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Funkhouser

KSR’s take on recent non sports related happenings

FILE - In this April 11, 2005, file photo, New York Mets mascot Mr. Met reacts with the crowd during the Mets home opener against the Houston Astros at Shea Stadium in New York. Even Mr. Met is frustrated with the team's start. New York's beloved mascot flashed an upraised middle finger at a fan during Wednesday night's, May 31, 2017, 7-1 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers, and the employee will not work for the Mets again. A Mets official told The Associated Press more than one person wears the Mr. Met costume during each season, and the person who donned it Wednesday night will not do so again. The Mets official spoke on condition of anonymity because the statement from the organization was the team's only authorized comment. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull, File) ORG XMIT: NY154A

The Entertation Index: May 29-June 2

Each week KSR’s Funkhouser collects the best of pop culture. The Entertation Index collects the best of the week for your consumption.

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Cocktail, Virtual Reality — A whisky-based cocktail called the Origin at the One Aldwych bar in London’s West End is prefaced with a strapped-on virtual reality program designed to take you to the Scottish Highlands and forget where you are before returning you to the bar interior and serving the drink. Or you can do what I do, drink five Origins and THEN forget where you are. I know you didn’t see that joke coming (you totally saw that joke coming).
Link: What’s It Like to Drink a Virtual Cocktail? 

Court, Night — 25 years ago this week the great Night Court aired its series finale and began its long, weird, unexplainable trip into being totally forgotten. The AV Club delves into its history and looked at the classic courtroom comedy’s early beginnings and fading later years. Still, there are a lot of us who still love Night Court. Wherever it is now.
Link: Night Court Was the Black Sheep of NBC’s Sitcom Dynasty

Griffin, Kathy — Comedienne and professional New Year’s Eve Ruiner for CNN Kathy Griffin made a severe misstep this week when she tweeted a picture of herself holding a bloodied mask of Donald Trump, a move which drew the ire of both sides of the aisle. Clearly, however, the move was just Griffin doing something she thought would be funny just to find no one thought it was funny, which sums up Kathy Griffin’s entire career. Bam! Me:1, Kathy Griffin 0.
Link: Venues Cancel Kathy Griffin Appearances In Wake of Trump Dust-Up

Met, Mr. — During the New York Mets’ recent loss to the Milwaukee Brewers at Citi Field, longstanding mascot Mr. Met — subjected to allegedly some abusive comments about his mother — left the stadium early and flipped off fans on his way out. I’d say he needs a thicker skin but horsehide is already pretty thick;  I will say it’s sad that certain Mets fans chose to exploit Mr. Met’s current family tragedy, when his mother was foul-tipped off a Bronx pick-up game and bounced into some bushes. Her body has not yet been recovered.
Link: Fan Says Mr. Met Showered with Profane Heckles Before Bird-Flip

One-Liners, Hip Hop — For your reading pleasure this weekend I present, via Rolling Stone, the twenty greatest one-liners in hip hop music, from Lil’ Wayne’s “Real G’s move in silence like lasagna” to Big Daddy Kane’s “If you are what you eat/Then feed me dope.” Some good lit here. Enjoy.
Link: 20 Great Hip-Hop One-Liners

Woman, Wonder — Don’t look now but the struggling comics-to-movies universe of DC may have just found its white knight in Wonder Woman, which is currently sitting at 93% on Rotten Tomatoes. That’s a good sign for the film, which held special all-female screenings last weekend that as a man I’m not sure what I’m allowed to say about so I’ll just leave it at Great Job, Wonder Woman!
Link: With Wonder Woman, DC Comics Finally Gets It Right

Zardulu — If you want my two cents on the most interesting read of the week, here it is: Vox’s feature piece on Zardulu. Who’s Zardulu? She’s only the wizard-mask-wearing, platitude-imparting secret art figure behind some of the most viral videos of all time (including pizza rat, raccoon riding an alligator and more). She believes that creating things in the world that make you wonder and believe crazy things is more important than ever and, quite frankly, I’m fascinated by her. Check it out for yourself.
Link: Where Pizza Rat, Fake News and Art Collide, There’s a Wizard Named Zardulu


2017 Scripps National Spelling Bee – Singh of Louisville Advances To Finals

After 291 spellers took to the stage over the course of Wednesday morning and afternoon, the field has been whittled down to 40 finalists.  Among that group, Kentucky’s Tara Singh remains in the competition to try and take home spelling’s biggest (and maybe only) prize.

Tara Singh

This is Tara Singh’s fourth appearance at the Scripps National Spelling Bee, having previously competed in 2013, 2015 and 2016.  She took to the stage twice today, spelling both ‘Miniver’ (plain white fur for lining clothes) and Guamanian (relating to Guam) correctly.  She performed well enough on her written test on Tuesday to advance to become one of the top-40 spellers in Thursday’s final round.  The finals will begin at 10am on ESPN2.

Kentucky’s two other contestants were not as lucky during today’s competition.  Florence native, Tanvi Rakesh spelled her morning word (parkour) correctly, but was dinged out of the Bee after misspelling the word ‘Appellation’.  Lexington’s Joey Ilagan was able to spell both Nephrotoxic and Vespertine on the stage on Wednesday, but did not advance to the finals based on Tuesday’s written test. Congrats to both Joey and Tanvi for making it to the big stage, that’s a huge accomplishment!

We will continue to keep you posted on Tara’s progress through the finals tomorrow, hopefully leading to the prime-time Bee finals on ESPN at 8:30 Thursday night!  Follow @funkhouserKSR on Twitter for all the updates!


2017 Scripps National Spelling Bee – Kentucky Speller Update

Day two underway for our three Kentucky spellers in the 2017 Scripps National Spelling Bee, taking place in Washington D.C.  Tara Singh, Tanvi Rakesh and Joey Ilagan have all had the opportunity to face Dr. Jacques Bailly and his dreaded bell of doom.  Round Two took place this morning on ESPN3, with Round Three coming up this afternoon at 3:45pm on ESPN3.  Take a look at how our linguists have fared up to this point in the competition:

   
Name Tara Singh Tanvi Rakesh Joey Ilagan
Speller Number #207 #218 #230
Hometown Louisville, KY Florence, KY Lexington, KY
Round Two  Miniver Parkour  Nephrotoxic
Round Three Guamanian  Appellation
(Eliminated)
Vespertine

Spellers that remain after the end of round three (round one was a written test on Tuesday) will have their written tests factored into their total ranking, and no more than 50 spellers will move on to the finals on Thursday morning.  We will have to wait and see which of our remaining Kentucky spellers will advance to the Thursday Finals on ESPN 2 at 10AM.

This page will continue to be updated over the course of the competition with the results of each speller’s attempted spell.


Fear Factor: It’s Ludacris

Fear Factor: It’s Ludacris

Fear Factor is back even though I never knew it was gone. Fear Factor seems like one of those shows that would run forever like Law and Order and The Price is Right.  Fear Factor seems like it is all about asking people to face their fears.  In all actuality, the show is about making the viewers’ skin crawl and close up shots of girls in sports bras.  Now that the show is back on Tuesdays at 10pm on MTV, I can only assume there will be more of both.

This week, the show debuted what the new MTV version would look like.  To me, the only difference was I had to watch the lead-in from The Challenge, which was garbage. For two minutes, I was forced to watch two young ladies, amped up on red bull, try to get a not-basketball in a trash can.  It was demeaning to them.  It was demeaning to me. My greatest fear would be that I would be forced to watch a whole season of The Challenge.

The real show begins when the new host, Ludacris (LUDA!), explains that the challenges are designed and tested by extreme professionals.  You can feel the first pun coming when he looks at that camera and says, “They are extremely Ludacris.”  In the first five seconds Ludacris does a name drop. I would expect no less. The new host goes on to explain that there are four teams, three challenges and one winner.

There is something about Ludacris that I can tolerate, nay welcome(!), as the new anchor of Fear Factor.  Surprisingly, he’s a great host.  Ludacris’ best quality is that he is extremely encouraging.  This week, he yells “I know it’s hard but you can do this!”  I need Ludacris’ encouragement in my life. While there are many things I appreciate about Ludacris (one of them is that he spells the word mouth, “mouf”) my new favorite is that he is more encouraging than an entire section of Hallmark cards.

But, the host isn’t what makes the show.  The best part is the contestants.  It takes a rare type of person to sign up for Fear Factor.  Needy people sign up for The Bachelor.  Nerdy people sign up for Jeopardy.  Nutty people sign up for Fear Factor.  This week we had siblings from New Jersey that wanted to start a fashion line, a weird brother/sister duo that had an odd energy about them, two brothers who WONT SHUT UP about how their Dad “trained” them for this and twins.  The twins were comedy.  One was vocal about how they were going to win so she could go to Dental/Dance school (I couldn’t tell which) but failed to mention that she is literally scared of everything. Viewers show up for the creepy challenges, but stay for the weirdo contestants.

As Luda says, the contestants are competing for “50 racks.” To win, they need to get through all three challenges: “Beat the Beast” (alliterative and literal), “Face Your Fears” (also alliterative and literal) and “The Final Fear” (alliterative and extremely literal.)  This week, the contestants were covered in cockroaches and millipedes that went straight for people’s mouf.  (It seemed like Ludacris just learned the word millipedes. He was living for saying, “Here comes the millipedes!”) The second challenge forced contestants to face their claustrophobia fears.  One sibling had to lie chained to a slab in a morgue while the other was vacuum sealed like a pack of hot dogs.  There is nothing fearful about this challenge for me.  The task is to simply lay there.   These contestants have no chill.  Don’t they know 50 racks are on the line?

The final challenge is to escape from a shark cage (with no sharks).  The task was meant to simulate being trapped under ice. The contestants are allowed two holes for breathing as the cage is lowered into a cold pool on some production lot.  Throughout the entire challenge, Ludacris is freaking out more than the contestants.  He genuinely thinks that one of them is about to drown.  It’s somewhat disturbing.  He’s the host.  I don’t feel like he’s confident that they’ve vetted these challenges enough.

I like Fear Factor because I feel superior to the contestants as I watch.   I would totally be more chill.  I wouldn’t waste my breath screaming at my partner.  I wouldn’t complain about the millipedes in my mouf.  I would get those 50 racks.   But, the world will never know because I’m deathly afraid of snakes, I know my limits and I wouldn’t be caught dead/petrified on national television in a sports bra.


Meet Kentucky’s Three 2017 Scripps National Spelling Bee Contestants

Meet Kentucky’s Three 2017 Scripps National Spelling Bee Contestants

The Scripps National Spelling Bee has a storied history with the state of Kentucky. In the first 14 years of the Bee, Kentucky boasted four champions including Frank Neuhauser, who won the very first competition in 1925 with the word Gladiolus. The other three Spelling Bee Champions from Kentucky, all hailing from Louisville, won on the words Cerise – a bright or deep red color (1926 – Pauline Bell), Promiscuous (1937 – Waneeta Beckley) & Sanitarium (1938 – Marian Richardson). You can write your own joke for those…

Fast forward to 2017, where the Scripps National Spelling Bee is taking place starting today in Washington D.C. with Kentucky having three spellers who will try and bring back the title to the Commonwealth.  The three day competition will see a combination of non-televised computer tests, followed by the traditional Spelling Bee you are accustomed to viewing on ESPN. Let’s take a look at the three local competitors who we will be rooting for this week in the Bee:


Tara Singh – Louisville, KY – Speller #207

Tara enters the 2017 Scripps National Spelling Bee for the fourth time, having previously competed in 2013, 2015 and 2016.  In the 2013 Bee, she was seven years old – the youngest speller in the Bee that year.  She finished in a strong 22nd place in last year’s competition.  In her free time, she both writes and reads fantasy fiction.  She also writes stories in Latin, and also has played something called Certamen, which is a game where you answer questions in Latin regarding “classical civilizations and its people, languages and cultures.”


Tanvi Rakesh – Florence, KY – Speller #218

Tanvi is a 4th grader at Longbranch Elementary School in Florence, KY.  She battled in the WCPO Region I Kentucky-Indiana Spelling Bee this spring for 27 rounds, where she took home the title with the word “tiara”.  Tanvi seems like your average 10 year old kid: Loves Harry Potter, Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Adele, Food Network, Roller Coasters, etc.  However, she is also a world traveler, visiting India, Germany, Prague, and Paris (to name a few). She hopes one day to attend Harvard University to become a doctor or lawyer.


Joey Ilagan – Lexington, KY – Speller #230

Joey is an 8th grader at Tates Creek Middle School.  Joey might fly under the radar at the Bee this year, being humble about how well he’ll do.  In the Northern Kentucky Tribune, he said: “I have never been good at spelling at all, something I just did for fun.”  Joey has a lot of hobbies outside of studying for the Spelling Bee.  He’s a cellist and plays for both the Tates Creek Orchestra and Central Kentucky Youth Orchestra.  He’s also a avid swimmer, competing for both the Pinnacle Pirates and Lexington Dolphins.


The 2016 Scripps National Spelling Bee starts today with the preliminary tests, where the spellers will compete in a multiple choice test.  The TV schedule for the Bee is as follows:

Wednesday, May 31 – Preliminaries
Round Two – ESPN3
8:00-10:00 – Spellers 1 through 145
10:15-12:15 – Spellers 146 through 291

Round Three – ESPN3
1:15-3:30 – Spellers 1 through 145
3:45-6:00 – Spellers 146 through 291

Thursday, June 1 – Finals
10:00 AM – Finals Part One on ESPN2
8:30 PM – Finals Part Two on ESPN


Good Luck Tara, Tanvi and Joey! Bring Kentucky home its first Spelling Bee Championship in 79 years!  Hopefully you get some easy words:

 


The Entertation Index: May 22-29

The Entertation Index: May 22-29

Each week KSR’s Funkhouser collects the best of pop culture. The Entertation Index collects the best of the week for your consumption.

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Day, Memorial — In honor of Memorial Day and all the real-life soldiers who have and continue to protect us both in this country and around the world, it’s worth revisiting this great Grantland piece saluting the greatest servicemen of our pop culture landscape.
Link: The Top Ten Movie Troops of All Time: A Definitive, Armed Forces-Informed Ranking

Foxx, Jamie — The Ray Oscar winner told Howard Stern this week that during the run up to his Academy Award accolade, he received a call from Oprah Winfrey, who gathered together prominent stars like Quincy Jones and Sidney Poitier at her home to stage an intervention for Foxx’s partying. Since then, Jamie Foxx has gone on to star in other Oscar-caliber movies like Valentine’s Day, Stealth and Law Abiding Citizen. Thanks, Oprah!
Link: Foxx – “Oprah Staged and Intervention for me, Told Me I Was “Blowing It.”

Foxx, Jamie (2) — The Law Abiding Citizen star appeared on Jimmy Fallon this week where he pretended to use sign language on a Tonight Show promo, angering activists for the deaf and hearing-impaired community. Thanks, Oprah!
Link: Nyle Demarco – Jamie Foxx Was Disrespectful to Make Up Sign Language on Tonight Show

Man, The Running — If you’re not familiar with the Earwolf podcast “How Did This Get Made?”, it focuses on terrible movies and picks them apart piece by piece in a fantastic way. Some episodes are stellar, some are just okay, but every now and then they really find a prime subject. Like 1987’s The Running Man. Mowing the yard or driving today? Put it on and enjoy. Good times.
Link: Podcast – “How Did This Get Made: The Running Man”

Plinko — This week saw a lot of news, but perhaps none more groundbreaking than the fact that this Penn State student broke a Price is Right record when he hit the $10,000 slot three times while playing Plinko. Did you see it? THIS IS A TRICK QUESTION OF COURSE YOU DIDN’T SEE IT YOU HAVE A JOB LIKE EVERYONE ELSE.
Link: Watch a Dude Go Absolutely Apesh*t After Breaking a Plink Record on Price Is Right

Rodriguez, Alex — Number one Alex Rodriguez fan Alex Rodriguez has allegedly been tapped by ABC news to serve as its newest correspondent, with sources saying the ex-Yankee is interested in “lifestyle and family-oriented programming.” Because there’s no one better to tell you how your family should work than an egotistical, philandering multi-millionaire ex-professional baseball player with a painting of himself as a centaur hanging over his bead. Salt of the earth, that guy.
Link: Alex Rodriguez Lands ABC News Gig

Transformers –– It’s a long weekend. Here are clips of the Transformers ruining your favorite movies and TV shows. Enjoy!
Link: The Transformers Ruin Your Favorite Movies 


Weekend Media Forecast May 26-28

Weekend Media Forecast May 26-28

Welcome to this weeks edition of the Weekend Media Forecast. I’m your Mediaologist Brad Morris. We’ve come to the official start of Summer with Memorial Day Weekend. Let us all take a moment to remember those who have served and died in defense of our country. The courage it takes to walk into the line of fire is beyond me. So I say a silent prayer for all the fallen.

This weeks forecast takes some liberties on our military history. While several people prefer ACTUAL historical movies, it seems apparent that “Alternate Facts” have been besieged upon us. With that in mind, a couple of selections take different routes than factual happenings, however they entertain all the same. They were also a part of the KSR Movie playoffs, so I thought it best to include them this week.

Netflix: Inglorious Basterds 

Why To Watch: I’ll admit that I’ve been smitten with Tarantino movies since the beginning. Reservoir Dogs is in my Top 10 of all time. There is the emphasis on certain scenes, which are all long takes, that put your mind into watching a play. Tarantino has such a vast knowledge of older movies and his appreciation shows.

Inglorious Basterds is the unofficial start of a trilogy of films; Django Unchained and The Hateful Eight were the second and third films respectfully. Set in World War II, the film tells two separate stories in linear fashion, which is rare for Tarantino. If you have not seen IB, be advised it does not follow actual events, and also changes history for the sake of storytelling. It also involves everything a Tarantino movie offers, namely violence, blood, and the F bomb. So enjoy this movie without the rug rats around.

Hulu: Top Gun

Why To Watch: If Inglorious Basterds is too vile for your taste, then how about this patriotic take on USA’s Air Force. Although Tom Cruise was well known in the mid 80’s, his Hollywood fame shot higher than the F-14 his character piloted in the movie.

I recently reviewed the movie for the first time in ages, finding that the dogfights and one-liners still can bring a smile to my face. This could well be the perfect movie for date night. Guys come for the action, girls stay for the romance between Maverick and Charlie. If you believe my thinking is wrong with this pick, it was difficult to write, because I was inverted.

TV: TCM Memorial Weekend War Movie Marathon.

Why To Watch: If you want to relive certain events, and have made it a holiday tradition, Turner Movie Classics is the channel to keep tuned into this weekend. It starts on Sunday with Across The Pacific. While I haven’t yet found where they are showing the classic Midway, selections do include:

Twelve O’Clock High

Tora! Tora! Tora!

Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo

Ace of Aces

Movies: Pirates of the Caribbean – Dead Men Tell No Tales

Why To Watch: The continuing adventures of Captain Jack Sparrow jump onto the big screen this weekend. From a distance this appears to be nothing more than a quick money cash grab from the studio. However the appearance of Javier Bardem as the nefarious Captain Salazar shows promise for the franchise.

This fifth film of the Pirates also brings back the main players of the first three, Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann. I’ll also add that you in no way need to have viewed the fourth Pirate film to to know what is going on. No need to bring your brain for Captain Jack, just have fun and don’t forget the rum.

Sports: Indianapolis 500

Why To Watch: The open wheel spectacular returns to race around Beyonce style (to the left, to the left) at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Of all the races around the world, this is the fastest and most dangerous. Several safety measures have been put into place over the last two decades. The proximity to each others cars still make it a death defying zoom to the finish. If you are attending this year, don’t leave the sunscreen at home.

That’s it for this weekend. I hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday. So salute our fallen heroes, don’t burn the house down flipping cheeseburgers, and remember to buckle up if travelling on the roads. For the Funkhouser Weekend Media Forecast, I’m Brad Morris.  


The Verdict For Convicted

The Verdict For Convicted

 

The true-crime podcast genre is beginning to have a very defined structure. The regular notes that hosts hit seem as natural and lived in as the formulaic outline of a Law & Order episode. Convicted, a new podcast that has no NPR connections feels exactly like a Serial-esque production, right down to the ambient noise during conversations.  What makes Convicted interesting is the podcast out hipsters the hipsters.  Meaning, Brooke Gittings, the show’s host, tackles the story of a man’s innocence without the backing of a large media organization. While podcasting has always been an alternative media, Convicted feels different than all the others.

Broadcasting “Live” from a Walk-in Closet

The amateur feel to Convicted is undeniable.  Gittings confesses to recording in her walk-in closet during the first episode.  The confession left me smitten.  I like the idea of people seeing an injustice and working tirelessly to see the wrong righted.  To sacrifice your time, talents and closet space (at the very least) is admirable.  There are plenty of excuses to devise that would talk many people out of this endeavor.

The set-up isn’t the only “amateur” move. Gittings is learning as she goes.  During her first meeting with her subject, she has a steep learning curve in regards to the prison’s dress code. The requirements are tailored to the way women can dress, right down the wire in their bra. The rule wasn’t even mentioned in the prison’s requirements, but is still something that visitors are expected to know.   The underwire rule is one of the many things that had to be learned through trial and error.

The Comment Section

While the beauty of the podcast is that it isn’t over-produced, there is still some room for growth.  Some listeners have made comments about Gittings’ voice.  I had no issues with her voice.  (The premise that someone should alter his or her speech seems ridiculous.  What are people supposed to do? Autotune their segments? Hard pass.) What the episodes need is editing.  Sometimes, the transitions wander.  Where more produced podcasts use musical cues as transitions or more seamless turns, Convicted corners like an 18-wheeler.  The story is also paced slower than I would like.  In episode one, Gittings promises, “the biggest injustice you’ve ever seen.” I am four episodes into the series and the big injustice has yet to be revealed.  For the most part the iTunes reviews are positive.  One commenter explains that they “couldn’t handle the high school essay feel.”  I wish high schoolers turned in essays this good.  The podcast doesn’t have to be perfect to get its point across.

The Convicted

Richard Nicolas is the actual subject of the podcast.  Nicolas was found guilty of murder when his two-year-old daughter, Aja, was found dead in his car.  Like most podcasts, when you hear his interviews he seems like a perfectly “normal” guy.   Gittings addresses Nicolas’ stutter, his past and his relationship with his daughter.  There are still a few holes in Nicolas’ back-story that need to be filled.  In the first panel episode, Nicolas’ sister explains how she never doubted that her brother committed the crime.  While her testimony is compelling it still doesn’t completely explain the defendant’s innocence.

One of the more stereotypical moments in true crime podcasting is the “ride along.”   During these segments, the host takes the recorder and drives the alleged route that the convicted took on the night in question.  It’s some real, modern day, gumshoe reporting.  While Gittings’ post-movie route review isn’t as hard-hitting as Sarah Koenig’s Best Buy adventure, it still hits all the right notes.  Nicolas’ steps are traced with the best intentions and as thoroughly as possible.

Questions of Privacy

Throughout the whole podcast, Gittings consistently asks for privacy for Aja’s mother and Nicolas’ daughter. Her plea is ironic.  A podcast that spends hours outlining, discussing and evaluating a man’s life is asking for privacy from the audience.  When the creators lay out evidence and shine the spotlight on the convicted, there is an inevitable invasion of privacy.    The innocent have a right to privacy.  I’m not sure if Gittings has the right to ask the audience to not pry into their private lives, even though she is correct.

Convicted is created by a small fish and put in a big pond.  There are many true crime fish in the Podcast Sea. More than all the others, Convicted adds another angle where non-professional creators try their hand at the trade.  As long as there are stories that need this level of scrutiny there needs to be podcasts to tell their story.

Keep the structure.

Keep investigating.

Keep speaking in your closet with a coat on your head.


The Dark Crystal Prequel is Not What We Need Right Now

The Dark Crystal Prequel is Not What We Need Right Now

Nostalgia is a helluva drug, and we’re all junkies.  The entertainment industry recognizes this and that’s why studios are all too eager to reboot, remake and relaunch the most cherished television shows and films from your childhood.  But not everything deserves to, or should, come back from the past.  These are the movies that illicit such a traumatic and painful flashback when you stumble upon a random clip, or catch sight of the theatrical poster somewhere, or even when someone simply evokes the title in a conversation. Such movies deserve nothing better than for their 800 foot long, oxide-coated, magnetic tape insides, to rot, forever entombed inside a yellowed, dusty plastic sarcophagus, at the bottom of a soggy, partially disintegrated cardboard box, underneath piles of moth-eaten and silverfish infested sweaters, in the hellish inferno that is your parents’ attic.  The Dark Crystal is one such film.  Despite rumors of its revival over the years, including a scrapped sequel called Power of the Dark Crystal, and a Robot Chicken parody, nothing has ever materialized—until now.  Last week Netflix announced a forthcoming 10-episode series entitled, The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, a prequel based on the original 1982 film, and just like that, all the horrors of my childhood began flooding back.

Netflix describes the new series as: “Three Gelflings discover the horrifying secret behind the Skeksis power, and set out on an epic journey to ignite the fires of rebellion and save their world.”  You do realize how this ends right?  It worked for Rogue One I suppose.  I’ll never understand how a film like The Dark Crystal achieved its present day cult-classic status, considering it received tepid reviews when it was released, and more importantly, scared the hell out of almost every child who watched it.  One critic said that “The Dark Crystal casts its spell from its very first frames and proceeds so briskly that it’s over before you realize it.  You’re left with the feeling that you have just awakened from a dream.”  Nightmare fuel would be a more effortless description.  If you happen to own a VHS copy, or worse the 25th anniversary blu-ray edition, you better be a re-sale store.  Rotten Tomatoes currently gives it a 72%, which seems about 36% too high if you ask me.  It’s one of a handful of movies that were so damaging to my young psyche, that I have honestly only viewed it no more than a couple of times.  Don’t get me wrong, The Dark Crystal is a highly imaginative film in both scope and design, and one that doesn’t rely heavily on CGI, rather uniquely groundbreaking live action puppetry as well as ethereally mystical environments and settings, courtesy of Frank Oz and the genius of the late, great, Jim Henson.  Yet unlike Henson’s other beloved projects, The Muppet Show and subsequent movies, Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock, The Storyteller, and to some extent Labyrinth, The Dark Crystal stands alone at its best as a mythological quest, good versus evil, yin-yang tale, which is utterly grim, dark and violent—a pre-pubescent introduction to the horror genre.  Billed as a fantasy film, most parents were oblivious to the film’s macabre tones, including my own mom, who took me to see the film when I was seven years old.  However, she clearly didn’t want to see it, because after she seated me, she whispered, “remember, if you need me I’ll be across the hall watching Tootsie” and walked out.  Before you start judging, this practice wasn’t outside the norm—at least for me—kids were independent and free then, remember this was the 80’s.  Also what was rated PG then, would now be considered PG-13 now.

Ask yourself, over the past 35 years, have you ever wondered what life was like before the Gelfing genocide?  If so, I’m sure you’ll see how it all went down in the most brutal way, in the new series.  Let me remind you there are some downright unnerving wtf scenes from the original film. Just imagine your seven year-old self watching as a gentle, podling has its life-force literally sucked out of its body, withering its innocent, teeny, cherubic, muppet-like face, only to become a dead-eyed slave for the menacing, skeletal, vulture-like reptiles, called the Skeksis.  Speaking of the Skeksis, how about that dinner table scene, as they drool and masticate loudly, in an almost sexual way, poking and prodding at each other and their revolting food?  Ewww.  That sword fight scene where they hit the rock was cool, except for when the conniving Skeksis—the one who’s incessantly whimpering—lost the contest and had his ornate, layered robes and clothes, unmercifully ripped from his body, leaving him in tattered rags, barely covering, his once hidden, weak and atrophied body.  I’m certain you’ll learn how they became so dehydrated and gross.  Have you been wringing your hands to see more puppet junk?  If there wasn’t enough glimpses in the original, there’s probably more flashes of well-placed—but tasteful—muppet nudity in one of the upcoming Netflix episodes.  Perhaps the new series will rely on a comical trope in the form of a doe eyed, bubbling animal, to provide laughs in between gruesome scenes where butterfly-horse creatures are shredded and devoured by giant beetles.  Will that haggish, horned, nipply, grey-haired, mustached woman with three eyes make an appearance in the new series?  Will she be played by a more diverse and younger muppet?  Lastly, will there be another unexpected and violent stabbing resulting in the death of a major muppet protagonist?  Only time will tell.

If Netflix thinks The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance will be successful hooking younger audiences, along with nostalgic bingers, think again.  The new series sounds just as bizarrely creepy as the original, but maybe that’s the point.  The rebooting of treasured films is unavoidable.  However resuscitating one that packs such an emotionally unpredictable and mentally damaging trip, like The Dark Crystal, is not what we need right now, nor will we ever.


Weekend Media Forecast May 19-21

Weekend Media Forecast May 19-21

Welcome to another edition of the Weekend Media Forecast. As always, I’m your Mediaologist Brad Morris. This weeks post is special to me for a big reason. It is the first post I’ve actually been able to headline at the top. I want to thank a few people before we get into the forecast.

First to Tyler Thompson for answering a Facebook message last spring. Its amazing what Game of Thrones can bring you. She was able to get me into the KSR doorway. Secondly to Josh Juckett for being my partner in crime with the Kentucky Deadcast. He and I had a blast with season 7 of The Walking Dead and we look forward to bringing that back this fall for what looks to be an explosive season 8. Thirdly to Nick Roush for editing all of the podcasts I’ve thrown at him for the past few months. And last, but not least, to Chris Tomlin. Chris took a chance on me when he didn’t have any idea if I could do this or crash and burn. With his guidance and advice, I feel like I grow better with each passing week as a writer. So thank you all for letting me into the KSR family.

Now that the formalities are out of the way, we can proceed to this weekends media forecast. This week has a little bit of everything. A serious documentary, a lighthearted film, a speckling of horror, and the joy of sport. So let’s look ahead, shall we?

Netflix: The Keepers

Why To Watch: We start off with some very serious, and mysterious, content matter. In this seven part series, Netflix looks into the murder of beloved nun, Sister Cathy Cesnik. Sister Cesnik was a teacher at a Catholic high school for girls in Baltimore in the late 60’s. On Nov. 7th, 1969, Sister Cesnik went missing. Two months later, her body was found in a bad state of decomposition. The cause of death was determined to be blunt force trauma to the head. Her disappearance and the discovery of her body launched an investigation that remains unsolved to this day.

With all of the controversy gripping the church for the last couple of decades, this is another black stain that refuses to go away. The series screams at a cover up, and fingers are pointed. The only fact that is escaping the audience is who actually did this heinous crime to the much loved nun.

Hulu: Clue

Why To Watch: For all of the original content and TV repeats that Hulu has to offer, a large portion that has been overlooked in the past is its growing library of movies. Everything from James Bond classics to Disney princesses is buried underneath. I have found an 80’s classic hidden deep inside. And it’s appropriate I had to dig, because that movie is Clue. This adaptation of the popular board game may have been the first time the movie industry attempted to make a movie based off of a game, either video or board. And while it may have not had much commercial success, Clue has become a cult classic. Given that it has so many strong actors, you could release it today and it would still be relevant. Christopher Lloyd, Michael McKean, Martin Mull, Madeline Kahn, and Lesley Ann Warren play some of the main culprits. However, this movie is taken from good to magnificent with the great Tim Curry. Playing Wadsworth The Butler, Curry gives a classic performance in leading the murderer(s) throughout the house from the game. If you want to show your teenagers what classic comedy can be, and how you don’t need technology to do it, play the game one night and then show them this. And remember, 1 + 1 + 2 + 1.

TV: Billboard Music Awards (Sunday, ABC, 8:00 p.m.)

Why To Watch: The award show season is almost over with. This one brings together all the stars you love, or hate. Ariana Grande, Nick Jonas, Gwen Stefani, Blake Shelton, Demi Lovato, Pink, Rihanna, and Madonna are just a small sampling of the names. Madonna will be leading a tribute to Prince. And while I sometimes dislike tributes from the past, anything that can bring a little Purple Rain back into our lives is a good thing. I won’t be watching since I’m anxiously awaiting to see Mumford and Sons Tuesday night at the Chicken Bucket. Don’t want to spoil my appetite before then.

Movies: Alien Covenant 

Why To Watch: I’ll make this confession, I’m not really expecting too much from this addition to the Alien universe. I had such high hopes for Prometheus and was terribly disappointed. Granted the visuals were fantastic, but it came off as too clean. I want my Alien movies to have some grit to them. The original Alien and Aliens were pure terror. Ridley Scott won’t let the franchise die because he wants to keep adding to the mythology of Alien. It actually occurs to me that he seems to be following in the same footsteps as George Lucas and the Star Wars prequels, and we know how that turned out. Let us hope that Alien Covenant is at the very least serviceable and can put us back into the mood of extreme terror that happened the first time you see a facehugger, egg spore, or Xenoporph pop onto screen. If you’re brave enough, then check this out at your local theater.

Sports: The Preakness (NBC, post time aprx. 6:45 p.m.)

Why To Watch: The second leg of the Triple Crown is in Baltimore, Maryland tomorrow afternoon. Always Dreaming is the odds on favorite to win, with his chief competitor being Classic Empire from the Kentucky Derby. New challengers await the champion thoroughbred. Cloud Computing and Conquest Mo Money are just two of the nine other horses Always Dreaming will have to hold off. Let’s see if he can keep his jockey’s silks as clean as they were with the Derby.

 

That brings us to the end of this weeks edition of the Weekend Media Forecast. I’m hoping this weekends weather forecast doesn’t turn out to have as much rain as is currently predicted. That would be a funny way of keeping our kids cooped up on their first weekend out of school. God’s little irony perhaps? However, we have plenty of material to view as well. So grab the popcorn and enjoy. Until next weekend, I’m your now OFFICIAL Mediaologist Brad Morris. Cheers.

 


The Entertation Index: May 15-19

The Entertation Index: May 15-19

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Each week KSR’s Funkhouser collects the best of pop culture. The Entertation Index collects the best of the week for your consumption.

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Anatomy, Grey’s — Actress Jerrika Hinton who, in the season finale of Grey’s Anatomy, escaped a rapist, saved a child and blew up the hospital, has decided to leave the show. Audiences still have yet to receive the news, as they left the show seasons ago. ZING!

Link: Grey’s Anatomy Says Goodbye to One of Its Own

Cornell, Chris — Sad news I know you’ve heard by now: Soundgarden and Audioslave frontman Chris Cornell passed away after a Detroit show Wednesday night, which the Wayne County, Michigan police now believe to be the result of suicide by hanging. Cornell was an amazing talent, this is very sad, and if you at home have EVER have thoughts like this I urge you to talk to someone. Please. Do it today.

Link: Medical Examiner – Chris Cornell Died by Suicide

Crash News Dancing, Car– What happens when a car crashes and someone tells you that the parking lot outside your office is being aired live on TV by an overhead news helicopter? I hope you’ll do what this guy did, and get out to that parking lot and get busy. Carpe diem, Scottsdale guy. Carpe Diem.

Keith, Toby — President Donald Trump is preparing to head to Saudi Arabia and, as the Associate Press has announced, conservative country music singer Toby Keith is going with him to perform a concert only for men. I guess that means…guys, I’m tired. Just…so…tired…I can’t. I just can’t anymore. Forget it.

Link: Trump Visit Draws Country Singer Toby Keith to Saudi Arabia

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Not Hot DogSilicon Valley fans, take heed; Jin Yang’s fictional “Not Hot Dog” app, which informs you if the food you’re looking at is a hot dog or not, is a real app from something called “SeeFood Industries” and is available in the Apple/Android app store. You know, in case you have any use for it.

Link: Not Hot Dog! App

Roseanne — In these trying times, it’s good to know that great things can still happen to you. Like, you remember the other day, when you were at work talking to your friends and you were all “You know what show I wish was back? Roseanne. I miss that show every day of my life.” Well guess what, Keith? It IS! DREAMS COME TRUE, KEITH!

Link: Roseanne Is Officially Coming Back

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Tambor, Jeffrey — Oh man, you guys are gonna LOVE this. When Arrested Development and Transparent star Jeffrey Tambor recently appeared on Kelly Ripa and Ryan Seacrest’s show (I don’t know what it’s called now, because whatever), Ryan Seacrest mistakenly told Tambor he always remembers the Emmy-winning actor because he “was the scary guy in Ghost.” Oops. That’s like your girlfriend telling you “I love you so much because you remind me of Meat Loaf.”

Link: Watch Ryan Seacrest Mistake Jeffrey Tambor for Dead Ghost Actor 


The Handmaid’s Soundtrack

The Handmaid’s Soundtrack

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This past Sunday, I spent my Mother’s Day watching The Handmaid’s Tale which turned out to be an odd choice.  The Hulu series is based on the dystopian novel of the same name.  In this new world, not all women are fertile.  Those that can have children are forced to have children with their “Commanders.” It is literally the worst programming you could choose to watch on Mother’s Day.

Or maybe it isn’t.  The Handmaid’s Tale is gorgeous.  The jewel tones of the wives and the handmaid’s uniforms are the perfect hues of ruby and turquoise.  The set is interesting too. Set in the New England fall, the houses look like that homes that the fiscally irresponsible buyers on House Hunters consider even though it is obviously out of their budget. I find myself being distracted from my potential dystopian future by ornate chair railings and crown molding.

But it’s not all intricate mitered wood in this tale, Elizabeth Moss’ performance as Offred is phenomenal.  While the word “Phenomenal” gets thrown around a lot in regards to acting, her performance actually deserves the praise.  The audience can easily read what is on her mind by the look in her eyes.   Audiences are also completely aware of her thoughts through her voice over.  Offred cusses like a sailor (and rightfully so) and her explicit narration offer a perfectly timed F bomb to keep the dark story for reaching rock bottom.

The story is depressing. There are many opportunities to dwell of how terribly pessimistic our future can be.  What the show does is mask the grim realities with a dash of hope.  The easiest way to keep the audience from feeling mired in sadness is to add a few songs that remind you to “Nolite Te Bastardes Carborundorum.”

For example, the first episode ends with the Leslie Gore song “You don’t own me.” Although the song used to remind me of Bette Midler from The First Wives Club, it is now less playful and more of an anthem.  Offred has had everything taken from her.  She lost her daughter, her husband, her job and her name, but she still has her thoughts.   “You don’t own me” blaring over the closing credits lets the audience know that Offred isn’t going to quit.  That resistance is all I needed to stay invested in the story.  

In episode 2, Offred makes eye contact with her driver, Nick,  and immediately the Simple Minds jam, “Don’t you (forget about me)” starts.  Even though the song is almost completely synonymous with The Breakfast Club, the song carves out its own space in The Handmaid’s Tale.  Is it possible that this is the most pop culturally relevant song?  If so, it’s the perfect fit for Offred’s story.  The song reminds me of the 80s.  Therefore, the song reminds of a time that really happened.  Ergo the story of The Handmaid’s Tale is set in a place where The Breakfast Clubbers club.  The song furthers the thought that this is a dystopian story could happen in the not so distant future.

While there are many songs that you will easily recognize , the score itself does the heavy lifting.  Similar to Inception, the songs rely on loud, heavy and distorted chords.   The bending melody sounds like dilated pupils coming into focus.  Without the refreshing burst of pop culture earworms, the heavy plot and depressing score would be too much to bear.

The Handmaid’s Tale isn’t meant for binge watching on a Mother’s Day afternoon for many reasons.  One is that it isn’t meant to be binged at all.  The subject matter is to dense and demanding for one sitting.  Hulu knows this.  That’s why there is one episode released each week.  The creators knew this, that’s why there are catchy and carefree tunes laced throughout each episode.   I look forward to dreading each episode before viewing and appreciating the tale once I’m through.