I Only Trust The Journalism of Country Correspondents

An article on Substack called The Algorithm: The media’s new business model is propaganda explains partly why the media are so untrustworthy–they’re currently seeking readership by reinforcing political and lifestyle narratives and group memberships and because they don’t do any reporting on their own, instead just gleaning what they can from online sources–generally sources biased to their points of view–and regurgitating it in their own words. Basically, journalism as writing college papers.

Unexplored, of course, is the often stated but rarely adequately defended thesis from here at MfBJN, that to the 23-year-old J-school graduates who provide the majority of the print and online content today, putting tweets into paragraph form is journalism because Twitter, YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and whatever comes next is real life to them. It’s what they know.

Which is why I only trust, sometimes, what I read in the nine small town papers I take. Because why would Bonnie lie to me about what happened in Handy, Missouri, last week?

(Link via Ed Driscoll on Instapundit.)

Movie Report: Yes Man (2008)

Book coverIn speaking of the Sandlerverse, the Stillerverse, and now the Ferrellverse, is there such a thing as a Carreyverse? I don’t think so. He played with a lot of A-listers. Also, Tone-Loc. But not the same rotating actors in different movies.

At any rate, in this film, Carrey is a recently divorced man who has withdrawn from his friendships. However, a friend takes him to an empowerment seminar, and the guru tells Carrey that he’s got to say “Yes” whenever he’s asked a question. He does not and has some bad luck, and then starts saying yes, starting by allowing a homeless man to use his phone and to give the homeless man a ride to a remote park, where Carrey runs out of gas and cell phone charge. He’s rescued by a manic pixie girlfriend to be played by Zoey Deschanel, and she likes how spontaneous he seems–they take a weekend getaway to Lincoln, Nebraska, because it’s the first flight out. And his yessing leads to the TSA suspecting he’s a terrorist.

It’s not as crass as a Ferrell film; Carrey’s not at the over-the-top energy of his younger years (what, twenty years from this movie’s release and a full thirty years ago now, old man). His character changes and learns something at the end, something that you don’t always get with a Sandlerverse or Stillerverse picture (and hardly ever with the Ferrellverse).

Too often in my life I’ve said no when asked to do something, go out, or try something new. I have gotten better about it these days, although the things I’m asked to do have diminished somewhat. I’ve tried to instill that wisdom into my children, to take the opportunities to do things when they can instead of staying home and playing video games and reading books as those pastimes can wait. I didn’t watch this movie with them, but the oldest has spotted it and has expressed interest in it, so I might watch it in the coming weeks again. Which is about as good of an endorsement that you get on this blog.

Like Sandler, Carrey has taken some dramatic roles in his time–I saw The Truman Show two or three times in the theater and have seen The Cable Guy. So he brings some depth and intelligence and, well, growing up to his roles or playing grown ups who grow, too. So perhaps I should look more into his later films and get caught up.

Oh, and did someone say “Zooey Deschanel”? Continue reading “Movie Report: Yes Man (2008)”

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From the Imagination of Brian J., I Hope

I cannot help notice that all of a sudden, a lot of people are reading this eleven year old book report on It Happened In Lemay, a comb-bound self-published collection of historical anecdotes and stories about south St. Louis County published by the editor of a tiny little paper in the area.

In my imagination, several people have learned that the book contains clues to a secret of some sort, perhaps a treasure, and they’re desperately trying to find a copy (the copy?) that will lead them to wealth or something. And they will stop at nothing to get it.

Personally, I hope it’s the location of the Yocum Silver Mine so I don’t have to travel too far to find it if I work out the mystery or get caught up in the search.

Of course, the biggest puzzle might turn out to be Where is it on Brian J.’s read shelves? I mean, I read it right after we moved to Nogglestead. Back then, the read shelves were organized, but a lot of time and a thousand books have been added since that sepia-toned time.

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Too Polite To Call Opposition “Liars,” But Not For Long

The new kid at the Daily Gannett sure likes to say people are spreading misinformation, and that’s all you really need to know.

This bit is a particular larf:

But the database does not track death specifically attributable to the COVID-19 vaccine. Instead, it tracks “all serious adverse events following vaccination against COVID-19 — regardless of whether the vaccines are to blame.”

Therefore, any death that occurs after one is vaccinated could be counted in the VAERS system. According to VAERS’ website, the database is “not designed to determine if a vaccine caused a health problem.”

Silly reader! You only count deaths from the virus that way, not deaths from the vaccine!

Oh, noes, I am spreading misinformation. Perhaps I shall be disparaged by a 23-year-old J-school graduate for exercising my rights and earn a scarlet M.

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Movie Report: Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006)

Book coverI had seen this film before–hopefully on cable or rental and not on a DVD since I just bought a DVD for a buck or two and don’t need a backup copy. I recently hit an antique mall and bought a number of DVDs for $1.50 or $2.00 each–cheaper than at a Branson thrift store, but maybe not for long once they start drying up or people start dropping streaming services.

At any rate, this film is the story of a racecar driver, Ricky Bobby (Will Ferrell), who wanted to be a driver like his father who abandoned the family. He’s given a chance on a last-ranked team to take over mid-race when the apathetic driver abandons the car and crew. It starts his rise to fame and fortune and marrying a cocktail waitress and their family. Along for the ride is his best friend from boyhood played by John C. Reilly who often comes in second behind Ricky Bobby. When the team hires a French Formula 1 racer, Bobby has an accident that leaves him unable to drive. Which causes his wife to leave him for John C. Reilly. Until he can race again, when he is redeemed. C’mon, man, the plot’s not really the point.

The point is to watch Ferrell, Reilly, and the cast behaving outlandishly and boorishly to comic effect. It’s crass, and it would probably not get made today, but it’s amusing in spots.

You know, I think I have mentioned the Stillerverse–the comedies with Ben Stiller and his normal crew, and the Sandlerverse, with Adam Sandler and his crew. But the Ferrellverse is also a thing, with the films that he makes with John C. Reilly. Of course, the more I revisit these films, the more overlap I find, although none of the Sandler or Stiller crews appear in this movie.

Will I rewatch it? Well, I did this time. And I did not watch it with my boys as I was not sure whether it was too crass for them. But probably not. So one of these days perhaps we’ll watch it together.

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How Will It Affect The Children?

James Lileks reflects on living at Jasperwood:

Ordinary day, with some exciting developments I will relate in exactly 32 days. It’s Daughter’s birthday on Friday – she’s 21 now. Considering embarassing her on Twitter about it.

Odd how it seems like a long time ago, and also not. Why? Perhaps because we never moved. Jasperwood has provided an endless series of unremarkable constants. The sound of the gate latch, the way the drawer in the hallway makes a squeak when pulled out or shoved in. The same dining room for all the big family events. The same bedroom, which she left with things that represent her now, and also make me recall an array of plastic My Little Ponys on the windowsill. It’s all there, 21 years, just behind the most recent tick of the clock.

That means his daughter has basically grown up with a childhood home. I wonder how that affects one’s psyche.

I mean, in my first twenty-one years, I went from apartment->housing projects->living with friends for a couple months before decamping to Missouri after my parents’ divorce->living in my aunt’s basement->living in the trailer park->living in down the gravel road->living in my father’s basement for college. To finish out the streak, as an adult I moved back into the house down the gravel road after college->living in my other aunt’s empty house with my mother->getting a place of my own->rental house after marriage->the house in Casinoport for seven years->the house in Old Trees for three years->Nogglestead.

My beautiful wife has a similar history as her father got a job in government service when he was younger, so promotions took them around Michigan and later down to Missouri.

I wonder if our children have a greater sense of security than I ever developed, what, with an intact family and a single home that they remember (although they see pictures of themselves in Old Trees, they don’t remember it).

We haven’t even changed it a whole lot–the carpeting, old as it was, is still what we inherited, and we have not rearranged the furniture much at all because large furniture pieces and bookshelves kind of dictate the layout. So not only is it the same house, it mostly looks the same as it has for most of their youth.

At any rate, that’s something I muse on, and since Musings is right in the title of this blog (and has been for seventeen and a half years, longer than my children have been alive but not by much), I thought I’d share it.

Lileks’ Bleat today also hints at big changes coming on September 1; given the wistful, reflective, and nostalgic/melancholic tone, I’m betting he’s moving to Arizona or wherever. What do the oddsmakers in Las Vegas say?

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Book Report: Poetics South by Ann Deagon (1974)

Book coverI got this book at the spring Friends of the Library book sale, and when I was looking for a volume of poetry to read (aside from the complete works of Keats, Shelley, and Marvell that I have read a couple of and put aside as well as a couple other collections), I picked it up because this was the first of my recent purchases I’ve found.

The poet is in her middle age in 1974; she talks about getting laid in 1947, so that makes her my grandmother’s age. So although I don’t generally mind poems about sex–I mean, I’ve written one or two of my own–the thought of a grandmother writing about oral sex made it kind of squicky.

The poems are all right; a step above true grandmother poetry. I know, I know, you can’t wait for me to tell you how long the lines are: Well, she has some shorter-lined poems and some that are sentency length in longer narrative poems (not Childe Harolde or even “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” length–just a couple of pages). Unfortunately, the poems are written for the page and not the mouth, so they lack the alliteration, rhythm, and word play that make a good spoken poem. And I try to speak all the poems I read, sometimes out loud and sometimes only in my head, but I do. Blame it on being raised by Nuyorican street poets, at least in my performative years.

The author has won numerous prizes, the back flap tells us. My first Internet look for her did not come up with a lot of information, but a search this morning showed that she published numerous books and won prizes as late as 2015. So she must have some regional recognition. So perhaps I’ll bump into something else she’s written sometime, but given her nexus is the northern southeast, perhaps not.

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Movie Report: The Assault on Precinct 13 (2005)

Book coverWell, apparently I went on an Ethan Hawke streak after my Andie MacDowell streak (MultiplicityFour Weddings and a Funeral). I watched this film not long after Reality Bites, so I got more Ethan Hawke in one week than most people. And I lived to tell the tale.

This film is a remake of an older film (from 1976). I am pretty sure I saw the older film a long time ago, but I got it confused with Fort Apache, The Bronx, a Paul Newman film that I found in my video library pretty easily, accidentally even while dusting this weekend. I’m not sure I have the older Assault on Precinct 13 on physical media, but one never knows. My video library is in worse disorder than my books.

So: It’s New Year’s Eve, and the police department of Detroit (not LA, as in the original) is decommissioning a station house. Everything has been moved out, almost, since the new precinct house opens on January 1, but a couple of police officers have to maintain presence until midnight. Ethan Hawke’s character once led a team of undercover detectives working narcotics, but after a bust gone bad that left his team dead and he wounded, he ended up with a desk job. Brian Dennehy is the guy retiring. Drea de Matteo is another cop. Maria Bello plays the Mary Ellen Trainor role, the police psychiatrist treating Ethan Hawke’s character. Originally not supposed to be at the station, her car has trouble outside as a Storm of the Century is brewing. A local crime lord, played by Larry Fishbourne and named Bishop for the irony (not just in being named for an ecclesiastical office, but the lead police officer in the original film was named Bishop) is getting transferred before trial, but the sheriff’s bus has to find a port in the storm, so it brings its load of prisoners to the soon-to-be closed, nearly empty police station for the storm to abate. And the people trying to silence Bishop can attack with impunity.

So it’s a bit of a castle defense movie–the cast arm themselves with whatever sidearms they have and whatever they can pick up on assailants. The attacks come in waves, each getting repulsed, but numerous name stars die. The head of the precinct releases and arms the prisoners to help with the defense. Someone inside the building is a traitor! And a handful of people, including the top cop and the top bad guy, who is not only a bad guy but also speaks witha Buddha-like wisdom. You know, kinda like Morpheus.

The film is updated from the 1976 version: It’s set in Detroit, which allows them to set it during a Great Blizzard which, in all honesty looks like a few flakes. I mean, there’s like two inches of snow on the ground, max. But it’s a big deal and cars are sliding off the road, it’s too dangerous to travel, but, hey, watch this sniper climb to the peak of a snow-covered roof and run across it like it’s nothing. Also, instead of gangs, the armed assailants are crooked cops who fear Bishop will testify against them in his trial. So it’s updated to a more modern feel, yeah–reading the Wikipedia entry for the original, one can sense the 70s zeitgeist–the sort of washed out colors, the looming threat of unchecked crime and lawlessness and decay, where the antagonists are criminals and not cops. Of course, if the film were made now, it would be unvaccinated white supremecists shambling toward the precinct, and all the police inside would be social workers who would somehow prevail.

Not a bad actioner, and not a lot of Message in it, which was nice.

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No Pronouncement On The Satanic Nature of the Olympics

A couple years ago, a local pastor got the news media and its readers/viewers into a bit of a dudgeon by pointing out that yoga has its roots in another religion, and hence could be considered Satanic or demonic.

One could apply that interpretation to the Olympics as well, which were originally a festival to honor Zeus.

When commenting on the previous story, I said:

I am pretty sure that there’s a whole commandment about not following other religions somewhere, and I didn’t see any footnotes in it about it being okay to follow other religions’ practices with your fingers crossed or not believing in the actual ontology behind the practices. It doesn’t matter if Asherah poles help with television reception. They’re still the practices of another religion, and a lot of bad things happen in the old testament when Israel does something similar.

Rob K. pointed out the non-Christian origins of some of Christmas symbols and Christian calendar come from non-Christian sources.

It’s a conundrum, to be sure, how far to carry the eschewment of things whose origins lie outside Christianity and in other religions and their practices.

But the important thing is that I have a unique hot take on something that seemed more clever as I was going to sleep last night and which probably could be written better later in the morning.

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Movie Reports: Four Weddings and a Funeral (1993) and Reality Bites (1994)

Book coverApparently, I had a brief Andie MacDowell movie kick; I watched Multiplicity, and then I followed it up with this film. As you might remember, gentle reader, I read the screenplay in May 2020. Now that I’ve read the screenplays for Firefly, I can see that I am not cut out to be a film writer as I have a train of thought that generally would barrel right through a bunch of these scenes/shots/snippets of dialog.

But that, gentle reader, is further comment on modern screenplays and not so much on this film qua film. Well, it’s definitely a self-contained universe. Hugh Grant’s Charles is late (always) to weddings, and when he goes to one where he’s the best man, he forgets the rings and then falls in love with the American Carrie (different from the Kingian Carrie) played by MacDowell before or during hooking up with her. When friends who get together at this wedding marry a couple months later, Carrie and Charles meet again–and Carrie introduces her fiance. At her wedding a couple months later, the guy that I remembered dies dies; at his funeral, they recite an Auden poem. At the fourth wedding, Charles with an old lover with whom he’s gotten betrothed only to discover Carrie is separated from her husband, and he leaves his fiancee at the altar to rekindle his romance with the American woman with 33 total sexual partners. Because that’s how we do things in America, y’all.

As I mentioned, I probaby saw this film when I was single, dating a girl who liked these kinds of movies (and took a movie appreciation class which meant I’ve also seen The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari), and when the film was relatively contemporary. Looking at it now, I think the characters are all rather superficial. Perhaps that’s a bit of the structure of it–just the four weddings and a funeral–but, c’mon, man, you get a better sense of who everyone in Wedding Crashers or The Wedding Singer is outside of the formal ceremonies.

Yeah, I didn’t like it. And I fear I’m still more Hugh Grant than Cary Grant.

Book coverRight on the tails of Four Weddings and a Funeral, I popped in Reality Bites to see how shallow popular culture presented us as/wanted us to be in the early middle 1990s. I had just read Severian’s recommendation of this movie, although I guess he said:

But since thinking about Singles only reminds me of Reality Bites (1994), which, in an uber-90s meta move, is a near-contemporary sludgy parody of Singles, let’s move on.

[I’ll leave it to y’all to discuss the merits of Reality Bites as a slice-of-90s-life. I got dragged to it by my college girlfriend, and y’all, it was painful. For one, it’s a bad movie — one of the least funny “comedies” you’ll ever see. For two, Ethan Hawke really nailed his character; that pseudo-badboy douchebag was everywhere in the 90s; that part is spot on, and imagine really living with that guy. For three, my girlfriend truly believed she was the Wynona Ryder character, but she was really the Janeane Garofalo character, and though Garofalo wasn’t as insufferable about politics back then, she was twice as insufferable about everything else. I’m sure you’ll be shocked to learn that we broke up not long after this date.

I guess that’s not a recommendation after all, but I got what I came for in punishment and self-flagellation.

I had not seen this before, being not of the urban contemporary cool cohort. I didn’t watch Friends, either.

So. The overarching story is that Winona Ryder’s Leliana gives the valodictorian speech from her college (although Valodictorian is a high school thing, ainna? I remember who my college graduation speaker was only because it wasn’t me, but that’s because the university didn’t even consider me as the speaker when I nominated myself) and says she’s going to change the world. She’s taking videos of her friends throughout, so that will be important. She ends up working as a producer on a morning program with an old man and an old audience, and she hates it; she lives with a girlfriend played by a young Janeane Garafolo. Another friend, Ethan Hawke’s starving, conflicted musician character, moves in when he loses another entry-level job. Steve Zahn is the other bit of their quartet, but he turns out to be gay. Leliana throws a cigarette out her window into the car of a young YUPPIE (alright, you cannot have an old Yuppie, I know, it’s redundant) who crashes into her while trying to put out a small fire in his convertible. Okay, there’s your thing: The young woman with pretentions meets an executive at a cable network. Does she love the guy with the job or the guy with the guitar? C’mon, man, follow your heart. Or maybe it’s best if you have a liberal arts degree to do so. She shows the tapes/edited documentary called Reality Bites to her boyfriend with the network, and the network cuts it to, you know, television, so she ends up with the guitar guy.

I mean, in 1994, I would have been about to be or freshly out of an expensive university (so expensive, gentle reader, that you know I say When I was at the university). I worked a full-time job through most of college, and then a job or a job and a half after college not working in my field, but making enough to keep gas in my car and my student loans paid (thanks to my sainted mother and aunt for the use of real estate for a couple of years until I lucked into a career). So when Leeloonooomrbill quits dramatically from a good job where she thought she was the stuff, not the on-air talent with years’ of experience and a dedicated audience, I balked. When she chooses the guy who can quote old television shows and some books over the guy with the job, I was all like, “Nah.”

You know, it’s probably a matter of time more than a matter of class distinction, but I don’t sympathize with these kids, either.

Jeez, was mass culture trying to make us that simple even then?

The aforementioned Severian has postulated that pop culture tends to be made by the previous generation, for the most part, and I add that sometimes it might be them trying to relive their callow youth in the present. The movie presents a couple of anachronisms for sure. The songs “My Sharona” and “Tempted”, for example; for someone who graduated in 1993-1994, we’re talking something that came on the radio when they were nine or ten. They discuss individual episodes of Good Times which went off of the air when they were, what, eight years old? Sure, it was in syndication for a bit, but not that much. I saw it a couple of times in the 1980s. This irked me in 13 Going On 30 in 2004. It irks me now.

So, yeah, I was not impressed with either of the films. Which is weird: One would think that I, a man who met his beautiful wife through poetry would appreciate a smart-talking, artsy guy getting the girl. But, gentle reader, even then, I had a job. Or two.

So enough of these “serious” movies. I’m back to comedies and actioners from before the turn of the century.

 

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Apparently, Without My Profligacy, It Collapsed

After more than 40 years, YMCA ends used book fair:

There are no more chapters for the YMCA book fair. Canceled last year because of the coronavirus pandemic, it won’t be back. Last year would have been its 42nd annual sale.

Run by hundreds of volunteers, the fair raised some $2.6 million for literacy and other programs over its four decades, says Caroline Mitchell, executive director of the organization’s community development.

But late last year, the group decided to sell its old Carondelet building, where it used to store books, CDs, DVDs and other donations during the year. Earlier this year, volunteers were informed that the book fair would not continue, Mitchell says.

As you know, gentle reader, I visited this book sale several years when I lived in the St. Louis area, including a couple of years when it was in the old Carondelet building and once when it was moved out to southwest county past St. Anthony’s Hospital. I have not been there in years, however, which might have contributed to this decision.

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Apparently, That’s Very Brian J. Of Me

I mentioned the other day to my beautiful wife as we left the Walmart that I always parked in the same place so I never had to look for my car. She said that was quite like me, which I assume means efficient and a life hack for the Internet..

I mean, it’s not exactly the same place every time, but it’s close, especially for the places I go all the time. At Walmart in Republic, I park in the last row of cars with the nose pointed to the right, the very edge of the parking lot. At Walmart in Springfield, it’s one row to the left of the south doors right across from the Lot Cop portable camera cart. At Pricecutter, it’s one row to the right of the west doors on the right. At Sam’s Club, it’s the first west-driving row.

Unless I cannot, I point the nose into the right so I can see out of the rear window better when I am backing out of the space, which eliminates half of the lot generally when parking in place I don’t go normally.

C’mon, man, what do “normal” people do? Just park anywhere and have to look for their cars every time?

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Movie Report: Multiplicity (1996)

Book coverYou’re right, gentle reader; I am watching a lot of films lately. In the olden days, I only got to watch a film or two every couple of months. The exception was VBS week, when I could watch one or two films every night for five nights. This summer, though, my beautiful wife has taken our boys to an amusement park once or twice a week (wearing out season passes) which gives me a chance to watch one or more. In addition to VBS week, where they volunteered as my boys have aged out of the program itself (already?) Also, I’m watching a film or so a week with my boys. So I am getting so many films in that I’ll want to take a break sometime and, I don’t know, read a book. Likely a book based on a television program or a movie.

Some blog I read mentioned Multiplicity recently, so I watched it on an evening when I was looking for a comedy to fill the VBS time. The film is from 1996, but it’s a bit of a throwback to 1980s comedies (and some shades of Mr. Mom). Michael Keaton plays Doug Kinney, a man burning his candle at both ends and the middle–he’s got a taxing job, and he’s trying to keep up with his wife and children and perhaps some hobbies. While supervising a job at a research facility, he encounters a man who offers to create a clone so that Michael Keaton can share duties with him. So he does; the clone gets to handle all the work part of Kinney’s life. He finds that his family life is also taking up a lot of time, leaving him no time for golf, so he creates another clone for homemaking. The first clone then creates a clone of himself, but it turns out to be simple-minded–a bad copy of a copy. So the three clones, each with a different personality aspect of the original, have some lojinks–adventures not up to hijinks as Kinney reflects upon his life. He takes some time to learn to sail and then takes a day to sail to Catalina Island on a boat with Bill Murray’s brother and the love interest from Happy Gilmore; during that time away, his wife (Andie MacDowell, aka Rita from Groundhog Day) rekindles her romance with her husband. Or his clones, successively (not all at once).

Yeah, that last bit kind of squicked me out a bit.

So it’s amusing at times; it’s not a laugh-out-loud funny film, but it’s a comedy for grownups. According to Wikipedia, it only made about half of its budget back at the box office, so clearly, adult comedies would be a no-go in the 21st century.

So I’m happy to have seen it to hopefully retain something from it for trivia nights, should they ever again happen.

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Brian J. Countervails

You say As drought cuts hay crop, cattle ranchers face culling herds

(They don’t actually mean herds that cull, they mean the ranchers might have to cull their herds. Herds of cattle who cull anything are the makings of a bad horror movie.)

However, when the news says that, I think Increased prices for those who cut hay and Cheap beef on the horizon.

Because I am economically literate and smart enough to know that there’s another side to every transaction.

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Movie Report: Maverick (1994)

Book coverAfter we watched Horse Soldiers, I thought I’d show the boys a slightly more modern Western, this one a comedy from the mid-1990s (released a year after Tombstone). When you think about modern films mining old properties for material, remember that this movie was an update of James Garner’s television series from the late 1950s.

In the film, Mel Gibson plays Bret Maverick, a gambler looking to make enough to stake a place in the first world championship of poker. He’s a little short, but he tries to gamble and grift his way to St. Louis. He meets the Jodie Foster character, who is also a poker player and bit of a con artist, as we come to know. James Garner himself is introduced as a well-known lawman. Someone is trying to stop Maverick from getting to the card game, and the movie goes through a number of set pieces where Maverick tries to collect old debts only to encounter some trouble or another. He finally makes it to the card game on a riverboat, and when he wins the pot, the lawman steals it, so Maverick goes to hunt him down and finds the lawman was partners with the organizer of the tournament.

So it’s a pretty fun romp filled with outlandish situations and featuring numerous cameos by Western movie stars, country singers, and Danny Glover as a bank robber who is getting too old for this shit. My boys didn’t understand a lot of the references and the “Hey, there’s that guy!” element of the movie, but the oldest did recognize Waylon Jennings (good boy!) but only from being in The Highwaymen (well, it’s something).

So I enjoyed it, and I was pleased to see that the problems I’d experienced with the picture in Tombstone was because that VHS was so worn; this one looked good, which means it’s not in the electronica again.

So I might watch this again sometime, and I have the physical media to make that possible for as long as the lights stay on.

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Movie Report: Tombstone (1993)

Book coverAs it turns out, betting on my watching this film before Her Alibi would have lost you money. Which is why I never bet against myself: I am unpredictable.

Okay, so this film has become some sort of cultural touchstone or something. It’s an early 1990s western, when those resurged on the big screen perhaps thanks to Dances with Wolves (1990) or Lonesome Dove (1989) more than Young Guns (1988). So it’s serious and dramatic. It tells the story, basically, of Wyatt Earp coming to Tombstone with his brothers and families, ending up the marshal, and then taking on the Cowboys, a large gang ranging over the southwest. It stars Kurt Russell as Wyatt Earp, Sam Elliot as Virgil Earp, Tom Paxton as The Earp That Dies, Val Kilmer as Doc Holliday, Dana Delany as a traveling actress, Powers Boothe as the leader of the Cowboys, and a bunch of other people you’d recognize.

So, as I said, it became a bit of a touchstone amongst people who like Westerns, which is a euphemism for men for this modern age, of a certain age. Gen X, maybe, with some younger Boomers perhaps. Some people continue to quote it, although “I’m your huckleberry” is the only line I remember, although I see this GIF around from time to time:

via GIPHY

I dunno; I did not see it when it was fresh. I must have seen it on cable at some point, as I just bought the VHS I own. So it didn’t hit me with a culture-hitting-you-when-you’re-growing-up resonance. It’s okay; the first part is fairly linear, but after the surviving Earps decamp from Tombstone, it gets a little montage-y until the final climax and denouement. So not on the top of my list of Westerns.

It didn’t help that this VHS was pretty well used, with some jumping on playback. Clearly someone watched this film over and over before me.

This film starred two pretty Danas. Continue reading “Movie Report: Tombstone (1993)”

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Movie Report: Zoolander (2001)

Book coverI watched this film with my boys because my youngest son has in the last couple of years decided that he will not smile for photographs. If you take a photo of him, he generally puts on a duckface pout, and I am wont to say, “Magnum! Dear God, it’s beautiful!” Which, as you know, conflates a couple of quotes from this film. So I wanted to share that source of that thing Dad always says with my boys.

This 2001 film is a full-length feature from a character Stiller had done of a dim-witted male model. In it, Zoolander, the title character played by Ben Stiller, has gotten a little stale being atop the modeling industry for so long. The Top Male Model three years in a row, he loses his chance at a fourth when a fresh face–Hansel, played by Owen Wilson, takes the modeling world by storm, leading Zoolander to question who he is and flirt with the idea of retirement. At the same time, an international fashion/clothing cartel wants to assassinate the new prime minister of Malaysia whose labor law reforms are killing their profits. The cartel has historically used brainwashed male models for hits, so they select Zoolander for the job and easily brainwash him. Meanwhile, an intrepid reporter played by Christina Taylor (Mrs. Ben Stiller) is investigating the cartel and becomes a target for their prime henchperson (Milla Jovavich, pronounced…. well, I don’t know).

So amusing enough; one of the Ben Stillerverse comedies, those collection of films with Ben Stiller, one or more Wilsons, Christine Taylor, and their friends that filled the middle 90s to the early part of the twenty-first century. Maybe they’re still ongoing but on a streaming service, so they’re invisible to me. I was explaining to the boys that there were two axis of comedy in this period, the Sandlerverse and the Stillerverse, movies that shared a lot of the same actors but rarely crossed over. I guess that’s not true–I tried to think of when they did, such as The Wedding Singer which had Christina Taylor in a supporting role, but I guess Ben Stiller was in Happy Gilmore, so it would be pointless to retcon some rivalry.

So, a good enough film–I’ve watched it several times, including seeing it in the theater and buying the DVD at full price at some time in the past. I often quote several lines from it, most often, “I feel like I’m taking crazy pills!” Which means that these films with the boys is like a real life version of the The Source of That Thing Daddy Always Says.

I guess they made a sequel in 2016 or thereabouts, fifteen years after the original. As with the similarly retread Anchorman 2, I will not seek this out as I think the lightning was not captured a second time. Didn’t you watch Hot Tub Time Machine 2, Brian J.? you ask. Shut up, Ted, I answer.

Also, in researching this post, I cannot help note that the Wikipedia entry retcons contemporary political labels to assign political affiliation to the good guys and bad guys:

In the film, top people in the fashion industry, Jacobim Mugatu (Will Ferrell) and Derek’s agent Maury Ballstein (Jerry Stiller), are hired by other executives to assassinate the Prime Minister of Malaysia (Woodrow Asai), who will pass progressive laws that would harm their businesses.

In 2001, progressive was not yet the contemporary term for good guys/left. And anyone who pays attention knows the fashion moguls are not Republicans. However, I fear modern audiences might have the mental acuity of a male model, subject to TikTokian bite-sized information brainwashing. But that’s just me.

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I Blame The Soon-To-Be-Discovered Monolith

Chimpanzees are killing gorillas unprovoked for the first time: scientists

Undoubtedly, this will officially be attributed to global warming.

Also, note this is the first time that the “scientists” (evolutionary anthropologists, which is one of the guesswork speculative “sciences”) have seen it. It should not be taken to represent the first time in all of the existence of apes, great or otherwise, most of which happened before grad students were writing things down.

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