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Fish in a Barrel: Ranking the Five Worst Performances in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “Sabotage”

Fish in a Barrel: Ranking the Five Worst Performances in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “Sabotage”

Sabotage, the ultra-violent action-thriller starring Arnold Schwarzenegger as the leader of a rogue group of DEA agents, recently was released on DVD and Video on Demand. I doubt you will be surprised when I tell you that it is a very bad movie. Even by action movie standards, which are admittedly very low compared to those of other genres, Sabotage is almost shockingly terrible. The plot is laughable, the dialogue is stilted, and what passes as the film’s major plot twist/reveal is so telegraphed that, if you can’t predict it within the first 10 minutes of the movie, you might want to make sure your house is thoroughly baby-proofed even if you don’t live with any children.

The film is directed and co-written by David Ayer, the same guy who wrote Training Day, a fact that should forever erase any questions related to whether or not Denzel Washington is one of the best actors of our generation. Granted, Training Day was directed by Antoine Fuqua (who has since produced some pretty crappy movies himself – I’m looking at you, Olympus Has Fallen), but Washington created one of the most memorable characters of the early 2000s speaking words written by the same guy who wrote Sabotage, which features tough-guy dialogue as bad as you are ever likely to find in a major motion picture.

In a movie filled with amazingly bad performances, it’s difficult to shine a light on Sabotage’s five worst. Difficult, but not impossible:

 

5. Arnold Schwarzenegger

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This should come as no surprise to anyone who has ever seen Arnie act before. The former Governor of California has never been known for his nuanced performances, but he’s really bad in Sabotage. Sure, the man is still built like a Mack Truck, and that’s commendable for a guy in his late-60s, but in a career filled with garbled lines and cheesy one-liners, Sabotage surely has to be in the conversation when it comes to listing Schwarzenegger’s worst acting jobs. If there is a bright spot, I suppose Schwarzenegger at least can rest easy knowing his performance wasn’t the movie’s worst, a statement that probably hasn’t been made many times when discussing which actor in a Schwarzenegger movie sucked the most.

 

4. Max Martini

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According to IMDB, Max Martini’s name really is Max Martini, which is awesome. He looks like an action star and has the resume to match, with previous roles in Pacific Rim, Captain Phillips, and Saving Private Ryan. Here he plays a character named Pyro, and honestly his performance isn’t really any worse than some of the other actors who didn’t make this list (including Joe Manganeillo, Josh Holloway, and Terrence Howard – all of whom are terrible in this movie, but not as bad as their cohorts), but one scene in particular sealed his fate. If you don’t want a completely obvious plot point in a third-rate action movie ruined for you, skip this next part. OK, still here? Good. There is a scene in the movie where Pyro wakes up drunk in his RV and relieves himself in the sink because I guess that’s what hardened members of the DEA’s special operations unit do. As he stumbles back to bed, he realizes someone has parked his house-on-wheels on some train tracks. He fumbles with the keys to start the RV, but can’t get it to turnover. Then he wrestles with the door, which seems to be locked from the outside. Now, all this time, the train is approaching, but it really doesn’t seem to be moving all that quickly. Still, after he jiggles the door a couple of times and realizes it’s locked, rather than trying to squeeze out a window or even moving to the very back of the RV (which, sure, would still be tossed around once the train hit, but would certainly absorb less impact than the dead-center where the locked door is located), he simply stands in front of the door and turns and screams at the oncoming train for, like, 30 seconds. Watching Martini run through all of his tough guy screams as the train slowly, but inevitably, makes its way towards the RV is so sad that I actually felt embarrassed for him.

 

3. Olivia Williams

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Williams is one of those actresses who is immediately recognizable, but you probably won’t be able to figure out why she looks so familiar. She has appeared in some well-regarded films such as The Sixth Sense and Rushmore, and she was very good in each. She is not, however, very good in Sabotage. Playing the lead investigator assigned to sniff around Arnie’s group of agro, drug-money stealing, DEA meatheads, Williams’ acting consists of alternately squinting or bugging-out her eyes to convey any and all emotions, and awkwardly delivering hard-boiled cop dialogue about as convincingly as a drunk teenager trying to tell a bouncer what birthdate is listed on his fake ID.

 

2. Sam Worthington

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Worthington is probably best known for his roles in Avatar, the dreadful Clash of the Titans reboots, and Terminator Salvation. While many of those movies were sub-par, he’s proven himself to be an above-average actor more than capable of leading a mindless action picture. Here, though, he’s nearly unrecognizable as Monster, the psycho with a soft-spot who sports a shiny dome and a braided, rat-tail goatee long enough to be a source of concern around paper shredders and bowls of soup. Worthington has two modes in Sabotage: talking very quietly when he’s serious, and growling and shaking like a maniac when he’s angry. Whether he’s barking like a rabid dog or speaking in tones barely audible to the human ear, he frequently slips in and out of his native Australian accent. The fact that it is so noticeable means the filmmakers had to be aware of it, but figured an American character randomly speaking like an Aussie throughout the movie was the least of their worries.

 

1. Mireille Enos

MEnosSab1

Enos delivers the most cringe-inducing performance in Sabotage and it isn’t even close. Her character is supposed to be the loosest of the loose cannons: short-tempered, always looking for a fight, and the type of head-case who has never met a risk she didn’t immediately want to take. Her various personality flaws are compounded by the fact that she LOVES drugs – cocaine, pills, liquid meth. There are a few minor love stories in Sabotage, but by far, the greatest onscreen romance here is between Enos’ character and drugs. Whether the scene calls for her character to be high as a kite or dialed-in, half of her lines are delivered through clenched teeth and pursed lips, and the other half are punctuated by a bubbling, wild cackle most frequently associated with excited hyenas. Enos has done some great, understated work in the past, most notably as Sarah Linden in The Killing and as Brad Pitt’s rock-steady wife in World War Z, so I know she’s not a bad actress. But for whatever reason she decided to try something completely different for this role and, WOW, is it a disaster! I mean, I guess she can be commended for really going for it and swinging for the fences, but if more people had actually seen Sabotage (it reportedly only grossed $10 million in the U.S.), her performance would undoubtedly be mentioned alongside some of the all-time worst performances in movie history. (I know that last sentence sounds harsh and like a bit of an over-exaggeration, but go watch Sabotage and tell me if you disagree. I’m as prone to hyperbole as the next idiot who types words on the internet, but I assure you, if anything, I’m underselling how painful it is to watch Enos go down in flames.)

 

It’s always hard to determine who deserves the blame for a movie like Sabotage. Do you blame the actors for, you know, being so bad at acting? Or do you blame the director, in this case David Ayer, because someone had to yell “CUT!” at the end of each scene and decide that what was just shot was good enough to keep? It’s hard to tell, but I do know that I was really looking forward to Ayer’s next movie –Fury, the World War II dudes-in-a-tank drama staring Brad Pitt that opens later this year – but I’ve since lowered my expectations. Hopefully we’re not back here in three months discussing my latest article: “Just How Bad is Shia LaBeouf in ‘Fury?’”

Oh, wait…

 

 

@TheSEShepherd

 

 

 


The North American Field Guide to SEC Football Fans (Abridged)

The North American Field Guide to SEC Football Fans (Abridged)

Hello, friends. I hope you’re well. I think you have some strawberry jelly around your mouth. No, not there. Not there. There. Yes. Oh, my. That’s a rash. You should have that looked at. Where would you even get a rash like that?

Friends, football season is swiftly approaching — but I don’t need to tell you that. Stoops Fever has captured the Big Blue Nation and this fall sees another opportunity for Kentucky Football to begin rebuilding itself to the perennially successful program it has the potential to be. It’s not going to be easy; I’m not going to lie to you. You know, as well as I do, that SEC football is a gauntlet of impressive assassins, and over the next few years we’re going to have to face them all head-on if we want to claim a spot at the top of the pile. For us, the fans, this also means dealing with the fan bases of these teams. So since it’s late July, nothing much is going on, and I know you guys love off-topic posts, I thought today we’d start off a two-part series updating a piece we began a few years back: our Field Guide to identifying the SEC fans we’ve come to know over the years. Have a great weekend, everyone, and I’ll see you here again next week.

———–

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Florida

Distinguishing Marks: Visor, Parrothead vanity plate, Croakies tan line, flip-flops
What to know: The Florida fan is mostly bluster on dry land; his true territory is on his boat. That said, the Florida fan — as most Florida natives — can be prone to momentary insanity. Best not to provoke the Florida fan lest he bite your earlobe off or try to run you over with a skid steer. It won’t make sense, of course, don’t question it. That is the nature of the Floridian.  Their leathery, damaged skin is thick and coarse. Do not pet them.
Tips: If you are being pursued by a Florida fan, tossing a few can coozies in the opposite direction will almost certainly throw them off your trail.

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Vanderbilt

Distinguishing Marks: Ironic Sperrys, “athletic fit” button-downs, glasses
What to know: Vanderbilt fans are among the “hippest” in the SEC due to their Nashville insulation. They are Tennesseeans but not rural, they are Nashvillians who prefer St. Vincent to Luke Bryan. They are generally fairly quiet, but will attack if they feel their favorite neighborhood organic nacho restaurant is being threatened.  They don’t expect much from their football team so they rarely have darker moments following losses. A victory may lead to alcohol poison for the Vanderbilt fan, however, as a few more celebratory Magic Hats to kick things up a notch may ensue.
Tips: You may think a Vanderbilt fan is listening to the words you are speaking but all he hears is acid trance music.

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South Carolina

Distinguishing Marks: Tribal tattoo, unwashed cargo shorts, open mouth
What to know: The South Carolina fan goes nowhere without a 20 oz. Diet Coke bottle full of dip spit in one hand and a 32 oz. McDonald’s cup full of vodka and Sprite in the other. Caps tend to be worn backward, shirts tend to be removed at some point, a pervasive sense of partying follows the Gamecock fan wherever he goes. Look for this fan to be shouting from the tailgate of a pickup truck pre-game and lying unconscious in the mud beneath its tire at kickoff.
Tips: The average South Carolina fan knows a guy who drank a fifth of SoCo and partied with Kenny Chesney. DO NOT ASK HIM ABOUT THIS.

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LSU

Distinguishing Marks: Older age, high income bracket, expensive winnebago
What to know: The average  traveling LSU fan, as noted above, is 60 years old, a successful doctor close to retiring who has the expendable income to purchase a high-level RV to take him, his doctor friends and his 45 year-old “trophy wife” in a big hat to away games on weekends. They are relatively harmless and keep to themselves for the most part.
Tips: Befriend the traveling LSU tailgating fan, as they spend a lot of money on higher-quality food than what you and your friends are eating.

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Georgia

Distinguishing Marks: Male – Red pants, navy blazer, bow tie, no socks, loafers, father’s credit card; Female – blonde, sundress, bulldog paw cutely painted on cheek.
What to know: The Georgia football fan generally fancies himself a higher breed and caliber than his peers, has a father in real estate development and likes to think of himself as an “southern gentleman.” Pays little attention to the game but has good seats. Once drunk, he gets depressed and cries as his girlfriend makes out with a girl.
Tips: The average Georgia fan loves the book and movie Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil and believes that’s how people from Georgia are supposed to be. It’s not, and it’s ridiculous.

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Tennessee

Distinguishing Marks: Camouflage, neon “hunter orange” instead of “Volunteer Orange,” Oakley wraparound sunglasses
What to know: Tennessee fans cannot be reasoned with and hate you, whoever you are, if you are not a Tennessee fan. Still talks about Peyton. Travels to your home field but acts as if he can’t stand to be there.  Owns three or more Duck Dynasty-branded items which are not hunting implements or clothing. Tells you to “come on over here then and say it to his face” when you haven’t said anything. Has more than five punch-holes in the drywall of his garage.
Tips: Never touch the Tennessee fan’s truck balls. You could be murdered for that.


The ‘Into the Woods’ Trailer is Here

The ‘Into the Woods’ Trailer is Here

Could you tell it’s for a Disney musical? Where they sing songs?

They’re trying to be discrete about it I guess…. No one wants to sit through Les Mis in the theatre yet another Christmas..

Meryl Streep, Anna Kendrick, Emily Blunt, Chris Pine, James Corden (sorry Richmond), and Johnny Depp star in this fairy tale hodgepodge that comes out this Christmas. I will be seeing it, not because several of my favorite actresses are in it, but because Chris Pine looks like this:

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The shades are a nice touch for Prince Charming.


Morning Monologue – July 31, 2014

Fallon

For the first time for Morning Monologue in two weeks, the people at The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon put up his monologue, so today we bring it to you, in two parts.  When the Fallon crew wants you to watch a monologue, they want twice the views for ad revenue.  SOOOOOOOO… to appease the  monologue gods, we bring you both parts:

And while we’re on a Fallon roll, friend of Funkhouser (we assume) Mike Birbiglia discusses trying to not seem like a creep on a bus:

And for a new segment called Thursday Three-play (this isn’t a real thing, I just wanted to show a third video), and since we haven’t had enough Chris Pratt (friend of Funkhouser, we assume) on Morning Monologue, here’s Pratt on Late Night not joking about getting reprimanded by NBC for a Parks and Rec shoot:

 

 


America’s Most Wanted?

America’s Most Wanted?

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There are two very interesting and distinct lenses through which you can view the new-ish film A Most Wanted Man.  First, as a view into the final (non-Hunger Games) role for Philip Seymour Hoffman, largely regarded as one of the best actors in recent decades, who overdosed, sadly, early this year.  Secondly, as a pointed and sharp commentary of German-American relations and intelligence communities in recent years which, if you haven’t heard, aren’t good.  Both add a certain anxious and uncomfortable subtext to what is already a slow burn thriller, a term I use in the best possible sense.

A Most Wanted Man is based on the book by famed author John le Carré whom you may know from works such as The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, The Constant Gardener, or Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.  Like most film adaptations of his works, this is a very cerebral thriller/espionage film and its strengths rest primarily on the merits of the actors involved.  On that basis alone, the film is pretty extraordinary.  There are wonderful performances here from Rachel McAdams, Robin Wright, Willem Dafoe, and Grigoriy Dobrygin, but Hoffman is undeniably the anchor of the film.

The story involves a poor Chechen immigrant named Issa (Dobrygin) who sneaks into Hamburg, Germany.  According to the film, Hamburg is home to a large web of German intelligence agents, stationed in the city after it had been used as the base for the terrorists who planned the 9/11 attacks.  In charge of the group is Gunter Bachmann (Hoffman) who, it’s implied, messed up a large operation in Beirut and, as part of the fallout, was sequestered to the relative backwater of Hamburg.  Issa is marked instantly as a terror suspect but, instead of picking him up right away, Bachmann’s group trails him with a larger target in mind.  It turns out that Issa has access to a large sum of money from his father, a deceased Russian General, and with the help of a leftist immigration lawyer (McAdams) and a high-profile banker (Dafoe) at the bank where the millions of Euros are stashed, he hopes to access the money.  Bachmann tries to keep other German intelligence agencies, as well as American intelligence (led by Robin Wright), off of his back while he sets up and executes his plan.

As it is a very well thought-out and well-executed thriller, I won’t tell you anymore about the plot other than to say that–as with most thrillers–you’re going to be waiting on the edge of your seat for part of the protagonist’s plan to go wrong.  When it inevitably imploded I did not expect what happened, and the results will almost certainly surprise people who see the movie.

Apparently, the character of Bachmann has a much larger role in the movie than in the book, but you can definitely see why the decision to enhance the role was made.  Like I said earlier, Hoffman’s talents easily anchor the whole film and the way that he immerses himself into a character with little to no back-story is incredible; it’s something for which Hoffman is well known.  I’m not generally one to let outside, real-life occurrences with celebrities color the way that I consume their creations, but it’s impossible not to watch this movie with the pall of his overdose hanging over everything.  Hoffman looks terrible in this film and it’s hard to tell, in retrospect, whether that’s a product of his lifestyle or a choice made by an actor and the director for the aesthetic of the film.  Either way, when you watch the film knowing the way that Hoffman died it adds a perceptible aura of sadness to the whole affair.  Juxtaposing both elements of the story and the way in which Hoffman died there is a dreadful sense of not being in control, and it certainly affected the way I watched the movie.

Also there was, what I perceived as, subtle commentary about the perception of the American intelligence community in the post-Edward Snowden era, especially concerning our spying on Germany, which is well covered in the links in the first paragraph.  There’s a scene in the movie when the American agent (Wright) is meeting with Bachmann and he asks her if she ever questioned herself about why they do what they do.  A wry smile tickles the corner of her mouth and she replies, “To make the world a safer place.”  He can tell that she’s being ironic and playing games with him.  Later in the film, when Bachmann pitches the joint American and German intelligence committees a plan that would not lead to political prisoners or to showcase trials, but would solve the problems in a seemingly final and humane way, Wright asks him what benefit the Americans would get out of it to which he earnestly replies that they’d “make the world a safer place.”

The scene, and indeed the rest of the movie, sketch for the viewer some of the worst perceived traits of the American intelligence community that have come to light in the last year and it also imbues the movie with a welcome reflective quality.  This is a movie that will leave you on the edge of your seat, as well as thinking about pertinent issues of our modern world.  The performances are wonderful and the action is understated in a way that is downright refreshing in a world of continuous two and half hour robot explosion extravaganzas.  If you’re looking for a well-acted film that will thoroughly entertain you, or you just want to bask in one of the last chances we’ll get as an audience to watch one of the best actors of our generation, I can’t recommend A Most Wanted Man enough.

 


Wait, this isn't a Mad Max villain?

Another Sequel, But This Time It’s Mad Max: Fury Road. Is It OK to Be Excited?

Mad MaxWe knew this was coming. It was only a matter of time. Another classic sci-fi/action flick, this time Mad Max, has been remade. Dag-YARM it.

Of course, it’s not being billed as a remake, but as a sequel, so yet another sequel. Does that make it better? Probably not. “Sequel” now means, “no! It’s not a remake or reboot or, or a reimagining! And it’s definitely not a naked money grab based on late-70s, early-80s nostalgia for the coveted Adults 18-49 market! Really, it’s not! It’s a, um, restructuring synergifaction of the original that extends canon into, uh, heretofore unexplored territories. Yeah, that sounds good!”

I sound like a broken record. I know film companies exist to make money. I know that one of the easiest ways to make money is to play with people’s emotions by bringing back something beloved and familiar, with the promise of making it new and exciting. I know all that. But I still want movie studios to leave some things alone. Do you know why? Because they can’t frigging get it right. Too many cooks, too little or too much money, too something whatever—I don’t care why they don’t get it right. They just don’t. Look at Star Wars: Episodes I-III: crap. 2012’s The Thing: so focused on explaining every little thing (ha!) about Carpenter’s that it forgot to think through itself as its own movie. 1998’s Psycho: a frame-for-frame remake that added nothing to Hitchcock’s. 2012’s Total Recall: totally unnecessary, missing the campy goodness of Verhoeven’s 1990 original. Terminator Salvation: a steaming turd that made no sense (Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines was at least fun).

Please don’t think that I’m some Nattering Naybob of Filmic Negativism. I love me some bad movies. It’s just that some movies, especially the cinematic legends, are too good to be futzed with. Yet they always are futzed with, and results almost uniformly stink. In fact, let me know in the comment section of any remakes/prequels/sequels of old-ish movies that equal or surpass the original. (Don’t count stuff like The Godfather I-II, X-Men and X-Men 2, or others that came out in relatively quick succession. We’re talking revivals here.) Maybe Predators? Didn’t take itself too seriously, fun narrative twists while paying homage to the original, Danny Trejo—not too shabby. The new Star Treks?

The worst thing about these re-thingies are the trailers. They’re soooo good, as trailers are wont to be, that against my better judgment I get super-excited. The preview for Terminator Salvation had great fight clips, and even featured a killer (and cryptic if you know the movie’s alternate endings) Nine Inch Nails song. Then the actual movies suck so bad that I sink into a pit of pop culture despair, waiting for the next awesome flick to throw me a rope.

Hold on. I think I had a breakthrough. It’s not necessarily that the past is sacred and the graves should be left undisturbed. Maybe it’s that the dead have never been properly reanimated. If someone could take a fantastic, low-budget favorite like, say, Mad Max, and give it new non-Pet Sematary life…

Wait, this isn't a Mad Max villain?

Wait, this isn’t a Mad Max villain?

Oh, man. Oh man. This looks cool. But so did the other previews! How can I judge this objectively? Ok, so we know it’s a big-budget flick with lots more special effects than 1979’s, most of it CGI. We just have to accept that. Can they keep the world dusty and rusty and dirty and desperate? On one hand we have lots of desert and dust storms and sand-filtered sun, not to mention vehicles that look like mutant Transformer babies. On the other hand, we have suspiciously pretty and well-groomed denizens of a world that fights over clean water and gasoline. To be fair, grade-A actors Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy are so difficult to ugly up that they have to shave Theron entirely and give her weird make-up—and she still looks great!—and go all Bane again on Hardy and clamp something to his face.

As with nearly all revivals, the writers and director feel the need to add to or reinterpret the story. This is going to involve new characters and plot lines. The best we can hope for is that they will at least honor the original, i.e.: no freaking cutesy little kids or Jar Jar Binks. That trailer looks like one giant chase movie with admittedly fantastic crashes/fights/etc, which could be great or just exhausting. Over the top? You just Cirque Du Soleil: Afghanistan with cars gleefully destroying each other, so of course it’s gonna be over the top. Let’s pull for liberal use of long tracking shots and conservative use of flashy lighting, jump cuts, and slo-mo.

Ok, the director: George Miller. His non-documentary movies since 1985? The Witches of Eastwick, Lorenzo’s Oil, Babe: Pig in the City, Happy Feet, and Happy Feet Two. (Deep breath…) So why the HELL is he directing Mad Max 4?!? Because he also directed Mad Max, Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior, and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. (Exhale…)

I’ll try my best not to get excited about Mad Max: Fury Road. Yes, it has great main actors, a seemingly cool and not-too-ambitious storyline, gnarly chase sequences, and the original director. But trailers don’t mean anything. They put all the good stuff in the trailers, right? I can convince myself not to watch this preview a few dozen times because the actual movie is just going to poop all over my expectations, correct? If I’m hoping for anything, please, please let it be rated R.

Follow me on Twitter at @MattShorr


Morning Monologue – July 30, 2014

Late Night with Seth Meyers - Season 1

It’s Wednesday here on Morning Monologue, and you know what that means?  Another great Monologue from late night TV.  This morning, we get the opening monologue from Tuesday night’s Late Night With Seth Meyers, where he talks about OK Cupid, Suspicious Mail and Fat Firemen.

And in exciting Guardians of the Galaxy news, we got an exclusive clip from the movie from star Chris Pratt.

If you didn’t hear, we’re now on Facebook, so be sure to check us out over there!


Food Network Star Season 10 Power Rankings – Final Four

Food Network Star Season 10 Power Rankings – Final Four

Food Network Star

 

There is a point in every reality competition, more specifically cooking ones, where you look at the contestants on the very first day and say, “There’s no way I’m going to l like any of these people by the end of the competition.”  And for the most part, you’re usually right.  But, as the groups get whittled down to the final few, you actually realize that the judges may have gotten it right.  In the case of Food Network Star Season 10, this is the case.  The contestants are starting to come into their own, and the people who just didn’t have what it takes are gone.  From the seven that entered Las Vegas, we are now down to the final four in the last two episodes of the season.  Let’s take a look at the newest Funkhouser Power Rankings.

(Miss the previous power rankings?  Check out Part 1 and Part 2)

Food Network Star Final Four Power Rankings

Luca

1. Luca Della Casa (Previous Rank: #1)

Through the ashes rises the phoenix.  Luca survived Star Salvation for five challenges to come back to the show in true star fashion.  Luca may have had an unfair advantage in Star Salvation, getting a little more mentoring in the challenges, with our girl Damaris and Geoff Zakarian actually being able to coach the contestants during the challenges.  But Luca has been the winner or in the top group for the last three challenges since he returned.  His dreaminess is hypnotizing to Giada, as well as any people that he has to cook for.  Luca is going to be hard to beat, especially since the finale in two episodes is going to a fan vote.

Lenny

2. Lenny McNab (Previous Rank: #2)

Lenny is a tough egg to crack.  There are some days where he is the top dog, and then other days when he makes silly mistakes to put him close to elimination.  In the first Vegas challenge, the judges had absolutely nothing to say to him, other than that he was “the one to beat.”  In the next challenge in Las Vegas, his food was a big miss, along with a very awkward presentation.  This past week, he was in the top two again with Luca.  For anyone that splits their pants, and can still put together a live presentation on Rachel Ray, they better be a challenge winner.  The next challenge, a 30 second promo for his Food Network show, will either win him this competition in the finale, or send him home.  Lenny is in a tough spot.

Sarah

3. Sarah Penrod (Previous Rank #5)

Ever since the gang got to Vegas, Sarah has been up for elimination in two of the three episodes.  She’s not making glaring mistakes, but she entered the competition with one point of view, then changed it to another.  She also is trying to use the fact that she’s a mom in her presentations as well.  It just seems like she doesn’t know which point of view to use at which time, but also when to use which POV at the correct time.  Even if she gets past the promo challenge next Sunday, I just don’t think that America will vote for her in the end.  That’s really all I’ve got on this one…

Nicole

4. Nicole Gaffney (Previous Rank: #6)

Oh Coley… Nicole is an interesting character on this challenge.  When it comes to on camera challenges, she seems to be doing pretty well, especially in the last episode in doing the remote.  But it just seems that when she is doing the cooking challenges, she just doesn’t think for a second.  In Sunday’s episode, Nicole made a great dinner for this family, but put sriracha in a meal for small children.  To no surprise, one of the kids spit out the food live on Rachel Ray’s show.  But, this isnt where Nicole lost me, it was an exchange with her and a former contestant, Reuben on Twitter:

Screen Shot 2014-07-25 at 11.33.25 AM

Look, I don’t know what the conditions are like on the show.  I don’t.  But, In a competition where the vote comes down to the viewers, why would you complain about the competition?  “The Challenges didn’t give us a chance to showcase who we are…”  Are you kidding?  The entire point of this show is for you to get across who you are so that people can vote for you. Think you’re not doing a good job of presenting yourself in a challenge? Figure it out.  Have a point of view that is relatable to people, get that under control before you ever come on the show, then roll with that for the next 11 weeks.  Don’t complain if you didn’t come off as refined as Giada or Rachel Ray on the competition show.  *steps off soap box*… *steps back up on soapbox*  Also, when you lie to potential eaters about what kind of ham you’re using, just be straight forward, then don’t post a half-hearted apology on your blog about how you know the difference between the two types of ham.  *Turns into a teenage high-school girl* I can’t even…


Morning Monologue – July 29, 2014

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It’s a new week-ish (the week starts on Tuesday, right?).  Well, for those of you who are on the second day of your week, Morning Monologue is here to get you through the Turrible Tuesdays (copyright Charles Barkley, 2004).  In this installment, David Letterman talks about Joe Torre in the Hall of Fame and a few installments of “People who don’t use 100% of their brain.”

If you’ve watched a lot of Late Night with Seth Meyers, you will have seen writer Michelle Wolf performing in sketches as Cassandra or Grown Up Annie. But the other night, she got the chance to perform standup on the show, and it was pretty stellar.

If you didn’t hear, we’re now on Facebook, so be sure to check us out over there!


I AM HERCULES!!

I AM HERCULES!!

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Before last Friday I had only ever seen Gravity in 3-D, but when I saw the ridiculous Hercules trailers playing all summer, I knew what my second 3-D would be.  If your expectations are for a serious, and accurately based on historic myth movie, I just don’t know what to tell you.  If, as I believe is warranted, you want a ridiculous plot, with ridiculous action, hammy acting from some seriously good actors, and–most importantly–3-D MUSCLES IN YOUR FACE! then this is the movie for you.

This adaptation is apparently based on a graphic novel, but I didn’t know that going in, so it was a bit of a shock to me when they abandoned the whole “mythology” aspect for a more eerrrrmmmmm “realistic” “political” thriller action movie.  Let’s get this out of the way; the plot is not important… at all.  There’s only a smidgen more plot here than your typical David Lynch movie.  Ostensibly the movie is about Hercules and his merry band of mercenaries.  I don’t remember their names but his band includes Rufus Sewell as the shrewd, wise-cracking guy, Ian McShane as the salty future telling dude, there’s also hot kick-ass chick played by Ingrid Berdal, and Hercules’ cousin who is the bard because, you know, nepotism.

(Spoilers after the break)

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Five Reasons “The Leftovers” is About to Get Left Behind

Five Reasons “The Leftovers” is About to Get Left Behind

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Have you ever found yourself in a relationship with someone you love, but with whom you aren’t IN love? If so, you know exactly how I feel about The Leftovers.

The Leftovers is the new hour-long drama from HBO that focuses on the residents of a small town in New York a few years after two percent of the world’s population suddenly and inexplicably disappeared. The show was born from the minds of Damon Lindelof, best known as an executive producer and show-runner of Lost, and Tom Perrotta, upon whose 2011 novel of the same name the series is based. The show looks and feels like it is destined to be the latest in a long line of critically adored HBO productions, and part of me wants to look it in the eyes and pledge my undying affection. But after watching the first four episodes, I’m having serious reservations about committing to it for the long run. Here’s why:

1. The pace is a disgrace.
Seriously, y’all, this show is slower than a herd of turtles. A lot of hour-long dramas struggle with finding a balance between events that drive the plot forward and extended stretches of wheel-spinning, but it’s probably not a good sign when a decent portion of the first four episodes right out of the gate feel like we’re already knee-deep in mud-stuck territory. I don’t mind a slow build, but GET ON WITH IT ALREADY!

2. The show is not about what I thought it would be about.
As I wrote a few weeks ago, I was excited, but wary, about The Leftovers. Given my track record with shows that center around a mysterious event, I went in with my guard up, determined not to get sucked in only to be left disappointed if the show was cancelled early, leaving the mystery forever unresolved. But I quickly realized the show doesn’t seem to give a squat about ever answering the question of “What happened to all those people who suddenly disappeared?” (A fact that is supported by recent comments from Lindelof in various interviews.) And maybe it shouldn’t. I respect the creators’ right to use that mystery solely as the backdrop upon which to explore the impact such an event would have on the people left behind. In theory, that’s a concept that could work and be profoundly interesting. But I’m not confident that concept is going to work on THIS show. Sadly, I think a large part of the problem is the cast, which outside of the chief of police played by Justin Theroux and the reverend played by Christopher Eccleston, is pretty underwhelming (a fact that is especially disappointing because I originally thought the cast would be one of the show’s strengths). The proceedings are bland enough that even the possibility that Lindelof and Perrotta may strive to answer the mysteries of the show a couple of seasons down the road isn’t enough to hold my interest. I’m to the point where I’d rather wait and read about the big reveal on Wikipedia in a couple of years than have to suffer the drudgery of this show in real time.

 

 

3. HBO’s “action-packed” promos.
At the conclusion of the last two episodes, HBO skipped the traditional “on next week’s episode” previews in favor of “in the weeks ahead” clips. On the surface, this may not seem like cause for concern, but in reality it’s a huge red flag. The clips are filled with a bunch of tense, dramatic moments cobbled together to entice viewers to keep tuning in, because LOOK AT ALL THIS CRAZY STUFF THAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN! And that’s worrisome because it signals that the crazy stuff likely isn’t going to happen any time soon. I’m not sure I can sit through another three or four episodes of watching emotionally crippled townsfolk wrestle with their existential crises. If I had to guess, I’d say the bulk of the action previewed will occur in the last two or three episodes of the season. That’s nothing new; most hour-long dramas these days save the real action for the season’s penultimate and final episodes. The problem is The Leftovers simply hasn’t pulled me in enough to sit around and wait for the action – as pulse pounding as it may ultimately be – to unfurl.

4. Symbolism isn’t effective if you have to explain it.
You know the old saying, “A joke isn’t funny if you have to explain it?” Well, the same applies to symbolism in high-concept dramas. One of the key plot points in last week’s episode involved Theroux’s character trying to track down a missing baby Jesus that someone stole from the town’s Nativity Scene. The religious symbolism associated with this task was so heavy-handed that it actually made me wince a couple of times. Dealing with questions about religion, spirituality and faith in works of pop culture isn’t easy. In fact, few shows or movies in recent memory have done it really well. But if those topics serve as key themes at the core of your show, you better be equipped to address them in a way that doesn’t leave your audience feeling like they are being beaten over the head with clumsy metaphors. Through the first four episodes, there’s not much evidence that the show’s writers are up to that task.

5. “It was all a dream…OR WAS IT?!”
There are several moments in the first four episodes where a character experiences something out of the ordinary and the scenes are presented in such a way that the audience is purposely left wondering if the action depicted on the screen actually happened or if it simply occurred in the character’s mind. I don’t mind the occasional use of this device for storytelling purposes, but I just feel like it’s a crutch that is being leaned on way too heavily in the early going, putting large chunks of the story in question and creating a cast full of unreliable narrators. Am I supposed to watch multiple seasons of a show where there’s a good chance I’ll never know for sure if key events are real or imagined? That sounds like an exhausting – and ultimately unrewarding – exercise. And having watched Lost devolve into whatever it was supposed to be during its final season, I think it’s safe to say I’ve been on this ride before and I’m not dying to take another spin. I’d rather spend the summer watching trashy reality shows like Big Brother where I know everything is fake.

 

 

@TheSEShepherd

 

 


Morning Monologue – July 25, 2014

Morning Monologue – July 25, 2014

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It’s Friday everybody!  Let’s start it off right with today’s Morning Monologue from Late Night With Seth Meyers.  In the bit from last night, Seth tackles a 911 Calling Cat, drugs at a McDonalds, a Brazilian prison, and more!

Also, Jimmy Fallon takes a look at #MyWorstBirthday hashtags from fans.  I mean, these are some pretty bad birthdays, but are they as bad as these?  Enjoy the weekend everybody, see you again on Tuesday for more Morning Monologues!

If you didn’t hear, we’re now on Facebook, so be sure to check us out over there!


ATTENTION LONELY HOUSEWIVES

DO YOU KNOW WHAT TIME IT IS? It’s 50 Shades time!  The moment your loins you have been eagerly anticipating ever since you first picked up the best selling novel is nigh.  Through many trials in casting, it looks like the first installment of 50 Shades of Grey: The Movie is about ready to drop.  So whip yourself into a frenzy for the adventures of Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey (worst character names ever, then again, this is based off of a Twilight fan fiction) and clamp your heines in anticipation because it’s coming to a theater near you ON VALENTINES DAY 2015.  Boom.


Changes to UK Strength Training Schedule (Effective Immediately)

Changes to UK Strength Training Schedule (Effective Immediately)

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From: Ray “Rock” Oliver, Strength Coach
To: Kentucky Men’s Basketball Coaching Staff, Men’s Basketball Team
Re: Changes to Strength Training Schedule (Effective Immediately)

July 24, 2013

Coaching Staff and Players,

As you’re by now probably aware, hot yoga has recently been added to the pre-season regimen. This suggestion recently came to us from former player Randall Cobb, who recommended it as a worthwhile way to strengthen muscle control and elasticity. We’ve done the research and run the numbers and the statistical results seem to be there, so we feel like it is a good addition to the training schedule. This “alternative approach” to strengthening and agility has spurred our staff to look into some other possibilities which we will be adding to the schedule in the near future. These will include:

-Below-Zero Zumba: Combining the muy caliente moves of hip-hop and samba dance with the muscle-tightening physiology of movement in sub-freezing temperatures, this technique will help to replicate the feeling of tensed muscle which continually need loosening. Once the body is trained with a sense memory to continually be in the process of loosening these muscles at all times the body can begin to perform at its most peak level. Parkas will be provided.

-Underwater Jazzercise: A proven fusion of jazz dance and resistance training, each sixty-minute underwater jazzercise session will include intermitten air breaks and waterproof earphones as you both melt away the pounds and create your body into a stronger, leaner machine to the tunes of acclaimed jazzercise musicians The Hugh Price Experience and Quiet Fire.

-Crab soccer: Supporting limber joints and muscles is key to preparing your body for the season ahead, so a round-robin crab soccer tournament will begin on August 7 and continue in a double-elimination fashion in heats until August 29. This is not a place for laughing and horsing around. Horsing around will begin on September 4.

-Horsing around: Tapping into the feral nature of athleticism, we will engage in exercises designed to connect to your spirit horse, a free creature pushing its endurance to the limit as it tames the open fields of your mind. These exercises will both include emulation of and connection to the unbridled horse which lives inside your soul.

-Spinning: Stationary bicycle riding with a weighted flywheel at increasing intervals.

-Spinning: Spinning around in the dark with glowsticks to ambient chill music as you raise your consciousness to the universe and its many unparalleled wonders.

-Respect to Gaia: No strength and agility would be possible at all without blessings from Earth Mother Goddess Gaia, birth giver to the gods of the sea and sky. Awaken your soul with her abundant gifts and drink from the cup of blessings bestowed upon you while you bask in the loving gratitude of the togetherness of earth and her eternal sustainability. Also three sets of squats.

See you in the weight room!

-Rock


The Best Artists and Onlookers of Forecastle Festival

The Best Artists and Onlookers of Forecastle Festival

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The lines were so short. MUCH AMAZE.

The post-music festival blues are real people and I still have not recovered, but here are my thoughts on the music and more importantly, you, the people, of Louisville’s Forecastle Festival.

Closure. This will surely bring closure.

The Peoples:

The generation gap was on full display at Forecastle this past weekend between stages and across genres.

This is true of any music festival because young and old, we’re not all here to see The Dead Phish jam out; no, we’re here to see the three bands we’re big fans of then wander about aimlessly, observing the rest and pretending to know who Britt Daniel is.

The age gap specifically was most evident where else, but at the electronic stages.

While millenials, (a term that’s caught on quicker than manic pixie dream girl) caught dance performances “under the bridge” by Flume, Kygo, Chrome Sparks, Mimosa, and the douchily named, Claude VonStroke, the vast majority of the older crowd caught… anyone else.

Sun Kil Moon vs. Claude VonStroke; Ray Lamontagne vs. Flume; Band of Horses vs. Kygo–different strokes for different folks.

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I saw little to no crowdsurfing at Dwight Yoakam. Shocked.

The accessibility of Forecastle may exacerbate the rather “niche” like atmosphere of the festival more than larger scale, genre-centric fests–your Coachellas, Electric Forests, Newport Folk Fests, on and on and on.

Forecastle and, particularly, its Bonnaroo alum organizers should be praised for both the diversity of its lineup and the absolute ease with which just about anyone with a pulse could attend this festival.

Camping in a mudpit purgatory with no running water for 4 days isn’t for everyone, and neither is dance music; that’s why Forecastle is such a win. Although yes, I saw approximately 23487236782553 Bonnaroo shirts at Forecastle. We get it. You went to Bonnaroo.

Seeing a 70-year old grandmother wearing a “Dwight Yoakam girl” shirt with thumbs on it next to a hula hoop girl dressed as the Little Mermaid makes my heart soar.

Short lines for food, drink, and entrance, short walking distances from stage to stage, somewhat humane porta-potties–these little things make the diversity of Forecastle possible, and thus, explain much of the generation gap I observed throughout the festival.

You may not make the same number of lifelong friends from the foxhole as you would camping at Counterpoint, but you get to see solid music surrounded by relatively clean people.

Now let’s take a look at some of my favorite individuals I had the pleasure of creeping on at 2014′s Forecastle Fest.

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There were some protestors outside the gates of Forecastle, one of whom was shouting into a megaphone as several of his grumpy brethren handed out these lovely cards, which I of course snagged.

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So they were protesting…. everything!

Cannot wait to get my What Would Jesus Destroy bracelet.

On to the Festival itself.

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What can only be described as “Louisville fans” these delightful folk rolled around for an intense makeout session (his shirt was off at one point) during, who else but blues guitarist Gary Clark Jr.’s Friday afternoon set.

A crowd was gathered at a safe distance to watch what can only be described as Bloodhound Gang-esque animalism.

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Harley Davidson belt buckle, leopard print shirt, Nike Shox. Winning.

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As I went down in the river to pray.

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Four Loko sponsored Forecastle, leading to a rash of Four Loko head garb. Unsure whether terrifying anime fairies also sponsored the event–looking into it.

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Booty had me like.

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Colonial general guy looking sharp.

Photo by Michael Powell

Photo by Michael Powell

The squid of the “under the bridge” stage followed me EVERYWHERE.

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The generation/what the hell is this guy doing gap on awkward display. This guy’s dance moves made me wish I had Vine. Kind of. He also had on easily 8+ wristbands, presumably from the various festivals he’s somehow managed to pay for this summer. And attend. Alone.

 

The Music:

– I just have a few comments on the music of Forecastle as I want to avoid going on and on for days, but the #1 performance has to go to the world’s biggest Cubs fan, Jack White. He was one of only 2 artists to have an encore the entire weekend, he went on an extra 30 minutes and even (gasp!) after curfew.

The above video of “Icky Thump” one of the jams he followed the regular show with, and it was incredible. Being a fan of The Dead Weather and The Raconteurs, and obviously The White Stripes, seeing him solo was even more of a ride than I’d imagined.

– Outkast is fun. So much fun. Shocking right? Having seen Big Boi in a chair and all up on his kryptonite at last year’s festival, adding Andre 3000 to the equation was just FSDKJSGHJGHJHGE. Although the most crowded show of Forecastle, the mood of the crowd kept even the most claustrophobic from going into a panic; it was just so…. light? Yea, light.

The best part–when André 3000 brought some ladies on stage to dance and told all the ladies in the crowd not to wear panties ever again.

I’ll take that into considera—-.

Kygo was my favorite dance performance of the festival, and though he wasn’t the headliner of this genre, I loved his set, love his music, love his chill brand of electronica SO MUCH. It is not dubstep, I swear it to you skeptics, and you should check him out.

– On the other hand, Flume’s set felt so complete, almost as if he were his own bass-tastic orchestra simply playing for an hour. The guy transitions between songs more smoothly than any other DJ I’ve ever seen.

Flume collaborates with excellent artists as well. Flume asked “do you guys like Chet Faker?” to a thunderous yes, followed soon after by Lorde’s Tennis Court, which debuted at Coachella earlier this year.

I had front row for this show, and thank the gods I did.

– Merrill Garbus and the ladies of tUne-yArds are legitimate rockstars, and I did NOT know that. We’ve all heard Water Fountains but outside of that, I had no idea what to expect from the “pop” star’s group. Combining elements of experimental rock, folk, rap, electronica, ukulele-ing, the tUne-yArds set was the most diverse of the festival, and one of the most fun. They are weird as HELL.

The Replacements played their entire set with Billie Joe Armstrong, who even kissed frontman Westerberg during “Can’t Hardly Wait.” It was touching.

– I attended the Moon Taxi late show on Saturday, despite having seen them 4 times prior. Worth. It. These jam rockers are some of the happiest performers I’ve ever seen, and it’s freaking infectious. The Nashville natives will be playing Moontower Festival in Lexington/Midway this coming Saturday. I suggest you attend.

I thought I would be somewhat disinterested, but I was not and neither was a crowd of onlookers that felt like it was wandering by, scrounging up food, but was sucked into this set. Those guys still got it.

Beautiful photo by my friend Alex Holt

Perfect photo by Alex Holt

I saw many other great shows including a surprisingly energetic Band of Horses, Gary Clark Jr. (good at guitar), Twenty-One Pilots (do a lot with 2 guys!), Local Natives (love), Spoon (like), Sharon Jones (souly), Dwight Yoakam (kuntry), Nickel Creek (bluegrassy), Jenny Lewis (cutesy) and of course, the loveable nerd that is Beck, but I may be too sad to reflect anymore.

Yes, I’m too sad. I’m also sad I missed Lucius. Listen to some Lucius.

And go to Forecastle in 2015. You won’t regret it.