Lifting things up and putting them down | Simply Ranked

Plus: there's Greg Lutzka, a promise of the future flounders, dolphins, and more.

Lifting things up and putting them down | Simply Ranked
The definitive weekly ranking and analysis of all the skateboarding and other online things that I cannot stop consuming and how they make me feel, personally.

Low-effort travel blog, part 1: reviews of all the in-flight movies I watched on the screens of my fellow passengers while on a flight to Croatia

Rank: 1
Mood: 📽 🎞

From my vantage in an aisle seat in the middle section of the economy class of a Boeing 747-400 flying over the Atlantic, I was granted nearly unobstructed views of the entertainment display screens of most of the people seated around me. From a screen in the row in front, visible thanks to its reclining passenger, to all of the aisle seat screens ahead of me in the neighbouring window-side seating section — there were many in-flight movies other people were watching for me to watch, and more than enough time to do so. Which ultimately led to this series of sleep-deprived yet completely correct and unassailable reviews.

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts (2023)
I tuned in a bit late, so I remain unsure of who the main villain is and why Optimus Prime and the big robot gorilla had it out for him, but one thing I can say with surety is that half watching Transformers: Rise of The Beasts and then seeing a billboard for the “Crazy Cars Movie Park” amusement park featuring what looked to be knockoff Transformers characters while taking a cab from the airport in Pula, Croatia, for whatever reason, got me genuinely excited to be alive in this present moment.

Image via the Crazy Cars website

Official Simple Magic movie rating: ★★★★★

100 Dinge (2018)
A German comedy about two friends and tech entrepreneurs who, upon securing an immense amount of funding for their app, drunkenly challenge one another to live without any physical belongings after a confrontation about their rampant consumerism.

My main takeaway from 100 Dinge is that it’s much too long. Every time I’d try and fail to fall asleep, this movie was still going when I’d open my tired, tired eyes in defeat. It almost felt like I was trapped in the lives of these petulant men. Sleep was my only escape, but it would not have me. I continued on and suffered so.

Official Simple Magic movie rating: ★★★☆☆

Another Round (2020)
The Google summary for this Mads Mikkelsen vehicle says it’s about “Four high school teachers [who] start an experiment and drink alcohol throughout the workday to see how it affects their social and professional lives.” Trying out drinking as an aesthetic? Who are these guys, Jacuzzi Unlimited?

Anyway, I didn’t watch much of it because it was on the screen of the guy sitting directly across the aisle and he kept looking at me looking at his screen and it was making us both uncomfortable.

Official Simple Magic movie rating: ★★☆☆☆

Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
Someone was watching this 3-4 rows in front of me and I couldn’t really tell what was happening. I might have had it confused for The Blindside for a bit, which I also haven’t seen before, but from my understanding, is another American football-adjacent movie that hasn’t aged well. Overall, there’s just something about Bradley Cooper that doesn’t sit well with me.

Official Simple Magic movie rating: ★☆☆☆☆

La La Land
Granted, I couldn’t hear the songs that comprised this musical as I wasn’t watching it on my seat’s screen or with headphones, but I could read the lyrics of said songs via the subtitles and Jesus fucking Christ they are bad. This movie almost won an Academy Award for Best Picture! Over Moonlight! Ryan Gosling’s character’s driving motivation is to “save jazz” or some shit — what! A cursed, trash-ass movie. No disrespect to Gosling, though. He’s a prince.

Official Simple Magic rating: ☆☆☆☆☆

Kingsmen: The Secret Service
Maybe it’s just me, but there’s something weird about watching extremely violent movies on an airplane. Horny movies are fine, though.

Official Simple Magic rating: ★★☆☆☆

John Wick: Chapter 4
Also a very violent movie. However, it is fun that they keep making these even as Keanu Reeves’ physical limitations as an action star grow ever more apparent. He looks so slow and stilted in some fight scenes that, at times, it’s like watching a Steven Seagal Aikido demonstration.

Official Simple Magic rating: ★★★★☆

Promise of the future flounders

Rank: shit
Mood: 💔

This is it — the end of the line. There was so much potential, but, alas, the universe had other plans. Those plans, it turns out, were a cruel twist of the knife. Andy Anderson had made it to the second round of “Battle at The Berrics.” He’d mopped the floor with Torey Pudwill. It seemed like anything was possible. However, Nick Holt didn’t care about our hopes, our collective desire to see skateboarding’s quirky be-helmeted hero inch closer to becoming a flatground skateboarding champion. No. Instead, Holt did some relatively basic tricks (switch heelflip, nollie heelflip, nollie backside heelflip, switch 360 flip, nollie inward heelflip) and skunked him.

It was a tough watch, but if we can take comfort in anything, it’s that while Anderson may not have become a flatground champion, he is already — and will always be — a champion — of freestyle. Which, if we’re being honest, is probably harder to do.

Please, all of my sunshine, you can have it

Rank: 1!
Mood: 🌞🌞🌞

That a professional skateboarder would release what might be their best-ever video part to celebrate the release of their first pro model shoe is some, to use the parlance of our times, King Shit. And to do it to a backing of Len’s “Steal My Sunshine” and have it work so well? Beautiful Shit. Also, Suski-crail-grab? Surprisingly Good Shit. Leo Baker is having a moment, and it’s a genuinely special one.

There he is

Rank: 29.97
Mood: 🧦 🛹 🏍

Somewhere at the back of my mind, there’s a small yet insistent voice I don’t often pay attention to. But it’s there, and in those rare moments that the swirling dirge of thoughts upstairs goes quiet, I can hear the voice’s plea, an inquiry: what’s Greg Lutzka up to? Turns out, he’s been at Walmart, promoting his new signature series of complete skateboards.

DREAMS DO COME TRUE! I’m really excited about the launch of my “Learn with Lutzka” signature series skateboards that are Now Available At @walmart . It’s always been a huge dream of mine to come out with high quality entry level skateboards for beginner kids that are made of hard rock maple wood, metal trucks with good bearings and wheels that actually spin. I’m stoked to announce that every skateboard comes with a QR code with 10 free trick tips and a free fingerboard toy! 🛹🔥

$29.97 for a complete skateboard, 10 free trick tips (is 270 noseblunt one of them?), and a free fingerboard! That is quite a deal, so it makes sense that Lutzka is so excited about it. Though, Lutzka seems excited about the prospect of having his name on anything. Whether that’s a “Greg Lutzka Pro Model Bamboo Skateboard Wall Rack,” running socks, or aftermarket motorcycle parts.

Could the price point of the “Learn with Lutzka” boards actually help kids with fewer means get into skating? Hopefully! Are the “Learn with Lutzka” boards any better quality than the usual Walmart dreck? We have to take Lutzka’s word for it. Does Lutzka really care about providing “high quality entry level skateboards for beginner kids,” or is this just another of his many self-branded money-making schemes? If we’re being generous, I’d assume the answer to both is “yes.”

Low-effort travel blog, part 2: lifting things up and putting them down

Rank: 1!!
Mood: 🐬

If there’s one thing you must know about me, dear reader, it’s that I love lifting things up and putting them down. Hauling and stacking firewood, carrying a basket of laundry still hot from the dryer up the stairs, dragging a bench into a location more conducive to sliding a frontside bluntslide — there is just something so powerful and almost alchemic about moving shit around. Seriously, try it right now. Take the laptop or phone you’re reading this on and place it gently on a shelf or in a cupboard. You just moved matter through time and space. What magic! And you’re its author.

Earlier this week, as I sat on a pebble beach in the small Croatian fishing village of Fažana — where the excellent Vladimir Film Festival is taking place — and clacked away on my laptop as the sun danced across the Adriatic, my phone rang with the opportunity to help the festival organizers load and unload some chairs. I expressed my love for lifting things up and putting them down, hung up, and rushed to get changed.

The magic of moving shit around isn’t just contained in the physical act; it can be in the environment around you. The chairs we were to pick up were stored in Pula Castle “Kaštel,” a fortress built by the Venetians in the early 1600s that has since been converted into a historical museum. We drove a rental van up a long and winding road, eventually entering the fortress itself, crossing a bridge over what looked to have once been a moat. It was beautiful. Then, once inside, I got to lift some shit.

But, again, that’s not where the alchemic properties of lifting things up and putting things down end. You may be rearranging your future as you rearrange objects in a room. After the job was done and we were headed out of the Kaštel, Sam Buchan-Watts, a wonderful writer and poet (who’s hosting a cool series of workshops at the festival) who was also helping to lift things up and put things down, offhandedly suggested that he’d like to see some dolphins. Nikola, festival organizer and fixer for all things, made a phone call. We were to be on the pier in 20 minutes where our ride would be waiting.

Sitting on the bow of a small touring boat, we carved through the sea for nearly an hour before we finally saw them. With ebullient grace the creatures danced and leapt, lifting their shining bodies from the water’s surface and into the air before putting them back down into the deep.

Something to consider: Feeding the marmot.

Good thing: Lucas Wisenthal “Plot[s] The Lifecycle Of A Trendy Trick” for Jenkem.

Another good thing: Kyle Beachy blesses us with another “What Blessing Is This?” for Village Psychic, this time working with the photos of none other than Michael Burnett — a great reason to become a VP Patron today!

Wait, another good thing!: Max Harrison-Caldwell flexing his radio chops for The World. “Visa wait times for international students has many reconsidering US studies”

What bounty we’ve been provided!: Christian Kerr’s latest beauty of an edit, “BURNT.”

Podcast thing: I was on the Mostly Skateboarding podcast again this week, talking about my book and other Jacuzzi Unlimited-related stuff. Always stoked/grateful to chop it up with the gang.

Until next week… something you may not realize is that love is all around you. It may take different forms and express itself in ways that are hard to decipher, but it’s there. It may be the school of minnows weaving around your feet as you wade out into cool lake water, the guy who runs the local gelato shop giving you a free scoop, or when the last page of a book you’re reading makes you cry. I mean, what else could those small, everyday tricklings of joy be but love?

I wrote a book about the history and cultural impact of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, and I will keep posting about it at the end of the newsletter for the foreseeable future. Apologies. It’ll be in stores on September 26 and you can pre-order Right, Down + Circle now from your favourite local bookshop, my publisher ECW Press, or all of the usual devils (Amazon, Barnes & Noble). I think you might like it.

Also, if you like book clubs, you can join the inimitable Ted Barrow in reading Right, Down + Circle on his Berate The Birds Patreon, which you should also subscribe to because it rules.

Also, also, I’ll be reading from Right, Down + Circle tonight at the Vladimir Film Fest. If you happen to be here, come on out.