Sunday, June 30, 2013



Meanwhile, the New York Times, competing with Entertainment magazine, has come out with a Johnny Depp puff piece written by Christopher Wallace, portraying Depp as a rebel.

Keep the cash register ringing!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Why Is Sherman Alexie Silent?


Why hasn’t award-winning Native American author Sherman Alexie weighed in on the “Lone Ranger” Johnny-Depp-as-Tonto controversy? Alexie is famous for detesting the Tonto name and character. See:

Could it be that he’s something of a friend of Depp’s? Here’s a blog post indicating that Sherman Alexie was writing a screenplay for Mr. Depp.

What up? Just asking.


See my pre-review of the new “Lone Ranger” movie here:

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

I Have a Bridge to Sell You

Here’s a hilarious article about new “Lone Ranger” star Armie Hammer. The article discusses the lack of shortcuts he took(?), and quotes Armie that he had to “give up being rich” to make it as an actor.

The only question is: really? No shortcuts? No money? A starving actor eating scrapple and beans? Armie was appearing on national television shows while a teenager. He made his first movie at age twenty. He’s all of twenty-six today. Armie is featured on a website listing the richest Hollywood actors, his wealth given at $12 million.

Disowned by his parents for becoming an actor? Truly? When his father has significant investments in the movie industry, and has owned a TV/film production company?

If you believe any of the media’s sycophantic gloss on reality, I have a bridge to sell you.

(I also have an ebook coming out about Western movies.)

Monday, June 24, 2013


THE PROBLEM with literature today is that it’s dominated by bureaucrats with a tops-down mindset. They believe they can impose their flimsy “progressive” values onto literature, via their control of a handful of flagships. Tottering flagships like the New York Times Book Review.
This explains the nonsense of the National Book Critics Circle and their “Gender Counting.”

Of least concern are two very different factors.
A.) What the public wants.
B.) The inherent aesthetic and moral values of stories, poems, and novels.

Literary bureaucrats are part of a much larger problem—a pseudo Left whose principles have more to do with Bismarck than Marx. Whose only true ethos is ever-larger bureaucracy. Layers of bureaucracy which are strangling the nation and its economy, in the same way literary bureaucrats strangle the literary art.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Slavish Imitation at McSweeney’s

One thing I noticed, when I went on the McSweeney’s site, for the first time in a long time, to read their take on the Johnny Depp/Tonto controversy. (See previous post.) It’s that all their writers are doing slavish imitations of Dave Eggers’ own hyper-cute writing style.

Am I the only person who finds that strange?

It’d be as if Ernest Hemingway (ahem: Eggers is no Hemingway) was editing a journal, or a web site, and every single writer in the journal or on the site was required to write in his, Hemingway’s, own peculiar writing style. Now, Ernest Hemingway was something of an egomaniac, but not that big of an egomaniac.

It’s of a piece with the totalitarian nature of the entire McSweeney’s enterprise, which tolerates no criticism or dissent, and adheres to the Orwellian Big Brother principle that everyone in the literary game should never disagree about anything.

Writing style is something that should be individual to the writer. Beyond this, it’s for certain that the trademark Eggers style is not a natural way of writing—yet his writers/worshippers engage in it.

(For more about the strangeness of the McSweeney’s cult, pick up my satirical ebook novel, The McSweeneys Gang, still available at the Kindle Store at Amazon or B&N’s Nook Books.)

Thursday, June 20, 2013

More Lone Ranger Cynicism

The new Lone Ranger movie is already generating controversy regarding the questionable casting of Johnny Depp, of all people, as Tonto. Many white Hollywood actors on ego trips in the past have identified with the Native American cause—notably, Marlon Brando and Kevin Costner. But they never went so far as play a Native American role themselves. We’re right back at German-born Henry Brandon playing Indian chief Scar in John Ford’s “The Searchers.”

As part of the promotion of the new film, Disney Corp seems intent on “open-ended” financing of Native American groups to buy their silence. See:

Note that Johnny Depp is Executive Producer of the flick, so it would’ve been hard to bump him off the project.

Whichever way you slice it, pretentious Depp is a come-down from impressive Indian actor Jay Silverheels, who played Tonto in the 1950’s.

Meanwhile, the silliest, most egregious, most brain-dead website in all the American literary scene, McSweeney’s, has weighed in with their own take on the issue:

Note how writer Natanya Ann Pulley is forced to write in the trademark McSweeney’s baby-talk style in order to express her views on the subject. Is she an adult, or an eight year-old? What’s more embarrassing: Johnny Depp in white face with a bird on his head, or Natanya Ann Pulley’s goo-goo-gaga McSweeneysSpeak?

See my pre-release review of the movie, here:

This pre-review of “The Lone Ranger” will be included in an upcoming ebook I’m doing on the Western film genre. Email me to get in line for a prerelease copy!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Pre-Review of “The Lone Ranger”


The big (only?) Western movie for 2013 is "The Lone Ranger." I've seen the trailer. The movie doesn't look promising.

Johnny Depp in white face. Is this a gag? Depp is a terrible choice for Tonto for numerous reasons. One being that he's the most overcivilized, foppish, overmannered pretentiously egoistical actor in Hollywood. Be ready for a stereotypical offbeat portrayal.

The movie itself will be hyperpaced and filled with special effects. The Western on speed, combined with Five Hour Energy.

The ideas look to be hypocritical and simplistic. A Custer-style Army officer is the bad guy. Expanding Capitalism is no doubt eviscerated. This from a movie produced by monster conglomerate Disney, and certain to be promoted by multi-national media conglomerates, with a bankable big name (Depp) paid many millions, and starring as Ranger, Armie Hammer, scion of the billion-dollar Armand Hammer empire. The story appears to be a celebration of primitivism, of the natural Native American way, while the movie itself is created in as high-tech a manner as possible, from advanced lenses to complicated computer-image graphics; hundreds of technicians everyplace, not a primitivist in sight. Least of all Mr. Depp, who's already back in glitzy sophisticated France tinkering with his wineries, more millions in the bank.

The most cynical movie ever made?

We'll see if it's entertaining. The popcorn pop images will move so fast no one will notice the ideas.

(Watch for my upcoming ebook on the Western film genre.)

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Importance of "Dad"


(Excerpts from an essay I'm writing on the 1961 movie "One-Eyed Jacks," for a planned ebook on the Western film genre.)

Revenge is the driving force of "One-Eyed Jacks." Outlaw Marlon Brando is abandoned by his partner, Karl Malden, and is sent to prison, from which he eventually escapes. Malden, "Dad Longworth," has now become a respectable lawman in a prosperous California town.

The key character isn't Brando, but Malden, and his easy switcheroo to the other side of the fence.


This is a movie of levels-- a movie which can be approached on several levels.

On one level are the surface attributes which make it an outstanding Western. The revenge plot. The Big Sur scenery. Its breakthrough tough dialogue-- the first Western with realistic expletives. Superb performances from the supporting cast, notably Ben Johnson and Katy Jurado.

On another level there's Brando, star and director. America's greatest actor on what was surely an ego project.

On another, higher level though are the performances of Karl Malden and Pina Pellicer. This is a movie defined by its acting.

If Ben Johnson gives a nuanced performance, what can be said about Karl Malden? The facets shown are endless. It's as complex a performance as you'll find in American film. Ever shifting; human and chameleon. The facets of his personality are displayed through his relationship to Brando's Rio-- there's crackling intensity between the two of them. Malden's betrayal of his friend at the outset of the story scars both men.

Karl Malden is the "One-Eyed Jacks" of the title. He played the priest in "On the Waterfront" with utter sincerity and believability. Here, a switch has been flipped. When he stares at Brando with his malevolent blue eyes, we don't know what he's thinking or where he's going. On which side he'll come down, good or evil. We don't know whether he likes Brando or hates him, or both emotions at the same time. His unpredictability makes him scary.

Pina Pellicer's character also is revealed through her poignant interactions with Rio. The scenes are emotionally tough. One or two of them are heartrending. Pina Pellicer's performance is stunning. Intelligent; sensitive; indefinably beautiful. Pellicer is by no means classically beautiful yet at the same time, everything about her is beautiful. Starkly and hauntingly beautiful. Her naked humanity, perhaps.


The Western canvas can be a playground for many aesthetic happenings. A place to find art's "truth and beauty." Among these, the Western movie screen can be a kind of enormous stage for experiments in acting. In portraying theme and finding meaning through subtleties of acting.

Brando understood acting as few have. One wonders if he brought that understanding to his direction. Maybe he knew what he was doing when he took over the project. (From Stanley Kubrick, of all people.) The performances he draws from his two co-stars are as multidimensional as the film.


"One-Eyed Jacks" is overlong as "Hamlet" is overlong.

To overanalyze the film is to see in Brando's character parallels to Hamlet. The need to kill a father figure. The delay in attempting to do so. The Ophelia figure, who the hero abuses.

Which begs the question: How much did Marlon Brando as director know what he was doing?

Was Brando always smarter than he looked? Throughout his life, didn't he wear different guises, onstage and off?  "I am but mad north-by-northwest." "Hamlet" is the story of an actor.

Was Brando not playing Hamlet his entire career?


Feminists and academics should love this movie. In few others are men so universally portrayed as tricksters and predators. In this instance, crude white men who prey primarily on Mexican women. At the outset of the movie, the two leads are shown on an incursion into Mexico to rob banks. We have the themes of Imperialism and racism as well.

Despite the p.c. surface, there's a reason for feminists not to like this film.

The plot concerns a fight between domesticated and undomesticated men. On one side are the rogues. Outlaws. A quartet of them, including Brando's Rio and Ben Johnson, ride hard to rob a town's bank. The bank represents civilization's prosperity. It's also a metaphor for something else.

The gang agrees, before they begin the journey, that the bank would be easy to get into, except for one huge obstacle: "Dad."

The gang is wild, free, and undisciplined. Their alliance is one of convenience. They spend much of their time fighting among themselves. Rio's credo is that no one, not even his partners, has the right to know what he's doing, or restrict his behavior in any fashion.

When they arrive in town, Rio finds former ally and mentor Dad Longworth a changed man.

Dad has engaged in a trade-off. He's accepted the benefits of domesticity. In return, as Sheriff, he provides control and protection for the town. His wild, brutal past is an asset. He knows male behavior, and has the toughness necessary to control it. That he combines strength with intelligence allows him to dominate the town.

His shrewdness is shown in his making potential problem child Lon (Slim Pickens) his deputy. Lon's natural aggression is channeled. Dad playfully dominates the rest through the force of his personality.

The gang arrives when the town is on the verge of a festival. The festival, like all festivals since primitive times, celebrates prosperity, and more subtly, fertility. The town is productive and fertile because the presence of the strong man protects the women. He keeps the men in line.

This point is made explicit when Dad is momentarily indisposed. The town loses control. Respectable citizens like Howard are shown to be one step away from madness. The town is one step away from chaos.

The next morning Dad reasserts his authority over the town, in brutal fashion.

His problem with Rio/Brando goes deeper. During the night, Rio has gotten into a "bank" under Dad's personal protection: stepdaughter Pina Pellicer.

The obvious question raised is one that feminists wouldn't wish to confront: Is a patriarch necessary? In a brutal and chaotic world, could the town survive and prosper without him? Is the father figure-- "Dad"-- needed for the very existence of civilization?

(AN ASIDE: We're back at Pamela Paul's question: "Are Fathers Necessary?")

Given the social changes our own civilization is undergoing, the diminishing and destruction of the male authority figure, I'd say we're about to find out.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Men Behaving Badly Part I

A couple posts ago I discussed the National Book Critics Circle and their “Gender Counting.” With such a mindset, one can see why the masculinist ethos of the Underground Literary Alliance never had a chance in today’s ultra-p.c. lit world. We even dared put up front at one of our events two old bear ultra-macho underground legends, Wild Bill Blackolive and Jack Saunders. The Manhattan-Brooklyn latte crowd must’ve been spilling overpriced coffee all over themselves in panic and outrage. The ULA represented a far cry from what American literature has become: domesticated; dry; harmless; feminized. It’s so quiet, like a sewing circle, that hardly anyone in the larger society even knows it’s around. We’d sought to change that, but were effectively shut down.


On this same topic of Men Behaving Badly, I’ll be discussing a movie in which the male characters very much behave badly. It stars, as well as a coupla guys, the talented young actress I referred to in the previous post here: Pina Pellicer. Her performance, IMHO, sears the screen.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Who Is This?


This is an actress I consider to be the female James Dean. Like Dean, she was known for the vulnerability of her performances, and she died tragically young. She made only one American film, but it’s an overlooked masterpiece, in which she more than held her own against a couple of the best actors around. I’ll be discussing her in an upcoming post, along with the movie in question.

Monday, June 03, 2013

Out of Touch

Book review publications are failing across the board. Meanwhile, NBCC, a book review organization, is absorbed in gender counting. See:

NOT in figuring out how to make book reviews in particular, and the lit scene in general, more exciting. No. Instead: Gender Counting.

We have a collection of monothink people who all view literature the same narrowly constipated way, but within their slim ranks, they want to enforce rigid concepts of gender counting. Hmm. Not representation by class background. (Counting numbers of Ivy Leaguers might be an embarrassment!) Not diversity of viewpoint: populist versus “literary.” Gender counting. How will they enforce what they want? Can’t leave it up to individuals!

Women are in fact well-represented in most aspects of literature. They dominate many areas as it is: English Lit degrees; writing degrees; bookstore employees. God knows, with the feminization of the art, how they’ve avoided taking over book reviews—but I suspect that’s coming. They shouldn’t panic. Men are wildly underrepresented in colleges, and will soon be underrepresented among readers—if they aren’t now.

I notice New York Times Book Review Editor Pamela Paul is on the panel. She’s best known for her Atlantic essay, “Are Fathers Necessary?” which suggests as an answer: “No.” (She’s apparently never noticed the fate of young men raised in lower class areas without fathers. It’s not good.)

Likely the next item on Ms. Paul’s agenda, with full support from VIDA, NBCC, and other politically correct outfits, will be, “Are Men Necessary?” No use waiting for the answer. We know it.