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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oie_922142seDasWF9

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.

Vanessa-Williams

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.

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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

route 29 batman

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

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

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

07th Aug2015

West Week Ever – 8/7/15

by Will

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This week, Joel McHale confirmed what most of us already knew – that Community is over. He explained that Yahoo wanted another season for their Yahoo Screen portal, but they simply couldn’t afford the cast since their asking quotes  have gone up since the show began. Because of that stupid #sixseasonsandamovie thing, they’re still saying they’d like to do a movie. Honestly, I don’t even know what that would entail. How do you translate a sitcom into a theatrical feature? Has that been done before? I mean, it works the other way around. Movies get TV adaptations all the time, but not vice versa. I can’t think of a Community storyline that would even be worth a theatrical release. Keep in mind, I have the same reservations about an Arrested Development movie. Just let these things die, so they can be fondly remembered. Show creator Dan Harmon has said that he’d be interested in writing the script once he’s gotten to a place where he misses the characters. So, we’re at the whim of his sense of nostalgia.

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In other TV news, there were a lot of casting reveals for the DC shows on The CW. First up, Casper Crump has been cast as season one big bad Vandal Savage for Legends of Tomorrow. Also, Falk Henstchel has been cast as Hawkman in the series. Meanwhile, The Flash has cast Wally West, who will be played by Keiynan Lonsdale. I haven’t heard of any of these weird-named dudes. Lonsdale’s Australian, so he’s probably done a stint on Neighbours or something – that’s like a rite of passage down there. Anyway, a lot of people not familiar with DC’s New 52 reboot didn’t realize that the new Wally West is Black, so of course the usual complaints spread across social media: “Why make him Black when he’s always been White?” As my pal Tim would call it, #rabblerabble.

WallyWest

Even I’ll say that New 52 Wally seems like diversity solely for the sake of diversity. Then again, I guess his race never really had an impact on who he was, so he could be anything. The problem, however, is that Wally had quite the legacy. He’s one of the few heroes who replaced his mentor and it STUCK. Most of my generation grew up with a Wally West Flash and NOT a Barry Allen Flash. Barry was boring and DEAD by the time we started reading comics. So, to just randomly introduce him in the New 52 universe like, “Hey, here’s Wally – only he’s not the dude you remember, and he’s Black now” kinda seems disingenuous. My problem with introducing him on the show, however, is that it just seems too soon. They couldn’t wait for season 3? I mean, we’ve just gotten used to Barry, and we like him, so why dilute that with Kid Flash or whatever Wally’s going to become on the show? My biggest issue with the Greg Berlanti DC shows is that I fear he spreads himself too thin. Arrow was great until The Flash came along, and then it started to suffer creatively. This season, he’s adding Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow to the docket. One can only imagine what that’s going to do to The Flash, and I shudder to wonder how much lower Arrow can go.

photovisi-download(1)You know who almost had the West Week Ever? Hollywood divorce lawyers! This week alone saw the announcement of splits between Gavin Rossdale and Gwen Stefani, Reba McEntire and Narvel Blackstock, and Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy. Plus, the week kicked off with the annual, yet erroneous, announcement that Will and Jada were calling it quits. In the words of Carrie Underwood, “There must be something in the water.” The Gavin/Gwen split wasn’t a total surprise, as I recall hearing that things had been rocky ever since the paternity test revealed that he was the father of model Daisy Lowe. The Reba divorce is pretty sad, as they had been married for 26 years! That’s my biggest fear: to get old and divorced. Young divorce is fine, but divorce after you’re all used up? No siree, Bob! And I’m pretty sure that the Kermit and Piggy thing is just publicity for that The Office-inspired Muppets show coming to ABC this Fall. They break up all the time, so who really cares? I mean, they were broken up in Jason Segel’s The Muppets back in 2011. Did everyone just forget that? Anyway, I can’t even think of a celebrity couple I’m rooting for at this point. You’re just courting disappointment with that game.

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This week saw the Television Critics Association’s Summer press tour, where TV critics were introduced to the stars of the upcoming new network shows. Yesterday was Fox’s day, where three things happened. First off, it appears that critics were shown a clip from the X-Files reboot, and the consensus was not good. I’ve heard that it almost played like parody, and it wasn’t clear if that was the intention of the scene. Second, they announced that Prison Break was returning for a 10-episode event, similar to last year’s 24: Live Another Day miniseries. Apparently, the original stars are on board (interesting, since they’re both attached to Legends of Tomorrow, so I guess they’ll film this while they’re on break?), and some of the deaths from the original series seem like they’re being retconned in order to make this work. I watched the first episode of Prison Break, but I just couldn’t get on board for that series. I didn’t feel like it would last long enough for a resolution. I was wrong, but I still don’t feel like I missed out on anything. Finally, Fox also updated the status of bringing back 24. They said that Kiefer Sutherland isn’t interested in returning right now, so a new 24 would probably feature new characters. It’s just not 24 without Jack Bauer! If I wanted to watch an entirely new ensemble, I’d just tune into ABC’s Quantico (Sundays this Fall!).

xmen

Oh yeah, Fox also did something else: they confirmed plans for an television spinoff of the X-Men films. They said that they’re close to a deal, but they’re waiting to see if Marvel will approve it. Since Fox only owns the X-Men rights, don’t look for any crossovers with Daredevil or Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. The big question, though is what does Marvel get out of the deal? Right now, Fox has already lined up writers and showrunners, so this will happen sooner rather than later. I’m OK with this idea if they’re really allowed to run with it. Maybe focus on some mutants who don’t get any movie screentime. I mean, I’m pretty sick of the Xavier/Magneto dynamic. WE GET IT ALREADY! There are other characters. Hell, some of the X-Men’s best adventures occurred when Xavier wasn’t even around. I don’t see why they have to be in all the movies. I’m scared however, this will be some watered down thing, so as not to step on the toes of the film division. Remember what happened the last time we got a watered down X-Men television show? It was called Mutant X

LEGO_Avengers_Cover

The box art was revealed for this Winter’s LEGO Avengers. I have SO many comic-based LEGO games to get through, but I’m a sucker, so I’ll probably get this one, too. It helps that they’re releasing it on “older” systems like Xbox 360 and Playstation 3, as not all of us have graduated to the next generation. I really wish Rocksteady had done this with Batman: Arkham Knight. I mean, it kinda sucks that there’s a trilogy of games that can’t all be played on the same friggin’ system!

FF

*Sigh* So, I guess I’ve gotta talk about Fantastic Four, huh? The movie officially comes out today, but the review embargo was lifted on Wednesday and it wasn’t pretty. I’ve heard everything from that fact that it had a strong 2/3 but tanked the 3rd act to the whole thing was just a disaster. You know comic folk can be a passionate bunch, so I’m not really sure who to believe. I’ll see it, but I’m easy to please when it comes to comic book movies. To date, out of all the ones I’ve seen (no, I still haven’t seen Catwoman), I only hated Elektra and The Dark Knight Rises. I was actually fine with the two Fantastic Four films that we already got. It probably helps that I’ve never really liked the comic version of the team, so I didn’t have high expectations. Anyway, they say that this version borrows heavily from the Ultimate Fantastic Four comic, which should be a good thing, since I love the Ultimate Marvel Universe. Sadly, I found that book to be so boring that I still have about 20 issues I haven’t read, and the book’s been cancelled since 2009. Then, things took a real bad turn last night when the movie’s director, Josh Trank, tweeted this:

Trank

So, Trank’s basically blaming the studio. Not a great move from the guy who was pushed out of his Star Wars directing gig due to his erratic behavior. So far, the only hit he has under his belt is Chronicle, and I’m not sure how long he’s going to be able to coast on that. Is there any coming back from this? Is the movie so bad that it’ll sink his career?

No links this week, as I’m behind on my blogs, so let’s get to the meat and potatoes: Who had the West Week Ever?

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On Tuesday night, Conan O’Brien probably saw his biggest ratings since his move to cable. No, it wasn’t because of a guest, but rather the fact that the Deadpool trailer was slated to premiere during the episode. In fact, the episode’s rating was TV-MA because they would be showing the red band, not safe for work version of the trailer. Welp, once the trailer debuted, it seemed there was a huge divide between those who loved it and those who just weren’t feeling it. I fell into the latter camp.

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First, let me explain that I consider myself a Deadpool fan. I haven’t been there since his debut in X-Force, but I’ve been reading his book for the past 8 years or so. I’ve also gone back and read the older stuff, so I think I have a pretty good handle on the character. He’s not a top-tier character, so you might not be familiar with him. Deadpool is Wade Wilson, a mercenary who underwent an experimental procedure to cure his terminal cancer. As a result, he emerged with a healing factor, and it might’ve done something to his brain – making him think he’s a character in a comic book, and resulting in his breaking the 4th wall to interact with the reader. He’s like a cartoon character, and though violent, it tends to be a cartoony violence. Think Roadrunner cartoons. If you saw him, you’d probably ask “Why does Spider-Man have all those swords and machine guns?” That’s basically his look. He’s not someone to be taken seriously, especially in recent years where he’s been trying to be accepted by the hero community.

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So, imagine my surprise when they created a movie not about cartoony wacky Deadpool, but sadistically violent Deadpool. This is a far departure from the way he’s been presented in recent years. The violence and language are so amped up that it’s going to be rated R. So, all that said, I really don’t know who this movie is for. My main issue is the R-rating. While his video game was rated Mature, I think they’re cutting out a big swath of the potential audience by making it 17 and up. Parents like to take their kids to comic book movies. Not this one. Add in the fact that he’s not a hero. He’s a mercenary. He kills for money. He’s not saving the world, or fighting aliens. He kills mobsters for other mobsters. I don’t know if you’ve read the recent Deadpool book by Gerry Duggan, but Deadpool really doesn’t kill all that much anymore. He’s kinda gained a conscience, and even has a daughter. If you’re a fan of that Deadpool – ya know, the one currently making money for Marvel – this movie ain’t for you. My pal Carlin brought up the fact that Deadpool’s recently been featured in the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon, which his son loved. Unfortunately, this is not a movie that he’ll be able to share with his son.

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I’m not saying that a PG-13 rating would make the movie a success, but an R will certainly keep it from being one. There are only 2 R-rated comic book movies that have been successful: Blade and Kick-Ass. Blade’s success has more to do with folks’ love of vampires (and then-love of Wesley Snipes) than the character of Blade. And Kick-Ass was just a fluke, as seen by the failure of its sequel. Even Spawn, a movie about a soldier for THE DEVIL, managed to get a PG-13 rating when it probably should’ve been an R to be “faithful” to the source material. Marvel really needs to rethink how they want to allow Deadpool to be used. He can’t be their Mickey Mouse AND their Terminator. I think this movie is a thematic misfire, but we’ll just have to wait and see.

Anyway, everyone was talking about the trailer Wednesday morning, and it sparked some of the best online discussions I’ve had. So, for all of that, the Deadpool trailer had the West Week Ever.

31st Jul2015

West Week Ever – 7/31/15

by Will

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I swear, more effort went into the effects on that poster than in the entire movie itself. Anyway, after the hubbub died down for Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No, I found myself eagerly awaiting the premiere of Lavalantula. In the grand SyFy fashion of combining two terrible things into one big terrible thing, the movie saw the rise of giant tarantulas who spit lava. Oh, and you’ve got to throw in a hasbeen actor, so this one stars 80s hitmaker Steve Guttenberg. In fact, the movie was billed as “starring the cast of Police Academy“, which was pretty much a guaranteed watch. Then, while watching the movie, I was sadly reminded of how many of the Police Academy cast members are no longer with us. No Hightower or Tackleberry, and George Gaynes hasn’t acted since 2003. And there was no Bobcat Goldthwait. So, they might as well have said “Starring Michael Winslow’s sad sound effects, Callahan, and Officer Hooks”. So, how was it? TERRIBLE. Not even good by SyFy standards. Was there ever a time when Winslow’s sound effects were GOOD? I seem to remember a time like that, but they just seem so bad now. And the special effects were horrible, as they couldn’t even properly render a hole in the ground from which the lavalantulas emerged. Plus, it just seemed to lack the…charm of Sharknado, and I found myself bored pretty quickly. Sure, there was a surprisingly fit Nia Peeples running around in a sports bra and yoga pants, but that wasn’t even enough to save the movie. Apparently, SyFy wants Lavalantula to be its next big franchise, a la Sharknado, but they’re going to need to take more notes from that more successful series before cranking out another Lavalantula.

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On Saturday, Lindsay and I took in a matinee of The Book of Mormon. I went into this play knowing nothing about it other than it was “from the creators of South Park“. I’d seen the Mormon episode of South Park, but had they really turned that into a musical? Not exactly. For those who also don’t know much about the show, here you go: two young Mormons are sent to Uganda for their mission trip, and hilarity ensues. One of them is the “model Mormon”, while the other has a wild imagination and likes to make up stories. The promising one kinda washes out early, but the villagers become captivated by the imaginative one’s stories, and he leads them to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. It’s blasphemously hilarious. Or hilariously blasphemous. I was talking to an LDS friend online, and he said something that I kinda agree with: the show, as disrespectful to organized religion as it can be at times, still seems to have a strange sort of respect for the Mormon religion. I’d been really curious to know how an actual Mormon would feel about the show, and he said that the lefty ones wouldn’t have a problem with it, but the more conservative ones would. I honestly think that goes for all religious audience members. I could never take my mother to see it (and she’s not LDS), but I know religious folks who would enjoy it. Anyway, if you want to know how Joseph Smith and Boba Fett led the Mormons to Salt Lake City, then I definitely recommend you check out this show.

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Speaking of Boba Fett, there’s a rumor that the long-awaited live action Star Wars television series may finally be surfacing at Netflix. This has been in the works since long before Disney bought the franchise, so I’m not even sure what it would encompass at this point. Right now, the rumor is that Disney may be working on as many as THREE different Star Wars series for Netflix. I know that makes some of you happy out there.

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I got my first celebrity follow! Yes, as of last night, I’m the proud followee (?) of WWE Superstar Dean Ambrose. The whole thing is funny to me because it’s not like I’ve been especially kind to him lately. Over the course of the week, I posted the following tweets:

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Well, then I did some Catfish-style detective work, and figured out that it’s just a parody account *sad trombone*. No, the lack of the verified checkmark isn’t the tip-off, as his actual account @TheDeanAmbrose doesn’t have one either. I wanted to think he had a sense of humor about himself, but it was really just someone, as the Brits say, “taking the piss”. I’ll get my celebrity follower one day!

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In movie news, New Line Cinema wants to reboot the Shaft franchise, with “comedic elements” from Black-ish creator Kenya Barris. Well, this thoroughly pissed off writer David F. Walker who, not only wrote the recent Shaft comic for Dynamite Entertainment, but also wrote the first licensed Shaft novel in 40 years. I like David. I did a podcast with David. He’s a passionate guy. That said, I think that, at the end of the day, John Shaft is a licensed character. Just because you’re given a shot at him does not mean that you own him. David compares a comedic Shaft to Black Dynamite, noting that movie didn’t even make $1 million in theaters. He implies that’s a clear indication that audiences don’t want parodied Blaxploitation, but I don’t think that’s a fair comparison. After all, Black Dynamite only had a limited release in 70 theaters, for a 2-week stint. Most people found it on video, and it developed a cult following that resulted in 2 seasons of an animated series on Adult Swim. I liken this to the backlash against the upcoming female Ghostbusters. I wouldn’t mind a comedic Shaft, and I don’t think it would hurt the source material for it to deviate in tone. Those original movies would still exist. Anyway, David’s star is rising, as he’s the also the writer of DC’s recently-launched Cyborg series, so folks are definitely listening. Whether or not his pleas are going to matter remains to be seen.

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In other movie news, another unwanted movie may be in trouble. Channing Tatum’s Gambit movie is reportedly falling apart, with it rumored that Tatum has walked away from the film. This is unfortunate because he’s the only one who even wanted the movie to get made. Well, him and creators Chris Claremont and Jim Lee – who were bound to get some kind of royalties when the movie was made. This is just an example of wrong place, wrong time. NOBODY wants a Gambit movie, and he’s not even prominently featured in any comics at the moment. Had they struck while the iron was hot, the movie would’ve been made immediately following X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Sure, it probably would’ve been a steaming pile of shit, but at least the character was on folks’ radar, and Taylor Kitsch might still have some semblance of a career.

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This will only appeal to folks in the DC/Florida area, but I have been OBSESSED with the drama surrounding local, yet syndicated, radio DJ Kane. So on last Friday morning’s show, Kane broke down crying at the end and announced that he and his wife were getting a divorce. According to him, he came home one day about 3 months ago, and found that she hadn’t paid the bills in about 4 months. She had also taken the kids to Florida and drained the bank accounts. You can’t hear it now because Clear Channel scrubbed it from the show’s podcast.

Meanwhile, Kane’s old co-host Sarah Fraser is now his rival over at 107.3. When she heard about everything, she sided with Kane’s ex and tweeted #karmabeabitch. She claims that Kane was fake and manipulative, which is why she had to leave his show in the first place.

Also, Kane was diagnosed with severe OCD recently, as he and the wife were on the local news talking about it. It had put a strain on the marriage, but now folks are wondering if he had been controlling and abusive, as Natasha’s actions are similar to what a battered wife would do. After all, it seems she had been transferring all the money to gift cards, so he coukdnt track her purchases, and a relative from Florida had even flown up to help her “escape”.

Basically, Kane threw her under the bus, on air, but then tried some lame damage control, saying that he didn’t want folks to say anything bad about Natasha – knowing that folks would hate her after everything he said. It was just really petty that Sarah got involved, as she’s been gone from the show for 3 years, but is still clearly harboring resentment. She had to take to her site and clarify her tweet, as her fans turned on her said she was being petty.

In related news, Kane had kinda been bullying Sarah and her show, as someone on Kane’s team had messed with Sarah’s show’s SEO stats. If you googled any of the folks on that show, it would redirect to “diarrhea” or “failure”. At the time of writing this post, I have combed through 108 pages of mommy blogs to get all this. I’m so ashamed of myself…

I was gonna rant some about Hulk Hogan and Cecil the Lion, but I’m kinda over that shit by now. If you really care, check out my Twitter feed. Otherwise, I’m just gonna let that stuff go.

Links I Loved

Day 61: My name is Tim. And I have a problem. – Flashlights Are Something To Eat

Religion of a Different Color: Race and the Mormon Struggle for Whiteness – Modern Mormon Men

The Worst Decisions of Cartoon Hero Leaders – The Robot’s Pajamas

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This was NOT a great week for geek stuff. Lots of controversial stuff, but no real geek stuff. So, the real beacon of pop culture was the season premiere of Rick and Morty on Adult Swim. It’s a hilarious show by Dan Harmon (the creator of Community), following the adventures of 14 year-old Morty and his alcoholic scientist of a grandfather, Rick. They tend to travel interdimensionally, getting into all sorts of trouble. In last season’s finale, they stopped time just before Morty’s parents got home, so that he and his sister could clean up from the massive party they’d had in the parents’ absence. Well, In the season premiere, we learn that time has been frozen for about 6 months, and now it’s essentially broken. Rick inadvertently creates several parallel timelines, and has to merged them before time becomes more fractured. Ya know, it wasn’t my favorite episode of the show, but I did like the commitment to starting exactly where things had left off. It’s a funny show, regardless, and I look forward to seeing what the season holds. So, for being the shining star in a week full of crap, Rick and Morty had the West Week Ever.

17th Jul2015

West Week Ever – 7/17/15

by Will

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It’s been so long since I’ve done one of these that I’m gonna have to kick the dust off everything. Basically, brace yourself for a whole lot of “This Is What Will’s Been Watching”.

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A few years ago, I read Shopgirl, by Steve Martin (Yep, that Steve Martin). I remember it because we had lost power due to an intense heat wave, and I really had nothing else to do. Plus, as a novella, it was short. I remembered enjoying it, but feeling that it was a bit of a sad story. So, last week, when I saw that the movie was on (also starring Steve Martin), I thought, “Well, I remember liking this. Let’s watch!” I have to say that I don’t remember reading most of what was in that movie. I’m not sure if there was that much of a departure, or if my memory is just that bad. I watched that thing like I had never even encountered the story before, as everything felt new to me.

If you’ve never heard of Shopgirl before, it’s about a girl who works in a department store (Claire Danes), who begins an affair with one of her customers (Martin). He’s not looking for love, but she is. Meanwhile, Jason Schwartzman is there, being Jason Schwartzman – trying to get Danes to notice him. It’s a typical love triangle, and ends like you’d expect. Would I recommend it? Um, sure? I dunno. I seem to say this a lot, but there are worse ways to kill 90 minutes. If you’ve ever wanted to see Claire Danes’s ass, this is the film for you. Other than that, I’m not sure I like Steve Martin in a dramatic role. I know everyone’s doing it, from Robin Williams (RIP) to Bill Murray, and he’s certainly capable at it. I just prefer the Steve Martin who “was born a poor Black child.”

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The next movie I watched was the unnecessary sequel, Horrible Bosses 2. I enjoyed the first movie, as it has a likable cast. Bateman, Sudeikis, and Day? Hilarious! Throw in Jamie Foxx as “Motherfucker” Jones, the ex-con who’s gonna help the guys do in their overbearing bosses? Priceless! I can understand the desire to get the band back together, but there was no real reason for a sequel. The plot is really flimsy, and the antagonist isn’t even technically their “boss”, so the title is a misnomer. This time around, the guys have invented a product to revolutionize the way people take showers, when their investor decides to screw them over by forcing them into foreclosure and taking the product for himself. So, to get back at him, they decide to kidnap his son and ransom him to get back the money they need to pay off their loan. Only the son WANTS to be kidnapped, to stick it to his dad. And then I just stopped paying attention. It got way too convoluted for a comedy. This ain’t Oceans 11! Do not watch!

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On the TV front, there are a couple of new shows I’ve been checking out. First up is HUMANS, on AMC. In the near future, people can buy “Synths” – synthetic humans designed to make their owners’ lives easier. The duties performed by the Synths range from cooking and cleaning to more…sensual matters. The show really sort of focuses on how people react to having the Synths in their lives. Meanwhile, there seems to be a group of Synths who have gained autonomy, and they’re being hunted down because of what they might mean for the future of Synths and humanity. It’s a really interesting show, and if you’ve watched any British shows in recent years (it’s a joint venture between England’s Channel 4 and AMC), you’ll recognize some of the actors – like Katherine Parkinson, from The IT Crowd. It’s an 8-episode season, and AMC has only shown the first 3 episodes so far, so it’s not too late to jump in.

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Meanwhile on USA, I’m watching Mr. Robot. It’s a show about a hacker who gets recruited by a hacker collective known as f society, who plan to take down an evil corporation. To be perfectly honest, the whole take down plot is completely lost on me, but I enjoy the show because I like the characters. I haven’t watched a show with such a morally-ambiguous cast since Nip/Tuck. Now, I didn’t end up finishing that show, as boredom eventually kicked in (some cable network should really be showing reruns of that show. Get on that, somebody!). I hope the same thing doesn’t happen here, as I could feel boredom creeping in during this week’s episode. I’ll still watch for now, though, as the lead looks like SNL‘s Pete Davidson, so it’s fun to imagine that the show is just a really long, elaborate sketch.

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Over on Bravo, I fell in love with the scripted comedy Odd Mom Out. Starring Jill Kargman (and based on her 2007 novel Momzillas), the show focuses on a fictionalized version of Kargman as she has to navigate the excess and affluence of New York’s Upper East Side. When I first watched the show, I thought that everyone sucked at life. Then, I realized you had to get into the mindset of the show. The primary Bravo audience is tuning in for Real Housewives shows, so how would they receive the show? Now that I’ve seen the 6 episodes that have aired so far this season, I love the show. Kargman has this cool vibe to her where I’d really love to be best friends with her. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that she always favorites my tweets when I write about the show. Abby Elliott costars as Jill’s sister-in-law, while The Office‘s David Wallace (Andy Buckley) plays Jill’s husband. It’s not for everyone – especially not the geek crowd that tends to read this post every week – but I think a few of you out there may really enjoy it.

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Finally, over on Fox, I discovered Wayward Pines. I originally meant to watch this show back when I wrote my Fox Upfronts post last year. Then, it debuted and I just kinda forgot about it. Well, I started watching it Monday night and ended up watching the first 5 episodes in one night. I thought it would just be a Twin Peaks ripoff, but it’s so much more, and it’s SOO GOOOD! Matt Dillon wakes up after a car accident and finds himself in a small Idaho town, called Wayward Pines. The townsfolk seem to be filled with fear, hidden behind forced smiles, and everyone’s under surveillance. Dillon tries to leave the town, but finds that he can’t because it’s walled off from the rest of the world. And that’s when shit REALLY gets weird. In Episode 5, you learn the truth about the town, and it will BLOW. YOUR. MIND. The show is executive produced by M. Night Shyamalan, so you really shouldn’t be surprised that there’s a twist. Still, Shymalan’s career has taken a beating in recent years, which is probably why they’re trying to downplay his involvement here. It’s a shame, because this could be seen as his comeback vehicle. The series finale is next Thursday, and I’m filled with questions. Also, I’m kinda surprised that Fox is sticking to this being a one-time limited series, since it seems to be a summer hit. I just can’t imagine they wouldn’t try to somehow develop a second season out of it. Anyway, you’ve got a week to catch up On Demand, so you can watch the finale along with me.

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Yesterday on social media, everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) made the same Ivan Ooze joke about the depiction of Apocalypse in the next X-Men movie (I didn’t even know that many people had seen Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie!). It does, however, lead back to an apprehension I’ve had since the X-Men movie franchise began. While it’s nowhere near as grounded as something like the Netflix Daredevil series, the X-Men movies have been grounded enough in their own version of reality that it was going to be hard to shift into some of the more “exotic” villains like Apocalypse and Mr. Sinister. Based on the world that Bryan Singer created, there would never be an option to go against something like Mojo or The Brood. Luckily for them, they’ve wasted all their movies telling yet another iteration of the Xavier vs. Magneto sparring match. I just think there’s a wealth of characters that could be mined for an X-Men film, but they painted themselves into a corner. Now, they finally decide to go for one of the more outlandish X-Men villains, and this is how it’s received. Apocalypse just doesn’t fit in the world that they’ve crafted. Let’s hope he looks better when they slather him with effects.

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Speaking of comic book movies, the trailers for 3 anticipated films debuted last weekend at San Diego Comic-Con. These included the latest one for Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, as well as Suicide Squad, and Deadpool. Of course, bootleg versions of the latter two leaked online, as these things are wont to do, and Warner Bros were none too happy about it. They decided to officially release the Suicide Squad trailer, but only because their hand had been forced by “piracy”. And they made sure to address this while releasing the clip. Fans contrasted this with Marvel’s reaction to leaked Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer, where the company simply tweeted a jocular “Dammit, HYDRA!” Basically, the tone of the Warner Bros message was basically “We had no intention of showing this to you, but thanks to a few bad apples, we decided to show you the trailer as it was originally intended, and not in the low quality version that’s making the rounds.” They seemed to think they were getting in front of the issue, but seemed like such a bunch of crotchety old fogies while doing so.

Anyway, my thoughts on the trailers:

Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice – I’m no more excited about this movie than I was before. That’s to say, I’m really not excited about it. At all. I don’t really like the Snyderverse, as I didn’t hate Man of Steel, but I didn’t love it, either. I’m also not sure about Affleck’s Batman. I saw Man of Steel On Demand, and that just might be the case here. The only reason I’d see it in theaters is because Batman’s in it, but I’m not sure this is my Batman.

Suicide Squad – Again, not very excited. I’ve seen people losing their shit, talking about how awesome it looks. I’m happy for them, but I don’t share that sentiment. I can’t get out of my head how someone said that the promotional image of the team made them look like those Homies figures you get out of vending machines. That was SPOT ON! I’m not a big Will Smith fan, I don’t really like this version of Harley, and I don’t even know what to think of Leto’s Joker. Again, the only thing that might get me to see this in theaters is the fact that Batman’s in it.

Deadpool – looks fun, but Ryan Reynolds is box office poison right now. He’s got a string of flops behind him, from Green Lantern to R.I.P.D. to Self/Less. I’ve been a fan since Two Guys, A Girl, and A Pizza Place, but times are not great for him lately. Reynolds aside, I think the biggest problem is the R-rating. I’ve said it before, but I don’t see anything about Deadpool that deserves an R-rated movie. His comic isn’t a MAX title, so it’s not Mature Readers. That means there’s no sex and no cursing. While it could be pretty violent, it’s a cartoon violence, and nothing on par with, say, Punisher. I think they’re really cutting out a big chunk of their potential audience by making it rated R, as parents like to take their kids to superhero movies. The only 2 R-rated comic movies that have been successful are Blade and Kick-Ass. I still say that Blade did well because it drew in the vampire fans moreso than the comic people (Comic fans don’t really love Blade, as he’s never had a series to last more than 13 issues). I got nothing for Kick-Ass. Also, people will debate me on this, but I don’t think Deadpool’s a household name. Sure, comic fans know who he is, but if you showed him to the man on the street, he’d ask “How come Spider-Man has swords now?” I guess we’ll just have to wait and see how this all turns out. Don’t get me wrong – I WANT it to be a hit, but I’m just skeptical right now.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

– 50 Cent filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Where’d all that Vitamin Water money go?

– Brandy sang on the New York subway, and was shocked when nobody gave a shit

– I watched the ending to Batman: Arkham Knight on YouTube (way to not release it on the 360, Rocksteady!) THAT’s how you tell a Final Batman Story!

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My pals, Zac and Adam, co-host the No Topic Required podcast, and this week’s episode was very special, as it was the FINAL episode. Luckily, I was invited to take part, and it was a pretty fun time. I’m always sad to see one of my favorite podcasts go (looking at you, Cold Slither Podcast), but I’m sure that Zac will be back with something new once he recharges his batteries. In any case, you should go give the episode a listen!

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You know what didn’t have the West Week Ever? San Diego Comic-Con. Usually an informational mecca for the pop culture set, nothing really came out of there this year, outside the trailers I already mentioned. Marvel and Image had already revealed their big plans, so it was really DC’s con to lose. And lose they did. They announced the Milestone characters would be returning as Earth-M in the Multiverse (meh), Adam Kubert and Klaus Janson would be the artists for Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight III: The Master Race (meh), and Ben Affleck and Geoff Johns would be teaming up for a standalone Batman film (I’m listening…).

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Since I skipped 2 weeks, and left you all without a true WWE in that post, I didn’t want to come back and say that nobody had the West Week Ever. So, you know what had it? Go Set A Watchman, by Harper Lee.

Have I read it? Nope. Have I heard good things about it? Nope. In fact, it’s probably just a cash grab, resulting from Lee’s manipulating caregivers. Still, its release this week is pretty important to the literary world, as it’s the sequel that no one thought they’d ever see. It’s the Ghostbusters 3, Who Discovered Roger Rabbit?, and Goonies II of literature. And that’s gotta count for something, right? I mean, Lee retreated from the fame generated from the release of To Kill A Mockingbird, and vowed to never release another book. Yet, here it is. It almost doesn’t even matter if it’s good or not. The most important thing is that it exists. And as of this past Tuesday, you can own it and read it for yourself. I definitely plan to read it, so I’ll share my thoughts once I do, but for now, Go Set A Watchman had the West Week Ever.

26th Jun2015

West Week Ever – 6/26/15

by Will

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

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

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

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

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

Photographer Dennis Stylist Lin

Photographer Dennis
Stylist Lin

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

dustin-diamond

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

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

General-Lee

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

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

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

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

Links I Loved

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

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

Why I Left Scientology – Gawker

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

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

ctu27

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

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

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

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

12th Jun2015

West Week Ever – 6/12/15

by Will

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I watched a LOT of stuff this week, so let’s get to it!

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First on the docket was a documentary on Netflix called Hot Girls Wanted, about the “professional amateurs” or “pro-ams” of the porn industry. You know those sites like Bang Bus, where they pick up random girls off the street? Those aren’t really strangers! No, they’re newcomers to the industry who pretend to be randos. I’m shocked and appalled! Anyway, since California passed laws requiring condoms in pornography, a lot of the industry picked up and moved to Miami. The film follows a handful of girls who simply answered an ad on Craigslist, offering a free trip to Miami for some modeling work. It was really fascinating, as a lot of the girls answer the ad as they see it as the only way to get out of their podunk towns. You also get to meet the family of one of the girls, as she confesses to what she’s been doing in Miami. It’s cringe-inducing when, after her mom asks if she’s worried about getting pregnant, she explains that the guys finish on her and not in her. Yes, to her mother! Since the average career lifespan of a pro-am is about 6 months, most of the girls have left the industry by the time the film ends, and they’re back in those podunk towns, waiting tables or going to school. I learned a lot from this documentary, which was surprisingly produced by Rashida Jones. And for you puritans out there, it’s about porn, but they don’t really show anything, so don’t be afraid to check it out.

Jersey Boys Quad jpg

Next up, I watched Jersey Boys, which was nowhere near as interesting as I thought it’d be. Based on the Tony Award-winning musical of the same name, Jersey Boys follows the rise and fall of ’60s group Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons. Seeing as how I come from the school of The Temptations and The Five Heartbeats, I was expecting something juicy along those lines. The problem, however, is that there’s nothing inherently interesting about Frankie Valli. All of the action happens around him, but doesn’t really concern him. If anything, the real star of the movie is group founder Tommy DeVito, as he’s the one who keeps the action going. Plus, the movie included my least favorite part of the biopic: when they age up the young actors with really bad makeup to make them look like the current old versions of the characters. I swear, Frankie Valli’s old man makeup was so bad that he looked like a zombie. The interesting thing to me is that the Frankie from the Broadway show, John Lloyd Young, reprised his role in the movie, however I didn’t feel like he brought much to the role.

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Then, I watched John Wick or, as I like to call it, Headshots For Everyone! Oh my God, this was an amazing movie. I’ve never been what you might call a Keanu Reeves “fan”, but I never disliked him. Nope, not even The Matrix made me board the Keanu bandwagon. After watching this movie, however, I’m a fan. This movie makes Taken look like an Afterschool Special. When the Russian mob kills his dog – a final gift from his deceased wife – retired hitman John Wick goes on a killing spree to get his revenge. It’s such a beautifully shot film, with an excellent soundtrack. I’d heard people raving over the film when it came out, but I never really thought it’d be my cup of tea. The more I heard, however, the more curious I got. Luckily, Lionsgate sees John Wick as a franchise, and a second movie is on the way. I can’t wait!

whiplash

Finally, I watched Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons in Whiplash. I’ve been wanting to watch this since awards season, but I had no idea just what I was getting myself into. This movie is INTENSE, but excellent. I mentioned a few weeks back that Teller was growing on me, and this movie just sealed the deal. He was spectacular in his role as a first-year student at a music conservatory, determined to become one of the great jazz drummers. Simmons was similarly amazing, as the offensive and abusive band conductor who could make or break Teller’s career. The energy between the two actors is electrifying, and I found myself on the edge of my seat for most of the movie. Who knew a film about jazz could do that to a person? You should definitely see this movie.

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So, this week, Marvel revealed that Iron Man is essentially going to be their flagship character following the events of Secret Wars. Launching out of the event will be a new Invincible Iron Man series, written by Brian Michael Bendis and drawn by David Marquez. Taking place 8 months after the end of Secret Wars, this Tony Stark isn’t as rich as he used to be, so he’s no longer funding the Avengers. However, he’s got a new armor that can become all of his other armors, and he’ll have a new supporting cast. While Bendis has written Tony as part of other books, such as New Avengers and Ultimate Spider-Man, this is the first time he’ll be taking a crack at him in his own title. In Kieron Gillen’s run on the character, he revealed that Tony Stark was adopted, so one big mystery during Bendis’s run will be “Who are Tony Stark’s biological parents?” I remember hearing about the adoption storyline, and thought it was kinda contrived, but Bendis seems to think he can do something with it, and I generally trust him. That said, this announcement makes me worry about Miles Morales, as I hope it doesn’t mean that Bendis is moving on from the character. I mean, in order for him to grow, Miles will need to be handled by other creators, with diverse voices, but there’s something to be said for being handled by your creator. I hope Bendis has the bandwidth to handle both characters.

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Speaking of Marvel, it was announced that Jon Bernthal will be joining the Netflix Daredevil series next season, as Frank Castle, AKA The Punisher. Bernthal’s last big role was as Shane on The Walking Dead, but I’ve never watched an episode of that show, so I can’t really say anything about his performance. I do remember him as part of CBS’s The Class, with Lizzy Caplan and Jesse Tyler Ferguson. That show was a comedy, and he was kind of a meathead on there, but I think he’s got the look. The Walking Dead fans seemed to be pumped, so I guess this was great casting on Marvel’s part.

Jessica Jones

Meanwhile in the Marvel Netflixverse, A.K.A. Jessica Jones has dropped the A.K.A. It’s probably for the best, as the original title was kinda stupid. Still, I’m sure a lot of folks are wondering “Who’s Jessica Jones and why should we care about her?”, but they were asking that regardless of what the show was called.

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It was announced this week that 90s CGI cartoon Reboot would be returning for 26 episodes, and the fans rejoiced. Seriously, people have been begging for a Reboot…reboot for years, so I guess they can chill for now. I, however, never watched more than one episode of that show. I HATE mid-90s CG, and that show just reeked of it. If anyone watched this season of Community, Reboot looked like the virtual reality machine that Elroy sold Greendale. Anyway, technology has come a long way in the last 20 years, and if they’re truly starting back at 0, then I might give this new iteration a chance.

the-simpsons

Speaking of cartoons, there was uproar this week as two tidbits were released regarding the next season of The Simpsons. First of all, Sideshow Bob would finally kill Bart in the next Treehouse of Horror Halloween episode. That’s not really a big deal, since those thing are practically dream episodes and nothing in them matters anyway. Second, it was announced that Homer and Marge would undergo a legal separation next season. Since this is likely just the plot of one episode, it’s not like this is something that’s gonna stick (R.I.P. Maude Flanders). After almost 30 years on the air, it’s hard coming up with “fresh” ideas. A lot of folks are saying that these plots show it’s time for the show to pack it in, but it’s got people talking about an ancient show, so there’s no such thing as bad publicity.

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Is this woman White or Black? That, my friends, is the question that fired up social media last night. The woman pictured is Rachel Dolezal, an activist and Africana studies professor from Washington state. According to her White parents, however, she has been passing herself off as Black for years. Turns out she’s just been doing her best George Hamilton/Tom Jones impression, and she’s not really Black – even though she’s the president of the Spokane, Washington chapter of the NAACP. You can read more about it here (I typically hate Buzzfeed, but they have the most comprehensive timeline of the whole thing), but her parents have put her on BLAST for some reason. If you met her, what would you think she is?

Dolezal

I’m just fascinated by the whole thing. If it’s true, wasn’t she scared of being found out eventually? What was it like, day in, and day out, wondering “Is today the day?” I’m always kinda impressed by people who manage to lead double lives, so this kinda goes in that pile. Is the story true? I guess time will tell, but the Twitter Sleuths are on the case.

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I had the pleasure of joining Corey and Howie over on the UnderScoopFire Podcast last week, and the episode is now live. We discussed the up and coming television stars who are on the verge of making The Leap to the big screen. Did your favorite star make the cut? Hint: if they star on The CW, they probably did.

While we’re talking about me, I had an interesting week. First of all, I got my first cease & desist letter, from Lionsgate. If you remember, a few weeks back, I posted some concept art that may or may not be of the zords from the upcoming Power Rangers movie. A lot of sites  had been asked to take the pics down, so I surmised I might be asked to do the same, should I ever end up on their radar. Well, I’m small potatoes, and that didn’t happen. So, the other day, I tweeted this:

Lionsgate

Well, some Lionsgate intern clearly has a filter for their name on Tweetdeck, and caught that conversation. How do I know this? Not 3 hours after this conversation, I received an email from Lionsgate’s legal representation, with a whole bunch of gobbledegook about unauthorized usage of concept art, blah, blah, blah. They “request [my] assistance in the removal of the aforementioned artwork from [my] website.” OK. I’ll get around to it eventually. I’d just like to point out that I did your work for you, Lionsgate. Like I said, I’m small potatoes, but you gave me something to check off the vision board, so I thank you.

Reanimator

Next up, I got to appear in my third comic book this week (the others being Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash and Zombie Proof), as my good friend, Keith Davidsen, is currently writing a Reanimator series for Dynamite Entertainment. Going into this, I knew NOTHING about the Reanimator movies and Dr. Herbert West, but the series is accessible enough that none of that matters. Anyway, Keith did me a solid by writing me into issue #3 (which shipped Wednesday) – where I’m brutally murdered. The likeness isn’t all that sharp, but apparently I own a hardware store and I give great customer service. R.I.P., Comic Will. The overall story’s great, and it’s been getting good reviews. You can still pick up issues 1 & 2 at your local comic shop and, like I said, #3 – with my death – came out this week.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

Degrassi, just cancelled by TeenNick, has been renewed by Netflix. It will return in 2016 as Degrassi: Next Class

Pitch Perfect 3 is officially happening

According to TVLine, Fuller House will feature Danny Tanner’s younger, BLACK wife! YES, Y’ALL! Apparently, they’re currently casting for an “attractive, vivacious, and youthful” actress to protray Danny’s 40 year old wife.

-Chris Hemsworth has been cast as the receptionist in Paul Feig’s female Ghostbusters film

-Raven-Symone has officially joined The View as a permanent co-host

-Chiwetel Ejiofor, or as I like to call him Chitlin Ejector, has been cast as Baron Mordo in the Doctor Strange film

Links I Loved

Remembering Mary Ellen Trainor – UnderScoopFire

G.I. Joe’s Dumb Policies on Facial Hair – The Robot’s Pajamas

In 1991, I Turned Our Shed Into A Clubhouse. – Dinosaur Dracula

Check out Sales to Astonish. – Team Hellions

All-New, All-Different Marvel Creative Team Fantasy Booking – The Kliqnation

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So, Batman #41 came out this week, with Commissioner James Gordon as the new guy in the Batsuit. I’m still not entirely sold on the idea, but I’m curious to see where it goes. They’re going for a Team Batman approach, as he has a tactical team up in some kind of Bat Blimp that helps him out. Also, in Detective Comics #41, Detective Renee Montoya made her post-New 52 debut. Is she The Question? Is she still a lesbian? We’ll have to wait for answers to all of these questions. Still, as interesting as these books were, none of them knocked my socks off. In fact, nothing really blew me away this week, so I’m sorry to announce that no one had the West Week Ever. Try harder next week, America!

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