Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (2018

Won’t You Be My Neighbor? is a documentary about Mr. Rogers. He was a pretty cool guy and had a television show that influenced many peoples lives. It is a decent film about Mr. Rogers who seems to be have a big upswing in pop culture right now, with this documentary and upcoming film with Tom Hanks as well as that documentary on PBS with Michael Keaton about the show. It is the 50th anniversary of the show and would have been his 90th birthday. If you watched Mr. Rogers Neighborhood as a kid and enjoyed it this is the film that it seems like you’d want to watch it at least once or pick up one of those other documentaries, like Mister Rogers & Me.

Everything seem to have the same thrust that Mr. Rogers is the balm that we currently need, with the simple ideas of human empathy, caring about one another and kindness. You know that thing called love that seems to have gone away over the past couple of year. It is a fairly straight forward covering his life on television and if you’ve seen or read about his life nothing is really that shocking.  This film will be on PBS some time in Early 2019 so you won’t have to wait long.

 

Advertisements

World Chess Championship 2018

This is  a pretty big event in the Chess world as Magnus Carlsen looks to defend his title for a third time, it also is the first time since 1996 that an American, Fabiano Caruana, is in this match and he has the chance to be the first American since 1972 when Bobby Fisher took home the title.

They are four games into the 12 game series, and have tied each game, if they are tied at 6 after the 12 games they will go to a tie breaker round with 4 games of rapid chess, it it is still tied it will go to five matches of best of 2 of blitz chess, if they are still tied it goes to a Sudden Death, Armageddon chess where there will be a winner as Black. 

Veterans Day

In case you missed yesterday today is the observance of Veterans Day, the American version of Armistice Day, it is a day in which we honor all those who have served in the military. If you know anyone who have served go and thank them for their service and remember that their families also deserve some of this thanks as well since no one serves alone. Sure this day gets lost in calendar and that is a shame if we as a nation could do something about that it would be wonderful. However I have little faith that members of Congress would do anything to make this a big day, it is nice that the NFL and other sporting leagues get behind this and take some time to honor the military. If one of the Air Force/Army or Navy football games took place on this day perhaps the general American public would make a bigger deal about it except for those wonderful mattress sales. Or even make it  a day to reflect on how we can achieve peace as it was originally celebrated, or even create a Remembrance Day on the Sunday nearest the 11th like our neighbors in the Commonwealth. Sure we do this back in May with Memorial Day where Summer unofficially kicks off,  but why not have a second day to honor them.

World War I Centennial

Today is Armistice Day a Century ago the Germans surrendered in Compiègne, France, to the Allied powers, ending the fighting on the Western front. This took place at the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” of 1918.

In Flanders Fields

– John McCrae
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
    That mark our place; and in the sky
    The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
    Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
        In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
    The torch; be yours to hold it high.
    If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
        In Flanders fields.

Ordet (1955)

Ordet is another one of those films that is on all those list of great film lists it is by Carl Theodor Dreyer who also directed The Passion of Joan of Arc. The film is based on the play of the same name by Lutheran minister, Kaj Munk , it won Bodil Award the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival and was honored at the Golden Globes as Best Foreign Language Film in 1955 and it is one of the film on the Vatican list of films. Spoilers to follow.

The film doesn’t really have a plot it is a look at the life of the Borgen’s family farm. Morten, a prominent member of the community has three sons. Mikkel, who has no faith; Johannes, who went insane studying Soren Kierkegaard and believes himself Jesus Christ;  and Anders, who is smitten with the daughter of the tailor who is the leader of another sect. Mikkel is married to Inger who is pious and they have two daughters Inger is also pregnant with another child. Johannes isn’t the best as he wanders off condemning the lack of faith in the town and the world in general. Anders goes off to Peter, the tailor’s house, to ask for his daughter, Anne’s hand in marriage but this request is refused as Anders isn’t the same faith as the Tailor and his family. While this is happening Inger is trying to convince Morten of this engagement, it doesn’t go over well.

Anders returns home with the sad news and Morten changes his mind and he and Anders go to visit Peter and find out why he refused. Peter tries to get Morten and Anders to join his sect. While this is taking place Inger goes into a difficult labor, Mikkel calls informing Anders and Morten about what’s happening and they come rushing home, but not before Peter wishes that Inger die so that Morten will see the error of his ways and join his sect. When Morten and Anders return home they do not get great news the child is dead and Inger isn’t in great shape. Now things turn south here as death returns  and takes Inger, this is the turning point of the film as everyone is affected. Johannes wanders off and on the day of the funeral Peter apologizes to Morten and agrees to the proposal. Johannes returns and says that if the family only had faith and asked God to raise Inger from the dead it would happen. One of Inger and Mikkel’s daughters has the faith to ask for this to happen and Johannes agrees to do so. Inger begins to stir and everyone rejoices at the resurrection and Mikkel claims that he has found his faith.

This film seems like it would be something great to watch during Lent as it deals with faith and features a death and resurrection. It isn’t the most quick paced film but it is a nice change of pace from any modern film. Ordet is the one film from Dreyer that was both a critical and financial success. I would agree with all those talking heads that place it as one of the greatest films ever and if you ever get the chance to watch this to take the two hours and sit with the film and digest it.

Election Day and NCAA Basketball Season begins

Today is Election day in the United States if you can I hope that you went out and voted for whomever you want to run the country as all of the House and a third of the Senate are up for elections this time around and in various states there are other elections.

It’s already time for College Basketball to begin, it seems like forever ago when Villanova won the NCAA Championship back in early April. As is usual for the NCAA season for the first two months it is mostly non-conference games and come January the Conference schedule begins. It seems likely that the big name teams your Duke, Kansas, Kentucky will be making it to the NCAA Tournament once again.

MLS Playoffs 2018 Semifinals

Well, playing at home wasn’t the best in the knockout round where only NYCFC advanced at home, all the other visitors came and won some in heart breaking fashion, DC United and Columbus went to Penalties to decide the game, other not so much as LAFC is out thanks to an own goal and Portland advanced over Dallas.

As for this upcoming round which begins on Sunday in the lower seed home followed by a game at the higher seeds home the following Sunday or Thursday in the case of Seattle. In the East, Columbus Crew host New York Red Bulls and NYCFC host Atlanta United. I really hope that it doesn’t end up with the two teams from New York meeting in the Conference Finals. I think that everyone should have a soft sport for the Crew one of the original teams with the threat of them moving to Austin is the team didn’t get funding for a new Stadium remember it was only last year when it was all #SavetheCrew. If I had to pick Columbus and NYCFC make it out of this round. In the West Real Salt Lake host Sporting KC and the Portland Timbers host Seattle Sounders. I’m hoping that Sporting KC and the Timbers make it to the Finals. Although the Sounders seems more likely to advance as they have been the most dominate team in the League since they joined and they have made it to the MLS Cup Finals the past two years.

Halloween poems

Well I was going to post something like Rossetti’s Goblin Market, but that really doesn’t seem like the most Halloween-ish of poems. Sure there are poems by Poe like The Raven and The Haunted Palace or even that great witch bit from Macbeth “Double, double toil and trouble”.  How about something we don’t know basically by heart. This is Black Cat by Rainer Rilke

Black Cat

A ghost, though invisible, still is like a place
your sight can knock on, echoing; but here
within this thick black pelt, your strongest gaze
will be absorbed and utterly disappear:

just as a raving madman, when nothing else
can ease him, charges into his dark night
howling, pounds on the padded wall, and feels
the rage being taken in and pacified.

She seems to hide all looks that have ever fallen
into her, so that, like an audience,
she can look them over, menacing and sullen,
and curl to sleep with them. But all at once

as if awakened, she turns her face to yours;
and with a shock, you see yourself, tiny,
inside the golden amber of her eyeballs
suspended, like a prehistoric fly.

MLS Playoffs 2018

Sure the least know major American Sports League, Major League Soccer has reached the end of their regular season and are going to begin their playoffs.  MLS starts their playoffs with knockout games before the typical home and home for the next two round before the final game, scheduled for December 8.  The top six teams from both Conferences made the playoffs and the top two seeds have a bye through the knockout round. with the high seed hosting the lower seed. After this round the teams get reseeded so the top team will play the lowest seed left.

In the East: Atlanta United, Columbus Crew, DC United, NYCFC, NY Red Bulls, and Philadelphia Union are the teams that made it, and in the West: FC Dallas, Los Angeles FC, Portland Timbers, Real Salt Lake, Seattle Sounders and Sporting Kansas City have gotten in.  We will be getting a new MLS Champion this year as Toronto FC didn’t make the playoffs. The Knockout round begins on Halloween, with NYCFC hosting Philadelphia Union at Yankees Stadium and FC Dallas hosting Portland Timbers in Frisco, Texas. The next day DC United host Columbus Crew SC at Audi field and the LAFC host Real Salt Lake in LA. This is the first season from the LAFC. This is a single game and the winners we go on to play the top seeds in the Conference Semifinals, the lowest seed will play at NY Red Bulls and Sporting KC and the other winners, the higher seed will face Atlanta United and Seattle Sounders.

Some predictions for the knockout round, DC United have been lights out at home so they have the advantage, that’s the only solid pick I have. Philly played NYCFC in New York on Sunday and lost 3-1 can they bounce back before Wednesday’s game? NYCFC wins, and we have them playing Atlanta in the Semifinals and the classic oldest MLS Rivalry United/Red Bulls in the other game.  In the West, while it would be real cool to see more rivals meet up in the semifinals it seems unlikely but these are just dumb guesses let’s have Real Salt Lake beat LAFC and the Timbers beat Dallas, so we have the Real Salt Lake playing Sporting KC, and Timbers/Sounders. Although it seems more likely that Dallas will beat the Timbers and then facing Seattle.

 

Eighth Grade (2018)

Eighth Grade is the debut film from Bo Burnham. This is a great new film which is a coming of age story set today, Spoilers to follow.

in the film we follow Kayla Day (Elsie Fisher) in her final week of the eighth grade, she posts motivational videos on YouTube about confidence and self-image, which barely get any views. At school she gets the “Most Quiet” superlative from her classmates and they all get a time capsule they made in their first week of middle school. On her way home she gets invited to a classmate’s party, she the popular girl in class, and her mom invited Kayla. Mark (Josh Hamilton), Kayla’s single father struggles to connect with Kayla as she is constantly on social media and suggest she go to the party to put herself out there. However she just doesn’t fit in, what will happen to her

The film is a nice update on the coming of age stories as teens today live a large portion of their lives on social media of various forms from YouTube to Snapchat and Instagram, the problems are similar to the one we all had back in eighth grade. It is a unique look into the aspect of the world that seems to be overlooked by those in Hollywood, as they are currently rebooting the 90s for better of worse.

Eighth Grade is a film that everyone should give a chance especially if you know someone in that age range. It has some Oscar buzz as well so perhaps it’s worth a shot for that reason as well.