The title is the review, sorta.

“Trainwreck,” the Amy Schumer movie that opened earlier this month, plays like a third-draft script (six were probably needed), made by people who simply don’t care about such things. It’s too long. Individual scenes go on forever and some don’t end so much as they run out of gas. There are weird tonal shifts. I kept hearing the voice of my screenwriting teacher in my ear, saying, “But how does this raise the stakes? What’s the point of this action?” As a reinvention of the rom-com, I give it a B-minus — tries hard, chickens out in the end. In other words, as much Judd Apatow as Schumer. Oh, well.

And yet, I laughed throughout and am glad I saw it. I wanted 30 percent more Tilda Swinton, 25 percent more LeBron James, 8 percent less Hollywood sex, i.e., the kind actors have in movies when they have contractually agreed not to show their nude bodies. You see it on premium cable a lot; I call it bra sex because actresses on HBO — at least the ones famous enough to have their names in the credits — are the only women who keep their bras on during the act. There’s one scene — again, too long and sorta pointless — where Schumer seems to be having sex entirely clothed, while her boyfriend, the pro wrestler John Cena, is entirely naked.

I’d like to have seen 15 percent more John Cena, too. Cena is sort of delightful, even with his clothes on, as is James. In fact, all the pro athletes in this mess are pretty great playing themselves, with the exception of poor Chris Evert, who reads two or three lines like a hostage statement, but then again — the scene she was in is terrible and makes no sense. See above.

Someday we’ll look back and realize that while “Saturday Night Live” gave a lot of promising actors a good start, it was mainly a waste of time, comedically. Improv and riffing can be wonderful things, but in a movie, it better sing. And a lot of “Trainwreck” is, in comparison, humming.

That said, the funny stuff is really funny. There’s an opening-scene flashback to her father’s explanation of why her parents are divorcing, a long speech about cheating and dolls, that’s hysterical. If it had stayed that funny and sharp throughout, it’d be perfect. Alas.

That was Saturday night. Friday night was a free Bootsy Collins show at Campus Martius park. It’s always interesting to attend events in the central business district that more accurately reflect the racial mix of the city as a whole. It was a hot night, hotter in the crowd, so after a while we extracted ourselves from the press and wandered over to the Hard Rock Cafe for a drink and some more remote listening. These folks were all around:



I see bikes tricked out like this every so often, first at the Dlectricity festival nighttime bike parade. I actually looked into adding some really flashy LEDs to my own ride, just for the sake of visibility. It added up real fast, and required battery packs and other foofraw I didn’t want to mess with. Glad to see someone’s getting creative.

Links? Maybe.

Reading this story, about the strangeness of digital memories after the corporeal has passed — i.e, death — inspired me to write a letter, including all my social-media account logins and passwords, and seal it in an envelope with “J.C. Burns” written on the outside. It’s going in with my estate documents. I’m putting him in charge of my digital archive; he can have all the blog content to do with as he sees fit, and I’m asking him to seek out and destroy my Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts, as well as whatever else piles up in the interim. I’ve known a few people on those platforms who’ve died, and it absolutely kills me to get notifications of their birthdays, or to go to their pages and see people leaving miss-you messages months or years later. When I’m gone, I want to be gone.

If you had asked me last week what I wanted to read about the Lingerie Football League, I’d answer, “Um, nothing?” I was wrong. This was interesting:

A primer: Yes, they play football while wearing next to nothing; and yes, the spirals and tackles and playbooks are real. No, most players are not aspiring models or actresses; and no, they do not get paid. “If we paid a dime to a player, we wouldn’t sustain a season of play,” says Mitchell Mortaza, the league’s founder and chairman.

They practice seven to eight months a year, often three times a week. They show up in tank tops to sports bars and tailgates, where they sell tickets and promote the league. When they walk into the arena, they are transformed. “There is nothing,” says one former player, “like stepping onto that field and getting ready to knock a bitch out.” Although their sport can be a source of intense joy, it also creates acute pain. Bones break. Ligaments tear. Medical bills mount, and often, no support arrives. For some, hopelessness sets in: Are my skills really worth nothing? Few complain about the lingerie. They’re bothered more by what their uniforms seem to represent: that they are replaceable bodies, each no more valuable than the last.

“No one is here to watch you play football,” players say Mortaza has told them.

Raising children is hard. Raising children in public in the age of the smartphone is harder.

And with that, we march forth to face Monday.

Posted at 12:30 am in Housekeeping, Movies |

46 responses to “The title is the review, sorta.”

  1. Deborah said on July 27, 2015 at 3:25 am

    If you are a parent who lets your kid run amuck in a restarant where I’m trying to eat a meal peacefully, I will judge you. I won’t judge your kid who isn’t receiving decent parenting, it will be you that I silently condemn. I won’t say a word to you or act in any way but I’ll be thinking vicious thoughts about you while seething. I really wanted to read the comments in that Slate piece but I couldn’t get them to load.

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  2. jcburns said on July 27, 2015 at 3:41 am

    Oh, OK then.

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  3. Linda said on July 27, 2015 at 4:24 am

    The problem here is more than parenting. It’s all kinds of people who argue their case in the court of social media, and get their feelings hurt at the verdicts. If you do that, you get what you get. Often you get people with their own well-ridden hobby horses and prejudices. You also get people who were at the other end of your situation–in this case, restaurant patrons who have had their meals ruined by parents who put their own situation ahead of 50 other diners.

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  4. Julie Robinson said on July 27, 2015 at 7:03 am

    Too long and sorta pointless sums up 95% of the SNL I’ve watched.

    All rowdy children in public receive a benign smile from me because we had a runner. Child two was a perpetual motion machine from the day we brought him home from the hospital, laid him on his tummy, and came back an hour later to find him on the other end of the crib.

    He considered the stroller an instrument of torture and don’t even get me started on long car rides. Restaurant meals were but a dream.

    Thus it was we optimistically bought that shameful device, a harness, and tried it out on a trip to the library, favorite haunt of the firstborn and myself. And watched, horrified, as he proceeded to wrap the cord around an unsuspecting patron in tne manner of a dog chained to a tree.

    Whenever a parent apologizes about a child’s behavior I reassure them there isn’t anything my own didn’t try. Been there, done that, and yes I am grateful there was no internet.

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  5. alex said on July 27, 2015 at 7:14 am

    Deborah, one of the things I miss about living on the Chicago lakefront is the relative rarity of screaming babies in dining establishments there. It’s probably more disturbing to those who are unaccustomed to it. I find it excruciating, while my partner, who hails from a large Catholic family, doesn’t even notice it and wonders why anyone thinks it’s a big deal.

    As for improv in movies, nobody makes it sing better than Christopher Guest. When I read about how he and his cast of SCTV alums often manage to pull off their best work in one take and on a teensy budget, I’m impressed. I suppose “Waiting for Guffman” or “Best in Show” probably have some precious moments that don’t advance the plot, but I can watch those movies over and over and be thoroughly entertained every time.

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  6. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on July 27, 2015 at 7:17 am

    LeBron James was amazing in that movie, and I’m still amazed I went to see it. Long story, short morning ahead. As was Colin Quinn . . . and you should see the movie just to see a 100 year old actor give you his best; Norman Lloyd, Dr. Auschlander on St. Elsewhere, who acted for Welles and Hitchcock and manages to make Apatow look a little bit better just for having him in this picture.

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  7. Jolene said on July 27, 2015 at 7:29 am

    Have just seen the preview, but I thought, too, that LeBron James was a kick. Such a great idea to ask him, and all the people I’ve seen promoting the movie on talk shows have said how much fun it was to work with him.

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  8. Alan Stamm said on July 27, 2015 at 7:41 am

    I agree with everything you say about Trainwreck.

    The aside about “hearing the voice of my screenwriting teacher” reminds me (all of us?) that if we visit here dutifully, we’re rewarded with hitherto unseen glimpses of The Other Nancy.

    And yes, the first sentence ^ could end after the sixth word.

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  9. beb said on July 27, 2015 at 8:10 am

    If my wife and I could ever organize our lives enough to go see a movie, I think I suggest “Trainwreck.” It sounds like fun, and it would be nice watching someone make a total mess of their lives without it being family. I’m not sure improv is a good or bad thing in movies so much as the need for good editing. I became a fan of the TV animated series “Bob’s Burgers” after I watching the poor animation and just listened to the voices. There is such a sense of improv in much of the dialogue. But there is still a strong plot that guides the show and brings it all together in the end. But the dialog, the chitchat is wonderfully wacky, and unpredictable.

    The Lingerie Football League is actually a thing? And people play in it for free?

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  10. Joe K said on July 27, 2015 at 8:20 am

    I liked train wreck, she said the only reason La Bron was in it was when she wrote it he was the only pro name she knew, I lauhged thru the whole scene with Chris Everett and Marv Albert, different sense of humor I guess, wife and I both on the later stages of 50, wondered if we would relate and if we would be the oldest ones there, we did and we weren’t, although I wonder if the 70+ couples we saw got all the jokes.
    Waiting in Yipsilanti this morning on a pick up then multiple stops all over Michigan and finish up in St Louise tonight.
    Pilot Joe

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  11. Suzanne said on July 27, 2015 at 8:22 am

    Lingerie football, eh? It’s probably been on an episode of CSI, but I hardly ever watch that anymore. It gave me many insights into subcultures of society that I didn’t want to discover. Maybe that’s why I no longer watch…

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  12. Deborah said on July 27, 2015 at 8:44 am

    Sorry about my rant at #1, I had awakened very early and knew I had a travel day ahead of me, I was mad because I also knew I wasn’t going to get back to sleep. I’m at Midway now, I got TSA-pre so getting through that was a breeze. Thankfully, because the airport is a zoo this morning.

    I can’t even imagine lingerie football. What a crazy world.

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  13. Julie Robinson said on July 27, 2015 at 9:24 am

    I’m pretty sure a large segment of our male readers are imagining lingerie football right now.

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  14. brian stouder said on July 27, 2015 at 9:32 am

    Only the ones who don’t have daughters

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  15. alex said on July 27, 2015 at 10:10 am

    Or boyfriends.

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  16. Dave said on July 27, 2015 at 10:25 am

    Julie, I can’t imagine wanting to go watch this, it seems like a conflict. I can’t imagine any right-thinking female wanting to play this, why would they? Can someone tell me? Now, maybe if I were a teenager. . .otherwise, what Brian said.

    I’m guessing someone might ask me, what should a right-thinking female think. I guess they should think lingerie football isn’t a very good idea, possibly leading to much personal pain, physical or otherwise.

    Some parents really think they’re entitled, we made that mistake ourselves a couple of times, including one very embarrassing time in a nicer restaurant where we were determined to finish our meal because it was already half-eaten when our son decided to vocally protest. He was about one year old, as I recall, and we just kept eating, despite some evil glances cast our way. That would be a do-over, if we could go back, we should have removed him from the dining room. It wasn’t forty minutes but it was too long.

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  17. Joe K said on July 27, 2015 at 10:39 am

    I read the story on the women playing football, wish they would discover Woman’s rugby,
    They would get the same rush with the tackling not to mention the respect that a female athlete deserves.
    When played correctly I don’t think you could find a a better game, this includes the nfl, the Indy men’s team put on a exhibition during halftime of a colts pre season game some years back, they came out and played at half time, the crowd stayed and watched the players stayed and watched the coaches stayed and watched. If you ever get a chance to watch do it I think you will be hooked.
    Pilot Joe
    Fwrfc- 1977 thru 1995

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  18. Icarus said on July 27, 2015 at 10:45 am

    we haven’t ventured out to too many restaurants with the twins but when we do, we do what we can to mitigate

    * go off peak hours when we are literally the only customers in a restaurant (or close to it)
    * time it right after naps so they are fresh and not cranky
    * tip your waitstaff well

    I also have no reason to believe our little 10 month old angels won’t become demon babies when they get more mobile and assertive

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  19. Heather said on July 27, 2015 at 10:54 am

    I’d give Trainwreck a higher grade. Maybe a B+. I kind of like these ad-libbed, slightly wandering type of comedies, and I thought it was pretty funny. Agreed about the scene with Marv Albert and Chris Evert. Why was Matthew Broderick there? I couldn’t figure it out. And I would have loved more Tilda too. She was practically unrecognizable. If I hadn’t read a review mentioning her character, I never would have known. Of course in the end it’s a typical romcom for the most part, despite the “radical” notion of a woman who sleeps around because she likes to, not because she’s desperate.

    Yeah, I have to say in Chicago I don’t see that many ill-mannered children allowed to run amok in restaurants etc. I think the constant threat of exposure via phone recording is huge, and has both good and bad implications, of course. I for one am glad I went through junior high before our current technology infiltrated our lives. I can’t imagine what it would be like to navigate that minefield with social media, surreptitious phone recording, and so on.

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  20. Diane said on July 27, 2015 at 10:55 am

    What Pilot Joe @17 said. Women’s rugby!!! (Never played, could never ever play but have had friends who played and/or ref and talk about needing toughness and skill!)

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  21. Jeff Borden said on July 27, 2015 at 10:56 am

    There are two women’s rugby teams who are playing most Sunday mornings when I walk my dog through the local park, which has a soccer field. You can hear the collisions from quite a distance. They are clearly not pulling any punches. I know little about rugby but remember a bumper sticker from 40 years ago: “Give blood. Play rugby.” Most of the guys on the collegiate rugby club back in my day looked like NHL players. . .no front teeth. They also were famous for drinking several kegs of beer after a match.

    Anyone seeing an uptick in lacrosse where they live? I’ve seen a couple of teams of relatively young kids –both girls and boys– playing at the same park.

    Off-topic, but I got to say it: Despite all the bullshit Trump is heaving around the campaign, I find Mike Huckabee the most awful and odious of the the candidates. His rhetoric about the Iran treaty and how Obama is leading Israel to the oven doors is so far over the top it makes me want to vomit. And he’s a good Christian minister, right? My ass. This prick wants war. . .the sooner the better. Guess he skipped over the Beatitudes in preacher school because he clearly has no love for the peacemakers.

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  22. coozledad said on July 27, 2015 at 11:52 am

    If there’s one thing Republicans taught me, it’s the way they voice their intentions through projection. Huckabee is a frothing anti-Semite, as is the rest of the pack.

    The only use they have for “Israel” as a concept, is as a landing pad for their Oberammergau concept of Jesus, which has fuck-all to do with Jesus, and everything to do with the kind of Caligula they like to see in power. Aside from periodically opening their talk-holes to remind us they’re ignorant of history, they compulsively let the game slip when they talk about “marching Israel to the ovens.”

    I thought this was the whole GOPer/Armageddonist plan. White Republican Jesus and Huckabee would string them Hollywood Jews up quicker’n Huck’s boy would string up a poodle. And Israel’s just a shooting location for a goober Armageddon movie.

    Their base wants the world to end, so they can be whisked up and sit in a man’s lap, and they’ll swear it ain’t in a queer way.

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  23. Sherri said on July 27, 2015 at 12:09 pm

    Guess this is one thing we can’t blame Cosby for:

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  24. coozledad said on July 27, 2015 at 12:12 pm

    Sherri: Surely there was a mistake. This is the publication that ought to be taken down:

    Stenographers for the GOP.

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  25. Sherri said on July 27, 2015 at 12:23 pm

    These hackers, sophisticated in some areas, not so sophisticated in others…

    The NYTimes seems more determined to find a scandal for Hilary than the House is to find a scandal for Obama.

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  26. Jeff Borden said on July 27, 2015 at 1:51 pm

    To the point Cooz is making, let’s not forget that the Bush Administration played Judith Miller of the NYT like a Stradivarius in its efforts to make the invasion of Iraq seem necessary. And it still continues to employ two of the very worst conservative “thinkers” in the obtuse David Brooks (his column answering Ta-Nehisi Coates will induce irritable bowel syndrome) and the insufferable Ross Douthat (who this Sunday used the heavily edited Planned Parenthood video to attack legal abortion without ever using the word woman).

    Liberal media my ass.

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  27. Sherri said on July 27, 2015 at 2:16 pm

    If you didn’t get a chance to see the NYMag article about the women Cosby raped telling their stories before their website went down, here’s an archived version:

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  28. Dexter said on July 27, 2015 at 3:16 pm

    My grandson tried all sports but hockey at Sylvania Northview in Ohio, dropping them one by one until he settled in as a lacrosse player. He seemed to do the best in that sport. He never played varsity sports so it was hard even finding out where and when his games were at times, but I did see him play football and basketball in various youth/school leagues. I especially loved watching him play football on the defensive line…a few times he’d crush a running back and one grand moment he sacked a quarterback for a major loss of yardage. Then…he got into trouble and was sent to military school from where he graduated .

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  29. Dexter said on July 27, 2015 at 3:40 pm

    Men thinking about lingerie football in a lewd manner? Maybe the pervs…I mean, I once was surfing and I paused to give it a look but unless you had a friend or relative playing, there is no fan-attraction there that I could see. I may have lingered there fifteen seconds at most. Of course I never saw any appeal to roller derby, even though I knew a couple families who went nuts for that stuff back in the 1960s when there was some kind of league that played at War Memorial Coliseum in Ft. Wayne.
    I guess I have limited fan interest in most sports. Not every Olympic sport interests me. My good friend Greg is an Olympic pre-qualifier weight lifting official in Connecticut and he cannot understand why I don’t go all ga-ga over those behemoths grunting and sweating trying to out-do one another.
    Not into auto sports except the two big ones every year from Daytona and Indianapolis and any Formula One racing, I try to watch soccer since we now get so many world and European games, but I can rarely stay long. I hate watching track and field, and I watch football and basketball, but only certain games fanatically. Then there’s baseball. I never get enough baseball. So many games on TV these days, and I also get every game everywhere on satellite radio.
    That’s my sport; I played it, I love watching it, and I am grateful that in this cynical depressing world I can take my mind off my troubles and lose myself for a while in a pastime like baseball, which many find boring and meaningless. Oh well, to each his own. I doubt I would have a damn thing to talk about with a lingerie football aficionado…uh-uh, nope.

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  30. Deborah said on July 27, 2015 at 4:29 pm

    I don’t want to make you folks jealous but they’re roasting the green chilis in Santa Fe already. It’s hot, sunny and gloriously DRY here even though it rained a lot last night apparently. Sitting outside on the patio having a bite to eat and an ice cold beer. Having something with cheese and roasted green chiliis for dinner tonight. Oh and did I mention there are about 3 hummingbirds hanging around us. Nice to be back.

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  31. LAMary said on July 27, 2015 at 4:59 pm

    I don’t think that someone who has not been in New Mexico when the chili roasting is going on can imagine how wonderful that smell is.

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  32. Sue said on July 27, 2015 at 5:29 pm

    All those folks who lament the good old days of the first years of SNL have forgotten a lot, I think. I remember laughing at all the good stuff and being stupefied at all the bad stuff between the good stuff. Even back then it was more bad than good. It’s just that the good stuff was so different and memorable from what went before (says the person who was too young for but still never ‘got’ Ernie Kovaks or Steve Allen).

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  33. Deborah said on July 27, 2015 at 5:54 pm

    We just bought a 5 lb bag of freshly roasted green chilis, then we made another stop for provisions. When we got back in the jeep it smelled so good I almost fainted. Can’t wait for dinner tonight.

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  34. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on July 27, 2015 at 6:34 pm

    [drools on keyboard]

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  35. Brandon said on July 27, 2015 at 7:29 pm

    Minions was pretty good. And we’ll see how Pixels is.

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  36. devtob said on July 27, 2015 at 9:44 pm

    Have never seen lingerie football, but have watched a lot of women’s soccer lately, including the USA-Germany semifinal in person this year.

    The USA women are all attractive, because they are world-class athletes who are incredibly fit and soccer-skilled.

    They are a joy to watch, and it’s not just me — the US ratings for the World Cup final were the best ever for a soccer game, matched the ratings for the final NBA finals game this year and the final World Series game last year, and tripled the ratings for the final NHL finals game this year.

    That’s probably roughly accurate, but I wonder how Nielsen measures viewers outside the home, like the 200 or so who watched with me at Wolff’s Biergarten in Schenectady, NY, and the many thousands who watched at similar venues.

    There’s no Nielsen meter on bar TVs, that I know of, and even if there were, how could Nielsen know how many people were in the bar?

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  37. David Edelstein said on July 27, 2015 at 10:32 pm

    I don’t think there was much improv in SNL. Basically they had to follow the teleprompter. Improvisers were fired. If you want improv in movies, look at the Will Ferrell comedies. He and Adam McKay let everyone loose and shoot a lot of footage, much of which is hilarious. (I don’t know how much improv there was in Trainwreck. I don’t think Apatow trusts it the wayMcKay does.)

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  38. A. Riley said on July 27, 2015 at 11:06 pm

    You know what’s first-class sports, and that’s women’s fast-pitch professional softball. My congregation’s knitting group goes out to see the Chicago Bandits every summer and those women can *play ball.* The players are almost all former NCAA and/or Olympic players and it shows. They do a lot to link to girls’ softball leagues in the area, with summer camps, clinics, etc., and if I had a daughter, I’d want her to be part of that movement. High-class ballplaying, high-class organization. If you’ve got a National Pro Fastpitch team in your area, support that team. They’re great.

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  39. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on July 27, 2015 at 11:08 pm

    The Fresh Air interview with Schumer and Apatow left me with the impression there was lots of conversation on the set about scenes, but not much improv per se. That’s how I heard them describing it, but by inference, they’d didn’t talk about it per se.

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  40. LAMary said on July 27, 2015 at 11:38 pm

    Sorry. I can’t stand Judd Apatow movies.

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  41. Crazycatlady said on July 28, 2015 at 1:54 am

    I just saw one of those light-up bikes on Beaconsfield just a few minutes ago. It was blue lit wheels and red frame lights. Pretty.

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  42. alex said on July 28, 2015 at 6:59 am

    We have an LED system in the chassis and wheel wells of our Pontiac Solstice and a little control panel that adjusts color and movement of the lights. It can even be programmed to move to the music on the stereo. And we seldom use it because Indiana passed a law against this kind of stuff, the argument being that cars outfitted this way could be mistaken for police cars. I cannot fathom anyone mistaking this car for a police car, but whatever.

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  43. LindaG said on July 28, 2015 at 8:10 am

    Jeff (TMMO) – Norman Lloyd not only acted for Hitchcock (he is a spectacular villian in “Saboteur”) but was a producer on his television shows. Keith Olbermann has had him on his various TV shows; still vital at the century mark.

    Coozledad – As to your aside to regarding Oberammergau, you might find this article interesting. Ostensibly, it’s about Giuseppe Verdi but read further into it and you’ll see that there are some surprising changes coming to the next staging of the Passion Play in 2020.

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  44. beb said on July 28, 2015 at 8:29 am

    I miss the days when all cop carts had big gumball-machine like lights. You saw a car with one of those you knew it was a cop, and if the point of the police is traffic safety rather than issuing tickets then a highly visible cop car makes a lot more sense than something easily mistaken for an ordinary car.

    Here in Detroit we have one or maybe more undercover cop cars which look like Mustangs until they hit the switch and dozens of red and blue led’s start flashing all over the chassis. Makes the car look like a pimpmobile, if you ask me. But I guess if the core policy of fighting crime is riding around in stealth pimpmobiles then it would make sense to ban similar lights on civilian cars.

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  45. beb said on July 28, 2015 at 8:39 am

    A bunch of drunks patrons in a bar decided to take matters into their own hands, buys bags of cold patch and start filling potholes. Sadly their initial 900# purchase didn’t quite fix one block. But like the mower patrol, it’s nice to see someone doing something.

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  46. Judybusy said on July 28, 2015 at 8:45 am

    Deborah, your part of the world sounds like heaven right now. It’s great to see you truly relishing (ooh, bad pun) all the joys on offer right now!

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