Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Cowboys (1972)

I watched this on Netflix's Watch Instantly feature last night while Amy was at Bible study. It's a good one.

The story, which I somehow had missed even when I read the synopsis a while back, concerns Johny Wayne's character needing to take a herd of cattle to market, but lacking any hands to help him. On the advice of a friend, he looks into a local school and decides to hire a bunch of kids to help him (age 15 and under).

The acting of the kids ranges from good to pretty good. Thankfully, none of them are annoying. There are a couple of really good scenes, too, like when Wayne lays into the stuttering kid to try and get him to stop. The kid is so genuinely hurt, frustrated and angry that I'd swear that scene were real. I felt the emotions very acutely.

Bruce Dern's style of acting was unique and effective. He played the villain with a certain degree of charm and cowardice. His way of naturally delivering the dialogue and his effortless, "not-acting" facial expressions sell his character well. I don't think I've seen him in any other movies, so I don't know if that's his standard style or not.

Also great was Roscoe Lee Brown. I don't think I've seen him in anything else, but he's a wonderful actor. His character was full of authority and wisdom in a gentle and fatherly way.

John Wayne was John Wayne, but he has a good character here.

John Williams provided the score, and it was a little overbearing at times (as the scores to older westerns can be). There's a scene at the end where the kids are actually shooting it out with the bad guys, and the music gets all up-beat and adventurous. I can sort of understand that, hey, it's kids who are shooting it out and winning, but given the events that had just preceded the shoot-out (spoilers: the violent death of John Wayne, the near-hanging of Roscoe Brown), it seemed a bit too light-hearted.

Overall, a unique entry into John Wayne's catalogue, and a fitting movie to have at the end of his career.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Comic artists and me

Amy took these photos at Comic Con last summer. These should have gone up as companions to this post. These are some of the artists who drew cowboy monkeys in my sketchbook.

The now-famous eef!

Val, in a rare smiley moment.

Frank Cho

OMAGAW it's Stan Sakai looking at my work!!!!1

Rob Schrab is a friendly guy. His girlfriend looks on from the background.

Doug TenNapel draws the dirtiest monkey of the bunch.

Steve Purcell is a very generous guy. I mean, I did buy all his stuff, but still, he spent like 10 minutes on my sketch.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Clutch ranked

This post is dedicated to Ian, Matt, and my Beloved (Amy loooooves being called that).

Clutch Albums That I Own (From Best to Not As Awesome But Still Rad):
Blast Tyrant - Man, this is such an awesome album. It starts blowing your face off from the very first song, and never lets up the whole album. Good gravy, the guitars, the drums, and the singing are all incredible.

Pure Rock Fury - If it were any other band, I'd ridicule the title for not delivering. But Clutch delivers, to your doorstep with signature required, a kick to the goji berries. Of rock. Yes, I can craft a fantastic metaphor, and thank you for noticing.

Robot Hive/Exodus - Not quite as all-around great as the previous two (a couple weaker songs are present), but just listen to Burning Beard! By gum, 'tis awesome.

From Beale Street to Oblivion - Their latest. Not as all-around awesome as the previous three, but still some good bluesy-rocky-metallic stuff. I'm disappointed, overall, because the songs kind of melt together, leaving no particular stand-outs to my ears.

Thanks for listening, none of you. I wish I had any friends who were into Clutch or PC games, because I have to burden Amy with all the stuff that I love but no one else does.

I hate candy canes

I don't hate the idea of candy canes, I just don't like the candy. Does anyone? Is there a soul out there today over the age of 10 who eats a candy cane for any reason other than boredom or obligation? It's not good candy. It's just sweetness with some peppermint. There's nothing to them. They make your lips all sticky. When you're a kid you eat them because, hey, it's candy, even if it isn't good candy. It's sweet, and you get to eat it outside of designated dessert times. But now I throw away every candy cane I receive.

This may have more to do with my personality than the reality of the candy cane, though. I'm not a big candy guy anymore, period. I like most candy in bar form, I like chocolate, peanut butter, and any combination thereof, but I won't eat Jolly Ranchers, jelly beans, Lifesavers, etc. I do make exception for gummy stuff. Anytime I eat any of those sorts of candies, I just feel my teeth rotting. Same with soda, though I do still drink it from time to time.

So is it me? Or are candy canes really just a tradition that everyone tolerates because of its association with Christmas?

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Hockey game with the Prices

Amy and I went with Ric and Jeri Price to a Kings game on Thursday and had a ton of fun. Ric got tickets through work for some great seats, and they invited us to go along. Very generous of them. It was in the middle section, slightly to the left of the center line. We had a great view of the action.

I've only been to one other hockey game in my life, and that was on a GYRAD freshman year with a bunch of people I didn't know. We had nosebleed seats and it wasn't that great. I don't even remember who won or my date's name. Thursday night was better in every respect.

Ric is a huge Kings fan, so it was really fun sitting with someone who is enthusiastic about both the sport and the team. Jeri, too, is a fan (I think she had to become one when she married Ric), and knows a ton about the team and the season. They watch or attend every game, I think.

The Kings have been really bad lately, so it was awesome seeing them beat Buffalo 8-2. It was a fun game to watch. There was a fight in the first period, some good checks throughout, and some really nice shots and plays.

During one of the breaks between periods, we were all hanging out in the lobby area stretching our legs. A woman walked right by our group, and she looked familiar. Ric noticed her, too, and over the noise of the area, I heard him say "...The Office..." to Jeri. She looked like Jan from The Office, we both thought. Sure enough, when she came back our way, it was Melora Hardin! My wife, displaying some heretofore unknown brass for this sort of situation, followed her, tapped her on the shoulder, and said, "Hi, I love your show!" "Oh! Thanks!" Jan replied. Turns out she was sitting just a few rows over from us. We all went and sat down, marveling at Amy's celebrity-courage, and then decided we should ask to get a picture with her once the game was over. Alas, the Kings were so far ahead that Jan and her three friends left midway through the third period, so we never got our chance. Jeri was quick enough to snap a picture of her as she was leaving, though, so we have proof.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

New Jonah Hex artist - Giuseppe Camuncoli

There's an interview over at Newsarama with an Italian artist named Giuseppe Camuncoli about his work for Jonah Hex. I'm pleased to say that his art is to my tastes. He draws accurate guns (see this page) and everything else is pleasing as well. I hope the story is good. From those preview pages, it looks weird. But, that's Jonah for you.

Recent movies - Ratatouille, Rescue Dawn

Ratatouille (2007) - I read Nobody's insightful review before finally getting around to this one, so with those ideas in mind, I enjoyed it. It's not as outright entertaining as The Incredibles, but it's a good story. I probably won't buy it, though.

Rescue Dawn (2007) - Very engaging. Well told. Unfortunately, it appears that Herzog played fast and loose with some of the facts. Some of the changes are fine and understandable, but changing Jeremy Davies character (who was apparently a fine guy in real life) into a crazy coward is not cool. I want to check out Herzog's documentary on the subject now, to see if the differences were noted there. He does mention, in one of the featurettes on Rescue Dawn, that he found out after filming that Gene was a better man than they thought, and that Herzog would have changed it had he known. So at least he honestly acknowledges that Gene's family strongly disagrees with his take.

One other annoyance: the way Davies plays Gene, a generic "crazy nervous guy" performance. It felt predictable and lazy. I don't think Davies is a bad actor, but I think he chose a "go-to" performance for Gene. It annoyed me any time he was on-screen.