Sunday, May 26, 2019

Sunday Music: Petula Clark

In honor of the good folks in Old Blighty having the good sense to kick their PM RTFO, some happy music from the most delightful British Invasion export of the 1960s.

First, courtesy of the would-be bumper intro to Bill Whittle's YouTube Stratosphere Lounge vlogs (before the copyright bahstuhds made him cut it out):

(Ignore the sync issues. Enjoy the HQ audio)
Which was the follow up to this one that absolutely rocked, all the way to #1:
Memorial Weekend Tie-In Bonus Points if you can remember this being blasted out in the cockpit of a cinematic A-6 Intruder by Brad Johnson and Willem Dafoe over Hanoi, after unauthorizedly shacking SAM City:
But yes, I much prefer Petula's version.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

TV Review: Yellowstone

Yellowstone, with the original cast.

I'd seen the trailers, and Costner generally manages to be likeable and interesting in just about anything he does, even if it sucks, so I figured I'd give this one a look.

He is, and this does.

The Good
This is better TV than 99% of what's out there now.

The Bad
How low that bar is cannot be measured with existing instrumentation.

The Ugly
I'd seen teasers for this last year, mainly in movie theaters (because no one who can help it watches TV anyways, apparently). So when it appeared in the store as a complete season, I figured it was worth checking out as a binge-watch, commercial free, because what's come out as movies lately has been every bit of dung-heap stinky for most of 2018 and 2019.

So, you get to see Kevin Costner as a cowboy (which, after Silverado and Open Range isn't a bad thing). And you think you're going to be getting an anti-PC take from a character who the whole world is coming after, in a turn worthy, or at least vaguely reminiscent, of John Wayne, back from the dead, however dimly.

Instead you get something you've undoubtedly seen before.
Allow me to explain.

Long about Episode 3 of the first season, you realize what you're watching.
It's not the saga of the patriarch of the Dutton clan bravely holding on to a piece of Montana "as big as Rhode Island".

What you're actually watching is Don Vito Corleone thuggishly protecting the Family business, in this case the Yellowstone Ranch, right next to the national park of the same name.

Except, no surprise, Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, Robert Duvall, James Caan, and Talia Shire did the whole thing so much better, with Francis Ford Coppola telling the story.

Don Vito starts out the wronged man, beset by the Tartaglias, who want to build a condo development in Corleone territory. Connie is out of control and alcoholic. Then the Solazzo mob rustles his cattle. Sonny gets whacked stealing them back, and war hero Michael avenges that, but it costs him the life and relationships he was cultivating outside the family business. Connie is out of control and evil, and Tom Hagen saves Sonny, only to become Fredo, because he's not a war-time consiglieri, leaving Don Vito with only Connie and Michael to stand with him against the cops, TPTB, and the rest of the Five Families.
That's all of season one in a paragraph.

Like I said, you've seen this before.
Except the original cast was far more compelling, much better actors, and the story was more interesting before they all put on cowboy hats. And it's beyond tough for Costner, surrounded by a cast of basically nobodies, to carry this whole thing by himself, try mightily though he does.

It's well-shot, and the scenery is nice for not being NYFC or anywhere within the Thirty Mile Zone centered at Beverly and Vine, with intermountain Utah doubling for Montana. (I leave it for actual Montanans to tell me how well they do with making Utah pull off Big Sky country. My guess is it's okay, but not quite the real deal.)

And they keep pulling off a few human interest moments to misdirect you into not noticing that Costner's character is just a criminal p.o.s. with a better legacy and better real estate location.

I'm telling you this to save you time, and possibly money.
I've worked on countless TV shows where the plot was a 42-minute version of Any Great Movie You've Ever Seen, and they always turn out exactly like you'd expect of lobster and champagne, time compressed, and shot on a beer and Cheese Whiz budget.

This is a teensy bit better than that in the looks department, but the drama suffers, and the plot literally comprises every point I outlined above, and that's 10 hours of TV, which means 10 weeks of production minimum, to get something Coppola did better in 6 hours over two movies.

The only reason I can figure for Hollywierd doing this series this way is to undermine decades of the Ponderosa, the Barclay Ranch, the High Chaparral, the Wilder farm, Paladin, Matt Dillon, Bret Maverick, and everything you might remember of that and countless other beloved Western shows, to the point that by the fourth or fifth season of this crap, you'll be rooting for the Indians and the EPA when they both swoop in and peck this miserable criminal enterprise to death, pick the carcass clean, and crap it out.

This is lazy storytelling rebranded and camouflaged, and mediocre TV at its most mediocre, and the only hero in this whole sad tale will be anyone with the sense to switch channels or turn the damned box off. Having done that a decade and more ago, experiences like this confirm the perpetual wisdom of that decision.

Unless the whole thing goes belly up before they can pull that off.
Which, judging by Season One, should probably happen about 3/4ths of the way into Season Two, if there's any Nielsen box office justice involved.

Never have I seen a show that more richly lives up to The Biz standard T-shirt punchline:
Theater is life.
Film is art.
Television is furniture.

More's the pity. They could have made a modern classic Western show.
Instead, they're just filling bags of rose fertilizer, straight from the steer's southern end.

Tip: If you want to see Costner in something far, far better, watch Tin Cup.
And then Draft Day.

Movie Review: John Wick III - Parabellum

Best described elsewhere as a training film, I'll get right to it.

Imagine if William Shatner beamed down to the planet of zombies with just a sharp stick, with the entire non-name cast as the crew of the Enterprise, all beaming down to the planet with him as redshirts.
That's pretty much the pitch room plot for this one.

I enjoyed the original John Wick.
I tagged along for JW II, even though it was as big a set-up for the inevitable sequel as was The Empire Strikes Back.
But seeing this one was almost a chore.
Thankfully I paid matinee price earlier this week, not full boat in prime time when it opened last week.

To its credit (and rather more because this has been one of the most god-awful box office years for Hollywood in some time, when last I checked), a mid-week midday matinee was still half full. Which says more about how atrociously craptastic the "competition" was the week before Memorial Day.
Unfortunately, the main reaction was groans and laughter at the panoply of ways the writers found for Mr. Wick to exterminate all comers with extreme prejudice, from beginning to end.

As best as I could tell (I didn't bring a clicker, but should have) his final body count was 103, by actual count. Somewhere around #10 they jumped the shark, but Keanu Reeves rode that bitch right up to the end of the movie, hanging on to the dorsal fin right until the finish.
But not content there, they decided to go for a grand slam as well: they set up the inevitable John Wick IV: Moar, Harder, Faster! in the last scene.
Maybe he'll up the body count to north of 150.

Saddest part about III was that the snotty b*tch most deserving of a sticky Wickian ending out of this ride walks away scot-free at the end, an oversight they desperately need to correct in the next training film.

And as always, Ian McShane is worth watching in any film, even if he's just reading a toothpaste tube.

The best news about him is that someone finally pulled their heads out, and Hollywood is apparently releasing a Deadwood movie shortly, to make up for the early and abbreviated Season III cancellation of the most profane Western morality play ever to grace cable TV.

Al Swearengen is one villain/hero c**ksucker who's needed to make it to the big screen for years. They'd better do him justice.

By all accounts, Reeves is a good guy IRL, and put in the hours of prep to learn how to handle firearms for real with live rounds well enough to make this look effortless. And rides and designs his own motorcycles, thus probably did a lot of his own bike riding for the flick as well. For a two-fer, AFAIK, he hasn't pulled the usual Hollywood two-face, and mock decried the guns that have given his career an endless boost since the first Matrix flick.

But the last movie that transitioned a character from presence to farce like this was Schwarzennegger in Commando, (to which I did bring a clicker).

Having seen the first two in the series here, I wasn't expecting Shakespeare, but this was like eating a five gallon bucket of unbuttered popcorn, just because it was there.
If the screenwriters for the next go-around take more inspiration from Aaron Sorkin and less from Sam Peckinpah, it wouldn't be a bad thing. Just saying.

Unless you thought Dexter and The Walking Dead were comedies, skip this one until it's in the fin bin at WallyWorld. Forget about TV or cable: they'd have to cut so much out of it to broadcast, it'd be 30 minutes shorter. Maybe even 120 minutes shorter, IDK.

OTOH, if someone ever commits the supreme sacrilege of remaking The Great Escape, Reeves will have the mileage and chops to almost pull off a creditable turn if they cast him in Steve McQueen's role. Not asking for that, mind you, but if they did, they could do worse. And have.

My Rating: Once more into the breach.
But with the proviso that nobody shoots this many people in real life for the same reason nobody shoots up bricks of .22 by themselves on a Range Day: you just get sick and tired of all the reloading.

Things That Make Me Go Hmmm; and Grrrr!...

...and pretty much thoroughly piss me off at the same time.

A national hot dog company we shall not name used to sell their product in a resealable ziplock pouch, because some of us don't eat eight hotdogs at one sitting, and we don't like the green ones we find when we put the open package back in the fridge for a few days. Then, some eager halfwit flunkie trying to make a name for himself in the marketing department took that feature away. So now, we buy zip lock baggies to fit, and the hot dogs of a different brand as punishment to the idiots who "improved" something that worked as designed. Feeling bright now, jacktards?

When we stop there, why do the counter idiots at the drive-throughs put onions on the mustard and onion dogs as if they were free by the ton, such that more onions fall off into your lap than go into your mouth, try as you might to avoid that, but then backwardly apply the mustard with an eyedropper like it was actual gold, and coming out of their own paltry paychecks? Were their parents never married or something, or were they just bred and fed on lead paint chips?

What corporate retards at Levis, Wrangler, Dickies, et al, decided that it would be a good idea to make a beautiful, simple, functional actual real leather belt, rather than some plastic synthetic "leather-like" piece of $#!^, and then screw up the execution by cheaping out to save 50¢ on the whole thing by putting on some half-assed buckle with a pot-metal cross-bar that will catastrophically fail the very first time you wear it (ask me how I know this), instead of a solid hunk of brass buckle that will function flawlessly for a lifetime, and still be around when your grandkids find it? {Word to your mothers, retards, I have a local leather store that sells solid brass buckles, I own a rivet kit and heavy duty sewing awl, and I can thwart your cheap-$#!^ nonsense in about twenty minutes, and make a belt that will outlive me, and you. But I shouldn't have had to do that, should I? You @$$holes.}

I get that the Fourth of July is coming up in a paltry six weeks, and it sneaks up on retailers with a tedious predictability every 365 days. But why in blistering f**k does any retail genius think that they should start making cupcakes that far out, as though we were going to start stockpiling them over a month and a half in advance?

Whose brilliant idea was it at the FDA and frosting companies to make food coloring for icing that's indigestible, to the point that you make Technicolor turds in brilliant blues, verdant greens, and blood red that would make a hospital lab assistant pop their eyes wide open if it were submitted as a sample?

And while we're on the subject of red and blue, who decided, long about 1992, to flip-flop the party colors? Democrats have always been the Reds in this country, and Republicans have always been Blue. I live in a Red State, complete with the hammer and sickle most days, not a Blue one anymore, and not the other way around. Did they really think no one would notice, or that we'd stop associating communist-lite with the real thing, just because they changed the color scheme that was in play from about the late 1860s?

And so goes another Saturday.

Bring back corporal punishment for such stupidity: make companies hold an open house annually, and have a designated executive on hand for the bitch-slapping to commence.
We'd be a better people and a better country for it.

Friday, May 24, 2019


h/t Borepatch

After doing everything in her miserable grasp to thwart the clearly expressed wishes of the British people regarding Brexit, Prime Minister May December has finally heard the squeaking of the tumbrel cart wheels, and can see the torches and pitchforks of the distant mob approaching, and will be leaving her office after the mother of all drubbings in the recent parliamentary elections.
(LONDONISTAN) Standing in front of 10 Downing Street, Mrs. May said it was in the “best interests of the country for a new prime minister” to lead Britain through the Brexit process.
Good riddance to bad rubbish. Pity she's clinging to the office for another few days.

She's indeed fortunate that her leaving isn't for a piano-wire necklace at the end of a lamppost, after being ritually scourged from 10 Downing Street to Traitor's Gate.

Apparently the actual British citizens remaining there would have had to blow up the Chunnel to get any respect, if politically beheading the ruling party at the polls didn't send the message across clearly enough.

I had written No Longer great Britain off completely, but perhaps there's still some life in the old corpse left.

And after the examples of Trump, Bolsonaro, Oz, and now this, I wouldn't go long on the chances of the Evil Party here in 2020.

Cheer up: things are not as bleak as they seem. And they never are.

(For those inevitably wondering about the title, it starts out "Don't Let the Door Hit You...". You can work the rest out for yourselves.)


h/t Irish

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Boring is The New Black. And It Always Has Been.

I like John Wilder's blog.

Can't help posting this clip. I love it.

That's why I added it to the Blogroll over to the right --->
the first day I found it. (And binge-read about two years' worth.)

Today's offering is another good one. He talks about a familiar Hollywood trope.
And I share his opinion, yet again. Our agreement so frequently is an indisputable measure of how brilliant he is.
(Although I do not share his fascination with PEZ. I would just buy a bag of candy, and forego the ritual of loading tiny candies into a sawn-off dispenser decorated with someone's head, because I'm a cut-to-the-chase kind of guy.)

Today's post put me in mind to reply there. But it got too long, so he lost a long comment, and I get a blog post. And now, so do you.

One of many differences between Hollywood scripts and Reality v1.0:

IRL, the hero-become-bum doesn't wake up, decide to turn himself around, and become Rocky.
He lives in squalor, catches a cold, works it into pneumonia, and he dies, right there in that rat -infested alley.
Every. Single. Time.

People IRL with their crap together never become the bum in the alley, because they're not that stupid to begin with.

To stab another trope in the heart, they don't get on the suicide mission with the Hero, not even with a parachute.
Because they never get on the Plane Ride Of Death to begin with.

Kids have fairytale storybooks.
Grown ups have movies.
Some of them are valuable, accurate, and teach valuable life lessons, or they're just hella good entertainment that scratches our cultural itch for a happy ending. (Not many of those lately, but the few we get tend to be exquisite.)

But the best life lessons don't make good theatre.
Stay in school.
Get married before you have kids.
Stay married.
Live within your means.
Save for what's important.
Make prudent preparations for tougher times.
Don't play stupid games; don't win stupid prizes.

There's a stack of those scripts in a landfill, because no one would pay money for such predictably obvious common sense.

Hollywood (like some blogs) has learned that Bad Decisions Make Good Stories.
"Tragedy is me stubbing my toe.
Comedy is you falling off a cliff."
- Mel Brooks

We've noted in these pages that the ironclad recipe for every drama, good and bad, is always the same as the template for every episode of Rescue 9-1-1:
a) Intractable forces of Nature
b) Human stupidity


"A rattlesnake crawls into the yard.
Marge left her three-year-old toddler playing outside unsupervised, so she could concentrate on her soap opera.
Let's see what happens next."

"The Coast Guard forecast a full gale warning.
But Biff has a shiny new 25' cabin cruiser to take out for his first day on the water, with no radio or safety gear.
What could possibly go wrong?"

That's not just Rescue 9-1-1 melodrama, it's every day life.
I work in the ER. Ask me how I know.

"An M-80 has a substantial amount of explosive force.
Timmy elects to hold a lit one in his hand anyways, because beer.
What happens next?
Tune in tomorrow to hear the sad ending of 'My New Nickname Is Lefty.'"

This sort of reality-that-isn't-news is true in courthouses everywhere.
And jail booking desks.
And unemployment counters.
And loan shark offices.
And every search and rescue call center, since about ever.
And casinos from coast to coast.
And on and on and on.

Take either component A or B away, and you lose the whole drama.
(And hey, good luck getting Nature not to be intractable.)
So that leaves the one variable that can always be changed.

Skid Row is full of people who jumped into "B", with both feet.

It's never to early to not make poor life choices.

But the world is full of people who realize that after they jump into the enclosure to pet the polar bears.

We call these people "examples".
And if fortune smiles on their efforts, we call them Darwin Award Winners, First Class (no offspring).
Because those genes aren't going to cull themselves.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Quoted For Truth

This embiggens.

And with one flowchart, he undid the last 40 years of Guns&Ammo, Guns, Gun Digest, twenty-seven lesser rags, two FBI weapons selection tests, and the last three military attempts to find a new standard service pistol…

RTWT over at Commander Zero's internet bunker.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Storm Warning

From comments:
Aesop, do you anticipate any of that (the indictments and prison time you mentioned) actually happening? I have zero faith that it will. Zero.

You may be right.

I know what should happen, but not what will.

That uncertainty alone is cause for great alarm for anyone with any common sense.
The entire point of law is that it be fixed and reliable for all.
Without that, when it's random and capricious, it's worse than no law at all.

If there aren't indictments, trials, and convictions over what's gone on, I can tell you what I do have faith will happen: there's going to be war.

Not a tantrum, or a disturbance, or a riot, or even some low-intensity nonsense.
It's going to be a full batshit war. It will come in its own time. Maybe slow unfolding, maybe all at once. But come it will.

People are going to start looking for an excuse, any excuse, and then they're going to find one, and hunting season will be open. And once it starts, it's going to spiral out of control, like things do, and one side or the other will become extinct before it's over.

The social construct in this country is that every two to four years, we have peaceful revolutions at the ballot box.

Now one side doesn't want to play by that any more, and has spent two years subverting every branch of government to support a slow coup against an elected president. Either we nip that nonsense in the bud, and people responsible pay with their lives spent in prison for a decade or two, or we're going to start getting governments by hard coup, with all the trimmings, and we've seen how that's played out, from Russia in 1917 to Venezuela yesterday.

Folks won't wait to be rounded up, they're going to go looking for the troublemakers, and standing them up against the nearest wall.

And anybody, including police, government, or military, who picks the wrong side, will get stood right up against one too, to the last man.
And if they're very, very fortunate, we won't go looking for their wives and kids after that.

That's the lit road flare the current crop of jackholes in Congress, and the perpetrators of the Russian collusion hoax, are juggling in a wading pool of gasoline.

They're about one more cover-up, one gun grab, or one attempted impeachment, away from finding out what the old rules look like in practice. When you have to take a hand, and you won't be left in peace, there's no percentage in sitting it out for another day, and a lot of people are going to start taking a close interest in their neighbors, with a view to culling the problem from hell to breakfast, until they work their way all the distance to the top of the totem pole.

I suspect a lot of other societal dysfunction is going to get a blowtorch up its tailpipe as part of the show.

The prospect of such times frankly scares the hell out of me, but not as much as the prospect of sitting on my hands and watching the crooked communists in power march ever onward, and plant 100M of their friends and neighbors in mass graves.

Because that's where we are headed if nothing happens, and no one cares.

Now imagine if, ten or twenty or thirty years ago, someone had told you such a thing would be discussed seriously.

As CA says frequently over at WRSA:
This is where we are now.
Imagine where we'll be.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

The Robbespierre Denoument

All revolutions turn around and bite their instigators.
Ask Trotsky.

Comey, Clapper, and Brennan, along with twenty to forty lesser-tier crooks and thugs, should be looking at the ass-end of 10 years in the federal pen for committing fraud, abuse of official office, conspiracy to violate civil rights, and the treason of a slow coup for everything they did from 2015-present, and it should probably drag in a couple of former AGs, a former Secretary of State, and Hopey Dopey himself.


Otherwise this is purely a banana republic, and you'd better get ready for what happens when the Chavistas are back in power, because all bets about any law will be null and void at that point.

You will either be shooting your way out of socialism afterwards, or on your way to the cemetery or the gulag.

Same old same old will no longer be an option. They want you dead.
This is how you get a civil war, wanted or not.

Sunday Music: Gimme Shelter

The pre-eminent rock anthem of all time, unbelievably 50 years old, and if I were pressed to do without all of the Rolling Stones catalog but one song, the one I would choose.

Dedicated to local weather, which was shorts-and-t-shirt July yesterday, but schizophrenically cold, drizzly March today.

Dig it.