DBB Pregame Conversation:
— Robert Schmitz (@robertkschmitz) September 24, 2023
Robert Altman’s Kansas City (1996)
Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears this Week?
Here are my three easy ways to make Sunday’s game a more palatable experience for you, the Bears fan.
(1) If you drink, start drinking at kickoff of the early games. You don’t have to go crazy, but you don’t want to be angrily staring at the television screen as Fields stands endlessly in the pocket, failing to notice both his wide-open receivers and Chris Jones sprinting at him. I recommend 2-3 drinks during the early window, with an option for rapid acceleration as Bears/Chiefs gets out of hand.
(2) Parlay the Chiefs ML with whatever bet you like for Sunday Night Football. You’re not getting anything when the Chiefs win the game, but if you parlay them with either the Steelers OR the Raiders on Sunday night, you’re suddenly in the +odds. If the Bears win, you’re happy! When the Bears don’t win, you’ll have a chance to win a few quid come the evening hours.
(3) Disassociate yourself emotionally. I know this is easier said than done but give it a try. I have personally not invested one ounce of emotion into either of the first two contests this season and I’m the better for it. This is not a good football team. They are poorly coached. They are poorly quarterbacked. And neither of those things is going to radically improve in the coming months. The ceiling for this season is “eh” so why invest more than that?
Everybody is down in the dumps, especially those fans who spent the last six months absurdly taunting other fans on social media with dumb phrases like “Fields is going to own the North” and “King Poles.” The Bears are still, quite obviously, not a good team. But no objective analyst expected them to be a good team. We did, however, expect them to be a far better team than was seen at Soldier Field on Sunday.
Forget a grain of salt. Week 1 should be digested with the tonnage of salt that is dumped on Michigan Avenue in anticipation of a January blizzard. That is not to say one should ignore the failings of the Bears against the Packers. But looking around the league, it was quite obvious that half the sport (if not more) was not ready to play regular season football. Joe Burrow couldn’t complete a pass. The Chiefs couldn’t catch. The Giants, with their supposedly top head coach, forgot they had a game. And then there is whatever Josh Allen was doing Monday night.
The Chicago Bears goals for the 2023 season do not change with Sunday’s result. This Bears team can still play relevant football in the month of December. They can still mount a campaign that inches near .500. But in order to do so they have to find a way to win Sunday in Tampa. With Kansas City looming in Week 3, they must do everything in their power to avoid an 0-3 start. (And one could argue a 1-1 start would give the Bears an opportunity to erase the sadness of Week 1 with a Week 3 upset.)
But perhaps most importantly, this program needs to overcome the building toxicity around it and deliver a solid effort. No more somber faces on the sideline. No more complaining about fans to the media. The Bears need belief, and belief only comes with victories. And this club hasn’t had one of those in a long time.
Bottoms. Emma Seligman’s up-and-down comedy has a tour de force final half hour that’ll make it the most rewatchable film of the year.
Oppenheimer. Flashy and beautiful, Christopher Nolan’s historical epic is also a dramaturgically flimsy and emotionally hollow experience.
Past Lives. The foreign darling of the art house scene, Celine Song’s film is a lovely, if minor, effort.
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny. If serving no other purpose, this James Mangold-helmed fifth Indy picture has erased the jaundiced memory of the disastrous fourth installment and given one of Hollywood’s finest action heroes a suitable ending.
King Coal. This documentary tone poem, set in central Appalachia, could have been the natural heir to Barbara Kopple’s brilliant Harlan County, USA, but instead is a politically muddled and incomplete work, lacking the depth more voices from the community could have provided.
Note: The First Lady of DBB and I are seeing Barbie tonight, after several failed efforts to check it out. I’ll have thoughts on it next week.
There will be column writing from me throughout the season, but I am going to relegate most of my work to these game previews. I’m incredibly proud of the consistently excellent work being produced under the Schmitz regime at DBB and I hope I’ll now be able add some of my own flavor to the mix.
Why do I like the Chicago Bears this week?
Paul Schrader argues, in his seminal essay on film noir, that the “genre” is unique to America, and specifically to a post-war period (mid 40s to late 50s) that found a generation of heroic men returning from war to an uncertain future, and unsure identity. But as we commemorate the 22nd anniversary of 9/11 on Monday, it is interesting to look at a series of films made in New York City in the years after those attacks as questioning not only what it means to be a man in a post-traumatic environment, but also what it means to be the city unfairly targeted as representative of a national political identity to which it often did not and does not ascribe.
There are four films I would recommend looking at in this regard.
25th Hour (Spike Lee, 2002)
Unfaithful (Adrian Lyne, 2002)
Michael Clayton (Tony Gilroy, 2007)
Before the Devil Know You’re Dead (Sidney Lumet, 2007)
As this is a topic for a broader research project of mine, I will not wallow in the weeds here. But these are four films that I consider four of the best of this century. If you’re interested in the aforementioned discussion, feel free to email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
I went to St. Peter’s Prep in Jersey City, New Jersey, a noted football powerhouse. During the years I attended the school, 1996-2000, we were anything but a powerhouse. I don’t remember the records each season but I’m pretty certain we lost more games than we won, and the student body enjoyed the work of our mascots, the Marauder and Henchmen, of which I was a proud member of the latter, more than the play of the athletes on the field.
Nevertheless, during this period, the football players had the run of the school. When they didn’t want to go to class, they didn’t, claiming they required medical attention. When teachers challenged their absences, they were strong-armed by head football coach Rich Hansen and the athletics department. Remember, these guys were not “bigger than life” on campus. They were crappy football players on a crappy football team. Nobody was afraid of them. But that didn’t matter. The fear that existed, if that’s the right word, was of the empowered athletic department.
I thought about St. Peter’s Prep as the stories of hazing at Northwestern became national news, due to the brilliant student journalism at The Daily Northwestern. This is not the space to rehash those heinous allegations, but as the stories now circulate through the whole of the university’s athletics department, one thing is clear: the relationship between academic institutions and athletics has been irrevocably broken by an economic empowerment of those running athletic programs and a cult-like exaltation of the most comically fraudulent label in our culture, the “student-athlete.”
College athletics, and mostly college football, is an abhorrent, repulsive, corrupt business. Universities salivate over the financial windfall provided an elite football (or sometimes basketball) program and relish the increase in application rate that accompanies that success. But the culture of college football is forged on pee wee and high school fields all over the country, every day. Coaches are adorned with an absurd infallibility, as if they’re not just guys who likes whistles and got a discount on dry erase boards down the local Walmart. Parents behave like grotesqueries; surrealist portraits of what it means to be an adult and raise a child. And the children, who are still children even when they’ve enrolled at university, simply don’t know any better. That is why when these allegations surfaced against Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald, his players quickly released a group statement in his support. Not because they believe their behavior as a football team was okay, but because they were never taught to know any better.
But be warned, I’m still going to be writing quite often, including a renewed focus on my game previews in-season.
Enjoy the holiday. Data has some excellent work on Wednesday.