26th Jun2015

West Week Ever – 6/26/15

by Will

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briefcase

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

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

Tom+Holland+Arrivals+Pre+BAFTA+Party+sgu3IKYLLMXl

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

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

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

Photographer Dennis Stylist Lin

Photographer Dennis
Stylist Lin

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

dustin-diamond

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

taylor

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

General-Lee

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

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

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

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

Links I Loved

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

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

Why I Left Scientology – Gawker

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

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

ctu27

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

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

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

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

19th Jun2015

West Week Ever – 6/19/15

by Will

photovisi-download

 

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What a week, what a week. Sigh…

HTTM2

First up, I rented Hot Tub Time Machine 2 from Redbox. This is the type of movie that Redbox was made for – it wasn’t worth paying theater admission, but it’s pretty great entertainment value at $1.59. At first, I thought they were playing fast and loose with time travel, but it’s actually a pretty complex plot – something that its original stoner audience probably didn’t fully comprehend. The thing I like about the Hot Tub Time Machine franchise (at only 2 movies, can I call it a franchise? I’m calling it one) is that they don’t really spend a lot of time trying to fix things. Instead of trying to “make things right”, they royally fuck with the timeline for personal gain. Screw the Butterfly Effect – if it’s exciting or lucrative, they’ll do it. So, what’s this movie about? Well, did you see the first movie? Nope? Well, there’s a hot tub that can be used to travel through time. In the first movie, a group of friends traveled back to a fateful ski weekend in the late 80s. When they returned to the present, they had changed things drastically, and they were all successful. So, this movie picks up that thread, and it seems that they’re actually starting to get bored with their perfect lives. When Rob Corrdry’s character is shot in the crotch, they use the hot tub to travel to the future to find his killer, because the killer actually traveled to the present from the future. Once in the future, they see what they’re going to become, and all of their lives are pretty miserable. Got it? Yeah, don’t try to think about it too hard. Was it funny? Oh, Hell yeah! I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I’m sad that it bombed in theaters, which means we won’t get a third installment.

Duff

Since I had a Redbox code, I could get another movie for free. While I really need to watch Interstellar and Selma, I wasn’t in the mood for anything heavy. So, I went with The DUFF. Starring Mae Whitman, it’s about a high school girl who makes the startling realization that she’s the Designated Ugly Fat Friend, or D.U.F.F. in her group of friends. Supposedly, every group has a DUFF whose sole purpose is to make the other people look hotter and more popular. If you’ve ever seen She’s All That/Not Another Teen Movie, then you know that they just frumped up Whitman for the inevitable 3rd act reveal that *gasp* she’s attractive! It’s a really predictable movie, but still quite enjoyable. It’s got a great cast, including Whitman, Robbie Amell, and Allison Janney. I’m getting to the age, though, where I wonder if I should even be watching a high school teen comedy. I first felt that way when watching Superbad. I was like, “Am I supposed to think these girls are hot? Is Chris Hansen around?” Same thing here. While these were the standard twentysomethings-pretending-to-be-high-schoolers, I still felt like this movie wasn’t for me. I still really enjoyed it, though. It opened in fifth place, but went on to make $32 million on a budget of $8 million. I haven’t heard too many people talk about it, but I hope it finds new life on DVD.

Craig David 2015

When I was in college, I loved the Hell out of UK pop star Craig David. As a fellow light-skinned crooner, he was my role model. When Born To Do It came out, it was like he could do no wrong. “Fill Me In”, “7 Days”, Rendezvous”, “Walking Away” – all great early ’00s tracks.  I had just lost about 60 lbs, and was wearing nothing but beanies and H&M stuff. I think I even have a pic of myself doing his headphone pose. Anyway, it seemed like he was poised to be the next big thing. Forget about that curly-haired kid from *NSYNC! No, Craig David was the artist who was gonna be the face of Y2K R&B. And then Slicker Than Your Average came out. While Born To Do It had been influenced by the UK garage movement, Slicker was too…American. It sounded like the other stuff that was coming out, and there was nothing special about what he was bringing to the table. And the sales reflected that, as it didn’t come close to the success of his debut album. In recent years he’s been laying low, but he just resurfaced in a Buzzfeed article (yeah, I hate them, too, but they actually did something that wasn’t a listicle this time). It appears he’s a bodybuilder now and spends most of his time DJing in Miami. No longer the babyfaced artist of 2000, he’s now darker, buffer, and his face looks a lot harder. That’s what LIVING will do to ya. He says in the interview that he’s never done drugs, but he’s done something. Anyway, if you’re like me, and just glad to see that he’s still kicking around (and probably going to release a new album within the year), then check out that link.

Back-to-the-Future-Week

Do you love Back to the Future? Well, my pals over at The Robot’s Pajamas have been celebrating the franchise all week. If you haven’t done so already, be sure to check out all the great stuff they’ve been posting.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

Rise of the Planet of the Apes director Rupert Wyatt is attached to direct that Channing Tatum Gambit movie that nobody wants.

-Demi Lovato has been cast as Smurfette in the 2017 CGI reboot of The Smurfs

-Lester Holt is officially the anchor of NBC Nightly News. Meanwhile, former anchor Brian Williams has been cast off to low-performing MSNBC

-Some long-haired hippie got killed on Game of Thrones this week, causing Winter to come or whatever.

Links I Loved

Asshole Admits To Being Asshole In Supreme Asshole Move – The Onion

‘Batman Forever': The Story Behind the Surprise Hit “Nobody Really Wanted” – The Hollywood Reporter

Race, Transracialization, and Other Thoughts on Rachel Dolezal – Reappropriate

Niagara Falls Comic Con 2015 Report – The Horror Movie BBQ

jurassic world gate

Are we even gonna pretend that Jurassic World didn’t have the West Week Ever? The movie made HALF A BILLION DOLLARS last weekend! Nothing comes close to that. On top of that, it helped me to have my best traffic in years, with this little post. About that post, the reactions to it were interesting. Some folks were disappointed that I didn’t actually do that math to determine how much it would cost to visit the park. No, but some intrepid folks did figure out how much it would cost to build and run a dinosaur theme park. Some people thought I wasted a bunch of time overanalyzing a fictional movie. I didn’t see it that way. It’s how my brain works, and my mind just ran with it. That said, I was surprised that the Black folks were of that mind, while White people seemed to love it. Why? Because White people LOVE dinosaurs! Also, coupon day. Yeah, they mention coupon day in the first movie. That said, one coupon day is not gonna sustain that park for a whole year. They’d have to have some other promotions or discounts. You know how you can take a Coke can to Six Flags to get a discount on admission? They’d need something like that, only it’d have to be the depleted battery from a Prius or something.

Lindsay and I saw the movie last week and really enjoyed it. She even said that the final fight was “badass”. She spends so much time reading books that it’ always amuses me when something from the outside world resonates with her, like a movie or TV show. Anyway, it was a good summer blockbuster. Don’t think too hard and enjoy your popcorn.

Someone on Twitter, I believe it was @gholson, said that Chris Pratt was miscast, and after reading that I watched the movie kinda agreeing with him. Pratt’s clearly Hollywood’s new It Guy, but I feel like they wanna make him Harrison Ford when that’s not who he is. I felt he spent the whole movie kinda posturing. Stand on the elevator, and look like a badass. Ride the motorcycle, and look like a badass. It’s a very one-dimensional character, but this is a movie about a dinosaur resort, not Dickens. He did OK with what he was given, but what he was given wasn’t much.

On a podcast that I listen to, one of the cohosts mentioned that he wanted to see more of the park before everything went to shit. I kinda agree with him, as you don’t get to really take in the majesty of everything going on before disaster strikes. It would’ve been nice to have had more time getting familiar with the attractions, but they only had so much time to work with.

Anyway, I’m just nitpicking. I really did enjoy the film, even though I barely remember the original. I realize to some fans that this was almost like a religious experience, so I’m definitely not trying to take anything away from them. All hail Jurassic World! For breaking every film record, and for giving me a nice night out from the baby, Jurassic World had the West Week Ever.

 

 

16th Jun2015

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

by Will

jurassic world gate

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

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

Jurassic World crowd

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

Kids Playing With Dinosaurs

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

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

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

Essence Festival 2015

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

12th Jun2015

West Week Ever – 6/12/15

by Will

photovisi-download (17)

 

oie_922142seDasWF9

I watched a LOT of stuff this week, so let’s get to it!

14-netflix-new-releases-to-watch-in-may-hot-girls-wanted

First on the docket was a documentary on Netflix called Hot Girls Wanted, about the “professional amateurs” or “pro-ams” of the porn industry. You know those sites like Bang Bus, where they pick up random girls off the street? Those aren’t really strangers! No, they’re newcomers to the industry who pretend to be randos. I’m shocked and appalled! Anyway, since California passed laws requiring condoms in pornography, a lot of the industry picked up and moved to Miami. The film follows a handful of girls who simply answered an ad on Craigslist, offering a free trip to Miami for some modeling work. It was really fascinating, as a lot of the girls answer the ad as they see it as the only way to get out of their podunk towns. You also get to meet the family of one of the girls, as she confesses to what she’s been doing in Miami. It’s cringe-inducing when, after her mom asks if she’s worried about getting pregnant, she explains that the guys finish on her and not in her. Yes, to her mother! Since the average career lifespan of a pro-am is about 6 months, most of the girls have left the industry by the time the film ends, and they’re back in those podunk towns, waiting tables or going to school. I learned a lot from this documentary, which was surprisingly produced by Rashida Jones. And for you puritans out there, it’s about porn, but they don’t really show anything, so don’t be afraid to check it out.

Jersey Boys Quad jpg

Next up, I watched Jersey Boys, which was nowhere near as interesting as I thought it’d be. Based on the Tony Award-winning musical of the same name, Jersey Boys follows the rise and fall of ’60s group Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons. Seeing as how I come from the school of The Temptations and The Five Heartbeats, I was expecting something juicy along those lines. The problem, however, is that there’s nothing inherently interesting about Frankie Valli. All of the action happens around him, but doesn’t really concern him. If anything, the real star of the movie is group founder Tommy DeVito, as he’s the one who keeps the action going. Plus, the movie included my least favorite part of the biopic: when they age up the young actors with really bad makeup to make them look like the current old versions of the characters. I swear, Frankie Valli’s old man makeup was so bad that he looked like a zombie. The interesting thing to me is that the Frankie from the Broadway show, John Lloyd Young, reprised his role in the movie, however I didn’t feel like he brought much to the role.

John-Wick-Poster

Then, I watched John Wick or, as I like to call it, Headshots For Everyone! Oh my God, this was an amazing movie. I’ve never been what you might call a Keanu Reeves “fan”, but I never disliked him. Nope, not even The Matrix made me board the Keanu bandwagon. After watching this movie, however, I’m a fan. This movie makes Taken look like an Afterschool Special. When the Russian mob kills his dog – a final gift from his deceased wife – retired hitman John Wick goes on a killing spree to get his revenge. It’s such a beautifully shot film, with an excellent soundtrack. I’d heard people raving over the film when it came out, but I never really thought it’d be my cup of tea. The more I heard, however, the more curious I got. Luckily, Lionsgate sees John Wick as a franchise, and a second movie is on the way. I can’t wait!

whiplash

Finally, I watched Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons in Whiplash. I’ve been wanting to watch this since awards season, but I had no idea just what I was getting myself into. This movie is INTENSE, but excellent. I mentioned a few weeks back that Teller was growing on me, and this movie just sealed the deal. He was spectacular in his role as a first-year student at a music conservatory, determined to become one of the great jazz drummers. Simmons was similarly amazing, as the offensive and abusive band conductor who could make or break Teller’s career. The energy between the two actors is electrifying, and I found myself on the edge of my seat for most of the movie. Who knew a film about jazz could do that to a person? You should definitely see this movie.

Invincible-Iron-Man-1-Cover-88069

So, this week, Marvel revealed that Iron Man is essentially going to be their flagship character following the events of Secret Wars. Launching out of the event will be a new Invincible Iron Man series, written by Brian Michael Bendis and drawn by David Marquez. Taking place 8 months after the end of Secret Wars, this Tony Stark isn’t as rich as he used to be, so he’s no longer funding the Avengers. However, he’s got a new armor that can become all of his other armors, and he’ll have a new supporting cast. While Bendis has written Tony as part of other books, such as New Avengers and Ultimate Spider-Man, this is the first time he’ll be taking a crack at him in his own title. In Kieron Gillen’s run on the character, he revealed that Tony Stark was adopted, so one big mystery during Bendis’s run will be “Who are Tony Stark’s biological parents?” I remember hearing about the adoption storyline, and thought it was kinda contrived, but Bendis seems to think he can do something with it, and I generally trust him. That said, this announcement makes me worry about Miles Morales, as I hope it doesn’t mean that Bendis is moving on from the character. I mean, in order for him to grow, Miles will need to be handled by other creators, with diverse voices, but there’s something to be said for being handled by your creator. I hope Bendis has the bandwidth to handle both characters.

jon-bernthal

Speaking of Marvel, it was announced that Jon Bernthal will be joining the Netflix Daredevil series next season, as Frank Castle, AKA The Punisher. Bernthal’s last big role was as Shane on The Walking Dead, but I’ve never watched an episode of that show, so I can’t really say anything about his performance. I do remember him as part of CBS’s The Class, with Lizzy Caplan and Jesse Tyler Ferguson. That show was a comedy, and he was kind of a meathead on there, but I think he’s got the look. The Walking Dead fans seemed to be pumped, so I guess this was great casting on Marvel’s part.

Jessica Jones

Meanwhile in the Marvel Netflixverse, A.K.A. Jessica Jones has dropped the A.K.A. It’s probably for the best, as the original title was kinda stupid. Still, I’m sure a lot of folks are wondering “Who’s Jessica Jones and why should we care about her?”, but they were asking that regardless of what the show was called.

reboot_tv_cartoon

It was announced this week that 90s CGI cartoon Reboot would be returning for 26 episodes, and the fans rejoiced. Seriously, people have been begging for a Reboot…reboot for years, so I guess they can chill for now. I, however, never watched more than one episode of that show. I HATE mid-90s CG, and that show just reeked of it. If anyone watched this season of Community, Reboot looked like the virtual reality machine that Elroy sold Greendale. Anyway, technology has come a long way in the last 20 years, and if they’re truly starting back at 0, then I might give this new iteration a chance.

the-simpsons

Speaking of cartoons, there was uproar this week as two tidbits were released regarding the next season of The Simpsons. First of all, Sideshow Bob would finally kill Bart in the next Treehouse of Horror Halloween episode. That’s not really a big deal, since those thing are practically dream episodes and nothing in them matters anyway. Second, it was announced that Homer and Marge would undergo a legal separation next season. Since this is likely just the plot of one episode, it’s not like this is something that’s gonna stick (R.I.P. Maude Flanders). After almost 30 years on the air, it’s hard coming up with “fresh” ideas. A lot of folks are saying that these plots show it’s time for the show to pack it in, but it’s got people talking about an ancient show, so there’s no such thing as bad publicity.

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Is this woman White or Black? That, my friends, is the question that fired up social media last night. The woman pictured is Rachel Dolezal, an activist and Africana studies professor from Washington state. According to her White parents, however, she has been passing herself off as Black for years. Turns out she’s just been doing her best George Hamilton/Tom Jones impression, and she’s not really Black – even though she’s the president of the Spokane, Washington chapter of the NAACP. You can read more about it here (I typically hate Buzzfeed, but they have the most comprehensive timeline of the whole thing), but her parents have put her on BLAST for some reason. If you met her, what would you think she is?

Dolezal

I’m just fascinated by the whole thing. If it’s true, wasn’t she scared of being found out eventually? What was it like, day in, and day out, wondering “Is today the day?” I’m always kinda impressed by people who manage to lead double lives, so this kinda goes in that pile. Is the story true? I guess time will tell, but the Twitter Sleuths are on the case.

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I had the pleasure of joining Corey and Howie over on the UnderScoopFire Podcast last week, and the episode is now live. We discussed the up and coming television stars who are on the verge of making The Leap to the big screen. Did your favorite star make the cut? Hint: if they star on The CW, they probably did.

While we’re talking about me, I had an interesting week. First of all, I got my first cease & desist letter, from Lionsgate. If you remember, a few weeks back, I posted some concept art that may or may not be of the zords from the upcoming Power Rangers movie. A lot of sites  had been asked to take the pics down, so I surmised I might be asked to do the same, should I ever end up on their radar. Well, I’m small potatoes, and that didn’t happen. So, the other day, I tweeted this:

Lionsgate

Well, some Lionsgate intern clearly has a filter for their name on Tweetdeck, and caught that conversation. How do I know this? Not 3 hours after this conversation, I received an email from Lionsgate’s legal representation, with a whole bunch of gobbledegook about unauthorized usage of concept art, blah, blah, blah. They “request [my] assistance in the removal of the aforementioned artwork from [my] website.” OK. I’ll get around to it eventually. I’d just like to point out that I did your work for you, Lionsgate. Like I said, I’m small potatoes, but you gave me something to check off the vision board, so I thank you.

Reanimator

Next up, I got to appear in my third comic book this week (the others being Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash and Zombie Proof), as my good friend, Keith Davidsen, is currently writing a Reanimator series for Dynamite Entertainment. Going into this, I knew NOTHING about the Reanimator movies and Dr. Herbert West, but the series is accessible enough that none of that matters. Anyway, Keith did me a solid by writing me into issue #3 (which shipped Wednesday) – where I’m brutally murdered. The likeness isn’t all that sharp, but apparently I own a hardware store and I give great customer service. R.I.P., Comic Will. The overall story’s great, and it’s been getting good reviews. You can still pick up issues 1 & 2 at your local comic shop and, like I said, #3 – with my death – came out this week.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

Degrassi, just cancelled by TeenNick, has been renewed by Netflix. It will return in 2016 as Degrassi: Next Class

Pitch Perfect 3 is officially happening

According to TVLine, Fuller House will feature Danny Tanner’s younger, BLACK wife! YES, Y’ALL! Apparently, they’re currently casting for an “attractive, vivacious, and youthful” actress to protray Danny’s 40 year old wife.

-Chris Hemsworth has been cast as the receptionist in Paul Feig’s female Ghostbusters film

-Raven-Symone has officially joined The View as a permanent co-host

-Chiwetel Ejiofor, or as I like to call him Chitlin Ejector, has been cast as Baron Mordo in the Doctor Strange film

Links I Loved

Remembering Mary Ellen Trainor – UnderScoopFire

G.I. Joe’s Dumb Policies on Facial Hair – The Robot’s Pajamas

In 1991, I Turned Our Shed Into A Clubhouse. – Dinosaur Dracula

Check out Sales to Astonish. – Team Hellions

All-New, All-Different Marvel Creative Team Fantasy Booking – The Kliqnation

batman1-d338f

So, Batman #41 came out this week, with Commissioner James Gordon as the new guy in the Batsuit. I’m still not entirely sold on the idea, but I’m curious to see where it goes. They’re going for a Team Batman approach, as he has a tactical team up in some kind of Bat Blimp that helps him out. Also, in Detective Comics #41, Detective Renee Montoya made her post-New 52 debut. Is she The Question? Is she still a lesbian? We’ll have to wait for answers to all of these questions. Still, as interesting as these books were, none of them knocked my socks off. In fact, nothing really blew me away this week, so I’m sorry to announce that no one had the West Week Ever. Try harder next week, America!

05th Jun2015

West Week Ever – 6/5/15

by Will

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This_is_where_i_leave_you

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

the_watch

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

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

emma stone aloha

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

Doctor-Strange-The-Ancient-One

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

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

Awesome Con 2015 Cosplay Gallery

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

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

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

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

-Bruce Jenner will now be known as Caitlyn Jenner

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

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

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

full-house-lifetime-movie

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

Links I Loved

AWESOMECON 2015: Best of TMNT – The Sewer Den

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

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

community-season-6-cast

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

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

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

29th May2015

West Week Ever – 5/29/15

by Will

photovisi-download (15)

 

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seeking asian female

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

southern rites

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

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

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

convergence

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

2995_chris_pine

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

bebop and rocksteady

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

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

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

Links I Loved

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

01st May2015

West Week Ever – 5/1/15

by Will

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the signal

On the movie front, I watched The Signal. If you’ve never seen it, 3 college kids are on a road trip that goes awry. They’ve been taunted by a hacker, and they’ve tracked him to Nevada. Since they’re on the way to California, they decide to take a detour and surprise him. Once they get there, a bunch of strange stuff happens and they wake up in a secret facility, being interrogated by Laurence Fishburne. And that’s when the weird shit happens. In all, I really enjoyed the film. The ending was kinda weird, but I know that’s what they were going for. Still, it’s one of those films that was trying too hard to have a message than just simply entertain. If you read the Wiki entry for the movie, it says

The filmmakers have stated the movie was constructed as a metaphor for the conflict between rational and emotional decision-making, contained inside a science-fiction genre vehicle.

Whatever. I wish you could see the gesture I’m making while I read that. In any case, I don’t know if it accomplishes all of that, but there are worse ways to kill 90 minutes.

athf

In television news, it was announced that Aqua Teen Hunger Force  will be ending this summer after 15 years on Adult Swim. I used to be a HUGE ATHF fan, and have the first few seasons on DVD. I kinda fell off when it became Aqua Unit Patrol Squad 1. Then, like Power Rangers, the show just kept changing its name every season, even though the show itself never really changed. The final season will be called Aqua Teen Hunger Force Forever.

new avenger

In movie news, it’s rumored that the title of the next Spider-Man film will be Spider-Man: The New Avenger. I’m not sure how I feel about this. On the one hand, it fits the naming scheme of the other Marvel movies (Thor: The Mighty Avenger, Captain America: The First Avenger, etc). On the other hand, I’m not sure I want him to be an Avenger. Sure, we all wanted a shared universe, but I’ve never been one of those “Spider-Man Needs To Be On A Team” folks. Don’t get me wrong – I enjoyed when Bendis put him on the team in New Avengers, but since they’re skewing younger for this Peter Parker, I kinda wanna see him find his way on his own, instead of immediately joining a team. Then again, maybe it’s just a name and doesn’t really mean anything right now.

asa butterfield

In related news, Asa Butterfield is rumored to be the frontrunner for Peter Parker/Spider-Man. I know nothing about this guy, as I never saw The Boy In the Striped Pyjamas or Ender’s Game. He’s not who I’d think of when I think “Peter Parker”, but neither were Tobey Maguire or Andrew Garfield. Anyone know anything about this kid?

Phillippe Fist

In related Marvel news, Ryan Phillippe has said that he’s been in talks with Marvel for a role on one of the Netflix series. People have taken this to mean that he might end up as Iron Fist. I, for one, love this idea. Since Cruel Intentions, he kinda has that “rich kid pedigree” thing going for him, and his star is on the rise again thanks to ABC’s Secrets & Lies. I don’t know if he’d have any chemistry with Mike Colter (Luke Cage, his partner in crime), but I’m sure they’ll take care of that when the time comes. I know there’s a contingent out there who want an Asian American Iron Fist, but I’m not in that camp. Unlike most comic characters, I feel like Iron Fist’s whiteness is a key component of what makes him special. My friend, Jenn, has a much better explanation as to why this is, so I hope she writes about it someday.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

FF

-A new Fantastic Four character poster was released. Getting excited!

-There’s a Good Times movie coming, from Black-ish creator Kenya Barris. This is a horrible idea.

-The Power Rangers movie has been delayed to January 13th, 2017. Even as a Power Rangers fan, this doesn’t really disappoint me.

JubileeandJean

-Jubilee and Jean Grey on the set of X-Men: Apocalypse. I’m still not sure what they’re doing with this movie.

-Laura Linney just joined TMNT 2 in a mystery role. I really thought her career was better than that.

casey jones

-Speaking of TMNT 2, here’s your first look at Stephen Amell as Casey Jones. Shredder, YOU HAVE FAILED THIS CITY!

batsuit-The Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice Batsuit was revealed. This doesn’t really do much for me…

batwing

-Speaking of Dawn of Justice, that dude from the Latino Review got a sneak preview of the new Batwing. It’s not batty enough for me. At this point, I really don’t know what it’s gonna take to get me excited about this film


-Just watch it. Trust me.

-Don’t forget that tomorrow is Free Comic Book Day! Be sure to drop by your local comic shop for some free comic goodness. I know I’ll be picking up the Avengers book, as well as the DC Divergence book. How about you?

Links I Loved

The “Best” Genre Films of Lesser Known Celebrity Siblings – The Robot’s Pajamas

“We Are Who We Choose To Be”: Sadistic Choices, Forking Paths, and the Rejection of Social and Narrative Progress in Superhero Comics and Films – The Hooded Utilitarian

The Fastest Cars in Sci-Fi – The Robot’s Pajamas

avengers-art-final

Are we really going to pretend that Avengers: The Age of Ultron didn’t have the West Week Ever? It’s already made $255 million at the international box office. Most of you have already seen it, it seems, so you tell me. I saw it last night, and I’ve got a few, non-spoilery thoughts.

First of all, it’s good but not as good as the first one. Here’s my dilemma: they added more countries to show you that the Avengers’ mission is spreading globally. That said, the comics have taught me to only care about New York City. Since most of the action takes place NOT in NYC, the stakes don’t seem as high. I mean, I don’t care about Sokovia. Yes, I know that’s very Ugly American of me :-p  Also I felt the non-Ultron villains were wasted in the film, especially after all the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. #itsallconnected buildup. And the ending doesn’t make a lot of sense (I can’t wait to be able to discuss this with someone). Oh, and Days of Future Past‘s Quicksilver is a lot cooler than Age of Ultron‘s Pietro Maximoff.

I was told that I’d leave the film really loving Hawkeye, and that was true. He’s the most human member of the team, and the movie does a good job of showing what he brings to the table. I also loved all of Stark’s new toys. And the mid-credits scene was great. Plus, I LOVED Spader as Ultron. Perfect casting there.

All that said, I really enjoyed it. Then again, I’m pretty easy to please when it comes to comic book movies. Out of all the ones I’ve seen, the only one with which I had major problems was The Dark Knight Rises. Before you ask, yup , I liked that one. And that other one. Yup, that one, too.

It very much feels like the middle movie of a bigger storyline, which is exactly what it is. It put all the major pieces in position, setting up Civil War and Infinity War. This is not a cerebral movie, however, and I know some of my friends are gonna loathe it. Still, let’s not act like it’s not gonna make a billion dollars, so Avengers: Age of Ultron had the West Week Ever.

24th Apr2015

West Week Ever – 4/24/15

by Will

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Other-Space

This was a week of me binge-watching short comedy series online. I started things out with Other Space on Yahoo Screen. I mentioned the show in last week’s post, but I hadn’t gotten around to watching it. Created by Paul Feig (Bridesmaids and The Heat), the show is set in the year 2105, and focuses on the young, inept crew of a spaceship that finds itself stranded in a parallel dimension. I’ve admired Feig since I read his book, Superstud, so I had to check out this series. I came for the creator, but I stayed for Milana Vayntrub, AKA Lily Adams from the AT&T commercials. First, let me say this: I hate webseries. There’s always something “This isn’t quite good enough for television” about them. And this show looks and feels like a webseries. Still, I powered through the 8-episode run with ease, as the cast is good, and the writing’s pretty funny. For you Mystery Science Theater 3000 fans, Joel Hodgson and Trace Beaulieu are also part of the cast. It’s got humor, it’s got pretty ladies, and it’s got space – there’s something for everyone!

scrotal recall

Next up, I binged Scrotal Recall on Netflix. Yes, that’s its actual name, but the show is so much better than that questionable moniker. Imagine if How I Met Your Mother had more sex, and no Lily & Marshall. That’s basically this show. There’s a Ted, there’s a Barney, and there’s a Robin. The hook, however, is a bit more mature than HIMYM: when Dylan discovers that he has chlamydia, he has to notify his former sexual partners to let them know that they need to get tested. Then, we follow those past relationships as the show jumps around the timeline. Meanwhile, Dylan is secretly in love with his best friend, Evie – who happens to also be in love with him. However, she’s about to be married to another guy. Will they finally admit their feelings to each other before it’s too late? The series originally aired on Channel 4 in the UK last year, and I continue to be impressed by how much British showrunners are able to cram into a mere 6 episodes of a series. It was great to see Antonia Thomas again, who I discovered when she played Alisha on the Channel 4 series Misfits. Also, if they ever make a US version of the show, June Diane Raphael HAS to play Helen. Anyway, I’m really hoping for a second season, as I really like the ensemble, and there’s definitely more ground to cover. In the tradition of My Name Is Earl, Dylan has a pretty sizable list of women he needs to contact, and we only get through the first 5 in this season.

babadook

Next, I watched The Babadook on Netflix. A 2014 horror movie with a lot of buzz around it, I felt like I had to watch this movie. Now, I’m not exactly a horror fan – in fact, I don’t like the genre much at all. Still, I’d heard nothing but good things about this movie, so it seemed to be worth my time. Well, what did I think? Babadook? More like Babadookie. Seriously, what did people see in this movie? If you’re not familiar with it, the movie focuses on a single mother and her son in Australia. Amelia’s husband died on the way to the hospital for her to give birth, so it’s just been her and the son, Samuel, for the past 7 years. And it’s starting to take its toll on her. One night, she lets Samuel choose the book she’s going to read to him before bed, and he picks a book called Mister Babadook. In the story, there’s a creature called Mr. Babadook who begs to be let in, and will never leave once you do so. The story basically terrorizes the son, as he begins to see the Babadook everywhere, and he’s scared something’s going to happen to his mom. The mom refuses to believe in the Babadook, but as she continues to go without sleep, strange things begin to happen around the house. That’s the basic gist of it. To me, the biggest problem is that the Babadook just isn’t that visually frightening. He looks like something from a Tim Burton movie. Anyway, I was pretty unsatisfied and I don’t get the hype that surrounded this movie. Was it the fact that it was a horror movie by a female director? Did I miss something? The main brunt of the movie seems to be “Single parenting is a BITCH!”, but the Babadook himself? Not so scary.

full-house-tv-show-reboot-netflix

I’ve written about it a bunch, but it was officially announced this week that Fuller House is happening, and will premiere on Netflix in 2016. The show will follow widowed veterinarian DJ Tanner, who needs help raising her 2 kids (with another on the way). So, best friend Kimmy Gibbler, along with her own teenage daughter, Ramona, moves in to help out. Finally, Stephanie Tanner, now a musician, will also move in to lend a hand. John Stamos will produce the show, and also guest star as Uncle Jessie. I like this idea, but I’m somewhat surprised it went to Netflix. After all, this show seems tailor-made for ABC Family’s comedy slate, especially with the aging Melissa & Joey on the way out this summer. I can think of about 3 cable networks that would be a better home to this show than Netflix, but I guess Netflix is trying to expand its offerings. Based on the media coverage this thing has been getting, they just may have chosen a winner.

finding your roots

There was a lot of hubbub this week regarding Ben Affleck. No, I’m not talking about the Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer. You see, Affleck was on the PBS series Finding Your Roots, where he discovered that one of his ancestors owned slaves. Well, thanks to leaked emails, we discovered that Affleck asked that that particular part be cut from his episode. Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr., the host of the show, wasn’t sure how to handle the situation, as detailed in the email thread. Eventually, the show acquiesced, and the segment was removed. Once news of this broke, there was outcry that Affleck shouldn’t have asked/the show shouldn’t have complied with his request. Affleck finally addressed the situation on Facebook, saying:

“I didn’t want any television show about my family to include a guy who owned slaves. I was embarrassed. The very thought left a bad taste in my mouth.”

He also pointed out that Finding Your Roots isn’t a news show, so it’s not like he was compromising journalistic integrity. I kinda see both sides of the situation. On the one hand, if you’re an American, you’ve got to know there’s a *chance* your ancestors owned slaves. That goes for both races. However, he’s right in that it wasn’t a news show, and they had to go with what made the most sense from an entertainment standpoint. Considering he didn’t want that aspect known, and PBS didn’t initially want to cut it, I feel like they just should’ve scrapped the episode. Move on to the next celebrity and keep it moving. There’s currently an ongoing internal investigation at PBS to determine if the omission violated PBS editorial standards.

shield-spinoff

The television corner of the Marvel Universe certainly had a busy week. First off, it was revealed that 12 Years A Slave writer John Ridley was creating a Marvel Universe show for ABC. Later in the week, that rumor expanded, implying that he was working on a series based on current Ms. Marvel, Kamala Khan. Next, Deadline Hollywood reported that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. would be spinning off the characters of Mockingbird and her ex-husband Nick Hunter, in a Mr. & Mrs. Smith-esque spy drama. Finally, it was announced that Daredevil has been renewed for a second season, albeit with new showrunners.

Thoughts? Well, I kinda like Kamala Khan as a character, even though I think her powers are stupid. I wonder if America’s ready for a show starring a female Muslim hero, but “you never know what you can do until you try”, right? Ridley’s 2006 Wildstorm miniseries The American Way showed that he understands heroes, while his current TV series, ABC’s American Crime, shows that he can handle culture clashes. He’s an interesting choice for a Marvel project, but I’d be really curious to see what he could bring to that universe.

As for the Mockingbird show, I feel like they should focus on making Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. a solid show before spinning off one of its best components. I’m not the biggest Mockingbird fan, but I’ll admit that the show has gotten more interesting since her debut. This new series is being looked at as a companion show to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and may run concurrently, like Once Upon A Time and Once Upon A Time In Wonderland so unsuccessfully tried last season. If they do a spinoff, I’d be OK with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. going away, and letting the spinoff replace it. It’d be like how Benson went on to last twice as long as Soap, the show that birthed it. I love Phil Coulson, but I’ve always felt that he was a “less is more” character. On the Age of Ultron press circuit, Whedon said that he felt the resurrection of Coulson kinda took away the impact of his death in Avengers, and I have to agree. He went from this guy we saw every few movies to in our faces on a weekly basis. They could get Coulson out of the field, and put him in an actual director capacity, which would keep him out of sight. It’d be the way they used Richard Dean Anderson at the end of Stargate SG-1 – we wouldn’t see him very often. This could also allow the AoS field team to disband and something different (potentially led by Mockingbird) could rise from its ashes. It’d be a good way to reboot the S.H.I.E.L.D. concept. Skye could move on since she’s now powered and really has no business with S.H.I.E.L.D. I’ve never really liked Melinda May, though she could stick around as The Muscle. And I’m kinda tired of Fitz and Simmons. The team needs a shakeup, and the current S.H.I.E.L.D. vs S.H.I.E.L.D. storyline isn’t doing enough to further that.

As for Daredevil, the news of a second season isn’t really a surprise. It seems, however, that this could delay the Defenders team-up that was originally planned to close out the Marvel Netflix series. According to Forbes, Marvel initially shopped the series around as a 60-episode package: 13 episodes each of Daredevil, A.K.A. Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist, with the remaining 8 episodes being devoted to a team-up series with all of those characters, called The Defenders. Since second seasons weren’t part of the original plan, it stands to reason that The Defenders may get shuffled. The Forbes article even posits that The Defenders may actually precede Iron Fist – which doesn’t yet have a production date in place. Marvel seems to want to get the Netflix characters into Avengers: Infinity War, so it’ll be interesting to see how they handle the timeline over the next 3 years in order to make this happen.

DC Super Hero Girls_5537ee21c01bd1.39734216

Meanwhile, DC Comics had some news of their own, as they announced the creation of DC Super Hero Girls. It’s not the flashiest or catchiest name, but it makes DC look good during a week where Marvel is facing criticism for the lack of merchandise featuring female characters from their movies. Designed for girls aged 6-12, the cross-platform initiative centers around female super heroes and super villains of the DC Universe as “relatable teens”, according to the press release. Mattel is a partner, and will create a line of action figures specifically targeted towards girls. One thing you’ll notice from the art above is that the characters are mostly covered – something that’s unusual for female characters in comics. As a new dad of a baby girl, I’m excited to see where this goes.

MADCAST_LOGO

I had the pleasure of joining Corey over at the MadCast for this week’s episode. If you’re not familiar with the MadCast, it’s the best Mad Men recap show around. We discussed this week’s episode, “The Forecast”, and I even got in some Three’s Company references. If you’re a Mad Men fan, check it out here.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week


-Bob Saget was NOT the original Danny Tanner

-I took the Jeopardy online test last week. I will not be on Jeopardy anytime soon.

-The official Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer was released. It did absolutely nothing for me.

-The latest Jurassic World trailer was released. Still felt nothing.

-The new Fantastic Four trailer was released. Actually starting to look forward to that one.

-Nicole Perlman (Guardians of the Galaxy) and Meg LeFauve (Inside Out) will write Marvel’s Captain Marvel film

Agent Carter‘s Dominic Cooper (Howard Stark) has been cast as Jesse Custer in AMC’s adaptation of the Vertigo Preacher comic. He will be joined by Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s Ruth Negga (Raina).

-It was rumored that the title of the Arrow/The Flash spinoff will be Legends of Tomorrow. Meanwhile Edge of Tomorrow‘s Franz Drameh has joined the cast as a mysterious character named Jay Jackson.

-The next Star Trek movie will be released 7/8/16, and will be titled Star Trek: Beyond

-Speaking of Star Trek, it was revealed that a Galaxy Quest series is in development at Paramount. I think the concept worked well as a movie, but I don’t see it as a weekly series. It might work as a 13-episode Netflix situation, though.

-Sandra Bullock was named People Magazine‘s 2015 World’s Most Beautiful Woman

-After 53 years, Spanish-language variety show Sabado Gigante will end September 19th.

-Sony announced plans for a movie franchise based on the Valiant comic line. Good luck with that…

-Mr. Feeny will make his return to Girl Meets World in the season 2 premiere on May 11th.

-Animated Spider-Man film planned for 2018. Next to no other details are known at this time.

-Tyler Perry has been cast as Baxter Stockman in TMNT 2

Links I Loved

The Man Who Broke the Music Business – The New Yorker

10 Shows Marvel Should Make Before Mockingbird – The Robot’s Pajamas

10 Things KB Toys Sold in 1998! – Dinosaur Dracula

Iceman

After wallowing in obscurity for years, X-Men team member Iceman finally became relevant again this week when the latest issue of All-New X-Men revealed that the character is gay. And news outlets went crazy with their “An Original X-Man Comes Out” headlines. But that’s not exactly true. Long story short, the original X-Men of the past were brought to the present to see what their actions end up doing to mutantkind, in the hopes that their experiences will motivate them to change the present. Unfortunately, they can’t get back home. So, the teen versions coexist in the present with the adult versions. Seeing as how the teen version of Iceman is gay, but the adult version is not, it’s beginning to look like the past team is actually from an alternate timeline or universe.

icemen

Still, this has sparked a lot of….interesting online conversations. Most of the comments are along the lines of “How come they’re changing characters again?!” Well, they’re not, really. The Iceman you knew and ignored is still around, and still straight. It’s alternate timeline Teen Iceman who doesn’t like the ladies. To me, that’s kind of a copout. It allows Marvel to have its cake and eat it, too. Just say Iceman’s gay. It won’t negate any past stories (Sure, he dated Opal, but it’s not like gay guys don’t have women in their pasts), and it won’t change anything about his heroism (or lack thereof). I just want him to be *interesting* again – something that hasn’t happened since 1997’s “Operation: Zero Tolerance” storyline. I’ve always kinda liked Iceman, and if this means that he’ll be in the spotlight more, then I’m all for it. If they’re just gonna shuffle him to the back of the line again, then it was a useless gesture. At the end of the day, the X-Men are about the battle for acceptance, be it about powers, race, or sexuality. So, this feels pretty fitting. If they’d created a new gay character, as the naysayers are suggesting they should have done, that character simply would’ve been a token. No, it had to be an existing character. Plus, there hasn’t really been a “definitive” Iceman story, so he’s perfect. He’s an original team member with a ton of storytelling potential and little baggage.

I do, however, have problems with how Marvel handled it. Ya see, Iceman didn’t come out – he was outed. There’s a difference. This article goes into it much more eloquently than I can, but what Jean Grey did was invade Iceman’s privacy by reading his mind. So, hopefully there will be some ramifications behind that.

no more mutants

Also, this isn’t the first time that Iceman has been used in the Something Drastic and Permanent Has Happened to an Original X-Man role. You see, a few years back, Marvel realized that everyone and their cousin was a mutant and something needed to be done to thin out the herd. So, during the House of M miniseries, Scarlet Witch cast the spell “No More Mutants”, and this reduced Marvel’s mutant population to approximately 198 people. In order to make readers feel the impact of what had happened, of course they needed one of the original X-Men to lose their powers. Enter: Iceman. Iceman, along with Magneto (who later got a power recharge from the High Evolutionary), lost his powers and was seemingly just a normal human. Until Marvel writers or whatever got cold feet, and Iceman realized he still had powers, but some sort of PTSD from the events of House of M was preventing him from being able to use them. So, in the long run, all of the original X-Men pretty much made it through the mass depowering unscathed, though no new mutants appeared for the next 2 years.

I really hope Marvel follows through with this and doesn’t just retcon it via Secret Wars or something. If nothing else, however, this has given Iceman more attention than he’s ever received. And for that reason, Iceman had the West Week Ever.

13th Mar2015

West Week Ever – 3/13/15

by Will

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So, I had a bunch of snow days last week, and just didn’t have the motivation to write. We’re back now, however, and we’ve got a lot to talk about!

sommore

Trying to clear off my DVR, I watched the standup special Sommore: Chandelier Status. If you don’t know Sommore, you’ve clearly never seen BET’s ComicView. You’re also probably White. Seriously, except for Celebrity Fit Club, Sommore really hasn’t broken out of the Black Comedy world. Still, I’ve found her to be hilarious in the past, so I thought I’d check out this special. It was really nothing to write home about. It was about an hour’s worth of “Black people do this, and White people do that.” That gets old fast. I think I laughed twice. Kinda disappointing, as I had high expectations for that special.

Aziz

While on the comedy topic, I also checked out Aziz Ansari: Live At Madison Square Garden. Now, I’ve gone on record to say that I didn’t like his last special, Buried Alive, because he spent too much time talking about grown-up stuff like having kids and his fear of marriage. Well, this special was really just more of that. I think I’m starting to realize that I like younger, less mature Aziz who talked about hanging out with Kanye and going to R. Kelly concerts. Older, wiser Aziz is WAY too introspective, and I don’t find a lot of *humor* in what he has to say. He’s more like a relationship guru than a comedian these days, and that’s just not what I’m looking for.

The-Marine-3-426x600

On TV, I caught The Marine, which has quickly become one of those “I have to watch it whenever I see it’s on” movies for me. I can’t really explain it, but I think John Cena is a pretty good action star. And whatever happened to Kelly Carlson? After Nip/Tuck, she seemed poised for bigger things. Sure, The Marine is just a WWE Studios production, but it was still a job. Nowadays, I hear she’s acting in some online spinoff of Supernatural. Eww, a webseries!

PowersRD-610

Speaking of disappointing webseries, this week saw the premiere of Powers on the Playstation Network. If you’re not familiar with the concept, it’s a police procedural based  in a world of people with superpowers, and it’s based on the comic of the same name from Brian Michael Bendis. Now, I have a complicated relationship with Bendis; I used to love everything he did, but then I met him. Don’t meet your heroes, kid. Anyway, as much as I’ve loved his work, I never really liked Powers. I felt it was overrated and moved WAY too slowly. So, I’m probably not the target audience for this show. That said, it was just as bad as I expected. The show had been in development for years, and eventually landed at FX with a pilot starring Jason Patric. FX passed on the series, but the creators were determined to get it on the air somewhere. So, they went back to the drawing board and gave us the show that we have here. The trailer for it made it look like a big budget fan film, and the actual product wasn’t much better than that. It felt like a really bad Canadian series that would air on Syfy. And no, not a American show filmed in Vancouver for budgetary reasons – I’m talking about a show made by and for Canadians, like Lost Girl or something. The effects are hokey, the casting is off (Sharlto Copley? Really?), and it just feels empty, though yearns to be so much more than it is. The series will air exclusively on Playstation Network, but the pilot is currently available on YouTube. If this show is indicative of PSN’s original programming capabilities, I am far from impressed.

kosher soul

It’s not all bad news this week, though. I have a new favorite reality show: Kosher Soul. Airing on Lifetime, the show follows the relationship between standup comedian O’Neal McKnight and celebrity stylist Miriam Sternoff. He’s Black, she’s Jewish and hilarity ensues! When the series starts, they’re planning their wedding and O’Neal is starting the conversation to Judaism, as it’s important to Miriam that she marry a Jew. O’Neal’s a funny guy, though I’m not that familiar with his standup. He’s friends with other reality show stalwarts like Fonzworth Bentley and Russell Simmons. Meanwhile, Miriam reminds me a lot of Bethenny Frankel – who was my favorite of the Bravo Real Housewives franchise. Right after their wedding, Miriam wanted to start trying to have kids, so that’s where we are at this point in the show. O’Neal and Miriam seem to have great chemistry, and I can see how their relationship has endured for 9+ years. Hell, they may last and they may not, but they’re trying to make it work. I’ve seen no hype about this show, and only watched it because I ran across it On Demand. It doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page yet! So, with my luck, it’ll probably be canceled after one season.

the-last-man-earth

Had I done a West Week Ever last week, that honor would have gone to The Last Man on Earth. I never thought it had a chance to work, and the jury’s still out on it, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the three episodes that have aired so far. If you haven’t seen it, Will Forte stars as Phil Miller – the seemingly only survivor of a virus that has killed the rest of the world’s population. So, the pilot follows him as he gets used to the idea that he is, in fact, the last person on Earth. Then, at the end of the pilot, you’re thrown for a loop, as you learn that he’s not alone; he may be the last *man* on Earth, but there happens to be a woman – Carol Pilbasian, played by Kristen Schaal. So, then the show focuses on the relationship between the two, as Carol thinks she and Phil are meant to repopulate the world, while Phil really wants nothing to do with her. I thought this would work as a movie, but I had no idea how they’d get an entire series out of it. Three episodes in, and I’m still not sure where it’s going, but I’m enjoying the ride so far.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So, I was busy on the Internet this week, and some might even say I was trolling. I didn’t think that was the case, but let’s take a closer look, shall we? So, on Monday morning, I was tweeting with a friend about American Idol, and he mentioned Kris Allen. I replied, “Man, where’d THAT dude end up?” And he replied, “In the scrap heap along with Taylor Hicks, Lee DeWyze, and Scotty McCreery.” And then the floodgates opened. We got tons of replies from obsessed fans who clearly set filters for anytime those guys’ names are mentioned. They insisted that Taylor and Scotty weren’t on a “scrap heap”. Turns out they were right. I mean, I already knew of Scotty’s country success, but who knew that Taylor Hicks made $2.5 million last year? Apparently, he’s the first Idol to get a residency in Las Vegas. Anyway, as I got sick of these grannies blowing up my timeline, I tweeted the following:

guarini 1If you’re not familiar, a “stan” is slang for an obsessive fan – based on the Eminem song of the same name. Oh, and Justin Guarini lost to Kelly Clarkson in the very first season of American Idol. I didn’t really have to call out Guarini, but he seemed like an easy target. Kick a man while he’s down, I guess. I was riled up by all the old ladies defending their favorite Idols, and I was really just trying to call out some more fans, as I was amused by their terrible misspellings and grammar. And since he has nothing to do with his time, Guarini responded. He has since deleted his tweets to me, so let’s see if I can do it from memory:

JG: “*stars *shitty”

This was his was of trying to correct me. He thought I meant to say “stars” instead of “stans”. He was also correcting the end of my tweet to read “Justin Guarini ain’t shitty”

And I replied:

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JG: “Hey fan. I know a fan when I see one, fan.”

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Then things took off. He tweeted his response with the period before the @, so all of his followers could see it. So then everybody started favoriting his tweets to me. And then one theatre groupie tried to say that I was kissing up to him. I actually wasn’t. While my tone might seem conciliatory, in my mind I wasn’t done. I didn’t appreciate him reaching out to his followers for support. What I said was true – I had voted for him, and an ex had given me From Justin to Kelly. I failed to add that I sold that DVD and that I thought his album was a piece of shit. Seriously, it’s terrible as there isn’t one commercially viable single on the entire disc. I didn’t add any of this, though, because I had been an asshole and it was probably best to let it drop. The next day, however, I listened to Kelly’s new album and I got the desire to tweet Justin and ask him what he thought of it. I was just about to hit send, but I thought better of it. I like a good feud, but I’m not particularly a fan of a situation where I’m the bad guy.

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Last time, I mentioned that I had a bottle of Pepsi True in my refrigerator. Well, I tried it. And it tastes like bilge water. In the Stevia flavored mid-calorie cola department, Coke Life wins the title.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

– Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke lost a court case against the family of Marvin Gaye, who claimed that “Blurred Lines” ripped off Gaye’s “Got To Give It Up”. This decision resulted in a $7.3 million payout to Gaye’s children. I get that they kinda sound similar, but I really don’t get this decision. Plus, it sets a really bad precedent for anything that remotely sounds like anything else. Thicke had kinda been a bit of a douchenozzle over the past year, so I wonder if that played into the jury’s decision.

–  a new trailer was released for the Netflix Daredevil series. For a great scene-by-scene breakdown, check out this post at The Robot’s Pajamas.

Rolling Stone had a great minute-by-minute breakdown of the We Are The World recording session on its 30th anniversary.

– Have you ever wanted to see Earl Sinclair from Dinosaurs rap Notorious B.I.G.’s “Hypnotize”? Who cares. Here it is and it’s awesome:

– My pals over at the Nerd Lunch Podcast did a musicals episode that you should really check out.

– At a Disney shareholder’s meeting, it was reported that Star Wars Episode VIII will be released May 26, 2017. Also, Felicity Jones to star in the Rogue One spinoff. I have no idea who she is…

– My pals at UnderScoopFire tackle the Pop Culture Alphabet

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I had no idea I’d love this show as much as I do, and I don’t know what I did with my life before it came along. Yes, I’m talking about Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt on Netflix. Originally developed by Tina Fey for NBC, the show was picked up by Netflix with a 2-season guarantee. It stars The Office‘s Ellie Kemper as Kimmy Schmidt who, along with 3 other women, has been held captive in a doomsday bunker for 15 years. When the series starts, they’re liberated from the bunker, and Kimmy moves to NYC to start her life over. Since she was in middle school when she was first abducted, Kimmy’s missed out on a LOT, including current music and slang. Once she gets to New York, she moves in with flamboyantly gay Titus Andromedon who eventually becomes her best friend. Meanwhile, she works for a crazy rich lady played by 30 Rock‘s Jane Krakowski, and tries to put her bunker life behind her.

If you loved 30 Rock, you’ll love Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. They share a sensibility, and I’d even consider them in the same universe if it weren’t for the fact that Krakowski and Tituss Burgess are playing different characters. Whenever they watch TV on the show, I keep hoping for a mention of TGS, Bitch Hunter or MILF Island just to confirm that Jack Donaghy and Liz Lemon are in the same city somewhere.

Part of what makes the show work so well is the casting. Kemper is simply adorable as Kimmy, as she manages to capture the wide-eyed wonder that the character would certainly experience by her new surroundings. She spent her adolescent years in the bunker, so her development’s a bit stunted. If you’ve ever seen 13 Going On 30, you know that Jennifer Garner was awkward as Hell as a 13 year old girl who magically becomes a 30 year old. This takes that formula and gets it right. Kimmy may be 29, but she’s still a 14 year old in many ways. And Kemper does an excellent job portraying that. Meanwhile, Tituss Burgess is AMAZING as Titus Andromedon. Everything he says is quotable, and he manages to straddle the line of self-serving and lovable. If you watched 30 Rock, you’ll remember him as D’Fwan – a hilarious member of Tracy’s wife’s entourage. Here, it’s like he’s playing the same character, but cranked up to 11. He and Kemper have great chemistry, and it’s fun to watch their friendship grow.

I don’t want to spoil the guest stars, or where the story goes, as that’s half the fun of the experience. The minute I was done, though, I instantly wanted season 2. I haven’t felt that way since Bojack Horseman – another Netflix series I fell in love with. All of my friends online have been talking about Kimmy Schmidt, so I see that I’m not alone in my love for the show. If you haven’t checked it out, remedy that soon. I’ve heard the first episode didn’t grab some folks, but stick with it. So, for being the belle of the comedic ball this week, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt had the West Week Ever. Troll the respawn, Jeremy!

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.

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