Ocean’s 11

Starring Geroge Clooney, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, Andy Garcia, Matt Damon, Casey Affleck, Bernie Mac, Elliot Gould, Carl Reiner, Scott Cahn, Don Cheadle, Edward Jemison and Shaobo Qin.

Directed by Steven Soderbergh

Man oh Man here’s another one. What a great big movie this is! Pick one word to define it? Slick. Soderbergh loves to wash films with color (remember the blue and yellow scenes of Traffic, the fuzzy whites of Erin Brokovitch?) and he does so here in a town so full of color it’s about to explode. Vegas baby. Every way that Favreau and Vaughn did Vegas wrong, these guys do it right and then some. Clooney and Pitt are a great team, understated humor and cool as ice. Julia Roberts is absolutely a MOVIE STAR. No man in America should argue with Matt Damon, here both cunning and welcomingly naive, when he tells us watching Julia’s entrance is just the best part of his day. Andy Garcia, smarmy as always is so effective here we can’t wait to watch this misfit crew rip him off. Elliot Gould delivers a comic performance that’s a crowning achievment in a verry funny carrer. Carl Reiner is so cool it hurts, and he’s about 90! Bernie Mac was even funny in this. Bernie MAC! Cheadle, a favorite of mine, was fun as the cockney explosive expert Basher, though I thought I detected a slip or two in the accent. This movie is absolutely a great time, a laugh out loud, smirk at how smooth they can be, edge of your seat gasser, baby. If only Frank had lived to see it. It earns the first 5 cell phone rating in ‘wranlger history folks, don’t even think of interrupting it. Also, keep an eye out for members of the original cast.

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

Starring Elijah Wood, Sir Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen, Sean Astin, Sean Bean, Liv Tyler, John Rhys-Davies and Cate Blanchett.

Directed by Peter Jackson.

Quite frankly, children, this is what movie making is all about. This is the summer blockbuster we didn’t get this summer. Notice I said movie and not film. Reading this site’s reviews will give you a deep education in the difference between these two art forms, and their relative values. Fellowship of the Ring is a movie, big and grand and fun as all get out, in the way Raiders of the Lost Ark is a movie. The special effects are great, and in fact create a bit of horror movie fright that makes the danger to the characters more real, but they do not consume the whole movie, as is common with Jackson’s directing. The action is intense, as is the pace, even for a three hour movie. While not a huge fan of the J.R.R. Tolkien classic that inspired the movie, I nevertheless became engrossed in its characters and breathlessly await the next installment. Sir McKellen was wonderful to watch, throwing himself into the aged wizard Gandalf with determination and just a touch of crusty humor. Elijah Wood is growing into a respectable young actor, and that progression seems fitting for Frodo the Hobbit, who is forced to grow up here a great deal faster than he’d like. As in the novel, the romance between Strider (Mortensen) and his beloved elf-maid Arwen (Tyler) is present but not overbearing, since this is in fact not their tale, at least not yet. The movie’s cliffhanger ending, often criticized as a downer, will only be a disappointment to those who thought Empire Strikes Back sucked because “the bad guys won”. You know who you are. Overall rating, 4 cell phones – just go ahead and leave the thing in the car, you don’t want to have to break your concentration away for even a moment.


Starring Will Smith, John Voight, Jamie Foxx, Michael Michelle, Jada Pinkett Smith, Ron Silver

Directed by Michael Mann

Will Smith’s portrayal of boxing legend Muhammad Ali, which earned him a Golden Glode nomination, is sure to be followed with an Oscar nod for Best Actor, and deservedly so. Smith’s performance is career making, deep and emotional, flawless and engrossing. Few leading men can play roles of this magnitude without injecting a bit of themselves, but within only a few moments, I stopped seeing the Fresh Prince and was lost in Cassius Clay and his determined, often stubborn efforts to be Muhammed Ali. However, despite Smith’s incredible work here, and some spectacularly shot boxing scenes, there is little else going on. Mann’s style is ever present, but there isn’t a deep insight into Ali that I, nor any other boxing fan, didn’t already have. Ali’s pursuit of Muslim faith, of women, of his lost crown, all seem more grounded in his own bull-headedness than driven by faith or athletic spirit. Not to mention that this is one time that knowing the ending kills the movie. Using the Rumble in the Jungle as the crowning moment seems a bit of a let down in what was supposed to be an insight into a great athelte’s life, not just his career. After all, I’ve seen the actual fight on ESPN Classic about 4 times, and Ali’ knocks Foreman out in the eight round every time. Overall, the movie had great bark, but lacked bite.

Rating: 3 cell phones. Turn your ringer on vibrate, but take any important calls outside, you wont miss too much.

The two best parts of buying an X-mas tree.

One, we bought it at The Optimists Club tree lot. The trees themselves were less than optimistic. They were all dead. Some more than others, to be sure, but they were all dead. No replanting for these guys. They were all just standing around, dying slowly and thinking to themselves, “Optimists, my trunk. This is exploitation! I need a good lawyer.” We got a good tree. His name is Andrew, and he’s wearing my cowboy hat, for now.

Two, It has disco lights.

Well, it seems there is more kitty love in the air than I thought. Granola is bringing her cats back from paradise to live with K-dog and I, and the Cult Leader seems to have found a new follower.

(For the record, there were about a thousand crude sexual humor references that I came up with in my sick little thinking engine that could have been included in this post. I mean, when writing about felines, they just pop in there like the Stay-Puft Marshmellow Man. However, the management here at the ‘Wrangler seemed to think such crude humor would be detrimental to this site’s high literary and commentary standards. Personally, I think management are a bunch of pussies.)

I got asked a favor today, and I am looking forward to it like summer vacation. Marrilee asked me to look out for Thomas, because she is going to be out of town for a while. I absolutely LOVE doing this.

Thomas is, quite frankly, the most Sinatra fuckin’ cat that ever lived. He’s so cool it hurts. He’s black and white, kind of skinny, and really cocky. He used to pick fights with the neighbor’s cat, even though he doesn’t have any claws. He’s not stupid, he knows he is weaponless in the cat world, but he tries to kick kitty ass nonetheless. He’s house trained and doesn’t use a litter box, which is cool for a cat, in my opinion. He likes attention, and doesn’t really do that aloof, who-the-hell-needs-you-anyway thing that most cats do. He’ll head but your hands if he doesn’t think you’re giving him his kitty props. He’ll sit about two feet from the door and just stare at it until you let him go out, without meowing loudly or generally bugging anyone. Marrilee swears he can tell who has come to the door by the way their car sounds on hte street outside. But there is one unique thing about him that makes me miss him like crazy.

He drools.

The first time it happened I was totally freaked out. Tom will sit on your chest when he’s feeling like he needs some love, and while you pet him, he gets so happy, he drools on you. It’s hysterical! I remember telling Marrilee that first time, “Hey!, Your cat is broken, it’s leaking on me!” Apparently it’s because his purring mechanism doesn’t work properly. When he can’t make that happy little rumble in his throat, he starts dripping. He can purr sometimes, I’ve heard him do it, but mostly it’s just the drool. It sits on his chin in perfectly clear white drops, and it drips on you , sometimes as often as one every five or ten seconds. It’s the most adorable pet characteristic I have ever seen. We watched Kevin’s sister’s dog for about three weeks recently, and Bailey was cool and a little weird for a dog, but no pet has ever been as cool as my ex-girlfriends cat, Tom. My friend Stacy, who is a big time animal lover, says it sounds like I miss the cat more than the girl.

That’s absolutely not true.

This week has been insane for me. I worked nine of the last ten nights, and a few days as well. I have been trying to X-mas shop, and to resist the urge to do so for myself. I am also trying to arrange a night off to attend a holiday party at my own home, to which all readers of cloudwrangler are cordially invited, since I am sure I know you both and you won’t even need a map. In an effort to relax a little in my spare time, I decided not to spend every afternoon at the movies as I often do, and instead rent some videos and rest up at home when I can.


The problem lies in what I decided to rent. The Sopranos Season 2. In the last few days I have seen every episode. Almost 15 hours of gangsters doing the various things they do, all in my house. Most of you who know me (again, thanks for reading, both of ya) know this is right up my alley. My spaghetti sauce recipe, adapted from my mother’s own, takes four hours to prepare. The recipe requires that Mob movies be played during cooking, a tradition spawned by the scene in Godfather where Clemenza teaches Michael to make sauce since, “you never know when ya might havta cook for like tirty guys someday.” The recipe makes seventy nine gallons of sauce, so I give a lot of it away, mostly to Sarah these days. In perfecting the recipe, I have seen almost every mob film known to man, good and bad. However, only once before have I ever had to process this much TV mafia at once, and I have learned something very interesting this time around.

It’s not very relaxing, and it changes the way you think.

I look over my shoulder now. A LOT. I have awkward moments just before I turn the key in my car ignition. I’ve also noticed my speech patterns are changin’. I say tings lately that I can’t believe are comin’ outta my mout. Like yesterday, dis guy I work wit was walkin’ past the bar, and I says, “Hey Ferris come ‘ere fer a minute.” and he says, “I’m off the clock,” like I was gonna tell ‘im ta do somethin’ and he didn’t wanna on account of he wadn’t gettin’ paid fer it, and I says, “Who fuckin’ asked youse about off !?!?”

It’s also affected my decision making and problem solving methods. Yesterday I couldn’t decide what I wanted for lunch because there just aren’t any really good Italian joints in this town. When I finally gave up trying to find one, I decided to just go to the drive thru window. Then, when the guy forgot to put pickles on my burger, I dragged him out of the window, beat the crap out of him, and ran him over with my car. I had a guy whacked for showing up to work fifteen minutes late a few days ago. I got a line on a whole rack of full length mink coats that fell of the back of a truck, swear to God. It’ not even cold in Austin, fer christ sake! I guess I may need a new nickname.

I finally figured out what’s wrong with my life.

My truck doesn’t have a name.

The bluishorange one’s car is named betty. Granola’s car is lovingly dubbed The Rocket Ship, even though it lacks a spoiler, or any other rocket-ship-like qualities that I know of. There has recently been a great deal of vehicular moniker discussion in the comment section of Allison’s blog-within-a-blog (which will prompt the first use of profanity in the ‘wrangler to date, cause THE SMALL is fuckin’ cool, baby). I have a friend who’s car is named Jezebel. He used to say, “I love the bitch!” which prompted an immediate, “So does everyone else”. Not a very funny running joke, but it ran nonetheless. Dallas’ car was also named Betty (that girl gets around). Shaun claims that “no one can name your car for you” but I think that is not entirely true.

Your car names itself.

This makes sense if you think of it in a somewhat Native American sort of way. Cars are named for their behavior, their personality, their looks, something about them. That is why all cars don’t have names. Cars EARN names. We use whatever vernacular we see fit, thankfully, because who would want a car called Pulls to the Left, or Big Chief Leaking Oil. This is why my current truck Has No Name ( the capital letters shall be explained, Gentle Reader). It is the bane of my existance. It runs great, flawless, never breaks down. It looks ok, not too ugly, all black, stepside bed. Gas mileage is great, helps me move things when I need to. For some reason, however, people can’t resist vandalizing it and stealing things from it. I have great taste in music, but you’d never know it to look at my CD collection. This is because all my good music gets stolen out of my truck, and I am left with the same 20 crappy CD’s I bought in high school. I have replaced the passenger side window twice and the driver side window 3 times! I have lost 2 stereos! My insurance company has set my deductible at just under the amount needed to get this all fixed. Last time it was vandalized, some lovely person ripped both my side mirrors off, and threw one of them through the passenger side window. They didn’t even steal anything! My car has been violated more times than Alfred E. Newman would be in Ryker’s Island. If I even think about my truck being damaged, it happens. The last time, I knew as I was leaving work that it had been vandalized, I could just FEEL it. Thus, I drive That Which Shall Not Be Named. Seriously.

It’s very disappointing, because my previous truck had a great name. The Hell Bitch, named after a horse from one of my favorite books. That truck had personality, and as far as I know, has never died. My stepfather gave it away to someone I truly distaste, who took it rudely without so much as a thank you. (My stepfather also gave me That Which Shall Not Be Named as a college graduation present, and I am extremely thankful.)

Still, I miss the Hell Bitch.

please don’t break into my truck. please.