Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Thin Slice of Heaven

I witnessed a new cultural low today.

We, as a culture, have apparently sunk to the point that articles must be labeled with warnings to prevent us from starting something we can't finish.  That's right, I'm talking about seeing an online piece labeled with "3 minute read" to alert the reader that this won't take too long.

My guess is that when an article warns that it's a 13 or 15-minute read - gasp! - that saves those with short attention spans from even starting to read it. I mean, what's the point?

Needless to say, I found all this a bit disturbing. Does no one enjoy diving into an article without knowing how much precious time might be lost to reading it or is that just me?

And don't get me started on today being designated as "Single-tasking day," our annual official reminder to quit doing so much at once. Look, I don't need no stinkin' holiday to tell me I can stop walking the trash to the Supercan long enough to watch three mounted policeman clopping down Henry Street like I did this afternoon.

I'll task at my own pace, thank you very much.

Given the amount of online attention, I would be remiss not to acknowledge the passing of designer Karl Lagerfeld. Not because I'm any kind of fashionista, but because he's another icon dying in my lifetime. Besides, any man who goes on records saying, "Sweatpants are a sign of defeat" should be hailed.

As for his, "Vanity is the healthiest thing in life," well, I'm still ruminating on that one. Either way, RIP, Karl.

Tonight was given over to a Penny Marshall tribute at the Byrd Theater. True, she died two months ago, but it seems it took a while to get the appropriate films to celebrate her. I went for "A League of Their Own," but they were showing "Awakenings" afterward for the truly bereaved.

Walking into the Byrd, manager Todd greeted me by saying, "I was just thinking we've had all these special events and I haven't seen you in weeks." It was a good moment to inform him I'd been at Sunday's screening of "From Here to Eternity" and he hadn't. In fact, it was the first time I'd heard a pre-recorded message from Todd instead of the real thing.

Inside, a woman was squealing with delight about how excited she was to see this movie again finally. Her friend agreed, saying, "I haven't seen it in years!" Me, either. My last time was in 1992 when it came out.

One thing I know for sure is that when I saw it then, I would have had no idea where Willamette, Oregon was and that's where the story begins. Nor would I have recognized the field where the girls' teams have their try-outs, but now I'd recognize the ivy-covered wall at Wrigley Field anywhere.

Once I got past the always-lipsticked mouths of the players and their artfully smudged dirty faces and accepted that this was not a docu-sports film, I really enjoyed it in a '90s sort of a way.

I mean, the hair was so early Clinton years, if you know what I'm saying, and so not 1943.

I'll be the first to admit that I didn't realize that in 1992 we still thought it was funny (and acceptable onscreen) to shut up an annoying child by throwing a baseball at his head and knocking him out. And to those who say that's just comedy? Sorry, that's like saying you didn't know blackface was wrong in the '80s.

Not bloody likely.

Geena Davis, always a pleasure to watch, excelled not only in her acting but in her baseball skills. Jon Lovitz did nothing more than play Jon Lovitz, but it was funny enough. Lines like, "I'm just gonna go home, grab a shower and shave, give the wife a little pickle-tickle and I'm on my way" sound downright tame to 21st century ears.

I'd forgotten how good Madonna's dance scene in the bar was, but I was also gratified to see that she had on a girdle when her partner threw her overhead, because no self-respecting woman in 1943 - even one who played baseball for a living - would have gone out at night without a girdle on.

Continuity, I thank you for that, as well as for the pointy white bras the players wore.

Rosie O'Donnell was downright adorable mocking herself - "She was a dancer, I was a bouncer" - while also demonstrating that she really was awfully good at baseball.

Knowing that the bruises and scrapes in the movie were actual bruises and scrapes didn't do anything for me, but watching women slide into bases erased any doubt how they got them. All in the name of ACTING, I suppose.

Tom Hanks was his usual charming (if also alcoholic, in this case) self, never more so than when he referred to a woman by saying, "You gorgeous stack of pancakes, you."

Who wouldn't want to be compared to something that tasty?

Of course the movie's main strength was not the athletic platitudes ("Baseball gets inside you. It lights you up. You play like you love it.") but that it was based on a documentary about these women who blazed a trail in baseball while the men were off to war. I wouldn't have been a fraction as interested had the story not been based on facts, which made it even cooler in the final scene when many of the original players were onscreen.

But I'll tell you what I would have done. Even if the film had come with a warning  - 128 minute viewing - I'd still have sat down at the Byrd and watched it start to finish. But I'm starting to admit that if everything were labeled with the amount of time required, perhaps far fewer people would have come.

Horrors. Could it be that being at home in sweat pants avoiding long articles is enough?

If so, I don't even want to know. There's no cryin' about cultural decline.

1 comment:

  1. Ha ha ha!!! You’re just hilarious.
    That is all.