Saturday, May 17, 2008

Preparing dinner, watching "Loney Are the Brave" & complaining about foreign birds

I’ve been busy the past few days, preparing for a dinner of 40 some folks last night. It turned out great and everyone had a good time. I just wish I’d taken the time to buy the beer. We had Leinenkugel's, which ar from an old brewery in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. They generally makes a pretty good beer, and their wheat beers were good, but I could do without the Summer Shandy (think "wine cooler" with beer and lemonade) and Berry Weiss (think Grape Nehi). Either one of those drinks are enough to make me want to take the temperance pledge.

I began on Thursday night, preparing the meat, chopping vegetables and making a half-dozen banana puddings. Turning on the TV while doing this work, I was pleasantly surprised to discover TMC playing “Lonely Are the Brave.” This 1962 black and white film is one of my favorite and is based upon one of Edward Abbey’s early novels, The Brave Cowboy. The film had an all star cast. Kirk Douglas plays Jack Burns, a cowpoke who just can’t fit into the modern world. He comes down off the mountain to check in on Paul, a friend sent to prison for helping illegal Mexican aliens get work (Interesting topic for the time!). Jack gets in a bar fight and ends up in jail, where he’s reunited with Paul and tries to talk him into breaking out with him. His friend refuses and Jack leaves, heading to the mountains on his house. The movie then involves a modern chase scene that involves jeeps and a helicopter with Jack and his horse (he’d left he horse with his friend’s wife). Jack gets away, makes it over the ridge of the mountain and tells his horse that he’s got a pine carpeted trail all the way to Old Mexico. But then, with one last highway to cross (in the pouring rain), Jack and his horse are hit by a tractor/trailer hauling privies to Mexico, driven by Carroll O’Conner.

The movie has great symbolism. At the beginning of the movie, Jack comes into civilization by crossing a busy highway and having trouble with his horse being spooked by the cars. The movie ends in the same manner, with him crossing a highway (only he doesn’t make it). Jack cuts barbwire and complains about it. He tries to avoid the bar fight and even in his escape, refuses to do more harm than necessary to protect himself. He shoots the back rooter of the helicopter to “let down easy,” and when he encounters a cruel deputy who had knocked a tooth out of his mouth when he was in prison, he returns the favor and throws his weapons off a cliff, but doesn’t kill him even though he has a chance. He considers himself a true individual. Paul won’t break jail for he doesn’t want another five years tacked on to his two year term. Paul has a wife and son to consider. Jack, without a family or any other ties, is free. The Sherriff, played by Walter Matthau, seems to sympathize with Jack’s plight, but others like the cruel deputy played by George Kennedy are willing to do anything to get the “cowboy.” What a great movie to watch while slicing bananas and peeling potatoes.

Speaking of illegal aliens and at the risk of sounding like Lou Dobbs, I’m in my own fight against aliens. Those “blankety-blanket” European Starlings are back. They’re ugly and chase away my favorite birds from the feeders.


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  2. Ew, Sage! I loathe me some starlings! They pecked our bluebird houses and took refuge. They took over the purple martin high rise and they have nests in most of our columns. We've hired a cat, but who knew she would be so lazy. :P

  3. Aliens? I know what kills aliens! Predators!!! Fun! I'm watching the movie right now!

  4. Really, you think they're ugly? I always thought our starlings were pretty. If you look at them closely their feathers are like rainbows with greens purples and gold shimmers in them.

    Michele sent me over to say hi.

  5. Maggie, sounds like you need more than one cat!

    Sue, good idea, what's a good predator (and my daughter is allergic to cats)

    Bob-kat, you are right about their colors--within their dark feathers are hints of purple, green and gold, but they're not nearly as beautiful as my two pair of northern flickers, the four pair of cardinals, the bluejays (but they also treat other birds bad), the woodpeckers (the flicker and woodpecker loves peanuts), and as it warms up, various types of finches... I might find them prettier if they were in your feeders in Britain, where they belong!

  6. I'm stuck at the beer. I don't want to taste to find out however....

    Banana pudding sounds great--recipe please now that I live in the South

  7. As for predators for your starlings, my daughters recommend snakes or large preying mantises (sp?), neither of which seem to have dander issues!

  8. Dinner for 40? Wow, Sage, I am impressed! What did you serve?

  9. What a cast! Even Carroll O'Conner was in there! I think it'd be funner to watch on a recliner with a bottle of GOOD beer.

    Do you mind posting (or e-mailing me) a good banana pudding recipe, one where you make the pudding rather than buy the instant? (If you have one, that is.)

    Thanks! I'm glad you had a good Friday!

  10. The Shandy sounds like a German "Radler," which is beer, lemonade and white soda. In the right proportions, its not sweet but remarkably refreshing on a hot day. "Radler" means "cyclist" and its popular among the biking crowd. One can make it at home, but the trick is to go light on the sweet soda and lemonade.


  11. Dinner for 40 is a lot of work! Glad it was a success!

    I didn't even know we had European Starlings around here until I researched the baby bird I was feeding . . .

    We have a lot of starlings around here, but they live up high in the palm trees when they aren't scavenging for bugs on the ground, and they never come to my feeder . . .

  12. NO DON'T DO IT, DON'T SIGN!!!! LOL sorry about the birds, but they are pretty.

  13. Thanks for introducing me to Winston Rothschild III. Our motto ain't quite as good as his, but it's original: "We take nature's call". Email me at and let me know when you're going to be here.

  14. Wow, what a flashback. I was blown away when I first read Edward Abbey's book and even liked the movie when I saw it much later, something I rarely say when I have previously read the book. For a long while on the internet, my moniker was Jack Burns. But after awhile, so many people thought that was my real name that I wanted to go with a more recognizable one. Ed Abbey isn't any better as many people still think that is my real name.

    Did you ever read my attempt at Blogger's blog a novel way back in 2004? I wrote a novel called "Walking Away" with many similarities to "The Brave Cowboy" including the main character having the name of Jack.

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  16. I suddenly love European Starlings. I'm not sure why. I guess you don't believe in the old adage about God's Creatures, eh? ;-)

  17. Sage, I was trying to figure out where you're from originally. Do you have a "background" post anywhere? Just curious.

  18. Pia and others who have asked: I use the banana pudding recipe found on Nabisco Vanilla Wafer boxes! I'll post it in another post along with my secrets

    Sue, A large Praying Mantis?

    Kenju, I did a traditional barbeque meal--pork along with bruswick stew--my favorite standby when feeding that many

    Scarlet 1: Good beer doesn't contain lemonade

    Sherman: my summer choice for beer is a good IPA, in the winter I'm more likely to go for a porter, stout or brown ale

    Diane, the only feeder they come to is my peanut feeder right outside the kitchen sink--which is where I get the flickers and woodpeckers

    Kontan, Don't sign what? Is Lou Dobbs doing some kind of petition against aliens--I can't stand to listen to him

    Pat, glad you like old Winston--maybe I should do a post on the Red Green show, when I lived in Utah I use to watch it every Saturday night at 10 PM on the PBS station

    Ed, it would be interesting to do a comparison between Jack Burns and Hayduke. I wonder if Abbey had someone in mind when he created Burns (and didn't Burns appear in a couple of novels--Fire on the Mountain maybe? When I have time I'll have to check out your novel--I don't remember you mentioning it before. I'd seen the movie before I read the book, but it wasn't until after I read the book that I watched the movie knowing about Abbey.

    Murf, I suppose I'm just a poor sinner, no candidate to replace St. Francis

    Scarlet #2, I have written lots of stuff about my past--but all short pieces, no "Where's Sage from" post. I was born in Pinehurst, NC. We moved to Petersburg, VA when I was 6 and when I was 9, we moved to near Wilmington, NC. I lived in the Wilmington area till I was 24.

  19. Sadly, I think Berry Weiss is my favorite Leinney's beer: I'm not a fan of the others :-/ Glad to see you supporting Wisconsin breweries though :)

  20. I've never read about Jack Burns resembling someone in the real world. If I had to guess, I would suspect a large part of Abbey is in Jack's character. Both Ed and Jack were background players that liked low profiles while Hayduke based off of Doug Peacock was a more front and center kind of activist.

    I think Jack was in a couple different books. I'm pretty sure he made an appearance in The Monkey Wrench Gang and then again in Hayduke Lives.

  21. Seek and ye shall find the answer. I also forgot Good News.

    Speaking of Abbey, have you ever read Jonathan Troy, his first book. It is the only book I haven't read of his because only 5000 copies were ever printed and many of them don't exist anymore.

  22. TC, if you're this way, I have a few bottles of Lenny Grape Nehi for you, do you also like the Shanty?

    Ed, I read Good News, but it was so long ago that I don't remember it. I've not read Jonathan Troy--didn't know that was the problem, surprised that it hasn't be republished