Archive for December, 2010

Saddle up, it's going to be a good ride.

In baseball and softball practice, coaches often use a fungo bat to hit balls. The thin bat allows coaches to hit easily with accuracy.

In golf, players groove their swings at driving ranges. They can practice different stances, grips, swings and curse words.

And in movies, I feel like Joel and Ethan Coen have grooved their craft by making True Grit, a pretty terrific film that would be a masterpiece if done by just about anyone else, but given that it’s a Coen Brothers’ project, it feels a bit light. There’s nothing wrong with the film, it’s just I have great expectations with any Coen film.

Since 1984, the Coens have reliably delivered some of the freshest films in cinema. Blood Simple, Raising Arizona, Barton Fink, Fargo, The Big Lebowski, O Brother Where Art Thou, No Country For Old Men and on and on, the Coen world is one that made sitting in the dark enriching and memorable. Their gift for dialogue, their eye for casting, framing a shot, getting quirky but believable performances have distinguished their career.

True Grit has the Coen elements, worth the price of admission just to see the faces of the extras and supporting cast, and I’ve heard the dialogue is fairly representative of the book (which I need to read), but I wish the brothers had done an original story, a true Coen take on the west– not a remake of a great film.

I’m doing something here I hate, inflicting my will on the artists, but I have to say it: I have a Coen crush. I want their originality. Dance, monkeys, dance!

All right, I’ve exposed my prejudice, not let me discuss the film. See it. I don’t recall much about the original True Grit except that Kim Darby was great, John Wayne had the performance of a lifetime, and Glen Campbell was terrific.

The story is a feast. Mattie Ross, a 14-year old girl wants to avenge the murder of her father by an evil man, so she hires the meanest marshall bounty hunter she can find (Rooster Cogburn). But get a load of this: the evil man is also being hunted by a pompous Texas Ranger (LaBoeuf). The movie is their adventure of seeking justice in a harsh land.

In this version, newcomer Hailee Steinfeld plays Mattie and is wonderful. Jeff Bridges fills Rooster’s boots quite well as the drunken ornery man of justice at a price– whatever he can get in addition to reward. Matt Damon is great as the braggard LaBoeuf and Josh Brolin delivers the goods as the dad-killing evil Tom Chaney. Spice it up with some dastardly Lucky Ned Pepper (Barry Pepper), and you’ve got a fine stew of conflict.

Director of Photography, Roger Deakins, shoots it on a canvas of muted colors and dusty yellows. There’s nothing flashy here, just great story telling told with little infliction of style or point of view. And I guess that’s my overriding critique, I wish it were more Coen.

That said, I want to see it again. And again and again (we are talking Coen Brothers here).

To save on printing and postage to readers in Northern Mariana Islands, Angola, Ecuador, Latvia and 144 other places, The Lint Screen is proud to post the official holiday card of Ames Scullin O’Haire along with the 2010 Scullin family holiday card (the back panel was written by son, Jack– to quote Tim and Eric Awesome Show, “Great job!”).

Merry happy to you and yours from us and ours, and here’s to a terrific 2011!
And to all a good night…

Outside of card.


Inside of card.


Back of card.


Outside of personal card.


Inside of personal card.


Back of personal card.

In an exclusive interview, Marcia Toopluy, spokesperson for the upcoming Broadway musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, said the production is “not cursed” and that all the accidents associated with rehearsals were “simply freaky things that happen, like walking under a ladder and getting a mirror broken over your head and a black cat thrusting its claws into your face.”

Earlier this week, an actor fell 20-feet during rehearsals and was hospitalized. A multitude of accidents and production technical glitches have four times delayed the opening date of the $65 million show. To ensure its financial stability, when the show does open in early February, tickets will cost $350,000 for orchestra seats and $210,000 for balcony seats. Unsold tickets will be half-priced day of show at TKTS.

“But the production is not cursed,” said Ms. Toopluy, “we have great expectations it will be a major hit and a huge financial success.” She then mysteriously burst into flames. She shouted, “this interview is over.”

Look at the top selling non-fiction hardcover books: George W’s memoirs of why he did what he did, the autobiography of Mark Twain, Sarah Palin’s Palinographic view of the world, Glenn Beck’s ranting and a little something called Life by some guy named Keith Richards (and his pal, James Fox).

I just finished Life, and if you have a passing interest in sex, drugs, rock ‘n roll, music, celebrity, adventure, philosophy, history, travel or just cooking tips for bangers and mash, you’ll want to give these 500-plus pages a go.

Keith is half of the Glimmer Twins, Jagger/Richards, the songwriting backbone of the Rolling Stones. He’s also the guy who has more lives than a dozen cats. And sounded a lot better doing it.

It’s a fascinating read of how young white English lads long to be black American bluesmen and how clever management and masterful media manipulation catapults them to fame and fortune. There’s the inevitable bouts with sex, jealousy, cheating on friends, and addiction to drugs, and how all these things conspire to take a man and his band to the brink. Most deadly of all, however, it’s the tale of how egos blossom and explode, choking the friendships of the past and almost laying waste to all in its path.

It’s all there, in surprising digestible prose.

Of course, this is only Keith’s side of the story, with lots of corroborating witnesses, and it will be interesting to see if Mick Jagger has any published rebuttal. For even a casual fan of rock, you’ll love the ride and marvel at the intricacies of a musician’s mind. Much like Bob Dylan’s Chronicles: Volume 1, it’s fascinating and enlightening to see what sponges these musical geniuses are. How they expose themselves to all forms of music and artistic expression, then create their own voices from the stew of all they’ve absorbed.

I’ve always been a Stones fan, and have been fortunate enough to have seen them a half dozen times, from their glory days in the 70’s, the inflatable theatrics days of the 80’s and 90’s, all the way through the stripped down brilliance of the A Bigger Bang tour in the 21st century. Throughout it all, there’s always been Keith Richards laying down some of the most iconic rock riffs with cool ease and a cigarette dropping from his lips. While some guitarists work hard to show you how incredibly difficult it is to play, Keith simply plays with poetic, idle ease. Life gives you a terrific peek behind what makes him tick and how he keeps on ticking.

Read it.

Washington legislators tackle pesky deficit problem to ensure we remain the land of milk 'n honey!

In a unified bipartisan effort, lawmakers from both the Democratic and Republican Parties have rallied together and devised an innovative new plan to defeat the growing United States deficit problem.

Effective February 1, 2011, the Federal Deficit Reduction/Tax Cutting & Enhanced Entitlement Program goes into effect at a projected cost of $6.9 trillion. This program will employ 5.5 million Americans who will review ways to cut taxes for the wealthiest 1% of Americans while creating enhanced entitlement programs for the other 99%.

“It’s really pretty brilliant,” said a Republican legislator, “we’ll cut unemployment by hiring over five and a half million Americans and boost the economy by giving huge tax breaks to the wealthy that will trickle down to commoners. Then, we’ll give extended government entitlements. This will trigger hiring even more government employees to manage the paperwork. This means we’ll cut unemployment even more!”

“Our program should be called ‘having your cake and eating it, too!'” said a Democratic legislator who also was also involved with the creation of this new government body. “The best thing about the program is that no one has to sacrifice.”

The estimated cost of the new deficit reduction program will bring the U.S. government deficit to just over $20 trillion. Some legislators are grumbling about the program saying that we need to form a new governmental agency to look into ways of reducing the size of government.

Is this appropriate garb for funerals?

Relatives I don’t know are dropping like flies, but they wish to leave me their fortunes.

Should I show grief or good fortune? I’m not sure if I should wear black or a gold lamay suit. Perhaps I can find a nice black gold lamay suit.

Not a week after I was informed I’m in for a $36 million inheritance from the untimely passing of a relative I didn’t know, I find out another distant relative has croaked leaving me his fortune! The following message (reprinted exactly) came to my e-mail box:
Attention.

I am Mr Hussien Ahmed.An attorney at law in Kuala Lumpur,Malaysia. I am in an urgent need of your co-operation to re-profile the sum of $5.800,000.00 united state dollars to your name as the next of kin to a deceased client of mine whose last name you bear.

Upon the retrieval/receipt of this money in any of your designated bank account. We will share it on an agreed percentage.More details will be given to you once receive a positive response from you.

Kindly get back to me as soon as possible.

Regards,

Mr.Hussien Ahmed.

While I wish this relative had worked harder, let’s face it–– $5.8 million isn’t exactly $36 million, I will accept the money. Concerning this “agreed percentage” you wrote of, I suggest 100% for me, 0% for you. If my calculations are correct, that means you owe me $5.8 million united states dollars.

Mr. Hussien Ahmed, I thank you. I’ve forwarded all the personal financial information you requested– credit card numbers, bank account numbers, passwords, etc. Please let me know when the check’s in the mail and on its way.

Gold lamay suits ain’t cheap.