Another NFL Story, Certainly The Most Bizarre In A Bizarre Year – Kicker Rob Bironas Dies

This is one bizarre story.

Rob Bironas, longtime kicker for the Tennessee Titans, died last month under very odd circumstances. CNNSI.com put together a piece on the death which you can read HERE. I had thought that Bironas might be headed to the Denver Broncos when Matt Prater was suspended early this season. The kicker had completed a try out with the Detroit Lions in the days before his death.

It’s all very strange and sad.

 

bironas

Bironas kicking against the Denver Broncos December 8, 2013. The Broncos dominated the Titans, winning 51 – 28. Picture from espn.com.

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The Best Sequential Art I Read This Week: 9.24.14 – 9.30.14

Beginning, anew, a weekly feature from last year… Here is this fall’s first installment of The Best Sequential Art I Read This Week.

I am a comic book collector and happy to be sure. I might say “proud” if I hadn’t, over a year ago, switched to reading digital as opposed to print comics. I feel a bit robbed of the tactile sensations of the hobby – of the turn of the page, the sneaking look to the panel a page over, the bagging and shorting and stacking and filing. Though I read my comics in a different medium than I used to, I still treat each Wednesday (comic book delivery day to specialty shops around the country) as different from the other days of the week. I subscribe and now, rather than go to the comic store to be handed the books pulled for my “Hold Slot,” I click a button on my iPad and watch them download.

Then I read them.

Rare is the week that I don’t read them all between Wednesdays and some weeks I have, well… let’s just say more comic books in my digital downloads than a grown man should. Comic book legend Will Eisner (creator of The Spirit) is one of the most influential men even to put pencil to drawing board in the pursuit of making comics. So influential was he that the industry awards (think the Oscars or the Emmys or the Grammys) are named The Eisner Awards. He called comic books “sequential art,” perhaps because he became embarrassed by his profession when he had to admit what he did for a living. This is my weekly reaction to the comics I read.

I read 9 comics last week: Batman Eternal #25, Booster Gold: Futures End #1, Superman: Doomed #2, Superman: Futures End #1, Star Trek #37, Star Trek Harlan Ellison’s City on the Edge of Forever #4, Amazing Spider-Man #1.5, Edge of Spider-Verse #3 and New Avengers #24.

The comic that most arrested my attention, that I thought was the best read of the week and that I most enjoyed was Star Trek Harlan Ellison’s City on the Edge of Forever #4.

City Cover

The cover of Star Trek Harlan Ellison’s City on the Edge of Forever #4, published by IDW Comics.

 

The story of City on the Edge of Forever, one of the most famous Star Trek episodes, is pretty interesting to Trekkers like me. Author Harlan Ellison turned in a script that was brilliant, but a bit out of keeping with the characterizations the show was trying, in its first season, to establish for its cast. It also included visuals that would be almost impossible to produce. Did I mention it referenced an illicit drug trade on the USS Enterprise?

So, yeah, there were issues with the script. But the core story was so good that the story we re-written and became a classic episode, perhaps THE classic episode.

And Ellison never wrote for Star Trek again.

The above is an oversimplification of a complex story, but the result has been this comic book from IDW Publishing. It is a five-part adaptation of the original Ellison teleplay written by Scott and David Tipton and drawn by J. K. Woodward. And it’s been really, really good.

The Tipton brothers have really captured the feel of the original series and Woodward’s art is spectacular. Take a look:

City page

A page of art by J. K. Woodward. The artist is creating beautiful work for this book!

Normally, a licensed adaptation feels like “fanboy service.” The Junior Senator could write an entire blog post about that. Star Trek Harlan Ellison’s City on the Edge of Forever doesn’t feel that way at all. It’s a compelling story. It’s beautiful to look at. I am sorry it ends in one more issue!

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And There Came A Trailer – Think Steve Carell Is Just A Funny Man? Think Again.

Composing a review of This Is Where I Leave You (which can be found HERE), I was reminded of my favorite Steve Carrell movie Dan in Real Life. And, in thinking of that film, I was thinking of the vast potential that Carrell has, how talented he is and the odd choices he seems to make for his film career.

He’s coming out this fall in two films and one of them is very buzz worthy (and I am not talking about Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day) and promises to showcase a Steve Carrell we’ve not seen on-screen before…

Based on a true story, it’s called Foxcatcher and you can see the preview below. Be warned. This isn’t the Steve Carrell we’ve come to know and love.

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This Is Where I Leave You – A Movie Review

This Is Where I Leave You is a relatively pleasant, fairly entertaining, sometimes oddly crass family “dramedy” – pretty standard fare, honestly, that is completely elevated by its terrific cast. It’s not that the film’s writing, plot and themes aren’t good. They’re fine. They’re just not particularly surprising in any way. For a movie that has its characters literally tell the audience over-and-over that life is complicated, the movie itself follows a pretty formulaic route. I liked where the journey ended, but it didn’t surprise me. No, what held my attention was the actors in the movie.

The film tells the story of the Altman family and we join them at a juncture every family must face the aftermath of the death of their father. The Altman family is in various states of estrangement from each other as they return to the family home for the funeral and begin to re-connect, for better or for worse. Mom is a little crazy (but it’s Jane Fonda’s wearing that crazy, so it’s very worth watching), older brother (the always reliable Corey Stoll) has followed Dad into the family business, youngest brother (Adam Driver is well cast in this role and draws attention each time he’s onscreen – he’s obviously about to break out) is recklessly irresponsible, only sister (Tina Fey showing remarkable depth here, taking a one-note role and doing something special with it) is married with kids and trapped by a stereotypical jerk of a husband, and the middle brother is painfully boxed in by the safe and predictable life he chose for himself.

Middle brother, Judd Altman, is played by Jason Bateman and the film is really his story. The movie opens on him and closes on him and it’s his character arc around which the movie revolves. This works out well because Bateman is perfectly cast as Judd. Judd’s life is coming apart at the seams (dad dies, wife has affair, job is lost – can we give this guy one more stressor?) and he feels incapable of coping with it. Adding to his misery is this forced homecoming following his father’s funeral. Bateman, in a nuanced performance, lets the audience know that Judd is uncomfortable at home without telling the audience why.  Bateman is at his best here, able to create a relationship with the audience that allows us to laugh with him, laugh at him and sympathize with him when the times comes. He more than anyone else in the film makes the movie work and his chemistry with the other actors is the movie’s strongest selling point.

There are genuine laughs here – most of them from Bateman, Fey and Driver – and the movie is entertaining overall. However, it veers off, at times, into some pretty over-the-top content and there is, of course, the obligatory “let’s get high and reveal our true feelings” scene (it would be both creative and refreshing to see characters able to reveal their true feelings without getting altered). When some of the jokes fall flat and seem a bit out-of-place it’s primarily because many of the situations the Altmans encounter simply would simply not happen in a typical life.

Perhaps we’re supposed to understand that life isn’t and shouldn’t be “typical.” If that’s the case, I wish the film itself weren’t so by-the-numbers.

Every movie like this wants to be The Big Chill or, perhaps, I want every movie like this to be The Big Chill. Either way, there are some plot points lifted directly out of that classic. This Is Where I Leave You also owes a bit of its story to the Alan Alda written and directed The Four Seasons. I liked both of those movies so it’s no surprise that I liked This Is Where I Leave You as well. At its best, This Is Where I Leave You plays like a thematic continuation of Dan in Real Life and its most mediocre, it plays like a Lifetime television movie.

In between, there is enough good here, especially in terms of the acting, to keep an audience entertained.

This Is Where I Leave You receives FOUR Princess Cuts out of a possible FIVE.

 

This Is Where I Leave You

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And There Came Some Stamps – Batman And The United States Post Office

I will be at the Post Office on October 9. Look what’s coming:

BAT-STAMPS!

Batman Stamps

The only question is how many sheets of these I am likely to buy… no, wait, there’s one more question: will I actually use them to mail anything?

That’s a tough one.

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Teachers Are Leaders – Quote And Comment Of The Week Sept 29 – Oct 5

Weekly during the 2014-2015 school year, And There Came A Day will begin the week with a quote and quick thought about Ignatian education.

You are not your idea, and if you identify too closely with your ideas, you will take offense when they are challenged.
~  Ed Catmull

There is a great power in letting go. In Ignatian terms, letting go may be categorized as “indifference.” We should not one thing more than another but understand that God can be served in many ways. When we are too tied to our own ideas, we forget that simple truth.

sun in hands

Picture from godinallthings.com.

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What’s Worth Watching Fall 2014 – black*ish

Judging by its pilot episode, black*ish, a new family comedy that ABC is trying to pair with its hit Modern Family, doesn’t seem to quite know what it wants to be. And, because of that, it doesn’t quite work.

The hook for the show is that Anthony Anderson, who plays the Andre Roberts, is a dad concerned that his family is losing touch with their cultural roots, hence the “-ish” suffix. That’s the high concept for the series, and it’s an intriguing one, but the show doesn’t quite seem to know how to handle it, expect beating the audience over the head with it.

As a family comedy about an upper class African-American family living in Los Angeles, the pilot hits most of the right notes. While not exactly breaking new ground, there are some fun moments among the characters. Laurence Fishburne as live-in grandfather Pops gets the best lines and the kids, as kids are in these kinds of shows, are pretty cute. Anderson himself has some genuinely funny moments, mainly when engaging with the actors playing his children.

As a work place comedy (Andrews is promoted to Senior Vice President of the Urban Division at his ad firm during the pilot), it’s less successful. The concept that Anderson is upset that “Urban” is attached to his new title is fairly interesting, but is so wildly over-played that the results of his frustration border on the outlandish. Anderson’s character’s reactions to the title both at home and at work are unrealistic in the extreme.

As an “inventive” comedy, the show tries a number of things that they seem to think are novel. The show takes on race, head on. While that may not be novel, the show doesn’t shy away from trying to illustrate complex issues about race and it should be praised for that. That’s heady stuff for a half hour sitcom. The show also illustrates Anderson’s thought processes on-screen filming fantasy sequences and adding captions over the action. While these might be interesting in the long-run and distinguish black*ish from other situation comedies, they are simply distracting here and seem out-of-place.

There are some good moments, though. The aforementioned family comedy pieces of the show are it’s best ones and Tracee Ellis Ross is engaging and Anderson’s wife. Fishburne is very watchable here. Perhaps the show will settle in quickly as a family comedy counter-part to Modern Family. I think the show has that kind of potential. It’s potential as something greater is yet to be seen.

And, while the Cinnamon Girl and I will give black*ish another week, watching the premiere, I found myself lamenting the loss of Trophy Wife, a better family-based situation comedy that aired in this time slot for ABC last year.

black*ish * Premiere Date – Wednesday, September 24 * ABC

THIS ONE MIGHT BE WORTH WATCHING.

CONSIDER SETTING YOUR DVRs.

Blackish-logo

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