Friday, June 18, 2010



Looking for a cinematic treat while beating the heat and kicking up your feet? Cool your heels while watching these summer-themed flicks from the last few decades:

Summertime” (1955) – Katharine Hepburn was nominated for an Oscar for her turn as a vacationing spinster who falls for a married antique dealer in Italy.
Memorable quote: The film’s tagline: “She came to Venice as a tourist … and went home a woman.”

Suddenly, Last Summer” (1959) – A stellar cast (Elizabeth Taylor, Katharine Hepburn and Montgomery Clift) lights up Gore Vidal’s somber adaptation of the Tennessee Williams play known for such then-verboten themes as homosexuality, cannibalism and lobotomy.
Memorable quote: “We would carve each day like a piece of sculpture, leaving behind us a trail of days like a gallery of sculpture until suddenly, last summer.”

The Endless Summer” (1966) – The “ultimate surf movie” follows avid boarders to California, Hawaii, Tahiti, Australia, New Zealand, Senegal, Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa in search of the perfect wave.
Memorable quote: “Malibu Beach, California, famous for its Malibu Outriggers, surfing, and girls. THIS is a girl … and for those of you who are maladjusted, THIS is a Malibu Outrigger.”

Summer of ’42” (1971) – A bittersweet coming-of-age film in which the lovely Jennifer O’Neill’s main concern is her soldier husband’s fate in WWII, while three hormonal teens’ main concern is the lovely Jennifer O’Neill.
Memorable quote (as the boys gawk at a medical journal about sex): “Before I saw these pictures, I didn’t think it was possible, either.”

Corvette Summer” (1978) – A high schooler’s automotive passion leads to a dream job as a Corvette mechanic, but he’s soon embroiled in the bossman’s dirty dealings. (Believe it or not, Mark Hamill DIDN’T do this for the money; he was already rolling in “Star Wars” dough!)
Memorable quote: “Ya wanna hitchhike, ya gotta stick somethin’ out.”

One Crazy Summer” (1986) – An aspiring cartoonist (John Cusack) and his pals come to the aid of a singer (Demi Moore, back when Ashton was 8) to save her family property from developers.
Memorable quote: (While reading the obituaries) “You ever notice how people die in alphabetical order?”

I Know What You Did Last Summer” (1997) – Four teenagers try to cover up a hit-and-run, but SOMEONE knows what happened. And they’re out for revenge.
Memorable quote: “We should have a plan. Angela Lansbury always had a plan.”

Summer of Sam” (1999) – Spike Lee’s spin on the “Son of Sam” murders during the summer of 1977 centers on the residents of a South Bronx neighborhood living in fear and distrust of one another.
Memorable quote: “Evil spelled backwards is live!”

(500) Days of Summer” (2009) – Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a young man who believes in true love. Summer (Zooey Deschanel) is a young woman who doesn’t. CON: It’s as disgustingly hip as the parentheses in the title. PRO: Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
Memorable quote: (Narrator): “Tom Hansen of Margate, NJ, grew up believing that he’d never truly be happy until the day he met ‘The One.’ This belief stemmed from early exposure to sad British pop music and a total misreading of the movie ‘The Graduate’.”

Friday, June 04, 2010



Since I began writing this column four years ago, countless readers have asked, “How do you come up with this stuff?” Well, in addition to having been blessed with a modicum of innate talent and what I suspect is a genetic predisposition toward insanity, I have experience and education on my side. I’ve spent years honing my craft (a work in progress) and I also hold a state-certified B.S. degree – not to be confused with a degree in B.S., which I also possess.

“I love to write, but I’m not very good at it,” many folks have lamented to me. Take heart, aspiring scribes, there IS help for you. Even if you’re not a natural-born writer, you CAN learn to be a better writer. Taking a cue from Frank L. Visco’s “How to Write Good,” I present “How to Write Even More Gooder.” By following these 20 handy hints, you’ll be on your way to more coherent scribbling in no time:

1. Prepositions should never be used to end sentences with. (That's why I always use a period after.)

2. Being a writer does NOT give you carte blanche to use foreign terms ad nauseam. This practice is gauche and makes you look like a humongous jerque.

3. Don’t be redundant. Use the fewest, smallest number of words possible to make your point and convey your message; otherwise you come across as repetitive, wordy, long-winded and repetitive.

4. Conversely, don’t use one-word sentences. Ever.

5. Or sentence fragments.

6. Profanity is used by &*%!$ with limited vocabularies.

7. There ain’t never no good excuse for using no double negatives.

8. Just between you and I, some writers could care less about misusing certain words and expressions, irregardless of how awful it sounds. A responsible writer takes the time to research how to use the bestest grammar possible.

9. One exclamation point is enough to express strong feelings!!!!!

10. Avoid repetition. There’s no need to say the same thing over and over.

11. Clich├ęs are for the birds and often stick out like a sore thumb. Instead, try to think outside the box.

12. Its important to use apostrophe’s properly.

13. Also, please, do not, get carried away, with the commas.

14. Same goes for the overuse of quotes by famous people. Quotation confesses inferiority – or so Ralph Waldo Emerson, American essayist, philosopher and poet (1803-1882), said.

15. Employing bad analogies is as terrible as when you get a letter from some non-profit organization asking for donations and you don’t send them any, but you still use the little return-address labels that they sent as a gift.

16. Talented though they may be, dangling participles make even the most brilliant writers sound like idiots.

17. Using big, fancy words when more plebian locution would suffice makes your writing abstruse and superciliously magniloquent.

18. If something was mentioned previously, to do so again is repetitious.

19. Proofread thoroughly to see if you any words out, as well as to to be certain you didn’t repeat any. And don’t forgit to use spell-check.

20. And speaking of proofreading … it’s also a good way to make sure there are no unfinished