Sunday, 21 September 2008

Long Time No Post...

Well I've been on the micro-stakes roller-coaster.

Finally ground my way up to the holy grail of $20, then dropped back down to $10 on a combination of 2 cent/5 cent, tilt and red wine.

So back to square one.

Haven't been inspired with the westerns recently, but I picked up KenzerCo's Aces and Eights pen and paper RPG the other day so maybe something on that soon.

However I have been playing with poetry and churned out this recently:-

My King in Yellow Betting Slips

I tore up my old god for he never brought me luck
and then threw him in an ashtray with old pools coupons,
scratched cards, lottery tickets and all that loosing muck.
So then I made a new one
To bring me luck today.

His eyes were pocket aces that never fell to trips
Skip-Hopping on rabbits feet, shod with lucky horse shoes,
Garbed in the bright raiment of a million betting slips.
But he didn’t bring me luck
So I threw him away.

I summoned a goddess, her goal, my bank-roll to save,
I grew her from a clover, my little lady luck,
She raised her voice and called ‘Fortune favours the brave!’
But she didn’t bring me luck
So I threw her away .

‘Now Mister Frisk! Now Gay Trip! Now Rag Trade and Workman!’
This god’s carriage was only pulled by royal winners,
‘On Royal Tan! On Early Mist! Red Rum and Seagram!’
But he didn’t bring me luck
So I threw him away.

So I studied various books, message boards and such
by pros like Brunson and Sklansky, Vorhaus and Hellmuth,
And so I learnt to play Poker
And I didn’t need my luck
So I threw it away.

Jacob Z. Clinton

Friday, 13 June 2008

5 Card Stud

5 Card Stud

Released: 1968
Directed by Henry Hathaway
Written by Marguerite Roberts (Screenplay), Ray Gaulden (Novel)
Music by Maurice Jarre
Starring Dean Martin, Robert Mitchum, Roddy McDowall

The movie opens on a late night game of 5 Card Stud, after closing hours, at a saloon in the town of Rincon. Van Morgan (Martin) goes outside whilst Nick Evers (McDowall) discovers the man who just took a large pot has been cheating by palming off cards. The card cheat fires off a shot but misses and the angry men soon turn into a lynching party. Van Morgan comes in and asks George the bartender what happened, expressing concern as his view is that you run card cheats out of town, not lynch them. To be fair the guy did try and shoot Nick, I’d want to hang the bastard.

Van Morgan catches up with the mob and tries to stop them but is cold-cocked by Nick Evers with the butt of his pistol. They lynch the card cheat and ride back into town with the unconscious Morgan.

The next morning Mama Malone finds Van Morgan on the floor outside the tavern. She calls out George who carries Van Morgan back to his room. I’ll point out that Mama Malone looks like the sort of sweet little old lady who’d grind your balls to dust and make you snort it. George and Van Morgan watch the corpse of the card cheat being brought back into town. Mama Malone questions the two men about it but gets met with silence. Van Morgan starts packing.

George questions Van Morgan about a poker hand he has framed, on what his hole card was and whether Morgan really had made a Royal Flush. Morgan replies it doesn’t matter because the guy folded and Morgan won the hand. Despite the name of the movie, and the plot point about the card cheat, this is about as poker centric as the movie gets. We never find out about the hand later on and I think that’s great. Because all the big poker action is in the past and hardly spoken of, if you want to put this in a list of poker movies it should go near the top because it doesn’t fuck up or go down to a showdown where everyone turns over an improbable succession of hands. This is pretty much all the poker there is in the movie but it makes a succinct point about poker and gets on with the Western. Great.

Van Morgan rides up to Evers Ranch to see his goodbyes to Nora Evers, we establish that Van Morgan is always leaving town and coming back. Nick comes out and Van Morgan punches him down, Nora notes that the two men ‘have been fightin’ for years...’. Nora is clearly smitten with Van Morgan, aren’t we all...Nick displays some hints of sociopathic behavior in his mindset, either that or he’s just a dick. Van Morgan heads off in a stagecoach to Denver.

Whilst Van Morgan whiles away his time in Denver there is a gold-rush in Rincon, a new bar opens up in competition with Mama Malone who refuses to employ ‘girls’. (Man I’d love to see Al Swearengen open up in competition with Mama) The new preacher, Reverend Rudd (Mitchum), makes an impression when he walks into Mama Malone’s and fires two shots into the floor to get everyone’s attention so he can invite them to the next church service. Mama, unfazed, simply kicks the dust off from around the holes...what a sweet little old lady.

The church is packed for the first service, Rudd gives a stirring service and is unafraid to include reference to his gun, Hellfire and the recent hanging of the card cheat. I think he eclipsed Jules from Pulp Fiction in the bad-ass preaching olympics. It is noted that no one has been charged for the hanging of the card cheat. Nick Evers hangs around after the service and engages the Reverend in a discussion before offering his help.

Nora heads into town and when she goes to Carson’s Store she finds the owner, Fred Carson, dead with his head in a barrel of flour. Panic ensues. Next the Evers ranch hand Stoney Burrow is found garroted along a barbed-wire fence next to an overturned horse carriage. It’s a good shot because you only see the body when they move the carriage and it isn’t too closely shot to show the bad gore effects. Someone should remake this as a western/slasher movie. I Know What You Did At The Last Poker min raising...trapping...drawing...suckout donk bastard.

George goes to Denver and tells Van Morgan that someone is after everyone is was involved in the card game. Van Morgan decides to return to town despite George’s reservations. When he gets into town Van Morgan decides on a shave so he heads for, on George’s suggestion, the newly erected Langford’s Tonsorial Parlor. On the way he bumps into Nora but he pushes his advances too far when he asks for a bath and Nora becomes embarrassed. Nora’s father, we find out, has put out wanted notices for the murderer of Carson and Burrow.

Van Morgan is shocked to find that the Tonsorial Parlor has female barbers, the owner Miss Langford shows some signs of attraction to Van who impishly questions what ‘miscellaneous’ is on the shops list of charges. Nice comedy element here especially the double blow of Morgan expecting a male barber, Miss Langford coming out, and then her calling for a barber and it’s another woman.

The remaining men have a late night poker game, they question each others loyalties and grow paranoid, Nick notes that fresh flowers have been put on the card cheats grave. Van heads back round to Miss Langford’s and despite her attempts to rebuff him they talk before sharing a kiss. Later Van leaves and bumps into the Reverend in the street. Surprisingly they hear the church bell ringing and we see the church door flapping open. The sheriff wanders out to investigate and calls for the two men who discover the body of another of the lynching mob, Mace Jones, hung from the bell rope. Extreme Bell Ringing!

Over breakfast Nick badmouths Mace Jones and he gets into an argument with his father. At the funeral Van Morgan and Nick get into a fist fight when Nick accuses and then attacks George; they bust through a low wall and land on the grave of the card cheat. Van Morgan goes to have words with the Reverend and investigates his story....come to think of it all Dean Martin needs is a gammy eye and a dirty trench-coat and he’s got the Columbo act down pat.

Van Morgan tries to impress Miss Langford with some pistol shooting until they come under fire from a man on horseback, Van notes that ‘if he was after us, we’d be dead.’ so it seems the shots are just to frighten them. The man is revealed to be Rudd who shows some finer pistol work. Rudd shoots at a windmill and hits it six out of six shots, Van only hits it five times, Rudd however jests that he was aiming at the spaces in-between. Every religious studies teacher should be like Reverend Rudd. ‘Sir how can God permit evil to exist?’ ‘Well Jimmy, I’m not at liberty to speak for God but I know a man who can... children, this is my good friend Mr. Colt and he has 6 very precise answers on the nature of evil...’

Nick and the remaining other card player, Joe, discuss what’s happening. Nick talks about the death of his mother and makes it clear he has a lot of issues with his father and life in general before walking off. Joe is throttled by a black draped form, dropping a lantern and setting fire to his stables in the process. Van Morgan is passing and darts in and finds Joe’s dead body in a water trough as someone watches on. The figure tries to make his escape and shots are fired by both the figure and Van Morgan. Van Morgan sits down at the card table with Nick Evers. Evers accuses the first killed, Fred Carson, of being the one who told the killer their names.

The next morning the Dickish Oversensitive Miners Union appear outside the sheriff’s office complaining about the murders, seems coal don’t get mined when there’s a chance to whine. Inside, Cig Evers (father of Nora and Nick) increases the bounty on the killers head to $4000 as the sheriff protests that because it’s just him and his deputy they can’t cover enough ground to catch the killer. Nick Evers, Morgan and Rudd debate public gun ownership policy.

The D.O.M.U. roll into town again with guns out causing the deputy sheriff to man up and confront them, seizing a rifle and smashing it. However his sense of tact isn’t so successful as a miner shoots him and it degenerates into a gunfight between the miners and the sheriff. Van Morgan ineffectually gets involved, darting and diving like he’s in Ye Olde Gear Solid to retrieve the injured sheriff. Reverend Rudd just marches up the street shooting his pistol off because he’s God’s chosen shit-kicker.

After some debate about who should be sworn in as sheriff the scene switches towards the cemetery where Reverend Rudd lays flowers on the grave of the card cheat. Nick emerges from hiding and points that that the two men, Rudd and the card cheat, are brothers and we discover he’s been telling Rudd an erroneous account of the hanging. He says that George was part of the hanging and that Van Morgan led it.

George goes back to his room above a packed Mama Malone’s where Rudd tries to strangle him, George out-muscles him but Rudd shoots him in the gut which goes unheard because of the noise downstairs. Rudd leaves him to die which he does in melodramatic fashion by forming his hands in prayer as a scooby-doo clue towards his killer. The next morning Mama Malone finds George’s body and goes for help. Van Morgan starts to put two and two together.

Meanwhile Reverend Rudd rides to the cemetery to meet Nick in order to get the final name (Morgan’s) that nick has been holding out from him. Nick tries to turn on him and admits to Rudd that it was him who led the hanging. He lets Rudd say a final prayer and making him drop his gun. Rudd goes to his brother’s grave and opens a bible which he’s hollowed out and put a gun in! He shoots Nick dead. ‘Something for you, from the book.’ Ha! He kicks Nick’s corpse into an empty grave.

Van has to break the news of Nick’s death to his family and he goes, alone, to sit at the card table. Rudd arrives and tries to coerce Van to come to the cemetery with him but Van rebuffs him. Van deals a hand for his absent card players and sets out to confront Rudd. Nick rides out to the windmill and manages to shoot it six times in a row this time before reloading his six-shooter. Rudd comes across him and pulls out his bible (OF DEATH) but he’s holding it upside down. Nick calls him out for the murders. Reverend Rudd asks to finish reading a psalm but Van Morgan notices that the good book is the wrong way up:

‘If that’s a bible you read it but if it’s drop it.’ Great line.

They both go for their guns and fire! Van Morgan gets hit but he manages to kill Rudd. He lies to Cig evers and pretends Nick may have been some sort of hero. Nora patches up Van Morgan’s wound but she realizes that Van may be going for good this time but he leaves her. Van Morgan and Miss Langford agree to meet in Denver in a weeks time although Langford is coy about whether she will come or not. Van rides off. The end.

The Good: Robert Mitchum as the Reverend Jonathan Rudd. I’ve never seen ‘Night of the Hunter’ so forgive me for not making comparisons between Mitchum’s portrayals of deadly preachers but the man bowled me over in this. Mitchum has a great mix of charisma and menace and despite Dean Martin playing the poker pro, Van Morgan, it is Mitchum who has the best poker face in this movie.

The script. ‘They say that competition is the life of trade but it’ll be the death of me!’, ‘Your a man, which is no recommendation, and your a gambler, which is less...’ Although the story is straight off and you can see the killer coming a mile off and any attempt at red herrings with George are futile the script is packed with real zingers it’s almost as if Oscar Wilde wrote a western.

The co-stars and bit parts are well fleshed out and Ruth Springford (as Mama Malone) and Yaphet Kotto (as Little George) are great, making us care more for Van Morgan because they, as his main supporting characters, are so well rounded.

The Bad: Roddy McDowall as Nick Evers. Despite the story line pushing him as a more human villain with some serious psychological issues against Mitchum’s walking vengence I found McDowall hammed the part up a bit too much to begin with and his accent sticks out a mile. A lot of the reviews on imdb seemed to like McDowall’s performance but to me he sticks out like a sore English thumb. It’s a hard role to play and, to me, some of McDowall’s physical acting makes him look like he’s performing the role of some sort of Shakespearian villain on stage, not a weasly ranch owners son in a Western.

The Extras: Nothing special, subtitles and a scene selection. The DVD Menu is well designed, I guess.

The Verdict:

Bearing in mind that this film was made in the mid sixties when Spaghetti Westerns were really taking off it serves as a nice bridge between the old school heroic American westerns and the anti-heroics of the Spaghetti Westerns. The moral lines have started to blur here whilst still keeping the backbone of a straight up western.

Van Morgan isn’t a straight up good guy, he’s a card hustler who’s always leaving town. Reverend Rudd, despite his lack of qualms about killing, is almost justified in his revenge plot. Even Nick Evers for his slimy backstabbing is at least given dialogue that fleshes out his impaired moral view.

This is a solid film, the story and acting may not amaze and astound but there isn’t really anything wrong either. There’s some excellent one-liners and speeches throughout the movie especially Reverend Rudd’s. This won’t change your life or give you a better insight into the human mind but it will entertain you and demonstrate that Dean Martin could step out of Vegas once in a while and still sing the theme tune.

Sunday, 8 June 2008

Update and Django

'And that brings up one of the most important character traits of strong Omaha high-low players - patience. Waiting goes against the grain of impatient players... After awhile, all hands seem to have potential and they begin entering pots with rags. You'll hear them say, "Who can tell what a good Omaha high-low hand is anyway?" And you'll see their stacks shrinking like mud in the desert sun.'  Shane Smith, 'Omaha High-Low: How to win at Lower Limits'

Lovely turn of phrase by Smith there. Well I'm no longer stuck on 13 bucks as I've dropped back down to $10 and it could have got worse. Mostly through what Shane Smith describes, I started off, didn't catch anything and then got a bad beat which sent me on delusional tilt going in with a nut flush possibility and nothing to back it up and catching nothing. My other mistake was to sit down on tables with a maniac or two. This challenge means I have to minimize the luck factor, play it safe unless I have the nuts, which means loose aggressive guys destroy my play... which pisses me off... which leads to tilting... Lesson, hopefully, learned.

Released: 1966
Directed by Sergio Corbucci
Written by Sergio Corbucci, Piero Vivarelli, Bruno Corbucci, José Gutiérrez Maesso, Franco Rossetti
Music by Luis Enriquez Bacalov
Starring Franco Nero, José Bódalo, Eduardo Fajardo

Django. Cult film. Benchmark in the progression of the Spaghetti Western and one not directed by a man named Sergio Leone. A spawner of supposedly hundreds of sequels. This is how it starts:

We open with a man, Django, dragging a coffin behind him, he's wearing Union army issue trousers. He comes to a point overlooking a rickety bridge over some quicksand and spots a woman, Maria, being whipped by Mexican bandits. She is saved by some red necker-chief wearing men who then plan to burn her on a cross with heavy Klu Klux Klan overtones. At this point Django intervenes and saves her by killing the men. He promises Maria that so long as she stays with him, she'll be safe.

He takes her to a nearby town, a desolate place whose only inhabitants seem to be a bunch of whores who cater to both Major Jackson's Confederate throw-backs and General Hugo's Mexican bandits and the bumbling inn-keep who provides lodgings for the girls. Django's arrival is soon reported to Major Jackson by his spy the town preacher Jonathan. 

Jackson leaves his sport of shooting Mexicans like clay pigeons to go investigate Django. A confrontation at the inn leads Django to shoot yet more of the Major's men before demanding the Major bring all of his remaining, 48, men to town for a gun fight. After an implied love scene with Maria, Django drags his coffin out and sets up behind a fallen tree trunk in the main street of the town. As the Majors men approach he pulls a machine gun out the coffin and mows the men down, leaving Major Jackson alive.

Next the Mexican bandits ride into town and despite an initial confrontation it turns out that the Mexican leader General Hugo is an old friend of Django. They hatch a plot to steal a large sum of gold, to buy more machine guns, from Fort Charriba in Mexico. The plan is successful but Django grows wary when Hugo is not forthcoming with the gold.

Django, alone, devises his own plan to steal the gold from under Hugo's nose and is successful to begin with even when Maria demands to come along. However the gold is lost in the same quicksand we saw at the start of the film and Django almost drowns trying to get it. Maria tries to rescue him although she gets shot by Hugo. Django is lassoed and dragged out of the quicksand, his hands are crushed and trampled under hoof and he is left for Major Jackson to discover and finish off.  

The Mexican bandits are ambushed and gunned down by Major Jackson with reinforcements from the Mexican army Hugo stole the gold from. Jackson himself puts several bullets in a defiant Hugo to end his life. 

A bloodied Django manages to get Maria back to the inn where the inn keep is preparing to leave. The inn keep promises to help keep Maria alive. Django vows to kill Jackson, so that he and Maria can finally be free, and tells the inn keep to give the man a message, that he'll be waiting for him at the cemetery.

Major Jackson and the remaining five members of his posse arrive in town and shoot the inn keep but fail to notice Maria. They head to the cemetery to finish off Django. Against all odds, Django bits the trigger guard off his pistol and, leaning on a wooden and iron cross, manages to gun down Jackson and his five men in just six shots.

The End 

The Good: Franco Nero, as Django, is great. Nero shows some great maturity in his physical acting considering he was fairly young when he starred in this. I’ll note especially his dragging of the coffin, a potent symbol, but he doesn’t overdo it. Nero drags that coffin and his steps are measured but he doesn’t ham it up and struggle with the weight.

The mud. I love how muddy this film is, from the muddy streets of the town that Django and splash their way through (lovely focus on Django’s muddy boots as they enter the inn), to the (thankfully not overplayed) cat-fight in the mud between a few of the town whores, to the cesspit quicksand that brackets most of the major movements in the film. It makes a change from the idea of wind swept dry plains and brings the film down to the grimy and seedy level that I think Corbucci was aiming for.

The sadism. From Major Jackson’s use of Mexicans as human clay pigeons and his sidekick Ringo’s simplistic gunning down of the Mexicans before they’ve even run from the ‘paddock’ to his Klan style hooded men and racial violence we know these are bad people. The Mexican bandits, from General Hugo cutting off the preacher’s ear and making him eat it before shooting him to their capability for self serving violence we know these are bad people. Django, ‘This is Django, a thief, a murderer and an outlaw...’ is a self serving man capable of extreme displays of violence and disregard for human life, he is a bad person. Together they make a melting pot of hatred and violence and it works so well in helping usher in the age of the Spaghetti Western. No man is good, no ‘hero’ is selfless.

Even the use of the machine gun from the shock and awe as he first whips it out of the coffin and guns down all of Major Jackson’s men to the almost proud way he demonstrates it to the Mexicans by shooting all the liquor bottles on the bar, there’s almost a fetishising of the gun itself the instrument which makes the quick drawing cowboy of yesteryear obsolete and welcomes the dirty fighting Spaghetti Western protagonist.

I also enjoyed the acting of Brother Jonathan, the town preacher, and felt that out of all the other actors he had the best interplay with Nero. His neat trimmed beard, clean face and flitting gaze is a nice opposite to Django with his dirty stubble and focused stare.

The musical score is also enjoyable with my personal favorite being the Mexican bandit approach mixing the crashing sounds, that movies have trained us to mean imminent danger, with a light Mariachi style riff.

The Bad: There’s a weird sense, or lack thereof, of spatial awareness with the cutting of this film. For example, when Maria and one of the other women look out the window of the inn and the action moves to Major Jackson gunning down Mexicans on what, I guess, is his personal fort on the outskirts of the town and when that action finishes it moves back to the women and we’re told he’ll be coming to town. The women’s observation makes it seem like the Major’s actions were in eye and ear shot of them but the scene with the Major seems shot in another place entirely and it comes across as very jarring and disjointed.

There is some attempt to flesh out Django’s story, in a graveyard conversation between himself and the inn keeper Django claims that Major Jackson killed someone he loved and he was too far away to help. This seems sort of let down to me as I preferred Django the cryptic quite man, who claims the only thing in his coffin is a man ‘and his name is Django’. Maybe it’s another false claim by the duplicitos Django, in which case this point is moot, but this tacking on of a revenge motive for Django seemed unneccesary and goes against the character that develops as a self motivated lone wolf. It strikes me that the cross Django leans on in the final scene, and the one where he leaves his gun, could have been the woman he loved. I'm unsure if this is a nice underplayed touch or something that should have been sign-posted a little more.

Maria, I didn’t feel there was enough character work for her. She may be the only truely redeemable character in the film. In a one off line it’s noted that she’s half-Mexican, half-American and with the worst traits of both. Half-cast, outcast, she never really gets any sort of development character-wise with people too busy asking her why she ran off with or from the Mexicans to which they get no reply. I feel I wasn't as moved by her plight and shooting as I should have been. 

The Extras: The Argent film DVD release has some nice extras. The menus are well designed athough the extras menu is a bit grating because of the looped machine gun fire sound they stuck on it. The extras include:

-An interview with Franco Nero, who comes across as charming and has some interesting stories to tell about the part.
-An introduction to Django by Alex Cox. Despite being called an introduction there is a warning that the piece contains spoilers for the film. Cox is fairly interesting but the intro is only 10 minutes long and he never really gets to develop the points he wants to make about the genre.
-Django Theatrical Trailer
-Trailers for 'Keoma', 'Django Kill', 'A Bullet For The General' and 'Texas Adios'

If you are a Spaghetti Western fan and haven't seen this film I highly advise you do. Django is packed with lovely set pieces and Nero is a great anti-hero coming close in stature to Clint himself.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Stuck at 13 Bucks and Geronimo Jones 01

"Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake." - Napoleon Bonaparte

Well I'm disappointed in myself at the moment, before I started this blog I was having some good sessions sitting down with the max at the 6-Max Omaha H/L 1 cent/2 cent tables and doubling up. I was however also losing a lot of it on silly plays and chasing down low draws into split pots with too few people in the pot to give me a positive return from the hand.

At least this $10 thing has me erring on the side of caution and whilst I've folded a few would be winners because I was playing too cautiously I haven't pissed away huge (micro stakes) amounts by chasing bad draws or walking into multi-way split pots. (Well I did once and it hurt)

I'm currently stuck between $13-$14, I don't know if it's a psychological thing about 13 being unlucky and I'm being overcautious in my playing or what. This interesting pair of hands popped up to brighten my day (just before I pissed it away with a silly chase):

First time round and I catch this:

My usual strategy in these micro games is to bet with the best of it and to go up in increments and drag the callers and draw chasers with me e.g. I'll start out with a bet of $o.o4, if the turn is safe then it goes to $0.08 and the river, if not filled with danger, goes to $0.16. It's simple cautious and repetitive and should I get a chance to move up I'm gonna have to think about mixing it up with more variation within my safe zone.

Here I start out with a bigger opening raise than usual because I want to see off the low drawers who could make me paranoid should they catch their nut low by pumping the pot and making me wonder of they don't have the other 2 Aces as well. Player 5 just calls and I put him on the low draw...his call on the turn confirms my suspicions...but then on the end...yuck I hate that under-betting the pot on the end. If you have something then match or better my previous bet don't try and throw out a tiny bet because for some reason you think I'm drawing and overplaying it.

I give Player 5 the benefit of the doubt, maybe the phone is going off, the toast is burning and a bad hombre just strolled through his door or something, and he's not thinking straight.

Then only 4 hands later this pops up:


Firstly, I don't know why I bet $0.07 instead of $0.08 like the last time, maybe I wanted to round off my stack. This time I've got a far stronger hand and the turn denies a low draw, I have the nut flush draw, not that that matters. Again the only hand that is initially beating me is Aces over Tens. The Queen was a bit of a danger card because he could have made the higher Full House.

His calling the turn made me think maybe he was on a flush draw (not the nuts because I have that in my hand) but then I would have expected him to call me down on the river with his queen high flush or whatever. I suppose it's possible he had Kings both times and was drawing to a third one...or even one of the other Aces but then how does he build his house?

I guess I'll never know. I'll just be glad he contributed to the fund. Amen Brother! 

Well enough talking shop and onto my first Western review, I'll admit I've got Django in the DVD player but just haven't found the words to sum up its excellence just yet. So as a place-holder here's an old school comics review: Geronimo Jones

Geronimo Jones 
Issue: 1
Publisher: Charlton Comics
Date: September 1971
Credits: 'Created and Written by - Tony Tallarico
                Art by - Jose Delbo + Tony Tallarico
                Edited by - Sal Gentile'

Synopsis: The opening page greets us with a split showing us he clean cut 'fifteen year old school drop out' and the slightly swarthier and bearded 'seventeen year old man with a mission' and promises us the years between.

Young Horace Jones leaves his pampered life at the College of William and Mary and finds himself in the army only to discover it 'looks like I've replaced a screaming teacher at school with a screaming cavalry sergeant!' However after a short action montage compressing two years of such bad-assery as jumping chasms on horseback; saving his sergeant from turbulent waters and shooting the head off a snake whilst riding; into one page Jones' sergeant advises him to go back to school as the country needs smart young men.

Hmmm maybe if the British government had this sort of approach the Universities wouldn't be filled with mindless post-hippy philosophy students regaling everyone with their 'wonderful' tales of a gap year getting pissed and pissing away mummy and daddy's money in India. I digress..

In 1846 Jones returns home to the weeping form of the family slave Harriet. Seems like whilst he was out becoming a man a gang of outlaws raided the house, 'did terrible things' to his ma and sister before shooting them before his father's eyes and looted the house. The sheriff's caught up with all but one of the men. 

Jones goes to see his father who is catatonic, repeating over and over again 'He had no eyebrow...', so at least the last bad guy was good enough to have a distinguishing mark for Jones to track him down by...although on the Jonah Hex scale of facial disfigurement it's not much to go by.

The Sheriff sets Jones on the trail of the final outlaw and also deputises him, well he gives him 'this special deputy might help!'. Lucky Jones spent his army years on a Colonel Fremont expedition and knows the land well.

After weeks on the trail Jones moseys into town, spotting a moderately pimp beard for his age, and orders 'the thickest steak you've got'. Somehow just the waitress calling Jones handsome incites a dirty old cowboy to grab her...Jones busts out his Cavalry-Fu.

The waitress christens him 'Geronimo' after 'that Indian kid Geronimo who comes to town' and the name sticks with the town folk. The One-Eyebrowed Man is also in town and gets wind of Geronimo's mission and he soon slinks off into the night.

We next see Jones on the trail again where he bumps into a girl stuck on a runaway horse and buggy and under fire from a group of men. He saves her and listens to her story (sick father... run down ranch...helpless daughter sent to the bank to bring back silly amount of moolah)  and it turns out that one of her would be assailants is the One-Eyebrowed Man! 

Jones rushes off into our issue ending cliffhanger as the One-Eyebrowed Man leaves him dangling from a ruined rope bridge, although there's no doubt that Jones will escape as his nemesis leaves him with a warning for next time they meet.

The Good: I really liked the artwork, at first I was struck by how Jones seems a little pudgy but it won me over and made a nice difference from some of the other cowboy comics of the time. I also liked Jones transition into beardedness, sure it grows awful neat if they are implying he didn't shave on the trail but it marks a nice turning point in his growth from boy to man. 

The Bad: The One-Eyebrowed man seems kind of lame as a gimmick but at least he stands out. Some of the writing seems a little off 'Get down Jones or you'll have a permanent part in your skull'...always thought it was a permanent part in your hair...might be wrong. His naming seems a little rushed, sure 'Geronimo' has the right connotations of Jones fearlessness but the reason for naming him seems a little slack.

The Extras: No Fight a poem by R.J.Simpson. The name draws a blank to me and search engines. 'Authentic Western Portraits to Frame' of John Charles Fremont; check the wiki link above if your that interested. Finally there's a 4 Page Charisma Kid story and no it has nothing to do with Barack Obama. No idea who's writing/art-work it is (bottom of page 1 has D-1966) Delbo on his own perhaps? The artwork doesn't match the Geronimo story...anyways its a nice little four page filler with a punch line that could have been compressed into a 3 panel comic but still got a chortle from me.

Well next time you hear from me hopefully I'll have broken the dreaded 13 buck barrier! :)

Friday, 30 May 2008

In The Beginning....

In the beginning were a few words about myself and this blog. 

I'll start with a warning that I aim to be a poker blogger, who reviews Western media (Western as in Clint Eastwood, Cowboys etc. not Western as in Great Satan scourge of the arabic peoples) and maybe some Ulysses 31 as well.

At the moment I have the grand sum of $10 in my Pokerstars account. (Tendency to tilt from a couple of bad beats and buying into tournaments at too high a level chipped away most of my starting deposit) So expect some mammoth life or death, mortgage or homelessness, bank-busting hand reports. :) 

I'm sticking to micro stakes Omaha H/L at the moment. I refuse to simply reload my account. This is my personal challenge: 

-Take that $10 and run it as far as I can. 
-I can only move up to the next level when I have twice the maximum buy in.
-I can only buy into a tournament or S+G for, maximum, a hundredth of my bank roll.

I understand that these rules are much more lax than say Chris Ferguson's challenge but I'm not a world class poker pro. I'm probably not even the best in a 2 mile radius of my home but this is my goal and I'm sticking to it and just hoping I don't immediately wipe myself out in the 1 cent/2 cent games. :(

I'm also a massive David Bowie fan.