Saturday, November 26, 2016


My friends...are you bloated from Thanksgiving? Are you battered and bruised from Black Friday? Welcome to Small Business Saturday, the day when you spend whatever money you didn’t spend yesterday on the neighborhood businesses whose workers will smile at you and pretend they don't know you did most of your shopping at Big Box Express.

Here’s my suggestion. Move Small Business Saturday to the Saturday before Thanksgiving. I mean, stores are already putting on their Christmas finery before Halloween. Why not give a leg up to the little guys?

I would be the best emperor ever.

Moving on...   
I have this thing about giant crabs. I have been fascinated by them ever since, as a wee lad, I saw Attack of the Crab Monsters [1957] on TV. In April of this year, I reviewed and said nice things about a low-budget movie name of Queen Crab.

Via my Kindle Fire, I’ve been reading Night of the Crabs and all of the other giant crab novels by Guy N. Smith. There are seven such novels, the prose equivalent of cheesy monster movies. I can’t say they are terrific novels, but they amuse me for the two hours that it takes to read one of them. I’ll doubtless be writing about them in the bloggy thing once I finish them all.

Island Claws [1980] was erroneously described as an adaptation of a Smith novel. Outside of the bigger-than-normal crabs plural and one giant crab, there are no similarities. I figured this out before watching the movie, so I wasn’t disappointed on that score. Here’s the IMDb synopsis of the movie, also known as Giant Claws:

A biological experiment in Florida goes awry. The result: 8-foot long land crabs which roar loudly and kill everything in sight.

That isn’t precisely accurate, but it’s close enough for government work. Especially in Trump’s America. While scientist Barry Nelson is experimenting with growth hormones to make crabs and other food bigger, there’s an equal chance that the enormous crustaceans are the result of runoff from the local nuclear power plant. Take your pick. It’s still “folly of man” stuff.

The low-budget movie is set in a seedy Florida town that is kind of fun to experience. Robert Lansing plays a bar owner with an accent that defies description. Some of the bar regulars are equal parts creepy and fun and, when a few meet their death at the hands of the crabs, it carries some emotional weight.

The gore is minimal. The special effects are laughable, though the giant crab is fun in a low-budget kind of way. The acting is okay. A subplot about Haitian refugees adds some heart to the story. I don’t regret either the ninety minutes I spent watching this movie or the seven or eight bucks I spent buying it. It’s a satisfyingly cheesy snack.


Looking for something to help me relax after a full day of writing and household stuff, I happened upon Alligator II: The Mutation (1991) on YouTube. I’d seen the movie many years ago and decided to give it another viewing.

The original Alligator (1980) was a terrific movie. Not quite a “B” movie classic, but entertaining and smart. Alligator II isn’t near as good, but still pretty watchable. From IMDb:

A giant alligator runs riot in a small town with a lake connected to a sewer/drainage system. Typical plot; nobody believes the sightings until lots of people have been killed.

Close enough, but the small town seemed more like a small city to me, what with having a large police force and enough lakefront to attract a murderous developer. The sleazy Woody Brown (Rich Harmon)  is looking to build his own empire once he buys up all the land he needs. That he has mob ties is implied.

The movie’s greatest strength comes from the performances from such veterans as Joseph Bologna, Dee Wallace, Richard Lynch, Bill Daily and Brock Peters. The story moves too leisurely at the start with the alligator remaining unseen. When the creature does appear, its best scenes are lifts from the first Alligator. Yes, the movie is more than a little corny and more than a little by the numbers, but it’s entertaining and worth its 92-minute running time. It suited my needs at the time I watched it and, considering it didn’t cost me anything but those 92 minutes, I’m good with it.
Several times a year, I’ll receive a request from someone who wants to interview me for their PhD research or some such. I can’t agree to all of these requests, but, sometimes, when they reach me at the right time and grab my interest, I’ll do my best to answer their questions. I especially enjoy answering questions about stuff that I don’t usually get asked about. Here’s one such question:

QUESTION: You wrote a moving text in War is Hell #9, launching the series. Until #8, war “was not hell” at all, soldiers were heroes. Your approach was very different. Why did Marvel and you publish a series so pacifist and so great when Vietnam War had already ended for the U.S.A.?

ANSWER: I don’t know if I’m a pacifist per se. I do know I believe that, if you’re going to go to war, it should be for right reasons. World War II...the right reasons. Bush II’s War on Iraq...not the right reasons.

With War is Hell, I wanted to do something different from previous war comics. I wanted to show the brutality of war in a way that had not really been done since the war comics of the 1950s and Archie Goodwin’s Blazing Combat. I also wanted to show the cost of war to the men who fought it and the civilians caught in its wake. That’s why I had John Kowalski condemned to live out the war in the bodies of others.

This should not be considered an open invitation to every PhD candidate or student out there. I’ll do as many as I can, but only when they fit into my schedule.

When I do accept them, I post the questions into a work file. Then I answer a question a day until I answer them all. It’s not a fast process, but it’s one that works for me.

That’s all for today. I’ll be back tomorrow with another “odds and ends” bloggy thing. See you then.

© 2016 Tony Isabella

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