Simon and Simon: And The Case of Teaching Us How To Love Again


 

Admit it, you hear the slide guitar in your head. That scratchy riff. The bumping of the kick drum. You may be heading off to the internet to track down the theme song, so let me help you out. Let it jog your memory. Let it carry you off to the memories of yesteryear. Ah, such a great song!

Now, I’m not going to act like I was a huge fan of the show. I was ten when it was canceled. There is no Rick cosplay costume in my closet. I never attended the Simon and Simon Con and Con. In fact, I don’t remember that much about the show. No episode is stuck in my mind. Hell, I had to google their names. When I read Rick, it rang a bell, but Andrew “A.J.” Jackson didn’t really.

The show was about two brothers. One who had gotten too big for his britches and moved to, not only the big city, but Cali-forn-I-A. While the other stayed behind and then went off to ‘Nam. For some reason, they decide to open a Private Detective agency. Good times ensued and conflicting differences occurred. Mr. Fancy pants A.J. was the well-to-do, practicing Catholic, book smart guy who played by the rules, mostly. Meanwhile, Rick was never seen without a combination of a mustache, denim or cowboy boots, yes, even in shorts. He was surly, ornery, and in general rootin’-tootin’.

Needless to say, their case solving styles were different. Sometimes one of them wanted to punch a guy, while the other one figured it was best to hit said guy with their truck then punch him. Even so, they were able to put aside their differences and solve over one hundred and fifty* cases. Still, there is one case they didn’t solve. A case they didn’t even know existed. For the crime wouldn’t be committed for almost thirty more years.That’s the Case of the Divided people!

Coast to coast. Urban to rural. Facebook to twitter. We’ve quickly become people that can’t fathom speaking with someone on the “other side.” Compromise isn’t a word we seem to be familiar with. All we want to do is to keep posting our one-sided feel good, won’t convert anyone’s thoughts memes.

Here’s the thing, even if they wanted to solve the case, they couldn’t. Simon and Simon, could not exist right now. Not in the current bi-partisan polar opposite climate. Not in the fake news thumping, finger pointing, dick wagging, hear no republican, speak no democrat, see no – whatever – bullshit spree we are on about. If it did, it would bomb when one of the two groups easily offended snowflakes started complaining. Either Rick is too much of a racist redneck or A.J. would be a fast talkin’ sissy. Take your pick. In truth, neither one would actually be offensive to anyone except the snowflakes.

Yet, I would argue that we need Simon and Simon. Now more than ever! The only way they could solve this case is by demonstrating acts of brotherly love and acceptance. Rick and A.J. could easily show us how it’s done. Extending the hand and not giving into the temptation to strike one another in the mouth.

Come on Hollywood do it! Bring it back! Get Gerald McRaney and Jameson Parker back in there. If it makes you feel better, I’ll even let you cast Danny McBride and James Franco or Zac Efron. Make it a bit more of comedy if you’d like. Don’t go dark with it. Opening sequence, two brothers step out of the voting booth, as the place their “I voted stickers” on their lapels, they look each other dead in the eyes. A tense moment passes and then, a good ol’ brotherly rivalry fueled eighties fight scene ensues – please include a water fountain. Because let’s face it, Rick and A.J. would have voted for Trump and Hillary respectively. Sure A.J. may have toyed with the idea of Gary Johnson, but he eventually came around.

 


*This is based on the assumption that they solved one case per episode.

 

New Viewing Context: The Three Amigos Is The Sequel To The Wild Bunch


 

Over the Family Day long weekend, I watched a lot of westerns and horror movies. It had been awhile since I got to wallow in worlds with tons of death and no indoor plumbing. There’s something fantastically liberating about going into a movie and knowing that at least ninety percent of the cast is not going to make it to the end credits. I won’t list everything that I watched, but The Wild Bunch and Bone Tomahawk were on the list.

Seriously, what’s the deal with Bone Tomahawk? It’s great! I really liked it, but that PG rating lulled me into a false sense of security. “What’s the worst that could happen, little bit of blood, little bit of swearing?” Nope! There have been countless horror movies that I’ve sat through. So many that I’d started to think I’d seen it all. That was until I bolted up right on the couch. I won’t spoil it, but it really made me wonder what the criteria for getting a rating above PG is.

Anyway, The Wild Bunch – which got an R rating like it should and didn’t make me turn on all the lights in the house and start re-watching The Strange Calls after – was also great, better than great. One of those westerns from the 60’s and 70’s. A time when people knew how to make westerns. The films would transcend the genre and convey a deeper meaning through metaphor. Everyone was bad and wrong, none of that John Wayne hero crap. Also, I loved how the first fifteen minutes is an argument against gun carry laws and having guns in school. It’s practically a left wing funded PSA.

After the first half hour, I started to realize a few things. Some similarities between The Wild Bunch and The Three Amigos. At first, I thought it was just coincidence or wishful thinking on my part – then I would be able to write another New Viewing Context. Yet, after awhile the coincidences turned into homages.

The same songs permeate the background sounds of both movies. The locations look very similar, as they should because both movies take place in Mexico. Not only are the settings similar, but both films take place in nearly the same time*, with maybe five years separating them.  This conclusion is based on a Wild Bunch conversation surrounding the car and how there is a flying one. Airplanes are a bit of a mystery to the characters. However, in the Three Amigos, we see a plane and it’s fairly common. Lastly, two suit-wearing Germans show up to strike deals with the main villains of both films.

There was a lot of potential for a blog post just from the homages and similarties. Then came the big one and with it, a little spoiler. Alfonso Arau is a bad guy in both movies. In the Wild Bunch he is Herrara,  some tertiary right hand guy. In The Three Amigos he’s El Guapo, the crazy bandit leader. We never learn El Guapo’s true name and Herrara’s fate is, somewhat open to interpretation. Sure, he’s shot in the shoulder, but seriously how fatal is that in movie logic? Not only that, but many people in The Wild Bunch tend to roll saving throws against succumbing to bullets, no matter where they are hit.

So, here it is.

Herrera’s shoulder was on fire where the god damned gringo had shot him. Yet, it didn’t stop him from standing up and looking at all the death the surrounded him. The compound was in shambles, Generalissimo was dead, and it would take a good week to clear out all the bodies, even more for the blood.

In other words, the society he had been a part of, had crumbled. The easiest thing to do would be to follow the line of survivors out the door and into the desert. That’s what he did, making sure to keep his head down as he passed the remaining gringos.

He walked for days, maybe even weeks. During that time, he was able to figure out where it had all gone wrong. Generalissimo had gotten too big and gone national. If he’d only stayed local and terrorized a few villages everything would have been fine. Everyone would still be alive.

Herrera remained lost in a daze of thought until, he passed a bush that was manically singing songs. He realized that he could not recall what happened to the people around him and that he was alone. Then he came upon the invisible swordsmen. They had a nice chat and Herrera laughed deeply when the swordsman sarcastically said that Herrera was, “Muy Guapo.”  He had needed a good laugh.

The next day he arrived at the village of Santo Poco. Herrera strode into the cantina, introducing himself as El Guapo and recruited all the near do wells to his new army. Then they went back to the fortress and cleaned it up as best they could and began a reign of terror.

 


Go watch a movie!

 

*Both movies take place in 1913.

Sweatpants Theatre: John Wick, Action Flick For Dog Lovers or Art House Film On The Elusive Female Orgasm?


 

I’m a pretty busy guy, my dance card is almost always full. For that reason, it’s taken me awhile to watch John Wick. A movie that almost everyone with a penis in my life* can’t recommend enough. Described as stylish and sleek with lots of death, it totally sounds like something I’d totally be into. While that description is apt and the movie delivers an assortment of ass kickings in urban settings filled with noiry darkness and douchey club lights, there were a few things that I didn’t like.

For those who haven’t seen it yet, don’t worry this thing is mostly spoiler free, not that there is much of an opportunity for spoilers. In order to have spoilers, a movie must have a plot and landmarks along the journey. Which are two things John Wick tricks the viewer into thinking it has, but does not. What passes for a plot is really just a trigger that leads to an anthology of fight scenes that happen because someone said they needed to. And because there is no plot, there can be no landmarks.

What I Didn’t Like (Besides The Obvious)

Alright, spoiler warning ahead. This is going to be the only spoiler. You’re a smart person, you know what to do.

What kicks off the story is one of those off-beat trigger things that one would expect from Chuck Palahniuk and sound like it would be hilarious if John Cleese and Terry Jones wrote it. However, none of these folks did. So, no matter how quirky and cynically ironic the premise is, it never seems funny. It also doesn’t help that the characters speak about it in serious dismissive tones the entire movie.

Alright, enough beating around the bush, time to rip off the bandage. Prepare thyself for the spoilers. Some twatty mobsters son, played by consummate weeny Alfie Allen (Theon Greyjoy) kills John Wick’s dog. Which is the last gift from his recently deceased wife. Not only that, it’s a puppy! Who kills a puppy? It was a bit too macabre for me personally. Maybe the writers are cat people and think they are super funny because their mom has always told them so. The entire point never seems to spread its quirky wings and ends up being void of dark humor it so craves by the end of the movie. Yet as a dog lover, I was hungry for revenge.

More of What I Didn’t Like

The characters, for the most part, seem to know it would be better to avoid John Wick, but do nothing to improve their chances of survival. It’s almost like a 80’s slasher flick where the viewer roots for the psycho killer. John Wick’s location is always known. Hell, everyone seems to know where everyone is. I mean, they’re old gangland acquaintances. No one seemed to move on up to the west side. Same old haunts, clubs, lofty penthouses. Yet that doesn’t really put anyone in real danger. Not the kind of danger the danger producer’s could produce. Threat is governed and throttled for the sake of screentime. I don’t recall seeing such truly insipid characters since Prometheus.

The plot as a whole, looks like a EKG reading for a patient in stable condition watching C-Span while eating saltines and water. There simply is no climax, just a few people vying for the spot of main antagonist/”the person voted most likely to have their asses handed to them next,” and doing things to piss off John Wick. It was strange to realize that there was no climax. No sense of closure. No tension. John is a super character, I mean an almost zero fault character. There is also rarely a point where he is in a near death situation that he can’t get out of on his own.  When he is – which is hard to believe after seeing him kill one hundred and forty people – the script fixes it easily enough. It just didn’t seem like he should really screw up.

What I Liked

The fight scenes are what this movie is all about. Of course with two stuntmen at the helm, how could they not be. There’s lots of interlacing of martial arts and guns. I found myself wondering how much cooler Equilibrium would have been with action sequences like this. Then I thought, “And the award for Movie Most Likely To Have Benefitted From Being Written By Kurt Wimmer Goes To -”

The Continental Hotel and, in general, the movie’s world building and history are pretty cool. That’s all I’m going to say about that.

Well, that was short. Oh well.

The Verdict

I’m not saying that I need my action movies to be so cerebral that they need to be directed by Werner Herzog. Their stories don’t need to be so serious that I ultimately end up seeing Paul Giamatti put Maggie Smith through a table after she does the splits and punches him in the Tom Johnson’s nutty uncles. However, having respect for the story and having believable characters whose actions adhere to what they say is really important.

If it were sex, this movie would be supremely frustrating. Sure, it would be really good looking sex with plenty growling and bangs. But there is no climax! It just drives around the block for an hour and a half, but never really gets you there. And when you think it’s done, it turns out it has another thirty minutes in it.

If you like action movies, check it out.

 


As always, I love the likes, shares and comments.

*Are you cringing.

Mike Pence Tapped For Major Motion Picture 2020


The following is a little satirical article I’ve had sitting in a folder for awhile now. Thought that Election Eve would be a special enough occasion to pull it out. Enjoy! Or not.


 

Over the last few weeks, the Trump campaign has experienced more than it’s fair share of setbacks. Many of these incidents occur when he opens his mouth in public or around recording equipment. Most recently were the recordings of him displaying how to sexually harass women. Not that anyone with a good judge of character needed a tape of him demonstrating how to be a gross 80’s Guy to know that he’d probably done such things.

As soon as that tape was released, Mike Pence began to distance himself. Saying that, “He was disgusted and was going to pray for Donald and his family.” In an effort to look like good people, other republicans began to renounce their support. During the same period, it was announced that Pence was a front runner for president in 2020.

When asked, Pence responded – after several minutes of anti-Hillary commentary – with this, “To answer your question though, I’m flattered that the GOP has put me at the top of their list. However, after running with Donny for the last year, I’ve lost my taste for politics. It’s really done a number on me. I feel that something higher is calling me. Something that is bigger than me, America and Donald.”

When asked if that calling was philanthropy, charity, or to help the down trodden, he just looked as if he’d never heard anything more off base in his entire life.

“No, I’ve been in talks with Hollywood producers about portraying a role that has been near and dear to my heart for a long time. A man that I grew up watching and who helped shape me into the exemplary man I am today. I’ve been tapped to play Race Bannon in the live action Jonny Quest reboot in 2020. Heck, it may be even sooner if Donald’s past keeps catching up with him and we don’t get into office.” He finished with a wry grin.

Jonny Quest fans, keep your fingers crossed.

pencebannon

 


 

New Viewing Context: Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday

*Very minor spoilers follow; things that are apparent in the first few minutes of viewing.*

My wife and I watched Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday the night it was made available and all in all, I enjoyed it. Although I was kind of apprehensive about watching it at first, because rewatching the TV series made me realize I didn’t like it all that much and Large Marge scarred me for life. Let me tell you though, I am glad I watched this one.

Viewers get to see Pee-Wee’s hometown and the people that inhabit it. There is a lot more to it than we have been lead to believe – at least from what I remember. Also, Pee-Wee is the coolest guy in town, which is strange because he is also, the oddest. If any normal person saw him creeping around their real-life neighborhood, they would avoid eye contact and quicken their pace.

So, where is this new viewing context? Well, I came up with it early on in the movie and for that reason, I think it made the movie beautiful. I had a thought that somewhere, in a hospital bed or on the side of the road, Pee-Wee, is lying in a coma or something. Perhaps he is an elderly man with Alzheimer’s and hyperkinesia. Some sort of trauma has caused the brain to lock off a chunk of time. A fantasy land that Pee-Wee can be a total weirdo and at the same time, be the most popular guy in town. A place that seems like it should exist just off of Route 66 during its heyday.

This was made concrete as Pee-Wee makes no reference to any of his previous movies or the tv show. Not that anyone specifically asks, but he doesn’t remember them at all. That made me think about the TV show in this context as well and it all just made sense. That pretty much sealed it for me. This strange land that is our own and yet is most assuredly not. While the time frame seems to be contemporary, there are too many instances where it is clearly not.

In general, it is a menagerie of scenes and settings. As if, a brain is exploding and replaying random events all at the same time. People from bygone eras appear and intermingle. All the while, Pee-Wee has a difficult time controlling his face and bursts of sound that resemble laughter.

While this context does seem a little sad, the movie is so happy it somewhat cancels it out. Trust me, this makes for a sublime movie viewing. Besides, if you’ve read this far, it may be a little difficult not to recall while watching Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday.

 

Boba Fett Is Dead! Long Live… Whatever…

That is right nerds. Boba Fett, the quietest, deadliest, and coolest bounty hunter in the galaxy is dead. I suppose he has been for the last few months or at least ever since it became news that only the movies and that tv show were canon.

After falling into a sarlacc pit at the end of Jedi, everyone left the theatre thinking that quiet tin headed douche, who had captured Han for a bit, had kicked the bucket. Nobody really cared. Some were glad that he was gone. Including me, nobody does that to Han and gets away with it. He didn’t do all that much and died a rather humorous death that wasn’t fitting of his bad ass status. In fact, he died much in the same manner that the nameless and generic gamorrean guards did. Right into the sarlacc pit, which looks like nothing more than a sand sphincter. I should know, I just drew one and am now considered an expert on the subject.

It wasn’t until, later that he came back to life in one of the books. Well, actually, he had never died. Something about his jetpack and a ledge or something. I am not sure and I don’t care enough to google it. The book also contained more information about him, apparently. Maybe he did some really rad stuff, because he is really popular. Everyone likes him, including myself.

Even his toys are sought after and are more difficult to find. There seems to be a higher value put on them. I believe it is akin to how popular Snake Eyes from G.I. Joe was. His toys were more difficult to track down too. While all we knew about him was that he’s a badass and a dog person.

So without the acknowledgement of that book in the new canon. Boba is dead, but don’t fret. I am sure they will bring him back. However, for the moment, he is, dead. My condolences. Also, Han’s cooler.