wives: some sleeping kill'd;
All murder'd: for within the hollow crown
That rounds the mortal temples of a king
Keeps Death his court and there the antic sits,
Scoffing his state and grinning at his pomp,
Allowing him a breath, a little scene,
To monarchize, be fear'd and kill with looks,
Infusing him with self and vain conceit,
As if this flesh which walls about our life,
Were brass impregnable, and humour'd thus
Comes at the last and with a little pin
Bores through his castle wall, and farewell king!
Cover your heads and mock not flesh and blood
With solemn reverence: throw away respect,
Tradition, form and ceremonious duty,
For you have but mistook me all this while:
I live with bread like you, feel want,
Taste grief, need friends: subjected thus,
How can you say to me, I am a kin…

Greg Scarpa: Mob Informer Who Played Key Role in Historical Civil Rights Case

Readers of this blog know that the Mafia is of major interest to me. I enjoy bringing to light interesting mobsters who did unbelievable things but who are not widely known about. The mob didn't end when John Gotti went to prison.

This post concerns Gregory Scarpa, Sr. (May 8, 1928 – June 4, 1994), who was a fiercely loyal capo in the Colombo crime family with cojones the size of coconuts. Known as "The Grim Reaper," for decades, especially from the1970s through early 1990s, Scarpa was Colombo boss Carmine Persico's chief enforcer, doling out the proverbial dirt nap to whoever defied the administration before dying of AIDS, contracted from a crew member during a blood transfusion.
In my post about junior hitman John Pappa, who also fought in the war on the same side as Scarpa, I wrote he'd be a great subject for a book or film; Scarpa would be an even better one.
That's because Scarpa, a mobster's mobster, was actually an informant for the FBI nearly the ent…

MTV Hits 'Jersey Shore' Again

OK, I admit it. I watch Jersey Shore. It reminds me of those carefree days of my youth, back when a career was the furthest thing from my mind (though I was always a writer, since I was maybe 12. I'd pound away on my father's old typewriter, a metal Remington that weighed a ton, and I know I finished one novel, though it was probably only 100 pages long. And it was about gangsters! I wish I had a copy of it, I'd love to read it. Hopefully I'd see that my writing ability had improved somewhat in the 31 years since. [We had just gotten HBO at the time, this was 1980, and I had been heavily influenced by The Godfather film, which HBO was playing like crazy at the time. The Deer HunterEscape From Alcatraz and Jaws 2 also were getting a lot of play around the same time -- that was the ultimate summer for a movie nut who just got HBO!] I also wrote horror, as a young writer named Stephen King had also grabbed my attention, and I had always been a horror fan, perhaps due to…

Noted Author of the Dark Side Philip Carlo Dead

Philip Carlo, whom I criticized as well as hyped in one of my posts, "Philip Carlo and the Quacking Duck," is dead. This came as a complete surprise to me; I just saw him, for the first time, on an episode of Mobsters about Anthony Gaspipe Casso, the subject of his book "Gaspipe," which I used as the jumping off point for my post, in which I called out some obvious mistakes in Mafia history made by Carlo. He died on Nov. 8, 2010, never to see the publication of his last book, "The Killer Within," which is ironically being released today, Jan. 6, 2011. (Here is an excellent interview with Carlo, on

However I still recommend his books, especially "Gaspipe," because there is a fascinating intimacy in his work due to his relationship with organized crime figures in the New York Mafia (his wife is the daughter of slain Eddie Garofalo, who was murdered by Sammy Bull Gravano); additionally, Carlo and his family had been close friends wi…

John Pappa—Life Behind Bars For A Job Well Done

UPDATED: There are a million stories in the naked city, and in the mob, too.
Take the case of John Pappa—books and films could be made about this guy, and perhaps one day will.
In May 1999 John Pappa was convicted of racketeering, drug dealing and four murders, including the 12th and final killing of the Colombo family war, which took three years to run its bloody course.
The Colombos have probably had more wars than any other family in the Mafia—they have also produced some of the most legendary “gangstars” of our age, including Greg Scarpa and Wild Bill Cutolo.
Pappa was arrested during a wedding rehearsal in 1997. That’s how it is done: you put a bullet in his head, then hug and kiss his mother at the funeral, and maybe you are invited to join the victim’s brother’s bridal party.
An excited team of cops and FBI agents nabbed the mobster at a church on Staten Island.
Pappa, 22 at the time, was chased into St. Ann's Church as members of the wedding party looked on in terror and s…

Department of 'Tell Us Something We Don't Know': The Inspiration for The Godfather Was Not 'Lucky' Luciano -- DUH!

UPDATED: Small World News Service is running a review of a book about Charles ‘Lucky’ Luciano, "Lucky Luciano: Mafia Murderer and Secret Agent," by Tim Newark (though the title seems to have been changed to "Lucky Luciano: The Real and the Fake Gangster," which at least sounds less silly than the first title, though it is still pretty damn silly nevertheless).

The book describes him as being "heralded ... as the model for legendary mafia boss Don Vito Corleone," from The Godfather, novel by Mario Puzo, and the film, directed by Francis Ford Coppola, screenplay by both men [as well as the screenplays for the two sequels].

"He was widely credited for running New York’s notorious underworld, and linked to multimillion dollar extortion rackets, revenge beatings and gangland murders," the review adds, quoting the book or a release about the book.

"But according to new research, his ‘legend’ was largely false and was fabricated by the U.S. Govern…

The Latest News for the "99ers"

At least they are not forgotten, and someone is fighting the good fight, uphill struggle though it is -- from an article a couple of days ago on The Richmond Times-Dispatch:


A month ago, Delta Airlines announced it was hiring 1,000 new flight attendants. The job can be difficult, and the pay isn't great. Nevertheless, more than 100,000 people applied. Sadly, we've seen this story repeated across the country. Americans are desperate for work.

Though the economy is getting better, out-of-work Americans face the most difficult job market of their lifetimes. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 4.4 unemployed people for every job opening in America today. Add in those who are working part-time but want full-time work, and the number exceeds seven unemployed or underemployed Americans per unfilled job.

"Yet some would turn their backs on their fellow Americans ... conservative talking heads call unemp…

What Was Up With Hitler's Mustache?

I could never understand it. Why did he wear it? It looked so ridiculous!

I am talking about Adolf Hitler and that toothbrush mustache he wore most of his life. During WWI we see pictures of him wearing the rich, luxurious handlebar that most other German soldiers also wore, but when he showed up in a suit ready to tackle politics he had trimmed the thing down. Well, now I know, and it makes perfect sense: Hitler and other WWI German soldiers had to trim their flowing mustaches to facilitate the wearing of gas masks; it makes sense that Hitler would wear it from then on, despite the changing styles and jibes from friends who dared to jibe him. His WWI experience was so important to him, it defined who he was and why he did what he did.

From Wikipedia a bit more background on that mustache: The Toothbrush moustache (also called Hitler moustache or Hitlerstache, Charlie Chaplin moustache, 1/3 moustache, philtrum moustache,the postage stamp, or soul (mou)stache) is a moustache, shaved at…