On Saturday afternoon, I sat down and wrote an entire post about how no matter →
KSR’s take on recent non sports related happenings
2016 was, um, something, wasn’t it? (By which I mean that 2016 was a dumpster fire: it stank, it’s taking forever to end, and if we’re not careful, it’s awfulness could spread, causing untold damage.*)
Through it all, pop culture kept on keepin’ on, however, and it certainly gave us some moments to tweet home about. In my humble (oh, who am I kidding?) opinion, here were the 5 most meaningful moments, events, happenings, or other plural synonym for a time when something happened of 2016.
1. Beyoncé ruled the Super Bowl
The world’s biggest musical star + America’s most-watched televised event = that fire emoji a bunch of times in a row. Getting Bey to join animatronic amusement park robots Coldplay during the Super Bowl halftime show was a no-brainer. Most artists play it safe, using the opportunity to revisit their biggest hits and generally please their audience. This was not that. Instead, Beyoncé stole the show, kicking off her performance with a song — “Formation” — she’d released just 24 hours earlier, a song that wears its feminism on its sleeve and claims unequivocally that black lives matter.
A lot of (sexist, racist) people were pissed (because they’re sexist and/or racist), and they blasted Beyoncé for “being political” and making the performance about something besides the crazy-eyed consumerist frenzy that is the Super Bowl broadcast. As if all art isn’t political (even, or especially, when it intentionally ignores politics), and the Super Bowl halftime show is an English drawing room where potentially uncomfortable subjects must be avoided at all costs.
In retrospect, the performance looms even larger. It kicked open a door that artists like D’Angelo and Kendrick Lamar had laid their shoulders against the year prior, and brought black experience to the forefront of popular music in a way we haven’t seen since the Stevie Wonder/Marvin Gaye heyday of the late 60s and early 70s.
2. Everyone died
OK, so, not everyone died, but it sure felt that way. Alan Rickman, David Bowie, Gene Wilder, Prince, Muhammad Ali, Leonard Cohen, and what felt like a hundred other celebrated pop culture-type folks all passed away this year, and with each successive loss, the feeling that 2016 was especially sinister intensified. Bad news never seemed far away, and almost as soon as we finished processing the death and appreciating the life of one all-timer, another crappy headline would appear on our feeds or scroll across the bottom of our TVs.
In a weird way, though, the deaths of so many popular figures had a weirdly comforting effect. Fact is, our increasingly fractured media landscape makes it harder and harder to have experiences that feel truly shared with the culture at large. But as figures we’d sung along to, laughed at, and told stories about for generations passed away, millions were able to revel in those memories together, even if the revelry was more bitter than sweet.
3. Music officially made the streaming leap
CDs are dead, vinyl is weirdly resurgent, and cassette tapes (I swear) are still a thing. But Mp3s? They don’t look long for the world, and even though streaming services had emerged as the dominant source for music fans, it wasn’t until this year that they became indispensable. When Chance the Rapper released his third mixtape, Coloring Book, and Kanye “Make America Great Again” West released his latest, The Life of Pablo exclusively on Tidal and Apple Music, respectively, it seemed clear that the idea of “owned” music, even in a non-physical form, was maybe drawing its last breaths.
There will, of course, still be fetishists who savor the crackle of vinyl, and weirdos like me who favor CDs. But even months after their initial releases, there’s no hint that either Chance or Yeezy are ever going to put out physical versions of their 2016 records. If this becomes the norm rather than the exception, and, say, Taylor Swift or Beyoncé or Adele goes the all-streaming route, then we might see the final nails driven into the coffin of personal music ownership. Whenever that happens, we’ll be able to point back to 2016 as the tipping point.
4. SNL mocked Trump; Trump tweeted his unending displeasure
Where Alec Baldwin’s Donald Trump impression ranks among SNL’s all-time greats isn’t for me to say (I know of at least one person who really hates it). But what’s undeniable is that, because of Baldwin’s take on the President-elect, there’s never been a more captivating time in the show’s entire history. If that sounds crazy, remember that no other sketch, character, host, or impression has elicited a direct response from one of the most powerful people on the planet just about every time it hits the air.
For a show that’s been declared dead more times than I can count, it’s remarkable how frequently SNL claws its way back to must-watch status over and over again. And now that Baldwin and the show’s writers know that the PEOTUS is watching (and tweeting about) the show, he’s the only audience they really have to worry about. As a result, we all end up watching the show in anticipation of what button it’s going to push and how Trump will react, which is a fascinating dynamic. Imagine if Vietnam-era military leaders had issued bitter press releases after every episode of M*A*S*H.
Each tweet confirms how thin-skinned Donald Trump is. Though every president has been raked over the coals by SNL, none of them have ever expressed much more than mild chagrin at their treatment. George H.W. Bush even invited Dana Carvey to the White House back in the day to make light of Carvey’s impression. But now we’ve got a leader who can’t take ribbing from the guy who voiced a devious lion in Madagascar 2. Sad!
5. Mike Pence visited Hamilton
In general, I don’t have a lot of love for the theater. It’s not because I don’t appreciate the stories or the skill of the performers involved; it’s just that the center of that universe is so far away from my physical location that it’s difficult to feel invested. In the same way that I don’t blame people in Mexico for not caring about hockey, I don’t blame people who live outside New York for spending their pop culture attention on other things.
But Hamilton is something different. Not only is the music from the show groundbreaking and incredible and all that, but it’s actually seeped into the culture to a degree beyond that of any Broadway production I can think of. How do I know? Two reasons.
- The Vice President-elect went out of his way to attend the show, in what I can only assume was an attempt to come across as “with it,” “cool,” and “happening.”
- When the crowd booed the Vice President-elect, and the cast prepared and read from stage an open plea to his administration to remember the kinds of marginalized people that he has at best ignored and at worst openly targeted for persecution during his political career, it made national headlines for a week straight.
In the days following Pence’s visit, Hamilton became a stand-in for immigrants (they get the job done, you know), racial and religious minorities, and the LGBTQ community at-large, all of whom have expressed serious concern about their place in Trump’s America. The cast’s statement was an invitation to the rest of the country to speak truth to power. Maybe I should give Broadway more of a chance.
*I wrote this before the Louisville game. My bad, guys. Shoulda known better.
In an era of rap that focuses on showing up another rapper or worrying more about your image, Chance the Rapper still keeps it real. His 2016 mixtape “Coloring Book” helped to earn him eight Grammy Nominations. But Chance’s nominations are not like any other artists. The Chicago-native’s latest masterpiece, like his other mixtapes, is streaming only. Chance believes his music should be free and available to anyone so they can enjoy it. There are many things that make Chance different than any other rapper, here are a few.
- He refuses to sign with a record label. Chance will not sign with a record label because he doesn’t want to ruled by someone who will tell him what kind of music to produce. A big reason for this is that Chance doesn’t want to stop talking about the topics that he cares about to please a record label. Chance’s denial of record labels came out in his top song “No Problem” this summer. With the catchy lead in of “if one more label try to stop me”, “No Problem” was performed on Ellen and shot up the Billboard Charts.
“I don’t make songs for free I make ’em for freedom. Don’t believe in kings believe in the kingdom.” (Blessings)
2. Chance loves God. And he doesn’t care who hears it. This weekend, Chance went on SNL and performed “Finish Line/Drown” with noname. The song includes a gospel choir and lyrics that talk about redemption in God. “There’s a lot of taboos in hip hop that people try and stay away from, and I think a big one is people scared to talk about God,” Chance told Good Morning America. “And I think, if you’re not free to talk about God, then you’re not free.”
3. He gives mad love to his city. You hear about every rapper giving love to their hometown. Drake and Toronto. Lil Wayne in New Orleans. Jay Z and Brooklyn. But no one does it like Chance does. Every month, Chance and his family host an open mic night at a local school or rec center to give inner city kids a chance to show off their talents. According to his Twitter, he also helped raise over 60,000 dollars for coats for those in need in 2015. Even in his music Chance shows his love for his city, but mainly his worry about the high death total. “Angels” is a song off Coloring Book that talks about the young children that are being killed on the southside of Chicago.
“I got my city doing front flips. When every father, mayor, rapper jump ship.
I guess that’s why they call it where I stay. Clean up the streets, so my daughter can have somewhere to play.” (Angels)
4. His music has matured, just like he has. His first two mixtapes “Ten Day” and “Acid Rap” were a lot more focused on smoking and being on the streets of Chicago. The latter album is what projected Chance into the spotlight in 2015. “Acid Rap” is a spectacular mixtape with hits like “Favorite Song” and “Cocoa Butter Kisses”. His first mixtape “Ten Day”, is about being suspended from school for ten days. But when “Coloring Book” came along, it was easy to see Chance had done some growing up. Chance is now a father and his given more of his time to God and his family.
5. He did a special at the ESPYs for Muhammed Ali. For those that missed the ESPYs this year or didn’t pay attention to the performance, Chance did an original song for Ali after his passing. The song shows Chance’s gospel side and the ability to write intricate lyrics. Here is the performance from this summer.
If you listen to “Coloring Book”, we can see that Chance doesn’t color in the lines. His music is just as different from mainstream hip hop as he is from other rappers. Like his other mixtapes, “Coloring Book” is easy and fun to jam to at any time. The hit mixtape has led to appearances on The Tonight Show, Ellen, SNL, and even his own Kit Kat Commercial. Make sure to tune in for the Grammys to see Chance reel in some awards (hopefully) for what was truly a creative collection of music.
As mentioned before, Chance’s music is all free online. If you want to check any of it out, go to chanceraps.com or listen on Spotify, Apple Music, or YouTube for his older mixtapes.
My life is far removed from the realities of the New York Met Gala. Honestly, the event is beyond my comprehension. I’m not even sure what is the difference between a gala and a ball (Dress code? Passed hors d’oeuvres? Bieber wears his fancy sweatpants?) Currently, Netflix is streaming the documentary The First Monday in May. The documentary outlines all of the specifics that go into creating the fanciest night of the year. It is one part celebrity, one part fashion, one part cult fascination with Anna Wintour and one part charity. All the pieces are a necessary part of the puzzle that help a Kentuckian in Old Navy jeans understand a high fashion event in New York City.
One Part Celebrity:
In 2015, the theme of the gala was China: Through the Looking Glass. While the combination of Asian culture and Alice in Wonderland seems odd in the title, the collection’s goal is to show how Eastern Culture inspires the West. The show delicately toes the line between politics, stereotypes, respect and insults. Even the politics of which celebrities get invited and who sits where gets dicey. It is like one big game of wedding table seating chart chess. However, when the combination of celebrity and fashion combine, all of the turmoil is worth the transcendence that it creates.
The emphasis on transcendence, celebrity and fashion seems pretentious at first, but once the documentary shows spinning, slow-motion starlets, transcendence seems like the appropriate word choice. It’s lovely. No one, however, should miss the symbolism that as the celebrities enter the event space they are greeted by a huge Ming vase replica made of roses–beautiful, but so, so empty. The irony of that visual is transcending in a different way.
One Part Fashion:
The First Monday in May is quick to state that fashion is often dismissed as art because it is viewed as part of “the female domain.” The collection is undeniably art. Watching Andrew fuss with fluffing the train of a dress says something. It says the ideas are worth an intentional display. They are worth being fussed with. As they are prepareing the installations and all of the board members are vomitting out their opinions, someone says “seeing too much, is seeing nothing.” What’s implied is that seeing something, gives you a viewpoint or a idea that is new and meaningful to you. Good ideas should be presented clearly. This collection has a clear viewpoint and this collection speak volumes. The ideas are souveniers we get to keep forever.
One Part Cult Fascination:
Normal Americans know Anna Wintour as the inspiration for Meryl Streep’s character in The Devil Wears Prada. She is decisive, opinionated and awesome. Her opinions are as precise as the angle on Wintour’s signature haircut. As the documentary points out, if she were a man, she might be viewed differently. We will never know how she will be perceived in that alternate universe where she is known as “Mann-a” Wintour and frankly I don’t want to know. To me, she is perfect. She is known for merging low and high cultures together. For example, her constant accessory is a venti Starbucks cup. To her, Chanel suits can be paired with a Starbucks cup that can be purchased by any lowly person. She is an icon.
One Part Charity:
The ultimate goal of the ball is to raise money for the museum. The event can easily turn into a photo gallery of “who wore what.” The lofty ambitions of the gala get dragged into the gutter with all the mainstream celebrities. In the film, there is footage of Rihanna performing during the fundraiser. She sings “B**** better have my money.”
At the Met.
With fake machine gun noises.
Like “Brrap” “Brrap” “Brrap.”
It’s an odd choice for a China: Through the Looking Glass fundraiser. I truly hope China don’t adopt this “better have my money” philosophy as an anthem.
The whole event is this odd pairing. High Art and Low Culture. Chanel and Starbucks. Ming Vases and Justin Bieber. There is an element of hypocrisy that is laced throughout (i.e. spending lots of money to make tons of money.) As the celebrities enter the gorgeous walkway, The Rolling Stones’ “Undercover (Of The Night)” plays. Initially, the song is a jaunty tune. Jennifer Lawrence walks bow-legged up the stairs to avoid falling. Sarah Jessica Parker wears a questionable fashion accessory. It is all good fun. But, after a quick google search you realize that the song is about how all the young men have been “rounded up” and how you can smell the faint smell of “suicide.” It’s deceptively dark. It too is an odd pairing of whimsy and importance. “Undercover (Of The Night)” perfectly explains how this event is frivolous and necessary all at the same time.
Sometimes, December can be a season of artificial joy. Forced merriment, and the usage of the word “jolly” is at an all time high. Truthfully, when I powered up Netflix, I sought out the #1 culprit of this faux mirth–cheesy Christmas movies. I settled on Christmas Ranch. I hoped Christmas Ranch was about a woman who owns a failing hidden valley salad specialty diner. She didn’t. It was mainly about an angsty teen who uses horses to find the Christmas spirit. It was textbook artificial Christmas and it was too painful to watch. Instead, I settled on this documentary, which was an even better example of the Christmas spirit. There is so much joy to be found in watching people do what they love. There is so much joy when you get to share that love with other people. Anna Wintour is 2016’s Scrooge, who probably isn’t as evil as she has been made out to be. Back home in Kentucky, I feel like tiny Tim in my Old Navy jeans. I’ve witnessed the Christmas Spirit in an unexpected way and want to share it. God bless us, everyone!
By Richmond Bramblet on ©December 20th, 2016 @ 9:30am
Nintendo is currently having a heck of a run. Just over a month ago, the big N debuted their latest gaming platform, “Nintendo Switch,” which has been met with great excitement if it can pull off what they say it can. And now, just last week, Nintendo debuted its first ever mobile game with Super Mario Run.
Super Mario Run is a form of an “endless runner” game, with the player not having to press anything to propel the iconic plumber forwards. Run can be played with just one hand, which is what Nintendo was looking for in introducing Mario to the mobile market. Players just tap the screen to make Mario jump, which is his sole action in the game. Mario can land on Goombas and other enemies to earn coins, but the main goal of the game is the same as it ever was… get to the end and touch the flag pole.
In just the first day of Super Mario Run being on the App Store, it’s already hit five million downloads. After the first day of ever popular app-craze Pokemon Go being available for download, it was downloaded 1.8 million times. What’s even more interesting is the profit the game has made already. On Super Mario Run, the first three levels of the game available to you for free. If you would like to play further, the game comes with a $9.99 price tag, which is steep for a mobile game. However, the game already earned $5 million in day-one gross revenue. As a first step into the mobile world for Nintendo, Run looks to be an instant success.
So what do you get with Super Mario Run? There are three distinct modes of the game. The first is the most familiar, called “World Tour”. World Tour allows players to play through 24 distinct Mario levels. Each world consists of three levels, plus a final boss in either Bowser’s Castle or the airship. To increase replayability, each level has five red coins the player attempts to try and collect all in the same run. If they can grab all five coins, the player is able to go again to try and collect five purple coins in more difficult to reach locations. Lastly, five black coins are available for the most experienced Mario players.
Another mode is Toad Rally. This sort of works as “online multiplayer,” except it’s not. Players will play against ghost runners of other players who have played the game online. The goal of the mode is for you to run a 60-second race against the opponent to see who can gain the most coins over that span. Added to your score will also be the number of “toads” who cheer you on. You gain these toads by doing ‘cool moves’ over the course of the race, whether it be wall jumping, jumping off enemies, staying in the air for a long amount of time, etc. These two items will combine to give you your score in the ‘race’. You also get to keep all of the toads that you earn during the game, which unlock things in the third mode of the game.
Your Kingdom is a less interactive mode, but a mode nonetheless. With Kingdom, you are able to essentially build your own kingdom (after it had been destroyed by Bowser. In the other two modes, you accumulate coins, which you are able to spend in this mode to buy buildings or decorations to build up your kingdom. Also, the toads you earn in Toad Rally become your citizens and also help unlock new buildings and decorations. Some of these buildings are bonus games that allow you to gain more coins or tickets to play in Toad Rally. Just by playing through certain levels of the game, you earn 5 tickets for Toad Rally, so you’ll never actually have to pay for any in-app purchases other than the initial $9.99 which is a great strategy that warrants the high price of the game.
Overall, as a mobile game, Super Mario Run is a fun experience that allows you to get quick 60-90 second bits of playing Super Mario World without having to fire up an NES or WiiU. While the Kingdom Mode isn’t much to work with, the other two modes totally make up for it. Toad Rally is fun to play “against” other people, but I’ve found it’s even more fun to see how many jump combinations you can string together in the 60-second rounds. World Tour is exactly what you’d want from a Mario endless runner, familiar opponents, familiar worlds and the classic play that’s been around from Nintendo for the last 31 years. For me, the game is worth the $10 price-tag, but that’s ultimately up to you. Either way, download the first three levels and give it a run, the nostalgia is at least worth that to you.
“You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen,
Comet and Cupid and Die Hard and Gremlins,
But do you recall…
The scariest Christmas story of all?”
Honestly, I’m not sure at what point I started to question Santa Claus’ existence. However, I vividly recall when I became utterly terrified of the bearded one—and director Robert Zemeckis is to blame. Yup, that’s right, the onus for my neurosis falls squarely on the filmmaker, who’s known for epochal movies like: Back to the Future, Forrest Gump, Castaway, and The Polar Express, to name a few. Perhaps I’m being a bit ostentatious. While Zemeckis is rightfully deserving of the majority of my ire, there are others who need to be called out too. Namely, Johnny Craig, the writer and illustrator of an obscure comic book from 1953, HBO, and even Jolly Old Saint Nick, who admittedly is kinda creepy anyways. Despite being beloved by millions, Santa can strike terror in the hearts and minds of young children and even some adults—with his red velvety suit, greasy beard and rosacea-marked cheeks, the omniscient and judgmental powers he possesses, his cat burglar-esque methods and even the whole sit-on-my-lap act.
To understand how all this happened and why Zemeckis is primarily at fault, let’s go back to June, 1989—’Twas the night of June 10th to be exact. Wait a minute…you said Christmas, and here we are talking about summer. Stay with me. You see with nearly six months out from the Holiday season, the last thing my 13 year old mind was thinking about was Santa Claus. As an only child, naturally when I was left to my own devices, I would spend that time watching HBO which I discovered by accident on the basement TV. Back-in-the-day, HBO was just a fledgling premium cable network, not the behemoth that it is today. Now it’s known for binge-worthy programs like: Oz, The Sopranos, Game of Thrones and Westworld, but in the early to late 80’s, original programming was scarce, except for one haunting show—Tales From the Crypt. And on that cool June night, as I sat in that dark and damp basement of my home, just feet away from the television, the first episode of Tales From the Crypt premiered and I was never the same. In retrospect, the horror series seems schlocky now, but when you’re 13, the dark comedy and depictions of horrific and graphic violence, doused with profanity, and often featuring scenes with nudity were…well…freakin’ awesome! I mean come on. Regardless, many episodes were downright terrifying—which brings me to the aforementioned director.
And All Through the House was the first episode to air on the inaugural series, and it featured Zemeckis at the helm. The entire series relied heavily on source material from the Vault of Horror comicbook anthology popular in the late 50’s, and the episode in question, was drawn from issue #35 of the same name. Zemeckis gives the nearly 40 year-old story a modern update, yet stays true to the noir narrative, following the comics layout almost panel by panel. It’s a suspenseful and chilling tale about a cheating wife who murders her husband in cold blood for the insurance money and attempts to clean up the mess and dispose of his remains, all while their young daughter stirs in her bedroom above, anxiously awaiting Santa’s arrival on a cold, snowbound Christmas Eve. Complicating matters, a lady-killing lunatic is on the lam, having recently escaped from a nearby asylum, last seen wearing—you guessed it a Santa outfit—has been seen in the area. What transpires next was the most frightening, heart-pounding 30 minutes of my young, impressionable little life. As the murdering spouse attempts to cover up the scene of the crime, she is beset by both the menacing, drooling, grungy-looking, rotten-toothed Santa, played by the late actor Larry Drake and her own innocent, unsuspecting child who is on the verge of stumbling upon the grizzly scene. Her already grave circumstances, are exasterbated by the fact that she’s unable to alert the police, about the dangerous serial killer terrorizing her, without also exposing her own savage crime. All this culminates into a cruel twist of fate in the end.
In the following days after watching that initial episode, I couldn’t shake its jarring impact on my budding adult consciousness—ultimately filling me with dread each time I took the trash outside in the dark, with each passing month, as the weather became colder and more bleak, leading up to Christmas. Finally, as we entered into the official Holiday season, my parents instinctively requested a Christmas wish list. Deep down, I wanted to ask for a labotomy, but I knew I couldn’t reveal my own secret HBO/Tales From the Crypt obsession. Instead, I listed a Wayne Gretzky jersey at the top of the notebook paper. All the while, secretly wishing that my mind would be wiped from the horrors I’d seen months earlier. I only got the jersey.
This review guest written by Funkhouser contributor Brad Morris.
Thank you Disney. Thank you for giving George Lucas an obscene amount of money a few years ago. Growing up on Star Wars was an amazing childhood experience, and to a certain extent helped to form my imagination. Unfortunately, Lucas became his own worst enemy in the late 90’s/early 00’s. With an advance in technology, Lucas felt the need to tell the story of how Anakin Skywalker became Darth Vader. And it wasn’t so much the story being told as it was that the acting was wooden, with all the prequels being shot on green screen to make it feel artificial as well. I offer to you to check out the movie Fanboys, a story of friends who grew up on SW. The last line of the movie is “What if this sucks?”, referring to them watching the Phantom Menace for the first time. It did, it does, and we were left to wonder if this would ever change. With Disney buying out The Godfather of SW, we could see the hope of new SW movies with different directors and different visions of the SW universe. The Force Awakens was a return to the saga of The Skywalkers, and a triumphant one at that. But since they were coming out every other year, Disney decided to ride the momentum and bring a new SW out every Christmas. So they opened up the toy box and we have been rewarded with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
Before we dive in, just be aware I’m trying to stay spoiler free. If you don’t want to know ANYTHING about R1, then skip this post and come back after watching it. Getting through with that, let’s jump to hyperspace.
Rogue One is the first SW movie that doesn’t deal with Leia, Luke, or Han Solo. When A New Hope came out in 1977, the movie opened with a screen crawl of text. Here are the first two paragraphs of that crawl:
It is a period of civil war. Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire.
During the battle, Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the DEATH STAR, an armored space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet.
Let me remind you, this was first seen in 19 frickin’ 77! The plot lines and story were probably not even a whisper in Lucas’s mind back then. No, this was first dreamed up in 2005 while Revenge of the Sith was being made. Several people from Industrial Light and Magic were rewatching ANH, when the idea was floated, “Hey, why don’t we make a movie about the Rebels at that first victory and the stealing of the Death Star plans?” Almost 12 years, amazing advances in CGI, the selling of LucasArts to Disney, and we get the basis of R1.
I said I’d keep this as spoiler free as possible, but I don’t know how deep down the exhaust port you want to go. So here’s your last warning.
⚠️⚠️Possible Spoilers Ahead⚠️⚠️
The protagonist of the movie is Jyn Erso, a smuggler and a thief. We don’t see on screen what she’s done, but listen to her record as read by a Rebel leader. She’s been busted out of Emperial prison by Cassian Andor, a Captain and Rebel spy. They task her with a mission to find the plans for the Death Star and bring them back before planets start being destroyed left and right.
Through a series of adventures, she is joined by Andor and his loyal side kick K2SO, a reprogrammed Emperial droid. K2SO steals almost every scene he’s in, given that when Andor reprogrammed him, all of his circuits filters were damaged. This means whatever he thinks, he says. Hilarity ensues.
The other members plucked up along the way are Chirrut Îmwe, a blind monk who shows signs he can use the Force. Îmwe’s bodyguard Baze Malbus, a lover of big guns. And finally Bohdi Rook, a pilot who defects from the Empire with information regarding the Death Stars plans. With these pieces falling into place, the best description I can give is that this is the SW version of the Dirty Dozen. Every character has a chance to shine in their own right.
As for the bad guys, there are 3 main antagonists. Orson Krennic is the leader of the special weapons division for the Empire, and in charge of arming the Death Star. He runs into several difficulties due to our Rebel scum, and this caused him to be taken off the project, lest he can find and stop Jyn and her team. He also has the misfortune of being in the path of…
Darth Vadar!!!! Our Lord of the Sith returns to the screen in his most menacing role ever. Without giving it away, there is a 60-90 second time frame where Vadar’s full power is on display for the first time ever. It was always assumed you knew he could be this powerful, but never shown on the big screen. It’s such a treat I could watch it on a loop for at least an hour.
As for the third bad guy… my lips are sealed. Nope, not going to say a word. I could 🤔…. Nope, that’d be too much info. Or I could 🤔… Damnit! Can’t even talk about that. You’ll just have to wait and be mesmerized.
Now that we’ve gotten the main story and characters out of the way, we can get back into full blown, non spoiler territory. Such as how did I FEEL about R1. I felt 6 years old again, like watching The Empire Strikes Back for the first time. I FEEL like this is the second best SW movie ever made, and I don’t make that statement lightly. I thought it would a be good filler until Episode 8 comes out next Christmas, but I was blown away. I have no major issues with anything, only a couple of minor hiccups. I didn’t like Forrest Whitaker’s character at all. Sure he was a nice tie in to Star Wars Rebels, but it felt a bit forced. And pacing for the second act felt just left of center to me. Other than that, it was perfectly done.
Also, and I’m not even sure how this is possible, they made A New Hope better. That’s right! With the effort they give, and the story they tell, somehow it adds a deeper richness to the original movie. I’ve never seen this happen before in movie history. Especially when there is a 39 year time gap to deal with. You may also ask how much time takes place between the end of R1 and the beginning of ANH? I’d say, conservatively, 30-45 seconds. No really! You could cut the credits off of R1 and just start ANH without a break and it’d be perfect.
Another question you may have is R1 child friendly? I’ll say this. I took my 9 year old daughter with me and she loved it. I also wouldn’t have a problem with my 7 year old seeing it. Beyond that I’ll leave up to you. Just remember that this movie puts the WAR in Star Wars. There is a ton of battles, and people die left and right. The space battle in the third act is worth the extra couple of republic credits for 3D. I enjoyed Rogue One probably more than I should have, but that’s the kid in me thirsting for great Star Wars movies. I’ll give R1 3.5/4 light sabers. May The Force Be With You… Always.
Hello, Friends. You’re looking well. Did you drink any of that eggnog I left out on the counter? I meant to — you did? Okay. You may feel some discomfort; I made it wrong. Also, I left it out of the refrigerator for, like three days. Just wait it out, you’ll stop vomiting by Christmas. Probably.
Friends, I don’t need to tell you that our beloved Cats are in the happiest place on earth — Sin City. Fabulous Las Vegas. The Entertainment Capital of the World. If you’re lucky enough to be out in Nevada or head that way today, enjoy. As the city is one of my favorites on the planet, I thought I’d put together a little primer for you to help navigate the weekend.
The game will take place at 5:45 pm EST.
This means the game will take place at 2:45 pm PST, Vegas time. Plan accordingly, because out there time can get away from you, and by the time you’ve roused, cleaned up, found a place to eat and downed a pitcher of bloody marys, you’ll be in the “Vegas Bubble” which renders time inconsequential. The last thing you want to do is realize you’re six jack and Cokes into a “Kitty Glitter” slot machine session while De’Aaron Fox is having his career high.
The team is reportedly staying at the Aria.
If you’ve never been to the Aria, it’s very big and alternately very angular and very smooth. If that seems impossible, you clearly haven’t been to the aria. On the outside it looks like a big disco ball and on the inside it looks like a ski lodge is melting. It also has a lot of the types of stores where two bored, hip sales associates clad all in black stand bored at the door while waiting for a patron to purchase on of nine very expensive items they have in the entire shop. But hey, you might see Isaac Humphries at the pool, maybe.
The game is at T-Mobile Arena.
If you’re in doubt, it’s the brand new one. It’s not the Thomas & Mack Center. If you show up to the Thomas & Mack Center on December 17th you’ll just see a bunch of people getting communications degrees while their families clap proudly with no idea that their son or daughter is a part-time dancer/escort at Greek Fantasies East or “Girls Direct 2 Ur Room.”
If you’re not on the strip, do not assume you can walk from one hotel to the next.
The strip exists for you to easily access all properties from a common route. While the Luxor might look like the Mandalay Bay is about a five minute walk, you will notice the route is littered with the vulture-picked bones of those who died trying to make the trek before you. These buildings are so huge they look close. THEY ARE NOT CLOSE IF YOU ARE WALKING BY NON-STRIP SIDEWALK. The last thing you want to see is the slowly blurring spires of the depressing, decaying Excalibur as you collapse upon your empty plastic Mango-Passionfruit Tango Daiquiri.
Buffets are great…if they’re upper-tier buffets.
The idea of all-you-can-eat crab legs is enticing, bear in mind they’re much higher quality if it’s in a buffet location within at least ONE STATE of an ocean. I once was eating raw oysters in a dining room at the top of Binions, looking out over a desert when I suddenly thought to myself “What the hell am I doing? This is going to kill me, probably.” The problem with buffets is that it’s a lot of food, but instead of it all being good each item exists at about 35-45% the quality it would be if you just went to a restaurant that specialized in that. I mean, do you really need a hotdog/salmon/grits/gelato combination? Best to just think of a thing you want to eat and purchase that thing. The only exception to this rule is breakfast buffets, because you can’t ever go wrong with those. Pick the wrong caliber of lunch or dinner and it’s a worse gamble than keno.
You’re going to be up a long time — if you’re drinking, stick with something that keeps you in control of your own destiny.
You’re in it for the long haul; drink what you know you can handle out there. That may be beer for some, or maybe a bourbon and ginger ale for someone else. Don’t start ordering Fireball shots the second you hit the club or casino or you’ll be ralphing into Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat while an Austrian tourist live-tweets your argument with Gucci Mane on a cardboard stand-up advertising “Spend New Year’s with Pitbull and Friends.” Your friends are going to be having a good time; they WON’T be coming for you. You’re on your own, drinking-wise.
There’s no place better than Vegas. Just be wary of Caribbean Stud (the ante is more involved than it appears), don’t bother with free tickets from vacation property salespersons (“Anthony McCool’s Comedy Hypnosis” isn’t worth a three hour hard-sell for Best Western Resort Clubs), insure your pass line bet if you’re shooting craps (it’s the only way you’re gonna make any money) and if you see all the cash I left last time I was there, send some back to me. Go Cats.
As all good UK fans know, every year during the University of Kentucky’s winter break, the men’s basketball team participates in “Camp Cal.” For the camp’s entire duration, John Calipari takes advantage of a lack of NCAA practice restrictions to mold his team into the focused collective he knows he’ll need come March. But that’s not all he does.
Until now, the true ins-and-outs of Camp Cal have been something of a mystery, but KSR has obtained an email sent by the coaching staff to players that reveals exactly what the team goes through over the course of the average day at Camp Cal. After reading it, you’ll no doubt have an even greater appreciation for what the Cats and this staff put themselves through in the interest of team unity and success.
“Camp Cal” begins this week. Please take note of the schedule below. Feel free to come to us with any questions you may have.
Notice: ALL activities are mandatory. The coaching staff expects each player to be ON TIME to each session. Also, remember that you are to remain within sight of your camp buddy AT ALL TIMES. Campers in violation of the buddy policy will be forced to call home and explain why they can’t follow the rules.
BREAKFAST (6:00 AM – 6:30 AM)
Whole wheat toast
Contractually obligated Purnell’s Old Folks’ Country Sausage
Juice of choice
Dunkin’ Donuts (coaching staff only)
INDIVIDUAL WORKOUTS (6:30 AM – 8:30 AM)
Campers will spend significant time working with the staff to improve their individual skill sets. Determinations for individual drills will be determined by an extensive evaluation of each camper’s game film. Examples of drills include sealing defenders on post passes (for campers 6’7” or taller), pick-and-roll decision making (all campers), and making as many threes as possible while the staff pipes in screams of “SHOOOOOOT!” at 110 db (human victory cigars).
Again, nutrition is vital, and after individual workouts, campers will refuel. Choices include Gatorade energy chews, trail mix, Goldfish crackers, and two flavors of Capri-Sun.
ARTS & CRAFTS TIME
Basketball isn’t just a physical test; it’s also a mental test. It’s critical that our campers are able to explore their creative instincts. Campers will be free to paint, draw, or sculpt a project that reveals the inner workings of their young minds (as long as none of those designs ends up as a tattoo on Brad Calipari). BONUS — students will be treated to an engaging tutorial from former camper and winner of three consecutive Camp Cal Best Art and/or Craft Award, Willie Cauley-Stein. Campers can also see the work of former Wildcats, including the 200 versions of James Young’s personal logo that he made when he probably should have been practicing passing (like, even the really simple passes that you’d think a D-I basketball player couldn’t possibly screw up).
As with Individual Drills, Team Drills will be determined by the evaluation of game tape. They may include a focus on throwing lob passes, putting teammates in the best position to make an open shot, and an old gem we like to call “for the love of everything good and holy, please, would somebody besides Bam just grab a &@%$ing rebound.”
Grilled Chicken Breast (Sacha, please stop giggling every time you see the word “breast” written on the board in the dining hall)
Pasta Options, incl. Spaghetti and Anfernee “Penne” Hardaway
Sweet Potato Fries
Full-court, five-on-five scrimmage, played with a running clock except during Cal’s teaching moments*. If Cal blows the whistle, everybody stops and listens carefully until he blows the whistle again, then the game will continue.
*Note: the staff IS aware that Cal’s “teaching moments” can go on for, um, extended amounts of time. Therefore, Cal’s speech will ALSO occur with a running clock. If the buzzer sounds before Cal is finished talking, a member of the staff will politely take him by the elbow and lead him off the court, like he’s an old man who came into the kitchen to get something, but can’t remember what.
Before dinner, campers should take some time to relax and recover. Feel free to play video games and spend time on your phones. The staff definitely won’t be keeping a close eye on the entire team to see who fritters away their valuable practice time trying to get the hair on their 2K17 created player just right. In no way will those campers who spend their afternoons on Snapchat instead of getting up extra shots (coughIsaiahcough) and hitting the weight room (Oh, hi Wenyen) be targeted for a constant stream of brutal criticism and stair-running at practice the next day. So get out there and have some fun, campers!
Camper’s choice of steak or chicken
Steamed broccoli (Kentucky Proud)
Ice cream (provided by Graeter’s, unless one of the campers has a special talent they’re neglecting to tell us about)
Nothing shows our campers’ commitment like lifting weights at the end of a long, grueling day of intense workouts and camp-wide sing-a-longs (thanks to Isaac for volunteering to be our accompanist again this year, and yes, Bam, we got your note — you can sing one Katy Perry song, but that’s it, ok). Campers will chart their reps and weights so that they can see proof of their improvement. The camper with the greatest improvement at the end of the week will get a special merit badge (checkerboard pattern, of course)!
Reminder: Please remember to remove all friendship bracelets before lifting weights. Safety first!
At Camp Cal, we want our campers to have fun. In fact, we feel like they should be having more fun than any campers in the whole country. But it’s hard to have fun without observing proper sleep habits. Yes, #TeamNoSleep was a funny hashtag, but sleep loss is no laughing matter. After 11:00 PM, the answer to the question, “Who up?” should be “Nobody,” unless it’s super early and you’re doing one of those MKG things (please, please do one of those MKG things).
WILDERNESS TREK (Team-building exercise; one night only)
To build team unity, campers will spend one night of Camp Cal roughing it in the Arboretum across from Commonwealth Stadium. Activities may include:
- Archery lessons (with special video tutorial from Jamal Murray)
- Building a fire from scratch (Tai, please remember that you are NOT permitted to cut down the trees in the Arboretum)
- Trust falls (don’t worry, we’ve implemented new safety precautions in light of the incident with Tyler and Isaac last year)
- King of the Hill (A reminder from Coach Payne: if you come at the king, you best not miss)
Thanks, campers! We can’t wait to get started.
The Coaching Staff
By Nick Roush on ©December 14th, 2016 @ 6:45pm
Did that just happen? Did we have another great episode to discuss? Thankfully we do. “Hearts Still Beating” is definitely the second best episode this season. We couldn’t possibly write down everything that is discussed this week, however here is just a sample of the menu:
– Negan and his new crown as best bad guy on TV.
– Spencer and his horrible plan.
– Rick and Aaron go out fishing for walkers.
– What’s going to happen in the second half of the season.
By Megan Suttles on ©December 14th, 2016 @ 9:00am
Recently, I came across what might be the greatest calendar ever printed. Martha Stewart’s monthly calendar is a goldmine of pretentiousness. For each of her issues of Martha Stewart’s Living, she creates a calendar that is designed to share “gentle reminders, helpful tips and important dates.” In reality, her calendar is made of humble brags, snobby assertions and dates that matter only to her. Her calendar includes things like “Collect newspapers and pine cones for kindling,” “Friend Jane Heller’s Birthday” and “Go for a horseback ride.” Her calendar also includes her workout schedule. The calendar is painfully specific. It is amazing that Stewart finds this news to print. I can’t judge because I find it appointment magazine reading. This week, I will outline what us common folk are actually doing during the month of December. Hopefully there will be less mentions of kindling and doing activities with Jude and Truman.
December 1:Contemplate getting a real tree this year
December 2: Be prepared! Buy extra tape for wrapping presents!
December 3: Find 12 other rolls of tape in your wrapping stash
December 4: Put up a fake tree like a chump
December 5: Pin Christmas recipes that you will never, ever make. Like this….
December 6: Pop popcorn for the garland for the tree. Eat said popcorn instead.
December 7: Begin hoping for snow days!
December 8: Realize you’ll never be warm again till April
December 9: Feel like a boss when you actually make a bag out of wrapping paper.
December 10: Watch a Hallmark movie
December 11: Consider writing your own Hallmark movie
December 12: Drive around and look at/judge other people’s Christmas lights
December 13: Listen to “Santa Baby”
December 14: Go ice skating
December 15: Vow never to go ice skating again!
December 16: Finally get “Santa Baby” out of your head
December 17: Like all of your friends’ Elf on a Shelf posts
December 18: Reach the tipping point of enjoyment for all of the Elf on a Shelf posts
December 19: Mail out all of your Christmas cards with the hope that they arrive there on time!
December 20: Plan a table setting that will never come to fruition
December 21: Buy last minute gift cards
December 22: Forget to pack your toothbrush for your trip home for the holidays
December 23: Forget your old roommate’s birthday, even though you try really hard to remember it
December 24: Hit the nog. Hard.
December 25: Get a maximum of 2,000 fitbit steps as you celebrate with friends and family!
December 26: Consider taking a shower
December 27: Actually take a shower
December 28: Go on a Christmas movie release day binge
December 29: Begrudgingly take down the tree
December 30: Reflect on all the joys of 2016
December 31: Pin all of the fitness posts on pinterest that you will never do.
Even though my calendar is less pretentious than Martha Stewart’s, it is definitely a blueprint to a merry Christmas and a happy new year.
The Walking Dead Recap is written by guest features writer Brad Morris.
Hot dog, hot dog, hot diggity dog. After a roller coaster season of ups and downs, we were once again rewarded with an astounding episode. TWD was able to show every single major storyline and have them come together in a staggering manor. I’ve tried to focus on nothing but the characters while reviewing TWD for you out there in TV land, and last nights “Hearts Still Beating” could be my greatest challenge yet. So many people, so little time. I’ve got the guts to do it, so let’s press ahead, knife at the ready.
We’ve not seen much of our samurai this first half of the season, and this episode wrapped up her small story arc into a nice, pretty bow. Basically Michonne was finding her way in this new world with the Saviors and discovering a way to fight them. She was shown just how large a force the Saviors can be, and this made her realize she couldn’t do this alone, but only with her family. A return to Rick’s arms felt like the right end to this little side trip for Michonne.
I think it’s safe to say that we know that Daryl was helped in his escape by Jesus, with a key to his cell and not breaking bread with him. After a new set of clothes, and some finger licking good peanut butter, Daryl finds his home built motorcycle and manages his escape, with a massive beat down of Fat Joey in the process. We’ve seen Negan and Dwight try to break Daryl down with dog food sandwiches and horrible, mind numbing music, but Daryl never broke. And he’s a survivor in all sense of the word. A Hilltop reunion with other members of the group has brought him back into the mix and at just the right time. He even brought Rick a “sorry I’ve missed you bro” present.
TWD seems to have stumbled upon the old Terminator 2 wardrobe. This week Maggie got Linda Hamilton’s uniform from the great early 90’s movie, and it definitely suits her. A quick tête-à-tête with Gregory at the beginning shows her waiting for someone on the walls of the Hilltop. Later of course, she’s rewarded with Jesus and Daryl making it there in time for dinner. Maggie is set up to be the new leader at the Hilltop, and the people there appear to be all for it.
Unfortunately for Spencer, this is his last appearance with us, as Negan decided to see if he had any guts. Turns out Spencer did have them, but spilled out on the ground now. Walker Spencer was dispatched by Rick, which leaves no one from the original leadership at Alexandria. Not happy to see many characters leave from the show, however we’ll make an exception for you dear Spencer. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.
Eugene and Rosita
This was a rough one for both of these heroes. After Rosita’s shot hit Lucille, she gets some unwanted plastic surgery. This also leads to the death of Olivia, and the capture of Eugene for his bullet making prowess. Eugene appears to be barely hanging on. Let’s hope he has an affinity for Alpo and a love for being on Easy St.
Carol, Morgan, and Richard
We’re treated to a meeting of the minds at the Kingdom, or at least on the Kingdoms front lawn. Richard comes across as very strong, determined, and concerned about the Saviors. Because he’s dealt with them during food runs, he’s no dummy, believing sooner rather than later, the Saviors will take the Kingdom down. Richard begs Carol and Morgan to help him in this endeavor. Due to past questions with their own conflicts, Carol and Morgan reject this idea rather quickly. I think some visitors in the near future will convince them otherwise.
I could go on and on about every single character from “Hearts Still Beating”. A A Ron had it rough, but survives on. Gregory continues to be a dick, but his time is short. Carl stared out of his good eye in horror a lot. Father Gabriel attempted to convince Rosita to not kill Negan. Sasha and Enid want what’s best for Maggie. Jesus just wants to help bring people together. However, we must end with the two big guys.
Once again, Negan just being Negan. Threatening. Menacing. Theatrical. Smooth. And pretty damn sadistic. While last week was his true awakening, this week Negan firmly supplants himself as arguably the best villain on TV today. Even more so than Stefano, R.I.P. The only flaw I’m sensing is the bravado may come back to haunt him. He’s so full of himself and his Saviors numbers, Negan may never see the resistance coming. Appears to be a great cook too. Great work again by JDM.
Speaking of guts, Rick gets his back. After a few weeks of dealing with the aftermath of Glen and Abrahams deaths, losing Eugene, and seeing Negan’s boot on top his people’s throats, Rick is finally ready to fight. Rick was broken. Rick was beaten. But thanks to Negan, it appears the Sheriff is back in town. Reunited with Daryl was the highlight of the episode, and he even got his Colt Python back.
Whew! That was tough. There’s so much more to discuss. And this will be on the mid season podcast. Who is the mystery person following Rick and A A Ron? What’s up with Richards RV in the woods? Will Ezekiel rally his people for the greater good? Every question we will attempt to answer. Such an up and down season has reached its halfway point, but to end it with our heroes back together, ready to fight, was the perfect note to end on. The Walking Dead returns on February 12th, and we’ll be ready. Until then, Ta Ta…
Sometimes all it takes is just a couple of notes, other times it’s well into the hook of the song that causes me to experience déjà vu. I’m not alone. There are an overabundance of earworms that are lodged in our brains, that are forever connected to a specific moment or scene in a movie—so much so, that when we hear them, we immediately begin playing the entire sequence back in our minds. It’s an effective form of storytelling that directors and musical supervisors employ. However, there are some song/scene combinations that are able to exist apart from one another—meaning you still enjoy the song, because it doesn’t have that strong of a connection, while others have been ruined altogether. Today, I give you what I consider to be the most memorable examples of this phenomenon.
Obviously, no director is more brilliant in crafting unforgettable song/scene moments than Quentin Tarantino—so he’s out. Also excluded—English director, Guy Richie, who I consider to be a poor-man’s Tarantino. Despite this, the additional criteria is actually quite simple, the song couldn’t have been created as part of the film’s original soundtrack and also the song had to exist prior to the movie’s release.
Arguably the most timeless example was the use of Bob Seger’s Old Time Rock and Roll in 1983’s Risky Business. The song underscores the scene in which a young, scantily-clad, sunglass-wearing Tom Cruise lip-syncs the lyrics as he dances and writhes around in his parents’ living room. While the pairing remains an iconic moment in popular culture, it unfortunately forever rendered the song unlistenable—due to the fact that you now have a pantless Tom Cruise forever seared into your consciousness.
Another case in point. Honestly, how many of you Gen Xer’s were inspired by the scene in 1989’s Say Anything… to woo back your girlfriend or feigning love interest by standing outside her bedroom window, holding a boombox high above your head, and reminding her about that awkward night you slept together while blasting Peter Gabriel’s 1986 single In Your Eyes for all the neighborhood to hear. Now raise your hands, did it work? That’s what I thought.
However, not all the entries are that extreme. Take Little Richard’s 1956’s Long Tall Sally which was deployed in 1987’s Predator for example. The tune serves either as background noise or hype-music for Schwarzenegger and his group of mercenaries en route to their jungle drop zone. Hearing the music, we see the team bathed in the red-interior lights of their helicopter, yet, as Richard’s brash vocals belt out the hook “we gonna have some fun tonight…” audiences are left to wonder if the song is meant as a battle-cry for the unsuspecting commandoes or the otherworldly monster that awaits them.
Growing up, I was a huge fan of Queen. I had it all—posters, t-shirts, VHS recordings of live shows, albums, cassette tapes, CDs—you name it. I consider them one of the greatest bands—in terms of music and showmanship—ever assembled. While my stance may be disharmonious to your musical sensibilities, you know that when their sprawling, six-minute 1975 hit, Bohemian Rhapsody comes on the radio in your car, you simply cannot resist singing along. Don’t be ashamed, everyone does it, and no other movie has captured this cultural phenomenon better than 1992’s Wayne’s World.
Funny thing, every time I stop to fill up my car and I see how low gas prices are these days, I have to fight the temptation to engage in some playful get-to-know-you game with the other refuelers’ whereby we spray each other with extremely flammable gasoline while blasting Wham’s 1984’s buoyant hit, Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go. Wonder where I got such a crazy idea? Um, the 2001 film Zoolander of course. Continuing with the theme of tragic car scenes underpinned by memorable music, there’s three more that come to mind. First of all, there’s Jim Gordon’s piano coda from Derek and the Dominos, 1971 blues track Layla to underscore the violent, callous and self-serving nature of post-heist Jimmy in the 1990 crime film, Goodfellas. Or who could forget the moment in 1986’s Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, when Ferris convinces his best friend Cameron into using his father’s most-prized possession—a limited edition, red 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California—to pick up Sloane, while the 1985 song Oh Yeah by the Swiss avant-garde Electro-pop group Yello, frames the entire scene. I agree Ferris, “a man with priorities so out of whack doesn’t deserve such a fine automobile”. Lastly, the unfortunate effects of a driving while impaired and distracted are realized when The Dude—high and gripped with paranoia, thinking he’s being followed—totals his car, while jamming to C.C.R.’s Lookin’ out My Back Door in the 1998 cult classic The Big Lebowski.
Aging has a way of humbling you. Sometimes when I go on UK’s campus, which is barely recognizable to someone who graduated nearly twenty years ago—at least I believe I graduated—I feel like teaching a class in the ways of old-school hard-partying, no studying, still passing, college life to these young millennial know-it-alls. Yet every time I get the urge to make a scene, I’m reminded of how well that worked for Adam Sandler in the 1995 film Billy Madison. Whenever I hear Billy Squier’s 1981 track The Stroke, I realize, my arrival will be just as well received. (Note to self: don’t even think about popping your collar.) Additionally, any time some nobody, acquaintance, or bully from high school tracks me down and sends me a friend request on Facebook, my opinion of them softens somewhat as I scroll through their miserable life, and the urge to seek vengeance wanes. I simply, cross their name off my kill list, put on my lipstick, and go to my happy place just like Steve Buscemi did, while E.L.O.’s 1977 song Telephone Line plays softly in the background.
Not every song/scene combination is remembered fondly, some visual ear-worms are downright cringe-worthy. Whether you’re a fan of bluegrass music or not, nothing should send waves of sheer panic and terror down your spine more than the first licks of the 1955 instrumental Dueling Banjos, which was made popular in the 1972 thriller, Deliverance. Poor Ned Beatty. Likewise, anytime my ears hear even the faintest haunting melody of Q Lazzarus’ 1988 song Goodbye Horses, I pinch myself to ensure I’m not hallucinating from starvation, trapped in a freaking pit, while my abductor shucks, tucks and plays dress up, above me, like the girl in 1991’s The Silence of the Lambs. Then there’s Leonard Cohen’s 1984 spiritually rapturing, Hallelujah, which will forever be synonymous with superheroes banging on a owl-shaped flying thingy as seen in the 2009 film Watchmen. Additionally, as if the 1964 song The Crying Game, made popular by Boy George thirty years later, isn’t wincing enough, it’s used so skillfully during the turning point of the 1994 film Ace Ventura: Pet Detective—anytime anyone hears it, they mumble, “Finkle is Einhorn…Einhorn is Finkle”. And no matter how hard you try to repress your memories of that scene, the sight of Jim Carrey cowering naked in a shower is something you can never unsee. Finally, after seeing Stanley Kubrick’s 1971 futuristic eye-opening masterpiece, A Clockwork Orange, the whimsically and consummately choreographed song Singing in the Rain—taken from the 1952 movie of the same name, took on a much darker persona.
In this Christmas season, it’s hard to escape all the cheerful holiday songs on MixMas, but it’s not a swell time from my vantage point because anytime I hear Bobby Helms’ 1957 rockabilly classic Jingle Bell Rock I’m reminded that a beautiful, coked out girl jumped to her death in the intro of 1987’s Lethal Weapon. However, it’s not all bad, the holiday’s are abundantly filled with sentimental nostalgia, like the scene in 1989’s National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation where Clark Griswald is trapped both emotionally and literally in his own attic. As Clark reminisces over his own forgotten childhood memories of Holidays past, he’s reminded too of the season’s fleeting nature, while Ray Charles’ 1985 standard, The Spirit of Christmas further emphasizes the point home.
Finally, there’s Iggy Pop’s 1977 heart-pounding track Lust for Life which is used to usher in the 1996 film Trainspotting. As Renton, a heroin addict played by Ewan McGregor, attempts to evade capture, he delivers a deeply personal and ambivalent monologue about life alternatives which is still relevant today. “Choose a job. Choose a family. Choose a big television. Choose a washing machine, a car, a disc player” and for God’s sake, choose another ******* song—this scene’s taken!
Now that I’ve given you my picks, what are your most unforgettable scene/song pairings?
It’s the most wonderful time of the year and there’s no better way to get into the holiday spirit than by watching your favorite Christmas flick. There are so many to choose from, you can’t watch them all. Let this be your guide to the best of the best to watch before December 26.
15. Jingle All the Way
What’s Christmas without Schwarzenegger? When searching for Hatchimals over the next month, don’t be ashamed when you can’t find one. After all, Arnold needed an entire film to find a Turbo Man.
14. Bad Santa
Why they made a sequel, I will never know. The first one isn’t that good, but Billy Bob Thornton pulls it off. I don’t think anyone else could.
13. Ernest Saves Christmas
Of all the things Lexington-native Jim Varney did, Saving Christmas was the most important.
12. A Charlie Brown Christmas
An obligatory addition, although I’ll admit, I can’t remember anything about this Charlie Brown special. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen it, but apparently it’s the best, that’s why I have to watch it before Christmas.
11. The Polar Express
I still marvel at the technology they used to create this artistic masterpiece. It’s not something that can work on many different types of films, but it works perfect in this one. I didn’t know how they could make a movie out of the classic book, but they did a wonderful job. And if Tom Hanks is in it, it’s going to be good. This one is great (now I’m wondering why I’m keeping it outside of the top ten).
10. White Christmas
This placement is for our older audience. The two classics are White Christmas and It’s a Wonderful Life. Bing Crosby wins this competition every time.
9. Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town
There are about a dozen claymation Christmas specials. Before they modernized, the claymations were the foundation of ABC Family’s Month of Christmas. I watched and loved them all. In hindsight, some are pretty ridiculous, but Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town still holds up thanks to those stinking Burgermeisters and the wonderful voice over work by Mickey Rooney.
Each week KSR’s Funkhouser collects the best of pop culture. The Entertation Index collects the best of the week for your consumption.
Apprentice, Celebrity — NBC and Variety have confirmed that the new season of Celebrity Apprentice, which begins on January 2 and will be helmed by actor Arnold Schwarzenegger in place of its former host, President-elect Donald Trump, will continue to be produced by Trump even as he takes the highest office in the country. The winner, as always, will receive a large cash prize to be donated to the charity of his or her choosing while the sixth-place finisher has to be Secretary of State.
Link: Trump Will Remain EP on Celebrity Apprentice
California, Hotel — Rolling Stone ran an article this week featuring “10 Things You Didn’t Know About Hotel California,” which purports the original name of the song (“Mexican Reggae”), an argument with Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull surrounding the tune and the arguments over the melody between Henley and Joe Walsh during the recording. If you didn’t know these things, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to discover them. If you did know all of these things, there is a 100% chance you still have a ponytail.
Link: The Eagles Hotel California – 10 Things You Didn’t Know
Carey, Mariah — You may or may not believe this but, according to Billboard Magazine, Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” is the most downloaded Christmas song ever at 3.2 million downloads, double its closest competitor. Although to be fair, its closest competitor is “Oh Holy Night (feat. Extra Mouth Drums and Beating on our Chests)” by Pentatonix.
Link: Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You” Is the Most Downloaded Holiday Song Ever
Chyna, Blac –– Even though she’s married to their brother Rob, Kardashian sisters Khloe, Kim and Kourtney have, according to TMZ, banded together to bar the hip-hop video star from trading on the Kardashian name in fears she’ll damage their reputation. “We are all perfectly capable of doing that ourselves, thank you very much,” an official statement from the siblings read. BAM! Old-joke vaudeville zing!
Link: Kim, Khloe & Kourtney Crush Blac Chyna’s Biz Dreams
Reinhold, Judge — Beverly Hills Cop and Fast Times at Ridgemont High-starring eighties icon was detained for disorderly conduct at a Dallas airport after “causing a disturbance” on Thursday. Authorities failed to believe Reinhold’s far-fetched story that Fred Savage is the real culprit as the two remain the subject of a bizarre thirty year-old body-switching plot. On the plus side, contrary to what Reinhold’s agent told him, he can get arrested in this town! Way to go, buddy!
Link: Judge Reinhold Arrested at Dallas Airport
Season Finale, Westworld — If you’re like me, you enjoyed HBO’s Westworld. Also, if you’re like me, it wrapped your brain around itself in parts and even after a whopper of a season finale you still had a few nagging questions. So here’s a good spoiler-full debriefing of the show’s season one ender. Discuss.
Link: The Biggest Westworld Questions Heading into Season 2
Vegas Girl Walk — As Matt, Drew and company embark on their cross-country journey culminating in Sin City next weekend for the UK-UNC game, this seems like the perfect time to reference rapper Lil’ PP’s stellar hip-hop track “Vegas Girl Walk.” Enjoy. And see you next week.
There are a couple of lines in the first episode of FX’s Atlanta that sound for all the world like they’re more about the dude who wrote, produced, and starred in the show than they are about what’s happening onscreen at the moments they’re delivered.
The first is spoken after Earnest (a name which can’t possibly be an accident) proposes a business arrangement with his up-and-coming rapper cousin Alfred (aka Paperboi). Alfred has serious doubts about his cousin’s potential as a manager, and he pays a visit to Earn’s father, hoping to validate his suspicions. But after a few minutes of giving him a hard time, Earnest’s dad says of his son, “When he decides he’s gonna do something, he does it.” On the one hand, this would be kind of an arrogant thing to write about yourself, but on the other hand it describes Donald Glover more or less perfectly, so it’s tough to find fault with the guy for tooting his own horn.
The second line comes from Alfred after he’s heard his underground single (also called “Paperboi”) on Atlanta’s premiere hip-hop station. He cuts the volume on his car stereo and says, “I kind of hate this song.” The sentiment is one that tons of artists eventually express once the thing that brought them initial success loses its novelty and becomes an embarrassing artifact.
It feels like Donald Glover has been saying “I kind of hate this song” since his career got started, growing bored of one thing at just about the time the general public picks up on it and jumping to the next before the first thing has a chance to define him. He’s been doing just that for years.
He started out performing standup and in improv groups, then became a writer for 30 Rock, but the first time most of us noticed Glover, he was playing Troy, an insecure former jock, on NBC’s Community. Along with Danny Pudi (Abed), he was the best part of that show by about a half-mile. It looked like Glover was well on his way toward establishing himself as a comedic force. But then he left the show after releasing a couple of hip-hop albums under the name Childish Gambino, and warning bells went off in my head.
Like an idiot, I assumed that Glover didn’t know where his bread was buttered, and that, like a fair few people who’d tried to put a bunch of slashes on their business cards only to embarrass themselves (if you look to your left, you’ll see Shaquille O’ Neal, and coming up on your right is basically every reality TV star who’s ever written a book or recorded an album), he was making a mistake by not sticking to what he’d done so well on Community. Glover’s work as a rapper generated praise but few raves, and after a series of revealing (and in some cases legitimately worrisome) social media posts made people wonder if he was suffering from depression, it looked like his career might stall out altogether.
Thankfully, that did not happen, and it soon became clear that any concerns about Glover’s ability to switch between disciplines were severely misplaced. He turned in a couple of solid acting performances in major studio movies (The Martian and Magic Mike XXL), created Atlanta, got cast as Lando freakin’ Calrissian in a future Star Wars movie, and made a new Childish Gambino record.
In other words, he’s been killing it. Atlanta makes it obvious that, even as the best part of a critically beloved network comedy, Glover’s gifts as a writer and comedian were being wasted. And speaking of those gifts, let’s not forget his musical talent, because the new Gambino album is AMAZING. It’s not just that it’s really good, it’s that the experience of listening to it is actually jarring. It never makes a move that feels safe. During my first listen, I probably thought, ‘Ok, NOW I know what this album sounds like’ half a dozen times, and I was wrong every time. It’s not even a hip-hop record. It’s a bluesy, psychedelic, soul-funk opus, and I can’t believe the dude who fought a fake civil war as the leader of the blanket fort army on Community made it.
But he did. And if his career to this point is any indication, it won’t be the last time Donald Glover surprises people.