Tuesday, October 29, 2013

TRICK: House on Haunted Hill? Mini-Script; TREAT: To soften facial wrinkles and skin, apply castor oil.


FREDERICK LOREN, and his wife, ANNABELLE, have invited several GUESTS to spend the night in their old mansion situated atop a hill.


Each guest arrives at the desolate mansion in a limousine provided by Mr. Loren and are attended to by his BUTLER.


Good evening, Sir.  Mr. Loren will be with you shortly.


Good evening, Mr. and Mrs. Addams.


MORTICIA and GOMEZ ADDAMS join Frankenstein who bends over to kiss Morticia's extended hand, then shakes Gomez's hand and offers a cigar.

What's the old boy up to?

Frankenstein GRUNTS, shaking his head as he lights Gomez's cigar.

It's all very mysterious, cherie.

As Gomez is about to smother her arm in kisses, the doorbell HOLLERS, distracting him. The threesome's glances follow the butler as he opens the door.

Good evening, Count.

As Gomez steps towards Dracula,

You're looking well, Count.

Thank you. Where is your beautiful wife?

Gracefully walking towards him,

Dear Count.

As she extends her hand, Dracula eyes her neck. All are once again distracted by the doorbell.

Good evening, Madam.

ELVIRA embraces Morticia as each air kiss one another.

Whatever Frederick is up to, it's fabulous to see you all.

You're looking more lovely than ever, my dear.

Dracula salivates as he glances between Elvira's and Morticia's necks. Looking dashing and stunning, Frederick and Annabelle suddenly appear.

How gracious of you for coming tonight.

Don't give it a thought, my friend. But what is the occasion? You're famous for your tricks, old chap.

I'm happy to announce Annabelle's birthday.

The group offer her hugs, kisses, and best wishes. As they do, Frederick steps towards the light switch unnoticed, and shuts off the lights. In the darkness, a SCREAM and a THUMP are heard. Frederick switches the lights on. Dracula's fangs drip with blood.

What have you done, Count?

He rushes to Annabelle squirming on the floor, her hand covered with blood trying to soothe the bite on her neck.

What you told me to do. To bite Annabelle.

Everyone turns to Frederick questioningly. As he assists Annabelle to her feet and tends to her wound,

No, no, no, dear Count. I told you to sing to Annabelle.

I do not sing. I bite.

ANNABELLE (crying)
I am a lady of darkness now.

I beg your pardon, Annabelle, but I am the lady of darkness.

Mon ami, you are mistaken for it is I, the lady of darkness.

Once again, the lights go out. A spotlight flashes on Frederick.

For you, my darling. Happy birthday.

Frankenstein appears on a makeshift stage in a yellow, sequined jacket and black sequined pants holding a cane. As he clumsily dances, he belts out "Puttin on the Ritz." Annabelle thoroughly enjoys his performance, blowing him a kiss. He nearly stumbles offstage as Morticia and Elvira, dressed as Flappers, sing "All That Jazz," dancing on and around their chair props. Annabelle CLAPS enthusiastically. Gomez then appears and recites quite eloquently, Edgar Allan Poe's poem, "Annabel Lee." Last, Dracula appears adorned in a red and black cape.

For this act, I will need your assistance, dearest Annabelle.

Annabelle joins him exuberantly.

With one swoop of my cape, I will make Annabelle disappear.

Dracula covers Annabelle with his cape and to everyone's delight, Annabelle disappears.

Bravo, Count!

But where did she go?

As everyone surrounds Dracula in curious search of Annabelle, he disappears in a ball of smoke. The stunned group blinks at the stain on the floor and exchange concerned glances.

He has abducted her!

As he rushes to the door,

I will search high and low. Use all of my resources. Do anything to find her. If it takes forever!


Are you comfortable, dearest Annabelle?

Yes, I am, Count. But where are we going?


There's no place like home.

Cut! This is not the Wizard of Oz!

To the director,

And this is House on Haunted Hill?


**petra michelle**

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Lou Reed
(March 2, 1942 – October 27, 2013)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Hurricane Sandy victims in New Jersey bemoan red tape

TOMS RIVER, N.J. (AP) -- Nearly a year after Hurricane Sandy, victims of the storm told a state panel that insurance woes and bureaucratic red tape are doing just as much damage as the storm.

At a state Senate hearing Monday in Toms River, one of the hardest hit communities at the Jersey shore, many residents complained of insurance companies trying to low-ball them on payouts, and stringent aid rules that are delaying them from rebuilding.

Michael Mazzucca of Stafford Township says his family is split up all along the eastern seaboard while they wait for repairs to be authorized. He says his 15-year-old daughter, staying in North Carolina with a relative, keeps asking when she can go home. "Our goal is to connect once a week, let alone live in the same home," he said. "It's hard when your 15-year-old daughter keeps asking, ‘Dad, when can I come home and live with you?' and you don't have an answer."

Diane Mazzacca, also of Stafford, says she's ready to turn in the keys and walk away from her storm-damaged home. She said she has no choice but to elevate her home, which she can't afford, to a height at which she'll soon no longer be able to climb the stairs to enter. "God forbid I have another issue, because I'm done," she said. "We are up to our limits. Our money is tied up trying to get back in our home, fighting with insurance, fighting with FEMA. Nobody has done anything to help. You've got to help. Otherwise I'm just turning over the keys."

New Jersey has estimated the Oct. 29, 2012, storm damaged or destroyed 360,000 homes or businesses. Monday's hearing was the fourth held in recent months on the pace of post-Sandy recovery. Tom Sheralis of Toms River said the bureaucracy has been impenetrable. He said he was one of the first homeowners approved for a state grant, but still has not gotten any money from it. "I get bounced from one case manager to another," he said. "Nobody seems to know what they're doing."

Danielle Vaz of Toms River brought her 4 year old autistic son to the hearing to say how severely being displaced by the storm has affected them both  "After a year I'm tired. Instead of being a 36-year-old single mother, I feel like I'm 76. It's not getting any easier; it's getting harder by the day," she said. "When I needed my government -- the people I voted for -- they failed me."

Vincent Giglio, a doctor from the Ortley Beach section of Toms River, which was devastated by the storm and remains sparsely populated a year later, said getting insurance payouts and government aid has been daunting. "These programs are intended to help; they're not," he said. "They're just putting more obstacles on you."

He and others complained about the rules for a rebuilding grant that forbids applicants from doing repair work on their homes after applying for the grant because they need to go through an environmental review and be checked to make sure they are not historic structures before repairs can be done.

"To expect people to sit and do nothing is inexcusable," Giglio said.

North Jersey restaurants hardest hit by storm recover from Sandy

Watching customers stream in for heaping plates of pasta and chats with Aldo Bazzarelli and his daughters, you'd never know that almost a year ago, Superstorm Sandy soaked their landmark Moonachie restaurant with waist-high floodwater.

Business has boomed since the 42-year-old Bazzarelli restaurant reopened in January — many first-timers said they dropped in to support the rebuilding efforts, while hundreds of regulars missed their second kitchen during the two months it was closed. "It was definitely a lesson that you mean more to people than you thought you did," says Aldo's daughter, Susanna Bazzarelli Teixeira.

The Bazzarellis' other lesson: that they can depend on the little people so much more than the big. They are still struggling with an insurance company for payments, but another insurance broker was so moved by their plight that he threw a benefit party at the restaurant and handed them the $2,000 in proceeds.

Despite the swarm of federal and state elected officials at their reopening, the family ultimately applied for no public money. They say they were turned off by the tedious paperwork process and interest rate of the loans offered by the U.S. Small Business Administration. Instead, they opted to raid Aldo's retirement account and remortgage his house (at a lower rate) to finance most of their $300,000 in repairs.

"If we would have waited, we would still not be open," said daughter Denise Bazzarelli. After her boyfriend, Carlos Moscoso, received one of the so-called recoupment letters from FEMA, demanding back money it said it erroneously paid him after a disaster (in his case, Hurricane Irene), the family decided to steer clear of the federal grant process altogether.

They did get one grant from a private group — The Bergen County Community Action Partnership, whose $3,000 they used to replace their ruined chairs — as well as donations from friends and neighbors. Home Depot employees who saw Aldo coming in for construction supplies later became dinner customers. Some of Aldo's staff even told him that he didn't have to pay them right away when the restaurant first opened. Aldo said that without his customers and friends, "I don't think we would have been able to do anything. I wouldn't be able to pay my bills."

While Bazzarelli suffered some of the most significant losses of any local restaurant during Superstorm Sandy, its publicity and long, loyal following helped it rebound the fastest.

One restaurant in Little Ferry, Il Cinghiale, had been open just 18 months and had just started to build a following when Sandy destroyed it. Without flood insurance, owner Nicola Moncada knew he couldn't recover, and opted to leave. He now runs Ristorante Benissimo in Madison, where he says he occasionally gets customers from the Bergen County area.

Bazzarelli's neighbor, the 8-year-old Dolce Novita, was closed for 18 days after Sandy. But upon reopening, owners soon realized that many of their regulars had been flooded out of their houses and were nowhere to be found at dinnertime.

Business plummeted 40 percent from this time last year. Owner Richard Vukaj said he received some insurance money, for which he was able to fix his dining room, but his roof is leaking and he has no more money for repairs. "I need another $50,000 to $100,000 to make the place what it was before Sandy," he said. Thankfully, Vukaj has been starting to see more familiar faces in the dining room. "Most of the people are moving back, now [that] their houses are fixed. They come in more often to eat."

In Carlstadt, Sandy covered the 14-year-old Gianna's Restaurant with eight inches of water. Owners got up and running after three weeks, but the usual busy holiday season was a wash — many of the nearby companies who always held Christmas parties there were flooded and couldn't afford to celebrate. Even now, "I think a lot of people are having a hard time from being closed so long," said owner Paula Graziano. Business remains hit or miss.

The one bright spot: With its location near the Meadowlands, the Italian restaurant is already getting business from those working on the Super Bowl. Graziano hopes they spread the word. "During the Super Bowl, I think we're going to be crazy busy," she says. "I hope so."

Email: ung@northjersey.com Blog: northjersey.com/secondhelpings Twitter: @elisaung

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Sunday is for Poetry: LIFE

Minimal possessions --

Splashes of rainforests

Panoramic heavens

Oceans of desert

Stampeding animals

Trees of music

All of creation.


petra michelle

MY SCHISM WITH ISM, a personal essay

"Formalism, by being an 'ism' kills form by hugging it to death." Peter Viereck, American Poet/Writer.

In my opinion, ism is the most powerful word in the English language in its ability to transform an ordinary word into the extraordinary. Consider absolute to absolutism or person versus personalism. In my life, isms impelled a gamut of emotions and circumstances ranging from paranoia to pleasure, and instability to success.


Fascism loomed before I was born. During WWII, my father, then an athletic 16-year-old, had been captured by the Nazis during their invasion of Yugoslavia, imprisoned in a labor camp in Germany, and at the end of the war, freed by British forces. For years thereafter, my family was subjected to his waves of neuroticism.  "Nazism is an acronym for the National Armed Zealots in the Slaughter of Mankind,"or some version of that, he'd rant.

I was born in the wake of McCarthyism when my parents emigrated to the United States. In our search for Americanism, my siblings and I ducked and covered from communism and nuclear fallout. I prayed catechism would allay my fears of an apocalypse, only to conclude after having been born in sin which would evoke God's wrath to condemn me to burn in hell eternally, that religious fundamentalism was a euphemism for sadism.

I sought solace in aestheticism, and felt blessed when I found Emily. "Wild Nights - Wild Nights!" I wished were mine, but plagiarism weighed heavily on my consciousness thanks to my English teacher's fanaticism regarding the subject. "Perhaps she'd been incarcerated for same?" I often wondered. Surely, it was no coincidence she took the class on a field trip to our local prison to watch the cell doors slam shut. "From all the Jails the Boys and Girls ecstatically leap..."

I threw in my pen and replaced it with a brush of Cubism, Pointillism, too. In my Junior year of high school, I explored eroticism, not with boys but by painting noses in every conceivable position. When a friend asked about one in particular, I replied, "Isn't it obvious? World peace through nudism."

In the 1960's, hipsterism surfaced. Through Allen Ginsberg's poems of freedom and Bob Dylan's songs of protest along with Dr. Martin Luther King's and the Beatles' chants of love and peace, plus a pinch of Timothy Leary's "turn on, tune in, drop out," revolution was in the air.  Many chose activism over pacifism. I, along with my college sisters, protested the Vietnam War with love-ins and flowers, while striving for equality in feminism. That I could choose whether to burn my bra may now seem trivial, but considering I could finally declare my cup size with some degree of certainty, was truly liberating.

Violence grew domestically, some resorting to militantism in fighting against racism. The line between occultism and amoralism grew faint as the fallout of the sixties rendered hundreds following gurus and teenagers starring in porn flicks. Just as quickly as they were shacking up, couples were breaking up; marriages seemingly coming to a standstill. Colloquialisms alluding to sexism and chauvinism were exchanged between heterosexuals while homosexualism strove for its own identity.

By the time I married, my generation turned its attention to pragmatism and materialism. Should a woman wait until after a career to have children? A house before children? Become a millionaire before children? Buy mutual funds or government bonds? Open an IRA or a CD? What awards...excuse me, returns could I expect if I'd invest in one thousand shares of MTV stocks? Just a few blue chips off the old block of capitalism.

While factories belched wealth in the production of computers and Nikes worldwide, globalism was reduced to a simplism by Bell Atlantic's "We're all connected." Environmentalism burst forth with urgency to the realism of acid rain, irradiated foods, and global warming. Greenpeace was on the march and I joined in, aghast as rain forests fell prey to expansionism.

Not normally affable to narcissism, I admit to Petraisms which affirm endearments which Gracie Allen could only have understood.  Gracie: "George, wasn't the Phil Risutto delicious?" Cigar in hand, George: "You mean the shrimp risotto?" Yes, George, the Phil Risutto with Pataki mushrooms." "Say good night, Gracie." "Good night."

But to quote a Yogism, "it ain't over til it's over," realizes the journey can be excruciating. My divorce was less painful than the tortuous political climate between conservatism and liberalism. Constitutionalism tolerates freedom of speech and expression, not indifference to the poor and inequality. Has altruism become an anachronism? Or is humanitarianism, merely, just another ism.

Copyright 2011
Petra Michelle