The List

(Lamaii)

Every few months we publish “The List” for two reasons: 1) to keep a constant update of our research for the next EATING LAS VEGAS The 52 Essential Restaurants edition; and 2) to brag to you, our loyal readers, about how we eat in more restaurants, more often, than anyone in Las Vegas — now or in the history of our humble burg.

This list is a bit incredible, even by our trencherman standards — over 50 places in a little more than two months, many of which we’ve been to more than once. It is one of our biggest blitzes ever, all brought about by an invasion of good taste the likes of which we haven’t seen around here in thirteen years.

I thought 2018 was a watershed year of good restaurants arriving on our shores(?), but from the looks of things, 2019 could top it.

All of it makes for a lot of mastication…all in the service of determining who will be new to our top 52 come this fall…

As usual, all restaurants are randomly listed and come highly recommended unless otherwise noted (an asterisk means I’ve been there more than once recently):

THE LIST

ManzoDon’t call it Carnevino-lite. It’s its own thing (above) and that thing is a world-class Italian steakhouse.

Bajamar Seafood & Tacos – When you need to inhale a little Ensendada.

Soho Japanese Restaurant – Serious south side sushi + amazing omakase.

NoMad*I shall return to NoMad one of these days to see if the service has improved…after I figure out a way to sneak in.

NoMad Bar*That hamburger and that hot dog.

Andiron Steak and SeafoodFun brunch, fun making fun of all those self-impressed Summerlin-ers. “Oh look, honey! They have FRENCH champagne here! I hear it’s good!”

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Other Mama – Can it get any better? (see sashimi above)

Honey SaltHolding its own against an ersatz Italian (North), that’s packed with SUV-driving, vapid Summerlin saps (but I repeat myself) all day long. P.S. I’ve eaten at North too, but I’m too embarrassed to talk about it.

Mabel’s BBQ*I find myself craving Mabel’s ‘cue…and I haven’t craved Vegas ‘cue in a coon’s age.

Mott 32*So much cleavage is on display I’ve taken to calling it Mott 32D. (This is not a bad thing.) Right now, might be the best Chinese in town. Correction: right now it IS the best Chinese restaurant in town.

Lamaii* – Two pre-opening visits have me hungering for more.

The Factory Kitchen* – Been twice, need to get back, love everything about it except the industrial decor. Superb pastas and a winning wine list.

Saga Sandwiches + Pastry – Scandinavian sandwiches in Henderson? Yep, and they’re great. Chef Gert has a tough road to hoe, competing with 3,000 other places to eat on Eastern Ave., but this natty little Norwegian is very very nice.

China Mama* – Praise the lord and pass the xiao long bao! This place has returned to its former glory.

Scotch 80 Prime* Barry Dakake puts out a menu of classics backed up by a whiskey bar par excellence. The decor is also a vast improvement over the previous steakhouse-which-shall-not-be-named.

(Spicy sesame noodles at Fat Choy)

Fat Choy – Congrats to Sheridan Su on his James Beard nomination!

Lawry’s The Prime Rib – The name says it all. Old school in all the best ways. With service that never misses a beat.

BBD’s – Burgers, Beer and Desserts*Best. Burgers. In. Vegas.

Forte Tapas Is back on my radar. Where it hasn’t been in a long time. Maybe it’s the caviar. Maybe it’s because I’m secretly in love with Nina Manchev. ;-)

Spago*It may sound like heresy, but Spago might be a better restaurant now than it was at Caesars Palace. The people watching isn’t as good, but the view is better and the menu is tighter.

Sparrow + WolfBetter than ever.

EATTNew decor now fits the consistently excellent  French food. A neighborhood gem from top to bottom with nicely priced wine, and oh those desserts!

John Mull’s Meats and Road Kill Grill – Never again. You have been warned…even though it doesn’t do any good to warn you because you (the slack-jawed hordes) will still flock here (because Guy Fieri), but the place is terrible.

(Mordeo)
MordeoMay have the best steak off the Strip. They’re aging them right before your eyes and they’re something to behold. The wine list is on its way to becoming a local treasure.

Esther’s Kitchen*I’ve lost count of my meals here, and it’s only been open a little more than a year. The bar, those amaros, Sonia, the pizzas, the sandwiches, Paul, James….it’s pretty much become a semi-private club for me and a few hundred downtown foodies.

Ohlala French BistroAnother place too far from my palatial manse that I wish I visited more often.

Siam Square – New Thai downtown; the food was good, but not good enough to lure me away from Ocha Thai or D E Thai Kitchen.

Aloha Specialties Hawaiians eat so much white food it’s a wonder their bowels ever move. Belly bombs like Kahlua pig and Loco Moco won’t help, either, but they’re damn tasty…as are the bento boxes.

Ferraro’s Italian Restaurant and Wine Bar – There’s not a better off-Strip Italian in town, and very few on-Strip that measure up.

Yui Edomae Sushi1-2 with Kabuto for local sushi superiority.

Wing Lei* I’ve had two meals here recently and three at Mott 32. There’s no denying the beauty of Wing Lei, but the Beijing duck is better at Mott.

Vetri* – Philly’s best is now our best. And oh that view. (Look closely at the pic above – it’s a reflection of me taking a snap out the window.)

Jammyland – Come for the rum, stay for the Jamaican food.

Carson KitchenMay have lost its edge, but can still stun you with an occasional special.

Pop Up PizzaA great, simple pizzeria (serving nothing but slices and garlic knots) in search of a hotel that appreciates it.

PublicUs*Great coffee, wonderful bread, so so food (there, I said it). Those cream cheese scones, though.

Vesta Coffee*My coffee hangout.

Desert Wind Coffee Roasters – My coffee hangout outside my ‘hood.

Them’s a lot to chew on…but does that mean we’re done?

Gird your loins, pilgrim, we’re just getting started:

(Today’s thing that looks like a face)

Delices Gourmands*My go-to for croissants, baguettes, pistachio rolls, and canelés de Bordeaux. (above) There ought to be a line out the door for these baked goods.

DelmonicoStill humming after all these years (20 to be exact). Hasn’t lost a beat, or the best Caesar in the business.

Strip SteakI’d eat at SS once a week if it was easier to get to and didn’t feel like a bus station.

Charlie Palmer Steak Just nibbles at the bar, but they were a cut above.

Le PhoLe ginormous bowls of beef noodle soups are boring to me. But the rest of the menu, and the bánh mí, are not.

(Kanomjeen Namya Pu – yellow curry crab)

D E Thai Kitchen* – Street Thai in a teeny tiny space that I’ve now been to five times in three months. Yes, it’s that good, as you can see above.

Cipriani* – Another place I consistently crave.

New Asian BBQ*Good not great dim sum, a nice additional option when you’re craving a quick lunch on Spring Mountain Road. So full of fellow travelers (Asians) gwailo (you) will feel like a rabbi at an Arkansas pig roast. Which is as it should be.

Ocha Thai – Old-style Thai the polar opposite of teeny tiny DE down the street (large, big menu, booze) but always satisfying, and the house-made sausages alone are worth the trip.

The Goodwich* – I love the sandwiches here but I wish they were on better bread.

La Comida – Doesn’t have the verve or the consistency it once did. Feels like it’s just going through the motions. I fear I have had my last meal here.

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Raku If Raku were located anywhere but Las Vegas, it would be considered the best izakaya in the country.

White Castle – Because even snooty food critics go slumming once in a while.

Shake Shack – Because it’s better than In-N-Out. Don’t argue with me about this.

In-N-Out Burger – I still love my double-double, but the fries do suck.

Del Taco – The Double Del is one of the great, unsung fast food burgers in America. A guilty pleasure.

POTsEgypt goes vegan, and it’s good….if a bit limited. Have owner Iman explain the name. A charming little addition to our food scene.

Nuro Bistro – The Hainanese rice is even better than the chicken, and the chicken is spectacular. You’d better like chicken, though.

Shang Artisan Noodle – Hand-pulled awesomesauce.

La Cantine – Serious sandwiches in the northwest.

(New York Bagel N Bakery)

New York Bagel N Bakery – Some of you may remember the Montesano family who operated a quality Italian deli on Sahara back in the 90s. I don’t know where they went, but they’re back and they’ve given this sad little bakery a serious upgrade. Everything is baked on premises and the bagels kick the ass of whatever you think is good.

I know what you’re thinking: Did he go to 48 restaurants or 54? Well to tell you the truth, in all the excitement, I sorta lost track myself. But being as this is a .44 caliber palate, the most powerful mandibles ever made, and could blow your mealy mouth clean off, you have to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky?

Well, do you, punk?

Wine Tasting/Wine Snobbery

Image result for handmaid's tale wine

“The more you know, the more you know you don’t know.” – Aristotle

The famous 20th Century British wine writer Harry Waugh was once asked, “Have you ever mistaken a Burgundy for a Bordeaux?” “Not since lunch,” was his answer.

POMPOSITY AND PLEBES

Until it was withdrawn from the market as the worst idea since New Coke, the actual label description on the bottle of “The Handmaid’s Tale” wine read: “Completely stripped of her rights and freedom, Offred must rely on the one weapon she has left to stay in control — her feminine wiles. This French Pinot Noir is similarly seductive, its dark berry fruit and cassis aromatics so beguiling it seems almost forbidden to taste. But it’s useless to resist the wine’s smooth and appealingly earthy profile, so you may as well give in.”

And you wonder why people find wine pretentious?

It is pretentious, and at its upper levels, insufferable.

The only thing more pretentious than a person who knows a lot about wine is someone who knows a little.

Just as a little learning can be a dangerous thing, so can a modicum of wine knowledge/vocabulary turn an otherwise likeable person into the world’s biggest buffoon.

Many know this, which is why pricking oenophile pomposity is practically an indoor sport for some writers. It’s the food writing equivalent of shooting fish-faced drunks in a French oak barrel.

The easiest way to pander to the plebes is by knocking wines and wine snobbery.

“Most people prefer cheap wines to expensive ones!” the article blares. “Expensive wine is for suckers!” is always the subtext.

That’s true — in the sense that most people prefer a cheap, fast-food hamburger to a custom-made one, and any Taco Bell outsells my favorite hole-in-the-wall by 100-1 on any given day.

But the more you learn about wine (and tacos, for that matter), the more you come to appreciate the taste of an authentic, small-batch one.

A better example might be music. Everyone knows what they like, and a lot of people like really really shitty music. If all they’re doing is mindlessly enjoying some stupid pop tune, leave them to their ignorance. But once you know something about good music, your tastes expand beyond bubble gum, the enjoyment of what’s being listened to deepens.

Still, there’s no doubt that wine has brought a lot of this opprobrium on itself with its history of pretension, and all the currency it gives to arcane language, one-upmanship, and hi-falutin’ “experts” reciting laundry lists of scents and flavors.

The good news is: things have improved immeasurably over the past two decades. As new sommeliers, wine sellers and writers have entered the field, they’ve brought with them unbridled youthful enthusiasm, unencumbered by the elitist language of the past. Wine sellers (both in and out of restaurants) are eager to have you try new things, not rest on the laurels of the tried-and-true. This makes wine drinking much more fun and accessible to the average consumer.

Wine lists up and down The Strip have also become more diverse, and more consumer-friendly. Over-priced bottles of Cali cabs are still everywhere, but there seems to be a downward trend in pricing, with many new lists at places like Vetri and Cipriani sporting a sizeable number of bottles under a hundy. Not to mention places like Mordeo, EDO, Esther’s Kitchen, Partage and Lamaii — all of which are off-Strip with serious-yet-affordable wine programs. This type of competition wasn’t around a decade ago, and all of us are drinking better for it.

Things have also improved because we baby-boomers (who practically made the California wine industry) are getting too old to waste our time showing off about wine. Or maybe it’s because the interwebs have made buyers keenly aware of the real costs of the product. Nowadays, the new class of consumers (Gen-Xers and Millennials) can immediately scan a bottle (or a list) into a website that instantaneously gives you tasting notes, ratings, and the average retail price.

More informed customers make it harder to pawn off crappy $15 sauv blanc on an unsuspecting rube for $60. Yet another reason why sommeliers now take pride in great, unsung bottles at reasonable prices.

(Mexican wine: dusty and dark, needs food)

THE ABSURDITY OF SPECIFICITY

Yes, learning about wine is hard, but everything worthwhile is difficult when you first try it.

The thing about wine is how much fun the learning curve can be….as opposed to things like golf, needlepoint, or mountain climbing.

But once you climb even a small wine hill, you’ll find that the journey was worth it….even if bottles costing hundreds of dollars rarely are.

So it is with wine. You can drink cheap hooch to get drunk, or you can learn to appreciate the way good wine is made and all the factors that go into it.

The problem is: the people who know these things like to lord it over you like some imperious professor pooh poohing your term paper.

I find the whole “I’m getting peach pits, Meyer lemon zest, wet tobacco, gun-flint, hedgerow fruits and forest floor on the nose” nonsense to be a particular affliction affecting (mainly) insecure American sommeliers and head-up-their-ass wine writers. (This disease can be cured, but it takes years of deprogramming to get them out of their snooty little brains.)

“Hedgerow fruits”? Really?

And while we’re at it, how many people do you know who are familiar with 18th Century musketry?

Europeans, by and large, have a much healthier attitude towards wine. To begin with, they dispense with all the “peach pits, lemon zest, sour green apples” folderol, and use more emotional terms when describing a wine. To a Frenchman (or Englishman or Italian), wines may be feminine or masculine. Big and bold or soft and pleasant.

Aromatics might be “earthy” or “spicy” but no laundry list is necessary beyond that. Wine to them is an expression of fruit, and they generally avoid “blackcurrants, blackberries, ripe cherries, spearmint and cocoa powder” conversations…except when they’re talking to Americans.

I hear less lengthy recitals these days, and many more to-the-point descriptors like “grape-y,” “earthy,” “juicy,’ or “dense,” The whole point of those extravagant “smells like” recitations were always more for the professional tasters anyway, not for amateur enthusiasts. A wine tastes like itself, no matter what else it may resemble. Who gives a shit if you detect “hints of new mown hay,” “baking spices” (?), or “dessicated underbrush”?

Using a bunch of hyper-specific identifiers to describe a wine is like trying to describe a finished dish by listing the recipe ingredients.

All those descriptions are just metaphors. You might sense a whiff of strawberries, I might say “red fruits.” No one on earth really knows the difference between “dusty strawberries,” “wild strawberries,” and just plain “strawberries,” but that doesn’t keep those terms from being applied all the time….mainly to impress the listener (and the speaker with themselves).

So forget all that malarkey, and while you’re at it,  throw your tasting wheel in the trash.

Image result for wine tasting wheel

TASTING NOTATIONS

What I like to do is suggest to novice wine drinkers is that they develop their own vocabulary. Look for things you like in wine (like the fresh fruitiness of Gamay Beaujolais, for example), and use that as a benchmark to evaluate other reds. You’ll soon find that Cabernet Sauvignon has a muscularity that Gamay can’t match, and that those two wines hit the palate in a whole different (and darker) way than Pinot Noir does.

Once you learn a little about wine, drinking it becomes a lot more fun. Even if all you know is the difference between an oaked v. un-oaked Chardonnay, once you can make the distinction, your enjoyment is enhanced in the same way it is if an art historian explains Degas v. Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec to you.

Keep certain things in mind:

  1. Wine tasting is the opposite of drinking wine.
  2. Drinking wine is about overall aromatic impact; tasting wine is about breaking down its components.
  3. Wine has a greater variety of styles than any other agricultural product.
  4. All you’re looking to do is decode a few essential elements of the wine.
  5. There is no right or wrong, there is only the tastes and aromas you are experiencing. The fact that you can’t immediately put a label on those sensations is of no consequence.
  6. Tasting wine is about sharpening your senses, and about finding words that convey the heightened information you are receiving
  7. It is perfectly possible to enjoy all wine – from the cheapest swill to the rarest bottles – without knowing or caring how to describe the sensations you experience.
  8. There are no right answers, and no matter how good you get, you will get things wrong. All. The. Time. (See Harry Waugh quote above.)
(The Wine Snob: hard at work at Bottega del Vino in Verona, Italy)

HOW I TASTE

Rather than tell you how to taste, I’ll tell you what I do. I’m no wine expert, even though I write about it, and have been reading, studying and drinking wine seriously for forty years. The experts are the wine makers and the professional tasters. To equate my talents with a sport: If wine tasting/appreciation were golf, I’d carry a low handicap, but there’s no way I could compete at the Masters.

First, look at the color – Bright? Dull? Sparkly? Dark red? Deeply colored, like blackberry juice? Squid ink? Or lighter, like raspberries? Some white wines are as yellow as the sun; others can resemble a crystal clear mountain stream. German Rieslings almost appear grey in the glass sometimes, Chablis gives hints of green.  Color isn’t something you can taste, but the range of hues of red, white and pink wines are so vivid, and so beautiful, you should never ignore them.

Then, swirl and stick that schnoz of yours deep into the glass – exception: sparkling wines – never swirl a bubbler.

(Remember: when you’re tasting wine, what you’re really doing is smelling it. Mouthfeel, bitterness, sweetness, grip on the side of your mouth (tannins) all play a role, but the nuances of grapes come through much more in their bouquet than in how they lie on your tongue. The previous sentence can be true, or completely false. Some wines taste like they smell, and some do not. Others emit wonderful aromas and go flat in the mouth. Like I said, there are no hard and fast rules, just individual sensations.)

Finally, take a small sip and hold it in your mouth and breath through your nose whilst sucking in a little air through your pursed lips.

Think to yourself: Is it strong? Weak? Intense? Flabby? Does it linger in the mouth? Pucker your tongue (that tannin thing again)? Does the flavor remain all the way to the back of your tongue? Or does it disappear quickly? A great Chardonnay (e.g., cru Burgundies) have a finish that lasts until next Tuesday. Great Rieslings literally sparkle on your tongue from their face-slapping acidity.

Don’t search for highly particular descriptive similes! Just think about what is pleasant or not so about it. Does it remind you a fruit pie? Of licking a wet rock? Do you like its sweetness? Is it too tart? (You may not like it at all. Wine is, in essence, spoiled, soured grape juice — preserved through fermentation — and not everyone’s cup of tea.)

Is there something unappealing about it? This may or may not be a flaw. I love German and Alsatian Rieslings, but they can give off strong whiffs of petrol or kerosene. Cabernet Franc can smell like green bell pepper? Some folks like New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs and their cat pee aromas: I find them ridiculous. Some Central Coast Pinot Noirs give off a slightly smokey nose. I love them; my wife (the long-suffering Food Gal®), does not.

Now comes the fun part, the most important part: Does your first sip make you want to keep drinking it? The priciest wine in the world isn’t worth it if you don’t want to have another glass. Some white wines have fruit so elusive you’d think the winemaker infused his water with iron ore. (These are some of the most expensive ones, BTW.) Huge Cali cabs can wear your palate out after a few sips. It’s all very personal. Go with your gut….or actually, your mouth.

Compare, compare, compare. Grab a glass of Central Coast chard, then make your next one a Chablis. Tasting them side by side will teach you a lot, even if you know nothing about how the wines are made.

Think about what you’re drinking. Is it in balance? Do fruit, bitterness, acid all knit together into a seamless whole? Or does one of these predominate?

The point is: Don’t try to dissect it; just try to identify what you like (or don’t like) about it.

TWO ESSENTIAL WINE WORDS

Use either of these the next time you want to watch the room empty after you take a sip of wine:

Organoleptic – aka “mouthfeel” – as in, “The organoleptics of this 1976 Fritz Blitzkreigmeinkampf Guttenjingleheimerschmitdtz Trockenbeerenauselese do not match those of the Layer Cake chard I polished off last night.”

Sapidity: defined in the dictionary as deliciousness, but used by (mostly Italian, some Spanish) winemakers to denote certain saline-mineral notes in a wine, such as, “Only a sap wouldn’t notice that the sapidity of this wine resembles licking an oyster shell dipped in potato chips.”

Finally, try to ignore the  super-annoying voice of the narrator and you’ll find some useful information in this video:

 

The Greatest Guy Movies of All Time

Image result for Woody Strode spartacus

“You’re a pretty good guy, for a girl.” – Robert Mitchum in Angel Face

The Guy Movie is an endangered species.

I trace the beginning of the end to Sharon Stone, Uma Thurman, and Sigourney Weaver. At least the latter two were tall, as is Charlize Theron, who looks like she could kick my ass, but I digress.

From there, it was a slippery slope to Meg Ryan as a Medal of Honor military pilot, and jeebus frackin’ christie, 5′ 3″ Scarlett Johansson as a trained killer.

About the same time came a passel of minuscule Chinese actresses, who could beat up anybody (on the ground or in the air) with their fancy karate moves, and various photographic trickery. All this let to Rhonda Rousey — who is at least trained as a fighter (at 130 pounds) — but who is to acting what Meryl Streep is to kickboxing.

Now, all the girls want in on the action: Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Fucking Beckinsale? Zoe Saldana? All of them playing 120 lb. waifs who have no trouble disabling five NFL linebackers with nothing but their fists.

Someone in Hollywood apparently decided a decade ago that we have to sell young women on the idea of being “fierce.”

Girls can do anything guys can do, the thinking goes (no, they can’t), so we have to give them protagonists who are just like them, but who can jump off buildings, mow down trained marksmen with single-shot pistols, and knock out a cadre of highly-trained assassins with their size 4 frames, small hands and tiny feet.

I have nothing against Scarlett…or her Johanssons, but enough is enough.

This is Title VII run amok. Equality is one thing, but unreality is a crime against nature.

Then again, selling Alan Ladd as a tough guy was a stretch, too.

I say it’s high time to bring back the guy movie — where men are men, and women are….nonexistent.

Yes, the guy movie: those tales of yore where groups of men (or a lone wolf) battle evil in all its forms using nothing but their ham-handed fists, guns of all sorts, and an unwavering belief that women exist mainly (if at all) as props.

There are strict rules to be observed when making a guy movie, rules that are now honored in the breach, or, even worse, by having Angelina Jolie in them.

Here are the rules of what makes a great guy movie, and like men, they’re pretty fucking simple:

  1. No weddings
  2. No romantic sub-plots
  3. Sweat, lots of it
  4. Large caliber firearms being used willy nilly
  5. Sadism
  6. Evil bad guys with foreign accents (preferably, Mexican)
  7. No character development
  8. No more than 10 minutes of screen time must pass without someone getting killed
  9. Gladiators (no Mexicans allowed)
  10. Lee Van Cleef

Instead of these cardinal rules, we now have Unlocked, where Noomi Rapace (who looks like she could fit in my briefcase), mows down terrorists and breaks bones of men three times her size.

Women should be celebrated for their femininity, their softness and their ability to make me a proper meatloaf.

There, I said it.

THE GREATEST GUY MOVIES OF ALL TIME

Roadhouse – two men, seemingly with the only two houses in town, fight it out over who controls a honky tonk bar. Major points deduction for having a romantic sub-plot, but any movie that ends with an evil henchman’s throat being torn out — by someone with a PhD in philosophy (from New York University!) — to the twangy, melodic strains of the Jeff Healey Band, deserves a place in the pantheon.

The Original Davy Crockett Series on Disney – no women, no back story, no character development, jest full-growed Davy and Georgie rasslin’ bars, shootin’ injuns, and makin’ Texas safe fer slavery.

Once Upon a Time in the West – the only female character is a good-natured whore who exists solely as an excuse for men to have a series of gunfights…which is as it should be.

The Godfather Parts I and II – has there ever been a greater movie where women were less elemental to the plot? According to the tenets of this film: women exist, 1) to make brooding men dinner in sepia-toned rooms, 2) to make you feel guilty for killing a bunch of thugs out to do the same to you, or 3) at the end of Sonny Corleone’s dick. Or, as we like to call it: Tuesday in Little Italy.

Cool Hand Luke – when the only female in the movie is depicted by her two, wet and sudsy breasts, you know you’re in guy movie heaven.

The Alamo – superb, high body count action, whether you’re watching über-manly John Wayne, or the way-less-manly Billy Bob Thornton 2004 (more accurate) version of 1836 masculine futility.

The Longest Day – when mowing down Germans was considered about the manliest thing you could do on film.

Lonesome Dove – made for TV, but still eight hours of manly man bliss. The only thing that could make LD any better would be if it had Sam Elliot in it.

Dirty Harry – would be considered quintessential but for Clint’s “The Bridges of Madison County” – a guy movie transgression from which his reputation is still trying to recover.

Any movie with Robert Mitchum or Lee Marvin in it.

A Fistful of Dollars/For a Few Dollars More/The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – they’re really just one seven hour movie-going experience of guy-movie heaven. Highlight: Clint mowing down 4….no 5 bad guys for making fun of his donkey. That, and he and Van Cleef blowing each other’s hat off with their pistols for about ten minutes.

El Mariachi – the greatest, cheapest guy movie of all time. All he wants to do is play his guitar…but what he ends up doing is killing everyone but the cameraman and the key grip.

Platoon – lots of manliness on display here in a futile cause: trying to make Charlie Sheen and Kevin Dillon look like soldiers.

The Professionals – there are two women in this movie who have something to do other than sexually service men. Thankfully, one of them gets (deservedly) shot to death in a dusty canyon and the other is Claudia Cardinale.

Red River – the homo-eroticism sub-text is strong with this one, but The Duke, John Ireland and Walter Brennan yank it back to testosterone territory whenever Monty Clift threatens to sink the plot as the skinniest, sappiest, non-macho gunfighter since Don Knotts.

Yojimbo/Throne of Blood/Seven Samurai – watching Toshiro Mifune and various Japanese actors grunt and groan their way through sword fights almost makes up for having no idea what they’re arguing about.

The Magnificent Seven – sort of the gold standard in these things. Heroism for its own sake, Mexicans both good and bad. Almost perfect but for nancy boy Horst Bucholz trying to woo a fair maiden.

Spartacus – yes, there’s an actual love story involved, but Woody Strode with a trident (see pic at top of page) compensates for it .

The Wild Bunch –  evil Mexicans so stereotypical they make the Frito Bandito look like Hamlet. Throw in dust, sweat, larceny, whores, tequila and machine guns and who needs a plot?

The Dirty Dozen – what red-blooded American male can’t watch Jim Brown sprinting through a German parking lot and throwing hand grenades down a bunch of air shafts without a tear coming to his eye?

Predator – next to sweaty, slimy makes the best guy movies, and this one has plenty of both.

Master and Commander, the Far Side of the World – try to ignore that it’s about the English navy, and that it features Russell Crowe pretending to play a violin (typical for sissy Brits, no doubt), and focus on the sweaty seamanship, cannon fire, and the delight of watching a 13 year old midshipman’s arm being amputated.

Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels makes the cut even though it was directed by some pantywaist Englishman.

Reservoir Dogs a movie with no discernible point, other than bloodshed, i.e., the perfect guy movie.

Hard Times Bronson at his best.

No doubt I’ve missed a few, but these give you a good example of what cinema is missing these days.

What it’s also missing is great music. A lot of these pictures had iconic scores that people still remember, 60 years on. When’s the last time you hummed a tune from a movie score.

I rest my case.

Are you not entertained?