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Tuesday, Apr 9, 2013
As baseball season gets underway, 'Knuckleball' considers the poetry, the puzzle, and the many appeals of this most elusive pitch.

“It has a mind of its own,” says Tim Wakefield, once of the Red Sox. “You let it go and see where it takes you.” It is the knuckleball, and Wakefield was one of the few major league pitchers to make it his. As Wakefield does his best to explain the pitch - the idea of it, the mechanics, the effects—the scene cuts from his interview to a shot of his silhouette walking away, framed by a narrow doorway and dissolving into the bright yellow sunlight of the ball field beyond. The image—blurred and intriguing—sets up the story of the knuckleball, in Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg’s terrific documentary, in Knuckleball!, a story that’s both utterly specific and enticingly elusive. Now available on VOD and DVD, the film considers the quirky history and ongoing mythology of the pitch, as well as the men who accept its challenges it. These men comprise a club with precious few members, and seeing them together is one of this documentary’s great pleasures. Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey won last year’s Cy Young Award, but still, the pitch remains a puzzle to most observers, a slow pitch that doesn’t spin, that tricks batters and sometimes, pitchers too. Knuckleballers might strike out multiple opponents in a game, stunning rival teams and drawing the media’s hot spotlight. And they might not.

See PopMatters’ review.



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Monday, Feb 4, 2013
Despite billions of dollars worth of half-time and commercial hype, the most interesting part of the show was the game.

Super Bowl XLVII managed to do something completely unprecedented. With a rather lackluster half-time show and the worst crop of commercials we’ve seen in years, the game was actually the most interesting part of the day.


CBS started their special coverage of the game seven hours before the game actually started. The highlight of this was an announcer’s assessment that the game was “going to be very competitive”. This is why they are paid big bucks, people. 


Easily the best performance of the night, a choir of 26 students from Sandy Hook Elementary School sang a pitch-perfect “America the Beautiful” with Jennifer Hudson.


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Monday, Jun 18, 2012
The fishermen persist in their private mythologies and keep up their essential contests, but still they remain close -- amid the most strikingly expansive landscapes you might imagine.

“The biggest mistake made about fishing is that it’s about catching fish,” observes J.T. Van Zandt at the start of Low & Clear. “Fishing,” he goes on, “is a micro examination of life itself.” The film illustrates, not only with the usual images of beautiful streams and rivers, wide skies, and rocky slopes—here shot primarily during a winter flyfishing trip to Canada. The movie rather digs into the “examination” too, offering a version of “life itself” that sets J.T.‘s philosophical bent against that of his favorite fishing partner, mentor, and friend, Alex “Xenie” Hall. While J.T. maintains that the beauty of the activity lies in perfecting techniques, in contemplating the magnificent environment and perhaps one’s place in it, Xeni is more concerned with catching fish. Indeed, he keeps a journal of his catches, as well as a calendar and an extensive visual record. “Photo album after photo album, shoebox after shoebox,” J.T. marvels, “Photos of every fish the guy has ever caught in his life.” Cut to Xeni, not quite explaining, “Just to freeze frame that moment in time, yeah, it’s a little weird.” But, he adds, “Time is precious,” and he resists “dividing it up” into a career or a family. “Right now, [J.T.‘s] behind a desk somewhere, I’m imagining, clutching his cell phone.”


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Monday, Feb 6, 2012
Which Superbowl commercials did we love? What was just a waste of our time?

Advertisers fought for the favor of one of the biggest TV audiences of the year with heavily hyped commercials, and it mostly paid off for viewers. Though last year featured some great ads, 2012’s crop was just as good, if not better. Some viewers (including myself) complained of sexist overtones in some 2011 spots, but things finally seem to be somewhat headed in a new direction. Though there were far too many underdressed females (as in the annual GoDaddy.com sleaze-fest), there was also some male tackiness to go around, too—as in H&M’s close-ups of David Beckham in his underwear. However, the vast majority of commercials steered clear of controversy, and fell into one of the following seven categories…


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Monday, Feb 6, 2012
Arguably the biggest sporting event of the year (sorry, Olympics!), the Super Bowl telecast is usually the highest-rated program of the year. Did this year’s show live up to the hype?

Arguably the biggest sporting event of the year (sorry, Olympics!), the Super Bowl telecast is usually the highest-rated program of the year. Last year’s mix of highly hyped commercials, a modern halftime act, and an interesting match-up of teams made Super Bowl XLV the most-watched show in TV history. Therefore, all eyes were on NBC last night for Super Bowl XLVI. Did this year’s show live up to the hype? Read on to find out.


Pre-Game


The festivities kicked off with a good, old-fashioned country duet of “America The Beautiful” sung by Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton. The married couple gave the song proper respect.


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