There have been some major upsets along the way (still not over nachos beating jambalaya), →
KSR’s take on recent non sports related happenings
We’re taking the week leading up to Moontower Music Festival in Masterson Station to preview the headlining acts of the festival.
Today, we take a look at Drive-By Truckers, an alt-country, southern rock band based in Athens, Georgia, while also having ties to Alabama. Drive-By Truckers was founded in 1996 by Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley in Athens. Since 1996, the band has put out 10 studio albums, including 2001’s Southern Rock Opera, which was highly praised at the time (and still today). Their 2014 album was their highest charting album on the US Charts, climbing all the way up to #16, as well as #2 on the US Indie charts. Their 2010 album The Big To-Do made its way to #1 on the US Billboard Indie Charts. On September 20th, Drive-By Truckers will release their 11th studio album entitled “American Band”. They have released a few singles before the album release, including a very political “What It Means”.
“American Band” was recorded in just three days, despite two weeks being their typical recording necessity for a new album. The band was determined to get their album out in the height of the 2016 election season, and if you listened to the song above, you’ve got a pretty good idea why. “American Band” features sharp jabs at other parts of the american landscape, including the NRA. The album also includes a personal song of Hood’s titled “Baggage”. The song was written on the night of the death of Robin Williams, and speaks to the nature of Hood’s own depression.
The Drive-By Truckers are in their 20th year as a band, despite having different incarnations of the group, and are looking to tear the house down at Masterson Station this Saturday with an attitude of being “fired up, ready to go.”
Drive-By Truckers takes the stage at 8:40 Saturday night. Tickets for MoonTower are available here and make sure to use promo code KSR20 to get your tickets for only $30 (normal price $49). Doors open at 11:00 and don’t forget you can bring your dog or a kid under 12 for free (with adult ticket purchase). Here’s the lineup:
By C.M. Tomlin on ©August 24th, 2016 @ 2:00pm
If you’re interested in the current New Orleans scene & sound right now, multi-instrumentalist Troy Andrews — better known as jazz/funk/hip hop auteur Trombone Shorty — is a name you know. In fact, Andrews is so NOLA that he was featured in six episodes of Treme, the HBO drama based upon the neighborhood where he grew up.
The one thing you really need to know about Trombone Shorty, however, is that he’s a great get for Lexington’s MoonTower Festival this weekend. As an ensemblist he’s been an invaluable sideman for Eric Clapton, U2, Harry Connick Jr., the Zac Brown Band and more. On his own he’s got nine solo albums under his belt and can bring down the house live. And he’s bringing his own unique Mardi Gras-infused, dixieland jazz-funk sound to help headline MoonTower on Saturday at 7:40. Don’t like jazz? No worries, this is not the jazz you’re thinking of. Don’t like hip hop? It’s not really that either, it’s a much different animal from that. Don’t like funk? Can’t help you there, because funk’s a BIG part of Trombone Shorty and company.
And here’s the best part: KSR/Funkhouser has your hookup. Check out the full line up and purchase your MoonTower tickets here using promo code KSR20 to get your tickets for only $30 (normal price $49). Doors open at 11:00. Kids & dogs are free. It’s at Masterson Station all day. So do it. It’s gonna be a great time.
For twenty years, drivers have spent lonely nights listening to Delilah on the radio. Her advice has helped strangers all across America. Guaranteed if you spent any time on the highways and byways of this great country, then you have listened to Delilah. There is something comforting about hearing her announce, “You are listening to Delilah.” She can mend broken hearts and remind people of what matters most, all in a night’s work. We have learned a lot about what it means to “slow down and love someone” from the Queen of Sappy love songs over the past twenty years. Here are some of her greatest hits.
How do you plan to show someone you love them this coming week? Every little thing counts. #lovesomeone
— Delilah (@delilahradio) August 22, 2016
Love someone every day
When you think of Delilah, you think of sappy love songs. Singers like Michael Bolton and Bryan Adams are on heavy rotation. But, Delilah helps people with more than romantic relationships. She often focuses on mending relationships between parents and children, siblings or even friends. (Her twitter is big on the importance of BFFs. It’s like she just learned the acronym.) Delilah makes a point to remind people to “love someone every day” even if it is something small.
"Kisses are not contracts" – @delilahradio Keeping it real
— Aimee Pledger (@aimee_pledger) July 26, 2016
Kisses are not contracts
Even though Delilah has had several divorces, her romantic advice is still sound. She approaches each call with honesty and thoughtfulness. (She was born on Valentine’s Day, which seems to make her even more qualified for the job.) Delilah steers callers away from being swept up in the romance of it all and more about what it takes to make a relationship work.
Delilah is my rock. Always there after 7pm; a steady constant in my life 😂 @delilahradio
— Claire (@claire_coon) May 10, 2016
She is a steady constant.
Delilah is a constant because it seems like she is always on the radio. For twenty years, she has been on, late at night to take requests. According to this article, Delilah’s most requested song is “The Wind Beneath My Wings.” Apparently Bette Midler is also a good steady constant to have in your life as well. Delilah will take any song request except for “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion and “Grandma Got Ran Over By A Reindeer.” She is always there to listen, except if those are your requests.
Sirens are going off! Taking a call from two folks so in love they may need CPR. #DelilahValentine
— Delilah (@delilahradio) February 13, 2016
Being cheesy is okay.
Delilah isn’t above being cheesy. Sometimes, in between Rod Stewart’s reminders about how much he loves you and Pat Benetar’s proclamations of what she belongs to, Delilah can get a little too sappy. Secretly, we all love it. Even the biggest music snobs knows all the words to “Heaven” by Ryan Adams and loves belting out the lyrics with the windows rolled down. There is something comforting about Delilah’s point of view. She is consistent, truthful and loving. Delilah has been listening for twenty years and for that, I’d like to dedicate this song to her…
Funkhouser’s MoonTower coverage continues this week with previews of the headlining acts. Today we preview Manchester Orchestra, an indie rock band from Atlanta. Manchestra Orchestra formed in 2004 and released their first album, I’m Like a Virgin Losing a Child, in 2007. Manchester Orchestra has since released four more albums: Mean Everything to Nothing (2009), Simple Math (2011), Hope (2014), and Cope (2014). Manchester Orchestra is one of those bands which succeeds in multiple genres. Each album explores different shades of rock and the combination of multi-genre sound along with the hypnotic vocals of lead singer Andy Hull make for a versatile listening experience. Regardless of your mood, they’ve got you covered. Want to just chill and hang out with friends, listen to “Pensacola”. Need to get pumped up, listen to “Shake it Out”. Want to watch a music video which feels inspired by Sylvester Stallone’s hit movie Over the Top, watch this:
Because of their versatility, Manchester Orchestra appeals to a broad fanbase which makes them an awesome band for an event like MoonTower. Though I haven’t seen them live I did reach out to my friend Brandon who offered this summary of their performance: “Unreal performance. In my mind, they completely overshadowed the bigger names I saw at the festival (The Strokes, Avett Brothers, Pixies). [They] started off with their heavier stuff to get fans amped up and scare the <expletive deleted> out of/blow away first time listeners. [Their] stage presence was incredible.”
Manchester Orchestra takes the stage at 10:00 Saturday night. Tickets for MoonTower are available here and make sure to use promo code KSR20 to get your tickets for only $30 (normal price $49). Doors open at 11:00 and don’t forget you can bring your dog or a kid under 12 for free (with adult ticket purchase). Here’s the lineup:
MOON STAGE TOWER STAGE
Manchester Orchestra 10:00 Drive-By Truckers 8:40
Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue 7:20 Judah & The Lion 6:15
The Floozies 5:30 JR JR 4:45
The Weeks 4:00 Mandolin Orange 3:15
Aubrie Sellers 2:30 BASSH 2:00
Chrome Pony 1:30 Blind Corn Liquor Pickers 1:00
Small Batch 12:30 Johnny Conqueroo 12:00
No Fences 11:30 DJ Tank 11:00, and in between sets!
In this Funkhouser installment, I rummage through a hodgepodge of television shows and films, some of which are so obscure, you might be discovering them for the first time, others, simply forgotten about, several possibly mothballed and finally a few that just vanished into the ether altogether. This is Lost and Found.
Students, in particular first-years, are arriving on college campuses all across our country, unpacking their belongings, waving goodbye to their loved ones and anxiously preparing for a new and intoxicating chapter of their life. The reality is, college life is an exciting time, especially if you live in student housing, despite what the naysayers say. But remember, always wear your flip-flops in the shower. Go ahead, make the most of it and socialize, because your roommates and the other wide-eyed yokels you encounter in your dorm will either be the best friends of your life, or one’s who will haunt you when you close your eyes at night. I’m serious, your roommate is probably standing over you right now, watching you sleep, looting your jean pockets, looking for beer money and going through DMs on your phone. You’re going to have to get used to this new freedom, and understand that there’s plenty of downtime inbetween your classes and on-campus activities and such to study…up on all your favorite binge-worthy programs back in your dorm.
Let’s see..now, where did I put that show? Forgive me, I seem to have misplaced my recommendation. Oh well, just chill, let me check Netflix, nope. Hulu? Negatory. Surely Amazon has it on DVD? Alas, the answer is all the same: 3-South, like ZIMA, has officially vanished.
Originally airing on MTV2 on November 7th, 2002, the animated series 3-South is the perfect show for anyone who loves cartoon sitcoms. Set at the fictional Barder College, the short-lived show follows the lives of some really odd students trying to fit in and survive that crucial first year on campus. If you happened to miss it, you’re not alone: 3-South is one of a handful of shows to earn the dubious distinction of a one-and-done series. In fact, 3-South lasted only 13 episodes before MTV callously yanked the plug, ending its beautiful existence altogether in February 2003. However, unlike so many other great one-season shows (My So Called Life, Greg the Bunny, The Ben Stiller Show) which too met untimely deaths, yet had subsequent re-runs, DVD’s made, or are currently being streamed, 3-South lingers in tv purgatory, completely vanishing off the airwaves and everywhere else for that matter. Recently, when Viacom announced that they were relaunching VH1 Classic into MTV Classic, a channel dedicated to showcasing throwback, cult-programming of the late 90’s and early 2000’s, fans of animated shows like: Daria, Beavis & Buthead, and Aeon Flux, were welcomed into the sorority with open arms, while fans of 3-South didn’t make the cut. But all is not lost kids, thanks to a YouTuber named, Shizava, you can binge-watch every episode of 3-South in its entirety. Not all heroes wear capes. Here’s two of my favorite episodes…you have 11 more left!
Episode 1: “College Material”
Episode 6: “Fraternity”
The series was created by and starred Mark Hentemann and Steve Callaghan, both known for their writing and voiceover work on the more widely-recognized series Family Guy. The main cast consisted of a crude, annoying loudmouth, named Sanford, voiced by none other than Brian Dunkleman. Yes, THE BRIAN DUNKLEMAN! Alongside his best bud, a mopey and cycloptic-looking, dimwit named Del, voiced by comedian Brian Posehn, who also voices the dorm’s R.A., an uberloser named Todd. Rounding out the cast is Ed, a stereotypical hick, complete with a catchy laugh, voiced by Hentemann and lastly the inept, Dean Earhart, voiced by veteran actor, Jeffrey Tambor (Arrested Development, The Larry Sanders Show).
As you can see, the animation is reminiscent of Gary Larson’s comic The Far Side with writing that’s both clever and funny, at times maybe crude, but not nearly as much as its contemporary Beavis & Butthead. If you were wondering who’s singing that haunting tune during the opening montage, it’s none other than The Flaming Lips performing their song “Fight Test“. While 3-South was a fleeting television program, it was a really enjoyable one, and it certainly doesn’t deserve to exist in a state of oblivion. Now, pass the Funyuns and lets get started because that Natty Light isn’t going to drink itself. So whether you ended up with: the clingy one, the loner, the party animal, the slob, the homebody, the vampire, the cleaner, or your best friend, 3-South is just the show for you to watch alone or with your new roommate.
Each week KSR’s Funkhouser collects the best of pop culture. The Entertation Index collects the best of the week for your consumption.
Dog, Triumph the Insult Comic – I don’t care which side of the aisle you fall on, this glorious gaslighting of voters in a fake Trump focus group is one of the best things you’ll see all day.
Fortune, Wheel of – Say what you will about Fox News, but this list of the eight worst Wheel of Fortune fails is F_NT_STIC. Simply funtustic, I tell you!
Hernandez, Laurie –Sixteen year-old gold-medal winning US gymnast Laurie Hernandez has announced that moving forward she will be a brand sponsor for Crest toothpaste. In other news, disgruntled US women’s soccer goalkeeper Hope Solo has landed an endorsement deal with “Bags of Crap.”
Lochte, Ryan – There’s likely no way you’ve missed the events surrounding Ryan Lochte and members of the US Men’s Swim Team over the last three days, as Lochte has been proven to have manufactured a story about being robbed at gunpoint to cover for a lie he told his mother about his whereabouts early one morning in Rio. I get this, in 1986 I lied to my mother about cleaning my room and ended up having to testify in the Iran-Contra hearings.
Pants, Chicken In – Hey, you guys want to see a chicken running around wearing pants? Okay then.
Pumpkins, Smashing – Former Smashing Pumpkins front man Billy Corgan revealed in a recent Facebook post that he and former bassist D’arcy Wretzky are reconciling after twenty years and considering reforming the 90’s band. According to Corgan, he’s “ready to bury the hatchet” and also “tired of eating Ramen noodles for every meal.”
Rowling, J.K. – Billionare Brit Author J.K. Rowling has announced the release of a series of Harry Potter-themed eBooks dealing with new themes. With the main storyline finished, however, the books will deal with more mundane subplots, like Neville Longbottom and the Over-Tightened Jar of Beans, Minerva McGonagall and the Bad Clams and Percy Weasley and the Blown-Up Snapchat.
Depending on who you ask, Summerslam is the second biggest wrestling event of the year behind Wrestlemania. Last year’s Summerslam event saw the Undertaker take on Brock Lesnar, and Seth Rollins defeat John Cena with the help of a steel chair from The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart. This year’s pay-per-view looks to break the mold of former Summerslam cards by being the first co-branded event since the brand extension draft. Now that Raw and Smackdown have different rosters, there’s going to be a lot of locker room shots of everyone wearing their brand shirts as Brock Lesnar and Randy Orton tear the house down. Also, we’re going to get a lot of Shane and Stephanie arguing back and forth with one another. So different…
As always, we thought at Funkhouser that we would predict the outcomes of the matches happening at the four (yes) four hour Summerslam event. Josh and I try our hands at figuring out what the hell is going on. Who will make more correct guesses on a scripted sporting event? Only time will tell.
6 5-Woman Tag Match
Richmond: So it’s been a rough week for the WWE. First, Alberto Del Rio gets a 30-day suspension for violating the talent-wellness policy. A day later, his girlfriend Paige gets dinged with a 30-day suspension for a wellness policy violation. Then yesterday we find out that Eva Marie, who undeniably has had some enhancement involved, got a 30-day wellness suspension. What’s in the drinking water over there? So, as of right now it’s a 2-3 match, so I’ll just go with Becky, Carmella and Naomi, because there’s it’s three against two. Also my favorite reddit thread yesterday said “Breaking: Bob Backlund has been Suspendered”. That’s gold right there.
Josh Juckett: Becky Lynch’s team – because Becky Lynch
Cesaro -vs- Sheamus (1st in a Best of Seven Series)
R: Woof. I love Cesaro. I’ll say it over and over again, but it becomes harder to believe that he’s going to get a shot at the top title for quite some time. So, they put him in these mid-card feuds with people who can go, but are boring to watch, ahem, Sheamus. So, they’ve wrestled multiple times over the past couple of weeks, now we’re going to put them in a best of seven series? Not best of five? And they’re definitely going to spread this out to all seven. So, I’m picking Sheamus, only because it would be silly to have Cesaro, the good guy, go ahead 1-0. He needs odds to overcome.
The Miz -vs- Apollo Crews
R: The Miz is in this weird spot right now where, and it’s hard to admit this, he’s actually entertaining again. There was a time where he got lost in the shuffle and was starting to just exist. But, now that he’s surrounded by Maryse, he’s got something going for him. Apollo Crews is a big, muscular, athletic, agile dude. He just doesn’t have much of a personality other than smiling a lot. And he has great smile. This is a tough one to call, but I’m going to say The Miz retains.
Enzo & Big Cass -vs- JeriKO
R: Enzo and Cass are the hottest thing going in wrestling today. They come down the ramp to fans saying along with their catchphrases, reminiscent of The New Age Outlaws in their prime. Enzo comes out and spits out a bunch of nonsense one liners, topped off with some how you doin’s and the place goes nuts. On the other end of the spectrum, you have Chris Jericho, who may be having one of his greatest runs in the last decade. He’s got great catchphrases of his own, really pulling together the cool-dad vibe he’s been close to having over the past couple of years. His partner is Kevin Owens, an always on, brilliant wrestler who is just hilarious by nature. This should be a good match, but in Brooklyn, Enzo and Cass pick up the win to set up a Jericho-Owens feud post Summerslam.
J: I like to call them Y2JKO– this name mash up is too good to not win. Future tag team champions and not just some weird gimmick that makes for awkward backstage interviews.
The New Day (c) -vs- The Club
(Tag Team Championship Match)
R: Let’s explain this feud. Gallows and Anderson (The Club) targeted third New Day member, Big E, by crotching him on the ring post and putting him out of action for 3 weeks. Since then The Club has been dressing up as doctors and making ball jokes while holding jars with fake testicles in them, wanting to take specimens from Kofi and Xavier Woods. That’s it. That’s what this feud has come down to. One of two things happen. 1) Big E makes a return to clean house and either forces a DQ or gives the New Day the win -or- 2) The Club takes out weakest link Xavier Woods and wins the tag team championships to give them something to do, because otherwise they really have nothing going on. I think it will be the latter. The Club for the win.
J: The New Day– Their dominance will end when Y2JKO takes them out.
Sasha Banks (c) -vs- Charlotte (Women’s Title Match)
R: Sasha won the title from Charlotte on the first real Smackdown of the “New Era”, solidifying her spot at the top of the Women’s Division mountain. Since then, Charlotte has been trying to climb back to the top with the help of her protégé Dana Brooke. Dana has been banned from ringside for the match, but I feel like she’ll still get involved. However, Bayley coming off of her loss to Asuka, will be the equalizer and keep Dana at bay(ley). Sasha retains, because of course she does.
J: Charlotte – Solid rivalries need title changes.
Rusev (w/Lana)(c) -vs- Roman Reigns (U.S. Title Match)
R: It’s been a long fall for the Roman Empire. Roman Reigns is about a month off of his 30-day wellness violation, that cost him his title and took him out of the WWE Championship picture. So how do you rebuild Roman Reigns? You throw him against Rusev, the American hating United States Champion. Here’s the problem… Rusev has been keeping it 100 ever since he won the title. He’s been taking the mic and rubbing it in opponents children’s faces on Fathers Day for goodness sake. He’s been doing some top level stuff, not to mention, he’s a great performer. I think Roman Reigns wins this one, but I’m not happy about it.
J: Reigns – does everybody still hate him? (Yes)
John Cena -vs- AJ Styles
R: This is a hard one to call. You’ve got ‘big match John’, who can pull out an amazing match with just about anyone at any time that he wants. Then you’ve got AJ Styles, who I don’t think has ever had a bad match in his time in WWE. Plus, AJ’s goal since he got to the WWE has been to… #BeatUpJohnCena. This is going to be the third and final battle between the two, at least for a while, and John and Enzo & Cass defeated the Club at the Battleground PPV, but he hasn’t gotten a clean win over Styles in the feud. Gotta think that the ‘face that runs the place’ AA’s Styles from the top rope for the win. Big Match John wins this one.
J: Cena– The redemption of Jon Stewart
Dean Ambrose (c) -vs- Dolph Ziggler (WWE Championship Match)
R: Hmm. Dean Ambrose is the unlikely champion that has made his way to the top using his Money in the Bank briefcase on the night that he won it. He’s such an awkward person to be the WWE Champion, but it works for him and the fans seem to love him. Plus he’s from Cincinnati, so he’s got that going for him. Dolph Ziggler has been so close for so long. The last time he got a big title around his waist, he got a concussion, and has been labeled as injury prone, despite being one of the best performers in the WWE. I think since we’re getting a new Universal champion, we don’t necessarily need a title change here, so Ambrose keeps the title and feuds with the winner of Cena/Styles.
J: Ambrose – i really don’t like Ziggler.
Finn Balor -vs- Seth Rollins
R: Man, I have mixed feelings about this one. Seth Rollins is one of the most consistent wrestlers on the WWE roster, day in and day out. He plays his role so perfectly, that you can’t help but hate him, but recognize how good he is at the same time. He was the #1 pick in the WWE Brand Extension Draft, and you would think that he has to be THE MAN to be the first WWE Universal Champion, whatever that is. However, for some reason, I think that we’re all-in on this Demon King Finn Balor. That sounds negative against Balor, but it’s not. Balor/Rollins will tear the house down in what will probably be the match of the night. Honestly, I don’t care who wins this, I’ll be happy either way, but in terms of making a decision, I’ll call Balor, so that the original (Bullet) Club will hold top titles by the end of the night.
J: Rollins– This is Finns chance to show he can move a major pay-per-view needle, but a Finn win would feel too much like the WWE forcing him on fans à la Cena and Reigns.
Brock Lesnar -vs- Randy Orton
R: This match I’m not overly excited for, but this is being billed in all the previews as the major draw of the show. Lesnar is coming off of his UFC 200 victory, which has been tainted by the fact that he tested positive for some sort of banned substance. Note: Lesnar doesn’t get at 30-day suspension like everyone else when he tests positive, maybe because the results aren’t out yet, and WWE didn’t do the test. Also, Lesnar’s last couple of matches have been suplex-repeat-suplex-repeat. Which we loved when it was against John Cena in a major victory, but against everyone else, Suplex City is starting to lose its population of fans. Randy Orton on the other hand is returning from injury and just seems like he’s having a good time right now. Orton gains nothing with a loss here, and frankly, neither does Lesnar. Orton needs the win, in his first match back from injury, so I pick Orton. Plus, how many times do you think they’ve practiced the F5-into RKO out of Nowhere?
J: Orton- my take on the match: Ortons shoulder injury is played up until he mounts a seemingly impossible comeback against Lesnar and Heyman to win.
One year ago, WWE solidified NXT’s prominence with NXT Takeover: Brooklyn, by giving what was undeniably the match of the year in Bayley vs Sasha Banks. The show as a whole was entirely better than Summerslam itself. In its second year in Brooklyn, NXT looks to recapture that special feeling by selling out the Barclay Center again, and bringing six hot matches. Recently with the brand extension draft, NXT was purged of six top performers (Finn Balor, Nia Jax, American Alpha, Carmella, Alexa Bliss and Mojo Rawley), and now has to find its footing again with some newer faces in the picture. But with what NXT has put together for this Saturday night, the Summerslam card should be worried once again.
So we thought at Funkhouser that we would predict the outcomes of the matches happening at the Saturday Night NXT Takeover event. However, only two people were brave enough to put their names on the high-stakes world of pro-wrestling pontification. Who will make more correct guesses on a scripted sporting event? Only time will tell.
Ember Moon vs Billie Kay
Richmond: This match is going to be a one-sided affair as the former Athena, Ember Moon, makes short work of the rose-smelling Australian, Billie Kay. We saw Kay at NXT in Northern Kentucky about a month ago, and as of right now, she doesn’t have it. Ember Moon on the other hand is destined to be NXT Women’s Champion, and probably not too far from now. NXT had a 6-woman tag match last night on TV, and Ember Moon is going to enter the television picture and will be streets ahead of five, if not all six of those women. Moon will run circles around Kay on Saturday.
Josh: Ember Moon
Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas -vs- Bobby Roode
R: NXT Brooklyn in 2015 was the feel good hit of the summer, with all of the good guys winning. However, NXT Brooklyn II is going to be different, it’s going to be a nice showcase to see some of the heels winning. It’s going to be GLORIOUS. Bobby Roode just made his NXT debut a few weeks ago, so I can’t see Bobby Roode going down easy, especially not to someone who was the least popular in a feud with “The Perfect 10” Tye Dillinger. Roode for the win.
No Way Jose -vs- Austin Aries
R: There are two schools of thought in this match. 1) Austin Aries has been essentially used to introduce new people in NXT, taking losses to further bump up the career of new stars. Which means No Way Jose will win this match. 2) Austin Aries has lost to too many people for him to even be remotely relevant as a credible opponent. Aries needs the win to get a little momentum. Unfortunately for Aries, I think it’s the former, with No Way Jose dancing all over Aries for the win. At first I thought Jose’s gimmick wasn’t going have any way to get over, but he’s actually winning over the NXT Universe. No Way Jose takes this one.
Bayley -vs- Asuka (c) – Women’s Championship Match
It is undeniable that Bayley was the star of NXT Brooklyn one year ago. Her rise to become the Women’s Champion after having been the underdog for so long, was one that fans wanted to see for quite some time. Fast forward to one year later, where Bayley has become the top women’s performer, not only in NXT, but possibly WWE. She made her main roster debut at WWE Battleground last month, which thrilled the WWE Universe, but we were told multiple times that it was a one-time only affair. Bayley is getting the itch to be called up soon, and starting to grow tired of staying down in NXT. She’s done it all, but one thing she hasn’t done in NXT is defeat the “Empress of Tomorrow” Asuka. Asuka is undefeated in her time at NXT, and took down Bayley over Wrestlemania weekend this spring. The bigger draw in the future is going to be a Asuka/Ember Moon match for the NXT Women’s Championship, because Ember Moon is an inevitable choice for NXT Women’s Champion, and if she has to beat Bayley for it, that means more time for Bayley in NXT. I’m picking Asuka to retain.
J: Bayley, because… Bayley.
The Revival (c) -vs- Johnny Gargano & Tomasso Ciampa
R: THIS. This is going to be the match of the night. I know people are excited for the NXT Championship match between Joe and Nakamura, but this is going to be the match that steals the show. The Revival are the first ever two-time NXT Tag Team Champions. They have billed themselves as “Top Guys” in the NXT Tag Team Division. Scott Dawson is friends with Fake Barney. They have a lot going for them. The Revival has put on great matches consistently since NXT Brooklyn in 2015, including three incredible matches with, now Smackdown duo, American Alpha.
Johnny Gargano and Tomasso Ciampa were brought in from the indies last year for the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Invitational. They had been used off and on over the past year sparingly, but since the Cruiserweight Classic (CWC) started last month, Gargano and Ciampa have been on top of the world. They faced off against each other in a match of the year candidate in the first round of the CWC, which people are still talking about. They have been Twitter sensations since debuting the #GloriousBomb:
— Johnny Gargano (@JohnnyGargano) August 6, 2016
— Tommaso Ciampa (@ProjectCiampa) August 7, 2016
A) The #GloriousBomb has been incredible to follow. B) Bobby Roode’s theme is the best in wrestling today. Yet, I digress. With four great performers in this match, you’re looking at the match of the night. This is a hard one to call, but I’m going to give this one to Johnny Wrestling and the Sicilian Psychopath. Gargano and Ciampa to win, so the good guys can go on to face the upcoming Authors of Pain.
J: The Revival
Samoa Joe (c) -vs- Shinsuke Nakamura – NXT Championship Match
R: While the tag match will be match of the night, the NXT Championship Match is still going to be hot fire. Samoa Joe is almost better than he’s ever been with his latest run in NXT. This has been the perfect way to get Samoa Joe into the world of WWE, showing him as one of the most dominant wrestlers going today. On the other side of the ring, you’ve got one of the most charismatic performers in all of professional wrestling in Shinsuke Nakamura. Nakamura debuted in the most recent NXT Takeover special back in April, facing off against Sami Zayn, and receiving Fight Forever chants. This match is going to be one of the hardest ones to call, but I think Samoa Joe retains the title in the match, handing Nakamura a loss, but something to get him to be serious about going for the title. I mean, Nakamura “got Joe’s nose” two weeks ago on NXT. You can’t take a man’s nose, especially Samoa Joe, and live to see another day. However, if Joe does lose, I’d love to see him pop up at the end of the Lesnar/Orton match the next night at Summerslam.
J: This match should be on Summerslam, Joe wins one of the most entertaining matches of the weekend.
Tomorrow we’ll take a look at the Summerslam card and give out our predictions for the “Hottest Event of the Summer”.
By Megan Suttles on ©August 17th, 2016 @ 9:00am
Amazon’s algorithm creepily predicts exactly what you will buy based off of what you have already purchased. Some magic wizard that lives up in the cloud knows what you like more than you do. But, what are some recommendations based off of things you don’t like? 2016 has been lousy with failed movies, overhyped reboots and general crappy nonsense. How can we learn from things that we didn’t like to help us pick out our new favorite piece of pop culture? Here are a few suggestions based off of some of 2016’s least favorite things.
Hated Any Given Wednesday? Try The Bill Simmons Podcast
Any Given Wednesday is a wonderful show, in theory. Sitting Bill Simmons and his ultra-blue eyes in front of a camera to comment on the state of sports in America sounds like a hit, but there is a severe disconnect. It is a swing and miss. Something about Simmons’ old references to Paris Hilton, unnecessary footage of his son’s wrestling moves and the inexplicable stack of coffee table books makes Any Given Wednesday feel like it can be any given show. Therefore, why even spend your quality couch time watching it?
If you keep Bill Simmons on your podcast rotation, then you can prepare dinner, walk the dog or purchase the groceries, all while hearing Simmons’ perspective.
You also don’t have to deal with the discomforting feeling of watching Ben Affleck go off the deep-end about Tom Brady and his deflated balls.
Hated Me Before You? Try The Fundamentals of Caring
Me Before You might not be considered a box-office failure, but the topic of the movie is infuriating. In the movie, Lou Clark (played by Emilia Clark of Game of Thrones Fame) falls in love with Will Traynor. The twist is that Traynor has been recently paralyzed and harbors a lot of resentment. Clark attempts to get him to see the brighter side of life as she tries to convince him not to kill himself. Spoiler Alert: He kills himself and I’m not entirely sure what this movie is trying to tell us about a man who has plenty of capabilities.
The Fundamentals of Caring is the exact opposite. Paul Rudd plays a caregiver who tries to help his patient enjoy every possible moment. It is the perfect antidote for the depressing pile of emotional pornography that is Me Before You.
Hated Zoolander 2? Try RuPaul’s Drag Race
Zoolander 2 is described as “joyless” and “offensively stupid.” I honestly don’t know anyone who saw it, so I will have to take The Atlantic’s word for it. If you are looking for a show that will serve you the fiercest Blue Steele and the most quoteable one liners, then you should just spend your time with RuPaul’s Drag Race (Ex. “Impersonating Beyoncé is not your destiny, child.”) There is nothing joyless about RuPaul and the segments might be stupid, but at least they aren’t offensive.
Hated Ghostbusters? Try Stranger Things
*(That is if you haven’t already)
There was a lot of noise leading up to the release of the newest addition to the Ghostbusters franchise. All of the uproar seemed to lead to a general consensus, the movie would have been much better if it had just been a movie about women who tried to rid the world of the paranormal, instead of a reboot of a classic. If the newest Ghostbusters gets you incensed, then a better alternative would be Stranger Things. This is not a new revelation. Stranger Things might be the most recommended thing in 2016, second only to bug spray in Rio. Stranger Things has everything that Ghostbusters lacked. There is an interesting plot. There are references to the 80s that are real and relevant. There is an ensemble cast that is excited and buzz worthy. Stranger Things is everything that Ghostbusters promised to be.
If you don’t like Stranger Things, then I honestly don’t have any suggestions for you.
On August 27, MoonTower Music Festival returns to Masterson Station for its third year. MoonTower has been the host to BBN favorites Sundy Best and this year promises to have its biggest show. Along with headline acts Manchester Orchestra, Drive By Truckers, and Trombone Shorty, the festival will feature music from many different genres like rock, jazz, bluegrass, alternative, and more. If you’re looking for a day to hang out with friends, drink a cold beer, eat some delicious local food, and listen to some good music then Moontower is the place you want to be. General admission tickets are $49, but if you order online using KSR Funkhouser’s own special promo code “KSR20” here you’ll land tix for only $30!
Doors open at 11:00 and you can bring your kids Be sure to come out hang out with the Funkhouser crew and be a part of the fun!
By Matthew Mahone on ©August 15th, 2016 @ 8:30am
In this Funkhouser series, I conduct spontaneous interviews with my daughters, “A” age 10 and “E” age 7, where they are shown an image of a theatrical movie poster and asked to share their insight in an attempt to decipher the forthcoming feature film’s plot.
Welcome to “Movie Posters Explained By Kids”.
The Edge of Seventeen (September 2016)
A: “This movie’s about a girl who’s seventeen, and she goes back in time to get young again, because she has a bunch of problems. Her Dad’s mean, and he won’t buy her a phone, even though all her friends have one, and he won’t let her do anything cool. So why won’t you buy me a phone, Dad? Oh, she also hates her car. I am not driving Elizabeth (family minivan) when I’m seventeen!”
E: “A girl and she’s seventeen who gets her first car. But she didn’t listen to her parents, and she drove her car with her sister in it, to the very edge of a cliff and went errrrrrrrtttt, right off the cliff. I jumped out of the car, but her sister was still in it, and she’s dead now. I bet she’s missing that car—it was really cool.”
Blair Witch (September 2016)
A: “About a witch that lives in the forest that attacks people and her name is Blair obviously!”
E: “She’s a witch that lives in the woods, but she’s a nice witch. Everyone thinks she’s mean ’cause the way she looks. She has a green face, a broom that she rides on, a pointy black hat with a yellow line and everyone hates her evil little laugh. It might be annoying and sometimes scary, but I’d be her friend, ’cause she probably doesn’t have one.”
31 (September 2016)
A: “Oh that’s creepy! The movie is about zombies and how they take over the world in an ice cream truck. The zombies have to eat people now that they ran out of every flavor of ice cream.”
E: “That’s like the ice cream truck that comes in our neighborhood Dad! That guy is creepy. Did they make a movie about him? Is he famous? He never stops for anyone, like ever. He just plays that weird music over-and-over-and-over again and speeds up anytime he sees us. Did Mom buy any ice cream at the store?” (Goes to fridge, making inaudible sounds…now she’s yelling at her sister for eating her ice cream)
Antibirth (September 2016)
A: “I don’t get it! Doesn’t make sense at all. My guess is, it will be dumb!”
E: “My guess is, I’m not gonna guess!”
Masterminds (September 2016)
A: “Easy. To me it looks like people that steal money from a bank, and they get rich, but they’re not that smart.”
E: (Crying) “A, why did you eat my ice cream, that’s not fair!”
A: “You know what’s not fair? Dad not buying me a phone! It’s not smart either.”
Ouija: The Origin of Evil (October 2016)
A: “About that creepy game, O-HI-O, or whatever it’s called, with that hole in the thing that moves. It’s not scary because my friend said its fake, just like the game Life.”
E: “The girl plays the game and gets sucked inside it just like Jumanji. Yeah, like scary Jumanji. I want to play that game.”
Bad Santa 2 (November 2016)
A: “Santa isn’t bad. This is a bad example, because he doesn’t act like that, Dad. This isn’t right.”
E: “Bad Santa gives coal to people and pees on your stuff at Christmas, when you’ve been bad. (Whispers how Bad Santa will do the same thing to her sister) He’s mean and he went crazy—cut his beard off and said, I Quit! His elf friend is there to help him clean up.”
“Coach Cal just tells you the truth more than anything…When Coach Cal came I was surprised because he told me something I didn’t want to hear and players did not want to hear.”
-Malik Monk, from CoachCal.com’s “Meet the Wildcats” series
“I was on the fence. I had offers from Memphis, Connecticut. Then Coach Cal came to my house. He told me that if I didn’t work hard for him I wouldn’t play, and that if the team didn’t work hard we wouldn’t win. And without that we’d have no shot at a championship. It was hard to hear, but motivating. It was the truth.”
-A. Goodwin, 2012
“I was thinking about transferring to Kentucky from Mississsippi State and Coach Cal told me like it was. He said ‘I’m not going to lie, Twany, if you come here you’re going to have to give it all you got. If you’re not going to, don’t come here. He just told me the truth, you know? At the end of the day, that’s what I needed.”
-T. Beckham, 2011
“I was recruited by Billy Gillispie, so I wasn’t sure how it would be when Coach Cal came on. But I liked him. I remember one day, the team was celebrating his birthday after practice, you know, like a surprise. I gave him a $25 gift card to Chili’s inside a card. I thought he would love it. He opened the card and said ‘I really don’t like Chili’s, does anyone want this?’ and no one responded so he tossed it on the ground. It was hard to hear, but he told the truth. He always did.”
-D. Orton, 2011
“I was going on a date and had to swing by the basketball offices to sign some paperwork. Coach Cal was there. He leaned back in his chair and looked me over. ‘That jacket’s not working with those pants,’ he said ‘it’s like, the jacket’s black and the pants are, like, a different shade of black.’ Then he said that I couldn’t pull off a turtleneck, he said a lot of guys can but I can’t because it puts too much accent on my neck. He said I look bad in a turtleneck. It wasn’t what I wanted to hear but I went straight back to the dorm and changed. I got a kiss that night.”
-N. Noel, 2013
“I remember we were practicing one day and Coach Cal pulled me aside. He said ‘Trey, I’m afraid of spiders. I’ve always been. Also, sometimes at night I feel really alone.’ I told him it was okay, we all feel that way sometimes. Then he got really quiet for a minute and said ‘Trey, when I was in the eighth grade, we were dissecting frogs and I threw mine at the chalkboard, and the teacher turned around and she thought this guy Clark Goolen did it and he got detention, and I never told her it was me, and I let him go to detention. It feels good to get that off my chest, Trey.’”
-T. Lyles, 2014
“One day Coach Cal asked me into his office and told me to have a seat. He told me it was time I knew something important, that there was a clandestine society of the world’s richest people and that they were secretly putting chemicals in the water of our nation’s major cities that would make us subservient, you know, to do what they say, and that some day they were going to turn us all into a super-army of killers, and that the chemicals will have weakened our minds so much we won’t be able to resist. That they’re just going to use us as brainwashed zombie soldiers to go to China and get their gold or something. He said he thought I needed to know. It was something I didn’t want to hear, but he told me the truth. He always tells the truth…I’ve stopped drinking tap water, I can tell you that.”
-I. Briscoe, 2015
By Josh Juckett on ©August 09th, 2016 @ 3:00pm
Hello friends and welcome to Funkhouser Book/Script Reviews, the premiere book/script review stop in all the land. Today’s topic: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, the final (according to JK Rowling) entry into the Harry Potter story. This will be a mostly spoiler-free review; however, there are some non-specific references to basic plot devices. If you haven’t read the book/script and don’t want to know anything at all before reading, you should stop now. If you’re on the fence about reading it and are looking for guidance, or if you’ve read it already, then let’s go.
I picked up The Cursed Child on its release day, anxious to discover what new adventures awaited in the wizarding world. It was a quick read and roughly six hours after I started it I was ready to listen to some Huey Lewis and the News. I liked The Cursed Child, but I think a more appropriate title would have been Harry Potter and the Flux Capacitor due to the heavy dose of Emmett Brown’s Back to the Future philosophy. The story centers around Harry’s youngest son, Albus, and his difficulty growing up under the weight of his father’s past. As a result of this burden, Albus decides to carve out his own legacy and the resulting adventure leads readers on a nostalgia-laden story which never quite finds its own footing.
By the time you reach the end of the first page, it’s clear The Cursed Child is not a book. Sure when you see it at the store it looks like a book. You thumb through and see it’s 308 pages so it might seem like a book. Then you start reading and it is not a book. The Cursed Child is the script for the play of the same name, and as such has drawn the ire of some readers. There are definite drawbacks to the script format compared to a book such as a lack of character development and story depth, especially when compared to the Harry Potter book series. I don’t say this to disparage The Cursed Child, but the distinction should not be taken for granted. The Cursed Child is not a Harry Potter book. That’s okay though, rather than expect a new Harry Potter book, The Cursed Child is simply the epilogue fans deserved the first time around.
The relationship between Harry and Albus is the foundation of the story. In a story filled with references to the books, the evolution of their relationship serves as an anchor to the present. Seeing Harry, who grew up fatherless, struggle with fatherhood along with Albus’ struggle to understand his dad provides a dynamic not familiar to the books. Sure, there were moments when characters like Sirius Black or Dumbledore tried to be a father figure for Harry; but those struggles were usually shown from Harry’s perspective. The Cursed Child presents a new and welcome side of Harry while introducing Albus for a new story. Harry and Albus provide the most original take in the script, but the real star of the show is past.
The best thing about The Cursed Child is, naturally, the return to the wizarding world. As I said before, the script is quite a walk down memory lane. Thanks to the Delorean-esque time turner,
Marty McFly Albus and his best pal, Scorpius Malfoy, are able to revisit previous Potter experiences in attempt to correct some perceived wrongs in the past. Surrounding the adventure are lot of familiar faces, such as Albus’ parents Harry and Ginny. Hermione and Ron also make appearances, as do a handful of other characters from the books. I won’t spoil who shows up and what their impact is, but for the most part the appearances work well with the exception of a couple which seemed a little out of character.
The downside to having so many characters show up in such a short story is that some of them will get the short end of the stick. Some characters, such as Ginny, have contributions to the story so minimal that their inclusion seems like little more than lip service to fans. This is certainly not a surprise and I didn’t really mind it, but it does cheapen the appearance of some characters. A common criticism of the script is that it resembles fan-fiction where many of the characters are involved. Again, I won’t share spoilers but there are many “this could have happened” moments in the script which comes off as pandering to fans.
There are also times when writers John Tiffany and Jack Thorne seem adamant in pointing out that our heroes from the books are no longer teenagers. In one scene, Harry discusses being “off sugar”and it made me feel a little old myself. I admire their commitment to realism, but in a story full of magic I can’t imagine the wizard who defeated the most powerful dark wizard of all time being too horribly concerned with eating a piece of toffee. That type of character development might have a place in a book where it might be given more context, but in a script it just comes off as forced.
Those who pick up
The Flux Capacitor The Cursed Child expecting another Harry Potter book will be disappointed. The lack of depth and development don’t lend itself to the quality level of the books, but the object for the writers was to write a stage play. If someone picked up the scripts for the Harry Potter movies they would experience the same disappointment. To those who are upset about plot holes concerning the rules of time travel, the story has the ultimate plot armor: magic, which means anything is possible. As I mentioned earlier, The Cursed Child serves much more as an extended epilogue than its own stand-alone story, and that’s okay. Between the Pottermore site and now this, there is ample information about Harry’s life post-Battle of Hogwarts. There are no crazy revelations or mysteries to be unraveled, just readers seeing how Harry’s life impacts Albus, and how that impact could potentially affect the entire history of wizarding world. That’s the power of love.
Gen Con 2016 is gone and over, just as quickly as it approached Indianapolis over this past Thursday-Sunday weekend. Just as it happens every year, the excitement for the new crop of cardboard filled the Indiana Convention Center. I only got to spend one, eight-hour day in the convention hall, but I tried to see as much as I possibly could. So, here are some news & notes from Gen Con 2016.
Make Friends Early
When you only get one day at Gen Con, and specifically Thursday, you are bound to have a very early start to your day. I left my house in Cincinnati at 3:15 in the morning to get to the press pass line as early as possible. The way media passes work at Gen Con, the first 90 media members to pick up their press badges get a ticket to get one hour early access to the vendor hall, along with all of the “Very Important Gamers” (VIG) and store owners. This single hour is very important to be able to get one-on-one access to designers, companies, and the opportunity to see games before the mass crowd enters the convention hall. Arriving at 5:15, I was the third person in line. With two hours of time to wait, I was able to meet some new people, Chris, Jimmy and Philip from Baltimore, who have a couple of podcasts between the three of them. About 6:00, our friends from Blue Peg, Pink Peg arrived, making the next hour and a half pass pretty quickly. Side note: make sure if you’re driving two hours to a convention, and you need ID… Bring ID… Because I did not. Luckily I got in with a voided Kentucky drivers license from about five years ago. Otherwise, this report wouldn’t have happened.
There was also controversy before the doors even opened. After receiving our early entry tickets, we have to move from one side of the building to the other to wait in another line for about an hour. During that time, while waiting in the usual line, a second line on the other side of the hallway began to form. People at the front of our line began to get visibly upset that these “new line” people were going to get in ahead of them. Yelling and shouting ensued. Apparently people saw a handicapped line, which would feed into the main line, and assumed it was a second line. Oh man, were people mad.
— Richmond Bramblet (@rbramblet) August 4, 2016
So, what did Gen Con decide was the best option to deal with this second line? Did they make them turn around and get in the back of the main line. Nope! Let’s just push the two lines together in to one mega line.
— Richmond Bramblet (@rbramblet) August 4, 2016
It all worked out fine though and everyone was happy in the end, but man, it got tense for a bit.
Make Decisions on What You Think You Can’t Live Without
When the doors open to the convention hall, it is a mad rush to try and buy whatever games you want before the sea of humanity engulfs your favorite company’s table. It’s an interesting thing to be in the middle of. With the one hour early ticket that I got, you have time to bounce between booths to snatch up a couple of the games that you really wanted. Robb from Blue Peg, Pink Peg made his way to the SeaFall booth early, only to be told that they aren’t selling any copies to media until 10AM. I’m not sure if he got his copy, but he was definitely still there at 10 AM with a gold coin in his hand.
In that opening hour, I was able to pick up a couple of games that will be seeing reviews here on Funkhouser including games I mentioned in my Gen Con Preview – Last Friday, America and Cry Havoc. These games will not be out to the public until late August or early September, so we will give you previews of these games as quickly as we possibly can. After the main doors opened at 10:00 AM, these games went quickly. Last Friday and Cry Havoc both sold out before the end of the con, Cry Havoc on the first day. The Networks, a game we reviewed after Origins, also sold out, among many, many other games. The first 30 minutes of Gen Con is all about calculating your wants and where you think you have the best opportunity to get a game that you know you’re going to want, and would be willing to miss out on other purchases if you have to wait in line.
I also had a nice surprise in seeing a college friend who works for Bananagrams made her way to the convention. Bananagrams has a partnered to distribute games from a British company called Big Potato Games. They are specializing in party games that are exclusively being distributed at Target. Games like Obama Llama, Mr. Lister’s Quiz Shootout and Scrawl. We’ve got a couple of these games and will let you know what we think of them once we get them played. Looking forward most to Scrawl, which is an adult party game close to Telestrations, which is essentially “telephone” in drawing form.
A good portion of day one, especially if you only have one day at Gen Con is going to be spent trying to sit down and demo some games that are either just being released on day one -OR- previews of games that haven’t been released yet. I took about an hour of my eight hour day to sit down and play a round of the new Ticket To Ride game “Ticket To Ride – Rails and Sails”. In this new version of TTR, you have access to both trains and ships, where you still need to connect the necessary routes based on the train ticket cards you draw. Two maps come with the game, one is a world map, which connects from either side of the board, and the other is a map of the great lakes region (which according to people who I was playing with who live in that area, isn’t overly to scale). The game was OK, not something that I would encourage people to seek out at the $80 price tag.
The game itself is almost too fiddly for what Ticket to Ride is supposed to be. You separate the train and ship cards into different draw stacks, but can choose to fill the six card array with either card after you draw one. Then when you make discard piles, you have to remember to separate the train and ship cards into their own specific discard piles. The cards themselves are hard enough to figure out the difference between the two cards, and the iconography on the card for that is WAY too small. I found myself during the game just looking at my cards when planning routes going, “OK, I have three yellows, wait, one of those is a train, the other is a ship and a double ship, so I can’t go that way.” It took the speed out of what is a pretty good entry level game, and added time, not into strategy, but trying to figure out what kind of cards you had in your hand. There are some other added rules to the game which I thought brought a nice flavor, but I don’t really have much of a desire to play this one again, and that’s a shame.
Lastly, Take Time To Just Walk Around and See The Ridiculousness that is Gen Con
There are so many things going on inside (and outside) of the convention hall that it’s hard sometimes to put into words. You have Cosplayers, mega sized board games, people playing games in the hall, in side rooms, on random couches. Gen Con is a dream place to be if you are a lover of board games, even if it is stressful and overwhelming at times. But what is cool is that, through the weekend, you’re surrounded by 60,000+ individuals who share the same love for the hobby that you do, and are willing to hang out for four days around the crazy sights of Gen Con. If I had to choose between Gen Con and Origins, I choose Origins, mainly because it’s a convention to PLAY games. Gen Con is amazing for just the fact to SEE games. Sure you get to demo from time to time, but if your plan is to take in every bit of Gen Con, you’re going to see a lot of games and only get to play a few during the day.
But, as a whole, Gen Con earns its reputation as the best attended gaming convention in the world, and I look forward to making an appearance at 2017, the 50th annual Gen Con. But until then, enjoy some pictures from the Gen Con floor, and we’ll have game previews and reviews for you soon from what we picked up at the convention.
Last Chance U shows one junior college football team’s pursuit for a national championship. It shows how you can easily love and hate a head coach. Last Chance U clearly defines which part of the human anatomy a coach must embody to win games. It shows how much student athletes care about working in the classroom and on the field. Last Chance U shows how players and coaches attempt to navigate the inevitable grey areas between the violent hits before and after the whistle.
I don’t believe these revelations will shock anyone. What is shocking is that Last Chance U also shows, better than anything else, what it looks like to be a teacher in 2016.
Movies like Stand and Deliver, Freedom Writers and Dangerous Minds all attempt to give you the perspective of a teacher. All of those movies are a glossier version of what an actual classroom is like. Even the scenes that were supposed to be gritty, like Michelle-Pfeiffer-in-a-leather-jacket-gritty, don’t seem to capture how overwhelming it can feel when you are standing in front of thirty-two unique faces with thirty-two unique frustrations.
If every story needs a hero, then Last Chance U’s heroine is Brittany Wagner. Like all teachers her desk is usually covered in paperwork and a half-eaten snack. I knew she was a real teacher when I saw her cutting manilla folders in half. I have no clue what she was going to do with separated folders, but real teachers repurpose all of their supplies. She is like no teacher I have ever seen on screen. Wagner is more like Leigh Anne Tuohy, from The Blindside, but with a filthier mouth.
Ms. Wagner’s office looks like a typical teacher’s set-up. She has embraced the chalkboard wall decal trend. The wall behind her desk is littered with selfies with Ms. Wagner. (Did you notice the picture of her and ZaDarius Smith?) What is different than some classrooms are the conversations. She has to explain that Joy Behar is a woman and that garbage men don’t make “a band or two a week.” She is constantly fighting the battle that every teacher is challenged with, trying to understand the brain of teenager. She tends to begin her questions with this phrase, “Explain to me the mentality…” Explain why you quit when something doesn’t go your way. Explain why you are afraid to put forth effort. Are you afraid of failing? Explain under what circumstances would anyone name a man, “Joy.” Student athletes have to do a lot of explaining to Ms. Wagner.
There is a moment in Freedom Writers when Hillary Swank’s character tells the students that she is not “anyone’s mother here.” Wagner takes mothering to a whole different level. She has to explain what it’s like to be in a committed relationship to the players. Her job is to check on the player’s attendance. She helps them get over their fear of flying. She seems to be a mother to an entire football team. Wagner even says, “I cry in December and then I cry in May…it’s like losing children.” She does more mothering than Carol Brady.
Putting educators on screen can get cheesy. It’s an easy profession to fake sincerity. What’s not easy to fake is consistency. Throughout the docuseries, Wagner consistently checks on her athletes, mothers her students and disciplines them accordingly. This week, preseason for school ends for most students and teachers throughout our state. Many Ms. Wagners will wake up, pack their snacks that will go half-eaten and drive to their decal-walled classrooms. They will fight the battles of missing pencils and students almost literally glued to their devices. It’s a battle that is not as interesting as a bench clearing brawl on the football field, but it is definitely a fight worth fighting.