Movie Review: Living the Life (2000)

Throughout history, Hollywood has taken many great works of literature and literally trashed them, making horrible movies out of them. The same is also true of adaptations of lesser works of fiction. One novel in the latter category is Lynne Ewing’s 1998 young adult novel “Party Girl” the rights for which were bought by a movie company that proceeded to make the subject of this review that was allegedly based on Ewing’s work.

Living the Life starring Jay Hernandez and a bunch of untalented hack actors and actresses has almost nothing in common with Ewing’s novel except that it is set in a neighborhood in a rundown area of Los Angeles. Not only does the movie have a different name than the novel, but most of the character’s names are different and the plot is almost completely different. Whereas Ewing’s novel was about a teenage girl whose life revolved around partying, Living the Life is about some hispanic teenage girls whose aspirations are limited to becoming prostitutes, strippers and drug dealers. One of the girls also wants to become a professional hitwoman and be not only the girlfriend of the leader of the local brutal youth street gang, but also the 2nd in command as well.

The focus of the movie is on gang banging and street violence in general. Up and coming actor Hernandez is only in the movie a short time and hardly recognizable with the goatee they have him wearing. The plot of this movie, to the extent that you can actually discern a plot, is stupid and unrealistic. The producers of this movie evidently envisioned this movie as being a teenage girl ganster flick. This movie’s advertising focused in on the fact that the girls go to a nightly dance competition, but in the movie that aspect is only a silly subplot that only wastes more time and serves no purpose. These dance competitions feature teenage girls dancing in what look like the kind of outfits that prostitutes wear which makes you wonder just what kind of people were sponsoring them in the first place.

One strange aspect of this movie was that these girls were not even old enough to graduate from high school and yet, except for the gang leader’s girlfriend, they were all pregnant. And yet they partake in street gang violence and dance competitions whilst preparing to give birth down the line. One can only wonder just what the producers were smoking when they thought this angle up.

One partucularly striking aspect of this movie was the lack of older men as positive role models. For the two main female characters, there was no father, uncle, cousin, no man who espoused constructive ideas. Instead, there are gangbangers who abuse their own girlfriends. This helps to make for a dull movie because in order to have drama, you need conflict between competing ideas.

Living the Life is poorly made, poorly directed and except for Hernandez, poorly acted. The cinematography is especially poor in this movie. The colors are bleached out.. The picture is never crisp, and always seems out of focus. The colors fade and blur instead of being deep and rich. This movie is also poorly edited. At one moment, a girl’s hand is cut bleeding profusely, the next moment, she is as good as new without even a scratch on her even though she lives a life of almost daily violence with her boyfriend’s street gang.

The sound editing in this movie is especially bad. The dialogue levels go from clear to inaudible and sometimes crackle. Oftentimes the soundtrack music is played so loud you cannot understand what the actors are saying. Just why anyone would release a movie that is in this condition is incomprehensible.

Living the Life is a movie to avoid like the plague.

Movie Review: Mesmerized (1986)

Throughout the history of movies and moviemaking, creative disputes have occurred on the sets. Sometimes these disputes are solved in such a way as to be agreeable to all of the parties involved. However, there are many cases in which creative disputes occurring during production resulted in a crippled duck of a movie. Mesmerized, a 1986 flick starring Jodie Foster who also served as co-producer, is one such film.

Mesmerized is based on the 19th Century case of Victoria Thompson who was acquitted of murdering her husband. Thompson then emigrated to America from her native New Zealand where she led a peaceful life.
This case was a curious choice of subject matter for a major motion picture since it never achieved the notoriety of other cases involving alleged female criminality such as Lizzie Borden. Additionally, there has never been any real controversy over the jury verdict of not guilty due to the paucity of evidence against Thompson One can only wonder just what the studio bosses saw in the Victoria Thompson murder case to make them believe that it could be the basis for a feature length movie.

The story of Mesmerized is that of Victoria Thompson who was raised in an orphanage until she was married to a country gentleman played by John Lithgow in an union that was arranged for her by the orphanage management. Since her schooling was not yet complete, she did not arrive at the family farm until a few months after the wedding. Such arrangements were legal at the time and was common practice in cases involving orphan girls who were of the legal age to marry.

In the movie, Thompson arrives at the house while her husband was working in the field. She decides that instead of going out to say hello, she would rather go to bed. When her husband comes in, and learns from the servants that his wife has arrived and is in bed, he goes to the bedroom, enters it and after quietly walking to the bed, he lovingly gazes down upon her not sure if he should wake her up or let her slumber on. She solves the dilemma for him by waking up and then hits him in the face twice and then lays back down and goes right back to sleep. This scene did not make any sense whatsoever and it set the tone for the rest of the movie.

The movie then shows us its version of the relationship between Mr. Thompson and his wife Victoria. He treats her like a gentleman and she treats him like dirt, constantly complaining that he does not pay her enough attention, but when he does try to show her affection or even talk to her, she rebuffs him acting like she is superior to him. She even goes to town and sees a judge about the possiblity of getting a divorce. However, the judge is left befuddled by her account of her relationship with her husband since she does not allege that he has been cruel or unfaithful to her and even she says that he has treated her well. The judge is puzzled by why she wants a divorce without giving a clear reason why she wants one. Shortly thereafter, she strikes up a romantic relationship with her brother-in-law that ends soon afterward when she murders him for no clear reason. Her husband and father in law cover the murder up for reasons that are also unclear. Some time later, she has a miscarriage which was a most strange development since at no time did she appear to be pregnant.

Later on, Mr. Thompson develops health problems and undergoes barbaric treatment at the hands of his doctors and dentists while his wife is oblivious to the proceedings. She clearly is not affected in the least by the pain and suffering that her husband is suffering. Eventually, he dies and she is charged with murder under what grounds the movie fails to explain to the audience. She is ultimately acquitted in one of the dullest trials in movie history and the shows ends abruptly.

There are so many problems with Mesmerized, it is difficult to decide just where to begin with them. This was a very poor screenplay with stilted dialog, zero character development & the plot drags like a stubborn mule. To sum it up, this film is dull, slow-paced and pretentious. This movie suffered from poor cinematography with dulled-out color & poor lighting.

After this movie was released and became a box office disaster, co-producer Foster denounced the studio for allegedly interfering with her work on the movie. However, she was extremely vague in her criticisms so it was unclear just what she was blaming the studio for. Some of her colleagues on the film shot back that she was a prima donna who had to have everything her way and was now attempting to evade responsibility for her failure. It was not until 1994 that Foster would ever sit in a producer’s chair again.

Whatever happened behind the scenes with Mesmerized, it is clear that Jodie Foster bears culpability for much of this film’s awfulness. She gave what was quite possibly the single worst performance in her acting career thus far. Throughout the entire movie, Foster’s eyes have the glazed look that is so typical of cocaine fiends. This is interesting in light of the fact that in December 1983, she was arrested and charged with possession of a small amount of cocaine. She pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a year’s probation and had to pay the costs of court.

All in all, Mesmerized is a movie to avoid.

Script: 1
Acting: 1
Cinematography: 1
Originality: 1
Reviewer’s Tilt: 1
Overall: 1.0

Movie Review: Velvet Smooth (1976)

Back in the early 1970’s, there was a new kind of cinema born on the mean streets of inner city America. These were films that centered on the inner city experience and mainly featured black and hispanic actors. Many of these movies achieved respectable box office and as such this non-Hollywood film industry came to worry Hollywood.

Instead of trying to co-opt this movement, Hollywood set out to crush it. In this, the industry had allies in the so-called “black leadership.” These leaders were fearful that these movies would spawn a revolt by the masses against their self-serving “leaders.” Additionally, these independent pictures generally portrayed inner city crime as being by inner city residents against other inner city residents or, more specifically, black on black crime. This undermined the claims made by this leadership that all the problems of black folks were caused by white racism.

There were numerous tactics used to crush the inner city independent film movement. One of the most potent was to label these movies as being “black exploitation” flicks or as the term came to be shortened down to, “blaxploitation.” Allegedly, these movie makers were exploiting the problems of inner city America for their own profits. Black leaders waged campaigns of hate against these movies. Owners of the theaters that showed these movies were threatened with violence and/or bought out by folks who immediately banned independent films from their establishments. By the end of the 1970’s, the inner city cinema movement was dead and black and other minority actors were left to either choose between playing Hollywood stereotypes or not working in film at all.

One good example of a film from the inner city cinema movement was 1976’s Velvet Smooth about a gal (Johnnie Hill) who both fights crime for both fun and profit. The namesake heroine is a quite beautiful martial arts expert fighter who can take on several crooks at once. She is far more effective than the local cops who are portrayed as being both weak and ineffectual owing to a preference to stay in their nice, air conditioned offices as opposed to risking their necks on the mean streets.

Velvet Smooth’s chief client and main boyfriend is a store owner played by Owen Watson. The movie begins when a gang of black criminals don disguises so that they look somewhat like Klansmen and then go on a rampage in the business district. This way, the ire of the community would be directed against a mythical Ku Klux Klan outfit in the inner city and not directed to helping find out who is responsible for the outrages. There is a particularly memorable scene involving a black leader who rants and raves against the Klan as well as “blaxploitation movies” that supposedly encourage whites to hate blacks in public, while in private he is the leader of the criminal gang! Clearly, Velvet Smooth is a filmmaker’s response to the “black leadership’s” attacks upon the inner city cinema movement.

There is more trouble afoot in the community as a new, vicious drug gang moves into the city. Velvet Smooth is hired by anti-drug crusaders to track down these criminals and bring them to justice. Since both this gang and the black leader’s gang are one and the same, Velvet Smooth’s work is cut out for her. Needless to say, the remainder of this movie is most interesting. Velvet Smooth is a decent movie and worth your time.

One memorable aspect of this movie is the music, especially the title song: “Velvet Smooth, you are the one… Velvet Smooth, with love or with guns… You’re Velvet Smooth, with piece in hand… If fate takes your youth, I won’t understand…”

Despite the fact that Velvet Smooth made a slight profit at the box office, it proved to be the only movie that Hill appeared in and the last one that co-star Watson appeared in. By 1976, it was increasingly difficult to distribute these urban independent pictures and following this movie’s release, the producers threw in the towel. Many of the minority group actors and actresses, such as Hill and Watson, have been effectively blacklisted by Hollywood. On the other hand, the white director of this movie, Michael Fink, has had a successful career as, among other things, a visual effects supervisor on many bug budget Hollywood productions. And they say there is no such thing as racism in Hollywood.

Since the curtailment of the inner city independent film movement, there have been few Hollywood productions that capture what inner city America is really like and few movies made by black or hispanic directors or producers. The few blacks or hispanics who do occupy director or producer positions in Hollywood do so only because they push the politically correct line that defines so much of the drivel that the big studios put out every year.

Script: 6
Acting: 6
Cinematography: 4
Originality: 5
Reviewer’s Tilt: 6

Overall Rating: 5.2

More Lameness From Stephen King

Here’s a snippet from a news release from the folks at Cemetery Dance:

We’ve just learned that ‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King is being republished this fall as a special illustrated 560 page hardcover edition featuring approximately FIFTY PAGES of deleted material that King cut from his original manuscript — this is your chance to read some of King’s writing that never made it to press for a variety of reasons, including scenes that might have been considered too gruesome to publish!

Once again, Stephen King stoops to the lame to keep his name in circulation and his lagging sales figures up. He’s done this type of thing before and its hurt his reputation, but he just keeps it up. Guess he’d rather be greedy than try to do the hard work needed to reclaim the position he once had as an author whose name would always be on the bestseller’s list irregardless of what he wrote about.

Short Story Rough Draft

I’m something of an aspiring writer and here’s the rough draft of my latest effort for your reading pleasure. Please add comments saying what you thought of it and whatever ideas for improvement you may have.

Here it is:

The inspiration came to me while I was laying in a warm sudsy bathtub. Why not invent a waterbed like sleeping bag in which you can lie down comfortably in warm water and doze off to sleep. What a wonderful cure for insomnia!

I got up in a bolt and quickly wrote the idea down in one of my inventor’s notebooks. Starting the very next day, I got to work on the device and soon had a working model. Since I was a bit too bashful to actually test it on myself, I decided to find someone else to be the guinea pig. That being the case, I placed a classified ad in the paper reading, “Wanted: insomnia plagued person for scientific experiment. Easy work for $200 per day.”

The phone calls came in and after doing some umm, heavy interviewing on the phone, I selected the best subject and that night the former heavyweight boxing champion Fred Walker was at my door. Walker had fallen on hard times following his being banned from boxing after he publically admitted to taking steroids. He needed the money really badly. Obviously, he had a lot weighing on his mind, hence the insomnia.

“This is really nice,” Walker said grinning, “my insomnia might finally get cured and I get paid for it!”

“Great,” I said, “What time do you normally go to bed?”

“About 9PM even though its an exercise in futility since I just lay there staring at the ceiling until I finally doze off for no more than 2-3 hours at a time,” Walker replied.

“It is now 8:45 right on the dot,” I noted. “We shall commence with the experiment. Please go to that room,” I said pointing to the bathroom at the far end of the hall, “and put on the wet suit for sleeping that you will find there.”

The sleeping bag foldable bathtub lay on a couch in the TV room. It was both simple and complex at the same time, a true masterpiece of technology if I do say so myself. I figured that although the materials cost less than $100, once the invention reached the market place, I could get away with charging $1,000 for it. Oh bliss!

I had already prepared a tank full of wonderfully warm water that was to flow into the bag that Walker was enclosed in. The test subject looked quite plump when he got himself fully dressed in the wet suit.

I asked, “Ready?”

“Ready and raring to go,” Walker replied, “only one question. Its not too hot is it, the water, I mean.”

“Nope, its just right,” I replied.

With that, I closed the watertight zipper and made sure that the watertight air cushion comfortably fitted Walker’s neck. I took the tube from the bathtub and connected it to the bag and turned the valve to let the H2O flow around the test subject’s body.

When the bag filled up, I disconnected the tube. I inserted a wall plug and told him, “This is connected to a heating element and thermostat that will keep the water consistently warm for as long as you are in the bag, so to speak. How are you coming?”

Walker dreamily replied, “Sleepier than I’ve felt in a long time, thanks for….ZZZZZ.”

I then informed him that I would be in the next room sipping on Dr. Pepper and that if he needed anything, just call and I would be there. However, since Walker was clearly deep in Slumberland, he never responded.

When I checked at Midnight to see how the experiment was coming, I was in for a rude shock…….Walker was dead! He was cooked like a lobster and was as red as a cooked crustacean. The thermostat was defective.

This bothered me since I do not like setbacks. The water temperature must have slowly risen or else Walker surely would have signaled me. The fact that the man likely had not suffered did not assuage my feelings since, as they say, misery loves company.

I then thought back to my days in cooking school before I was expelled for unauthorized experiments in the kitchen. We were taught that the humane way to cook lobster was to make sure that the temperature gradually rose in a soothing manner so that the lobster would die in a state of drowsy ecstasy. How fitting, I thought, as a boxer, Walker had been billed as “The Human Lobster,” now he just died like one.

Now, dear reader, you are no doubt thinking that this was an abortion. Well, I was not voted “Most Likely to Become a Mad Scientist” by my high school class for nothing.

After getting a coffin that I had used in my vampire research a few years ago out, I then began placing Walker’s corpse into it. It was a regular ordeal owing to the fact that Walker weighed a lot. I got to wondering why none of the blubber had boiled off him.

It was at that point that the proverbial lightbulb flashed above my head. I remembered one of my fellow pupils at the engineering school that I had attended before I had been expelled for unauthorized experiments was from a Third World country where many of the native peoples were still uncivilized barbarians who still engaged in cannibalism. He was also quite a chef and did some wondrous cooking in the school’s kitchen before it transpired that his most inspired dishes had originally been homeless people. Needless to say, he had to get out of the country quicker than a famished person could down a White Castle hamburger.

I got an airplane ticket to the Republic of Ku-Ku-Wanna and took my research notes with me to visit my friend who by this time had become the minister of justice there. Once there, we talked it over and I wowed him with my slide show.

My friend and fellow scientific genius took some of the dough that he had embezzled from his office and built a canning plant in the capital city that immediately became the single largest private sector employer in the country.

However, the honor of becoming the origins of the new company’s first products did not accrue to Mr. Fred Walker. Sadly, he had spoiled and had to be thrown away, a total loss.

Upon returning to America, I took out classified ads nationwide for my insomnia research. Many applicants answered them and best of all, a lot of them were profitably fat.

Oh bliss!

Movie Review: Klute (1971)

Throughout the history of the Academy Awards or Oscars as they are popularly known, there have been a great many controversies concerning the movies that have won the awards. The same goes for the awards for the cast and crew as well as the technical awards. Usually, the controversies are short lived and generally forgotten within a few years of the awards ceremony.

Of course, there are some exceptions. Most of these controversies involve movies that have ardent fan bases that persist in believing that their favorite flick should have done better than it did. An example of this the 1977 SF movie Star Wars that did not win the award for Best Picture.

However, there are some controversies involving movies and performances that many folks believe should not have been made. The performance of Jane Fonda in the 1971 film Klute won her the Academy Award for Best Actress the following year. The voting occurred after her highly controversial trip to Hanoi in which she openly embraced the Communist cause and cheered when North Vietnamese anti-aircraft guns shot down an American airplane. This cheap stunt earned her widespread condemnation and the criticism soon broadened into a general critique of Hollywood’s involvement in the anti-war movement during the Vietnam War. The criticism provoked a circle the wagons reaction in Hollywood that many believe, both then and now, led to Fonda receiving the Oscar for Best Actress.

As it happens, the criticism of Fonda’s receiving the award was/is quite justified in light of both the quality of Klute and of that of Fonda’s performance in that movie. Klute is a movie that clearly aspires to cult status. However, cult movies such as Francis Ford Coppola’s 1974 flick “The Conversation” are compelling pieces of work. Klute , on the other hand, is vapid. It simply lacks inventiveness and originality.

Klute is a second-rate thriller. The plot eventually takes on predictability and is short on logic and terror. Klute is one of those movies that looks great but has no real substance. You simply do not care about the characters.

Klute does not offer any surprises whatsoever and the ending became quite predictable before it was half over. What good is a mystery if everything is pretty obvious and you can guess everything that is about to take place? This attempt at a psychological thriller is mindless. The plot is thin. Guy kills for no apparent reason.

The only way that Klute really stands out is that it is a rather weird and emotionless thriller. It is one of those flicks which looks great, appeals to the eyes, but has no real ubstance outside of the gloss. You don’t care about Detective John Klute (Donald Sutherland) and/or his prostitute girlfriend Bree Daniels (Jane Fonda).

At the very most, Klute is a poor mystery movie. This supposed cinema caper did not offer any surprises whatsoever and the ending became quite predictable well before it was half-way through. This movie is devoid of any redeeming qualities. A trite mystery.

The performance of Jane Fonda leaves much to be desired. She simply does put on a convincing performance as a prostitute. If anything, she comes across a spoiled little rich girl. Part of the reason for her failure to convince the viewer that she really is a prostitute comes from the fact that by the time this movie was made, Fonda had become fairly homely. You simply cannot make it as a prostitute if you are not good looking. Homely actresses simply do not have any business playing prostitutes.

That being the case, it is clear that Fonda’s Academy Award for Best Actress was manifestly undeserved. The critics were/are right after all. The controversy over Fonda’s award for Klute simply will not go away and for good reason. One of this writer’s professors in graduate school summed it up for many who had been in the antiwar movement during Vietnam when he said that he loved Jane Fonda’s politics, but he hated her as an actress. In any event, Klute is a movie to avoid.

Chrenkoff on the Latest Tale of the Unlikely

Over at Arthur Chrenkoff’s blog, there is word of a new Michael Moore type documentary called “Operation Hollywood” produced by one Emilio Pacull. Currently, there is nothing at IMDB about this film and very little about this Pacull fellow. This new flick claims that the U.S. military is manipulating Hollywood into making pro-military films by refusing to provide material and technical assistance to film projects that trash the military. By doing so, the evil military industrial complex is able to brainwash innocent Americans into believing that the American military is a great institution.

Here’s Chrenkoff’s fisking (blogspeak for takedown) of this inane point of view:

You see, when producers are putting together war films, they will often want assistance from Pentagon to provide “ships, tanks, materiel, information, bases, access to land, troops and some very real-looking fireworks” to make their movies look authentic. In exchange for this sort of logistical support Pentagon can censor scripts. “For Hollywood, acceptance of this system means the difference between ‘full co-operation’ and no co-operation. For the military, it involves maintaining an idealised image of the forces, their behaviour, their view of the world, the superiority of their form of patriotism, and for that matter, their reasons for going to war.”

“So why, they would argue, should the Pentagon spend its money on pacifism or promoting the darker side of the soldier’s world?” Unfortunately, Courtis fails to provide the answer. Why indeed? Why the hell should Pentagon be somehow obliged to provide assistance to movie-makers who want to portray the military as homicidal maniac, degenerates, psychopaths and criminals? To fully grasp the moronic nature of this complaint imagine me making a movie that portrays journalists and documentary makers as hypocrites, perverts, thieves and traitors. How much assistance would you think I would receive from the “Age” and Pacull’s production company? There’s your answer.

The Fraud of MOVE

In a quite courageous move, Tony Allen, a former member of the whacko cult outfit called MOVE has come out in the form of a blog entitled The Anti-MOVE Blog. This blog is dedicating to exposing MOVE for the fraud that it is. Here’s the origins of MOVE:

MOVE was started in the early 1970’s by a man named Vincent Lephart who would later change his name to John Africa, along with a college professor named Donald Glassey. At its base, MOVE is a group that’s stated goal is the destruction of not only western civilization, but, in fact, all of civilization. MOVE teaches its members that mankind strayed from the natural order of things millions of years ago and has been reaping the “wages of sin” ever since. They believe that for things to be “right again,” all man-made constructs from enlightenment notions of justice to the SUV need to be done away with.

They believe that John Africa is God and they believe everyone not in MOVE are “perverts” and a raper of “mother earth.” They keep the young members of the cult largely illiterate and force girls as young as twelve to become pregnant and “marry” grown men and other teenaged boys.

This is one blog that bears watching for it has an important message for everyone concerned with the spread of whakoism in America.

Horror Hosts

Have you ever wanted to find out what’s it like to watch a horror movie show on TV that has a regular host? Well, one way to find out is by checking the Horror Hosts website. That way, if you want to find a TV station or cable system in your area or in an area that you plan to vacation to that has such programming, you can find it. Also, there’s an increasing number of websites that do such shows on the Internet.

Have yourself a Hell of a time……………..

Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks News February 16th, 2005


FEBRUARY 16, 2005


FARGO, N.D. – TheFargo-Moorhead RedHawks have re-signed 3BRuben Salazar to a contract for the 2005 season, the Northern Leagueclub announced today. Salazar is returning to the RedHawks for his thirdseason.

Salazar, 27, hit .314 with 10 doubles,three home runs, 29 RBIs and 25 runs scored in 41 games in 2004. He missedthe final 55 games of the season after breaking a bone in his hand. Salazar healed up in time to play winter ball for theAragua Tigers this year, where he batted .273 with five doubles, nine homeruns, 48 RBIs and 23 runs scored in 52 games. He finished second inthe Venezuelan Winter League in RBIs.

Salazar originally joined the RedHawks for the 2003 season andhelped lead the RedHawks to the league championship. He batted .292 with 19doubles, one triple, eight home runs, 49 RBIs and 64 runs scored. A career.303 hitters, Salazar spent his first six seasons in professional baseball withthe Minnesota Twins organization.

“Ruben was another priority signing for our club thisoffseason,” said RedHawks manager DougSimunic. “He is a proven offensive threat in the NorthernLeague and gives us a top-level third baseman, as well.”

HT: 5’10” WT: 195 Bats:R Throws: R Born: 1/16/78 Resides:San Felix, VZ


1997 Maracay-1 (R) .247 45 81 13 20 4 1 2 9 11 13 2 .395 .333

1998 GCL Twins (R) .248 50 161 16 40 5 1 3 25 9 29 10 .348 .287

1999 Elizabethton (R) .401 64 262 66 105 24 2 14 65 48 43 11 .668 .498

2000 Fort Myers (A) .311 124 499 80 155 25 0 11 64 37 81 3 .427 .359

2001 New Britain (AA) .298 137 530 70 158 29 2 10 66 37 77 6 .417 .348
2002 Edmonton (AAA) .192 7 26 3 5 0 0 0 0 0 4 2 .192 .222
New Britain(AA) .278 103 371 49 103 24 2 4 41 27 72 4 .385 .329
2003 Fargo-Moorhead (NL) .292 89 360 64 105 19 1 8 49 45 48 2 .417 .376

2004 Fargo-Moorhead (NL) .314 41 159 25 50 10 0 3 29 13 22 1 .434 .380

CAREER .303 660 2449 386 741 140 9 55 348 227 389 41 .434 .366


· RedHawks CF JoeMathis recently returned to Fargo after playing in the Colombian Winter League. Mathisplayed for the Toros de Sucre, where he batted .293 with 13 doubles, three homeruns, 16 RBIs and 25 runs scored in 30 games. He helped the Toros to a secondplace finish and was a finalist for the league’s MVP award. Mathis andRedHawks RHP/INF Derek Dormanen are serving as assistant coaches at ConcordiaCollege in Moorhead this spring under head coach Bucky Burgau.

· RedHawks pitchingcoach Steve Montgomery is the new pitching coach for North Dakota StateUniversity. The Bison open their first NCAA Division I seasonon Friday against Utah Valley Stateat Colorado Springs, CO.

Continental Basketball Association Newsletter February 16th, 2005

February 16, 2005 • Volume Eight • Scorephone: (208) 429-8503
Continental Basketball Association • 1412 W. Idaho St., Suite 235 • Boise,
ID 83702
Publisher: Todd Anderson • (208) 429-0101 • Fax: (208) 429-0303 •

Table of Contents:


(For more information and up-to-date league standings, log on to the CBA
web site at


Great Lakes Storm guard Jermaine Jackson was named the Eastern Conference
Player of the Week, while Dakota Wizards forward Chris Porter was named
the Western Conference Player of the Week for the week of February 6 – 12.

Jackson earned his third player of the week award in five weeks after
posting 29.3 points and 8.3 assists per game as the Storm finished the
week with a 2-1 record. He also added 4.7 rebounds per contest while
shooting 63.0 percent (30 of 48) from the floor, 81.0 percent (25 of 31)
from the free-throw line, and 38.0 percent (3 of 8) from behind the
three-point line. In a 118-105 (5.5-1.5) victory over the Rockford
Lightning on February 7, Jackson posted 26 points, seven assists, five
rebounds, two assists and two blocked shots. Later in the week he notched
38 points and 11 assists, including the game winning shot with 0.8 seconds
left, as the Storm defeated the Idaho Stampede 113-111 (5-2) on February

Dakota Wizards forward Chris Porter earned his first weekly honor of the
season after he posted 20.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per game as the
Wizards finished the week with a 2-0 record. He also added 3.5 assists
per contest while shooting 61.0 percent (14 of 23) from the floor. In a
107-104 (5-2) victory over Eastern Conference leading Great Lakes on
February 9, he posted 22 points, seven rebounds, and four assists. The
following night he notched 19 points and 12 rebounds as the Wizards
defeated the Rockford Lightning 124-120 (5-2).

Other players receiving consideration were Michigan’s Sam Mack (22.3 ppg,
3.0 apg), Rockford’s Brian Lubeck (17.2 ppg, 7.8 apg), and Idaho’s Kaniel
Dickens (18.4 ppg, 6.6 rpg).


Week Eastern Conference Winner/Team Western Conference Winner/Team
11/19-11/27 Ezra Williams/Great Lakes Storm Kaniel Dickens/Idaho
11/28-12/4 Darrick Martin/Michigan Mayhem Billy Keys/Dakota Wizards
12/5-12/11 Mark Jones/Great Lakes Storm DeSean Hadley/Sioux Falls
12/12-12/18 Stais Boseman/Rockford Lightning Billy Thomas/Dakota Wizards
12/19-12/25 Lonnie Jones/Gary Steelheads Sam Clancy/Idaho Stampede
12/26-1/1 Jackie Butler/Great Lakes Storm Alpha Bangura/Sioux Falls
1/2-1/8 Sam Mack/Michigan Mayhem Marlon Parmer/Yakima Sun Kings
1/9-1/15 Jermaine Jackson/Great Lakes Storm Sam Clancy/Idaho Stampede
1/16-1/22 Charles Gaines/Michigan Mayhem Sam Clancy/Idaho Stampede
1/23-1/29 Jermaine Jackson/Great Lakes Storm Marlon Parmer/Yakima Sun
1/30-2/5 Brant Bailey/Rockford Lightning David Jackson/Sioux Falls
2/6-2/12 Jermaine Jackson/Great Lakes Storm Chris Porter/Dakota Wizards


2004-05 CBA-to-NBA Call-Ups
(Season total = 8)

Date Player CBA Team NBA Team
11/24/04 Britton Johnsen Idaho Stampede Indiana Pacers
12/4/04 Corsley Edwards Sioux Falls Skyforce New Orleans Hornets
12/8/04 Kaniel Dickens Idaho Stampede New Jersey Nets
12/12/04 Lonny Baxter Yakima Sun Kings New Orleans Hornets
1/4/05 Darrick Martin Michigan Mayhem Los Angeles Clippers
1/10/05 John Thomas Sioux Falls Skyforce Minnesota Timberwolves
1/21/05 Billy Thomas Dakota Wizards New Jersey Nets
2/1/05 Donnell Harvey Sioux Falls Skyforce New Jersey Nets


Total roster spots held by former CBA players on 2004-05 NBA regular
season rosters: 54
Total number of former CBA players on 2004-05 NBA rosters during the
regular season: 48
Total roster spots held by former CBA players on 2004-05 NBA opening night
rosters: 38
Total number of former CBA players on 2004-05 NBA training camp rosters:

Atlanta (0): (Anthony “Pig” Miller)
Boston (1): Mark Blount
Chicago (1): Adrian Griffin
Cleveland (2): Jeff McInnis, Ira Newble
Dallas (1): Darrel Armstrong
Denver (4): Earl Boykins, Greg Buckner, Voshon Lenard, Mark Pope
Detroit (1): Anthony Goldwire, (William “Smush” Parker)
Golden State (0): (Ansu Sesay)
Houston (1): David Wesley
Indiana (3): Michael Curry, Eddie Gill, Stephen Jackson, (Tremaine
(Britton Johnsen)
L.A. Clippers (3): Rick Brunson, Mikki Moore, Darrick Martin
L.A. Lakers (1): Chucky Atkins
Miami (1): Damon Jones
Milwaukee (2): Zendon Hamilton, Mike James, (Anthony Goldwire)
Minnesota (3): Anthony Carter, Troy Hudson, John Thomas
New Jersey (2): Rodney Buford, Billy Thomas, (Kaniel Dickens),
(Aaron Williams), (Donnell Harvey)
New Orleans (3): Junior Harrington, Lee Nailon, Corsley Edwards, (Lonny
(Darrell Armstrong), (David Wesley)
New York (2): Moochie Norris, Bruno Sundov
Philadelphia (2): Josh Davis, Kevin Ollie
Phoenix (2): William “Smush” Parker, Paul Shirley
San Antonio (2): Bruce Bowen, Linton Johnson
Toronto (2): Rafer Alston, Aaron Williams
Utah (2): Raja Bell, Keith McLeod

( ) Indicates player was waived or traded during the regular season
Indicates 2003-04 CBA player, or 2004-05 CBA-to-NBA call-up


With just under a month left in the 2004-05 regular season, every team in
the league remains in the playoff hunt, as nobody has been mathematically
eliminated from postseason contention.

The 2005 CBA Playoffs will showcase four teams, and are scheduled to begin
on Tuesday, March 15 or Wednesday, March 16, after the final regular
season game on March 13. Four clubs qualify for the playoffs, two from
each conference, based on total quarter-points earned during the regular
season. The Number 1 Seed will play the Number 2 Seed in the Eastern
Conference, while the Number 1 Western Conference Seed will play the
Number 2 Western Conference Seed. Both series will be best-of-five game
formats (2-2-1). The two conference winners will then meet in the CBA
Finals, a five-game championship series. The team with the higher
quarter-point total will be awarded home court advantage in all Playoff

Currently the Great Lakes Storm sits atop the Eastern Conference standings
with a 4.1 quarter-point average, followed by the Rockford Lightning with
a 3.5 average. The Gary Steelheads sit in third with a 3.0 average, while
the Michigan Mayhem is in fourth place with a 2.8 average.

In the Western Conference, the Dakota Wizards claim the top spot with a
4.1 quarter-point average, followed by the Sioux Falls Skyforce at 3.8
quarter-points per game. The Idaho Stampede is in third place with a 3.6
average, and the Yakima Sun Kings round out the conference with a 3.1

Continental Basketball Association Standings
(through 02/15/05)


W L W L W L QW* PTS. Avg Last 5
Great Lakes Storm 23-15 14-5 9-10 85.5 154.5 4.1 3-2
Rockford Lightning 19-18 14-5 5-13 74.0 131.0 3.5 1-4
Gary Steelheads 14-20 10-7 4-13 61.5 103.5 3.0 3-2
Michigan Mayhem 14-26 9-10 5-16 68.0 110.0 2.8 4-1


W L W L W L QW* PTS. Avg Last 5
Dakota Wizards 24-12 12-6 12-6 76.0 148.0 4.1 4-1
Sioux Falls Skyforce 22-15 10-5 12-10 76.0 142.0 3.8 3-2
Idaho Stampede 19-19 14-7 5-12 78.5 135.5 3.6 1-4
Yakima Sun Kings 14-24 9-12 5-12 76.5 118.5 3.1 2-3

*Teams get 3 points for a win, 1 point for each quarter won, and 1/2 point
any quarter tied. Avg = Average points per game played.


The Official CBA Scorephone provides final scores, quarter point totals
and leading scorers from each team upon the completion of each day’s final

“Since 1983 the Scorephone has allowed anyone with access to a telephone
the ability to find out the outcome and leading scorers for CBA games on
the night they were played,” stated CBA Deputy Commissioner, Wade
Morehead. “Coupled with the official CBA website, our goal is to provide
the public with up-to-date information from around the league as soon as
it becomes available.”

The CBA Scorephone number is 208-429-8503.


• 2/15/2005
– Gary signed Maurice Spillers.

• 2/14/2005
– The CBA League Office: Fined and suspended Doug Smith (Great Lakes) for
four games (Game # 147, # 150, # 159 and # 160) for fighting and
unsportsmanlike conduct following Game # 146. Fined and suspended Stais
Boseman (Rockford) for one game (Game # 158) for public criticism and
verbal abuse of game officials following Game # 100 and Game # 144.
– Gary placed Daniel Watts on the Injured Reserve List, retroactive to
– Sioux Falls placed Corsley Edwards on the Active Roster; and traded
Lawrence Nelson to Gary for a Second Round pick in the 2005 CBA Annual
College Draft.
• 2/12/2005
– Michigan signed Nick Sheppard; and waived Greg Clausen and Calvin

• 2/10/2005
– Rockford signed Jermaine Tate.

• 2/9/2005
– The CBA League Office: Fined Head Coach Paul Woolpert (Yakima) for
violating League policies on objectionable language (Game #135), and
public criticism of officials/failure to exit the floor (Game #132 and
Game #127). Fined Michigan for game operations violations. Approved the
contractual buyout of Marlon Parmer (Yakima).
– Idaho placed Britton Johnsen on the Active Roster; and placed Bryan
Christiansen on the Inactive Reserve List, retroactive to 2/8/05.
– Rockford placed Jermaine Walker on the Injured Reserve List.

• 2/8/2005
– Great Lakes placed Trevor Huffman on the Injured Reserve List.
– Dakota signed Wayne Turner and waived Derrick Davis.
– Idaho placed Britton Johnsen on the Inactive Reserve List.

• 2/7/2005
– Idaho placed Bryan Christiansen on the Active Roster and placed Taliek
Brown on the Injured Reserve List.

6. AROUND THE CBA (Team notes contributed by the respective team’s media
relations department)
DAKOTA WIZARDS: The Dakota Wizards continued their strong road trip,
beating Great Lakes in a battle of division leaders on Wednesday night and
Sunday afternoon. Dakota also picked up a Thursday night 124-120 overtime
win against the Rockford Lightning to capitalize on the week. Sunday’s win
improved Dakota’s record to 4-1 on its lengthy road trip and increased
their quarter point average to 4.1.Chris Porter earned his first player of
the week honors as he posted 20.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists per
game. Due to an out of town Wizards team, General Manager Jane Link, and
Marketing Director Kim Mueller paid a visit to KFYR-TV’s Wizards Watch on
Sunday night to recap last week’s wins and preview the week ahead. The
Wizards will head to Sioux Falls this Friday night to cap off their 6 game
road trip and then are back at home next Monday night to begin a 5 game
home stand.

GARY STEELHEADS: The Gary Steelheads started the week off at home against
the Yakima Sun Kings on February 11th…The Steelheads jumped out to an
early lead and coasted to an 89-81 victory…Leading the way for the
Steelheads was David Graves with 24 points…Jemeil Rich had 16 points and
Shelly Clark pulled down 11 rebounds in the win…The Steelheads next faced
the Sioux Falls Skyforce in a Sunday matinee in Gary…The Steelheads tied
the 1st quarter and won the 4th but were unable to come away with the
victory, losing 91-85…Shelly Clark had 28 points in the loss…Jemeil Rich
had 11 points and 10 assists…The Steelheads face the Mayhem twice in
Michigan, 2/14 & 2/17, before hosting the Idaho Stampede on Friday and
Saturday night..

GREAT LAKES STORM: The Great Lakes Storm is currently in first place in
the Eastern Conference with a record of 23-15 (154.5 pts). They finished
the week with a record of 2-2 as they split four home games against two
Western Conference foes. The Storm lost to the Wizards twice and beat the
Idaho Stampede twice…With two losses to the Wizards at home, the Storm
is no longer the best team in CBA. The Wizards (4.111) lead the Storm
(4.066) in quarter-point average by the slimmest of margins…Jermaine
Jackson won Player of the Week for the third time this season as he
averaged 29.3 ppg and 8.3 apg while shooting 63% from the floor and 81&
from the free-throw line in three games. He also hit the game winning
19-footer with 0.8 seconds left against the Stampede on Friday night in a
113-111 (5.0, 2.0) victory…The Storm will play five straight road games
before returning home for their final five-game home stand to close out
the regular season.

MICHIGAN MAYHEM: The Michigan Mayhem went undefeated this week winning a
total of four games. The Mayhem defeated the Rockford Lightning on
Tuesday night by the score of 123 to 114. Charles Gaines led the Mayhem
with a quiet 36 points and 18 rebounds. Charles is certainly making a bid
for the rookie of the year award. Sam Mack chipped in with 25 points.
The Mayhem earned 5.0 points while Rockford received 2.0. This was the
first game of a seven game home stand…The Mayhem looked extremely tough on
Wednesday night during their win over the Sun Kings. Darrick Martin lead
with 29 points and 7 assists while Olden Polynice helped out with 23
points. This was the Mayhem’s third straight home win. The team is
playing their best basketball of the season. Michigan earned another 5
points for the game while Yakima gained two points by winning the second
and third quarter…On Saturday February, 12 the Mayhem hosted the very
tough Idaho Stampede. The Mayhem was able to defeat the Stampede by the
score of 100 to 91. The game was close until Michigan late in the 4th
quarter opened the gap to pull away. The Mayhem was lead by the play of
Reggie Jordan and Sam Mack. Jordan scored 25 points and grabbed 11
rebounds, while Mack finished with 24 points. The Mayhem that night set a
new franchise record of 4 home wins in a row. The Mayhem came away with
five points in the win in front of 4,692 fans…And finally to end the week
the Mayhem defeated the Gary Steelheads 96 to 90 during a late morning
game. Almost 3,000 kids attended this field trip day. The Mayhem was
lead once again by the play of Sam Mack. Mack scored 23 points and hit
some clutch shots late in the game to lead this victorious Mayhem team.
The team earned 6 points for the game only dropping the first quarter by
the score of 29 to 23. The Michigan Mayhem is now 14-26 on the season.
It is late in the season but this team still believes that a playoff spot
is possible.

ROCKFORD LIGHTNING: The Rockford Lightning finished the week of February
7-13 with a record of 1-4…They started the week with a morning contest
against the Great Lakes Storm on February 7, which tipped off at 10:05
a.m. Rockford time…Rockford got 24 points out of Brant Bailey, but fell
short to the Storm 118-105…The next day, February 8, the Bolts traveled
to Muskegon to face the Michigan Mayhem, and lost 123-114, as Brant Bailey
led the scoring again for Rockford, this time chipping in 23 points in the
effort…The Lightning returned to the MetroCentre on February 10, as they
faced off against the Western Conference leading Dakota Wizards, and for
the second consecutive home game needed an extra period, losing to the
Wizards 124-120 in overtime…Brian Lubeck rattled off his season high 35
points in the contest…the weekend brought back-to-back games on Saturday
and Sunday…Rockford’s Stais Boseman scored 28 points on February 12, as
the Lightning defeated the Sioux Falls Skyforce 103-98, but on Sunday,
February 13, Marshall Phillips had the hot hand, scoring 24 points, but
the Lightning fell short to the Yakima Sun Kings, 108-93…Saturday’s game
against Sioux Falls featured alternate gold Lightning jerseys that were
auctioned off to fans in a silent auction during the game…a total of
$2,752 was raised in the first ever “Jersey Off Their Backs” auction for
Rockford Lightning Charitables…Sunday’s game against Yakima was delayed
due to an arena lightning malfunction, so local radio personality Jim
Stone from 104.9 WXRX offered $10 to a fan who could hit a half-court
shot…Rockford Lightning media representatives, sponsors, and season
ticket holders donated money to the pot…By the time the lights came back
on, no one had hit a half court shot, so the $280 that was raised was
given to the Rockford Chariots wheelchair basketball team, who was playing
an exhibition game at halftime of Sunday’s game.

YAKIMA SUN KINGS: The Sun Kings began their two week road trip with a win
over the Idaho Stampede on February 7th…The Sun Kings earned five quarter
points as Cliff Hawkins, Derek Hood, and Tommy Smith each had 15 points
each in the victory…The following games would not be so good to the Sun
Kings as they dropped two in a row…On Wednesday February 9th, they faced
the Michigan Mayhem; their first meeting since February 2nd, but this time
the Mayhem would come out the clear winner as the Sun Kings lost 120-113;
earning only two quarter points in the loss…Noel Felix led the Sun Kings
with a season high 37 points…Two nights later, the Sun Kings would drop
another contest; this time to the Gary Steelheads…The Steelheads outlasted
the Sun Kings to win 89-81 allowing the Sun Kings another two quarter
point loss…Talk about starting the week off right, the Sun Kings started
out this week with a 108-93 win over the Rockford Lightning…The Sun Kings
earned six quarter points in the victory; as Noel Felix led the way with
29 points and Jeryl Sasser added an additional 25 in the 15 point
victory…IN THE COMMUNITY…ALL FOR CHARITY…the Sun Kings staff will
participate in the annual charity basketball game at Zillah High
School…Players will be on site to sign autographs, and the Sun Dancers
will perform during time outs…All proceeds benefit the Zillah School
District…Also this week, the Sun Kings players and staff will visit
Garfield Elementary in Toppenish as part of the P.A.C.E. (Pro Active
Community Efforts) campaign…to congratulate those students who have
excelled in their academic endeavors.

7. CBA STATISTICAL LEADERS (Thru Games of 2/15/05)

1. Sam Mack, Michigan 23 505 22.0 9. Sam
Clancy, Idaho 38 679 17.9
2. Mark Jones, Great Lakes 37 794 21.5 10.
Ronnie Fields, Rockford 26 461 17.7
3. Ezra Williams, Great Lakes 22 438 19.9 11.
Jackie Butler, Great Lakes 37 646 17.5
4. Stais Boseman, Rockford 37 722 19.5 12.
Charles Gaines, Michigan 36 627 17.4
5. Britton Johnsen, Idaho 30 562 18.7 13.
DeSean Hadley, Sioux Falls 37 633 17.1
6. Kasib Powell, Great Lakes 26 482 18.5 14.
Maurice Baker, Dakota 30 508 16.9
7. Marshall Phillips, Rockford 30 555 18.5 15. Brant
Bailey, Rockford 28 467 16.7
8. David Graves, Gary 34 617 18.1 16.
Jemeil Rich, Gary 28 462 16.5

1. Charles Gaines, Michigan 36 427 11.9 1.
Charles Gaines, Michigan 36 152 4.2
2. Sam Clancy, Idaho 38 411 10.8 2.
Jackie Butler, Great Lakes 37 125 3.4
3. Jackie Butler, Great Lakes 37 388 10.5 3. Derek
Hood, Yakima 28 93 3.3
4. Derek Hood, Yakima 28 274 9.8 4. Sam
Clancy, Idaho 38 120 3.2
5. Shelly Clark, Gary 34 308 9.1 5.
Carlos Daniel, Yakima 37 93 2.5
6. Noel Felix, Yakima 20 159 8.0 6. Noel
Felix, Yakima 20 50 2.5
7. Carlos Daniel, Yakima 37 292 7.9 7.
Patrick Okafor, Idaho 31 76 2.5
8. Brian Lubeck, Rockford 37 247 6.7 8. Shawn
Daniels, Dakota 36 88 2.4

1. Jemeil Rich, Gary 28 286 10.2 1.
Jemeil Rich, Gary 28 89 3.2
2. Randy Livingston, Sioux Falls 34 269 7.9 2.
Marshall Phillips, Rockford 30 73 2.4
3. Taliek Brown, Idaho 33 234 7.1 3. Ezra
Williams, Great Lakes 22 52 2.4
4. Maurice Baker, Dakota 30 201 6.7 4.
Ronnie Fields, Rockford 26 54 2.1
5. Darrick Martin, Michigan 22 147 6.7 5. Stais
Boseman, Rockford 37 75 2.0
6. Stais Boseman, Rockford 37 188 5.1 6. Randy
Livingston, Sioux Falls 34 67 2.0
7. Ronnie Fields, Rockford 26 114 4.4 7.
Maurice Baker, Dakota 30 56 1.9
8. Trevor Huffman, Great Lakes 26 103 4.0 8.
DeSean Hadley, Sioux Falls 37 56 1.5

1. Lawrence Nelson, Gary 55 85 0.647 1.
Darrick Martin, Michigan 70 77 0.909
2. Sidney Holmes, Rockford 46 77 0.597 2. Tommy
Adams, Idaho 63 71 0.887
3. Shawn Daniels, Dakota 144 246 0.585 3.
DeSean Hadley, Sioux Falls 196 225 0.871
4. Darrin Hancock, Gary 127 219 0.580 4. Ezra
Williams, Great Lakes 105 122 0.861
5. Charles Gaines, Michigan 233 407 0.572 5. Sam
Mack, Michigan 79 92 0.859
6. Renaldo Major, Gary 37 67 0.552 6.
Melvin Sanders, Dakota 97 115 0.843
7. Patrick Okafor, Idaho 109 201 0.542 7. Randy
Livingston, Sioux Falls 137 164 0.835
7. Brant Bailey, Rockford 150 277 0.542 8.
Britton Johnsen, Idaho 136 163 0.834

1. Ezra Williams, Great Lakes 49 112 0.438 1. Keith
Closs, Gary 27 108 4.0
2. Donald Williams, Idaho 54 125 0.432 2. Sam
Clancy, Idaho 38 90 2.4
3. Maurice Baker, Dakota 29 69 0.420 3.
Jackie Butler, Great Lakes 37 54 1.5
4. Brian Lubeck, Rockford 67 162 0.414 4. Noel
Felix, Yakima 20 24 1.2
5. Rich Melzer, Sioux Falls 31 77 0.403 5.
Lawrence Nelson, Gary 24 27 1.1
6. Marshall Phillips, Rockford 35 87 0.402 6. Derek
Hood, Yakima 28 24 0.9
7. David Graves, Gary 70 176 0.398 7. Kasib
Powell, Great Lakes 26 22 0.8
8. Darrin Hancock, Gary 18 46 0.391 8.
Carlos Daniel, Yakima 37 29 0.8

8. UPCOMING SCHEDULE (From Games of February 16 – 22)
Wednesday, February 16
Sioux Falls at Idaho
Great Lakes at Michigan

Thursday, February 17
Gary at Michigan

Friday, February 18
Idaho at Gary
Dakota at Sioux Falls

Saturday, February 19
Idaho at Gary
Yakima at Sioux Falls

Sunday, February 20
No Games Scheduled

Monday, February 21
Yakima at Dakota

Tuesday, February 22
Great Lakes at Gary
Idaho at Rockford

On Feb. 19, 1979, the first season after the Eastern Basketball
Association was renamed the CBA, the Anchorage Northern Knights set league
records for points in a game (183), points in a half (99 in the 2nd), and
field goals in a game (74) during a 183-140 victory over the Maine
Lumberjacks. The Knights found themselves on the flip-side of the field
goal record on March 11, 1982 when the Billings Volcanos tied the mark
during a 174-128 win over Anchorage.

Movie Review: Baby Face Nelson (1995)

One thing that Hollywood continually messes up is the history in movies set in historical times that are about actual people from the past. This is unfortunate since movies are potentially a great teaching tool. The excuse that film makers generally make for historically inaccuracy is that changes have to be made in order to make the movie interesting.

One historical personage is that of Lester Gillis aka George “Baby Face” Nelson. Nelson was one of the most infamous bank robbers of the 1930’s. His exploits were such that an historically accurate movie about him would be most entertaining especially since he was associated at various times with the likes of Al Capone & John Dillinger. However, this was not the path taken by executive producer Roger Corman in the making of 1995’s Baby Face Nelson starring C. Thomas Howell as the legendary criminal. This movie twists and distorts Nelson’s life story beyond recognition.

The problems with this movie begin with the casting. Martin Kove is cast as the infamous gangster John Dillinger despite the fact that Kove does not look or sound like Dillinger or, for that matter, like any kind of gangster. In this movie, Kove has long red hair with a mustache that is way much too thick to be Dillinger’s. Another questionable casting decision is that of F. Murray Abraham as Al Capone. Except for the fact that they both have black hair, Abraham looks nothing like Capone. C. Thomas Howell sports a mustache throughout the entire show as Nelson, yet the real Nelson preferred the clean shaven look. A related problem is that Nelson’s friend and accomplice John Paul Chase was renamed in the movie, “Paul Chance.” What is is the sense of casting actors who look nothing like the persons who they are supposed to portray?

After a perfunctory scene featuring Nelson as a little kid, the movie begins with Nelson already a bank robber who’s enjoying the high life. He meets and romances a dime store clerk named Helen Womack who he eventually marries. Nelson also serves for a time as an enforcer for Al Capone. In real life, Capone and Nelson came to an amicable parting of the ways. In the movie, Capone and Nelson are riding in a car when Capone starts screaming at Nelson, hits him in the mouth twice and then throws him out of the car.

One of the worst aspects of this movie is the way that law enforcement is portrayed. Law enforcement is clearly cast as the real bad guys with the Federal Bureau of Investigation in particular made to look bad. In this movie, FBI agents shoot people for the hell of it while gangsters like Nelson shoot people only for a reason. In this movie, Nelson is a heroic classy killer with his own code of ethics who was superior to the low lifes in the police and FBI. In real life, he was a cold blooded killer who killed for the sheer enjoyment of it. In the movie, Nelson is portrayed as a brave man who is a crack shot. The FBI agents can’t hit most anyone they shoot at except Dillinger’s girlfriend at the wedding of Baby Face and Helen. The FBI is also pictured as being basically a bunch of cowards who are not cool cats like Nelson and his friends.

The final scene of the movie where Baby Face Nelson finally goes down for the count against the FBI is a particularly bogus job by the film makers. In real life, 2 FBI agents spotted Nelson driving a stolen car with his wife and accomplice Chase with him. Once the agents started chasing him, Nelson pulled over and took out his guns and engaged in a battle with the agents. In the end, both Nelson and the agents died, but the wife and accomplice were able to make their getaway. In the movie, Nelson and friends are in their car headed towards the Canadian border where they are confronted by 10 FBI agents and a Canadian border guard. There is a massive shootout in which Nelson winds up dead and his wife and accomplice captured.

The bottom line is if you want a movie that is about the life and times of George “Baby Face” Nelson then this movie is worthless. To this day, Hollywood has never made a good, historically accurate, movie about Nelson despite the profoundly dramatic, not to mention tragic life he lived.

Movie Review: Dementia 13 (1963)

There are some movies that really are not organically whole. Instead, they are more like messes of discordant elements thrown together into a feature length film that is not a real movie. Invariably, these so-called movies are horrible productions. One such alleged movie is 1963’s Dementia 13.

Before going on into the review, its is necessary to lay down the background behind the genesis of this particular flick. Back in the 1960’s, there were basically 2 different circuits for movie distribution. The first and most glamorous was the A Theater circuit on which the big budget Hollywood studio productions were circulated. The other, more obscure circuit, was that of the drive-ins and the B Theaters that exhibited low budget productions and flicks of genres (particularly horror and “film noir”) that the big studios rarely, if ever, touched. The origins of this dual circuitry date back to the early days of the film industry. With the decline and fall of the drive-ins and, to a great extent, the B Theaters, the only ways that low budget fimmakers can get their movies shown are made for TV movies whether they are for cable TV or direct to the public either on DVD or videotape. Some of these flicks are also shown at film festivals such as Sundance, but that is only a small source of revenue at the moment.

Now, back in 1963 the largest studio catering to the B circuit was American International Pictures (AIP) that employed an ambitious producer named Roger Corman. One of Corman’s proteges at the time was a dude by name of Francis Ford Coppola. Coppola was both an aspiring screenwriter and also the assistant director on a flick called “The Young Racers.” Bored by the work, Coppola quickly wrote up a screenplay called “Dementia 13” and persuaded both Corman and the AIP honchos to put up $22,000 to make Dementia 13 simultaneously with “The Young Racers” using the same sets and cast of the other movie. Thus it was that 2 movies were produced at the same time, which is something that Hollywood rarely does and for good reason as the results are generally poor. The shooting time for Dementia 13 was only
2 weeks which helped to further lessen the film’s quality.

This movie has one of the stupidest openings of all time. A man and his wife (Luana Anders) are in a row boat talking about his elderly mother and how the family fortune will be divvied up once mom dies. For some strange reason, he tells his wife that if he dies of heart attack, she will be cut out of the will. In one of those concidences that occur only in movies, in less than a minute he has a heart attack and dies in the boat. His wife then dumps him overboard and goes to the family reunion, which conveniently started the very next day, telling everyone that her husband is on a business trip.

As it turns out, this is a rather strange family. All of the family members are supposed to be Irish and live in Ireland, however no one has even the slightest Irish accent. In fact, none of the other “Irish” characters in the movie have Irish accents either. Everybody in this flick talks like Midwesterners. This raises the question of why have the movie placed in Ireland with allegedly Irish people when nobody speaks like real Irish folk. Why not set the movie in America?

There are some interesting characters in Dementia 13. There is a poacher who the family shelters for some strange reason from the game wardens. The old lady is quite strange and obsessed with the death of her 7-year old daughter many years ago. The scheming, conniving wife of the dead man is also interesting in her own way. There is also an axe murderer.

However, both the setup and these characters are completely wasted on a bad script, poor acting and an awful production. Continuity is totally lacking in this movie. Although the movie supposedly takes place over a weekend family reunion, the hair color/length of the character played by Luana Anders changes repeatedly. In one memorable scene, Anders is sitting at a table talking with other family members. She is first shown in a long sleeved sweater with long platinum blond hair. After the camera pans to one of her in-laws, it pans back to Anders whose hair has suddenly turned browner and is now wearing a sleeveless blouse. Less than a minute later, Anders is back with both super white hair and long sleeves.

One reason why Dementia 13 is such a bad flick is that Coppola’s screenplay was only a rough draft when it got the green light. Another is the fact that Corman made heavy use of outtakes from previous films that the actors were in, as well as surplus film from “The Young Racers,” which accounts for most of the continuity problems. The whole show reeks of both hasty production work and a poorly thought out script.

Obviously, there is no way that anyone at AIP could possibly have thought that Dementia 13 could have been anything other than a piece of dreck. The fact that they made it under those conditions and, even worse, actually released it, speaks volumes about the level of arrogance that existed in AIP circa 1963 due to the fact that it was top dog in the B-film world. They literally thought that they could make and release any piece of garbage and it would sell. The fact thatDementia 13 turned out to be a profitable endeavor only furthered their increasing lack of commitment to quality.

This development was ruinous in the long run for both AIP and the world of low budget films in general. As time went on and dreck increasingly filled up the drive ins and B-theaters, movie fans abandoned those places. The great majority of these theaters either went out of business or switched over to showing big budget Hollywood productions. One such theater was the drive in at Platteville, Wisconsin where this writer grew up that shut its doors circa 1980.

Thus, the true significance of Dementia 13 is not as a movie, but as an event. The financial success of this pathetic production encouraged B-film producers to make and release movies with increasing lack of regard for their level of quality. In the long run, this tendency brought about the near death of what was once a strong and vibrant part of the movie making scene. Today, there is only a small remnant that desperately clings for its very survival in a world where the vast majority of movie reviewers completely ignore their productions and the general public is oblivious to their work.

As for young screenwriter Francis Ford Coppola, he has moved on to bigger and better things. He has also developed quite a reputation for being an egomaniac. However, one movie that he never ever even so much as mentions in his interviews is Dementia 13. Under the circumstances, one can hardly blame him.

Shut Up, Jon L. Breen

One of the worst aspects of contemporary American civilization is the presence of self-appointed grand poobahs who deign to lord over the rest of us and tell us how we should live our lives. These persons presume that they are far smarter than the rest of us. One such individual is Jon L. Breen of the Weekly Standard
magazine. Breen owes his position to his late father who was a far better mystery writer than the son.

In a
recent article on the Weekly Standard website
Breen claims that folks who read mystery novels that are set in historical times and/or involve real life folks from times past. Breen opines that:

As cultural literacy declines, the everyday reader or viewer may have a harder and harder time making the needed distinctions between the real and the fanciful.

Yes, you read that right. According to Breen, we common folk just are not culturally literate (whatever that means) to make distinctions for ourselves. Better to let the likes of Jon L. Breen (who himself has yet to write any mystery fiction that’s actually worth reading) dictate to the rest of us just what we should read and how to read it.

To this I say: Jon L. Breen shut up and leave the rest of us alone.

Pluto: Uniquely American Planet

An article that was recently published on the Space Review website makes the unusual argument that Pluto is an uniquely American planet . This may seem like a stretch, however, if you think about it, it makes sense.


1: The 1st in-depth search for the 9th planet was conducted by American Percival Lowell.

2: The discoverer of Pluto was the American Clyde Tombaugh.

3: Almost all of the discoveries in the region of space around Pluto aka the Kuiper Belt have been made by Americans.

4: All current plans for further exploration of the Pluto area are done by the American NASA agency.

Pluto: Discovered by Americans, explored by Americans and hopefully someday settled by Americans.

Movie Review: The Game of Death (2000)

Throughout the past 40 years or so, one thing that movie fans could count on was that if Roger Corman had anything to do with a movie, then that flick was almost certainly a piece of trash. It was not always so. Back during the period, 1960-1965, Corman was responsible for a decent number of good films including several adaptations of stories by Edgar Allan Poe. Despite the fact that these movies were quite profitable, Corman’s interests turned away from doing the quality act towards the cheap and tawdry. This trend accelerated after he formed his own studio and produced a whole raft of flicks for the drive-in circuit. Things got even worse after he entered the TV production business, mainly catering to the utterly low-brow likes of the Sci-Fi Channel.

To be sure, there were a few shows here and there that were worth watching with a few diamonds in a haystack of drivel. One such diamond is the movie that is under consideration here, The Game of Death. Directed on location in Ireland by Rachel Samuels on a $2 Million budget, this movie is a throwback to Corman’s days as a quality filmmaker.

The Game of Death is a film version of Robert Louis Stevenson’s short story “The Suicide Club.” Stevenson’s short story has an unusual, not to mention, dark premise but is a bit too short for a feature length movie. However, producer Corman & director Samuels expanded Stevenson’s idea and took it to the limit. Jonathan Pryce is wonderfully cast as Mr. Bourne, the sinister mastermind behind a card game of death. It is not too much of a stretch to say that based on this movie alone, Pryce may very be the latter day version of Vincent Price, the consummate horror actor of his time.

The Game of Death follows a British war hero, Captain Henry Joyce (David Morrissey) in 1899 London whose wife died 6 months earlier, but he cannot face living any longer without her. However, he fears taking his own life since he is a bit of a coward.

One night, at a bar, Capt. Joyce confides his dilemma to an acquaintance who then tells Joyce that he is a “ruined man.” The acquaintance also tells the captain that he too is a ruined man and is a member of the Suicide Club that exists to allow its members to exit this life without the social stigma of suicide. Capt. Joyce accepts the fellow’s invitation to join the club and so they wind up at Mr. Bourne’s sumptuous mansion where the club holds its meetings.

Upon joining the club, Capt. Joyce is informed that, “the first rule of suicide club is that you don’t talk about suicide club.” The members are all members of the aristocracy. Only one of the members is a female. This is Sarah Wolverton (Catherine Siggins), attracts his attention since she strongly resembles Capt. Joyce’s late wife. Wolverton’s reason for suicide was that she married a lieutenant in the British Army who was a “commoner” as folks who were not in the nobility were styled in the Victorian Era. Her politically powerful father arranged for her husband to be sent to the Sudan on an expedition and the local commander sent him on what amounted to a suicide mission. Another, related, reason for her suicidal wishes was the fact that her mother died while in childbirth and her father never forgave Sarah for it with the result that he treated her like dirt from that point on.

The Game of Death is a throwback to Corman’s early1960’s inexpensive but excellent literary adaptations. This movie’s chief virtues are in the technical aspects, as was the case with Corman’s Poe films. This movie is wonderfully lit, the sound is crisp, the costume and production design nothing short of excellent. The acting in this film is superior to that in many big budget Hollywood productions. The script was especially good.

The general excellence of The Game of Death is such that it makes you wonder what if Roger Corman stuck to the quality act throughout his career. It is most highly recommended.

Movie Review: Triggermen (2002)

One of the genres in filmdom that’s the hardest to pull off successfully, if not the hardest, is the comedy drama or “dramady.” Another undertaking that is difficult to pull off is ripping off another, successful, filmmaker’s works without making it too obvious that your film is a ripoff. If a film attempts to pull off both feats simultaneously, then the end result is almost always an abortion. One such movie is 2002’s Triggermen.

Triggermen is an attempt to ripoff the likes of Quentin Taratino & Guy Ritchie whilst being an action packed fun filled gangster flick at the same time. The film begins thusly: stuck in Chicago practically penniless, small-time British crooks Pete (Neil Morrissey) and Andy (Adrian Dunbar) can’t believe their luck when a stolen briefcase nets them a bundle of cash and the key to a luxurious hotel room.

However, there is a catch: local mafia boss Franco D’Amico (Louis DiBianco) has mistaken them for assassins and expects them to knock off his chief rival Ben Cutler (Pete Postlethwaite). Meanwhile, the real contract killers or “triggermen”, super sharp Terry (Donnie Wahlberg) and moronic Tommy (Michael Rapaport), are left wondering why the man who hired them hasn’t got in touch.

Yes folks, Triggermen is also yet another entry in the beaten half to death cliche plot of “small time hoods after a quick buck get in way over their heads with big time gangsters.” Triggermen certainly adds another notch if anybody’s counting. We have all been down this road too many times for black comedies like this to provoke more than an apathetic shrug. Especially when there is neither comedy or darkness to the movie.

Returning to the movie, matters get unnecessarily complicated when Terry starts to lust after Emma (Claire Forlani), the daughter of the man he’s supposed to kill, and by the sudden arrival of Pete’s obviously pregnant wife Penny (Amanda Plummer). Meanwhile, the small time hoods debate whether they should kill Cutler as their inadvertant employer expects them to or just simply cut and run. Instead of adding any humor or suspense to the story, these developments only add to the boredom of it all.

This film had a particularly good cast (especially Dunbar, Forlani, Morissey & Whalberg) and then proceeded to waste the acting talent at its disposal. Triggermen could have been a pretty funny movie. It had all of the classic elements including incompetent villains, mistaken identity, money, pretty girl, etc., but was slow, boring, and most importantly, not funny.

Perhaps the biggest waste of talent is that of Neil Morrissey, star of numerous British TV series who had a shot at international exposure in this movie. Its a shame that the acting talent that he exhibited in this flick was completely wasted on such a pathetic film. Another wasted talent is that of Claire Florani who has shown herself to be a quite talented actress in other productions. However, in Triggermen, her role required little more than sitting around looking pretty and trying to be polite to the thug who’s trying to romance her.

The best part of Triggermen was the washed-out cinematography that gave it a fairly unique look. Another decent aspect of this flick was the fact that the end credits scroll backwards down the screen. That was a nice touch.
Its a shame that the thought that was applied to the photography and credits was not utilized on behalf of the script or its direction. As a result, Triggermen is a flick to avoid.