Movies and Shows
Coach Korn and his band of merry basketball warriors triumphed. In that, there was no surprise. It was the trials and travails along the way that made their journey compelling. Will Coach Holly be on their arch rival’s bench next year? L and I hope there is a season two so we find out. Jessalyn Gilsig could coach my team anytime.
Spring Baking Championship
Finally finished this. The thing about these baking competition shows is the best folks almost always win. Which is how it should be. But, sometimes, the best baker slips up. That happened this year, when Veruska, who was clearly the best of this season’s bunch, had a poor showing in the semifinals and got sent home. Still, Keya was a worthy winner based on her finals performance.
State of Play
In May I started working through a master list of best espionage films I cobbled together from various lists gathered online. I don’t remember this at all from when it came out, so it was totally new to me. Russell Crowe was excellent as a Washington reporter looking into the mysterious death of a congressman’s aide. That congressman, played to smarmy perfection by Ben Affleck, just happened to be his college roommate, which led to interesting angles. Suspenseful, but the story tried a little too hard to be tricky and twisty at the end. Robin Wright Penn and Rachel McAdams were also excellent, and Jason Bateman filled a very Jason Bateman-ey role.
L is a big fan of Chadwick Boseman. She watched a feature about him and wanted to go back and catch up on his films she had not seen. We started here. Both the sisters drifted through early in the film and S decided to educate them on who Jackie Robinson was. All the girls scoffed, “MOM, we learn about him in school!” Given the current state of education, and all the snowflake conservative parents who can’t let their kids be introduced to different perspectives, you can’t fault S for thinking it would be verboten to discuss Robinson’s role in breaking down racial barriers. Props to St P’s for doing so, although we hear there are some asshole younger parents in the parish who will probably find it offensive that we celebrate the end of segregation.
The girls were taken quite aback and how naked and ugly the hate thrown toward Robinson was, though. It’s good for them to see that, and understand a lot of that raw hate is bubbling back up again.
For All Mankind, season two
Season two of this alternate history of the space program jumps ahead from 1975 to 1983. Episode one begins with a fun “summary” of how the world had progressed over those years. Ronald Reagan defeated Ted Kennedy in 1976 and was reelected in 1980. John Lennon was shot at but survived; Pope John Paul II did not survive his assassination attempt. The US hockey team was crushed by the Soviets in the 1980 Winter Olympics. Prince Charles married Camila Parker Bowles rather than Diana Spencer. And, later, one of the biggest real news stories of 1983 plays a major role in the second half of the season.
More importantly the US and Soviet Union have large, constantly-populated bases on the moon and the space programs are massive parts of each country’s budget and national mission. There are near-constant flights to and from the moon, ferrying replacement crews and supplies. In 1983 tensions are climbing, though, and they reach a peak late in this season that pushed the nations to the brink of war both in space and on earth.
This season did a fine job showing how the weight of the program weighed on the people involved in it, from the astronauts and administrators of NASA to their families and friends.
The space stuff is, again, cool. The whole What If premise of the series is even more fascinating this season as it is total fiction. Who knows what would have happened had the US and USSR pushed each other in space into the ‘80s? Without any real history here, the writers could really go crazy. And they did, in the best possible way.
There were a few downsides to this season. I did not like one plot line in particular. It was telegraphed through much of the season and when it finally happened, I was greatly disappointed. I also kept doing the math on how old some of the characters really were, too. Could a guy who flew in the Korean War really have been an active NASA pilot in 1983? And would his wife looked as hot as she did? There were a few moments of clunky writing, too. And the massive earth/moon confrontation the entire season was built around got resolved way too easily.
Those quibbles aside, it was a really good season, culminating in two final episodes that had tons of fast-pulse moments.
One reason I started watching the show was someone, I forget who, that I follow on some platform mentioned that the season was good but the plot twist that comes late in the finale just blew him away. I had that in the back of my mind while I’ve watched these 20 episodes. Even so, I was totally blindsided when the twist hit. I had no freaking clue it was coming, and the final scene that leads up to it plus the reveal were outstanding.
The closing sequence for the season shows boots on Mars in 1995. So I guess we know where we’re jumping to next.
Season two expanded on, and improved on, the base season one set. That puts a lot of pressure on season three to continue that arc.
The latest Pixar movie. It doesn’t live up to the classics, but it’s a perfectly fine way to spend a couple hours with your kids. Or with your house guests who are 6, 3, and 2.
Raya and the Last Dragon
Another family movie we watched with our guests.
Back to the Future
L noticed that the Back to the Future movies were disappearing from Netflix on June 30 and wanted to try to watch them all in their final three days. We got about halfway through the first before she went to bed Sunday night. Then she finished it without me the next day. Rude! She didn’t have time to get to parts two or three, so kind of a failed exercise.
Even watching only half, this will always be an A+
The Old Guard
Why not finish the month with a double dose of Charlize Theron kicking ass? Atomic Blonde was absolutely amazing in every aspect. The story. The visuals. The soundtrack. The general vibe. And Charlize kicking commie ass in Berlin in the final days before the Wall came down.
The Old Guard was much slower to get going and only redeemed itself with a solid last 20 minutes. A very interesting premise: immortal warriors who heal themselves from any wounds and have lived through, in some cases, thousands of years, are being targeted by a British, Big Pharma Bro in hopes of harnessing their genetic secrets for his financial gain. But it’s a chore to get to the payoff scenes, and some of the dialogue seemed almost an afterthought. The end is all about setting the base for a series of sequels to follow. Not sure they will be high on my list.
Juggling From Above
Jumping from 25,000 feet without a parachute
Nope, nope, a thousands times, nope.
Lovely shutter sounds of 18 cameras from 135 full frame to 810 large format
Who knew there were so many different shutter sounds for cameras? That Rolleiflex 3003 near the beginning is bonkers.
What Really Happened at the Hernando de Soto Bridge?
I think our political leaders in Washington should watch this. Knowing damage like this is probably present at countless other bridges around the country, it might give them the kick in the ass they need to agree on an infrastructure bill.
I watched some of Mat Watson’s car videos during my research process and they were always entertaining. This piece is a terrific comparison of two sporty, high-end electric vehicles, the Audi e-tron and a Tesla Model S, driving over 500 miles through the United Kingdom. I did not consider EVs at all in my research process. That may change the next time I need a new car.
And then this dropped the last week of June. I may have to subscribe to Carwow’s videos, because I really like Watson’s work.
Restoring a Tissot 1853 watch
This is pretty impressive. Taking a watch that seems to be utterly destroyed and, through meticulous effort, making it not only run again but look beautiful in the process.
Meh. I mean, it’s cool to see great whites just kind of cruising and being normal. But, come on. When it comes to great whites we want carnage.