Hi, my name is D and this is my writings on subjects. I'm no rapscallion or anything at all. If you want to you can read my writings on subjects if you have free time. If you want to argue with me or call me names then please comment. Negative feedback is very welcome...I love dat shit. Me? I'm not even a noun, I'm a fucking verb, dude.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Basketball Movies

I read many years ago to this day that there will be a Space Jam number 2 .... and that was probably in 2001. The year is now 2017 and still there is only one entry in to the pantheon of Space Jam films. The latest reports say there will be a Space Jam 2 released in 2019 ... but they've been saying that as the day is old, I can tell you that much. I'll believe there will be a Space Jam 2 when these tired old eyes of mine see it on the Big Screen.

Personally, I didn't even think, judging by movie-rating standards that Space Jam One was even that great a movie. The thing that the 1996 version of Myself liked about Space Jam was that it collided Universes together. It took three separate entities ... 1) the World of Basketball, 2) the World of Hollywood, and the 3) the World of Old School Cartoons .... and smashed these Worlds together to form a totally unique Universe in which it was normal for Cartoons, Basketball Men, and Hollywood Stars to exist together.

It was this collision of Worlds that generated this sense of surreal imaginary bewilderment and silliness that I liked about it. I've noticed this Surreal Imaginary Bewilderment before ... stuff like Roger Rabbit movie for one, or when Mr. T from the A-Team merged with Wrestling and fought Roddy Piper, or back when SquareSoft bought the rights to put Disney characters in video games and merged the worlds of Mickey Mouse with the world of Final Fantasy (I still don't know how anyone approved this idea in a board room but to be honest it isn't as bad as it sounds.)

When you make a fiction-based World in art creation for entertainment purposes, you are in a sense baking an Apple Pie from Scratch as one Carl Sagan once said, the rules which govern your fictionally created Universe do not and should not be based on the same rules that govern our Real-Life Scenario Universe. You have free reign to make your World based on many interesting possibilities.

In that SquareSoft Disney game they made for example, it was Surreally strange when you first enter it. I was familiar with both the World of Mickey Mouse and the World of Final Fantasy and their entertainment-based Universes. The pre-cursor to this was probably that Mario SNES Square game where Mario fights Culex the Crystal God complete with Final Fantasy Boss Music. The Square Disney game for PS2 went further and like totally merged the Disney Brand with the Square Brand. It was hard to wrap your head around it at first, but it turned out to be good. The brain has fun I guess entering into this merged scenario and thinking .... "Ok, so Donald Duck is gonna fight Sephiroth now? Ok this is odd. I don't summon Ifrit or Ramuh anymore I summon Bambi????"

Space Jam One was more than two Worlds colliding it was THREE. Hollywood + Basketball + Looney Tunes. Again, I'm not sure how this idea came up but I can't say it turned out badly.

Fuck, I gotta wait til 2019 for Space Jam 2 to re-unite this tri-fecta of Universes? I got the Basketball Jones right about a time called Right Now though, baby. I'm sleepin' with a basketball under my pillow and maybe that's why I cannot sleep at night. That Basketball? It's like a Basketball to me. Yes it is.

Looks like I'm gonna rate a buncha basketball movies and if you want you can read what I write....

I'm not gonna cover Dramatic Basketball movies though because I don't like that genre. The first thing that comes to my mind when I think of Basketball is the Harlem Globetrotters and that jazzy song that they have. Basketball to me is 70s, Afros, whacky stuff .... that's what I think about when I think of Basketball. I don't really get the Basketball Dramas .... there's a lot too like He Got Games, and a lot of coach ones. It usually mixes gangster drug dealer story arcs with a side-order of basketball these movies and is filled with hood-movie cliches that you'd see made fun of in Keenan Ivory Wayans movies. The drug dealer cleans up his act through basketball but dies before making the NBA type stuff. There's even a drug dealer hood basketball movie starring Leo DeCarprio in it ... I'm not sure what the casting director had in mind there casting Leo DeCraprio in a hood basketball crack-head movie. I'm not gonna cover any Basketball Dramas and I'm gonna skip the Basketball Mystery Who-Done-it film "The Playaz Court" too (which I think had Mac from Night Court in it).

There's some really not-so-good ones that are being omitted too which aren't dramas but I don't have enough to write about them. Mister Kotter's coach one is not really drama but it's not that good. Celtic Pride with Akroyd and Damon Wayans and the guy from Home Alone is not good enough to write about either. There's a Will Ferrell one that has the 70s afro mystique I'm looking for but I don't remember it well, all these Ferrell movies just blob together in your mind, I know there's one where he flies out of Montreal's Olympic Stadium at the end like an angel but that's the skating one right? I've seen the Will Ferrell basketball movie but I really don't remember anything at all about it.

White Men Can't Jump was a very good movie that started a beautiful friendship between Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson and proved that a white guy and a black guy can be powerful best friends. I'm not leaving White Men Can't Jump out for any particular reason, I like this one, it's very good, but I can't cover everything or we'll be here all night.

Okie dokie....

"Everybody get up it's time to slam now, we got a real jam goin' down ... Welcome to the Space Jam!"

In 1996 the world changed forever as the Universes of Hollywood, Basketball, and Cartoons all collided. The viewing audience was ushered into a world of intrigue and total immersive imagination as Three Worlds we knew well were all inter-connected together for the first and maybe last time.

Many of my generation's brothers and sisters still remember where they were when this movie came out, it sticks out in our memories as the moment the impossible became the possible.

Basketball, Hollywood, Cartoons ... together. At last. United as One Forever and for Always. Their bond seemed odd and difficult for many to understand and accept but when the dust settled and the audience exited the theater they all collectively knew one thing....

.... that the memories formed in our hearts and minds that day could never be taken away from us. The collision of Worlds that no one thought possible was proven for one and all to see. The merger of sound upon pictures and pictures upon motion of these Three Thought-to-be-Impossible-to-Bond Worlds ... were Bonded. Anything Became Possible.

Space Jam in its purest form represents unification. Unification of Impossible Dreams that which now have been Achieved can Never Be Broken. 

Space Jam is NOT about a group of Cartoons, Newman from Seinfeld, Bill Murray, and others united behind Michael Jordan to defeat an inter-galactic group of Monsters/Gangsters at a game of basketball ... it is about the Bonding and Unification of Impossible Dreams which once bonded have no choice but to become...

.... A Reality.

- Final Rating -
Music: 72
Acting: 73
BONUS: Unification of Universes: +15

Final Score: 89

2. Slam Dunk Ernest

I covered this film at great lengths in one of my many extra-long Ernest articles. Please see here for my official opinion of the great film Slam Dunk Ernest if you are interested in knowing my official opinion on that subject:

See: https://writtting-d.blogspot.ca/2016/01/palette-cleanser-lets-rate-more-ernest.html

It truly is a wonderfully crafted masterpiece and might even be considered if I ever sit down and contemplate compiling the 50 Greatest Movies of Any Genre of Any Era of All Time which I might do one day but maybe like 20 years from now after I see what the 2020s and 2030s have to offer up, y'knowhatimean?

- Final Rating -
Filmatography: 86
Music: 61
Acting: 93
BONUS: Unification of Universes: N/A

Final Score: 80

3. Cornbread, Earl, and Me
"My name? My naaaaame is Corn Bread. His name is Cornbread. Cooooornbread. My name is Corn Bread. My naaaame is Corn Bread!"

I like this film, I think it's well directed and well filmed ... the only reason I didn't file this away with the other dramas and leave it out is because there's something about this film that I find humorous even though it's not intended to be.

Let's set up a bit first. This is a good movie and the acting and everything is great. It fits the mold of "youth finds way out of ghetto but tragically dies the day before he gets out" trope which is common in Basketball Dramas slash Hood Flics. The sequence where this talented basketball youth suffers an untimely death is beautifully filmed in the pouring rain and is dramatic and well done .... but .... the character who dies in this scene is the character named "Cornbread".

Look, if I was a writer and I was gonna write a very touchingly sad, dramatic type scene where a main character dies in the pouring rain, blood flowing down the street mixing with the pouring rain ... I'd probably make that character this tragedy happens to the "Earl" named one or something like that, or even have changed it to Cornelius which is a more standard Corn-based Name. If you do this build up and name the character Cornbread you wind up with everyone in your beautifully dramatic scene yelling things like "Cornbread NOOOOOO", "they KILLED CORNBREAD!", "Oh my GOD NOT CORNBREEAAAAAAAD!!!!!" .... it adds a layer of silliness to an otherwise great scene ... look here (it starts around the 5 minute mark in that video below):

The pacing, the music, the rain, the acting, everything is PERFECT, it's literally a beautifully filmed scene ... but the writers named the character that has such an emotional death scene here Corn Bread. Why Corn Bread? You know every actor is gonna be yelling this name with distress, pain, and anger ... you know that so why name that character Corn Bread for? It really sillies-up a very emotional scene.

I saw this in another movie once, that movie the Outsiders with C. Thomas Howell does this too by naming characters silly things. You get this in the Outsiders where like some kid is yelling "No! Why Sodie Pop!? Why! Why did you do it Sodie Pop!? Why did you sell out Pony Boy for!? What did the Pony Boy ever do to you Sodie Pop!?"

Those Keenan Wayans movies satirize this well, I find. There's one where a guy named "June Bug" dies, I think in "I'm Gunna Git You Sucka" and it's like "WHY JUUUUUNE BUUG! NOT JUNE BUG!!!!!! ANYONE BUT JUUUNE BUG!!!! HOW CAN YA TAKE JUNE BUG AWAY FROM US!??? JUNE BUG WAS SOOO YOUNG!!!! NOOO! WHY!?"

 - Final Rating -
Filmatography: 81
Music: 77 (His name? Well, his name is Cornbread)
Acting: 72
BONUS: Unification of Universes: N/A

Final Score: 77

4. Juwanna Mann

This is my jam right here. Juwanna Mann. If I see this masterpiece on the TV... for some reason I always have to watch it. It's good.

This is the story of a bad-attitude self-centered basketball player who's arrogance and Rodman-esque behavior runs him out of the league.

So what does he do? He dresses up like a chick and joins the WNBA like any sane person would do if faced with a similar situation.

It's got In Living Color people in it like Kim Wayans and Tommy Davidson ... Davidson's even in character as that broke-ass record producer character he used to do with David Allan Grier. The lead is portrayed by Miguel A. Nunez Jr who's very good as the leading man/lady. Miguel has range, son. He's got range.

This movie came about a decade or so after Lady Bugs which was a Rodney Dangerfield vehicle where Rodney makes his step-son dress up like a girl so he can lead his boss's girls soccer team to the big victory. Ladybugs is such a wonderful film, very well crafted. This gender bender sports film format works, I gotta say. Man, I should do a "Rodney Movie" review next but it would mean having to re-watch some distant Rodney Movies and some of them aren't that great so I dunno, maybe not.

 - Final Rating -
Filmatography: 73
Music: 77
Acting: 88
BONUS: Unification of Universes: N/A

Final Score:  79

 5. The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh 
It's the Fish havencha havencha heard? It's the Fish havencha havencha heard? It's the .... FISH THAAT SAAAAAVED PITTSBURGH!!!" 

Alright, I've seen this. Obviously not when it was in drive-in theaters because I was not even born yet. I saw this only a few years ago after I saw someone, I think TV's Frank, tweet a joke about it.

I'm going into this thinking, from the title, okay so ... there's a fish, right, and it's gonna save Pittsburgh through Basketball? Is that what's going on here? Obviously as a man with an imagination similar to my own I began speculating how a fish was gonna save Pittsburgh through Basketball-related means and I must confess my mind came up with some pretty whacky routes to go with this thing. Aqua Man from Super Friends springs to mind, anthropomorphic basketball playing fish monsters come to mind, maybe a mermaid .... 

Pass to me Fish Man! I'm Open!
...but it turns out the "fish" that saved the steel city was just the concept of Pisces from that voodoo shtick astrology. Yup, there's no god damned fish monsters who play basketball in this movie which I must say is stupid. You know if you name a movie something like this that an audience is gonna drive up to the drive in, buy popcorn, buy drinks, plug the thingie into their car radio to hear the audio and whatnot, then patiently wait through the opening credits to see some Fish Men or Fish Monsters play basketball for some sort of Championship ... but No. The fish is just a "concept" in astrology ... there's NO FISH IN THIS MOVIE! NONE WHAT-SO-EVER! NONE! NO FISH AT ALL!

Still, when the dust settles and you come to grips that there's no talking bass shooting threes, or no carp hitting jumpers, or no octopuses blocking multiple men with their multiple arms you can still appreciate this film for what it is ... and thats, a feel good yarn about this rag tag group of misfits (who all HAPPEN TO BE THE SAME ASTROLOGICAL VOODOO SIGN) who win the big big game!

There's just one scene in this film that stuck out as "I wouldn't do a scene like that" and that's when the Whiz Kid, who's a child prodigy with a divine knowledge of astrology at a very young age, approaches the leader of his local basketball team in hopes of offering his tactical astrological projections to the team in order to help them win the big game .... and this scene occurs in a sauna basically. The leader of the team is sitting naked in a hot bath while the kid makes his astrological pitch to him ... why this setting for this scene? Couldn't the kid make the pitch at like a restaurant or something or outside the arena? Why is this scene set in the locker room bathroom? Like the kid is trying to tell this naked dude that he can help his team through the mysterious wonders of astrology .... and the naked dude is shifting in the tub and you can see like parts dangerously close to his groin as he shifts ... and it's like .... why do this scene in the fucking bathroom for!?

Whatever it's still a great film, I must say. The theme is played often enough that you just kind of sit back and wait for that theme to be played again. Holy shit is this some kind of number. Here, listen to this shit:

Oh fuck. I honestly love this song. I love it. It's amazing! It got some jam on it too. Yeah. But for real, my jam for once and for always is The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh .... Yeah. It 'aint a joke, 'aint a jive, it's all about a team of 5 just tryin' to stay alive! No Super man, No Spider man, No Six Million Dollar Man not even Wonder Woman's man ..... such a dream, could it be, so far from reality now it's just history ....

........................................... HATS OFF TO THE FISH.

 - Final Rating -
Filmatography: 62
Music: 133 (Limit BREAKER!)
Acting: 62
BONUS: Unification of Universes: N/A

Final Score:  86

Post-Final Ratings Assessment:

Space Jam: 89
The "Fish" that "Saved" Pittsburgh: 86
Slam Dunk Ernest: 80
Juwanna Mann: 79
Cornbread, Earl, and Me: 77

Space Jam wins ... but you know something ..... Yeah I respect Space Jam for doing what it did .... but there's a twinkle in my most human of hearts that thinks the 2019 entry to the Space Jam lore is gonna suck. I dunno, I think it will suck. I mean how can you tell people there's gonna be a Space Jam sequel for like 20 years and then never do one ... and now like 25 years after the first one there's gonna be a new Space Jam. Well, you know what Space Jam? You waited too long. You waited too long, Space Jam. There's a large part of me that wants NO PART in viewing the Space Jam sequel.

Call me bitter, call me stubborn ... but I don't know if I can bring these tired old eyes of mine to watch the next Space Jam movie. I don't think I can.....

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Hans Rosling

Hans Rosling passed away today. I was a fan of his life's work. I wrote about him in an article once a while back,

This One: https://writtting-d.blogspot.ca/2014/09/a-tuesday-comparison-comparin-writings.html

In that 2014 article, I compared one T. Malthus' viewpoints to children fighting over toys and pondered whether the Malthus viewpoint was obsolete and whether a new popular statistician could shape the world view in future years. It was good, it got hits.

Most people in North America wouldn't consider smart people as inspirational role-models but I think Hans Rosling's work was inspirational to a large degree.

Through his work with Gap Minder and other places he aimed to show that science and technology is making large headway in the battle against global poverty levels. Through his talks on various websites and tv outlets he often attempted to counter the popular viewpoint that the "Third World" was a cess-pool of violence, over population, and savagery .... people in the "First World" tend to think Africa or India or someplace is still living in like the 1500s ... but it's not the case at all. Using quizzes he would often ask an audience what they thought the birth rate was per woman in the "Third World" and usually 95% would get it wrong. He'd ask questions about child mortality and vaccination rates and again about 95% of the First World audience would get it wrong. People in the "First World" really still have the view that certain continents are cess pools of violence and degradation but that's not the case at all.

Humanity really should be proud of how many of its members have rised up and out of poverty. We've come a long way, honey we truly have. We should really be proud of ourselves in that regard ... even though we still have a lot of work to do in terms of global poverty.

According to a book I read once, "The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities of Our Time" by one Jeffrey Sachs ....

We've gone from:

in 1901: 99% of Humanity Living in Poverty
in 1981: 56% of Humanity Living in Poverty
in 2001: 44% of Humanity Living in Poverty

... and according to World Bank estimates ... in 2017 about 11% of Humanity is Living in Extreme Poverty.

In 1901 only the 1% of super duper rich people had things like enough food, access to clean water, sanitary toilets/amenities and now by 2017 only 116 years later 89% of Humans Worldwide have these things. That's pretty good. Through GapMinder you can see videos of graphs of these stats and how they increase over time. You can see how much gain we've made into child mortality rates, poverty rates, and other factors.

Rosling was also an exceptional teacher who was able to take these concepts and teach them worldwide using the simplest of visual tools and language. His talks and seminars took difficult statistical relationships and analysis and explained them in the simplest and easiest to understand of terms. Taking difficult things and explaining them to people in easy terms is the hallmark of a good educator. He was an exceptional educator.

Through the advancements of Science and Technology we've made a lot of headway into solving many global problems. People really forget how much progress we've actually made in the last century. People can say what they want about Humanity and Society about how bad it is ... but looking at the stats on Gap Minder and understanding just how far we've come .... people like Rosling really reminded us that humanity has a lot of room for good as well. We've come a long way baby, and people who operate on a fact-based world-view really should recognize Rosling for how much he promoted a fact-based statistically-proven view of the world around us and our understanding of it.

Stats for me started on the backs of O-Pee-Chee baseball cards .... and now Stats are a huge part of my fact-based worldview. I love stats, man.

Like I ended the 2014 article, I still believe that Humanity is heading to an era where thanks to Science and Technology we will all "live like millionaires" with an infinite abundance of renewable energy resources, food resources, and clean water resources. I still abide by that original conclusion that Malthus is finished and that Statisticians like Rosling are the new Big Name Statisticians of Tomorrow. Hans Rosling's life work was very inspirational and important.