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Kentucky Thrones Radio: Episode 2

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What a time to be alive.  Season Six started strong but only got better in “Home.”  T.J. Walker and I celebrate the events from episode two and connect the dots that lie deep within the storyline.  I know you got excited after watching, so continue to build on that momentum by listening to the second episode of Kentucky Thrones Radio.  Highlights:

—  R + L = J

—  T.J. gets out his dog in honor of Ramsey’s dogs.

—  Dragons and head-smashing deaths.

—  The High Sparrow is the Bernie Sanders of King’s Landing.

To listen, just subscribe to “Kentucky Sports Radio” on iTunes or stream on Podbay.


Mark it, Dude!  This Summer Louisville’s Lebowski Fest Celebrates 15 Years

Mark it, Dude! This Summer Louisville’s Lebowski Fest Celebrates 15 Years

 

Courtesy of Lebowski Fest


Dude, you got a sec?  Cool.  Uh, well, um, I’ve been thinking, LOO-A-VUL oughta change its name to Festaville, because, uh, it seems like every other week there’s some type of an event.  “What in God’s holy name are you blathering about?”  I’ll tell you what man, by my estimation, I count at least 108 festivals, events, and/or parades in the city including:  the recently held Thunder Over Louisville and GonzoFest, as well as upcoming Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby Celebrations and even the groovy Forecastle Festival.  One event you might have overlooked is actually right in your back yard.  This summer Lebowski Fest, is celebrating 15 years of exalting all things Dude, in Louisville, Kentucky on July 8th and 9th.  As I wrote in March, “the term ‘dude’ is commonly agreed to refer to both genders.  Most linguists contend that ‘Dudette’ is not in keeping with the parlance of our times”, so all are welcome, even amateurs.  Inspired by the Coen brothers cult-film, The Big Lebowski, the two-day event is something to experience, and I wouldn’t be living up to my duties as an Ordained Dudeist Priest if I didn’t spread the Dude’s gospel.

The Festival Abides

In the fall of 2002, founding members Will Russell and Scott Shuffitt, along with fellow Achievers Bill Green and Ben Peskoe rolled out the first inaugural Lebowski Fest by procuring a cheap Louisville bowling establishment to hold the event.  They began to spread the word to every:  deadbeat, nihilist, stoner, fascist, avant-garde artist, accomplished goldbricker, bum, trophy-wife and stranger, they could find.  Expecting a low turnout, the event actually drew over 150 people, and over the years it spread.  While headquartered in Louisville, Lebowski Fest has been held in cities across our great land including:  Chicago, Los Angeles, and Austin as well as international cities across Europe.  Huh!  I know right?  I bet that “hadn’t ever occurred to you, man…er, sir!”

Day one entails an outdoor showing of the cult-classic that inspired it all, The Big Lebowski.  All ages are welcome, so bring your chairs, rugs, blankets, and what-have-you.  However, fair warning to the parents of all the Little Lebowski Urban Achievers out there, the movie does contain some occasional sexual humor, brief violence that some might find distrubing, mild drug references and partaking, and yes, (earmuffs) profanity.  In fact, the number of “F” bombs uttered on screen clocks in at a staggering 260 times.  That’s more F’s than:  The Departed, Eddie Murphy’s Raw, and Good Will Hunting, but less than F***:  The Documentary, Casino, and Straight Outta Compton.  Music will be provided by the Chicago based band Black Bear Combo which will be lively for sure.

Day two really ties the festival together by hosting a bowling party complete with Dude-ish trivia, games, and everyone’s favorite, “I like yer style”, Lebowski-themed costume contest.  To avoid looking like an amateur, do your homework, and rewatch the film before you go to familiarize yourself with the cast of characters from the main ones to the lesser knowns and such.  Make your costume as creative as possible by stealing your mom’s dingy bathrobe, breaking out the paper-mâché, rocking the red spandex…far out man!  Whether you’re going as:  Larry Sellers, the Dude, Brandt, Walter, Jesus, or even a bowling pin, make it fun and have “a few “burgers, a few beers, a few laughs….your troubles will be over.”

Photo courtesy of Lebowski Fest

Courtesy of Lebowski Fest

Tickets went on sale this past Saturday, April 30th, and I’m not sure you realize it dude, but today is already May 2nd, so if you want to attend Lebowski Fest you might want to….well, you know.  They’d love it if you came out, so unless you already agreed to critique your landlord’s dance quintet performance at Crane Jackson’s Fountain Street Theatre those two days, you should attend.  Just slip your payment under the door.  On second thought dude, it might be better to go online and purchase them on the Lebowski Fest website here.

Take ‘er easy.


Anxious patrons await the start of the Longines Kentucky Oaks race on May 1, 2015 at Churchill Downs in Louisville. The Oaks and the Derby are the oldest continuously contested sporting events in history.

We Asked, You Answered: Your Favorite Derby Memories

Anxious patrons await the start of the Longines Kentucky Oaks race on May 1, 2015 at Churchill Downs in Louisville. The Oaks and the Derby are the oldest continuously contested sporting events in history.

Hello, Friends. You’re looking well. Hey, gimme five. WHAT ARE YOU DOING? Stop trying to kiss me, you weirdo. Haven’t you ever given someone five before?

Friends, it’s Derby season in the Bluegrass. That magical time when the flowers bloom and our own regal Commonwealth pastime shines in the spotlight. If you’ve lived in Kentucky for any amount of time you have a favorite Derby memory. A couple of weeks ago I asked for you to email me your own special Derby memories, and you didn’t disappoint. It was great reading all of your notes and I wanted to share some of my favorites here today.

 

——–

“I remember being in the infield in 2004 when the pack flew by. I was holding my one year-old son and Smarty Jones came barreling past, ahead of the pack. I remember the look on my son’s face, the smile as he saw the horses. I’ll never forget that.”
-Neil S., Paducah

——

“In 2008 my friend Brent had box seat tickets for the Derby, we were all pretty excited to go; it was many of our first time. Brent picked us up that morning, we put on some tunes and we got on I-65. About two hours later Brent got off on the Munfordville exit and pulled into an empty parking lot. ‘Oh no, guys,’ he said, ‘this isn’t Churchill Downs. It’s an old burned out Mexican restaurant. And these aren’t Derby box seat tickets, they’re McDonald’s Monopoly pieces I peeled off my food yesterday. I’m really sorry.’ I’ve never punched someone so hard in the face. And I’d do it again.”
-Peter A., Elizabethtown

—–

“I had just finished the second Charlie’s Angels movie and someone asked me if I wanted to go to the Derby. Of course I did! A limo picked me up and took me to a private airport, where a jet took me cross country, and another limo picked me up and took me to a suite where I hung out with Kid Rock and the cast of Will & Grace and I had, like, two steaks and almost a whole bottle of champagne. Then I went to another party and someone gave me a new computer and some jewelry just for being there. I still don’t know what state I was in or what the Derby is, but it was a great day.”
-Cameron D., Los Angeles

—–

“I remember in 1994, my family took my grandfather to the Derby. He had been to eighteen Kentucky Derbys in his lifetime, the event always held a special place for him. Now he was old, probably almost ninety, and halfway through the day he started ranting about how some day we’d all have little computers in our pockets and how Donald Trump might be the president, and then he kept arguing that Pluto wasn’t a planet. Because of that a few days later we put him in a home and I never went to see him again. Looking back, I feel pretty bad about that now.”
-Chad M., Hopkinsville

——-

“My favorite Kentucky Derby is every Kentucky Derby, because I’m a stripper in Louisville. A couple of years ago I made enough money to an airplane – an entire airliner, actually – and last year I bought enough stock to own a controlling interest in General Mills. I feel really good about our Q3 earnings for 2016.”

-Cinnamon T., Louisville

——–

“I was at the bar getting a mint julep when I heard giggling behind me. I turned around to see Derby and Preakness winner War Emblem hitting on my wife; he was telling her about how he had a lake house or something and she was eating it up. We had a huge fight that night about it and she stormed out. A few months later our marriage was over. Looking back on that night, I realize now that all I did was drive her right into that horse’s arms. I’d give anything to have Diane back again.”
-Dan L., Georgetown


Walmart Enters Fray, Changes Bathroom Policy

Walmart Enters Fray, Changes Bathroom Policy

Bentonville, AR (KSR)

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Early this morning, retail conglomerate Walmart jumped into the debate about bathroom choice for transgender employees and patrons, following last week’s announcement by rival Target, and the ensuing controversy. Not to be left behind, Walmart notified media outlets that they would soon add “Gender Check” machines in all retail stores. In a recorded statement Walmart CMO Tony Rogers said that he considered this to be the logical and pragmatic solution.

“This way everyone knows their gender, right? I think not only will this clear up any bathroom confusion for the individual, it’ll help put parents and others at ease. It’s a very simple machine. You simply pull the band of your pants out, put your genitals under the scanner, and your gender will pop up on the screen. Then, if you have a hot dog, you mosey on over to the men’s toilet and, if you have a taco, it’s the women’s toilet for you. See? Simple.”

The rollout of “Gender Check” is set to begin next few months with some stores seeing machines as early as June. Failure to use the proper restroom will be treated and prosecuted in a manner similar to shoplifting, according to a corporate press release. The release went on to say that, in the event of an equipment malfunction, a designated Walmart employee would use the TSA method to make any required Gender determinations.

In stark contrast to the Target announcement, Walmart’s release was met with a mixture of reticence and confusion. A representative of the AFA (American Family Association), told the AP she supposed it could be a good thing saying, “I mean, if those lasers work I guess it’ll do the job. They’re not going to burn our privates right? Have they said if the lasers are safe?”

The ACLU of Arkansas also released a statement that read, “While we prepare to research the legality of Walmart’s new bathroom policy, we would recommend consumers not expose the flesh of their genitals to lasers. Seriously. It hurts.”

[UPDATED: 9:08 AM]

In response to concerns espoused by the AFA, ACLU, and others, Walmart says they will add Great Value Burn Cream dispensers to both the Men’s and Women’s toilets.


Review: Keanu

Review: Keanu

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Comic duo Key & Peele have, by now, earned what’s theirs. In the Comedy Central arena of programming, where many comedians enter and few survive, the pair didn’t have the “immediate next big thing”-ism of an Amy Schumer, nor did they have an at-the-ready army of cult soldiers like Hannibal Buress (whose show, by the way, was terrible). Instead, they were born of comic institutions like Second City and Amsterdam’s BOOM Chicago, clicked together during their four overlapping years on a declining MAD TV and came into the Comedy Central universe having to earn every laugh. Much of their chemistry during their tenure their relied on the team’s innate likeability, so it should be no surprise that their first feature film together, Keanu, trades an awful lot on that very same factor.

It should also come as no surprise, if you’ve ever watched their sketch show Key & Peele, that Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele are nothing if not subversive experts at skewering not only racial and ethnic stereotypes but the interactions between those of differing social and racial classes. It’s on that foundation that Keanu thrives, propelled by the sharp abilities of the pair and a seemingly endless parade of jokes at the expense of these differences.

But let’s start at the beginning, as an adorable kitten escapes a bloodbath as a drug ring is set upon by two mysterious and seemingly indestructible assassins. The kitten makes its way to the front door of the depressed Rell (Peele), whose girlfriend has just left him. He takes the kitten as a sign of hope and names it Keanu, turning all his attention to it until his home is mistakenly ransacked by the purveyors of another drug ring, who take a liking to the kitten and decide to keep it for themselves.

The ensuing course of the film takes place over the course of the next 24 hours, as Rell and his square, corporate trainer family man cousin Clarence (Key) set out to reclaim the kitten only to be mistaken for the aforementioned deadly pair of assassins, a misunderstanding they further by actively pretending to be that pair as they believe this intimidation to be the key to retrieving the stolen kitty. The first half of the film mines its comedy from the spectacle of the two decidedly non-urban men trying to pass themeselves off as such to an intimidating drug dealer (Method Man) and his crew, a spectacle which initially involves simply using the N-word. A lot. Clarence begins to revel in his new alter ego as Rell grows increasingly worrisome about the ruse and the situations the two find themselves begin to rachet up to frightening, real-life levels of violence and threat.

Unsurprisingly, what Key & Peele have constructed in Keanu is essentially a clever long-form version of a basic sketch premise, and what’s amazing is that it actually works. Why it works, however, is a real comic feat: the two seem to deftly switch the role of straight man back and forth — sometimes almost literally from one scene to the next — and turn up the levels of each character alternately so one always remains the grounded conscience of each interaction with the real-world bad guys. Clarence begins to relish his new role as “Shark Tank” and cranks up the showmanship as Rell’s “Tectonic” worries quietly about being discovered, but when Clarence has his moments of soccer dad clarity Rell steps up to keep the ball rolling. Each gets his share of great scenes; Peele’s Rell gets to concoct a terrifying tale of his character’s capabilities during an encounter in the Hollywood Hills while Key’s Clarence conducts a corporate training exercise with a team of seasoned drug dealers. It’s fun to watch the pair juggle these moments back and forth as Keanu speeds toward its inevitable bloody climax.

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On a racial and class level, the film walks almost the same tightrope. It’s clear from the onset that the extent Clarence and Rell know of the world into which they’re venturing is what they’ve seen and heard while watching action movies set in blood-soaked, drug-fueled urban jungles, which means nearly everything they do or say seems to channel a stereotype of ethnic action films (case in point: the film’s feline macguffin Keanu himself has three different names — Keanu, New Jack or Iglesias — depending upon the ethnicity of the character in possession of him at any given time). And the culture shocks work both ways; one scene has Clarence indoctrinating a team of young gangsters in the milquetoast oeuvre of George Michael as Rell, only yards away, witnesses true, sobering violence firsthand. The fairly definitive lines between classes are constantly crossed back and forth by the film’s characters, a path the pair of comedians have often seamlessly tread on their television show. Even the film’s sole caucasian, Will Forte, turns in a kooky, cornrowed spin on Gary Oldman’s character Drexl from True Romance.

At the end of the day, however, Keanu needs to be funny, and it is. It’s the type of film that could bring the duo above-board even more as unindoctrinated fans discover how great their chemistry works and, if the right audiences find it, the film could be a huge hit. It’s got great, quotable lines, immensely accessible leads in Key and Peele and a clever, sustained plot that I daresay even blurs into an actual action film in the final reel.

Plus, it’s got a kitty cat. And that kitty cat’s adorable. So all the bases are covered.


It’s Gonna Be May

It’s Gonna Be May

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I’m ready to say goodbye to April. This month has been thirty days of inconsistent weather. I’ve had “Purple Rain” stuck in my head for six days and the whole month has been a constant countdown to Game of Thrones. Justin Timberlake knew that May is always the best month of the year. Here are a few things to look forward to in the upcoming month.

May 1: Drake releases his new brand of bourbon that no one requested.

May 2: Everyone forgets that Drake released a new brand of bourbon.

May 3: Indiana holds its primary election where candidates pander to the Hoosiers by pretending to like their candy-striped pants.

May 4: Some loco person begins saving seats for Cinco De Mayo

May 5: This day is the perfect combination of Taco Thursday & Cinco de Mayo. #DoubleRainbow

May 6: Captain America: Civil War makes it easier to spot nerds. (Hint: They are the people insisting that it is The Avengers and not just Captain America.)

May 7: Chiropractors rejoice! Women everywhere will pretend they have the neck strength to hold up a fabulous derby hat.

May 8: Mothers everywhere gently suggest that you are a little too old for “free hugs coupons” as Mother’s Day presents.

May 9: Netflix’s Price Increases by one dollar. Prepare for angry Facebook posts.

May 10: Jay-Z drops his own “visual album” called Spilling the Tea.  No one is very impressed.

May 11: The Cannes Film Festival begins. We will all look forward to seeing actors and actresses attempt to dress “European.”

May 12: National Nutty Fudge Day! Gross.

May 13: Kelly Ripa severs the cord between her and Michael Strahan. I’m unsure how I will cope without all of their sexual tension.

May 14: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Weezer and Garbage are playing at a KROQ weenie roast. 2000 called, they want their bands back.

May 15: The Simpsons are going to do a live Twitter reading. They’ve really done it all, haven’t they?

May 16: The Odd Couple airs an episode titled: “Chess Nuts.” Possibly the best pun I’ve seen in awhile.

May 17: Megyn Kelly will interview Donald Trump. This interview is about as unnecessary as the “y” in Megyn’s name.

May 18: The last episode ever of Royal Pains. It wasn’t going to win any Emmy’s, but I’m not going to lie, I didn’t hate it.

May 19: Conversely, the last episode of Grey’s Anatomy, for this season.  I’m beginning to think it is time for the doctors to hang up the ol’ stethoscope.

May 20: The Angry Birds Movie debuts. I still can’t believe this is a thing.

May 21: The next Blue Moon. Time to complete all your “once in a blue moon” activities.

May 22: Billboard Music Awards are presented. People continue to ask, “the billboards are still a thing?”

May 23: The Price is Right will air at 8pm.  It will be like you’re home sick, but it’s during prime time!

May 24: Bill Cosby will be thrown back into the spotlight with his preliminary hearing.

May 25: National Wine Day! Which is slightly more exciting than National Whine Day.

May 26: Sally Ride Day!

May 27: On this day, the Disney channel will run a marathon of all of their original movies.  Sign me up for Wish upon a star.  It reminds me of the days when people liked Katherine Heigl.

May 28: The National Enquirer will try its hand at the true crime docu-series format. Here’s hoping they have fabulous puns as their episode titles.

May 29: Hopefully by this Sunday in May, Game of Thrones has revealed Jon Snow’s fate and I will be able to rest easy once again.

May 30: History Teachers Rejoice! Roots remake airs on this date!

May 31: AMC tries to capture the magic of Mad Men and Breaking Bad with their next drama, Feed the Beast.   Hopefully, I will no longer equate David Schwimmer’s face with Robert Kardashian’s.

April showers brings May flowers, but it also brings holidays celebrating female astronauts, unrequested remakes of classic films and unnecessary celebrity brands of bourbon.


Introducing Kentucky Thrones Radio

Introducing Kentucky Thrones Radio

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For those that get lost in the lands of Westeros each Sunday night, KSR is introducing a new way to continue that passion after each episode leaves you hanging — Kentucky Thrones Radio.  Each week I will be joined by fellow fan and avid book-reader, T.J. Walker, to discuss and dissect the episode to help you handle the chaos.

We will begin each episode by talking about the insanity from Sunday night, followed by a few segments that will get you thinking, and hopefully, laughing.  After a few technicalities, we are rolling, with new episodes hitting the site each Monday.  Here are highlights from the first:

—  The hoops I had to jump through just to watch the first episode.

—  How long will Jon Snow be dead?

—  The killshot of the week.

—  The worst nude scene in the history of television

—  Iron Throne Power Rankings.

To listen, just subscribe to “Kentucky Sports Radio” on iTunes or stream on Podbay.


Game of Thrones Season Six Episode One “The Red Woman” Review

Game of Thrones Season Six Episode One “The Red Woman” Review

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Well that certainly was…something.  The season six premiere of Game of Thrones suffered from some periodic pacing issues, but overall the return the Westeros was mostly fulfilling.  There were some good set pieces, some unexpected emotion, and one giant WTF! moment.  The overwhelming sense coming out of the “The Red Woman” was “wait and see”, as the pawns in the game were positioned for another season.

So let’s start at the end.  Hopefully you’ve recovered from that little surprise.  When Melisandre takes off that necklace it was startling to see the camera pan back to her and see the face of an old woman.  The emotion in that face was so sad, which brought a certain vulnerability to the character that hadn’t been present before.  It was a wonderfully acted sequence until the camera continued panning out.  If only they had stopped there and not panned out further!  I get that GoT likes to go for “moments”, but I think this one overshadowed the greater point, which was that Melisandre appears to doubt everything now.  Melisandre is the most likely link to Jon Snow returning, especially with Alliser Thorne and the Night’s Watch preparing to go through Davos and company to get Jon’s body.  As such, Melisandre has become one of the cruxes of the show.

melisandre

Other emotional displays which were a bit unexpected were littered throughout the episode.  The opening scene at The Wall was stolen by some unexpected emotion from Thorne.  When addressing the Night’s Watch Thorne admitted his treachery and gave an impassioned speech defending it.  To be honest, I thought he defended the assassination quite well, arguing that Jon’s actions placed the Night’s Watch at risk.  Thorne also gives Jon some credit, declaring that Jon did only what he thought was the right thing.  In essence, Thorne was merely doing what he thought was right as well.

Psychopath Ramsay Bolton also showed a new emotion, sadness.  After discovering the body of Myranda, which Theon had shoved off a wall, Bolton was actually sad with her death.  It wasn’t a complete 180 turn as he was fine with feeding her body to the hounds, he not only was sad about the death but promised revenge.  A bit later Bolton is also reminded of his tenuous status as heir to his father Roose, and there was obvious trepidation there as well.

There were some strong moments throughout the episode.  Sansa and Theon’s rescue by my favorite buddy comedy pair Brienne and Podrick was the most enjoyable sequence of the episode.  As Bolton’s men surround Sansa and Theon there was a palpable tension considering we knew the consequences of them being captured.  The other buddy comedy pair which I’ve come to enjoy is Tyrion and Varys who are now the Sherlock and Watson of Meereen.  Together they attempt to uncover the mysteries of the city while trying to stay one step ahead of those pesky Sons of the Harpy.  These storylines look to provide the best bang for your buck in terms of great acting, humor, and overall plot movement.

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Speaking of plot movement, the Dorne storyline may very well be done.  The death of Prince Doran and his son at the hands of the Sand Snakes may be a prelude to an all-out assault to avenge Oberyn’s death.  Given that Myrcella was killed in season five, I am more inclined to think that this effectively ends Dorne’s involvement.  Jaime and Cersei seem much more inclined to tend to the issues in King’s Landing which makes Dorne a moot point.  While the King’s Landing and Dorne scenes may have provided closure, I would’ve rather seen more from the other arcs.

The same sort of “meh” which surrounded King’s Landing and Dorne also infiltrated the scenes involving Daenerys, Margaery, and Arya.  All of these sequences were far too short to glean much from.  There was nothing new in the scenes from a character perspective as all three displayed traits we are used to seeing.  These scenes reacquainted viewers with each character’s current situation, but offered nothing else.

This was the biggest issue with the episode overall.  In the 50ish minutes of the episode there were eight scene jumps and about thirteen story jumps.  The result was that no story line got nearly enough screen time and nothing was really fleshed out.  Hopefully this is due to first episode syndrome in which the first episode tries to follow up on all the loose threads of the previous finale.  Director Jeremy Podeswa had some leeway to work with though, as he is also the director for the next episode.  Based on the look ahead after the episode, some of these lesser visited storyline will be strengthened next week and we will get our first look in a long time at Bran.

Despite its plot jumpiness, “The Red Woman” was a solid 7/10.  As the season progresses I suspect we’ll see storylines converge and the scope narrow.  Sansa’s motley crew and the Meereen mystery are the highlight of the episode, but the intrigue at The Wall is what everyone will be curious about.

 

 


Remembering Prince Through His Least Memorable Album (Or Should I Say Cassette?)

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“All hail, the new king in town
Young and old, gather ’round, (yeah)
Black and white, red and green, (funky)
The funkiest man, you’ve ever seen”

Like most of the world, I was shocked and saddened when I heard the news that Prince, one of the great immortals of the music world, had passed away late last week.  In my lifetime, I can vividly remember a handful of transcendent musicians whose deaths, like Prince’s, have rocked me to the core:  Freddie Mercury, Michael Jackson and David Bowie, to name a few.  Since bursting onto the scene in 1978, Prince was always an enigma.  He captivated audiences young and old, in the euphonious sense, with his subtlety-overt sexually-charged lyrics and seductive stage presence. Prince was the ultimate entertainer, and like all memorable artists, he had a look which could be best described as ethereal, yet part of Prince’s uniqueness, was that he purposefully kept audiences guessing: about his age, his sexuality, even his gender at times.  He deeply despised labels and conforming to societal norms, continually redefining his appearance, always keeping an androgynous form, with a swagger and attitude, that seemed to surge beyond the constraints of his 5 feet, 2 inch frame.  But make no mistake, while you cannot separate the showmanship and the evolving look from his persona, at his core, Prince was a musical innovator, a multi-talented instrumentalist, singer-songwriter, producer, actor and baller’.  He could do it all.  And it’s this versatility that makes him an enduring iconic symbol.

In 1989, I was 14 years old, and by that time, Prince had already experienced success with major hits: “Little Red Corvette” (’83), “Delirious” (’83),“When Doves Cry” (’84), “Purple Rain” (’84), “Let’s Go Crazy” (’84), “Raspberry Beret” (’85), “Kiss” (’86), my own personal favorite “U Got the Look” (’87), and “Sign ‘O’ the Times” (’87) in the Billboard Hot 100 list.  However, it wasn’t until the release of Tim Burton’s 1989 mega-blockbuster superhero film Batman, which starred Michael Keaton in the title role and legendary actor, Jack Nicholson as the Joker, that I really became fascinated with Prince.  Now, while I enjoyed Prince’s songs, I wasn’t “seasoned” enough to really understand the whole sexual vibe he was throwing out, or the erotic metaphors embodied in his songs.  The late 80’s were a time of excess:  big hair and perms (everyone seemed to tease the hell out of their hair, the bigger the better), clothing was baggy with vivid and bold colors, suits and shirts with oversized shoulder pads, acid-washed and pleated jeans (pegged) with two levels of belt loops…I could keep going, however, some things were meant to be forgotten.  No one complemented the fashions of that decade like the flamboyant styling and wardrobes of Prince.  So when director Tim Burton and Warner Bros. asked the Purple One to record a soundtrack for the highly-anticipated film Batman you can imagine I was intrigued.  Everyone had Batman fever in the 80’s, and I was no different.  Gone was the campy, swinging 60’s version of Batman portrayed by Adam West (“Remember the Batusi?”) which my generation loathed. The 80’s Batman played by Keaton, was darker and edgier, similar to the comics of the time.

So despite only watching less than a half-hour’s worth of the film’s footage, Prince was inspired to record an entire albums worth of musical awesomeness!  The result is the “Batman” soundtrack, not to be confused with the other “BatmanOriginal Motion Picture Score” by Danny Elfman.  The album contained nine tracks showcasing Prince’s musical adroitness complete with a mixture of synthesizers, voice sampling, and soul-funk-pop sounds.  It was an album that returned Prince to the top of the Billboard charts compliments of the track “Batdance” (and you thought Batman didn’t dance anymore) which helped him end the year as one of the most successful artists of the decade  and maybe more importantly, broadened his pop-culture appeal to the masses.

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While I agree that the album “Purple Rain” is a masterpiece, its prominence overshadows other great albums (or should I say cassette tapes) namely “Batman“, which sadly, doesn’t get enough love and is often overlooked in the Prince catalogue.  What made Prince’s “Batman” soundtrack so bodacious wasn’t the funky tracks (which it had), it was the fact that the music, excluding the song “Batdance“, an ode to the classic 60’s television theme song (only funk-ta-fied), feels disconnected to the “Batman” film almost completely, and maybe that was the plan all along.  Executives eager to cash in on the massive summer blockbuster, uber-marketed the movie:  t-shirts emblazoned with the Batman logo, toys, Batman cereal, even Matt Jones’ favorite soda, Diet Coke and Drew Franklin’s beloved Taco Bell cashed in on the action.  So why not have one of the hottest names in music promote the film too?  The gamble paid off, the “Batman” album stayed #1 in the charts for six weeks in ’89.  I had both the full soundtrack on cassette tape and “Batdance” on cassingle.  The film while having massive appeal, captured the excesses of the 80’s so perfectly, and while it was considered dark for its time, looking back it seems kitschy compared to the current superhero films.

If “Batdance” didn’t hook you, then surely you’ll agree “Partyman” is a great track.  In fact, it’s one of only two songs actually featured in the film, the other is “Trust“, which Charlie Murphy would describe as slammin’.  Even as the Joker prepares to gas the unsuspecting citizens of Gotham City, he knows, that if you’re going to die a horrible death, you at least should find comfort in Prince, as his music is known to make love to your eardrums.

As we all mourn the loss of a true vanguard and remarkable pop-culture icon, let’s honor Prince by re-listening to his music, especially his lesser-known, possibly neglected tracks.  So, while you’re still feeling nostalgic, before you complete your purchase in iTunes or walk out of your local music store, don’t forget about the “Batman” album.  I learned a lot from Prince in the summer of 1989, and while I loved Batman, Prince was the actual superhero:  ageless, genderless, mysterious, a walking paradox.  With his death, he left more questions, than answers, and in life he refused to be a slave to any man, idea, genre or corporation.  He did it his way and by his terms.  Prince understood better than anyone that you have to believe in yourself, because you only get one chance and we’re “all gathered here to get through this thing called life” together, so why not live it in the most beautiful and freeing way possible.

Goodnight, Sweet Prince.


3 Ways to Get Ready for Game of Thrones Weekend

3 Ways to Get Ready for Game of Thrones Weekend

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Game of Thrones, the television phenomenon based on the slowly written books (#nopages), returns this weekend for its sixth season and lords know we’re all Jonesin’ for a Thronesin’. You will be watching come Sunday. It is known. But what the heck are you gonna do until then? Sit and stare blankly at the wall? You did that already, like 8 times! Geez. Well, here are three fail-proof ways to spend the 57 odd hours until GoT hits your face orbs.

Watch all the other Thrones

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There are 50 hours of Thrones already ready to brain you.  Submit. Skip work, sit on your couch and relive the whole story from the beginning. It doesn’t leave much time for sleep, but you can do it. I believe in you. I always have.

Get Drunk and Pass Out

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Also known as “Oscar Wilde-ing”, you can shove a bottle of inebriating liquids down your speaky hole and sleep the deep sleep of Roman Emperors for the next two days. Make sure to pre position yourself on the couch with HBO on so that you don’t have to do any work once you awaken from your bacchanalian slumber. This is totally the way that Tyrion and/or Bronn would pass the time, so it’s appropriately themed. Wine works best. #DorneLife

Journey to the center of the Earth

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We all know that time goes slower if you go to space, the Big Empty. But we don’t want that, then it’s even longer ’til Thrones! So instead, travel to the molten hot core of Earth so that the time speeds along like a chariot driven by roadrunners.  That’s fast my friend. Then you’ll be Throne’d in no time at all! Bring some water, though, I hear it’s a hot tamale down there.


The 2016-17 NCAA Referee Applications are Starting to Roll In!

The 2016-17 NCAA Referee Applications are Starting to Roll In!

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Prince Dead at 57

BREAKING: Following a discovery at his Paisley Park estate in Minnesota, news outlets are reporting that guitarist and rock icon Prince has died. He was 57. Early reports from the last few days insinuate that the artist was battling “the flu,” but nothing conclusive has been announced.

This is a sad day, folks.

If you need to know how great Prince was — which would be weird — watch this:

 

 

 


Funkhouser’s Lexicon Tabletop Gaming Convention 2016 Preview – April 22-24

Funkhouser’s Lexicon Tabletop Gaming Convention 2016 Preview – April 22-24

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Unless you are new to Funkhouser, you know that I like to push the pro-tabletop gaming agenda here on the site.  In the fall, we put together a 24-hour gaming marathon for Extra Life, where we raised around $2000 for the Kentucky Children’s Hospital. However, that event would not have been a success without the help from a group of people who put on an annual gaming convention in Lexington called LEXICON.  And great news, the actual Lexicon Tabletop Gaming Convention is this weekend, April 22-24 at the Clarion Hotel, right off exit 115 on I-64/I-75.  Lexicon will be three days of board gaming, tournaments, cosplay, late night parties with West 6th Brewery and much, much more. I will be there all day on Saturday, in some sort of KSR gear, so be sure to come find me, or root me on it the King of Tokyo Tournament.  I’ll also be tweeting from our @FunkhouserKSR twitter account.

Last night, I got to chat with one of the organizers of the convention, Josh Dunne, about what all we can expect from the convention this weekend and what Lexicon is all about.  Check it out:

For more information and tickets to the event check out Lexicon’s Event Website.  

 


Watch The (Game of) Throne(s’ Season Six Premiere)

Watch The (Game of) Throne(s’ Season Six Premiere)

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Happy Tuesday everybody, and what a great Tuesday it is.  Coming into this week were two great mysteries.  The first was solved when we finally found out where Marques Bolden would commit.  The next, and only slightly less important to real life, regards the fate of Jon Snow.  With the return of Game of Thrones Sunday night, we will hopefully answer this and resume the goings on in Westeros and see who will step inch closer to claiming the Iron Throne.  Before we jump into what to look for in season six, here’s a twitter sized recap of season five:

Stannis: dead Sansa w/ Theon Arya: blind Cersei: walk of shame Dany with Dothraki, Marjaery: church prison zombie mountain Jon: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

That sums it up pretty well I think.  Obviously, season five was significantly more complex and it was my favorite season since the first.  As good as it was though, season six has the potential to be the best of the bunch, and that’s what we’ll look at here.  After all, there’s no real sense looking back when there’s so much to look forward to. Perhaps the best thing about GoT as we enter season six is the fact that the story is now completely free to go anywhere.  The show has outpaced the book series so everything now is original content.  Author of the series, George R.R. Martin is still steering the ship with regards to where the story heads, but it’s now gone from book adaptation to being written specifically for tv, which hopefully ups the ante for what we’ll see.  With that said, here are the five things I’m most excited about for season six of Game of Thrones.

The Fate of Jon Snow

GoT has never been shy about killing off major characters so in a way, Jon’s Caesar-esque death shouldn’t have been a surprise.  There had always been a sense of invulnerability with Jon though.  I don’t know whether that stems from the mystery of his parentage (was Ned really his father or was he a Stark by other means?) or that he, along with Tyrion and Daenerys, had become the show’s triumvirate; but, Jon was is ¯\_(ツ)_/¯important.  I believe he is still important.  It shouldn’t be a surprise that this occured right as Melisandre returns to Castle Black.  Perhaps she’ll use her Lord of Light powers to save or resurrect him.  Without Jon, the Night’s Watch angle lose nearly all of its punch and with the coming of the White Walkers, this angle will remain too important to exist without him.

The White Walkers

Speaking of the White Walkers, I suspect we’ll finally get to a tipping point with them by the end of season six.  Either they will breach the Wall or they will be defeated.  I tend to lean toward the former, as I’m really hoping a White Walker-dragon showdown happens at some point.  With an ever growing army and zombie Darth Maul in charge, the White Walkers are set to move south and appear to be bringing winter with them.  For the love of God please let winter come so all those t-shirts in the Winterfell gift shop will seem relevant again.

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The Wrath of Cersei

Cersei was in a bad way for much of season five, culminating in her very literal walk of shame.  Now safely in the hands of Franken-Mountain, Cersei may very well become a dragon herself and burn King’s Landing to the ground.  Not only will she look to destroy the people who mocked her, but when she learns of Myrcella’s death she may very well kill Jaime (for failing to protect her) and go to war with Dorne.  Cersei has never been kind, but any mercy or kindness in her has probably been destroyed forever.

Daenerys, Drogon, Dothraki

Who knows what’s going on north of the Narrow Sea, but something is brewing.  After her spectacular rescue by Drogon and subsequent flight from Meereen, Daenerys seemed to be losing her grip of power.  Now, she not only has a semi-obedient Drogon (must be his adolescent phase), but a horde of Dothraki have joined her.  With the fire power of the dragons, Dothraki, and the Unsullied partnered with the political acumen of Tyrion and Varys, there is very little which could prevent Daenerys from preparing her return to the Seven Kingdoms.  Hopefully by the end of season six she will make that move.

The Return of the Fellowship

That’s a crazy mix of LOTR titles within a post about a fantasy show, but sometimes you have to cross the streams.  In any case, the fellowship of Bran returns with season six and that’s exciting.  In season four I found Bran’s trek a little boring and uneventful.  Even the end with the attack at the tree was kind of mediocre.  The season off, however, has reignited my interest in what Bran will find in the Weirwood tree.  There’s also the Children of the Forest to figure out too.  Last, but most certainly not least, Hodor!

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Giving A Schmidt In Your Everyday Life

Giving A Schmidt In Your Everyday Life

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The world has gone to Schmidt—in a good way.   Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is back and like all good things, you must brace yourself in case it’s not as good as you remember. But, fear not, Kimmy is still as charming and as committed to wearing warm pink hues as ever. The show still has heart. Even though, this season focuses on Kimmy allowing herself to get angry.   The show, at its core, is as ooey-gooey as a Toll House cookie sitting on a dashboard on a summer day.

We Schmidt-Heads need to find a way to incorporate Kimmy’s positive outlook into our everyday life. Below, you’ll find a few ways to “give a Schmidt” in your everyday life.

Bring Back All of Your Jokes From 6th Grade

If it hadn’t been for Kimmy Schmidt I would have forgotten how much I enjoy jokes like “make like a tree and leave.” Titus is the king of this format. For example, “You gotta make like a thirty year old single girl and settle” or “Make like Queen Elizabeth and dub this a knight.”

The world needs more of this type of humor.

Kimmy Schmidt isn’t just about jokes that your 6th grade self would enjoy.  I would like to nominate this excerpt from season 2 as the world’s most wonderfully executed joke of the series:

Could this series be any cooler?

Make Do With What You Have

Lillian, Kimmy’s landlord, became more fully formed this season. The character now has an apparent purpose that advances the plot. Lillian is there to show how a tough New Yorker would handle adversity with whatever resources are available. Titus is resourceful, but not tough. Kimmy is resilient, but not necessarily tough. Lillian makes do with what she has. She attempts to combat Fios. (I felt super hip, because I had just listened to this podcast.) Lillian attempts to combat hipsters moving into her area and she does it all while protecting her friends.

The moment Lillian tried to “set the mood” for Titus and his new boyfriend by throwing rose petals (AKA Barbecue Potato Chips) over his bed, I knew she was the people’s champion. She can make do without needing much to thrive.

Figuratively Durst Out of your Proverbial Face.

The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt reminds me of how much pure enjoyment I get out of seeing people obsess over one piece of popular culture. It is like a real life “Celebrities are just like us” article. Just like us, writers find a golden nugget of pop culture and run their obsession into the ground. (See me: Circa 2016 in regards to Making a Murder as well as me: Circa forever in regards to Gilmore Girls.)

The same applies to this season of Kimmy Schmidt. The show fixates on the star of The Jinx, Robert Durst. Kimmy has nervous burps from suppressing her lies, just like Durst.   Lillian references her love for “Bob Durst.” Fred Armisen makes a cameo as Robert Durst. They Durst all over the place in season 2.

I appreciate how the show lets people enjoy what they like. The show doesn’t let the Internet Chandlers stop them from liking what they enjoy. For Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, that’s Mentos jingles, The Church of Cosmetology and inaccurate acronyms (ex. MILF: My Interesting Lady Friend.)

For me, it’s shows with catchy opening credits, not-so-subtle allusion to Mad Men and actresses that remind me of Tropicana commercials.

And with that, I’m going to make like a strawberry and jam.