Movies and Shows
A movie L picked for us to watch New Year’s Night. Roald Dahl stories are always wacky and this one did not disappoint in that sense. Very weird and maybe/likely offensive at times? I’m not sure, but I get how some folks were offended.
Backstory: The Tale of T’eo
Remember when we only had completely insane stories a few times a year? Now that they seem to happen almost daily we don’t get to really dive in and enjoy them the way we once did.
This hour-long piece looks back at and updates the Manti T’eo catfishing scandal of 2012. I had forgotten some of the details, and it was even crazier than I remembered. I’m still not sure what to think about the whole thing, mostly because it’s hard to know where the truth begins and ends even after nearly nine years.
I read Midnight in Chernobyl last year and was floored by it. It remains one of the best pieces of non-fiction I’ve ever read. I decided to cap off our month of HBOMax by reviewing this miniseries, also based on the nuclear accident at the Chernobyl power plant in current-day Ukraine. The series is also excellent, if not quite as memorable as the book. It has to cover the same material in a lot less time and suffers somewhat for that. But it still does a fine job of showing what happened, explaining how it happened, and the heroic efforts to save lives and secure the power plant. Episode five, which features the trial of the three men held most responsible for the accident, is especially powerful. And the soundtrack – filled with dissonant takes on traditional Russian music – was amazing in helping to set the tone.
Curb Your Enthusiasm, seasons 4–7
How I spent most of my month with HBOMax. At one point I was having dreams about the show. And I also found myself getting incredibly agitated over mundane details of daily life. Might have been a good thing to stop after four seasons.
Season 4, A-
Season 5, B
Season 6, A
Season 7, A
Although the show has left Netflix, Comedy Central still own rights to it. And they’ve been playing the hell out of it since it went to Peacock. At least five times this month I would be looking for something to watch, see that CC was airing a block of episodes, and spend the next couple hours watching several. Since they were all over the place in terms of season and episode, I’ll give the show an overall grade. Pretty much anytime Michael Scott is present you can expect to be entertained.
Documentarian Bryan Fogel set out to make a fascinating film: after finishing 15th in a prestigious bike race in France, he decided to spend the next year doping to see how he would compete by breaking the rules. He enlisted the foremost expert in the world on how to both dope and avoid being detected, Russian Grigory Rodchenkov. But in the midst of filming Rodchenkov became the center of one of the biggest drug scandals in world sports history, one which at times completely shut down the Russian Olympic team.
While there was some disjointedness from that transition, it was still a fascinating look at a man’s entire world crumbling around him. Regardless of what you think of PEDs and Rodchenkov at the beginning, it’s hard not to ignore his acts to upset the balance of athletic competitions and see the man who is separated from his family, estranged from his country, and likely in danger because of the people in Russia he has spoken out against.
What If We Nuke the Moon?
Rebuilding James Bond’s Apple IIc
Danny MacAskill – The Slabs
Holy shit. I can barely ride down a flat road. This is insane!
13 Seconds to the Moon, season 2
This season focused on the Apollo 13 mission, which suffered a near catastrophic explosion on the way to the moon and took a heroic effort by NASA to bring the crew home safely. Since it is focused on one mission, it is a little tighter than season one. And it dispels some myths Hollywood conjured up for the movie about the mission. Commander Jim Lovell is an absolute treasure, still sharp and funny in his early 90s. My favorite line, one I’ve heard him use in other contexts, came when asked about the mission’s earth re-entry, which took much longer than expected. This was a moment of high drama as the capsule was in a communications blackout as it raced through the earth’s atmosphere. Since they took longer to reestablish contact with Houston, the world was not sure if the crew had survived or not. Lovell’s explanation, “We decided to drag it out because we thought it would make for a good movie someday,” followed by his deep, joyous laughter.
After three years of making one of the most hilarious podcasts – golf-related, sports-centric, or otherwise – Mike and Eli finally unmasked themselves and transitioned to video this offseason. Like most listeners/viewers, I was shocked that they looked like normal dudes. Something about the way they presented themselves through three seasons of podcasting led me to believe that they were fat, bearded slobs. Turns out they’re good looking guys! Happily the humor and charm that carried the podcast has transitioned over to video, and this is a helpful tool to get golf fans through the cold months when we can’t play.