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Drink Your Fortune!

Good morrow. It’s a drizzly, dank, occasionally-snow-flaked, Friday morn, here in the City on The Lake. Not complaining though, as it’s actually ABOVE freezing, with a forecast for steadily rising temps, which if all goes according to plan, should give we ChiTowners our first 60-degree temp since last November! That’s something about which to FEEL-GOOD!

As I have much to cover and much to do, let’s get into it, shall we?

Sure Beats a Cookie...

Sure Beats a Cookie…

Following up on T-John’s “murals” email and my comment on channeling Wile E. Coyote, I got a hankerin’ for ol’ Wile E., so here’s a compilation I found on YouTube. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have any Coyote-mural work.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hd755bbc8uw

…AND ON THAT HAPPY NOTES LET’S SASHAY OVER TO TODAY’S HEADLINES…

“Papal prayer for the Oval Office?” Barry and Frankie, sittin’ in the See; n-e-g-o-t-i-a-t-I-n-g. Says the meeting lasted 52-minutes. Kinda like a PBS or HBO show which leaves open minutes for commercials when shown on broadcast TV?

“PENSION TALKS HEATING UP”. Rahmbikins wants deals with all unions and — like — yesterday. Why? Dunno. Maybe that he’s running for re-election in a year and after he schit in their living rooms, now wantsta show how he can make nice and make it all go away. Oh yeah. That’ll happen.

 

“BP’s oil spill estimate increases”. Really? An oil company dumps its product in our drinking water and we’re sposetabe surprised that they tried to minimize it? Oh, pshaw! Who’d think that? And why would they?

 

” ‘ QUINNOCCHIO’ VS BALONEY’ “. This is in reference to Brucie and TMQ. Please forgive this reference to that treacly-sweet, Paul Williams/Carpenter’s 1970 tune, “We’ve Only Just Begun” but we have. There are 7-months of this crap in our future. Sorry. Not FEEL-GOOD.

 

“Taco Bell ads feature real-life Ronald McDonalds”. Have you seen them? They’re funny and Mickey-Dees can’t do nuthin’.

 

“Christie cleared in his own probe”. Imagine what we’d have said if Blago did that?

 

“Air Force cheating investigation leads to dismissals”. This in reference to the previously reported item regarding the nuclear missile base which “cheated” in its efficiency reports by “blending” better-then-average-results from its cooks and service personnel with those of those in charge of the actual missiles. I know. Serious stuff. But, it’s been said their 3-egg, ham and swiss omelets on Saturdays are outta this world! Oh yeah, 79 Colonels and Lt. Colonels were dissed. That’s almost as many as on an ear of corn!

 

-GENERALLY SPEAKING…

Saw an item from a “foodie” on leftovers, as if they were just now discovered. Don’t know about you but in our house, if we had roast beef for Sunday dinner, we then had beef sangwidges for lunches; maybe Bar-B-Q beef for another dinner, etc., etc.

 

Leave it to a “foodie” to “discover” that concept.

WABBIT SEASON

 

Let’s all mosey on over to The Wayback Machine and see what Mr. Peabody and historynet.com have in store for us as to what’s happened “Yesterday and Today”, shall we?

 

 

…Yesterday in…

 

 

1512,   Ponce de Leon discovered Florida and thought, “Hombre! Wouldn’t THIS be a great place for Jewish folks from N’Yawk to retire!”

 

1866,   Andrew Johnson vetoed the civil rights law, which eventually became the 14th amendment.

 

1884,   The first long distance phone call between Bahstehn and N’Yawk was made. Reportedly it went something like this: “Bucky F-n Dent?!?!?!?!?!?!?” Too bad long-distance phone-calls never went much further, huh?

 

1893,   American Bell Telephone made its first long-distance call to its branch office in N’Yawk. Again, not much more than that though.

 

1944,   1000 Jews were sent from Drancy, France to Auschwitz, Poland by the Nazis. Remember, work makes you free.

 

1944,   Not to be outdone by their French counterparts, the Gestapo murdered thousands of Jews in Lithuania.

 

 

…and Today in…

 

1885,   The Salvation Army was officially organized in the U.S.

 

1908,   A bunch of flamin’ Libs lobbied Congress to pass automobile licensing and registration. Not to worry, they weren’t worried about guns.

 

1933,   Nazis ordered a ban on all Jews in professions, businesses and schools. Recall, a mere 5-days days before, the Reichstag

gave Hitler the power to rule by decree. See? Nothing could possibly go wrong.

 

1946,   Juan Peron was elected president of Argentina, which wept for his second wife, Evita.

 

1979,   What would be described in today’s terms as “epic-fail”, the Three Mile Island nuclear plant in Pennsylvania, well, failed.

 

1986,   In what became known as the “Iran/Contra” affair, a $100,000,000.00 aid package was authorized for the Nicaraguan Rebels. Only later did we find out that this was, in fact, an “arms for hostages” deal. Here’s a “Wiki” link. Warning, Reaganauts won’t like this. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iran/Contra

 

DUCK SEASON

 

-’XRT’S FEATURED ARTIST OF THE DAY IS…ta DA, Eric Clapton! Just heard “Bell-bottom Blues”.

 

-A NEW BEER ON THE MARKET…Miller/Coors has come out with a newbie-brew they call “Fortune”. Their ad features Brit-Badboy, Mark Strong. Tried it…it’s good. It’s a hearty-brew without the alka-seltzer bitter finish some beer-snoobs favor. Yes, I said “Snoobs” as I like that sound over “snob”. Anyway, found it at a local liquor store for $7.00 a sixer, which is a tad pricey. However, a sojourn to Sam’s Club in Des Plaines, (Yes, we go to Sam’s, despite its WalMart heritage), found it for $10.49 a-twelve-pack. That’s better.

 

 

-THE BIG SCREEN REVIEW…”DIVERGENT” 3-1/16TH STARS

 

Saw it yesterday. Before any who have read the book(s) get all up in my grill, I did not read it/them.

 

The film is billed as a “dystopian” post-apocalyptic story. This is only my opinion but…I think the word “dystopia” which is the antonym of “utopia”, is a misnomer…at least as far as this initial-offering of this trilogy is presented. Which is — in part — the reason for the “1/16th” star added to the “3″. Here’s the Webster’s definition of dystopia: “an imaginary place where people are unhappy and usually afraid because they are not treated fairly”. As the film opens and continues, the only dystopians seem to be the factionless. (More on that later) It takes place in ChiTown after “The War”. They don’t say what war, nor why it was fought. Only that not unlike “The Hunger Games”, where the country is divided into “Districts” to “keep the peace”, THG is much more of a dystopia  than Divergent. In “D”, the country/city, is divided into “Factions”. They are: Abnegate, who are selfless, simple-folks, who comprise the ruling-Faction, though we are not told why nor how they became so. Amity, they do the farming and like to get along; Candor, who tell the truth and are the “justice” system; Dauntless, who are the military/para-military/police, whatever. They are trained, Spartan-like to accept and carry out orders, no matter what. And the Erudite, who are the intellectuals. There is an undercurrent of dissatisfaction among this last group, as they feel with their intelligence, they and only they are fit to rule.

Anyway, we are shown all Factions walking together  along ChiTown’s “Gold Coast”, interacting with each other; the weather’s beautiful and there is no real sense of fear nor unfair treatment implied.

 

Each year, there is a “Choosing day”, in which all 16-year olds must choose the Faction to which they want to belong. This is after they are “tested” to determine to which faction they are best-suited. Tris’ test is “inconclusive”, which means she’s “Divergent”. Her tester, Torie, tells her to tell everyone she got sick and they couldn’t read her results. BUT THEY DON’T SAY WHY THAT’S IMPORTANT! Not for an hour of film time.

Back to “Choosing Day”. Most choose their own Factions but some do not. Such is the case for our heroine, Beatrice, who becomes known as “Tris” and her brother, Caleb, who are 10-months apart but are both still, 16. Caleb, being older I think, chooses Erudites, while Tris decides she wants to become a Dauntless. The film then shows us her training as a Dauntless; gives a glimpse of the “Factionless”, which is pretty much like our homeless. Don’t get me wrong. That’s not a good thing but there are worse; especially in this depiction, as while they’re ”dumpster-diving” for food, I had visions of worse things, e.g., slave labor; prostitution; homeless with leprosy. Get it? Anyway, it’s not until about an hour into the film that we find out if a candidate fails to qualify for their chosen Faction, they become Factionless pariahs…again, we know not why…othjer than because they don’t fit into anything, like divergents, they are outcasts but unlike divergeents, they are not feared.

At one pint during her Dauntless-training, Tris and her fellow-trainees are brought to “The Fence”, which is an electrified fence about 40-feet tall. Something that’d cause Tea Partiers to have simultaneous wet-dreams. They look out from it; seeing the Amity-folk farming. Tris asks “What’s out there?”, to which her instructor, “Four”, says something like, ” You don’t want to know. But there’s a reason this is here”. That’s all. But those Amity-farmers are out there. Unprotected???? Are they awaiting their own Amityville horror?

 

Some other things. The CGI were fantastic. Seems they took a page out of “Oblivion” with its depiction of post-apocalypse, New Yawk, but this time with Lake Michigan being depicted as nothing more than a mud hole and the Chicago River, just a muddy wash. Oh yeah. There’s no Lake nor river; Amity folk have verdant, fertile farmland; the people are all clean as they have plenty of water for drinking and showers. Where does it come from? Just askin’? Also, while the war left them with no lake nor river water, the buildings were still standing; damaged somewhat but not much. How’s that? I dunno. Did they get hit by some kind of neutron-bomb? Again, the director doesn’t tell us.

 

Those are my problems with this film, in that they take almost an hour of a two-hour-twenty-minute film showing us a lot but not telling us much. Storytelling is as much a science as it is an art. Like anything, prep-work is paramount. But unless this was fraught with foreshadowing which will be addressed in parts 2 or 3, it left me with many questions. MBH said if I’d read the books, I would not have had as many. Whoa! DaWat’sWule is a film based on a book must be able to stand on its own, with non-readers

having as much facility in following and understanding the story as readers.

 

Now for the good stuff. For all its lack of effective presentation in its exposition, read that as the director, once it got rolling, it became quite compelling. This is despite the fact that it’s a treatment on a basic sci-fi premise that the individual must become a supplicant to the State. That the individual, who is allowed some free-thinking in a collective is bad, while supplicating themselves to totalitarian-rule is what is right and good…hence, bad.

 

-Shailene Woodley’s “Tris” does a more than credible job in her transformation from Dauntless “initiate” to her grasp and acceptance of her being Divergent. Besides that, she’s beautiful young woman who does not “trade” on that as an actor. In other words, she is believable.

 

-Theo James as “Four”, her Dauntless-instructor, was very good, as well. There was a tad bit of creepiness in that he’s 24 and he and she get busy…she’s 16. Remember? Other than that, as bad as James was on his CBS-series, “Golden Boy”, he was good in this. MBH says he looks like a combination of James Dean and Ricky Martin.

 

-Ashley Judd as Tris’ mom, Natalie, was as beautiful as she always is and just as effective. Though…and yes, I’m from Mars…I found myself asking how Tris’ hair was always just-so-Cover-Girl, perfect, no matter what; while Nat’s was, well, dry; matted and scraggly? Yeah. I must’ve lived in a house with 6-women for too long.

 

-Kate Winslett, on the other hand, was about as homely as homely could be as the Erudite-leader, and chief-witchey-poo, Jeaninne. Forget seeing her as the beautiful “Rose” from “Titanic. She’s a bitch and a half.

 

-I almost did not recognize Ray Stevenson as Marcus as he had a full-head of wavy hair. Normally, he’s seen with not much more that a fuzzy-wuzzy, crew cut. Some may remember him from “Rome” on HBO as super-ex-legionnaire, Titus Pullo or Gary Oldman’s “muscle” in “The Book of Eli”.

 

-Mekhi Phifer is almost as hard to recognize as Dauntless leader, Max.

 

-Maggie Q, “Torie”, had an eerie attractiveness about her. She’s not pretty…not even sexy. Don’t know. That said, she provided more background, i.e., exposition in a few lines than the director did in an hour’s worth of time.

 

 

Again, once things got rolling, I had more than one, armrest-squeezing moment. That’s where the 3-stars come in.

There are some “tells” as well a some surprises as far as the plot, subplots, characters and character-development are concerned.

 

This film could — easily — have closer to 3-3/4-stars had they tightened up their expository-section by telling us more through some simple-foreshadowing and better exposition. For example, show the “Factionless” a bit more and why no one wants to become one of them. It’d only take  a minute or two of dramatic-time. After all, a picture’s worth a thousand words. This is on the director and is not meant as any commentary on the book(s) as, again, I have not read them.

 

All-in-all, it’s worth the price of admission. See it in IMAX, if you can and rest easy, like a semi, though it takes awhile to get moving, once it does…hold on.

 

-TUBULARLY SPEAKING…

“Blue Bloods”. Got caught up in it. While a bit predictable, last week’s episode was pretty good, though there was some implied conjugality goin’ on in this one. Uh-oh!

 

“Person of Interest”. We like this one but after watching the last episode, had this question. How was it that while “Root” was smart enough to realize she couldn’t “track” Decima Industries” John Greer using The Machine, so she uses “Bear” their military-guard-attack-tracking dog; then allows Greer’s guys to get the drop on her while “Bear” makes no sound; not even a whimper; as they sneak up on her? Just askin’.

 

“NCIS”…doing a two-parter. Hafta say, like soup in a deli after three days, it’s gettin’ a little thin. Still watchable just, well, you know. Just read that these episodes are a “backdoor pilot” for an “NCIS: New Orleans. Kinda thought having Scott Bakula, Lukas Black and CCH Pounder, in the cast seemed a bit much for one-episode, well, a two-parter.

That said, it drew 17-million viewers! So much for what I think.

 

 

AND NOW…SPORT

 

-DaHAWKS. Let’s get this over with and outta the way. I wrote about them winning; Bahstehn shut ‘em out. That’s it in these spaces. If anyone has a reverse-Midas-touch, it’s me.

 

-DaBULLS. Had three days off.  Host Portland, tonight.

 

-BESBOLL BEEN BERRY BERRY GOOD TO MUS…

By the time we next meet, it’ll be Opening Day…at least for most of us. The Doyers already have…in Australia, no less…and…they travel to San Diego to face the Padres, Sunday night.

 

Otherwise, the Festivus for the rest-of our teams start Monday. Though, it may be more appropriate if DaFlubs are postponed until Tuesday, April 1st, no? Unfortunately, Theo is still referring to their new “TV-deal” as if that and Tom Terrific’s Jumbotron will guarantee a pennant. I’m sorry. Not FEEL-GOOD. OK, I’m happy that Mike Olt’s vision seems to have been corrected and they may have a stick who can play 3rd. I’m awaiting Javy Baez getting past whatever his “service-date” is, so we can see what he’s like playing against the big boys, on an everyday basis. Though Theo was quoted as saying the “rushing” of Castro to the bigs, may have been what contributed to his lack of baseball acumen. Who knows?

 

As Cubs fans, hope springs eternal but like the waning flame of a votive candle outside on a windy day, well, you know.

 

With all that, the sound a fastball makes as it smacks the catcher’s mitt; or that telling “THWACK” as it’s on its way leaving the ball park is something that just says, “Baseball”.

 

Whitney’s Red Sox are looking to repeat.

 

Arnold, Bill and Nick want their White Sox to be competitive. As they are practical, I know they want to win their division but they also know that’s a tall order.

 

Joe’s improved-Mets have to contend with Washington and Atlanta…another tall order but not as tall as Cubs fans.

 

Rene’s Doyers, well, they just may do it this year. They have the arms, sticks and mitts to do it.

 

Whatever…however…things turn out, there’s always something to look at – or forward to — once the season starts.

 

 

OK, time to go. It’s Friday so have a great weekend and remember, as long as we can look down at a rosebush instead of up at its roots, it’s a good one.

 

DaBigFatWat

 

 

 


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