(Wacka chicka wacka chicka wacka chicka wacka chicka wacka chicka wacka chicka)

Austin Dispatches 
No. 18
 June 21, 2000

At long last. I salivated about seeing this movie for more than a year. The Scottsdale Tribune published a special entertainment supplement to tout "The Phantom Menace," including an interview with Samuel L. Jackson. He and the reporter spent more time discussing the upcoming "Shaft" remake than some jive kiddie flick.1

Getting through work on Friday was a challenge. Everywhere I walked in the office, I heard wah-wah guitars and funky horn sections. By day's end, I got to feeling like a machine. That's no way to feel.2

Then I had to rely on my street smarts. I'm talkin' 'bout maneuvering through traffic in North Austin and Pflugerville on a Friday evening, getting gas, getting cash, getting food, and getting an early seat at the multiplex. All before 7 p.m. Can you dig it?3

Natch, Interstate 35 traffic was snarled like 110th Street, so I detoured the hog along F.M. 1835 to Tinseltown North.4 Nearby: Charlie's Steak House.5 If you ever wondered how uninspired a fillet mignon and baked potato dinner could be, that's the place. Not bad, just ... unremarkable. I should've had hamburgers.6

Or as The Dialectizer would put it:

At long last. Man! ah' salivated about seein' dis movie fo' mo'e dan some year. Ah be baaad... De Scottsdale Tribune published some special entertainment supplement t'tout "De Phantom Menance," includin' an interview wid Remus L. Jackson. 'S coo', bro. He and da damn repo'ta' spent mo'e time discussin' de downcomin' "Shaft" remake dan some JIBE kiddie flick. Ya' know?

Gettin' drough wo'k on Friday wuz some challenge. Everywhere ah' walked in de office, ah' heard wah-wah guitars and funky ho'n secshuns. By day's end, ah' gots'ta feelin' likes some machine. Dat's no way t'feel. Den ah' had t'rely on mah' street smarts. I'm rapin' 'bout maneuverin' drough traffic in No'd Austin and Pflugerville on some Friday evenin', digtin' gas, digtin' cash, digtin' food, and digtin' an early seat at da damn multiplex. Slap mah fro! All befo'e 7 p. Jes hang loose, brud.m. WORD! Can ya' dig it?

Natch, Interstate 35 traffic wuz snarled likes 110d Street, so's I detoured da damn hog along F.M. 1835 t' Tinseltown No'd. Nearby, Charlie's Steak Crib. If ya' eva' wondered how uninspired some fillet mignon and baked potato dinna' could be, dat's de place. Not baaaad, plum ... unremarkable. ah' should've had hamburgers.7

Oh yeah, the movie. Right on! Jackson struts, scowls and does his thing as Nephew of Shaft. (Not to be confused with Son of Shaft, for you Bar-Kays fans out there.)8 Richard Roundtree, a.k.a. The Original Shaft, the Shaft of Shafts, gets more than a glorified cameo.9 Some of the supporting actors even manage to steal scenes with Jackson, and that's hard to do. The action accelerates like a two-tone Mark IV Caddy, so that in the end, "Shaft" comes across as more than an extended episode of "New York Undercover."10 The producers even pulled Isaac Hayes away from performing in Richardson (as part of the “Wildflower Nights! Concert Series") to re-record the original theme. Right on!11

I liked "Shaft" a lot better than “Gladiator.” The fight scenes are choppily edited.12 The film has a false happy ending tacked on. With almost all the main characters dead at the end of the story, the start of the Empire's historic decline, the leading Romans in the Coliseum vow to restore the Republic in accord with the wishes of the late Emperor Marcus Aurelius. As if.13 Neither the emperors, nor the Senate, nor the populace, gave anything beyond lip service to the restoration of the Republic, which at its dissolution had been marked by constant civil wars, political violence and corruption.14

In modern times, I'm still working at Dell, arranging to have my possessions shipped to Austin, and edging back into the social whirlwind.

Stay loose, baby.15

1 EAD No. 5 (June 1999); Outhier, Craig. "Action Jackson." Episode I: The Phantom Menace (Get Out special section) 13 May 1999: 4-5.
2 Shaft. Dir. Gordon Parks Sr. Written by Ernest Tidyman and John D.F. Black. MGM, 1971.
3 Ibid.
4 Across 110th Street. MGM, 1972; Beal, Chandra. "Living and Learning in a Constant State of Flux." AM June 2000: 6-9+.
5 "Father Geek." "Father Geek Takes a Peek at Charlie's Angels." Ain't It Cool News 27 Oct. 2000. <http://www.aintitcool.com/display.cgi?id=2798>.
6 Pulp Fiction: A Quentin Tarantino Screenplay. New York City: Miramax Books/Hyperion, 1994: 25.
7 EAD No. 9 (Oct. 23, 1999); Stoddard, Samuel. The Dialectizer. RinkWorks. <http://rinkworks.com/dialect>.
8 The Bar-Kays. "Son of Shaft." 1972. The Best of The Bar-Kays. Stax 8542, 1988.
9 Katz, Ephraim; Fred Klein, and Ronald Dean Nolan. "Roundtree, Richard." The Film Encyclopedia, rev. 4th ed. New York City: HarperReference, 2001: 1188.
10 Brooks, Tim, and Earle Marsh. Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows, 1946-Present, rev. 6th ed. New York City: Ballentine Books, 1995: 741.
11 “Big Name Acts Spring Into Richardson ‘Wildflower!’ Festival.” Richardson Today April 2000: 1; Shaft, op. cit.
12 Ebert, Roger. "No Roman Holiday: Murky 'Gladiator' Epic is Downright Depressing." CST 5 May 2000: 34.
13 Eusebius. The History of the Church From Christ to Constantine, trans. G.A. Williamson. (c.311-325) New York City: Dorset Press, 1965: 165-168, 192-205; Sutton, Ray R. That You May Prosper: Dominion by Covenant, 2nd ed. Tyler, Texas: Institute for Christian Economics, 1992: 182.
14 Patterson, Orlando. Freedom, Vol. I: Freedom in the Making of Western Culture. New York City: Basic Books, 1991: 203-263, 284-290.
15. Shaft, op. cit.