05th Feb2016

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 2/5/16

by Will

BeFunky Collage

 

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After all that I watched last week during the blizzard, I didn’t really watch too much this week. The one movie that I watched was The Hundred Foot Journey. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s about an Indian family that moves to France to open a restaurant that happens to be directly across the street from a renowned Michelin-starred restaurant. In the beginning, the two restaurants go to war against each other. It’s something of a culture clash between the citizens and the immigrants. After a while, though, they find common ground in the form of the eldest son of the Indian family, who turns out to be a gifted chef. It’s the kind of movie that you don’t have to pay a ton of attention to, and still understand what’s going on. The head of the French restaurant is played by Helen Mirren, so you know this is seen as some classy shit. It was produced by Stephen Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey, and it’s just the kind of story that Oprah would’ve featured in her book club. I’d wanted to see the movie ever since I first saw the trailer, as it looked cute, and it didn’t disappoint. I don’t think it’s the kind of thing that most of my readership would jump at, but if you get the chance, give it a shot.

patti pie

While I didn’t watch a ton, I did eat a lot. I don’t have the most refined palette, so I tend to stay away from food reviews. That said, I experienced two different foods that I felt deserved the blog treatment. First up was the Patti Labelle Sweet Potato Pie.

This news is about 3 months old, but seeing as how 90% of my readership is White, this’ll be new to you! Anyway, R&B singer Patti Labelle (she also played Dwayne Wayne’s mom on A Different World) released a line of sweet potato pies exclusively at Walmart in September. The pies sold well enough until a YouTuber named James Wright Chanel posted the above review of the pies. Well, that review went viral, and the pies started flying off the shelves. They were THE hot item over the Thanksgiving season, and I hadn’t been able to find one until last Friday night. I love a good sweet potato pie, so I had to see what all the fuss was about. The pies are sold at room temperature, so that’s how I wanted to first taste it. After taking a bite, it was…OK. There HAD to be more to this thing, right? I mean, the big guy was singing and everything. I remembered that I like my sweet potato pie cold, so I refrigerated it overnight, and took another shot the next day. And it was…just OK. I’ve had some awesome sweet potato pie in my life. My mom’s friend makes amazing pies. That said, this was not as good as those. It’s good, but it’s not great. The pie’s texture is sort of “lazy”, for lack of a better word. It’s not firm like I like it, and refrigerating it didn’t do much to firm it up. If this made that dude sing, I’ve had some pie that would make his heart explode. I really don’t know what all the fuss was about, but good on James for getting his 15 minutes out of it.

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Next up, I tried KFC’s Nashville Hot Chicken Tenders. Let me start by saying that I hate KFC. I love fast food, but KFC is typically some garbage. I haven’t liked any of their gimmicks since the Rotisserie Gold arrival in the early 90s. Most people just laugh at their output, like when we get things like the Double Down. So imagine my surprise when some of my Twitter friends started raving over this Nashville Hot recipe that KFC just debuted. They started out using it on the regular chicken, but then they introduced the tenders. I’m lazy and hate dealing with bones, so tenders were the way into my heart. My clogged, clogged heart. There aren’t too many KFCs in these parts (they tend to get shut down a lot), so we happened to be near one on Sunday and decided to take the plunge. First, the presentation. They come served in a black plastic tray that makes you think they came right out of the microwave. They’re garnished with pickle chips, and are served with cole slaw (we replaced that with wedges) and a biscuit. So, how did they taste? TERRIBLE. You bastards lied to me! Seriously, if that’s indicative of a real Nashville recipe, then they can just go and leave the Union right now. The sauce is thin. I mean THIN. It’s reddish and stains everything – napkins, skin, whatever. But it’s so thin that you’d think it’s just grease. There’s no body to it. It’s hot, but it’s not flavorful. And, again, the sauce gets everywhere. Lindsay looked like a ravenous vampire when she was done. It was the least satisfying meal I’ve ever had. It was a combination KFC/Taco Bell, and I wanted to cleanse my palette with some tacos, but I was already full from the tenders.

peak tv

Part of why I didn’t watch much TV this week is because there’s just too much TV. Some folks have wondered if we’ve reached “peak television”, and I think it might be true. I used to know when all my favorite shows came on. Now, I’m considering making a Google Doc just to track them all. I remember that I missed shows days after they’ve aired. And these aren’t shows I just watch casually; they’re things that I actually consider favorites. At the moment, though, I just have too many favorites. At the same time, I’m not afraid to dump a show that I don’t like. In the past, I watched a lot of stuff that I hated. I wasn’t even “hate-watching” those shows, either. I didn’t really like them, but they were on and I had nothing better to do. When Fox debuted Cooper Barrett and Bordertown, I finally realized that there are too many shows and life’s too short to waste on something you don’t like.

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In the toy world, there’s a rumor going around that Hasbro and Mattel are in talks for a merger. He-Man and G.I. Joe under the same roof? This is an ’80s kid’s wet dream! Too bad Hasbro doesn’t really care about Joe anymore, and Mattel sells He-Man figures to grown-ups for $30 a pop. This could be a dream or a nightmare. It’d be interesting to see if the Marvel and DC licenses would remain under this shared roof. Would they become HasTel or MatBro? Or even worse, HasMat? While surprising, this isn’t the first time there’s been talk of a merger, as Mattel made an offer on Hasbro 20 years ago.

Black

On the comic front, I never pledge Kickstarters because I’ve heard too many horror stories. Still, when I saw Black, I knew that I had to be a backer. The tagline for the graphic novel reads “In a world that already fears and hates them – what if only Black people had superpowers?” That’s basically as much as I know about the story, but it was enough to make me want to know more. It’ll no doubt be controversial, but the art looks great and I’m really anxious to see where the story goes.

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Meanwhile, I ran across yet another Kickstarter that piqued my interest. Titled Tuskegee Heirs, in the spirit of the famous Tuskegee Airmen, the tagline reads “Futuristic sci-fi adventure that follows a small squad of young gifted aviators who are forced to become earth’s last line of defense.” The art is very “manga-esque”, which would normally be a turnoff to me, but it’s kinda refreshing seeing that style used for Black characters outside of The Boondocks. I can’t remember the last time I was this excited about an upcoming comic project, so I hope I’m not disappointed. Maybe when these books come in, I’ll dust off my Adventures West Coast feature and review them.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • After the success of Lip Sync Battle, Craig Robinson will host Caraoke Showdown on Spike.
  • Aubrey Plaza has been cast in FX’s X-Men spinoff, Legion
  • Matt LeBlanc is one of the new hosts of The UK’s Top Gear. Here’s hoping this job lasts longer than Joey. Or Top of the Heap.
  • Louis C.K. quietly released a new series, Horace and Pete, on his website. But it looks sad and all the colors are various shades of brown, so I’ll pass.
  • Andy Samberg’s crew, The Lonely Island, are developing Party Over Here with comedian Paul Scheer. The half-hour sketch show will air Saturday nights at 11 on Fox.
  • Gilmore Girls is coming back via Netflix, and apparently no one thought to invite its most famous alum, Melissa McCarthy.

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My pals over at The Robot’s Pajamas are having Star Trek: The Next Generation Week, so be sure to pop over there and read all the great posts they’ve got!

This Week In Black History

2/1 – Today In Black History: Arnold & Willis Jackson became the first poor black kids adopted by a rich white person

2/2 – Today In Black History, rapper Christopher Wallace graduated to the Men’s department and changed his name from “Husky Smalls”

2/3 – Today in Black History, The Eastland School for Girls admitted Dorothy “Tootie” Ramsey as its first black student

2/4 – Today in Black History, the Fresh King of Bel Air was assassinated. The throne remained empty until a long lost son was found in 1990.

2/5 – Today in Black History, Kunta Kinte is accepted into the space program, and it only costs him his eyesight.

usf

When I’m not blogging about pop culture, I like to guest on podcasts. One of my favorites to guest on has been the UnderScoopFire Podcast. Out of my 52 podcast appearances, 13 of them have been with USF and its Mad Men-centric spinoff, The MadCast.

I remember a few years back, coming across a dude on Twitter named @HowardTheDeck and thinking “Heh, that’s pretty clever.” Turns out dude was a funny guy, so when I found out he had a podcast, I couldn’t wait to hear it. This was a new concept to me, as I really hadn’t given too many shits about the podcast format prior to that. I like my Internet printed. If you’re recording podcasts or making videos, that just seems like it’s gonna take too much time to consume. So, I just stuck to blogs and the like. Anyway, I downloaded USF and immediately fell in love. I dug the whole gang, from Howie to Corey to Tank to Joe. There was even this guy named Googs who really seemed like he didn’t want to be there, but he was cool, too. We all became friends online – these weren’t just “web friends”, but real friends. We’ve shared Christmas cards, and tracked down toys that the others’ kids couldn’t find locally. They’ve allowed me to come on and ramble on about whatever’s on my mind, and I’ve always had a great time doing it.

Well, this week, after 150-ish episodes, the UnderScoopFire Podcast posted its final episode. The show began as a love letter to children of the 80s, covering things like GI Joe and featuring guests like “The Micro Machines Guy”, John Moschitta Jr. Over the past few years or so, the show had undergone some changes. Howie and Googs left, while Tank and Joe were sent deep undercover. We’d hear from Tank every now and then, but I thought Joe got lost out there until I heard his pretaped appearance on the final show. Some episodes were just Corey and this dude named Eclectik (that’s not his government name, but we won’t talk too much about him ’cause he hates me anyway), chatting away. A lot of the time, it felt like we were all flies on the wall for a conversation between those two. Still, they kept the show alive, and I thank them for that. Without USF, I wouldn’t be the reigning What’s The Scoop? Champion for Life, I wouldn’t know how hard it is for 80s celebrities to say the words “Under Scoop Fire” in that order, and I wouldn’t have some of my closest friends. So, with that in mind, it’s bittersweet for me to say that the UnderScoopFire Podcast had the West Week Ever.

08th Jan2016

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 1/8/16

by Will

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Welcome to the first West Week Ever of 2016! Thanks to everyone who checked out West YEAR Ever earlier this week, and brace yourself because we’ve got a lot to discuss today!

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On the movie front, I finally watched Lucy, starring Scarlett Johansson. What the Hell did I watch?! I thought I’d heard good things about this movie, but no me gusta! It’s overly ambitious in that it can’t seem to figure out if it wants to be a full out action movie or an action-philosophical movie. Sorry, but not everyone can pull off a Matrix. In the film, Lucy ends up being a drug mule for a new synthetic drug, but the package ruptures inside her and causes her to change. That change involves her using more of her brain than most humans use. Apparently, when you’ve mastered control of your brain, you can change your hair color at will or control electronics. Hell, right before she hits 100% of brain use, she literally swipes left on the timeline. She finds herself all the way back at the moment of the Big Bang. There’s some substory about human potential and how we never truly die, and Morgan Freeman is there, I suppose, to lend a bit of “legitimacy” to the film. I don’t see how this movie made over $400 million.

beauty shop

Next I found myself watching Beauty Shop, Queen Latifah’s 2005 entry to the Barbershop franchise. I really liked the Barbershop movies, and I’d always wanted to see this but just never got around to it. Like the Barbershop movies, it focuses on how the beauty shop is the nexus of gossip and information in the Black community. It also features what might be my favorite Alicia Silverstone role – Lynn, the sweet, naive girl from backwoods Georgia. She starts out as a shampoo girl at the high end salon where she and Latifah work, but later comes to work in the beauty shop that Latifah opens after striking out on her own. The other women in the shop don’t like her because she’s White, and they really don’t understand why she’s there. Silverstone’s accent is over the top, and the character is overacted, but that’s kinda what makes her endearing. And she got the guy in the end – not because she was White but because she wasn’t a bitch like the other women in the shop (especially Golden Brooks’s character, Chanell). It also features the lovely Andie MacDowell, who ends up with a donk at the end of the movie because she ate too many collard greens. Yeah, that happened. When you think about it, the movie really tried to make the White folks into outsiders, but they end up not only being accepted at the end, but they also end up being the most likable characters (with the exception of Mena Suvari’s character. Man, where’s she been the past 10 years?). Anyway, it got me in the mood for the upcoming Barbershop 3.

bikini spring break

Then I watched a movie called Bikini Spring Break. I’m not proud of it, but I’m honor bound in my duty to report every movie I watch in full. I knew it couldn’t be too “porny” because one of the stars was Robert Carradine of Revenge of the Nerds fame. Basically, it’s about a female collegiate marching band whose van breaks down in Fort Lauderdale on the way to Miami for a competition. Oh, and it happens to be Spring Break. So, they end up doing random things to raise money to fix their van, like jello wrestling and riding mechanical bulls. Oh, yeah, there are boobs, but no sex. It was pretty bad. I probably should’ve just watched something on the DVR.

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Finally, I watched Fifty Shades of Grey. What? It was on HBO and I was curious. Anyway, this movie made Bikini Spring Break look like Citizen Kane. It’s a shame when a low budget titty comedy ends up being a better movie than one that’s based on a bestselling novel. It’s so, so bad. The dialogue…I mean, women actually like this shit? My favorite lines from the movie are “I don’t ‘make love’. I FUCK. HARD.” and “I would like to fuck you into the middle of next week”, said with no seduction or anything alluring. It was said during a business meeting – which brings up another issue: Christian Grey is a horrible businessman. He issues a contract to Anastasia for all of the kinky stuff that he wants to do to her, yet he “renders services” before she even signs the damn contract! I think I liked this movie better when it was called Secretary. At least that movie knew that it was a dark comedy, and James Spader and Maggie Gyllenhaal knew how to ACT. I can’t tell if Jamie Dornan is a bad actor or if it’s just a reflection on the material he was given. Dakota Johnson is OK, but her breasts sadden me.  Just looking at them makes me sad. Is that body-shaming? I mean, she was hired to be naked a good portion of the movie, so you’d think her chest wouldn’t remind me of a Sarah McLachlan commercial. Anyway, the ONE good thing I can say about this movie is that it has a great soundtrack. Other than that, I can’t believe they’re making more of these. Sure, the books are a trilogy, but they could just call it quits now, right? Right?

Grinder

On the TV front, I caught a marathon of The Grinder on FX. I’d seen a couple of episodes, and liked what I saw, but it was so much better as a binge-watch. That’s a really good show! It stars Rob Lowe as the former star of the court series The Grinder, who moves in with his brother’s family as he tries to figure out how to live a “normal” life. The brother, played by Fred Savage (yup, that Fred Savage), kinda resents Lowe’s character, as he has worked hard to become a real lawyer, while Lowe just played one on TV. The series really gets good, though, when Lowe is betrayed by friend Timothy Olyphant (playing himself), who agrees to star in the spinoff The Grinder: New Orleans. I can’t really think of a series to compare it to, but it’s so good. If you’re looking for a new single cam sitcom, definitely check it out.

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While Fox has a hit on its hands with The Grinder, it premiered 2 real duds on Sunday night. First up was the comedy Cooper Barrett’s Guide to Surviving Life, which was marketed almost like an update of the 90s series Parker Lewis Can’t Lose. I mean, both star a good looking kid who’s kinda smarmy and finds himself in weird situations, with a motley crew of friends tagging along. It was a serviceable pilot, jumping around the timeline instead of telling a linear story, but I still don’t feel it’s anywhere near as good as Brooklyn Nine-Nine – the series that previously occupied that timeslot. Following that night’s Family Guy, they finally premiered the Seth MacFarlane-produced Bordertown. This show has been in development for years, and now that it’s finally been released, I still don’t think it was ready. Set in “Mexifornia”, it focuses on a border agent and his family who live next door to an immigrant family. And hilarity ensues…or does it? No, it’s not a very good show. Even by MacFarlane standards. I know some people hate his shows, but I’m a big fan (though I can easily admit that Family Guy has been treading water the past 2 seasons). Remember how American Dad started out as a one-note response to 9/11? It’s like that, but much, much worse. And at least American Dad eventually became amazing. I don’t see that in the cards for Bordertown. Originally announced for the 2014-2015 television season, Fox didn’t even see fit to burn it off over the summer. Anyway, I wouldn’t be surprised if The Last Man On Earth returns a lot earlier than expected, even if they’re just reruns.

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In television news, a lot of stuff happened this week. First up, it was announced that the DC Titans show is no longer in production at TNT. Yay! I NEVER wanted this thing, and I’m glad it’s dead. I mean, they were putting Oracle/Barbara Gordon/former Batgirl on the team, for God’s sake! Based on the Teen Titans/Titans comic series, the show was to focus on an adult Dick Grayson as he led his own superteam. I may have been onboard the project had it not been focused on Grayson. I’m just tired of Batman projects orbiting the story they actually want to tell. Birds of PreyGotham, Titans – eventually the audience is going to ask “Where’s Batman?” which requires more complicated answers than they’re looking for (TV rights vs movie rights, the desire to not confuse the consumer, etc). Plus, I’m just tapped out on superhero shows right now. I already skipped Supergirl, despite everyone telling me how great it is. Titans probably would’ve been another one I’d skip, as I just don’t see it bringing anything desired to the table. I know some folks, like @Jordamus_Prime, LOVE the Titans, but I just never really saw TNT as the best home for such a project.

TFTC

Speaking of TNT, they’re rebooting Tales From The Crypt with M. Night Shyamalan. I enjoyed the original series, but I also watched it in syndication instead of the original HBO episodes. So, I’m sure I missed out on them as the Lord intended. Folks love to crap on Shyamalan, but I’ve actually enjoyed his recent projects. After Earth wasn’t that bad, and I raved about my love of Wayward Pines. Just like the HBO series, the new Crypt will use the original EC Comics line as inspiration for episodes, but it’s not clear if the Cryptkeeper character is coming back.

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This is news from a few weeks back, but NBC officially canceled Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris. And so goes my dream of being on a game show. I was so close, but I pretty much knew that if I didn’t get on that first season, then it wasn’t happening. Just like that American Idol audition…

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Yahoo announced they were discontinuing Yahoo Screen, which was the portal that was released in conjunction with Yahoo’s acquisition of Community. The service was plagued with ads and a shoddy player, so it’s not a huge surprise. Outside of Community, there weren’t any other success stories. There was a series called Sin City Saints about a basketball team in Vegas, and there was Other Space, which costarred Lily the AT&T Girl (Milana Vayntrub). Neither show really developed a fan base, though. The videos will still be online via the Yahoo site, but the Screen portal is gone, and it seems like Yahoo’s done with original programming.

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Now for your weekly Fuller House update. Apparently, show creator Jeff Franklin approached Elizabeth Olsen to play the role of Michelle when her sisters, the Olsen Twins, declined. According to John Stamos on Andy Cohen’s SiriusXM radio show, when the Olsens said they didn’t “think of [them]selves as actors anymore”, he said “Get the sister”. They even went as far as to call Elizabeth’s agent, but it didn’t get much further than that. Meanwhile, Entertainment Weekly released new set photos, like the one above.

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Speaking of Netflix shows, a teaser was released yesterday announcing a premiere date of 3/18/16 for the second season of Daredevil. They also released the godawful poster that you see above. This is a rare misstep for Marvel stuff. I know they want us to see the Punisher skull, but there had to have been a better way to get there than this. Anyway, here’s hoping I’m done with Jessica Jones by then.

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In toy AND movie news, a leaked image of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows toys revealed that Krang will be in the movie, as well as the Technodrome. With this, combined with Rocksteady and Bebop,  I fear that this movie is becoming such a love letter to fans of the original cartoon that today’s kids aren’t even gonna care about it. But, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. And it would be kinda cool to see Krang on the big screen.

Batcave

Batcave2In other toy news, pics have leaked of the upcoming LEGO set based on the 1966 Batman Batcave. I don’t do large scale LEGO sets, but this thing looks beautiful. It also comes with the Batcopter, Batmobile (which I believe may be the one that was originally an SDCC exclusive), and Batcycle, as well as 9 minifigures. We still don’t have a piece count, but I’m hoping it doesn’t turn out to be as expensive as the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier or Ghostbusters Firehouse.

Ghostbusters

Speaking of Ghosbusters, Director Paul Feig tweeted out this pic last night of the prototype for the Ghostbusters 6″ movie figures. Look at that Leslie Jones! These look like they’ll have Movie Masters-level articulation, so the real trick will be if they can keep them under $19.99.

Things You Might Have Missed this Week

  • Michael Weatherly is leaving NCIS. Never seen it. I do, however, remember when he was banging Jessica Alba while they costarred on Dark Angel.
  • It was announced that HBO’s Girls will end after season 6. Yay, no more Lena Dunham nudity!
  • Model Kelly Rohrbach has been cast as Pamela Anderson’s character, C.J. Parker, in the Baywatch movie.
  • Broad City scored a 2-season renewal from Comedy Central. Yass, queen!
  • Twitter announced an increase in character limit from 140 to 10,000. This is McDonalds breakfast all over again. I never needed All Day Breakfast. I just needed Until 2 PM Breakfast. Sure, I could use a few more characters, but I’m not trying to write War and Peace here!
  • Pitch Perfect stars Skylar Astin and Anna Camp are engaged. Aca-gratulations!
  • After 2 seasons, The Meredith Vieira Show has been canceled. Wonder if they’ll let her come back to Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?
  • Michael Bay will direct Transformers 5. And as much as you say you hate him, you’ll still see it
  • Netflix and Dreamworks are rebooting Voltron. I really couldn’t give two shits, but I know some of you care.
  • For the sportsball fans, the St. Louis Rams, the San Diego Chargers, and the Oakland Raiders have all applied to relocate to Los Angeles.
  • Former Arrow costar Colton Haynes may have come out while responding to a Tumblr post about his “secret gay past”. His response: “Was it a secret? Let’s all just enjoy life and have no regrets.”

Links I Loved

Nik’s Piks (Pretend this is a regular feature!) – Top 10 Toys of 2015 – nik tumbls art and stuff

Why Do You Write? – Team Hellions

9 Former American Idol Contestants on What Viewers Don’t Know, Life After the Show, and Who Deserved to Win But Didn’t – Vulture

Sifting: Technology, Trash, & Digging for Memories – NEMMC

In 13 years of blogging, I finally made someone’s Top 10 list – and it wasn’t even for work on my own site. As I mentioned in West YEAR Ever, I wrote a piece for The Robot’s Pajamas about the current star power of some former Power Rangers actors. Well, it turns out that was one of their top posts of the year. You can check it out, as well as the other 9 posts, here.

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Also, I recorded my 49th podcast with @Engineernerd from Action Figure Blues and @ISeeRobots from The Toys “R” Us Report. We discussed the ins and outs of thrifting, and it was a great conversation. Now I know you’re saying, “But Will, last week you posted about your 50th podcast appearance, so how is this 49?” Well, 50 just got posted sooner. You’re not traveling through time or anything. Anyway, check it out here, on the most recent episode of the Action Figure Blues Podcast.

On the music front, I LOVE music video sequels. So, imagine my surprise when one my favorite bands, Fall Out Boy, filmed the video to “Irresistible” as a sequel to “It’s Gonna Be Me”, by another of my favorite bands, *NSYNC. Fifteen years ago, Wayne Isham directed the *NSYNC video where the guys portray marionettes who come to life in a toy store. Now, in 2016, Isham is back filming Fall Out Boy as bobbleheads in the same toy store. Demi Lovato’s also in the video, as well as original *NSYNC members Chris Kirkpatrick and Joey Fatone. I’d really love to see more artists do stuff like this.

Sure, there was a Daredevil teaser and some toy news, but this was probably my favorite thing to come out of the week. What can I say? I’m a sucker for boybands and nostalgia. So, Fall Out Boy’s “Irresistible” video had the West Week Ever.

06th Jan2016

West YEAR Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 2015

by Will

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2015 was quite the year in pop culture. Adele broke all the records, Charlie Sheen got the HIV, Steve Harvey pissed off Colombia, and Star Wars came along and broke all the records that Adele didn’t touch. And some stuff happened in between all that, too. The Netflix series Daredevil, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and Master of None wowed audiences,  Saturday Night Live celebrated its 40th anniversary, and Marvel released a bunch of movies. Things were also pretty exciting here on the blog, too. power-rangers-legendary-battle-e1421106185742

I guest-posted over at The Robot’s Pajamas ranking the current star power of several Power Rangers alums

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I wrote about the best, and most underrated, pop album of 2014

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And because I can’t get enough Power Rangers, I wrote about Red Ranger turned Murderer, Ricardo Medina Jr

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To celebrate the release of their documentary, Show ‘Em What You’re Made Of, I made a list of the best Backstreet Boys songs that you’ve never heard

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I got in a Twitter fight with American Idol season 1 alum, Justin Guarini

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In one of my most popular posts of the year, I had some controversial thoughts about Batgirl

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Thrift Justice: Yard Sale Edition made a lone appearance this year

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I got on the radar of Andre, The Black Nerd

Bob Ross and his happy little trees

Bob Ross and his happy little trees

I attended DC’s Awesome Con for the first time, and got some cool cosplay pictures

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I had some random thoughts about some random comics

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I got my first Cease & Desist order AND I got killed in a comic book!

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My biggest post of the year explored the racial implications of Jurassic World

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I recorded a “backdoor pilot” for a podcast that’ll probably never get off the ground

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I got retweeted by adult film star Ryan Driller

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I defended Fant4stic Four

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I got my first verified celebrity follower on Twitter

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I applied to be on a game show

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I made my 3rd trip to Retro Con and took lots of cool toy pics

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I participated in a summer swap of nerd swag

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I went to New York Comic Con on a quest to see how much free swag I could get

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I got caught talking about a Jeopardy contestants boob’s on Twitter, and then we became besties

I’ve never considered myself a “movie guy”, but this year saw me watching 78 films. That’s GOT to be some kind of record for me. No, I’m not going to rank them, because I’m not enough of a cinephile, but I will list them so that you can see that I was all over the place when it came to what I watched:

  1. Obvious Child
  2. Live. Die. Repeat
  3. Wish I Was Here
  4. The Incredible Burt Wonderstone
  5. Non-Stop
  6. The Skeleton Twins
  7. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)
  8. Man of Steel
  9. A Million Ways To Die In The West
  10. The Chernobyl Diaries
  11. Backstreet Boys: Show ‘Em What You’re Made Of
  12. The Purge
  13. Bad Words
  14. Dredd
  15. Gravity
  16. A.C.O.D. (Adult Children of Divorce)
  17. Wet Hot American Summer
  18. After Earth
  19. Cloverfield
  20. The Marine
  21. Tammy
  22. Behind The Candelabra
  23. Choke
  24. St. Elmo’s Fire
  25. The Greatest Movie Ever Sold
  26. Tron
  27. The Purge: Anarchy
  28. The Babadook
  29. The Signal
  30. Avengers: Age of Ultron
  31. St. Vincent
  32. Top Five
  33. Birdman Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
  34. The Wedding Ringer
  35. Seeking Asian Female
  36. Southern Rites
  37. Two Night Stand
  38. The Great Bikini Bowling Bash
  39. Kung Fury
  40. This Is Where I Leave You
  41. The Watch
  42. Hot Girls Wanted
  43. Jersey Boys
  44. John Wick
  45. Whiplash
  46. Hot Tub Time Machine 2
  47. The Duff
  48. Shopgirl
  49. Horrible Bosses 2
  50. Inside Llewyn Davis
  51. 2 Guns
  52. Toy Story 3
  53. Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!
  54. Ant-Man
  55. Lavalantula
  56. Fant4stic Four
  57. Snowpiercer
  58. Spice World
  59. Fury
  60. Frozen (2010)
  61. The Inbetweeners 2
  62. Pitch Perfect 2
  63. Mad Max: Fury Road
  64. Dreamgirls
  65. Spy
  66. Vacation
  67. Get Hard
  68. Miss Congeniality
  69. Bernie
  70. The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar
  71. Chaos on the Bridge
  72. Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2
  73. Here Comes the Boom
  74. Unfinished Business
  75. Dope
  76. Attack the Block
  77. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  78. I Smile Back

All of these were reviewed on the site, so just plug them into the search field up on the right to see what I thought about any particular one of them.

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West Week Ever Recipients of 2015 (with commentary)

1/9/15 – Agent Carter

In hindsight, this deserved to have the WWE even more by the end of its run than it did this week. It was a strong premiere, but I was still at a place where I didn’t feel the character could carry her own show. By the end of the 8-week run, I was a True Believer. I guess I just saw a lot of potential in that pilot.

1/16/15 – Empire

This show brought back the sudsy primetime soap, and was SO good for that first season. I definitely feel like it deserved the WWE at the time, but I don’t know if it’ll ever return to the dramatic highs of that first season.

1/23/15 – Marvel Comics’ Secret Wars

This was based purely on speculation, as the West Week Ever was essentially given to an *announcement*. The miniseries hadn’t even begun, and this was based on what was promised in the aftermath: A new Marvel Universe, the destruction of the Ultimate Universe, and the Miles Morales Spider-Man making the move to the mainstream “616” universe. All of this had the makings of something huge. As of this writing, the much-delayed miniseries STILL hasn’t finished, even though the regular Marvel books have relaunched and carried on with their business. From what we can tell, not much has changed in the regular universe, while Secret Wars as a miniseries has been something of a disappointment (with several tie-in miniseries that showed a lot of promise). The surest shot Secret Wars ever had of having the West Week Ever was by receiving it before the first issue even launched. Nothing about the actual mini has been worthy of the WWE.

1/30/15 – Fant4stic Four trailer

The trailer had me interested in the film – something that a lot of people couldn’t say because they were already pissed about reports of “Hacker DOOM” and other stuff. It was clearly a slow week for entertainment, but I really did like what I saw. More about Fant4stic Four later…

2/6/15 – Jimmy Fallon’s Saved By The Bell reunion

This is the kind of thing that West Week Ever is all about: those potential “flash in the pan” moments that embody a particular moment in time. Looking back, I’d like to think I chose things that made some sort of cultural impact, but at times it’s the small moments that also matter. Jimmy Fallon had been trying to do a Saved By The Bell reunion since his days hosting Late Night. He didn’t pull it off, but managed to do it for the cast of California Dreams instead. I loved that reunion and I loved this one, too. Fallon’s at just the right age where his nostalgia is my nostalgia, and as an unabashed fan of all things TNBC, this was certainly my favorite moment of that week.

2/13/15 – N/A

Sometimes nothing has the West Week Ever. This was one of those weeks.

2/20/15 – Saturday Night Live

This was the week after the 40th anniversary aired, and I definitely feel like it was deserving of the WWE. It was a great special, in a vain that you rarely see anymore. It was great to see all of those old faces return to the studio, including Eddie Murphy who hadn’t returned to SNL since his days as a cast member.

2/27/15 – Parks & Recreation

I didn’t love Parks & Rec in the beginning. I’ve often said that it was the show least deserving of a second season that I’d ever seen. That first season is HORRIBLE. After some cast shakeups and some creative tinkering, the show finally found its footing. While it never really hit the acclaim of its “brother” The Office, it certainly ended a lot stronger than that show did. I didn’t appreciate how NBC burned the show off during its final season, and I feel like that broadcasting decision caused a lot of folks to miss out on those episodes. Luckily, the season is coming to Netflix later this month, so hopefully they’ll get to see what I saw in the show. Those final eps had a lot of heart, and the characters all end up in a great place. This one totally deserved the WWE.

3/13/15 – Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

This one was tricky due to the “Here’s everything at once” nature of Netflix. Timing was on its side, though, as this was the best thing that happened that week I finally consumed the series. This was not only one of the bright spots of 2015 television, but as a Tina Fey project, it’s cemented its influence on popular culture. I’ll bet NBC is still kicking themselves for cancelling this thing before it even went to air, but more folks saw it online than would’ve seen it on NBC in the midst of its death throes.

3/20/15 – Community

Did it deserve the WWE at this time? I’m not sure. It was more a testament to its triumphant return from cancellation, as well as it was helping to launch the Yahoo Screen platform (which has just been shut down, as of this past Monday). We didn’t know much about what the season would bring as, unlike Netflix’s full-season dump, Yahoo Screen debuted new episodes every Tuesday.

3/27/15 – Evelyn West

I had a daughter that week. It was pretty cool.

4/3/15 – Going Clear

I love anything about Scientology, so this was right up my alley. The documentary premiered that week, so it was definitely the standout of what was essentially a slow week for news.

4/10/15 – Daredevil

The Netflix series got the WWE based on my watching the pilot alone. Sure, it was a great pilot to a great series, but here’s something to consider: that thing came out 3 AM EST Friday morning. This means that, had I not watched the episode, nothing would’ve gotten the WWE that week. Sometimes, it really is about being in the right place at the right time.

4/17/10 – Daredevil

I had finally finished the series, and was truly impressed by everything I’d seen. To me, this is the WWE that the series definitely *deserved*, while the previous week’s honor was really just me trying to make sure that something had the West Week Ever. That’s not to say that it was a bad pilot, but I feel a lot better about this week because the whole thing was a quality series, and it just means more to me that it maintained its quality across all 13 episodes. So, last week’s WWE for Daredevil was a bit of a fluke, while this is the one that “matters”.

4/24/15 – Iceman

This one is tricky. When it happened, it was definitely a hot topic that week. To me, however, it was a cop-out. Instead of them revealing that the “regular” Iceman was gay, Marvel instead said that it was teenaged, time-displaced, possibly from an alternate timeline Iceman. It was too much of Marvel trying to have its cake and eat it, too. So, imagine my surprise when Uncanny X-Men #600 came out months later, revealing that regular 616 Iceman is also gay, and that he hadn’t acknowledged it because he had enough of his plate, being persecuted for being a mutant and all. To me, that would’ve been a MUCH more important story to tell, but it got lost in the Secret Wars delay shuffle.

5/1/15 – Avengers: Age of Ultron

It was a big movie. In hindsight, was it a good movie? People seem to have differing opinions. At that point in time, though, it had a big opening and a lot of eyes on it, so I think it totally deserved the WWE.

5/8/15 – The New Hamburglar

This was quite the failed marketing push. It seemed like McDonalds was on to something, but this thing disappeared quicker than the Halloween Whopper that was turning everyone’s shit green. This hasn’t been a strong year for McDonalds, as they’re just throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks. This year saw the return of The Hamburglar, mozzarella sticks added to the menu, and even mac & cheese added in the Ohio test market. I think this was the victim of public backlash, as folks joked that the new Hamburglar looked kinda like a pedophile. Seems like McDonalds got antsy and canned the whole campaign. Out of everything on 2015’s WWE list, this was probably the biggest fail.

5/15/15 – Major Broadcast Networks

This one may feel like a cop-out, but it was warranted. This was the week of the Spring network upfronts, where we learned what was cancelled, what was renewed, and what new shows were coming in the Fall. This is always an exciting time for television, and I lost a few “friends” that week (ABC’s Forever, for instance).

5/22/15 – David Letterman

Never really been a Letterman fan, but the man was an institution. This was all about giving credit where it was due, and he deserved that WWE honor.

5/29/15 – Kung Fury

This was another example of a slow news week. If you read my thoughts on Kung Fury, I wasn’t actually a fan. I mean, I enjoyed it, but 90% of the “movie” (the thing is THIRTY minutes long!) was given away in the trailer. Seriously, the only thing in the movie that wasn’t in the trailer was the sentient arcade machine. I really expected more. I think I gave the WWE to the *idea* of the project rather than the actual finished product.

6/5/15 – Community

This was the WWE that Community truly earned. The season had concluded, and it was pretty obvious that the show wasn’t coming back. Sort of like Two and a Half Men, Community persevered whenever something happened that shouldn’t ended it.  It lost Chevy Chase, Yvette Nicole Brown and Donald Glover, got cancelled by NBC, and got picked up by Yahoo for an untested platform. All of these should’ve spelled the end. To me, however, the Yahoo episodes turned out to be some of my favorites of the entire series.

6/12/15 – N/A

Not even a cop-out choice could save this week.

6/19/15 – Jurassic World

Universal had a great year, and Jurassic World was its crowning achievement. I also gave it the WWE because of what JW had done for me. After all, my post, The Price of Admission: The Socioeconomic and Racial Implications of Jurassic World, was my most popular post in years.

6/26/15 – N/A

I swear, I TRY to give something the WWE every week, but sometimes the world just doesn’t cooperate.

7/17/15 – Go Set A Watchman

This choice was kind of a betrayal of what I stand for. Typically, the WWE had to have had some sort of impact on me. I haven’t read this book, nor am I even that big of a fan of To Kill A Mockingbird. I mean, I understand its place in popular culture, and another book in the franchise seemed like a “sure thing”, right? Well, I’ve heard nothing but negative stuff about this book, and it has had the cultural impact of Joey.

7/24/15 – Ant-Man

Loved it, and it was probably a stronger movie than Age of Ultron. I’m a Marvel fanboy, though, so this shouldn’t come as a shock. For that point in time, it totally deserved the WWE.

7/31/15 – Rick and Morty

As much as I enjoy the show, this originally got the WWE because it was a slow week, and the second season premiere had aired that week. In hindsight, though, this was the beginning of what would turn out to be an incredible season. To cap it off, when I went to New York Comic Con later in the year, Rick and Morty cosplay was EVERYWHERE, proving to me that the show had made a bigger cultural impact that I had realized. Totally deserving of the WWE – I just didn’t know it yet.

8/7/15 – Deadpool trailer

The little superhero movie that could. This movie, by all accounts, shouldn’t exist. It’s based on a one-note appearance from the universally panned X-Men Origins: Wolverine, so it’s amazing it got made. Sure, Ryan Reynolds is the perfect choice for the role, but he’s also been box office poison for the past few years. This trailer, however, captured everything a Deadpool movie should be. I still don’t know if it needs to be rated R, as they’re cutting out a portion of potential audience members, but it seems to be everything Deadpool fans would want. The movie’s not out yet, and I still have my doubts, but I think they crafted a good trailer.

8/14/15 – Fant4stic Four

This movie isn’t as bad as your neckbeard friend keeps telling you it is. Most of the people running their mouths about it didn’t even see it. They checked out after the reveal of Black Johnny Storm and the rumor that Doom was just a message board troll instead of a sorcerer. I defended this movie because I think it’s worth checking out, if only to make up your own mind about it. I maintain that it’s 2/3rds a strong movie, while the final 1/3 is clearly a movie “made by committee”. It wasn’t even necessarily a slow news week. I just really thought that Fant4stic Four was deserving of more positive attention.

8/21/15 – Rte 29 Batman, Leonard B. Robinson

This one was a big departure. I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but I’ve got a “No Death” policy for WWE. I don’t talk about deaths because if you talk about one, you’ve gotta talk about them ALL. And a ton of them just don’t mean that much to me. So, it’s easier to just keep things a death-free zone. That said, Rte 29 Batman was something of a local hero, who donated his time and money to visiting sick kids in the hospital dressed as Batman. He was killed returning from one of these trips, when he was hit by a car on the side of the road. I’ve often wondered why some rich guy hasn’t tried to be Batman, and here was one who had. Sure, he didn’t fight crime, but he wanted to make things better for kids. That’s the kind of thing that’s worth talking about.

8/28/15 – Aqua Teen Hunger Force

I loved Aqua Teen, and it was something of an Adult Swim institution. It was on for 15 years, so I don’t see it leaving the air anytime soon, but its ending was definitely something worth noting. Nobody ever seems to talk about it, so I wonder if it’s a show that wore out its welcome, or if it’s just not the kind of thing folks discuss at the watercooler. After all, most Adult Swim shows seem like stoner fare, so maybe there’s some 420 subreddit out there mourning its cancellation.

9/4/15 – Force Friday

Now that the movie’s out, it’s hard to remember that this was A BIG DEAL! The Star Wars: The Force Awakens toys were being released, giving us the first glimpse of the characters from the hotly anticipated film. I know I was at a midnight Toys “R” Us opening just to get the figures. So many questions: Who was the Black kid? Why did Kylo Ren’s lightsaber have a laser hilt? And who was this badass known as “Captain Phasma”? Sure, all of these questions have now been answered, but this was the beginning of the merchandising onslaught brought on by The Force Awakens. Totally deserving of the WWE.

9/18/15 – Ahmed Mohamed, the Clock Boy

Muslim kid made a clock, but folks thought it was a bomb. Big news story. I actually tend not to get “real world” topical, but it was just one of those weeks. In hindsight, this wasn’t “pop culture” enough for the WWE. Sure, he got a lot of notoriety and offers, but where’s he now? He’s seeking $15 million in damages. That’s not a happy ending. Nah, I wanted him to get a show on Nickelodeon or some shit. THAT’s what gets ya the WWE. I flew a little too close to the CNN sun on this one.

9/25/15 – Pope Francis

The Pope came to the US, and it was Beatlemania all over again. It probably would’ve helped if he had done the talk show circuit or something, but everyone had Pope on the brain. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s skilled at saying exactly what you want to hear. You want to know if the dinosaurs went to Heaven? Pope Francis will not only tell you they did, but he’ll also name some dinosaur species you’ve never even heard of. ‘Cause he’s got connections like that. So yeah, I think he deserved the WWE.

10/2/15 – Power Rangers

If this site had a subtitle, it’d probably be “Amateur Power Rangers fansite”. I maintain just enough of a connection to the franchise to know what’s going on, but I’m not so engrossed that I haven’t experienced the touch of a woman. Was that mean? Check out Rangerboard sometime, and then get back to me. Anyway, the franchise was celebrating its 800th episode, so it sure as Hell deserved the WWE. How many shows reach that kind of episode count? And it’s a 22 year old franchise that’s still going strong.

10/9/15 – New York Comic Con

It was convention weekend. The show hadn’t really gotten started yet, but I had high hopes. In fact, it’s pretty funny that NYCC got the WWE when SDCC did not. I think I gave it to NYCC because I was actually going to that show, and I had hoped to meet up with a bunch of Twitter friends that weekend. That, sadly, did not happen. So, this WWE was given out in the hopes of “what might’ve been, but was not to be”.

10/16/15 – The Nerd Lunch Podcast

As a five-time guest, and member of the Nerd Lunch Army, this totally deserved the WWE. So many podcasts come and go, but they don’t all have staying power. 200 episodes is nothing to sneeze at, and I always have a great time on that show.

10/23/15 – Back to the Future Day

This is one of those picks “for the fans”. I don’t really have a special place in my heart for Back to the Future. I haven’t seen the movies in a long time, so that could have something to do with it. Everyone and their bookie was losing their mind over Back to the Future Day, however, so I couldn’t let the week go by without acknowledging it. The wrong date had been faked on memes for years, so it was a pretty important event that the real day was finally upon us. As something that could only really happen once, and the fact that it resulted in mostly positive things, I think BTTF Day deserved the WWE.

10/30/15 – Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

This was based on a particular episode that aired that week, which I found to be incredible television. It’s amazing how far the show has come from that terrible first season, and I wanted to find some sort of way to give it its due. There was no better time than this week, which finally revealed what happened to Simmons on the alien world Maveth. Watch the episode and you’ll agree with me.

11/6/15 – Star Trek

This choice was due to the announcement that there would be a new Trek television series in 2017. That’s the end of the good news. There are too many caveats. It’s only going to air on CBS All Access, which is the CBS subscription service. Plus, the folks behind it are the same folks behind the NuTrek movies. After seeing the trailer for Star Trek Beyond a few weeks later, my enthusiasm for this project waned. Still, it was big news in the geek world, though the jury is still out on its execution.

11/13/15 – Master of None

The Aziz Ansari Netflix show kinda became a critical darling, and I was just bandwagoning. I enjoyed it immensely, but I don’t think I really changed the world here. If you were gonna watch it, you were going to before I chimed in. If you were not gonna watch it, I sure as Hell didn’t convince you to do so. Since the dust has settled, there’s been some controversy surrounding some of the race stuff in the show, but I still think it was a great season. This was truly the best thing in pop culture that week.

11/20/15 – Adele

She broke every sales record out there, and she delivered the kind of stuff you expect from her. This was a bit of a reach, as I don’t think my readership shares my musical taste. I like pop. I make no bones about that. Still, whenever I do music posts, they tend to fall on deaf ears, as I don’t have a high 14 year old readership. So, this is one of those WWEs where most of my readers couldn’t give a shit, but I definitely think she earned it.

11/27/15 – Captain America: Civil War trailer

Just when we were catching our breath from Ultron and Ant-Man, the Marvel hype machine cranked back up with this one. It was like a poorly kept secret show or something. Everyone knew Evans and Downey were going to be on Kimmel, and everyone knew why, yet everyone pretended to play dumb. And when it went live, it did what Marvel trailers do: it got you excited for the next chapter in their grand plan.

12/4/15 – The Flash/Arrow “Heroes Join Forces” crossover

Last year’s Flash/Arrow crossover also got the WWE, so I guess it’s a tradition now. The Flash was stronger than Arrow, but it was still entertaining television. DC should just hand their movies over to Greg Berlanti, but that’s another discussion for another time.

12/11/15 – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows trailer

They finally seem to be making a movie based on that 30 year old cartoon that grown men love! I don’t know why grownups can’t just let go of stuff so that a new generation can enjoy it. I didn’t hate the last TMNT movie, and I know kids seemed to like it. Still, this sequel seems to be incorporating a lot of things that adult fans will love, especially Shredder’s goons Rocksteady and Bebop. It made me giddy to see them, but it really got me thinking about the legacy of franchises. Maybe there’s a post in there somewhere.

12/17/15 – Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Um, the premiere of the next installment of a franchise that some fans have been waiting 30 years to see (if they ignore the prequels)? Yeah, this was a no-brainer.

12/23/15 – Star Wars: The Force Awakens

See above, and then add in the fact that it made a shit ton of money in a week’s time.

12/31/15 – Hoverboards

While these things popped up on Vines and YouTube back in the summer, they were atop the want lists of all the “normal” folks come Christmas time. And they became infamous. Charging them caused fires to break out, they were banned from most public places, and most retailers refused to sell them. Which only made people want them MORE. It’s somewhat unorthodox to give the WWE to a *thing* rather than a franchise or person, but this seemed fitting.

So, here we are. The moment you’ve all been waiting for: what had the West YEAR Ever? Well, looking back over the nominees, it’s looking like our finalists are the multiple WWE recipients Daredevil, Community, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The interesting thing here is how their “reign” kinda divided up the calendar year. Daredevil was great, but folks were basically done talking about it by Summer. Sure, some sites foolishly tried to do weekly recaps of the episodes, but seeing as how everyone binged that thing, nobody gave a shit about those. Community was around from Spring to Summer, but the season kinda flew under the radar for anyone but the most die hard fans. And once Summer ended, the ramp up to The Force Awakens began. So, what I’m saying is that nobody really carried the year on their shoulders – not like Taylor Swift did last year, or Breaking Bad the year before that. So, this is where I get to use my veto power (’cause it’s my site and all) and award a winner.

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To me, Evelyn West had the West Year Ever. Let me explain. I know some of y’all are “child free” and/or don’t give a shit about my kid, but she really changed my life. It’s not every day that you have your first kid, and stuff really does change. No, I’m not going to get into the mushy stuff. I’m talking practical stuff, like all your stuff goes off to a storage unit, and you’re on bottle-making duty every night. But oddly, you don’t really care. This is probably the worst way to describe a human being, but I sometimes refer to her as “my favorite toy”. She’s just so fascinating, and sometimes I have trouble fathoming that she’s a living, breathing thing. I just like to watch her crawl around and get into stuff she shouldn’t be touching. Plus, we’ve already instilled in her a love of superheroes, so she’s already on the right pop culture track. The clincher, though, is that she was born at the end of March, and has been here ever since. So, that’s more dominance of the calendar year than any of the other options I listed. Sure, you may have been looking forward to The Force Awakens, but I was looking forward to things like her crawling or learning to blow raspberries (which she does with precision). So, in a few days, West Week Ever will be back to normal, and something in the mainstream pop culture world will get the honor. And I don’t plan to have any kids this year, so I can pretty much guarantee that something in the mainstream pop culture world will get the 2016 West Year Ever honor, too. But for now, you’re just gonna have to bear with me, as my daughter pretty much had the West Year Ever in 2015. But if that’s not good enough for you, then you can tell your friends that it was Star Wars. It’s not like they won’t believe you.

17th Dec2015

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 12/17/15

by Will

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Your weekly dose of pop culture is coming at ya a day early this week, since I know a lot of you are getting offline this evening so you don’t run into any Star Wars spoilers. Tomorrow’s probably gonna be a ghost town on here, so I thought I’d get the post in early this week. But I promise there are NO Star Wars spoilers below!

DopeThis week, I checked out the film Dope. I’d heard good things about the movie, but I don’t get to the theater too much, so I was gonna wait until it came out on Redbox or something. Anyway, if you haven’t seen it, it’s kinda like a Black version of the 1999 film Go. Now, don’t ask me how to explain how I got to that comparison, but I think it’s apt. It’s about high school senior Malcolm and his best friends as they get wrapped up in a messy situation with some drugs. It’s about so much more than that, though. On the heels of the “blerd” movement, it deals a lot with identity and what it means to not be “Black enough”. Malcolm and his friends are in a punk band called Awreeoh (pronounced Oreo), and they idolize 90s hip hop culture. They don’t really fit in with the rest of the kids their age, so they’ve kinda bonded over being outsiders. It’s really fast paced, and doesn’t follow standard chronology. I really enjoyed it, and I think you should check it out if you get the chance.

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Since everyone knows that Star Wars: The Force Awakens comes out this week, I figured I should get acquainted with the work of star John Boyega. For years, I’d been hearing about how great Attack the Block was, so it was finally time for me to check it out. The biggest problem was that I couldn’t really find it streaming anywhere, so I had to resort to…alternative means. Anyway, Boyega stars as the leader of a teenage gang that has set up shop in the projects of South London. One celebratory night, the neighborhood becomes the site of an alien invasion. Once Boyega’s character kills one of the aliens, he and his friends become targets for the rest of the aliens that have landed. While it’s comedic sci fi, it’s got some horror aspects to it. Part of it feels like a Black Goonies (nobody steal that idea!), but there’s also another story being told about the socioeconomic state of a lot of London youth. When the gang teams up with the White woman they had mugged earlier in the movie, they’re shocked to learn that she lives in their building. There’s quite a notion of “Why do YOU live HERE?” Boyega’s slow to boil, but once he gets going, he’s a commanding presence and a good leader. The version I was watching had subtitles turned on, and boy was I glad because it was hard keeping up with the slang AND the accents. Still, it’s a really good movie that I highly recommend.

star trek beyond

The Star Trek Beyond teaser trailer was released this week and, while NuTrek has given us some decent action movies, it has never really understood that that is NOT what Star Trek is about. I understand that it’s just a teaser, but you have to remember that this is *marketing* and, at the moment, they’re marketing it as a high adrenaline Fast and the Furious in Space action movie. That’s not what Star Trek is. Even if that movie turns out to be a completely different animal, the way they’re portraying it is not something a typical Star Trek fan would gravitate towards. That’s been my biggest issue with NuTrek – it acts like it’s ashamed of its own built-in fanbase. Instead of realizing the nice, pretty girl in front of it, it longs for the mega hot cheerleader who has to be tricked into dating it. If you want some Star Trek goodness that won’t disappoint, check out the Deep Space Nine drill down over on this week’s episode of the Nerd Lunch Podcast.

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Speaking of space movies, the trailer was released for Independence Day: Resurgence, and it looks good. In fact, I’m probably more intrigued by it than I was for Star Trek Beyond. Everyone’s back except Will Smith and Mae Whitman. At least Whitman’s character still exists (they recast her, with some folks assuming the studio was looking for a more “conventionally pretty” actress. Not my words!), while Smith’s Colonel Hiller was killed off on a website. Seriously, if you go to http://www.warof1996.com, which is the official viral site for the movie, there’s an entry on the interactive timeline that reveals Hiller was killed in 2007 while test piloting one of the new alien hybrid ships. Seeing how there probably wasn’t a body, I guess Smith could still come back in a third movie. “Look, he was actually teleported to the mothership before the explosion!” But I don’t know if that would work in the world already established by the rest of the franchise.

hasbro

In other movie news, toymaker Hasbro has announced a deal with Paramount to create a shared cinematic universe with their some of their biggest properties from the 80s, including G.I. Joe, ROM, M.A.S.K., Visionairies, and Micronauts. I really don’t know how this is going to work. On the one hand, I could see Joe and M.A.S.K. working together, and I could see ROM and Micronauts working together. But all under the same umbrella, in the same universe? I dunno, man. Everybody’s in love with the idea of the “shared cinematic universe”, but very few understand just how hard it is to pull off. Marvel’s never should’ve worked, and it should be seen as the exception rather than the norm. Sure, this will probably mean more toys for beloved properties, and I’m sure the folks over at IDW Publishing (the comics license holder for most Hasbro properties) are experiencing raging boners over this news, but I’ll believe it when I see it.

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There’s a rumor that James Gunn is looking at Kurt Russell to play Star-Lord’s father in Guardians of the Galaxy 2. Right now, though, it’s just a rumor, so nothing to see here…

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Across the aisle, we got new character posters for Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. They’re decent, but they’re not exactly “taking me from 6 to 12”, if you know what I mean…

Meanwhile, the trailer for something called Knight Rider Heroes surfaced this week, and nobody knows what it is. Based on the URL of http://www.KnightRiderHeroesMovie.com, it appears to be a movie, but it looks more like it’s on the fan film side of things. To its credit, they got Hasselhoff involved, but that dude will pretty much do anything. It’s equal parts cool AND depressing to see Michael Knight 30 years removed from the original series. He’s still wearing that belt and that jacket? He just looks like an out of fashion old man. At least when he showed up in Knight Rider (2008), his look had been modernized somewhat. This dude, however, just looks like a man out of time. Like he’s just been wearing the same thing, and driving the same car since 1986. And if this movie revolves around assembling a team of Knight Riders, it’s already been done. It was called Team Knight Rider, and it desperately needs a DVD release!

ghostbusters reboot

Finally for movies, the first official image was released for Ghostbusters. I know folks hate the idea of this film, but I’m really looking forward to it. It’s got a cast filled with folks that I love, and the original GB isn’t this sacred cow to me that it is for a lot of folks. If you ask me, this movie can’t get here fast enough. Definitely one of my most anticipated of 2016.

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In the world of comics, Marvel officially announced Civil War II. Piggybacking off the upcoming Captain America: Civil War movie, nothing’s really known about this miniseries at the moment. The creative team has been revealed as Brian Michael Bendis writing, with David Marquez on the art. While I’m enjoying their current run on Invincible Iron Man, I’m not sure I’ve forgiven Bendis yet. He’s usually capable with these events, but I just hate to see them going back to the Civil War well, especially so soon after their “soft reboot”. I mean, the post-Secret Wars Marvel Universe is still being solidified, and we’re already about to enter another “Whose Side Are You On?” situation? The timing just doesn’t seem right, other than the fact that Marvel’s got a movie with that name coming out at the same time, that loosely appears to deal with a Superhuman Registration Act. This has “cash grab” written all over it, but maybe it’ll sound more interesting once more details are revealed.

mike-and-molly

In the world of TV, CBS has reportedly canceled Mike & Molly following the upcoming 6th season. It’s a bit sad, as I actually enjoy that show, as schizophrenic as it can be. Seriously, the show is only 6 years old, but has changed direction about 3 times. The first 2 seasons are about a couple that meets in Overeaters Anonymous and fall in love while trying to lose weight. The third season is about their quest to have a baby, and the weight loss journey goes out the window. In the fourth season, Molly quits her job and decides to become a writer, and the show kinda pushes Billy Gardell’s Mike into the background as Melissa McCarthy’s star was on the rise. To be honest, I’m surprised she’s still on a network show, seeing as how her movie career is doing well. She’s said to be heartbroken over the end of the show, however, as no one can really explain why CBS decided to pull the plug. It seems that everyone except Gardell had six-year deals, and CBS isn’t really open to discussions about another season (mainly because they don’t own the show), so Warner Bros (the producing studio) doesn’t want to renew deals with cast members. Now, CBS could just be waiting til the last minute to renew, but it could possibly hurt its relationship with Chuck Lorre, who’s been the force behind CBS’s most popular sitcoms. Anyway, the show made it to syndication, which is “the dream”, but it would’ve been nice if was getting a proper sendoff.


In the world of music, my favorite Spice Girl, Melanie C (“Sporty Spice”), stopped by BBC Radio to perform a stripped down version of one of the best songs off the SpiceWorld album: “Too Much”. Click above to check it out.

thriller

Meanwhile in America, Michael Jackson’s Thriller became the first album to sell 30 million copies in the US, making it 30x Platinum. To put that in perspective, that’s like if everyone in the state of Texas owned a copy. EVERYONE. Even the babies. And a couple of copies for some of the superfans. That is INSANE!

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Who are we kidding here? I’m not gonna insult your intelligence by pretending that Star Wars: The Force Awakens isn’t having the West Week Ever. The thing isn’t even officially in theaters yet (at least for the general public), but it stands to be one of the biggest releases EVER. I promised no spoilers, and I stand by that. Plus, I won’t even be seeing the movie until Saturday morning, so I couldn’t spoil it if I wanted to. Still, nothing came close to Star Wars this week, as the franchise was popping up everywhere from car commercials to bags of oranges. The early reviews are in, and it’s 95% Certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. For the folks who ignore the existence of the prequels, this movie was 30 years in the making and has a lot to prove. I’m not worried, though, as I think it’ll be great. So, for probably breaking every release record known to man, Star Wars: The Force Awakens had the West Week Ever.

11th Dec2015

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 12/11/15

by Will

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Happy Hanukkah to our Jewish friends out there! A pal of mine from the ol’ a cappella days at Cornell put this together with his wife, and I thought I’d share it. I really hope it goes viral.

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On the movie front, you’re gonna hate me for this one. I mean, it was late, and I was bored, and…well I have no excuse. Yes, I watched Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2. Let me just say that I like Kevin James. Even though his movie career only exists because Chris Farley died, I still enjoyed him on The King of Queens. And, to be honest, I didn’t hate the first Paul Blart: Mall Cop. I mean, a hapless mall security guard foils a heist in a local mall. What’s not to like? Well, some movies don’t need sequels, and this is one of them. For 2/3 of the film, it feels like there are 2 different movies going on: one features Paul Blart as a mall security guard whose life just keeps getting worse and the other about Arrow‘s Damien Darhk trying to steal a bunch of priceless art from a casino. Yes, Neal McDonough is in the movie, and I swear he’s playing the same character he currently plays on Arrow. I’d hate to think someone watched this movie and thought to him/herself “This guy would be a perfect villain for Oliver Queen!” The movie actually moves pretty quickly, so it’s basically over before you know it. Both plots eventually overlap, but the resolution is kinda rushed. Plus, it kinda bothers me that Mall Cop is in the title, when there’s NO MALL! They couldn’t call it Paul Blart: Saves Art or Paul Blart: Casino Cop or something like that? Anyway, I watched this movie so that you don’t have to.

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And because I love Kevin James, but hate myself, I then watched Here Comes the Boom. Oddly enough, it was on another network at the same time as Paul Blart 2 (yeah, I DVRed it…). For a minute, I thought maybe James had died and that the cable networks were paying tribute to him. I had to Google it just to make sure. Anyway, if you’ve never seen it, it’s your standard “We gotta save the youth center!” movie. Kevin James is a former Teacher of the Year who’s now suffering from burn out. Meanwhile, the music teacher finds out his wife is pregnant just before it’s announced that all special programs – including the music department – will be cut due to budgetary constraints. Feeling bad for his colleague, James decides to raise the money to keep the music department going. And the way he decides to do this? Mixed martial arts. He finds out that he can make a tidy sum just by losing fights, so he gets good enough to qualify, but not really to win. You’ll never watch this movie, so I’ll spoil it for you: he saves the music department. There are a whole bunch of unnecessary twists, like a last minute embezzling subplot, but he saves the day and rekindles his love of teaching in the process.  It has all the staples of a Kevin James movie, including a small part for his brother, Gary Valentine. Surprisingly, he got in decent shape for this movie. I mean, he’s still Kevin James, but you could tell he at least did some training for the role. As formulaic as it was, I didn’t hate this movie, but there’s no need for you to watch it.

unfinished business

Unfinished Business is not a very good movie. The trailer portrayed it as this European drug and sex romp, while the actual thing tried to have more purpose. It didn’t know if it wanted to be EuroTrip or Glengarry Glen Ross. Vince Vaughn plays himself, as he does in all of his movies. Only this time he’s a struggling salesman who strikes out on his own after a disagreement with his boss. So then it becomes a race between him and the former boss to lock up a prized account on a business trip to Germany. Meanwhile, he’s accompanied by an older sales exec and a dimwitted sales applicant played by Dave Franco. Many of the jokes are supposed to come from Franco, but most of his material falls flat. Meanwhile, the movie tries to add heart by focusing on the fact that Vaughn is only trying to get this deal so that he can put his bullied son into private school where he’ll be protected. I love Vaughn, but this wasn’t his best work.

the league

A lot went on in the world of television this week. First up, FXX’s The League aired its series finale, and it was TERRIBLE. To be honest, as much as I love the idea of the show, it should’ve ended about 3 seasons ago. It just hasn’t been funny, and watching it has felt like a chore. If you’ve never seen it, The League centers around a group of friends in Chicago, and the goings on in their fantasy football league. I don’t give a rat’s ass about sports, but the football kinda took a backseat. Sure, there were a lot of player cameos where I was left wondering “Who’s that guy?”, but none of that really hindered my enjoyment of the show. The creators used to work on Curb Your Enthusiasm, so it has that loosely improvised thing going for it. The finale, however, didn’t feel like a true finale. This is odd, considering they’ve known this was the final season since before they started filming. It’s not like FX canceled them midway through the episode order. They had time to wrap things up neatly, but instead they gave us an off-the-wall episode that really didn’t accomplish much. It even squandered a Larry David cameo. So, I don’t hate it as much as I hated the Seinfeld or How I Met Your Mother (which I watched again a few weeks ago, and may be coming around on) finales, but it’s up there. What a sad end to what was once a great show.

superstore

On NBC, they showed a sneak preview of the comedy Superstore last week, and I caught the first 3 episodes On Demand. At first, I thought the concept sounded dreadful, even though the commercials made me laugh. I mean, who wants to watch a show set in a Walmart? That’s essentially what it is, as it follows the employees working in a branch of the Cloud 9 superstore. Reviews, however, have been kind and it’s being called one of the greatest workplace comedies. When I saw it was starring America Ferrera (Ugly Betty), that didn’t really do much for me. Then, I noticed it was also starring friend of a friend Ben Feldman (A to Z), and then I was all about it (he’s a good dude, and he really needs a win). Plus, after talking trash about it on Twitter, I started talking to one of the writers, who also wrote for Happy Endings. SOLD! Anyway, after watching, I can confirm that it’s really funny. I don’t know if it’ll last (the cast is FULL of folks from recently canceled shows, like Super Fun Night, so maybe they’re cursed), but I’ll watch it when it becomes a regular part of the schedule. That’s what scares me, though – it’ll be airing Mondays against Gotham, Supergirl, and whatever ABC’s running at the time. That’s some stiff competition, but it doesn’t take much to succeed on NBC right now, so we’ll just have to wait and see.

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It’s not all great news, however, as NBC also showed a sneak preview of Telenovela (originally called Hot & Bothered). Starring Eva Longoria as a Spanish soap opera star who doesn’t know Spanish, the show is DREADFUL. I’m sure its existence does wonders for the number of minorities on prime time television, but it would’ve been nice if they’d been given something quality to work with. Starting in January, Telenovela will air after Superstore on Monday night, but don’t be surprised if we’re getting back-to-back chunks of Superstore a few weeks in.

wayward pines

Fox announced that Wayward Pines had been renewed for a second season. This is both good and bad news. It’s good because the first season was excellent. It’s bad, though, because the show worked so much better as a One and Done series. Sure, there’s material there for more story, but sometimes it’s best to leave something to the imagination. If you didn’t watch the first season, it starred Matt Dillon as a special agent who finds himself trapped in the mysterious town of Wayward Pines. And that is merely the tip of the iceberg. There is SO much going on in the show, but I loved every twist and turn. I fear a second season might be like Empire – a Fox show with a great first season, and a second season that feels like an incredible chore.

A few hours ago, the trailer was released for X-Men: Apocalypse. I have no real gripes with it, but I’m not especially excited for it, either. I feel like, at this point, you pretty much know what you’re gonna get with a Bryan Singer X-Men movie. There’s a specific tone to it, and that’s that. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, but there aren’t really any surprises. I do hate that Mystique is on the team. That’s a big problem with Jennifer Lawrence’s star power: it’s like she refuses to take roles that may portray her in a bad light. I get it – she’s a big star now, and she needs a showcase. I just kinda preferred the “less is more” Mystique that we got from Rebecca Romijn instead of Lawrence’s “front and center” portrayal. This isn’t a Must See In Theaters movie for me right now, but I said the same thing about Days of Future Past, and ended up seeing it opening night. So, we’ll just have to wait and see.

star wars force awakens figures

We’re less than a week away from the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but it’s not without controversy. Apparently, some toys have hit shelves that weren’t supposed to be out yet. I won’t say what they are, so as not to spoil anything for anyone. Still, folks who’ve bought the figures have been showing them off online, only to be surprised that they’re hit with takedown orders from Hasbro. The toy company is threatening to sue these people for showing off unreleased product, but they really shouldn’t be going after the fans. Instead, they should be going after the stores that are ignoring the street dates. Anyway, some sites are calling for a boycott of Hasbro products for doing this, but that’s a pretty unrealistic request when Hasbro is about to make a kajillion dollars.

 

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It was quite an interesting week for me in the world of social media. You see, on Monday night, there was an attractive Jeopardy contestant named Liz Fritz. The thing I noticed about her, however, was that she was RACKTACULAR (I coined that term for someone back in college). So, I tweeted about it. Little did I know she’d actually search the #Jeopardy hashtag. I mean, isn’t she supposed to be smart? Smart people are busy, and they know better than to do that. So, anyway, here’s what transpired:

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I checked her timeline, and I was far from the worst offender, so I didn’t feel too bad.

Jeopardy Tweet Strangers

 

She apparently got 4 different marriage proposals, and a ton of dudes trying to chat her up. Oh, and she got about 300 new Twitter followers from the whole thing. She was cool about it, and gave as well as she got. I’m not proud of this. Sometimes I start tweeting, and just kinda lose my filter…

Meanwhile, it seems a bunch of huckleberries found my Storage Wars tweet from a few weeks back:

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For some reason, one of the Storage Wars stars, Rene, replied to me right after I tweeted it, but waited a week to retweet it. And then the replies started coming in:

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That last tweet, from “Strnbiker”, was even favorited by Casey Nezhoda herself. My favorite part, however, was “WhoreCuddler” calling Mary a “spinner” and then having the audacity to tag her in his tweet. I’m sure she loved that!

Stargate Atlantis Season 6

A friend of mine started a comic publisher, and one of his first books is going to be Stargate: Atlantis Season 6. The company, American Mythology, decided to go the Kickstarter route, which I wasn’t really sure about. Well, boy do I have pie on my face, as they hit their goal with days to spare! If you’re a Stargate fan, and want to get in on the action, you’ve still got 4 days to go. Check it out here.

Power Pinups

If you’ve still got some money left after supporting that Kickstarter, it appears some of the former Pink and Yellow Power Rangers got together to create a pinup calendar. I wish I could say proceeds were going to charity or something, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Anyway, I’d post the video, but it autoplays, and I can’t post any pics because they watermarked the shit out of them. So, if you’re interested, just go here.

Links I Loved

The Day My Daughter Realized She Isn’t White – The Washington Post

Marvel Comics’ Secret Weapon Is A Woman Named Sana Amanat – Vox

The Origin Story of SNL’s Edgy Rival, MADtv – scpr.org

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

Opinion: I Don’t Want An Asian-American Iron Fist – Comic Book Resources

Why I Left Mormonism Behind for Judaism—and Couldn’t Be Happier – Fusion

An Oral History of The League – ESPN

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While I considered just giving the West Week Ever to the big boobed smart girl, something came along later in the week that I really enjoyed. You see, the trailer was released for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows. And it had something for everyone: Arrow‘s Stephen Amell kicking ass as Casey Jones, Tyler Perry not dressed as an old woman, some Megan Fox fan service, and the best part of all – after nearly 30 years, we’re finally getting live action versions of Shredder’s cronies Rocksteady and Bebop.

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If you remember, I didn’t hate the last TMNT movie. Most people were up in arms because it was a Michael Bay production, and Megan Fox was seen as terrible casting for April and blah blah blah. I used to LOVE the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and, while I didn’t warm up to the 2003 interpretation of the property, I still loved most versions of it I’ve seen. So I was looking forward to the movie. Like I said back in January, I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it. I thought there was a lot of workable material there, and it looks like they’re taking advantage of that in this sequel. Chris over at The Robot’s Pajamas had a great breakdown of the trailer, but I’ve got to say that I’m actually excited about this one. So, for finally giving us Rocksteady and Bebop (seriously, that’s all it took to get me to buy in), the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows trailer had the West Week Ever.

20th Nov2015

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 11/20/15

by Will

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charlie-sheen

The biggest news this week had to come from Charlie Sheen, as he announced his HIV-positive status on the Today Show. There’s been a lot of backlash here, as folks have been saying things like “He deserved it” or “Look how he lived”. Yeah, he was a bit flamboyant, but I don’t think you ever expect anyone to get HIV, even if you joke about it. Apparently, he contracted it around 2011, and has paid out over $10 million to people trying to blackmail him. I’ve got a theory here: if you do the math, he contracted the disease around the time that he lost his shit and got fired from Two and a Half Men. After all, he left that show in season 9, which premiered in 2011. That can’t be an easy thing to learn about one’s self, and so he embarked on a whole bunch of self-destructive behavior. To be honest, I’m really amazed he’s still alive based on some of the antics he was getting into. I was waiting for them to find him dead any day. Anyway, it’s unfortunate that things turned out this way, and there’s a LOT of slut-shaming going on when it comes to Sheen. Sure, he did some risky stuff, but nobody *deserves* HIV. Luckily, he’s got it under control, as it seems to be undetectable at the moment. I have an odd fascination with Sheen, and always want to see him come out on top. After the Two and a Half Men firing, I was glad when he got Anger Management (even though I’ve only seen a handful of episodes), and I hope he comes out on top from this, too.

Into-the-Badlands

It was a great week for TV, including some excellent episodes of Arrow and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Unfortunately, it was a week that also saw the premiere of AMC’s Into the Badlands. This show is BAD, and I don’t mean that in the late 80s sense of the word. The main character is a great fighter, and there are some beautifully choreographed action sequences, but he’s wooden and not very likable. He’s not someone I see myself wanting to root for. The story is weak, and they’re trying to hide that behind the action. Someone on Twitter said that you don’t watch Enter the Dragon for the story and writing, but that was just a one-off movie. This is a serialized drama that expects the viewer to come back week after week for six episodes. The only thing I liked about the show was the it reminded me of the crappy syndicated stuff I used to watch on our WB affiliate back when I was in high school. As a Saturday afternoon show, filmed in New Zealand on the cheap, it gets the job done. As a centerpiece of a cable network’s schedule, it woefully falls shorts. I saw a review that called it a “rough draft of a show”, and I couldn’t agree more. There are some interesting ideas there, but it’s a show that does both too much and nothing at all, at once.

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In TV news, Sons of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter preemptively cancelled his latest show, Bastard Executioner, by placing the above ad in The Hollywood Reporter. While Sutter says that he and FX came to the decision mutually, he said that he knew the writing was on the wall, and he didn’t “want to write something that nobody’s f—ing watching.” Though the show had only wrapped up its first season, he knew that the audience just wasn’t there – in part due to the glut of period shows on television at the moment. I know when I saw the ads for it, it just looked like Game of Thrones for the basic cable audience. Why watch that when you can get the titties and gore of the REAL Game of Thrones? I’d be curious to know just how much sway Sutter had in the cancellation decision, but it was at least nice of FX to let him spin it that way.

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In other TV news, we finally have the first new show cancellation of the season, and that honor goes to ABC’s Wicked City! After months of networks unofficially cancelling shows by cutting back on initial episode orders, Wicked City is the first show to be snatched out of its timeslot, only to be replaced by reruns of Shark Tank. Meanwhile, other networks are just delaying the inevitable. For example, Fox doesn’t even promote Minority Report anymore, but they don’t have anything on the bench ready to replace it yet. Anyway, if you remember my Upfronts post last Spring, you know that I never really saw success in Wicked City‘s future. Now the race is on to see what will be the SECOND cancelled show of the season. I’m thinking it’ll be something on NBC or ABC’s Blood & Oil.

shamy

On The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon and Amy are finally going to have sex. I think this is a TERRIBLE move. But most of you hate that show with a passion, so you don’t really give a shit. Can we talk about that for a minute? Sure, I don’t understand why the show is a rating’s juggernaut, as it seems like the kind of show that would be on the bubble every Spring, just eking out a renewal. That said, I don’t understand the unbridled hatred that people feel for the show. I actually enjoy it, but I’ve also been known to like “bad TV”. Still, it’s kind of offensive when people describe it as “Blackface for nerds”, as I think the show has evolved past the cliches of nerds that dominated the early seasons. When I saw the pilot, I thought it was a nerdy reverse Three’s Company, and that it wouldn’t last. The show has really grown since then, and I kinda feel like the Sheldon character does a lot for Asperger’s representation on television. But, it’s cool to hate things these days, and I’ve never been one of the cool kids. Anyway, why do I think it’s a bad idea for “ShAmy” to have sex? Well, for one thing, Sheldon’s head would explode. His character, despite his age and character growth, is nowhere near ready for that kind of intimate development. The show is in its 9th season, so clearly they’re out of ideas, but we’re talking about a character who can barely kiss his serious girlfriend. Now you expect me to believe he’s going to put his penis inside her? No dice, Chuck Lorre and CBS!

zoolander

The trailer was released this week for the Zoolander sequel, stylized as 2oolander. Ten years ago, this would’ve been my most anticipated movie of 2016. I LOVED the first one, but I feel like too much time has passed. It’s not like Zoolander has really been introduced to the younger generation or anything. Plus, it’s interesting to me that Christine Taylor is nowhere in the trailer. Did she and Derrick Zoolander NOT live happily ever after? It’s even more odd to me, considering that she’s Ben Stiller’s actual wife. It’s not like she’s gonna turn down the role. Anyway, fifteen years have passed, and I’m just not sure the audience is there for this. The original movie came out on September 28th, 2001. Check that date. America needed to laugh at something foolish, and this movie delivered. I think that timing had a LOT to do with its success, and we’re just not there at this time.

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In other movie news, Alexandra Daddario has joined The Rock and Zac Efron in the Baywatch movie. I really don’t know if we’re supposed to take this movie seriously, or if it’ll be like the Jump Street movies. Basically nothing is known about it at this point, though it’s been in development forever. I’m pretty sure you can guarantee a cameo by The Hoff, but that’s about it. Anyway, this gave me a chance to post a picture of Alexandra Daddario.

100 years

John Malkovich has a new movie that you’ll never see. But if you’re lucky, your ancestors might get a shot to see it. It’s called 100 Years, and it won’t be released until November 18th, 2115. The movie’s a collaboration between Malkovich and director Robert Rodriguez as a promotion for Louis XIII Cognac, which is aged 100 years. They’ve even created 3 separate teasers for the movie, yet none of that footage is in the actual film. The idea is that 1,000 specific people will receive a metal movie ticket that they are to pass down to their descendants. If the world’s even still around in 2115, I bet folks’ll have more to concern themselves with than an old movie, but it’s an interesting concept.

(Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

In sports news, UFC champ Ronda Rousey got her ass handed to her by a swift kick to the throat from Holly Holm. I’ve never really been a Rousey fan, as I always felt she was like “trying to make ‘fetch’ happen”. Everybody just expected so much from her that she was bound to disappoint us eventually. They were trying to make her an action star, just because she was a good fighter. There was no evidence that she even had acting chops, but Hollywood thought “Well, if she can fight in real life, she can fight onscreen.” And she never seemed to have any humility. Basically, she carried herself like Apollo Creed in Rocky IV, and she almost got the same ending.

In a first for the Barbie brand, a boy appears in the latest commercial for Moschino Barbie. While I find it hard to believe boys haven’t been in Barbie ads in the past (not even as the bratty little brother?), this little kid is pretty historic. Watch the ad, and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

In music news, Carly Simon revealed that the second verse of “You’re So Vain” is about actor Warren Beatty. Of course she’s promoting an upcoming memoir, so she’ll probably say anything to sell those books. If you ask me, I preferred Family Guy‘s theory on who the song was about:

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Things You Might Have Missed This Week

-Former Subway pitchman, Jared Fogle, was sentenced to fifteen years and eight months in jail for having sex with underage prostitutes. And that sound you hear is every hack comedian making a “$5 footlong” joke.

-It was a dark week for print media, as Condé Nast announced that it was ceasing publication of men’s magazine Details. Meanwhile across the pond, lad mags Zoo and FHM ceased publication in the UK.

-Gossip site Gawker is rebranding as a political website. While you probably know them from the Hulk Hogan sex tape, they’re getting out of the gossip game and focusing on the 2016 election.

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-It was a meeting of the podcast Mega Powers, as Nerd Lunch joined UnderScoopFire in a teamup that’s been years in the making. Listen to Part 1 and Part 2.

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Speaking of podcasts, I had the honor of joining Jason over at Rediscover the ’80s for the Recurrent Events Podcast last night. Plus, I finally got to “meet” my buddy (and sometimes rival) Chad E. Young. We had a great time discussing the week’s top pop culture headlines, so check it out here.

Links I Loved

Review: Mannequin by Laurie of Knit Terrors – Horror Movie BBQ

Life After Nickelodeon: Jennette McCurdy Grows Up – Vulture

Agents of SHIELD Is at the Top of its Game, and That’s Amazing to Watch – io9

Police Academy 2 & 3 Double Feature – TBD

Galactic Book Club — Star Wars: Aftermath (2015) – 30ish Days of Star Wars – Double Dumbass On You

The Exact Moment When Justice League Unlimited Delivered the Perfect Animated Batman Story – io9

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This week sucked for positive news, but someone who’s definitely having a great week would be Adele. Today sees the release of her hotly anticipated third album, 25, which won’t be made available to streaming services. This move guarantees sales, as that (or piracy) are the only way you’ll get to hear the thing. It’s projected to be the fastest-selling album of all time, which would beat *NSYNC’s record of 2.4 million copies of No Strings Attached sold the week it was released back in 2000. In addition to the album release, her previous album, 21, was named by Billboard as the #1 album of all time, based on some kind of crazy math they did regarding number of weeks at number one on the charts. I’m not even gonna get into their methodology, as there are some crazy results on that list (The Sound of Music soundtrack beating Thriller?!), so part of me feels like Columbia Records might’ve slipped a few dollars into Billboard’s coffers to make this “momentous” accomplishment coincide with the release of a new album. Either way, I’ve been listening to the album as I wrote this post, and if you’re an Adele fan you won’t be disappointed. So, for figuring out how to remain relevant in a rapidly dying industry, Adele had the West Week Ever.

As always, thanks for reading – and be sure to Like the new West Week Ever page on Facebook!

02nd Nov2015

Mail Call Monday – SummerSwap 2015

by Will

In the words of the immoral theme to Enterprise, “It’s been a long road, getting from there to here.” Not only has it been about 2 years since the last “Mail Call Monday”, but I should’ve written this post about 2 months ago. You see, over the summer, my pal @Dex1138 decided to hold the SummerSwap 2015 – he filled a Priority Box full of geeky stuff, and sent it off to someone. That person was to take what they wanted, and then replace those items with more geeky stuff, and send it off to the next person. And so on and so on. A lot of the folks participating were former members of The League of Extraordinary Bloggers, so I knew I was in good company. I got the box around August, and here’s what I grabbed:

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First up, we’ve got some stickers. I’m a sucker for stickers. When I was 3, I covered out refrigerator with Garbage Pail Kids stickers. My mom initially thought they were cute Cabbage Patch stickers…until it was too late! Muhuhahahahahahaha! Anyway, when I saw these in the box, I had to grab them. There’s a pack of stickers from the Cult Film Club Podcast (check them out if you haven’t already!), and CFC co-host Shawn also included a sticker for his own blog, Branded in the 80s. There’s a pretty sweet Avengers car decal, as well as a nice Masters of the Universe sticker. Rounding them out, there’s a Goonies sticker from the Goonies trading card series.

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Next up, there were the DVDs. First, I grabbed a movie called Manborg. I’ve never heard of it, and I have no clue what it’s about, but it looked too campy to pass up. I look forward to watching it one lonely Winter Saturday. I also grabbed Shogun Assassin, as I actually don’t have any martial arts movies in my collection, so it seemed like as good a time to add one. Finally, I grabbed the Ghostbusters Blu-Ray. I already own the movie, but it’s in DVD format. When it comes to upgrading to the Blu-Ray format, I made a promise to myself that I would only get “epic” movies that deserved to be Blu-Rays. Sure, I kinda broke that rule when I got This Is 40 (long story short: the store was going out of business, and it was, like, $3), but I think Ghostbusters fits that description.

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And here’s the rest. I figured we should take a closer look at each item, so you’ll get a full understanding as to what I grabbed.

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First, there’s a small graphic novel called The Black Wraith. I feel like I actually used to own this, but I’m a sucker for intriguing indie GNs, so I’m looking forward to reading it.

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Next up, I got a glow-in-the-dark mini Mordle. If you’re not familiar with Mordles, you clearly don’t know @JohnDoctorKent. They’re cool little monsters that look great on your desk.

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Then, there was a tiny Pac-Man candy container that works pretty well with 4″ action figures. I plan to take tons of pictures of Finn and Batman, only to post them on Instagram to be completely ignored.

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This is a 20-yr old Happy Meal morpher from when the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers movie came out. Whoever put this in the box must’ve known it was coming to me. The moment my then-5 month old saw this, she immediately put it in her mouth (that’s her seal of approval). At that moment, there was no doubt that she was my daughter, and I cancelled our trip to the Maury show.

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Finally, there was this mini Bluetooth speaker. The wife was just saying that she wanted one, and voila! Superman sure works in mysterious ways. It’s even got a suction cup, so you can mount it in the shower. There was also a Wolf-Man mini bust, but my pal Keith is a huge Universal Monsters fan, so it found its way into his possession before I could take a picture.

So, what did I add to the box? Well, you can see a lot of it here. Needless to say, I added a LOT of Batman stuff. LEGO, trade paperbacks, etc. And since the box seemed to have a decidedly horror theme to it, I threw in some of that stuff, as well.

Oh, and the box had an official mascot in the form of Dracula. Once we received the box, we were to take pics of Drac in his new surroundings.

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Here’s Drac with the wife’s wine bottle collection. I guess he heard there were “spirits” nearby. Ha!

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Gamera and Alex wanted to show Drac their cork collection. He was far from impressed.

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BIFF! SOCK! Dracula was invited to a swinging 60s party, but he wasn’t really feeling it.

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Drac later checked in on the local villain scene, but realized he was overdressed for the festivities.

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Finally, Drac hung out with Not Hobbes. Yes, that’s what I named him. The Target Corporation is really skating on thin ice with this one. The photo is blurry to protect Drac’s identity when Bill Watterson’s lawyers come calling.

In the end, it was a fun experiment, and I’d like to thank Dex for putting it together. I hope he organizes it again next year, as I definitely want to participate. And I promise not to take so long with my recap next time. Meanwhile, be sure to check out his blog AEIOU…and Sometimes Why.

22nd Sep2015

Retro Con 2015 In Pictures

by Will

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

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

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

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

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

The Cosplay

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

Penelope Pitstop

Penelope Pitstop

 

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

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

 

The Toys

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

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My meager Retro Con haul

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

04th Sep2015

West Week Ever – 9/4/15

by Will

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Snowpiercer-2

So, this week I finally got around to watching Snowpiercer. I’d heard nothing but great things about it, but it had taken me forever to finally sit down and watch it. I had a ton of work to do, so I figured I’d just have it on in the background, but it ended up getting my undivided attention. If you’ve never heard of the movie, here’s the deal: in the near future, scientists decide to combat Global Warming by releasing a chemical called CW-7 into the atmosphere. Well, the substance worked too well, and resulted in another ice age – and the extinction of humanity. So, the last bastion of humanity survives on “The Rattling Ark”, a train that traverses the globe annually. The train, however, is set up on a class system, with the rich up front, and the poor common folk in the tail section. The rich dine on steak, while the poor initially had to resort to cannibalism until they were given protein supplement bars. Well, the tail section decides to fight their way to the engine, in order to take control of the train. The resistance is led by Chris Evans, and the movie follows his group as they move forward, from car to car. I tend not to like End of The World/mass death movies, but this one was really good. And that ending! Anyway, I highly recommend this movie.

Spice World

A few weeks back, when I was on The Nerd Lunch Podcast, we discussed things that get a “bad rap”. One thing that was mentioned was the movie Spice World. I have always hated this movie. As I explained in the episode, it was the first movie I’d ever ordered as Pay-Per-View, and I was begging for it to be over. It just completely lost my attention. I mean, the biggest American star in the thing was George Wendt! Now, oddly enough, I was a big Spice Girls fans, so I should’ve been the target audience. Plus, I LOVE crappy movies starring pop groups (see: 2gether and S Club: Seeing Double). Since it was on a few nights ago, I decided to give it another chance. And the verdict? Still hate it. It’s got NO plot. I mean, there’s something about a British tabloid guy who wants to break up the group, and then they have this pregnant friend that they kept neglecting ’cause they’re too busy for her normal ass. And then Mark McKinney (remember him?) and George Wendt are American filmmakers who might be filming the movie that we’re watching, meanwhile Alan Cumming is a documentarian who’s also filming a movie about the group. And then the group breaks up for some reason. This is the part that got me, because it flashes back to when they were a younger, struggling group – like they all grew up together or something. It totally neglects to acknowledge that the group was formed like every other British pop group: they answered a casting call. Anyway, they come back together just as their normal ass friend is about to give birth, and then they all reunite for their concert at Albert Hall just in time to sing “Spice Up Your Life”. I did not like this movie. Love the girls (especially Sporty), and love the music, but did not love this film.

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I also caught the standup special, Jay Pharoah: Can I Be Me? If you watch SNL, then you know Jay Pharoah as “the Black guy who’s not Kenan”. He also does a pretty good Obama. Anyway, I guess he got this hour special off the back of his impressions, because his standup jokes need work. He can do a mean Denzel and Bernie Mac, but his jokes were kinda lame. Even the audience wasn’t really feeling it, but he always got a pop when he’d break out the impressions. If he gets another special, he either needs to hone his material, or just focus on impressions the way Rich Little does.

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Last week, I mentioned the McWhopper proposed by Burger King. Since McDonalds declined the invitation, a few other burger chains have approached BK about participating. So, now BK is proposing the Peace Day Burger, which would contain signature ingredients from Denny’s, Krystal, and some places called Giraffas and Wayback Burger. McDonald’s is still invited to participate if they change their mind, but now BK is courting other suitors. They plan to go ahead with the pop-up shop that was already under construction in Atlanta, so I really hope this goes through.

marvel studios

This week, it was announced that the film division of Marvel Studios will now report directly to Disney, in a move that was supported by Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige. Apparently, there had been some creative pushback from Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter, and Feige had threatened to leave the company. This also means the end of the Marvel Creative Committee – the group comprised of Marvel Entertainment President Alan Fine, Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada, Publisher Dan Buckley, and writer Brian Michael Bendis – which has guided the Marvel Cinematic Universe since its inception. Folks are now wondering what this means for the future of the Marvel movies. Will the audience even notice a difference, or is this a major creative shakeup that will be felt at all throughout future movies. This especially makes things messy for the television division, which will reportedly stay under the direction of Marvel Enterprises. There had been rumors that Marvel Studios and Marvel Enterprises weren’t playing nice together, and this could affect the possibility of any of the TV characters making it into the films. Right now, only time will tell.

Superman 43 reveal

Speaking of the comic world, I finally got around to reading Superman #43, which is the issue where *SPOILER ALERT* Lois Lane reveals Superman’s identity to the world. It shouldn’t be too much of a spoiler, as every Superman book recently has revolved around the fact that the world knows his identity, and we were waiting for that golden moment where the reveal would be shown. Having read the issue, I can now say that this was a TERRIBLE idea. I’m not even talking about the repercussions of such an action. I’m saying that, from a story perspective, the threat level wasn’t high enough to warrant what Lois did. There was no alien invasion, there were no life or death stakes. No, Superman was being tortured by a tech collective called HORDR (think Evil Google), and they were blackmailing him. They want to test his new Super Flare (this stupid new thing where he basically explodes) power out on their energy siphoning creatures, and they torture him to see how much he can take. If he refuses, they reveal his identity to the world. Lois felt that by doing it herself, she would take away their leverage, allowing Superman to break free. OK, that’s really stupid. It was just torture. Superman has dealt with far worse. They didn’t even have Kryptonite or anything. It seems like she was just dying to tell the world (which was a dick move, considering she had just spent the earlier part of the issue promising to keep his secret). I really hope DC has some grand plan as to why his ID needs to be public, because this story so far sure hasn’t justified that decision.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

-The Summer of Breakups continues, as Avril Lavigne and Chad Kroeger announced they were separating after 2 years of marriage. I’m sure folks are gonna use this opportunity to make a bunch of Nickelback jokes, but I actually like some of their songs…

-NBC’s reboot of the sitcom Coach will not be going ahead at the network. It sounded like a terrible idea, but I was still morbidly curious.

Diggle Suit

-It appears that Diggle will finally be getting a costume on Arrow. As the internet has already pointed out, he just looks like Magneto.

-The MTV Video Music Awards were last Sunday, where host Miley Cyrus exposed her left breast, and Kanye West announced he’s running for President in 2020. For the record, Kanye was the bigger boob that night.

Marvel’s Luke Cage made 2 casting announcements this week, as Mahershala Ali will play Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes, while Simone Missick will play Misty Knight.

force friday

So, last night I had dinner with my Thrift Justice partner, Mike (for those new to the site, Thrift Justice is the series where I write about all the cool stuff Mike and I find while thrifting). We had been a bit estranged lately because Mike’s lost his passion for the yard sale thing. This was a bum season, and it has kinda taken its toll. Anyway, we had dinner to catch up, and when the meal was done, we decided to check out Force Friday – the worldwide release of the Star Wars: The Force Awakens toys. This was going to prove a problem, however, as it was 9:30 PM, and the toys wouldn’t be released until 12:01 AM. So, how would we kill time?

At first, we were going to see a movie, but nothing good was playing. It had pretty much come down to Owen Wilson’s No Escape (which I’ll probably DVR when it hits HBO) or Transporter: Refueled. While waiting for the showtimes, I checked the Force Friday website to see what kinda swag was being offered. It turned out that only 207 Target stores in the country were opening at midnight, and the closest one to us was almost 2 hrs away in Hagerstown. Meanwhile, all Toys “R” Us stores would be giving away a free poster and commemorative LEGO brick to the people came to shop. Hagerstown started looking like the best option, since TRU is right across the shopping center parking lot from Target.

We got to TRU around 11, and sat in the car for a bit. Did we really wanna wait in line with this…riffraff? Eventually, we decided that we did. Standing in line, we reminisced about our days working at TRU, and chatted with the guy in line ahead of us. At 12:01, they opened the doors, but they treated it like a club. This burly guy in a TRU shirt acted as the bouncer, as he only let in a certain amount of people at a time. Instead of setting the merchandise up in the Feature Shop (the showcase at the front of the store), the toys were all located in the first boys aisle, on both sides of the aisle. So, you could understand why they were only letting in a few at a time, as only so many people could fit in an aisle. Their first mistake was this setup. Their second mistake was that they had a 3-per item limit on everything. So, for example, you could get 3 Star Wars Black 6″ Finn figures, and then move on and get 3 of something else, and so on. So, as you can imagine, the 6″ Star Wars Black line was the first to go. I stood outside, like a hungry orphan, looking through the window as other dudes were buying my toys. By the time I got to the aisle, all the Star Wars Black – the stuff I was specifically looking for – was gone. Meanwhile, this mom with a PHAT ASS was barking orders at her son, as she filled a cart with 3 of everything. Now, remember how I told you everything and everyone was crammed into one aisle, and she had the gall to navigate a cart into that madness! When I left the aisle, she was arguing with the employees because they didn’t have all of the items she had set out to by. I quickly grabbed a 4″ Finn and Captain Phasma just so that I could say I bought something on Force Friday. I went to the register, checked out, and got my poster and LEGO brick.

Next, we decided to hit up Target. As you can imagine, due to the proximity, all of the folks who were ahead of us in line at TRU had already beat us to Target. So, they were also out of Star Wars Black. They were having a drawing for 3 giant Wookiees, so Mike and I waited around, hoping to win the raffle. We did not win. And exactly the kind of guys you’re picturing in your head are the ones who won. Just a bunch of friggin’ neckbeards. Out of some kind of impulse, I bought another Finn (this one to keep in package. I know, I know…) and Kylo Renn’s three-pronged lightsaber. We didn’t even discuss hitting up the nearby Walmart, and we began the journey back to Rockville where I’d left my car. In all, I was pretty disappointed with Force Friday. Sure, I had walked away with a free tote bag (Thanks, Target!) and that disappointing LEGO piece (it wasn’t even a brick. It was more like a panel), but I still hadn’t found what I was looking for (cue U2). I went to sleep thinking that Force Friday, while interesting to observe, had been a bust as a participant.

This morning, however, I remembered that it’s still Friday. Sure, everything kicked off at midnight, but not every store had been open, so maybe the stores that were just opening this morning would have a better selection. So, I hit 2 Targets on the way to work. At the first store, the selection was almost better than what I had observed at the Hagerstown Target last night. I found some Star Wars Black, and walked away with a 6″ Kylo Renn and Rey. At the next Target, I found what I’d been wanting the whole time: Star Wars Black 6″ Finn. I know nothing of his character, and I know nothing of the actor, but I needed him for much the same reason a lot of Black folks voted for Obama: he was a Black dude. Outside of Lando, we don’t have a ton of representation in the Star Wars Universe, and Lando’s kind of a bastard. I mean, he sells them out, and suffers no real repercussions. Sure, he’s on the side of the good guys at the end, but his character is still kinda devious. I like Finn’s character design, and he’s probably the reason I’m most excited for The Force Awakens. So, with my grail piece in hand, I walked out of the store with a smile on my face. Force Friday had been redeemed!

Looking back on it all, I would’ve made out a lot better if I had just skipped the midnight stuff, and just checked the stores this morning. The selection was much better, and you didn’t have to deal with the smelly masses. Still, it was nice to be part of the excitement of the midnight release. I’m not primarily a Star Wars “fan”, per se, but I can appreciate that folks are excited about a new installment of this thing that they love. Force Friday represents our first official glance at the world to come, so it’s pretty important – even if its goal was just to sell a shit ton of toys. So, in my mind, Force Friday is having the West Week Ever.

26th Jun2015

West Week Ever – 6/26/15

by Will

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briefcase

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

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

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

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

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

Photographer Dennis Stylist Lin

Photographer Dennis
Stylist Lin

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

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

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

General-Lee

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

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

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

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

Links I Loved

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

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

Why I Left Scientology – Gawker

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

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

ctu27

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

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

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

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

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