Tuesday, December 31, 2013


As it's New Year's Eve tonight, I thought a more in depth discussion of the club in "Tango & Cash" where Kiki dances would be warranted. I touched on it earlier, but it really is crying out for more thorough coverage. Ray Tango tells Gabe Cash to reach him through Kiki by going to the club, and what Cash finds upon arrival is remarkable. First of all, it's an enormous club. I'm not a dedicated clubber, but from my limited experience, I never have seen the like.

The place is really hopping, which I have see. Cash manages to wade through the crowd rapidly, failing to find anyone who knows Kiki. She enters the main room on her motorcycle, riding it up a ramp that leads past the main stage to the dressing rooms (!). Cash only finds out it's her afterwards, when he easily makes his way into said dressing room filled with topless women. They eye him, seemingly eager to jump his bones rather than to report him to the many police who are evidently aware that the sister of a wanted fugitive is at the club and might be contacted.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Hey, Mate!

In "Tango & Cash", the titular characters are sent to prison on a frame job, but in no time at all they are out again. While in the prison though, they manage to do a lot. They shower, they are nearly killed, they lob a lot of one liners at each other, and they receive cellmates. These cellmates fall on opposite ends of the spectrum, but each in his own way is meant to be very intimidating. I guess they're effective enough.

Kurt Russell's Gabe Cash finds himself sharing a cell with a mountain of a man who denies him access to the toilet. It's lucky that he is not in prison long enough to experience a bowel movement. I don't think they receive even one meal there. I'm not sure either that they are even there overnight. Time passes in a nebulous fashion there, but perhaps it does not pass fast enough for Cash, who we are made to understand is very afraid of his cellmate.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Fair Is Fair

If there's going to be any nudity in a movie, it's far more likely to be women than men. I think the statistics will bear me out on that as much as the perception. I mostly don't complain like maybe I should, being as eager for full equality as the next person, but I like to think I have some appreciation for the rare movie that makes any attempt to balance the scales. One of those is "Tango & Cash", at least a little bit. Fair is fair, you know?

The titular cops are framed for a murder and thrown into a brutal prison. One of the first things they do once there (and one of the only things they are in prison long enough to do) is take a shower. The pair of them walk into the shower room entirely naked, never stopping the barrage of wisecracks that constitute the vast majority of dialogue in the film. It was an eye-opening moment in the film, expecting as I did the first time an action movie that would only have female nudity.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Low Flunky

One of the slightly more obscure characters in "Tango & Cash" is Face, which is the only name given to (and the only name necessary for) the character played by Robert Z'Dar. Z'Dar's entire career has been based on his rather incredible visage. At the risk of sounding unkind, he is the only performer I can think of who would stand a fair chance of credibly portraying Rocky Dennis without makeup or other effects. You surely have seen him in something.

He doesn't have a ton of scenes. In the film's opening scene, which sets up Stallone's Ray Tango, he drives a gas tanker which turns out to be concealing loose cocaine where the gas should be. Tango captures him after foiling the plot. Even if that was where it ends for him, he would be very memorable. He just drives the truck and reacts to the actions of supercop Ray Tango, but he does it while having the aforementioned incredible lantern-shaped face.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Slop Cop

I like Gabe Cash, the messy slob to Ray Tango's fastidious money guy. An interesting point is that while Cash is a slob, he drives a sweet convertible. He also has the newspaper delivered, which I grant may be because he likes reading about himself. He likes to glance over his newspaper while taking bites of a messy burrito that he is holding with one hand. He's brash and quick with a one liner. Tango is too, but opposites can have some similarities.

It really seems like Kurt Russel should be Tango and Sylvester Stallone should be Cash. Maybe they thought that was too on the nose. It's true enough that Stallone is more obviously of Italian extraction, but then you don't need either of them to be Tango. If you don't want a too obvious name for Stallone, neither of them has to be Cash either, but then the movie works well with the names are they are, so why meddle with them? I can deal.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Investor Cop

Something interesting about Sylvester Stallone's character Ray Tango in "Tango & Cash" is the strait-laced personality he has. It seems that they were aiming for E.G. Marshall's character in "12 Angry Men": the rich, fastidious one. I guess Stallone was trying to play against type, to expand his range beyond the quiet tough guy roles he had played to that point. He doesn't look too bad in a nicely tailored suit and a pair of glasses, I'll grant him that.

He doesn't exactly pull off the role, though. I suppose he's not the absolute worst at it, but he's laboring against an awful lot in the process. In a lot of the movie, it seems as if they'd given up on the idea, and it's hard for him and Kurt Russell to gain any separation in personality from each other. It's just as well. They didn't need to play such opposites in order for there to be some nice tension between them, and there really is.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Sibling Riflery

It's Christmas today, of course, and a critical component is family togetherness. I'm always very fortunate to be with my family at this time of year, and so today is a happy day. I suspect Christmas is also a good time for Ray and Kiki Tango, two of the prominent characters in "Tango & Cash". Yes, I am continuing on with my series of posts on that film, and I'll take the faintest of excuses to do it. The tenuous connection that family offers is enough.

It's a curious relationship that Ray Tango has with Kiki. In their first scene together, she is itching to get away from LA. Ray, in a paternal way, is striving to keep her close. We know she's a dancer, I believe, but are meant to assume they are romantically involved or something. In retrospect, her playful returns of Ray's straight lines suggest a sibling dynamic. Save for the overbearing quality, it's banter that many siblings might like to have with each other.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Giver

It's the day before Christmas, so it would be logical to write about that, but you know very well that I'm in the middle of my series of indeterminate length on the subject of "Tango & Cash". If this helps tie it in, let me assure you that the film in question makes an excellent Christmas gift for anyone in your family (and don't kid yourself: kids have to learn about complicated narcotrafficker revenge schemes sometime). The point is, I'm talking about Tango & Cash.

Let's get to the character who most closely resembles Santa Claus, Owen. This requires that we jump ahead to after Tango and Cash escape the prison where they are sent to be killed by Perret's thugs. Owen is some kind of tech genius who works for the LAPD. He is something like Q from the James Bond film, except there's no logical reason to think either that he could be so well funded or that he could come up with the stuff he has all on his own.

Monday, December 23, 2013

A Good Sidekick

Like I said, the improbably-named main villain of "Tango & Cash" is Yves Perret, who is portrayed by Jack Palance. He has the two lieutenants I've described, and even though one of them is played by James Hong, they are not too interesting. Perret's other prominent underling however, is way better. He's the chief muscle, and is played by Brion James. You've probably seen him in movies like "Blade Runner" and "The Fifth Element", and he's great.

In Tango & Cash, he wasn't meant to have a big part, but it was further developed when Sylvester Stallone liked the Cockney accent he decided to use. In a gang that includes Asians, Latinos and white guys, why not throw in an inexplicable Brit? He's a British thug in a multiracial LA gang, and his name is Requin. In truth, it is not a very good accent, but the character is still a fun one, and like everyone in the movie, he gets some awfully fun lines. It just wouldn't be the same without him.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Female Lead

In "Tango & Cash", Gabe Cash is seemingly a loner. He alludes to divorces in his past, but is tied to no one at the movie's beginning. Ray Tango, while also apparently single, is not entirely alone in life. The movie sets up a surprise for later on by introducing Teri Hatcher as Katherine, but not saying who she is to Ray Tango. We find out down the line, and this is meant to be a big surprise when it comes. It is, I guess, but I don't know why it should be.

Teri Hatcher is best known, I suppose for being in "Desperate Housewives", and before that "Lois & Clark". She was good in "Tomorrow Never Dies", in my recollection, and she had one of the more memorable female guest appearances in the entire run of Seinfeld. Being the female lead in Tango & Cash is not something that comes up much, but after having become a fan of the film, it's about the first thing I think of for her.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Bad Presentation

Yesterday I wrote of Yves Perret, the improbably-named villain of "Tango & Cash". There's a lot to him beyond his fatal flaw of micro-managing. He seems rather eccentric. At one point, he is explaining his plan to his two lieutenants. The plan is to get the two supercops into prison and then kill them once there is no risk of them dying as martyrs and bringing more heat down on the criminal enterprise. Whatever the plan's faults are, incredible complexity isn't really one of them.

Sure, maybe it's a little more complicated than it needs to be, but you understood when I described it above, right? You don't need some kind of visual aid. Perret thinks maybe you would, or rather that his lieutenants will. Instead of just laying it out for them, he goes to the trouble of setting up a maze with mice in it to illustrate that Tango and Cash will be like rats in a cage. It's an amazingly sophisticated one, seemingly meant for high level academic studies.

Friday, December 20, 2013

A Prime Villain

In "Tango & Cash", the villain is Yves Perret, as portrayed by Jack Palance. He is a very successful drug dealer, overseeing two lieutenants. He seems to control the whole city underworld, but the two titular cops remain thorns in his side. The film's plot revolves around Perret's plan to deal with them. While one could certainly second-guess his strategy, tactics and execution, Perret is a very satisfying villain thanks to Palance's disregard for subtlety as an actor.

In the opening scene, we see Stallone's Ray Tango successfully intercept a tanker truck full of cocaine. It's full of loose cocaine. At the conclusion of the scene, the driver and his counterpart are arrested and the cocaine is seized by police. Driving by in a limo to survey the scene are Perret and his lieutenants. They discuss their quandary, taking care to reference the yet-to-appear Gabe Cash. It's a curious scene, I think.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

On "Tango & Cash"

A few days ago, I had a string of posts about "Friday The 13th Part 5". There were not as many of them as there were for "Friday The 13th Part 4", but then I guess I didn't have as much to say about the former. I don't know if it wasn't bad enough to arouse my ire or what. Maybe it wasn't promising enough to be worth it. In any case, there's another movie that I know fairly well and which has lots in it that I could write about.

It's "Tango & Cash", which I've mentioned in passing a few times, but which I don't know if I've explored in depth. It warrants it. To give a brief synopsis, Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell are two celebrated LA cops who clash with Jack Palance's evil drug lord. Stallone is a clean-cut, fastidious stock-trading, suit-wearing cop. Russell is a crude, blue collar, free-wheeling type. Somehow Stallone is Tango and Russell is Cash.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Two Incidents

You see some odd things riding public transportation. The more of them you see, the less remarkable they seem, but some things still move the needle. Those are some really unfortunate things, and I try to be careful who I bring them up to, because they're generally rare and hearing of them could turn people off taking public transportation. I don't mind mentioning them here, since I figure there's minimal risk of my moribund readership taking public transportation in the first place.

A couple of interesting things have happened in the last couple of days. On Sunday, I was coming home from a comedy theater. I'd gotten to hear a joke of mine in a show, and I'd attended a Christmas party. The night was capped off by a crazy guy sprawl out next to me on the floor of the subway station platform, incessantly flailing around and screaming until the next train finally came. I was glad he and I were not going the same way.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Ties That Bind A Movie

In "Friday The 13th Part Five", there are a lot of superfluous characters, as I said before. That figures. If you want fifteen murders in a movie, you have to have fifteen murderable characters. Most of them won't have a good reason for being in the story. A good example of that in my mind is the pair of hillbillies who live next door to the halfway house. There is also the handyman who shows up, and since he's filthy and earthy, we can lump him in.

They're a puzzling group. I suppose they- the mother and son- are a source of some levity. I don't think there's a time where they're not silly, and I think that's mainly deliberate. I think. I'm really not entirely sure on that. The handyman is not funny. He starts out straight and finishes just creepy. The mother and son have a disturbingly familiar and insular relationship, but they do have a lighter side in a way. I don't think they help the movie any.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Too Many Victims

For the past couple of days, I've been writing about "Friday The 13th Part 5". They had got to the point where each sequel had to be peppered with more and more murders of a more inventive nature. I'm not especially against violence in movies. I'm more against its use as a substitute for a real story. The best slasher movies are the ones that bothered to make any death mean something, and the only way to do that is good, old-fashioned character development.

Part 5 does that a little bit. Tommy Jarvis is a badly damaged young man as a resulted of his previous clash with Jason. He retains only vestiges of his former self, such as his enduring interest in scary masks. Reggie, the grandson of the cook at the halfway facility (or whatever it is you call the place) is not so bad. He gets a few scenes with his grandfather and his brother. Neither Tommy nor Reggie is really that interesting to me in spite of those character details. After that you mainly have broad types who are just grist for the mill.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

More On "Friday The 13th Part 5"

As I said yesterday, I watched "Friday The 13th Part 5" recently (among other entries in the series). Although I am fond of them all, very few of them (if any) are incredibly strong. They all have egregious flaws, but I love them anyway. I can see both sides of them. It depends on my mood. There are horror films where it doesn't matter what mood I'm in. Those are just good movies. With this one, I have to be in the right mood to love it.

One of the things that's sort of funny about it is the movie that some of the halfway house residents (if that's what they are) are watching nearer the end of the movie. I'm not sure of what movie it was, but it was a very old movie. This is now the mid 80s, and yet they are watching this old black and white movie. That in itself is not so crazy. I watch movies like that all the time. I pretty much always have. I'm just not like these kids in the movie.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

On "Friday The 13th Part Five"

One of the digital sub-channels was showing Friday The 13th movies to mark the date yesterday. You may remember my string of posts about Part Four. I don't how whether I'm liable to duplicate that here, but I will say that most of the movies in the series are ripe for it. One of the ones they showed yesterday was Part Five, which is about as bad as any in the bunch. Somehow, it was always on television in my adolescence.

It ought to be no spoiler when I say that it's reviled partly for the decision to have the villain be some guy we've never seen before pose as Jason. The movie plays out as a half-assed mystery, with the killer concealed from sight more than any film since the original, when it was Jason's mother and there was no expectation that it wouldn't be. In a way, it's not a terrible thing that they went that way. It might as well have been a bad movie because they tried something different.

Friday, December 13, 2013

An Arrogant Idea

I was thinking yesterday about what levels of intelligence I like and dislike. I really like people who are as smart as I am. They are good people to know. They make good contributions, and they appreciate my good contributions. I am wary of people who are smarter than I am. They will call me on my bad contributions, and make enough good ones that there will be no opportunity for me to do so. That's as far as I go with that end of the spectrum.

As for people who fall below me in intelligence, I don't like any of them too much, but it takes some thought to decide which I like the least. It doesn't take very much, but it does take some. I think I like the stupidest people better. It strikes me that they are the least likely to be in any position to do a lot of harm. They are like swimmers too weak to get out where they might drown. I guess that's maybe not an apt comparison, but I'll never claim to be the absolute smartest.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

On "Prancer"

There are just a few movies that I remember very well from childhood, or at least that stick out. At the time, they invariably seemed like good movies. There was the scifi saga "Time Trackers", which in retrospect I find it hard to believe was actually in theaters. There was "Joe Vs The Volcano, there was "The Secret Garden", and there was "Prancer". There were more, but my mind is presently on that last one.

I should describe the plot a bit. There is a little girl whose mother has recently died. Her father, a poor apple farmer, is a hard, distant man. He fears failing to provide for the family, and entertains the idea of sending his daughter to live with another relative. At this time, an injured reindeer appears and the girl presumes it to be Prancer, one of Santa's reindeer. The film revolves around her efforts to restore Prancer to health while also restoring the Christmas spirit in those around her.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Inane Weather Chatter

It has recently been a bit cold in Los Angeles, and so other cities more accustomed to consistently cold weather are vigorously ridiculing Angelenos for overreacting. It's a curious thing to do. Would a penguin be within his rights to ridicule a camel for feeling cold just because the penguin's threshold is so different? It's no concern of mine how people handle the weather where they are. In any event, it is a bit cold (getting down into the 30s overnight), and I don't mind owning up to being cold enough to need a heavy jacket.

I do enjoy the cold weather, affording me as it does the chance to wear some of those jackets and coats. I'm of the opinion that I look pretty good in them, which I hope can't be taken to mean that I have such a hideous form that it is best hidden under a pile of clothing. from my light jacket to my heavy peacoat, I just happen to fill out an outer garment fairly well. If there's an exception, it might be sweatshirts and the like. They are a bit baggy for my taste.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


Yesterday there were one or two incidents of a sort that are not so common for me, and with which I do find myself at a loss. Both concerned travel, in a way. The main one, given that it directly involved me (rather than me being an observer), occurred as I rode a bus on the way to an audition. I was fearful of low energy (and the somewhat tight pants I'd chosen to wear), so I resolved to stand rather than sit no matter what seating was available.

There's no really convenient place to stand on a bus, but there is a tiny bit of space near the rear door of your typical bus. The key thing is that you get yourself out of the way when people need to exit the bus. I like to think I do a fair job of that. One man did not. He shouted out something like "Hey, Mr. Headphones- come on!" I was Mr Headphones, I guess, and I wonder if he thought I couldn't hear or see him. Indeed I could do both.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Yet To Learn

There are constant reminders that I am not as bullet-proof at the age of thirty as I was at the age of twenty. Rest assured, I'm still perfectly young and make not claims to the contrary, but I nonetheless am not as impervious to harm or as quick to recover from it as I maybe once was. A good example of that is when I'm drinking. I don't think I'm any more or less quickly affected by it- which is to say that I reach a point of intoxication just when I ever did- but the hangover is something else.

It seems as if it was not so long ago that I could drink heavily in the evening and be fully recovered the next day. That is not so anymore, and if I've addressed this before, then that can surely be chalked up to the effects of the same thing. These days, I am plagued with queasiness and headaches for the whole next day, and sometimes it seems to take more time than that. It's a really terrible feeling, and I could do without it.

Sunday, December 8, 2013


Yesterday I alluded to a Yule log video. I'll address that today. In the days after Thanksgiving, I started getting into the Christmas spirit. You may well wonder why I wasn't there in early November. I guess I'm not one of those types. I'm there now, anyway. I listen to Christmas music whenever it is reasonable, and I also do enjoy a good Yule log fire. I can't have a fire here at my place, regrettably, but there is Youtube.

The other day I decided I wanted to watch a Yule log video for the first time this Christmas season. I looked around a bit online, and went with the first one that looked very good from the thumbnail. It was a little under an hour long, which I figured was plenty long enough. I set up some seasonal tunes to go with it, and we were off to the races. It was a fairly standard fire in a plain-looking fireplace. I don't know if they get flashier than that, but I wouldn't want that anyway.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

It's A Date

I was going to write something about watching a yule log video, but it occurred to me that today is Pearl Harbor Day. Coming on the heels of Nelson Mandela's death, I wonder if it will be much remembered, except by the likes of me. I find it easy enough to remember. FDR's speech after the tragedy is very memorable in itself, and as it starts with the date of the event, seeing that it is December 7th never fails to remind me.

I can hardly imagine what it was like to be there, or merely to be alive and bear any kind of witness to the event and its aftermath. America, I guess, had little interest in getting involved before it happened. Afterwards, what choice did we have? Some say that our political leadership let it happen, wanting as they did to get us into the fight that had already been raging overseas. It does seem curious that our most valuable ships should have been out of the harbor, but then what point there is in dredging up that debate, I don't know.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Unwanted Ride

Something that will undoubtedly cast me in a negative light is my belief that I am sometimes, in accepting a ride home from a friend, doing them a favor rather than receiving one from them. Of course, I always appreciate the kindness and generosity shown to me by others, although I am all too often remiss in my responsibility of showing them how I appreciate it. I like to think that I turn out a thank you here and there.

I do get a bit embarrassed about being done favors by others. I really would just as soon manage things by myself whenever it is practical. I make a point of not asking for a ride unless it is extremely necessary or so easy for the person to give that it is as if they are not doing anything out of the ordinary at all. It is otherwise not at all worth the impact on my relationship with that person, or the entry in my mental ledger of "favors owed". There are many such entries.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Christmas Music

It's the Christmas season, we must at last admit to ourselves. One of the critical aspects of Christmas is, of course, the music. We now have a lot of options for how we consume it (or, indeed, if we do). Friends of mine are breaking out their vinyl records of Christmas music. Others of us are streaming music online. There may even be those who are buying CD's, since I think they are still making those. Maybe those people are buying mp3s.

My favorite way to hear Christmas music is the traditional way, or at least what is the traditional way to me. I listen on the radio. Each year at this time, a town's soft rock radio stations switch formats to non-stop Christmas music. In this way I get all the conventional songs, sometimes sung by the likes of Bing Crosby and so forth, other times being sung by more recent artists like Mariah Carey or Michael Buble. It suits me well enough.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


My best days are probably the ones where I never end up getting on the social networking websites. Focusing on my own affairs has the effect of leading to real productivity and also that of filtering out all the awful stuff that is on those websites. Sadly, such days are all too few and far between, as my level of discipline is lackluster at best. Most days I have those sites open on my computer all day, and I reach an apoplectic state numerous times.

There are countless ways in which I am angered. The most incident is a common thing with me. Someone who I like in general was wringing his hands over the list of the most popular articles at the New York Daily News. Most of them concerned the death of actor Paul Walker, and all of them were very yellow journalism. Given that the newspaper in question is a tabloid, I was unsurprised and unbothered. He was very bothered, as were others.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Many Ways

It is interesting what motivates me to get out of bed to begin my day. Sometimes it is just that I cannot sleep anymore. That would be a natural waking that signifies that I have actually gotten a proper night's rest. I guess it doesn't happen that much, but it has. It's not very exciting. It's about as exciting as filling up at the gas station, which is interesting only in that it presents an opportunity to look cool and nonchalant for a few minutes.

It is exciting and powerfully motivating to wake up because you really have to. This obviously happens often enough, and is the only reason I ever get up early. The fact that I am easily able to get up out of necessity suggests that I could get up early as a rule (except that it would then conflict with my desire to stay up very late). The very most exciting incidences of getting up out of necessity are when I wake up a bit late and must immediately dress and leave the house. That is stimulating.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Shane In The Membrane

The internet, I will not send you into conniptions by saying, is a curious thing. What's very interesting to me, among other things, is what happens to those who are granted prominence online by the collective attention of the internet's users. There are a lot of different things that can happen to you. Take the case of Noah, a little boy who feared ridicule for having to wear glasses. He must be living at least a few years before I was born, because glasses are now so prevalent that it's hard to imagine someone thinking that.

In any case, Noah's mother turned to the internet to console him (which is not good parenting if you ask me). She formed a group seeking to have people assure the boy that it would be all right for him to wear glasses. They evidently did so, and she needed to do no more than a little quick e-marketing. Noah was lucky. It seems to me that the internet could just as easily have cruelly cyber-bullied him into an even worse state.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

This Close

A few days ago I was all stimulated by my first Greyhound bus ride in a little while, and jotted down a number of incidents from it that seemed worth writing about. I think I got to one of them before others ideas took precedence, but the ride back to LA from Phoenix gave me at least one idea (and there are no ideas crowding it out right now). It connects to something unfortunate that had happened on the preceding trip.

When the "meal stop" had come in the town of Blythe, California, I assumed we'd be stopping where the buses always had, where there were several options to eat. It doesn't stop there anymore, but rather someone a bit distant from many decent eating options. There's the gas station where they stop, and then there's a Burger King across the street and down a block or so. It's always crowded, and the stop is only for 25 minutes, so I passed.