Wednesday, February 29, 2012






♫Hey, hey, we're the...♫ (um, actually not anymore)... So Davy Jones, lead singer of The Monkees died today of a heart attack in Florida at the age of 66. While I was never a fan of the band, I do remember watching the tv show as kid as the corny humor was right at home with the zany, wacky slapstick that also fit in with the landscape that was The Beverly Hillbillies, Petticoat Junction, Green Acres, The Addams Family and I Dream of Jeannie (some taste, huh)? What stuck out most about them for me was how much they were heavily slagged off for being a manufactured & lamer version of The Beatles (at best, pale imitators & at worst, weak knockoffs). In some ways, too much wholesomeness kinda hurt them and there always seemed to be accusations of them lip-synching or having to face dismissiveness for not being credible enough musicians. And of course there was the ridicule for their reunions - seemingly a cheesy novelty allowed to go on for too long. But for all the dissing thrown at them, they had their loyal fans who stuck like glue, forever viewing the little British frontman as their beloved pop idol. Perhaps the best thing about The Monkees was their surreal 1968 movie 'HEAD' produced by Jack Nicholson (and no shortage of LSD) which definitely had people scratching their heads. Not surprisongly, it flopped at the box-office. It's a weird, almost deliberately drug-induced, stream of consciousness film that seems to be strung along by an explosion of crazy ideas, many old film clips, gags & disjointed vignettes making some type of commentary about then-present war & violence in society that scars the psyche. Yet quite noticeably, it still contains an overall element of the band not taking themselves too seriously while for the very first time, simultaneously taking on the roll of jaded cynicism. It's further unusual mix of guest stars like Dennis Hopper & Frank Zappa appeared to be a means to maybe jolt the band away from the cultivated teenybopper/bubblegum image, but the unlikely Hollywood cameos certainly helped however with the predictable negative misunderstanding that followed. With musical numbers from Broadway song n' dance to psychedelica (some of the happy bounce infact just a layering for dark lyrical matter), HEAD is a bizarre n' trippy, post-modernist, devoid-of-plot, incoherent mess (with a cult following, no less) that definitely should be seen if for no other reason than it was truthfully innovative & ahead of its time. I'll say this for Jones: hurtled to fame in the aftershock of the Fab 4's massive success, if the man could emerge from controversy & criticism (as a free form product of the hype n' hysteria amongst surrounding others synonymous with the decade) as upbeat or bitter-free from being beholden to the adorable goofball persona, then hats off to him. To embrace the easy-going fun that came from that era & still carry it on (where others struggle for years to escape a plaguing typecast & have difficulty turning the joke on themselves)-- even as the counterculture seemed to pass the band by -- and to go onto living peacefully content (as opposed to an uneasy settling), then certainly one has to consider that as being a life where the good outweighed the bad by considerbale distance. And so the day trudges on with the radio playing the hits in tribute... R.I.P.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

ONE SMALL SIP FOR MAN, ONE BIG GULP FOR MANKIND


Time is silent & eons pass. Mind & matter come together only to explode. Civilization. Africa. The Middle East. Greece. China. The founding and development of philosophy, art, agriculture, law, religion, sicence, medicine. The power of the collective - of society - takes hold around much of the world. The Shang & Zhou dynasties. The Roman Empire. Confucius. Democracy in Athens. The written sacred story spins the wheel of history. Hippocrates, Democritus, Socrates, Plato & Aristotle. Buddhism, Hindu scripture. Ancient & archaic giving way to new authority and newer struggles. Ptolemaic cosmology, Galenic healing. And finally at every level - hate, violence, conflict, war, then decadence & military excess. The bubble closes. The idea crumbles. The original premise fades. the collapse of empire begins. Again, a new kind of silence arrives. A great period of gestation. A harsh conformity to religious hierarchy weighs on the individual spirit. Turning & turning, time slows down. As consciousness dims, the memory of past existence drifts into oblivion. With little sense of oppurtunity, life becomes a circle with repetition built upon a rotating cycle of repetition. Then with all possibilities forgotten, a match strikes. A glow appears, faint at first. From the darkness, we step into the Renaissnce. Whoosh. And in the whirlwind of a single year, 2 great modern physicists exit & enter: Galileo Galilei dies while Isaac Newton is born. Enlightenment has erupted. A celebration of potential allows for the building of a towering utopia in which people are free from the punishing forces of nature & superstition. Imagination is heralded. They sky is the limit. Rebellion & revolution shakes Western Europe and America. The sheer power of the acceleration strips the moment of its vestiges of tradition. Progress is unshackled. Science is fused with adventure. Benjamin Franklin's lightning rod; Eli Whitney's cotton gin; George Stephenson' locomotive; Samuel Morse's telegram; Richard Gatling's machine gun; Thomas Edison's lightbulb; Alexander Graham Bell's telephone; Karl Benz's automobile; George Eastman's camera; Edwin Prescott's roller coaster. A sudden shift in art & literature follows a growing unease that the world - brilliant but brutal - is built of chaos. Carl Friedrich Gauss's non-Euclidian geometry threatens the unity of math & science; Igor Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" prompts riots; Albert Einstein crushes time & space; James Joyce drags the novel into the river of subjectiveness. New freedoms are demanded & reaped. From an astonishing height, in July 1969, the Greek God Apollo is transformed into a modern hero as an astronaut takes the most famous walk for all of humanity. The pinnacle & zenith of capability and outstanding achievement. There we were. Is it all downhill from here? Then & now, where does the breakdown begin? Atomic bombs over Japan? Several million Jews killed bya democratically elected regime? Ethnic leansing? In some forgotten moment, the answer is lost & modernism withers. A new era of recognition begins. Observing the ceremony of hybrids and pluralties, ambiguity and doubt, fragmentation and irony. marking the meaning in multiple meanings. With a present familiar haste, society embraces the many parallel worlds through which reality forms & is experienced. There's a man behind the curtain & he wears no clothes. The lies are big & they are legion for truth is not truth but power. Instability is oppurtunity. Time is ether. Objectivity is internal perspective. Knowledge is being. Essence is sentience. Reality is story. Stories are language. Language is a game. Science is ideology. Ego is DNA. Humanity is flesh. Flesh is disposition (or inherent surrounding). Nature is technology. Technology is us. Evolution flips a switch everytime. Such is the creation, advancement & destruction of species. We & everyone are machines... The dream dies but the dreamer awakens.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

JANUARY 15, 1947 (REQUIEM FOR ELIZABETH SHORT)

65yrs ago today, one of the most infamous crimes in all the annals of American murder occured... On Jan 9, 1947 - almost as if scripted directly from underworld film noir with her enduring nickname & sometimes difficult circumstances - Elizabeth Short left the Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles for the nearby low-rent Olive Street bar & vanished, only to be found (by a local resident walking her 3yr old daughter) severed in two, heavily mutilated, nude, completely drained of blood & posed in a vacant Crenshaw District lot 6 days later. Since the horrific discovery with its inflicted trauma, this one iconic murder mystery has lingered unsolved at the forefront of the American imagination with dozens of books, documentaries n' films dedicated to solving the gruesome slaying of the Massachusetts girl who came to Hollywood (via Florida) with actress aspirations, hoping to make it big (the popular narrative of her being portrayed as a troubled runaway turned call girl has been vehemently discounted) only to flounder through empty promises of a screen career never developed. The ensuing case filled with widespread speculation & sordid rumors, was sensationalist headline news for weeks with the believed killer (calling himself the 'Black Dahlia Avenger') having at one point phoned the editor of the L.A. Examiner newspaper & later mailing items (her birth certificate, business cards, photographs, names written on pieces of paper & an address book) belonging to Short. Along with taunting cut n' paste letters came links between the notorious Cleveland Torso Murders of 1935-38 (also involving an unidentified killer) and the Red Lipstick Murder of 45yr old ex-nurse Jeanne French on Feb 10, 1947. (The press had dubbed the killer 'Werewolf' as he was suspected in several previous unsolved slayings. French's body was found nude, beaten & mutilated with the phrase 'Fuck You BD' written on her midsection & although the coroner said the writing was infact PD, the possible reference to Black Dahlia had been cast).

Many historians & crime experts have cited varying opinions for the investigation stalling with reasons including interfering self-agenda reporters trampling evidence - prior to now modern forensic techniques, withholding information, relying on sketchy sources that clouded judgements & roaming freely in department offices meddling with files. By complicating matters in their rush to get scoops or with greedy biased oppurtunism that would advance careers, these factors arguably contributed to the prevention of police (hundreds of officers borrowed from other agencies) taking control immediately. More disturbing however are the LAPD themselves proving to be perhaps their own liability. With reputations already steeped in corruption & often even brutality, the most hindering flaw of the force to solve the mystery may have been the inability to accept a new kind of psychological profiling --- detectives didn't believe in 'stranger-on-stranger' killings (even though they had been in existence & prevalent long throughout). The term "serial murder" didn't exist in the police lexicon & infact was more of an emerging latent theory in the field of psychiatric clinical study. Ahead of its time, when offered to law enforcement as a procedural outline to catch criminals, it was rejected as "nonsense science." Atleast 50 men n' women confessed to the crime while dozens of citizens swamped the police with tips. Suspects in the 'Black Dahlia' murder have included L.A. Times publisher Norman Chandler, atleast 2 surgeons, crazed lesbians, twisted drifters, a nightclub n' theater owner, gangster Bugsy Siegel, folk singer Woody Guthrie & more than one writer’s father. Still (most certainly & overwhelmigly because of her tragedy), the fascination remains and as the key to understanding her life continues, Short looms large in pop culture as evidenced from renewed interest with her recent mention in a 2011 video game, a memorable episode of tv show 'American Horror Story' & lastly, her unusual proto-goth make-up which was so different from the typical 'popular girl next door' look of the 1940's.


















TOUCH OF EVIL?
The Black Dahlia is Hollywood's most infamous & shocking unsolved murder. Orson Welles is one of Hollywood's most celebrated filmmakers. Could the larger-than-life auteur have been responsible for the grisly killing? EMPIRE investigates.
(by Simon Braund / Mar 2010)


The Biltmore Hotel, the grande dame of Los Angeles hostelries, has weathered downtown's changing fortunes almost completely unscathed. A solid, brick-built fortress of luxury & opulence, it stands as an old-school rebuke to the chic eateries and hip loft conversions that are gradually reviving what was until a few years ago, an uninhabited ghost town. The lobby of the Biltmore, which opens onto Olive Street & Pershing Square Park, is a splendid affair. Like a miniature baronial banqueting hall it has a high, steeply vaulted ceiling hung with magnificent, faux medieval chandeliers. Heavily ornate yet with its blond marble floor & rich floral rugs, light & airy, it's the perfect place for a spot of afternoon tea or a drink from the tiny bar which nestles in one comer. Apart from a lick of paint here and there on the heraldic embellishments, it has changed hardly at all from the night of January 9, 1947 when 22yr old aspiring actress Elizabeth Short, better known as 'The Black Dahlia', stopped in to use the phone. Short remained in the lobby for roughly an hour. After making her calls, she left the hotel by the front entrance into Pershing Square back then a pleasantly landscaped park with trees & flower beds (a notorious gay pick-up point) rather than the concreted monstrosity it is today. The doorman, a man who obviously appreciated a shapely rump, watched her turn right on Olive & then right again onto 6th Street, an area famous for its dive bars, leeming with returned servicemen, zoot-suiters, B-girls & slumming swells. It was the last time she was seen alive.

When Short's hideously mutilated body was discovered 6 days later - washed clean, cut in half with near-surgical precision & artfully posed - in an empty lot near the intersection of S. Norton Avenue and 39th Street, 5 miles & a world away from the lobby of the Biltmore, The Black Dahlia became a part of LA mythology, written into the fabric of the city as indelibly as the names lining the Walk Of Fame or the handprints on Grauman's Chinese Theater forecourt. The story of The Dahlia is a Hollywood story - even though Elizabeth Short never appeared in a single frame of film. The details of the case or those that are known, and the fact that it remains unsolved could have been drawn from the bleakest of noirs; Short's portentous sobriquet was inspired by the Veronica Lake movie "The Blue Dahlia". And, in her most famous photograph with head thrown back, smiling off camera with her pale, haunting eyes, jet-black hair & porcelain skin, she is the dark mirror image of the Hollywood dream. It was not The Dahlia's fate to be spotted by a talent agent, sipping milkshakes at Schwab's. Hers was to be picked up in a downtown dive, tortured & horribly murdered, her body dumped in the weeds on S. Norton Avenue for all to see. In the cruellest of ironies, Elizabeth Short found fame in death beyond her wildest dreams, even as it had eluded her in life.

In 1999, a book called Childhood Shadows, one of many tomes generated by The Dahlia cult, hit the shelves. It was written by Mary Pacios, a writer who distinguished herself from the plethora of other Dahlia obsessives by virtue of having known Elizabeth Snort in Medford, Massachusetts. Said the 74yr old Pacios from her home in Wyoming: "Bette Short went to school with my brother. She used to come over to our house & she befriended me when I was a child. She made me feel wanted & I admired her. I wanted to be just like her when I grew up. She used to take me to the movies and my most vivid memory of her is the day we went for a walk & I watched her try on a pink-flowered dress in a shop." Pacios claims she wrote Childhood Shadows to set the record straight on who exactly Elizabeth Short was. According to Pacios she was not the runaway drifter & whore of popular imagination but the proverbial nice girl from a nice family. Pacios says she was particularly distressed by the ugly portrayal of Short in James Ellroy's novel The Black Dahlia, adapted into a movie by Brian De Palma in 2006. At one point she along with surviving members of the Short family contemplated suing Ellroy presumably over slander, defamation & emotional distress, saying: "[Ellroy's book] was fiction but it was fiction with a wink, more like Ellroy calling it fiction but implying it was the real story. He used pseudonyms for the police but he used Bette's real name & her mother's real name. He distorted her personality with false claims & made no attempt to discover the real person. I felt Ellroy was destroying our memories, those of the family & friends." Through meticulous research & numerous interviews, Pacios does a fine job of rescuing her friend's reputation. Naturally, she also delves into the bizarre circumstances of Short's death and like every other armchair detective before & since, comes up with her own startling theory on who committed the crime. In doing so, she attempts to tie Elizabeth Short to Hollywood with something far more substantial than the bonds of mere myth. According to Pacios, The Black Dahlia murderer was none other than Orson Welles(!) As in, writer-director-star of the greatest film ever made (Citizen Kane), maverick genius, noted wit, raconteur & cheap sherry pundit Orson Welles. On the face of it, this might - and in fact does sound about as plausible as accusing Elvis of the Kennedy assassination. But if Pacios doesn't make an entirely convincing case for Welles being the culprit, she certainly makes a thorough & thoroughly entertaining one. And you have to admit, as harebrained theories go, it's only as outlandish as the notion that Edward VII was Jack The Ripper.

Pacios began her research into the Dahlia case in 1987. Her interest in Welles was, she says, first piqued by reading Otto Friedrich's excellent book on '40s Hollywood, City Of Nets. In it, Friedrich describes Welles performing a magic act for US servicemen in a circus tent on Cahuenga Boulevard. Billed as 'The Mercury Wonder Show', it culminated in Welles appearing to cut his then-wife, screen goddess Rita Hayworth, in half. The Dahlia's corpse had been sliced cleanly through at the midsection & placed several inches apart; the killer deliberately displaying his handiwork. Harry Cohn, tyrannical head of Columbia Pictures, outraged over Welles using one of his top contract stars as a prop, put a stop to Hayworth 's involvement but Welles continued the routine with a series of high-profile volunteers, among them later talkshow legend Johnny Carson. (He also performed it with Marlene Dietrich during a scene in the 1944 musical revue "Follow The Boys"). To hang the most infamous murder in Los Angeles' entire history on a man for performing an illusion that has been a staple of vaudeville stage magic for over a century, would of course be ridiculous. Even using it as the starting point for an investigation is somewhat suspect but Pacios was sufficiently intrigued to dig deeper, saying: "My approach with Welles was not to try to prove he did it but to try to eliminate him as a suspect, to look for evidence that proved he couldn't have done it. That evidence, remarkably enough however, proved somewhat hard to find. The more I searched, the weirder it became. And as someone in law enforcement said to me, when the coincidences mount up, maybe it's time to investigate a little further."

Scouring all the available information on Welles including several biographies and a great deal of his personal & business correspondence, Pacios at first hypothesises that he suffered from a mental illness known as a diphasic personality. A condition often found in serial killers, this involves the sufferer developing 2 distinct phases of existence -- one an often violent fantasy life where the id reigns supreme; the other a fabricated, outwardly normal public persona. Says Pacios: "Welles displayed many characteristics of the diphasic personality. He had a short fuse, was quick to anger & overreacted when his authority was challenged. The deep-seated anger which drives the diphasic personality can manifest itself as a form of psychological abuse - routinely degrading & instilling fear in others which Welles was wont to do. The diphasic person can function with a support system that allows him to escape the consequences of his actions. But if that support system collapses perhaps through death, divorce or loss of status, it can be the trigger mechanism which unleashes the fantasies. [At the time of the murder] Welles' life was falling apart as Hayworth was divorcing him, the IRS were after him, he had huge debt problems & his professional career was failing." Pacios believes that Welles' condition drove him to channel creative frustrations into aggression; a condition furthermore exacerbated by heavy drug n' alcohol abuse. (Welles' drinking was legendary and he was also a known user of barbiturates & cocaine). As evidence for this, Pacios cites Welles' propensity for ferocious temper tantrums & violent, often misogynistic behaviour both on stage & off. As a child he once manically shredded a nanny's dress with a pair of scissors and acting opposite Eartha Kitt on one occasion, he bit her lip so hard during a kiss she bled profusely. While playing Othello on Broadway, Welles was compelled to apologize to the autdience after attacking actress Gudrun Ure (playing Desdemona) with such force, he almost knocked her unconscious slamming her head repeatedly into a wooden bedpost. Most alarming of all is an incident that took place while Welles was playing Brutus in a production of Julius Caesar. Apparently, he insisted on wielding a real knife in the assassination scene & one night during the performance, he actually stabbed the actor playing Caesar (Joseph Holland) in the chest, severing an artery near his heart. The cast were seen sliding around in pools of blood while the curtain was hastily brought down. Holland survived but was in hospital for 3 months.

Welles' mentor, theatre producer John Houseman, described him in his autobiography as "a monstrous boy... obscene & terrible with an irresistible interior of violence". Pacios also makes much of the fact that author Barbara Learning once claimed that during an interview with Welles, he admitted to paying a woman who had accused him of raping her $20,000 in hush money. This happened in 1945, 2 years before Elizabeth Short's murder. Piling on the so-called 'evidence', Pacios further claims that a decade or more before method acting came into favour, Welles would immerse himself in his roles with almost obsessive fervour. It was a tendency that worried even him. The blurring of fact & fiction was, he believed, a potentially dangerous loss of control. Further corroboration of Welles' turbulent mental state arrives in the shape of an older brother, Richard. 10 years his senior & a diagnosed schizophrenic, he spent much of his adult life in a secure mental institution. Orson detested & feared Richard in equal measure seldom ever discussing him. He regarded him as his mad alter ego & sometimes referred to "The Other Orson", the monster that lurked beneath the surface. Throughout his life, haunted by the spectre of Richard, Orson harboured a deep-seated terror of losing his mind & being incarcerated. All of this sounds very fascinating but it is not only highly circumstantial it's second-hand to boot. Welles had a violent temper & a mentally ill brother; that doesn't make him a homicidal maniac. Then again, Welles' fame does not automatically rule him out as a suspect. Pacios' case is no less compelling than those made against a slew of other suspects by a plethora of other writers. And she has an ace up her sleeve -- at time of the Dahlia murder, Welles was directing & starring in "The Lady From Shanghai", a strange psychological thriller in which Welles plays a tormented sailor fatally obsessed with his boss' wife. It was a characteristically torturous process made all the more so by the fact that his leading lady, Rita Hayworth, was also his co-star in an ongoing & very messy divorce. The stress Welles was under can well be imagined and his drug n' alcohol use at this point was gargantuan, often leading to blackouts. For the finale of the film, Welles, in this precarious emotional n' psychological state, had helped design & build a set for a carnival crazy house. An outlandish affair in any context, the set was decorated with troubling, explicitly violent imagery - the most startling of which involved effigies of naked women severed in half...

Elizabeth Short was born into poverty on July 29, 1924, in Hyde Park, Massachusetts, the 3rd of 5 girls. Her father Cleo built miniature golf courses for a living before going broke during the Wall Street Crash of October 1929. In 1930, he disappeared a presumed suicide when his empty parked car was found on a bridge. (He showed up alive & well some years later living in California). In the meantime, Short was raised by her mother, Phoebe Mae Sawyer, who worked as a bookkeeper in Medford. At the age of 16, to alleviate her asthma & bronchitis, Short was sent to live in Florida during the winter months. 3 years later, she moved to Vallejo, California, to live with her father who worked nearby at a Naval Shipyard on San Francisco Bay. Following a quarrel, she left & found work at a post office near Lompoc then moved to Santa Barbara where she was arrested on September 23, 1943, for underage drinking. She was sent back to Medford but for the next few years, lived mostly in Florida supporting herself by working as a waitress. She made occassional visits back to Massachusetts. While in Florida, she met a young Air Force commando named Major Matthew Michael Gordon Jr., who was training for a posting in the Eastern theatre. According to Short, Gordon wrote her a letter from India proposing marriage. At the time, Gordon was recovering from a plane crash, the result of his attempt to rescue a downed flier. Short accepted the offer but before Gordon could return to the States, he was killed in another crash on August 10, 1945 (a day after the Nagasaki bombing). According to his obituary, Gordon was a highly decorated war hero, recipient of a Silver Star, the Distinguished Flying Cross, a Bronze Star, the Air Medal with 15 oak-leaf clusters and a Purple Heart. What psychological effect Gordon's death had on Short is impossible to gauge but she later embellished the story, telling friends that she & Gordon had actually been married and that they'd had a child who died in infancy. Gordon's friends in the air commandos did confirm that the couple were engaged, but after Short's murder, Gordon's family denied any connection that the couple had ever even known each other.

Short returned to Los Angeles in July 1946 to see an old boyfriend, Lt. Gordon Fickling, who was stationed in Long Beach. Because of her notable penchant for wearing black, some believe it was apparently here that a drugstore pharmacist coined her nickname (either that or the Dahlia name being attributed to newspaper reporters covering the murder). According to photographs, Fickling was a dashingly handsome man but nevertheless, Short continued her dalliances with other men. Hers & Fickling's was a stormy relationship from the start and eventually fed up with Short's infidelities, Fickling moved to North Carolina to work as an airline pilot. They stayed in touch however & he continued sending her money. Fickling received his last letter from Short one week before she was killed. She told him she was moving to Chicago in the hope of becoming a model. There is something wrenchingly sad in that. Not just because she never made it to Chicago but also because if she had, you sense she'd have spent her time there much as she did in Hollywood, drifting between cheap hotels, shabby apartment buildings & seedy rooming houses in pursuit of another elusive dream.
Short once told friends she had fallen for a man she called only "Red" & after her murder, police tracked down & held Robert 'Red' Manley. At first he denied knowing Short but then admitted he did know her but that nothing had happened between them, having been the last person to be seen with her on Jan 8, before she disappeared the next day. He identified her handbag purse & one of her shoes after they were discovered in a trash can. After passing 2 polygraphs & providing a sworn alibi that checked out, he was released. Suffering from a mental disability, Manley was discharged from the army and experienced a series of nervous breakdowns also claiming to hear voices. In 1954, his wife had him committed to an asylum (a year after the Dahlia case inspired the 1953 film "The Blue Gardenia" with its title song sung by Nat King Cole). He died on Jan 9, 1986, almost 20yrs on the exact date which for Short was the last day of her life.
Los Angeles kicks over traces of its history quickly & without sentimentality. The Hollywood of The Black Dahlia is barely a memory these days. The overgrown lot where her body was dumped is now the manicured front lawn of a non descript suburban home, one of millions like it in Southern California. The only monument is a fire hydrant, 54 feet from which according to the coroner's report, Short's body was found on that chilly January morning by a young woman pushing a pram. Still, some of her haunts still stand, not that she'd know them. In the '40s, Boairmers bar on Cherokee Avenue, a block south of Hollywood Boulevard was a no-frills dive that offered cheap drinks & easy company. Today it's a hipster hangout, gussied up like a neo-Goth New Orleans bordello. Likewise the Figueroa Hotel, a 15 minute walk from the Biltmore at S. Figueroa Street & Olympic Boulevard. When Short stayed there it was a dollar-a-night flophouse. Now it's a boutique palace with an opulent Moroccan theme. Brittingham's restaurant, which once stood in Columbia Square near Columbia's Hollywood studios, is long gone. It was once a popular eatery as Short dined there often and was well known to the staff. Another regular customer was Orson Welles who would pop in during breaks in shooting on 'The Lady From Shanghai'.

There's no proof that Short & Welles ever knew each other (a prominent Hollywood figure who once worked at Brittingham's as a waitress told Pacios there were rumours that Short was "going with" someone at the studio) but it is quite likely she caught his eye. In another interview with Barbara Learning, Welles describes Betty Chancellor, a young actress whom he became obsessed with while performing at Dublin's Gate Theatre early in his career: "She was one of those absolutely black-haired girls with skin as white as Carrara marble, you know, and eyelashes you could trip on." It's a description that fits Short to a T. In the play, Welles was required to rape Chancellor off-stage. He said: "I came on practically unbuttoned having had my way with her." Pacios believes Short & Welles could have met as she would have been striking enough to catch his eye. But as to whether they really did, her response: "That can only be conjectured." On the day of Short's murder, production on 'The Lady From Shanghai' was shut down due to a strike caused by Welles (contrary to union rules) working on construction of the carnival funhouse for the set. The coincidence of that hardly needs commenting on but the macabre parallels between aspects of the set and Short's murder are to say the least, unsettling. In a sequence, cut from the film at Columbia President Harry Cohn's insistence, Rita Hayworth is shown standing in a chamber of horrors surrounded by grotesquely dismembered mannequins. The walls are daubed with disturbing, violent images & anatomical drawings, one of them a partially flayed cow with a woman, cut clean in half, lying on top of it. Elsewhere there are several clowns' faces with one imprisoned in a metal birdcage. One of the images painted on the Wall is of a bisected skeleton whose arms & legs are posed in positions eerily similar to Short's corpse. In a production still, Welles & make-up artist Bob Schiffer are shown applying make-up to the face of a mannequin, giving the impression that its cheeks have been slashed into a wide, gory smile. Short's face was mutilated in the same way, her cheeks lacerated from the corners of her mouth to form a ghastly, rictus grin. Said Pacios: "I was shocked when I saw that. I couldn't believe my eyes." In the months following the murder, while the massive police investigation was in full swing, Welles exhibited some decidedly odd behaviour. First of all, he applied for his passport on the same day as a package of materials relating to the killing including a mocking 'catch me if you can' letter & Short's birth certificate, was delivered to LAPD headquarters. There's nothing particulary unusual in that - apart from it being another eerie coincidence except that Welles had no reasons to leave the United States at that time. Quite the contrary, in fact.

A powerful part of the Welles mythology is that following the furor over Citizen Kane, his bitter feud with newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst (on whom Kane was based) and the indifference shown to his next picture, "The Magnificent Ambersons" (not least by RKO, who had it clumsily re-edited in his absence), he was hounded out of Hollywood and thereafter drifted in the wilderness trying & often failing to raise money for his various, vainglorious endeavours. There is some truth to that of course; by 1947 Welles was a virtual pariah at the major studios. But that didn't stop him working & when he did leave Los Angeles for Europe in the fall of 1947, he was in the midst of editing his adaptation of Macbeth, the quintessential tale of guilt n' murder, for Republic Studios. In her book, Pacios charts the increasingly terse, then full-blown furious correspondence between Welles & Republic brass over his steadfast refusal to return to Hollywood to complete the job be was contractually obliged to do. In the end, as Pacios tells it, producer Richard Wilson was exasperated beyond measure & dispatched film editor Lou Lindsay to Europe to assist Welles in finishing the film. The result was a debacle as locally available equipment wasn't remotely up to the task in hand and the ferrying of film stock from one side of the world to the other was a logistical nightmare. The experience proved so traumatic for Lindsay, the poor man was not only driven to the verge of a nervous breakdown by Welles' irrational behaviour, he never edited another movie and became a William Morris agent instead. (Conflicting reports claim that much against his will, Welles did return to L.A. to trim 20 minutes from Macbeth). Welles remained in largely self-imposed exile for 10years, only returning to Hollywood in 1956 to direct "Touch Of Evil" and pursue various other acting & directing projects. There's no doubt that Welles had good reason to turn his back on Tinseltown - his contract with Republic notwithstanding - but Pacios unearths another detail of his behaviour that aside from his naturalfy capricious nature, surpasses all understanding. In October 1947, shortly before he left for Europe, Welles contacted the California College Of Mortuary Science requesting a list of requirements for admission, details on securing an embalmer's licence & prospects for employment as an apprentice in a mortuary. Before it was dumped. The Black Dahlia's body had been completely drained of blood. Just as it would have been in preparation for embalming.

The Black Dahlia continues to haunt Hollywood, but these days less as symbolic martyr. Elizabeth Short, the patron saint of every aspiring starlet ever to have her spirit crushed (not to mention her face slashed, her breasts burnt with cigarettes, rope burns on her wrists & ankles, 'BD' carved deeply into her left thigh, her body cleaved in 2 and most repugnantly of all: grass, pubic hair & a cut piece of flesh - with either a rose tattoo or red birthmark on it - inserted into her vagina with the final vulgar indignity of being sodomized post-mortem) is now a kitsch cultural icon served by a cottage industry of tacky memorabilia vendors, enterprising tattoo artists, website obsessives, armchair detectives & guided tour operators. It is unlikely that we'd remember her name if not for the appalling circumstances of her torture & death. Even the venerable Biltmore has cashed in, offering a suitably queasy concoction called 'The Black Dahlia martini' (a mix of Grey Goose Citron Vodka, Chambord & Kahlua, with an orange-peel garnish) in its cloistered Gallery Bar. As for Orson Welles, he suffered his own long lingering death which, if not as horrific as Short's, was in its way just as pitiable. Was he The Black Dahlia murderer? Almost certainly not. But it's testament to how powerful a hold on the imagination Short still has that anyone would even attempt to make such a case. So famous is her murder that there is a natural temptation to credit her killer with equal notoriety. Asks Pacios: "Was Welles the killer? I don't know. And the one piece of evidence that could have contained the killer's DNA - the packet of items from her purse, has been lost from the police files. But yes, I think Welles is a viable suspect. If he were alive today, I'd ask him if Bette's was his handiwork." It seems crazy to think it was. Nevertheless, here tantalizingly, are the words of the eulogy Welles spoke at Darryl F. Zanuck's funeral in 1979: "If I did something really outrageous, if I committed some abominable crime - which I believe is in most of us to do under the right circumstances - if I were guilty of something unspeakable and if all the police in the world were after me, there was one man & only one man I could come to and that was Darryl. He would not have made me a speech about the good of the industry or the good of the studio. He would not have been mealymouthed or put me aside. He would have hidden me under the bed. Very simply, he was a friend." According to Pacios, Zanuck had assisted Welles in his move to Europe...


1. RESTLESS SPIRIT



2. HAZY AROUND THE EDGES & HALF PAST DEAD
3. FATHER OF THE SINS?
"Supposin' I did kill the Black Dahlia. They couldn't prove it now. They can't talk to my secretary anymore because she's dead... They thought there was something fishy. Anyway, now they may have figured it out. Killed her. Maybe I did kill my secretary..."
-George Hodel, recorded Feb 18, 1950.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 IN REWIND



A splattering of some of the news n' names that rounded out this year: Rob Ford; Toronto cop Sgt. Ryan Russell; Jack Leyton; Arab Spring in the MidEast with Egypt & Syria; Muammar Gaddafi; earthquake, tsunami & nuclear meltdown crisis in Japan; African famine; flooding in the Phillipines; tornadoes in Mississippi & Alabama; U.S. woes over the retail slumps, budget, unemployment, deficit & recession; Gabrielle Giffords & Jared Lee Loughner; Anthony 'Weinergate'; Arnold Schwarzenegger; Angry Birds; iPad 2; SlutWalk; flashmobs; London riots n' looting in the UK; Athens riots over Greek debt & defaulting; financial problems in Ireland, Spain & Portugal; (self indulgent?) worldwide "We are the 99 percent" Occupy movement; overhyped Royal Wedding trumped by Pippa Middleton's ass & Beatrice's hat; reality whore & talentless Kim Kardashian's stupid 72-day publicity-stunt marriage to Kris Humphries; 85yr old Hugh Hefner ditched at the altar by 25yr old fiancee Crystal Harris; Toronto Zoo elephants & Bob Barker; Maple Leaf Gardens re-opens as a Loblaws; Stanley Cup riot in Vancouver; NHL concussions and enforcers Derek Boogarde, Rick Rypien & Wade Belak; Lokomotiv Yaroslavl; last day of the pro baseball regular season; NBA labour dispute; Penn State & Syracuse Univ. sex scandals; Osama Bin Laden; Anders Behring Breivik; Dr. Conrad Murray; Donald Trump vs. Barack Obama birth certificate controversy; Charlie Sheen; Lindsay Lohan; Dominique Strauss-Kahn; final launch of Space Shuttle 'Atlantis'; meddling Parents Television Council; Peter Kent's (hypocritical?) Kyoto Accord announcement; TTC subway sex; Roller Derby World Cup; Casey Anthony; Amanda Knox; Gerard Depardieu's airline pissing douchebaggery; Andy Rooney; Steve Jobs; Amy Winehouse joins the '27 Club'; Christopher Hitchens; Vaclav Havel; Kim Jong Il & Kim Jong Un; Metallica & Lou Reed team up; REM calls it quits; Harry Potter comes to an end; official end of the war in Iraq...

Sunday, November 27, 2011

NOVEMBER 27, 1911 (HOOK 'EM FROM SIDE STAGE AND BRING DOWN THE CURTAIN)


100yrs ago today, the 1st recorded occurrence of a US audience throwing vegetables at actors took place. Predating vaudeville, the custom was once described by noted author Washington Irving (The Legend of Sleepy Hollow) as audiences expressing displeasure by "stamping, hissing, roaring, whistling and occasionally groaning in cadence to throw apples, nuts & ginger-bread at the stage." These were actually sold to the audience & while the intention of the real weapon meant may have been 'the mass protest of ridicule', the food products soon turned to eggs, rotten produce & tomatoes making for a much harsher attack. As far back as Shakespearean plays during the Elizabethan era, those who would pelt the actors or for that matter, anyone connected with theatre was considered unsavory. Theatre audiences in the early 19th century were boisterous, loud & unattentive. Prostitutes plied their trade pretty openly in the balcony & patrons in the crowd routinely heckled the actors so much that the stage performers would drop character to fire back at the harassing criticism. People often paid more attention to others & unruliness in the audience than the performances as belligerence often led to fighting. Thrown objects were derived from oppurtunity: People brought what they had to eat & if they turned their items into sudden aerial projectiles, it was out of disapproval. If they were planning on booing & hissing (a much common occurence), they would naturally bring food - now garbage - and sometimes rain such a shower of debris, that actors were forced to run quickly for the sides to shield themselves from the blows. Balconies (before microphones & opera glasses) were typically the cheap seats & worst in a theatre catering to the lower classes -- even rowdier than those in the orchestra sections. With their clearest view of the stage, those in the upper levels naturally had the best shot for their propensity to throw from the decks what was the most common snack of the time: peanuts (hence the term 'peanut gallery'). Audiences quieted down by the end of the century but the tradition had been established.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Remembering the armistice & when the guns fell silent. Never forget how a lost generation marched off into madness.




Monday, October 10, 2011

Crazy weather, heightened atmosphere & insane action.

September 3, 2000
Week 1 / Cowboys 14 vs. Eagles 41, aka "PICKLE JUICE GAME"

The Cowboys season home-opener against Philadelphia was played in a scorching 109°F. The game started with an onside Eagles kick which QB Donovan McNabb moments later, threw a 1 yard TD. A humiliating rout began and Dallas QB Troy Aikman finished with a brutal day: lasting only 5 passes, completing none with 1 interception returned for a TD, and sacked 4 times on 6 hits. He left the game during the 2nd half with a concussion. Former Eagles QB Randall Cunningham replaced Aikman and the Cowboys running game was anemic with RB Emmitt Smith held to just 29 yards on 7 carries while (former Toronto Argonaut) WR Raghib “Rocket” Ismael led the team with only 33 yards on 2 rushes. Philadelphia ran for a total of 306 yards, and the unusual nickname for the game was the result of Eagle players drinking pickle juice to keep cool, hydrated & avoid cramping.

September 19, 1971
Week 1 / Saints 24 vs. Rams 20

The hottest temperature ever recorded in an NFL game (130°F) occured coincidentally with New Orleans QB Archie Manning's pro debut. The Saints were in their 5th season and had just installed AstroTurf which raised heat levels even higher due to the city's subtropical climate. Manning went on to run a 1 yard TD in the game and prevailed over the heavily favored Rams -- in part to New Orleans wearing their white uniform at home, leaving the visitors no choice but to wear their darker jerseys which made them bake in the sweltering Bayou weather. Manning played for the Saints for a full decade and during his tenure in New Orleans, he was at the helm for 9 losing seasons. Still, before eventually moving on to Houston & Minnesota, he was usually one of the few marquee players on a very dreadful long-suffering Saints team which at times was an all-out laughingstock.

September 21, 2003
Week 3 / Cardinals 20 vs. Packers 13

With temperatures at 102°F at kickoff and reaching 106°F by the beginning of the 4th quarter, the Cardinals secured their first win of the season at their aptly named Sun Devil Stadium. Arizona's upset over Green Bay in the searing heat, saw Packers QB Brett Favre go 23-of-33 for 226 yards (including 1 TD and 1 interception). He entered the game 35-1 when weather is 34°C or colder, and 12-18 when weather is above 70°F. (It was also Green Bay's second 100+ degree game, since their 102°F matchup with San Diego back in September 1978). Speaking to the media afterwards, Packers coach Mike Sherman refused to blame his team's loss on the heat, saying instead the Cardinals simply played better.

September 25, 2011
Week 3 / Panthers 16 vs. Jaguars 10

What began like any typical sunny day, quickly turned ugly as 4 inches of rain fell in less than an hour by the 2nd quarter. The downpour transformed the field into a slippery, sliding, soupy surface which slowed the game to a crawl. The slick, puddle-filled mess had players hydroplaning & kicking up walls of water as they hit the ground on tackles. Wetness also made gripping the football difficult as the Jags fumbled 3 snaps but luckily recovered each one. Carolina's drafted rookie QB Cam Newton secured his first victory finishing 18 for 34, totalling 158 yards.

November 13, 2005
Week 10 / Bears 17 vs. 49ers 9

One of the windiest games ever happened appropriately enough in the "Windy City" with field goals nearly impossible, as well as kicks that appeared to go down the middle only to be blown quickly to the sidelines. With gusts reaching 47mph, footballs rolled like tumbleweeds and at times, even the goal posts looked like they would tip over & snap. Wild wind comically roared through on-field mics, blew off the refs' caps and sent hot dog wrappers scattering across Soldier Field. San Fran's offense entered the match dead last in the league in yardage and pitifully it showed as after 2 runs, they were penalized for too many men in the huddle then a delay of game. On the final play of the 1st half, the Bears (looking oddly like the Denver Broncos, decked out in orange) secured the lead for good when a missed San Fran 52 yard field goal attempt was returned deep in the end zone for a rambling 108 yard TD past a swarm of bodies. The stunning run became the longest play in NFL history (beating the previous record of 107 yards set by Baltimore in 2002 which also came from a missed field goal). The blustery loss for the 49ers took one casualty as their S Tony Parrish broke his left leg which ended his 8 year streak at 121 consecutive starts.

November 26, 2007
Week 12 / Steelers 3 vs. Dolphins 0

Called "MONDAY NIGHT MUD", Pittsburgh had recently re-sodded their field while Miami had entered with a dysmal 0-11 record. What followed was both laughable & a snoozer. A torrential rainstorm the night before had left the fresh turf horrendously soaked with little to no drainage and the game was further delayed for almost 30 minutes due to lightning. The Monday Night contest also earned 2 dubious distinctions as the lowest scoring game since 1993 & the longest scoreless tie (at 59 minutes until the final 17 seconds of the game) since 1943.

December 10, 1972
Week 13 / Vikings 7 vs. Packers 23

In the driver’s seat for the NFC Central title & their first playoff berth since the Vince Lombardi era of domination, the Packers clinched both in the -18°C wind chill, in what was the 7th coldest game in NFL history. Trailing 7-0 at the half, Green Bay took control with a 17-point 3rd quarter and their defense held the Vikings to just 144 total yards. All 4 Minnesota possessions in the 2nd half involved turnovers including 3 interceptions thrown by Vikings QB Fran Tarkenton. [The week before saw the Vikings beat Chicago 23-10 in what was the 6th coldest game in NFL history with a wind chill of -26°C].

December 16, 2007
Week 15 / Browns 8 vs. Bills 0

In a near blizzard, both teams were in a race for the wild card with Cleveland sporting a 6-1 home record while the Bills had won their last 6 of 8. The snow didn't stop falling (having started 90 minutes before kickoff & actually blowing sideways off Lake Erie) and visibility grew worse -- making the Browns' stadium look like a snow globe -- as the game went on. Amazingly, there were no turnovers and the QB's finished the day 22-of-57 for 258 yards passing. Buffalo suffered their first shutout loss since 2003, with the day's defeat also knocking them out of the playoff race. For Cleveland, the shutout victory was their first since 2005.

December 18, 1983
Week 16 / Bears 23 vs. Packers 21

In what turned out to be former QB Bart Starr’s last game as Packers head coach, Green Bay held onto a 4th quarter 21-20 lead with just 3:18 remaining but missed a chance to tie for the NFC Central title, and possibly make the playoffs when the Bears hit a late game-winning field goal (redemption after their missed attempt in the 3rd quarter) with only 10 seconds left. Inspite of the -15°C wind chill, 4 interceptions thrown by the Packers and their connection on just 10 of 30 passes was a heartache that had many believing Starr might have coached a 10th season -- and possibly beyond, in green n' gold -- if Chicago had been denied victory.

December 22, 1990
Week 16 / Packers 17 vs. Lions 24

The 10th coldest game in NFL history was fittingly played in Green Bay (with its home turf not named the "frozen tundra" for nothing). With both teams tied 7-7 at the half, the Packers took a 17-10 lead after 3 quarters but a costly fumble which was scooped up & returned for a 22 yard Lions TD, would spell their demise. With 1:39 left in the game, Green Bay then threw an interception at the goal line which resulted in one of 5 straight losses to end their season. In his 2nd season in the league, sophomore Detroit RB Barry Sanders capped the day with 133 yards including a 6 yard TD run.

December 26, 1993
Week 17 / Packers 28 vs. Raiders 0

In their final home game of the regular season, the Packers clinched a playoff berth for the first time in over a decade. The post-Christmas match-up with its -22°C wind chill was the 8th coldest game in NFL history and is perhaps best remembered not for the shutout drubbing L.A. took but what emerged as a joyous tradition: In the 4th quarter, Green Bay recovered a Raiders fumble which in turn was lateraled to Packers S Leroy Butler. Butler took it 25 yards for a TD & subsequently (and spontaneously) jumped into the south end zone bleacher stands, into the inviting arms of elated fans -- for what is now known as the "Lambeau Leap."

December 31, 1988
NFC Championship Game / Bears 20 vs. Eagles 12, aka "FOG BOWL"

Late in the 2nd quarter, a dense mist had set in which didn't stop and by the 4th quarter, visibility dropped from 10-20 yards. Players could barely see the sidelines or first down markers and the ref had to announce each play over the mic. Even though his team lost, Eagles QB Randall Cunningham still threw for 407 yards. As an interesting side note, Eagles coach Buddy Ryan was the former defensive coordinator for coach Mike Ditka's Bears when Chicago won Super Bowl XX in 1986. The 2 men had a hostile & antagonistic relationship, having often feuded openly. The bad blood even spilled over resulting in them having to be separated by players during a 1985 Monday Night broadcast vs. Miami, when Ditka challenged Ryan to a fight during halftime.

January 3, 2010
Week 17 / Bills 30 vs. Colts 7

Never a stranger to the winter frost, the Bills played host to this regular season finale with a whopping 8 inches of snow falling on the field. In the backdrop of near whiteout conditions, Buffalo QB Ryan Fitzpatrick threw 3 TD's in the first half & while his team saw victory (also ending a 6 game losing streak to the Colts), the Bills still missed the playoffs for a 10th straight year. Colts QB Peyton Manning was 14 for 18 totaling only 95 yards & was replaced by his rookie backup. Having reached a spectacular 14-0 record & the playoffs not in jeopardy, Indianapolis as the AFC's top seed ended their season by losing their final 2 games -- both forgettable duds -- thus having squandered a chance to become the 6th NFL team to win 15 games in one season.

January 4, 1997
NFC Divisional Playoff Game / Packers 35 vs. 49ers 14, aka "MUD BOWL"

An unfortunate mix of rain & snow created soggy, sloshy and sloppy conditions that had the players feeling like they were working in quicksand. The Packers finished with just 79 passing yards while the 49ers totaled 196 yards, but aside from both offenses seemingly stuck in the muck (the longest completion of the day was only an 18 yard Packers reception), costly San Fran penalties & their 5 turnovers and Green Bay's outstanding special teams proved to be the deciding factors in the final outcome. 49ers starting QB Steve Young did not play, later acknowledging he had 2 broken ribs suffered during San Fran's wild-card win over Philadelphia the week before.

January 7, 1996
AFC Divisional Playoff Game / Chiefs 7 vs. Colts 10

The previous day saw 3 inches of snowfall and in what was the 3rd coldest game in NFL history, little could Kansas City have known that weather and a wind chill of -9°C wouldn't be the only bummer. The Chiefs held both the league's best defense & best regular season record at 13-3 (unbeaten at home) and were heavily favored to win, particularly since Indy's star RB Marshall Faulk was inactive due to injury. From the struggling start, the teams traded punts on the first 4 possessions and nearing game's end, the Chiefs' QB was replaced by the backup after throwing 3 interceptions (4 turnovers total). In addition, KC missed 3 crucial field goals & failed to stall the clock with under 5 minutes to play, en route to a Colts upset inspite of the low-scoring affair. While they escaped with the victory, Indianapolis blew a chance to increase their lead with 2 missed field goals of their own.

Jan 10, 1988
NFC Divisional Playoff Game / Bears 17 vs. Redskins 21

Both teams entered with an 11-4 record and this was Chicago RB-great Walter Payton's last game of his legendary Hall of Fame career. With the wind chill at -12°C, he helped to put the Bears up 14-0 as his QB Jim McMahon got off to a ready start but by halftime, Washington had tied the score with their QB Doug Williams looking to take charge. The Redskins went ahead with a 52 yard punt return TD and the Bears were shut down as McMahon never regained his rhythm as he threw 3 interceptions in the 2nd half & was sacked 5 times in total. At the final gun, Payton sat on the bench alone & officially retired while McMahon looked stunned. Speaking to reporters afterwards, Bears coach Mike Ditka was more respectful of what Washington had done than what his team had not done. The Redskins victory was the 2nd consecutive year of eliminating the Bears to move on to the NFC championship game, and the advancement was also the 4th time in 7 years under Joe Gibbs as coach.

January 10, 2004
AFC Divisional Playoff Game / Patriots 17 vs Titans 14

With bitter temperatures dropping to a wind chill of -16°C in a game known as "THE BIG CHILL", New England led 14-7 at halftime for what was their coldest game in team history. The first 10,000 people into Foxborough's Gillette Stadium gates were given free hand-warmers and the usual ban on blankets & sleeping bags was lifted. Barbecue grills typically used for tailgating in the parking lots were pressed into duty as space heaters & free coffee was a precious luxury. Amusingly, fans were further serenaded with Frank Sinatra's "Summer Wind" and teased by video of a roaring fire on the scoreboard.

January 12, 2008
NFC Divisional Playoff Game / Packers 42 vs. Seahawks 20

In a slushy mess of heavy piling snow, and having postponed retirement to try for another Super Bowl ring, this rematch from January 2004 saw Packer QB Brett Favre having a banner night (as well as some fun, frolicking in the flurries by throwing snowballs on the sideline at a teammate for good measure). Despite falling behind 14–0 after only 4 minutes in the 1st due to 2 fumbles, Green Bay went on to gain 400 yards of offense & scored TD's on 6 consecutive drives (posting their biggest point total in team playoff history). Seattle -- who seemed primed for an upset -- was limited to just 200 total yards. Favre joined 49ers QB Joe Montana as the lone players to pass for more than 5000 yards in the postseason while the Seahawks fell to 0-7 in postseason road games (their last win coming in 1983).

January 15, 1994
AFC Divisional Playoff Game / Bills 29 vs. Raiders 23

This was the coldest game in Bills franchise history & the 9th coldest in NFL history. With an iced-over field & a frigid wind chill of -32°C, after a scoreless first quarter, Buffalo overcame a 17–6 Raiders lead by scoring 3 times in a span of 6:18 in the 2nd half. Trailing by a point in the 4th quarter, the Bills came from behind for the victory -- in the process, also winning their 4th straight AFC title. Buffalo QB Jim Kelly threw for 287 yards and said afterwards he had trouble keeping his hands warm in the second half.

January 19, 2002
AFC Divisional Playoff Game / Patriots 16 vs. Raiders 13, aka "TUCK RULE GAME" or "SNOW BOWL"

Played in a heavy snowstorm, The Raiders were dominating with a 13-3 lead in the 4th quarter with 8:00 remaining in the game. Late in the 4th, Patriots QB Tom Brady appeared to fumble on a controversial tackle but upon instant replay, the ref reversed his decision declaring the play an incomplete forward pass which gave possession back to New England. Having fought back & with 27 seconds left in regulation, the Patriots kicked a 45 yard tying field goal sending the game into overtime which New England won through a 61 yard drive in 15 plays culminating in another field goal. Many believe the Pats dynasty was born here but an equal number of Raiders fans (referring to the game as "THE SNOW JOB" stemming from the infamous ruling) believe their miserable outcome was the birth of a curse for while their team went to Super Bowl XXXVII a year later only to lose to Tampa Bay (41-28), from then onward Oakland has yet to return to the playoffs or have a winning season since.

January 20, 2008
NFC Championship Game / Packers 20 vs. Giants 23

Known as "THE CHILLING CHAMPIONSHIP" (it was the 3rd coldest championship game ever), this was QB Brett Favre’s last game as a Packer with the accompanying bone-rattling conditions reaching a whipping wind of temperatures recorded first at -24°C, then falling as low as -32°C. Although the Giants missed 2 potential game-winning field-goal tries in the 4th, they finally capitalized on their 3rd in OT (their longest attempt at 47 yards) as QB Eli Manning finished with 254 yards. Favre threw a 90 yard TD which was the longest pass in Green Bay playoff history but 4 costly penalties came back to haunt them and they were an awful 1-for-10 on 3rd downs. The Giants' improbable frostbitten victory was their 4th NFC championship & their 10th consecutive away-game win while the Green Bay loss was their 3rd in the last 5 at Lambeau Field.

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