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Allen Adams

Allen Adams

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Wednesday, 03 February 2021 13:45

Celebrity Slam - To Screech their own

Anyone who follows Celebrity Slam with regularity knows that there are a few things that we particularly enjoy. We love Twitter beef – particularly when the beefers don’t necessarily make sense together. We love celebrity coupling and uncoupling, so that we can make up fancy portmanteaux and then deconstruct them. And we love a good old-fashioned “Don’t you know who I am?”

But we also like to occasionally use this space to pay tribute to those who have left us – particularly if it is someone at whose expense we’ve had some fun over the years.

Dustin Diamond – best known as Screech from the Saturday morning classic “Saved By the Bell” – passed away this week at the age of 44 following a brief stint in the hospital. The actor’s representatives announced just a couple of weeks ago that Diamond had been dealing with cancer.

Wednesday, 03 February 2021 13:44

Weird National Briefs (02/03/2021)

On the air

BERLIN (AP) — A man has been arrested in Berlin on allegations he made radio contact with air traffic, including police helicopters, and gave fake flight orders while impersonating an aviation official, German police said Friday.

The 32-year-old, whose identity wasn’t released in line with German privacy laws, was arrested Thursday night in the capital’s eastern Koepenick district, police said.

Police were able to swoop in on his apartment after he made contact with a police helicopter that was dispatched to the neighborhood in the hope of flushing him out.

During a search of his home, police found two radios that transmitted on the frequencies needed to make contact with aircraft.

“For everyone who has been asking about our police helicopter operations in Koepenick, an unusual arrest,” Berlin police tweeted, with a link to more details.

The man is alleged to have made contact with pilots of passenger and transport aircraft, as well as state and federal police helicopters, over the past six months, giving “potentially dangerous” instructions and becoming increasingly professional with his communications.

No accidents or other incidents are known to have been caused by his actions, police said.

TME – He probably has kids and is just your standard helicopter parent.

Dustin Pedroia has been a part of our lives for a long time. But I think we all knew that the inevitable was coming. On Monday, he confirmed that his retirement from the Boston Red Sox, bringing to an end a stellar career, albeit one that ended far too soon due to unfortunate injury.

His comeback effort spanned years, and even a year ago, he was still pushing toward that goal. But the inevitable reality of his injury led him to finally – officially – say goodbye.

Wednesday, 03 February 2021 13:38

Defining two big leagues via two big deals

It’s not often that the events of a single weekend give you a chance to explore the current state of affairs in not one, but two professional sports leagues.

The past few days have seen a pair of significant trades – one in the NFL, the other in MLB – that illustrate beautifully the current divide in those leagues with regard to those who are looking to win now and those who aren’t (and more specifically – those looking to maximize on-field performance and those looking to maximize off-field profit).

How much thought have you given to your voice?

Not the way it sounds, mind you. We’re not talking about the words that you might say or the notes that you might sing, but rather the actual voice itself. The physiological and neurological underpinnings of how we as human beings are able to harness its many complexities.

If you’re at all curious, then you desperately need to sit down with John Colapinto’s “This Is the Voice” (Simon & Schuster, $28). It is a deeply researched and incredibly informative plunge into what proves to be a surprisingly robust topic, one that digs into not just the nuts and bolts of how our voice works, but some ideas about WHY it works the way it does.

This unapologetically wonky book is rife with fascinating facts about the origins of human voice, packed with interviews that address the topic from all angles. Through delving into the physical, emotional and cultural connotations of voice, Colapinto illustrates just how vital a part the voice plays in our world – who we were, who we are and who we may yet become.

The fundamental idea that this book explores is a simple, yet far-reaching one. Basically, Colapinto argues that the ability to speak – not just to make sounds, but to SPEAK – has been the key to humankind’s evolutionary journey to the top of the heap. That ability to communicate concisely and flexibly is what truly separated us from the pack and allowed for the many developments that led us to our current status.

And it all started with a song. Kind of.

Denzel Washington is a movie star. One of the few we still have, really.

This doesn’t mean that every movie he makes is automatically some sort of commercial and/or critical success. He can usually open a movie – well, as much as anyone can outside the realm of blockbuster IP – and he’s almost always good, but the films themselves are a little more inconsistent.

“The Little Things” – currently in theaters and available on HBO Max – is a prime example of that variability. It’s a period crime thriller (though as an aside, calling a movie set in 1990 “period” has me feeling my age) – red meat for Denzel – with a couple of Oscar-winning co-stars in Rami Malek and noted weirdo Jared Leto. That certainly looks like a formula for success.

Unfortunately, while director John Lee Hancock did an admirable job in eliciting good performances and evoking an engaging atmosphere, screenwriter John Lee Hancock failed to rise to the occasion, leading to a story that feels formulaic, disjointed and a little derivative. For me, the pros slightly outweigh the cons, but your mileage may vary.

I’m a huge admirer of triple threats – that is, performers with the ability to sing, dance and act at a high level. It’s a term most often foisted upon stage actors, specifically Broadway types, but it can be applied to a number of stage and screen talents.

Here’s the thing, though: Something has to be third. No one is EQUALLY gifted at singing, dancing and acting. Yes, you can be good, even great, at all three, but there has to be one that comes in last.

This brings us to Justin Timberlake, a performer of immense ability across the spectrum – a legitimate triple threat. However, I feel very comfortable saying that for JT, acting definitely comes in third.

And yet, when I watch him in “Palmer,” his new film currently streaming on Apple TV+, I wonder. Not enough to change my mind, of course, but that’s more because his singing/dancing talents are so extreme rather than any acting shortcoming. We haven’t seen Timberlake take on any kind of a serious role in years (and never anything like this one), so it’s easy to forget.

This movie – directed by Fisher Stevens from a screenplay by Cheryl Guerriero – pushes the pop star toward a darkness that is vastly unlike any of his previous efforts. It’s a heartfelt story of redemption and acceptance, one that goes to some morally murky places and is unafraid to venture into unpleasant territory. It’s about responsibility, about protecting those who need protection and how that protective instinct can grow into something more. And it’s about what happens when someone who has lost everything sees a chance to regain some of what he no longer has.

Maintaining a connection to the past is paramount to understanding the present. Knowledge of history allows us to learn from those who came before, and where we come from can often help us get to where we’re going. But just as the past informs the present, so too does the present attempt to define the past.

But the quest for that knowledge isn’t always an easy one. While many seekers will be pure of intent, there will always be those who attempt to profit or self-aggrandize, people made erstwhile gatekeepers through matters of circumstance rather than talent.

“The Dig” – directed by Simon Stone from a screenplay by Moira Buffini, adapted from the John Preston novel of the same name – is a story of history uncovered, a based-on-a-true-story tale of amateur archaeology and passions both overt and opaque that explores the bonds of shared interest and understanding that can help transcend barriers of class.

With a charming sense of understatement, a deliberate pace and some quietly compelling performances, “The Dig” is a low-key delight, a warm blanket of a movie that unhurriedly unspools with a stiff-upper-lipped sweetness. And while there’s not a lot of excitement here, the film manages to engage with its audience just fine.

Five months ago, 32 NFL teams set out on what would be one of the strangest seasons in the history of the sport. Playing games in the face of an ongoing pandemic, the league weathered some unique challenges. Should they have played? Depends on who you ask. But play they did.

Now, after all that, just two teams remain.

The Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will face off on February 7 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. It’s a historic matchup for a number of reasons – you’ve got the returning champion Chiefs looking to go back-to-back, while the Buccaneers become the first team to ever play a Super Bowl on their home field. Oh, and there’s this Brady guy who is about to quarterback in his record 10th title game.

There’s a lot happening here, is what I’m saying.

Let’s take a stroll through the teams and break down some of the positional matchups to get a sense of which squad stands superior. Of course, the most talented team doesn’t always win. The most prepared team doesn’t always win. The team we think will win doesn’t always win.

You get the picture. Anyone who tells you they KNOW what will happen is a charlatan who is almost certainly trying to sell you something. No one knows how this will all play out, but here’s my best guess – the best guess of a guy who, in the interest of full disclosure, got absolutely housed by his dog in picking winners this season (though my postseason run was solid).

Let’s break it down.

Wednesday, 27 January 2021 13:35

Celebrity Slam Musings

So we’re going to start this week’s Celebrity Slam off on a bit of a somber note, but please bear with up – it’s going to get weird and (we hope) funny as we move along.

Last week saw the passing of a true broadcasting great when Larry King died at the age of 87. King was known for many things – his conversational interview style, his ubiquitous suspenders-and-bow-tie combo, his plethora of marriages – but few who crossed his path over the years denied his contributions to the industry.

One of King’s longest-running offerings was his weekly musings column that graced the pages of USA Today for nearly two decades, from 1982 to 2001. It was a collection of quick hits and snippets, a collection of political, entertainment and personal observations loosely connected by a whole mess of ellipses.

This week, to honor Larry King, welcome to Celebrity Slam Musings, a loving parody of/homage to one of the greats.

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