Saturday, November 30, 2019

Football Counter-Programming 2019: Week 15

Today in football news, I've only got this to say . . . lots of football players went to bed last night dreaming of defeating their big pigskin rivals. And only half of them will accomplish that fact. But I went to bed dreaming of how to divert you from the cultural expectations of watching these football games on Saturday afternoon. How could I accomplish it? Especially when some of the biggest games of the season are scheduled for today?

The answer, as always, can be found in dreams. For, you see I had another odd dream last night and I have decided to go the extremely lame route of describing that dream to you. (I've done this in the past--though not always in the context of football counter-programming efforts.) Here's hoping that you enjoy it.


So . . . I'll begin by saying that I believe that I have had this dream before. And that seems odd because this is such a terribly odd dream. But my memory tells me that I've experienced this dream story at least twice before on random nights. Why? Don't know. Could I be mistaking that fact? I guess it's possible. But I don't know why my brain would conjure up this particular tale more than once.

Here's what happens. Some of the details and transitions are probably going to be lacking because, well . . . dreams.

The story begins from the point of view of a youngish girl and her group of friends. But this girl has a secret. She has the ability to fly--or float--or something. Rather than this being a good thing that she would want to excitedly tell her friends, it comes across in the dream as a problem. Something to be ashamed of. Something to stay silent about. And so she does. She doesn't tell people this singular thing about herself. That thing that makes her special and unique. She keeps it to herself and only experiences it in solitude.

The dream portrays this part of the story in several scenes that boil down to what I've told you above. I don't remember each scene beat by beat. And there is probably no logic to it in a dream anyway. But the main point is above and the emotional drive of this part of the dream is the disappointment and the secretiveness.

As with any good story, however, the secret can't stay hidden for long. And her ability to float is discovered. She then faces a choice. To live in society as a floating oddity or to be true to herself and strike out into the larger, unknown world with authenticity. She chooses to float away, leaving behind what she has known. This middle part of the dream is a long shot as she floats uncertainly away, rising higher and higher into the blue sky, moving further away.

And she eventually enters a dark area. Sort of like a floating forest, where she is surrounded by slowly encroaching shapes that block out the blue sky and give visions of uncertainty. Sometimes the shapes in the darkness look like faces. Sometimes they look like cat-like, but misshapen creatures, laying on the tree branches. Eventually, the "forest" surrounds her floating figure so tightly that all light is gone and she is enveloped on blackness.

And then . . . the dream changes dramatically.

We no longer see a girl. We see a man, with a family. A spouse, kids. They are enjoying a normal afternoon, maybe on a weekend, possibly in the summertime. The man--let's call him a husband for lack of a better description--is playing with his young children. Maybe they are in a backyard, on a porch or a patio. But it's very ordinary. Maybe they are preparing a cookout dinner. Or maybe it's nothing so specific.

But the fact of the dream is that the floating girl is inside the man. Is she operating him, like a tiny person driving a very large, mechanical robot? Or is she inhabiting him--ike John Cusack invaded John Malkovich? (But with no ill intent on the floating girl's part?) Or is she simply HIM in an unknown way? A past life? A piece of his soul? Something else unquantifiable? Does he even know that she is in there? Can he catch a glimpse of her deep in his eyes when he sees his reflection in the mirror? The dream suggests that these are possibilities. But the definite truth is impossible to determine.

And that is where the dream ends.


I'll leave it here and invite you to interpret it in whatever way makes you happy. But remember. All football players dream. And what they dream is unknowable as trying to explain whether your alma mater's coach should go for it when its 4th Down as a long 2 yards with bragging rights on the line. Maybe he dreamt of a good strategy and he is fully confident that it will work. You are not him and you can't know for sure.

Until next week, when I try to convince you NOT to watch conference champtionship games.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Football Counter-Programming 2019: Week 14

(Full disclosure . . . I almost forgot to flip the syntax of my photo into "yoda-speak". But I saved myself at the last minute.)

So . . . welcome back once again to another week of Football Counter-Programming. I'm trying once again to divert you from watching football on a Saturday. But hey . . . I know that this is an unlikely task to accomplish--especially where I live in the Midwest where tOSU and Penn State are currently fighting to screw up each others playoff hopes.

But you didn't come here to think about football. You came to be diverted. So, what better way to divert than with the biggest diversionary tactic of the past two weeks? The launch of the new Disney+ streaming channel. Have you joined the masses? Are you deep down into Mickey's library of animated classics? Are you watching The Mandalorian and getting enchanted by Baby Yoda?

Did you know that this in't Yoda? That no one (yet?) knows the species of  creature that Yoda represents. And that, of course, Yoda is a proper name of the very old Jedi Master. So we don't know who or what this creature is. But all I know is that it/he/she has an extremely dope outfit made up of some soft and washed burlap velour fabric--with an especially cool snap collar.

But enough about the yoda-like baby. I am really invested in the best character on The Mandalorian. And that is--of course--Carl Weathers (with Werner Hertzog coming an extremely close second on his voice alone). Because every time Weathers is on screen, I imagine him wandering in off the Arrested Development set and looking for some stew ingredients. Plus, he has taken the very bold step of calling the mysterious title character "Mando"--which seems like a very familiar step to take for someone who is largely unknown. But it also seems like a very Carl Weathers sort of thing to do.

As with the Yoda baby, we don't know the Mandalorian's name. We only know that he is a bounty hunter from the planet of Mandalor. So maybe we will find out in the course of this inaugural season a.) what the Yoda species actually is, b.) what the name of the Yoda baby might be, and c.) the name of the Mandalorian while we are at it. (And if Carl Weathers finds some suitable ingredients for a savory meal, I won't be made about it.)

It's a journey of discovery for all of us. But remember that you can't take that journey if you are devoting all of your time to watching college football.

See you next week!

Friday, November 15, 2019

Football Counter-Programming 2019: Week 13

Did you miss me last week? (I hope at least someone noticed that I didn't post.) Maybe you felt a bit guilty as you watched college foootball, but you didn't quite know why?

Well, I hope to make up for it with a rollercoaster of a story about my . . . hometown . . . the great city of Tifton, Georgia.

It all centers around the story of the Town Terrace Motel--which I have written about in my digital sphere before. It has its own dramatic history long before I crossed paths with it. But the amount of news surrounding this mid-century hotel has really rocketed up in the month of November.

First--my brief connection. Lynda and I got married in 1995 and I had about six weeks between returning from our honeymoon and starting a new year of grad school at Georgia Southern University. So, Lynda and I had a brief residence at the Town Terrace before we packed up again and went back to Statesboro. I wrote about it on WWYG?! back in January 2009 and provided some additional photo information on Why Won't You Photo?! as well.

But recently, the Town Terrace has been in the news a LOT! I first heard about it via this post from a Tifton-based newsletter that I subscribe to. It seems that a Hollywood movie may be filmed in the Tifton area and they were scouting the Town Terrace for some location shooting. I thought that was cool and I thought that would be the end of it. But no.

I felt sad, because not only do I have a direct connection with the Terrace (and I hate the use of the nickname "Pink Motel"), but I've done my own modest historical research on these types of mid-century road accommodations and I didn't want to see a bit of it disappear. Still . . . if the location was in disrepair and in need of extensive renovation then maybe it was inappropriate to hold onto a husk of history for no real reason--especially if there wasn't a strong local desire to keep it up.

Over the next few days, some of my hometown Facebook friends began lamenting the news.  And it sort of felt "too little/too late".

And THEN . . . two Grapevine issues later I see THIS.

So now I really don't know what to think. (Honestly, my initial gut reaction was that someone set the fire on purpose to prevent the site from being completely demolished and slow down the building of the new townhomes . . . though that makes absolutely NO logical sense whatsoever.) But the twists and turns were getting really dramatic. What would happen to the movie shoot plans? 

But as of earlier this week, the news (maybe?) is good (possibly?). Because the Tuesday, November 12 issue of the Tifton Grapevine looked like this!

So . . . what is next? I have no idea. I don't know if saved is the correct adjective for what has happened right now. It is not slated for demolition at this time. It has one unit damaged by fire. It is still on the docket for December film shooting. But beyond that? No one knows. If it is going to remain a function place that retains its historic charm and serves the community, a lot of investment and repair needs to be completed. Otherwise, someone new is going to step in and tear it all down for a more modern money plan. 

I hope something good comes out of all of this attention. And if it does get torn down, I hope at the very least that the sign is saved.

And that is it for me this week. I hope you enjoyed this slice of true-life. And I hope you clicked on all of the links. But if you didn't, just remember. These past few days in the history of Tifton's Town Terrace are even more remarkable than whatever happened last week in that LSU-Alabama game.

Find something else to do besides watching college football!

Friday, November 01, 2019

Football Counter-Programming 2019: Week 11

Are you ready for some more Star Wars-related Football Counter-Programming?!?

I'm coming back around to this idea again, my friends. Because what else--other than football--commands a larger part of the well-off brain than discussing pop culture--and most especially Star Wars pop culture? Ever since 1976, we've been talking Star Wars, reimagining Star Wars, copying Star Wars, trying to recreate Star Wars, prequalizing Star Wars, animating Star Wars, disliking Star Wars, debating Star Wars, resurrecting Star Wars, loving Star Wars, and anticipating Star Wars.

And between now and the theater debut of the eleventh new Star Wars feature film, we'll once again be doing each and every one of those things once more--possibly several of them per day.

So, what better way for me to distract you from watching football on a weekend and then rushing to social media to talk about that football than to get your neurons firing in a totally different part of your grey matter on a very different subject?

So, unlearn what you have learned about football and come debate me on my ranking of the worst to best Star Wars movies!

Category 5: Smells Like a Tuskin Raider Died in This Trash Compactor

Are you at all surprised that we begin at the bottom by starting at the beginning? It's (of course) one of the prequels.

#11. Star Wars Ep. II: Attack of the Clones
Hold me as tightly as you want while we gaze at the lakes of Naboo, but there is no way you can tell me that this movie doesn't deserve to be at the bottom of this list. Whether its Anakin and Padme's love story or the hatred levels of sand . . . there is little here to recommend. (Unless you like the video game scene where C3P0 gets mechanically abused on the droid assembly line.)

#10. Star Wars Ep. I: The Phantom Menace
The things that kept this one from tieing for last place are mostly the scenes with Darth Maul being a Sith badass. His level of mysterious cool overcame Jake Lloyd's YIPPEE! or the fact that Natalie Portman was supposed to credibly feel the stirrings of love enough to slightly hit upon a nine-year-old. Plus the fact that there is just enough of a bone-deep love of Star Wars in me to allow the pent up excitement of the franchises return when that first crawl hit the screen in 1998 to overcome its many, many shortcomings.

Category 4: As Bad as a Dying Tauntaun

#9. Star Wars Ep. VI: Return of the Jedi
You might be upset with this one. It is one of the original trilogy and many would expect that it might rise further up my list--especially since I haven't even listed all three of the prequel movies in this list yet. But still . . . Return was always the weakest of the originals. And it DOES contain the original sin of Ewoks. I wring my hands a bit here and do not display near the amount of turmoil that Luke does in the many Emperor throne room scenes. But I'm going to be bold and stick to my blasters with this choice.

#8. Star Wars Ep. III: Revenge of the Sith
Seriously. I'm putting this one here. And it's because that fight scene at the end of the movie is just so anticipatory. It might be diminished a bit by what comes after--Padme just giving up and dying for some reason? and the Nooooooo Frankenstein moment at Darth's awakening. But that crumbling slide of Anakin fully into darkness and the lightsaber duel between him and Obi-Wan on Mustafar was just enough to bump it up a bit for me. Even in the dark disappointments of the prequel movies I always wanted to know a bit more about Anakin's embrace of the Dark Side. Though the acting on screen was lots of scowling and angry eyes under overlarge hoods . . . I still had been wanting to know. I'd been wanting to know ever since Darth outstretched his hand to a wounded Luke in the underbelly of Bespin Cloud City. How had it all gone wrong? Was I asking about Vader or am I asking about the Prequels?

Category 3: Unfairly Maligned--Kinda like the Gunguns Maybe?

7. Solo: A Star Wars Story
You might say "I've got a bad feeling about this." Or you might have heard others say that about this movie. But it was not as bad as you think. I'll admit that I've only seen it once--making it easily my least seen Star Wars movie on this list. But I found nothing objectionable about it. It was acted well--far more so than Hayden Christiansen or Jake Lloyd . . . or even many scenes presented by the very good Natalie Portman. I liked the story. I liked learning more about young Han. And getting Donald Glover as young Lando was more than we deserved. It might end up being a test case for most of the upcoming offerings on the streaming Disney+ network. But I'll happily put it middle of the pack and let you call me an easy touch and a grade inflator.

Category 2: Okay. I've Got a Bad Feeling About This

6. Star Wars Ep. IV: A New Hope
Here in Category 2 is where I'm really gonna start stepping on some fanboys toes and where I'm wading into the Internet Trolls mind space. Let's begin here by downgrading the originator of the whole franchise. I will always be a Star Wars stan (as you can see). But the movies ranked above A New Hope so greatly improved upon the original that I had to push it down, don't you see? It suffered because of its time. Its visuals--though groundbreaking for 1976--cannot compete with the spectacle of today. And we've just become better at telling Star Wars stories. Do you expect that the Epic of Gilgamesh must always be ranked number one in all story criticism?

5. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
This movie is simply great. It's just so good. It accomplished what the prequels meant to do, and for an added degree of difficulty, it did so after the prequels failed at it so spectacularly. Daisy Ridley and the character of Rey ably picked up the burden (and the lightsaber) left by Mark Hamill's Luke Skywalker. And the creative minds of Lucasfilm and Disney showed that they could be true to their Star Wars roots--and know the future--by creating the delightful presence of BB-8. It was a rollicking good time, exactly as the fun parts of Empire. And it just felt like Star Wars. (Sure, it suffers . . . slightly in my mind but more so in others estimation . . . from feeling TOO MUCH like Star Wars. But when it came out, I unreservedly loved it and haven't lost that excited feeling in subsequent rewatches.

4. Rogue One

The only questionable thing about this movie is the few instances of CGI de-aging on General Tarkin and Princess Leia. (Honestly, I'm only bothered by the waxy looking Leia in the final scene of the movie. I didn't even register the technique with Tarkin when I first watched the movie, and I actually thought to myself with surprise how little the actor had aged in my entire lifetime. So . . . maybe that admission alone disqualifies me from ever having a public thought about movies ever again. But still I persist.)
In short, Rogue One is bad ass. And the last thirty minutes are as good a movie as anyone could hope. The taking down of the Scarif shield and the tension that mounts as Leia's cruiser escapes with the plans while Vader decimates everyone in the airlock hallway is incredible. It completely connects to and justifies the cold opening scene of A New Hope in every possible way.

Category 1: You Must Unlearn What You Have Learned

3. Star Wars Ep. V: The Empire Strikes Back
Maybe no one will hate me more than they will hate me for this. Unquestionably, throughout my lifetime--that is the lifetime of the Star Wars franchise, I might add--this has been the gold standard movie. I love it. Every character is great. Luke looks wonderful. Leia is strong and sexy. Han wears every outfit like it was precisely made for him. Hell, they even made you believe in a gnomish Muppet as a critically pivotal character.
And did I forget to say that it provided the most dramatic plot twist of any movie in the last 40 years? All of that--plus the sublimity of the visuals and score of the chase through the asteroid field.
I must be crazy for doing this.

2. Star Wars: The Last Jedi
So many people got all butt hurt about this movie and I just don't understand it. It continued the deepening of Rey's story. It gave us more sympathy for Kylo Ren and then allowed him to yank that sympathy away. And it gave us a correct and honest ending to Luke Skywalker's conflicted life, giving him the space he deserved to call out the real failing of the Jedi Order. It allowed Leia to fully and completely stand on her own as a leader, a rebel, an inspiration.
It was also an incredible visual feast--from the red sands of Crait, to the duel in Snoke's throne room, to the solemnity of the Holdo Maneuver. I LOVED IT!

1. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
I haven't seen it. And neither have you. So you have no right to criticize my anticipation of greatness. If it is bad, I'll say so--especially if they make the wrong choice and make Rey a part of the Skywalker ancestry and not the unknown nobody that she ought to be.
But, other than that, I really look forward to this being a great movie.


So--just remember. The kids playing out there on your alma mater's football team grew up in the Star Wars era. Heck, for all I know, they may think Count Dooku is the best villain in the entire saga. So try to forgive them when they fail to stop that 4th and 2 play in the final minutes of the Fourth Quarter.

Until next week!

[NOTE:  I briefly struggled with which of the three main Rise of Skywalker trailers to insert here. I really like the emotional and historical tone of the second one (minus the misleading visual that comes at the end) while also being awed by the visual spectacle of the first one. Which of the three would YOU have wanted me to prioritize?]