Kill The Irishman (2011)

Gangster drama about Danny Greene, the true story of his rise and fall through the ranks of the Cleveland underworld. Always an outsider because he wasn’t Italian, but tougher than nails and hard as a brick, Danny was. His bid to take over the Cleveland mob in the middle of the 1970s sparked a war, with hundreds of mobsters dead and dozens of bombings ripping apart warehouses, restaurants and long dark luxury sedans.

It didn’t end until the New York families finally took Greene out, on the 10th try. But the aftermath was nationwide, leading to the downfall of most of America’s crime families, once the feds could no longer look the other way after hundreds of killings. The ripple effect was a wave of rooting out corruption within the police departments in several large cities, and left the traditional mafia so weakened that the door was opened in the 1980s for other organizations to move in, including less respectable and far more vicious gangs of Jamaicans, Russians and Chinese.

So on one hand this is the story about the last of the breed, the dapper dons and sitdowns among capos. On the other hand, it’s the story of how their world ended and a cautionary tale about being careful what you wish for. The old mafia was violent and greedy, yes, but cracking them down meant a new mob with less self control and zero incentive to work anything out with gentlemens agreements among themselves. And then someone invented smokeable cocaine, so the 1980s got real violent in gangland.

There’s a dabble of Danny’s lifestory outside of business, with the wife who left him because, well because he was a gangster. And a new girlfriend, played by the beautiful Laura Ramsey who fills out all those slinky rayon 70’s clothes very well. In the end it’s a pretty good slice of seedy Cleveland and gritty rustbelt gangsters blowing each other up willy nilly. And there’s Christopher Walken. What’s not to like about that?

More info here…

The Hot Potato (2011)

Reminds me of “Morons In Outer Space”, but these ones didn’t even have to leave Earth. Based on a true story, which is right scary, mate. The titular tuber is not a vegetable, but instead a lump of metal about the size of a grapefruit. It weighs about 60 pounds, because it’s made of the metal uranium. First time you watch this, it’s a mystery briefly, but the second time you can’t help but cringe when you see the things these idiots do to the potato.

Working-class Brits are the main cast, so the accents and slang get a bit heavy, but not too difficult to suss out what they’re on about. Just remember that “Old Bill” means the coppers, which means the police. Danny (Jack Huston) finds a shiny box when a weapons research lab blows up, and lugs it round to the metal salvage shop of his mate Kenny (Ray Winstone). It’s 1969, so the Cold War is in full swing, so there are a lot of shady and spicy people interested in getting hold of the potato.

Israelis want to make atom bombs, various gangsters want to make money, and everyone involved makes an ass of themselves through a combination of thuggery and stupidity. Thus, calling this a comedy. No pointedly uproarious laughlines, but generally funny throughout and all the characters are drawn as caricatures.

The plot winds across half a dozen European cities, as every operator in this farce chases the potato in the most inept manner possible. Great fun, engaging cast of small-time hoods and not-quite innocent regular folks caught up in a web of international cloak-and-dagger. And this really happened, yipes.

More info here…

The Monuments Men (2014)

Based on the book by Robert Edsel, about how the Nazis looted Europe of anything of value not bolted down, and many things which were. And about the group of artnerds who got a lot of the stuff back. When this came out the critics fawned over it. An all-star cast, a story about hi-falutin’ stuff, and for once, there was a war movie which no intelligensian can be too snobby to hate.

It’s a true story, or the book is anyway, and the cast really is outstanding. Bill Murray and Bob Balaban teasing each other is the running gag and it’s perfect. There’s even a parting shot of them ripped straight out of Casablanca, as in a beautiful friendship beginning. Star, narrator, producer, and director is Clooney, and he even worked on the script too. Matt Damon turns in another great role. John Goodman is a master at work. Cate Blanchett, nuffsaid?

So why does the movie fall so far short? Artsy critics were quick to praise this one, we already mentioned how it’s a war movie all their own, but it seems like no one got past that to evaluate the film on its own cinematic merits. Beautifully shot, Clooney is a fine director, there is nothing technically wrong with the movie. So why does it feel hollow?

Like a documentary but dramatized, and light on information because it’s a drama, not a documentary. The root trouble with this movie is covering too much story with too little information. A finer scalpel running over the book would have found the spine of a simpler plot, isolated it, and built a new creature around it. That’s what screenwriters do.

You can tell that someone attempted to do it with Edsel’s book. Focusing the plot on the Ghent Altarpiece and the Madonna of Bruges was a stab at boiling the plot down. Unfortunately, these two stories (where there should be one) happen in the beginning and in the last 15 minutes, and the intervening time is a series of anecdotes, disjointed vignettes of nostalgia.

Very entertaining anecdotes, to be sure. The Murray/Balaban feud is great and putting John Goodman into combat is bound to be hilarious. But then throw in an almost love story, and a dozen anecdotes about nothing more than how tough it was to invade Germany, and the whole middle hour of the movie turns to jelly. Bookending scenes with FDR and Truman are exemplars of how the movie skips around from thing to thing, jamming in as many odd loose bits of the book as it can.

It could have been a tight story about a few guys chasing Nazi plunder across Europe, with a quality side-story about unfulfilled desire in Paris in April. On one hand, the plethora of A-listers almost ensures that the plot will be diluted. At 1:51 the movie is plenty long, but there’s just too much starpower to contain. All the cast are brilliant, but none of them get to shine.

Would have made a great comedy, specially with this ensemble. A movie about the relationship between Damon and Blanchett would make a great movie. Or a movie about this group hunting down one specific trove of artworks, done as a combo of detective-movie and war-movie would be a fun ride. But this movie tries to be all those films at once. Predictable results.

In the end, it’s good entertainment with a tiny amount of culture sprinkled over it, but no meaty plot to bite into. Worth watching for the laughs, but like the ancient American proverb about Chinese food, you’ll be hungry again soon afterwards.

More info here…

Captain Phillips (2013)

Pretty long movie but a good story, and it really happened, despite all the legalese denials at the end of the credits. Keeps the tension up for over two hours, casting real Somalis as the pirates was a genius move, and Tom Hanks does his part like a veteran A-lister. Despite a whole lot of violence, there’s no actual death until the final unraveling.

Taking place onboard various ships, the running theme is claustrophobia and this reaches a fever pitch as the whole thing comes to a head in a pretty tough but very tiny little lifeboat. Early on, the foreshadowing machine plays a “special security announcement” when Cap’t Phillips arrives at the airport, just after he tells Mrs Phillips “everything’s gonna be OK.” So we know that not everything will be OK, since there’s two hours of movie left.

The devilish thing this movie does, and the main reason a mass of critics circle-jerked over it when it came out, is that this film takes extra time to make sure we get the story from both points of view: the pirates and the piracy victims. Because we know what happens, because we watched the news in April of 2009, we know the SEALs save the day, but by the time it comes, this crafty flick has you caring whether the pirates live or die.

A straight action flick has you accepting that the bad guys must die simply because they dared to point a Kalashnikov at the hero. In this one, the bad guys are still painted bad, and you’re made to feel they get what they’ve got coming, but the film also slips in a bit of pathos. You’re sad to see the waste of life but buy into the idea that these punks really have nothing better to do, and you are prodded to think of that as the true crime. Don’t fall for it.

There are some fun lines in the script, like the pirate leader Muse (Barkhad Abdi) saying early in the pirate attack that he wants to go to America. And he did. And he’s going to be in prison a long time. Arrr, matey, you stupid douchebag.

More info here

The Expendables 3 (2014)

Again, no Steven Seagal. Otherwise, you know why we are here: old action movie stars give another go around the mulberry bush. Terry Crews skips most of this one, and Arnold never gave him back that gigantic shotgun, but Terry does find a good replacement personality-weapon: a rotary machine gun of the type usually found on the nose of an attack helicopter. Naturally he needs a new catch-phrase: “Time to mow the lawn.”

But with Mr. Crews out, we need another black guy, and Wesley Snipes does a great job as “Doc”. Catch-phrase? “Oh Sally!” We get Jet Li back, but only briefly, and Harrison Ford takes over the role where we’ve seen Bruce Willis for the first two movies. But why stop there? Let’s make some calls and add Mel Gibson, Antonio Banderas, Ronda Rousey and Kelsey Grammer.

Yes, Kelsey Grammer. Frasier. He doesn’t kill anyone.

Per The Formula, we have a bad guy with a private army and the Geezer Squad has to do something about that. Something involving planes trains and automobiles, all of which explode because, per The Formula, everything in this movie is made of kerosene. Even brick buildings are made of kerosene. But there is a twist to The Formula this time, Sly fires the old E-Boys and takes on a whole new crew of 20-somethings.

Obviously, the young pups end up in trouble and the franchise’s staple cast has to blast their way in and out. By this time, Arnold is no longer Governor of California, so his role is larger this time. Willis as the angry blackmaily CIA contact was probably pissing someone off, so Ford takes over as the CIA guy, a kinder and suaver one, but he keeps the central thesis alive: 80s movie action hero oldster goes back to battle.

And what a battle it is. This one’s combat crescendo is the best of the series so far, about 20 minutes of nonstop chopsocky, stabsocky, and gunsocky. Also, lots of people get hit with guns, more than usual this time. There’s tanks and a nice miniature airwar, although it’s uncertain how competent the opposing army is, since they open up with artillery *after* sending their infantry in. Not exactly West Pointers in Azmenistan, the fictional mashup of Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan where our boss badguy Mel Gibson is holed up.

Same as the last movie, this is filmed mainly in Bulgaria, and there is one location which is stupendous. It’s a river of boulders cascading down a valley, like an avalanche in freezeframe, or a raging flood suddenly bereft of water. Bulgaria production also means that every person in the hundreds of crew and extras has a surname ending with “-ov”. And, as a side benefit, this is set in a fictional Central Asian former Soviet SSR, and Bulgaria has plenty of decaying buildings with Cyrillic letters all over them.

Rousey is not that great of an actress, but gets better as the movie progresses, so there’s hope for her in Hollywood, and her combat scenes are very good. Snipes turns in a great performance, although with such a packed cast he doesn’t get as much flicktime as he deserves. That can be said for nearly everyone in the movie. Foundational problem with this movie is that there are too many stars. Not a crack in the foundation, because we are looking at an action flick, so nobody’s character really suffers from underdevelopment. It’s just that there are some great performances which would have benefited from more exposure to the lens.

Gibson’s role is good and he inhabits it competently, and Antonio Banderas is an absolute riot here. Banderas might actually have the most lines, after Stallone, and that’s likely because the film editor recognized that Banderas was turning in an excellent performance from start to finish, playing the comic relief, but 100% in on the action. Antonio Banderas is the best actor in this movie. Cripes, i never thought i’d say that.

Doesn’t happen often, but sometimes a second sequel is the best of the bunch. After seeing three, i’d say the director was better in #2, the cast is better in #3, and the story was better in #1. And the score was far better in the second one. By this movie, we have largely left the classic rock behind, and that’s a real pity. Someone got their hands on this edition of Expendables and decided to try and make it into a movie for the coveted 16 – 24 demographic. Big mistake. Lose your roots and you lose your way.

The extended version of this movie was also watched, but it’s not very extended, only a few minutes total. A couple short scenes added, but most of the extra footage is just a few seconds here and there during combat. Statham gets the lion’s share of that, showing off his keen grenade-throwing skills and some extra stabbings.

But this one is the best of the three, no matter how diluted every actor’s role is. No matter how uninspired the score is, the action is full of good stunts and decent banter, pretty explosions and Schwarzenegger gets to rip off with that huge shotgun he stole from Terry Crews. Still miss Randy Quaid as the guru, but Gibson is the best villain yet. Panoramic in scope, in several different ways. But… nobody has Steven Seagal’s phone number?

More info here…

The Expendables 2 (2012)

Back for another rollicking installment, the E-Boys did well enough with the first one to get funding to make another. Like the original, this movie starts out with a subplot to get the juices flowing, and by juices i mean bullets, knives, and in Jet Li’s case a couple deadly iron skillets. The first movie’s opener had the guys saving a ship infested with Somali pirates, and this time they’re busting up a private army’s compound in Asia. The highlight, of course, is crashing their spare motorcycle. You’ll love where they park it.

Still no Steven Seagal, but this one has Jean Claude Van Damme as our boss badguy, Chuck Norris dips in for a while, and we get larger cameos from Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Unfortunately, Jet Li bows out after the prelude, and Liam Hemsworth is the new kid in the clique, but leaves the E-Boys before the main battle too. The newbie who sticks around is Yu Nan as Maggie, not a bad fighter in her own right. Also missing is Randy Quaid, who was the group’s guru in the first movie.

You know the formula: our squad of mercs taking care of business until some bad guy makes it personal, and then it’s a mini war between the Expendables and a medium-sized army. Gluing it all together are emotive montages of tired (or tense) soldiers in the back of a cargo plane, and one-liners peppering the fighting sequences. There’s a feint at a love story, a small amount more backstory on the squadmembers, and some emotional hostage reunions.

But that’s not why we came here. No, we’re here to see a greedy brigade of well-armed Satanists get all blowed up. True to form, this episode has a wooden bridge which turns out to be actually made of kerosene. Statham still prefers knives, big ones, but without Jet Li this one is lighter on the quality chopsocky. Plenty of gun battles, though, including one at an airport in a poor corner of Europe, notable for the Satanists only arriving in two 25-foot trucks, and yet losing about 200 fully-armed men. Must have been clown trucks.

The classic rock soundtrack is back, and better than in the first movie, though a Little Richard tune gets tragically drowned by constant gunfire. But i understand. If this was Tarantino, the foley effects would have been muted (or absent) and the song would have been upfront. But that’s Tarantino, and that’s not what this movie is trying to be. The Expendables movies are throwbacks. Shiny new throwbacks, yes, but not only in plot but in style these movies are trying to recreate the whole feel of a legitimate 1982 summer blockbuster.

It’s the whole idea, get the band back together. The Expendables franchise wants to make the movies these guys loved to watch, not just the ones they acted in. Everyone wants that. What ever kind of movies you like, there’s always a few which stick with you, movies where you watch them and say “I wish there were more movies like that.” These guys are just like you, only they had the fame and connections to actually make more movies like they like. In this case, movies where the bad guys are well defined (here they all have the same tattoo), and where badass buddies team up to take ’em out.

On the whole, this one delivers, but on a smaller plate than the original movie. Not a crime, most sequels do this exact thing. Where this one succeeds on its own is Van Damme’s great final battle mano-a-mano, and a string of silly things the cameo players do with each other’s catchphrases. It is a chopsocky shoot-em-up, and not taking itself too seriously is important for this mega ensemble cast to appear together without stretching the bands of believability beyond repair.

If you like this kind of movie, you’ll like this one. If you don’t, then there are about 70,000 other movies out there so you can certainly find what you’re looking for somewhere else.

More info here

The Expendables (2010)

Comfort food for anyone who likes Steven Seagal. He’s not in this one, but everyone else who did action movies in the 1980’s is here. Hell, we’ve even got Bruce Willis and the Arnoldator in bit roles. Ever hear of that parlor game Six Degrees Of Kevin Bacon? This movie alone is a whole degree. Basic plot is mercenaries go kill bad guys and rescue good guys, then Dolph Lundgren gets pouty, then they bust up a Latin American banana republic.

Since this is 2010, Dolph gets redemption because everybody wins in 2010. Except for some general (pronounced “heneral” here) and his private army. They don’t win at all. There’s some plot twists and Eric Roberts is the bad guy, what a shock, but all you need to know is that this is a shoot-em-up with chopsocky, and Statham loves knives so there’s some stabsocky too. Naturally, there are explosions. A nice dock on a lake appears to be made out of wood, but apparently it is made out of kerosene and the local fishermen use it to store more kerosene, tons of it, in crates whick look wholly unsuitable for storing kerosene. Yay!

Stallone directs and also co-wrote it, and he lets the old school crewe riff in some scenes, but ad-libbing is not the sharpest repartee when the cast’s average age is 56. I’m sure they were all historic ballbusters when they got together at Sly’s house for drinks when he pitched the project, but turn a camera on them and they freeze up, getting all worried about the status of their career comebacks.

In that roundabout way, I’m saying that you’re not viewing literature here, you’re watching a vehicle for several actors you wondered about, what they were up to lately. Some of the one-liners are pretty good, others pretty corny, but even the corny ones are part of the formula. A little updated, but the formula has always worked. And it does again here, if you like the formula for action movies, you’ll enjoy this one. Keep an eye out for a pickup basketball game, then find your rewind button.

The extended version is just as good, sometimes those longer cuts are not such a good idea, but here Sly adds 10 minutes, mostly additional dialogue and a few scenes are re-edited to change shots around. The additional backstory to the characters and added jokes were definitely a good idea in this movie. Other additions were just 1-second shots in the midst of fast paced hand-to-hand combat, adding depth to the action. These extra touches make the crescendo of the main battle scene 50% more satisfying, so it really feels like we’ve accomplished something here. My arms flew up in the “touchdown” signal when Terry Crews finally shows up with the most asskickingest shotgun fusillade of all time.

The score is just what you would want, and either they spent some cash on song rights, or the existence of iTunes has pushed down the price of 70’s monster rock hits. We even get “Keep On Chooglin” by CCR, and the last time I heard that was off a vinyl LP. Great job on the music… except for the extended version. The score is gutted in the longer cut, tunes by Mountain, Thin Lizzy and Georgia Satellites got the axe and the main battle is set to a tune by Shinedown, an improvement over the orchestral score in the short version, but the same tune plays at the end credits, replacing the much more satisfying and apropos track “The Boys Are Back In Town”. If i was scoring this movie, i would have certainly added Johnny Cash’s “Ring Of Fire” in the scene where Stallone and Statham arrive in Vilena, the tune is nicely south-of-the-border-ish and the lyrics would have carried the theme of the immediately-previous dialogue perfectly. Alas, a missed opportunity.

One more thing to note, the violence in this kind of movie is often toned down, editing cuts coming just at the right moment to avoid most of the blood and camera angles chosen to leave the most nasty bits of action to the viewer’s imagination. Not the case here. This one is a buckets o’ blood gorefest. We have on-camera dismemberment, spouts of blood from gunfire and stabwounds, and although the early-on estimate is that the isle of Vilena has an army of about 200 guys, there are easily over 300 bad guys killed.

Eric Roberts, as the main baddy obviously dies, no spoiler there, but his offing is a bit too theatrical and disappointingly clean. Maybe that was in his contract. On the other hand, his main minion, played by the mountainous Steve Austin, is really tough to kill, and his offing is suitably nasty and fully on-camera… again, except for the extended version. In the long cut of the movie, Steve’s death is considerably tamer. Pity.

The full review is here

English in 2016

It’s suddenly 2016, and exciting things are coming for English, and all of its speakers should be pretty keyed up for how the language is going to get cleaner and meaner, and easier to use this year.

Hey, we know, all you foreigners have been telling us for centuries that ours is the hardest language to learn, and honestly it doesn’t make us feel bad for you. In fact, we like to be a little smug about that. It means we can learn your language in an instant, if we wanted to, having already mastered the hard one, right? By extension, native English speakers are prone to thinking that they’re innately more intelligent than the rest of the world, since WE caught on to English so easily. Mere child’s play.

But don’t worry, foreigners. We’re all about making things easier on ourselves, another little bit easier every year, so that’ll trickle down to you eventually. You’ll thank us, once you learn to say “thanks” instead of “thanking you”.

The biggest change for 2016, one you’ll notice the most, is cutting out the pairs. You don’t need to call scissors a “pair of scissors” anymore, and pants is just pants. Same goes, now for clippers, grippers, pliers, eyeglasses, panties, tongs, and thongs. You don’t have to wear a clean pair of jeans now, you just wear clean jeans. It’ll be a welcome rest for the word “of”, which has been run ragged for a while now. Of was never designed to be a conjunction for plurals and we’re finally making the first step on the road to relieving of of its overuse, gradually returning it to its proud place as the genitive companion to a noun. Anne of Cleves. John of Gaunt. Lawrence of Arabia. That’s what of was meant to do.

Experts expect the transition to be completed safely and quietly, since attention spans are dwindling and communication via thumbtap is nearly 10% of all human discourse now. We’re eliminating three whole words: “a pair of”, so collectively our early adoption of this rule will unemploy 81 healthcare workers in the carpal tunnel field. Sacrifices have to made.

The only new wrinkle is that several nouns will now have the same form plural as they do singular. These words won’t exist anymore come New Years Day: plier, eyeglass, tong, or jean. Of course, pant, thong, gripper and clipper will still exist, but only for, respectively, heavy breathing, leather straps, portable handles, and sailing ships. You won’t look at a bolt of denim and say “that’s jean material,” you’ll just say “it’s jeans cloth”. The singular is eyeglasses, and the plural is eyeglasses, so we won’t need to feel uncomfortable about that anymore.

When you found yourself with a tong in 2015, you were automatically confused. With the new rules, what you’re holding is a broken tongs, not a broken pair of tongs, and not a tong, and it’s broken so just throw it out. Ahhh, much simpler. Of course, this adds another exception to a rule, which drives foreigners nuts when trying to learn English. Sorry, and eventually you’re welcome.

There are some case-by-case changes coming to English in 2016, mostly aimed at maintaining credibility (and stunting idiocy) among journalists.

You are no longer allowed to use the phrases “boots on the ground”, “new normal” or “perfect storm.” C’mon folks, “perfect storm” has been deprecated since 2003, please keep up with the rest of the culture you pretend to reflect. Turning on and dropping out can only be done AFTER tuning in, so do your diligence before hitting the 60% cacao martinis.

Instead of “boots on the ground,” you may now say “military involvement” or “combat ops,” or opt for the more patriotic “coalition strike forces.” If you feel an urge to be retro, you may even say “invasion.” But it is time for you to smarten up and see that “boots on the ground” is redundant redundant, since boots in the air and boots on the water are both useless and brief, so that boots can only really be “on the ground” to be anything other than absurd. And redundant too.

You’ve been warned, and further use of “boots on the ground” is free fodder for snickers behind your back by other journalists, and by pundits who you thought were your friends.

“New normal” had relevance in the Great Deprecession of 2008 through 2011, but the catastrophic demise of the theory of The End Of History has taught us that all voids must be filled, always and everytime, so you may no longer pretend to be surprised at every new trend, nor proclaim it as a paradigm. Doing so in 2015 unclothed you as a dimwit, and please note that we are only able to use the term “paradigm” now in 2015, after a suitable period of rest after it was, itself, dead-horsed into scorned obsolescence in 1999. There is never any new normal, there is just normal, which becomes another normal when its kids start to hate it.

Some of you may think that “perfect storm” has been graduated from casual catchphrase into the regular lexiconic zoo. You are incorrect. Moving from the sporadic uses between the actual 1993 storm to the pandemic usage shortly after the eponymous 1997 movie, that was a logical step. But it was hackneyed by 2001, officially banned in 2003, and anyone who uses it now is tarred as someone who has nothing more interesting to say. Don’t be a someone. “Perfect storm” won’t be eligible for reconsideration until 2023, the 30th anniversary of the actual perfect storm.

And of course there are the podges of small annual changes to English, mostly additions and subtractions of single words here and there, most of which you’ll never notice. Flabbergasted, for example, has been retired for 2016. A relative newcomer is doomed to fall by the wayside this year, as “photobomb” will bifurcate into “selfyjack” and “popin”. Photobomb just doesn’t feel good on the human tongue.

Emoji is the OED’s marquee official addition for 2016, but that spotlight forecasts to be misdirected, since you don’t talk about emojis, you just do them. Nobody who uses emojis ever says the word “emoji”. I think the Oxford English Dictionary folks just got giddy over a new form of communication, being the linguistic scientists that they considered themselves back in school days. Only, they forgot their day job: English. If they want to make a dictionary of emojis, then let them try that, and compete and fail versus an 11-year-old suburban punk outside Tokyo. But as a noun in English, “emoji” is destined only to be a bit player, in the theatrical sense, not in the nerdpun sense.

Some models predict the emergence of a scandal suffix which will finally supplant “gate” in 2016. But then again they said that last year too, which would have turned Deflategate into Sheenballs and Clinton’s Servergate into Sheenmail. So it’s good when predictions don’t come true, some of them anyway. But still, the odds are good in 2016, if we have 15 candidates still in the race for President in February. Odds are excellent, in fact, that one of them will have a horrendous blowup involving both live boys and dead hookers, and we might finally be able to set “gate” to rest after 44 years.

Of note to biologists, you can now say “duodenum” and “pudendum” and “cocyx” once again, since 13-year-olds today can skim the full range of humanity’s comedy industry on their phone before breakfast. Along the same lines, penguin jokes are not funny anymore, but pigeon jokes will take off 2016. Yes, in the nerdpun sense too.

The final thing to be on the lookout for in 2016 is the emergence of a new assent adjective. Keen from the 1950’s didn’t last, but Cool from the 1960’s has kept right on truckin’ for 50 years, even persisting into a new form as Kewl. Failures since then are Mint in the ’70s and Rad in the ’80s, Chill in the ’90s and Hot in the Otts. The Tens have not popped out a pervasive assent adjective yet, and we’re halfway through ’em. There are candidates percolating through the undercard of the internet, but none have spilled over so far.