Tuesday, October 27, 2015


You miss a lot of the Bela Lugosi Universal classic “Dracula” on TV, including details in the costumes, sets and props.  It becomes abundantly clear that Dwight Frye as Renfield steals every scene he is in.   Seeing it last night at the AMC on the huge screen was a big treat.
Some plot essentials I missed on the TV showing included Lucy becoming a vampire and killing children.  Also the importance of Dr. Seward, who runs the sanitarium where Renfield is housed, is magnified and I will see the play “Dr. Seward’s Dracula” this week at the college across the street.
The VHS tape has the advantage of bridging the boredom gap with the Philip Glass music that fits the film’s mood.  The version shown at the Fathom TCM movie theater event had minimal music.  “Frankenstein” and “Bride of Frankenstein” have better scripts and are considered “art.”
“Dracula” looks like the stage play that it was originally.
The event included the Spanish language version shown in Latin America and made on the same set as the Lugosi version but with different actors.  The Spanish version provides more background, including Renfield’s admission that he wanted to atone for killing people when he became a vampire, so Van Helsing runs a stake through him.

Frye recreated that character in many other 30s movies and is seen as a gay hair stylist in Grand National’s “Something to Sing About,” an expensive musical with James Cagney that bankrupted the studio.  Frye is over the top in Majestic Studio’s “Vampire Bat” as a demented character with Faye Wray and Melvin Douglas.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Ghost Expert Explains Mysteries of Musical Appliances

BLOOMINGTON — Ghosts and spirits are the domain of Bobby Sullivan who spoke Saturday at the Penn Lake library as part of our Halloween.  I have a stereo that will start playing music unexpectedly and following Sullivan’s reasoning ghosts may inhabit that Curtis radio/phono/CD player.  He showed photos of ghost/spirit activity.  The ghost and zombies have been confused, but now we know better. Ghosts can drain batteries in cell phones and other devices.  Who knew?

Friday, October 23, 2015


I am far left, second row.  And I have stayed "far left."  Miss Eckhart was one of the best grade school teachers, but left mid-term to marry a former governor.

Zarkin's Promotion Certificate From Spokane Grade School

In appreciation for all Roosevelt Grade School did, we put on a variety show. I played the comb and tissue paper, "Heart of My Heart". Memorable.

Here's where I first saw "March of the Wooden Soldiers" and made a clay recreation of Jesus in the Manger.  Quite interesting for a Jewish boy in a public school.

Third grade teacher Lou Eckhart married a senior former governor and bid farewell in her mink coat.

Friday, October 16, 2015




The life experiences of four Minnesota Vietnam veterans were quite different as evidenced by their remarks last night at a forum at the Roseville Library sponsored by the Ramsey County Libraries.  One of the survivors has dealt with chemical dependency and the other three volunteer with a veterans organization hockey program.
The centerpiece to this discussion was the award-winning book “The Things They Carried “ by Tim O’Brien, also of Minnesota.  An actor read passages from the book.  The book may have been too painful for a couple of the participants to read, but no one disagreed with O’Brien’s assessment that the soldiers’ job entailed wondering aimlessly in the jungle and blowing up a few villages and villagers.  
None of the four returned to ‘Nam.
The forum was a prelude to the History Theater’s play based on the book, but I just can’t relive the trauma of the lives of O’Brien, Ted Lavender, Kiowa and Rat Kelly in ‘Nam after reading the book three times.  

Elsewhere, former co-worker Dave Frazier of Boise penned a memoir last year based on his rear echelon Saigon support public information duties with the army entitled “Drafted!: Vietnam at War and at Peace”.  Frazier was compelled to return to Vietnam as a tourist about three times and reconnect with families he knew from the war.  Frazier’s story is quite unrelated to the O’Brien book. (O’Brien pictured.)

Sunday, October 04, 2015


It’s been 77 years and we still don’t know answers, but his daughter, Marda Liggett Woodbury,  has compiled the “evidence” in her book “Stopping the Presses: The Murder of Walter Liggett.”
Cut to the chase:  Minneapolis (Murderapolis) was a hot bed of organized crime and corrupt, inept law enforcement in the Depression/Jazz Age.  Liggett, a newspaper editor,  was a crusader against local gangsters at a time when reporters who wrote the “truth” were on the mobsters’ “list.”
Also, Liggett called for the impeachment of Farmer-Labor Gov. Floyd B. Olson who Liggett saw as a betrayer of Farmer-Labor socialist goals.  Liggett suspected ties between the “Olson Gang” and organized crime.  There was no love lost between the governor and the newspaper editor.
Olson died of cancer a short time after Liggett was gunned down in 1938 in the alley behind his home at Lake and Harriet streets, now a trendy business district.  
Liggett’s wife and children witnessed his murder and his wife testified that Minneapolis gangster Kid Cann (Isadore Blumenfield) fired the shots from a moving car that fateful night.  Further confusing the story were accounts that other gangsters resembling Cann could have been the killer.  Minneapolis and Chicago combined had no shortage of gangsters.

The Liggett family lived a tough life during trying times that were made dangerous by Walter’s crusading attempts to destroy the powers behind organized crime and the Farmer-Labor Party.