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The Entertation Index: July 17-21

The Entertation Index: July 17-21

As always, each week KSR’s Funkhouser collects the best of pop culture. And as always, The Entertation Index collects the best of the week for your consumption.


Bennington, Chester — Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington passed away on Thursday after committing suicide by hanging, as reported by California Law Enforcement services. Please, again, I beg you guys: if this type of thing is even the kind of thing that flashes in your mind from time to time, please get the help you need before it’s too late. Nothing is worth this. Rest easier, Chester.
Link: Linkin Park Singer Commits Suicide by Hanging

Comic-Con — San Diego’s annual Comic-Con has begun for another year and this go-roudn the Syfy Network has opened a “pop-up chapel” where American Gods actor Orlando Jones is officiating legal weddings. Convention-goers can theme their weddings in any fashion possible using props like bouquets or light sabers and tie the knot during the event before almost assuredly having sex for the first time ever.
Link: Orlando Jones Officiates Star Wars-Themed Wedding at Comic-Con Pop-Up Chapel

Crush, Candy — The CBS game-show iteration of the not-that-popular-anymore app Candy Crush have taken a nosedive after its initial pilot, dropping in ratings over 30% from its opening week to its second week. Producers are said to be reaching out to friends over Facebook, requesting them to send the show more viewers.
Link: Candy Crush Plummets in Week 2

Hart, Kevin — A Radar Online video published on Wednesday claims to have captured funnyman Kevin Hart en flagrante with a Miami model, a rumor Hart claims is untrue. According the the model, the experience was a lot like the film Central Intelligence: it had a lot of promise and probably should have been okay but for some reason was just terrible.
Link: Kevin Hart Responds to Miami Video, Allegations That He Cheated on his Pregnant Wife

Kaelin, Kato — Upon O.J. Simpson’s parole granting on Thursday, Simpson’s former friend — and pivotal figure in the murder trial of Nicole Brown Simpson — Kato Kaelin told reporters that he didn’t think “this would be the final chapter of O.J. Simpson” and once again re-iterated his feelings that Simpson was guilty of murder in 1995. He also added to the media “Do you guys want to come in and watch some TV or something? Don’t leave. I have some stuff I could make us to eat. No, don’t leave. Come inside. Please, don’t leave me. I’ll say more, I promise. I have cable. You guys like Sega Genesis? Just hang out. Please?”
Link: Kato Kaelin Talks OJ Simpson Parole

Usher — According to court papers recently unearthed, song and dance man Usher Raymond payed a “celebrity stylist” $1.1 million dollars after he infected the stylist with herpes. This shouldn’t be as big of a deal as it is; after all, country superstar Luke Bryan has been infecting people with ear gonnorhea for years.
Link: Usher Allegedly Paid a Woman $1.1 Million Dollars After Giving Her Herpes

West, Adam — Last month former Batman star and national treasure Adam West passed away at 88, leaving the fictional Family Guy town of Quahog, Rhode Island without a mayor. The producers of Family Guy this week released a nine-minute supercut of West’s greatest moments on the show, and it’s a lot of fun. RIP, Mayor Adam West. And enjoy this, everyone.
Link: Family Guy Honors Adam West With this 9-Minute Montage


The War of The Dead

The War of The Dead


Welcome back to fans and followers of The Walking Dead. With the return of the new season of Game of Thrones, my eyes have starting looking slightly left of center, travelling from Westeros back into Alexandria, VA. With the way the story lines were left, TWD appears to be set up for one of the best runs that comic books have ever seen, All Out War.

As you recall, Negan has been pushed back to the Sanctuary after being assaulted head on by Rick and his group. Rick had help along the way from Maggie’s people at the Hilltop and Ezkiel’s people of the Kingdom. With the last lines he gave in Season 7, Negan says it all, “We’re going to war.”

What does this have to do with a hot, sticky summer day? That’s easy… It’s Comic-Con Day! Just a couple of hours ago, TWD cast and creators took the stage at San Diego Comic-Con to talk about Season 8. While they couldn’t be specific about what transpires, my favorite question was asked in regards to Negan. An audience member asked Jeffery Dean Morgan how much he can cuss on the show and his answer was, ” Seven s@#$, a few gd’s, and no f^%$.” Oh how I wish JDM could play Negan straight off the page of the comic.

With that being said, before you slip on another face like Arya, cast your eyes on the Season 8 trailer for The Walking Dead. Before the new season, Josh Juckett and I will be back to give a run down of all the previous seasons. All the way from 1 to 7. Enjoy.



The Big Sick: A Practical Love Story

The Big Sick: A Practical Love Story

When’s the last time America got swept up in a good rom-com? 50 Shades of Grey doesn’t count and all of the Nicholas Sparks movies merge into one big damsel in distress blur.  The closest we’ve come to romance is the chemistry between the sweaty teens that meet in the Coke commercials.  It’s a little pathetic.


The Big Sick has been heralded as the savior of the romantic comedy genre.  With a 97% on Rotten Tomatoes, the movie was said to be the greatest rom-com in years.   The problem with a huge helping of praise is the curse of expectation.  The Big Sick is good.  It is not the greatest romantic comedy of all time in the traditional sense.  It has, however, mastered the art of showing a more interesting romance–a practical one.

Kumail Nanjiani wrote the script with his wife Emily V. Gordon.  The plot is based off of their difficult-to-believe-if-it-wasn’t-true story.  Kumail meets Emily.  They have a spark.  They fall in love, but right when things get difficult Emily is put in a medically induced coma.  There are more complications when Kumail has to deal with navigating the expectations of his Pakistani family and Emily’s family’s issues. Nicholas Sparks is kicking himself for not dreaming up this concept.

The Big Sick borrows the tropes of rom-coms and re-packages them in a more attainable way.  One of the most heartwarming tricks of the genre is the “thoughtful gesture.”  For example, in Music and Lyrics, when Hugh Grant screws over Drew Barrymore he writes the perfect pop song and sings it for her in Madison Square Garden.  The gesture is extremely impractical.  In Kumail and Emily’s story his thoughtful gesture is a bag of mementos that are barely enough to fill up a scrapbook page.  It’s not a serenade at the Madison Square Garden, but it still has the same heart-warming effect and it is completely attainable.

Unlike most sappy movies, Kumail spends very little screen time with his love interest.  Because of their specific situation they can’t be like Richard Gere and Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. Julia and Richard go to the polo match, the opera and Julia even shoots snails across a ritzy restaurant. Kumail gets to know Emily’s parents just as much as he gets to know her.  Instead of 90 minutes of witty banter between the two lovebirds they show how he pursues her without being with her.   The result is a much sweeter story than a rich man falling love with a call girl.

Finally, the writing in The Big Sick is natural and believable.  In Notting Hill, Julia Roberts tells Hugh Grant that she’s “just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her.”   The line is quintessential romantic comedy, but it’s not the most believable line.  Kumail and Emily’s romance is more grounded.  Emily tells Kumail,  “I am overwhelmed by you.” (In a good way) and Kumail fumbles a loving comeback.   Even though the writing is thoughtful and sweet, the movie puts more emphasis on the actions the characters make rather than their overly sappy words.

Love Actually: Where people shush married women on their doorstep.

In the end, The Big Sick isn’t the greatest romantic comedy of all time because it is too real.  There’s no elaborate montage of the couple getting to know each other because that time is designated to them dealing with real-life, high-stakes issues.  The movie is set in a world where people aren’t creepers showing up with posters on a married woman’s doorstep (see insert)  The Big Sick is a more practical love story.   In the movie, Emily’s father, played by Ray Romano, says, “Love isn’t easy that’s why they call it love.” It’s no “If you’re a bird, I’m a bird” but it makes way more sense.   The entire movie is like this. It’s not the most romantic movie in the traditional sense, but from a real-world point of view it’s perfect.

Game of Cameos

Game of Cameos

Game of Thrones made a splash last Sunday not so much because of the episode itself, but because of the special guest cameo from Ed Sheeran.  As far as the cameo itself goes, I thought it was fine, but based on Twitter it apparently ruffled a lot of feathers.  GoT has been pretty solid with its cameos featuring great performances by Ian McShane, Jim Broadbent, Of Monsters and Men, and others.  So in light of Ed Sheeran’s poorly received cameo, I decided to come up with a top 5 list of cameos which could right this wrong.  Hopefully this list will end up in the appropriate hands ahead for casting season eight.

Paul McCartney

Keeping the musician theme going, who wouldn’t want to see Sir Paul join as the royal musician in Highgarden?  McCartney has a stately air about him that means he would be natural fit in a place as classy as Highgarden.  Better yet, when things eventually come to a head between King’s Landing and Highgarden, Sir Paul could lead the charge with a fiery refrain of “Live and Let Die”.  Ultimately it seems unlikely that House Tyrell comes out on top, so when Highgarden eventually falls, Sir Paul will go down while “Let It Be” plays during the fade to black.

Liam Neeson

Liam Neeson’s versatility makes him the perfect candidate for a GoT cameo.  He can be a wise maester in Old Town, a valiant knight in any house’s army, or even a kindly old man who just wants peace.  Personally I’d like to see his particular blend of vengeance and bad-assery as a member of Beric Dondarrion’s army. Liam Neeson, Dondarrion, and the Hound all together would be television magic.  Neeson’s cameo would last for one episode where he exchanges some great dialogue but ultimately dies as a hero during a battle.

Judi Dench

Like McCartney, Dame Judi Dench already has a presence about her that exudes high class so she would fit right in as a member of a ruling family.  Personally I see her as more of a Northern noble lady.  Her cameo would be a single episode arc in which she is preparing her castle (maybe stick her with the Karstarks or Umbers) for a White Walker invasion.  Her acting chops would bring serious gravity and grim determination as the castle faces the onslaught.  The last shot would be of Dench’s dead body amidst the carnage left in the wake of the Night King.

Patrick Stewart

Patrick Stewart should be included just to hear him talk in the manner of Westeros.  The best fit for him would be as some man of influence being courted to join Daenerys Targaryen.  Conversations and battles of wit between Patrick Stewart and Tyrion would be the stuff of legend.  Stewart’s story should last a few episodes, culminating in his eventual pledge to aid Daenerys’ cause, only to turn on her and sell her out to the Lannisters.  The betrayal does not lead to Daenerys’ defeat though, and Patrick Stewart ends up as a tasty dragon treat.

Queen Elizabeth of House Windsor

The ultimate cameo.  Queen Elizabeth of House Windsor would be the best possible guest spot the show could produce.  Her first appearance would be at the end of season seven where she is revealed to be the secret ally all major houses have been trying to recruit.  This episode would consist of a few scenes sharing clever snipes back and forth with Lady Olenna.  In the war against the White Walkers Queen Elizabeth’s Royal Guard shows up to defeat the Night King (now being played by Prince Charles).  Following the war against the White Walkers the final struggle for the Iron Throne begins.  In the last episode of the series it appears that Daenerys is about to claim victory with her dragons.  Out of nowhere Queen Elizabeth shows up with an army of Corgis who slaughter all enemies.  The show ends with the Queen taking her throne.

Kentucky Thrones Radio: Season 7, Episode 1

Game of Thrones returned with vengeance to start season seven.  Nick and T.J. recap the episode that sets the table for the stories to come, and they predict where the show will go.  Hopefully it’s enough to help you get through six days of waiting for episode two.  A few things that were discussed…

—  One listener’s prediction proves he’s a soothsayer.

—  Ed Sheeran’s cameo wasn’t pointless and it wasn’t the first from Westeros.

—  Houses that have stood for thousands of years are rapidly going extinct.

—  The Night’s Watch’s odd way of confirming Bran’s identity.

—  T.J. takes great joy in seeing Samwell shovel poop.

—  Euron Greyjoy’s liberal use of eye makeup.

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.

The Entertation Index: July 10-14

The Entertation Index: July 10-14

As always, each week KSR’s Funkhouser collects the best of pop culture. And as always, The Entertation Index collects the best of the week for your consumption.


Emmys — Nominations came out this week for the 69th Annual Emmy Awards, with HBO’s Westworld and Saturday Night Live leading the pack in nominations. I’d love to weigh in here, but I don’t watch any current TV — only watch my old VHS copies of the Emmy-winning exotic crime drama Magnum, P.I. (nineteen nominations and two wins; suck it Modern Family).
Link: Emmy Nominations 2017

Lochte, Ryan — With Discovery Channel’s Shark Week nigh on the horizon and Olympian Michael Phelps slated to race a shark to kick it off, former teammate Ryan Lochte weighed in on the publicity stunt while leaving a Hollywood party with his Playboy model fiancee this week (see? Karma doesn’t exist!) and vehemently told reporters Phelps doesn’t stand a chance. “Hell no,” said Lochte. “Everyone knows sharks don’t exist.”
Link: No Way in Hell Phelps Beats Shark

Phelps, Michael — See: Lochte, Ryan

Rock, Kid — Trailer-rocker Kid Rock may have announced this week that he’ll be seeking a senate seat in the state of Michigan in 2018 by opposing democratic incumbent Debbie Stabenow. The move is being hailed as either a move for Rock to make positive changes in the Great Lakes State or, if he wins, the most incredibly elaborate attempt ever to make Debbie Stabenow the saddest person in the country.
Link: Kid Rock Tweets Tease Senate Run in Michigan

O’Brien, Conan — Ready for a real throwback? Go down the rabbit hole of Late Night with Conan O’Brien’s old, wonderful, brilliant material in this fantastic montage. Some really great moments here, just for fun on a Friday
Link: Best of Late Night

Planet of the Apes: The Musical — With the third of the Planet of the Apes trilogy bowing in theaters today, how about an oral history from Simpsons writers of defrocked actor Troy McClure’s broadway musical Stop the Planet of the Apes, I Want to Get Off? See? Sometimes the internet isn’t so terrible.
Link: An Oral History of the Simpsons’ Planet of the Apes Musical

Roses, Guns and — Spin magazine reports that, behind Queen Bey, rockers Guns N’ Roses were the top earning musical act of 2016 by netting a whopping $42.3 million from their long awaited tour. This is encouraging, as it gives us all hope that we can stop giving a crap about our jobs and continue to make money. Happy Friday! Enjoy your dumb awful paycheck, stupid.
Link: Guns N’ Roses Made More Money in 2016 Than Anyone Except Beyonce

Thrones, Game of — You’ve done it, Internet! Before season eight’s debut, in the past week you’ve succeeded in ranking everything on Game of Thrones. Great job! Who can forget “Five Times Gilly and Sam Looked at Each Other” or “Ser Davros’ Best Pelts, Ranked”? We thrilled at “Eighteen Wardrobe Secrets You Didn’t Know About Tyrion Lannister’s Pants” and couldn’t take our eyes off of “Fifty-four times an Episode Ended with Daenerys Striking a Cliched Power Pose.” So here’s Rolling Stone’s list of forty of the best Game of Thrones characters, I guess. Why not?
Link: The Forty Best Game of Thrones Characters 

Kentucky Thrones Radio: Season 7 Preview

Even though Nick and T.J. are on the road for recruiting trips, they couldn’t resist doing one more episode of KTR before the season 7 premiere.  The two tackle every Game of Thrones theory imaginable to help you prepare for the penultimate season.  Highlights:

—  Who do YOU want to bring back to life?

—  A theory involving Theon and…Hodor?

—  Is Ned alive?

—  Nick can’t stop creepily winking.

—  T.J. bets the pop-up book multiple times.

—  A game of Love, Marry, Kill, courtesy of Fake Barney.

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.

Pop Culture Burger Superlatives

Pop Culture Burger Superlatives

In honor of the most wonderful/cholesterol-filled time of the year, we want to celebrate the humble hamburger.  The most American meal has had plenty of screen time over the years.  From piggin out on burgers in Animal House to the trademark-infringing McDowell’s in Coming to America, there have been many notable beef patties. Today, we celebrate the best of the best burgers from our favorite movies and TV shows.

Hottest Burger – Dumb and Dumber

Although Dante’s Inferno was “more tingly than hot,” the burger is seared into our memory. The peppers were not intended to be so high on the Scoville scale, but the unimaginative prank saved Harry and Lloyd’s life.

Most Honest – Parks and Recreation, Paunch Burger

Paunch Burger officially dethroned In-N-Out as the most accurate and descriptive restaurant name.   Leslie Knope stood up against the Paunch during season five of the show.  Paunch Burger was a worthy adversary because their honest and slightly aggressive commercials were difficult to oppose.  Who doesn’t love eating 1,500 calories solely from liquid cheese?

Best Feud Good Burger, Mondo Burger v. Good Burger

In Good Burger, Kenan and Kel have to protect the recipe to the “secret sauce.” Like the elusive Cane’s sauce, the secret sauce was the reason for the success of Good Burger and therefore their dominance over evil Mondo Burger.  The 1997 movie is a thoughtful telling of a small business going up against a corporate giant.

The story is a classic, although I’m unsure the actual movie would hold up twenty years later.

Or…Best Feud – SpongeBob Squarepants, The Krusty Krab v. The Chum Bucket

In SpongeBob SquarePants, SpongeBob and Patrick have to protect the recipe to the “secret formula.” Like the elusive Cane’s sauce, the secret formula was the reason for the success of The Krusty Krab and therefore their dominance over the evil Chum Bucket.  The 1999 TV Show is a thoughtful telling of two friends who work together to achieve a common goal.

The story is a classic, which is why I’m sure the show still continues for almost 20 years.

Best Pop Culture References – Bob’s Burgers

If you like red meat and puns then you will love Bob’s Burger of the Day Board.  Although the creations sound like they were sprung out of the brain of a drunk, madman, the menu adds an extra surprise joke to each episode. Some of my personal favorites are:

  • Little Swiss Bunshine Burger – (Comes on a buttered bun)
  • The Final Kraut Down Burger (Comes with sauerkraut)
  • Poutine on the Ritz Burger – (Comes with poutine fries)
  • I Fought the Slaw Burger (And the Slaw Won)

Most Inspirational – Super Size Me

For many, Super Size Me was a documentary that showed why consumers should definitely not eat at McDonald’s.  However, seeing Spurlock eat breakfast, lunch and dinner at McDonalds and gain over 20 pounds, made me hungry.  The expose achieved its goal to show how harmful eating at the restaurant chain can be to your body, but deep down the documentary also made you crave a Big Mac and a large fry.
The GOAT – Pulp Fiction, Big Kahuna Burger

The Big Kahuna Burger Restaurant is magic.  The Big Kahuna Burger “is a tasty burger” and is the “cornerstone of any nutritious breakfast,” according to an Afro’ed Samuel L. Jackson.  Because of BKB, we know how to pronounce a “quarter pounder with cheese” in France.    The burger is the catalyst for the plot of Pulp Fiction, therefore it is the most important burger of all time.

These burgers are iconic. Here’s hoping your burgers from Lexington’s Burger Week are just as memorable.

The Waiting Game (of Thrones)

The Waiting Game (of Thrones)

We’re in the home stretch.  Less than one week until the return of critically acclaimed and theory-obsessed Game of Thrones.  At this point, if you’re a GoT fan you’re anxiously awaiting the season 7 premiere.  It’s been over a year since we were last in Westeros and in the absence of any substantial rumors and information, the suspense for the return is palpable.  You’ve made it this far without any new episodes, but if you want to wet your GoT whistle here are some things you can do to get through these final days.

Tuesday night-Wednesday: Get caught up on Kentucky Thrones Radio

Nick and TJ have been bringing GoT fans up to speed on the goings on in Westeros.  If you can’t quite remember where we left off, who is dead, or the current state of winter, then binge these pods before Sunday.  You can check out the different ways to listen here.

Thursday: Track down a good GoT conspiracy theory and dive into it.

There are a number of really intriguing theories in the GoT universe.  Last season saw one of the biggest theories confirmed with the reveal of Jon Snow’s mother.  There are many other fun theories to invest in.  For book lovers, the Grand Northern Conspiracy is still one of the most thorough and intriguing theories out there.  You can get the full theory here.  Those who are primarily interested in the show might want to take a peek at the theory of Davos being the Prince Who Was Promised.  You can check that out here.  If you’re feeling really froggy, just go to Google and type in “Game of Thrones conspiracy theories”.  You won’t be disappointed.

Friday: Get your friends together and bet on who’s going to die.

Dead pools have been popping up everywhere for the upcoming season.  The GoT death game is so big that characters are getting odds for their survival.  Now there are many ways to enjoy this.  You and your friends can do a fantasy-style draft and whoever has the most survivors at the end of the season wins.  You can do straight up wagers with your friends using some lines that may or may not be available online.  You can also just spend each week hoping and praying for the death of Samwell Tarly.  However you decide to enjoy death, please enjoy it responsibly.

Saturday: Pay homage to your favorite fallen characters

Speaking of death, we all have our favorite characters in this show whose death caught us off guard and left us sad.  While many of the deaths are indeed grim affairs, some deaths are worth celebrating and therefore worth reliving.  So whether it’s the Red Wedding, Joffrey’s wedding, Tywin’s toilet, or Ned’s head, take a trip down memory lane to prepare yourself for what’s likely to come.

Sunday evening: Watch the last two episodes of Season Six again

Even if your Saturday death episode marathon included these two episodes, watch them again.  Season six ended with two of the best episodes of the entire series.  Remember when Jon Snow stared down Ramsay’s armies?  Remember when Cersei exacted her revenge…on everybody?  How about the sight of Daenerys’ army setting sail?  Not only do these two episodes serve the purpose of refreshing you, they are just exceptionally well done episodes and will get you pumped leading up to the series premiere.

I understand some of you may have lives and aren’t able to get to everything on this list.  In the event you find yourself with only a few minutes to get pumped up for the new series, just watch this and get ready for Winter.





Kentucky Thrones Radio: Season 6 Review


Nick Roush and T.J. Walker finish their Game of Thrones reviews by discussing the show’s best season.  Even though they can’t figure out if episode nine or ten is better, they still find time to share some interesting anecdotes to help prepare you for the season seven premiere.  Highlights include:

—  Jon Snow dies, then almost dies again for not listening to Sansa.

—  Cersei replaces Ramsay as the show’s primary villain.

—  Why Tyrion must have Targaryen blood.

—  Bran shows us the past, and changes it.

—  Arya pulls a Scott Tenorman.

We will be back for one more podcast before the July 16 premiere to share what we think will happen in season seven.  Share your best theories on Twitter using the hashtag #KTR and by Tweeting to @TWalkerRivals and @RoushKSR.


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.

The Entertation Index: July 3-7

The Entertation Index: July 3-7

As always, each week KSR’s Funkhouser collects the best of pop culture. And as always, The Entertation Index collects the best of the week for your consumption.


Bird, Big — North Korea is developing stronger, more advanced missiles. The Russians are allegedly collecting an unprecedented amount of American intelligence. The United States healthcare system is haywire. So here’s the Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage” video, starring Sesame Street characters. Because some things don’t have to be terrible.
Link: Beastie Boys’ Sabotage Featuring Big Bird and the Sesame Street Gang

Boys, Beastie — See Bird, Big

Courtney, Barns — During the Summerfest Music Festival in Milwaukee this week, British musician Barns Courtney made the impromptu decision to leap from the stage in a defiant stage dive and no one in the crowd broke his fall, leading to a broken foot for the songwriter. To be fair, though, Courtney has been described as “a mixture of Ed Sheeran and Mumford and Sons,” which would denote that he should have been well aware that not a single one of his fans possesses the human strength to catch a human being.
Link: Barns Courtney Breaks Foot Jumping Off Summerfest Stage

Day, Independence — I don’t care if the Fourth of July was on Tuesday or not, this gif is still the best thing of the week. YOU KNOW IT IS.

Geostorm — Behold the trailer for Gerard Butler’s Geostorm, a new action film from a producer of Independence Day, which will feature the timeless tale of a man who gets sent into space to monitor irregular weather patterns only to find that the weather is being caused by the government, forcing him to kidnap the President of the United States and force the President to stop the weather. And if you guys like that movie, my six year-old nephew has a few more scripts I could let you see. One is about a monkey who can’t stop peeing; Hugh Jackman is currently attached.
Link: Gerard Butler Attempts to Save the World from Climate Change Disaster

Gun, Top — During an appearance on an Australian morning show, pint-sized actioner and Oprah delighter Tom Cruise confirmed that a Top Gun sequel is on the way, probably bowing in 2019. Can someone swing by the Shell station and tell Val Kilmer that? I think he works from 10-6. Thanks.
Link: Top Gun Sequel Will Be Released in 2019

Perry, Katy — Pop singer, one-time Russell Brand slobberer and current Miley Cyrus/Lady Gaga impersonator Katy Perry has run afoul of Australian animal rights activists after a recent ad she did with her teacup poodle ended with her telling the pooch “let’s go chase some koala bears!” The groups unhappy with Perry have called the ad “disgusting” and “inappropriate” and will continue to seek new outlets to preserve animal e-koala-ty. HAHAHAHAHA (I am available for hire, Tire Discounter billboard writers!)
Link: Katy Perry Just Upset Some Koala Activists in Australia

Z, Jay –– The rapper’s digital-only release 4:44, available on the Tidal platform, has been certified platinum after only a week. I don’t know about you guys but I think it’s nice to see something going right for Jay-Z for once.
Link: Jay-Z’s 4:44 Album Reaches Platinum Status After Less Than a Week After Release

Into the Water: The Book of the Summer

Into the Water: The Book of the Summer

Every website seems dead set on crowning the song of the summer.   Identifying the song is a fool’s errand; the song will present itself when the time comes.  What the sunburned people of America need to search for is the Book of the Summer.  Book recommendations travel by word of mouth and strategically styled Instagram posts. So far, the Book of the Summer is Into the Water, by Paula Hawkins.

Set in Beckford England, a welcome foil for whatever humidity you might have to deal with, the town is reeling from yet another death.  Beckford is notorious for being “a place to get rid of troublesome women.” The cheerfully named “drowning pool” has been the site of multiple suspicious deaths.    Nel Abbott’s most recent death seems to be connected to the previous victims of the Drowning Pool. Solving Nel’s mystery might be the solution to past mysteries.

Heraclitus famously said, “You could not step twice into the same river.”  The river runs and people change. Into the Water operates on the same principle. The multiple narrators continually change the reader’s perception of characters and their motives.  Nel’s daughter, Lena, changes from moody teenager to a vulnerable orphan.  Each investigator has varying degrees of trustworthiness. Even Jules, Nel’s sister, makes drastic changes throughout the novel. Ironically, the only thing that stays the same is the river.

While there are many characters to keep track of in the story, the water should get top billing. Hawkins persistently reminds the reader of the river.  To some, the river is a frightening reminder of the past, while others gravitate to the sound of rushing water.  Characters choke on the water, dip in water, dream of water and submerge themselves into “the murky green.”  Detective Sean Townsend is described as having “watery eyes.” Like rose-colored glasses, all the townspeople perceive the world by its relation to the water.

The sound of water in Beckford is relentless and haunting.   But, the water isn’t the most dangerous thing in Beckford–it’s the townspeople. There are enough “troublesome women” for Nel to write a book about their deaths.  Nel’s manuscript describes Libby’s death in 1679, Lauren’s in 1983 and Katie’s in 2015.  These deaths are stories told over and over throughout the town.  They are mystical and spell binding.  Nickie Sage, an ostracized fortuneteller, is the original keeper of these stories. In my mind’s eye, she looks like the old witch who hands Snow White the poison apple (the text never contradicted this assumption.)  Like everyone else in the town, she’s connected to the water.  She visits different places near the water to speak to different spirits.  The women who have been claimed by the drowning pool aren’t quiet, even after they have dieed.  Nickie, bewitched by their voices, uses their spirit to solve the mysteries of their murders.

Into the Water isn’t perfect. The novel tends to drown in its own plot. Because Hawkins throws out so many characters as red herrings, there isn’t enough time for a satisfying resolution. The rushed resolution reminds me of how BRAVO ends most of their shows.  At the end of each season of the Real Housewives franchise, each woman is filmed doing something indicative of her personality.  The footage freezes and the producers share bullet points about what they’ve been up to since filming stopped.  The gimmick is perfect for reality TV, but Hawkins applies the same principle to her story.  The conclusion is quick snapshots of where each character is at the end of the story. The format is meant to give a sense of resolution but it just reminds the reader of the quantity of narrators they had to juggle for 400 pages.  (At my count, there are ten different narrators.)

Summer is the time to get lost in the tangled plot of a story.  Into the Water supplies a gnarled narrative that will keep you occupied whether you are on land or by the water.

Funkhouser’s June Music Breakdown

Funkhouser’s June Music Breakdown

Have you ever caught yourself listening to a playlist and feeling like you listen to the same songs all the time?  A few weeks ago I came across a 30 day music challenge picture on Twitter (pictured above).  The challenge was simple enough, find a song which matches each day’s criteria.  One day was for a song that motivates you, another day is a song that makes you sad, etc.  It was fun to put that playlist together and really was an introspective process.  After completing my list and listening to it for a few days I realized that I listen to the same stuff all the time.  The only new music I listened to were new songs from the same bands I always listen to and the occasional song on the radio that piques my interest.  Upon coming to this realization I decided to change that…so I listened to every new song that came out in June.

Every week dozens of new songs are released.  The majority of those songs will go unnoticed by most people.  The month of June wasn’t any different.  There were 670 new songs released on Google Play Music in the month of June.  That is a lot of songs and doesn’t even include exclusive releases on different platforms such as Tidal, Apple Music, and others.  It also doesn’t include special rereleases of albums, such as the “Purple Rain” Deluxe album, the 20th anniversary edition of Third Eye Blind’s self-titled album, and several more.  I listened to all 670 new songs and even branched out to include the new Jay-Z release which was a Tidal exclusive.  Below is a breakdown of the music that stood out the most. Following the breakdown are my June, 2017 recommendations.

Pop princesses are growing up

The month of June featured new albums by Katy Perry and Lorde as well as new singles from Selena Gomez and Miley Cyrus.  The funny thing about that is that of those 28 songs, zero are in the Billboard Top 100 (as of this writing).  The Selena Gomez song is by far the most pop-y of the bunch, but even it isn’t on the chart.  The majority of these songs don’t feel like “big arena” pop songs.  Rather, they feel like “afternoon on the second day of a three music festival” songs.  This isn’t a negative criticism.  It was actually kind of refreshing to hear some music from these artists that didn’t seem completely over-produced.  This doesn’t mean there is a total absence of those elements, but it was a nice surprise to hear less than I expected.

Country music doesn’t seem as bad as I thought it was

My favorite country artists have always been the old outlaw country singers.  Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings, and the rest of those guys.  I kept up with country music a little in the 90s, but I haven’t really liked much since then.  June was a pretty solid month for my style of country.  “So You Wanna Be an Outlaw” by Steve Earle and the Dukes is my favorite country album released since Johnny Cash’s “American History IV”.  It’s also pretty cool that Earle played a recurring character on The Wire, so that gets him bonus points.  Luke Combs has some pretty solid singles on his debut album, “This One’s For You”.  I also listened to UK fan Wheeler Walker, Jr’s new album, “Ol’ Wheeler”.  It’s completely NSFW, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy a few tracks.  As far as I’m concerned a tour featuring Chris Stapleton, Sturgill Simpson, Steve Earle, and Wheeler Walker needs to happen.  That’d be a hell of a show.

Rock and roll isn’t dead, but it wasn’t entirely full of life last month

The Foo Fighters new song, “Run”, pretty well summed up my experience with rock music June releases.  It was ok, but I didn’t feel compelled to listen to it much after the first time.  New albums by Nickleback, Rise Against, Portugal. The Man, 311, and others were good for background music, but they didn’t really do much for me beyond that.  There were even new releases from Styx and Cheap Trick, but outside of an initial “oh that’s cool” moment, these albums just blended in to the rest.  While the rock genre, vast though it is, wasn’t overwhelmingly enjoyable there were a few good albums.  AJR’s “The Click” and Imagine Dragon’s “Evolve” were both solid and I listened to them multiple times.

Why do so many rappers go for the “Drake” sound?

I like rap a lot, but there is a lot of imitation in the genre right now.  Drake released a new single last month, and so did half a dozen style doppelgängers.  I get that he’s kind of the “it” thing and as a UK fan I appreciate him occasionally helping UK basketball get a headline, but man his style of music gets old quick.  It especially gets old when you’re not even listening to Drake sing.  Fortunately, rap was probably the best collective genre I listened to in June.  Jay-Z’s “4:44” is fantastic and I’ll have more on that later.  Big Boi’s “Boomiverse”, 2 Chainz’s “Pretty Girls Like Trap”, Vic Mensa’s “The Manuscript”, and DJ Khaled’s “Grateful” are all good.  The best thing about them is they all sound different.  Besides, who doesn’t want to hear Chance the Rapper rap the ABC’s?  Spoiler alert, he does on DJ Khaled’s “I Love you so Much”.

Discovering new artists is a lot of fun

My favorite part of this project was coming across a band or artist that I hadn’t heard before and actually liking their stuff.  Thanks to services like Spotify and Google Music I have been able to listen to whatever I want on demand.  The freedom to do this, though, was what gave me my musical tunnel vision in the first place.  Embracing the hunt for a new musician to like was what really made this fun.  The vast majority of the songs I listened to were from artists I didn’t know.  The majority of that group are artists I probably won’t continue listening to.  There were handful that I now consider myself a fan of.  Here is that group: Hey Violet, Julia Michaels, Steve Earle and the Dukes, AJR, SZA, Vic Mensa, and Dirty Heads.


I’ve been a Jay-Z fan since Vol. 2 and have enjoyed his various iterations throughout his career.  “4:44” is by far my favorite Jay-Z album because it does something no other Jay-Z album has ever done, made him relatable.  Jay has made a career out of letting everyone know he’s the best and calling out anyone who tried to argue the point.  In “4:44” he aims his lyrical crosshairs on himself and calls out his own shortcomings and that makes him seem more human than he ever has before.  The swag is still there, but it’s repackaged.  Instead of his swag stemming from being a drug dealer, womanizer, innovator, or king; the swag comes from being a better husband, a good father, a mentor, and a creator.  There will be a lot written about “4:44”.  The early majority will be about the gossipy aspect of his relationship with Beyoncé, the Solange incident, and all that.  Jay-Z addresses that directly in the album, but “4:44” is a lot more than a gossip rag.  It’s about acknowledging your mistakes, accepting responsibility, and trying to be a better person so you can positively impact your world.  Ultimately, isn’t that something we all should be trying to do?

Listening to all this music was an overwhelmingly positive experience and I encourage everyone to make it a point to seek out new stuff to listen to.  For those of you who use Google Music, check out the New Releases tab every once in a while or the “I’m Feeling Lucky” radio. If you use any other music streaming service look for their new release sections or pick a random playlist to listen to.  The best things is that it doesn’t always have to be a new release for it to be new to you, so check out bands or albums you may have heard of but not listened to for yourself.  Either way, go on and try something new.  If you’re at the point in your Fourth of July festivities where you want to get away from your family, then pop in some earbuds and check out these new albums and my personal June playlist.

June Album Recommendations:

“4:44”- Jay-Z

“Melodrama”- Lorde

“The Click”- AJR

“So You Wannabe an Outlaw”- Steve Earle & the Dukes

June Music Playlist 

“No Grass Today”- AJR

“All Night”- Big Boi

“The Man”- The Killers

“Look Like You Know”- Royal Blood

“Vacation”- Dirty Heads

“Thunder”- Imagine Dragons

“Like Lovers Do”- Hey Violet

“Beer Can”- Luke Combs

“Goodmorning”- Bleachers

“In Cold Morning”- Alt-J

“Rollin’ Like A Stoner”- Vic Mensa

“So You Wannabe An Outlaw”- Steve Earle & the Dukes

“Love Galore”- SZA

“Freakanomics”- Big Boi

“Perfect Places”- Lorde

“Uh Huh”- Julia Michaels

“I’m the One”- DJ Khaled

“Bud Like You”- AJR

“Waiting On A Song”- Dan Auerbach




Funkhouser’s Guide to the 2017 Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest

Funkhouser’s Guide to the 2017 Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest

Every year, when I think of the Fourth of July, there is only one true symbol of the festive day.  You can have your fireworks, you can have your bald eagle, and you can have your backyard BBQ.  I don’t want ’em.  The only thing that makes my Fourth of July complete is watching a man house 70 hot dogs and waterlogged buns in 10 minutes.  I want at Noon-o-clock sharp, the sounds of Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” to slowly build in the background as our generation’s greatest orator, George Shea, rises on a scissor lift to greet the massive crowd on the corner of Surf and Stillwell Avenues in Coney Island.  On that corner sits the Mecca of Mastication, Nathan’s Famous, a Coney Island landmark since 1916. And every July 4th, 20 masters of salivation and gurgitation will stand forth and show if they can handle one of America’s most time honored traditions, Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest.

*Tyler Thompson and I will be doing a live blog of the Hot Dog Eating Contest on the main page at 12:00 PM.*

The women’s competition will be at 10:50 on ESPN3.  The Men’s Competition will air on ESPN2 at Noon. 

Contest History

The first Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog eating contest took place, according to legend, in 1916 as four immigrants had a hot dog eating contest to settle an argument on who was the most patriotic.  While that story would possibly be the greatest story ever told, the first recorded contest took place in 1972, where american Jason Schechter ate 14 hot dogs in three-and-a-half minutes.  His prize was a certificate for 40 more hot dogs.  It did not become an annual event until 1978 where Manel Hollenback and Kevin Sinclair ate 10 hot dogs and buns in six-and-a-half minutes.  Side note, Brian Cranston joked in a press conference that Walter White entered the 1978 Nathan’s Contest eating 38.5 dogs that year (which would have won by 28.5 dogs).  The first female champion captured the crown in 1984 when Germany’s Birgit Felden won with 9.5 hot dogs over a 10 minute span. She is now has a doctorate…

The number of hot dogs consumed each year rose through the year 2000 where Japanese competitor Kazutoyo Arai took down the event and world record for hot dogs eaten that year, throwing down 25 1/8 hot dogs.  The world, however, did not know what was in store in 2001 when a 128 lb. Japanese man named Takeru Kobayashi took the stage.  Kobayashi, as he’s known, ate 50 hot dogs, smashing the previous record set just the year before.  In second place that year was Eric “Badlands” Booker, who finished off 26 hot dogs. Kobayashi would reign supreme over the next five years including setting the record again in 2006 with a mark of 53 3/4 hot dogs (breaking his 2004 record of 53 1/2).

However, in 2007, a man by the name of Joey Chestnut brought the title back to America with a performance of 66 hot dogs in front of the Coney Island crowd..  Starting in 2007, Chestnut won eight consecutive Nathan’s Famous Contests and now holds the World Hot Dog Eating Record with a tally of 69 dogs in 10 minutes.  It is important to note that when Chestnut won in 2007 the time limit for the event was 12 minutes.  In 2007, Chestnut was eating 5.5 dogs per minute (DPM), while in 2013 the California native ate 6.9 DPM.

One can not bring up Kobayashi without noting his bowing out of the competition in 2010. Major League Eating and the International Federation of Competitive Eating (IFOCE – the governing body of competitive eating) wanted the eating superstar to sign an exclusive contract that would keep him from competing in non-sanctioned events.  He showed up to the 2010 event wearing a black Free Kobi shirt.  He crashed the stage after the event, promptly getting arrested.  He has since been banned from the events and his image has been taken off the wall of fame at Nathan’s Famous.  In 2011, he held his own eating competition on a rooftop in New York, where he ate 69 hot dogs of his own.

In 2011, Major League Eating started putting on a Women’s Championship, as there were many ladies who wanted to shoot for the women’s eating record.  Sonya “The Black Widow” Thomas had been hanging with the men since 2003, even coming in 2nd place overall in the 2005 contest.  Since the new women’s championship, she had won the first three years, setting the women’s world record with 45 hot dogs in 10 minutes.  However, newcomer Miki Sudo defeated Sonya Thomas for the first ever women’s title change, throwing down 34 hot dogs, while Thomas had 27.75.  Sudo has won the last three Nathan’s Famous women’s titles, tying Thomas’ number of victories.  Who will win game seven between Thomas and Sudo on Tuesday?

The competitive eating world was turned on its ear in 2015 as “Megatoad” Matt Stonie defeated Joey Chestnut, who had won the competition for eight consecutive years.  However, Chestnut turned the event right back into order, as Joey “Jaws” reclaimed the title in the 2016 event, eating 70 dogs.  Chestnut set a Nathan’s Famous record in the qualifier that year, eating 73.5 dogs.

Meet the Contestants

There are 20 competitors vying for the Mustard Yellow Title Belt (yep, that’s a thing).  Here are a few of the top competitors to watch out for this year:

Joey “Jaws” Chestnut

2016 was a good year for Joey “Jaws” Chestnut, as he reclaimed his crown as Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Champion.  At the age of 33, he has a bachelors degree in civil engineering, where I’m sure he’s working on some sort of bionic jaw to increase his eating speed.  He is again the #1 ranked eater in the world and holds over 30 World Eating Records, including these he claimed in 2017:

– 55 Glazed Donuts in 8 Minutes

– 25.25 Ice Cream Sandwiches in 6 Minutes

– 55 4oz Mutton Sandwiches (in Owensboro, KY) in 10 Minutes

– 126 Three Inch Tacos in 8 Minutes

Matt “Megatoad” Stonie

At just 25, Stonie has taken the competitive eating game by storm, being the #2 Ranked Eater in the World.  In 2015, he upset Joey Chestnut to win the Mustard Yellow Belt, but Chestnut won the title back in 2016. However, if Megatoad is comforted by one fact, it’s that we learned from GLOW that “The Money’s In The Chase”.  In 2013, he defeated Joey Chestnut three times in Major League Eating Competitions.  This is his sixth year in the Nathan’s Famous Contest, and holds these world eating records:

– 255 Peeps in 5 Minutes

– 113 Silver Dollar Pancakes in 8 Minutes

– 10.5lbs of Frozen Yogurt in 5 Minutes

-85 Moon Pies in 8 Minutes

Miki Sudo

Miki Sudo popped on to the eating scene out of nowhere.  On April 20, 2013, Sudo at 40 hot dogs in her Major League Eating debut, blowing the minds of onlookers.  Since then she has become the #4 eater in the world, winning the women’s title at the July 4th event in 2014, housing 34 dogs in the rain soaked event.  She won her third straight in 2016, and will walk onto the stage also holding the world record in eating Kimchi with 8.5 lbs. eaten in six minutes.

“The Mutiny” Carmen Cincotti

Cincotti, of Mays Landing, NJ, in just his first year in Major League Eating, is seated as the #3 competitive eater in the world.  He made a splash in his debut performance in the 2016 Nathan’s Famous contest, wolfing down 42 dogs in the 10 minute time period, the highest debut total by an eater since 2001.  He captured his first world record at the expense of Joey Chestnut, eating 101 Siegi Brats at the Linde Oktoberfest Tulsa, defeating Chestnut by one brat.  He holds three world records entering the 2017 Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest:

– 101 Siegi Brats in 10 Minutes

– 158 Catalina Croquetas in 8 Minutes

– 61.75 ears sweet corn in 12 Minutes

So there you have it.  Some of the top names in the field, along with others will vie to set a new world record, having to eat more than 74 hot dogs on the stage on the corner of Surf and Stillwell.

I now leave you with one more bit of George Shea, introducing the competitors from the 2015 contest, as only he can do it: