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An Academic Analysis of ‘Dear Basketball’

An Academic Analysis of ‘Dear Basketball’


Shocking news from the world of the NBA broke late yesterday when Kobe Bryant released an ode to his favorite past time on The Player’s Tribune.  As with any soon-to-be-classic, it is important that we read, inhale, breath out, and inhale again of the contents of Kobe’s soul.  Not his breath, we know what that smells like.

No, what we as a culture must do is take the soul and the spirit and the psyche and the life-force and the pneuma of the words which Kobe hath bestowed upon us, and we must analyze them.  We must try and fit this gift into the cultural and temporal plane in which we, as a species, nation, and individual find ourselves.  We must answer the eternal question: Dear Basketball?


Written in November of 2015, “Dear Basketball” is the best and most well-known example of Bryant’s poetry oeuvre.  The poem was written in a time of great personal strife for Bryant, a period in which he’d lost his best friend, talent.

“But I can’t love you obsessively for much longer.
This season is all I have left to give.
My heart can take the pounding
My mind can handle the grind
But my body knows it’s time to say goodbye.”

With the woes of another crappy Lakers’ season weighing heavy upon his brow, Kobe set pen to paper and composed this masterpiece.

Definitions & Allusions

Line 1. basketball: in this poem, Bryant refers to the sport of basketball as a personification rather than a social construct or sport.  Bryant is quite obviously in love with “basketball,” though it’s unclear as to whether this love is requited or not.

Line 5. game-winning shot: an enigma for most, the “game-winning shot” is that rare success at the end of games of sport in high-pressure situations.  Real world examples are few and far between.

Line 14. the tunnel:  the tunnel clearly alludes to the cycle of life which we all encounter.  As Kobe runs in and out of the tunnel in a perpetual loop, it mimics the circadian rhythm that we, as humans, are subjected to daily.  It… Oh.  This apparently refers to the tunnel at the Staples Center.  Not an allusion, I suppose.

Line 30Laker dream: this is obviously an allusion to the peyote-induced second part of Allen Ginsberg’s poem ‘Howl.’


‘Dear Basketball’ covers two major literary themes, Love and the Unremitting Flow of Time.

The former is perceptible in the metaphors and allusions which Kobe drops like Js throughout the verse.  Lines like:

“I fell in love with you.”


“A love so deep I gave you my all —
From my mind & body
To my spirit & soul.”


“As a six-year-old boy
Deeply in love with you”


“You gave a six-year-old boy his Laker dream
And I’ll always love you for it.”


“Love you always,

hint at Bryant’s love of the personification of the sport of basketball which he invented for himself at an early age.  Bryant doesn’t clearly spell out his obsession though, he builds to it by using classic metaphors like [his dad’s] “tube socks,” “the tunnel,” and “sweat and hurt.”  Through use of these devices Kobe builds up the great love affair of his life and allows us, the reader, to experience this highs and lows of said romance.


The aforementioned “tunnel” is of special interest.  In the third stanza Bryant writes:

“I never saw the end of the tunnel.
I only saw myself
Running out of one.”

Though the “tunnel” of reference is said to be unending, Kobe is able to picture himself running out of it.  This conundrum can only be explained when one realizes that Kobe is clearly alluding to the famous Allegory of the Cave contained within Plato’s Republic.  Kobe, a classical PG or “philosopher-guard,” is saying that he has escaped this all-containing tunnel which he and we find ourselves trapped in.  As a philosopher, Kobe knows that he is closer to a true perception of reality than those of us who are presumably stuck in the this endless tunnel.

Tied inexorably to this love is the theme of Time, its relentlessness, and Endings.  Kobe clearly recognizes the ending of this epic love affair he’s conducted with this personification of Basketball he’s invented.

“But I can’t love you obsessively for much longer.
This season is all I have left to give.
My heart can take the pounding
My mind can handle the grind
But my body knows it’s time to say goodbye.”

His heart pounded, mind ground, it’s time to bid adieu.  Yet, using many #LiteraryDevices, Kobe rounds the flow of time, the ending of his romance, and their mutual longings into form.

“And that’s OK.
I’m ready to let you go.
I want you to know now
So we both can savor every moment we have left together.
The good and the bad.
We have given each other
All that we have.”

Words expressing tender emotion have ne’er been more beautifully rendered.  Mamba covers all the bases here.  Good / Bad, all that we have.  The pentameter in this couplet clearly suggests a longing unfulfilled, yet an unfulfillment, a hole, which Bryant has come to terms with.   This ‘giving’ of this ‘all’ flows cleanly into the classic literary countdown used in such poetic titans as Rocket Ship Launch, Bad Guy with a Bomb, and My Burrito in a Microwave.

“:05 seconds on the clock
Ball in my hands.
5 … 4 … 3 … 2 … 1″

Wondrous.  With numbers falling away as snow from the sky, Kobe / Bryant / Mamba ties his love up with Basketball into a neat little package and gently places the bow.  A piece of literature, so far unparalleled in the history of poems written on November 29th, 2015.  One can naught but gasp with awe at this striking accomplishment.

Also, Kobe is retiring at the end of the season, which means we’ll all have to yell something else during our pick-up basketball heat checks.


How to Deal: Thanksgiving Edition

How to Deal: Thanksgiving Edition

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Hello, friends. You’re looking well. That’s a very interesting costume. You’re a pilgrim, I take it? I love how you fashioned a pilgrim hat out of a bucket and your own belt. Maybe let’s not drink anymore, okay?

Friends, today we celebrate all we have for which we’re thankful. It’s a day of connecting with loved ones, being grateful and enjoying the company of those around us. I hope that’s precisely what you’re doing, but just in case yours is a family where drama sets in upon dinner, your pal Tomlin is happy to help with a troubleshooting guide for the Thanksgiving holiday. Hope this helps. I’m thankful for all of you guys today. Happy Thanksgiving, gang. Just put a bunch of that food in a bag to go for me will you? I’m not staying to eat here. No offense.


THE SITUATION: You want to watch the Wildcats play the South Florida Bulls at the Hoophall Miami Invitational but your family wants to raise Christmas decorations and a tree at your home.

HOW TO DEAL: Don’t make waves. DVR the game on ESPN, stay off social media, and relax later with the game after a great day of spending time with your loved ones in the Christmas spirit. It’s just South Florida. Our chances are good that it won’t be too much of a barnburner.


THE SITUATION: Your Cardinal-loving in-laws are talking some friendly smack about the impending game on Saturday.

HOW TO DEAL: Oh, this classic dilemma; while it’s terribly rude of them to antagonize a UK-loving son-in-law on the holidays, it’s important to remember that drinking a 1.75 of Hennessy and hotboxing a blunt in their 2012 Hyundai Accent will cloud the mind of your aged sixty-something mother- and father-in-law, leading to unfounded and cocksure claims. Laugh it off; there’s no reason to storm out of the tanning salon they own – that’s only going to exacerbate the situation. If you must retaliate, choose rather to just laugh, kiss their daughter on the cheek and remind her parents that you’ve been doing to her for several years what Bobby Petrino is doing now to the sanctity of the Louisville Program. Then pull up a chair to their Thanksgiving party sub, pour yourself a Crown Royal and orange soda and try to make the best of the holiday.


THE SITUATION: Your nephew Miles has chosen, against your advice, to attend a college closer to home rather than branch out and expand his horizons out-of-state.

HOW TO DEAL: Be supportive. Remind him that although winters can be cold in East Lansing, and if he’s cool slumming it against cakewalks like Rutgers and Nebraska, that’s fine by you and you’ll support his decision. Then give him a hug, a handshake, and tell him he’s dead to you. It’s tough love but someday he’ll respect you for it. For added emphasis, pull out a copy of your will (make sure it’s just a copy!) and burn it in the yard as you tell him he’s throwing his future away for a Final Four appearance at best.


THE SITUATION: Everyone is badmouthing your cousin Aaron, who didn’t bother to show up to Thanksgiving dinner.

HOW TO DEAL: Defend your cousin in his absence. It’s not right for your family to speak ill about someone who isn’t present – and besides, it’s not like the Packers play every Thanksgiving. Turn the tables on the perpetrators by pointing out the platinum silver table you’re eating on, the diamond encrusted utensils everyone is using, the rare jade-sculpted chairs everyone is sitting on and the house made of solid gold he bought for your aunt and uncle. Also, remind them that Olivia Munn will be around at Christmas and she’s totally hot.


THE SITUATION: Your uncle insists on inviting his friend and her family to Thanksgiving dinner.

HOW TO DEAL: Try your best to get along with your uncle Andre’s friends – a mother and her two friendly daughters – as if they were part of your own family. Smile and clap along as they sexy-dance on a load-bearing column in the finished basement and tell stories of some of their favorite basketball players. DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES DRINK AFTER THEM. Remember, strangers are just friends you haven’t met yet and who will sometimes have sex with you for money!


THE SITUATION: While everyone was out playing football in the yard, Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings climbed up on the kitchen counter and ate all the Thanksgiving dinner.

HOW TO DEAL: Be firm with Coach Stallings by pointing his face at the mess and telling him he’s been bad. Then make him go out in the yard. He won’t learn anything if you don’t discipline him right away.


THE SITUATION: While attending the UK-Louisville football game on Saturday, your Louisville fan brother-in-law gets drunk and, while shouting expletive-laden Louisville chants and urinating into a large, open sewer grate, teeters on the edge for a moment with no one around to see it.

HOW TO DEAL: No one will ever know what happened. If you can live with it, you know what you have to do. Can you live with it? Okay. We will take this to our grave, do you hear me? OUR GRAVE. This is going to be our secret now. Don’t fall apart on me. You can’t fall apart on me. It’s now or never. We’re bonded together. If you I go down, you go down. This is our thing for life; you got that? Now let’s do this on three.

Five Topics To Discuss This Thanksgiving That Aren’t Politics

Five Topics To Discuss This Thanksgiving That Aren’t Politics


Thanksgiving conversations can be a minefield. When discussing how delicious the sweet potato casserole is, you are only one degree of separation from discussing Donald Trump’s coloring. That can take a nasty turn to his infamous immigration plans. Often, turkey tastes less delicious with a side of heated debate.

Obviously, you can’t change your family. But, the good news is that family is the tool that teaches us that you can love people unconditionally, even when you have different opinions. (Facebook didn’t get this memo.) This season, let’s not test this Family + Different Opinions = Unconditional Love Theory. Here are a few safe dinner conversations to have over Trump potato casserole.

Our Heritage

Something about discussing your ancestry can really get people going. This discussion requires a little homework. The website offers you the opportunity to fall down the wormhole of last name investigation. This website will tell you how many people in the world have your last name.   They will also list the top countries with your last name.

It’s possible that all of the website’s information is unsubstantiated. I would, however, enjoy this discussion more than an awkward conversation about a presidential campaign that is a year away.

“Lord, I hope when I get to Heaven, they have Patti Pie”


You can purchase one of Patti Labelle’s sweet potato pies at Wal-Mart for $3.48. In the video above, James Wright Chanel sings the praises of this dessert. His description of the pie makes it seems like the pie could be sold for much, much more. I need to try this pie.

Careful on this one. Don’t call out your momma for pie not as good as Patti’s. I do, however, strongly encourage you to sing the praises of anyone’s desserts as enthusiastically as Mr. Chanel.

The Beaver Moon

This is a real thing. Apparently the full moon in November is referred to as a Beaver Moon. The Washington Post explains “The name ‘Beaver Moon’ originates from the rodents’ need to set traps before waters freeze over.”

This doesn’t clarify anything for me. Are beavers now setting traps? For tasteful dinner conversation, please ask your eldest family member the meaning behind the term.

Being Grateful Makes Us Healthy

According to this article, taking time to give thanks makes you a healthier person. Thanksgiving can give you a healthier heart, better rest, a more optimistic view and improve your overall health. It is possible, however, that you negate all of these health benefits by the plate that you prepare during dinner. But, as long as you give thanks, I think you’re good.

When All Else Fails

When you have exhausted all other topics, stick to the standards. Last week, SNL pointed out that literally everyone loves Adele. While everyone at the dinner table may have different views about refugees, presidential candidates and more, at the very least you can agree that Adele is fiercely wonderful.

Regardless of the topic of conversation, Thanksgiving is a day for loose fitting pants, grateful hearts and time with those you love.

Rob Lowe and David Spade Talk Tommy Boy on The Late Late Show

Rob Lowe and David Spade Talk Tommy Boy on The Late Late Show


If you’re like me, you’re a huge comedy nerd who loves hearing stories from behind the scenes of your favorite comics and their projects — and, if you’re like me, you’re also a gigantic fan of 1995’s Tommy Boy, one of the precious few ageless classics of 90’s comedy. The great thing about James Corden’s The Late Late Show is that its open format brings stars together to chat with one another, so it might not surprise you to know that Rob Lowe and David Spade appeared on the show Monday night and, eventually, the topic turned to Tommy Boy. Seems the presence of uber-handsome man Rob Lowe caused some friction between Spade and Chris Farley which escalated into a full-blown brawl between the two leads.

(Also, for what it’s worth, I never realized that Rob Lowe isn’t credited in the film at all, pulling a Bruce Willis in Four Rooms.)


ICYMI: The Soup Has Been Canceled

ICYMI: The Soup Has Been Canceled


joel-mchale-soup-hed-2015For the last twenty-two years there’s been no better barometer for the pulse of a week in television than the E! Network’s The Soup, which began in 1991 as Talk Soup and over the years has boasted hosts like Greg Kinnear, Aisha Tyler, John Henson and Hal Sparks. Its most iconic host, however, is inarguably Joel McHale, who has hosted for the last eleven years of its run. The Soup has been a television constant (and, comedically speaking, incredibly consistent — you rarely catch a bad episode of the Soup, if only because its content created such entertaining programming).

All good things must come to an end, however, and the Kardashian Network has chosen to cancel McHale and The Soup, with the last episode airing on December 18th — curiously cutting short the extended contract McHale signed earlier this year which would install him as host until at least 2016.

E!’s official comment on the cancellation is thus: “We are incredibly proud of the long-running success of The Soup. The Soup has delivered countless laughs and unforgettable episodes, and we are grateful to the talented team’s fearless wit and clever approach week after week. Joel took the show to new heights for more than a decade, and his irreverent humor and unique brand of comedy as captured so perfectly on The Soup will be missed.”

Sounds like you really liked it, E!…so why the cancellation? Last Friday’s telecast had McHale ribbing that not enough people watched the program, which I find surprising and unlikely, as The Soup has long been a fairly strong pop cultural staple.

No replacement for The Soup has been announced but, in case you were wondering, today’s E! lineup has Sex and the City reruns from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm, at which point it will air Keeping Up with the Kardashian episodes from 8:00 pm to 11:00 pm.

So. Yeah. There you go. The Soup, we will miss you mightily.  A lot of people probably just lost any reason at all to ever tune to the E! Network. But hey — Sex and the City, amirite?


This Is The Battlefront You Are Looking For

This Is The Battlefront You Are Looking For


For what seems like an eternity, the release of the new Star Wars movie has been flitting around the edges of the pop culture periphery.  Occasionally some news, a teaser, or some other Star Wars tidbit has pushed its way onto the front pages of pop culture news, but overall its been mostly fringe activity.  All of that is over.  Star Wars: The Force Awakens has fully become a major story in the last couple of weeks and will likely be in full blast until its release on December 18.  There have been many different analyses on the latest trailers and Pentatonix (who have seemingly become a staple on my Facebook page lately) performed a Star Wars inspired tribute during the AMAs last Sunday.  As a fan of the film series these have been enjoyable, but what has gotten me most excited for the new movie is Star Wars: Battlefront III.  The latest entry in the Battlefront series was released on November, 17 and I’ve been pretty wrapped up in it for the last week.

There are a lot of things to like about Battlefront, and some things which aren’t so great.  First and foremost, this isn’t Call of Duty or Halo.  The differences are both tangible and intangible.  CoD and Halo are faster paced games where the action is constant and usually localized.  Matches are punctuated by realistic combat sounds with the occasional guitar riff thrown in for good measure.  You are rewarded throughout the game with killstreak rewards or achievement medals which highlight your good play.  Typically the matches are smaller (10v10 or less) and usually feel like a firefight as opposed to a full on battle.

Battlefront is a bit more chaotic.  Most of the maps are pretty large and can be difficult to navigate which leads to a lot of wandering and difficulty establishing a rhythm in non-objective games.  In objective games the size of the maps, and the constant changing locations within them, creates a more fluid “battle” feel as opposed to just a firefight.  Power-up rewards are available to any player on the map regardless of how well they are playing in that particular match.  Add in the sound of blasters and Star Wars music along with playing as rebels or storm troopers and you become immersed in the Star Wars world.  If you pick up Battlefront, it will be a different experience.

I’m going to start the review with the negatives so we can get them out of the way.  Most of the negatives are minor so I won’t elaborate much on them.  Little things like occasionally awful respawn points, an awkward interface for joining up with friends, and lack of a real story mode are small hindrances to an otherwise outstanding game.  The first two issues can be fixed with patches at a later date.  The third issue is really part of a bigger, and far more annoying issue.

The only major issue I have with this game, and others, is the idea of pre-planned downloadable content (DLC).  DLC used to be supplemental material for games.  New maps, sidequests, or other little add-ons would become available a couple of times a year to freshen up a game.  These days games come with an option to buy a season pass or like-named package of future additional content.  No big deal right, except that a season pass costs THE SAME PRICE AS THE ORIGINAL GAME ITSELF!  Seriously, they want me to pay $60 for some content that A) I’m not sure I’ll want and B) I have no idea how much it will add to the game.  Battlefront creators, DICE, made a big deal about not having in-game micro-transactions (monetary purchases to buy better weapons/perks/abillities, etc) and creating the game so that the only way to really advance is to actually play it.  Instead of micro-transactions they are asking people to pay twice as much for content that was already announced but won’t be included in the game.  Battlefront isn’t the first game to do this, and won’t be the last, but this trend of paying the same amount for DLC as I did for the game is getting ridiculous.

With that out of the way we can focus on the important issue at hand, what makes this game so great?  The main answer is something I alluded to earlier, Battlefront provides an immersive experience for Star Wars fans.  The sights and sounds are just incredible.  From the opening Star Wars theme to blasters and lightsabers, the game sounds like Star Wars.  Even the dialogue isn’t completely awful, which is an achievement for most shooters.  In the larger variants the sounds of Imperial walkers and vehicles create an authentic ambiance for the game.  The game also looks beautiful.  World environments are detailed and very lifelike.  Hoth is really bright from all the snow, Tatooine seems desolate, and the forest in Endor is dense enough that it’s actually difficult to see through.  A fourth map, Sullust, is also available to play which provides a new look into the Star Wars universe.  The game looks and sounds like Star Wars and rather than just an imitation.  On top of that, the matches aren’t just one-off firefights, but full on wars between the rebels and Imperial forces.

Objective based game modes such as Walker Assault and Supremacy are large 20v20 matches where the focus of the battle shifts locations as teams try to control points on the map.  There is a good mix of offensive and defensive playing which can be frustrating if your team isn’t on the same page.  When your team is on the same page though, it’s a thing of beauty.  For a smaller scale experience you can play Droid Run, Drop Zone, or Cargo.  Drop Zone and Droid Run play like a king of the hill game while cargo is essentially capture the flag.  Each map is playable for each variant and after each match you switch sides so the game is constantly refreshing itself and prevents the game from becoming monotonous.

There are also quite a few options for non-objective gameplay.  The most basic is Blast, a 10v10 deathmatch style game played to a set number of points.  Fighter Squadron is a bit of a mix of objective and non-objective.  In Fighter Squadron you are a pilot and take part in dog fights taking out A.I. and actual people while occasionally defending or attacking an object.  The Battlefront-specific non-objective variants are Heroes vs. Villains and Hero Hunt.  In Heroes (Luke, Han, Leia) vs. Villains (Vader, Palpatine, Boba Fett), the rebels and imperials are led by their three respective heroes while other players form an army to help them defeat their opponents.  Rounds are over when the opposing teams heroes are defeated.  Heroes rotate each round so other team members get a chance to play as a hero.  Hero Hunt is a variant in which one person is the Hero (could be any of the six aforementioned heroes) taking on seven opposing ground troops.  The player who deals the final blow to the Hero then becomes the Hero and this continues until someone collects 50 kills as the Hero.

While the multiplayer options are varied, the single player/co-op options leave room for improvement.  There is not a story mode to speak of.  This isn’t really surprising simply because its Star Wars, anybody playing already knows the story.  Besides, the cinematic story doesn’t translate well into video game format.  Instead of a story mode, players are given a few options that really play more like training for multiplayer.  Two variants, Battles and Hero Battles, are simply the Blast variant of multiplayer except you go against AI instead of people.  There are challenges to achieve when doing these so you have some incentive.  The other single player/co-op option is Survival, in which you fight waves of increasingly difficult enemies.  These are fun when played with in co-op mode, but by themselves they are fairly tedious.

As you can see there are quite a few variants to choose from in Battlefront.  One of the achievements in this game is that it is a pretty inclusive game.  You can be subpar when it comes to shooters and still enjoy Battlefront.  During the course of any match power-up icons are available to bolster your attack.  These power-ups are just available throughout the game to pick up, they’re not dependent on getting killstreaks or achivements.  For example, there are some killstreak rewards in CoD that require a 20+ killstreak.  I won’t likely achieve that so that is essentially off the table to for to use.  You can be awful at Battlefront and still get to play as a Hero or pilot the Millenium Falcon.  That’s not to say it isn’t competitive.  There is a leveling system which allows you to unlock various things in the game such as new weapons and character faces.  There are even point bonuses for killstreaks, allowing you to level up faster.  Ultimately though, this game was designed for Star Wars fans to enjoy the universe they love.  While there are some things clearly missing (cough, Chewbacca, Yoda, cough) there are still a lot of ways Star Wars fans can take part in the universe and help bring balance to the Force.  If you are a fan of the original trilogy and like a slightly more casual shooter, I highly recommend Star Wars: Battlefront III.

Kentucky’s Own Jordan Smith is Killing It on NBC’s ‘The Voice’

Kentucky’s Own Jordan Smith is Killing It on NBC’s ‘The Voice’



Harlan County’s very own Jordan Smith has taken the country by storm every Monday and Tuesday night since his debut on NBC’s hit show, ‘The Voice’. Jordan wow’d the judges and turned all of their chairs during his blind audition singing the pop ballad, “Chandelier.” The 21-year old was even told by his coach Maroon 5’s Adam Levine that he’s “the most important person that’s been on this show.”

His bio on ‘The Voice’ website describes him perfectly:

“Jordan has a very unique voice – it is so high pitched that he’s often mistaken for a woman on the phone – and as a kid, he dealt with self-esteem issues and always had trouble fitting in. Jordan grew up in a musical family. His father was a professional pianist and his mother is a singer, so making the decision to pursue singing at Lee University, where he performed at the Presidential Inauguration with his choir, was an easy choice. Jordan wants to show people it is okay to be yourself, even if you’re different, on The Voice.”

His most talked about performance- that got a standing ovation and left the judges speechless- was his version of the hymn “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” You can even buy his rendition on iTunes! His talent is really unmatched and tomorrow night is our chance to support him! The live rounds continue with viewers voting to narrow the pack to the Top 10. Jordan is definitely a favorite, but he needs our votes! Be sure to tune in Monday and Tuesday on NBC at 8/7c! Check out all of Jordan’s performances below!

Keep it up Jordan- You’re making Kentucky proud and we are rooting for you!

The Week in Funkhouser

The Week in Funkhouser

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Hours after a whopping McConaughey/Adele double-header (I’ll save you some time: watch Adele, watch Update, fast-forward through most McConaughey sketches until the bizarrely great last one), let’s look back on last week in Funkhouser — a good time all around featuring rappers, rap historians, the Walking Dead backlash and an epic Franklin V. Lorenzen showdown. Time to catch up!

-Kalan Kucera talks with ex-Grantlander and current NYT best-selling author Shea Serrano about the most important rap songs of the last thirty years and his favorite NBA Wildcat.

-The “Listicuffs” semi-finals pair Jared Lorenzen against Drew Franklin for rights to move on to the final rounds.

-Why Megan Suttles is breaking up with The Walking Dead. It’s not her, it’s you.

-As the high-grossing Thanksgiving movie weekend approaches, Richmond Bramblet breaks down historically the top-grossing box office debuts from this time of the year.

-Kalan Kucera sits down with on-the-rise hip-hop Austinites The Outfit, TX on the the regional sounds of the Lone Star State and role of social media in today’s rap game.

Funkhouser: The Interviews

Funkhouser: The Interviews


In case you missed it these past couple of weeks, there were a lot of sweet interviews posted here at Funkhouser.  A comedian / late night host, a NASA Scientist, a New York Times Best-Selling Author, and the best rap group in Texas all sat down with us for words.  Big words, little words, silly words, important words, it’s all there and ready for you to consume.

We hope you enjoy reading them, and keep looking out for all the fun stuff here on Funkhouser!

Dear Walking Dead, I’m Just Not That Into You

Dear Walking Dead, I’m Just Not That Into You

The Walking Dead

I have an important announcement to make. I’m breaking up with The Walking Dead. I feel weird saying that. I’ve loved the show for so long. Originally, it was like nothing I’d ever seen before. It was acceptable violence. Those weren’t people. They were zombies. I could daydream about how long I would survive in that situation. (The answer is: I would most likely be patient zero.) The truth is, a relationship based on violence and hypothetical situations cannot last. It’s not the show. It’s me. I’ve moved on. I’m just not that interested in their story any more. More than likely you have a show that you need to prune from your list. Here’s how you know it’s time to give up, pack up and move on with a show.

When you are distracted and uninterested in the show

This seems like a no-brainer. Obviously, if you aren’t entirely entertained by a show you shouldn’t be watching it.   But old habits die hard. If I am scheduled to watch a show, then I feel as if I must. I’ve invested so much in the show. I’m not ashamed to say I cried when Lori died. I’m not ashamed to say that once, I got grossed out while eating a plate of spaghetti while a zombie feasted on a man’s innards. I’m somewhat entertained by the sheer amount of bandaids Rick has been able to fit on his face this season. I even read a few of the graphic novels.

Recently, however, we don’t have that same spark that we used to. Now, I’d much rather take deep dives into twitter or browse Amazon than pay attention to what is on screen.

This is the first sign that it is time to move on.

When you don’t care about the spoilers

The best relationship advice ever given to me was to think about the other person dating someone else. If thinking about the other person happy, but not with you, was something that didn’t make you sad, but you were totally cool with, then it was time to break up with them.

The same reasoning applies to TV shows. If the thought of having a huge plot point spoiled doesn’t stress you out, then it is time to cut the cord. Crop them out of your one good profile picture and change your status.

The Walking Dead could turn out to be a dream. I’d be totally fine with that. So long as I don’t have to sit through the whole thing with Rick calling his son Cur-uhl.

I’m no longer emotionally attached, so I’m good with whatever spoilers you could sling at me.

When it’s just about removing it from your DVR

No number haunts me more than the DVR storage percentage. That sucker is relentless. While I’m out making a living or God forbid, getting a well-deserved night’s rest, she is compiling more for me to waste my time on. (And yes, the DVR is a she. Like other machinery, i.e. guitars and cars, DVRs are female. They require a lot of attention and if you ignore them long enough they will destroy what is most dear to you. I’m talking about your favorite recordings)

That took a dark turn.

The point is, I take great pride in completing a task. Crossing things off a to-do list makes me feel as if I’ve accomplished something. Even if “what I’ve accomplished” is “sit and watch zombies get their head squashed like a full tick.”

I’m not watching because I’m concerned about Rick & Co. I’m just watching to be a good steward to my DVR. Who does that? What does that say about me? This is clearly the time to say goodbye.


I know someday, The Walking Dead and I will have that “The Breakup Moment.” You know, the end where Jennifer Aniston passes by Vince Vaughn after they have spent some time apart. On a crowded street they look at each other and they know that they shared something special, but that was in the past. They’ve moved on and each is better because of it.

That took a weird turn.

The point is, I’m done with The Walking Dead and if you want to keep watching it, that’s totally cool with me.

The Outfit, TX (from left to right: JayHawk, Dorian, Mel) live at FunFunFun Fest in Austin

‘Down by the Trinity’: The Outfit, TX on Their New Album

The Outfit, TX (from left to right: JayHawk, Dorian, Mel) live at FunFunFun Fest in Austin

The Outfit, TX (from left to right: JayHawk, Dorian, Mel) live at FunFunFun Fest in Austin, TX.

Hip hop has a long history of regionality.  Rap from different places doesn’t sound the same, it has different stylings and touches that make each locality unique.  Think crunk (Memphis / Atlanta), screwed and chopped (Houston), or g-funk (L.A.) and each one brings to mind a region of the country.  With the advent of the internet and modern music consumption, some rap has lost its sense of place, but there are notable exceptions.  None better than a group out of Dallas called The Outfit, TX.  Consisting of Mel, Dorian, and JayHawk, TOTX has cultivated a truly unique and intriguing sound.  They sometimes call it ‘Cooly-Fooly Space Age Funk,’ and they built it from pieces of all the regional influences they’d grown up around that they then took and made their own.

Like Shea Serrano said when I interviewed him earlier this week, TOTX is one of the rising stars of the rap world, and their new album ‘Down by the Trinity’ just dropped today.  You can stream it here (h/t Complex) and after even one listen, I think you’ll agree there’s nothing else like it out there.  With music that sounds straight out of a John Carpenter movie, they lay rhymes overtop that deal with some heavy themes.  Listening to numbers like “Revelations”, “just me”, “Highs & Lows”, or “Flame Emoji” you get the sense (and the right one) that TOTX is thinking about a lot of stuff we tend to avoid.  Race, religion, philosophy, the media landscape, how to get by in a world that doesn’t seem to care much about you, and more.   With the cool way that TOTX handles it all, and the heavy atmospheric beats, they truly are the Snake Plissken of hip-hop; badass dudes who see what’s going on and handle it.

The music speaks for itself, but I had the great opportunity to sit down and speak with Mel, Dorian, and JayHawk about their music and a bunch of other subjects.

(Interview edited for length and clarity.  Some NSFW language below)

Your sound has changed a lot from the first two albums to this one, how do you think your sound has evolved and what influenced that?

Mel:  It’s always been the intent to be fresh with everything we do.  If we ever feel like we’re in the studio and we’re making the same old record, then we just don’t do that.  It’s not like we’re makin’ a million, trillion dollars doin’ this; we’re not doin’ it for the money.  It’s for the sake of actually making the music.

Dorian:  Mel has also started being more involved production wise.  That definitely changed the sound, and for the better.  It’s incorporated more of our personalities into the production.  Early on, I was heavy on the production end.  That’s cool, but at the end of the day you get all one person’s perspective.  You need to add those other things and to make it refreshing for your listener, and for you.  Doing that changes things, so I think that’s a large aspect of it.

Mel:  Plus, we developed as individual members of this band.  Now when he get’s on our nerves, we appreciate it.  Can you drop that beat? Can you do the 808s a little more, that kickin you was doin’.  That’s somethin’ you want to embrace.  We’re just as brotherly.  Same time, he’s knows himself as a rapper, as an artist.  He knows how he likes to feel in order to deliver his art the right way.  It’s development.

What is it about Texas that you think makes our state unique? 

Mel: It’s big!  It’s our storied culture and tradition and experience.  It’s a very specific experience, not like any other place.  The wild wild west, that was mainly Texas.  We been these cowboys, we were the first barons and mother***ers that stood on our own two, and ten step drew, and we carried that all the way to today.  This was the state with the first black cowboys that were economically independent and doin’ their own thing.

JayHawk:  We have this rooted culture, that we’ve always existed as our own thing.  The fact that Texas was a country by itself at one time and then could still be that right now if it had to.

Mel:  We’re diverse too.  You go to Houston or South Texas, it’s different.  More seafood, different slang, different culture period.  You go to North Texas, more chicken, more BBQ, the Cowboys, different culture, different slang, all that.  West Texas, different.  East Texas, it’s almost like Louisiana.  So it’s one of of the few states where you get a trillion different flavors.

JayHawk:  The thing about it is, most people from Texas are third, fourth, fifth generation in Texas.  It’s a deep rooted culture.  We’ve been here, our parents, and so on.  The cultures have been passed down, in a good way.  Certain things in the culture like church, there’s no choice in that.  You went to church, your grandmom is gonna take you to church.  Those certain things may seem minute, but they’re the things that carry on with us, as far as traditions and morals as we go on into our adult life and into the world.  I think that’s what makes Texas unique.


This Week at The Movies – November 18

This Week at The Movies – November 18


As Thanksgiving and Christmas begin to roll around, we start to enter the period of time where big time movies hit the theaters as less people spend time outside.  Other than summer blockbusters, Fall and Winter tends to bring some of the biggest movies to the screen.  Today, we will look back through the years and see what were the top movies debuted in the box office on this week week 5, 10, 20 or 25 years back.

This weekend, “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2” and “The Night Before” look to be the top movies in the theaters.  But let’s hop in the wayback machine and travel back in time.



Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows: Pt. 1 – $169,969,028 Opening Week

What you will find to be a common theme, Harry Potter takes over Thanksgiving Week.  The first chapter of the final chapter of the Harry Potter series debuted in 2010, and had some of the saddest moments in the series.  Still one of my favorite films in the series, despite being a major set-up for the finale.

Without the guidance and protection of their professors, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) begin a mission to destroy the Horcruxes, the sources of Voldemort’s immortality. Though they must rely on one another more than ever, dark forces threaten to tear them apart. Voldemort’s Death Eaters have seized control of the Ministry of Magic and Hogwarts, and they are searching for Harry — even as he and his friends prepare for the ultimate showdown.


The Next Three Days – $9,708,949 Opening Week

I honestly never heard of this movie, but it’s maybe because I was pumped for Pottermania.  Here’s the synopsis of the film:

Life for John and Lara Brennan (Russell Crowe, Elizabeth Banks) is miserable after she is convicted of a murder she says she did not commit. Three years later while struggling with the demands of work and raising his son alone, John is still trying to establish her innocence. When her final appeal is rejected, Lara becomes suicidal, forcing John to exercise the only option he has left: Break her out of prison.


Goblet of Fire

Harry Potter and The Goblet Of Fire – $146,283,069 Opening Week

It’s no surprise that the Harry Potter franchise knew what they were doing in giving these movies Thanksgiving releases.  To be fair, you could have released the movie on any day of the year and it would have made the same amount.  Goblet of Fire has a major competition between three wizarding schools, including one that played home to a future vampire heartthrob, Robert Pattinson.

Walk The Line

Walk The Line – $34,795,769 Opening Week

Despite having to go up the goliath that is Harry Potter, Walk The Line released in this week 10 years ago.  The film had such success that it was the highest grossing biopic ($119,519,402) until 2015’s Straight Outta Compton broke that record.  The movie was highly acclaimed including earning Reese Witherspoon an Academy Award for Best Actress, while the movie won Golden Globes for Best Motion Picture, Best Actor (Joaquin Phoenix) and Best Actress (Witherspoon).



How The Grinch Stole Christmas – $84,977,355 Opening Week

So not every movie that comes out on Thanksgiving week is a winner, as you’ll see with the #2 movie of this week of 2000.  However, I actually like How the Grinch Stole Christmas.  There are a number of quotable moments, Jeffery Tambor can do no wrong in my mind, no matter how much Sabra hummus he eats.  This one has a constant rotation in my house.


Rugrats In Paris ©Paramount Pictures

Rugrats In Paris: The Movie – $30,160,099 Opening Week

I grew up in the Rugrats era, but by this point, I had put Tommy, Phil, Lil, Chucky, Angelica, Reptar, Spike and the rest of the gang behind me. I didn’t even know this was an actual movie, but I’m sure some craziness ensued.  Here’s the synopsis:

In the long-running animated series’ second feature film, the focus is on the show’s perennial second banana, Chuckie (Christine Cavanaugh). Dads Stu (Jack Riley) and Chaz (Michael Bell) are unexpectedly sent to Euro-Reptarland in Paris, where the animatronic dinosaurs they built for the amusement park are malfunctioning, much to the displeasure of manager Coco La Bouche (Susan Sarandon). When the dislikable Coco gets interested in the single Chaz, Chuckie and his friends swing into action.



Goldeneye – $39,094,491 Opening Week

That’s right.  While Spectre debuted last week, Goldeneye came out 20 years ago this week.  I honestly don’t remember the plot of Goldeneye.  However, I do know the entire plot of the Goldeneye video game, which may be one of the greatest multiplayer video games of all time.  No OddJob, Slappers Only…  Also, I know it was 1995, but how did this movie only gross $39 million in its opening week? That just seems nuts.


The American President – $15,209,251 Opening Week

Ah, The American President, AKA – The Movie I confuse with Dave.  The American President is a rom-com by Aaron Sorkin, where Michael Douglas tries to woo Annette Bening, while also trying to pass a crime control bill.  That’s all I know about the movie.  Apparently it got a 90% on Rotten Tomatoes, so maybe it is one worth going back and watching.



Home Alone – $27,299,391 Opening Week

That’s right, it’s been 25 years since the debut of one of the best christmas movies of all time.  Kevin, Marv and Harry had their crazy escapades in the Chicago home 25 years ago and made every child feel like they could singlehandedly take out any burglar who came into their house.  I would love to see how many kids had made schematics of their home on the printer paper where you had to tear off the strips on the side.  Like most christmas movies, you work the quotes into your life, including my favorite, “Buzz… Your Girlfriend… Woof…”  I was actually just talking about this the other day, but the moment that really dates how old this movie is when Kevin ziplines to the tree house and threatens to call the cops.  Oh yeah, you couldn’t do that in 1990, which makes it even better because Kevin had to make all of those traps without the technology we’re afforded today.  Great movie, I’ll probably watch it today.


Rocky V – $19,606,494 Opening Week

Rocky is old and retired and in a not great movie.  Rocky mentors a young Tommy while also having a tumultuous relationship with his son, who is played by Stallone’s actual son.  It’s a movie that happened…


Beat Duke

Beat Duke

Happy Star Wars: Battlefront III day!  I’ll have a full run down of the game next week.  Like many of you, I’m in full hype mode for tonight!   Today got me like:


Go Cats!  Beat Duke!

Listicuffs Episode 5 – Drew Franklin vs Jared Lorenzen

Listicuffs Episode 5 – Drew Franklin vs Jared Lorenzen


It’s Back!  After taking a one week hiatus for the Funkhouser 24-Hour Gaming Marathon, which raised over $2000 for Kentucky Children’s Hospital, Listicuffs is back and we’re in the SemiFinals.  In today’s episode, we see Jared Lorenzen and Drew Franklin battle it out to see who will advance to the tournament finals.  Will Drew make a Kent Bulle swing into the finals, or will Jared continue his quest for another championship ring?  An episode that is sure to stir up some controversy, here Franklin vs Lorenzen:



Shea Serrano & The Rap Year Book

h/t Arturo Torres (

h/t Arturo Torres (

Shea Serrano–writer for Grantland (RIP), former school teacher, proud Houstonian, and the best follow on Twitter–has started something of a revolution.  His latest book, The Rap Year Book: The Most Important Rap Song from Every Year Since 1979, Discussed, Debated, and Deconstructed has become an enormous hit and made the New York Times Best Sellers list through an incredible Twitter campaign.  With prize giveaways, “money bomb” style buying challenges, and some amazing combination of confidence and gusto, Serrano and his FOH Army basically willed the book to incredible heights.  In fact, you can read more about it all from our good friend Josh Corman over at Book Riot.

All of the fun Twitter stuff aside, the book is amazing.  It’s well written, funny, clever, and is a delightful deep dive into the history and evolution of rap.  The various charts and illustrations (by Arturo Torres) add amazing depth to an already incredible read, making each chapter seem more like a rap comic book.  If you haven’t had a chance to read The Rap Year Book yet, I highly recommend you take a look (and help sell out Amazon for the third time).

Because he’s such an awesome dude, Shea agreed to answer a couple of questions I had about his book while driving around Houston (which is not an unstressful thing, I can tell you), check it out below!

How many print runs has the publisher had to do so far?

We’re on the third print run so far. They printed a ton for the third one, more for the third one than the first two combined, which is crazy. (Editors note: Sounds like a fourth run is on the way!)

What’s the most controversial chapter of the book to this point?

I actually haven’t heard too much from people about it yet. I think because of the way they’re presented, it’s more of an argument.  Especially with the rebuttals included with each chapter, I think that people are looking at it and saying, “I get it.”  I thought there would be more, and that the 2012 chapter (“Same Love” by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis) would be it, or 1994 since it’s not a NAS song.

RYB 2012

For a year where there wasn’t a clear winner, did you make a list of songs and then do like pros/cons for each?

Before we started, we had all the years written out (1979-2014), and we came up with 10-15 songs for each year. These were 10-15 that were important, either because they were very successful or artistically important.  Then I summarized each one and why it was important.  Once they were all summarized it became pretty clear once you read the blurbs, that’s how we figured out which was the most important for any of the years.

Who are your favorite, current, TX rappers and which one has the best chance to make the ‘Most Important’ song list in the future?

This group called The Outfit, TX (Editor’s Note and Shameless Personal Plug: I interviewed The Outfit, TX too, watch for it this week) from Dallas and they make this really amazing music that is attractive to me. Their sound is so distinct and unique that if shit lines up on them a lot more people are gonna hear about them.

If there was a contest for like a ‘Rap Scene Championship Belt’, what years did Houston own the belt?

Definitely 2004, because there were several platinum albums by Houston artists that came out that year. You can make a case for 1991 when Geto Boys came out with We Can’t Be Stopped, although I’m not sure I believe it all the way.  There’s an argument for sure, but it’s one you’re probably gonna lose.  Another argument can be made for 1996, with UGK’s Ridin’ Dirty. You’re gonna lose because of Tupac, but they’re in the conversation at least.

What’s the most copies you’ve seen any one person buy so far?

A woman, Jessica, bought 12 copies and she was sending them to other folks on Twitter. Another guy named Billy bought 7 of the e-book and was e-mailing the codes to random people.  It was real cool, so I sent these people original copies of the art as a thank you because that’s ridiculous.

Did you get yourself anything special made when you hit the New York Times Best Sellers List?

No, it was more a feeling of relief when it happened. At first it was a joke, we thought we’d sell 1000 the first week.  So when it started to blow up and turned into a thing, it was crazy because there began to be a real chance [of getting on the Best Sellers list].  When that happened, then there are real expectations, and there’s the chance of looking like a jackass, so when it finally happened in was a huge relief because I don’t have to tell people “I didn’t make it.” Making the list doesn’t happen to a lot of people, so it’s a really cool thing.

Actually, my wife did make me carne guisada that night, which is my favorite dinner.

Who’s your  favorite Kentucky player in the NBA?

Harrison Twins. Andrew Harrison is my favorite UK player of all time, because of the press conference after they lost to Wisconsin.

Where should we watch for your writing?

Watch Twitter.  There will be some basketball stuff in a couple of weeks, but we’re still getting things lined up.

Thanks again to Shea, and make sure to follow him on Twitter: @SheaSerrano.