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Allen Adams

Allen Adams

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I’m a sucker for sports history. It doesn’t even really matter the sport – I generally lean toward the Big Four, but honestly, any discussion of the athletic past will work. I have my sporting foci – baseball and football foremost among them – but as a general fan, I can derive joy from coverage of just about any athletic endeavor.

The moral to the story is simple: With the right pairing of subject matter and author, a work of sports nonfiction can really sing.

Longtime Boston sports journalist Leigh Montville is one of the best to ever do the gig, with a decades-long body of work covering some of the most iconic moments in American sports. His latest book is “Tall Men, Short Shorts – The 1969 NBA Finals: Wilt, Russ, Lakers, Celtics, and a Very Young Sports Reporter” (Doubleday, $29), a look back at the series that would ultimately mark the ending of the lengthy Celtics NBA dynasty of the 1950s and 1960s. A series that saw a certain bright young man – just 24 years of age and setting out on what would become an iconic career as an ink-stained wretch – crisscrossing the country as part of the now-legendary NBA Finals matchup between the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers in 1969.

It’s also a wonderful bit of autobiographical writing, a reflection on the beginnings of a storied career. Those moments of memory and memoir are what elevate this book from what would be a perfectly adequate work of sports history into something more, a wry look back from someone who understands that the person he once was had a lot to learn.

Every once in a while, a book will come along that makes you stop and say to yourself: “Now THAT is a GREAT f—ing idea.”

That was my immediate reaction to a brief synopsis I read for “The Final Girl Support Group” (Berkley, $26), the latest novel by the delightful genre-bending horror author Grady Hendrix. From those few sentences that laid out the concept for me, I knew that this was going to be a book that I not only liked, not only loved, but made me the tiniest bit jealous that I hadn’t come up with the idea myself.

It is a smart, self-aware narrative, one that does one of the cleanest jobs you’ll ever see in combining subversion of and affinity for the tropes of a genre. It embraces some of the basest impulses of the horror world and turns them on their head by endowing them with verisimilitude. It looks beyond the stories we’ve always seen, and by doing so uncovers a much deeper – and in some ways scarier – tale to be told.

To wit: When the credits roll in a horror movie, what happens to the one who lives?

While we will always appreciate the opportunities that this space affords us to make light of the misdeeds and misadventures of the many famous folks out there, we also appreciate the occasional chance to address something a little bit different. It’s not that we get tired of scorning and mocking them – that will NEVER happen – but every once in a while, it’s nice to stretch those muscles in an unusual way.

To that end, this week’s feature is going to involve us taking a look at a different kind of dumbassery – the kind committed by the largely faceless entities who ultimately decide just which of our favorite celebrities we get to see, as well as how we get to see them.

For nearly two years, Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey have been co-hosting the “Office Ladies Podcast,” wherein the two former co-stars (on “The Office,” natch) and current best friends take to the podwaves once a week and break down an episode of their past fictional workplace adventures. It’s a generally delightful listen for anyone who is a fan of the show (which, judging by the streaming numbers that thing is still doing, some of you reading this almost certainly are).

However, it was a comment about an altogether different sitcom that we’re going to discuss here.

See, in the course of the conversation, Fischer, who played Pam Beesley on “The Office,” told a story about how she lost a job opposite Matt LeBlanc – best known as Joey Tribbiani on the classic “Friends” – on the CBS show “Man With a Plan,” which aired for four seasons before its recent cancellation.

Apparently, it boiled down to this: Pam would NEVER marry Joey.

Tuesday, 20 July 2021 11:16

Weird National Briefs (07/21/2021)

Rooftop reptile

DAYTONA BEACH SHORES, Fla. (AP) — A Florida man told police officers he was “teaching it a lesson” when he tried to throw a live alligator he had stolen from a miniature golf course onto the roof of a beachside cocktail lounge, authorities said.

The 32-year-old man was arrested early Thursday when Daytona Beach Shores police officers spotted him attempting to throw the gator onto the roof of a cocktail lounge located just off Highway A1A, according to a police report.

The officers then saw the man take the alligator by its tail, hit it against the awning of the building, throw it to the ground and stomp on it twice, the report said.

The man from Homestead, Florida was taken into custody and charged with possession and injury of an alligator, unarmed burglary of an occupied dwelling, theft and criminal mischief.

The man told officers that he had stolen the gator from an enclosure at a nearby miniature golf course.

An online court docket showed no attorney for the man, who remained in jail Friday morning.

TME – He better have said “See you later!” on the release, or else what’s even the point?

BREWER – One of the region’s most beloved summertime cultural traditions is back in action in Brewer. Or should I say – the Forest of Arden.

Ten Bucks Theatre Company is presenting its annual Shakespeare Under the Stars production. This year’s offering is the pastoral comedy “As You Like It.” The show runs July 22-25 at Brewer’s Indian Trail Park, followed by a final weekend – July 29-Aug. 1 – at Fort Knox in Prospect. All performances start at 6 p.m.; tickets are $15 and available at www.tenbuckstheatre.org.

It’s a story of palace intrigue, love, family ties and the many ways in which country life and court life differ – as well as a few in which they are very much the same.

The constant churn of Netflix, forever turning out project after project, is such that one can never be sure of the quality (or lack thereof) of a given movie. It also means that it can be very difficult to know exactly what one is getting into when they sit down to watch. That said, the churn also results in a wide array of different sorts of movies, running the genre gamut and offering unique opportunities.

“Gunpowder Milkshake” currently streaming on the service, is just such a unique opportunity. The film, directed by Navot Pushapado from a script he co-wrote with Ehud Laveski, is a stylized pastiche of a movie, riddled with homages to an assortment of action and action-adjacent offerings that came before. Some of those nods are overt – the influence of the “John Wick” franchise is all over this movie – while others are a bit more subtle (though that’s likely the last time you’re going to hear anyone use the word “subtle” in reference to this film.

It’s part action thriller, part mother-daughter drama, rife with high-octane set pieces interspersed with moments of fraught emotion. Driven by an exceptional cast and an over-the-top aesthetic, it’s a film whose strengths far outstrip its flaws, resulting in a lurid and loony good time at the movies.

The great internet arbiter Judge John Hodgman has a saying: “Nostalgia is a toxic impulse.” While I don’t necessarily fully agree with that sentiment – I think there can be real value in reengaging with aspects of our past that we remember fondly – I also acknowledge that the tendency to get lost in our own personal pop culture ephemera-strewn memory palaces can result in some dark turns.

All this is to say that while I understand why “Space Jam: A New Legacy” was made and the thoughts and desires that led to that outcome, enabling the nostalgic impulse without any critical regard to the reasons behind the memory can result in something hollow and ultimately unsatisfactory.

As a late Gen-Xer, I’m a hair too old to have the same fondness for 1996’s “Space Jam” that many millennials carry. However, I do still carry a soft spot for the film – I mean, Michael Jordan, the Looney Tunes and a pre-folk hero Bill Murray? What’s not to like?

That said, the sequel – this one starring LeBron James – fails to achieve even the modicum of loose charm that surrounded the original, exchanging the winking self-awareness and quirkiness of the original for a seemingly unending cavalcade of product placement and self-celebratory IP exploitation.

Directed by Malcolm D. Lee (who replaced original director Terrence Nance a few weeks into filming) from a screenplay with no less than six credited writers, “Space Jam: A New Legacy” is the unfortunate result when you attempt to recreate something whose appeal you don’t fully understand; there’s a goofball kitschiness to the original film that is lost here, the lunacy (sorry – “Loon-acy”) replaced by an overstuffed commitment to the idea that instead of using references to make jokes, the jokes ARE the references.

There’s something almost sad about watching a film’s ending set the table for a sequel that – if what you’ve just watched is any indication – almost certainly won’t wind up happening. You’ve sat through the 100ish minutes and are left to sympathize with the sure-to-be-dashed sequel dreams of the filmmakers before ultimately walking away and promptly forgetting about it.

However, “almost certainly” is not “certainly.” Know how I know? Because “Escape Room: Tournament of Champions” exists.

This sequel was transparently set up by the ending of 2019’s “Escape Room” (to the ultimate detriment of that film, to be honest); while the first installment didn’t really earn this continuation via quality, it was relatively successful at the box office – and money talks.

Director Adam Robitel is back for round two, as are a couple of the first film’s stars. But really, they could have simply brought everybody back and taken another go, because it’s largely more of the same.

An unnecessary sequel – fine. I get the desire to return to that well. However, if you’re going to make a sequel to a movie that itself was underwhelming, perhaps the right move is to make that sequel … better? Or at least different? Instead, this is basically a rehash; they’ve turned the dial up a little, but otherwise, it’s more of the same.

Ready or not, the Summer Olympics are finally coming!

Still branded as the 2020 Games, the 29th installment of the summer athletic spectacle is set to begin this weekend in Tokyo after being postponed from last year due to the circumstances of the pandemic. As to whether or not the Games SHOULD be going forward, well … that’s a complicated question. But, from where we sit as I write this introduction, mere days before the opening ceremonies, it certainly seems that they are going forward.

Now, as someone who is a fairly well-informed general sports fan, I possess a certain degree of Olympic awareness – more than most, I’d wager. However, that awareness is hardly enough for me to be able to give you any sort of reasoned analysis about the Games. I certainly won’t be able to give you an accurate prediction with regard to who might medal.

So I thought instead, why not share a collection of fun tidbits and trivia about assorted Olympic sports as a way to look forward to the next couple of weeks of athletic excellence? There’s stuff here from the distant and not-so-distant past, as well as some talk about what’s happening this time around.

I also dug around and found a few Maine connections to the Summer Games – there aren’t quite as many as we find in the Winter edition, for obvious reasons, but you might be surprised at some of the fun connections to the Pine Tree State.

And really, while this is the culmination of a lifetime for these competitors, for us – the people at home – the fun is what it’s all about.

Wednesday, 14 July 2021 11:50

Meet the new guys: Boston’s 2021 draft

I’ll be honest – I don’t generally spend a lot of time thinking about the MLB Draft.

It’s the nature of the sport, really – whereas top NFL and NBA picks become immediate contributors to the team that selects them, baseball players often spend years in the minor leagues before reaching the point where they can make an impact.

However, by moving the draft to the All-Star break, it gives those of us who might not otherwise engage a chance to take a closer look at the moves being made by our favorite team or teams.

And so, I thought I’d take a few minutes to introduce you – and myself – to the top 10 picks of the Boston Red Sox in the 2021 MLB Draft.

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