Tuesday, February 05, 2019

the super bowl was all fine

A few rambling, disjointed thoughts on the Super Bowl, of which I didn't do a running diary or really watch all of...

So, the game happened. And it was fine. And that's a hot take, because most of the world has condemned it as the most boring game they've ever seen, and much of those condemners also have shared similar feelings about Maroon 5's performance. 

Both were fine.

Full disclosure, I saw kickoff, a few of the commercials, and then The Lovely Steph Leann asked me the question that puts countries at war, bucks up internal strife, sometimes destroys marriages... "What do you want to eat for dinner?"  The Aunt was here, keeping Campbell, so despite the Super Bowl being on, I told her that we could go out and have dinner.  We ended up at Urban Cookhouse, and it was a win-win because nothing happened while I was gone. When I returned home, Adam Levine was singing something onstage.  I left the Aunt and The Lovely Steph Leann (and the kid) downstairs and came to my room to watch the game streaming on my iPad.

The game itself was a defensive battle... and yeah, it was sort of boring, but that's not the fault of the Patriots or the Rams, that's the fault of our own need for excitement and action.  If everything happened exactly the same, except one team scored a single touchdown in each quarter (1st quarter, 3-3, 2nd quarter Pats 10-3, 3rd quarter tied 10-10, final score 17-10), the complaints would be much quieter, because there would have been some scoring.  But, like me at all four high school proms I attended, the scoring was minimal... which is sort of a bad analogy, because  nothing happened for me at any point of any of my proms.

Four, you ask?  Cindy Howell to my junior and senior proms, and when I was a freshman in college, I went with Brandy S. and Cheryl H to their junior and senior proms, respectively. Add that to four fraternity formals, and I've spent a fortune in tuxedos. 

Back to the game.

It was fine. I didn't have a problem with it, and I was rooting for the Patriots, they won, went to bed.

I know, I know, you probably hate the Patriots, cause they are cheaters and Julian Edelman (the Super Bowl MVP) is on PEDs and blah blah blah. 

Tom Brady is the GOAT. At this point. He's been to 11% of all Super Bowls that have existed, and has won 8% of them. The man has 6 championship rings in what might be the hardest playoff to get through -- its a single elimination tournament. The NBA and MLB are tough too -- you have full on series, which means you may play upwards of 25+ additional games en route to the title, whereas with NFL, you play a max of four... but four brutal games that if you stumble in any of them, no matter how explosive you are (hello Rams), you are out. At least in the NBA and MLB series, you can afford a bad game and still survive.

If you want to pinpoint the worst parts of the game, you have to look at the LA Rams... Jared Goff played horribly, Todd Gurley was inexplicably missing from the action despite being probably the best player on the entire field, the punter got way more playing time than any punter should get in a Super Bowl, and it they just looked overwhelmed by the moment.

And even with that, the low score, the Rams being off kilter, the Pats not blowing up the scoreboard, it was still a game that you weren't sure who was going to win until there was maybe a minute or two left, so there is something to be said for that. I think everyone thought one of the teams, likely the Pats but maybe the Rams, would finally open it up on the 2nd half, or surely the 4th quarter, maybe some offensive explosion where we'd hear Tony Romo say stuff like "47 total points scored in the 4th quarter, a Super Bowl 4th quarter record!" but no, we got none of that.  We got a touchdown.

As far as the halftime show goes, I don't know why any artist would ever accept a Super Bowl gig, especially from here on out.  The gold standard seems to be Prince, but that might be because it was in the last decade or so, and "Prince" is synonymous with "Legend", but I barely remember it. I only remember my friend Paula being all excited because she's a child of the 80s... I remember the Timberlake/Janet Jackson halftime show, for obvious nippy reasons, but I can't recall specifics of nearly any other halftime show... I can't even tell you who performed last year.  When did Lady Gaga perform?  Were the Rolling Stones in there somewhere? 

Maroon 5 came out, they sang, they wore weird outfits, someone named Travis Scott came out and rapped, then Big Boi arrived... Big Boi is the half of OutKast not named Andre 3000, which prompted me to tweet that the NFL should have backed up the Brinks truck to Andre's lap and paid whatever it took to get OutKast together -- I mean, they are in Atlanta for gravy's sake, this is OutKast's hometown. I need some "Mrs Jackson", I am for real.

But nonetheless, what I liked about Maroon 5 was they came out, they sang, they left. No protests, no kneeling, no statements, They did their job, got their check (one that they donated to a children's charity, by the way) and went home. The fear from many was that there would be some sort of statement made in defense of Colin Kaepernick... and let's be clear, I'm firmly of the belief that Kap is a total idiot. And the reasons are several, and none of them include kneeling for the national anthem.  Kap and the supposed blackball of Kap are the reason many artists chose not to perform... which brings me to my earlier question of why anyone would choose to do this. 

We are in a Woke society, where everyone is offended by everything at this point -- even the commercials tried to tiptoe around comedy so as not to make anyone upset or triggered. This morning, I read another article that stated how some professor at some college has studied Mary Poppins and concluded that yes, the movie is racist. Why? Because in one scene Mary has soot on her face... then chooses to add a little more. And that makes it Blackface. You know, not because she's singing and dancing on the rooftops of London with a crew of chimney sweeps.  Blackface. 

So Maroon 5 plays it safe... and still gets roasted. Had they come out and Adam Levine stripped his shirt off (which he did, and there were comparisons to how Janet Jackson got destroyed for showing a nipple, while Adam in his male privilege gets away with it... I read that from one particular SJW chick who I find to be quite the blowhard) and suddenly put on a Kap jersey, or maybe had a quick 10 second musical sequence with a riff from the National Anthem which Adam kneeled -- the left would have gone crazy. Brave! Courageous! He Gets It! And the right would have hated it. 

Dunno what he might have done to have the right cheer while the left demands his resignation, but they played it safe and both sides hated it.  No win situation.

But it was fine. The game was fine, the halftime show was fine.

Okay, okay, I hated all of it.  Will you not unfriend me now?

Friday, February 01, 2019

they shall not grow old

I have to give full credit to my buddy Clay Shaver up in Detroit for really pushing me to watch more documentaries... since I met the guy in 2015 (well, in person... I've known him online since 2013... hashtag Love at AOL) we've discuss many a movie, and many of them have been documentary recommendations from him.

And 2018 was a strong, strong year for documentaries. "Won't You Be My Neighbor" is currently occupying my top spot in my mental list of "Biggest Oscar Snubs", and just as good -- and just as snubbed -- is the Gilda Radner biopic "Love, Gilda". On my agenda to watch in the coming days are "Minding the Gap" and "Three Identical Strangers", both films I've heard rave reviews on.

Image result for we shall not grow old
But I watched something last night that I just had to talk about, a documentary from Peter Jackson (the Lord of the Rings Jackson). He's a World War I buff and a project he's been working on for a while is this documentary. For me, it just kind of came out of nowhere, as I started seeing trailers for it at the end of December, leaving me wanting to see it.

I saw the Thursday night preview, so all following showing may or may not have what I was able to see -- a quick 2 minute intro from Peter Jackson, the hour-forty movie itself, then following the credits, a 25 minute "making of" feature, which is well worth staying for.

Jackson and his team pulled together over 100 hours of film footage and 600+ hours of audio, paring it down into what you see.  The narration of the entire movie is made up of voices of the veterans, each giving one or two lines at a time, sharing their stories. There are at least 120 different voices, so good luck trying to keep track, but the audio goes along with the footage you see on the screen (I doubt you'll much, if any, film of a soldier, with that soldier doing the narration).

Concentrating on the British war experience, the film takes you through the opening stages of the war, all the war propaganda and recruitment, then into the boot camp.  You spend a good chunk of the film in the front line trenches, those huge ditches dug at jagged angles all through the countryside (we are in Belgium for much of this), with the Germans a mere 100 or so yards away.  Bombs constantly going off, the narration voices tell us how they knew if you stood up too tall, or weren't paying attention, you could easily catch a bullet from a sniper.

Who knew that lice was as big a problem as the fear of bombs and bullets? The sanitation in the trench was pretty much zero, as shown by their toilet set up (imagine a pole on brackets, where you sit and take a dump, sitting next to four or five other guys doing the same thing). The rats were everywhere, feasting on scraps the dead bodies, bodies they couldn't do a lot with because they couldn't really risk going outside of the trench very far.

This is a remarkably done scene when you learn the lengths that Jackson's
team went to to figure out what the officer was reading (left). This pic gives
you an idea of the original footage vs the restored/colorized footage.
Remember, this was silent film, so any sounds made were done in this
documentary's production.

There is also a memorizing 15 minute sequence where the narration voices talk about the times when the soldiers would rush the Germans, the hand to hand combat, shooting people at will, even one voice cracking as he tells of shooting a soldier at point blank range, one who was mortally wounded and screaming in pain.

And finally, we see the terrible way the British soldiers were treated when they returned home upon the war ending.  No one would hire them, people were not interested in finding out their stories, they were basically ignored or treated as if they didn't just fight to save the world.

The after-credits feature is also a real gem, showing how Jackson and his team would scan the footage, do close ups to allow for panning, how they made the choice to colorize the film, how they synced up voices with what you see on screen and so many other decisions made to make this film come to life. The soldiers in the movie are never named, their ranks are never identified, its just a inventive and incredible way to show life in a British WWI trench, with pictures taken from 100 year old copies of War Illustrated to show the combat scenes.

Be aware, though it's not over the top, some of it is graphic, mostly through pictures of killed soldiers lying on the battlefield, many of which are missing parts of their heads, their faces, limbs and so on. And one guy's foot is totally jacked up due to gangrene. I mean, really jacked.  Yuck.

I loved this movie, and its sad to me that it's not Oscar eligible... they missed the submission deadline for this year's Academy Award eligibility, and because it's a 2018 film, they won't be eligible for next year's awards either. Which is sad because this was one of the 1 or 2 best documentaries from last year that I've seen, and even though its the 22nd "new to me" movie I've seen in 2019, its the only one that I give a 4-star rating.

It's worth noting that Jackson said he didn't involve historians in this movie because he wanted the veterans to tell the story through their own eyes. "It's a film made by a non-historian, for you, the non-historian"

And it 's worth the time.

And it's worth staying through the credits just for that ending song.