Five things that impressed, appalled, or otherwise held my attention for more than 15 seconds during the past week:
01 – Okay. In this time of baseball all-star hoopla, let us take time to acknowledge the crap-tastic first half of the Yankees season, where nothing seemed to go right, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays were the Lucy to our Charlie Brown, our usual misery against the middling teams of the central division continued unabated, couldn't win games where we scored less than a baker’s dozen, and created a big enough image of tarnished glory and newfound oaf-dom that Derek Jeter actually missed making the All-Star team.
And yet, here we are at the halfway point of the season, and the Yanks are only two games out of the Wild Card, and two and a half games behind the division-leading Red Sox. I . . . it’s . . . whuh? This is reminding me of those Bills seasons where you know the team isn’t going anywhere, and in the back of your head you’re just hoping they tank the rest of the season and at least get a high draft pick in exchange for your misery. But no. They win a few games, they stay with the pack, they’re “mathematically alive” in the playoff hunt until the bitter end, when they finish 7-9, pick 16th in the draft, ruining both your winter AND your spring.
That’s what this Yankees team reminds me of. We can’t rebuild if you keep scraping by, y’all!
Still, I look at the talent on this team – talent that could all of a sudden realize how good it’s supposed to be, freaking act like it, purchase a fire in their belly off of eBay, and go on a tear that could cut a deep swath into the playoffs if they got their collective shit together – and there’s no way I can root for them to go in the tank. There’s that stupid glimmer of hope.
Is this what it was like to be a Red Sox fan? Knowing your team was shit and teasing yourself that things were otherwise? God. I’ve become everything I’ve every despised.
(Closer, Six Feet, and Rob Schnieder await if you click below)
02 – Switching gears from revulsion to . . . well, severe revulsion, I did a movie double feature yesterday and saw Fantastic Four and Land of the Dead. Reviews are forthcoming, but for now I feel the need to mention that before both movies I was “treated” to the trailer for the latest in cinematic excellence: Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo. You guys, not only does it look mind-saddeningly stupid (honestly, your brain will cry), and not only is it depressing to find that the well of physical and emotional abnormalities that a woman could possibly possess is evidently bottomless, but . . . come on. Rob Schnieder. Is starring in a movie. In 2005. We haven’t evolved past this? We walk upright now, we’ve long since shed our dorsal fins, and we’ve passed the point where Rob Schneider is a relevant human being. Right?
03 – Finally managed to purchase the Closer DVD this weekend. Got to take a second look at the film I consider second best of 2004. I was not wrong, folks. It’s maybe better upon a second viewing. The dialogue cuts so deep, the performances are so good, the pacing is expert . . . that’s one thing I noticed this time that I didn’t before. Mike Nichols did such a good job moving this story along. It effing hums. The acting is good enough to keep our attention during the long sequences, then Nichols spirits off to another time and place. He doesn’t linger or ponder on emotional states. So. Good. Each two-person scene is a gem of its own. Portman and Owen in the strip club? God! Jude Law finally overplaying his hand at the end? The bookending Damien Rice montages? See, I generally don’t geek out over the usual movies like Batman Begins, even if I like them, and even if I totally get why everyone else does. I geek out over unpleasant, smartly written, sharply acted character dramas like this. Or haunting, atmospheric, sad dramas like The Hours. Or out-of-control existential lunacy like I Heart Huckabees. I’m no weirder than any of you. I’m just . . . adjacently weird.
04 – Props to this week’s Six Feet Under episode. First off, it brought back Patricia Clarkson and Kathy Bates, who, while they’ve been better on this show in the past, are always a shot in the arm. Clarkson’s seemingly exasperated “well maybe you’re not an artist" to Claire was invaluable. And speaking of Claire, I’m not always 100% on board with Alan Ball’s forays into the surreal, but getting to see Claire atop her desk, singing a hosiery-inspired variation on “You Light Up My Life”? Made the whole season worthwhile.
05 – So, how ‘bout that Washington press corps, huh? If you haven’t seen or read about their newfound piss and vinegar towards Scott McClellan and the White House in general, well, read this. And this. And then go watch this. And then begin to appreciate how a lot of people in this country have decided, seemingly all at once, to engage in a rousing chorus of “we’re not gonna take it anymore.”