Brandon Priddy writes for The Smoking Musket, West Virginia’s SB Nation site, but he’s also →
KSR’s take on recent non sports related happenings
Welcome, future Mountaineer, to West Virginia University! Here all your dreams of higher learning come true, you’ll experience top-rated professorial guidance and create long and lasting friendships with the very people you’ll inevitably rely upon to pry your foot out of a sprung bear trap later in life. We all need those people and you’ll find them — and a lasting education — at West Virginia University! Let’s see all the great things WVU has to offer!
Classroom time is important, and at WVU you’ll find open, accessible instructors in every class setting. Also, you’ll be pleased to know that the average wait time as your professors seek to figure out the overhead projector has been cut, after comprehensive training, from twenty minutes in 2013 to only fifteen minutes in 2014!
Visit our library to find literally tens of books and feel free to enjoy an apple, bagel or coffee as you study diligently for your next quiz. Whatever your major, we promise you will find a minimum of two books or three comprehensive brochures on the subject. Here we find Susan, who has been working to pass Pre-Calculus for the last eighteen years. You’ll get it this year, Susan!
“Siri, what is the weather today?” Ha, ha! Just kidding. No one knows what this machine does. But it just goes to show the inventiveness of a Mountaineer imagination knows no boundaries! Who knows what you’ll invent at WVU? The sky’s the limit! (Please note that mountains are closer to the sky than many other geographical areas, minimizing limits.)
Here are two friendly representatives from the WVU Creative Role-Players Club. Due to more restrictive regulations placed upon student activity groups in 2014-15, there is a significantly less chance of them murdering you and wearing a suit made of your skin as their next creative role-play. Sign up today!
The West Virginia University Beard Club boasts 700 members and has been nationally recognized by the…hey, wait a minute — Janice, when did you shave your beard? These students live in Beard Hall, where it’s always a party and no shower drains are operational at any time. To qualify for beard hall please include a picture of your beard with your student application.
West Virginia University is all about tradition — timeless, annual events like ‘Beat Martin Sheen at Cornhole.” Last year he defeated over six-hundred teams and he didn’t even have a partner. His elbow has been acting up so this might be the year you’ll take him down! Good luck!
There’s nothing like “dorm life!” Relax with friends and talk about your favorite Netflixes and emojos. Like Hunger Games? Hang up a poster! Please remember that if you are going to have three or more persons in a room at any time you’ll be required to have a dorm soldier present.
Your interests are always represented at West Virginia University! From archery to zoology, there’s a group for you to join and make new friends. Here’s the members of WVU’s Invisible Horseback Riding Team trotting around campus. Giddyup, ladies!
No matter how large your residence room is, you’ll want to all gather very closely together in one corner to enjoy popcorn and talk about your favorite bands and music albums. Here are four happy West Virginia Tech students laughing about that great viral internet memo today. Hey, you guys! Where’s your dorm soldier?
Weekends are for letting your hair down and relaxing. Hang out with friends, go to Mountaineers games and yell at foreigners. Go back to Maryland and eat your crab cakes, you ain’t welcome here! Just kidding. But seriously, get out of here crab face.
Attend formals, dances and other great get-togethers at West Virginia University! Maybe you’ll be crowned the next Mr. and Ms. Mountaineer! (pictured: Mr. and Ms. Mountaineer, 2014).
At West Virginia University you’ll be well on your way to a great new life in your chosen field and on graduation day nothing will feel as great as the sense of accomplishment on a great four years and a great degree. Please do not toss your caps into the air as you may kill any number of predatory hawks or falcons circling overhead as our university is located in a mountainous hell of no escape. See you soon at WVU!
By Josh Corman on ©March 25th, 2015 @ 3:00pm
I couldn’t believe my ears. Or my eyes. Whichever. I can’t remember whether I heard or read first that the Kentucky basketball team’s favorite down-time activity was playing Super Smash Bros. for the Nintendo-freaking-64.
I was fourteen when that game came out, and I spent a LOT of time playing it. Then Super Smash Bros. Melee came out for the GameCube and I promptly made it a full time job (except without the paycheck, benefits, or sense of personal fulfillment). I can’t be certain how much my friends and I played throughout high school and college, but I’m sure it’s in the thousands of hours. It’s my favorite video game ever by a large margin, and once I heard the team was spending their free time playing it, I became even more certain that they’re destined for greatness.
Coach Cal (kind of) joked last week that he had to stop a particularly competitive practice because he didn’t want a fight to break out. He claimed that he was thrilled that the team still practiced like it was December 1st. I’m telling you, as a seasoned Smash Bros. veteran, it’s just as likely that Tyler was still steaming over a tough loss from a marathon Smash session the night before and was taking it out on Andrew on the court.
Because here’s the best part of the UK basketball-slash-Smash-Bros. story: it actually does make perfect sense that this is the game they’ve settled on. For one, it’s intensely competitive (there are still tournaments held around the country for the original game today, more than fifteen years after its original release). Super Smash Bros. is at its best when a big group of people gather around one TV to throw down. In that setting, especially around a group of close friends, the atmosphere is something akin to an old And-1 Mixtape Tour stop. The guys playing are going after each other, not just to win, but to destroy the competition, to put the other dudes on a poster, WCS-style. And everybody else in the room is talking trash and waiting for that big moment to unleash a loud “OOOOOHHHHHHHHH!” when somebody gets smacked offscreen to cap off a comeback win. All that’s missing is a sideline hype man with a microphone (unless Sam Malone already has that covered).
If you’ve never played, I don’t know that I can do the experience justice. Basketball is fun and random and success on the court demands a combination of skill, luck, and cooperation. Super Smash Bros. is exactly the same way. So know that this team is putting in National Title-level work, even when they’re huddled around a TV in their hotel rooms.
Now for the fun part: which player is which character when the team turns on the console? (Note: I have no idea whether any of this is right, but I love UK basketball and I love Smash Bros., so there.)
Tyler Ulis: Pikachu – everybody’s favorite electric Pokémon is small, fast, and a lot more powerful than he looks. As Ulis has shown us all year, size and appearance can be deceiving; there’s nobody on this team you want to mess with less than Tyler.
Willie Cauley-Stein: Jigglypuff – another Pokémon, Jigglypuff is a difficult character to get good with, but once you do, watch out. Jigglypuff’s main attacks are, um, singing and falling asleep, so it might appear, to an outsider, like she isn’t really much of a threat. The thing is, if the ‘Puff falls asleep right next to an opponent, they’re immediately blasted offscreen and never heard from again. Sound familiar?
Karl Towns: Donkey Kong – a force, once you know how to use him. DK is as powerful as anyone in the game, and is one of the toughest characters to knock out. Like Karl, size is his greatest asset, and you can never count him out of a game. Remember the last five minutes against LSU?
Trey Lyles: Fox – versatility is the name of Trey’s game, and Fox’s too. He’s quicker than you expect, and more powerful than he appears, which mirror’s Trey’s game perfectly. If a Smash Bros. player is really good with Fox, then the opponent is in trouble. If Trey is clicking, he’s UK’s X-factor.
Devin Booker: Samus – Metroid’s star character is all about long range attacks, and can go entire matches just peppering enemies with missiles and cannon blasts from across the screen. If those attacks are landing, Samus is deadly. If not, she’s forced to fight at close quarters, which is more of a challenge.
Andrew and Aaron Harrison: Captain Falcon – I know Mario and Luigi would be the popular choice here, but their dad was an army medic, so I feel like they’d go with Captain Falcon (multiple players can fight with the same character in Smash Bros.). He’s got a lethal combination of size and power, with enough speed to catch other fighters off guard.
Dakari Johnson: Luigi – Mario’s brother kind of gets a raw deal. He’s the forgotten one, the also-ran. It sometimes feels like Dakari suffers the same fate in the shadow of two lottery picks. But Luigi packs a punch, and what he lacks in raw speed, he makes up for with power, and picking his spots to unleash it. When Dakari’s at his best, he has a quiet, but vital impact on the game.
Marcus Lee: Yoshi – fun-loving partner in crime to Mario, with a perma-grin stuck to his face. You can sometimes forget Yoshi’s even a playable character until somebody picks him and starts stomping people into the ground. That’s just the way Marcus is. When he comes flying in for a putback or a nasty block, we’re reminded that we’ve got another McDonald’s All-American capable of some incredible stuff on the court.
By C.M. Tomlin on ©March 25th, 2015 @ 8:35am
Over the many, many minutes of NCAA tournament game time are peppered, liberally, many, many additional moments of beloved, life-sustaining advertising. It’s not hard to figure out who’s ponying up the most cash for your eyeballs (hello, TD Ameritrade! What up, Hooters?) but inevitably certain spots are replayed so many times they lose their effectiveness, not unlike that leftover bottle of Amoxycillin in your pantry from that nasty bout of strep throat in 2011. Let’s take a look at the current batch of overplayed TV spots from this year’s Big Dance and judge them on their merits. Accedas ad curiam! Justice will be swift!
Capital One – The Road to the Final Four
I’m not the world’s biggest Spike Lee fan and even I can’t resist the teaming of the director with Samuel L. Jackson and Charles Barkley for a series of Tourney-themed Capital One ads. The spots all pretty much rotate around Sam and Spike being cool while Sir Charles plays the buffoon — as he does in pretty much every commercial he’s appeared in since the Dream Team. Still, they’re just effortless and natural-feeling enough to be welcome whenever they pop up, and Capital One pretty much keeps itself out of the proceedings, assuming that the work they’ve done over the past year to establish Samuel L. Jackson as its living, breathing logo (as they did with Alec Baldwin previously) wasn’t in vain.
Rewatchability: 8 (out of 10)
Verdict: There could be a thousand of these during the Tourney and I don’t think they’d wear out their welcome. There’s no way that you can’t be a fan of at least one of these people, if not all three.
Lowe’s – Newfound Confidence
Lowe’s has switched campaigns from “impress your neighbors,” their previous series of ads which featured unveiling your new revamped house to the awe of your friends, to the “do it yourself” angle, which admittedly befits Lowe’s more. These spots feature regular, goofball husbands — the staple of many an ad for “man things” like beer and tools — so proud of their own accomplishments that they’re encouraged to take on other endeavors, to disastrous results (folding a fitted sheet, wearing a fedora). They’re consistently funny, even upon the forced repeated viewings, and they serve Lowe’s well from a branding standpoint. If I didn’t know these were Lowe’s spots I’d have guessed FedEx, which doesn’t sound like a compliment but it is. Unfortunately, I have the suspicion they only did three of these, which means that unlike the Barkley/Lee/Jackson spots, we’re going to keep seeing these for the duration.
Verdict: Solidly funny, quick, easy in-and-outs make for inoffensive ads that register even after you’re jaded on them.
Buffalo Wild Wings – Wing Wisdom
It’s not that the ads for BW3’s new campaign “Wing Wisdom” aren’t funny, they just feel very sitcom-scripty — and I say that as a guy who spent years in an ad agency writing countless drafts of radio and television spots that I threw out for just that reason. Here you have the only guy from The League not doing anything on the side and his friend, some other guy, as they talk like two hilarious bros from a soon-to-be-canceled CBS sitcom (or, knowing CBS, a sitcom they’ll keep for ten seasons). Buffalo Wild Wings held onto their “bartender sabotages a sporting event” spots for way too long, but they were way more interesting than this. When one of these comes on, you’re not shushing your friends so you can hear what’s going to go down. And if you are, you clearly have a more vigorous love for hot wings and Steve Rannazzisi than I do. And I won’t judge you for that.
Verdict: If you and your friend have patter like this at your own local Buffalo Wild Wings, it’s no wonder you two aren’t alone at your table, too.
Buick – Take a Fresh Look
I can’t get enough of these ads because I love the premise: that your awful friends will automatically assume that your new car is a piece of shit, and when they find out it’s not they will wonder how on earth you ever came to procure an automobile that’s not a piece of shit. They also basically admit that Buicks have been terrible up until now (but now they’re not, okay? They have Wi-Fi, guys? WI-FI!). These commercials literally run on every commercial break during the tournament and that adult contemporary electronic dance music that plays beneath it haunts my dreams.
Verdict: Just know that everyone you knew laughed at you behind your back and thought you were a total loser when they heard you bought a Buick. You’ll show them!
Enterprise Rent-a-Car – Spirit
This year’s Enterprise spots boast the ground-breaking news that Enterprise “hires more college graduates than any other,” which is something I cannot believe is something measurable, and the spot goes on to support how many former athletes they have on staff as well by hyping that many of them “played college sports, too.” I’m not sure how this is supposed to make me feel better about renting from Enterprise, but it certainly makes me think I’ll hit them up for a job after my eligibility at Kansas State finally runs out. Literally anyone could make this exact commercial, because every company in the country has people who went to different colleges. That’s what the entire world is like, not just an Enterprise office. Bonus: they’re still using Rusted Root music from 1995!
Verdict: Completely ineffective except as a warning not to challenge the guy renting you a minivan for your Gatlinburg vacation to the 200-meter butterfly.
By now you may have heard the news. The X-Files are (almost) officially coming back. It was reported on various sites over the weekend that a green light for the project was near. The show will get the old gang back together with David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson set to reprise their roles of FBI agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, respectively. Original series executive producer Chris Carter and several writers are also on board. The biggest remaining question is whether Mitch Pileggi will come back as FBI A.D. Walter Skinner. (This needs to happen, somebody make sure this happens!)
I was late to the party with X-files. During it’s initial run from 1993-2002 I watched zero episodes. Sure it was seemingly on some channel every Friday or Saturday night, but I only ever caught snippets, none of which hooked me. Fortunately, Netflix allowed me to rectify this mistake. After binge watching the entire series in a matter of a few months, I became engrossed with the conspiracies, the cover ups, and…the truth. I even painted a tile at one of those pottery places with The X-Files logo. As such, the news of an X-Files reunion was very exciting. Was very exciting. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still looking forward to it and will watch it, but this trend of bringing back shows is starting to get annoying.
This current era of t.v. viewers crave seemingly one thing above all others-closure. In modern t.v. storytelling the highest regarded shows are ones which provide a nice, crisp story with an ending which wraps everything up with a nice little bow. Sons of Anarchy, Battlestar Galactica, and Breaking Bad are prime examples of how to end a show. If full closure is not achieved, regardless of how good the rest of the series was, the fans will revolt. Lost and Dexter were two of the most popular shows and critically acclaimed during their runs, but perceived slights in their endings have significantly tarnished their legacy. Should I even bring up the last scene in The Sopranos? HBO’s True Detective and FX’s American Horror Story are forays into a pared-down version of this need for closure, settling for single season story arcs and beginning with a new story in the next season.
This notion of a limited series was met with viewer and critical success, racking up ratings and awards. Now, networks are bringing back old series in the form of these limited runs. Fox has already done this with the much hyped return of Jack Bauer in their limited run of 24. Twin Peaks has also become the beneficiary of a return via a nine episode run on Showtime. Shows coming back from the dead isn’t an entirely new phenomenon, and not always in a limited run. Family Guy was famously nixed after its third season, only to be brought back to become one of the most successful animated shows of all time. Arrested Development and Community are examples of cult favorites being saved by streaming services. The latest reports indicate that The X-Files reunion will return in a limited series run, likely with an episode count in the 6-8 range. The primary reasons for the limited run in this case are scheduling and having a run that “ is aimed to close out the lingering storylines left by the series proper” (aka closure).
While all of these revivals and returns make for good headlines, this is a tricky game being played. Sometimes things are best left in their own time. Arrested Development was a great show (first three seasons are exceptional), but the Netflix return was just okay. This was disappointing and left me wondering, did I really need that? This is always the risk when bringing a show back, especially one like X-Files which many consider to be an iconic show.
In the future there will be more revivals. In a perfect world they would all be like the Doctor Who revival, which picked up after a 16 year break without missing a beat. And heck, there are several shows I would love to see come back (is it too late to get season two of Terra Nova?). Some shows, however, were nearly perfect in their original runs, and picking them up over a decade later might be like playing with fire. It may be fantastic, or it may just flame out. Perhaps another reason for the shortened episode return is due to the fact there have already been 202 episodes over nine seasons, two movies, and a spin-off. There’s been so much story! I know there are still some little loose ends, but loose ends are okay. Sometimes you don’t need to know all the details, you just have to believe the truth is out there.
By Richmond Bramblet on ©March 24th, 2015 @ 8:00am
If you are new to Funkhouser, you will quickly realize that I am a huge homer for James Corden. I find him to be fresh, endearing, honest, humble and just a seemingly nice guy. Corden had the honor last night of hosting his very first episode of the Late, Late Show with James Corden.
I will reserve my review for the new Late, Late Show after he gets a few episodes under his belt. For a few quick notes though… 1) He’s obviously very nervous… 2) Reggie Watts’ role really isn’t defined in the first episode, but if he’s trying to be Fred Armisen, it didn’t work last night. 3)He’s going with the Graham Norton style of show, interviewing both people at the same time. Will that work? Who knows. With a guest like Tom Hanks and Mila Kunis, it kind of worked because they have good personalities. It may not work with people a little more shy. It is most certainly a different show than what Craig Ferguson presented.
The best moment from the debut episode of Corden’s show was when Tom Hanks and James Corden did a seven minute retrospective of Hanks’ movie career. I’d really try to explain more, but you need to see it for yourself. If Corden can keep putting out bits like this, he’ll be ok.
Now that all the Oscar movies have made their way out of the theaters, we are starting to see some of the B-list (or lower) movies come out this spring anticipating the summer blockbusters. It seems that production companies try and sneak in their lackluster films of the year during the March and April slump- it’s all downhill after Valentine’s Day! I love going to the movies so I’ve been trying to figure out what are the best movies to see that are coming to theaters soon- especially since it is still cold here in Chicago and I’ve found a theater that charges $3 for a matinee screening. Now there may not be a ton of great movies out, but I have found the ones I think we can all get excited about- and also some to skip.
The Woman in Gold – April 1- PG-13
I’ve been seeing previews of this film for months and as always it seems Helen Mirren can do no wrong- especially if paired with Ryan Reynolds. Early reviews kind of say otherwise, but the story looks intriguing enough to make my screening list, just for the true story alone.
The Short Story: Based on the true story of Maria Altmann, an elderly Holocaust survivor and a young lawyer fight the government of Austria for nearly a decade to reclaim Gustav Klimt’s iconic painting of her aunt, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I, which was seized by the Nazis from her family home in Vienna prior to World War II.
Cut Bank – April 3 – Rated R
Call me crazy, but I’ll see any movie starring Liam Hemsworth. I even saw “The Last Song” where he met his ex- Miley Cyrus and I have to say- he even made that movie worth seeing. I’m really excited to see him in a dramatic role as the lead. I think he actually has the acting chops to carry a film without directors just relying on his rugged good looks. Hopefully we will see both those things in this movie!
The Short Story: Cut Bank is a town in Montana that Dwayne (Hemsworth), a mechanic and former high school football star wants to leave behind. Things change when Dwayne accidentally films a murder in the small town where Billy Bob Thornton plays a cop.
Furious 7 – April 3 – PG-13
Oh look, the 7th movie of the franchise where the fancy cars race each other, or chase a bad guy. Essentially, it is the same plot over and over again- and yet still slays the box office every year and continues to give jobs to actors who rarely star in anything else. Honestly, the only reason this is on my See list is because I think they’ll make this one extra special after Paul Walker’s death. They even used his brothers to finish some of his scenes. I think there will be more touching moments than any of the other installments.
The Short Story: After “defeating” the Owen Shaw crew in the last movie, Vin Diesel, Paul Walker and friends go on with their normal lives until- of course- they come seeking revenge. Oh and it’s in 3-D.
True Story – April 17- Rated R
A movie starring James Franco and Jonah Hill, you’d probably guess it was a comedy these days, but guess again. This psychological drama and true story also stars this years Academy Award Nominee Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything). I was creeped out just from the trailer, but also really captivated. Moving this to the top of my See list.
The Short Story: After being recently fired as a New York Times reporter, Michael Finkel (Jonah Hill) meets accused killer Christian Longo (James Franco) after he tries to take on Finkel’s identity. His investigation becomes a pursuit to uncover the real story of a sociopath and the death of his family.
The Age of Adaline – April 24 – PG-13
A sort-of period piece movie starring Harrison Ford and Blake Lively and I am sold. This sad but also romantic drama is right up my alley and I’ll definitely shed some tears before the credits roll.
The Short Story: After remaining 29 years old for almost eight decades, Adaline Bowman (Blake Lively) has never allowed herself to get close to anyone who would reveal her age defying secret. But after meeting a new friend, her passion for life is reignited. When his parents (Harrison Ford and Kathy Baker) realize their prior relationship with Adaline, it forces her to make a decision that will change her life forever.
The Longest Ride – April 10 – PG-13
No, please not another Nicolas Sparks movie. Guy has got himself a niche. The world can’t take another story of star-crossed lovers- even if Scott Eastwood (son of Clint Eastwood) stars in the film. Unless, you know, you’re into that sort of thing.
The Very Short Story: Girl meets Cowboy, falls in love, seeks advice from an elderly widower who’s love story somehow connects to the cowboy couple.
Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 – April 17 – PG
Now obviously if you saw the first one and liked it, you can move it to your See list, but if you are like me and thought the trailer of the first one looked exceptionally un-funny, then by all means – don’t even watch this trailer.
The Very Short Story: After years of mall cop duty, Paul (Kevin James) earns a vacation to Vegas where he bites of more than he can chew when security isn’t up to his standards.
What upcoming movies are you looking to see? Let me know in the comments!
Unless you attend the monthly Poetry Slam at the Cat’s Den (make sure to thank your USL folks, btw), you were likely blissfully unawares that Saturday was UNESCO World Poetry Day. But, lo, it was! I imagine that professional poets spent it doing things like staring at flowers, smoking cool cigarettes (or KOOL cigarettes), snapping their fingers insistently on the corner downtown trying to get the crazy dude spouting about the end of the world to USE SOME DAMN METER ALREADY!
Hardly a professional poet myself (you may remember my attempt last year during the tournament; also, how does someone get that job?), I seem to have caught the bug regardless. Therefore, in order to satiate my not particularly nigh insatiable desire to slam some poems, bro, I have written 8 short poems in honor of the ‘Cats upcoming Sweet Sixteen appearance–(half of nigh insatiable, 16 / 2 = 8). Enjoy!
1. Bearcat Basketball (or a Combo of Crap)
Left, Left, Block, Punch,
Up, Right, Punch, Punch,
Down, Down, Punch, Down.
Down, Punch, Kick, Loss.
Some change their socks, and some take a shower,
to give their ‘Cats luck, to enhance their power.
I don’t change my clothing, or wash off my stink,
no, instead of all that, I like to drink.
If the defense ain’t clickin’, then I drink some whiskey,
blockers start blockin’, stealers get frisky.
If the offense looks sluggish, and shots just won’t fall,
I chug 5 warm beers and chase with Fireball.
If our victim is shooting with a rather hot feel-a,
then it’s time to get salt, lime, and tequila.
If we win the title, the nation will shiver,
I just hope I make it back with my liver.
3. A Haiku for KU
Only Lost to Temple Once,
A Most Shocking Loss.
4. This is just to say…
This is just to say,
%&*! YOU VILLANOVA!
I HAD $20 RIDING ON YOU MAKING THE FINAL FOUR, YOU @#^*(%^%!
WHAT THE %&*! WAS THAT?
DO YOU ALWAYS POO THE BED OR JUST WHEN PEOPLE ARE COUNTING ON YOU
GO BACK TO WHEREVER THE HELL VILLANOVA IS!
5. Big 12 Basketball
We think they are good, but really they’re not.
The best thing they do, is lose a lot.
If you can’t make the Sweet Sixteen with Durant,
Then your conference is worthless, and coaching talent is scant.
6. How Verne Sees It
“That’s a great play by the Gonzaga Bulldogs! I had two myself, but I had to put them down last year.”
“Fantastic spacing by the Terrapins. You know Jim, the North American Terrapin is actually on the verge of extinction, how do you feel about that?”
“Incredible basket by the Blue Devils!!! Speaking of, my little sister was possessed by a Devil who, if you can believe it Jim, actually was blue. She died.”
“Otherwordly play by the Kentucky Wildcats!! It’s just incredible, I’ve never seen anything like it, Jim! Almost makes you forget for a second that we’re all going to die one day.”
7. Louisville Sucks!
Coached by a vampire, playing at night,
Something about the Cards isn’t right.
They drain their opponents, they use up possession,
With nothing at stake they don’t learn their lesson.
If no other team, can beat their sucking and pressing,
Then they’ll lose soon enough to the Wildcat Van Helsing.
*I am not the primary author of this poem.
By Megan Suttles on ©March 20th, 2015 @ 3:00pm
When I attempt to explain The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt to people, words tend to fail me. The synopsis is brutal. Kimmy Schmidt was kidnapped and taken underground by the end-of-the-world preacher, Richard Wayne Gary Wayne. She and three other “mole” women are finally freed and Kimmy sets her sights on NYC. Throughout each episode Kimmy has to overcome her own fears, insecurities and the looming specter of her time spent in the underground bunker. Not one ounce of this summary sounds funny. It’s a hard sell. Especially when your friends must invest 7-8 hours of their life to a Netflix-induced coma. (They will also need to commit to having the theme song stuck in their head for double the amount of time.)
Here are three analogies to help you recruit more Unbreakables.
The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is to 90s/00s nostalgia as the Timehop app is to your memories.
Today, people have an insatiable appetite for nostalgia. We even have the Timehop app that makes everyday a #ThrowbackThursday by sending you pictures from the same day in history from your social media. Kimmy Schmidt has the same philosophy. The plot allows for the writers to flashback to memories about Hanson, Sam Goody, 90210 and people using the phrase “as if.” Don’t tell Ann M. Martin, but I even forgot about The Babysitter’s Club (and I’m 60% Mallory and 40% Claudia.) I was reminded By Kimmy and for that alone, I would recommend the show to all my friends.
Titus Andromedon is to The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt as Jack Donahy is to 30 Rock.
Titus is Kimmy’s new roommate when she moves to New York City. While Titus and Jack Donahy don’t have a lot in common, they serve similar roles. Both Jack and Titus serve as a confidant for their respective characters. Both are great at impressions. Both serve great one-liners. Both bask in the trivialities of their corresponding ladies. If you enjoyed and miss the verbal exchange of Jack Donahy and Liz Lemon, then Titus and Kimmy are a lovely substitution.
Kimmy Schmidt is to technology as Your Mom is to technology.
*I acknowledge that this is a terrible comparison.
Kimmy spent 15 years in an underground bunker; therefore she is experiencing a lot for the first time. She is new to hashtags, cellphones and designer baby names (ex. Xanthippe) Everyday for her is like the first time you figured out your could stalk people on Facebook from the comfort of your own bed.
Not only does Kimmy struggle with technology, she is also just plain nice (not unlike your saintly mother.) If you dwell on the fact that everyone in the show just rains down their problems on Kimmy, you can get frustrated rather quickly. It doesn’t seem to bother Kimmy. She just tightens up her Jansport backpack and solves the problem.
But, nobody would want to watch that.
Thursday begins pool play for the 2015 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, which means exposure to a host of new teams we don’t normally know much about. On paper, any one of these teams could rise to meet us on our path to the finals, so we’d probably better school ourselves on them, don’t you think? Here, then, is the Definitive KSR Guide to the Midwest Region for you to keep on hand over the next few days. You’re welcome, BBN.
What You Need to Know: Hampton University is located in Hampton, Virginia and its coach, Edward Joyner, claims to have Jesus on speed dial this basketball season. He also regularly faxes Moses for tax advice, is Facebook friends with Hindi deity Narasimha and regularly swings by fourth century B.C. religious leader Zoroaster’s house to “just dish.”
Fun Fact: The oak tree, a symbolic icon of Hampton University, is said to have inspired funk and dance-pop group Morris Day and the Time’s hit tune “The Oak Tree.” Many Hampton University references have similarly inspired Day’s other successful singles, including “Jerome H. Holland Love,” “Do the American Missionary Association” and “The Normal and Agricultural Institute of Funk.”
What You Need to Know: Purdue has won fourteen straight first-round NCAA Tournament games. Not to be outdone, their opponent Cincinnati’s bench has fourteen straight aggravated assault charge acquittals in the month of February.
Fun Fact: There’s no way head coach Matt Painter isn’t an illegitimate son of Bob Huggins. Look at him! Just look at him!
University of Cincinnati
What You Need to Know: Cincinnati is coming in strong after a regular season boasting major victories against Temple, San Diego State, Tulsa and…I’m sorry, I don’t mean to be laughing. It’s just cute, that’s all. I mean, good for them. Sorry, I’m sorry, I’m not trying to be rude.
Fun Fact: If you root against Cincinnati at Fifth Third Arena an obnoxious 59 year-old Proctor and Gamble executive will scream at you and then strangle you to death with a necktie covered in little Tide™ logos.
University of Buffalo
What You Need to Know: Buffalo is coached by former Duke guard Bobby Hurley, who is slightly less hateable since we’ve learned that he also hated Christian Laettner. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, no?
Fun Fact: The mascot for the University of Buffalo is — as you probably have guessed already — the Bulls.
What You Need to Know: Star point guard Juwan Staten has missed West Virginia’s last four games but is expected to be back and moving “exceptionally well” for the tournament. Also, BOB HUGGINS WHY ARE YOU IGNORING YOUR SON MATT PAINTER? HE NEEDS A DAD.
Fun Fact: The Mountaineers’ home court is located in a dark cavern nearly a half a mile beneath the foot of a mountain in Nitro, West Virginia, and 75% of fans who visit their games contract black lung.
What You Need to Know: Valpo won both the regular season and conference tournament championships for the Horizon league this year, and for it they received a trophy with a piece of masking tape reading “Horizon League Champions” in sharpie placed strategically over the existing engraving “Sack Race Second Place.”
Fun Fact: Valparaiso University’s motto is “Vestibulum ut ante via portorium Chicago Optimus locus,” which roughly translates to “The last place to get gas before the toll road to Chicago.”
What You Need to Know: Maryland beat the formidable Wisconsin Badgers this year when the Badgers were at full strength. Which might mean something. Or not. I don’t know what you find interesting, okay? I can’t read your mind.
Fun Fact: Maryland was recently voted “Most Boring Major Program in NCAA Basketball” just now, by me.
What You Need to Know: During the Big East Tourney, Butler’s live mascot — a bulldog named “Blue III” — vomited on the middle of the court at Madison Square Garden. He was so hammered.
Fun Fact: Someone in your office will say “Oh, I like Butler, is that young coach with the glasses still there?” The correct answer in any situation to this question is “No, SUSAN, he’s at the Celtics. Why don’t you start paying attention to things? This is probably why we lost the big account, you dummy.”
What You Need to Know: Texas the team leads the nation in blocked shots. Texas the state leads the nation in blocked arteries.
Fun Fact: ESPN’s “Longhorn Network” actually only shows three hours of Texas athletics-based programming a day, the other twenty-one are just re-runs of the 1984 Sally Field/Danny Glover Texas-based drama Places in the Heart.
What You Need to Know: Fred Van Vleet, title character in the Dr. Seuss classic The Forty French Vests of Fred Van Vleet, has led the Shockers to another great year and many think they’ll off Kansas.
Fun Fact: Watch the stands for all the old people holding up their fingers in the classic “shocker” configuration, because that never, ever gets not-hilarious.
What You Need to Know: Suddenly getting admitted into the tournament at the 25th hour really screwed up Tom Crean’s plans to binge-watch Friends on Netflix all this weekend long. So he’s postponed it until next weekend.
Fun Fact: Indiana fans this year have the most unchecked aggression in the NCAA. But they’re not mad at you, they’re really just mad at themselves.
What You Need to Know: Notre Dame beat North Carolina three times this season, which means that we should be totally okay with them. Also, Mike Brey often dresses like a standup comedian from 1989’s Montreal “Just for Laughs” festival.
Fun Fact: With St. Patrick’s Day on Tuesday, look for a large contigency of big foam “leprechaun” hats and beads in the stands today as those items were all on clearance yesterday.
What You Need to Know: No, you don’t know anything about them. Everything you think you know about them is stuff you actually know about Northwestern. But go ahead and tell anyone you know anything you want about Northeastern, because nobody is going to call you on it.
Fun Fact: Northeastern gained access to the 2015 NCAA Tournament after defeating a table lamp in the Colonial Athletic Association tournament. In two overtimes.
What You Need to Know: The space on Kansas’ roster previously occupied by Cliff Alexander is these days filled by sophomore forward Landen Lucas, and the space on Bill Self’s head previously occupied by hair is these days filled by fake hair.
Fun Fact: Kansas’ lineup includes Kelly Oubre, Jr.; Wayne Selden, Jr.; Frank Mason III; Devonte Graham Sr.; Perry Ellis, Esq.; Jamari Traylor, D.M.D. and Brannen Greene, CPA.
New Mexico A&M
What You Need to Know: The Aggies recently won a Supreme Court decision upholding their players’ conceal-and-carry rights on the court, which makes their appearance in the tournament this year a lot more of a wild card.
Fun Fact: While the university suffix “A&M” usually means “Agriculture and Mechanics,” in New Mexico’s case it actually stands for “Animal-Husbandry and Medieval-Studies.”
I arrived home after watching the Kentucky Wildcats demolish Arkansas in the SEC Tournament Championship on Sunday, put the kids to bed, and settled in to watch ESPN Films’ 30 for 30 documentary I Hate Christian Laettner.
Like almost every 30 for 30 I’ve seen, it was thoughtful and interesting. Like almost every 30 for 30 I’ve seen, it challenges its audience to consider a story that it only thinks it knows forward and backward. As a sports fan, I can’t get enough of these things. But I’m a man of diverse interests, and as much as I appreciate the work ESPN has done in crafting such a well-made, thoroughly entertaining batch of sports-centric documentaries, I sometimes long for something in the same vein as a 30 for 30, but covering a topic totally unrelated to sports.
That’s right. I want 30 for 30s, but I want them about pivotal, moving, or just plain fascinating moments in the history of books, film, music, and TV.
And yes, I know that versions of this kind of stuff exists. I’m aware that there was once this thing called Behind the Music. It’s not the same. See, what I’m after here has a lot to do with the specific style and approach that the wide range of 30 for 30 filmmakers have taken. There are a couple of hallmarks that I’d like to see replicated in what I’m un-creatively calling My Pop-Culture 30 for 30 wish list. They are as follows:
- The documentary should be narrowly focused. The best 30 for 30s usually don’t take a big picture approach, even when covering huge events. I Hate Christian Laettner is a perfect example. The film worked because they didn’t bother trying to cover Laettner’s career in any meaningful way. That’s the kind of information you can get anywhere. By zoning in on the specific, visceral reaction that college basketball fans had to this
irredeemable jackassdynamic, handsome Duke basketball star, they gave their movie a much more interesting conceit.
- The documentary should worry about bringing to light things that change the way we perceive something that’s become more or less familiar. Of Miracles and Men is a perfect example of a 30 for 30 that knocked this aspect out of the park. That movie tells the story of the 1980 “Miracle on Ice,” except that it tells it from the Soviet perspective. The result is so much more fascinating than if they’d just retold the story we’d seen on SportsCenter retrospectives and in the movie Miracle. Finding an angle that hasn’t been worn out is key.
OK, that’s basically it: keep things focused and show us something we haven’t already seen. Here are my five nominees for the Pop-Culture 30 for 30 wish list, in no particular order.
1. Salman Rushdie’s Fatwa
Just to recap, dude wrote a novel (The Satanic Verses) so controversial that Ayatollah Khomeni of Iran publicly called for his murder. Remember when half your friends’ parents wouldn’t let them read Harry Potter because it had witchcraft in it? This is like that, except your friends’ parents would’ve been plotting to assassinate J.K. Rowling also. Maybe it isn’t so surprising now, given the climate after the Charlie Hebdo shootings and other, similar attacks and threats made on the lives of those who depict Muhammad in a manner unacceptable to Muslim extremists, but the fatwa on Rushdie (which was issued way back in 1988) means that he’s traveled with a bodyguard for much of the last 30 years. And he still gets assassination threats to this day. There are still protests of his work. His novel is still banned in a number of countries. I’d love an up-close documentary detailing the personal toll the fatwa has taken and Rushdie’s persistence in the face of it (he’s published five novels since The Satanic Verses).
2. The Making of Do the Right Thing
So many movies treat racial tension as a mere plot point, an unfortunate hill to be climbed. Once it’s dealt with (usually via a goofy gee-we-aren’t-that-different-after-all montage – I’m looking at you, Remember the Titans), harmony is achieved, and the (white) audience is relieved, and we can all live happily ever ever. Do the Right Thing (which was made in 1989, closer to the marches in Selma than to the present day) took a different path by honestly and uncomfortably throwing the messiness of racial prejudice and its deep roots onscreen and letting the chips fall. The result wasn’t neat and tidy, and, as a result, the movie was highly controversial. Many claimed the movie would incite racial violence (nope) and urged to boycott it. Later, though it was critically adored, it failed to garner a Best Picture nomination at the Oscars, while Driving Miss Daisy, which deals with race relations about as sappily as can be imagined, won the award. Given the racial tension still present in the U.S., a deep dive into what made white audiences so uncomfortable with Spike Lee’s work and some insider gossip on why Do the Right Thing was snubbed at the Oscars would make a great doc.
Loud, guitar-driven music punctuated with angry bursts of outsider lyrics is as normal as the sunrise nowadays, but there was a time when what is now known as punk-rock was dismissed as little more than noise. Except for the folks at New York’s CBGB, where acts like The Ramones got their start. There was a (by all accounts terrible) fictional film about the club released a few years ago, but I’d prefer to hear it from the horses’ mouths. Why did this music stand out and catch on? Who were the key players behind the scenes whose stories haven’t been told? In a day and age where it feels like there’s no one place where movements in music, art, fashion, or literature begin, the CBGB feels like the kind of place that just doesn’t exist anymore.
Well, kids, what did I miss? What pop-culture backstories are you desperate to know more about, 30 for 30 style?
By Kalan Kucera on ©March 18th, 2015 @ 10:30am
There are a lot of great things about living in Austin, TX (did you know BBN fave Kaylee Hartung lives here?), but one of the better perks is that there are tons events and people that come here year ’round. The crown jewel of Austin’s event scene has to be the South by Southwest festival (SXSW) which combines two weeks worth of interactive exhibits (mostly panels and brand marketing), movie premiers–including Fast & Furious 7 and Get Hard–and a whole, whole, lot of bands.
If you’ve never been, it can be a little overwhelming, but can also be a blast! The best part about it’s current incarnation is that you don’t really need an official $600 dollar badge to enjoy it either. There are tons of free parties, free events, and even the gaming expo let’s anyone in. It’s Gold Hat’s most fervent dream! I went around the whole weekend, attending whatever they would let me into, running into whomever I could and eating all of the free junk I could stuff into my face.
- Going to the Men in Blazer’s GFOP party and running into Grantland’s Jonah Keri and Bryan Curtis (really great guys), both of whom I got to chat sports with.
- Going to the Nerdist, Geek & Sundry, and Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls party at a great restaurant called Banger’s. Felicia Day literally spent 2 hours letting people take selfies with her.
- I saw two other Grantland heroes of mine, Rembert Browne and Shea Serrano, the latter of whom is my absolute favorite twitter account. I tweeted at Bill Simmons offering him a margarita, and was ignored. I don’t blame him, I guess.
- Actually going the Men in Blazer’s podcast taping at the NBC Sports Lawn. It was amazing, they handed out all the free Fuller’s ESB you could drink, Scotch Eggs and Meat Pies to eat, and the guests were Jamaal Charles and Victor Cruz. Also, I took the only selfie I think I’ve ever taken:
— Kalan (@KalanKucera) March 15, 2015
All of this was pretty damn cool for one weekend.
The icing on the proverbial cake, though, was yesterday when I got to attend a taping of Jimmy Kimmel Live! For those of you that don’t watch, Jimmy Kimmel had such a great time last year when he came to Austin that he decided to do it for a second year in a row. This year, we got tickets for Monday when Jimmy would have Kevin Hart, Brad Paisley, and sorta-kinda McConaughey as guests.
If you’ve never been to a pre-recorded TV taping, it’s quite the experience. This was my first time doing it and, not knowing what to expect, showed up at 12:45 for a 5:00 pm taping. I then proceeded to lurk quite boringly for the next few hours, standing and staring into the sun in this:
— Dan Bagby (@DanBagby) March 16, 2015
It actually got pretty hot, and I think some of the audience might have had their brains baked a bit. We spent so little time with access to alcohol that I think this is the only logical explanation for some of the things that happened next. When the line finally moved, we all quickly were assigned seats and let onto the terrace. I waited in line to get some much needed refreshment, but once I’d waited in that line for 15 minutes, they announced that doors would open soon. So I went inside and waited at doors for 10 minutes. There’s a lot of waiting involved in TV.
It’s St. Paddy’s Day! Spring is in the air, the Chicago River is green, and brackets are out! Given that Notre Dame is in UK’s region this year it makes sense to enjoy St. Patrick’s day even harder today since BBN will be heavily anti-Irish when they play in the Elite Eight. What is the best way to celebrate this seemingly random holiday? I’m glad you asked. Here is a guide to how to effectively get the most Irishness out of the rest of your day:
3:00-3:30 PM- Lucky Charms-This magically delicious cereal features one of the most recognizable Irish icons, the leprechaun. Enjoy eating the marshmallows in your cereal, you will need the sugar rush to help get your through the strenuousness of St. Patrick’s day.
3:30-6:00 PM- Watch Boondock Saints-Troy Duffy’s definitive work on Irish vigilantes fighting organized crime in Boston. Excellent performances by Willem Dafoe, Sean Patrick Flannery, and Norman Reedus (Daryl from The Walking Dead) make this a much watch for St. Patrick’s Day festivities.
6:00 PM-7:00 PM- Expel snakes-One of the many things St. Patrick is famous for is expelling snakes from the Emerald Isle. In order to fully immerse yourself in the St. Patrick experience you have to expel snakes. Lucky for you there is an easy to follow guide on how one can expel snakes from a place, Kentucky’s very own Turtleman!
7:00-8:00 PM: Guiness and WWE Network-You just spent the last hour wrangling snakes, it’s time for a well-deserved break. Grab some of Ireland’s most famous brew and turn on the WWE network to watch some old school wrestling. While watching WWE you get several Irish influences, such as Seamus, Hornswoggle, and Irish-descendant Vince McMahon.
8-8:30 PM: Dinner at McDonald’s-Since anything with the prefix “Mc” is probably Irish you should go to McDonald’s and get a McDouble and some fries. Not only is your burger Irish, but you are partaking in one of Ireland’s famous exports, potatoes! While your at it, grab one of their holiday Shamrock Shakes, they’re green.
8:30-10:00 PM: Listen to Irish music-Gather your friends and your Killian’s Irish Red to enjoy one of Ireland’s greatest cultural contributions, their music! There are many options for listening to Irish music, for more of an Irish punk feel try some Flogging Molly or Dropkick Murphy’s. If you are more alt rock inclined you also have The Cranberries or Snow Patrol. If you prefer traditional Irish music there is always The Irish Rovers and The Dubliners. Just not sure what you’re in the mood for? Just play some U2, their last album is probably still on your iTunes.
10:00-11:30 PM:Watch Dodgeball-Begin your evening wind-down by watching Dodgeball. This film features the greatest dodgeball player of all time, Irishman Patches O’Houlihan. Patches is a master motivator and Rip Torn plays the part beautifully, delivering hilarious line after hilarious line.
11:30-12:00 PM: Bedtime stories with famous Irish authors-There are many great authors who hail from Ireland. Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, W.B. Yeats. Download a title or two from these authors for your Kindle or Nook and settle in for a pleasant reading session. After you’ve read for thirty minutes you should be asleep, dreaming of four leaf clovers and pots o’ gold.
By Abby Newcom on ©March 16th, 2015 @ 3:00pm
60 hours of a choir singing hymns, 12 hours of knitting, a seven-hour train ride- these are the types of TV programs captivating Norway these days. No, they are not spending 24-hours binging the latest season of House of Cards, but 3.2 million viewers (the population of Norway is approximately 5 million) tuned in to watch the 134 hour, 42 minutes and 45 second broadcast of a sea voyage from Bergen to Kirkenes. Why the dichotomy? Why has our TV viewing become more urgent, while there’s has become more leisure?
Over the last 5 years, Norway has been plugging away at creating what they are calling “Slow TV.” The idea developed on train when TV producers were discussing what to do with all of the archived B-roll footage left over from their films. And from there, Slow TV was born into a national phenomenon, airing unedited journeys or events and the phrase even was named “new word of the year” in 2013 by The Language Council of Norway.
So will Slow TV catch on here? I can’t say. While it is intriguing, could Americans really sit around and watch a “story” knowing there is no dramatic ending? Is it satisfying enough to watch the boat reach its port? Does that create any water cooler talk? Is it too much like our fishing shows or golf? I find myself wanting to like this though. But if I’m honest, I think it would just end up being background noise. The BBC in England is even launching a patience-testing program to try and introduce the concept this spring of a boat ride through an English country side canal. And LMNO Productions is in the midst of signing contracts with U.S. networks for our own trial run.
While a very simple concept, the idea feels fresh- innovative even or watching a train travel throughout gorgeous scenery for hours. A camera is positioned on the front of the train- basically you’re getting a conductors view- as the train follows the tracks through a snowy Norwegian landscape, through tunnels and under bridges as your watch the scenery change. You can hear the conductor call out the next stop. Its repetitive concept is relaxing- maybe that’s exactly the kind of TV Americans need to be watching more of.
Well maybe some Americans have taken notice already, Stephen Colbert mocked Norway’s National Firewood Night, where people chopped wood and arranged it in a fire place before starting a fire for 8 hours and 20% of Norway’s population tuned in. Riveting TV at Christmas time. But let’s remember, this concept isn’t entirely new. Andy Warhol made an “anti-film” in 1963 showing a man sleeping for five hours. And one of the earliest films on record was an 1895 (very) short film of a train arriving into a station, “The Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat.”
I could see this working in the U.S. as a “special event.” Kind of like how the Carrie Underwood version of “Sound of Music” or NBC’s “Peter Pan” were sold as TV events. Something that you could invite friends over, play some games, drink some wine, keep it on the TV and look up every now and then- and maybe form some kind of game of how much you can watch. I can already think of how people could make this a drinking game of sorts- but maybe that puts our own American spin on it.
What would you like to watch for hours on end as our version of Slow TV? Share in the comments below!
With the ‘Cats sewing up the SEC tournament title yesterday, along with the number 1 overall seed and a pretty great-seeming draw, you would’ve thought that this past weekend was the absolute best ever (until the first week of April). Strange news out of the movie world, though, which becomes immediately apparent when you look at the top 5 box office performances of the weekend.
1. Cinderella – $70.1 million
2. Run All Night – $11 million
3. Kingsman: The Secret Service – $6.2 million
4. Focus – $5.8 million
5. Chappie – $5.8 million
You’re telling me that Cinderella–a live action Cinderella with Cate Blanchett and the reattached mug of Robb Stark (RIP) that was directed by Kenneth Branagh–is $60 million better than LIAM NEESON ON FIRE WITH GUNS???
I refuse to believe that this is true. I also question the timing of this “box office coup”, because how aptly titled is this movie for the weekend of Selection Sunday? I don’t know this, and I’m not saying it, but doesn’t it seem a little convenient for the NCAA to have this movie come out now? Is this some elaborate scheme to promote upsets (I know I’d be upset if I saw this movie)? As LBJ once said, “If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it’s probably some scheme for television ratings from one of the networks.”*
*Quote sourced from memory, may not be accurate.
Just watch these trailers and tell me I’m wrong:
Run All Night (2015)
Ummm, how is this a contest? Or rather, how wasn’t this a contest?
Thank goodness for basketball!
On Monday, March 16th BRAVO returns with its second season of Southern Charm. Set in Charleston, SC, the show is like an edition of Southern Living but with poor life choices. The show follows the four pillars of BRAVO Programming:
- Larger than life characters.
In honor of the season premiere that is the best of all four of BRAVO’s essential qualities, I have put together the ultimate BINGO board. Play along as you watch Shep & Co. parade around the Holy City with their corrupt and immoral ways. So, embrace your competitive side and see if you can get five in row!