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Funkhouser

KSR’s take on recent non sports related happenings

The Funkhouser Situation E64: BTS, VMAs and 6Lack ASAP

Lee Cruse and Chris Tomlin return for another week of The Funkhouser Situation. In the wake of an awards show you may have forgotten still existed, Chris and Lee let you know what happened at the VMAs, but that’s not all. They also talk about…

— Chris’ questionable wardrobe selection.

— An appearance from The Beatles!

— Big Spider-Man and Marvel news.

— Jennifer Aniston vs. Angelina Jolie

— How many VMA winners do Chris and Lee know?

— Taylor Swift has a new album, DON’T GEEK!

You can get the podcast delivered directly to your phone by subscribing to The Funkhouser Situation podcast feed on iTunes or you can stream online or on your phone with Spotify.


The Funkhouser Situation E63: Bohemian Ancestry

The terrific tandem of Lee Cruse and Chris Tomlin are back to bring you another exciting edition of The Funkhouser Situation. This week’s main topic revolves around biopics, both on musicians and comedians,  but they also talk about…

— How would a conversation with Nicholas Cage go?

— A surprise appearance from a Funkhouser superfan.

— Lee finds new and creative ways to mention Tangled.

— Mixed emotions on Ewan McGregor.

— Who is alive right now that will one day have a great biopic?

— A new show with a huge cast that should produce fireworks.

You can get the podcast delivered directly to your phone by subscribing to The Funkhouser Situation podcast feed on iTunes or you can stream online or on your phone with Spotify.


It was not a Big Day for Chance The Rapper

Image result for the big day

What’s up, Funkhouser? It’s been a while, but your boy is back with (oddly enough) his first album review on Funkhouser. I have posted plenty about music before, but with the ever-increasing workload of college and picking up on the sports side of KSR, I decided to do a little sabbatical from the fun hobby I have in writing music articles. I’m going to try to do more of these when I can. Usually, when there’s a big album drop or an album I have fallen in love with, I’ll try to review it. If you follow me on Instagram you’ve seen before that I have reviewed some videos of live reaction music reviews. Ideally, I can turn my written opinions about music into a podcast or a youtube series, but for now, with the busy schedule, these written reviews will have to do the trick. So, without further ado, my review on the debut album from Chance the Rapper: The Big Day.


We all love Chance the Rapper, right? Stand up guy, activist in his community, supportive of music in schools, family man, and holds three of the most classic mixtapes ever. He has revolutionized music and helped bring streaming to the forefront with Coloring Book, and marches to the beat of his own drum.

In a world that most music getting radio is centered around drugs, sex, and having a good time, incomes Chance the Rapper with a little bit of substance. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are PLENTY of rappers out there with substance in their music such as the Dreamville label, the TDE label, Meek Mill, Pusha T, so on and so forth. But, none of those rappers has a bigger audience than Chance.

From hosting SNL to Kit Kat Commercials, Movie soundtracks, and those God awful Doritos commercials. Chance the Rapper has turned himself into a household name and is one of the most marketable artists today. But, with that, the music changes and so does the marketing. Throw in the nearly three-year sabbatical from Lil’ Chano after Coloring Book, some REALLY underwhelming singles besides the Jamie Foxx sampled I Might Need Security, and a marriage and we get The Big Day.

When it was first announced Chance the Rapper was targeting 2019 for an album release I was pretty excited, to say the least. It seemed like all the star power was out in full force in 2018 (In my opinion one of the greatest years in music ever). So, that typically means 2019 would be a little dull in the music industry with a lot of artists taking the year off to tour, find inspiration or just flat out take a break. Therefore, this year could have been Chance’s year as he seemed to be the biggest star that would come out with an album this year. After the pretty solid, but crass, single I Might Need Security dropped the year prior I felt pretty optimistic about The Big Day…then Grocries dropped. Chance’s first single of 2019, and it was TERRIBLE.

Granted, the song coming out the same time as Tyler, the Creator’s IGOR didn’t help, but with a chorus that holds the lines “I used to carry all my groceries in one trip, Minute Maid gone in one sip, too much dip on my chip” it’s hard to make a case for it being any good. From there, I knew this album was doomed. But I Like Chance, Coloring Book was perfect, and the re-release of Acidrap and 10 Day getting everyone excited, I felt like it was worth a listen.

I quickly found out, it was not worth the listen. I regret I even gave it a stream because my apple music profile will always display that I listened to it.

Now, before we get into the what made this album so hard to listen to, I do want to highlight some of the good that came from this album. It’s sad to say, but the best part on this album wasn’t even Chance the Rapper. Instead, it was DaBaby’s feature on Hot Shower.

DaBaby has been on a heater in 2019 with his album Baby on Baby which features the hit song Suge and his feature on Dreamville’s Under da Sun was incredibleThankfully he and MadeinTYO saved this great Smoko Ono produced track with their verses. While Chance the Rapper was wasting a great flow by saying “DUDE!” and trying to get some sleep then taking a hot shower.

DaBaby actually came through with some funny lines about having a girl in a two-seater, taking a white man’s daughter, and then addressing his legal troubles through his raps. It made for the best verse on this album.

Another highlight (honestly the only amazing thing from Chance on this album) was the song We Go High. It’s a beautiful track with beautiful production, but even still Chance wanted to hit a high note that just threw it off for me. Regardless, the song as a whole was solid and I’ll give him props for that.

There were a few other decent tracks as well such as the beautiful Some Come Down, Slide Around, and Do you Remeber. Megan Thee Stallion had a solid verse in Handsome, and I thought Five Year Plan was passable. Then it took a HUGE nosedive.

For starters, the opening track was just John Legend over a Donnie Trumpet inspired beat that sounded like it belonged on Kidz Bop. However, its title All Day Long was fitting for the one hour and 17-minute monstrosity that succeded it.

I honestly don’t really know where to start with the rest of these tracks, but a safe bet would be the questionable bars on this record. Such as in the song Roo, which he dedicated to his brother who is also a rapper, Taylor Bennett.

It was actually a touching song, something I know I could relate to with my brothers. However, in the track Chance seemed to give a glorifying bar to the notoriously abusive Joe Jackson, when he said: “A lot of Dads left, abandoned the house/ My Dad Joe Jack, start a band in the house.” Now you guys know I’m for any and every Michael Jackson reference there is, but I found myself puzzled by this bar. Maybe Chance’s dad was an abuser? I can’t confirm nor deny, but when you’re trying to compare it a lot of dads leaving their homes, it makes it seem like you’re saying Joe Jackson was good? I don’t know, man. I don’t get it. Not to mention the chorus did not fit with that track AT ALL.

Then there was that verse in Ballin Flossin (As if that title didn’t lead it to be annoying anyway) where he dropped a Peanut Butter Jelly and the Baseball Bat Bar. Chance…dude…how do you expect people to take you seriously going forward in the music industry when you’re dropping bars that would only amuse a seven-year-old in 2011. That’s not even mentioning the Production on this track sounds like a vouge song played in a GAP.

Then there was the ultra-repetitiveness of Chance rapping about his marriage. Once again, in a world where it’s cool to have hoes, I like that Chance is going this route in his music and that he really does love his wife. On that same note, dude, we get it. Even in the album’s description, it said this album would be a reflection of his wedding and while that’s cool and all, but maybe try putting that it into a single. I don’t think we need an album that consists of 397 BARS DEDICATED TO YOUR MARRIAGE.

The thing is, it’s not like he has been married to this woman forever and it’s a true testament of undying love. They literally got married in March. IT HASN’T EVEN BEEN SIX MONTHS!!

When people have been waiting three years for this project, I don’t think that is the best time to bloat an album with throwaway songs about your special night. Again, it’s honorable, I’m glad he’s happy, but this isn’t what his fans have been waiting on.

Lastly, the production on most of these tracks is just eh. Chance the Rapper has proclaimed himself as Kanye’s best prodigy, and if he’s going to be that, he needs to stick with what made he and Ye famous. Soul beats.

I am all for rappers experimenting with new sounds and hopping on what sound is popular to the masses, and right now it’s trap beats. But, Chance just isn’t a “trapper”. Through and through he’s a man who loves Jesus, his wife, and his family. With a subject matter like that, it goes great over a soul beat..a la Coloring Book for crying out loud.

When Chance tries to go in on these trap beats infused with some vocal tones from Francis and the Lights and a little help from Donnie Trumpet, it just sounds forced and unnatural. If chance wants to get back to the standard he was held to in 2016-17, he must get back to his roots. But, if he’s going to change it up for the love of God PLEASE get some better bars and production.

Overall, this record is a bloated monstrosity. Twenty-two tracks, maybe five of them worth listening to, and it’s painfully obvious it is quantity over quality. It’s very reminiscent of a DJ Khaled approach to an album marketing scheme.

VERDICT: 3.5 out of 10 and it’s one of the worst records I’ve heard this year.

I am glad I will never have to listen to it again.


Follow me on Twitter for more Music takes and Reviews: @BrentW_KSR


40 Years After Highway To Hell, AC/DC Is Still Rock n’ Roll At Its Best

40 Years After Highway To Hell, AC/DC Is Still Rock n’ Roll At Its Best

July 27th marked the 40 year anniversary of one of the great rock records, Highway to Hell. The album pushed the up and coming Aussie act AC/DC to true stardom, being certified 7x platinum and creating a title track that – among a number of the band’s other hits – currently lives as one of hard rock’s most iconic songs. It’s impossible to overstate just how relentless this album’s attitude is. “Highway to Hell” is one of the slower songs on the album, and the punch of its three chord riff (the type of which AC/DC has perfected) leaves me seeing stars by the end of its brisk  three-and-a-half minute runtime. Producer Robert John “Mutt” Lange took the AC/DC’s talent for steady, balls to the wall bangers from and condensed them into crisply produced three minute tracks that made it an instant global success. (It also resulted in a medical milestone. Doctors discovered that if CDs and cassette tapes of the album were smelted in a furnace, they liquefied into pure testosterone that could be – and still is – used to produce booster pills and shots.)  Since then AC/DC has been a staple of the hard rock acts that owned the music industry for the last half of the 20th century.

AC/DC was my first pop-culture obsession. I was in 3rd grade when Guitar Hero II overthrew the U.S. government and brainwashed all of its citizenry into obsessively strumming their five-button controllers along to classic rock covers. The genius of Guitar Hero was its ability to convince players that they were rock gods, and 8 year old me fell hard for the ploy. I moved quickly into picking up a real guitar to manifest my inner power. AC/DC quickly became the band whose catalogue I burned through . Their riffs were more than easy enough for beginners, but the myriad patterns they produced with A, D, and G power chords, along with their breakneck speed, made AC/DC songs the ideal target for my early musicianship.

Of course, the reason behind my love for AC/DC as a budding musician (spoiler: I never truly bloomed) is the most frequent criticism against them: their songs all follow the same formula. The riffs center primarily on three to four chords, the chorus likely features some variant of the word “balls,” and the solo is some bluesy shred from schoolboy guitarist Angus Young. Young supposedly once said “I’m sick to death of people saying we’ve made 11 albums that sound exactly the same. In fact, we’ve made 12 albums that sound exactly the same.” Complexity is not their claim to fame.

I’m not here to deny that the formula exists, but there is more variety in the band’s catalogue than I think they are given credit for. Their whole ’70s career oozes a bluesiness that they shed in the Brian Johnson era. Songs like “Ride On” and “Gone Shootin'” owe as much to Robert Johnson as anyone. And “Beating Around the Bush,” while rooted in the three chord structure, has an adrenaline-fueled two string lick that makes me want to rip off my shirt and toss my brother through a wall. AC/DC may only five tricks up their sleeve, but the combinations of those tricks and the kineticism with which they perform them never cease to amaze me.

And they’re also just so fucking tight. It would be easy to think that, since the barebones of AC/DC’s tracks are so defined and seemingly simple, the band plays pretty loose with them. But if you listen closely to their albums, there is not a single missed note, no strum where Angus and rhythm guitar brother Malcolm Young are out of sync. The drummer (usually Phil Rudd, but Chris Slade took over from 1989-1994) and bassist are essentially breathing metronomes, rocking out to the 4/4 beats of the song and doing nothing else, but that is far easier said than done. The only moment of imprecision I found relistening to their discography comes at the beginning of the genius “Overdose,” where an appregio is simply but flimsily strummed. Otherwise the band is a finely tuned machine that cannot be stopped and cannot falter.

The AC/DC machine spent their first twenty-five years making every other hard rock band look like Duran Duran. Few bands have come close to holding the same power that AC/DC did. Even bands that were capable of rocking as hard as AC/DC did, like Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, and Black Sabbath, only get to that level occasionally. While they are arguable much better bands, they just don’t make me lose my goddamn mind like AC/DC does. AC/DC reduces me to my most primal state, a very specific high where the little intelligence I have is no more useful than a dog turd in the summer heat and I am more than happy to rid myself of it.

And sure, there are times where they aren’t the rock gods I have made them out to be so far. At their worst they come off as lazy; their albums post-Razor’s Edge have been resoundingly mediocre, falling back on mid-tempo jams that have a fraction of the energy they rose to stardom utilizing. But they spent a shocking amount of time at their best, as they didn’t make a truly bad album until 1995’s Ballbreaker, and their albums up to For Those About to Rock are unimpeachable. When they are hitting their stride, AC/DC does not let me sit still. I headbang. I dance. I strain my vocal chords to poorly mimic Bon Scott’s seductive shrieks or growl along to Brian Johnson’s gravelly tones. I want to grab my cherry red Gibson SG – purchased specifically because it is Angus Young’s signature guitar – and plow through a song along with the two brothers. I want to fuck. I want to snort a mile long line of cocaine (okay, maybe that one is a stretch). I want to shed all of my stress and rock out like that’s all there’s nothing else in the world worth doing.

There aren’t many things that I ask of the media that I consume. At the top of the short list of questions I consider when critiquing something is “Does [insert media] know what it wants to be, and does it be that thing successfully?” AC/DC never once wavers from its goal of producing unfiltered, overwhelming, and gut-punching rock n’ roll. From the sex-soaked way Scott mutters “Cut this,” at the start of “Problem Child” to sadistic macho of “Hells Bells,” AC/DC exudes the juvenile rush of sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll better than anyone else ever could. Nobody does what AC/DC does as well as they do. My tastes have changed radically since I was an eight year old, as you’d expect, but AC/DC sits comfortably on the Mount Rushmore of my favorite bands.  I don’t expect that to change anytime soon.

For more of Adrian’s thoughts on one of rock’s greatest bands, follow him on Twitter @APBryant32.


PARKS from Keymaster Games – A Board Game Review

PARKS from Keymaster Games – A Board Game Review

In 2019, the board game landscape has never been better. New games are getting high value production with great components, engaging themes, and beautiful art. PARKS from Keymaster Games ticks all of those boxes, with one of the most beautiful games to come around in a long time.  However, does PARKS play as great as it looks?

PARKS is a 1-5 player game from Keymaster Games, and designed by Henry Audubon. In PARKS, “players take on the role of two hikers who will trek trails to see sites, observe wildlife, take photos, and visit national parks over the course of the game.” The game is played in four rounds, each of which represents one season of the year. As the year goes on, the trail of tiles will get progressively longer, adding more crucial decisions and special actions. To set up a each new season, you will flip over a season card, which gives everyone a shared advantage for the round, and seeds the trail with a weather pattern, represented by sunshine and water tokens. These provide an added benefit for the first hiker to reach each tile. Also, at the start of the game, every player gets a secret objective that they are trying to complete, which will give you either 2 or 3 points if you are able to attain part, or all of the goal.

On your turn, you will move one of your two hikers any number of spaces down the trail towards the Trail End tile. You will need to choose your movements wisely, as you aren’t allowed to double-back on the trail, losing out on any tiles you may have skipped. Each tile that makes up the trail provides a different action you must take. Some tiles will allow you to collect a number of tokens necessary for almost every other action in the game. These tokens are represented as water, mountains, forest, and sunshine. Other tiles on the trail will allow you to perform actions using said tokens, such as taking photos, collecting canteens, trading for different tokens, visiting/reserving parks, copying actions, or collecting wildlife. When one of your two hikers reaches the end of the trail, you may spend the tokens you have collected to visit parks, each of which require a certain combination of tokens to earn that park’s victory points (see the image below). Parks values range from 2-5 points each. You may also reserve a park that you are working toward, or buy gear with sunshine tokens, providing extra benefits for the remainder of the game

While those are the basics of the game, there are a lot of added actions and bits which add to the strategy of the PARKS. As you may only progress forward down the trail, you also may not go to a space where another player is located unless you use your campfire token. When you choose to share a tile with another hiker (even your own) your campfire is extinguished, and is only relit when one of your hikers reaches trail end. When you reach the “Vista” tile, you may either take a canteen, or take a picture. A canteen can be filled with water anytime you gain a water token, which will give you an added benefit, like extra tokens or a special action. By “Taking a Picture” you can spend any two tokens to take a photo, which is worth one point a the end of the game. When you take a picture, you also gain the camera, giving you a discount for the next time you snap a shot (unless someone else takes a pic and steals the camera). Use all of these abilities to help earn the most victory points on your travels, and the player with the most points from parks visited, photos taken, and personal bonus goal at the end of the game is the winner.

First thing first, this game is GORGEOUS. Already known for beautiful games (Caper, Campy Creatures, Space Park) Keymaster Games has collaborated with the Fifty-Nine Parks Print Series, which has a series of posters celebrating the 59 National Parks in the USA. 48 of the 59 parks are featured in the game (yes, Mammoth Cave is in) as the remaining 11 parks have/had not been released at the time the game art was finalized. Five percent of Fifty Nine Parks sales of posters annually, as well as a percentage of sales revenue from PARKS will be donated to Tee National Parks Service . I encourage you to head over there after this review and check out ALL of the beautiful art their artists have put together of these amazing locations around the US. But, the beauty of the game is not just related to the art of the Parks cards. Every inch of this game is an incredible thing to look at. The individual tokens are perfect. The wildlife tokens, which represent wild resources *of course* are each a DIFFERENT wildlife animal. The first player token is enamel, there’s metallic ink on the cards, and the tray that holds all game components in the box are perfectly crafted (resource trays are made to look like stumps of wood). I seriously could go on forever about how good this game looks.

But, what’s most important is that the gameplay is SOLID. While the game seems like a very serene trip down a trail to visit national parks, there is a lot of strategy and gamesmanship to every turn. Your decisions are meaningful as you only have one trip down the trail with each of your hikers each season. You have to decide which tokens are most important to you, and if you’re willing to pass up other actions or tokens to get to them. If someone is on the spot you want, you have to make the choice to use your campfire. But, if you use it too early, you’re jammed up until you can get one of your hikers to the end of the trail. The ability to reserve parks not only lets you plan ahead, but you might take a park away from someone else who is working towards that park.

Also crucial for the replayability of the game, is the order in which special trail tiles come out. There are four of these tiles in the game, which provide special actions, and a new one is added to the trail each season. The first game I played with my wife, the tile to buy/reserve a park didn’t come out until the final round, so jockeying for the camera and bonus points became a high priority. But, in our second game, that tile was available from the very first season, meaning there were at least four opportunities to buy or reserve a park every season, so token collection was now of the utmost importance. While those games felt strategically different, the scores remained tight with no more than three points separating us each game. In games with 4-5 players, the trail fills up more quickly, meaning your campfires could make/break your success. Also parks are being snatched up faster which will alter your planning multiple times per season. With so much variability styles of play in both player count, as well as special tiles, there’s a lot to love in PARKS.

It was hard for me to find anything I didn’t like about the game. The game is a great weight for both families and experienced gamers. I do, however, think that all of the game concepts that are being combined in the game might be confusing for first time gamers with short attention spans. When going through set-up with someone new to the game, you need to explain canteens, seasons, secret endgame goals, weather, campfires, gear, taking pictures, and park actions. In explaining to someone new to gaming, you find yourself going “and also, and also, and also,” which might be a lot for someone new to more hobby style games. Once the game gets going, everything flows really, really well. But, if someone can’t stay focused during rules explanations, this might not be for them (or you might just have to take longer on rules explanation).

I highly recommend PARKS as a game you should add to your collection. The art alone is worth the purchase of the game, but it’s combined with a solid game that will attract both gamers and families alike. Since the last time I played, I keep thinking about the next time I can play PARKS and who I can share it with. It’s a great game to introduce to non-gamers with a pretty attractive theme, but implements the VERY beginnings of concepts you would see in heavier strategy games. This one is going to stay in the collection for a long, long time.

PARKS is available at Gen Con this week, and should see a retail release later this month. Check out the Keymaster Games website here.

** Just a couple of notes. 1) PARKS was provided as a review copy by Keymaster Games. However, I did purchase a copy in the Kickstarter campaign for the game, so the review comes a few weeks earlier than it normally would. 2) In the pictures of this review, the game is being played on an optional neoprene playmat. It does not come with the PARKS, but is available for additional purchase. The board that comes with the game will hold the cards for Parks, Gear, Canteens, and Seasons, while you will just put the trail tiles and token trays to the bottom and side of the board, respectively. The playmat is 100% not necessary to play the PARKS, it’s just a nice cosmetic touch.**


Review: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Review: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

You’re going to hear a lot of the overused term “love letter” thrown around in terms of Quentin Tarantino’s nearly three-hours long  drama/comedy Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, and that shouldn’t and won’t surprise you. After all, even when Quentin Tarantino was making movies set in Germany (Inglorious Basterds), the Deep South (Django Unchained) and Old-West Wyoming (The Hateful Eight), he was really only repeatedly paying homage to past decades of American filmmaking. So turning the director loose in the playground of late sixties Los Angeles delivers what you might expect — a comprehensive, almost virtual-reality experience of what life, culture and “the scene” looked like on Sunset Strip at the corner of action-movie machismo and the free love movement.

One thing Tarantino has always excelled in, perhaps above all, is creating the parameters of a world and setting a voyeuristic spot for the viewer within it. In Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs, for instance, he created a seedy world of low-budget crime and allowed us to see the mundane and everyman conversations even the most violent thugs chat up to pass the time. His Kill Bill films delivered a half-real life/half-anime world where it seemed completely plausible that an all-female team named after venomous snakes could move freely within its margins. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (a film destined to be abbreviated for the rest of time as OUATIH, because that’s just way too much to have to type out over and over again) is a complete visual feast, with no stone unturned; every kitchen cabinet item, every park bench movie ad, every store front seems to have been pored over and hand-picked by the director himself. It’s not just a world of which, after three hours, you feel a part — it’s a world in which you wish you could live.

OUATIH’s (see?) tandem protagonists this time around are has-been television actor Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his ex-stunt double Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt). Cliff’s main job is to chauffeur Rick around Hollywood, as his wellspring of work has dried up with Rick’s, and the two seem to spend an awful lot of time just bro-ing out. As Rick courts new work and desperately tries to cling to the last tendrils of television stardom, Cliff lives a simpler life as Rick’s valet, retreating to the outskirts of Van Nuys by night where he lives with his dog in a run-down Airstream camper. The duo’s day-to-day exists as the film’s main thread, with Pitt oozing McQueen-style bravado (though Steve McQueen himself is a character in the film) and a drunken DiCaprio killing it with comic pathos as Rick overzealously tries to make the rounds and stage his comeback.

Tangentially related to the duo’s exploits is the parallel storyline of Sharon Tate, played with bubbly sweetness by Margot Robbie. Tate and her husband, director Roman Polanski, have just moved in next door to Rick, which thrills the aging actor in hopes he’ll end up in one of the lauded Polanski’s next films.

Casting a queasy cloud over all of this is the inclusion of the fringey, cultish Manson family, which lives on an abandoned movie set outside of town. It’s difficult, knowing history, not to let this add a certain uneasiness to the proceedings — especially considering you know Tarantino features them in order to address the events leading up to Tate and Company’s brutal murders on the night of August 9, 1969.

And this is all I’m going to tell you about this film narratively, because you don’t need to know anything else. Trust me. Just forget it and let’s move on.

You will be happy to learn, however, that all of Tarantino’s most oft-visited fetishes are on display here. Mid-sixties television references abound, as do brutal violence and gratuitous, lengthy scenes of people driving in classic cars (at least twenty minutes of the film’s runtime is dedicated to POV of people driving). Soundtrack-wise it’s probably the director’s most populated yet, and here’s hoping an extended cut of it will include the classic radio banter between songs during all this aforementioned driving. Noticeably absent is a memorable long-form monologue scene, a la Walken’s pocket watch scene in Pulp or the guns-under-the-table tavern scene from Basterds, but the indulgences Tarantino in the past has funneled into hearing his own words have somehow, almost sweetly, been replaced in OUATIH by visual indulgences of old-school Taco Bells and clips from classic television. Rest assured, though, that there are still plenty of shots of bare feet. Dirty feet hanging over the backs of chairs, feet mashed up against car window glass — it’s all here in true QT fashion.

At the end of the day, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear some argue that this is Tarantino’s best film — I think there’s certainly a case that a particularly rabid lover of it could make (personally, I don’t think anything can top the brilliance of Pulp Fiction). But while I don’t think it’s his best, it’s probably very close to the top of the director’s list. I do think it feels like his most loved film, in that it has a certain quality of feeling like a favorite child, a true pleasure for Tarantino to make. If you’re counting at home, this victory means Tarantino is nine for nine, which is no mean feat, and this gentler, funnier Tarantino may signify a more chilled-out and less violently frenetic latter half of his career. It may not be completely perfect but it’s pretty close and a lot of fun; at the very least, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is one hell of a Hollywood Hills hang.


Eight Ways To View The Moon

Eight Ways To View The Moon

Last Saturday we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.  There were a myriad of tweets, articles, news stories, documentaries and other forms of media coverage.  Many people looked to the moon landing as a means to wonder what could be the next great challenge we face as a country and as a people.  Many others debated whether or not the moon landing actually happened. (Spoiler alert, it did).  No matter where you fall on those topics, or whether you even cared much about the moon landing, one thing is certain.  That big gray rock has served as a backdrop for some awesome movies.  Even though the moon landing anniversary has passed there is no reason why the celebration of Earth’s lone natural satellite shouldn’t continue.  Here is a list of the best moon-related movies which you should pull up on your screens this week:

Dumb and Dumber

In case you’ve been living under rock, this is one of the greatest comedies of all time.  Lloyd’s discovery of the moon landing, 20+ years after it happened, is just one gem in a movie full of comic gold.

Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me

Some may think Moonraker is the best moon-related spy movie because it has the word “moon” in the title.  They’re wrong.  The Spy Who Shagged Me gave us Mini-Me, Fat Bastard, one of the best movie intros ever, and an actual base on the moon. Sure, many of the bits are recycled from the first Austin Powers movie, but they’re still funny.  If it’s been a while since you’ve seen this or you feel like you’ve lost a bit of your mojo, I highly recommend you revisit this one.

Independence Day

The film opens with an ominous shadow growing over the moon where we see the moon landing plaque and American flag.  As the spaceship travels beyond the moon we see Earth set in it’s sights.  What the aliens in that ship don’t know is that Russell Casse is there…waiting for them.

Man on the Moon

This one is for you conspiracy theorists out there.  Andy Kaufman was one of the most enigmatic entertainers of his time, maybe of all time.  He lived in the gray area between fiction and reality and nobody ever could really tell what was real with him, including his death.  The movie itself is pretty much like any biopic, but Jim Carrey’s portrayal of Kaufman is widely considered to be one of his best performances and makes the movie worth watching for that alone.

Star Wars

One of the most famous moons in film history.

Oh, sorry Ben.

An American Werewolf in London

There are a ton of werewolf movies but this one is tops.  As most know, the full moon is the catalyst which causes a human to transform into their werewolf form.  An American Werewolf in London takes the horror concept of the werewolf, sprinkles in some comedy and Oscar Award winning makeup effects to create what many consider one of the best horror movies of all time.

Apollo 13

The most realistic depiction of actual space travel on this list, Apollo 13 tells the story of the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission to the moon.  Still inspired by the success of the Apollo 11 mission, this movie tells the story of the astronauts as they prepare for their mission all the way its end.  The cast is absolutely fantastic with Tom Hanks, Ed Harris, Bill Paxton, Gary Sinise, and Kevin Bacon all bringing their A-games.  Not only is this movie one of the best moon-relate movies, it is also a cornerstone of one of my favorite games, Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.

Moon

Perhaps one of the lesser known movies on this list, Moon is one of the best sci-fi movies I have ever seen.  Led almost exclusively by Sam Rockwell and Kevin Spacey’s voice, Moon tells the story of a man overseeing a mining operation on the moon.  After an incident which requires medical treatment, we come to find out that not everything is as it seems on the space station and an hour and a half of suspense and intrigue follow.  If you haven’t seen this movie and are fans of sci-fi drama, I can’t recommend this movie enough.

2001: A Space Odyssey

2001 is the best of the best when it comes to moon-related movies.  It’s a classic and genre-defining movie.  If you haven’t seen it, now’s a good time to pull it up and give it a watch.


The Best Movies of 2019 That You (Probably) Haven’t Seen

The Best Movies of 2019 That You (Probably) Haven’t Seen

Poster for “Alita: Battle Angel.”

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.

Her Smell

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

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.

Honorable Mentions

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.


Charcon Gaming Convention – July 12-14 in Charleston, WV

Charcon Gaming Convention – July 12-14 in Charleston, WV


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.


The Funkhouser Situation E61: Across the Multiverse

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. 


Review: Yesterday

Review: Yesterday

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.

Himesh Patel as Jack Malik, doing his own rooftop concert.

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.