Category Archives: Reviews

You got your movie in my video game! You got your video game in my movie! Part 1

This is part 1 in a series of movies released in America that are based off popular video games.  I saw these mostly as video rentals from when I was growing up and some in theatres when I was an adult. The results weren’t always as bad as their reputation suggests.  Here we go!

Mario Brothers (1993)

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It’s logical that the biggest video game would be turned into a theatrically released movie. By 1993 anyone that played home video games knew who Mario was. He became the mascot for Nintendo.

I will totally acknowledge that this movie is a mess. It feels like a movie where the script went through several different writers and revisions. The story tries to stick too closely to the video game,  which is pretty insane considering the game was about plumber saving a princess from a demon turtle.

The great UK actor Bob Hoskins is cast as Italian plumber Mario.

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Colombian born actor/comedian John Leguizamo is Luigi (sans mustache).

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and legendary Dennis Hopper starred as the monster turtle villain named King Koopa.

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Obviously the reason people went to see SUPER MARIO BROTHERS was because of the video game. So to that target audience, it didnt matter who was cast, who was writing the movie, who was producing, and who was directing. They just wanted to be entertained. Entertain us! that’s what they must have shouted in their minds.  It makes sense as the movie is based off a pure form of entertainment, video games.

I started this article with the intent to defend the movie in a way, to explain why I enjoy watching it from time to time. As a reminder of an era where studios began making movies strictly for the under 21 crowd.  But then I was reminded of the passing of Bob Hoskins, and a majority of the idiots on the internet show their sorrow using pics from WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT and this movie. That was a reminder that his amazing acting career had been reduced to kids movies. That made me furious.

So super fuck you to anyone who used SUPER MARIO BROTHERS or WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT as reference points when Bob Hoskins passed away. That is such ignorant bullshit. He was so much more than this kid movie garbage! Fuck WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT and fuck SUPER MARIO BROTHERS!!!!

Go fucking see THE LONG GOOD FRIDAY!!

or MONA LISA!!

 

obligatory SUPER MARIO BROTHERS trailer… bur really, see the other movies first…..

 

 

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Good Sports

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Songs don’t simply exist in a vacuum. Music is not necessarily to be enjoyed merely for what it is, but rather, where it can take you. For many stereotypical hipsters, mention of Huey Lewis and the News’ “Sports” takes them to the ironically unpleasant scenes of violence featuring Christian Bale as Patrick Batemen in “American Psycho,” whose assessment of the music I mostly agree with:

Do you like Huey Lewis & The News? Their early work was a little too ‘new-wave’ for my taste, but when Sports came out in ’83, I think they really came into their own – both commercially and artistically. The whole album has a clear, crisp sound, and a new sheen of consummate professionalism that really gives the songs a big boost.

Yet, the year 2000 and American Psycho isn’t where it takes me. When I hear songs like “Heart Of Rock & Roll” I’m transported to the summers of 1984 and ’85, riding in my mom’s 1981 Ford Fairmont on the way to Ben Franklin drug store to buy Garbage Pail Kids or coming back from an extended trip to Brookfield Square Mall, where I would wait patiently for hours as my mother shopped for 80′s fashion, knowing that at some point she would probably buy me some Insecticon Transformers from Kaybee Toys. As he called out the various cities in the song, we would eagerly anticipate the moment when Huey yells out “Milwaukee!” Of course we didn’t realize then that they had released different versions targeted to the individual radio markets. For many years I wondered if I had imagined hearing “Milwaukee” in the song, since I never heard it in there again in all the thousands of times it has been on the radio. Thanks to the internet, I know I’m not crazy(at least in that way.) Yep, I totally fell for that marketing tactic, like a wide eyed girl who responds enthusiastically after receiving a seemingly personalized yet copy and pasted message that was sent to 50 other hot babes on the same dating website.

Or sometimes the song sends me to the same mid 80′s summers, only I’m in my dad’s jeep on our way to the zoo to see “Chandar” the white tiger, excited at the prospect of getting those plastic animals from “Mold-A-Rama” vending machines to add to my collection.

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As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to appreciate “If This Is It” more, with its simplistic yet relatable lyrics, which resonate with me and are probably applicable to most people’s romantic experiences. I don’t care much for most of the other songs on the album. The line in “I Want A New Drug” about face breakouts conjurs up awful memories of high school anxiety and depression making me unable to enjoy the jam. Though I am getting over this. Not to mention I’ve never been into drugs really. I much prefer the Ray Parker Jr. “Ghostbusters” theme song, which they accused of having plagiarized the melody from this song.

Despite the fact that Huey Lewis and The News are frequently described as the embodiment of 80′s mainstream “corporate yuppie rock,” the yuppie white liberals that inherited today’s world want nothing to do with them. Blender Magazine listed “Heart of Rock & Roll” as #6 on their “50 Worst Songs Ever” list in 2009, a list that probably tells you more about the people who created it than those who appear on it(to paraphrase an unknown forum commenter from the internet hinterlands.) To call Huey Lewis and The News’ “Sports” mainstream corporate rock would not be a lie. Yet such an incomplete proclamation ignores the reality that the popular rock musicians of that era were made up of people who struggled for many years paying their dues. Notice how many rockstars of the time were in their mid 30′s. Huey Lewis turned 34 in 1984 and had been playing in bands since Clover in 1971. The members of Dire Straits were roughly 35-36 when “Money For Nothing” hit it big. These songs were triumphalist songs of professional culmination through years of hard work and experience. Unlike the auto-tuned trust fund pop rock of today of teenagers plucked out of crowds for their looks and dancing ability, these were veteran musicians who paid their dues and mastered their craft. These mid 80′s “victory” songs were a part of the renewed spirit of the Reagan and Thatcher years… a rebound from the malaise of the 70′s and the demise of disco(though I happen to love the the late 1970′s and disco personally.) I feel incredibly fortunate to have been a child in this optimistic and carefree era, the last of it’s kind.

One doesn’t have to embrace Reagan or Thatcherite conservatism(Bruce Springsteen certainly didn’t) to appreciate these apolitical jams though. So next time you’re listening to what used to be called the “oldies” station(yet now seems more likely to play Weezer’s “Buddy Holly” than a song by the actual Buddy Holly, and “Heart Of Rock & Roll” comes on, don’t let the indie hipster inside you make you feel ashamed to enjoy it, or worse yet, fall into the trap of liking itironically like some impromptu meal at Red Lobster. Just crank it up and sing along(the “stutter” part at the beginning of the chorus is my favorite.) Revel in their hard earned success with them as they take you to a better time and place in your mind.


Brandon Adamson is the author of “Beatnik Fascism

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SEGA CD: Wirehead

Do you prefer to watch video games instead of actually playing them?!?

Then check out this game!!

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Wirehead was released for the SEGA CD in 1995. It was the first “movie” style game I had ever played. The graphics were full motion video, where you controlled Ned, a poor schmuck, who has a brain implant that allows him to be remotely controlled. It’s for this implant that evil agents are after him to steal his implant. Ironically, or not, it’s via his implant that you control Ned’s decisions to guide him through the game.

 

Wirehead plays like Dragon’s Lair, only with full motion video instead of animation. When Ned comes to certain “crossroads” you are prompted to make his decision on where to go. Usually you are given three choices which appear as directions, left, up, and right. Making the correct choice is trial-and-error for the most part. Each choice provided seems logical or completely ambiguous, such as going left down a hall, going up to exit the house, or going right into the kitchen. There is only one correct choice. Sometimes you have to go into battle mode, which you control whether to make Ned punch or kick. Again, they both would seem like good options, neither more appropriate than the other, but only one option is correct. Better remember to write it down.

 

The fun is that it feels like you’re controlling a movie, which was the developers intention. It was full motion video in a 16 bit gaming system era. Only achieved via the CD format. The gameplay might have been too repetitive for some people in that era of RPGs and fighting games.

The other reason the game is so good is that it feels like a 90s era sitcom. The style of clothes, the family safe humor and jokes, and the music. It could have been used as a pilot for a real sitcom on disney channel.

 

The SEGA CD was never a success in the US, but it had its share of solid games, and Wirehead was one of the last games released unfortunately. A forgotten console that needs to be checked out. If you’re not willing to play the game yourself, you can always watch the play-through of the game on YouTube, but you won’t see any of the funny cut-scenes of when you make an incorrect choice, which were the best parts.

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Watching Ned get mauled by a bear is always entertaining!!

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She won’t do windows….

I wish they would re-release the game for DVD players, using the uncompressed footage originally shot for the game. It would be a fun show!

 

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A Day At The Zoo

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“Never though that I’d be acting humanoid
that ain’t the simian thing to do
humanoids go frantic but before things get romantic
and I’m going humanoid over you!
If I thought that you’d enjoy it
I’d stop trying to avoid it
I’m going humanoid over you!” – Return to the Planet of the Apes

Inspiration for humanity can originate from the most unlikely of sources, such as in the case of “Return To the Planet of the Apes” (created by none other than the creators of the Pink Panther!), the short lived 1975 cartoon series based on the popular Planet of the Apes film franchise, which had been based on the novel by Pierre Boulle. The intense and colorful opening sequence, a montage of stills and it’s accompanying theme stand as a strangely moving yet completely forgotten and never appreciated work of 70′s pop art.

The premise of RTTPOTA is familiar territory. This time, three astronauts: Bill Hudson, Jeff Allen, and Judy Franklin get trapped in the future where mankind has destroyed itself, and the apes have taken over. The astronauts spend the majority of the episodes trying to protect the remaining primitive humans, and lead them out of the caves and on a long treacherous journey to “New Valley,” a supposed place of safety where they can “build pueblos the way the Indians did in New Mexico and Arizona.” All the while, they must stay ahead of, outsmart and sometimes fend off attacks from the apes and their cunning and determined, “General Urko”. Oh and that General Urko, what a character! He is portrayed as something of a belligerent, bumbling fool, but in reality he is incredibly intuitive and nearly always correct in his suspicions of what his enemies are up to.

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Occasionally the humans must venture into Ape City to seek the help of ape scientists and “simiantarians” Cornelius and Zira, the only apes not openly hostile toward the humanoids.

Whatever happened to those modest, 70′s sideburn sporting, turtleneck wearing, medallion rocking, poetry reading, black American men who spoke the king’s English and everything. Oh how I want them back. Sadly, many were apparently subsequently replaced by all the gangsters, hip hoppers, and belligerent ‘hoot and hollerers’. Though something along these lines could probably be said to relate to all humanity. White culture(whatever that is) has certainly taken a nosedive since the 70′s as well. I just wish there were more men out there like Bill Hudson and Jeff Allen. Let me be the first to nominate Austin Stoker for president! I would even risk the possibility of getting jury duty to vote for him. While the creators of “The Pink Panther” won an Oscar for “The Pink Phink” in 1964, “Return to the Planet of the Apes” was cancelled after a mere 13 episodes. It barely registers as even a blip on the historical map of American pop culture, and is critically remembered negatively, if at all.

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But as you can see, I often wonder about Bill, Jeff and Judy, and if and where their personalities can be found in our world today. As for the series itself, some of us see it not just as some non-essential part of a dragged out money making franchise, a third rate afterthought, but rather we see “Return to the Planet of the Apes” as a vastly
underappreciated gem,

…worthy of an academape award.

This piece originally appeared in my 2008 book, SideQuests

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We’ll Get Rid Of The Losers and Bring On The Cruisers

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……And so I dare to hope,
Though changed no doubt, from what I was
when first I came among these hills; when like a roe
I bounded o’er these mountains, by the sides
of the deep rivers, and the lonely streams
Wherever nature led; more like a man
flying from something he dreads
than one who sought a thing he loved.
William Wordsworth, 1798

“Do people change or don’t they? Now that’s worth talking about.”

That’s the central theme of the 1983 film, Eddie and The Cruisers. I remember this movie as being part of my favorite era of movies shown on HBO, along with forgotten classics like Kidco, The Outsiders, Curse of The Pink Panther, Mr. Mom, The Toy, Tootsie, and many many more. Just as Frank Ridgeway is instantly transported back to 1964 when he hears an Eddie look-a-like performing “On The Dark Side” at a club in 1983… when I hear it I’m taken straight back to 1984 at age 6, sitting in our den wondering if Eddie could still be alive.

Eddie and The Cruisers was reviewed poorly by critics. Roger Ebert wrote the following revealing critique:

Now, leaving aside the possibility that Eddie might, in fact, have gone down with his Chevy, this premise, has all sorts of possibilities. I will name some of them:

1. Eddie could have surfaced as another rock and roller.

2. Eddie could have been a Buddy Holly who never died, and he disappeared to escape discovery.

3. Eddie could have been horribly disfigured and decided to spend the rest of his life in a recording studio, masterminding other people’s music.

4. Eddie could have dropped out, in a grand existential gesture.

Now. I will not give away the ending to this movie. But I will make the following complaint: Even though one of the above possibilities does, indeed, turn out to be true, it is still not the ending of the movie!
The movie makes the fatal flaw of arriving at a dramatic conclusion that does not settle the Eddie Wilson mystery. Instead, all we get is a big buildup to a dumb revelation. What a disappointment.

What this tells me is that the theme of the film went right by Ebert’s head. He was looking for interesting plot twists and bombshells. The fact that there is no payoff is a central component of the narrative. It does not really matter whether Eddie is alive or dead. What we see in the film is how the characters haven’t changed. Sal is as bitter and envious as he was in 1964. Doc is still a conniving dreamer looking for an angle on a big score. Joann is still attractive, sentimental and gullible. Frank is still a mild mannered, romantic, preppy poet. We also get to see how the retrospective on Eddie and the possibility that he could be alive awakens their old ambitions and dreams.

This is a movie for people in their 30′s to really appreciate. Sal is still hanging on and playing as the old band, though the other members have long moved on with their lives. It reminds me of so many of the 60′s bands that play at Indian Casinos, where it would only be like 2 of the original members actually playing. Some of us are still musicians struggling to make it while our friends have gone on to the corporate world and started families. This is where I identify with Doc. He’s an opportunistic failure of a hustler whose dreams are dashed time and time again, yet he sees the lost tapes as a shot at redemption. The one person who does make an effort to change is of course Eddie, with his rock opera “Season in Hell” he wants to finally make something great. He is not content with who he is, unlike Sal who says “We ain’t great. We’re just a couple of guys from Jersey.”

Eddie and The Cruisers is a terrific film. Just don’t go looking for clever plot twists or elaborate storylines. Watch it to see how people don’t change. Ride along with The Cruisers as they relive their youthful dreams, and in the process lead us to re-awaken some of our own.


Brandon Adamson is the author of “Beatnik Fascism

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Transylvania 6-5000

WANTED: Two thrill-seeking reporters, brains optional, looking to dig up the story of the century

In 1985 the movie Transylvania 6-5000 came out. I’m not even sure it came out in theatres in Phoenix, but I do remember it coming out on VHS. My dad was a big fan of Michael Richards because of the weekly live skit show FRIDAYS that he starred on. I’m pretty sure that’s why my parents rented the movie and also rented the VCR, either from Circle K or Basha’s. The rental VCRs were encased in black plastic, and look more like rugged luggage. They were the best!

It’s about the head of a sleazy newspaper named Mac (Norman Fell) whose just watched a videotape that maybe shows the existence of Frankenstein’s monster (referred to as Frankenstein in the movie). Mac sends Jack (Jeff Goldblum) and Gil (Ed Begley, Jr), who is Mac’s son, to Transylvania to get the story behind the Frankenstein sighting. The movie plays like a modern day Abbott & Costello movie, or a Bing Crosby and Bob Hope “road” movie. Goldblum and Begley have great chemistry, and it’s a real shame that they didn’t star in another movie together.

This movie is jam packed with stars like Jeffrey Jones as the mayor, Michael Richards as the butler, Joseph Bologna as the mad scientist (also star of the Big Bus), and unforgettably, Geena Davis as a nymphomaniac vampire. She is one of the sexiest vampires ever in an American movie. This movie puts her in the Movie Cutie Hall of Fame. She has crazy sex appeal as the shy nympho vampire.

Michael Richards is also really good in this movie, showcasing the physical humor that made him a star later on. Some of his scenes are still super funny to me. Check out the scene with the puppet!

This movie also had an awesome box for it, it really made it seem like a scary movie, which there are no scary moments. I bet this movie was placed in the horror section and a few mom and pop video stores based on the box alone.  It would look totally perfect sitting next to Evil Dead and Visiting Hours.

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I also had no idea that the movie title was a pun on the Glenn Miller song Pennsylvania 6-5000 until I heard it in in a thrift store. I was in my twenties and had a crazy flashback to this movie.

If you are trying to build up a collection of VHS movies, this movie is worth it!

It might be rated PG, but I doubt anyone under 21 would really enjoy the movie. Its not slapstick enough for the younger kids, there are not real scary moments, and the humor is not vulgar ever. It’s the opposite of typical comedies these days.

It not great, but it really has some funny moments, a lot of charm with its great cast, and it’s good to watch when your’e feeling down.

See it!
Geena Davis is so hot and adorable in this movie!!
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Blue Chips

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Pete Bell: You took the purest thing in your life and corrupted it, for what? For what?

The movie BLUE CHIPS came out in 1994, during the height of basketball popularity. It came out the year after Michael Jordan abruptly retired from the NBA, just after winning his third straight championship. Mens college basketball was also huge, especially the rivalry between Duke and North Carolina. The coaches themselves were some of the most iconic and recognizable faces in basketball during this time. Several of these real life coaches and players appear in this film.

BLUE CHIPS is about Pete Bell (NICK NOLTE), coach of the Western University mens basketball team, nicknamed the Dolphins. The Dolphins were once a winning, successful team, but have fallen on hard times. A losing streak and inability to bring in top recruits has made the Dolphins mediocre. The pressure is on for coach Bell to bring in talented players and get the basketball program back on track. The problem is that the other colleges are illegally luring in recruits with gifts and money.

Happy (JT WALSH) is a booster that already has a shady past, and offers to help illegally bring in recruits to make his old school a winner again. Ed (ED ONEIL) is the sports writer who thinks something funny is going on with coach Bell and his recent recruits. Jenny Bell (MARY MCDONNELL) is Pete’s ex-wife, who is still close to Pete, and they probably still love each other. She helps him by tutoring one new recruit, Butch McRae (AFERNEE “PENNY” HARDAWAY), who is academically ineligible to play, and has only agrees to play if his mother is found a job and bought a house.

Neon (SHAQUILLE ONEAL) is the other high profile character we meet. He has raw talent, but doesn’t want to put in the hard work. This is seems to echo his real life NBA career, as he never really achieves the level of greatness that he seemed capable of.

In the movie, you can’t help but feel sorry for the position that coach Bell is in, and although you don’t want him to choose the dark path of bribery, it does seem like the only way to keep up with the other crooked colleges. NOLTE is great as coach Bell. His stern, gruff demeanor are in line of what a basketball coaches seems like. The fact that NOLTE shadowed Indiana Hoosiers coach BOBBY KNIGHT, makes sense, as they both seem to be a bit aggressive and hot-headed. NOLTE even kicks a basketball into the crowd when arguing with a referee.

The reason this film works is in great cast, and great directing by legendary WILLIAM FRIEDKIN (The Exorcist, The French Connection, Cruising). He wouldn’t seem to come to mind to direct a sports film, but consider that the movie is not really a sports movie, but a movie about conscious and consequences, which path to choose. There is no “big game” scene, such as in Teen Wolf, but the outcome is about all about the cost of winning.

Ironic that this movie is about corruption and gambling when it speculated that Michael “Air” Jordan’s retirement was partially due to his gambling addiction, and the murder of his father. These themes of gambling and fathers play into Blue Chips. The movie would be a great double feature with the 1974 movie THE GAMBLER, starring JAMES CAAN. If you’ve seen the movie, you will understand why.

Sports corruption has always been around, from boxing to golf. This movie works because corruption of college players, basketball and football especially, has always been alleged. News will occasionally tell us about a former college player who was connected to bribes and such corruption as this movie portrays.

The movie’s only failing is in casting real NBA players as the college recruits. They are completely flat, and are not convincing at all. They are on the same level as when Joe Montana hosted Saturday Night Live. I can’t help but think it was the movie studio that pushed for the use of real players. They almost make the movie unbearable when they are on screen. This does cannot be said of ex-Celtic star, BOB COUSY who is really good as the school’s athletic director.

Obviously SHAQUILLE ONEAL starred in a few other films after this, with the same level of acting. Something that will haunt him, and seems to overshadow his basketball accomplishments. Anyone still have a copy of SHAQ FU for the Super Nintendo?

See BLUE CHIPS, and enjoy the real drama of the characters as wonderfully portrayed (not the modern day NBA players though). It’s a excellent depiction of the real corruption that is still prevalent in todays modern sports. It’s a shame that NOLTE’s performance seems to have been completely forgotten as this movie was marketed as a sports movie “starring” SHAQ and PENNY HARDAWAY, real life teammates on the Orlando Magic. Revisit this movie, now that the horrible NBA hype doesn’t overshadow the real stars, NICK NOLTE and WILLIAM FRIEDKIN.

Blue Chips
1994
108 minutes
Director: William Friedkin
Writer: Ron Shelton

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It’s Not Just A Job, It’s an Adventure

Army Navy, one the finest bands to come out of Los Angeles in probably the last 10 years, has put out a new video, directed by veteran young writer/director Mark Schoenecker and featuring Martin Starr(Freaks and Geeks.) The well respected group has enjoyed steadily increasing popularity since they burst onto the scene several years ago. Their latest video, for the song titled “World’s End,” is a refreshingly unassuming masterpiece. In this era of illiterate Ke$ha softcore, and perplexingly popular yet total cheeseball songs like “I Wanna Be A Billionaire,” director Schoenecker refreshingly manages to capture the golden age of Sunset Strip innocence and combine it with 21st century, contemporary appeal. Stylistically, “World’s End” is seemingly modeled after the old music variety shows like Shindig, which once dominated television airwaves and introduced many famous musical acts. Yet, this is not really a “retro” video. Rather it represents a return to lost fundamental standards of taste, and attention to long abandoned qualities like color usage, ambiance, and subtlety. In other words, it is the future we now live in, the way we’ve always hoped it would be.

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Running The Gauntlet

Just last week l was reading this article. lt talked about flying. Said we’d all become just like cattle. Trusting our lives to people we don’t even know. Like pilots. Said we do it all the time. Then we get our heads bashed in. . . . . .like cattle, for being so trusting.

A couple months ago, I picked up a DVD of Clint Eastwood’s 1977 movie, “The Gauntlet,” which was shot mostly in Phoenix. I hadn’t seen it since it was on UPN one afternoon in the summer 1996, just a few weeks after I moved here. I remember at the time being excited and feeling a sense of pride that Phoenix was my home, and that the film was set in what was now essentially my hometown. Indeed upon re-watching it, I noticed various downtown Phoenix landmarks are visible in the background. Hanny’s can actually be seen in a skyview during one driving sequence. “The Gauntlet” is a pretty solid film up until the last couple of minutes, with it’s hyperdramatic, highly implausible ending( I find it hard to believe that hundreds of cops would just stand there silently, idly watching while the police commissioner and a supposed fugitive argue and shoot each other at point blank range. The remark about air travel made by the waitress in Las Vegas reminded me of the nature of my own reservations about flying. It’s the fact that while it’s statistically safer, you have absolutely zero control over the outcome of the situation. It’s like buying a reverse lottery ticket with the jackpot of a horrifying death. While you’re much more likely to die behind the wheel, to some extent you can trust your own instincts and defensive driving skills, to give yourself at least some small amount of leverage to tip the balance. I’ve always felt a similar, slightly less ambivalence toward mass transit. Though you may be in a heavy traffic, or construction environment when driving a car, you have control over the ambiance of your immediate environment(volume of the radio, level of peace and quiet, whom or what is sitting next to you.) I’ve ridden the bus several thousand times in my life, and besides the fact that it doubles or triples the travel time to any destination, the worst part about it is always the plethora of irritating and ill-mannered people you have to share it with. I sit in silence trying to avoid unsolicited talking as well as block out all of the loud and obnoxious banter from oblivious people who don’t seem to give a rat’s ass about the riding experience of anyone else. Once on a bus ride from Los Angeles, two ghetto teenage girls sat behind me discussing their multiple miscarriages the entire length of the trip. “I told my man he needs to start wearin’ cause I don’t wanna be gettin’ pregnant again.” One time on a West Hollywood city bus, the driver pulled over while a muscular Russian guy fought a drunken homeless black guy that had been harassing the other passengers. People who always talk of the great train systems in Japan and Hong Kong, don’t seem to realize that when attempting to duplicate it here, we would not have the luxury of riding it with courteous and intelligent Asian people(not even taking into account the “groping” incidents women frequently endure in these countries’ rail cars.) I had a good experience the one or two times I used the Los Angeles subway to get to the San Fernando Valley(it was fast, and there was almost nobody on it) though one might question the wisdom of building an underground railway system in an area that is built on a famous faultline and therefore highly susceptible to potentially massive earthquakes. Personally I would rather that cities incorporate strategies to limit or reduce the overall amount of people, rather than working to attract and accommodate large increases in uneducated people, herding everyone into cattle cars and virtually eliminating individuals’ control over their own personal space and travel experience. In theory, I’m not really opposed to the idea of public transportation. I enjoyed the monorail at Disneyland as much as the next kid, and would gladly set aside my idiosyncratic reservations and fears if I were able to ride something remotely 1960′s/70′s futuristic to work everyday. Riding the contemporary city bus or light rail feels more like Soylent Green than 2001 A Space Odyssey, though. The Phoenix of 1977 as depicted in The Gauntlet has been thoroughly transformed, yet like the film, it still retains much of it’s charm. As with most change, something’s gained and something’s lost.


Brandon Adamson is the author of “Beatnik Fascism

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We Called Him Tortoise Because He Taught Us

At the used book store in the Milwaukee Airport in 1988, I made my mom buy me a book called “Winning Through Intimidation” mainly because, as a little kid, I liked the illustrations and was drawn to the cool looking turtle on the front cover.

I kept this book under my pillow(along with about 8 other books) and used to read it before falling asleep. I have no idea how much I was able to actually comprehend. Despite it’s title, this book is actually about how to avoid being intimidated, not just by people, but by life itself. With it’s cynical world view, and humorous anecdotes, the principles are timeless and can be applied to almost any situation. I revisited this book recently while in the bathtub and found that I had unknowingly(subconsciously) adopted many of the methods and attitudes promoted in this book(page 7 for example:)

Theory of Sustenance of a Positive Attitude Through the Assumption of a Negative Result

a. Prepare yourself for long-term success by being prepared for short-term failure
b. A person shouldn’t enter a sales situation feeling he can’t make the sale, but he should realistically assume that he won’t make the sale. If you’re prepared, then you’re able to feel confident that you are capable of making the sale if it is possible to be made. Hope for the best, but realistically assume the worst.
c. No matter how well prepared you are, only a small percentage of deals actually close, because there are an endless number of factors beyond your control.
d. Each negative result is an educational experience from which you can extract lessons learned, and then forget about the negative result.

How many times have I gone into a romantic situation enthusiastically while at the same time knowing it was likely to be a complete fucking disaster?(see the entry below this one.) I’m pretty sure it’s been every time, for a long time.

“Winning Through Intimidation” came out in 1973, and was remarkably a self-published book which became a #1 best seller. The Author, Robert Ringer, is still around, http://www.robertringer.com. I’ve always been obsessed with both rabbits and turtles. Indeed, my moniker on the internet was “rabbit” in the early days of the internet(after the main character in John Updike’s novel Rabbit, Run which has always been a personal favorite.) The white rabbit from Alice in Wonderland was my favorite character as well. Yet, truth be told I identify more with the tortoise. In fact one of my ex girlfriends used to refer to me as a turtle, mainly due to how slow I was to commit and allow the relationship to progress. Though I might also argue that my incredible patience with her and protective shell to deflect her blows were the real turtle-like qualities. Friends I have had in the music and art world have never understood why I released things so cheaply and never followed the so called natural steps to achieve fame, fortune and notoriety. “How will you ever become popular if you don’t play live.” “Don’t you want to tour and get a record deal?” You have to do this. You have to do that to make it, Brandon.” All they thought about was the short term, concerned with doing whatever they could to get ahead quickly. When I started recording music in the late 90′s, I may have lived under some of those illusions, but I was looking 20 or 30 years ahead. My goal was to release as many works and small projects as I could, with an eye on what their cumulative effect would be as opposed to their individual immediate impact(which I had no illusions about.) Just put something out, any way you can, don’t push it too hard or give a rats ass what anyone thinks, and move on to the next project. Each is just a piece of some gigantic narcissistic puzzle of my life. Is it the best way to create things and live? I can’t really say I know for sure. It is this tortoise’s way though.

Robert Ringer adopted The Tortoise as his alter ego in his first book, because so many of the anecdotes in that autobiographical work were reminiscent of the legendary tortoise-and-hare tale. The Tortoise is the unglamorous plodder who always seems to find a way to come out ahead, no matter how harshly life treats him along the way. He isn’t flashy or impressive; his strengths are consistency, perseverance, resiliency, and resourcefulness. He’s the kind of reptile who, upon being told that he can’t play in someone’s game, simply goes out and starts his own league.

The Tortoise is the quintessential antihero, reflected in such characters as Ben Braddock (played by Dustin Hoffman), the shy, stuttering boyfriend in The Graduate; or Colombo, the fumbling, stumbling detective played by Peter Falk in the old TV series of the same name, slow when it came to figuring things out, but always catching the villain in the end; or Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) in the Rocky film series, the late starter who overcame all odds to become world heavyweight champion.

The Tortoise is the ultimate icon of perseverance, the reptile who demonstrates that the outcome of most situations in life are decided over the long term. His motto succinctly sums up his view of the world:

Quickly getting out of the starting blocks may get people’s attention, but all that counts is where you are when the race is over.

“Maybe I’ll be seeing you around the jungle sometime.”

As a side note, given that this book came out in 1973, there are some hilarious parts in “boy-girl theory and “better deal theory” sections relating to how a woman can sell herself as a potential wife to a man(and vice versa.) Now after all these years I finally recognize where my views on relationships as business partnerships originated. It was as a prepubescent boy at the airport in 1988, picking up a copy of “Winning Through Intimidation.” The butterfly effect, anyone?


Brandon Adamson is the author of “Beatnik Fascism

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