All the dirt, news, culture and commentary for Oklahoma's second century.

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In "Back to the Future Part III," the line "time's up runt!" was filmed on Oct. 11, 1989.
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OKLAHOMA CITY – Back on April 9th I wrote a piece called “Under blue moon I saw you,” a Dust Devil Dreams sync piece where I talk about Echo & The Bunnymen’s “The Killing Moon” (one of the best songs ever written … ever - sync "Fate, up against your will") and its connection to the film Donnie Darko, a 2001 film set over the course of October 1988, a month and year that proved pivotal for me and comes to mind practically all the time.

Oh, and the film came out in October 2001, just a month after the 9/11 attacks. The creators of the brilliant/synchromystic film, including director/magus Richard Kelly, got a little push-back on the Arabic font used for the credits. Because, as the “official story” goes, 19 Muslim hijackers …

You know the rest.

In the piece, I note an interesting exchange between Donnie Darko (Jake Gyllenhaal) and his psychologist, Dr. Lilian Thurman (Katharine Ross). In the scene, Donnie tells Dr. Thurman about the six-foot tall bunny rabbit that he sees, the one he calls “Frank.” Donnie tells Thurman that he is trying to “figure” out everything that is happening to him. Because if he doesn’t, he won’t be able to know his master plan.”

Thurman: “Do you mean ‘God’s’ master plan. Do you now believe in God?

Donnie: “I have the power to build a time machine.”

Thurman: “How is that possible? How is time travel possible? Donnie?”

Donnie: “Time’s up. Frank said.”

Thurman: “When is this going to happen?”

Donnie: “S-s-soon.”

THE CRIME OF THE CENTURY

I thought abot this exchange recently, after reading a post called “The Crime of the Century,” written by my friend Michael, who writes the wonderfully insightful sync blog Gosporn.

In the post, from June 8th, Michael writes that he was watching the web television series Marvel’s Daredevil, starring Charlie Cox as Matt Murdock, a.k.a. Daredevil, who is a lawyer by day and a crimefighter when the sun goes down.

A character in Daredevil, named Ben Urich, is an investigative reporter for the fictitious New York Bulletin. In the show, Urich is seen in the series driving a late 1990’s model Buick Century sedan. As Michael noted: “This automobile was, perhaps, chosen to underline Urich’s relative poverty compared to the transportation  of the fat cats (i.e. “Kingpin”) he attempted to expose.”

Investigative reporter Ben Urich drives a 1990's model Buick Century in Marvel's Daredevil.

Ah yes, the “poverty” of the reporter. It’s rather real. When I first started out interning for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in the mid-1990’s, at their Fayetteville bureau, I was driving a 1979 Buick Century station wagon, a hand-me-down from my parents, and a car I affectionately called “The Runtmobile.”

Runtmobile, you ask? Well, it’s not a very long story. In fact, in Michael’s “The Crime of the Century” post, he notes a conversation we had where I told him that on October 11, 1989 I was raking autumn leaves in the front yard of my parent’s house in Wichita, Kansas. Suddenly, like a flash, a voice told me that I was to call my ’79 Buick Century wagon “The Runtmobile.” I have no idea why or where this notion came from. In fact, up until that time we had called the ugly car with faux-wood paneling “Chris.”

I would drive this car for another six-plus years, finally selling it in an auto auction in Siloam Springs, Arkansas on February 14, 1996 (Valentine’s Day eve) for a paltry $330. The Runtmobile got me through many states and a Canadian province and defied the odds on multiple occasions. It was a great car to get me through college.

Oh, and there’s something I forgot to mention – October 11th is also Michael’s birthday.

CONSPICUOUSNESS

Continuing on, Michael goes into the definition of “Century” and follows it with some observations about the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, as investigated by Red Dirt Report friend Dave McGowan. The assassination of the 16th president was considered the “Crime of the Century.”

“Perhaps (McGowan’s) best analysis of the situation stems from asking the question: “If I was going to assassinate the President, how would I do it?” and considering the myriad opportunities to attack Lincoln while he was alone and vulnerable, the choice of ‘box seat, Ford’s Theater with single-shot pistol’ defies credulity.”

Michael adds that McGowan points out how the assassinations of the Lincoln and John F. Kennedy, along with the 9/11 attacks, “are conspicuous simply by their conspicuousness. Engineered to be collective rituals, with outrageous and spectacular media manipulation to present a certain narrative of events.”

"The Runtmobile" as it appeared in 1991 (Photo by Andrew W. Griffin)

Michael notes, as have I in my June 15th Dust Devil Dreams piece “Majestic (Being Lloyd),” that the English rock band Supertramp seems to have unwittingly, or otherwise, predicted the “crime of the century” with an album of the same name, that came out before Breakfast in America, an album released in March 1979, the same month and year my parents bought the car that a decade later would be christened “The Runtmobile.” (I even turned over an expired Kansas license plate and scrawled “Runtmobile” on it in black magic marker - Donnie Darko-and-Superman-style - and put it on the front of the car). Check out more on that at my piece "What goes on?"

"The long way home," indeed.

MORE “WIRES”

So, where is all of this leading, you ask? Well, in Michael’s piece he ends by noting that we all seem to be heading for the proverbial “cliff” at the moment, kind of like a horsedrawn carriage careening towards the edge, or, perhaps, a train heading for the canyon, as it tries to reach 88 miles per hour, as we all saw in the Wild West-inspired Back to the Future Part III, released in May 1990.

That same amazing year, Growing Pains star and Tiger Beat pin-up (and future fanatical Christian fundamentalist) Kirk Cameron hosted a “behind the scenes” direct-to-videotape documentary called The Secrets of the Back to the Future Trilogy.

As 19th century cowboys check out the DeLorean time machine, Kirk Cameron reads a fan letter. 

It’s an interesting and silly endeavor, written and directed by Peyton Reed (who recently directed Ant-Man). And a lot of the beginning of the doc focuses on Back to the Future Part III, the one that primarily takes place in 1885.

While watching the portion where it shows actor Tom Wilson playing Buford “Mad Dog” Tannen encountering Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) in a duel situation on Hill Valley’s muddy main drag, Wilson, in crusty cowboy gear, is shown “falling” after being punched and so forth. But the camera shows us a quick shot of the film’s “clapperboard” indicating the scene number, take number, etc. I froze the screen and couldn’t believe the date on the clapperboard – October 11, 1989! Why was this significant? Because that is the day I was raking leaves and the words “Runtmobile” came to me in a flash. And what was actor Tom Wilson saying to Marty in the dirt-strewn streets of 1885 Hill Valley, which was being filmed on the exact same day I had my Runtmobile revelation? “Time’s up, runt!

Recall that in Donnie Darko, where Donnie tells Dr. Thurman about his "time machine," Thurman presses for more information and abruptly says, "Time's up. Frank said."

RABBIT EARS

Thinking about “runts,” takes me back to the film I noted at the beginning of this Dust Devil Dream: Donnie Darko.

Just as Doc Brown tells Marty that you have to drive 88 to go through time, Donnie Darko takes place in 1988. Music played a big role for me at that time. U2’s Rattle & Hum came out in October of that year, and I bought it the day it was released. Songs from that album keep coming up for some reason. The ghosts of “88” keep haunting me. It’s odd and unsettling at times.

Anyway, in the film, as I noted in my October 27, 2014 Dust Devil Dreams post “Frank,” the six-foot tall bunny rabbit “Frank” is haunting Donnie Darko. Bunny rabbits resonate as predictors of future events. After sleazy life coach Jim Cunningham (Patrick Swayze) is exposed as operating a child porn ring (sync Jared “Subway Guy” Fogle), Donnie is shown in English class watching the animated film of Richard Adams’ 1972 cautionary tale Watership Down.

This modern-day allegory focuses on rabbits struggling against tyranny and destruction. It’s as if we are the rabbits, after all. Interestingly, one of the rabbits in the warren, a runt named Fiver, is considered to have ESP and is known as a “seer.” Fiver has a frightening vision of the burrow being destroyed. He does his best to warn the clan so they can find a new home.

In the scene with Donnie in class, Watership Down features Fiver looking through the barbed wire at the field – the field “covered with blood.”

Through the wires, "seer" rabbit Fiver sees the "flood of blood." 

And as I noted in “Under blue moon I saw you,” Fiver, like Donnie Darko or Cassandra in Greek mythology, are “trapped,” knowing that a future event is impending but not being able to do anything about it.

With all of the talk about Robert Zemeckis’s Back to the Future trilogy featuring “clues” about the 9/11 attacks some 16 years after Back to the Future premiered in the summer of 1985 (an "eighty-fiver"). And now, with Zemeckis featuring the Twin Towers in all of their sparkling, 1970’s glory in the upcoming Joseph Gordon-Levitt vehicle The Walk (about French high-wire walker Philippe Petit walking on a wire between the North and South tower of the World Trade Center in 1974).

For more on this, check out my post "Wires." Read it and tell me there isn't something strange going on between 9/11 and syncs with Back to the Future and Donnie Darko (and many other pop-culture touchstones). It's as if they knew what was coming and couldn't do anything about it. 

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About the Author

Andrew W. Griffin

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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