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Weekly Roundup Episode 70: The Nightmare Before Basketball Tryouts

Welcome to another edition of Weekly Roundup!

Aftermath of Thanksgiving meant one thing for hoopers in Vegas: Basketball tryouts. You get your grub on Thanksgiving day, then the next three days it’s back on the playground court or the gym working on your skills or putting up shots to get yourself ready for battle on your own school court in front of the coaches. The question is often asked: How badly does one want to achieve an opportunity to play for your school's team? In Middle School it may not mean much because to be fair no one really cares about Middle School basketball except parents, your middle school brodies, or middle school gals whom think you got all the swag in that uniform… But to hoopers through and through, it may mean a great deal to them.

Making the Faiss Middle School Flyers basketball team meant a great deal for 13 Year Old Mitch, as it’s a dream of his to make a school team, especially in the game of basketball. I mean the kid won 4 YMCA championships and a Middle School Intramural Basketball Championship in Clarence Middle School… This kid lives and dies off the game, no matter if it’s at the gym, playground, rain, or putting up shots in the snow… That kid loves HOOPING!

Before trying out the middle school team in 7th grade, there was a fair amount of hype in hopes that I could possibly be a Faiss Flyer. It all started in P.E. balling on the same team with AJ McQuaig, as we dominated the competition. He was a BAD MAN on the post, as I was freaking unstoppable getting buckets… It was a great stretch. AJ had respect for my skills, as he once claimed, “Shit you can play by yourself!” The P.E. Coach told the head coach how he should watch me closely, as he took noticed as well during P.E. class. I was balling on a whole other level, I’ve made enemies whether it be Brian with the good hair or The Lefty Star David Starbucks… That dude hated me in 7th grade P.E.

Not only was I playing rock solid on the court, but off the court I was developing solid relationships with the coaches. Coach Fretz was the head coach, but he was also my History teacher as we had a swell acquaintanceship. Coach Ambriz was the assistant head coach, as he was also my Math teacher as we had a grand acquaintanceship. I made a fool out of everyone in that class, as I was getting 100 percents on everything homework, quizzes, tests you name it. It was so embarrassing for everyone else, that Mr. Ambriz had to kick my ass out of his class and bump me up to an advanced math class. So everything was clicking, they gotten word that I can play and they know I’m reliable on the books, I felt I was in a great position to make the team.

The odds of me making the Faiss Flyers in 7th grade… Would slowly crash and burn, literally a couple days before tryouts. Me and my family on Thanksgiving Day spent it with a dear friend we knew all our lives, along with her many other friends some we hardly know and some we don’t know at all. I really can’t remember it at all as it’s one of the worst Thanksgiving’s I’ve ever attended, however nothing was worse then what’s bound to come next.

We got this Thanksgiving Ham from them, it’s pretty much a big ham. I believe the next day or Saturday, I was eating this Ham nonstop for a good hour just picking away and away at it. But the thing is that was odd: I was eating this Ham cold… Deli Ham you can get away with eating it cold, but rarely often do you ever see one eating a traditional Thanksgiving/Christmas style Ham cold. Why is that?! Well the next day… I started getting severely sick. I developed a horrific fever, puked almost all day long, and developed a really bad sore throat. My sore throat was so bad, that I couldn’t even talk… I was in such terrible condition. Out of all days to be sick in the entire freaking year: It had to be a day or two days before tryouts, all because of a stupid cold Ham that I should of never have ever eaten unless it’s pipping hot… To this day I will never eat a Cooked Ham cold again, the same ordeal with Grocery Store Fried Chicken, those are the worst experiences I’ve ever had with food.

So I was asked by my parents since of my terrible condition, if I was going to stay home or not. What did 13 year old Mitch do?! Come to a realization his hoop dreams had to be placed on hold for another year or fought through being sick and try out for the team?! You bet your ass 13 Year Old Mitch told his parents, “Unless I get cut… I’m going to school tomorrow.” In today’s age 13 Year Old Mitch would be known as an enemy of the people… But in that time period, 13 Year Old Mitch would be known as a Tough Son of a Bitch. I believe no one would be able to play basketball, let alone get out of bed in my current condition… When it’s things I’m truly passionate about, I have an extremely committed dedicated mentality, I don’t let excuses get by me and this was a very valid excuse I could’ve use, but coaches aren’t going to delay a tryout just because you’re sick. You want to make the team?! THEN GET OUT THERE AND LET THEM KNOW YOU’LL DIE ON THAT COURT TO WEAR THAT JERSEY… This what 13 Year Old Mitch thought and I give him respect.

So in the morning of first day of tryouts… I was feeling very very awful. Same ordeal with a terrible fever and sore throat, I could barely talk to my friends as they were surprised how horrible I sounded. School day was done as I got my gear on and got on the court. I give myself a 10/10 for effort, however as far as my play on the court… I’m going to give myself a generous 3/10. From what I recall from the tryouts, I made some shots and was able to maintain stability into attempting and completing drills… But you could clearly tell I barely had any stamina and I was giving all I really had in me. Also doesn’t help when drills are required for you to speak and you can’t speak at all.

So on the first cut day… I was cut. Coach Fretz patted me on the back and he said Good Job to me. I was a little disappointed I got cut, however wasn’t enough disappointment for me to be sad or shed any tears… If anything I was extremely proud of myself. My heart was in the game and I proved it by playing through the second worst sickness I’ve ever gone through in my entire existence… Takes a lot of effort and courage to do exactly that, I truly believe kids on that team would never give that much effort on the court the way I would have. So I felt pretty good, I was honestly relieved that I could stay home and get better as I took the next three days off recovering.

I felt this moment taught me a valuable lesson for many years to come: If you love something in life, fight through hell to get there no matter what the circumstance you’re currently in. Opportunities in life in which we want to pursue don’t come that often, we have to strive through adversity to get there because who knows if another chance will ever come again. Don’t let a single moment or excuse get the best of you, push it to the side and continue onwards where you want to be. There are so many people that try and try to strike fear in all of us, to prevent us from getting there but claim they “Care” when in reality they just rather see you exactly where they’re at. You may fail but in reality who cares, at least you can say you actually tried and gave it your all, as that’s what really matters in life: Doing rather than staying put. So whatever the hell you want to do in life that you are passionate about… Do it and don’t ever let a single damn thing get in the way, 13 Year Old Mitch did so and later on got rewarded a spot on the Summer team.

There’s one thing I am confident about: 13 Year Old Mitch severely ill, still out performed Casey Johnson at basketball tryouts… Mans was missing wide open layups, you’ll always will have baseball though. Time to talk about movies!

Cusp Grade: B-

Cusp earlier in the year premiered at the Sundance film festival virtually. It’s a documentary film centered around a very small town in Texas, featuring teenage girls whom drink, party, smoke, and do hood rat shit with their friends, finding something to do is minimal for these girls. These girls in this small town feel unheard and unseen, as problems they currently face have to be dealt with mostly on their own, as adult figures in this town either don’t care too much or don’t really have the resources to bring their child a better life.

When I was growing up in Vegas, often times kids my age in their teens would often claim there’s not a lot to do in Vegas unless you’re 21. I always felt that opinion was pretty damn stupid, even before Vegas gotten a couple pro sports teams, there’s honestly A LOT to do in Vegas if you’re a teen. Now in this small town in Texas… NOW THAT’S A PLACE KIDS HAVE NOTHING TO DO. It’s no wonder these kids in this documentary come to drinking, smoking, and doing drugs… When you’re extremely bored to death, you come to substances that relieve yourself from boredom and especially sadness since this town doesn’t have much to offer and the vibe is completely dead.

It’s most certainly the parents fault that their children come equipped to this unhealthy lifestyle at a young age, I mean the lack of supervision speaks for themselves and when a child gets a hold of social media, they’re exposed to so much garbage and that’s why a lot of them are having more problems with substance abuse than ever before. Most of the parents in this film don’t really care or even portray an unhealthy lifestyle for the children, such as the mother whom stays around with the abusive husband. Sometimes children can’t help themselves when their situation at home is not stable or the surroundings don’t have much to offer, to where they would have a right path of success for the future, it sucks and a lot of us should be extremely grateful we don’t have to live in these conditions growing up.

When it comes to the unseen and unheard portion, I can completely understand why exactly these girls don’t receive justice. When you’re centered in a small town nobody has heard of before, often times the court system in these towns is unreliable and the media just doesn’t care because how often do we hear stories from small towns like this where crimes are committed?! Rarely often, this part of town is overlooked and that’s why people in areas like these are most likely to get away with it. You can tell from the energy of the parents as well that these things happen often, as there’s nothing much they can do because they just don’t care, which makes these teenage girls go through a life in which can be most troubling because they can’t rely on anyone for help, more than likely help won’t be achieved.

My biggest issue with the documentary is somewhere between the story it’s telling and the girls as well, I didn’t really sense much of an engaging narrative from any of them to where I was heavily interested in what’s going on. Could be lack of personality and most certainly the sequences happening didn’t really kept much of an interest, a fair amount had to deal with everyday teen drama consisting of an unexpected breakup or a child wanting to move out with her boyfriend because they hate their parents… A fair amount of what’s going on in that regard just didn’t interest me, wish these teenagers were a little more interesting.

Overall, Cusp is a fairly decent film. I recommend checking this one out, can be found on Showtime.

North Hollywood Grade: B

North Hollywood continues the trend of Skateboard films thanks to the impact of Mid 90’s… In fact Sunny Suljic did make a brief cameo in this film as he did skateboard as well, mans is now a skateboard icon I suppose.

North Hollywood is a film in which despite the lead character Michael (Ryder McLaughlin) being an extremely unlikable character, I felt that’s the whole point of the story this film is telling. Michael just graduated from high school as his future hangs on going the fairly safe route attending college or going on a path in which Michael wants to pursue a career as a professional skateboarder. Michael is pretty good at skateboarding, however achieving a career in skateboarding is achieved by a few as you have to be extremely good, know the right people, and most certainly have to know how to market yourself to the public.

A lot of times especially when one graduates in high school: We get in over our head on what we want to do with our lives, especially when there is potential that we can actually achieve on a certain dream of ours. There are those whom stay humble and work their way to achieve their dream, then there are people like Michael who not only act delusional in moments but act like a complete jerkoff. There’s a certain dangerous high most kids get when they graduate as if it’s not controlled, chances are they can seriously wreck their future and most certainly wreck their relationships with the people around them, as we come to see with Michael with his friends and his father. I felt the film handled that aspect pretty well, as I can say I may not be on par with Michael’s level of cockiness and treating others like trash… However I can relate to being that kid feeling a little bit over my head, as I needed to slow down as not only work on my craft but to create a plan along with it, which Michael in this film doesn’t really have a plan as well.

The story is fairly told, I felt the point was made and got across, plus the film does a pretty swell job with characters as majority of them are written fairly well… I feel this felt like a personal story the way it’s being told and how every character is fairly described in this story. Wish the lead character was a little more tolerable as I couldn’t stand him and honestly as far as being a decent being… Never really once stood out as he could be just that, just can’t stand this prick and question why Rachel (Miranda Cosgrove) would ever be attracted to someone like him, I felt the relationship dynamic was poorly developed as well.

Overall, North Hollywood was a solid film. I recommend checking this one out, can be found on Showtime.

8-Bit Christmas Grade: B

After the horrors of Home Sweet Home Alone, as I saw a small tiny clip of this new holiday film, my expectation was “Oh no, another stupid Christmas film featuring a child”. One can understand this assumption, as Home Sweet Home Alone truly broke my Christmas spirit especially for Christmas films. But fear not: 8-Bit Christmas t’was a surprise, as I genuinely found enjoyment in this film.

I found 8-Bit Christmas to be kind of familiar to A Christmas Story: A child whom wants a gift that is considered dangerous, living with a dysfunctional family, heavily narrated, as the child will do whatever it takes to get that gift… You can tell it was heavily inspired by A Christmas Story. Fear not unlike Home Sweet Home Alone, 8-Bit Christmas is not a lazy soulless remake, at least this film despite being influenced by another film actually creates a story that is completely different following that kind of formula.

The story at hand surprisingly offers much variety to it: It’s entertaining, it’s funny, and surprisingly enough it actually has a heart felt message. I honestly loved the message in this film and thought to myself… Ya know we often take our loved ones for granted, as they are the real gifts of Christmas and can come up with much grander surprises than the gifts we heavily desire. 8-Bit Christmas really shows you the true meaning of the holiday, as you come away with a valuable lesson… I gotta admit, I didn’t see this coming, as the conclusion really made me smile.

The story at hand was genuinely fun, as watching Jake Doyle (Winslow Fegley) doing over the top sequences of achieving the dream of having a Nintendo where at the time it was causing an uproar of the whole danger of video games was thoroughly engaging. I love the child's seriousness in this whole ordeal, as acquiring this video game console literally meant the world to him, as it’s got some fun moments I will say.

Sometimes with this film there are some moments which can be pretty dumb. Some characters I didn’t really care for, some comedic moments that didn’t work, and of course gross out humor… I hate that whole puking sequence in the third act, can we please end gross out humor?! 8-Bit Christmas is a Christmas film that I honestly can see myself revisiting someday… It’s fun and teaches valuable lessons, what’s not to like?!

Overall, 8-Bit Christmas was surprisingly a solid film. I recommend checking this one out, can be found on HBO Max.

Found Grade: C

Found is a documentary film centered around three young women, as they were shipped away from their families due to the One Child law in China. These three young women are all related as cousins, as when they found out they were connected, slowly they would like to find out whom their real parents are and whom was responsible in caring for them before they were adopted by their adopted parents.

There was a documentary film made by Amazon not too long ago One Child Nation so I’m fairly familiar with the One Child law. To me: I prefer One Child Nation, as I didn’t care too much for Found.

The presentation of this film was very dull to me, I didn’t care for how the film looked visually as there was not a single shot worth remembering at all, I didn’t like how it was shot either looked very bland to me. The story at hand has it’s heart felt moments here and there, however the story was kind of boring to me as well. Bless the three gals but they weren’t at all interesting to me at all, there were times where I gotten irritated by the way they didn’t fully appreciated the ones that took them in. The ungratefulness was a bit alarming except for one of the gals, like really?! You do realize you are beyond blessed and really have no room to complain about some of the things you’re whining about? Just felt selfish to me and wasn’t all directed in them feeling discomfort in not knowing their real parents, there are issues in which can considered to be a whacked mentality.

There’s also some unusual moments to where the lady whom is head of the agency, that helps girls like these three girls to help find their real parents, gets a bit too happy learning one mother gave away three children?! How about one of the girls getting a bit too happy where they found the location, to where their birth mother left them in the middle of the street?! I don’t get why one of the gals and especially the head of the agency, would want to let one of the gals meet the grown adults that are not the gals parents?! If I’m the adults: I would feel pretty freaking depressed meeting this gal. “Oh hey so this isn’t your daughter, however I feel you would feel much better meeting her anyways?!” These people are cruel, like all that hype, anticipation, and emotions running wild to finally meeting my long lost child due to a disgraceful law, and you have me meet someone that’s not my child?! I don’t know it seems kind of cruel to me, I would feel terrible.

The one thing I actually liked from the journey is the gals reuniting with their nannies, I thought that was pretty cute and heart felt.

Overall, Found was just ok. I don’t recommend this film, I suggest watching One Child Nation instead. -Mitch Smietana

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