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Allen Adams

Allen Adams

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Wednesday, 01 September 2021 12:03

Weird National Briefs (09/01/2021)

Porn payout

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (AP) — A judge has ordered a western Michigan couple to pay $30,441 to their son for getting rid of his pornography collection.

U.S. District Judge Paul Maloney’s decision this week came eight months after David Werking, 43, won a lawsuit against his parents.

He said they had no right to throw out his collection of films, magazines and other items. Werking had lived at their Grand Haven home for 10 months after a divorce before moving to Muncie, Indiana.

The judge followed the value set by an expert, MLive.com reported. Werking’s parents also must pay $14,500 to their son’s attorney.

After moving to Indiana, Werking learned that his possessions were missing.

“Frankly, David, I did you a big favor getting rid of all this stuff,” his dad said in an email.

TME – Time to be an adult.

Wednesday, 01 September 2021 12:00

‘Year of the Rocket’ a blast from the CFL past

In the world of gridiron football, the NFL reigns supreme. The league has become an entertainment behemoth, a multibillion-dollar monolith that is the closest thing to monoculture that North America experiences anymore.

But to the north, there is another football league with a storied history of its own.

The Canadian Football League has been around for a long time too – decades longer than its more prominent neighbor to the south – though it has never developed the same sort of all-encompassing hold on the general population. As the NFL exploded in popularity in the 1970s and into the ‘80s, the CFL – once an entity on more-or-less equal footing with its counterpart – began losing ground.

But in the early ‘90s, thanks to a bizarre confluence of timing and circumstance and a handful of bold and ill-conceived choices, a celebrated college star headed north and the CFL briefly found itself the talk of the sports world.

“Year of the Rocket: When John Candy, Wayne Gretzky, and a Crooked Tycoon Pulled Off the Craziest Season in Football History” (Sutherland House, $19.95) by Paul Woods is the story of that moment, where a trio of celebrated owners took control of one of the CFL’s most storied franchises and used their combined clout and cash to convince Notre Dame’s Raghib “Rocket” Ismail, one of college football’s biggest stars, to sign with them.

Woods goes deep into the situation, documenting the struggles that came from dealing with the sky-high expectations across the board; on the field and off, behind the scenes and in front of the world, these were circumstances unlike any ever experienced by the CFL. It was a whole new world – some of it good, some of it bad, all of it compelling.

There are a lot of reasons that the NFL has become the preeminent league in American professional sports. The telegenic nature of the game, the strength of the marketing machine, the undeniably impressive on-field athleticism – all key components to the game’s massive success.

But one of the very biggest has to be the proliferation of fantasy football.

What fantasy football has done – particularly with the advent of the internet – is change the way the sport is consumed, giving people reason to watch games that don’t involve their own rooting interest. It’s the sort of thing that turns non-fans into casual fans and casual fans into passionate ones.

As we approach the season’s kickoff, thousands of fantasy football leagues are the in process of holding their drafts. Millions of people are making their selections, deciding which combination of players gives them the best chance of coming out on top and winning money, trophies and/or bragging rights.

There’s an entire industry built around giving advice to fantasy football players. There are experts out there who spend countless hours breaking down statistics and trying to project which players are going to have big years and which ones are going to regress. They’ll tell you why you should select a player and when.

I am not one of those experts.

What I am is someone who has played fantasy football regularly for nearly two decades. I’ve won a championship or two along the way. I’ve also finished dead last once or twice. Mostly, I’ve fallen somewhere in-between. And since I’ve lived my fantasy life as part of that vast middle class, I thought it might be interesting to pass along a few bits of wisdom that I’ve picked up along the way.

Wednesday, 01 September 2021 11:57

Red Sox Report Card – August 2021

Hey everybody! Remember when the Red Sox were in first place and it looked like they’d coast into the postseason without much of a problem?

As it turns out, there’s a reason they play ALL the games.

August wasn’t a great month for the boys from Beantown. They finished with a sub-.500 record for the month and ceded even more ground to the increasingly dominant Rays while ALSO allowing the dreaded New York Yankees to pass them as well. At this rate, Boston might not even make an appearance in the Wild Card Game; if they’re going to make it, they’re going to need a big turnaround in September.

Specifically, the pitching let them down in a big way last month. The offense was actually pretty solid overall, but the team’s mound work – particularly out of the bullpen – left a lot to be desired. It’s not over yet, but without some kind of drastic improvement, the fat lady will be singing for this Red Sox season soon enough.

On to the Report Card.

(All stats current as of the completion of the Aug. 30 game.)

Wednesday, 01 September 2021 11:43

‘Only Murders in the Building’ one killer show

Few pop culture phenomena have been as pervasive in recent years as true crime podcasts. Even if you don’t listen to them yourself, odds are that you know at least one person who listens obsessively to one or more. “Serial,” “My Favorite Murder,” “Dirty John, “Dr. Death” – the list goes on and on. Hell, the latter two pushed so fully into the zeitgeist that they got TV adaptations.

But while some of these programs have made the leap across media, a new Hulu show has a different idea about how to bring true crime podcasts to the small screen.

“Only Murders in the Building” is a 10-episode series on the streaming service; the first three episodes dropped on Aug. 31, with subsequent episodes landing every Tuesday from September 7 through October 5. The show was created by Steve Martin and Dan Fogelman; it stars Martin alongside Martin Short and Selena Gomez.

The fundamental question is simple – what if true crime enthusiasts were presented with an opportunity to go in-depth on a murder of their own? The result – thanks to great performances, strong writing and a genuine affection for the genre – is a show that is funny, smart and sincere, managing to parody this very specific world while also crafting a great example of that world.

(Note: Eight episodes of the show were made available for critics.)

Everyone loves Bob Ross.

The soft-spoken host of the long-running PBS program “The Joy of Painting” was an iconic figure to many, a person who celebrated the utility and democratization of painting. His attitude was simple: If you want to be a painter, paint – and then you’re a painter.

Even now, more than a quarter-century after his too-soon passing in 1995 at the age of 52, Ross is a familiar presence in pop culture. Through merchandising and reruns and references across assorted media, he is well-known – even to those who might not have even been born when his popular show was airing.

But in a new documentary, we learn that while he might have been a beloved icon in life, in death, he became the subject of far more contention.

The film – “Bob Ross: Happy Accidents, Betrayal & Greed” – is currently streaming on Netflix. Directed by Joshua Rofé, the film looks at the life and times of Ross, documenting his unconventional rise to fame and the people who accompanied him on that rise. And for the first hour, that’s what we get – a very human portrait of a man who is both decent and flawed – but as we go, it becomes clear that something isn’t quite right.

Indeed, when we get to the latter part of the documentary, where Ross’s very legacy – and to whom that legacy rightly belongs – becomes controversial in its own right, well … things get complicated. And one thing is for certain – the chicanery and manipulation that went on behind the scenes was neither happy nor an accident.

Genre storytelling has long offered a flexible path for those wishing to speak to greater truths. Often, these are people whose ideas or very identities have been marginalized, making it all the more difficult for their ideologies to be taken seriously – or even addressed at all – by the mainstream.

Genre work – be it literature or film or TV – is a way in. The outsized nature of science fiction or fantasy or horror allows room for social and cultural commentary to exist in the margins – a Trojan Horsing of sorts, utilizing tropes to reflect larger concepts in a manner that demands interpretation even while working effectively.

But in recent years, as some of those marginalized figures start making inroads higher up the cultural food chain, we’re getting more of their insights on textual levels as well as subtextual.

Take “Candyman,” the new film from director Nia DaCosta, who also co-wrote the screenplay alongside Win Rosenfeld and Jordan Peele (Peele also served as executive producer of the project). It’s a decades-later direct sequel to the 1992 film of the same name.

The sequel is plenty scary, of course, well-crafted and striking a balance between atmospheric scares and visceral gore. But it is also able to address the same central tenet of the original film – this idea that the focused anger and fear of a community can manifest in ways that negatively impact that community, living on long after the original players are gone – in a much more overt way. This is still social commentary wrapped in the trappings of a horror movie, but this time, there’s considerably more freedom regarding how that commentary is conveyed.

Stories, even urban legends, have power; the more they’re told, the more they’re believed … and the more they’re believed, the more power they ultimately carry.

Sometimes, we sit down in hopes of being challenged. We seek out art that causes us to ask questions and engage with larger ideas. We watch or we listen or we read in hopes of learning something new, or at least a new way of looking at something we already understand (or think we do). These are powerful artistic experiences, addressing something at our core.

Other times, we just want to escape. Maybe you want to laugh, maybe you want to be frightened, maybe you want a bunch of explosions. You’re not here for fundamental truths. You’re here for fart jokes and fistfights and jump scares.

Both experiences have real value. We want what we want when we want it – and that’s OK.

“Vacation Friends,” newly streaming on Hulu, is very much the latter sort of film. Directed by Clay Tarver from a screenplay Tarver co-wrote with Tom & Tim Mullen, Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley, the comedy is a coarse trifle, a movie built solely around outrageous situations – getting into them, getting out of them, you know the drill.

There are a handful of charming moments here where things threaten to develop some sort of meaningful underpinning – bits where deeper themes of adult friendship and loyalty and the like bob briefly to the surface – but those are quickly drowned out by the nonsense.

It’s fun. Dumb fun. Unchallenging fun. But fun. And sometimes, that’s all you’re looking for.

There’s a universality to certain stories that ensures that every generation gets its own versions of them. These fundamental narratives can be adapted and shaped to the time in which they are told; the evolve as the culture around them does.

George Bernard Shaw’s “Pygmalion” has become one of those universal stories in the century-plus since it first landed in 1913. The tale of one upper-class person shaping another, lower-class person to fit appropriately into the former’s world is one that has been told again and again. The former (almost always a man) brings the latter (almost always a woman) into their own social stratum – often at the expense of the latter’s dignity and/or personal identity.

1999’s “She’s All That” was the high school rom-com version of that tale for late 20th century moviegoers, a film that landed in the midst of a spate of teen-oriented cinematic fare. The BMOC takes a wager in which he is to turn the school’s lowliest of the social low into the prom queen and hijinks ensue.

Now imagine that, only gender-flipped.

BANGOR – A local afternoon staple is about to turn 10.

Radio show Downtown with Rich Kimball is set to mark its first decade in early September. For 10 years, host Rich Kimball has been bringing his own unique spin on drive-time to the area’s airwaves.

Ostensibly a sports-forward show, Downtown has always been much more than that, thanks to Kimball’s wide-ranging interests and his willingness to embrace those interests on the air. Yes, there’s plenty of sports coverage – local, regional and national – but there’s also plenty of conversation on other topics. Movies, music, literature, the performing arts, local business and events – everything gets some play from 4-6 p.m. on AM 620.

(Note: In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll note that I am a frequent guest on Downtown, appearing twice weekly on the program since the very beginning.)

The show has changed broadcast frequencies and locations numerous times during its 10-year run. It began on FM before moving to AM. It briefly broadcast from the Blueberry Broadcasting Studios before its extended run at the now-defunct studio space at Seasons Restaurant and Sports Bar, followed by its current location at the WZON studios.

But even as the show changed – from its focus to its physical location to its position on the dial – it just kept going. And the audience came along for the ride.

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