The Wrap Sheet, February 2019
A monthly airing of thoughts and grievances
I think I really hate February.
It’s too short. All of a sudden it’s March and we’re left saying: “wait, where are the extra two or three days of my month?” or “Shit, I have to pay all these bills super early!”
There are also things like false spring that typically occur in February that give me false hope before plunging me back into the despair of winter.
But the Groundhog didn’t see his shadow this month! So maybe our dreams of an early spring really might come to fruition?
Despite a short month, February was jam-packed with headline news. Here’s your monthly wrap-up for February.
We begin in Atlanta, Georgia, the site of Super Bowl LIII between the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams.
This game feels like it took place ages ago.
I won’t get into it too much, because you can find my fully-fleshed out piece on the Super Bowl by clicking here, but I can certainly sum up the contest in a few words.
So, basically, the Patriots left Atlanta with their sixth Super Bowl championship, tying the Pittsburgh Steelers for most all-time by a franchise. The difference is, it took the Steelers 40 years to win 6. It took the Patriots half that time.
For most football fans, this game was incredibly boring, and that mindset probably wasn’t without just cause. It was 13-3, the lowest scoring Super Bowl of all time, and one year removed from one of the best offensive Super Bowls of all time, a 74-point, 1,000-yard-plus showcase with a satisfying ending of the underdog defeating the Goliath.
This was the opposite of that.
Or, it was a defensive feast, if you appreciate both sides of the game of football.
The Rams punted on their first 8 possessions of the game before scoring points. The first touchdown of the game came in the 4th quarter, as the Patriots finally managed to string together some passes to put them in the red zone, before Sony Michel punched it in from two yards out to give New England a 10-3 lead.
Bill Belichick was the hero of the game for New England. His defensive game plan stifled the Rams’ potent offense, and Sean McVay’s squad failed to make any kind of adjustments, as the Patriots defense slowly wore them down.
New England’s defense came up big a number of times, including Kyle Van Noy’s long sack of Jared Goff on third down, a huge pass breakup by Jason McCourty on Brandin Cooks in the endzone, in which McCourty came from the other side of the field to make the play after the first defender blew his coverage; the play kept the Rams out of the end zone and kept the Patriots in front.
But there was no bigger play than the one made by Stephon Gilmore. The defensive back has quietly turned into one of the premiere shutdown corners in football, and his performance erased any doubt of his ability to perform well, as his interception of Jared Goff on the Rams’ final drive sealed the victory for the Patriots.
Julian Edelman was named the game’s MVP, as his offensive production was the best of any player on the field- 10 catches, 141 yards. The game could have had a number of players named MVP, but Edelman was borderline unstoppable for most of the game.
In what was a month of highs and lows for the Patriots (we’ll get to the low ones later), earning a Super Bowl victory when everyone doubted their chances mere months ago had to be one of the sweeter moments in the franchise’s history.
In other sports news…
I WENT TO THE WESTMINSTER DOG SHOW!
For those of you who don’t know, I do a sports podcast every Monday with my partner Kata Stevens called Under Further Review. We drink different adult beverages and talk about sports.
And somehow, our little show managed to get media credentials to the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show at Madison Square Garden before.
Now, I have never been to MSG before.
I have a habit of going to sports arenas to see events that are not the primary sport of the arena. I have been to Gillette Stadium for lacrosse, ice hockey, and soccer, but never football. The first time I went to Barclays Center, it was for boxing. And now, my first time at the World’s Most Famous Arena was spent watching puppers prance up and down a field of AstroTurf.
But hey. There were dogs, and boy do I love dogs.
One of our main questions for the podcast was: “Is dog showing a sport?”
Initially my answer was “no,” but I suppose I was quickly proven wrong. Every dog we saw backstage at the show was being groomed akin to how an athlete prepares for a game- obsessively, furiously, and intricately. One of the handlers even had me feel her dog’s hind leg muscle. So… strength training, I guess.
We interviewed a number of dogs and their handlers, including one Kiera Karlin, a 16-year old Junior Handler from Atlanta, and her Finnish Lapphund, Dusky. This is Kiera’s third year at Westminster. Here’s Kata’s interview with the pair:
I also met my new favorite kind of dog: the Norwich Terrier.
Isn’t she the cutest thing you’ve ever seen? Her name is Belle, and she is not unlike if a chicken nugget were a dog.
Belle was one of a number of fan favorite dogs at the event.
Speaking of fans, the arena was packed on the second night of the show- like, I could not find a seat, even with my media pass. Eventually, some seats did open up and I got myself a great view of the arena.
I didn’t expect the crowd to be so into it, but every dog that was introduced on the Jumbotron was met with a loud reaction that was a mix of an “aww,” a cheer, and an “oh my god”-esque gasp.
And when these dogs walked the promenade, the place got LOUD.
If you’re not familiar with how the dog show works, let me break it down quickly:
There are hundreds of breeds of dogs. Every entry for a given breed competes to win “Best of Breed.” So, the best, say, golden retriever, will then compete in their group stage.
There are seven groups: Working, Sporting, Non-sporting, Toy, Hound, Herding, and Terrier.
The best of breeds compete for best group based on poise, grooming, and presentation. The judge picks his or her top eight, which do another round of judging. At this point, the judge will select his top four, the first of which wins the group and advances to compete for Best in Show.
The Best in Show is judged exactly the same way, with the winners of each of the seven groups going through a round of judging to determine Best in Show.
Belle, the Norwich Terrier from earlier, was a fan favorite, and drew many cheers from the crowd as she pranced across the floor. She was even picked for the top eight of the terrier group, to which the crowd erupted.
However, the Norwich was not selected for the top four. This drew the ire of the crowd, and they booed the judge’s decision.
There was booing. At a dog show.
Good for people for being passionate about their favorite dogs.
For Best in Show, there was even more controversy, as one of the handlers and her Schipperke were disqualified before judging could even take place. A conflict of interest- the judge had co-owned dogs with one of the Schipperke handler’s co-owners- had elicited confused groans from the crowd.
I just wonder why either the judge wasn’t replaced or the Schipperke handler wasn’t replaced or disqualified in a prior round. I feel like this issue could have been avoided altogether with a little thinking ahead.
As for the remaining six dogs, two stood out: A Longhaired Dachshund named Burns and a Sussex Spaniel named Bean, the latter receiving loud chants of his named that echoed around the arena.
But the cheers turned to boos once again as the judge named King, the Wire Fox Terrier, as Best in Show. If you’re wondering why, Wire Fox Terriers have won 15 Best in Shows, seven more than the next best breed.
It’s a lot like the Patriots winning again. Everyone’s annoyed by it and the likeable underdogs (lol dog puns) get pushed to the wayside.
As the disgruntled crowd exited the arena, I was able to grab more pictures of dogs in the holding area. If you want to see more, head over to Under Further Review’s Facebook or Instagram (@ufrvodcast) to see the full photo album.
12/10. Would highly recommend going.
I don’t really feel the need to talk about the State of the Union address.
I don’t really care what the President had to say, although from what I’ve read, it was a lot about what was wrong, and not a lot about what was going to happen in order to fix it.
Have I mentioned that this whole administration is the epitome of cheap plastic spray-painted gold? Lots of talking about what’s wrong, and complaining when it doesn’t get fixed- even though he’s got all the cards in his hand- and zero talking about the future.
What I do want to talk about it Nancy Pelosi’s brilliant “fuck you” clap toward Donald Trump.
“We must reject the politics of revenge, resistance and retribution, and embrace the boundless potential of cooperation, compromise, and the common good,” he said.
And Pelosi served him with this incredible clap and smirk. With full eye contact. Ice cold.
This woman is the queen of condescending applause. She is the hero we deserve.
In other brief news from the month, the NASA’s Mars Opportunity Rover ran out of battery life, after a 14 year stay on the Red Planet, beginning in 2004.
Along with its twin rover Spirit, Opportunity was tasked with, at least principally, determining if the potential life exists on Mars by searching for traces of recoverable water, as well as examining the planet’s climate and geology.
Spirit got stuck in a “sand trap” in late 2009, and cut off communication from Earth in March 2010.
Both rovers’ missions were planned as 90 sol (day on Mars) missions. Opportunity lasted for 5498 sols, 40 times the length of the originally planned mission.
With last contact coming in June 2018, NASA sent over 1,000 messages to the rover before officially declaring the mission over on February 13th.
Now, the whole “my battery is low and it’s getting dark” transmission from Opportunity is mostly false. Before a dust storm on the Martian surface back in June (which was probably the fatal blow to the rover’s systems), Opportunity did transmit something about its battery being low, but the quote is merely just a poeticized version of something the rover may or may not have said.
What is true, however, is that NASA’s final transmission to Opportunity was “I’ll Be Seeing You” recording by Billie Holiday.
And if that doesn’t make you cry, you have no soul.
A new segment on the Wrap Sheet is called:
Thanks, I Hate It!
In this month’s version of Thanks, I Hate It, Disney released a trailer for Aladdin.
It’s pretty much a shot for shot remake of the original trailer from the 1992 animated film.
Disney really knows how to capitalize on nostalgia, that’s for sure. From The Jungle Book onward, they’ve done solid reboots of classic animated films. It’s this, Dumbo, and The Lion King in the newest slate, and I believe Aladdin will be no different.
And hey, even Will Smith is playing the Genie! I can see it! Like, I believe I can hear Will Smith voicing the Genie.
And then he was in the trailer.
Thanks, I hate Genie Will Smith.
It’s off putting. A blue Fresh Prince with pointy ears. Give the guy his vest like in some of the promotional material!
That I can jive with.
So I mean, hopefully we’ll come to love Genie Will Smith. And Robin Williams would probably just want us to enjoy the movie for what it is.
But for now, this is weird and I don’t like it.
In other movie trailer news, Disney dropped a trailer for Frozen 2.
There’s a lot of water.
And it’s fall now.
Are we going to get more seasonal movies of Frozen, and in the summer Olaf finally finds his true love?
Also, Frozen’s a good movie.
Those of you who didn’t like it are jumping on the bandwagon because it got popular and overplayed on the radio. Get over yourself.
Speaking of movies, the Oscars were last Sunday.
Let’s talk about those, because I have some things I want to get off my chest.
There was much debate about a host-less awards, and how it would affect the ceremony.
When Kevin Hart stepped down from hosting, there was a mad dash to find a replacement, but no suitable person (or Muppet) could be found.
And while Kevin Hart would have been a funny, effective host, I think an Oscars without a host moved along smoothly and was just as effective.
I watched the show with people who complained that the show was boring, and that a host could have made it more entertaining to watch.
On that point, I disagree. If you’re invested, the Oscars are just as enticing without a host as they are without one.
Also, the show ran 3 hours and 22 minutes, almost a half hour shorter than last year’s. I am more than willing to sacrifice time for entertainment. A four hour Oscars is unbearable.
If you’re going to have an Oscar host, their duties should at least be hands off. A welcome, an opening monologue, and a closing- maybe like ONE bit intermittently. That’s really all we need. I like Jimmy Kimmel, but I don’t need him talking to celebrities like he does every night on his show, nor do I need him “surprising” random people off the street by bringing them into the theatre.
I’m also a fan of montages, and I felt like we could have had more of that.
Also, they didn’t do any favors for themselves in showing all the awards live. For at least the first hour or so, the speeches were BAD.
I don’t want to watch people stumble through pieces of paper and not know what they’re going to say. You need to keep it interesting. Even if you don’t think you’re going to win, have a speech. Practice that speech. It will make you more watchable.
As for the awards themselves, I didn’t do as well as last year, going 16/24 in 2019 versus 21/24 in 2018.
The awards featured no big surprises, save for Olivia Colman winning Best Actress over the heavily-favored Glenn Close.
Alfonso Cuarón walked away with three awards for his work on Roma, including Best Director, Best Cinematography, and Best Foreign Language Film.
But the biggest conversation came when Green Book won Best Picture over Roma.
The best way I can describe this selection is safe. It’s an incredible conservative, safe pick for the Academy, considering they awarded Best Picture to Moonlight two years ago.
Green Book’s successes come from its heart, and solid performances from Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali.
But its drawbacks far outweigh its positives.
The script is rife with cliches and manipulative moments.
It passes off stereotypes and blatant racism as playful banter- such as when Viggo Mortensen’s character, the racist-but-I-guess-not-really(?) Tony “Lip” Vallelonga unironically teaches Ali’s Don Shirley how to eat fried chicken, because “his people love fried chicken and ‘colored greens’.”
We are shown so much of Vallelonga in the film: his backstory, his family, his history, his stakes as a character.
Shirley is portrayed as the “magical negro,” an archetype character concept white filmmakers have not seemed to understand is highly problematic- he is measured, just, well-spoken and wise, and exists almost to serve as the catalyst for which the racist white character learns to understand the error of his ways.
Shirley is a man with many demons he has to wrestle with, none of which are gone into in great depth. In a poignant moment in the film, he watched black farmhands from a roadside as Vallelonga fixes the car they are riding in. Shirley has a monologue later in the film about feeling lost between races, being too black to be white, and being too white to be black- but that’s it.
Now, not to take away from Mahershala Ali’s performance; the guy won an Oscar, for goodness sake. But being charismatic can only go so far in character development. His reasoning for going on a concert tour of the south is explained in only a brief philosophical statement by one of his white group mates, about it taking courage to change people’s hearts. Don Shirley deserves better than being pushed to the side as a stock character (he was also never mentioned in the producers’ Best Picture acceptance speech) with minimal to no change or character arc.
I feel like the Oscars showed their age this year. It’s like they picked Moonlight and they were like “okay, we picked a progressive film, we can stop now,” or they thought “black movies are progressive, but only if it’s something that all the white people can resonate with.” It’s like they keep trying to change what’s wrong with the ceremony by throwing all the wrong things at it.
There were many better films this year than Green Book. A Star is Born. BlacKkKlansman. Roma. Black Panther. Vice. The Favourite. Literally any of those films were a) better and b) less problematic than the film that won. I actually even liked Bohemian Rhapsody, but it definitely falls at the lower echelon of the nominees..
Green Book will go down as one of the worst Best Picture winners since Crash. Mark my words.
I promise we’ll end happy, but first we have to get through our...
DOUCHEBAG OF THE MONTH
This is Jussie Smollett.
He’s got a supporting role on the show Empire. He’s good on it.
At the end of last month, a report surfaced that Smollett was attacked by two people in an alleged hate crime. Smollett had discovered a drawing of a stick figure hanging from a tree with a gun pointed at it.
“Smollett you will die” and “MAGA” were written on the note.
A week later, Smollett was reported to have been attacked by two men in ski masks. He was met with racial and homophobic slurs, as well as phrases like “This is MAGA country.” He was treated at a local Chicago hospital and released later the next morning.
Social media was quick to defend Smollett and place the blame on those supporting the Trump administration, something Smollett had been an outspoken critic of.
But weeks later police investigated the home of two “persons of interest,” which turned out to be two Nigerian brothers who had both been extras on Empire. While the two were let go, more information was released a few days later, including a tip that Smollett had paid the men $3,500 to stage the attack, as well as video footage of the two men purchasing gloves, ski masks, and red hats.
On the 20th, Smollett was charged with falsifying a police report. On the 21st, Smollett turned himself in to Chicago police.
So there are a couple of theories behind while Smollett appeared to stage this attack, but the main one seems to be an attempt to further his career. Smollett was dissatisfied by his salary on Empire, and could perhaps use the momentum of coming back from this hate crime as leverage for more pay.
Being a martyr would, I suppose, result in some kind of traction for him. If everything he had said were true, I’m sure the support for him would continue to be tremendous.
Apparently, he had heard a story from Empire creator Lee Daniels, whose cousin was the victim of a homophobic assault, which may have also been reason for Smollett to stage the assault.
The bigger issue is what this says about hate crimes, or just assault in general, in this country, especially when it comes to false reports.
There are instances of assaults and hate crimes every single day in this country. And I’m sure that not all of them can make the news based on the sheer volume of them.
When they involve celebrities, they become even more magnified.
False reports make headlines. They have this ability to throw a magnifying glass on the liar and glorify those who are innocent. Take the Duke lacrosse sexual assault scandal, for example.
In this country, especially nowadays, when people in power (white people, men, etc) feel marginalized and collectively judged, they get defensive.
When people saw that Gillette commercial about toxic masculinity, there were a lot of men who were upset because they felt judged collectively.
I covered it in last month’s wrap sheet, but if you can’t look at the bigger picture of all of us needing to improve as a whole, you have other things to worry about, starting with yourself.
And I get the feeling that this will divide some people, and spur certain people to say “SEE! I was right! People are lying because they want fame and money!”
Naturally, this ties back to believing survivors of sexual assault.
Let me be clear: this changes nothing about believing survivors of hate crimes or sexual assault.
Yes, there are people that are liars. Liars make headlines.
But do not use this as an excuse to hush a survivor of a hate crime or an assault. Because 99.9% of the time, they were victims.
So Jussie Smollett is our douchebag of the month for trying to stage a hate crime and bringing fuel to the non-believing fire.
But we should always still be vigilant of violence in this country. Always.
That is all.
Finally, here’s the best thing I saw this month.
The Best Thing I Saw This Month
This is, I guess, a charity hockey game, and these players are about to square up to fight.
Someone’s about to spit chiclets.
Or are they?
Ordinarily I would scoff at a stunt like this, but I laughed. A lot. It was totally unexpected for a pair of hockey players to break out into a dance after squaring up to fight.
I don’t know who these guys are, but look at that FORM! This is some Olympic style ice dancing here.
We all have to remember that sports are fun. Sometimes we can all use a little bit of a laugh during some friendly competition.
I’m sorry I’m so late on the wrap sheet (again), you guys. February was just too short, and I promise that with 31 days in March, you’ll have next month’s on schedule.
Stay alert out there.