Viewers and readers who can’t remember the Cold War will find it difficult to identify with that troubled yet exciting time. Without getting all misty-eyed with nostalgia, it must be admitted that the lingering USA-UK-USSR contretemps was the cauldron that produced some exceptionally exciting books and fantastically entertaining movies. Alas, by the time of glasnost and perestroika, the espionage novels and movies based upon them were deemed to be as stale as month-old piroshki. When the Soviet Union finally collapsed of its own weight, the international espionage writers had moved on, leaving those damn commies behind and focusing on new villains who speak Arabic or Farsi . . .
Sometimes the wheels of justice grind slowly and sometimes they race around in circles like they’re competing for the Porsche Cup. In the Ferguson case, the latter seems to be the way it’s going. “Big Mike” Brown was shot and killed on August 9th. Jury selection started on the same day in every kitchen in America. The guy’s not even in the ground yet but the race to official judgment goes on, making haste rapidly . . .
No matter how it sounds, the new Purge movie is not an infomercial for a high-fiber cleansing diet – although you may feel an urgent need to detoxify after you’ve seen it. The Purge: Anarchy, or Purge 2 if you will, is the second movie in this “franchise.” Both are based on a motif lifted directly from a Star Trek episode called Return of the Archons, which made its TV debut in 1967. Hollywood is sooo creative, dontcha think? In the dystopian near future (2023) of Purge 2, the US is controlled by rich white people. See, I told you that Hollywood is creative. Anyway, here’s what passes for a plot . . .
Call it Gorillas in the Mist – With Machine Guns! Yes, from the giant Xerox copier known as Hollywood comes Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, the latest installment in the interminable Planet of the Apes franchise. Franchise. That’s a strange term for a line of movies, but it actually makes sense when analogizing movies to fast food. Fast food franchisees keep churning out those thin, greasy, gray, mystery meat patties with the wilted lettuce, skinny slices of tomato and pickle and that savory “special sauce” made of plastic. Hollywood keeps churning out its cinematic equivalent. Except this cheesy quarter pounder of a movie cost $170 million bananas and not a dime of it went into the script . . .
It takes time to get the bugs out of a new product. This is true in the world of guns, cars, computer software, and any complicated consumer or industrial product. Hop into the TARDIS with me and I’ll illustrate my point. In 1983, I bought a BMW 318i. It was a brand new model in its first production year (nominally 1984, but they released the cars early). Mine was number 54 in the production run and probably arrived on the first boat from Bremen, which should have been enough of a warning . . .
The .50 Beowulf is a proprietary cartridge designed by Bill Alexander, the chef de la maison of the eponymous Alexander Arms. As a big, powerful but slow, short- to medium-distance round that’s about the size of a cocktail weenie, the .50 Beowulf is reputedly versatile enough to do the business on elk, grizzly, bison, hogzillas and your brother-in-law’s big block Chevy . . .
Hoplophobes are afraid of guns as if firearms had a mind of their own. Hoplophobes are ignorant and we’d like to teach them, but they (mostly) do not want to learn. They are happy in their ignorance. They are only dangerous because they vote . . .
The Zimmerman trial wasn’t a game or a sporting event, but there were definite winners and losers nonetheless. As JFK said after the Bay of Pigs fiasco, “Victory has a thousand fathers but defeat is an orphan.” Well, maybe not this time . . .
Schlockmeister extraordinaire Roland Emmerich has gone and done it again. In White House Down, Emmerich blows up Washington, D.C., for the second time in his directing career. This time, though, he uses an explosive device that’s considerably less of a bomb than this clichéd muddle of a movie . . .
The prosecution had us all wondering which side it was on until Tuesday, when we finally detected that they were putting on a case. At the close of business Monday, Detective Chris Serino stated that he believed Zimmerman was telling the truth when he gave his recorded statements to Sanford Five-O. Tuesday started with a sustained prosecution objection to that answer, which was stricken from the record and magically excised from the hearts and minds of the jurors . . .
The parade of defense witnesses continued today. Which was bizarre, since they were all called by the prosecution. Zimmerman himself got to testify without being sworn in. That was a huge plus for the defense. In most cases, jurors want to hear the defendant’s side directly from the source. They just did . . .
It was a dark and stormy night.
So started “Paul Clifford,” perhaps the worst successful novel of all time. And so started the events February 26, 2012, when George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin met, one life ended and the other will never be the same. Like the predictable silliness of the 18th Century novel, the trial of George Zimmerman started to a stupid joke, but the plot has improved since then, as have the performance of the defense lawyers . . .