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Match Play is a golf/suspense novel. Dust of Autumn is a bloody one set in upstate New York. Prairie View is set in South Dakota, with a final scene atop Rattlesnake Butte. Life in the Arbor is a children's book about Rollie Rabbit and his friends (on about a fourth grade level). The Black Widow involves an elaborate extortion scheme. Doggy-Dog World is my memoir. And ES3 is a description of my method for examining English sentence structure.
In case anyone is interested in any of my past posts, an archive list can be found at the bottom of this page.
My newest novel, Happy Valley, can be found here.

Monday, March 4

One-Eyed Jacks & Zero Tolerance

Netflix again, this time with an old Western I think I liked a long time ago--One-Eyed Jacks directed by and starring Marlon Brando and Karl Malden. Despite the washed out color and the all-too intrusive musical score, this was as I remembered it, one of the all-time best Westerns. And most of the credit for that lies with Brando. He was one of the best actors ever and he was up to the task here as the "kid," Rio the bank robber partnered with Dad Longworth (Karl Malden). The plot was simple enough, with betrayal and vengeance right out of Greek tragedy. Malden is the betrayer, leaving Rio and taking off with the gold from their last bank job in Sonora, Mexico, leaving Rio to his capture and 5-year imprisonment in the prison at Sonora. He and a buddy manage to escape, and all Rio wants is to find Malden and kill him. He runs into Bob Amory (Ben Johnson) who is planning to rob a bank and wants Rio and his friend to join him, with the added incentive that Amory knows where Dad Longworth is--now a wealthy sheriff in Monterey, California. The scenery along the coast is as breathtaking in this 1960 film as it is now when I see it at the Pebble Beach golf tournament. Longworth is married to Maria (Katy Jurado)and has taken her daughter Louisa as his own. Rio, when the sheriff sees him, assures "Dad" that there were no hard feelings about their parting in Mexico. But the viewer knows better. The rest of it involves the inevitable coming together of Rio and Louisa, Rio's shooting and killing a bad guy, Malden's whipping Rio and crushing his hand, then throwing him into jail to await a trial and his hanging. But Rio, with Louisa's help, manages to escape and flee north with Amory and the others to heal and plan his revenge. Good flick, Brando at his best (much younger and slimmer and more handsome than in his Godfather days. Malden was also much younger and slimmer than is his Streets of San Francisco days. And his nose hadn't yet grown to the grand proboscis he would have later on.

A comment on the zero tolerance policies in some schools recently, relating to students who bring in guns or knoves. Okay, so there must be a policy forbidding students to bring in stuff that could be harmful or even lethal to other students. Right. But when schools also expel kids in kindergarten or first or second grades who point a thing made out of lego blocks and go "Kachoo! Kachoo!" or who have a bubble-blowing gun, or who, god forbid, point a finger at a classmate and go "Bang!" they've taken Zero back to about negative 100. There should be some rational adjustment behind zero tolerance. I remember when I grew up (yes, a long time ago) we had cap guns we could use to play Cops & Robbers, or in the summer we could have elaborate war games in the park with our rubber guns (homemade wooden guns and rifles with Mom's clothespin attached to hold a stretched piece of innertube) and hardly anyone thought we really meant any harm when we pointed an index finger at someone and went "Bang!" Beebee guns were a little more dangerous, but never lethal. And slingshots, although potentially dangerous, were never, in my memory, used to shoot at another human being. Come on, schools and school administrators, use your heads.
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