for 4 June 2001. Updated every WEEKDAY.
Indy 2000! Part 2
I've been reading suck for years, and you guys always make me laugh, or at least grin halfheartedly...
But our mascot is a puppy named Butler Blue, certainly not a big bad Nazi. Incidentally, cute little Sarah Fischer is a Butler student. She could take the dog in a fair fight.
Thanks for the publicity,
Danielle M. Henry
What makes you think Sarah fights fair? Didn't you see her take out that other lady driver last year?
If you're dog isn't a Nazi, why does the big inflatable balloon version of him in the Indy 500/Memorial Day parade have him (?) posed Sieg Heiling? What were we supposed to think? That he's more like an ancient Roman Centurion? Something about that big bulldog face, the SS salute, and the school motto "What Holocaust?" got us jumping to conclusions I guess.
Shame on you for regurgitating an Indy 500, (July 2000) story on Memorial Day 2001.
The sound of freedom isn't those steroid-induced, suped up, gas sucking, race cars emitting megadecimal noise that causes major hearing loss. It's the foot marching and heel clicking of military trainees at Champaign, Quantico, Fort Campbell, Pensacola, Lackland, and other places.
Freedom is never free, it's paid each and every day by American men and women in uniform. Show one of your own writers some much deserved respect----Private First Class Ambrose Beers.
I wrote this poem dedicated to him and the other sacrificial lambs who paid with life and limbs and continue to purchase our freedom on a daily basis. I know Ambrose is still alive and kicking, but he gives up more of his freedom than those immigrant, beer sucking, ungrateful Serbian pigs sitting in the stands at Indianapolis.
"Is Freedom really Free"
Is freedom really free
Is freedom really free
Gas the cars, burn the fuel
Is freedom really free
Is Freedom really free
~ Swordless Warrior May 28, 2001
Thanks, SW, not just for your timely and heartfelt Memorial Day message, but for bringing up the scandal of corporate funding. For too long, the mainstream media have tried to sweep corporate funding under the table! It's about time the people heard about corporate funding. I'm outraged to know that this kind of funding is going on! And who's getting all this funding? Not hardworking Americans like you and me NO! It's going to corporations! And what are they concerned about? Not about our safety NO! They're only thinking about corporate profits! And how are they making those profits? Not by thinking of the children NO! They're making it through unrestrained, unregulated corporate funding! Is this what our veterans died for in Grenada and The Gulf War? NO! Don't let the corporate funders take away our right to a drug-free environment and better schools for our seniors. We say it again, NO to corporate funding!
Ask a question, get an answer!
If there's an attentive reader out there who reads plenty of comics, I'd appreciate the name of that woman who used to draw the "Peter Makes the Scene" comics, which featured the adventures of a single woman and her pet penis, in which the detached cock always wore a bowtie, male-stripper-style. The comic was pretty funny, and even funnier was that I heard the cartoonist later found Jesus, and now spends her time repudiating the immorality of her earlier work.
Her name is Terry Boyce. I remember her stories about the Peter the pet penis from Robert Crumb's magazine Weirdo I never thought I would hear anyone refer to the stories in those old magazines! I read Weirdo mostly for Crumb's work, but as far as I know, Peter did not "always" wear a bowtie, just in one of the stories (about a pet exhibition use your imagination here). It's true that Terry Boyce later became a Christian and burned all her Peter stories. In Weirdo No. 26 (1989) there's a long letter from the newborn Christian Terry, replete with Bible quotes and all...
Thanks Hakan, it's all coming back to me now. That's a pretty ill-timed career move Terry Boyce made by finding Jesus. If she could only have held out another decade she would have a big reputation right now, with ten years of being a leading light in the Frank Women's Humor About Sex genre. Sarah Jessica Parker would pronounce herself a fan. She'd be doing the cover artwork for Run Catch Kiss. A spot on Politically Incorrect would be waiting every few months.
Actually, maybe she's better off with Jesus.
He No Batter
-- Question the first: Why discuss the lingering effects of the film "Bad News Bears" without ever examining the film itself?
-- When oh when will someone (such as your insightful self) ever examine the 1970's "road" movies (Aloha Bobby & Rose, Vanishing Point, Badlands, Two-Lane Blacktop, Sugarland Express, Dirty Mary & Crazy Larry... the trend finally petering out into camp, bad wigs and stuntwork with "Smoky and the Bandit"). This was a huge factor in the first half of the decade.
Well, it's a bit of an imposition to discuss a film when you don't have a self-selected audience of people in the mood for a close reading. Either they've seen the movie and don't need the reminders, or they haven't and will be confused and irritated by your going over the details. But here's my Bad News Bears koan: The real key character in the movie is Muhammed.
As for seventies road/chase/smokey movies, you may be on to something. Stay tuned, good buddy.
In yet another of those weird web-related synergies, the recent death of director Michael Ritchie seems to be getting an unexpected amount of attention. I wrote a brief obit/retrospective to share with friends, only to hear many of the same sentiments on NPR's "Saturday Edition" that weekend.
Strangely, the film I spent the most time discussing is the film NPR's Scott Simon and Elvis Mitchell completely ignored the infamous "Bad News Bears." So it seemed appropriate for my favorite webzine to fill in that gap.
While I enjoyed the piece, I'd like to add a few comments of my own on the film and the decade which produced it. Please indulge me while I quote my own Ritchie obit:
... ["The Bad News Bears" represents] the rise and fall of the Great Seventies Sports Movie (GSSM), a distinct sub-genre that produced some of the best films of that decade.
Prior to the Seventies, sports films tended to be rose-tinted biopics of legendary heroes (such as "Jim Thorpe, All American" eliding nimbly over the great man's real struggles and casting famously non-Native American Burt Lancaster, the sappy "Pride of the Yankees" and the insultingly bowdlerized "Babe Ruth Story" starring a hopelessly miscast Jim Bendix) or slap-sticky, idiot comedies ("It Happens Every Spring" or "Pigskin Parade," for example). But "The Longest Yard" (1975) introduced a whole new style of sports film, using sports as a metaphor for the social structures that demand sacrifice and performance while stifling individualism. The archetypal GSSM can be identified as possessing the following elements:
A cocky, brash or arrogant hero, whose skills no longer justify his or her boasting
An avaricious villain, who has no interest in the game itself beyond profits or wining
A team that pushes itself beyond its limitations to approach greatness
A back-stage or off-the-field relationship that creates tensions during the contest itself
Looks familiar, of course, but there's another property that distinguishes these films such as "The Bingo Long Travelling All-Stars and Motor Kings" (1976), "Slap Shot" (1977) and the last of the GSSMs, "North Dallas Forty" (1978). That property is:
THEY LOSE THE BIG GAME.
Why is that so important? Why is it, in fact, essential? Because otherwise, the story becomes a fairy tale that justifies the sport as a legitimate, humane institution as an acceptable means of expressing self-worth.
But the GSSM was not interested in legitimating the social structure - in fact, it's goal was the exact opposite. The whole point of the GSSM is that the social structure is inherently oppressive, cruel and dehumanizing. The protagonists must ultimately choose between personal fulfillment OR victory they are mutually exclusive goals.
"The Bad News Bears" (1976) helped to create the template that would soon destroy the sports film genre, but it's not that film's fault that later producers chose to cut the heart out of the story and peddle endless retreads of the first two acts. Seen today, the film still has considerable punch in its depiction of kids as angry, defiant objects of parental and peer pressure. These kids are weird in precisely the way real kids are weird they are not cute ragamuffins whose problems are magically solved by winning the game. The humor and there's plenty, much of it cruel derives as often as not from the kids' befuddled reactions to the ridiculous expectations shoved upon them. The climax is perhaps even more surprising in retrospect, since any rewrite made today would loose it in the first draft.
"The Bad News Bears" was too successful for it's and Ritchie's own good, spawning two increasingly imbecilic sequels (and a short-lived TV series) which traded on the baser comedy of contemporary teen fare (such as "Meatballs") rather than the original's colder, harsher vision. Combined with the simplification of the story arc that Hollywood subsequently imposed on later sports movies, "Bears" is now tainted with the stigma of ushering in a sea of trite crap, an accusation that is unfortunate and unfair. (Personally, I've always blamed "The Natural" after all, in the book, Roy Hobbs STRIKES OUT!)
Ritchie would later participate in tarnishing his own legacy "Wildcats" (1986) is practically the text-book inversion of what made "Bears" brilliant but in 1993 Ritchie was tapped by HBO to make "The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader Murdering Mom," with Holly Hunter in the title role. Ritchie used the opportunity to revisit his early work, combining the hypocrisy of organized competitions that preach "All American" values while practicing all manner of underhanded vice, with the manipulation of children to justify the needs of their parents. The themes of "Smile" and "Bad News Bears" are revisited in the post-Reagan nineties, but are now distilled through the lens of the popular media. Using a framing device that echoes Ritchie's cunning take on TV news and political debates from "The Candidate," "Mom" is presented as flashbacks (on film) inter-cut with Hunter's appearance on an unnamed TV talk show (shot on video). It's a canny use of literal media manipulation to explore the issue of image over reality and the drive to be perceived as successful regardless of the personal or human cost.
Like all his best films, "Mom" won prizes for its script.
Hope you enjoy these remarks as much as I enjoyed yours.
Thanks, Robert. It's true that The Bad News Bears has been spoiled in public memory by a long and awful line of knockoffs that cut most of the original's third act and all of its acidic insights. Few movies have been so poorly served by the vagaries of reputation.
I am surprised that the crack Suck research team neglected to mention that seminal actor of the late 70's and early 80's, Jackie Early Haley. Subsequent roles in Breaking Away and Losin' It, cemented his role as the symbol of the army jacket wearing, stoner tough guy. I only wonder where his careerpath has lead him...
Thanks, David. In my opinion Haley didn't come into his own until a few years later. In The Bad News Bears he was still taller than most of his castmates. Only in later life did his diminutive stature become apparent, and this was one figure whose status as an angry guy depended on his also being short. But The Bad News Bears certainly stands as Vic Morrow's greatest performance at least until the Twilight Zone decapitation footage is made public.
I greatly fear the notion of the 70's being a turning point has become GenX's answer to yuppie self-infatuation. There is, fortunately, no equivalent to the Summer of Love for those of us who grew up then (though in retrospect I did miss a great opportunity with a girl from the Keystone State when I was 14). Please, no Abraham Simpson-esque "when I was a boy" lines. The world is full enough as it is.
You're certainly full of brilliant insights and penetrating questions lately, aren't you, Rob? First you break the news that Suck is having financial problems under an assumed name on Plastic, now you spot our mouth-watering seventies jones!
We have no desire to replace the tyranny of the sixties with a new tyranny of the seventies. The notion of the seventies as a cultural turning point, bogus as it clearly is, is out there, and we wanted to note that in all the catalogues of watershed movies and events from that time, The Bad News Bears which is the only one we can distinctly recall actually being a watershed never gets mentioned. We appreciate the underappreciated.