Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Modern Day Heroes: John Wayne

John Wayne from The Comancheros. 1961.
John Wayne was the original movie tough guy.

He rode a mean horse. He carried a shotgun and a brace of pistols, and in most of his movies, he was pretty good with his fists, which meant he could punch out the bad guy’s lights without working up a sweat. 

Too bad his parents saddled him with a girl’s name. Marion Morrison[1] wasn’t a good name for a movie star. Especially, if he planned on specializing in tough guy roles.

Johnny Cash could very well have lifted the idea for "A Man Named Sue" from John Wayne’s life story. I have no doubt that name turned Wayne into the tough son-of-a-bitch that he became.

Not too long ago, another bad ass named David Morrell wrote a short book about John Wayne.[2] And, let me assure you, David knows a thing or two about tough guys. If you don't recognize the name, David is the man who wrote First Blood. That book unleashed John Rambo on the world. 

Johnny Rambo was a Vietnam veteran, who suffered from PTSD. In the book, Rambo got pushed a little too hard by a local sheriff because he had long hair. All I can tell you is big mistake. Rambo took out most of that town before he got taken down. 

John Wayne came from the same stock as John Rambo. 

He didn't take shit. From anyone.

A Moveable Feast, Hemingway on the Writing Life in Paris of the 1920s

A Moveable Feast covers Ernest Hemingway’s early years in Paris stretching from 1922 to 1925. He was poor then, often going hungry, but it doesn’t seem that way as you read the story. He always found money to bet on the races, and for travel, and dining out.

He had so many friends. Some famous, others like himself, crawling their way up out of the gutter. There was Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, James Joyce, Sylvia Beach (the owner of the Shakespeare and Company Bookstore), and F. Scott Fitzgerald just after the publication of The Great Gatsby (when it wasn’t selling).

And, there was gambling and drinking, and literary talk, and Zelda Fitzgerald’s plunge into insanity.

Paris was good and evil combined. But, it was all about the people.

Gertrude Stein “was very big but not tall and was heavily built like a peasant woman.” She talked constantly, advising Hemingway not to worry so much about food or fancy clothes. He should save his money and invest in quality art. Don’t buy the every day, look for talented artists your own age, and invest in them.

More than anything, he needed to watch his wife. Her desire for fine clothes, shoes, and expensive food could ruin him.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Book Review: Brain Fart by Peter Hollins (It's not what you think)

An interesting look at a phenomenon that afflicts everyone. Whether it comes out of your brain or the other end - it can be embarrassing. Peter Hollins takes a fascinating look at the dilemma by examining how our brains work (or don't work). Suffice it to say; there's a lot of science involved. However, not to worry. The author delivers it in slow, easily digestible bites.

Here's a peek inside at a few scientific tidbits you will pick up along the way.



  1. It should come as no surprise, two of our biggest influences are the people around us and where we find ourselves. If you are in a scary house on a stormy night with a total weenie - plan ahead. Bring a Change of undies!
  2. Going back to number one, peer pressure is everything. If someone hands you a dollar bill and everyone else tells you it is a twenty, the odds are you are going to agree with them. Remember that first joint you smoked in your college dorm? Common sense told you not to do it, but you could not say no because everyone else was doing it. It goes back to your parent's question if everyone else jumped off a steep cliff, would you? Correct answer: Maybe.
  3. As long as something appears to make sense, our brains tend to gloss over the details. Sure there is a little oil on the ground under that used car, but that body is so sweet. The same goes for that girl with the big breasts and the creepy laugh. Looks trump laughter.
  4. Advertisers and salespeople prey on your emotions. Tell me it ain't so.
I will not give away any more details.

Rest assured it is a quick, easy read. I do not think it will help prevent those thousand and one brain farts I have every day. It may help me understand why they occur.


That is good enough for me.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Letters from a deranged mind, or my take on last year's election (Part 2 - Hillary Clinton)

CanStock Photos
(This post is an excerpt from my book, Laughing All the Way to the White House. It's a crazy look at the presidential candidates, penned by an inmate locked away in a fictional insane asylum. Coincidentally, he has the same name as mine.)

Dear Hillary:

So, I read an article that said you hadn't driven a car since 1996.

I know this may sound petty, but—that does make it seem as if you’re out of touch with the typical guy or gal on the street. I mean everyone else in America either has to drive their car, or hop the bus, or train to get to work. We have to make car payments, pay for repairs, and did I mention—gas! It’s relatively cheap now, but where were you when everyone else was paying $4.00 per gallon? Oh! That’s right; you were being chauffeured around in a limousine escorted by secret service agents, and flying around the world on a private jet, or on Air Force One.

It doesn’t seem fair.

When was the last time you cooked your own meal, scrubbed a toilet, or picked up dog shit in the backyard?

Far be it from me to question your lifestyle, but how can you represent America, if you don’t know what it’s like to be an American?

Just saying—with all this coddling it’s very likely you’ve lost touch with reality.

If you want to earn my vote, get a customer service job for six months. If you don’t wind up in a mental institution, you’ve got my vote.

Your friend,

Nick

Monday, February 6, 2017

Letters from a deranged mind, or my take on last year's election (Part 1 - Donald Trump)

CanStock Photos
(This post is an excerpt from my book, Laughing All the Way to the White House. It's a crazy look at the presidential candidates, penned by an inmate locked away in a fictional insane asylum. Coincidentally, he has the same name as mine.)

Dear Mr. Trump:

Just wanted to let you know, I haven’t laughed so hard since watching the Watergate hearings on TV in the early seventies. It’s about time we had a candidate who’s not afraid to speak his mind.

Building a wall along the Mexican border sounds a little out there, but it should put hundreds of thousands of Americans back to work, not to mention—it has all the makings of a great archaeological dig two thousand years into the future. Unless of course, the apes actually take over—then all bets are off.

What amazes me is your lack of creativity. You’ve overlooked a major selling point for the wall. Let me toss this idea out there, and see what you think.

What if we sold naming rights?

The Mexicans are footing the bill for the entire project—right? If that’s the case naming rights are a no brainer. It’s one hundred percent pure profit. When you need more money, you just raise the rates or offer another sponsorship.

Cities and Sports teams do this all the time with stadiums. As a businessman, I think you, if anyone, should recognize the moneymaking potential of selling naming rights. You could do it by city—state—region—the sky is the limit.

And, have you ever thought of offering inscribed bricks or paving stones?

People buy bricks all the time for waterfront and downtown revitalization projects. Why wouldn’t they want to be part of a wall that encompasses the entire Mexican / American border?

Not only is it a patriotic move. It could be a major step forward in revitalizing the American economy.

Dare I suggest, anyone who doesn’t buy a brick should be booted south of the wall? Why settle for just deporting the Mexicans, when you can eliminate cheap ass bastards, welfare dregs, and other scum who refuse to pay their fair share.

Your friend,

Nick

Did I ever tell you about that time I met David Morrell, Walt Howerton, Jane Fonda, Tom Hayden, Gus Hall, and that other guy

David Morrell
(photo by Phil Konstantin)
Looking back on it, TV might have played too big of a part in my childhood. Every memory I have revolves around some sixties or seventies TV series.

I turned five in 1963. The Beatles made their debut on the Ed Sullivan Show. Later that year we watched JFK get his brains blown out on live TV. For years after that, I remember watching reruns of his horse-drawn casket pulled down Pennsylvania Avenue.

By the mid-sixties, we were riveted to the TV set as “Uncle Walter” Cronkite brought us the war live from Vietnam. War correspondents droned on about guerilla fighting; I read a comic book that showed oversized gorillas carrying machine guns and bazookas through the jungles. Dumbass that I was, I thought they were real fricking monkeys slugging it out over there.

1966 brought us the Monkees. Adam West debuted as Batman. He danced the Batusi, had a way cool ride – the Bat Mobile, and whenever he laid hands on the bad guys, they flashed those really cool signs—Bam! Ka-Pow! Owie!

In 1969 Neal Armstrong walked on the moon. That’s “one small step for man, one large step for mankind.” We traveled halfway across the country in the back of a station wagon, visiting Vegas and California. All I remember is we didn’t have air conditioning. When you rolled down the windows in the Painted Desert hot air lapped your face like a sick dog.

 In 1970 a friend of mine swallowed a strange purple pill. Jughead jumped out of an Archie comic book and talked to him. What the f*#k!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

What Blazing Saddles taught me about life, racism, liberty, justice, and all that other stuff


On a scale of one to ten, I’d give Blazing Saddles an eleven. Mel Brooks is the funniest son-of-a-bitch I've never met.

Who can forget Sheriff Bart (Cleavon Little) delivering a "Candygram for Mongo?" Or, Madeline Khan! Name one woman sexier than Madeline Khan when she sang "I'm so tired."

It can't be done.

Underlying the whole show you can feel the tug of racism—“Niggers,” “Jews,” “Irish,” “Chinks.” Brooks didn’t miss a single group. The movie’s a comedy, but it’s all about racism, politics, and people coming together to change their own little world.


At the beginning of the movie, the railroad foreman encouraged the work crew to sing a good negro song. "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" or "Camp Town Lady." The boys didn’t know any of those songs. Instead, they sang "I get no kick from Champagne.”

The foreman tried to get them started by singing a few bars. In no time, his men were singing and dancing around trying to show the blacks, Chinese, and Irish what they wanted. Just as they were getting into it, Slim Pickens, the head honcho rode in and screamed: "about them jumping around and looking like a gang of Kansas City faggots.”