“Maybe it’s the choice of music that makes the difference. ‘Dublin soul’ — Irish proles belting out Celtic renditions of the greatest hits of James Brown and Otis Redding — starts as a joke and ends as triumph of creative resourcefulness against unrelenting repression. Or perhaps it’s the setting. After pompously berating American injustices in Mississippi Burning and Come See the Paradise, Parker now moves closer to home. His familiarity with the territory allows him to be funny, exact, and honest, and to set the tale, without preaching, in a disturbing social reality. Whatever the reason, The Commitments is one of the best films about a band ever made (only This Is Spinal Tap is funnier and more insightful), a parable of the necessity and impossibility of redemption, a musical comedy as conceived by Samuel Beckett and Wilson Pickett.”

Different strokes | 20 years ago | September 2, 1986 | Jimmy Guterman compared new Globe cartoonist Dan Wasserman's work to that of long-time staffer Paul Szep.
“It may not be obvious at first glance why Wasserman’s work, which still appears in the pages of 50-odd members of the Los Angeles Times Syndicate, has garnered such acclaim and met with such success. His low-key style doesn’t call attention to itself. His four-frame drawings, like most multiple-unit cartoons, set a scene, advance the action or narrative by the minimal increments such space allows, and twist the end into a joke or a trenchant comment. But unlike Szep’s broad caricatures, Wasserman’s dry work is more self-consciously cerebral. Szep reached artistic maturity at a time when Yippies, assassinations, and Watergate were the lead new stories. His cartooning came of age in far more tumultuous times; the post-’60s period called for bold, pounding commentary. Wasserman, too, is a product of his times: he is subtly savage, a liberal in the conservative ’8os upholding the political cartooning tradition.”

Strange brew | 25 years ago | September 1, 1981 | Michael Bronski interviewed children's author Harry Allard.
“Allard’s literary interests … run to the arcane rather than to the popular. ‘The only thing I know about children’s literature is what I read as a child,’ he says. ‘Most of it doesn’t interest me. When I go to bookstores, I look at the illustrations.’ Perhaps what makes Allard’s books so different is that they seem out of the mainstream; their inspirations are also, to say the least, unusual. ‘Ideas are everyplace. I get mine from reading Proust, Memoirs of a Grand Duchess by Marie of Russia, or biographies of Misia Sert.’…

“Allard’s books are popular not only because they are ‘offbeat’ — the uninspired offbeat becomes stale quickly — but also because of the madness beneath their method. ‘Anything that is didactic or uplifting bores me,’ he says. ‘I like anarchical figures. Children identify with outlaws and outcasts. There was some early criticism that that The Stupids was making fun of the retarded, but it just didn’t hold. The book is successful because children are always under the thumb of adults, and here they can make fun of them.’

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