Ride, Boldly Ride, to the End of the Rainbow

Not one of the best starts to the week. In fact, this is one of those mornings when you feel like telling all Creation in its wonder and splendor to go screw itself with a piece of lawn furniture. Overslept, rushed, unprepared. Making it to work on time was the only triumph. Fortunately Friday was a short class, so I could let those lessons absorb today. But I think the students know that this wasn’t me at my optimum, and that smarts. They start to lose respect for you when they think you’re only using half your posterior.

But, as with everything else, this I’ll get over. Because really, yesterday was pretty good:

The first John Wayne movie I ever saw, and still my favorite. AMC ran it yesterday morning, so I watched it while I folded diapers and Nora napped. I’ve seen Rio Bravo, and while there’s nothing wrong with it, El Dorado is an infintely better picture. For one thing, the elongated first act lets the characters breathe a little before they’re rushed into battle. For another, the cast is just better. Robert Mitchum’s drunk is drunker, meaner, and manlier than Dean Martin’s whiny Borrachon. James Caan’s snotty kid who’s quick with a knife but can’t shoot (“I hit the sign, and the sign hit him”) mops the floor with whatever the hell Ricky Nelson was doing. And just I’m gonna say it: Bull is funnier than Stumpy. Stumpy’s funny because of that Walter Brennan squeak; you’re constantly expecting him to start jabbering about his piles. Bull is just as nuts, but he’s actually useful in a fight, and the one-liners are better (“That way, if I get shot, you can bring back the food”).

The poem “El Dorado” that Mississipi (Caan) quotes is a good one, too. One of Poe’s shorter and less portentously treacly works.

Interestingly, Howard Hawks directed both pictures (and a third Sherrif-holeld-up-in-a-jailhouse film, Rio Lobo), and the screenwriter for both was Leigh Brackett, who also wrote The Big Sleep, Robert Altman’s satirized version of The Long Goodbye, and believe it or not, The Empire Strikes Back.


Behold, the Instagram Hypocrite. A few months ago I quoted Lileks authoritatively, as I often do, to damn Instagram from the loftiest heights. Something about manufactured nostalgia and all of that. But for some reason Saturday found me loading the app onto my iPad and snapping a few pictures.

Now, I’m old enough to have pictures of me taken in the 1970’s, and these pictures don’t look like that. I don’t know if casual-retro is really what Instagram’s about (kids born in the 1990’s don’t really have any particular feeling about the 70’s anyway). What I think people like about Instagram is it’s ability to wash the color of life up or down as we choose. Blues, yellows, and reds can be toned down or up, to hone in on the reality of the something we’ve captured. It makes what would otherwise be one picture among thousands a Precious Moment, already fading away.

Besides, as the sophomores in advisory tell me, the real reason the kids are on Instagram is because their parents are on Facebook. So if we really want to kill this trend, parents, I think we know what we need to do.


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