31st Dec2015

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 12/31/15

by Will

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oie_922142seDasWF9

Welcome to the final West Week Ever of 2015! I figured you’ll all be hungover tomorrow, so I’d probably better post this today. As I’m sure you’re aware, NOTHING happens between Christmas and New Years, so it’s a wonder I even found enough material for a whole post. Or did I? You be the judge!

I Smile Back

On the movie front, I watched I Smile Back, which stars Sarah Silverman. Despite its star, this movie is NOT a comedy. In fact, it’s probably the most dramatic role Silverman has ever played. Based on the novel of the same name, Silverman plays a married upper middle class woman whose life is spiraling out of control. On the surface, her life is perfect: she’s got a loving husband, two great kids, a big house, etc. Below all that, however, she’s dealing with daddy issues and a substance abuse problem. Oh, and she bangs a lot of dudes who aren’t her husband. She does a stint in rehab, and you think things will start to get better for her. Well, you’d be wrong. It’s a really dark film, and I’m not sure if I recommend it, per se. I will say that if you’ve ever wanted to see Silverman topless, then this is the film for you. I’m still trying to process its ending, and part of me wants to read the book just to see if there’s more clarity to what’s going on there. This isn’t the kind of movie I’d just jump at watching. Honestly, I was all in when I saw that Silverman was in it, but I had no idea it’d be as dark as it was.

TFA

I also saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens for the second time. I went with my friends James and Jenn, and I was really interested in what they would think of the movie. They tend to dislike things that the public just eats up because they’re really cerebral. “Popcorn movies” are a waste of time to them, as they prefer entertainment that makes them *think*. So, I knew going in that they’d probably dislike the movie, but I was really curious to know what about it they would dislike most. James zeroed in on one of the things I mentioned last week: if there were a Bechdel Test for race, this movie would fail. Finn exists solely to move Rey’s story along. Sure, he has his moments, but he never really gets to be the hero of the film. Someone online put it best, saying that there’s no moment in the film when a character thinks “We’re in trouble! Better call Finn!”

Also, due to the fact that I’m not the biggest Star Wars fan, I didn’t really notice until it was brought to my attention: the movie is just a remix of the original trilogy. Hell, it might as well just have P. Diddy yelling “Bad Boy” every few minutes in the film. We’ve seen this movie before, and some have called it the “most expensive fan fiction to ever be put onscreen”. It relies too heavily on nostalgia, but a lot of you reading this who disagree with me are too close to the franchise to even realize that. You have fond memories of Star Wars as being a milestone in your upbringing, so something to come along and tug on those heartstrings isn’t really a “fail” in your book. I feel like the movie is almost exploitative in its nostalgia, and doesn’t even hide the fact about what it’s doing. I always thought it was funny that The Four Tops re-released “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)” as “It’s The Same Old Song”, and nobody realized it, even though they had the balls to tell you what they were doing simply in the title. That’s how I feel about The Force Awakens. It works because it’s something familiar that the public has already devoured and enjoyed. Sure, it may have new players, but are they really that new? I’m not trying to piss in anyone’s Corn Flakes, and if you liked the movie, that’s great. As a pseudo- “man on the street”, with no real ties to the original franchise, I thought it was entertaining, but nowhere near the amazing cinematic marvel that folks would lead you to believe it is, though. It’s a fun movie, but is it a good movie? I don’t consider myself enough of a cinephile to say, but I’m leaning towards “no”.

F is for Family

On the Netflix front, I’ve started watching F Is For Family. Created by comedian Bill Burr, it’s kind of like a mature King of the Hill. It focuses on patriarch Frank Murphy as he supports his family as an airport baggage handler in 1973. At its core, it’s just an animated sitcom focusing on a middle class family in a different era. I wish I could say it was based on Burr’s real life, but I haven’t seen anything supporting that theory. Anyway, I’m about 2 episodes in, and it’s pretty funny. The first season is only 6 episodes, so it’s a quick binge. Maybe when I’m done, I’ll finally circle back to Jessica Jones. Or I’ll just finally watch that second season of Bojack Horseman.

teen titans

In the world of television, I just discovered Teen Titans Go! Where has this show been all my life? Is this thing really for kids, ’cause I don’t believe it. I never watched the 2003 Teen Titans cartoon, as I felt it was for kids with ADHD. I mean, there was just simply too much erratic shit going on, plus I was, like, 20 when it debuted. Still, I think it’s a novel idea to focus on the team when they’re not saving the world, ’cause what they get into is hilarious. There’s one episode where they have to save the Justice League from Darkseid (voiced by Weird Al), while another had them hanging out with a thinly veiled Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Plus, I love when Beat Boy calls Raven “Mama”, as it makes me picture him as a little, green A.C. Slater. Anyway, the show seems too good to be for kids, as I doubt they even get most of the jokes. I know a lot of folks have been hesitant to check it out, as they’re still pissed at Cartoon Network for cancelling other DC Comics show Young Justice (come on, was that show really that good?). I’ve got to say, though, that Teen Titans Go! has bumped Clarence out of my #1 cartoon slot for the moment.

carly-rae-jepsen-kiss-album-sampler

Just like I became the hub of all things Girl Meets World leading up to its premiere, I guess the same thing is happening regarding Fuller House. It was revealed this week that Carly Rae Jepsen has re-recorded the original theme song for the Netflix series. This is where I’d say something snarky, like “I guess that ‘Call Me Maybe’ money ran out”, but all I can really think is “Good for her!” I feel like this show will have a lot of lookie-loos, so it’ll definitely be good exposure for her. Meanwhile, I had no clue she came from Canadian Idol! And in true Idol fashion, she didn’t even win (placed 3rd), yet has gone further than the winner that year.

TGIF

Normally, this would go in the Links I Loved portion of the post, but I’m on vacation, and haven’t read much in the past week. That said, Entertainment Weekly had a great oral history of ABC’s TGIF lineup. It was the kind of thing Grantland used to be great at doing, and I would totally read an entire book on the subject. Things I learned from reading it: Full House creator Jeff Franklin? Kind of a dick. Steve Urkel actor Jaleel White? Kind of a dick. Franklin is bad ’cause he refuses to admit that the creation of TGIF helped Full House – a show that never really made a ratings dent until it landed on Friday night. White has said dickish things in the past, but he just comes across kinda jerky in the write-up. And I totally forgot that the creative force behind Boy Meets World also gave us Dinosaurs. Anyway, it’s a great read if you have fond memories of Urkel crash landing into the Foster-Lamberts’ backyard.

Cosby

Ya know who’s NOT having the West Week Ever? Bill Cosby. Man, I still can’t believe there are Cosby “truthers” out there. We’re talking about over 50 women here! There are as many stars on the flag as women Bill Cosby zippity-zoppotied in the bippity bop! Some people like to think there’s some sort of conspiracy out there to take down a “great Black man”, but I always heard he was the head of the Secret Black Leaders of America. I mean, by that rank alone, the only person with the power to take him out would be Oprah, and she’s too busy with Weight Watchers right now. Sure, Beyoncé could be gearing up for a major heel turn, but I don’t see that happening, either. So no, there’s no conspiracy. A dude used his power and influence to take advantage of women, and it’s coming back to bite him in the ass. Kinda like Star Wars, I have no real reverence for The Cosby Show, so it’s not like this has “tainted his legacy” or anything in my mind. Sure, The Cosby Show changed how Black people were viewed in primetime, but that still doesn’t excuse the fact that its star was using that platform to help him in his “extracurricular” affairs. And to stand up for Cosby, what would I get out of that? First of all, I’d look like a fool. Second, Bill Cosby HATES my generation. Hell, I don’t even do most of the stuff he pins on us (we wear our pants too low, etc), but he still hates my cohort. So why the Hell should I go to bat for his lecherous old ass? If anything, I’m just kinda glad Brandon Tartikoff didn’t live to see this. Then again, he was there at the beginning, so maybe he knew…

RecurrentEventsLogo

In happier news, I made my 50th podcast appearance last week on the 2015 year end recap episode of The Recurrent Events Podcast. I joined up with my pals Jason and Chad to talk about the year that was in popular culture. If you like that sort of recap thing, be sure to check out West YEAR Ever next week. In the meantime, listen to our gabfest here.

Hoverboard-for-sale

Like I said, nothing happens between Christmas and New Years, so there wasn’t a lot of “news”. If you ask me, the West Week Ever goes to all the nameless Chinese manufacturers of the hoverboard. Sure, they’re breaking wrists and burning down houses, but they were the hottest gadgets of the holiday season. Whether yours is a “Swagway”, “HoverTrax”, or an “AirBoard”, you weren’t an official Vine star unless you had one of these things this year. They’re currently banned from most sidewalks, malls, airports, and everywhere else, but that didn’t take them off the top of every teen’s Christmas list. So, for winning the season despite the odds stacked against it, the hoverboard had the West Week Ever.

Thanks for reading, and be sure to Like us on Facebook!

11th Dec2015

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

by Will

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oie_922142seDasWF9

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

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

here-comes-the-boom-kevin-james-movie-review

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

unfinished business

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

the league

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

superstore

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

Telenovela-Review-Eva-Longo

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

wayward pines

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

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

star wars force awakens figures

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

 

jeopardy 5

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

Jeopardy Tweet

Jeopardy Tweet 2

Jeopardy Tweet 3

Jeopardy Tweet 4

jeopardy 5

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

Jeopardy Tweet Strangers

 

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

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

Storage Wars 2

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

Storage Wars 3

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

Stargate Atlantis Season 6

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

Power Pinups

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

Links I Loved

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

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

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

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

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

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

An Oral History of The League – ESPN

2tmnt52

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

2tmnt42

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

04th Dec2015

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 12/4/15

by Will

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bernie

First up this week, I watched the film Bernie. You’ve probably never seen it, as it was a smaller black comedy, but Jack Black stars as Bernie Tiede, an effeminate funeral director who befriends Marjorie Nugent (Shirley MacLaine), the meanest and richest woman in the town of Carthage, TX. The movie surrounds the townsfolks’ reactions when it’s revealed that Tiede killed Nugent and kept her death a secret from everyone. It’s based on a true story that happened back in 1996, and Tiede was actually released on bond earlier this year. The movie is interspersed with town gossip from both performers and actual residents of Carthage, and they really help make the film what it is. I’m used to Black in goofy roles, but he was really great here. I highly recommend this movie.

Next up, I’ve got a bone to pick with Disney Channel. You see, a one-hour special is NOT an “Original Disney Channel Movie”. That is merely a SPECIAL. Anyway, I caught The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar, which is basically the pilot for an upcoming animated series. Returning us to the world of The Lion King, Simba’s now an old fuddy duddy (voiced by Rob Lowe, of all people) with 2 kids, Kion and Kiara. Since Kiara’s older, she’s being groomed to be the future Queen of the Pride Lands, while Kion is kind of the screw up. So, imagine everyone’s surprise when it turns out that Kion has The Roar, which is a power that draws upon the spirits of the ancestor lions. The prophecy is that the person with The Roar would be the leader of The Lion Guard, which is an assemblage of lions that are responsible for protecting the Pride Lands. Unfortunately, the last one to possess the power was Simba’s uncle Scar, the last leader of the Guard who went on to destroy the other members. When the Hyenas catch wind of Kion’s new power, they see him as a threat and decide to attack before he had assembled his team. Which just makes him assemble his team faster.

Bunga

Where to begin with this story? First of all, it’s not very good. It feels like a cash grab, as Disney returns to one of its deepest wells. In some ways, it could be seen as an anniversary project, but in that case it should’ve come out in 2014. The animation is basic and not very detailed. Part of me was sad that carefree Simba grew up to essentially be his father. I know he has responsibilities as King of the Pride Lands, but it felt like he really hadn’t retained much of his time with Timon and Pumbaa. He’s all business. Speaking of Timon and Pumbaa, they show up because their nephew, Bunga, is a honey badger who’s also Kion’s best friend. Bunga is probably the brightest spot of an otherwise mediocre story. In an #AllLionsMatter twist, Simba gets pissed at Kion for recruiting non-lions to The Lion Guard. They somehow managed to get James Earl Jones back for a cameo, but it just felt wasted. And the whole thing about The Roar seems to come out of nowhere. I mean, a big part of The Lion King focused on Simba trying to find his roar. Once he did, he never became the leader of the Lion Guard. And at that time, Scar no longer had the position because he lost the power after killing the rest of the Guard. So, it would’ve been ripe for Simba to take over. But of course this never happened because this was NEVER PART OF THE ORIGINALLY INTENDED STORY. It’s just a retcon. Also, the special has about 4 forgettable songs that don’t even deserve to be part of The Lion King canon. I guess you could say it introduces The Lion King to a new generation, but the whole Power Rangers of the Pride Lands angle doesn’t work for me.

Chaos On The Bridge

On Netflix, I caught Chaos On the Bridge, which is a documentary that covers the first 3 turbulent seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation. It’s a documentary that basically supports my longest held belief about The Next Generation: the show didn’t get good until creator Gene Roddenberry died. It’s a terrible thing to say, but the evidence pretty much supports it, combined with the fact that Roddenberry was physically in no shape to be running a show. In a nice little Trek twist, the film was written and directed by Captain Kirk himself, William Shatner. My biggest problem is that, at 59 minutes, it felt rushed. It also didn’t help that it’s filmed in this music video/motion comic kind of format that makes it feel like the whole thing is simply the trailer for a much longer movie we never get to see. Some of the things I already knew (TNG was slated for Fox before it got syndicated, Diana Muldaur never really clicked), but some stuff was new (they basically fired Gates McFadden for being uppity, Roddenberry had a mistress). It was interesting that the various Star Treks were indicative of where Roddenberry was in his life. During the original series, he wanted to be the ladies man who captained the ship, while he wanted to be the wise, old sage during the TNG era. He had delved into the study of secular humanism and, unlike most sci fi, he felt that things would actually get better for humanity as time went on. In his mind, by the 24th century, humans would have eliminated all conflict, which was a BITCH for the writers, as drama is fueled by conflict. It was really interesting to hear how this was received behind the scenes, and how writers found ways around it. If you’re a fan of the TNG-era Trek, I highly recommend this documentary. If I had one complaint, I only wish it were longer.

Samurai-Jack-reboot-poster-120215

In TV news, Adult Swim announced that Samurai Jack would be returning to the airwaves in 2016. I’ve only seen one episode, and didn’t really understand it. Still, people I respect rave over it so maybe I’ll give it another shot one of these days.

Youre_The_Worst1

Meanwhile on TV, FX announced that You’re The Worst has been renewed for a third season. This show features one of my favorite TV relationships, so I’m really happy about this news. If you’ve never seen the show, it’s about struggling writer Jimmy and hot mess Gretchen who have a one night stand after a wedding. Even though they’re both not “relationship people”, they still feel like they’re a good match for each other, so they try to make it work. This season’s been particularly dark, as Gretchen’s dealing with severe depression and basically pushing Jimmy into the arms of another woman. Oh, and it’s a comedy. Anyway, I highly recommend it.

family-matters-flight-before-christmas.ch.113015

I’m not really one for Lifetime Christmas movies, but ’tis the season and all that. Well, imagine my surprise that the Winslows are coming back in The Flight Before Christmas. Airing tomorrow night, Reginald VelJohnson and Jo Marie Payton of Family Matters fame will be reunited in a Christmas movie starring Mayim Bialik (that’s not weird to anyone else? Was Kellie Martin busy?). Anyway, Bialik plays one of two travelers who end up stranded in Montana when their flight is diverted. And I take it they fall in love, or discover the true meaning of Christmas or some shit. Yeah, I won’t be watching this, but I look forward to someone making GIFs of all of the Winslow scenes.

BP

In comic news, we saw preview art this week for Ta-Nehisi Coates’s upcoming Black Panther run, and I am NOT digging it. I’m somewhat familiar with the work of artist Brian Stelfreeze, as I even have a Batman sketch from him. That said, I was expecting something a little slicker, a little more stylized. I’m hoping these are just sketchbook doodles, and that the finished product will have more Wow Factor. In regards to the story arc, part of me wonders why Coates is even wasting his time on this. I mean, on paper, he’s the smartest person to work for Marvel in a long time. He won the National Book Award for nonfiction. He won the MacArthur Genius Grant. Why is THIS guy writing something like Black Panther?

Meow

Speaking of Black Panther, there was quite the controversy this week as Entertainment Weekly revealed their Captain America: Civil War cover. While Black Panther is featured prominently between Captain America and Iron Man, his appearance is notable for 2 other reasons: 1) he’s not unmasked like the other two (EW said that was Disney’s call) and 2) the word “Meow” is written next to him. They went on to say that he that he “has claws that a Real Housewife would envy.” A lot of people took offense to this joke, as it seemed like they were trying to emasculate one of the few marquee Black superheroes. I was busy while the controversy was blazing across Twitter, so it was basically over by the time I learned about it. At the end of the day, I think it was just someone trying to be cute, but I can see where folks were coming from. EW Senior Writer Anthony Breznican was really receptive to the online criticism, and he seemed glad that people had pointed it out. I think they’ll be hesitant to do this kind of thing in the future.

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So I guess we’ve gotta talk about that Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer, huh? First off, during this week’s Gotham, viewers were treated to a 30-second tease of the movie. Featuring Batman in a trenchcoat, being unmasked by Superman, the snippet did nothing to excite me about this movie. Then, Wednesday night, Ben Affleck went on Jimmy Kimmel Live (seriously, how is Kimmel getting all of these exclusives?!) and brought the full trailer with him. You’ve already seen it, so I’m not gonna go and post it here.

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To me, it was the trailer equivalent of Fant4stic Four: The first 2/3 were serviceable, and then it just went off the rails. I was fine with the footage of Clark and Bruce. I’m now more intrigued about Affleck’s portrayal of Wayne. In fact, I’m more interested in his Wayne than in his Batman. And then the fighting started. OK, whatever. It’s a common comic book trope: when heroes first meet, they have to fight ’cause of “misunderstanding” or whatever (Imagine how many fights would’ve occurred on Three’s Company if they had thrown down at the hint of every misunderstanding. It would’ve been a bloodbath! But I digress…). We knew they’d fight, so the trailer shows them fighting. I get it. Then Wonder Woman shows up, and we see the very minute they STOP fighting! Um, wasn’t that the point of getting us to see the movie? You wanted us to want to see the end of the fight? Welp, we’ve seen it. But then the biggest slap in the face happens: the movie features Superman foe Doomsday.

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Even if you don’t read comics, if you were in alive in 1992, you know that Superman “died”, and he was killed by Doomsday. I don’t need the guy who FUCKING KILLED SUPERMAN to be in Henry Cavill’s SECOND appearance as Superman. Pace that shit out! It’s like they couldn’t fucking wait to use Doomsday and, frankly, the DC Cinematic Universe hasn’t *earned* that yet. That’s a development for the Justice League movie or something – not movie #2 when you’re still world-building. BUILD the world before you start tearing it down. The inclusion of Doomsday in this movie is just such a fan service kick to the balls to me. It’s not needed, and it’s just one more unnecessary aspect to an already crowded movie. They already had me, and then they pushed too hard. As I said on Twitter, I was on board with the trailer until Doomsday showed up. It’s like getting ready to have sex with a hot girl and then her penis is bigger than yours. Think about that for a minute.

Goldberg

In social media, I had another exchange with a Hollywood type. Rather, instead of an “exchange”, Adam F. Goldberg, creator of The Goldbergs, decided to reply to a tweet I posted back in October. Kinda weird he decided to even acknowledge it, two months later – especially since I didn’t even tag him in it. I swear, these people need to quit it with the TweetDeck filters and go about doing their jobs. I didn’t even reply, as I didn’t feel like his reply warranted it. And it does still bother me they won’t commit to a year. That 70s Show never seemed to have that problem!

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On the podcasting front, I had the pleasure of joining the Recurrent Events Podcast again last night. We discussed Ecto-Cooler, Gremlins 3, Rambo and more. Be sure to check it out here.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

Pamela Anderson Playboy

-After asking her sons’ permission, Pamela Anderson will grace the cover of the final “adult” issue of Playboy. No, really.

-MTV has decided that the post-Millennial generation will be known as the “Founders”. That’s some sci fi level shit right there. They’re gonna kill us all, aren’t they?

-Coldplay will play the halftime show for Super Bowl 50. I can’t figure out if this is better or worse than Bruno Mars’s rumored return to the halftime show.

-DJ Earworm released the 2015 “50 Shades of Pop” edition of his annual United State of Pop mashup, and I only recognize about 3 songs. I’m officially an old man.

Links I Loved

We Were a Nielsen Family — Here’s What It Was Like – Vulture

Ten 80s Cartoon Characters Who Are Impossible to Christmas Shop For – UnderScoopFire

Star Wars The Force Awakens Countdown T-Shirt Challenge Day 3 – The Robot’s Pajamas

Sunset. – Team Hellions

Wrestler Executes Devastating Finishing Move with His Penis – SB Nation

Flarrow Crossover

This week saw the premiere of “Heroes Join Forces”, the 2015 iteration of the annual crossover between The Flash and Arrow. The 2-night event featured the debut of Hawkman and Hawkgirl, reincarnated Egyptian lovers on the run from the immortal Vandal Savage. Executive producer Greg Berlanti said that the goal of the event was to make the episode of The Flash feel more like an Arrow episode and vice versa. On that count, I think they delivered. The crossover started with Team Flash making the trip to Star City to get protection for their friend Kendra who’s been targeted by Savage. Kendra doesn’t seem to understand why she’s a target, and Barry Allen doesn’t feel like he can offer the protection that she needs. They all get attacked by Savage, Hawkman appears and tries to remind Kendra of their past together, and Oliver discovers a secret from his past. And that’s just part one! The next night, it’s Arrow‘s turn, as everyone gets together to devise a plan to take Savage down once and for all. Oh, and Barry does some time traveling. If you couldn’t tell from my brief synopsis, part one was clearly the strongest of the 2 episodes, but it was a great crossover that laid more of the groundwork for the upcoming DC’s Legends of Tomorrow (premiering January 21st!).

I was late to the Arrow bandwagon, but it’s now one of my favorite shows. Meanwhile, I’m still technically on season one of The Flash, so there was a lot going on that went over my head. That said, I still felt like more happened on The Flash than on Arrow over the course of the 2 nights. I skipped out on Smallville before they started introducing every DC hero and their mom, so it’s kinda of novel to me to see this DC team get formed. At this point, we already have Green Arrow, Black Canary, The Flash, The Atom, The Hawks, and Firestorm in continuity. Not to mention John Constantine and the other folks slated for Legends. Plus, there have been a LOT of hints of Hal Jordan, so it’s only a matter of time before he joins the party. I really like what Berlanti is building here, and this crossover just got me more excited for Legends of Tomorrow, so “Heroes Join Forces” had the West Week Ever.

27th Nov2015

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 11/27/15

by Will

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Happy Black Friday! Here’s my meager haul so far. Yes, I know I’ve said that I hate Gotham, but I’ll give anything a shot for $10. About half these things are on Netflix, but I tend to be in situations where I can’t stream, so I figured physical media would help me out with that. How did you all do?

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So, I’m a bad geek, as I haven’t finished Jessica Jones yet. It debuted a week ago on Netflix, and most people have binged it already, but I’m just not really in a binging mood right now. At the moment, I’m about 2.5 episodes into the series, and I like what I see so far. I doubted Ritter’s casting, but so far she’s convincing as the character. And the sex! Every time Luke and Jessica bang, I think, “Take THAT, racism!” Anyway, people seem to like it, so I guess Marvel and Netflix have another hit on their hands. I’ll have a better review when I finish the season.

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In addition to watching The Marine for the umpteenth time, I rented a few movies from Redbox. First up was Spy, starring Melissa McCarthy and Jason Statham. I know I seem to be in the minority in my circle, but I feel like Melissa McCarthy can do no wrong. She and Paul Feig are a winning team and, if it’s rated R, you’re especially in for a treat, as she can cuss with the best of them. If you haven’t seen it, Susan Cooper is a schlubby CIA analyst who finds herself in the field as an agent to avenge the death of her partner. Feig brought back some of his familiar folks, like Rose Byrne from Bridesmaids, and the result was hilarious. It was also really refreshing to see Statham in a comedic role, and I’d like to see more of that from him. It being Redbox, I was only able to rent the theatrical version, but I’d love to see the unrated version, as some of the jokes in the red band trailer didn’t seem to make it into the film.

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Next up, I watched Vacation, and man did that feel like a chore! I should probably admit that I’ve never seen the original. Sure, I saw European Vacation a couple of times, and I saw Christmas Vacation about 20 years ago, but I’ve never seen the original Chevy Chase goes to Walley World film. I like Ed Helms. I’ve liked him since he was Andy Bernard, as we were both obnoxious Cornell a cappella alums. So, I want to see him do well. I’m not sure he was right for this role, though. I remember Rusty Griswold, and I’d hate to think he grew up to be square Ed Helms. I guess the lesson is that we all grow up to be our fathers, but I didn’t think Rusty would’ve grown up to be so…boring. Anyway, the entire cast, from Helms to Christina Applegate, is wasted on a thin script. Basically, to bring his family closer together, Rusty Griswold decides to take his family on a vacation to the Walley World theme park, just like his father had done years before. Meanwhile, his marriage is shaky, as his wife is unfulfilled, and his one son is a nightmare of a bully, while the other is uber sensitive. The jokes really fell flat, and the only time the movie has any real life to it is when the Griswolds deliver a Bundy-style beatdown to another family. Unless you’re just a die-hard Vacation completist (which means you probably also liked the made-for-TV Christmas Vacation 2), you can go ahead and skip this film.

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Then, I watched Get Hard, starring Kevin Hart and Will Ferrell. On paper, this movie is perfect to me. Two of my favorite comedic actors in the same film. Sure, Kevin Hart pretty much always plays himself (“volatile little guy”), but you never really know what to expect from Ferrell. In execution, however, this movie left me wanting. In fact, for most of the film, it feels like Ferrell is woefully miscast – odd, considering it’s from his production company, Gary Sanchez films. Kevin Hart’s just fine, but Ferrell doesn’t really get comfortable until Act 3, when he can really get crazy. If you’re not familiar with it, Ferrell plays a successful money manager who finds himself framed for fraud. With 30 days before he’s sent to prison, he hires Kevin Hart to teach him how to survive in jail. He figures Hart’s been to jail since 1 in 3 Black men will be incarcerated at some point in their life so, naturally, Hart is that 1. Surprisingly, however, Hart hasn’t been to jail, so he has to fake it so that he can get Ferrell to pay him the $30,000 that he needs to move his family into a better neighborhood. The entire basis of the movie is kinda racist, and there’s something of a lesson to be taught about assumptions and cultural appropriation, but this isn’t the kind of movie you screen for your college sociology class. It pretty much begs you not to ask questions. At the end of the day, it was funny, but it could have been funnier. For this one, I think you can wait for it to come on TBS.

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Finally, I watched Miss Congeniality on TV. Yeah, this movie’s 15 years old, but there are a LOT of movies I haven’t seen yet. Sandy Bullock (yeah, we’re cool enough that I can call her Sandy) is just so cute, but I wonder if she’s tired of playing the slightly socially inept cop. I mean, her character in Miss Congeniality might as well be her character from The Heat, as there aren’t many differences between the two. Maybe that’s her sweet spot.  Haven’t seen it? It’s about a hot mess of a federal agent who finds herself undercover in the world of beauty pageants. Michael Caine works his magic and turns her into the belle of the ball. Anyway, that was a cute little movie. I enjoyed it enough that I DVRed the sequel.

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This week, it was announced that Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be rated PG-13. Well, duh! Ya know why? Because EVERYTHING is rated PG-13 these days. It’s not like it was gonna be rated R, ’cause they want the kids to see it, plus it’s not like the Jedi are cussing up a storm and having gratuitous sex. That’s my issue with trailers that say “This Film Has Not Yet Been Rated”. That’s basically the studio saying, “We’re still debating how many ‘shits’ we can get in the film and have the MPAA leave us alone.” It’s ALWAYS gonna be PG-13. In this day and age, it’s pretty much impossible to have a live action PG movie. That rating is reserved for Pixar and Universal animated films (Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day is the only recent live action example I can think of). Everything else is PG-13. Apparently, it and Revenge of the Sith are the only ones in the franchise to not have a PG rating, but the industry has changed a lot since the prequels.

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In other movie news, it’s reported that the next Men In Black movie will prominently feature a Woman In Black. That’s not really a big deal, as they’ve shown women in the organization, but since the movies are set to shift away from the J and K partnership, maybe she’ll be front and center. Also, it seems like they’re still committed to having it in a shared universe with the 21 Jump Street franchise (first revealed in the Sony email hack). Exactly how that’s gonna work remains to be seen. It’s also not clear if Will Smith is coming back. He seems to hate sequels lately (see Independence Day: Resurgence), so I wouldn’t be surprised if he bailed. Hell, I wouldn’t even be surprised if he somehow convinced the studio to hire Jayden or Willow instead.

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In music news, *NSYNC said “Bye bye bye” to their album sales record, as Adele broke it by selling 3 million copies of 25 during its first week. I really never thought that record had any chance of being broken in today’s music sales climate, but there we go. Meanwhile, Justin Bieber broke a record by The Beatles with most number of singles on the Hot 100 at once. The Beatles had 14, and Bieber has 17, but he kinda cheated. Usually, you release a single at a time, so as not to cannibalize your progress. Bieber, however, released videos for 17 of the 18 songs on Purpose simultaneously, so it was pretty easy for him to break that record. This is the new music industry, so I pretty much expect someone like One Direction to come along and do this with their next album, thereby breaking Bieber’s record. And so on and so on.

courtesy of hopeless-romance45.deviantart.com

courtesy of hopeless-romance45.deviantart.com

I don’t talk much about wrestling these days, mainly because I can’t stomach 3 hours of RAW every week. Still, my favorite wrestler of all time is The Undertaker. Sure, he kinda seems like a dated gimmick now, but that’s the point. He hearkens back to a bygone era when wrestlers had gimmicks and things that made them special. Nowawdays, they don’t even come with creative names. For example, if I were in the WWE, my name would probably be Bruce Williamson. Back in the day, that would’ve been the name of a “jobber” (the nobody who fights the superstar to make him look better). Now, however, Bruce Williamson could be the new heavyweight champion of the world. Now, some people might see that as “progress”, but I see it as the sport losing its mystique. So, as cheesy as he may seem, I ride or die for The Deadman.

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Well, this week we celebrated 25 years of The Undertaker, as he made his in-ring debut during Survivor Series in 1990. This is a big deal, as you will NEVER SEE THIS AGAIN. Sure, there are people who’ve been wrestling for longer, but they bounced from promotion to promotion. The Undertaker has never jumped ship to WCW (though he did a stint there prior to WWE) or TNA. Sure, he takes a LOT of breaks, but he always comes home to WWE. He’s apparently a major positive force in the locker room, and he’s been rewarded for it. A 21 year streak at Wrestlemania is what he’s most known for. Now, yes, it’s scripted entertainment, but I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t let The Streak happen for just anybody. No, Taker earned that, as he always performs…even when he probably shouldn’t. His days are numbered, and there may not be an Undertaker pretty soon. I certainly don’t think we’ll be celebrating 30 years of The Undertaker, but stranger things have happened. I have a feeling Vince McMahon will step in and tell him “it’s time”, just like he did when he decided it was time to end The Streak. When that time comes, I just may have to be there for his final match.

Storage Wars

In the world of social media, I had the above exchange with Rene from Storage Wars. It was less an exchange and more of “he clearly had a filter on for Storage Wars mentions and decided to respond”. I didn’t really have anything to say back to him, though. I guess nice guys do win every now and then. But I’m scared of that Mavrick dude. Half his body is pure tattoo.

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In the world of comics, the first issue of The Dark Knight III: The Master Race came out this week. I tried to read it, and didn’t get past the first page. Part of the problem is that I’ve completely forgotten everything that occurred in that previous installment, The Dark Knight Strikes Again. I mean, c’mon, it was 12 years ago! I just remember it being really bad. If you’ve never read the original The Dark Knight, it’s about an older, grizzled Batman coming out of retirement to fight mutant gangs and a governmentally brainwashed Superman. It sounds kind of “out there”, but it’s a classic, and is rumored to be the basis of Ben Affleck’s portrayal in the upcoming Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Anyway, in a surprisingly dick move, before the issue even came out, original writer Frank Miller announced that there will be a Dark Knight IV. From what I’ve gathered, it seems like Miller’s “cowriter” on DK III, Brian Azzarello, is actually steering the ship, and I don’t think ol’ Frank wants him to have the final say on The Dark Knight Saga. So, Miller has decided that he’ll just keep going as long as DC will let him. And since DK stories is like printing money, it’s not like DC’s gonna stop him anytime soon. Unless DK III is a colossal bomb. Which it could be…

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This is pretty much the most useless week in the calendar year, as nothing really gets accomplished before Thanksgiving. As such, no real news came out this week either. We were all set to just accept this and ready ourselves for turkey. Then, Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. showed up on Jimmy Kimmel Live with a surprise: they had the teaser trailer for Captain America: Civil War. After the show, the full trailer was uploaded to YouTube. Haven’t seen it? Here ya go:

Did you see Black Panther?! I’ve NEVER cared about that character, but they actually made him look cool. I may actually be looking forward to his solo movie now (seriously, most of Phase 3 is kinda “meh” to me right now). I’m probably more excited about this movie than Star Wars (yeah, I know, I know…), so May 6th can’t get here fast enough.

That said, I’m kinda disappointed that this was Cap 3 instead of Avengers 3. Considering the cast list, everyone jokes that it’s basically Avengers 2.5, but I feel that making it a Cap movie indicates that Cap is the hero, and I don’t feel the Civil War situation (at least as presented in the comic storyline) is that cut and dry. To be honest, I was Team Stark when that whole thing went down. Heroes DO need to be regulated, and it’s a natural reaction from a frightened populace. In the comics, they kinda portrayed Stark as the asshole, while Cap was the “hero”, even though Stark was the one upholding THE LAW. Now, there’s the whole argument of “Do you acknowledge laws that are wrong?”, which is pretty much what Cap’s stance was. The whole thing was marketed under the banner of “Whose Side Are You On?” Because this movie is about Cap sticking up for his friend, Bucky, I think it kinda adds a slant to the argument. It feels like they’ve already made up our minds about whose side we should be on, especially when you see things like the dual beatdown The Winter Solider and Cap give Iron Man in the trailer. I really hope things are presented a big more evenly in the film but, like I said, I’m not really expecting it. Anyway, for getting me excited for a movie I really didn’t have on my radar, the Captain America: Civil War trailer had the West Week Ever.

 

20th Nov2015

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

by Will

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

Into-the-Badlands

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

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

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

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

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

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

100 years

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

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

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

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

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

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Things You Might Have Missed This Week

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

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

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

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

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

Links I Loved

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

Life After Nickelodeon: Jennette McCurdy Grows Up – Vulture

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

Police Academy 2 & 3 Double Feature – TBD

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

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

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

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

02nd Nov2015

Mail Call Monday – SummerSwap 2015

by Will

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

30th Oct2015

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 10/30/15

by Will

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I watched a LOT of stuff this week, so let’s get to it, shall we? First up, I watched The Inbetweeners 2 – a sequel to both The Inbetweeners Movie and The Inbetweeners television series. In case you’re not familiar, the UK series follows the teenage antics of friends Will, Simon, Neil, and Jay. Will’s the obnoxious one (with a hot mom), Simon’s the lovestruck one, Neil’s the dumb one, and Jay’s the horny one. It’s sort of like a British American Pie, but raunchier. In the last movie, they went on holiday to Crete before all going off to university. Well, this time around, Will, Simon and Neil decide to use their Easter break to go surprise Jay, who’s doing a gap year in Australia. And hilarity ensues. Will chases after a girl, while Simon finds himself accidentally engaged to his shrew of a girlfriend. Neil’s hoping to get a job as a dolphin trainer, while Jay’s true reason for being in Australia comes to light. Oh, and it includes the grossest water slide sequence you’ll ever see. Trust me. Anyway, when it comes to The Inbetweeners, I love the whole franchise (including the lackluster US version that aired on MTV a couple of years ago), so I highly recommend this movie. Both are on Netflix, so check them out!

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Sticking with comedies, I rented Pitch Perfect 2 from Redbox. Why did people hate this movie again? People I respect have said that this was one of the worst sequels to what was an amazing first movie. I actually disagree. Maybe it’s like me and Ghostbusters 2, where I think I liked this one better than the first. Sure, it doesn’t have the whole arc of Becca getting to college, joining the group, and turning it around. Sure, Skylar Astin was sorely underused. And sure, Hailee Steinfeld doesn’t really have a breakout moment to shine. I get all of that. But the core of the movie spoke to me. The Barden Bellas have been a hot commodity since the events of the first movie, and most of those girls are now seniors. As they get ready to go out into the world, a few of them are scared because they don’t know what the future holds. Sure, they were big shit in college, but will that mean anything in the “real world”? This whole thing spoke to me because I lived that life.

For those who’ve been here before, take a bathroom break. For those who are newish, here’s my backstory: in college, I was part of an all-male group at Cornell called Last Call. You know the competition that the Bellas won in the first Pitch Perfect? We came in second at that very competition. We performed on The Today Show, and were kind of a big deal – as far as early ’00s collegiate a cappella goes (i.e. not very far). If I were Al Bundy, that’s my “Four touchdowns in a single game”. I didn’t know what was gonna happen after graduation, and would I still be “Will West: Black Guy Who Sings Lean On Me”? I graduated and survived. I’ve got a wife and kid and the whole nine yards. But I’m not sure I’ve felt as *important* in the years since that all ended. Wow, that’s really sad…

Anyway, Pitch Perfect 2 deals with the Bellas as they get ready to embark on the same path. Will they still matter? What kind of legacy are they leaving behind? What did their time in the group even mean? I can understand that a lot of this is really “inside baseball” for folks who couldn’t give 2 shits about the laughable world of singing nonsense syllables, but I think writer Kay Cannon knows her shit, and did a good job getting all of that in the script. I thought the jokes were hilarious, and I’d pay for a commentary track of nothing by John Michael Higgins and Elizabeth Banks judging the whole movie. Surprisingly, as much as I know “laypeople” love the first movie, I’ve actually never discussed the franchise with any a cappella alumni. I’d be curious to know how they felt about everything conveyed by the movies – especially the stuff in this second installment. The folks who raved about the first movie seemed to have been universally let down by this movie, but it still did well enough for Universal to greenlight Pitch Perfect 3, and it was announced this week that Elizabeth Banks would be back to direct. Despite what you may have heard, I’d still really recommend this film.

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Speaking of Pitch Perfect, I got a tweet favorited by Kether Donohue, one of the Bellas from the first film. She’s now a costar on FXX’s You’re The Worst – a great show to check out if you’re not already watching it.

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While at Redbox, I picked up Mad Max: Fury Road. I’d heard nothing but praises about this movie, so I figured it was time for me to check it out. About 5 minutes into it, I started thinking “What the Hell did I just sign up for?” I was really lost with the intro with the Warboys and Valhalla and Immortan Joe. Then I gradually got into it. OK, Furiosa’s gone rogue. Got it. And she’s got Immortan Joe’s brides. Got it. And they’re on the Cannonball Run. Got it. In the end, I really enjoyed the film, but I’m not sure I get ALL the hype. It’s a visually stunning movie, and the plot was strong enough. I wasn’t blown away, though, which is what I’d expected from everything I heard. Plus, I’ve got a question: how many of those old bitches were there? I swear, when Furiosa met them in the desert, there were about 5. When the final battle took place, though, they were coming out of the woodwork. I swear, like, 14 old ladies got killed! Anyway, I enjoyed it, and I’d watch it again, but I don’t see why everyone just fell in love with it. Maybe I needed to see it on the big screen.

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On the Netflix front, I finally caught up with Arrow. I’d been watching it On Demand, but dropped it with about 9 episodes left in the season. I think it was because I was unhappy with the whole Ra’s Al Ghul arc. I mean, *SPOILER ALERT* if you’re going to kill Oliver, let him stay dead longer than ONE episode. Drag that shit out to get the emotional mileage out of it! *END SPOILER*. It’s too bad I bailed when I did, though, as the series got pretty good after that tomfoolery. When he was Superman, I never thought I’d like Brandon Routh, but he’s so good as Ray Palmer. I still can’t stand Laurel and those hands of hers (seriously, look at her hands sometime). The season finale would’ve made a pretty good series finale had it not only been season 3. You knew that happy ending couldn’t last, and that Oliver would be back. Sadly, though, I don’t like what he has become by the beginning of season 4. Oliver’s happy and living the domesticated life with Felicity in the suburbs. When he gets called back to Star City (it’s been rebranded now), he decides to pretend that The Arrow is dead, and that he’s a new hero taking his place, called Green Arrow. He even has something of a press conference to announce the change.

My problem with Arrow, however, is that Oliver doesn’t seem to know who he is anymore. At the end of the 3rd season, he basically said that he couldn’t be Oliver Queen OR The Arrow anymore. He had to figure how to be the changed person that he’d become. My problem, though, is that he’s happy now, and I think it’s throwing him off his game. I mean, this is the guy who defeated The Demon’s Head so, theoretically, he really shouldn’t be letting common street thugs get the jump on him anymore. Maybe it’s signalling a tonal shift, but I thought Oliver thrived in the darkness. It’s one of the Batman tropes that they’ve applied to the show since the beginning. Oliver can’t be happy, as that would get in the way of his mission. But right now, he seems to be a man without a mission. So, where does that leave him? Apparently that means announcing his candidacy for mayor of Star City. I’m somewhat surprised to see them adapt this storyline so soon (especially since Oliver wins the election in the comics), but if it somehow leads him back to the old Arrow that we know and love, then I’m all for it. We’ve seen Oliver evolve in the past. During the first season, he was a killer. During the second and third, he was a vigilante. Now, he wants to be a hero – one that inspires people. But at what cost?

It seems like they’re gonna have Oliver fighting more metas this season, as they added the McGuffin of a high speed train between Star and Central Cities. So now metas have a quick way to leave Flash territory and land on Green Arrow turf. Like I mentioned before, Oliver shouldn’t be able to be taken down by street toughs anymore, so they really are gonna need to amp up his rogues gallery. Looks like they’re borrowing more from Batman, as Anarky has joined the party. A lot of this just feels like setup for the midseason Legends of Tomorrow, but I hope Arrow becomes a bit more cohesive in upcoming episodes.

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We’re almost 2 months into the new television season, yet we still haven’t witnessed that first heralded cancellation. No network seems to want to be first, so they’re “unofficially” canceling their shows by cutting their episode orders. Once those eps are done, that’s it. At that point, there’s no need to really announce a cancellation, as the ep order had already been made known. At the moment, Fox has cut the episode order for Minority Report, ABC has cut the order for Blood & Oil, and NBC has cut the order for The Player and Truth Be Told. TV critic Daniel Feinberg likes to talk about The Mulaney Line, which was the low ratings point at which Fox’s Mulaney hovered until it was cancelled. If a show’s ratings fall below the Mulaney Line, then everyone involved should be worried. For Fox, that would include Minority Report and Sleepy Hollow. For CBS, that’s CSI:Cyber. ABC actually doesn’t have any, but Blood & Oil‘s close. NBC’s are the ones for which they’re already cut the episode orders. Oddly enough, every show on The CW is under the line except for The Flash and Arrow. The other CW shows don’t have to worry, though, ’cause there seem to be different rules for that network. I still think the first official cancellation will come from NBC, especially since Truth Be Told had one of the lowest-rated in-season premieres in history.

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After I posted last week’s West Week Ever, the official Power Rangers Twitter account announced that RJ Cyler had been cast as the Blue Ranger in the upcoming Power Rangers movie. Well, this week, it was revealed why the characters have been referred to by the Ranger colors and not character names. Originally, it had been reported that they would retain the civilian names used in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, but it now appears that they will have new names. The new names are as follows:

– Callum Oliver – The Red Ranger/Tyrannosaurus
– Priya Patel – The Pink Ranger/Pterodactyl
– Brian Olson – The Blue Ranger/Triceratops
– Oscar Fernandez – The Black Ranger/Mastodon
– Teyana Jones – The Yellow Ranger/Sabretooth Tiger

That’s four, count ’em, FOUR Rangers of color! Plus, I find it interesting that the Red Ranger’s last name is that same one as Tommy, the former Green/White/Red/Black Ranger. Also, the movie will now be called Saban’s Power Rangers. Yeah, that’s terrible. I can hear it now: “What the Hell is a Say-ban?!” I understand wanting to put your brand on something, but that’s just not the time or the place. The budget is reported to be around $35 million. The movie will be released in 2017.

On the music front, Adele released “Hello”, her first single since 2012’s “Skyfall”. The track did not disappoint, and the video broke Taylor Swift’s record for the most views (27.7 million, to be exact) in a 24-hour period. Her third album, 25, will be released next month, and she’ll also be the musical guest on the November 21st episode of Saturday Night Live.

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The biggest debut of the week, however, had to be CBS’s Supergirl. As the highest rated superhero premiere since 2000, and tying NBC’s Blindspot as the highest-rated debut of the season, everyone was talking about Kara Zor-El. I’ve heard nothing but great things about the show, and folks are very optimistic about its future. I didn’t see it, however. I already outlined my reasons why last week. Still, I’m glad to see it’s a success, as that can only mean more good things down the pipeline.

Links I Loved

Halloween Web – Kevin Hellions – AEIOU…and Sometimes Why

8 Mysterious Facts About Ghostwriter – Mental Floss

May The Force Friday Toys Be With You – The Nerds of Color

What Happens When Actors Leave High-School-TV Shows? – Vulture

Horror Month 2015, Day 20: Scream – The Robot’s Pajamas

This Swedish DJ Created the Template for Modern Pop. Why Have You Never Heard of Him? – Slate

A Wild Weekend In Florida – Storify

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Some folks will probably think this honor should’ve gone to Supergirl, but I just couldn’t do it. After all, I didn’t watch it, so I couldn’t really weigh in for myself. The hype was definitely there, but it didn’t quite make the cut for the *best* thing of the week. No, that credit goes to something that sort of came out of left field. Yes, I’m talking about Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. I think part of my surprise is due to the fact that I used to think nothing could save this show. I figured it would teeter along the line of mediocrity and somehow eke out about 3 or 4 seasons before Disney finally pulled the plug. Then, this season began. I mean, it actually started getting better after the Agent Carter break last winter, but it really got good this season. Focusing on the Inhumans – a race of aliens about whom I’ve never given a shit – I was preparing for the worst. Ugh, I’d be forced to continue watching this show because I’m a Marvel Zombie, and I don’t know how to quit anything. That’s what I was thinking, at least. And then, as I watched the episodes, I started to really get into the show. It’s come so far from what it was during its first season, and I almost can’t believe how good it’s gotten. The final proof, however, came during this week’s episode.

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At the end of last season’s finale, Agent Simmons was swallowed up by a Kree monolith and was presumed M.I.A. Well, this season we learned that the monolith was actually a portal to another planet. They spent the first couple of episodes this season trying to figure out how to get her back, and once they succeeded, something was noticeably wrong with her. This week’s episode finally showed us what happened to her during the 6 months that she’d been gone. It was an intimate episode with only 2 actors. Elizabeth Henstridge gave an amazing performance as a castaway trying to survive on an alien world. I won’t spoil the episode for anyone who hasn’t seen it, but it is, without a doubt, my favorite episode of the entire series. When you see it, you’ll see what I’m talking about. So, for blowing me away with how much it has improved, and for delivering one of the best hours of television I’ve seen in a long time, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. had the West Week Ever.

22nd Sep2015

Retro Con 2015 In Pictures

by Will

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

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

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

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

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

The Cosplay

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

Penelope Pitstop

Penelope Pitstop

 

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

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

 

The Toys

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

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My meager Retro Con haul

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

18th Sep2015

West Week Ever – 9/18/15

by Will

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Welcome to a mega-sized edition of West Week Ever! I’m sorry I took a week off, but I had a pretty serious toothache that had the whole right side of my face in pain. Now I know how Harvey Dent felt! Anyway, let’s get on with the show.

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So, last week we celebrated Labor Day, but I wasn’t around to talk about it. Did I do anything exciting? No. I did something kinda stupid. You see, at 1 AM Monday morning, it dawned on me that I was about 6 weeks behind on Mr. Robot. Everywhere I turned, people were posting thinkpieces about the show’s season finale, and I’d been trying to avoid that corner of the Internet until I caught up. So, what better time to get caught up, right? Ugh. Next thing I knew, the sun was coming up, and I had no idea what I had just watched. Don’t get me wrong – I love the show, but there’s just so much of it I don’t care about. Like, I didn’t care about the Steel Mountain heist, or the Dark Army or really any of the hacker shit. I liked when Elliott did the stuff on his own, but I could do without the fsociety Scooby Gang. No, the plot itself meant little to me compared to the characters. The characters like Elliott, Tyrell, and Mr. Robot himself kept me on my toes. You never knew what they’d do next, and that’s why I was tuning in. I don’t want to spoil anything for folks who haven’t finished the season, but I’m really curious to know where they’ll go next season. And that after credits scene! I mean, what show has an after credits scene? I’m still trying to figure out what that whole thing meant. Out of summer shows, I probably didn’t enjoy Mr. Robot as much as I did Wayward Pines, but it was a close second.

the splat

Rumor has it that 90s NickToons will be returning in the form of The Splat! For now, according to Entertainment Weekly, it has only been confirmed as a programming block, so it’s not clear if it will be its own standalone network, like Boomerang, or if it will just be a block of programming on an existing channel, like Adult Swim. I, for one, hate the name and the logo. It comes across like a porn zine made by a 14 year old. Anyway, I didn’t have cable in the 90s, so I don’t have any real love for those shows, but I know that a lot of y’all reading this are probably excited about it.

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It’s been a week of apologies, as folks are sorry for stupid shit left and right. First off, the week began with former Ms. America Vanessa Williams as a celebrity judge for this year’s pageant. For you young folks out there, Vanessa was the first Black Miss America – until Penthouse posted some old nude photos of her, and she was forced to relinquish her title. Vanessa bounced back from it all, becoming a singer, actress, blah, blah, blah. It’s like when you lose American Idol, but end up more famous than the winner. After all, who gives a shit about Suzette Charles, the runner-up who assumed Vanessa’s title after the scandal? Anyway, Vanessa saved the best for last, and ended up better off than she’d been. Well, during this week’s pageant, the Miss America Organization formally apologized to Vanessa for everything that had gone down…31 years ago. Wut? Why? And why now? Had this been the Miss USA Pageant, I’d get it, since they need to wash the Trump stench off of them, but this just seemed odd. I won’t say “too little, too late”, but it almost felt like they were drudging up stuff that everyone had pretty much moved on from. The whole thing just seemed odd, but Vanessa graciously accepted the apology, and is back in the Miss America fold. They still ain’t restoring her title, though.

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Meanwhile, The League star Steve Rannazzisi admitted that he’s been lying for 14 years that he survived the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center. The story he’d been telling was that he worked at Merrill Lynch on the 54th floor of the south tower. He’d said that he made it to the street just as the second plane hit his building. After surviving the attacks, he realized that life was precious and decided to pursue his dream of being an entertainer. Welp, the story he’d been telling for 14 years was finally debunked this week. It turns out he was actually working in Midtown that day, and Merrill Lynch had no offices in the World Trade Center. The interesting thing is that it seems like his wife was in on the lie. After all, part of his story is that his then-girlfriend, now-wife was also slated to work on the 24th floor of the south tower, but never made it to the building. It has since been reported, however, that she was actually temping at the nearby World Financial Center, but not in the tower. So, this whole thing seems like one giant Rannazzisi Family Secret that was finally exposed. It’ll be interesting to see what happens to his career, as things were just starting to happen for him. He’s the public face of Buffalo Wild Wings (who are currently reevaluating their relationship with him), and his new standup special, Breaking Dad, is scheduled to premiere on Comedy Central tomorrow night. Meanwhile, The League has filmed 11 of this season’s 13 episodes, and FX Networks is standing by him for the rest of the season. He’s not really a “name”, and more people know him from this scandal now than from his work. The question now is whether his career is over, or if people will give him a second chance.

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Speaking of second chances, remember Justine Sacco? If you don’t remember, her life was ruined back in 2013 by one tweet:

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That tweet went viral, and by the time she got off the plane in Africa, she had already been fired. She went on to write several articles about what she learned from the experience, and mainly she just wanted to get her life back. Well, it appears that she’s now that Director of Communications at FanDuel – ya know, that fantasy football site that claims you can win millions of dollars a week or something? Yeah, that one. It seems fitting, as those are exactly the kind of dude-bros who’d get a kick out of what she did. I guess she’s finally getting her life back, so Hulk Hogan and Steve Rannazzisi just have to sit tight and the same will happen for them.

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In the world of comics, it was revealed that Spider-Man’s former wife, Mary Jane Watson, will be a supporting character in the upcoming Invincible Iron Man series. Marvel won’t comment on what exactly her role will be, but they reminded us that Tony likes redheads. I’m not quite sure how I feel about this. I mean, the Marvel Universe is a shared universe, so it makes sense to have some supporting character crossovers. That said, she’s just such an iconic Spider-Man character, that I have a hard time accepting her in someone else’s world. I really hope she’s something like Tony’s personal assistant or something, as I’ve got too much love for Peter and Pepper to accept that their mates are pairing off.

jessica jones

In the TV corner of the Marvel Universe, it was revealed last week that Jessica Jones will debut on Netflix on November 20th – perfect for Thanksgiving bingewatching. If you’re not familiar with the character yet, she’s a former hero-turned-private investigator in the Marvel Universe. Eventually she marries Power Man, Luke Cage, and they have a daughter together. In the show, she will be going up against The Purple Man, which happened in the final arc of her comic series, Alias. Mike Colter’s Luke Cage will also appear before starring in his own series next year. As I’ve said before, I love Krysten Ritter, and I love this character, but I don’t love the idea of Krysten Ritter playing this character. The casting just seems all wrong to me, but I’ve got to learn to trust Marvel, so we’ll just have to see how it turns out.

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Just sit right back, and let Uncle Will tell you a tale. Some might say this story is about the Best Time Ever. You see, about a month ago, I applied to be on a game show. This isn’t necessarily new, as I’ve washed out of the Jeopardy test twice already. This particular game show, however, was an untested quantity. The show was new, so it was like getting in on the ground floor of something. I actually filled out the application on a whim, as one of my Twitter friends had mentioned that he was gonna do it. Mainly they wanted to know more about me and my pop culture knowledge. I had to give them links to instances of my online presence, and then I had to answer some questions. So, I spent a lot of the time talking about a cappella, Pitch Perfect, and working in comics. Ya know, stuff that’d make me seem “quirky”. Well, I guess it worked, as I received a call from “Sage”, who I assume was a production assistant on the show, within 24 hours. Damn, that was some fast turnaround! Unfortunately for me, I missed her call. So, I called her back, and left a message. We played phone tag for about a week and a half until her side gave up. One day, “Nicole” answered the phone and said that someone would call me back, but I knew that I had pretty much come to the end of the road.

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That show was Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris, which premiered Tuesday night on NBC. One of the stipulations of the application was that I wasn’t allowed to publicly say anything negative about NBC (which was especially hard since Mr. Robinson had just premiered. Ugh!). Since the show only has an 8-week trial run, and Sage was probably fired or has gone on to bigger things, I think I’m free to discuss things now.

So, did I dodge a bullet? I’m not quite sure yet. An American adaptation of The UK’s Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway, Best Time Ever was seen as the Return of the Variety Show Age of the 70s. As with all things, however, the concept had to be modernized and updated, and I’m not quite sure it worked. I know it was just the premiere, but the show was all over the place. A friend on Twitter said that it came off like a Japanese game show, and it certainly was that crazy. NPH went from stalking a newlywed couple to fake auditioning for The Voice to challenging Celebrity Guest Announcer Reese Witherspoon to some American Ninja Warrior-type of race – and he didn’t even let her win! That’s what most critics have been talking about: the fact that there’s almost too much focus on NPH himself. Based on the premiere, the title should be stylized as best time ever with NEIL PATRICK HARRIS.

Get Lucky

The part that I would’ve participated in was later in the show, in a segment called “Get Lucky”, where NPH calls someone out of the audience up on stage to answer trivia. It’s kinda like The Price Is Right, although I’m pretty sure that chick knew beforehand that she was being called. That was the weird thing about the application – they made it sound like being on the show was a given (I guess since they need an audience), but there was no guarantee that you’d get to play. This was made apparent by the fact that this woman was the lone contestant of the whole night. And what questions did he ask? Strangely enough, a lot of them pertained to NBC/Universal properties. That’s corporate synergy for ya. The chick did win a shitload of stuff, but there wasn’t even a lot of focus on the prizes once they had been won. I think they were running short on time, seeing as how it’s a live show.

At the end of the day, the ratings for the premiere were just OK. The real test, however, is going to be when the show moves to its 8 PM timeslot, where it’ll go up against CBS’s NCIS and ABC’s The Muppets. I think it’s gonna be a LONG 8 weeks. Am I sad about missing out? Kinda. I mean, it would’ve been cool to be on TV, and I knew all the answers to that trivia, so it would’ve been easy prizes. Still, instead of being the next Jeopardy, this show might merely end up as a footnote in game show history. I think that’s part of the problem – it doesn’t know if it wants to commit to being a variety show or a game show. I wasn’t born in the 70s, but from what I’ve seen, there wasn’t as much audience interaction in the variety shows of the past. Maybe that’s the problem here. Anyway, NPH did pull an awesome backflip off of a pogo stick, which was probably the highlight of the episode. I know that’s what I’ll remember.

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Speaking of television, last night I had the pleasure of joining Corey over on the UnderScoopFire Podcast, as we discussed the upcoming Falll television schedule. He’d recently written about which new shows he thought would be cancelled, as well as which he felt would get a second season, so we debated those lists. If you love television, and want to weigh in, check out the episode here.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

– Arnold Schwarzenegger was announced as the new host of Celebrity Apprentice. I hope he says “You-uh Fy-ud.”

– The Rock is having The Pebble, as Dwayne Johnson and girlfriend Lauren Hashian are expecting

– The G.I. Joe cartoon series debuted 30 years ago this week. Yo Joe!

– NBC is developing a gay reboot of the 80s series Hart to Hart

– Speaking of NBC, The Carmichael Show has been renewed for a second season

– Meanwhile, NBC is also developing a prequel to the Taken film series. I assume it’ll be called You ‘Bout To Get Took. I’m just playing. That’d be the BET version.

Pacific Rim 2 has been delayed indefinitely, possibly permanently. The first one’s still on my DVR…

– TNBC hit Hang Time debuted 20 years ago last week. I’m so friggin’ old…

– Rachel McAdams confirmed that she will be starring alongside Benedict Cumberbatch in Marvel’s Doctor Strange.

– Rumor has it that companion Jenna Coleman will be leaving Doctor Who later this year to star as Queen Victoria in an ITV series. Yay, British shit!

– Director Rupert Wyatt has exited the Gambit movie that nobody wants

-After 7 seasons, someone finally won American Ninja Warrior. Guess Americans just weren’t cut out for that whole “ninja” thing until recently. I blame meat hormones.

– Amazon announced a new $50 7″ Fire tablet, which will also be sold in 6-packs for the price of 5 ($250). Yes, they’re selling tablets like soda now, apparently.

 

Links I Loved

The Undertaker Needs to Retire. Right Now. – Complex

Terrence Howard Is a Bad Person Who Is Also Crazy – Defamer

5 Things You Learn When A Facebook Friend Dies – Cracked

The Caucasian’s Guide to Black Barbecues – Michael Harriot

10 New Fall Shows That Will Be Cancelled By Christmas – UnderScoopFire

10 New Fall Shows Guaranteed to Get a Second Season – UnderScoopFire

10 Rare Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Toys Part 2 – Crooked Ninja

6 Observations about The Late Show with Stephen Colbert – Nerd Lunch

U.S. Theme Parks with the Most Deaths – The Robot’s Pajamas

Forever Season 2: Find Out What Would’ve Become of Henry and Jo – TVLine

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What can I say about Ahmed Mohamed that you don’t already know? The 14 year old created a homemade digital clock, but was arrested for taking it to school, as it was suspected to be a bomb. Why? ‘Cause he’s brown and brown people apparently don’t just build clocks for shits and giggles. Once his story got out, it inspired the #IStandWithAhmed hashtag as people showed their support for the kid. But it didn’t stop there. All of a sudden, he started getting offers from everywhere from MIT to NASA, all encouraging him to continue building, and asking to meet him. Hell, even Ne-Yo got in on it:

neyoThat mixtape is gonna be FIRE!

BUT IT DIDN’T END THERE!

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HOLY SHIT! I don’t care how the week started for this kid, it ended in ways he could never have imagined. Or could he? Some folks out there think he knew what he was doing by putting the clock in a metal briefcase, but that’s really neither here nor there. All I know is that Ahmed Mohamed can now write his own ticket. His future is set. He might as well just start referring to himself as The Clock King. It’s a wrap. No human has been this synonymous with clocks since Flava Flav, and nobody was giving that dude space camp scholarships or shirts that have been in space. I don’t really feel like getting into the politics of it all, nor do I feel like this is gonna start any new dialogue on race, but I do know that Ahmed Mohamed, hands down, 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.

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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.

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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…

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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

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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.