After waiting on pins and needles since the NBA Combine, the first report on Hamidou →
KSR’s take on recent non sports related happenings
By Josh Corman on ©March 02nd, 2017 @ 9:00am
So, I’ve got a couple of questions for you.
Question #1: Have you ever heard a song and thought, “That sounds like something I would’ve liked in high school?”
Question #2: If your answer to question #1 is “yes,” then tell me this: is that a good thing or a bad thing?
There is, of course, no universal answer here. For instance, there was this thing going around social media a couple of weeks ago where people were posting the albums they listened to in high school, and I found it fascinating to see how people framed the music from that time in their lives. Some people still listen to a lot of the same stuff, while some regard their former tastes in roughly the same way you might think about a long-ago meal that gave you food poisoning.
It’s a wide-ranging spectrum of feeling, is what I’m saying.
Which leads me back to my two questions. For many of us, the implication that a given song has something (or many things) in common with our high school music tastes would be an automatic mark against it. If we see our taste as something that’s evolved for the better (which, of course we do; we’re arrogant that way), then the version of our self that would’ve found something (or many things) to love about the song in question has, by definition, less developed (and therefore inferior) tastes.
I get why we sometimes cringe at the memory of our high school selves, but isn’t there something about the music that spoke to us when (A) our minds were uncluttered with concerns about what was Good with a capital “G,” and (B) we didn’t have the entire weight of our own musical experience to stack against every new release?
After more than a decade in the dismissive, boy-what-an-idiot-I-was-back-then camp, I’m ready to answer that question in the affirmative. What cued the reversal? Nothing much — a few power chords, an earnest lyric or two and my favorite album of 2017 so far: Japandroids’ Near to the Wild Heart of Life.
Check out these lyrics from “In a Body Like a Grave,” the album’s final track:
Christ will call you out / School will deepen debt / Work will sap the soul / Hometown haunts what’s left / Love will scar the heart / Sun will burn the skin / Just the way it is / And way it’s always been
If those aren’t high school lyrics, then I don’t know what are. And in no way do I mean that as an insult. There’s enough specificity there — oppressive small-town religious conservatism, the specter of burdensome college loans, the boredom of your shift at the local fast food joint — to make the song feel personal to the artist. But the lines are also vague enough to allow for the intense emotional projection that made, say, Dashboard Confessional, feel so essential when I was 16.
From the opening track, Japandroids manages this balancing act deftly, all while drenching the proceedings in deliciously catchy riffs and sha-la-la backing vocals. The result is a batch of songs that make you want to roll down your windows and reenact your own personal scene from an imaginary Cameron Crowe movie as you peel out of the school parking lot on a sunny afternoon.
That’s how this Japandroids record makes me feel, anyway. Like I’m half a lifetime away, eager and impatient and convinced that the world is my oyster. And If the kind of music that makes me feel that way is wrong, then I don’t want to be right, age be damned.
Don’t ever let the Academy Awards think they are too important. The red carpet coverage discussed the possibilities of what you can do with pockets in a dress. (You can put your phone in there! You pose with your hands in your pockets or out!) Honestly, they can’t even be trusted with announcing the correct winner. There are many moments that expose the silliness of taking the awards too seriously and yet, we still return year after year. There is something about the Oscars that makes everyone feel like their opinion is correct and must be heard. Even Dickie V. had a hot take about a ceremony celebrating movies he has most definitely never watched…
— Dick Vitale (@DickieV) February 27, 2017
Here are some of the moments that make all of the dress/pocket analysis worthy of our time:
- Best Picture Confusion- Whether the confusion about who won was genuine or a prank, the result was still entertaining. Warren Beatty and Faye Dunnaway’s bumbled announcement is all that anyone will ever remember about this show. As an American, I’m beginning to have a lot of trust issues with election results and this “Moon-land” debacle doesn’t help. Regardless, the mistake did help to take the “stuffy air” out of the ceremony. Jordan Horowitz’s revelation might be the most genuine thing on screen the whole night.
- The Hidden Figures Photo-Op:
Katherine Johnson and the cast of Hidden Figures’ moment early in the broadcast might be forgotten, but the moment is still cool nonetheless.
- Viola Davis: she deserves an Academy Award for her acceptance speech. Davis said, “We are the only profession that celebrates what it means to live a life.” Live your life. Speak your truth. Win your award Ms. Davis. It is a pretty self-important thing to say, but why put so much effort and creativity into something that isn’t worthy of your time and effort?
- The Tourist Bit-
In an attempt to make a stuffy ceremony seem more off the cuff, producers dropped a bus full of Hollywood tourists off at the venue. They were adorable. I could watch Gary and Jackie schmooze with celebrities all day. Denzel married them with his wonky fingers! GARY WAS HOLDING HER PURSE THE WHOLE TIME! It was so kind of them to let the common folk in their fancy award ceremony.
- Presenters Paired People Who Inspire Them – Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan proved that sometimes co-stars dislike each other and forcing them to present is painful. Producers might as well pair actors with people who inspire them like Charlize Theron and Shirley MacLaine and Seth Rogan and Michael J. Fox. The pairings are more natural and interesting. It also speaks to the theme that movies are awesome!
For every important moment, there are a few moments that fell short:
- Best Picture Confusion- I’m torn about the “Moon-Land” mistake. I don’t want to encourage more ceremonies to mess with the results. We are now in a “Boy cried wolf” situation and we don’t need to encourage this type of behavior. As a side note, can you imagine how much Twitter would riot if they had announced that Moonlight won and then had to re-gift it to La La Land?
- Dropping snack food from the ceiling – In an attempt to create a viral, food-centered award show moment, candy was dropped from the ceiling. It truly added nothing to the show.
- The Receipt Overkill- Now that Amazon is in the movie business, Wal-Mart felt the need to expand as well. The “competing” trailers for fictitious movie just reminds me that audiences can easily be tricked into wanting to watch a movie that is literally impossible to watch. (Which speaks to the theme that movie trailers are fake news.)
- Live Tweets – I get uncomfortable when I watch people who are not proficient at operating phones try to tweet. Jimmy Kimmel attempted to live tweet the President. His fumbling fingers were painful to watch, but he does get bonus points for the #MerylSaysHi.
You can read all of the results after the jump!
By Jack Pilgrim on ©February 26th, 2017 @ 9:15pm
The numbers are officially in! University of Kentucky’s annual DanceBlue event brought in a whopping $1,785,286.96 to fight pediatric cancer!
The 24-hour dance marathon began yesterday at 8:00 p.m., and finished in dramatic fashion when the final total came through.
DanceBlue is the largest philanthropy event at UK, where hundreds of students gathered at Memorial Coliseum and danced the day and night away for an unbelievable cause.
Check out some moments from the event:
— DanceBlue (@UKDanceBlue) February 26, 2017
— DanceBlue (@UKDanceBlue) February 26, 2017
— DanceBlue (@UKDanceBlue) February 26, 2017
Something’s coming… pic.twitter.com/yqFKJ8QrdO
— DanceBlue (@UKDanceBlue) February 26, 2017
Thank you to all who participated and/or donated to the cause. Your efforts are more appreciated than you realize.
By Nick Roush on ©February 24th, 2017 @ 5:30pm
Each week KSR’s Funkhouser features the best of pop culture. The Entertation Index collects the best of the week for your consumption.
Beyonce — Beyonce, set to headline this year’s Coachella music festival, has dropped herself from the 2017 lineup after the singer, pregnant with twins, received orders from her doctor to start keeping a “less rigorous schedule.” But let’s be honest — there’s a probably a big jump between “keeping a less rigorous schedule” and “being carried around by acrobats who bow in worship to you on stage while you do yoga poses dressed like a sun goddess.” How about we split the difference, Bey? Thx.
Link: Beyonce has Officially Dropped Out of Coachella and Fans Aren’t Happy
Cannon, Nick — The former Mr. Mariah Carey this week posted a photo of his new baby boy with former Miss Arizona Brittany Bell, whom he has chosen to name Golden “Sagon” Cannon. Those wishing to give a gift to the baby are asked to send toys, while those looking to give Nick Cannon a gift can try to find him SOMEONE WHO WILL TELL HIM NO.
Link: Nick Cannon Welcomes Son Golden “Sagon” Cannon
Chrisley, Todd — After it was revealed via social media that Chrisley Knows Best daughter Savannah has begun to date Memphis Grizzlies forward Chandler Parsons, weird dad Todd went on Access Hollywood to tell the world that we all know NBA players are “ho hounds” and went on to school us on how professional basketball players have two phones — “one for the main chick, one for the side chick.” Todd Chrisley may have said some more after this stuff but my television literally chose that moment to grow sentient and light itself on fire, so I don’t know.
Link: Todd Chrisley Admits Concern over Savannah’s NBA Boyfriend
Oscars — The New York Times has announced its predictions for this Sunday’s Academy Awards and has the musical-throwback La La Land slated for not only Best Picture, but Best Director and Best Actress (Emma Stone) — not to mention an almost certain statuette for Best Song. You can watch La La Land before Sunday, or I can just summarize it for you here: Acting is hard! Music is Hard! Los Angeles is SO Amazing! But also hard! Believe in your dreams! It’s a virtual lock that anyone in the entertainment industry wasn’t losing their sh*t over the self-congratulatory exercise, so get used to hearing about it Sunday.
Link: And the Oscar Winners Will Be…
Springsteen, Bruce — A 14 year-old Australian boy skipped school to see a Brisbane Bruce Springsteen concert only to find himself on-stage jamming with The Boss himself, further proving the old adage “Don’t go to school.” I envy this kid; when I skipped school at 14 I slept late, walked two miles to watch Terminator 2 twice in a row and went boob-spotting on a VHS copy of European Vacation. Advantage: this Australian kid.
Link: Kid Skips School to See Bruce Springsteen, Ends Up Performing With Him
Trebek, Alex — If you’ve been on the internet this week, and if you’re seeing this you have, so stop lying, you’ve seen peeks of Jeopardy host Alex Trebek reading rap lyrics. Someone graciously put all those together in a compilation, so enjoy this from Trebek — or, as he was known in the day, Big ‘Stache Hustla.
Link: Alex Trebek Reads Rap Lyrics
Tri-State, Good Morning — I tweeted about this yesterday, but if you somehow missed the beautiful-but-failed pilot Good Morning Tri-State from director Jason Woliner and actor Mark Proksch, block off nineteen minutes today to remedy that. The premise, a staged morning news program which features escalating mania from its bizarre anchor, features co-hosts and guests who aren’t in on the joke and an unnatural attachment to the 2001 Hugh Jackman movie Swordfish. Take my word for it.
Link: Check out Mark Proksch and Jason Woliner’s Unaired 2013 Pilot “Good Morning Tri-State
Planet Earth II opens with British narrator David Attenborough (whose brother was tragically killed by dinosaurs in the late 1990s*), riding in a hot air balloon and telling us that since the original Planet Earth first aired ten years ago (yes, yes, we all feel very old), improvements in technology have made it possible to document earth’s many incredible ecosystems and animals in far greater detail than ever before.
I don’t know about you, but that’s the best news I’ve heard in months. I mean, just the thought of losing myself for an hour in the wonders of the natural world (without having to leave my house, thankfully) is a tonic for my soul during these troubled times. There are a lot of rehashes, sequels, reboots, and remakes out there, and we could do without 95% of them, but I’ll take a new Planet Earth every few years till I drop dead.
I believed all that to be true before I even watched the first episode of this new iteration, and I believe it even more now that I’ve watched the first episode, Islands. Spoiler Alert: islands are freakin’ awesome, and PE II makes absolutely sure that its round two debut reminds us what was so amazing about the series in the first place.
- There are a lot of penguins in this episode, and since penguins are without question the best animals on planet earth (I will absolutely fight you if you say different; get out of here with your lions and sharks and whatever other mainstream animals you think are so great), this one had crowd-pleaser written all over it, and there’s no reason to suspect that other episodes won’t follow suit.
- That scene that they posted a few months ago of the baby iguana running from that Evil of snakes (I don’t know what the technical name is for a group of snakes, but it should definitely be an Evil) is from this episode, and it is so much better and more tense than that preview indicates. Which is saying something, since that original clip made me yell like I was watching an old And-1 mixtape. By the end, I had ripped off my shirt and sprinted, screaming, right out of the room.
- Speaking of yelling: I actually shouted at my television several times over the course of the show’s hour runtime, which is impressive, since I probably haven’t actually shouted in surprise/horror/disbelief at a scripted drama in years. I don’t know what that means, exactly, but I’d say its a pretty revealing metric for just how incredible some of the stuff on Planet Earth II really is. It’s like, the Potential for Shock and Amazement Rankings go (1) sports, (2) Planet Earth, and (3) all other forms of televised entertainment.
- When Planet Earth debuted, it was essentially its own argument for owning an HDTV (which were still fairly rare at the time). In the same way, Planet Earth II is its own argument for upgrading to 4K (actually, now that I think about it, the Potential for Shock and Amazement rankings are the same as the Reasons to Get a 4K TV and TV Provider rankings). I have 20/20 vision and I can promise you that the real world does not look as good as PE II does in 4K. My eyes are sad when they have to look at anything that isn’t PE II in 4K. My computer screen is making me sad.
- David Attenborough is the only narrator who gives Morgan Freeman a run for his money. In fact, Freeman’s ubiquity (he’s even the spokesman for Turkish Airlines now) has diluted some of the joy I once experienced when I heard his dulcet tones. Attenborough doesn’t just speak English, he performs it. He takes the wonder, suspense, and comedy in every scene and amplifies it without ever stepping on the awesomeness of the footage. Also, he pronounces sloth with a long ‘o’ so that it comes out ‘slow-th. I don’t know if that’s just a British thing or if David Attenborough is entertaining himself by coming up with new, more appropriate names for animals on the fly. Either way, I’m rolling with slow-th from now on.
We both know that there are more than five reasons to watch Planet Earth II. In fact, the biggest reason is one I didn’t even mention: being a responsible citizen is exhausting right now, and Planet Earth II is the perfect way to recharge the ol’ mental batteries before diving in for another round of “Which Fictional Terrorist Attack Will The President Cite Today?”
That’s not to say Planet Earth II isn’t without reminders that the world is dark and full of terrors (anybody who saw the Great White Shark scene from the first series knows that even the cutest animals can meet a grisly fate), but at least animals can’t be faulted for their unsettling, devious, bloodthirsty behavior.
These days, we’ve got to take an honest approach wherever we can find it.
*In the book. In the movies, they made his brother out to be a much nicer dude than he was in real life. Still, a bummer that he was devoured by tiny dinosaurs.
HBO’s Big Little Lies begins with a murder. Unlike most stories the mystery isn’t centered on who is the murderer, but who has been murdered. The series, based off of Liane Moriarty’s best selling novel, takes place in a small, affluent community. The show pits working moms v. stay-at-home moms, ex-husbands v. current spouses and assumptions v. reality. The book is the perfect beach read. Even though the roster for the series is stacked (Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Adam Scott, Laura Dern, Shailene Woodley) the series comes up short. The biggest lie from Big Little Lies is that the show is worth watching. Here are some of the little fibs that HBO’s newest series tells that turn into one big little lie.
Lie: The Cover.
The cover leads you to believe that there is a playfulness to this story. In reality, the image of a fragmented lollipop suspended in time contradicts the new-agey aesthetic that the story actually tells. The cover suggests fun and whimsy, but there is nothing vibrant and cheerful about the series. Even the children are more mature that the six year olds I know. Chloe (Reese Witherspoon’s daughter) has already made career plans and Shailene Woodley’s character’s son is named after a dead rock star’s famous song. It is all muted and mellow, the exact opposite of sugary sweets being blasted to smithereens. It goes without saying that these women would never eat a lollipop.
Lies: Everything that comes out of Reese Witherspoon’s mouth
Everything that comes out of Madeline Martha Mackenzie’s mouth tumbles out awkward and forced. As Witherspoon teeters around in her heels, her character’s words do not come across as believable. At one point Witherspoon says that someone “whooshed” by a while ago. When she said “whooshed” she meant hurried, but the damage was already done. Madeline Martha Mackenzie, the character with the worst monogram of all time, loses all credibility. Characters who are folksy and homely say “whooshed.” Characters who are not concerned with appearances and status say “whooshed.” Upper-crusty women named Madeline Martha MacKenzie don’t use the word “whooshed.” It is the most shining example of the disconnect between what MMM would say and what she actually says on the show.
The exception that proves the rule is when Mrs. Mackenzie tells one of her fellow characters that she “has no idea what she is talking about.” Ditto. Retweet. Preach.
Lie: How the teacher handles the conflict
According to the series, the murder would never have happened if it hadn’t been for the incident on the first day of school. Ziggy, Shailene Woodley’s character’s son, not Bob Marley’s kid, is accused of choking the daughter of one of the richest parents at the school. The teacher gathers up all of the parents and asks the little girl to point out the student who did this to her. The little girl points out Ziggy. Ziggy’s mom whooshes in and declares that her son would never do that to another student. The crowd gasps.
It literally could not have been handled worse. There is no way that a teacher would handle this type of incident this way. It is impossible to be committed to solving the murder mystery when the creators aren’t committed to creating a believable plot.
I really want to like this series. I love exploding treats. I love backyards that use large redwood trees as focal points in the center of patios. I love themed costume parties. A good “whodunnit” will always have space on my DVR. But, the biggest little lie is that all of these things are enough to make Big Little Lies the next drama worth watching.
By Josh Juckett on ©February 21st, 2017 @ 3:00pm
It’s been a busy week for Kyrie Irving. Over the weekend Irving’s Flat-Earth belief stirred up the NBA and the internet, prompting everybody from the KSR comments section up to the NBA commissioner to comment on whether the shape of the Earth. While this was certainly an entertaining aside to the All-Star weekend, the more interesting Irving story was the news that broke on Thursday. Irving’s Pepsi commercial character Uncle Drew is getting a movie. Reported by ESPN’s Darren Rovell and confirmed by Pepsi, the movie is actually happening and already has a writer, a loose plot, and Baron Davis. In a weekend where Irving was on top of the ridiculous totem pole, this may actually take the cake.
First things first, it’s egregious that Uncle Drew is making the jump from commercial to movie when the greatest NBA pitch man never made it past the small screen. That of course would be Lil Penny who dominated the scene in the mid-90s. Fox Sports did a great Lil Penny retrospective last year which can be seen here , but in case you forgot…Lil Penny was a legit star. Superbowl commercials, music videos, and he was even designed by the company run by Mythbuster Jamie Hyneman. Uncle Drew is a good gimmick, but Pepsi went that route with a few sports figures (Jeff Gordon and Kevin Love) to create a sort-of “viral” feel to the ads. There was only one Lil Penny and he deserves his shot.
The next reason why this is so ridiculous is the extremely bad history of NBA players starring in movies. I’m not talking about Space Jam, it’s a classic which I will never disparage. It, along with He Got Game, are also anomalies. Along with their NBA stars, those two movies featured solid supporting casts and are entertaining. Other NBA player movies have not fared so well: anything Shaq starred in (Kazaam, Steel), Thunderstruck featuring Kevin Durant (and Mark Krebs)
, and My Giant (Gheorghe Muresan) all come to mind. Along with Irving there will probably many other NBA stars which jump in for bit parts in the Uncle Drew movie. Baron Davis is already attached and everybody knows Lebron likes to expand his brand when possible. Kevin Love will probably show up in his old man makeup as well. In any case, this has the makings of a pretty bad acting cast.
Ultimately, an Uncle Drew movie will serve the same purpose the Uncle Drew commercials serve: promote Pepsi. I can’t imagine how paying the cost of a feature film would be profitable, but it might work. Could a bunch of NBA players in old man makeup be a funny movie? Probably not on their own. If they wanted to do this as part of Grown Ups 7 then it might be worth checking out, but anything else will probably be pretty awful. In the meantime I think the KSR crew needs to start on their own Drew movie called Earned, Not Given. Don’t worry, I’ve already prepared the synopsis:
A young man trying to break into the world of sports journalism falls on hard times as his gambling debt causes him to miss his big opportunity. Just when he thinks his dream is over, an old curmudgeon sees a glint of talent and offers him the second shot he so desperately wants. As Drew starts this journey to redemption, it’s up to him to learn that success in life is truly…earned, not given.
The Creative Connection. Netflix’s Series ‘Abstract: The Art of Design’ Speaks to the Artists, the Dreamers, and Me
By Matthew Mahone on ©February 20th, 2017 @ 12:09pm
ake a look around you—it’s ok, I’ll give you a second or two—what do you see? Whatever it is, it was more than likely designed by some “artsy” or “creative-type” person. Admittedly, I abhor labels. Maybe it’s my own insecurities about my own work—including the piece you’re reading now—or already stopped reading I assume. Or simply because I feel that those monikers are hackneyed and often misapplied—stereotyping and classifying individuals into the haves and have nots. Some would say I fall in the later. Regardless, ideas and ultimately the process of creating stuff—some of which you interact with daily—doesn’t happen by happenstance, nor is it a result of black magic. That’s not what the dark arts refers to. Rather it’s birthed out of an invigorating, thoughtful, systematic and at times painstaking process. In fact, as Hal Riney said in the 2009 documentary Art & Copy, “the frightening and most difficult thing about being what somebody calls a creative person is that you have absolutely no idea where any of your thoughts come from, really. And especially, you don’t have any idea about where they’re going to come from tomorrow.”
While I believe everyone possesses uniquely primal creative traits, not everyone has the ability to successfully translate their ideas into actual execution, let alone create work, i.e. posters, logos, furniture, etc., that connects with and speaks to others in intimate and powerful ways. That’s evident to anyone who’s ever attempted, persisted or absconded any artistic endeavor. Truly great designers see the world different from most. Above all they’re curious. Drawing inspiration from both the present and the past, and from familiar and even the unlikeliest of places. Listening and always looking to solve pragmatic problems—they just do so in their own, sometimes unconventional—I’d even go so far as to say radical—ways. Great designs are all around us. Some have dramatically transformed and influenced our culture and many have made a profound impact on the world around us. But how did they get that way?
Netflix’s new documentary, Abstract: The Art of Design focuses on such designers, pioneers who are shaping the way we look at and interact with the world. Akin to Chef’s Table, the eight-part series, each episode focuses on a particular artist, exploring the genesis behind their work in the fields of: graphic design and illustration, footwear design, stage and runway design, architecture, photography, and interior design. It’s a fascinating and rare glimpse into the minds of some really unique “creative-type” visionaries, who are at the forefront of artistic exploration and cultural change—where art begets design and design becomes art. The series feels cinematic, and is aesthetically captivating and the approach is extremely winsome. Likewise, each 45 minute episode is singularly focused, fast-paced, chic, and as idiosyncratic as the designers it features. That’s not to say that each one will speak to you, but it’s certainly binge-worthy nonetheless.
Three episodes in particular really connected with me the most. First, the inaugural episode featuring illustrator and award-winning artist, Christoph Niemann, who’s known for his New Yorker covers and Instagram sketches. His quirky, inquisitive nature and playfulness shine through his eccentricities. Whether he’s toiling with LEGOs, explaining communication through design using the Abstract-O-Meter, or working on his Sunday Sketches where he combines traditional art mediums like pen and ink with everyday objects to make beautiful works of art, this episode will surely delight you.
Next, is actually Episode 6 which explores the world of typography, and showcases Paula Scher, who has been described as “the most influential graphic designer on the planet”. From her album covers to her recognizable logos, Scher does more than simply arrange letters, words, and images together: She creates an emotional connection through her work which finds ways to influence our everyday lives including what we read, how we process information, and even our buying decisions. There’s also a lesson in the episode on poor design—in this case, the 2001 Florida ballot fiasco.
Lastly, Episode 2, featuring a former athlete who studied architecture, but whose name ended up being synonymous with sneaker culture which continues to leave an indelible footprint on pop culture, footwear designer, Tinker Hatfield. Nike wasn’t always the brand that it is today, and its success can be directly linked to Hatfield’s designs. While he’s best known for his collaborations with Michael Jordan, Tinker is also a forward-thinker, developing revolutionary, wearable technology, turning sci-fi fantasy into real world applications. He’s a bit of a mad scientist—part Picasso, part rock star—and all around fascinating.
So take a look for yourself and let me know which moments or episodes speak to you.
Abstract: The Art of Design is rated TV-14.
By Josh Corman on ©February 16th, 2017 @ 9:00am
Music is awesome. We can all agree on that, right? I mean, we all obviously won’t agree on exactly which kinds of music are the most awesome, but that’s fine, since, for the purposes of what I’m writing at this particular moment, we only need to buy into music’s general awesomeness in the way that Song Exploder host Hrishikesh Hirway does.
Song Exploder, which Hirway created a few years ago, has a deceptively simple premise: each episode focuses on a single song, which Hirway and his guests (almost always the song’s writer or performer, but sometimes producers and the like) deconstruct, putting each piece under the proverbial microscope before playing the song in its entirety at the end of every episode.
The best part about Song Exploder isn’t that Hirway books really compelling artists to talk about their music (though he does – Metallica, Iggy Pop, and Solange have all been recent guests), it’s that the podcast makes every song interesting, even when I don’t really like the song that much. In fact, I would argue that the show actually makes me like songs more, simply by exposing me to the ins-and-outs of its creation. For example, knowing that the shouted backing vocals on a Dropkick Murphys song (alright, every Dropkick Murphys song) come from a bunch of their non-musician buddies all packed into a warehouse makes listening to the song at the end of the episode enjoyable. even though I would’ve just skipped it if it just popped up on Pandora or whatever.
It’s a great concept that’s perfectly executed, is what I’m saying.
However, I recognize that stepping into a new podcast represents a sizable time commitment, so I’m gonna do you a favor and pick some of my favorite episodes in the show’s run, so you can decide for yourself if you want to subscribe. Consider it a podcasting PSA.
“Summer Elaine and Drunk Dori” — Weezer
The best part about this one is that Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo has this legendary bank of song parts that he’s culled from his decades as a Beatles/Beach Boys/Nirvana obsessive, and he cracks the whole thing open to trace this song went from single guitar riff to standout track Weezer’s most recent album. We like to think of musicians’ creative process as a mysterious combination of genius and inspiration, but this episode reveals how much of Cuomo’s approach is guided by a set of very clear principles. Maybe less romantic than the image in our heads, but way more interesting.
“Solemn Oath” — Band of Horses
This episode is notable because Band of Horses’ lead singer Ben Bridwell talks so openly about the personal story behind the song as he’s dissecting. To an extent, every episode of Song Exploder features artists pulling back the curtain on the intersection between their lives and their art, but Bridwell’s straightforwardness is especially endearing on this one. (Plus, the record this song is on is the band’s best in a long time, and after listening to Bridwell, I think I understand why.)
“Work Work” — Clipping
It’s pretty cool when a hip-hop group decides to make music by creating beats exclusively from objects that aren’t drums. But when that hip-hop group includes Hamilton’s Daveed Diggs (he plays Thomas Jefferson on the cast recording), it’s much, much cooler. Listening as the producers and Diggs break down the painstaking process they go through to create beats from little more than the environment around them is an engrossing exercise to say the least.
“Spring (Among the Living)” — My Morning Jacket
Jim James is a fascinating dude, and My Morning Jacket are the best band to ever come out of the state of Kentucky, so I was thrilled when I saw that MMJ had recorded an episode of Song Exploder. James’ reverb-heavy vocals have always been one of the band’s trademarks, and hearing them in isolation on this episode somehow makes them even more haunting.
Game of Thrones — Ramin Djawadi
One of the best things about Song Exploder is that Hirway, who has a band of his own and composes music as well, is only too happy to mix it up by bringing on guests who make wildly different kinds of music. This episode, where Game of Thrones composer Ramin Djawadi explores his work scoring HBO’s hit series, is a case in point. Hearing how a composer works to serve a visual medium like TV gives welcome insight into music we hear all the time and enjoy, even if we don’t always stop to appreciate it.
If you love music, Song Exploder really is a no-brainer. These five awesome episodes are just the tip of the iceberg. Do yourself a favor and subscribe here.
The following recap is written by guest features writer Brad Morris for Funkhouser.
Everyone loves Tom Hanks movies, right? Or at least appreciates the mid 90’s run he had with Philadelphia, Forrest Gump, and Apollo 13. There’s a scene early on in Apollo 13 where he and his crew are training. At the end, the moderators throw a problem at the crew, who handle it beautifully. Upon exiting the simulator, Hanks quips to the other crew that the training was 3 hours of boredom, followed by 5 minutes of terror. Well that’s what last nights Walking Dead felt like to me, and in a good way.
Our weekly post on the show is back, and I must say, I was a little thrown off with the episode. It didn’t feel like a mid season premiere, but more like a filler episode during the “in between big” episodes. So to combat the slowness of it, let’s talk about what saved the episode for me. And that is the Zombie kill of the entire series, the duel car limbo walker kill!
There have been countless Walker kills throughout the 7 seasons of TWD. Some that stand out:
The little girl Rick kills at the very beginning of Season 1
The Well walker in Season 2
Daryl slamming a rear door on a Walkers face
Rick killing the SWAT team walker at the prison
And after each walker kill, the image that pops in my mind is Woody Harrelson in Zombieland, asking everyone with him if his recent dispatch of a zombie was “Zombie kill of the week?” All of thee above are worthy, but last night has to take the brass ring. So let’s talk about the scene.
We start out with our group driving back to Alexandria, when they come upon a series of cars blocking the road. While some of them move the cars, Michonne discovers a steel cable on the other side of the road. It’s hung between 2 cars, and has a vast amount of explosives attached to it. Rick and crew realize 2 things quickly. The Saviors have put this up to stop/warn them of a herd of walkers, and Rick’s crew need the explosives for a future fight. The gang starts to gather the dynamite and get spooked, when a herd starts coming toward them (conveniently). Our group works quickly, and that’s when a plan is hatched to escape the herd.
Rick and Michonne each jump in to drive a car that holds the cable. And with a mighty push of the accelerator, we have a game of Red Rover! Josh Juckett and I debated on the Kentucky Deadcast how many walker kills would we have this week. I took the over of 10.5, and boy was THAT a safe bet. The amount of kills may have been between 200-400 within a matter of seconds, and in my opinion, will go down as the top dog of walker kills in the entire series. It definitely saved a very slow and drawn out episode.
As far as characters go, nothing was out of the ordinary, save for Father Gabriel. What the hell is he doing running off with all the food? In my opinion at first, he is ticked off that the Saviors will come back for their food. However, I believe his actions have something to do with the new group at the end, which is totally crazy for me! This group shown surrounding our gang at the end has no comic background whatsoever. Nothing, nada, zip, zilch. So for the creators of the show to bring them on board I think is a stroke of genius, and I’m giddy for next week.
We also got the Alexandrians arriving at the Kingdom and meeting King Ezekiel. This didn’t go as planned for now, but at least we’ve found Daryl a safe haven. Something tells me his presence will help push Ezekiel to come around on his decision not to fight. And at some point Daryl will find out about Carol, and they’ll have a big old hug it out moment.
I’m glad we’ve got our weekly gang back to follow, and I’m hoping that there will be more action next week. The first half of the season was very inconsistent in terms of storytelling, bookended by some great episodes. Let’s hope that with the arrival of a new group, and Rick’s return to being the Sheriff, we get some great scenes next week. Until next week, ta ta…
Review: ‘The LEGO Batman Movie’ Has All The Pieces, Paying Homage To DC’s Otherwise Jumbled Up Franchise
By Matthew Mahone on ©February 13th, 2017 @ 8:45am
As controversial as it may sound, The LEGO Batman Movie single-handedly just saved the DC movie franchise and will be remembered as the greatest superhero film ever made. Don’t believe me? Well, they say two Mahones are better than one, so here’s what my oldest daughter had to say after walking out of the theater: “It’s like my favorite movie. It was awesome. Way better than that olde tyme Batman (1989) movie you made us watch. I can’t say it’s better than Suicide Squad, because you wouldn’t let me see that—but everyone should see it. If you don’t like it, there’s something wrong with you!” Out of the mouths of babes come sage-like exhortation.
The film, in theaters now, is on pace to be widely successful, maybe slightly less so than its predecessor, The LEGO Movie, but certainly clicking with audiences nonetheless. Honestly, it’s hard to beat the uniqueness, silliness and sheer magic that the original film possessed. However, despite being singularly focused on the titular DC comicbook character this time around, it’s no less funny, grin-worthy, or resourceful than the original—just in it’s own distinct way. It was in 2014 when audiences were first introduced to Will Arnett’s gravelly-voiced, dark and brooding, egotistical, emotionally-stunted, Batman, and it’s that same angsty and dickish iteration we see in The LEGO Batman Movie, which is more of a spin-off than a sequel to the original film.
Simply put, The LEGO Batman Movie is the greatest DC film ever assembled—the crowning achievement, in an otherwise hodgepodge of a franchise. What makes the film so completely arresting and marveling is really three fold. Starting with its casting. LEGO Batman wouldn’t nearly pack as powerful of a punch if not for the boundless energy and charisma of its cast led by Arnett himself. Apart from Arnett whose clever boyish witticism absolutely shines in every scene—even when he’s free-stylin’ and beatboxing—comedian Zach Galifianakis, who’ll put a smile on that face, as The Joker, and Michael Cera, as plucky orphan Dick Grayson and sidekick Robin, likewise seem molded into their roles. All breathe new life into some long-established and iconic characters. Which is a tall order—no pun intended—considering the DCU has been a mixed-bag when it comes to casting, as evidenced by the construction, evolution, deconstruction, and eventual rebirth, as well as the endless revolving door of its live-action counterparts. Look no further than quintessential archetypical performances from Keaton (1989) and Ledger (2008), to down-right abhorrent and forgettable performances from Clooney (1997) and Leto (2016).
Secondly, the world of computerized animation is limitless and it’s suited for God-like powered figures—as well as tiny, yellow, mini-figured ones—who simply defy the laws of our natural world in strange and unbelievable ways. “Batman has no limits!” Well he does if he’s made of flesh and bones. Director Chris McKay (Robot Chicken) gets it, and that’s why he’s ideal at the helm. With live-action, studios are always having to up the ante with dazzling special effects, as well as pragmatic costumes and settings. It’s incredibly expensive and despite looking hyper-realistic now, many contemporary vanguard films, end up looking archaic and laughable to younger sensibilities and admittedly nostalgic adults. Look no further than: Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987), Batman and Robin (1995), Catwoman (2004), Superman Returns (2006), Green Lantern (2011), and on and on. Alan West, the Batman of the 60’s understood this and may have predicted the darker tone the newer films would eventually take, remarking famously on The Simpsons, “I suppose you’re only familiar with the new Batman movies. Michelle Pfeiffer? Ha! The only true Catwoman is Julie Newmar, Lee Meriwether, or Eartha Kitt. And I didn’t need molded plastic to improve my physique. Pure West! And why doesn’t Batman dance anymore? Remember the Batusi?” The edgy realism of modern films is so dark, so humorless. That’s why it’s refreshing that unlike their ten digit, live-action coequals, the LEGO heroes and villains aren’t forced to waller in a pit of despair and hopelessness. There’s already enough of that in the “real world” to go around. So when a bunch of LEGOs have to save the day by literally and figuratively putting their heads together to pull a city back from the brink of utter destruction, you don’t blink an eye, because they can interchange their heads and bodies!
But more importantly The LEGO Batman Movie accomplishes what no other DC film has been able to do to date, which is to ultimately bring the entire DCU under one roof—just in this case it’s a interlocking plate with 4.8 mm x 1.7 mm studs. That’s no small task! Not just the main characters mind you—every character—even the Wonder Twins! And even more that might surprise you. Furthermore, the film possesses innumerable easter eggs—so many so that a single viewing isn’t enough to catch them all, along with a multitude of self-referential jokes, and homages which celebrate the nearly 80 year-old comic book character’s storied history as seen through the years in various mediums including: newsprint, television, and the movie franchises. LEGO Batman will entertain the most hardcore of Batman fans, as well as young kids, angsty teens, adults, weirdos, tyrannical alien rulers, people who hate dumb voices, #notmybatman protesters, mutants, anyone suffering from chiroptophobia or lateriphobia, Mawmaws and even the uninitiated. But we are initiated—aren’t we?
By Nick Roush on ©February 11th, 2017 @ 8:15pm
Can you feel that tingle in the air? A cold wind coming over yonder horizon? That’s not the north wind blowing… it’s the midseason premier of The Walking Dead! It’s been a couple of long months in between episodes and we’re excited to be back with the Walker gang. Brad and Josh are back to preview this Sunday’s episode. On the Deadcast we discuss:
- Placing Pop Bets for the rest of the season.
- Who is the mysterious traveler ?
- Is Shiva going to be back in all her glory?
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.
By C.M. Tomlin on ©February 10th, 2017 @ 3:00pm
Friends, I shouldn’t need to tell you that this upcoming Tuesday is Valentine’s Day, that day made for celebrating love in all it’s forms. While there’s not a lot of time spent here at KSR on the machinations of romance, if you’ve ever looked at the back page of this website you’ve likely noticed a number of classified ads taken out by our readers. We thought it might be worth highlighting a few this week in honor of the holiday. Here’s to you and yours on Valentine’s Day.
LOOKING FOR YOU. High-rated basketball team seeking grad transfer who can come in and knock down long-range shots. Also need rim protector who can catch lobs and rebound his spot. Can you complete us? Call Cats x54422
MISSED CONNECTION. Me: Handsome, wealthy athlete and spokesperson. You: the jersey I wore for the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history. Please come back? My supermodel wife wants to put you in a shadow box with my ring and MVP trophy. Tom x33222
LET’S GET HOT. Something about Valentine’s day just makes me want to get all hot and sweaty Also, going to the bank makes me hot and sweaty. And eating dinner. And coaching my basketball team. I may have a thyroid condition or I may just be ready for love. Call me. Bruce x98493
GET TO KNOW ME? Someone said you were asking about me, wondering who I am. My name is Mike White, I came from Louisiana Tech where I was 81-23 over four seasons. I’ve been in Florida already for like two years, it makes me sad that you haven’t bothered to learn my name yet. Mike x82234
DO YOU LIKE PAIN WITH YOUR PLEASURE? I’ll give you all the highs of a great recruiting class and a win over North Carolina but then punish you with a Tennessee loss. Feel the exquisite torture with a March climax. Cal x21233
GIRLS DIRECT TO YOU! Need some company? Are you a good defender with a solid FG percentage? Don’t be lonely. Let us take care of you. Don’t worry, no one will ever find out. Probably. Andre x23363
MISSED CONNECTION. Me: Saw you at the Knicks game. Shouted at you, trying to get your attention but you didn’t notice. So I poked a security guard in the temple and then I had to go to jail. Hit me up? Oakley x75434
LOOK TO THE STARS. What does your future hold? Let me look into the cosmos and determine what’s to come. Major credit cards accepted. Madame Lunardi’s Psychic Emporium x1432
By Josh Corman on ©February 09th, 2017 @ 9:00am
Near the beginning of Mr. Universe, his 2012 stand-up special, Jim Gaffigan mentions that he’s become a father for the fourth time and playfully laments that people have received this news with far more concern than excitement.
Then, he delivers the following joke: “You want to know what it’s like to have a fourth [child]? Just imagine you’re drowning, and then someone hands you a baby.”
I died laughing. I had to stop the special and rewind it because I missed a substantial portion of what Gaffigan said next. The joke accumulated its humor slowly, then paid off handsomely at the punchline. It was a perfect example of how stand-up works.
This was sometime in 2013. On the strength of that joke (which, even as I think about it now, brings a smile to my face), I came to think of Jim Gaffigan as funny. I might have used the word “hilarious” to describe, if not Gaffigan himself, then certainly some of his material. I’m sure the and McDonald’s bits gave me a chuckle, and I’ve always liked his periodic jumps into the mind of a dismayed spectator watching his act.
But then I turned on his most recent Netflix special, Cinco. I watched the first half hour and didn’t laugh once. I’m not sure the corners of my mouth flinched in those thirty minutes. It was so, so bad.
I thought back. Had I laughed much during his other specials? Not really. And, come to think of it, I tried listening to the audiobook of Dad is Fat, his 2013 memoir, thinking that he would bring a stand-up’s sense of performance to the recording, but his delivery was so bumbling and un-comedian-like that I never finished it.
Then Cinco sealed it. Jim Gaffigan just isn’t funny.
And yes, I recognize that this is about as subjective as a statement can get. Comedy, more than any other art form, seems to be as much about the person hearing the joke as the one telling it. Context matters.
My wife, for example, sat through her entire first viewing of Anchorman (which we both consider one of the funniest movies ever) and didn’t laugh once. It just so happens that I had made a stupidly insensitive comment right before we left to go see the movie, and she wouldn’t have found anything funny during that couple of hours. She thinks the movie is hilarious now, but the whole situation just proves that what’s going on in our brains has as much — if not more — to do with what we find humorous as the people coming up with the jokes.
So what does that mean for me and Jim Gaffigan? I guess it means that something has changed. It means I now find grating a delivery I once found charming. It means that jokes that once felt warm and fully-realized now feel flat and half-baked. What was once engaging is now boring and predictable. What was once funny is… not.
And that’s kind of disorienting, to be honest with you. Because it means that something I thought I knew about myself is suddenly no longer true. It’s like looking in the mirror and finding out my nose is a different size and shape than I remember.
We like to think that, as we get older, our identities — including the kinds of music, movies, books, and jokes we enjoy — get more solid. We like to think we’re immune from the sort of all-of-a-sudden moment that I experienced watching Cinco. And so the reason that suddenly finding Jim Gaffigan not funny bothers me in the first place is that it suggests that, even if it’s only in some small way, that I’m not exactly who I thought I was.
I’d be troubled if I woke up one day and suddenly didn’t like listening to The Beatles or thought the films of Alfred Hitchcock were outdated and hokey. I wouldn’t feel like myself.
And although, to be clear, Jim Gaffigan ain’t exactly The Beatles or Hitchcock, once upon a time he cracked me up, and now he doesn’t.
So, if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go think way too hard about what that means.