UFC 235 AfterMMAth (There Are Levels To This Game)

So the super card is behind us. Miraculously, everyone (significant) made weight, all showed up, and even Jones came up positive on only 2 out of 5 what-have-yas and it was of course a pulse, so don’t worry. It was going to be the best card of the year, and while it was good, I allow myself to speculate that we have not seen the best 2019 card yet. But, I’m a little ahead of myself here.
Alright, let’s jump right to my picks. Then, we’ll chat about this, that and the other.

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UFC 234 AfterMMAth (Gut Shot)

Just around my 35th birthday, I felt some pain in my lower abdomen. I let it go for a bit, thinking (wishing really) that it was just some cramps. When it became apparent it was not, I went to the doctor, from there a quick ultrasound test, and the following day I was under the knife. Yup, a hernia is not fun. I could feel a little balloon swell momentarily every time I coughed. Not to mention the stinging pain. Now, I am no MMA fighter, but one thing I know for sure. Robert Whittaker, whose condition by all accounts was far worse, could not fight like that.
I swear I could hear the sighs of disappointment coming from all the way in Australia. And I was bummed out like all of you. But it is what it is… It’s MMA.
Alright, let’s jump right to my picks. Then, we’ll chat about this, that and the other.

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UFC 232 AfterMMAth (2 Goats In LA)

UFC232 turned out to be greater than the sum of its shenanigans. It featured thirteen fights, only three of which went the distance. Upsets, KOs and submissions galore. What more can one ask for?
Alright, let’s jump right to my picks. Then, we’ll chat about this, that and the other.

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UFC 231 AfterMMAth (Blessed Are MMA Fans)

UFC231 cemented itself (top to bottom) as a leading candidate for card of the year. The prelims were fast and furious, the main card started (and ended) with a bang, and we got some stuff to reflect on in this AfterMMAth.
Alright, let’s jump right to my picks. Then, we’ll chat about this, that and the other.

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Doctor Who? What? Why? (A Short Rant In Time And Space)

This will be a short rant, so hold on to your seats.
So… Seven episodes into season 11 of Doctor who, I stumbled upon a few – how shall I put it – “interesting” takes. For the most part, I see positive reviews, but every now and then, there are some really seething videos out there, with tons of venom… People care. Well, sort of.
So what are the more negative comments so far? I guess there are 3 main ones:
    1. The show is too politically correct
    2. They ran out of ideas
    3. Jodie Whittaker is a horrendous actress
With the first one, I have no argument. We have a female doctor (finally, by the way), two young companions of different ethnic backgrounds, and an older white “apologist”. I do find the casting of the companions too much “text-book PC”. It’s cool, I’m not objecting (and no one would care if I did) to casting more diverse characters, but right out the gate, it just makes it too lazy and less interesting.
About the ideas, I guess it’s very much a matter of taste. While going back to the past, to protect Rosa Parks, and the change she helped drive is less exhilarating than say… save the world from the Daleks’ latest scheme, it still is a valid exercise of the Doctor Who concept. The problem with episodes like these may be related again, to PC. While the doctor (especially recent incarnations) always dealt with topics like interracial conflicts, it was done via allegory. Personally I prefer that method of delivery, and I get why it irritates some people. Still, I don’t see anything so wrong, that should incur so much rage…

And finally… Jodie Whittaker… I watched a video yesterday where the reviewer used the very phrase “Horrendous actress”… While I am a pretty civil person at most times, allow me to break character and ask a short and direct question:

WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK?

Jodie Whittaker is a GREAT actress, and is doing a GREAT job as Doctor Who, with the tools she’s given.
As opposed to previous regenerated doctors, she literally “falls to earth” and put in action from the first second, with little to no chance to stop and think about who she is.
If anything, the show runner should be put on trial, for giving such a good actress so little to chew on… I thought Peter Capaldi’s first season was great, especially because it allowed him to ponder, to understand himself better. But Whittaker is asked to just hit the ground running and deliver something out of thin air?… You are aware she follows a script right?
And here is where I get more than a little miffed.
With the show being as politically correct as it is – How in heaven’s name do you miss the ONE place where playing up gender is not only appropriate, but a MUST???
“Oh, I’m a woman. let’s move on…”

This is the FIRST female doctor – spend some quality time, allowing her to play off of this. Let us revel in it. There are sooooo many opportunities (ALL of them missed) for humor, for more character depth… This is my biggest disappointment.
And all of that is dumped onto Jodie Whittaker, and in return, what does this great actress get? jeers from some keyboard warrior…
Season 11 is not the best season by any means. It’s also not as bad as some of these raging reviewers make it out to be. I enjoy watching for the most part, and a lot of it is because Whittaker is, in fact, a very good doctor.


UFC 230 AfterMMAth (Prime Time At The Garden)

Four out of the five main card fights ended via finish, while the prelims (which always find ways to be awesome) sported a total of two. Yet, I’d argue that up to the last 2 preliminary fights, it was still a very entertaining undercard. Not too many shenanigans, so… let’s get on with things.
Alright, let’s jump right to my picks. Then, we’ll chat about this, that and the other.

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Oh, It’s All Good Man

I liked “Torchwood”. As far as spin-offs go, it’s a pretty good one. I am still not a huge fan of “Fear the walking dead”, though the last season finally started to take steps in a direction I’m willing to go along with. I am, however all in for “Better call Saul”!
When it was just announced that this series is going to be produced, and by the same folks who gave us “Breaking Bad”, I was excited and worried at the same time. Excited because I can watch Saul Goodman doing his thing all day, but worried because being a spin-off to a show of that magnitude (“Breaking Bad” is, in fact the best TV drama ever. It’s a fact because… reason) it had the perfect opportunity to fail. Having finished watching season 4, I have a few things to say about what I consider to be the best current drama show on TV.

They took their time

It was something of an itch, to some of us Saul Goodman fans, to see the guy from Breaking Bad come out, guns blazing from the get go. Luckily the gifted production team, starting from the writers, with the perfect delivery of Bob Odenkirk and the wonderful cast, decided to take their time and show us how Jimmy McGill becomes the man we all knew and loved. It wasn’t a gag fest of “criminal lawyer” Saul Goodman. Instead it is – as a good story should be – an arc. We take the ride with a very relatable character, with plenty of flaws, and we cheer for him. Even if we know he gets corrupted, we understand. We get it. It’s all good man!

Those aren’t really cameos

Sure, there are a couple of faces who show up with limited purpose, but for the most part, characters who we originally met in “Breaking Bad” and were introduced into “Better call Saul” were introduced because there’s a story to tell, and they either play a major role in it, have some back story to show or both. The best examples might be Mike and Tito Salamanca. Along with Gustavo Fring and others, they don’t just play the “Hey, these guys were on Breaking Bad” roles, but move the story forward, or serve as part of the setting (we all know that at some point, Walter White meets Saul. It’s part of a bigger story).

They are respectful

The way the story is written, and told both by way of script, as well as the way it’s screen-played, shows a great deal of respect to “Breaking Bad”, to Saul and his cast of course, and perhaps most of all to the fans. There is an independent story here, told with great care, putting the focus on the main character – Jimmy/Saul – and woven into this, the larger story of the set of characters who feature into the “Breaking Bad” universe. There is a lot of correspondence with the original series, both obvious (again, not just for cheap pops – with a purpose), as well as far more subtle. I may be barking at the wrong tree, but there are many scenes that I can immediately relate to “Breaking Bad” without them even having to do with the story directly. An example of that, I find, was the scene in the last episode of season 4 (Spoiler alert if you haven’t watched yet), where Mike is about to kill Werner. Mike’s character is of a person who always owns up, and even if for a brief moment there was hope for the German, it was never going to be different. And why does that scene corresponds to the original? In my mind (and I believe that it was done with thought behind it), this was very similar to when Mike was going to Kill Walter, and the only reason he didn’t was Jessie getting to Gale, leaving Fring without a cook. Werner is a professional like Walt, who’s skills are valued. Unlike Walt, he could be replaced and had no backup.

Bob Odenkirk

On a “Breaking Bad” panel, I heard Bob say that “It’s just the writers”. That he just comes to work, reads what they tell him to and go home. Rrrriiiigghht…
I don’t think Bob Odenkirk is a good actor. I think he is a phenomenal actor. I think he can do a Psycho killer, a lover, a tough military guy or a clown with the same level of credibility and grace. He is required to do a nice range of acting in this series and I think he nails it on every turn.

The timeline

I think that part of what makes this series so great, is the decision to have it as a kind of prequel, and not a disconnected series of events. By making that choice, the producers committed themselves to an end. An end that we are all very familiar with and as such, it is tied to some expectations. This gives the writers an obligation to stay true to the character, and not go off on some crazy bunny trails that in so many cases result in completely losing focus and faith from the viewers.
Whoever is in charge of making the decision better let these guys take this series all the way to its satisfying end.
You want the end to be Walter White walking in with a silly disguise, trying to influence him to keep Badger quiet – great. You want to end it simply by receiving his first customer in his tacky strip mall office – great. But let it get to its natural conclusion.  However you want to – It’s all good man!