KSR’s take on recent non sports related happenings
We are less than 24 hours removed from WWE’s last pay-per-view of 2017, Smackdown’s Clash of Champions. Going in, I believe everybody had extremely low expectations for this PPV, as it just seemed to be a filler show before the Royal Rumble. But the blue brand actually came through and put on a pretty solid PPV. From great story work, solid opening and closing matches, and a possible retirement, Clash of Champions over achieved. Here is a recap of last night’s PPV.
US Championship Match: Baron Corbin (c) vs Bobby Roode vs Dolph Ziggler
This match was a great opener for the show as it was able to draw the audience in for a PPV that had low expectations in the first place. Even earning a “this is awesome chant” the match was fast pace and a false finish galore, from Bobby Roode kicking out of Baron Corbin’s deep six, or Bobby kicking out of Dolph Ziggler’s DDT. It felt like the glorious Bobby Roode was going to win his first title on WWE’s main roster. But WWE pulled a major surprise and gave the title to the man with no gimmick, Dolph Ziggler, as Ziggler hit a beautiful Zig Zag while Baron was trying to hit End of Days on Roode. This is kind of a head scratcher because many people believe he will leave the company in 2018. Maybe one last title push? Grade: B+
Fatal 4-way Tag Team Championship Match: The Uso’s (c) vs The New Day vs Rusev and Aiden English vs Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin
I thought this match was going to be a mess from the beginning and we would just see the Uso’s and New Day once again steal the tag team spotlight, to further solidify they are two of the best tag teams in all of wrestling right now. But we got a pleasant surprise as they made Rusev and English look strong, along with a good performance from Chad Gable. It was apparent from the entrances of the match how over Rusev is to the WWE crowd, so it was nice to see WWE give him a little momentum during this match. It seemed like all four teams played an equal part in the match and it even looked the Rusev and English or Gable and Benjamin was going to win the tag titles. But the New Day was able to get the jo done once again to walk out of Boston Smackdown’s Tag Team Champions. This run the Uso’s have been on this year has been nothing short of phenomenal and it is easily their best work in the company. They are so fun to watch. Grade: B+
Women’s Lumberjack Match for the WWE Women’s Championship: Charlotte Flair (c) vs Natalya
This was easily going to be the least entertaining match of the night, only for the fact everyone already knew the outcome as Charlotte made Natalya tap in the middle of the ring to retain. The only story work that could’ve came from this match would have been the Riott squad destroying everybody involved in that match, and we didn’t even get that. The most entertaining part of the match was when Carmella almost cashed in her Money in the Bank during the match, only to have it squandered by the lumberjacks. After the match, Natalya cut a promo that many would be considered a hell turn. Talking to the WWE audience she said, “I’m turning my back on you”, but considering she is already a heel, this has me questioning her future in the WWE as she could possibly be turning her back and walking away? Either way, just keep her out of the title picture please. Grade: D-
The Bludgeon Brothers vs Breezango
There’s not much to say about this match, it was a squash. Bludgeon brothers made lightwork of Breezango to further solidify Harper and Rowan are in the best shape of their lives. Moving on. Grade: F
Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn vs Randy Orton and Shinsuke Nakamura with Special Guest Referees Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon
If Owens and Zayn would have lost they would have been fired from WWE. This match was more about story work and less about wrestling. With that said there were some cool spots, such as Kevin Owens performing a frog splash onto a table and roll up sequence which had Shane and Bryan alternating counts. The best part of the match was Daniel Bryan as he may have played the biggest role. There have been many rumors circulating that he may leave the WWE if they don’t let him wrestle anytime soon, and boy did they tease him wrestling again. From the stare down with Randy Orton, to the shoving match with Shane, we may see Daniel Bryan in the ring again. Daniel Bryan would end up dishing out a quick 1-2-3 on a Sami Zayn roll up to let Kevin and Sami keep their jobs. The biggest question is, was this Daniel Bryan’s heel turn? Grade: B+
WWE Championship Match: AJ Styles (c) vs Jinder Mahal
The main event saw the phenomenal AJ Styles take on The Modern-Day Maharaja and KSR’s favorite wrestler, Jinder Mahal, battle for WWE’s most coveted prize. Many people thought this would be Jinder’s swan song in the main event picture and in a sense, it was as AJ Styles made him tap with the calf crusher, but WWE did a really good job of keeping Jinder relevant in the match. This match was booked almost like the Brock Lesnar AJ Styles match at Survivor Series as Jinder used his physical advantage to dominate early. Only for AJ to use his athleticism to win the match and retain as champion. It is safe to say Jinder won’t be in the title picture anytime soon, but what started off as a terrible push, we have seen Jinder improve immensely to show he belongs in the WWE. Grade: A-
In Episode 4, the Twitter beef of the century is finally settled, as Aaron Torres welcomes former American Idol winner Taylor Hicks to the show. But before Hicks joins, Aaron welcomes his buddy Nick Coffey to discuss the topics of the day, like…
— The Ball brothers trip to Lithuania.
— How Rick Pitino and Tom Jurich blocked the NBA to Louisville.
— Why Star Wars fans are the worst.
— Hicks explains why he was so upset with Aaron’s comments about Collin Sexton.
— Hicks shares the advice he received from Nick Saban.
— What Hicks’ life has been like post-American Idol, and it involves living in Alaska.
You can easily listen on the KSR App, available on iTunes and Google Play. Streaming online is simple through Pod Paradise. You can also get it directly to your phone by subscribing to the “Aaron Torres Sports Podcast” feed on iTunes or via Android’s Podcast Addict app.
In most cases, people do their best to avoid the sensation of inescapable, all-encompassing dread. This makes sense, of course, since there are few thing worse than being entirely unsure what is going to happen, but being certain that, whatever it is, it’s going to be horrible.
I remember exactly when I was first made to feel this way by a piece of media:
This scene, from The Silence of the Lambs, achieves its tension through a brilliant bit of deception. When Buffalo Bill answers the door, we’re led to believe that he’ll be met by the full force of the FBI. Then, thanks to some clever editing, the rug gets ripped out from under us. Clarice is alone, the FBI isn’t coming, and Bill has a serious home-field advantage. Watching Clarice fumble around in the dark while Bill watches through his night-vision goggles is like watching from a helicopter while a shark circles a solitary swimmer. Every second is soaked in tension. It’s almost unbearable, and then — poof (or, in this case, bang) — it’s over. The relief that floods viewers in this moment is the payoff that, in retrospect, makes the dread entirely worth it. It’s like when a comedian brings a long joke home with a perfect punchline, except the inverse.
And it’s incredibly tough to pull off. When done poorly, viewers just feel exploited (oh, hi there The Walking Dead. I didn’t see you come in). If you’re going to make us suffer through that kind of soul-eating tension, it’s important to give us the satisfaction of a worthy conclusion.
The Silence of the Lambs (which, by the way, is now available on Criterion Collection Blu-Ray, if you know a movie buff in need of a holiday gift) occupied the top spot on my personal dread-inducing scoreboard (What, you don’t have a dreadboard? Weird.) until just a couple of years ago, when HBO’s True Detective — season one, obviously — stole the title.
That season of TV, which is on the shortlist of greatest seasons ever, is soaked in dread. For huge portions of its eight episodes, True Detective stretches that awful sensation that I first felt while watching The Silence of the Lambs to what I assume is the absolute limit that a viewer can endure.
It’s horrible. And amazing. My wife and I usually capped off episodes of True Detective with an hour’s worth of New Girl, just so we could sleep.
It amazed me at the time that a prestige drama, which HBO presumably wanted people to, you know, watch would go out of its way to make viewers so uncomfortable. But there’s nothing quite like letting a story push you to an emotional limit, only to reel you back in from the brink at exactly the right moment.
Which brings me to my current viewing obsession/exercise in psychic punishment: Big Little Lies.
Now, Big Little Lies (also from HBO) is not always as intense as True Detective, but it does an equally impressive job of keeping the viewer entirely unsettled as it slowly unspools the mystery at its core. The show, which begins with a murder (the first episode’s title is “Somebody’s Dead,” so I’m not spoiling anything), cuts between police interviews with secondary characters and the events leading up to the murder, almost all of which feature the big name actors at the center of the plot (Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Laura Dern, and Shailene Woodley). The fact of the murder makes every scene rife with tension because, as a viewer, you can’t help but look for clues that might help you figure out who gets killed and who does the killing. As the characters’ inner lives are exposed, it becomes easier and easier to imagine that any one of them could be guilty, and any one of them could be dead.
At the end of each episode, I find myself letting out a long breath as though I’ve been keeping it bottled up for the last hour.
I’m only three episodes in (out of seven), but I’m relishing every scene, fraught as they are. Every little argument between spouses, every pregnant pause, every meaningful look holds the potential for catastrophe. Just like with The Silence of the Lambs and True Detective, I don’t have any idea what’s going to happen, but I know it’s going to be terrible.
It’s literally, perfectly, dreadful.
By KSR on ©December 13th, 2017 @ 3:00pm
The Funkhouser Situation returns to wrap up Chris Tomlin and Lee Cruse’s Top 50 Comedies of All-Time Countdown. Did they forget yours in the first episode? Probably, but that just means they’ll be talking about it on this week’s episode. Highlights:
— They share their favorite Will Ferrell movies.
— Who is on the Mount Rushmore of comedy families.
— They try to explain how they chose the No. 1 comedy of all-time.
You can easily listen on the KSR App, available on iTunes and Google Play. Streaming online is simple through Pod Paradise. You can also get it directly to your phone by subscribing to “Kentucky Sports Radio” on iTunes or via Android’s Podcast Addict app.
By Megan Suttles on ©December 13th, 2017 @ 9:00am
2017 marks the silver anniversary for Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. The great milestone prompted the Plaza Hotel to offer a real life Kevin McAllister experience. Cane’s decided to deviate from selling delicious chicken fingers and sell a “Kevin Plush Puppy.” But more importantly, the anniversary has prompted many to re-watch the Christmastime favorite. What I’m saying is… it’s the most wonderful time of the year!
Like many movies, watching a movie with your 31-year-old eyes is way different than watching a movie with your 6-year-old eyes. Below are my adult observation for Home Alone 2: Lost in New York.
- This Evergreen Meme:
I’ve watched enough House Hunters to know that this house isn’t modestly priced. And even if the writers dared to give the McAllisters a profession that would attempt to pay this mortgage, I’m not sure if I’d find any believable. (That is except for founders of McAllister’s Deli.)
- Creepy Uncle Frank
While Uncle Frank provided Kevin with the “creepy little pervert” soundbite for his TalkBoy, the fact that he left the door open while showering is disturbing. As we have established, the large house is bursting at the seams with family members. Uncle Frank is too loose for my taste and frankly has potential to be a creepy little pervert as well.
- Kevin’s Fake Solo
At the Christmas recital, Kevin sings “Christmas Tree O Christmas Tree.” It’s a real banger. Now that my musical tastes have matured, it’s painful obvious that Macaulay Culkin is clearly not singing these words. His solo is fake news.
- Buzz’s Mildly Offensive Nicknames
Buzz is a tough older brother. We know this because he plays pranks on Kevin and peppers him with put-downs. In 2017, all of his nicknames for Kevin seem mildly offensive. I’m not sure what a “trout sniffer” is, but I’m almost positive it’s not appropriate.
- One Half of Pete & Pete
No matter how much you loved Nickelodeon’s The Adventures of Pete and Pete, the show isn’t sticky. It’s one of your favorites that is easy to forget. Luckily, Pete #1, Michael C. Maronna, plays a small part in Home Alone 2 to help you remember.
- Rare Cinematic Air
Unlike most sequels, Home Alone 2 is as good, if not better than the original. It is even hard to identify which memorable quotes go with which film. Which came first, “Merry Christmas Ya Filthy Animal” or “Buzz, your girlfriend….woof.”?
- Suspended Believably
There comes a point in the movie where you have to put all your skepticism aside. Yes, child protective services should have been called. No, Kevin wouldn’t have been allowed on a plane, even in a pre-9/11 world. But the thing that sticks out as the most disturbing are Kevin’s evil and maniacal booby-traps. There are nail guns and sand bags and fire! His mind was quick to process and execute extremely wicked and intricate machines designed to inflict pain.
- The History!
As of 2017, only one American President has appeared in the movie. Here’s to Michael C. Maronna in 2020!
Hello friends and fans of TWD. My oh my what a season so far, just not for the reasons we were excited about. Heading into All Out War there were subplots from the comic I was intrigued to watch unfold. Ezekiel’s fall into shame after losing his warriors and Shiva. Eugene’s tireless effort to make ammo for the good guys. The behind enemy lines activities of Dwight. What did we get? Well, we did get Ezekiel’s fall, which is well done. However, Eugene being with the Saviors I guess is a long term thing now. Dwight has done a couple of dubious things to help out Rick and the gang. To me this season has been very uneven from the start. Bad writing, music, and lighting aside, the show runners did take a risk in the mid-season finale that at least comes close to what I’ve been wanting from the show. To show viewers that no character is ever truly safe from being served up to the Walkers.
HEAVY SPOILERS AHEAD—–YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED
If you had told me before the season started that an original season charcter was going to die, or at least bit by a Walker that will lead to their death, Carl Grimes would’ve been last on the list. I’m being serious as a heart attack when I say this. Robert Kirkman’s plot points in the comic hint at Carl being a leader in the future of the book. I’d put Judith at greater risk of being Walker dinner before Coral. So why did the writers bite Carl in the ribs to take him out? Let us count the possible reasons then talk about the future of the show. As always, I assume you have watched or you wouldn’t be reading this so enter at your own risk.
Chandler Riggs Is Ready To Start His Life
This would be the most obvious answer. Chandler has been with the show over half his life. From the first time he showed up as a little kid running up to his Dad I felt this was the most teflon character in the apocalypse. For Hershel’s sake he gets shot in season 2, has to kill his mom in season 4, loses an eye in season 6, and personally invades the bad guys compound by himself in season 7. He may as well have been Neo in the Matrix. Rick suffers losses from time to time yet comes out ok in the end. Carl gets beat down every other season to the point he’d need therapy every day for the rest of life. However, kids grow up fast. I’ve seen it with my own offspring. One day you’re changing their diapers, the next they’re giving you a speech on the early American colonies. For the comic Carl has stayed young throughout it all, only now coming into his own as a middle teens man. For Chandler this isn’t the case. Life goes on. If this is the reason for Carl getting nipped in the ribs I give him kudos for wanting to move on with his life. However…..
The Writers Wanted Shock Value
I wrote earlier this season that one of the major problems with the show that is hard to get around is the amount of characters. So many plot lines, so little time. Looking at each other in the writing room to plan out season 8 had to be difficult. Do you appease the fans with a straight forward story or throw curveballs? Killing off a major charcter is the easiest way for viewers to stay engaged with the show, but which one has the most impact? I would argue they need to off even more for the show to remain relevant. Carol and Morgan are long gone in the book. Tara, Daryl, the Junkyard gang, and the Oceansiders don’t even exist. A cull of charcters may still be upon us in the second half of the season. The show runners may have simply pointed out that going forward without Carl may be the straw that breaks Rick’s back. To truly push him over the edge. If this is the case then bravo to their boldness.
Appeasing Kirkman’s Ideas
Hear me out on this one. Kirkman has stated on multiple occasions he wanted to do different things in the comics. He wished he hadn’t killed off Shane so quickly and changed Abraham’s death are just two he has spoken about. Maybe killing off Carl was another? For avid readers like myself Carl has reached a point in the comic that mirrors his story on the show. Simply put it is getting stale. When you don’t have much character growth to show you get bored, angry even. Case in point, Roush and T.J. anytime Sam comes on screen in Game of Thrones. It is the same with Carl for myself and Josh Juckett @banterjosh. Chandler was fine as a kid actor yet he didn’t age well. The long hair looks goofy. He has the acting chops of a vanilla wafer. Good luck to him in the future with whatever he decides to do I just hope it is as a director, producer, or even a key grip.
For those of us who are sticking with the show through thick and thin this has been a rough season. It has shown quite a bit more action which I can appreciate. The episodes have seemed as slow as previous seasons. The problem has been the smallest errors are being pushed to the forefront. Dialogue has been Star Wars prequels dry. Editing has been choppy. The close up shots of characters with moody music playing is groan worthy. I just hope they can find solid ground in the second half of the season. Maybe Carl’s death will have a major impact on the story lines. Negan himself should even be bummed out by this development. The show has never been perfect, although season 1 was pretty close. My hope for the future is they can unjump the shark. If not then Season 9 could be the swan song for the survivors of the Walker apocalypse. Until we reconvene in late Febuary I hope you have a Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year. Ta ta
After nearly 70 years of business, Kennedy’s Wildcat Den will close when the current UK semester ends.
According to general manager Carol Kennedy Behr, daughter of founder Joe Kennedy, “sales have gone down, down, down,” and the store just can’t keep up with online textbook and merchandise purchases any longer.
In an interview with Tom Eblen of the Herald-Leader, Behr said all remaining merchandise will be 40% until doors officially close.
Kennedy’s announced its closing in an email to customers Sunday night, just before final-exam week. Merchandise in the store except textbooks will be marked 40 percent off, Behr said. Rented books must be returned by Dec. 16 and gift cards used by Dec. 22, when the store’s doors close for good. Kennedy’s will continue selling fan merchandise online for a while at Wildcatden.com.
The University of Kentucky will be opening their new $175-million student center this Spring, where the official UK Bookstore will open up.
Eblen reports the most likely replacement for the lot Kennedy’s stands on now will be an expansion of the parking garage right next door.
UK had been trying to acquire the Kennedy’s property for years, Behr said. Plans for the site are unclear, although expansion of UK’s adjacent parking garage seems likely.
End of an era…
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, it isn’t Christmas season until you’ve watched Charlie Brown.
By the time I was wiping my tears away at the end of Coco, Pixar’s latest gift to the world of animated films, I was already considering where it might land in my personal Pixar movie rankings. For now, the list goes:
- Finding Nemo
- Inside Out
- Toy Story 3
I’m not sure if Coco will end up in my top 5, among these all-time greats, but it’s a testament to just how good the film is that I even have to ask the question. I’ll have to see it a couple more times to figure out exactly where it will end up, but after the disappointment of having to put up with another Cars movie this summer – and Finding Dory before that – I was thrilled to get an original story that lived up to the promise of Pixar’s legendary past. My enthusiasm was rewarded in full. Coco is funny, sweet, and perfectly plotted. Its every twist and turn feels both inevitable and surprising – the mark of a story well told. Oh, and it’s got some Up-level emotional heft to it, so bring the tissues.
Coco is, in other words, exactly the kind of movie that gave Pixar its reputation as the standard in animated film making. Unfortunately, it’s the kind of movie they make less and less frequently these days. More than half of the movies Pixar has released since 2010 are sequels, and there are more to come. The Incredibles 2 and Toy Story 4 will see release in 2018 and 2019, respectively. Of course, not all sequels are bad (some, like Toy Story 3, are fantastic), but Pixar has typically been at their best when introducing an entirely fresh concept to audiences.
I want to give Pixar the benefit of the doubt, since they’ve done so much great work, but it’s hard not to be cynical. Yes, you could argue that these sequels are bringing back to the screen beloved characters that audiences want to see more of and share with their children. The original Toy Story came out when I was nine, and watching my kids follow the exploits of Woody, Buzz, and the gang is pretty cool. But Cars 3? Was anybody above the age of 10 really clamoring for more Tow Mater? And no, Larry the Cable Guy doesn’t count.
Now, apparently, Pixar President Jim Morris has said that, beyond Toy Story 4, there are no current plans for more sequels, and that all the stories being developed at the moment are originals. I hope that’s true, although I’m not sure that Disney will be able to resist the prospect of all the merchandising money that a sequel guarantees.
I hope, of course, that I’m wrong, and that Pixar’s recent habit of sprinkling original stories in amongst sequels will give way to a period of entirely new tales that provide audiences the chance to see fresh characters, like Coco’s Miguel and Hector and Dante, who can become beloved favorites in the way that so many others have through the years, whether or not they’ve helped sell a few thousand more pieces of merchandise.
By KSR on ©December 06th, 2017 @ 5:00pm
Chris Tomlin and Lee Cruse love comedy so much, they could not pack their favorite 50 movies into just one episode of The Funkhouser Situation. In the first edition of a two-parter, they start the comedy countdown at No. 50 and touch on a few different topics along the way, like…
— Casual Lee Cruse namedrops.
— Where do the two agree and disagree?
— Chris shares a brilliant work of art.
— A few honorable mentions that failed to make the exclusive list.
— Does your favorite make the list?
You can easily listen on the KSR App, available on iTunes and Google Play. Streaming online is simple through Pod Paradise. You can also get it directly to your phone by subscribing to “Kentucky Sports Radio” on iTunes or via Android’s Podcast Addict app.
By Megan Suttles on ©December 06th, 2017 @ 9:00am
Amy Sherman Palladino is a pop culture magpie. In Gilmore Girls, she would collect little references to all those movies and songs that you forgot and laced them throughout Lorelai and Rory’s fast-paced conversations. In her newest adventure, Palladino could have potentially been at a disadvantage. In Amazon’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel a housewife stumbles into stand-up comedy and struggles to put her life back together. The challenge, however, is that the show is set in the 1950s. A decade with pop culture references that are staler than Cracker Jacks from the 1950s to the 2017 ear. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel overcomes this problem by creating the perfect loophole. The loophole: the show doesn’t rely on references like the Gilmores did. And yet, even though Mrs. Maisel doesn’t rely on pop culture reference, the show tends to remind me of many of my favorite things.
Ladies with Can Do Attitudes
Midge Maisel is spunky. Spunky is a descriptor that is applicable to very few women. For the dull, it’s sarcastic. For the assertive, it’s condescending. For ladies like Mary Tyler Moore and Midge, they are perfectly described with this adjective. Midge talks people into better show times with brisket. She makes the toast at her own wedding. She is even intentionally posed in this iconic position to showcase just how spunky she can be. The show is in cheery contrast with the typical portrayal of “the woman scorned.”
Perfectly Written Memorable Lines
In an odd turn of events, Midge meets Lenny Bruce. Midge sees this as the perfect opportunity to get advice from the comedy legend. She asks him if he would prefer to have any other job in the world. The result is one of those perfect moments, set-up by perfectly crafted writing. Bruce replies:
If there was anything else in the entire world that I could possibly do to earn a living, I would.
I’m talking dry cleaners to the Klan, crippled kid portrait painter, slaughterhouse attendant.
If someone said to me, “Leonard, you can either eat a guy’s head or do two weeks at the Copa,” I’d say “Pass the ******* salt.” It’s a terrible, terrible job.
It should not exist, like cancer and God.
It’s irreverent, but Lenny proves that he loves stand-up. The moment gives you that flicker that this show is special.
Recently, the fashionable profession on TV to have is to be a stand-up comedian. Shows like Crashing, Lady Dynamite, I’m Dying Up Here and the now defunct Jim Gaffigan Show and the potentially defunct, Louie, all show the seedy life of a comedian.
We get it. Comedy is tough. People bomb.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel comes at the profession from a different angle. Midge sees the challenge of stand-up and is intrigued. She isn’t a stand up because she hates herself. She enjoys having her voice heard and making people laugh. Like the show’s creator, Midge enjoys working and re-working lines to create those perfectly written memorable lines.
Period Piece Delights
There is so much eye candy in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. The pink Pyrex that holds the brisket is cheery. Midge’s capes are a thing of beauty. I’m even intrigued by the magical face cream that Midge smothers her skin in at night. As a rule of thumb, period pieces get five extra bonus points in my heart. But, it’s not just the things in the show, it’s what they are doing. The choreographed exercise class that Midge and Imogene (whose name I’m obsessed with!) take is one of the greatest scenes in 2017 as far as I’m concerned. The world needs more people working out with glass Coke bottles. The choreography is unexpected. The married ladies workout so they can “eat cheesecake.” The divorcees workout because they are desperate. The fast-paced aerobics match the fast-paced conversations that fly by.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel isn’t meant to be studied as history. Unlike Mad Men, the show doesn’t set out to be extremely realistic. Midge is a spunky woman who is trying to live her dreams.
That’s all the realism I need.
It’s December and you know what that means. This is the time of year where we star seeing 2017 recaps. Best this or that, biggest scandal, so on and so forth. This year, though, things seem to happen in a much denser capacity. November was a hell of a month in the pop culture world, so naturally the month needs a recap. Let’s get to it!
There was a bit of a scandal
The Harvey Weinstein story broke in October, but the ripples extended all through November. In November we saw Kevin Spacey removed from House of Cards, prominent Hollywood agent Adam Venit was named as the perpetrator against Terry Crews, Louis CK admitted to sexual misconduct which led to a movie and tv show being scrapped, and Matt Lauer got fired for harassment claims. To say the Weinstein story opened the floodgates would be an understatement. I’m sure we will continue to see further effects in Hollywood and beyond as time goes on, but it seemed like everyday in November led to a new revelation.
It’s painfully obvious that there are some deep-rooted issues regarding attitudes toward sexual behavior. It’s not just in Hollywood, sports, or politics, but in everyday life. I certainly don’t know any sort of fixes for a problem as big as this, but at least people are recognizing that a problem does exist. If there is one thing this ordeal taught us, it’s the power of speaking out, so if you’ve been the victim of anything like that, let someone know. Here’s the Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs’ website if you’re looking for some resources.
Grab your pitchforks, we’re heading to EA
On November 12, a Redditor made a post about having to pay extra to unlock Darth Vader in the new Star Wars: Battlefront II game. Unfortunately for EA, the company making the game, one of their representatives responded with a ridiculous answer about “sense of pride and accomplishment” or whatnot defending the game structure. The backlash, of course, was swift and the EA Reddit response became the most downvoted comment in Reddit history, receiving several hundred thousand downvotes. If you’re not a Reddit user, this means that over 600,000 people gave the post a virtual “thumbs down” and led to a torrent of negative comments.
If you’re not familiar with the game and why this is an issue, here’s an analogous scenario. Imagine buying the new NBA video game and being told you have to play 30+ hours before you can unlock the Cleveland Cavaliers or Golden State Warriors. Oh, you don’t want to do that? Here you go, you can buy these extra teams (though they’re not actually extra teams, they’re part of the NBA) and bypass the hours of playing by just paying more money. Essentially EA is making it so time-consuming and tedious to unlock characters like Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker that they’re banking on people paying an extra amount to unlock them instead. The issue with the Reddit comment, though, was that the EA rep said the company wanted players to feel “a sense of pride and accomplishment” by grinding out those hours to unlock their favorite Star Wars characters. That comment would’ve probably been received more favorably had they not put a price tag on that “pride and accomplishment”.
Net Neutrality: To be or not to be
Another issue which shook the online world was the topic of net neutrality. I’m not about to dive down that political rabbit hole of whether or not the internet should be subject to government regulation or be controlled by corporations. This became a huge issue when FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said the FCC would roll back the net neutrality rules which have been in place since 2015. People were quick to pick sides and a ton of misinformation was whipped out in record time. In my opinion (uh-oh, here we go), the net neutrality issue is one of the issues that will directly affect your day to day life. I think the internet has (for better or worse) become a fairly essential part of life in 2017 and for the foreseeable future. How the internet is managed, whether by the government, free market, corporations, or whatever, is worth paying attention to. If you feel compelled to choose a side, please do so with well-researched information.
The Movies Were Lit
November is traditionally a strong month for the box office, and this year proved to be the same. Despite 23% drop from last 2016, this November was the third best box office month of the year so far, led by Thor: Ragmarok and Justice League. Five of the top ten box office draws earned a Rotten Tomatoes score of 85% or hire (Coco, Wonder, Thor: Ragnarok, Lady Bird, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri). Overall, it was a pretty good month at the box office.
The interesting aspect of the November box office is the head-to-head look between the Marvel and DC cinematic universes. Anybody who keeps up with the two comic powerhouses’ movie performance knows that Marvel is light years ahead of DC when it comes to movies. Back in May and June, the tide seemed to potentially even out a little when Wonder Woman outperformed Guardians of the Galaxy 2 at the domestic box office. The surprise success of Wonder Woman gave a glimmer of hope to DC fans that things were turning around…until Thor crushed that hope with the swing of Mjolnir. Justice League opened with $93 million, which was good for number one that weekend. Unfortunately, it was the fifth worst DC opening (out of five DC releases) and will be lucky to crawl past Suicide Squad to take the third spot on the list. On the other hand, Thor was quite a bit more successful. With an opening weekend of $122 million, Thor has already climbed up to tenth on the Marvel movie list (out of 17 movies). Thor is also in the top 80 (79) in all-time domestic releases and is closing in on $300 million in domestic box office revenue. With the release of the new Avengers trailer last week, it’s safe to say the comic movie battle is still definitively one-sided.
Those kids from Love Actually got engaged…according to the internet.
Obviously that isn’t the case, but after the last month I’d believe just about anything.
By Josh Corman on ©November 30th, 2017 @ 9:00am
The Grammys don’t matter. It’s important that we all agree to that, here at the beginning. It’s important because, historically speaking, Grammy wins have been used as ammunition in arguments about musical artists’ accomplishments, especially in comparison to other artists. Perhaps this made sense in the past, perhaps it didn’t. I mean, Roger Miller won more Grammys in the 1960s than The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan, and, well, every other meaningful musical artist from the 1960s. 2Pac, The Notorious B.I.G., Public Enemy, N.W.A., Nas, Snoop Dogg, and A Tribe Called Quest have combined to win… zero Grammys. Using Grammys to judge historical or artistic significance is like using total number of restaurants to determine who makes the best food.
Which is not to say that there aren’t meaningful conclusions to be drawn from this year’s crop of Grammy nominees. There are. It’s just that none of those conclusions are: “[Insert song/artist/album here] is the best this year had to offer.”
Familiarity counts… a LOT.
Listen, I’m not saying Grammy voters are lazy. What I am saying is that many of them possess the sophistication of those who cast their presidential ballots based on whose campaign signs have the prettiest colors. So, when you look at the nominees in, let’s say “Best Alternative Album,” you’ll find albums from Arcade Fire, The National, LCD Soundsystem, Father John Misty, and Gorillaz. Guess what? All of those artists have been nominated for Grammys before, they’re all established critical darlings, and they all made better records six to ten years ago. Same for Jay-Z and his eight nominations, which is somehow more than Kendrick Lamar got for the infinitely superior DAMN. There are, admittedly, a few curve balls, as in the Best Rock Performance category (I have heard of neither Kaleo or Nothing More). Then again, that category also features two recently deceased artists with massive reputations (Chris Cornell and Leonard Cohen, hilariously), so not exactly groundbreaking across the board.
I admit that it would be disingenuous to paint the Grammys as milquetoast purveyors of the safest possible music to the broadest possible audience and simultaneously get mad at them for not branching out. At the same time, it’s hard not to wish that they would develop at least a moderate degree of self-awareness and be more intentional in their attempts to honor more interesting or innovative, if less established, acts or at least honor them before their prime was well past.
That said, at least the Grammys are more progressive than the Oscars.
For the first time in Grammys history, there are zero white dudes nominated for Album of the Year. I’m sure that this news won’t go over well down at the Klan Rally to Preserve Our White Heritage, but it shows that perhaps Grammy voters recognize the most culturally meaningful music being made at the moment is coming from traditionally marginalized groups like women and people of color.
Do I wish Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit had snuck into the Album of the Year category like Sturgill Simpson did last year? Sure, because he makes the kind of music that falls most directly in my wheelhouse. But let’s not pretend that, in 2017, the most visible music award on the planet needs to go to another white guy with a guitar. To quote Isbell, “I’ve heard enough of the white man’s blues; I’ve sang enough about myself.”
It’s true that the Grammys don’t matter in the sense that anyone should feel like their taste has or hasn’t been validated, or that the awards are somehow an objective measure of quality. They are, however, an indication of whose art (and therefore whose perspective) is being afforded space in the public sphere by the people who traditionally guard those gates. And though you could argue that millionaire (or, in the case of Jay-Z, billionaire) musicians aren’t exactly lacking a voice, the people their music is typically written for do lack (and have historically lacked) the representation that records like DAMN., “Awaken, My Love,” and 4:44 might provide, especially when you consider that a white guy has more Rap Album of the Year Grammys than anybody else.
As Always, the Awards Won’t Be the Best Reason to Watch
The awards themselves may not matter, but the same can’t be said for the performances, which have at least the potential to resonate long after the Grammys broadcast ends. I still remember seeing The White Stripes break into their cover of Son House’s “Death Letter” when they were supposed to be playing “Seven Nation Army.” I had listened to their stuff after Rolling Stone had named Jack White one of the greatest guitarists of all time. I thought they were out of their minds until I saw that performance.
That’s what the Grammys really bring to the table: the chance to be wowed by an artist who’s been given a brief opportunity to show the world what they can do. Sure, some of the performances are dull, predictable, lip-synced affairs, but every year there’s at least one that gets people talking about music as a thing that still has tremendous power, even in our fractured, niche-market culture. Last year it was Beyonce and Chance the Rapper. The year before it was Kendrick’s performance of “Alright.”
We don’t yet know who’s playing at the 2018 award show, but it’s safe to say that there’ll be at least one artist whose performance surprises or impresses you, and that alone is reason enough to pay attention when the Grammys roll around in February.
There is a gift guide for everything. There are gift guides for men, besties, pets, even gifts for people who “have everything.” (That last guide would more honestly read as “A gift guide for people who don’t mind being pretentious.”) It is officially the season for being inundated with options for gifts for those we love. In an effort to weed out the gifts that should remain ungifted from the respectable presents, we have assembled the world’s worst gift guide to help with your holiday shopping.
Shopping fatigue is real. There comes a time when you have exhausted all your shopping tricks and there isn’t a satisfying option on the World Wide Web. Here are some options for when you just give up.
Twerking Santa Claus: The picture doesn’t do Santa justice. His belly isn’t the only thing that shakes like a bowl full of jelly.
Kitchen Sponge Bed: Nothing says “I love and appreciate you” like a gift that makes a time consuming chore less practical!
Ombre Puzzle: Gwyneth Paltrow is the artful curator of her website GOOP. The lifestyle blog is notorious for whimsical (read expensive) tips for how to live like a celebrity. This nearly impossible puzzle is just one of GOOP’s many ways to add a little celebrity style to your everyday drab life.
The Power Nap Head Pillow: The perfect gift for people who like to nap while looking uncomfortable.
Now listen. You and I both know that not every gift exchange is a “Gift of the Magi”-type situation. There may be some instances when you are giving to those who are difficult to love. Here are some passive aggressive presents that will say, “Hey! I thought of you and here’s the best I could do!”
The Butt Station Desk Accessory: I just can’t imagine a desk that would be improved by this accessory.
Pop Up Hot Dog Toaster: Not only is storing a hot dog toaster impractical, I’m concerned that the mechanics aren’t safe. Even common sense doesn’t suggest that hot dogs and buns have the same cook times. Very problematic.
4D Gummi Bear Skeleton: This might be the worst present ever.
- There are 41 pieces! There is the maximum potential for losing pieces.
- It’s frightening
- Gummi Bears aren’t real. What advantage could be gained from studying their mythical bones?
- The thought of gummi bears having bones has ruined their sugary goodness for me forever.
Cat Butt Purse: I’m offended by the butt sewn into the purse. I’m offended by the decorative balls added to the bag.
I’m not sure when we reached it, but at one point the market became over saturated with highly specific products aimed at a very specific audience. I blame Shark Tank. Regardless of its origins, there are some gifts that are so specific that they could only be a gift to one recipient.
Jonathan Adler Soul Cycle Candle: Finally a gift for someone that wishes for their home to smell like sweat, rubber and people falling off of stationary bikes.
Kurt Cobain Pop! Doll: It feels wrong to have Kurt look so cute. I’m just going to imagine this as a Billy Ray Cyrus doll instead.
Cat Hand Puppet: Nope. Nope. Nope. This cat is giving me some creepy murdery vibes.
Hidden Valley Ranch Keg: If liking ranch makes you cool, then owning a vat of ranch makes you the coolest. Right?
All kidding aside, I would gladly accept any of these terrible presents. I would be delighted to re-gift them later.