The Wrestling Gods watch on with Amusement, Incredulity, Popcorn

Long term prognostication in the arena of professional wrestling is the ultimate fool’s errand, not least because of the speed, shock, and sense of thudding finality with which change tends to happen on the ground. I grew up on WWF Tuesday Night Titans and WCW Saturday Night throughout the 1980s and early ‘90s, and came of age as a fan during the legendary pre-millennium “Monday Night Wars” period where those two ancient rivals battered each other senseless for our entertainment before the former finally emerged, enemy scalps and pink slips in hand, as the industry’s de facto kingpin. It was, of course, a time of unprecedented turmoil and animus within the industry, well-documented and much-mythologized, with high profile talent defections and dramatic debuts across enemy lines a regular occurrence and the emergence and strategic deployment of game-changing personalities that made Monday nights into appointment viewing well beyond football. Continue reading “The Wrestling Gods watch on with Amusement, Incredulity, Popcorn”

The Excesses of Whiplash Normalcy

Overcorrection is a peculiarly human characteristic. As a strategy, or at least a physiological response, it is baked into our DNA, and, however technically unintentional it almost always is, a predictable hallmark of most all human endeavor. When a rotted tree falls across a stream in the woods and crushes a tragically mislaid beaver dam, aggrieved beavers don’t generally arise en masse and launch a comprehensive deforestation campaign to retaliate. No, they simply rebuild. Moreover, the notion that response to a given stimulus need not be measured or proportional to be effective seems to me not just inherently human reasoning but also strangely American. Certainly, we’ll be testing that theory to its breaking point in the coming weeks Continue reading “The Excesses of Whiplash Normalcy”

Movie review: “Flash Gordon” (1980)

“Who are you?”

“Flash Gordon! Quarterback, New York Jets!”

“Dale Arden…Your Highness. Live and let live…that’s my motto!”

“My name is Hans Zarkov. I kidnapped them both here to save our planet, Earth.”

(To Ming) “An obscure body in the S-K system; the satellite that has provided you so much amusement…recently.”

Arguably the quintessential cult movie of the 1980s, the Dino De Laurentiis production of Flash Gordon arrived already fully enveloped in, if not choked by, the shadow of the original Star Wars – a strange irony considering the rich back story and surpassing influence of both that property and its namesake hero. Legend tells that George Lucas only authored his sprawling sci-fi epic/epoch in response to being denied the rights to first adapt the story of Flash, gridiron hero turned intergalactic adventurer of Sunday comic and Saturday morning serial fame. In terms of both what was omitted and committed, we thus have one of the most consequential turns in film history. Continue reading “Movie review: “Flash Gordon” (1980)”

Mixinformation #1 (5/9/21): AgainstZapZepRollTayTesting+…

Yet another attempt at launching a recurring DAE series, “Mixinformation” gathers for comment and inevitable digression eleven songs plucked on shuffle from the gargantuan greater playlist that provided the strange and lively partial soundtrack to my most recent road trip from the flats of Central Ohio to the hills of East Tennessee. Some 5,000 songs can’t fill or fit comfortably into any journey of just under 400 miles, of course, but that’s kind of the point. Music at its best challenges and comforts us in equal measure, makes the open road less lonely, more romantic, easier to eagerly embrace. Its companionship is invaluable, its worth incalculable. What follows is but chapter one in a serialized love letter of sorts…

Continue reading “Mixinformation #1 (5/9/21): AgainstZapZepRollTayTesting+…”

Armchair quarterbacking the “Temptation Island 3” homestretch

Prolonged pandemic living has doubtless unleashed a litany of subtle, insidious changes to our collective brain chemistry. I await the scientific journal data once this 118-year collective pause/home invasion of our national psyche is definitively behind us. I’ve noticed some personal differences manifesting both significant and miniscule, and sitting alone in ye olde bunker lo these many months has allowed me to catalog them with some clarity. My general mistrust of large crowds, for example, of which I will eventually need to be broken like a horse being taught to carry a rider, is offset somewhat by the curious realization that I have over the last year almost completely forsaken serialized television in strong favor of watching movies, and this at a time when conventional wisdom insists I should be most susceptible to and appreciative of streaming’s unquestionable charms. Continue reading “Armchair quarterbacking the “Temptation Island 3” homestretch”

Movie review: “Possessor” (2020)

“I want to show you some photographs we retained from your work on the Holly Bergman job. (slide changes, filling the projection screen with indistinct red) Why stab Elio Mazza? You were provided with a pistol.”

“Well, maybe it just seemed more in character.”

“Whose character?”

The young woman regards herself in the hotel room mirror dispassionately, as if she and her reflection have only ever met in passing. Her movements are halting and deliberate, almost timid, as she touches her head, hair vacuum-sealed into tight cornrows. She seems to await an outside signal imperceptible to all but her. Some indeterminate time and drastic self-care later, she now looks markedly different – hair straightened to shoulder length, wardrobe smart but not attention-seeking – though no differently. Finally, she stirs, and leaves, businesslike if still somewhat detached, and descends a staircase before merging into the flow of humanity that is metriculating towards a conference room. She picks a large man engaged in jovial conversation out of the anonymous throng and moves with purpose through the crowd, snatching a kitchen knife off a catering table in passing. Continue reading “Movie review: “Possessor” (2020)”

The Limits of Reduced Capacity

In the fall of 1999, I traveled from my East Tennessee home base to visit friends and see a concert in Columbus, Ohio, the third and final such journey I would make before moving in earnest in the handful of days between Christmas and Y2K. Nothing I encountered during any of those various excursions to the biggest city I’d yet visited gave me trepidation about making the arrangement permanent. Indeed, my first memory of Columbus was proclaiming,  “welcome home” under my breath as I gazed out at the runway from a taxiing plane’s porthole window that July. I was sheltered, but I was growing. My good friend and former singer had moved with his fiance back to her ancestral home roughly a year earlier and was now excited to welcome a potential new roommate, partner in crime, and adjunct financial investor for their forthcoming wedding. I was near breathless in anticipation, now thiiiiiiiis close to definitive escape from the South’s gravitational pull and a new lease on life. Continue reading “The Limits of Reduced Capacity”

DVR Hindsight #20 (2/15/21): “Clarice” Premiere

“Clarice” – “The Silence is Over” – Season One, Ep. 1 (CBS)

For her performance as FBI trainee Clarice Starling, the hardscrabble West Virginia orphan who, while on special assignment with the Bureau’s Behavioral Sciences division, used her intuition, cunning, and self-belief to face down two notorious serial killers – bringing the second to justice after surviving a harrowing ordeal alone in the lair of the beast – Jodie Foster won the 1991 Academy Award for Best Actress. It was the zenith of Foster’s career, making her a two-time Oscar winner with a third nomination yet to come, and part of a near-unprecedented sweep of the evening’s highest profile categories for what is perhaps simultaneously the quintessential modern police procedural, true crime, and horror film, Jonathan Demme’s peerless, practically perfect The Silence of the Lambs. Dissatisfaction with the tone and script of Ridley Scott’s 2001 sequel would cause Foster to bow out of reprising her most famous role, though her replacement, estimable fellow Oscar-winner Julianne Moore, did exceedingly well with what little she was given. I don’t actually have a clear preference between the two in terms of performance Continue reading “DVR Hindsight #20 (2/15/21): “Clarice” Premiere”

My Top 20 Albums of 2020 + Supplemental Lists

Introduction

Where to even begin with the year that was 2020? The year that just was provided us all entirely too many evenings alone with our respective thoughts – night after night after interminable night – nights of the sort that have always been habit throughout my life to either fill or drown out, as the moment requires, with music. To that end – and especially as it became increasingly obvious that any semblance of normal concert-going was lost along with so many of life’s other pleasures – I attempted to fill the resulting void in as many directions as I responsibly could. It was aimless overcompensation for the most part, but when the connection did kick in, I felt something like normal again…at least for a minute at a time. For one minute at a time, it felt like old times. For a long time, only music helped. Continue reading “My Top 20 Albums of 2020 + Supplemental Lists”

Movie review: “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World” (2012)

“Once again, if you’re just tuning in, the CSA space shuttle Deliverance has been destroyed. The final mission to save mankind has failed. The seventy mile-wide asteroid known commonly as ‘Matilda’ is set to collide with the Earth in exactly three weeks’ time…and we’ll be bringing you up-to-the-minute coverage of our countdown to the end of days, along with all your classic rock favorites. This is Q-107.2.”

Out of thin air and apropos of nothing, “the one who got away” butt-dialed me two years ago March. At a different time, in a different world, and so forth. This assumes butt-dialing is even still a thing, of course, but I never knew her to drink to excess or be especially prone to spontaneous outbursts of unproductive emotion. Not any more than anyone else (or I) was, that is. No message left, just the notification by name of a missed call from a girl I still occasionally gave wistful thought, despite not having talked to her in years. I didn’t hear the phone buzz, and only made the discovery after the fact, while waiting with two dear friends for a concert at Columbus, Ohio’s Nationwide Arena to start. By way of context, I haven’t seen a concert in almost exactly a year now; or one of those friends – who drove in from a different state for the occasion – in approaching two. Continue reading “Movie review: “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World” (2012)”