Tuesday, October 4, 2016

TV News and Notes...

ESPN 30 for 30-Phi Slama Jama
Running Time-1 Hour 30 Minutes.
Release Date:October 18, 2016.

It's finally here. I would like to personally take credit for this one. A couple of years ago, when ESPN began featuring their set of sports documentaries called "30 for 30", I sent then-director of the series Bill Simmons an email that he of course never replied to. After watching the Jim Valvano feature, which highlighted his only national championship with NC State and his battle with cancer, I immediately thought "how could they do this and not give the Cougars from the University of Houston an episode of their own?" Well, now they did. And one of college basketball's biggest mysteries has been solved. 

There is a perspective here that very quickly gets lost among those with crackhead attention spans. Out of all the brother-oriented, run-and-gun college basketball teams that have come and gone over the years, the only one that managed a national championship was Jerry Tarkanian's Runnin' Rebels of UNLV in 1990. Those that came before and after have all fallen short. One of these much-heralded and over-hyped teams that fit this description, the "Fab Five" of the University of Michigan, developed an annoying pop culture tendency of over-inflating their own importance to make up for the shortcoming of never having won a title, as if bluster and bravado would make up for not winning despite the fact that they had the cards stacked in their favor talent-wise. 

Hakeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler, and coach Guy Lewis...

The University of Houston tread on different ground. It was an era when trash-talking was something done between players and wasn't someone's publicly announced persona. They inhabited a basketball landscape pre-Air Jordan, before the Nike branding juggernaut and Sonny Vaccaro turned street basketball into a cynical, buy-and-sell corporate commodity, And they were cool. Other-worldly cool, despite the high-riding shorts that were the fashion of the day. Things evolve over time, and no one can hold this stylistic malfeasance against them. Not too long ago cats used to play ball in regular pants, and I'm not just talking about the weekend warriors and the occasional working class yeoman slobs. 

EVEN the playground legends rocked bell bottom jeans and dress pants. As long as they had sneakers they were out there. Their combination of tenacious defense and high-flying acrobatic dunks were the epitome of the street ball game, and put it into its proper perspective within the cultural landscape. If you weren't tall and could leap, you weren't allowed to even dream about it. All you could do is watch in amazement. To call them a dynasty without having won a championship is, again, an exercise in hyperbole that doesn't take into account the influence these cats had on the game. Not only were they fun to watch, they weren't a bunch of arrogant, chest-bumping assholes. 

They have finally received their just due from the suits at ESPN who currently run the "30 for 30" series now that Simmons has been given the heave-fucking-ho. And surprise surprise, the filmmakers have finally solved the biggest mystery surrounding this team-whatever happened to Benny Anders? Tune in when the show airs to find out. My one hope is that Houston's 1983 NCAA tournament games are included in the DVD release. That run, all the way up until they lost to NC State, remains a post graduate treatise on how to kick ass on the basketball court, and is a must-see for any fan.

Hakeem Olajuon and Benny Anders at a press conference during their collegiate heyday-

Here is the original article on the University of Houston by Sports Illustrated, dated March 7, 1983-

The second season of "Fear The Walking Dead" ended with a two-part, 2-hour season finale that mercifully put an end to what has been the most dreadful piece of shit I've sat through since the series finale of "Seinfeld". I'm not going to bore anyone with a blow-by-blow synopsis. It's just too much of a fucking drag. What I will get into is the whole "Mexico" subplot. These Hollywood assholes are so typical when they write Latino characters that it's too tiring to get offended anymore. First of all, Latinos don't say something in one language and to repeat it in another when we are speaking to other Latinos. What, the producers were too cheap to put in subtitles?

During the last 10 minutes we are treated to what are hands down two of the most nauseating moments in television history. When Nick and the gang get to the border crossing, they are shot at with automatic rifles by, guess who? Fucking Border Patrol!!! I couldn't believe this shit. Is Donald Trump this show's version of Neagan? It's obvious he's survived the zombie apocalypse and has decided, in his demented, dildo brain, that the only way to "Make America Great Again" isn't to spend time working on a cure at the CDC, but by guarding the border from Mexicans, despite the fact that world has officially gone to hell. Did anyone bother to tell these assholes that there are no more borders anymore? That it's just the living and the dead? I can just hear his speech now-"Well, you know, Mexico isn't sending us their best zombies. We're getting their rapists, criminals, and cannibals. All they want to do is eat us and not pay the tab. I'm sure some of the walking dead are good people..."

The scene that came before this has to take the cake. When Nick leads his merry band of desperadoes out of whatever-the-fuck the place was called (gee, what would these helpless, hapless Mexicans do without Captain White Boy to lead them to safer ground?), Madison and Travis run into Guillermo, or Pablo, or whatever-the-fuck his name is, who is lying in a trashed school bus, semi-conscious, totally delirious, and about to die. As he's passing into the world of the unliving, he has enough energy to have that  gloriously clichéed final deathbed confrontation with Madison. When he looks up through his barely open eyes, he sees Madison and declares, "Angel". For the peeps out there who can't translate this one, "Angel" is not Alejandro's landscaper son. It's Spanish for, you guessed it, an angel. Because what represents one's arrival at the pearly gates more than a blonde, blue-eyes, seeringly-pasty white Caucasian woman? My personal choice would have been the legendary Iris Chacón, the Puerto Rican singer/dancer/entertainer who showed J-Lo what ass is REALLY all about, but that's how these writers roll when they are attempting to play out Latino-oriented themes. They write about Latinos in such a patronizing, clueless manner, when all they have to do is hire a couple of writers who are, um, culturally in tune with the Mexican people and there!!! Problema solved. And if it's a budget issue, pay them like Mexican migrant workers, which is what the current batch of writers should be getting as a salary.

Heaven is a fat ass. Iris Chacón in action-

Are the writers trying to be cute about the US's contentious relationship with Mexico over what is a non-problem and a non-issue in real life to anyone except the jolly Klansmen and redneck losers who are too stupid top realize their jobs are being taken from them by douchebags exactly like Trump? It shouldn't matter in the world of the walking dead, but somehow it's worked its' way into the plot in a major way, and I cannot tell you how I'm looking forward to racially ambiguous Travis being mistaken for Pancho Villa.

The show wants desperately to shove their idea of character development down our throats, to the detriment of the very reason why FTWD was allegedly conceived. We got absolutely nothing in terms of how the virus enveloped Los Angeles, what was being done about it by the powers-that-were, Now we have two of thew strongest character completely neutered (Strand and Salazar) while we get an absolutely unconvincing and tediously shot scene where Travis manhandles "The Bros" who he finds out shot his obnoxious, entitled son. Madison and Travis have the on-screen chemistry of a couple that's been married too long and are still together for the sake of the kids. And I hate to say it, the actor who plays Travis seems way too effeminate to suddenly morph into some type of post-apocalyptic bad-ass. His lack of physical charisma seriously hampers this transformation, and at best it feels forced, just like his relationship with Madison, who has settled for annoying full-on screen shots of her stupid face. This season should be screened at every film school in the country on how NOT to handle a television series. The premise has way too much promise for it to sink down the drain so fast and with such a vengeance. Either get a new screenwriting team or cancel this peace of shit. Real fans have had enough of this. 

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