Movie review: “Gremlins” (1984)

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“What are they doing in there?!”

“They’re watching Snow White…and they love it.”

Gremlins isn’t a Christmas movie per se and yet it is my favorite Christmas movie, observing all 360 degrees of the holiday season – the warmth of simple pleasures and gathered family as ward against the cold; the balm of home and hearth belying some of its tackier trappings and base consumerism – through an appealingly dark lens while, counterintuitively, still treating the festivities with more heart and care than might your average “Santa is/toys are/elves are real/magic/cute” kiddie tract or “I’ll be home for the holidays” made-for-television romantic schmaltz. Joe Dante’s 1984 hybrid Americana monster movie/comic thriller, in which the improper care of an exotic house pet unwittingly unleashes a destructive plague of mischievous beasties upon an unsuspecting small town, is a savory Christmas confection coated in arsenic and wrapped lovingly in exploding sandpaper. Continue reading “Movie review: “Gremlins” (1984)”

Ceremonial Ten Count: A Requiem for HBO Boxing

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The other day, while discussing boxing in detail with a knowledgeable co-worker – and there’s a opening I never would’ve thought I’d possibly write five years ago – I casually reminded him that Saturday night’s Boxing After Dark card would technically be the final telecast of HBO Boxing after 45 years of standard-bearing quality and omnipresent, sport-influencing significance. He professed mild disappointment when hearing that the best card the network could apparently assemble as its swan song was a triple-header featuring two matches from the nascent and still relatively obscure realm of women’s boxing. I found myself neither particularly surprised by his knee jerk response nor my general agreement with it. Boxing fans are always hungry, after all, rarely satisfied, and can be exceedingly hard to impress. Continue reading “Ceremonial Ten Count: A Requiem for HBO Boxing”

Steelers Thoughts #17 (12/4/2018): Bad Acid Reflux (Redux)

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In the privacy of my home, or a friend’s, or the relative safety of a Steeler bar or especially rowdy corner table, believe you me, I’ll gladly rag on your team, and your players, and your fanbase, and your ownership, your stupid, overrated city, and adorable but misplaced civic pride – and the refs (especially the refs) – until they are all bleeding like sieves from multiple metaphorical wounds. No enemy is technically within earshot and so, in my view, no one technically gets hurt. I fully expect and endorse the same treatment from opposing fans, so long as I’m not around to hear that either. Convenient, no? Venting one’s spleen in a controlled, friendly environment can be terribly therapeutic. I wish it wasn’t strictly necessary, of course, but outside of vicarious onfield accomplishments – which, let’s face it, are fleeting and never, ever a given – it’s just about the only solace to be reliably found in sports. There is a very good reason that I keep my in-person trash talking to a bare minimum, however… or, rather, two. One – I’m not convinced it’s always harmless fun, nor am I without shame. I have evolved over almost forty years as a Pittsburgh Steelers fan into an anthropomorphic cauldron of bubbling hatred, wrapped in decorative black and yellow ribbon and exceedingly thin skin. As we share a perhaps overly emotional bond to a merciless game, I can’t trust you to be 100% civil and maintain perspective face-to-face any more than I do myself. I’ll certainly buy you a beer after, and we can maybe talk about something less divisive and triggering, like politics.

Continue reading “Steelers Thoughts #17 (12/4/2018): Bad Acid Reflux (Redux)”