Monday, April 13, 2009

The Invisible Hook

The Hidden Economics Of Pirates

Author: Peter Leeson
Publisher: Princeton, 2009

Arr! Economics and pirates!
Two of my favorite subjects.

I have high hopes for this book.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

A Fistful Of Dollars

Released: 1964
Director: Sergio Leone
Star:Clint Eastwood

This would be Clint Eastwood's first turn as The Man With No Name.
Teamed with director Sergio Leone in this remake of Akira Kurosawa's Yojimbo, Eastwood would create an iconic character that would redefine the western hero and influence many of Eastwood's subsequent movies.

By the time Fistful was released, Johns Ford and Wayne practically owned the western genre.
Ford had defined what a western was, how it looked and played out; and Wayne defined the western hero, how he acted, what moral code he adhered to.

Fistful changed all this.

Here was something new and exciting. Something for the Rock n Roll generation.
From the moment Clint Eastwood's character guns down four hombres for refusing to apologize to his mule, you know you're in for something new and different.

Eastwood's man with no name was more anti-hero than good guy with a white hat.

The plot of Fistful is simple: two families are engaged in a vendetta, and Eastwood's stranger determines to play one against the other to his financial advantage, changing allegiances each time it suits his purpose.

He is, to a great extent, in it for himself.
There is little honor to had from the situation.

It's a rough, raw world.
And Leone's stylized direction, Ennio Morricone's weird, infectious score, and Eastwood's laconic, shoot first and don't bother asking questions attitude are perfectly suited to it.

Though this is not the best of the Dollars Trilogy, it is the beginning, and it only gets better as it develops with each successive film.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Treasure Island

Author: Robert Louis Stevenson
Published 1883

This is it. The X that marks the spot. The touchstone. The cornerstone. The alpha and omega of all things piratical.

That it is still read and revered to this day is testament to its greatness. Yes, greatness.

Some may protest at this lofty assessment, arguing that it is simply a child's adventure story.
And they'd be right.
But therein lies it greatness.

It appeals to the imagination in a way that few works of literature ever have.

And it continues to resonate in the mind's eye long after childish things have been put away.

I'd put it on a par with Huckleberry Finn.

Some things you never forget. Like the Admiral Benbow Inn, the black spot, Billy Bones, Captain Flint, blind Pew, Squire Trelawney, Dr Livesey, Ben Gunn, Israel Hands, treasure maps, buried treasure, and of course Long John Silver.

Young Jim Hawkins suffers the fortune of enduring one of the great adventures of literature, sailing with dastardly pirates in search of gold.

And simply put, we all want to be Jim Hawkins.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Kid Colt: Man With The Golden Hair

Publisher: Marvel
Status: Ceased publication 1979

Kid Colt, published from 1948 to 1979 was the longest running western in comic book history.

Blaine Colt was a strapping young buck who, after being wrongly accused of murder after avenging(in self defense) the murder of his father, rode the Wild West righting wrongs in places with names such as Dry Gulch.

With his fire-engine red shirt, cowhide vest, and white hat, he became a figure you could always count on to take the right side in a fight, and never back down.

With his trusty horse, Steel, Kid appeared in a simpler time, when there were few shades of grey, when his moral compass never failed to point to what was right, when he could kill the bad guys without remorse or regret.

He defended those who were unable to defend themselves.

He was a cowboy hero.

Though the story telling wasn't stellar(some were downright silly), it was always fun to watch the Kid put the bad guys in their place. Even if that place was sometimes Boot Hill.

Though the title was published until 1979, when western comic books had already fallen out of favor, a lot of the stories appearing in those later issues were reprints from earlier issues.

Sadly, Marvel has never seen fit to revive the Kid.

Good places to collect the Kid:
Mile High Comics
Nostalgia Zone