Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The Long Riders

The Long Riders (1980)

Movie about the exploits of the Younger Gang (the James Brothers rode with them).

Four sets of real life brothers are the main actors.

A very young looking Dennis Quaid in a minor role as Ed Miller, portrayed in the movie as a cowardly murderer. The actor seems to fit into the role perfectly.

Randy Quaid in a larger role as Clel Miller. He gets his just desserts in Northfield.

Stacy Keach as Frank James, James Keach as Jesse. (James as James? Isn't that a bit much?)

The Carradine brothers as the Youngers.

The Guest brothers are the Fords.

Graphically violent with some minor nudity.

The Pinkertons are portrayed as murderous incompetent bunglers. They tossed a bomb into the house of Jesse's mother, killing his little brother, who had nothing to do with the James/Younger crime spree. The movie does not explain how the bomb also blew off his mother's arm.

The Great Northfield Minnesota raid is covered in excruciating detail. Cole Younger was shot 11 times, every one of them graphically portrayed.

The movie ends shortly after that dirty little coward (Bob Ford) laid poor Jesse in his grave.

The fate of Bob Ford is not included in the movie, a major omission.

They also omit the part where Charley Ford lies his way out of trouble by claiming that he never knew that Bob intended to murder Jesse.

Belle Starr is a minor but interesting role. Her husband Sam gets a cameo in a knife fight with Cole Younger.

I really liked the music by Ry Cooder.

Gunfighters (1/3)

Gunfighters (Disc 1 of 3)

This DVD features Wild Bill Hickok, The James Gang, John Wesley Hardin, and Bat Masterson.

Wild Bill accidentally killed his deputy as he ran up behind him during a gunfight. Poor eyesight due to veneral disease was to blame (according to the video).

Every time I hear about the Younger Gang (heh, the James Brothers rode with them), I wonder how I ever could have lived in that Missouri/Kansas environment before, during, and after the Civil War. I would not have lived there long, no doubt of that.

John Wesley Hardin once killed a man for snoring.

Bat Masterson's most famous gunfight lasted for 10 minutes with dozens of shots fired and none of them hitting anyone. Worse than the OK Corral which is pretty unbelieveable.

Informative and entertaining.

Definitely makes me want to watch the other 2 DVDs in the series.

Monday, January 30, 2006

An Apache and a Zulu

Forty Lashes Less One by Elmore Leonard (1972)

Another outstanding novel by Elmore Leonard. An Apache and a Zulu escape from Yuma prison. The two hate each other from the start but become friends through shared adversity. An example of how long distance running builds character.

Refreshing because the white guys get outsmarted. The new warden is a religious moron with good intentions. The head of the guards is a moron devoid of good intentions. The white cons (who actually run the prison) escape, but because they disrespected the Apache and the Zulu, the white cons all come to a bad end. Excellent.

Rumor is that Quentin Tarantino wrote a screenplay based on the novel, and he called it Forty Lashes. Was supposed to be a Miramax movie. Some rumors say that it was filmed but never released. Weird.

The Wisdom of Ann Coulter

"One by one, the Democratic Party keeps having to abandon all the insane positions that have made it the funny, silly party that we've come to know and love."

(from Abortion Stops A Bleeding Heart by Ann Coulter, January 25, 2006)

They Should Have Named Him "Al"

"There's one way to guarantee that the judges who are appointed to the Supreme Court are judges that reflect our values. And that's to win elections."

-Senator Barack Obama (D-IL)

What a Bitter Disappointment

Last Friday, it was front page news that John Kerry was leaving his 5-star Swiss resort and returning to the U.S. so that he could organize a filibuster versus Supreme Court nominee Alito on Monday (today).

Just like The Great White Buffalo, "He is coming to save our asses!" [with sincerest apologies to Ted Nugent]

Now, today, the big day has arrived, and there is no significant news coverage of the filibuster, or the lack thereof.

What a bitter disappointment.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Apache Voices

Apache Voices: Their stories of survival as told to Eve Ball (2000) by Sherry Robinson

This book contains many interesting stories of various Apache tribes: Warm Springs, Chiricahuas, Nednhis, Mescaleros, and Lipans.

An interesting chapter on Streeter, the white Apache. There is very little information available on the life of Streeter, and this book has more than anyone else.

Some lesser known stories about Geronimo. I especially liked the one where his fellow Apaches threatened to shoot him for cowardice.

The ability of the Apaches to live off a desolate landscape was impressive. If allowed to live free, they could have lived in balance with nature in perpetuity.

Streeter and the lost Jesuit mines

(from The lost Jesuit Gold of the Sierra Madre by Tim Haydock)

Whether this was Tayopa – and it may well have been – it is not likely to be the same site as that seen by Casimero Streeter just a few years later. Streeter was a ‘white Apache’, a renegade white man who lived and fought of some years with the Indians. He was on a raiding-party to the south-east of Cananea in Northern Sonora, when his fellow braves pointed to some ruins way below in a canyon and told him, ‘That is Tayopa, leave it alone. Never try to go to it.’ He could just make out a bell in the ruined church tower. He subsequently identified this spot as lying on a fork of the River Yaqui. Neither the canyon or the church bell are mentioned in Hobbs’s account of the town which he visited. It is therefore unlikely that they are the same, though both are said to be on the Yaqui, from whose headwaters, Hobbs tells us, ‘the Indian [i.e. Mayos] bring down much gold, thought they dare not venture far into the mountains for the fear of the Apaches.’

Three Novels by Dashiell Hammett

Red Harvest

A private detective sets out to solve a murder mystery, then tries to clean up a corrupt town. Large body count by the end, none of them killed by the protagonist.

The Maltese Falcon

With a couple of very minor exceptions, the movie version with Bogart is the same as the book. By modern standards, the movie is exactly the same as the book. If some unprincipled hack like Peter Jackson were to do a remake, the movie would be nothing like the book.

Gutman's daughter has a very minor, but interesting, role in the book. Her character was not in the movie.

At the end, Wilmer kills Gutman, which is not in the movie.

The Thin Man

I never saw the movie, but I am defintely interested in seeing it now that I have read the book. Nick and Nora Charles are very interesting characters. They are always either drunk, getting drunk, or hungover. The lives of the idle and rich require prodigious amounts of alchohol, I guess. They eat interesting foods, like kippers and raw beef with onions.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

3:10 to Yuma (VHS)

Very loosely based on the excellent short story by Elmore Leonard.

They really transmogrified the story to produce this movie, making it a long weepy ordeal.

I hope the upcoming remake (by the director of Walk the Line) is closer to the original story.

Interesting to see Glenn Ford as a villain. He did a very good job with his role.

Van Heflin gives a compelling performance as the protagonist, despite the weak script.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

american anecdotes

Gangsters, Swindlers, Killers, & Thieves: The Lives & Crimes of Fifty American Villains (2004)

Edited by Lawrence Block

This excellent book contains many very fine anecdotes. One of my favorites:

"Mica and Wiley Harpe were brothers who headed west after the Revolution, preying on settlers and travelers in the Mississippi Valley. When a posse trapped them in 1799, Wiley escaped. Mica was shot down and his head was sawn off while he was still alive. The posse members carried off his head, perhaps in hope of a reward, but wound up boiling it for soup one night when rations ran low. "
The Buffalo Soldier Tragedy of 1877 (2003) by Paul H. Carlson

Fascinating account of an obscure chapter in American history.

Soldiers died of thirst while water was available nearby if they only could have found it.

Soldiers drank their own urine and the urine of their horses in a desperate attempt to stay alive. (Personal Note: I would like t0 think that I would not drink urine, not because it is disgusting, but because, like drinking seawater, it only makes the problem worse. Easy to say that sitting in the comforts of civilization with plenty to drink. Not so easy when you are literally dying of thirst.)

Gross miscarriage of justice where black enlisted men were court martialed as scapegoats for inept leadership by white officers.

Another refutation of the myth that the American military is a strict meritocracy. The author thinks that in the modern army, the white officers would have been court martialed instead of the black soldiers. I have my doubts.

Monday, January 23, 2006

The Chronicles of Riddick (2004) with Vin Diesel, Judy Dench, and Keith David.

Very bleak vision of the future with lots of violence.

The Necromongers are villains that you can easily love to hate.

Judy Dench plays an Elemental who believes that the best way to fight the evil of the Necromongers is with the evil of an outlaw.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

High Lonesome

High Lonesome (1962) by Louis L'Amour

Interesting little book, a quick read.

Suffers from a couple of major flaws:

1) Excessively preachy about how hard the life of an outlaw was. Would be much more effective to show how hard it was rather than just keep saying it ad nauseum.

2) Propagates the myth that a small group of white guys could easily defeat a significantly larger group of Apaches.

William Sunomono

2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons olive oil
dash salt
dash non-salt seasoning

Heat until sugar is dissolved. Set aside to cool.

one onion, peeled and sliced
one cucumber, peeled and sliced
one apple, peeled and slice

Place sliced fruit and vegetables in a non-reactive container with tight fitting lid.

Poor cooled sauce over sliced fruit and vegetables.

Cover and toss.

Place in refrigerator to chill.

Eat sooner rather than later.

Footnote: This recipe is named after the little known outlaw William Sunomono. According to legend, he ate this right before his fatal encounter with lawmen when he tried to hold up the 3:10 to Yuma.