Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Medora (Documentary Film, 2013)..Davy Rothbart/Documentaries

Here's what I posted on Mike Portnoy's forum a little bit ago:

Tonight there were a bunch of 1-time, special screenings at Landmark theaters (and others?) across the US of this new Documentary about a small rural town in Southern Indiana and the kids on it's struggling basketball team (struggling on and off the court). 
Very compelling film. I would say it's almost like a cross between Hoop Dreams and Hoosiers, but with more emphasis on the town and how much the High School basketball team means to them and how the kids on the team persevere through adversity. They are one of those cases of a team that has an extensive losing streak, but still hold hope they will end it eventually. A team that while disadvantaged compared to their competition, it doesn't seem to matter to the kids on the team nor the people of Medora who support them, regardless of their lack of winning or their own downtrodden circumstances, in many cases.  
One of the best films I've seen this year certainly, and documentaries of any kind. Davy Rothbart was a co-director/produced of this movie, which given the fact I loved the movie Easier With Practice that he co-wrote the screenplay to (and was based on an article he wrote of his real-life experience), I am not surprised how good this film came out. And he (and the co-director Andrew Cohn) are definitely 2 filmmakers I want to keep up with in the future. 

There's more to add here of course, even if I feel I'm up against the clock as I always seem to be.

For one, I can relate to the basketball players and the team in some ways (and I'm sure many others can as well, which is one reason this film is so compelling I found).

-I played on a High School Basketball team from a HS with an enrollment of frequently less than the teams my school played against. I.e. my HS (Grades 9-12) I think had maybe 150 students when I was there. And while many of the schools we played against weren't huge in enrollment either, they usually were larger than us, and frankly, many emphasized athletics more. However, one reason I attended the HS I did, was enrollment and class size, and thus I was given the ability to play some varsity sports, whereas at others schools I may not have been good enough, etc.

The kids on the team, you do want to root for and almost are given the sense they become people you know. I just read an interview with Davy and Andrew HERE that they really emphasize that from their experience spending a year or more in Medora with the kids on the team, from the HS and the people from the town.

I do think this documentary does show a lot of what a lot of small towns, downtrodden or not, are like, not only in America, but around the world  as well (although not like how towns in the Philippines are right now, or Oklahoma, New Jersey etc in terms of physical devastation). They seem to be isolated and very community-based. And for better or for worse, they do have a close-knit connection that is not often felt in larger cities.

You want to see the kids at least win 1 game, and it will lift a large chip off their shoulders.

It almost seems metaphorical for some people's struggles in life, in that you go through your every day life, trying to attain even a small goal, and it seems to take forever, almost to the point you wonder if it will ever happen. But when it does, it means all the more to you, for multiple reasons. But maybe 1st and foremost, it will give you something to draw upon whenever you face other challenges.

But then again, had I been there, I may have told the kids, it's only a game. Try and enjoy as much about it as you can, and the winning will take care of itself.

Although had I been their coach, based on what the film shows on the court, I might have used some alternative strategy ala slowing the game down like Princeton, Wisconsin, etc. Perhaps it wouldn't end up being as entertaining, but it would likely cut down on their turnovers and keep them in games. However, protecting the ball against pressure and a full court press didn't seem to be as emphasized as it could have been. That's something that the teams I played on would practice frequently. That and applying our own pressure, which also was something the documentary didn't really show if the Medora team did much if any at all.

But as I posted on mp.com, I would like to see what both of Davy Rothbart and Andrew Cohn do next, which based on that article I posted above, it's a little odd how they are from Ann Arbor, MI. Mayer Hawthorne is from Detroit I recall, but his real name is oddly similar being Andrew Mayer Cohen, lol. I wonder if the two of them have met (or if Mayer knows about Medora or even like Hoop Dreams, given I know Mayer is a big basketball fan). Although there have been/are likely many "Andy/Andrew" Cohen/Cohn 's given a relatively famous baseball player in the 1920's I recall had that name as well.

But in looking at Davy's imdb page , he has a reasonable list of credits besides Medora and Easier With Practice, including a film about Andrew and his magazine Found titled My Heart Is an Idiot. In fact I heard Davy interviewed on 89.3's morning show about a year ago when he came to Minneapolis for an appearance for Found.. Unfortunately I couldn't come out and see him for that event, since I had a Wedding that same day/evening to attend. But I messaged him on Facebook about my regrets and he was nice enough to message me back and friend me on there.

Which kind of got me thinking about him and documentaries actually. I've always wanted make a film about among others, Kevin Gilbert. But of course the time/money and knowledge of how to do it are among the many obstacles I may face. But maybe not Kevin, or just a documentary about something I personally find important to me. Like the music/progressive rock (or even just Dream Theater) culture (almost like a Trekkies for prog nerds? lol). Or blogging culture. I'm sure some have been made, even up on Youtube. But if I didn't do it, I wonder if someone like Davy and Andrew may or at least lend some advice/insights on how, if it would make sense, and just how much time/money it may require. Of course the ole, you'll likely "get out of it what you put into it," would come up, but the idea sort of crossed my mind. If not a documentary about Kevin, could a documentary about some of the culture I am involved with, music/scifi/blogging (or even some of my gf's interests) warrant a documentary (even if it's not even a fraction as compelling or successful as Medora or the even the best films on Youtube)?

I might only cite a short film like this as something that gives a bit of evidence.

Thursday, November 7, 2013


I've found myself paralyzed to an extent about work, lack of the ability to listen to new music, or be able for others to understand my situation fully.

It's not just new music.

And then with 3 family pets gone in the last month, and a friend in the Hospital along with my gf's mother in the Hospital. And it seems time keeps going by, I seem to have acquired some kind of depressive state of mind about time, space, my own life's history.

Things change so fast, I am depressed when I think of when I was younger and the future; how more things and people will be a thing of the past. 

I also wish I could display, preferably on video, how I am unable to listen to much music at work now, and how I used to be able to listen to so much at work in the past.

I wish I could find a way to display the work I used to do, and do now. But I'm unable to really, other than describing it in words.

I also have come up with an idea for a story, really a premise, that probably loosely has been told before. It is about a person who instead of a day, is stuck in A YEAR. This person lives within the same time frame, only each year after December 31st (or another date, maybe their Birthday), the clock, year, etc stays the same. The mentality of everyone and thing is from that same time frame. The only thing that is different is this person and their knowledge, age, etc. It's sort of Groundhog day or Groundhog Year in some ways.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Casual Encounters (2013)

The below words are what I just posted on Facebook. I haven't unfortunately had the time to post much in here about movies or television (let alone keep up with the main blog's music demands) for Life-based reasons.

I will say, 2013 has been somewhat lacking in great movies. Probably the best 3 movies I've seen before seeing this have been.

-The East
-Short Term 12
-Despicable Me 2
(Oz the Great and Powerful and some others had their value, but, were hardly great. And I'm a The Wizard of Oz-fanboy)

but I would probably include Casual Encounters in this group.

I am hoping though some good stuff will be coming this fall, both Independent and Hollywood

(Anchorman 2? The Hobbit Part 2? The Zero Theorem-the new Terry Gilliam movie without known distributiion?).

I also haven't seen Gravity which maybe mostly on hype, I will think about seeing soon.

Facebook Page

I saw this funny little film last evening at the Twin Cities Film Fest in Casual Encounters . As the title suggests, it was about "Casual Encounters" from an previous online communication (Craigslist presumably).

This is a film that shows these people meeting with unexpected results, but I guess that wasn't what made it so interesting. The way many of the characters meetings intertwined with other characters, added a lot of humor.

In one, an Asian gay man talks online to a straight Caucasian man, but the gay Asian man impersonates a Japanese girl in the process; then later the exact Japanese girl whose picture the gay guy was using to say he was, is shown having a casual encounter of her own, but with another guy, but her interest is purely platonic. But the straight Caucasian guy who we are introduced to in that previous casual encounter, sees the Japanese girl in person meeting with another straight Caucasian guy, and runs in and causes a funny argument (and more) between the 2 guys.

It was basically a series of vignettes of personals with different intentions. But it seemed so light-hearted that it worked better than you might expect. No big names and not a huge budget or anything, but it didn't matter.

I'm sure there have been other films of it's type (some of Woody Allen's vignette-types like To Rome with Love for example), but maybe not done as well or in the way this one does.

I would be surprised to see many other people talk about this movie, but so be it. It was one of the better movies I have seen in 2013 (which I have not seen too many great movies this year, for whatever reason). And it also supports like in 2012 with It's A Disaster ,for the 2nd year in a row, the Twin Cities Film Festival has stuff to check out that I may not be able to see other places.


Thursday, July 4, 2013

CONvergence: How the cool became lame

I have written about my issues with CONvergence, the largest Scifi convention in the Upper Midwest, mainly back on my myspace blog and perhaps even on the livejournal I kept. But even then, that was many years ago. Let's see:

I know I 1st attended CONvergence along with the Renaissance Festival around 2002 or 2003. Maybe 2004 was the 1st year I finally made it to Ren Fest. I forget exactly, but I do recall that I had never attended either until about 10 years ago.

And the 1st year or 2 I went to both, I really enjoyed both. Actually, with Ren Fest, I only have 1 or 2 memories where I didn't enjoy everything that happened. Why that is? I think part of it is, the people at Renaissance Festival aren't stressed out and frankly, anal douches.

But with CON, the 1st few years I went, I really dug many things, namely:

-The Karaoke ..which the 1st few years, you would be able to get a song in at least every hour, sometimes the wait time would take 20 minutes or less. My friend John and I would sometimes stay there until 4 or 5AM (or he would even later)..the last few years at CONvergence, and I recall even MarsCON, the wait could be up to 2 hours or more, lol. What's the point? and if I recall, the last year I went to CON, in 2011, there was no Karaoke room.

-the Bellydance room and drum/spin jams. Back in the day of MiniCON, I guess some of the drum/spin jams were awesome. But then this 1 chic made it her agenda to limi/monitor the rhythm patterns people were  drumming to, and it got really lame. But I want to say around 2008 or 2009 the drum/spin jams stopped happening altogether or at least they became *exclusive* to certain level of badge holders. I recall in 2011 or maybe even 2010, trying to get into the area on the 2nd floor where they were held, and that entire section was TAPED OFF to badge holders.

But the biggest beef I and many others have had with CONvergence is the BADGE ENFORCEMENT. The 1st and foremost.

I attend CONvergence and some other CONs many times, I'd guess at least a dozen or more, really without anyone having any issue with demanding a badge. Why?

a) I would come to the CON at 8 or usually closer to 10 or 11PM, and would stay until 3 or 4AM..sometimes later. But I would leave by Sunrise, if not earlier

b) I wasn't needing access to all the *exclusive* rooms, but I recall around Midnight or 1AM, they really didn't monitor NOR CARE if you went into some of the CON suites because IT WAS LATE and all the planned events WERE OVER. And that was totally justifiable. But I'd guess around 2008 or maybe 2009, they started making a huge stink about those areas, even in the middle of the night when the activity and planned activities/events were over/dead/quiet..

c) The Badges are WAY TOO FUCKING EXPENSIVE. And even if you were to buy one far in advance (like before January 1st), you still have NEVER been able to purchase DAY PASSES (like MarsCON)


at the Door, unless you're not an adult, there is only 1 rate for a "Membership" and it's $100. ONE HUNDRED FUCKING DOLLARS, LOL. For myself, who spends 5-8 hours sometimes only 1 night, but at most 2-nights.

Everyone who buys a badge spends what potentially up to 72 hours or more there? and me, maybe 10-15? yeah, THAT MAKES SENSE.

If I spent even 10 hours at the CON, I would be spending $10 a fucking hour to be there for that. WASTE.

If I registered before December 31st for next year's CON, it would be $60, or approx $6 per hour. To do Karaoke and people watch in what is now a lame event that the hipsters have hijacked.

If I waited and bought my "membership" at the door, it'll be $120 for 2014. $120??? uh, and they wonder why people try and "ghost" even more now. With the size of the CON, I can only imagine that'll give people even more motivation to.

A party with delusional security measures, and an uptight, stressed out atmosphere. Yeah, that's what I always enjoy experiencing.

An event that I once didn't have to spend anything but a bit of a sleep cycle altering and I estimated about $12 in gas to drive back in forth 2 evenings.

Why can't they set up day or even HOUR passes? because they don't have to, but it would be much more reasonable for people like me.

I don't plan my YEAR around this event. I don't HANG OUT AT THE PANELS. That shit often is boring. Unless the guest they get are worth hearing, but those also happen much earlier, often during the day on Saturday anyway.

If only it were a bit more like KFAI's lot, the cost of paying to park there IN THE EVENING is MUCH LESS. Why the fuck the morons who run this CON and MNSTF don't consider changing the badge or "membership" format and options is only explained by how lame the CON has become altogether and how it's become this media event that the Hipsters have tried to claim as their own. I bet most of those hipsters don't even like or know Babylon 5 or Deep Space 9, lol.

So this year (2013),  it's become so pathetic, people are having to wait in-line to spend $100 on a badge, for 2.5 hours.

2.5 Hours????

I saw their tent at Pride last weekend and some woman was asking people "Do you like Star Wars or Star Trek?" and I said "Yes, but I don't attend CON anymore, sorry."

CON could be cool

-I wanted to setup a Movie/Album synchro room a few years back. I went to one of the meetings for registering Party Rooms, and they ASSUMED you had all these things planned out and setup as far as fire regulations and the cost of removing the beds. Duct Taping wiring.

They also gave me the realization of the COST of paying for THE ROOM for up to 3 nights. Getting Food for guests. And of course the whole pathetic process of SHOWING A MOVIE at a public event, there are legal issues that come up. I'm not sure how anyone would be able to pursue some kind of lawsuit with the CON or hotel if someone did. What would be the point? greedy people in Hollywood who have nothing better to do.

That all being said, i talked to Scott from Cinema Apocalypse and was possibly going to be able to do a movie/album synchro thing (not just Dark Side of the Moon/The Wizard of Oz), but the 1 year it could have been done, the people in the room next door were WAY TOO LOUD, that it would have been pointless. The next idea was at MarsCON, but Scott and his partner stopped doing it I guess, and so I gave up.

1 year I even brought a dvd player and stereo in and tried to set it up in the middle of the 1st floor near the pool after actually askiing "OPS" about it and I'm pretty sure they told me it wouldn't be an issue. That was on Friday night, but when I brought the stuff in on Saturday they flagged me down telling me I couldn't for INSURANCE reasons or some other bullshit. Although even at 11PM or whatever it would have been, it likely was too loud in there to really have it work effectively.

Damn, but that's water under the bridge. The best bet to do something like that would be either at a private movie theater like the Parkway Theater (or maybe even the Trylon, although that would require some serious convincing I imagine), or just at someone's home.

there's more to this, but this will have to do for now. FTR, I still for the most part love Renaissance Festival, and while I think MarsCON make something of Badges, they don't like CONvergence.

I also would love to attend San Diego Comic-Con of course, but that would make CONvergence seem like a Ghost Town.

The hipsters and often personality/nature of people who run these things always have to suck. When something is underground, it often is not. I guess the best lesson to learn is, not to always talk about these things so in detail. But then again, the hipsters are making "Nerds" mainstream, which is kind of a dichotomy.