Good day friends. It’s been a few weeks since we had an arctic freeze or a Coup d’état attempt. This weekend I was regaled with stories of vaccinated folks hugging! Maybe we’re on our way to sunnier pastures?
Speaking of sunnier pastures, Sunday holds my dad’s favorite day of the year: Spring Forward! When Northerners talk about hating winter (I’m from MA), the worst part is not the cold, it’s the darkness. In the depths of winter, it gets dark at 4:15. It’s suffocating, it’s oppressive. I’ve loved my time in Austin for a myriad of reasons, but the single biggest difference in my mental health is that on the Winter Solstice (shortest day of the year), it gets dark at 5:30! For people who struggle with S.A.D.—including my father and me—I cannot express the difference it makes.
Speaking of my dad, this week boycott Amazon everyone! My grandfather was a labor organizer, he worked for the Teamsters. My family is deeply pro-union. Support the Amazon Workers Union! Solidarity!
The biggest event in the MMH universe this weekend was the All-Star game. Cody covers it extensively in his Weekend Rebound and it also wasn’t that exciting, but as I do not address it in the Hoops segment, I will just go with the blazingly hot and highly professional take: meh.
Music /// Silk Sonic “Leave the Door Open”
I don’t care that you’ve already heard it. I don’t care that it’s a single and not an album. And I don’t care that it’s 30% complete cheese. Silk Sonic—the ‘fly collab’ GOAT between Anderson .Paak and Bruno Mars—gives me everything 2020-2021 has not: soul, swag, sexiness, enchantment. The elusive feeling that maybe you are the coolest person in the room. The feeling that maybe—just maybe—with the right light, buzz, and mood, anything is possible.
This song is so smooth and the men in the video so beautiful, it’s indescribable. It’s like trying to explain Kobe’s killer instinct or what makes Goodfellas great. I think I’m ready to say Anderson .Paak has my favorite male voice in the industry and coupled with its undeniable groove, the verses are my favorite part of the song. Here is a quote from V2:
If you smoke, I got the haze
If you’re hungry girl, I got filets
I love the melody of the Bruno line at the top of the pre-chorus, “I ain’t playin’ no games, every word that I say is comin’ straight from the heart.” I wish they repeated it before going to the climb.
I watched an interview with the duo and Bruno shared that the drum performance on the track is one complete, unedited take. For the non-musicians out there, that is staggering. 99% of studio recordings are edited and constructed like pieces to a puzzle. Oh Anderson…
I literally have no clue what is happening in the second half of the song or why they never return to the intoxicating verse. But I’m sure their explanation would both make perfect sense and educate me on songwriting.
“Leave the Door Open” is the 2021 we wanted and never got. But I am glad I can visit for 4:02 whenever needed.
Movies /// The Human Voice
This is my first time spotlighting a short (The Human Voice has a 30-minute run time), but after watching the trailer and reading reviews, I think this is the move. The Human Voice is directed by the great Spanish auteur Pedro Almodóvar and stars Scotland’s own Tilda Swinton.
The film finds Swinton in her apartment as she awaits her ex to collect his belongings and dog. He does not arrive. But he does call Swinton and we’re witness to the one-sided conversation, which Variety describes as Swinton, “cycl[ing] through moods of rational acceptance, girlish pleading, near-suicidal desperation and more — the various stages of breakup grief, but compressed into one volatile, erratic confessional.”
Led by an All-Star director-lead actor tandem, the roster is filled out with vibrant talent. Alberto Iglesias’s orchestral score is actually comprised of sampled themes from other Almodóvar collabs, “Talk to Her” and “Bad Education” and cinematographer José Luis Alcaine beautifully captures production designer Antxon Gómez’s chic, modern approach to Swinton’s apartment.
The Human Voice premieres in theaters on March 12th. I have been unable to find a streaming service where it will be available, but I will stay on the case. You can prep yourself for the film by watching the 2018 version starring Rosamund Pike, which is currently available on Amazon Prime. That said, don’t support Amazon Prime!
Hoops /// Second Half Storylines
The second half of the NBA season will tip-off on Wednesday, March 10th with Wizards-Grizzlies. What a barn burner! Most teams have played ~36 games, which means in this truncated 72-game season, we have a genuine back-half ahead. This is unique from a normal NBA season where the All-Star break takes place about 2/3rds into the season. But then again, what isn’t unique these days?
Instead of highlighting a game as I usually do, I wanted to target five storylines I will be keeping my eye on the rest of the way.
No lock this year! Finally. I feel like the MVP race has been the Warriors dynasty on repeat. Giannis was as close to a lock as it gets the last two years. Same for Steph in his MVP years, Harden in 2015, I guess Russ was controversial…
It seems like the media consensus is that Embiid is the frontrunner at the moment. I’m here for it! I literally cannot believe how fast we went from, “man if only Joel Embiid actually got in shape and went for it, he could win an MVP!” to “Joel Embiid is in shape, kicking ass, and the MVP favorite.”
I had really hoped the relative MVP vacuum left the door open for my man LeBron James to get his 5th—tying him with Jordan—but I think he needed to use this non-AD stint to assert his case, and a 6-7 record during that time does not do that.
2. The East Standings
The east standings are like the train-wreck I can’t stop watching. The 4th place Celtics are separated from the 10th place Pacers by 2.5 games… I can’t believe the Knicks are 19-18. I can’t believe that puts them in 5th place! This is a genuine clusterfuck. Will any of these teams establish themselves in the second half? Will we take any of them seriously? Or is this just a vast highway of roadkill for the Sixers, Nets, and Bucks?
3. Christian Wood
I’ll never get off Wood Mountain! The Rockets were 11-10 with him, they have NOT WON A GAME SINCE. That is not a typo. They are now 11-23. He should be back post-All-Star. Can’t wait to watch his smooth, yet sneaky in-and-out game and see if the Rox can start winning again. I do believe at this point he is their cornerstone player and it’ll be good for the franchise to evaluate what they have long-term when he’s back.
4. COVID guys
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, I think we have NO comprehension/understanding/hint of an understanding of the long-term effects of COVID on these players. All I know for sure, the second half of last season Russell Westbrook was BALLIN. Go back, everyone was saying he was playing better than James Harden, he made All-NBA for goodness sake! He has not been the same player since getting COVID pre-bubble.
Jayson Tatum has been quoted saying, “I have experienced some games where, I don’t want to say [I was] struggling to breathe, but, you know, you get fatigued a lot quicker than normal. Just running up and down the court a few times, it’s easier to get out of breath or tired a lot faster.”
Michael Porter Jr. came out of the gates on fire and hasn’t been the same player since he returned from the virus. Check out Seth Curry’s numbers: Pre-COVID: 17 PTS, 60% 3PT, Post-COVID: 10 PTS, 37% 3PT…
Let’s all keep an eye on the COVID guys, I think they can all take off if they’re able to physically move past this. But if they don’t, we need to seriously reevaluate the toll the virus is taking.
As discussed in the MVP section, the preseason favorite Lakers seem vulnerable. But what team is establishing itself as their true rival for the throne? The first half standout is of course the Jazz, but no one seems to fully buy-in. The Bucks have regressed from last season, but are on the rise, winning 6 of their last 7. The Clippers are on a steady clip, but we’re going to have to see it in the playoffs to believe it. The Sixers? Perhaps. Could the Nuggets win 15/17 and get us thinking?
I think there’s only one real answer, the Brooklyn Nets. Harden is HOOPIN. They just won 10/11 and they’re about to add the second-best player on the planet and Blake Griffin.