Archive for the ‘Disney’ Category
At Mos Eisley Radio these guys not only talk news concerning the most recent Star Wars Game X-Wing Miniatures, which I am crazy about, but a lot more. Have a listen to them for in-depth looks at classes, guilds, lore, and everything else fans care about in the galaxy far, far away. But related to this article, they go into great detail about the strength of ships and strategy of the game for those who are prompted to get more involved by the conclusion of this article. Have a listen while reading the below text!
While it’s true that many of the people I know are locked into the very real and immediate danger of a real-life rebellion, which is covered at this site extensively, the way I endure the stress of such a thing is to fill my life with interesting hobbies, that also help build up my strategic ability. I share some of those hobbies from time to time in hopes that others might become inspired and do the same for themselves, not by copying my suggestions so much as in finding something that works for them to give themselves a break so to endure the rigors of life just a bit more efficiently. I have shared glowingly my love of the strategy game Pirates, the Constructible Strategy game by Wiz Kids. My family has spent many hours buying, building, and playing that game till the very small hours of the morning. I can remember one very fun Holiday week after Christmas where my kids and I with a small army of other kids bought every single pack of WizKids pirate ships on a cold December afternoon at Cincinnati Sci Fi in West Chester, Ohio. The delighted store clerk even brought out a new shipment of those ships which had just arrived that was in the back while we were in the store, of which we bought every single one. So needless to say, we love those types of role-playing games as a family, and as individuals.
Recently while on vacation in Florida my nephews along with my kids, my wife and I played a very cool Dungeons and Dragons type of role-playing game called Heroscape over pizza from the best place in Central Florida till the late hours of night with the condo door open to the ocean outside. We had turned our large dinning room table into a war zone and found ourselves intensely engaged in mortal combat with dragons and warriors. Like the referred to pirate game, I enjoy those types of games that allow you to play with several live players around a dinner table. It is a great way to bond with other family members and actually speak to each other, while exercising the brain. I find those types of games to be stimulating in a similar way to reading a novel, or playing a great video game. The difference is that you have to work with other people in a way that is only possible with this type of strategic gaming. For many years these role-playing strategy games have increased in popularity from a sub-culture of Dungeon and Dragon players, to what is now considered mainstream geekdom at major conventions all over the country. The transition came officially from the popular game, Magic the Gathering. The gaming industry in that market has never been the same, which is wonderful for the human race. A short history of this type of gaming can be seen at the link below.
However, for me, I always loved that Pirate game from Wiz Kids the best of any that I have played in the last twenty years. My entire family was deeply into it and our playing time together represent some of the most fun we’ve had together, which is quite a statement. So I have missed it as Wiz Kids stopped making the game in the format we enjoyed, and time and distance has moved us away from the contents. However, I recently received news from Lucasfilm about their latest version of a Star Wars Role Playing game by Fantasy Flight Games which I thought at first would be gimmicky, but upon investigation quickly found that it was a quite in-depth game that actually combined the type of game play that I enjoyed so much in Pirates, the Constructible Strategy game by Wiz Kids and the Heroscape. The new game is called Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game.
Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game is a tactical ship-to-ship combat game in which players take control of powerful Rebel X-wings and nimble Imperial TIE fighters, facing them against each other in fast-paced space combat. Featuring stunningly detailed and painted miniatures, the X-Wing Miniatures Game recreates exciting Star Wars space combat throughout its several included scenarios.
Whatever the chosen vessel, the rules of X-Wing facilitate fast and visceral gameplay that puts you in the middle of Star Wars fiercest firefights. Each ship type has its own unique piloting dial, which is used to secretly select a speed and maneuver each turn. After planning maneuvers, each ship’s dial is revealed and executed (starting with the lowest skilled pilot). So whether you rush headlong toward your enemy showering his forward deflectors in laser fire, or dance away from him as you attempt to acquire a targeting lock, you’ll be in total control throughout all the tense dogfighting action.
Star Wars: X-Wing features (three) unique missions and each has its own set of victory conditions and special rules; with such a broad selection of missions, only clever and versatile pilots employing a range of tactics will emerge victorious. What’s more, no mission will ever play the same way twice, thanks to a range of customization options, varied maneuvers, and possible combat outcomes. Damage, for example, is determined through dice and applied in the form of a shuffled Damage Deck. For some hits your fighter sustains, you’ll draw a card that assigns a special handicap. Was your targeting computer damaged, affecting your ability to acquire a lock on the enemy? Perhaps an ill-timed weapon malfunction will limit your offensive capabilities. Or worse yet, your pilot could be injured, compromising his ability to focus on the life-and-death struggle in which he is engaged…
The Star Wars: X-Wing starter set includes everything you need to begin your battles, such as scenarios, cards, and fully assembled and painted ships. What’s more, Star Wars: X-Wing’s quick-to-learn ruleset establishes the foundation for a system that can be expanded with your favorite ships and characters from the Star Wars universe.
More can be learned at these links:
The hook for me was when I saw the game’s version of The Millennium Falcon which is for me one of my favorite fictional symbols in film history of rebellion. CLICK HERE FOR MORE. I remember vividly when I toured the Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C. to see the actual model of the Falcon in a traveling display that was set up there. I traveled to Washington that weekend just to see the Falcon. I spent nearly two hours looking at it, photographing it and memorizing every pipe, dent, and burn mark on a ship I had watched so many times in the feature films. It was for me one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen in my life. When I saw the level of detail that Fantasy Flight Games had poured into the Millennium Falcon game piece for the X-Wing Miniatures role-playing game it called to my mind memory of that original model in sheer detail and I instantly fell in love. I immediately bought a starter set of the X-Wing game and launched my family onto a new generation of game play that is sure to engulf for many years. In the game players can fly the legendary Millennium Falcon into fast-paced battles for the fate of the galaxy! The Millennium Falcon™ Expansion Pack for the X-Wing™ Miniatures Game allows players to blast through hyperspace with Han, Chewie, Lando, and more. The Millennium Falcon comes with four pilot cards, thirteen upgrades, and all requisite tokens. New rules expand the X-Wing galaxy to include large ships and modifications. With its pilots, upgrades, and lovingly detailed miniature, the Millennium Falcon Expansion Pack is a beautiful addition to the X-Wing game! It may be the coolest thing I have seen in years regarding this kind of thing. It is a marvel to look at and unbelievable to have as a game play option. I consider it stunning.
If the Millennium Falcon didn’t close the deal for me on the new X-Wing game the promise of the next ship did. It doesn’t come out until the end of August, but when it does, I will buy it immediately. It is the HWK-290 designed by Corellian Engineering Corporation to resemble a bird in flight, the “hawk” series excels in its role as a personal transport. The HWK-290 Expansion Pack comes with one detailed miniature at 1/270 scale, a maneuver dial, all necessary tokens, six upgrades, and four pilots, including the renowned Kyle Katarn. Each HWK-290 provides a wide range of support options for your squad and can be outfitted with both a turret weapon and crew member. The reason this ship is significant for me is because it was the featured spacecraft of the main character in the video game Dark Forces. It never appeared in a Star Wars film, but was the home craft of the video game character Kyle Katarn, who would later become a Jedi Master in the novels years later. One of the very first video games that my oldest daughter ever played was Dark Forces. It was a first person shooter that came out in 1995. My daughter was only 6 years old at the time and helped me play it by pressing the space bar on the key board when I told her to which caused my character to jump. She was too young for the complex shooting and strategy it took to win the game, but she knew how to hit the space bar when I told her to and it was that game that launched her into a lifelong love of video games. She and I will always share that unique father/daughter experience, and I will always think of her when I think of the HWK-290. I was dazzled to learn that Fantasy Flight Games was actually inserting that ship into the game mythology before other types of ships, which let me know that the game designers were very serious about expanding the Star Wars experience of role-playing gaming in a format that hasn’t seen such a level of attention since our beloved Pirate Constructible Strategy Game.
Now that I’m going to be playing, it won’t take long before other members of my family will also and soon we will be ordering LaRosas pizza late at night and lining up 2-liters of Coke along our kitchen counter playing Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game well into the night. It doesn’t matter that everyone playing will be well over 20 years old and in my case their 40s. I still get a thrill about purchasing new strategic game pieces that can be used under battlefield conditions that have infinite possibilities. I do not feel this kind of passion for other types of games. The reason is that the role-playing games allow for complete independent freedom of strategy, unlike board games where the path is set and random chance puts players often into a position to win the game. With games like X-Wing Miniatures all the conditions of battle are set and designed by the player, and that is why I love these experiences so intensely. For me the game is only part of the fun. I enjoy often reading the stats of the cards and infinitely considering various strategies before hand. The game only proves a theory good or bad.
I have played these games with people who are really good. They are very quick with their mind and spend a lot more time playing the games than I ever will. It is fun to watch these kinds of players at tournaments and conventions. I will never put the kind of time into these games that they do, but I admire their efforts. Too many adults in our modern age believe falsely that games are for kids and that such things should be put away as adulthood consumes our lives. Games are not for kids, they are for minds. Games like the Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game feeds the mind with more than entertainment, it provides mental exercises that are invaluable to real life. I can’t say how many times I have been locked in epic political struggles and other situations where I resorted on the practices used in these strategy games to apply some skill I tried and won with in theory, against real opponents in real scenarios.
So as I sometimes take breaks from the rebellions of the real world to embark on these flights of fantasy, even in my leisure, strategy is an important part of my life. It is far safer to make errors in judgment among friends and family over pizza and Coca Coke than when it really counts in real life. And with that said, I am ecstatic to see this new Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game available at what might only be termed, an essentially important period in my life. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect and I am so glad that the good people at Lucasfilm put the short playing clip of the example with Wil Wheaten and Seth Green up so I could see the Millennium Falcon playing piece for the first time and become enticed enough to investigate further. That investigation will yield tremendous benefits that can only be found when adults play the games of young people and further develop their minds against the antagonists who have lost such abilities to their own detriment. Sometimes being good at strategy isn’t about being better at the game itself, but is due to working against un-armed opponents. Those who don’t play these kinds of games find their minds unable to think strategically enough to compete when it really matters, and every time a new game like Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game comes out, I am deeply thankful for the opportunity to feed my mind with the contents that have benefits which extend beyond convention. When a vacation is needed, it’s not just the body that needs rest, the mind does also. But the mind enjoys stimulation, not stagnation, and often a game like this can provide the crucial ingredient that the mind seeks with abundance in all the best scenarios.
To get the gist of what I’m talking about read this review from Boardgamegeek.com. It reveals why this game is so much better than most other games, and why it will become one of the most enduring games of its type in this generation.
Harrowing dogfights, family drama, shootouts, a tender moment, amazing monsters, humor.
There’s a tempo to Star Wars. We all remember Luke screaming NOOOOOOO at Vader. For different reasons, we remember Anakin turned Vader screaming NOOOOOO. But we also remember Leia offering a little cracker to an ewok. We remember first seeing Darth Maul’s double lightsaber. And we remember Han saying “I know.”
It is NOT all pew-pew-pew. It is NOT all Vrusssshhhhhhhzwwwmzwwwmmm. It’s a cycle of teasing action and drama.
Even though the X-Wing Minis game plays out some incredible dogfight sequences, the play of the game is NOT a straight forward flow.
I’ve got dozens of rounds under my belt now, and I’ve been wanting to write a review, and it finally came to me what it is that makes this game such rip roaring fun.
It’s not the astoundingly detailed minis. And anyone complaining about scale needs to take a close look at the movies, where the scale of the ships to each other changes from shot to shot due to the compositing techniques used at the time.
The minis are awesome. I’m somewhat surprised that different ships use different plastics, but I understand why. That denser stuff used on the X-Wing would collapse a Falcon into itself.
The prepaint jobs are incredible. The cards gorgeous, the components just off the scale. Even with the bit more they must pay in royalties to Uncle George, the massive appeal of this game allows them to make a ton of copies and the price, while at first glance seems daunting, isn’t a lot for what you get.
What makes the game work is the pendulum swing. The rhythm.
First, the setup. The agonizing squad building. Is it worth 2 points to raise this pilot’s skill, not knowing what the enemy force contains? It could easily be two points that have ZERO effect on the game. Terribly tough gambles. Now that wave 2 is out and you could just as easily face a hulking mothership like a decked out Slave I or a swarm of the world’s most annoying TIE fighters, you really have to prepare for a wide contingency of opponents.
This setup is tense. You want flexible. But strong. Synergistic support between squad members, but not so much that the loss of a key ship means defeat. And you ALWAYS want about 3 more points for that perfect build. No matter how many points you choose to fight, you will kill for another 3.
So it’s got that whole squad building aspect down great. Especially now that there’s a ton of options. Who knows what your opponent will bring?
But the flow of a turn is brilliant.
Everybody chooses their maneuvers. No downtime. But here in the game is where you are playing cat and mouse. Maybe psychologically toying with the opponent, making them think your plan is A when it is actually B.
Hidden agendas and secret moves. That’s the next game that plays out after the squad building math.
Then the wonderful move system. Everyone slowly reveals their moves, in what might be the games most questioned rule. The lowest skilled dudes go first, and eventually the better skilled dudes, which mean they have a fairly good chance of accidentally hitting and losing their action, where the lower skill guy might pull it off.
But it works in the long run, because it keeps higher skills in tailing positions.
Bit in this phase of the game, again, very, very little downtime, as the nefarious plans and maneuvers are revealed.
Squeals of glee and grunts of horror abound as unexpected collisions happen and skillful turns are executed.
But then comes the start of your devastating on the spot decision making. While plotting your squadrons moves, you had an overall plan. Now, each ship must choose it’s precious action.
Evade? How many guys might end up firing on you? Target? Are you clear to get the shot this or next turn? Focus – the all purpose “Egads, I need help” token. Or maybe that barrel roll or super freakin cool new Boost – move a bit maybe out of a firing arc or -surprise – snap someone into your arc. Maybe you execute some trick of your specific pilot.
Here is where you are tempering your odds. Things that will alter the upcoming luck sequence. carefully guiding the gods of luck to your favor.
The tokens build up on the board as actions get selected. At first, this is a pile of confusing cardboard. In a few games, the counters become invisible, simply reminding you of who plans what.
Whew. So, strategic planning in the squad build, then the secrecy of move plotting, then the agonizing action choices. What more does this game need?
Bring out the dice. Or the iPad app, if you prefer.
Its Star WARS and the dice bring on the war. Now MORE decisions that hurt. Do I spend my focus token to get that extra damage possibly in, or hold on to it to help me avoid possible damage? What if I hold it and no one fires? What a waste… Two hits coming in… Do I evade? Or hold on to the evade since a crit might come next?
Hopefully, you’ve pile bonus upon bonus on your fighters. Distance, skill, weapon, focus… Or maybe all you’ve got is a shot in the dark.
Even defenders are active, choosing focus and evade moments.
Again, very little downtime. Lots of whining and cheering. Little downtime.
Start the cycle again. Hidden choices, movement reveals and actions, combat.
I think THIS is why X-Wing is such a stunningly successful design. It bobs and weaves each turn. No phase is long enough to overstay its welcome. And you must juggle and balance each phase to support the others.
An excellently designed system that overcomes any of it’s perceived problems due to the overall strength of play.
Listen to Star Wars gaming news at Mos Eisley Radio broadcasting straight from the Outer Rim!
I enjoy fine dining and have rather high expectations in regard to food. In my home town of West Chester when I want a nice dining experience, my wife and I go to Jags. For power dinners it is the Montgomery Inn Boat House downtown along the river that most suits my taste. So with those qualifiers I must report that I had one of the finest dinners I can ever recall at the T-Rex Café in Orlando, Florida. This was unexpected as I thought the restaurant featuring animatronic dinosaurs that howl at you while eating would be just another gimmicky eatery that would fall short of anticipated hope. My family was with me at Downtown Disney recently so I had the opportunity to treat them to a nice dinner in a unique place, so we headed to the T-Rex Café which is only one of two in the entire country. The other establishment is located in Kansas City. As expected the interior of the restaurant was fabulous looking resembling more a dynamic museum than a place to eat. The hostess seated us in a corner table next to the fire pit cooking area directly underneath a pterodactyl dinosaur and flaming licks that emerged from a volcano. Our large booth was situated inside a geode that looked out into the dining room as a meteor shower flew by violently overhead. Across the room was the ice cave complete with fossils embedded in the walls. Everywhere around the large dining room which held over 600 people were spectacles of science and ancient biological history. But better than that, the food was as good as the environment. The appetizers were seasoned wonderfully, the service was top-notch, and the feature plates were excellently prepared, and delivered. For the climax of the dinner we had a Chocolate Extinction which was delivered as a flame spewing volcano that was absolutely fabulous.
As I ate my dinner and spoke with my family I had a persistent thought–the restaurant was just another miracle of capitalism. Only capitalism could produce such a place, and even though the cost of the meal was certainly on the high side, it was well worth the price as the environment cost an enormous sum to maintain daily. Only an economic system of capitalism could hope to produce the resources to make such a place possible. Yet in our current time, capitalism’s greatest predator is socialism, and the current incantation of political socialism is the “green movement” that attempts to take mankind back to the roots of earth worship and primitive rituals in an effort to preserve the world for eternity.
As I looked around the room at the T-Rex Café I thought of a conversation I had with one of my nephews the day before—a small argument that we had in a swimming pool over the merits of personal Thorium reactors for sustainable, cheap power at each home in the world. His position was one of concern for the radioactive waste generated by nuclear fission taught to him by the six digit debt he incurred in college that had steered his thinking. I tried to sympathize with his view-point as he spent a lot of money on his education and wanted to believe that the things he learned were valid. But in the scheme of things he was taught by left-leaning college professors the mystical trend of primitive sacrifice to the goddess Earth and were wrong. The entire environmental movement is built on mysticism and a primitive need to sacrifice to the gods that are now representative in New Age doctrine as a love for the great Goddess Earth. The mentality is the same as the Mayans sacrificing human beings to Kukulkan, or a bunch of Native Americans (displaced Chinese people) doing a rain dance to bring water to their crops. The idea of sacrifice to a deity is a primitive concept that is rooted in ignorance which is wonderfully portrayed in one of my favorite books, The Golden Bough by James Frazer. Human beings have evolved for the most part beyond that ridiculous mentality rooted in ignorance with the advances found in the philosophy of capitalism. The T-Rex Café was a direct product of capitalism and was a celebration of life forms on earth that had become extinct for natural reasons. Because of capitalism, children can share with their parents a celebration of a world long gone so that hopefully they can all learn something from the process while enjoying the roots of our own evolution.
Yet there are thousands of young people like my nephew who have been taught that preserving the earth is more important than the products of the human mind which is in essence a dedication to the primitive nature of human beings before the invention of capitalism. Those human beings who hate capitalism tend to support socialist tendencies either directly or indirectly and it is they who have perpetuated the myths about global warming, and the sacrifice of human advancement to the benefit of the earth—which is just ridiculous.
As I watched the meteor showers strike each other across the ceiling of the T-Rex Café restaurant I thought of the future of the earth as we know it now. Part of the ongoing supercontinent cycle, plate tectonics will probably result in a supercontinent in 250–350 million years. Some time in the next 1.5–4.5 billion years, the axial tilt of the Earth may begin to undergo chaotic variations, with changes in the axial tilt of up to 90°.
During the next four billion years, the luminosity of the Sun will steadily increase, resulting in a rise in the solar radiation reaching the Earth. This will cause a higher rate of weathering of silicate minerals, which will cause a decrease in the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. In about 600 million years, the level of CO
2 will fall below the level needed to sustain C3 carbon fixation photosynthesis used by trees. Some plants use the C4 carbon fixation method, allowing them to persist at CO
2 concentrations as low as 10 parts per million. However, the long-term trend is for plant life to die off altogether. The die off of plants will be the demise of almost all animal life, since plants are the base of the food chain on Earth.
In about 1.1 billion years, the solar luminosity will be 10% higher than at present. This will cause the atmosphere to become a “moist greenhouse”, resulting in a runaway evaporation of the oceans. As a likely consequence, plate tectonics will come to an end. Following this event, the planet’s magnetic dynamo may come to an end, causing the magnetosphere to decay and leading to an accelerated loss of volatiles from the outer atmosphere. Four billion years from now, the increase in the Earth’s surface temperature will cause a runaway greenhouse effect. By that point, most if not all the life on the surface will be extinct. The most probable fate of the planet is absorption by the Sun in about 7.5 billion years, after the star has entered the red giant phase and expanded to cross the planet’s current orbit
And at any time during this cycle of destruction, a meteor, an alien race, or even the collision of the Milky Way galaxy with another galaxy may occur destroying not just the earth, but all the millions of planets in the galaxy. The idea of not installing a Thorium reactor on every home, every car, and every need for power that the human race desires seems insanely stupid when it is realized that the sacrifice of technical achievement to short-sighted preservation of the earth is currently occurring. Humans would be wise to blast the radioactive waste of such nuclear fission into space to dump among the stars, but such things are of secondary concern to the efforts that are produced by the human mind. Whether the earth ends in 100 years or in 7.5 billion years, the earth will end, and the human race will need to evolve into a type 3 civilization by that time, or it will go out like a light in the universe that has been turned off by its own short-sightedness. When the earth ends, human beings need to be elsewhere.
To avoid extinction, human beings not only must develop an ability to move from one galaxy to another, but from one universe to another, because the universe is not exactly stable. Mankind through capitalism has the ability to solve these problems but the trend of the current environmentalist is a dedication to the failures of mankind’s past, the sacrifice of humans to the gods of speculation—to the mystic desire to shun personal responsibility for ones own life to a deity of convenience and hide their lack of courage behind group behavior.
The T-Rex Café is an excellent example of capitalism at its absolute best. The food is great, the environment, the service, the location was absolutely spectacular. But more importantly were the thoughts that the place was able to invoke in the imagination. Dining with my family at a big comfortable table with good food to ease the tensions of the day allowed for the possibility of thoughts that were stimulated by the dynamic environment. For me, the conversation I had with my nephew at the pool came rushing to my mind as the meteor shower overhead violently erupted. Everything on earth was created from violence and force. Every mountain is the result of earth’s crust violently being shoved upward. Every river is the result of massive rain fall. Every drop of ocean water is the result of crashed comets millions of years ago. The dinosaurs of which the T-Rex Café was dedicated to had lived and died over a much longer span of time than human beings have even been a thought on earth, and in all that time no dinosaur ever invented a way to draw energy from a Thorium reactor, yet the audaciousness of the modern-day environmentally conscious religious zealot is to assume that the earth will always stay just as it is now in the year 2013 and never become hotter or colder, or violently upset by a planetary collision of any kind. They assume that humans are equal in value to all other life forms on the planet, and that’s not true—only humans have developed complicated thoughts that enable them to leave earth, extend their own life spans, and create their own future. For the greenie weenie environmentalist the small mindedness of their short-life spans is unfathomably foolish and insecure. They hope to revert mankind back to a cave man building fires and barking at a bolt of lightning streaking across the sky as some mystery delivered from the gods, instead of understanding the science of static electricity and using that power to carry them off earth for good, to destinations not yet discovered.
A good meal not only fills the belly, but the mind, and I left the T-Rex Café full in both regards. It was worth the money of a 5 star restaurant because the combination of food and environment was so extremely magnificent. I won’t soon forget the place because long after the food was enjoyed the experience continued to give me fresh ideas that are invaluable to proper perspective. It was clearly one of my favorite dining experiences to date anywhere in the world, in part because of the restaurant itself, but mostly in the recreation of a time long-lost to history that was recreated as an honor, and a warning to mankind’s own doomed fate if it fails to embrace the proper philosophy of reaching for the stars instead of the jealous confines of mother earth and her selfish desire to doom all humans to the same fate she will surely suffer.
Yes, The Disney ‘Lone Ranger’ has the William Tell Overture: Past meets present with a glorious spectacle.
Many kids these days have no idea that the character of Woody from the popular Toy Story films was directly inspired by The Lone Ranger television show that was so extremely popular immediately after World War II. The last time the Lone Ranger made any kind of legitimate appearance in either television or motion pictures it was in the 1981 film The Legend of the Lone Ranger which had mild success, but involved the tragic injury of Terry Leonard, the famous stuntman from Raiders of the Lost Ark. In the 1981 film, a stagecoach accident ran over both of Terry’s legs which tarnished the film a bit to even my young eyes. The scene made it into the movie, but was difficult to accept as I always related more with the stuntmen in films than I ever did the actual actors. There was a time in my life where I wanted to be a stuntman more than anything else, but that idea subsided a bit after several violent car crashes, encounters with actual villains who shot real bullets, and a few years of marriage. But deep in my heart is the love of the Lone Ranger and his code of moral conduct that helped shape America’s identity with his classic white hat, black mask, and silver bullets.
My primary exposure to the Lone Ranger came from Saturday morning serials. For me it was always a toss-up between the Lone Ranger, and Zorro who I loved more. One of those classic Republic serials can be seen throughout this article. I’m sharing it in the same way that I shared the Republic serial, Zorro’s Fighting Legion. These types of programs made a point to teach children and adults values they could both share. This is why I am so eager to see the new Lone Ranger film by the Disney Company.
The Lone Ranger is a fictional character: a masked ex-Texas Ranger who, with his Indian companion Tonto, fights injustice in the American Old West. The character has become an enduring icon of American culture.
He first appeared in 1933 in a radio show conceived either by WXYZ radio station owner George W. Trendle or by Fran Striker, the show’s writer. It has been suggested that Bass Reeves, a legendary Federal peace officer in the Indian Territory (1875 – 1907) was the inspiration for this character. The show proved to be a hit, and spawned a series of books (largely written by Striker), an equally popular television show that ran from 1949 to 1957, and comic books and movies. The title character was played on radio by George Seaton, Earle Graser, and most memorably Brace Beemer. To television viewers, Clayton Moore was the Lone Ranger. Tonto was played by, among others, John Todd, Roland Parker, and in the television series, Jay Silverheels.
Departing on his white stallion, Silver, the Lone Ranger would shout, “Hi-Ho, Silver! Away!” As they galloped off, someone would ask, “Who was that masked man, anyway?” Tonto usually referred to the Lone Ranger as “Ke-mo sah-bee“, meaning “trusty scout” or “trusted friend.” These catchphrases, his trademark silver bullets, and the theme music from the William Tell overture have become tropes of popular culture.
In every incarnation of the character to date, the Lone Ranger conducts himself by a strict moral code put in place by Striker at the inception of the character. Actors Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels both took their positions as role models to children very seriously and tried their best to live by this creed. It reads as follows:
- That to have a friend, a man must be one.
- That all men are created equal and that everyone has within himself the power to make this a better world.
- That God put the firewood there, but that every man must gather and light it himself.
- In being prepared physically, mentally, and morally to fight when necessary for that which is right.
- That a man should make the most of what equipment he has.
- That ‘this government of the people, by the people, and for the people’ shall live always.
- That all things change but truth, and that truth alone, lives on forever.
- In my Creator, my country, my fellow man.
The most updated version of The Lone Ranger comes out on July 3rd, and I can’t think of a better film to see which celebrates the 4th of July. The Lone Ranger is a special kind of film and I sincerely hope that Jerry Bruckheimer is able to do for the American western what he did for swashbuckling pirate films. If he does, then western values have a real chance at re-emerging in American culture.
It is about time that children learn clean speaking cowboys are not just playthings in a toy box like Woody was in Toy Story. The Lone Ranger is the original Woody, and I relish that the film is coming out around such a patriotic holiday, because the Lone Ranger is a uniquely American creation for a uniquely American audience that is being exported to every corner of the world by one of the largest and most successful companies in the world. It should go without saying that I will be seeing it at the earliest possible screening.
Now, one of the most heavily searched items on my site here at Overmanwarrior’s Wisdom for the last three months has been the question, “Is the William Tell Overture in the new Lone Ranger.” Well, for the answer, you can hear it from Han’s Zimmer himself.
Don Steinberg from The Wall Street Journal — Ok, so over to “The Lone Ranger.” And speaking of theme music: there’s probably never been any audible version of the Lone Ranger that didn’t use the William Tell Overture. Do you nod to that?
Hans Zimmer response - I was listening to a Billy Connolly quote, and he said the definition of an intellectual is if you can listen to the William tell Overture and not think of the Lone Ranger. Ok, we didn’t go the intellectual journey. We fully embraced the William Tell. Needless to say, we couldn’t leave well enough alone, so it has a little tweak. Actually it’s tweaked quite bit. I don’t know how long the Overture is — it depends on how fast you play it — but that Lone Ranger bit is two minutes long, at the most. And, as I found out, Mr. Rossini felt that was all he had to say. So there are some expansion opportunities. Plus, needless to say, they don’t hire me just to orchestrate Rossini. They want a bit of my dirty fingerprints all over it.
Read the whole interview here:
………………………………….YES! I am damn happy to not call myself an intellectual by the way that Billy Connolly coins the term. For me, the William Tell Overture is what the Lone Ranger is all about. CLICK HERE FOR MORE. Enjoy the movie!
Many industry professionals have cautioned me that due to my Tea Party like beliefs, I will have limited opportunities to work in film, either in front of the camera as a whip consultant, as I have done a time or two, or behind the camera as a writer. My specific attitude toward collective oriented labor unions is the nail in the coffin as today’s Hollywood for the most part has become an arm of the federal government, and the policies of statism advocated there. But there are rare exceptions, and of late Warner Brothers with Legendary Pictures have produced fantastic films like Man of Steel and Dark Knight Rises, while Disney Studios is putting out pictures like Iron Man, the Avengers and now the upcoming The Lone Ranger. It is the Lone Ranger that has me extremely excited because that character as I have mentioned before goes deep into my past. I love the old versions of the Lone Ranger, the old Saturday morning serials that were recaptured by George Lucas when he made Star Wars and Indiana Jones. I love the old serials so much that I have seen many of them, even though they are way before my time. While they lack the polish and sophistication of modern films, they are filled with heart and soul. Many of the film techniques used today in all the popular blockbusters were developed during the period of the popular Republic serials. And of those serials there was none I love more than the 1939 series called Zorro’s Fighting Legion.
For readers of my novel The Symposium of Justice, I pay tribute to that 12 chapter serial in three different ways. The first is that the character conflict of Fletcher Finnegan is much like the fight that Don Diego had with Don Del Oro in Zorro’s Fighting Legion. I even went to the trouble of naming the antics of my protagonist in the novel Cliffhanger’s Fighting Legion. The third is that the restaurant that Fletcher Finnegan worked at as a grill cook so that he could learn the movements of the towns politics behind the scenes was named Republics, after of course the company that produced Zorro’s Fighting Legion. It was Zorro’s Fighting Legion that inspired me to take up the bullwhip to the extent that I have, and make it part of my life, almost as important to me as an arm or a leg on my body. There is a lot of whip work in Zorro’s Fighting Legion and I wanted to learn every single trick, which I did. I came to learn about Zorro’s Fighting Legion because I learned at age 12 while watching a documentary about the making of Raiders of the Lost Ark that the great stunt performed by Terry Lenard during the famous “Desert Chase” scene was first done by the great stuntman Yakima Canutt who I feel virtually built Hollywood on his back. Without the great work of stuntmen like Yakima Canutt and Republic Pictures there would never have been a modern-day Star Wars, an Indiana Jones, or even movie versions of Man of Steel, Iron Man, or Dark Knight Rises.
Hollywood was not always liberal. Communism slowly seeped into the Hollywood movie machines in the late 1930s during The Red Decade, but studios resisted. Hollywood Black Friday is the name given, in the history of organized labor in the United States, to October 5, 1945. On that date, a six-month strike by the set decorators represented by the Conference of Studio Unions (CSU) boiled over into a bloody riot at the gates of Warner Brothers‘ studios in Burbank, California. The strikes helped the passage of the Taft-Hartley Act in 1947 and led to the eventual break up of the CSU and reorganization of the then rival International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) leadership. The Conference of Studio Unions was, at the time, an International union belonging to the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and represented the Carpenters, Painters, Cartoonists and several other crafts working for the Studios in Hollywood.
Seventy-seven set decorators broke away from IATSE to form the Society of Motion Picture Interior Decorators (SMPID) and negotiated an independent contract with the producers in 1937. The SMPID joined the CSU in 1943 and the CSU represented the SMPID in their contract negotiations. After the producers stalled the negotiations for nine months, IATSE questioned CSU jurisdiction over the Set Decorators which led to a further five-month delay as the CSU and IATSE fought over jurisdiction. When the Producers refused to acknowledge an independent arbitrator appointed by the War Labor Board‘s assessment that the CSU had jurisdiction over the Set Decorators in February 1945, it set the stage for the strike
By October, money and patience were running low as some 300 strikers gathered at Warner Brothers’ main gate on October 5, 1945. Temperatures were abnormally warm for the already hot LA autumn. When non-strikers attempted to report for work at 6:00 in the morning, the barricades went up and tensions flared. As replacement workers attempted to drive through the crowd, their cars were stopped and overturned. Hollywood would never again be the same as a gradual erosion of value began to leave Hollywood projects as the labor unions were backed by communist sympathizers with eyes favoring the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
Reinforcements arrived on both sides as the picket increased to some 1,000 people and Glendale and Los Angeles Police came to aid the Burbank Police and Warner Security attempting to maintain the peace. When more replacement workers attempted to break through to the gate, a general melee ensued as strikers mobbed them and strikebreakers responded by attacking the strikers with chains, hammers, pipes, tear gas, and night sticks. Warner security rained more tear gas down from the roofs of the buildings adjoining the entrance. Warner firefighters sprayed the strikers with fire hoses. By the end of the day, some 300 police and deputy sheriffs had been called to the scene and over 40 injuries were reported.
The picketers returned the following Monday with an injunction barring the police from interfering with the strike while Warner retaliated with its own injunction limiting the number of pickets at the gate. Although the violence would continue through the week, national exposure forced the parties back to the bargaining table and resulted in an end to the strike one month later but the CSU victory was a Pyrrhic one, where contentions over wording dictated by an AFL arbitration team would lead to further questioning as to CSU and IATSE jurisdiction on the set.
Zorro’s Fighting Legion was created during this turbulent period but was still free of unionized influence. That makes it much more special to me for the sheer fact that the foundations of American story telling were built upon these Republic serials. It was film projects like this one that helped slow the erosion of communism in America with the western that so proudly articulated American values of justice, and Zorro’s Fighting Legion is certainly that type of film collection. I see the Republic serials as Hollywood’s response to the growing tension forming ahead of the Cold War between the communism of the Soviet Union and the capitalism of America. The struggle of this philosophical debate is all over the story of Zorro’s Fighting Legion, and has resonated with me for decades. One of the greatest days in my life was when the emergence of DVD technology allowed me to purchase the entire series to own for myself to watch over and over again, which has only been possible in recent years. But even better than that, Zorro’s Fighting Legion is now available on YouTube, so to share this unique treasure with my readers here, and to share my vision of what Hollywood is all about in celebration of the upcoming Lone Ranger by Disney, please do enjoy all twelve episodes shown below. They are kind of slow and boring compared to today’s entertainment, but try to watch them the way I do, for their purity of purpose, simplicity in design, and sheer bold stunt work by the great Yakima Canutt. Mixed through the rest of the article between the episodes is information that is needed to compliment the films.
Zorro’s Fighting Legion is a 1939 Republic Pictures film serial consisting of twelve chapters. It features Reed Hadley as Zorro. The plot revolves around his alter-ego Don Diego’s fight against the evil Don Del Oro.
A trademark of this serial is the sudden demise of at least one native informant in each episode. The direction was identical for each informant’s death, creating a source of unintentional humor: each informant, upon uttering the phrase, “Don Del Oro is…”, is shot by a golden arrow and dies before being able to name the villain’s alter ego. The serial is also unusual in featuring a real historical personage, Mexican President Benito Juárez, as a minor character.
The mysterious Don Del Oro (“Lord of Gold”), an idol of the Yaqui Indians, has emerged and attacks the gold trade of the Republic of Mexico, planning to take over the land and become Emperor. A man named Francisco is put in charge of a fighting legion to combat the Yaqui tribe and protect the gold, but he is attacked by men working for Don Del Oro. Zorro comes to his rescue, but it is too late for him. Francisco’s partner recognizes Zorro as the hidalgo Don Diego Vega. Francisco asks Diego, as Zorro, to take over the fighting legion and defeat Don Del Oro.
Republic Pictures was an American independent film production-distribution corporation with studio facilities, operating from 1935 through 1959, and was best known for specializing in westerns, movie serials and B films emphasizing mystery and action.
The studio was also responsible for financing and distributing one Shakespeare film, Orson Welles‘ Macbeth (1948), and several of the films of John Ford during the 1940s and early 1950s. It was also notable for developing the careers of John Wayne, Gene Autry and Roy Rogers.
Born Enos Edward Canutt in the Snake River Hills, near Colfax, Washington; he was one of five children of John Lemuel Canutt, a rancher, and Nettie Ellen Stevens. He grew up in eastern Washington on a ranch near Penawawa Creek, founded by his grandfather and operated by his father, who also served a term in the state legislature. His formal education was limited to elementary school in Green Lake, Washington, then a suburb of Seattle. He gained the education for his life’s work on the family ranch, where he learned to hunt, trap, shoot, and ride.
He broke a wild bronco when 11. As a 6-foot-tall (1.8 m) sixteen-year-old he started bronc riding at the Whitman County Fair in Colfax in 1912 and at 17 he won the title of World’s Best Bronco Buster. Canutt started rodeo riding professionally and gained a reputation as a bronc rider, bulldogger and all-around cowboy. It was at the 1914 Pendleton Round-Up, Pendleton, Oregon he got his nickname “Yakima” when a newspaper caption misidentified him. ”Yakima Canutt may be the most famous person NOT from Yakima, Washington” says Elizabeth Gibson, author of Yakima, Washington. Winning second place at the 1915 Pendleton Round-Up brought attention from show promoters, who invited him to compete around the country.
“I started in major rodeos in 1914, and went through to 1923. There was quite a crop of us traveling together, and we would have special railroad cars and cars for the horses. We’d play anywhere from three, six, eight ten-day shows. Bronc riding and bulldogging were my specialties, but I did some roping,” said Canutt.
During the 1916 season, he became interested in divorcee Kitty Wilks, who had won the Lady’s Bronc-Riding Championship a couple of times. They married on July 20, 1917 while at a show in Kalispell, Montana; he was 21 and she 23. The couple divorced about 1922. While bulldogging in Idaho, Canutt’s mouth and upper lip were torn by a bull’s horn; but after stitches, Canutt returned to the competition. It wasn’t until a year later that a plastic surgeon could correct the injury.
Canutt won his first world championship at the Olympics of the West in 1917 and won more championships in the next few years. In between rodeos he broke horses for the French government in World War I. In 1918, he went to Spokane to enlist in the Navy and was stationed in Bremerton. In the fall he was given a 30-day furlough to defend his rodeo title. Having enlisted for the war, he was discharged in spring 1919. At the 1919 Calgary Stampede he competed in the bucking event and met Pete Knight.
He traveled to Los Angeles for a rodeo, and decided to winter in Hollywood, where he met screen personalities. It was here that Tom Mix, who had also started in rodeos, invited him to be in two of his pictures. Mix added to his flashy wardrobe by borrowing two of Canutt’s two-tone shirts and having his tailor make 40 copies. Canutt got his first taste of stunting with a fight scene on a serial called Lightning Bryce ; he didn’t stay, and left Hollywood to play the 1920 rodeo circuit.
The Fort Worth rodeo was nicknamed “Yak’s show” after he won the saddle-bronc competition three years in 1921, 1922 and 1923. He had won the saddle-bronc competition in Pendleton in 1917, 1919, and 1923 and came second in 1915, and 1929. Canutt won the steer bulldogging in 1920, and 1921 and won the All-Around Police Gazette belt in 1917, 1919, 1920 and 1923. While in Hollywood in 1923 for an awards ceremony, he was offered eight western action pictures for producer Ben Wilson at Burwillow Studios; the first was to be Riding Mad.
Canutt had been perfecting tricks such as the Crupper Mount, a leap-frog over the horse’s rump into the saddle. Douglas Fairbanks used some in his film The Gaucho. Fairbanks and Canutt became friends and competed regularly at Fairbanks’ gym. Canutt took small parts in pictures of others to get experience. It was in Branded a Bandit (1924) that his nose was broken in a 12-foot fall from a cliff. The picture was delayed several weeks, and when it resumed Canutt’s close shots were from the side. A plastic surgeon reset the nose, which healed, inspiring Canutt to remark that he thought it looked better.
When his contract with Wilson expired in 1927, Canutt was making appearances at rodeos across the country. By 1928 the talkies were coming out and though he had been in 48 silent pictures, Canutt knew his career was in trouble. His voice had been damaged from flu in the Navy. He started taking on bit parts and stunts, and realized more could be done with action in pictures.
In 1930 between pictures and rodeoing, Canutt met Minnie Audrea Yeager Rice at a party at her parents’ home. She was 12 years his junior. They kept company during the next year while he picked up work on the serials for Mascot Pictures Corporation. They married on November 12, 1931.
When rodeo riders invaded Hollywood, they brought a battery of rodeo techniques that Canutt would expand and improve, including horse falls and wagon wrecks, along with the harnesses and cable rigs to make the stunts foolproof and safe. Among the new safety devices was the ‘L’ stirrup, which allowed a man to fall off a horse without getting hung in the stirrup. Canutt also developed cabling and equipment to cause spectacular wagon crashes, while releasing the team, all on the same spot every time. Safety methods such as these saved film-makers time and money and prevented accidents and injury to performers. One of Yakima’s inventions was the ‘Running W’ stunt, bringing down a horse at the gallop by attaching a wire, anchored to the ground, to its fetlocks and launching the rider forwards spectacularly. This either killed the horse, or rendered it badly shaken and unusable for the rest of the day. The ‘Running W’ is now banned and has been replaced with the falling-horse technique. It is believed that the last time it was used was on the 1983 Iraqi film al-Mas’ Ala Al-Kubra when the British actor and friend of Yak Marc Sinden and stuntman Ken Buckle (who had been trained by Yak) performed the stunt three times during a cavalry charge sequence.
It was while working on Mascot serials that Canutt practiced and perfected his most famous stunts, including the drop from a stagecoach that he would employ in John Ford‘s 1939Stagecoach. He first did it in Riders of the Dawn in 1937 while doubling for Jack Randall. In his 1981 film Raiders of the Lost Ark, Steven Speilberg paid homage to Canutt, recreating the stunt when a stuntman, Terry Leonard, (doubling for Harrison Ford) ‘dropped’ from the front of a German Army transport truck, was dragged underneath (along a prepared trench) and then climbed up the back and round to the front again.
While at Mascot, Canutt met John Wayne while doubling for him in a motorcycle stunt for The Shadow of the Eagle in 1932. Wayne admired Canutt’s agility and fearlessness, and Canutt respected Wayne’s willingness to learn and attempt his own stunts. Canutt taught Wayne how to fall off a horse.
“The two worked together to create a technique that made on-screen fight scenes more realistic. Wayne and Canutt found if they stood at a certain angle in front of the camera, they could throw a punch at an actor’s face and make it look as if actual contact had been made.”
Canutt and Wayne pioneered stunt and screen fighting techniques still in use. Much of Wayne’s on-screen persona was from Canutt. The characterizations associated with Wayne – the drawling, hesitant speech and the hip-rolling walk – were pure Canutt. Said Wayne, “I spent weeks studying the way Yakima Canutt walked and talked. He was a real cowhand.”
In 1932, Canutt’s first son Edward Clay was born and nicknamed ‘Tap’, short for Tapadero, a Spanish word for a stirrup covering. It was in 1932 that Canutt broke his shoulder in four places while trying to transfer from horse to wagon team. Though work was scarce, he got by combining stunting and rodeo work.
In 1934, Herbert J. Yates of Consolidated Film Industries combined Monogram, Mascot, Liberty, Majestic, Chesterfield, and Invincible Pictures to form Republic Pictures, and Canutt became Republic’s top stuntman. He handled all the action on many pictures, including Gene Autry films; and several series and serials, such as The Lone Ranger andZorro. For Zorro Rides Again, Canutt did almost all the scenes in which Zorro wore a mask, and he was on the screen as much as the star John Carroll. When the action was indicated in a Republic script, it said “see Yakima Canutt for action sequences.”
William Witney, one of Republic’s film directors, said:
“There will probably never be another stuntman who can compare to Yakima Canutt. He had been a world champion cowboy several times and where horses were concerned he could do it all. He invented all the gadgets that made stunt work easier. One of his clever devices was a step that attached to the saddle so that he had leverage to transfer to another moving object, like a wagon or a train. Another was the “shotgun,” a spring-loaded device used to separate the tongue of a running wagon from the horses, thus cutting the horses loose. It also included a shock cord attached to the wagon bed, which caused wheels to cramp and turn the wagon over on the precise spot that was most advantageous for the camera.”
In the 1936 film San Francisco Canutt replaced Clark Gable in a scene in which a wall was to fall on the star. Canutt said: “We had a heavy table situated so that I could dive under it at the last moment. Just as the wall started down, a girl in the scene became hysterical and panicked. I grabbed her, leaped for the table, but didn’t quite make it.” The girl was unhurt but he broke six ribs.
Canutt tried to get into directing; he was growing older and knew his stunting days were numbered. Harry Joe, Canutt’s second son, was born in January 1937. Joe and Tap would become important stuntmen, working with their father.
In 1938, Republic Pictures started expanding into bigger pictures and budgets. Canutt’s mentor and action director for the 1925 Ben-Hur, Breezy Eason was hired as second unit director, and Canutt to coordinate and ramrod the stunts. For Canutt this meant hiring stuntmen and doing some stunts himself, but laying out the action for the director and writing additional stunts.
“In the five years between 1925 and 1930, fifty-five people were killed making movies, and more than ten thousand injured. By the late 1930s, the maverick stuntman willing to do anything for a buck was disappearing. Now under scrutiny, experienced stunt men began to separate themselves from amateurs by building special equipment, rehearsing stunts, and developing new techniques.” – fromFalling: How Our Greatest Fear Became Our Greatest Thrill by Garrett Soden.
John Ford hired Canutt on John Wayne‘s recommendation for Stagecoach, where Canutt supervised the river-crossing scene as well as the Indian chase scene, did the stagecoach drop, and doubled for Wayne in the coach stunts. For safety during the stagecoach drop stunt, Canutt devised modified yokes and tongues, to give extra handholds and extra room between the teams. Ford told him that whenever Ford made an action picture and Canutt wasn’t working elsewhere, he was on Ford’s payroll. Also in 1939, Canutt doubled Clark Gable in the burning of Atlanta in Gone With the Wind; he also appeared as a renegade accosting Scarlett O’Hara (Vivien Leigh) as she crosses a bridge in a carriage driving through a shantytown.
Second Unit Director
In 1940, Canutt sustained serious internal injuries when a horse fell on him while doubling for Clark Gable in Boom Town (1940). Though in discomfort for months after an operation to repair his bifurcated intestines, he continued to work. Republic’s Sol Siegel offered him the chance to direct the action sequences of Dark Command, starring Wayne and directed by Raoul Walsh. On Dark Command, Canutt fashioned an elaborate cable system to yank back the plummeting coach before it fell on the stuntman and horses; he also created a breakaway harness from which they were released before hitting the water.
It was in 1943 while doing a low-budget Roy Rogers called Idaho that Canutt broke both his legs at the ankles in a fall off a wagon. He recovered to write the stunts and supervise the action for another Wayne film In Old Oklahoma. In the next decade Canutt became one of the best second unit and action directors. MGM brought Canutt to England in 1952 to direct the action and jousting sequences in Ivanhoe with Robert Taylor. This would set a precedent by filming action abroad instead of on the studio lot, and Canutt introduced many British stuntmen to Hollywood-style stunt training. Ivanhoe was followed by Knights of the Round Table, again with director Richard Thorpe and starring Robert Taylor. Canutt was again brought in for lavish action scenes in King Richard and the Crusaders.
Canutt directed the close-action scenes for Stanley Kubrick‘s Spartacus, spending five days directing retakes that included the slave army rolling its flaming logs into the Romans, and other fight scenes featuring Kirk Douglas, Tony Curtis and John Ireland.
For Ben-Hur, Canutt staged the chariot race with nine teams of four horses. He trained Charlton Heston, (Judah Ben-Hur) and Stephen Boyd, (Messala) to do their own charioteering. He and his crew spent five months on the race sequence. In contrast to the 1925 film, not one horse was hurt, and no humans were seriously injured; though Joe Canutt, while doubling for Charlton Heston, did cut his chin because he did not follow his father’s advice to hook himself to the chariot when Judah Ben-Hur’s chariot bounced over the wreck of another chariot.
Walt Disney brought Canutt in to do Second Unit for Westward Ho, the Wagons! in 1956; the first live action Western Disney feature film followed by Old Yeller the next year, and culminating in 1960′s Swiss Family Robinson which involved transporting many exotic animals to a remote island in the West Indies.
Anthony Mann specifically requested Canutt for Second Unit for his 1961 El Cid, where Canutt directed sons Joe and Tap doubling forCharlton Heston and Christopher Rhodes in a stunning tournament joust. “Canutt was surely the most active stager of tournaments since the Middle Ages” – from Swordsmen of the Screen. He was determined to make the combat scenes in El Cid the best that had ever been filmed. Mann again requested him for 1964′s The Fall of the Roman Empire. Over the next ten years, Canutt would continue to work, bringing his talents to Cat Ballou, Khartoum, Where Eagles Dare and 1970′s A Man Called Horse.
For his contribution to the motion picture industry, Yakima Canutt has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1500 Vine Street. In 1967, he was given an Honorary Academy Award for achievements as a stunt man and for developing safety devices to protect stunt men everywhere. He was inducted into the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum (Hall of Fame).
1985 – Yakima appeared as himself in “Yak’s Best Ride” directed by John Crawford. Produced by Clyde Lucas and Ed Penny
He is buried at Valhalla Memorial Park Cemetery there.
Now you might understand why dear reader that I feel the way I do. The kind of Hollywood, and adversely the kind of America I want is the one that made movies like Zorro’s Fighting Legion which were populated by men like Yakima Canutt. My admiration for George Lucas is that he kept this type of America alive for the world by paying direct tribute to the old Republic serials, particularly Zorro’s Fighting Legion with his creation of Indiana Jones. Like Republic Studios, George Lucas’ Lucasfilm made movies with the same level of independence which fashioned the Republic serials to be so important in American storytelling. Raiders of the Lost Ark, not to take anything away from the visionary story of placing a globetrotting archeologist in a high adventure setting which has advanced science in so many wonderful ways, borrowed heavily from the old Republic serials and because it did, made me aware of their existence across time and space. And now you too dear reader have seen one, the best one in my opinion. One of the big fears that many current day Star Wars fans has is that Disney will ruin the Saturday morning serial feel to the films that mean more to people than even modern religions can duplicate. The reason is that the stories have values that are not provided in modern society, and movie fans are hungry for films with value. But Disney, even though it is a large company has not forgotten where it came from. It knows what Uncle Walt told them from beyond the grave and Star Wars is in good hands. The evidence is in The Lone Ranger which Disney is producing to re-invent the western the way they re-invented the pirate stories. But it cannot be forgotten that what came first, was the great Republic serials like Zorro’s Fighting Legion where truth, justice, and the American way were plot points of value not avoided by a growing consensus toward world-wide communist domination.
The Don Del Oro of our time is all those statist lovers who would destroy all who attempt to stand for goodness. They reside among us in reality with masks hiding their true intentions from behind the desks of union leadership, political office, even movie studio heads. But not everyone is playing by the rules, and like Don Diego from Zorro’s Fighting Legion there are film producers like George Lucas who kept the old serials alive for a new generation, and Jerry Bruckheimer who is making the modern version of The Lone Ranger possible. But more importantly, it is the work of men like Yakima Canutt, and Terry Lenard who gave wings to the ideas of freedom, which motion pictures have traditionally stood for, and still do in isolated cases like Disney’s The Lone Ranger, and Warner Brother’s Man of Steel.
It is worth taking a day or two to watch all these clips. So make up some snacks in the kitchen and take some time to enjoy the foundations of American film and the heroic ideals that accompany them.
The Lone Ranger Bullwhip
Joseph Strain supplied 3 whips for the 2013 production of The Lone Ranger, one black 10 foot, one black 12 foot and one brandy 12 foot.
The whip pictured below is the black 10 foot prototype. The whips were all made from kangaroo, had 10 inch handles, were a finely cut 12 plait with 2 plaited kangaroo bellies. The 32″ falls were alum tanned burgundy latigo and the poppers were black nylon. The whips also had a narrower 4 plait wrist loop measuring 7 inches long.
For a limited time, you can order one of these whips exactly as made for the movie by Joseph Strain. Production will take from 4 to 6 weeks from the time of order.
If you love the Lone Ranger, this is a must have item. You can order one at the link below!
I know that especially lately, each new movie that comes out; I have had grand things to say about them which weaves back through my life to points of origin that are not only sentimental, but deliberately placed there by the important people in my life who raised me. Part of being alive as opposed to half-dead or socially subdued is that you feel things. And I feel things, lots of things—because I have never turned my mind off to the world. I love movies, I love music, I love visiting places, I love food, I love family, I love books, I love comic books, but probably more than anything in my life besides family, I love bullwhips, and I was elated to discover recently that one of the great whip makers with ties to Western Stage Props had made three bullwhips for the upcoming Disney film The Lone Ranger. I was happy to hear that Joe Strain from his business The Northern Whip Company had supplied the whips for the grand revisit to the Old West by The Lone Ranger because it would not only help my friends in the bullwhip industry who make large parts of their livings off sharing their unique skills with the public, but that the modern makers of The Lone Ranger were going to pay tribute to the use of the whip in the classic stories that took place from the 1930s to the late 1950s. Not only would the new Lone Ranger from Disney pay direct tribute to the classic silver bullet mythology, the tenacious horse named “Silver,” the “William Tell Overture,” a very ambitious rendition of Tonto played by Johnny Depp, but they were even going to put a few whip scenes in the film, which used to be a standard in westerns.
I watched every television episode of The Lone Ranger at some point of my life at least once. I used to watch it with my grandfather when I was a very small child. CLICK HERE FOR MORE. When I was a kid it was a combination of The Lone Ranger, Disney’s Zorro, John Wayne westerns, and Clint Eastwood westerns that I watched with my family as entertainment before there was ever a Star Wars, or an Indiana Jones. In most of those old westerns, a bullwhip was the secondary weapon of choice on many occasions. So I grew up with a tremendous reverence for the bullwhip as have many of my friends from the bullwhip world who are seen scattered throughout this article in videos of their own displaying their love of a uniquely American art form. In fact the only place in the world where the bullwhip holds even more reverence than in America is in Australia. It is there that the whip maker who made the two whips seen hanging from my holsters in the picture above resides–Terry Jacka.
I know a lot of great whip makers in America, but I have a particular fondness for Terry Jacka’s whips. In them he has put his 35 plus years of work into works of art that are extremely responsive, and very, very accurate. They are among my two most valuable possessions in the entire world and are almost always with me no matter where I go. When I travel, I travel with them. When I stay at a hotel in some faraway land, the whips go with me, and I practice with them. Without them, I feel incomplete. And the most fulfilled that I feel each year is when I get to participate in the annual Annie Oakley Festival put on by my friend Gery Deer, because I get to wear my favorite Terry Jacka whips around everywhere I go for the day in public without it causing any kind of trouble. CLICK HERE TO REVIEW. You can learn more about Terry and his Australian Whip Company at the link below.
In the typical Lone Ranger stories, the hero Texas Ranger Reid is gunned down with a group of fellow Rangers and left for dead by a group of thugs who wish to inject crony capitalism into their local business operations. (Do not confuse this with pure capitalism which I support adamantly) To do so, they gun down the legitimate law so that they can make easy prey of the people they wish to exploit. It’s a classic theme that can be seen in virtually every western made and no matter how many hundreds of westerns I have seen, I never tire of the message. It is a theme I resurrected in my novel The Symposium of Justice in 2004 which essentially was a modern western set in the current time, and featured the marketing slogan “Justice Comes with the Crack of a Whip.” I enjoyed tremendously the opportunities writing that novel gave me, the ability to do some stunt work for the World Stunt Association, make public appearances, and even do some consulting work in feature films, CLICK HERE TO REVIEW. I understood why my bullwhip friends enjoyed traveling the country doing tricks for audiences and performing in large shows. But from 2007 to 2009 I was getting the overwhelming feeling that something of a real Lone Ranger was needed in the actual world and I wasn’t quite sure how to go about it. As I looked around at the diminishing crowds at some of the western events I attended and my friends with their commitment to traditional western arts were looking more antiquated each year by audiences who were rapidly losing an understanding of the typical values displayed in film westerns, I had noticed that a similar evil that was clear in the old Lone Ranger episodes was sucking the life out of the world around us, and I wasn’t content to just write about it in books, and show up on movie sets earning acclaim from top actors, directors, and producers just because I had a unique talent. I felt an overwhelming desire to not just talk about it, or write about it, but to actually fight for the values of the Lone Ranger in real life.
Obviously I didn’t put on a mask and grab a horse and run around in the middle of the night ripping the heads off bad guys with my whip. The evil of our modern age—the social villain that is destroying the American western is not a direct enemy that required a direct fight. It was a subtle one that was killing America with a thousand cuts, and I had to find a way to identify it, and fight it on terms I controlled. In the middle of getting constant invitations to appear in very lucrative job assignments using my bullwhip to make a good living, I changed direction and did what all my friends would agree was a terrible move for anyone who wanted to work in the entertainment field—I became politically involved. I picked the biggest bully on my personal block that was as close to the evil Cavendish gang from The Lone Ranger that I could see and pushed back against their tyranny. I took my skills from years of working with bullwhips and applied it directly to a political fight that was desperately needed, because I wanted to defend my love of America from forces that wanted to eradicate it. Sure it would harm my work in entertainment, and it would bring me personal anxiety, but then that is why the Lone Ranger had to wear a mask. Ironically the villain in my neighborhood which was the greatest threat to my love of westerns and the values they articulate was my local school district of Lakota, a government school committed to draining the community of taxes, and programming children into progressive thought—the anti-western concept. So I dialed up the media I had made with my contacts nurtured in entertainment and filmed the video below called A Whip Trick to Save America.
The whip trick video was featured on The Blaze by Glenn Beck’s new enterprise during its opening weekend. CLICK FOR REVIEW. Just a few days later I did a personal interview with The Cincinnati Enquirer where I spoke out openly against the tax increases proposed by the school and I did whip tricks for the reporters knowing full well what would follow. I knew that the established order of things would attempt to paint me as a radical traditionalist who was so in love with the “old days” that I couldn’t see the wonderful benefits of “progress” as it has been brought to America by intelligentsia, CLICK TO REVIEW. At the time, I had been involved in many personal fights with others, one on one, or otherwise, and had no problem with direct conflict. But as I was writing The Symposium of Justice and telling the story of Fletcher Finnegan, who was a modern masked outlaw named “Cliffhanger,” I had a persistent nagging desire to prove a theory that I had constructed in the book which had to be proven for the follow-up novel, which is how one man can take on a giant statist organization and survive. In my novel, it was the heroics of Cliffhanger that inspired good people in the town of Fort Seven-Mile to join together and form Cliffhanger’s Fighting Legion, to fight tyranny all the way to the powers that pulled the strings of political puppets beyond the reach of Washington D.C. Fletcher Finnegan was my modern version of The Lone Ranger, a masked man who instead of a silver bullet, used bullwhips to bring justice to the world. But for me, that wasn’t enough. I wanted to strike at the heart of the evil, not just the reaction to it, which had always bothered me about every western I had ever seen. It was one thing to fight evil and stand for the good, but what was the cause of the evil? To answer that I had to go on a dark quest of my own.
The bull whip video had started me down a road for justice and soon after I was doing many radio broadcasts, granting interviews to the AP, and speaking on television. As I had been working with several local Tea Party groups, I had grown concerned that my work with the whips might draw bad publicity for them so I backed off some of my public bull whip presentations relying instead on my speaking ability to perform the pursuit of justice. At this point I was already deep into my experimental theory which I am about to reveal the result. Over the next couple of years I found that like the Lone Ranger, I had put on a kind of social mask to protect the people I cared about in the Tea Party movement, and traded business attire as my mask, keeping the whip hidden from a media that was looking for every opportunity to paint me as an extremist radical that wanted to destroy the lives of children—instead of saving them.
What I learned during this endeavor is exactly what I set out to understand. Government statists spread their evil by creating anti-concepts. If the American western was about creating in the mind of viewers a “concept” about tradition, and value, then the anti-concept was about destroying that value. This was the cause of the declining popularity of the American western and why my bull whip friends were finding declining interest in their art form over the years. This anti-concept theory is being taught in public schools to metaphorically deliver the souls of millions of young people to the slavery of a giant Cavendish gang represented in reality by statist governments all over the world. Before I started all this activity the biggest fear that small government activists had was retaliation, particularly from labor unions set up like parasites in government institutions such as public schools, and IRS agencies. These unions got what they wanted by acting identically to the gangs of the Old West who robbed trains, stole cattle, and harassed settlers. They used force, or the threat of it, to take what they wanted and imposed fear on their victims so they could maintain their regional power. These statists functioned from misleading facts through the formation of the “anti-concept”—by stripping away values from society. The way to destroy a concept is with open attack, using the threat of force, or by subversion, by undercutting the value of an argument. For instance with the public school mentioned, they failed to recognize the need for their tax increase was caused by their mismanaged finances. They associated the value of education to money equaling goodness for children even though the facts had nothing to do with that reality. If someone challenged that premise, the union would show up in collective force to protest the school board sending a message to the community that if anyone stood in their way, they’d be vandalized, personally harassed, their children would be tortured in various degrees, and they’d be turned into social outcasts. Because of this threat, nobody challenged them, even the so-called wealthy elite who understood clearly what was happening but were unable to do anything about it for fear that their businesses would come under attack by union thugs and social radicals. What the unions were doing was no different from what the Cavendish gang did in The Lone Ranger. They used fear to impose their statist will on the innocent.
It is one thing to think such a thing, but quite another to speak out against it. After all, nobody wants to be called a mean, selfish, or a diabolical menace to the fibers of an interconnected society which is how the villains in this case had destroyed the concept of goodness. They had subverted entire communities into sitting on their hands and not speaking out in fear of being considered socially as an outcast—or even an outlaw. I theorized in The Symposium of Justice that the way to beat these types of villains was to challenge their premise with the question “why.” When the statist enemy cannot answer, which they never can, they then turn to force. This is where my hero Fletcher Finnegan/Cliffhanger used his bullwhips to impose justice on those who tried to use force to remove the concept of goodness from society. My problem was that I knew such an idea worked in small combat situations with fewer than ten combatants at a time from personal experience. But I wasn’t sure if the same could be applied to statist government all the way to the top of the food chain which is what my next novel in the series is all about.
When I did the Enquirer interview Mike Clark asked me if I knew what I was doing in bringing my whips to the front page of Cincinnati’s largest paper. I knew as he asked the question that I was looking at a future Judas, a betrayer who would pretend to be a friend just like the villain in The Lone Ranger who led the Texas Rangers to their deaths in the canyon trap set by the Cavendish gang. But this time, I would use the bait to my advantage—and I did. I knew that if the threat of personal harm was removed from the unions’ arsenal of weapons that they’d be defenseless against me because they certainly couldn’t answer any questions regarding “why.” When I have my Terry Jacka whips, nobody is going to bring personal harm to me with any melee weapon. For those hired thugs who don’t care to use a firearm, the decision of that kind falls into a level of thuggery that our current statist society still recognizes as bad, so it doesn’t happen often and that is when firearms are needed for defense. But for all other circumstances, no gang of thugs can bring harm to a person who can use bullwhips in the fashion that I do. By presenting my whips to the unions all across the State of Ohio through popular media, I had taken away the weapon that all statist organizations use to impose their will, the threat of force. This allowed me to give many dozens of interviews to the media against unarmed opposition because the statist representatives of public schools could not answer the “why” and they could not stop me with force. So they were unable to stop me and this remains the case to this day. Without thuggish force, without bringing harm to others, they have no ground to stand on. The way to beat them time and time again is to ask them “why” which they can never answer, and then to let it be known that physical force, social intimidation, and extortion will not serve them. When they learn that, their game is over. They cannot win with facts of any kind.
When I say, “Justice Comes with the Crack of a Whip” this is what is meant; that statist villains have had their most important weapon removed from them—the ability to apply force. This is why whips were so popular in the early westerns like The Lone Ranger and Zorro, because they represented the “concept” of justice in a way that does not involve killing your opponent. The whip allows the wielder an ability to disarm those who wish to use force against others. The bull whip cuts like a knife, is far faster than a pair of nunchucks, and much more versatile than a sword, staff, or baseball bat. In short, a person who learns to use the bull whip anywhere close to the kind of people shown in the videos on this article know in their mind that nobody can harm them in one-on-one or group combat. That self-assurance is a measure of freedom that allows goodness to be seen clearly, and solutions to statism are then solved.
As The Lone Ranger puts on his mask in the new Disney film, I’m taking mine off. I am no longer concerned about what anybody thinks about my use of the bullwhip as I have made my point. For me, the bull whip is a symbol of justice because it prevents those who wish to steal away righteousness from the innocent eliminating the ability to invoke any fear to do so. It forces statist opponents to take the next step which involves more lethal force and in this way the “ground” to combat is controlled by the whip holder, because they know what their opponent is going to do since their options are so limited. Before that next step, which obviously the Clinton’s have no problem utilizing, CLICK HERE FOR REVIEW; decisions have to be made on how the public perception of such an action can be justified. Most statist enemies lack this type of arrogance, or network to pull off such a feat, so they are paralyzed when threat of force is removed from their social holsters, and that is invoked by the bull whip.
There are many great whip makers in the world for my money; Terry Jacka is the absolute best. Right up there with him is Joe Strain and my old friend Paul Nolan who was seen in the video on the pillars at sunset with his wife and friend T-Rex. A lot of whip masters don’t talk about it, but when they put a whip in their hand the power they feel is not one to inflict pain and suffering on other people the way some statist slave master might think. What they feel is the power to defend themselves from any melee force that might attempt to enter their barrier of protection. Speaking personally, when you see a whip artist standing at the center of a two-handed Queensland Crossover, or other two-handed routine, they know they are standing in the middle of spinning knives that can cut to shreds anyone who tries to penetrate that parameter. When I wear my Jacka whips with the long 12” handles pointing out like Samurai swords on both sides of my hip I do so to have quick access to them off my quick release holsters, which were specially designed for me by Gery Deer. I know when I walk around with them that I have complete control over my life because the whip keeps anybody who might wish me harm from entering my parameter of individuality, and that is a wonderful feeling.
It is in this spirit that the bull whip was used in the Old West mythology as a symbol of justice instead of pain. The greatest of them all was Lash LaRue who was known as The King of the Bullwhip. He was another of my favorite western protagonists. So it brought me great delight to see that Disney had purchased three whips from The Northern Whip Company to be featured in the new Lone Ranger film. I would love to see a film where whips are used in them to the level that Lash LaRue or Zorro did, but I’ll be very happy to see a scene or two with the Lone Ranger bringing about a bullwhip to implement justice in a way that only bullwhip masters understand.
As for me, the bullwhip is an important part of my life, and I am taking the social mask I put on for a brief time off. The justice I seek doesn’t require a mask, because in the hands of a bull whip master, there is nothing to fear. It would be my hope that I could share this self-assurance with as many people possible so that they too could learn such a skill that would free them from the tyranny of fear that so cripples such vast majorities with the constant threat of personal harm while in pursuit of honor.
Check out Joe Strain’s bull whips for yourself. I’m sure he will have replicas of the ones he made for The Lone Ranger available soon.
Also, check out my friend Paul Nolan who also makes great whips.
Another great champion of the bull whip sport is Adam Winrich. He is a wonderful whip maker, but spends most of his time these days doing professional gigs. He also has dozens and dozens of instructional videos on technique some seen here on this article.
Then of course there’s Chris Camp who laid the foundation for many world record endeavors and stays busy as a whip professional traveling the world with his family for many corporate clients.
And if you want to take some classes on how to get started in a nice comfortable bull whip training studio that is just a short drive north of Cincinnati, contact my friend Gery Deer. It’s the only one of its kind in the world. Most of the names mentioned have attended Gery’s Annie Oakley Western Showcase event each year in Ohio during the last weekend of July.
But the first step is in deciding not to live in fear, then learning what can be done about it. Justice Comes with the Crack of a Whip, and for each of us, there is nothing more important.
Every year I look forward to the Star Wars weekends at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. It is one of the wonderful opportunities for philosophy, fantasy, ingenuity and the best aspects of human nature to converge at a palace of capitalism and celebrate the existence of one of the greatest stories of all time. I love the energy, optimism, and opportunity that Star Wars offers individuals and families everywhere. Many die-hard Star Wars fans converge every year in the middle of May to attend the fabulous Star Wars Weekend events. For those who cannot attend, I offer these clips from the spectacle taken during the opening day ceremonies on Friday, May 17, 2013.
Sit back, grab a snack and enjoy the fun and pleasure of entertainment shown in the videos below!
After my article a few weeks ago on the soft drink, Mello Yello the marketing team noticed and contacted me to let me know they appreciated my dedication to their product. You can see their comments from that first contact at the bottom of that posting.I have only ever drank one kind of soft drink, and that is Mello Yello, so I was particularly impressed to come home on Friday to a box from the Coca Cola company in Atlanta, Georgia. Inside the box were a number of Mello Yello marketing items that the company had sent me that made a good day even better.
They sent me a T-shirt, a long sleeve shirt, a hat, a pen, a notebook, and a thank you note, which meant a lot coming from a company that I have silently been very loyal to for a number of years. I had just enough time to open the box and scan through the items before getting ready to take my kids and their significant others out to the movie theater to see the long-awaited Prometheus. So I put on my new Mello Yello T-shirt, and my Mello Yello hat, and I grabbed the Mello Yello notebook with pen to give to my oldest daughter, and we left for the movie.
Of course I looked like a walking billboard for Mello Yello when my daughter let me into their townhouse where I gave her the notebook. She tends to write almost as much as I do, so I knew she would put it to good use. I also knew my kids would get a kick out of seeing all the Mello Yello gear, because in our family, it’s well known my love of Mello Yello. We don’t all get together as easily as we used to because we all have busy lives, so getting the Mello Yello clothing in time for our long-planned movie was a nice addition to a wonderful evening.
For Prometheus my wife wanted to see it on the IMAX screen at Showcase Cinemas in Springdale, which I think is the best movie screen in the Cincinnati area. Of course the film was in 3D like they all are these days, just like film producers promised when they flew me out to Los Angeles a few years ago to do a fire whip sequence and prove out the use of a 3D camera system for Real D 3D with Peter Facinelli. I had at that time a lot of skepticism that audiences would flock to theaters to put on 3D glasses and watch a movie with just a little extra thrill factor. Women who go out on dates spending a lot of time fixing up their hair just right I didn’t think would be interested in putting on glasses that would smear their make-up. People who naturally wear glasses have to now look through two glasses to see anything in a 3D movie, which is a pain in the neck. But Hollywood was committed to the idea of 3D just prior to Obama becoming president because they were pushed by theaters owners all over the United States to justify their investments in state of the art projection systems, giant theaters, and comfortable seating.
Hollywood like the education industry is facing the same kind of economic bubble that the housing industry has already experienced, and it’s bursting. In Hollywood, it was the films of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg in the 1980’s that set the modern idea of what a “blockbuster” was. Every year since the release of E.T. and the last of the original Star Wars films Hollywood has tried to copy the box office numbers of those films by pushing for larger stunts, larger and louder explosions, and faster paced film techniques driven largely by the music video generation created by MTV. Most of the films Hollywood produce each year falls short of executive expectations, but the pressure has been on for quite some time to get larger box office totals as the entertainment unions have driven up the financial expectations higher and higher. Leading actors now for a picture make between $20 million to $30 million, so budgets for a typical summer blockbuster are now up over $150 million dollars routinely. Hollywood has increasingly had to rely on overseas sales to complement their box office take domestically in order to justify their massive up front investments. Revenue streams are changing for the industry as well, as ticket prices have went up to compensate the increasingly high budgets for films, technology has made it so people can often watch films at home more comfortably than at a movie theater. Just the other day I was at Wal-Mart where I looked at a beautiful 70” big screen LCD television that was just over $2,000 dollars. Hollywood now has to find a way to give people an experience at the theater that they can’t get at home, so 3D is their solution. And it’s failing.
I say 3D is failing not with pleasure in my voice, but sadness. I love the movie theater experience, which is why I made a tremendous ritual of taking all my kids to a movie and spending $100 on tickets that cost over $15 each to see Prometheus with my Mello Yello gear on to create memories that will last a lifetime. I wanted them to have a great night out at the movies where going to the theater is like going to a sacred mythic temple as modern mythology is bestowed upon the moviegoer.
Prior to our film beginning I watched the previews for the newest rendition of Spiderman, and Batman, and half a dozen 3D extravaganzas that I could see will end up in the same scrap heap as Battleship and John Carter. It’s not to say that those films are bad, or don’t have a market niche to fill, but studios are forced to spend over $100 million to make those films because of expectations, and ticket prices are simply too high, most people will wait to watch those films on video, or Netflix. Every movie cannot be Star Wars, Jurassic Park, Pirates of the Caribbean, or The Avengers. Most Hollywood producers are fearful to attempt these days to develop original material because the risk is simply too great. Even a popular book like John Carter may not be enough to guarantee success. As I watched the previews prior to Prometheus, I knew that 75% of those films would be box office disappointments. They were dead before they have even arrived, because of the laws of quality described in Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. The Hollywood producers and entertainment agents more than ever are chasing dreams like the founders of California’s gold rush. They are digging for gold where it’s been discovered instead of looking where nobody has discovered it yet, because they are functioning in the back of the “train” so to speak.
Needless to say the film I took my family to Prometheus was spectacular, and it should have been for $100 bucks. I had no regrets in seeing that movie especially since everyone enjoyed the film tremendously. But as I stood in the lobby of Showcase Cinemas afterward in my bright yellow Mello Yello gear a wave of sadness swept over me realizing that the financial structure that made the whole movie theater business run was about to bust. Prometheus represented the best that Hollywood had to offer, and at $15 dollars a ticket, it barely seemed worth it. I can’t image paying that kind of price for a lesser movie, yet the movie industry is counting on it, and they will be disappointed.
The same holds true in the movie industry as it does with President Obama not understanding that European economic models built around socialism is the cause of their failure, and The United States allowing for a mixed economy of a little socialism here and there sprinkled with bits of capitalism is what has caused Obama’s failed economy during his presidency. He’s as clueless as the typical film executive who will find themselves out of a job in a couple of years because their films failed to meet the market expectations. Hollywood is looking for the Justice League to fill the market void of George Lucas retiring. That was on my mind because just a few days before Mello Yello sent me all that merchandise I received a press release from Lucasfilm stating Lucas was officially retiring, and that Kathleen Kennedy was stepping in to help fill the void at that billion dollar film company. Kennedy is a long time assistant to many Spielberg films and now she’s going to work full-time at Lucasfilm. This is a serious indication that Hollywood’s creative core is aging, and moving on to other things, and the next generations of Hollywood filmmakers and other above-the-line talent are functioning from the back of Pirsig’s quality train, and will fail under the heavy expectations.
I thought it was appropriate that I was wearing a Mello Yello T-shirt on a night when I was having all these thoughts. Way back in 1994 and 1995 I wanted to buy a Mello Yello T-shirt, but then frustrated executives at Coca Cola were upset that the soft drink did not perform equivalent to Mountain Dew, so they pulled the drink for a bit and changed it to the soft drink “Serge,” so I didn’t get my Mello Yello shirt. This went on for a while until executives at the Coca Cola Company realized that this would not boost their sales, so they had sacrificed a very good drink just because it arrived late to the marketing gate, and if they had held strong, they might have made real gains through the late 90’s into the next century. Mello Yello made its triumphant return slowly, and is just now beginning to be purchased in the northern states of America. The same day I went to Wal-Mart to see the big screen television, they had three 12 packs of Mello Yello on their shelf. My wife bought all three of them. A couple of years ago, Wal-Mart in Ohio did not carry Mello Yello at all.
Mello Yello has always been a great drink, but it was judged based on the blockbuster success of Mountain Dew, and it suffered as a result. The same thing is about to happen in the film industry. Many films will suffer as film executives lose their jobs in the years to come due to the entertainment bubble collapsing under the enormous weight of expectation. And like Mello Yello, I have my brands of filmmakers that I support valiantly, and Ridley Scott is one of them. When my “brands” make a film that I know they poured their heart and soul into it, I go and see them. The next film I feel passionate about will be Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit. I will pay top dollar to see that movie as a kind of vote for what I think success in a movie should be, to help curb the disappointment from an industry that expects too much, and is collapsing under inflated opinions. Twenty years from now, like my previous twenty years of supporting Mello Yello, I’m sure some of these very good film studios will re-emerge from the wreckage that is about to become of the film industry, and I’ll be there to support them as I was to see the great film Prometheus and one of the great offerings of the year from 20th Century Fox.
I proudly put my Mello Yello gear away when I got home that night and contemplated all that you read here today. And because of that, it means more to me than the moment that I opened it. In capitalism, whether it’s a movie, or a soft drink, the idea came from the mind of a capitalist, and millions of people enjoy the results of those thoughts—and every instance is a thing of beauty. I cherish Mello Yello because it’s been through so much as a company and even with all that, they still have the swagger about them to send me a box full of Mello Yello fun on the eve of taking my family to see the film Prometheus. It was an evening of ideas, and capitalism, and crushing expectations. But at the end of the day, it is the ideas that burn not so much brightest, but longest that survive. And Mello Yello survives, in the same way that many others will endure as great minds who think at the front of the train emerge to give great ideas a place to materialize. Each time I wear my Mello Yello T-shirt, it will not be out of blind devotion to a soft drink, but out of reverence to a company that I cherish because it makes a great product, and has had the tenacity to weather the storms of economic betrayal to arrive at a day when it can please the taste buds of millions.
For anyone who doubts even a little that capitalism is the ultimate economy of a free people, one only as to look at the great amusement parks and roller coasters from Central Florida. Below is a recent video from Attractions Magazine which begins in my favorite amusement park in the entire world, the Epcot Center.
The Star Wars Weekend just opened at Hollywood Studios and here are some clips from that opening ceremony. Star Wars as an idea could never have manifested in a country like Russia, China, Greece, France, or any African country not because of skin color, or even financial viability. The key is in the ability to think and appreciate freedom, allowing fans to participate in a living mythology as evident in this parade where people from all over the world come to pay tribute to their favorite Star Wars characters both as a participants and as spectators.
And in a capitalist oriented culture it is in the freedom of musical expression, and theatrical expression that pop culture merges with myth in the very popular dance-off that was shown on opening night.
As many people these days are confused as to what kind of politics they should support, it is only capitalism that makes all the dreams and talents of Central Florida come to life. And what a wonderful culture we have because of it. I am thankful every time I get the opportunity to see the latest and greatest of entertainment in Central Florida.
This is what people are saying about my new book–Tail of the Dragon