Howdy, folks, and welcome to a new week. It was a huge weekend for the →
KSR’s take on recent non sports related happenings
*inevitable mild spoilers*
I’ve been thinking a lot about the endings to movies, TV shows and podcasts. It all started when I was disappointed with the end of This is Us. I felt like I was owed an explaination for a specific storyline that ran through the first season of the show. In the end, I was left with this weird question mark. It was like ending a song on the wrong chord. I felt like I had been wronged. I was ready to rage against the writers. I wanted to make an embroidered hat that read “Make Stories End Again.” The injustice got me thinking, do audiences deserve good endings? Are cliffhangers viable options? In non-fiction especially, should the storyteller tie up all the loose ends or is “that’s how life is” an acceptable retort? Today, we will explore all of the possible answers and come up with a neat and tidy resolution in the end.
Q: Do Audiences Deserve Good Endings?
The ending of a story should feel like a solution. Every piece of the puzzle should paint a picture that leads to an unexpected, yet completely satisfying explanation of what happened. Last Sunday, audiences were treated to the perfect ending of Big Little Lies on HBO. Though the show had its faults, the pieces to the puzzle all came together in the end. Not only was the mystery solved, but it came to satisfying conclusion (so much so that audiences were asking for a second season of the show.)
But, it’s not that simple. Big Little Lies shows that a cut and dry ending isn’t always true to the story. The show’s executive producer, David E. Kelley said, “You want to give your audience a sense of closure, and at the same time, life doesn’t serve up closure very often. And in <the final scene>, we were endeavoring to show that the women had come together, that the story is not over.” Kelley’s endeavor that he was endeavoring to show was that stories don’t have perfect endings. Which leads us to our next question…
Q: Do Audiences Deserve Good Endings?
If I am honest with myself, part of why I finish books or a TV series is to know the mystery. I want to know the ending so that it can’t be spoiled for me. Knowledge is power and if I know whether Jon Snow is alive or dead, then it can’t be spoiled for me. In this case, it is not about whether it is a “good” or “bad” ending, it is just that I know the outcome. In the case of the three podcasts Missing Richard Simmons, Serial and S-Town, there isn’t a set answer to be known. There are theories. There are life lessons to be learned, but there isn’t a neat little bow that ties up the whole package. Missing Richard Simmons ends with the sounds of the beach. The answer to the question “where did Richard go?” is up for specualtion. There is a sortof consensus answer about his whereabouts, but no definitive answer.
And that’s ok.
Part of what Missing Richard Simmons’ creator Dan Taberski learns through his podcast is that Simmons lead a extremely public life. Maybe in his recent retreat out of the public eye, he has found a way to become more private. Maybe Simmons isn’t missing or hiding, he’s just living. That’s an ending to a story that isn’t very satisfying because it makes the public the bad guy, the villian Simmons is hiding from. This ending isn’t as satsifying as my working theory as I listened to the podcast. My theory was that Taberski would peel back the curtain to reveal that Simmons had gained lots of weight and was hiding out of shame. That’s a Hollywood ending that is satisfying. That’s a Hollywood ending that says more about me than it does about Simmons. I was looking, searching and listening for an ending that was scandalous. I wanted an ending that was dramatic. In reality, the real end to Missing Richard Simmons was the correct way to end a story about a man who lived in the spotlight. It is correct, because it’s the truth. He ends up on a beach, doing what he wants without the scrutiny of the public who wishes the worst for him at the end of a podcast. It’s not a good ending, but it is the ending that was meant to be told.
Q: Do Audiences Deserve Good Endings?
A: Maybe So
Endings can be maddening. Rational viewers/listeners know that non-fiction stories don’t necessariy have to have perfect endings. In S-Town, the mystery of finding the gold is never solved. It ends with this linear description of John Brooks McLemore’s family history. His story was a series of events that culminated in his ending. It is what it is and to wish for a different ending isn’t being true to the story. Audiences want Adnan from Serial to have a burping confession like Robert Durst’s from The Jinx. We want Making a Murderer to end as neatly as Breaking Bad. That’s never going to happen and we shouldn’t expect them to.
Endings can be maddening. And that’s a good thing. Stories that trail off stick with you. If you aren’t garunteed an ending, then there is still the thrill of hope. Do audiences deserve good endings? Yes. Are good endings guaranteed? No, but we will keep hoping for them anyway.
Last Sunday marked the end of an era for the WWE. The Undertaker took the ring for the last time in the main event of Wrestlemania. After losing to Roman Reigns, Taker left his trademark gloves, coat, and hat in the middle of the ring. This act served as confirmation for what many believed going into the night, the Undertaker was bidding farewell to his life as an in-ring performer. After the match, the Undertaker stayed in the ring to soak in the moment, which brought many of the fans in Orlando (and those watching on TV) to tears. The ten minute curtain call was easily the best moment of Wrestlemania, as we looked one last time at the man many consider to be one of the top three wrestling characters of all time.
The match preceding the curtain call, however, has been widely criticized by many wrestling fans and critics. Twitter was alight with bemoaning of Taker losing, the quality of the match, and the whole Roman Reigns thing. To be honest, the match itself had some difficult moments to watch. The nearly-failed Last Ride, the botched reverse Tombstone, the awkward application of Hell’s Gate. These moments were unfortunate for sure. The match also was way too long. There was no reason this match needed to last 20+ minutes, yet it did. One thing that was lost in the knee jerk reaction of the match was that despite the awkwardness and length, the match told the perfect story.
Yes, you read that right, I thought the storyline of the match was perfect. Look at the build up to the match. This match was about whose “yard” the WWE was. I agree, the metaphor of the “yard” is unfortunate, but this match was designed to end the Undertaker’s career. Not in a “loser leaves town” or “retirement” match gimmick, but a true swan song for one of the best to ever step in the squared circle. The Undertaker clearly struggled along at points in this match, but that was what we were being sold in the story. Reigns had to be, beyond the shadow of a doubt, the better man in this match to sell this angle.
The Undertaker dominated the beginning of the match, but as it wore on Reigns clearly took over. Look at the bumps Taker took in this match: running into the ring post, getting speared through an announcer table, taking 1000 spears, chair shots, going over the top rope and landing on his feet (this counts as a bump for a guy with the medical history of the Undertaker). We (fans) wanted to see Taker dominate Reigns like Kendrick Lamar dominating fools in his new song Humble (NSFW). That would not have served any purpose though. What does the WWE gain from Undertaker winning? Sure the feels would’ve been there, but wrestling fans are notorious for holding out hope that our favorites have one more match in them. Does anyone really believe that the Undertaker has one more match in him after that? I think that was the point.
That brings us to the Roman Reigns thing. I’m not going to make a case for Reigns to be (or not to be) whatever the WWE is trying to turn him into. If there is one thing I’ve learned from listening to Bruce Prichard’s “Something to Wrestle With” podcast, it’s that you have to work with the guys you’ve got available. All of the other big names were involved in storylines and matches for Wrestlemania, storylines that play out beyond this one night in April. Ric Flair, Stone Cold, and Shawn Michaels all had the benefit of going out against guys who were there peers in terms of greatness (HBK, Rock, and Undertaker, respectively). There is nobody on the current roster who is on Undertaker’s level. Randy Orton and John Cena are the closest, but Orton has been in a storyline with Bray Wyatt and honestly Cena gets booed almost as much as Reigns does. Triple H may have been an option, but there’s no logical angle there. The situation was what it was, and Reigns drew the short straw here. Those who argue for a heel turn may eventually get that, but to turn heel Sunday night Reigns would have risked overshadowing Taker himself.
Ultimately, Undertaker’s last match at Wrestlemania wasn’t about the match at all. This was an opportunity for him to come out one more time on the stage where he transformed himself into the Phenom. When we think back on the Undertaker’s career we won’t think about this match. We’ll think about Wrestlemania 14 when he faced off with Kane. We’ll think of the 1998 King of the Ring when he threw Mankind off the cell. We’ll think of Casket matches, Buried Alive matches, the Streak, and all those ridiculously classic matches with Shawn Michaels. I’ll personally think of 2002 Unforgiven, the only pay-per-view I’ve ever attended. On that night I watched the Undertaker rip my 16 year old heart out when he beat Hulk Hogan for the WWE Championship. As he laid his gear in the center of the ring Sunday night, he left his heart there for the fans in the arena, for the fans watching, and for me. #ThankYouUndertaker
By Matthew Mahone on ©April 03rd, 2017 @ 9:30am
In the late 1950’s Jack Kent, a well-known and nationally-acclaimed illustrator began writing children’s books, and in 1968, his first book Just Only John was published. Now considered a collectors item, the book is a delightful tale about a four-year-old boy named John, who desperately yearns to be anything but himself. So he visits a witch and obtains a magical concoction that allows him to turn into all sorts of animals, including: a lamb, rabbit, pig, and even at one point a long-bearded, teeny-weeny, little old man. As one can imagine, when he transforms, he is fraught with unexpected dilemmas, but in the end, John discovers an oft-forgotten but essential lesson: Sometimes it’s better to just be yourself. But that’s easier said than done, especially in a small, rural whistle-stop in Alabama. More on John in a minute.
S-Town is the latest binge-worthy podcast, presented by This American Life, the same folks that brought you another celebrated, time-siphoning obsession, Serial. Hosted by producer Brian Reed, the new seven-part series, is just as, if not more all-consuming than it’s predecessor. While I found Season One of Serial to be gripping, entertaining and unquestionably binge-worthy, frankly I wasn’t ever able to connect with its characters and/or its events on a deeply personal level, and therefore, I’m ashamed to admit—I never finished it. I’m sure I’ll get around to it though. But S-Town? Now that’s another story entirely. Both Serial and S-Town rely heavily on a narrator, who takes listeners on a journey, investigating a real-life, whodunnit mystery, which starts out simple, but deliberately and methodically unravels into a labyrinthian narrative. Complete with recorded interviews which are palpable and humanizing, the series is actually fairly straightforward, yet it contains enough false clues, red-herrings and rabbit holes that will have you completely mesmerized, while keeping you guessing after each episode. It’s consummate storytelling in its purest form.
Initially the bones of the series begin as a murder cover-up, but pretty early on, the narrative begins to quickly shift, and while an underlying mystery remains, as do storm clouds of suspicion, the story dramatically alters its course, unearthing an unbelievably bizarre, but earnest and emotionally penetrating story. At the center of it all, is John B. McLemore, an eccentric 47 year old man who lives with his ailing mother, on a sprawling farm, map tacked in the small town of Woodstock, Alabama—population 900—which John affectionately refers to as Shit Town. For years he’s talked about leaving—yet never has. Why? “That informed who he was so much and it mattered to him so much that he never left, and he was so tortured about that,” Reed says. “I think a lot of people have that experience, and it’s an important experience to document.” Despite being a lifelong resident and well-known around town, John is considered an outsider, a black sheep, a weirdo, some would say. His fondness for small town gossip surely conveys normality, but the garden hedgerow maze with 64 permutations he’s constructed on his property is certainly peculiar. Through the interviews we learn John B’s unconventional ways are the talk of the town: there’s faint whisperings he keeps dungeons under his home, and then there’s the gold. Troves of it, supposedly buried in the woods. The company he keeps on occasion, including a small group of racist, bigoted, small-minded individuals, as well as some distant relatives, seem awfully interested in the later, and that’s not all the secrets he’s hiding.
There’s no denying that John is a vexing character, in many ways he’s also a walking contradiction. Upon first hearing his profanity laced musings and conspiracist theories on climate change and the looming collapse of society—which he may have predicted, my immediate thought, other than the fact his voice sounds strangely similar to someone I know, was that the guy is a total sociopath. On one hand he’s arrogant, vile and often crude, and minutes later a sage-like savant in chemistry, botany, and above all horology—a person who studies time—don’t worry I had to look it up too. Part antiquarian, part misanthrope, part Mad Hatter. Enigmatic? Very. Complex? Extremely. A lot like the clocks he meticulously repairs. But you and I have more in common with him than we might realize. While he hasn’t made a lot of true friends or sustained meaningful relationships over the years, he’s amassed quite a cache of secrets, locked away unrealized dreams, buried his doubts, fears, and insecurities—not unlike all of us in many ways. After all, what will your life’s story say about you? Who will tell it? And who’ll want to hear it, or remember it?
The book I mentioned earlier on, John Only John, is one John B. owned, cherished, and even gifted to his friend/mentoree Tyler to read to his kids, hoping they’d adore it and learn its lesson—it’s ironic and incredibly sad John never did, or couldn’t or wouldn’t rather. Or did he? But what about the murder cover-up? What about the gold? You’ll have to listen for yourself to see if they ever found John’s buried fortune.
But maybe, in the end, it was John’s story that was the real treasure all along.
Still, there’s so many unanswered and abiding questions I have about S-Town, and I’m sure after finishing the series, you will too. I honestly didn’t want the podcast to end, because I was pulled into the vortex that is John B’s psyche—and I’m not alone. So that’s why the writers of Funkhouser and I are looking forward to unpacking our thoughts on everything S-Town on an upcoming podcast of our own. We’d like our readers to be a part of it all, so share your thoughts, favorite moments, or lingering conundrums that you have about the series. Simply @ me on Twitter, and we’ll see if we can include them for our discussion.
To learn more about S-Town visit their website at www.stownpodcast.org
“And as the years go by
She will grow old and die
The roses in her garden fade away
Not one left for her grave
Not a rose for Emily…”
By Nick Roush on ©April 01st, 2017 @ 7:30pm
You can easily listen on the KSR App, available on iTunes and Google Play. You can also get it directly to your phone by subscribing to “Kentucky Sports Radio” on iTunes, streaming on Podbay, or via Android’s Podcast Addict app.
Ah, the Final Four. That halcyon weekend when Kentucky battles it out for the NCAA National Championship. Unfortunately, in 2017, because of a stupid game last Sunday, our Wildcats are not playing this weekend for a national championship. So what the hell are we supposed to do on Saturday? Or even Monday? This is just the worst. But if we have to watch all this dumb basketball, we might as well find out who we can root for. So let’s take a look, I guess.
Notable Alumni: Dirty basketball player John Stockton, Mean Father Bing Crosby
Fun Fact: Gonzaga is located in beautiful Spokane, Washington, where the campus is safe and protected from the many, many serial killers burying bodies in the nearby foothills. Also, your meal plan card now works at Panda Express on Boone Avenue!
Why you should root for them: Three weeks ago, picking Gonzaga to make the Final Four would have meant you know nothing about college basketball – but that same pick this year makes you look like you know a lot about college basketball.
Why you shouldn’t root for them: Gonzaga stole Kyle Wiltjer from us. He was part of the duo “The Goonies,” with Willie Cauley-Stein, and his leaving robbed us of that magic.
Notable Alumni: Jilted Today Show host Ann Curry, WKRP in Cincinnati’s Howard Hesseman
Fun Fact: Oregon University, which partners with nearby Nike, has a long list of avante garde uniforms. For two weeks in November, the team wore those checkered chef pants with clogs and the entire month of February saw the Ducks clad in nothing but men’s Spanx™ and tie-dyed doo-rags.
Why you should root for them: Despite the fact the Ducks mascot is the exact visage of Donald Duck, Oregon has managed to successfully evade Disney attorneys for over seventy years.
Why you shouldn’t root for them: Dana Altman is the highest paid coach left in the tourney, earning $2,651,000 per year and he’s never taken a team to the Final Four before. SUCKERS.
Notable Alumni: 2015 Celebrity Apprentice winner Leeza Gibbons, husky-boy football coach Charlie Weis.
Fun Fact: The State of South Carolina recently removed the Confederate flag from in front of its statehouse in Columbia; it was replaced with a flag bearing the word CHINA with a circle around it and a line through it.
Why you should root for them: If you don’t, Frank Martin will personally rip your arms off and beat you to death with them.
Why you shouldn’t root for them: The school’s plan, should they win the 2017 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship, is to display the trophy in the South of the Border rest stop and roadside attraction on Interstate I-95.
Notable Alumni: Folksy lawyer Andy Griffith, blonde screamer Chris Matthews
Fun Fact: Roy Williams pumps up his team before each game by enthusiastically playing hambone on his spoons.
Why you should root for them: You’re a spy in this state and you will be discovered WE ARE ONTO YOU.
Why you shouldn’t root for them: You treasure joy and happiness. Also, look at that damn prissy walking goat. YOU AREN’T A MAN, GOAT.
In just two days, we are about to go upon the “Ultimate Thrill Ride”. No, it’s not being crammed in a vehicle with Ryan Lemond and three other guys on a trip sponsored by Pie Five Pizza. It is, however, the Super Bowl of Wrestling*, Wrestlemania. Wrestlemania (the number has been dropped to not remind people how old the event is – #33) takes place in Orlando, Florida, and the WWE looks to wrap up one roller coaster of a year with its biggest show of the year. Think about it. In the last year, Raw and Smackdown have become wholly separate brands, phones have been hacked, and Goldberg is your Universal Champion!?!?! So, it’s time for this round to end and get a completely fresh start on the Raw after Wrestlemania. But first, we’ve got to get through the ‘Grandest Stage of Them All’, Wrestlemania 33.
As always, we thought at Funkhouser that we would predict the outcomes of the matches happening at the six, yes six, hour Wrestlemania event. Josh Juckett, Jay Winkler and I try our hands at figuring out what the hell is going on. Who will make more correct guesses on a pre-determined sporting event? Only time will tell.
(*They’re both scripted…)
Smackdown Women’s Six-Pack Challenge for the SD Women’s Championship
Richmond: I will completely admit that I am Team Blue, watching pretty much every episode of Smackdown, more so than Raw. That being said, while Smackdown has the better show, the women’s division on SD needs just one bigger name. They added Mickie James to the mix earlier in the year, but she’s been getting Zoe Barnes’d over on Impact for the last decade. This match is on the pre-show, and in Orlando, so I think Naomi picks up the win after returning from injury. I just don’t know how people will get to ‘feel the glow’, unless she confiscates everyone’s sunscreen at the door.
Josh: Bliss seems unlikely to retain the belt here, but I like to root for the underdog on occasion.
Jay: Alexa Bliss once sent a death glare in my direction at an NXT live event. Well, it’s time for her comeuppance! Recently returned Naomi will win back the belt in her hometown.
Neville (c) vs Austin Aries – WWE Cruiserweight Title
Richmond: I feel like a good number of the predictions will include the phrase “returning from injury”, but that’s the kind of year we’ve had. Neville was out for a good spell after an injury, but has completely reinvented his character into Neville: King of the Cruiserweights. His distain of being a sideshow act for his one move, The Red Arrow, has bled into his character and now he’s the evil champ of 205 Live, WWE’s cruiserweight program. Austin Aries, coming off of injury, has been playing reporter on Monday Night Raw, but has finally made his way to the ring again to challenge Neville for his title. While it’s been good to see Aries back in the ring, I think you keep the title on Neville. Maybe he gets a surprise challenger on Raw the following night. All Hail the King.
Josh: This match should be exciting and what more exciting way to get things going than with a title change. Aries wins this round and sets off a back and forth between these two that will last a while.
Jay: Neville should hold the Cruiserweight Title for years. He’s a little English monster man who can flip like a UK cheerleader. He’s just the best. But I think A-Double, Austin Aries, will be celebrating with a nice banana after a big title win.
Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal
Richmond: Cesaro. Big Show. Baron Corbin. Those are the first three names on the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal trophy. Your odds on favorite is Braun Strowman. You should just give him the award just for having the best build up of any big man since the Big Show debuted at St. Valentine’s Day Massacre all those years ago. That being said, Sami Zayn finds a way to be the Ultimate Underdog and pull off a win like Cesaro did three years ago.
Josh: Braun Strowman seems like the safe pick here, but I don’t like safe picks. I’m going with Big Show, unless Shaq shows up in which case I choose Shaq. Maybe this is how Hulk Hogan makes his return, but I doubt it (though I do think Hogan will be involved in the event somehow).
Jay: It only makes sense for the next great giant to triumph in the match dedicated to the first. As much as I’d like to see Sami Zayn pick up the Cinderella victory during Final Four weekend, I’m taking BRAUUUUUUN Strowman.
Raw Tag Team Championship Ladder Match
Richmond: I envision a couple things happening in the WWE Tag Team picture soon. 1) The Revival, aka Top Guys, debut on Monday or Smackdown on Tuesday (probably Tuesday). 2) Matt and Jeff Hardy make a surprise return to the WWE and spread their Broken Brilliance all over the landscape. I would picture them on Raw, as two semi-teleporting beings (The Hardys & Bray Wyatt) should probably not appear on the same show. So, I think the Good Brothers, The Club, Gallows and Anderson pick up the win here, to have someone big to face off against the Hardy’s when they return soon. Also, it’s a ladder match at Wrestlemania, when would you rather have Matt and Jeff return? Lastly, if there’s not an appearance by Chad 2 Badd and Tex Ferguson… I want my $9.99 back.
Josh: After The New Day held the belt so long it makes sense that the title should switch around a few times before settling somewhere for a while. Enzo and Cass haven’t had the title yet. If they’re good enough for the KFC Georgia Gold, then they’re good enough for Raw Tag Team Gold.
Jay: Ah, ladder matches at WrestleMania. You rarely disappoint. And this year, it’s gonna be a certain Certified G and his 7-foot comrade finally winning the gold. I’m taking Enzo and Cass.
Dean Ambrose (c) vs Baron Corbin – Intercontinental Championship
Richmond: Say what you want about Baron Corbin, but his stock has risen 10-fold since he won the ARMBAR (my shorthand for the Andre Battle Royal). His skills on the mic have improved over on Talking Smack, and while he’s only really faced three people in the last year, he’s fun to watch in the ring. A Corbin victory at Wrestlemania would be nice. I mean, who really cares. Zach Ryder won the IC Title last year and dropped it to the Miz the very next night. Reward Corbin for an awesome year, then drop it back to Ambrose on Tuesday.
Josh: Corbin has gotten some good licks in on Ambrose in the run-up to this match, but ultimately Ambrose gets the last laugh here.
Jay: I wish this was a No DQ match. These two could put on a real gnarly show with such a stipulation, which may happen in months to come, but for now, I think the better “wrestler” will win, and that’s Dean Ambrose.
John Cena & Nikki Bella vs Miz and Maryse
Richmond: Can we mention that the biggest news of this match is that Al Roker is the guest ring announcer for the match? Has that been lost in all of this? Someone made a joke on Reddit that after John Cena and Nikki Bella get married, Nikki’s initials will be NBC, and that’s why Al Roker is doing the ring announcing. Miz and Maryse have been doing next level stuff, but come-on… Cena and Nikki for the win
Josh: I have no strong feelings on this one. The real question is whether John will pull a Derek Willis and propose on the biggest stage of them all.
Jay: There’s really just no way Miz and Maryse win this match. I’ll be legitimately shocked, and not necessarily upset, if they do, but I just PROPOSE that Cena and Nikki get it done in the RING.
Chris Jericho (c) vs Kevin Owens – United States Championship
Richmond: These two. Jericho and Owens have been carrying one of the best storylines on their back for the last 6-8 months. Owens wins the title, Jericho becomes his best friend and helps him keep the title. During this time, Jericho finds a clipboard and starts to put people who make him mad on, The List. The fact that Jericho can get a list to be the most popular thing on WWE TV, proves that they should induct him into the Hall of Fame tonight. After being woo’ed by Triple H, and annoyed by Jericho’s everlasting friendship, Owens turns on Jericho in one of the most honestly sad moments of WWE in quite some time. This past Monday, Owens earned his name as the final spot on The List before Wrestlemania. Jericho should win this one to get his revenge on Owens. But for some reason, I see Owens walking out the US Champion.
Josh: Jericho is my choice because I like Owens’ potential for other storylines. Owens belongs in main event level matches and I think he’s poised for a push back into that status. To do that he needs to wrap up this thing with Jericho and move on without the US Championship holding him back.
Jay: Is an apron powerbomb at WrestleMania too much to ask for? I don’t think so. With that in mind, I’m taking KO to wrench the US Title away from his former best friend.
Raw Women’s Championship Fatal Four Way Elimination Match
Richmond: I agree with Jay below. I think this is exactly how it happens. Bayley eliminates Charlotte to prove she can get the job done without Sasha, then Sasha ‘turns’ on Bayley setting up a nice Bayley/Sasha feud that runs all the way through Summerslam. BOSS for the win.
Josh: Charlotte always seems like the safe bet in the pay-per- view events, but I like Sasha’s chances here. The real hope in the match is for the event to live up to last year’s triple threat match.
Jay: Logic dictates that Nia be eliminated first through a combined effort by Charlotte, Bayley, and Sasha. Charlotte goes next, also bounced by the teamwork of Sasha and Bayley. I think this is when the old BO$$ emerges to reclaim the title. Sasha wins.
Shane McMahon vs AJ Styles
Richmond: Corey Graves said last week on “Bring it to the Table” that the Shane/AJ match did nothing for him. I agree. AJ Styles had been WWE Champion for nearly six months, as the Champ That Runs The Camp. AJ styles puts on a next level show when it comes to in-ring performance. Shane on the other hand is good for one good death-defying (and at his age… you never know) jump and then a bunch of really bad punches. Both lost at Wrestlemania last year, but I see Shane winning, AJ moving to Raw with the Good Brothers (and Finn Balor), and the Club reuniting to run roughshod over the flagship show.
Josh: Shane-o- Mac got destroyed last year at Wrestlemania in the Cell match with Undertaker. He also got knocked out at Survivor Series. It’s time for McMahon to pull off the big time win.
Jay: Apparently, the WrestleMania set is designed to be a roller coaster. If you know Shane McMahon, you know that’s too tempting to not jump off of. But AJ is smart enough to avoid the impact. Styles gets his first Mania win here.
Seth Rollins vs Triple H
Richmond: Seth should get the victory here. You know that Samoa Joe will be involved in some form or fashion, and maybe that’s a good way to bring Finn Balor back to even the score. Rollins and Balor have both been on the rehab track together returning from injury. The storyline for these two has been running for so long, almost two years, but for some reason it seems like it doesn’t have the “Final Showdown” feel that it should. Maybe its because of Rollins injury recently, but I’m ready for Seth to move on to something else.
Josh: Like Undertaker vs Reigns, Rollins and Triple H has a very “torch passing” feel to it. The biggest difference is that where Reigns has remained a boo-machine from fans, Rollins has been better received from fans and doesn’t need Triple H to give him a push. Because of that I like Triple H here. I expect Triple H to use every heel trick in the book and get his Wrestlemania win % up to .500.
Jay: I smell shenanigans happening here. Samoa Joe is AWOL on the rest of the card. He’s gotta make an appearance somewhere, right? Still, somehow, someway, I think Seth Rollins is gonna get the job done.
The Undertaker vs Roman Reigns
Richmond: I’m going to parlay my pick for the next two matches. Undertaker is nearing the end of his career and everyone knows it. I don’t think anyone would be surprised if he lost to Roman Reigns, for multiple reasons. 1) Reigns is slated to be “The Guy”, no matter how much no one wants him to be “The Guy”. 2) Undertaker is old, he’s bound to not be at the top of his game anymore. Rumor is that they already have the main event of Wrestlemania 34 planned as Roman vs Lesnar for the title. Why not just have Reigns defeat the Undertaker, Lesnar defeat Goldberg for the title, then pull a Cena/Rock and just make the match a year ahead of time. That way, you can get the fans prepared 364 days in advance.
Josh: Reigns feels like he will never be over. Beating the Undertaker at Wrestlemania in an epic match could be what finally gets him over, but at this point it seems like it will take a miracle for that to happen. This could be that miracle.
Jay: The first ever “Whose yard is it?” match. I’m going to be completely unbiased here and say that Roman is going to win, frankly because I’d be surprised if Taker could still get Reigns up for the Tombstone. Sad!
Goldberg (c) vs Brock Lesnar – WWE Universal Championship
Richmond: See above. Not the ridiculous picture of Goldberg holding the title in 2017, but the match before.
Josh: Law of averages right? Goldberg has dominated Lesnar so it seems like the right time to for Lesnar to get the win and the belt. Goldberg never seem destined to have a long-term run in the WWE after coming out of retirement so it also makes sense that this would be his way to drop the belt and get ready to ride into the sunset.
Jay: We learned at Survior Series that, yes, Goldberg did have one last devastating Jackhammer left in him. At Fastlane, we learned that apparently, he actually had 2. I don’t think the third will pack the same punch. Brock Lesnar walks out with the Universal Title.
Bray Wyatt (c) vs Randy Orton – WWE Championship
Richmond: Can we all agree that Randy Orton has been the bad guy in this feud the entire time? Especially since breaking off from the Wyatt Family? Since Wyatt won the title, he hasn’t really been doing any of his nefarious act as he used to. But at that point Orton had been in the Wyatt Family for a couple of months and was working his way out from the inside. First he turned Haprer against Wyatt, then vowed to not challenge Bray for the WWE Championship. Then things happened, including burning down the Wyatt compound and setting fire to the remains of Sister Abigail. Orton’s kind of been the worst. Just as a fan, I’m picking Bray. His title run hasn’t been long enough.
Josh: I went back and forth on this one, but Bray Wyatt doesn’t feel like a Wrestlemania champion. You know, the guy at the end of the event holding the belt aloft in celebration of having won a main event on the biggest stage of sports entertainment. Orton, on the other hand, is definitely that kind of champion so I expect him to hit a few RKOs and get the belt.
Jay: Bray Wyatt is finally realizing his potential as America’s Next Top Supernatural Grappler. But you know, all it takes is one RKO to get to Viperville. No enchantments needed. Randy Orton will be your new WWE Champion.
Early trailers for Life, the new film starring Ryan Reynolds and Jake Gyllenhall, intrigued me. A clearly collegial atmosphere and a few lighthearted jokes are punctuated with a brief moment of violence at the trailer’s end. In that early preview, we only get the faintest sense of what might go wrong aboard the ship. We know they have a life form on board, we know it presents a danger that the crew didn’t anticipate, and that’s about it. It’s unsettling in the best way.
Unfortunately, we were soon to find out a great deal more. In subsequent trailers, we see the life form up close and hear dialogue describing its rapid growth. We see it crawling all over a character’s face and Jake Gyllenhaal blasting it with a flame thrower. We hear a character exclaim that it has taken over the astronauts’ ship.
Whatever intrigue once existed has been entirely extinguished by these latest previews. You had me, Life. You’d shown me just enough to ring a few of my most Alien-loving bells while shrouding all the juiciest plot details in mystery. I was in; now I’m not. Now, I feel like I’ve already seen the movie, which, when the movie in question is a suspenseful thriller, kind of defeats the purpose.
This kind of promotional foolishness has been par for the course for a good long while now. Maybe it started with Cast Away, when they let audiences know during the trailer that Tom Hanks’ character makes it off the island. Still, I can’t get used to it.
Just this week, two trailers for two blockbuster comic book movies – Justice League and Spider-Man: Homecoming – were released. As a huge comic book and movie nerd, you can imagine my excitement. Here’s my first chance to see (A) whether Zack Snyder is going to continue to destroy any interest I have in DC’s roster of heroes and (B) whether the promise shown by Tom Holland in Captain America: Civil War will translate to a dedicated Spidey-film. Hooray!
Except, not hooray. Not hooray, because, in their own ways, each trailer trips over itself to give us as much information as it possibly can over the course of its runtime.
Justice League gives us the full roster rundown, and we get clips (by which I mean repeated slo-mo action shots and “clever” quips stacked on top of each other like gritty, desaturated pancakes) of each of the JL’s five members. The problem with this? We have no investment in any of the characters as portrayed by these actors because only one of them (Batfleck) has even appeared onscreen in an actual movie (Wonder Woman and Aquaman movies are coming, for what it’s worth). To compensate, the trailer tries to make the characters interesting by simply showing us as much badassery as it can and hoping that will sustain us. But by giving us so many shots of these characters (and the film’s bad guys) so early, the creators have played their most meaningful card a full seven and-a-half months before the movie hits theaters. By the time it actually comes out, seeing the movie will just feel like playing connect the dots between scenes you’ve watched two dozen times a piece.
And Spider-Man’s trailer wasn’t much better. I mean, yes, the movie looks a whole lot more interesting than Justice League (I should probably note again that I hate Zack Snyder), but from the two and-a-half minute preview, I know the villain’s motive, Iron Man’s role in the movie, and about half a dozen other things that Marvel could have kept close to the vest.
I know that movie studios do enough market research to choke an elephant, but what moviegoer is telling these people to give away more of the movie to entice people to see it? Is it you? If it is, stop it!
Listen, I understand the inherent risk in leaving audiences in the dark, even just a little. Studios know that audiences need to see enough in trailers to make an informed decision about the movies they’ll see, and they assume that any uncertainty will lead audiences to the movie that gave away the farm in its trailer, since that movie will seem like more of a sure thing to viewers.
But I would argue that this approach only leads to a cycle of crappy promotion, where each movie treats trailers like little movies of their own and strains to pack in as much of the final product to the preview as possible. I wish this weren’t the case, and I don’t think it has to be. I think viewers are savvier than studios give them credit for (perhaps a fatally stupid assumption on my part), and that they’ll respond to trailers that convince audiences that the only way to get the answers to the most pressing questions will be to actually show up and see the movie. Act like the audience will have to pry those answers from your cold dead hands. I bet you they’ll want to try.
Post guest-written by Brad Morris for Funkhouser.
For the second time in four years, I’d like to thank TWD for something. And that is to escape the reality of another UK basketball season ending on a sour note. When we lost with the 38-0 team, I was physically ill in the last few seconds. Sunday’s game brought back memories of “he who shall not be named” 25 years ago. And of course the dude last night wore number 32. Karma right? However, despite my mood, and after securing the rug rats to sleep mode, waiting for me was our weekly respite from reality, The Walking Dead. And since it was the next to last episode of the season I was expecting a great one. And I think they got it half right. Let’s check in on some of the characters involved.
There were many, many characters involved in “Something They Need”, but I think Tara should be the starter for this post. The one off episode in the first half of the season she was involved with was brutal to watch, however this episode was the payoff. Tara knew that Rick had become desperate for weapons and finally gave in and told him about the Oceansiders. I had been rolling through the different ways the group could approach this armed to teeth group for some time. Do they go in guns blazing, does Rick go in alone with a white flag, send a candy gram for Mongo, etc. etc. In the end they went with Tara’s plan. She was able to sneak into the camp having been there before and was successful in talking to their leader Natania. The plan was simple and worked, partially. While the Alexandrian’s are successful in acquiring the weapons they were so desperate for, Natania is adamant the Oceanside will not join the fight. A good showing by Tara in showing some gumption in helping her people out and managing to have not one life lost. And you know the episode is good when you flip off a trash talking 12 year old.
Ah Jeffery Dean Morgan, I remembered why I need more Negan soliloquies. As has been the case several times this season, pages of the comic were pulled right off the page and put on the screen. After the attempted rape of Sasha, Negan turns into the white knight and saves her. His little talk with Rapey Davey was a good insight to Negan’s thoughts on how he controls the Sanctuary. There are rules to follow and Negan’s word is law. And God forbid you break them in his presence. His offer to Sasha was genuine. He really does want her to join his group to make them stronger. I think in his twisted mind that his way to rule brings safety to the new world in some insane way. And his charisma is on display as well in the form of Eugene, who seems to have truly bought into the whole “We Are Negan” clan. This is an offshoot from the comic that Eugene has joined him and I’m interested to see how Negan controls him going forward.
Maggie and Gregory
Like I said at the beginning, lots of characters on screen this week. We see Maggie and Gregory have some fun outside the walls of the Hilltop. Gregory’s cowardliness was on full display as he cant take down a walker. It can’t be that hard at this point, right? Even my 8 year old knows how to take one down, “You bop them in the head!”. After Maggie rescues Gregory, he actually has the decency to thank her, but his mind is made up. He heads straight to his office for a drink, a map, and a ride to the Sanctuary. He. Is. Done.
Maggie showed quite a bit of trust in letting Gregory watch after her while she played in the dirt, doing what I have no idea. Was she planting that tree? Was she pulling it up? No clue here except as a plot point to have her and Gregory talk. I think since we’ve seen the last of the former head of the Hilltop, Maggie will be assuming full time command. The good news for her is that thanks to her tractor skills and feisty killing of walkers, she already has the backing of the people.
We’d only seen the leader of The Oceansiders once before and her second appearance still has me asking as Jerry Seinfeld would, “What is your deal?”. Seriously, coming to tell you that an army has been raised to fight the Saviors, a force that has taken everything from you has to be a great chance at revenge. And as my esteemed colleague Josh Juckett pointed out, there has to be another reason why Natania won’t fight or risk her people. A very close, personal relationship with one of the Saviors maybe? Who knows. Her reluctance to fight was a bit annoying the first time we met her, this time it was almost to brutal to watch.
I’ll also say this about the raid on the armory. The end result is not in anyway how I thought it would play out. I thought for sure Aaron’s boyfriend would die after his “I want to be out here with you” speech. The possibility of the Oceansiders coming on board to fight was high. Taking all of the weapons and leaving without a scratch to anyone? Not what I foresaw. So go take a nap Natania, we’ll show ourselves out.
Pretty straight forward for the badasses of the group this week. They had a plan and it actually worked. We do see that Andrea’s storyline from the comic has been merged with Michonne’s on the show. I went back to look, and I’ve never seen her with a gun in her hand at any point on print. I’m fine with this because she has become warrior supreme now. Sword play and sniper? Very helpful indeed. Just enough of the main characters to move the show along nicely.
Sasha and Eugene
Per usual I saved the worst for last. In a color me shocked moment, Sasha has been captured *gasp*. I’ve already referred to her encounter with Rapey Davey, of which Negan took care of the situation. She fakes interest in Negan’s offer and admits to Eugene she just wants to die. Of course she’s lying a little bit. She wants to die if she can kill Negan. After telling Eugene she wants out of the great game, he provides her with the suicide pill he made a few episodes ago. She’s brought to her knees with the pills because her plan has been foiled before it could ever take off.
I’m not sure what to make of Eugene anymore. I thought he would bide his time and at the right moment help out his friends, however that doesn’t seem to be the case. Eugene admits how scared he was the night Abraham died, and being at the Sanctuary has made him feel safe for the first time in forever. Will he turnout to help his former group? Only time will tell. I am looking forward to all the memes being made with Eugene leaning his face on the jail cell door.
Is that it? Did we cover it all? Man there was a lot that happened this week. I’m not even going to get into what happened when our gang got back home. That final scene is a big setup going into the season finale and I’ll touch on it next week because then we should have the full story on our burned faced turncoat Dwight.
Thank you to all that read the weekly recaps of TWD. I hope that viewing it from the characters perspective has been a different take on the post apocalyptic zombie world that AMC and Robert Kirkman has created. Josh and I will be back with the Kentucky Deadcast later this week to talk about this episode, what we can look forward to in the season finale, and we finish up our Walking Dead bracket of who is more likely to die. We’re down to the final four, so tune in and have a listen. Go Cats and ta ta.
Movie Premiere: April 28 Buy Tickets Here!
Starring: Emma Watson, Emma Watson’s American accent, Tom Hanks and John Boyega.
Mae Holland works for a giant internet company. The Circle is a mega-corporation with all of the power of Amazon, Google and Facebook combined. The job seems perfect at the beginning. There is a gym. The cafeteria has vegan options (Here’s some of my favorite vegan options!). They have a guest speaker on campus every night. It is like listening to a new TED talk at work everyday. The Circle is the complete package. In Eggers’ world, this perfection comes at a cost. The emphasis on “sharing is caring” might not be as thoughtful and innocent as it seems.
As of today, you have less than a month to read this best seller before it become a movie. The book doesn’t come without controversy. Some argue that the setting of the novel is skewed. Eggers presents an incorrect version of Silicon Valley. One of the biggest knocks on Eggers is that he doesn’t regularly use Twitter. This is the last tweet that Eggers has sent:
I cry a bit every time i see this: http://tinyurl.com/bevq6q
— Dave Eggers (@mcsweenys) March 12, 2009
Honestly, I’m not even sure if that’s his actual twitter. It’s not even verified. If so, he definitely put the Egg in egg avatar. Terrible joke aside, the problem lies in Eggers writing a commentary on the state of technology but isn’t completely versed in its vocabulary and rituals. Another common complaint is that Eggers didn’t even visit the campus of a real life tech giant. How could anyone write about a place they’ve never visited? Surely imagination and world building isn’t enough. (Sarcasm intended.)
For some, there seems to be joy found in pointing out the glaring mistakes of The Circle. Opponents claim that Eggers’ premise is that all technology is bad. In this post, the author claims that the setup of The Circle is opposite of what the real internet giants are. The post also claims that the book puts too much emphasis on the importance of social media. These are all valid arguments, but what the logic is missing is that Eggers didn’t write the book to PREDICT the future, he is writing to speculate. He’s writing to suggest a specific possibility.
Dave Eggers isn’t a prophet. (According to his wikipedia, he’s just an American writer, editor and publisher.) He is not meant to been seen as EGG-stradamus. His goal is to expand an idea that he sees in our world. The goal is to play out the scenario of “What if” to see where this particular train of thought will take us as a society. The end goal is not to make the correct assumption. This assumption is the glaring mistake of the counterclaim’s argument.
What the novel is good for is its ability to capture the anxious feeling that technology generates. Eggers spends a lot of his time showing how Mae ramps up her focus on sending zings, frowns, smiles, surveys and “connecting” with others(You can follow me: HERE). She becomes so consumed with making these connections that by the end of the novel her workload has just become meaningless, to the point that it mimics the terrible job she left.
The Circle has its faults, but its redeeming quality is its ability to mirror the anxiety and the neediness of the internet. I’m curious to see how this nervousness will be translated on screen. To imitate that urgency of being caught up with the news or to describe the pleasure of receiving likes over the internet seems easier to describe with words than images. How will the description of the “tear” that Mae feels translate onto the screen? The Circle elegantly points out the sinister nature of trying to simplify the internet. Eggers points out the trade off between streamlining technology and losing your privacy. The subtle transition isn’t easy to replicate in a novel. Eggers effortlessly describes the new state of mind. Honestly, I too tried mimic this dependency on technology. For this post, I linked to eleven articles to try to simulate the tension that Eggers describes in his novel. It’s not easy. Scrubby writers, like me, make those connections awkward and forced. Eggers ramps up the tension without seeming too obvious. It’s worth reading before the story hits the theaters just to see if the tension that Eggers describes makes it to the screen.
By Matthew Mahone on ©March 27th, 2017 @ 9:00am
In this Funkhouser series, I conduct spontaneous interviews with my daughters, “A” age 11 and “E” age 8, where they are shown an image of a theatrical movie poster and asked to share their insight in an attempt to decipher the forthcoming feature film’s plot.
Welcome to Movie Posters Explained by Kids.
Ghost in the Shell (March 31)
A: About this girl who goes to the beach one day and she finds a seashell. She opens it, and it transforms her into a ghost.
E: A girl that maybe gets turned into a ghost, and then she’s a human again, then a ghost, then back to a human. She’s actually stuck inside her computer, and someone is turning it on, off, on, off…!
Going in Style (April 6)
A: Oh, the movie is about these grandpas who are trying to be really cool, so they’re being bad so that people will think they’re cool and pay attention to them. They dress all cool. They have guns, money, and stuff. They teach the cool kids it’s not that bad to be old.
The Transfiguration (April 7)
A: About this guy who’s fine during the day—he turns into a monster at night. Either because it’s natural, or because he’s bitten by something or probably poisoned or maybe possessed.
E: He turns into a monster, because he’s been hanging around his friends—who are real monsters.
Gifted (April 7)
A: Might be about someone who’s really talented at something, and she’s got this special gift to do something for someone in her life.
E: That girl—she’s really special to her dad, or her parents, and she gets a lot of gifts from them because she’s really spoiled.
1 Mile To You (April 7)
A: Someone who wants to see someone so bad, and they’ll do anything to see them.
Colossal (April 7)
A: I think it’s about this monster who’s nice and the monster helps the girl or the girl helps the monster. Together they save the world—says it right there on the poster.
E: A girl who has a cool shadow that does the same things she does.
The Lost City of Z (April 21)
A: These kids who travel around a lot—it’s sorta like Narnia maybe—they’re looking for this place. Like Narnia, they look inside a closet and find this lost city—and the adventure begins.
E: Was there a fire?
A: Sleep! Sleep! Get it? Z. Like Z…Z…Z.
E: Yeah, someone casted a spell on them, and they’ve been asleep the whole time. Or the townspeople created a tonic that poisoned everyone so they couldn’t wake up, but someone does.
The Circle (April 28)
E: These people who go into a circle maze and try to get out of it, but other people are trying to keep them inside and they barely get out—but they do.
A: Spoiler alert geez!
A: They get lost—but in their minds.
Snatched (May 12)
A: Hmmm. Skip it. The movie, I mean.
E: Two sisters and they don’t like one another. Never have, never will.
Everything, Everything (May 19)
E: They miss each other because they’re really good friends but there’s a mirror…
A: Maybe they’re in another dimension!
E: Both of them are in different places, but they really want to see each other. Looks sad.
Alien: Covenant (May 19)
A: About aliens and they crash into Earth, and they’re stuck underground for a million years. In the future, two people are messing around in a graveyard, and they dig up that egg and decide to crack it open. Nothing’s inside, so they take it home and then, like something comes out of it, and it terrorizes everyone.
E: There’s these Alienbusters, kinda like Ghostbusters, that try to kill the aliens but everyone dies and it’s not very funny and really gross and scary.
Baywatch (May 26)
A: Hey, is that the Rock!?! The Rock! I like The Rock. People who are lifeguards, but they’re really bad at their jobs and really, really, greasy and tan. Aw man, The Rock!
E: Who’s Rock?
It Comes at Night (June 9)
E: People have to keep this little dog on a leash in the backyard, because they bought it, but it became really mean and it will attack anything and everything. I don’t think the owners were mean, it was just born that way. Or…or…someone uses a pet wolf to hunt for clowns at night, like the ones on the news.
The Book of Henry (June 16)
E: Two boys, one who’s small and one that’s taller make things—like inventions. Like they create them first on their chalkboard, like from their drawings or from the things they study.
A: A boy and his best friend, a robot who wears a sweater, find this place, like they uncover a mystery, that someone was working on, but the person died before they could uncover what it was—and they’re going to finish the quest.
Amityville: The Awakening (June 30)
A: Hey is that Bella Thorne?
E: This girl moves into a new house—oh it’s haunted for sure! She finds all these clues and discovers there’s a monster. Then she tries to tell her parents, but they don’t believe her and don’t listen to her, so the monster attacks them, and she ends up being the only one left and has to survive without her parents inside that scary house forever and ever.
With the UK/UCLA matchup on the horizon for an Elite Eight berth and UCLA’s Lonzo Ball leading the Bruins through their tourney march, Ball’s outspoken father LaVar has spent as much time as possible running roughshod through the national media and talking to whoever will have him. But are YOU LaVar Ball? Take our quiz to find out!
1. The number of sons I have is:
a. I don’t have any sons.
b. I have two sons.
c. I have three sons.
2. My relationship with Charles Barkley is:
a. We get along great.
b. We have our differences, but usually agree to disagree.
c. We are currently at odds .
3. My children are worth:
a. My time.
b. The attention I give them.
c. One billion dollars.
4. If I were to play Michael Jordan one-on-one:
a. He would probably defeat me.
b. It might be a comparable matchup and could go either way.
c. I would kill him.
5. My son’s basketball coach:
a. Loves me
b. Likes me somewhat.
c. Pretends to like me.
6. The number of voicemails I have left at Nike headquarters today is:
7. When I see a possum rummaging through my trash, I:
a. Turn on the porch light hoping it will scare him off.
b. Shake a broom at him.
c. Catch and sell him to a zoo for five million dollars because he’s the best possum.
8. When I wipe ketchup off my mouth with a napkin, I:
a. Politely return the napkin to my lap.
b. Toss the napkin into the trash.
c. Take the napkin to Polo and tell them they can put it on a shirt for thirty million dollars.
9. When it is a beautiful night outside my house, I:
a. Sit outside and look at the evening sky.
b. Comment how beautiful the sky looks.
c. Charge people four-hundred dollars a piece to look at the moon.
10. My best friend is:
a. My wife.
b. My childhood schoolmate.
c. David Steinman, VP of Marketing and Branding Content at Nike
11. The last time I went to a county fair, I:
a. Enjoyed the rides.
b. Appreciated the time with my family.
c. Won all the games and got all the stuffed animals, then sold them all for one thousand dollars apiece.
12. The first thing I think when I smell a rose is:
a. The simple joys in life make everything worth it.
b. It’s important to slow down and enjoy the world.
c. How much can I sell this smell for?
13. The last time I played basketball with my children, I:
a. Laughed and enjoyed each their company.
b. Made memories that will last a lifetime.
c. Beat all three of them five-hundred points to zero and they told me I was better than they are and always will be.
14. When my family goes to take a Christmas card photo:
a. We all dress up so we look nice.
b. We always make sure to take a “silly picture.”
c. I stand in front of the camera and start talking about myself until the manager of Olan Mills tells me that the camera only takes regular photographs.
15. My children see me as:
a. A firm but fair disciplinarian and mentor.
b. A confidant and supporter.
c. The reason they’re not allowed at the Chino Hills YMCA anymore.
16. Someday I hope to be remembered:
a. As a good father who made smart decisions for his children.
b. As a savvy businessman who did right by his family.
c. As the person after whom the newly discovered planet LaVar X-32 was named.
SCORING GUIDE: a=1, b=2, c=3
If you scored:
15 – You are not LaVar Ball.
15-30 You are probably not LaVar Ball.
80-90 – You are LaVar Ball.
By Josh Corman on ©March 23rd, 2017 @ 9:00am
Once upon a time, my friend Jonny Walls came up with an idea that was both dumb and brilliant at the same time. Taking cues from Survivor and those radio station car giveaway contests, he proposed that a bunch of our friends should gather at his house, set up shop on his (pretty substantial) couch with as many snacks, televisions, and video game consoles as possible, and then see who could maintain physical contact with the couch for the longest. As best I can remember, the winner would have received only bragging rights (and, potentially, a bladder infection).
It was dumb because, well, I mean, just read that paragraph again. But it was also brilliant, because imposing arbitrary rules about maintaining contact with the couch would’ve made an event out of what would have otherwise been just another weekend playing Super Smash Bros. Melee and watching football. Making events out of ordinary occurrences is a great way to make lasting memories, and Jonny has always been an expert memory manufacturer. It’s one of his best qualities.
Sadly, his idea never materialized. Or, at least, not in the form he originally anticipated. But, when Jonny decided, after a few years working in L.A. as a freelance film editor, that he’d had about enough of calling himself an “aspiring” director, the couch came calling once again.
Jonny recognized that, to shoot a feature-length film on a shoestring budget, he had to come up with an idea that could take place with as few actors and set changes as possible. From there, Couch Survivor was born.
Here’s the poor man’s elevator pitch:
An executive at a failing TV network creates a reality show where the contestants compete for a cash prize by maintaining contact with a large couch for as long as possible. The show, predictably, is a disaster, and a “fixer” is called in to spice up the tepid proceedings by introducing all manner of all-too-familiar drama-producing reality TV tropes. Much quirky drama ensues.
Jonny and his crew shot the film for almost nothing (I can’t emphasize this point enough. Think about what you imagine a 90-minute film might cost to make if you paid everybody involved. Got it? I guarantee you the number you have in your head is larger than the amount of money these folks had to work with.) in a little over a week. When you watch the film (which you can via Amazon, iTunes, and just about any place digital movies are sold), you’ll notice some of the seams that inevitably show on a project with this little room to wiggle. Not every line lands as cleanly as I’m sure Jonny would like, for example, and the production rush makes for a few bumpy transitions. But you’ll also notice a lot of sharp writing and a couple of genuinely funny performances. You’ll notice Jonny’s willingness to embrace the zany and outlandish as a way to not only satirize reality TV, but also as a way to counterbalance the moments of legitimate poignancy between the characters.
But the first time I watched Couch Survivor, I barely noticed any of that. The only thing I could really think about was that my friend made this thing, more or less, out of thin air. About eight years ago, he left his home and drove west, hoping to fulfill his wildest ambitions. His time in L.A. has not been, I don’t think, what people imagine when they picture the hopeful droves who flock to big cities to chase their dreams. There’s a reason that people who make it as performers describe their paths to stardom as a “grind;” for every person who ends up chatting with Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show, there are thousands whose projects never see the light of day, whose performances never end up committed to film, or whose words are never read by anybody besides their buddies at the screenwriting workshop.
It’s enough to wilt the spirit of even the most ardent dreamer. I think, on more than one occasion, that it’s nearly wilted Jonny’s. We’ve had conversations where I can tell that he’s caught a few bad breaks in a row — an actor with a name you’d recognize has passed on one of his scripts, for example, or nothing ever comes of a connection who swears up and down that they’ve found an investor for one of his projects — and that the long odds of reaching his professional goals are weighing heavily on his mind.
It’s hard to watch a friend suffer through these moments of doubt, but it was a lot harder before Couch Survivor became a reality.
Now, that’s not because the movie was a huge success (though Jonny was able to give it a proper premier at the Kentucky Theatre in October, and its distribution deal will go some way toward recouping its budget), but simply because now I know something I didn’t know before: Jonny can do this. I know he can do it because he’s already done it.
That sounds glib, but I’m serious. A lot of creative types only flirt with exercising the full scope of their talents while waiting for a big break, but the more I read about writers, actors, directors, and musicians who’ve made their way to the tops of their professions, the more I realize just how much value there is in simply doing a thing without worrying so much about what will happen next. Jonny wanted to be a director, so he scrounged together a budget from some family and friends and made a movie. He wrote it, filmed it, edited it, and sent it out into the world. Directing a film is no longer some abstract hurdle he has to clear; it’s a tangible accomplishment. Now, he’s free to brush aside the word “aspiring” and ask the most important question an artist can ask: what am I going to do next?
As it happens, what he’s going to do next is a movie called All About the Afterglow. Again, Jonny wrote, directed, and edited the film. I have no doubt he’s already figuring out what his next project (and the project beyond that) is going to be. Doing begets doing, it would appear.
None of this, of course, means that the doubt goes away. None of it means that my friend doesn’t have a long way to go to get where he wants to be. None of it means that you’re going to catch him on Conan before the year is out. But I don’t think Jonny thinks that way any more. I think he knows that having your dreams come true in Hollywood is a lot more random that we might like to admit. But instead of letting that knowledge paralyze him, he’s taking care of the parts he can control — the parts that involve working hard and keeping himself sharp and doing work he can be proud of.
As someone who’s pursuing a creative career of his own, I’m inspired by his conviction and his proactive approach. I’ve too often let myself feel intimidated by the very real possibility that this dream I’ve got simply isn’t going to become a reality. In those moments, I should look to Jonny. Not because he doesn’t feel that fear too, but because he’s shown me that the best way to deal with it is to work through it. Instead of wishing for a book deal, I should just write a book. Let the part that involves stuff I can’t control come after that. Don’t wait for it. Just do it.
Now there’s a way of looking at the world. Somebody really ought to use that.
By KSR on ©March 22nd, 2017 @ 7:25pm
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What a crazy weekend, am I right? The NCAA tournament was pretty much chalk, especially in UK’s bracket. And then Sunday happened. Holy Gamecocks Batman! Did not see that coming. Also didn’t see Drew being a guest on Inside Edition or being mentioned in People magazine. It’s nuts Matt said to him earlier “let’s not make KSR the story”, and then of course became the story. Call it the KSR curse or whatever it is, there wasn’t a lot of fun until Sunday and most of Monday. Now why am I writing about something you’ve already read and heard about ad nauseam? Well…
Welcome to the episode I was dreading. I was looking forward to the Rosita and Sasha buddy cop road trip as much as I was having my gallbladder removed (which didn’t end well). When two of my least favorite characters take up almost half the screen time, it’s hard to watch. Plus there is basketball going on so the temptation to flip over was strong. But my will power was strong and I fought through it. There were some tidbits throughout “The Other Side” that made it tolerable, so let’s talk about who we need to talk about. I’ll save worst for last.
This may have been Xander Berkeley’s best work so far. This episode shows more range to the character since he was introduced. He was given every opportunity to rat out Maggie, Sasha, and Daryl. But some reason he didn’t and I’m not sure why. He sees that his people are taking to Maggie as their true leader and all he worries about is where he’ll get his next drink. He also protested the loss of Dr. Carson, even if it was feebly. I’m not sure what angle they’re playing with here, but Gregory is still a threat to the good guys going forward.
Is it wrong I love this Savior so much? If loving him is wrong I don’t want to be right. His facial expressions and then explication of his facial expressions was golden. Taking away the Hilltop’s doctor sucked, but he did it with wit and a smile. His conversation with Gregory behind the trailer was tense and not tense at the same time. If Simon wasn’t so devoted to Negan he could easily be my favorite character on the show, but since he’s doing the devil’s work he has to take a backseat for now. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not rooting for the bad guys to win, but I am rooting for Simon to get more screen time.
Maggie and Daryl
I’ve been waiting for this moment ever since Glenn was killed. We all knew Daryl blames himself for Glenn’s death, but haven’t seen how deeply it cuts him. After Maggie stops him from killing the Savior in the cellar, the conversation finally takes place. When Maggie makes Daryl look at her the tears start flowing down his face and he admits it is his fault for Glenn dying. Maggie won’t hear it, telling him it’s not, and Glenn wouldn’t want him to blame himself. For a moment that could’ve been played many different ways, this was done wonderfully. Strong work by Norman Reedus here. Maybe his best scene ever, even better than when he had to put Merle down. Lauren Cohen also did strong work.
Rosita and Sasha
Ugh. Ok let’s hold on and power through this together. While still working on their plan to take out Negan, the Saviors show up at Hilltop which forces them to flee and begin ahead of Rick’s schedule. The road trip was a quiet affair with little talking (thank God for the small things in life). Once they reach the Sanctuary, there is a convenient sniper position across the way. After scoping out the place the girls decide now is a good time to clear the air between them, because where else could they have done this? After the typical bonding takes place, they realize that to take Negan out means they have to go in. After being spurned by Eugene, Sasha makes her way inside the fence and shuts Rosita out. We knew they both had a death wish, so to see it start is a move in the right direction. At least the buddy road trip is over. Maybe Sasha can actually take out Negan?
Some good stuff from Jesus and Eugene as well, just in smaller samples. Enid had a couple of scenes as well, but I’m beginning to love her like I love Carl (which isn’t very much).
I feel like we’re almost about to get some goooooood stuff in these last two episodes of the season. The teaser for next week shows the main gang going to visit the Oceansiders, and I have no idea what’s going to happen. This fringe group has no reference in the comics so anything that comes from them is totally unexpected. Look for our Kentucky Deadcast coming out later this week. Josh and I have our second bracket breakdown of characters. And who knows, we may end up on Inside Edition as well. Until then, ta ta.
By Megan Suttles on ©March 22nd, 2017 @ 9:00am
If you don’t read this intro like a group of provincial townspeople then you aren’t the target audience for the newest adaptation of Beauty and the Beast. Beauty and the Beast (1991) is an all-time classic. Who can forget the saucy French maid/duster, Belle’s eccentric father, Gaston’s raw egg-eating ways and Mrs. Pott’s beautiful warble when she sings “tale as old as time.” There is so much to love. The newer version adds its own flavor to the story. While it was lovely to look at old friends in a different light, there are some problems that need to be addressed. Here’s a rundown of what worked well and what didn’t.
Belle’s Backstory: Upgrade
The newer adaptation takes a small detour to address what happened to Belle’s mother. Initially, the time spent dwelling on her backstory seemed unnecessary. Now, Belle has a magical map that will let her travel anywhere in the world. Once she is able to picture in her “mind’s eye” where she would like to escape, she we be transported there instantly. The magic map was a “wait, what?” moment, but the ends justified the means. For Belle, the map provides the answers to the question her father has failed to answer, what happened to her mother? The map also seemed like a call back to Emma Watson’s Harry Potter days with Marauder’s Map. If the Beast dragged out an invisibility cloak I was prepared to riot.
The Songs: Downgrade
In 2013, the Internet became obsessed with the “botched Jesus fresco.” An 81-year old artist attempted to “freshen up” her old church’s depiction of Christ. The results were catastrophically poor. The original was natural, worn and well-loved. The new iteration was pudgy and smudged. Josh Groban’s “Evermore” is the blurry Jesus of the Beauty and the Beast fresco.
With all due respect to Groban, he is hilariously perfect on Twitter, but “Evermore” is off. The song narrates the Beast’s thoughts and feelings. The lyrics are literal. As he watches Belle runaway to her father, he sings “Even as she fades from view/She will still inspire me/Be a part of everything I do.” At the theater, I actually winced at the mention of the word “love” in the song. Like comedians using curse words as a crutch in their act, leaning on the word “love” to give your love song meaning is cheap. “Evermore” is disappointing for that reason. There’s something there that wasn’t there before. That something is telling the audience what they should feel and not let them figure it out on their own.
Gaston: Lateral Move
In the adaptation, Gaston has leveled up his evil villain game. Instead of being just burly and dull-witted, he is now legitimately evil. Gaston has upped the stakes of the Disney game. He is no longer just an obstacle to overcome but is now an actual threat. The intentional change tells us about where the writers were attempting to steer their ship. The 2017 version is determined to give the characters more depth, both literally and figuratively. Even though Gaston has more clear motivation, he still is the worst. I forgot how much I enjoy the three nitwits who constantly fawn over his crossfit-like lifestyle.
-I don’t understand the tucked in skirt look. I know her pantaloons were cute and all, but why highlight them so much?
-The “controversial relationship” was about five seconds of screen time. I was more concerned with Belle falling in love with a beast and her pantaloons showing all the time.
-”Be our guest” was equal parts stupendously impressive and somewhat disappointing. The song was almost completely CGI. I wanted to see some Cirque du Soleil type of a situation.
-The castle is made up almost entirely of stairs.
-Yes, Angela Lansbury is still alive.