16th Jun2015

The Price of Admission: The Socioeconomic & Racial Implications of Jurassic World

by Will

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Let’s talk about Jurassic World  namely about the socioeconomic status of the people who visit the park. I asked this question when the movie was first announced, and I still wanna know: how much does it really cost to visit Jurassic World?

First off, we have to look at comparable theme parks. The Washington Post recently posted an article about how parks like Walt Disney World have priced middle class families out of the market, as the cost of a daily pass is now $100 per person. In fact, Walt Disney World is currently promoting a 6-night, 7-day package for a family of 4 at $2,370 – which doesn’t include transportation to the park. Disney is an experience, but it’s essentially just a park full of rides. Jurassic World has motherfucking DINOSAURS! Sure, it’s not like they went back in time and retrieved them, but they still managed to genetically engineer dinosaurs in the present day. There’s GOT to be a premium on that, right? I mean, based on the movie, enough time has passed that humans are pretty blasé about the fact that this place even exists. We learn that attendance is steady, but it’s not growing or really going down – which is where the Indominus Rex comes in. A new attraction equals a spike in attendance.

Jurassic World crowd

All this is to say that there weren’t a lot of minorities at Jurassic World. While everyone was captivated by the dinosaurs onscreen, I was focused on the folks in the background. The park attendees don’t seem rich, per se, but the majority of them are White. In fact, most of them appear to be middle- to upper middle-class, which might actually be the most unrealistic part of the movie about a park full of dinosaurs. How does a middle class family afford to fly to Costa Rica AND go to the park full of dinosaurs? There’s also the ferry to Isla Nublar, but according to the park’s website, that’s included in the cost of park admission. So, why aren’t there more Black people at Jurassic World? I think of it this way: you really only have to tell us something once. I forget which comedian said it, but he used to joke that if Black people see folks running, they join in and don’t ask questions. I figure after the tragedy at the original Jurassic Park, the Black community was essentially like, “Well, fuck that shit!”

Kids Playing With Dinosaurs

I’m even gonna go out on a limb here and say that there’s a racial disparity in the love for dinosaurs. I always joke with @sharepointjoe about this, but White people LOVE dinosaurs. It’s almost like a developmental phase. There’s the phase where little boys love trucks, and next they love dinosaurs. “Well, Will – the movie made half a billion dollars, so surely that means a lot of Black people went to see it.” Yup, they sure did. But, you see, Black people love MOVIES. If given the choice to see real dinosaurs, or a movie about people being attacked by dinosaurs, we’ll choose the movie 9 times out of 10. Going to the dinosaur park would be “White People Stuff”, like white water rafting and brie. In fact, if you Google Image search “black people and dinosaurs”, you get NOTHING.

I also think the Black Church plays a role in things, as there’s not really an emphasis on dinosaurs. They, like the unicorn, didn’t get on the Ark. Then, down to simple economics, with the exception of Oprah and Beyonce, Black people just don’t have the disposal income to go to dinosaur island. With the disproportionate love of dinosaurs, I feel like White families are more likely to scrimp and save up for the dino resort than Black families, who’d use that money for something else.

Equally, though, one thing that people don’t realize is that, due to the popularity of the park, one would also have to assume that it would result in an increase in attendance at the Creation Museum. The extreme Christian Right would LOATHE Jurassic World, as everything it’s done is an abomination in the eyes of The Lord. Plus, add in the fact that they’re hard-working, salt of the Earth people, they more than likely can’t afford the trip to Jurassic World. After all, that would require a trip to Costa Rica, and that’s where “all the damn Mexicans come from”. Also, you can see animatronic dinosaurs there, so it’s a lesser experience, but at a much lesser price. Right now, the cost of adult admission to the Creation Museum is only $29.95 for an adult (which is good for admission on TWO consecutive days), and you’ve only gotta get yourself to Kentucky. The mere existence of Jurassic World is probably driving Creation Museum attendance through the roof – which will surely help them finish that life size Ark they’ve been building.

Essence Festival 2015

So, what could the park do to lure more minority guests, which equates to more dollars? Four words: Jurassic World Jazz Festival. The annual Essence Festival is HUGE, drawing thousands to New Orleans every July. Just this year alone, the festival features headliners such as Usher, Mary J. Blige, Kendrick Lamar, and Missy Elliott. Move the festival to Isla Nublar, or create a similar festival, and watch the dollars roll in. Also, film a Beyonce video there. She’s the highest profile Black entertainer these days, so she’s got the audience. Plus, it’s an exotic location that everyone would be curious about. Remember when Boyz II Men filmed the “Water Runs Dry” video, and everybody wanted to go to the desert with the white sand? It’d be just like that. But you know what would go a long way to appealing to minority guests? STOP LETTING THE DINOSAURS GET LOOSE AND KILL PEOPLE!!! You take care of that simple matter, and you just might have the Black community on your side. For now, though, the cost (and risk) is just too high.

30th Jan2015

West Week Ever – 1/30/15

by Will

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I’m back on a standup kick, so the week started out with me watching Kyle Kinane: I Liked His Old Stuff Better. I’m still trying to get over the fact that Kinane is the Comedy Central voiceover guy. How did I not realize that sooner?! Anyway, I love this guy, and he’s in my top 5 of modern day comedians, but this special’s title was pretty much on the money. He had some good bits there, but I’ve just come to love his other stuff because I’ve heard  it a million times on Comedy Central Radio. Maybe I’ll warm to this special once I’ve heard the jokes just as many times.

Soul Train Awards 2012 at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas, NV

Next up was Gary Owen: I Agree With Myself, If you’re white, you probably don’t know who he is. If you’re black, you know him as that white dude who’s always in black stuff. No, not Turtle from Entourage. The other one. Yeah, him. This special was HILARIOUS as he dealt with race issues, his marriage, and his mentally challenged cousin who contracted an STD. I won’t say it’s politically correct, but it’s funny nonetheless.

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Finally, I watched Donald Glover: Weirdo. Most folks know Glover from Community, but you might also know him by his rap name, Childish Gambino. It’s a good special, as Glover’s a good storyteller. My problem with Glover is that he’s got such career ADD that he doesn’t seem to know what he wants to do. Is he an actor? A rapper? A comedian? He hasn’t slowed down enough to perfect any of these areas. Instead, he’s just “pretty good” at all of them. I wish he’d slow down and focus on what it is he wants to be. Wow, I sound like my mother…

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On the Netflix front, I finished season 2 of Maron and decided to check out the Bojack Horseman Christmas Special. I’ve written about my love of Bojack already, but I was surprised like everyone else when the Christmas Special had a stealth release back during the holiday season. In Bojack Horseman, Bojack used to be the star of a family sitcom called Horsin’ Around, so the Christmas special was actually a Christmas episode of Horsin’ Around. During the series, we got clips of Horsin’ Around, but this is the first time we see an entire episode. I loved it, and I hope we get to see more of the Horsin’ Around world in season 2. After all, there are 2 other cast members whose whereabouts are still unknown at this point. My favorite line of the whole thing was “Goober didn’t molest all those Laker Girls. The actor who played Goober molested all those Laker Girls.” It’ll make more sense when you watch the episode, so check it out!

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I caught up on this season of Girls so far. I’ve got to ask: is there anyone out there who doesn’t hate-watch this show? Surely there can’t actually be people out there who like Hannah, can there? I watch the show just to see bad stuff happen to them all. I like seeing Marnie cry, because she sucks at life. I laughed when Hannah’s bike was stolen (TWICE!) because she sucks at life. I thought it was awesome when Jessa was arrested for peeing in the street because she thinks she’s above everything and everyone. And Adam…in the words of Hank Hill, “That boy ain’t right.” I’ll refrain from using “the R-word” (is that really where we are as a society now?), but he’s seriously close to that classification. The only one I love is Shoshanna because she’s so dumb that she loops back around to smart. And she knows that she has no business hanging with these other girls. Why? Because they clearly suck at life, and she wants better for herself. I know that Lea Dunham is supposedly the “voice of a generation”, but I fear for that generation, as they all need to be drowned in a river. If you wanna watch the same generation, but actually laugh with them, check out Broad City.

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Now for the controversial stuff. This week, depending on what you read (it has spanned from “rumored” to “confirmed”), Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones are your new Ghostbusters. No, this isn’t Dan Ackroyd’s planned Ghostbusters 3, but another all-female take on the franchise by the studio. According to Variety, Gillian Bell from Workaholics/22 Jump Street is rumored to have a role, while SNL‘s Cecily Strong is rumored to play a government employee like Walter Peck. And the internet lost its shit! “Why are they all women? How dare they do this to Ghostbusters? Why couldn’t they get someone funny?” All of this and more was uttered across Twitter and Facebook (and probably by that one guy who’s still over on MySpace). How do I feel about it? I LOVE IT. I love the cast (seriously, why do y’all love to hate Melissa McCarthy so much?) and I’m curious to see what they do with this. I find it interesting that no men have been announced in any roles yet. Is this some sort of Y: The Last Man scenario, where all the men are gone or something? Someone I follow on Twitter said that Ghostbusters is a flawless movie and doesn’t need to be remade. I don’t know about all that. I don’t hold Ghostbusters in that high esteem. Don’t get me wrong – I have loved every incarnation of the franchise, from the movies to Extreme Ghostbusters. I even love Ghostbusters 2, which is blasphemous to some people. My thing is that I’m not “Mr. Movie”, so I don’t feel qualified to say if something is “flawless” or not. I only know what I like, and I like this idea. Plus, the thing to remember is that this doesn’t really affect the movies that already exist. Sure, it might kinda sully the brand a bit, but the stuff you loved will still exist, so let’s not jump to conclusions. It’d be more interesting if they destroyed the originals every time they remade something. THEN, I could see people getting upset. I do kinda wish they’d called it something other than Ghostbusters, just so more people would be willing to give it a chance. Anyway, if you don’t like this idea, don’t go see it. Nobody’s forcing you. But you’ll still go. I know it. You know it. So let’s just cut the bullshit.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

The Best Pop Album of 2014…That You Didn’t Know Existed

-David Tennant has been cast as The Purple Man in Netflix’s AKA Jessica Jones series, while Rachael Taylor has been cast as Patsy Walker (Hellcat).

-Ryan Adams and Mandy Moore filed for divorce

-Disney wants Chris Pratt for Indiana Jones

-Sly Stone was awarded $5 million in back royalties

-Black actor Mehcad Brooks has been cast as Jimmy Olsen in the Supergirl pilot. Awaiting the internet’s racist reactions in 5…4…3…2…

-If you love anime and/or TGIF, you’ve GOT to watch this!

My pal Matt sent this along. Apparently, scientists combined Lady Gaga with Iggy Azalea. Oh, and there’s a dancing biscuit.

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Staying with controversial stuff, let’s talk about the Fantastic Four trailer. Everyone kinda hated this but, again, I don’t know why. I thought it looked interesting. Sure, it looks like a generic sci fi movie, but a darn engaging one. I have to be honest, though: I’ve always hated the Fantastic Four. I find them boring, and I’ve never liked any of their adventures. People always try to sell it as “they’re a family!”, but I don’t see it that way. Sue’s more interested in a fish king than her own husband, Johnny’s a womanizer jerk, and Reed is cold and distant. The only character I liked was The Thing, and I’m not really sure why. Maybe I felt sorry for him. Whatever the case, I didn’t really care about the Fantastic Four until the Ultimate incarnation came along in Ultimate Fantastic Four. They were younger, not yet a family, and they had problems. I could get behind that FF. After about 40 issues or so, even it got boring to me. The younger, hipper FF just couldn’t hold my attention. I like the characters when they interact with the rest of the Marvel Universe, but I just don’t like those 4 as a self-contained team – regardless of interpretation. I’ve heard that this reboot is taking more cues from the Ultimate version, which I like, but this is an uphill battle for me, as I’m predisposed to disliking whatever they do since it’s the Fantastic Four. This trailer, however, kinda got me excited. And that’s not an easy feat. So, for that, the Fantastic Four trailer had the West Week Ever.

28th Feb2014

West Week Ever – 2/28/14

by Will

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Well, the week started out with us joining our friends Eric and Rachel for a Moulin Rouge singalong at the Alamo Drafthouse. It’s what it sounds like: a theater full of folks singing along to the songs as the movie plays on the big screen. Moulin Rouge – I’ve often called it one of my favorite movies and, in fact, it was the very first DVD that I ever bought. I was 19 when I first saw it, as I was dating a cinema projectionist and she introduced me to it. It was at a time when I had young, foolish, perhaps even irresponsible notions about “love” – not unlike Christian in the film. It became our movie and the songs became our songs. Eventually, the relationship ended, as unions at that age are wont to do. I didn’t revisit Moulin Rouge because I felt that chapter was closed. Sure, Eric and I would sing “Come What May”, alternating between the male and female parts, but I wouldn’t watch the movie. Still, one thing about it has stayed with me through all these years: “The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.” That’s a powerful message and it’s not as easy as it sounds. I know I still have trouble being loved, but it’s something I’m working to be OK with. Wow, this got deeper than the stuff you’re used to getting in these weekly posts. Anyway, it’s such a heavyhanded farce (Christian & Satine = Christian & Satan), but I was surprised to see how well the movie has held up all these years later. Oh well, now let’s talk about the Netflix stuff I watched.

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Tom Papa: Freaked Out – I never watched when he hosted The Marriage Ref, but I came to like Papa’s work via his Sirius/XM show, Come To Papa. This was a really funny special, as he described his family life and why the Asian grocery store scares him. I also liked that it had a 70s aesthetic, like a Flip Wilson special or something – which is really funny, considering Rob Zombie produced it.

Ron White: A Little Unprofessional – By far my favorite of the Blue Collar Comedy guys, this wasn’t his best work, but it still had its moments. He seems to be a fan of saying “This ain’t gonna suck itself.” He explained that phrase is the reason he does everything his wife tells him to do.

Brian Posehn: The Fartist – funny special, as he deals with becoming a father and a responsible adult. I kinda wish he’d mentioned that he co-writes Deadpool, but I don’t really know how he would’ve snuck that into the set.

Bob Saget: That’s What I’m Talkin’ About – TERRIBLE. This was my first Netflix 1-Star rating. He was just scattered, and he spent too much time either namedropping Full House or doing really lazy crowdwork. He closed out his set with some really bad songs he had written. I knew he could be inappropriate, but he’s usually funny while being that way. There was NOTHING funny about this special.

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30 for 30: The Price of Gold – As I was raised by women, I grew up in a figure skating household. No, we didn’t skate, but we watched ALL the competitions. So, I was right in the thick of the whole Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan thing when it happened. To my recollection, I don’t think we were on either side of the debate. While Tonya was clearly white trash, Nancy had this uppity air about her that kinda made it seem like she got what she had coming to her. Once Oksana Baiul emerged as the winner in Lillehammer, I think my family gravitated to her and her sob story. In any case, this was an interesting documentary, as it really makes you feel for Tonya. Part of this is because Nancy refused to be interviewed, but it’s greatly skewed towards being The Tonya Harding Story. We learn about her abusive mom, her abusive ex-husband, and how she really couldn’t support herself after being banned from the sport. She maintains that she didn’t have anything to do with the planning of the attack, even though she pled guilty to not reporting what she knew after the fact. Ya know, I kinda believe her. The attack was so sloppily planned, and they were hardly criminal masterminds, so I find it hard to believe she would have gotten away with it had she known about it from the start. Anyway, it’s worth watching even if you just had a passing interest in the controversy. By the way, am the only one who thinks young Tonya looked like Shawn Michaels?

Tonya Michaels

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The Americans returned on FX a few nights ago. I remember writing about how much I enjoyed it, and then I just kinda forgot it existed. There were just too many shows to watch, and it didn’t make the cut. I’ve heard from some folks that it got even better, so now I’m thinking I need to catch up. Besides the quality, it’s also a bit risque as I heard this week’s season premiere included what the French call a “soixante-neuf”. Everyone to Google Translate!

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Did y’all know that CeeLo’s gone from The Voice for good? I thought they were gonna alternate judges like they’d been doing, but he announced he’s not coming back. I dropped that show after season 2 ’cause those winners weren’t going anywhere, but I certainly enjoyed his antics. It’s not clear whether or not Usher will be his permanent replacement, but I hope not. That chair needs someone flamboyant in it. Maybe Gaga?

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If you’ve been following my Arsenio Watch, you’ll be surprised to hear that he’s been renewed for a second season. I know I was! According to my mom, his show got better. I couldn’t make it through that first week. So, if you enjoy watching the same late night programming as a 75 year old woman, The Arsenio Hall Show‘s for you!


Who knew Wayne Brady could freestyle?

Links I Loved
Thoughts on the Olympics – Musical Wanderer

Alec Baldwin: Good-bye, Public Life – Vulture

Free Falling: The Sad, Strange Career of Former WWE Champion Ric Flair – Bleacher Report

5 Things You Never Say to a WWE Fan – UnderScoopFire!

I’m Concerned About Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm… And It Doesn’t Make Me Racist. – Reappropriate

Flame Off: The Case Against Black Johnny Storm – Snoopy Jenkins

Ageless Pharrell Swears He’s Not a Vampire – CNN Entertainment

In Case You Missed It This Week

A Day in the Life of “Keith”: My Trip To Toy Fair 2014

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While he probably should have gotten this last week, I wanted him to get some shows under his belt so we could see how he did. Jimmy Fallon has now hosted The Tonight Show for a week, and it is clearly his show. He doesn’t seem to be worried about what Jay did or what Johnny did – Hell, even what Conan did. He had a successful formula when he hosted Late Night, and he brought it, as well as The Roots, with him to the earlier timeslot. One of the things I love about Fallon is that he has always catered to social media. Unlike shows that you might watch in full, his version of The Tonight Show can be consumed in bits and pieces. This format has helped him, as it seems one skit per night has gone viral the next day. Whether it’s charades, The History of Hip Hop Dance, or this:

Fallon is clearly the late night host for a new generation. So, for bringing The Tonight Show into the 21st century, and for having a great first week of shows, Jimmy Fallon had the West Week Ever.

14th Feb2014

West Week Ever – 2/14/14

by Will

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I’ve never seen a full Jackass movie, so I didn’t know what to expect from Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa. All I knew was that the commercials looked funny, and I had vowed to pick it up on Redbox the minute I got the chance. Since I didn’t know the “mechanics” of the Jackass franchise, I spent the movie wondering “Do these people know what’s happening? Did they sign a release form?” My questions were answered during the credits (No and Yes), but that didn’t help while I was watching the movie. Little Billy’s mom is going to jail for crack possession, so his grandpa Irving (Johnny Knoxville in makeup) has to drive him across the country to live with his dad (who just sees Billy as a welfare meal ticket). Along their road trip, hilarity ensues as they steal from convenient stores and Irving hits on women. Oh, did I mention that Irving’s wife just died, and her body’s stashed in the trunk? Yeah. Anyway, even as a Jackass movie, the narrative had a lot of heart. I mean, it’s fake and predictable, but it was still fun to watch.

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The trailers for Don Jon never really gave a great idea as to what the movie was about, and there’s a reason for that: you can’t show most of that stuff on television. You see, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character, Jon, learned everything he knows about relationships from pornography. He’s got a tight bod, a sweet ride, and a happening pad – all of which help him close the deal with a streak of “8s”. That said, no matter how much minge he gets, it doesn’t compare to the orgasm he gives himself. So, the whole movie is about how he hides that fact about himself while dating bossy Scarlett Johannson. If you’re 12, you’ll love this movie ’cause there’s porn and tits everywhere. It’s an entertaining movie, but that ending kinda comes out of nowhere. The movie gains an emotional beat about 3/4 of the way in, which causes the ending to be somewhat incongruent with the bulk of the movie.

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What if the Girls Gone Wild also liked to perform armed robberies? That’s Spring Breakers. To be honest, the movie’s boring until James Franco pops up and then it just goes insane. I still want to know who the primary audience was for this film, as it starts off as jailbait-apalooza. Selena Gomez looks about 15, and she and her friends just bounce around in bikinis most of the time. They used to charge a quarter for this kind of movie in Times Square. I sat there, asking myself, “What the Hell am I watching?” This is the kind of movie that was created to help the former Disney girls (Gomez and Hudgens) shed their squeaky clean image, and it worked. And that ending?! I’m not gonna spoil it here, but there’s NO WAY that movie ends the way that it does. No way in Hell.

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Kick-Ass 2 is a far superior movie to Kick-Ass, which is a shame since no one saw it. I actually got this thing at Redbox on Friday and didn’t end up watching it until Wednesday. Hell, I could’ve bought the thing for as much as that’s gonna cost me! Anyway, I just wasn’t in the mood to watch it, even though I had been in the mood when I first got it from the kiosk. Finally, I hunkered down and watched it and was pleasantly surprised. Jim Carrey contributed to the negative press on the film, as he was against its depiction of violence (though he had no problem cashing that check). It’s sad he felt that way, as he was really good in the movie. I had problems with the liberties that the first movie took with the story, but I had no problems with them going off-book this time around. Most of the film is original, only taking a few cues from the Kick-Ass 2 comic. My only problem was the fact that Chloe Moretz aged, so they had to age her character as well. This led to some underlying sexual tension that’s not present in the books (since she’s about 10 there), and that was kinda weird.

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After the Redbox selections, I remembered that I have Netflix. What did I watch first? LEGO Marvel Super Heroes Maximum Overload. This little 22 minute show was kinda cute and I guess I watched it to get myself in the mood for The LEGO Movie. Basically, Loki uses his Norn Frost to boost villains’ powers through “overloads”. The bittersweet aspect of the special is that it showed how cool things would be if Marvel Studios had the rights for X-Men and Spider-Man. I’d really love to see that shared cinematic universe, but I don’t see that happening any time soon, so the animated stuff is the best we’re gonna get.

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Since it’s not a West Week Ever without a standup update, this week I watched John Mulaney: New In Town. Formerly a writer for Saturday Night Live, if you don’t know Mulaney, you soon will. I’d heard every single bit in the special because Comedy Central Radio loves to play his stuff. Still, I love every second of his material, so I didn’t mind that it was all “old” material.

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Once I was done with the Mulaney special, I remembered that I have Amazon Prime, so I hopped over to see what was available over there (that’s also where I saw Spring Breakers. I wasn’t gonna spend money on that thing!). That’s where I found that the first season of Inside Amy Schumer was available to stream. I’ve always liked Schumer’s material, as it’s similar to Sarah Silverman’s, only Schumer’s humor has more of a sexual edge. After all, you can’t get through a Schumer performance without her mentioning that she has HPV, or that her recent sexual partner had no testicles.

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I want to be mad at my wife for getting me addicted to Flappy Bird. I wanted no part of it, but when she heard that the creator was going to take it offline, she basically made me download it, “just in case”. I’m not much of a gamer, especially when it comes to things intended to frustrate, but I haven’t gotten too mad at the game. My high score is only 25, so it’s not like I’m a champ at it, but it’s another way to kill time.

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Well, since most of my traffic comes from mentioning Power Rangers, I guess I’m required to mention the premiere of Power Rangers Super Megaforce tomorrow. The main draw for this season is that the Rangers can draw powers from, and transform into, any of the Power Rangers teams from the past 20 years. The pilot’s been available on Nick.com since Saturday night, so I’ve already seen it. In my opinion, it’s a good start to the season, but my opinion doesn’t really matter. The main issue is whether or not kids will like it. I don’t see any reason why they wouldn’t, however a lot of the teams won’t be familiar to really young kids. My only “gripe” is that’ they’re clearly pirates (based on the Japanese source footage), yet that word is never spoken. It’s like we’re supposed to pretend we don’t know that’s what’s going on.

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Has Coke won any kind of industry award for the Coke Freestyle machine? I mean, this thing isn’t new, but it offers over 100 different sodas in one fountain. It’s like the future that science fiction foretold for us! Anyway, I hope someone, somewhere, has given Coke the recognition it deserves for such a modern marvel.

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I’m supposed to be going to the American International Toy Fair in New York this weekend, but I don’t know if the weather’s going to cooperate. I don’t even know why I’m going, as I don’t have invites to any of the fancy parties. I just wanna get in and see what I can see. It’s been 7 years since I last went, and that was a dream come true, so hopefully I’ll come back from this trip with some good pictures and stories.

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Before we go, I had the pleasure of sitting down with the UnderScoopFire guys to record their latest podcast. We talked about the Super Bowl, TV ratings, and more. As usual, I had a great time, and you can check it out here.

Links I Loved

RoboCop: The Thinking Man’s Action Movie – Snoopy Jenkins

What if 80s Cartoon Characters Wrote Dirty Messages on Candy Hearts? – UnderScooprFire!

Remembering Shirley Temple Requires Us To Remember Her Legacy of Blackface Cinema – Reappropriate

The Return of Boy-Band Impresario Lou Pearlman, an All-Time Music Industry Swindler – Grantland

In Case You Missed It This Week

Adventures West Coast – Superman: Earth One Vol 2

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I know a lot of my readers don’t follow sportsball, so you may not know the man in the picture. To be honest, most of the country didn’t know who he was a week ago. That all changed, however, when he came out as gay this week. Michael Sam, a defensive end for the University of Missouri will probably be the first openly gay player drafted into the NFL, which is a pretty big deal. Hopefully, we’ll get to a point where something like this isn’t “news”, but we’re not there yet. It took a lot of courage for him to come out, with his potential future at risk by doing so, but all signs seem to imply that the NFL is finally ready to take this step. Some have said that his presence would serve as a “distraction”, but the naysayers are being drowned out by the supporters. This is an important event in professional sports history, so that’s why Michael Sam had the West Week Ever.

 

31st Jan2014

West Week Ever – 1/31/14

by Will

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So, I guess you could say that I’m still on a comedy kick. To be more precise, I’m on a Mike Birbiglia kick. It all started last Friday, as I was listening to the Comedy Central Drive Home, and they were playing Mike’s special Sleepwalk With Me Live. It was really good, and I actually related to him at a few parts. Well, I had to go into Walmart and ended up missing a good chunk of the show. When I got home, I found Sleepwalk With Me on Netflix. It turns out that wasn’t the same special. No, it was actually a movie version of the special, where names had been changed, etc, etc. It mainly focuses on the rise and fall of Mike’s relationship with his college sweetheart, Abby. Still, I ended up watching it and really enjoyed it. Since I wasn’t sleepy yet, I decided to watch his most recent special, My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend, where Mike talks about how he doesn’t believe in marriage and thinks it’s a chaotic, antiquated concept. The special ends, however, *SPOILER ALERT* with him telling us that he had, in fact gotten married. Though he doesn’t believe in marriage, he’s still giving it a try and taking it one day at a time. I really enjoy Birbiglia’s work because he’s very relateable and a great storyteller. I wasn’t as much of a fan of My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend, but I highly recommend Sleepwalk With Me.

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So, I’m still watching Portlandia. In fact, it got really good. I’m used to the characters now, and I actually have favorites. There’s a hilarious episode revolving around Battlestar Galactica, where we see our first black Portlanders (“I want these white people outta my kitchen!”). I’m in the second season now, and it took me that long to realize that Armisen is supposed to be a woman in the women’s bookstore series. I mean, it’s a women’s bookstore! Still, I just thought he was an effeminate man. My bad. My least favorite skits involve the Mayor, as the show turns into some kinda campy, kid’s public television show whenever he’s around. Plus, I’ve got questions. Do Fred and Carrie share a house in Portland? Are they just roommates? Do they actually live in Portland, or is it a place to which they escape for its quirkiness? Why don’t they seem to have jobs? I mean, we know what Fred does, but what does Carrie do for money? SO many questions! Anyway, I’m powering through to the end, so this won’t be the last Portlandia report from me.

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Yay, my favorite interracial TV family is back! There’s a new Cheerios commercial airing during the Super Bowl Sunday, but since we live in the future, everything gets leaked before its time. Here’s the commercial:

They’re having a baby! I love that little girl so much. I hope my little halfy daughter is just like her one day.

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My new favorite website is Used To Be a Pizza Hut, and the name is pretty self explanatory. Readers submit pictures of establishments that clearly used to be Pizza Hut restaurants. It’s a great way to kill time, and I plan to submit a few myself pretty soon.

Here’s a pretty cool version of the Mega Man 2 theme:

Look at this! It’s called a Quokka. I got this from my Twitter pal @shankjackbel. I must own one of these!

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Ya know who had a great week? Ryan Lewis. “Who’s Ryan Lewis,” you ask? That’s just why he had a great week: his anonymity. Ryan Lewis is the other half of rap duo Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. As the group’s producer, Lewis is a bit of a silent partner, while Macklemore’s flamboyance tends to steal the spotlight. The duo cleaned up Sunday night at the Grammys, winning Best New Artist, Best Rap Song, Best Rap Album, and Best Rap Performance. A lot of people felt that three of those categories should have gone to black artists, and it started the discussion of white appropriation of rap music. What was a great night for Macklemore and Ryan Lewis turned into a bad week, as everyone started questioning whether or not the duo was worthy of the awards that they won. Hip hop heads mentioned several acts that never won a Grammy, but should have, including the Wu-Tang Clan. It’s said that Macklemore himself tweeted an apology to his fellow nominee Kendrick Lamar after beating him. Then the debate turned to whether or not Macklemore had anything to apologize for. Anyway, while all this was going on, Ryan Lewis was having his cake and eating it too. He had all the same awards, but none of the spotlight. I’m sure it sucked when Macklemore got all the good publicity, but I’m sure Lewis is reveling in his background status at the moment. All eyes are on Macklemore and the debate rages on, but Ryan’s name rarely comes up. That’s why Ryan Lewis had the West Week Ever.

24th Jan2014

West Week Ever – 1/24/14

by Will

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So, this week I spent a lot of my time watching standup specials. When all was said and done, I had watched three, but laughed very little. First up was Neal Brennan: Women and Black Dudes. Brennan may not be a household name, but he should be as he co-created Chappelle’s Show. Since the show ended, he’s been making a name for himself as a standup comedian, and he’s got some pretty funny stuff based around race relations and perceptions. His funniest bit is that he’s friends with a lot of black guys who call him “the N-word”. He says that it happens so much that he finds himself calling himself that word when no one’s around. You need to watch the special to get the whole gist of it, but it was pretty funny.

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Next up was Chris D’elia: White Man, Black Comic. D’elia’s most recent role was as Whitney Cummings’s boyfriend in Whitney, but he’s been doing standup for years. Most of his his act revolves around accents and how women are crazy. To be honest, I thought his Comedy Central half hour special was funnier, but I won’t hold it against him too much. This isn’t the special to watch if you want his best stuff, but if you’re already a fan, you should check it out.

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Finally, I caught Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain on Netflix. Kinda like with D’elia, this wasn’t his best work, but it shows that his act has matured, as he opens up about his infidelity and how it helped him grow as a man. There are a lot of funny bits in the special, but I expected to bust a gut. That didn’t happen.

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While I was on the comedy kick, I wanted to watch more, but didn’t feel like sitting through an entire special. So, I decided to finally give Portlandia a chance. I don’t say this much, but I think it just might be too white for me. I mean, I got a few laughs out of it, but it’s SO niche. I guess you could say that I came for Fred Armisen, but stayed for Carrie Brownstein – who has an aloof cuteness about her. I’m only 2 episodes in, but I think I’ll power through and see what the rest of the series has to offer.

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It’s been sitting on my DVR since about October, but I finally sat down and watched CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story. Before the jokes start, no, it was not a movie about The Learning Channel! I never really processed that TLC basically had the same career trajectory as a boyband. They released 3 albums in about 10 years and then disappeared. The movie suffered from too much creative license. Like The Temptations, events coincided too often in order to make the story more compelling. Left Eye’s dad dies the same day the girls are signed. Chili finds out she’s pregnant the very day she’s asked to rejoin the group. It also skipped a few important parts, such as Left Eye signing the girl group BLAQUE to her label, as well as R U The Girl? – the UPN reality show designed to replace the deceased Left Eye in the group. I still say the second verse of “Waterfalls”, with its oversimplification of HIV, makes no sense whatever.

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I started the week off by going to a toy show in Timonium, MD. In my mind, the show sucked. Pretty hard. The silver lining, however, was that I got to meet @smurfwreck and @shezcrafti in the flesh! Above is my meager haul from the show. Mr. Sinister only cost me $5, and he’s an addition to my X-Men Marvel Legends collection. Doom was carded and cost me $10 – he’s an addition to my Marvel movie figure collection. Finally, K.A.R.R. cost me $7, which was about half what folks were charging for it at Baltimore Comic-Con. I’d actually found K.A.R.R. a few months back, but @smurfwreck seemed to want it more than I did (I really wanted K.I.T.T. and hadn’t found him yet at that point), so I had sold it to him. Now that I have K.I.T.T., the “brothers” can now hang out on my wall together.

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Something hit a little too close to home this week. As you probably know, I tend to write a column called Thrift Justice, where I talk about stuff I’ve recently picked up at thrift stores. For quite some time, I was the only thing that came up in Google searches for “Thrift Justice”. Then, the other night, The Colbert Report decided to use the phrase in their The Word segment. It’s odd, because it seemed to have nothing to do with the topic at hand – the diminishing supply of execution drugs. After watching the segment, I’m hardpressed to understand where or how that phrase even entered into the discussion. Anyway, now my Google hits have been pushed down by political blogs linking to his segment. Too bad I couldn’t get any traffic out of the who ordeal. I had actually let the ThriftJustice.com url lapse, but the minute @OAFE tweeted that Colbert had used the phrase, I immediately renewed the domain – just to cover my ass.

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No one had a week like Richard Sherman. Even if you’re not a fan of sportsball, you no doubt know his name by now. Following the Seattle Seahawks’ NFC championship win, Sherman went OFF on Michael Crabtree of the San Francisco 49ers. We all joked that he “cut a promo”, like a WWE wrestler. He also decided to declare himself the best corner in the game. So, there were accusations that he was a “thug” and that his outburst showed a lack of class. Supporters have said that we have no idea the emotions he must have been feeling, and that we can’t judge him on that. My favorite thing floating around is the whole matter that Sherman graduated from Stanford, so “…not only is he not a fool, odds are he’s smarter than you and me.” Hold on there, sportswriter. I have an Ivy League degree, in just as useless of a major, so we’re probably on the same level when it comes to smarts. He’s just better at football. But I digress. All eyes will definitely be on Sherman during The Super Bowl, and he’s probably responsible for the creation of a few new Broncos fans. In any case, you couldn’t get through the news this week without hearing about Richard Sherman, and that’s why he had the West Week Ever.

17th Jan2014

West Week Ever – 1/17/14

by Will

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I didn’t watch anything on Netflix this week, but I used the time to catch up on some TV. First up, I watched Enlisted on Fox. Someone on Twitter said that it’s basically Stripes: The TV Series, and they weren’t wrong. It focuses on a war hero who, due to insubordination, gets bumped down to a Rear Detachment unit back home with his two brothers. He’s dying to get back to combat, and his Rear D unit is made up of a bunch of underachievers. By the end of the episode, however, he learns that Rear D is a valuable unit, as they take care of the families of the soldiers who’ve been deployed. The show was really funny and has a lot of heart. I’d expect big things if Fox had put it on Tuesday with the rest of their comedies. Instead, it’s being burned off on Friday nights with Raising Hope. The numbers weren’t too good for the premiere, but Fox execs say they’re committed to it for its initial 13-episode run. You should definitely add it to your DVR.

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I caught the 2-episode season premiere of Girls, and I still can’t figure out how I feel about the show. I don’t have HBO, but luckily they put the episodes on their official YouTube channel. I thought this meant that certain things would be censored. After all, when I watched the free preview of the House of Lies pilot, there were black bars over all the naughty bits. I was wrong to think that was going to happen here. Despite YouTube’s content rules, nothing about the Girls episodes was changed. We still saw Lena Dunham’s sad little boobies, and we also saw Jessa go down on another girl – all on free, non-age verified YouTube. I was kinda impressed by the balls on that decision. Anyway, the titular girls are still deplorable, and Adam’s even weirder than before. Nice cameo by Amy Schumer, but that didn’t really help the need for diversity on that show. Shoshanna’s still my favorite character, though this article points out that she seems to have no real motivation for being there.

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How I Met Your Mother‘s writers must’ve just said “Fuck it. It’s the last season.” No, I’m not talking about the quality of the writing, but I’m referring to the fact that this week’s episode was full-on yellowface. If you’re familiar with the show, then you probably know about the Slap Bet – Marshall won a bet with Barney and won the opportunity to slap Barney, as hard as he could, over the course of what became 8 slaps. In the continuity of the show, there’s always been some build-up to the slaps, and they tend to happen on “Slapsgiving”. Well, this season, in “Slapsgiving 3: Slappointment in Slapmarra”, the writers went full retard and told a tale of Marshall traveling to Shanghai to learn the Slap of A Million Exploding Suns. Yes, every chop socky Asian trope is displayed in the episode, and it even includes Ted looking like this:

slapsgivingThe creators have, since, apologized, but it’s a sour note for the show to go out on. After all, the series finale is in March, and this isn’t the kind of legacy that it should leave behind. I tend not to take things too seriously, but even I was watching the episode like, “Oh, shit. They’re really doing this?”

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It was announced on Wednesday that the 1966 Batman TV show would finally be released on DVD. This is a big deal because the rights have been tied up forever, as Warner Bros owns Batman, yet Fox owned the show. That said, I still feel like this was the worst-kept secret in Hollywood, as it was pretty obvious this was going to happen due to the onslaught of Batman ’66 merchandising over the past year. We’ve gotten everything from comics to action figures to Barbie dolls. There was no reason to be pimping an almost 50 yr old show if the DVD thing wasn’t happening. Still, as excited as people seem to be about the DVDs, I don’t really get it. I mean, if you really wanted them, you have them already. I bought my complete series for $40 at a comic show. Sure, it’s bootleg, but the quality’s just fine. I know that I’m not alone, so I feel that the extras are really going to make or break this set. There are folks lining up already, saying “Take my money”, but I’m gonna need to learn more about this before I get too excited.

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From here on out, I will be referring to the star of 12 Years A Slave as “Chitlin Ejector”. I can’t pronounce his real name, and I feel his new name is urban, yet futuristic.

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I had a bit of a milestone this week, as I got the most hits I’ve ever had in the history of the site. No, it wasn’t West Week Ever that did it. It turns out that a 10-year old post of mine was linked by NPR’s Code Switch blog. If you’ve never gone that far back in my archives (or you just don’t feel like clicking that link), I posted a quote from John Byrne’s message board where he gave his opinion of Jessica Alba being cast as Sue Storm. And he also said that he thinks Latinas with blonde hair look like hookers. Since his message board archive doesn’t go back that far, it seems like my snapshot of the conversation is one of the last remaining pieces of evidence that it ever existed. Anyway, the Code Switch blog was discussing race and identity in comics (you should totally read it!), and that link drove my traffic through the roof. I’m still feeling the residual effects of it, so welcome, new readers, if this is your first taste of West Week Ever.

When I wrote West Year Ever, I omitted another event that took place in 2013: my good friends James and Jenn came to visit. Jenn helped create this site, while you can see James in the Wonder Woman video clip I’ve been posting. Anyway, I didn’t have a pic of their visit, so they got no mention. Still, you can follow them on twitter: @snoopyjenkins (James) and @reappropriate (Jenn).

In Case You Missed It This Week

Track Star: Mr. Mister Vs. Boy Meets Girl

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On Monday, it was announced that Michael Douglas will be playing Hank Pym in Marvel’s Ant-Man movie. This is a pretty big deal for two reasons. First of all, the tabloids had Douglas on deathwatch just a year ago, so it’s great that he’s not only still with us, but ready to tackle such a meaty role. It’s also important because it means that Paul Rudd will actually be portraying the second Ant-Man, Scott Lang. This bit of casting made the Ant-Man movie plans that much clearer, and it’s gotten folks excited for the movie in a way that they hadn’t been prior to the announcement. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has been pretty “meh” since the introduction of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but this was just the shot in the arm that the franchise needed. For this reason, Michael Douglas had the West Week Ever.

30th Jul2013

Pillow Talk

by Will

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He leaned in and whispered to her, “Leave off the last ‘S’ for savings.” She looked at him quizzically. “The last ‘s'”, he said. “It’s for savings. It’s like a pun. Well, not really a pun, but more like a joke.” She nodded in understanding and took a sip of her Mimosa, her mind filled with thoughts of her impending mattress purchase.

27th Jun2013

Ladies & Gentlemen…

by Will

…Mr. Conway Twitty

Come back tomorrow for:

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26th Jun2013

Thrift Justice – The Expendables XI: Never Stop Spending!!!

by Will

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When I saw all of these guys in one bag at the thrift store yesterday, I HAD to buy them. Then the story hit me – this wasn’t just coincidence. No, these were the makings of the 11th installment of The Expendables, subtitled “Never Stop Spending!!!” Here’s how it goes:

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Main man Barney Ross is back, and he needs a team to help him overthrow a South American dictator. This job requires a special kind of finesse, though, so he can’t depend on the rough and tumble guys from the last 10 gigs. No, he’s got to be more delicate this go ’round.

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First up, Ross knows he’ll need muscle, but cooler heads prevail in the thick of the action. That’s why he calls up Booker from the 2nd job. He’s got brute force, yet he’s deadlier because he knows where, when, and how to use it.

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Next up, Ross needs a pilot. This time he goes with an unknown, who only answers to the name “Baloo”. He supposedly does cargo runs through a little burg called Cape Suzette, but none of that matters to Ross. All he knows is he needs a flyboy – one who’ll keep his mouth shut.

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Ross knows he can’t just take on a sovereign nation without a little international backup. That’s where grizzled, ex-cop “D.T.” comes in. Apparently, he has ties to Interpol, and knows just about everyone you need to know in this kind of business. He’s also got a mean swing with that billy club!

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Every team needs a master thief, and that’s where Hood comes in. He’s also pulling double duty on this one, serving as the marksman.

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What Ross doesn’t realize is that this job actually has TWO master thieves on the team. The mysterious man known only as “LeBeau” is on the team as the demolitions expert. Do I smell third act plot twist?

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Finally, there’s “The Kid”. Don’t let his looks fool you – rumor has it he fucked with some robotic dinosaurs or some shit back in the day. Anyway, The Kid’s parents were missionaries in the South American country when his dad was murdered by the dictator’s forces. His mom’s now a waitress in one of the local titty bars. Ross counts on The Kid for intel, as well as to get the lay of the land.

Here they are: Your new EXPENDABLES!!!!

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It adds to the effect if you make explosion sounds with your mouth while looking at it

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