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.

BK_peace_tumblr1

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.

28th Aug2015

West Week Ever – 8/28/15

by Will

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amy

The only thing I watched this week of note was Amy Winehouse BBC Sessions 2007 – Live at Porchester Hall. Apparently, I have some channel called Palladia, which is owned by Viacom, and only shows music programming. You know those folks who are all “Remember when MTV used to play music?” Well, this network is for them. Anyway, I was channel surfing and came across this special. I HAD to watch it ’cause I actually had a thing for Amy Winehouse. Like Demi Lovato, she was sexy in an ugly girl kind of way (ya know, like Sensational Sherri back in the old WWF days). The special wasn’t that great. Amy was drinking between and during songs, and slurred through some of the songs. She’d try to talk between sets, but I don’t know what the Hell she was saying. It was actually kinda sad, as I actually saw Amy live back when Virgin was still throwing the annual MegaFest (this predated the more recent FreeFest). That was a much bigger venue, but I felt like she handled herself better than she did in the intimate setting of Porchester Hall. It’s still such a sad story, considering what her career could’ve been. When you really look at it, she only had one album that mattered (nobody cared about her debut, Frank, until Back to Black became a hit), and I would love to know if her sound would’ve just been a flash in the pan, or if it would’ve evolved somehow. It could be said that Back to Black was as much Mark Ronson’s album as it was Amy’s, so I guess we could look to his subsequent work for clues. Welp, I guess we Amy fans will never know, and we’ll have to hitch our wagons to Adele.

blunt-talk

Oh, I did watch something else – the Seth MacFarlane-produced Blunt Talk debuted on Starz last weekend. Starring Patrick Stewart as Walter Blunt, a Piers Morgan-esque TV host, I’m not quite sure how I feel about the show. Naturally, we’re going to like Blunt because, well, he’s Patrick Stewart. He’s simply impossible to dislike. That said, we’re supposed to dislike him, as Blunt’s a multiple divorcee with a substance abuse problem. In the pilot, he’s arrested for soliciting a prostitute, who happens to be trans, and then has to figure out how spin the incident in order to save his dwindling career. Does his plan work? Not sure. He collapsed at the end of the episode, so we’ll have to wait until next week to see. I’m typically a MacFarlane fan, but I’m not sure this show did it for me. I’ll give it a few more chances, mainly because I want to see if we get any more Trek cameos (Brent Spiner was in the pilot).

McWhopper

If there’s one thing that I am these days, it’s a fat kid. So, as a fat kid, imagine my joy when I learned of the McWhopper! Proposed by Burger King to bring awareness to World Peace Day (September 21, 2015), they wanted to create a sandwich that merged the popular Whopper and Big Mac sandwiches from both brands. BK designed a handy website detailing their plans, and they had thought of everything – uniforms, package design, etc. Sadly, they had decided to hold it at the midway point between both of their corporate headquarters, so the sandwich would only be sold in pop-up stores in Atlanta. They felt that the best way to be an example for peace would be, for one day, to call a truce in the Burger War between the two companies. All they needed was McDonald’s blessing. And McDonald’s said no. UGH!

McWhopper ResponseMcDonald’s didn’t allude to what this “something bigger” might be, so it just comes off as a cop-out. It’s especially sad since BK was doing all the work, and it would’ve been a cool gesture. I certainly would’ve cared more about that than some folks pouring buckets of ice water over their heads. Peace is a good thing and all that, but I also wanna behold the frankenburger that would be the McWhopper! I say BK should just go ahead and do it by themselves. After all, the Big King is a brazen rip-off of McDonald’s Big Mac (only the patties are flame-broiled), so BK already has all of the ingredients. They should just create the Peace Whopper for that day. Everyone could have their McWhopper and eat it, too!

one-direction

On the music front, UK boyband One Direction announced that they will go on hiatus sometime next year in order to focus on solo projects. Take it from me – this is the end of One Direction. Their pop chart rivals, The Wanted, announced their own hiatus last year, and that was the last we ever heard from them. The whole “taking a break to work on solo projects” NEVER works. It can only end one of two ways: A) the solo albums fail and the group members crawl back to each other (see: Backstreet Boys) or B) one of them is wildly successful and leaves the others in the dust (see: *NSYNC). Remember, *NSYNC’s been “on hiatus” since 2002. Then again, UK groups do have a better track record with this sort of thing if the timing is right. STEPS got back together, as did S Club 7. And the reality show The Big Reunion showed that there are more UK groups waiting in the wings for the comeback treatment. So, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. Meanwhile, read this hilarious take on the situation by “Joey Fatone”.

SECRET_WARS_009

In comic news, Marvel announced that their 8-issue Secret Wars event series will now feature…a NINTH ISSUE! Man, this really grinds my gears, and I’m not really sure why. I mean, if it was originally supposed to be 9 issues, they should’ve told us that in the beginning. The book has already been shipping late, so how will this help things? It feels like a cash grab, which I don’t really appreciate. Plus, they say it won’t affect the All-New, All-Different launches that are planned for October, so this feels more like an epilogue. Why not just call it Secret Wars: Epilogue instead of renumbering the whole series? I know it’s all irrational, but it just doesn’t sit well with me.

Civil War

Speaking of Marvel, this teaser image was leaked for Captain America: Civil War, revealing the sides that the heroes will take. I don’t really see many surprises here, although I think it would’ve been interesting if Rhodey had chosen Cap’s side. I mean, they’re both military men, and I’d love to see Tony and Rhodey at odds to see how that would play out onscreen. Plus, I really don’t see why Black Panther would choose Tony’s side. I mean, besides the fact that they’re both rich and smart, their ideologies are quite different. I can’t even remember whose side Black Panther was on in the comic, ’cause that was during that stupid period where he was married to Storm and they were making diplomatic trips across the globe.

Nerd Lunch

Last week, I had the pleasure of joining the Nerd Lunch crew to discuss things in pop culture that get a “bad rap”. It started with a discussion of my thoughts on Fant4stic Four, but we covered other topics like Constantine, The Matrix sequels and more. Be sure to check it out here.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

-Alison Brie & Dave Franco are engaged. Lucky son of a bitch…

-In “Duh” News, Vin Diesel is confirmed for Guardians of the Galaxy 2

-Speaking of Vin Diesel, he’s apparently returning to the xXx franchise. Filming will begin in December in the Philippines. Also, never Google “Vin Diesel xxx” while in polite company….

-Actor, and former NFL player, Matt Willig has been cast as Lash, an Inhuman in the upcoming season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. I don’t know this dude or his character…

-In the most recent Captain Underpants book, one of the protagonists was revealed to be gay. With a move this bold and important, I’m amazed this isn’t getting more press anywhere.

athf

I never thought I’d be an Adult Swim viewer. Back in the day, I thought it pretty much existed to entertain stoners. And while I wasn’t wrong, I soon learned that you could enjoy the shows while sober as well. One of the first shows I checked out was this weird thing called Aqua Teen Hunger Force. I had no clue what the title meant, but it was a weird show about a trio of fast food products that talked. Early on, they were supposed to be detectives, but they dropped that angle pretty quickly. I grew to love Frylock, Master Shake, and Meatwad, as they argued over whether The Highlander was based on a true story, or if their attic was haunted by a monster. After 15 years on the air, this week saw the series finale of Aqua Teen Hunger Force (now referred to as Aqua Teen Hunger Force Forever).

Titled “The Last One Forever and Ever (For Real This Time) (We Fucking Mean It)”, the double-length episode followed the trio as they embarked on a dangerous mission to replace Frylock’s jewel and save his life. Do they succeed? I won’t spoil that for you, but I will say that it was an oddly sad episode – not just because it was the end of an era, but also because of the episode’s epilogue. At 12:30 Monday morning, I said goodbye to 3 old friends. The Aqua Teen Hunger Force wasn’t going down without a fight, however. On Wednesday, in conjunction with Destiny: The Taken King, a secret final, FINAL episode was released online. Titled “The Greatest Story Ever Told”, it followed Frylock and Carl as they gained immortality from the Highlander himself, Christopher Lambert. After the heaviness of Sunday’s finale, it was nice to see them back to their old antics. It was the ATHF that I’d loved all these years.

According to reports, the creators weren’t ready to end the show. It was the longest-running original series on Adult Swim, and Adult Swim president Mike Lazzo simply thought it was time to move on. With 139 episodes under their belt, I doubt ATHF will be leaving Adult Swim’s schedule any time soon. So, for giving me 15 years of laughs (and for redeeming its finale with that secret episode), Aqua Teen Hunger Force had the West Week Ever.

 

21st Aug2015

West Week Ever – 8/21/15

by Will

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Man, did this week suck! Work is kinda kicking my ass, so this might be a short one this week.

608a1291a1ec8b9c7ee420cc45677161

This seemed like the week of lost heroes. First up, Jared Fogle – Subway’s mascot for over a decade – pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography, as well as traveling to have sex with a minor. Apparently, he would call up local escort services, and offer a bounty if they could find him young girls. “The younger the better”, he apparently said. This all started a few weeks back, when his home was raided. It was originally thought that it was in relation to the child pornography charges against the former head of his charity, but it turns out that guy had shared the videos with Jared. So, now everyone’s making jokes about all the “footlongs” he’s gonna get in prison. While it’s laughable, I find the whole thing kinda sad. I always liked Jared, and I hate to know that he was such a creeper.

Megan-Brian-467

Another hero fell, as Brian Austin Green and Megan Fox called it quits after 11 years together. Now, every neckbeard across America is gonna think he’s got a shot with her, but think again! The Summer of Lost Love continues. Better luck next time, David Silver…

17-Mockingbird

Over at ABC, it appears that Mockingbird spinoff isn’t dead after all. Now called Marvel’s Most Wanted (which sounds like a really bad comic reprint collection or something), the show will follow Bobbi Morse and ex husband Lance Hunter on their “continuing adventures”. They’re now saying, however, that it’s not a “spinoff” per se, so it’s not clear if they’ll be distancing it from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Right now, it’s just at the pilot stage, so nothing may come from it, but only time will tell. I still think this is a bad idea, as those 2 are probably the most interesting members of the team. Unless they use time travel to make Agent Carter travel to the present and join the team, I really don’t see what could make that show interesting if Bobbi and Hunter leave. I wouldn’t say they’re carrying the show, but they would definitely be missed if they left.

Aaron Carter

So, I’ve been doing this Twitter thing for over 6 years, but never had a celebrity follower. There was that brief time I was followed by Ronda Rousey’s mom (or some chick pretending to be her), but I never had a gen-yoo-wine celebrity until Wednesday night. I was busy live-tweeting Catfish when I got an email: “Aaron Carter is now following you”. Aaron Carter?! “That’s How I Beat Shaq” Aaron Carter?! Backstreet Boy Nick Carter’s little brother, and former boyfriend of both Lindsay Lohan AND Hilary Duff Aaron Carter?! Surely this had to be a fake fan profile, right? Nope, look at that checkmark. Verified, baby! His career never really took off like his brother’s, but he was kind of a big deal in Europe before he hit puberty. What’s he doing now? Well, apparently he filed for bankruptcy back in 2013, so there’s that. And now he’s following a bunch of nobodies on Twitter. Huzzah! Actually, I really don’t know how I feel about this. I mean, what about me made him follow me? Sure, I talk a lot about boybands, but I don’t think I’ve ever discussed him or his career. How long will this last? Surely he’ll be gone by Labor Day, right? Maybe I should tweet him and see if he replies. So conflicted!

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

-Craig Robinson’s Mr. Robinson ended its 6-episode first season on NBC

-Josh Duggar, of 19 Kids and Oh God, My Vagina! fame, was outed in the Ashley Madison hack, resulting in his confession that he’d not only had an affair, but had also spent almost $1,000 on the site. First he touches his sisters, and then he pays to cheat on his wife. Dude’s got NO game.

-Disney revealed footage from Captain America: Civil War at last weekend’s D23 Expo. Since the footage isn’t online, I’m not gonna waste my time describing someone else’s description of what they saw. I’ll just wait for the trailer.

-Presidential candidate Deez Nuts is gaining on Donald Trump

Links I Loved

Being An Uber Driver Is Great, Until You Pick Up A Crackhead – DewanGibson.com

Actors Who have Played Multiple Marvel Comics Characters – The Robot’s Pajamas

Time To Start the Teenage Angst! – OAFE

Well… August 20, 2015. – Team Hellions

route 29 batman

Now, I don’t get into this too much, but I have a No Death policy for West Week Ever. It’s never happy, there are too many of them to mention every week, and I’m sure I’d end up missing someone who’s important to readers but not to me. So, I just stay away from death announcements. This week, however, I have to make an exception. You see, Leonard B. Robinson, also known as Route 29 Batman, was killed last Sunday while checking his engine on a business stretch of road. If you haven’t heard the story by now, Robinson went viral a few years ago when he was pulled over by Montgomery County police along Route 29. His story, it turns out, was that he had made a fortune in the cleaning business, so he decided to dress up like Batman and visit sick kids in hospitals. He had a souped up Lamborghini that served as his Batmobile, and it was this very car that he was driving when tragedy struck.

I’ve often wondered why no one has actually tried to be Batman. Sure, it’s fiction, but some rich guy could easily decide to become a vigilante and take matters into his own hands. Well, Robinson actually did that. No, he didn’t fight crime, but he was a hero to many, as he brought smiles to the faces of the kids he visited. He would dress up in a 35-pound costume, which took 45 minutes to put on, just to brighten up the lives of area sick kids. He would give anti-bullying speeches at local schools. He would give out Batman merchandise to kids, autographed by “Batman”.

Maryland isn’t Gotham City, but we’ve had quite the cast of characters running around. We’ve got a guy covered in question marks, screaming about how you can get free money from the government. We had a sniper, who was just shooting up random gas stations. And we had a man dressed like a bat, trying to brighten the world in which he lived. I never met Leonard, but I really wish that I had been given the chance. I always wondered why Batman wasn’t real, and it turns out he was here the whole time. This week’s West Week Ever is dedicated to the life of Leonard B. Robinson.

19th Jun2015

West Week Ever – 6/19/15

by Will

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oie_922142seDasWF9

What a week, what a week. Sigh…

HTTM2

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

Duff

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

Craig David 2015

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

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

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

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

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

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

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

Links I Loved

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

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

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

Niagara Falls Comic Con 2015 Report – The Horror Movie BBQ

jurassic world gate

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

03rd Apr2015

West Week Ever – 4/3/15

by Will

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So, last weekend I finally got around to watching St. Elmo’s Fire. If you’re not familiar, it’s one of the Brat Pack films from the 80s, though it’s nowhere near as critically acclaimed as The Breakfast Club; I never realized that until I started reading old reviews after watching the movie. Anyway, if this movie were released today, it’d be called White Privilege. It’s the story of 7 college friends who graduate from Georgetown University and embark upon adulthood. The problem is that most of them suck at life, and aren’t very good at being “adults”. Emilio Estevez stalks Andie MacDowell, Rob Lowe sleeps with everything with a vagina, Judd Nelson cheats on his girlfriend in order to pressure her into marrying him (yeah, that plan makes no sense), Andrew McCarthy is obsessed with Judd Nelson’s girlfriend, Demi Moore sleeps with everything with a penis, Mare Winningham has NO self esteem, and Ally Sheedy is just there. I know it came out during the “Me Generation”, so I’m sure it spoke to a lot of people at the time. Looking back at it now, however, it’s just hard to like any of the characters. Living in the DC area, it was cool to see what Georgetown looked like 30 years ago. I also enjoyed seeing the Q107 sticker on the pay phone (Q107 was the predecessor of WRQX/Mix 107.3, which is now the struggling “DC’s 107.3”). From where I stand, the best thing about the film is David Foster’s “Love Theme”. Just listen to it:

Greatest Movie Ever Sold

Next up, I watched the documentary POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold. From Super Size Me‘s Morgan Spurlock, the doc follows Spurlock as he tries to finance a movie completely from sponsored endorsements. Meanwhile, he delves into the practice of branding and how it affects our daily lives. For example, the Brazilian city of Sao Paulo has outlawed all outdoor advertising, so there are no billboards, no bus ads, and no corporate graffiti. As a result, local businesses have to rely upon referrals and word of mouth in order to stay afloat, yet everyone feels that the move allows them to fully take in the world around them without being assaulted by ads. I liked Super Size Me, although I completely sided with Big Mac (Spurlock’s girlfriend, now ex-wife, was a vegan chef. He got sick because he simply wasn’t used to eating meat. It wasn’t all McDonalds’ fault. Plus, nobody should eat that shit THREE times a day. Even I know that, and I DO IT). Anyway, it was funny watching the man who singlehandedly destroyed the Super Size option go out into the world and try to court sponsors. I mean, everyone’s already seen what he did to McDonalds, so how could brands be sure that he’d portray them in a positive light? As interesting as the movie is, it’s still built on a weak premise. It’s not like he’s actually courting brands to help finance some sort of Hollywood blockbuster. No, he’s courting brands to sponsor the documentary that you’re already watching. That is the movie. It’s very meta. It was definitely an interesting documentary, but I think I expected more from it.

Jay Mohr

On the standup comedy front, I caught the Showtime special Jay Mohr: Happy. And A Lot. I’ve been fascinated by Jay Mohr ever since his stint as a featured player during the SNL dark years of the early 90s. I’ve even read his book, Gasping For Airtime: Two Years In The Trenches of Saturday Night Live. His body of work isn’t very memorable, but he did create Last Comic Standing, which has been pretty influential in the standup world for the past decade or so. Then, to cap it all off, he married Nikki Cox, who was quite the hot number in the late 90s. Anyway, I really enjoyed the special, which surprised me since my recent track record with standup specials hasn’t been so great. The material isn’t stellar, but some of it spoke to me. For example, he said that married couples don’t have to have shared interests, but rather need shared hates. Maybe my wife and I are terrible people, but that’s definitely true for us. Then, he capped off the special with a pretty killer Norm MacDonald impression. I’m not so sure I’d recommend it, but I enjoyed it.

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Ciara Renee has been cast as Hawkgirl in the CW Arrow/Flash spinoff, while Arthur Darvill has been cast as Rip Hunter. I don’t know either of those actors. I like what The CW’s doing with Arrow and The Flash, but I fear they’re about to dilute the brand by adding this 3rd show (possibly 4 if they keep Supergirl in-universe). As good as The Flash is, I feel like the quality of Arrow has slipped a bit, with the good stuff going over to the former. Maybe I’m just saying that because I’m used to binge-watching Arrow instead of consuming it on a weekly basis, and I’m not so sure that’s working for me.

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Meanwhile in live action comic adaptations, an April Fools video with Ryan Reynolds claims that the Deadpool film will have an R-rating. Now, I’ve heard folks longing for this in the past, and I don’t quite understand it. Why does it need to be an R? I consider myself a Deadpool fan, but I don’t go way back to his origins. I’ve been a completist since his series started during Secret Invasion, and I’d read some Cable & Deadpool before that. In all of my Deadpool reading, I haven’t experienced anything that indicated a film adaptation would need an R-rating. The comic is not for mature readers, so it seems like it would translate more to a PG-13, with one “fuck” thrown in for good measure (that’s allowed in PG-13 movies).

fuller house

The speculation surrounding a reboot earned Full House the West Week Ever back in August. Well, it looks like we’re closer to getting Fuller House (that’s the name they’re using now) after all. Reportedly, the show is headed to Netflix, and will focus on the friendship between Candace Cameron Bure’s DJ Tanner and Andrea Barber’s Kimmy Gibbler. Considering how much Candace has gone on the evangelical offensive over the years, I wonder if that hurts the potential audience for this show. Anyway, score another one for Netflix. Right now, I’m sure Yahoo Screen is looking into rebooting Empty Nest.

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-It was reported that Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje has been cast as Killer Croc in DC’s Suicide Squad movie. I have no clue how to say that dude’s name. If I ever met him, I’d have to play the “What’s up, my brotha?” card. Anyway, that guy from Latino Review who loves scooping stuff reports that Suicide Squad will take place between Man of Steel and Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice in the span of the DC Cinematic Universe. *Yawn*

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In the world of music, Jay-Z and his Illuminati friends announced the purchase of Tidal – a new streaming service that costs more than most other services because the artists want to make more money. There was a press conference and everything. It ended with them signing a document that you’d think was the Hip Hop Magna Carta or something. Anyway, the files are supposedly of a higher quality, but you won’t be able to tell the difference if you’re listening through headphones. Good luck with that, Hov!

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In the world of television, Weird Loners premiered on Fox Tuesday night. It feels like someone found some old Happy Endings scripts, but there were food stains all over the best jokes. Seriously, this show feels like it really wants to be HE, complete with the casting of Zachary Knighton, but the rest of the cast just isn’t that strong. Plus, I can’t get over how that one guy looks like Nick Swardson if he really let himself go. Anyway, I guess I shouldn’t expect too much from “The creator of The King of Queens, and the executive producer of New Girl.” What’s it about? Four people who are unlucky at love kinda band together as friends. Oh, and 3/4 of them are kinda assholes ’cause that’s how they make sitcoms now.

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Meanwhile, in the world of television, South African comedian Trevor Noah was announced as the new host of The Daily Show. And the people rejoiced…for about a day. Then, someone checked out his Twitter history and discovered that he’d said a bunch of off-color stuff. Ya know, like a comedian. You ever follow a professional comedian on Twitter? With the exception of very few, they’re all just throwing shit out there to see if it sticks. If it gets retweeted or favorited, excellent. A lot of them come off as insecure when they do this, and it’s not necessarily coming from some place of bravado. If anything, they’re tearing others down in order to feel good about themselves. Whatever. I’m not a licensed shrink. All I know is that Comedy Central decided they wanted to go the comedian route for the job, and they knew what they were getting themselves into. Comedy Central has already said that they stand by him, so I expect nothing to come from this. Plus, Stewart’s fans are gonna hate any replacement in the beginning, just because he’s not Stewart.

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This week also saw the premiere of the Comedy Central Roast of Justin Bieber. SNL‘s Pete Davidson was great (I had no clue his father was a firefighter who died on 9/11), but Martha Stewart was surprisingly brutal. My pal Chris Piers pointed out that there’s no way she wrote those jokes, but I just give her credit for saying them. The roast ended with a well-written, yet clearly staged, apology from Justin himself for his outrageous behavior. Even though it was somewhat canned, I felt like it showed a lot of maturity, and I’m eager to see where his path leads him. After all, Justin Timberlake was once just “that guy in that boyband”, and look at him now. I’m not saying Bieber is that multi-talented, but I’d really like us to get to a place where “Justin Bieber” isn’t an instant punchline anymore.

 

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I loved this article about the making of the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. My favorite part is that they acknowledge that Raph has mental problems. I’ve always felt this, but had never seen it actually written anywhere. Seriously, if Raphael is your favorite turtle, I wonder about you…

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This week, I had the pleasure of joining Corey and Eclectik over on the UnderScoopFire Podcast. We discussed all of the pop culture stuff we’re looking forward to during the months of April through June, and it was a lot of fun. I was really starting to think that folks were tired of having me on their shows, so it felt really good to get back in the swing of things. Anyway, give it a listen!

Things You May Have Missed This Week

-Speaking of Turtles, Stephen Amell has been cast as Casey Jones in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2. Sure, movies trump TV, so this is good for his IMDB page, but it almost feels like a lateral promotion.

-Hugh Jackman announced that Wolverine 3 will most likely be his last appearance as Wolverine, after 17 years in the role.

-It was announced that season 6 will be Downton Abbey‘s final season. I still have seasons 4 and 5 on my DVR, so I’m not quite sure if I’m saddened or relieved by the information.

-In other news about shows I need to watch, House of Cards has been renewed for a fourth season on Netflix.

Gnardians of the Galaxy, the porn parody of Guardians of the Galaxy, released its trailer. Nope, I’m trying to be Safe For Work, here!

Cougar Town‘s series finale aired this week. One day, I’m gonna have to catch up on that show.

-Fresh off the cancellation of What Not to Wear, Clinton Kelly will be getting a new show on TLC where he and Real World: Brooklyn‘s Devin Symone will give social media makeovers to folks looking for love. Think of it like What Not To Catfish.

-This week on The Today Show, Darius Rucker said that Hootie and the Blowfish would reunite, but it was simply a matter of timing. Uh-huh. He’s gone Full Timberlake but doesn’t want to admit it. I’ll believe this reunion when I see it.

Wrestlemania 31 was this week. So that happened. Technically, I’m a WWE guy whenever The Undertaker is involved, but even I couldn’t get excited about his match against Bray Wyatt. Anyway, The Dead Man won, so I guess I’m happy. I tend to care more about the Hall of Fame ceremony than the actual event; I’ve got it on my DVR, but haven’t had the chance to watch it. So, look for my thoughts next week.

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I love Scientology. Let me rephrase that: I love all secret society-ish things, and Scientology happens to fall under this banner. Over the years, I’ve read and watched a LOT of stuff about the religion, and I continue to be fascinated by everything that I discover.

I can be a Judgy McJudgerson at times, but I try not to criticize anyone’s religion. At the end of the day, we’re all just trying to make it in this life, one day at a time. Some folks need some sort of coping mechanism to do this, while others don’t. Plus, and some folks won’t like this thought, but all religions have their farfetched aspects. Yup, even mine. We criticize Scientology because our parents are older than the religion, and the idea of Xenu and whatnot seems hokey as Hell. The funny thing about Xenu is that that information isn’t even available to Scientologists until they fork over the money to learn it. It’s not like that’s their pitch to the man on the street. No, for that they use e-meters to give you “stress tests”.

Anyway, based on my fascination with all things Scientology, I knew that I’d have to watch the documentary Going Clear, based on Lawrence Wright’s book, Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief.  It was SO GOOD! I was already familiar with the concept of Operating Thetans and the Sea Org, but the doc does a good job of explaining these things for the uninformed. Not only does it cover the celebrity aspect, like John Travolta and Tom Cruise, but it also documents the abuse and the living conditions suffered by the more common members of the religion. Tom Cruise may seem like an all-powerful supervillain, but that’s because he’s got money. If you or I joined Scientology, we’d be drafted into their space Navy on a billion year contract, doing menial labor and making about 40 cents a day. This is the side of Scientology that no one talks about.

I could understand the attraction to celebrities, but I’ve never quite understood why an average Joe would join up. For this, I’m not sure the documentary did the best job of explaining. I mean, it seems like a rich celebrity club, with tax-exempt status, but the celebrity aspect is so small compared to the men and women who raise their families in the religion. According to a 2008 study, about 25,000 Americans identified as Scientologists, and Tom and John are only two of them. Outside of the celebrity world, who are these people? What’s the draw? In the footage that they showed of the annual conference, there were Black people in attendance. How, pray tell, do you get a Black Scientologist?! The documentary focused on Hollywood members, like writer/director Paul Haggis, but I would’ve liked more info on “the little people”. I guess there’s only so much you can fit into two hours, so I’ll need to check out the book (Lindsay read it and highly recommends it).

If you have even a passing interest in Scientology, I really think you should give this documentary a shot. It’s worth it just for the story about how they “recruited” Tom Cruise’s new girlfriend. So, for being the most interesting thing I consumed this week, Going Clear had the West Week Ever.

27th Mar2015

West Week Ever – 3/27/15

by Will

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

20th Feb2015

West Week Ever – 2/20/15

by Will

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

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

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

Power Rangers Imaginext

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

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

Links I Loved

Norm Macdonald tells the story of #SNL40 – Storify

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

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

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

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

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

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11th Feb2015

The Best Backstreet Boys Songs You’ve Probably Never Heard

by Will

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So, I was inspired to compile this playlist after watching the Backstreet Boys documentary Show ‘Em What You’re Made Of. The goal of the documentary was to catch fans up on what the group has been up to in recent years. What a lot of casual fans don’t realize is that BSB never broke up, even though they kind of dropped out of the spotlight. The casual fan only knows about the first three albums, but the group has released four additional albums over the years that weren’t the chart-toppers that the first three had been. That said, there are still some good songs on those albums, and I felt it was time that they got some attention. A lot of critics said that the group had abandoned its pop roots for a soft rock sound, and that actually is pretty true for some of these songs. You’ve got to factor in that the guys have aged, so maybe that’s the genre that they relate to at this stage in their career. In any case, these may not be “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)” or “I Want It That Way”, but they’re still pretty catchy in their own right. No, I didn’t scour the European releases and come up with a bunch of B-sides. Instead, I listened to the albums Never Gone, Unbreakable, This Is Us, and In A World Like This, and I chose the best 4 tracks from each. These are the songs that probably would’ve been released as singles – if BSB were still getting radio play at the time. These are all things that can readily be found in the US, via your favorite music peddler. I guarantee you’ll like something here! Give it a listen and let me know what you think in the comments.

06th Feb2015

West Week Ever – 2/6/15

by Will

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Well, the week started out with me watching Backstreet Boys: Show ‘Em What You’re Made Of. I’d known of this documentary for a while, but I had planned to wait until it aired on HBO later this year. Well, the movie was released On Demand and theatrically at the same time, and I had nothing to do Friday night, so I fired up that On Demand. I’m a boyband fanatic, so this was really a no-brainer, but I was surprised to learn a bunch of stuff that I never knew before. Here’s the gist of the documentary: to celebrate their 20th anniversary tour, as well as the return of group member Kevin Richardson (he took a few years off), the Backstreet Boys decide to visit each member’s hometown in order to learn more about each other. It’s designed to tug on the heartstrings, as you relive familial deaths, fights, and other drama. You also get to see what it’s like being a grown man in a “boyband”. Hint: it ain’t pretty. Brian’s voice now unreliably comes and goes, while AJ has had two knee replacement surgeries. Some stuff I knew, like how the guys felt betrayed that their manager Lou Pearlman essentially created their competition when he created *NSYNC. Some stuff I didn’t know, however, like the fact that Howie D sang all of the leads before the guys started recording. Once they got the “Max Martin sound”, he was pushed to the background, and has quietly resented it the past 20 years. The documentary is not for young viewers, however, as they say “fuck” a LOT. There’s even a pretty intense screaming match between Brian and Nick that’ll leave you uncomfortable. In fact, Nick seems uncomfortable throughout the entire affair.  This is especially apparent when they visit Lou Pearlman’s old mansion, seeing as how there were allegations that Lou may have molested the Carter boys. If you’re a Nick fan, you’re just gonna worry for him. Anyway, if you’re a longtime fan of the group, it’s a great documentary and I recommend checking it out.

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On the Netflix front, I caught Chelsea Peretti: One of the Greats. I was familiar with Peretti from her acting gigs, such as Brooklyn Nine-Nine, but I’d never really heard her standup. She’s funny, though it wasn’t hilarious. It was striving to be surreal in ways that I’m not quite sure worked. For example, she’d tell a joke, and then they’d randomly pan to a dog in the audience, to elicit a “There’s a dog in the audience!!!” response. There was also a bunch of awkward audience participation bits. It probably played better on paper, but the execution was left wanting. Anyway, it’s a decent way to kill an hour, as her material was pretty good.

 

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I also checked out the FXX series Man Seeking Woman, which is a really quirky show. For lack of a better description, it’s kinda like a live action Family Guy, with metaphorical cutaways. It stars Jay Baruchel, who breaks up with his college sweetheart and has to get back into the dating world. In the pilot, his sister sets him up with a literal troll named Gorbachaka, while his ex-girlfriend is now dating Hitler. Yes, that Hitler. Apparently, he faked his death and is now 127 years old. See, that’s the kind of thing Family Guy would try to pull. I watched the first 3 episodes, and I love anything that Baruchel does, so I’ll be keeping up with it for the rest of the season. It’s just a shame that it airs opposite Broad City, so it’ll be an a DVR show for now.

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ABC’s Fresh Off The Boat debuted a week earlier than its announced premiere date, and it seems like folks loved it. Based on the memoirs of Eddie Huang, it follows a young hip-hop loving Chinese kid whose family moves from DC to Florida so that his father can achieve the American Dream. ABC showed 2 episodes Wednesday night (before and after the hit Modern Family), and I was able to catch the pilot. In all, it was a funny show. It’ll be interesting to see how the racial politics play out. I was kinda disappointed that it had to be the black kid to call Eddie a “chink”, but if that’s how the story actually happened, then so be it. I wish we could’ve heard what Eddie called him back, but I’m sure you can’t say those words on network television. Anyway, the real test will be when FOTB moves to its regular timeslot, Tuesdays at 8. That’s a hard night, as it’ll be going against The Flash, Masterchef/Masterchef Juniors, and Parks & Recreation. ABC is having a hard enough time with Tuesdays, as Selfie and Manhattan Love Story failed there earlier this season, meanwhile Agent Carter and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. haven’t been ratings blockbusters. Fresh Off The Boat won’t have the benefit of a lead-in, so the night will land squarely on its shoulders.

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The Netflix Daredevil trailer was released this week, giving us a taste of what to expect when the series hits this April. A lot of people are applauding the gritty tone of the trailer, but I think it looks kinda fan filmy. Maybe it’s because he’s not in his iconic suit yet, but it just looks kinda…low budget to me. This was just a teaser, though – maybe we’ll get a better look at the show closer to its debut.

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I got some of the best news ever this week when it was announced that Trina McGee and Blake Clark will be appearing on Girl Meets World. McGee played Shawn Hunter’s girlfriend, Angela, on Boy Meets World while Clark played his dad, Chet Hunter. McGee left the show when Angela’s dad, The Last Dragon‘s Sho’ Nuff, decided that he wanted her to come live with him. Meanwhile, Chet Hunter died in the later seasons of the show, but reappeared a few times to give Shawn advice. When Shawn appeared on the Christmas episode of Girl Meets World, it was revealed that he’s disappointed that he hasn’t found anyone to settle down with yet. I hope hope hope this means they’re going to reunite Shawn and Angela, as teenage Will lived for that relationship (and had a huge crush on Angela). For now, all we know is that the episode is titled “Girl Meets Hurricane”.

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Earlier this week, I wrote about former Power Ranger Ricardo Medina Jr and his alleged murder case. Well, it appears that he’s been released. The DA wants to make sure that he has all the facts, so no charges are being pressed at this time. So remember, if the sword don’t fit, Zordon must acquit. Yeah, that was lame…

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Speaking of Power Rangers, the latest season, Power Rangers Dino Charge, debuts tomorrow morning on Nick. The pilot was actually released on Nick.com last week, so I, and most fans, have already seen it. As a fan, this won’t come as much of a surprise, but I really liked it. It felt fresh, which is hard to do with a franchise that’s been around this long. I’ll also say that it’s the first Power Rangers incarnation that actually feels like a Nick show. I’m not sure if it’s the dialogue or the acting, but it actually feels like it’s on the right network for a change. I’m kinda tired of dinosaurs, and I hate the design of the suits, but I’ll be checking in on it every now and then.

Things You Might’ve Missed This Week

-Damon Wayans Jr. is leaving New Girl at the end of the season.

-The Titans lineup for the in-development TNT series will include Nightwing, Hawk, Dove, Starfire, Raven, and Oracle.

Sports Illustrated is “making history” by featuring plus-size model Ashley Graham in an ad in the annual swimsuit issue.

Links I Loved

The Ever-Expanding Spider-Man Family of Comics – The Kliqnation

Breakdown of the Daredevil Trailer for Netflix – The Robot’s Pajamas

Lorne Michaels on 40 Years of ‘SNL’: Being “‘Feared’ Was Never My Goal” – The Hollywood Reporter

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You’ve all seen this already because it was on EVERY website, Jimmy Fallon had a Saved By The Bell reunion on The Tonight Show. I love that he finally got to do this, as it’s something he’d been working on since he was hosting Late Night. In fact, when he wasn’t able to get the whole cast, he went with a California Dreams reunion instead. I not-so-secretly love California Dreams more than Saved By The Bell (I think it was the musical aspect), so that was just fine with me. Still, I love when a plan comes together, so it was cool that he finally got his SBTB reunion. It’s funny how Screech and Lisa aren’t present, though they aren’t even missed. I always hated Lisa, while I could take or leave Screech most of the time, so I felt this reunion was perfect. My love of TNBC shows knows no bounds, so that’s why Jimmy Fallon’s Saved By The Bell reunion had the West Week Ever.

29th Jan2015

The Best Pop Album of 2014…That You Didn’t Know Existed

by Will

Oooh, let’s see if that linkbaity headline does the trick.

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To say I’m a fan of boybands would be an understatement. I’m more like a curator of boyband culture. I once took a class trip to Paris just so that I could get the European releases of the Backstreet Boys albums. Yeah, it’s like that. Sure, I know all the words to the *NSYNC hits, but then my knowledge gets pretty obscure. Ever heard of Natural (they played their own instruments) or Take 5 (their 2000 album Against All Odds is one of the best pop offerings of the 21st century)? I have, and I’ve got all of their albums. Besides the catchy tunes, I’ve always been fascinated  by the behind the scenes nature of boybands. Most of the popular ones are the work of impresario/Ponzi scheme architect Lou Pearlman. When he went to jail, it was truly the end of an era. One group, however, let us take a look inside their formation, and gave us a taste of what it was like to be in a popular Lou Pearlman group. That group was O-Town.

 

Created on the ABC reality show Making the Band (yes, it existed before Puffy used it to create Da Band and Danity Kane on MTV), O-Town was a boyband comprised of Ashley Parker Angel, Erik-Michael Estrada, Jacob Underwood, Trevor Penick, and Dan Miller. The show followed their American Idol-style auditions to the group member selection. Over the course of 3 seasons, we witnessed the rise and fall of an American boyband. We were there when they released their first, self-titled album (the highs!) and we were also there when the guys watched as *NSYNC sued Lou Pearlman, causing them to worry about their own contracts (the lows!). We were also there when they released their first single, “Liquid Dreams” – yes, it’s about nocturnal emissions, yet got heavy airplay on radio. God bless America! During the third season of Making the Band, the group’s second CD, O2, came out, and nobody seemed to care. The boyband thing still had a little life left in it, but fans just weren’t feeling O-Town’s wet dreams anymore. So, they went their separate ways. Until last year. With the exception of Ashley, the rest of the guys reunited and recorded Lines & Circles – the best pop album of 2014 that you didn’t even know existed.

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As much as I follow boybands, I didn’t even know this album existed. I knew it was in the works, but I had no idea it was “in the wild”. Quietly released on August 24th, 2014, Lines & Circles is a short, intimate affair. At 10 tracks, it clocks in around 37 minutes – giving you just enough, but leaving you wanting more. While the album kicks off with the funky “Chasin’ After You”, it really hits its stride on the powerful ballad “Skydive”. Though O-Town’s legacy will probably always be “All Or Nothing”, I feel like “Skydive” is the most earnest song the group has ever performed. Easily the best track on the album. Next up, you’ve got the synth-heavy “Rewind” which sounds like it could’ve been from Taylor Swift’s 1989 sessions. Then, we have “Playing With Fire”, which sounds like a fun summer song, and sounds like something you’d hear from One Direction. “I Won’t Lose” is a nice acoustic ballad, and it should really be released as a single. “Right Kinda Wrong” feels kinda dated, like it wouldn’t have been out of place on *NSYNC’s Celebrity album. “Buried Alive” is an acoustic bluesy track which showcases each of the guys’ voices without all of the production layered over them. “Got To Go” is the Journey-ist song on the album. “Sometimes Love Ain’t Enough” sounds like the spiritual successor to “All Or Nothing”, both in theme and arrangement. The album wraps up with the breathy title track, “Lines & Circles”, which doesn’t really sound like an album capper. Instead, you’re wondering “What’s next?” I guess that’s a better note on which to go out than having the listener going “Please end already!” In all, it’s a great listen, from beginning to end. I can’t remember last time I felt that way about an album. Sure, Swift’s 1989 came close, but I felt that album had more filler tracks than this one. Prior to listening to Lines & Circles, 1989 was my pick for pop album of 2014. Now, however, I’ve got to change my vote. But don’t take my word for it – listen to the whole thing below!

And if the Spotify links didn’t work for you, here’s the video to “Skydive”: