Sippican Cottage

Search
Close this search box.

Paris, Texas, The Movie. Sorta (2011)



[Editor’s Note: We live in the butt end of nowhere, so we have to buy everything “mail order” as they used to call it. We have an Amazon Prime account. Prime gives you free two-day shipping, and allows you to watch a crummy selection of movies and TV for nada. We almost never use the TV function. Out of curiosity, I turned it on yesterday after a long interregnum, and under “Most Watched Movies,” there was Flyboys. I guess I can safely ignore Amazon Prime movies for another three years.]

My son and I watched a movie last night. I hardly ever watch movies, so I thought I’d multi-task and review this one: Flyboys.

It features a guy that looks vaguely like that other guy that was The Joker in the Batman movie –no, not that Batman movie, the other one. No, not that the other one. The other, other one. Anyway, he died –no, not this guy, he didn’t die, the other, other Joker guy died.  At any rate, our hero was a jolly rancher for a while in Texas, but for some reason the Depression showed up early, like twenty years early, and he lost the farm and took to hanging around in a movie theater like Lee Harvey Oswald, until the sheriff comes in and tells him he better join the French air force or go to jail for punching Mr. Potter at the bank for foreclosing on his ranch.

So he goes to France to smoke Newports and fly Nieuports, and I suppose World War One isn’t interesting enough, so the scriptwriter gives him a new best pilot friend, who he doesn’t like much but is still his best friend, and the guy has a pet lion instead of a dog, and they are, like, pilots and guys and depressed together about stuff, because eighth-grade girls and movie producers think being self-absorbed makes you interesting.

Then someone decided the movie needed Jack Johnson, the boxer, in it, only his name is different, I think — I don’t know; I was too busy wondering if guys like the guy that looks vaguely like the actor that played the Joker would have highlights dyed into his hair in 1917 in the Lafayette Escadrille, so I didn’t have time to get up to speed and wonder why this movie needed a poor man’s Jack Johnson in the Lafayette Escadrille. I guess French people and guys that keep lions aren’t exotic enough.

Anyway, the Jack Johnson-ish dude shoots a German dude right straight down in the top of his head using only an airplane and CGI, and that’s hard, and thereby saves a rich, overweight dude with Daddy Warbucks issues who previously didn’t care for the black dude because he’s black and all, but now he does you betcha. So the fat guy buys the black guy a drink, only he doesn’t buy it, he offers him some ritzy booze he stole from his father like Ferris Bueller would, and the fat guy says to Jack Johnson, my rich father is rich, how about yours?  And even though the black guy is noble enough for five movies already if you ask me, the movie doubles down and makes his father a slave, even though it’s 1917 and slavery was outlawed in 1865, and that seems like a long time between jobs if you ask me, but who’s counting in this movie.

Then the Hindenburg was bombing the Eiffel Tower for some reason, and the guy with the lion gets all shot up and whatnot while defending the spire, and decides he’s turning Japanese (I really think so) and becomes a kamikaze pilot and crashes into and blows up the Hindenburg. So instead of dropping bombs on Paris, the flaming Hindenburg falls on top of Paris full of flaming bombs, which doesn’t really sound like an improvement if you’re a Parisian, but that happens out of the frame so he’s still a hero if you ask me.

Then yet another guy who is a brave guy acts like a coward a lot, because we all know brave guys are all cowardly in real life, and that guy hangs out a bit with still another guy, a guy that reads the Bible all the time, so you know he’s a weirdo and not a regular person in 1917 in America. We all know everyone normal was reading Chomsky not the Bible back then no matter what Ted Nugent says.

Still another guy, who is wanted in Wisconsin for armed robbery with a toy pistol (to pay the bookie in The Sting, I think) lands his plane in the No-Mans Land between the trenches, which is hard to do indeed, but his hand is caught and he can’t run away, which normally would seem easier than landing a plane in No-Man’s Land. Just his hand is caught, mind you, nothing else, and he looks like OJ trying on a glove when he’s trying to pull his hand out, not like a normal person would look under shelling and machine gun fire. So the brave guy — not the guy with the lion, he’s dead; and not the brave guy that’s a coward all over the place — so the brave guy with the highlights and the ranch near Dealey Plaza who doesn’t have it anymore, manages to land his plane in No-Man’s Land like it was a Home Depot parking lot and not No Man’s Land, and he parks it next to the guy trying on OJ’s glove, and immediately chops the guy’s hand off with a shovel he borrows from a dead French dude who was lying around handy equipped with a shovel, even though the airplane wing is just made of canvas and a little pine. I guess it’s just easier to chop the guy’s hand off, don’t ask me. So now this guy can only be a one-armed armed robber, not a regular armed robber, and he gets a hook instead of a hand, like in Peter Pan, and the hook improves his flying I guess, because he sucked before but thereafter he’s swell at it.

Later the guy with the hook and the cowardly brave guy get together and save the regular brave guy, for a while, anyway — at least until the regular brave guy can meet up with the villain, who is contractually required to be a German guy who sneers a lot and waves like a crossing guard while he kills all sorts of guys and leaves orphan lions all over the landscape willy-nilly like a really bad guy would. The brave guy would no doubt have triumphed over Snidely von Richtofen, but at the moment of truth his machine guns don’t work because a bullet hits them and they bust open like a pinata and spill the wrong kind of bullets for that kind of gun all over the place like Jolly Ranchers, and then the brave guy…

No, not the brave guy with the lion; he’s dead, I told you! I was referring to the guy with the highlights in his hair, who’s now stepdad to a fatherless lion. Anyhoo, he’s been stealing planes to go see a French woman from time to time, even though at first he thinks the French woman is a prostitute — which I gather is normal for any American sizing up French women for the first time — but she’s just the cleaning lady at the cathouse (which strikes me as a much less desirable job than being a prostitute, but maybe that’s just me) where the first guy that originally owned the lion liked to hang around and act like Vince Vaughn would at a French cathouse, but Vince isn’t even in this movie, which is a shame because he couldn’t have done any worse, really.

Anyway, the brave guy that steals airplanes goes to save this one French girl that isn’t a prostitute, because she’s hiding from the Germans in her attic quietly like Helen Keller…

… now they’ve got me doing it. Like Anne Frank, not Helen Keller. Anyway, at first he flies the stolen plane at night for a while, then he flies it at night with the motor turned off for another good long while, and then he lands it like a ninja next door to Anne Frank’s house. The Germans don’t notice, even though they’re in her living room drinkin’ wine spo-dee-o-dee; but after a while they decide to notice, and the dastards shoot Anne Frank in the shoulder. But just so you know, I’m swapping back to calling her Helen Keller right now because she gets a Mauser bullet through the chest and doesn’t utter a peep, I shit you not.

Anyway, our hero with the frosted hair saves her and gets a medal for stealing the plane, which seems a bit odd, and later he steals a motorcycle instead of the plane for a change of pace, and he goes to another place all bombed out and full of Germans, which is a habitual thing with him at this point, and he finds her again and they decide to meet in Paris, but later — or at least the part of Paris that survived having a flaming Hindenburg dropped on it —  because she’s going to England with some kids that aren’t his, or even hers, now that I think about it, and he can’t go right away because he’s got a lion to take care of.

Where was I? Oh, yes. The brave guy with the highlights and the second-hand lion is saved for a while by the cowardly lion and Captain Hook…

(Dammit, I mean the cowardly brave guy, not the cowardly lion; the lion seems legit, if strung out on barbiturates a little bit; and I don’t think Captain Hook is a captain, really, prolly just a corporal or a lieutenant or something, or whatever the French word for lieutenant is, I don’t know)

.. but the brave guy gets all shot up by the Red Baron, who inexplicably seems to be the only German not flying a red Fokker triplane in this movie, but that’s got to be him, as he’s so evil. But anywho, this German guy shoots more bullets into our hero than a carnival attraction with ducks for some reason, and then stops shooting him for some other reason, shits and giggles I expect, and then Rolf or Heinz or Manfred or whatever his name is just pulls up next to our beauty parlor hero like a guy at a red light in American Graffiti, just to wave and smirk. Then the shot-up brave guy — the guy with the used lion and the only French girl that’s more interested in housecleaning than prostitution —  why, he pulls out a revolver of all things and shoots that German Snidely Whiplash right through the eye, which is pretty good shooting indeed, considering he’s all shot to pieces and flying a biplane that’s all shot to pieces that was made by French people in the first place.

Then the producers evidently ran out of money or unexposed film or something, and they hastily explained over the closing credits that the Jack Johnson guy gets a job at the Post Office, and the rancher with the highlights never meets the girl in Paris, but he gets his ranch in Texas back, only it’s another ranch, not the one I told you about already, but the new one is way better so never fear.

I guess it’s not his fault the stupid French chick, the one that’s not a prostitute, didn’t know he meant Paris, Texas.

The End.

Chicks Dig Guys With Skills. You Know, Like Nunchuck Skills; Bowstaff Skills; Computer Hacking Skills; Pinstriping Skills…



They’re building Royal Enfield motorcycles:
 

That’s a very cool bike. The company was founded in England in the 1850s; they originally made sewing needles. Then came boneshakers, springs for seats for “safety bicycles,” and then bicycles themselves. Then rifle parts –that’s where the “Enfield” moniker came from, and their slogan for all their stuff: Made like a gun. Then came motorcycle precursors: tricycles and quadricycles with small engines. They tried making cars around the turn of the twentieth century. They looked like lightly armored personnel carriers and had eight-horsepower engines, not considered enough to mow your lawn while sitting down nowadays. They got over that urge and started making true motorcycles, and sold a bunch to the army for World War I. They had a neato one with a stretcher sidecar.

The company was a pioneer in using the saddle tank (a fuel tank that sits atop and straddles the frame) which you see the fellow in the video striping so ably. In the late forties, the company opened up a shop in Madras, India, to supply motorcycles to the Indian army.  At first they just assembled parts sent from England; they eventually made the whole thing themselves. They made one design, unchanged, for thirty straight years. England gave up manufacturing pretty much anything in the second half of the twentieth century, and started importing the bikes from India.

Hand skills like that fellow in the video displays are always show-stoppers in any manufactory.

An Irish Airman Foresees His Death

I know that I shall meet my fate
Somewhere among the clouds above;
Those that I fight I do not hate,
Those that I guard I do not love;
My country is Kiltartan Cross,
My countrymen Kiltartan’s poor,
No likely end could bring them loss
Or leave them happier than before.
Nor law, nor duty bade me fight,
Nor public men, nor cheering crowds,
A lonely impulse of delight
Drove to this tumult in the clouds;
I balanced all, brought all to mind,
The years to come seemed waste of breath,
A waste of breath the years behind
In balance with this life, this death.

William Butler Yeats

Paris, Texas, The Movie. Sorta

My son and I watched a movie last night. I hardly ever watch movies, so I thought I’d multi-task and review this one. Flyboys.

A guy that looks vaguely like that other guy that was The Joker in the Batman movie –no, not that Batman movie, the other one. No, not that “the other one.” The other, other one. Anyway, he died –no, not this guy, he didn’t die, the other, Joker guy, died — at any rate, our hero was a jolly rancher for a while in Texas, but for some reason the Depression showed up early, like twenty years early, and he lost the farm and took to hanging around in a movie theater like Lee Harvey Oswald, and the sheriff comes in and tells him to join the French air force or go to jail for punching Mr. Potter at the bank.

So he goes to France to smoke Newports and fly Nieuports, and I suppose World War One isn’t interesting enough, so his new best friend, who he doesn’t like much, has a pet lion instead of a dog, and they are, like, pilots and guys and depressed together about stuff. Then someone decided the movie needed Jack Johnson, the boxer, in it, only his name is different, I think — I don’t know; I was still wondering if guys like the guy that looks vaguely like the Joker actor would have highlights dyed into his hair in 1917 in the Lafayette Escadrille — so I didn’t get to wonder why they needed a poor man’s Jack Johnson in the Lafayette Escadrille. I guess French people and guys that keep lions aren’t exotic enough.

Anyway, the Jack Johnson-ish dude shoots a German dude right straight down in the top of his head using only an airplane and CGI, and that’s hard, and thereby saves a rich, overweight dude with Daddy Warbucks issues who previously didn’t care for the black dude because he’s black and all, but now he does you betcha. So the fat guy buys the black guy a drink, only he doesn’t buy it, he stole the booze from his father like Ferris Bueller would, and the fat guy says my father is rich, how about yours?  And even though the black guy is noble enough already for five movies if you ask me,  they double down and make his father a slave even though it’s 1917 and slavery was outlawed in 1865 and that seems like a long time between jobs, but who’s counting in this movie.

Then the Hindenburg was bombing the Eiffel Tower and the guy with the lion gets all shot up and whatnot defending it, and decides to become a kamikaze pilot and blows up the Hindenburg, and instead of bombing Paris I guess it sets Paris on fire when it crashes full of flaming bombs instead of just dropping them, but that happens out of the frame so he’s still a hero if you ask me.

Then yet another guy who is a brave guy acts like a coward a lot, because we all know brave guys are all cowardly in real life, and that guy hangs out a bit with another guy that reads the Bible all the time so you know he’s a weirdo and not a regular person in 1917 in America — everyone was reading Chomsky back then no matter what Ted Nugent says.

Then yet another guy, who is wanted in Wisconsin for armed robbery with a toy pistol (to pay the bookie in The Sting, I think) lands his plane in No-Mans Land between the trenches, which is hard to do indeed, but his hand is caught and he can’t run away, which normally would seem easier than landing a plane in No-Man’s Land. Just his hand is caught, mind you, and he looks like OJ trying on a glove when he’s trying to pull his hand out, not like a normal person would under shelling and machine gun fire; so the brave guy — not the guy with the lion, he’s dead; and not the brave guy that’s a coward all over the place — the brave guy with the highlights and the ranch near Dealey Plaza who doesn’t have it anymore. Anyhow, he lands his plane in No-Man’s Land between the trenches and parks it next to the guy trying on OJ’s glove and chops the guy’s hand off with a shovel he borrows from a dead French dude who was lying around handy, even though the airplane wing is just made of canvas and a little pine. I guess it’s just easier to chop the guy’s hand off; don’t ask me. So now that guy can only be a one-armed armed robber, not a regular armed robber with a toy gun, and he gets a hook instead, like in Peter Pan, and that improves his flying because he sucked before.

Later the guy with the hook and the cowardly brave guy save the regular brave guy, for a while, anyway; at least until he can find the German guy who sneers and waves a lot and kills guys and leaves orphan lions all over the landscape willy-nilly like a really bad guy would. This happens when the brave guy’s machine guns don’t work because a bullet hit them and they busted open like a pinata and spilled the wrong kind of bullets for that kind of gun all over the place like Jolly Ranchers, and then the brave guy…

No, not the brave guy with the lion; he’s dead, I told you! The guy with the highlights who’s now stepdad to a fatherless lion; the one that’s been stealing planes to go see a French woman all the time, and at first thinks the French woman is a prostitute — which I gather is normal for Americans sizing up French women for the first time — but she’s just the cleaning lady or something at the cathouse (which strikes me as a much less desirable job than being a prostitute, but maybe that’s just me) where the first guy that had the lion liked to hang around and act like Vince Vaughn would at a French cathouse, but he’s not even in this movie which is a shame because he couldn’t have done any worse, really.

Anyway, the brave guy that steals airplanes goes to save the one French girl that isn’t a prostitute because she’s hiding from the Germans in her attic quietly like Helen Keller…

… now they’ve got me doing it. Like Anne Frank, not Helen Keller. Anyway, at first he flies the stolen plane at night for a while, and then he flies it at night with the motor turned off for a good long while, and then lands it like a ninja next door to Anne Frank’s house and the Germans don’t notice, even though they’re in her living room drinkin’ wine spo-dee-o-dee; but after a while they decide to notice and shoot Anne Frank in the shoulder. But just so you know, I’m swapping back to calling her Helen Keller right now because she gets a Mauser bullet through the chest and says nothing, I shit you not.

Anyway, he saves her and gets a medal, not a hook or anything, for stealing the plane; and later he steals a motorcycle instead of the plane for once, and goes to another place all bombed out and full of Germans and finds her again and they decide to meet in Paris later — or at least the part of Paris that survived having a flaming Hindenburg dropped on it —  because she’s going to England with some kids that aren’t his, or even hers, now that I think about it, and he’s got a lion to take care of.

So the brave guy with the highlights and the second-hand lion is saved for a while by the cowardly lion and Captain Hook…

(Dammit, I mean the cowardly brave guy, not the cowardly lion; the lion seems legit, if strung out on barbiturates a little bit; and I don’t think Captain Hook is a captain, really, prolly just a corporal or a lieutenant or something, or whatever the French word for lieutenant is, I don’t know)

.. but he gets all shot up by the Red Baron, who inexplicably seems to be the only German not flying a red Fokker triplane in this movie, but that’s got to be him, he’s so evil; but anywho, this German guy shoots more bullets into our hero than a carnival attraction with ducks for some reason, and then stops shooting him for some other reason, shits and giggles I expect, and then Rolf or Heinz or Manfred or whatever his name is just pulls up next to our beauty parlor hero like a guy at a red light in American Graffiti, just to wave and smirk. Then the shot-up  brave guy — the guy with the used lion and the only French girl that’s more interested in housecleaning than prostitution —  why, he pulls out a revolver of all things and shoots that German Snidely Whiplash right through the eye, which is pretty good shooting indeed, considering he’s all shot to pieces and flying a biplane that’s all shot to pieces that was made by French people in the first place.

Then they ran out of money or interest or film or something, and explained over the credits that the Jack Johnson guy gets a job at the Post Office, and the rancher with the highlights never meets the girl in Paris, but he gets his ranch in Texas back, only it’s another ranch, not that one, but it’s way better so never fear.

I guess it’s not his fault the stupid French chick, the one that’s not a prostitute, didn’t know he meant Paris, Texas.

The End.

Abandoned Greenhouse

I went to my next door neighbor’s funeral yesterday.

I never met her. She was living next door when we moved here this year. But then again, she was living next door since she was born in 1915.

My house was only 14 years old when she was born. I would pay a small ransom to know what it was like then. I’m skilled at forensic carpentry and painting, and have found all sorts of clues about what this house was like when it was built, but there’s only so much you can figure out by poking around a house that’s been whaled on by numerous inhabitants and their handymen accomplices for better than a century.

It’s an interesting thing, to put yourself as best you can in another’s place. I try it often when I write, with variable success. Put yourself in my neighbor’s place for a moment. 1915.

I might tell my children that I used to drive a car with quite a bit of sheet metal visible on the dash, and only an AM radio to listen to, to give them some perspective. In 1915? The stop sign was invented.

I’m so old, I can tell my kids that when I was their age, GI Joe didn’t have a kung-fu grip. In 1915 the Raggedy Ann doll was patented.

I was too young, but my older brother got to see Ted Williams play just before Ted retired. In 1915 Babe Ruth hit a home run. His first, actually.

My dad took me to see Lawrence of Arabia in the movie theater when I was young. Not the first time it came out — when it was restored and re-released. In 1915 Lawrence was wandering the Levant and Sykes and Picot came to their agreement. 

If he’d have hurried over, Booker T. Washington could have made it to my neighbor’s christening before he passed away. He probably would have preferred to go see some fellows lay the cornerstone of the Lincoln Memorial instead. Maine’s chilly in November.

After she was born in 1915, my neighbor moved into the house next door, which has a little sign on the gable end that says: 1806. I’m told the house used to be across the street from mine, and they rolled it across the street on logs to the spot it’s on now. 

She ran a greenhouse, just across my driveway, long since abandoned. Its former denizens, just ephemeral posies for quotidian holidays, have mostly long since succumbed to exposure to the elements; but some have spilled over the low, crumbling walls to seed themselves all around their former home. It’s as fitting an epitaph as one could hope for.

Tag: 1910s

Find Stuff:

Archives