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What I’m Thankful For: Kids’ Shows that Don’t Suck

What I’m Thankful For: Kids’ Shows that Don’t Suck

KidTV

During the week of Thanksgiving, the Funkhouser family offers up the facets of pop culture for which they’re especially thankful. Today, S.E. Shepherd shares the objects of his cultural gratitude:

When you have little kids in your house, you watch a lot of kids’ shows. If you ever meet a parent who tells you they never let their kids watch TV because they don’t want to spoil their precious little minds or they want to shelter them from crass commercialism as long as possible, they are lying. Every parent lets his or her kids watch TV. Every. Single. One. You know why? Because having little kids is super great, but it’s also hard and frustrating and exhausting and sometimes you just need a minute where you kids aren’t looking at you with eager eyes begging you to entertain them. And guess what? TV is really, really good at entertaining kids for 30 minutes while you slump on the couch and close your eyes and or just stare blankly into the middle distance. There may be no device on this planet that is better at its job than TV is at entertaining kids. Who am I to deny an invention so perfect the opportunity to fulfill its destiny? And if it happens to also give me a few brief moments of respite from the never-ending demands of fatherhood, then I guess that’s a great big bonus for me. If that makes me a bad parent, well, I can live with that.

But there’s a problem with having to watch a lot of kids’ shows: Most kids’ shows are complete garbage. Thomas the Train? Sucks. Dora the Explorer? It sucks. Chuggington? Just a giant steaming pile of suck. Lalaloopsy? OH MY GOD IT SUCKS SO HARD.

That’s why when I come across a show that holds my kids’ attention for 15 minutes and simultaneously doesn’t make me want to kick the TV in with a steel-toed boot, I feel pretty darn thankful. In this season of giving thanks, here are three kids’ shows that don’t suck for which I am eternally grateful:

 

The Octonauts

Octonauts1
The Octonauts is a British cartoon that features the adventures of a group of animals who live underwater in an awesome sea-base and interact with different species of aquatic creatures. There’s Captain Barnacles who’s a polar bear, Peso who’s a penguin and the team’s medic, and Kwazii who’s a badass cat with an eye patch who may or may not have been a pirate before he joined the crew. Not only do they talk with awesome British accents, but also they’re all super smart. I mean, forget the fact that these are animals who somehow can move and talk like little human beings; they are also scientists and marine biologists and cryptozoologists and engineers. They are dedicated to environmental preservation and helping animals that are in trouble. And they build these awesome mechanized vehicles and suits, some of which basically look like smaller, cuter versions of the Jaegers robots the dude from Sons of Anarchy piloted in Pacific Rim. But the best part of all is that each segment/episode ends with the Creature Report, a short song and dance number that summarizes the episode’s plot and teaches kids two or three facts about real animals. Sure, the educational part is great, but beyond that, the tune is a legit club banger. Creature Report is my jam.

 

Little Einsteins

LittleE1
A lot of parents dislike Little Einsteins, and I get that. It’s made for preschoolers and can be a bit repetitive and annoying. There’s a kid on the show who is so easily bowled over by the world around him that you get the impression he’s just hamming it up for the cameras. He’s constantly yelling, “I CAN NOT BELIEVE IT!” And there was a month-long stretch about a year ago where my kid would parrot that expression any time she witnessed anything occur. A bird landed on a fence post? I CANNOT BELIEVE IT! Mommy put a cup of water on her highchair tray? I CANNOT BEILIEVE IT! You get the picture. Imagine a small person who you are around 24 hours a day yelling that at the top of his or her lungs every five minutes. You can see why some people hate this show.

Then you remember that it exposes kids to classical music and famous works of art, and it actually encourages kids to move and talk and interact with the characters on the show. Think about the shows you watched as a kid. Did the freakin’ Snorks ever teach you about classical music? Did any of your precious “I’m a 90s kid so I love Nickelodeon” shows ever expose you to the work of some of the greatest musical and artistic minds of all time? I didn’t think so. The Little Einsteins – Leo, Annie, June and Quincy – travel around the world (and seemingly through space and time?) in a rocket ship called Rocket that is basically a flying Swiss Army Knife. They play instruments, appreciate art and are nice to animals. Trust me, there are a lot worse lessons to shove down your kids’ throats while you’re trying to take a 20-minute nap on the floor.

 

The Three Stooges

Stooges1
This technically isn’t a kids’ show, but my kid loves it so that’s good enough for me. Sure, there’s the occasional racist caricature that makes me cringe and fumble for the fast forward button, and every viewing has to be proceeded with a reminder that this is just pretend and that we never, ever hit each other in the face with a cast iron pan. But I promise you this: You’ve never heard more genuine laughter than when a three-year-old watches a wall-mounted ironing board bonk Larry on the head or when Moe jabs his fingers knuckle-deep into Curly’s eye sockets. The belly laughs those three doofuses* cajole from my kid are what true delight sounds like. And for that, I’m thankful.

 

*I don’t count Schemp. I know he was one of the originals, but I like my Stooges one way and one way only, and that’s with a heaping helping of Curly. Get out of here with Schemp.

 

@TheSEShepherd

 

 


The First Thanksgiving

The First Thanksgiving

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first-thanksgiving

(Ed. Note: It’s very easy, at this hectic time of year, to get caught up in our own lives and forget the things which really matter. So if I may share a family tradition of my own today, I’d like to suggest you take the time at your family’s table this holiday, share the following story of The First Thanksgiving and make it a family tradition in your own home. -Cheers, CMT)

In the year 1621, a group of 101 passengers fleeing the religious persecution of the Church England boarded a ship called the Mayflower and set sail to find their own new land in which to settle and reside. The wooden ship sailed, scholars believe, for sixty-six days before landing on the coast of a new and “undiscovered” country, which the Englishmen and women — who called themselves “pilgrims” — would decide to call home.

As the seasons passed and the air grew colder and brisker signaling autumn was on the way, these pilgrims began to secure the supplies they would need to survive to harsh winter to come. They worked hard to grow corn on the vast land and pull fish from the ocean; they chopped wood they would need for fires and cured meat to be used when food sources would soon become scarce.

One crisp autumn day the pilgrims were delighting themselves in their chores when a group of visitors arrived at their settlement. These visitors were the Kentucky Wildcats, led by head coach John Calipari and his coaching staff, and they could see the pilgrims were unprepared for what was to come. “Let us help you,” said John Calipari, and the pilgrims were grateful for the assistance.

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The Kentucky Wildcats then took the pilgrims to an open field near the settlement and began to throw a rounded gourd back and forth to one another. “Come, try to take this from us,” Alex Poythress said, and a pilgrim man ran to him and tried to take his gourd from him. But Alex Poythress was too fast, and quickly threw the gourd to Aaron Harrison, who tossed the gourd into a hole in a tree, even though there was a very tall pilgrim right in front of him.

The settlers did their best to contain the Kentucky Wildcats but a dual-platoon system with extra substitutes proved too much for them to handle. The pilgrims tried hard but, being new to this country, had no recourse for a solid NBA-style pick-and-roll and strong shooting from the perimeter. Height was also a major problem, as evidenced by the following journal entry by a settler named Edward Fuller:
     These giants both surprised us and frightened us with their swift movements. 
     My beloved wife Mary was thrilled although fearful when Karl-Anthony Towns swatted a

     butternut squash directly into my face, causing me and
     my family sadness and great humility.
The pilgrims would lose The First Thanksgiving 87-19, held to only 7 points in the second half, and ultimately feel grateful that the competition would strengthen them in the days to come. The initial shock on the faces of the children would turn to delight as everyone watching in attendance scored a free taco and the dance team displayed exquisite movements to the day’s hottest rap hits.

The_First_Thanksgiving_cph.3g04961

“We must repay you for what you have shown and taught us here today,” the pilgrims told John Calipari. “Someday we will initiate a three-tiered system of competition with scholarships, though not too many scholarships, which will culminate in a tournament rewarding the strongest with an opportunity to be the greatest in all the land.” And John Calipari thought that sounded like a great idea, and then the Kentucky Wildcats were like “Also, here’s some food for you guys” and gave them some corn and roasted meat and sweet fruits for the children. Then a group of energetic young people with jump ropes arrived to put on a show of entertainment as everyone ate their food and Dorothy Bradford, wife of William Bradford of Cambridgeshire, got to be the “Y.” A good time was had by all and Seth Davis said he didn’t know if any Thanksgiving would be better than the First Thanksgiving that year, to which Clark Kellogg was all “you’re right about that” and he doesn’t even like the Kentucky Wildcats.

Afterward, John Calipari would tell everyone that the pilgrims deserved credit for getting out there and playing hard and that he was really impressed with their level of play, even though he probably was just saying it to be nice. The post-First-Thanksgiving epistle-writing show had very high ratings and the pilgrims would go to sleep that night with their hats unbuckled and their bellies full of kindness and food. As the abbreviated, choked howls of the Kentucky Wildcats dunking on wolves peppered the crisp night wind outside, the safe pilgrims vowed to recall this day every autumn and appreciate the blessings bestowed upon them. And that’s what we, today, call Thanksgiving.

 


What I’m Thankful For: The Two-Part Film

What I’m Thankful For: The Two-Part Film

the-hunger-games-mockingjay-part-1

During the week of Thanksgiving, the Funkhouser family offers up the facets of pop culture for which they’re especially thankful. Today, Brennan English shares the object of her cultural gratitude: the two-part film derived from an original source material. Sorry, Kill Bill.

It’s Thanksgiving here at Funkhouser and presumably, in your home as well.  And what’s Thanksgiving without a little conflict? I’ve already had a Ferguson argument. In a Corbin gas station. Corbin.

I’ve read a wealth of articles (more like three) about the horrors of the rise of the multi-part film, typically, a film based on one book that has been made into two (or three!) full-length movies.

Filmmakers get to pull a Scorsese, neglecting to edit their film to a manageable length, whilst droves of Twihards and Potterheads get to dress up two more times before their fantasy worlds come crashing down.

Like the rise and the semi-fall of the 3D film, I, as a brilliant consumer know what’s happening here. I took micro AND macro in college.

“Twice the money!? Make one long film and split it into two parts based on one piece of source material that has a loyal and embedded fanbase?! GENIUS.”

But today is a day to be thankful, and I’m here to play devil’s advocate and say that I’m damn thankful I got to see half of a movie at Cinemark Movies 10 , Tuesday. What I am not thankful for–that woman who burped, cursed, and talked throughout the film. BURPED. It truly offended my delicate sensibilities.

Once I got it together to leave the theater after the tumult of burps and the effect of the film, Mockingjay (PART ONE), I couldn’t help but thank the J Law gods I get to pay to come back and do it all over again next year.

Why? Because as a fangirl, you just don’t want it to end, and there’s something satisfying about delayed gratification. Occasionally. We get one more year in which Tumblr or paltry releases on PotterWorld won’t be our only sustenance because.. another film is coming! Get ready for teaser trailers!!

Of course the other, major reason that I love the two-parter is the potential for “extra”, quality filmmaking and acting. Like a fine wine, YA actors improve with age.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I

I was naturally an absolute Potter fiend in my youth, putting together the quadrillion piece Lego Potter castle one Christmas break led to several tearful breakdowns–“Where is that piece!? I’ve been looking for two hours–they are ALL TAN.”

So the end of the Potter series in 2011 was kind of the end of my childhood. No big deal. But more than that, I’d never even really liked the films because as someone who’d read the books again and again until my eyes bled, they always had to leave out so many important plot points. Not this time!!

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 was perhaps dull to casual fans as the grownup n’ sexy n’ better at acting Harry, Ron, and Hermione, wandered through dreary England and argued for the duration of the film; yet it was my favorite in the entire series as it captured the essence of that last book like no other film had. It was plodding and depressing and hopeless and perfect.

Then we got a second film that was not only angst-ridden, but filled with nonstop action and slaying. The entire movie was a climax! In a nonsexual way that wrapped up seven book series! #Blessed

I can’t speak to the Twilight fans because I haven’t seen the Twilight movies, but I’m sure I would have been thankful for them too.

Now Mockingjay Part One has arrived, and seen the lowest debut of any film in the series, but the highest debut for any film of 2014 (suck it Michael Bay) so what’s going on here? Do consumers truly not want to pay twice to see one super long movie? Or are parents afraid their children will take naked pictures (they probably will).

Combine these factors with the fact that Mockingjay was the worst book in the series (Suzanne Collins is more adept at writing about actual Hunger Games), and you may have your answer.

THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG
I’m not in this book…and why are my eyes this unnatural hue?

There is a saturation effect with a series for an ordinary fan, and no film has exemplified this like The Hobbit. This post wasn’t about being thankful for three-part films, after all.

A short book with dwarves walking, finding treasure, having a small battle, and eventually killing a dragon, has been dragged out into three terrible films with dozens of characters that weren’t even in the bleeping YA book. The Hobbit is a YA book guyz. We all read it because it was easier than tackling the trilogy. No shame.

So I am not thankful for you in 2014, Peter Jackson, nor your three boring ass movies.

But Mockingjay Part One? A gorgeous film that I will undoubtedly watch again and again, bringing out the high points of a rather so so book, and creating something even better, an accessible social commentary on war, government, propaganda, and the media. And we get a chance to see an absolutely absurd assemblage of talent do it all over again in Part Two, the movie with all of the fighting.

And I’m very thankful. Let’s just be thankful for once. Happy Thanksgiving.

 


Happy Thanksgiving From Funkhouser and Adam Sandler

There really are only four things you need to make sure your Thanksgiving is complete:

1. Turkey. And lots of it.

2. Football. Doesn’t matter if the games are good. Just throw two random teams on a flat patch of dirt, give ‘em a ball and point a camera at it.

3. Booze. Like you’re going to be SOBER when you try to explain to your relatives why you’re still single?! HAHA! Yeah, right. Drink up, dummy.

4. Adam Sandler’s Thanksgiving Song. It ain’t Thanksgiving without the Sandman. So sit on the couch, pop a couple handfuls of Tums, and push play on the greatest holiday song ever composed.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!


What I’m Thankful For: TV on the Internet, and Sriracha

What I’m Thankful For: TV on the Internet, and Sriracha

During the week of Thanksgiving, the Funkhouser family offers up the facets of pop culture for which they’re especially thankful. Today, Matt Shorr shares the objects of his cultural gratitude: 

Thank YouI am thankful that my wife got me into watching Game of Thrones. I am thankful that she read A Song of Ice and Fire beforehand so that she can fill me in on the details of the 18 different storylines, like who is related to whom, and who wants to kill whom and why. I am not thankful that I knew a single thing about “The Red Wedding” before watching the episode (thanks, internet). I am thankful that an author has the stones, or maybe just the dedication to realism, to admit that the good guys don’t always win. In fact, they often lose in brutal fashion. I am thankful that Season 5 is supposed to start in Spring 2014. (I am also thankful that she got me to start watching The League. What a great way to waste 22-ish minutes at a time! Next up: Eastbound and Down? I’m a little behind the cultural curve.)

I am thankful that my sister convinced me to watch Sherlock. Not that Game of Thrones can’t be cerebral, what with all the gaming of thrones and attempting to keep characters straight, but it’s awfully heavy on the blood and sex. Nothing wrong with that. If you really want something to jolt your brain into functioning, though, Sherlock is one of the best-written shows you’ll ever watch. It is brilliant, clever, engaging, and British enough to warrant a second-viewing to catch the stuff you missed the first time because the dialog is all fast and British-y. Yeah, each season consists of just three 90-minute episodes, so the writers and director and actors have time to get everything perfect. So what? Maybe American TV should take notes. I am thankful that Season 4 starts in December 2015. I am sad that is not December 2014 instead.

I am thankful that I haven’t seen Orange Is the New Black or House of Cards yet. They can’t be as good as everyone says. They just can’t be. Once I start them, I’ll binge watch until 2am for weeks straight and that will lead to finally watching The Wire and re-watching all The Sopranos and then all episodes of The Simpsons and it will start to affect my social and occupational functioning, and then I’ll officially be an addict and my family will disown me and I will wear out all my pajama pants and I’ll end up sleeping on a couch frame with no cushions. Thanks, Netflix.

It’s not TV, but I am thankful that Christopher Nolan is still making movies. Although fellow ‘Houser Kalan didn’t care too much for Interstellar, other cinephile friends have told me that it is one of the best movies they’ve ever seen. I am thankful that a movie can still spark that sort of discussion. I will see it this weekend, and not get my hopes up so that they can’t be crushed. Mr. Nolan, please don’t ever stop making films.

I am thankful for spicy foods, and sauces that make not spicy foods spicy. Garlic Power, Cholula, Franks, wasabi (a different kind of burn, man), Sriracha Chipsbut especially Sriracha. I’ve been on the Sriracha train for a lotta years now, so get off my back. I was eating Sriracha on cottage cheese long before Lays was selling it and every other flavor of chip to foodies. Next time you’re in Lex looking for a good, hot bite, try the Sriracha-lime wings at County Club on Jefferson. (Please, please tell me in the comments section where to get other good spicy dishes. Curry, ghost, habanero, Buffalo, whatever. DON’T HOLD OUT ON ME!)

I’m kinda thankful that Kentucky doesn’t have a professional sports team. It keeps UK basketball front and center, where it should be. The fervor, the intensity, the insane dedication of BBN—what other fan base has hundreds of fans fly to freakin’ Maui for an early season tournament? What other team inspires thousands to take a full day of travel time to New Orleans and back nearly every year?   Would an NBA team generate that much devotion? More importantly, would a pro team take time and energy away from our beloved Cats? Probably not, but why chance it? Besides, any pro team is going to Louisville.

We, and I, have a lot to be thankful for. To you and yours, have a happy and safe Thanksgiving from all of us here at Funkhouser and KSR.

Follow me on Twitter at @MattShorr


What I’m Thankful For: “Serial,” the Mainstreaming of Podcasting, and the Re-invention of NPR

What I’m Thankful For: “Serial,” the Mainstreaming of Podcasting, and the Re-invention of NPR

serial-itunes-logo2

During the week of Thanksgiving, the Funkhouser family offers up the facets of pop culture for which they’re especially thankful. Today, C.M. Tomlin shares the object of his cultural gratitude:

There have really only been, up until now, two types of people in the world: those who listen to podcasts and those who, despite all coaxing and prompting, have no interest in listening to podcasts whatsoever. There are no people walking around in our society thinking to themselves “I really want to get into listening to podcasts; I’m going to do that at some point.” People who listen to podcasts love them — and people who do not listen to podcasts have no interest in it, because they haven’t ever really delved into it, and don’t think it’s going to be something they’d get into. A lot of people out there don’t really understand that the podcasting landscape is becoming increasingly like the television landscape — there’s a lot out there, a lot of it’s terrible, and some of it becomes “appointment listening” to you, depending on your interests.

In case you haven’t noticed, NPR’s Serial has changed that. Let me get you up to speed, in case you are old and/or don’t follow media whatsoever: in the beginning of October, This American Life regular Sarah Koenig began telling the story of a high school student named Adnan Syed. Syed has been in a maximum security prison in Maryland for the last seventeen or so years after being convicted of killing his ex-girlfriend, a Korean girl named Hae Min Lee, and burying her in a shallow grave in a Baltimore park.

I’m not going to keep telling you about the story of Serial, suffice to say that as Koenig investigates the circumstances around the day of Hae Min Lee’s death she unravels a twisting, turning story full of red herrings, odd characters and gigantic holes in the case. Also, you should totally be listening to it. It’s absolutely riveting and amazing and Koenig’s reporting is so affable and accessible that Serial sounds just as much like sitting at a dinner party with Koenig, hearing her relay the wild tale to you herself. You should listen to it because it’s excellent.

You should also listen to Serial because it will go down in media history as the first “big” podcast of all time. It will be the exact marker and moment where podcasting “arrived” as a medium. It doesn’t matter that it’s been around for a while now, and that there are thousands of podcasts. Serial will be the one remembered as putting podcasting on the map.

Serial has fascinated millions across the nation; it’s watercooler talk and dinner party conversation gold. It also, in a comical way, has created a subculture of people who would like you to believe that they are among the pioneering wave of people who have discovered the greatness of podcasts. Suddenly there’s a new swath of people going on and on about how great podcasts are (in this case, specifically Serial) because it’s their new “thing.”

For regular podcast listeners this is akin to hearing someone go on and on about a great new band that you’ve been listening to for a long time already. But that’s fine; this is a good thing — NPR has both found a way to keep themselves incredibly relevant but found the very vehicle that would keep them alive. NPR just, in essentially one single big idea, found a way to stay alive in the drowning waters of terrestrial AM radio. It’s wonderful for them and exactly what they needed and I love NPR and I couldn’t be happier. Ira Glass and Robert Siegel should be clinking champagne glasses and celebrating a bright future, because this avenue is not only perfect for NPR but, now, everyone knows they do it well.

I’m thankful that Serial exists not because it’s a great podcast but because it’s a rare moment in culture where something big begins — it heralds an age of podcasting that likely will continue in a big way. It’s also become a saving angel for one of the most credible media organizations in the free world, and that’s fantastic for them. NPR took a fledgling medium, found an amazing way to use it, and are reaping the rewards. You know they’re thankful for Serial’s success, and it creates a limitless ceiling for podcasting’s future.

Also, seriously, I’m telling you, just listen to it. It’s really, really good. Really good. And really I’m thankful for it. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

 

 

 

 

 


What I’m Thankful For: On-Screen Inebriates

What I’m Thankful For: On-Screen Inebriates

Drunk-Uncle

During the week of Thanksgiving, the Funkhouser family offers up the facets of pop culture for which they’re especially thankful. Today, Kalan shares the object of his cultural gratitude:

Can you smell it in the air?  It’s Thanksgiving week, tell-tale signs of which include:

  • An increase in car-jackings by angry turkeys out for revenge
  • Sad vegans attempting to rationalize bags of stuffing at Wal-mart Whole Foods
  • News Alerts showing alarming levels of cranberry in the air

and, most importantly,

  • You’re surrounded by family members you barely remember or know, some of whom–let’s face it–are bizarre and untrustworthy creatures.

That covers quite a few of you, huh?  There are several methods for dealing with the awkwardness of family gatherings.  You can go out and play sports with your more well-adjusted cousins.  You can eat so much turkey that you sleep through the entire thing in a haze of Tryptophan fever.  You could find your spirit animal and slide.

Honestly, though, there is only one fool-proof method to handling such an intense, dense helping of family.  The tried and true method of drinking.  A lot.  A whole, whole lot.

This Thanksgiving, I want to give thanks and pay tribute to the best examples of debauched madness on the screen.  Characters in TV shows, moments in movies; the Bacchanalian clips show us that, whether good or bad, drinking is a solution.  Without further ado, here are my five favorite On-Screen Inebriates:

h/t fansided.com

h/t fansided.com

1.  Don Draper

A true drinker of the olden days.  Don is never caught without a pour of J&B or an Old Fashioned in his hand, a part of him as much as that disarming, dashing smile, that razor sharp wit, and that giant Dick… Whitman identity complex thing.  Just like all of the beer ads you see, Don (right up until probably Season 5) makes drinking look good and looks good doing it.  If the lunches of Mad Men were in Washington today, there’d be a whole lot more camaraderie!  Undoubtedly,  Don’s the person on this list I’d most like to drink with.

h/t thebump.com

h/t thebump.com

2.  Tyrion Lannister

Poor Tyrion Lannister was born somewhat “deformed.”  His sister wants to kill him and his father has always hated him for “killing” his mother by being born.  Everyone calls Tyrion ‘Imp’ and he had his nose cut off in the only battle he was forced to lead.  After which he was stripped of his title and basically spit on by the masses.  I’ll bet Lannister Thanksgivings are super awkward.

It’s easy to see why the guy drinks!

What makes Tyrion such a delight is how happy a drunk he is, how witty!  He’s generally the cleverest guy in the room and he always takes the jabs and jibes thrown his way and turns them into a joke of which he is part (a la Roseanne).  Tyrion and wine (and ladies of the night) go together like peas and carrots.  He’s the person on this list I’d most like to drink with.

3.  The Dude

The Dude Abides.  He’s also the person on this list I’d most like to drink with.

4.  Everyone Everywhere in Beer Fest

Not only have they trained for a year in order to compete with the Germans, they are drinking the most delicious beer in the universe.  That sounds like a wonderful way to spend the holidays!  Just watching that movie, the training montages, the competition, puts a smell of hops and malt into your nostrils.  It’s also the most patriotic group on the list, representing the USA as the bonafide drinking nation that it is!   They’re the people on this list I’d most like to drink with, no doubt.

5.  Merry & Pippin in The Lord of the Rings

Everyone, sing along!!

via lyricsmode.com  

Hey, ho, to the bottle I go,
To heal my heart and drown my woe!
Rain may fall and wind may blow,
But there still beeeeee many miles to go!

Sweet is the sound of the pouring rain,
And stream that falls from hill to plain!
Better than rain or rippling brook,
Is a mug of beer inside this Took!

Strange and dark is the world outside,
But in the pub we’ve naught to hide!
With lots of ale, and barley wine,
This evenin’ is surpassin’ fine!

Harvest’s in and cold without,
An’ hobbits strong are hobbits stout!
Naught to fear, and naught to think,
For hobbits nowwww have ale to drink!

[Chorus:]

The Shire lays right down to sleep,
In slumber long and slumber deep!
Hushed be hobbit lass and lad,
With faces plump and faces glad!

A land of peace and a hobbit hole
And in a pouch a pipeweed roll!
Never falter, never fear,
For the Shire will always be here!”

They’re also the Hobbits on this list I’d most like to drink with.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!!!


The Walking Dead: ‘Crossed’

The Walking Dead: ‘Crossed’

IMG_0281

Good morning friends and fellow Walking Dead aficionados!  I was writing this recap last night when I realized that I had seen a prophecy enacted.  It’s not only me though, you too have seen this very prophecy.

Now, some people might say, “this isn’t a prophecy, you’re just just using something that happens to vaguely line up with the plot.  I mean, not even that really.”  To those people I say, Shut Up.  You.  You’re.  It’s.  Just Shhh.

Because we–you and I reader–we know.  We, the humble, lowly masses, might not have realized what we saw but after last night’s episode it’s clear that we had been spoken to.  I mean really spoken to.  We assumed that The Walking Dead had, again (and again!), lost what was a fast moving story line to go backwards, to revisit tired themes and locals.  Listen, though, to the words of the prophet:

Amigos, if that isn’t the most apt description of the plot of The Walking Dead, I don’t know what is!

We’ve moved back, and back, and back and here we are in Atlanta again.  Certainly the circumstances are different, but like the prophet says, (cooly sips on a Lone Star while starin’ off into the infinite star lit cosmos) sometimes you gotta go back, to actually move forward.  To the ‘Cap!

PS.  Thanks as always to my 3-5 #BBWD buddies (Dave Scott, Nick Nafpliotis, and Tara)!  You guys are doing great work!  If you want to get in on the fun, just tweet during next week’s season finale with that hashtag and we can all discuss what happens together in the Recap!

(PSS.  I’ll be on the road next weekend, starin’ down Ol’ Cyrus.  Unfortunately, this is going to delay next week’s Recap until late Monday night or Tuesday morning, probably.  I’ll update on Twitter later in the week as to the exact time!)

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Hacking for Dummies: The Funniest Computer Hacking Movie Moments of the 80s and 90s

(Warning: The videos in this post contain language that’s NSFW unless your boss is a big fan of movies from the 80s and 90s that featured computers and swear words.)

Look, I’m going to be really honest with you right now. I have never hacked a computer. Not once. Not to change my friends’ grades after bombing a test in high school. Not in a covert attempt to access secret government files. Not even to upload a virus into the central nervous system of a strange race of alien beings hell-bent on destroying mankind. And the reason I admit that fact to you here, on the internet, is to tell you that, although I’ve never personally participated in the hacking of any sort of electronic system or device, I’m pretty confident that no movie ever made has portrayed computer hacking accurately. This 90s Computer Hacking Supercut by the team over at FoundItemClothing does a pretty great job of collecting some of the worst offenders for your viewing pleasure.

There are some real gems here, including Jean-Claude Van Damme getting the digital finger in Universal Soldier: The Return, Keanu Reeves navigating the world of virtual reality to manipulate some weird triangle puzzle in Johnny Mnemonic, a young Angelina Jolie calling in the killshot to her group of electronic troublemakers in Hackers, and, of course, multiple appearances by the best/worst tech movie of all time, The Lawnmower Man. I’m sure real computer hacking isn’t very visually exciting, so it makes sense that filmmakers have spent the last several decades trying to find an entertaining way to depict digital maneuvering onscreen. But, man, do they really make it look silly and ridiculous.

If watching actors furrow their brows at compeer screens and randomly slap their hands against keyboards is your cup of tea, here’s more Hollywood hacking goodness, this time courtesy of some of the greatest movies of 1980s (the highlight of which is Weird Science‘s Wyatt and Gary using the “Crypto-Smasher v 3.10″ to hack into the local power grid):

Personally, I can’t wait for the 2000s hacking super cut, if only because it will contain what might be the most ridiculous scene in movie history – Hugh Jackman’s hacking montage in 2001’s Swordfish (seriously, has anyone ever looked more absurd while pretending to type?!):

 

@TheSEShepherd

 

 


The Babadook Review — You Can’t Get Rid of Him

The Babadook Review — You Can’t Get Rid of Him

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Babadook DOOK DOOOOOOK.

HELL. NAW.

After watching The Babadook with your significant other or friend (friendzone), you will undoubtedly be screeching BABADOOK in a loud and guttural voice that will terrorize those who have seen the film, and annoy those who haven’t. It sounds quite similar to the woman in the smoking cessation commercial. You know the one I’m talking about.

So have fun with that!

It’s no longer October, but I suggest that you make time for a new Thanksgiving tradition in your family as November 28, the Australian indie horror flick is finally available on VOD. The long wait is over!!

I got a special screening (courtesy of myself), and the film defied even my overly inflated expectations.

The story centers around a widower of seven years, Amelia, struggling to raise her troubled young son, Samuel, very much on her own.

Young, pallid, somewhat cute Samuel has an overly active imagination, checking in the closet and bed every night for monsters and taking advanced homemade weaponry to school to use against them, of which school officials are not particularly fond. (The weapons and Samuel that is.) His proclivity for violence and temper tantrums leads to young Samuel’s indefinite suspension from school while Amelia tries to figure out what to do with him.

A caretaker in a nursing home, Amelia is #foreveralone and forever taking care of someone other than herself, and with only her sister still willing to talk to her and Samuel (but not come to her creepy, giant old house); Amelia’s life is not picturesque. Her frustrations with other “desperate” housewives are emblemized when she goes ballistic on a neighborhood mother for complaining about her gym and charity work being so damn difficult.

babadook

What drove this mild-mannered woman to commit social suicide? You thought I forgot about Mr. Babadook had you? I have not. It was him.

Samuel pulls this mysterious red book off the shelf for his mother to read him to sleep, and if I’ve learned anything from watching films, it’s don’t read that unknown book. And NEVER aloud! Haven’t you seen The Evil Dead, Amelia??!!

“If it’s in a word or it’s in a look, you can’t get rid of the Babadook.” Sounds like your typical children’s popup book actually. Carry on.

After traumatizing her child and herself further with a children’s book, things go from just bad to badder.

The film has plenty of jumpy moments in which you may find yourself shrieking at the sight or potential sight of the Babadook in his top-hatted glory, but the building tension to the inevitable–a mother lashing out at her own child, is what is truly horrific.

While both classically phantasmic and anchored by a classic creepy kid trope, watching Amelia’s lonely descent fills you with both extreme pity and fear. Suffering from insomnia, migraines, and a constant jaw popping that made me want to remove my own jaw, she is not even holding on by a thread.

The Babadook is visually stunning despite all Amelia’s distracting maladies, taking the most beautiful visual elements of an eerie and almost animated horror palette and psychological thriller ‘destroyer of your psyche’ suburban realism to explore the absolute depths of a relationship between parent and offspring.

It takes the “I love you but I hate you” guilt of parenthood to its absolute extreme, and in the vein of The Orphanage, a preternatural child spurs it on.

The film’s most disturbing moments are disparate and range from subtle — Amelia urging Samuel to sit in the tub with her fully clothed — to less so — hundreds of roaches crawling out of a wall, and this tension keeps you sitting on your hands throughout as you wait for the inevitable …. BABA DOOK DOOK DOOK DOOK

Sidenote: Director, Jennifer Kent, is best known for directing Babe: Pig in the City. Makes sense.


Wrestling with Wrestling: Tapping Out In The Reality Era of Pro Wrestling

Wrestling with Wrestling: Tapping Out In The Reality Era of Pro Wrestling

Grumpy Cat

When I was in college, I ate, slept, (conquered, repeated) professional wrestling.  I had always been a big fan of “sports entertainment” ever since I was a child, but when I was in college, I had the ability and the means to travel and see live shows.  WWE only came around town about once a year, but there was (and still is) a company called Ring of Honor that would do loops through the area.  In my junior year of at Transylvania, I would grab a couple buddies, pay for front row tickets, drive us up to Dayton, OH to the Montgomery County Fairgrounds and have the BEST time.  The action was so different than what is shown on television.  There was athleticism, brutality, comedy, it had everything you could ask for.

After being at Ring of Honor shows in Dayton enough times, we were recognized by the referees and the timekeepers, with whom we would make small talk between the matches.  The event of going to a show had turned from being fandom to a personal experience, as we were getting one-on-one interaction with people in the show.

I’ve written about a specific moment on Funkhouser before, how one time I got to have a very interesting altercation with a wrestler named Claudio Castagnoli.  Claudio hails from Switzerland and is a big fan of Swiss tennis player, Roger Federer.  So, trying to get his attention, during a match against a guy named Tyler Black in Louisville, KY, I yelled “Roger Federer Sucks.”  Claudio hopped down off the ring apron, got in my face, and wiped all his sweat off on my Kentucky state flag I had draping over the railing.  Instantly, Claudio became my favorite wrestler, and still is, now under the name “Cesaro” in the WWE.

Cesaro

On an aside, I work out at a CrossFit gym (I won’t talk your ear off about it though)  In the world of professional wrestling, there is one wrestler in the WWE who is known for being the CrossFit guy in the company, and that is Seth Rollins. He posts pictures from the local CrossFit boxes (gyms) he visits when he is in various towns.  Rollins, coincidentally, used to wrestle under the name of Tyler Black, who was also part of that the match in the Claudio story above.  I knew a couple weeks ago that the WWE was having Monday Night Raw in Roanoke (where I live) on Nov. 17.  So, on a longshot, I sent Rollins the following tweet:

Seth Rollins is currently in the top storyline on WWE Television as Mr. Money in the Bank.  I figured there is no way he’s going to see my one tweet among the hundreds or thousands that I’m sure he gets on a daily basis.  Days and the week goes by, no favs, no replies.  The WWE was coming back from a tour of England, so I figured they’d roll into town pretty late.  UNTIL, this popped up on our gym’s Facebook page:

Rollins

I immediately contacted the owners of the gym, asking what time he was getting there and if I could hang out to meet any of the wrestlers that were going to show up.  They said “11-2, it’s on the DL though.”  Not a problem.  I can just show up, hang out, watch them workout and I can do the 12:15 class so I’m not lingering for a period of time that just seems more than long enough.

Monday, November 17th rolls around and my energy level is at an 11 from the moment I wake up.  I head to work, have a little morning meeting, take care of some emails and get out of the office at 10:45, so I can make it to the gym by 11.  I come over the bridge that is close to the gym, and I can see in the parking lot a car that is kind of doing figure-eights, trying to figure out where to park.  I get a little more excited, thinking, “that’s got to be a wrestler”  I roll up into a parking spot in the lot, and look over, and stepping out of the car beside me is 6’5”, 232 lb. Swiss superstar, Cesaro.  No. Way. This. Is. Happening.  I take a deep breath in that kind of “You’ve got to play it cool,” sort of way.  I get out of the car:

Me: How’s it going? (Great start… you’re not blowing it)
Cesaro: Pretty good, how are you?
Me: Not bad.
C: Which way is the entrance? Is it on the back or front of the building?
Me: There’s one here on the side.  I’m Richmond, nice to meet you (shaking his hand, I’m killing the game right now)
C: Claudio.  Do you work here?
Me: Ha, no, I just work out here.  So, I never thought I’d actually have the chance to show you this (I pull out my phone).  In 2010, I went to a lot of Ring of Honor shows, sit in the front row and yell out, “Roger Federer Sucks!”
C: Oh… That was you? (He either remembers, or is just being really nice).  He’s hurt by the way.
Me: Huh?
C: Federer, he’s hurt right now.
Me: Oh, that sucks.  Anyway, once in a match you came down and got in my face and wiped your sweat on my flag (show him the picture).
C: Oh, that’s awesome.  Well, I hope you had a good time at the show.  (We enter the building where he’s greeted by the owners).

Claudio was the nicest person you ever will meet.  I had 2-3 conversations with him over the afternoon and he was very receptive to chatting.  He was interested in what you had to say, and that was really cool.  Not before too long, Seth Rollins appeared from the side entrance, looking a bit tired, but still in good spirits.  He introduced himself under his real name, and started introducing himself to the staff.

Hi, I’m Colby
Hey Colby, I’m Amanda and this is Jay, we’re the owners of the gym. (Rollins turns to me)
Hi, I’m Richmond… I’m just here…

Claudio came over and talked to Rollins for a bit, catching up from the travel, as it seemed they had been separated for a bit.  Claudio also told Rollins that the new issue of “The Box” magazine came out, which happens to have Rollins on the cover.  He was unhappy with the image they used on the cover, but all of the pictures on the inside of the magazine were pretty sweet.

Rollins

They went on to do their workout, and I to mine.  After my workout was finished, I said my goodbyes, nice to meet you’s, etc.  I asked one of the owners when they thought the guys were leaving and she told me about 2:00 PM.  It was 1:40.  I get in my car and start to head home, until I realize that I HAVE the poster from that specific Louisville event hanging on my wall, with both Rollins and Claudio as the headline acts on the poster.  I live 2-3 minutes from the gym, but I had to run home, get the poster out of the Michael’s professionally framed frame, drive back to the gym and hope they’re still there.

I pull up to my house in the middle of Roanoke and hop out, car still running.  I run past my crated dog, “Hey Abigail, Sorry Abigail!”, and head straight to the poster.  I pop it off the wall (3M Velcro Picture Hangers, ftw) and run straight to the screwdriver.  With the skill of MacGyver, unearth the poster from the frame and get back in the vehicle.  I arrive at the gym right as Claudio is putting his gear in the car.  I lay on the horn like they’re some sort of emergency,  hitting a pot hole full of water and nearly missing Claudio with a huge splash, whew.

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I hand over the poster and a sharpie and said, “When would I ever have the chance to have the two guys from this show sign the poster on the same day?”  He looked at it, said “This is awesome, why would we have done a show on a Thursday?  Oh yeah, that’s when we were doing the Louisville shows.  This is really cool.”  Again, Claudio was so nice about everything yesterday.  I ran inside and got Rollins to sign it too, as he was also impressed by the poster.  He was a little less enthused, but he may have still been upset about The Box cover.  Either way, I finally got to meet the two guys from my most vivid wrestling memory, and tell them the story.  Best. Day. Ever.

IG

However, I told you that story, to tell you this story.

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The Walking Dead: ‘Consumed’

The Walking Dead: ‘Consumed’

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Good afternoon!  This week on the Walking Dead there was dialogue (not that this is a dialogue episode), action (not that this is necessarily an action episode), driving (it’s hard to say if this qualifies at all as a driving episode), and walking (spoiler alert:this is a walking episode).  Someone dies (spoiler alert: it’s a walker on the screen for 2 seconds that I named Narwhal.  RIP Narwhal), someone lives (spoiler alert:I see you Georgia Dome!), and Carol may or may not be in this episode, maybe.

In all honesty, I can neither confirm nor deny that this was a Walking Dead episode that may or may not have treaded water, waiting with manufactured suspense for a mid-season finale that we all know is coming.  If anything, this is another perfect example of a typical mid-season TWD episode, with everything that entails.  You want some specifics?

You sure?

I’m going to talk about the episode in specific terms after the break, you’ve been warned…

That means you’re going to hear all about Narwhal.  You sure that’s cool?

Ok, let’s go!

PS.  Thanks again to everyone who participated in the #BBWD, keep ‘em coming!

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Fun with IMDB: “Dumb and Dumber To” Edition

Fun with IMDB: “Dumb and Dumber To” Edition

Like most people, I like to go down the IMDB rabbit-hole from time to time. Few things bring me as much joy as scrolling through the long list of bit players and background actors who round out the casts of big movies. The lazily named roles alone are usually good for a few chuckles, and sometimes the profiles of these character actors and Hollywood hopefuls are equal parts hilarious and heartbreaking. Previously on “Fun with IMDB,” I looked at the rag-tag group of actors who played a bunch of heavies and tough guys in Let’s Be Cops.

This weekend, the Farrelly Brothers return to theaters with Dumb and Dumber To, a sequel that probably would have been a huge hit if it were released within a decade of the original Dumb and Dumber (and if the studio hadn’t tried to cash in with 2003’s terrible prequel, Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd). Still, the follow-up will probably do decent business thanks in large part to all of the fans of HBO’s The Newsroom and their borderline psychotic devotion to Jeff Daniels (just kidding, that show is literally the worst). To their credit, the Farrelly Brothers managed to get the band back together, enlisting Daniels and Jim Carrey to reprise the roles of Harry Dunne and Lloyd Christmas. But of much greater interest to me is the lineup of bit players the directors enlisted to round out the cast. Here’s a look at a few of my favorites:

 

Pascua

David Pascua. A native of Orange County, California, David has played a number of uncredited roles in movies and shows you’ve probably seen, including Anchorman 2, Eastbound & Down, Under the Dome, and The Conjuring. He once again appears in an uncredited roll in Dumb and Dumber 2, playing “Mariachi Trumpet Player.” If, after looking at his photo, you think David appears to be more of a worldly scholar and gentleman of leisure than a struggling background actor, you’re right. According to his official bio, David holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing, an MBA from Pepperdine University, and he spent several years working in “marketing-related” areas. But don’t try to pigeonhole David as some marketing washout in the midst of a midlife crisis, because that couldn’t be further from the truth. Check out this little tidbit from his bio:

“In his current stage of life, David is enjoying a creative renaissance and personal reinvention. He thrives in the creative realm, whether it be as a photographer, graphic designer, multi-media editor, as well as a musician. As an actor, it is creatively liberating for him to be on the other side of the lens.”

Actually, that sounds exactly like a dude in the midst of a midlife crisis. Well, at least he probably got to meet Jim Carrey, right?

 

Henneberg

Lauren Henneberg. Why Lauren is stuck playing “Upscale Guest” in Dumb and Dumber To and not playing “The Other Lady with a Sword” on The Walking Dead is beyond me. I mean, look at that photo! I’m sure she’s decked out in some sort of awesome cosplay as a character with whom I’m not familiar because I’m old, but she looks like she’d fit right in with the rest of the survivors trying to stay alive in a world overrun by Walkers. And guess what? She HAS been on The Walking Dead! BOOM! You just got M. Night Shyamalan’d! Lauren has actually appeared as a Walker on TWD 12 times already. Which means not only can she rock a samurai sword LIKE Michonne, she’s probably had her Walker-head lopped off BY Michonne!

 

Glover

Jeff Matthew Glover. Oh, man. There are a lot of cool things about Jeff, the least interesting of which is that he happens to appear in Dumb and Dumber To as an “Orderly.” This 6 foot, 3 inch mountain of steely-eyed, chrome-domed true grit plays beer league hockey, is a huge fan of Chicago sports teams, and claims to have once jump started Harry Carey’s rental car in Mesa, Arizona. But none of that really matters. All you really need to know to understand Jeff is this:

“[He] became the class president of Schaumburg High School class of 1990 in a hostile takeover of power.”

You bet your sweet bippy it was a hostile takeover of power. That’s the only way Jeff rolls. It doesn’t matter if he’s jacking fools up in a beer league hockey game or getting down and dirty in the seedy world of high school politics, Jeff gets what Jeff wants by any means necessary. Be on the lookout for Dumb and Dumber Thee (get it?) starring Jeff M. Glover as Harry and Lloyd’s new friend, Jeff.

 

Gregory

Gregory Fears. Gregory appears in Dumb and Dumber To as “Man at Gas Station.” But I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “That dude right there kinda looks like Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.” If that is indeed what you’re thinking, then congratulations, you should quit wasting your life reading dumb blog posts on the internet, move to Hollywood, and get a job as the person who finds unknown actors who kind of look like more famous actors. Gregory doesn’t just kind of look like The Rock, he’s basically The Rock’s shadow. From Gregory’s official bio:

“Before Greg was able to pursue acting on a full-time basis, his main goal was to do a film with Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. By 2013, Greg was hand-picked by the director of Fast & Furious 7 to be the stand-in, photo and body double for The Rock. Greg was given high marks from the director, crew and personal staff for The Rock for his skills and likeness on set.”

You read that right: Gregory received “high marks” from The Rock’s “personal staff” for kind of looking like The Rock. In fact, Gregory did such a good job of kind of looking  like The Rock that he earned what might be the greatest nickname in the history of nicknames: The Pebble.

A+. Great nickname. Nice work.

 

BillJennifer1

Bill Murray and Jennifer Lawrence. LOL! Look at these two wannabes. Bill Murray looks like someone’s weird uncle who drinks too much at family gatherings and starts telling “Dirty Johnny” jokes at the dinner table.  And Jennifer Lawrence looks like she is destined to a career full of “airhead best friend” roles playing opposite Hollywood’s leading ladies in terrible romantic comedies, assuming she manages to land another part after her tiny role in Dumb and Dumber To. Both of these “actors” seem like fine folk, but let’s be honest, I don’t think legitimate acting careers are in the cards for them. Best of luck on wherever life takes you next, Bill and Jennifer!

 

All photos via IMDB.

 

@TheSEShepherd

 


Fun Fun Funkhouser II : An Interview with Rachel Bloom

Fun Fun Funkhouser II : An Interview with Rachel Bloom

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Welcome all to the second annual Fun Fun Funkhouser Recap!  That’s right, for the second year in a row they let your humble blogger into Austin’s premier festival to make merry and mischief.   There was metal, hip-hop, bikers, bakers, kim-chi fries, and–naturally–the highest density of hipsters in the country.  It was wonderful.

This year I experienced my very first sample of live EDM, drank more Red Bull than I’d had in the rest of my life combined, and thought a lot about how anyone has the capability to not be hungover on the third day of a festival.  But, most excitingly, this year I had the great privilege to interview the extremely funny and talented Rachel Bloom.

Rachel-Bloom-at-Fun-Fun-Fun-Fest-in-Austin

Rachel Bloom is a gifted writer, singer, and actor from California.  She’s written on shows like Robot Chicken and Allen Gregory, and has provided the voices for numerous characters like Ariel, April O’Neil, and Smurfette (in Robot Chicken) and Laura on the Netflix series, BoJack Horseman.  Additionally, Rachel has written, produced, and starred in numerous amazing YouTube videos [NSFW] including, Jazz Fever, You Can Touch My Boobies, and the Hugo-nominated short, F*ck Me, Ray Bradbury.  She was named one of 13 Comedians to Watch in 2014 by Cosmopolitan magazine, as well as by Time Out L.A. and Backstage magazines.  I sat down with Rachel at the New Movement Comedy Club in Austin, TX to ask her a few questions:

[Interview does contain some NSFW language]

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Morning Monologue: Game Shows Galore

Morning Monologue: Game Shows Galore

Capture

Another start to the week and another good night from late night talk shows.  However, before the late night shows began, Pat Sajak LOST HIS MIND on some contestants.

Jimmy Fallon is pretty good about hitting all of the game shows.  He’s done Password and Family Feud, and is now venturing in to Pyramid.  Last night he played along with Jeff Daniels, Nick Jonas and Usher.  They’re all pretty terrible at the game… like Barkley terrible…