14th Sep2018

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 9/14/18

by Will

HarassmentWatch(TM) 

SO MUCH HARASSMENT THIS WEEK! Usually, these things are kinda like footnotes to the week, but the shit really hit the fan this week.

Jeff Fager: The longtime 60 Minutes executive producer was ousted, as he didn’t think before sending that angry text. You’ve always got to count to 10 – unless it says “You up?”, and it’s after midnight. Then you go handle your shit. No, here’s what happened: it was reported that Fager liked to touch and grope CBS employees at company parties. When this news broke, he was displeased with how his own network was reporting the investigation into his behavior. So, he fired off a text to CBS News correspondent Jericka Duncan, which was capped off with “Be careful. There are people who lost their jobs trying to harm me and if you pass on these damaging claims without your own reporting to back them up that will become a serious problem.” So, Fager wasn’t fired because of the claims against him. No, he was fired because of his reaction to the claims against him. I think it’s Stephen Covey who promotes the 10/90 Principle, in that life is really just 10% of things you can control, and 90% of how you react to the things you can’t. Guess Fager should’ve read that book.

Les Moonves Update: Man, it was an executive bloodbath over at CBS this week, as Moonves stepped down as Chairman of CBS when the original count of 6 women with claims against him doubled to 12. After resigning, he released a statement denying the allegations, as folks are wont to do in his predicament. If It’s A Wonderful Life taught us anything, it’s that rich people, even when evil, still tend to finish the game rich. That’s exactly what’s happening here, as Moonves is set to receive a severance package worth around $240 million, but it’s on hold pending the results of the investigation against him.

Meanwhile, Moonves’ wife, TV personality and Big Brother host, Julie Chen decided to be a real bitch about things. At the end of last night’s broadcast of Big Brother, she signed off as Julie Chen Moonves – a name she has NEVER used professionally, and it was symbolic in that she was showing her support for her husband. Well, good for you, Julie. You ain’t been nothing but a sell-out your whole career anyway. Seriously, that was her spitting in the faces of all of Les’s accusers, when she knows there could be some validity to all this. After all, she was allegedly his sidepiece while he was still married, and he petitioned the court for an early divorce just so he could be with her. Les Moonves ain’t shit, and neither is she. I really hope CBS boots “Chen Moonves” out on her ass, ’cause everybody knows the only reason she got that Big Brother gig – amongst others – is because of Moonves. Let’s see HER get kicked out of the Big Brother house.

But wait – there’s more! Last week, I told you about how Moonves made it his life’s mission to ruin Janet Jackson’s career after Nipplegate. That’s his thing. He loves to ruin people. Well, Designing Women/Evening Shade creator Linda Bloodworth-Thomason wrote this detailed account of how Moonves kept her shows off CBS, as well as scuttled her $50 million development contract. While she was never sexually harassed by Moonves, she knows people who were, plus he fucked with her money. I usually don’t get this “involved” with a HarassmentWatch subject, but Moonves is really being revealed as quite the piece of shit.

Shane Black Update: So, there was some blowback about the sex offender originally being in the film, but that didn’t stop folks from seeing The Predator, and reporting that it’s not very good. The news that came out this week, however, is that actress Olivia Munn is the one who tipped off the studio to the sex offender’s involvement in the film. And now it seems like she may have been blackballed, because she reached out to the cast to inform them of what she planned to do, and received no support from her male costars. In fact, they all bailed on a group interview that was scheduled at the Toronto International Film Festival. Since that news broke, however, Sterling K. Brown has apologized to her, but it was probably at the urging of the This Is Us producers, as they don’t want that bad juju affecting their ratings.

Norm MacDonald: Sometimes I wish I gave out the WORST Week Ever, as that would most certainly have gone to Norm this week. I mean, how many ways can you fuck up an apology tour? Well, he was determined to find out. So, early in the week, Norm did an interview where he said that he was glad the #MeToo movement was slowing down. He made a statement that Louis CK and Roseanne should get together and talk, because only they understand the experience of losing everything in one day. He said that folks always talk about the victims in these things, but they don’t realize that folks like Louis and Roseanne are basically victims, too. Well, this did NOT go over well, as people felt that he was minimizing what had actually gone down in these two particular cases. He tweeted out an apology, explaining that the 2 comedians were his friends, yet he didn’t condone their actions, nor was his intent to minimize what had occurred. Despite this, his Tuesday appearance on The Tonight Show was cancelled after Jimmy Fallon made him aware that some producers were “in tears” about the thought of him being on the show. Then, he went on The Howard Stern Show, and he doubled down, saying that a person would have to have Down Syndrome to not feel sorry for the victims of sexual assault. So, then he had to apologize for that. He’s apologizing for prior apologies on his apology tour. As they say in the South, “That boy just can’t get to Hell fast enough.”


So Henry Cavill is out as Superman in the DCEU. Oh wait – he’s back in? I can’t even keep track anymore. Apparently they wanted him to film a cameo for SHAZAM!, and he was all “Show me the money!” And when they did show it to him, it was flaccid and disappointing. Then, Cavill proceeded to post some cryptic video of him on Instagram with a Superman figure. Was this him telling us he’s done? That’s the conclusion to which everyone jumped, though there was no real precedent for it. You see, there’s no Superman project in development. right now. While Affleck is probably done as Batman due to his rehab stint, it’s not like DC is working on anything Superman related at the moment. So, the statement released basically said that if/when there’s a project, Cavill would be considered. Man, this is one messy break-up!

Meanwhile, as the fires burned all around us, somehow a rumor got started that Michael B. Jordan was being considered to replace Cavill as Superman. Let that sink in a minute. I feel like the Elite are tired of waiting for the inevitable Race War, and they’ve just decided to nudge things in the right direction to get the shit started. Yes, I know about Earth-23 Superman, but I don’t need Black Superman. Yes, representation matters, but I don’t need Black Superman. The only way I want Michael B. Jordan is if Warner Bros uses the same wack CGI they used to hide Cavill’s mustache in Justice League, but instead uses it to make Jordan White throughout the entire film. It’d be the biggest waste of CGI in movie history. Folks would be like “Why couldn’t they just cast a White guy?” And then there’d be the whole argument of “The best man got the job!” and some folks would be like, “Well, did he?” This is how the world ends, folks. You heard it here first.

All I know is that Cyborg movie ain’t ever happening, so I hope Ray Fisher didn’t spend all that Justice League money. If it did happen, and they did cast Jordan as Superman, I’ve GOT to have a version of this scene somewhere in the film:

Tomorrow is International Batman Day, and I really couldn’t tell you what we’re celebrating. I mean, it started on an anniversary year, but now it’s just an annual day to get a free Batman comic. OK, I’ll take it. It’s also the official launch date for the DC Universe streaming service. We got some DCU news this week, as Derek Mears has reportedly been cast as the suit actor for the Swamp Thing character, while Maria Sten will be Liza Tremaine. As far as content, the series is expected to be a “Hard R”. Also, it was revealed that Titans will feature Robin II, Jason Todd. We got this new pic of the series, and it still does nothing to make me want to watch this show.

In other comics news, Top Cow is planning a relaunch of The Darkness, which was originally a spin-off of Witchblade. Let’s hope it’s better than their recent reboot of Witchblade! To give you some backstory, the Witchblade was one of the powerful artifacts of the Top Cow universe that bonded with strong women over time. Once it got to the 90s, however, all the women’s empowerment went out the window, as it was nothing but a T&A book. While it put artists like Michael Turner on the map, it would be years later that the book gained any real substance.

The Darkness was one of those concepts introduced way too soon. It was a demonic force that, like the Witchblade, was passed down to males, from generation to generation. The power manifests on the bearer’s 21st birthday, but the problem is that the power is passed on at the moment of conception, killing the current host. It’s like that heavy handed 2nd verse of TLC’s “Waterfalls”! So, imagine how much it sucked for Jackie Estacado, a 21 year old mobster, who finds himself as the latest host for the Darkness. I mean, he was a womanizer, but now he couldn’t have sex.

And this is my problem with 90s comics. They wanted to be so edgy, but still remain so chaste, due to the Comics Code Authority. It was bandied about that Jackie couldn’t have sex, or he’d die. Um, condoms? Was this some poorly written AIDS allegory? X-Men tried to do the same thing. Gambit and Rogue are star-crossed because they can’t touch. Gloves and condoms, fool. A horny 13 year old kid can come up with a LOT of ways to make that work, and he was the primary audience for that book.

Anyway, Witchblade was just reimagined with a new host, and ZERO T&A. It’s like they’re not smart enough to realize why people bought that book. Witchblade, as a character, goes in that category with Lady Death and Vampirella, where you know exactly what you’re throwing down your money to read. This new book is just about some boring blonde girl, and I dropped it after one issue. Some concepts can be reimagined. Some can’t. I feel like Witchblade is only gonna work as a T&A book, and Darkness only works as her brooding, on-again, off-again boyfriend.

In TV news, the new cast of Dancing with the Stars was announced this week, and there were some surprises. I don’t watch the show at all, but I still keep up with who’s been tapped for the show. While I don’t know 3/4 of these people (because they’re all either reality show or Disney Channel stars), I do recognize some interesting choices. First, there’s the Ryan Seacrest of Country Music, Mr. Bobby Bones. He’s been branching out into other media, but the guy has a daily morning radio show. I feel like he’s gonna take an early L just to get back to his 37 other jobs. Then there’s 1984 Olympic gold medalist Mary Lou Retton, on whom I’ve had a crush since I was 3 years old. What? She was EVERYWHERE back then. It was like when Bobby Hill had that crush on Kerri Strug. The big one that stood out to me, however, was former Dukes of Hazzard star John Schneider, who was recently in the news because he was trying to get his jail time (for non payment of spousal support) reinstated, as he couldn’t afford to pay his ex-wife. Guess he said, “I can’t pay the bitch, so send me back to jail” – all while his car horn plays “Dixie” as he speeds through the center of town.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • The will reportedly be a death on Modern Family next season, of a “significant character” according to Co-creator Christopher Lloyd. All signs are pointing to Fred Willard’s Frank Dunphy.
  • Game of Thrones star Kit Harington blasted Marvel for not casting gay actors as any of their onscreen heroes. Not really sure what he was going for there. Maybe his manager told him to do it?
  • “They’re robots, bitch.” Expect that line next season, as Jesse Pinkman himself, Aaron Paul, joins the cast of Westworld.
  • The Blue’s Clues reboot, Blue’s Clues & You, has found its new host in Joshua Dela Cruz. That’s for all you parents/perverts out there.
  • The sun continues to shine on former Cosby Show star/more recent Trader Joe’s employee, as he is set to appear on NCIS: New Orleans next season.
  • Shane West is joining Gotham next season as a mysterious new villain. Remember when folks had high hopes for Shane? Man, that was some week!
  • American Gods must be cursed, as the show is about to lose its third showrunner. There are reports that Jesse Alexander was let go by Starz because the show is 6 weeks behind schedule and has gone over budget.
  • I guess we’re really doing this: after the Academy got rid of the “Popular Oscar”, Disney released its For Your Consideration list for Black Panther to Academy voters. Yup, they’re trying to get King T’Challa an Oscar!
  • Since the Roseanne thing didn’t really go as planned, ABC is going back to the well and has picked up the Designing Women reboot. It turns out the series is actually planned as a sequel, which will focus on the next generation of Sugarbaker women – which will be interesting since they were all past menopause by the end of the last series…
  • Rappers Nicki Minaj and Cardi B came to fisticuffs after a party during New York Fashion Week
  • Adult film star Stormy Daniels announced her upcoming book, Full Disclosure, which is supposedly her tell all account of her affair with Donald Trump. If I didn’t read Omarosa’s book, or Woodward’s book, or even Comey’s book, then why the Hell would I read this? I don’t need to read “He produced his turgid Cheeto, which I proceeded to ride, filled with ennui.”
  • X-Men: Extermination #1 saw the death of Scott Summers’ son, Cable – killed by a younger Cable! Oh, and this is the second time Cable has “died” in the past 10 years. Space that shit out, Marvel!

  • Marvel’s trying to get some of the DC Super Hero Girls money, with Marvel Rising: Secret Warriors, which has a toyline launching next month. I just hope these do better than those Star Wars: Forces of Destiny dolls, ’cause those did NOT find an audience.
  • Speaking of DC, there’s a new sheriff in town for the comics division, as it will now report directly to the President of New Warner Bros Global Brands & Experiences, Pam Lifford. Two interesting things here: 1) she’s a Black woman and 2) she used to work for the competition, as she was Disney exec until Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter used his influence to have her division closed. This should be interesting!

It was a great week for John Legend. First off, he won an Emmy Award for his work on Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert. Now, this would be an amazing accomplishment for anyone, but it was even more so for Legend, as it got him EGOT status: someone who has won a Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony Award. While I originally learned the term from 30 Rock, it was apparently coined by Miami Vice‘s Phillip Michael Thomas – like he ever had a chance. That’s like if I said I want to win 3 Olympic gold medals, as I sit on my couch, crunching on Doritos. Anyway, I believe that, at 39, Legend is the youngest person to get an EGOT. And the big news didn’t stop there, as it was also announced that he will be replacing Jennifer Hudson as a coach on The Voice next season. Not too shabby for a former a cappella kid who used to lament the fact that he was just one of the “Ordinary People”. That’s why John Legend had the West Week Ever.

07th Sep2018

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 9/7/18

by Will

 

I took last week off since it was a 3-day weekend, and y’all never read my shit when you’re watching the clock for your 72 hr orgy, or barbecue, or whatever the Hell it is y’all get into. Then, I took a “mental health day” today because my mental ain’t so healthy lately. So, this is coming out after 5 PM, which means you’ve already left work, and you’re probably pregaming for your 48 hr orgy. I hope ya read it, ’cause we’ve got 2 weeks of stuff to talk about, but I stopped tracking stats long ago. It’s better for the mental health….

HarassmentWatch(TM)

Shane Black: Apparently a scene was removed from The Predator, which contained a cameo by one of Black’s friends, who’s also a registered sex offender. Now, why he thought throwing his friend a job like this was a good idea, I’ll never know. I’m not sure if he’s “loyal” or just “stupid”, but hey, it’s 2018 and shit like that don’t go unnoticed.

Les Moonves Update: While Moonves was allowed to keep his job during the investigation into the sexual harassment claims against him, there are now rumors that he’s seeking a quiet exit from CBS. To add to that, there was an interesting article yesterday about how he made it his life’s mission to destroy Janet Jackson following her “wardrobe malfunction” after the 2004 Super Bowl.

As a “student of pop culture”, I never really had much of an opinion on the wardrobe malfunction. It was one of the few Super Bowls I missed, so I didn’t see it with the rest of you. And while I stanned for JT, I was still more mad at how he blew off his bandmates than for this. It didn’t go unnoticed that he pretty much got out of the whole thing unscathed but, according to the article, this was only because he tearfully approached Moonves about it, which Moonves loved. What a dickhole.

Louis CK Update: Louis returned to the stage in an unannounced set at the Comedy Cellar. From most accounts, his “comeback” wasn’t that great, and now he’s got a new enemy: the owner of the Cellar, Noam Dworman. Dworman claims he was never made aware of Louis’ plans, and he also didn’t appreciate that his club was chosen, as it’s put him in the middle of the controversy. On top of it, he is disappointed that Louis didn’t even address the allegations in his set. To Dworman, what should’ve been a mea culpa, hat-in-hand moment was more of a “Surprise! Here’s business as usual, like nothing happened.” So, it doesn’t seem like the world of comedy is ready to forgive Louis just yet.

Mahoney! Apparently, Steve Guttenberg is going around, saying there’s a new Police Academy movie coming, and I’m gonna need him to stop. The problem is this is a HORRIBLE time for that movie, I don’t care how lovable those guys are. Let’s Be Cops got in at the very last minute that folks were cool with cops. It’ll be quite some time before folks are ready to embrace a Police Academy movie again.

Plus, the franchise came out during a time when we didn’t care about everyone’s opinion. At this point, we’d have the fraternal orders of police weighing in about how they feel disrespected. Fox News would want a boycott for the film that “disparages our heroes!”, and Sheriff David A. Clarke would use it as an excuse to do more rounds on the talk show circuit. And it’s kind sad watching old ass Michael Winslow try to make sounds that I can just download an app to produce. Let that shit go. Give it a few years, and then introduce Mahoney’s kid, who’s joining the academy. I’ll only watch, though, if they “Weekend at Bernie’s” Commandant Lassard, by dragging George Gaynes’s corpse around the whole film.

In TV news, It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia started its 13th (!) season this week, in an episode that was…serviceable. First of all, they dealt with the mystery of whether or not Glenn Howerton’s Dennis was coming back, seeing as how his new series, AP Bio, was renewed at NBC. So, to replace Dennis in their circle of friends, the gang recruited…Mindy Kaling? Yeah, it didn’t work for me. Her casting just didn’t feel right. Should’ve been a blonde White chick. A real Fox News type for what they were going for. Dennis looks old as shit. Waitress looks HORRIBLE with that hair. In all, I’m glad the show’s not cancelled, but they just seem out of ideas.

In other TV news, last week we celebrated Power Rangers Day, as the 25th anniversary episode of Power Rangers Super Ninja Steel aired in primetime on Nickelodeon. And it was…OK. It wasn’t as rushed as the Legendary Battle special from Power Rangers Super Megaforce, but it was SUCH a Tommy wankfest that I almost can’t believe it. Yes, I realize that Jason David Frank is basically the patron saint of Power Rangers, but little kids have GOT to be wondering “Who’s this old guy who keeps coming around?” In the episode, Rangers from different dimensions are pulled together to help the current team fight Lord Draven, who’s trying to tear down the barriers between realities. It’s a shame that the current team is so bland. They’re basically Power Rangers Sanka. The only interesting part of Ninja Steel/Super Ninja Steel is watching the creative ways that the production crew come up with to hide the Pink Ranger’s insane ass. No, seriously, it’s INSANE. The special posed SO many questions, but it also pretty much gave some sneak peaks at toys that I’m positive we’re getting from Hasbro next year.

In comic news, it was announced that fan favorite writer, Gail Simone, will become the chief architect of Lion Forge’s Catalyst Prime superhero universe. I’m kinda torn on this one. No, I’m not really torn at all. You see, the Catalyst Prime books aren’t very good. Launched as a universe that featured diverse heroes, and science-based powers, there were some hits (Noble) and quite a few misses (everything else). I only supported them because the old chief architect of the line was a buddy of mine from my comic days, and I always support his stuff. Catalyst, however, just wasn’t hitting the right buttons for me, and I guess it wasn’t for others, as well, as they announced a creative shake-up. And at just the time of that shake-up, my buddy jumped ship to another publisher. So then I felt bamboozled that I had sunk several hundred dollars (Oh, I was ALL IN) into a line that wouldn’t see its original ideas to fruition, nor did it seem like it was guaranteed to stick around. I had no desire to see where Catalyst was going at that point.

Now, to Gail. I like Gail. I do. But she kinda has this undeserved reputation as a “fixer”. As one of the few prominent women in comics, whenever a female comic character needs “fixing”, the fans immediately go “Give her to Gail!” This worked with Birds of Prey. She also did some fan favorite work with Agent X/Deadpool, at a period of time before he was emblazoned on everything in Hot Topic. But I also remember the failures. She couldn’t “save” Wonder Woman, and turned in a run that is pretty much forgotten. She couldn’t “reimagine” Gen13 for the 21st century. And I remember she kinda got in some shit with my friend, Jenn, a few years back for her portrayal of Asian hero Ryan Choi, who was The Atom at the time. So, I wish her well, but I think I’m taking my leave of the Catalyst Prime universe.

Speaking of female comic characters, Entertainment Weekly gave us our first glimpse of Brie Larson as Captain Marvel. I know some of y’all are big Carol Danvers fans (looking at you, Zac), but I just can’t board that train. I do not like Captain Marvel. She’s a character that once held promise, but has been woefully mischaracterized in recent years. This guy articulates exactly how I feel about her. Basically, if you’re desperate for a White feminist icon in comics, she gets the job done, but she is horribly flawed.

I know the movie will be good ’cause they’ll take some liberties. There are lots of MCU characters whose comic versions I loathe (Black Panther, anyone?). I feel she was more interesting as Binary. Hell, she was more interesting as ANY incarnation until her “promotion” to Captain. The House of M story was both the best and worst thing to ever happen to her. It was the best because she was shown a world where she met her true potential, and it inspired her to stop being such a self-pitying fuck-up. It was the worst, though, because she became a social climber, willing to use and/or step on anyone in order to become the best that she could be. She got Rhodey killed, she was WRONG in Civil War II, and she’s pretty much been wrong about every decision she’s made since House of M, but she’s got the Carol Corps fan base behind her, who feel she can do no wrong. I have no problem with flawed characters. Marvel’s FULL of them. In many ways, she’s just a female Tony Stark. My problem is that, for some reason when it comes to her, they refuse to call a spade a spade. She’s promoted as this aspirational hero when she’s really just a fuck-up who’s trying to fake it until she makes it. Whew! Breathe, Will. Anyway, the movie looks good. I just hope it makes me like her as a character, ’cause I sure as Hell don’t like her right now.

Lots of DC Universe streaming news came out, and none of it makes me want to give them my money. First up, we got that logo you see for the Stargirl series. Plus, Timothy Dalton has been cast in Doom Patrol. The service will launch next Saturday, which also happens to be Batman Day. The Titans live action series will launch next month, on October 12th. The show everyone’s waiting for, however – Young Justice: Outsiders – won’t premiere until 2019. So, yeah, good luck with that.

 

Let’s get political for a bit, ’cause it’s 2018, and that’s what we do now. So, an “anonymous” person within the Trump White House wrote this New York Times op/ed about how there are members of the administration who are hard at work for making sure he doesn’t get us all killed. As the article made the rounds, folks were like “Ooh, what a coup!” But that dog don’t hunt for me. I’ve posted this on various social media, but I think it bears repeating here:

Yeah, I couldn’t even finish that article. There’s too many “Sure, he’s insane, but good things have come from this administration” interjections. Plus, y’all only have to keep him in check ’cause you were dumb enough to put him there in the first place. Eat ALL the dicks!

Plus, they are striving REAL hard to make sure you realize whose side they’re on. It’s like “We’re part of the Resistance, but not the Left’s Resistance. Don’t get it twisted.” That distinction shouldn’t matter if the situation is as dire as you claim.

Your whole “Don’t worry. We got this” means absofuckinglutely NOTHING to me seeing as how you created this problem and are now Tony Starking your way out of it. You’re just as culpable, so don’t think this 11th hour play absolves you of that. Remember all the dicks? EAT THEM

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • This Fall, ABC is trying to bring back the TGIF branding (for the third time, mind you) for its Friday night shows. This iteration of the comedy block will include Fresh Off The Boat, Speechless, and the one-hour game show, Child Support. Also, the network is peppering in former TGIF stars as guest stars, as Jaleel White is scheduled to pop up on FOTB (sadly NOT as Urkel), while Ben Savage will appear on Speechless.
  • Mr. Robot is ending after its upcoming 4th season, which is exactly 2.5 seasons after I stopped giving a shit.
  • It was announced that Saturday Night Live‘s season premiere will air September 29th.
  • Emmy Rossum announced that she’s leaving the Showtime series Shameless. While I’ve never seen the show, I know she’s topless a lot in it and, thanks to the Internet, I’ve seen her breasts about 184 times.
  • The new Bachelor will be former San Diego Chargers tight end, Colton Underwood. I refuse to believe that’s his real name, but if it is, he’d better be a Hollywood stuntman who’s a bounty hunter on the side.
  • Fox executives probably let out a collective “FUCK!” this week, as it was announced that Netflix was saving the recently-cancelled ABC series Designated Survivor, which stars former 24 hero Kiefer Sutherland. I guess they’ll have to get back to work on all those non-Jack Bauer ideas they had…
  • Alicia Silverstone’s American Woman has been cancelled at Paramount Network after one season. Meanwhile, the TVLand series Younger will be moving to Paramount Network next season.
  • America’s favorite 80s lesbian, Jo Polniaczek, will soon be putting down the edibles, and dancing over our heads, as Nancy McKeon joins the next cycle of Dancing With The Stars.
  • Insecure and Ballers have been renewed at HBO. I remember liking Insecure, but Ballers feels like Dwayne Johnson is only doing it because one of the creators is a friend who owes money to the mob.
  • Formerly on Fuse and TruTV, Billy Eichner’s Billy on the Street will be returning with new episodes…on Funny or Die’s website. This is like a notch higher than just throwing the shit on Crackle.
  • Henry Cavill will be starring in Netflix’s adaptation of The Witcher. Now, I don’t know much about vidya games, as I owned a Nie-tenda, but didn’t have one of them Sagas. I hear the games are good, but it seems like a demotion to go from Superman to Netflix adaptation series. Maybe the Superman Curse is wearing off, though, as it could be worse: he could have Dean Cain’s career…
  • Former Doctor Who star Matt Smith has been cast in a secret role for Star Wars Episode XI, and folks act like they care, but they don’t really care. They’re just waiting to learn more so they can talk shit about it. I know you Star Wars fans!
  • Dick Wolf’s wallet will soon be getting fatter, as NBC has ordered Law & Order: Hate Crimes, which will spin out of Special Victims Unit. Call me when they get to Law & Order: Jaywalker Elimination Force.
  • In a surprising move for the franchise, Tim Gunn and Heidi Klum are leaving Project Runway to create their own project over at Amazon. Auf wiedersehen!
  • So, according to Michael Moore, our current state of affairs can be blamed on that Hollaback Girl, Gwen Stefani. According to Moore, when Trump heard that Gwen was making more money as a coach on The Voice than he was making on The Apprentice, he planned to announce a run for president in order to coax more money out of the network. Thanks a lot, Gwen. I guess Tony Kanal’s isn’t the only life you’ve fucked up now…
  • Remember that new Academy Award that was basically gonna be “Best Popular Film”? Yeah, that’s dead already. Womp womp.

This is a tough one this week. When the week started, Fox News was trying to shame former Cosby Show actor Geoffrey Owens because he had been caught working as a bagger at a New York area Trader Joe’s. It turned into a big conversation about how working actors don’t make that much, and how there’s nothing wrong with making an honest living. Over the course of the week, there was backlash against Fox News and against the woman who snuck the pic in the first place. As of yesterday, however, it was reported that Tyler Perry had cast Owens in his OWN series The Haves and Have Nots, and that he was on his way to Atlanta to start a recurring role. So, West Week Ever? Maybe, but Nike was like, “Hold my jock strap.”

You see, Nike chose currently unemployed football star Colin Kaepernick to be the face of their new ad campaign, and the Conservatives lost their shit. One of the roadies for country act Big & Rich went viral for cutting the Nike “Swoosh” off his socks in protest. Folks started burning their Nike products and demanding a boycott. “How could Nike align themselves with someone who disrespects our HEROES?!” If that’s your interpretation of what this whole thing is about, then there’s pretty much no reaching you and you’re just determined to be offended.

Doubling down on their decision, Nike released the following commercial during last night’s NFL season opener:

Sorry, Elvin, but it looks like you’ve been emasculated yet again. It was gonna be a tie, but this commercial “got me in the feels” as you kids like to say. Are YOUR dreams crazy enough? That gave me a lot to chew on. So, Nike had the West Week Ever.

24th Aug2018

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 8/24/18

by Will

I was really pleased with last week’s post. I mean, I gave you a great summary of The Meg. You got an Omarosa “tribute”, complete with the history of the Reality Show Villain. Yet, it still didn’t get the amount of shares to which I’ve become accustomed. I guess you objected to my use of the word a certain word. Well, for that, I’m punishing you with a shorter post this week! Go think about what you did – I mean, after you read all this, of course.

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Asia Argento – Don’t get too many broads in this segment, yet here we are. Yes, the daughter of filmmaker Dario Argento, and the last girlfriend of the late Anthony Bourdain, reportedly settled with a male accuser to the tune of $380,000. What an odd amount, by the way; I guess the guy was in the market for a mid-century rambler. In any case, Argento allegedly sexually assaulted a 17 year old actor who had previously portrayed her son in the film The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things some 10 years prior. He reported that she gave him alcohol, performed oral sex on him, and then had intercourse with him. And I’m sure he promptly ran to his friends, bragging “I totally just banged the chick from xXx!” No, this is a serious matter, and there will be no joking. Still, though, remember how xXx was supposed to make her the Next Big Thing? Folks were acting like she was gonna be the next Angelina Jolie, when instead her career basically fell as flat for her as Jai Courtney’s.

Anyway, what makes this whole thing notable, is that she had been such an outspoken critic of Harvey Weinstein – the one who started this whole movement to begin with. Plus, she had alleged that Weinstein had also raped her at the age of 21. So, it’s not to say that both things couldn’t have happened. It’s just a question of whether they’re in some way related. Did her rape by Weinstein mess her up to the point where she thought it was OK to seduce a 17 year old? Was there other stuff going on? In any case, this is a messy situation that’s dealt a blow to a movement that has been seemingly running out of steam as of late.

Paris Dennard – Pro-Trump CNN conservative pundit Paris Dennard has been suspended following the opening of a misconduct investigation. I’ll say this: both parties are guilty of some shitty stuff, but when it comes to the sexual side, why are Republicans just so BAD at it? Seriously, one Democrat was PRESIDENT and got away with that cigar stuff, while a Republican in the same era was up for Supreme Court Justice, and his idea of “game” was like,”Hey, there appears to be a pubic hair on my Coke.” Anyway, Dennard was no less obvious, as he reportedly harassed a female subordinate by pretending to unzip his pants, trying to get her to sit on his lap, and by making masturbatory gestures. The interesting thing is that these accusations stem from how he lost his Arizona State University job back in 2014. So, we’re talking about 4 year old shit here. That’s not to say it’s not valid, but it seems like The Left has finally decided to go dig up some old shit just like the Alt-Right did for James Gunn and others. Too bad they couldn’t pick a better target than Great Value Benson Dubois.

In TV news, Black-ish creator Kenya Barris is reportedly working on a reboot of the classic sitcom Bewitched for ABC Studios. In this version, Samantha is a Black woman who’s a witch (yeah, that’s gonna go over well), who’s married to a White man, and wacky shit happens! This thing is doomed to fail, as it’s similar to the race-switched The Honeymooners from a few years back. Black folks don’t get down with witches and all that. Still, I see this as his “fuck you” project, as he heads out the door. He had a contract with ABC Studios, and he’s on his way to a $100 million deal at Netflix. This was merely to fulfill the contract, and I expect ABC to put a bullet in it before it goes anywhere.

It was a big Power Rangers week, as the Power Morphicon convention took place last weekend in Anaheim. First up, we got the above trailer for what will be the next incarnation of the series, Power Rangers: Beast Morphers. And we finally get another Black guy leader – a first since 2009’s Power Rangers RPM. Unlike most Power Rangers series, which adapt the most recent Japanese Sentai series, Beast Morphers actually reaches all the way back to 2012’s Go-Busters for its footage. This is also the incarnation that will feature toys produced by new franchise owner Hasbro instead of the old license holder Bandai.

Speaking of Hasbro, we got a look at the Lightning Collection, which will essentially be Hasbro’s Black Series/Legends 6″ line for Power Rangers. While, yes, we knew this was going to happen, and we also knew they would need to cover some Mighty Morphin stuff, since that’s the most recognizable incarnation, I really don’t feel like paying $20 a figure for characters I *JUST* bought from Bandai, for $20 in their Legacy Collection. They’ll more than likely be superior to the Bandai figures, as they’re in a normal scale (unlike Bandai’s 6.5″), and they’re slated to include more weapons and accessories. I just don’t know if I need to sell off my Legacy figures now, or if I just need to ignore the Hasbro stuff. I understand the “Fuck what the old company did!” mentality, but I wish there had been more synergy between the Bandai and Hasbro stuff, just for the sake of the fans. I kinda wish Hasbro had prioritized figures from seasons that never got the Legacy treatment, but we’re going to have to slog through MMPR rehashes until we get there.

Finally, they also announced the creation of Power Morphicon Express, which will be a traveling version of the show, anchored by everyone’s favorite Power Ranger, Jason David Frank (Tommy). I always kinda wanted to check out Morphicon, but wasn’t about to fly to California for a Power Rangers convention. Now that it’s going on the road, though, I’m totally going when/if it hits the East Coast. And it’s no real surprise that Frank is involved, ’cause that dude will do ANYTHING when it comes to a convention. He was a fixture on the Wizard World circuit, and that show ain’t doing so good these days. So, this is the perfect extra strategy for him to get out of those Wizard World shows. I’ve heard of the organization challenges that they have faced for the main show, so I hope they have learned from those in order to put on a decent traveling show.

I had a wonderful time hanging out with the Nerd Lunch guys as we designed Nerd Lunch University for the latest episode of their podcast. If you’re sitting at home, watching Judge Mathis, you’re probably bombarded with commercials for Lincoln Tech or some correspondence course for medical bookkeeping. Wouldn’t you like to aim higher – perhaps TO THE STARS? Then check out Nerd Lunch U! You can hear the episode here, and I know you’ll want to fill out your FAFSA immediately!

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • In a New York Times op/ed, Star Wars actress Kelly Marie Tran fought back against her online attackers, and revealed that her real name is Tran Loan.
  • Due to creative differences, Danny Boyle has dropped out of directing the next James Bond movie. Idris Elba apparently heard that news, and said “Fuck THAT noise!” and announced that he, too, would not be associated with the next Bond film.
  • There are rumors that Zendaya may be cast as Ariel in the live action adaptation of The Little Mermaid, and I think we finally know what will trigger the Race War of 2019.
  • There are also talks that Hulu is resurrecting Veronica Mars for an 8-episode season. I dunno. I mean, a long time ago, we used to be friends, but so much time has passed. Seriously, though, wasn’t there a movie that nobody saw? I know Kristen Bell is cute and all, but what is it about this property that folks can’t let it go?
  • After an intervention staged by estranged wife Jennifer Garner, Ben Affleck is headed back to rehab for alcoholism at a Malibu facility.
  • After 12 seasons, The Big Bang Theory will end after its upcoming season. Reportedly, Jim Parsons turned down an estimated $50 million payday to sign on for another 2 seasons. I mean, the man is 45 and probably tired of playing a socially stunted manchild. Anyway, I’ve already stated my love of the show, while you all have made your vitriol known, so I won’t waste any more space on this one today.
  • Though I would bet money that a wedding will never take place, Jonas Brother Nick Jonas and Quantico‘s Priyanka Chopra are engaged. Who breaks up first? Them or Ariana Grande and Pete Davidson?
  • Nicki Minaj had a social media meltdown after blaming Travis Scott and Kylie Jenner for tanking her album sales for Queen. The reason? Kylie posted to her 113 million Instagram followers that if folks came out for Travis’s merch packages, there’s a chance they might get to see Baby Stormi on tour. I hardly see that as a reason to buy an album, but kids today are stupid.
  • The Last Sharknado: It’s About Time, the 6th and “final” film in the franchise, aired this week. I missed it, but I also missed the 5th one, so…
  • Niecy Nash is reportedly in talks to get her own talk show on TNT. I swear, this woman has done every type of show there is: sitcom (Reno 911/Soul Man), reality show (Clean House), drama (Getting On/Scream Queens/Claws). Still, basic cable talk shows NEVER work unless hosted by Andy Cohen (just ask Stacy London how that worked out for her).
  • Sony admitted they put a bunch of fake Michael Jackson songs performed by an impersonator on the posthumous album Michael.

I’m taking the lazy way out this week. You know what had the West Week Ever? Crazy Rich Asians. You got lucky, ’cause I was gonna give it to that Doja Cat “Bitch I’m A Cow” song, but I figured Crazy Rich Asians had more cultural significance. Here’s the rub, though: I haven’t seen the movie yet. I mean, I’ve seen all the scuttlebutt: first major Hollywood studio release with an all Asian cast The Joy Luck Club (not really true), how important it is for Asians to finally see themselves as the stars on screen, etc. No, I’m not equipped to really tell you the cultural significance here, but in the words of Pawn Stars‘ Rick Harrison, I’ve got a friend who’s knowledgeable of this stuff, so let me touch base with her.

Jenn Fang has been a dear friend of mine for nearly 20 years, as we met at a little school in Ithaca, called Cornell. She runs Reappropriate.co, which is a blog that follows both Asian American and feminist issues. She was also featured in yesterday’s Washington Post, giving her thoughts on the importance of the film. Here’s a teaser:

If that doesn’t make you want to read more, then I don’t know what will. She’s a gifted writer, so I implore you to go check out her piece. Plus, the film made more than $50 million at this point, with no real end in sight.

It is interesting, however, that it is not clear if the film will actually screen in China, where it’s known as “Gold Picking Unexpected Romance”. Apparently China only releases approximately 37 Hollywood films a year, and they’ve already released 30 to date so far in 2018. Though the film isn’t officially out there, a lot of Chinese have seen it, and they aren’t necessarily loving it. So, I think it’s important to see why this film is sparking conversations, and having such an impact of both sides of the “aisle”, so to speak. In any case, those Crazy Rich Asians had the West Week Ever.

17th Aug2018

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 8/17/18

by Will

So, last night I saw The Meg, which isn’t typically my kind of movie, but I really do love Jason Statham. When it was first announced, I couldn’t imagine why Statham was doing this underwater suspense film. After seeing it, though, I realize there’s no other working actor who could’ve done this role. It’s like filmmakers are sitting on a certain type of script, and they take it to Statham’s adult tree house (you know he totally has one of those), and they present it to him. He looks them square in the eye, and says, “Oi! You payin’ me money fo’ this? See you in the mornin’.”

Remember near the end of Britney Spears’s heyday, when you didn’t really call her a “singer”, but rather an “entertainer”? We all knew the singing wasn’t putting butts in seats, but she was known for putting on a good show. That’s kinda the same case with Jason Statham. He’s not an “actor”, but more of an “entertainer”. He has no real range or depth, and he’s constantly overacting in an attempt to gain either. But damn if it isn’t entertaining.

I’m gonna end up spoiling a lot of this movie because you’re probably never gonna see it until it comes on TV.
Anyway, it starts out with Statham and his two colleagues performing a daring deep sea rescue aboard a submarine. To save the bulk of the survivors, he’s forced to blow the hatch and leave his colleagues behind. We’re told these were his “best friends”, though he never really seems to give that much of a shit about them. Fast forward 5 years later, where he’s a drunk, riddled with guilt, living in Thailand trying to drown the memory of what happened to his friends. He’s sought out by Chinese Scientist and that Indian looking dude from Fear The Walking Dead. You see, Chinese Scientist’s experimental sub is stranded on the ocean floor, and Statham is the only man who’s performed a rescue that deep. All the familiar tropes are there: he tells them he’s not diving again, and offers them a beer before getting ready to kick them out – that is until he learns that the pilot of the stranded sub is dun dun DUNNNN…his ex-wife. Next thing you see is Statham getting off the helicopter, and suiting up for the rescue mission. Aw, shit! We’ve got Die Hard Underwater! He’s gonna go save the only woman he ever loved, right? Right? WRONG! Yeah, he saves her, but she spends a good chunk of the movie in a coma, while he and Chinese Scientist’s Daughter begin to fall for each other.

In the middle of all this, there are attacks by a big fucking shark. Seriously, that’s what the movie should’ve been called: Big Fucking Shark. Or The BFS, since you can’t put “Fucking” on a movie poster. I mean, they call it The Meg, and I figure that’s only because Megalodon sounds like something from The Asylum that would air on Syfy. You don’t really learn much about the Megalodon, though. Unlike Jurassic Park, where they’ve got dinosaur facts coming out the ass, this movie is content to just say that a Megalodon is a big fucking shark that we thought was extinct, but clearly isn’t. Anyway, Statham has pretty much gone on record to say that the film in theaters isn’t the film he made. He expected more gore, and I’ll admit the deaths and attacks are pretty tame.

I’m curious to know what was cut, because you can almost tell when and where things are missing. For example, future Batwoman Ruby Rose plays Jax, who designed Chinese Scientist’s ocean base. When the doctor decides to sacrifice himself so that Jax can escape the Meg, he says “You’re going to be OK, Jax. You’re a good person.” That’s a pretty heavy line with no support for it. You’d think maybe there was some backstory about Jax doubting herself, or dwelling on some bad decision she had made in her life, and here was the Voice of Reason, telling her it would be OK, before sacrificing himself to give her a second chance at life. You’d think. But none of that is in the film.

Also, before sacrificing himself, Masi Oka’s character stuffs a note for his wife into the pocket of his colleague before shoving him out the hatch. Said colleague never makes sure the note gets to Oka’s wife, but instead shoves it into the chest of Chinese Scientist once he’s back on the station. What did the note say? Did it ever make its way to Oka’s wife?!

It’s a good film for minorities, though. The Black guy lives, the lesbian hacker lives, and every other person not on the ocean base is Chinese. You never quite believe that Statham is really into Chinese Scientist’s Daughter, and I wanted him to quip something like, “Oi! I’m inna mood fo’ Chinese!”, and then wink at her. Or maybe show a scene with them relaxing in the afterglow in bed, and he looks at his watch and says, “Oi! It’s true what they say: it’s been thir’y minutes and I’m ready fo’ round two!” Ya know, really crudely play into the cultural differences. She’s a demure Asian woman of science, and he’s the rough around the edges Rescue Bloke. But instead of taking any real chances with their characters, they keep everything steady between the navigational beacons.

I liked this movie. I won’t say it’s “good”, but it’s certainly entertaining. It could’ve done more with what it had, though. Rainn Wilson does a good job as the obnoxious billionaire who funded the whole project, but I didn’t think he got a full character arc either. A lot of this movie was clearly left on the floor of the editing room. It’s downright predictable, but I guess that’s what folks like about these things? Again, it’s not my usual genre, but I certainly didn’t hate it.

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Chris Hardwick Update – Hardwick returned to his hosting duties on The Talking Dead this week, with a tearful thank you to his supporters. So, I guess that’s the end of that, huh?

James Gunn Update – Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy – you’ve gotta put all your cards on the table! This week, pictures surfaced of James Gunn dressed as a Naughty Priest at an alleged pedophile-themed party. I mean, how many chances are we gonna give this guy? Yeah, I know folks will argue that tasteless “fancy dress parties” (just call them “costume parties”, you damn Brits!) occur, and “He worked for Troma” blah blah blah. I still don’t know where the line will be drawn, and he’s an interesting case study in figuring that out. I honestly haven’t made up my mind where I stand on his whole thing. All I know is it’d be nice if Gunn just got everything out in the open. First the tweets. Then the Naughty Priest costume. Next it’ll be a shoebox of Polaroids and y’all are still gonna be like “REHIRE HIM NOW!” I feel like he’s somewhere now, like, “Well, at least they didn’t find the body.” Anyway, Disney is reportedly sticking their guns, and refusing to rehire him, despite the fan backlash.

It was a big week for the Star Trek franchise, in both good and bad ways. Things started off with reports that the fourth movie in the rebooted JJ Abrams Kelvin Universe was falling apart. Actors Chris Pine and Chris Hemsworth had walked away from the negotiation table, as they claimed Paramount wasn’t trying to honor deals that were already in place. Essentially, Paramount wanted them to take pay cuts, arguing that Trek films weren’t comparable to the Marvel and DC films the actors went on to star in. Deals with the other cast members were expected to close once the Chrises were in place, but now the movie is in danger of not happening. Paramount is notorious for keeping a tight budget on Trek films, and the last installment, Star Trek Beyond, apparently lost them money. Plus, they’d have to address the whole Chekov thing, seeing as how actor Anton Yelchin died in a freak accident after production wrapped on the last film.

Meanwhile, in another part of the galaxy, Gregory Peck’s grandson, Ethan Peck, has been cast as Young Spock in Star Trek: Discovery. Why they needed to do this, I have no clue. Why not just get Zachary Quinto? He’s around. So, now there’s gonna be three different Spock actors. Whatever. I still haven’t boarded the Disco train, but I’ll get around to it one of these days.

The Trailer Park

Runaways Season 2

Still haven’t seen season 1, but the looks of these kids don’t make me want to check it out. It looks so…Degrassi. Plus, they really added the dinosaur?! Kinda surprised by that. Must be Hell on the CGI budget. Anyway, I was a big fan of the comic for the first few years, but I can’t imagine watching this show, knowing the twist coming. Plus, I thought they would’ve revealed that in season 1, so the fact that it’s season 2 and they’re still, basically, in the first 12 issues means this thing is gonna run FOREVER. Pass. Anyway, it premieres December 21st, which is also the release date for, like, every movie in the world, so I’m not sure it’s gonna be a Day 1 streaming hit.

Kim Possible TV Movie

I was a huge fan of the cartoon, even though I was 21 and way too old to be watching it. Still, this idea feels about 15 years too late. I remember when they used to talk about this thing getting a theatrical release, with the possibility of voice actress Christy Carlson Romano in the lead role. Now, here we are in 2018, and it’s been demoted to the status of a Disney Channel Original Movie. Just seems so…lame. I’d like to think I’ll watch it, but I’ll probably miss it until I accidentally stumble upon it one day in 2021, when my kids’ll be into that shit.

Iron Fist Season 2 

I’ll confess that I haven’t seen a Marvel Netflix show since Jessica Jones, but when did the production values change? This looks like Arrow Season 1. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad. I mean, season 1 was one of Arrow‘s better seasons, but this totally looks like a drama on The CW – something that would air during the summer after The 100 or The Originals. It looks like they may have fixed some of the issues folks had with season 1 of this show, but I’m still not sold. Anyway, I’ve got a few years before I even get to see it, as I’ve got about 6 more Netflix seasons to get through before this.

So, last week there was a news story about South Carolina woman Elizabeth Cutshaw who was pulled over by the cops for a DUI. She tried to get out of her arrest by calling herself a “clean, thoroughbred, White girl”. Well, knowing a great opportunity when I see one, I quickly snatched up ThoroughbredWhiteGirls.com. Now I’ve just gotta figure out what to do with it. A picture gallery of White horses? A porn site of thick White women? Sell it to some White supremacists at a profit? The possibilities are endless!

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • It was a bad week for low-performing basic cable shows, as Shooter was cancelled on USA, while The Royals was cancelled on E!
  • ABC has officially ordered a pilot for a spinoff of The Middle, where Sue Heck embarks on an exciting life in the big city of Chicago.
  • After one not-especially-notable season, Saturday Night Live featured player Luke Null won’t be returning to the show this fall.

  • We got a look at Barry’s new suit on The Flash. Maybe one day I’ll get past season 1 of that show…
  • CBS classic Designing Women is being prepped for a reboot at Sony. I’m sure they’re gonna make at least one of them a Trump supporter this time. Fun fact: In the original series, Dixie Carter played staunch Democrat Julia Sugarbaker. Carter, however, was a card-carrying Republican. So, she struck a deal with producers that whenever her character had to give a blistering, Liberal-minded speech, she’d get to sing a song in a future episode.
  • The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, passed away yesterday, and Fox News put up a tribute picture of Patti LaBelle instead.  I still don’t “get” Patti LaBelle. Same with Anita Baker. To me, Anita is the female Gerald Levert, in that she always sold just enough albums to justify recording another.

Earlier this week, I was explaining the role of the reality show villain to my 80 year old mother. Nah, she probably didn’t care, but it gave us something to fill the silence. In any case, I was explaining how it wasn’t really even a concept until Real World: San Francisco, back in 1994. That’s back when MTV would still cast ugly people for that show. Stupid Vegas season came along and ruined everything, but I digress. Anyway, David “Puck” Rainey was the obnoxious housemate, who took things to extremes. He ate out of the peanut butter jar with his fingers. He wiped boogers on the walls. He became so hard to handle that the other housemates took a vote, and evicted him from the house – a first for the show, as well as setting a precedent for all reality shows to come. After that point, the template was pretty much that A) there had to be a villian and B) somebody had to be voted out. Look at every reality show since then, and that’s pretty much the blueprint. Well, Puck may have started it, but Omarosa Manigault Newman perfected it.

After 3 seasons across the various iterations of The Apprentice, as well as her own reality show and Celebrity Big Brother, Omarosa made a name for her self as the Head Bitch of Reality TV. We thought that’s where she would remain and flounder until her former “boss”, and producing partner, Donald Trump won a certain election. Now she’d be able to use her reality TV skills in an even backstabbier, vicious circle: American politics. Hired as Assistant to the President and Director of Communications for the Office of Public Liaison, it was never really clear what she actually did. In fact, a reporter shadowed her for a day, and still couldn’t figure it out. It didn’t matter, though, as the stint didn’t last long. She was hired in January and ousted in December. Grand opening, grand closing! She laid low for a bit, but then came roaring back to the headlines this week with the release of her book Unhinged, where she alleges that Trump is a racist who frequently used “The N-Word” (you all know I have no problem typing that word out here, but I feel like you’d be more inclined to share the post if I soften it up. So, yeah – share my shit). Oh, and she also has tapes. She was taping conversations, son! I swear, how is the Trump Administration just so bad at everything? She used the book and the tapes to get herself onto every talk show and interview panel that would have her this week.

Here’s my thing with Omarosa, though: Omarosa did THREE seasons of The Apprentice AND produced a dating reality show with Trump. They both knew who the other one was, and none of that prevented either from working with the other until shit hit the fan. Ya know what? He probably did say it. Probably with her right beside him, laughing about it. Harriet Tubman, however, she is not. She is going on the talk circuit claiming that she wanted to make sure Black folks were represented at the table, but she also said that Black people aren’t a monolith, so you can’t expect to agree with everyone.

Building your career on the backs of reality shows is akin to being a social media star, like a YouTuber. You constantly have to do something, anything, to stay relevant. The Adult Swim show Mostly 4 Millennials is really good about parodying this fact. Omarosa is accustomed to a certain lifestyle, and a certain amount of attention, so she’s got to do whatever she has to in order to achieve that. I mean, this is a woman who was prepared to marry (and may have possibly murdered) Michael Clarke Duncan. I loved the dude, but ain’t nobody lining up to marry Green Mile! This is simply a pivot. She was a Trumper, but now Omarosa ’18 is a “crusader” – in her mind, at least. The problem with this particular play, however is that it’s a Hail Mary pass. I don’t think she fully understands the repercussions of what she’s trying to unleash. And at the end of the day, even if Trump said those things, his base would just be emboldened even more, and say “Well, they were acting niggery!” Like I said before, it’s amazing how bad they all are at this. But God Bless her, she’s trying.

I really don’t know where this takes Omarosa when the dust settles. I don’t know what’s left. Omarosa in space? Omarosa Goes To Africa? I mean, she’s virtually unhireable in any decent capacity, and she’s also not very loyal if you’ve got to worry about her taping your conversations. She doesn’t seem to realize how this makes her look, even if she thinks she was just covering her ass. It’s kinda like when Comey came out with his book, and looked like more of a fool with each subsequent interview. Eventually, we were all like, “Sit down, asshole!” So, I really hope she knows what she’s doing, but if history has taught me anything about this administration, she doesn’t. Yet, she’ll still be fine. And that’s why Omarosa Manigault Newman had the West Week Ever.

10th Aug2018

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 8/10/18

by Will

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Casey Affleck – Believed by many to be one of the original causes of the #MeToo movement, Affleck finally addressed the allegations of his misconduct on the set of the Joaquin Phoenix mockumentary I’m Not Here. Some are applauding the fact that he’s finally accepting the blame, while others aren’t sure if it’s enough. The allegations resulted in a lawsuit filed by two female cast members, which was settled out of court. From his interview with the Associated Press,

“That I was ever involved in a conflict that resulted in a lawsuit is something that I really regret,” he said.

“I had never had any complaints like that made about me before in my life and it was really embarrassing, and I didn’t know how to handle it, and I didn’t agree with everything, the way I was being described and the things that were said about me,” Affleck said.

“But I wanted to try to make it right, and so we made it right in the way that was asked at the time.”

To me, that sounds like “I gave them money because that’s what they wanted, and I wanted it to go away. However, looking back on it, I’m not quite sure that was the best course, especially since it did not make everything go away.” But that’s just my take on it… Anyway, that’s pretty much all you have to do in Hollywood these days, so he’ll be making the talk show rounds after this and everyone will act like everything’s cool.

Lindsay Lohan – Don’t worry, she didn’t harass anyone…yet. What she did, however, was say that the women who came out with #MeToo allegations looked weak. She went on to say that when things of that nature occur, they should be dealt with in the moment, and that they become “real” when you file a police report. Anything other than that is just the work of attention-seekers who are placing folks on trial by social media. Shots fired!

Dave Bautista has been real quiet the past few days, and I’ll tell you why that’s important. You see, when the week started, he stated that he wouldn’t return to film Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 unless Disney promised to use the script that ousted director James Gunn had written. Fans everywhere applauded his resolve, admiring the fact that he was standing behind his friend and colleague. I, however, think it’s stupid to mess with a guaranteed paycheck – especially when you ain’t got the juice! We’re not talking about The Rock or Will Smith here. Shit, we’re not even talking about Chris Pratt. In any of those cases, this would be a different conversation. However, there are THOUSANDS of wrestlers out there with a razor and can of green body paint in hand, just waiting to be tagged in to take his place. I like the guy, and I like the character he plays, but he just doesn’t have the Hollywood clout to be making demands just yet. And Marvel Studios has shown that actors are replaceable (just ask Terrence Howard or Ed Norton). Anyway, reports began trickling out around Wednesday that Disney was, in fact, scrapping Gunn’s script. So, where’s the announcement, Dave? I guess it would give you a good opportunity to step back into the ring for a while.

Meanwhile, there are also rumblings that Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige is on the inside, championing Gunn’s vision for the film. Some outlets are saying he’s trying to keep the script, while others are saying that he’s actually trying to get Gunn rehired in some capacity. It’s been pointed out that the film is supposed to establish the next phase of Marvel films, so it would be sort of shortsighted to scrap it. Also, the way that CBS handled the Les Moonves situation has also changed folks’s minds. You see, Disney acted swiftly to axe Gunn, without investigation, deliberation, yadda yadda yadda. CBS was like, “Eh, we’ll investigate Moonves, but he can still work.” So, it’s kinda like, “Well, if CBS could do that, why couldn’t we?” I’ve seen folks say they won’t see Vol 3 if Disney goes in a different direction, but I don’t believe that.  Folks said the same when Edgar Wright left Ant-Man, and folks still went out of morbid curiosity. And enjoyed it! So, either way, there’ll be a Guardians 3, and folks will go to see it. Whether that film will have Gunn’s fingerprints on it remains to be seen.

In other movie news, there are reports that producers are leaning towards choosing Idris Elba as the next James Bond. And here’s why that’s a bad idea. Look, I love Idris, and I really don’t have that much love for the Bond franchise (my favorite installment is Moonraker, for God’s sake), so this isn’t necessarily in my wheelhouse. Here’s the thing, though: isn’t Bond a SPY? Like, he’s more than just a suave guy who beds dames and shoots people. This is espionage. The places Bond would need to go would sometimes make it somewhat difficult for him to blend in. I know these films require some suspension of disbelief (Hugo Drax somehow had the money to build SIX Moonraker space shuttles AND a secret space station?!), but unless every Idris Bond movie is gonna be a remake of Live and Let Die, and he’s gonna just be chasing Yaphet Kotto the whole time, I don’t see how it’s gonna work. The world is a-changing, but that dog don’t hunt. I think Idris is more than capable of being a great, suave Bond. I just don’t know what backdrop you set him against. I also feel like this is a testament that the world is running out of British actors. I mean, every one’s either been Bond, The Doctor, or on EastEnders. I mean, next they’ll be lobbying for Simon Pegg to take over the role.

In TV news, it’s been announced that The First Purge‘s Joivan Wade will be portraying Cyborg on the Doom Patrol series for the DC Universe streaming service. You know Cyborg – the Teen Titans member who got an undeserved promotion to the Justice League during The New 52? The same guy who was portrayed by Ray Fisher in the Justice League film? So, WHY is he now going to be on Doom Patrol? Reports say that he’s not actually on the team, but rather the one who gathers the team. Still, for a company that was so worried about brand confusion that they removed Deathstroke from the Arrowverse prior to the Suicide Squad movie, I find this to be a perplexing move. Anyway, I have no faith in anything on that service, so they can pretty much do whatever the Hell they want. I’m just here to report the news in my own snarky little way.

The Catfish Bromance is over, as cohost Max Joseph announced that he’s leaving the show. Sure, the show put him on the map, but it’ll survive without him. After all, he missed a chunk of episodes around season 3 while he was filming his movie, and Nev just replaced him with guest hosts. Hell, I watched an episode the other day, and the cohost was Nev’s wife. So, the show will be fine without him. My question is where do they keep finding these people? I mean, the first 2 seasons, I could kinda believe it. By season 3, though, “catfishing” was a known concept, and folks were more vigilant. Somehow, though, they’ve eked out 7 seasons and 115 episodes of this concept. I know “There’s a sucker born every minute”, but damn! Anyway, Joseph got tired of trying to juggle the show with his passion for filmmaking, so he’s going with his passion. His directorial debut was 2015’s We Are Your Friends, starring Zac Efron. That film scored a 40% on Rotten Tomatoes, and was the fourth worst opening film on +2,000 screens of all time. So, Max might not want to lose Nev’s number…

In another interesting TV tidbit, Will Forte joined Vulture Comedy’s Podcast, Good One, where he detailed what would have happened with The Last Man on Earth, had it been renewed. If you saw the fourth season finale, then you know that the gang was surrounded by a bunch of armed folks in masks. Well, these people would’ve been survivors who’s been in a bunker since the virus hit. Over time, the gang would win them over, and eventually be released out of the quarantine the survivors had put them in – which would end up being the death of the survivors, since everyone in the gang is a carrier of the virus. So, we’d be left with the core group again, and maybe one member of the survivors. In a surprising confession, though, Forte admitted that he had no idea how the show would end, which confirmed my feelings that they were just making it up as they went along. It was a cute show, but it really needed an endgame. Long live Phillip Tandy Miller!

Things You Might Have Missed This Week 

  • In an interesting twist, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is recasting the role of Greg for its final season, with Skylar Astin of Pitch Perfect fame. The show plans to lean into the recast, to show how people’s perceptions of others change over time.
  • Kelly Clarkson is filming a pilot for a syndicated daytime talk show, which may fill the hole left in schedules when Harry ends this Fall. I don’t hate this idea, as I could see her filling the role of a Ricki Lake for the ’20s.
  • Speaking of syndicated talk shows, former NBC anchor Tamron Hall is developing a talk show with ABC Studios to potentially debut in 2019.
  • Last week, there were reports that a reboot was in the works for The Facts of Life, and the news was so shocking that it killed Mrs. Garrett. Well, it may have been unrelated, but Charlotte Rae is dead.
  • The Showtime drama Homeland will end after the upcoming 8th season.
  • There will reportedly be an 18-month time jump when The Walking Dead returns next season.
  • While it was believed that the show was winding down, CBS reported this week that there are talks to renew The Big Bang Theory for a 13th season. “There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
  • It was reported that the villain for the Birds of Prey film will most likely be Batman villain Black Mask.
  • Speaking of DC Films Nobody Wants, Warner Bros is reportedly developing a Supergirl film.
  • Jean-Ralphio is about to go upside Eggman’s head, as it was announced that Ben Schwartz would be voicing Sonic The Hedgehog in the upcoming film.
  • David Schwimmer will be recurring next season on Will & Grace as Grace’s love interest. David LOVES those NBC checks!
  • Denise Richards will be joining the cast of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills next season. I hope one of those catty bitches asks her about her weird tits. I remember everyone loved that scene from Wild Things, but those things looked off!
  • Even though Kenya Barris has jumped ship from ABC Studios, his shows are staying put, and Grown-ish will return to Freeform in January.
  • Sex sells, but bitter divorce sells even better! This is why HGTV has renewed Flip or Flop for a 15-episode 8th season.
  • To prove that everyone is out of ideas and really just cashing their checks at this point, a TV show is in development based on the 2006 Plain White T’s hit “Hey There Delilah”. If you don’t remember it, it was a shitty song. If you ever get bored, Google it, because the story behind it is kinda crazy. I mean, Delilah is a real person, and had a boyfriend at the time this random ass dude wrote a song about her.

  • Shaun Weiss, who played Goldberg in The Mighty Ducks, has apparently fallen on hard times, as he was arrested over the weekend for public intoxication under the influence of drugs. Here’s hoping the “knuckle puck” doesn’t mean something entirely different behind bars…
  • Orange Is The New Black actress Ruby Rose has been cast as the Arrowverse’s Batwoman. She will first appear in this season’s crossover, with a potential solo series to follow.
  • Apparently Sony refers to their Spider-Man Universe films as the “Sony Universe of Marvel Characters”, or SUMC. Not that “DCEU” or “MCU” are that great, but SUMC doesn’t really roll off the tongue. Sounds like a shitty college. Southern Utah Mechanical College. “Yeah, my brother in law learned HVAC at SUMC.”
  • Speaking of the SUMC, the Silver Sable/Black Cat team-up movie, Silver & Black, has been scrapped and will now be TWO movies, each focused on one of the pair. ‘Cause why have ONE pile of shit when you can have TWO? Director Gina Prince-Bythewood is expected to depart, but will still get a producer credit on both films.

  • We got this promo pic from the live action Dora the Explorer film. This just looks…wrong. She’s too old!
  • There’s an interesting story that Marvel Chairman Ike Perlmutter has been secretly advising the Department of Veteran Affairs for the Trump Administration. Keep in mind that Perlmutter has NO military service under his belt. Yeah, it’s crazy, but it could also mean we’re one step closer to getting a real life Super Soldier Serum!
  • THEY KILLED LUIGI!
  • Samuel L. Jackson and Cobie Smulders will be reprising their roles as Nick Fury and Maria Hill in Spider-Man: Far From Home.
  • The West Hollywood City Council unanimously voted to remove Donald Trump’s star from the Hollywood Walk of Fame, but they played themselves because the decision to do such a thing is actually up to the City of Los Angeles, as well as the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. And the Chamber of Commerce has refused to remove the stars of disgraced celebrities, like Bill Cosby, because they consider the Walk a history landmark, and have never removed a star. Anyway, in a show of solidarity for Trump, a group calling themselves “The Faction” placed 50 vinyl stars bearing Trump’s name along the Walk Thursday morning.
  • Several changes to the Oscars were announced, including sticking to a 3-hour runtime by awarding “lesser” categories during commercial breaks, and the creation of the Outstanding Achievement In Popular Film award, which is pretty much basically “The award for the movies you’ve actually seen.”

I never thought I’d see this day, but here it is: over the weekend, Patrick Stewart announced that he would be returning to the role of Jean-Luc Picard in a Star Trek series for CBS All Access.

I was dumbfounded. I swore I’d never get CBS All Access because I hate the idea of paying for Star Trek outside of a theater, but this just might do it.

There was an interesting comment thread on a Facebook post I made about this, where I said that come Monday, we would all find out that Stewart is senile and we were all being punked. It got into a discussion about how Discovery just doesn’t feel right to some fans, and someone else chimed in that TRUE Trek fans like Discovery and know that it’s a great product. I wasn’t really expecting the gatekeeping there, but I was listening. He went on to say that he didn’t mind paying for All Access because to him, it’s akin to paying for HBO for Game of Thrones. He didn’t mind paying for premium shows like that. And I start thinking about that for a bit. Do I want a big budget, “premium” Star Trek?

Sure, there are folks who will tell you they do, but I always felt there was something about the UHF syndicated/UPN budgets that made those iterations of Trek special. I’ve never been a fan of The Original Series, but I was raised on The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine (both syndicated), and I cautiously avoided Voyager and Enterprise (which, based on UPN’s pockets, might as well have had syndicated budgets). I feel like they made do with what they had, and it’s not like the weaknesses showed. Sure, the production values for the first 3 seasons of TNG are basically as lame as those from TOS, but they found their groove, and started really understanding how to use their resources. So, does more money mean a better Star Trek? I’m not sure that’s true, and I still feel like CBS is fleecing fans by putting this on All Access. I know concepts like “fairness” seem a bit childish when talking about business matters, but it doesn’t seem fair.

Anyway, I guess they’re giving me what I wanted. I’ve been wanting them to stop with the reboots and prequels, and finally tell us what happened to the Federation after the Dominion War. Sadly, too much time has now passed since those events that we won’t get to witness the Reconstruction phase I was looking forward to seeing. I also thought we were done with Picard. I mean, I love the character, and he’s certainly MY captain over Kirk, but I was kinda fine with where Nemesis left him. Sure, it wasn’t a fitting ending, but there’s a whole galaxy out there, and I was looking forward to learning more about it. The fact that they’re bringing back Stewart is fan service to the umpteenth degree, but it also makes me scared that this show is just going to be a revolving door of cameos from TNG folks. I fear it’ll be Fuller House In Space, as this week wacky Will Riker shows up to lend a hand. Sure, it’d be nice to catch up with a lot of those characters (especially B4), but I don’t need it to be crammed into the story. It should be organic.

I’m glad they’re not referring to him as Captain right now, as that could mean a multitude of things. Did he finally get promoted to Admiral? I mean, Janeway got her crew lost, got most of them killed, banded together with the enemy, and still got a promotion the minute she got back. Picard’s more than earned one, though we know he didn’t want a commission that would take him off the bridge of a starship. Still, 20 years have passed. Maybe he’s in a different place. Or maybe he’s not even in Starfleet anymore. They’ve shown that you can pretty much come and go as you please when it comes to Starfleet, so maybe some old threat, like DaiMon Bok, brings him out of retirement. So, maybe he’s back on his family’s vineyard, and we get a recreation of that Farpoint scene, as he’s being taken to see the new Enterprise-G (the F would’ve probably been decommissioned by then). Or maybe he’s dealing with the Space Alzheimers from “All Good Things”. There are a lot of possibilities, and I’m always excited about new Star Trek. I just don’t wanna have to pay for it.

In any case, this was the kind of announcement that would normally break the Internet, had it not come out on a Saturday afternoon. So, for that, Patrick Stewart had the West Week Ever.

03rd Aug2018

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 8/3/18

by Will

These things just get later and later, huh? Well, blame my job! In any case, let’s jump right on into today’s topics, shall we?

HarassmentWatch(TM)

Les Moonves – The current chairman, president, and CEO of CBS Corporation is under investigation after 6 women have come forward with sexual harassment allegations that go back decades. The situation is even dicier since his wife is Julie Chen, who also works for the network as host of Big Brother, as well as a co-host of The Talk. Chen issued a statement defending her husband, but his alma mater, Bucknell University, has removed all mention of him from their website, and USC has suspended his name from their media center. He continues to work while the investigation proceeds.

Kimberly Guilfoyle – I find it interesting that this story isn’t getting more attention than it is. Guilfoyle, who is also the current girlfriend of Donald Trump Jr, quietly left her job at Fox News last week amidst a misconduct investigation. Reportedly, she would show coworkers pictures of male genitalia, and tell stories about who the men were in the pictures. Also, she was allegedly abusive to makeup and wardrobe people, and also used them for personal events. This was the result of a yearlong investigation, and since Fox tends to prefer having folks resign or retire rather than fire them, they allowed it to appear that she left on her own terms.

Guilfoyle was a protege of Roger Ailes, even going as far as attacking Gretchen Carlson when she accused Ailes of sexual harassment. Since Ailes’s death, however, things have started to change for Guilfoyle. Once the rumored frontrunner to replace White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, Guilfoyle found herself being passed over for the same opportunities given to her fellow co-hosts of The Five. She allegedly lobbied directly to Rupert Murdoch himself to save her job, but it was of no use. Now she’s expected to join the Trumps on the campaign trail.

Nick Carter Update – Melissa Schuman, formerly of the pop group Dream, previously accused the Backstreet Boy of raping her when she was 18. The matter has now been referred to the Los Angeles District Attorney for possible charges filed.

Chris Hardwick Update – Following AMC’s lead, NBC has announced that Hardwick will return to host the 3rd season of game show The Wall. On top of that, he will also serve as a guest judge on next week’s episode of America’s Got Talent. I think #MeToo might be over, y’all…

James Gunn Update – After Gunn’s abrupt firing last week, due to old incendiary tweets being brought to light, the Guardians of the Galaxy cast and crew have stood behind him, and released the following statement:

 

I used to watch a bunch of standup specials, since that’s about 40% of what Netflix’s catalog is comprised of. I haven’t seen too many lately, but the wife and I did watch Iliza Shlesinger’s Elder Millennial this week. I’ve liked Iliza since she was the smartass, tank-top wearing host of the dating show Excused, but I’ve never really loved entire specials by her. She’s funny, she’s got good timing, but I always feel like she should’ve graduated to being a comedic actress by now instead of staying on the stage. I reviewed her special War Paint back in the day, and a lot of the criticisms I had then I still have today. The overall set isn’t that strong, and what’s with the weird animal noises? I think she’s a cool chick, but only, maybe, three jokes actually made me laugh out loud. I think this is one you can skip.

So Nickelodeon surprised us all by uploading the premiere episode of Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to YouTube. I watched it, and, it’s a TV show. That’s about all I can say. I mean, a lot of folks my age went into this show prepared to hate it, ’cause old dudes just can’t let shit go. That said, I think I went into it with a pretty open mind. The things that I thought would bother me weren’t so bad. Raph as the leader is different, but it helps that he’s not that good at it, so maybe this could be considered a prequel to the TMNT stuff we’re used to. Don is still the tech guy, so that gives me a nice sense of comfort. I haven’t really gotten used to Leo as the jokester yet, and I don’t know what to make of “artsy” Mikey. Lazy, couch potato Splinter is also different. The animation isn’t that crisp, and something about it made me think of a webseries. I mean, it’d be a decent webseries, but still “not quite ready for TV”. I almost expected it to stick to the modern cartoon runtime of 11-15 minutes, as I really don’t like looking at these designs for a 22-minute span of time. It’s not that they’re “ugly”, but they’re so “choppy”.

To give you an idea of what the episode is about, we’re introduced to the Turtles as they get their weapons destroyed by some mysterious henchmen who are after some kinda mystical dog creature. Their pal, April, ends up being abducted by the henchmen and taken to another realm. The Turtles find a way to follow her, gain new mystical weapons, and fight John Cena. Something like that. Again, it was OK, but I highly doubt it’ll be “destination television” for me.

I know folks don’t want to say it, so I’ll be the one who does: I hate April. She’s Black now, which is whatever. Representation matters. I don’t hate her because of that. I hate her because she’s just all over the place. Sometimes she’s trying to have some weird NYC accent, and others she’s not. She’s not a grounding force for them, but rather as reckless as (and possibly moreso than) the Turtles. She’s impetuous, and just kind of annoying. I’ve heard a few reviews from folks who I know were dancing around that issue, since they probably don’t wanna be labeled “racist” for not liking her. Let’s just say it: she sucks.

At the end of the day, kids will love it, and that’s what matters. I hope it sells a shit ton of toys, and I’ll check back in when it’s rebooted again in 6 years.

Normally this would’ve gone in the Things You Might Have Missed area, but this just deserved its own blurb. The Fox drama 9-1-1 had cast Buffy vet Charisma Carpenter in a guest role for an episode this season, but the episode has been scrapped by censors. Ya see, she’d play a woman whose Viagra-popping lover dies while he’s…inside her. At the time of his heart attack, there’s some vaginal clamping going on, so he’s stuck inside her, dead, hence why she’d need 911. Apparently it’s a real occurrence called penis captivus. Anyway, Fox’s Standards & Practices decided that the storyline was too “R-rated” to make it to air, so they plan to bring Carpenter back in another role later.

It’s the 25th anniversary of Power Rangers, so that means anniversary team-up episode! And it ain’t an anniversary throwback if original Green/White Ranger Tommy Oliver isn’t involved. This week, actor Jason David Frank revealed that he, along with Catherine Sutherland (Zeo Pink) and Jason Faunt (Time Force Red), would be participating in the episode. Nickelodeon announced that the special episode of Power Rangers Super Ninja Steel will air during prime time, at 8 PM, on August 28th – exactly 25 years since the airing of the premiere episode of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, “Day of the Dumpster”.

The Trailer Park

Forever

We got the first trailer for this Fred Armisen & Maya Rudolph show, which is coming to Amazon Prime next month. Um, I don’t know what to make of this one. It looks like something that would be on Adult Swim, and not in a good way. I never watch anything on Prime, though, so I’ll never see it.

Maniac

After sitting on the shelf for two years, we get a trailer for Netflix’s Maniac, starring Jonah Hill and Emma Stone as two people caught in a bad pharmaceutical experiment. Why does Skinny Jonah Hill look so miserable? Let the man eat! Let the man be fat!

Iron Fist

Speaking of Netflix, we also got a teaser for Iron Fist season 2, which premieres next month. I am SO behind on those MCU Netflix shows, so one of y’all will have to tell me if it’s any good or not.

Venom

This just looks so uninspired. People are quick to say “You just want everything to be like the MCU”, but that’s not true. There’s room for diverse projects in the marketplace, but this looks like a 1996 movie with 2018 special effects.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • Even though NBC cancelled time traveling show Timeless a second time, it was announced that there will be a wrap-up, TV movie finale next season.
  • Stranger Things season 3 has reportedly been pushed back to Summer 2019, as the season will contain more special effects that previous seasons.
  • It seems like all the SNL folks are getting streaming shows, as Aidy Bryant’s Shrill has just been picked up by Hulu. Based on Lindy West’s memoir Shrill: Notes From A Loud Woman, the logline is “a fat young woman who wants to change her life – but not her body”. Apparently the shooting schedule won’t require her to leave SNL.
  • Having already tried the series without Jack Bauer, now Fox is in the preliminary stages of developing a 24 prequel, focused on a young Jack Bauer. I hope they call it 12, and that’s how young he truly is in the show. He’d be taking down terrorists with a Super Soaker and Nerf guns.
  • Supergirl to the bridge! It’s reported that Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s Mr. Data himself, Brent Spiner, will join Supergirl next season as the Vice President.
  • In another case of the MCU beating the DCEU, Anthony Mackie (Falcon) will be taking over the lead in Netflix’s Altered Carbon from Joel Kinnaman (Suicide Squad‘s Rick Flagg) next season.
  • As previously rumored, Black-ish creator Kenya Barris is leaving his production deal with ABC Studios. This has reportedly been brewing ever since the network scrapped his episode about the NFL kneeling protests, but it’s also been rumored that Netflix has offered him a NINE-FIGURE deal. He’ll step down as showrunner of Black-ish, but remain an executive producer on all his ABC/Freeform shows.
  • An ALF reboot is reportedly in development at Warner Bros. One potential idea is that the show would follow ALF as he emerges from Area 51, where he’s been held captive since the finale of the 80s series. He would, then, have to deal with how much the world has changed.
  • The cast list for Star Wars: Episode IX was released, and everybody you expect to be on it is on it.
  • Fresh off the cancellation of The Mick, Kaitlin Olson has just been cast as Leah Remini’s lesbian wife in an untitled pilot for Fox, brought to you buy the guys behind It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
  • MoviePass shat the bed when it ran out of money to actually pay for tickets. The service quickly regrouped, and now costs more money, with access to fewer popular movies. Um…

My good buddy ShowNuffDaKing has launched the M.A.G. Nerd Podcast for any of y’all interested in music, anime, and/or video games. Of course you should listen to every episode, but he and his cohost, Ghost, really hit their stride on episode 3. Check in weekly because you’re bound to learn something new. I certainly always do! It’s available on Stitcher, SoundCloud, and everywhere else you get that podcast goodness for your ears.

Speaking of podcasts, as a member of the Nerd Lunch Fourth Chair Army, I was drafted into this week’s Fourth Army Invasion to discuss season 1 of The Dukes of Hazzard. As I mention in the episode, I was a big fan of the Cars Jumping Over Shit genre of TV (Knight Rider, The Fall Guy, etc), and I grew up watching this show in syndication. Let’s just say that I had an entirely different impression of it upon this rewatch. I had a wonderful time discussing it with Spidey004, BizarroJimmyOlsen, and Michael May. If you’ve ever seen the show or the movie, you’re going to want to check out this Dukescussion because it’s quite the deep dive.

 

I’m not a sports guy. I think you can pretty much get that from this site. So, I don’t really weigh into things like “Who’s the greatest player of all time?” debates. That said, I know the major players in most sports, so I’m certainly familiar with LeBron James. People are constantly asking “LeBron or Jordan?” and to me the answer was always easy: LeBron, ’cause he never seemed like a colossal asshole like Jordan. This week, however, something else pushed LeBron just ahead of MJ.

This week, LeBron opened the I Promise School in his hometown of Akron, OH, in an attempt to the city’s at-risk K-12 population. Based on something of a charter school model (some of the aspects actually inspired by the charter network I work for), the school will feature longer school days, a non-traditional school year, and a STEM-influenced curriculum. The school, however, is neither charter nor private, as LeBron was insistent that it work within the Akron school system instead apart from it. The school opened this week with 240 students, spread over third and fourth grades, adding second and fifth grades next year, and expand to 8th grade by 2022. The school will also provide GED services for parents, a food bank, and other resources to help the community. Also, because LeBron used to ride his bike to leave the dangers of his neighborhood and go exploring, every student at the school will receive a bicycle on the first day of school.

I don’t know about stats on the court, but I do know education. Having worked on the data side in the charter sector for nearly the past decade, I can completely respect what he’s doing. I know some folks take issue with these “maverick” approaches to education, but in a lot of cases the “old ways” just don’t work anymore. School systems are low on money, teachers are overworked. Sometimes you just need to inject change. And yes, some of these schools end up sucking just like the neighborhood public school would’ve sucked, but at least the folks tried. In any case, for opening the ambitious I Promise School, as the 29th elementary school in the Akron school district, LeBron James had the West Week Ever.

27th Jul2018

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 7/27/18

by Will

Well, this is a special week here at WilliamBruceWest.com, as it commemorates my FIFTEENTH year of blogging. Yeah, a lot of y’all just came aboard during the West Week Ever era, but the archives are there (personally, I wouldn’t check anything before 2007 or so, but that’s just me). I started blogging a month after I graduated from college, while I was temping in the Cornell registrar’s office. It’s funny because, about six months prior to that, I had no clue what a “blog” was. You’ve got to remember that these were the days before social media, and we got by with AIM. I’d heard folks met strangers through ICQ and chat rooms, but that made no sense to me. Then, while my a cappella group was updating their website, one member suggested we add a blog to the site. I remember I immediately said, “What’s a blog? Stop making up words, Ted!” He explained it was short for “weblog”, and said some more stuff, but we stopped listening at that point. Probably too busy shoving Gold Bond powder down our pants. What? Y’all never did that? Whatever. Don’t judge me!

Anyway, I was really bored at that temp job, and needed something to make the day more interesting. Prior to this point, I had never really spent much time on the internet. I had an AOL trial with dial-up for, like, a month in high school, and I think I had tried NetZero. We had Computers as a class in high school, and I remember I made a really shitty Power Rangers site on AngelFire or something. Still, in college, I had used the Internet to either do homework or illegally download music. I did a LOT of the latter. So, with a college degree in my hand, and boredom in my heart, I struck out and explored the Internet for what it was. I started finding sites that really engaged me – webcomics, like PvP, and nostalgia sites like X-Entertainment.com (the precursor to what’s now Dinosaur Dracula). The latter site really sort of lit a fire under me, as I could relate to so many of the posts. It was like the Robot Chicken of blogs: “Shark Bites, Fruit By The Foot, and Pogs – these are all things that existed!” Plus, and I think Matt (the site creator) would agree, it had a horrible archive/search function, so you kind had to fall down a rabbit hole, jumping from article to article, instead of being able to search the topics. I spent a LOT of time on X-Entertainment, and it started to show me the potential of blogging.

So, in a way to pass the time, I signed up for a Blogger account, and created The World According To A Russian Exchange Student. I’m not quite sure why I settled on that. While I was an exchange student to Russia when I was 13, that would’ve made me an American exchange student. I feel like I briefly wanted to do some kind of performance art thing where I’d imagine how my Russian host, Sergei, might look at the world. That lasted for maybe a day. At the end of the day, I think I just wanted something that sounded “haughty”. I’ve got a bit of a snob streak in me, and here I was, an Ivy League graduate who’d been spoon fed that the world would be mine, yet  didn’t have a clue what I’d be doing when this temp assignment ended. I was scared. So, I rambled. A LOT. I’d say that if you read the first 6-8 years (yes, years), I wrote like no one was reading. Because no one was. The site was basically a Livejournal without the stigma that Livejournal brought with it. Every now and then I’d post something that I thought would be timeless, but most of those posts are either relationship drama or self pity. Yay. Anyway, I rebranded to WilliamBruceWest.com rather quickly, but I don’t feel like the site really found its footing until the West Week Ever days. So, here we are. Anyway, from the bottom of my heart, thank you – all of you – who have taken the time to read my ramblings at some point over those 15 years.

The wife and I got the chance to see Atlanta‘s Lakeith Stanfield in Sorry To Bother You, and we left that theater like “What the fuuuuu…?” How to describe this movie? Is it a comedy? Is it satire? Science fiction? I guess you’ll have to be the judge if you see it. Stanfield stars as a down on his luck guy who lands a job as a telemarketer, and he doesn’t really have much success until he starts using his “White voice” at the suggestion of a coworker. Almost immediately his success increases, and he becomes a Power Caller, where instead of selling Time-Life books and encyclopedias, he’s now selling weapons and slaves to other countries. And that’s where shit gets CRAZY! I can’t say any more at this point without spoiling some twists. The movie reminded me a lot of Bamboozled, which was a 2000 Spike Lee Joint about a Black TV writer who sort of sells out in order to make his network successful, with a dash of Mike Judge’s Idiocracy. If either of those movies is your cup of tea, then check this out. “Equesapiens, let’s be out!”

HarassmentWatch(TM)

Chris Hardwick Update:  Late last week, it was announced that not only would Yvette Nicole Brown be taking over hosting Hardwick’s panels at SDCC, but she would also be hosting Talking Dead for a brief period. On Wednesday, however, AMC announced that Hardwick would be returning to the show, after an internal month-long investigation. Two things are odd about the investigation, however. First of all, his accuser, ex-girlfriend Chloe Dykstra, did not participate in the investigation, as she said she “didn’t believe in ‘an eye for an eye’.” In a statement she said that she never set out to ruin his career, though she still doesn’t name him.  The other odd thing is that the investigation seemingly wasn’t conducted by an impartial third party. Instead, Loeb & Loeb was hired, who reportedly have a history of working on business for the Hearst family (who happen to be Hardwick’s in-laws). He may have his job back, but is the stink off of him? Remember how folks shunned Seacrest at the Oscars? Will the geek crowd follow suit here?

James Gunn: This isn’t harassment, per se, but it’s still an inappropriate thing that got a celeb in hot water. You see, Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn came up through the ranks of Troma – ya know, the folks behind The Toxic Crusader? He says he was a different guy at that time of his life, but to fit in with that world, you’ve got to be kinda shocking. Everything you do is done for shock value, and that’s exactly what he did when he was tweeting back in 2009. Stuff like rape and pedophilia jokes. He has since apologized for that time in his life, but that didn’t matter when Right Wing muckraker Mike Cernovich dub up the old tweets as something of a retaliation for Gunn’s staunch anti-Trump stance. Well, Disney reacted swiftly by firing Gunn from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3. And there was much weeping and gnashing of teeth. The public seems to be on Gunn’s side, saying Disney knew what they were getting, and that he had apologized long before the tweets resurfaced. There’s a petition circulating to get him rehired.

What Disney did was a business decision, as they can’t have something like this in the news just as the Fox deal is about to go through. Shareholders don’t tend to like rape jokes. That said, I’m sort of on the fence for this.

On the one hand, the stuff I’ve seen was kind of messed up, and I’m not sure I’d call them “funny”. Why not just delete the tweets? I mean, sure, everything is archived somewhere, but at least you tried to scrub things clean. I get it, though. I have an “I don’t delete tweets” policy, but I’ve never tweeted anything that bad. Cover your tracks, man!

On the other hand, he did apologize before they even became a thing. Had Disney done their due diligence, none of this would’ve come as a surprise. And I hate the fact that he won’t get to see his vision through to the finished GOTG trilogy. I really doubt he’ll be rehired, as he was fired and not suspended pending an investigation. Disney will likely stick by their decision, but this will have long-reaching effects. For example, Star Wars director Rian Johnson reportedly deleted 20,000 tweets over the weekend.

The Trailer Park

Last weekend was San Diego Comic-Con, which means we got a LOT of trailers for upcoming geek films. Since we’ve got a slew of them, I figured I’d give them their own section this week.

SHAZAM!

I really didn’t expect to like this. I thought the casting of Zachary Levi was wrong, and I just didn’t know how it would fit into the pre-established DCEU. That said, after seeing this trailer, this has the potential to be my favorite DCEU film. It seems to be more based on the New 52 origin of the character, which is just fine for me because that was one of the first times that I actually cared about the character (which reminds me I need to finish that story Geoff Johns started when they were backups in the Justice League comic). At the end of the day, it’s just “Big with powers”, which is a concept that has a lot of potential. Fans of the dark DCEU are gonna hate this, but I’m a fan of comic stuff that doesn’t take itself too seriously. I’m really looking forward to this one now.

Aquaman

Well, it looks pretty. I still don’t know if Momoa can carry a movie yet, and I’m not sure I’m on board with this Aquaman. I know there are Aquaman fans out there (looking at you, Classick), so how do y’all feel about his characterization? I mean, it doesn’t seem faithful to the comics, but Aquaman always seemed boring enough that any adjustment would be a welcome change. I’ll see it. Am I anticipating it? No, but I’ll see it.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters

I’m not a dumb guy. Not the smartest in the room, but not dumb. That said, I don’t know what’s going on here. So we want the Titans to rise? Wouldn’t they just come and fuck shit up? And whose side is Godzilla on? And I know folks got tired of the “slowed down pop song” trope in trailers, but I feel like the music here really doesn’t do much to convey the gist of things, and could’ve benefited from recognizable rock song or something.

Glass

I really liked Unbreakable all those years ago. Split was interesting, but I was more interested in it after its final scene. I think I was more excited about more Unbreakable than the idea of the movies being in a shared universe. It seems like a good ol’ villain team-up, but can old ass Bruce Willis really win here? I mean, comic movies are about folks doing the impossible, but I never really felt like Split committed to James McAvoy’s character being truly evil. Hell, even Mr. Glass was pseudo-sympathetic, as he couldn’t have a normal life due to his brittle bones. So who’s the real villain here? Is there a bigger bad? Is Willis somehow the villain? After all, this is Shyamalan, so there’s bound to be a swerve somewhere. I’m on board, but I kinda want more information right now.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • Reportedly Kelsey Grammer is in talks to reprise his role as Frasier Crane in a revival that would take him away from the Seattle setting of the last show. Sure, why not? I think he’s got crazy alimony payments, and has pretty much proven he’ll take any job (he did an FX sitcom with Martin Lawrence). Everyone else is doing it, so why not go back to that well again?
  • Speaking of revivals, there have been talks of a Buffy The Vampire Slayer reboot/revival(?). At first it seemed like a reboot, but the passionate fan base lost their shit, so showrunner Monica Owusu-Breen sort of backpedaled and insinuated it might be a continuation of the old show, this time following a new Slayer 20 years after the events of the old show. Reports are that they’re looking to cast a Black actress.
  • Demi Lovato was hospitalized for an apparent overdose after she was found unconscious in bed by an assistant.
  • Simpsons Comics is scheduled to end in October with issue #245 after 25 years of publication, leaving the future of its publisher, Bongo Comics, in question.
  • It turns out the third time was the charm, as the live action adaptation of the comic Locke & Key has received a 10-episode order from Netflix. Both Fox and Hulu had previously ordered, and then passed on, pilots for the series.
  • Robert DeNiro is supposedly in talks to join Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker, with the rest of the world left asking “Dafuq?” Seriously, why would he hitch his star to that wagon?
  • R. Kelly released the song “I Admit”, where he denied he was a pedophile, but admitted his affinity for young girls. The song will probably appear on an upcoming album named Daddy’s Day Care or The Pamper Prince or some shit like that.

My most anticipated movie of the year wasn’t Deadpool 2, Ant-Man and the Wasp, or even Avengers: Infinity War (OK, maybe I was kinda looking forward to that last one). No, since the day I found out it was happening, I have been waiting for the release of Teen Titans Go! To The Movies. I’ve made no secret of the fact that, aside from The Amazing World of Gumball (which may just be the smartest show on TV right now, I kid you not), Teen Titans Go! is my favorite show. It took me a while to get used to the modern day 11-minute cartoon format, but I feel it works perfectly for a show like this. So, I had a bit of trepidation that the show wouldn’t translate well to a full-length film. After all, Aqua Teen Hunger Force had tried it and failed. Well, after seeing it last night, I can say that not only did they pull it off, but they did an amazing job.

If you were wondering what it’s about, let me clue ya in: When Batman and Superman receive their umpteenth movie deal, Robin agonizes over the fact that he doesn’t have his own movie because nobody takes the Teen Titans seriously. It’s sort of meta in that way, as it addresses the fact that the shows haters feel the characters are just immature and not very heroic. So, determined to prove they deserve a DC film, too, the team heads to Hollywood, where they learn they’d be more appealing if they had their own archnemesis. Enter: Slade Wilson, otherwise known as Deathstroke: The Terminator. So, the team not only has to defeat Slade, but also convince the studio to make their movie.

It’s not a complicated plot, but they do so much with it. First of all, I didn’t expect it to be a musical. While songs have been pretty integral to the Teen Titans Go! experience, I didn’t stop to think they might pop up in the film. The music is GREAT, including a surprise appearance by Michael Bolton. Speaking of surprise appearances, there are cameos from a lot of DC characters who will NEVER appear on film ever again. I mean, The Challengers of the Unknown?! And did I mention the time travel? Like, I loved the time travel portion so much that I hope they dedicate a sequel solely to it.

Now, let me say that this movie isn’t going to convert you if you already hate the franchise. I know there are a lot of butthurt folks out there who go “They cancelled Young Justice for THAT?”, even though those decisions were made independently of each other. If you don’t go into it with too many preconceived notions, and you like comic-based properties that don’t take themselves too seriously, then Teen Titans Go! is perfect. And it’s not really even made for kids. I mean, sure, they’ll get enjoyment out of it, but there are jokes they’d never get. For example, a recent episode, “TV Knight 3”, featured a Knight Rider parody. That joke right there was for my generation. So it saddens me that so many folks refuse to give it a chance. Anyway, this film may not change many minds, but it’s a true love letter to fans of the show. It’s the show, but cranked up to 11, with crisper animation and longer runtime. It actually has a good story arc to it, it has some great Easter eggs, and the music!

Anyway, I enjoyed this film way more than I did Ant-Man and the Wasp last week, and it far surpassed my expectations. For that reason, Teen Titans Go! To The Movies had the West Week Ever.

20th Jul2018

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 7/20/18

by Will

I’m slowly catching up on the year’s big movies. I still haven’t gotten to Deadpool 2, but I finally caught Ant-Man and the Wasp last night. Unlike most MCU films, I don’t really have a lot to say about it. All in all, I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t great. I’ve always said that Ant-Man felt like a really good Fox Marvel film, but just a par Marvel Studios film. It’s a masterpiece compared to the X-Men/Fantastic Four films, but it really almost doesn’t even earn its place alongside movies like The Winter Soldier or Guardians of the Galaxy. You’re almost left wondering “How are these movies in the same universe?”, but I guess that’s a testament to how tonally different the corners of the Marvel Universe are. Anyway, I enjoyed the palette cleanser that was Ant-Man and the Wasp, as I’m almost “Marveled Out” after Infinity War.

The film explores the almost throwaway line from Infinity War about how Scott Lang took a house arrest deal after the events of Captain America: Civil War. So, two years have passed, and Scott’s “3 days from retirement”, basically, when it comes to his sentence. As anyone who’s seen any movie ever knows, no upcoming deadline that close ever goes smoothly. The Pyms drag him back into their world, as they need his knowledge of the subatomic quantum world to help them rescue Janet Van Dyne, who they believe is still alive after 30 years in there. Some stuff happens, Laurence Fishburne shows up wearing a swede jacket. Hannah John-Kamen shows off her Biracial Resting Bitch Face that served her so well as F’nale in Ready Player One, and everyone lives happily ever after. Or do they?

Watching this movie gave me the same sort of feelings I had watching Pitch Perfect 3 last week. In both cases, I kept waiting for the movie to “take off”, so to speak. Despite a scene with Giant-Man, I feel the movie doesn’t really aspire to new heights and, like its predecessor, came off like a mundane, slice of life MCU film. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it does leave me longing for more interactions between Lang and, say, Tony Stark or Thor, just to remind me that these folks do occupy the same space. Paul Rudd is at his Paul Ruddest, so he’s not the problem here. Evangeline Lilly has become his badass asskicker, but where did that come from? She was busting out Black Widow moves, yet without the history of Red Room training.

No, I felt the biggest disappointment was Michael Peña’s Luis, who was undoubtedly the breakout star of the first movie. They found the right balance for using him in that first film, but they weren’t able to recapture that magic here. Maybe it’s because we expected the same shtick from him instead of accepting the character’s growth. I also hope the Blu Ray includes some deleted scenes of T.I. and the Russian dude, as I feel they were sorely wasted in their roles as partners in the X-Con Security business.

In all, it was an enjoyable way to spend 2 hrs, but I wasn’t blown away by it. Paul Rudd is just so likable, that I know I’ll watch it whenever I come across it on FX, but until some of its plot points are explored more in-depth in Avengers 4 (because you KNOW they will be), I don’t think this movie did much to move the MCU forward. After something like Infinity War, however, maybe it’s just what we need right now.

I’m gonna say this once, and then move on because there’s no need to dwell on it. That said, I’m pretty much done with professional wrestling for the foreseeable future. You see, over the weekend, WWE reinstated Terry “Hulk Hogan” Bollea to the WWE Hall of Fame, after his removal in 2015 when recordings of his racist remarks surfaced during the Gawker sex tape kerfuffle. I’ve heard folks defend him the past 3 years, using everything from “Everyone deserves a second chance” to “Well, it was a private conversation that we weren’t meant to hear.” Whatever.

I will say THIS: WWE never should’ve reinstated him BECAUSE they never should’ve removed him in the first place. I say that because it was always clearly an empty gesture – one we ALL knew would never stick permanently. So, it became more of an exercise in “waiting for the other shoe to drop” than actually serving as a cautionary tale to anyone else who might do the same thing. The heat was on the company, and they felt they had to jump and do something, but even they knew they bit off more than they could chew. You can’t just scrub the most famous professional wrestler of the past 40 years from existence, even if he did admit “I am racist”, which he did. You also can’t walk back that statement, which he’s been trying to do for the past 3 years.

If he had tried to go with “I was drunk, and I don’t really talk like that”, I wouldn’t have believed him, but it would’ve at least been an excuse that made sense. Hell, even Roseanne’s Ambien excuse was an attempt. No, here’s Hogan’s whole quote from the recordings:

“I don’t know if Brooke was fucking the black guy’s son. I mean, I don’t have double standards. I mean, I am a racist, to a point, fucking niggers. But then when it comes to nice people and shit, and whatever.”

“I mean, I’d rather if she was going to fuck some nigger, I’d rather have her marry an 8-foot-tall nigger worth a hundred million dollars! Like a basketball player!”

“I guess we’re all a little racist. Fucking nigger.”

Reportedly, when he spoke to the talent backstage after being reinstated, he reminded them to be careful of what they say because you never know when you’re being recorded. This is not a man who’s sorry for what he did. He’s already said he’s racist. No, this is a man who’s sorry he GOT CAUGHT. And I don’t have time for that.

WWE has a history of trying to polish turds, whether it’s this situation, or it’s their embrace of Ronda Rousey, who’s something of a transphobic Sandy Hook truther. Maybe you can separate the art from the artist, but I can’t – especially when the art is throwing someone through a particleboard table. In my mind, they’re not contributing enough to society, or to “art”, to turn a blind eye on their other shit. People love to go to stuff like “Well, Martin Luther King cheated on his wife.” OK. So did Ric Flair. Only one of them marched for my right to vote, however.

In a lot of ways, I feel sorry for Hogan. I feel sorry that, given the Gawker trial, he should be wealthy. Not just rich, but wealthy. However, he’ll never see a penny of that, as it was juts a symbolic victory. I felt bad for him when his dumbass son turned his friend into a vegetable. I felt bad for him when his wife left him as the money dried up. Like most children of the 80s, I saw him as more myth than man.  So, here we’ve got a 64 year old man with no other prospects than to tie on his bandana one last time, and hope his rickety knees can manage as he climbs between the ropes into that ring. But, maybe that’s what life comes down to when you’re a self-admitted racist. So, in closing, FUCK HULK HOGAN.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • That beacon of family values herself, Bristol Palin, will be replacing promiscuous-teen-turned-porn-star Farrah Abraham on the next season of MTV’s Teen Mom.
  • Alice Eve will be portraying Typhoid Mary in the second season of Marvel’s Iron Fist, debuting September 7th on Netflix. If you’re not familiar with her, she’s the blonde with the gratuitous underwear scene from Star Trek Into Darkness. Or the gratuitous underwear scene in She’s Out of My League.
  • We got a trailer for the upcoming Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, and I think it just gave me a seizure. Seriously, this is like a next level ADHD that medical science hasn’t even named yet.
  • Everything old is new again, Nickelodeon announced the return of Rugrats, as both a 26-episode TV series and a CGI theatrical film. I can just imagine as future archaeologists dig up the artifacts of this era, trying to determine if that scorched animation cel is from the first Nickelodeon Era (which will be known as B.K., for Before Kel) or the second Nickelodeon Era (A.S., for After Schneider).

  • Speaking of new old shit, we got a better look at the She-Ra reboot series from Netflix, and the man-children took issue with her character redesign. Sure, she looks kinda mannish in some pics, but maybe that’s a plot point, I dunno. Maybe She-Ra was born Peter-Ra, and is now living her best life? Who am I to judge?

  • We also got this teaser poster for Aquaman, which does absolutely nothing for me. I’m still kinda hung up on Momoa in the role. We get mad about white-washed characters, but how come it’s not the other way? I want my blond-haired, blue-eyed, Aryan Aquaman, dammit! Plus, I just don’t feel Momoa is a *STAR*. Sorry, not sorry. Sure, the ladies love him, but he doesn’t have the juice to put butts in seats.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars has been “saved”, as the series will return on Disney’s streaming service, five years after it left the air on Cartoon Network.

San Diego Comic-Con kicked off this week, and so far it appears that DC Comics is leading the charge. First off, it was announced that the Berlanti Arrowverse would be adding a Batwoman series to The CW, after her introduction in this fall’s DC show crossover. They’re currently looking for a lesbian actress to play the role, which is interesting to me. Maybe it’s all the recent talk about representation and all, but does it have to be a lesbian actress? What if she’s just lesbian for the show? I dunno. I’m sure there’s a lesbian out there who can do it, but it just seems like they might be missing out on some good choices just because of someone’s sexual orientation. On the flipside, if the producers of How I Met Your Mother had specifically sought out a “heterosexual lothario”, then Neil Patrick Harris never would’ve become Barney Stinson – a role in which he was perfect.

Then we got…this. I’m just gonna come out and say I think Titans looks like shit. Some folks are excited about it, and that’s great, but it’s simply not for me. “Fuck Batman”? Does anyone over there even understand their audience? I may come off as a Marvel fanboy, especially if you’ve seen my Twitter avatar, but I grew up on DC, and it’s what I call “home” when it comes to my fandom. If I’m hard on them it’s because I care, and I just feel like they continue to screw the pooch when it comes to a lot of their live action stuff. I’ve got friends who love the grim and gritty “real worldness” of the DC stuff, as they think the MCU is juvenile. That’s all well and good, but let’s call a spade a spade here. We’re not debating the merits of Batman vs. Superman here. No, we’re talking about a show that apparently wasn’t even good enough for TNT. I mean, fucking Batwoman is getting a show on basic TV, but the Titans aren’t? Just how bad is this show? Based on this trailer, pretty damn bad.

On the movie side of things, it’s official that Joaquin Phoenix will star in Joker, and it’s rumored that Atlanta’s Zazie Beetz might costar. I find this whole project unnecessary, but I find it even more odd that it’ll be directed by Todd Phillips, of The Hangover/Old School fame. Is he REALLY the right pick for this? I don’t see him and Phoenix meshing very well. Anyway, the film is slated to be released October 4th, 2019.

Meanwhile, the Birds of Prey movie will reportedly have, basically, every female Gotham character involved – from Cassandra Cain to Harley Quinn. My problem with this movie is that it’ll have the same issue that the Birds of Prey TV show had if they dance around the Batman issue. If you don’t remember, there was a Birds of Prey series on The WB that launched around the same time as Smallville. I will die on that hill that BoP was no worse than Smallville, but one was given a chance to grow and the other wasn’t. My biggest problem with the show, however (and it would also be my biggest issue with The Dark Knight Rises), is that the series was predicated on the idea that Batman was so distraught over the murder of his true love that he quit being Batman and just left Gotham to fend for itself. In Birds of Prey, it was the death of Catwoman that did it, while in TDKR it was the death of Rachel Dawes. In both cases, I never felt like that’s how Batman would handle that situation, as he’d probably become more driven and insane, than just quitting the game entirely. So, in essence, the Birds of Prey series was a Batman show without Batman. He was integral to the whole thing. He was woven into the tapestry of the setting, but he was never seen (except in flashbacks). And he’s too big of a character to exploit but not fully use. So, the Birds of Prey movie will, at the least, need a Suicide Squad-level Batman cameo just to keep it credibly on the tracks.

Speaking of Batman and Catwoman, the outcome of Batman #50’s wedding has polarized so many fans that writer Tom King apparently had to hire a bodyguard for San Diego Comic-Con. Plus, DC Comics has made the issue returnable since retailers and fans didn’t feel they got what they were promised. Y’all really need to get your shit together if you’re threatening a man over something like this.

Finally, for a man who’s reportedly on the outs with the entertainment side of DC Comics, Geoff Johns will certainly be collecting checks from the comic side for the foreseeable future. So far, he’s announced a new SHAZAM! series – likely to capitalize on the upcoming movie starring Zachary Levi, as well as Three Jokers. The interesting thing to me is that Three Jokers is slated to be released as part of DC’s Black Label imprint, where I thought most of those stories weren’t in continuity. That was announced as DC’s Not Elseworlds, But Totally Elseworlds line, with stuff like Frank Miller’s take on Superman, or the collected edition of Batman: White Knight. It’s strange that they’d put Three Jokers over here, when the concept of there having been three Jokers came from the storylines of the core DC Universe. Johns isn’t done with live action just yet, however, as he also announced a Stargirl series for the DC Universe streaming service, starring a character he created based on his sister who died in the TWA Flight 800 explosion.

I may not agree with all of their decisions, but DC is making moves this week, while Marvel is noticeably silent, so that’s why DC Entertainment had the West Week Ever.

13th Jul2018

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 7/13/18

by Will

I’ve been in California the past few days, and haven’t really been that plugged into the world lately. It’s been so long since I wrote one of these that I’ve kinda forgotten how they work. I mean, it’s been 2 weeks since my last post, and that was the Toys “R” Us tribute. So, it’s been 3 whole weeks since we touched on pop culture news and events. I’ve gotta say, though, not much happened. I mean, stuff happened, but did any of it really matter? Let’s see, shall we?

HarassmentWatch(TM)

Chris Hardwick Update: Not only did Hardwick’s friend, Lady Sif herself, post this tone deaf tweet, but she also circulated a Change.org petition to reinstate him as host of his AMC shows. Read the room, Jaimie! Meanwhile, everyone’s favorite nerd auntie, Yvette Nicole Brown, will be moderating the SDCC panels that were originally to be hosted by Hardwick. She insists she’s not vying for his job, and is merely “helping out a friend”.

Nev Schulman Update: Production has resumed on MTV’s Catfish: The TV Series, as their investigation found that there was no credible evidence that he had committed the harassment reported by his accuser.

Terry Crews Update: While testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee on sexual assault, Crews admitted that he had turned down a role in The Expendables 4, after being threatened to drop the case by producer Avi Lerner. Lerner reportedly warned Crews that there could be “trouble” if he didn’t drop his case, and Crews decided that passing on the film was the best thing for his personal safety.

John “Papa John” Schnatter: OK, so everyone already kinda knew Papa John was a piece of shit, but this week he was forced to resign as chairman of the board when it came out that he had used the word “nigger” during a conference call. Reportedly, in response to a question about his opposition to NFL players kneeling, Schnatter said that Colonel Sanders used to call Blacks niggers and that there was never any blowback for KFC. Here’s where this gets dicey for me: while there’s no real evidence that the Colonel had a history of doing this, it’s not like Schnatter used the slur against someone on the call. At best, he was telling the truth and didn’t read the room to know “Maybe it wouldn’t be too Kosher for me to use that word.” At worst, he was lying about the Colonel, but still wasn’t slinging it an individual. In any case, there’s other evidence that he’s a shitty human being, so maybe this was just karma catching up to him, like how they got Al Capone on tax evasion. Shitty views, shitty pizza: Papa John’s.

Henry Cavill: Superman done fucked up, y’all. Admittedly, there’s hyperbole on both sides of this argument, but here it goes: In a GQ Australia interview, Cavill admitted his trepidation about dating in the post #MeToo world, saying

“There’s something wonderful about a man chasing a woman. There’s a traditional approach to that, which is nice,” he remarked. “I think a woman should be wooed and chased, but maybe I’m old-fashioned for thinking that.”

“It’s very difficult to do that if there are certain rules in place. Because then it’s like: ‘Well, I don’t want to go up and talk to her, because I’m going to called a rapist or something.’ So you’re like, ‘Forget it, I’m going to call an ex-girlfriend instead, and just go back to a relationship, which never really worked,”

Of course there was social media backlash to this, with the common response being “If you don’t want to be called a rapist, then don’t rape anyone.” I get it. I do. But it’s funny how the “We have to listen to both sides” folks are really selective in when they choose to speak out. I think he suffered from a poor choice of words, but his is still a viewpoint that should probably be acknowledged. Men DON’T know how to read cues anymore, and it’s leading to some bad situations (see: Aziz Ansari). Cavill admits his beliefs are old fashioned, but that’s how a lot of people were conditioned and raised. Sure, there’s concepts like “enthusiastic consent” now, but to many that’s just as foreign a concept as when men learned they’d have to wrap their penises in a tire to make sure they don’t die having sex. Change takes time, and getting these views out and discussing them is the only way folks are going to come to some kind of understanding to move forward. No, I’m not saying “Hug a Nazi”, but I AM saying that you can’t really change anything until folks are comfortable enough to speak, while others are willing to listen. Anyway, he apologized through one of his reps, so nothing was really accomplished here except a whole bunch of folks don’t like Henry Cavill anymore.

I’m not doing so well with the movie viewing this year. I think I watched something like 117 in 2016, and at this point I’ve seen about 7. On the flight home last night, I finally got a chance to watch Pitch Perfect 3. I’m not saying I regret seeing it, but I kinda regret that they made it.

As I’ve said before, I kinda relate more to the Pitch Perfect franchise than most folks do because I lived it. I was in the scrappy underdog college a cappella group that placed at competition. I dealt with the ennui that comes from riding that high, and then being thrust into the real world where nobody gives a shit. In fact, I thought the second movie captured that perfectly, even if it didn’t resonate with a lot of fans of the first movie. As much as I love the Barden Bellas, though, this didn’t need to be a trilogy. They go on a USO tour? Is it really that easy for the alums of a 7-year removed competitive collegiate singing group to get a spot on a USO tour? Are the troops that hard up for entertainment? I mean, even I would get tired of Carlos Mencia after one performance, but is this really all that’s left in the barrel for our boys overseas?

If you haven’t seen it, that’s what happens: the Bellas reunite because of a Three’s Company-esque misunderstanding, but decide to take one last shot at the stage by going on a USO tour – one that happens to be a proving ground for DJ Khaled to find his new opening act. Really? HIM? So, the aged Bellas (and Hailee Steinfeld, whose character must have taken a leave of absence from college) jet around the world, competing against three other acts: country-tinged Saddle Up, hip hop duo Young Sparrow & DJ Dragon Nutz, and the all-female Evermoist. Almost immediately the other 3 acts join forces in the traditional riff-off, to show the Bellas just how ineffective a cappella battles are in the real world. Chloe keeps trying to cite them for breaking non-existent rules, like “They used real instruments, so they’re disqualified.” Of course, the Bellas eventually prove themselves to the USO audiences, after a few embarrassing setbacks put into motion by Evermoist. I guess that would be a decent movie if it didn’t have so many other weird subplots floating around.

It’s a movie that tries to do too many things, and doesn’t do any of them well. There’s a weird B-plot about Fat Amy’s (Rebel Wilson) crooked father (played by John Lithgow), who’s scheming to get the $180 million that her mother had put into a trust for her. This results in some crazy choreographed fight scenes between Amy and her dad’s goons, as well as a Die Hardian explosion on a boat.

Then, there’s a co-B-plot (’cause it’s not quite a C-plot) about Becca (Anna Kendrick) being courted as an artist by one of the members of DJ Khaled’s team. While this storyline eventually turns out well for Becca, it just dangles a romance that could have been pursued if they were audacious enough to make a fourth movie, but doesn’t really go anywhere.

Plus, I get that Kendrick is the star, but the whole Becca As a Solo Artist thing doesn’t work for her characterization. Sure, we’re reintroduced to her dealing with her dead-end producing job, but she was never a front and center showgirl. She was a reluctant performer whose musicality and choreo took the Bellas to new heights. If anything, though, her perfect place is behind the scenes, building new artists, and NOT as a headlining solo artist.

Then, you’ve got Aubrey (Anna Camp) dealing with abandonment issues from her dad (which are hastily wrapped up during the end credits), and Chloe (Brittany Snow) hastily falling in love with their USO liaison. Steinfeld is just there to be insulted by Fat Amy, and you don’t really see much of the fire from the last movie that propelled her to the leadership of the current group of Bellas.

The movie is missing a lot of its heart, which was provided in the previous two installments by love interests Bumper (Adam Devine) and Jesse (Skylar Astin) – both of whom are absent here and clearly missed. Jesse was great support for Becca, and it’s curious that they’d break up offscreen and he’s already moved on. Meanwhile, I didn’t expect Fat Amy and Bumper to get married or anything, but I did expect a cameo or something. I mean, Adam Devine is doing straight to Netflix movies these days, so he’s available.

The biggest thing missing here, though, is the musicality. While the first two movies really showcased what a cappella has become, this movie turns it into the butt of the joke. The riff-off is impressive, as they tend to be, but there are no real performances from any of the acts – Bellas to Evermoist – that are that impressive. It’s probably the only installment in the trilogy where I feel I could easily pass on the soundtrack.

Pitch Perfect 3 is a simple retread of Pitch Perfect 2‘s “There’s Life After A Cappella, But It Ain’t Singing” thesis. We got it, but we didn’t need it. It’s a shame because I really like these movies and the stars, but they didn’t leave the stage on a high note.

In Star Wars news, Keri Russell has reportedly signed on for a role in Star Wars: Episode IX, Seeing as how she’s JJ Abrams’ muse or whatever, this news isn’t that surprising. In another part of the galaxy, however, it was reported that Billy Dee Williams would reprise his role as Lando Calrissian and, for the life of me, I can’t imagine what the fuck for. I mean, all of his friends are dead, and he was absent for the one scene that would’ve made sense for him to be in (Canto Bight). So, I guess I’ll look forward to seeing him come back just to die.

In Marvel news, it was revealed that the sequel to Spider-Man: Homecoming will be called Spider-Man: Far From Home. Let the speculation begin! Does he get left in space after Avengers 4? Does he come back to Earth and end up in Wakanda, hanging out with Suri? The possibilities are endless.

When it comes to hope, though, Sony giveth and Sony taketh away. While Far From Home sounds intriguing, they also announced their continued plans to milk that Spider-Man license dry. Now they’re claiming there will be a Silk movie that’ll never happen. I mean, if they couldn’t get a film off the ground for Black Cat and Silver Sable, I really don’t know how “Asian Spider-Woman”‘s milkshake is gonna bring the fanboys to the yard. On top of that, there are reports that Jared Leto will star in a Morbius film. Yeah, Morbius is the vampire who debuted in the Spider-Man comic, but really has jack shit to do with Spider-Man. If you ask me, Sony making that deal with Marvel Studios was to their detriment, as it left them to play around with the dregs of the Spider-Man license. Imagine if you had a really hot, passionate girlfriend, but then y’all broke up and you ended up with an Amish girl. The Amish girl thinks she’s doing you a favor by flashing a little ankle, but you know what you used to have. That’s this situation right here.

FX announced the cast for their Y: The Last Man pilot, and the biggest surprise is probably that Diane Lane has signed on to play Senator Jennifer Brown, who also happens to be the mother of the main character, Yorick. If you’re not familiar with the story, Y: The Last Man was a comic series published under the DC Comics Vertigo imprint. Running for 60 issues, it featured a world where a virus has killed every male in the world – except for escape artist Yorick and his Capuchin monkey. Women rise up and take on roles that they hadn’t traditionally held in the old world, while Yorick is traveling the globe to be reunited with his girlfriend. It’s one of the most critically acclaimed series of the past 20 years, and I think it was an absolute disappointment.

I have a problem with series creator Brian K. Vaughan because I feel he doesn’t stick the landing when it comes to his long-form series. 60 issues was just enough rope for him to hang himself with. I couldn’t even imagine reading that series on a monthly basis at certain points, because there are YEARS that just drag. So, to me, this just means we might get a compelling show with a really weak season 4 & 5. And don’t get me started on the ending because I felt it was one of those “It’s not about the destination, but the journey” cop out. Anyway, I guess time will tell.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • A bunch of shows got cancelled, but don’t feel bad – they’re dead because nobody cared about them. Likewise, no one will miss them. They include: Famous In Love (Freeform), Nobodies (TV Land), Ghosted (Fox), Champions (NBC), and SIX (History). See? Bet you never watched any of them.
  • In other TV news, Charter Communications has picked up the Bad Boys spinoff, L.A.’s Finest, starring Gabrielle Union and Jessica Alba. It’s set to air on their Spectrum cable service, which is about a step up from ending up on the Playstation Network (Yes, that was a jab at Powers).
  • In a recent interview, Paul Reiser admitted that the Mad About You revival “likely won’t happen” for the sheer fact that no network seems to want it. It’s fine with me. Paul and Jamie Buchman had a terrible marriage, and I haven’t ONCE wondered “I wonder where those two crazy kids would be right now.” If anything, I spend time wondering why Leila Kenzle and John Pankow didn’t become household names from that show. They were the only reasons to tune in.
  • WWE SmackDown Live will officially air on Fridays next year on Fox, meaning that Tim Allen’s Last Man Standing revival is basically getting evicted before it even returns to the airwaves.
  • Speaking of WWE, there are reports that they will add a second Wrestlemania branded show in 2020. This sounds like a terrible idea because it’ll just take away the prestige of the now-annual event, especially if it’s a watered down ‘Mania, similar to the recent Saudi Rumble.
  • Classic Nickelodeon show Double Dare is back on the air, and I had stronger feelings about it when it debuted 3 weeks ago. All I can say now is that new host Liza Koshay is kind of annoying, while I wanted to kill this little prick who kept dabbing after every victory. It was a nice nostalgia trip to watch that first night, but it’s nothing I’ve returned to since. Apparently there’s a Kenan & Kel episode coming up, so I’ll probably tune into that, as they play for their favorite charity: Keeping Kel’s Lights On.
  • Jeremy Renner has been cast as Detective “Twitch” Williams in the upcoming Spawn movie. I know that announcement is supposed to be big news, but all I can muster is a Kanye shrug. Remember those? Ya know, before he married that Armenian donkey and lost his mind?
  • The TV series based on The Purge will debut September 4th, on both Syfy and USA Network.
  • Marvel Studios reportedly met with 70 different directors, and settled on Cate Shortland to direct the planned Black Widow solo film.
  • District 9/Chappie director Neill Blomkamp will direct a new Robocop movie for MGM. Have you ever seen any of his movies? Come for the hamfisted allegory on Apartheid, but stay for the wise-cracking alien go-kart that Robocop rides around in!
  • Djimon Hounsou has been cast as the Wizard in that SHAZAM! movie I can’t seem to get excited about.
  • Steven Universe featured the first lesbian wedding on a kid’s cartoon show, but does it count if they’re really space gems? I dunno. I’ve tried to watch that show, and it makes no sense to me, but yay for progress!

I’m amazed that it’s been 3 weeks since I saw Won’t You Be My Neighbor? and it has still stuck with me. If you’re not familiar, the documentary is the story behind Fred Rogers and the creation of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. And let me tell you – it is a life-changing experience. Seriously, they broke the mold when they made Fred Rogers, and no one has stepped up to fill the void that he left behind.

The movie focuses on what a remarkable man Mr. Rogers was, and how he impacted the lives or children. An ordained minister, he discovered television in its infancy, and realized the power that it could have in speaking directly to children. He didn’t like how a lot of children’s television seemed to talk down to the audience, so he wanted to meet them at their level, and help them through the roadblocks of life. It contained interviews with everyone from his wife to former crewmates and friends. I’m not a movie crier, but this thing pushes all the buttons of a Pixar movie.

The movie definitely left an impact on me as I left the theater. There’s one clunky part, where an old friend mentions that Rogers was a lifelong, card-carrying Republican. I guess it was meant to imply that his work was imbued with his sense of family values and whatnot, but all I could think was “What the fuck happened to the Republican Party?” Along those lines, how would he feel about the current state of things? He had retired prior to 9/11, but was consulted to create material to help folks cope with the events of that day – and it nearly broke him. As great as he was, even he wouldn’t be able to heal the divide facing the country. At least, not alone. The world needs more people like Mr. Rogers. “Look for the helpers.”

I’m not sure if it’s delusions of grandeur, or lack of sleep, but for a brief period of time after leaving the theater, I thought “I could do it!” I could pivot everything to be more family friendly, I have an early childhood background, and I love (and worry about) kids. But my wife quickly reminded me that I’m a hateful man online, but that it’s what I’m good at, so I wouldn’t be the heir apparent to King Friday’s empire anytime soon. Womp womp.

I can’t believe I still feel this way three weeks later, but nothing has come close to that experience. It’s the best movie I’ve seen in a long time, and I think everyone should see it. That’s why Won’t You Be My Neighbor? had the West Week Ever.

29th Jun2018

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 6/29/18 (TRU Edition)

by Will

I’m gonna take some liberties with the format this week, as it’s sort of a special occasion. I’ll cover this week’s news next week, and I hope you’ll forgive the departure.

As you probably already know, today is the final day of business for Toys “R” in the United States. Some stores closed earlier this week, but all will be closed by tonight. I’m still processing what this means to me. Sure, as a child of the ’80s, and a pop culture junkie, TRU has meant a lot to me over the years. I’ve touched on it here and there, but I don’t think I’ve ever told you my Toys “R” Us origin story. So, there’s no time like the present!

I’ve been talking with a lot of “cohorts” lately, and they’ve said things like “It didn’t mean that much to me.” Or “The toys were too expensive.” They also say they don’t have any real nostalgic connection to the brand. I can’t diminish someone else’s experience, but that simply wasn’t the case for me. I will admit that Toys “R” Us has suffered from something of an identity crisis over the past decade or so, but I think we all remember the golden age of cartoon Geoffrey the Giraffe, and his extended family (Gigi, etc).

For me, TRU was a magical place that I always hoped to sneak off to while my mom and grandmother were visiting the garden center down the plaza from it. I also didn’t get many toys from TRU back in the day, because toys used to be everywhere: People’s Drug, Kmart, Sears, Woolworth’s. But getting a toy from those places was merely pedestrian. To get a toy from TRU was like visiting Mecca. It’s like the song said, “From bikes and trains to video games” – it was the biggest toy store there was!

You know how when you’re a kid, folks are always asking “What do you want to be when you grow up?” My blanket answer was “I want to own a McDonald’s and a Toys ‘R’ Us.” Yes, young Will didn’t know about franchising and commercial real estate leases. He thought you could own one of those just like some rando can own the corner store. Other kids wanted to be astronauts or cops, and I just wanted to work with Geoffrey. Can’t say I didn’t aim high!

As I got older, I learned that folks actually look down on McDonald’s as a place of employment if you’re not a teenager (which is pretty messed up, if you ask me!). Still, that kinda marred the brand in my mind, so I gave up on that dream. That became a dream deferred. I didn’t give up on Toys “R” Us, though. I decided I was going to work for Toys “R” Us corporate. After all, everyone respects a businessman, and I’d still be working with toys!

Unlike most teenagers, I didn’t have an afterschool job. No, I didn’t get my first job until the week after my high school graduation. Where? Toys “R” Us. I had actually applied during the previous Christmas season, when I handed my application to the store director, Erin. Of course they never called (‘cause they never do. The onus of the job hunt is on the hunter), but I tried again the following summer.

Now, if you’re new here, you don’t know much about me. My dad died when I was 3, and I was raised by the Black Golden Girls. To say I was a “Mama’s Boy” would be something of an understatement, but it gets the image across. So, while most teenagers would confidently saunter into a place and ask if they’re hiring, I had my mom with me, and I think she did most of the talking. So, they didn’t call me. However, when I went back the next summer, Erin recognized me because I was the one who had brought his mother with him to apply. She either thought it was cute or sad. I never did find out. Anyway, she hired me and put me to work the next day.

Yay, I was finally working with toys! My dream job! Oh, the smiles I would put on kids’ faces! The funny thing about TRU is that, once you work there, you realize just how big (and kinda unnecessary) that store truly is. I began to realize that I’d spent my childhood worshiping aisles 6D and 7D (action figures), not even acknowledging that there was a whole lot more store than that. More, for which I did not give a shit. They kept putting me in bikes or in diapers, but I’d find a way to sneak back to action figures.

Plus, because I was seasonal (I was leaving for college at the end of the summer), they never saw any need to train me on the register. I worked at that place for 3 seasons before they trained me on register. By the time I was in Year 8, they were like “Here’s Paco. It’s his first day, and we want you to train him on the register.” That was so weird to me. We don’t know that dude, so why are we so quick to let him near the money? Anyway, since I held no “floor value” for them, they had me unload trucks, organize the stockroom, and bring up any big ticket pickup requests, like bikes, swings, etc.

Here’s why TRU means a lot to me: as someone who grew up pretty sheltered, that job gave me a crash course on LIFE. The cute girls, the old ladies – those were the ones they put on the floor. The guys in the back, however, were a rougher bunch. Some of them were ex-cons, while some of them were clearly headed for incarceration. It’s funny looking back on it because I had two very distinct Toys “R” Us employment experiences: the Wheaton era, which was basically Training Day, and the Columbia era, which was Saved By The Bell: The New Class.

These guys were telling me stuff about the women they were seeing, as well as what they were doing to those women. They’d also tell me about their wives. Yup, same dudes. Seventeen year old Will would naively point out “But you’re married!” One thing I will never forget is when Ramone laughed at me, saying “Man, you don’t marry for love. You marry for security.” That was deep, especially at 17.

That place was filled with a cast of characters, and that television show, despite being set in a toy store, would have to air on Netflix or premium cable. There was chainsmoking mumbler, Garrett, who built the bikes. I was working there when JFK Jr. and his wife died, and Garrett was the one who offered up his theory that sky head was to blame. You’ve heard of road head? Well, same thing, but in a privately chartered helicopter. In the sky. Garrett loved his conspiracies.

There was David, the other bike assembly guy, who’d just gotten back from overseas, and was clearly going through some kind of PTSD. He either looked like a fatter Tony Hale or a skinnier Bubba Ray Dudley. The jury’s still out on that. His arms were covered in sleeves, so management made him wear a light blue Oxford to cover his arms so he wouldn’t offend the guests. I remember he was really blinky, and I was always expecting a Falling Down episode from him. He totally took advantage of me because I was young and dumb and had more money than I needed. He had brought some Pocket Monsters stuff back with him from Japan (remember, Pokémon had just hit the US, so this was the original, pure shit), and I remember him selling it to me for some price that really didn’t make a lot of sense. But I hate conflict, and don’t know how to back out of a deal, so “Here’s your money, David.” The sad post-script is that most of that stuff ended up going to my then-girlfriend’s little brother. Yup, I did it all for the nookie. Or was trying to, at least.

Barbara was the first Black lesbian I’d ever encountered, and she scared the shit out of me (not the first lesbian, though – I’d seen the Ellen Degeneres-starring Mr. Wrong almost a decade prior, and well, I just knew…). She was mean, and if she threatened to cut you, I truly believe a cutting was in your future. She had a nice side racket going, where the old White G.I. Joe and Hot Wheels collectors would pay her to put the new cases aside for them, so they could get the good stuff before it hit the floor. I’m sure they were terrified of her, too, but those Treasure Hunts weren’t gonna scalp themselves. Anyway, I clapped back at her one day about something trivial (I was young and stupid) , and stayed on her bad side after that.

Ron was one of the managers, and he made me question every naïve thing I’d ever thought about leadership. Later, in college, I’d learn the difference between management and leadership, but at the time I thought they were the same. He had come from Foot Locker, and I spent a lot of time wondering “What’s he doing here? Shoes have nothing to do with toys.” See, I hadn’t yet hit that realization that retail is just a job. As the youngest person working in the store, I never stopped to think that I was the only one who WANTED to be there due to a love of toys. It was hilarious, though, watching him pursue a phat ass through the store. It’s like he had a sixth sense for it, and then he’d get on the walkie, telling the other guys to meet him in whatever aisle she happened to be in. That shit was pure harassment, but I’d never seen anything like it before. And, to be honest, none of the women ever seemed that offended. If anything, they were just happy to receive some kind of customer service which, as you know, has been lacking in a lot of places in recent years.

Finally, as the ringmaster of this motley crew, Erin was a short woman who wore a tight French braid. In some other life, she was a detective or a parole officer, but here she made sure that Mr. Potato Head was “edged off” (the practice of pulling the boxes to the very edge of the shelf, to give the illusion that the shelves are more full that they actually are. Plus, it brings the item closer to the customer’s reach). You knew it was a rough day when she would pitch in with the clean-up, and release her hair from that braid. She was tough, but fair. She had a maternal, Captain Janeway quality to her, and we were all her Sevens of Nine. They’d eventually transfer her to the Frederick store. I saw her a few years later, and she barely had any recollection of me, my mom, any of it. Through squints, she seemed to sort of register who I was, but I’m sure so many folks had passed through her “finishing school” by that point that they all start to blend together. Still, thanks for not letting Barbara cut me, “Mom”.

In all, I worked for the Wheaton store over the course of 7 years, during summers and Christmas when I’d come home from college, as well as some stints afterward. In early 2006, the company announced plans to close 75 stores across the country, which we thought was unheard of at the time. Still, I didn’t think much about it until I came in one day soon after Christmas to see Store Closing signs hung everywhere. These days you’d probably at least get an email or something, but not then. Were we so primitive in 2006? So, I found out the same way our customers did – seeing the signage in the store.

I’ve already shared some stories about those final days in Wheaton, but that store just kept on teaching me things. In this case, I learned how fun retail could be if you simply didn’t give a shit anymore. Sure, it’s probably not best for the customer, but I had a lot of fun during that liquidation period. Still, it was a part-time job for me, so it didn’t hit me like it probably affected others there. By that point, all the folks I mentioned had already moved on. As I saw it, my education was complete, and I was fine with the store closing. Plus, there was still a TRU across town, so it’s not like we wouldn’t have a local store.

The Wheaton store closed, and I thought that was it for my Toys “R” Us time. In college, I majored in Human Development, with a concentration on early childhood. The whole “I want to work with toys” wasn’t just a pipe dream to me. I took courses on play interaction, and interned at a daycare to study how kids play with each other. The problem, though, is that there was no real career path for that at the time. Sure, now there are schools with toy curriculums, like F.I.T., but that wasn’t a thing in 2001. Once I graduated, nobody knew what to do with me. I sent a bunch of blind letters to Hasbro, TRU, Mattel, and more. See, it turns out toy companies care more about design than intent. It’s more likely they’ll make a cool-looking toy educational instead of making an educational toy cool-looking. If it teaches something, great, but the aesthetic came first. So, the folks who did gave me the time of day wanted to see my portfolio – a portfolio that I did not have. I remember I got a really nice letter from some VP at TRU corporate that was basically “We don’t know what to do with you, but don’t give up on your dreams.” Sorry, lady, but I gave up.

After a stint in commercial real estate, I got a chance to work for Diamond Comic Distributors. It wasn’t quite toys, but it was as close to the toy industry as I felt I was going to get. The sad thing, though, is that you have to sacrifice for your dreams. So, I took a huge pay cut and then found myself with a life I couldn’t afford anymore. My commute was 100 miles a day round trip (that’s not an exaggeration), and I could barely pay my rent. So, I was going to need a second job, and I realized the Columbia Toys “R” Us was halfway between work and home. It also helped that a few of the managers from the tail end of the Wheaton days had transferred to that store. I had an “in”.

Remember when Saved By The Bell: The College Years got cancelled, and Screech kinda crawled back to Bayside in Saved By The Bell: The New Class? That was pretty much my experience here. I had started my TRU career as the youngest person in the store, and now I was something of an elder statesman. Everyone I worked with now was somewhere between 19 and 22, and I thought it was going to be my turn to teach them life lessons. It would by my Training Day. Yeah…that didn’t happen. The Columbia staff had different interests and were in different places in their lives than the Wheaton staff. The Wheaton folks were just working there until a better retail job came along, while the Columbia kids were working their way through community college and didn’t see retail as the end for themselves. With my prior experience, I expected to walk into some kind of Degrassi environment, but it was a lot more madcap than that.

I’ll admit that I probably wasn’t the best person to manage at this point. I mean, I was a good worker – a hard worker – but I did what I wanted. I just kinda took action figures for myself, and made it clear “Don’t you even think about putting me somewhere else.” And I provided good customer service to folks in those aisles, but I did not give a shit about anything outside of Boy’s World. The location of the store made sense on weekdays, as it was on the way home, but it made no sense for me to drive 30 miles on a Saturday morning, to work 5 hours – I was just wasting gas at that point. So, I kinda did what I wanted to “justify” the inconvenience. Yeah, I know it’s a job, and it was my choice to make that commute, but they let me get away with “creating my own experience”, so I guess I “won”?

While my early time with the company was about life’s hard lessons, the latter time was really just about decompression. I looked forward to my Saturday shifts as “Wow, I really tricked this company into paying me to hang out with my friends.” We had a lot of fun, and I still think about a lot of those folks.

Patrick was an interesting kid. He was Chinese, but somehow had a redneck, Tea Party uncle whom he idolized, so he was basically a Chinese redneck. He never understood the contradictions in that, but he never let that stop him. Still he was a lot of fun, as we’d talk about cartoons and Power Rangers. We would team up in the boy’s department, and called ourselves Team Bumblebee.

Crystal was the sweetest girl you’d ever meet, which is why it was perfect that they put her at customer service. Customers loved her, while she had an apple bottom that some folks would’ve paid to take a bite out of. She was our Kelly Kapowski, hands down.

If Crystal was our Kelly, then Amber was definitely our Jessie Spano. She and Crystal looked like they could’ve been sisters, but Amber was the spitfire of the two. She had little Lisa Loeb glasses, and took her supervisor role seriously – almost too seriously at times. That’s why it was even more interesting when she lightened up, and found herself in a love triangle with managers Paul and Jesse.

Bryan was the most responsible 19 year old I’ve ever met in my entire life. He had actually come from the Wheaton store, and was one of the reasons I was looking forward to working at Columbia. He had a mad-on for law enforcement, though. His dream was to go to the police academy, and he’d go on ride alongs during his free time. In the grand scheme of the Columbia store, Bryan was “The Adult”.

Marvin was basically Lord of the R-Zone, which was the electronics department of the store. I never really got a read on him, despite working in his orbit for years. Was he shy? Did he just not like me? I dunno, but I still run into him at comic conventions, as he has segued into the life of a cosplayer in recent years.

The best of the bunch, however, had to be Mike, whom we affectionately called “Special Forces”. Ya see, when he started, he was seasonal and those guys didn’t wear TRU uniforms because A) I don’t think TRU wanted to “waste” them on seasonals, and B) they didn’t want them to be instantly recognizable as employees to customers, as customer interaction would affect their ability to move in the background of everything. So, he wore a black shirt and black jeans, which made him look like some sort of special forces agent, so… Mike’s still around to this day, as many of you know of him from my Thrift Justice posts. He’s one of my best friends, and definitely one of the better things to come from that last TRU stint.

As much as I wanted to think I was the oldest, non-manager there, that wasn’t true. No, that “honor” belonged to “Stanley” (Yeah, that’s not his real name. You don’t need to know that). I’m gonna level with you here: there’s a good chance Stanley was some kind of molester. He was in his 70s, creepy, and wore a Dora the Explorer cap that he found in a shopping cart one day. I know for a fact that he offered $50 to a young employee to have sex with him. I also know she strongly considered it. He knew where all the hooker pickup spots were, and he had some stories. Just as earlier in my career, TRU was still teaching me things. I learned how you can like people who are possibly horrible. Like, I didn’t have *proof* that he had done anything illegal, but I also didn’t have proof that he had not done those things. Still, something about him still came off as “kindly”. I still think about him, and wonder if he’s still with us.

I made it 10 years with TRU, and not much longer. They even gave me a catalog of shit to choose from for my anniversary gift. I never did get that cordless screwdriver… Anyway, I had my performance review, and found out I wasn’t good enough to receive my $0.25 raise. I took a long hard look around, and wondered why I was fighting for a quarter. I’d been raised with the “Every little bit helps” mentality, but here was a company that didn’t think I was worth an additional quarter. Yes, I know that adds up when it’s a quarter for everyone, but TEN YEARS! Call it “Millennial Entitlement” if you want, but that was it for me. I was tired of the commute. I no longer had the job that made this one convenient in the evenings, and I had pretty much just met Lindsay, so I had other stuff I’d rather be doing. So, I basically quit that day of the review. I’d worked out my schedule, and I didn’t owe them any time. I’d show them!

In the years since, I’ve sort of regretted how it ended. I definitely missed the excitement of the holiday season, and even wondered if I was rehireable. I once applied to the closer Rockville store, but never heard back. Ya know, ‘cause the onus of the job hunt… So, my TRU career ended not with a bang, but with a whimper. That’s not how I would like to have gone out, but that’s how life is sometimes. My time at Toys “R” Us was filled with those life-affirming moments, so this just seemed like a natural, if not completely satisfying, end.

As a customer, I’ll definitely miss Toys “R” Us. Sure, Target and Walmart have a foothold in the industry, but their 7 toy aisles don’t hold a candle to the selection at TRU. I used to stop and think about how almost unnecessary a store like TRU was. I mean, think about it: it’s a big box store devoted solely to toys. Only in a capitalistic society could that idea fly and, as we have learned, that same capitalistic society would be what killed it.

Still, folks don’t realize that the concept of “childhood” is fairly young. Before, say, the end of the Industrial Revolution, kids were just seen as tiny adults. Sure, take them to that public execution, nobody cares! So, it’s always amazing to me that, not only did the concept of childhood develop, but that successful businesses arose to capitalize on that. Folks say that toy sales are down, with the internet and other time wasters available, so I often wonder what that means for the evolution of childhood. I guess time will tell.

Anyway, we’re not here to forecast the future of the toy industry. No, we’re here to say goodbye to an old teacher, an old friend. I got to take my oldest to say “goodbye” a few months back, but it saddens me that my youngest will know nothing of Toys “R” Us. She’ll know nothing of the place that helped to shape her father’s worldview. She’ll know nothing of Geoffrey the Giraffe. I only hope that she one day experiences something that affects her the same way that my Toys “R” Us experience affected me. That’s why Toys “R” Us had the West Life Ever.

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