My Biggest Disappointment

Today’s post isn’t going to be a persuasive piece like I generally write. Today I just wanted to tell you a story about the biggest disappointment I have ever experienced… in the last 24 hours.

I realize I’m being dramatic, but the emotional trauma is still very real to me and I need to be able to sort out my thoughts in writing. Around Christmas time, I downloaded a relatively new game called Fortnite: Battle Royale. I was instantly addicted. Basically, you and 99 other players are air-dropped into a massive map. From there, you need to choose where to land wisely because this could make or break your game. If you land in a town, your chances of finding good weapons and supplies are really high, but you’re also more likely to die right away because everybody drops into the towns. However, if you drop into a more remote location, you are less likely to find good gear, but you’ll probably be alone wherever you land. After you land and collect gear, it’s every man for himself. The map will slowly be consumed by a deadly storm and all survivors are forced closer and closer together until there is only one man left standing. Winning a game is the ultimate glory due to the level of difficulty.

Fortnite Scene

In the months that I have been playing this game (off and on because I like to mix it up with the games I play), I have never once won a game. I have finished within the top 5 countless times, I’ve even placed second a handful of times, but none of these finishes have been more disappointing than last night’s.

Just a couple of days ago, Fortnite began a new season. With each new season comes a major map update to keep things fresh and exciting. This latest update messed with a few of my favorite landing spots, so I’ve spent the last few days trying to discover new places to land that pose little risk but potentially high reward. That being said, this has almost always ended disastrously for me. That is, until yesterday night.

I landed in a newer area towards the edge of the map. Right away I heard someone else running around the same area, so I grabbed a gun and hid to wait them out. He eventually came into sight so I started shooting at him. Luckily, I killed him before he killed me, but he still did some damage. I’m down to 82 health.

I collected his weapons, which were all really good, and started making my way away from the storm that was already quickly approaching. It was slow going because I had to go through several towns to get to the circle, which I’m always cautious around. All of a sudden, I spot someone just over a ridge, so I hide in a bush and fire at them. Unfortunately I didn’t kill him and he was able to build a fort. From there, he was on the lookout for me so I didn’t dare move. I waited until he decided to move on before I started to move again. That’s when I noticed the storm behind me. I started to sprint, but I was no match. I was stuck in the storm and losing health fast. The clip below is not me, but it’s just a good video to show the dangers of the storm.

While I was running, I see that the same guy was also caught in the storm. I couldn’t miss my opportunity. I slowed down for just a second to take him out. I didn’t have time to collect any of his supplies, I just kept sprinting and eventually got out of the storm. I’m down to 20 health.

It’s down to the final 10 players. I hide in a bush and just wait. And wait. Watching a few of the final players fight each other. The storm is about to move again so I start making my way to the center. Out of no where, I’m getting shot at, so I turn and start to run. I’m down to 11 health.

I make my way around behind a cliff, but before I get to safety, the storm envelopes me again right before it comes to another stop. I jump back to safety. I’m down to four health.

There are four players remaining. I keep hidden behind this cliff and wait. Watching the storm to make sure it’s not going to get me again. If I get caught again, I’m dead.

Three players remaining. The other two players get caught in a battle of building walls and forts. I sneak underneath their forts to avoid the storm and wait. Two players remaining, and I’m one of them. I wait for a second to make sure the other guy can’t see me and I break down a wall and jump through. I pull out one of my gun’s and he drops down in front of me but is facing the other way. He didn’t see me! I fire a few shots before he’s able to turn around and fire back. But all it took was one shot to take me out. I’m down to zero health.

It flips to show his screen and I see he was down to seven health. My adrenaline was pumping, I was angry. If I would’ve had a shotgun out, he would’ve been dead and I would’ve won.

I am full of nothing but disappointment in myself right now. Maybe this pain will pass. Maybe not. All I know is that I need to get a win to redeem myself. I’ll keep you updated on my journey to glory.

Shining a Light on The Shining

Jack Torrance from The Shining peeking through the door

Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining is a masterpiece of cinema and is considered by many to be the greatest horror film of all time. Stephen King’s The Shining is one of the greatest horror novels ever written. Though Stanley Kubrick adapted the film from Stephen King’s novel and ultimately tells the same story, these two pieces take a completely different approach to horror and suspense. Stephen King still maintains to this very day that he despises Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of his work. While the internet debates endlessly on whether or not The Shining is a good movie, I want to make a different case: The Shining is a great film, but a bad Stephen King film.

Before we get too deep, I want to make it clear that Stephen King is my favorite author and I read his work almost exclusively. Also, Stanley Kubrick is one of my favorite directors due to his attention to detail and his unique film style. I hope that my appreciation of both of these artists helps the case I am about to offer you.

The Shining: A Great Film

The genius of this movie is the fact that they show you their hand right at the beginning. The following clip is just one of many instances of foreshadowing that takes place within the first 15 minutes of the movie.

The way that Jack Torrance looks directly into the camera before addressing the hotel manager after he’s told this story is almost taunting the viewer, as if to say, “just wait until you see what I can do.” All of this foreshadowing at the beginning creates an instantaneous suspense that just keeps building as Jack dives deeper into madness. It sets the viewer on a dark path that they have no choice but to follow, even though they know what awaits them at the other end.

Set to the score of classical music played on synthesizers, this already scary path just gets more dreadful. Everything feels unnatural and inhuman when the music starts to play. There are plenty of odd noises mixed into the music to add to the dread, such as heartbeats, buzzing and screeches.

Kubrick adds in countless continuity issues like furniture moving or completely disappearing from frame to frame, just to add additional stress to the viewer’s brain. He also intentionally made the hotel spatially impossible to highlight the unnaturalness of their surroundings. For example, when they enter the manager’s office prior to the scene from above, it’s clear it’s in the center of the building, but somehow he still has a window view.

All of this genius attention to detail and use of psychology are what have cemented Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining as a true horror masterpiece, regardless of how true it holds to its source material. There’s a reason this is the most analyzed film ever that has spawned a documentary dedicated to deciphering the hidden messages left by Kubrick.

The Shining: A Bad Stephen King Film

As I stated earlier, Stephen King hates this movie. The video below is from an interview where King explains his distaste for the movie.

The biggest downfall of this movie is the fact that they show you their hand right at the beginning. Right from the start, the viewer can tell that Jack is unhinged and can see what lies at the other end of this dark path. They are not compelled to feel sympathy for Jack, but rather to just watch on in horror as he descends further into madness.

In the book, Jack is a flawed man from the start. He struggles with alcoholism and anger problems, which cost him his job. But ultimately, he was trying to be a better man. Even as the hotel begins to consume him (the hotel is a paranormal force in the book), there are moments when the reader is still able to see his humanity and is constantly rooting for him to triumph over this. Kubrick’s film lacks any of this humanity and it’s detrimental to the overall story.

The Shining: A Great Film with Shortcomings

Though there is a lack of humanity seen in the film, I think it started where it had to. Following the source material would have resulted in multiple movies with an endlessly slow and convoluted story unless you sat down to watch it all in one go.

Being a bad Stephen King film isn’t a bad thing either. There’s really only one or two movies that can claim to both be great films and great Stephen King films. The vast majority are either labeled under bad films and great Stephen King films or bad films and bad Stephen King films. And as the most adapted author ever, with over 199 movie credits to his name, that’s not a great track record. To be clear, this has nothing to do with Stephen King being a bad writer or anything, most of his work is just too complex to translate well onto film.

To truly appreciate Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of The Shining, you need to look at it independently of the book and consume it for what it is, a masterpiece of cinema.

Run with the Bulls

Chicago Bulls Huddle

Going into the 2017-2018 NBA season, there seemed to be very little reason to be optimistic for the future of the Chicago Bulls. During the previous season, they traded away two of their most consistent players, Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott, for a handful of underdeveloped, underwhelming players. To make matters worse in the offseason, they then go and trade All-Star Jimmy Butler for two injured players, Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn, and a draft pick, who ended up being Lauri Markannen. To all basketball fans and analysts, this was the most obvious rebuild in NBA history. It was also a head scratcher considering they had just made the playoffs and it looked like they were going to take down the top ranked Boston Celtics in the first round until Rajon Rondo got injured.

Going into the season, FiveThirtyEight projected the Bulls to win 27 games with the third worst record in the NBA. As of April 10, the last day of the Bulls’ season, they are 27-54, with their chances of getting another win pretty slim. They will finish with the seventh worst record in the league.

The preseason and early season got off to a rocky start with players out due to injury and a couple of players getting into a fight, which resulted in one being held out temporarily and the other being traded. These early struggles drove a stake into the morale of any fans who were still holding out hope.

However, despite internal problems, these players still came together and played as a team, even squeezing out a seven game win streak before Nikola Mirotic’s trade. Young players proved their worth through various points in the season, but no star shone as bright as rookie Markannen. Being the only player who could score early on in the season, with the most promising players out due to injuries, Markannen was able to develop quickly and impress much of the NBA. He joined an elite group of historic rookies in the second to last game of the season, including Bulls legend Michael Jordan, in the 1000/500 club. He even placed second in the NBA Skills Challenge to Brooklyn Net Spencer Dinwiddie, which showed his versatility.

After Kris Dunn and Zach LaVine finally returned from injury midway through the season, Markannen’s production slowed, but it gave him an opportunity to develop other parts of his game. These three showed on multiple occasions that they are more than capable of leading this young team and working together to be the next big three in the NBA.

After the All-Star break, management made the decision to reduce some of the better player’s minutes to put a bigger emphasis on losing and getting closer to the top pick in the NBA draft. I expected it to happen eventually, so I wasn’t too disheartened when they started losing left and right. There were a handful of games that they only dropped the lead in the 4th quarter and it seemed like they lost the game on purpose. If that’s the case, this team gives me a lot of hope.

The way I see it, this team over performed this entire season. With highlights such as strong performances from young players and the seven game win streak, there’s a bright future ahead for this young team. Management’s biggest focus needs to be on developing these young players, making the right moves in the draft, and, in my opinion, sticking with Fred Hoiberg as head coach. As long as they keep moving in the right direction, people will continue to run with the Bulls.

The Blues Brothers: An American Classic

Blues Brothers

As I stated on my about page, The Blues Brothers is my favorite movie of all time. Some of my reasoning for this is personal, some can be attributed to my fantastic taste in cinema. Either way, The Blues Brothers is an underrated, under-watched movie with timeless comedy and the best car chase scenes in film.

In terms of the personal reasons for my enjoyment of the film, this is also my grandpa’s favorite movie. Growing up, whenever it was too cold or too wet to go outside, my grandpa would turn on this movie to pass the time; it did a great job of passing the time, too, clocking in at almost 2.5 hours. As Don Draper said, “Nostalgia – it’s delicate, but potent.”

Personal feelings aside, The Blues Brothers is an all-around fantastic movie with an all-star cast including Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, Carrie Fisher, John Candy, and many, many more (including a cameo from legendary director Steven Spielberg). The film was released in 1980 and is considered one of the top films of the year among stiff competition like Star Wars Episode V, The Shining, and Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark. It is also one of only three movies rated above 50% on Rotten Tomatoes based off of Saturday Night Live skits. The other two being Wayne’s World and its sequel (view the full list of SNL movies here).

Leading actors Belushi and Aykroyd so perfectly embody their characters, Jake and Elwood Blues, that it’s impossible to imagine anyone else playing their parts, and it would be an abomination if Hollywood attempted to recast and remake this movie. As he always does, John Belushi steals the show with his loud and arrogant persona, which is perfect for the portrayal of a character who was recently released from prison and now believes he’s on, “a mission from God.” Jake is perfectly culminated in this scene near the end, when Carrie Fisher’s character finally confronts him after trying to kill him throughout the movie.

On top of great lead actors and cameos from some of Hollywood’s best of the late 70’s, the film appropriately featured musical guests from many different eras of music. Cab Calloway, James Brown, Aretha Franklin, and Ray Charles are the most prominent of these musicians to contribute to a film that, when you look past the mass destruction of vehicles, is primarily about music.

Speaking of the mass destruction of vehicles, The Blues Brothers held the record for most cars destroyed in a film for a short period of time at 103 (it lost the record two years later to The Junkman, a movie about destroying cars). While the movie is chock-full of police chases, none is quite as iconic as the final chase scene which included three tanks, three helicopters, three firetrucks, 15 horses, and 50 squad cars, not to mention over 500 extras who all played soldiers, police officers, and neo-nazis. This scene is widely regarded to be the best police chase in cinematic history and it will be hard to top considering the sheer scale of it. This chase wasn’t even the most expensive one in the movie either. That honor goes to the mall chase, in which they destroyed a $25 million mall

If none of these points have convinced you that The Blues Brothers is a true American classic, I don’t know what will. It’s clearly my favorite movie, so maybe I’m biased. If you’ve never seen the movie, it’s worth hunting down and giving it a watch. If you can’t get your hands on a copy, the least I can do is offer up a few of the most memorable lines.

Best Quotes

Elwood: Illinois Nazis
Jake: I hate Illinois Nazis!

 

Elwood: There’s 106 miles to Chicago, we’ve got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark out, and we’re wearing sunglasses.
Jake: Hit it!

 

Jake: How often does the train run by here?
Elwood: So often, you won’t even notice.

 

Elwood: What kind of music do you usually have here?
Cocktail Waitress: Oh, we got both kinds. We got Country AND Western!

 

Elwood: Our Lady of Blessed Acceleration, don’t fail me now.