06th Oct2017

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 10/6/17

by Will

So, I guess I’ve got to start off by talking about Vegas, huh? Ya know, it’s been really hard writing this column in 2017. Like, I’m sure some of y’all are thinking, “Man, Will is slipping” or you’ve put me in the category with The Simpsons where “This isn’t as funny as it used to be.” Sadly, it’s just the state of the world, and all I can do is my best to mine the entertainment news that still manages to trickle out. That said, it is really hard talking about pop culture in 2017.

But anyway, Vegas. Unless you’ve been offworld fighting the Jem’Hadar or whatever, then you already know some dude (not gonna name him ’cause why should I?) shot up the Route 91 Harvest 3-day country music festival, killing 59 people, and injuring over 500, in the deadliest US gun attack in history. And while this was a horrific loss of life, I’m kind of numb to these things now. I mean, sure, you wonder “Is anywhere safe anymore?” but at the same time, this is America, and these sorts of things have become somewhat annual, if not more frequent. After all, this is only the deadliest gun attack since the Pulse shooting in Miami back in June of 2016. It’s saddening and exhausting, yet nothing seems to be changing.

I’m seeing a lot of sentiments, post-Vegas, about how we’re all Americans and should now unite and, basically, “cut the bullshit”. But what does that ultimately mean? I mean, around what ideal are we uniting? It sure as Hell ain’t gun control. Or mental health. There’s no “evil foreigner” trope for us to pursue. If anything, it seems to be a plea to stop protesting and kneeling and all that jazz, because it’s “divisive”. Nah, I’m good. I know these things teach us that life is precious and we shouldn’t waste time on squabbles, but the stuff folks are mad about isn’t menial. And I think it’s gonna take more than a “lone wolf” at a country festival to sweep all the issues under the rug, for the sake of “unity”.

Anyway, as you can imagine, Vegas cast a bit of a pall on pop culture this week, and this wasn’t more evident than with the return of MTV’s TRL.

Members of the N’SYNC pose with Carson Daly at MTV Studios in New York City’s Times Square on January, 26, 2000. (photo by Todd Plitt)

Originally Total Request Live, the video request countdown was a powerhouse on the pop music landscape at the turn of the century. It put Carson Daly on the map, and it was what everyone watched when they came home from school (unless they were watching 106 & Park). You weren’t shit if you didn’t stop by TRL to promote whatever new project you had coming up. It was THE place to be. Then the internet got bigger, and you could watch music videos whenever you want on YouTube (and later Vevo). So, the show packed its shit and left us in 2008.

Feeling a bit of nostalgia, I suppose, Viacom decided to revive the show this year with a team of hosts. With the internet being what it is now, surely it’d be more interactive than the original. What nobody told us, though, is that it wouldn’t have any videos!

Monday’s premiered chugged along, despite having to deal with a national tragedy and experiencing technical difficulties, and didn’t air a single video. Yeah, they still make videos. CMT plays ’em, so at least they’re still viable for country. Taylor Swift and Katy Perry still make them. There are videos out there, yet the show known for its video countdown ain’t got no videos! Exactly WHAT is the audience expected to request? Instead, the show featured live performances from Ed Sheeran and Migos, and displayed some awkward banter between the hosts as they tried to fill out the intermittent silences.

People have said “What’s the point of then showing videos if you can get them online?”, and while that’s true, I’d counter with “Then why bring back the show at all?” Imagine if VH1 revived Pop-Up Video, but didn’t actually do the pop-ups because “folks do that better on YouTube now”? That would be a useless show. And in an age where MTV seems to want to get back into the music business somewhat, and they still host an awards show for music videos you’d think they would see this TRL reboot as a golden opportunity. Anyway, maybe they’re just experiencing first week growing pains, but things certainly don’t look all that great for this incarnation at the moment.

Another way that Vegas affected pop culture is that Netflix pulled their Punisher panel that was planned for this weekend’s New York Comic Con. While some folks are asking “What’s that gonna change?”, I selfishly applaud the decision. I say selfishly because I don’t understand anyone who holds The Punisher as their favorite comic character. At least no one over the age of 13, that is. Why, in this day and age, is he still a thing? Sure, he has his roots in the whole Dirty Harry/Death Wish popularity of decades past, but let’s not forgot that comic are just power fantasies. So who does he appeal to?

If you’re not familiar with The Punisher, Frank Castle was originally a Vietnam vet whose family was murdered because they witnessed a killing in Central Park. He then begins his one-man war on crime. Sure, this was “cool” in the 89s, but now? Do you really wanna give a Vietnam vet with a screw loose a bunch of weapons? Shit, most of y’all wouldn’t even give him a dollar!

In recent years, they’ve tried to make him more “comic booky”, sending him after Hydra and having him somewhat idolize Captain America, but at the end of the day, he’s not a good dude. And it’s not like he does it in a funny way, like Deadpool (and I’ve got thoughts about that, too). He’s so “ripped from the headlines” that I’m surprised there aren’t Punisher copycats running around in the streets.

They say that every character is somebody’s favorite, but if yours is Punisher, not only do I want to know who hurt you, but I’m also afraid of you. We’ve got comic retailers pissed that Iron Man is currently a Black girl, or Captain America was a Black man, but don’t bat an eye that there’s this White dude who’s been on a killing spree since the mid 70s. I just don’t know if we need that character anymore.

Anyway, enough Vegas talk. Over at ABC, they finally locked their judges panel for the American Idol reboot and I’ve got problems with it.

The lineup on the judges panel will be Katy Perry, country star Luke Bryan, and 80s superstar Lionel Richie. And my problem is that these judges are current recording artists, so what’s to keep them from torpedoing the hopes of a contestant that they night see as competition? We already know Katy’s petty from her feud with Taylor Swift, so I wouldn’t put it past her.

When the original Idol aired, the judges were comprised of a producer, a hasbeen, and a pop music magic maker. None of them were active recording artists. The only show that has active recording artists as judges is The Voice, and notice how that show has yet to produce a household name after 13 seasons. Not even in the first season, where all eyes were on this newfangled show to see what it was all about, did the winner become a “star”. That show has always been, and will always be about the judges. You think Blake Shelton is gonna choose someone who might compete with him over a CMA? No the fuck not!

Katy’s experienced a lot of success, but I don’t know if she’s really anyone to be judging singing. Despite the fact that she’s the biggest star on the panel, and making the most money, Katy fills the Paula role, as she’s more of an entertainer than a vocalist. Luke, while he’s paid his dues in the country industry, is still a novice to stardom. Not really sure what advice he has to offer the next generation of stars. And Lionel is just there to fill that Randy Jackson, elder statesman role. If you’ll notice, the panel is missing a Simon. There’s no one there who truly understand the behind the scenes aspect of the industry. How to package an artist, how to match them with the right songs, etc. Katy has been packaged, and Lionel has written songs, but there’s no “godfather” on the panel, which I think will be to the show’s detriment.

In comic news, it was announced at NYCC yesterday that DC would be completely rebooting the “urban” Milestone properties, led by a new Static Shock series from Kyle Baker and Reginald Hudlin.

The minority pockets of comic fandom have been claiming for years that they’d support a Milestone reboot, so now it’s time for them to out their money where their mouth is. Frankly, I don’t believe them. It’s the “woke”, socially conscious thing to say, but when you’re faced with paying $3.99 a month for Static, your attitude is gonna change.

Several companies have tried to fill the void left by the Milestone books, and the only one that has come close to succeeding is Lion Forge’s current Catalyst Prime universe. While it’s still very early to tell where this imprint might go, they’ve delivered a quality product, with known creators, and even their footprint doesn’t seem to be that large. Retailers are ordering conservatively, as they, too, aren’t sure how things will shake our. Sure, Milestone will have DC Comics money behind it, but is DC giving then just enough rope with which to hang themselves? I guess time will tell, but I’m not overly optimistic about their chances. Plus, there have been so many bait & switch Milestone announcements over the years that I’ll believe it when I see the books on shelves.

Speaking of DC, there are reports that they’re backing away from their shared DC Extended Universe films, as they’ll downplay the interconnectedness going forward. While I, for one, applaud this decision, money talks, so the success or failure of Justice League will most likely dictate the future of their film universe. It’s increasingly seeming like the Flash movie will be Flashpoint, which is odd because we’re not even invested enough in the characters yet to go through a universe-changing event like that.

If you’re unfamiliar, Flashpoint was the DC Comics event that changed the DC timeline and resulted in the New 52 relaunch a few years back. Most of the DC heroes started with a clean slate, and the books picked up early in the heroes’ careers. While a Flashpoint movie wouldn’t have to be so drastic, as they haven’t really established much of that universe yet, it is interesting that they would do a soft reboot of the films so soon. My feelings is that they’ll keep what works and throw out what doesn’t. Gal Gadot ain’t going anywhere. And Aquaman is probably safe, too.

I think the biggest wild card is Affleck. It was sort of dumb for them to build a film universe around an older Batman, where the most interesting stuff about him occurred before we even meet him. I know they wanted to go all The Dark Knight Returns with his battle against Superman, and that required an older, more skilled Batman. However, Affleck and the DCEU are like a couple who’s clearly unhappy, but neither is willing to pull the trigger on a break-up. Plus, it doesn’t help that Affleck’s most recent non-DC films have been flops, so he’d be a fool to walk away from a sure thing. The films might not be universally loved, but they do make money.

Anyway, we got some character posters for Justice League this week, which is something I guess. It comes out 2 weeks after Thor: Ragnarok, yet I’ve seen almost no promotion for it, while Thor has had TV spots since late August. In fact, the only time I even remember there’s a Justice League movie coming is when I’m in the toy aisle and see those uninspired basic figures on the pegs. They’re really gonna need to pump up the hype machine in the next few weeks. With the way DC’s acting, I almost feel like they’re ready to take the L and move on to the next phase of their movie-making.

Last weekend I went to TFCon 2017, which was a Transformers convention held locally. While I had a great time finally meeting Twitter pals @briantruitt and @brock626, and catching up with my bud @FakeEyes22, the show itself was meh. Like, I can’t believe that people actually travel for that show. Imagine paying for tickets to a music festival with big name acts, only to get their and they say “Psych! Most of these are cover bands!” That’s TFCon, ’cause about 40% of the “convention floor” (AKA hotel ballroom) was nothing but 3rd party knockoff toys and Reprolabels. After all, why buy a legitimate Optimus Prime when you can buy a $70 “Supreme Leader”? I know that 3rd party stuff is popular amongst Transformers fans, but I didn’t think you could prop up a convention with it, especially since it seemed like Hasbro was starting to crack down on those knockoff peddlers. Anyway, I bought my first 3rd party Transformer, KBBMP 21+ Beetle Wasp , who is really just a large G1 Bumblebee.

Song of the Week

You know why. My a cappella group used to sing this and it was one of my favorite arrangements to sing. I tried to find our version on YouTube, but the one that’s up is the quality of hot garbage, so you get the original instead.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • Film sites are teasing that “big star” Kate Winslet is reteaming with James Cameron and joining the Avatar franchise. Sorry, but she hasn’t been a star since 1997.
  • Fast 9 has been given the release date of 4/10/20, while the Fast spin-off starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Jason Statham now has a release date of 7/26/19.
  • Grammy award-winning singer/songwriter/actress Jill Scott has been cast as the villain Lady Eve in The CW’s Black Lightning. I still feel like they’re dooming this show to fail by not connecting it to the preexisting Arrowverse.
  • OJ Simpson was released from prison last Sunday morning at midnight, after serving a 9-year term. He immediately resumed his hunt for the real killers. Just kidding. He’s reportedly staying on a golf course somewhere.

  • We got a trailer for Syfy’s Happy!, based on the Grant Morrison and Darick Robertson graphic novel of the same name. While this left me with a feeling of “What did I just watch?”, this feels like it’d be more at home on FX than Syfy.
  • It seems like Universal’s Dark Universe is falling apart, after The Bride of Frankenstein just lost its release date. The actors, including Javier Bardem and Angelina Jolie, are on hold until the script can be worked on.
  • Natalia Cordova-Buckley has been upped to series regular for season 5 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., so expect to see her yo-yoing through space this year.
  • Black superhero series Raising Dion is being developed by, and will co-star, Michael B. Jordan. The show has received a 10-episode order from Netflix.
  • Apparently there’s a Bob’s Burgers movie coming in 2020. Just like the show, I’ll have no direct interest in seeing it, but I’m sure I’ll eventually catch it on FXX one day and enjoy every minute of it.
  • Gore Verbinski, of Pirates of the Caribbean and The Ring fame, will reportedly direct Channing Tatum’s Gambit film spin-off of the X-Men franchise. Man, what kind of blackmail material does Tatum have to keep this movie in production?! I’ll bet it’s some dirt from his days as a stripper!
  • Bruce Willis’s Death Wish reboot has been moved from later this year to March 2nd, 2018. They claim it’s because the Thanksgiving film corridor is crowded, but it’s more likely the fact that a movie about an old White guy shooting up people ain’t so kosher right now. But we’ll have forgotten all about this stuff by March, so it’s cool.
  • The future of Nickelodeon’s Nicky, Ricky, Dicky & Dawn is in question, as they ain’t got no Dicky! Actor Mace Coronel (are we sure he’s not a video game character with that name?) abruptly left the show over the summer, and announced his departure on Instagram this week.
  • TNT announced that the upcoming 6th season of Major Crimes would be its last, despite the fact that it’s the highest rated show on the network. This is like when CBS initiated the Rural Purge, where they cancelled all their high-rated “bumpkin” shows because they wanted to change their image.
  • Alyssa Milano is developing her comic series Hacktivist into a TV series for The CW
  • Freshman ABC drama The Good Doctor has scored a full season order after only airing 2 episodes.
  • The Sonic the Hedgehog film has jumped from Sony to Paramount, and announced director Tim Miller (Deadpool) will now produce, as Jeff Fowler will be making his theatrical directorial debut on the film.
  • After 15 seasons, Pauley Perrette is leaving NCIS at the end of this season. In other news, NCIS has somehow been on for 15 years…

  • CBS is adding Will Ferrell-produced comedy No Activity to the All Access streaming service, to debut by end of year. However, Tim Meadows just joined the cast as the co-lead, so the show is already cancelled.
  • Larry Wilmore and Viola Davis are developing the comedy Black Don’t Crack for ABC, which sounds like an older Girlfriends reboot
  • Co-head writers Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider have left Saturday Night Live to work on a pilot for Comedy Central. Kelly also wrote for Broad City, while Schneider wrote for Master of None.

  • We also got a trailer for Hulu’s Future Man from Seth Rogen. It looks funny, but Hulu doesn’t seem like the right home for it, as it feels like a Fox show.
  • Glee‘s Mark Salling issued a plea in his child pornography case. One of the stipulations of sentencing means he’ll have to stay away from events frequented by minors, such as “video arcade facilities”. Here’s hoping he not a pedophile AND a time traveler!

So, this has been a Hell of a week. One great thing about it, though, is that today is my 5-year wedding anniversary. Yup, on October 6th, 2012, I married a girl I met on the Internet, and she hasn’t killed me yet. We’ve actually been together 9 years, but only 5 in the eyes of the District of Columbia. It has certainly been a ride. She got skinnier, I got fatter. We’ve had a kid together, which is pretty cool. Sometimes I feel like said kid gets the attention that I used to get, but I’m not supposed to be jealous of a toddler, right? RIGHT?

Anyway, when things like Vegas happen, you do realize that you’re lucky/blessed to be alive, and you look at the life you’ve built around yourself. I certainly could’ve done a lot worse, and probably not much better. Look, I was a lot better at writing this kind of stuff 9 years ago, when we were both still in the “OMG, you love breathing? I love breathing, too!” phase. Life comes along, and shit gets hard. I’m not even going to lie about that. But it’s a lot easier to handle when you’ve got a good person beside you to deal with it together. So, I think the West Family is having the West Week Ever. I love y’all!

28th Jul2017

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 7/28/17

by Will

One of the best discoveries I’ve made has been the digital subchannel Heroes & Icons. If you’re a cord cutter, then get yourself an antenna and check this thing out. My favorite aspect of it, however, is the fact that it runs a 5-hour Star Trek block six nights a week. Star Trek at 8, Star Trek: The Next Generation at 9, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine at 10, Star Trek: Voyager at 11, and Enterprise at 12. Sunday through Friday. And on Sundays they actually kick things off with Star Trek: The Animated Series at 7. I’ve pretty much watched nothing but Star Trek for the past 2 weeks. I’ve been reacquainted with favorite episodes, like TNG‘s “Chain of Command” and DS9‘s “Far Beyond the Stars”. I’ve discovered some hidden gems, like TOS‘s ” The Cloud Minders”. I’ve even discovered that I don’t hate Voyager or Enterprise as much as I thought I did.

I don’t talk about this too much, but the first 12 years or so of my life were comprised of pretty much NOTHING but Star Trek. From 1987-94, my favorite show on television was The Next Generation. When DS9 debuted, I expected it to continue my love affair, but it felt too preachy with its Space Holocaust allegory. It was in the later seasons, once the Dominion War began, that it actually ensconced itself as my favorite iteration of the franchise. By the time Voyager debuted, I had discovered comics, and they became my new mistress. While I watched about 4 hours of TNG a day in high school (Channel 20 REALLY loved playing TNG), my heart didn’t have room in it for a new Trek, so I “No time for love, Dr. Jones”‘ed Captain Janeway and her crew. Enterprise debuted when I was in college, and  I was simply too busy worried about other shit to watch Captain Quantum Leap and his crew. Plus, due to some kind of contractual fallout, Ithaca didn’t get UPN. So, since the finale of DS9, my Trekkerdom lay dormant.

But when I say “I’ve forgotten more than you’ll ever know”, that’s primarily about Star Trek. I had several editions of the Star Trek Encyclopedia, I had the Technical Manual, the Technical Journal, the Star Trek Chronology. All of it. I’ve got the figures, and the role play toys. I even created my own uniform for Halloween back in the 90s. I was all Trek, 24/7, and you couldn’t tell me shit. Over time, though, that trivia got overwritten by X-Men 1st appearance notations and the names of TNBC actresses. What I’m saying, though, is that Heroes & Icons brought it all rushing back. It’s like I’m 15 again, blowing the evening watching Star Trek episodes I’ve already seen hundreds of times already. It’s also given me new perspectives on things that completely went over my head when I was younger. For example, Sisko is the Bajorans’ Space Jesus, and that’s pretty heavy. Even he doesn’t believe it, but in the end, yup it turns out he’s Space Jesus. I’ve also got thoughts on the current state of the franchise, too.

At SDCC, we got the above trailer for Star Trek: Discovery, which will air in North America on CBS All Access (yes, Dean, I know you’ll say All Anal Access because it sucks that we have to subscribe to another service just to watch this thing). I had no interest in this show because everything I heard about it didn’t sound like Star Trek. Now, though, the more they try to sell it as a bunch of new ideas, the more it just sounds like DS9. It’s gonna be Trek with interpersonal conflict. Great. I can get down with that. Its aesthetic seems more like late-era Stargate than Trek, though – especially those Klingon designs. There are certain things, though, that still feel like they miss the mark.

Take for example the fact that the show will feature the first same-sex couple on a Star Trek series, played by Rent‘s Anthony Rapp and My So Called Life‘s Wilson Cruz. Yeah, I get that representation is important, but it bothers me that this is being done in a prequel series, set before the events of the original Star Trek. With the exception of Enterprise, this is the series that takes place the closest to our timeline, so it’s really not much of a leap to think that same-sex couples exist. Ya know what would’ve meant more to me (as a straight, cis male who really doesn’t have a dog in the race but is still opinionated)? If the show had actually been a post-Dominion War, sequel series to TNG/DS9/Voyager, and it featured a same-sex couple. Science fiction tends to go 2 ways: it’s either dystopian or it’s about HOPE. As it stands, from what we’ve seen, same-sex couples are pretty much nonexistent in the 24th century. Yeah, I’m sure they exist, but we never saw them. It seems like it would be a testament to how enduring they are to see them that far in the future as opposed to just a couple of hundred years from now, when Discovery is set.

I could also be politicizing this for my own agenda, as I really want to know what happened after the war ended. Sure, there are books and stuff, but those things aren’t canon. I feel there are so many stories to tell from that era, and I’d love to see the franchise move forward instead of dance between the raindrops of continuity in the past. It feels like they’re stalling, which is how it felt with Enterprise and even the Kelvin movies. Someone, somewhere out there has got to have a great idea as to how to move the franchise forward and I hope CBS/Paramount finds them sooner rather than later.

SDCC Bullet Points

The bulk of San Diego Comic Con took place over the weekend, and here’s some stuff that debuted:

  • Michelle Pfeiffer is Hank Pym’s lost wife, Janet Van Dyne, in Ant-Man and The Wasp
  • The Captain Marvel film will be set in the 90s, and introduce the Skrulls to the MCU. Oh, and Nick Fury will have 2 eyes

  • We got this trailer for Ready Player One, which was hella polarizing. It seems a lot of folks hated the book on which it’s based. If you ask me, it just looks like a cinematic version of this commercial:

  • Comic creator Frank Miller, of 300 and Sin City fame, is writing a Superman: Year One story with art from John Romita Jr. Nothing about that sentence makes me want to open my wallet.

  • We got a new trailer for X-Men spinoff, The Gifted. I’m actually surprised they used established mutants like Polaris and Thunderbird. And is that actually Fenris?! I want to like this, but it just looks so…Fox.

  • We got a new trailer for The Defenders on Netflix. I get that this is the culmination of all the Marvel Netflix shows, but it didn’t do much for me since I’ve only seen 2 out of 5 seasons so far. There’s no way I’ll get caught up by this premiere date, but I’m sure it’ll mean more to me once I’m up to date. Kinda tired of the hallway fight trope, though.

  • Legends of Tomorrow is such a fun show. It started kinda dry, but got so much better last year. It reminds me of a syndicated Saturday afternoon show, but in a good way.

  • This Justice League trailer did very little for me. It’s like, sure, Wonder Woman’s cool, but we JUST saw her. Aquaman seems cool, but he’s not really “Aquaman”. I’ll see it, but I ain’t looking forward to it. No, for me, November belongs to:

  • An elementary school friend and her husband did a Saga cosplay and KILLED IT!

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • We’ll have to wait a bit longer for our annual dose of Abbi and Ilana, as Comedy Central has moved the Broad City season 4 premiere from August 23rd to September 13th
  • A few months ago, it was reported that Amy Schumer would be starring in a Barbie movie. Well, I made fun of that, she blocked me on Twitter, and then eventually dropped out of the role. Now they’re reporting that Anne Hathaway is up for the role, which is somehow more bewildering than the Schumer choice…
  • Justin Bieber cancelled the rest of his Purpose world tour because he was “committing his life to Christ”. This pissed off his crew, as they were left without jobs. He, then, proceeded to run over a paparazzo with his truck while leaving church. I swear, you can’t make this shit up!
  • Amazon’s Jeff Bezos has replaced Bill Gates as the richest man in the world.
  • Beginning September 29th, Hulu will begin streaming the Warner Bros shows that comprised ABC’s TGIF lineup, including Perfect Strangers, Family Matters, Full House, Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper, and Step By Step. Meanwhile, Netflix is feverishly developing Perfecter Strangers, Family Still Matters, Chillin’ With Mr. Cooper, and Step By Step By Step.
  • I haven’t seen a non-country music video in years, but apparently they still make them, as Katy Perry will host the 2017 MTV Video Music Awards
  • Speaking of the VMAs, following the lead of the MTV Movie Awards, they’re doing away with the gendered categories Best Male/Best Female Artist, to be replaced by Artist of the Year. Also, in a bit of pandering,  they’ve created the Best Fight Against the System, for those artists who have called for folks to #RESIST and all that.
  • Though I felt its farcical nature wore a bit thin during its first season, TBS’s Angie Tribeca has been renewed for season 4.
  • Smallville‘s Tom Welling is joining Fox’s Lucifer and *yawn* that’s really all there is to say about that.
  • Netflix has ordered 20 episodes of the animated series Disenchantment from The Simpsons creator Matt Groening. It will features the voices of Nat Faxon, Eric Andre, and Abbi Jacobson. Apparently it’s about elves and trolls and shit. Not really my bag, baby.
  • Person of Interest‘s Michael Emerson has been cast in a mysterious role for Arrow‘s 6th season. So, he’s probably Deathstroke’s accountant or something.
  • Because SyFy just doesn’t care anymore, and because they need something to air between Sharknados, Wynonna Earp has been renewed for a 3rd season.
  • The Wonder Woman sequel has a release date of December 13th, 2019
  • Apple discontinued the iPod Nano and Shuffle models, as they are the last remaining models that cannot run iOS apps.
  • Current Superman Henry Cavill grew a mustache for his role in Mission Impossible 37: Mission Harder, which will have to be digitally removed for Justice League reshoots. Ya know, the movie where he’s supposed to be dead, but is actually the worst kept secret in Hollywood.
  • Lionel Richie and Charlie Puth are in talks to join ABC’s American Idol reboot as judges. Yeah, that’s funny. Unless they’re coaching the contestants on how to get caught cheating while dancing on the ceiling, I’m not sure what Richie’s old ass brings to the table. And Puth is simply too new to be judging anybody.
  • New James Bond film in 2019. Nobody knows who’s playing him or directing the thing, but it’s coming. Yesiree, Bob!
  • Since they’re handing out cinematic universes like chicken samples at a food court, the John Wick universe will be expanded by the female-focused film, Ballerina.
  • Michael Phelps raced a CGI shark and people felt betrayed. He’s the friggin’ son of Poseidon! He can’t race ACTUAL sharks! There would be civil unrest beneath the surface!

With DC being the political capital of the country, it’s hard for a news person to stand out because the place is crawling with them. That wasn’t true, however, for Jim Vance. Everyone knew him and the man was an institution. Coming to NBC4 in 1969, he was one of the first Black anchors in a major news market. He anchored for over 4 decades, ingraining himself into the families of those who watched him.

When I was a toddler, I was really into the local news (I’ve always said I’m regressing as I get older), and I could name every anchor on every local newscast. And this was a golden age of DC news. You had the great Glenn Brenner, you had Maury Povich before he became a talk show host, and you had Vance. There was something about him that made him seem like your aunt’s cool boyfriend. He was an old man with a hoop earring. We used to laugh about it, but secretly I was hating because I knew I’d never be able to pull that off at his age. He rode motorcycles and laughed inappropriately at news stories he found funny. He was a guy who made you glad to watch the news, especially as the cries of Fake News! grew louder.

Back in May, Vance announced that he had been diagnosed with cancer, and it advanced rather quickly. He passed away last Saturday morning, and the announcement touched all corners of the DC area (no, I’m not calling it the DMV!). It was touching to see all of the tributes to him on the local stations, from those who were colleagues and competitors. Last Saturday night, News4 spent the entire 11 PM news talking about Vance and what he meant to DC. This might sound crazy, but it was so refreshing to watch the news without a single drop of actual news being reported. No Trump b.s., no local murders, not even a weather report. Just 30 minutes about a man who we basically grew up with in our homes. I always kinda took him for granted because you just expected he would be there every evening, but I’ve certainly missed him since he’s gone. I know he won’t mean much to those of you outside the DC viewing area, but believe me when I say that everybody here knew who Jim Vance was, and we’re all going to miss him in one way or another. For that reason, Jim Vance had the West Life Ever.

 

21st Apr2017

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 4/21/17

by Will


Star Wars Celebration (I can’t say that without thinking of Dave Chappelle’s Rick James yelling “It’s a celebration, bitches!”) happened in Florida last weekend, and we got our first teaser trailer for Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Folks seemed to like it alright. I’ve never claimed to be the biggest Star Wars fan, but nothing about this really gave me a Force Boner or anything. That’s probably because Rogue One left such a bad taste in my mouth. Anyway, I’m sure I’ll see it, but it’s not really on my radar.

In other movie “news”, we got the track listing for Awesome Mix Vol 2 from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2., which comes out today. Is it just me, or is it weird that Mama Quill gave Peter mixtapes of all the songs that played while she was banging dudes in Camaros? Come on – she was totally that chick! Anyway, there are no real surprises here, as it seems to be in-line thematically with the first volume. Personally, I’m ecstatic that “Come A Little Bit Closer” will be introduced to a new generation, as I’m a huge fan of Jay and the Americans (check out “Cara Mia” if you’ve never heard it).

This rumor came out a few weeks ago, but it kinda floated under my radar: apparently Warner Bros wants to release 4 Batman-centered films in 2019 to commemorate the 80th anniversary of Detective Comics. This slate would include Nightwing, Gotham City Sirens, the Joss Whedon Batgirl, and the oft-delayed The Batman. Nice idea, but there’s no way this happens. DC just doesn’t have its shit together enough to pull this off. Marvel could do it, but they would’ve been planning it since 2012. It’s already 2017 and they expect to crank out 4 movies in 2 years? Shit ain’t happening.

Bring on the teen angst train, as we’ve got two more comic-based series just dripping with it! First up is Cloak and Dagger on Freeform, which looks like the Freeformiest show that ever Freeformed. It’ll be right at home between the show about the deaf girl and the show about the foster kids. I’ve never been a huge Cloak and Dagger fan, but the series follows teen runaways Tandy Bowen and Tyrone Johnson, who were kidnapped and injected with an experimental drug. The drug left Tandy (Dagger) with “light daggers”, while Tyrone (Cloak) has a mystical cloak that transports people and things to a dark dimension. Oh, and there’s that sweet, sweet interracial love/Jungle Fever aspect to things. Based on the trailer, it’s gonna focus more on the love thing than the power thing, which is understandable since powers are expensive on a weekly TV budget. I haven’t heard if this is actually considered part of the MCU, but it’s nice to see the Roxxon sign at the end, so there are clear ties to the universe itself.

The angst doesn’t end there, though, kids! We also got a trailer for Syfy’s Krypton series (which has since been yanked down) – ya know, the one that nobody asked for. It’s hard for me to get excited about Krypton when very little about that planet has ever seemed appealing. It’s most recently been painted as a cold, stoic, science-based society. And since they don’t have our sun, it means they’re powerless. Here’s what I don’t get about the trailer: the show takes place approximately 200 years prior to Man of Steel (I guess making it the first series to be an official part of the DCEU), but the monologue is of Kal El’s grandfather leaving a message for him. Um, how does he KNOW his grandson’s name is Kal El if he hasn’t been born yet? Anyway, it’s about Grandpa El, who happens to be a sexy, CW-ish twenty something, trying to restore honor to the disgraced House of El. The effects look nice (AKA expensive), but nothing about this show makes me want to see it.

There’s some laughter coming from a different comic-based series, however, in the form of Freeform’s New Warriors. I mentioned it a few weeks ago, but it’s been confirmed that Kevin Biegel of Enlisted/Cougar Town will be the showrunner, and we got a confirmation of the roster. Led by Squirrel Girl (who has never been a New Warrior in the comics, but I won’t harp on that), the team is comprised of Speedball, Night Thrasher, Microbe, Mister Immortal, and Debrii. I’m familiar with career Warriors Speedball and Night Thrasher, but I don’t know anything about the others. Considering Mr. Immortal and Squirrel Girl are Great Lakes Avengers characters, this is something of a hybrid team.

I’m the furthest thing from a foodie, but I love a good dairy-based gimmick drink, and this week featured TWO of them! First up, I’d read online that Burger King had been testing a Froot Loops Shake at certain East Coast locations, with plans to roll it out nationally today. Well, I traveled around until I found one that had it early (well, I didn’t travel too far – it was down the street from my apartment), as I had to see what the fuss was all about. I had heard it described as made from vanilla soft serve, with Froot Loops pieces, topped off with a sweet, syrupy drizzle. Sounds exotic, right? WRONG. Whoever thought of this probably got a bonus for the idea, but it lacks in the execution. It’s basically a vanilla shake with edible confetti in it. From Loops don’t really have a strong fruity flavor to them, so it’s not like it’s rubbing off into the soft serve. And when you do get some Froot Loop chunks through the straw, they just taste like flavorless corn cereal. I didn’t taste any kind of drizzle, and I kept waiting for the WOW to kick in. It never did. I drank this so that you don’t have to and, trust me, you really don’t have to.

Next up was the Starbucks Unicorn Frappuccino. I hadn’t even heard of the thing until Wednesday morning, when everyone and their mom was talking about it. Looking at it, I was reminded of the Birthday Cake Frappuccino that comes out in March (I remember this because it was out at the time Evie was born). I LIVED on those things for the two weeks or so that they were in stores, so I was expecting this to be more of the same. I wasn’t sure what flavor this one was supposed to be, but there were certainly visual similarities. Anyway, after dinner Wednesday night, I snuck off to the corner Starbucks to try it out. You’ve heard of a Butterface, right? Well, this is a Buttertaste. It looks cool and everything, but the taste…THE TASTE! Its marketing emphasizes that it magically changes flavors while you drink it, but I could never really nail down what those flavors were supposed to be. There was a pervasive muskiness to it, making me feel like I’d basically sucked off a real unicorn. Of course, that would be silly – everyone knows you’ve got to buy a unicorn dinner before it lets you do that! Then, near the end, the muskiness gives way to a hyper berry taste, reminiscent of the Blue Raspberry that candy scientists seemed to have discovered in 1992. At no point in the drink was it what I would call “enjoyable”, and even the whipped cream on top was disappointing. As far as I’m concerned, this drink can fuck off back to Narnia where it came from.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • Bill O’Reilly was fired from Fox News following sexual harassment allegations. See, if he’d told Billy Bush he only grabbed ‘em by the pussy, he’d be President by now!
  • Nintendo officially ended production on the NES Classic, followed by rumors that an SNES Classic is coming later this year
  • Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck were announced as the directors for Captain Marvel. I’ve never seen anything they’ve done (Half Nelson, episodes of Billions, and The Affair), so I’ve got no real opinion right now
  • Speaking of Marvel films, Black Panther wrapped production this week, as Hollywood braces for the return of every living Black actor
  • Will Smith is in talks to take on the classic Robin Williams role of The Genie in Guy Ritchie’s live action Aladdin adaptation. Obviously, Jaden Smith will probably get the role of Aladdin.
  • Stranger Things co-star Shannon Purser came out as bisexual on Twitter. Well, she’s bisexual in real life. She just used Twitter to announce it.
  • Director James Gunn announced that Guardians of the Galaxy 3 would be the final iteration of this lineup of the team
  • Black-ish was sold into off-network syndication, launching in Fall 2018
  • Jane The Virgin’s Gina Rodriguez will voice Carmen Sandiego in a new animated series coming to Netflix
  • Steve Harvey will host a revival of Showtime At the Apollo for Fox
  • Fate of the Furious debuted to $532 million internationally, beating the record-setting $529 million earned by Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  • With its original pilot rejected by Fox a few years ago, Joe Hill’s comic Locke & Key will have a new pilot filmed for Hulu
  • The X-Files has been renewed for a 10-episode 11th season. I couldn’t even make it through the last 6-episode batch they gave us, so I think this is a pass for me.

For the past 6 seasons, I have pretty much hate-watched HBO’s Girls. I hated Lena Dunham’s dumpy, Play-Doh body which was constantly on nude display. I hated all of her character Hannah’s “problems”. I hated her boyfriend Adam. I had convinced myself that I was really just watching, hoping that the characters would eventually be hit by a truck or something. Then, this season came along. Even through all my hate, I had to admit that this was a pretty strong season. From Hannah’s odd interaction with a bestselling author to Marnie finally realizing she sucks at life, there were some great episodes of television to be found in this season of the show. I was also forced to admit things about myself.

First off, I always knew I liked Shoshana because she had enough sense to know that she deserved better than the friends with which she’d found herself. And I definitely missed her once she decided to finally distance herself from them.  I also realized there was much more to the Ray character and, while they didn’t exactly put a bow on it, I’m glad they led us to believe that he had found a happy ending. Even a character as originally unlikable as Elijah had some strong development this season, and he was truly missed in the finale, even though this chapter of his story had come to a close. As I already admitted in my Get Out review, I had to come to terms with my crush on Allison Williams and, by extension, Marnie Michaels. Yeah, she sucked at life, but she seemed like the one out of the four who had Tony Starked her way into that situation; she was the cause of her own problems. Once she began to realize that, the character held more promise. And I realized I hated Jessa because she reminded me too much of girls I’d hooked up with in college: damaged, tattooed, pseudo-junkies who are lucky to still be alive. And I guess Hannah reminded me of girls I’d hooked up with post college. Yeah, I hated a lot about Girls because, I guess, I hated a lot about myself.

This Sunday saw the series finale of the show, and I wasn’t quite sure I was ready for it. After a season that had given us a pregnant Hannah, but also showcased the dissolution of the group’s friendship, I didn’t really know how they could “end” the story. I was further distraught when I read an article last week saying that Jessa and Shosh’s final appearances had been in the penultimate episode that had just aired. While I would miss them in the final half hour, I had to admit that their chapters had also come to a close.

When we get to the finale, there’s a five-month time jump, where Marnie and Hannah are living in a remote house upstate, raising Hannah’s baby, Grover. Yes, that’s what she named him. Anyway, it was 30 minutes about what it means to be happy, but also what it means to be an adult and a parent. I like to think that Hannah finally grew up once she realized that Grover wasn’t another problem that she could simply run away from. The entire episode, she’s freaking out because Grover won’t breastfeed, but in the final seconds he finally takes to her breast. The look on her face is a mix of relief and maturity. It was then that I realized the show had to end at that point, as Hannah was no longer a girl. The entire series had been about millennial drama, as they skirted adulthood, but those times were over. The title Girls no longer applied to Hannah because she was now a Woman, with all the responsibilities that entailed. I used to worry about Hannah, and I sure as Hell worried about Grover when we learned she was pregnant. After Sunday’s finale, though, I think they’re gonna be OK. It was a finale that I had to give some thought to, but it didn’t leave me unfulfilled like Don Draper creating a Coke jingle only to end up hocking tax prep software six months later. For this reason, Girls had the West Week Ever.

07th Apr2017

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 4/7/17

by Will

 

So, last night I became the last person in America to see Get Out. As I joked on Twitter, I’m totally getting a divorce now. No, I kid, I kid. Like everyone said, it’s really good, though it may be a tad overrated. Just a tad. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, Get Out is the story of Black man Chris Williams who joins his White girlfriend Rose Armitage on a visit to her parents’ home for the weekend. And then crazy shit starts to happen. I can see what the appeal of the film is. I really can. But I’ve got to level with you: this movie hit a little too close to home. Yeah, I know that one Black reader I have is like “That’s what you get for datin’ them White girls!” No, seriously, I probably would’ve ended up just like Chris. First of all, I have a thing for Allison Williams. Even as bitchy, self-centered Marnie on Girls, I still have a thing for her. When her father fell from grace, I just wanted to tell her everything would be all right. So I would’ve taken the bait. In addition to that, I’ve dated that kind of family. Yes, in those cases, you’re dating the whole family. They had the same socioeconomic status as the Armitages, their friends were the same way, with the same weird questions. Sometimes you don’t realize how Black you are until that’s ALL you are to some folks. What some folks saw as just fun entertainment is something that I kinda lived. They’d do weird shit, where I felt like they were testing me. I remember the first time I went to stay for the weekend, they put me in a room with, like, three Rolexes just laying about like they were nothing. No, I don’t think they would’ve killed me, but I can totally see how something like this could happen. Meanwhile, I’m here thinking that I need to get me a friend as good as TSA Rod. I’ve got a lot to unpack from that movie right now. I’d love to have a conversation with Jordan Peele, ’cause that movie came from a place of experience. I wonder if I’d ever see it again, or if it’s like Bamboozled, where it’s just gonna make me hate White people for a while. Naw, I can’t hate y’all. You’re the only ones who read my site!

In movie news, it was reported that Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg are set to produce a film based on the Image comic Invincible. I used to read the series back when I worked at Diamond and got the hardcovers for free, and I really loved it. It follows Mark Grayson, who’s half human and half Viltrumite. His father, who’s full Vultrimite, is the hero known as Omni-Man, and Mark seems to have inherited a lot of his powers. Mark becomes the hero Invincible and a bunch of other stuff happens. Hey, what do you want from me? I only read the first 48 issues, and that was, like, 7 years ago. The thing I like about the series is that Mark is allowed to grow and change. People die and stay dead. In comics, there’s always the approach where they give the semblance of change without actual change, but that’s not how Invincible works. I mean, he’s currently married with a kid, and they haven’t resorted to having the Devil erase it all, unlike some heroes… Anyway, I like the idea of a movie, but I don’t know if Rogen and Goldberg are the guys to do it. After all, they’re the team behind AMC’s Preacher – a show that I’ve yet to really hear anything good about. Mainly, I heard season one was just boring. So, I guess we’ll just have to see what they bring to the table.

In other movie news, Scarlett Johansson’s live action Ghost In The Shell adaptation bombed, and the congregation rejoiced. There was a lot of controversy surrounding the film because it was felt that the main character, played by Johansson, was whitewashed. They felt she should’ve been portrayed by an Asian actress, and even the studio is now saying the movie failed to meet expectations due to the whitewashing controversy. I’m really not educated enough to weigh in on this one. I mean, I’d always heard that Japanese identity politics went a little deeper than we might think, which is why their cartoon characters always have blue hair and shit, but never really look Asian. But again, before I say something uninformed, I’m gonna bow out of this one. For a better understanding of the controversy, check out my friend Jenn’s post on the film.

Speaking of outrage, there was a Pepsi commercial that ruffled some feathers this week. I’d post the video, but Pepsi is trying to scrub all reference to the thing. In it, Kendall Jenner breaks away from a fashion shoot to join a peaceful protest, capping it off by offering a stern looking cop a Pepsi. He accepts, takes a swig, and everyone rejoices. The problem, however, is that the ad was kind of tone deaf. It seemed to trivialize the act of protesting, and to add insult to injury, it installed a pretty White girl as the face of the protest. Now, I saw the thing, and it was hamfisted, but I’m not sure it was worth all the threaded tweets and thinkpieces that it generated. Like, I get why folks didn’t like it, but I’m not sure I’m “woke” enough to see the whole matter. Anyone wanna weigh in on this one?

In television news, Disney Channel officially ordered Raven’s Home to series. Serving as the sequel to That’s So Raven, it features Raven Symone reprising her role as Raven Baxter, only now she’s the divorced mom of twin tweens. She also lives with her best friend, Chelsea, who’s ALSO a divorced single mom. Things start to get crazy, though, when Raven’s kids start to exhibit her psychic powers. See, that was always my thing with that show. Sure, I was too old for it when it was a hit, but I love a good tween TV show. That said, I feel like Raven and her friends could’ve had zany adventures without the whole psychic powers gimmick. I mean, the kids of iCarly didn’t need superpowers in order to be entertaining. The psychic stuff made it too much like a mystical tween Three’s Company which, on paper, sounds perfect, but isn’t that great in execution. Anyway, I just typed all this to justify posting a pic of costar Anneliese Van Der Pol. This whole thing just sounds like Fuller House with powers. I’ve got no nostalgia for the original show, so I doubt I’ll be checking this out.

In other TV news, Freeform has ordered New Warriors to series, featuring fan favorite character Squirrel Girl. I’ve got to admit that I know next to nothing about that character except that she was the nanny to Jessica Jones and Luke Cage’s daughter, Dani. I know she was a Great Lakes Avenger, but she was never a New Warrior. Still, they’ve been trying to find a vehicle for that character FOREVER, so I guess they finally figured it out. Based on how WB/DC has handled Powerless, I’m not too eager to see another comedy set in a comic book universe. The one bright spot in the whole thing is that Kevin Biegel is rumored to be the showrunner. Not only does he follow me on Twitter, but he’s the creator of the Fox series Enlisted (which I loved), and he co-created Cougar Town. Knowing that, I think the show is in good hands. I still feel weird about being a 35 year old man watching Freeform. It’s like you’re paying for The CW. The news, however, makes me sad that The Middle is still going. If you didn’t know, a few years ago, when it looked like the writing was on that wall for that show, Eden Sher had a meeting with Marvel. While we don’t really know what was discussed, her name was thrown around in the same discussions of Squirrel Girl. With The Middle already renewed for next season, though, that takes her out of the running. Sucks because I think Sher’s perky, Sue Heck personality would be perfect for Squirrel Girl.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • Barry Manilow came out as gay, which makes me realize that he’s actually been singing about Man D all these years…
  • Speaking of gay, on Doctor Who it was revealed that The Doctor’s latest female companion, Bill, is gay. I mean, her name is “Bill”, so, surprise?
  • NBC ordered 2 additional episodes of the Will & Grace revival, bringing the total up to 12.
  • Also in the Department of Things We Don’t Need, there are apparently outlines for 14 more Transformers movies


I’ve written about my love of The Undertaker a few times here on the site. Basically, he’s a relic of a bygone era in professional wrestling – an era of kayfabe, when enemies wouldn’t fly on the same planes together, or be seen hanging out together at IHOP. He’s from a time when people had flashy names and in-ring gimmicks to set them apart. The industry has changed a lot since then, but you could always depend on Taker. If I were to be a professional wrestler tomorrow, my in-ring name would be Bruce Williamson. That’s how they do it now. Other business ventures came along, like Total Divas, which even further blurred the lines between real and fake, but you could always depend on Taker.

In recent years, he’s basically been a part-timer. Ever since The Streak was broken, there wasn’t really much need for him to be around. The mystique was kind of gone by that point. But, like clockwork, he still showed up to Wrestlemania and did his job. In my heart, I knew the end was near. I’d always said that, given some advance warning, I’d even try to attend his final show. He means that much to me. Well, I didn’t even get to watch his final appearance, which was last Sunday at Wrestlemania 33. The card looked weak, and I felt I had better shit to do. Little did I realize I’d be missing history in the making. The Undertaker jobbed to Roman Reigns, narrowly missing out on his 100th pay per view victory. While the rumors of retirement had been floating for years, no one was ready for what would happen next. He donned his signature coat, gloves, and hat, and took one last look at the crowd. Then, he removed them, placed them in a pile in the center of the ring, and walked away. He kissed his wife, pretty much breaking character, and proceeded to walk up the ramp, where he was lowered until he disappeared. As the crew dismantled the ring, they refused to move his belongings – a gesture of respect to the man who brought us all nearly 30 years of entertainment. I hate that I wasn’t there, but I especially hate that I didn’t even watch it. Sure, in this technological age we can always find what we’re looking for, but I feel like I let him down. He doesn’t know me, doesn’t give a shit about me, but I know him, and I thank him. So, with that in mind, Mark Calaway, AKA The Undertaker had the West Week Ever.

23rd Sep2016

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 9/23/16

by Will

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WWE Edit

So I started a new job last week, and it has drastically changed my life. I used to roll into work whenever I wanted, blog, tweet, the works! Now everything is blocked and they are kicking my ass. I feel like I’m gradually losing my grasp on pop culture, but I’m doing my best to hang on. So, let’s see if I’ve still got it, huh?

I had no time to watch movies this week because in the world of television it was PREMIERE WEEK! New shows! Returning shows! Bad shows! Good shows!

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On Monday, I caught Kevin Can Wait on CBS. Yeah, yeah, I know it’s not the cool kid thing to do, but I actually really liked The King of Queens, and I think I’m the only person, besides Adam Sandler, still championing James’s career. In the show, James is a retired cop who’s trying to get used to civilian life. It follows the fat schlub/hot wife sitcom formula, with Childrens Hospital‘s Erinn Hayes as his wife. In the pilot, James meets his daughter’s effeminate fiance and can’t deal. Oh, and there’s a role for his real life brother, Gary Valentine, who happens to be in most Kevin James productions. At the end of the day, it’s serviceable, but not great. It’s basically Kevin James starring in Last Man Standing. Swap out James for Tim Allen, and this easily could’ve been a spec script for that show. There’s not a lot on Monday nights, so I might stick with it, but I won’t enjoy it. It might end up like Rules of Engagement: not very good, but kinda manages to be decent background noise for 7 seasons.

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Tuesday night gave us the return of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which had been heavily promoted because they were introducing the latest incarnation of Marvel antihero Ghost Rider. This version, with the alter ego of Robbie Reyes, drives a supercharged Charger powered by the Spirit of Vengeance. So, he’s really more like Ghost Driver than Ghost Rider. Ah, semantics. A lot of folks thought it was a great episode. I, however, did not. I actually loved the Robbie Reyes Ghost Rider in the comics, but seeing him onscreen did nothing to energize a show as weak as Agents. I just don’t think that he fits tonally. They spent all this time facing Inhumans and now they’re fighting demons? I guess they’ve got to diversify their portfolio, but it just seems like a leap to me. I also hate the whole “We’ve gotta eventually get the band back together” vibe of the season, since they’ve been scattered across the organization. Some folks online remarked that it felt like an entirely new show, but I’m not sure that’s a good thing. Based on the ratings, which were about 1.5 million viewers lower than last season’s premiere, I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the final season. Still, the show has way outlasted my initial projections.

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Wednesday brought 2 delightful new treats: Lethal Weapon and Designated Survivor. Now, I have a confession to make: I’ve never seen Lethal Weapon. In fact, I think I’ve only seen the 4th one. That’s the one from that week Jet Li was famous, right? Yeah, DVDs were just hitting the scene, and my freshman year roommate bought it. So, I’ve seen that one. Never seen the original recipe, though. So, I can’t tell if they nailed the characters or not in the TV adaptation. What I will say is that I loved what they did with them. In my mind, this show was just Fastlane: 15 Years Later. If you’re not familiar, Fastlane was a one-hour action comedy on Fox back in 2002, created by McG of the Charlie’s Angels reboot fame. Starring Bill Bellamy and Peter Facinelli as undercover cops who took orders from Tiffani-Amber Theissen, it was hot women, fast cars, and a hot soundtrack. It was the Foxiest Fox show of the early ’00s. It only lasted one season, and I loved the HELL out of it. I have the whole show on both legal and illegal DVDs. I loved it that much. Anyway, if they had been allowed to age naturally, I feel like they would’ve evolved into Damon Wayans’s Murtaugh and Clayne Crawford’s Riggs. Anyway, Murtaugh’s coming back on the job following a heart attack and he’s paired with recently widowed Riggs, who clearly has a deathwish. Can they get along? Will hilarity ensue? Well, you’ll have to tune in to see, but I thoroughly enjoyed what I watched. I will be back next week.

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Next, ABC gave us Kiefer Sutherland in Designated Survivor. Basically, during the State of the Union, one cabinet member is designated to stay behind in case something drastic happens. Well, it does, as the Capitol blows up (Man, between BvS and this show, Hollywood REALLY hates the Capitol this year), killing EVERYONE. So Kiefer, who had just that morning been fired as the head of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, finds himself thrust into the role of President of the United States. Nobody thinks he’s qualified for the job, Kiefer included. Meanwhile, there are a few subplots. Who is FBI agent Maggie Q looking for in the rubble? Why is Kiefer’s son selling drugs in da clurb? Was this whole thing orchestrated by some unseen force? It’s funny to watch because we spent 8 years getting to know Kiefer as Impossible White Man Jack Bauer. There was nothing he couldn’t do, so it’s kinda strange to watch him be such a pussy. Right now, I’m pretending that Jack has amnesia and that he’ll regain his memory and skills by season’s end. There are glimpses of Jack that sneak out, such as Kiefer’s confrontation with the Iranian (?) leader who seems to be trying to take advantage of the situation. He threatened the dude, and it was like Jack was back with us in the flesh. But it was not to be, as he returned to his meek self following the meeting. Still, it’s a suspenseful hour, and Kiefer has been the king of TV suspense for the past 15 years, so I’m all in for this.

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Finally, last night gave us the premiere of Pitch on Fox, focusing on Ginny Baker, who will be the first woman to play major league baseball. In the series, Baker gets called up from the minors to start for the Padres and she BOMBS. Meanwhile, we get flashbacks to how she came to be where she is. Her discovery of baseball, her refining her skills – all while her overbearing father was behind her. Apparently his major league dreams flamed out and, when he saw that his son wasn’t going to follow in his footsteps, he focused on his more talented daughter. It’s funny to me that after 30 years, there’s still something that could be considered a “Fox show”. Like, it’s an ingredient that can’t be shaken. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, but there are some projects that would only work on Fox, and this is one of them. It was a good hour, and it ended with quite the twist (seriously, between this and NBC’s This Is Us, it appears that weird twists are en vogue this season), but I don’t know how long it could last. If they went into it as a Done In One, I could really embrace it. But if they’re trying to build a franchise out of this show, I just don’t think there’s much there. Still, I enjoyed Mark-Paul Gosselaar acting like the asshole we always knew Zack Morris would grow up to be. I’ve got nothing else going on Thursdays at 9, so I’ll stick with it for now.

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In movie news, we got our first glimpse of the Power Rangers movie Zords in these new character posters. I have no clue what I’m looking at. Seriously, are they even still dinosaurs? I can make out the Mastodon’s tusks and that’s about it. The rest is just so…”Bayformers”. It was also announced that Bill Hader would be voicing Zordon’s assistant Alpha 5. Wow, this movie is the surprise that keeps on surprising. The trailer will debut next month at New York Comic-Con.

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Speaking of Power Rangers, the Yellow Ranger was mysteriously recast for Power Rangers Ninja Steel. Though the entire cast was introduced last month at Power Morphicon, it appears that Chantz Simpson (that CAN’T be his real name!) has left the production. His role has been recast with Nico Greetham. I find this casting interesting because a lot of folks had pointed out that this would be the first season without a single White member of the team. It was basically the Diversity Rangers, which was unprecedented. But with the casting of Greetham, we’ve got a White guy again. I wonder if there was some pressure for them to do that. Anyway, this follows a long tradition of recast Yellow Rangers, as it happened in Mighty Morphin (Trini was originally Latina), it happened in Lost Galaxy, and it supposedly happened in RPM.

Recently I’ve been talking a lot about country music on here, but that’s really because it’s the only music I keep up with these days. I can’t tell you anything about the pop charts, but I can name Maren Morris’s latest song (“80s Mercedes”) and I listen to Bobby Bones every morning. I’ve always loved pop, but I’ve also always loved country. When I was a baby, I used to have WMZQ playing next to my crib and it stuck with me. In fact, my migration to pop was a slow one. It started with soft rock, “at work radio”, and then made its way to boybands and Britney. But it wasn’t always like that. When I started dating Lindsay, the country came roaring back, as that’s pretty much all she listened to. For a while, I could juggle the pop and the country, but lately it’s pretty much all country these days. Anyway, this is a long intro for me to say that I’ve got a LOT of thoughts on “Forever Country”, the mash-up song released to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Country Music Association.

The video for “Forever Country” was released this week, and it’s a medley of John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads”, Willie Nelson’s “On The Road Again”, and Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You”. The song is sung by 30 of country’s hottest stars, like Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert, and more. I also appreciated that they included Darius Rucker and Charley Pride to add some diversity. There are, however, some glaring omissions: Where’s Kenny Rogers? Where’s GARTH?! That last one is even more odd, as Garth’s wife Trisha is present on the track. I thought maybe it was a scheduling conflict, but I’ve read that he’s against the platforms where the song will be released, such as YouTube, iTunes, and Spotify (his songs aren’t on any of those services). I’ve got a confession to make: I’ve never really liked Garth, so it’s not a huge loss to me. I missed the Garth Brooks era the same way I missed the WWE Attitude Era. By that point, I was knee deep in Ace of Base. The only reason I even know “Friends in Low Places” is because drunk White people love to sing it once “Don’t Stop Believin'” goes off. But if you’re tackling the biggest stars of the past 50 years, you’ve GOTTA have Garth. It’s just incomplete without him.

Now, the video itself is a frenetic mess. It moves too quickly. There’s not enough focus on each contributor. It honestly makes me dizzy. Plus, it’s obvious it was just some green screen thrown together for whenever the artists were free to come in and film their parts. I mean, there’s no way Blake and Miranda were in the same room together. So, I like the idea of the song, especially since it allows Dolly to reclaim her song; it always kinda bothered me that everyone thought of it as a Whitney Houston song, but Dolly cashed all those royalty checks, so I’m sure she’s cool with it. They do a good job mixing the three songs, and it’s not something treacly like “We Are The World” or “Let The Music Heal Your Soul”. The video could’ve been a lot better, though.

Things You Might’ve Missed This Week

  • Season THIRTY-THREE of Survivor premiered. You did this, America. You only have yourselves to blame.
  • Brangelina powered down into its divided forms of “Brad” and “Angelina”, as Jolie filed for divorce from Pitt.
  • 80s heart throb Corey Feldman had an emotional breakdown after the internet had a field day with his performance on The Today Show.
  • On Empire, they killed off the White girl. Poor Rhonda never really had a chance.
  • The Big Bang Theory kicked off what is likely its final season. And the “real nerds” rejoiced.
  • Buckle up, Puddin’ – Margot Robbie will host the season premiere of Saturday Night Live on October 1st
  • Two of my recent favorites – Better Late Than Never and Odd Mom Out – scored renewals this week. (Thanks for the tip, @jrwells82!)
  • CBS’s The Case of JonBenet Ramsey proposed that her older brother was her killer, and it was covered up by the parents

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So, I don’t talk about her on here, mainly because I basically have to beg her to read this thing, but today we’re gonna talk about my wife.

When we first met, I was much skinnier and used to run. The running started in college, when my friend Eric and I used to take midnight jogs to Wegmans (What? It was Ithaca and nothing else was open). I kept running even when I came home, but it decreased somewhat. I had an ex who did marathons (though you wouldn’t know it to look at her. Bada-bing!), and I would run with her to help her train. After awhile, though, the running tapered off. I met Lindsay and she was the type of person who would only run if being chased, and even then it was a crapshoot.

So, fast forward 8 years later. I have gained…some pounds, and now Lindsay runs. She started about a year ago, just starting out with a Couch to 5K program. She had done one in the past, as we ran the Color in Motion 5K Run some years ago. Still, she hadn’t really stuck with it after that, so she was giving it another shot. Well, Couch to 5K turned into actual 5Ks, and then 10Ks, and then 10 milers. She gets up every morning at a time when I’m usually going to bed (we’re on two completely different schedules), and goes for her runs. She’s only missed running due to illness. Other than that, she forces herself to get up and puts in the work. Well, last Sunday, after months of training, she ran (and completed) her first half marathon! This from a woman who would’ve probably let her attacker overtake her just a mere year ago. This my long drawn out way to say that I’m proud of her, and watching her complete that half was the most impressive thing I witnessed this week. So, with that in mind, Lindsay West had the West Week Ever.

13th Nov2015

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

by Will

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crazy-ex-girlfriend

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

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

Into-the-Badlands

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

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

snowpiercer

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

Becky G Yellow Ranger

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

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

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

Christmas

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

Links I Loved

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

29th Dec2014

West Week Ever – 12/29/14

by Will

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ride along

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

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

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

Fast and Furious 6

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

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

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

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

Ben-Haenow

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

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

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

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

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

 

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

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

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

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

-Forbes named Adam Sandler the Most Overpaid Actor of 2014

Links I Loved

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

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

20 Songs Turning 20 in 2015 – Mashable

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

The Invention of the Slurpee – Gizmodo

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

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

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

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

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

09th Jan2014

West YEAR Ever – 2013

by Will

Well, 2013 has come and gone, but we couldn’t let it go without looking back one last time. I couldn’t really wrap my head around how to write it all, so I figured we’d just go with bullet points and pics. Hell, if you’re a loyal reader, you’ve seen all this stuff before. This is just to whet your palate as you await tomorrow’s 2014 debut of West Week Ever!

Milestones of 2013

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I explored a dead mall

I got cornered by Conservatives from Craigslist

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I binge-watched a Sentai series

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I met Twitter pal @LamarRevenger

I changed the way I consume comics

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I beat a video game!

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I finally met @chrispiers! & @robotspjs!

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I celebrated 10 years of blogging

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I went to Canada

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I introduced a new blog column

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I ran my first 5K and met Twitter pals @claymationhowl, @JohnDoctorKent, @FakeEyes22, @meistershake, @bmorin54, @doubledumbass, @P0LISHPHEN0M, @howardthedeck, @chapmanrunner, and @monsterfink.

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I met Adam West and Burt Ward

My Favorite Posts of 2013

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1 Broke Plot: How 2 Broke Girls Shortened Its Lifespan

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Black History Month is Back-ack-ack-ack-ack-ack-ack-ack!

Because Nobody Asked: Will On Comedy

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“I Wanna Xup, Baby” AKA Anyone Else Remember Xuxa?

My (Alternate) Reality

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Judging Bottles By Their Labels

Must Flee TV – The Future of Comedy on NBC

Pitch Perfect-5

Pitch Perfect and the True Story of Collegiate A Cappella

The Fall Guy Cast

Reboot That Bitch: The Fall Guy

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Best of the West #3: Knight Rider Knight 2000 Voice Car

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A Tribute to Mystic Music’s Cool Rock

Where’s Mama Cass?

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

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Monday Musings – Skins Series 7 and the Close of a Franchise

New+Pure+Moods+disc+1+pure+moodsPure Moods and The Loss of Innocence

West Week Ever Recipients of 2013

Seth MacFarlane
Mila Kunis
Hugh Grant
Charles Bronson
Cast of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Psy
Delta Gamma Sorority
Fall Out Boy
Robert Downey Jr.
Charles Ramsay
The Office
Cast of Saved by the Bell
Howie Decker
Superman
North West
Happy Endings
America
Regular Show
Breaking Bad
G.I. Joe: Retaliation
Canada
Christina Bianco
Ben Affleck
Power Rangers
Jennette McCurdy and Andre Drummond
Baltimore Comic-Con
Retro Con
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Breaking Bad
Miley Cyrus
Star Wars Trilogy
Cool and Collected Magazine
Marvel
Ground Floor
Batkid
Gal Gadot
Beyonce
Paul Rudd

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So, last year, I was asked “Who had the West Year Ever?” Well, for 2012, the answer was me. I’d gotten married and a whole slew of other stuff. That’s not the case for 2013, however. No, that distinction goes to Breaking Bad. It’s the only multiple West Week Ever recipient, and the series wrapped up in 2013 in top notch fashion. The only entity to come close to Breaking Bad‘s 2013 was Miley Cyrus, but she just flew a little too close to the sun to clinch it this year.

2013 was also the first full year of West Week Ever, and I couldn’t do it without you, the readers. Thanks for all your support and I hope you’ll stay with me into 2014!

21st Jun2013

West Week Ever – 6/21/13

by Will
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Who Had The West Week Ever? Read On And Find Out!

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 I watched The Dilemma this week, ’cause I love Kevin James and Vince Vaughn. Not sure why the onscreen guide gave it one star, as it was serviceable enough. It at least deserved two! Anyway, I feel like the movie could’ve worked better without the whole “we make electric cars” angle. That seemed forced in, not really servicing the plot. Anyway, if you’re bored on a Saturday, it’s worth checking out. If nothing else, it helped ease me back into Jennifer Connelley. I swear, I have never been able to look at her the same since the ass to ass scene in Requiem for a Dream. Then, she spent the entire Hulk movie giving “fuck me” eyes to Eric Bana. She’s so boring in this movie, as well as in He’s Just Not That Into You, that you’ll forget all about her seedy film past.

My pal @classickmateria forwarded me a link to an article with Jason David Frank, AKA The Green/White/Red/Black Ranger. It’s your standard stuff about how he loves the fans, etc, etc. One part of the article caught my eye, which sounds like a horrible, yet intriguing idea:

“The Green Ranger has definitely had an impact on people’s lives. That’s why I’m talking to [Haim] Saban about separating the franchise from the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers to the Green Ranger, kind of like X-Men and Wolverine. I think the Green Ranger in its own self can stand on itself. We’re talking about movies and other stuff like that. So we will see what happens.”

A little over a year ago, I wrote a couple posts called “Back & Fourth”, where I chronicled my adventures handling lunch duty for a bunch of fourth graders. I lost that job, and those segments came to an abrupt end. Still, I really loved some of those kids, and I was sad to have to leave them. So, imagine my surprise when I left me office yesterday, and saw a familiar face in the hall. I used to refer to him as “K”, and he was one of my absolute favorites. Still, I’m a jerk who’s antisocial, so he had to make the first move. “Hey, didn’t you used to be at Doar?” I replied, “Yeah.” “Well, why ain’t you say nothing?” I told him I wasn’t sure it was him. I was on my way to a meeting, so I told him I’d see him later. I really hope he ends up here, as he’s a really good, albeit misunderstood, kid.

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Love it or hate it, all eyes are on Toy Hunter on Wednesday nights. I love to livetweet the show, so imagine my surprise when I got a reply, retweet, AND a favorite from Jordan’s assistant, Julia? Here’s the exchange:

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This is usually the part where I’d get scared of my wife getting mad at me, but she doesn’t read this shit. I have to beg her to read this blog, so viva la Julia!

Speaking of my wife, she was really embarrassed that I admitted on Twitter that I didn’t know where Portugal was. I’m still not ashamed of that. Who the fuck cares? I live in America. At the end of the day, I still have an Ivy League degree in a box somewhere, and I got it without knowing on which continent Portugal is located. It’s not like I’m one of those kids on Carmen Sandiego who got North America in the final round, yet didn’t know where Texas was! USA! USA! USA!

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Well, here’s something you don’t see every day. You see, last week saw the monumental meeting of blogging kings! That’s right, WilliamBruceWest.com and The Robot’s Pajamas shared the same air in Northern Virginia. Vincent was on vacation, hanging with his buddy Chris Piers, and I made the drive down to meet one of my good e-pals. We were going to see Man of Steel together, but I couldn’t make it down in time, so I ended up missing it AND the LEGO Outlet! All was not lost, however, as we met up to take a “Beer Tour of Wisconsin”.

I took pics of all the beers, but I forgot what most of them tasted like...

I took pics of all the beers, but I forgot what most of them tasted like…

Afterwards, we watched a DVD of the Found Footage Fest, where these guys have organized a roadshow to screen crazy footage they’ve found at thrift stores over the country. It’s such a simple, yet ingenious, idea that I wish I’d thought of it first! And did I mention that Vincent brought part of his heralded Twinkie stockpile with him? They were just as good as I remembered them! In all, it was a great time, and I really enjoyed finally meeting Vincent, Chris, and Chris’s fiancee Krissy.

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Krissy took the pic…

This Week’s Posts

Mail Call Monday – Claymation Werewolf Makes My Day

Adventures West Coast – The Wolverine Post

A Tribute to Mystic Music’s Cool Rock

So That Was Injustice…

Be sure to check out the newly-stocked Books & GNs section over at Will’s World of Wonder.

Pals of the blog have some cool contests going on. The Robot’s Pajama’s is giving away an exclusive edition of Nowhere Man #1, while Nerd Lunch is celebrating Superman Week by giving away an original Des Taylor print.

One brought a new little gold digger into the world, while the cable world lost an icon. One decided to change a controversial feature, while the other hates coons, y’all! Only one, however, had the West Week Ever.

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Look, I know this is controversial, but they brought a new West into the world. It’s in the name. No one could possibly have a West-ier week than that unless my wife’s not telling me something. So, maybe it’ll be something geeky and reader-friendly next week, but for now Baby North West has not only stolen my future kid’s name, but also had the West Week Ever.

21st May2013

Best of the West #3: Knight Rider Knight 2000 Voice Car

by Will

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I don’t do these posts much, so you know it’s a special occasion. If you’re new here, then let me explain Best of the West to you: these are pieces of my collection that hold more meaning than the others. These are the “I’d grab if there’s ever a fire” items. This ain’t your average Thrift Justice stuff – these are the top shelf items. OK, now that I’ve got that out of the way, why am I doing this today? Well, it’s really all but the timing of some real life events. Yesterday was the funeral for one of the kids at work. I didn’t know him, but I wanted to feel a part of the community, so I volunteered to sing in the choir for the service. It was really moving, and it was a feeling I hadn’t experienced since glee club days. It got me to thinking how I’d want to be remembered when my time comes. I hope people think I was hilarious. Not just “haha” funny, but “why wasn’t he a comedian?!” funny. I hope they think I was a good person and a good friend. Also, I hope I’m remembered as a caring and magnificent lover, despite my average endowment (at least according to my spam folder…). Anyway, this also got me to thinking about my first funeral experience: my dad’s.

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Courtesy of Orangeslime.com

My father passed away from an aneurysm when I was three. For this reason, I’m always scared of head trauma, and I never make fun of aneurysms. Because I was so young, I wasn’t really privy to the funeral proceedings. In fact, my cousin was tasked with taking me to Toys “R” Us to distract me. While there, I remember getting a radio controlled Knight Rider K.I.T.T. that had a working scanner light. You don’t give an RC car to a three year old! I just kept driving it into walls. It was really cool, but I was always rough with toys, so it didn’t last long. Sure, I kept it, but the electronics surely didn’t work, and the car looked like it did at the end of “Knight of the Juggernaut Part 1”.

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Still, I remember the car always angered me because I couldn’t put a figure inside. I think I eventually even broke the window, like an inner city youth, just so I could stick a G.I. Joe in it. I didn’t realize there was actually a version that did what I needed it to do. No, I had my “distraction” K.I.T.T. so I wouldn’t realize my dad was gone. In fact, it wasn’t until years later that I pieced together what had happened that day. Until then, I always remembered it as “the time all my relatives came to see me”.

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Fast forward to about a year ago. My former employer, Diamond Comic Distributors, was releasing a Previews exclusive Knight Rider K.I.T.T. with lights and sounds, and included a 3.75″ Michael Knight Figure. Of course I was gonna buy it! Even if it was $50, and the Michael Knight looked NOTHING like David Hasselhoff. That reminded me that I already had a nearly 6″ Michael Knight from the 80s, and I never really knew why he was released. Remember that post about my Cousin Oliver and the G.I. Joe mystery? Well, that was also the first and only time I saw Knight Rider toys at retail. With the exception of the Whip Shifter (which I also had), I had completely forgotten there was essentially a full line of toys. So I took to eBay, to learn more about the line, and find out if there were any figures other than Michael. It turns out he’s the only one, and that he came packed in with an electronic K.I.T.T. That had opening doors! What I always wanted had existed all the time! And the vintage K.I.T.T. had dropped in price since the announcement of the newer version, so you could get one for about $100. Why buy a newer copy when I could have the original? So, a few weeks before my wedding, I told Lindsay, “I’m about to drop about $100 on a Knight Rider car, and I just want you to know that.” Thankfully, she knew the importance and was cool with it. It actually arrived just before our honeymoon, but I didn’t really get a chance to look at it until weeks later. At the end of the day, it cost about $80 after shipping, and it had its original box! Oh, and IT WORKS! Let’s take a closer look at it, shall we?

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This thing was $26.96 in 1985! That’s, like, $80 in today’s money. NOTE: I am not an economist, nor an expert on inflation

 

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Nowhere on this box does it say “Child’s hand not included”. I demand my white child’s hand!

 

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I wonder if it even had pack-in directions, as the whole shebang is told on the back of the box.

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I love the detail of the stickers inside, but Michael needs to do some dusting!

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I just like pushing it along my carpet, pretending K.I.T.T.’s driving through the desert. Of course, it’d be more effective if the friggin’ white child hand had been in the box!

As you can see from the box, K.I.T.T. says 6 different phrases. I couldn’t really verify them all, ’cause we’re a household with no C batteries; lots of Ds for some reason, though… Anyway, with the voice of someone who’s just roofied you, the car said “Callll mee K.T.T. for shorrrtt.” Supposedly, he also says:

“Engaging Infrared Tracking Scope”

“Scanner Indicates Danger Ahead”

“I Shall Activate The Turbo Boost”

“Your Reflexes Are Slow”

“What Is Our Next Mission?”

Well, the circle is now complete. Like a phoenix, my fallen K.I.T.T. has arisen, with all the qualities I originally wanted. Screw Diamond and their imposter. I now have the real thing! I hope you’ve enjoyed this “shadowy flight into the dangerous world of a man who does not exist”. Anyway, tomorrow’s promised to no one, so try to enjoy today. Thanks for reading, and let me know some of your “holy grails” in the comments!

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