2024 Summer Movie Talk – Part 4

Westerns – Modern

I’m dividing Westerns into two categories; Classic and Modern, because they really are completely different categories.  I’ll list what I think are among the best or the most popular or the most interesting modern westerns in approximately chronological order.  I’ve reviewed a number of these movies so if you want my detailed opinion, you can do a search on the site.

  7. TRUE GRIT (1969)
  10. THE SHOOTIST (1976)
  12. THE LONG RIDERS (1980)
  13. PALE RIDER (1985)
  14. SILVERADO (1985)
  15. UNFORGIVEN (1992)
  16. TOMBSTONE (1993)
  17. WYATT EARP (1994)
  18. OPEN RANGE (2003)
  19. 3:10 TO YUMA (2007)
  20. TRUE GRIT (2010)
  21. HELL OR HIGH WATER (2016)

Twenty-one is a long list.  Longer than I intended but I guess I have a soft spot for some of these movies.  I included both versions of “True Grit” and both Tombstone and Wyatt Earp.  And I broke my own western rule by including “Hell or High Water” because the time period is modern day.  But modern westerns are modern!

Now this is just my list.  Your list will be different.  I’ve got a lot of Clint Eastwood in this list.  Not everyone likes his stuff.  I left out Sam Peckinpah’s “The Wild Bunch” and “Ride the High Country.”  I could have left out “Unforgiven” and “Silverado.”  Just how I felt at the moment.

Have at it.  Give your opinion in the comments.

2024 Summer Movie Talk – Part 3

Westerns – Classic

I’m dividing Westerns into two categories; Classic and Modern, because they really are completely different categories.  I’ll list what I think are among the best or the most popular or the most interesting classic westerns in approximately chronological order.  I’ve reviewed a number of these movies so if you want my detailed opinion, you can do a search on the site.

  1. STAGECOACH (1939)
  3. THE WESTERNER (1940)
  7. FORT APACHE (1948)
  8. WINCHESTER ‘73 (1950)
  9. HIGH NOON (1952)
  10. 3:10 TO YUMA (1957)
  11. RIO BRAVO (1959)
  13. EL DORADO (1966)

Now this is just my list.  Your list will be different.  I left out some classic movies that are on everyone’s list; “The Searchers,” “Shane” and some others.  That’s just my taste. Some people consider “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” a western but because it took place in the mid-twentieth century I don’t consider it a classic western.  It’s a great film but I consider it something else.

So, there it is.  Feel free to add what I have left off or disagree with what I’ve included in the comments below.

2024 Summer Movie Talk – Part 2

2024 Summer Movie Talk – Part 2


I’ll list what I think are among the best or the most popular or the most interesting comedy movies in approximately chronological order.  I’ve reviewed a number of these movies so if you want my detailed opinion, you can do a search on the site.

  1. IT’S A GIFT (1934)
  2. A NIGHT AT THE OPERA (1935)
  4. THE BANK DICK (1940)
  6. THE ODD COUPLE (1968)
  10. GHOSTBUSTERS (1984)
  12. BEETLEJUICE (1988)
  13. UNCLE BUCK (1989)
  14. GROUNDHOG DAY (1993)
  17. THE BIG LEBOWSKI (1998)
  18. OFFICE SPACE (1999)
  19. GALAXY QUEST (1999)
  20. SHAUN OF THE DEAD (2004)
  21. IDIOCRACY (2006)

Now this is just my list.  Your list will be different.  It has to be.  More than any other genre comedy is incredibly personal and therefore subjective.  It is also age specific.  My children would list twenty movies from 2000 to the present day that I haven’t seen nor would want to watch.  I have tried to leave out comedies that I consider marginal that happen to overlap with my most active movie watching era.  So, I haven’t included “The Blues Brothers,” “Caddyshack.” “Stripes,” “Animal House,” “Meatballs,” “National Lampoon: Vacation,” “Trading Places” and a bunch of other movies from my heyday.  I put Ghostbusters in as the best representative for that era.  Someone else would have chosen otherwise.

I hope my list will inspire a million spirited comments.  Everyone has their favorites and their turkeys.  Unlike politics we can all have our opinions on comedy movies without fear of doing any damage.  Have at it.

2024 Summer Movie Talk – Part 1

When reality collapses under a landslide of madness:

  • POTUS exposed as a human vegetable
  • Cost of living now requires selling kidneys for gas money
  • Illegal aliens and homeless drug addicts now the two largest voting blocks in some blue states
  • Kamala Harris imagining herself as president unencumbered by anyone wanting to vote for her.
  • Morning Joe both extols Joe Biden as the sharpest he’s ever been and begs him to step aside to avoid defeat.

Well then, it’s time to take off the pundit cap and try to enjoy life a little.

I’ve always been partial to watching movies.  My tastes probably fall somewhere in the middle.  I’m definitely not part of the avant-garde by any means.  I’ve never enjoyed Cinéma verité and the various other European schools that abounded in the 1950s and 1960s.  They always just looked like low budget crap that someone made with a home movie camera and no money.  But by the same token I think that at least 80% of the output of Hollywood in its heyday was pretty poor stuff.

I totally believe that cinema is not a single subject.  There are several distinct things that get lumped together as movies.  Hopefully they all contain the characteristic that they entertain.  But beyond that I think one kind of movie makes you feel and another makes you think.  Now that is not to say that a movie that makes you think doesn’t also engage your emotions.  That would be odd in a movie created by humans.  But what I’m indicating is that many, even most movies don’t really make you think.  And that is not to say that only high-brow art-house movies can delve into the human condition.  Far from it.  Even someone as populist and popular as Frank Capra can capture a character or a moment that makes you think about the big questions.

So, I think I’ll divide my discussions about movies into two main categories; entertainment and enlightenment.  And let’s start with entertainment.  Because it is the summer and that is the season when we want to enjoy the beautiful weather and make believe that the world is a happy place where Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are just cartoon characters who dress in primary colors and get chased around by the Tasmanian Devil and eventually eaten.  So, let’s see.

Well, first things first, we’ll divide and conquer.  Let’s divide things into genres:

  • Science fiction
  • Fantasy
  • Action/Adventure
  • Comedy
  • Drama

Science Fiction

I’ll list what I think are among the best or the most popular or the most interesting sci-fi movies in approximately chronological order.  I’ve reviewed almost all of these movies so if you want my detailed opinion you can do a search on the site.

  1. Destination: Moon
  2. The Thing from Another World
  3. Them!
  4. Invasion of the Body Snatchers
  5. The Time Machine
  6. The Day the Earth Stood Still
  7. War of the Worlds
  8. Forbidden Planet
  9. 2001: A Space Odyssey
  10. Blade Runner
  11. Alien
  12. Terminator
  13. Starship Troopers
  14. Independence Day
  15. 12 Monkeys
  16. Jurassic Park
  17. The Matrix
  18. Contact
  19. Firefly
  20. Serenity
  21. The Martian
  22. Dune


Now this is just my list.  Your list will be different.  I left out Star Trek and Star Wars.  I consider Star Wars fantasy and I consider Star Trek mostly awful.  But the same could be said for several of the movies I put on my list.  I hope my list will inspire a million spirited comments.  Everyone has their favorites and their turkeys.  Unlike politics we can all have our opinions on sci-fi movies without fear of doing any damage.  Have at it.

What Makes a Good Story?

An eight-hundred-page book tells the story of a forty-inch-tall man traveling across a semi-mythical world to throw a ring into a volcano.  A famous play is the story of an overly proud king disowning his only loving child for not flattering him and then paying the price for it.  A three-thousand-year-old poem tells the story of a proud warrior being dishonored by a foolish king and the havoc that ensues in a famous war that includes gods and goddesses acting decidedly human.  A boy saves a princess with the help of a space pirate and a mystical monk long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away.  Two almost god-like races, one devoted to peace and truth and the other consumed by war and evil fight a war of extermination in the Milky Way galaxy over the course of billions of years.  A movie tells the story of seven samurai or seven cowboys agreeing to save a town from bandits with glory as the only reward.  A hen-pecked New Jersey grocery store owner sells everything he owns and travels 3,000 miles to California to buy an orange ranch that doesn’t have any oranges on it.  A man drags his wife and young son two thousand miles to an isolated hotel in the Rocky Mountains where they will all be the playthings of ghosts who want to add them to the spectral residents.

What do all of these stories have in common?  Well, almost nothing.  Each of them is a fairly popular work of fiction.  But otherwise, they’re all over the map in terms of plot, characters, genre and the societies they represent.  But what makes them successful stories is their ability to draw the reader (or viewer) into their worlds and spark human empathy.  It’s as simple as that.

We recognize Frodo’s humanity and cheer him on as he pits his tiny strength against titanic forces of evil.  We shake our heads at the pig-headed antics of Achilles and Agamemnon but we nod our heads at the recognition that war will take good men like Hector and make his wife a widow and his son an orphan.  We thrill to the heroics of a small band of warriors pitting their strength and skill against a small army of bandits, knowing full well that most of them will die in the battle.  We laugh at and at the same time see ourselves in a man constantly belittled and frustrated by everyone around him including his overbearing wife and annoying children who then stubbornly heads down the road to ruin only to be saved by fortune and his own indestructible sense that eventually it will have to be his turn.

So, what is the most important aspect?  Plot or character?  I used to think plot.  After all, we all like the quest and the action scenes and all the other hooks that draw us into the story.  But as I get older, I realize that if the characters are mere ciphers, then the hold thing devolves into a video game.  And it can be fun and exciting but on reflection it feels sort of meaningless.  Does it really matter how many monsters he fights if you don’t believe the hero is real?

So that’s the trick for the author.  Somehow you have to invest your heroes and villains with enough humanity to make your reader (or viewer) care.  Breathing life into a stream of words takes a bit of doing.  Usually, you have to take something from your own experience to make it seem real.  But when it’s done right it’s the rewarding part of writing.  Self-satisfaction.

Father’s Day – 2024 – Crashing Plaster and Pancakes

And the rolling year has once again brought us back to that most equivocal of fake holidays, “Father’s Day.”  When I say fake, I mean that it’s a manufactured occasion that has no long history of celebration.  Its equivocal nature is owed to the mixed feelings that everyone in a family feels about dear old Dad.  Well, at least that’s my own point of view.

And this is based on my own father and the way he raised his six sons.  Basically, it was like some kind of anthropological experiment that was started out with the best of intentions but then went horribly off the rails and eventually completely overwhelmed the investigators and had to be recast as a cautionary tale for all involved.

A more beleaguered man has never walked the face of the Earth.  He was always outnumbered, outgunned, behind the times, short of resources and out of patience.  I don’t remember him getting through a single day in that house without screaming and hollering at several or all of us.  We were terrible kids.

We broke everything he owned.  We lost every tool he possessed and we caused at least one disaster a week.  His house was perpetually on the edge of crumbling into something resembling the debris piles seen in old footage of London after the Blitz.  When leaks would develop in the house’s flat roof his solution was to use a hand drill on the ceiling to direct the leak and put a bucket under it.  His idea was that by tapping the leak it would prevent it from soaking the whole plaster ceiling and have it collapse onto us while we were sleeping.

He had a steam heat system which perpetually leaked at all of the radiators.  And he battled this problem by attempting to use string and grease to seal the threads of the pipe joints.  But the threads were so stripped that this never accomplished much of anything.  But he soldiered on with the hope that one day he’d catch up with his expenses and have a plumber come in and replace it all.  Finally, the ceiling in the living room underneath the leakiest radiator on the second floor collapsed.  All the plaster crashed down on the living room floor and exposed the wooden laths in the ceiling.  One of my younger brothers was overjoyed and he said aloud, “This will finally force him to fix the ceiling once and for all.”  Well, no.  That ceiling remained in that condition until after my father’s death a number of years later.

So, my example of fatherhood was definitely idiosyncratic.  And as for Father’s Day, if my father could have had his wish on that day, it would have been to lock us all out of the house for the whole day and leave him alone to watch baseball, horse racing and boxing on his tiny, pathetic, black and white, constantly drifting television set.  But that was an impossibility.  We were an omnipresent reminder of his status as Dad.

So, on Father’s Day he often fell back on his only real domestic skill.  He could make pancakes and French toast by the imperial ton.  And in that house, he had to.  He bought the cheapest pancake mix and syrup he could find in bulk containers.  I always imagined that he got it from war surplus.  And when pancake day arrived, he’d cover all the burners on the stove with griddles and he would cook and we would eat stacks of pancakes until we couldn’t move.  It was probably the high point of our lives together.  For that brief time, we were all happy simultaneously and we were all well fed which rarely otherwise occurred.

So maybe Father’s Day should be like that.  A day when Dad should find something he knows he can do that makes the whole family admit that he’s good for something other than paying the bills.  Anyway, it’s a thought.

Camera Girl Grows Up

Camera Girl is acknowledged across the multi-verse as the worst dog trainer of all time.  Whereas children and grandchildren respond to and obey her enlightened methods of child rearing, her dogs on the other hand are completely wild.  This happens because she thinks dogs are perpetually infants.  And so, she coddles them and allows them to walk all over her and run amok.  Many years ago, we had our first German Shorthaired Pointer, Max.  He was a magnificent specimen of a very large GSP and I thought he was fairly well-behaved.  But one weekend I come home to find my youngest daughter standing on the couch because the dog had taken her socks while she was putting them on and was growling whenever someone came near them.

So, I went to get the socks from Max and he bit me.  I was shocked.  I asked Camera Girl, “When did this start?”  She looked sheepish and said since he’d started to mature, he had been getting aggressive.  I guess I’d been busy over the last six months and hadn’t spent any time training Max.  But now we were in a bad situation.  I didn’t want to lose the dog but I couldn’t have a large strong dog that might bite my kids.  So being a lunatic I put on a pair of cowhide gloves and winter coat and attacked Max.  I went for the socks and he went for me.  I grabbed him around the neck and threw him to the floor and pinned him.  Then I growled like a lunatic and bit him on the throat.  And I never had another bit of trouble from that dog again.  From that point on he worked for me.

Over the years Camera Girl has improved slightly.  But depending on the temperament of the dogs, she’s done anywhere from fairly well to really poor at training them.  Our latest pup is a female basset hound and she is feisty.  And she likes to chew on things, including me.  So, I started to follow Camera Girl when she was “training” Penny.  And of course, the dog was running the show.  She had this short legged chunky hound running around causing chaos and the only attempt at training was baby talk admonishments. So, I demanded that we get her straightened out.  Now luckily there have been great strides taken in dog training since my days of biting Max on the throat.

One training aid is a shock collar.  Well, actually it’s a combination buzzer/shocker.  Camera Girl is way too tender-hearted to shock the dogs.  But I’ve finally demanded that she start using the buzzer and use it consistently to get Penny to stop biting and jumping up.  This is actually also for her own good.  Basset hounds are very prone to hurting their backs and jumping up is a good way for them to do that.

And what do you know?  After about two weeks of consistent training the absurd puppy is finally, finally beginning to behave.  She hasn’t even tried to chew on my face once today.  And I’m overjoyed.  I think Camera Girl is finally beginning to grow up.  Any day now I’ll be comfortable enough to finally throw that ratty coat and gloves away once and for all.  And it’s a good thing.  I think next time the dog would win.

09JUN2024 – OCF Update – It’s a Rainy Morning Sunday, That’s Got Me Without Knowing What to Write


A rainy Sunday at the Compound.  I’m stuck in the house and getting on Camera Girl’s nerves, I can tell.  Next week will be very busy.  Tuesday will be a marathon of work until the wee hours.  I will be with the people, in all their gritty and idiosyncratic splendor.  So, I must get some things done today.  I’ve got photos and quotes to get uploaded and scheduled.  And I’ve got some scheduling things to figure out for my writing.  I’ve been so busy lately with work that I haven’t been able to do any fiction writing at all.  And that bothers me a lot.  As you get older the number of creatively productive hours in a day or a week decreases.  So, I need to make some time budgeting decisions to maximize my results.

But life rolls on.  And the now incredible increases to the cost of living are biting ever harder at my meager resources.  I was looking at some repairs on the swimming pool and wondered if outright replacing the lining might make some sense.  But when I heard the estimate, I was gob-smacked.  Yikes!  So, I’ll pay the piratical repair costs for patching for this year and decide about replacement next year when I get rich.

But just to assert our rights as Americans to waste money we went to the Chinese restaurant for dinner.  Sure, the cost was up about 50% from what I remember it to be.  But it made Camera Girl happy and it spared her having to cook last night.  And they have really fresh and delicious food at this place so it was a treat.

I was reading how McDonald’s might be pulling out of California all together.  And on one of the talk shows the socialist pundit was putting a brave face on it and saying that this would open up opportunities for Mom and Pop shops.  I was thinking, “Sure mom and pop get a really good deal on food prices compared to a behemoth like McDonald’s and they’ll definitely be able to outcompete McDonald’s on rental costs, utility costs and paper and plastic consumables.  Oh yeah!  It’s gonna be a paradise for small businesses in California.

Something that TomD commented about my Here and Now post.  He stressed that our present ruling class is not just more of the same.  He stressed that they’re really working to destroy us, “The progressives want us disarmed, private vehicles gone (except elite), and everyone on the dole and living in huge Soviet style arkologies. Males castrated.”

And I agree with that characterization.  They differ from the past in what they are attempting to accomplish.  Our former elites wanted us as factory wage slaves.  The new elites just want us gone.  And they think they can get the job done quietly and efficiently by eliminating our means of livelihood.  They impoverish us and then weaken us with drugs, illicit and prescription, that they flood the environment with and stupefy our children with a digital narcotic.  We’re being eradicated with poison like roaches.

Well, it won’t be easy but we have to learn how to avoid the traps and organize to assist each other in surviving.  Alright, enough of that.  Finish with something good.


I was watching the Coen Brothers version of True Grit the other day.  They’re a couple of nihilistic film makers but they did a remarkable job with this film.


Mowing Your Problems Away

A few weeks ago I was introduced to the term “no mow May.”  Apparently by not mowing the lawn in May there is a theory that we allow all of the pollinating insects to do their thing and Gaia will be happier and not allow volcanoes and asteroids to kill us all.

Now everyone on this site knows of my undying allegiance to the Green Revolution.  I’ve had the “global warming hockey stick graph tattooed on my eyeballs so that I’m constantly thinking about how much danger the planet is in.  So of course, I sacrificed all other considerations and refrained from mowing the lawn.

Well, lawn would be a misnomer.  My neighbors despise me for the sheer tonnage of dandelions in my fields.  They accuse me of robbing them of the perfect lawns they lust for.  I am, in a word, a heretic against the religion of lawn care.  But be that as it may I held out all May.  And as they drove by my property and the grass and weeds got taller and taller I could feel their hate growing and the dark side of the force becoming stronger and stronger.  But I would walk about unconcerned, at play in the fields of the Lord, luxuriating in the waist high sea of grass and weeds, taking macro shots of bugs and the grass itself and whatever else struck my fancy in my fantasy of a post-Leftist Earth.

But yesterday was May 31st and Camera Girl confronted me and reminded me of that fact.  And she had that wifely look on that I could tell meant that she would brook no nonsense.  And noticing it I said, “Oh, June already, how time flies!  Well, thank goodness it’s stopped raining.  I’ve been worried I’d never be able to get out there!”

So yesterday I hooked up the ride-on mower to a battery charger and got out my new ear protection and safety glasses and gloves and gathered up the various debris that was scattered all over the property and checked under the exceptionally long grass around places where there could be rabbits, foxes and other varmints hiding and collected all the large rocks, tennis balls and dog toys that Camera Girl hurls around the yard for the canine crew.

And this morning bright and early at 11 am I went outside and began the ordeal.  Yikes!  No mow May is a tricky calculation.  Sure, it bought me a couple of weeks of sloth but what a wreck.  I ended up recutting about a third of it and the cleanup was considerable.

Remarkably, Camera Girl was so impressed by the improvement that she seemed to forget that I was the cause of it looking so awful in the first place and I was treated as the conquering hero.  At late snack there was a slice of some kind of pastry, sort of like a Danish but less doughy, that I didn’t even know was in the house.  It was served with a mug of coffee just the way I like it and all was sweetness and light.  Women are extremely unpredictable creatures.  They get stirred up about things that we don’t even notice.  And we almost never know whether it will be in our favor or not.  But as has been observed by greater minds than mine, they are the only source for producing more human beings that we have so far discovered.  So, there we are.

There’s a lot to be said for cutting the grass.  A man can lose himself for a few hours and he can find his mind wandering in and around a lot of problems that are somewhere in the back of his mind.  Alternatively, he can also sometimes forget his problems for a little while.  Today was one of those day.  I turned off the 2024 election and all the rest of the madness for a few hours and damned if I don’t feel a lot better.

Tales from the Van – Part 1 – The Sisterhood

Many years ago, I commuted into Boston for work.  And because at the time there was no commuter rail from where I lived, I took a van in.  We all paid a fee and some of us drove the van on occasion and on those days, we’d get a day knocked off our fee for the next month.  And I’ll have to say that we had a very “diverse” cast of characters.  And I mean that by every definition of the word.  Not only racially, ethnically, careerwise and socio-economically but also philosophically and by personality type.  We were a motley crew.  We even had a guy who worked for one of the intelligence agencies (or so he said).  There were a few people who couldn’t stand each other and there were some very close friends.

But even though most of us didn’t know each other “in the real world,” for an hour in the morning and the afternoon we spent our time talking about the events of the day and the latest sit-com and our work day and our home lives and anything else to pass the time.  And it’s a funny thing but to the people on the van what we thought about the world was a pretty important part of our day.  We would argue politics and social trends.  And once in a while, the guys would even get together for a social gathering.   One time I had the boys over for a poker game and sandwiches.  It was a great success, meaning no one lost too much and everyone ate too much and drank way too much beer.  And this cemented the male camaraderie of the van immensely.  Once you’ve bluffed yourself to a pot with a broken straight it’s almost like you’re boyhood chums.

There was a feminist contingent on the van too and they would provide a united front when explaining why men were the cause of all the problems in the world.  That is until they needed help with a flat tire or an angry motorist on the road.  I remember a time when I was riding shotgun while one of the most strident feminists was driving the van through Boston street-traffic.  It was an awful ride.  We were in a bumper-to-bumper jam and she had lost all patience and was laying on the horn every other minute or so.  Finally, the guy in front of us in a brand-new sports car, throws his car into park, jumps out of his car.  He’s about six foot five and comes running over and bangs on her window with his fist.

Well, this champion of female equality, jumped out of the driver’s seat and ran to the back of the van like a shot.  Which I found hilarious.  Until I realized she had left the van in gear.  So of course we rolled into the back of the sports car.  Now I had to climb over the hump and get into the driver’s seat.  The engine had stalled out and I had to nurse it back to life and then throw it into reverse to separate us from the sports car.  All the while the irate driver is hopping up and down screaming over us hitting his car.  I couldn’t think of anything else to say so I shrugged my shoulder and pointed out to him that traffic was moving and tried not to laugh.  After he convinced himself that his bumper wasn’t much the worse for the bump and realized that if he wanted to make an accident report of it, he’d have to tell a traffic cop that he had been threatening a woman driver for being a woman driver he slunk back to his car and we proceeded.

But that little demonstration had us laughing at the sisterhood for a good long time about having a concrete answer as to, “What good are men?”  But pretty soon the sisterhood had convinced themselves again that women were the only intelligent life in the universe.

There was another occasion when the gals were plotting their takeover of the world.  And they had managed to set off one of the less easy-going guys with their claim that a pack of five women could kill any man in a fight.  They badgered him for a good long time and they could see this talk got under his skin so they did it all the more.  They demanded that he tell them how he could possibly hope to fight against five opponents.  After all, they said, if all of them constantly pummeled him from all sides they’d eventually injure him enough to overwhelm him.

So finally, he said, the tactic he would use would be to get a strong hold on one woman and bash her head into the ground and then do the same to each of them consecutively.  He believed this would have a twofold advantage.  Firstly, finishing off one opponent completely would significantly improve his position in the fight.  But more importantly, he believed that psychologically women would be unlikely to continue attacking a man that had just bashed a woman’s head in.

His logic seemed to have been persuasive.  The gals gave up that thought experiment completely and the rest of the ride was very quiet.  After that they didn’t bother him about the war of the sexes, so to speak.  I think they were kind of scared of him.  What he said must have struck them as accurate.

But by the next day we had some new thing to argue about.  I think it was the Oscars.  The girls had a very long talk about that with very little help from us.  But at least things were back to normal.