Podcast: The War on Pop Culture

August 27, 2015

I would like to present my new podcast, The War on Pop Culture.

This is a new project with my good buddy Mike V. where we discuss all things pop culture, but mainly movies, television, and music. We just posted our very first episode. Please check it out!


Fear the Walking Dead – “Pilot”

August 24, 2015

Season One, Episode One

fear-the-walking-dead-pilot

Grade: B

Well what do you think Walking Dead fans? I’m sure you’re mostly disappointed with the pilot of the spin-off series, mainly because it was pretty dull. What Walking Dead fans want during the months without traveling alongside Rick and Daryl is more zombie chaos! Unfortunately for those, there weren’t many in the Fear the Walking Dead pilot. Instead, it did something that the Walking Dead didn’t from the beginning, establish and fortify a backbone of its core characters.

The core consists of a happy and smart family, and their junkie child. Madison Clark (Kim Dickens) and her fiance Travis Manawa (Cliff Curtis) both work at the high school. Madison is a guidance counselor and Travis is an English teacher. Madison’s daughter, Alicia, is smart and for the time being, not an absolute brat. But Madison’s other child, Nick, is a handful. The show opens up with Nick waking up from one of his loaded nights in an abandoned church where him and other junkies spend a lot of time in. As he searches for Gloria, he witnesses death and eventually, the sight of Gloria eating another junkie. He runs out into the daylight only to be hit by a car from behind.

That opening scene was pretty cool, but it gave the audience a false hope of what to expect for the rest of the pilot, which ends up being very tame and not scary at all. But that’s okay, because in this series the outbreak hasn’t occurred yet. In Fear, we’re going to live through the central family and the citizens of Los Angeles as the chaos begins. It might not be as cool and fun as The Walking Dead’s first season, but it might very well be more interesting (if done right).

One thing that I was fond of during the pilot was how much I actually liked the family. Dickens and Curtis do a great job at coming off as a couple who genuinely care about their family, their jobs, and each other. This is good and bad though, because while I’ll surely be rooting for them throughout the inevitable collapse of society, it doesn’t seem like they’re going to be in any real danger throughout this series, which is half the fun watching a show like this. Just look at the death totals of The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones. Knowing that any character could die at any time keeps the audience on its toes. Can you really see either Madison or Travis dying anytime soon? It’s highly doubtful.

But while this series might play off like a tamer version of The Walking Dead, at least here we have diversity from the get-go, though already an African American character has been killed off. Will Alicia’s boyfriend be next?

So what can we expect from Fear the Walking Dead? I expect to be stuck in the “confusion” stage for most of this first season, and maybe a finale turning to chaos. Whatever the case, I’m willing to continue to watch this tight family will themselves to stay alive and fight for each other’s survival, except maybe for Nick. We can also assume that the group will expand to more than just the immediate family, but it’s safe to declare that Madison and Travis will be the driving force of this series. Is that good enough? It’s good enough for me, for now.


One Episode Left: True Detective Season Two

August 5, 2015

true-detective-season2

If you’re like me and have been trying to keep up with all of the details from the maze that True Detective Season Two has puked out for the past two months, then get in line. After re-watching the episodes and conducting plenty of research, I think I finally have some kind of grasp about what’s happening going into the finale this Sunday, which will be a 90-minute episode.

So here’s the deal. If you haven’t realized it yet, Vinci, California is insanely corrupt. There are dozens of characters that are discussed every episode that have a big part of the corruption, but it’s more difficult to remember them than the cast of Game of Thrones BECAUSE WE DON’T REMEMBER EVER SEEING THEM. Seriously, apparently one huge development in Frank Semyon’s (Vince Vaughn) story-line was how hard he took the death of Stan. If you’re wondering who the hell is/was Stan, then you’re right on the money. Stan was the guy who worked for Frank and died while having his eyes burnt out just like Caspere. Before he died, he apparently was only in TWO RANDOM SCENES. I don’t think I was alone when I said to myself, who the hell cares about this Stan guy who got killed? It’s only the natural response for the viewer who has only seen him for about one minute throughout the season. But do you know who cares? Frank cares. He cares a whole lot to the point where we have an excruciatingly long scene where he visits Stan’s family, gives the widow a bulk of cash, and has a heart-to-heart with the son who’s playing catch by himself against a wall. The trick was all on us though, because while no one gave a shit about Stan, we were stuck trying to figure out this small bit of information that essentially doesn’t matter much.

true-detective-season2a

But for what it’s worth, it does matter a little bit. In the last episode we see Frank smash Blake’s face in with a glass in slow motion, before killing him and commenting about him soiling the carpet. Before Frank killed Blake, he revealed some very important details to him and to the viewers. Blake admits to killing Stan because Stan figured out everything that Blake was doing behind Frank’s back and was going to blackmail him. Blake also was the person who gave Frank the wrong name of the rapist that Ray Velcoro sought out and killed. While Blake had his hand in the pot here and there, his only real contribution to the plot was to spit out all of this information to catch the audience up to what’s happening away from the scenes we’re forced to watch. Again, it’s pretty annoying but it gets the job done.

Okay, now that all of that Stan stuff is out of the way, I can commit this post to what I assume is the real focus of this season of True Detective, which like normal shows stems from the pilot: Who killed Ben Caspere? Caspere was the city manager in Vinci, a business partner with Frank, a patient of Dr. Irving Pitlor, and involved in a number of corrupt deals such as the sex parties, the blue diamonds, and selling the land with the Catalyst Corp. He was certainly a shady fellow who couldn’t be trusted, but also one incredibly powerful to do business with. It was reported that a person with a crow mask either murdered him, or transported his body. This takes us back to the second episode when Velcoro investigates Caspere’s secret apartment and finds a video camera linked to a hard drive. A person in the crow mask shoots Velcoro point blank with rubber bullets and after he wakes up, the hard drive is gone. That’s the second mystery throughout the season, who has the hard drive?

The hard drive has some damning evidence of very powerful men at the sex parties that Caspere had for leverage. Naturally, everyone wants the hard drive. We go through the plot where Frank desperately tries to locate the hard drive to buy himself back into the land deal, but this results in an investigation gone wrong with no further development.

Where does that leave us? Well, we find out in the last episode that those blue diamonds are a huge part to this puzzle. Back in 1992, blue diamonds worth millions were robbed by two masked men, who were Dixon (the fat, drunk cop who got killed at the Vinci massacre) and Kevin Burris (the guy who killed Paul Woodrugh – more on that later). Holloway (the main guy who met with Paul in the tunnels) and Caspere knew about the theft. What’s important about all of this is that it leads directly to the main suspects of Caspere’s murder: Laura and Leonard Osterman, who were the children of the store owners that watched their parents get killed by the masked men. Once again, here comes the frustrating part about this show. We briefly see Laura in episode three, but she went by the name Erica (one of the people they question on the movie set). She was Caspere’s assistant at the time and seemed convincingly innocent. She appears in the photograph of Caspere, Vera, Tasha and the diamonds. Since then, she has quit her job, cleaned out her apartment, and hasn’t been heard from or seen. Oh, and we know NOTHING about Leonard, that I know of at least.

true-detective-season2b

Now where do we stand going into the finale? We know that the Catalyst Corp. with Burris, Holloway, Chessani, and Osip want the Caspere murder investigation to go away. That’s why they closed the case so quickly when it seemed like Amarilla killed him (the guy at the Vinci massacre). But with this small force getting real close in uncovering the murder, everything is at stake for them including the diamond robbery-murder in 1992 along with the very profitable land deal. But it’s not looking too positive for the good guys. It seems like the group that was put together to continue the murder investigation of Caspere is fucked. Ani Bezzerides murdered that security guard at the sex party and is now wanted for her crime. The corrupt men have also framed Velcoro for the muder of Katherine Davis (Ani’s boss and the black woman found shot to death in her car when Velcoro was meeting with her). It’s likely that one of Velcoro’s guns was used in her murder to frame him.

So that really left Woodrugh as the main cop who didn’t have his hands dirty and could unveil everything, except that he was being blackmailed by the photos that Dixon took a while back. When Woodrugh received those photos, he met up with Holloway who wanted Bezzerides and Velcoro’s location. Instead, Woodrugh almost escaped before being shot in the back by Burris.

I’m honestly not too sure what to expect during the finale. I did enjoy Frank taking a bag-load of money and burning his casinos to the ground, which I’m sure he’ll pay for as he’ll try to take out Osip before leaving the country to Venezuela with Jordan. And as for Velcoro and Bezzerides, maybe their hook-up is exactly what they needed to loosen them up and for them to finish what they started. Find Laura, find out who Leonard is, and reveal the conspiracy before Burris and Holloway locate them. I cannot say that this has been a smooth ride, but it’s definitely one that I hope is worth it at the end.


Movie Pictionary! #3

June 18, 2015

A few of my friends and I have a new hobby, playing Movie Pictionary through Google Hangouts. As if Pictionary wasn’t fun enough, having it movie-themed makes it a lot more fun. Plus the added difficulty of drawing on a small area with your computer mouse, or touch pad, results in some really bad doodles. But that just makes the guessing even better! So I figure that I should let you into some of our drawings and the comments we made while guessing. For anyone who wants to play along, I’ll leave all the answers at the bottom of the post. Enjoy!

draw-homealone

Rob: Fantasia?
Chris: Negative.
Mike: It could either be a football field, or a rack of ribs.
Rob: I saw steps and a bucket of water.
Chris: Exactly!

draw-jurassicpark

Rob: Is that a toilet bowl?
Chris: Mike, if that’s ******** I’m going to flip out!
Mike: It is!
Chris: I thought of drawing the exact same thing!
Rob: How is a toilet bowl the drawing for ********?!
Chris: I even did a test run and decided that no one would ever guess it.
Mike: Hahahaha
Chris: That’s the only reason why I got it lol.
Mike: It was not easy to draw.

draw-independenceday

Rob: I have no idea what I’m looking at here.
Mike: Once you get it, you will totally see it.
Chris: Hmmm. Yeah I’m lost. Is the red a fence? And people are storming it?
Rob: I think it’s fire.
Rob: Is it ********?
Mike: Yes! Come on, that’s not half bad.
Chris: I definitely see it now that it’s revealed.

Answers: Home Alone, Jurassic Park, Independence Day.


Game of Thrones – “Mother’s Mercy”

June 15, 2015

Season Five, Episode Ten

game-of-thrones-mothers-mercy

Grade: A

Pardon my language, but at the conclusion of the season five finale, the only words that I could put together to make some kind of sentence was: What the fucking fuck?

Okay, I think it’s out of my system for now. Let me start with the conclusion of the season five finale. Jon Snow has just been stabbed six times by his fellow crows, and he falls on his back as the blood pours out of his body, turning the white snow into a dark red mess. I just kept waiting and waiting for there to be a sign of hope that maybe this was all a dream. Or maybe he wasn’t about to take his last breath. But it didn’t seem like there was anything or anyone who could save him from those final moments. As the viewer, I really thought this would never happen. Sure, GoT has time and time again kicked me in the ass for expecting a major character to live a long and eventful life, but come on! This is Jon Snow! He’s been the voice of reason, the underdog among competitors, the sad misfit who’s been kicked around by everyone, and somehow throughout all of these seasons he has faced adversity and continued to conquer every obstacle thrown his way. So it’s no exaggeration that the entire GoT fan-base was in awe.

I haven’t read a single line from any of the books, but I understand from friends who have that this was where the latest book ended. So now the show and the novels are (somewhat) caught up with each other. In my opinion, that’s very exciting for the TV-viewers but disappointing for the novel-readers. But at least we can all band together and admit that this is a crucial loss, unless it isn’t! I’m sorry, but I still cannot accept that Jon Snow is gone forever. Maybe he does die, but there are elements of the show that suggests GoT has the capability to turn to magic. It took a while, but Frankenstein Mountain is alive and kicking again. And I doubt it’s coincidence that Melisandre roams into the crow camp right before he dies. While I’ve never been a fan of the Lord of Light story, it’s clear there is some real magic there. And it’s obvious that Stannis was the wrong leader to follow. Will the Lord of Light have anything to do with Snow’s possible resurrection?

As for Stannis, season five really dealt a lot with him, just to have him killed off at the end of a failed attempt to take Winterfell. I was really rooting him on up to the point where he chose to burn his daughter alive (oh how those screams still keep me up at night). But what happens here is slightly vague. Brienne steps out at the end of the battle and swings her sword at Stannis, but it’s never shown that he dies. That could mean she didn’t kill him after all, but I do honestly believe he’s dead. The last time I wanted to believe someone wasn’t dead because GoT didn’t show it immediately was Ned Stark.

So Stannis is done. Jon Snow is very likely dead. That means the Boltons have defended Winterfell and Ramsay will continue being the jackass he is. But as expected, Theon assists Sansa to try and escape. Unfortunately, this involves the bright idea to jump off the freaking wall. Are we supposed to assume that Sansa is going to survive that fall?! That would require a huge leap of faith, one that I don’t even think Sansa had when she decided to jump. But once again, we don’t see her land so we don’t know what happens. It’s just that this cannot be the last we see of Sansa. And if it is, this is definitely a weak way to go out.

Now let’s go over that extremely difficult-to-watch scene with Cersei walking through the streets to the Red Keep. If this doesn’t land Lena Headey any awards buzz then I don’t know what will. She displays such great control and ability during the scene, portraying a wide arrange of emotions until she’s finally able to let it all go when she reaches home. Cersei has never been a character who was liked, and even through this walk of shame I couldn’t feel bad for her. She has simply done too much to ever receive sympathy from me. But this is classic GoT here, taking a much-hated character and springing life into their story. It happens with Jaime Lannister, Theon, Stannis, etc. But I don’t believe one bit that Cersei has changed from all of this. She just did what she had to do to start planning how to destroy the Faith Militant.

Speaking of not able to let go, Arya finally finishes the deed of killing Meryn Trant. By doing so, she goes against everything that Jaqen H’ghar has been teaching her at the House of Black and White. And just as it seems he has killed himself, it’s all trickery. I don’t have much to really say about this story-line because there is too much unknown about the Faceless Men. I have no clue how it works and what is happening to Arya as she’s going blind, but all I know is that it has become one of the best plots in the fifth season. I’m excited to revisit Arya in the next season.

And then there is Daenerys, stranded in a far away place where Drogon is too lazy to bring her back home. I’m not sure where she thinks she was going, or how she could possibly be surprised by hundreds of Dothraki riders surrounding her in an open field, but her fate is left up in the air as well. One thing I am looking forward to for next season is the ruling of Meereen by the misfit team of Tyrion, Varys, Grey Worm, and Missandei. If there was a Big Brother After Dark series of them living together, I’d watch every second of that. Also we have our new odd-couple, road trip tandem with Jorah and Daario.

After all is said and done, we still have to return to Jon Snow. I love how GoT has felt so real at times in such a fantasy world, but that is definitely one of its strengths. But recently the role of magic is becoming greater than I anticipated. From the murdering shadow to the wildfire used at the Battle of the Blackwater; the Frankenstein Mountain to the powerful dragons; Bran’s ability as a Warg to Beric’s resurrection. There has been so much magic within GoT and I believe the sixth season will be the most magical yet. Hopefully Bran does come back so we can have answers about his prophecies, and hopefully Snow is able to come back through some kind of resurrection. I’m probably way off with this, but I really hope I’m somewhat right.

game-of-thrones-mothers-mercy2


Movie Pictionary #2

June 11, 2015

A few of my friends and I have a new hobby, playing Movie Pictionary through Google Hangouts. As if Pictionary wasn’t fun enough, having it movie-themed makes it a lot more fun. Plus the added difficulty of drawing on a small area with your computer mouse, or touch pad, results in some really bad doodles. But that just makes the guessing even better! So I figure that I should let you into some of our drawings and the comments we made while guessing. For anyone who wants to play along, I’ll leave all the answers at the bottom of the post. Enjoy!

draw-diehard2a

Mike: Con Air?
Chris: Solid guess. I’m glad you can tell it’s a plane lol
Mike: Liar Liar
Chris: Stop just naming movies with planes!
Rob: Did the plane drop something that’s exploding? Or is it dragging someone who combusted?
Chris: No no, the plane is exploding in the picture!
Mike: Snakes on a Plane?
Chris: I hate you.
Rob: Is the plane leaking fuel?

Then Chris edits his drawing:

draw-diehard2b

Chris: Edited!
Mike: Whoa! It’s a giant!
Chris: Perspective!
Rob: Who’s he talking to?
Chris: No one in particular.
Mike: I love this picture.
Rob: Is he trying to blow up the plane?
Chris: I don’t know how all of these questions haven’t triggered answer yet! It’s like you know the answer and it’s prompting these questions.
Mike: I am clueless.
Chris: Either that or I am COMPLETELY misremembering the scene… which is likely.
Rob: What movie does a plane blow up in?
Mike: Every movie ever.
Rob: Are we even sure that’s a plane? I’m having doubts.
Chris: Here’s another hint, the movie isn’t focused around planes. But yes, that IS a plane.
Mike: Fast and Furious 5 or 6.
Rob: I need another drawn clue.
Mike: The Avengers.
Chris: It’s literally the only scene I know from the movie lol.
Mike: Final Destination?
Rob: Is it accurate to say that the line is sparked and attached to the plane, and will soon explode.
Chris: Accurate! I swear, how are you asking these questions without knowing?! I feel like you’re messing with me!
Mike: Wait! I think I got it.

Answer: Die Hard 2.


Movie Pictionary!

June 4, 2015

A few of my friends and I have a new hobby, playing Movie Pictionary through Google Hangouts. As if Pictionary wasn’t fun enough, having it movie-themed makes it a lot more fun. Plus the added difficulty of drawing on a small area with your computer mouse, or touch pad, results in some really bad doodles. But that just makes the guessing even better! So I figure that I should let you into some of our drawings and the comments we made while guessing. For anyone who wants to play along, I’ll leave all the answers at the bottom of the post. Enjoy!

draw-seven
Chris: ******** was a total guess because I see a box. That’s about it.
Rob: It’s a bit tricky without quoting, “What’s in the box?!”
Mike: That could’ve totally been a man with a hat on a computer.

draw-40yearold
Rob: You look like a man-o-lantern.

draw-christmasvacation
Rob: Are those Stretch Armstrong arms? lol
Chris: I can’t see the little icon for the smallest drawing dot, which makes stuff like that look worse than it has to!

draw-this-is-spinal-tap
Mike: The drums, Stonehenge, singing movie.
Rob: Yup, that’s exactly correct. So do you know it?
Mike: I have no idea.

Answers: Se7en, The 40 Year Old Virgin, Christmas Vacation, This is Spinal Tap


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