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Archive for August, 2010

Suh-real

Ndamukong Suh tried to sack the quarterback in the Browns game last week, just as he had so often in college.   Here he is with an Oklahoma RB, for instance.  This play usually ended with Suh contemptuously throwing the tackled player to the ground, especially if he was a quarterback.

The signature move doesn’t go over so well in the pros.  Suh tried it against Jake Delhomme of the Cleveland Browns, but he made one teeny mistake:

Yes, he grabbed Delhomme’s facemask, which is a no-no in any league.   He then finished by throwing Delhomme to the ground.   The refs didn’t like any of this, and flagged him with unnecessary roughness.    So the Lions lost fifteen yards.   Ouch.   Delhomme said later he hadn’t minded–it’s all in the game and QBs expect to get sacked once in a while.

Just so you know he knows how to do it right, here is Suh and his buddies making a fine legal tackle:

QBs are very expensive in the pros, and their owners and fans don’t like seeing them thrown around.   Sam Bradford, for example, the Oklahoma QB who was the first pick in the draft now plays for the St. Louis Rams.  He has been promised 67 million dollars over five years.   I hope he lives to enjoy it.

One sportswriter said that Suh needs to be careful so he doesn’t get a rep as a dirty player.  I agree that the facemask is a dirty move, and I only saw Suh do it once before, during a rainy night game against Mizzou, where he might have slipped on the muddy surface.  He received a penalty for that one, too.   But Suh doesn’t need to facemask to bring players down.  I hope he does not forego his signature move in his quest to become one of the best defensive tackles ever to play in the NFL.   One of his signature sacks on Brett Favre might deter the latter from not-retiring evermore.

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Yesterday I watched two versions of the same western–“3:10 to Yuma”–back to back.   I love doing this sort of thing because one can learn a lot about how cultural preferences and taboos change over time.   To give a small example:  in the 1957 version the anti-hero sleeps with a barmaid, but this is only suggested;  we see them emerging from a back room, fully clothed and smiling.   In the 2007 version, we are shown a different  aftermath of the encounter, where the anti-hero sketches a nude portrait of the barmaid as she lies in bed.

The plot is simple, even by Western terms.   A very bad man named Ben Wade is captured in a small town after robbing the stage.   The good guys must get him to Contention City, where he can be put on the train for Yuma territorial prison.   A strapped rancher named Dan Evans volunteers to accompany Wade to Yuma in return for the $200 being offered by the Pinkertons.   The drama lies in the relationship that develops between the two men as they wait for the train.  Their dialogue is strained, but it is clear by the end of both films that they have come to admire one another;   certainly both are better men than the cringing, greedy townspeople.

Both films are more or less faithful to the Elmore Leonard story from which they were adapted.   In fact, some scenes and dialogue are repeated verbatim in both films, as when the anti-hero tells the hero, who is anxiously gripping a pocketwatch:  “You can’t speed up time by squeezing a watch.”

In a daring departure from his ordinary role as everyman, the 1957 version cast Glenn Ford as Wade.   Ford obviously has a good time in the role, making bad jokes and sneering (in a nice way) at middle-class morality.   The rancher is played by Van Heflin, another everyman who often played the put-upon rancher or failed conman in ‘fifties movies.   His staid persona serves him well here;   he radiates rectitude.  Here are the ordinarily affable Glenn Ford as a Bad Guy in the earlier version of “3:10 to Yuma” and Van Heflin as the long-suffering hero:

The recent version cast Russell Crowe in the role of Ben Wade.  Crowe is a formidable actor by anyone’s lights, and he brings it all in this role, adding subtle touches–like Wade’s habit of sketching birds and beautiful women–to the role.  And to be fair, the director gives him plenty of room that was not allowed to Ford.  The ‘fifties version skipped the actual ride to Contention in order to focus on the tense waiting scene in the hotel, but the director of the contemporary version (Nick Mangold) lingers over the two-day ordeal of actually getting Wade to the hotel.   During the trip, Wade kills one man with a fork he stole from the Evans’ dinner table, and throws an old bounty hunter (played by Peter Fonda) over a cliff.    And Crowe’s performance is enhanced by Christian Bale’s underplaying the role of Dan Evans.

I’ve never much liked Christian Bale as an actor–he was boring even in the role of John Connor in the most recent “Terminator” film.   He doesn’t really become interesting in “Yuma” until the last few scenes where he takes leave of the son who has followed them to Contention and as he walks/runs Wade to the train station through a hail of bullets.

But now that I have seen both films at least twice, the best part of both, for me, is the role of Charlie Prince, Wade’s sidekick.   In the older version Prince is played by Richard Jaeckel, a character actor who made some seventy films over his career.

Jaeckel plays Prince as a rambunctious kid, a mischief-maker who doesn’t seem to understand what a badass his boss is.   In the contemporary version, however, Ben Foster creates a far darker character.  Foster’s Charlie Prince is a sadist who teeters along the edge of sanity;   he is also clearly  in love with Ben Wade, who does not return the favor.

Most critics like the 1957 version better.  True, it has a cleaner plot-line, and its impact does not depend so much on spectacular scenery and effects as does the more contemporary version.   The tense scene in the hotel room, as Wade and Evans wait for the train to arrive, is beautifully played.   But all this drama seems sort of wasted when the inevitable ‘fifties happy ending arrives:   both men make it safely to the train, and as they ride past Evans’ wife, smiling and waving to them from a waiting buggy, it begins to rain.   Thus the ranch, and the day, are saved.

Needless to say, none of this happens in the contemporary version, where the ending seems truer to the characters that have been developed and that makes a true hero of Dan Evans.   And Wade’s horse has a great bit role here.

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OMG, DYC OD

Well Doc, as you know having just been here, it’s the season of yellow flowers.  It was you who told me about the acronym for damned yellow composites, fraternizing as you were with a botanist at the time.

Seeing as how I’ve been so lacking in verbiage for this blog that I forgot my user name and had to look it up, I’m going for a (mostly) non-verbal offering today.  Forthwith:  DYC’s!

This is some kind of hymenoxys, possibly Axehead Groundsel, in case one wonders.

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Coneflower and Ragleaf

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Two views of another flower named by a guy – Hairy False Goldenaster

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Threadleaf Groundsel having a very good season, and Rabbitbrush (I think)

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One of my favorites – Golden Crownbeard, otherwise known by less dramatic sorts as Cowpen Daisy

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I have no idea what this little one is called.  It carpets the ground in places, as you can see.

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And how can a dyc compendium not include the empress of dyc’s?

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But I think my very favorite is Showy Goldeneye.  This picture doesn’t do it justice.

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Gratuitous dog picture alert.  Don’t know what these flowers are called either.  (The dog is named Cindy)

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It’s not just the yellow flowers having a wonderful summer up here.  The other colors are doing great as well.  Maybe I’ll load up the ol’ blog with some of them tomorrow.  And then there are these fellows.  They were as big as bread loafs.  Anyone seen Alice?

(So, uh, hey, I hope the Lions did well today)

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Goan Horn

White Guy and I are leaving the Northland this morning and heading back to the Valley of the Morlocks.   I’m still feeling the effects of altitude, so we can’t stay as long as I had hoped.

Many thanks to Trep for her hospitality.   It’s nice to know that our lengthy friendship is still so solid that we can spend a couple of weeks cheek-by-jowl and continue to enjoy one another’s company.   I never cease to marvel at how witty she is and how snarky she can be when the mood is right.  We laughed a lot this past two weeks.   Ordinarily both of us live hermit-y existences, by choice.   I won’t speak  for Trep, but I learned long ago that intimate relationships, where people step all over one another’s space (even though they may not mean to, unless they are men) are not  for me.

I’ll have some reflections on the Northland in a future post.  In the meantime, in other news:    Detroit won its game against Denver Saturday night!    Not bad for a team that won only one game last year.   As my friend Loren said when he heard I had begun to follow the Lions:   “Well, you have nowhere to go but up!”

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Over at his place, Michael Berube has helpfully given us an account of the conservative bill of rights (michaelberube.com).    Here is the conservative first amendment, according to Berube:

First Amendment.  Congress shall make no law prohibiting the free exercise of the Christian religion; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.  All but the first of the foregoing clauses may be refudiated in times of dire Emergency.  Most importantly, the right of conservatives to speak without being criticized for their views shall be respected at all times.

Berube seems to be referencing Laura Schlessinger’s snit over the outrage engendered by her now-notorious racist diatribe of a few days ago, but his version of the FA applies with equal force to most conservative pundits.   These folks can dish it out but they sure can’t take it.

In their pearl-clutching over Schlessinger’s repeated use of the “N-word,” the media overlooked the real racism of her rant, in which she supposed that she knows how black people feel and how they think.   Worse, she assumed that she is authorized to tell them what they ought to think and do.   If  that isn’t an overseer mentality, I don’t know what is.

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Well, we didn’t get to see the Lions-Steelers game, which I gather was a score fest for the latter, even with Big Ben on the bench (Oregon’s Dennis Dixon looked good late in the game so maybe Ben will behave himself from now on.  We can only hope).

We went to a very nice (and quiet) restaurant that featured two large teevees over the bar.    I told the bartender that we would eat and drink there if he would let us watch the Lions (I was fearful that the bar was committed to the Cardinals, who were on a competing channel).   His face lit up and he said:   “you bet!   I’m from Detroit!”   He was surprised to find Lions fans (even Janey-come-latelys like me) in the boonies of the Far West.   I told him Detroit had gained fans from an entire state with their hire of Ndamakong Suh.

Turns out the bar has Dish network, which does not carry all the pre-season games.   So this morning I hied myself off to ESPN to see what happened.  Suh did not sack anyone.   According to ESPN he was double-teamed, allowing the ends (Vanden Bosch and Avril) to wreak some havoc.    Wish I could have seen how he handled that.

In other news, Trep kindly took me to see a doc yesterday because I have been feeling, well, shitty, ever since I got here.   Turns out I’m suffering from altitude intolerance (not sickness, which the doc tells me is very serious).   He prescribed four litres of water a day and lots of sleep.   (Those prescriptions seem contradictory, to say the least, given the state of my working parts).   Seems this affliction often affects people who have lived in high altitudes previously and return, as I have done, and may last as long as two weeks.

Trep had a better idea.   She presribed Osha, a drug whose root is “oxygen-generating.”    I brewed a tea of that and I feel much better today.

Gotta go–we’re off to have breakfast with Cranesbill, Trep’s parental unit.

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Suh in Blue

I want to watch Detroit’s game against the Steelers tomorrow night, so Trep and I have been studying websites from the local bars in order to discern which ones have (a) a big TV and (b) a relatively un-raucous crowd so we can hear.  It feels a bit weird to have become a Lions’ fan, which I’ve apparently done because of Nadamakong Suh.  But I have lots of company insofar as the entire state of Nebraska has also become Lions’ fans.   At least until the start of the college football season.

It’s also a bit wierd to see Suh signing autographs wearing a blue uniform.   But here he is:

According to the Lions’ website, he will play tomorrow.   I don’t suppose he will play more than a quarter or two, but I’m happy nonetheless that he will is playing with Nebraska veterans Kyle Vandenbosch and Dominic Raiola.

Here’s Vanden Bosch from when  he was with the Titans.

And here’s Raiola in a Lions’ uni:

I wouldn’t want to meet any of these guys on either side of the ball.

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