KSR’s take on recent non sports related happenings
By Blake Vickers on ©July 14th, 2019 @ 6:00pm
My first writing job was as an Opinion Editor at a college newspaper. In the semester I ran the Opinion page at the Eastern Progress, I spat out a lot of stories. Some I’m proud of. Others not so much. The one hallmark of all of my stories at the Progress was that I tried to imbue them with a sense of emotion; whether that be in the form of disgust over a certain restaurant on campus loading my burger down with onions or a mouth frothing rant about whatever horrific thing was happening in politics at the time. Given the time we live in, I got political a whole lot. Be it a defense of Collin Kaepernick that shit on anyone out there feckless enough to be burning a brand new pair of shoes or multiple op-eds savaging Brett Kavanaugh, I spent a fair deal of time writing stories that were more than capable of starting a Facebook war. So why am I so nervous about putting this story out? It has nothing to do with kneeling NFL players or Supreme Court Justices who have quite possibly butt-chugged. For whatever reason, those stories are divisive. Stranger Things has never been close to divisive. I apparently exist alone as the only soul in the world who doesn’t care for Stranger Things. So until I get a biopic in the style of I Am Legend (Surely a riveting yearn depicting a grunt-y Jon Bernthal type as yours truly sitting around in a cave drinking Irish Coffee and watching Community over and over again to hide from the spooky 80’s show.), I’m airing my grievances on Funkhouser.
If anything, I’ve never seen a show more universally praised in my personal life or online than the hodgepodge of 1980’s references and rehashed stories from that era than Netflix’s behemoth. Like, I’ve literally never heard it take any criticism. Even on the fucking internet! Am I just schizophrenic or something? Has my life become a really niche version of The Truman Show that’s just about mocking the only person who doesn’t like Stranger Things?
There’s been a trend in film and television kick started in the last few years to mine the hell out of nostalgia for the decade of the Gipper and hairspray, and it’s sure as hell not exclusive to Stranger Things. IT, GLOW, Halt and Catch Fire, The Americans, Guardians of the Galaxy, Snowfall, and the upcoming Wonder Woman 1984 are just a few prominent examples of that trend. That’s to say nothing of Ready Player One, which was the cinematic equivalent of Stephen Spielberg folding up like a contortionist and giving himself a rimjob to the sound of the best decade of his life. Of all these titles, none have went pickaxe in hand into that mine with as much glee as Stranger Things. There are Eggo waffles in vintage packaging, vintage D&D campaigns, 8 track players, Ghostbusters, bad haircuts, Wynona Ryder, and more. And in the new season, there’s even a shopping mall! (Honest to god, I heard someone squeal about the mall thing in a Kroeger the other day.) It’s always felt so disingenuous. Giving the people who were around during the time a heavy dose of nostalgia, and giving those of us who weren’t an outlet to a seemingly brighter and simpler time (that in reality was still pretty fucked up). There’s certainly nothing wrong with setting a show in this time frame or enjoying that sense of nostalgia. But it shouldn’t be the reason you make the show.
Among other things, Stranger Things is also derivative as hell. Let’s take a look at all the primary story arcs on the show. There’s a group of socially outcast kids who find themselves on a mission of sorts, both fighting one scary supernatural thing and protecting another much more vulnerable and charming supernatural thing. A John Hughes-esque love triangle between a popular girl, a popular guy, and a weird guy. A perpetually drunk lawman with a tragic past on a punch filled quest for redemption, paired nicely with a desperate parent hell-bent on rescuing their missing child. All storytelling is derivative in one way or another, but it’s so blatant here. For every good compelling story beat in Stranger Things, there’s something else that does it better. You want kids on a mission? Go read IT or watch E.T., The Goonies, or J.J. Abrams’ criminally underrated Super 8 (Super 8, for those of you who haven’t seen it, was essentially Stranger Things 6ish years before Stranger Things.) You wanna see a John Hughes style love story? Watch one of his movies. Drunk and punchy cop or desperate parent? Like 50% of all action movies are this. Sure, it’s certainly possible that this is an intentional move on the part of the showrunners to ape these classic films, that doesn’t make it any less lazy.
It’s not to say that I hate every bit of this show. Far from it. I think Wynona Ryder, David Harbour, Charlie Heaton, and Mille Bobbie Brown act their asses off. That’s reflected in the characters they play. Having two younger brothers myself, Joyce and Jonathan’s manic quest to find Will hit home on multiple levels and kept me pretty engaged with the screen. The same goes for the sad, frumpy Hopper. Who, despite being a pudgy alcoholic, still came through to kick ass and unravel the grand mystery back in season 1. Even with my aforementioned criticisms, I still very much enjoyed those parts of the show. I’m not just saying that because I was essentially a louder version of Jonathan in high school and will very likely find myself a louder version of Hopper in 20 years’ time.
What ultimately weighs down Stranger Things for me more than anything else, are those little preteen shits that make up the bulk of the story. Mike, Lucas, and that obnoxious little asshole Dustin make up the most derivative and nostalgia-bating sections of a show that already leans waaay too heavily into that. The trio are paper thin and charmless nerd caricatures. But apart from not being well acted or likable, they commit the greatest sin a fictional character can commit, they’re boring. Eleven, Max, and Will are all a bit more compelling than the rest of the kids here; but like the rest of the show, they get bogged down by these low-rent, screen time eating Goonies knockoffs.
Look, there’s nothing wrong with liking this show. This is made all the more apparent by the show’s massive popularity and the fact that I’m a contrary bastard. Regardless of whether you like the show or not, it’s hard to deny that it isn’t a story that hasn’t already been told about a hundred times over. And if you like stuff from the 80’s, don’t vicariously live in the decade through the characters on the show. Go watch all those movies they reference. Play some D&D and listen to The Clash and Bowie while you’re at it. Odds are you’ll at the very least get a better understanding of the show you love so much, and the decade it loves even more.
This weekend thousands will flock to Louisville’s waterfront for three days to see talented musical acts from across the country perform at the 18th annual Forecastle Festival.
One of the most exciting weekends in the Bluegrass, it’s impossible to have a bad time at Forecastle (unless you forget to drink water; bring refillable bottles for the hydration stations to stay in the game). I am in no way shape or form a music expert, but I dabble. Like many others, I do not have the time, energy or funds to traverse the country for dance festivals. Forecastle brings the acts to me, and this year there are a few I’ve been wanting to see for quite some time.
I’m not the biggest fan of purely electric music. That’s exactly why I love the falsetto that defines Jungle’s (Ocean Stage, 8:30) groove. Like Busy Earnin, most of their videos are one-cut choreographed wonders. If their shows are anything like their videos, it’s going to be a thrill.
Chromeo (Boom Stage, 6:15) is not too different in genre. You’ve probably heard Jealous at some point, but I think their grooviest song is Old 45s. After their Friday evening show, they’re hopping on the Belle of Louisville for a midnight DJ-set on the Ohio River.
Judah The Lion (Boom Stage, 8:15) and Portugal. The Man (Main Stage, 7:15) are the final warm-ups before The Killers take the stage at 9:30. Who would’ve thought when Mr. Brightside debuted ten years ago it would be a favorite amongst high schoolers?
Between you and I, Friday is the weakest sauce. Things kick into fifth gear for Saturday and Sunday.
By Adrian Bryant on ©July 08th, 2019 @ 5:44pm
Even though 2019 is being bemoaned for its low box-office sales due to a hard case of “franchise fatigue” with all of the sequels and spinoffs hitting theaters, the year has seen strong outings from Hollywood’s biggest properties in terms of both box office and quality. Avengers: Endgame is approximately three inches away from taking the Highest Grossing Film title away from Avatar, and is also among the MCU’s best films. Shazam!, a terrifically cute superhero re-imagining of Big, did surprisingly well at the box office given DC’s lackluster filmography. While films like X-Men: Dark Phoenix and MIB: International make the franchise pool look murky, Endgame, Shazam!, and non-superhero fair like Toy Story 4 have made 2019 a decent year for franchises so far.
But this article isn’t about those movies. Shazam! doesn’t need my help in getting people to see it (although you definitely should). While my Top Ten of 2019 holds several big-name blockbusters, there are a number of small movies that were quietly uploaded to Netflix or did not attract the audiences at the box-office that they deserve. I would like to give a shout-out to the little guys of 2019 who deserve as much attention as the likes of Toy Story 4.
Alex Ross Perry’s film Her Smell is filthy. Becky Something (Elisabeth Moss), the lead of both the film and its fictional punk band Something She, is rancid. Her messy mascara overcoats the cocaine-dust foundation she applies before every gig. Becky’s band mates, ex-husband, and manager attempt to babysit her while she disappears, with or without her neglected child, to snort God-knows-what or perform an impromptu seance with her “spiritual guide.” Her Smell uses the Steve Jobs approach of using five long, frantic scenes across backstages and recording studios to track the rise and fall of Becky Something as she succumbs to drug addiction, the loss of fame that plagues all musicians, and her own refusal to live on other people’s terms.
Her Smell’s scenes put the viewer in the place of her band members and friends trying to keep her in line. We go through the ebb and flow of “she’ll get better, just wait,” “I can’t deal with her bullshit any longer,” and “I think she may just be lost.” People who have experienced addiction themselves, or have loved ones who have struggled with addiction, will likely relate to the stress that Her Smell swims in by imbuing Becky with such unreliability and instability – while still making her engaging and funny enough to see why people stick around, despite the heartless way she treats those around her. Even though the film ends on a largely hopeful note, the journey to Becky’s resolution is gruesome. Despite terrific performances from supporting players Agyness Deyn and Eric Stoltz, Her Smell is Moss’s movie: our connection to Becky Something rests on her shoulders, and Moss is unhinged and charming enough to make Becky a character worth dedicating our time to.
Her Smell can be rented digitally on Amazon Prime, or can be streamed through Kanopy. (Kanopy is a streaming service that you can access through your public library. It has a terrific selection of documentaries and independent film. On top of its quality, it is free through your library. Support your library and yourself and use Kanopy!).
Paddleton centers on the friendship between Andy (Romano) and Michael (Mark Duplass). Their lives in their shitty apartment complex is highly routine: they eat lunch together, go behind a billboard to play a racquetball-like game called Paddleton, and return to Michael’s apartment to eat frozen pizza and watch the same kung-fu movie every night. The routine is jeopardized once Michael is diagnosed with terminal cancer. Rather than living his last six months in pain, Michael decides to purchase assisted suicide medicine, which ends up being the central conflict of the film. Andy, largely in denial that Michael will die at all, tries to hide the medicine from Michael – despite the fact that Michael is mostly okay with dying.
Paddleton is so affecting because Romano and Duplass sell the friendship. The film is fairly simple thematically, but it feels more dense than it actually is because Andy and Michael are such a lovable pair. Even in their most heated arguments, the bond between the two never breaks. Paddleton is a straightforward tale about what it’s like to lose a friend, and the friendship at its center makes the loss heartbreakingly poignant.
Paddleton can be streamed on Netflix.
Alita: Battle Angel
I have been accused – by readers online and friends in life – that I am too pretentious with my film taste. I only like “high art” that makes me think; I am incapable of “turning my brain off.” I argue that is not the case, but because I don’t like half the MCU movies nobody ever believes me. So here is my retort: the love that I have for Alita: Battle Angel runs deep. In my veins courses affection unfettered for this Robert Rodriguez sci-fi action movie that has almost nothing on its mind. Critics were mixed on it, as it got an overall 60% Rotten Tomatoes score. But I don’t care. Of the thirty-four 2019 releases I have seen, it is number five on my ranking. It slaps, as the kids say.
Alita: Battle Angel’s titular character is a cyborg found in a scrap heap by Dr. Dyson Ido (Christoph Waltz). After Ido restores Alita’s wrecked body, she admits that she has no recollection of who she is nor where she is from. Alita then follows the template of an action video game. Alita explores the city, meets friends like love-interest Hugo (Keean Johnson), takes out Iron City’s miniboss criminals one by one, gets a suit upgrade, uncovers more about her backstory, fights more people, lather-rinse-repeat. It’s script lends itself well to Robert Rodriguez, whose career has been one large attempt to make dazzling action in digitally rendered environments (see Sin City and, oddly enough, all of the Spy Kids movies). But with the aid of producer James Cameron, Rodriguez uses the massive 200-million dollar budget to achieve his long sought after goal. The action in Alita is bananas. The Motorball sequence, which follows Alita’s playing of a NASCAR/soccer hybrid against giant-weaponized robots, is the most visceral action I have seen on-screen in years. Alita promises nothing more than incredible fights and set-pieces, and it absolutely delivers them.
Alita: Battle Angel can be rented digitally on Amazon Prime.
Knock Down The House
2018 saw a record amount of women (and more broadly non-politicians) seeking local, state, and national government offices. It was a year when voters saw more everymen on the ballot than they likely ever had before. Knock Down The House follows four such women – Amy Vilela, Cori Bush, Paula Jean Swearengin, and the now-ubiquitous Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez – as they join the national trend and run their respective political campaigns.
By mentioning this movie I assume countless people will call me a radical socialist cuck for even thinking to mention a documentary that focuses largely on AOC. And it is worth mentioning that this documentary follows only Democratic candidates. But Knock Down the House really is not that concerned with policy – the most political it gets regarding legislative action is examining the various reasons each of the women ran. Swearengin has seen her state of West Virginia destroyed by mountaintop removal mining and is seeing countless neighbors die from its affects; Vilela is running after the death of her daughter, which was the result of the family’s inability to cover the medical bills. These women want to fix the issues through liberal policy, sure, but Knock Down the House isn’t as concerned with their agenda as it is with their desire to do good for their constituents. All of the four women’s campaigns are rooted in a deep love for their communities and a want to better them, which makes Knock Down the House one of the most optimistic portrayals of American democracy’s future that currently exist. All Knock Down the House asks is that you believe that America is worth fighting for and that the grassroots citizenry are the people to do that fighting.
Knock Down the House can be streamed on Netflix.
– Glass: This movie joins the Alita club of Movies I Like that Critics Hate. M. Night Shyamalan’s follow up to Unbreakable and Split is a very quiet movie where all of its superpowered characters sit in a mental hospital and talk about their emotional problems. It is very subdued and very slow, but its unique portrayal of the characters’ traumas is worth staying for. Glass can be rented digitally on Amazon Prime.
– Anima: Paul Thomas Anderson’s collaboration with Radiohead’s Thom Yorke is a treat (and my second favorite film of the year), but is perhaps not the best viewing for a casual movie watcher. Anima is a 15-minute experimental short film set to the music of Yorke’s newest solo album of the same name. It looks like a dream, as the physics of its dancers feel impossible and the projection-art that decorates the scenery feels aquatic and ethereal. It it a very out there film, but at such a short run-time it is worth watching if you’re feeling adventurous. Anima can be streamed on Netflix.
– Midsommar: Perhaps including Ari Aster’s follow-up to Hereditary on this list is a cop-out, since it just opened last week. But it opened against (and was demolished by) Spider-Man: Far From Home so I don’t feel too bad. Midsommar is a hilarious break-up movie that is every bit as disturbing and gruesome as the last 20 minutes of Hereditary. It is not a horror movie, per se, but it is one of the most unsettling viewing experiences I have had. The cultish practices of its Swedish community are chilling, and the terrible deeds of its douchebag boyfriends are infuriating. It is my favorite of 2019 so far and I implore you to see it while it is still in theaters (it is great to watch with a big crowd).
For more of Adrian’s reflections on cinema in 2019, follow him on Twitter @APBryant32.
BS: In the immortal words of Obi-Wan Kenobi, “Hello There!” and welcome to another one of Bill and Daniel’s Excellent Reviews! Before we get started, we think it’s important to give you a spoiler warning, not for Far From Home, but for Avengers Endgame. If you’re one of the three people who haven’t seen that film yet, you’re gonna wanna go see that movie first because it relies pretty heavily on a plot point from that movie. We’ll keep it spoiler free for this film, but we will need to talk about that plot point! I mean, it is even in the second trailer for the movie. Just wanted to relay that message before we get started. Onwards and forwards!
It’s hard to believe, but it’s been more than two months since Avengers Endgame was released and took the world by storm, breaking almost every box office milestone and taking us on an emotional roller coaster ride that I should have prepared myself more for. I cried, Daniel cried, we all cried, we’re adults we can all admit it. It was a sprawling epic that was an endeavour just to find the time to watch, at just over three hours it was a substantial commitment. That’s honestly why I was so excited for Spider-Man: Far From Home, because it looked like such a light and fun adventure continuing the consequences of Endgame, while not being the emotional gut-punch Endgame was. In a lot of ways it 100% succeeds in that, and does so while nailing everything you love about Spider-Man but never reaching those highs from the first MCU Spider-Man film, Homecoming.
DD: That is not to say that Spider-Man: Far From Home is a bad movie by any stretch of the imagination. It is still really good and it works as a perfect capstone to the Infinity Saga in the MCU. Where Endgame packed it’s runtime with content, Far From Home leaves the characters with a bit more time. It’s as much about Peter’s life outside of the costume as it is about his life wearing it. But most of all, it’s about grief. Here is the big Endgame spoiler here for the two of you who haven’t seen it but we have to rip off this bandaid to talk about what makes this movie so special: Tony Stark died. There we go. See that was relatively painless. Tony’s death fills this movie with an emotional depth that might not have been there for any other film that could have come after Endgame. Tony was like a father to Peter Parker and was also the face of the Avengers. In a world without him, Peter is left rudderless while facing pressure on all sides to step up and be the new Iron Man. It’s a lot for a 16 year-old to handle and Tom Holland delivers a performance that is complex and at times heartwrenching. He is so good at showing the subtle signs of grief for his mentor.
BS: Beyond just showing his grief for losing his father figure, Tom Holland is an excellent Spider-Man, period. In my eyes, he’s the best Spider-Man that’s ever been put to film. Don’t get me wrong, there are great things about Tobey McGuire’s and Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Men, but I think he completely encapsulates that character and is actually still really close to Spider-Man’s 16 year old character. There’s something genuine about his Peter Parker and it feels like the Spider-Man that Stan Lee and Steve Ditko created is jumping off the page and onto the big screen. He’s a kid dealing with the ultimate power and responsibility of an Avenger and he just wants to be a kid again. As Daniel said, he’s facing pressure from all sides to step up, and in particular, Samuel L Jackson’s Nick Fury, who needs him to be the next Iron Man. Fury in this film feels like the most harsh version of the character that we’ve seen, and throughout much of the film feels like the strict parent, constantly scolding Spider-Man. He’s the dad from Footloose, and Peter just wants to dance with the pretty girl that he likes.
DD: Before Bill goes on too much of a Footloose tangent, let’s swing this review back to Spider-Man. Nick Fury is doing the same kind of things he would do with Tony Stark: give him a mission to save the world and a stern talking to that in his mind might be a motivational speech and watch as he becomes the greatest hero in the world. But Peter isn’t Tony Stark. He’s just a kid and Fury has trouble connecting with him. Peter is on his own journey and feels like he is all alone on it. Or at least, that is until Jake Gyllenhaal’s Quentin Beck aka Mysterio shows up. Gyllenhaal’s performance is charismatic and charming. He makes Mysterio incredibly likable and gives Peter someone to talk to about the superhero life. All of this ties into the narrative of the story, a story about Peter’s internal struggle between his life as a superhero and his desire for a normal life with MJ the girl he likes.
BS: Speaking of MJ, Zendaya is awesome in the role. I had reservations when they revealed who she really was in Homecoming because at that point, she had only done a couple of Disney Channel shows, but man has she really expanded and gotten better. She’s definitely not your traditional MJ, but I really liked her awkward and dark humor and her chemistry throughout the movie with Tom Holland’s Peter Parker is excellent. You really feel like you’re actually watching two awkward teenagers that like each other come together, and it’s really sweet and reminds me of interactions I had as a teenager with the girl I liked. To talk a little bit more about Quentin Beck, he’s basically exactly what Peter is looking for in a mentor after Tony dies and as Daniel said, he makes it work because of his charisma and charm. There’s even a point where he puts on an important plot device in the film, and he kind of looks like Tony Stark. While I really enjoyed a lot of the action set pieces, it was those little moments of Mysterio and Spider-Man talking about being a hero and loss that really stand-out especially really early in the film.
DD: But let’s talk about those set pieces. They are fun and action packed making use of the variety of locations that Peter’s trip through Europe opens up to them. One sequence in particular is incredibly inventive and creative, making use of everything we know about Peter’s past and making use of one of the bigger twists that is in the movie. It really is a sight to behold and ties into the world of the film nicely. While we’re at it, let’s talk about that world building. Far From Home expands our understanding of the MCU in ways that help us understand a lot. They give us a look at what the Snap looked like to people who were left behind as well as giving us an understanding of what it was like when people returned post Endgame and even some of the challenges that caused. There is even backstory for characters you might not expect to have fully fleshed out backstories that tie into the theme of Tony Stark throughout the movie. The post credits scenes (there are two and you should stay for them) really expand on the MCU and set up interesting plot points for future movies in a cool and creative way.
BS: Those post credit scenes really do an effective job of making sure you walk out of that theater with an “Oh shit” look on your face and there’s one in particular where I went through every emotion except sadness because it takes a point in those set pieces and expands it and introduces some really, really interesting characters that we haven’t seen in this universe before. Now that I’ve talked at length about why I like it, let’s get into what I didn’t. I can’t exactly put my finger on what one thing it was, but in my opinion, it just never reaches those highs that the first Spider-Man did. It can be really, really slow in some parts,and it feels more like teen romantic comedy in spots. Now I’m not against that at all, and it can be really funny when it does that, but I just felt like Homecoming did a better job of conveying that original spirit of Spider-Man and how a kid living a normal life in Queens would deal with that kind of power. Far From Home feels like a Spider-Man movie that jammed in some famous European destinations and I just didn’t really like that aspect of the film.
DD: The pacing does struggle a lot, especially at the beginning. It isn’t slow but goes from high octane action to slower paced character moments without that much grace. This probably comes from trying to merge a teen romantic comedy in with your standard Marvel superhero movie as well as the emotional climax to Endgame. It’s ambitious but stumbles a little bit on the landing. The other main problem I have is that there is a moment in the movie where the plot’s resolution comes down to Peter overcoming a problem that, while slightly hinted at, isn’t really shown to be an issue throughout the film. It feels more like the movie telling you this is a problem rather than showing you why it’s a problem. It’s not a dealbreaker and you will still enjoy the movie but it makes him overcoming that obstacle feel a little hollow.
Overall, Spider-Man: Far From Home is a really fun movie that handles its source material well. It understands the emotional complexity of its characters and their motivations and treats them like real people living in a crazy world. Peter’s journey of figuring out his role as a superhero and what kind of hero he wants to be is handled incredibly well and one moment in particular triggered my nostalgia and brought back fond memories of watching the MCU kick off 11 years ago. The movie is flawed but fun and full of heart. A lot like Peter himself.
By Richmond Bramblet on ©July 03rd, 2019 @ 10:00am
Charcon 2019, a board gaming convention held in Charleston, WV, is taking place in a little less than two weeks from July 12-14. The event held in the Clay Center is a three day love letter to all that is tabletop gaming and the world that surrounds it.
You might be thinking to yourself, what is the connection between Kentucky Sports Radio and a convention that takes place in Charleston, WV. A few weeks ago at the Origins Gaming Convention in Columbus, OH, I had the privilege to chat with the Executive Director of Charcon, Travis Reynolds. Reynolds, who appears in the above video (as well as making fun of Ryan’s pep talks in the video below), is a huge UK Athletics fan. We spent most of our time, which was meant to be discussed on the topic of board games (as he is the North American Representative of board game publisher, Queen Games), wondering about who the newest recruits to the men’s basketball team were going to be.
Charcon will have a little something for everyone. The convention boasts a huge tabletop gaming library, where you can check out any number of games you may or may not have ever played before. You will find some of the most popular titles, as well as some gems you may not have played since you were young. There will be 80+ play to win games, meaning if you check out and play those specific titles, you’ll get entered into a raffle to win that game at the end of the convention (and who doesn’t love free games?). There will also be a qualifier for the Catan National Championships. One of my personal favorite games, Wordsy by Gil Hova, will also have it’s Southeast Regional Championship at Charcon.
If Role Playing games are your preference, there will be all kinds of organized play events for whatever your favorite RPG might be. There’s a costume contest on Saturday night, panels, vendors, parties, children’s activities and so much more. Friends of Funkhouser, Patrick and Jeremy from the Blue Peg, Pink Peg Board Gaming Podcast will also be at the convention if you’d like to go say hello. If you’re looking for a great first opportunity to take that next step in board gaming, this would be a great event. For more information on the convention, be sure to check out their convention website, here.
If you’re unsure of what goes on at a gaming convention, be sure to check out Ryan’s visit to Charcon’s sister convention, Lexicon, held in Lexington every April.
By KSR on ©July 02nd, 2019 @ 2:00pm
Lee Cruse and Chris Tomlin are back for another action-packed episode of The Funkhouser Situation. KSR’s pop culture dynamic duo talk about a ton of different topics, like…
— Chris made a terrible recommendation on last week’s show.
— The Hangover vs. Bridesmaids
— A live action role announced for Melissa McCarthy.
— An underrated Brad Pitt movie.
— Favorite war movie moments.
— Is there a celebrity they’d like to meet more than Tom Hanks?
— An interesting description for the new Spiderman franchise.
— Advice for the Marvel universe.
— There’s a new Taylor Swift Feud!
You can easily listen on the KSR App, available on iTunes and Google Play. Streaming online is simple through Pod Paradise. You can also get it directly to your phone by subscribing to The Funkhouser Situation podcast feed on iTunes or via Android’s Podcast Addict app.
Today’s episode is brought to you by Jake’s Cigar Bar.
Some films have premises too outlandish for audiences to simply suspend their disbelief for. Cars, for me, is one such film, as it begs too many distracting questions for me to actually engage with the film in the way it wants me to. Are the cars born as babies and grow to adulthood? Do they have restrooms? Is gas in this world as frequent as water? If not, how did they develop the technology to create gasoline before dying off as a species? These are pedantic, I know, but there are simply too many possible implications that are too distracting from – and in this case, far more interesting that – Cars itself. Films with such crazy premises can succeed if they examine the implied consequences of their rules enough to put the viewer at ease (to draw more from the Pixar catalog, Ratatouille and Toy Story 4 do a lot of legwork to acknowledge the oddity of their worlds).
Danny Boyle’s Yesterday, though, suffers from Cars syndrome in that it simply asks too much of its audience without giving them enough in return. The world of Yesterday is the world as we know it today, and Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) is a failing musician in it. After countless years of simply playing pubs and birthday parties as one about to rock, Jack decides after his biggest gig – a crummy tent with maybe five people in it at an otherwise big British festival – to call it quits. On his bike ride home, Jack is hit by a bus at the exact moment all electricity across the globe shuts off. He wakes up in mostly the same world with one notable difference: The Beatles never existed. Jack sees the opportunity before him and begins passing some of the group’s most seminal songs off as his own. In turn he becomes the biggest pop star in the world.
Immediately the mind is filled with countless alternate reality questions. If The Beatles never existed, how can literally any of the pop music we have enjoyed for the past 50 years exist? What caused this mass memory blackout? Was there an equivalent cultural phenomenon to The Beatles in this world? What did they sound like? The film, in response, shrugs and asks us to simply go with it. Which can be fine. Avengers: Endgame pulled a similar trick (this is not going a spoiler, so please settle down) when it asks the audience to believe that the future cannot be changed by changing the past. It makes little sense, but we go with it because instead of diving into time travel gobblety-gook that no one cares about, it spends its time giving us a strong portrait of heroes in grief. Yesterday, then, could get me to be okay with the ludicrous idea that nothing has changed without The Beatles if it gives me an otherwise strong movie.
Unfortunately Yesterday is interested in no more than being a conventional rise-to-stardom picture. Jack leaves his small town friends behind in pursuit of fame and fortune, changes with his rising status, is rejected by his small town friends, keeps rising up, grows remorseful over his lust for wealth, blah blah blah. It is a movie seen far too many times. And for a movie that puts all its chips in on the cache of The Beatles, Yesterday has little interest in the band itself. While critics, audiences, and pop star Ed Sheeran see Jack’s songs as the best songs ever written, they are not very integral to the film. Yesterday could just as easily substitute the mop-tops’ hits with original songs and the film would play out no differently. The movie seems to think acknowledging the timelessness of The Beatles’ work is a strong enough love letter to the group. But by ignoring all of the ways the world would be different without The Beatles in order to pursue a by-the-books perils-of-fame movie, Yesterday does exactly what its lead character does: it uses The Beatles to make itself look like a seminal work of art rather than the stale heel of Wonderbread that it is.
What makes Yesterday‘s complete waste of its premise even more frustrating is the glimmers it has of the movie it could be. The cast is genuinely stellar, even if given one-note roles to work with. Lily James stars as Jack’s hometown romance, and the chemistry between James and Patel is deeply palpable. Even if the will-they-won’t-they arc they are given is easy to predict, the two actors give their characters enough humor and charm to make their moments on-screen together the best scenes Yesterday has. In their conversations we also learn what other cultural touchstones have disappeared, as Jack casually mentions cigarettes and Oasis only to find in a quick cutaway Google that they (and others I won’t spoil simply due to their hilarity) have gone away. Of course those lead to more questions, and while I can overlook them as they are used as genuinely great jokes, I can’t help but wonder what the Idiocracy version of this movie would look like where the pop-culture is wholly different without five or so components.
Even with its charming components, Yesterday is unable to rise above the Dark Web conspiracizing its premise prompts because it has no interest in trying. It ignores the implications of its universe which are, just like Cars, far more interesting than the movie we get. I don’t want my criticisms of film to be about what a film could be rather than what it is, but the nature of Yesterday‘s hypothetical insist that the mind wander toward its butterfly effects – someone has to ask those questions, and unfortunately it has to be the audience rather than the film itself. In those consequences of a Beatle-less world is a true testament to the timeless value of the band, and if Yesterday claims to be a love letter to the group it would focus on the damage without them rather than assuming everything would be the same.
You can follow Adrian on Twitter @APBryant32 for more thoughts on film and consistent reminders that Beatle-Mania never died.
By KSR on ©June 25th, 2019 @ 10:00pm
The Funkhouser Situation is back in action. Lee Cruse and Chris Tomlin talk about all the latest in the world of pop culture, like…
— How is the latest Secret Life of Pets?
— What kind of dog would Chris play?
— A thrilling movie recommendation.
— Why do people put Meryl Streep on another level? What makes her so great?
— A review of the latest Toy Story and its transformation throughout the years.
— Are there any franchises that rival Toy Story?
— A profession the podcast learns about in this episode.
You can easily listen on the KSR App, available on iTunes and Google Play. Streaming online is simple through Pod Paradise. You can also get it directly to your phone by subscribing to The Funkhouser Situation podcast feed on iTunes or via Android’s Podcast Addict app.
Today’s episode is brought to you by Jake’s Cigar Bar.
I have discovered that my routines and tastes are seldom dictated by season. My girlfriend asked me recently what my favorite summer food was, of course thinking in terms of bar and grille food that people love to make during summer cookouts. But burgers, hot dogs, wings, cheese sticks, and other greasy gastrointestinal nightmares are the bulk of my diet year round (and my rapid consumption of such food is the reason I will inevitably join the 27 Club).
Music is the exception to my season-ambivalent taste. My music interests skew toward pop in general, but the summer is when I find myself replaying the same ten or so records repeatedly, screaming along to them and dancing incessantly in my car – much to the chagrin of my neighbors and passengers. Summer is a time for unabashed joy, and listening to energetic music is the best way to achieve the bliss that summer requires. Narrowing my favorite summer records down to four was a painstaking task completed with the spillage of blood, sweat, and tears by the gallons. But injuries aside, below are my four favorite records to annoy my neighbors with as a blast them down the street with the windows down.
You Get What You Give – Zac Brown Band (2010)
Zac Brown Band shot to fame in 2008 by pandering to country music’s worst tendencies with their torpid single “Chicken Fried,” a glorified listicle of all the things mindless country songs must bow to: fried chicken, cold beer, jeans, pecan pie, what have you. I would normally take this song as a warning that ZBB was only interested in appeasing the mainstream country music fanbase but their first album The Foundation – from which “Chicken Fried” cursed the land – had astounding promise. Songs like “Where the Boat Leaves From” and “Jolene” showed that they had influences ranging from reggae to blues ballads. While The Foundation was more often cliche than not, it had some gems.
Thankfully, Zac Brown Band used their massive platform in 2010 to create a genuinely unique record that country radio was not prepared for. At its absolute worst, You Get What You Get What You Give is boring: “I Play the Road” and “Colder Weather” are fine songs, but fall too close to feigned schmaltz. The rest of the record, though, is Zac Brown Band doubling down on their love for beach bum reggae and stadium rock, almost eschewing their ties to country music. “Knee Deep,” one of the band’s many odes to the breezy ocean shore, opens with a deceptively complicated to play (but easy to listen to) lick that opens the doors for Brown’s sultry voice to remind us why sitting in a chair, mind still and effort nonexistent, is a good thing to do from time to time.
Just as easily as they uplift relaxation through soothing reggae, they show their rock chops in “Quiet Your Mind,” the band’s best song to date that would animate a packed-arena crowd like few other country acts would. “Quiet Your Mind,” despite its pounding electric slide guitar, is embedded with the same message that the whole album, musically and lyrically, carries: just take a breather. You Get What You Give is a testament to the power of rest. And even though the majority of the songs are remarkably bouncy, they make you calm and peaceful because the band is constantly reminding you to forget your stress. It is the perfect summer album because it is the embodiment of vacation: replenishment through activity.
Summerteeth – Wilco (1999)
In an interview promoting Summerteeth, Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy said pop music could be “subversive in some ways,” because it allows one to embed dense ideas that may be off-putting to a listener on their own within happy-go-lucky tunes. Pop can be used as a massive bait-and-switch, because “people would be humming [the song] for a year or maybe a week… before they fully get what the lyrics are about.”
If Summerteeth was conceived as the Thinking Man’s Pop Record by Tweedy, the project deftly succeeds. Summerteeth, lyrically, is one of the more frightening records I have ever listened to. It is a contemplation on the aggression that romantic relationships, if kept off-guard, can easily drift towards. “She’s a Jar,” a song indebted to the easy listening styles of Bob Dylan, presents itself as a “Hey There Delilah” song written by and for wistful college lovers – that is until it takes a dark turn toward being a song on domestic violence. But the shift is so easy to miss once locked into the music’s trance. Such musical skill, though on subjects often less brutal, is used throughout the whole album. It demands multiple listens because it easily sneaks its poetic ruminations past you through its relentless sonic joy.
Of course, the album isn’t all masked gloom and doom. “Via Chicago,” the album’s darkest song, marks an important shift: if all the songs up to and including “Via Chicago” are about how relationships crumble, all the songs after “Via Chicago” are about picking the pieces back up. Summerteeth is a very hopeful album, even if it takes time to get to its optimistic side. But the road there is seamless, and the kineticism of songs like “A Shot in the Arm” and “I’m Always in Love” make for some of the most summertime driving songs out there. They are reminiscent of Wilco’s alt-rock contemporaries Weezer and Coldplay, except Wilco’s ambience is coded with enough technical skill to keep it from sounding like plodding anesthesia (sorry not sorry Coldplay fans). Summerteeth is a purposefully deceptive record, but even at its bleakest Wilco manages to make it an obvious album to turn on when the sun is out and the grills are on.
Malibu – Anderson .Paak (2016)
I doubt Anderson .Paak is a huge Wilco stan, but Malibu follows a very similar philosophy of putting unapologetically confrontational subjects in a blindingly sunny setting. .Paak is a bit more direct with his intent, using the mid-tempo opening track “The Bird,” to establish his character. He grew up in a fatherless house with a gambling addicted mother, with the only luxury of his poverty-stricken youth being love. The rest of the album tracks one relationship and the ways in which .Paak’s arrogance, sexism, and proclivity for cheating ruin his romance. Concept albums seldom work, but .Paak manages to make this single-story LP deeply impactful.
While it is the best written album on this list, the true reason to turn on Malibu is to be transported to the city itself. .Paak combines influences as diverse as The Beach Boys and Stevie Wonder to create an R&B album drenched in the sweat of a surfer. Several audio clips from various documentaries about the thrill of surfing punctuate songs, and the music itself carries listeners over waves with its endless breeziness. Malibu is always groovy but never pounding. “Parking Lot” almost makes you smell the salty Atlantic, overlaying a windy synthesizer over the funky pace of his drums. “Put Me Thru” and “Am I Wrong” are the most danceable tracks (and you certainly will dance), and both display the wave-like range of .Paak’s voice: he can shift effortlessly from pit-patter rapping to skillful harmonies that rival any church choir. If Zac Brown is sitting on the shore drinking a beer, Anderson .Paak is riding the ocean blue in front of him.
Recreational Love - The Bird and the Bee (2015)
I am an English major and a regular writer here at Funkhouser, so I generally have a relentless urge to read into everything I consume, from books to movies to music. Even in this list that is supposedly about the best albums to blast in your car mindlessly, I have dived deep into the waters of interpretation. It is an uncontrollable tendency.
With that said, I have no clue what The Bird and the Bee’s Recreational Love is about. And frankly, I don’t care on bit. For me to like a song, it only has to accomplish one of two things: make me feel something emotionally, or make me dance. Thankfully, given my criteria, Recreational Love’s one and only goal is to make people dance. And it succeeds with flying colors.
An unofficial genre of music exists in my mind called “Department Store Pop.” Department Store Pop is the music you hear in American Eagle or Aeropostle. Its electronic beats and simple melodies sound so pastel and bright that you think you will go insane from how hard it is trying to make you happy. Recreational Love is Department Store Pop as made by geniuses. “Young and Dumb” begins with the synthetic bops of the Nintendo Wii’s homepage music set against a typical bass-clap drumbeat. But where most Department Store Pop would take these components and maximize them to the brightest setting, Greg Kirsten (the man behind the beats, who has produced music for the biggest names in music, from Sia to Adele to Paul fucking McCartney) keeps “Young and Dumb” remarkably minimalist. Even Inara George, a relentlessly talent vocalist, keeps her performances smooth and low. It has just enough to compel involuntary dancing, and that’s all it needs. Recreational Love keeps this minimalism intact throughout its brief 35 minute runtime. Songs like “Los Angeles” and “Runaway” bring the cheeriness of 80s pop to a modern setting while shunning the overwhelming indulgence of 80s music. It is the happiest album I have heard, and to play it in the beaming sun of summer is to create the ideal marriage between sound and season.
Honorable Mentions (As Picked By Twitter)
I asked Twitter followers what albums they blasted in the summer. Recommendations by my very tasteful followers include:
– Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by The Beatles (you may have heard of them)
– Coloring Book by Chance the Rapper
– Cosmos Factory by Creedence Clearwater Revival
– Life and Times by Jim Croce
– High as Hope by Florence and the Machine
For more of Adrian’s excited rambling on songs of the summer, follow his radiant Twitter feed @APBryant32.
In 1990, Terry Pratchett, acclaimed British satirist and creator of the Discworld fantasy series, and Neil Gaiman, a then-rising talent known for dark meditations on mythology like Sandman and American Gods, joined forces to find out what two demons were doing lurking in a graveyard. The result was the instant classic best-seller Good Omens. Never before or since has the apocalypse been so enjoyable, so heart-warming, or so very, very British. I am happy to say that the Amazon Prime TV adaptation of the same name, directed by Douglas Mackinnon, is every bit as wonderful as the source material, if a little less biting.
Here’s the basic pitch: An angel, Aziraphale, and a demon, Crowley, have “gone native” and find themselves enjoying their time on Earth, as well as the humans that inhabit it. After decades of cautious friendship, the two join forces to try to avert Armageddon by preventing the Antichrist from activating his powers. Unfortunately, when their charge comes of age, they realize they’ve been keeping track of the wrong kid – they’ve mislaid the Antichrist. With less than a week until the end of the world, the pair is in a race against time to save the planet both Heaven and Hell want to destroy.
This novel is challenging to adapt for television in the best of circumstances, and I will admit to being nervous about it. Good Omens the book is a sprawling story in every sense of the word, stretching from quiet countryside gardens to Satanic convents to the deepest pits of Hell. It keeps multiple plates spinning in the air at all times, including a giant cast of characters, the looming threat of the end times, baffling prophecies, and a narrator who can’t seem to decide whether to praise humanity’s flaws or condemn them. Not all these plates stay afloat even in the novel (I’ll get back to this), so deciding which would make the final cut in an adaptation must have been a monumental task. Fortunately, the man doing the adapting was none other than the novel’s co-author Neil Gaiman.
Gaiman is massively successful in penning the screenplay, capturing the warm-hearted spirit of the apocalyptic satire. He has wisely eliminated some of those spinning plates and focused more exclusively on the two main characters, Aziraphale (played by Michael Sheen) and Crowley (David Tennant). Several memorable new sequences involving these two have been added, and they only serve to deepen your love for these characters, while also bringing the story to perhaps a more satisfying conclusion than what was presented in the original novel (in my opinion). Sheen and Tennant have excellent chemistry, and fully embody their roles in what are sure to be iconic performances. Sheen dithers along as the fussy, naïve angel, and Tennant’s arrogant swagger alone should be enough to earn him an Emmy. The scenes they share are easily some of the best in the series. You don’t just believe these two supernatural entities care for each other – you feel it deep within your bones in each and every one of their conversations as Aziraphale stares fondly into Crowley’s yellow snake-eyes.
As the world races on towards destruction and the cast balloons, we’re treated to even more talented British (and not-so-British) actors. Jack Whitehall shines an unlucky witchfinder, and Adria Arjona brings an air of no-nonsense girl power to Anathema Device, the witch he eventually finds. A plucky cast of newcomers plays the young, impressionable Antichrist Adam Young and his three loyal (human) friends, known collectively as “Them,” the best collection of child actors on television since Stranger Things. Ned Dennehy is particularly hilarious as Hastur, a demon who incompetently dogs Crowley throughout the miniseries, and Jon Hamm brings cheerful bureaucratic menace to the warmongering archangel Gabriel.
These characters are only a small portion of the overall cast, which brings me to the only real flaw in both the novel and the TV series – the cast becomes so sprawling that at times the narrative begins to feel a little bit uneven. The trimming of several non-essential characters and plots has greatly helped this in the adaptation, as has the renewed focus on the two main characters, but the plot can sometimes begin to feel unfocused and a mite confusing.
Part of this is intentional: Good Omens shares the same non sequitur pacing as classic British comedy shows like Monty Python, jumping from one unrelated scene to another. If you’re unsure whether you’ll like this style of storytelling, it makes itself very apparent in the opening minutes of the show, so you’ll be able to quickly judge whether it works for you. Even though Gaiman has somewhat streamlined the story, it’s still full of many of the wonderful asides that make the novel so memorable and its world so rich. And the genius of Good Omens is the final realization that none of these seemingly unconnected scraps were unconnected after all – each one was necessary to get us to our final destination.
Setting aside the few added scenes and the even fewer lost ones, Good Omens is a surprisingly faithful adaptation of the source material, right down to the wry, all-knowing narrator (Frances McDormand as an exuberantly ineffable God). I was personally both overjoyed and shocked by how closely the series clung to the novel, both in terms of plot and character. I’m so used to blockbusters not trusting a story enough to put butts in seats (looking at you, Hobbit), that a piece of media that is so trusting of the authors’ original vision is a breath of fresh air. Sometimes an added action set-piece isn’t necessary to build tension and raise stakes.
The TV-MA rating is probably necessary. Parents, there are a few dropped f-bombs (one very memorably by Aziraphale, one of Sheen’s best line deliveries), and some non-graphic nudity, as well as a troubling scene involving the crucifixion of Jesus that made me wince and think, “Wow, they really went there.” On the whole, however, the adaptation is missing some of the book’s sharper edges. The series touches on the book’s eviscerations of fast food, capitalism, and humanity’s environmental misdeeds, as well as the human tendency to overvalue one’s individual importance, but all of that feels a bit softer in the TV series. This isn’t entirely a bad thing, and I would argue that for this series the decision to move further away from satire and more towards a heart-warming tale about the power of human love made for a more accessible and pleasurable viewing experience. It gave me the warm and fuzzies.
More than anything else, Good Omens is simply a pleasure to watch. At its core, it is a story of people who are told not to love and care for each other daring to do it anyway. An angel and a demon who save each other throughout history. An Antichrist who comes to love the place and the people he was born to destroy. Witch-hunters who find belonging among witches. The list goes on. Good Omens posits that for all the flaws Heaven and Hell see in Earthlings, the human capacity to love when tradition and society insists one should hate is the greatest weapon at the end of the world. It’s an inspirational and optimistic idea that could, dare I say it, change the world. Or at least end it.
Go watch this series. I give it 9 out of 10 misplaced flaming swords.
May of 2019 saw HBO end two of it’s most famous shows. One of those endings was to the inescapable and ever infuriating Game of Thrones. To say that fan reaction to GoT’s conclusion was mixed would not only be an understatement, but an incredibly charitable one at that. While I personally feel that the ending itself is passable (as in some of the individual endings for several of the characters were fitting, but the whole thing falls apart as soon as you put any critical thought into the ending as a whole), most did not. In the wake of all the drastic heel turns and fan petitions brought about by the final season of GoT, HBO’s unfinished masterpiece quietly came to a satisfying conclusion in a feature length TV movie. For three glorious seasons, Ian McShane’s Al Swearengen taught us increasingly vulgar and poetic ways to tell someone to fuck off in the hypnotically entertaining Deadwood. In one of the most scrutinized and idiotic moves in television history, HBO pulled the plug on the western, with the condition that the series would be wrapped up in the form of a movie. It took 13 years, but Deadwood: The Movie finally arrived, and it was absolutely worth the wait.
Set in the real life South Dakota town in 1876, the series tells the story of its inhabitants and their quests for greed, purpose, or both. As much as I hate to keep on parroting the GoT comparisons, it’s only natural to do so. If Game of Thrones was low fantasy, than Deadwood was a low western. Gone are the clear cut white and black hats of the westerns of yore, the virtuous cowboys and submissive damsels in distress that have become tropes of the genre don’t exist here. That’s not to say they’re aren’t any good guys and bad guys on this show. Far from it, they’re just a little more unconventional. Of the most outwardly heroic characters on the show, one is conflicted and perpetually enraged, while the other is essentially an alcoholic version of Brienne of Tarth. And, yes, they’re both amazing. There’s a layer of grime that coats the entire town and the people who live in it. Theft, murder, gambling, betrayal, corruption, prostitution, and a shit ton of old time-y drugs like opium litter the nasty world that creator David Milch imagined. Deadwood exists in a grim and realistic reality (it should be pointed out that most of event on the show are inspired by real incidents and people) where the story rarely goes in the direction it’s supposed to. There are very rarely any shootouts that have become a western staple, and on the occasion when they do happen, it’s quick and brutal. Mud and shit cake every inch of the ground within the city limits; whilst prostitution and addiction are treated with the ugliness that the subjects warrant. And if you’re looking for that trademark HBO sexiness, you’ve come to the wrong place. To paint a clearer picture of this, one episode you’ll be treated to some full frontal nudity from a pre-Parks and Recreation Nick Offerman.
If you come to Deadwood for an unpredictable plot and the ol’ sex/drugs/violence trifecta, you’ll stay for the characters. The cast is led by Timothy Olyphant playing an angry lawman years before he was one in Justified. The series begins with Olyphant’s ice eyed Seth Bullock hanging a criminal before departing for Deadwood to make his fortune with his partner Sol Star. The two make a good pairing, with the happy go lucky Sol bouncing well off of the ridged and soft spoken Bullock. It’s that sense of rigidness, combined with a strong sense of justice and a simmering rage that make Bullock’s interactions within the town and its largely criminal populace so compelling. Countering the heroic Bullock is the aforementioned Al Swearengen, crime lord and owner of the Gem Saloon. Swearengen is iconic, a hyper intelligent cut throat and quite possibly the foulest mouthed character in the history of television. Despite his criminal activities and abrasive nature, most of the town looks to him for council, and he truly does care for its prosperity. Developing into a community leader of sorts over the shows run-time.
Several different parties come into play amidst Bullock and Swearengen’s head-butting. Among them are the legendary Wild Bill Hickock, the kind hearted and laudanum addicted Alma Garrett, the vicious brothel owner Cy Tolliver, resourceful prostitute Trixie, and the seemingly brutish “Calamity” Jane Canary. These are just a couple of the colorful, brilliantly written residents of Deadwood. The stories they find themselves in are incredibly easy to become invested in. Be they mundane or epic, you’ll find yourself glued to the screen. This includes everything from Sol and Trixie’s love story to Al dealing with a really bad case of kidney stones. I swear to god, this show is so well written it makes Ian McShane pissing out rocks into must see television.
Deadwood is at its best when it’s balancing extremes. Between the vulgar and the wholesome, hilarity and heartbreak, ugly and beautiful. You’ll gag when your eyes are subject to Ron Swanson’s dick, but find yourself a weeping mess later in the episode when Calamity Jane cares for an ill child. The sheer level of nastiness in Al’s famous monologues will make you wince, but not before you see the Shakespearean wordplay within them. It’s a show that straddles the line in almost every sense, but makes it work. For all of Deadwood’s tendency to bulk narrative conventions, it never does so at the sake of the characters. This never becomes more apparent than in the recent TV movie that wrapped up the series. Unlike Game of Thrones, the ending here was never about throwing in as many shocking twists as possible, but providing a fitting and emotional goodbye to the characters that fans have grew to love some 13 years ago when the show was unceremoniously axed. At three seasons and a movie, Deadwood isn’t a very long show. But it’s an unforgettable one, with some of the most beautiful character work and dialogue ever to grace television. And unlike most TV shows, this is of course considering the movie, it has one helluva ending too. As of this writing, it’s been almost a week since the film’s premiere and I’m still thinking about it. So crack open a bottle of some rotgut whiskey (Old Crow is a good choice for this) and start watching. In the words of the great sage Al Swearengen, “Welcome to fuckin’ Deadwood! Can be combative!”
By KSR on ©June 04th, 2019 @ 7:30pm
Lee Cruse is back in front of a microphone with Chris Tomlin in a new episode of The Funkhouser Situation. In his first public comments since his dismissal from WLEX, Lee explains what happened, where he went wrong and what he’s done since the events unfolded.
The rest of the show is what you’ve come to know and love from KSR’s pop culture podcast.
You can easily listen on the KSR App, available on iTunes and Google Play. Streaming online is simple through Pod Paradise. You can also get it directly to your phone by subscribing to The Funkhouser Situation podcast feed on iTunes or via Android’s Podcast Addict app.
Today’s episode is brought to you by Jake’s Cigar Bar.
By Hayden Adams on ©June 02nd, 2019 @ 9:00pm
Walker Carl Montgomery, son of John Michael Montgomery and nephew of Eddie Montgomery of Montgomery Gentry (no relation to Kentucky Basketball forward E.J. Montgomery) is a rising star in country music.
Walker was kind enough to agree to an interview with Kentucky Sports Radio and let people get to know him better as he continues to forge his path in the music world.
Q: Just to let people get to know you a little bit better, where are you from?
A: I’m from a little town called Nicholasville, Kentucky. It’s about 30 minutes south of Lexington in Jessamine County. But I’m currently living in Nashville, Tennessee.
Q: How old are you?
A: I’m 21 years— I mean, well, I’m 20 years old. It sucks, but…
Q: What’s your favorite thing about Kentucky?
A: It’s home. I was born and raised there and that’s who I am: I’m a straight up Kentuckian. So, just being able to go out and see the beauty of the countryside and the good times of downtown Lexington. I mean it just makes it home, really.
Q: What’s your favorite place to perform?
A: Manchester Music Hall in Lexington, without a doubt.
Q: Favorite UK or Kentucky sports moment in general?
A: My favorite Kentucky sports moment… aw hell, it’s gotta be the overtime [football] game in 2007 for LSU… LSU vs Kentucky when LSU was No. 1. That’s definitely my favorite moment.
Q: When did you first get into music and performing?
A: Well I was doing high school choir and stuff at Sayre [High School]. But you know I didn’t really start performing out until I was a sophomore in high school I guess. We were performing in the restaurants and honky tonks around Lexington and stuff. So, I started doing my thing probably sophomore year of high school.
Q: When did you know music is what you wanted to do for a career?
A: Well, I mean, the first time I got on stage I fell in love with it. I really did. And, you know, when “Simple Town” was written, that was when I was starting to get what I was wanting to do and, you know, really start to pursue it and start to make it down to Nashville.
Q: Is there a favorite performance of yours that really sticks out in your mind?
A: Man, every single one of ’em. Any time I get to play “Simple Town” or another song of mine and I see people singing back, singing my songs, that becomes the new highlight.
Q: Who’s your favorite singer?
A: My favorite singer of all time is Randy Travis.
Q: What’s your favorite music genre outside of country?
A: OK, this might come as a shock. Not a lot of people know this, but I strictly listen to these two genres: country and, like, 1930’s big band swing music… I love the Frank Sinatra’s and stuff, all that stuff. Those were the good ol’ days, man. That was the greatest generation.
Q: What’s your favorite song of your dad’s and your favorite song of your uncle’s?
A: Of my dad… well, hell, man that’s a hard question right there. My dad’s song is probably a song called “Even Then”. And then Eddie’s got a song called “Scarecrows”.
Q: What does it mean to you to be related to two country music stars?
A: Well, I mean, you know, it’s just who I am and obviously they’ve influenced who I am in country. But I think my songs will, uh… “separate” isn’t the right word, but kind of show that, you know, I’m not just John Michael’s son or Eddie Montgomery’s nephew, but that I’m a separate Walker Montgomery. I think my songs will show that. But they are great influences and I love them very much.
Q: What or who has been your biggest influence?
A: My biggest influence has definitely been my grandfather; I call him “Papa.” Just being a mentor and a friend and the greatest granddad that anybody could ever have, he’s definitely been my biggest influence. And in life, not just the musical realm, but, you know, going to Church and in music and everything, just in life in general.
Q: What has been the biggest challenge for you so far in the music industry?
A: Well, I mean, the biggest challenge [is] just trying to be creative all the time and trying to get the songs that I think people want to here and want to relate to down on paper, and putting the pen to paper. But, you know, a guy named Tracy Lawrence once told me, “if you’re not having fun in this profession, you’re in the wrong damn profession.” So, you know, if something hard pops up, my mentality is still that, you know? I still gotta have fun, and I get to go out and play music for a living. So that’s about the best a man can ask for.
Q: Do you have any advice for people who are trying to get into music?
A: Play whenever you can, write whenever you can. It doesn’t matter if there’s five-thousand people in the crowd or five people in the crowd. Give the same show you would to a five-person crowd as you would to a five-thousand-person crowd and let them know that you appreciate them coming out and supporting your music.
Q: When it’s all said and done, what do you want your legacy to be?
A: Well, you know, I mean, just… real life country music. I want my songs to be able to pull at people’s heartstrings whether it’s a happy song or a sad song or just, you know, a mid-tempo song. I think that if you can pull on someone’s heartstrings, you’ve got ’em hooked for a song. And I just want relatable songs to be out there for people to hear.
Go to www.walkermontgomery.com for more on Walker’s music and background as well as ticket and touring information. You can also sign up for free news updates by email.
Hey everybody, time for another one of Bill And Dan’s Excellent Reviews, where Bill Sheehy and I tag team a movie review. This time we are going to be reviewing Godzilla: King Of The Monsters. As always you can figure out who is writing what by whether or not the text is bold and also by our initials. DD = Daniel Dunston. BS = Bill Sheehy. Now let’s get going.
DD: Before we get into the review proper, I think it is important to give some context about each of our connections to Godzilla as a character and as a film franchise. We should establish that early on to call out any biases we might have towards the big guy. Personally, I love Godzilla. I have fond memories of coming home from church on Sundays, eating lunch, then sitting down with my dad in front of the TV as he put on a VHS tape of a Godzilla movie. We settled in for an afternoon of watching people in rubber monster costumes punching each other. It sounds silly, but there was a charm to those old movies. The plots were goofy and the special effects were practically nonexistent, but usually, everyone working on the movies seemed to be having fun. I have probably seen every Godzilla movie multiple times, even the spinoffs about Mothra and Rodan. I remember hearing the Jet Jaguar song and watching Godzilla’s son grow up to become the new King of Monsters. I have played multiple Godzilla video games and read many a comic book series about the creatures of Monster Island. I saw the 1998 Godzilla and 2014 Godzilla film in theaters multiple times. Basically, I am a huge fan.
BS: My connection to Godzilla isn’t nearly as strong as Daniel’s, and I think it would be a stretch to call myself a fan of the series. Hell, I don’t even think “casual observer” is a good title either. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have anything against the movies at all: quite the opposite. I know a lot of people who love Godzilla, Daniel included, and I can respect their love for the franchise. Ive just never really connected with it. Honestly, the only Godzilla movie I saw all the way through was the God-awful Roland Emmerich one from 1998 and I only saw half of the 2014 Gareth Edwards film, and that was only after he did a Star Wars movie. I knew who and what Godzilla was and nothing beyond that, but King of Monsters really intrigued me. The trailers all looked really good, and the last one before the film came out really piqued my interest with probably the best use of “Over The Rainbow” since The Wizard of Oz. It looked cool, with big ugly monsters punching each other. Unlike in the 2014 Godzilla, it looked like Ken Watanabe would get his wish and we’d finally be able to “let them fight.” They certainly do in the film. With both of us giving that background, what’s clear is that while we both have different perspectives, we both really struggled to like this movie and are both really disappointed in the overall package.
DD: I went into the theater wanting to love this. I actually enjoyed parts of the 2014 Godzilla and thought that if they gave more time to the monsters and less time to the boring humans (or if they made the human characters more interesting) then it would have been a lot of fun. I wasn’t expecting Shakespeare, but at least an enjoyable monster-fighting-monster movie. If only they had learned from 2014. They expanded the size of the human cast but barely have enough combined characterization for two of them. Ken Watanabe returns as Dr. Ishiro Serizawa, the only really notable character brought over from the first movie and, honestly, the only really notable character in this one. His previous connection to Godzilla helps flesh out a pretty standard scientist-type character. A lot of the other actors try to shine through as well, especially Kyle Chandler, Millie Bobby Brown, and Vera Farmiga, but there is pretty much no point to them. Other actors like Bradley Whitford and Thomas Middleditch try to bring fun and life to the film but it takes itself so seriously they are more distractions than characters who are part of the world. That is arguably my biggest flaw with the movie: It takes itself so seriously that it strips the charm from the very concept that has been perfected over the past 60 years of Godzilla movies.
BS: For as many characters there are in the movie, the only really believable or interesting one throughout the whole film is Godzilla, which is really disappointing for a couple of reasons. First, that really is an impressive cast when you break it down, with actors who I know can do a lot better. I’m more inclined to think that it’s 100% a writing problem but man, just about every single actor, with the exception of Watanabe, is wasted. There’s just nothing particularly compelling or interesting about these characters either, and they often make decisions that lack any kind of reasoning and are just plain stupid. Granted, I wasn’t expecting Oscar-worthy performances, but when you make me dislike the acting of Millie Bobby Brown and Coach Taylor (Kyle Chandler), you know you’ve done something very, very wrong.
DD: The monsters have the most personality of any of the characters in the movie, which is why it’s a shame they don’t get much in the way of screentime. The movie actually makes Ghidorah incredibly formidable and intimidating, and he is a much better villain than Charles Dance. The other monsters each get at least one cool scene that tends to highlight why they are cool, but overall the movie strangely doesn’t seem that interested in them. They really only ever show up to fight and then mysteriously disappear for no reason other than the plot needs them to drag this out for a full 2 hours. When they are allowed to fight on screen without constant cutaways to less interesting (human) characters, it actually can look really good. At least, it can when the cinematography allows it. Often the editing and cinematography work together to create a chaotic scene that is hard to follow and I am sure is an artistic choice. I am reminded of something I have said with other movies in the past, even if bad filmmaking is an artistic choice, it is still bad filmmaking. They took time and effort to make realistic and terrifying monsters but are scared to let you look at them for too long. This movie should have been a love letter to the old-school grandfather of all monster films and instead, it just became a mess. It feels like the movie they had to get out of the way so they could make Godzilla Vs. Kong, which is hitting theaters next year. They certainly wanted to make sure you knew that King Kong was in their universe. The movie barely shuts up about him.
BS: Now Daniel, I’m not sure if you’re aware of this, but did you know that Kong is another monster and that he’s going to fight Godzilla next year in Godzilla Vs Kong, because the makers of this film want you to know that. Now I don’t mind subtle nods to future movies. Marvel has been doing that for over a decade, but dear God it felt like anytime they could stick a reference in, even if it didn’t make sense, they would do it. It’s so bad that if you played a drinking game where you took a shot every time a character said “Kong” or “Skull Island” you might find yourself stealing Alex Legion’s girlfriend or naked in the pool at the Merrick Inn. They beat you over the head with it and honestly, it makes me not want to see Godzilla and Kong duke it out next year. While we’re on that topic, how in the world is Kong even a match for Godzilla? Especially with how this movie ends and how much bigger he is than Kong. Kong has certainly grown since the last time we saw him on Skull Island (Take a shot – I said Kong and Skull Island in the same sentence!) but it still doesn’t feel like a fair fight. In short, find more subtle ways to nod to the future. These references never feel earned; they feel given.
DD: The movie isn’t clueless about how to stealthily insert easter eggs though, and I will give them credit for it. There are a lot of little moments that brought back my Godzilla nostalgia. There is a nice easter egg nodding to some important characters in Mothra’s movie history. The music especially shines in the dull film surrounding it. Pretty much all the music comes from the monsters’ original themes from the Japanese films, slightly modernized, but not so much as to make them unrecognizable. It’s a nice throwback to the old-school movies but also only highlights what this one does wrong. If they wanted to make a movie about humans trying to figure out how to survive in a world with these titans, they should have made the characters more well-rounded and given them clear goals and ways of thinking. Countless Godzilla media have managed to pull that off, from comics like Godzilla: The Half-Century War and Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters to other movies like Shin Godzilla and the original 1954 Gojira. If they wanted to make a fun monster melee movie, then they should have focused it on the monsters and had the human characters and plot, for the most part, stay out of the action. Trying to do both just left the movie a failure on both fronts. The plot feels like nothing more than a series of coincidences and contrivances that ultimately go nowhere. The villains’ plan is just plain stupid and the heroes mostly luck their way into their successes. Nothing is earned. No one develops as characters. Things just happen for 2 hours and then credits roll. The movie feels like any other generic action set-piece-based movie, which is shameful for one of the most recognized creatures in cinema history.
BS: I generally go into a movie with an open mind, and I usually lean towards wanting to like a film. I find myself being more lenient if I find some type of enjoyment in the movie, and usually let plot holes and annoyances go. Unfortunately, I’m really trying to find something that I genuinely enjoyed about the film. Gun to my head, the fights that we see are legitimately fun and entertaining, with a couple of stand-out moments at the end, but on the whole, the movie is just boring and not the fun monster-punching movie I was expecting. They gave me something that gives me little incentive to want to continue with the franchise, which is a real shame. There are definitely some cool ideas here, but the film is just so poorly done. Unfortunately, I don’t think they should . . . let them fight . . . again.
[Spoilers for The Twilight Zone’s season finale “Blurryman” follow.]
I have largely stayed away from online discourse concerning The Twilight Zone. While I normally read reviews for movies before I watch them, I wanted to go into this show relatively blind as to what other critics and viewers were saying. Today I went back through some articles at various and found that my frustrations with this show – that it is too unsubtly preachy and not nearly sci-fi enough – are frustrations that many other writers have had. But with the show’s meta season finale “Blurryman,” the creative team behind The Twilight Zone retort the collective criticism against it by screaming “We made this season bad on purpose! We are actually smart, trust us!”
“Blurryman” opens with Seth Rogen writing the outline of a movie, kicking himself for being an imposter and a hack. His movie is a nuclear apocalypse piece where only midway through do mushroom clouds end society. Once Rogen’s character thinks to move the nuclear war to the beginning, he feels more at ease and accomplished with his work. He looks outside in joy, thinking about how cooped up he has been and wanting to get some fresh air. But when he opens the window he finds that his story has become reality and the world has become a desolate nuclear wasteland. Peele enters the screen espousing narration about how Rogen will soon learn the social responsibility of a writer, and that he needs to create more than simply “entertainment,” but rather he needs to create “art.” It is incredibly tacky and cringey, directly in line with the rest of this season’s episodes.
But midway through narration, Peele breaks character and says the narration needs to be written. “Blurryman” takes place on the production of The Twilight Zone, with Peele and Rogen playing themselves as they create a new Twilight Zone episode. Peele goes to his makeup room and talks to the episode’s writer and showrunner Sophie Gelson (a fictional character, played by Zazie Beetz) about the opening narration. Peele is turned off by the distinction between art and entertainment; they should not be separated because they are not mutually exclusive. Sophie thinks that the sci-fi story that Rogen’s character in the episode is “genre trash” and cannot be art. Genre fiction at all is just pulp nonsense. Art cannot be silly nonsense. It needs to say something, she believes, and the “slippery slope from superhero movies and sci-fi crap to idiocracy” is what episode being produced in “Blurryman” is all about. Peele replies “Our show is sci-fi, right?”
Sophie retreats to her office to rewrite the narration. When she submits it and watches the shooting of it on set, the cue cards have been replace with narration about “writer Sophie Gelson’s” refusal to “confront her fears.” She is convinced it is a prank and tries to track down the person who messed with the narration. In this process she finds out that in the background of every episode of season one there has been a blurry figure ominously standing (the blurry man is truly in every episode, and TV Guide found all of his appearances and put them in this list). On the crew’s lunch she wonders around the set and stumbles upon the Blurry Man. The episode turns into a cat-and-mouse chase with Sophie running across the production lot to ward of the Blurry Man, but she is never able to fully do so.
Sophie somehow knows the Blurry Man’s presence is connected to her hatred of genre fiction. “Jordan’s putting you up to this, isn’t he?” she screams at the figure. “Because horror is real? Because the genre stuff isn’t just bullshit.” There is a tension in Sophie’s mind between the fantastic and the intelligent. For her, sci-fi itself is not quite able to reach a profound level. What she believes Serling did was not give profound stories, but rather gave profound narration at the beginning and end of trashy sci-fi episodes because that was the only way to reach the masses. We know in this alternate reality that Sophie is one of the chief creative minds behind the new Twilight Zone, and her idea that the new show needs to shrug away its genre tendencies to deliver message is very much in-play in almost all of The Twilight Zone’s actual episodes. Very few of this new season resides in the supernatural, and “Blurryman” gives us a reason for that: Sophie hates the supernatural. The soapbox messaging of “Point of Origin” and “The Wunderkind” are a result of her reluctance to dive into genre storytelling and insistence that the show needs to bluntly say something insightful.
But after she figures out that the Blurry Man is in fact real and not some prank Peele has orchestrated, she decides to open herself up to him. He clouds her in smoke and she sees a vision of a young Sophie, eyes locked onto an old Twilight Zone episode. “These are make-believe stories,” her dad protests to her mother. “She needs to get out in the real world with real world.” “She could do both? Right, Soph?” her mom replies. Sophie sees in this vision not only her fear to reckon with the unknown, but also that the supernatural and the natural need not be dichotomized. Genre fiction can be art. Serling’s work on the original Twilight Zone proved this to be the case.
The episode ends with the Blurry Man revealing himself to be Ron Serling, CGI recreated like Peter Cushing in Rogue One. He takes Sophie’s hand, claiming “we have a lot of work to do,” and walks her through a black-and-white door that presumably leads to… The Twilight Zone. It is a note that looks forward to the season two, a promise that the future episodes will be more in-line with the original series. “Blurryman” retroactively turns the new Twilight Zone into an essay that argues that sci-fi metaphors of the original series were necessary for its success, and by removing the sci-fi “entertainment” from the new episodes in favor of “artistic” messaging a new Twilight Zone can’t work. But of course what the original did, and what “Blurryman” realizes, is that the genre entertainment heightens the importance of the artistic marriage. Entertainment and art are married, not separated. The supernatural aspects of the original Twilight Zone are just as real and weighty as its themes.
Season one is an interesting exercise then, an ambitious effort to see if a bad season of television can still have a satisfying payoff. I appreciate the goal and the sentiment – it is a true celebration of Serling’s original series and displays a knowledge of why that show was so incredible – but I don’t think it quite works. “Blurryman” is a fascinating course-correction, but it doesn’t make watching nine episodes of bad television worth it just to find out in the tenth that the first nine were bad on purpose. In fact it may wind up being a damaging experiment. While “Blurryman” indicates a more adventurous second season will come, I don’t think that I will bother watching it because so much of season one – even though it was meant to – left such a sour taste in my mouth. I can’t imagine I am alone.
Creating an actively unentertaining reboot as a way to celebrate the genius of the original property is in its own way genius and subversive, but it works much better as an intellectual thought than it does as a legitimate show. While “Blurryman” is a terrific individual episode and makes me admire season one so much more, the test of The Twilight Zone’s first season doesn’t quite work for me. At the end of the day, no matter the intention and cleverness, if most of the episodes of a TV show is bad, then the show is bad. The Twilight Zone reboot, though it tried, could not overcome that truth.
Episodes of “The Twilight Zone” are available exclusively on CBS All Access. For more of Adrian’s rants concerning bad reboots (looking at you “The Lion King,” probably), follow him on Twitter @APBryant32.
Cinema was perfected when the party comedy was conceived. With the right talent behind them, party comedies like Neighbors and Blockers can transcend our common understanding of art and elevate us to a higher plane of cinematic enjoyment we never thought possible before. And even bad movies like Sisters and The Hangover trilogy are watchable at the very worst, because it is always a pleasure to see people chuggin’ booze and munchin’ shrooms. Although I am being slightly facetious about the importance of party comedies, if any pitch involves the phrases “high school party” or “middle aged people partying in an effort to be young again,” I am automatically and earnestly hooked.
Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut Booksmart is right up my alley. Molly (Beanie Feldstein) and Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) are their high school’s best two students. They have slaved away all of their K-12 career acing tests and swimming through endless extracurriculars so that they can glide into the nation’s Ivy League schools. Their efforts have worked, but once Molly finds out that many of her classmates who spend their days chuggin’ booze and munchin’ shrooms are also getting into top-notch colleges, Molly convinces herself that her and Amy’s efforts were all for naught. They decide that they will go to their classmate Nick’s (Mason Gooding) party on the night before graduation so they can say they didn’t spend all of high school not having any fun.
Their biggest stumbling block is the fact that, since they have mostly had their heads in the scholastic realm, they do not know Nick’s address nor do they know anyone with Nick’s address. The first 40 or so minutes of the film follow Molly and Amy’s efforts to get to Nick’s house, and these minutes are where Booksmart shine because it conveys the true oddity of high school. Eighties high school movies like The Breakfast Club or Pretty in Pink have their merits, but their depiction of all high schoolers as fitting into a very specific stereotype have always kept me at arm’s length from them emotionally. But Booksmart (and many other recent high school pieces like Netflix series American Vandal and young adult novel Me and Earl and The Dying Girl) refute that tendency by giving its supporting characters their own flavor of weirdness that is unique to them – something I saw much more often in high school than I saw people who were super stereotypically jock-ish or preppy.
Highlights from the supporting cast include Gigi (Billie Lourde), who pops up in every destination that Amy and Molly find themselves in on the way to Nick’s as if some kind of drugged out North star. Gig knows how to get to Nick’s house, but rather than giving our duo the address she gives out cryptic fortune-cookie clues that push them slightly farther to Nick’s right before she mysteriously backs into the shadows. Jared (Skylar Gisondo) is also a stand-out of the film as an awkward loner who tricks out his race-car and rents party yachts with his dad’s money in an effort to attract friends who are unwilling to hang out with him because they see him as (and granted, this is his literal license plate ID) a “fuk boi.” Even Nick, who is portrayed in the film’s opening moments as an ignorant ape, is quite charming and deceptively smart. All of the high school characters – jock, nerd, rich, prep, whatever labels we’re tempted to use – have complicated lives that aren’t waiting to be discovered, as a movie like The Breakfast Club would argue, but they are already presented openly in their day-to-day interactions with each other. And most of them are aware of each other’s complexities. It is Molly and Amy who have spent so much of their time doing homework and looking down upon their “dumber” cohort who need to open their eyes and catch-up to their classmates’ awareness.
The success of the supporting cast is only heightened by the seamless performances of Feldstein and Dever. Booksmart is a movie about their eyes opening to the high school they missed out on, but it is also a movie about their relationship. Molly is a more commanding force, and often seems to drag Amy into situations (like going to Nick’s party at all) that she does not want to be in. But Amy levels Molly at points by giving her heaps of uplifting encouragement that warms up her sometimes cold heart a bit. They both give and take quite a bit in their friendship and Dever and Feldstein sell that friendship effortlessly. In scenes where Amy and Molly are separated, their classmates make remarks like “I don’t think I’ve ever seen you without Amy/Molly,” and audiences have that seem feeling every time they are apart; the bond is so strong that it is hard to process them as individuals rather than a unit, which eventually becomes a conflict in their friendship in the movie’s third act. It takes a lot for two actors to create such a dense unity between characters, but Feldstein and Dever are incredibly successful in doing it.
The main reason I am incredibly susceptible to party comedies is that parties have a positive and wholesome undercurrent to them. Everyone is gathering just to have a good time. Things go awry at many, to be sure, but they are created simply for people to unify and have fun. The party setting bonds groups of people who often seem like they can’t have a bond. Booksmart uses that setting to show that people’s tendency to heap ill-informed perceptions and roles onto others is foolish, because at their core high schoolers are all scared but well-meaning people who are trying to find their identity. Molly and Amy have spent so much time assuming that their classmates are below them when in fact they are all on the same playing field, and without having gone to Nick’s party the duo would likely have never learned that. But at the same time Molly and Amy’s friendship, while very insular, is a remarkable one that is worth celebration and the party setting of Booksmart does exactly that. Olivia Wilde told NPR that she hoped Booksmart makes teens “celebrate being young,” and its love for its characters and their weirdness certainly shows that being young is a treasure rather than a burden.
“Booksmart” opened in theaters May 25th. See your local theater for showtimes and watch the trailer here. You can follow Adrian on Twitter @APBryant32 to hear more of his never-ending love for boozey party comedies.
Game of Thrones has ended. More than a week after the show’s conclusion, Nick Roush and T.J. Walker put a bow on the greatest series that ever was. Don’t think of it as a good-bye; more like, see ya later. Highlights:
— How “The Last Watch” gave us new insight into the show.
— The series’ ultimate Targaryen misdirection.
— How the show runners could have used Euron better.
— Did The Ringer’s Ranking of Every Game of Thrones Episode get it right?
— What we would’ve added from the books, or taken away from the show.
— The show’s greatest ‘what ifs.’
You can easily listen on the KSR App, available on iTunes and Google Play. Streaming online is simple through Pod Paradise. You can also get it directly to your phone by subscribing to “Kentucky Sports Radio” on iTunes or via Android’s Podcast Addict app.
By Nick Roush on ©May 28th, 2019 @ 6:00pm
The dust has settled in King’s Landing. Even though Samwell Tarly’s democracy went nowhere fast, at Kentucky Sports Radio we still count the votes.
Entering the final season of Game of Thrones, the KSR crew submitted a ballot, picking who would live, who would die, who would come back to life and who would ultimately win the Game of Thrones.
After tallying the votes, it is a great pleasure that I introduce to you the next Three-Eyed Raven, King of the Andals, the Rhoynar, and the First Men, the Prince that was Promised…Drew Franklin.
Maester Drew was the only person who correctly picked Bran the Broken to ultimately sit the Iron Throne (although, it kind of does not exist anymore). The three bonus points gave him an advantage over Tyler Thompson, who finished four spots behind Drew with nine correct answers. Three people — Luckett, Walker and myself — finished tied for third with eight points.
While many believed Jon Snow would live, too many put too much faith in Aegon Targaryen. We also put too much faith in the Undead. You’ll find the entire ballot below, with the correct answers highlighted in green.
Even though the series is over and Drew is the king of the KSR kingdom, we still have another episode of Kentucky Thrones Radio ready for you tomorrow afternoon. Have questions? Send them in @RoushKSR or @TJWalkerRadio.
[Spoilers for “The Blue Scorpion” follow.]
At midnight this past Thursday, the comedy music troupe The Lonely Island dropped a visual rap album (think Beyonce’s Lemonade) called The Unauthorized Bash Brothers Experience. The “visual poem,” as they refer to it, centers on the eponymous Bash Brothers Mark McGuire (Akiva Schaffer) and Jose Canseco (Andy Samberg) and their use of steroids to propel their skill as Major League Baseball players. In the song “Focused AF,” Canseco engages in a question-and-answer breakdown with McGuire that reveals their true motivations for ‘roiding out: “Where is the limit? / There are no limits. / And what is the goal? / To make dad love me. / To make dad love me. / [In unison:] To make dad finally love me!” One of the album’s latter songs “Daddy” is directed to both of the athlete’s dads: “Got much bigger, faster, stronger, Dad / Hit so long / But you always want it longer, Dad / ‘But therapy’s for losers, little boy / therapy’s for losers.'”
Oddly, the incredibly hilarious Bash Brothers is a much more successful portrait of obsession and daddy issues than The Twilight Zone’s newest episode “The Blue Scorpion.” But instead of focusing on steroids as a coping mechanism, the addiction that controls Jeff Storck’s (Chris O’Dowd) life is a gun. Jeff is at the lowest point in his life, staying with his dad while he goes through a divorce that he can barely afford. When he returns home one night, though, Jeff finds that his father has committed suicide. During the police investigation Jeff is presented with a gun and asked to confirm whether or not it was his dad’s gun. Jeff is confused at the sight, as his dad was a “hippie” that loathed guns his entire life.
The gun, gold-plated and stamped with rose-pedal imprints with an ivory grip featuring a blue scorpion, soon entrances Jeff. Once he sees the gun, he grows more paranoid and distrusting of the world. Every man he runs into is named Jeff, and even one of his students reports a feeling that the objects in her dorm are communicating with her. The gun itself (named The Blue Scorpion), Jeff finds out from a gun shop owner named Bob Jeff, was once owned by Che Guevara and has only been owned by six people before Jeff. “The legend is,” Bob says, “you don’t find [The Blue Scorpion], it finds you.” Any bullet that Jeff loads into The Blue Scorpion’s cartridge is engraved with his name. As the gun radiates some sort of mystic energy, Jeff begins to believe that he cannot trust anyone. All he can trust is The Blue Scorpion which came for him.
“The Blue Scorpion” seems to be leading its viewers to see Jeff’s sanity as crumbling due to the gun. Given the leftist politics of the show so far, it’s expected that the episode is going to condemn guns and advocate for either a ban on guns or further restrictions. And I think the episode believes it is doing that. Peele’s closing narration bemoans human tendency to treasure objects more than human life, which is a not so subtle message that the U.S. is more caring about the rights of guns than people who die from them. But the ending of the episode’s plot shows Jeff using the gun to kill a neighborhood house-invader after the invader tries to break into Jeff’s car. Once the invader is killed, Jeff is praised in the newspapers as a hero and is granted a position as the Chair of his university’s Anthropology Department. Everything works out perfectly for him thanks to the gun, but Peele’s narration claims that the gun has led to great tragedy.
But where is this tragedy? My best guess is that “The Blue Scorpion” is saying that instead of everybody focusing on the death of the invader and mourning the loss of life, they are celebrating his demise at the hand of a gun. I could buy that if the show treated the invader with any amount of sympathy. He dies and the cops are like, “Oh, great job killing this dude,” and that is as much time as is spent on him. There is a large incongruity between Jeff’s ending as a character and Peele’s narration that I cannot square. Even though the episode claims to be anti-gun its plot delivers an oddly pro-gun story.
The Lonely Island’s Bash Brothers toes a similar line as it consistently refers to the players’ use of performance enhancing drugs. But McGuire and Canseco are portrayed as broken buffoons who retreat to baseball as a way to, albeit unhealthily, deal with their fathers’ rejection of them. While the piece ends with the Oakland Athletics winning the World Series, we know that their use of steroids is not being promoted as a means for success. “The Blue Scorpion” tries to do the same thing – showing Jeff’s rise and success because his obsession with the gun but not endorsing the gun as a path to success – but it fails tremendously.
If anything distinguishes “The Blue Scorpion” from the other political episodes of The Twilight Zone, it is that it drops the ball so hard in its messaging that it ends up romanticizing the very thing it means to attack. Its embellishment of the gun with mystical properties makes the gun come off like a well-meaning genie rather than the deceptive demon it is meant to be depicted as. It is hard to tackle to the anti-gun argument of the episode because it fails so hard at making that argument. The previous episodes of this show have been bad, but they have at least had a clear message; “The Blue Scorpion” cannot even make it to that low-bar.
Episodes of “The Twilight Zone” are available exclusively on CBS All Access. For more of Adrian’s piping hot-takes and foolish opinions on pop culture, follow him on Twitter @APBryant32.
Without dating myself (I’m totally about to date myself), my childhood was a blur of Star Wars and the Disney Renaissance of the 90’s and with all of the recent Disney remakes of classic films from that period it’s given me rose tinted glasses towards basically all those movies. The 2017 remake of Beauty and The Beast in particular I thought did a great job of paying tribute to that film while also adding enough new to make it feel different while also having that original spirit that made me love it as a kid. God help me when The Lion King comes out later this year, I might have to push a few kids out of the way to be the first one in the theater to see it. I say this because I honestly was a bit worried I couldn’t remain objective when it comes to these movies, however I didn’t think that would be a problem with Aladdin. The trailers made it look like a god-awful cringey mess, with an unsettling looking Genie and I sincerely believed it was destined to fail, even with an impressive cast. I went in expecting a disaster, and I walked out with a pretty big smile on my face, although not without some caveats.