Movies with my Mother: A Day of Fury (1956)

pgrsaao8ibpxesyj2a5u3y1eixv(Reposted from….wow, way back in 2017.)

“Dun duuuun dun!”

“Jagade? Never heard of him.”
“He’s fictional.”

“See, a brown horse. You wouldn’t be able to tell in black and white that he was riding a brown horse. It’d just be a black horse. Or a white horse.”

“Jagadi. Jagati?”

“What’s she always looking at?”
“Him.”

‘Windah.’

“He’s pushing his luck. He is!”
“He’s doing it on purpose.”
“Yes, but he is pushing it! Look at him!”

” ‘Excuse us. Give us a minute please.’ ‘Beat it?’ ”
“The kid deserved it.”
“Could still be polite.”

“See, look, he actually knows how how to ride.”

“What’s she doing?…checking him out?”image-w1280

“Bet you someone saw her.”
“Yep, see, the other girl. Ungrateful!”

“Uh oh, ambush. Ambush!”
“No, it’s the girl waiting for him….oh, it’s the other girl. Huh.”

“Noooo, you can get down without his help.”
“They always do.”

“Tell me what happens when I get back. […] What did he do to the schoolteacher girl?”

p41247_i_h10_ab“They’ll turn against him. Look, she turned against him already.”
“Yeah, but he knows it.”
“That lady didn’t want that girl to come back, look.”
“He does it on purpose. He pushes people. He likes it.”
“And they turn against him.”
“Yeah, but when people try to fight back he kills them.”

“What. Did that. Prove.”

“He just told you everything you needed to know, now go back.”

“Uh oh, uh oh did he really send that young man?”
“He didn’t but he’s been egging him on the whole time.”

“Uhhhh ohhhhh.”

“He a big man, he got a gun, huh.”

“Too bad.”
“He might survive!”

[very nearly simultaneously:]
“Turn around…he’s going to turn around…”
“Uh oh I can’t look, when you can’t see people’s backs, they’re gonna see something–”
[he sees something and it’s genuinely shocking]
“Uhhhohhhhhhhh!”
“Oh my gosh!”

dia2bfuria2bfoto2b2[“One of us will explain later.”]
“Teehee!”
“Good one.”

“All that is sass. The marshal said get, now.”

“What! Why did the bell get him!”
“The preacher beat him–mostly by being shot–”
“Wait. How?”
“The preacher stopped them, they were about to lynch the marshal. And the marshal was their only hope. So the preacher beat him, and there was enough of them to ring the bell. Or something.”

“I didn’t know he was faster!”
“Of course he’s faster, he’s the good guy.”

“That was a good movie.”
“It was intresting.”

Or *mis*heard….

“Hi, I’m Riders, I used to work here. B gave me the OK to go behind the fence and just say hi to the tigers.”
“Oh, okay. Uh…okay. Um, when you’re done just come back through the East Barn and make sure the gate’s latched.”
“Sure.”
“So, okay, just have fun and be careful.”
“I’ll try :3”
“….w-wait, did you just say, ‘no promises?'”
“No…did I?”

The Shadow #143 – The Fifth Napoleon

shadow_magazine_vol_1_143So I didn’t even guess that this one was a Theodore Tinsley book until I looked it up on the wiki; before that I had it filed as “well, this was a weird throwback.” The Shadow’s agents are almost completely absent; plot elements jar against the neat and tidy New York that nearly seven years (of publication history) has assured us The Shadow’s efforts have produced; and The Shadow himself (seems) weirdly absent in his own story. Tinsley does a much better job at approximating Gibson’s voice….this time it’s the construction that made me scratch my head a little.

The bulk of the plot concerns a chess match between the Four Napoleons Plus Their Mysterious Leader, and the charismatic and vicious mob boss Tiger Marsh. The Shadow himself is visible primarily only in the disguise as “Lifer” Stone, a criminal released from Sing Sing….IDK, somehow….in order to….IDK, do something? Except Joe Cardona bumbles that, which means that the ersatz Lifer doesn’t get to….IDK, do something else? That he was planning to do? I’m still not sure why Lifer was intended to do, anyway; he’s described as a killer, but killers are a dime a dozen for either side anyway, so…

Meanwhile, the Napoleons are trying to, I dunno, snarfle some money or something and Tiger Marsh is trying to get it from them. And there’s a Judge and his beautiful but dimwitted daughter and then there’s her fiance, who is an editor of The Classic. Or something. The four Napoleons are big-time racketeers, but they are completely cowed by the Fifth, their merciless leader, who also runs a weirdly group of agents, to boot. (Meanwhile, other novels have assured us that not only is being a crime lord a pretty good death sentence in New York these days, thugs are getting weirdly thin on the ground due to The Shadow’s policy of offering them a choice between jail and a one-way ticket to a tropical island.*) Then one of the Napoleons ends up dead and The Shadow delivers a packet of highly incriminating papers to Judge Sherman, except that Judge Sherman’s daughter (did we mention she’s a moron?) is promptly kidnapped by Tiger Marsh!

There’s also a sequence wherein The Shadow infiltrates the Fifth Napoleon’s high-rise lair (in fact we find out that it is only one of many); and honestly I should have twigged it at this moment. A good author sets the stakes and then lets a scenario play out to its finish. A great author sets the stakes, lets the scene play out, and lets the natural end result of the scenario raise or lower them. An uncertain author, or just a poor one, sets the stakes and then keeps attempting to raise them artificially, by injecting fake and unnecessary difficulties into the scene.

The first time I ever twigged onto this was in reading Ice Station by Matthew Reilly. There’s a pool of hungry orcas! There’s a kid on a sagging beam above them! Her fingers are slipping! The beam is on fire! The hero crawls out and grabs her even as her fingers fail and she falls! But ’tis OK, he grabbed on to her hood! BUT OH NOES THE BUTTONS OF HER HOOD START TO POP  OFF ONE BY ONE BY ONE!

Now, that was an extreme example and nothing in this book rises remotely to that level…but in the better books, it doesn’t happen at all. The focus stays exactly where it needs to, without zigging off in unnecessary directions, and without unneeded, artificial, unwanted drama. You want to raise stakes, do it at the end of the chapter when the hero bursts into the room, not five times in five paragraphs during the bit while he’s just sneaking up to the door.

(Also The Shadow escapes by diving off a high-rise balcony onto a nearby, lower rooftop pool and badly scares a sunbathing blonde in the process, which is just clumsy, really.)

So, anyhow, with some digressions but with a decent amount of aplomb and a great deal of headlong energy, the plot continues with the cat-and-mousing of Tiger Marsh and the Napoleons. By this time, between Tiger, mysterious gifts of highly incriminating and specific evidence, and the doggedness of Joe Cardona, the Napoleons are definitely on the run and Lifer Stone is rather mysteriously absent. But the tables have not finished revolving yet, and neither has the trick floor in the second, back-up lair. (Revolving floors and trap doors are so prevalent in fiction….well, fiction of a certain genre…that you half-expect to see them in real life. But they’re not practical in the slightest! Think about all the extra effort it would take to make an actual revolving floor that slid down and then rotated away and then clicked back up. Think about how hard it would be to maintain that mechanism! Labor costs for the repair guys! Parts sourcing! Build times! Project secrecy!)

Rated: Anyhow, it’s a good 7/10, and what color are The Shadow’s eyes anyway?

*not kidding about the tropical island. It’s for the potentially-reformable hard cases and they’re kept under the watchful eye of sociologist Slade Farrow.

Best of – Overheard or Spoken at the Tiger Sanctuary

img_20200407_130554Reposted for the benefit of posterity:

“Hey Riders will you take this next tour? I know it isn’t your turn but–”
“It’s good, my search for tips is endless.”
“Hah, I got forty dollars once.”
“Apparently J got tipped a hundred.”
Mother[bleep].”

[sung] “Oh where oh where has my capuchin friend gone,
Oh where oh where can he be? Is he up in the outside
Or will he come in for ve-eee-ggie straws?”

“Billy!”
[ROAR]
“Come try to kill me over here!”

“I gave Leo his meds…A2 was able decoy the lionesses away. I guess she looks tasty!”
“Must be all them bones.”

“OK, Leo, it’s hose time.”
“Riders, you sound really excited.”
“…I’m going to spray a lion with a hose and you’re going to force-feed him chicken. What’s not to be excited about?”

“Did Leo get his meds?”
“Yup.”
“Good!”
“Yeah, I went over and I pulled his mane through the fence, and then when he turned to snarl at me I shoved the chicken into his mouth.”
“…”
“I feel very accomplished.”

[dart gun training by an ex-Marine]
“Ok, so safety is paramount. Never point a gun at something you do not intend to shoot. So if you point this at anyone, I’m gonna punch you.”

(And on a particularly crazy day:

“Riders! Hey this is really weird, do you know if anyone here has size seven shoes?”
“…I’ll check.”
“Yeah please thank you, M1 had a boot blow out on her and it’s raining.”

Riders, walking west: “M1, are you feeding Farah?”
“I was but she’s being a bitch so I’m making her suffer.”
“…ok.”
Riders, walking east, five minutes later, overhears:
“Open your f*cking mooouuth!”

“Riders, can you give A2 her boots back? And tell her I said thank you from the bottom of my…soles.”)

And on another day:

“M1, M1, do you copy?”
“I copy, go ahead.”
“The llama just chased us out of the pasture and he’s got our tools still in there.”
“OK, copy. Can you reach them to get them out from the outside?”
“We just pulled the rake out but now he’s humping the shovel.”
“….copy.”

“Hey, M1, what would we use to knock out the llama?”
“What?”
“What drug would we use to knock out the llama?”
“That’s what I thought you said.”

“Where’s my kitty?”
“Excuse me, I think you mean my kitty.”
[from the next room] “You mean my kitty?”

“If you love something, let it go to its box.”

“I used to be the shy quiet kid who hardly talked to anyone.”
“That sure changed.”

[to a female wolf] “Kala, you are such bitch.”
“Did you just call Kala a bitch?”
“Biologically accurate.”

“I got video of Murder Eyes trying to stalk me!”
“He a cutie-patootie, he do that.”

“I feel like the lionesses are checking out [large male tiger].”

[after giving Large Male Tiger a pig head as enrichment, with great success]:
“Murder Eyes would prefer a human head, wouldn’t he…”

“Oh G*d these animals! Does everyone want to eat Midnight’s food except her!?”

“Where them kittens at?”

“I don’t mind Midnight sleeping in my room. I do mind it when she steals my bed.”
“Oh, like she did last night and you yelled at her?”
“You heard that?”
“Yes. You were like, ‘Midnight! Get OFF my bed!‘”
“Well, yeah, it was two in the morning and I also had to get up at twelve to let her into my room because she was scratching at the door–”
“Yeah, I heard you then, too. You said, ‘Midnight, if you keep on whining I’m going to be really mad.’
“I petted her afterwards so she knew I wasn’t mad.”
“You sounded mad.”

“I hope we can let Bob roam the house tonight, he keeps attacking my feet through the covers and his claws are very sharp.”
“I went out and bought a new duvet because he kept biting my toes.”

[The next day]
“They’re so much calmer today!”
“Yeah, they’re settling in.”
“I only heard you yelling at the dogs twice last night.”
“Um.”
“And you only thumped on the wall once.”
“Does that actually work?”
“It works on me!’”

“Billy just creeped me out. He was humping his ball and then he looked at me and chuffed.”

“If the dogs have storm anxiety, I [the shelter veterinarian] can do something about that….”
“How are you going to do that?”
“Druuuugs.”

[the cat jumped down from the window. Very loudly.]
“Holy [bleep], Bob! That was like the curtains just dropped a deuce.”

[Sung] “You put your right arm in,
You put your left arm in,
You put your right arm in,
And! A tiger rips it out! Hooo-wheeee!”

“Yeah, that would never fly here. If one of us got our arm ripped off, we’d be fired.”

img_20200417_101853“M2, are you OK with feeding Harry [large male tiger] and Krishna [larger male tiger]?”
“Yes, I think I’m good.”
“You can handle them? They do get kinda loud.”
“I mean, with all the big boys I do expect to get rawr’d at.”
“…rawr’d at?”
“Yeahhhh!”
“…is that the technical term?”

“Hey Z, do me a favor? Read over this Facebook testimonial I’m doing and see if it’s too passive-aggressive.”
[…]
“Nah, it’s not passive-aggressive at all.”
“I thought bit about ‘communication and leadership’ was a bit snarky.”
“Nobody but us will get that you’re being snarky, because literally nobody in this organization knows what communication is or that they’re bad at it.”

cOnVeRsAtIoNal TrAfFfFffiC

“Apparently [] died down in Florida, and I was like, ‘Oh, did the stabbing do him in?'”

“Fun fact: rabbits do not thaw out in twenty-four hours.”

“No one’s gonna be very productive at five in the morning.”

“I told that doctor, it’s a good thing I don’t know any shady vets or else I’d just go to them. They’d get it done cheaper and probably they’ve got more experience than him, too!”
“You did not say that to his face.”
“I did!…he just looked at me and his eyes were real big and he just started laughing.”
“….I see why you don’t want them to put you to sleep for the surgery now.”

“I even bought him a cover thing for the tractor…the beloved tractor.”

“Let me know if you need me to move the car again, it’s off to the side now but I’m afraid of parking it down the hill.”
“Hey, I’ve got a tractor. Won’t cost you much!”

“I’m gonna back out of here…I’m just not gonna try the hill. Well, maybe. G has a tractor. He’ll pull us out.”
“Yeah, for a price!”
[Riders reversed her vehicle down a 1/8 mile driveway rather than risk the hill.]

“So there’s a person over there named Goodman.”
“And they live in Goodman?”
“No! They live in Anderson. And the Andersons live in Goodman. Which is not confusing at all.”

“Some day I’m gonna get her to smile. Maybe I’ll have to buy her roses.”

QuikReview: Boss Level (2021)

boss_level_ver3So due to hazardous road conditions in my area I’m stuck at home; and after receiving a ringing endorsement from film-authority for the rom-com Book of Love, I decided to watch Boss Level.

Overall….it’s fun movie. There are some directly meta bits (“Is that a katana?” “Psht, no, that would be Japanese.” “Let’s not bring racism into this.”) which don’t quite stick out like sore thumbs because the entire tone is so self-referential to begin with. There’s also a slam against “liberals,” which made me smile even though it’s the villain who makes it, so.
There’s not a whole lot to say about this movie that hasn’t been said already or made abundantly clear from the trailer. It’s a movie.

It has a beginning, an middle, a twist that raises stakes, and then an end. It has handsome and charismatic Frank Grillo, who handles the rather disappointingly basic action scenes with aplomb. It has Mel Gibson, uttering a performance that wouldn’t have gone amiss in a much better movie. It has about Michelle Yeoh, probably only present because someone in the production acquired compromising photos of her and negotiated her presence on set for an hour or two. I like to imagine she beheaded said producer with a prop sword when filming was done and left the set unchallenged. It has a cute kid who is not even annoying. It has an assassiness with her own tagline (“I am Guan Yin. And Guan Yin has done this!”) which probably really confused my coworkers when I added it to my email signature yesterday.

It’s a fun movie and I rather liked it.

Problem is: this could have been a serious, fun movie. It could have been a contender. It wouldn’t have been very hard, either. All it would have taken was a few more adjustments: a little bit less meandering during the first/discovery half of the movie, a little bit more earnestness during the action scenes, and a lot more focus on Grillo discovering the plot rather than getting humorously killed and reset dozens of times.

(There was also enormous potential for the damsel/girlfriend to be the ultimate villain/ess…given that she unhesitatingly and unapologetically used Roy and sent him to a horrible death literally hundreds of times, without his consent. Her character remains something of a blank because of this. Now, it could have been very simply solved by a very short line of dialogue along the lines of: “It’s been a long time since we were together. Would you still come and rescue me if I needed it?” “Of course!” Or, even with just the assurance at the end that “Hey. When I come back, will you go out with me again?” “Yes. Always.”

People complain about damsels having to be rescued. What they ought to complain about is damsels who don’t deserve to be rescued. As it is, lacking these notes, the damsel-mastermind came across [to me] as fairly unsympathetic, and this whole plot thread in my mind is simply fan speculation, adding depth and complexity to a script that doesn’t have and isn’t interested in such things. Oh well.)

Rated: an act of love and self-defense ought to be praised.

Also rated: I AM GUAN YIN AND GUAN YIN HAS DONE THIS!