Monday, December 31, 2007

There are no stories sadder than unrequited love, right?

My foster daughter and her husband gave me a gift of gifts this Christmas: an iPhone. I've been wanting one of these things since I first saw it. Among my many flaws is an attraction to gadgets, esepcially if they are from Apple. I've been an Apple guy since the 1980s when we brought a Mac Plus. Since then I've had a succession of Apple machine and have been very much in love .

I've successfully resisted getting an iPod, but the iPhone called an siren's song to me. My daughter consulted with my wife if I really wanted one, received affirmation and lo and behold on Christmas Day I got one.



Well, I brought the phone to the local Apple store for activation. Yes, the instructions said plug it into your computer, but I thought it would be easier (and I could get some operating tips) if I went there. No, I had to plug it into my computer I was told.

I did and found out I needed a newer operating system.

So I called Apple and asked if my iMac G5 had the memory needed for the new Mac OS. Yes, I was told. So I went back to the Apple store and spend $129 plus tax on "Leopard." Where do they get these cat names from for a computer operating system?

I came back and tried to install it only to find our that the no good rat-soup-drinking junkyard no-show muffin wrapper technician had either lied or didn't know his backside from a hole in the ground.

Another call to Apple confimed I needed more memory: $100 more to be precise.

So I ordered it and now am waiting to receive it so it can be installed.

Then I will have to install the new operating system, hitchup the iPhone and get it activated.

Boy, I hope I like this thing.

© 2007 by Gordon Michael Dobbs

Friday, December 28, 2007

It's nearly the New Year a time for reflection, hope and the best of intentions.

I don't make resolutions much anymore because someone will use them against me later on in the year to prove just what kind of a slug I am. Since I unwittingly provide enough ammunition for those accusations, I really don't need actively work on my critic's behalf.

In the best (or worse) tradition of pundits, I can make resolutions for other people, though. So here goes:

For incoming Mayors Domenic Sarno, Susan Dawson and Michael Boulanger, be resolved that you shouldn't make any promises that your budget can't keep. And try to schedule more than five minutes at any one event so you can give people the idea that you really care instead of simply giving them a token of your attention.

Another resolution should be to treat the press well. Give us more advance notice than an hour for press conferences, if possible. And always give your hottest stories to the staff of Reminder Publications first. You'll go to heaven if you do.

For the Chicopee Board of Aldermen, be resolved you all should get matching T-shirts that read "City Councilor." It will take some time to get people used to calling you a new name.

For the Springfield City Council, be resolved you should actually seek ways to work with the new mayor and the new Finance Control Board instead of being obstructionists. Not all of you have been that way, granted you know who you are.

To the members of the Legislature, be resolved you actually think about what your constituents want, rather than the whims of the leadership.

To folks who want stories from us, be resolved to play by the rules: give us two week's notice if at all possible; send us the notice by e-mail ( and feel free to call me or Natasha Clark to see if we've received the e-mail this is not a perfect technology.

Please note we accept bribes. Staple a $20 bill to a press release and you'll be amazed at the service you get. Wrap a press release around a fine cigar. Sprinkle a press package liberally with gift cards. Note: I'm just kidding. Sort of.

To decision makers at the big daily paper, be resolved to at least thank us when you lift story ideas from us. Hey, we love you fellow ink slingers!

To the guys who plow the snow on my street, be resolved you'll actually do a good job instead of the sloppy incomplete one I normally have to endure. There are dirt roads in Vermont that are more carefully plowed than mine in the middle of New England's fourth largest city.

To my neighbors on Beech Street with the dog you've chained to my fence, be resolved you'll actually have a moment of enlightenment and understand how terribly cruel you are to this animal.

To my neighbors on Florence Street with the chickens, be resolved you actually understand you're not supposed to have poultry running around the neighborhood.

(Don't you just love my neighborhood?)

To Lucky the Wonder Bichon, be resolved you will not see the need to lift your leg in the house, especially in the summer when the back door is wide open.

Now for the sake of equal time Damn you, conscience! I resolve to lose more weight; meet my deadline for my second book; convince a publisher to accept my third book; finish scraping and painting my house; retire my Chris and Dan Buendo voodoo dolls they don't seem to work anyway; try not to swear at the television weathermen as much as I currently do; go see more movies in theaters; spend far less time and money on eBay; and do whatever my wife wants me to do when she wants me to do it.

She'll laugh now and use that against me later.
© 2007 by Gordon Michael Dobbs

Thursday, December 27, 2007

I've been meaning to post this story I wrote for a while, but just didn't get around to it thanks to the holiday swirl. I saw Burns speak and he was great. He repeated part of what he referenced in this article: how this generation's "Pearl Harbor" did not elict a reponse for sacrifice and shared purpose. Instead, Burns said the America public was told to shop. And he's right. The government with the cooperation of the major press have done their best to keep this war, especially in its occupation phase, out of the view of the American public.

Now before you all tell me it's on the nightly news every night, ask yourself what kind of stories are usually run? They are stories of attacks and body count. I don't ever get the sense of what is actually going on there, except for that. There is much much more, but are we getting the chance to learn about it through the mediums the bulk of Americans use?

Anyway, if you've not seen "The War," get a copy and watch it. It's a great film.

For Ken Burns, the award-winning documentary filmmaker, his approach to
the story of America’s involvement in the Second World War wasn’t to focus
on the presidents, prime ministers or generals, but instead to report it
through the lives or ordinary people.

And Burns is quick to add the men and women who experienced the war were
not “ordinary.”

Burns spoke to Reminder Publications last week. He will be appearing at
a signing and a discussion about “The War” at 2 p.m. Dec. 15 at the Borders
bookstore at the Holyoke Mall. Aside from the recent release of the
documentary on DVD, there is also a companion hardcover book by Geoffrey C.
Ward and Burns.

Burns said that in producing the film, the first thing one had to do was
shed any idea of a standard documentary format for the production. The goal
was to make “an authentic film.”

That task was daunting because Burns added World War II was “the biggest
event in human history.”

Burns wanted to approach the subject through four communities –
Luverne, Minn., Sacramento, Ca, Mobile, Ala. and Waterbury, Conn. – and
their citizens. To do so, once the communities were selected Burns and his
colleagues spoke to over 600 people – individuals who saw combat and those
waiting for their loved ones to return from combat.

From that group, about 40 on-camera interview subjects were selected.
They ranged from people who fought in the Pacific and European theaters to
Americans who were imprisoned behind enemy lines to young women who found
themselves working in jobs that supported the war effort.

Burns said it was a privilege to speak with these people as it allowed
him to see what it was like to experience the war.

Many other documentaries have discussed the leaders and the events of
the war and Burns thought this approach “keeps you away from what really
happens in war.”

The production took seven years to make and involved going through
thousand of hours of archival movie footage – some of it was truly horrific
Burns said – thousands of photographs and hundreds of hours of interview, he

Burns wanted to put viewers into the shoes of Americans living during
the war by cutting from scenes about the clash to Europe to the home front
to the war in the Pacific rather than covering those events in separate
parts of the film.

“Americans were overwhelmed by news,” he said.

With uncensored war footage and frank interviews with veterans and
others, Burns hoped to strip away the romance that has surrounded “the good

“The good war was the worse war ever,” he added.

Burns noted, though, one can draw some of the most positive examples of
human behavior from the war.

“The good stuff is only made better when you lift up the carpet and
sweep out some of the dirt,” he said.

The ultimate result is a film that has made a deep impression on its
viewers. Burns said he has received thousands of calls and letters from
veterans who have told him that finally someone has portrayed what being in
the war was like. Burns has received gifts such as dirt from Omaha beach and
sand from Iwo Jima from viewers.

“It’s been an amazing, amazing outpouring,” he said.

With America is currently involved in a war that was started with an
event that has parallels with the attack on Pearl Harbor, Burns noted
Americans today haven’t been asked to make any sacrifices unlike their
countrymen of 60 years ago.

He said that at signings he always asks how many people know someone who
is serving in Iraq or Afghanistan and he said only about two percent raise
their hands.

He said the lack of involvement of most American’s in today’s conflict
has resulted in a separate military class.

During World War II, Americans were in the fight together, he said.

“Today we’re all individual free agents,” he added.

He said we might be today ‘a richer nation, but we feel a poverty of

Review: “The War”
For anyone who harbors romantic notions about “The Good War,” Burns’
lengthy documentary will quickly remove any rose-colored glasses.

“The War’ is a story about how a nation of people who largely viewed
themselves as unaffected by events happening in both Europe and Asia reacted
when thrust into a conflict the likes the planet had never seen before.

And while Burns shows how Americans reacted in selfless and noble ways,
he balances the coverage by also showing that people were all too human.
Whether it is the racial tension that came with the industrial mobilization
or the shameful treatment of Japanese American citizens, this film does what
no other documentary on World War II has ever done: it relates the story of
the war in truly understandable terms.

Like “the Civil War,” the film for which Burns is best know, “The War”
uses a variety of firsthand sources and accounts. The difference with this
film is that we are able see and hear those witnesses in contemporary
interviews. This film is all the more powerful because we can relate to the
events through these people.

This film established a human link between those who experienced the war
and those who have only seen it as a historical event and I think it should
be required viewing for anyone wishing to understand the American

© 2007 by Gordon Michael Dobbs

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas to all!

It's almost here so I'm almost through my annual Christmas anxieties:

I stress out trying to prepare stuff at work so I can take time off.

I try to relax about shopping for my wife because I want to the holiday gifts to be memorable.

I want the Xmas meal to go well....what did I forget?

I hope to find a DVD for Steve B. that he doesn't have already! It's best to ask.

And now a new worry: making sure I don't ruin Christmas by saying something insulting to friends over dinner!

Worst Xmas special: anything by Rankin-Bass...Yag! I've hated all of the stuff since I was a kid.
Best Xmas special: Chuck Jone's Grinch. Still love it.
Best Xmas movie: a tie between "A Christmas Story" "It's a Wonderful Life" and the original "Miracle on 34th Street" Special runner-up "The Muppets Christmas Carol"
Worst Xmas film: no not the obvious: "Santa Claus Conquers the Martians" or "Santa Claus [Mexican version]". I can't stand "White Christmas" yeech...Danny Kaye.
Best pop Xmas album: Nat King Cole's Christmas album
Worst Christmas music: Anything involving Paul McCartney.

Your turn!
© 2007 by Gordon Michael Dobbs

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Here's a press release dated Dec. 12 that provides something to think about this Christmas season.

Here's an interesting formula: as more and more jobs leave this nation, our standard of living decreases. As our buying power wanes, we are forced to shop at places like Wal-Mart. With every purchase of cheap foreign goods, we potentially damage the jobs we have left.

We've got to reverse this if we don't all want to be shopping at Family Dollar.

Yeah, yeah I'm the frickin' Grinch ain't I? We're not to consider such upsetting thoughts this holiday season. Sorry....not!

Wal-Mart Christmas Ornaments Made Under
Illegal Sweatshop Conditions in China

Wal-Mart Christmas ornament workers toil 10 to 15 hours a day, seven days a week, going for months without a day off. Many workers earn as little as 26 cents an hour—just half of China’s legal minimum wage. Workers handle toxic chemicals without protective gear. Some children as young as 12 worked in the factory.

Senator Byron Dorgan holds a simultaneous press conference in the Senate Gallery in Washington, DC.

At a press conference at Rockefeller Center in New York City, in the shadow of the Christmas Tree, the country’s leading labor rights activist, National Labor Committee director Charles Kernaghan, released a 58-page report, documenting the horrific conditions under which Wal-Mart’s Christmas ornaments are made in China. The release includes unprecedented photographs and video footage of child laborers and workers in the Spray Painting department handling potentially dangerous chemicals without the most rudimentary safety gear.

The National Labor Committee’s report, “A Wal-Mart Christmas Brought to You from a Sweatshop in China” provides a rare inside view of the giant Guanzhou Huanya ornaments factory in Guangdong, where every single labor law, not to mention internationally recognized worker rights standards, are being grossly violated on a daily basis. The report can be accessed on the NLC’s website:

Among the abusive conditions documented in the report are:

Five hundred to 600 16-year-old high school students were employed last summer, along with some children as young as 12 years of age, toiling 10 to 12 to 15 hours a day, seven days a week, and going for months on end without receiving a single day off. Wal-Mart Christmas ornament workers are at the factory a minimum of 84 hours a week, while at least half the workers are at the factory 105 hours a week.

Anyone daring to take a Sunday off will be docked 2 ½ days’ wages.

Some workers earned as little as 26 cents an hour, just half China’s legal minimum wage of 55 cents an hour, which itself is not close to a subsistence level wage. Pay sheets smuggled out of the factory show workers earning a median wage of 49 cents an hour, including overtime, and $42.29 for 110 hours of work, while they should have earned $74.77. Workers were cheated of one-third of the wages legally due them. Factory pay sheets showed just eight percent of the workers earning the legal minimum wage, while 92 percent fell below that.

Workers in the Spray Paint department who develop skin rashes and sores while handling potentially dangerous chemicals have no choice but to leave the factory, as management does not pay medical bills or sick days. For quitting on short notice, workers are docked one month’s pay.

By July, the high school students were so exhausted from the grueling 12 to 14-hour shifts, seven days a week that they went on strike and brought a legal suit against the factory, denouncing the grueling, illegal hours and seven day workweeks for which they were paid below the legal minimum. The students also reported to the Labor Bureau that some 12-year-olds worked at the factory.

“With its expensive PR campaign, and masquerading as Tiny Tim, Wal-Mart is glorifying the virtue of buying cheap goods in its stores, claiming this is the real holiday spirit,” said Charles Kernaghan, “But, especially at this time of year, no American would knowingly purchase a product in Wal-Mart if they knew that bargain was based on the exploitation of children and teenagers forced to work grueling hours, seven days a week, who are stripped of their rights and paid pennies an hour. Wal-Mart will remain a Scrooge, so long as its bargains are based on the cheapening and immiseration of the lives of the young workers in China who make 70 percent of the goods sold in Wal-Mart.”

U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) said in a statement released in Washington, D.C., “Chinese sweatshops now produce not only the toys under our Christmas trees, but even the ornaments that hang on those trees. It is completely against the spirit of Christmas to produce ornaments in sweatshop factories where the workers are physically abused and financially cheated. We need to get serious about keeping the products of foreign sweatshops off American shelves. And we shouldn’t wait until next year’s holiday season rolls around before we take action.”

© 2007 by Gordon Michael Dobbs

Monday, December 17, 2007

It’s that time of year when memories of past Christmas seasons come floating back through the ether.

I was always quite suspicious of Santa Claus.

It just seemed to be a lot to believe – North Pole, elves and the fact he gave out all of the presents around the world in just one night.

I wasn’t a particularly smart-ass kid, but seeing Santa at Sears in West Springfield and then at Bradley’s seemed just wrong to me.

Our home at 104 Navajo Rd. in Springfield didn’t have a fireplace and chimney. There was a flue and an incinerator – remember incinerators? They’d burn up almost anything – and I couldn’t buy my parents’ assertions that Santa slid through the incinerator.

And when they offered the explanation that he came through a window, just like some cat burglar, I pretty much wrote old Saint Nick off.

The “crisis” of my teetering belief – hey, as long as I received presents, I was just as happy – was stabilized though one night when there was a knock on the front door.

Now, no one used the front door. Everyone used the side door through the breezeway, so I assumed this was someone we didn’t know.

I vaguely remember a man in a uniform and one of my parents taking an envelope from him. It was a telegram.

A telegram?! I only saw telegrams in the movies. This story took place 1960 or ’61. At that time, long-distance phone calls were still a relative rarity and telegrams were still a means to communicate quickly. However, for most people they were reserved for important and often bad news. Telegrams were official and important. You didn’t mess with a telegram.

And this telegram was addressed to my brother and me and it was from Santa!

Now, my young mind had difficulty processing all of this. We had received a telegram, a real Western Union telegram, and it was from Santa. There was some progression of logic that ended with the conclusion that Santa was real.

Wow. The doubting Thomas was silenced quite a bit. Perhaps Santa was real. After all who would send the telegram to us if he didn’t exist?

You see how trusting I am? It’s no wonder I voted for Mitt Romney for governor.

It never occurred to me that my parents had sent the telegram to us to shore up our fading belief. It worked until the next spring when there was a telegram from the Easter Bunny. That blew it. I had never believed in a six-foot rabbit distributing hardboiled eggs and candy throughout the land.

Western Union had fractured its credibility with me, too.

But those relative few moments when I thought Santa could be real were nice to savor.


When I was on the late and lamented WREB way back over 20 years ago, I was the fattest guy on the station. I’m now the fattest guy at this newspaper office. Some stuff doesn’t change.

Both Jonathan Evans and Rom Chimelis, with whom I shared the daily talk duties, were slender. Therefore, when the annual Santa Claus broadcast came up, guess which one got to don the suit?

Yup, I got to represent Saint Nick quite a few years including a gig as the official Holyoke Santa.

Now, I was a traditionalist. I didn’t say or do anything to tarnish Santa’s reputation to get a cheap laugh. And I tried hard not to scare the parade of pre-schoolers who were brought to a downtown bank from where we broadcast for a day.

Santa is one of the ultimate authority figures. His judgment would determine what kind of a holiday you had – that’s pretty big in the world of kids.

The most memorable request came from a little girl no older than four. When I asked her on the air what she wanted, she replied quickly and confidently, “Diamonds.”

And when I served as Santa for the Paper City, I was put to the test: my wife decided to bring our then wee tyke nephew Andrew to see Santa.

Talk about stress – I really didn’t want to mess up this kid’s mind when he recognized his uncle.

But thanks to a superior Santa outfit – Holyoke didn’t cut any corners – Andrew declared to my wife Mary that he had visited the “real” Santa.

I wonder if he remembers?
© 2007 by Gordon Michael Dobbs

Monday, December 10, 2007

Politics is just as seductive as entertainment to me and often times they seem almost alike. In a perfect world, I'd be a full-time talking head pundit by name and an entertainment reporter by night.

What I wouldn't want to be is a pollster as pundits are supposed to offer educated guesses while pollsters are supposed to offers facts based on statistical data. Pundits can make a goof or two and still retain their jobs. Pollsters are required to be right.

The folks at Zogby sent me the following information which I'd like to share with my like-minded readers. What interests me is how the pundits are now revising their "front runner has got it locked" rhetoric to "it's now anyone's game" as we get closer to actuall voting.

And I love the whole rap on Mitt Romney: focusing on his religion and his electibility, instead of his record as governor. Under four years of Mitt (actually less as he was out of the state much of his last year preparing his run) he did only several things which meant anything to me: he fired hack politician Billy Bulger as the president of UMass and he helped formed the Finance Control Board that has helped stabilize my home town.

That's two good things I can say about him and the only good things. Essentially he was completely unprepared for accomplishing something in government. The State House is not the same as a corporation and Romney failed to learn how to work with people. Once he made sure everyone knoew this was a steppingstone, he lost any juice he had with the public and his fellow pols.

Here's what the Zogby folks are saying:

Less than a month before Americans officially begin choosing their next President, the Democratic and Republican races in the first caucus state of Iowa are essentially dead heats, new Zogby telephone polls show.

In the first primary state of New Hampshire, Democrat Hillary Clinton of New York retains an 11ˆpoint lead, down from what had been a 15 point lead in late September. However, Republican Mitt Romney's strength in the Granite State remains strong with double the support of his nearest rival among likely Republican primary voters.


Clinton leads the Democratic race here with 27%, followed closely by Barack Obama of Illinois at 24% and John Edwards of North Carolina with 21%. There has been very little movement in the Democratic race here since last month, as the frontˆrunners essentially stood still and two lower tier candidates, Senator Joe Biden of Delaware and Congressman Dennis Kucinich of Ohio gained two points each.

In fact, this race has remained remarkably stable for the past year. Zogby telephone polling in Iowa last January showed it to be a threeˆway race with 13% undecided ˆ now, 11% say they have yet to make up their minds.
Since last month, however, Clinton was able to solidify her standing among some likely caucusˆgoers by increasing the number of people who said she would be their second choice. This is a critical factor in the Democratic caucus in Iowa. In the caucuses, a first round of „balloting‰ is conducted, and those candidates who do not win at least 15% support are ruled „unviable‰ and supporters are directed to a second choice among those who remained „viable‰ before a second round of „balloting‰ is conducted.

Last month, Obama and Edwards were much more preferred as a second choice among those candidates who appear to be unviable under Democratic caucus rules. Clinton appears to be gaining ground among those who might consider experience to be an important factor in choosing a nominee ˆ she wins the lion‚s share of support among those who make Biden their first choice, and she does well among those who would first choose New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson.

Among those who make Obama their first choice, Edwards is their second choice, and vice versa. Among those who make Clinton their first choice, Obama is the favorite second choice.

Among independents who said they would caucus with the Democrats, Obama leads with 31%, followed by Edwards at 26% and Clinton at 19%.

Among Iowa women, Clinton leads with 33%, followed by Obama and Edwards, both at 23%. Among men, Obama leads with 26%, followed by Clinton at 20% and Edwards at 19%. Richardson wins 10% and Biden 9% among men.

On the Republican side, Mitt Romney of Massachusetts retains a narrow edge over Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, but it is essentially a dead heat, the Zogby survey shows. Romney has lost five points in the last month, while Huckabee has soared, gaining 10 points since Zogby‚s Nov. 7 poll.

Huckabee has taken the most support from Romney, but his gain also comes as Fred Thompson of Tennessee and John McCain of Arizona lost ground.

Among women, Huckabee leads Romney, 25% to 24%, but Romney leads Huckabee among men, 28% to 26%.

Among those who consider themselves Born Again Christians, Huckabee enjoys a large lead over Romney, 42% to 22%, but he made significant gains among those who are not Born Again, moving from 7% in the Nov. 7 poll to 17% in this latest survey. Romney still leads among nonˆBorn Agains with 30% support. Rudy Giuliani of New York is third among nonˆBorn Agains.

Among current gun owners, Huckabee and Romney are tied at 27% support with Fred Thompson a distant third at 11%. Among former gun owners, Huckabee leads Romney, 34% to 28%. Among those who have never owned a gun, Huckabee leads Romney, 26% to 23%, with Giuliani winning 18% support.

© 2007 by Gordon Michael Dobbs

Monday, December 03, 2007

I've received inquiries on how to get an autographed copy of my book "Escape! How Animation Broke into the Mainstream in the 1990s."

And the answer is...I'm not sure! I will be having a local signing in my hometown of Springfield at 2 p.m. Jan. 26 at the grand and majestic Central Library. I'll post more details as plans are firmed up.

I'm still trying to get a signing lined up in Boston and New York, and will be lobbying a couple of places in those communities this week.

I'm debating buying a bunch of book myself to autograph and sell then through the blog. We'll see.

In the meantime, word is getting out there about the book's existence. The great animation director Michael Sporn plugged it on his blog and Jerry Beck gave it a nod at Cartoon Brew. Thanks guys!

Even the book's cover artist, Mark Martin (not the race car driver) mentioned it on his blog!

© 2007 by Gordon Michael Dobbs
Like all reporters, I am professionally ignorant.

Every day I'm confronted by mysteries, conundrums and puzzling evidence of things I barely understand. It's my job to comprehend something of which I have no experience in order to write a story that will be understood by my readers.

There are many times I am stymied, though, by events and pronouncements I see or read.

For instance, I make no claim to superior intelligence, but I like to think that, as the late Redd Foxx would say, "I ain't no dummy." Why is it then when I stand at the counter of a Starbucks to get one of the frozen coffee drinks that I like so much I never know what to ask for? I have to launch into a description and an either bemused or bored looking barista then translates what I want to Starbuck-ese. Why is it I fail to understand the language of coffee drinks when obviously so many speak it?

I don't have trouble ordering food in Chinese restaurants where the cuisine and how it is described reflects a foreign culture.

On television I seem to watch all the channels on which some firm advertises for my "old gold." Apparently, there are quite a few Americans with gold items cluttering up their houses and this firm will buy them from you. All you have to do is call a telephone number and request your "old gold kit." You toss the stuff into a "security envelope" and wait for your check. What fascinates me is that among the "old gold" inventory the happy announcer lists is dental gold. Where does one get used dental gold? Is this from an inheritance or a quiet moment with a pair of pliers? That's a little grim, isn't it? Or do you trade in gold fillings and bridgework for newer substances?

We have toilets and urinals that flush themselves because we apparently are incapable of doing such an easy task and now we have paper towel and hand soap dispensers that are automatic as well. My problem is that if I'm in a restroom for the first time I have to stand there and try to figure out what I have to do or not do in order to complete the mundane chore of washing one's hands. Do I wave my hands before a sensor or crank something? When nothing happens have I waved too much or is it not working?

A seventh grade class recently visited me on a career day field trip to our offices. Now a newspaper office is a fairly passive place, but I expected some questions, some expressions of interest stupid, stupid me.

Instead almost every question I asked in order to get to know them a bit better What kind of music do you listen to? What movies do you like? What do you do in your spare time? Have you thought about a career? were met, for the most part, with blank stares or a genial "I don't know."

So how do these kids who profess to know so little manage to understand the intricacies of half a dozen video games that can take months to learn? How come they are capable of having a half-dozen conversations going on through instant messaging, but are ignorant of what is happening in their world? What the hell are they talking about?

I'm concerned my lack of understanding might be the tip of the on-coming old age iceberg. I've often wondered why men who were snappy dressers up until retirement suddenly accept clothing combinations of checks and stripes that are usually reserved for rodeo clowns. Why do these guys wear their pants up around their nipples? And why do some wear both a belt and suspenders?

Does an old- age chromosome kick in that negates any sense of good taste?

That leads into another question: Why do we Americans prefer quantity of food to quality? How many times have you heard people say, "Well it's not the best place, but you get a lot for the money."

Take it from a fat man, life is too short for bad buffets.

If anyone has any answers, drop me a line at

© 2007 by Gordon Michael Dobbs

Monday, November 26, 2007

© 2007 by Paramount Pictures and Shangri-La Entertainment, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Beowulf shouldn't cause any animator restless nights

It’s easy to be cynical about the reasons behind why a movie gets made, and the manner in which it is made, but the new animated feature “Beowulf” has struck me as a near textbook example of how form trumps substance.

The sloppily directed movie couldn’t stand on its own without its gimmicks, but it is those gimmicks that have given a sub-par film a whole lot of buzz in the pre-holiday release season.

Setting aside the pedigree of the script by two fine writers – Neil Gaimen and Roger Avery– for a moment, let’s imagine this acid test: would “Beowulf” have been made at all if it didn’t have its video game animation aided by motion capture, its prurient brushes with nudity, the use of a name brand cast and its multiple platform release?

If you’ve seen the movie and you’re a fan of it, then God bless. I contend that “Beowulf” would never be in the same league with the “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy if it had been made the same way – a live action cast operating in often times CGI world.

Before seeing the film, I had a discussion with a friend that “Beowulf” wasn’t an animated movie in the way a Harryhausen film, or a Pixar movie is an animated movie. While I’ll certainly call an animated film, I maintain the use of motion capture puts the animation at a different – lower – level.

This is not meant to be an insult to the many fine artists who labored on this film, however when one of the principal selling points of the film – here’s the marketing campaign showing itself – is the “life-like” animation of major stars, then one must acknowledge that “Beowulf” is 21st century rotoscoping.

When Max Fleischer invested rotoscoping nearly a century ago, he was seeking a solution for economical and speedy animation. Interestingly enough, as the number of skilled artists came into the industry Fleischer’s use of rotoscoping declined.

The studio’s last major use of the technique was in 1939’s “Gulliver’s Travels,” when the Gulliver character was rotoscoped in many scenes. This was an artistic decision to separate Gulliver from the Lilliputians.

Ralph Bakshi’s three rotoscoped features “The Lord of the Rings,” American Pop” and “Fire and Ice” are films he told me he admired, but he didn’t particularly like.

When used for an artistic effect such as in “A Scanner Darkly,” rotoscoping becomes merely another tool for an artist to use. That is not the case for “Beowulf.”

With this film, the motion capture is used to create a novelty of transferring well-known actors to the animated screen and allowing their filmed performances to become the basis for the animation – robbing the animators of the opportunity to do fully what animation is all about: creating the illusion of life.

The audience knows fully they are watching Anthony Hopkins and Angelina Jolie instead of animated characters. The film achieves an annoying sense of self-consciousness through this effect.

And the result of this animation style is a cross between video game fare and Madame Tussaud’s wax sculptures.

The greater irony is that despite a budget of $150 million, the main characters project far more acting through the vocal performances than the animation. A Bugs Bunny 2-D cartoon made in 1943 shows a greater range of acting that in “Beowulf.”

Jolie has been nude on film once before in “Gia,” but her animated nudity and that of Beowulf himself is another irritating part of the film.

The film’s PG-13 rating doesn’t seem to be tested by the film’s abundant violence. Nipples and genitalia, though, are another thing. That is why we have Jolie’s character without nipples and labia when she is seen and why Beowulf hides his penis artfully during his fight scene with Grendel.

Well, if we can’t see such things why suggest them? Because we want to create a buzz. It’s not about the art of the film. It’s so people talk about the scenes on the Web. They’ll wonder if Jolie’s actual breasts were used as the model and that sort of thing.

By having Beowulf naked, but then hiding his penis behind jugs of mead, the film derails the climatic fight and turns it into a smug joke. I doubt that’s what Gaimen and Avery had intended.

Robert Zemeckis’ haphazard direction further sinks this production. The vocal performances are all over the map with the characters all speaking with a different accent. Crispin Glover’s Grendel is incomprehensible at times.

There are many unanswered questions presented by the film. Why does the flame in the mead hall turn blue when Grendel is there? When Grendel is defeated is it because Beowulf has shattered his over-sized eardrum? Why does he shrink in size? Why do Jolie’s feet turn into high heels worthy of a strip club when she appears before Beowulf? This is Denmark in the sixth century, right?

Take away its gimmicks and you take away the power of this film to attract a word-of-mouth audience. In its two weeks of release “Beowulf” has earned $56.4 million. It has a long way to go to become profitable. In the parlance of the industry, I doubt this film has legs.

I can’t believe this film has the more traditional animation community worried about the death of the older forms of the art. This is a mediocre film whose gimmicks have been sold with the calculation of a William Castle but with none of his fun. If it does have a lasting impact it is only because its box office numbers has convinced the soulless suits that run the entertainment industry that gimmickry, not style or substance is the way to go.

© 2007 by Gordon Michael Dobbs

Friday, November 23, 2007

More reviews...I'm currently watching "Twin Peaks" for the first time before Steve B. gets the deluxe gold box edition for Xmas. I never saw it when it was broadcast originally, and I have to say that despite liking some of David Lynch's films, I find this show a disappointment so far. It moves at a snail's pace and the supposedly funny stuff strikes me as arch and snarky. Well, maybe it will improve...

There's lots of television in this week's DVD column.

The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones Volume One

OK, I love history, but there are plenty of people who don't, especially kids. This new 12-disc volume of the television series "The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones" just might make some people interested in history.

The premise of the show is simple: famed adventurer and archeologist Indiana Jones had an exciting life well before the stories told in the three success feature films. The television series, which ran from 1992-1994, caught up with Indy when he was 10 years old, a teenager and then a young man.

Along the way, his path is crossed with many real-life historical figures from Lawrence of Arabia to Sigmund Freud to Theodore Roosevelt. The shows have a very high production value and feature guest stars such as Max Von Sydow, Daniel Craig and Catherine Zeta-Jones, among others.

Well-written, the exciting shows sneak the history in and after each episode there are documentaries that bring greater detail to the stories of these real people.

These shows are really family entertainment: everyone can enjoy them. This set is a worthy investment for any family's DVD collection.

Benny Hill: Complete and Unadulterated Collection Mega Set

Once upon a time, most Americans knew two things about British television: the serious stuff on "Masterpiece Theater" and comedian Benny Hill. Undoubtedly the most successful British television import, Hill's brand of naughty comedy was well received by Americans and now fans can get a collection of 48 hours of Hill's shows in their original British cut.

The American half-hours were edited from the original hour-long shows Hill did for Thames Television. This new set from A&E Home Video presents all of those shows, plus two biographies of Hill and a bunch of other extras including a reunion of members of "Hill's Angels."

The documentaries reveal a thoughtful, intelligent man who always had a pencil and a scrap of paper on him to write down gags, Hill started his television career at the BBC and there are a few clips from these shows included in the documentaries.

Americans grew to love him for his later shows that presented a combination of silent sketches, bawdy jokes, young women in scanty costumes and British gags that went over well despite cultural differences.

Personally I find Hill to be a scream. His work has such an innocence about it that defuses its naughty qualities. As the Hill's Angels point out the male characters in the sketches were always the butt of the joke and never the women. None of them complained about what some people thought was the inherent sexism of the show.

These shows still hold up and if you're a big fan you'll want to get this mega set.

The Devil Came on Horseback

When former Marine Captain Brian Steidle signed up as a military observer for the African Union monitoring the cease-fire between the two sides in the Sudanese civil war, he had no idea he was going to make an impact with American foreign policy.

The photos and reports he collected on the slaughter of innocent black Africans by Arab tribesmen hired by the Sudanese government brought the genocide in Darfur to the American political stage.

Steidle's story is one of courage, outrage and persistence and this film is an oftentimes harrowing, unflinching look at the evil one human can do to another.

Seldom have I seen a documentary that can truly make one question the fundamental nature of the human species. This film does that.

See this film. That's all I can say.

For more information, log onto http://www.thedevilcame

© 2007 by Gordon Michael Dobbs

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A rollercoaster selection of films is in this week's DVD column.

It's a Wonderful Life

The wonderful 1946 Christmas classic by director Frank Capra is now out on DVD with two viewing options either you can watch a sparkling transfer of the black and white original or a newly colorized version.

Thanks to its temporary public domain status, "Life" was one of the most ubiquitous films on video, but few of those tapes featured a decent looking print. With the film now under copyright, a definitive version is now on DVD.

I'm not partial to colorized versions of black and white films, but I have to say the colorized "Life" at least has been done with taste and subtlety.

There are two extras on the disc a 1990 feature on the making of the film and a 1991 "remembrance" featuring Frank Capra Jr. Both add trivia and insight that can make the film a more enjoyable experience.

For more information, log onto



This 2004 Japanese science fiction film is dazzling to watch, but has a narrative that will leave many viewers scratching their heads.

At a time in the future, the countries of Earth will merge into two great powers that will engage in war for 50 years. At the conclusion there is a clear winner, which has now evolved into a corporate-controlled dictatorship. When a researcher discovers a medical advancement that allows him to grow new organs the government leaders fund his work, so they might live forever.

Their plans are altered when a lightning bolt from space strikes the research facility causing dead test subjects to come back to life with advanced strength and a determination to wipe out the lesser humans.

Only one person stands in their way the researcher's son who has been killed in the war and is brought back to life as well.

Shot on green-screen stages with a predominantly digitally created landscape and sets, "Casshern" is successful in creating a compelling vision of another world. The story, though, is another thing and the ending of the film is far from satisfying or even understandable.

For more information, log onto

The Best of the Colbert Report

Just in time for his aborted run for the White House comes a "best of" compilation of Stephen Colbert's witty and often very funny jab at the right wing talking head shows.

I admire Colbert for coming up with a persona that must irritate a large number of people who are in power today. His performance before President Bush last year at the White House Correspondents Dinner may go down as one of the most outrageous moments of political satire in the nation's history.

This two-hour collection has some very good bits in it, but my favorite is the appearance of Bill O' Reilly clearly the principal target of Colbert's satire. O'Reilly should be given credit for submitting to an interview with Colbert and actually seemed to get a little of the joke.

I like the show a great deal, but I wonder just how long Colbert can keep his act going. If the FOX "news" shows ever run aground, Colbert might find he needs a new direction for his comedy career.

For more information, log onto



In the realm of provocateurs, Michael Moore might be a superstar with his string of high profile books and movies, but Alex Jones is the underground favorite.

Jones is a Texas-based filmmaker who rose to relative fame with "Terrorstorm." Overall Jones has a simple explanation for event such as 9-11: there is an international conspiracy among the power elite to manipulate events to bring about a global corporate-based government.

According to Jones, we're living in The Matrix right now and he is the pill to wake us up.

His latest film is a 140-minute "documentary" on the one-worlders who Jones insists are using organizations such as Planned Parenthood and the World Wildlife Fund, among many others, to lower the population, relocate them to certain areas and control how they live.

Through the creation of war, the use of eugenics, and corporate business policies, Jones maintains a power elite is trying to take over our everyday lives.

If a quarter of what Jones reports is indeed true, then we are in deep, deep trouble. And with the manipulation of oil prices, the insane notion of starting a war with Iran and the subversion of the democratic process as seen in this year's overly long presidential primary battle, it's easy to see that Jones might be right on a few counts.

Jones wastes too much time in the film with man-on-the-street footage and some self-promotional scenes. He also makes substantiated claims that really should be backed up.

If you take the time to get this film and watch it, I'm sure you'll have plenty to think about and discuss. I know I did.

For more information, log onto
© 2007 by Gordon Michael Dobbs

Monday, November 19, 2007

Growing up I wasn't allowed to watch war movies. Until I was about 14 I was an Air Force brat. My dad retired a lt. colonel after serving in three wars. He was proud of his service to our country and he took some things very seriously. Among those he didn't want his two sons to watch movies or television shows that glorified war. He also believed that he shouldn't vote in national elections because he thought the military should remain apolitical. He also fully acknowledged that he and others in the armed forces could have no official opinion about the nature of their mission. Their job was to do it.

Now Dad was not some sort of right-wing robot. The military is very much like a corporation and he did his share of "office politics." He was both an idealist and a realist about different matters.

My dad seldom talked about his combat experiences in WWII or Korea or what it was like commanding a unit that repaired helicopters at Bien Hoa in Vietnam. He never joined a veteran's group. If he was going to speak about his career it was most likely to the men who were in his B-17, B-29 and B-52 crews, not to us.

I never felt slighted. I understood that I could never fully grasp what he had been through. If he wanted to talk with me, that's fine. If not, that was okay too.

Dad used to watch MASH every week, but stopped for a while when he saw the episode in which McLean's Stevenson's chracters is killed on his way home. He got up and growled, "That's not funny. That really happened." It had touched a nerve in him.

I thought about all this as I sat taking notes for the following story. How a war affects someone is in individual thing. Those of us who have not experienced war first-hand can only grasp a tiny bit of what it is like. Books such as the one described below can help.

For Iraqi veteran Andre M.M. Queiroga, it took a year to become adjusted to life as a civilian after two tours of duty. Andrew Simkewicz said he was very angry upon his return and drove his car as if he was racing through Iraqi streets. Jeffrey Lucey survived the war but lost his battle to post traumatic stress disorder and took his own life.

The stories of these three local men are among the 30 interviews conducted by author Elise Forbes Tripp in her new book "Surviving Iraq: Soldiers' Stories." The book was featured at an "Authors @ HCC" presentation on Thursday at Holyoke Community College.

Tripp is an adjunct instructor at HCC and Queiroga is a current student. Lucey was a student at the college.

Tripp said her goal in writing the book was to present " a people's history of the war." Ninety percent of the material is from the veterans themselves.

"The book was not designed to reconcile the differences on the war or to make partisan statements," she added.

From the interviews, she said there were re-occurring themes. Although many of the veterans cited patriotism in the light of the Sept. 11 attacks as a reason for entering the military, others also said they were pursued by recruiters. Others thought they would never go to war.

Many of the vets spoke of how they feel different than civilians, she said, and finds expressing their feelings difficult to people who had not experienced the war.

Two of the veterans she interviewed have left the military but have returned to Iraq in the employ of civilian contractors doing essentially the same job but at much greater pay.

One of Tripp's conclusions is that "civilians must do everything they can to make sure vets get the benefits they deserve," she said.

Simkewicz, Queiroga and Joyce and Kevin Lucey, the parents of Jeffrey Lucey, all read passages from their interviews in the books.

A Springfield College graduate, Simkewicz noted the results of his two tours to Iraq, but said he loved the military and that his war experiences meant, "testing yourself and seeing what you are made of."

He said he was still "hyper vigilant" and noticed that he always sat with his back to a wall. Sitting at a table in the middle of a room was a test for him.

He received eight tickets so far for his driving and over-passes still represent a threat for him.

A counselor at the Vet Center in Springfield, he has received counseling himself and he said conducting group counseling has been as beneficial to him as it had to the other vets.

Quinoa's passage recalled his coming out of Iraq and being deployed back home. He recalled the American fast food restaurants in Kuwait and how the air was better in the United States.

Bringing his Marine unit to Kuwait was a "calm down point where we could rest and be normal." He noted though all of their weapons were collected and said "[they] took away what we treasured the most our rifle."

Queiroga said there would be a "bond forever" between the men who served together.

Joyce and Kevin Lucey said their son returned from Iraq with "hidden wounds." The Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) that took his life was caused by his experiences as a member of the force that made the initial invasion of the country.

"What he saw was totally different than what he was taught," said Joyce.

Jeffrey self-medicated himself with alcohol, totaled his car, had problems with his long-time girlfriend and his parents didn't know how to help him. Joyce said a counselor at the Veteran's Administration said the choices for her husband and her were either to have their son arrested or kick him out of the house and let him "hit rock bottom."

Jeffrey only wanted to speak to other vets and the Luceys were unaware of the Vet Center in Springfield. The state's Emergency Mental Health Service refused to help because Jeffrey was drinking.

Despite his parent's efforts to seek help for their son, he hung himself.

When asked by an audience member, what they can do to help vets like Jeffrey, Kevin Lucey said people must contact their members of Congress to call for greater funding for PTSD.

During the question period both Queiroga and Simkewicz said that counseling and prescribed medication have helped them their own PSTD problem.

When asked if they could explain why the nation was fighting a war in Iraq, Simkewicz smiled and said, "That's a loaded question."

As a soldier, he explained he didn't look into the political side of the war. He was there to perform his duty. He added that a close friend died in combat three months ago, so he hopes he and others have not died in vain.

Queiroga said that Iraqis he met did welcome the freedom from Saddam Hussein brought by coalition forces, but the struggle between outside terrorists and Iraqi factions complicate relationships. He said that many of the people driving car bombs into American facilities or convoys were people whose families where being held hostage by either other Iraqis or foreign terrorists.

When asked about instituting a draft, Simkewicz voiced his support. Having received his orders for a third deployment to the war, he believes that others should share the burden. Queiroga said he thinks a draft would never be re-instated because politicians would want to protect their own family members.

People would like more information about services for veterans can contact the Vet Center at 737-5167.
© 2007 by Gordon Michael Dobbs

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I liked speaking with Charlie Murphy, despite a bad cell phone connection, because he clearly isn't trading off of his famous younger brother. And yet he doesn't have that "I've gotta prove something" atttitude.

There's plenty of acting siblings in show business today, including the Wayans, the Baldwins, the Cusacks, and the Gyllenhaals, and now the Murphys.

Only the prominence Charlie Murphy has seen in show business thanks to his appearances on "Chappelle's Show" hasn't been due to his famous brother Eddie, but to his own hard work.

And it hasn't come overnight, but after years of working in the industry.

Murphy has had small parts in big movies such the recent hit "Night at the Museum," larger roles in low budget films, written scripts, performed voice-overs for animation and taken a stand-up act around the country. He will be appearing at the Hu Ke Lau in Chicopee Nov. 24.

He told Reminder Publications last week that his career has been the result of "happy accidents."

"I've worked for it for 17 years," he said.

Charlie is the older brother of the two and started working in the industry. His resemblance to his brother has actually been a hindrance as some casting directors used it as an excuse not to hire him. They didn't want people to think they hired an Eddie Murphy ringer, he explained.

"I had to force my way in," he added.

He was asked to try stand-up and despite his brother's reputation Charlie called Eddie "one of the last true kings of the game" he "summoned the cajones to show up."

He remembered the first time on stage was not as scary as every time since.

"The first time I had nothing to lose," he said. "Now every time you got out, you've got to deliver."

He loves the medium, though. Stand-up, he said, is "the most free" a performer can be.

"It's your thoughts, your creation," he said. "It means more because it's all you."

Although a large part of his act is improvisation, Murphy is constantly thinking of gags and routines.

"Twenty four hours a day even when I sleep that light is on," he said.

Murphy said that being a stand-up comedian is like being a boxer and one has to train all year-round, not just before a big fight.

Murphy has been busy with a number of film projects but he is especially excited about "The Perfect Holiday," scheduled for theatrical release Dec. 12. Gabrielle Union and Queen Latifah star in the holiday release about a young woman finding true love.

Murphy has a role which "allowed me to breathe in the movie."

"A whole lot of range was shown," he said. "I'm not bragging."

© 2007 by Gordon Michael Dobbs

Monday, November 12, 2007

Another I lead two lives entry...

Well, my book is in my hand and I thrilled. It looks great and now the hard work begins...getting the word out that it exists.

As I learned with my two magazines, it doesn't matter how good a job you do with a they look, what is their content....what really matters is that you are able to get your thing before the intended audience. Distribution and marketing makes or breaks projects. When I worked for Kevin Eastman doing marketing work for his Tundra publishing outfit, it became clear to me the comics industry, for instance, had no idea whether it was marketing books to readers or to retailers.

Without that focus, some of the outstanding projects on which I worked never received the attention they richly deserved. Of course the stuff I liked generally didn't have T & A or angst-filled violence which somehow ALWAYS found an audience.

So I'm taking next week off and I will spend a great deal of it working on my marketing plan. I've mentioned parts of it in this blog, but I will be sending out a press release via e-mail and trying to line up signings.

Thanks to the folks who have made suggestions so far! If anyone has more, please let me know.

Okay on to the other side of my life...

Last week I received a press release from Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, who chairs the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. He conducted a hearing to address employment challenges that service members face when returning from a tour of duty. The hearing was designed to focus on the enforcement of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) which requires employers to continue to employ members of the Guard and Reserve upon their return from duty.

According to the release there has been data withheld from the public that was released for the hearing and it casts doubt on how much the Bush Administration actually supports the troops.

“The data demonstrates serious inadequacies in the performance of the four federal agencies responsible for protecting returning veterans’ reemployment rights,” the release read.

Here are some of the details:

• Service members are returning home only to realize that their deployment has put their healthcare, their benefits and even their jobs at risk. For example, among post-9/11 returning Reservists and National Guardsmen, nearly 11,000 were denied prompt reemployment. More than 22,000 lost seniority and thus pay and other benefits. Nearly 20,000 saw their pensions cut. More than 15,000 didn’t receive the training they needed to return to their former jobs. Nearly 11,000 didn’t get their health insurance back.

• In 2006, 77 percent of Reservists and National Guardsmen with reemployment problems reported not seeking assistance of any kind. (This indicates agencies’ failure to educate/reach out to returning servicemen to inform them of their rights.)

• Almost half of Reservists (44 percent) and National Guardsmen who filed a USERRA complaint with the Department of Labor reported being dissatisfied with DOL’s handling of their case – up from 27 percent dissatisfaction in 2004 – and more than a third reported that DOL’s response was not prompt.

• Twenty-three percent of Reservists and National Guardsmen surveyed in 2006 who could not find a job post-deployment said that they were unemployed because their previous employer did not promptly rehire them as required by law.

• Almost a third of Reservists (28 percent) surveyed in 2006 reported not receiving information on USERRA/reemployment rights during their activation or deactivation.

• The percentage of Reservists and National Guardsmen who experienced difficulty getting reemployment assistance from government agencies rose from 2004 (27 percent) to 2006 (29 percent).

The release reported that Kennedy was planning to introduce legislation to seek some solutions for the service members.

What kind of commander-in-chief allows his military personnel to serve their nation and then turns a blind eye to a widespread abuse of their trust?

© 2007 by Gordon Michael Dobbs

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Well, it’s been one hell of a week in my life as an editor and reporter: late nights and early mornings. Springfield’s municipal elections served up a surprise to many: an upset by City Councilor Domenic Sarno for the mayor’ position in New England fourth largest community.

Sarno is a very likable guy who ran a populist and negative campaign…not negative about incumbent Mayor Charles Ryan’s record so much, but negative about the city’s crime rate. His mantra of “Do you feel safer today than two years ago?” obviously resonated with the voters and he was helped by our police commissioner of 19 months making the effort to jump ship for the top cop job in Milwaukee.

So the progress the city has made under Ryan may continue, but it may not as many of the people who supported Sarno are folks who have had their influence in city government clipped by the reform-minded Ryan. That’s not to say the Sarno is part of the old power elite, but I hope he resists the inevitable pressure to put some of these people back into positions of power.

Ryan and his policies and appointments literally saved this city from fiscal collapse. His administration has done much in righting the ship and doing all of the infrastructure things the previous administration chose to ignore.

He ought to have a statue in his honor. Without him this city would have gone into receivership and been completely at the mercy of some Boston-appointed politician.

It will be an interesting year coming up that is for sure.

In my other life: I had a nice chat with my editor and “Escape! How Animation Broke into the Mainstream in the 1990s” is now on right here.

It's also here at
and here in Italy.

I’m now looking for a spot in Boston and NYC for a signing. Any ideas about locations to approach? Is the Million Year Picnic in Boston still a great shop? I haven’t been there for years. How about NYC? I’d love to do something that could tie into ASIFA East.

My box of books is supposed to arrive this week. When I have one in my hand it will truly become real.
© 2007 by Gordon Michael Dobbs

Monday, November 05, 2007 book,"Esacape! How Animation Broke into the Mainstream in the 1990s" is technically "out," but I don't have any copies as yet and it hasn't made its way onto amazon or barnes and noble, it is here though: in the United Kingdom

And it's, the folks that put out those cheap Alpha videos and much more.

So I'm willing to travel a bit to do signings, discussions, etc. I'm such a media whore I'll damn near do anything to get the word out on this thing!

If anyone has an idea to promote the book (I'm working on pitches to selected media, etc.) let me know.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

I get a lot of stuff at my job. This week I was sent an Ugly Doll...a pricey trendy item and the following e-mail. Although I'm killing myself – it feels that way some weeks – it's never boring!

"Dear Editor,

The amusing and humorous antics of the creative and lovable Henry Heron have been bringing smiles to the faces of adults and children for over ten years. The carefree Henry is ingeniously clever and witty as he flies the skies observing people with the awe and wonderment of a child attempting to understand our human behavior.

Jim Gerlock’s love and admiration of the majestic blue heron brings a comical and witty sense of humor to us as Henry observes our human foibles and the challenges of just ordinary living.

Henry is often accompanied in his escapades by his closest friends:

Heneretta, his flamboyant girlfriend distinguished by her sexy eyelashes, lavish spotted bows and high heels bring flair and fun into their relationship;
Pelican Pete, the fishing buddy he can discuss everything with from fishing to World politics; and
Gator, the newly-adopted son he saved after a Florida Tropical Storm.

GERLOCK is the RIGHT CARTOONIST for the job ! ! !

Jim Gerlock’s Henry Heron has been so well-received by readers, he has become a proven, well-published cartoonist because of the high-level of quality cartoons he creates. Henry Heron is now featured weekly in several newspapers including the Long Island New York publications of The South Hampton Press, North Fork Magazine; and Florida newspapers, The Observer, Charlotte Sun Herald, North Port News and Englewood News. Gerlock is also published in the Waterline Magazine distributed from Port Charlotte to Tampa. Dr. Jim Gerlock's first oil painting, “Elephants of the African Plane” hangs in the lobby at the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.

If you agree Henry Heron would be a welcome addition to your publication, please contact me and we can negotiate a price based upon your circulation. (Letters of Recommendation available upon request)

Best regards,

Vicky Fay, Publicist
Promoting the Success of Our Clients’ Business"

God Bless 'em!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween! Here's the info on the horror film festival that will be playing locally at Entertainment Cinemas in Springfield...and yes the Other MM let's go!

October 25, 2007 (Los Angeles, CA) – Crazy Eights and Lake Dead are the final two films to be acquired by After Dark Films for After Dark Horrorfest ® 2007 it was announced today by After Dark Films’ CEO Courtney Solomon. Crazy Eights and Lake Dead join Borderland, The Deaths of Ian Stone, Mulberry Street, Nightmare Man, Tooth and Nail and Unearthed in the 2007 line-up of “8 Films To Die For ®” which plays November 9 – 18, 2007 on over 300 screens across the country.

Starring Traci Lords, Frank Whaley, Dina Meyer, Gabrielle Anwar, George Newbern and Dan DeLuca, Crazy Eights follows six childhood friends as they face their past and the secret they share. Crazy Eights was co-written and directed by James Koya Jones, co-written by Dan DeLuca and was produced by Jones, DeLuca and John Kaila.

Directed by George Bessudo and written by Daniel P. Coughlin, Lake Dead follows three sisters and a group of their friends as they take a trip to the home of the recently deceased grandfather to learn more about the promise of an inheritance, only to encounter a family of psychos who have taken up residence in the old man's cabin. Lake Dead stars Edwin Craig, Pat McNeely and James C. Burns and was produced by Todd Chamberlain, Hector Echavarria, Jason Hice and Mike Karkeh.

“We are very excited to be announcing our final slate for After Dark Horrorfest ® 2007,” said After Dark’s CEO Courtney Solomon. “Both Crazy Eights and Lake Dead are thrilling horror films made by gifted filmmakers. We are incredibly proud of all 8 films and look forward to sharing them with our audiences nationwide.”

Frontiers, which premiered at the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival to rave reviews will receive it's own separate theatrical release. The film, which in its original state did not meet the requirements for an R rating from the MPAA will bow at a later date to be announced by After Dark Films. Solomon stated that, "rather than sacrifice the artistic integrity of this beautiful film, we've chosen to allow audiences to view the film in its unedited form as a separate theatrical release. We'll be announcing details of this release on shortly."

Along with its partners AMC, Regal and Cinemark, After Dark Horrorfest ®2007 runs over the course of one week, including two weekends, on over 300 screens across the United States from November 9 – 18th, making it the largest commercial film festival in the world. This unique festival is the first of its kind, premiering “8 Films to Die For ®,” celebrating the horror genre by showcasing films that run the spectrum of horror from thrillers to gore to the supernatural. After achieving groundbreaking success in its inaugural year, now After Dark Films is back with an even bigger and better Horrorfest.

In 2006, After Dark Horrorfest ® became the first film festival in history to break into the top 10 at the national box office, grossing over 2.5 million dollars, on only a quarter of the screens of any other film in the top ten that weekend. The “8 Films to Die For ®” package, released on DVD by partner Lionsgate Films, has reached great success with over 1.8 million DVDs in circulation.

In conjunction with YouTube, After Dark Films has renewed its search for the next great queen of scream – Miss Horrorfest 2007, the official spokesperson of Horrorfest. Last year the Miss Horrorfest contest proved to be the most successful contest in YouTube history. This month, contestants have submitted 90-second videos on YouTube and participated in live auditions across the country in the hopes of winning $50,000 and the coveted title of Miss Horrorfest 2007. Log on to and watch the top contestants complete today.

For more information on After Dark Horrorfest ® 2007, including how to purchase tickets and all access passes to this hair-raising national event, please visit the official website at

2007 After Dark Horrorfest ® Lineup

BORDERLAND (based on true events)
WRITTEN BY: Zev Berman
CAST: Brian Presley, Rider Strong, Jake Muxworthy, Beto Cuevas, Sean Astin

SYNOPSIS: In BORDERLAND, three Texas University seniors, on the eve of their graduation, road-trip to a Mexican Border town for a final weekend of drinking and debauchery. Their vacation becomes a living nightmare as the trio runs afoul of an ancient blood cult looking for human sacrifice. Based on true events, Borderland blends the raw fear of Texas Chainsaw Massacre with the gritty true crime realism of In Cold Blood, evoking a world of paranoia, death and terror.

DIRECTED BY: James Koya Jones
WRITTEN BY: James Koya Jones, Dan DeLuca
CAST: Traci Lords, Frank Whaley, Dina Meyer, Gabrielle Anwar, George Newbern, Dan DeLuca

SYNOPSIS: Six people are brought together at the funeral of a childhood friend. While settling the estate, they discover a map, which leads them on a search for a long forgotten time capsule, at the request of their dead friend. What they discover reawakens repressed childhood traumas and leads them on a journey through their long abandoned childhood home: a home with a terrible secret and a mysterious dead girl who will lead them to their strange fates.

DIRECTED BY: Dario Piana
WRITTEN BY: Brendan Hood
CAST: Mike Vogel, Jamie Murray, and Christina Cole

SYNOPSIS: On an otherwise ordinary night, the young Ian Stone encounters a mysterious creature and is forced him into the path of an oncoming train. Rather than facing certain death, Ian finds himself reborn into a new life that feels strangely familiar. After his second death, it becomes apparent that Ian is being hunted by an evil presence, and will be forced to die every day until he can solve the mystery of his own life.

DIRECTED BY: George Bessudo
WRITTEN BY: Daniel P. Coughlin
CAST: Edwin Craig, Pat McNeely, James C. Burns, Kelsey Crane, Jim Devoti

SYNOPSIS: Three beautiful sisters learn of a long lost grandfather, but only make this discovery upon the news of his grisly death. Enticed to visit grandpa’s old home after hearing of an inheritance, the sister’s head to the back country with some friends. We quickly follow the group of friends through the gates of a redneck infested hell. The psychotic family occupying the inherited property goes on a long awaited, and much enjoyed killing spree. As the family’s twisted motives unravel, the sisters discover a terror worse than death.

WRITTEN BY: Jim Mickle, Nick Damici
CAST: Laurel Astri, Kim Blair, Ron Brice, Bo Corre, Nick Damici

SYNOPSIS: The city that never sleeps may shut its eyes for good when a deadly infection turns its residents to savage creatures. There is only hope for a small few, including six recently evicted tenants who must protect their crumbling apartment complex as the city around them is thrown into chaos.

CAST: Tiffany Shepis, Blythe Metz, Luciano Szafir, James Ferris, Hanna Putnam, Jack Sway, and Richard Moll.

SYNOPSIS: When a woman orders an ancient fertility mask to help her conceive, her quest for motherhood turns into a quest for survival as it becomes clear the mask is possessed by a demonic spirit. Will anyone survive the NIGHTMARE MAN?

CAST: Rachel Miner, Rider Strong, Nicole Dupont, Michael Kelly, Alexandra Barreto, Emily Young, Zack Robidas, Kevin E. Scott, with Robert Carradine, and Vinnie Jones and Michael Masden

SYNOPSIS: A small group of survivors in a post-apocalyptic world take refuge in an empty hospital with plans on re-building society. They rescue a young girl who is the victim of a brutal attack, but soon discover that they were followed by a savage band of cannibals known as Rovers. The Rovers begin to kill them one by one, and the trapped survivors must find a way to outwit their stalkers.

CAST: Emmanuelle Vaugier, Luke Goss, Beau Garrett, Charles Q. Murphy, Tonantzin Carmelo,
Whitney Able, Tommy Dewey, M.C. Gainey, Russell Means, and Miranda Bailey

SYNOPSIS: After a sinister crash occurs off the highway of a small desert town, things take a horrific turn for its residents. As people vanish and nature dies, the local sheriff investigates, only to discover that the fate of her town rests just below the earth.
© 2007 by Gordon Michael Dobbs

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Rose McGowan rules as the unlikely heroine in "Planet Terror."

It's getting closer to Halloween and a set of creaky but fun scary movies is in this week's DVD column.


Unlike members of my staff who grew up watching the original animated adventures of benevolent robots from another world who could change into looking like a truck, I held no sentiment for "The Transformers," and the characters' live-action feature film debut didn't really appeal to me much.

Intrigued, though, about the use of computer animation, I spent two and a half hours of my life to watch this mega-budget film directed by mega-budget hack Michael Bay. I was surprised to see just how much I enjoyed the film, despite my initial reservations.

The story of a race of evil robots coming to earth to try to find the artifact that would restore their race was told on several different levels with a fair amount of skill by Bay. He set up several on-going human storylines and effectively set up the good robot versus bad robot back-story.

The look of the film was impressive with the animation flawlessly executed.

Where I had some problems is with the shifting of the tone of the film from straightforward adventure to silly with the introduction of John Turturro's "X-File-ish" character. It was way over the top.

There were also problems with the length of the film of 144 minutes. There was at least 20 minutes to a half-hour of non-essential scenes that simply slowed down the film. A movie such as this one needs to keep going forward.

All in all, though, this film was a big surprise. The two-disc DVD set has a second disc full of extras on how the film was made. If you're a fan, you'd probably want to get that one.

Universal Horror: Classic Movie Archive

Well, let's be truthful. None of these five films are "classics," and several of them aren't even horror films.

That didn't stop me from enjoying all of them, though, as I'm a sucker for the kind of horror movies Universal made in the 1930s and '40s.

It was a far more innocent time when a menacing hand coming from behind a curtain, a gorilla with an agenda and a mad scientist with a plan to create a race of electrically driven supermen were elements that could make up a fun time at the movies.

This new set features "The Black Cat," "Man Made Monster," "Horror Island," "Night Monster" and "Captive Wild Woman." The stars include Bela Lugosi, Basil Rathbone, Lon Chaney, Jr. and Lionel Atwill, among others.

"The Black Cat" and "Horror Island" are both thrillers. "Cat" features a venal family waiting for the matriarch to die, while "Island" has a shifty entrepreneur finding out his once-worthless island is worth enough to kill over.

"Man Made Monster" has nutty Lionel Atwill turning everyday guy Lon Chaney, Jr. into a human battery. A traditional mad scientist film, this is actually an over-looked little gem in the Universal pantheon of horror films.

"Night Monster" is a curious little film that starts off as a mystery, but winds up as a horror film. While not totally successful, it's very engaging.

Lovely actress Acquanetta is the main attraction in "Captive Wild Woman," in which doctor John Carradine transplants human glands into a gorilla and the result is a stunning young woman! This film is a bit difficult to watch as it is set largely in a circus with tons of footage dedicated to a lion and tiger act. Watching people snap whips and shoot at animals that should be in a jungle somewhere is not my idea of fun.

For people who like their horror films involving lots of on-screen torture and brutality, these films will seem tamer than tame. However, some horror fans can still appreciate a sip of the old stuff, even though it may not be the best vintage.

Planet Terror: Extended and Unrated

Okay, so can a guy who sits through a hokey film like "Horror Island" actually liked the zombie-laden, blood-dripping action of Robert Rodriguez's half of "Grindhouse?"

Sure enough. What can I say; I'm a film fan of many tastes.

This two-disc DVD celebrates the best part of the collaboration between Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino, an over-the-top homage to the wacky science fiction/horror films that used to be seen at drive-ins and urban theaters 30 years ago.

What has always attracted me to these films is their underground nature. While critics and historians looked at the standard Hollywood movies and foreign imports, there was a whole group of films and filmmakers flying under the radar.

They made outrageous films some just silly and some audacious. Out of that experience came directors such as Martin Scorsese, Joe Dante, Allan Arkush and Paul Bartel, among others.

What Rodriguez has effectively captured is that gonzo spirit of those films and amped it up to his style of filmmaking.

If exploding zombies and a heroine who has an automatic weapon as a prosthesis aren't your cup of tea, that's fine. But if your taste in film is a little broader and you can appreciate the tongue-in-cheek approach to this end-of-the-world scenario, then "Planet Terror" is someplace at which you'll want to spend some time.

The extras are great as they truly go behind the scenes to show how an independent filmmaker such as Rodriguez makes his films.

This one is highly recommended with some reservations.

© 2007 by Gordon Michael Dobbs

Monday, October 29, 2007

Hey, my post for Monday is out of chronological order...scroll down, please!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

I couldn’t help myself this week. I actually made fun of the fact that I’m NOT a Red Sox fan despite living in Massachusetts. In fact, I don’t care for baseball period.

It didn’t go over too well at work.

We all want to be members of a tribe and we are all members of multiple tribes. I just don’t care about the Red Sox tribe.

Naturally many people don’t understand this.

A lot of folks at work wear their Red Sox shirts every time they play a World Series Game. And they analyze each game, each play. Their love of the game transcends just an appreciation of a sport. I understand a little of what it’s like being a different religion in a nation dominated by a single faith.

And if you admit your non-Red Sox status, people look at you as if you’re a freak. I willingly admit my freak status about my own stuff, but they view themselves as “normal.” I wouldn’t mind the Sox Nation attitude if folks just admitted how geeky it really is.

Ninety-nine percent of the people who come into my office never make a comment of the memorabilia on the shelves that symbolizes my tribes: the tribe of animation fan and historian; the tribe of Max Fleischer; the tribe of Tom Tyler; the tribe of Rudy Ray Moore (he signed the still “to Mike a bad m.f.” sigh!); the horror film tribe; the local history tribe, etc.

It’s one of the first things I do when meeting someone at their home or place of business. One way to get a conversation started is to see if there are common denominators.

Well, it’s Halloween, the one time of the year when being a horror fan is looked upon with some favor and I want to attend the “After Dark Eight Films to Die For” fest which is coming here to Springfield’s Entertainment Cinemas. I’m sure some of the eight films will suck, but I’m in the mood to fly my freak flag as the kids call it these days!

© 2007 by Gordon Michael Dobbs

Friday, October 26, 2007

Marky Mark is concerned about my well-being because I've not blogged in such a long period. Well, I'm alive and bushed due to a heavy work schedule and will extrude some serious posts this weekend.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Those Crazy Babysitting Twins from "Planet Terror" at Rock and Shock in person...

and in character for their roles in the new movie "The Black Waters of Echos Pond...very nice kids to talk to!

I recently went to the fourth annual Rock and Shock show in nearby Worcester. It reminds me of Chiller Con years ago when it was a managable size with personality – unlike its current incarnation of the Big E of horror. I bought a couple of items, hung out with buddies and had an interesting reunion of sorts with a former friend.

I also bought a low-budget independent horror film titled "Icabod" by Andy Sawyer and was given by another filmmaker, Andrew Shanley, his film "Hangman."

I mention both guys in the piece, but didn't review the films in the papers. Both are shorts and Sawyer, adapting the famous story of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving, actually succeeds in many ways to produce an effective period piece. For the most part the costumes, exteriors and hair styles look authentic. That's an accomplishment on a mega-low budget.

The trouble with the film is the climax. With a story that is so well known and even been the basis of a feature length film, one has to come up with something dramatically different. I think Sawyer was prevented by his budget to accomplish a visiual or dramatic difference.

"Hangman" is about a serial killer who hangs four young women. That's it. No character development. No resolution. I think Shanely was very proud of devising a hanging stunt rig, but under direct lights and prolonged takes it's clear to see how the stunt is accompished.

God bless both of these guys for trying.

WORCESTOR – For thousands of Bay State horror fans, the Halloween season doesn’t start until the annual “Rock & Shock” show staggers into the DCU center.

What appears to be at first glance a way for fans to get autographs from horror film celebrities and buy everything from DVDs, movie posters, t-shirts and even teddy bears with a horror theme is actually much more.

Scratch the surface though and there’s another theme: while today’s media technologies allow people to produce books, magazines and movies much easier than ever before, getting those products to their potential audiences is more difficult than before with a handful of corporations controlling the pipelines to consumers.

Shows such as “Rock & Shock allow creative people a direct market for their creations.

Andrew Shanley and Andy Sawyer are the men behind New Blood Productions (, a central Massachusetts operation making independent horror films. They sell their films on DVD at horror shows such as “Rock & Shock” and on eBay when they’re not at their day jobs in cable television and teaching, respectively.

Since 1993, the pair has used a group of actors and fellow filmmakers who’ve been willing to work for next to nothing just to practice their craft. They concentrate on making the films, rather than distribution.

Not so director Alex Pucci, ( who was at the show selling DVDs of his films and publicizing a new film “Frat House Massacre,” a slasher film that is reminiscent of those that were popular in the 1970s. Pucci said the hardest work in making a movie is getting it distributed. He proudly said his film “Camp Slaughter” was recently purchased by Universal Home Video and will be getting mainstream distribution. He’s hoping for a theatrical release for “Frat House Massacre,” a $200,000 feature shot on film rather than digital video.

One of Pucci’s stars in his new film, Nikki Notarile, said with a smile she couldn’t reveal if she was a survivor or a victim in the film and was quick to hand this reporter a postcard publicizing her husband’s movie “Methodic.” She said the Weinstein brothers – the founders of Miramax – were considering distributing the film.

Cadaver Girls is a reaction to corporate distribution problem. Lady D-Kay, the self-described “caretaker” of the company explained it’s a collective of independent horror artists a means to display their work and get it to fans. She said the sales of the group’s t-shirts, magazines and calendars are through appearances at shows such as this one and through their Web site (

So far, she said the response has been very receptive and the experience has been “very enriching.”

Frank Monahan stuck out at the show like a sore thumb, as he wasn’t wearing black, had no apparent tattoos or piercings and there wasn’t a single skull at his table. The Virginia-based publisher was at the show at the request of one of its sponsors, WAAF FM, with his book, “For the Boys; Pin-Ups for the Troops.” Monahan bought the rights to classic 1940s and ‘50s pin-up painting by Gil Elvgren, which originally appeared in calendars. He then had contemporary models and photographers collaborate on their own version of the classic cheesecake.

For every book, he sells he sends one to troops stationed overseas. So far since the book came out earlier this year he has shipped out 2,000 copies. The book is designed to fit into a back pocket and is printed on waterproof paper.

Part of the sales also goes to Fisher House, a Maryland-based charity that helps the families of injured military personnel.
Monahan said the response has been amazing since the book appeared four months ago. It can be obtained online at

There were many authors at the show, including Jenny Hula Curry, a Monson resident who is working on her Masters degree in Literature at Western New England College. Her horror novel, “Brothers Huxten” was self-published through Infinity Publishing Co. and is available through and

A native of upstate New York, Curry started her story in Chicopee and ended it in Jordanville, N.Y. She described it as “graphic” and “fast-paced.”

“It leaves a lot to the reader’s imagination, “she added. “The brothers have a dark secret that destroys all.”

Curry has loved horror since she was 11 years old and has several other book ideas stored on her laptop.

The direct marketing approach extends to the celebrity guests who come to meet fans and sell their autographs and other merchandise. This year’s show featured a number of cast members from “The Hills Have Eyes,” and “Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2” as well as horror vets such as Tony Todd (“Candyman”) and Kane Hodder (the “Friday the 13th” series).

One of the longer lines was for two of the cast members of “Grindhouse,” Electra and Elise Avellan, known in the film as “the crazy babysitting twins.”

Smiling and eager to chat with fans, the pair said they have been doing horror shows for about a year now “non-stop.”
“The fans have been amazing,” according to Electra.

Although they both appear in the new horror film, “The Black Waters of Echo's Pond,” audiences should expect to see a fright film version of the Olsen twins. Electra wants to purse acting, while Elise is a dancer.

And both revealed they aren’t “into horror so much,” but noted with a laugh there are no conventions for conventional dramas.

“Planet Terror,” the half of “Grindhouse” in which they appeared is out in stores this week in an extended version. They said their uncle told them they would be in more scenes with the new version.

Their uncle is the film’s creator Robert Rodriquez. Before one could think of nepotism, Electra said their uncle wouldn’t have put them in the film if he hadn’t thought they could handle the role.

“He’s very cautious,” Electra said. She added though “he could make anyone look good.”

© 2007 by Gordon Michael Dobbs

Friday, October 12, 2007

The intersection of Federal and Worthington Streets used to be among the toughest neighborhoods in the city of Springfield. Just a block from Springfield Technical Community College, the group of apartment buildings at the corner and those along tiny Summit Street were classic examples of urban blight.

The fact that a developer would come in, buy most of the buildings and spend millions of dollars up-grading them should be a sign about the nature of Springfield there are plenty of signs of a turnaround.

Yes, there are very serious problems. No one is proud of the fact the city is ranked sixth in the nation for child poverty, for example.

This story, though, is one of hope, as are the new homes that are being built in the Old Hill and Maple-High Six Corners Neighborhood.

I'm not spreading the Chamber of Commerce line here. The simple truth is in the last few years, there has been much progress in implementing solutions for some of the city's problems.

I was happy to see a news crew from ABC40 covering the story of the Worthington Street apartments. I know that I'll get in trouble with some people, but basically it seems most of our local television news centers on the negative.

I sometimes wonder if crime diminishes locally, what would they cover?

I expect a beating from my electronic colleagues at any time now.


Here's something to ponder: the Associated Press distributed a story in which it revealed that 40 percent of today's Americans have never lived when there wasn't a Bush or Clinton in the White House.

Yikes! It's time to vote for someone else, unless you believe in dynasties. How would Hillary look in one of those funky headpieces pharaohs used to wear?

I received this press release recently: "Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Ian Bowles today announced a pilot project to introduce Plug-in Hybrid technology in the state vehicle fleet. Achieving up to 100 miles per gallon, plug-in hybrid cars advance the Patrick Administration's clean energy goals of saving energy costs, reducing emissions, and decreasing our dependence on foreign oil. The announcement was made at the AltWheels festival on Boston City Hall Plaza.

'"Massachusetts-developed clean energy research and development can lead us to breakthrough vehicle technology and respond to consumer demand with cars that get 100 miles per gallon,"' said Secretary Bowles.

"Secretary Bowles will be trading in his current state car a 2003 Ford Taurus that gets 20 miles per gallon for a Toyota Prius already in the state fleet that will be modified to become a plug-in electric/gasoline hybrid. Plug-in hybrids use the power stored on a rechargeable battery to reduce the use of gasoline in the hybrid engine, giving a motorist who drives 40 miles a day mileage of up to 150 miles per gallon.

"As part of its Leading by Example Program, the Commonwealth will retrofit 10 gasoline hybrids ranging from sedans to SUVs currently owned by state agencies to plug-in operation, in order to test and demonstrate the new technology. The conversions are expected to cost $8,000 to $10,000 per vehicle."

How much would it cost to convert my 2001 Hyundai Accent? I'll start saving my money.

© 2007 by Gordon Michael Dobbs