Thursday, January 05, 2006

The Ticked and the Tickled, and Other Assorted Monkey Business for Me to be Involved In...

Sorry, folks, for stooping to what some of you call politics.

But actually, I really don't see it as politics at all. I see FOX (and particularly O'Reilly) as being objectionable not on political left/right lines but more on intelligent/dumbed-down-for-the-mouthbreathers lines.

I mean -- what O'Reilly (and a depressing number of "commentators") offer is not news; it's opinion, and pretty specious, inflammatory opinion at that; opinion built not on fact but on self-serving pre-conceived opinions/biases and deliberate distortions of the truth; a smug, anti-intellectual stance that mocks anyone who thinks for themself -- or doesn't belong to the proper group.

The simple fact is that, out in the real world, there simply is NO evidence of any widespread war on Christmas -- just a few ill-tempered cranks on either side trying to create molehills out of mountains. And there is enough real and important news, both good and bad, to report on, without resorting to -- and exploiting (and devoting major air time) to -- a minor controversy between a few zealots and a few puffed-up self-righteous blowhards.

Most of us in the real world, regardless of our assorted religious/political/social beliefs, celebrate or otherwise mark the holidays in some fashion, and most of us do tend to wish one another, particularly at this time of year, best wishes and good health and peace on earth and all that stuff, no matter what words we choose to use. And we accept those wishes from others, regardless of what words they use, in the same fashion, in the spirit in which they were intended.

Where I come from the proper response to "Merry Christmas" or "Joyeux Noel" or "Happy Holidays" is not "FUCK YOU!" (Here's a factoid from the frontlines: I work with the public and must have wished several hundred folks some form of holiday wishes over the last month or so -- and not one of them took my remarks in any sort of spirit other than that in which they were intended.).

What O'Reilly and his ilk (on both sides) do, though, is take those honest and sincere wishes and spit on them, seeking the high ground of self-righteous victimhood, all the better to look down upon their alleged persecutors. Which is, ironically, totally against the spirit of the season -- and of the god -- in which he and many of his slack-jawed disciples allegedly believe.

Or did I miss out on "The Gospel According to O'Reilly," also known as "Jesus: The Bully Boy Hectoring-Everyone-I-Disagree-With Years"?

But I digess...

Guyot, I don't want to be guilty of being a boring-ass blogger, so I'll try not to get too "political." And I'd probably never tell you to go blow yourself.

But have a few beers when you're in L.A.? Sure, sign me up. Drop me a line.

The 10th to the 20th? Well, I'm free the 10th, the 11th, the 16th and the 18th for sure (weekends are sorta tough this month). Anyone for an afternoon or early evening weekday romp somewhere in LA (contact me off-list)? Maybe we can establish a sort of of monthly Thrilling Detective/Rara Avis/Detec Today West Coast social event, possibly occasionally tied in with visiting authors and other miscreants from the hardboiled/noir/P.i. world?

I'm the world's worst organizer -- ask D.L., ask Gerald, ask anyone -- but I do love having a few beers with friends. Let's do this. Round up the usual suspects, drop me a line...

And, moving right along, while a good chunk of you seem ticked off (or just tickled) that I got "political," didn't anyone read past my mini-rant?

I mean, this blog is allegedly about crime and mystery fiction (I think), and I did mention THE ROCKFORD FILES and 1001 MIDNIGHTS, two very fertile grounds for discussion (or at least comment) I thought.

Does EVERYONE AGREE that Rockford was the #1 TV P.I.? Can't anyone (besides me) make a case for Harry O? Or Mannix? Or even Magnum, P.U.?

And how about 1001 MIDNIGHTS? Was I TOO HARSH on Bill and Marcy? Or too lenient?

I await your comments -- operators are standing by.

And as for my tease about King Kong, Joe Kubert and finally doing Tarzan right -- here goes.

Saw KING KONG with D.L. the other day. We both loved it, thought it was great dumb (but not too dumb) fun. Okay, there were a few flaws -- at least one too many dinosaur fights and the bug scene was just overkill -- too gross and not serving the plot in any feasible way. But the human interaction? Man, what gonzo casting! Jack Black was perfectly imperfect, and Adrian Brody was just great, the wimpy writer with the heart of the lion. Everyone was just slightly miscast to perfection. And Ms. Watts? You don't have to be a big ape to fall for her. That schtick where she juggles and dances for Mr. K? Pure brilliance. As my pal Mark Sullivan pointed out, "Some of the best stuff was the interaction between her and the ape."

And writing wise, I thought the idea of doing a remake by filling in the front story, not re-doing the ending, was a wise choice.

This sets a new standard for remakes of well-loved classics, if you ask me. And it got me to thinking, especially when I saw Kong moving through the jungle like the wild beast he's supposed to be, that maybe it's about time somebody did a Tarzan movie that didn't suck, one that's true to the spirit of the books and character that Edgar Rice Burroughs created about ninety years ago.

Johnny Weissimuller? The Ah-nold of his day, and about as good an actor. Ron Ely? Nice hair, good teeth, safe to leave children around. The recent Disney all-singing, all-dancing Bambi-with-loincloth travesty? YUCK!!!! Not that all the Tarzan flicks have been dreadful, but there just hasn't been a really good one for a long long time.

Nope, we're about due for a big budget big screen Tarzan that does it right, and I think Peter Jackson, if he can rein in his excesses (did LOTR III ever really end?), might be the man to do it.

Because, up until now, the only really good adaptation (at least in my lifetime) of Tarzan I can think of is artist/writer Joe Kubert's adaptation for DC Comics back in the seventies, a landmark work that really captured the sheer visceral energy and passion of Burrough's original.

Kubert, for my money, did by far the best comic Tarzan, even better than such legendary artists as Hogarth or Manning or Foster. Kubert's Tarzan was feral and savage and dark to the point of noir -- and you can see that for yourself in the two new hard-bound collections that just came out, that collect all his Tarzan work for DC (including his adaptations of Burroughs' original TARZAN OF THE APES and THE RETURN OF TARZAN). Those scenes in the brush where just the whites of Tarzan's eyes glare from out of the darkness... that's the sort of visual, visceral whallop only the very best comics and movies can deliver.

And for fans of Joe Kubert, you should also be on the lookout for a new Sgt. Rock mini-series (from DC of course) that starts this month, written and drawn by Joe. Evidently, it all has something to do with protecting Vatican treasures or something from the Nazis (or is it Tom Hanks?) and might be really interesting -- there's that same sense of barely contained violence in the best of Kubert's war comic work that recalls his Tarzan.

I can just see it now: "KREEGAH!!! SGT. ROCK BUNDOLO!!!"

Yeah, maybe, if Jackson ever does KONG, he can hire Kubert to do the art direction -- or at least the poster.

Oh, and the Beer of the Day?

Afflgem Blond Ale, courtesy of some crazy but happenin' Belgian monks. Got a bit of a bite to it, one of those aggressively yeasty ales you can't really drink out of the bottle because of all the lees. Definitely a sipping beer, but a tasty one, one not afraid to taste like beer. Might go well with some good cheese and some crackers...

Hmmm... well, that's number three let loose on the world. I hope I passed the audition.


Blogger Confessions of a Starving Mystery Writer said...

Bill O'Rielly? Why pick on the handicapped? Some people really love him. His books are always best sellers - though I am affraid to guess - must be the bully pulpit thing.

As far as Hardboiled, do you know of any markets(Magazines) that specialize in it. I've only found a few.

Wew, Monk beer? A-flgem? Kriegy...

2:06 PM, January 05, 2006  
Blogger Jim Winter said...

As I said on another blog, Bill O'Reilly is the Cadillac of Idiots.

"did LOTR III ever really end?"

Sure. Several times.

3:22 PM, January 05, 2006  
Blogger John DuMond said...

So far so good. But you could use more Rockford and less O'Reilly. Nobody takes that guy seriously, not even his fans (O'Reilly, that is, not Rockford). I watched O'Reilly last night. Then I watched Rockford on DVD (The Kirkoff Case--James Woods plays such a prick). No contest. Jimbo, hands down.

3:39 PM, January 05, 2006  
Blogger FizzWater said...

Yes, Rockford was/is #1. But Harry O. was/is a very close second.

Loved the 1001 Midnights stuff.

7:04 PM, January 05, 2006  
Blogger John Rickards said...

The 1984 Christopher Lambert Tarzan wasn't at all bad, I thought. Not big on the adventure side of things, but a much more respectable version than most.

Of course, I saw it a looooong time ago, so it might be the haze of memory playing tricks on me.

3:42 AM, January 06, 2006  
Blogger David Skibbins said...

It's so geat to have a daily dose of your pisser personality. I was missing it on Wicked. Things were just getting too tame over there, and you're the reason I joined that group. So don't let any of the whiners rein you in, continue ypour rants, and let the chips fall where they may.

What I'd love, is a real classy redo of Modesty Blaise. I loved that gal, and done in a noir edgy movie.

6:38 AM, January 06, 2006  
Blogger Stephen Blackmoore said...

Haven't seen the new Kong, yet, but I have to wonder have there been any remakes better than the originals?

I don't mean prettier, or with better production value, and bigger monsters, but truer to the story, or a better telling of it.

Disturbingly, the one that comes to mind is the Frankenstein that Kenneth Branagh did in '94. Sure, it was truer to the story, but there was just way too much slime. That one was just... gross. And not in a good way.

They even tried to do a book tie in that was "The Novelization of the Movie of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein". Seeing that cover hurt for weeks.

7:50 AM, January 06, 2006  
Blogger David Terrenoire said...

Jim Rockford? No question, the best. I've read that the character came out of Garner's playing Marlowe. Is that true? And if it is, is it any wonder that Rockford rocks?

8:37 AM, January 06, 2006  
Blogger Stephen D. Rogers said...

Certain "news" networks DO impact my writing. The two nearest places to where I work that I can write at during lunch both blare noise at me from TVs hanging from the ceilings. Is it any wonder that my production has slipped?

10:21 AM, January 06, 2006  
Blogger John DuMond said...

I had forgotten that Garner had done Marlowe. Wasn't Bruce Lee in that movie? I guess I need to make a trip to the video store sometime in the near future.

10:51 AM, January 06, 2006  
Blogger David Terrenoire said...

Yeah, Bruce Lee.

Bruce Lee flying feet first off that rooftop. Now that's entertainment.

11:05 AM, January 06, 2006  

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