Tag Archives: olympics

Movie Review – I, Tonya (2017)

Skating and knee-capping!

BQB here with a review of the skater girl gone (allegedly) bad, I, Tonya.

Despite hearing rave reviews, I delayed watching this thing because, like most Gen Xers, I felt I know enough about the story, seeing as how if you were sentient during the 1990s, then it was the only thing anyone ever talked about on TV for the longest time.

For those who were too young or, gasp, born after the events, here’s a primer.  In 1994, ice skater Nancy Kerrigan was clubbed in the knee while practicing at an ice rink in Detroit.  Blah, blah, blah, investigations ensued and what is usually a light, moderately followed sport (I mean, you rarely see that much controversy in women’s figure skating) became a ratings bonanza.

As a dark cloud of suspicion hanged over Tonya Harding, she and Nancy competed for America in the Winter Olympics even though questions loomed, i.e. was it even fair for Tonya to be participating if her opponent was clubbed?

By the way, what exactly happened leading up to the clubbing?  Doubtful we’ll ever know for sure, though Tonya, ex-husband Jeff Gillooly (a fun name even today) and ex-husband’s friend Shawn Eckhardt all faced some form of criminal liability.

Theories have abounded over the years of who exactly was involved in what, who asked who to do what, who knew about what, etc.  This film takes the premise that Tonya may have been aware of an attempt to prank Nancy with a false death threat to mess with her head, that Gillooly enlisted his overweight, dumb, delusional (he thinks he’s a spy/counter-terrorist operative though he clearly isn’t) to find a buddy willing to mail the letter from Nancy’s home state and somehow in all that mess, Shawn goes way too far and enlists a dumb flunky to bash Nancy’s knee.

Thus, if we’re ranking just by sheer stupidity, then based on this film, we’d put Shawn at top, Jeff in the middle and Tonya on the bottom.

Overall, that’s been the question that has long loomed over Tonya Harding.  If she was unaware of the attack until after it happened, then it’s not fair to blame her for the stupidity of her ex-husband and friend.  If she was involved or somehow knew what was going to happen, then she shouldn’t have been allowed to participate in the Olympics.

We’ll probably never know for sure and that’s usually the rub when trying to create a fun, engaging film about historic events.  None of us were there and accounts come from all different sides, often competing and conflicting with one another.

The film handles this well, making it clear we can never fully be sure what exactly happened in the events that led up to the infamous knee whack.  Fourth wall breaks are extensively utilized, often during which characters turn to the camera to critique another character’s claim.  For example, Margot Robbie as Tonya, fed up with being used as a punching bag one too many times by her abusive husband (Sebastian Stan) grabs a shotgun and knocks a cabinet door off its hinges with a blast that had been meant for Gillooly’s head.  She then scoffs at the incident, looks to the camera and says, “This never happened!” then throws the gun down.

Ultimately, characters are featured in straight interviews, leading to fully acted out sequences, and then occasionally characters break the action to tell the audience the other character is wrong and here’s what really happened.  It’s fun, funny, and handles the difficult job of sorting through a puzzle that no one could really ever put together fully and still be one-hundred percent sure of the outcome.

Between the news coverage of the day, and ensuing documentaries and yes, I think there might have even been a made for TV movie or two, I thought I’d heard it all about this case but this film really delves into Tonya’ life.

Specifically, we learn about her abusive mother, LaVon, played aptly by Allison Janney, who earned every bit of her Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

In the world of girls’ figure skating, i.e. a world of prim and proper skinny young girls with polished mothers who treat their children as prized possessions and fawn over their every accomplishment, the Hardings stuck out like a duo of sore thumbs.  LaVonn and her giant, outdated for even the 90s spectacles, sits on the sidelines, chain smoking, drinking out of a flask, and shouting every manner of obscenity at Tonya in an effort, she claims, to make her skate better, and even directs her bile at fellow mothers and coaches.  Hearing a skate mom drop words like “fuck” and “cunt” around all of the refined mothers is equally disturbing and funny.

What’s the big theme of the movie?  If you’re born into shit, then it’s pretty difficult to wash the shit stink off yourself, no matter how hard you try.  Undoubtedly, Tonya is a great skater, being the only American woman to ever land a triple axel, a highly complicated move.  Yet, try as she might, the judges and fans see her as an unpolished hayseed, a wannabe.  She’s a bit bigger and less classier than the other girls.  In a world where wealthy moms gladly spend all their time and money getting their little competitors to the best coaches and are able to shell out big bucks on costumes and equipment, Tonya’s only resource is her hard ass waitress mother who hurls all manner of abuse at her daughter, both verbal and physical.

Her only other resource is boyfriend, later husband, Jeff, who physically abuses Tonya constantly, and honestly some of the scenes where he flat out cold cocks her are a bit too much to watch.  Oddly, in a way, I can’t tell if the movie is trying to let Jeff off the hook by portraying him  as a somewhat charming dweeb who attempts to prove his manliness by beating on his woman and that because he’s a dumb redneck born into crap, he doesn’t know any better, or if they’re trying to say, yeah here’s the man’s savagery on full display but he does need to communicate with the audience and make an occasional joke to keep the story moving.

I empathize with the “shit stink you’re born with” doesn’t wash off vibe.  Sadly, so much of our entire lives are decided before we’re even born, and also before we turn 18.  How we are parented impacts our world view, our thoughts, feelings, emotions and even how others see us.

All the other skater girls have it made, if you think about the amount of money and time a parent has to be willing to put into making a child’s dream of Olympic gold come true.  Tonya has none of these advantages but tries to overcome them with the very little support she has, being attacked by mother and husband all the while, and still manages to be a competitor.

Something we can take away?  Perhaps, if someone gets the job done, we shouldn’t worry about how they look, or how they talk, or their personal life and so on.  If they get the job done, then they get the job done.  If we overlook the part where the job is getting done and focus on whether or not the person fits the usual mold, then we’ll never allow people the opportunity to raise themselves out of bad situations they were born in.

In other words, you can’t say, “Hey, if you were born into crap then stop being lazy and pull yourself out of it” and then also say, “Get back into the crap, you don’t belong here!”

Overall, we may never know fully how the attack went down.  If Tonya participated in it somehow, then she sucks.  If she didn’t, then she was a victim of a shitty life and a shitty family that followed her wherever she went, dragging her down no matter how hard she tried to escape it.  Ironically, had the attack never went down, she probably had a good chance of bringing home a medal of some kind.

One more thing – I get the willingness to want to sympathize with Tonya.  We all have stories about how we suffer due to things we can’t control, choices made by others that we can’t overcome.

Still, I always wince a little whenever it was suggested that Nancy Kerrigan was somehow the villain in all of this.  This movie sort of dances a toe into those waters but never goes there all the way.  Was Nancy one of those prim and proper girls with a supportive family and all the class and grace that the judges wanted?  Yes.  Did she still put a lot of work in?  Yes.  Did she deserve to get clubbed in the knee?  No.  Was she a bad person for getting upset that her knee was bashed and worrying about how all her work was for nothing if she can’t compete due to a knee injury (leading to the infamous “Why me?” tape).  No, she didn’t do anything wrong and if she was peeved for only getting the silver, it’s probably because the thought might always linger – maybe if she hadn’t been clubbed she would have taken the gold.

Then again, I suppose had the incident never taken place, all the 1994 figure skaters would have obscured their way into history.  Can you name another figure skater from another year (other than the most recent?)  Kristy Yamaguchi and Oksana Baiul are the only ones I can muster, and only because they were competing that year against Tonya and Nancy.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy. Deserved a bit more Oscar attention than it received.

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East Randomtown Election Results 2016 – Smotchenbocker Pulls Off Massive Upset!

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EAST RANDOMTOWN – In a startling upset, Acting Mayor Bookshelf Q. Battler has lost his bid for election to a full term.

“Oh thank God,” Acting Mayor Battler said. “I so did not want to do this anymore. It took so much time away from the task I enjoy the most – blogging for the joy of 3.5 readers.”

Mr. Battler was made Acting Mayor during the East Randomtown Zombie Apocalypse, during which the previous mayor and a previous acting mayor were devoured by zombies.

Surprisingly, Mr. Battler’s opponent, Leo McKoy, famous in town because he alleges that in the 1990s he delivered a sandwich to James Van Der Beek, also lost the race.

“What a load of crap,” candidate McKoy said during his interview as Random Bar, East Randomtown’s most popular drinking establishment. “Good job, suck town. You all really screwed the pooch by not voting for yours truly.  Barkeep, another shot.”

It was a very heated campaign.  Mr. Battler alleged that Mr. McKoy was not the actual McKoy but was, in fact, a robot and that the real McKoy was devoured by zombies last year.”

“He’s definitely not the real McKoy,” Mr. Battler said. “Huh. That’s catchy. Kind of wish I’d thought of it before the election ended. Oh well.”

In contrast to Mr. Battler’s allegations, Mr. McKoy claimed that Mr. Battler’s blog sucked donkey butt and that it should be banned because it has caused aliens, zombies, the yeti and other assorted rabble to invade the town.

“Bookshelf Q. Battler is the worst thing to happen to East Randomtown since we parted ways with West Randomtown,” Mr. McKoy said.

Meanwhile, the international fuzzy war criminal known simply as, “The Yeti” won a total of 50 write-in votes.

“GRRR!” The Yeti said. “I should run everything and also eat everyone because they are delicious!”

Shocking all the experts was Harvey Smotchenbocker, who won the race with a write-in campaign of his own. In fact, Mr. Smotchenbocker beat Mr. Battler by two votes.

“I forgot to vote and my dear sweet soulmate Video Game Rack Fighter was too busy playing Car Thief Mayhem to make it to the polls,” Mr. Battler explained. “In fact, she’s been playing the same game for twenty-eight hours with no sleep.  What a trooper.”

Mr. Battler’s 3.5 readers may remember May0r-Elect Smotchenbocker as the Olympian who represented the United States and East Randomtown in the Rio Olympic Games this summer in the 10K Flatulence competition.

“I enjoyed my time on the professional flatulence circuit, but flatulence is a young man’s game,” Mr. Smotchenbocker said. “It’s time for me to hang up my ass and give back to this town that has given me so little even though I am a class act and I pretend like it has given me so much anyway.”

Asked for his agenda, Mr. Smotchenbocker said he would focus on such initiatives as preserving the environment, clean drinking water, law and order, promoting business and economic opportunities, improving the quality of education and investing in infrastructure.

Mr. Battler and Mr. McKoy, bitter rivals to the end, were united in their disgust of Mayor-Elect Smotchenbocker’s agenda.

“So he’s not going to start a potato bar and build a statue of me delivering a sandwich to James Van Der Beek?” McKoy asked.  “Rigged!”

“I agree,” Mr. Battler said. “Smotchenbocker hasn’t even addressed all the leftover zombie carcasses that continue to litter the town.”

When questioned on whether he would support the banishment of the Bookshelf Battle Blog, Mr. Smotchenbocker replied, “I’ve never heard of it. Does anyone read it?”

In other news, Bookshelf Battle Blog Grumpy Old Man Correspondent Uncle Hardass lost his bid for the presidency to New York Real Estate Mogul/Hair Model Donald J. Trump.

“I concede nothing!” Uncle Hardass said. “I will continue my effort to help Americans find jobs by nagging them incessantly until they find employment just so I will stop yelling at them.”

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BREAKING NEWS: Harvey Smotchenbocker Wins the Gold

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It’s a happy day here in East Randomtown, 3.5 readers.

East Randomtown resident Harvey Smotchenbocker has won the gold in the Olympic 10K Flatulence competition.

For those not familiar with the sport of 10K flatulence, that means that Harvey and the other contestants competed in a race in which they had to propel themselves for 10,000 meters through nothing but their flatulence.

Harvey was the first to cross the finish line, making his hometown and country proud.

USA! USA! USA!

I’ll tell you, this is truly a public relations coup for East Randomtown.

Up until now East Randomtown’s most famous citizens were:

  • Me (BQB) for my blog that attracts the attention of 3.5 readers.
  • Leo McKoy, who claims to have delivered a sandwich to Dawson’s Creek star James Van Der Beek
  • The late Doug Hauser, who once appeared as an extra for thirty seconds in a 1980s cop drama.  Alas, he was eaten by zombies last year during the East Randomtown zombie apocalypse.

God bless you, Harvey, you’ve done us proud.

 

 

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Was Ellen DeGeneres’ Usain Bolt Tweet Racist?

OK 3.5 readers.

I’ll just throw it out there.  Was this tweet by Ellen racist?

So the joke was that Usain Bolt is super fast and that Ellen could get her errands done faster if she just hops up on his back.

Given today’s highly sensitive climate, I suppose you could make an argument that this tweet was ill advised.  The joke was only mildly funny at best vs. the great backlash it brought in.

Then again…come on.  This is Ellen. TV’s most beloved lesbian.  First TV comedian to come out as gay and play a gay protagonist on her 1990s sitcom.

I don’t know.  I rarely share my opinions on controversial things.

I just worry that people are getting so sensitive that by the year 2050 comedy, movies, books, even regular conversations won’t exist.

Everyone will just stare at the wall all day out of fear of offending someone.

Shouldn’t intent count for something? I highly doubt Ellen intended any offense here.

She wasn’t trying to say, “I am a white lady who must dominate this black man.”

She was saying, “I wish Usain was my best friend so he could give me super fast rides to the store!”

Everyone just needs to take a deep breath and give each other a hug.

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Update on Harvey Smotchenbocker, East Randomtown’s Olympian

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Hey 3.5.

Bookshelf Q. Battler, Mayor of East Randomtown here.

Just an update on East Randomtonian Harvey Smotchenbocker, who is participating in the 10K Flatulence Competition at the Olympic Games in Rio.

Flatulence is one of the lesser known games but every gold medal counts.

Harvey has checked in. He is reporting that he is getting in some last minute training for his big day later this week.  Filling up on all sorts of gaseous foods.  I have nothing but faith in him.

Stay tuned for more updates.

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East Randomtown Olympian Harvey Smotchenbocker

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East Random Town’s Finest Athlete

Hey 3.5 readers.

For those of you who follow this monstrosity of a blog regularly (because, I don’t know, it was this or watching paint dry) you’re aware that among my many duties, I am currently the Acting Mayor of East Randomtown, due to the fact that our duly elected mayor was eaten by zombies last October.

The job is a real burden, let me tell you. Even so, I’m in the middle of a tough re-election battle with town bar fly Leo McKoy, who I’m fairly certain is a robot, because I saw him get eaten by zombies last October as well.  I don’t know how to explain his shocking return the town other than through robotics.

But I digress.

As mayor, it is up to me to promote our humble hamlet and give a pat on the back to our citizens whenever they do our town proud.

Not gonna lie. It doesn’t happen often. This town is a real stink burg.

But it has happened. East Randomtown insurance salesman Harvey Smotchenbocker is representing the United States of America in the 10K Flatulence Competition.

10K Flatulence is one of the lesser known Olympic events but it does have a long tradition dating back to the very first games when Arcadius the Flatulator climbed to the top of Mount Olympus and let one rip.

Contestants’ submissions are graded on size, length, pitch, tone, aroma, and methane content.

“I train every day with two burritos, a half-dozen chili dogs, and a 2-liter bottle of generic cola,” Harvey told the Bookshelf Battle Blog. “It’s the least I can do to make this great nation proud. USA! USA! USA!”

Keep your fingers crossed and your noses plugged for Harv, folks. He faces some ripe competition from:

Hirohito Takamotodashi – Japan’s most prolific flatulator. Rumored to have killed a man with his flatulence.

Ivan Rostikoff – The greatest flatulator to come out of Moscow. Caught up in the Russian doping scandal. Investigators claim he was injecting chili directly into his buttocks. This kind of doping is frowned upon in the world of competitive flatulence.

Sir Nigel Walstingshire – England’s premiere flatulator.  His greatest supporter is the Queen herself, who shows her support by attending his training sessions with a clothespin on her nose.

These flatulators are no slouches, 3.5 readers, so keep the Harvmeister in your prayers.  He’ll need to make a whole lot of brown to win that gold.

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Rejected Olympic Games

  • 10K Pizza Face Stuff – I’d be a gold medalist and then go pro. No steroids needed.
  • The Middle Finger Point – Offend random audience members with a middle finger.
  • Mrs. Doubtfire Dash – Contestants dress like elderly women.  Whoever convinces dumb children that she is their nanny takes home the gold…also, gets arrested and deservedly so, freaks.
  • The Bell Biv Devoe-off – Know that song “Poison?”  Of course you don’t. Millennials are the worst. So it ends with, “That girl is poi-son…uh ah uh ah uh ah….whoever holds the “ah” the longest…GOLD!
  • The Nap Off – Whoever sleeps the longest.
  • The Gas Off – Self-explanatory. Judges rate expulsions from 1 to 10 based on sound, pitch, length of time, and aroma.
  • Yodeling – The Swiss would nail this.
  • Yodel Eating – I would nail this.
  • The Blog Off – Contestants create a blog. First one to attract the attention of 3.5 readers wins.
  • Cat Juggling – juggling….of cats!
  • Extreme Wedgie-ing – First to pull the opponent’s underpants over his/her head and/or possibly use said undies as a slingshot to launch the opponent to the moon wins…the gold!
  • Rubber Band Ball Making – he with the biggest balls wins (in the games and in life).
  • Paper Air Plane Construction/Flight – Separate competitions for best plane and longest flight.
  • Beer Pong – there isn’t enough beer in the Olympics.

What say you, 3.5 readers? Which rejected Olympic Games would you like to compete in?

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Could the Olympic Games be spread out all over the world?

Hey 3.5 readers.

I’ve read a lot of articles on how sometimes hosting the Olympics ends up a bad deal for a city.

Cities often take up the challenge of hosting duties in the hopes that doing so will cause big stadiums, condo buildings etc to be constructed, thus revitalizing these cities.

Yet, often what happens is that after the big show, these big expensive buildings go unused.

I wonder, given this age of live streaming and technology – could the Olympic events be held at the same time all over the world?

It would probably make little difference to the viewer.  Go to a reporter covering swimming in, I don’t know, Australia, then cut to the track and field events in LA or somewhere they have tracks and fields.

The only downside would be maybe you wouldn’t get that nice opening ceremony.  Although surely some TV wiz could fix that and maybe have multiple little ceremonies all over the world.  A dance number in Tokyo, a fireworks display in London, etc.

The athletes might miss out on the camaraderie.  Perhaps the Olympics folks running the event would have reasons why it all has to be in the same place.

I don’t know. Just a thought.  I’m not sure it would matter to the viewer or if the viewer would even notice if one competition is here and the other there.

What say you, 3.5 readers?

 

 

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Are You Going to Watch the Olympics?

And if so, what sport are you interested in?

 

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42 Condoms for Every Olympian

I read an article that every Olympian at the Olympics in Brazil is being given 42 condoms to prevent the spread of the Zika virus.

I have many questions.

  • 42? Really? Look I get it. You’re all young and in good shape. You all have a certain amount of fame, some more than others given what sport you’re in. But holy shit.  Don’t you need to be spending some time practicing your shot puts and javelin throws and thirty meter dashes and all that shit?
  • Who decided 42?  Why not 40?  Who thought of 40 and then was like “Well, better throw in two more!”
  • Why not 25?  I mean really, if you’re getting that much you must have some things going for you and at that point you must be able to afford your own condoms.
  • Is this where we’re at now? AIDS isn’t enough to worry about? Now we have to worry about a disease passed by a mosquito bite and then it can be passed further when people dance the horizontal mambo?  Crap. Holy Crap. It’s like there is a grand conspiracy to keep people from doing it.  I blame the mosquito lobby. Big mosquito most be stopped.
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