27th Mar2015

West Week Ever – 3/27/15

by Will

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I totally wasted last Saturday, as I could’ve been watching new stuff, but instead I watched four movies I’d already seen. FOUR MOVIES! Yup, the day started with Die Hard, followed by Iron Man 3. Later that night, I caught A Million Ways To Die In The West, and capped it off with The Dark Knight. What can I say? I really like all of those movies. Anyway, I’ve really got nothing to add except for the fact that I still hate that ferry scene in The Dark Knight. It unnecessarily makes the movie longer.

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Saturday, I also caught Sarah Silverman: We Are Miracles. I’m a Silverman fan, so I pretty much knew what to expect. Still, I found myself disappointed. I don’t know what it is, but I felt like I’d heard all of that material before. I’m pretty sure they weren’t the same jokes as Jesus Is Magic, so I’m not quite sure where I heard them, but it all sounded like old material. After the recent Aziz specials, followed by this, I’m really not winning in the standup department lately. Anyone got any suggestions?

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Earlier this week, I finally watched HBO’s Behind The Candelabra. If you’ve never seen it, it’s the story of Scott Thorson’s relationship with Liberace during the final years of Liberace’s life. Michael Douglas was amazing as Liberace, who seemed like one creepy old son of a bitch. Meanwhile, Matt Damon was great as Thorson, and I can understand why it won as many awards as it did.  Looking back, I still don’t know how the general public convinced themselves that Liberace wasn’t gay, but I suppose it was a different and simpler time. Liberace and Paul Lynde…it’s like people only saw what they wanted to see with those two.

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The other night, I finally watched Choke – a movie I’ve wanted to see for years. Based on a story by Chuck Palahniuk, and written and directed by Agent Coulson himself (Clark Gregg), the movie follows a sex addict (Sam Rockwell) who, while trying to care for his schizophrenic mother, discovers he may be a clone of Jesus. Meanwhile, he runs a scam where he pretends to choke in public places so that he can con his “saviors” into supporting his financial needs. Yeah, it’s kinda twisted, but it’s a great dark comedy. I highly recommend it. Plus, for you Community fans, if you’ve ever wanted to see Britta topless, this is your movie.

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Speaking of Community, sure it won West Week Ever last week, but now that we’re 3 episodes in, something seems kinda off about it. I’m not sure if it’s the lost cast members or the new “network” it’s on, but it feels lacking. I think it’s the fault of Yahoo Screen. It’s just such a ghetto medium compared to Netflix or Amazon Instant Video, and it almost feels like UPN 2.0. Just look at the other shows on the “network”. Sin City Saints? That’s totally the kind of show that UPN would’ve cancelled after 5 episodes, only to be replaced by more Shasta McNasty. I’ll keep watching because, as far as new episodes of Community goes, Yahoo Screen’s the only game in town. I just hope they bolster their offerings with some quality programming to support what they already have with Community.

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Meanwhile this week, Fox announced The X-Files would be coming back for a 6-episode special event. And if ratings are good, I’m sure there’ll be more. I’m not exactly what you’d call an X-Files superfan, but I did watch more than half of its run. I enjoyed it at the time, but I’m not really sure I was clamoring for more. If anything, this saddens me because it’s just more proof that Hollywood’s out of original ideas at the moment. People are constantly saying this, but when you go back and resurrect a show that’s been off the air for 13 years, you’re kinda proving their point. I wonder if they’ll retcon the last movie, as it seems like that killed a lot of people’s desire for more Mulder and Scully. I never saw it, so I’m only going off of scuttlebutt. Anyone care to weigh in on whether or not it was as bad as I’ve heard?

Speaking of crazy comebacks, it was announced yesterday that NBC ordered 13 episodes of <strong><em>Coach</strong></em> – the sequel to the 90s ABC show of the same name. Yes, Craig T. Nelson will once again play Coach Hayden Fox. Apparently, he’s retired and is his own son’s assistant coach at an Ivy League school in PA. I don’t even know what to make of this. First of all, I hate when shows switch networks. Second of all, is NBC <em>that</em> desperate? I mean, I loved Coach back in the day, but I don’t know if there’s a place for it in today’s TV landscape. Thoughts?

 

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Yesterday, the cover leaked to Marvel’s Free Comic Book Day offering, The All-New, All-Different Avengers. On it, the post-Secret Wars team appears to be comprised of Iron Man, Vision, “She-Thor”, “Blaptain America”, Ms. Marvel, Nova, and Miles Morales’s Ultimate Spider-Man. It looks like The Diversity Crew to the rescue! A friend of mine online said that he believes that this will be the B-Team of Avengers, and I’m inclined to agree with him. There’s a good mix of young and veteran heroes, but I’m not sure if they’re “Avengers”. This reminds me of when Marvel created the All-New Ultimates, comprised of Miles, Cloak & Dagger, Black Widow, Kitty Pryde and Bombshell. It really should’ve been called Ultimate Runaways, but the Ultimates name carried more clout. Ms. Marvel, Miles, and Nova are clearly the next generation of heroes, but they’re not really on that level yet. So, maybe they’re being mentored by the veteran heroes. Despite Miles’s presence, I’m more surprised that Sam Wilson as Captain America and the female Thor are present post Secret Wars. I thought they’d be the first to go in a multiversal shakeup, but I guess they have staying power. People love to point out that “She-Thor’s” sales are higher than those of the Odinson, but I maintain that it’s due to the mystery surrounding her identity. That’s not to take away from the storytelling, as folks wouldn’t stick around if it weren’t up to par. Still, those numbers will drop once her identity is revealed, as this same scenario played out with Red Hulk. My problems with Sam as Cap have to do with the concept of “cowl rental”. My friend Jenn explains it much better than I could, but let’s just say that the “replacement hero” rarely fares well once everything is said and done. Anyway, luckily it’s a free book, so I’ll pick it up and see what all the fuss is about. I mean, I’ve pretty much vowed to read whatever Miles is in, so I’ll read it, but I’m not saying I’m optimistic about the whole thing.

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In the world of music, Zayn Malik announced that he was leaving the boyband One Direction. As much of a boyband fan as I am, I’ve never really given the time of day to 1D. I’m not really sure why. I guess it’s because their songs aren’t really that catchy to me. I’m a bit of a boyband snob, and if your songs aren’t from Max Martin, then you haven’t made it yet. Teenage girls seem to be losing their shit over this news, but I didn’t even think Zayn was that important a member anyway. It’s not like Harry Styles quit! Anyway, 1D will be fine. Fellow UK boyband Westlife had a similar thing happen when Brian McFadden left the group in 2004, yet they continued on as a 4-piece up until 2012. So yes, Directioners – there is life after Zayn. Unless, of course, he was your favorite member. then, I guess you’re screwed…

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Last week, I had the pleasure of joining the Nerd Lunch guys to discuss television series finales. This is a topic that’s near and dear to my heart, as I love me some TV and I love some series finales. I’ve heard before that a good series finale should equally satisfy longtime viewers, but also serve as a decent jumping-on point for the casual viewer. Which shows adhered to this tenet? Well, hop over to their site and give the show a listen!

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We’re doing something a little different this week. You see, I was off work because I was out on paternity leave. As many of you probably know, my wife and I have been expecting a baby since about July, and this week was the due date. Well, last night came a moment I’ve been equally terrified of and excited for: at 7:20 PM, Evelyn Robyn West was born. Weighing in at a whopping 8 lbs and 7 ounces, she licks her lips like Heath Ledger’s Joker, she’s pink and kinda looks like the baby from Dinosaurs. But she’s all mine, and I know that my life won’t be the same from this day forth. Mommy and baby are doing well, though Daddy almost passed out several times. That’ll just be our little secret! So, since nothing will ever compare to this in my mind, little Evelyn West had the West Week Ever.

20th Mar2015

West Week Ever – 3/20/15

by Will

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First off, thanks to everyone who read my Batgirl post, as I had my best traffic in over a year. Who knew that something I wrote in the middle of the night would garner that much discussion? If you don’t know what I’m talking about, click the link!

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This week, I caught the series premiere of Transformers: Robots In Disguise and I don’t really know what I saw. Taking place years after Transformers: Prime, it features Bumblebee (voiced by Will Freidle) as the leader of a ragtag group of Autobots trying to recapture some Decepticons who had crash landed on Earth. I love Will Freidle and I love Bumblebee, but I I’m not sure I love Will Friedle as Bumblebee. Also, it was kinda jarring that the sequel to the CGI Prime is a standard 2-D animated show that looks more like the sequel to Transformers Animated. I’m not the biggest Transformers fan, so I kinda don’t have a horse in that race, but I still thought I’d check it out. It didn’t hold my attention, so I can only imagine how kids are gonna feel about it.

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On the cable front, I checked out Tammy. Yes, I know that some people hate Melissa McCarthy and, yes, I know that they trailer did a horrible job explaining what the movie was about. Still once it hit DVD, I knew I was gonna watch it. I’d meant to get it from Redbox, but it premiered on HBO last weekend. So, what is it about? Well, after a really bad day – where she finds out that her husband’s cheating on her and she’s fired from her job – Tammy (McCarthy) sets out on a road trip with her grandmother (Susan Sarandon). Was it funny? I thought so. It’s produced by Will Ferrell’s Gary Sanchez Productions, so you’ve kinda got an idea of the type of humor that it contains.

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Speaking of movies, some drama’s been going down concerning upcoming Aquaman, Jason Momoa. Apparently, he signed a fan’s poster with the words “Fuck Marvel”. While some folks are saying this was unprofessional, others are happy that he’s igniting a true cinematic rivalry between Marvel and DC. DC fans say that the Avengers stars run their mouths about how their movies are superior, so why is this any different? I think it’s more a case of the fact that Marvel’s proven its worth. Momoa’s untested and hasn’t even acted in anything yet in the DCU, yet he’s already knee deep in a “rivalry”. If Henry Cavill had said it, I’d take it, since he’s already gotten his feet wet with Man of Steel. As it stands, however, Momoa really doesn’t have anything to back himself up. Someone on Facebook tried to say that Momoa passed on being Drax in Guardians of the Galaxy, so clearly he must have more faith in DC by taking the Aquaman role. I beg to differ. I think he realized he’d made a mistake when GOTG went on to be HUGE and he jumped on the next train that came along. Anyway, let’s see who’s laughing when Dawn of Justice finally comes out.

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On the comics front, I got my hands on an advance copy of Archie vs. Predator #1. Sadly, I probably know more about Archie than I do the Predator franchise (I’ve never seen any of the movies). So, I’m sure some Easter eggs were lost on me. Still, the story should still be rather accessible, right? Wrong. It just doesn’t flow well. The characters’ personalities are off, as they seem to exist at extremes. Reggie’s REALLY a dick. Betty’s REALLY a dumb blonde. If Jughead had more than 2 lines, I’m sure he’d be REALLY hungry. It felt like a book made by someone with little familiarity with Archie for someone with little familiarity with Archie. On top of that, the level of gore that we get at the end of the issue doesn’t fit tonally with the rest of the issue. It reads like a “My First Archie Story” for kids, and then ends with eviscerated corpses hanging from trees. There are 3 more issues in the miniseries, but this one didn’t leave me with the desire to read more. I was expecting them to pull it off, like Archie Meets The Punisher, but this wasn’t on that level. If you love Archie or Predator, you’re gonna hate this.

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In the video game world, it’s rumored that game developer Hideo Kojima has left Konami. Now, I’m the furthest thing from a “gamer”, but I do know that he’s behind the highly successful Metal Gear franchise. That game series holds a special place in my heart, as I almost beat Metal Gear Solid II: Sons of Liberty, and that game’s theme is what I want played at my funeral. Seriously, just listen to it:

Anyway, if Kojima has left Konami, this will be a huge blow. Apparently, there’s been a falling out between Kojima Productions and Konami, and Konami has lashed out by removing Kojima Productions branding from Twitter and the Metal Gear website. For now, if he hasn’t left already, it’s believed that Kojima Productions will leave following Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain. It’ll be interesting to see where he goes, as well as what happens to the Metal Gear series.

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It’s been confirmed that Toys “R” Us won’t be renewing their lease for the well-known flagship store located in the heart of New York’s Times Square. TRU has been in the space since 2000, and they occupy 110,000 square feet. This is a sad development that shows the current state of the toy market. In fact, the brokers are convinced that they won’t be able to find a single tenant for the entire space, so it’ll end up being divided. It’s rumored that TRU might actually lease retail space at the nearby Marriott Marquis, but I’m not sure if they’re going to take the giant dinosaur and the Ferris wheel with them to the new location. The move should take place next February.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

-In the IDW Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic, one of the turtles was killed this week. Hint: It’s not the one who leads, the party dude, or the one who’s cool but rude.

-The series finale of Glee airs tonight. I’ve seen, like, no fanfare for this thing, so I wonder who even knows about it.

-a well known comic blogger was accused of cyberbullying a former comic editor, driving her to the point of PTSD. I’m not naming names ’cause at least one of them seems like to type to Google her name. Yeah, the blogger was a dick, and the editor never really seemed screwed on too tightly. That’s all I’m gonna say about that.

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-One of my tweets was used in an Essence.com recap of the Empire season finale.

-I joined the guys at Nerd Lunch to discuss TV series finales. The episode will go up Tuesday, and I’ll post a link in next week’s post.

-I’ve been obsessed with the ’60s group Jay and the Americans lately. Here’s their hit “Cara Mia”:

– The California Raisins are coming back in a live action/CG film

-President Obama might be buying the Magnum P.I. house

-Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s Ruth Negga has been cast as Tulip in AMC’s Preacher adaptation.

Links I Loved
Batgirl Variant Cover Glorifies Sexual Violence | #CancelTheCover – Reappropriate

MTV Spring Break Used To Rule – Deadspin

The 100 Sexiest Women on Television | 2015 Edition – UnderScoopFire

Ranking Marvel’s Superhero TV Movies – The Robot’s Pajamas

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Community is the little show that could. After 5 seasons on NBC, it seemed like all was lost. Then, Yahoo stepped in and picked the show up to be featured under the Yahoo Screen banner. Well, the first episodes hit the Internet this week, and it was good to see the gang again. It was also kind of jarring to realize how much they’ve lost over the years. Troy’s gone, Pierce is dead, and now Shirley’s gone to her own spinoff (it makes sense when you watch the episode).

Certain things didn’t work. For example, Abed didn’t seem like himself. It’s like he’s trying to be a new person, and he no longer seems interested in imagining that they’re all characters in a sitcom. Also, things didn’t really work on a technical level, either. You see, Yahoo Screen can be viewed via a browser, but it can also be used through an Android or iOS app. The Android app is pretty janky, as it was constantly buffering – sometimes for periods up to 5 minutes. I thought it might’ve been my connection doing it, but I’ve read that others had the same issues. So, with that going on, it took about an hour to watch a 27 minute episode.

Certain things did work, though. The writing is still there, and it definitely feels like Dan Harmon work and not the episodes from the “gas leak season” (the one during which Harmon was fired). I also enjoyed the addition of Paget Brewster, as I’ve loved her ever since Joey and Chandler were fighting over her on Friends. Her character, Frankie Dart, seems like she’s there to keep the show grounded, but it’ll be fun to watch her get sucked into the madness that surrounds Greendale.

The show’s joke was always #sixseasonsandamovie, and they just might pull it off. It nothing else, they might get another season on Yahoo Screen. Either way, I was glad to see it back, so Community had the West Week Ever.

27th Feb2015

West Week Ever – 2/27/15

by Will

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No, I’m not gonna talk about that dress…

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The week started off with me watching After Earth, starring the men of the Smith clan. I know the movie bombed in North America, and I’m not exactly a “Will Smith fan”, but I really enjoyed it. More than that, I enjoyed Jaden. I know we’re supposed to hate him, since he’s insufferable in real life, but he brought such intensity to his role. I guess there was supposed to be a message in there, that Man ruined the Earth, turning it into something designed only to kill humanity. That message, whether sadly or thankfully, got lost. If it was supposed to be a cautionary tale, it failed on that account, but as a survivalist thriller, I thought it succeeded. Their accents were somewhat off-putting, but I guess that’s somewhat to be expected with it set 1,000 years in the future. It was an M. Night movie, but luckily there wasn’t a crazy twist at the end. I don’t say this often, but I’d watch it again. I’d never seen a Jaden Smith movie before, but I think I might like his acting. What’s happening to me?!

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Next up, I finally watched Cloverfield. I’d been curious about it since it was in theaters, but it was never really “my kind of movie”. I don’t really do disaster movies, but I remember it had been shrouded in secrecy, and it was filmed in that “found footage” format. It was about what I expected it to be. I’m glad that the format eliminated the need to explain where the monster came from, or to even explain how/if it was defeated. It’s a shame we never got a sequel, as there are so many questions, but the format didn’t really allow for a sequel. If anything, it would have had to be the same night from a different point of view. I had no clue that TJ Miller was in that movie, but I was also surprised to see friend of a friend Ben Feldman in the film. Too bad his character probably died. Anyway, it was refreshing that the Black girl was the one to survive. At least I think she was Black. Maybe she was a halfy? Who cares. She lived. I didn’t hate it, but I don’t think I ever need to see it again.

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This week saw the season (?) finale of Marvel’s Agent Carter, and I’m surprised to say that I was sad to see it go. When they first announced the show, I thought it was a dumb idea. Nobody cares about Captain America’s stupid girlfriend. Then the show actually debuted, and I found myself drawn to that world. I came to enjoy it much more than I ever enjoyed Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,and I’d rather have 5 more seasons of Peggy Carter than stupid Skye/Daisy Johnson. As someone said on Twitter, Agent Carter did more with 8 episodes than S.H.I.E.L.D. has done with nearly 40. I know part of the problem is that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is so beholden to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, while Agent Carter can get away with more, being set in the ’40s and all. Anyway, I have to admit that I need to rewatch the finale, as I was a little distracted when it actually aired. From what I caught, I felt kinda like it wrapped up a little too quickly. I know they only had 8 episodes to work with, but the finale felt somewhat rushed. Again, I need to rewatch it, as maybe my opinion will change. Ratings were never really stellar, with an estimated 4 million households tuning in every week, but S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s ratings haven’t been great since the premiere, so they’re pretty much in the same boat. I think it’ll get a second season, but we probably won’t hear anything until May. According to rumors, the character is in Avengers: Age of Ultron, so it’s safe to say that we haven’t seen the last of Peggy Carter.

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Deadline is reporting that The CW is in the early stages of developing an Arrow/Flash team-up spinoff, starring recurring characters from both shows. Some folks online are saying that it’s essentially a Justice League TV show, but it doesn’t sound like that to me. If anything, it seems closer to the Brave and the Bold team-up concept. I’m glad to see that Brandon Routh’s Ray Palmer is joining the show, as I’ve come to like that character. They also announced that Caity Lotz, better known as Arrow‘s Sara Lance/Black Canary I, is involved, but it’s unknown if she’s playing the same character or a new one. This news is pretty surprising, as there had been rumors of that universe being expanded, but it was assumed that it would probably be an A.T.O.M. or Firestorm show down the road. I know that Flash is firing on all cylinders, but Arrow seems to have taken a bit of a turn in the “suspension of disbelief” department. I’m scared that they might be diluting the brand by rushing another show into development in that same universe – especially since CBS’s Supergirl is supposedly in the same universe, should they choose to cross them over. In Berlanti I trust, however, so I’ll just wait and see.

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Speaking of Supergirl, Calista Flockhart has been cast as Kara’s boss, Cat Grant. I’m not sure how I feel about this casting. If you’ve read Superman books recently, you know that Cat Grant is kinda of a cougary go-getter. If I had to cast the role, I probably would’ve gone with someone a little closer to Elizabeth Banks. Sure, she’s not at the point in her career where she has to do television, but that’s the age and look I would go for.

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DuckTales is coming back in 2017! Yeah, I guess this is good news, but I’d much rather have Darkwing Duck back. Anybody remember Quack Pack? It’s the follow-up to DuckTales where Huey, Dewey, and Louie were teens. Apparently, it was supposed to be an extension of Donald Duck shorts instead of DuckTales, which is why you never see Uncle Scrooge and other DuckTales characters. It seems like most people I know had checked out of The Disney Afternoon by the time that show came along.

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I’m almost ashamed to admit this, but I’ve become a fan of NBC’s The Slap. Sure, it’s got a dumb name, and seems built around a dumb premise, but it’s so much more than that. It really centers around a Greek-American family, and the drama that’s boiling beneath the surface in all of their lives. One character’s marriage is strained, and he’s falling for the teenage babysitter. Zachary Quinto plays a successful car broker, who has anger issues and is also cheating on his wife. Uma Thurman is a successful TV producer who’s dating a much younger man, and finds out that she’s pregnant by him. It all comes to a head one afternoon at a family party. A guest’s child is out of control, and when Quinto intervenes, the kid kicks him in the shin. As a reflex, Quinto slaps the kid in front of everyone. The kid’s parents go apeshit, and the party goes to hell quickly.

Here’s some backstory on the kid: Hugo’s 4 years old and he’s a little asshole. The whole party, he was throwing iPads and having tantrums. Meanwhile, his parents are hippies, and the mother still breastfeeds him (HE’S FOUR YEARS OLD!). He totally had something coming to him, but I guess it was up to his own parents to make that call. I’m completely fascinated by this, as it’s such a cultural thing. Had this been a Black cookout, the party would’ve kept going. When you employ the whole “It takes a village…” model of raising kids, you run the risk of someone else disciplining your child. It just comes with the territory. We live in a society now where people don’t want to raise a hand to their kids, but I just feel like this is the kind of show that could only really be dramatic at this time in history. Anyway, now the hippies are pressing charges against Quinto, Uma knows about Hector and the babysitter, and everyone’s life is in a spiral right now. It’s no Empire, but it’s still a really engaging show. If I had to compare it to something, I’d say it’s like an edgy Parenthood.

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I’m a sucker for gimmick sodas, and my latest drink of choice is Coca-Cola Life. For lack of a better description, it’s what I would call a “pairing soda”. On its own, it tastes kinda janky. However, if you drink it with a meal, the food enhances the flavor and makes it taste like Pepsi. I guess I could cut out the middle man and just drink Pepsi, but I’m just kind of intrigued by how it all goes down. Coca-Cola Life is sweetened with Stevia, so it has fewer calories than regular Coke, but is much more caloric than Diet Coke. A 20 oz bottle of Coke Classic will run you about 240 calories, while the same amount of Coke Life will run you about 160 calories. Pepsi has followed Coke’s lead, releasing its own Stevia-sweetened cola, Pepsi True. I haven’t tried it yet, but I’ve got a bottle in my refrigerator, so I’ll update in the future.

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I debated whether or not to talk about this, as I sometimes think I write too much about Power Rangers – especially since Power Rangers fans don’t really give a shit about my opinion. Still, it was on everyone’s timeline this week, so it bears mentioning. Producer Adi Shankar released Power/Rangers – a dark and gritty short film starring Katee Sackhoff and James Van Der Beek. This film had everything you never wanted from Power Rangers, including machine guns, threesomes, titties, and curse words.

The movie kicks off with the Rangers, suited up, fighting with machine guns. It turns out that Rocky (Red) sold out to the evil Machine Empire, and he’s interrogating Kimberly (Pink) to discover the whereabouts of Tommy, the Green Ranger. So, I’ve got some questions. First off, why Rocky? He was the replacement Red Ranger, yet there’s no mention of Adam and Aisha – the replacement Black and Yellow Rangers. It just seemed like a reach to make him the traitor. And the machine guns? The Rangers are essentially magic, so why bring man-made weapons into the mix? And I don’t even want to get into the social implications of Zack’s interracial threesome.

At the end of the day, it was clear that this was not a love letter from a longtime fan of the franchise. Most fans realized this, and many took to social media to state how displeased they were. Meanwhile, the laymen who do’t realize there have been multiple incarnations of the franchise for the past 21 years, seemed to like it. All the podcast hosts and members of the Power Force (yeah, such a thing exists. Don’t get me started…) decried “THIS IS SHIT!” while most “normal” people were like, “Huh, that was kinda cool.” All day Tuesday, headlines ranged from “You Won’t Believe This Piece of Shit!” to “The Power Rangers Get Gritty And It’s AWESOME!” Needless to say, it was a very polarizing video. On top of that, Saban Brands has been trying to get the video taken down, as it infringes upon their trademarks, and doesn’t classify as “parody”. So far, it has been taken down from Vimeo (that was the version with the titties), and now it’s gone from YouTube, too. I can understand that, based on the tone and language, it’s not the kind of thing that Saban wants out in the world representing his product. Now, the debate has gone from whether or not the video sucked to whether or not it deserved to be taken down by Saban. Those opinions are just as polarized as the opinions on the clip’s quality.

It was clearly a well-done fan film, with great special effects, but at the end of the day, it wasn’t Power Rangers. It was something else entirely, but it just didn’t work as Power Rangers. It demonstrated a lack of knowledge of the source material, as Power Rangers can be gritty without being….whatever that was. Power Rangers has gone dark before. Check out Power Rangers RPM – I recommend it to anyone who’ll listen to me. This, however, ain’t Power Rangers.

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This week saw the series finale of Parks & Recreation. After 7 seasons, and 125 episodes, Leslie Knope dined at JJ’s Diner for the last time. Or at least, I guess she did; JJ’s wasn’t even shown in the episode. Anyway, the episode featured flash forwards to give us a glimpse into the futures of the characters we had come to love. April and Andy had kids, Craig got married, Donna became a real estate mogul, Tom became a motivational author/speaker, Gary/Jerry/Larry/Terry Gergich enjoyed multiple terms as Pawnee’s mayor, and Ron became the head of the Pawnee National Park. Meanwhile, Ben became a Congressman and Leslie ran for Governor of Indiana. We even got a flash forward for fan favorite Jean-Ralphio, as he faked his own death.

The first half hour wasn’t really high on laughs, and went more for the heartstrings. I felt like I was watching the Six Feet Under finale all over again, and didn’t really like the experience. The second half hour, however, felt like classic Parks & Rec, and we even got cameos from Ann and Chris. I’m kinda sad they never even attempted to mention Mark Brendanawicz, but the show really wasn’t very good when he was around, so I can forgive the omission.

By no means was I some kind of Parks & Rec superfan, but I always enjoyed it when I watched it. Its ratings were never anything to write home about, but it was NBC’s “little comedy that could”. Though it was initially developed as a pseudo-spinoff of The Office, I feel like its legacy will be much stronger once history has its say. For one thing, Amy Poehler didn’t leave the show before the end of its run, so it had that going for it. Also, Parks & Rec just got stronger, as the cast gelled and became a well-oiled machine. NBC definitely doesn’t have anything else on its schedule like it, and it will be a long time before a show that good comes along again. So, for giving us 7 seasons of laughs, and for going out on top, Parks & Recreation had the West Week Ever.

20th Feb2015

West Week Ever – 2/20/15

by Will

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At the top of the week, I watched A.C.O.D., or Adult Children of Divorce. It stars Adam Scott as an adult whose parents divorced when he was young, though he’s still feeling the effects of it. His mother and father haven’t spoken in 20 years, but Scott tries to bring them together to celebrate his younger brother’s wedding. And, of course, nothing goes according to plan. The thing I loved about this movie is that Adam Scott is working with a ton of people he’s worked with before, so they already have proven chemistry. Richard Jenkins plays his dad, while he played his stepfather in Step Brothers. Amy Poehler plays his stepmother, while she plays his wife on Parks & Rec. Jane Lynch plays his therapist, while they worked together on Party Down. And Clark Duke plays his younger brother, and they worked together on the upcoming Hot Tub Time Machine 2. So, the movie is almost one big Adam Scott: This Is Your Life. In all, it’s a cute little movie, and a decent way to kill 90 minutes.

wet-hot-american-summer

I also caught the cult comedy classic Wet Hot American Summer. I’d seen parts of it before, but never the entire movie. There’s been renewed interest in the movie since Netflix just greenlit a prequel series. First off, who isn’t in this movie? While the movie’s from 2001, the cast is chock FULL of people who’d go on to bigger and better things. That said, I don’t really get the hype behind the movie beside its stellar cast. Sure, it had its moments, but it wasn’t as hilarious as I thought it was going to be. Right now, On Demand, it’s being marketed as “From the Producers of Role Models“, and I’ve got to say that Role Models had me rolling in the aisles. This movie? Not so much. I would watch it again, though, as I feel like it might be an acquired taste, and it seems like the kind of movie where you notice something different each time you watch it. For now, though, all it did was remind me of my crush on younger Janeane Garofalo.

TAAHM

Last night saw the series finale of Two and a Half Men. Say what you will about it, the show had an impressive run over 12 seasons and 262 episodes. Everyone thought the show was doomed when Charlie Sheen went crazy on tiger blood (#winning), but it managed to reinvent itself into something with a lot of heart. Ashton Kutcher’s Walden Schmidt was a welcome reprieve from Sheen’s lothario Charlie Harper. Where Sheen’s character was lecherous and without a conscience, Kutcher’s Schmidt was naive and optimistic. He wasn’t out to take advantage of people, but this also meant that he didn’t always realize when folks were taking advantage of him. Later in the run, the show lost its “half man”, as Angus T. Jones found God and decided that he no longer wanted to be a part of the show. The show circumvented this by adding Amber Tamblyn as Charlie’s long lost daughter. Every time something came along that could end the show, they found a way to keep it going. It still averages about 11 million viewers a week, and could probably last another 3 seasons, but it’s just time for it to end. I won’t go into the finale, but let’s say it’s meta and pokes fun at the fact that it knows it’s a TV show. To many, the quality of the episode comes down to whether or not Charlie Sheen returns one last time. I won’t spoil that for you, but I was very satisfied with the finale.

Power Rangers Imaginext

Last weekend was the New York Toy Fair, where all of the toy buyers gathered to see what would be the hot new items throughout the year. As you may remember, I attended the show last year, but couldn’t make the trip this time, due to my baby shower. From what I’ve read, it doesn’t look like I missed much, as something about this year’s offerings just seemed sort of lackluster to me. To me, the most surprising announcement is that Fisher Price will be adding Mighty Morphin Power Rangers to its Imaginext line. I didn’t really think that Bandai would allow something like that to happen, but it’s happening! For full coverage of the show, however, be sure to check out Awesome Toy Blog.

guardians.of_.the_.galaxy.cartoon

Announced some time ago, there’s a Guardians of the Galaxy cartoon coming to Disney XD. Well, this week, news started trickling out regarding the voice cast for the show. If you follow animated series, a lot of these names will sound familiar. For example, Kevin Michael Richardson will be voicing Groot. Outside of Phil Lamarr, Richardson is the workingest Black man in animation. Meanwhile, Boy Meets World‘s/Batman Beyond‘s Will Friedle will be voicing Star-Lord. I haven’t checked out any of the Disney XD Marvel series, but I might give this one a shot.

Links I Loved

Norm Macdonald tells the story of #SNL40 – Storify

Isn’t the internet big enough for more than one “Angry Asian”? – Reappropriate

SNL_season_40_title_card

This week also saw the celebration of Saturday Night Live‘s 40th season. Airing over the course of 3 and a half hours Sunday night, the special was a welcome look back on past sketches like Celebrity Jeopardy and Wayne’s World. A lot of the original sketches fell flat, as the Super Bass-o-Matic felt like a Leno-era Tonight Show skit, while I’ve never been a fan of The Californians. To me, the best parts of the night were the true retrospective parts, such as the montage of audition tapes from the likes of Kevin Hart and Zach Galifianakis. There were a few awkward parts of the night, such as the tribute for he’s-not-dead-yet Tracy Morgan (accompanied by a dreadful impression by Alec Baldwin). Also, there’s the debate of whether or not Eddie Murphy “freaked out” onstage. I don’t think Eddie has stage fright, but I do feel like he’s uncomfortable in public. And I kinda can’t blame him, as he’s had a lot of bad luck over the years, from the string of box office bombs to the male prostitute incident back in the 90s. Like Marshawn Lynch, he’s clearly a man who just doesn’t really have a great relationship with the media these days.

Spartans

Anyway, half the fun of the special was watching the crowd, as you never quite knew who you might see. There was even a rumor that *NSYNC would reunite, and I have no idea who started that one. Most of them, with the exception of JC Chasez, were in attendance, but it just wasn’t the venue for such a thing. I was more surprised by some of the SNL people from whom we got nothing, like Cheri Oteri. Say what you will, she was just as instrumental to the rebuilding era as Molly Shannon and Maya Rudolph. Sure, the other two have had stronger post-SNL careers, but I figured they could’ve given Oteri a line to say. Hell, even Ellen Cleghorne got a line!

SNL40 End

Anyway, I felt like there was too much emphasis on extremes – either the first season stuff or the recent stuff. A lot of the “in between” years got lost, especially the late 80s/early 90s bunch. In any case, SNL is an institution, and 40 years is an impressive feat. I’ve been wondering if we’ll get an SNL50, seeing as how Lorne is 70 but doesn’t really have a successor. That’s another 10 years, and it just might be too much to hope for. So, we have to appreciate what we do have, which is 40 years of something that has touched a lot of lives. That’s why Saturday Night Live had the West Week Ever.

As a “bonus track”, here’s a pic of the awesome cake from the baby shower:

2015-02-15 17.24.14

13th Feb2015

West Week Ever – 2/13/15

by Will

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the_purge

So, I decided to put a dent in my DVRed movies, so I checked out The Purge. If you’ve never seen it, it takes place in the year 2022 on Purge Night – a government sanctioned night where all crime is legal. Wanna kill your boss? Done. What to get revenge on your neighbor for his barking dog? Done. Due to the annual purge, the crime rate has gone down considerably, and it is believed that the purge cleanses one’s soul of violent urges. In the movie, Ethan Hawke is a rich guy who’s made his fortune selling purge night security systems to the rest of the houses in his neighborhood. Then, the purge starts and his stupid, stupid kid decides to provide sanctuary to a stranger who’s trying to gain shelter in the neighborhood. And then all Hell breaks loose. I had a lot of thoughts about this movie. First of all, it made me scared to be a husband/father, as it’s his job to protect the family in a situation like this. I would’ve been USELESS. Did I mention that all crime is legal?! I don’t wanna die! Anyway, it really got me to thinking about what I’d do if Purge Night were an actual thing. I think I’d just hole up somewhere and wait til it passed. Knowing me, though, I’d probably get killed. Anyway, now I need to see the sequel, The Purge: Anarchy.

BW1312.CR2

Next up, I watched Jason Bateman in Bad Words. Basically, Bateman plays a 40 year old man who exploits loopholes to participate in children’s spelling bees. Why does he do it? Well, you’ve got to watch the movie to find that out. Meanwhile, he befriends a 10 year old boy who also happens to be one of his competitors. That may sound heartfelt, but it’s not. Bateman’s character is foul-mouthed, and calls the kid – who’s Indian – stuff like “Slumdog”. Directed by Bateman, it’s a small movie with big moments. It definitely has some funny scenes, but it could’ve been stronger. If you’re a Bateman fan, however, it’s worth checking out as his character is a departure from the level-headed straight man that he usually plays.

dredd

I read that Dredd was leaving Netflix this month, so I figured I should watch it while I had the chance. And I LOVED it. I’ve never been a fan of the Dredd comics because they always seemed so…British. It’s funny because I actually worked with Rebellion when I worked at Diamond, but I never read anything they put out. That said, I was really impressed by the movie, as it made me want to know more about that world. I loved the effects, and it has some good action. Plus, it was the second movie I watched that night starring Lena Heady as someone trapped in a building (see The Purge). I know that Vincent over at The Robot’s Pajamas has been raving about this movie for a long time, and now I see why. It definitely deserves that sequel that everyone’s been requesting.

gravity_JM

I don’t get into it much, but I hate space. Not so much that I wanna defund NASA, but where most people see wonder and possibility, I see cold loneliness and death. I think my hatred of space came from X-Men comics because they used space travel as a cop out a lot of the time. When things would get too crazy on Earth, they’d take to the stars and get into it with the Starjammers and the Shi’ar. By the time they got back to Earth, all the drama they’d left behind had somehow righted itself (see Operation: Zero Tolerance). Anyway, Gravity reminded me of all the non-comic reasons I hate space. My God, is it terrible up there! Beautiful, but terrifying. And this movie captures all of the good and the bad of space, from the beauty of a sunrise to the fear of running out of oxygen. If you don’t know what’s it’s about, Sandra Bullock and George Clooney find themselves in the middle of a debris storm during a space walk. And then they have to survive. I won’t say anything else, but SO much goes wrong, that you’re left wondering what could possibly go wrong next. The suspense is strong with this one. I don’t feel like I need to own it, or really ever see it again, but I enjoyed it for what it was.

spider-man-mcu

The big news of the week was that Marvel and Sony would be partnering on the next Spider-Man movie, and this would also allow the new Spider-Man to debut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And fans went crazy! Tons of blog posts and memes heralded “Welcome Home Spidey”, and fan speculation ran wild. Would he appear in Captain America: Civil War? After all, he’s set to debut in a 2017 Marvel movie, and then debut in his own movie on July 28, 2018. Would he be part of Avengers: The Infinity War? What does this mean for the Sinister Six film (it’s been put on hold)? Some related news that didn’t get as much attention was that Marvel shifted the release dates for half of their Phase 3 films, including moving the release date for Black Panther from 2017 to 2018. Anyway, then the speculation took a turn, as some folks started saying that it’s time for a Black Spidey, reigniting the “Donald Glover for Spider-Man!” campaign. Then, folks took it one step further and said that the next cinematic Spidey should be current star of Ultimate Spider-Man, Miles Morales. I don’t know about all this. I like Glover, but they say the studio’s skewing younger, which is fine with me. I LOVE Miles, but I don’t see it happening. I feel like the Peter Parker name recognition is too important to the man on the street. In fact, I feel like there’s a better chance of a Black Peter Parker than there is of Miles Morales being the big screen Spider-Man. They might throw us a bone, and have Miles join the movies as a friend of Peter, and maybe set things up for a potential Phase 4/5 Miles Becomes Spidey movie, but I’m not holding my breath, especially since some announcements have already said that they’re going with Peter Parker. Plus, the thing to remember is that Sony retains final say in everything, so they could still mess things up.

Ground Floor Smashbox Studios, Hollywood, CA

According to multiple reports, TBS has cancelled Ground Floor, which makes me a sad Will. I really loved that show, and I know its stars will move on to bigger and better things. Everyone already knows Skylar Astin from the Pitch Perfect movies, while I think Briga Heelan has the potential to be a very big deal. Anyway, considering it only had 10-episode seasons, it would’ve had to be on the air for many many years in order to qualify for syndication. The ratings just weren’t high enough to sustain it (though they were higher than Cougar Town, which is in its final season). Still, I wish it could’ve gotten a third season, like other TBS sitcoms Men At Work and Sullivan & Son. A moment of silence for another fallen sitcom.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

-Netflix accidentally released season 3 of House of Cards 2 weeks early. The episodes were taken down within 30 minutes.

-Jon Stewart announced that he’s leaving The Daily Show by the end of the year

-CBS was billing this Sunday’s episode of CSI as a series finale, ending the series after 15 seasons. CBS later recanted, saying that the episode is merely a season finale, but current ratings insist otherwise.

-The Best Backstreet Boys Songs You’ve Probably Never Heard

 

brian williams

You know someone who did NOT have the West Week Ever? Brian Williams, Man, that’s a shitty situation. If you’re not in the know, NBC Nightly News anchor/father of Marnie from Girls, Brian Williams has been suspended for 6 months without pay, due to the fact that he lied about being in a helicopter that came under fire in Iraq. NBC News launched an investigation, citing reason to believe that he may have lied about other stories, as well. Many are saying that this is really just an exit strategy, and that Williams will not return to NBC airwaves. It’s a shame that it came to this, but other news careers have been ruined for less. Anyone remember Dan Rather? In any case, I’m surprised that it took this long for Williams to fall. I mean, he’s always come off as a likeable guy, but he always seemed too…accessible to me. He was always game for a good time, and I don’t know if that’s what the viewing public wants from their news. He’d do stuff like Slow Jam The News which, while funny, blurred the line between news and entertainment. Of course, that segment was always meant to be pure entertainment, but I think the audience developed a stronger relationship with him because he was so relatable – making his transgressions that much more of a “betrayal” of that trust. We live in a different time than the Walter Cronkite era, but it’s clearly a problem when newscasters become the news. I really hope he lands on his feet, as I like the guy. It’s just a shame this all had to happen like it did.

That’s right – nothing had The West Week Ever. Try harder next week, America!

30th Jan2015

West Week Ever – 1/30/15

by Will

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kinane

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.

donald glover

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…

bojack

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!

girls1

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.

ghostbusters-cast

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.

ff trailer

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.

23rd Jan2015

West Week Ever – 1/23/15

by Will

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pripyat-today-03

The week started out with me watching The Chernobyl Diaries, which was a departure for me because I’m not really into horror movies. I am, however, into most things Russian, and I’m fascinated by the abandoned city of Pripyat. If you’re not familiar with the whole Chernobyl incident, Pripyat was the city where the Chernobyl workers lived with their families. It’s just tons of apartment buildings and an amusement park. When the Chernobyl reactor blew, everyone had to evacuate immediately, without being able to gather most of their belongings. So, now Pripyat is a ghost town, where nature has reclaimed most of the land, and it just looks like everyone got raptured. It’s beautiful and eerie all at once.

chernobyl-diaries

So, The Chernobyl Diaries was about a bunch of Americans on a European vacation who decide to take a side trip to explore Pripyat. Once they get there, however, their van is sabotaged, and they’re forced to try to survive in what is partially a nuclear wasteland. Spoiler Alert: they all die. What happens to them doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, and I’m still kinda confused after having watched it 1.5 times (it aired again the next morning, and I caught the ending of it).I also don’t get why it has diaries in the title. There was nothing concerning a diary in the entire thing. This isn’t Anne Frank we’re talking about here. Where’s the damn diary?! Since I’m not a connoisseur of the horror genre, I can’t say whether or not I recommend it. Overall, was it a good movie? Not really.

maron2

I also started watching season 2 of Maron, now that it’s on Netflix. I’ve said it before, but I prefer Maron to Louie. I can relate to Marc Maron a lot more. He’s bitter, damaged, and he’s going through the whole “Why are my peers doing better than me?” thing. Sure, that doesn’t paint me in the best light, but I can understand where he’s coming from. He tackles things that speak to me, like how hard it is to make friends as an adult. There’s an episode where he thinks Ray Romano is becoming his friend, when Ray is really just making Marc his bitch. It’s funny and poignant at the same time. A lot of folks are fans of Maron’s podcast, but I’m not sure if they’ve all checked out his show. It’s a great chance to get a glimpse of the man behind the mic.

untitled-1

In the world of television, it was announced that CBS has cast Melissa Benoist as their Supergirl. I can’t remember if this was ordered direct to series or if this is only for a pilot. In any case, it’s by Greg Berlanti, and the rumor is that his deal to produce the show was that it had to take place in the Arrow/Flash universe. People forget that CBS owns The CW, so it’s definitely doable, although CBS brass have said that a crossover wouldn’t happen too early in the show, as they want Supergirl to stand on her own two feet for a while. I know nothing about Benoist, since I still haven’t seen Whiplash and I dropped Glee years ago, so I have no real opinion on the casting. I’m not the biggest Supergirl fan, but in Berlanti I trust, so I’ll check it out.

milestone-poster

It was announced this week that Milestone Media would be returning to the world of comics. If you’re black, you’ll remember this as the comic company that gave us Hardware, Icon, Rocket and more. If you’re white, then you’ll know it as the company that gave us Static Shock. Yeah, 20 years later, and its only real legacy is Static Shock. I’m kinda conflicted by this news. On the one had, comics could use some diversity, and Milestone had the best shot at injecting that into the industry. However, as someone who has almost every issue of Hardware, I didn’t think they were that good. Maybe they were ahead of their time, and I just wasn’t the right age to be reading them, but Milestone books were just a little too ghetto for me. And I don’t say that because they were black. I say that because they were set in Dakota City, which just seemed like a dark, dank ghetto. There was no joy to the books. They fully encapsulated the EXTREME edge of 90s comics, and just added some color to the mix. That’s not really something I’m looking for in my comics today. The characters made an appearance in DC Comics a few years ago, and it’s not like they really set the night on fire over there. So, I’m not quite sure why this announcement came this week. According to the Washington Post article heralding its return, the creators only promise that the comics will be available both physically and virtually, but they didn’t announce a publishing plan, and they only hope to have some promo art ready by San Diego Comic Con. Right now, it just seems like they put the cart before the horse by announcing this now. I guess time will tell whether or not this was a good idea.

MarvelSecretWars

Speaking of comics, Marvel announced this week that this summer’s Secret Wars will essentially reshape their comic universe going forward. Ripped from the pages of Avengers and New Avengers, the Marvel Universe (616) and the Ultimate Marvel Universe (1616) will smash into each other, and the chips will fall where they may. As Editor In Chief Axel Alonzo stated, it’s like a pizza where some toppings will combine, while other toppings will fall off. the aftermath of the event will be the Marvel Universe going forward. I have so many thoughts on this, and it’d probably be easier to say than write, but this is the medium I have at my disposal, so let’s see how it goes.

What It Means for 616: This is a big deal for the mainstream Marvel Universe, as it serves as the first time that they’ve really embraced a universe-spanning reboot. Sure, DC Comics does this every 10 years through their Crises, but Marvel has pretty much managed to avoid having to do this by employing a loose, sliding timeline. Over 50 years of continuity were somehow crammed into a timeline of about 11 years as far as the characters were concerned. They’re essentially wiping this out for this new future. What’s odd to me, however, is that they’ve gone to great lengths to make the comics more like the movies. They introduced Agent Coulson to the comics, and they halfassedly created a black Nick Fury so that he’d be familiar to moviegoers. Now, they say that their goal ISN’T to make the movie and comic universes one and the same, but their actions say otherwise. So, why do all that only to just blow it all up now? Also, Marvel just did a whole diversity push with Falcon becoming Captain America and the debut of “She-Thor”. What happens to them? This also means that Marvel gets out of the corner it painted itself into in several instances. There’s no need to bring Wolverine back from the dead, because nothing matters anymore. There’s no need to return Steve Rogers to a younger age, because nothing matters anymore.

What it Means for 1616: This sounds like the death knell for the Ultimate Marvel Universe, which makes me sad. Created in 2000 as a newer, hipper take on the Marvel Universe, Ultimate Marvel reimagined classic heroes in modern settings. It was as if the Marvel Universe had started in the ’00s instead of the ’60s. I enjoyed the concept because, to me, it was like what it must have felt like to have been a fan in the 60s. The beginning of the line was full of excitement, as architects like Mark Millar and Brian Michael Bendis introduced us to modern takes on classic ideas. Spider-Man became Ultimate Spider-Man, a critically acclaimed, all-ages take on Spider-Man as a teenager. Avengers became The Ultimates, a widescreen Hollywood blockbuster of a book focusing on new versions of Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, and The Hulk. I became a dedicated fan of the Ultimate U, and I have a full run of every book that’s been released. It’s fair to say that the Ultimate Universe is near and dear to my heart. So, it saddens me to see what has become of the universe in recent years. Unlike in most comic universes, in the Ultimate Marvel universe, dead means DEAD. So, as they killed off known heroes, they never really did much to fill that void. As my friend, Jenn, said, recent Ultimate Marvel has simply been Spider-Man standing amid the littered corpses of reimagined X-Men. There’s only one jewel in the crown of the Ultimate Universe at the moment, and that’s the current Spider-Man, Miles Morales. I’ve written about him at length before, so I won’t get into all of that here. Let’s just say that Miles is one of my favorite characters in recent history. And it’s safe to say that he’s really the only thing left in the Ultimate Universe worth saving. So, I’m sure he’ll survive the event, but at what cost? What happens to his supporting cast, like best friend Ganke, or even his dad?

Anyway, Marvel tends to get West Week Ever quite often, but that’s usually for something that the movie division has done. The comic side of Marvel is constantly coming up with event after event – all promising to CHANGE THE MARVEL UNIVERSE FOREVER!!!! This is the first time, however, that I feel they may actually mean it. So, for that, Marvel Comics Secret Wars had the West Week Ever.

09th Jan2015

West Week Ever – 1/9/15

by Will

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Welcome to 2015! I hope, by now, you’ve all had a chance to read West YEAR Ever. If not, you can do it now. I’ll wait. Good? Cool. So, I had a stomach virus for most of last week, so I spent my time on the couch, watching DVR and Redbox. So, that brings us a movie-heavy WWE this week.

obvious child

I’ve been a fan of Jenny Slate ever since she accidentally said “Fucking” during a live SNL broadcast. So, I’ve especially loved whenever she popped up on shows like Parks & Rec and Married. When I heard about Obvious Child, I knew I’d never see it in theaters, but would pick it up on Redbox – which is exactly what I did. Plainly put, it’s an unlikely love story centered around an abortion. Slate’s character ends up pregnant from a one night stand, and immediately decides to have an abortion. The movie follows her as she shares her decision with the people around her, while also getting to know the father of the child. I highly recommend it, and one of the bonus features is the original Obvious Child short film from 2009, so it’s interesting to see how a 30 minute short was fleshed out into a feature-length film.

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Edge Of Tomorrow/Live. Die. Repeat. really wasn’t what I’d call “my type” of movie, which is why it surprised me that I really enjoyed it. If you haven’t seen it, it’s Groundhog Day meets Starship Troopers. Tom Cruise plays a communications officer who finds himself on the front lines of a war against alien invaders. Due to ingesting the blood of one of the aliens, he finds that every time he’s killed, the day resets to right before he’s placed in his unit. Cruise may be crazier than a shithouse rat, but he’s really hard to dislike. He’s great in the role, and Emily Blunt is a surprising action hero. If the talks of her becoming Captain Marvel are serious, I’m certainly on board, as they could do a lot worse. The thing I found funny about the movie is that the invasion seemed like a European problem. Sure, the invaders would probably eventually make it to America, but part of me was like, “Why are we in this war again?”

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Wish I Was Here is an interesting little film. Did you see Garden State? If yes, then you’ve basically seen Wish I Was Here. Zach Braff only seems to know how to write one type of movie. They’re not exactly “coming of age” tales, but it’d be more appropriate to call them “failing into adulthood” movies. They focus on that unrest that precedes quarterlife/midlife crises, and that feeling of “There’s got to be something more”. This movie was somewhat controversial because Braff sought out Kickstarter to get financing for the film. A lot of people felt that Kickstarter is for the up and coming creator, and not an established writer/director like Braff. At its core, the movie is about Braff as he tries to get some meaning out of life as his father dies from cancer. Yeah, it’s bit of a downer, though it does have its bright moments. As much as it was fan service, my favorite scene was probably the Guy Love reunion of Braff and Donald Faison. There are several outtakes on the disc of just this scene, which shows that those guys still have great chemistry all these years since Scrubs.

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The Incredible Burt Wonderstone was actually a decent movie. Steve Carrell and Steve Buscemi play a magician team whose act grows stale once a new, radical street magician (Jim Carrey) hits the scene. That’s pretty much it. Olivia Wilde plays their assistant. There aren’t any twists or turns, and it’s a pretty straight-forward riches-to-rags-to-riches story.

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Non-Stop, or as I like to call it “Taken To The Skies”. Seriously, one day, when you find that 4-movie Liam Neeson collection in Target, this is the movie that’ll be in the #4 slot, along with the other 3 Taken movies. He’s basically playing the same guy, only now he’s on a plane. The interesting thing about this movie is that the cast is wasted on the material. You’ve got Julianne Moore, Lupita Nyong’o and Lady Mary from Downton Abbey.  Apparently, it was filmed in 2012, but didn’t come out until last year, so they were just waiting for the supporting cast  to have a bit more heat on them before releasing it. At its core, it’s a message about how “safety” in the post-9/11 world is just an illusion, but it’s a pretty clunky delivery method for that message.

skeleton twins

The Skeleton Twins was not what I expected at all. If you told me that Kristin Wiig and Bill Hader were doing a movie together, I would’ve told you it would be a guaranteed laugh riot. And I would’ve been wrong. God, this was a dark movie. It basically begins and ends with a suicide attempt, so that should let you know what you’re getting into. Hader goes through a breakup with his boyfriend, so after an unsuccessful suicide attempt, he goes to stay with his sister (Wiig), who’s struggling with issues of her own. The movie does have some funny moments, like the “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” singalong, but it’s a dramedy with full emphasis on the drama.

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it, either. I don’t hold any of the TMNT movies in that high of regard, so it pretty much held its own with the rest of them. That said, I did have some issues with the cultural misappropriation. In the past, the turtles were just teenagers, but something about them this go-round made them seem more like minority teenagers. They were either Black or Puerto Rican, but there was some ethnic stuff in there that hadn’t been a component of turtles past. Look at the bandanas, which hang more like du-rags, or the sagging pants on Mikey. Something about that just kinda bothered me. Also, as dumb as Splinter’s origin seemed in the original movie (kung-fu rat who mutated), it seemed even dumber in this version (mutated rat who teaches himself martial arts from a book he found in the sewer). I also didn’t really buy Megan Fox as April. I feel like she really tried her best, bless her heart, but that wasn’t good enough. I get that it’s a movie for kids, but I feel like even a smart kid could pick out the plot holes in the movie. For example, why does Sacks have a ton of deadly chemicals in the spire of his building BEFORE he even knows there’s a cure out there in the form of the mutagen. After all, he thought the mutagen was lost, so why would he create this doomsday device without the antidote?

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Man of Steel is certainly a movie. A joyless hunk of a movie. I’ve never been much of a Superman fan, but it’s amazing to contrast this with the Christopher Reeve movies. He brought such wonder to the role. You wanted to be Superman. I don’t wanna be Henry Cavill’s Superman. That dude’s just built and sad. Who do you think gets the FEMA money first? Metropolis or Smallville? Those were the kinds of questions I was asking myself during the fights. And, seeing as how the Snyder/Nolan DC films take themselves so seriously, are we still supposed to believe that humans are dumb enough to be fooled by a pair of glasses? I get that these movies are about suspension of disbelief, but that’s not how this was filmed. This seemed to want to be a realistic take of “What would happen if we found an alien amongst us?” I thought that the movie was going to give up the identity of Clark Kent, and I felt that was a bold direction in which to take the character. This Superman would just be Superman all the time. Then, they went and made him a reporter at the end, which is just an insult to the intelligence of everyone involved.

MillionWays

A Million Ways to Die In The West was much better than I’d been led to believe. I’m pretty much a Seth MacFarlane disciple, so he can do very little wrong as far as I’m concerned. I’m still willing to call him out when there’s a misstep (like this year’s Christmas episode of Family Guy), but I’m typically a booster of everything that he does. The movie bombed in theaters, so I figured it had to be bad if his other fans didn’t support it. That wasn’t the case, though. I think the idea of a comedic western is just polarizing to a lot of people. In some circles, Blazing Saddles is the gold standard of that genre, and can’t be touched. I’m gonna say something that might be blasphemous to some, but I never really found Blazing Saddles all that funny. Sorry, but I didn’t. I’m not a fan of the west (ironic, I know), so I can understand others not jumping at the chance to watch this movie. Having seen it, however, I LOVED it.

What else happened this week? Oh yeah, someone went into my car and stole some stuff that I was planning to donate. I can’t say they “broke” in, as I had left it unlocked, but I was in my mom’s driveway, so I figured it was safe. I got back in the car several hours later, and noticed the donation bag gone. And I think they stole my GPS (I’m not sure, and it was almost obsolete anyway). In any case, I hope they’re happy with their dictionary of real estate terms and some Harley Davidson puzzles.

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The was an Ant-Man teaser released this week. It was kinda meh. If you want a good scene-by-scene takedown, check out this post from my pals over at The Robot’s Pajamas.

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I’ve been looking forward to Galavant ever since I wrote my ABC fall preview post. Now that it has actually aired, I’m not quite sure where I stand with it. I finally watched the two-episode premiere the other night, and while I enjoyed it, I have to agree with some critics that the pacing somewhat hurts it. Whose idea was it to make this a 30-minute show? And to air it in one-hour blocks? Lately, networks have embraced the “burn-off” technique of airing shows (NBC with Parks & Rec, for example), but it really is to the detriment of the show itself. It’s almost like a vote of no confidence, and it’s the network saying “We paid for this, so we might as well air it.” I was a musical theatre kid, so I love the musical aspect of the show. Still, I found myself unable to fully pay attention to everything going on. Knowing it’s only a 4-week “event” is good because it shows that it will actually have an ending, but it almost makes me want to wait and watch it all once it’s over. It just doesn’t feel like the kind of thing I’ll watch in real-time, and I feel no obligation to try to “save” it since the season’s already been shot. It’d be great if it could get a second season, but I never had high expectations for the show. I was excited for it, but I knew it’d be a long shot. If it doesn’t do well, ABC can just spin it as “Hey, it was just a special event, and was never meant to be a regular series.”

I’m probably the last person to know about this, but I found it hilarious. My pal Keith showed it to me on New Years, and made me promise to mention it this week. In any case, I’m really impressed by all the artistry that went into making this. I can’t really say much more about it, so just watch:

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

– USA canceled Covert Affairs after 5 seasons

-John Travolta was cast as Robert Shapiro in FX’s OJ biopic American Crime Story

-Marvel’s Daredevil series will debut on Netflix on 4/10/15

-It was announced that the X-Men spinoff Gambit will be released on 10/7/16 – giving us 3 X-Men movies in one year.

-Neil deGrasse Tyson is getting his own weekly talk show, called Star Talk, on Nat Geo. Yay.

-Bob’s Burgers was renewed for season 6

agent carter

The week belonged to Agent Carter. Spinning off of the successful Captain America: The First Avenger, Agent Carter follows SSR Agent Peggy Carter as she battles nefarious foes in post-WWII America. While she could’ve gone down in the annals of movie history as simply “Captain America’s girlfriend”, Agent Carter found a way to make her a strong character in her own right. Every review I read gushed over how it was this bold step for women. I don’t know if I’d go that far. It was better than Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., so it’s got that going for it. Personally, I don’t like the Agent Carter character. She’s kind of a bitch, without a sympathetic side. Sure, she’s doing the whole “People who get close to me get hurt” thing, but there’s really no evidence of that so far (well, except for her dead roommate). Still, the episode did rather well, and it accomplished its goal of keeping the audience excited about the Marvel Cinematic Universe. So, for all of that, Agent Carter had the West Week Ever.

07th Jan2015

West YEAR Ever – 2014

by Will

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The time has come to say goodbye to another year, and boy was 2014 a doozy! They say that every day is a blessing, but that was hard to agree with some days last year. It seems like it was rough for a lot of people, and it didn’t help that we had to deal with things like hacks and the word “bae”. In any case, this is where we take a look back and see what kind of year I had as I was bringing you the best in pop culture entertainment. Well, that was the goal, at least. Anyway, let’s get started, shall we?

Milestones of 2014

Saga

I finally gave in to Brian K. Vaughan’s Saga

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Mister Mister squared off against Boy Meets Girl in audio combat

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I was linked by NPR’s Code Switch blog

I met @smurfwreck & @shezcrafti at a toy show

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I discovered that the Quokka exists

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I reviewed Superman: Earth One Volume 2

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I had some thoughts on some comics

I had a Twitter dialogue with the Toy Hunter

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I went to Toy Fair and finally met @MattGuzy, @T16skyhopp, @Preternia_, and @Tekcorps in the flesh!

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I went to Walt Disney World for the first time!

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I dissected the problems with the How I Met Your Mother series finale

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I reviewed the classic Nick Fury Vs. S.H.I.E.L.D.

There was a Free Comic Book Edition of Thrift Justice

I previewed the upcoming fall shows from Fox, ABC, NBC, and CBS

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I examined what made The Cleveland Show special

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I discussed FX’s new comedies Married and You’re The Worst, and got a tweet favorited by co-star Aya Cash.

The cast of Power Rangers Super Megaforce said my name! It’s recorded!

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Special Forces got his own spinoff installment of Thrift Justice!

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I rebooted Three’s Company!


We said goodbye to Jimi Jamison, former lead singer of Survivor

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I made my annual trip to the Baltimore Comic-Con

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I discovered Nymphomaniac and Bojack Horseman

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Special Forces and I made the trip to Wizard World Richmond and I met Tommy, The Green Ranger!

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I did the Warrior Dash in Connecticut

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I finally met @Classickmateria and we (including Special Forces) met up with @LamarRevenger at Retrocon

Lindsay and I celebrated our second anniversary!

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I found out I’m gonna be a daddy!

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I made my return to the New York Comic-Con, where I met up with @Tekcorps and finally met @BionicBigfoot

I was invited to participate in my pal Dex’s Halloween Countdown, over at AEIOU…And Sometimes Why.

I hit post #900 on version 2.0 of the site!

2014 Hidden Tracks

While I tend to talk about everything on the site, there are a few things that happened during 2014 that I never got around to blogging about. First of all, I had my first paid writing gig, which was printed in Bleeding Cool Magazine. I interviewed the creative team behind Boom! Studios’ Hexed ongoing series. Seeing as how almost no comic shops carry Bleeding Cool (and the interview wasn’t published on the website), I have yet to actually see it, but I still got paid, so there’s that.

Near the end of the year, I found myself on TMZ Live, talking about Nicki Minaj’s ass. It all started when I replied to one of TMZ host Harvey Levin’s tweets. The next thing I knew, the TMZ account was asking me if I wanted to be a part of that day’s TMZ Live broadcast. I was getting off work early, so I figured “Why not?” They called me up, and had me talk about Nicki’s ex-boyfriend. Apparently, he’s been having suicidal thoughts since she broke up with him. My response basically boiled down to “Can you blame him? Have you seen dat ass?” I made Harvey laugh. And then they didn’t use the recording. Womp womp.

West Week Ever Recipients of 2014

1/10/14 – Sasheer Zamata

1/17/14 – Michael Douglas

1/24/14 – Richard Sherman

1/31/14 – Ryan Lewis

2/7/14 – Facebook

2/14/14 – Michael Sam

2/21/14 – Chris Pratt

2/28/14 – Jimmy Fallon

3/7/14 – Lupita Nyong’o

3/14/14 – Walt Disney World

3/21/14 – N/A

3/28/14 – Psych

4/4/14 – How I Met Your Mother

4/11/14 – Stephen Colbert

4/25/14 – Lupita Nyong’o

5/2/14 – John Boyega

5/9/14 – Now That’s What I Call Music

5/16/14 – Superman vs. Batman Batsuit

5/23/14 – Michael Jackson

5/30/14 – Charlie Cox

6/6/14 – Ghostbusters

6/20/14 – The Cold Slither Podcast

6/27/14 – Batman (1989)

7/3/14 – Community

7/11/14 – Garth Brooks

7/18/14 – Marvel

7/25/14 – SDCC 2014

8/1/14 – @MattGuzy

8/8/14 – Guardians of the Galaxy

8/22/14 – Taylor Swift

8/29/14 – Full House

9/5/14 – 14 Year Old Boys

9/12/14 – TMZ

9/19/14 – Alex Trebek’s mustache

9/26/14 – Forever

10/3/14 – “The Simpsons Guy”

10/10/14 – The Flash

10/17/14 – Arrow

10/24/14 – Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer

10/31/14 – Marvel Studios

11/7/14 – Taylor Swift

11/21/14 – Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B

12/5/14 – The Flash/Arrow Teamup

12/12/14 – Girl Meets World

12/19/14 – Ascension

12/29/14 – James Lamb and Jenn Fang

Totaling things up, we have a five-way tie, as Lupita Nyong’o, Taylor Swift, Marvel, Flash, and Arrow each won 2 weeks out of the year. Lupita doesn’t clench West Year Ever, as most of her impact came in the beginning of the year. The Flash doesn’t get it because, while it’s a great series, its second West Week Ever win was the result of a teamup between it and Arrow. The same goes for Arrow itself. So, that brings us to Taylor Swift vs. Marvel. Technically, Marvel Comics won one week, while Marvel Studios won another, and they’re not really the same thing. So, that leaves us with Taylor Swift.

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Taylor Swift’s 1989 was arguably the best pop album of 2014. Really a Robyn album in disguise, the synth-heavy 80s-inspired offering picked up the ball from Miley’s 2013 Bangerz and ran with it. It was a milestone for Taylor, as it officially marked her transition from country to the mainstream. She also rocked the industry model, when she took all of her albums off of Spotify. Everyone thinks that streaming is the future, but Taylor is one of the biggest artists to simply state that the model didn’t work for her. In October, she became New York City’s newest ambassador – due in part to her track “Welcome to New York” from the album. 2014 was the year that the ladies took back pop music from the guys, and Taylor led the charge. When everything’s said and done, nobody had a 2014 quite like Taylor Swift, and that’s why she had the West Year Ever.

2014 was also the second full year of West Week Ever, and I couldn’t do it without you, the readers. Thanks for all your support and I hope you’ll stay with me into 2015!

29th Dec2014

West Week Ever – 12/29/14

by Will

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My birthday was pretty low-key last Tuesday, as most of my family members were under the weather. So, I spent the night clearing off the DVR. What did I watch? Well, I’m glad you asked! First up was Ride Along, starring Ice Cube and Kevin Hart. I’d love to travel back to the 90s and tell Ice Cube that his future is filled with cop roles. He’d probably shoot himself, unraveling time and space as we know it! Anyway, Kevin Hart gets accepted into the police academy, and to prove himself to his girlfriend’s cop brother (Ice Cube), he goes on a ride along. And hilarity ensues. Or does it? I enjoyed the movie because I love Kevin Hart, but it’s formulaic as Hell. Unless you’re a Hart fan, just skip it because you already know exactly how it’s gonna play out. There are no “Shyamalanian” twists or anything. It’s got some high speed chases, but felt like something directed by McG. Decent way to pass some time, but it’s not worth owning or anything.

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Next up, I watched Walk of Shame, starring Elizabeth Banks. This movie was released directly to Video On Demand at the same time as its theatrical release. That should tell you all you need to know. Actually, the dual release probably helped it, as it was only released in 51 theaters and made a paltry $38,000 on a $15 million budget. Banks stars as TV reporter Meghan Miles who’s dying to get a network anchor job. Her opportunity arises, but she may lose it due to one very bad day following a one night stand. If you’ve ever seen the Michael Douglas movie Falling Down, think of this as a comedic version of that same template. A whole bunch of shit happens to Banks, while she runs around in a tight yellow dress. If that sounds like something you’d like, then this movie’s for you. Like Ride Along, however, this movie was SO formulaic. You haven’t even seen it, but you probably know how it’s going to end. So, come for the humor, stay for the tiny yellow dress. It’ll be worth a watch once it comes to FX, but you definitely shouldn’t go to any trouble to watch it or anything.

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Finally, I watched R.I.P.D. This movie wants to be Men In Black so bad, but I don’t have a problem with that. I actually really enjoyed it and it’s a shame it bombed, as I’d be down for a R.I.P.D. franchise. Poor Ryan Reynolds can’t catch a break, as I’m sure he thought this would be a success when he heard that Jeff Bridges was in the cast. He certainly needed a win after the failure of Green Lantern. Sadly, the box office didn’t feel the same way. Reynolds plays a pseudo-dirty cop who’s killed by his partner. Once dead, he’s recruited into the Rest In Peace Department, and learns that there’s a whole supernatural world outside of the world that he knew. The R.I.P.D. is tasked with apprehending “deadoes” – evil souls that fell through the cracks of judgement. Teamed up with Western lawman Bridges, Reynolds vows to stop his former partner before he initiates a ritual that will return the dead to the Earth. One thing I found interesting about the movie was that it was the most secular take on the afterlife that I can remember. They deal with death, life after death, and the concept of evil souls, yet they never mention God. They do mention judgement, and that everyone has to take their chances with it, but the R.I.P.D. doesn’t work for the Man In The Clouds. They do seem to answer to a collective of elders from on high, but there doesn’t seem to be an ultimate, supreme being amongst them. The special effects are really good, as many of them are worth the price of admission alone. If you ever get the chance on a rainy Saturday, definitely give this one a chance.

Fast and Furious 6

It was announced this week that Justin Lin, director of much of the Fast & Furious franchise, will be directing the 3rd movie in the Star Trek reboot series. I don’t even know what to make of this news. First of all, it makes me think the Enterprise is gonna have a NOS button and have 13 warp nacelles, but maybe I’m being unfair. He’s proven he can do action, but can he do science fiction? Notes trickling out from the studio report that they want the movie to be more like Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy – whatever that means. Are they looking for more humor? More derring-do? What exactly would make Trek like GOTG, and would that even be a good thing? And is Lin the one to provide that? After a lot of shake-ups, it seems like Lin was simply the last man standing. After all, Roberto Orci dropped out of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers reboot in order to helm Trek 3, only to be sent packing months later. These developments don’t make me feel great about this next installment, especially when I wasn’t such a big fan of Star Trek Into Darkness.

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In a reversal of fortunes, it appears that The Interview will see the light of day. There were screenings of the movie on Christmas Day, but you can currently watch it online via Google Play, YouTube, and XBox Video. I haven’t had the chance to watch it yet, but rest assured I’ll share my thoughts once I do.

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According to the infamous Sony hack, Idris Elba was being considered for the role of James Bond. Of course, this would make him the first Black Bond, and certain folks, like Rush Limbaugh, aren’t too happy about it. I think the Bond franchise has done a pretty good job of changing with the times, so maybe it’s time for a Black Bond. Elba is certainly dashing, and he’s got the acting chops. It’s just a question of whether the audience is ready. After all, the racebending Annie remake isn’t doing so well in theaters, but it remains to be seen if that’s because of Black Annie or if it’s simply not a good movie.

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This week, I discovered the Cartoon Network series Clarence, and my world was changed. I haven’t loved a cartoon this much since I discovered Regular Show. If you’ve never seen it, the show’s about a little fat boy, with an annoying voice, named Clarence. While that description might not sound positive, he’s actually an endearing character. Clarence is joined by his friends “Sumo” and Jeff. Here’s where things get interesting. Sumo is basically white trash, while Jeff’s parents are a lesbian couple. These two would never be friends naturally, but Clarence serves as the link between the two. I’ve never seen a kid’s cartoon have a depiction of lesbians before, and I’m also intrigued by its exploration of Sumo’s socioeconomic status. I making it sound heavier than it is as, on its surface, it’s just a goofy cartoon. Under the hood, however, there’s a smart, interesting show that you should check out.

Ben-Haenow

If you’ve seen Love Actually, then you know that the song that’s #1 at Christmas is a big deal in the UK. This year, that prestigious honor went to The X Factor winner Ben Haenow, with his cover of OneRepublic’s “Something I Need”.

I have a passing familiarity with the Kids React series, but I simply had to watch this. Folks forget that Power Rangers is over 20 years old, so of course the early days of the franchise might seem odd to today’s kids.

Jimmy Kimmel adds dialogue from Maury to Rudolph footage, and hilarity ensues:

Every wrestling fan has seen the video of Booker T calling Hulk Hogan the “N-word” but here he is, actually addressing the situation:

Here’s how Craig Ferguson signed off on his final episode of The Late Late Show. As a fan of finales, as well as The Drew Carey Show, I especially loved this:

 

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

-Helena Bonham Carter and Tim Burton have split up after 13 years. Yes, that sound you hear is everyone making the same “Who gets custody of Johnny Depp?” joke.

-The trailer for the Entourage movie was released this week. No, I’m not linking to it ’cause that show was full of douchebags. The only one I liked was Turtle ’cause he was fat and goofy. Then he lost all that weight, and now I’m a hater.

-Halle Berry-starring Extant will be back for a second season. I guess Halle’s gotta keep up with that child support. In any case, it seems that most of the supporting cast will be gone for the new season.

-Forbes named Adam Sandler the Most Overpaid Actor of 2014

Links I Loved

The Long, Powerful History Of Stephanie McMahon Slapping The Hell Out Of People – UPROXX

Miss Cleo on Her Allegedly Fake Patois and Getting Ripped Off By the Psychic Readers Network – Vice

20 Songs Turning 20 in 2015 – Mashable

Pam and Tommy: The Untold Story of the World’s Most Infamous Sex Tape – Rolling Stone

The Invention of the Slurpee – Gizmodo

5 Disturbing Things I Learned in Scientology’s ‘Space Navy’ – Cracked

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I don’t have many decades-spanning friendships, so I cherish the ones that I do have. I wanna tell you about my friends James and Jenn. I first met James over 16 years ago, at the airport waiting to fly to Cornell. We were both attending Accepted Minority Student Weekend (yeah, that’s a thing), and we hit it off immediately. This was before the age of Facebook or really even cell phones, so I didn’t really think I’d see him again after that weekend. So, imagine my surprise when I ran into him during orientation, and he introduced me to his girlfriend, Jenn. This was funny to me because we had basically just gotten to campus, and he already had a girlfriend?! Surely, he wouldn’t be talking to her by Thanksgiving, right? Right?

Wrong. James and Jenn became some of my closest friends over the next four years, as we took trips to the comic shop, and they came to support me at my a cappella concerts. Still, this was just gonna be a college relationship, right? They’d move away to jobs and that would be it. Again, wrong. They moved to Tucson, Arizona and later moved to New Haven, Connecticut. They’ve been together FIFTEEN years now and I joke with them about how they could have a kid in high school by now.

Well, a few weeks ago, James contacted me because he needed my help. After fifteen long years, he’d decided that it was time to propose. He saw no reason to wait any longer. And he wanted me to sing. Now, I haven’t sung in about 10 years, but they still listen to my CD, so I had remained a part of their relationship in that capacity. So, last weekend, I hopped on the bus, and joined them during a New York City weekend where the surprise was going to go down. We went to a museum exhibit on the Chinese Exclusion Act (way more interesting than you might think), and then had dinner at a vegetarian restaurant (I love my meat, but it was actually pretty good. Except for the cornbread. That was a hate crime.). After dinner, James started talking about Cornell and how they used to come see me sing. This was my cue. I did a verse of Drops of Jupiter, which was their favorite song of mine. When I was done, he presented the ring and she was blown away. And she said yes!

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As I said, James and Jenn have been some of my closest friends for a long time, and I wouldn’t even be blogging without Jenn (she’s created every incarnation of this website). So, I’m ecstatic for them, I love them, and to me, they clearly had the West Week Ever.

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