Discover more from All the Fanfare
The Friday High Five
Stuff I'm into, for February 24, 2023
Every Friday I share 5 things I am digging at the moment.
This week’s high-flying High Five comes complements of the 1991 film Point Break. There are actually two skydiving scenes in the film—the “gnarly brah” scene pictured above, and a later one where Special Agent Johnny Utah—greatest character name ever?—jumps without a parachute and clotheslines surfing brah Bodhi in mid-air, which has to rank as one of the most incredible moments of the 90s.
It occurs to me that skydiving scenes might serve as a fun barometer of a movies’ gonzo quotient. At the upper-end, The Fast and the Furious has skydiving cars. Off-the-chart gonzoness (not a word, but should be). The lower bound would be something like Mission Impossible — Fallout, where Tom Cruise participates in an extremely realistic-looking HALO (High Altitude Low Oxygen) jump. Point Break would be an upper-third film on such a chart. On one hand, the jumps are realistic. On the other, one of the characters jumps without a ‘chute, which is pretty freaking gonzo.
In this edition:
All the Fanfare 😃
Steve Martin’s MasterClass on Comedy 🤔
Roger Ebert's Review of Star Wars 🤩
League of Legends Documentary 🎮
Things I’ve Published This Week 💻
All the Fanfare
I plugged this already, but as this is my Main Thing, I’m mentioning it again. Here’s the gist if you missed the email or have selective amnesia:
All the Fanfare is a new web site I am launching. It will be the ‘Wait But Why’ of Pop Culture. Meaning: Long-form, evergreen articles that are entertaining and informative. Quality over quantity. 100% organic, hand-crafted, and based on many hours of research. Here’s a longer explanation.
If this intrigues you, please subscribe to the site. That's the best way of indicating I'm on the right track. It’s free!
I’ve spent the past week determining the subject of my first article. It’s harder than you might think—obligatory Michael Scott joke—because the first one sets the tone for everything that follows. I knew I wanted an iconic film from the 80s or 90s, something beloved, but it couldn’t be too big. I’m almost guaranteed to write about Star Wars or Indiana Jones or even The Terminator at some point. But I didn’t want a franchise film. Not yet.
I looked around without a clear idea of what I was looking for. It was more of a feeling than anything else. Beverly Hills Cop tripped my wires, but The Goonies did not. I don’t know why. I love The Goonies—it, along with Back to the Future and The Karate Kid, form my trinity of most-beloved 80s films. But none of them felt right for this. Why? I have no idea.
Executive Decision was a weak possibility. Speed was better. I’m not ready to write about Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid—the very nature of this project means I’m only taking one shot at something. That’s a movie I want to get right. I need some reps under my belt first.
I realized I was circling certain types of action movies, and then the answer hit me square in the face.
The ex-presidents are surfers.
Point Break’s blend of action and hijinks is perfect for the first article. It’s not a serious drama, which means I can unbutton my collar and have fun. And the film is memorable and iconic. A good test case. Can’t wait.
Funny insights on your favorite pop culture properties, delivered to your inbox for free.
Steve Martin’s MasterClass on Comedy
I picked up a MasterClass subscription last year as a late birthday present to myself. My interest was in the writing classes—Neil Gaiman’s is worth a subscription alone; Malcolm Gladwell’s is a bore (his style of meandering anecdotes don’t translate well to the form); David Mamet’s is a true master class, what a pro—and then I started branching out into other topics because I am curious and like learning stuff.
I started Steve Martin’s class because I try to write funny, and I figured a world-class comedian might be able to help with that. I’m only about halfway through the class but it’s been very helpful. If my writing suddenly gets really funny, this class is probably why.
Lot of banjos though. Sheesh. We get it Steve.
Have you ever wanted to try MasterClass? I just discovered I have three 14-day guest passes that expire on Feb 28th if I don’t use them. I’ll send one to the first 3 subscribers that leave a comment requesting one. (This is not an affiliate thing. Unless you consider yourself an affiliate of me? 🤔 Anyway, let’s call it a perk of following the newsletter.)
Roger Ebert's Review of Star Wars
Recently I was giving writing advice to someone in My Writing Community. He was asking about writing reviews, and part of my advice was to go read and study reviews. I pulled up Roger Ebert—the OG—and decided to read his review of Star Wars just because. It’s pretty great.
"Star Wars" taps the pulp fantasies buried in our memories, and because it's done so brilliantly, it reactivates old thrills, fears, and exhilarations we thought we'd abandoned when we read our last copy of Amazing Stories.
League of Legends Documentary
Though I'm a gamer, I've never played League of Legends. My son is really into it though. So much so that I basically have to beg him to play Halo or something else with me.
This documentary popped up on YouTube and I was immediately sucked in. I’ve always found stories about how people built things incredibly fascinating. And more than a little inspirational.
Things I’ve Written Since Last Time
The Slow Descent Into Mediocrity Begins When Writers Believe Their Own Hype (Medium) Inspired by my recent foray into Yellowstone. I sorta love and sorta hate the wordiness of this title.
What are you into at the moment? Leave a comment and let me know!
If you enjoyed this, please like it and share it with someone. It’s the best way to show your appreciation and it would mean a lot to me. :)