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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charlie-sheen

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.

shamy

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!

zoolander

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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

22nd Sep2015

Retro Con 2015 In Pictures

by Will

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Last weekend, I made my 3rd trip to Retro Con in Oaks, PA. If you’re not familiar with Retro Con, it’s a fairly new pop culture convention devoted to the toys and cartoons of the 80s and 90s. The show has become something of an annual tradition amongst some of my Twitter friends, as it serves as a chance to meet up in real life. I made the trip up with my Thrift Justice partner Mike (@trooperlite), as well as my pal @classickmateria from The Cold Slither Podcast Network. We also brought along my good friend from college, James (@snoopyjenkins). James had never experienced anything like this, so I really didn’t know what to expect from him. He was in town for his job, and since he didn’t have anything to do before his flight home, I decided he should come along for the ride. I think he was a little apprehensive at first, but he quickly warmed up to the whole thing.

Yeah, I think it's safe to say James had fun!

Yeah, I think it’s safe to say James had fun!

Once we got to the show, we jumped right into exploring the convention floor. In the past, I felt that the prices that dealers were asking were a little too “gougey”. A lot of us have come to know this phenomenon as The Toy Hunter Effect, as that show made everyone think their piece of crap was some sort of a rare gem. Well, that show’s over, and it seems like the Effect went along with it. The vintage items were all reasonably priced, and the new items weren’t that much more than retail. For example, I’ve been trying to track down the recently released Marvel Legends Hulkbuster wave. These figures have just started showing up at retail in the past few weeks, retailing for $20 each. I needed 2 particular figures in order to complete my Hulkbuster, and I ended up paying $25 each for them. I figure saving the time and gas was worth paying the extra $5.

While on the con floor, I ran into @shezcrafti, @smurfwreck, @meistershake, @bmorin54, and the incomparable @lamarrevenger. Then, out of nowhere, I met @Jordamus_Prime, who was at the show celebrating his birthday. While I had met the others before, this was my first time meeting him, so it was nice to finally put a face to a screenname. On the way out, I also got to say hi to @JohnDoctorKent. Sadly, I missed out on finally meeting @TheSewerDen and @SockOfFleagulls, but I hope to meet up with them at a future show.

The Cosplay

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Now, usually I would post a ton of cosplay pics, but I just wasn’t feeling it for this show. It’s not that there weren’t costumes, because there were quite a few. In fact, there was a cosplay contest hosted by the Real Life Peter Griffin who went viral a few months back. My issue, though, was that the level of creativity wasn’t that high, in my opinion. Sure, the folks looked like they were having fun, but having been to SDCC, NYCC, and countless other shows, I just didn’t feel like the craftsmanship was as sharp as I’ve seen at other shows. So, yes, I’ve become a convention snob. There were a handful of costumes, however, that impressed me.

You never see Putties! I'm glad these Rangers were there to save me.

You never see Putties! I’m glad these Rangers were there to save me.

 

This Serpentor was AMAZING. He even had the fan in the bottom of his chariot.

This Serpentor was AMAZING. He even had the fan in the bottom of his chariot.

 

Crossplay Lion-O. Her kids were also Thundercats, but they didn't feel like being in my picture :-(

Crossplay Lion-O. Her kids were also Thundercats, but they didn’t feel like being in my picture :-(

 

Penelope Pitstop

Penelope Pitstop

 

Miles Mayhem from M.A.S.K. The host didn't know who he was supposed to be, so she just kinda skipped announcing his name to the crowd. The hosts kinda sucked at identifying costumes...

Miles Mayhem from M.A.S.K. The host didn’t know who he was supposed to be, so she just kinda skipped announcing his name to the crowd. The hosts kinda sucked at identifying costumes…

 

The Toys

As always, you can count on finding some amazing vintage toys at this show. As I said before, the prices used to be somewhat outrageous, but it seems like things are calming down on that front. I didn’t really buy anything vintage, but for those who were there for that, I’m sure they weren’t disappointed. Let’s take a look at some of the stuff up for sale, shall we?

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My meager Retro Con haul

At the end of the day, it was an enjoyable time. I still don’t feel like there’s enough demand for the show to be a 2-day event, as that seems like the kind of thing you grow into. I’ve only done one day every year, so I’m not sure if they have a ton of folks who partake in the whole weekend. I did hear that dealers weren’t having the best day, as stuff wasn’t moving. This was somewhat disappointing, as the prices weren’t that high. Maybe it’s the kind of event where people like to look but not buy. I know I like to see a bunch of this stuff, but I have no real desire to own it (or I already own it, but it’s in storage). I hope the show did well, though, as I look forward to having it serve as the site of my yearly Twitter meetup. With that in mind, I’ll definitely be going back next year. For another take on the show, be sure to check out Shawn’s post over at Branded in the 80s!

26th Jun2015

West Week Ever – 6/26/15

by Will

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I watched absolutely nothing this week, so I’ve got nothing for this part of the post. Oh wait – I did watch The Briefcase on CBS. Have any of you seen it? It was pretty controversial when it first aired, and the season finale is already airing tonight. Basically, they present a briefcase filled with $100,000 to two different poor families. The families, then, have to decide whether to keep the money for themselves, or to share some of it with the other family. So, they’re demanding poor people make a Sophie’s Choice over this windfall that could be seen as a gift from Heaven. I mean, they all could use the money, but they don’t wanna look like assholes by keeping it all to themselves. Later in the show, once the families meet, they realize that there were TWO briefcases, and not just the one that was presented to them, so there’s $200,000 up for grabs. On the episode that I watched, one family gave $20,000 to the other family, while the second family gave $11,000 to the first family. So, they both ended up with the bulk of the money. For each of them, the amount given was such a drop in the bucket that I would’ve been offended, but they at least pretended to be thankful. They both owed so much money that the full $100K still wouldn’t have solved all their problems. I really hope there’s a “Where Are They Now” episode next season if the show gets renewed.

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Lots of news in the world of Spider-Man this week. First off, it was reported that Miles Morales, formerly the Ultimate Spider-Man, will be the MAIN Spider-Man in the regular Marvel Universe following the Secret Wars event. The new series, Spider-Man, will be handled by the Miles Morales: The Ultimate Spider-Man team of Brian Michael Bendis and Sarah Pichelli, and it also appears that a retired Peter Parker will serve as his mentor. I’ve written about my love for Miles in the past, and I’ve also written about how an association with Peter could only be a good thing for Miles. This is a pretty big deal, as Miles will also be one of the New Avengers as that team rebuilds following the event. I’m really excited for this, but part of me is wondering “How long is this really gonna last?” Comics have tricked us with “cowl rental” in the past, and the original wearer always comes back. I’m drinking the Kool-Aid, and I really want this to be a permanent thing, but I just know better than to get too excited about it yet.

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Meanwhile, in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Marvel and Sony decided on Tom Holland, and not Asa Butterfield, as the next actor to portray Peter Parker/Spider-Man. A moment of silence for Andrew Garfield. Not only will Holland star in the 2017 Spider-Man film, but he has been confirmed to debut in next Spring’s Captain America: Civil War. In fact, they say that he has already been sent to the set to start filming his scenes. Meanwhile, Jon Watts has been tapped to direct the next Spidey film, which will only be his third feature film.

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Also this week in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it was rumored that Selma‘s Ava Duvernay had been hired to direct Marvel’s Black Panther. While Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige has confirmed that they’ve had talks with DuVernay, her hiring is still just speculation at this point. While I know she’d bring a certain amount of, I guess, “legitimacy” to the movie, I don’t really know if that’s what her career needs. Sure, Kenneth Branagh directed Thor, but I kinda hate that we live in a period where it’s assumed that EVERY director needs to have a superhero film under his/her belt. I mean, other than the fact that they both feature Black casts, why would you think the director of Selma would automatically be the best person to showcase the king and world of Wakanda? To me, that’s just as dumb as the marriage between Storm and Black Panther which seemed based solely on the fact that they’re both African. It’s just sort of stupid that once you’re on everyone’s radar these days, it’s assumed your next move will be a superhero film.

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Also in movies this week, Rotten Tomatoes held a Q&A livestream with the cast of the Independence Day sequel, Independence Day: Resurgence. I guess the importance of the event was to showcase the new title, but it just seemed kinda like a sad affair. Instead of being excited about the movie (which is a year away), I was more sad for these actors that they didn’t have anything else lined up. I mean, even secondary characters like Vivica Fox, Brent Spiner and Judd Hirsch are back. Hell, if Harvey Fierstein hadn’t died in the first one, they probably would’ve gotten him back, too. But there is one glaring omission: Will Smith, who reportedly wanted $50 million to do the two planned sequels. So, instead of having him, they cast actor Jessie Usher (who?) as Smith’s character’s son. Anyway, since filming just started a month ago, they really didn’t have much info to share. I’m not sure whose idea it was to schedule this thing so early, but it was just an awkward, uncomfortable mess.

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Photographer Dennis
Stylist Lin

Some San Diego Comic-Con exclusives are starting to trickle out (you can get up-to-the-minute coverage over at Awesome Toy Blog), but my favorite is probably this Toys “R” Us exclusive Batgirl figure. I was a pretty devoted collector of the Batman ’66 line, and I’ve been waiting for this figure since it was announced over a year ago. I really kinda hate that it’s an exclusive (especially since it’s a TRU exclusive, exclusively for SDCC – it’s an exclusive inception!), as that means it’ll be harder to get than just walking into your local TRU store. It seems that TRU actually posts these for sale on their website during the convention, so I’ll try my luck at getting one that way. I’ll need two – one to open and one to put in storage. Yes, I’m that guy. Sometimes.

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It was quite a week for fallen child stars. First off, young Anakin Skywalker, Jake Lloyd, who apparently suffers from schizophrenia, attacked his mom before setting off a high speed police chase. Then, Saved By The Bell‘s Dustin Diamond was ordered to serve 4 months in jail for stabbing a guy back in December.

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In the world of music, Taylor Swift surprisingly became the voice for artists’ rights when she declined to allow her album 1989 to be offered via Apple Music’s streaming service. This is nothing new for Taylor, as she also yanked all of her albums off Spotify a few months ago. Still, she wrote an open letter to her fans, saying that she couldn’t go along with Apple, seeing as how they weren’t going to be paying artists royalties for the first three months of the service. Well, she cried and Apple listened. Responding to her on Twitter, Apple senior vice president of internet software and services, Eddie Cue, said, “Apple will always make sure that artist are paid,” tweeted Cue. “#AppleMusic will pay artist for streaming, even during customer’s free trial period. We hear you @taylorswift13 and indie artists. Love, Apple.” Now if she could only squash that beef with Katy Perry that easily…

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I don’t usually get too political on here, but this has been some kind of week. As I’m sure you know, there’s been a lot of movement to get the Confederate flag taken down at southern government buildings. Then things really shifted into turbo, as Wal-Mart, Amazon and more announced that they would no longer be selling items bearing the flag. Then Warner Bros announced that they wouldn’t sell any more Dukes of Hazzard merchandise with the flag on it. When all of this stuff was happening, I jokingly tweeted that I was fine with the flag being on the General Lee. And then they pulled it. Finally, Apple kinda screwed the pooch by removing Civil War games from the App Store because they depicted the flag. I say “screwed the pooch”, as this is almost like pulling a textbook because the flag was in it. It’s a part of history, but that’s where it should remain. If it’s a game or book about history, then it seems kinda fitting for it to be in there. It just probably shouldn’t be flying high like we’re still all in 1861.

As a Black man in America, it should be pretty clear where I stand on this matter. As someone whose relatives hail from the South, it has even more meaning to me. I’m conflicted, though, ’cause I grew up loving The Dukes of Hazzard. I guess you could say that I didn’t know any better, but I was an avid fan of the “Cars Jumping Over Shit” genre of television that ruled the early 80s. I was asked to write a guest post about my stance on this, and I really didn’t know how to approach it without coming off like some kind of race traitor. I hate the flag, but I love the General Lee. I’m not going to get into a debate about whether or not the flag represents racism or any of that. You already have your opinion, and some rando’s pop culture blog isn’t about to change that. I will say this, though: Nice work, America.

I say that sarcastically because this whole thing was NEVER about the flag to begin with. I have a pretty strict No Death policy for West Week Ever, but everyone knows that 9 people were killed in a church last week. And, as these things are prone to do, the debate about gun control was just about to start up and then all this flag shit happened. This is what they want. Instead of doing something about guns, they’ve diverted our attention to this other matter, hoping we’ll forget the first thing. And I don’t say this as some kind of “Nobody needs guns!” kind of person. I honestly haven’t fully fleshed out my views on the matter, but I do know that a church is supposed to be a safe place. Just like a school. Or a movie theater. And none of that is true anymore.

Keep the flag or get rid of it. That’s not what any of this is about. It’s about changing the conversation, and it’s been very successful. I guess we’ll revisit the original conversation after the next mass shooting. Or maybe we’ll finally change the Redskins’ name instead. End of soapbox rant.

Links I Loved

‘Star Trek’: The Story of the Most Daring Cliffhanger in ‘Next Generation’ History – The Hollywood Reporter

Paul Rudd and Marvel’s Kevin Feige Reveal ‘Ant-Man’s’ Saga, from Director Shuffle to Screenplay Surgery to Studio’s “Phase Three” Plans – The Hollywood Reporter

Why I Left Scientology – Gawker

Harmony Korine on ‘Kids’: ‘It Would Be Impossible To Make That Film Now’ – The Guardian

The Least-Plausible G.I. Joe and Cobra Vehicles – The Robot’s Pajamas

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Now this is typically the part where I tell you who had the West Week Ever, but I’m gonna try something different this week. You see, I’ve been working on a project that I kinda want to share with you.

After guesting on some 40+ podcasts, I always get the same question: When are you going to start your own podcast? Well, I never really wanted to because A) I’m lazy and B) I didn’t really think there was a demand. I mean, I already have to beg folks to read this thing every week, so why would I think they’d want to listen to me, too? It just didn’t seem worthwhile. Then, I had a conversation with my Twitter Sister, Brandi Brown. I call her that because we’re basically the same person, only she’s a stand-up comic in Minnesota, and I’m not. We started talking about Carmen Sandiego, and then we just fell down the rabbit hole trying to make sense of that whole franchise. We decided that it would probably be a good idea for a one-off podcast. As we kept talking, we realized that we had a few topics that deserved to be discussed – the only catch would be that this wouldn’t be a weekly show. Hell, it might not even be monthly. Think of it like a series of specials. If they do well, then we’ll figure out where to go next, but for now, we’re just thinking of this being an occasional sort of thing. Well, our good buddy Classick, over at the Cold Slither Podcast Network, invited us to be on the latest episode of his Classick Team-Up show. That episode was to serve as something of a “backdoor pilot” for the show that Brandi and I had devised. Oh, you don’t know what a backdoor pilot is? It’s when an episode of an existing show is used to spin off a new show. Got it? Good.

It was a lot of fun recording this, as we tackled topics such as Rachel Dolezal, paying it forward, and the conspiracy theories that we hold dear. The project is clearly a work in progress, so bear that in mind. We’ve got to figure out things like audio levels, podcast setup, mics, etc. Still, I think there’s a lot of potential here. So, I ask that you give it a listen and let me know what you think. Do you want more Brandi & Will? It’s all up to you. If not, I’ll be cool with that, too. Sure, I might cry a little, but I’ll get over it. So, in lieu of a West Week Ever, I give you Classick Team-Up #27 with Brandi & Will.

Oh, and there won’t be a post next week ’cause y’all never read it on a holiday weekend. So, unless something crazy happens and I write it on Thursday, we’re taking a week off.

05th Jun2015

West Week Ever – 6/5/15

by Will

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The first thing I watched this week was This Is Where I Leave You, featuring an all-star cast including Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Jane Fonda and more. When a family’s patriarch dies, he requests that his family sit shiva to mourn him. And hilarity ensues. Kinda. It’s not a laugh out loud comedy, and is more of a dramedy. There are funny moments, but these are all just damaged people, and it’s actually more sad than funny. I mean, all their marriages are falling apart, they’re not happy with their lives, and they really don’t know where to go next. I’m sure a lot of folks probably relate to it, but it was kind of a downer. It does end on a note of optimism, though, so there’s that.

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Next up, I caught The Watch, starring Vince Vaughn, Ben Stiller, Jonah Hill, and Richard Ayoade. Originally called Neighborhood Watch, this movie BOMBED in theaters because it came out right after the Trayvon Martin situation, when neighborhood watch wasn’t a very popular concept. Anyway, when a mysterious murder takes place in the CostCo that he manages, Stiller forms a neighborhood watch to solve the crime. While investigating, they find out that an alien threat is plaguing their town, and that Earth is on the verge of an invasion. This was a curious little film. First of all, I learned that when you watch a movie On Demand, you get the version that originally appeared on its respective network. This version aired on FX, however it was an R-rated comedy, so there were lots of dubs and edits. The interesting thing, however, is that there was really no need for it to have been rated R. I mean, sure, the language is “colorful”, but I think they could’ve made the same movie at a PG-13. After all, the “fucks” and other words just seemed out of place in the script anyway. Apparently, it was originally developed as a PG-13 teen comedy, and it was later rewritten by Seth Rogen to be this R-rated thing. I liked the cast and I liked the movie. If anything, however, I’d say it was too short. It clocks in around 90 minutes, and it sets up a lot of stuff that doesn’t really have a deserving payoff.

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It was reported this week that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, fresh off the successful opening of San Andreas, will star in a remake of 80s cult hit Big Trouble in Little China. And the internet lost its mind! On Facebook, it was interesting to see the racial divide of the reactions. White kids of the 80s thought it was blasphemy, as that movie is considered some kind of holy grail. Black folks were like, “I’d see that.” Meanwhile, Asian folks were hesitant for two reasons: 1) some of them “claim” The Rock, due to his Pacific Islander lineage and 2) Big Trouble In Little China is kinda Orientalist, and not really the kind of move you can pull off in today’s politically correct world. For the folks upset about this news, I want to point out two things: 1) some Asian American group will probably protest the Hell out of this movie and it’ll never be made OR 2) it’ll join The Fall Guy and Spy Hunter as movies The Rock’s been attached to, yet never got off the ground. I remember liking Big Trouble, but I haven’t seen it in a LONG time – odd, seeing as how I think I own it. In any case, I’m not a cinephile, so there aren’t really any movies that are “untouchable” to me. I was always excited to see it when it came on TV, but I also would love to see what The Rock could do with the material, especially since it’s supposedly his favorite movie. So, I’ve got a “Let’s wait and see” attitude about the whole thing.

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Speaking of race and movies, there was a big hubbub this week, as Cameron Crowe’s Aloha bombed at the box office (beaten by the aforementioned San Andreas). The backlash against the movie, however, is that Emma Stone was cast as a half Asian character named Allison Ng. Many people felt that there were half Asian actresses who should’ve been considered for the role before Stone. Well, we don’t know who tried out for the role and was rejected. All we know is that Stone got the role. Some people have written articles listing those potential actresses, like Chloe Bennett, Olivia Munn, and Kristin Kreuk. Well, I can honestly say that none of those have the acting chops to get my ass in a seat to see a movie. They may have potential, but they’re just not there yet. They’re not marquee stars. In fact, at the moment, you can’t name a marquee Asian female star to fill that role. Then again, if you don’t give them roles, then how are they ever expected to break out? It’s a complicated situation, and clearly even Stone didn’t have the drawing power to make this thing a hit. I just wonder why all of this is falling on Stone. I mean, it really sucks to be her right now, as the movie’s failure seems to be placed on her, but then Crowe even apologized for casting her. To her, it was a job. She was hired and she performed it. All this other stuff was out of her control. In any case, it’s clear that Emma Stone did not have the West Week Ever.

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Meanwhile, there’s a similar debate brewing around the Doctor Strange movie, as it’s rumored that Tilda Swinton may be up for the role of The Ancient One. Ya know, the old Tibetan man who mentored Doctor Strange in the mystic arts. Some outlets are saying that this is a win for feminism, but it’s at the cost of ethnic diversity. I mean, why are you casting a middle age White woman as an ancient Asian man? I could waste some more words on this, but I really, really don’t care much for Doctor Strange, so I basically don’t have a horse in this race. My pal Jenn has a much more nuanced take on the whole thing. Call me when they try to cast Taylor Lautner as Luke Cage.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

Awesome Con 2015 Cosplay Gallery

Comical Thoughts – Batman, and Archie, and Jem! Oh, My!

-After 14 seasons, Degrassi: The Next Generation is ending this summer

-My buddy @ClassickMateria sent me this. I have no idea what’s going on here.

-Stephen Colbert announced Jonathan Baptiste as his bandleader for The Late Show.

-Bruce Jenner will now be known as Caitlyn Jenner

-Henry Simmons has been promoted to series regular on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Furious 7‘s James Wan is slated to direct Jason Momoa in DC’s Aquaman film

-TV Land’s Hot In Cleveland ended its 6-season run this week

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-Apparently, Lifetime is making The Unauthorized Full House Story. Have you ever seen a plainer-looking group of people outside of an Old Country Buffet? Seriously, this looks like a frame from Too Many Cooks.

Links I Loved

AWESOMECON 2015: Best of TMNT – The Sewer Den

Official Teaser Image For ALL-NEW, ALL-DIFFERENT Marvel Universe – The Kliqnation

ALF Had a German Singing Career – The Robot’s Pajamas

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Community was the little show that could. It survived 2 networks, the loss of 3 cast members, and several other behind-the-scenes changes. Well, this week saw what was most likely the series finale. After 6 seasons, the study room is closed.

This hasn’t been the smoothest season for Community, as many folks didn’t keep up with it once it transitioned to Yahoo Screen. I’m one of those people, as I would forget that new episodes were released every Tuesday, so I’d end up binging a bunch of them at once. Still, when I did catch it, I enjoyed it immensely, as this was one of the strongest of the six seasons. On top of that, the new castmembers Paget Brewster and Keith David fit in like they’d been there the whole time. I’d gotten to a point where I missed Shirley, but really didn’t miss Troy or Pierce, so I welcomed the new additions to the Save Greendale Club.

The episodes were some of the strongest in the series’ run, especially this year’s paintball episode. The show has always been pretty meta, and the finale was the most meta it’s ever been. In the finale, the group mulls over how a seventh “season” of their friendship would play out. Series creator Dan Harmon has always been an astute student of television tropes, so that’s fully at play here. Let’s be honest, though -there’s no season 7 coming, and everyone involved knows that. There will be no #sixseasonsandamovie, as this was most likely the last time we’ll see the Greendale bunch. Knowing this actually brought a tear to my eye as I was watching the final scenes of a show that changed the way that I viewed television. I’m gonna miss Jeff Winger, Annie Edison, Britta Perry, Abed Nadir and Dean Pelton. Hell, I’m even gonna miss Frankie Dart and Elroy Patishnik. They usually brought a smile to my face (even during the “gas leak season”), and I thank them for that. It may not have been on a “real” network, but this finale season of Community had more quality than most of what you’ll find on the Big Four these days. And for going out while the quality was still on top, Community had the West Week Ever.

04th Jun2015

Comical Thoughts – Batman, and Archie, and Jem! Oh, My!

by Will

comical

So, I did something that I haven’t done in a LONG time – I actually read all of my Wednesday comics on release day. For the past few months, I’ve been visiting the shop religiously, but really only keeping up with Miles MoralesUltimate Spider-Man and Letter 44. Everything else was just stacking up in a pile. Well, I’ve done some reading, and I’ve got thoughts!

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First up, I finally read the “Endgame” storyline that was recently running in the Batman series. I had actually read the first 3 issues as they were released, and then I just sort of stopped caring. So, I had to reread those issues before jumping into the second half of the storyline.

In case you’re not familiar with it, The Joker comes back to Gotham and wages what’s supposed to be his final fight against Batman. It starts out with so much promise, as a battle-suited Batman is forced to fight his Jokerized Justice League teammates. That battle takes all of 1.5 issues, and then it’s done away with. Sure, we’ve seen Batman vs. The Justice League battles before – most notably in JLA‘s “Tower of Babel” storyline, but this one just seemed like it was wrapped up too quickly. In fact, that’s the main problem with the entire story: pacing. It feels like so much happens and so little happens all at once. Certain story aspects were wrapped up too quicky (like the JL fight), while the story itself felt like it was too long at 6 issues. On top of those 6 issues, the Batman family titles also had “Endgame” specials that were tangentially related to the main storyline.

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The story starts in a weird place because it’s leading out of the yearlong, weekly Batman Eternal series that only the most die-hard Batman fans even kept up with. I was not one of those fans. So, you’re left with a ton of questions as things open up: Why are they in a Bat base? What happened to the manor? Alfred has a daughter? And she’s Black?! SO MANY QUESTIONS! Before anything is answered, the fight with the Justice League starts. That’s the first issue, but we’re even cheated out of that, as we never get to see attacks from Green Lantern or Cyborg. It’s almost like “footage” was cut for time or space concerns.

As the story rolls along at a breakneck pace, a ton of stuff happens. The city gets Jokerized. We meet up with Duke Thomas – a character introduced during the horrid “Zero Year” story – who we’ve seen may become Robin in the future (due to the Future’s End one-shot). We find out that The Joker might be immortal. Then, bad stuff happens to Alfred. And then Batman needs the help of his villains to take down The Joker. Then, they fight. I won’t spoil the ending, but I thought it sucked. Then again, I’m just not a fan of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo on this book. I feel like I’m alone in this, as everyone else acts like this is the definitive run on Batman, while I just find it to be kinda meh. Snyder has one trick, and it’s “dancing between the raindrops of continuity”. It’s all “I bet you didn’t know this happened!” And he’s been doing it since the beginning. Bruce Wayne has a secret brother. Dick Grayson was enlisted by the Court of Owls. The Court of Owls has been running Gotham for hundreds of years. He even dialed back the clock with Zero Year to create an entire storyline during a period that’s not even supposed to *exist* based on the standard Batman timeline. I mean, what the Hell is a “zero year” anyway?

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On top of being disappointed by Snyder, I really don’t think Capullo’s a great artist. This may sound like sacrilege to some, but I feel like Tony Daniel was a better artist, even though his style just evolved into a Jim Lee clone. Capullo is not good with action scenes, as was proven by the fights in Endgame On top of that, he brings nothing to the table in terms of distinguishing the characters out of their suits. There’s a scene with Dick Grayson that might as well have been with Jason Todd or Tim Drake because there is nothing special about how he’s drawn. I noticed this back during “Court of Owls”, as there was a scene with all the Robins in their civilian garb, and it just looked like the same white guy, wearing the same tux, at three different heights. No distinction between any of them. Maybe it was meant to emphasize the fact that Bruce recruits the same type of kid for his Robins, but I don’t think it really accomplished that. Instead, it just looked lazy. I liked what Capullo brought to other series, like Image’s Haunt, but I’ve just found his Batman work has left me wanting.

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Now that it’s been revealed that Commissioner Gordon is the new Batman, I’m just waiting to be disappointed again. Sure, I could stop buying, but I’m a Batman fan, and I keep hoping it’ll get better. One thing I wish Snyder would realize is that not every Batman story need to be an “event”. Just have him solve some shit. Francis Manapul over on Detective Comics seems to understand this, as he’s cranking out some good mysteries. Meanwhile, everything Snyder does is like he wants to reinvent the wheel. I once read an interview with him where he said that you never know how long you have to write Batman, so you have to get out all of your ideas while you have the chance. I kinda understand that, but I need him to really get to the core of the character, which is something I don’t think he’s ever really done. He uses Batman as a prop in his stories, rather than as an actual character.

Speaking of upcoming DC stories, DC has launched an initiative called DC You, implying that there’s something for everyone in their new mix of books coming out. They even released a trailer of the new storylines, which was very Marvel of them. That said, I’m more curious about the books that they’re just glossing over. Sure, they’re telling us about Starfire and Cyborg, but they’re saying nothing about Red Hood/Arsenal or Martian Manhunter. They’re boosting Batman Beyond and even Deathstroke, but there’s nothing about Dr. Fate or Green Lantern: The Lost Army. Are these the dogs of the bunch? Should we start taking bets on their cancellation already?

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Since I mentioned Batman Beyond, let me just say that I HATE the new direction they’re going in with that character. If you’re not in the know, Batman Beyond followed Terry McGinnis who becomes Batman roughly 35 years in the future. He wasn’t Bruce Wayne’s initial choice as a successor, as Terry stole the Batsuit in order to bring his father’s murderer to justice. There was a whole 3-season cartoon about it. Well, a few years back, DC decided to bring Terry into comic continuity, though his adventures roughly followed what had been laid out in the cartoon. In the recent Future’s End series, however, they unceremoniously killed Terry and gave his suit to former Batman sidekick, Tim Drake. So now Tim is 35 years in the future, trying to carry the Batman mantle. However, due to the events of Future’s End, the future timeline isn’t what it was when Terry was there. So, in one fell swoop, DC wiped out Terry, wiped out most of his supporting cast, and apparently his rogues. See all those familiar folks in that cover image? Yeah, they’re not in the book. The future that Tim experiences isn’t the same as Terry’s world, as characters have been changed in drastic ways. On top of that, the entire plotline was basically lifted from Power Rangers: RPM, as an evil computer virus has taken over the whole world except for Gotham, which is somehow shielded from detection. I’ll keep reading for now, as I’m curious to see if anything is left of the old Batman Beyond world, but I feel this move is a slap in the face to the fans who had come to love Terry’s Gotham. Just the changes to Superman and Barbara Gordon alone are angering, as both characters had experienced a lot of growth in that world. Now, it’s like it just never happened. Due to the events of Convergence, I’d like to think that Terry’s world is still out there somewhere, but it doesn’t really matter if no one’s writing stories about it.

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One book I read last night was Archie #666, which is the final issue of the long-running series. In July, it’ll be relaunched with a new #1 and an updated look. I haven’t really read Archie books since I first got into comics, but I felt like this was a great series finale. It’s somewhat brief, but it gets to the heart of what Archie’s all about: he’s a good-natured kid who really cares about his friends. As I’ve seen previews of the upcoming series, I’m curious to see if this spirit will still exist in the new books. They say that the “familiar” style will still exist in digest form (ya know, the kind you buy at the supermarket), but the New Look is the main comic going forward. I trust Mark Waid and Fiona Staples, so I’ll definitely be checking it out. I’m just glad it had a fitting final issue, especially after the travesty that’s the current Archie vs. Predator miniseries.

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Not all cartoon characters can have great comics, however. A few weeks ago, children of the 80s had a fit when they saw the trailer of the upcoming Jem and the Holograms movie. What they saw bore no resemblance to the cartoon they watched as children. There were no Misfits, seemingly no powers, and it was just a teenybopper movie about a girl “trying to find her voice”. Meanwhile, IDW recently began publishing a Jem comic book, and I feel like it’s no more comforting than that trailer. At least the book involves hologram technology, and there are Misfits, but it seems like it’s just gearing up to be a battle of the bands. Now, I don’t remember a whole lot about Jem, but I felt like there was a lot more at stake than a simple battle of the bands, right? Was that what the cartoon was about? I mean, it’s been so long, and it’s not like I was a religious viewer anyway. I’m only 2 issues into the series (I still need to read the third), but this isn’t shaping up to be the exciting to me. Maybe it’s just not for me, and that’s OK.

Now for some quick shots-

Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows #1- This felt like a What If? comic. I mean, I guess all of the Secret Wars tie-in books kinda feel that way, but this really felt like one. It was interesting to see the modern storylines they allude to, such as the Rykers outbreak that caused the formation of the New Avengers, as well as the idea of MJ and Peter moving into Avengers Mansion. Still, despite those modern references, something about it felt very 90s. Oh, and Andy Kubert really phoned in that art. There’s a panel of Peter where he looks like a caveman. This really looked like a rush job.

Groot #1 – This was a cute read. Not something I’d normally pick up, but I was kinda speculating. I remember that Rocket Raccoon #1 became a sought after book, so I figured the same might be true of his partner in crime’s book. I might just wait until this is collected, as I’d like to see where it goes, but I don’t know if I wanna spend $3.99 a month on it.

Years of Future Past #1 – I had to choose between this and the X-Tinction Agenda book. Since I never read the original X-Tinction Agenda, I figured this was the safer bet. It’s an interesting premise: Colossus and Kitty have a teenage daughter, and we’re back in the somewhat familiar Days of Future Past reality (or a version of it), while incorporating the idea of assassinating President Kelly. It was interesting, but I’m not sure I’m gonna stick with it. There are simply too many Secret Wars tie-in books and, frankly, some of them look more exciting to me.

Secret Wars #3 – Well, this was much more interesting than #2. We got to meet God, as well as see a few familiar faces from before the final incursion. I’m really engaged by this story, and everything I learn just keeps me wanting more. I thought it was important that Doctor Strange pointed out that they had basically perfected how to get folks to acknowledge the merged timelines. I feel like this will be important for when they reshape things into the new Marvel Universe. Still, I can’t helped but feel like I’m missing out on certain characters’ motivations because I skipped Hickman’s runs on Avengers and New Avengers. And we find out that 8 years have passed since the Doom reshaped the world. I tend to hate time jumps, as they are a cop-out. Rarely are those missing time periods ever explained, but I guess enough time needed to have passed in order for the societies to be as stable as they are. Still, I hope we get some insight into those 8 years, as I’m already dreading the reported 8 month time jump that the characters will have experienced once Secret Wars is over.

So, that’s me. What did you all read this week?

29th May2015

West Week Ever – 5/29/15

by Will

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seeking asian female

I watched a couple of documentaries this week. First up was Seeking Asian Female, part of the Independent Lens series  on PBS. It follows an older White man who suffers from “Yellow Fever”, as in he is obsessed with Asian women. He has tried mail order bride companies, and now he’s discovered the internet. He meets a Chinese woman online, half his age, who agrees to marry him without even meeting him. He goes to China to bring her back to America on a fiancee visa. So, they have 3 months together as they plan whether or not a wedding is even going to happen. She finds out that he’s poor and they have to struggle to make ends meet, however she’s ashamed to go back to China because she knows that everyone will talk about her behind her back. It was interesting to watch because while the guy’s interest began as some sort of fetish, he genuinely cares for his fiancee, and she for him. The question is whether or not their relationship can survive their differences. It was really good, and I’d recommend it to anyone looking to kill an hour.

southern rites

Next up was the documentary Southern Rites. This HBO documentary followed filmmaker Gillian Laub as she returned to a southern town that she’d documented in the New York Times Magazine article “A Prom Divided”. Basically, the town of Vidalia, Georgia, up until recently held segregated proms. While the schools were integrated, the proms were not. The White kids would have theirs one night at the community center, and the Black kids would have theirs the next night at the community center. White kids could come to the Black prom, but not the other way around. The 2009 article garnered so much attention that it pressured the county into integrating the prom the following year, but Laub wasn’t allowed to document it. Since she couldn’t get into the prom, she turned her attention to other matters going on in the county. First up, an older White man, Norman Neesmith, was on trial for the murder of a 22 year old Black man, Justin Patterson. Apparently, Patterson had been in Neesmith’s house, smoking and fooling around with Neesmith’s daughter. Neesmith chased Patterson and his brother out of the house, shooting at them. A bullet hit Justin, and he died outside the property. Meanwhile, Laub also follows the campaign trail of the potential first Black sheriff of the county. It’s interesting to see how the racial divide still permeates this small town that’s been resistant to change. I won’t spoil the endings, but there are no real cut and dried answers. It’s definitely the kind of documentary that will start a conversation.

two-night-stand-poster

Finally, I was bored one night and watched Two Night Stand On Demand. Starring Miles Teller and newcomer Analeigh Tipton, it’s about two young adults who have a one night stand that ends rather miserably. Unfortunately, they get snowed in together, so they’re forced to call a truce. Ya know, I’m starting to warm up to Teller. While I used to want to punch him in the face (he just has one of those faces), he’s really starting to grow on me. I’m also impressed by his career arc. He had carved out a niche doing R-rated comedies (21 & Over, Project X), but instead he branched out and did Whiplash and the upcoming Fantastic Four. He may actually have range. Anyway, the real star here is Tipton, surprisingly in her first lead role. Apparently, she was a finalist in Cycle 11 of America’s Next Top Model, but you’d never really know it here. She’s cute, but accessible. It’s a modern-day romcom, but it was still a fun watch.

great-bikini-bowling-bash

This might be sort of “blue” for some of you, but I watched what’s colloquially known as an “adult movie”. I mean, I’m paying for Cinemax, so I might as well watch it, right? Here’s my issue: whatever happened to the Cinemax Code? Back when I was a teen, Cinemax movies starred folks like Shannon Tweed, and you knew that the sex was simulated. Nowadays, however, they’re using REAL PORN STARS! They broke the code! Now I can’t tell if it’s simulated or real. It’s all about the angles, and for all I know, they’re really doing it, and the camera’s just blocking it out. The mystery is killing me! Anyway, the movie I watched was The Great Bikini Bowling Bash. It starred Mary Carey, Sophia Bella, and Krissy Lynn – a blonde, a brunette, a redhead, so there was something for everyone. So, the brunette’s family is about to lose their bowling alley, so they decide to have a bikini bowling exhibition in order to raise money. When that doesn’t make enough, they decide to challenge a local millionaire to a bowl off. If they win, he saves the alley. He wins, and he gets to bang all three of them. Surprisingly, the movie doesn’t go in the direction you figure it’ll go in. I mean, how did the filmmakers pass up a golden opportunity for a 4-way?! Anyway, they win, and the bowling alley is saved. Oh and they all take turns banging each other throughout the movie. I was livetweeting it while watching, and some folks on Twitter wondered what I was watching, so there ya go.

convergence

This week saw the end of the Convergence event from DC Comics. Originally designed as something to hold readers over as the company moved to the West Coast, it somehow evolved into an “event” that was designed to change the status quo. I didn’t read it because I was getting a decidedly “been there, done that” vibe from the whole thing. It also didn’t help that no one involved seemed to be able to explain what it was truly meant to accomplish. Well, in the final issue, we found out why: (SPOILERS) the resolution of the story basically wiped out the original Crisis on Infinite Earths from 1985. That was an important storyline where several of DC’s different universes were merged into one. Back then, it was felt that continuity had gotten too complicated, so it was decided that everything should be “streamlined” into one Earth. As you can imagine, this caused more problems than it solved. Every ten years or so, DC has an event to sort of tweak what was done during Crisis, but this is the first time that they’ve basically done away with the original miniseries itself. So, now DC has an infinite number of Earths again, all available to creators who have a good story to tell with them. After 30 years, we’re right back to square one. And I feel this is a TERRIBLE idea. Whether or not the original Crisis “worked”, there was a problem with timelines and continuity that needed to be fixed. Now, not only is that original problem still a concern, but now it has 30 years of baggage on top of it. It might seem great that all of these worlds are now available for creators, but it only matters if they actually use them. Now begins the questions of “Where is ___ ?” and “Which Earth is the real Earth?” Only time will tell, True Believer! Whoops, wrong company…

2995_chris_pine

Meanwhile in DC land, it’s been rumored that Chris Pine is in talks to play Steve Trevor in the Wonder Woman film. I like Pine and all, but I thought the ship had sailed that was trying to make him a marquee star. Sure, he has the Star Trek films, but he also had This Means War. Plus, this also means that he’s no longer in the running for the role of Green Lantern, which is another rumor that had been floating around.

bebop and rocksteady

In other film news, here’s Bebop and Rocksteady in their human form from TMNT 2. I find it hilarious that Uncle Ruckus from The Boondocks is Bebop. And you can’t tell from this angle, but Rocksteady is Sheamus from the WWE. Anyway, I like their look, but I’m sure everyone else hates it, so I’ll just be over here…

Most of you probably know Jenny Lewis as “the girl from The Wizard“, but she’s done so much more than that. Later on, she went on to join the band Rilo Kiley, and now she’s a solo artist. In her latest music video, “She’s Not Me”, she pokes fun at her child star past. If you were ever a fan of The Golden Girls, you’ll remember the episode she was in. The weirdest thing about this video, to me, is that the bearded dude is NOT Chris Parnell. No, that’s Leo Fitpatrick, who played Telly in KIDS. TELLY FROM KIDS HAS A GRAY BEARD! I’m so old…

telly

 

My Twitter pal, @TheSewerDen was profiled on NJ.com for his amazing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles collection. He’s converted a room in his parents’ house into essentially a museum of all the TMNT ephemera he’s collected over the years. Seeing this makes me wish I’d taken pictures of my Power Rangers collection before it was dismantled. The thing I loved about this profile was how supportive his parents have been in regards to his collecting. I can’t wait to see what my kid gloms onto in the future.

Links I Loved

Do it, Rockapella: A Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego? Contestant Looks Back – The A.V. Club

The Secret History of Ultimate Marvel, the Experiment That Changed Superheroes Forever – Vulture

Marvel Studios Fails Fans by Fighting Marvel TV (& Not Hiding It Well) – Screenrant

25 Comic Book Movies That Never Got Made – The Robot’s Pajamas

Goodbye F.A.O. Schwarz: Toy Lovers Prepare for Store’s Closing – The New York Times

I’ve written about Kung Fury in the past, but I’m happy to announce that it’s finally here! Premiering last night on El Rey Network (and subsequently on YouTube), the Kickstarter-funded “movie” finally saw the light of day. I put movie in quotes because the whole thing only clocks in at about 31 minutes. The thing has so much potential, but there’s only so much you can do on a budget. Now that it’s here, it’s even more absurd than I thought it would be – and I mean that in a good way. There’s Hitler and Thor and laser raptors and more! An homage to 80s action shows, Kung Fury follows a kung fu cop as he travels to the past to kill Adolph Hitler.

So, what did I think of it? Was it awesome? Yes. Was it as awesome as it could have been? No. Here’s my nitpicky thing: why go to Nazi Germany to kill Hitler when he was apparently already in 1985 Miami? Why not just kill him now/then? Also, I was kinda surprised El Rey showed it with a TV-14 rating, considering they say “fuck” a LOT. And in the middle of the evening, to boot! It’s an impressive venture, as the entire thing was filmed with greenscreen in Sweden, but I felt they could’ve chilled on the effects a bit. Instead of rendering a million Nazis, how about using that money to make the movie longer than an infomercial? I mean, if you saw the trailer, you’ve basically already seen the whole thing. I think I was looking for something like Axe Cop meets Danger 5, but I’m not quiet sure it accomplished that. And that weird cameo by “The Hoff 9000”? I dunno, man. Still, it was an impressive production, and that’s why Kung Fury had the West Week Ever.

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