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Allen Adams

Allen Adams

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Tuesday, 01 December 2020 14:22

Celebrity Slam - Ebb and Flowbee

Celebrities – they’re just like us!

Now, we all know that that statement simply isn’t true. Celebrities are, for the most part, nothing like us. They live in insulated bubbles that are specifically curated to not allow for any pushback against their weird or unpleasant behaviors. Most are driven by outsized egos and entitlement, and while there are plenty of regular folks out there motivated by the same forces, they don’t have armies of paid enablers whose sole job is to allow them to continue down the primrose path of complete and utter self-involvement.

Of course, we occasionally get celebs who go out of their way to try and prove that they’re regular people. Usually, this comes off as pandering and/or condescending, an effort for the famous figure in question to lower themselves to the level of the great unwashed.

Sometimes, though, one of them says something so ridiculous on its face that you actually find yourself considering the possibility that they’ve said something true.

This brings us to George Clooney.

Tuesday, 01 December 2020 14:21

Weird National Briefs (12/02/2020)

Monolith madness

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A mysterious silver monolith that was placed in the Utah desert has disappeared less than 10 days after it was spotted by wildlife biologists performing a helicopter survey of bighorn sheep, federal officials and witnesses said.

“We have received credible reports that the illegally installed structure, referred to as the ‘monolith’ has been removed from Bureau of Land Management public lands by an unknown party,” on Nov. 27, BLM spokesperson Kimberly Finch said in a statement. The agency did not remove the structure, she said.

The Utah Department of Public Safety said biologists spotted the monolith on Nov. 18, a report that garnered international attention. It was about 11 feet (3.4 meters) tall with sides that appeared to be made of stainless steel.

While Utah officials did not say specifically where the monolith was located, people soon found it on satellite images dating back to 2016 and determined its GPS coordinates, prompting people to hike into the area.

Reporters with The Salt Lake Tribune hiked to the spot on Saturday and confirmed that it was gone.

Spencer Owen of Salt Lake City said he saw the monolith Friday afternoon and camped in the region overnight, but as he hiked to the area again on Saturday people passing him on the trail warned him it was gone, the Tribune reported. When he arrived at the spot, all that was left was a triangular piece of metal covering a triangular-shaped hole in the rocks.

“I was really bummed,” said Owen, who posted a video on his Instagram. “It was so pretty and shiny. I wanted to go see it again.”

Riccardo Marino and his girlfriend Sierra Van Meter were traveling from Colorado to California on Friday and decided to stop and see the object after finding the GPS coordinates online.

“This was just a once-in-a-lifetime experience that we couldn’t miss out,” Marino told KUTV.

On the way, they passed a long-bed truck with a large object in the back and he said he joked “oh look, there’s the Utah monolith right there,” he said.

When they arrived at the spot, it was gone.

TME – Nothing weird about this – carry on.

Tuesday, 01 December 2020 14:18

Ball don’t lie – ‘The Big Three’

Winning an NBA championship is hard; the road to a title demands a lot of the players on the floor. But one could argue that assembling a championship squad is even harder, a delicate dance involving winning trades, quality drafting, good signings … and more than a little luck.

Michael Holley’s “The Big Three: Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and the Rebirth of the Boston Celtics” (Hachette, $28) tells the story of one such squad and the titanic trio that operated at its center. It’s an in-depth look at how the 2008 Celtics championship squad was assembled, from the 2003 purchase of the Celtics by a new ownership group to the hiring of Danny Ainge as general manager to the acquisition of Garnett and Allen to the eventual breaking up of the band to move the franchise forward.

It’s a remarkably well-reported book, a detailed exploration of the many ups and downs that came along with trying to assemble this sort of next-level team. Through conversations and archival research, Holley crafts a portrait that focuses on the people involved as opposed to the numbers, a fine juxtaposition to Ainge’s ongoing insistence on refusing to allow the personal to interfere with his plan.

Tuesday, 01 December 2020 14:15

Pro Football Hall of Fame names semifinalists

The Pro Football Hall of Fame has announced the 25 semifinalists for its Class of 2021.

The list – reduced from 130 nominees announced in September – will be further winnowed down to 15 finalists (note: this number will actually increase to 18 following the inclusion of the recommended nominees from the Coach, Contributor and Senior Committees) before the class is ultimately determined and announced during Super Bowl Week in Tampa.

There is no set number of inductees for any class, but the Hall’s bylaws state that there will be anywhere from four to eight enshrines.

It’s an impressive list of players – no surprise there – that includes at least one slam-dunk first-time nominee and a couple of other incredibly impressive first-year picks, all of whom will almost certainly make the list of finalists at the very least.

Let’s look at those first-time eligible names, shall we?

Nearly half-a-century ago, an event took place that has captivated and confounded people ever since. Something so outlandish, so unbelievable, so inscrutable that it can’t help but be fascinating even now, almost 50 years since it happened.

All I have to say is a name: D.B. Cooper. If you know, you know. If you don’t, well – he’s the man who, back in 1971, executed what remains the only unsolved skyjacking in the history of American aviation. He leapt into the night carrying $200,000 dollars, the plane in the skies over Washington state … and was never seen again.

“The Mystery of D.B. Cooper” – written and directed by John Dower – is a documentary that offers its viewers a potential solution to its titular question. Or rather – four solutions. Dower’s film features four primary subjects, each of whom shares the unshakeable belief that they know who D.B. Cooper was.

And they have four different answers.

One of the things that I’ve learned from being part of the larger critical discourse surrounding movies is that I generally align with the consensus view of my peers. That’s not to say I’m in lockstep with the crowd – we all have our differences – but a lot of the time, we’re in the same neighborhood.

Not always, though.

Take the new Netflix film “Hillbilly Elegy,” directed by Ron Howard from a script by Vanessa Taylor adapted from J.D. Vance’s 2016 memoir of the same name. This story of a young man’s connection to his Kentucky roots and how those roots impact his current circumstances as a student at Yale Law School has been largely panned by critics, with many viewing it as a transparent awards grab lacking in soul and substance.

I respectfully disagree.

I’m not calling this a perfect movie by any stretch – it has its share of issues to be sure. But it is a much better movie than it has been deemed by critics, a story of poverty and its generational impacts that at least tries to address the emotional, social and economic realities that come from being poor. It isn’t always successful, but even the misplaced efforts merit a degree of credit.

There are few tighter bindings than family ties. No matter how we might try to escape them, no matter how we might want and need to separate ourselves from them, for so many of us, they are unavoidable. But while these ties are ostensibly spun from love, there’s an undeniable toxicity inherent to many of them.

“Uncle Frank,” the new film from writer/director Alan Ball, offers an illustration of how deeply those toxic waters can flow, even as those who seek to escape prove unable to extract themselves from the unrelenting riptide of familial dynamics; it shows just how much of ourselves we’re willing to hide in order to find some sort of connection with the ones who raised us.

With a titular character living a double life – closeted with his South Carolina kin, out and proud in New York City – we see what happens when the oft-avoided cultural clash between those two worlds is no longer so easily dismissed, as well as when a naïve young member of the family inadvertently discovers the truth about her beloved uncle. It’s about small-town social mores in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, a snapshot of what it means to be true to yourself – including the consequences.

Monday, 30 November 2020 14:47

‘Superintelligence’ not too bright

Creative collaborations between couples can be a wonderful thing. Two people taking advantage of their personal connection to enhance their creative work has vast potential. We’ve seen it a million times at the movies – think Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach or Helena Bonham Carter and Tim Burton, with one member of the pairing in front of the camera and the other behind.

Melissa McCarthy and Ben Falcone have this sort of collaborative relationship. Their latest team-up – their fourth with McCarthy starring and Falcone directing – is “Superintelligence,” currently streaming on HBO Max. However, this particular pairing, while robust in quantity, doesn’t quite live up to some of the others as far as quality is concerned.

This new film, the story of a newly self-aware AI deciding to use the most average person in the world to determine the ultimate fate of humanity, is a fairly lukewarm effort. The characterizations are thin and the story is needlessly convoluted, and while there are a handful of decent jokes and moments of physical comedy, the majority of the humor is built on a rickety foundation of pop culture references and overlong bits. McCarthy’s charm keeps it from completely collapsing, but her talents aren’t enough to fully salvage the experience.

Monday, 30 November 2020 14:46

Turn the page: 2020’s recommended reads

Despite everything that we’ve been through this year, it hasn’t stopped the literary machine from continuing to churn; we’ve seen many tremendous literary offerings hitting shelves in 2020.

Reviewing books is one of the best parts of my job. As part of that job, I’ve read dozens of books over the course of the past year. I freely admit that I tend to seek out works that I know will resonate for me – and hence usually enjoy the books I review – but even with that degree of curation, there’s no denying that there are always some that particularly stand out.

This is not your traditional “best of” list – not my style. Instead, consider this a collection of recommendations. These are suggestions; I enjoyed them, so I thought that you might as well. I’ve also included selections from my writings about these books (please note that the full reviews are available on our website). Bear in mind that this is not a comprehensive list – there are scores more books out there, exceptional works that I simply never got a chance to read.

I’m not arrogant enough to call these the best books of the year – it’s all subjective and this is just one man’s opinion. What I can say is that every one of these works captured my imagination and my attention … and perhaps one or more of them will do the same for you.

And now, without further ado, here are my recommended reads from 2020.

Wednesday, 25 November 2020 23:42

Kibbles and Picks 2020 - Week 12

Well … at least I didn’t LOSE any ground.

Week 11 was not kind to us here at Kibbles and Picks – Stella and I both stumbled to mediocre 7-7 records. Obviously, not out best work. This means that Stella’s season lead remains a robust six games.

Conveniently enough, six is also the number of games on which we differ this week – a number that includes both games on Thanksgiving day. It’s enough for me to completely erase that lead. It’s also enough for Stella to put me in a nigh-inescapable hole. More likely – another 3-3; that seems to be how things are going. But hey – we’ll see how it goes.

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