22nd Apr2016

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 4/22/16

by Will

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trainwreck

I finally caught the comedic hit Trainwreck, and I thought it was…decent. Written by and starring Amy Schumer, Amy knows how to screw, but she doesn’t know how to love (that really should’ve been the tagline). Raised by her father to believe that monogamy isn’t realistic, adult Amy tries to avoid any sort of commitment or intimacy in her relationships. That is, until she meets a particular sports doctor, played by Bill Hader. Since last summer, I’ve heard how laugh-out-loud funny this film was, but I’m not sure I saw the same movie. It has some great moments, especially any scenes containing John Cena and Lebron James (who’s a surprisingly good actor for an athlete. Those guys are usually wooden onscreen). Directed by Judd Apatow, it follows several Apatow tropes, in that it’s slightly too long, and the message is basically “Grow the fuck up!” I don’t really see what it is about Hader’s character that makes Amy think he’s The One. He’s a nice enough guy, but he’s not charismatic or all that interesting. He’s a bit of a square, so when Amy chooses him, it’s almost like she’s settling. I wasn’t fully paying attention, though, so I’ll probably watch it again to see if I’m being unfair. At the moment, though, I don’t really get the hype behind the movie, other than the fact that it was written by a popular female comedian whose star is on the rise. Outside of that, it’s a pretty formulaic, by the numbers romcom.

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On HBO, I caught the Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill drama Confirmation. Focusing mainly on Thomas’ confirmation hearings for the Supreme Court, it followed all the parties involved after Anita Hill came forward with allegations that Thomas had been sexually inappropriate with her ten years prior. I think everyone went into the film with their biases intact, but even though I believe Hill, I felt the movie was really skewed towards Thomas. The entire time, he maintained that these were baseless allegations, and there were scenes where it felt like he was to be seen as the victim here. One thing I did learn was that Thomas’ wife looks like a Shoney’s night manager – ya know, the kind who won’t accept your coupons? Yeah, that one. Anyway, when women come forward with these sorts of allegations, there are people who don’t believe them, and that was definitely covered here. Also, Joe Biden, portrayed by Greg Kinnear, didn’t come away from the film looking like the best guy. In the end, as anyone who knows history already knows, Thomas was confirmed, though the damage to his reputation had been done. 25 years later, and he’s still sitting pretty on the Supreme Court, while Hill is a footnote in American history. So, who really won here? The movie seems to imply that Hill won by coming forward, and opening the doors for more women in Congress and other high ranking positions. It seems like a last minute Hail Mary play, however, by a film that didn’t feel like it was on her side for most of the time. I’d love to know how other folks felt who watched it.

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On TV, I finally finished Fuller House, and I LOVED it. Sure, critics hated it, but the original wasn’t really beloved by critics, either. There were times I tried to watch it stoically, and then felt a smile creep across my face. Sure, it’s cheesy, but it’s a type of humor that’s missing from most modern sitcoms (especially considering most modern sitcoms are single cam, with a faux documentary being filmed). I loved seeing the old cast, I love the new kids, I love the crazy love triangle. To me, season 2 can’t come fast enough.

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This week also saw the season finales of two shows about hipster girls in NYC. First up, Girls wrapped up its fifth season, and I thoroughly enjoyed the two episodes that capped off the season. I tend to like Hannah the least of all of the titular girls on the show, but I really kinda felt for her in the finale. I started to really understand where she’s coming from, and didn’t hate her guts. She’s just a twenty-something, trying to do the best that she can. In the past, I thought she represented this sort of dangerous, arrested development. She wasn’t an adult, but rather just a big girl (which could be said for most twenty-somethings). The problem, though, was that she was OK with that. She never really seemed to be aspiring to anything greater. She was just a quitter at everything she tried, because she didn’t like the rules or whatever. The season ended with her in a different sort of place, though, so I’m interested to see where she goes in the sixth, and final, season of the show.

broad city

Meanwhile, Broad City wrapped up its third season with the girls taking a Birthright trip to Israel. I never thought I’d say this, but out of the two female-centric Millennial shows on cable, I think I enjoyed Girls more than I enjoyed Broad City this year. It used to be that Broad City was kinda quirky, but it still boiled down to the friendship between Abbi and Ilana. This season, though, Ilana turned into a cartoon character, and her “lesbianic” undertones toward Abbi got cranked up to 11. In the past, it was implied that Ilana had a crush on Abbi, but this year she wanted to be her full on wife, getting threatened whenever a dude came into the picture who might affect what they have. Ilana went from a delightful character to an annoyance for me. I figure we’ve probably only got another 2 or so seasons of Broad City left, as the girls’ other projects, like Time Traveling Bong, are getting off the ground. Here’s hoping they make the most of the time they’ve got left.

THREE S COMPANY

In movie news, there are talks that New Line is trying to acquire the rights to Three’s Company. Right now, the writers of He’s Just Not That Into You are attached, so this thing will probably be TURRIBLE. If you’re not familiar with it, Three’s Company was an ABC hit that ran from 1977-1984, starring John Ritter as an aspiring chef who lives with two girls. Since that was frowned up during that era, they told the landlord that he was gay so that he’d be OK with the living arrangement. It’s one of my favorite TV shows, but this sounds like a bad idea. I do, however, think it’d work as a rebooted television series, which I wrote about a few years ago. Here’s hoping this reboot talk gets me some website hits!

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In other movie news, it was reported that author Michael Chabon (The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay) and comic writer Brian K. Vaughan (Y: The Last Man) have joined the writers room for Hasbro’s shared cinematic universe. Damn, talk about a waste of talent! These guys are the real deal, and they’re being used to figure out how G.I. Joe is gonna mesh with ROM: The Space Knight?! Hasbro must’ve REALLY backed up a Brink’s truck.

I can’t wait for The Founder, starring Michael Keaton as Ray Kroc – the founder of McDonald’s. Though, the story isn’t so cut and dried, as this movie explores. After all, Kroc was just a milkshake machine salesman, while the McDonald brothers created the brand. And then Kroc stole it from them by franchising it. As a lifelong fat kid, McDonald’s means a lot to me, so this is basically my The Social Network.

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In TV drama, it was announced that Michael Strahan would be leaving Live! with Kelly and Michael and joining Good Morning America full time. This seems like a network decision, as both shows are owned by Disney and they wanted more for Strahan, but Kelly Ripa is PISSED! She feels like Strahan betrayed her, and she’s now refusing to show up for work until he’s gone. This is going to be somewhat hard, as he’s not scheduled to leave until September. *Looks at calendar* It’s now APRIL. I feel like the lawyers are gonna get involved before this goes on too long, but I imagine it’s going to get uglier before it gets better. I feel like this is a great opportunity, though, because they can now just hire Neil Patrick Harris to be Kelly’s cohost. The word on the street is that he was one of the favorites for the job the last time that it was available, but he was still doing How I Met Your Mother, and couldn’t do that commute. Now that HIMYM has ended, and Best Time Ever got canceled, the timing is perfect.

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In Power Rangers news, we got our first look at Elizabeth Banks as villain Rita Repulsa. I’m not so sure about this. On the one hand, it looks like a combination of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers henchwoman Scorpina, mixed with Power Rangers Turbo villain Divatox. I can see those influences. And the green color kinda makes sense as to why she’ll be so obsessed with the Green Ranger once he’s inevitably introduced. Still, it’s odd to me that there are no callbacks to the original design. No pointy boobs, no headdress, nothing. She’s just Generic Space Villainess. If anything, it just makes me nervous about what the Ranger suits are gonna look like. To me, it’s pretty risky because if you deviate too much from the pattern, then they look like those bootleg action figures you’ve been finding in dollar stores for the past 20 years. I get this is something of a “reboot”, but there still needs to be ties to the original property, for both casual and hardcore fans. Is it enough that it’s a bunch of teens fighting an evil space alien? It might as well be Tattooed Teenage Alien Fighters From Beverly Hills: The Movie. Or Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad: The Movie. There are things that make Power Rangers special, and I’m not seeing them yet in what we’ve seen from this adaptation.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • Season 2 of Mr. Robot premieres July 13th on USA
  • Carrie-Anne Moss is joining season 2 of AMC’s HUMANS
  • After 30 years, Dr. Drew Pinsky is leaving the Loveline radio show. It’s unclear if the show will continue with a new host
  • Robert Downey Jr. will appear as Iron Man in Spider-Man: Homecoming

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I guess, looking back on the week, Harriet Tubman was cock of the walk. Who’da thunk an abolitionist would be making news in 2016? Anyway, it was announced that Tubman will soon adorn the $20 bill, moving Andrew Jackson to the back of the bill. Originally, the plan was to remove Alexander Hamilton from the $10 bill, but the popularity of the Broadway (and Pulitzer prize winning) show, Hamilton, stopped that plan in its tracks. Now, Millennials will be even more insufferable about that show, AND tickets will be even harder to get, but I digress…According to history, Jackson was a bad man, sending the Native Americans off on the Trail of Tears. Why? Because he wanted their land for plantations. Way to go, dude! Anyway, the idea of putting a woman on some paper American currency gained steam last year when a young girl named Sofia sent a letter to President Obama urging him to do so. Well, this week, little Sofia got a birthday surprise when it was announced that the design will be made public in 2020. Tubman will be the first Black person on American currency, and the first woman in over a century. So, in light of this development, Harriet Tubman had the West Week Ever.

08th Apr2016

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 4/8/16

by Will

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dead 7

First up, I watched Dead 7 last Friday night. If y’all remember, it’s the zombie western starring former boyband members. Written by Backstreet Boys’ Nick Carter, it also starred Howie Dorough (BSB), AJ McLean (BSB), Joey Fatone (*NSYNC), Chris Kirkpatrick (*NSYNC), and Jeff Timmons (98 Degrees). This movie was a MESS. Now, I do have a confession to make: I forgot it was coming on until some folks tweeted me about it, so I missed the first 25 minutes. So, once I turned it on, I was LOST! I don’t know why people were zombies or “copperheads”, I’m still not clear why copperhead teeth are used as currency, and I don’t get why they were so hellbent on killing MadTV‘s Debra Wilson. All I know is that the acting was HORRIBLE (UPDATE: After writing this, I went back and watched the first half hour. Yup, still lost). This being an Asylum film, I expected something “so bad it’s good”, like the tongue in cheek Sharknado franchise. Instead, they played this pretty straight, which was to its detriment. Sure, Fatone’s Whiskey Joe was basically comic relief, but he really didn’t fit the tone of the rest of the movie. The best part of the movie was the end, where everyone was dead except Nick Carter’s wife (What? You weren’t gonna watch it!). So, hopefully that means they can’t try to make a sequel. At the end of the day, it just felt like a bad April Fool’s joke. Still, we did get a decent collaboration track out of it:

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Next up, I watched the DC Animated feature Justice League vs Teen Titans and I must say that it’s my favorite DC “vs” movie that I’ve seen this year. Basically a sequel to both Batman: Bad Blood and Justice League: Throne of Atlantis, it brings together the Batman and Justice League goings on of the DC Animated Original Movie universe. Fresh off the events of Bad Blood, Batman feels Damian needs to learn to be a team player, so he has Nightwing take him to join the Teen Titans. In this incarnation, the team is Raven, Beast Boy, and Blue Beetle, mentored by Starfire. Of course, Damian doesn’t really take to being on a team, but when Raven’s father Trigon possesses members of the Justice League, the team comes together. I didn’t like this as much as I did the Batman films, as I don’t know much about the DCAO Justice League, never having seen War or Throne of Atlantis. I don’t know much about that incarnation of the team, so I don’t care that much about them. I’m invested in the development of Damian, and it was great to see something of a crush develop between him and Raven (something we haven’t seen before), so I probably would’ve liked it more had it just been a Teen Titans movie.  I did like how they managed to get Cyborg on the team even though he’s technically a Justice Leaguer. To be honest, I fell asleep on it, but that’s probably because I was really tired. The same thing happened when I watched Superman/Batman: Public Enemies. So, I had to watch it twice. Still, that might’ve been one time too many. It’s not bad, but it’s certainly not as exciting or action packed as the other Damian-centric Batman animated films. There’s also a post-credits stinger that makes me interested in what’s coming next. It’s not the best DC animated movie, but there are worse ways to kill 80 minutes.

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In other areas of nerddom, I finally watched Pacific Rim. My pal Keith came to town and insisted we watch it when he saw it had been on my DVR for the past year. Overall, I liked it a lot. I do have some questions, though. For example, why do they all keep saying “nucular”? I can’t trust my protection in the hands of someone who gets that wrong. Also, did they really think a WALL was gonna stop the Kaiju? The same Kaiju who routinely fuck up buildings made of WALLS?! Was Trump behind that plan? And something about Jaegers seems inefficient. I’m not sure if it’s the walking mechanism or what, but it seems like the pilots expend way too much energy to get those things going. Also, do you think the Chinese Jaeger was modified with the 3rd arm once a set of triplets was chosen to pilot it OR did they seek out a set of triplets to pilot their 3-armed Jaeger? Hated the post-credits scene, but overall, I really enjoyed the film. It’s something of a shame that a sequel is off the table for now, but maybe it’ll end up like Independence Day where we get a sequel in 20 years.

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On TV, I watched the premiere of Wynonna Earp on Syfy and BOY was I disappointed! To be honest, I didn’t even know they were making a show until I saw the commercial during Dead 7. Though I’m familiar with the comic of the same name, the development of this show really flew under the radar. Anyway, starring Canadian actress Melanie Scrofano, it’s about a rebellious chick who happens to be a descendant of legendary sheriff Wyatt Earp. She returns home when her uncle dies under mysterious circumstances, and has to retrieve Earp’s gun which, legend has it, can kill demons or something. The show was VERY Canadian – like, it’s not the kind of thing that deserves a prime timeslot, but would’ve been just fine as a Saturday afternoon syndicated series in the late 90s. While I grew to love Krysten Ritter’s portrayal of Jessica Jones, Scrofano’s Earp is closer to what I had in mind for the look and feel of that character. So, she’s basically Jessica Jones in a shitty vampire show. Or better yet, it’s Witchblade with a mystical pistol. Either way, I don’t think I’ll be tuning in again.

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I also caught the final 5 minutes of The Walking Dead. Now, let me be clear: I don’t watch the show, and I quit reading the comic at #50. To me, something like that needs an endgame, and interviews with creator Robert Kirkman made it clear that the thing is gonna run as long as he feels like it, with no real blueprint in mind. Ain’t nobody got time for that. Still, somebody was supposed to die, and I’m a sucker for those kinds of season finales. So, I turned off Girls and tuned into the end of the episode. Evil villain Negan was due to kill someone important, and I needed to see if he chose the same character he chose in the comics. I was kinda hoping he’d kill that Boondock Saints dude ’cause maybe he’ll stop being able to charge $300 for a picture at shitty comic cons. Well, the episode ended up not telling us who died. Nope, viewers have to wait until October to find out. And they lost their shit! I kinda thought it was funny, as it harkens back to the days of “Who Shot JR?” but viewers seem to feel like they’re owed something. Look, when a show cuts its teeth on dragging shit out (Glenn under the dumpster), then it doesn’t care about you. It’s doing what it’s doing for the sake of drama. I’m curious to see what the ratings will be like for the season premiere. Will they go up because folks want to find out who died, or will they go down because folks feel betrayed by the finale? I’m not gonna watch, ’cause I don’t care, and I’m sure someone will spoil it on Twitter so it’s not like I won’t be “in the know”.

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Arrow tugged at the heartstrings this week by killing off a main cast member (don’t worry – I’m not gonna spoil who it was). This season has really been aimless, and the death didn’t really help things. We knew that one was coming, due to the flash forward cemetery scene from the season premiere. The funny thing, though, is that the writers basically backed themselves into a corner. They knew that someone would die, but they hadn’t decided exactly who would die by the time the season began. They were just going to let the story dictate who would meet their fate. Well, lucky for them, drama erupted behind the scenes. According to rumors (I could’ve said “sources”, but who are we kidding?), this actor reportedly had some disagreements with star, Stephen Amell – which is supposedly the real reason Colton Haynes left the show. So, how long can Arrow survive if Amell is this difficult to work with? The show’s already been renewed for season 5, but they’re really going to need to work hard to return it to the quality that it once had. I never really liked the character who died, so I don’t think it’s gonna hurt the show much. In fact, it might be the first step on the road to making things better. Only time will tell.

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I also caught “Tran Dimensional Turtles”, which was an episode of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon where the current incarnation of the team meets the original 80s team. It was…interesting. I haven’t watched the show since the first season, so I didn’t know all the stuff about Earth being devoured by a black hole or something and that the Turtles are now space faring. The whole episode featured the different teams bouncing between 2D and 3D, but the trick got old fast. Apparently, 80s Krang is the cousin of the Kraang Subprime from the new series – who wears Irma’s head on a pike? I’ve clearly missed a lot. Anyway, I liked this idea better when the 4Kids Turtles show did it as “Turtles Forever”.  Something this monumental needs to take place outside a standard 22 minute episode, and this should’ve been a bigger event.

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In the comic world, Black Panther #1 hit stores on Wednesday to rave reviews and critical acclaim. Written by noted author Ta-Nehisi Coates, with art by Brian Stelfreeze, the book focused on a king without a people. T’Challa, king of the African nation of Wakanda, and Black Panther to the hero set, is trying to unify his people after a string of disasters nearly tore the nation apart. A supernatural force, however, seems to be amplifying the citizens’ feelings of hate and fear, making T’Challa’s job much harder. I…didn’t enjoy this book. Let me say that I was initially looking for a quick, fun read and this was the wrong choice. I really didn’t know what was going on half the time. I think I need to give it another shot, but it didn’t immediately grab me. They do a decent enough job explaining all of the plights that Wakanda had experienced recently, but I still felt like I needed to come into the story with some prerequisite reading of which I was unaware. I actually recently read Coates’s Between the World and Me, so I’m familiar with his style, but I don’t know if I’m a fan yet. For this one, I may just wait for the trade. If I read it at all.

Alfre Woodard

In Marvel news, it was announced that Alfre Woodard will have a role in Captain America: Civil War, as the mother of a civilian who died during Avengers: Age of Ultron. So, basically she’s playing Miriam Sharpe. In the Civil War comic miniseries, the whole thing was kicked off after The New Warriors inadvertently caused an explosion at a Stamford, CT school, resulting in the deaths of several children. The mother of one of the children, Miriam Sharpe, became the face of the movement to require more regulation for super powered beings. So, it seems like Woodard may be playing the same role here, as I doubt they’d cast her as just a throwaway character. Here’s where things get interesting, though: She’s already been cast as Black Mariah in the Luke Cage Netflix series. So, we’ve got one actress playing two different characters in the MCU. I know the film division isn’t really paying attention to what the TV division is doing, but this is a bit much. Couldn’t they have cast Angela Bassett in one of those roles? They’re basically the same chick (Yes, I know she’s currently Amanda Waller, but my point stands)!

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In other Marvel news, it’s reported that a Cloak & Dagger series is being prepared for ABC’s Freeform (formerly ABC Family) network. So far, there’s no script, showrunner, actors, or anything attached, but the show is being developed to focus on a teenage Cloak & Dagger, as they deal with their powers and relationship. Freeform is the perfect place for show like this. I just hope it doesn’t have strong ties to the greater MCU because I really don’t want to have to watch it. I’ve never really been down with Cloak & Dagger, and I pretty much despise everything that comes on that channel. Speaking of Freeform, the same press release announced they have a late night show in development called Later Bitches. $20 says that name doesn’t make it to air.

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In DC news, Warner Bros announced a shift in their DC Cinematic Universe slate, as Wonder Woman has been moved up from June 23rd to June 2nd 2017. They also added two untitled DC films to the schedule for October 5th, 2018 and November 1st, 2019. One of these is probably the standalone Batman film that’s been rumored since before Dawn of Justice even premiered. The shift also bumped Andy Serkis’s The Jungle Book adaptation to 2018, which reminds me that it’s kinda foolish for there to be TWO Jungle Book adaptations released within two years of each other (Disney’s comes out next month). Unless one of these serves as the lead-in to the events of Tale Spin, I’m not interested.

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The Star Wars: Rogue One teaser debuted yesterday. It looked interesting. Female protagonist again. I’m not gonna “raise cane” about it, because representation is good. I am, however, still mad I got “bamboozled” out of my Black Jedi. I remarked that it kinda looks like “The Hunger Games In Space”, and that’s somewhat of the vibe I got from it. It’s not that it’s a young adult dystopia, but I feel like I’ve seen this Jyn character before in other movies. Anyway, I can’t say I’m jazzed about the film ’cause I’m just not a Star Wars person by default, but I might see it. I didn’t initially realize this was a prequel to A New Hope, so it’ll be interesting to see things from that frame of time. Still, it’s another movie with a Death Star. Take that however you will.

Remember Weekend At Bernies? Didn’t you wish Bernie had been used as a machine gun or a jet ski? Well, here’s Swiss Army Man! I can’t believe this is a real movie.

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In social media, I got a tweet favorited by the co-creator of Girls last Sunday. all I did was tweet a line of dialogue (with an errant comma), so it’s nothing to really write home about.

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So, last night saw the end of an institution, as American Idol signed off for the last time. After 15 seasons, and the creation of a handful of stars, the show is finally taking a rest. I think it’ll be back one day, but America simply isn’t as interested as it once was. After all, they’ve got Blake Shelton and Christina Aguilera spinning around in chairs to worry about. Even if you hate the show, you can’t deny the impact it has had on pop culture, for good or for bad. Kelly Clarkson has sold 25 million albums and won 3 Grammys. Carrie Underwood has sold 65 millions albums and has won 7 Grammys. And even “losers”, like Jennifer Hudson (won an Oscar and a Grammy) and Chris Daughtry (sold over 8 million albums), have done well for themselves. It made Simon Cowell and Ryan Seacrest (who unleashed the Kardashians on the world) household names, while it rejuvenated the career of Paula Abdul. Idol always struck that balance of making it about the contestants, while still making it about the judges (something The Voice has never pulled off). And there was a time when the Idol name meant something. People bought the CDs, and packed stadiums for the tours. Those days are long gone, but the show helped the music industry at a time when it desperately needed a shot in the arm. It made the consumer feel like she had power in the industry by putting success up to a vote. Sure, shows like Star Search had done this in the past, but that show never had as many eyes on it as American Idol. It was the number one show on television for the coveted 18-49 demographic for 8 consecutive years.

American Idol also has personal meaning for me, too. For example, I almost got to audition for the first season, but things got in the way. See, when my a cappella group performed at the ICCA Finals, we were invited to audition the next day. Nobody knew what the show was going to be, so there weren’t lines and folks camping out for auditions like they did in later seasons. They were approaching a cappella groups because they knew those folks had singing experience. The rest of my group, however, was all, “We have finals to study for.” Those guys had no ambition (which is exactly why they’re all successful doctors, lawyers, and engineers, but I digress…)! Later on in college, I was a finalist for Cornell Idol, which was our local campus take on the show. In recent years, I’ve gotten in my fair share of Twitter fights with former contestants, like Justin Guarini and Blake Lewis – not to mention all the grandma fans of Scotty McCreary and Taylor Hicks. You can say that Idol has orbited my extracurricular activities since it began.

Last night, Trent Harmon won the 15th and final season of American Idol and, based on recent years’ winners, you’ll probably never hear from him again. Still, the impact the Idol juggernaut has had can’t be denied. That’s why American Idol had the West Week Ever.

28th Mar2016

The Most Underrated Television Theme Songs: Webster

by Will

I’m not sure if this is gonna become a regular thing around here, but I’m kinda tired of just being “The West Week Ever Guy”, and I felt the need to stretch my legs a bit. Anyway, when driving, showering, etc, I tend to have random TV theme songs just jump into my head. As I’ve said before, TV raised me, so a lot of these songs hold a special place in my heart. Also, a lot of them simply don’t get enough credit in the world of pop culture. So, we’re gonna take a look at a few of these gems.

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Today, I had the theme song for Webster to pop into my head, and now I can’t get it out. Not familiar with the show? Well, did you ever watch Diff’rent Strokes? It’s basically the Great Value version of that show. Rich White folks adopting Black kids. Man, that was like an 80s yuppie’s dream, wasn’t it? Anyway, the show starred former NFL player Alex Karras and his real life wife Susan Clark as an upper-middle class couple that ends up taking in the Black child of one of Alex’s former teammates. But that’s not what the show was originally about. No, it was supposed to be a romantic comedy, called Another Ballgame, about the relationship between former jock Karras and socialite Clark, but ABC saw little Emmanuel Lewis is a Burger King commercial and became determined to put him in a show. So, they retooled the show, against Karras and Clark’s wishes (their production company was attached to the show), and shoved Lewis into the show as precocious little Webster. Oh, and they also changed the name of the show to Then Came You. If you listen to the theme, it’s right there in front of you. But ABC wasn’t done flexing their muscles. They wanted everyone to know the show was about Webster so, against Karras and Clark’s wishes AGAIN, they changed the name of the show to simply Webster.

All of that is kind of why I love this theme song, as it’s almost like someone didn’t get the memo from the network. First off, it’s just great 80s cheese. And, technically, the song isn’t even really about a kid who magically comes into their lives. Sure, it could be interpreted that way, but it’s really just about having your life blindsided by new love. It’s kinda like how Creed songs are about relationships, but really about God. The song still heavily references Then Came You, and the visuals focus on “Ma’am and George”, with Webster shoved in at the end.  It’s the perfect metaphor for what was going on behind the scenes.

These days, most folks only remember the show for its odd link to Star Trek: The Next Generation, but it lasted an impressive 6 seasons and 150 episodes (God, I love a nice round number like that!). Karras passed away in 2012, and Emmanuel Lewis hasn’t really been seen publicly since The Surreal Life. In today’s reboot happy culture, I’m kinda surprised this hasn’t been redone. I mean, I wouldn’t call it Webster, but I would replicate the concept under a different name – ya know, like how Step By Step was just The Brady Bunch: The Next Generation. It’d be about a couple of gentrifiers who somehow take in an inner city kid. Give me a call, Hollywood. Meanwhile, I’m gonna go listen to this theme song about 80 more times before the day is over.

04th Mar2016

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 3/4/16

by Will

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Howdy, folks! I took a week off because there was just too much going on in “real life”, but I’m back in style. We’ve got a lot to talk about this week, so let’s get to it!

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On the movie front, I found myself watching the Diary of a Wimpy Kid movies. Lindsay had them on, and I caught the tail end of the first one. I liked it so much that I sat and watched the second one, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules. If you’re not familiar with the series, it’s based on the HUGELY successful kids book series, and follows middle schooler Greg Heffley and his struggles. In the first movie, Greg and his best friend Rowley join the safety patrol in order to become popular. Yeah, that goes about as well as you’d expect. In the second movie, Greg and his older brother, Rodrick, despise each other. But when they’re left home together and throw a party, they have to lean on each other to keep their story straight. Meanwhile, Greg is still trying to be popular in middle school, and falls for the new girl in town. I actually really liked these movies, and I’m curious to check out the final film, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days. I was too old for the Wimpy Kid books when they came out, but I’ve always wondered why they resonate so well with middle schoolers. After watching the movies, I think I get it now. If you like innocent fun, or have a middle schooler in your house, I highly recommend this franchise.

F is for Family

On the Netflix front, I finally finished F is for Family. Considering I only had one episode to go, I’m not quite sure why it took me, like, 2 months to finish it, but here we are. Created by comedian Bill Burr, it’s basically an edgier King of the Hill. I really enjoyed the series, but it felt a bit disjointed to rejoin it so long after watching the first 5 episodes, as it was clearly made to be binged. I hope it gets a second season but, unlike most Netflix shows, this one kinda flew under the radar, with little promotion.

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On TV, The Real O’Neals debuted on ABC, and I really enjoyed it. It’s about an Irish-Catholic family whose perfect veneer cracks when all of their drama becomes public during a church bingo game. The parents are getting a divorce, one son comes out of the closet, the other son has an eating disorder, and the daughter has a bunch of stuff going on. And hilarity ensues! No, really. I felt like the show was pretty funny, and seemed like a natural fit for ABC. After Raising Hope, Martha Plimpton has really carved out a niche of “working class wife and mother”, and she’s great in this show. The marketing seems to be making the gay son the focus, but it really plays more like an ensemble show. Its moral is that family can overcome anything. I find the scheduling to be somewhat worrisome, though. While it debuted with 2 episodes on Wednesday, it will eventually move to Tuesdays, following Fresh Off The Boat.  I feel like The Middle and The Goldbergs are better companion shows for this one, but I also know how precious Wednesday night real estate is for ABC. Modern Family ain’t moving, and I think Black-ish has pretty much earned its timeslot at this point. I guess time will tell.

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I’ve also found that I’m back to hate-watching Girls. Why, oh why, do I watch this show? I hate everyone involved with it except for Peter Scolari and Allison Williams (and I still can’t look at her without thinking of her father’s fall from grace). It’s hard to stomach Lena Dunham’s female empowerment shtick when her character Hannah Horvath sucks so much at life. I mean, is she a role model for people? Yeah, I’m having a hard time separating the actor from the role. I don’t expect that everyone should even be a role model, but I feel like there are people out there who look up to her. WHY? And I really don’t need to see her naked anymore. You can call me a body shamer, but it just makes me sick to my stomach at this point. I could just stop watching. I get that. But I still have a morbid curiosity about the whole thing.

power-rangers_612x380In movie news, we got our first cast picture of the cinematic Power Rangers team. Filming has begun, as someone posted a picture of an Angel Grove Police cruiser online. I dunno what it is, but I’m getting a Divergent vibe from this film. I’m not sure if it’s because they’re both from Lionsgate. Or the fact that every teen action movie lately is basically Divergent/Hunger Games/The Maze Runner. Or the fact that the director was also behind Project Almanac. I just feel like it’s gonna be “teen angstier” than it needs to be. I mean, read this from Entertainment Weekly: “The new Power Rangers is a coming of age story for these “disenfranchised and disparate” high schoolers, who are not friends when the new story begins.” NO! I don’t need a Power Rangers team composed of a bunch of outcasts and outsiders. That’s not..breathe, Will. I’m reserving judgment on this thing until I see more, but I don’t like how it’s shaping up right now.

ghostbusters

So, the Ghostbusters trailer came out yesterday. I liked it. I wasn’t wowed by it, but I think it shows promise. Of course, the folks who were against it from the get-go are even more against it now. I think it swayed folks who are on the fence, but it didn’t do anything for the ones who have been against it from the very beginning. I have a long history with the Ghostbusters franchise. I have the Firehouse playset in my mom’s basement. I have the Proton Pack. Let’s just say that I loved me some Ghostbusters. That said, I think I’ve been more of a fan of the cartoon, The Real Ghostbusters, than I was of the movies. I’ve been an unorthodox fan of the movies, as I don’t feel the first one is the sacred cow that some think, and I personally like the second one more (sacrilege!). So, when they announced a new movie, it didn’t really hurt me. When they announced it would be directed by Paul Feig and star Melissa McCarthy, I was ready to surrender my money. The trailer, however, was kinda meh to me. I mean, I’ll still see the movie, but it didn’t get me any more excited than I already was. Some folks are upset that Leslie Jones’s Patty Tolan is an MTA worker instead of a scientist, but I think it works for her. I don’t see Leslie Jones as an actress who’s gonna play anything far from who she really is, so I’m fine with what she’ll bring to that type of role. Still, haters gonna hate. I’m OK if you don’t like the idea of the movie. I get that. Sacred cow and all that. But at least give it a chance before you judge it, right?

agent carter

This week saw the season (series?) finale of Marvel’s Agent Carter. It’s up in the air because it really doesn’t seem like ABC is gonna renew it. The ratings for this season were even lower than those from last season. It also doesn’t help that star Hayley Atwell has landed the lead role in the pilot for ABC’s Conviction. Sure, she could film Agent Carter once Conviction goes on break (IF it’s picked up as a series), as Agent Carter is more of a mideseason fill-in than a full season show. While there was a cliffhangery aspect to the finale, it ended on a note where we could be satisfied if this truly is THE END. Plus, the character keeps popping up in Marvel films even when she doesn’t need to (Ant-Man, anyone?), so it’s surely not the last we’ve seen of her. Meanwhile, ABC renewed 8 shows yesterday, including Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but I doubt we’ll have any news on Agent Carter before the May upfronts.

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Speaking of Marvel television, during my little hiatus, it was announced that Finn Jones from Game of Thrones has been cast as Iron Fist in the upcoming Netflix series. *Sigh* I really didn’t want to get into this, but I guess there’s no time like the present, right? Anyway, I’m part of an online collective called The Nerds of Color, but I don’t really write for them anymore because nobody reads my stuff over there. It was created by a former coworker of mine, Keith Chow, and it originally contained a couple of friends of mine until they were deemed too controversial. In any case, Keith wrote an article about 2 years ago, pleading with Marvel to cast an Asian American in the Iron Fist role.

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If you unfamiliar with the character, Iron Fist is the heroic identity of Danny Rand, a rich White guy who grew up in the mystical city of K’un-Lun after he was orphaned in a plane crash. Rand learns all the kung fu, and gains the magical power of the Iron Fist. He returns to New York, and becomes the best friend of Luke Cage, AKA Power Man, with whom he forms the Heroes for Hire. So, basically you’ve got this blonde guy who’s a martial arts expert, in a mystical Orientalist society, making him a fish out of water. I always thought that made the character unique. At the same time, though, it’s problematic because it basically means this White dude is better at Asian stuff than actual Asians. While I wouldn’t necessarily cast him in the “White Savior” role, it does seem a bit…off. Still, I always kinda rolled it into the “that’s what makes his character special” argument.

Keith argues that you could keep all of these aspects while still casting an Asian American as Rand. His main push for this is the matter of representation. It would mean a lot to Asian American viewers to see themselves represented in the Marvel Universe. He argues that Rand could be alienated from his Asian culture, which would help him to retain his position as an outsider. If you want to know more, just read the post. In all, Keith has a valid argument and I can see where he’s coming from. That said, I don’t like it.

There’s more to representation than just showing up to the party, and I feel like that’s what would be happening here. It’s changing a race merely for the sake of change. Even if it gives the character more depth, does it, then, remain the same character? Danny Rand isn’t that deep. If they cast an Asian American, then the argument would be “Why is he so vapid? Why doesn’t he reflect the best of us?” On top of that, you run into issues with the whole “look at the Asian who’s great at kung fu” thing. In a lot of ways, you’re reinforcing a stereotype for the sake of representation. My friend James took offense to some representation in a reboot of Firestorm a few years back. Sure, the new Firestorm was Black, but there’s also a scene with him in a chicken suit. To James, that cost of representation was too high. I feel that way here. Sure, you get another (definitely sorely-needed) Asian American on television, but at what cost? It certainly isn’t really changing many minds about what they’re capable of. The argument screams “We own kung fu, so we should be the only ones depicted doing it”, but we live in a time and world of cultural appropriation. Nothing belongs to anyone anymore. Ask Eminem and Adele. So, to me, there’s nothing special about an Asian American who knows kung fu. I’m sorry to say that, but if you didn’t know anything about me other than the fact that I’m Black, would you be surprised if I could rap? Probably not. Stereotypes are a bitch like that.

sam jackson nick fury

At the end of the day, though, I just hate change. Sure, you could say that it’s been done before with Samuel L. Jackson and Nick Fury, but even that is a trickier situation. There was some source material for that (The Ultimates comic), so it sort of “cushioned the blow”, so to speak. The Ultimate Universe was a different reality, and in that one, Nick Fury just happened to be Black. If they had made Ultimate Iron Fist an Asian American, I’d probably get behind it. I guess I just have issues with the live action going their own way without cues from the comics. Even the comics make stupid race decisions sometimes, like introducing a random ass Black character who suddenly turns out to be Nick Fury Jr., just so all the comics kinda match the movies. That was a hamfisted move, and as nuanced an argument as Keith makes, casting an Asian American as Iron Fist, in some sort of attempt at cultural reclamation, also feels hamfisted. I’ve been quiet because I really didn’t have an intelligent rebuttal. All I had to go on was how I felt. My problem, however, was that The Nerds of Color never issued a counterpoint. #AAIronFist became the rallying cry of the site, so it was pretty much assumed that if you were with them, then you were with them. Now, since the news broke, people are talking about how disappointed they are in Marvel, and even saying they’re boycotting the show. Look, everyone has drunk the Marvel Kool-Aid by this point. It doesn’t matter if Iron Fist is purple, you’re gonna at least watch the first episode to see what it’s all about. At this point, I feel like it was a valiant effort, and I applaud everyone for their hard work, but I believe it’s time to move on and give Finn Jones a chance. Not a sermon, just a thought.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • Disney announced a Big Hero 6 series for DisneyXD from the Kim Possible creators
  • Nickelodeon announced a TV movie based on the Legends of the Hidden Temple game show. I only saw this thing in hotels (no cable), so I’m not quite sure why everyone loves it so much.
  • The Baywatch film, which is being described as “Avengers meets Anchorman“, has added David Hasselhoff to the cast in an unknown role.

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Everywhere you look, folks were talking about it this week. That’s right: Fuller House debuted last Friday to horrible reviews. But that didn’t matter, because folks ate it up anyway. It did so well, that a second season has already been greenlit just a week after its premiere. In case you’ve been living under a rock, Fuller House is an update to the TGIF mainstay of the 80s and 90s, Full House. In the original, widower Danny Tanner was raising his 3 girls with help from his brother in law and best friend. In this sequel series, oldest daughter, DJ Fuller (née Tanner) is a widow herself, and her sister and best friend help her to raise her 3 boys. I’m only 4 episodes in, but I’ve got thoughts. Come along with me, will you?

  • Jodie Sweetin, Jodie Sweetin! Never has a former meth addiction looked so good. I know every website and Tumblr has been enamored with her breasts over the last week, so I won’t go that route. I’ll just say I was begging for another season just for more Jodie.
  • Critics wanna bash the show, but clearly they forgot that the original series wasn’t exactly Waiting for Godot. It was a cheesy, saccharine show – the kind critics have NEVER liked. That was the plight of the entire TGIF lineup. As hard as they worked, they never go the recognition of other sitcoms.
  • As much as people are loving Jodie Sweetin, I was glad to see Andrea Barber. See, I always kinda had a crush on Kimmy Gibbler. They always tried to paint her as gross, with smelly feet and all that, but I wasn’t buying it. I think it’s because she always had that “Yeah, she’d probably date a Black guy” vibe to her. I guess the producers saw that, too, as her ex-husband on the show is Latino (close enough!).
  • LOVE the updated theme song. Glad to see that Carly Rae Jepsen will be remembered as more than just the “Call Me Maybe Girl”
  • I was kinda disappointed in the decision they’d made with Danny’s new wife. If you followed the casting call, they were reportedly looking for an “Attractive, vivacious and youthful African American woman in her 40s”. That made me think they were going the Niecy Nash route. I mean, could you imagine Danny Tanner married to a Black chick? Nope! And that is EXACTLY why I wanted to see it. Instead, they went with Latina actress Eva LaRue. I used to LOVE her about 20 years ago, when she was making the crappy UPN sitcom rounds.
  • Unlike a lot of sitcoms, I like the kids – especially Max. They feel like kids, and not little adults trapped in kid bodies (I’m looking at you, Girl Meets World).
  • Speaking of the kids, Ramona Gibbler is an interesting character, as she’s the first time hamfisted diversity has been introduced to the Full House universe. Sure, Michelle had a bunch of halfy friends, like Denise and Teddy, but it was never dealt with like “I’m White, and they’re Black”. They just were. Eager to embrace her Latin side, early in the season Ramona comments that the Fullers are the Whitest family around. Yeah, the Tanners/Fullers always have been, but it didn’t seem “in universe” to ever bring attention to that.
  • It was nice that they got back the original Nicky and Alex. Man, the Twin gods did not shine brightly upon them!
  • Joey was married (check the ring), but never mentioned his wife and/or kids. I’ll need to know more about them next season.
  • Isn’t it nice that everyone got to pursue their dreams? Danny and Rebecca are about to have a nationally syndicated morning show (the current climate for those doesn’t indicate success, but whatever), Jessie is the music director for General Hospital, and Joey’s got a Vegas residency. Couldn’t, like, one of them be struggling? Well, I guess they had to write them out of the main show somehow.
  • I know we’ve had over 20 years to kinda hate Dave Coulier, especially after The Surreal Life and the Alanis Morissette drama, but it doesn’t feel like he has “it” anymore. Like, when he was doing his voices, I felt the same kind of sad for him that I feel when Michael Winslow still tries to do sound effects. It’s like “Awww, bless his heart!”
  • Finally, I don’t miss Michelle. Never liked her. Sure, it was OK to have the occasional “You got it, dude”, but she Urkeled that show into the ground. So, I’m not disappointed that she didn’t come back. It was interesting that they had the whole in-joke about it in the first episode, but I’m just fine with her focusing on her “fashion empire”.

Anyway, as I said, I’m only 4 episodes in. I’ve got another 9 to go, but so far I like what I see. They don’t really make television like this anymore, and Netflix is the perfect home for it as it wouldn’t fit on today’s broadcast networks. It’s too sweet and sappy for primetime, but it’s too adult for Nick/Disney (there’s a semen joke in the premiere). So, I’m glad that Netflix exists for these shows that are a bit outside the box. I look forward to the next 4 and a half hours, and I look forward to next season. So, for that, Fuller House had the West Week Ever.

*credits roll*

Best Boy – Some Dude

Gaffer – Another Dude

Key Grip – A Third Dude

*more credits*

 

Still here? Great. Well, I want to have a discussion about sharing. You see, views and likes are nice, but when you don’t share posts, you’re being selfish. To put it in Sunday school terms, you’re hiding it under a bushel. Don’t you want to let it shine?! Surely you have friends who might enjoy some of these ramblings, right? I know you do. Like Greg. Greg would LOVE this post, and you know it! Shares are the lifeblood of sites in this day and age, and we can’t really survive without them. So, like I always say, “Likes are nice, but shares are cares.” Thanks for your time 😉

19th Feb2016

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 2/19/16

by Will

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SANANDREAS

In the movie world, I finally caught San Andreas. It’s about what you’d expect it to be. It’s got a lot of plotholes, and I was amazed certain people survived, but it was still enjoyable. If you haven’t seen it, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson plays an LA Fire & Rescue pilot who strikes out to save his estranged wife and daughter when The Big One hits. A series of big ass earthquakes occur along the San Andreas fault, wrecking the shit out of California.  Every time Alexandra Daddario was onscreen, playing a college kid no less, I kept thinking “I’ve seen you naked! I’ve seen you naked!” I’m normally not a disaster movie type of person, but this one didn’t disappoint. When the movie ends, The Rock is all “We rebuild.” Whatever. I think we’d just condemn California and keep it moving, No Man’s Land style. Anyway, I’d recommend it.

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In the toy world, the past week saw Toy Fair hitting New York City. I’ve been in the past, but haven’t been able to make the trip the past couple of years. It seems like NECA was the belle of the ball, as they debuted things like figures based on the Contra NES game. Mattel showed off a lot of figures from the upcoming Suicide Squad film as parts of their Multiverse line. My favorite debuts, however, had to be the new Marvel Legends from Hasbro. Since it’s a line that I actively collect, I’m excited about all the movie based figures that are on the way, including Scarlet Witch and the Walmart-exclusive (ugh) Falcon figure. For full coverage of the show, check out AwesomeToyBlog.

Channing

In the world of television, Channing Dungey was named the new president of entertainment at ABC, making her the first Black network president. This is interesting because it was the result of the ouster of president Paul Lee, who brought diversity to the network with Black-ish and Fresh Off the Boat, and also helped brand the TGIT Thursday night lineup. Dungey has the backing of Shonda Rhimes, meaning we can probably expect more shows like Grey’s Anatomy, making me wonder what might be the future for Marvel shows at the network.

ecto cooler

In the world of pop culture, everything old is new again this week. First up, an eBay listing has revealed that Ecto-Cooler is most likely making a comeback. Created in the late 80s to tie into The Real Ghostbusters/Ghostbusters II, the fabled drink hasn’t been in stores since it was renamed to Shoutin’ Orange Tangergreen in 2001. People have been CLAMORING for its return for years, and it seems like the new Ghostbusters movie was just what was needed for Coca-Cola to pull the trigger. I’ve gotta be honest – I never really liked Ecto-Cooler. I really only wanted it because I was a huge Ghostbusters fan and Slimer was on the box. As far as flavor goes, however, it was not my favorite beverage. Still, I know this makes a lot of my friends happy, so more power to ’em.

AYBS

Meanwhile, I grew up LOVING the Brit-com Are You Being Served?, so imagine my trepidation when the BBC revealed that the series would get getting a one-off special this summer, to serve as something like a backdoor pilot for a new series. Not much is known about the special, but the network has said it will have an “all-star cast” – necessary, seeing as how 90% of the original cast members (and the creators) are dead. If you’ve never seen it, it’s set in the fictional, Harrod’s-esque Grace Brothers department store, and focuses on the staff of the Ladies’ and Men’s departments of the store. It was a bawdy show, with a lot of double entendres and class humor. I’m not really sure it would work today, as that style of humor is a bit played out. Then again, I thought Airplane humor was dead, and here we have Angie Tribeca using it, so maybe I’m wrong. Anyway, no fan that I know of is excited about this news. We’re all just a bit scared of what this might be. All I know is that it better have jokes about Mrs. Slocombe’s pussy or I’m out. And I am unanimous in that!

good times

Speaking of revivals of long-canceled shows, the surviving cast members of Good Times have a Kickstarter going to produce a reunion movie to catch us up on where their characters are now. This is particularly interesting because John Amos is involved, and his character was killed off in the fourth season of the show. So, I take it his character is still dead, right? Welp, looks like we’re all caught up! Anyway, they’re calling it a “docu-dramedy-comedy”, so Lord only knows what this thing is gonna be. I expect it’s just gonna have them talking to the camera, like Modern Family or something. Anyway, there are 14 days left, and they’ve only raised about $5,000 of the $1 million they’re asking for, so I don’t think this is gonna happen. Damn, damn, DAMN!

rebirth

In the world of comics, we finally have more information on the DC Comics “Rebirth” plans. Basically, it’s a relaunch, with several books going on a bi-weekly schedule. They say that it’s their attempt to show they’re a legacy publisher. One way they’re doing this is by returning Action Comics and Detective Comics to their original numbering, which was lost when The New 52 rebooted everything. This means that we’ll see Action Comics #1000 in about two years. There are some interesting changes, such as Scott Snyder leaving Batman (Thank the sweet Lord in Heaven!), the cancellation of Bat books Robin: Son of Batman and We Are Robin, and I’m curious to know the fate of Bryan Hitch’s Justice League of America, seeing as how it’s in the middle of what I believed to be a 12-issue arc. There are also some switcheroos, as we lose a Black Canary book, but gain Batgirl and the Birds of Prey. We lose Starfire, but we get back Red Hood and the Outlaws. We lose Grayson (which I’ve heard was great), and we end up back with Nightwing. The last thing is disappointing to me, as I didn’t read Grayson, but I was impressed that they were willing to try something so different with the character. For him to just end up back as Nightwing again seems like a waste. It’s hard for me to get excited about DC these days because it feels like they’re constantly chasing their own OR Marvel’s tail. I…I don’t feel good about all this, and I wonder if other DC fans feel just as fatigued by all of these stunts.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • Quantico‘s Priyanka Chopra has been cast as the villain in the Baywatch film
  • Kanye West is reportedly $53 million in debt and still losing his mind
  • Actress Casey Wilson reported that some rich guy has expressed interest in financing a Happy Endings movie

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I saw it last week and didn’t really like it. The world saw it and thought it was the best thing ever. So, I guess I’m the odd one. Yeah, I’m talking about Deadpool. Surprising everyone, the movie opened to $150 million in the US, despite Fox doing everything they could to bury it. They cut the budget at the last minute and they used an unproven director.  I don’t get it, really. I mean, were folks clamoring for an R-rated comic book movie that badly? Whatever. Anyway, they’re already talking about the sequel, with buff, old guys lining up for the chance to play Deadpool’s sometimes partner and straight man, Cable. I’m scared of the precedent this might set, as now they’re talking about an R-rated Wolverine for Hugh Jackman’s last outing as the character. Now, if he’s truly going to cut loose, I could see an R-rated Wolverine film, but I don’t think we really need it. I’ve talked about Jackman’s portrayal before, and I don’t think his characterization lends itself to the Berserker Rage that we’ve seen in the comics. Still, the race is on for the next, mainstream R-rated comic movie. Folks seem to have forgotten that Blade, The Crow, Kick-Ass, and others have already gone down this road. I think it’s safe to say that the rating works for some properties, while it doesn’t work for others. That said, the R rating sure as Hell didn’t hurt Deadpool, as it’s more revered than any of the X-Men films we’ve gotten so far. So, to give credit where credit is due, Deadpool had the West Week Ever.

05th Feb2016

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 2/5/16

by Will

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After all that I watched last week during the blizzard, I didn’t really watch too much this week. The one movie that I watched was The Hundred Foot Journey. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s about an Indian family that moves to France to open a restaurant that happens to be directly across the street from a renowned Michelin-starred restaurant. In the beginning, the two restaurants go to war against each other. It’s something of a culture clash between the citizens and the immigrants. After a while, though, they find common ground in the form of the eldest son of the Indian family, who turns out to be a gifted chef. It’s the kind of movie that you don’t have to pay a ton of attention to, and still understand what’s going on. The head of the French restaurant is played by Helen Mirren, so you know this is seen as some classy shit. It was produced by Stephen Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey, and it’s just the kind of story that Oprah would’ve featured in her book club. I’d wanted to see the movie ever since I first saw the trailer, as it looked cute, and it didn’t disappoint. I don’t think it’s the kind of thing that most of my readership would jump at, but if you get the chance, give it a shot.

patti pie

While I didn’t watch a ton, I did eat a lot. I don’t have the most refined palette, so I tend to stay away from food reviews. That said, I experienced two different foods that I felt deserved the blog treatment. First up was the Patti Labelle Sweet Potato Pie.

This news is about 3 months old, but seeing as how 90% of my readership is White, this’ll be new to you! Anyway, R&B singer Patti Labelle (she also played Dwayne Wayne’s mom on A Different World) released a line of sweet potato pies exclusively at Walmart in September. The pies sold well enough until a YouTuber named James Wright Chanel posted the above review of the pies. Well, that review went viral, and the pies started flying off the shelves. They were THE hot item over the Thanksgiving season, and I hadn’t been able to find one until last Friday night. I love a good sweet potato pie, so I had to see what all the fuss was about. The pies are sold at room temperature, so that’s how I wanted to first taste it. After taking a bite, it was…OK. There HAD to be more to this thing, right? I mean, the big guy was singing and everything. I remembered that I like my sweet potato pie cold, so I refrigerated it overnight, and took another shot the next day. And it was…just OK. I’ve had some awesome sweet potato pie in my life. My mom’s friend makes amazing pies. That said, this was not as good as those. It’s good, but it’s not great. The pie’s texture is sort of “lazy”, for lack of a better word. It’s not firm like I like it, and refrigerating it didn’t do much to firm it up. If this made that dude sing, I’ve had some pie that would make his heart explode. I really don’t know what all the fuss was about, but good on James for getting his 15 minutes out of it.

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Next up, I tried KFC’s Nashville Hot Chicken Tenders. Let me start by saying that I hate KFC. I love fast food, but KFC is typically some garbage. I haven’t liked any of their gimmicks since the Rotisserie Gold arrival in the early 90s. Most people just laugh at their output, like when we get things like the Double Down. So imagine my surprise when some of my Twitter friends started raving over this Nashville Hot recipe that KFC just debuted. They started out using it on the regular chicken, but then they introduced the tenders. I’m lazy and hate dealing with bones, so tenders were the way into my heart. My clogged, clogged heart. There aren’t too many KFCs in these parts (they tend to get shut down a lot), so we happened to be near one on Sunday and decided to take the plunge. First, the presentation. They come served in a black plastic tray that makes you think they came right out of the microwave. They’re garnished with pickle chips, and are served with cole slaw (we replaced that with wedges) and a biscuit. So, how did they taste? TERRIBLE. You bastards lied to me! Seriously, if that’s indicative of a real Nashville recipe, then they can just go and leave the Union right now. The sauce is thin. I mean THIN. It’s reddish and stains everything – napkins, skin, whatever. But it’s so thin that you’d think it’s just grease. There’s no body to it. It’s hot, but it’s not flavorful. And, again, the sauce gets everywhere. Lindsay looked like a ravenous vampire when she was done. It was the least satisfying meal I’ve ever had. It was a combination KFC/Taco Bell, and I wanted to cleanse my palette with some tacos, but I was already full from the tenders.

peak tv

Part of why I didn’t watch much TV this week is because there’s just too much TV. Some folks have wondered if we’ve reached “peak television”, and I think it might be true. I used to know when all my favorite shows came on. Now, I’m considering making a Google Doc just to track them all. I remember that I missed shows days after they’ve aired. And these aren’t shows I just watch casually; they’re things that I actually consider favorites. At the moment, though, I just have too many favorites. At the same time, I’m not afraid to dump a show that I don’t like. In the past, I watched a lot of stuff that I hated. I wasn’t even “hate-watching” those shows, either. I didn’t really like them, but they were on and I had nothing better to do. When Fox debuted Cooper Barrett and Bordertown, I finally realized that there are too many shows and life’s too short to waste on something you don’t like.

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In the toy world, there’s a rumor going around that Hasbro and Mattel are in talks for a merger. He-Man and G.I. Joe under the same roof? This is an ’80s kid’s wet dream! Too bad Hasbro doesn’t really care about Joe anymore, and Mattel sells He-Man figures to grown-ups for $30 a pop. This could be a dream or a nightmare. It’d be interesting to see if the Marvel and DC licenses would remain under this shared roof. Would they become HasTel or MatBro? Or even worse, HasMat? While surprising, this isn’t the first time there’s been talk of a merger, as Mattel made an offer on Hasbro 20 years ago.

Black

On the comic front, I never pledge Kickstarters because I’ve heard too many horror stories. Still, when I saw Black, I knew that I had to be a backer. The tagline for the graphic novel reads “In a world that already fears and hates them – what if only Black people had superpowers?” That’s basically as much as I know about the story, but it was enough to make me want to know more. It’ll no doubt be controversial, but the art looks great and I’m really anxious to see where the story goes.

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Meanwhile, I ran across yet another Kickstarter that piqued my interest. Titled Tuskegee Heirs, in the spirit of the famous Tuskegee Airmen, the tagline reads “Futuristic sci-fi adventure that follows a small squad of young gifted aviators who are forced to become earth’s last line of defense.” The art is very “manga-esque”, which would normally be a turnoff to me, but it’s kinda refreshing seeing that style used for Black characters outside of The Boondocks. I can’t remember the last time I was this excited about an upcoming comic project, so I hope I’m not disappointed. Maybe when these books come in, I’ll dust off my Adventures West Coast feature and review them.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • After the success of Lip Sync Battle, Craig Robinson will host Caraoke Showdown on Spike.
  • Aubrey Plaza has been cast in FX’s X-Men spinoff, Legion
  • Matt LeBlanc is one of the new hosts of The UK’s Top Gear. Here’s hoping this job lasts longer than Joey. Or Top of the Heap.
  • Louis C.K. quietly released a new series, Horace and Pete, on his website. But it looks sad and all the colors are various shades of brown, so I’ll pass.
  • Andy Samberg’s crew, The Lonely Island, are developing Party Over Here with comedian Paul Scheer. The half-hour sketch show will air Saturday nights at 11 on Fox.
  • Gilmore Girls is coming back via Netflix, and apparently no one thought to invite its most famous alum, Melissa McCarthy.

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My pals over at The Robot’s Pajamas are having Star Trek: The Next Generation Week, so be sure to pop over there and read all the great posts they’ve got!

This Week In Black History

2/1 – Today In Black History: Arnold & Willis Jackson became the first poor black kids adopted by a rich white person

2/2 – Today In Black History, rapper Christopher Wallace graduated to the Men’s department and changed his name from “Husky Smalls”

2/3 – Today in Black History, The Eastland School for Girls admitted Dorothy “Tootie” Ramsey as its first black student

2/4 – Today in Black History, the Fresh King of Bel Air was assassinated. The throne remained empty until a long lost son was found in 1990.

2/5 – Today in Black History, Kunta Kinte is accepted into the space program, and it only costs him his eyesight.

usf

When I’m not blogging about pop culture, I like to guest on podcasts. One of my favorites to guest on has been the UnderScoopFire Podcast. Out of my 52 podcast appearances, 13 of them have been with USF and its Mad Men-centric spinoff, The MadCast.

I remember a few years back, coming across a dude on Twitter named @HowardTheDeck and thinking “Heh, that’s pretty clever.” Turns out dude was a funny guy, so when I found out he had a podcast, I couldn’t wait to hear it. This was a new concept to me, as I really hadn’t given too many shits about the podcast format prior to that. I like my Internet printed. If you’re recording podcasts or making videos, that just seems like it’s gonna take too much time to consume. So, I just stuck to blogs and the like. Anyway, I downloaded USF and immediately fell in love. I dug the whole gang, from Howie to Corey to Tank to Joe. There was even this guy named Googs who really seemed like he didn’t want to be there, but he was cool, too. We all became friends online – these weren’t just “web friends”, but real friends. We’ve shared Christmas cards, and tracked down toys that the others’ kids couldn’t find locally. They’ve allowed me to come on and ramble on about whatever’s on my mind, and I’ve always had a great time doing it.

Well, this week, after 150-ish episodes, the UnderScoopFire Podcast posted its final episode. The show began as a love letter to children of the 80s, covering things like GI Joe and featuring guests like “The Micro Machines Guy”, John Moschitta Jr. Over the past few years or so, the show had undergone some changes. Howie and Googs left, while Tank and Joe were sent deep undercover. We’d hear from Tank every now and then, but I thought Joe got lost out there until I heard his pretaped appearance on the final show. Some episodes were just Corey and this dude named Eclectik (that’s not his government name, but we won’t talk too much about him ’cause he hates me anyway), chatting away. A lot of the time, it felt like we were all flies on the wall for a conversation between those two. Still, they kept the show alive, and I thank them for that. Without USF, I wouldn’t be the reigning What’s The Scoop? Champion for Life, I wouldn’t know how hard it is for 80s celebrities to say the words “Under Scoop Fire” in that order, and I wouldn’t have some of my closest friends. So, with that in mind, it’s bittersweet for me to say that the UnderScoopFire Podcast had the West Week Ever.

17th Dec2015

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 12/17/15

by Will

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Your weekly dose of pop culture is coming at ya a day early this week, since I know a lot of you are getting offline this evening so you don’t run into any Star Wars spoilers. Tomorrow’s probably gonna be a ghost town on here, so I thought I’d get the post in early this week. But I promise there are NO Star Wars spoilers below!

DopeThis week, I checked out the film Dope. I’d heard good things about the movie, but I don’t get to the theater too much, so I was gonna wait until it came out on Redbox or something. Anyway, if you haven’t seen it, it’s kinda like a Black version of the 1999 film Go. Now, don’t ask me how to explain how I got to that comparison, but I think it’s apt. It’s about high school senior Malcolm and his best friends as they get wrapped up in a messy situation with some drugs. It’s about so much more than that, though. On the heels of the “blerd” movement, it deals a lot with identity and what it means to not be “Black enough”. Malcolm and his friends are in a punk band called Awreeoh (pronounced Oreo), and they idolize 90s hip hop culture. They don’t really fit in with the rest of the kids their age, so they’ve kinda bonded over being outsiders. It’s really fast paced, and doesn’t follow standard chronology. I really enjoyed it, and I think you should check it out if you get the chance.

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Since everyone knows that Star Wars: The Force Awakens comes out this week, I figured I should get acquainted with the work of star John Boyega. For years, I’d been hearing about how great Attack the Block was, so it was finally time for me to check it out. The biggest problem was that I couldn’t really find it streaming anywhere, so I had to resort to…alternative means. Anyway, Boyega stars as the leader of a teenage gang that has set up shop in the projects of South London. One celebratory night, the neighborhood becomes the site of an alien invasion. Once Boyega’s character kills one of the aliens, he and his friends become targets for the rest of the aliens that have landed. While it’s comedic sci fi, it’s got some horror aspects to it. Part of it feels like a Black Goonies (nobody steal that idea!), but there’s also another story being told about the socioeconomic state of a lot of London youth. When the gang teams up with the White woman they had mugged earlier in the movie, they’re shocked to learn that she lives in their building. There’s quite a notion of “Why do YOU live HERE?” Boyega’s slow to boil, but once he gets going, he’s a commanding presence and a good leader. The version I was watching had subtitles turned on, and boy was I glad because it was hard keeping up with the slang AND the accents. Still, it’s a really good movie that I highly recommend.

star trek beyond

The Star Trek Beyond teaser trailer was released this week and, while NuTrek has given us some decent action movies, it has never really understood that that is NOT what Star Trek is about. I understand that it’s just a teaser, but you have to remember that this is *marketing* and, at the moment, they’re marketing it as a high adrenaline Fast and the Furious in Space action movie. That’s not what Star Trek is. Even if that movie turns out to be a completely different animal, the way they’re portraying it is not something a typical Star Trek fan would gravitate towards. That’s been my biggest issue with NuTrek – it acts like it’s ashamed of its own built-in fanbase. Instead of realizing the nice, pretty girl in front of it, it longs for the mega hot cheerleader who has to be tricked into dating it. If you want some Star Trek goodness that won’t disappoint, check out the Deep Space Nine drill down over on this week’s episode of the Nerd Lunch Podcast.

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Speaking of space movies, the trailer was released for Independence Day: Resurgence, and it looks good. In fact, I’m probably more intrigued by it than I was for Star Trek Beyond. Everyone’s back except Will Smith and Mae Whitman. At least Whitman’s character still exists (they recast her, with some folks assuming the studio was looking for a more “conventionally pretty” actress. Not my words!), while Smith’s Colonel Hiller was killed off on a website. Seriously, if you go to http://www.warof1996.com, which is the official viral site for the movie, there’s an entry on the interactive timeline that reveals Hiller was killed in 2007 while test piloting one of the new alien hybrid ships. Seeing how there probably wasn’t a body, I guess Smith could still come back in a third movie. “Look, he was actually teleported to the mothership before the explosion!” But I don’t know if that would work in the world already established by the rest of the franchise.

hasbro

In other movie news, toymaker Hasbro has announced a deal with Paramount to create a shared cinematic universe with their some of their biggest properties from the 80s, including G.I. Joe, ROM, M.A.S.K., Visionairies, and Micronauts. I really don’t know how this is going to work. On the one hand, I could see Joe and M.A.S.K. working together, and I could see ROM and Micronauts working together. But all under the same umbrella, in the same universe? I dunno, man. Everybody’s in love with the idea of the “shared cinematic universe”, but very few understand just how hard it is to pull off. Marvel’s never should’ve worked, and it should be seen as the exception rather than the norm. Sure, this will probably mean more toys for beloved properties, and I’m sure the folks over at IDW Publishing (the comics license holder for most Hasbro properties) are experiencing raging boners over this news, but I’ll believe it when I see it.

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There’s a rumor that James Gunn is looking at Kurt Russell to play Star-Lord’s father in Guardians of the Galaxy 2. Right now, though, it’s just a rumor, so nothing to see here…

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Across the aisle, we got new character posters for Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. They’re decent, but they’re not exactly “taking me from 6 to 12”, if you know what I mean…

Meanwhile, the trailer for something called Knight Rider Heroes surfaced this week, and nobody knows what it is. Based on the URL of http://www.KnightRiderHeroesMovie.com, it appears to be a movie, but it looks more like it’s on the fan film side of things. To its credit, they got Hasselhoff involved, but that dude will pretty much do anything. It’s equal parts cool AND depressing to see Michael Knight 30 years removed from the original series. He’s still wearing that belt and that jacket? He just looks like an out of fashion old man. At least when he showed up in Knight Rider (2008), his look had been modernized somewhat. This dude, however, just looks like a man out of time. Like he’s just been wearing the same thing, and driving the same car since 1986. And if this movie revolves around assembling a team of Knight Riders, it’s already been done. It was called Team Knight Rider, and it desperately needs a DVD release!

ghostbusters reboot

Finally for movies, the first official image was released for Ghostbusters. I know folks hate the idea of this film, but I’m really looking forward to it. It’s got a cast filled with folks that I love, and the original GB isn’t this sacred cow to me that it is for a lot of folks. If you ask me, this movie can’t get here fast enough. Definitely one of my most anticipated of 2016.

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In the world of comics, Marvel officially announced Civil War II. Piggybacking off the upcoming Captain America: Civil War movie, nothing’s really known about this miniseries at the moment. The creative team has been revealed as Brian Michael Bendis writing, with David Marquez on the art. While I’m enjoying their current run on Invincible Iron Man, I’m not sure I’ve forgiven Bendis yet. He’s usually capable with these events, but I just hate to see them going back to the Civil War well, especially so soon after their “soft reboot”. I mean, the post-Secret Wars Marvel Universe is still being solidified, and we’re already about to enter another “Whose Side Are You On?” situation? The timing just doesn’t seem right, other than the fact that Marvel’s got a movie with that name coming out at the same time, that loosely appears to deal with a Superhuman Registration Act. This has “cash grab” written all over it, but maybe it’ll sound more interesting once more details are revealed.

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In the world of TV, CBS has reportedly canceled Mike & Molly following the upcoming 6th season. It’s a bit sad, as I actually enjoy that show, as schizophrenic as it can be. Seriously, the show is only 6 years old, but has changed direction about 3 times. The first 2 seasons are about a couple that meets in Overeaters Anonymous and fall in love while trying to lose weight. The third season is about their quest to have a baby, and the weight loss journey goes out the window. In the fourth season, Molly quits her job and decides to become a writer, and the show kinda pushes Billy Gardell’s Mike into the background as Melissa McCarthy’s star was on the rise. To be honest, I’m surprised she’s still on a network show, seeing as how her movie career is doing well. She’s said to be heartbroken over the end of the show, however, as no one can really explain why CBS decided to pull the plug. It seems that everyone except Gardell had six-year deals, and CBS isn’t really open to discussions about another season (mainly because they don’t own the show), so Warner Bros (the producing studio) doesn’t want to renew deals with cast members. Now, CBS could just be waiting til the last minute to renew, but it could possibly hurt its relationship with Chuck Lorre, who’s been the force behind CBS’s most popular sitcoms. Anyway, the show made it to syndication, which is “the dream”, but it would’ve been nice if was getting a proper sendoff.


In the world of music, my favorite Spice Girl, Melanie C (“Sporty Spice”), stopped by BBC Radio to perform a stripped down version of one of the best songs off the SpiceWorld album: “Too Much”. Click above to check it out.

thriller

Meanwhile in America, Michael Jackson’s Thriller became the first album to sell 30 million copies in the US, making it 30x Platinum. To put that in perspective, that’s like if everyone in the state of Texas owned a copy. EVERYONE. Even the babies. And a couple of copies for some of the superfans. That is INSANE!

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Who are we kidding here? I’m not gonna insult your intelligence by pretending that Star Wars: The Force Awakens isn’t having the West Week Ever. The thing isn’t even officially in theaters yet (at least for the general public), but it stands to be one of the biggest releases EVER. I promised no spoilers, and I stand by that. Plus, I won’t even be seeing the movie until Saturday morning, so I couldn’t spoil it if I wanted to. Still, nothing came close to Star Wars this week, as the franchise was popping up everywhere from car commercials to bags of oranges. The early reviews are in, and it’s 95% Certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. For the folks who ignore the existence of the prequels, this movie was 30 years in the making and has a lot to prove. I’m not worried, though, as I think it’ll be great. So, for probably breaking every release record known to man, Star Wars: The Force Awakens had the West Week Ever.

20th Nov2015

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 11/20/15

by Will

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The biggest news this week had to come from Charlie Sheen, as he announced his HIV-positive status on the Today Show. There’s been a lot of backlash here, as folks have been saying things like “He deserved it” or “Look how he lived”. Yeah, he was a bit flamboyant, but I don’t think you ever expect anyone to get HIV, even if you joke about it. Apparently, he contracted it around 2011, and has paid out over $10 million to people trying to blackmail him. I’ve got a theory here: if you do the math, he contracted the disease around the time that he lost his shit and got fired from Two and a Half Men. After all, he left that show in season 9, which premiered in 2011. That can’t be an easy thing to learn about one’s self, and so he embarked on a whole bunch of self-destructive behavior. To be honest, I’m really amazed he’s still alive based on some of the antics he was getting into. I was waiting for them to find him dead any day. Anyway, it’s unfortunate that things turned out this way, and there’s a LOT of slut-shaming going on when it comes to Sheen. Sure, he did some risky stuff, but nobody *deserves* HIV. Luckily, he’s got it under control, as it seems to be undetectable at the moment. I have an odd fascination with Sheen, and always want to see him come out on top. After the Two and a Half Men firing, I was glad when he got Anger Management (even though I’ve only seen a handful of episodes), and I hope he comes out on top from this, too.

Into-the-Badlands

It was a great week for TV, including some excellent episodes of Arrow and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Unfortunately, it was a week that also saw the premiere of AMC’s Into the Badlands. This show is BAD, and I don’t mean that in the late 80s sense of the word. The main character is a great fighter, and there are some beautifully choreographed action sequences, but he’s wooden and not very likable. He’s not someone I see myself wanting to root for. The story is weak, and they’re trying to hide that behind the action. Someone on Twitter said that you don’t watch Enter the Dragon for the story and writing, but that was just a one-off movie. This is a serialized drama that expects the viewer to come back week after week for six episodes. The only thing I liked about the show was the it reminded me of the crappy syndicated stuff I used to watch on our WB affiliate back when I was in high school. As a Saturday afternoon show, filmed in New Zealand on the cheap, it gets the job done. As a centerpiece of a cable network’s schedule, it woefully falls shorts. I saw a review that called it a “rough draft of a show”, and I couldn’t agree more. There are some interesting ideas there, but it’s a show that does both too much and nothing at all, at once.

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In TV news, Sons of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter preemptively cancelled his latest show, Bastard Executioner, by placing the above ad in The Hollywood Reporter. While Sutter says that he and FX came to the decision mutually, he said that he knew the writing was on the wall, and he didn’t “want to write something that nobody’s f—ing watching.” Though the show had only wrapped up its first season, he knew that the audience just wasn’t there – in part due to the glut of period shows on television at the moment. I know when I saw the ads for it, it just looked like Game of Thrones for the basic cable audience. Why watch that when you can get the titties and gore of the REAL Game of Thrones? I’d be curious to know just how much sway Sutter had in the cancellation decision, but it was at least nice of FX to let him spin it that way.

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In other TV news, we finally have the first new show cancellation of the season, and that honor goes to ABC’s Wicked City! After months of networks unofficially cancelling shows by cutting back on initial episode orders, Wicked City is the first show to be snatched out of its timeslot, only to be replaced by reruns of Shark Tank. Meanwhile, other networks are just delaying the inevitable. For example, Fox doesn’t even promote Minority Report anymore, but they don’t have anything on the bench ready to replace it yet. Anyway, if you remember my Upfronts post last Spring, you know that I never really saw success in Wicked City‘s future. Now the race is on to see what will be the SECOND cancelled show of the season. I’m thinking it’ll be something on NBC or ABC’s Blood & Oil.

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On The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon and Amy are finally going to have sex. I think this is a TERRIBLE move. But most of you hate that show with a passion, so you don’t really give a shit. Can we talk about that for a minute? Sure, I don’t understand why the show is a rating’s juggernaut, as it seems like the kind of show that would be on the bubble every Spring, just eking out a renewal. That said, I don’t understand the unbridled hatred that people feel for the show. I actually enjoy it, but I’ve also been known to like “bad TV”. Still, it’s kind of offensive when people describe it as “Blackface for nerds”, as I think the show has evolved past the cliches of nerds that dominated the early seasons. When I saw the pilot, I thought it was a nerdy reverse Three’s Company, and that it wouldn’t last. The show has really grown since then, and I kinda feel like the Sheldon character does a lot for Asperger’s representation on television. But, it’s cool to hate things these days, and I’ve never been one of the cool kids. Anyway, why do I think it’s a bad idea for “ShAmy” to have sex? Well, for one thing, Sheldon’s head would explode. His character, despite his age and character growth, is nowhere near ready for that kind of intimate development. The show is in its 9th season, so clearly they’re out of ideas, but we’re talking about a character who can barely kiss his serious girlfriend. Now you expect me to believe he’s going to put his penis inside her? No dice, Chuck Lorre and CBS!

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The trailer was released this week for the Zoolander sequel, stylized as 2oolander. Ten years ago, this would’ve been my most anticipated movie of 2016. I LOVED the first one, but I feel like too much time has passed. It’s not like Zoolander has really been introduced to the younger generation or anything. Plus, it’s interesting to me that Christine Taylor is nowhere in the trailer. Did she and Derrick Zoolander NOT live happily ever after? It’s even more odd to me, considering that she’s Ben Stiller’s actual wife. It’s not like she’s gonna turn down the role. Anyway, fifteen years have passed, and I’m just not sure the audience is there for this. The original movie came out on September 28th, 2001. Check that date. America needed to laugh at something foolish, and this movie delivered. I think that timing had a LOT to do with its success, and we’re just not there at this time.

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In other movie news, Alexandra Daddario has joined The Rock and Zac Efron in the Baywatch movie. I really don’t know if we’re supposed to take this movie seriously, or if it’ll be like the Jump Street movies. Basically nothing is known about it at this point, though it’s been in development forever. I’m pretty sure you can guarantee a cameo by The Hoff, but that’s about it. Anyway, this gave me a chance to post a picture of Alexandra Daddario.

100 years

John Malkovich has a new movie that you’ll never see. But if you’re lucky, your ancestors might get a shot to see it. It’s called 100 Years, and it won’t be released until November 18th, 2115. The movie’s a collaboration between Malkovich and director Robert Rodriguez as a promotion for Louis XIII Cognac, which is aged 100 years. They’ve even created 3 separate teasers for the movie, yet none of that footage is in the actual film. The idea is that 1,000 specific people will receive a metal movie ticket that they are to pass down to their descendants. If the world’s even still around in 2115, I bet folks’ll have more to concern themselves with than an old movie, but it’s an interesting concept.

(Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

In sports news, UFC champ Ronda Rousey got her ass handed to her by a swift kick to the throat from Holly Holm. I’ve never really been a Rousey fan, as I always felt she was like “trying to make ‘fetch’ happen”. Everybody just expected so much from her that she was bound to disappoint us eventually. They were trying to make her an action star, just because she was a good fighter. There was no evidence that she even had acting chops, but Hollywood thought “Well, if she can fight in real life, she can fight onscreen.” And she never seemed to have any humility. Basically, she carried herself like Apollo Creed in Rocky IV, and she almost got the same ending.

In a first for the Barbie brand, a boy appears in the latest commercial for Moschino Barbie. While I find it hard to believe boys haven’t been in Barbie ads in the past (not even as the bratty little brother?), this little kid is pretty historic. Watch the ad, and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

In music news, Carly Simon revealed that the second verse of “You’re So Vain” is about actor Warren Beatty. Of course she’s promoting an upcoming memoir, so she’ll probably say anything to sell those books. If you ask me, I preferred Family Guy‘s theory on who the song was about:

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Things You Might Have Missed This Week

-Former Subway pitchman, Jared Fogle, was sentenced to fifteen years and eight months in jail for having sex with underage prostitutes. And that sound you hear is every hack comedian making a “$5 footlong” joke.

-It was a dark week for print media, as Condé Nast announced that it was ceasing publication of men’s magazine Details. Meanwhile across the pond, lad mags Zoo and FHM ceased publication in the UK.

-Gossip site Gawker is rebranding as a political website. While you probably know them from the Hulk Hogan sex tape, they’re getting out of the gossip game and focusing on the 2016 election.

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-It was a meeting of the podcast Mega Powers, as Nerd Lunch joined UnderScoopFire in a teamup that’s been years in the making. Listen to Part 1 and Part 2.

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Speaking of podcasts, I had the honor of joining Jason over at Rediscover the ’80s for the Recurrent Events Podcast last night. Plus, I finally got to “meet” my buddy (and sometimes rival) Chad E. Young. We had a great time discussing the week’s top pop culture headlines, so check it out here.

Links I Loved

Review: Mannequin by Laurie of Knit Terrors – Horror Movie BBQ

Life After Nickelodeon: Jennette McCurdy Grows Up – Vulture

Agents of SHIELD Is at the Top of its Game, and That’s Amazing to Watch – io9

Police Academy 2 & 3 Double Feature – TBD

Galactic Book Club — Star Wars: Aftermath (2015) – 30ish Days of Star Wars – Double Dumbass On You

The Exact Moment When Justice League Unlimited Delivered the Perfect Animated Batman Story – io9

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This week sucked for positive news, but someone who’s definitely having a great week would be Adele. Today sees the release of her hotly anticipated third album, 25, which won’t be made available to streaming services. This move guarantees sales, as that (or piracy) are the only way you’ll get to hear the thing. It’s projected to be the fastest-selling album of all time, which would beat *NSYNC’s record of 2.4 million copies of No Strings Attached sold the week it was released back in 2000. In addition to the album release, her previous album, 21, was named by Billboard as the #1 album of all time, based on some kind of crazy math they did regarding number of weeks at number one on the charts. I’m not even gonna get into their methodology, as there are some crazy results on that list (The Sound of Music soundtrack beating Thriller?!), so part of me feels like Columbia Records might’ve slipped a few dollars into Billboard’s coffers to make this “momentous” accomplishment coincide with the release of a new album. Either way, I’ve been listening to the album as I wrote this post, and if you’re an Adele fan you won’t be disappointed. So, for figuring out how to remain relevant in a rapidly dying industry, Adele had the West Week Ever.

As always, thanks for reading – and be sure to Like the new West Week Ever page on Facebook!

13th Nov2015

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 11/13/15

by Will

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crazy-ex-girlfriend

Since we’re a few weeks into the television season at this point, I think I can safely say that The CW’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is my favorite new show. When I first I heard about it, I was oddly intrigued, but then I completely ignored it once it debuted. After reading @zacshipley’s tweets raving about it, I decided to bingewatch the first four episodes last Monday. Viral video star Rachel Bloom stars as Rebecca Bunch, a high-powered New York lawyer who has something of a quarterlife crisis. After a chance meeting with her high school summer crush, Josh, she decides to quit her job and follow him to West Covina, California. Once she gets there, she has to start her life over, and try to convince herself, and everyone around her, that she didn’t actually move there for Josh. Oh, and it has musical numbers, because she’s kinda crazy. Bloom is great in the role, and I think she may be my new celebrity crush. Seriously, every scene she’s in costars her cleavage to the point that the show ought to be called Crazy Tits or something. Anyway, the ratings ain’t so good for the show, but The CW is required to have a certain amount of programming from both Warner Bros and CBS. It currently has tons of WB shows, but not many CBS shows, of which Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is one, so that might save it. Anyway, if you want a wacky show, with shades of Felicity meets Glee, then I highly recommend checking it out.

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In other television news, it was announced that The Real Housewives of Potomac would be premiering in January on Bravo. I’m not sure what’s more surprising to me – the fact that they’re trying again in this region after the disaster that was The Real Housewives of DC OR the fact that they seem to have found the only 6 Black women in Potomac. If you’re not familiar with Maryland, Potomac is a really rich, predominantly White suburb of Washington, DC. I’m pretty familiar with it, as I live about 15 minutes away. Demographically, the makeup of the cast should be closer to The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Instead, it’s closer to that of The Real Housewives of Atlanta. Anyway, I don’t really plan on watching this, as the only Real Housewives cast I ever liked was New York City. I might watch the premiere, though, just to see if I recognize landmarks.

Into-the-Badlands

In terms of shows closer to their premiere date, Into The Badlands premieres on AMC this Sunday night. I’ve heard people excited about it since it because it’s a martial arts drama featuring the fight choreographer from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Most of the advance reviews I’ve read, however, haven’t been positive. I know it’s somewhat groundbreaking to have an action show with Asian leads, but this show just looks dreadful to me. Somehow they even got Russell Crowe onboard, but every time I see a commercial for it, it looks like it should be on the Action Pack of the mid 90s. Remember the Action Pack? Does this ring a bell?

Anyway, I’ll watch the premiere just to see what all the fanfare’s about. I might even be proven wrong. But for now, I don’t have high hopes for whatever’s waiting in those Badlands.

snowpiercer

Finally in TV news, it appears they’re going to make a TV series based on Snowpiercer. I really enjoyed the film, but would this be a prequel? I mean, there were about 15 years of train life that we never saw, so I guess we could see the beginning of things when the CW-7 was first released into the atmosphere. Then, we could see culture being recentered around the Great Engine. Actually, this sounds kinda interesting the more that I think about it. I just wonder if it matters that we know how it all ends. Maybe it’ll be “based” on the movie the same way that FX’s Fargo is “based” on that movie.

Becky G Yellow Ranger

About 2 weeks ago, it was announced that recording artist Becky G had been cast as the Yellow Ranger in the upcoming Saban’s Power Rangers (I still really hate that name). While they’ve cast a bunch of unknowns in the other roles, Becky probably has the most star power on the team after a recent stint on Empire, not to mention the social media following she’s got for her music. This casting news doesn’t really make me any more excited for the movie, though, as January 2017 feels so far away to me.

jem

In other movie news, the Jem and the Holograms movie has been taken out of theaters, only 2 weeks after its release. As one of the biggest bombs in box office history, the move isn’t very surprising. When it comes to 80s properties, Jem isn’t very high on my list. I don’t pretend to know the ins and outs of the franchise. I’ve seen a few episodes and I read the first story arc of the IDW comic. Still, I think I know the general gist of it. Jerrica Benton has some computer A.I. called “Synergy” that transforms her into Jem using futuristic hologram technology. And she’s in a band, whose rivals are The Misfits. And to my knowledge, the movie contained basically none of that. Great job, Universal. It’s a shame, too, for a couple of reasons. First off, Universal has had an amazing year, with the release of Minions, Furious 7, and Jurassic World. They made over $4 BILLION on those 3 movies alone! Second, it seems like director Jon Chu supposedly pitched a faithful adaptation to the studio, but was rejected. So, he ended up making whatever it was that ended up onscreen. Ya know, I had no real interest in the movie before, but now that it has this reputation, I have a morbid curiosity to check it out. I can’t wait for it to end up in the Walmart $5 bin.

usf

In a bit of sad news, on the UnderScoopFire podcast this week, host Corey announced that the show would be coming to an end at the end of the year. They are quickly approaching episode #150 (through some dubious math, mind you!), and figured it would be a great note on which to go out. Fear not, listeners, as God closes a door and opens a window. While the USF show will be coming to an end, Corey will be starting a new show early next year in much the same vein as what he’s doing now. The only bright side to this is that I will go down in history as the Champion for Life of their “What’s The Scoop?” gameshow. So, before they shut down the USF feed, you better check out my sidebar and check out the episodes where they had me on as a guest!

Christmas

In a bit of local radio news, we have a station in DC, WASH, that always switches to Christmas music at this time of year. They’ve been doing it for years, and it gets earlier and earlier each year. Well, their rival station, WRQX, is flipping formats and decided, “Ya know what? We’re gonna do the nonstop Christmas music thing, too.” They were scheduled to make the switch at noon today. Well, WASH got wind of their plan, and said “Oh no you effing don’t!” and they flipped the switch to their all-Christmas format yesterday. So, by the time you read this, we’ll have 2 stations playing nothing but Christmas music, yet nobody who’ll play Phil Collins. Look, I love Christmas music, as this is the season we celebrate the miracle birth of the Baby Will. That said, there are only so many times a day you can hear Wham’s “Last Christmas” before you want to go on a Michael Douglas, Falling Down rampage. God help us all!

Links I Loved

The Nod: A Subtle Lowering of the Head You Give to Another Black Person in an Overwhelmingly White Place – Medium

BREAKING: Friend Who Just Got Motorcycle Already Dead – The Onion

Mail Call From Pop! Pop! It’s Trash Culture (Halloween Edition!) – Horror Movie BBQ

aziz

OK, I owe Aziz Ansari an apology. Over the past year or so, I’ve written about how I don’t like his recent transformation. In the beginning, when we met him on Human Giant, he was the wacky Indian dude. He was hilarious as Tom Haverford on Parks & Rec. And his standup specials were hilarious, as he recounted tales of hanging out with Kanye, as well as joked about his little cousin Darwish. Then, about a year ago, something changed. He suddenly became the relationship guru for the digital age. His act started incorporating some heavy stuff, such as his uncertainty about marriage, and how texting has ruined the art of dating. To me, it would have been one thing if this was just a portion of his act, but this was his WHOLE ACT. It seemed like the old, fun Aziz was gone, and we were left with the older, more introspective Aziz. No me gusta! So, when I heard about his Netflix series, Master of None, I wasn’t too optimistic, as I figured it would be a showcase for Nu Aziz. And I was right. But I was also wrong.

Master of None is a 10-episode series streaming on Netflix, and it’s some of the best television I’ve seen in a long time. While it does explore modern relationships, it also goes into things such as the immigrant experience and the racism in Hollywood. When a friend wonders why a sitcom can’t have two Indian guys, Aziz reminds him that the public isn’t ready for that yet, seeing as how they just got used to the idea of 2 Black guys on a show without it being considered a “Black show”. When he realizes he’s kinda been a dick to his dad, he and another first-generation friend decide to take their parents out to dinner, to hear stories of the old days. And what follows is an examination of the immigrant experience that you don’t often see on television today. Sure, Nu Aziz was there, but old wacky Aziz was there, too. In the first episode, he and his friend Arnold go to a toy store, and Old Aziz comes out to play.

Meanwhile, the supporting cast is amazing. Aziz’s lesbian friend Denise steals every scene she’s in, while his friend Arnold is the giant man child that we all know and love. The biggest surprise to me, however, was Noël Wells. When she was on SNL, she was totally forgettable. I can’t remember a single thing that she did. Here, however, she’s a delight as love interest Rachel. When we first meet her, again, I wasn’t expecting much from her. But as their friendship and relationship progress, she really comes into her own. A TV critic that I follow on Twitter acknowledged that it wasn’t that she was untalented on SNL, but rather she was very talented and SNL simply didn’t know what to do with her. I’d have to agree with that assessment. The biggest star, however, had to be Aziz’s real dad, Shoukath Ansari, who plays the father to Aziz’s character, Dev. Everything he said cracked me up, but he also brought a lot of heart to the series.

So, was I wrong about Aziz? Yes. He’s still got it. I enjoyed Master of None so much that I’m actually going to pick up his book, Modern Romance. A lot of people are described this show as Aziz’s Louie, so if you like that show, you’ll definitely love this. Even if you don’t like it (which I don’t, really. I’ve always related more to Maron), you’ll still love this. So, Master of None had the West Week Ever.

02nd Nov2015

Mail Call Monday – SummerSwap 2015

by Will

In the words of the immoral theme to Enterprise, “It’s been a long road, getting from there to here.” Not only has it been about 2 years since the last “Mail Call Monday”, but I should’ve written this post about 2 months ago. You see, over the summer, my pal @Dex1138 decided to hold the SummerSwap 2015 – he filled a Priority Box full of geeky stuff, and sent it off to someone. That person was to take what they wanted, and then replace those items with more geeky stuff, and send it off to the next person. And so on and so on. A lot of the folks participating were former members of The League of Extraordinary Bloggers, so I knew I was in good company. I got the box around August, and here’s what I grabbed:

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First up, we’ve got some stickers. I’m a sucker for stickers. When I was 3, I covered out refrigerator with Garbage Pail Kids stickers. My mom initially thought they were cute Cabbage Patch stickers…until it was too late! Muhuhahahahahahaha! Anyway, when I saw these in the box, I had to grab them. There’s a pack of stickers from the Cult Film Club Podcast (check them out if you haven’t already!), and CFC co-host Shawn also included a sticker for his own blog, Branded in the 80s. There’s a pretty sweet Avengers car decal, as well as a nice Masters of the Universe sticker. Rounding them out, there’s a Goonies sticker from the Goonies trading card series.

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Next up, there were the DVDs. First, I grabbed a movie called Manborg. I’ve never heard of it, and I have no clue what it’s about, but it looked too campy to pass up. I look forward to watching it one lonely Winter Saturday. I also grabbed Shogun Assassin, as I actually don’t have any martial arts movies in my collection, so it seemed like as good a time to add one. Finally, I grabbed the Ghostbusters Blu-Ray. I already own the movie, but it’s in DVD format. When it comes to upgrading to the Blu-Ray format, I made a promise to myself that I would only get “epic” movies that deserved to be Blu-Rays. Sure, I kinda broke that rule when I got This Is 40 (long story short: the store was going out of business, and it was, like, $3), but I think Ghostbusters fits that description.

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And here’s the rest. I figured we should take a closer look at each item, so you’ll get a full understanding as to what I grabbed.

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First, there’s a small graphic novel called The Black Wraith. I feel like I actually used to own this, but I’m a sucker for intriguing indie GNs, so I’m looking forward to reading it.

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Next up, I got a glow-in-the-dark mini Mordle. If you’re not familiar with Mordles, you clearly don’t know @JohnDoctorKent. They’re cool little monsters that look great on your desk.

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Then, there was a tiny Pac-Man candy container that works pretty well with 4″ action figures. I plan to take tons of pictures of Finn and Batman, only to post them on Instagram to be completely ignored.

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This is a 20-yr old Happy Meal morpher from when the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers movie came out. Whoever put this in the box must’ve known it was coming to me. The moment my then-5 month old saw this, she immediately put it in her mouth (that’s her seal of approval). At that moment, there was no doubt that she was my daughter, and I cancelled our trip to the Maury show.

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Finally, there was this mini Bluetooth speaker. The wife was just saying that she wanted one, and voila! Superman sure works in mysterious ways. It’s even got a suction cup, so you can mount it in the shower. There was also a Wolf-Man mini bust, but my pal Keith is a huge Universal Monsters fan, so it found its way into his possession before I could take a picture.

So, what did I add to the box? Well, you can see a lot of it here. Needless to say, I added a LOT of Batman stuff. LEGO, trade paperbacks, etc. And since the box seemed to have a decidedly horror theme to it, I threw in some of that stuff, as well.

Oh, and the box had an official mascot in the form of Dracula. Once we received the box, we were to take pics of Drac in his new surroundings.

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Here’s Drac with the wife’s wine bottle collection. I guess he heard there were “spirits” nearby. Ha!

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Gamera and Alex wanted to show Drac their cork collection. He was far from impressed.

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BIFF! SOCK! Dracula was invited to a swinging 60s party, but he wasn’t really feeling it.

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Drac later checked in on the local villain scene, but realized he was overdressed for the festivities.

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Finally, Drac hung out with Not Hobbes. Yes, that’s what I named him. The Target Corporation is really skating on thin ice with this one. The photo is blurry to protect Drac’s identity when Bill Watterson’s lawyers come calling.

In the end, it was a fun experiment, and I’d like to thank Dex for putting it together. I hope he organizes it again next year, as I definitely want to participate. And I promise not to take so long with my recap next time. Meanwhile, be sure to check out his blog AEIOU…and Sometimes Why.

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