During NBA early entry decision season, more and more elite posts have enlisted to be →
KSR’s take on recent non sports related happenings
By Nick Roush on ©January 05th, 2017 @ 9:45pm
Avengers Assemble!!! This week on the CCW we discuss the Marvel Comic movies. The mid 90’s brought us the start of more super hero movies, however they really didn’t take off (pun intended), until Robert Downey Jr. put on his first Iron Man suit and launched a new era of entertainment. This weeks debaters are Brad Morris and Matt Tapia. The issues discussed are:
- The best movies overall
- The best individual hero movies
- What are the worst that have done?
- Has D.C. failed in its attempt to catch up to Marvel
- Howard the Duck’s cameo in a recent Marvel movie
You can easily listen on the KSR App, available on iTunes and Google Play. You can also get it directly to your phone by subscribing to “Kentucky Sports Radio” on iTunes, streaming on Podbay, or via Android’s Podcast Addict app.
In the days of my youth I was shown what it means to be a man.
No, wait. That’s the opening line to Led Zeppelin’s “Good Times, Bad Times.” Sorry, let’s try this again.
In the days of my youth, I witnessed a titanic struggle. It wasn’t the first of its kind, but to a kid growing up in the early ‘90s, it felt like the alpha and omega. I’m talking, of course, about the console wars fought between Nintendo and Sega. That corporate battle for the minds and hearts of young kids set the tone for how tech brands would think about their (increasingly younger) consumer base. Exclusive titles (or even exclusive features, like Mortal Kombat’s “Blood Code” for Sega Genesis) could sway kids to one side or the other, and both companies knew that once that first system was plugged into the ol’ TV, they’d earned themselves a fiercely devoted brand loyalist (I remember touting the virtues of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and mocking Earthworm Jim with no small amount of vigor).
Those days are over. Nintendo’s off in family game time-land, and Sega’s been bought and sold more times than your mother. (I’m SO sorry; I don’t know your mother at all. What a horrible thing to say. I’m sure she is — or was, sorry again — a lovely person.) Microsoft and Sony have taken their places, but they seem way less interested in actually establishing supremacy than in accumulating the wealth of a small nation through micro transactions and churning out enough sequels to make Hollywood blush.
Yes, the console wars are over. But the people who lived through their heyday (including yours truly) are witnessing a new (and yes, more interesting) corporate battle: the TV wars.
At one time, the phrase “the TV wars” would’ve meant a battle for viewers between the four networks. A little after that, it might’ve meant throwing in cable channels and even a subscription service like HBO. But it still wouldn’t have been much of a war. With so few outlets for TV shows (not to mention the pervasive notion that TV was so many rungs below film in terms of prestige that every self-respecting actor, writer, and director in Hollywood was scrambling to get off the small screen and onto the big), “losing” the battle for ratings or critical acclaim meant you still had an enormous percentage of the public’s TV-watching eyeballs, even if you didn’t have to try very hard to get them.
Those days are over too. Sure, from a ratings perspective, the networks still win (although not by as much as they once did, and thanks in large part to NFL broadcasts, which routinely top the ratings during the fall and winter), but there’s no question that they’ve lost in other, arguably more important arenas — with critics, awards, and the kinds of viewers who drive the TV-centric conversations on social media.
Let’s start with the critics. And, let’s note here that “critic” doesn’t just mean snooty columnists from dying forms of media anymore. The kinds of outlets that Metacritic rolls into their ratings metric include a whole bunch of websites where really smart people are writing thoughtfully about media of all sorts, all while embracing the fan-culture perspective that has emerged almost entirely because of the internet. What Bill Simmons did for sportswriting, sites like the A.V. Club have done for film and TV.
So anyway: the critics. A quick glance at Metacritic’s highest rated shows from the past few years makes it painfully clear that the most acclaimed shows no longer live at the networks. In fact, you have to go nearly 40 spots down the list before you see a season of a network show from the last five years (ABC’s American Crime scores an 85). Amazon, FX, HBO, Netflix, Hulu, the BBC, IFC, the CW, FXX, Bravo, Comedy Central, Starz, and Showtime all have seasons rated better, and many of them have more than one. HBO has seven. FX has eight. The reasons for this dominance are well documented. These so-called alternatives to traditional networks offer more flexibility and artistic control to actors, writers, and directors, and they’ve entirely removed the stigma of TV as a lesser opportunity than film. They’ve beaten the networks at their own game from the standpoint of programming quality, all while rewriting the rules of an entire industry.
Now for the awards. Let’s just use the past three years, since that’s really when the streaming services became full-time players in the original programming game. We’ll use the Emmys, because although they aren’t a perfect measurement of a show’s success or greatness or whatever, they are still the industry standard recognition for work well done. Here’s how the last three years shakes out in terms of Emmy wins by each network/service* (these numbers only reflect the telecast awards, which don’t include a lot of technical awards; they’d be even more lopsided if I’d included those, for what it’s worth).
HBO: 23 wins
FX: 11 wins
AMC: 7 wins
ABC: 6 wins
CBS: 6 wins
PBS: 5 wins
Netflix: 4 wins
Amazon: 4 wins
NBC: 3 wins
Fox: 1 win
Yikes. Now, the networks do a little better here, but I’d argue that award ceremonies tend to be pretty conservative. That’s why Beck won that Grammy for Best Album and a movie like The King’s Speech (which is well done but safe) wins Best Picture at the Oscars over edgier, more ambitious films. In any case, prestige dramas on cable networks win the day, while streaming services see their influence grow. None of that’s good news for the old guard.
Lastly, there’s the least precise, but potentially most important metric I’d use to determine who’s winning the TV wars. Call it juice, call it heat, or call it swag, it’s that indefinable sense of cultural importance that simple critical acclaim, award wins, and raw viewership don’t quite provide.
For example: Game of Thrones is responsible for a lot of HBO’s recent Emmy success, it’s the network’s highest-rated show, and it’s done pretty well with critics. But none of that really gives a sense of just how meaningful GoT is in a larger sense. Like, that show matters. People are naming their kids after characters, every episode creates a tidal wave of conversation on social media, writers across the internet devote thousands of words to recapping every week’s twists and turns, and fan sites offer fresh conspiracy theories every day. The People vs. O.J. Simpson is great TV (hence its critical acclaim, etc.), but it doesn’t matter to people like GoT.
Unfortunately, I don’t have the means to quantify a show’s big picture significance. There’s no meter that can determine just how deeply felt a given show is. I’m sure somebody could calculate how many articles have been written about each big deal show and factor in the number of mentions across social media, but I am not that dude. Instead, I’ll just go with my gut. Is that fair? No, but I’m the one whose put 1200 words into this thing so far, so I’ll take a few liberties and not feel too bad about it.
What does my gut say? It says that in the last 5 years, the following shows have mattered more than any others: Mad Men, Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, VEEP, The Daily Show, and Scandal. Arguments could be made for Transparent and Empire. Totally unscientific? Yes, but there you have it. By that entirely made up final measurement, we can score another one for cable and HBO, with the networks getting just a taste of life at the top.
And frankly, that’s where I think we’re gonna stay for a while, with Netflix and Amazon getting in on the action with increasing frequency.
So does any of this get us any closer to declaring a winner in the TV wars?
It’s a trick question. None of these companies is winning. They’re just fighting the war. We’re the ones winning. We’ve got brilliant creators being given heretofore unthinkable creative license to create bold, diverse, complex pieces of art, delivered into our homes at the press of a button, on our schedules. Just as Nintendo and Sega pushed each other in the early 90s, so this collection of original content providers is pushing the development of a frankly embarrassing amount of great TV.
Long may they fight.
*Numbers courtesy of Deadline
Here’s a life hack, only see La La Land with the willing. It isn’t for everyone. Spiteful message boards have complaints about clunky dancing, pitchy singers, and generic plots. Those are valid opinions for angry, soulless trolls. La La Land is only for fun-loving people who enjoy sunshine and saturated, jewel-toned clothing. I also highly recommend seeing it with some elderly ladies seated behind you. Nothing can squash the angry trolls like adorable septuagenarians.
La La Land follows Mia and Sebastian, two people with fancy Hollywood names, who are destined to be together. Mia is an aspiring actress. Sebastian is a jazz snob. Together they paint a more hopeful picture of what it is like to live in Hollywood. The moment you fall in love with the movie will be different than mine, but at some point you will realize you are totally smitten with La La Land. Hopefully when you do, there will be a few swooning grandmas behind you.
💟: The Opening Scene
The opening scene was oversold to me. I was expecting too much. I thought it would be brighter, shinier . In reality, it was a little bit more dull. Some of the colors looked like a bright shirt that had a few too many washes. I went into the the beginning of the movie with the eyes of a pessimist. At one point, the music builds to a big, beautiful Broadway dance number. I needed that moment. Finally, I stopped worrying about the structural integrity of the hoods of the cars and dancer’s doomed from too enthusiastic jazz hands. I could just enjoy the song for what it was–good, clean fun. As they sing about having “Another Day of Sun” and I trudge through this winter, it is easy to identify the intended tone. We are here to watch dancers dance and singers sing. Nothing to overthink here.
💟:Ryan Gosling plays Noah from The Notebook
I wouldn’t be surprised if someone said that the character of Sebastian is fan fiction from The Notebook. Sebastian is Noah Calhoun all over again. Both characters have similar wardrobes, mannerisms and the ability to be charming, selfish and agitated all at the same time. Gosling is in need of a headband for about 75% of the movie. As a visual, that wisp of hair is infuriating. (Don’t even get me started on his large ring) But, throughout the the film, you’ll find yourself enamored with Gosling. If you wished there was a The Notebook 2: The Final Chapters, then you will love La La Land.
💟:Emma Stone plays Emma Stone from real life
I’m positive that Emma Stone is playing Emma Stone in the movie. She seems to be the same confident and quirky person that she is in interviews. I am self aware enough to know that I am often easily duped by Hollywood into thinking that all performers are as interesting as the characters they portray. In this case, Emma Stone playing the part of Mia inspired by Emma is the exception that proves the rule.
💟:The Audition Song
By the time Mia finally gets the audition she deserves, you’re ready. It is a perfectly timed moment. Every part of the scene is satisfying. Stone’s over sized sleeves make her seem insecure. Her declaration that “that’s why they need us!” makes her seem confident, and rightfully so. As an audience member, I was ready to go to war for Mia if those forgettable casting directors didn’t give her the part. I wish that I could scrub the part of my brain that has the chorus of Frozen forever embedded in it. I would substitute that garbage with these lines, “Here’s to the hearts that ache. Here’s to the mess we make.” I think we would all be better off if we were always saluting the dreamers instead of “let it go.” If we are honest with ourselves, the cold always bothers us anyway.
💟: The Ending
The ending of La La Land should remain a surprise for anyone who hasn’t seen it. I look forward to watching it again when I can sit back and relax. There will be some comfort in knowing that they get the ending right. No need for anxiety.
💟:The La La Land Hangover
Sometimes after you see a movie, there is a hangover that lingers for days. For example, watching The Fast & the Furious has a definite affect on your safe driving habits. Likewise, La La Land will influence your outlook on life. Miraculously, as you unload the dishwasher, you will find yourself dancing with pointed toes and holding angular poses with your arms. If you are the type of person suited for La La Land, you will spend the subsequent week posed like an origami crane. There are worse movies to be under the influence. It is just the bit of madness that is needed.
New Year’s weekend was supposed to be a fun and exciting weekend. UK had a bowl game, it was week 17 of the NFL season, but the two things I looked forward to the most were the season premieres of Homeland and Sherlock. Well the UK game wasn’t all that great, week 17 was boring, and both premieres were just okay. That last part was really disappointing. Homeland was returning off it’s best season since Season One and Sherlock was returning after a near three-year hiatus (I’m not counting the one-off movie from last year). The expectations were high but at the end of both premieres I was simply left with an “eh, that was okay” feeling. It didn’t take me long to figure out that the problem I had wasn’t necessarily with the episodes in question, it was the fact that I was disappointed that I had to wait for the next episode. I realized that I have become addicted to binge watching.
I don’t remember much about May 23, 2010 but that was a day that I highly anticipated. That was the day of the series finale of Lost. The struggle of waiting week to week, season to season to get to the end of that show was real and there was a great deal of emotional investment in that final episode. Now I won’t get into whether that ending was good or bad, but the journey to that point is what made Lost (for me at least) one of my favorite shows ever. Fast forward six years later and I can’t hardly stand to wait a week between episodes. I only watch two shows now on an episodic basis: Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead. Of those two GoT is the only one which seems worthy of the wait. TWD feels like a crawl from one big event to the next and that makes it difficult to enjoy at times. I watched the first two episodes of Westworld when they came on then decided to wait until the season ended and watched the rest. I have no regrets, that was an awesome way to watch that show.
My obsession with binging started back in 2012. When my wife and I got married we opted to not get a cable subscription and went with the Netflix/Hulu route. During the first couple of years I binged everything. Battlestar Galactica, X-Files, Firefly, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Frasier, I couldn’t get enough of these shows. Then Netflix got Breaking Bad and I knew that I’d never be able to watch tv the same again. The thing about a tv series, especially dramas, is that we as viewers become invested in the journey of the characters and want to see how their stories end. Binge watching allows viewers to achieve that end sooner and get that fulfillment.
Binge watching is also incredibly convenient. How many times have you DVR’d a show with the intent of getting to it later in the week and then you realize that you’re four weeks behind because you never got around to watching that first episode four weeks ago? Thanks to things like DVR and Netflix it’s easy to get caught up on a show. Binge watching is especially convenient during sports seasons. Between UK games, the NFL, College Basketball/Football, and the NBA (with the occasional MLB game thrown in) it’s easy for shows to get cast aside for sports. Even if it’s only a season of a show, it’s as easy or easier to find a couple of afternoons to binge a show as opposed to carving out an hour each week to watch each episode individually.
Now as much as I like binging there is a definite drawback. Binging creates an insatiable thirst for more which can diminish the value of single episodes. Going back to the premieres I watched last weekend, both were okay. I’m confident that when placed in the context of the entire series their value will increase, but alone they were mediocre at best. Look at the last season of GoT and this current season of TWD. Both had strong starts but then lulls where you would think “this is setting up for something great later in the season”. Those episodes ended up delivering in GoT and the jury is still out on TWD. Every show does this though. There are lulls in the action and some episodes just aren’t that good compared to others. Binge watching helps eliminate this problem, but because of binge watching I can’t take Dr. Dre’s advice and just chill til the next episode. I have to keep moving on.
There are arguments for binging and for traditional episodic viewing. Watching a show like I watched Lost was a great experience and I loved the discussions I had with friends about the theories and trying to figure out what was going on. I’d say that the discussion aspect of watching week to week is the only thing I miss, but as I have developed a binge habit so have my friends. Instead of having one discussion a week about a show we’re having multiple discussions about more shows.
Ultimately whether you binge watch a show is a personal choice. For me, binge watching is like having super speed like The Flash. You get used to going so fast that when you try to do something at normal speed, like watch one episode each week, it feels super slow. Even when there is a great episode, like GoT’s “Battle of the Bastards”, I just want to get straight to the next episode. This is what binging will do to you and I felt it necessary for you to know the risks. It’s funny, who would’ve thought the Dawson’s Creek theme song would’ve been so ahead of its time when it comes to watching tv shows.
Stuck on a congested bridge, a commuter captures raw video on a cell phone of a woman darting between the cars in traffic. As the mysterious woman crosses the road and approaches the railing, passengers sensing the woman’s intentions, beckon for her to stop. Upon hearing their pleas, the distressed woman turns briefly, before jumping to her death. Miraculously, she survives, and that’s when we first meet our enigmatic protagonist, Prairie Johnson, a twenty-year old blind woman who inexplicably vanished from her parent’s home nearly seven years earlier. Confused, yet oddly guarded, Johnson cannot explain neither the events leading up to her disappearance, nor the strange markings carved on her back, but most bemusing of all—her preternatural ability to now see.
The OA is the latest binge-worthy offering from the pantheon that is Netflix. Released on December 16th, 2016, I finally got a chance to watch the entire first season over the weekend, and I can promise you that it’s the most deceptively engrossing and hauntingly ambiguous series that I’ve watched in a while—but it’s definitely not for everyone. Regardless, there’s no doubt The OA will be the most talked about, postulated, over-analyzed show, for the foreseeable future—that is until season two of Stranger Things drops sometime this summer. So whether you’re considering watching the show, stuck in the quagmire of the first episode, wondering why-in-the-hell you started it in the first place, or you’ve actually finished the final chapter, and are left scratching your head, I will do my best to keep this review as cogent and spoiler-free as possible.
Billed as a drama/sci-fi thriller, The OA is cinematically stunning. From its ethereally bizarre dreamlike sequences and celestial settings, and intimate confined interior spaces, along with breathy, lingering close-ups, the filmography is gorgeous, palpable, weighty and spring-loaded with tension. Apart from Prairie (Brit Marling), who is absolutley enchanting and ephemeral, the rest of the cast are both arresting yet polarizing at times. Pair this alongside themes and scenes that some might find disturbing, and narratives that at times are so far out there, so weird and puzzling, that many viewers simply won’t even make it to the halfway mark of the first episode since the show moves at an excruciatingly glacial speed which is fine for crafting a story, but painful for those eager to decipher the plot. Not surprising, it isn’t until the fifty plus minute mark of the hour-long inaugural episode that viewers actually begin to discern clues about the long, strange trip that is Prairie’s existence both in life—and in death.
The OA is a labyrinthian show, each episode building upon the last, slowly and deliberately constructing more layers, carving new pathways, drilling deeper, providing just enough clues, while loading the show with enough rabbit holes, red-herrings, and dead ends that will leave you with more questions than answers in the same vein as: Twin Peaks, Lost, True Detective, Stranger Things, and Westworld. In the end—if you’ve made it that far—you’ll either be contemplative and moved by the transcendental nature of the show or regretful and angry—courtesy of the controversial final episode—feeling like you just wasted an entire day’s worth of your life watching a television show.
Minor Spoilers Ahead. Proceed with caution. I’m warning you.
So what does it all mean? Are you sitting down? Why don’t you sit down. There might be more to Prairie Johnson’s/Nina’s story than meets the eye. After a traumatic childhood in which she survived a near-death experience (NDE)—a reoccurring theme throughout the show—and an abduction which left her psychologically and emotionally damaged, Prairie believes she is…wait for it…an inter-dimensional traveling angel. A celestial intermediary of sorts. The OA—Original Angel. So could Prairie really be an angel, sent as a messenger with the power to heal others with interpretive dance movements? That’s certainly plausible based on the clues revealed in the show. There is also evidence to the contrary, that might debunk this theory. Oddly enough for a show about angels, never once is any known deity, i.e. God or any faith, religion, or spiritual practice mentioned or referenced in the series. There are allusions to such things, but nothing concrete, nothing overt. Could she be in some version of purgatory, trapped between the living world and the spirit world? Or is she just a damaged and delusional individual suffering the mental trauma of a lifetime of really terrible and unspeakable life-changing events including: a brush with death, loss of a loved one(s), abandonment and loneliness, adapting to the cultural shift resulting from her adoption, not to mention her kidnapping, captivity, and torture, and this is her coping mechanism? Conceivably a runaway from a mental institution, possibly off her medication? Maybe she’s on one of the seven astral planes, in a coma, recovering from that jump from the bridge—if that even happened. But there’s proof on YouTube! Furthermore, what about Prairie’s fellow captives—the others, the five? Are they alternate versions of the modern day five, a band of diverse and marginalized individuals whom Prairie invites to share her story and impart the knowledge of inter-dimensional time travel and healing ways with? Or simply a cult-like quintet so desperate to find connection and belonging amidst the bleakness that engulfs their lives. Perhaps they’re all just fish, swimming in the waters of human consciousness, seemingly trapped within the glass walls of a pentagon shaped aquarium in the lobby of a hospital waiting room.
You decide—The OA is open for interpretation—and really that’s the beauty or flaw of shows that are this tenebrous. Watching each episode feels like a mixture of being in a sensory deprivation chamber with the Dalai Lama while watching Highway to Heaven, Touched By An Angel, spliced with art school interpretive dance videos—my only real complaint with the entire series, apart from the ending—and reimagined in Donnie Darko-esque fashion, without all the cheesy, preachy, and pretentious overtones. As if Sturgill Simpson’s song Turtles All the Way Down was made into a eight-part television series. Ultimately, The OA, is a methodical metaphysical zen-like miniseries—one that at times is soul-searching and other times downright WTF, but it’s certainly worth the binge. However, you may find more pleasure vacuuming, watching paint dry or waiting for water to boil more than this show, “so to each their own til’ we go home, to other realms our souls must roam, to and through the myth that we all call space and time.”
The OA is rated TV-MA
Welcome to Georgia Tech! We are looking forward to your campus visit and welcoming you into the Yellow Jacket family in 2017! Here at Georgia Tech you will learn the tools you’ll need to flourish in the world and make friends you’ll remember forever!
This freshman student received a scholarship to Georgia Tech for his stunning and thought-provoking essay on the practical applications of materials science and then not “packing.”
Hooray for student life! Look at the long line for a special screening of the hilarious Owen Wilson/Vince Vaughn comedy The Internship. Everyone enjoyed it immensely! This was two weeks ago.
For the love of God don’t let Richard use your laptop. He will look at some seriously messed up things on there. Dude is so weird. We tried to warn you, Pam! It’s your own fault, really.
Social life! Our Greek system is alive and well at Georgia Tech, even if most of us didn’t really get invited to a lot of parties when we were in high school. We’re still working out how to play drinking games; we hope you’ll bear with us!
Gary is upset that Carla and Becky used up all his aluminum foil. Sorry, Gary! You can’t stop science.
Shortly after this photograph was taken, even the TGX-1101 turned Allen down for the spring formal. Can’t win ’em all, big guy! Time for version 5.0, am I right? You’ll get it right next time!
Team up with colleagues to create great new things! Partnerships can turn creative ideas into progressive realities. Take the team of Lee Xang and Kevin Garff. Lee does the practical work while Kevin is really more of the “face man” of the operation. Somebody’s gotta do it!
Wait, didn’t the University of Louisville have to apologize for this same photo? Whoops! Moving on!
With your dining card you’ll have access to any of the high-caliber food service outlets on campus, like this one. Croissant genitals, anyone?
Georgia Tech is a great place to fail and succeed. For instance, this may be the worst K-cup coffee machine anyone’s ever put together but you’ll do it better next time, Karen! And you’ll have that leeway to learn from your mistakes!
Courtship is alive and well at Georgia Tech, and you very well may meet your future spouse or domestic partner here! Here we see the age-old Georgia Tech tradition of “waiting until a girl finally comes down to the ground so you can take her on a date.” These guys have been waiting for two days! Hope you brought snacks, ladies!
Calvin is the coolest guy on campus. Wait until you hear his free-form verse poetry about the possible global warming ramifications of methane and anaerobic peat carbon!
Georgia Tech healthcare for students is second to none. Every pregnancy diagnosed at Georgia Tech’s health services is confirmed by three weirdos. That’s our promise to you.
Your life is ready to begin at Georgia Tech! Before you know it the four years will fly by and you’ll be receiving a valuable degree and a new lease on the future. Please avoid this hornet; these students died of injuries sustained by its giant, deadly stings shortly after this photograph was taken. We miss you, Candice and Peter!
By Richmond Bramblet on ©December 30th, 2016 @ 10:00am
Happy penultimate day of 2016! One of the greatest (?) television traditions on December 31st are the New Year’s Eve Countdown shows. Every year, each network and cable news channel parades out their “top stars” for you to spend the final moments of your year with, along with musicians who had nowhere else to be. Some shows are nice enough to start at 11:30, so you only have to watch the countdown for 30 minutes, while others start at 8:00 PM for four hours of quality (?) television. If you’ve decided to stay inside on New Year’s Eve and are trying to decide which channel to watch, Funkhouser is here to help with:
Funkhouser’s Guide To New Year’s Eve Celebration Shows
8:00-10:00 PM – A Toast to 2016 with Kathie Lee and Hoda Kotb –”Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb will ring in the New Year with a two-hour, star-studded New Year’s Eve primetime special from NBC News highlighting the best and buzziest stories from the past year. The duo will even attempt a mannequin challenge, which will later be discovered to have been a self-induced alcohol coma.”
10:00-11:00 PM – Late Night With Seth Meyers New Year’s Eve Special – “In what is sure to be the most digestible show in the entirety of tonight’s television lineup, Seth welcomes Jennifer Lawrence, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Leslie Jones. No jokes here, save just a little of your sanity tonight and watch this.”
11:30-12:30 AM – New Year’s Eve w/ Carson Daly – “Host of Today’s Pop Start, (oh, that sounds like Pop Tart… on a morning show… We totally get it now) Carson Daly rings in the New Year with Mel B, with performances from Alicia Keys, Pentatonix, Blake Shelton, and Jennifer Lopez. Will J-Lo kiss Drake at Midnight? Will Drake be sporting a “The Voice” shirt around Carson Daly to continue his bandwaggoner ways? And will Blake Shelton finally get that restraining order on Hoda Kotb? Find out as the ball drops, tonight on NBC.”
8:00-10:00 PM – Dick Clark’s Primetime New Year’s Rockin’ Eve With Ryan Seacrest 2017 – “Ryan Seacrest will host and lead the traditional countdown to midnight from Times Square in New York City as he has for the last 11 years with live reporting from actress and comedian Jenny McCarthy.”
10:00-11:00 PM – Dick Clark’s Primetime New Year’s Rockin’ Eve With Ryan Seacrest 2017 – “Yes Ryan, it appears as we are still awaiting for the ball to drop here in Time Square. I’ll be down here for the next two hours deciding which guy I’m going to make out with on the street at midnight. Back to you!” – Jenny McCarthy
11:30-1:09 AM – Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve With Ryan Seacrest 2017 – “The final 30 minutes of the countdown, as Mariah Carey is the final performance of 2016. Elsewhere, Donny Wahlberg is pleading for Mark to allow him to leave the house so he can go rescue Jenny from those scoundrels in Times Square. However, Mark puts on Netflix’s fake children’s New Year’s countdown at 11:35, and tucks Donnie into bed before the ball actually drops.”
11:00 PM – 12:30 AM – Pitbull’s New Year’s Revolution – “We learned our lesson from last year and have cut out two hours from Pitbull’s New Year’s Revolution. But, in the NYE special sure to be packed with 24: Legacy commercials, Mr. 305 welcomes today’s top acts: Biz Markie, Coolio, Rob Base, Naughty By Nature, Salt-n-Pepa, Tone Loc, and Young MC, Queen Latifah and Snoop Dogg. We asked, but Da Brat declined our invitation…”
8:00 PM – 12:30 AM – New Year’s Eve Live With Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin – “Yes, this is still a thing. Yes, we know that Kathy Griffin will do something ridiculous. Yes, we know this is four and a half hours of Anderson and Kathy just standing in front of the screen as Kathy tries to take off Anderson’s pants, while Anderson says “Oh, Kathy”. We’re not really sure why we still do this, but what the hell, why would 2016 end any other way?”
Everyone loves Lego (except a person who has just stepped on a stray brick; that person HATES Lego), and in the past few years, the brand has done some excellent work to stay interesting at a time when other toys and technologies have all but replaced many of the classic playthings from my childhood. First, they partnered with incredibly popular properties like Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Marvel, and DC Comics to create incredibly detailed versions of dozens of beloved characters, vehicles, and buildings.
But even cooler than all the licensed sets is the Lego Idea Series, which essentially crowdsources ideas for new sets based on fans’ best freelance Lego creations. It works like this: somebody constructs a version of the set they’d like to see Lego officially produce. They then submit the idea to Lego’s website and set about raising support for the idea. If 10,000 people give the concept a thumbs up, then Lego officially considers the project for production. There’s no guarantee that your idea will ever make it to store shelves (I’m sure there are licensing issues, etc.), but from that point, the idea at least has a chance.
About 20 Lego Ideas sets have been released thus far, including the DeLorean from Back to the Future, the Ecto-1 from Ghostbusters, and Pixar’s Wall-E. My personal favorite of the bunch, though, was The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine set, which recreates the Fab Four’s iconic animated submersible. Yes, I got the set for Christmas, and yes, I’m comfortable with that.
During the hour or so that it took me construct the little psychedelic masterpiece, I thought a lot about some sets I’d like to see. Now, I have neither the time nor the skill to get the projects off the ground myself, but if anyone’s interested in putting one of these together, I can promise at least one supporting vote.
1. Fenway Park
There are a lot of iconic sporting venues around the world, but nothing beats Fenway for unique architecture, history, and overall visual impact, inside and out. You could argue for Wrigley Field or Yankee Stadium, but I’m a Red Sox fan going back to Nomar Garciaparra’s rookie year, so Fenway gets my vote. The hardest part of getting this one right would be making the seats, since there are 37,000-plus of them and using standard-sized Lego chairs in the stands would make them look enormous. I’d give extra credit to anyone who included a working Green Monster scoreboard, the red seat in the right field seats where Ted Williams reputedly hit his longest home run, and a little drunken Lego man in the center field bleachers wearing a Tom Brady Jersey and holding two beers.
2. Churchill Downs
I promise these won’t all be sports related, but come on, Churchill Downs is both an instantly recognizable piece of architecture and the best Kentucky-centric option for a Lego set (the Slade Shell station is a close second). This one would have to be pretty enormous to capture the scope of the grounds, but think about it: the twin spires, little Lego horses springing from the starting gate, the same drunk guy from the Fenway set gambling away his last dollars at the betting window, the Bacchanalian lunacy of the infield, all in adorable Lego miniature. There’d be roses for the winning horse, of course, and, in a dark twist, an equine physician with an oversized syringe waiting trackside, you know, just in case.
3. Triumph TR6 Trophy motorcycle
I thought about going with a classic Harley-Davidson in this spot, but the Trophy is the motorcycle that Steve McQueen rode in The Great Escape, which puts it on a very short list for the coolest motorcycle of all time. A case could be made for a whole set based on the movie, complete with McQueen’s prison cell, baseball, and glove, but I don’t know that it’s well known enough to garner the 10,000 votes necessary. Safer just to go with the badass bike on its own, so that it can be large enough to capture its every last gleaming detail. Legos are awesome. Motorcycles are awesome. Foiling Nazis is awesome. This is a no-brainer.
4. Jimmy Page’s Gibson EDS-1275
This suggestion isn’t because this guitar (or it’s owner) is the best or my favorite or whatever; it’s more that this ridiculous-looking monstrosity/embodiment of Rock ’n’ Roll excess brings something to the table that no other guitar ever has (or should): two necks and eighteen strings. Page used the guitar during live renditions of “Stairway to Heaven”, switching between the upper and lower necks as needed during the song’s seven-plus minutes. As crazy as the thing looks, it’s instantly recognizable, and it could even come with its own custom stand and a Wayne’s World-style “No Stairway” sign (which its owners would ignore, obviously).
5. The National Cathedral
I waffled here between the Wizard of Oz’s palace (too much one color) and the Disney castle (which it turns out they already make), but in the end, I went a different route, with what I think might be the most stunning building in the entire United States. The National Cathedral is located in Washington, D.C., and it’s imposing towers and gothic arches make it the kind of architectural marvel that would be so satisfying to assemble as a Lego set. Placing that final brick would feel just as satisfying as earning an advanced degree in building design, and would garner at least as much respect (from me, anyway). I should be clear that this Lego set would exist in the parallel universe where The West Wing takes place, so that it could include a mini figure of an angry President Bartlet yelling at God in Latin.
There you have it, my fully-assembled list. Don’t like it? Build a better one (or at least yell at me for not including that thing that you like better than the things I wrote about. Alternatively, you could construct one of my suggestions, submit it to Lego, and then earn 1% of all net profits from your creation. You can buy me a nice steak dinner and we’ll call it even.
Last year, I boldly made 100 predictions about what would happen in 2016. Some of my guesses were dead on. I predicted that “The election will create new catch phrases.” It sure did. The election spawned phrases like “A basket of deplorables” and “bad hombre.” I was correct when I predicted Leo would win an Academy Award. I am certain, however, that no one correctly predicted all of the craziness that 2016 has had to offer. It has been a year that the internet has deemed “the worst.” 2016 has killed a space princess, a space oddity, a gorilla and the G.O.A.T. While it has become internet cute to rage against this year, there are a few things that I would rather have died during the past 365 days. Sure, I wish things like violence and racism would die in 2016, but first we should set our sights on more attainable goals. Below is some of the low hanging fruit that I wish had died during 2016.
1. Predictions. We’ve established that nothing is predictable anymore.
2. Lists of predictions about things
3. Movies about things. (Like Jumanji)
4. Or Angry Birds
5. Or Trolls
6. Or Emojis
7. The The Lego Movie can stay. I like The Lego Movie.
8. Movies rooted in nostalgia. (like The Power Rangers Movie)
9. Or Beauty and the Beast
10. Or Baywatch
11. Or Ducktales
12. Or Hey Arnold!
13. Or Sex in the City 3
14. Fuller House Season 3
15. Candace Cameron Bure’s need to spend time on things that are NOT terrible Christmas Movies. I like those a lot.
16. Siri. I’m not impressed.
17. Or Alexa
18. Bottle Flipping
19. Filming Bottle Flipping
20. Filming the Running Man Challenge
21. Filming the Mannequin Challenge
22. Filming Doctors popping pimples
23. Filming Carpool Karaoke can stay. I really like that.
24. Tying anything around your neck and calling it a choker
25. Bathing suits with sayings on them like “Bae Watch”
26. Or “Mermaid”
27. Or “Rosé. All Day.”
28. Or “Birthday Suit.” (actually, that one’s kinda funny, it can stay.)
29. Pool floats that look like flamingos
30. Or Swans
31. Or Pretzels
32. Or Donuts
33. Whatever those pants are with the saggy crotch
34. Or Crop tops
35. I like jumpsuits. Those can stay.
36. The food trend of pretending to like macaroons
37. New Starbucks drinks like “Pink Drink”
38. Or anything from the “Starbucks Tuxedo Collection.”
39. Trying to make radishes the new kale
40. Making Poke Bowls the new Sushi
41. Using the phrase “Make _______ Great Again.”
42. Hating on Timberlake’s masterpiece, “Can’t Stop the Feeling.”
43. Pretending you don’t like any Shawn Mendez Jams
44. Pretending The Chainsmokers are a legitimate and reputable source of music
45. Numbered Twitter Rants
46. Shared fake news on Facebook
47. Celebrity fake news (Taylor Swift’s pretend boyfriends and Ryan Lochte’s fake robbery)
48. The Kardashians slow descent into madness
49. But seriously, Bottle flipping
50. #OscarsSoWhite as a hashtag
51. And #OscarsSoWhite as an actual truth
52. Listing movies like The Martian as a comedy
53. Listing shows like Transparent as a comedy
54. Movies about historic events that happened less than ten years ago
55. SnapChat filters that last longer than a month
56. Predictable TV show endings (a la Westworld)
57. Or Gilmore Girls
58. Professional athletes desire to wear large hats
59. NFL athletes being fined for wearing individualized cleats
60. Giving up hope during 3-1 leads
61. Corrupting my childhood memories with internet memes (Arthur’s fist)
62. Or Evil kermit
63.While we are at it, we can cool it on the musicals….just a little bit.
64. Adding the word “Gate” to scandals, like “Deflategate”
65. Or “bridgegate”
66. Or “Weinergate”
67. Or “Lochtegate”
68. Adding the word “exit” to an exodus, like “Brexit”
69. Or Frexit (France leaving the EU)
70. Or Texit (Texas leaving the United States)
71. Or Bragelinexit. (Angelina leaving Brad)
72. Using the phrase “Breaks the internet”
73. Or “On Fleek”
74. Or “Lit.”
75. Or “Savage.”
76. Woke can stay. I like saying “stay woke.”
77. Celebrities low key selling things on Instagram. Stay woke.
78. Still woke?
79. Phones without headphone jacks
80. People being obsessed with Rose Gold
81. People being obsessed with Ombre
82. People being obsessed with Virtual Reality Headsets
83. People being obsessed with TV shows about Pawn Shops
84. Or Pickin’
85. Or teenage moms
86. Or finding buried treasure in Canada
87. TV Shows that just won’t end. (I’m talking to you The Walking Dead.)
88. And The Bachelor
89. And The Big Bang Theory
90. Home renovation shows can stay. I will always like those.
91. Arguing if a hot dog is a sandwich
92. Arguments about birth certificates
93. Arguments about the electoral college even though it is an important discussion that needs to take place
94. Arguments about emails
95. Shows that you can’t binge (You mean I have to wait until January for This is Us and The Good Place?)
96. Blaming everything on Millennials
97. Millennials blaming everything on their parents
98. Parents blaming participation trophies
99. Predictions about how Generation Snowflake will handle all this
100. In conclusion, Bottle Flipping
When word got around last weekend that Carrie Fisher suffered a heart attack, many began to prepare for even worse news. That news came today when we found out that Fisher had passed away. Like most people, I know of Fisher primarily through Star Wars and the character of Princess Leia is what many will remember her for. Fisher brought to life one of the first true heroines in science fiction film and helped inspire generations of boys and girls to want to be leaders and fighters. Fisher proved to be a fighter until the end. She had well documented struggles with addiction which she overcame. She fought to get herself into better health so she could continue her career. She spent over a decade raising awareness for mental health issues. Like her iconic character, Fisher was a bad-ass and inspiration for millions. R.I.P Carrie Fisher.
[Grayson Allen’s suspension] gives me time as a teacher to teach…As a teacher, these are kids, I’ll look at it…it’s a learning experience and I’m going to use that and as a teaching moment…He won’t play until I feel good about the entire situation and where he is at, that’s my responsibility as a coach and as a teacher of young men.”
-Mike Krzyzewski discussing Grayson Allen’s “indefinite suspension” on Dan Patrick’s radio show
Duke Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski has long been known as a die-hard defender of his players, and his appearance on Dan Patrick’s show Thursday was no different in light of the suspension of Grayson Allen after yet another tripping incident. Some might even suggest that Coach K’s insistence upon being such a good teacher has left some of his players to falter. Take, for instance, the following examples:
On Allen’s similar tripping of FSU’s Xavier Ranthan-Mayes in Feb. 2016:
“Look, you know, as a teacher you take these kinds of moments seriously, you don’t want to miss an opportunity to teach a young man like Grayson to become a stronger person and player for it, and as a teacher that’s what I’ll do.”
On telling Oregon forward Dillon Brooks he’s “too good of a player to be showing off” after a Sweet 16 loss to the Ducks:
“I, you know, just wanted to use that as a teaching moment for Brooks. As a teacher I recently attended a seminar with other teachers in February at the New Bern Ramada about empowering students to have healthy confidence and I was just trying to pass along some of the new techniques of ‘grounding encouragement’ I learned during that very informative weekend. It’s my duty as a teacher to do that.”
On Krzyzewski’s failing to shake hands of Syracuse players after a two-point loss in January:
“I had a lot on my mind, you know? As a teacher, I had been up until 4 a.m. the night before doing lesson plans. The upcoming week is what I always call “Inventors Week,” and I like the students to not only learn about famous inventors but I like it to be interactive, you know? That’s why I have them make their own inventions. I think they like it a lot. Anyway, I was thinking about that. As a teacher, you never stop caring.”
On Duke’s 2014 NCAA loss to Mercer:
“Listen. I’m a teacher, okay? And I realize that basketball is important to Duke University, but you know what? So is trying to get the VCR from another teacher in the Humanities Building so I can show my students A Separate Peace after we just finished the unit. I signed up for that VCR a month ago and he’s kept it for too long. He’s not even using it. There need to be better rules about how you check out audio-visual equipment for classroom use. It needs to be discussed at the faculty meeting, I’ll tell you that much.”
On an NCAA investigation into forward Lance Thomas’ exorbitant jewelry purchasing 2010:
“I’m pleased that the investigation is over because as a teacher I have more to worry about than jewelry. Tomorrow is crazy hat day, and the kids always crack up when I come in wearing this hilarious hat I own. No, I’m not going to tell you what it is; it’s a secret. But trust me, when they see their teacher wearing it they always just lose it. I love those moments. I love teaching.”
On a technical foul during Duke’s loss to Virginia in the ACC Tournament in 2014:
“Sometimes I get mad. I do. I admit it. And I don’t like it when these players see their teacher get that mad. But I think a lot of that tension is relieved when these guys see their teacher put on sunglasses and a big fake necklace when all the teachers get together and make a funny rap filled with inside jokes and perform it for the students on the last day of school. Then we’re all laughing, and they see that their teacher is a human being. He gets mad, sure, but he also creates teaching moments. And he also can have fun too.”
On a 74-47 loss to Clemson in 2009:
“Sure, it’s a bad loss. But you know what else is bad? When your students come in on the first day of school and maybe they’re nervous; maybe they don’t think they’re going to make new friends. That’s why then, on the bulletin board, they see a funny squirrel and guess what? Each of their desks has an acorn with their name on it. Next thing you know they’re laughing, meeting new classmates. As a teacher, it’s my job to make them comfortable, make them unafraid and create these teaching moments. It’s the most important thing I do at Duke University.”
By Nick Roush on ©December 22nd, 2016 @ 10:15pm
Need a break from loss to the dirty cards? Want to get back to some childhood memories? Then look no further. Funkhouser brings you the first episode of the CCW (Comics, Culture, and Wildcats). This week we discuss and debate anything and everything that has to do with the Dark Knight of Gotham, Batman. The full crew of Brad Morris, Josh Juckett, Matt Mahone, and C.M. Tomlin banter back and forth with a list of questions:
-Who is the best Batman in a movie
-Who had the coolest suit, cave, Batmobile
-Is sliding down a hidden firemens pole the coolest thing ever?
Producer’s Note: I know you probably don’t enjoy listening to a recorded phone call, especially with the pop from tonight’s episode; our apologies. That’s all changing for the Funkhouser podcast next week. Please, stay tuned.
2016 was, um, something, wasn’t it? (By which I mean that 2016 was a dumpster fire: it stank, it’s taking forever to end, and if we’re not careful, it’s awfulness could spread, causing untold damage.*)
Through it all, pop culture kept on keepin’ on, however, and it certainly gave us some moments to tweet home about. In my humble (oh, who am I kidding?) opinion, here were the 5 most meaningful moments, events, happenings, or other plural synonym for a time when something happened of 2016.
1. Beyoncé ruled the Super Bowl
The world’s biggest musical star + America’s most-watched televised event = that fire emoji a bunch of times in a row. Getting Bey to join animatronic amusement park robots Coldplay during the Super Bowl halftime show was a no-brainer. Most artists play it safe, using the opportunity to revisit their biggest hits and generally please their audience. This was not that. Instead, Beyoncé stole the show, kicking off her performance with a song — “Formation” — she’d released just 24 hours earlier, a song that wears its feminism on its sleeve and claims unequivocally that black lives matter.
A lot of (sexist, racist) people were pissed (because they’re sexist and/or racist), and they blasted Beyoncé for “being political” and making the performance about something besides the crazy-eyed consumerist frenzy that is the Super Bowl broadcast. As if all art isn’t political (even, or especially, when it intentionally ignores politics), and the Super Bowl halftime show is an English drawing room where potentially uncomfortable subjects must be avoided at all costs.
In retrospect, the performance looms even larger. It kicked open a door that artists like D’Angelo and Kendrick Lamar had laid their shoulders against the year prior, and brought black experience to the forefront of popular music in a way we haven’t seen since the Stevie Wonder/Marvin Gaye heyday of the late 60s and early 70s.
2. Everyone died
OK, so, not everyone died, but it sure felt that way. Alan Rickman, David Bowie, Gene Wilder, Prince, Muhammad Ali, Leonard Cohen, and what felt like a hundred other celebrated pop culture-type folks all passed away this year, and with each successive loss, the feeling that 2016 was especially sinister intensified. Bad news never seemed far away, and almost as soon as we finished processing the death and appreciating the life of one all-timer, another crappy headline would appear on our feeds or scroll across the bottom of our TVs.
In a weird way, though, the deaths of so many popular figures had a weirdly comforting effect. Fact is, our increasingly fractured media landscape makes it harder and harder to have experiences that feel truly shared with the culture at large. But as figures we’d sung along to, laughed at, and told stories about for generations passed away, millions were able to revel in those memories together, even if the revelry was more bitter than sweet.
3. Music officially made the streaming leap
CDs are dead, vinyl is weirdly resurgent, and cassette tapes (I swear) are still a thing. But Mp3s? They don’t look long for the world, and even though streaming services had emerged as the dominant source for music fans, it wasn’t until this year that they became indispensable. When Chance the Rapper released his third mixtape, Coloring Book, and Kanye “Make America Great Again” West released his latest, The Life of Pablo exclusively on Tidal and Apple Music, respectively, it seemed clear that the idea of “owned” music, even in a non-physical form, was maybe drawing its last breaths.
There will, of course, still be fetishists who savor the crackle of vinyl, and weirdos like me who favor CDs. But even months after their initial releases, there’s no hint that either Chance or Yeezy are ever going to put out physical versions of their 2016 records. If this becomes the norm rather than the exception, and, say, Taylor Swift or Beyoncé or Adele goes the all-streaming route, then we might see the final nails driven into the coffin of personal music ownership. Whenever that happens, we’ll be able to point back to 2016 as the tipping point.
4. SNL mocked Trump; Trump tweeted his unending displeasure
Where Alec Baldwin’s Donald Trump impression ranks among SNL’s all-time greats isn’t for me to say (I know of at least one person who really hates it). But what’s undeniable is that, because of Baldwin’s take on the President-elect, there’s never been a more captivating time in the show’s entire history. If that sounds crazy, remember that no other sketch, character, host, or impression has elicited a direct response from one of the most powerful people on the planet just about every time it hits the air.
For a show that’s been declared dead more times than I can count, it’s remarkable how frequently SNL claws its way back to must-watch status over and over again. And now that Baldwin and the show’s writers know that the PEOTUS is watching (and tweeting about) the show, he’s the only audience they really have to worry about. As a result, we all end up watching the show in anticipation of what button it’s going to push and how Trump will react, which is a fascinating dynamic. Imagine if Vietnam-era military leaders had issued bitter press releases after every episode of M*A*S*H.
Each tweet confirms how thin-skinned Donald Trump is. Though every president has been raked over the coals by SNL, none of them have ever expressed much more than mild chagrin at their treatment. George H.W. Bush even invited Dana Carvey to the White House back in the day to make light of Carvey’s impression. But now we’ve got a leader who can’t take ribbing from the guy who voiced a devious lion in Madagascar 2. Sad!
5. Mike Pence visited Hamilton
In general, I don’t have a lot of love for the theater. It’s not because I don’t appreciate the stories or the skill of the performers involved; it’s just that the center of that universe is so far away from my physical location that it’s difficult to feel invested. In the same way that I don’t blame people in Mexico for not caring about hockey, I don’t blame people who live outside New York for spending their pop culture attention on other things.
But Hamilton is something different. Not only is the music from the show groundbreaking and incredible and all that, but it’s actually seeped into the culture to a degree beyond that of any Broadway production I can think of. How do I know? Two reasons.
- The Vice President-elect went out of his way to attend the show, in what I can only assume was an attempt to come across as “with it,” “cool,” and “happening.”
- When the crowd booed the Vice President-elect, and the cast prepared and read from stage an open plea to his administration to remember the kinds of marginalized people that he has at best ignored and at worst openly targeted for persecution during his political career, it made national headlines for a week straight.
In the days following Pence’s visit, Hamilton became a stand-in for immigrants (they get the job done, you know), racial and religious minorities, and the LGBTQ community at-large, all of whom have expressed serious concern about their place in Trump’s America. The cast’s statement was an invitation to the rest of the country to speak truth to power. Maybe I should give Broadway more of a chance.
*I wrote this before the Louisville game. My bad, guys. Shoulda known better.
In an era of rap that focuses on showing up another rapper or worrying more about your image, Chance the Rapper still keeps it real. His 2016 mixtape “Coloring Book” helped to earn him eight Grammy Nominations. But Chance’s nominations are not like any other artists. The Chicago-native’s latest masterpiece, like his other mixtapes, is streaming only. Chance believes his music should be free and available to anyone so they can enjoy it. There are many things that make Chance different than any other rapper, here are a few.
- He refuses to sign with a record label. Chance will not sign with a record label because he doesn’t want to ruled by someone who will tell him what kind of music to produce. A big reason for this is that Chance doesn’t want to stop talking about the topics that he cares about to please a record label. Chance’s denial of record labels came out in his top song “No Problem” this summer. With the catchy lead in of “if one more label try to stop me”, “No Problem” was performed on Ellen and shot up the Billboard Charts.
“I don’t make songs for free I make ’em for freedom. Don’t believe in kings believe in the kingdom.” (Blessings)
2. Chance loves God. And he doesn’t care who hears it. This weekend, Chance went on SNL and performed “Finish Line/Drown” with noname. The song includes a gospel choir and lyrics that talk about redemption in God. “There’s a lot of taboos in hip hop that people try and stay away from, and I think a big one is people scared to talk about God,” Chance told Good Morning America. “And I think, if you’re not free to talk about God, then you’re not free.”
3. He gives mad love to his city. You hear about every rapper giving love to their hometown. Drake and Toronto. Lil Wayne in New Orleans. Jay Z and Brooklyn. But no one does it like Chance does. Every month, Chance and his family host an open mic night at a local school or rec center to give inner city kids a chance to show off their talents. According to his Twitter, he also helped raise over 60,000 dollars for coats for those in need in 2015. Even in his music Chance shows his love for his city, but mainly his worry about the high death total. “Angels” is a song off Coloring Book that talks about the young children that are being killed on the southside of Chicago.
“I got my city doing front flips. When every father, mayor, rapper jump ship.
I guess that’s why they call it where I stay. Clean up the streets, so my daughter can have somewhere to play.” (Angels)
4. His music has matured, just like he has. His first two mixtapes “Ten Day” and “Acid Rap” were a lot more focused on smoking and being on the streets of Chicago. The latter album is what projected Chance into the spotlight in 2015. “Acid Rap” is a spectacular mixtape with hits like “Favorite Song” and “Cocoa Butter Kisses”. His first mixtape “Ten Day”, is about being suspended from school for ten days. But when “Coloring Book” came along, it was easy to see Chance had done some growing up. Chance is now a father and his given more of his time to God and his family.
5. He did a special at the ESPYs for Muhammed Ali. For those that missed the ESPYs this year or didn’t pay attention to the performance, Chance did an original song for Ali after his passing. The song shows Chance’s gospel side and the ability to write intricate lyrics. Here is the performance from this summer.
If you listen to “Coloring Book”, we can see that Chance doesn’t color in the lines. His music is just as different from mainstream hip hop as he is from other rappers. Like his other mixtapes, “Coloring Book” is easy and fun to jam to at any time. The hit mixtape has led to appearances on The Tonight Show, Ellen, SNL, and even his own Kit Kat Commercial. Make sure to tune in for the Grammys to see Chance reel in some awards (hopefully) for what was truly a creative collection of music.
As mentioned before, Chance’s music is all free online. If you want to check any of it out, go to chanceraps.com or listen on Spotify, Apple Music, or YouTube for his older mixtapes.
My life is far removed from the realities of the New York Met Gala. Honestly, the event is beyond my comprehension. I’m not even sure what is the difference between a gala and a ball (Dress code? Passed hors d’oeuvres? Bieber wears his fancy sweatpants?) Currently, Netflix is streaming the documentary The First Monday in May. The documentary outlines all of the specifics that go into creating the fanciest night of the year. It is one part celebrity, one part fashion, one part cult fascination with Anna Wintour and one part charity. All the pieces are a necessary part of the puzzle that help a Kentuckian in Old Navy jeans understand a high fashion event in New York City.
One Part Celebrity:
In 2015, the theme of the gala was China: Through the Looking Glass. While the combination of Asian culture and Alice in Wonderland seems odd in the title, the collection’s goal is to show how Eastern Culture inspires the West. The show delicately toes the line between politics, stereotypes, respect and insults. Even the politics of which celebrities get invited and who sits where gets dicey. It is like one big game of wedding table seating chart chess. However, when the combination of celebrity and fashion combine, all of the turmoil is worth the transcendence that it creates.
The emphasis on transcendence, celebrity and fashion seems pretentious at first, but once the documentary shows spinning, slow-motion starlets, transcendence seems like the appropriate word choice. It’s lovely. No one, however, should miss the symbolism that as the celebrities enter the event space they are greeted by a huge Ming vase replica made of roses–beautiful, but so, so empty. The irony of that visual is transcending in a different way.
One Part Fashion:
The First Monday in May is quick to state that fashion is often dismissed as art because it is viewed as part of “the female domain.” The collection is undeniably art. Watching Andrew fuss with fluffing the train of a dress says something. It says the ideas are worth an intentional display. They are worth being fussed with. As they are prepareing the installations and all of the board members are vomitting out their opinions, someone says “seeing too much, is seeing nothing.” What’s implied is that seeing something, gives you a viewpoint or a idea that is new and meaningful to you. Good ideas should be presented clearly. This collection has a clear viewpoint and this collection speak volumes. The ideas are souveniers we get to keep forever.
One Part Cult Fascination:
Normal Americans know Anna Wintour as the inspiration for Meryl Streep’s character in The Devil Wears Prada. She is decisive, opinionated and awesome. Her opinions are as precise as the angle on Wintour’s signature haircut. As the documentary points out, if she were a man, she might be viewed differently. We will never know how she will be perceived in that alternate universe where she is known as “Mann-a” Wintour and frankly I don’t want to know. To me, she is perfect. She is known for merging low and high cultures together. For example, her constant accessory is a venti Starbucks cup. To her, Chanel suits can be paired with a Starbucks cup that can be purchased by any lowly person. She is an icon.
One Part Charity:
The ultimate goal of the ball is to raise money for the museum. The event can easily turn into a photo gallery of “who wore what.” The lofty ambitions of the gala get dragged into the gutter with all the mainstream celebrities. In the film, there is footage of Rihanna performing during the fundraiser. She sings “B**** better have my money.”
At the Met.
With fake machine gun noises.
Like “Brrap” “Brrap” “Brrap.”
It’s an odd choice for a China: Through the Looking Glass fundraiser. I truly hope China don’t adopt this “better have my money” philosophy as an anthem.
The whole event is this odd pairing. High Art and Low Culture. Chanel and Starbucks. Ming Vases and Justin Bieber. There is an element of hypocrisy that is laced throughout (i.e. spending lots of money to make tons of money.) As the celebrities enter the gorgeous walkway, The Rolling Stones’ “Undercover (Of The Night)” plays. Initially, the song is a jaunty tune. Jennifer Lawrence walks bow-legged up the stairs to avoid falling. Sarah Jessica Parker wears a questionable fashion accessory. It is all good fun. But, after a quick google search you realize that the song is about how all the young men have been “rounded up” and how you can smell the faint smell of “suicide.” It’s deceptively dark. It too is an odd pairing of whimsy and importance. “Undercover (Of The Night)” perfectly explains how this event is frivolous and necessary all at the same time.
Sometimes, December can be a season of artificial joy. Forced merriment, and the usage of the word “jolly” is at an all time high. Truthfully, when I powered up Netflix, I sought out the #1 culprit of this faux mirth–cheesy Christmas movies. I settled on Christmas Ranch. I hoped Christmas Ranch was about a woman who owns a failing hidden valley salad specialty diner. She didn’t. It was mainly about an angsty teen who uses horses to find the Christmas spirit. It was textbook artificial Christmas and it was too painful to watch. Instead, I settled on this documentary, which was an even better example of the Christmas spirit. There is so much joy to be found in watching people do what they love. There is so much joy when you get to share that love with other people. Anna Wintour is 2016’s Scrooge, who probably isn’t as evil as she has been made out to be. Back home in Kentucky, I feel like tiny Tim in my Old Navy jeans. I’ve witnessed the Christmas Spirit in an unexpected way and want to share it. God bless us, everyone!