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Allen Adams

Allen Adams

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Tuesday, 30 March 2021 22:11

Weird National Briefs (03/31/2021)

Beef on the lam

JOHNSTON, R.I. (AP) — A steer that has been on the lam for nearly two months after escaping while on the way to a Rhode Island slaughterhouse was finally corralled Friday morning, police said.

The beefy, 1500-pound (680-kilogram) fugitive was captured unharmed in Johnston by its owner and returned to a Connecticut farm, Johnston Chief Joseph Razza told WLNE-TV.

The steer took off Feb. 4 when a wholesaler lost control of it outside Rhode Island Beef & Veal in Johnston, according to authorities.

Since then, it has been spotted a number of times, including by a startled Uber driver who reported seeing it during an early morning run to pick up a passenger as he was waiting for a traffic light to change.

Razza previously said he just wanted to make sure the animal kept to wooded areas where it could not endanger drivers, and said Friday he’s relieved it has been captured without anyone getting hurt.

TME – Turns out it’s two months ‘til the cows come home.

Monday, 29 March 2021 16:04

To Paris with love – ‘French Exit’

Most of the time, movies are relatively straightforward. Sure, you have your odd arthouse auteurs and the like, but usually, films work in the way you expect. You go to a drama, you expect emotional impact. You see a comedy, you’re ready to laugh. You walk into a superhero movie, you get superheroes. Horror, scares. Thriller … thrills.

But every once in a while, you find a movie that gleefully upends your understanding of the world in which it operates. It doesn’t actually change anything, yet you’re left with fundamental questions about both what you’ve seen so far and what is yet to come.

That’s the kind of movie that you get with “French Exit,” a smart, engaging film directed by Azazel Jacobs from a screenplay that Patrick deWitt adapted from his own 2018 novel of the same name. It is a dry and witty comedy that takes a surreal turn, introducing strange and unexpected elements that nevertheless only serve to enhance the overall experience of the film.

With an absolutely exceptional cast led by Michelle Pfeiffer, this movie is not necessarily what you might expect it to be, but by subverting your expectations, it gives you an experience that is arguably far better than the one you thought you were getting.

Sometimes, you just know it’s going to be bad.

You settle in and start watching and within a scant few minutes, you’re made painfully aware that the next hour-and-a-half is not going to be the good time that you expected it to be. You might say that, instead, you’re going to have a bad trip.

Or a “Bad Trip,” as it were.

That’s the title of a new Netflix movie starring Eric Andre, Lil Rel Howery and Tiffany Haddish. It’s a feature-length distillation of the weirdo cringe comedy ethos of Andre, directed by the comedian’s longtime collaborator Kitao Sakurai. Basically, it’s a collection of hidden camera stunts and pranks stitched together through a bare-bones narrative.

It’s … not great.

I’ll concede the very real possibility that this movie simply isn’t for me, that this brand of aggressive absurdism doesn’t push my humor buttons. That being said, “Bad Trip” is less a movie than a deluge of self-harm and personal space invasion that occasionally features some not-particularly good dialogue. Did I laugh? A couple of times, sure, but nearly enough to justify the time spent watching something that, when boiled down, is simply a few comedians dicking around.

While I wouldn’t consider myself a connoisseur of old person comedies necessarily, I do carry a vague appreciation for them. Or maybe affection is a better word – there’s something about watching old pros just hang out, even if the world they’re in seems built by an AARP focus group. They don’t have to be good to charm me, is what I’m saying.

A perfect case in point is “Senior Moment,” starring William Shatner himself. There’s a lot wrong with this movie – there’s a stiffness to the dialogue, inconsistency and odd choices with the camera and a weird credulousness throughout – but watching Shatner, as well as his co-stars Christopher Lloyd and Jean Smart, just doing what they do in a very low-key, low-stakes manner is fun.

Are we living in a simulation?

It’s a question that has risen to prominence in certain technophilosophical circles in recent years, though in truth, the skeptical hypothesis regarding just how real reality is has been around for centuries; perhaps the most pop culturally present of those ancient arguments are things like Plato’s Allegory of the Cave or the “butterfly dream” from the Chinese philosopher Zhuangzi, though many other long-ago thinkers expressed similar ideas.

What it boils down to is the notion that everything about the universe we occupy, from the tiniest molecule to the most massive star, is a computer simulation. That includes us, by the way.

This current flavor of this theory springs largely from work in the early 2000s by the Swedish philosopher Nick Bostrom, whose premise presupposes that future predictions regarding the massive increase of computing power are accurate and that at some point, said supercomputing capacity would be devoted to running simulations of civilization’s forebears. Assuming those simulations are sufficiently detailed and fine-tuned, the people in them will be conscious and sentient … and virtual.

Bostrom’s simulation argument – which he calls a trilemma – states that one of these three statements is almost certain to be true:

  1.     The fraction of human-level civilizations that reach a posthuman stage (i.e. capable of developing these sort of immense simulations) is very close to zero.
  2.     The fraction of posthuman civilizations that are interested in running simulations of their evolutionary history, or variations thereof, is close to zero.
  3.     The fraction of all people with our kind of experiences that are living in a simulation are very close to one.

Bostrom goes on to posit through anthropic reasoning that IF that third statement is true, then we are almost certainly living in a simulation.

There – that’s everything that five minutes on Wikipedia could teach me about simulation theory. You’re welcome.

But that’s not the whole story. In fact, we here in The Maine Edge’s Investigative Futurism Department have spent several hours digging into a different possibility with regard to our simulated world – a possibility that hits us where we live. You see, after much experimentation and deliberation, the IFD has come to an undeniable and paradigm-shattering conclusion.

We ARE in a simulation, but not one crafted by the powers that be in some far-flung future. No, the simulation in which we exist is not, one could argue, a simulation at all.

We’re characters in a story. Specifically, a Stephen King story.

Wednesday, 24 March 2021 09:38

Northern Maine Disc Golf Tour tees off

BRADFORD – A different kind of golf tour is about to tee off in the region. Not with clubs being swung, but rather discs being flung.

The Northern Maine Disc Golf Tour (NMDGT) is a collection of disc golf tournaments that will play out over the coming weeks, with 10 events playing out at 10 different courses. The NMDGT will be kicking off its 2021 slate with a tournament at Two Clapps Disc Golf Course in Bradford on March 28.

Subsequent events will take place at: DR Disc Golf (Orrington); Hidden Acres (Old Town); Legacy Farms (Winterport); DND (Sydney); WACC (West Appleton); Sky Riders (Fairfield); Hapana (Trenton); Pandemic (Albion); and Maple Ridge (Westfield).

Each tournament features several divisions, determined by factors like skill level and age. Points are awarded for performance at each event, leading to the tour’s points championship, set to take place at Circle Two on June 6.

As anyone who has spent time with us in the past knows, we here at Celebrity Slam do our very best to stay on top of the ever-shifting sands of celebrity culture. And it’s not an easy beat – the nature of our relationship to celebrity (and celebrity’s relationship to us) is constantly evolving.

It used to be that fame was reserved for those who reached the pinnacle of their profession and/or craft – entertainment, athletics, politics, what have you – but the explosion of options means that the definition of “pinnacle” has changed significantly. Instead of a few dozen movies and whatever turns up on the three broadcast networks or top-40 radio, the entire world is made up of content, all of it growing increasingly granular and niche as offerings expand.

Of course, to pinpoint just how ridiculous it all is, the previous 150ish words are there basically to introduce this reminder: celebrity boxing is still a thing.

Wednesday, 24 March 2021 09:03

Weird National Briefs (03/24/2021)

DA delivery

DOYLESTOWN, Pa. (AP) — A top aide to a district attorney in suburban Philadelphia has been demoted because he was caught moonlighting for DoorDash during work hours.

Bucks County District Attorney Matt Weintraub announced the punishment Thursday against prosecutor Gregg Shore, who was demoted from the office’s first assistant district attorney to being a deputy district attorney.

Weintraub said Shore had been working for DoorDash, delivering food during work hours, from October to February. The Bucks County Courier Times said Shore’s salary as first assistant was $125,000.

“I primarily worked the job at nights and weekends, however, I made the incredibly poor decision to deliver during the workday at times,” Shore told the paper Thursday.

Shore told the Courier Times he was motivated by personal circumstances during the COVID-19 pandemic to work the delivery job.

Weintraub said Shore repaid the county with unused vacation time for the money he made delivering food while on duty.

Weintraub cited the importance of redemption and second chances as reasons to keep Shore on the office payroll.

Shore has also worked for the state attorney general’s office, as a Lehigh County prosecutor and was a deputy secretary in the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry during the administration of Gov. Tom Corbett.

TME – Tough to fault a guy for trying to double his billable hours.

Justice for the Justice League!

Specifically, for director Zack Snyder’s vision of the team – a vision that was undeniably disrupted by the circumstances surrounding 2017’s “Justice League.” When personal issues led to Snyder’s walking away from the project during post-production, replacement director Joss Whedon wound up putting his own very distinct stamp on the proceedings … for better or worse.

Mostly worse, as it turns out.

But now, in what is a first in the vast and varied world of big-budget superhero cinema, we’ve been given a chance to experience something far closer to Snyder’s original intent – a do-over. Thanks in no small part to massive internet outcry from fans, the powers that be at HBO gave the keys back to Snyder (as well as a hefty budget, around $70 million) to turn the film back toward his original intent, retrofitting and reshooting and ultimately restoring Snyder’s vision.

The end result is “Zack Snyder’s Justice League,” a four-hour extravaganza that far outshines the film that came before it. It’s better. A lot better. Now, if you want to argue that it’s bloated and unnecessary, I won’t fight you. Think a dangerous precedent has been sent regarding the power potential of dedicated fandoms, no matter how potentially toxic? Could be. None of that changes the fact that this new film, as overwrought and overproduced as it may be, is a significant improvement.

It’s got many of the usual issues that dog Snyder’s work – the washed-out color palette, the ubiquitous slo-mo, the jittery, hard-to-follow battle scenes – but even those concerns are lesser here than they’ve been in previous films. And the storytelling gains – particularly when it comes to certain character arcs – more than offset all of that.

For me, it boils down to this. I basically shrugged my shoulders at “Justice League” in 2017. I genuinely enjoyed “Zack Snyder’s Justice League” … and I really wasn’t sure that I would.

Monday, 22 March 2021 15:24

‘Happily’ never after

Most of the time, the media we consume – movies, books, TV, music – fits comfortably within the confines of description. That is, we can pretty easily define what kind of film or book or show or song we’re experiencing; even the stuff built on genre cross-pollination can be described reasonably succinctly.

Occasionally, though, we get something that doesn’t quite fit into one or two categories. Something that is many different things at once while also being essentially its own thing.

“Happily,” written and directed by BenDavid Grabinski, checks a LOT of different genre boxes, but does so in a way that is appealingly messy. There’s a fundamental shagginess to the film, born of the filmmaker’s clear desire to take a kitchen sink approach to tone and type. And the film really does have it all – romance and dark comedy and speculative undertones and relationship drama – but in the course of doing so, it sometimes loses its way.

That said, we’ve got a dynamite cast, some killer aesthetic choices and visual styling and an obvious willingness to let things get weird. It’s a film where you might THINK you know what you’re getting into, but you don’t. Not really. And that’s (mostly) a good thing.

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