- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 16, 2010

No bloody Jackson

“According to [theater critic] Ben Brantley, … a new rock musical called ‘Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson’ portrays our seventh president as … a literal, if fictional rock star, ‘poured into a pair of tight black jeans and fiercely embodied by a microphone-riding Benjamin Walker.’ Et pourquoi? To demonstrate, says Mr. Brantley, that ‘this country’s relationship with its president is always deeply and irrationally personal.’ I don’t know whether or not that’s true but, insofar as it is a statement about history, the musical’s blatant attempt to dress up the past as if it were the present can hardly be the best way of persuading us.

“What I think he must mean is that the authors (Alex Timbers and Michael Friedman) of ‘Bloody Bloody’ have created history of a kind that is now often called ‘counterfactual’ - imagine what you’d get if you put together history’s violent and passionate populist Andrew Jackson with today’s celebrity culture - but which I prefer to call by its right name, which is fantasy. Andrew Jackson could not have existed at the same time as the celebrity culture. The precondition of the celebrity culture’s existence is the non-existence of Andrew Jackson, or anyone remotely like him. That impossibility is precisely the provocation the celebrity culture requires to fantasize about such a fabulous monster as a rock-star Old Hickory.”

- James Bowman, writing on “Rebels Without a Clue,” in the June issue of the American Spectator

No bloody A-Team

“How do you justify revisiting a 25-year-old TV show that was pretty much disposable junk from the get-go? Let’s face it: Whatever fond memories of [‘The A-Team’] any of us might have probably have less to do with the show itself than with the self-mocking kitsch it engendered during its run. I vividly recall a friend’s Mr. T talking keychain that alternated between two of the Mohawk-sporting behemoth’s catchphrases: ‘I pity the fool’ and ‘Don’t make me mad.’

“Still, ‘The A-Team’ has everything a production team bereft of original content could ask for: nostalgic value, widely recognizable protagonists drawn in cartoonishly broad strokes, and a pretext for extracting a maximum of action from a minimum of plot. The whole point of ‘The A-Team’ was to deliver a ridiculously outsized finale: Each week, the four titular soldiers of fortune escaped from whatever warehouse they found themselves trapped in by jerry-rigging a vehicle with explosives and barreling through billowing fireballs to PG-rated safety. (With rare exceptions, none of the show’s bad guys were killed or seriously harmed.)

” ‘The A-Team’ played as if scripted by two 8-year-old boys banging their action figures together: ‘Pow!’ ‘Kablammo!’ ‘Curses!’ ‘Victory!’ In its better moments, the film version captures the goofy energy of juvenile commandos at play; at its worst, it’s as if the 8-year-olds got final cut.”

- Dana Stevens, writing on “The A-Team: Was this movie scripted by 8-year-old boys?” on June 11 at Slate

No bloody Sunday

“Even the most successful business leaders miscalculate from time to time, but the good ones can spot the error and correct it before it turns into a disaster. The UFC tried to make an aggressive push into Utah with a Sunday night event, apparently underestimating just how important the day of observance is in the predominantly Mormon state. When ticket sales were mediocre at best, the UFC pulled the plug on UFC on Versus 2 on Aug. 1. …

“It’s so taboo for sporting events in Utah to be held on Sunday that BYU doesn’t play any of its games on the holy day. The school often gets special concessions from the NCAA when it comes to tournament play. With the Pac-10 looking for a 12th team, BYU will likely be passed over for Utah because of its refusal to play on Sundays.

” ‘Our population doesn’t generally like going to sporting events on a Sunday. It’s worked for the (NBA’s Utah) Jazz with a couple of playoff games, but it’s not an ideal situation,’ [Utah Athletic Commission Bill] Colbert told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.”

- Steve Cofield, writing on “Some in Utah sad but knew a Sunday UFC event was a challenge,” on June 15 at the Yahoo Sports blog Cagewriter

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