All posts by Captain Gearhead

insurgent

Decoding the Divergent Series

Hollywood directors have been sneaking messages into movies for a long time. Two of the most talented ever were John Ford and Alfred Hitchcock. The former was obsessed with the taming of the wilderness and the establishment of civilization, framing his themes and character subtexts according to his Catholic worldview. The latter obsessed over guilt, whether caused by deed or thought.

Now why would Hitchcock have Bruno's feet so prominent in the frame?
Now why would Hitchcock have Bruno’s feet so prominent in the frame?

Both directors used visual semeiology to insert subplots and character arcs which contrasted, yet harmonized, with the main plot followed by the casual viewer. They were usually subtle enough that most people were never even aware of the additional narratives taking place in subtext.  And despite the typical socialistic leanings (Ford was a staunch New-Dealer), the subtexts in their films were rarely political in nature–especially compared to current entertainment.

Ethan Edwards, the permanent outcast and vanishing wild man.
Ethan Edwards, the permanent outcast and vanishing wild man.

Film makers today are not nearly as clever or capable, but they are predictably political–and so heavy-handed that most people have little trouble recognizing how Homowood is pushing The Narrative.

There are a couple themes slithering around beneath the surface in the first two films of the Divergent series. It is a little more subtle than the average Narrative Push…enough so that I feel compelled to point it out.

Deep State Apologetics:

(In the world of the Divergent Series, some vaguely-conceived war has caused humanity (at least in Chicago) to segregate according to personality type in order to avoid future conflicts. Yeah, I know. Anyway, the personalities are grouped as follows: Candor [the brutally honest]; Abnegation [the "selfless"]; Amity [the pacifistic flower children]; Erudite [the intellectual/high IQ set]; and Dauntless [the sheepdogs--soldiers and police]. )

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Specifics are in short supply, but the rubes and proles blame the government (controled by Abnegation) for some obscure failure to govern correctly. But Abnegation is a community of selfless, competent administrators who are actually doing a bang-up job and don’t deserve criticism.

Opportunistic manipulators among Erudite are plotting a coup, taking advantage of the proles’ discontent and assuming themselves to be better qualified to lead.

Get the idea? The de facto ruling class is competently herding us through a series of progressive steps toward Utopia, but the ungrateful rubes in Flyover Country are upset about confiscatory taxes; industry-crushing regulations; the invasion through our open borders; massive election fraud; treason from the highest offices; infringement of our inalienable rights, etc. Hence we wrongly resent our betters. Conniving intellectuals are fanning the flames, drawing attention to the habitual idiocy of the ruling class. Presumably these are figureheads in the alternative media, plus a few political rogues like Ron Paul and Neil Gorsuch.

The surprising aspect is that (covertly, anyway), the architects of this series acknowledge the intelligence of their enemies. After all, the most influential critics of the Deep State can figure out that in secure government emails, a “C” stands for “Classified,” and that Congress should read a bill to know what’s in it BEFORE passing it into law. Unfortunately for the likes of Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi, they’ve found themselves in a contest of wits…and are unarmed.

THE TRANSGENDER SUBTEXT:

The world of this series is stiffly organized into factions, according to the personality types listed above. However, certain rare individuals can’t be funneled into rigid categories according to such narrow-minded cisnorms. They are called “divergent”–get it?

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The soon-to-be amazon superninja and main character, Beatrice, starts out very feminine by today’s standards in the West. But she chooses to join the Dauntless (no doubt she, and the author of the fiction series, are Secret Warrior Queens deep inside their oppressed ids), and soon sheds her dress for Emo pants and vest (sometimes a black wife-beater/muscle shirt). She also changes her too-feminine name to the androgynous “Tris” moniker as she is gradually empowered by combat training. (Well, at least she, unlike the amazon superninja in the latest Star Wars abominations, had to actually train before becoming the Greatest Badass in the Galaxy.) Toward the beginning of the second movie, Insurgent, for no obvious reason, Tris cuts off her hair. The actress already had the masculine frame that is supposedly sexy for modern women, and the butch haircut is the final touch that visually transforms her into a boyish other.

This is not an exhaustive analysis–there is more evidence to examine for those who are interested. The third film (Allegiant) takes a turn into another thematic reinforcement of The Narrative.

But maybe I’m wrong. After all, messages like these are so antithetical to what the cultural svengalis want and believe.

Larsoninthecorner

NASCAR Needs to Allow Speedometers

NASCAR stands for “National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing” and, believe it or not, the drivers once raced cars that were factory-stock. That means, present-day race fans, that the cars driven at NASCAR races were once equipped with speedometers.

This is not the case now, which is rather mystifying, considering that penalties are assessed for speeding on Pit Road. In the Cup Race at Kentucky this weekend just past, Kyle Larson had to start the race at the rear of the grid due to finishing Tech Inspection late. He worked his way through the field during Stage One, only needing to pass two more cars to take the lead…

And then a speeding penalty planted him at the back of the pack yet again, and he had to start over. He finished Second behind the winner, Martin Truex Jr., but one has to wonder if that would have been the case without his mistake on Pit Road.

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It’s an easier mistake to make than it ever has been, and more drivers are making it–ruining their chances for victory week after week. Without a speedometer, the driver has to estimate his actual speed based on the tach reading, and what the spotter tells him over the radio. But every single driver wants to gain, or at least maintain, grid position during pit stops, so they will push their cars as close to the speed limit as possible.

At least, that’s what they would do if they had a means to accurately gauge their speed. Then we’d see more races won or lost due to the collective effort of the respective race teams, instead of being penalized for failing to calculate what they are not allowed to measure.

Behind the Scenes at Sun Records

At great sacrifice, this transcript of a backroom creative meeting was obtained.

In a smoke-free zone in the bowels of Homowood, Commiefornia, a diverse gathering of creative consultants discusses a potential TV show.

MS BUTCHCUT: So, this series would have a lot going for it. We could provide a glimpse into the Dark Ages (the 1950s), and expose how backwards everything was. Yet at the same time, rock & roll symbolizes this enormous, unstoppable spirit of rebellion–against the borgeois; against materialism; the patriarchy…and it was rising up to challenge societal norms. Of course, it’s an opportunity to tell the story in a different way–highlighting the strong women behind the scenes who never got credit, until now. And we know white people will watch it, because it’s got Elvis.

PUFF TRIGGLY: Did you get my ideas for the series treatment? I printed them and put them on your desk, so…

MS BUTCHCUT: I did get them, and you’re right: vanilla white men have been getting the credit for everything far too long. But I don’t think this is quite the show to highlight the societal contributions of transgender necrophiliacs. We’ve got at least one Strong Female Character in the treatment, who we’ll gradually reveal as the one who  really held Sun Records together and made it work. But we’ve got to be subtle about it, because the rubes have been complaining about Strong Female Characters lately.

DUNNING: Who told them TV is not reality? Ah d-d-d-d-d-they must have hired somebody to screen our shows. Somebody who can see past the beer in their lap. (Laughs.)

KRUGER: Strictly speaking, it’s sort of not likely that they could have noticed what we were doing on their own. For sort of 50 years, they sort of never caught on before now. Most likely, this is, strictly speaking, part of the fake news epidemic that sort of mobilized the Flyover Puritans to start criticizing our effort to be inclusive.

DUNNING:  Ah why d-d-d-don’t we just solve it like we usually do: have the actress playing the secretary show some skin? I mean, she should have big boobs; nice legs–that’s a given. Presto! No complaints about her being the brains of the operation.

PUFF TRIGGLY: Sexist! How dare you!

MS BUTCHCUT: Really, people. It’s the current year. That’s just offensive on so many levels. But certainly: we’ll make her sexual. We’ll show Sam Phillips cheating on his wife with her…

NECKBEARD: But, like, later we’ll have her experiment with lesbianism, right? It’ll be perfect!

MS BUTCHCUT: No. Again, we have to be careful. So ix-nay, at least for the first season.

PUFF TRIGGLY: But that’s not inclusive. That’s not inclusive at all. So…

KRUGER: Exactly. That’s why, strictly speaking, I still say we should sort of have Elvis be gay.

DUNNING: I d-d-d-d-don’t know if we can pull that off.

MS BUTCHCUT: Elvis is a sacred cow. I’m afraid we’re stuck with a white male heterosexual character who’s not a bufoon, a rapist, a murderer, wife-beater, terrorist or criminal. Two such characters, actually–we can’t reinvent Johnny Cash, either. They’re both still too popular in Flyover Country for us to stray too far from that rigid-minded mythos. But at least we can make their fathers reprehensible. Of course their mothers will be wise, moral, and intuitive.

KRUGER: Please tell me we’re not canning my work on Jerry Lee Lewis. I mean, with all their sexual hangups, the rubes couldn’t possibly put him up there on the same sort of pedestal as Presley and Cash.

NECKBEARD: And come on. His cousin was, like, Jimmy Swaggart.

KRUGER: Strictly speaking, Swaggart is sort of the ultimate Religious Right icon. We have a moral imperitive to sort of highlight his hypocrisy. You know how outraged the rubes get over “hypocrisy.” It’s just sort of hanging right there in front of us, sort of begging for us to play that angle to the hilt.

MS BUTCHCUT: Of course Swaggart is fair game. We can never skewer him enough. But we’re going to build that case gradually. At first we’ll concentrate on Lewis’s reprehensible rape culture.

NECKBEARD: Excuse me. Sorry. I’d like to get back to our Strong Female Character. I’ve been, like, developing this scene in my mind: Her and Phillips are in the studio, and she’s fixing something he screwed up. Then this crazed gunman bursts through the door to rob the place. White male heterosexual, of course. In fact, he should make it clear he targeted them because they “play that nigger music.” But the secretary, like, performs this roundhouse kick that knocks the gun out of his hand, and then, like, proceeds to beat the living shit out of him, while Phillips cowers, hiding somewhere.

DUNNING: Ah d-d-d-d-that’s a great scene, but it belongs in, more like, an action-oriented show.

KRUGER: Strictly speaking, shouldn’t we get back to solving the sort of lack of inclusivity?

PUFF TRIGGLY: Exactly. At the very least, one of the characters should at least be gay. So…

MS BUTCHCUT: While I know where you’re coming from, it’s just not that easy. We can’t make Presley or Cash gay. Lewis is too unsympathetic a character, so it can’t be him. Same with Swaggart. Colonel Tom Parker is despicable, so he’s out. You know how the bozos in Flyover Country are fanatic about a rigid view of history where a given narrative should conform to known facts and all that reptillian-brain framing.

NECKBEARD: Maybe, like, we could bring in Little Richard for a few episodes. Show how he was victimized for his lifestyle.

KRUGER: But, sort of more importantly, show him in at least one love scene.

DUNNING: I d-d-d-d-don’t think Little Richard ever recorded for Sun Records.

MS BUTCHCUT:  He didn’t. And again, all that historical accuracy crap is an obsession for the target audience. We won’t be able to slip that into the first season.

KRUGER: So…what you’re sort of saying is…all we can do in the first season is inject one Strong Female Character; show how nuclear families was oppression of superior women by inferior men; show some vanilla adultery by Phillips; some vanilla fornication by Lewis; a little bit of racism here and there; and strictly speaking, that’s sort of it?

MS BUTCHCUT: Well, I’m afraid so, yes. I mean, aside from, you know, a bunch of dramatized biographical plot points for the rubes.

PUFF TRIGGLY: But…but…but…sympathetic gay characters!

 

BrokenTrail1

Broken Trail – a (Red Pill) Review

This western was probably made before there even was a “manosphere,” but those of a neomasculine perspective should find it well worth watching.

The plot premise: A rancher and his nephew strike a deal to drive a herd of horses across many miles of open range in 1898, to sell to a rancher supplying the British Army. Along the way, they run into a sleazy human trafficker transporting a wagon load of beautiful Chinese girls to a whore house. (The girls had been sold to the trafficker by their own families in China.) The trafficker rustles their horses, and is dealt with the way horse thieves were actually dealt with in those times. This leaves Print Ritter (Robert Duvall) and Tom Harte (Thomas Haden Church) burdened with the care of the human cargo.

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This film was produced as a two-part series (on AMC, I think). And it was released in this millenium. But hang onto yer hats, boys, ’cause the Chinese gals don’t turn out to be invincible Kung Fu masters who beat down the bad guys bare-handed. Nor are they “strong, independent” snowflakes who wind up as successful queens of their own cattle empires. In fact, there are only a couple points in the plot where The Narrative tries to slither into this pleasant surprise of a film–and it’s subdued enough to be overlooked. Time and again, the film makers fail to inject the current year “values” into this period piece–which makes it one big macroaggressive triggerfest.

And that’s refreshing enough all by itself.

Lo and behold, not all the villains are white male heterosexuals, either. But beyond superficial details, this cinematic tale cuts against the grain in other ways, too. There are lessons about frame, hypergamy, SMV (sexual market value) and other red pill concepts that manosphere mavens will appreciate.

Our cowboy heroes are not the illiterate, bigoted raaaaaayciss stereotypes you might expect any white male heterosexual character to be (prior to the sanctifying advent of feminism) yet neither do they turn into fawning beta white knights around the high-SMV women (in a time and place where such women were few and far between). They are men, and consistently behave as such with all parties encountered. They’ve got a job to do, and do their best to stay focussed on that despite mounting distractions.

BrokenTrail2

The Chinese women recognize not only that the cowboys are honorable, but are effective protectors and providers. You might expect (after being innundated with current year propaganda) that after being sold into slavery, treated harshly, and witnessing the rape of one of their own, a movie womyn would be hell-bent on avoiding all men until some metrosexual current-year-sensibilitied white knight came along, recognized her for the special snowflake she is, and dedicated himself to serving her perpetually while offering heartfelt apologies for any and every misunderstanding which may or may not be his fault. Yet, when the cowboys try to hand these women off so they can get back to their job, the women freak out in protest. They know a good deal when they see one, and need good men to protect them in this “savage land.”

The wild West wasn’t quite as savage as the inner cities in the current year welfare state, but I digress.

All my use of neomasculine terms to analyze this film is not, however, meant to imply that the heroes are PUAs (“pick up artists”) who use “game” to make themselves attractive to the girls. They maintain “frame,” for sure, but naturally–not as some learned technique to artificially boost SMV. Truth is, these are cowboys living before the culture became an over-sexualized idiocracy with ubiquitous entertainment mediums. The male-to-female ratio was abysmal in the old West, and most men had resigned themselves to being lifelong bachelors, or knew they would have to acquire significant resources before they could hope to attract wife material (and the culture didn’t encourage people to sleep around as it does now, either, so alpha PUAs in those times were not well regarded by society at all). In other words, the cowboys were not sex-obsessed, and the language/cultural barrier would have given them pause in this situation, however attracted they were to these damsels-in-distress.

There’s a lot more to appreciate about this film than just the socio-sexual dynamics. You should check it out.

Life, liberty, and the hot pursuit of happiness.

Speed Week Plus: “Gearhead Porn”

One reviewer called Fast Cars and Rock & Roll “gearhead porn,” and I guess it is. Unfortunately, gearheads are an endangered species and an even smaller niche than I thought.*

But anyway… below is an excerpt from Chapter 37 from The Ultimate Gearhead Novel–as good a way as any to close out Speed Week Plus.

Pontiac Ventura II
Pontiac Ventura II

Deke Jones has been doing pretty well on the track, but a road course wreck damaged his Pontiac Ventura II to the point he is not allowed to finish the campaign in it. Not only that, he just discovered the truth about his scorching-hot girlfriend, and dumped her with gusto. Down but not out, our hero has teamed up with his fellow musclecar pilot, Gloomy, to finish the race campaign in Gloomy’s 340 Challenger.

1st generation Dodge Challenger
1st generation Dodge Challenger

 

I tuned the Challenger for the elevation while Gloomy checked tire pressure, brake condition and some other vitals. As we strapped on our helmets, Gloomy asked, “Where’s Lena?”
“Gone,” I replied. “She is no longer a member of the team. Or any team.”
His eyes looked confused through the helmet face shield.
“I’ll explain later,” I said. “Let’s get ready to wring this thing out.”
We rolled up onto the portable ramps by the scrutineer’s tent to undergo the quickest tech inspection ever.
Gloomy had quite the collection of his own compilation tapes, and popped one in the cassette deck while we waited. I hummed along with the Rolling Stones singing “It’s All Over Now.”
“It ain’t all over by a long shot,” Gloomy declared with a cocky grin. “We’re just gettin’ started.”
I wondered if my new teammate was schizophrenic or manic depressive. Well, as long as he wrenched hard, drove smart, and spoke the truth, I wouldn’t complain.
We passed tech and rolled up to the start line. The flag waved and Gloomy kicked it in the guts. He banged through the gears and we were flying in short order. But he began to back off the throttle too soon in top gear.
I checked my pace notes. “Keep the hammer down!” I yelled over the engine noise. “You’re coming up on a gradual sweeper with nice banking. No problem!”
Gloomy rolled back on the loud pedal and we continued to build speed through the sweeper. The lateral Gs were noticeable, but the wide-tracked Challenger stuck to the pavement with no trouble.
I called out the features before we came to them, including turn radius when appropriate.
The next song up was “Baby Please Don’t Go” by Willie and the Poor Boys and I couldn’t believe it. The two of us might very well be the only ones who’d ever heard it. Evidently he, too, considered it an outstanding song to motorvate to.
I couldn’t see the speedometer from where I sat, and it didn’t go high enough anyway, but I was confident we were making excellent time.
We were approaching a moderate-to-hard corner and I shouted the details out to Gloomy. He began easing off the gas. Judging by his last few curves it was evident he’d learned a lot on the road courses about how to use the brakes and transmission together, keeping his RPMs up in the sweet spot for track-out. Here he was going to stab his brakes turning in, downshift just before the apex, then roll on the throttle tracking out.
Just before the curve was an underpass, but there was something weird about it. The shadow from the crossing bridge extended too far. As we drew closer, I realized it wasn’t part of the shadow…but what it was I didn’t know. It was like a dark carpet covering the sun-bleached gray asphalt.
The first time Gloomy touched the brakes, we were atop that mysterious carpet. Even from the passenger seat, I felt the Challenger get loose.
Time slowed down. We were in the curve now, and the tires were hydroplaning. Applying more speed was out of the question because we came into the turn at the ragged edge of the envelope already. Same with maintaining speed, for that matter. Deceleration and braking was only pushing the rear end around. We were on the verge of utterly losing control, and there were some very large boulders on the roadside that appeared unforgiving.
I fought the sick feeling in my stomach as we slid, swerved and floated toward our doom, and yelled, “Road warrior!”
Gloomy’s reaction may have been just fast reflexes. Or maybe part of him, deep down, was still a soldier ready to use his training at the instant of a verbal command. He worked the brakes, clutch, shifter and accelerator like he was simply part of his machine. Within a fraction of a second, his rear tires were tearing backwards.
The Challenger was pulled straight and our speed plummeted like we had popped a drag chute.
I saw a piece of the dark carpet lift into the air before us. Then another. And another. The carpet disintegrated before us as first dozens, then hundreds, then thousands of its components lifted off from mother earth and scattered. One came through the window and whacked me in the arm. It looked like a beetle.
Some kind of Alfred Hitchcock/Steven Spielberg conspiracy of the insect kingdom had nearly sent us spinning into oblivion.
Nine out of ten people with a driver’s license probably would have come to a stop, smoked a cigarette, done some deep breathing exercises or uttered a prayer while their heart rate slowed to normal. I sure did want a cigarette right then.
But Gloomy didn’t fear the reaper. He slammed the clutch in, banged into third and, now with traction again, dug out right back for open road. He cranked the volume on the tape deck even higher. I honestly believe the worst part of the whole incident for him was that part of a good song was drowned out in the scream of rubber.
I grabbed the CB mike and broadcast a warning to anyone who had their ears on. Coug answered immediately. I told him to warn the officials about the Beetle Death Trap, giving him the nearest mile marker and the underpass as a landmark.
By this time Gloomy was topped out and the scenery was zinging by in a green-brown blur. The final straight was a steep downhill stretch and it felt like we may have hit 190 before the road flattened out again.
Gloomy didn’t let off the gas until we passed the flag man. As the Challenger slowed and backrapped, Gloomy let out his war cry–something between a dog barking and a rebel yell.

 

*A lot of people once subscribed to Hot Rod, Car Craft, etc. and I doubt if they’ve all died off in the last decade. And Moparts.com was a YUGE site not just for Mopar mavens, but all car guys. Did they die off, too?
At the very least, those guys evidently don’t read anymore, anyway. See, enthusiast magazines (and the website) didn’t just have photos–they were mostly text…suggesting that the subscribers knew how to READ, and bought the magazines in order to do so.
And read about cars, in particular.
I genuinely wonder what happened to all those guys/what they do now in place of reading.
AmericanGraf1

Speed Week Plus: American Graffiti – a Review

This installment of Speed Week Plus is a little different. There are no chase scenes and there’s only one all-out street race (not the one in the clip at the bottom of this post, which was cut short by a red light). In fact, it’s not even action adventure, but more of a dramedy. Yet American Graffiti is such an iconic film for gearheads and speed freaks of the pre-Internet generations, it just can’t be left out.

I’ve often wondered about the title–what it was supposed to mean. The only way I could connect it with the film’s content was to imagine a yearbook of the high school class the main characters belonged to (which, I guess, would fit the Dragnet-style “where-are-they-now” overlays just before the final credits. And a yearbook is actually used in the trailer below). Then I discovered the original title was “Rock Radio is American Graffiti,” and all became clear.

The film is about “cruising culture” which was ubiquitous in postwar America, right up until the gas crunch in the early ’70s I guess. What united the entire car crazy generation was rock & roll. And regional subsections of that generation were connected usually by a single personality, in the form of a radio disk jockey. In this case it’s the mysterious and almost mystical Wolfman Jack. Not only does the original title augment this theme, but in the screenplay the very first shot was not supposed to be of Mel’s Drive-In, but of a car radio dial being tuned to XERB.

Film maker George Lucas (whose only other feature to date had been the box office flop THX1138) had grown up in that generation. This movie is essentially a cinematic reminiscence of his glory days between graduating high school and packing off to film school. Two of the main characters are loosely based on Lucas himself–Kurt the aimless intellectual and Toad the nerdy braggart). The lone rebel hero (who the TV show Happy Days caraciturized into somebody called “Fonzy”) John Milner, was partially based on Lucas’ film school buddy John Millius, who went on to become a director also, despite punching out one of his professors. Average all-American boy Steve Bollander was also caricaturized on Happy Days, into Richie Cunningham (both played by Ron Howard, who also went on to become a director). And remember that annoying actress from Happy Days spinoff Laverne & Shirley? No, not her, the other one, with the dark hair. She plays Steve’s girlfriend and is not annoying at all in the role. Actually she did a fine bit of acting.

This movie was a first in many ways. Imitators cranked out nostalgic flicks well into the ’80s, trying to hitch a ride on its coat tails. The bed of vintage pop music, sometimes even with a DJ chattering over and between, became the norm in Hollywood soundtracks, nearly putting film score composers out of business until, Ironically, Lucas’ Star Wars revolutionized the film industry again. How about ensemble casts with parallel converging plotlines? That’s nearly obligatory in comedy/dramas to this day.

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Though left vague enough for any baby boomer to relate to, it’s pretty much agreed to that the story takes place in Modesto, California in 1962. On the last summer night–from sundown to sunup. Filmed just ten years after the period depicted, the simulation is done so well that even folks who were born after that era was lost forever can almost… almost “remember” those times while watching it.

I don’t know that I could effectively argue that this is an “important” film, but it certainly has had an impact on a lot of people. It can so immerse you in the milieu of postwar pre-Vietnam teenage cruising-to-rock-radio that you’ll feel a part of it even when watching it for the 45th time…then be saddened by the passing of a bygone era until you watch it again.

The possible next post for Speed Week Plus is also about a story that fuses cars with music–with a different approach, set in a different era, but with much homage to this very movie.

 

MadMax

Speed Week Plus: Mad Max – a Review

Motorized Mayhem Down Under! Time to take Speed Week Plus south of the Equator, to a continent comprised entirely of one country–and into the future, where civilization is on the verge of complete breakdown.

Imagine an Australia populated with butch, entitled women; supplicating nancy-boy males considered “men;” oppressed by a draconian police state hell-bent on gobbling up more power until farting in the privacy of your own toilet is a crime punishable by death…

Oh, wait. No need to imagine–Australia is just about there already. Imagine instead an Australia saved from that dystopian present by a nuclear holocaust and utter economic devastation. Whew!

That merciful cataclysm seems to be underway at the beginning of the original, unfeminized Mad Max.

I actually saw the sequel, Road Warrior, before I saw Mad Max. And having seen it, I just had to watch the original.

I should clarify something up front: I won’t be including Beyond Thunderdome for Speed Week Plus, and probably never will review it or the more recent Mad Maxine.

So the “thin blue line” Down Under has become razor thin, fighting a losing battle to keep civilization from toppling. Amoral, perverse gangs rule the roads, stealing whatever they want, raping whoever they want (which is pretty much anyone), and more than willing to murder and destroy in order to do it.

On the side of good is the MFP: Main Force Patrol. Just as our police have come to be known as “cops,” originally “coppers” because of the badges worn by New York policemen, these Aussie lawmen’s badges were made from a different metal, hence they are slurred as “the bronze” by the villains in this film (as well as the hero in Fast Cars and Rock & Roll, which pays homage to many films, including this one).

A very young Mel Gibson plays Max, the MFP’s star patrolman, who’s considering quitting the force and taking his family away from the madness. To bribe him into staying, the MFP makes an unofficial gift to him of “the last of the V8 Interceptors.” It’s a black-on-black Australian Ford Falcon, supercharged, with “Phase IV heads” and “Nitro.” By the end of the movie Max deputizes the Falcon Interceptor to run down the gang that murdered his family and made a vegetable of his friend Goose.

Mad Max Poster

By the way, the clutched supercharger on the Falcon was a pure fabrication sold via the magic of film editing. But Hollywood has plagiarized it with their own clutch-driven blowers in movies like My Science Project.

Director George Miller was fascinated with medical apperattus and you’ll see some on display in Mad Max and its sequel. He must have been equally obsessed with Catholic symbolism.

But the appeal of this movie is the high-octane action, and it’s got a lot. A lot of the speed scenes were undercranked to exaggerate the velocity of moving vehicles, yet it was accomplished with a subtle touch so that it doesn’t make everything comical.

That’s not to say there aren’t some laughable moments (dig that Roman Candle in the exhaust pipe)–if you watch the version with overdubbed American voices, it’s downright groan-worthy. So I recommend getting the version with the original soundtrack.

“We remember the Night Rider! And we know who you are.”

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Speed Week Plus: The Road Warrior – a Review

 Mad Max cannonballs through the wasteland in a world devolving back to the Iron Age.

Mad Max cannonballs through the wasteland in a world devolving back to the Iron Age.

 

You think you’ve seen road rage before? Let’s cruise on over to post-apocalyptic Australia for a high octane killing spree!

Mad Max was such a cult action-adventure hit, the film makers came back with a bigger budget for the sequel. In addition to launching a young actor named Mel Gibson into superstardom, it also inspired too many doomsday visionaries to count…including another film maker who would produce a time travel thriller a couple years later about a killer cyborg sent back from a future similar to this one, to assassinate the mother of a resistance movement’s leader. You may have heard of that flick. It’s called The Terminator.

In the roar of an engine he lost everything…

 

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In the first movie, Australia was on the verge of societal collapse. As this story begins, that collapse is a done deal. Max, once a good cop and happy family man, is now a lone drifter with no ambition beyond surviving in the New Dark Ages.

What we have here is actually a sort of post-apocalyptic western. Max is the jaded gunfighter who is numb to death and has nothing to lose.

The vermin of the wasteland (I guess I’ll call them VOTL for short) have tried to bushwhack him before, but he’s a little too much for them to handle. The prize they’re really lusting after, though, is a strange outpost of civilization in the wilderness.

A small community which still clings to the mores and values of non-barbaric society occupies an oil refinery, defending it with flamethrowers and pneumatic dart guns from the perverse savages who rape and murder any who attempt to break through the siege and run for freedom.

After defeating (then taking captive) a snake-charming gyrocopter pilot, Max encounters this situation just as two would-be escapees meet their gruesome fate.

The alpha-dog ruling over the VOTL barbarians is a buff baddie called Humongous. Don’t ask me where he finds his vitamins, energy drinks and steroids out there in the post-apocalyptic desert. And though he probably has plenty of time on his hands, where he finds a gym to work out in is also a mystery.

Humongous’ go-to lieutenant is an acrobatic Sodomite who puts his crosshairs on our hero early when he gets wounded during road combat with Max. Later he comes totally unglued when his butt-boy is killed by a razor-edged boomerang that belongs to “the Feral Kid.”

The R rating is strictly for the violence…plus some brief non-titillating nudity. I don’t believe there’s any cussing at all. But the violence is on an epic scale for 1981–dished out with a mixture of Medieval weapons, improvised munitions and fast machines. There are only two firearms in the film–one owned by the hero; one by the villain. The ammo supply for both is extremely limited.

 

Those fast machines are what makes this movie required viewing for Speed Week Plus. Not only is Max’s Falcon Interceptor back (with the Hollywood clutched blower) but there are other Australian musclecars and some vehicles that look like hybrid dune buggies or sand rails.

The Lord Humongous…the Ayatolah of RocknRollah!

One of the suicide machines has two engines. One of them has a crude nitrous system (“noss” for those of you who acquired all your automotive knowledge from watching the Fast and Furious flicks). Add to all that horsepower the added boost of camera undercranking , and the result is insane speed for the chase sequences.

The Road Warrior has its flaws, which become more obvious over time and repeated viewing, but it’s still a great action adventure movie that requires no more suspension of disbelief than most of the CGI/green screen enhanced claptrap Hollywood’s been churning out in the new Millennium.

This is perhaps my favorite post-apocalyptic movie. What’s yours?

Speed Week Plus: A Classic Gearhead Novel, Reviewed

I first read this book even before the speed bug bit me, and enjoyed it then. As I did become obsessed with horsepower, my affection and appreciation only grew.

Larry Cook is, superficially speaking, a stereotypical high school nerd–glasses, braces, and a talent for playing the piano. (But even before his epiphany, he shows signs of a rebellious, independent spirit via secret jam sessions covering jazz numbers by Fats Waller and other niche legends.)

Then one day Larry sees a photo of a street rod on the cover of a magazine, and his inner rebel blossoms. With the help of a teacher (an exceptionally cool teacher the likes of which I never had) he rebuilds an old Ford (a Model A, I think) into a decent performer. Then, after graduating high school (and losing the braces), he is hired as the dining hall pianist at a snooty resort hotel (kinda’ like the resort in Dirty Dancing).

Larry’s summer promises interesting developments when he meets the spoiled, gorgeous debutante Barbara Wells, her filthy-rich grandfather, and her would-be suitor: Roger the Rednecked Romeo.

But the story really takes off when Larry becomes friends with the local mechanic and drag racer Finnegan. Finnegan’s 392 Hemi-powered Green Ghost is the title vehicle. When Finnegan breaks his leg packing chutes for the Ghost, Larry must step in to drive in the upcoming drags, but without letting his hoity-toity employer…or any of the resort guests…catch wise to it.

The character interaction between Finnegan and just about everyone else is priceless (he’s an incurable wiseacre), and Williams generates a feeling that something important is at stake concerning Larry and Barbara, without ever getting even close to mushy.

BTW: Internet research has led me to believe that “Patrick Williams” is a pseudonym of none other than W.E.B. Griffin–the author of all those bulky military potboilers.

This was written for a YA audience, but I would recommend it for anyone of any age who likes street rods and drag racing. It was written in the ’60s and out of print now, but if you find it used somewhere, do pick it up!

Fantastic book for a teenage boy, especially one with an interest in fast cars, and a highly enjoyable book for men of any age, in fact.

Speed Week Plus is visiting another hemisphere next time. Wanna hint?

“Two dyes ago I sar a vehicle that could haul that tankah. You wanna get outa’ heh? You tawk ta me.”

ChuckBerry1

A Rock & Roll Pioneer Dies

I am interrupting Speed Week Plus because I just found out that Chuck Berry died Saturday.

Elvis is still called the king of rock & roll but aside from vocal talent, Chuck had him beat in almost every way. He was a virtuoso with the guitar, wrote clever lyrics and was quite the crazy-legged entertainer on stage for both males and females. He also was the first to cross over the color line in music. Prior to Chuck Berry, white kids would only listen to “race records” on the down low.

ChuckBerry2Ironically, this is not necessarily an interruption of Speed Week, because Chuck Berry was not only a pioneer of rock & roll, but put his love of horsepower into some famous songs that still rock the house to this day. “You Can’t Catch Me” is a musical version of a fantasy many gearheads have probably entertained while wishing they could just rip down the open road at Ludicrous Speed without worrying about going to jail or having mandatory Insurance rates shoot up into the stratosphere. “Maybelline” has been a personal inspiration in many ways. For one, I named my favorite Street Machine after that song title. There is also a subplot in Fast Cars and Rock & Roll that is based on the lyrical Adventure in his invincible V-8 Ford.

The selection below is chosen because it plays on a red pill/neomasculine view of Sexual Market Value (SMV), but in a tongue-in-cheek fashion. His humorous lyrics are catchy and the guitar solo is understated but deft.

I read his autobiography and the man definitely had his flaws. But for a few golden years there in the mid-to-late 1950s, his musical genius really shined. Rest in peace, Chuck.