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Head ‘Em Off At The Past

February 18, 2009


With his faithful Indian companion, Tonto, the daring and resourceful masked rider of the plains led the fight for law and order in the early western United States. Nowhere in the pages of history can one find a greater champion of justice. Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear. From out of the past come the thundering hoofbeats of a fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust, and a hearty “Hi-Ho, Silver!”, The Lone Ranger rides again!
(cue: “cavalry charge” finale of Rossini’s William Tell Overture)

opening of The Lone Ranger television series, 1949-1957

Everything I know about truth, justice and fair play I learned from The Lone Ranger. That and the importance of having your horse dry-cleaned on a regular basis.

Alright, perhaps I’m exaggerating a little but The Lone Ranger, the first television show that I’m aware of seeing and the seed of my life-long love of Westerns, was my introduction to a clearly moral universe.

I guess I must have been 5 or 6 when the masked man (played by Clayton Moore) and his second-banana Tonto (played by the matchlessly wooden Jay Silverheels) first rode into my life.

Everything about The Lone Ranger enchanted me, from the stirring introduction (until the day I die The William Tell Overture will only mean one thing to me: the thunder of hooves and a masked man in a white hat) to the show’s unvarying ending (“…who was that masked man?…cain’t say but he left this here silver bullet…”). The show utterly absorbed me.

Watching it now one can only laugh. Clearly meant to represent America’s view of itself in the 1950’s–just, egalitarian and heroic–it unwittingly approves a subtle racist and imperialist agenda. More obviously, the whole premise was laughable.

Each episode followed a formula as rigid and pre-ordained as a Japanese Noh play. We’d open at The Lone Ranger’s campsite. The LR, who presumably subscribed to some sort of wire-service for heroes would inform Tonto that nefarious doings were afoot in Putzville but his information was vague. In every episode, The LR would instruct Tonto (which means ‘fool’ in Spanish) to: “…ride into town and see what you can find out.”


Whereupon Tonto would gallop into Putzville or Scum City and take up position outside the saloon. Standing immobile and expressionless, he would await developments. They were never long in coming.
Within minutes, the villains would congregate roughly 2 feet from Tonto’s flapping ears and outline their dastardly scheme.

Now, given that they were surrounded by millions of square miles of empty Old West where a man could, if he chose, recite the complete works of Sir Walter Scott at the top of his lungs without being heard, the choice of venue seemed odd. But it never varied. When the bad guys decided to huddle, nobody ever suggested riding out into the sagebrush for the confab. No. Evidently, someone said “…let’s stand next to that Injun outside the saloon and be really indiscreet.” Maybe they thought Tonto was a wooden cigar-store Indian, an excusable mistake.

Having absorbed the intel, Tonto would ride back to the campsite where The LR was waiting for his horse to come back from the local Sketchleys. Seriously, Silver was so eye-wateringly white that dry-cleaning was the only explanation. Ditto The LR’s outfits. By all accounts, the Old West was a dirty, dusty place and sartorial splendour was not a priority but The LR always looked like he’d just had a shave, haircut and manicure and his clothes were just back from the cleaners. Even as fastidious an old maid as Henry James would have been happy to bunk with him.

Tonto would bring The LR up to speed, employing the standard injun-speak of 1950’s Hollywood: “ Keemo-Sahbee, bad men drinkum fire-water, talk bad medicine with forked tongue, they go rob great iron horse…” etc, etc.

Having taken in this double-talk, The LR would, for no logical reason, slip into disguise.

According to wiki: “…he was a master of disguise. At times, he would infiltrate an area using the identity of “Old Prospector”, an old-time miner with a full beard, so that he can go places where a young masked man would never fit in, usually to gather intelligence about criminal activities.”

Where a young masked man would never fit in? As opposed to where? The Venice Carnevale?

In point of fact, the Old Prospector disguise is the only one I ever remember seeing but no matter. As to gathering intelligence, well, he pretty much knew what there was to know already. In truth, it was just a chance for The LR to demonstrate his versatility and to put a gloss on the American penchant for spying on people.

After various tiresome machinations and stratagems, the villains would be thwarted, order would be restored and The Lone Ranger and Tonto would ride off into the sunset, leaving people scratching their heads before heading to the local pawnshop with the silver bullet.

The Lone Ranger
was absurd, inept, laughable. Bady written, badly acted and badly directed. The premise was risible. A masked man who roams the Old West doing good and leaving behind silver bullets? How was this being funded? Silver bullets cost money, you know, and his dry-cleaning bill must have been startling. Why the mask? Nobody knew who the hell he was anyway. And why did Tonto, a genuine Native American seem so implausible an Injun and so much more plausible as a guitarist for Buffalo Springfield? I have no answers

But I still regard The Lone Ranger with great affection. He taught me that it’s the duty of the strong to defend the weak, that evil must be fought, that there are better reasons than money for our actions. He stood for loyalty, justice, honesty, bravery and selflessness…and the value of efficient dry-cleaning.

And that can’t be a bad thing. Hi-Ho Silver… Away!

(a revised version of this piece appeared on The Daily Kos website on Sep.30, 2012)

Coming Soon: Clint Eastwood and the pure distillation of the Western.

  1. obooki permalink
    February 18, 2009 1:42 PM

    That reminds me (re my own recent post too )that old Adolf loved American cowboy and indian adventure books when he was young – apparently couldn’t get enough of their simplistic depiction of good and evil, civilised white man and racially different other.

  2. February 18, 2009 1:51 PM

    My Indian painting tutor – a man who painted esoteric intricately abstract patterns – was addicted to Westerns. Once in his studio his family were only allowed to interrupt his communions with the muse if there was a Western on the box. He loved the fact that you didn’t have to think very hard about them.

    Silver was perhaps the first horse to use Loreal hair products.

    I heard a story that many of the Indians on the show were in fact out of work Italian waiters

  3. mishari permalink*
    February 18, 2009 1:51 PM

    Does this mean I’m a crypto-fascist?

    Actually I can see the appeal to Herr Schickelgruber. Up until the 60’s, Westerns were simplistic and reactionary.

    I’m going to write about the later, more morally complex Westerns exemplified by Eastwood in his prime…

  4. freep permalink
    February 18, 2009 3:17 PM

    I liked the Lone Ranger far better than Roy Rogers or Hopalong Cassidy or Gene Autry for the following reasons:
    1. He didn’t sing, and smiling was minimal. This was a serious cowboy.
    2. There were never any soppy women in his films
    3. They didn’t need to finish each film with a horse or dog laughing.
    4. Gabby Hayes was never drafted in as a comical old-timer
    5. His hat was rarely dislodged.
    Most episodes contained a scene in which a villain (Jack Elam or similar) got the LR to the ground and reached for his mask: ‘Now let’s see who you really are, Mister Lone Ranger …’ but in the nick of time a rock would fly in and strike said villain on the temple.
    Prize episodes contained a scene in which the villain had LR on the edge of a precipice; villain raises giant rock over his head to drop on to our hero, but overbalances, and falls backwards into bottomless perdition.
    He was indeed the embodiment of a moral code, mishari, and no doubt our shared rectitude owes much to Him. There were other, now forgotten cowboys of the 1950s who didn’t sing or tell jokes or have sentimental claptrap attached: Lash La Rue and Rocky Lane.
    Perhaps you can dredge your memory and tell me if any of them smoked …?
    The Cisco Kid was poor fare; even as a six year old I thought the jokes were feeble, and I winced as the last frame was always filled with disgusting laughter.

  5. obooki permalink
    February 18, 2009 3:19 PM

    Crypto-fascist? – But from your description of TLR, it seems to promote the co-operation of races and, if anything, to play on racial views of the Indian (that he can’t hear what you’re saying even though you’re saying it right next to him – something only the bad believe) in order to achieve these ends.

  6. mishari permalink*
    February 18, 2009 3:27 PM

    Exactly, freep…The LR disdained all frivolity. His mien was stern. I’ve always modeled myself on him (except sartorially…not that I wouldn’t like to, mind, but the wife wouldn’t have it).

    Soppy girls were kept to a minimum, singing was eschewed and his relationship with the equally stern Tonto was healthy and manly. Today’s yoof are in sore need of such moral exemplars. The ghastly poltroon Russell Brand is creating a generation of vipers.

    You know, although The LR certainly never smoked, I can’t remember if this was common. I’m inclined to think not, seeing as how so many Western serials of the period were sponsored by cigarette companies.

  7. mishari permalink*
    February 18, 2009 3:30 PM

    I was being clumsily facetious, obooki. You’re right, though. The LR was ahead of the curve in many ways. Doubtless it’s why I’m the paragon of virtue that I am (cough)…

  8. BaronCharlus permalink
    February 18, 2009 5:54 PM

    Cowboys are important. Rich Hall did a good BBC doc on westerns a while back, relating the shifting moods and themes to America’s changing self-image. Obviously, you can buy all 400 seasons of Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps on DVD but nary a decent doc.

    High Plains Drifter is my favoutite although it hardly instils a sense of moral certainty. Red Sun – via 3p4 – is a masterclass in camp stereotyping. The Japanese, the French and whatever Ursula Andress is being all get the poster paint treatment.

    I had cowboy and Injun toys when I was little. Can you still get them or would that be like selling Aztec and Conquistador Playmobil or Tutsi and Hutu Lego?

  9. 3p4 permalink
    February 18, 2009 6:34 PM

    lets not forget JT Edson,,english postie and prolific western writer,,
    all his characters can be found as avatars on the net,,and when TLR was current so was Robin Hood (Richard Green) another strong theme music TV
    show,,and the next generation of righteous hero Kwai Chang Caine,, from Kung Fu kicking cowboy ass

    all screen cowboys smoked when dynamite was involved in the plot, (very true, 3p4, usually cigars which they blew on…phwwwwww…before lighting the fuse. JT Edson, whose books I’ve often seen but never read, was an English postie? Wow. –Ed.)

  10. freep permalink
    February 18, 2009 6:58 PM

    I hope you sometimes drop that stern mien, mishari. It can give your face more lines than smoking.

  11. mishari permalink*
    February 18, 2009 8:11 PM

    Too late, freep, too late…the fags, the drink, the dissipation, the goddamn mileage have done their work. I look like a swarthy Auden (minus the talent, of course…)

  12. February 18, 2009 8:31 PM

    I like the scene in the Third Man where the hero, a writer of cowboy books is invited to talk to Brit ex-pats who are under the illusion he is a writer of “serious” literature. The audience takes his ignorance of writers like Joyce to be a sign of arrogant genius .

  13. mishari permalink*
    February 18, 2009 9:26 PM

    I haven’t seen the film in over 20 years, Al. Is it the Joe Cotton character who writes Westerns?

  14. February 18, 2009 9:39 PM

    Yes he’s Rollo Martins. The scene I’m thinking about is more realised in the book but is in the film as well.

    I saw the film again recently. My dad was in Vienna after the war when they filmed it. It’s the real star of the film.

  15. mishari permalink*
    February 18, 2009 9:50 PM

    Greene was my idol in my teens, but I’ve only recently begun re-reading him.

    I just finished A Gun For Sale, The Lawless Roads, Our Man In Havana and England Made Me. The Third Man’ll be next…

  16. February 18, 2009 10:29 PM

    I like his The Ministry of Fear both as a book and Fritz Lang film. The film haunted me as a kid. I saw it aged about 8 one Sunday afternoon and since then could never remember what it was but the images hung around in my imagination. It wasn’t until I saw a book about Lang in the art college library years later which contained stills from the film that I found out that the reason the images were so powerful was because someone of the calibre of Lang had created them.

    Seeing it now the film isn’t that brilliant but it does have several great scenes in it – a night-time garden fete in bombed out London and a seance in the day-time. Both not taking place at the times they should which emphasises the jumbled up mind of the hero.

  17. mishari permalink*
    February 18, 2009 11:16 PM

    The Ministry of Fear is on my pile, along with The Captain and the Enemy, The Heart of the Matter, A Burned Out Case, Travels With My Aunt and Greene’s autobiography A Sort of Life.

    Did you see the fairly recent film of The Quiet American? It wasn’t bad and Michael Caine was excellent and Brendan Fraser, more usually seen in fluff like The Mummy films, was surprisingly good…

  18. February 19, 2009 8:33 AM

    Ooo, I just started Heart of the Matter – although alternating it with Lyttleton’s Britain when the brain has no energy to think, which is most of the time sadly…

    The new Korean film “The Good, the Bad and the Wierd” looks interesting – kung-fu & western fusion. Can’t stand westerns myself, but love the fantastic choreography of the classic kung-fu film.

  19. mishari permalink*
    February 19, 2009 12:07 PM

    Oh dear, Tink…can’t stand Westerns? You reveal a brutish and insensitive side to your nature. What’s not to like? Horses, gunplay, big landscapes, the Joseph Campbell Hero in various guises acting out his pre-ordained part…

    I’ll bet I could show you a Western you’d love, if only I could find it. I only saw it once many years ago.

    It was a Japanese Western. The ‘cowboys’ were all very short, wore enormous furry chaps, 20-gallon hats and rode Shetland ponies. They spoke Japanese but it had English subtitles.

    So you had these wonderfully absurd looking ‘cowboys’ speaking rapidfire Japanese, which sounds like someone sand-papering the cat, while the subs would read: ‘ OK, boys, saddle up. Tex and Cisco, you go for the sheriff; me and the boys will head ’em off at the pass.’

    I literally wept with laughter.

  20. obooki permalink
    February 19, 2009 12:40 PM

    Mish: apart from long time ago and Japanese, that sounds suspiciously like the Thai-film, Tears of the Black Tiger

  21. mishari permalink*
    February 19, 2009 12:48 PM

    Wow, that looks hallucinogenically riveting. I’ll have to get a hold of that. Thanks, obooki.

    The one I’m thinking of, however, is almost certainly a 60’s product. Probably dates from the same period as the Japanese Bond-like spy film that Woody Allen re-dubbed and released as What’s Up Tiger Lily.

  22. February 19, 2009 12:48 PM

    Mish – you can’t really argue that liking gunplay can reveal a sensitive side to a person surely? (I was kidding.–Ed.)

    And there’s usually something missing for the female audience I’m afraid.

    I am prepared to be swayed from my girlish viewpoint though, if you can remember the name of that Japanese film. Unless it is one and the same film which Obooki suggests?

    I think it was John Wayne who put me off – couldn’t see any attractive qualities in the man and his voice was like someone slowly vomiting into my ear …

  23. mishari permalink*
    February 19, 2009 12:51 PM

    Tink, didn’t you even like Eastwood’s great subversive elegy for the Western, Unforgiven?

  24. February 19, 2009 12:55 PM

    Erm… never seen it. I shall give it a go sometime on your recommendation.

    I liked him in Thunderbolt and Lightfoot… is that a western? Have I broken my own embargo?

  25. mishari permalink*
    February 19, 2009 12:59 PM

    Borderline, I’d say. It is set in the West, albeit present-day, (well, present-day when it was made), but the themes are typical of the classic Western. The older outlaw schooling the younger, the search for a hidden fortune, etc, etc.

    I liked it too, and Eastwood and the young Jeff Bridges were good together…

  26. parallax permalink
    February 19, 2009 1:01 PM

    I only know about the Lone-Ranger from one of larson’s farside cartoons, something along the lines of an old Lone Ranger sitting in an armchair, researching native american language and coming across the expression ‘kimosabi’ which meant horse’s arse or something

    give me a minute and I’ll *track it down* for you …

  27. mishari permalink*
    February 19, 2009 1:05 PM

    There’s also the ancient joke with The LR and Tonto captured by Apaches, who are heating up their torture implements.

    The LR says to Tonto, “Looks like we’re in a tight spot, kimosabby” and Tonto says, “What do you mean ‘we’, paleface?”

  28. parallax permalink
    February 19, 2009 1:13 PM

    here you are: not one but two cartoons

  29. February 19, 2009 1:20 PM

    Ever watched Joss Whedon’s “Firefly”? Sort of a sci-fi western series. Very good and under-rated.

  30. mishari permalink*
    February 19, 2009 1:42 PM

    I know the film Serenity that the series is based on. Very enjoyable film and also under-rated. Haven’t seen the series.

  31. BaronCharlus permalink
    February 19, 2009 1:58 PM


    re your ‘girlish viewpoint’: it was my mother that got me watching westerns to begin with. I never took an interest until seeing her VHS copies of High Plains Drifter, Fistful of Dollars, Josey Wales and Unforgiven. She hates Big Leggy too.

    My beloved is also becoming a western nut. Since xmas we’ve watched the Wild Bunch, Red Sun, Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid – an extra bonus for me as it features Dylan – Once Upon A Time in the West featured somewhere, too.

  32. parallax permalink
    February 19, 2009 2:11 PM

    hey mish, Billy’s lamenting your absence on poster poems – I feel sorry for BM – he’s held hostage by the GU camp. Any chance of sending out Tonto to hang around the thinkpods, to find out what the their dastardly ‘foward – thinking’ strategy is and then send LR (you disguised in a simple mask) to gallop in on (hi ho silver – or is that a different western thing – ok, gallop in on Mr.Ed) rescue Billy (who – to suit the genre will have to be dressed as female – the ‘tache might be a problem) and bring him back to the ‘Politely Homicidal’ camp for a nourishing pot of beans – then we can gather around the camp fire while he tells all about the horrors of … McCrumville

  33. freep permalink
    February 19, 2009 2:33 PM

    Nah, para, let’s stay huddled around these glowing twigs, while Mishari goes off to find some Robert W Service poems to read to us about the Triumphs of Stern Manliness. What I like about in this shady nook is that I can scoop loads of condensed milk out of the tin with this shred of bark, and there’s no Billy to tell me off.

  34. February 19, 2009 2:45 PM

    The film Serenity was made after the series. The series was very under-watched, so much so that after the film someone asked JW to make a series… to which he no doubt had some choice words to say! Series and film do not follow on. The film seems to retell the most film-worthy bits of the series. Very very good – you toddle off and watch that whilst I try out some clint Eastwood…

  35. mishari permalink*
    February 19, 2009 2:55 PM

    Yeah, I’m sorry Bill doesn’t drop by to unburden himself and I do regret having to take the position I do. But if there’s one thing The Lone Ranger taught me, it’s that a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do..

    Don’t knock Service, freep. He wasn’t subtle, I’ll grant you, but he had a certain, I dunno…butch appeal.

    I remember our much-missed comrade cynicalsteve laughing himself sick when I posted a Service poem on Carol’s POTW.

    Ha-Ha, Tink…gotcha…you’re a nerd. Only a nerd would know stuff like that. Isn’t nerdishness a very male thing? Do you attend Star Trek conventions? No matter.
    Live long and prosper.

  36. freep permalink
    February 19, 2009 3:07 PM

    OK, Mishari, while you go off to find a campfire verse, I’ll frighten Tink off with this fragment of Poe, from the Conqueror Worm:

    But see, amid the mimic rout,
    A crawling shape intrude!
    A blood-red thing that writhes from out
    The scenic solitude!
    It writhes! – it writhes! – with mortal pangs
    The mimes become its food,
    And seraphs sob at vermin fangs
    In human gore imbued …

    a propos of nothing, really.

  37. February 19, 2009 3:14 PM

    Oh no – don’t do Star trek or any other nerdy sci-fi. I am NO nerd. I know no Clingon and the only thing I like about Star Trek is killing people’s ears trying to sing along to the theme tune. Just liked this series as it seemed to be enough away from sci-fi to be acceptable and the same with the Western side of things.

    Should I be frightened?
    Should I be moving on now?
    Won’t the big boys let me play with them anymore? I’ll go and tell Mum…

  38. mishari permalink*
    February 19, 2009 3:16 PM

    Ask and ye shall receive. It’s trite and hackneyed and banal and yet…and yet…

    To make my body a temple pure
    Wherein I dwell serene;
    To care for the things that shall endure,
    The simple, sweet and clean.
    To oust out envy and hate and rage,
    To breathe with no alarm;
    For Nature shall be my anchorage,
    And none shall do me harm.

    To shun all lures that debauch the soul,
    The orgied rites of the rich;
    To eat my crust as a rover must
    With the rough-neck down in the ditch.
    To trudge by his side whate’er betide;
    To share his fire at night;
    To call him friend to the long trail-end,
    And to read his heart aright.

    To scorn all strife, and to view all life
    With the curious eyes of a child;
    From the plangent sea to the prairie,
    From the slum to the heart of the Wild.
    From the red-rimmed star to the speck of sand,
    From the vast to the greatly small;
    For I know that the whole for good is planned,
    And I want to see it all.

    To see it all, the wide world-way,
    From the fig-leaf belt to the Pole;
    With never a one to say me nay,
    And none to cramp my soul.
    In belly-pinch I will pay the price,
    But God! let me be free;
    For once I know in the long ago,
    They made a slave of me.

    In a flannel shirt from earth’s clean dirt,
    Here, pal, is my calloused hand!
    Oh, I love each day as a rover may,
    Nor seek to understand.
    To enjoy is good enough for me;
    The gipsy of God am I;
    Then here’s a hail to each flaring dawn!
    And here’s a cheer to the night that’s gone!
    And may I go a-roaming on
    Until the day I die!

    from A Rolling Stone by Robert W. Service

  39. freep permalink
    February 19, 2009 3:20 PM

    Tink. Please dont tell your Mum. And since you’re not a nerd you can have some condensed milk if you got your own spoon. The Service, gipsy of God, is great, mishari – I especially like the ‘pal’ of the last verse.

  40. February 19, 2009 3:21 PM

    Brokeback Mountain would have been mightily improved with the inclusion of a few of those poems.

  41. mishari permalink*
    February 19, 2009 3:24 PM

    Tink, did you ever watch Stargate (the series not the film)? My sons insisted on having the boxed set and I watched most of it.

    It was actually very enjoyable…mind you, I am a Science Fiction fan so I don’t get your “…enough away from sci-fi” crack….

    The fact is, a novel like William Gibson’s Neuromancer or Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash or Bruce Sterling’s Shaper/Mech stories make most literary fiction look like the pallid, self-referential wank-a-thon that it is…

  42. February 19, 2009 3:37 PM

    Brokeback Mountain would have been mightily improved if it had had Stargate’s plot too

  43. BaronCharlus permalink
    February 19, 2009 3:37 PM

    Mish, did you read Light by M John Harrison?

    Also, have you ever read a ‘horror’ novel you could recommend unreservedly? I’ve been trying to find a masterwork within the genre and I’m struggling. Actually, same question to all.

  44. mishari permalink*
    February 19, 2009 3:50 PM

    Al, I dunno…call it male intuition…but I’m getting the impression you weren’t hugely impressed by Brokeback Mountain?

    I haven’t got around to the Harrison yet, although friends have spoken highly of it and I intend to.

    Interesting question, Baron. Aside from the usual suspects, Lovecraft et al…I’d recommend Cormac McCarthy’s Child of God.

    Genuinely horrifying as it provokes both pity and revulsion, not just fear…

  45. February 19, 2009 3:51 PM

    Oh I give up… difficult to tell people’s tone sometimes in type – thought you meant sci-fi was bad, I must be less defensive. Nothing wrong with sci-fi, if it’s good sci-fi, although I don’t find much pure sci-fi passable and prefer the sci-fi with a twist, such as with the western slant with Fire-Fly.

    Star Gate is fairly watchable, although you don’t need box sets if you have Sky as it always seems to be on somewhere. And I suspect that it’s the presence of MacGyver which is the lure for me…

    Anyway, so I don’t start saying any more bad “cracks” I’ll just have a turn with the condensed milk (anyone got any choc sprinkles?)

  46. February 19, 2009 3:55 PM

    The beginning and sheep droving scenes were good, the general story was tragic but it was ridiculously drawn out.

    The Third Policeman as a horror novel?

  47. BaronCharlus permalink
    February 19, 2009 3:56 PM

    Thanks, Mish. I’ll check it out.

    Horror works so well in the short story form; less need for developed narrative or characterisation. Mood is everything, hence masters like Lovecraft, Poe, James and – I’ve recently discovered – Izumi Kyoka.

  48. mishari permalink*
    February 19, 2009 3:59 PM

    Tink, there’s no need to be defensive at all. If you think I’m talking crap (not unusual at all), say so.

    It would be interesting to hear why, but you’re not under any obligation to explain yourself to me or anyone else.

    This is not the Grauniad. There’s no such thing as off-topic and nothing is unacceptable except the genuinely poisonous…

    say what you like, when you like, to whoever the hell you like… mis-understandings can always be ironed out by people of goodwill.

    …ya feel me?

  49. BaronCharlus permalink
    February 19, 2009 4:00 PM

    Brokeback Mountain would have been mightily improved if it had been written by HP Lovecraft:

    At the Brokeback Mountain of Madness

    In a tough, conservative cowboy world, a man discovers his tender, secret love for a shoggoth from the Cyclopean abyss beyond time.

    (Alarming, wasn’t there a GU blog doing this a while back. Think you and I were amongst the only chumps to get reeled in)

  50. February 19, 2009 4:02 PM

    I’d say you lot are ready to see “El Topo”, then… the John Lennon-funded Zen-edelic Western masterpiece of Alejandro Jodorowsky (1970?)

  51. BaronCharlus permalink
    February 19, 2009 4:06 PM

    Did Lennon fund El Topo? Is it good? I saw Santa Sangre and was more outraged than a Daily Mail reader on a bendy bus full of migrant workers.

  52. February 19, 2009 4:06 PM

    Steven Magic Mountain is the Jodorowsky one to see with a war between toad armies where you get to see the poor toads being blown up in the name of early 70’s excess

  53. mishari permalink*
    February 19, 2009 4:06 PM

    Al, ever since I became part-man/part-bicycle, I’ve realized that The Third Policeman isn’t fiction at all…

  54. February 19, 2009 4:11 PM

    Baron – yes and we were told off by someone Who Knows Best.

    Down and Out in Brokeback Mountain By Little Annie Orwell. A bunch of tramps and waiters do each other in a tent half way up a mountain.

    Soon to be a major motion picture by Jodorowsky.

    El Topo is not as good as Santa Sangre but has a higher rabbit death count.

  55. February 19, 2009 4:14 PM

    Tink’s problem is that being a flighty fairy she’s usually in a state of confusion…

    I’m also only just getting used to this whole blogging malarky where one can really genuinely be onesself and not feel the need to fit in, so you’re probably witnessing me settling into it all to be honest.

    OK so I don’t “hate” any genre really, prefer not to watch certain things and I do get into the habit of lumping them all together in my head when I don’t like one example from that genre, which doesn’t really stand up to argument. As shown…

    Anyway, Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker, despite spawning the films which may or may not be seen as quality (although I liked ’em), is actually a good little novel (oops novella). Good imagery and descriptions. Not for the faint-hearted.

    Now are you talking about horror genre or horrific novels? Which could be two very different things. “Sickest” book I ever read would have to be Exquisite Corpse by Poppy Z Brite, although possibly that’s not what you’re asking…

  56. BaronCharlus permalink
    February 19, 2009 4:17 PM


    Hmmm. Guess I’m asking for novels that may include a ‘supernatural’ or ‘speculative’ element that have frightened the bejesus out of you. Thanks for the tips. I’m making a list.

  57. mishari permalink*
    February 19, 2009 4:20 PM

    I’ve seen El Topo but I guess it didn’t make much of an impression because I’m fucked if I can remember it.

    According to imdb–

    If you enjoyed this title ( El Topo), our database also recommends:

    Bob Guccione’s Caligula and Pasolini’s Salò o le 120 giornate di Sodoma (AKA the only film that I’ve ever seen to clear a cinema, accompanied by sounds of outrage and disgust.)


  58. February 19, 2009 4:23 PM

    Sadly, I’m no Jodorowsky expert; I’ve only seen “El Topo”, and that was 1.5 bizillion years ago. Maybe it would be as disappointing a re-viewing as “Steppenwolf” was but it lingers in my memory as richly fantastical.

  59. February 19, 2009 4:24 PM

    Oh Exquisite Corpse isn’t supernatural – it’s a serial killer type of thing, along American Psycho lines… which is also a great book.

  60. February 19, 2009 4:25 PM

    Ha ha! Good old Caligula! With Alex from Clockwork fisting a prole…(your sensitivity to the struggle of the urban proletariat does you credit.–Ed.)

  61. February 19, 2009 4:27 PM

    The description of hell in Portrait of the Artist by James Joyce unnerved me, a non-RC, non-believer. Though whether you can call a religious description of hell supernatural or speculative depends I guess.

  62. mishari permalink*
    February 19, 2009 4:29 PM

    Al, isn’t it more like the warning on the side of a fag packet?… “a lack of faith in the Baby Jesus will lead to the eternal flames”.

  63. BaronCharlus permalink
    February 19, 2009 4:29 PM

    re: ‘the only film that I’ve ever seen to clear a cinema, accompanied by sounds of outrage and disgust’

    You do know Salo’s not Rocky Horror, Mish? No audience participation.

  64. mishari permalink*
    February 19, 2009 4:33 PM

    Now that would have been interesting. My friend Lou (of Boston/NYC punks Lou Miami and The Kosmetix, dead of an OD) insisted I see it with him.

    By the end of the film we were amongst the remaining 6 people in the cinema and 2 of them were asleep..

  65. February 19, 2009 4:36 PM

    Like Bill Hicks’ crack about smoking – just shop around til you find a packet with a warning on the side that suits you. His had May cause low birth weight.

    El Topo is wonderfully dated. Perfect after a visit to an exhibition of photos by Joel-Peter Witkin another who exploited the Mexican authorities lack of interest in stopping exploitation.

  66. February 19, 2009 4:42 PM

    Re: cig packet warnings, I always pick the ones which will damage my sperm count, being a lady I consider this a positive advantage and it may even encourage me to smoke more of the buggers.

  67. freep permalink
    February 19, 2009 6:02 PM

    The most unsettling children’s horror story is Lucy Lane Clifford’s ‘The New Mother’: you can read it quickly here:
    Being pursued by a false mother with a wooden tail is very very horrific…

    (Whoa…that is a very creepy tale. Thanks for the link, freep. First I’d ever heard of this writer.–Ed.)

  68. February 19, 2009 6:38 PM

    “…(your sensitivity to the struggle of the urban proletariat does you credit.–Ed.)”

    If only more people knew!

    “Joel-Peter Witkin ”

    Christ, and I’d finally gotten that name out of my lingering nightmares reservoir…

  69. mishari permalink*
    February 19, 2009 8:56 PM

    Jesus, Al…your pal Joel-Peter seems to have a thing about chicks-with-dicks and decapitation.

    Definitely not coming to an Athena near you anytime soon…

  70. February 19, 2009 10:34 PM

    whilst working in Denver about 10 year’s ago I met a guy who’d worked as Joel Peter Witkin’s studio assistant. Lovely man apparently.

    But definitely wrong, in fact wrong with brass knobs on. He worked in Alberquerque and made frequent trips down to Mexico to take advantage of their carefree attitudes about cadavres.

    They are those pictures that you know are wrong but you’re going to look at them nonetheless.

  71. mishari permalink*
    February 19, 2009 10:40 PM

    That’s the way, Al…some guy who does fluffy huggy bunny pix is a monster, while the guy who does…what Joel Peter does…is a sweetheart.

    Ahh…the loathsome Toady McNulty is on Question Time. I hope someone tears the odious sack of shit a new one…

  72. February 19, 2009 10:52 PM

    The title of this blog “Head ’em off at the Pass” seems quite apt as regards Joel Peter.

  73. Captain Ned permalink
    February 19, 2009 11:32 PM

    Talk of prole-fisting and of horror stories reminds me of an amusing gorefest called ‘Society’, made in 1989, I think. It’s about a group of upper-middle-class monsters who disguise themselves as humans and feast on the poor. It’s a whip-smart film, and genuinely disturbing, with a climax that’s a riotous mix of amazing special effects and outrageously sick humour. If I tell you that the line ‘Now let’s get to the bottom of this’ (hence the prole-fisting connection) is uttered, I hope that’ll be enough to make you all seek it out.

    Westerns are a favourite genre of mine, too. I second Mishari’s admiration for ‘Unforgiven’ – perhaps the finest American movie of the 1990s. ‘Pale Rider’ is another great Clint-directed Western, as is ‘The Outlaw Josey Wales’. The latter was made in 1976, a year in which two other equally wonderful Westerns were released: Arthur Penn’s ‘The Missouri Breaks’, with Jack Nicholson and Marlon Brando (in drag), and Don Siegel’s ‘The Shootist’, famously featuring John Wayne’s final performance. Tinkerbell, I do hope a viewing of this film will change your mind about Wayne, because he’s marvellous in it, as is Lauren Bacall.

    Another favourite: ‘3:10 to Yuma’. I don’t mean the recent remake (which I haven’t seen), but the 1957 version with Glenn Ford and Van Heflin; it’s one of those small, unpretentious genre films that is nevertheless invested with a powerful moral weight. And the mention of Mexico leads me to recommend two of the most terrifically entertaining films I’ve ever seen: ‘Vera Cruz’, with Burt Lancaster and Gary Cooper, and ‘Duck You Sucker/A Fistful of Dynamite’, with Rod Steiger and James Coburn, who both provide memorable examples of great acting being able to transcend the most ridiculous accents.

  74. mishari permalink*
    February 19, 2009 11:38 PM

    Second all your film nominations, Cap’n, except Society, which I’ll seek out (sounds wonderful) and The Missouri Breaks. I just couldn’t get past Brando’s utterly bizarre performance…the peroxide do was bad enough but his accent…what the fuck was that meant to be?

    BTW, the re-make of 3:10 To Yuma is pretty good. Appaloosa is well worth a look, too. Ed Harris is always worth watching…

  75. February 20, 2009 8:08 AM

    Society – Brilliant!! The only film I’ve ever seen a person turned inside out! Wasn’t it a Sheen or an Estefez or some such type pulled out of his arse by his eye sockets… ?
    Ive never met anyone else who’s seen it and I get backed away from when I describe it!
    I have it on video somewhere…

  76. February 20, 2009 11:48 AM

    Whilst we’re on things that I swear I’ve seen but other people just give me a blank look when I describe …. it’s not a film, but a foreign kid’s TV series from the 80s (probably or late 70s) with a kid and a goose and what looked like a toast rack which could turn him invisible… ringing any bells?

    I remember Grimm’s fairy tales (the actual ones) being, well, very grim – toes being cut off etc.

    Also the scariest thing I ever saw as a child was a film where the main character was suddenly the same size as a load of toys and he was being attacked by toy soldiers and nasty looking wind-up toys, and possibly a witch and a cat… oh dear I can’t remember it well enough to describe it – sorry.

    Looks like I’m going to have to renew my sub to LoveFilm for all this viewing – don’t like them, but they are taking over the universe of postal rentals services, unless anyone has a better recommendation?

  77. February 20, 2009 12:05 PM

    Tinkerbell – it could be that old classic The Singing Ringing Tree – an East German T.V fairy story that confused and disturbed children in the late 60’s and early 70’s.

    If it isn’t it’s well worth a search. No doubt YouTube has several clips.

  78. February 20, 2009 12:06 PM

    By T.V I mean television of course not transvestites although some of them may have featured in the cast.

  79. mishari permalink*
    February 20, 2009 12:23 PM

    Tink, it’s a rare film or TV show that can’t be found on The Pirate Bay (link on this blog) or another torrent search engine like torrentz or mininova

  80. mishari permalink*
    February 20, 2009 12:27 PM

    In fact, The Singing Ringing Tree can be downloaded here

  81. parallax permalink
    February 20, 2009 12:33 PM

    ah, Alarming, transvestites … I was just talking about this down the pub* (not that it’s a constant topic of conversation of course) but we were talking about niche areas of some people’s expertise, and I knew someone who’d submitted a (successful) doctoral thesis on transvestitism in Australian literature.

    You’d think it’d be niche right? But, introduce it to the pub and there’s all sorts of bushranger references, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Dame Edna, sports programmes where rugby union guys do pythonesque dress-ups, Kylie, and on it went … all popular culture in support of the argument … but I’m intrigued enough to track down the thesis and see how it works in Aus Lit.. I’m imagining Patrick White will be a predominant figure ( given his predilections)

    *it is 11.32 pm as I type

  82. BaronCharlus permalink
    February 20, 2009 12:36 PM

    ‘*it is 11.32 pm as I type’

    Para, I remember your explanation to me regarding your location (on the Clerihew thread) as one of the moments the vast reach of the Internet really hit me.

  83. mishari permalink*
    February 20, 2009 12:40 PM

    Fascinating, para…as you say, you’d think it would be a very small niche indeed. Don’t remember it figuring much in Voss, although it’s many years since I read it…

  84. February 20, 2009 12:43 PM

    para I have read one Patrick White novel but know little of his predelictions – can you spill the beans?

    Great opening sentence btw “Ah Alarming, transvestites……” Concrete poetry.

  85. parallax permalink
    February 20, 2009 12:44 PM

    I am wearing a tutu as I type – it’s a method thing

  86. mishari permalink*
    February 20, 2009 12:46 PM

    Al, White was what our Antipodean friends call a poofter, which means he drank less than 10 gallons of Fosters a day and refused to shag sheep…

  87. mishari permalink*
    February 20, 2009 12:54 PM

    BTW, para, your comment on Edvard Munch’s ‘The Kiss’ :

    I’m sorry but what’s he kissing? An open-mouthed killer whale? Or is he barfing into a conical brown paper bag?

    …was perfect. I hadn’t seen it until you pointed it out…perhaps this would have been better…

  88. February 20, 2009 3:20 PM

    Looks like a brown paper bag to me – maybe he’s really just having a swig of rough scotch?

  89. February 20, 2009 3:36 PM

    Poofter, also known as Wooly Whoofter
    (this remark was deleted by a hyper-sensitive free-lance Grauniad moderator–Ed.)…

    God I’m bored…

  90. February 20, 2009 3:47 PM

    Bored at work I meant, not bored enough to be on your blog. .. you’re all obviously doing something interesting or important or sleeping in Para’s case I guess…

  91. MeltonMowbray permalink
    February 21, 2009 12:33 PM

    I’m not doing anything interesting or important. Sleeping is always an attractive option, though para’s case might be a bit cramped.

  92. freep permalink
    February 21, 2009 12:36 PM

    I’m doing very important things, so I really don’t have time to post trivial matters here. There are kingdoms to be won and lawsuits to be filed and redemptions to be redeemed and a dogg to walk. Sleep is even more important, because very significant dreams can add to your achievements. Last night I built a railway up a mountain. Herzog.

  93. parallax permalink
    February 21, 2009 12:48 PM

    I sleep naked in a trunk

  94. mishari permalink*
    February 21, 2009 12:55 PM

    …sleep is for weaklings. I live on bathtub crank and electric dreams visions…

  95. parallax permalink
    February 21, 2009 1:10 PM

    one minute beavers (or whatever rodenty-type things they were), the next tigers … what’s happening Mr.Ed?

  96. mishari permalink*
    February 21, 2009 1:15 PM

    …for some inexplicable reason, the link to the kissing prairie-dogs stopped working, so it was plan B…

    I can’t talk to you rough boys from down the road anymore because the boss says I have to go shopping…

  97. parallax permalink
    February 21, 2009 1:33 PM

    cool – so we get to clear out mish’s house while he’s away abusing his bank balance – whayya fancy lads? I’m taking Pongo – a king’s ransom for sure…

  98. February 21, 2009 1:37 PM

    I’m too busy pondering about whether I should prevaricate this afternoon (Don’t leap into indecision, Al…dither a bit–Ed.)

  99. mishari permalink*
    February 21, 2009 3:48 PM

    Well, that’s the fucking Waitrose nightmare out of the way for another week. It reminds me of nothing so much as Ernest Thesiger’s reply on being asked what the war had been like (Thesiger served in the trenches of WW1):

    “My dear, the noise…and the people.”

    I feelya, Ernie…

  100. February 21, 2009 4:01 PM

    freep – lawsuits to file? are you a law man? I was so bored yesterday as I was trying to understand the intricacies of security of tenure…yawn.

  101. mishari permalink*
    February 21, 2009 4:09 PM

    Why? Are you evicting some poor bastard?

  102. February 21, 2009 4:15 PM

    There’s a Punch cartoon of an Edwardian mother and her son recently returned from WW1 looking at a Vorticist painting of a soldier in the trenches ( identifiable as a Wyndham Lewis ) .

    ” Was it like this son?”
    “Thank heavens no mother”

  103. mishari permalink*
    February 21, 2009 4:49 PM

    There was an excellent exhibition of Wyndham Lewis’ work at the NPG last year, (online selection here).

    Also see his portrait of Pound…and this beauty

  104. February 21, 2009 5:07 PM

    I’m agnostic about Lewis but don’t feel as malignant towards him as that Punch cartoon.

    Like the Futurists he’s a great blast against the prevailing orthodoxes but also like the Futurists sometimes the paintings feel more decorative than subversive.

    Interesting that many of his group got involved in camouflage design.

  105. mishari permalink*
    February 21, 2009 5:18 PM

    I’ve always found Lewis fascinating. Marinetti was all mouth and trousers. Lewis didn’t just talk the talk, he walked the walk…

    ”the most fascinating personality of our time…the most distinguished living novelist” –T. S. Eliot

    ”the only English writer who can be compared to Dostoevsky” –Ezra Pound

    Also, check out his 1914 work The Crowd, a foreshadowing of the Russian revolution 3 years later if ever I saw one…

  106. freep permalink
    February 21, 2009 11:27 PM

    Tunk. Not a law man, tho I would like to be a sheriff and have the facility to rustle up a posse when needed. Just seen Che the Movie part 2 – not worth the bother. Unless you have a nerdish need to check how authentic the representation of Bolivian scrublands.

  107. freep permalink
    February 21, 2009 11:28 PM

    I meant Tink, not Tunk.

  108. February 21, 2009 11:55 PM

    Freep – Having worked in Alnwick I understand the need for a good posse. If I were sheriff I’d run that singing Italian restaurant owner out of town. He drove us mad when we ate there couple of years ago.

    How authentic was the Bolivian scrub? That TV show Cracker used to be the one that stirred my inner nerd. Areas of Manchester many miles apart that the characters seemed to be able walk to in seconds.

  109. mishari permalink*
    February 22, 2009 12:22 AM

    How many films (mainly American) have I watched where some actor walks out of Trafalgar Sq. makes a right and walks on to Tower Bridge or strolls down Haymarket turns a corner and is in front of Battersea Bridge…

  110. Captain Ned permalink
    February 22, 2009 3:01 AM

    Are the Soderbergh films any better than ‘The Motorcycle Diaries’? One of the most dismaying aspects of certain sections of the Left, I’ve always found, is the teen-posterish idealization of Guevara. Any suggestion that he might have been something of a thug is met with cries of La La La La! Not listening! US stooge! US stooge!

    The Salles movie tried to dodge all that by depicting his early life – trying to to be uncontroversial by avoiding all those unpleasant brutalities of later on. Look at Che! The romantic, sensitive young hero who proves his stalwart Socialist principles by swimming photogenically across a river! Oh, how glorious! Oh, how swoonsome! Oh, how nauseating!

    (Cap’n Ned was reported to the People’s Democratic Republican Security Directorate for the anti-revolutionary activity of spreading alarm and despondency. Before the miscreant could be brought before a People’s Tribunal, he committed suicide by binding himself to a post, blindfolding himself and shooting himself with 6 rifles. So perish Revisionist Running Dogs and Capitalist Roaders. Viva Che! –Commissar Ed.)

  111. February 22, 2009 10:16 AM

    Alarming – any chance the annoying singing Italian you ran out of town ended up in Manchester? Did he sing Elvis and touch you up?
    I used to get the grumping in my ear about Cracker’s jaunts around Manchester from my resident Mancunian too – I’d rather follow the plot personally!

  112. February 22, 2009 10:20 AM

    I don’t evict people, although I’m sure there’s a market for it at the moment, now the bottom’s fallen out of traveling carrot sales.

  113. parallax permalink
    February 22, 2009 10:52 AM

    Tink – UR in the US? I only ask because of the one ‘L’ in travelling.

  114. parallax permalink
    February 22, 2009 10:57 AM

    or more to the point – how do I know you by a different name?

  115. February 22, 2009 11:26 AM

    Tinkerbell I’d rather follow the plot too but ,controversially perhaps, of the 3 or so episodes I saw ( I gave it a chance ) the plot was so sketched-in and predictable that it was more interesting to look at what was going on in the backgrounds. Purely my opinion of course.

    Many of my acting acquaintances were detectives,policemen and waiters in the series as well so spotting them became a game

  116. mishari permalink*
    February 22, 2009 11:43 AM

    I see from Cracker’s wiki page that amongst the Manchester locations used is the ‘…Morrisons supermarket in Chorlton-cum-Hardy’.

    Ah, the glamour of show-biz…

  117. February 22, 2009 11:47 AM

    Mishari – also round the back of a terraced house I used to live in. Another glamorous location.

  118. parallax permalink
    February 22, 2009 12:12 PM

    Can I just say … The Bill had some sort of offshoot episode filmed in Sydney (MM will know, he’s a big Bill buff by all accounts) which was filmed two streets away from me – well the warehouse final bust scene was filmed two street away, the rest was all scenic harbour shots – and someone I know (because I had to sign some sort of release of images for broadcast documentation) is the blurred head seen when the credits roll – unfortunately the credits did not credit ‘blurred head’ with a name – ah, the vagaries of fame.

    … see we all have our brushes with fame and local backdrops

  119. February 22, 2009 12:45 PM

    No doubt there is a web-site where you can post film and TV locations close to where you live.

    Prime Suspect used to regularly film on the road outside my workshop. The Helen Mirren stunt driver for some reason was a man with a Helen Mirren wig.

  120. mishari permalink*
    February 22, 2009 12:45 PM

    Some of you with long memories may remember a station ident that was shown on MTV from the mid 80’s until ?

    In it, an old TV was shown. A leaf would spiral down to land on the TV set and the the VO would intone: “Fall (US word for autumn)…”, whereupon a gigantic amplifier would fall on top of the set, crushing it amidst an explosion of flames and smoke; then a leaf would spiral down to land on the TV set and the v.o. would conclude: “…on MTV.”

    It can now be revealed…I dropped the leaf and the amp. I was helping out an old friend who’d started a production company. The piece was their first commission. Sadly, my role went unappreciated and Hollywood hasn’t come calling.

  121. MeltonMowbray permalink
    February 22, 2009 1:08 PM

    That was a Bill offshoot, para. Bent officer DS Don Beech went on the run and ended up in Australia. There was an explosion in Sydney Harbour in which he apparently died. Naturally he returned in another short series called, yes, Beech Is Back, at the end of which he escaped custody and went on the run, where he remains. I’m sure he’ll be back again-too good a character for them to lose. The actor has since reappeared on EastEnders (UK soap). There’s a constant toing and froing of actors between the two shows which is (sort of) fun to watch. Both London-set so hard for tv execs to resist some easy casting (I imagine).

  122. February 22, 2009 1:14 PM

    Sad story Mishari but you join a long honorable list of unemployed leaf/amp droppers. Some have tried to branch out into dropping other things but have found tough Union laws bar their progress. It’s rumoured the Mafia have strong links to the dropping of bottles. There are plans to de-regulate name-dropping which might bring in a bit of work.

    I’d best get back to work hadn’t I?

  123. mishari permalink*
    February 22, 2009 1:15 PM

    Here’s a picture of me taken on the last day of business at a Barcelona institution, El Velodromo. A lovely, airy, old -fashioned bar. A friend said, “Your picture was in La Vanguardia the other day, a piece about the closing of El Velodromo”, and so it was. The paper has now put all its back issues on-line.

    I’m the fellow in the lower-left foreground on page 1’s main picture, one arm extended, other hand clutching a glass of beer, mouth open (inevitably).

    To see it properly, click on the page, then click on ‘decargar’. A small .pdf file will download to wherever you store your downloads and my god-like beauty can be viewed at your leisure…

  124. parallax permalink
    February 22, 2009 2:25 PM

    a series of thoughts, mish – non sequitur:

    high ceilings, cane framed chairs, fluorescent lights – there’s a touch of Graham Greene abroad, and a whiff of Death in Venice

    but that’s by the by, we should concentrate on the picture of you below – I’d suggest that it’s probably not that comfortable to wear your trousers hitched up so high when you go cycling

  125. mishari permalink*
    February 22, 2009 2:31 PM

    Para, that was when I was just starting out…cycling has made a new man of me… thank fuck.

  126. mishari permalink*
    February 22, 2009 3:16 PM

    Assuming that the New York Times archived the Metro section for that day, I could show you a shot of the back of my head taken at Sarah Lawrence (sister’s graduation)

    …but the NYT wants to be paid for access to pre-1987 archives and the sight of back of my head, lovely as it may be, isn’t worth paying for…(please feel free to dispute this contention).

  127. MeltonMowbray permalink
    February 22, 2009 3:27 PM

    Fucking Ada…. no wonder the bar’s empty.

  128. mishari permalink*
    February 22, 2009 3:39 PM

    Perhaps predictably, MM doesn’t appreciate the finer points of Catalan cycling attire on a physique sportif...

  129. February 22, 2009 5:14 PM

    El Velodromo sounds intriguing. Did you cycle round and round the bar until you were too drunk to carry on and fell off your bike?

  130. MeltonMowbray permalink
    February 23, 2009 12:10 AM

    Power of the Dog was very good, though I felt it could have lost a few pages towards the end. I was a bit disappointed by California Fire And Life. A little bit predictable, in the Grafton mould, and some of the writing was off-putting.

    She’s like, I wasn’t at the beach.
    He’s like, yes you were.

    I couldn’t see the point of this kind of Friendspeak. All right, the main character is a surfer, but it’s not first-person so why the obligation to narrate it that way? Puzzling. I’m on Bobby Z now and enjoying it, wife on Frankie Machine. It’s an All-Adwani house at the mo.

  131. mishari permalink*
    February 23, 2009 12:23 AM

    I feelya, dog…I agree with you re: Cal Fire& wasn’t up to the standard of The Power of the Dog. I’m not certain of the chronology. Perhap Cal F&L was an earlier effort.

    Bobby Z and Frankie Machine are better, though…

    There was a fairly recent film version of Bobby Z that wasn’t bad. At least it stayed faithful to the book…

  132. mishari permalink*
    February 23, 2009 12:27 AM

    According to wiki, the chronology is:

    # The Dawn Patrol (June 2008)
    (haven’t read it yet)
    # The Winter of Frankie Machine (September 2006)
    # The Power of the Dog (2005)
    # California Fire and Life (1999)
    # Death and Life of Bobby Z (1997)

    …so, who knows?

  133. February 23, 2009 10:38 AM

    Hi, no I’m not in the US, just infiltrated by a US spellchecker which has a mind of its own and rather a bee in it’s bonnet about my excessive use of Ls and Us and that I’m not fond enough of Zs.

    Talking of brushes with fame – I’ve played on the same concert as Ralph McTell… quality.

  134. parallax permalink
    February 23, 2009 1:08 PM

    ok – thinking that Ralph McTell may only be recorded on utube in B&W – I’ve since discovered (yeh, thanks wiki) that he did children’s TV programmes in the eighties

    soooowah …. where do you fit in Tink? part of the 60s folk crowd? An audience member from the 80’s? Or are you Ralph McTell’s mum?

  135. parallax permalink
    February 23, 2009 1:13 PM

    apparently, and another claim to B-list fame, one time Patricia Phoenix smiled at me :)

  136. February 23, 2009 1:16 PM

    I was playing the xylophone on the radio, as you do! He was doing some folk numbers in some concert. Early 90s I suppose. He had a very famous song – “Streets Of London” – the school choir favourite in the 80s (subversive “u” usage there – spellcheck thwarted)

  137. BaronCharlus permalink
    February 23, 2009 1:22 PM

    Ralph McTell will always be the man from Tickle on the Tum for me. ‘Tickle on the what…?’ etc….

    If we’re trading claims to fame, I supprted Pulp just before they got famous.

  138. February 23, 2009 1:23 PM

    Oops meant to say “same concert”…
    Lived opposite the school where they parked the catering bus for “Hetty Wainthrop Investigates” & the little hobbit is definitely partial to jam sponge…

  139. parallax permalink
    February 23, 2009 1:25 PM

    do B-listers spend their down-time(*1 )trawling local garden fetes(*2 )and community fund-raisers in exotic locations during the off-season?

    *1. when they’re not over-acting in soaps, or on talk-back radio
    *2. (there should be a chapeau on the first *e* of fetes but I’m stuffed if I know how to manipulate imported characters/accents into wordpress)

  140. February 23, 2009 1:28 PM

    Wow Baron you win!! are you still in the band? (or was it solo?)
    yours is genuinely impressive – I was going more for crap spot!

  141. parallax permalink
    February 23, 2009 1:32 PM

    ah, the xylophone, Tink – a great percussion (is it?) instrument – and a moment to savour, and share, if the mighty Ralph was close enough for you to smell his body odour. But the radio … whadda shame that your performance was only captured by sound – we’ve missed the sweat and high pommel flourish of Tink in action

  142. BaronCharlus permalink
    February 23, 2009 1:37 PM

    Band very much defunct, Tink. I was ‘singer’ in that one (but have used other methods to punish those with ears). No rock action for a long time although I have started up a new operation in the last few weeks, for amusement purposes only.

    Ralph McTell was highly regarded in his time; one of the many ‘new Dylans’ that were announced (and still are) with much frequency. As Para says, the xylophone is a great instrument.

  143. parallax permalink
    February 23, 2009 1:38 PM

    well,what I meant was …*smell* his *small* body odour
    (Sorted. Service with a snarl is our motto–Ed.)

  144. parallax permalink
    February 23, 2009 1:40 PM

    Oh don’t get sucked in by the Baron. I’ll have you know that I’ve slept with every member of Pulp, irrespective of gender… and all of their road team … and the whole front support row of security *

    *hi rodney – yeh, sorry about that…

  145. BaronCharlus permalink
    February 23, 2009 1:42 PM

    ‘don’t get sucked in by the Baron’

    If I ever set up a blog, para, that’s what I’m going to call it.

  146. mishari permalink*
    February 23, 2009 1:55 PM

    The actress and talk-show host Robin Givens gave me the green light back in 1984 (she was a friend and classmate of one of my sisters). Attractive as she was, I was otherwise engaged.

    She went on to marry Mike Tyson, a frankly baffling development, but one that made me sigh with relief, like a man who’s dodged a bullet…

    Actually, is it caddish of me to mention this? (Yes–Ed.)

  147. BaronCharlus permalink
    February 23, 2009 2:06 PM

    ‘is it caddish of me to mention this?’

    Not as caddish as para’s utter disregard for the Pulp road manager’s modesty. How can he show his face in society after this?

  148. mishari permalink*
    February 23, 2009 2:11 PM

    Why do think the bastard moved to Australia?

  149. parallax permalink
    February 23, 2009 2:12 PM

    look, Baron (and I’ve kept the photos) – rodney was a nice guy ok? A bit too heavy and bearish for my liking (when I’m sober), but you’ve godda do what you’ve godda do if you want to get ahead in this *famous* business

  150. mishari permalink*
    February 23, 2009 2:21 PM

    I was at school with Menno Meyjes, who wrote the script for The Colour Purple and one of the Indiana Jones flicks (can’t remember which one).(Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade–Ed.)

    I heard him on the Today program a few years ago, saying that his new film (again, can’t remember what it was called but was about the young Hitler and his failure to be an artist).(Max–Ed.)

    Asked by whoever it was why he’d made the film, he said: “I want to re-invigorate the debate…”

    Debate? What fucking debate? You mean whether it might have been better all round if Adolf had become a successful artist as opposed to a mass murderer and lunatic? Where are they having this debate?

    He always was a twerp.

  151. February 23, 2009 2:23 PM

    I laughed out loud at the suggestion for the Baron’s new blog (which reminded me of the question about whether a falling tree makes any noise if there’s no-one to hear it)…
    Aha – I have been on TV in a percussive capacity. How could I have forgotten?… oh yes because I was banging two stones together looking confused!

  152. parallax permalink
    February 23, 2009 2:24 PM

    Mishari, you know rodney? and the bastard’s in Australia? oh. my. god … I said to rod (and I think I heard a muffled agreement) that this was a no commitment exchange. I think I’ll be making an un-expected, no forwarding address, trip to Darwin

  153. BaronCharlus permalink
    February 23, 2009 2:26 PM

    Para, your story does explain one thing.

    The night I supported Pulp the band loaded and unloaded their own equipment. Also, they only played one – shakily performed – song, the only lyric – wailed in a dribbling croak – seemed to be “I feel so defiled”. The drummer wept openly. I guess they’d just come from down under.

  154. parallax permalink
    February 23, 2009 2:26 PM

    whoa – somehow the conversation’s changed to Hilter – give me a moment, I have to bury rodney

  155. mishari permalink*
    February 23, 2009 2:27 PM

    Darwin? Jesus, man, this is no time for half-measures…I understand the moon is very nice at this time of year…

  156. February 23, 2009 2:37 PM

    I’m sure I read some mathmatical formula about how the longer a conversation lasts the greater the probability it will end up on the Nazis, until eventually it’s a sure thing. Can’t remember the formula though.

    Just been flitting through, as fairies like to do, and notice I’ve been Grauniaded… tragedy strikes!

  157. mishari permalink*
    February 23, 2009 2:41 PM

    Actually, I’d no intention of bringing up Hitler. He was just mentioned in the context of brushes with..erm..fame.

    However, I watched Valkyrie last night and for the record it was as rancid and dishonest a film as it’s ever been my misfortune to see.

  158. BaronCharlus permalink
    February 23, 2009 2:42 PM

    My girlfriend was on the One Show the other day.

    We were in Picadilly and a BBC crew approached looking for foreigners to read out and translate some ‘shocking’ chat-up lines for Valentine’s day. She did so and we forgot all about it.

    Then she got an email from a friend asking why she’d been giving out chat-up lines on tv. They’d broadcast the clip (her face inside a love-heart shaped cut-out, ahhhh) and claimed it was her favourite line, rather than something she’d had shoved under her nose and been asked ot read out.

    The perversion of the truth within our institutions is limitless. Public apology from Mark Thompson still pending.

  159. mishari permalink*
    February 23, 2009 2:44 PM

    Sorry, Baron…your beloved will have to get into the queue behind 1.5 million Gazans…

  160. parallax permalink
    February 23, 2009 2:45 PM

    ah, the drummer, Baron – now that was a different story – yes, such a sensitive sod (delete) soul – probably more attuned to the Bavarian beat (in keeping with Mish’s Hitler connection) – and totally gobsmacked and out of his depth when he heard this rendition of Reckless

  161. February 23, 2009 2:46 PM

    Baron that’s shocking! goes to prove that the insidiousness that is reality TV is more about manipulation of the public by the programme makers than the fault of the public, which was a recent discussion of ours.

  162. February 23, 2009 2:49 PM

    Interesting to get opinion on Valkyrie – heard someone yesterday saying the sentiment behind it was wrong.

  163. mishari permalink*
    February 23, 2009 2:59 PM

    Tink, it was an utterly dishonest film in so many ways.

    Take, for example, the portrayal of Von Stauffenberg and the July plotters. We’re asked to believe that they were decent, brave and humane men doing the right thing.

    Bollocks. By July, 1944 it was obvious that the war was lost. The plotters simply wanted to be able to make terms with the Western powers, rather than have the Russians occupy Germany. They knew only too well the crimes that they and their compatriots had committed in Russia.

    For 10 years, these same men stood by and did nothing. They weren’t heroes. They were criminals and gangsters. They were simply more pragmatic than fantasists like Goebbels and Hitler. They wanted to save their own skins.

  164. mishari permalink*
    February 23, 2009 3:03 PM

    BTW, someone found this blog yesterday using the search term “sheep fucking”. Today, it was someone looking for “Nigerian sheep”…I fear we’re attracting riff-raff…

  165. BaronCharlus permalink
    February 23, 2009 3:04 PM

    Well that’s the last time I trust Tom Cruise on world history. It’s rather irresponsible to make movies like this as it might lessen people’s willingness to accept his expertise on Thetans.

    Oh, and para. That man knows all the drums: the big one AND the little one. Extra marks to the band for rhyming Antarctic with Arctic.

  166. BaronCharlus permalink
    February 23, 2009 3:06 PM

    ‘I fear we’re attracting riff-raff…’

    Just use the word Thetans a few more times and I’m sure that issue will be corrected.

  167. parallax permalink
    February 23, 2009 3:11 PM

    Fucking right, Baron – there’s drumming and then there’s percussion -like there are boys in checked shirts and other lads who think a high hat makes a difference.

  168. February 23, 2009 3:12 PM

    Yes that was the basic gist that they were not heroes just aligning themselves to the best side – were you the man on my radio Mish??
    I bet I know the names of all the drums too… anyway I’m going now to watch Firefly and eat Smarties, even the brown ones…

  169. mishari permalink*
    February 23, 2009 3:12 PM

    Yes, it’s sad…Cruise’s documentary films about the workings of America’s highly specialised law enforcement agencies were a treat. Altogether, now…Dum-dum-da-da-dum-dum-da-da-dum-dum…

  170. parallax permalink
    February 23, 2009 3:15 PM

    … Mr Ed … singular or plural – either way, whatever suits we can have *lads* and think or *another lad* and thinks … cheers

  171. February 23, 2009 3:22 PM

    So someone searched for sheep fucking and found your blog, ok, so I see three possible reasons why you’d know this… 1) the receipt of an angry email bemoaning the lack of promised content, 2) some extras from a Peter Jackson film knocking down the door, or 3) you found your own blog you dirty old buggar…..

  172. mishari permalink*
    February 23, 2009 3:27 PM

    Oh, the erotic possibilities of sheep have been mentioned, it’s the Nigerian sheep that have me this a variation on the usual scam?

    “Beloved friend, we notify you that we are holding 10 million sheep for you. If you will send $140 handling fee….”

  173. BaronCharlus permalink
    February 23, 2009 3:34 PM

    I’ve been rocking some 60s Aussie beat groups recently, para.

    You’ll know the mighty, might Easybeats but are you familiar with The Masters Apprectices, Ronnie Burns (previously of the Flies), The Lost Souls, The Twilights , the Missing Links, The Elois, The (Australian) Playboys or the Atlantics?

  174. BaronCharlus permalink
    February 23, 2009 3:39 PM

    And if anyone’s wondering what happened to Ralph McTell…

  175. parallax permalink
    February 23, 2009 3:40 PM

    Just use the word Thetans a few more times and I’m sure that issue will be corrected.


  176. BaronCharlus permalink
    February 23, 2009 3:44 PM


    I was only joking when I said we should use the word Thetans. I didn’t actually expect you to say Thetans. If you keep saying Thetans then anyone searching for Thetans will find all the times you’ve said Thetans on Mishari’s site.

  177. mishari permalink*
    February 23, 2009 3:44 PM

    Thetans are scumThetans are scumThetans are scumThetans are scumThetans are scumThetans are scumThetans are scumThetans are scumThetans are scum…L.Ron Blowhard was a thieving charlatan… Tom Cruise is a sissy…Scientology is a last resort for cretins and inadequates.

  178. parallax permalink
    February 23, 2009 3:49 PM

    I think Thetans have friday on their minds

  179. parallax permalink
    February 23, 2009 3:55 PM

    No, Baron I know nothing – you are a mighty thetan in charge of all music knowledge, including being a support band to Pulp. However should you tour over here as a support band I’ll will probably fuck your road manager and then the star act

  180. mishari permalink*
    February 23, 2009 3:58 PM

    Is that what passes for incentivisation in Aussie musical circles? I guess that explains Kylie and Rolf Harris (although I preferred his version of Stairway To Heaven to Zepp’s)

  181. BaronCharlus permalink
    February 23, 2009 4:03 PM

    Monday morning feels so bad,
    Ev’rybody seems to nag me
    Coming Tuesday I feel better,
    Even Xenu now looks good,
    Wednesday I’m a bored, poor kid
    Thursday getting audited
    I’ve got Thetans on my mind…

  182. mishari permalink*
    February 23, 2009 4:04 PM

    The Independent, 23 February 2009

    The jury was sent out today in the manslaughter trial of an artist whose inflatable sculpture blew away, killing two women inside.

    Maurice Agis, 77, denies killing Claire Furmedge, 38, and Elizabeth Collings, 68, by gross negligence when his walk-in Dreamspace exhibit flipped into the air on a sunny day in July 2006 at the Riverside Park in Chester-le-Street, County Durham.

    I do hope @Alarming remembers to properly secure his giant inflatable pig…

  183. parallax permalink
    February 23, 2009 4:17 PM

    yes mish, totally – although, I’d go with inductivism. The Baron get’s it – it’s a bit like posting a simon le bon link – same era, same earnest thetan – ness

  184. BaronCharlus permalink
    February 23, 2009 4:41 PM


    If I landed in Aus it would make the Funkadelic Mothership look like Ralph McTell’s tour Lada. My polysexual, polyamorous road crew would have you absorbed, funked and supremely on your bad thing before you could reach for the bleesed viscosity of the Midnight Oil.

  185. mishari permalink*
    February 23, 2009 4:48 PM

    Ah, Midnight Oil…funny you should mention them. I just listened to 10,9,8…etc, for the first time in years.

    It’s pretty good. Isn’t the lead singer now the Queen of Australia or something?

  186. February 23, 2009 5:16 PM

    Isn’t the singer of Midnight Oil an eco-warrior in parliament. Australian parliament – now there’s a thing. No holding back on the language or any sense of politeness. Last time I worked there we watched the Aussie equivalent of Prime Minister’s Question Time where someone was called a fucking wanker, everyone else talked fucking bollocks and someone was a shitfaced liar. No offence was taken from I could gather – this was just a normal session.

    Baron you’re scaring me please come back down from outer space. I was under the impression you were a fan of camping holidays in the Netherlands. But obviously camping and Netherlands mean something different to what I had naively imagined.

  187. BaronCharlus permalink
    February 23, 2009 5:18 PM

    I don’t know them well.

    btw, Mish, have you ever read Achewood? I meant to mention it on your comics thread. A very funny – and I think quite artistically acomplished – online comic. Not sure where the best place to start is, though, as it’s been running a while and all the characters are pretty developed, but this is one of the more accessible ones:

  188. parallax permalink
    February 23, 2009 5:21 PM

    yep, the blessed peter garrett (altogether now: ‘how do we sleep when our beds are burning’) is the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts (or, as we like to say, the Minister for fuck off bono )

  189. BaronCharlus permalink
    February 23, 2009 5:24 PM

    Sorry to frighten you, Al

    It’s the problem with juggling all these usernames. I thought I was posting as BootsyCharlus on goodgody’

    Just found out I’m registered as Sloppy_Henry on a site I’ve not visited for a while. And that’s NOT what it sounds like. SH was a splendidly ramshackle bluesman (only made one record, I think).

  190. parallax permalink
    February 23, 2009 5:25 PM

    Alarming, marvellous, that’s the way we spaek to each other – it might sound pugilistic but, fuck, at least you know what people think – fuck veneers, that’s what I say

  191. freep permalink
    February 23, 2009 5:25 PM

    Alarming 2 days ago: on Che the Movie part 2.
    I have never been to Bolivia, so the depiction of the Bolivian scrublands seemed like it was prob authentic. The whole film (more than Che pt 1, which was sort of OK) was so very truthful-seeming that:
    Che was just a rather lost bloke with a little rifle;
    the Bolivian govt was just any other S. American tinpot dictatorship;
    the supposed revolutionaries were just a gang of very ordinary blokes wandering about having the odd chat with peasants who had no idea they might be the victims of class war;
    and there was not a tittle of romaticism about the whole adventure, so that when Che got shot, he might as well have been a fox caught stealing chickens.
    As I knew next to nothing about Che except his value as a T shirt design, I was mystified. And the film supplied no context at all except saying it was faithfully based on Che’s diaries. Not much star quality, though Benicio del Toro looked like he’d do Ok on a T-shirt.

  192. parallax permalink
    February 23, 2009 5:27 PM

    of course there is a bizarre dutch heritage contingent that types spaek for speak – fuck it I’m off to sleep – it’s frigging 4.27 in the morning – fuuuuuuuuuuuuck

  193. February 23, 2009 5:38 PM

    Thanks freep and if you like carnival costumes look at those from the Oruro carnival in Bolivia – they are marvellous.

    There may be some scrub in the background of any photos you find on the net to compare and thus add some interest to what seems a dull and worthy film.

  194. February 23, 2009 7:19 PM

    “I heard him on the Today program a few years ago, saying that his new film (again, can’t remember what it was called but was about the young Hitler and his failure to be an artist).(Max–Ed.)”

    Oskar Kokoshka (I think it was) won one of the scholarships at the Viennese Academy (or whatever) in the year Hitler failed … he fled to Britain after the Nazis came to power and spent the entire war feeling guilty that he was partly responsible for it. – I find this an interesting emotion to explore, more so than Hitler’s failure and subsequent wallowing in self-pity.

  195. February 23, 2009 7:32 PM

    So general verdict that Che is accurate (ie not full of Valkyrie style wrongness) but a bit dull and uninformative? nice to know whether things are worth the effort, especially after sacrificing two hours of my life to the latest in the Mummy franchise last night!

  196. MeltonMowbray permalink
    February 23, 2009 7:52 PM

    ‘The rise of the Nazis-it’s down to me, guv!’ Kokoscha must have caught Adolf’s megalomania.

    Give me a Mummy over Che any day of the week. Hairy Argie dogmatist vs Rachel Weisz? No contest.

  197. February 23, 2009 7:57 PM

    obooki sorry to be thick but please elucidate – do you mean Kokoschka felt that his getting a place in an academy ( although wasn’t he an established artist by then and almost certainly one of the degenerates Hitler railed against ? ) denied Hitler an artistic avenue which led to him taking his frustrations out on Europe, Russia and Africa?

  198. freep permalink
    February 23, 2009 7:59 PM

    Correct, Tink. Not much wrongness, but not much drama either. I like a bit of wrong drama, me. Like carcasses in the gutter, gloomy music, cackles and the glimpse of a sequinned grey hat on a landing.

  199. mishari permalink*
    February 23, 2009 8:23 PM

    The Minister for Fuck Off Bono? My hat’s off to Oz. Let’s hope others follow where you lead…

    Thanks for the link, Baron…interesting looking comic.

    So, now we know. Kokoschka was responsible for WW2…bloody artists.
    I’ll be keeping a very sharp eye on my neighbour Ms. Emin. I now realise she could be more than merely a stench in the civic nostril…

  200. February 23, 2009 8:31 PM

    New Mummy film was sans Weiss, which it seemed made all the difference!

  201. February 23, 2009 8:32 PM

    Carcasses in the gutter, gloomy music, cackles ? Sounds like Stockton-on-Tees on a Friday night.

  202. mishari permalink*
    February 23, 2009 8:38 PM

    The last Mummy film wasn’t bad but it did strike me as a little tired…I wasn’t as entertained as I was by the first 2…

  203. MeltonMowbray permalink
    February 23, 2009 9:02 PM

    I’ve only seen the first two, both of which were fab apart from that stupid kid in no.2. I hoped the Mummy would juice him but you know it’s not going to happen. DC Terry Perkins from The Bill was in the second, always an indicator of a class film. Che vs The Mummy-wouldn’t mind seeing that.

  204. mishari permalink*
    February 23, 2009 9:12 PM

    Would Che bring The Mummy to his bandaged knees with furious revolutionary dialectic? Would The Mummy rip Che’s head off and vomit flesh-eating scarab beetles down his neck?

    A tough one to call. A dead bore vs a really dead bore…

  205. February 23, 2009 9:27 PM

    Cynics I’m sure Che would sit down with the Mummy and tell him that a.) he’s objectifying women b.) he has unfocussed anger management problems c.) he’ll never make a good poster image.

    In Mummy 1 or 2 I didn’t like the way they gratuitously killed off the old WW1 flying ace/old buffer who was good enough to fly them to where they needed to go – can’t remember if it was away from danger or into the heart of the mummy/locust storm/evil cloud of evil.

    Further proof that pensioners get a raw deal in today’s blockbuster.

  206. mishari permalink*
    February 23, 2009 9:37 PM

    Pensioners (in the form of Ed Harris and Viggo Mortensen) get a much better deal in Appaloosa…a pretty decent Western, by the way…and Harrison Ford was semi-hemi-demi-plausible in the last Raiders film…

  207. February 23, 2009 10:09 PM

    Ooo it’s all changed on here – we’re getting put into neat biege/taupe type boxes – eek I fear change! Mummy the First was best -that was the one where the old pilot got his hero’s burial in quicksand. Latest one – the son was a cheap Matt Damon-a-like, the mother was rubbish somehow, Brendon Fraser didn’t seem to be bothered to join in until half way through, it picked up when the yetis turned up though… woeful underuse of Jet Li and the general martial arts contingent – could have been a very different film!

  208. mishari permalink*
    February 23, 2009 10:22 PM

    Yeah, sorry about the new look…I’m just playing with various options in the wordpress control panel. I kinda like it so far, but we’ll see…

    Agree with you about Tomb of The Dragon Emperor. It could have been so much better. It just seemed to me as if they were on cruise-control…

  209. February 23, 2009 10:36 PM

    Yes cruise control is a good way of putting it – probably the curse of the franchise…

  210. freep permalink
    February 23, 2009 10:55 PM

    mish – you have removed time. I am dismayed and in the dark.

  211. mishari permalink*
    February 23, 2009 10:59 PM

    Sory, freep. I hadn’t noticed. I should be able to bring it back. Give me a minute…

  212. Captain Ned permalink
    February 23, 2009 10:59 PM

    Another decent Western of recent years is ‘Open Range’ (2003), directed by and starring Kevin Costner. As interminable and insufferable as was ‘Dances with Wolves’, this one’s actually pretty engaging in its corny, old-fashioned way. The supporting cast is as juicy as the genre demands – Robert Duvall, Michael Gambon, Diego Luna, Michael Jeter, James Russo. Annette Bening is outstanding in it.

    I’m afraid I couldn’t make it through ‘The Mummy’. In lame films, few actors are lamer than Brendan Fraser – who can actually be quite good in decent roles. It’s not that I’m wholly averse to that kind of hokum: it was bad, but just not bad enough – its badness was of a professional standard, one might say. Much more entertaining is a hilarious farrago called ‘Talos the Mummy’, which was made about ten years ago and which I saw on a coach during a school trip. Christopher Lee, Honor Blackman, Shelley Duvall, Jack Davenport, and many other well-known faces, all making complete tits of themselves – great stuff, and fondly remembered, especially for the unintentionally hilarious downbeat ending.

  213. Captain Ned permalink
    February 23, 2009 11:04 PM

    I’ve just seen that the guy who made ‘The Mummy’ also made ‘Van Helsing’. Now that is a compellingly bad film – watchable not because it’s enjoyably awful, but because one watches, riveted, in disbelieving horror that something so atrocious could ever see the light of day.

  214. Captain Ned permalink
    February 23, 2009 11:06 PM

    Of course, for unintentionally hilarious endings, nothing can beat the drawn-out conclusion to ‘The Return of the King’.

  215. mishari permalink*
    February 23, 2009 11:07 PM

    Van Helsing was surreally awful. Still, I enjoyed it rather in the same way I enjoy McGonagiggle’s verse…

    I can’t work out how to get the time back, freep..perhaps this theme doesn’t support it, although I doubt that. I’ll investigate further and try to soothe your sense of temporal dislocation…

  216. February 23, 2009 11:13 PM

    I saw Van Helsing one Xmas. As one of the monsters fell off Notre Dame Cathedral (or some such ) and splatted on the ground one of those ITV messages scrolled along the bottom – If you are having a bad Xmas please call this help-line –( a message presumably aimed at watching monsters–Ed.)

  217. MeltonMowbray permalink
    February 23, 2009 11:16 PM

    I’m sorry to say you have fallen in my estimation, Captain. One glimpse of Costner’s ovoid noggin and twinkling smile is enough for me to reach for the remote.

    • mishari permalink*
      February 23, 2009 11:33 PM

      I dunno, MM…Costive wasn’t bad in Silverado and I even quite enjoyed Waterworld, which wasn’t as bad as it was made out to be. An over-the-top Dennis Hopper (is he ever anything else) is always fun to watch…the way things are panning out, Waterworld might be prescient…

  218. February 23, 2009 11:21 PM

    The inference being that the seasonally suicidal would be pushed to the edge by Hugh Jackman? I liked him in The Prestige.

  219. mishari permalink*
    February 23, 2009 11:30 PM

    Sorry, freep. Until I can figure out how to time-stamp posts, you’ll have to live with temporal disorientation.

    I quite like Jackman and The Prestige was pretty good. However, Australia, which I watched about half of the other night is the biggest pile of steaming ordure I’ve seen in many a year. An apalling, wretched, wincingly rotten film…to be avoided at all costs.

  220. February 23, 2009 11:32 PM

    MM In the spirit of trying to be open minded I attempted to watch The Postman when it was on TV. It really is self-regarding nonsense. I am always prepared to lower my standards ( such as they are ) in the name of couch potato TV gawping but in this one I had to readjust my standards to a new low so frequently that my body couldn’t take it. Bad but not in a so bad it’s good way, just the old traditional bad.

    • mishari permalink*
      February 23, 2009 11:34 PM

      Oh, Christ yes, Al…The Postman stank up the screen in every possible way.

  221. MeltonMowbray permalink
    February 23, 2009 11:57 PM

    My daughter insisted I watch 91020 (or whatever it is) tonight. That is crap TV to the max. A part for Costner surely beckons.

    • mishari permalink*
      February 24, 2009 12:02 AM

      I thought they’d axed that horseshit years ago, if it’s the one I’m thinking of…pampered Beverly Hills teens desperately trying to be interesting and failing dismally?

  222. Captain Ned permalink
    February 24, 2009 12:03 AM

    Look, I’m hardly a Costner cheerleader, MM – I said that ‘Dances with Wolves’ was interminable and insufferable. ‘Waterworld’ (pace Mish) and ‘The Bodyguard’ are similarly wretched. Which is why ‘Open Range’ was such a pleasant surprise.

    Plus I’ll always think of ‘Prince of Thieves’ with affection. It’s as quotable as ‘Casablanca’.

    • mishari permalink*
      February 24, 2009 12:07 AM

      Prince of Thieves will forever be on my shit list for inflicting that fucking awful dirge of a theme song on an innocent public.

      “Evathin ah doo, ah doo fo yoooooooo….” fuck off and die, you Canadian shit-bag….

  223. MeltonMowbray permalink
    February 24, 2009 12:11 AM

    I think it’s an old prog refurbished, so I you’re probably right. It’s apparently a cult amongst the student class. Thanks to Gordon the poor bastards will probably never get a job so they might as well settle down to some serious TV watching.

  224. MeltonMowbray permalink
    February 24, 2009 12:12 AM

    You’ve gone up in my estimation, Captain. (The Mowbray Index of leading shares…as volatile as Wall St and just as profitable–Ed.)

  225. parallax permalink
    February 24, 2009 7:13 AM

    oh, a new format design mish – a splash of eau de nile and white truffle, I see … very nice.

  226. February 24, 2009 8:05 AM

    I likw Jaxqyes Tati’s film The Postman, but I don’t suppose it’s the same thing…

    Prince of Thieves would have been excellent without Costner – everyone else was so much better than him – Mike McShane and Alan Rickman especially… he didn’t even get his own arse out… in later years I’m glad I’ve never seen Costner’s arse mind.

    I was raised on Richard Carpenter’s Robin Hood – no other will do.

  227. February 24, 2009 8:06 AM

    Oops – random spelling of Jacques there – can’t find my glasses this morning…

  228. February 24, 2009 8:41 AM

    Tinkerbell sadly Kevin Costner’s “The Postman” doesn’t “quite” have the same eye for delicate physical and visual comedy that Tati displays. Tati also doesn’t have Kev’s Messiah-come-to-save-us complex or if he did he managed to keep it under wraps.

  229. mishari permalink*
    February 24, 2009 11:42 AM

    The story is that Tati was in a line of distinguished Frogs being presented an award of some sort by De Gaulle. When he reached De Gaulle, the General was having trouble placing him, whereupon an aide leaned over and said to De Gaulle, “Mon Oncle”.

    De Gaulle nodded at the aide and said to Tati, “You must be very proud of your nephew.”

    (To get this joke, one has to know that Tati’s best known film at the time was “Mon Oncle”–Ed.)

  230. 3p4 permalink
    February 24, 2009 8:35 PM

    I was raised on Richard Carpenter’s Robin Hood – no other will do.

    how about Richard Greene ?

  231. February 25, 2009 4:58 PM

    Mish – I think I probably like Hulot’s Holiday better (I know I should write that in French but it escapes my tired brain), although I need to give the Postman another watch properly, only having caught half of it on a rare (although not so rare now clearly according to the subject of your newer post) purchase which I was just previewing before giving to my Father as a gift. My resident action film fan (husband) couldn’t see why it was funny, whilst watching me not being able to breath … takes all sorts to make the world go round!

    There is no shaking the place of Carpenter’s Robin of Sherwood in the heart of a girl who discovered Michael Praed prancing around in forests in early teens…

  232. March 10, 2009 11:29 PM

    Hm. I am reminded that the film with Jacques Tati playing the postman is in fact called “Jour De fete” – oops – I remembered whilst writing the first non-poetic post (well non-poem anyway) on my blog today about the healing powers of comedy…

  233. March 10, 2009 11:30 PM

    Eurgh – I am now green and not pink! More sorcery…( Apparently, the avatars are generated according to the email address you enter. Perhaps you signed in using a different address?–Ed.)

  234. March 11, 2009 12:06 AM

    I think that might be it … I’ll see what this one has.(There you go…though I preferred green, frankly–Ed.)

  235. March 11, 2009 1:44 PM

    Each to their own!

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