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Allen Adams

Allen Adams

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Tuesday, 03 August 2021 11:42

Celebrity Slam - All the Twitty Horses

Every once in a while, the stars align and we’re able to address a Celebrity Slam item from personal experience. It doesn’t happen a lot, but when it does, we’re always thrilled to take advantage.

This week, Twitter experienced a bit of an embarrassment when the company verified an account purportedly belonging to reclusive author Cormac McCarthy. It was obvious that the account was fake and when McCarthy’s publisher confirmed the fact, the blue check was removed.

It’s ridiculous, because the fine folks at The Maine Edge could have confirmed its falsity for them with ease.

Tuesday, 03 August 2021 11:41

Weird National Briefs (08/04/2021)

Chair and tear

BENNINGTON, Vt. (AP) — A giant ladderback chair that stands 19 feet (5.8 meters) tall may be big but it wasn’t tough enough for some vandals.

Damage to the massive “Big Chair” made from 3,000 pounds (1,361 kilograms) of cedar and white pine was captured early Thursday by surveillance video outside a credit union where the chair sits. The video shows two males and two females climbing and jumping on the chair.

The original chair was built in the late 1940s and became a popular roadside attraction. Over the decades it has been rebuilt several times.

The security video captured the moment the joints gave way, apparently injuring one of the vandals who was seen being helped away.

The Bennington Banner reports the weight of the people who climbed on the chair caused the sockets that held the cross pieces to split wide open. Now the chair’s wooden joints are in splinters and the rope seat is no longer in place.

“We have people on a daily basis come and take pictures with the chair. They drive here specifically to see it,” said Linda M. Bow, the chief business officer for the Tri State Area Federal Credit Union’s Bennington branch. Bow said. “It’s going to be hard to replace. It wasn’t meant for climbing.”

TME – *Insert Edith Ann joke that no one under 40 will get*

What’s that you say? A book centered around Shakespeare AND academia? Yes, I WOULD like to know more.

As someone with both a deep and abiding love for the Bard and a personal understanding of the ins and outs of small liberal arts colleges, I was always going to be interested in a book like Mona Awad’s “All’s Well” (Simon & Schuster, $27). However, while that introductory elevator pitch was enough to get me in the door, could it keep me there?

Reader, it most assuredly could. And did.

This is a darkly funny and strange tale, the story of a woman whose professional and personal missteps (both figurative and literal) have left her in a bleak and hopeless place. It’s the story of what can happen when passion curdles into something else, something powered by self-loathing and anger, all of it set against a backdrop of a theatre professor who makes a bargain that she doesn’t understand in a desperate hope to turn around the life she sees slipping away.

Oh, yeah – it’s back, baby! Our neighbors to the north are getting geared up for another season of CFL football!

It’s great to have the league back this year; the CFL lost last season to the pandemic, making 2020 the first year in over a century not to feature a Grey Cup championship contest. Seriously – it’s the only time other than the stretch from 1916-1919 that there was no Grey Cup game. Never forget that there’s a ton of history behind the Canadian game – just as much (if not more) than our own NFL.

Now, this season is going to be a little different. Pandemic circumstances have led to a bit of a truncated schedule; ordinarily, the league would have kicked off a couple of months ago. Instead, the season’s first game will be on August 5 and feature the reigning champion Winnipeg Blue Bombers hosting the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, the squad they defeated in that 2019 Grey Cup matchup.

We’re looking at 14 games played over 16 weeks, with the regular season coming to an end on November 20. The playoffs will begin on November 28, culminating in the 108th Grey Cup, scheduled to be played on December 12 at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton, Ontario.

The Canadian game is definitely different than what we’re accustomed to seeing in our own NFL, but it’s those differences that make it fun to watch. It’s a fast-paced and wide-open game, one that offers its own energy and excitement. If you want to see for yourself, there will be plenty of opportunity thanks to ESPN’s broadcast partnership with the league; it might be ESPN+ or a broadcast arm, but keep an eye out and you’ll get your chance – just as an example, that Winnipeg/Hamilton tilt will be on ESPN2.

Are you ready for some (Canadian) football? Let’s look ahead at the 2021 CFL season.

Tuesday, 03 August 2021 11:31

Red Sox Report Card - July 2021

Well … it was fun while it lasted.

I know, I know – it’s unfair to be defeatist, even after a month whose final day saw the Red Sox cede first place in the division to the Tampa Bay Rays. It’s not like July was outright terrible – Boston still managed to finish the month with a record above .500, albeit just barely (13-12).

Still, this isn’t the same team that looked so strong over the early part of the season. It’s a squad that has clearly come back down to Earth; whether they’ll be able to right the ship and regain their advantage in the A.L. East going forward remains to be seen. But there’s no denying that as a team, they simply haven’t performed up to the same level that we saw in the season’s first half.

All that being said, there’s a lot of season left. And July, while far from perfect, did have its bright spots to go with its downturns. Let’s break it down, shall we?

On to the Report Card.

Tuesday, 03 August 2021 11:29

The way of the gun – ‘Billy Summers’

Whenever anyone brings up horror fiction, the first name that inevitably arises is Stephen King. And there’s no question that he is the absolute master of modern horror, having given us some of the scariest stories ever to be put to paper. And if that was all he was, that would be more than enough.

But it isn’t. Not even close.

That’s not to demean his massive success in the horror genre, but we’ve seen plenty of work from King over the years to show that he is about more than genre. He transcends genre – the man is, above all else, a storyteller, unafraid to follow in whatever direction the tale takes him.

His latest novel is “Billy Summers” (Scribner, $30), a book in which King embraces a different kind of darkness. Not the supernatural shadows, but rather the bleak and sinister spaces within the hearts and minds of man. It’s a book more evocative of King works like the Bill Hodges trilogy or “Later” from earlier this year, one that digs into the author’s affection and affinity for pulpy noir fiction. There’s a gleeful griminess to it, even as he unleashes the full capacity of his storytelling prowess.

(In case you haven’t guessed yet, it’s VERY good.)

Monday, 02 August 2021 12:22

Welcome to the ‘Jungle Cruise’

Oh look – another Disney movie based on a theme park ride. It’s been a while.

From a financial perspective, making something like “Jungle Cruise” makes perfect sense. Slap the name of a familiar attraction on an action-adventure type movie, cast a charismatic movie star in the lead and watch the cash roll in. “Pirates of the Caribbean” already showed us the massive box office potential of this formula – why not give it another go? It’s going to make money.

From an artistic perspective, well … it’s going to make money.

The film, which stars Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt, is an effort to adapt Disney’s popular ride to the big screen. Directed by Jaume Collet-Sera, it’s a familiar attempt to adapt preexisting IP into a new format in which it can be further monetized. That’s a cynical reading, obviously, but doubtless an accurate one.

As for the actual movie? It’s fine, a pleasant enough diversion; at the very least, it’s a movie that a family can watch together (though there are some moments that might prove a bit much for younger viewers – it’s rightfully rated PG-13, for whatever that’s worth). The charm and charisma of the two leads, along with other talented performers, allows for an enjoyable experience, even if things do get a little muddled by the thin plot and general CGI morass.

I love being surprised at the movies. In this day of franchise fodder and omnipresent trailers, it can sometimes be tough to go into a film with little in the way of preconception. So when the opportunity arises, it can be really rewarding.

Writer-director David Lowery’s new film “The Green Knight” was just such a rewarding experience for me. It’s based on the 14th century chivalric romance “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight,” but beyond that and the knowledge that the wonderful Dev Patel stars, all I knew was what I half-remembered from having read the original text some 30 years ago. So I didn’t really know what was coming.

What I got was a sumptuous visual feast, an aesthetic wonder; it’s truly beautiful to look at. The central performance is exquisite, which is key – anything less than excellence from your lead and this film simply collapses under its own weight. That’s mostly because it is also one of the most actively weird mainstream releases I’ve seen in some time – and that’s a good thing.

It is a fantastic and strange tale of a man set upon a journey he doesn’t fully understand, victimized by his own hubris even as he ventures through a world that is steadily shifting around him. It is a story of the difference between responsibility and obligation, between honor and shame, all playing out through the eyes of a lone knight on a quest whose seeming purpose slowly crumbles with each step forward.

There are a lot of people – directors and writers and actors and designers – who need to succeed in order to make a good movie. But that success is relative – it is possible for the work of one or a few to have an outsized impact on a movie, to be great even if their surroundings don’t quite measure up.

This is a long-winded and overly verbose way of saying that the new movie “Stillwater” – directed by Tom McCarthy, who co-wrote the script alongside Marcus Hinchey, Thomas Bregdain and Noe Debre, and starring Matt Damon – is a so-so film that is nevertheless home to some outstanding individual work.

This story of an Oklahoma man who devotes himself to proving the innocence of his young daughter, jailed in France for a crime she claims not to have committed, drew inspiration from the real-life story of Amanda Knox, whose own salacious case of murder and wrongful conviction played out over the course of years back in the ‘00s. It’s a deep and often moving portrait of one man’s efforts to do what’s right, only to continually and thoroughly misstep … not to mention one of Matt Damon’s best performances in years.

(It should be noted that there’s an ongoing discourse surrounding “Stillwater” with regard to Knox and her feelings about having her ordeal used as fodder for the film; the parallels are fairly clear. The degree of control a person has over their own personal story becomes lessened when they move into the public eye, whether by choice or against their will. It might not be right, but it’s how it is, at least right now.)

“A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away … “

With those words, on an opening crawl that crept its way up from the bottom of movie screens all over the world, the “Star Wars” phenomenon was born. From those beginnings, an entertainment dynasty was born, one consisting of films, books, television shows, comic books, action figures, video games and literally any other creative content that one might be able to imagine.

But how much do you really know about how this phenomenon came to be?

In “Secrets of the Force: The Complete, Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of Star Wars” (St. Martin’s Press, $29.99), authors Edward Gross and Mark A. Altman have attempted to provide a clearinghouse of sorts, an assemblage of interviews and other ephemera that covers the breadth of the Star Wars experience. Pulling from a variety of sources from across more than four decades, the book attempts to tell the entire story.

As to how successful it is? Well … that depends on your perspective.

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