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"The Big Sleep"'s Jonesy drinks the poison, but not before sending Canino in the wrong direction.
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OKLAHOMA CITY – When I was a 12-year-old back in Little Rock, my friend Justin and me were throwing iceballs at cars in his downtown neighborhood. Iceballs because we normally got sleet and not full-fledged snowfall in Arkansas.

Anyway, while nailing cars with iceballs on Broadway, a car actually came after Justin and I. We ran into an alley and when we were cornered and the lady in the car demanded our names, I shouted out “Whitney Jones!” Justin looked over at me and betrayed me by rolling his eyes and loudly saying, “Annndrewwww…”

Anyway, my alias didn’t fly that time. But the name “Whitney Jones” came from combining the names of a boy I knew in school named “Whitney” and a classmate of mine with the last name “Jones.”

Of course Jones is one of the most common surnames in America. One hears it all the time. I heard it today in the car while listening to Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited and the song “Ballad of a Thin Man,” which features the haunting line, “Something is happening / But you don’t know what it is / Do you, Mister Jones?” From what I recall it inspired Counting Crows to write and record their 1994 hit "Mr. Jones."

I learned today that the actress Lauren Bacall – once married to Humphrey Bogart – passed away. She appeared with Bogey in one of my all-time favorite films, the film noir The Big Sleep from 1946, based on the Raymond Chandler novel.

Sharing screen time in The Big Sleep with Bogey, Bacall and others is a character named Harry Jones, played by mid-20th century character actor Elisha Cook, Jr.  In the classic film, Bogart’s detective character Philip Marlowe is tailed by the small-time crook who is trying to blackmail him. Marlowe refers to him as “Jonesy.” Poor, doomed Jonesy is later poisoned and killed by a hitman named Canino. Marlowe actually takes a liking to Jonesy because he has a code of honor, in his own small way. Marlowe respects that.

“Jonesy,” of course, is also the name of Tim DeKay’s character on the 2004-05 HBO series Carnivale, of which I have been obsessed with lately. In my recent Dust Devil Dreams piece “A false sun,” I note a dream I had where a character looking a lot like DeKay’s “Jonesy” is part of a group of misfits trying to put their lives together after some sort of unnamed disaster.

It’s here where I should note that both confusing, Los Angeles-set filmsThe Big Sleep and The Big Lebowski (1998) contain many parallels. Lauren Bacall’s Vivien Rutledge is the film’s “femme fatale” while Julianne Moore’s Maude Lebowski is in a similar role.

And so is the use of a drugged or poisoned drink, as poor Jonesy in The Big Sleep lies to the thug Canino, giving him a wrong address, before he dies. Jeff Bridges’ White Russian-loving “Dude” also succumbs to a “Mickey Finn.”

Sam Elliott’s “Stranger” character notes, after The Dude passes out from the drugged White Russian at smut peddler Jackie Treehorn’s pad: “Darkness washed over the Dude--darker than a black steer's tookus on a moonless prairie night. There was no bottom.”

Fortunately, the Dude survives his brush with "the abyss" as he finds himself wildy running through the streets of a "quiet beach community."

Quite synchromystically, the book on my nightstand at home – one I am enjoying thoroughly – is Bridges’ book with Buddhist Zen master Bernie Glassman in the simply titled The Dude and the Zen Master.  In it, they talk about The Dude’s Zen-like approach to life in The Big Lebowski. The 2012 book The Big Lebowski: An Illustrated History of the Greatest Cult Film of All Time was written by Jenny M. Jones.There's even a new religion called "Dudeism." Oh, and musician/producer Quincy Jones also shared the nickname "The Dude."

Coincidentally, Jeff Bridges was not offered the role of Indiana Jones, which was a role made famous by Harrison Ford.

And earlier today, the Davy Jones-sung Monkees song "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You" was running through my head ...

And with everyone talking about the death of Robin Williams (Bridges and Williams co-star in The Fisher King, of course - lots of "Holy Grail" syncs of late - Terry Jones co-directed Monty Python & The Holy Grail with Terry Gilliam and we recently reviewed Spamalot!), it is interesting to learn from Twilight Language’s Loren Coleman that Williams’ middle name was “McLaurin,” which syncs with Lauren Bacall. 

That also syncs with the city of Laurel in Mississippi which is the county seat of Jones County (named after American Revolution Naval hero John Paul Jones), which, during the latter years of the American Civil War gained the nickname “The Free State of Jones” for its anti-secessionist and anti-slavery views deep in Confederate territory. 

And I would be remiss in noting that one of the best-known sync masters in America is the actor/writer Andras Jones, whose book, Accidental Initiations, I just reviewed here at Red Dirt Report. A great read and he celebrated his birthday just yesterday.

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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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