23rd Dec2016

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 12/23/16

by Will

Happy Birthday to me!!! Seriously, I should’ve just taken the week off, since A) it’s my birthday, B) I blew my blogging wad earlier this week, and C) nobody ever reads this thing on holiday weekends. So, brace yourself for the most phoned in West Week Ever you’ve ever seen!

Earlier this week, I posted The Greatest Threat To The Direct Market Comic Retailer IS The Direct Market Comic Retailer. Plainly put, comic retailers are their own worst enemy, but the industry also isn’t helped by the dinosaurs (both retailers and consumers) who refuse to grow with the times. There’s not really much more I can say that I didn’t say in the post, but check it out if you haven’t yet. It’s gotten some great feedback, and I’m pretty proud of it.

Justice League Action finally premiered last Friday as a “special” on Cartoon Network. I haven’t watched it yet, but it’s on my DVR. Look for a review next week. In the meantime, when looking for this image, I found a lot of YouTube clips using the word “FAIL” in regards to the series, so I guess folks aren’t liking it? Or maybe it’s the fact that it’s geared towards younger kids while older folks were probably hoping for a JL show like we had 10 years ago? Like I said, I’ll form an opinion by next week.

In Power Rangers news, Lionsgate continues to fail at properly marketing the film, as the toys keep revealing more than the studio. Earlier this week, a Toys “R” Us commercial online revealed the movie design for Rita’s henchman Goldar, and let’s just say it wasn’t pretty. It’s interesting that he shares similar design aspects to the Megazord, complete with wings and head shape. It just looks like someone poured melting gold on the Megazord. Is that what happened? After all, Rita’s suit is clearly a damaged Green Ranger suit, so is Goldar a damaged zord? Anyway, I’m hoping this is one of those designs that just doesn’t translate well to plastic, but will look better onscreen. Maybe? Hopefully?

I had the pleasure of joining my pal Corey Chapman for the latest episode of The Chap Report, where we discussed a LOT of politics. Like, a lot. If you only like me ranting about toys and comics, you’d probably best skip to halfway into the episode. Otherwise, enjoy as I talk about Russia, Trump, and Rogue One. Check it out here!

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • The old folks just don’t know when to quit, as we got word that both The Expendables 4 and Sex and the City 3 are happening. I’ve never seen any of The Expendables franchise, while I skipped out on SATC after the first one where we learned Miranda had let her bush become a forest. Poor Steve…
  • Journey, Electric Light Orchestra, Tupac, and some other folks will be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Yeah, Tupac. I’m just happy about Journey and E.L.O.  Now, let’s just hope former Journey frontman Steve Perry shows up for the ceremony.
  • Seth MacFarlane’s unfortunately unfunny Patrick Stewart vehicle, Blunt Talk, has been canceled by Starz after 2 seasons.
  • Some chick named Camila Cabello left something called Fifth Harmony. I am old, and don’t know what either of those things are. No, I’m kidding. It’s a girl pop group, but I can’t name a single one of their songs. Anyway, the other 4 Harmonies will carry on, but that can only work for so long.
  • Blizzard confirmed that the character Tracer in the video game Overwatch is a lesbian, and a certain corner of fandom lost their shit. No, I’m not gonna say their name because they’re always searching for that kind of thing. Let’s just say it rhymes with Hamerhate.
  • Blac Chyna took her baby and left boyfriend/baby daddy Rob Kardashian. I feel bad for Rob, but that’s what you get for having a baby with a chick whose name makes her sound like a really racist supervillain.
  • The Ghostbusters 101 comic was announced, which will see the original Ghostbusters travel to an alternate dimension to team up with the 2016 “Answer The Call” Girlbusters.

So, I guess it’s pretty obvious that Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was the belle of the ball this week. I mean, I haven’t seen it, but people I trust saw it and really liked it. I hear there’s so many great characters, like Trixie Bang Bang, Gay Karate Man, and Sass Bot. To be honest, I’m in no real rush to see it. Just like I don’t like my Trek without an Enterprise (with DS9 as the exception), I don’t like my Wars without Skywalkers. I get that this sets up A New Hope and everything, but that just isn’t enough to get my butt in a theater seat right now. Still, it has made $290 million in the US at this point, and that’s nothing to shake a stick at. So, in a week where very little happened, nothing even came close to the status of Rogue One, and that’s why it had the West Week Ever.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Kickin’ Kwanzaa, and maybe I’ll see ya again before the new year!

19th Dec2016

The Greatest Threat To the Direct Market Comic Retailer IS The Direct Market Comic Retailer

by Will

So, a few days ago, The Beat wrote the article “Why Are The Comics Retailers Worried About Mass Store Closings?“, which was your standard fear mongering about how the Direct Market is on its last legs. If you’re not familiar with the comic industry, here’s a crash course: the Direct Market is comprised of the comic shops who specialize in selling comics and related merch. If you buy the latest issue of Batman from Barnes & Noble, you’re not participating in the Direct Market. However, if you buy it from Jack’s Comics & Stuff, you’re a Direct Market consumer. Comics in the Direct Market are sold on a non-returnable basis, meaning that if retailers order too much of a book, they’re stuck with that stock, and can’t send unsolds back to the distributor unlike other periodicals.

The article posits a few different reasons retailers are afraid:

  • DC’s Prices Are Too Low – Um, $2.99 isn’t too low when most of those books are shipped biweekly. Simple math dictates that retailers will make more from selling two $2.99 books than one $3.99, even if it’s marginal. Sure, the retailer may want to make more money, but it’s a nice gesture of goodwill to the consumer – something Marvel could learn from, considering they keep releasing quarterly $9.99 Deadpool issues on top of the several spinoff series they have for the character that month.
  • Customers Are Disappearing – Well, duh. Minecraft and video games. Oh, and for the lucky older consumers, sex. Gotta pay for that sex!
  • Customers Are Switching To Collected Trade Paperback Format – Well, you get more bang for your buck that way. For example, each comic from Image has a cover price of $3.99, however each first volume of an Image series’ trade paperback collects approximately 6 issues for $9.99. Can you blame them?
  • Customers Don’t Like Marvel’s Output – When have customers liked Marvel’s output? No, when was the last time someone was like “Marvel’s really firing on all cylinders”? The first Civil War crossover? That was ten years ago. It’s not that Marvel’s necessarily worse these days. It’s that people are used to Marvel being better than DC, and now the gap between their quality is a lot smaller, due to Marvel trying to make lightning strike twice and DC getting a slight bump from Rebirth.
  • Rising Costs of Doing Business – Well, you can’t really fight that. Everything is more expensive.
  • Diamond Credit Crackdown – This is on the retailer. They knew they owed Diamond money, and kept letting it build up, not thinking Diamond was ever gonna come collect. It’s a business, not a charity.

A lot of comic shops are having a tough go of it, but the blame is being passed on to everyone from the distributor, Diamond Comic Distributors, to the Big 2 publishers, Marvel and DC. It’s always the same crap: “Diamond’s model is antiquated and comics should be returnable” or “Everything Marvel’s publishing is crap right now.” To read the comments on the post, however, you see a lot of folks railing against Marvel’s supposed “Social Justice Warrior” agenda, where they’re “forcing” diversity into all of their books. Really, if you wanna make a bunch of middle aged White men mad, start trying to diversify their funny books. Anyway, in a fit of anger, I wrote the following comment:

 

This is going to be a controversial opinion, but I see no overwhelming reason to support small businesses, and I don’t think I’m alone. Why am I paying more for something I can get cheaper elsewhere, especially with complaints of poor customer service, poor stocking of items, etc so pervasive these days? Now, call me an “ungrateful millennial” or whatever, but I don’t have fond memories of walking down by the crick, with a rolled up comic in my back pocket that I got from the local five and dime. It’s not an experience that I relate to. Same with comic shops. I have several I love, but the world would keep spinning if they shut down tomorrow.

The mentality that wants me to support Mom and Pop is the same one that wants Marvel to never change, and keep offering the same product it did 50 years ago. This is a common argument in the geek TV world. There are tons of adult fans angry at Power Rangers because it “sucks” compared to when they were kids, or hate Cartoon Network for showing nothing but Teen Titans Go – never stopping to realize they’re not the target audience. Thirty year olds wonder why today’s kids can’t love Snake-Eyes as much as they did, not realizing that maybe it’s time to give a new generation their OWN stories. There’s no shame in knowing when to walk away. I’ve seen folks say things like “I didn’t leave comics, comics left me.” Well, take that as a hint. Maybe the industry doesn’t want or need you anymore. Time to find new hobbies and pursuits!

 

What I said about small businesses is true. Just as I don’t really subscribe to the notion of “team spirit” (which is why I’m a terrible sports fan), I also never understood the push to support local mom and pop stores. I’m just fine with my big box retailers, with their affordable prices and decent customer service. These comic retailers chose to open their businesses, but now they approach them as if they’re victims. The distributor is out to get them because of the lengthy ordering window and lack of returnability. The publishers are out to get them because they keep publishing lackluster product. But it’s never “Ya know, I backed the wrong horse by buying into Marvel’s crossover hype.” It’s never “I made the wrong call”, but instead it’s phrased like “How dare Marvel make me order that tripe?!” That doesn’t even make sense. I think there’s a certain level of professionalism needed that’s not always there for small businesses. I don’t know what the CEO of Walmart thinks about the latest Hulk book, but you better believe Joe at Joe’s Comics & Stuff is gonna gripe to me about it. Not recommend it, or pivot to something better – GRIPE. That’s no way to run a business. Retailers are sitting there going “Man, Marvel sure is putting out a lot of shit”, but in the same breath asking, “Why won’t anyone buy books from me?” Maybe stop badmouthing your product and find a way to hype it! Even if it’s a turd, polish that turd and sell it because that’s your JOB.

There’s another unique thing about the comic industry that people never really think about: comics are the only industry where the consumer knows the distributor and is trained to hate them – trained, mind you, BY retailers! If a shipment gets messed up at Toys R Us, nobody blames Lash Tamaron, ’cause they don’t even know they exist. No, they blame TRU. In comics, however, retailers have this special ability to pass the blame on to Diamond when it’s their own decisions that got them in jeopardy. Didn’t order enough copies of a book, it’s easy to just say “Oh, Diamond shorted us”. Customer might mutter a “Fucking Diamond”, and both parties just kind of shake their heads together at the distributor’s ineptitude.

I might sound like a Diamond apologist, and in many ways I am. Full disclosure: about ten years ago (wow, has it been that long?), I was a purchasing brand manager in the print division of Diamond. That’s a big fancy way to say that I killed a lot of dreams. No, seriously, and I’m not proud of that. If Dave has had a lifelong dream of seeing his name on a comic sold in stores, I’m the guy who would have to work with him to make it happen. The problem, though, is that Dave has created some derivative superhero comic, and consumers have no reason to support his $3.99 black and white book when Marvel and DC have full-color superheroes covered. But I’d get him into the Previews catalog that all retailers use to place their orders, and I’d let the market decide. Then, for a variety of reasons that probably deserve their own post, I’d end up having a very difficult discussion with him about 6 months later. Why? Because a lot of creators aren’t business people. And a lot of comic shop owners aren’t, either. The successful ones have found ways to survive, but it’s the dinosaurs who were sitting pretty during the 90s bubble that don’t know what to do with themselves now.

Now, that’s not to say that Diamond isn’t without problems. It is antiquated. The men running that part of the industry have been doing so for the past 30 years, so there’s not a ton of new blood. There are problems at the warehouse. Back when the main warehouse was in Memphis, there was a UPS center across the street that paid more. The UPS center, however, required you to have at least a year’s experience in a warehouse environment. And guess where they’d get that experience: Diamond. So, the main warehouse is filled with a bunch of novices trying to pad a resume for a better position. No shame in the game, but it’s to Diamond’s detriment. And let’s not forget the publishing cycle: Diamond advertises books that will be available for sale two months from now, with no returnable cushion. So, a retailer does have to take a gamble when it comes to ordering the next month’s books, before they even have this month’s books in hand. But here’s the kicker: Diamond is so ensnared in the distribution process that it couldn’t extract itself if it tried.

Another quick history lesson: about 20 years ago, Marvel bought a distributor called Heroes World, which turned out to be a terrible idea, but I guess it seemed right at the time. In a mad dash for survival, Diamond signed everyone else to exclusive contracts for distribution. This drove a lot of smaller distributors out of business, lessening competition. Then, to make matters worse, Marvel declared bankruptcy and came crawling back to Diamond. This made Diamond king of the hill as the result of a flurry of activity needed for survival. In the years since, people have longed for a competitor to Diamond, but it just ain’t gonna happen. It’s the WWE of comic distribution, and there isn’t really even a TNA waiting in the wings. It’s an unintended monopoly, but a monopoly all the same. But as much as people clamor for the death of Evil Diamond, no one has stopped to consider what would happen if they went away. It’s not going to mean freedom for all the publishers. No, THAT will be the death of the Direct Market, because no one is equipped to take its place. And even if they somehow managed to do so, then they’d eventually become just as hated as Diamond. After all, “You either die a hero…”

The medium needs change, and those fighting that are part of the problem. My friend James once said that comics are for children, and that’s true. I’ve always felt that there’s a 20-year lifespan on comic fandom. If you stick around longer than that, everything becomes Been There, Done That. After 20 years, it’s time to move on. Start repairing old cars, or take your Harley for a three-day cruise. Comics are for the young, but the problem is that the young want nothing to do with them. Oddly enough, though, it’s a bunch of middle-aged armchair quarterbacks who think they know what today’s youth would like. “Spider-Man should be the same as he was when I was growing up!” they yell. Let’s see, kid whose parents are dead, lives with his old aunt in Queens, and he’s late all the time? Hate to break it to ya, but that’s a Black kid. They just didn’t have the social clout to do that back then. If they turned Peter Parker into a Black guy now, those fans would lose their shit. “Why can’t Marvel create NEW characters?” Marvel, then, creates Miles Morales, and then they cry, “Why are you forcing diversity down our throats?!” Is the mere existence of a minority the equivalent of “forcing diversity” on you? Well, I’m sorry the sight of me offends your eyes, Mr. White Man! I just think it’s time for certain fans to go. They don’t like what the industry is doing, and the industry is starting to realize that it can’t survive on mutton alone. There’s no shame in knowing when to walk away.

Anyway, this is all to say that the greatest threat to the comic retailer IS the comic retailer. Stop being a victim, and buckle down. You made this bed so now lie in it. But I also don’t believe in these crowdfunding attempts to keep shops open. The market has spoken, and you’re really just delaying the inevitable. Some shops need to go. That’s nothing personal. It’s business, and they simply lived out their usefulness. The more resourceful shops, however, will find a way. At the end of the day, Superman and Wolverine will outlive the Direct Market, so retailers can gripe all they want, but Disney and Warner Bros are gonna make that money with OR without them. Retailers need Marvel and DC, regardless of the quality of the output, but Marvel and DC don’t necessarily need retailers. The sooner Direct Market retailers realize this, the sooner they can start planning for the future.

And that’s where the post originally ended. And then I saw that I’d received a reply on my comment at the original post (I removed his name ’cause it’s not like I asked his permission to post this or anything):

 

@Will
“I didn’t leave comics, comics left me.” Well, take that as a hint. Maybe the industry doesn’t want or need you anymore. Time to find new hobbies and pursuits!

No, that`s a terrible attitude to show contempt at long-time customers who helped build Marvel. These long time fans deserve better than that!
Also be careful what you wish for as Marvel`s sales are in the tank, and they might be begging for those old time fans back one day!

 

I saw this and figured it was just another middle-aged White man, mad about change. His biggest mistake is that line about showing contempt for the customers “who helped build Marvel”. So, I had to address that:

 

See, that’s dangerous thinking, because Marvel doesn’t really owe you anything. You’re approaching this like a shareholder, when that’s not the nature of the arrangement.

As for the old-time fans, they’re gone. Plain and simple. Sure, catering to them might lead SOME of them back, but not enough to really make them the focus. The old time fan wants too much in order to come back. DC did Rebirth, basically as a “We’re sorry for what we did”, and a bunch of fans still wanted them to kiss the ring and do a little humiliating dance. The thing to remember is that these companies don’t *owe* you anything, long-time fan or not.

 

And then he had to go and prove my assessment of him correct:

 

@Will.
The thing to remember is that these companies don’t *owe* you anything, long-time fan or not.

Maybe my friend,but let`s sticky this post because I predict in less than a year Marvel will do a 180 with all their SJW theme comics and will please their old-time fans by bringing back the old school style. Marvel is going to have to go back to basics to stop their ship from sinking. It`s all about money, and Marvel`s old time loyal fans have the deep pockets that the majority of cosplay SJW fans don`t seem to have.

 

Ugh, he had to go and use a term like SJW. You can tell a lot about a person when they’re worried about the perceived Social Justice Warriors. He’s just another stick in the mud, resistant to change. So, of course, I couldn’t let that go:

And you just had to go and torpedo your argument with “SJW” nonsense. The injection of diversity is an attempt to get the dollars they’re not already getting, from audiences they’ve previously ignored. That, my friend, is the future. Any industry propped up by the buying habits of middle aged White men is an industry in trouble (unless you make Cialis or Rogaine), and they’ve finally come to realize that. What’s gonna happen when you die? Are you still going to be rallying from the grave “Put White Spider-Man back in high school!” to an audience base that clear couldn’t give two shits? The Marvel you grew up with is fine, but it’s done. I just don’t get why fans can’t grow up in their expectations.

I won’t exactly call it a “mic drop”, but I really don’t know what’s left to say after that.

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

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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.

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.

jay-pharoah-can-i-be-me

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.

dustin-diamond

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

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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.

20th Mar2015

West Week Ever – 3/20/15

by Will

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

hasbro-transformers

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

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

FMarvel.0

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

archiepredator

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

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

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

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

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MTV Spring Break Used To Rule – Deadspin

The 100 Sexiest Women on Television | 2015 Edition – UnderScoopFire

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

community-season-6-cast

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

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

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

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

24th Oct2014

West Week Ever – 10/24/14

by Will

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It’s gonna be a light one this week, folks. The internet and cable went out at my place on Saturday night, and wasn’t fixed until Tuesday. So, I missed anything that would’ve aired during that time. This included the Black Dynamite premiere, the American Dad premiere, and the lack of internet prevented me from continuing my Arrow bingewatch. We finally got everything fixed Tuesday afternoon, but my car wouldn’t start in a random parking lot and, waiting for AAA, I ended up missing Flash, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Forever. So, needless to say, it’s been a crappy week, and I have little to show for it.

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Walking home yesterday, I came across a Redbox that had recently been restocked, and I picked up 2 movies that I’d been wanting to see. I thought I was getting comedies, but the jury’s still out on that one! The first one was Neighbors, starring Seth Rogen and Zac Efron. In the movie, new parents Rogen and Rose Byrne are mortified to learn that a fraternity has moved into the house next door. The frat makes too much noise, which keeps Rogen’s newborn up at night. Rogen and Byrne want to confront the frat, but don’t want to seem like old fuddyduddies. You see, they’re still trying to cope with “Adulthood” and their newfound status as parents. They want to still be “cool”, even though they now have different priorities and responsibilities. After having the cops called on them, the frat retaliates by sparking off a prank war with Rogen and Byrne. Underneath all of the pranks, there’s a message about fear of growing up. Rogen fears he’s no longer the cool guy, while Efron is scared he won’t be the cool guy once college ends. By the end, they both seem to have come to terms with where they are in life. In all, it was a serviceable, yet pretty forgettable, movie. I’d say wait for it to come on TV, but I don’t know how they’ll air it with all the dildos and whatnot.

Sex Tape Poster

The next movie I watched was Sex Tape, starring Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel. If you’ve ever wanted to see Cameron Diaz’s ass and/or sideboob, this is the movie for you. The whole movie is basically given away in the trailer, but in case you never saw it, here we go: Segel and Diaz used to have sex all the time, but now they have kids and responsibilities and the spark seems to be gone. On a rare night alone, they decide to film themselves performing every move from The Joy of Sex in an effort to be wild and crazy. Well, Segel doesn’t delete the video like Diaz told him to, and it ends up being uploaded to a bunch of iPads that Segel has given to various people, including the mailman. Let’s take a break here and examine that little plothole: who the Hell just gives away iPads to random people? Do you know how much those things cost?! Before they can get all the iPads back, someone decides to blackmail them for $25,000 or else they’ll upload it to YouPorn. As you can imagine, “hilarity ensues” as they race around trying to track down every copy of the file. In the meantime, Segel almost kills a dog with a treadmill, Nat Faxon makes a cameo with his weird teeth, and Rob Lowe appears as a creepy cokehead. Let’s take another pause here: I’ve noticed that recreational coke use is all the rage in “edgy” comedies these days. It seems that white people are giving up on weed, and going straight to the cocaine. Is this true? Is it now as prevalent amongst the early 30s set as Hollywood has depicted lately? Anyway, the movie’s pretty predictable, although it journeys into the unbelievable near the end. At its heart, though, it’s a movie about how a relationship can break down to the point where the partners feel they need something like a sex tape to save things. That aspect was kinda heavy.

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What I’m learning is that the whole Judd Apatow set is growing up with me. When I was in my 20s, they were in their 20s and had goofy movies like Superbad and Pineapple Express. Now that I’m in my 30s, they’re in their 30s, going through the same stuff I am. Right now, a lot of those movies are about how much it sucks to get old. This includes This Is 40, Neighbors, and Sex Tape. That’s sort of scary. I look to movies as an escape, but they’re just kinda adding to fears I already had. And the answers they provide aren’t very reassuring. Oh well, I guess that’s what we get when we look to Hollywood for answers. Anyone got any coke?

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It was a big week for toy folks to get their Underoos in a bunch. First off, Scott Neitlich, AKA “ToyGuru”, resigned from Mattel. This is a big deal, as he was basically the face of the company’s collector lines, such as Masters of the Universe Classics and DC Universe Classics. As the face of the company, he also had a target on his head, and every questionable decision made by the company was squarely blamed on him. The message boards were on fire over the weekend, as people either wished him well at his new company or cursed the ground he walks on for ruining their childhoods.

BBFigure

Now, this next little piece of business. So, this chick in Florida, Susan Scrivjer felt that Breaking Bad figures had no place in Toys “R” Us, as they glorified the drug trade. So, she started a petition which reportedly got around 9,000 signatures. What did TRU do? They acquiesced and removed the toys. This enraged adult collectors, as it seemed like it was just an issue for a small minority (until the 9,000 signature petition), and it sets a precedent that nothing’s safe. It also seemed hypocritical, as they sell Mature-rated video games, but have a problem with simple, shittily-made (in my opinion) action figures. I’ve said my piece on Twitter, but I guess it bears repeating here. See, maybe I’m old fashioned, but I kinda don’t think those should be in TRU. I’m a bit of an old fogey, I know. I remember when those toys were comic shop only, and I was a bit surprised when I started seeing them at TRU. To be honest, I’m kinda surprised it took this long for there to be backlash. I never thought it would be the Breaking Bad toys, though. I kinda thought it would’ve happened with the HB Hellboy figures or the KA Kick Ass toys. I mean, if you can’t even put the name of the property ON the toy, then maybe you’re not selling in the correct marketplace. But now we’ve got a slippery slope going, because anything is fair game to pull and a precedent’s been set.

T2

 I think it’s more about industry clout than it is about subject matter. Terminator 2 toys came out because of Kenner, and TRU needed the revenue from other Kenner wares. Sure, T2 was an R-rated movie, but Kenner was a major player, so it’s not like TRU could say no. They pulled the Breaking Bad toys ’cause they were from Mezco. This never would’ve happened with Mattel or Hasbro; they need that money too much. Other decisions would hinge on it. Plus, those companies would never waste their time on “staction figures” based on a cable drama.  This was a slap to the little guy. Anyway, the toys have been put on an “indefinite sabbatical” according to a TRU statement, so Scrivjer and censorship won. At the end of the day, though, kids wouldn’t even know who Walter White was if it weren’t for shitty parenting. He’d just be a figure of “some old guy”.

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Next month, they’re releasing the Guardians of the Galaxy Awesome Mix on cassette. So, good luck finding a tape deck!

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This week, Peyton Manning, of the Denver Broncos, made history as he broke Brett Favre’s 509 touchdown record. I’m not really a football guy, but Lindsay will kill me if I don’t mention it.

There was some good news this week: we found out the sex of the baby! Lord, give me strength…

Links I Loved

I watched WWE for the First Time in 15 Years and It Was Confusing as Hell – deathandtaxes

The Last Twisted ToyFare Theatre Ever – JustinAclin.com

Halloween Web – Holidaze – AEIOU…and Sometimes Why

After These Messages….the Slow Death of Saturday Morning Cartoons – Raging Nerdgasm

Are we gonna even pretend that the Age of Ultron trailer didn’t have the West Week Ever? I mean, just look at it!

Yeah, the Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer had the West Week Ever. ‘Nuff said.

09th Sep2014

Baltimore Comic-Con 2014 In Pictures

by Will

Well, another year, another trip to the Baltimore Comic-Con. This year, I didn’t make it until Sunday, even though this was the first year it was expanded to a 3-day show. This meant that I missed all the Friday and Saturday excitement, but that was fine with me. I actually expected the con to be a ghost town on Sunday, seeing as how it was the opening home game for the Baltimore Ravens. While the game contributed to traffic woes, it didn’t seem to affect the size of the con crowd, as the show was pretty crowded, but not overly so.  If I’m doing m math correctly, this was my 10th year at the show, and the 15th anniversary of it overall. With that in mind, I’ve basically done all there is to do at the show. I’ve seen most of the creators (the guest list doesn’t change much from year to year), and I wasn’t really in a buying mood. So, I went to spend the day with my friends Jay, Emily, and Keith, and I took some pics as we walked around.

Poison Ivy and Emily

Poison Ivy and Emily

 

Cap and The Winter Soldier

Cap and The Winter Soldier

 

Green Arrow #1

Green Arrow #1

 

Falcon, with Working Mechanical Wings

Falcon, with Working Mechanical Wings

 

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I bought the DC poster about 4 years ago, and still haven’t figured out anywhere to hang it.

 

Jerry "The King" Lawler. He wanted $20 for a pic, so I had to take this one on the sly. He looks like Burt Ward if he'd stayed in shape.

Jerry “The King” Lawler. He wanted $20 for a pic, so I had to take this one on the sly. He looks like Burt Ward if he’d stayed in shape.

 

Really cool Bat Mite puppet

Really cool Bat Mite puppet

 

This guy was painting Groot on glass, via a lightbox.

This guy was painting Groot on glass, via a lightbox.

 

Yes, Superman is wearing heels. And yes, he was being led around by a leash. Emily's doing the honors in this pic.

Yes, Superman is wearing heels. And yes, he was being led around by a leash. Emily’s doing the honors in this pic.

 

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Hunter S. Thompson

 

Armored Wonder Woman

Armored Wonder Woman #1

 

Dark Phoenix, getting checked out by Crossbones

Dark Phoenix, getting checked out by Crossbones

 

I have no clue who these kids are, but I figure they're from some YA property, right? Anyway, Link's in the middle.

I have no clue who these kids are, but I figure they’re from some YA property, right? Anyway, Link’s in the middle.

 

Green Arrow #2

Green Arrow #2

 

Comic Fashions #1

Comic Fashions #1

 

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Comic Fashions #2

 

The Merc With The Mouth!

The Merc With The Mouth!

 

These are basically leaked cell phone pics from DC heroines. What, too soon?

These are basically leaked cell phone pics from DC heroines. What, too soon?

 

This was a really cool print that I probably should've bought, but it was easier (read: cheaper) to take a pic of it

This was a really cool print that I probably should’ve bought, but it was easier (read: cheaper) to take a pic of it

 

Batwoman, as seen on the DC Bombshells variant

Batwoman, as seen on the DC Bombshells variant

 

Cute Dazzler art

Cute Dazzler art

 

The owner of this booth gave me permission to laugh because she was Asian.

The owner of this booth gave me permission to laugh because she was Asian.

 

Friends of Humanity cosplay

Friends of Humanity cosplay

 

Dazzler

Dazzler

 

Robin & Hawkeye

Robin & Hawkeye

 

Lantern Spectrum. Red Lantern's a coworker from my TRU days

Lantern Spectrum. Red Lantern’s a coworker from my TRU days

 

Black Canary & Green Arrow #3

Black Canary & Green Arrow #3

 

Silk Spectre & Nite Owl

Silk Spectre & Nite Owl

 

Apparently, this bobok was sold in Urban Outfitters, which isn't the least bit surprising.

Apparently, this book was sold in Urban Outfitters, which isn’t the least bit surprising.

 

Armored Wonder Woman #2

Armored Wonder Woman #2

 

Zatanna

Zatanna

 

Tony Stark. You can't tell in the pic, but his arc reactor lit up.

Tony Stark. You can’t tell in the pic, but his arc reactor lit up.

 

Mad Hatter & Queen of Hearts

Mad Hatter & Queen of Hearts

 

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Harley #1, Harley #2, and Riddler

 

LARPing Mario & Luigi

LARPing Mario & Luigi

 

Thing

Thing

 

Wasp & Ant-Man

Wasp & Ant-Man

 

Harley #3 and the orange girl was covered in gold glitter

Harley #3 and the orange girl was covered in gold glitter

 

Joker & Harley #4

Joker & Harley #4

 

Crossplay Star-Lord, with S.H.I.E.L.D. agent in background

Crossplay Star-Lord, with S.H.I.E.L.D. agent in background

 

Mr. Fantastic & Human Torch. Theoretically, I guess you could say Invisible Woman's there somewhere.

Mr. Fantastic & Human Torch. Theoretically, I guess you could say Invisible Woman’s there somewhere.

 

Either Batman's texting Alfred, or he's on Tinder.

Either Batman’s texting Alfred, or he’s on Tinder.

 

Lydia & Beetlejuice

Lydia & Beetlejuice

 

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Dalek at the exit

In the end, it wasn’t the best Baltimore Comic-Con experience, but it was far from the worst. I didn’t really add much to my collection, but it was a fun day with friends and sights. Tune in next week, as I’m heading to Wizard World Richmond to meet original Green Ranger, Jason David Frank. There’s sure to be a few stories from that trip!

06th Aug2014

Thrift Justice: YSE – Special Forces

by Will

thriftjYSEspecialforces

Man, it’s been a while since I’ve done one of these posts, so let’s hope I still remember how it goes. If you’re new to this site, Thrift Justice is where I showcase all the crazy stuff I’ve bought at thrift stores. Meanwhile, Thrift Justice: Yard Sale Edition focuses on the crazy stuff I get at yard sales. Got it? Good. This yard sale season hasn’t been very action packed, much to my dismay which means that I haven’t had the chance to write many of these posts. This season, I’ve turned my focus more on bulk LEGO, as I can flip those and make a nice little profit. I figured you wouldn’t want weekly pics of bricks, so I’ve just kinda done that in secret. I, however, am not the only member of the Thrift Justice: YSE team, as my trusty partner Mike, AKA “Special Forces”, is always along with me for the adventures. Mike’s a good friend of mine from my Toys “R” Us days, and he’s the video game guy in our operation. Oh, why do I call him “Special Forces”? That’s a long story for another time. Anyway, Mike’s had a great season so far, grabbing some stuff that has made me jealous. So, this time, I thought we’d look at some of the cool stuff he’s picked up over the past few months.

Artist's rendering of Special Forces

Artist’s rendering of Special Forces

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First up, we’ve got this Nintendo game cabinet. As I’m usually driving, I didn’t even notice this thing on the side of the road. We were driving around a pretty lackluster neighborhood sale when Mike noticed this in some woman’s driveway. It seemed to be kind of an anomaly, as the rest of her items were old Ronald McDonald toys. I didn’t even think the cabinet was official, as Mario looked kinda janky on it, but Mike knows his video game stuff, and quickly looked it up online to verify what he was looking at. He ended up walking away with it for a cool $10, which isn’t bad for a vintage Nintendo piece.

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I’m still kinda mad about this one. Ya see, since I’m driving, I don’t get to see some items as quickly as Mike, as I’m trying not to hit people and other cars. We pulled into a neighborhood sale, and some kids were running a sale in their driveway. Mike saw this Bose Acoustic Wave system and was hopping out of the car before I’d even stopped. Bose is pretty damn nice for your home audio system, and it’s especially hard to find cheap. The kids clearly didn’t know what this was, and totally needed adult supervision to make this sale. They said they wanted $40 for it (which is about 10% of its original retail value), and Mike had the balls to haggle with the kids. He walked away with it for $30. I was mad when I thought that he was gonna resell it, as I knew what he could get for it. Since he decided to keep it for himself, I’ve found it in my heart to be happy for him.

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This Electronic Dream Phone game was an interesting pick, as it was more in my wheelhouse than Mike’s. After all, he’s the video game guy, while I try to make money off obscure board games. We found ourselves at this OVERWHELMING church sale. I mean, this place had multiple buildings, tents, the works. Mike found this, and thought I’d be interested. Looking at it, I didn’t think it was complete, because the box was kinda smashed in and it just felt too light. So I passed on it. Still, it was only $1, so he decided to take a chance on it. Not only did it turn out to be complete, but I think he played it a few times before he sold it. I heard Tyler thinks he’s dreamy!

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The top three games still kinda piss Mike off. Ya see, we went to this sale where a guy was selling all of his GameCube games. The problem, however, was that he had no prices set. Instead of trying to figure out something on the spot, he asked Mike what he was willing to pay for him. Negotiation 101: Don’t throw out the first number. So, already, Mike was at a disadvantage. On the spot, and not taking the time to go off and research on his phone, he gave the guy $20 for the three games you see up top. Once he got home and finally did the research, he realized that they were basically worthless. Like I said before, he usually knows his video game stuff, but this was one of those times when his powers failed him. He still thinks back on this sale and gets mad when he thinks about how he should’ve negotiated a better deal. The bottom game isn’t too clear because of glare, but it’s Videocart-9 for the Fairchild Channel F Video Entertainment System. I’m not a huge video game guy, so I’d never heard of the Fairchild system before we found this game. Apparently, it’s from the late 70s, and would cost around $700 adjusted for 2014 dollars (Thanks, Wikipedia!). I know Mike doesn’t have a Channel F, so I don’t even know what he plans to do with this. Maybe he just wanted a video game relic of the past. Maybe he’ll chime in in the comments.

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This was a product of my benevolence. Ya see, we went to a sale where a guy was selling off his childhood DIRT CHEAP. How cheap? I got an original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Sewer Lair Playset for $1. He also had a ton of vintage Power Rangers zords and role play toys, with their original boxes. I ended up getting the original Megazord, Dragonzord, Thunder Megazord, Tor: The Shuttlezord, White Tigerzord, and the Power Dome for about $40 total. He also had this set here. About 2 years ago, this was a $150 set on the secondary market, but then Bandai released the Legacy Morpher, which sent prices for this down the crapper. Still, it was a pretty cool set, and Mike was clearly interested in it. I figured I’d had enough of a field day with my other finds, and I wanted to make sure Mike walked away with something cool that day (even though this was our first sale of the day), so I let him take it. I thought he wanted it for his personal collection, but it turns out he was gonna sell it. Well, that’s when he discovered what I also discovered when I got home: the guy had left the batteries in all of these toys. These 20 year old toys. Yeah, you can see where this is going. In the morpher, Mike found that the battery acid had corroded the poles, so he tried to solder the contact points, which resulted in him melting a piece of the backing plastic. Yeah, that story didn’t have the happiest ending. But I still look like a prince ’cause I shared my spoils with my friend. Which he proceeded to melt. Anyway, he’d already listed it on eBay, so he was forced to swap it out for his own childhood morpher to complete the sale.

Well, that brings us to the end of this installment, but it’s certainly not the last you’ll hear from Special Forces. If you want to follow his exploits on Twitter, he’s @trooperlite. Meanwhile, be sure to tune in next time, when we look at the crazy board games I’ve been finding lately.

01st Nov2013

West Week Ever – 11/1/13

by Will

48a319c0-4282-4bea-b26e-91c857d16c13wallpaper

oie_922142seDasWF9

Happy Half Price Candy Day!

2013-10-25 20_optIMAG0855_opt

 

Last weekend, the wife and I went to a Halloween party where one of us put a lot of thought into their costume, while the other simply wore stuff he already owned. Everybody wins! Anyway, Lindsay almost won the costume contest for hers, so there’s that.

I found this hilarious because I would react the exact same way as Andy:

51466L

To follow up on last week’s post, I did get LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, but I haven’t played it yet. I ended up getting it from Toys “R” Us, ’cause you just can’t shake a stick at free $15! At first, the card wasn’t working, so they were about to just give me $15 off the game. I, however, preferred having the card to spend at a later date, so they ended up putting the $15 on a gift card.

So, my daily traffic for the past few months has been sustained by a post that I wrote called “Reboot That Bitch: The Fall Guy”, in which I cast an imaginary reboot of the cult TV show. I never really understood why the post got so much activity until I Googled “The Fall Guy Reboot” and found that I’m one of the top results for that. What was even more surprising is that The Rock is actually slated to star in a cinematic version of the franchise, which was announced last month at the Toronto International Film Festival. Here’s an MTV UK story about the whole thing. Look at me, predicting the future! I think The Rock is a horrible choice, though…

movies-xmen-days-of-future-past-posters

So, the X-Men: Days of Future Past trailer hit this week. I’ve gotta say that I’m tired of dark comic movies AND Bryan Singer. These movies require so much from the viewer that they’re exhausting. Also, it’s really hard to “believe a man can fly” when you see it every 3 months. The magic is gone in terms of WOW Factor. Will I see it? Probably. I mean, I still haven’t seen Man of Steel or The Wolverine, so it’s not like I’m a complete hypocrite. I just want something light and fluffy. Sure, that’s not worth the $150M budget, but I’d love to see a movie about Superman rescuing cats and shooting rainbows from his fingers – a real Silver Age Superman movie. Instead, it seems like grim and gritty rules the cinema, and I’m just too tired of it to care anymore.

productimage-picture-how-i-met-your-father-8283

CBS announced plans for How I Met Your Father, which is exactly what you think it is. I don’t see this project getting off the ground, as they have already severely tested the patience of their audience for 9 years. Nobody’s got it in them to go on this ride again. I think it’d be a cute episode arc if this season weren’t consumed with the wedding weekend. I mean, I’d love a Roshomon tale of what the Mother was doing in between the adventures of the series regulars, but that does not a full series make.

movie-43-poster03honest

Anyone remember Movie 43? I had completely forgotten about it until it popped up as a Netflix suggestion. I had nothing to do, so why not? The trailer made it look horrible, and I was convinced that everyone involved had been blackmailed into it. I mean, we’re talking Liev Schreiber, Naomi Watts, Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, and more. Why would they agree to be in Kentucky Fried Movie 2000 unless it was under duress, right? Well, I was surprised to find that it really wasn’t that bad. Yeah, I’m surprised I’m typing that, too. Like all anthologies, some entries are stronger than others, but the stronger ones are pretty strong. Hands down, the best skit was the Schreiber/Watts vignette about homeschooling. I won’t spoil it here, but the movie’s worth watching just for that alone.

NEhWq552Z9cski_1_1

Once I finished Movie 43, I got an odd recommendation for a movie called A Good Old-Fashioned Orgy. I was gonna skip it until I looked at the cast: Jason Sudeikis, Nick Kroll, Tyler Labine, Will Forte, Lake Bell, Leslie Bibb, Lindsay Sloane and more. They had me at Sudeikis. Basically, Sudeikis and his circle of friends from high school throw these huge ragers at Sudeikis’s dad’s house in the Hamptons. When dad decides to sell the house, Sudeikis plans one final blow-out for the house – an orgy with the group of friends. It’s the kind of movie Vince Vaughn would’ve made 10 years ago, and Sudeikis is a great leading man. I’m not sure why this never hit theaters, as it was certainly good enough. I guess theater owners would’ve been scared off by “orgy” in the title, the same way they had to shorten it to Zack & Miri, removing the Make A Porno for marketing purposes. I don’t wanna spoil any of it, ’cause I really loved the whole thing, so I highly recommend it if you’re looking to kill 90 minutes.

young-adult

Finally, I watched Young Adult (can you tell I have problems sleeping lately?), starring Charlize Theron. I’m not sure what I thought this movie would be, but I remembered wanting to see it when the commercials were out. Written by Diablo Cody, Theron stars as an alcoholic children’s book author who returns home to try to win back her married ex-boyfriend. That’s pretty much all you need to know. While it’s probably best described as a “dramedy”, it has moments that are downright cringe-inducing in the level of discomfort they generate. I will say, however, that it’s the first time I’ve liked Patton Oswalt in a long time. Still, I don’t really recommend it unless you’re a hardcore Theron or Oswalt fan.

Links I Loved

Why S.H.I.E.L.D. Is This Season’s Biggest Disappointment – TV Guide

Justin Timberlake Tells Jessica Biel No One Will Believe Her – The Onion

21 Lazy (and Fake) Spinoff Concepts that are No Worse than ‘How I Met Your Father’ – UnderScoopFire!

Washington Redhawks – Brand Proposal – Behance

Michelle Obama Responds to Kanye West’s Recent Comments – Grantland

One’s a video game, while the other’s got a whole lotta game. One is something that’ll never see the light of day, while the other just became official. Only one, however, had the West Week Ever.

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I wrote about this a few weeks ago, so I hope you contributed to the Kickstarter. In any case, a couple of my pals, including Brian at Cool and Collected, Cody at Crooked Ninja, and Howie at UnderScoopFire! are behind the creation of Cool and Collected Magazine, which hopes to fill the void left by the late ToyFare Magazine. The gang needed $6,000 in order for the first issue to go to print, and that goal was reached yesterday – with another week to spare! It’s not too late to chip in, as all additional monies will help their case for future issues. From what I’ve seen, the magazine looks like it’s gonna be great, but it couldn’t have come to fruition without the crowd-sourced support of the internet community. So, for that, Cool and Collected Magazine had the West Week Ever.

On Twitter yesterday, I teased that this might be the FINAL West Week Ever. That was a lie. I just wanted attention on the fact that next week will mark the ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY of West Week Ever! So, there might be some tweaks and changes, but it’s not going anywhere for the foreseeable future. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see ya next week!

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