Summer of '84 - REVIEW

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Last weekend, my friend and I went to the movies. It was Saturday after work and he offered up two suggestions and I offered up two of my own. Long story short, I was vetoed on both my choices and, with a brief description of both Summer of 84 and Never Goin’ Back, I chose the murder mystery (I’ll almost always choose a thriller). Had I taken a few minutes to watch the trailer beforehand, I might have lowered my expectations a bit.

It’s the summer of 1984 (duh) and conspiracy theory-loving Davey becomes increasingly convinced his neighbor, a town cop, is a serial killer after several neighborhood boys go missing. He enlists the help of his friends (a ne’er-do-well, a library-loving nerd, and an overweight teddy bear) to spy on fresh-faced Officer Mackey, played by Mad Men’s Rich Sommer, who does seem increasingly guilty. Is he actually the serial killer? I won’t spoil that for you, but throw in a crush on an older girl next door, a walkie-talkie communication system, and group rides around a quaint Oregon town on bikes and you’ve got a stereotypical 80s movie, right?

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That was part of the problem for me. It’s not that the movie was bad, per se. It was just too heavy-handed on the 80s nostalgia craze that Stranger Things ushered in. A year ago, or even two, it wouldn’t have seemed so forced, but at this point, it just felt late to the game and unoriginal. It definitely paled in comparison to the group-of-friends original classics of my childhood: The Goonies, It, The Lost Boys, ET, and so on.

Now that I’ve ragged on it enough, I really did enjoy the unfolding of the mystery and its eventual outcome. The movie starts a bit slow and is dragged down by visits to the bowling alley and all the teenage feelings, but the end picks up and delivers a few surprises and scares. You know it’s a decent quest to catch a killer when characters start snooping into business they shouldn’t and you literally begin to exhibit signs of stress in the movie theater.

I have to admit my mind did start to wander a bit after Davey sees a missing neighborhood boy on the milk carton one morning. It’s such an 80s reference, but did you know that the milk carton campaign only last two years and didn’t actually help all that much? I’d just listened to a podcast episode about milk carton kids and the skeptical side of me wanted to re-listen to see if they were even used in 1984 still. You can breathe a collective sigh of relief - Summer of 84 got in just under the gun: the campaign ran from 1982-1984.

So, unless you’re really dying (ha) to see a movie about the summer in the last few weeks of summer, Summer of 84 can wait for streaming.    

Posted on August 19, 2018 and filed under Movie Reviews.

Reservoir Geeks Review: Netflix's "Everything Sucks"

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When school began at the end of the summer of ‘96 I was a 14 year old Freshman braving Junior High at a new school, intimidated by girls, and generally unsure what to make of the world around me. If Netflix's show "Everything Sucks" is even semi-autobiographical, it's safe to assume the creator shares my exact same age because it's story revolves around a Freshman experiencing all those very things in, you guessed it- 1996.

Now knowing that I’m the exact target audience of the show, it's not surprising that when I first saw the teaser I instantly thought "Yep- I'm going to watch that". In retrospect, my immediate commitment is mostly to blame on the use of an all-time great song- The Cranberries' "Linger" playing over the main character reenacting popular music videos of the day (so many feels!). The teaser certainly did it's job reeling me in, but with all 10 of the season's episodes now behind me, I learned a valuable lesson; there is a big difference between a reflexive "I'm gonna watch it" and a reflexive "Hey, that looks great!".

I'm sad to report that "Everything Sucks" turned out to be not much more than 'nostalgia porn' of the highest order. The first 40 seconds of episode 1 alone manage to shoehorn in slap bracelets, skateboards, troll dolls, neon colors, a walkman, playing hacky sack, and one of those folded paper "Cootie Catcher" games. 

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Subtlety is not a concept the makers of this show are familiar with. 
Neither is pacing.
Within a minute after the opening sequence ends it's quickly established that our main character Luke is ”Kind of a nerd”, his two best friends vary slightly on the nerd spectrum, and the tie that binds them together is a passion for movies and A/V club. Less than a minute after that Luke is head over heels for a girl that happens to be Principal’s Daughter (Kate). 
Anything sound familiar yet?
Like someone cherry-picked Freaks and Geeks, The Goldbergs, Netflix's own hit Stranger Things, or any one of a host of other underdog coming of age, "reminiscing" shows. Today's TV landscape may be littered with shows that shamelessly prey on the "'member berries" of my demographic; (I’ll even go so far as to admit that when done well, “keep em’ coming”) but “Everything Sucks” never stops feeling like simply a vehicle for surface level 90’s pop culture references. 

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"Anyone want a Surge?"

"Everything Sucks" achieves the difficult task of simultaneously being completely unbelievable and highly predictable. A contradiction best explained by giving one (of many) examples:  Upon meeting, Luke's single mom and Kate's Principal Dad start secretly dating despite knowing their children also are. Their second date is instigated by the otherwise goody-goody Principal suggesting they smoke some pot together that he confiscated from a student. This event is completely out of character, out of left field, and becomes even more glaring as they proceed to smoke pot in the very parking lot of his school (in the daylight, no less) which eventually results in their traipsing through the school in search of a cure for the munchies, and later stripping down and swimming in the school's pool (?!)
It's so far-fetched and yet such obvious writing I almost turned the show off right then.

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The one unique storyline of the show is that Kate, while being simultaneously pursued by Luke is embracing the realization that she is actually attracted to women. While I can't claim to know the experience of realizing I am a Lesbian in high school, to me it ended up feeling almost as clunky as the rest of the show negating any groundbreaking it may have otherwise done. 

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"Everything Sucks"' heart is in the right place but in so many ways the execution is just not there.  It says it all that the show was made with my exact taste and demographic in mind yet I still can’t give it my endorsement.
So I'll give a predictable, hacky show a fittingly predictable and hacky review line-
"Everything Sucks" is everything mediocre.

...After rewatching the trailer I probably should've seen it coming.
Check it out HERE and let us know what you think.

Posted on August 16, 2018 .

Uncharted Avenger

A few weeks ago we were blessed with a 15 minuted Uncharted fan film starring Nathan Fillion (of Firefly and Castle fame) as Nathan Drake. Since the inception of the Uncharted video game franchise Fillion has been mentioned as the actor who should take the role of Drake. This is most likely because the character resembles Fillion so much that it's been hard to think of any other actor filling his shoes. Yesterday the director of the upcoming studio-backed Uncharted film told us that we were all wrong. Shawn Levy said via an interview with The Playlist "We now have a very good script and we have our star in Tom Holland. That is now subject to schedule and additional casting. But I would say as of right now, that seems to be the most near horizon. And it’s a movie I’m very excited about."


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That's right, that kid that played an excellent Spider-Man is going to be Nathan Drake. Now, if you're saying to yourself "wait...isn't Nathan Drake a middle aged ruggedly handsome treasure hunter dude" you're not wrong. Apparently, this Nathan Drake story will be a prequel because of course it will be. Holland was actually cast as Drake in May of 2017 but that was before the film even had a scriptwriter attached. Joe Carnahan (Death Wish & The Grey) is said to have completed a script for Levy. Hopefully, the team at Naughty Dog will give it's approval of this project  like they did with Fillion's fan film version. 

 

Stop What You're Doing And...Letterkenny!

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Navigating the world of series-streaming is hard. There are SO MANY options out there. The plethora of shows and the pressure to make good use of your screen time can lead to stream paralysis. Well, let me help you out of a bind and offer a suggestion to take your mind off that difficult decision.

Letterkenny is a comedy series centered around the day to day life of the residents of a small town in Canada. Most residents of Letterkenny fall into one of three factions: the hicks (farmers), the skids (druggies), and hockey players (they play hockey). Hick siblings Wayne and Katy and their friends Daryl and Squirrely Dan are at the center of this strange universe and the bulk of the series deals with their interactions with the other two groups. Katy seems to be the common denominator as hockey players Reilly and Jonesy are involved in some weird sexual love triangle with her and skid Stewart is secretly in love with her. Wayne has recently sworn off fighting but gets dragged back into the fray when assorted locals begin jockeying for the title of toughest in Letterkenny. Daryl and Dan are Wayne's best friends and thus not far behind in all of his exploits.

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The best way to describe the tone and feel of the show is a cross between early Kevin Smith and the Trailer Park Boys. The dialog is quick and snappy and instantly quotable although the subject matter is definitely not high brow. All of that toilet humor isn't without substance though (eww) as there are some clever observations buried in there. They guys have some pretty funny things to say about social media when they set up their own platform called "FartBook" for friends to share farts with their friends. 

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Letterkenny probably won't be your new favorite show, but it will definitely grant you a few chuckles while you wait for your favorites to return or for the next new sensation to drop. 

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Seasons one and two of Letterkenny are available to stream on Hulu. 

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Posted on August 13, 2018 .

Space Oddities - August: Sweet Tooth Hotel

I decided that once a month in 2018, I’m going to take a quick trip to explore/see/do/hear something weird and unusual in the space around me. I’m calling these Space Oddities and this is August…

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Over the last few years, there’s been a pop-up art installation trend across the country. Heard of the Museum of Ice Cream? Or the Color Factory? These are full-on themed art experiences you’re encouraged to immerse yourself in… touch, smell, hear, see, sometimes even taste. Unfortunately, unless you want to fly out to California, New York, or Florida, there’s been no interactive fun in Dallas. Until this summer.

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The Sweet Tooth Hotel is a small storefront on Victory Park Lane in Dallas. It’s cute, but unassuming from the outside; once you check yourself in with a concierge, however, a sweet world awaits you.

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The hotel is a five-room art installation by Dallas artists Jeremy Biggers, Shamsy Roomiani, Jojo Chuang, Rob Wilson and Chelsea Delzell. There’s a Ring Pop cactus infinity room, a dreamy hallway with clouds that respond to sound, a donut diner bathroom (complete with furry tub - I do not recommend touching the fur after the thousands that have done so before), a candy crazy bedroom & kitchen, and a stuffed animal carnival fun house via a refrigerator portal (definitely my favorite room).

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My visit to the Sweet Tooth Hotel was only a few weeks after my visit to Meow Wolf, so it was hard not to compare the two experiences (I mean, they both have fridge portals!). Meow Wolf is vast and intricate compared to Sweet Tooth Hotel and there’s really no fair comparison, so I decided to enjoy my Sweet Tooth Hotel visit for what it was - a fun, 60-minute, selfie-indulgent escape from an otherwise stupidly hot Texas afternoon.  

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If you’d like to visit the hotel, I’m sad to report you’re out of luck. It’s sold out entirely through August and that’s the end of its run. But! I did hear from a nearby shop owner after we left that there are already plans to revamp the space into another pop-up, this time space-themed… yes! I’d definitely go back and pay another $20 for that art voyage.

Posted on August 12, 2018 and filed under Space Oddities.

The Meg - REVIEW

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Once I heard about The Meg, I was excited. Jaws but huge? No matter how bad it was, I was sure I'd find some enjoyment in it and my expectations were pretty much fulfilled. 

The Meg fell into the problem many creature-features do, where they play up the mystery of what the creature is. A troupe that I find annoying, especially when all the press, trailers, and poster feature the monster you are expecting. Jurassic Park had a Raptor in the opening scene because it was a movie about dinosaurs. The Meg spends the first quarter of the film dodging the camera and hiding in the shadows... We know is a giant shark! Show us the giant shark!  

Now once the beast appears, they don't waste time highlighting it swimming around and tearing stuff up, for that I am grateful. The science behind where it was hiding all these eons is explained, logically and well thought out. I was surprised, as I simply expected a high budget SciFy movie and I was doubley shocked to find out The Meg is based on a book! A well received book at that AND the movie was in developmental hell, thanks in part to Deep Blue Sea, AND at one time had Guillermo del Toro at the helm! Holy Crap!

What we got instead was an action packed(-ish), horror film with a non-karate Jason Statham (nice change of pace for him) directed by National Treasure's Jon Turtletaub. Also filling the cast was, one of my personal favorites, Cliff Curtis who went terribly underused, Rainn Wilson who was really quite good, Ruby Rose, BingBing Li, Heroes' Masi Oka, and a bunch of other who all at one point or another fall into the water with the megalodon. 

This is far from the worst shark movie but it's nowhere near the best but it is a fun shark movie. I won't ruin the ending, obviously, but I will say felt the climax was somewhat lackluster and left me wanting more. Maybe an explosion in it's mouth or something... I guess that would be too much of a copy and paste, huh? 

5 BEST SHARK MOVIES

1) JAWS

2) THE SHALLOWS

3)  OPEN WATER

4) 47 METERS DOWN

5) THE MEG

 

Posted on August 11, 2018 and filed under Movie Reviews.

I ate the Munchie Mashups at Jack In The Box

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To the delight of the late night, stoner food culture, Jack In The Box added some new players to the line up. Introducing the $3 Munchie Mashups. We have the Jack'd Jalapeno Hash, Wakey Bakey Hash and H'angry Chicken Hash. For better or worse, I decided to try all three. Why not...

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First up is the Jack'd Jalapeno Hash. They take 2 crispy Hash Brown patties and smother it in melted white cheese, jalapenos, bacon and pepper jack cheese. 

Its pretty much a mess of cheese, jalapenos and bacon on some smooshed hash browns. For 3 bucks, its not much of a value. I can see the appeal. They should sell a few the their target audience.

 

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Next, we have the Wakey Bakey Hash. For this bad boy, they cover the hash browns and white cheese sauce with bacon, pepper jack and a fried egg.

Don't let the looks fool you, this one was pretty tasty. I imagine this was the impetus for the trilogy of mashups. It makes the most sense. Its also a pretty good deal for the money. It has all the best parts of an unhealthy breakfast!

 

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To complete the trio, we have the H'angry Buffalo Hash. We start with the aforementioned hash browns and white cheese sauce and cover them with chicken nuggets, Franks RedHot and ranch.

This one surprised me. I think I enjoyed it the best and it is by far the best value. The melted cheese work perfect with the chicken and Franks with the crispy hash browns being a perfect complement to the textures.

The verdict. Are they good? Sure. Will I get them again? Probably not. In no way is that a reflection of the final product, im just not the target audience.

 

 

Posted on August 10, 2018 and filed under Fast Foodnatic.

Patrick Stewart to return as Jean-Luc Picard

CBS has some good news this week. First they announced their CBS All-Access streaming service is doing well with over 2 Million subscribers. One could guess that a large number of those subscribers are attributed to it's Star Trek revival series, Star Trek: Discovery. These favorable numbers undoubtedly led to the second announcement which is a new Star Trek series starring Sir Patrick Stewart who will be returning to his role as Captain Jean-Luc Picard. CBS has a history of seeing success with a show and then mirroring it in spin off shows, like the 12 versions of CSI and NCIS they produced over the last 2 decades. It seems like Star Trek is the next franchise to get the CBS treatment.  

Stewart helped make the announcement himself at the Las Vegas Star Trek Convention as seen in the video above. “I will always be very proud to have been a part of Star Trek: The Next Generation, but when we wrapped that final movie in the spring of 2002, I truly felt my time with Star Trek had run its natural course,” Stewart said. “It is, therefore, an unexpected but delightful surprise to find myself excited and invigorated to be returning to Jean-Luc Picard and to explore new dimensions within him. Seeking out new life for him, when I thought that life was over.” We haven't seen Stewart as Picard since 2002's underrated (fight me, it's good) Star Trek: Nemesis film. 

I can't wait for Star Trek: Los Angeles and Star Trek: Miami. Make it so!

 

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PIZZA CHALLENGE: The Time-Lapse

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A little while ago a few of our steel-stomached geeks entered the world of competitive eating, and with the help of a couple of Go-Pros, were able to capture all the action. We've condensed the hour long gut bombing into about 9 minutes to make it easier to consume ;)

Read Matt's original article chronicling his path to pizza-eating stardom HERE.

Posted on August 6, 2018 .

Podcasts We Like

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The first time I heard about podcasts, it was 2005 and I was in grad school and had to write a paper about the newly developed broadcast medium. The first podcast I actually listened to was The Ricky Gervais Show, which I downloaded (because what was a podcast app?) and listened to on a CD in my car for years and years. If you’ve never heard or seen The Ricky Gervais Show - it was adapted to an animated series after the huge success of the podcast - dig around on the internet and find it. You’ll thank me later.

Fast forward a lot of years and a lot of listening and I think I’ve finally found my podcast niche. I’ve always preferred music to talk on the radio and that translated to my digital and streaming preferences, as well; however, the last few years, my commute time has increased and I’ve found that I want to use that otherwise wasted time to learn stuff. I feel very old and mature.

Here are a few podcasts that I’d classify as interesting and educational, but definitely not boring:

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The Allusionist with Helen Zaltzman. This is a podcast about language (stick with me) and the host is a delightful, linguistically-savvy Brit. She introduces and explores topics such as eponyms (there’s an annual episode each year and they’re one of my favorites) (related: listen to the episode about Trump… the verb), the origin of languages, semantics, language disorders, etymology, accents, technobabble, the language of math and science, and so much more. The episodes are quickly digestible in length (usually around 20 minutes) and include a word of the day - see if you can use it in an email. One of my favorite recent episodes is Ear Hustling, a rundown of the unofficial dictionary of San Quentin State Prison. Do you know what zoom zooms and wham whams are? Find out.

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Criminal with Phoebe Judge. Criminal is, you guessed it, a crime podcast, but it’s not all murder and gore here (I have other podcasts for that… true crime is my other podcast niche). This podcast takes a very thoughtful look at crime in general and presents to the listener a myriad of criminal situations: the abduction of a 1950s poodle named Masterpiece, the quiet persecution of lesbians in WWII, the streaker who has been banned from major sporting events around the globe, a mother-daughter coroner team, and the history of séances, to name a few. You’ll still get your fix of murder and cold cases, don’t worry. If you’ve watched The Staircase on Netflix, start at the beginning with Animal Instincts.

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Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness. Have you watched Netflix’s rebooted Queer Eye? If not, carve out a day and do it, then report back. I’ll wait. Okay, by now you’ll want to be BFFs with The Fab Five’s grooming guru Jonathan Van Ness. It’s understandable. He’s hilarious, smart, and thoughtful, all of which translates into his podcast. Going strong on its third year, this educational podcast pairs JVN with an expert in various fields and the two talk over whatever subject has captured Jonathan’s curiosity that week. If you’re coming to him from Queer Eye, catch the origin story episodes of his fellow castmates (Bobby Berk, Tan France, Karamo Brown, and Antoni Porowski); if you’re ready to jump into current topics, take your pick of traumatic family separation, ethics, and the opioid crisis. Bonus! There’s an episode with Helen Zaltzman of The Allusionist.  

There’s No Such Thing As A Fish. First off, have you ever watched or heard of QI? QI stands for Quite Interesting and it’s just that. I’ve been obsessed with the Stephen Fry-hosted British comedy panel quiz show for years and No Such Thing is a podcast hosted by the QI researchers, a.k.a. QI Elves. Every show presents four random facts, each of which leads to a humorously meandering discussion on said topic and, inevitably, more facts. It’s fun, fast, and fascinating and you will henceforth be equipped with interesting facts when there’s a lull in a conversation. Wondering how the podcast got its name and what type of facts you’ll hear if you listen? Watch this:

I hope you’ll check one or more of these out if you find yourself yearning for some learning.

Posted on August 5, 2018 .