One Tin Soldier Rode Away…

I am shocked and saddened to learn that Tom Laughlin has passed away.  Even though he was 82, his death was unexpected.  For those of you who do not know who he is, I consider him to be the grandfather of the Independent Film.  He is the one who took on Warner Bros. and then distributed his own films which are still among the highest selling films of all time.  I am referring to the “Billy Jack” Trilogy.  These films inspired an entire generation to look within themselves and to try to make a difference in the world.  The release of “Billy Jack” also signaled the birth of a whole new way of marketing film–and it changed the industry whether some recognize this or not.  The world of Independent Film owes this man much more than people realize.  So it is here I will pay my tribute. I cannot think of a more fitting tribute than to close with this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qswm7lHp7oY

My thoughts and prayers go out to his friends, his wife of 60 years, Delores, and his children and grandchildren.

Here is a copy of the obituary as well:Obituary – Tom Laughlin (1)

The World of Indie Films…And Why They WORK~!

This is a matter of opinion so I am really not concerned with who agrees with me since I am simply an audience member who is NOT part of the academy that LOVES  independent films.  Indie films do work and are gaining a wider audience. Has anyone ever asked why this is? I have.  The reason they are gaining status and are respected–even if low-budget–is that they are perceived to not be part of the Hollywood produced, high-budget, politically correct celluloid productions that seem to be irritating the hell out of everyone at this point.  They hype around such productions is irritating audiences as well when they get into a theater to see a much-anticipated film only to be highly disappointed.

There is a trend in major Hollywood productions as of late to keep putting out sequels upon sequels (E.G.–Pirates of the Caribbean) and such.  Now there is “Footloose” and “The Thing” which are remakes–and a “Dirty Dancing” remake is in the works from what I hear.  If Hollywood cannot come up with original ideas, they need new blood running the place and that’s all I have to say on that.  While some of these films do well, and are actually good, they only draw into the theaters for short terms due to VOD and rapid DVD releases.  This is not good for the studios or the actors/actresses so I don’t know why the hell they engage in this type of marketing.

They should not make these available for satellite for at least 90 days after release–and no vinyl productions for as long.  This is, to me, a form of “suicide marketing”.  Films can do better at the box office if they simply held off on making them available to the redistribution markets for at least 90 days.  I am not an actor either, but this damned form of marketing has done more damage to the acting profession and the studios than any type of thing I’ve noticed…That is, unless the name “Depp” is attached to it.

In either case, unless it’s a good Indie film, I wait for the bloody dvd.   The only movies I will buy a ticket for are those that are recommended by certain people I keep an eye on.  I saw “The Conspirator” and it is Oscar material.  I saw “The Help”. It is also.  I expect several to come from the latter.  However, when I notice how actors bring a role to life–that is what keeps me buying tickets to see their movies.  I loved “Red” and I loved the 2009 “Star Trek”.  The roles in those were played in a way that were believable enough to enjoy–and there weren’t a lot of eye candy models/actors/actresses  pretending they knew how to act.   I was pretty well burned  out on theaters in the late 70’s because of all the bullshit movies that were coming out–with a FEW exceptions.

IN THE 70’s–the Billy Jack movies got my attention.    The movie had real points to be made.  Now Mark Wahlberg has the rights to the story.  IF he is smart, he will not pull a Johnny Depp and take the lead part himself.  When an actor buys the rights to something so they can star in it and put their own spin on it–a lot of everyday people out here call it “Drew Berrymore Syndrome”.  Buy the rights and you’re the star of it–and it is not always for the best, either.  Believe me if people were more in touch with the audiences and less concerned with the thoughts of the academy, they would knock this crap off too.

If I were Wahlberg, I would take a strong look at Alex O’Loughlin (Hawaii 5-0)…He has just the cool to pull that role off…If you saw the episode at the end where Patti Duke and Peter Fonda co-starred, then you KNOW what I’m talking about. Purists will say, well  he’s an Aussie…Well you know what? WHO gives a rat’s ass where he was born and/or raised?  That guy can act and he can give that part justice!  I don’t see critics in an uproar when Rick Springfield plays and American so what the hell is wrong with this guy playing a man who is part Indian? I have no problem with that and I am part Comanche Indian.

Now if Wahlberg ditches the cheesy music and the football yoga references and such, fine.  The story can still work anyway–but whoever he has to play Billy Jack is going to have to have the same “cool” that Tom Laughlin has and he’s going to have to NOT pick some well-known beautiful older actress to play Jean. No offense but 90% of the eye candy actresses could never bring  justice to her character either.  If I were going to pick anyone for Jean, I’d narrow it down to Jessica Chastain OR Bryce Dallas Howard.

Right now, the only guy I can see playing Billy is O’Loughlin.  AND I would strongly consider a lesser known actor for Bernard too.  Gary Cairns does come to mind here.  The problem is, they need to make Bernard evil as hell and have him be a bit more intelligent–period!  He was portrayed as an aloof dunce in the original and I think the story line would be better served if he were made to look evil or at least FULL of angst.  He also needs to be articulate, intelligent and crazy like a damned fox!

Now for Bernard’s dad, the sheriff and the governor–I’d say just be careful…Pick actors known for playing some pretty mean bastards there…For Bernard’s dad, I’d see about getting Christopher Pennock.  If it were up to me, I’d pick Ben Cross to play the prosecutor or the leader of the military operation–if they put the trial in.  That scene where one of the military men lays down the rifle and joins on the side of the Freedom School spoke volumes to me.  I’d re-write it to where whoever Cross plays if in the military aspect of it, is the first one to lay the rifle down and move toward the students to join them. I have not forgotten Kent State yet, but if they do put this in rather than do a sequel, then this would rock–totally. I am all about the symbolic gesture when it comes to what SHOULD have been.

Part of the appeal for the Billy Jack movies was that there were people who were of Native American descent in the cast as well.  I would strongly urge Wahlberg to reach out to those communities and get Dennis Quaid involved with this somehow.  The man has a vast knowledge about Native American culture and can help steer Wahlberg in the right direction with this.  This movie also pointed out a lot of social injustices that were taking place.  Some of those still are–such as the slaughtering of horses by the government. These social issues that are still ever-present are things that Wahlberg, if he can get Quaid to help, can truly capitalize on by bringing attention to the fact that these issues are not fixed–not by a long shot.

I want to finish here on a lighter note by saying that there is an Independent Film out that is going to make some serious money for Sean Penn.  It is called “This Must Be the Place”.  Check it out here:  http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1440345/   This film has already snagged an award at Cannes, if I’m not mistaken!  This looks like it is one of Penn’s best roles in a while now!

I am telling you these independent film makers and the actors who choose to work for them will be better off in the long run for it!  The creative potential and the freedom within that industry is tremendous in that market!  I don’t even have to be in the field to see that the indie film is only going to grow–much to the dismay of its competition in Hollywood!

Indie films work because many are in touch with their audiences–which is something a lot of the major studios in Hollywood tend to ignore.  The indie market is on the rise.  I can assure you all of that!  I hope you enjoyed my runaway thought train on this as well.  I just feel that as a viewing member of a discriminating audience the loves intelligent story-lines, that I needed to play around with this a bit!

The Facebook Page that turned me around…

The weekend is coming and I know a big change is coming for me as well.  I can’t say “what” or “how” I know–but this feeling is never wrong!  I started working for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice in 2006.  I went there because I wanted to make a difference and since I have left it, I’ve been told that I have, so leaving it made me feel a  lot better about my decision to leave it.  When I became a supervisor it wasn’t long before I saw problems with the pecking order on my unit.  Therefore, I have no regrets. 

When I was younger, I hid in my room a lot.  I didn’t go out as a teenager much (if at all) and when in college, I wasn’t that much of a social creature either.  What made me that way is a long story which I won’t go into, but I avoided theaters and concerts for the most part.  I did watch old movies with my father or my mom…To me those films represented an era that I could only ever dream of being a part of.  My childhood was a rather turbulent one, which I won’t detail here–but it led to my attitude.

I was keeping company with my teachers more than my peers because, quite frankly,  kids my age drove me nuts.  I could not see the logic in some of the stuff that went on as far as my peers go.  Besides I hated cliques with a purple passion.  Therefore, I kept few friends and I trusted very few people.  I don’t get invitations to class reunions either because I became more free with my opinions. I do not think anyone is better than anyone else, but I detested how they formed cliques and treated others who weren’t “pretty” or “athletic”–and was quick to let them know it…  

I was also bullied quite a few times.  Once by a coach who made a comment about how women don’t “usually go around shooting themselves because they don’t want to mess up their looks”.  The whole class waited for my reaction since I had just come back after missing school due to my stepmother committing suicide when I was 14.  I damned near quit school then.  Had my dad been less stubborn about wanting me to finish, I would have quit rather than deal with anymore BS. They said this coach was out-of-town and such so he just wasn’t informed,  but he worked for DPS in a neighboring county–where her body was found–so I find it hard to believe to this day sometimes.  However, me being me, I dropped it and took the high road–literally.  I picked up my pen and furiously created more worlds and killed more bullies there than anyone would ever want to know about.  I also ended up in the counselor’s office for things I’d pull or write…

I goto picked on all through school and took the high road. One day a boy in the Junior class saw me writing furiously and asked me “Who are you going to kill today?”  Look at this pic below…I swear it’s how I looked only I had black eyeliner on too…I simply looked at him rather coldly and said, “I dunno…Maybe you.”  Five minutes later I was in the counselor’s office again.  He laughed because he knew I made that kid sweat bullets.  He also saw through my front and knew it was my way of telling them all to screw off.  Anyway here’s the pic:

Now picture this: JET BLACK hair, dark red lipstick, black eyeliner and eyebrows--and the Uma Thurman "I'm gonna kick your ass look" and you'll have my look from 1980 when my Dad wasn't watching...

 

And people I grew up with  wonder WHY he didn’t like for me to go around ANYWHERE when payday hit!  In 1981, he wouldn’t even let me go see “Chariots of Fire” so like a bonehead, I sneaked out at 8 o’clock–when he  passed out…I went to the mall of Abilene and blew my paycheck on clothes and he never noticed.  I stayed pissed for three years because he wouldn’t let me go see the “Rocky Horror Picture Show” or “The Sex Pistols” too…AC/DC was definitely out of the question…To him, they were all devil worshippers…Hmm…I was a devil myself when I got mad back then.  Read the bullying blogs about what a few girls and I had to deal with and how we stopped that problem for us…

I wasn’t a violent kid, but I knew when and how to fight back.  I stayed reclusive for years.  I went to church and went home.  I didn’t go to theaters or anything for a very long time after graduation.  I may have went once or twice in the 80’s and once in the 90’s.  I hated “Star Wars” but loved “The Wrath of Khan“.  In fact I think in the late 80’s or early 90’s I saw “Pet Cemetary” at the insistence of my ex.  I never went again after that unless nagged and for those I slept through them and pissed my sister off.  I love her but I hated theaters.  They are just too damned loud most of the time.  Now I carry cotton to put in my ears.  I can hear it in normal mode then…Here are a couple of stills from the best damned movies from the 70’s that I did go to AND liked:

You can't say crap about the 1970's without mentioning "Billy Jack"...This trilogy had a lot to do with my outlook later on...He STOOD for something good!

                                                                                    

And this one was simply FREAKING FUNNY!

 

Well as I said, I skipped Chariots of Fire in 1981–the year I graduated from High School.  I went to college and marched in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City that year.  It was also when I got to go to Radio City Music Hall and see what was behind the Christmas pageant backstage–live animals and such.  I then realized that the trip was for the sponsors and not us…We were told that we had to go to some other attraction.  I said, “Screw that! I’ve been up since 3 a.m., marched that parade route in 18 degree weather twice and have been out all damned day! I’m going back to the hotel first chance I get!”  I ducked away from my group near the hotel and started to double back.  I bought a pretzel and asked a woman where I could find a place where it was nice and quiet.  She pointed to St. Patrick’s Cathedral. I promise you I stayed in that slice of Heaven for an hour.  I missed my hiding place on the roof of the garage where I could stare up at the stars and just simply wind down.  I was also very, very tired.

I went to the hotel and went to my room and crashed.  None of the chaperones or the band director realized I wasn’t there.  😀  I got back home 3 days later and was relieved to be there.  Shopping at Macy’s and such was fun, but I just wanted to go home.  My birthday was November 25 and I wasn’t home for that either.  After that–I went right back to recluse mode.  One might think I’d have enjoyed that experience being out in “the world” for once, but I still feared dealing with crowds and such–and made myself go.  I was pressured to sing in choir too and hated that.  I don’t know why, because they liked it, but not me.  I almost ran off that year to California  to join a punk rock band. 

Instead I went through 2 bad marriages, had 3 kids, got a degree, etc…I also became worse when it came to being reclusive.  I trusted no one–especially NON family members.   In 2006 I went to work at a prison…Strangely enough, I felt “safe” there.  Why I do not know.  I had a knack for calming offenders down and dealing with some BS.  But I realized after becoming a sergeant and a failed relationship that I was slipping back into my recluse mode.  I wouldn’t even go home when I was off.  I hated being around people. I still have trouble with it.  My sister and my mother can’t understand it, but my Grandmother did. I told her EVERYTHING…Now she was gone. 

Anyway I got bored to shit one night.  I was going bat shit crazy at 3 a.m.–working out and such.  I got to thinking about things I used to watch when I was a kid and started surfing the internet.  I came across hulu.com and Adam-12…I got a kick out of watching that.  Then I started playing around looking for more shows I watched when I was a kid.  I saw “Dark Shadows” on there.  I didn’t realize I’d clicked on a remake, and almost started to surf again, until I realized the first episode was a movie.   I couldn’t freaking believe it!  This show was DAMNED good!  Then I started paying attention to the cast in it…I noticed an actor named “Ben Cross”. 

I talked to an old classmate on Facebook and asked her if she ever heard of this guy–like a dumbass.  She said, “That’s the guy in “Chariots of Fire”–you know, that movie our group went to see at graduation and your dad wouldn’t let you go so you decided to be a shithead and go to Abilene without us?”  My first response was “The What of the What?” because I called her while I was half-awake.

“Oh…Yeah…I remember now.”  I told her.  I only preferred older movies until I saw this.  I felt–and still feel it was well acted and such and it reminded me of other stuff I would watch–even though I wanted to kick Angelique’s ass–and always did–even when I watched the original in kindergarten.  I viewed her as a bully. I still do.  Ben made Barnabas bad ass!  As much as I loved Jonathan Frid as a kid–I really liked how he made his version of the vampire a bit more realistic. 

From there a chain reaction began.  I later found his Facebook page.  Then I saw a link to a site on his page that said “flaurena” and started getting jewelry from there.  It didn’t click that this was his daughter at first, but she made pieces (custom pieces) for me that reminded me of where I came from.  I began looking into my family tree and my Native American heritage as a result.  Hell I think she probably knows more about what I’m thinking than I do when I get her to make pieces for me!  Here is picture of one of them:

Well I can't rotate it, but take note of the circle and the feathers...Then the colors. I wear this when I go to the mountain to meditate a lot too...

I promise you it is much prettier in life than in pictures.  Sorry I can’t rotate the thing!
 
I quit my job at the prison as I said earlier and returned to teaching in 2010, but I also buy a lot of  Ben’s work.  The brat pack really didn’t do much for me, but I know if I had gone to COF then, I would have liked it.  I have a much more positive view of the world now–and am much better for it.  I also found my purpose.  If it had not been for finding that link on hulu.com, I would still be in recluse mode–shutting out the world.  I get out more now and explore things now.  It’s as if I am enjoying a life now I couldn’t seem to get when I was younger–but I am much better for it.  I am also a lot wiser. 
 
More importantly, I picked up a pen again–but I am not using it to escape from the world and kill off the bullies, I am using it to try to make a difference as these small things have made in my life.  I am grateful that they are around, and I am grateful to my teachers because they have been in my corner all these years and I never realized it until I began talking to them.  They gave to me.  It’s time for me to give back.   And these two people were the ones that helped me get my head out of my ass after all these years and start doing something different with my life.  If you are in a rut now, I hope you find your way out too…Have a great weekend!
 
I really am grateful to have come across them…Sometimes I call them the “father-daughter tag team”…LOL 
 
 

That father-daughter tag team I get a kick out of!

 
 
My next goal is to get to Peru or Costa Rica–whichever I can get to first!