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KSR’s take on recent non sports related happenings
By Josh Corman on ©August 24th, 2017 @ 8:40pm
Viewers of all long-running prestige TV shows share a single, understandable fear: that their hours of investment and fan-theorizing and nervous anticipation will conclude not in a blaze of glory and well-earned resolution, but with a messy, incoherent thud.
To put it more simply, we’re all worried that the ending is going to suck.
Of course we are. We have good reason to be. LOST really did a number on us, and then The Sopranos infuriated a lot of people (not me, but a lot). I’ve never seen one second of Dexter, but I was pretty sure those folks were going to burn down the internet when that show ended.
And now, as so many of us turn our attention to Game of Thrones’ season finale this Sunday night, it’s fair to wonder whether or not our beloved show is going to join the long list of great shows that imploded as they drove toward their conclusions.
Many, many spoilers ahead.
Even the most ardent defender of season seven’s embrace of teleportation (Westeros is supposed to be the size of South America, but, in the interest of hurrying the plot along, characters suddenly move from one side of it to the other in no time at all) would admit that, at this moment, the show seems more concerned with simply reaching a conclusion than actually earning one.
Add to that the baffling, seemingly contrived conflict between the Stark sisters (I’m holding out hope that we’re being wildly misdirected by this one, but either way, it’s frustrating to watch) and the paper thin logic behind the journey beyond the wall, and GoT die-hards have good reason to be nervous.
If you are one of said die-hards, you might be thinking, “But these last couple of episodes have been bonkers! There’s an undead dragon in play now! How can you be griping about the end of the show when there’s still so much we don’t know?!” Well, let’s take those one at a time.
So much amazing stuff has happened since Danaerys torched the Lannister army; isn’t the show just as compelling as ever?
The short answer to this is yes. Probably.
But compelling isn’t the same as good. Think of it like this: a basketball game that finishes with a final score of 56-54 and features a game-winning jumper is compelling because the score is close and the game came down to the final possession. But if both teams shoot 35%, turn the ball over 20 times apiece, and the refs call a ton of fouls, nobody would say that the game was played at a high level (aside from fans of the Big 10).
That’s where we are with GoT. The teams have played a great game for most of the first six seasons, but now we’re heading toward crunch time and nerves are starting to play a factor. Things are getting sloppy and it feels like the drama is a result of ineptitude, rather than quality plotting and characterization.
Suddenly, writers who prided themselves on playing a very long game are blowing through multiple major plot developments per episode. Characters who’ve acted one way are suddenly making decisions inconsistent with nearly everything we know about them. Logic and pacing are being tossed aside in favor of rapidly escalating conflict and a contrived sense of urgency.
Even if the show has skimped on reasoning this season, we ended up with a freaking undead dragon! Isn’t the battle this surely sets up worth sacrificing logic and pacing?
Sure, seeing Viserion transformed into a White… Flyer (?) was incredibly dramatic and almost certainly needed to happen, if only to level the playing field for the war to come. The end result is cool and keeps viewers wondering what’s going to happen next, but again, Game of Thrones’ hallmark has been how methodically these chess pieces have been set up on the giant board that is Westeros. For the writers to rush at this point risks weakening the foundation of what comes next. And that’s exactly what they did. They had a shocking, possibly necessary plot point to get to, and proceeded to get there by making otherwise smart characters do stupid things without providing a meaningful reason for their stupidity.
I can hear you mocking me. It’s not like any of these criticisms are going to lead to me not watching the show’s last seven episodes, after all. But Game of Thrones has thrown its hat into the Great TV Shows of All-Time ring. Shows that bungle their conclusions don’t last very long in there. Endings can’t just be cool or feature a bunch of character deaths. They have to feel earned. Our heroes can live or they can die, their relationships can crumble or they can ride into the sunset forever. Whatever the outcome, it has to feel like the writers are playing by the rules they’ve established throughout the series, and it suddenly doesn’t feel like that’s true.
Ok, fine. But let’s not rush to judgment before the show actually, you know, ends. There’s still time to set things right.
Totally fair. Though it’s true that this season has featured some narrative contortions that an olympic gymnast would find impressive, it’s by no means too late for the show to pull itself together and deliver the kind of conclusion that leaves fans both wanting more and totally content with how it plays out.
Perhaps the writers will concede that they sped things up now to deliver a massive payoff next year.
If they do, it’ll be easier to forgive the missteps of the first six episodes of this season, and the show’s legacy ultimately won’t suffer much.
If they don’t, they’ll have botched one of the great story-telling opportunities the medium have ever seen.
Those are high stakes, I’ll grant you. Lucky for us, that’s often when Game of Thrones has been at its best.
By Megan Suttles on ©August 23rd, 2017 @ 9:00am
Tonight, Bravo will debut their new series Vanderpump Rules: Jax and Brittany Take Kentucky. The show is the perfect combination of my two favorite things–trashy Bravo shows and the Bluegrass State. But, like most seemingly perfect creations, Jax and Brittany Take Kentucky seems just too good to be true. The possibility of Bravo mishandling some of the sensitive subjects that will inevitably occur is almost a certainty. The network isn’t known for its nuanced approach to the lower class, tolerance and economic inequality–three topics that are important in Kentucky. Now, I’ll still watch, but I’m fearful that the sweeping generalizations of my state will steal my joy. Jax and Brittany is at a crossroads. They can retell the same old stories–eating KFC barefoot and cousins kissing cousins–or they can try something different.
Jax and Brittany is a spin off from Vanderpump Rules, which is a derivative of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Bravo’s family tree of TV shows doesn’t have a lot of forks. (That’s an appropriate use of an incest reference. Take note Bravo.) Brittany Cartwright, a native of Winchester, KY met Jax Taylor in Vegas and soon after, moved out to California to live with the reality star. The dynamics of their relationship has been meticulously documented on Vanderpump Rules. On screen, Jax is a less than desirable boyfriend. He has a history of cheating on his girlfriends. He uses money and spreads rumors to manipulate Brittany. And worst of all, he goes to the bathroom with the door open.
Regardless of all his flaws, Brittany has stayed with Jax all this time. (Or Not, according to this “news” article.) Brittany seems to think that she’s changed Jax. The goal is to get him to propose and coordinate the perfect Kentucky wedding. Here’s how I know Brittany is a true Kentuckian, her dream-wedding venue is the Versailles Road Castle. Literally every Kentucky girl dreams of having their wedding at The Castle. In their adolescent brains, they envision a celebration that is a combination of a quinceañera and a medieval festival. Brittany never grew out of her castle wedding phase and still dreams of the Ye Olde Wedding aesthetic.
Ostensibly, this is why Jax “takes on” Kentucky, to win over the family and eventually ask for Brittany’s hand. His trip down South provides the network with the opportunity to show an area that has often been ignored. The opportunity also has the potential to be damaging. One trope that Bravo has leaned into is the “traditions” and “heritage” of specific places. The Real Housewives of Atlanta swears that “sip and sees” are a thing. Southern Charm: Savannah was dead set on portraying the city as haunted. The Real Housewives of Potomac differentiated themselves from the others because they are well-versed in etiquette.
These regionalisms may be true to some, but Bravo writes the narrative that these truths are universal throughout the entire region. That’s fine if the idea is that everyone in Kentucky is “welcoming” or “resourceful.” The danger is when all of Kentucky is painted as a place that is suspicious of outsiders or hard-hearted and stubborn. Without having watched an episode of the series, I know there will be a moment when Brittany says, “That’s not how we do things here” or “That’s just how we are.” The distillation the entire state into one specific mindset is infuriating.
The show’s premise is Jax travelling from a Blue State to a Red State and gawking at the natives. The camera will be doing a lot of gawking as well. Bravo relies on images to serve as transitions between scenes as well as exposition for the setting. For The Real Housewives of Orange County, these images are usually crashing waves on the beach, expensive cars accelerating down a well-paved road or nondescript women weighed down by shopping bags. The shots are usually images of wealth. Jax and Brittany take on Kentucky will not tell the same story. There are many options for images for Kentucky. The most overused is the running horses statues in Lexington. The most inflammatory images would be too much footage of poverty, obesity and neglected landscapes. The portrayal of Kentucky needs to be honest. It’s honest and good storytelling to show poverty, obesity and neglected landscapes to tell a Bluegrass story, but those images can’t be the only sights viewers see. Jax and Brittney needs to be careful that they aren’t exploiting the state.
Cultural moments like Channing Tatum’s Dirtbike and Coal Mines video and J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy attempt to show an overlooked perspective of our state, a point of view that shows the Commonwealth as a place with grit, personality and obstacles to overcome. Bravo isn’t the network that will solve Kentucky’s reputation. As a state, we have some heavy issues to work through. It would be less than desirable to hear how backward and ignorant your state is from producers who usually film housewives getting Botox. Vanderpump Rules: Jax and Brittany Take Kentucky has an opportunity. Oddly enough, the show about a couple that fights, sometimes while one is defecating, can be the perfect opportunity to show a Kentucky less often seen.
This Saturday, 14 musical acts will descend on Masterson Station for the 2017 Moontower Music Festival. Bands will alternate performing on two stages from noon until the party ends. I went to my first Moontower Festival last year and it was a blast. Based on that experience, here are the five things I’m most excited about for this year’s festival:
Experiencing New Music
Of all the groups in the 2016 lineup, I only knew the three headliners. When I left Masterson Station Park I was a definite fan of five more bands. The only band I’m really familiar with this year is Umphrey’s McGee so I will be exposed to a lot of new music this weekend. I can’t wait.
Food Trucks Galore
Nothing says summer quite like hanging around outside, listening to music, and eating delicious food. Last year I was introduced to the Red State’s BBQ Parfait and it was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. The Red State food truck isn’t listed on the website for this year, but the options that are listed on the Moontower site are already making me hungry.
The only complaint for the festival last year was the really long line for beer. The issue wasn’t die to a lack of preparedness; rather, it was simply bad luck. One of the beer taps went down which led to long lines and some frustrated concert-goers. Hopefully bad luck won’t strike twice and things will run more smoothly this year.
The crowds at a music festival are often one of the most entertaining parts. When you get a group of people who are just having a good time and feeling the music, it can be something special. From really cool light-up hula hoop routines to some of the craziest dance moves I’ve ever seen, last year’s crowd set a high bar. Let’s see if this year’s crowd can up the ante.
A Lot of Fun
Saturday is shaping to be a lot of fun. The weather forecast looks great, the day is full of bands, food, beer, and activities. If you’re in the Lexington area and looking for something to do come on over and check it out. Richmond Bramblet and I will be there for the Funkhouser crew so come hang with us and have a good time. If you haven’t gotten your ticket yet you can get that here and if you use the promo code “KSR40” you’ll get your ticket for $40 instead of $49. Be sure to follow @FunkhouserKSR on Twitter to keep up with the latest from Moontower.
It was a wild ride “Beyond the Wall” and Kentucky Thrones Radio is here to discuss it all. In the first battle of fire and ice, both sides took heavy casualties. Nick and T.J. discuss where each side stands, what to prepare for in the season finale and…
— Tormund’s got jokes.
— Arya needs to chill out.
— Thrones took a page from The Revenant.
— POW! Right in the firesack.
— Will Jon and Dany get together?
You can easily listen on the KSR App, available on iTunes and Google Play. Streaming online is simple through Pod Paradise. You can also get it directly to your phone by subscribing to “Kentucky Sports Radio” on iTunes or via Android’s Podcast Addict app.
“Finally starting Game of Thrones.” The reluctant statement is spreading around faster than college football fever.
As KSR’s resident maester, I’m not here to just talk about last week’s episode on Kentucky Thrones Radio. I’m here to help everybody enjoy George R.R. Martin’s amazing world of fantasy. The following tips and graphics should be all a beginner needs to catch up with the rest of the world. Don’t worry, this post is spoiler-free.
Not Just for Nerds
This isn’t The Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter. If it were just fantasy/sci-fi, it wouldn’t be this popular. Thrones is a combination of Days of Our Lives and 300. It’s a soap opera with unexpected twists and turns, combined with sex and violence to appeal to a mass audience. Sprinkled on top of it all is a little witchcraft, magic, whatever you want to call it, and dragons.
Power Through Season One
It’s tough. There’s a lot of weird names and very little action (except for Lannister incest). Don’t worry; you are not alone. I’m not afraid to admit I stopped watching after two episodes, only to jump back on the bandwagon for season two.
Season one is the most boring part of the show, but it’s not unnecessary. A lot of minor details become major plot points down the (Kings)road. Besides, once you get through seven or eight episodes, Thrones makes a bold move that will keep you hooked for good.
You’re probably spending most of your time figuring out which oddly named character is a part of which house. This should help.
Westeros and Essos on a Map
Understanding spatial difference in a mythological world is next-level nerdom. Even if you don’t care to look right away, once characters really get to moving and shaking, these maps come in handy.
Reading is Unnecessary
Reading the books is one way to dive into the hysteria head first, but the show doesn’t force you to do extra homework. Complicated and extremely long, save the literature for when you are through binge-watching and season seven comes to a close. There’s a lot of waiting from now until season eight.
A Video Guide
For those who didn’t feel like reading, HBO actually created something to help you understand the show’s biggest storylines, with the help of Samuel L. Jackson. Just be warned, there’s a few spoilers and many F bombs (exactly what you should expect from Samuel L. Jackson).
By Richmond Bramblet on ©August 19th, 2017 @ 12:26pm
It’s nearing the end of the summer, which means it’s time for WWE’s ‘Biggest Party Of The Summer’ – Summerslam 2017. With the brand split that happened last year, Summerslam is one of the four times a year that the two brands end up on the same show. Because of that, Summerslam will be four hours long, not including the pre-show which will also have three more matches on it. So, needless to say, Sunday is going to be a long night for WWE Wrestling.
To get you in the mindset for WWE Summerslam 2017, the guys from the You’re Never Too Old To Watch Wrestling Podcast have put together their latest episode, which is a deep dive into the full Pay-Per-View card. Kentucky boys, Anthony Combs and Paul Phillips, talk weekly about all of the happenings in the wrestling ring, in a very entertaining show. Also, they have been very gracious to invite me to be a guest on the podcast, so I can throw around my prognostications of what might happen in Brooklyn on Sunday night. It’s a fun listen, so I hope you check it out!
The Summerslam Card
Hello, friends. I hope you’re well. It’s great to see you. Say, why don’t you let me hear you say “hey?” Now, let me hear you say “ho.” Now, throw your hands in the air. Yes, that’s how we do it.
Friends, I don’t have to tell you that it is a golden age for Kentucky. The sun is shining, football is about to return, the basketball season is looking to be amazing and Hollywood’s celebrities are saving our state! Channing Tatum has of course been all over the Bluegrass wearing his hat crooked and meeting locals, Game of Thrones’ Emilia Clarke has been filming a movie in Harlan about a famous Eastern Kentucky trial and next week sees the debut of whatever Vanderpump Rules’ Jax & Brittany Take Kentucky is on the Bravo network. But they’re not the only celebrities taking up Commonwealth causes right now. In fact, below is a comprehensive list of all celebrities and what they’re doing in Kentucky. I’d keep it handy if I were you.
Channing Tatum: Giving away motorcycle, touring mines
Jax Taylor & Brittany Cartwright: Learning Southern traditions
Emilia Clarke: Shooting a film in Harlan
Ashley Judd: Going viral
Drake: Wearing a full Kentucky uniform to play pickup basketball
Donald Faison: Installing high-speed internet in Owsley County
Ray Liotta: Walk-on for the Eastern Kentucky Colonels Football Team
Steve Harvey: Directing traffic between Fayette Mall and The Summit
Pitbull: Mediator between Lexington chicken tender restaurants
Dame Judi Dench: Personally bussing panhandlers
Neil Diamond: Singing “Kentucky Woman”
Leah Remini: Advocate for CenterPointe fall injury victims
Octavia Spencer: Eclipse Blindness
Ken Burns: Preservation of Daniel Boone’s wash tub
Lester Holt: Thoroughblades Comeback Campaign
Liam Neeson: Ale-8 Trafficking
Tom Bergeron: Host, Kentucky’s Dirtiest Hardees
Sean Penn: The Ohio River Untreated Drinking Water Project
Paul Giamatti: Knott County Toughman Contest (entrant)
Dr. Mehmet Oz: The Paul Giamatti Facial Reconstruction Special
Mark Harmon: Audiotour host, Paducah Quilt Museum
Meryl Streep: The Public Restrooms of Madison County (sequel)
Laurence Fishburne: Building a Wall Between Kentucky and Missouri
Sturgill Simpson: Benefit to Support Displaced Druthers Employees
Chris Hansen: Host, To Catch a Louisville Basketball Recruit
Remember the days when we sat around complaining about the exorbitant and ever-changing prices of cable packages? When we bemoaned cable company monopolies and looked forward to a future when we could select only the channels we wanted to watch without being married to a whole list of ones we didn’t care about? If only TV channels could be a la carte, we mused, our lives would be so much better.
Well, fellow idiots, we’ve gotten our wish!
Last week, Disney announced plans to remove its programming from Netflix and launch its own streaming service in 2019. Presumably, this service will grant subscribers access to the company’s TV programming (which includes ABC and ESPN), Disney’s substantial movie catalog, and all the Marvel and Star Wars content they own.
Fantastic. Now, instead of spending too much money on a cable subscription for the small selection of content I actually want to access, we can all spend too much money on Netflix, Hulu, Sling, HBO Now, this new Disney service, and whatever half-dozen other streaming services arrive between now and 2019.
In this age of “Peak TV,” viewers need to purchase (or, who are we kidding, borrow the login info for) subscriptions to at least five different services, plus some kind of basic cable package, in order to watch, for example, this year’s Emmy nominees. Shows, actors, and writers working for HBO, Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, Showtime, and a whole host of basic cable and over-the-air networks have received nominations, so if you want to see the best of what TV has to offer, you’d better be prepared to pay up.
Or, you better be a good juggler. New season of Game of Thrones? Ooh, better restart my NBO Now subscription and drop Hulu. House of Cards is back? Ok, Netflix is in; that Sling subscription can wait until I’ve binged it. More Handmaid’s Tale? Alright, back to square one.
Cost-conscious TV lovers will have to make these kinds of switches just to avoid a huge pileup of small monthly fees. $10 here and $15 there already add up, and you’d be forgiven for wondering what was so terrible when all the shows you wanted to watch came from just a few channels.
Don’t get me wrong: a world where the best writers, actors, and directors are being fought over by organizations lining up to give them the budgets and creative license to make great shows is a world I want to live in.
That said, it feels like we’re creeping toward a critical mass where viewers are going to long for the days of the cable company as middleman. What if a third party struck a deal that allowed them to offer Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Disney, etc. for a slightly smaller cost than subscribing to them independently. Would you leap at the deal? I might.
But I’d just be signing up for the old Time Warner cable package that made me want to pull my hair out 10 times a year from 2003 to 2012, when I first “cut the cord.” It would have a different name, and it might offer more content, but it would be essentially the same old monster.
Aside from a juggling act or a return to the bad old days of cable packages, I can see a future where viewers develop service loyalty akin to clothing or tech brands. You might be an HBO fan and slap a sticker on your car broadcasting as such. Or maybe you’ll wear a Netflix t-shirt to show your streaming pride.
Sound ridiculous? Count the number of YETI stickers you see on your next commute and tell me it’s not possible.
Listen, I want access to all the best content, just like everybody else. But if every channel or service that makes stuff we enjoy breaks off to establish their independence and keep that content off of other platforms, we’re all gonna have to pool our money and organize rotating watch parties just to see everything.
I’ll take care of HBO. You guys let me know who ends up with ESPN. I’m gonna be spending a lot of time at that person’s house, and I want to give them a heads up.
“It’s a Jungle Out There” is a song from Randy Newman’s latest album Dark Matter, which was released August 4th. Talk about timely. If the last week/month/year has revealed anything it’s that it is very much a jungle out there. While that can be intimidating at times, leave it to Randy Newman to deliver an album to call out the big issues of the world today in a charming, satiric manner which is enjoyable even if you don’t necessarily agree with the message. That’s exactly what Dark Matter is. It’s an album which starts off with an eight minute track called “The Great Debate” which outlines a debate between people of faith and people of science about dark matter, global warming, and evolution. If that doesn’t grab you then maybe his song “Putin” or the John Kennedy-Robert Kennedy conversation in the song “Brothers” will be more your style. Amidst the political and historical references there are several songs which showcase why Randy Newman’s career has spanned over 40 years…his uniquely Randy Newman charm.
Dark Matter contains songs with messages you may not agree with. “The Great Debate” is essentially about the devolution of mindful debate into a stone-throwing faith versus reason free for all. Depending on your perspective this song can be interpreted for or against either side represented. Even Newman himself is represented and disparaged within the song. The joke in this song isn’t on one particular group, but on all of us because when we lose the ability to talk sensibly, things just unravel. What makes the song entertaining is that it is absolutely right. The beauty of Newman’s satire, especially as it relates to politics, science, and religion, is that regardless of your personal viewpoint, it forces you to think about the other side. Too often we dismiss other points of view simply because it comes from a different perspective than our own. When we do that we ultimately lose the ability to reasonably debate and just spew talking points which doesn’t help anybody get anywhere.
Newman doesn’t stop his current event narrations with “The Great Debate”. Another song, and my personal favorite from the album, is simply titled “Putin”. Again, the current political landscape and the listener’s perspective will probably lead to different interpretations of the song. As for me, I just think it’s funny. The song explores various aspects of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Newman paints quite a picture for the listener, covering everything from Putin’s shirtless photo shoots to the notion of Putin wanting a war for better sea-front resorts on the Mediterranean; and, of course, the ultimate goal to propel Russia to its greatest heights. There’s even a mention of the state of Kentucky in the song, which was a pleasant surprise. I think. Much like how his other geopolitical masterpiece, “Political Science”, makes light of preemptive nuclear war, “Putin” uses extravagant humor to draw serious attention to how much of an egomaniac Putin appears to be.
(Minor NSFWish warning for language)
Maybe political satire isn’t your cup of tea. Of the nine tracks on the album the two previously mentioned are the most directly political. The rest of the album is primarily the Randy Newman most people know from his movie work and Family Guy cameo. His dopey charm really shines through on “She Chose Me” and “On the Beach”. Meanwhile, “Lost Without You” and “Wandering Boy” are emotional, heavy stories of loss that, when partnered with Newman’s voice, are so sweetly sad that it makes you just want to go hug a loved one. “Sonny Boy” is a historical account of musician “Sonny Boy” Williamson’s career and murder, while “Brothers” is a musical conversation between the Kennedy brothers about Washington Redskins football and the Cuban Revolution. See, there’s something for everyone to enjoy!
Ultimately Dark Matter is an all-encompassing roller coaster which will make you feel a lot of different things. The first time I listened to the album was while I was running and I got so into it I forgot how much I hate running (especially on hills). The second listen was a much more thoughtful experience, but that’s ultimately the real beauty of this album. Newman is a great musician and lyricist, which is why he’s been around for so long. Dark Matter is 100% worth a listen, and if we can’t all agree to laugh at Putin, what can we agree on?
By Richmond Bramblet on ©August 15th, 2017 @ 9:00am
In just two days, Indianapolis is about to have a huge gaming problem on its hands. On August 17, Gen Con 50 descends on Indianapolis and with it comes possibly the largest crowd in Gen Con history. Over a month before the largest and longest-running gaming convention in North America, Gen Con sold out of four-day badges in July. Yesterday, it was announced that ALL badges for Gen Con 50 have been completely sold out. Last year, the turnstile numbers for 2016 reached over 200,000 vistors, with the number of unique attendees was over 60,000. Now imagine that that number may possibly go up to almost 75,000 people, and Indy could become a very crowded place for tabletop gaming and role-playing games.
So as (recently hospitalized, hopefully recovering) Ric Flair would say, “What’s causing all this?” The hobby gaming market has been rising year after year, and according to Icv2, reached nearly $1.2 billion in sales in 2016. Hobby board, card, and dice games combined for over $350 million of that total. So, it’s no wonder that Gen Con 50 is looking to be the biggest in its half-century history.
I am not exaggerating when I say that there will over 500 games being demoed or sold at Gen Con this year, so it is impossible to talk about all the exciting things coming out this year. I previewed three of the games in my Origins Recap, including The Climbers, Summit and Rhino Hero: Super Battle. All three of those games will be on sale at Gen Con, so check out my previous post to know more about them. Below, however, I have listed a few more games that I am personally excited to play/get my hands on. (You can see all of the games at Gen Con in this handy BoardGameGeek.com preview list)
Restoration Games Suite
Restoration Games debuted as a company during Gen Con 2016, where they announced that the basis behind their business plan was to take games from the past that were solid, and update them for modern times. Their first announced game was Stop Thief!, a game about using an electronic squawk-box to use audio clues to track down a thief and capture them. The game has been updated with new movement mechanics and has replaced the squawk box with an iPhone app that makes all of the appropriate audio clues. On Kickstarter, Restoration Games raised over $100k in their campaign and Stop Thief! should be in the hands of U.S. backers, hopefully this week.
Since then, Restoration Games announced two other games: Downforce and Indulgence. Downforce is a racing game, where players manage the cards in their hand to move the race cars across the finish line. There are betting and auction mechanics in the game as well, and the person with the most money at the end of the game wins. Downforce seems to have the most excitement behind it in the Restoration Games’ line. Indulgence is a trick taking card game, based off of 1981 game Dragonmaster. In the game, players will choose a rule for the round (take none of one suit), but other players have the option to ‘sin’ and choose the opposite (take all of one suit) and potentially score a lot of points. All three of these games are intriguing to me. You can get all three at Gen Con for $80, but if you backed Stop Thief! on Kickstarter, you can get both Downforce & Indulgence for $10 off the MSRP. Restoration Games will also make an announcement at the Dice Tower Live panel on Friday, on what their next game (or games) will be.
If I’m not mistaken, some version of Codenames has ended up on my list each of the past three years for GenCon (this one included). In 2015, it was Codenames. In 2016, it was Codenames Pictures. Finally, in 2017, we have Codenames Duet. Codenames Duet is a two-player cooperative version of the word guessing game. In traditional Codenames, teams go back and forth trying to guess 8-9 secret words that one member of their team is leading them towards via one-word clues. A grid of 25 words is set out on the table, and the clue-givers will have an answer key with their words in either Red or Blue. In Codenames Duet, two players will sit across from each other and see different sides of a the same color coded answer key, with the squares marked in green represent the words they are trying to get their partner to guess. Each side will have nine green squares, but three of those squares are the same on both sides, meaning the team is going for 15 total words. Three other words are marked in black (assassins), and if your partner guesses those words, the game is automatically over.
I’ve always been a fan of Codenames, and in a time where I thought we were about to hit peak Codenames, Duet levels things out a little bit. This will be a great game to take to a coffee shop on a Saturday or Sunday morning to play with your friend, significant-other, spouse, etc., while chatting over whatever else. From what I understand, it is a bit of a brain-burner and much more difficult than you would imagine, which is what Codenames really needs.
Go Nuts for Donuts
Sushi Go! was a big game for introducing friends to playing tabletop/card games. I feel like Gamewright’s Go Nuts for Donuts might have that same ability with a differing play style. In Go Nuts for Donuts, players will hold cards in their hands for the number of players in the game (plus one). So, if there are five players, they will hold the numbers 1-6 in their hand. Six cards will be drawn off the top of the deck and laid out, numbered 1-6. At the same time, players will decide which donut they want from the table, choose its number, and lay that face down on the table. Upon reveal, players will take the donut they chose – UNLESS – two players pick the same donut, in which case that donut will go in the discard pile and no one gets it. Each donut has a differing point value or power, some requiring you to get sets of the same donut to score more points. The scoring will be familiar for those who played Sushi Go!, but the actual picking mechanic changes everything up and makes for a fresh game. Who doesn’t love donuts?
Train games have served for the basis for many popular board games, with Ticket To Ride quite possibly being the most popular/well known. Well, Bezier Games and Scott Caputo is coming out with Whistle Stop, a pick-up and delivery train game that looks pretty interesting and people seem to be buzzing about it. Unlike most train games, where the board is already a map with pre-determined routes, Whistle Stop gives you the framework for the map, and over the course of the game, you fill out the tracks and routes with tiles from your hand. The goal of the game is to get your trains from the east coast to the west coast, picking up and delivering goods to get points and railroad shares. You need to be able to pick up goods and take them to specific cities, because if you do not have the goods a city wants, you will lose points. Players can upgrade their train to do special actions, all in an effort to have the most fame points at the end of the game.
I wasn’t initially sold on the game, but after seeing it at Origins and hearing an overwhelmingly positive reaction from board game media, I will definitely check this out, and potentially pick this up.
Again, there are 500+ games coming out or being demoed at Gen Con, so there is going to be plenty to see, as well plenty of surprises that are sure to come later this week. There is going to be some sort of demo for Pandemic Legacy: Season 2 (which I still need to finish season 1). There is so much going on, that it’s impossible to talk about every thing.
Summit Charity Event | Thursday, August 17 @ 9pm
In my recap following Origins, I mentioned that one of the games that I was looking forward to playing was Summit from Inside Up Games. The “Mountain Survival” game plays both as a Solo, Co-operative, and competitive game. Since Origins, I have played Summit multiple times and I have been very happy with what the game provides both in the Co-Op and competitive modes. Undoubtedly, competitive play serves as one of the most brutal challenges, as you have many other players trying to stab you in the back to keep you from getting to the top of the mountain and back. So, why not put together a competitive game with five of the most entertaining board game media personalities for charity?
That’s exactly what Friend of Funkhouser and Inside Up Games’ Conor McGoey has done. On Thursday Night at 9pm, five people will go head to head in a brutal game of Summit. Playing the game will be Marty Connell (Rolling Dice & Taking Names), Chris Miller (Secret Cabal Gaming Podcast), Brandon Nall (Brawling Brothers), Christina Rouse (Blue Peg, Pink Peg), and Stephanie Straw (BGG & general gaming awesomeness). Commentary will be provided by Robb Rouse (Blue Peg, Pink Peg) and Tony McRee (Rolling Dice & Taking Names). All tickets sold to watch the event will go to Gen Con’s charity, McGoey and Inside Up Games will donate money to the charity of the winner’s choice. For full disclosure, I’m Team Christina (unless she get’s eliminated then I’m Team Brandon, unless…)
Rolling Dice & Taking Names Strike Tournament | Friday, August 18 @ 7pm
I’m not going to lie and say I know exactly where the fascination with popular convention game Strike came from. It most likely has something to do with Rodney Smith of Watch it Played, as he has been championing the game for the last few years. In it’s simplest explanation, in Strike, each player gets a number of gladiator (dice) and they will throw a die one at a time into the Arena (game box). After rolling, if your dice match any other dice, you remove all matching dice into your stock, and the next player goes. If after removing your gladiators, none remain in the bowl, the next player has to throw all of their dice in. Players are eliminated if they have no dice remaining, with the final person standing winning the game.
Rolling Dice and Taking Names Podcast is having a meet-up on Friday night at 7:00pm in the Omni Hotel Bar, in which there will be a Strike Tournament. Team Tony suggests that the game is about Gladiators in an Arena, while team Marty feels that the game is nothing more than dice in a bowl. The players who reach the finals will battle to get to determine how the game will be referred to for the coming year. I plan on being there, and I may have a surprise up my sleeve for the Strike Tournament.
The Secret Cabal Gaming Podcast Meetup | Saturday, August 19 @ 8pm
The Secret Cabal Gaming Podcast might have one of the strongest followings of board game related podcasts. I was able to go to their meet-up at Origins this year, and the huge crowd nearly brought the restaurant to its knees. There were so many people at the event, that the sound system wasn’t loud enough to reach everyone, so everyone started chanting the raffle numbers until the winner was found. It definitely weirded out the non-gamers at the restaurant, but that made it even more enjoyable.
The event, which will be held at Tow Yard Brewing on Saturday night, will be one of the biggest events of the weekend. There are going to be about 500 swag bags given out, a huge raffle where each winner (I think there were 25-30 at Origins) takes home a giant stack of games. Tow Yard is even brewing a special beer for the Cabalists, called Full Froth, which you will only be able to get at the meet-up. I can’t make it to this one, which is probably for the best, but if you’re around, you should definitely go and hang out at one of the wildest events in Indy on Saturday night.
If you are going to be at Gen Con 50, please come find me and say hello. Send any cool pictures you might take to @FunkhouserKSR on Twitter, and I’ll retweet them as well. Hope to see you all there, this is going to be a fun week!
The KTR crew has a lot to discuss after an extremely eventful Game of Thrones episode. “Eastwatch” picked up after a battle of fire and left off in the icy tundra north of The Wall. Nick and T.J. talk about everything that happened, starting with…
— Is the show moving too fast?
— Gilly’s shocking revelation and its implications.
— The confusing connections between Bran and the Night King and a bold theory.
— The Baratheons are back and T.J. can’t contain his emotions.
— It’s a cat-and-mouse game between Littlefinger and Arya, but who is in control?
— Two BOLD predictions from Nick for next week’s episode.
You can easily listen on the KSR App, available on iTunes and Google Play. Streaming online is simple through Pod Paradise. You can also get it directly to your phone by subscribing to “Kentucky Sports Radio” on iTunes or via Android’s Podcast Addict app.
It feels like every day brings news of yet another reboot, remake, or reimagining of this or that beloved (or sometimes, not all that beloved) film or TV show.
I bet it wouldn’t take you 20 seconds to name five properties that have been rebooted just this year.
Now, I’m not here to debate whether all this rebooting signifies an absence of creativity or an unwillingness to take business risks in the entertainment industry. Maybe it is. Or maybe the internet has made a cottage industry out of nostalgia, and we’ve given Hollywood a step-by-step guide on how to capitalize on it.
Chicken. Egg. Whatever.
No, I’m here on a different mission: protect a precious few classics from what’s starting to feel like inevitable pillaging by the Netflix/Hulu/HBO/Hollywood money-printing machine. The premise is simple. Keep your grubby hands off of these precious few properties, and you can do whatever else you want. Deal? Good.
The Wonder Years
You could argue that Boy Meets World was its own kind of reboot of The Wonder Years (which then received its own reboot with Girl Meets World a few years ago), but what I’m really worried about is seeing someone try to recreate TWY’s pitch-perfect balance of youthful innocence and world-weary coming-of-age story. Kevin Arnold was both naïve and wise beyond his years, which made him an ideal representation of childhood and adulthood alike. Any reboot would have to position Kevin as an adult raising his own kid, which would split the focus of the show and dilute what made the kid-centric original so great.
If you really pushed me, you could maybe get me to admit that, yes, some of the effects in E.T. don’t quite hold up as well as I might like. But that’s about as much of a concession as I’d be willing to make regarding how the film has aged. Unlike many movies from my youth that don’t hold up all that well, E.T. is rock solid. That said, I can see somebody pitching the idea of revisiting our little brown friend as he returns to Earth and enlists either grown-up Elliot or a new kid (or both) to help him resolve some paper-thin plot point. And yes, the eighties nostalgia machine — with plenty of help from Stranger Things — is firing on all cylinders at the moment, but this one is (ok, should be) untouchable.
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
Uncle Phil has passed away, and Will, Carlton, and Hillary return to Phil and Viv’s Bel-Air mansion to sort through the family’s affairs, reconnect, and reminisce, all sorting through the unexpected challenges they’ve faced over the last two decades. That’s it. That’s the elevator pitch. It sounds like a not-so-terrible idea, but it’s absolutely a terrible idea. Fresh Prince was made in an era before Will Smith spent a decade as the world’s brightest young movie star, but now, it would be impossible to watch any Fresh Prince reunion without being painfully aware of Smith’s status (even if he’s not the box office draw he once was). He was always the sun around which everyone else orbited, but now he’d be a black hole, and I don’t think the show could recover. Plus, not having Uncle Phil — the show’s true soul — would cast a pall over the entire endeavor.
Back to the Future
Setting aside the likelihood of getting Michael J. Fox to return in what would surely be the Doc Brown ro… wait, what’s that? Christopher Lloyd is alive!? He’s only 78!? Ok, so now you’d have to get Marty McFly and Doc Brown back into the fold (calling it Back to the Future without those two would add insult to the injury of a reboot), and come up with a compelling story to warrant returning to the material? Weren’t the sequels enough of a punishment for the people who loved the original? I mean, sure, we got those self-lacing Nikes, but besides that? Aside from the temptation of getting Fox in front of the camera again for old times’ sake, trying to bring Back to the Future out of the past would be enough of a sin that I’d consider building a time machine to go back and make sure the reboot never happened.
Rumor has it that this one might actually already be en route to a reboot or sequel. Michael Keaton is having a moment, after all, and since no sweet piece of nostalgia can go unmined these days, rumor is that the Ghost with the Most will return to the big screen. For some reason, this one strikes me as the worst idea on this entire list. It’s not that Beetlejuice is the most beloved property or even the best work on this list, but the movie is just so weird and singular that bringing the character back would shatter some of the amazement that the original got made in the first place. And on a practical level, does Tim Burton come back to direct? And if so, does the new Beetlejuice become a CGI-stuffed mess like much of Burton’s late career work? I’m afraid chances are high. Let’s just let this bizarre piece of creative brilliance stand on its own, shall we? (We’re neglecting the animated series altogether. Agreed?)
In fact, for once, let’s let sleeping dogs lie. Some things (ok, most things) are better left un-rebooted, un-sequeled, and otherwise left to the business of warming our thoughts about the past. Let’s let these five do that, shall we?
By Richmond Bramblet on ©August 12th, 2017 @ 5:30pm
On August 26, MoonTower Music Festival returns to Masterson Station for its fourth year. MoonTower has been the host to BBN favorites Sundy Best and this year promises to have its biggest show. Along with headline acts Umphrey’s McGee, Benjamin Booker, Cherub, and Todd Snider & The Eastside Bulldogs, the festival will feature music from many different genres like rock, jazz, bluegrass, alternative, and more. If you’re looking for a day to hang out with friends, drink a cold beer, eat some delicious local food, and listen to some good music then Moontower is the place you want to be. General admission tickets are $45 ($49 after August 15), but if you order online using KSR Funkhouser’s own special promo code “KSR40” here you’ll land tix for only $40!
Doors open at 11:00 and you can bring your kids (and dogs). There will be a beer garden with West 6th and Rhinegeist, as well as a bourbon and wine bar! Be sure to come out hang out with the Funkhouser crew and be a part of the fun!
With summer wrapping up and Game of Thrones winding down (which is almost worse than summer being over tbh), I thought it’d be great to look ahead at the movies coming out in August and September. The summer was a down year for movie studios, taking in less money than in the last decade. Yes, you’ve heard about the blockbusters; Wonder Woman, Spider-Man:Homecoming, and Dunkirk are a few. However there are also the major flops; Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets and The Dark Tower. Movies that cost millions to make, market, and distribute have brought along a depressing summer for movie studios. Looking ahead there is still time to make up for these losses with a decent slate of flicks coming out.
Logan Lucky (August 18th)
Starring Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, and Daniel Craig, this looks to be a low tech version of Ocean’s Eleven. Set around a heist at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, the movie shows Daniel Craig like we’ve never seen him before. The cast goes beyond the three actors I’ve already mentioned, and appears to be a good popcorn movie. With all the thought provoking Oscar contenders coming up later in the fall, it’ll be nice to sit back and laugh without having to worry about simple things like plot.
It (September 8th)
Do you remember the 1990 TV miniseries? If you answered yes, believe that it was scary, and don’t see a reason for this movie, I feel sorry for you. The Stephen King novel is the stuff of nightmares (namely mine as a teenager), that was done lip service by TV. I realize it had some very popular actors in it at the time, especially John Ritter and Tim Curry, but the miniseries hasn’t aged well. With no constraints for the horror, It promises to be the reason for your new nightmares. It doubles down on modern horror with placing the younger Loser’s Club in the mid 80’s, or right around the time I was in my early teens. While The Dark Tower had a Herculean task before it, It can draw directly from the novel and scare us all into next year.
American Assassin (September 15th)
Based off the novels of Vince Flynn, who passed away from cancer in 2013, the adventures of Mitch Rapp get the big screen treatment. Working as a CIA operative after the death of his girlfriend by terrorists, this is the origin story of how Rapp began his career with the CIA. Flynn’s influence includes such acclaimed writers as Tolkien, Hemingway, and Clancy. I have devoured all of the novels with growing interest as to what they can become. A good mix of James Bond, Jason Bourne, and Jack Ryan, Mitch Rapp has the potential to place his name into the archives of kick butt government spooks. Worth a chance.
Kingsmen: The Golden Cirlce (September 29th)
And finally, the continuing adventures of Eggsy and the Kingsmen. A breakout hit in 2014, the modern knights of the round table are forced to join forces with their American cousins, the Statesmen. The Kingsmen use names such as Galahad, Merlin, and Arthur, which gives me a smile when I heard what some of the Statesmen code names are: Tequila, Whiskey, and Champagne. One high point for all Kentuckians to be on the lookout for is the bluegrass tie in to the Golden Circle, bourbon. It has been featured in several of the promos for the film, and looks to be a major plot point in the movie. That is an idea we can all get behind. Bottoms up to this film.
That’s all I have for now. Football, changing leaves, cooler nights, and the Walking Dead will be here in a few short weeks. Until then grab a ticket and some popcorn at your local theater. Cheers.
As always, each week KSR’s Funkhouser collects the best of pop culture. And as always, The Entertation Index collects the best of the week for your consumption.
Bros., Coen — Good news for people who love the Coen Brothers (me included); the minds behind The Big Lebowski, Raising Arizona, No Country for Old Men and other classics will be taking their writing and directing sensibilities to a Netflix anthology series about the Old West. This great news can only mean a cast of diverse characters is on the way including the quirky blacksmith, the quirky gunslinger, the quirky apothecarian, the quirky brothel madame and the quirky sheriff, among others.
Link: The Coen Bros. “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” is headed to Netflix
Burton, LeVar — Buffalo, New York public broadcasting station WNED, which once produced LeVar Burton’s Reading Rainbow series, has filed suit against the show’s former host for using the catchphrase “You don’t have to take my word for it” in his new podcast LeVar Burton Reads, proving once again that if for anything nice and good in the world there’s someone who’ll try to find a way to make it go away because they’re not making enough money from it. But you don’t have to take my word for it. (PLEASE DON’T SUE ME.)
Link: LeVar Burton Sued for Using Reading Rainbow Catchphrase in Podcast
Campbell, Glen — Yesterday saw country singer and American songwriting legend Glen Campbell sadly passed away on Tuesday following a long battle with Alzheimers. In honor of the Campbell’s classic-filled career I’d like to suggest we all listen to “Wichita Lineman” today and excuse me I have something in my eye.
Cyrus, Billy Ray — The Kentucky Music Hall of Fame announced its 2018 class on Wednesday, with “Achy Breaky Heart” singer Billy Ray Cyrus at the head of the list. “We’d like to recognize Mr. Cyrus for his achievements in songwriting and performing,” said a spokesperson for the Hall of Fame, “and humbly hope that with this induction Mr. Cyrus will stop calling us.”
Link: Billy Ray Cyrus Tops 2018 Kentucky Music Hall of Fame Class
Gallagher, Liam — We all know that former Oasis co-founder Liam Gallagher, is, like, a super nice guy, so I’m sure it will really shock you to read the following ranked list of things Liam Gallagher has crapped on, which include his brother, of course, but also cars and the ocean. Great dude, that dude.
Link: Liam Gallagher’s Latest Slew of Insults, Ranked from Least to Most Absurd
Letterman, David — Rejoice, rejoice; David Letterman is returning to us. The former Late Show host has inked a deal with Netflix to do a six-episode series of long form segments, in-depth interviews and field pieces. He’s even talking with Paul Schaeffer to be involved in some way. He also, it should be noted, closes the following Entertainment Weekly piece in classic Letterman fashion, noting “We’re negotiating with the beard right now.
Link: David Letterman on Netflix Comeback – I’ll Ask “Whatever I Want”
Thrones, Game of — Leave it to a bunch of Redditors to exaggerate the latest bizarre Game of Thrones theory — that during the Arya/Brienne duel on Sunday the ghost of Catelyn Stark was seen crossing through a doorway in the background. It could be real, or it could be a bizarre coincidence, but either way, if it’s something you want to spend 35 minutes telling me about at a party I’d thank you to leave me alone.
Link: Fans Spotted Something Creepy as Hell in a Scene from Game of Thrones