15 August 2007
30 July 2007
29 July 2007
26 July 2007
06 July 2007
03 July 2007
29 June 2007
My entry for this week's movie club selection -- John Ford's FORT APACHE
FORT APACHE is at both a prototypical John Ford western and an atypical one. It contains all of his familiar tropes, but there is the beginning a chance in his outlook on the West and the men in it.
In the picture, you can see many of the things that were a hallmark of the John Ford Western:
* The Stock Cast -- This starts with John Wayne (captain york) and Henry Fonda (Lt Colonel Thursday), the two protagonists of the film, but also much of the supporting cast. Ward Bond (Sgt. Major O'Rourke), Victor McLagleb (Sgt. Mulcahy), George O'Brien (Capt. Collingwood) and Pedro Armendariz (Johnny Reb) were all regulars for Ford.
* The Irish -- Ford's films are chock full of Irish men and women, with names like O'Rourke.
* The Family -- This ties into the whole Irish/Catholic culture present in the film. There is also the contrast between the O'Rourke family and the Thursday family.
* Monument Valley -- FORT APACHE is one of nine John Ford films that was shot in the Arizona desert. This piece of land is now called John Ford Point.
* The Blend Of Genres -- Although a western, there are many genres present in the film, including comedy (mainly involving the Irish sergeants, or the clash between eastern and western culture), romance (between Lt O'Rourke and Philadelphia Thursday), action (two extended fight scenes) and drama.
* The Pagentry of the Military -- This is the first of Ford's "cavalry trilogy" and Ford revels in showing the daily life of the Cavalry Troop -- the uniforms, the dances, the training, etc. Also, we see an extended picture of what it's like to be a military wife and the travails that entails.
More importantly, FORT APACHE is one of the first films that shows Ford's evolving relationship with the Western genre.
* Depiction of the Indians -- We see in the movie the shabby way the Apache are treated by Meacham, the representative of the government. Cochise says, before the battle, ""He is worse than war. He not only killed the men, but the women and the children and the old ones. We looked to the Great White Father for protection. He gave us slow death. We will not return to your reservation while that man is there or anyone like him."
* The Arrogance of the Easterner -- Lt. Colonel Thursday (a clear analogue for General Custer) has no respect for the West or the Apache. An Easterner who views this assignment as being "shunted aside" by "an ungrateful war department." He of course pays for his disrespect. Thursday also shows disrespect for his men, typified by being unable to correctly remember Lt. O'Rourke's name. (he calls him O'Brien and Murphy early in the picture.)
* History vs Legend -- We see what happens at the battle, yet Lt Colonel Thursday is remembered, by both the journalists and Captain York, as a hero. This obviously foreshadowing Ford's latest treatise on the subject in THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALENCE, where the reporter says "This is the west, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend."
* Western tropes. We see "the cavalry" make one save in the movie, but they are unable to do the same for LT. Colonel Thursday and his men, who make a last stand before succombing to the Apache.
There are many great parts of this movie -- The NCO Dance, the first Chase scene between the Cavalry and the Apache, the relationship between the sergeants, but my favorite scene is the one between Lt. Colonel Thursday and Sgt. Major O'Rourke, discussing the young Lieutenant.
Lt. Col. Thursday: This Lt. O'Rourke - are you by chance related?
RSM Michael O'Rourke: Not by chance, sir, by blood. He's my son.
Lt. Col. Thursday: I see. How did he happen to get into West Point?
RSM Michael O'Rourke: It happened by presidential appointment, sir
Lt. Col. Thursday: Are you a former officer, O'Rourke?
RSM Michael O'Rourke: During the war, I was a major in the 69th New York regiment... The Irish Brigade, sir.
RSM Michael O'Rourke: Still, it's been my impression that presidential appointments were restricted to sons of holders of the Medal of Honor.
RSM Michael O'Rourke: That is my impression, too, sir. Will that be all, sir?
Admittedly, FORT APACHE is not a perfect film. The romantic sub-plot, between Shirley Temple and then-husband John Agar, seems a bit rushed. They meet in a dusty shack and are quickly in love? O'Rourke seemingly proposed to her after just meeting her. And the end can, in these cynical times, seem hokey.
All in all, FORT APACHE is a great piece of filmmaking, well-deserving of being ranked with Ford's other legendary westerns (THE SEARCHERS, LIBERTY VALENCE).
let me also throw in a great book about John Ford and his Western pictures, JOHN FORD ANS THE AMERICAN WEST, by film critic Peter Cowie and a book on the western genre< THE SIX-GUN MYSTIQUE SEQUEL, by John Cawelti.
25 June 2007
15 June 2007
13 June 2007
11 June 2007
23 May 2007
22 May 2007
13 May 2007
Still reading it myself, but yes, it is a wonderful book.
07 May 2007
Four Horsemen: An Elite DVD Set
After seeing the WWE’s new Ric Flair and the Four Horsemen DVD, I was compelling to try and write down some remembrances of what it was like to be a Horsemen fan back during their original run.
Unlike many of my friends that are wrestling fans, I came to the business later than most. I didn’t start watching until I was in my early teens. I started watching during the early Hogan WWF era, but, thanks to living in the Mid-Atlantic area and having a rotor on our antenna, I was able to see the NWA Crockett shows out of both
I soon learned to prefer the more serious and athletically-based NWA, instead of the more cartoony WWF product. I immediately gravitated toward the ostentatious Ric Flair over the lumbering Hulk Hogan. It also didn’t take me long to become a heel fan, choosing the Midnight Express over their teeny-bopper Rock-and-Roll counterparts.
It was great when the heels banded together to run rough shod over their babyface opponents. It was not long after I started watching the NWA shows in 1985 that the hated Minnesota Wrecking Crew of Ole and Arn Anderson (I was too new to have heard of Gene Anderson) teamed up with Flair to injure the “immensely popular” Dusty Rhodes. Soon, they were also teaming with Tully Blanchard (once called in Pro Wrestling Illustrated “the K-Mart Fashion Plate”) against Rhodes, Magnum TA, Manny Fernandez and any other number of mid-card babyfaces. And it was not long before the four men, in early 1986, became The Four Horsemen.
It’s amusing now, in hindsight, to know that “The Horsemen” were named thanks to an off-the-cuff remark by Arn Anderson, made because all the men (and then-manager J.J. Dillon) happened to be doing an interview together in the WTBS studios.
It can be argued that the original Horsemen incarnation was the best and all the rest were pale imitations. Ole and Arn were a prototypical 1970s/80s heel tag team, Tully was a textbook cocky heel that fans loved to hate and Flair was the World Champion and the best worker in the company.
Personally, I would choose instead the Flair/Arn/Tully/Barry Windham version.
There were great WCW versions of the Horsemen, specifically the Pillman/Benoit or Benoit/Malenko versions, but the Nitro Horsemen were, to me, always a pale imitation of the old teams. And that’s coming from a smart fan that worships at the Benoit altar.
Looking at the actual WWE set, there are lots of pluses, but also a few minuses. The documentary is certainly helped by having most of the talent interviewed (Ole being the noticeable absence) and it appears that they were free to be candid as they wanted to be. It is odd, though, to see Flair and Tully discussing booking decisions and other backstage issues, while Arn continues to kayfabe history, treating matches as if they were shoots and the like. (This shouldn’t surprise anyone, as one of the things that made Arn’s book such an interesting read a few years ago was it also did not break kayfabe.)
NWA/WCW fans who had to live through the lean years will love to see Flair shoot on Jim Herd and Eric Bischoff. Sadly, there were no clips of the infamous “We Want Flair” 1991 Great American Bash PPV, where fans rioted over how Flair had left the company over Herd’s incompetence.
Like all WWE DVD documentaries, their version of history is not quite how it happened. Some facts are omitted and the chronology of events is sometimes spotty, with clips of angles or matches shown out of order. By now, however, the viewer should be used to the fact that the company is re-writing history as it sees fit, usually to paint the company in the best possible light, given the situation.
The match/angle/interview selection on the disc is also a curious assortment. There are many fans out there (most notably the infamous “Front Row, Section D” group from the
Sadly, we have to see the repugnant N.W.O./Horsemen angle, something that hit so close to home that it brought Arn Anderson’s wife to tears. Nice to see that Eric Bischoff admit that it should have been handled differently after all these years.
Hopefully, one of the reasons for the curious match selection is that there will be another DVD set and that disc will have some of the better-known contests, like Flair winning the world title from Rhodes when Baby Doll turned heel or some of the taped fist matches between Tully and “Hands of Stone” Ronnie Garvin. One match I hope will eventually see the light of day is something I was supposed to see live and didn’t make the show: the 1988 Tag Team title change between the Midnight Express and Arn/Tully, the Horsemen’s last match before going to the WWF and becoming the Brainbusters.
Obviously, this DVD set is a must purchase for the longtime wrestling fan that may have given on the current wrestling scene. How could you pass up the chance to see lesser Horsemen like Luger, Sid Vicious and Paul Roma buried, hearing Flair,
23 April 2007
"Head to IMDB.com (or imdbpro, if this is your career), and look up ten of your favorite movies. List three plot keywords for each movie, and then see which of your friends can guess what movie you're talkin' bout. NO cheating, now..."
3. New Jersey/Alien Conspiracy/Rock Band
5. Forest/Fog/Based on Play
6. Hangover/Loveless Marriage/Uranium
7. Bistro/Suicide Death Fall/based on novel
8. Locker Room/Violence/Mooning
10. Homoerotic/Narration/Berlin Germany
28 March 2007
14 March 2007
Illness played a part.
and, getting ready to move from VAB. thank goodness. This place is way too Red State for my psyche. You can't drive 10 feet without seeing either a fish or a yellow ribbon (or both) on the car in front of you.
05 February 2007
I really could not agree with you more about what a horrible waste of time
Radio Row is/has become.
As you know, I'm a sports radio connoisseur/junkie and I can say that it
is, largely, a horrible waste of time.
On an average day, I'll now listen to some programming of all three
national sports networks as well as at least 4 different local shows
across the country.
Do you know many times last week I heard the same guest on any particular
day? Even worse, you could hear the same guest on the same network on
different day parts. GAH!
The best show that I heard all of last week was Dan LeBatard's show. Why?
He went out of his way to NOT ask his guests about the Super Bowl and talk
to them about just about anything else in the world. Also, no predictions
the whole week. And to top it off, they broadcast from outside the Versace
Mansion the night of Shaq's party there.
Contrast that with the anticeptic nature of the Four Letter. Same old
guests, same old talking heads, same old cliched analysis. The last time I
have to hear from Little Sean (TM Deadspin) will be too soon.
Shouldn't Radio Row be time for a show to be creative, instead of B-level
football star plugging and then making innocuous small talk? To his
credit, at least Andy Polley wisely got the plug out of the way first,
rather than having to cram it in at the end and run over a break.
There were some shows that were so out-of-character and fraught with
technical issues that I just gave up listening by the end of the week.
All in All, it's probably great for the talent to schoomze, eat free ice
cream and get to hang out for a week on a semi-vacation. But, for the
average listener, it just comes off as one big circle jerk.
04 February 2007
Here's what they used:
Hockey fans know their sport is down at the moment and that it has many problems. That said, it's very irksome and tiring to constantly see the only national attention given to it is negative.
Here is the entire email:
Thanks for apparently being one of the few Post columnists who knew thatThis was spurred after mainly after a week of "What channel is the NHL on?" one-liners from radio and TV people, notably Wilbon on PTI. Yes, it was my ox being gored. But it's funny to hear Wilbon make the same remarks when he chastises anyone and everyone who make generalizations about the NBA (which is now his main area of coverage for ESPN).
the NHL All-Star Game was on TV and where to find it on your cable. That's
more than I can say for some of your superstar columnists, who seem to
think that the only thing to say about the sport these days is to take fun
of its admittedly-poor television package.
Hockey fans know their sport is down at the moment and that it has many
problems. That said, it's very irksome and tiring to constantly see the
only attention given to it on national outlets like ESPN is negative.
As someone who has taught journalism in the past, I'm sure you know all
about "gatekeeper theory." While its not the media's job to cheerleader
for what they cover, I think they do have to realize just how much
influence they have over their audience. Seeing and hearing respected
national columnists do nothing but belittle a product cannot help
something that needs all the positives it can get these days.
03 February 2007
1) Caps vs Penguins. Caps lost again, but at least didn't get blown out. Another victory for Sir Sidney over Alex O.
2) Edmonton vs Colorado -- game 1 of the CBC triple header. Oilers win on the road.
3) Toronto vs Ottawa -- battle of Ontario + Coach's Corner. TO wins in the shootout.
4) Vancouver vs Calgary -- 2-1 Canucks as this is written. Luongo took a wicked slapshot off his mask a few minutes ago from, I think, Dion Phaneuf. Amazingly, he stayed in the game.
Tomorrow afternoon, CBC has an afternoon game with Sir Sidney vs Les Habs before the Super Bowl.
30 January 2007
Anything to offer an alternative to the horrible ESPN Station here. If you thought regular ESPN Radio programming was unlistenable (*cough* Cowherd *cough*), you can't even imagine how amazingly podunk the local afternoon guy is on the radio. Oh yeah, and in like most small market, he's also the PD or GM or some other such title.
Folks here can now hear, without listening to an internet stream, the wacky Bram Weinstein (formerly on WTEM in DC) and the amazingly irreverent John Riggins (Redskins great, who used to host a show on the Sirius NFL Channel). Riggo's show includes former TK sidekick Gary "Big Time" Braun, as well as another former WTEM guy, Kevin Sheehan.
25 January 2007
Listen to me ramble for over an hour about old wrestling, working for an indy promotion, my crappy origin story involving wrestling, the NATIONAL (RIP) and more on this week's JOE VS THE WORLD podcast. Sadly, the talk about wrestling and comics didn't make the cut this time around.
Thanks for Joe Gagne for inviting me on.
24 January 2007
The NHL All-Star Game is going on as I type this. I was occupied (more on this soon) during the first period, so going to catch up now.
22 January 2007
Nor it is about Brownian Motion (which does not have to do with eating bad shrimp).
It's an alternative title of the great Russian film by Sergei Eisenstein, Battleship Potemkin.
And, as you may or may not know, we publish (infrequently) a little thing about popular culture called ODESSA STEPS MAGAZINE, which also takes its name from Potemkin.
What we plan on doing here is put stuff up on the web that may or may not go into the next print issue of the magazine. Or, it might turn into a place just to post dumb stuff.
Get it? Got it? Good!