Tag Archives: Quentin Tarantino

Cool Elmore Leonard

For this Mystery Monday I want to tell you about a great American writer whose name you might not know: Elmore Leonard (1925–2013). As with Philip K. Dick, another great American writer, it’s quite possible you’ve seen a movie based on his work without realizing it. In fact, Elmore Leonard gives Stephen King a run for the money when it comes to works adapted to film.

Two of my very favorite films, Get Shorty (1995) and Jackie Brown (1997), are adaptations of Leonard’s novels. The former is the second film that restarted John Travolta’s career, and many believe the success of the film greatly depends on the source material (I quite agree).

If you like crime fiction, you definitely want to get into Elmore Leonard.

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Climbing Sand Dunes

Batman TDKR movieThe thing about climbing up sand dunes is that you keep sliding downwards. If you slide downward one step for every step you take upwards, you stay in place and get nowhere. Worse, if you slide two steps down for every step up, you go backwards!

To climb a sand dune successfully, you have to take more steps upwards than you slide downwards. I’ve climbed sand dunes; it’s hard; it takes effort (or a dune buggy).

The thing about social progress is that, without real effort towards moving upwards, society tends to slide backwards. Or just stay in place.

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What’s To Eat?

eatingIf “we are what we eat,” then what about what we consume with our minds? If the food we eat becomes the substance of our muscles and bones, doesn’t the information we absorb become the substance of our thoughts and emotions? We understand that it’s not healthy to live on junk food alone; do we have a similar sense regarding our mental health?

I think a lot about the media content we absorb so casually day in and day out. In the last three or four decades, we seem to have come to an ugly, unfortunate place for entertainment dining. Our diet now is rich in violence and sexuality, and it’s served in a visceral emotional stew of force and conflict.

I think it’s disturbing, especially considering how few seem disturbed by it!

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Digital & Analog Sports

Yin and Yang 2 (by MAMJODH on Flickr)I’ve written several times about the many places we see the idea of a Yin and Yang duality played out in the real world. Even the application of the Yin and Yang concept has a Yin (of true opposites) and a Yang (of thing and not-thing). For example, the opposite of light is not-light, but the opposite of positive is negative.

One of the true opposites is the idea of analog versus digital or, more generally, of continuous versus uneven. Recently I was thinking about the differences between various sports, and I realized there’s a connection to the “smooth or bumpy” distinction I wrote about a while back. Looked at in terms of play, some sports are essentially continuous while others are not.

It turns out that some sports are “analog” while others are “digital.”

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Movies: Machete

Milla Jovovitch, I’m sorry, I loved you long time, and it’s not over (I’ll keep buying Resident Evil movies as long as you make them), but Michelle Rodriguez just stole your crown in my heart for most beautiful kickass woman in the world. I’m afraid you’re now number two.

Michelle Rogriguez! We’re talking baying-at-the-moon beautiful!  We’re talking bullet in the eye beautiful! I’ve liked her since her appearance as Rain Ocampo in (coincidence alert) the first Resident Evil movie in 2002. This was only two years after her first film, Girlfight in 2000.  Since that time, she’s proven to be a major star (and apparently quite a handful). She’s been in several of the Fast & Furious movies, and many know her from Lost (a series I avoided like the plague—I’m allergic to trendy)

What can I say, I like a woman with some attitude.

I was thinking I’d give the blog a break. I’ve been feeling a bit out of sorts. I’ve been feeling old and obsolete and pointless. I’ve been feeling like I no longer fit in the world (not that I ever really did).

Turns out that, for me, writing a blog is a bit like writing music. It’s great to jam and see where the music takes you, but every time I try to write down a tune, it turns to ashes. Even if I’m successful in writing out the notes (MIDI keyboards and software make that pretty easy), somehow the song dies. The caged bird just doesn’t sing anymore.

Something similar seems to happen with writing a blog. The caged words do speak more than the caged notes sing. At least I’m happier with my words than I ever was with my notes. I guess I’m more writer than musician (which on some level breaks my heart). But what was a random joy verges on becoming a responsibility, a weight. Not that I have readers clamoring for more, but once you decide to write a blog, you feel like you have to write a blog.

So I thought I’d give it a miss until the muse moved me. I thought I’d catch up on movies and a few TV shows I’ve ignored for a while.  I was two episodes behind in The Big C as well as on Weeds. (I’m a fan of all the Showtime ‘morally ambiguous women’ shows. I also like Nurse Jackie and United States of Tara. All four star such talented, interesting, attractive women. And the writing, oh my, the writing!)

In any event, I saw that Machete was finally available on OnDemand, and I missed it when it was in the theatre. I do like Robert Rodriguez‘s work. From Dusk till Dawn is a favorite, and the El Mariachi trilogy is a classic (although, for my money, they go downhill from the first just like the Matrix trilogy and so many others).

Machete is a throwback hoot! It’s super, ultra, cartoon violent with an 80s style plot and dialog. It’s set to full-goofy mode. It brings to life what was a fake trailer in the Tarantino/Rodriguez retro movie, Grindhouse.

Machete is also jam-packed with stars all clearly having a blast with their roles. You get: Robert De Niro, Don Johnson, Lindsay Lohan (yes, that’s right), Cheech Marin (of course) and Jeff Fahey.  And it stars Danny Trejo, Jessica Alba and, of course, Michell Rodriguez.

Oh, and Mr. “made one movie I number among the best, one movie I really like, plus a lot of crap” Steven Seagal. (Under Siege and Fire Down Below, in case you’re wondering.) (Okay, his first few are okay, but the later ones…. yikes. There’s a couple serious stinkers in the later ones.)

But after seeing Machete and realizing that Milla had lost her crown (or at least traded the gold for the silver), I realized I had to write. Michelle, you give an old man inspiration!