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KSR’s take on recent non sports related happenings
By Josh Corman on ©January 12th, 2017 @ 9:00am
I don’t want to alarm anybody, but we’re just under seven weeks from the 2017 Oscars. No, we don’t even know who the nominees are yet, but the Golden Globes are over, which means that movie snobs, er, buffs everywhere can turn their attention to the big show, where we’ll all be reminded how bad movies that people actually go see really are.
Are you ready for that? You might think you are. Maybe you watched the Globes and sent out the odd tweet or two. Maybe you gave a little shout when Viola Davis won Best Supporting Actress. Maybe you’re already sick of La La Land, even though you haven’t seen it. The specifics aren’t all that important. What is important is that you understand just how unprepared you really are for the big show on February 26.
Fear not; I’m here to help.
We’re in this together, after all. How else are we supposed to enjoy 21st century award shows if not by issuing and responding to flippant yet decisive red-hot takes on social media for the Oscars’ entire nine-hour runtime? There’s no going it alone on this. It takes a village. There is no “I” in “team.” Sorry, I’m just priming you for all the clichés you’re sure to hear six weeks from this Sunday.
Don’t See All the Movies
This seems counterintuitive, but hear me out. Logic would dictate that actually seeing all of the major nominees would improve your Oscars viewing (and tweeting) experience. You’d get all the in-jokes during Chris Rock’s monologue, and you could make measured, informed opinions about who deserves each big award throughout the night. Wrong. Seeing all the movies is only going to bring thoughtful balance to your assessments and make it way less likely that you’ll irrationally blow a gasket over a movie you’ve never seen taking home an award you don’t care about. Oscars night is not the time to be acting all level-headed. Instead, pick just a few of the major nominees (plus a dark horse; more on that later), and treat them like they’re your adopted children for the night. And nobody messes with your babies. That way, when Manchester by the Sea beats out, say, Arrival for best cinematography or whatever, you can cathartically smash a dinner plate against your wall instead of sitting there like, “Well, I thought Arrival was beautifully shot, but I can see why the gave it to Manchester by the Sea.” Boooo! Nobody on Twitter has time for your measured opinions. Go on. Let out your inner Kanye.
Pick a Dark Horse
When the Oscar nominations come out on January 24th, there will undoubtedly be a bunch of movies you’ve never heard of sprinkled in amongst the major players. It is essential that you watch one of these movies, then become irrationally attached to it. Otherwise, you won’t be able to complain about how overlooked it is, and complaining about overlooked movies is maybe the purest distillation of what watching the Oscars (and caring about them in the first place) is all about.
Think about it: everybody who cares about the Oscars is, on some level, a movie snob. They (we) are totally fine with a bunch of industry elites getting together every year and dictating to the world at large which movies and performances should be deemed capital-G Great. Earlier, when I made that joke about how the Oscars favor movies that a very small percentage of the viewing public will actually see? That was just me covering up my elitist insecurity about doing the exact same thing.
Watching the Oscars is a snobbery competition between people who are already operating at a high snobbery level to begin with. So, go on. Watch The Lobster or Florence Foster Jenkins or Elle, then bite down on that bone and don’t let go. Or, if you want to take your game to a new level, spend the entire night harping about a movie that combines middling box office receipts with nearly no nominations. I went back-to-back-to-back this with little trick back from 2005-2007 (Brick, Stranger than Fiction, and Children of Men, respectively). Words cannot describe how satisfactory it was. I was a god among men. If only Twitter had been around to hear my cries.
Take the Specific and Make it General
On the surface, it may seem like having meaningful reactions to the Oscars has something to do with how well you can articulate your thoughts about a given year’s nominees and winners. But a hot take about why Moonlight deserves a screenplay award over Fences simply isn’t enough. It’s double-A ball, if you want to know the truth. To reach the major leagues, you have to use that quick trigger instinct and apply to something much, much more substantial.
All you mountain-from-molehill superstars, it’s your time to shine.
You might think is “Moonlight deserves the Best Adapted Screenplay award because (insert reasons here; it doesn’t really matter when you get to this point).” But what you say is “MOONLIGHT WAS ROBBED!!! Just shows Hollywood is scared of anything and anybody new — and yes I said it: Denzel’s OVERRATED!!!”
See, it’s critically important that you use your immediate thoughts about these individual films to make huge, sweeping, irresponsible statements about their stars, their genres, the state of the movie industry, or (and this one gets bonus points) our society as a whole (cue ominous drums). If you can’t pull off this critical third piece of the puzzle, then all your hard work from steps one and two are for nothing.
Nobody said this would be easy, but in a crowded sea of social media overreaction, the only way you’re going to stand out is if you’re not afraid to shamelessly lose all sense of perspective.
Go ahead. You’ve got just under seven weeks to get ready. Make me proud.
I’ve been conflicted about The Good Place. The show has its moments, but can be convoluted. For example, Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell) is killed by an advertising vehicle that is selling erectile dysfunction medication. Before she died, Eleanor was a turd of a person, but by mistake she is sent to “The Good Place.” The Good Place is where there are hundreds of frozen yogurt stores and you are paired up with your soulmate. You can’t even cuss in The Good Place so Kristen Bell spends a lot of time saying “what the fork?” and “shirt!” It all seems perfectly lovely, but from the very beginning, Eleanor knows she’s not supposed to be in The Good Place. By the time episode ten rolls around, Eleanor’s cover is blown and she is trying to stay away from the Bad Place.
What’s surprising is that the perfect pair of soulmates doesn’t come from The Good Place’s pairing. It is actually between two unlikely, star-crossed lovers. Janet is a human/robot version of Siri. Jason is supposed to be a Buddhist monk reaping the rewards of a life well lived, but is actually a unrefined bro from Jacksonville. But, alas, they find each other! Jason and Janet’s wedding is only one minute and thirty seconds long. It is a compact and the perfect pairing of the sweetest soulmates on The Good Place. Even though it’s convoluted at times, this scene is a 90 infomercial for this series. So, see for yourself! Grab a few of your favorite thespians and recreate what makes The Good Place so good.
Scene: Janet & Jason’s Wedding Setting: If I had to pinpoint J & J’s wedding aesthetic it would be last-second minimalist. The venue is definitely Jason’s home and I’m almost positive that he is the DJ that introduces himself.
DJ: Ladies and Gentlemen, let’s get ready to MARRIED! <-(Not a typo) Jason: Yo! Check it! *Jason rips the sleeves off of his tuxedo. Remember, he's from Jacksonville.*
Eleanor:This is great. At different moments during our time here we’ve both thought that Tragic Mike over here was our one true love and now he’s marrying whatever Janet is.
Tahani: I suppose you are right. This is a bit strange. Jason: I'd like to read a poem.Janet, my digital queen. Janet, we can dare to dream/send nude pics of your heart to me/ Jacksonville Jaguars RULE! *Janet seems unphased that she is clearly marrying such a simple man.* Janet: Jason, when I was rebooted and I lost all of my knowledge, I was confused and disoriented and you were always kind to me and according to the central theme of 231,600 songs, movies, poems and novels that I researched for these vows in the last three seconds, that’s what love’s all about. Does anybody here object to this marriage? Eleanor: of course we do, how could we not object? Tahani: Yes. This is a terrible idea.
Janet: Overruled. (now, to Jason)Jason, do you want me to be your wife? Jason: Yea Janet: I want you to be my husband. Jason: Tiight. Janet: So, by the power invested in me, by me, I now pronounce us husband and wife. Jason: We did it! Can I kiss you or will I be electrocuted? Eleanor: Only one way to find out. Kiss him! Go get it girl! I’m just going with it now. *Jason kisses Janet. Doesn’t get electrocuted* :(
As a rule, all wedding vows should be under 50 words. This is all people’s attention spans can handle, especially when cake is implied at the end of the celebration. If you overthink it, Jason marrying a robot might be creepy. If you approach the marriage with the shallowness of Jason’s capabilities, you’ll see that this sweet marriage has a lot of heart.
But seriously, don’t over think it because I’m almost positive it is a human and robot getting married. It’s pretty forked up.
In this Funkhouser installment, I rummage through a hodgepodge of television shows and films, some of which are so obscure, you might be discovering them for the first time, others, simply forgotten about, several possibly mothballed and finally a few that just vanished into the ether altogether. This is Lost and Found: Episode 5.
There’s no telling how many months over the past year I’ve searched for a refreshing television show—to cleanse the palette so to speak—in betwixt the trendy or must-see, binge-worthy, programs, films, and documentaries, that hit my favorite on-demand network, Netflix. Not surprising, I’ve become a reasonably good scavenger, able to search the infinite catalog, flipping past countless titles without hesitation and at mind-numbing proficiency. That was until late last week, when a show I’d either consciously or sub-consciously overlooked so many times before, eventually stopped me in my tracks. After finishing the sci-fi thriller The OA—which I really enjoyed—I was in the mood for a show that looked like it was more grounded in reality, one that was less ambiguous, with fewer rabbit-holes and interpretive dance scenes, and that’s when I finally decided I’d have a go at Peaky Blinders—and honestly, I’m completely gutted I hadn’t started watching it sooner.
Originally airing on BBC Two in the U.K. in 2013, the show’s first season— consisting of six, hour-long episodes—eventually made its way over the pond and onto the streaming network almost a year later. And for two and a half freaking years, it sat there on the virtual shelf, gathering in effect electric dust, begging to be watched. Yet, for whatever reason, I ignored it, and as another year passed, a second season dropped, and then a third. Which brings me to last week, when I finally went all-in on the British show. I know what you’re thinking, great another boring, bloated, stuffy, period series like Downton Abbey or The Crown—you’d be dead wrong. Combining a solid cast of venerable actors, incredible wardrobes, and historically accurate settings and locations, along with the show’s impeccably paced and piercing writing set to a folky and modern soundtrack—the show has a lot more in common with Deadwood, but without all the graphic sex scenes. Right from the start, it’s hard to imagine how Peaky Blinders wouldn’t become your new favorite binge-worthy series.
Peaky Blinders is a nefariously mesmerizing English series set in 1919 shortly after the First World War in Birmingham, England. It depicts the lives of the Shelby’s, who run a criminal enterprise under the guise of the Peaky Blinders, a gang which take their namesake from the razor blades in which they stitch into the bills of their woolen newsboy hats. The show’s epic first two seasons, center around the gang’s leader Thomas “Tommy” Shelby, played masterfully by Cillian Murphy (28 Days Later, Batman Begins, Inception), a steely-eyed, disillusioned veteran, as he methodically builds and expands his burgeoning felonious organization, with the help of his brothers Arthur, played by Paul Anderson (The Revenant) and John, played by Joe Cole (Green Room) into a major criminal empire. After a weapons and ammunitions heist, Tommy, already notorious, draws the attention of a young Winston Churchill, deftly played by Andy Nyman (Death at a Funeral), then Secretary of State, who assigns Inspector Campbell, portrayed by veteran actor Sam Neill (Jurassic Park, Event Horizon) to investigate and recover the missing munitions. From there the series immerses viewers deeper into the seedy underbelly of post-war English life as the Shelby’s plot, scheme, betray and murder their way to the top, growing in power, but making enemies at every turn, exposing them to more complex and powerful foes along the way.
Even if you’re not into crime dramas, the show is bestowed with a sort of repressed raw energy, just brewing under the surface that’s difficult to ignore. This is possibly due to the limitless talent and depth of its cast—every actor’s performance seems effortless, including Award-winning actress Helen McCrory (Skyfall, Harry Potter), who plays Aunt Polly, but its clear Murphy is the biggest key to unlocking the show’s success—carrying the series on his shoulders and owning every scene with such gravitas.
In addition to the characters, the series offers a historically accurate look at working class English life fashioned around early twentieth century locales such as institutions like the brassy pubs, as well as steamy back alleyways, dirty and muddy streets, grassy countrysides, and the grungy and sparse living quarters of the struggling city dwellers. Each setting is absolutely intoxicating to the senses—you can almost feel the wooden floor planks bend and squeak under the weight of its inhabitants, itch from the dingy bedsheets and woolen, layered clothing customary of the time, almost smell and taste whiskey and the smoke as it wafts from the cigarettes, pipes and bellowing furnaces and foundries, and hear the sounds of the city, as feet slosh through the puddled streets, and voices carry through the thinly wallpapered walls and around hardened brick exteriors. The faint cries of children are drowned out by the bustlings sounds of the city, stuck between the horse and wagons of the past era along with the mass produced automobiles of the future.
Not only is the writing sharp, and dialogue delivered impeccably—what doesn’t sound better with a British accent—but also the music is out-and-out brilliant too. Apart from the traditional Irish folk music and instrumentals, musician Nick Cave and his band The Bad Seeds are featured consistently throughout the show, even providing the haunting and gothy theme song (Red Right Hand) for the series. Other well-known bands and artists also lend a hand in scenes including but not limited to: The White Stripes, PJ Harvey, Arctic Monkeys, Radiohead and The Raconteurs.
Take my word for it, stop wasting time and have a butcher’s before Seasons 4 and 5 drop!
Peaky Blinders is rated TV-MA
The following post is guest written by Brad Morris for Funkhouser.
Welcome to the 74th Golden Globes! The awards season kicks off with my personal favorite of all the awards shows. The reasons are the combination of an intimate setting with all the A list stars sitting around big tables boozing it up, and also Movies and TV are brought together in the same room. So we can cheer for our favorite TV shows to win *cough* Game of Thrones *cough*, while also watching and trying to understand how Ryan Reynolds made Deadpool so damn fun. So let’s take a look at the nominees. I’ve put an asterisk beside the nominee that I think and/or hope will win.
Best Picture, Drama
Hell or High Water *
Manchester by the Sea
Best Picture, Comedy or Musical
20th Century Women
Florence Foster Jenkins
La La Land
Damien Chazelle, La La Land *
Tom Ford, Nocturnal Animals
Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge
Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea
Best Actor, Drama
Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
Joel Edgerton, Loving
Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge
Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic *
Denzel Washington, Fences
Best Actress, Drama
Amy Adams, Arrival
Jessica Chastain, Miss Sloane
Isabelle Huppert, Elle
Ruth Negga, Loving *
Natalie Portman, Jackie
Best Actor, Comedy
Colin Farrell, The Lobster
Ryan Gosling, La La Land
Hugh Grant, Florence Foster Jenkins
Jonah Hill, War Dogs
Ryan Reynolds, Deadpool *
Best Actress, Comedy
Annette Bening, 20th Century Women
Lily Collins, Rules Don’t Apply
Hailee Steinfeld, The Edge of Seventeen *
Emma Stone, La La Land
Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins
Best Supporting Actor
Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water *
Simon Helberg, Florence Foster Jenkins
Dev Patel, Lion
Aaron Taylor Johnson, Nocturnal Animals
Best Supporting Actress
Viola Davis, Fences
Naomie Harris, Moonlight
Nicole Kidman, Lion
Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures *
Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea
Damien Chazelle, La La Land
Tom Ford, Nocturnal Animals
Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea
Taylor Sheridan, Hell or High Water *
Best Original Score
La La Land *
Best Original Song
“Can’t Stop the Feeling,” Trolls
“City of Stars,” La La Land
“How Far I’ll Go,” Moana *
Best Animated Feature Film
Kubo and the Two Strings
Moana * Freddie Maggard approved
My Life as a Zucchini
Best Foreign Language Film
Can’t pick a favorite here since I have no idea these films even existed *
Best TV Series, Drama
Game of Thrones *
This Is Us
Best TV Series, Comedy/Musical
Mozart in the Jungle
Best TV Miniseries or Movie
The Night Manager
The Night Of
The People vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story *
Best Actor, Drama
Rami Malek, Mr. Robot
Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul *
Matthew Rhys, The Americans
Liev Schreiber, Ray Donovan
Billy Bob Thornton, Goliath
Best Actress, Drama
Caitriona Balfe, Outlander
Claire Foy, The Crown
Keri Russell, The Americans
Winona Ryder, Stranger Things *
Evan Rachel Wood, Westworld
Best Actor, Comedy
Anthony Anderson, Blackish
Gael Garcia Bernal, Mozart in the Jungle
Donald Glover, Atlanta *
Nick Nolte, Graves
Jeffrey Tambor, Transparent
Best Actress, Comedy
Rachel Bloom, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
Sarah Jessica Parker, Divorce
Issa Rae, Insecure
Gina Rodriguez, Jane the Virgin
Tracee Ellis Ross, Blackish *
Best Supporting Actor
Sterling K. Brown, The People vs. O.J. Simpson *
Hugh Laurie, The Night Manager
John Lithgow, The Crown
Christian Slater, Mr. Robot
John Travolta, The People vs. O.J. Simpson
Best Supporting Actress
Olivia Colman, The Night Manager
Lena Headey, Game of Thrones
Chrissy Metz, This Is Us
Mandy Moore, This Is Us
Thandie Newton, Westworld *
Best Actor, Mini-Series or TV Movie
Riz Ahmed, The Night Of
Bryan Cranston, All the Way *
Tom Hiddleston, The Night Manager
John Turturro, The Night Of
Courtney B. Vance, The People vs. O.J. Simpson
Best Actress, Mini-Series or TV Movie
Felicity Huffman, American Crime
Riley Keough, The Girlfriend Experience
Sarah Paulson, The People vs. O.J. Simpson
Charlotte Rampling, London Spy
Kerry Washington, Confirmation *
It was tough to pick Game of Thrones over Stranger Things. If ST continues beyond GOT then I’ll pick it in the future. Enjoy the show!
The Globes, hosted by Jimmy Fallon air Sunday, January 8 on NBC.
Hello, Friends. I hope you’re well. Are you okay? I can’t understand what you’re saying. You’re going to have to speak more clearly. Oh! I’m sorry. I didn’t realize your face was frozen to that metal trashcan. What were you even doing to have something like that happen? You so crazy.
Friends, as we start out into 2017, it’s time once again for all of us here at KSR to buckle down and figure out what kind of content you the cherished reader would like to see on your favorite website in the new year. As I’m wont to do, I’m going to once again toss out some headlines to see what sort of things might interest all of you. After all, “clickbait” is – as we all know – the best way to gain new readers. Let me know which of these you’d like me to blow out in 2017 and, as always, I want to deliver the finest content possible. Thanks in advance.
-Is John Calipari’s next podcast guest this hilarious pooping cat?
-17 meats Boone’s Butcher shop is trying to unload right now
-What hilarious thing is Cal afraid you’ll do when you first play a competitive team?
-Celebrating the 20th anniversary of the 1996 Dance Cats’ “Counting Blue Cars/Breakfast at Tiffany’s” mashup
-Who wore it best? Bobby Petrino or this widowed grandmother trying desperately to get her grandchildren’s attention by faking a neck injury?
-You’ll never guess the secret to John Robic’s hair! (Hint: it rhymes with “Paul Prudhomme’s Blackened Catfish Schmeasoning!”)
-This drawing of Benny Snell drinking a gin fizz at the Algonquin Round Table is the thing you didn’t know you needed today!
-Totes adores! Here’s a video of former Mark Stoops assistant Tommy Mainord giggling as a puppy licks his belly!
-Four Things Bam Adebayo likes on his Chipotle burrito bowl and one other thing they offer that he declines!
-Which embarrassing Rick Pitino incident are you?
-Who said it? Isaiah Briscoe or the short-lived 1993 Fox television program The Adventures of Briscoe County Jr.?
-They put Grayson Allen on the bench after tripping someone. Wait until you see what happens next!
By Richmond Bramblet on ©January 06th, 2017 @ 10:00am
Alright, ladies and gentlemen, it is now time for what that you all have been waiting for: The Fourth Annual Funkhouser Royal Rumble Pool Contest. For years, my friends and I have been doing this contest as a supplement to the Royal Rumble Pay-Per-View. There are usually 10 of us who get together during the evening and participate in the contest. Before the match, we each put $5-10 into the pot that goes to the winner. Because there are 10 of us, we each draw three entrant numbers from 1-30 out of a hat, that correspond to entrants in the Royal Rumble match. Whatever wrestler comes out as the number we drew, becomes our wrestler. If the number we drew wins the Royal Rumble, we win the money in the pot. Also: the person who drew the entrant with the most eliminations on the night gets their money back as a consolation prize.
Last year, we ran the third straight year of this contest with Leuker (yes, the same Leuker from the KSR Football Podcast questions) drawing the winning entrant number of #30, while also winning the tiebreak against two other people who drew #30. Leuker has won back-to-back Funkhouser Rumble Pools, not unlike HBK or Steve Austin in the actual Royal Rumble.
This Year’s Royal Rumble will take place on Sunday, January 29th at 8:00 PM on the WWE Network.
The prizes for this year are yet to be determined, and much like the Call of the Day on the KSR Radio show, you may and or may not receive them. But, we’ll do our best to get them to you. Either way, still a fun way to add to your viewing of the Royal Rumble.
If you want to participate:
1. Enter who you think will win the Royal Rumble, and how many eliminations will be the most by one wrestler.
2. I will randomly assign entrant numbers to the contestants, using a random number generator. So, the first 30 people to sign up, will be listed as 1-30 in random order. If we have more than 30 people, I will do a second list again randomized 1-30. Also, if we have more than 30 people participate, and two people end up with the same entrant #, then I will go to who you picked as the Rumble Winner, then # of eliminations in your comments for the tie-breakers.
3. Watch the Royal Rumble Match, and cheer on your Superstar!
4. If your number wins the Royal Rumble, you win the prize. The person who has the entrant with the most eliminations will win the second place prize.
To help you with your selections so far (you can wait up until the Friday before the Rumble if you want to see who might be in), here is who is officially in the Royal Rumble:
I will contact, via email, the winner of the 2017 Funkhouser Royal Rumble Pool to get your contact information. So sign up in the comments below and check back during the Royal Rumble to see what entrant # you drew. I will update this page during the match as wrestlers enter the match, so if you want to comment on the Rumble during the match, you can continue to do so in the comments. Happy Rumbling!
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