Month: April 2014

Star Wars: Episode VII Cast Announced – Role and Story Predictions

I haven’t been this excited about movie news in a while. After months of speculation, the Star Wars: Episode VII cast has been announced. Don’t worry, old fans, Han, Leia, and Luke are back in the mix along with C-3PO, R2D2, and Chewbacca. What’s more exciting is the crop of amazing young actors and actress joining the galaxy far, far away.

Wish I were there.

Wish I were there. The cast of Star Wars: Episode VII.

Here are the old faces that are (thankfully) returning to the series:

  • Harrison Ford (My spirit grandfather)

    Han's back and ready for action.

    Han’s back and ready for action.

  • Carrie Fisher (Long time since she wore a gold bathing suit outfit)
  • Mark Hamill (Will Luke be someone’s father?)
  • Anthony Daniels (Human cyborg who speaks a million languages)
  • Peter Mayhew (RAWWWWRRR, or whatever sound Chewy makes)
  • Kenny Baker (I had no idea someone actually played R2D2)

And the new kids on the block:

  • John Boyega (The guy from Attack the Block with a thick English accent that is somewhat impossible to understand)
  • Daisy Ridley (A relative unknown)
  • Adam Driver (You know him as Lena Dunham’s BF on Girls)
  • Oscar Isaac (The guy who was really good as the guy who held the cat in that great Cohen brothers’ movie that no one saw last year, Inside Llewyn Davis)
  • Andy Serkis (Gollum)
  • Domnhall Gleeson (Bill Weasley in Harry Potter and the son of the brilliant Brendan)
  • Max von Sydow (Old guy you’ve seen in a bunch of good shit)

I have so many random thoughts right now. I’m more pumped than I was the first time I saw the original three movies when they were rereleased back in the late 90s. I’ll spare you an attempt to form any coherent thoughts and just list whatever comes to my head.

Early Role Predictions

  • Daisy Ridley plays the daughter of Han and Leia. I’m saying this because she’s sitting next to Ford and Fisher in the table read and I’ve heard from fans who read the books that Han and Leia has a daughter with a twin brother.
  • Oscar Isaac plays the song of Han and Leia. Isaac’s got the chops to play a lovable, but stubborn lead a la Ford. Will he be dragged into fighting bad guys just like Han was in the original three?
  • Adam Driver is the bad guy. This isn’t an original thought. It’s been talked about for a while now. But, as is Star Wars tradition, I think he starts out as a good guy and falls in love with the feared Dark Side of the Force.
  • Andy Serkis doesn’t play a human. Again, nothing original about this idea.
  • Boyega plays Ridley’s love interest. I don’t know why I’m feeling this, but I think they’re around the same age. The kid’s got acting chops and maybe Leia’s daughter falls for a rough-around-the-edges dude with a good sense of humor.
  • Gleeson plays someone charming and funny. He’s the son of Brendan. I see a comedic, likable role for this guy.
  • Max von old guy plays a bad guy. Star Wars loves their old white, white-haired men as bad guys. Is this too safe of a bet?

Story Predictions

  • Han Solo dies. Harrison Ford campaigned George Lucas to kill him off at the end of Empire Strikes Back. I think my spirit grandfather finally gets his wish here and he dies. It’s emotional, not just for me, but for everyone. His death sparks shockwaves of action throughout the universe.
  • C-3PO and R2D2 finally tie the knot. It’s the 21st century. Everyone, robots, humans, whoever, should be allowed to get married. It’s time to stop pretending. Love is love. Whether it’s mechanical or not.
  • Not much new technology. Remember, it hasn’t been a long time since the original Star Wars. Thirty years. That means a lot of the same shit. Awesome blasters, lightsabers, and hopefully… the Millennium Falcon. Oscar Isaac driving, anyone?
  • Funniest Star Wars yet. Have you seen either of J.J. Abrams’s Star Trek films? He’s got a good sense of humor that’ll go a long way in upholding the Star Wars tradition. Expect the jokes to come at just the right time and for the dialogue to be punchy and exciting.
  • Lots of lens flare. Abrams is from the Spielberg school of film, which bodes well for a franchise created by Steven’s best bud, Lucas. If you don’t know what lens flare was, see below.
J.J. loves his lens flare. It's beautiful.

J.J. loves his lens flare. It’s beautiful. This is in Super 8. 

Random

  • John Williams’s masterful score once again. What’s he got up his sleeves for making these new scores stand out?
  • Billy Dee Williams pops up somewhere in these films. Let’s be honest, he’s not doing anything else and is still a smooth talker. Not so much when it comes to dancing.
  • Box office record. I think this movie will beat Avatar’s worldwide box office record. It’s definitely the movie that has had the best chance in the past 20 years. Ugh. Avatar.

Hope you’re all excited as I am. Check out an old article I wrote for ScreenPicks that outlines what I think will happen in Episode VII. I was totally wrong on my casting predictions there.

May the Force be with you.

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Changing the Stereotype: Proof Women Are Funny

This week’s evidence, Amy Schumer. Apparently Comedy Central is powering a female comic revolution as a couple of weeks ago I talked about the hilarity of Broad City. This week I want to discuss its sketch show Inside Amy Schumer. Schumer found success in stand-up when she placed fourth a few years ago on Last Comic Standing. Her finish came as quite a surprise since she had only been doing stand-up for a couple of years. She’d previously had acting experience both on stage and television. This experience has helped her craft her top asset, delivery. As much as comedians who spend hours crafting and writing jokes don’t want to hear this, delivery is the most important aspect of comedy. Stand-up is a performance, so it is more important be an excellent performer over a great writer. There is a reason Judd Apatow stopped doing stand-up and became the successful writer/director/producer that he is today. Take a look at the performing chops Schumer displayed during her Last Comic Standing run.

Schumer’s success as a stand-up led to her getting a sketch comedy show, the aforementioned Inside Amy Schumer, last year. Her skills as a performer translate perfectly to TV, especially with the array of sketches on the show. Schumer’s best material comes out of turning stereotypes on their heads and her commitment to a bit. It is tough for me to say that anyone is topping Key and Peele in the half-hour sketch department, but the more I see from Schumer the more I’m convinced that she is the best in the game. Check out these skits as evidence.

There is noting too sacred or off limits with Schumer’s material. She simply tells the jokes and does the sketches that makes her laugh. This kind of commitment is necessary to create good comedy. A comedian should not be worried about how people will react to his or her material. It will throw off the whole bit. Either people love the material, don’t find it funny, or find it too offensive. But despite the financial success of Jay Leno’s career, good comedy cannot come out of playing it down the middle. Plus very few people can execute an all inclusive joke like Leno can, specifically without vomiting in their mouth. Inside Amy Schumer allows her to take the show wherever she wants and the end result is usually hilarious.

And lastly, watch this pitch perfect Sorkin parody – The Foodroom.

Would You Rather

This week’s would you rather is for the straight male readers. Apologies ladies and my homosexual friends, I’ll make it up to you with more evidence that disproves the stereotype that women aren’t funny. Would rather get fucked in the ass for $100,000 a day or not? Yes, I realize this is not a traditional would you rather, but guess what, I don’t give a fuck. 

The crux of this question is what would you do for 100 grand a day. Ladies and my homosexual friends feel free to think of this question in this manner. For me the answer is, anything short of a felony. Seriously, I would do anything short of committing a crime that comes with a felony tag for that kind of money. You want me to literally eat shit, give me a $100 grand a day. You want me to ruin the housing market with irresponsible loans? I’ll work for Goldman Sachs and make $100 grand a day. You want me to kick dogs, just write a check with a 1 followed by five zeros. Rather have me kick a cat? Well, you don’t have to pay me anything, I do that for free.

$100,000 a day equates to $36.5 million a year. If I keep that out the hands of Uncle Sam I can retire at the age of 26. Considering that I will not have a wife or any kids to ever worry about I can easily live off that money. Therefore, if any super rich man, who may or may not direct a famous movie franchise based on a famous Marvel Cartoon series, is interested in slipping one in the backdoor, then just plop $100k on the table, break out the good K&Y Jelly, put on some Marvin Gaye, pun intended, and go to town.

I’m sure more than a few readers are disgusted at the very thought and it is definitely a difficult pill to swallow. Or perhaps enema to take would be more appropriate.  But I think there are a lot worse ways to earn that kind of money. If I had to choose to make $36.5 million working a soul crushing, boring, office job that gives me no satisfaction for 80-100 hours a week or a quick 5-30 min romp in the old poop shooter, give me the latter.

Sure it would be psychology damaging at first, but it would not last as long as the stress of the long, grueling job that slowly removes all pleasure from my life. A job that makes it impossible for me to come home and spend time with my family without downing a few glasses of scotch and eventually leads to at least three divorces, plus the alimony that comes with said divorces.

We all want to get super rich doing the thing we love, but lets face it only 1% of us will ever achieve said goal. The American Dream is great to aspire to, but it also distracts us from the reality that the system ends up fucking over a lot more of us than it ever helps. If someone offered us a bet with the same odds of winning as achieving the American Dream, then we would all walk away if it cost us $100 grand to play. How much is the rest of our lives worth? A whole lot more I would hope.

Everyone needs to temper their expectations and realize that there is happiness outside of the much publicized American Dream of becoming the super rich amongst us. The reason our country has such low taxes on the super rich compared to other countries is that we’re convinced someday we will be one of those super rich and we do not want to pay those taxes when we get there.

Achieving that level of financial success comes with steep costs one way or the other, time, work, moral ambiguity, friends, and even family. In the grand scheme of things getting a dick in the ass is not as bad as some of the other prices we could pay. It is highly homophobic to think that is so disgusting as to pass on an amount of money that can take care of ourselves and our families for the rest of their lives. For me this would you rather is easy, give me that $100 grand a day and in a year you can find me on the links at Pebble Beach for the rest of my life.

Donald Being Donald

Donald Sterling is old racist bastard. This is not news, he’s been that way for a long, long time. Yet listen to any radio station or watch any “news” channel, sports or otherwise, and this is the shocker of the year. As vile and reprehensible as the statments made by Sterling in the recording it is hardly news.

This is one heavy photo cause it’s full of ‘Iron’y.

This is the same guy that was sued by long time Clippers’ executive, Elgin Baylor, for employment discrimination based on race and age. Baylor alleged in the suit that Sterling said, “I want to fill the team with poor black boys from the south and a white head coach.” A white head coach that Sterling gave significantly more money to than the African American Baylor who had been with the franchise for much longer.

Then there was the 2006 lawsuit based on Sterling’s housing practices where he refused to sell properties based on race. He did not sell to non-Koreans in Korea Town. Sterling refused to sell to Hispanics because, “they smoke, drink, and just hang around the building.” And would refuse to sell properties in Beverly Hills to black people because black tenants, “Smell and attract vermin.” And let’s not forget Sterling’s claim to us $50 million on affordable housing to decrease the sizable homeless population in Los Angeles through his foundation. A claim that helped him win a 2009 NAACP Lifetime Achievement award, oh the irony, yet nothing has been built on the land now eight years later.

It’s impossible for me to believe that no other owners in the NBA nor David Stern and his cronies were unaware of Sterling’s attitude towards race, yet allowed him to continue owning a franchise in a sport dominated by Black athletes. Now, as the cry for Sterling’s head is at peak volume, is not the time to do what they should’ve done years ago. The NBA should be forced to lie in the stinky bed it made. Beyond being an out-of-touch, outdated racist bastard, Sterling has also been a terrible owner. Constantly cutting corners and doing everything on the cheap in order to pursue profits over championships Sterling has lead the worst franchise, record wise, in the NBA since he took over ownership. But his philosophy has worked, buying the team in 1982 for $12.5 million, the team is now valued at $575 million. Even factoring in inflation that is quite a payday for the billionaire.

Donald Sterling is fine with fucking black people, just don't publicize it.

Donald Sterling is fine with fucking black people, just don’t publicize it.

Beyond the hypocrisy of forcibly removing Sterling the NBA also does not have much legal precedence. Sure his statements are disgusting and ignorant, but there is nothing illegal about them. He was having a private conversation with his girlfriend that he was unaware was being recorded. It does not make what he said okay, but the dubious way it came out would not stand in any court of law. Sterling’s punishment cannot come through legal action, but the court of public opinion definitely has precedence to punish him with vigor. People who want his head on a stick surprise me. It is never a good idea to respond to intolerance with intolerance. Sterling is free to have his own thoughts and opinions just like everyone else. If you do not like his opinions, which is almost everyone, then don’t listen or support him. People can stop going to games, stop putting money in his pocket if you do not like what he is saying, but they cannot take away the team he rightfully bought. Let the market force him out, if the Clippers become economic burden by losing sponsors and having dwindling attendance, then Sterling will be forced to either sell the team or take the financial hits.

Something tells me Mr. Sterling’s invitation is getting lost in the mail.

Part of the reason for the uproar is how outdated Sterling’s views are, which is the silver lining in all of this. 30 years ago, when Sterling bought the team, most people would not have batted an eye towards such comments. The country was not far removed from Jim Crow laws and a segregated country. It was still common for the N-word to be used casually in conversation and there was a greater percentage of people who thought like Sterling than there is now. He is a dying breed, old white men whom were raised under the belief that minorities were inferior by nature. It does not make it okay to have these beliefs, but everyone needs to understand that this has been ingrained in people for Centuries. The only way for things to truly change is for these older generations to die off and our more socially progressive generation to gain power in society. Unfortunately this is just the way change happens, it would be great if it could be sped up, but unless someone is willing to commit genocide we’ll all just have to patiently wait.

New Music Monday: Harlem Shakes

By now, you’ve heard of the Alabama Shakes. And that’s a good thing. But you most likely haven’t stumbled across any music from the disbanded, formerly New York City-based Harlem Shakes.

harlem-shakes

Though the band had a brief life (from 2006-2009), they managed to produce an awesome album called Technicolor Health.

The first Harlem Shakes song I was introduced to (thanks to Spotify, as always) was “Strictly Game.”

I love this song. For a brief second, it sounds like a tune Pitbull would sing, but it quickly turns into a well-paced, harmonious jam that provides hope for a better year. I can’t help but think that singer Lexy Benaim’s voice symbolizes the inner voice of hope that we all have in our own heads.

Another one of my favorite songs is “Natural Man.”

I love the reference to 1998 and the idea of “Zima Saturday sunsets, watching the world.” I’ve still never had a Zima, but I’ve got a feeling one would taste good in the sunset.

I have not listened to the band’s first record, Burning Birthdays, quite yet, but I’m looking forward to it. Take a listen to Harlem Shakes and let me know what you think!

We’re Sexy Now: Check Out Our New Design!

Check us out. We got our hair did. We shaved. We even got calf implants.

Kidding. We can’t afford calf implants, but we hope you like the new and improved design courtesy of our very own Wonder Millennial Woman, Annie Janowski. If you want to know more about how awesome she is, check out our new Meet the Millennial Men section.

Hope you like the new look and keep an eye out for more content to come!

My Quest To Find Funny Women

It is cliche to say women aren’t funny. This is absolutely not true. It just happens that much like the female orgasm it is a lot harder to find examples of funny women compared to their male counterparts. It takes a lot of hard work and determination, but since I apparently lack the skills to make a woman cum I’m hoping to have more like with this funny business.

I will search every corner of the earth to find all the funny women that exist in order to change the stereotype and get people to accept women as funny. I’m basically like MLK. First up is a pair of women, Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer, the creators of Comedy Central’s Broad City. This is the quintessential Millennial’s show of millennial women living in New York because unlike that much more praised show on HBO it is actually funny. I realize that my bias against Lena Dunham just came out and I need to stop being so bitter, but Broad City made me realize why I dislike Dunham’s show so much, it doesn’t pick a side. Is it a satire? A character study? A romantic comedy? What? It is fine to tightrope between multiple visions of your show, but you need to be a damn good writer to pull it off, which I do not find her to be. Her show just comes off as self-indulgent, bourgeois New York art crap that I despise so much. Alright, digression over. 

Jacobson and Glazer have a better understanding of exactly the type of show they want to make it and as a result their show is much funnier. They mix biting satire with absurdist humor and the result is a potent cocktail of laughs. The show in a highlights the ennui and self-importance of the Millennial generation in a highly comedic fashion.

If my seal of approval is not enough for you, then perhaps Leslie “fucking” Knope’s is. Amy Poehler loved the web series, of the same name, Glazer and Jacobson did that she backed it with her production company, Skyson. Her support was influential to getting the show on the air. Poehler knows how to pick a winner because the first season of the show, all episodes available on Hulu Plus, is a fast track candidate to enter my Great Lakes of best seasons of television ever. Seriously, check it out and try to tell me you don’t piss yourself from laughing.

I cannot wait to see what Jacobson and Glazer have for a follow up. Plus I have a new mission in life, do whatever it takes to work with and/or for them someday. I do not care what it takes to trick them into hiring me or convincing them to work together, I’ll do it. Even if it means killing a person, alright maybe not a person, but animals are definitely in play. And I certainly have no qualms with establishing an indentured sex servant agreement. 

Happy Birthday Emma Watson

Dear Emma (Watson),

Eastyn informed me today is your birthday, so have a good one. I promised I wouldn’t write any more letters, but unlike a dementor, I have a soul.

What else is there to say, really? I don’t know how much more you could ask for on your birthday than my undying love. And I already gave that to you. I didn’t need an occasion.

I’m not bitter. I think your cold, quiet rejection helped me see the world for what it really is: a place where only some people get to live out their wildest fantasies. The rest of us trudge through the monotony of everyday life with stenciled-on grins to hide our charred souls.

Happy Birthday. Don't expect a card in the mail from the Millennial Man.

Happy Birthday. Don’t expect a card in the mail from the Millennial Man.

I stole that last line from a Hallmark card I found in the “Tongue-In-Cheek Birthday” section at CVS. I would send it, but your consistent show of apathy leads me to believe you’d toss any paper greeting from me straight into the trash. And frankly, I can’t waste $4 right now.

Luckily, writing this blog post is free, so happy 24th, Hermione.  Hope you enjoy it teaching yoga or doing whatever awesome thing you’re doing these days.

Whatever,

Billy

No, Virginia, There Isn’t A Santa Claus

The worst thing you can do is lie. Or at least that is what my parents would tell me time and time again growing up. Being the smart ass that I was, still am, when I would get caught in a lie I’d always counter with the fact that my parents had lied to me for nearly 10 years of my life. Granted I’m partly to blame for believing that there was a fairy whom collected teeth that I lost and gave me a quarter for it. Who would be dumb enough to have that business model? The cost of flying all over the world constantly buying teeth. I mean how much could a baby teeth be worth on the market? For believing that a bunny came and hid eggs on the day our lord and savior Jesus Christ rose and brought us to salvation. And that there was a fat, jolly man that flew around the world giving presents to every little boy and girl in one night. Plus he is afraid of doors, so he chooses to enter via the chimney.

No wonder The Rock came back to the WWE. He lost all his money in the Teeth Import/Export Industry.

No wonder The Rock came back to the WWE. He lost all his money in the Teeth Import/Export Industry.

Lies, all of them. Sure they were not the most deceitful lies since the fairy didn’t come unless I told my parents. The bunny always hid the eggs in the exact same spot. And Santa’s handwriting was suspiciously similar to my Mom’s. Never the less, still lies. “But it’s the good kind of lie. The kind that spreads childhood wonder and joy.” Easy there, Pandora, have you not learned your lesson about opening your box? Don’t get me wrong, I do think that lying can be a good thing. It is impossible to live without telling lies, but these childhood fables are not the kind that improve lives in fact they promote the bad kind of lies. The one’s we tell ourselves.

I lie almost daily and the majority of these lies are to myself. I lie to convince myself I live in a world where a fat jolly man brings presents just for me. A world where I’m special and good things are supposed to happen to me. “I can eat that doughnut, I’m not getting fatter. It’s okay to slack off at work, I’m going to become a millionaire TV writer someday. She’s a idiot and going to be miserable the rest of her life because I’m the only man whom can please her.” The problem with the lies of Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and all the rest is that it creates this fairy tale world for kids that becomes so comforting that the reality becomes harder to handle as we get older.

“Santa has been around for centuries and generations have been able to grow up just fine.” The Santa of the past was a modest one. He might bring you one present, maybe two if you’re lucky and he certainly did not have the PR department he does now. The commercialization of Christmas has turned Santa into a mega corporation. He is everywhere from October through December. Everything is bigger, brighter, and more expensive. The Santa fallacy has gotten out of control, which is why I’ve decide that I will not spread it to my children. The buck stops here. It won’t be some fairy with no business acumen handing out quarters for lost teeth. No bunny will be hopping around hiding colored eggs for some strange reason. And no present under the tree will read, “From, Santa.”

What the fuck happened to this bunny growing up that makes him want to hide colored eggs?

What the fuck happened to this bunny growing up that makes him want to hide colored eggs?

I know, I know how awful of me. How could I scar my children like that? We’ll see whose laughing by the time all our kids grow up. But even before then I’ll enjoy a wonderful childhood with them all. By not lying to them my kids will understand that there is an open line of conversation between us and there is nothing we cannot discuss. They will understand that no magical beings are going to give them things because of a date on the calendar. Instead things are earned by merit, so they will not pull that little kid crap where they cry to get there way because they think they’re special and deserve it. This attitude will lead to them blowing away the competition academically and moving through school in an accelerated fashion. All earning academic scholarships through high school and college, saving me a bundle and allowing for an early retirement.

They will learn that lying is not something that should be used to make ourselves feel better because that only holds us back. Lies should be used to help others through manipulation. Manipulation has a negative connotation because most people whom use it do so for their own gain. It can also be used to get people to do something that they would otherwise not and this may improve their lives. Lies can also help protect others from truths that are too difficult to handle. As my children grow up they will understand how people operate because they operated above all these fallacies. They will become arbiters of lies and understand how to use them in a logical, not emotional way, and this will help get the most out of life. Most lies we tell are emotional in order to make ourselves feel better, no matter whom we may hurt. These are bad lies and can be traced back to the Santa fallacy as its roots. Logical lies, where the person understands exactly what they’re doing and why they’re doing it are positive.

By never lying to my children I will give them a greater chance to succeed. It will be a pain in the ass to deal with all the angry parents of kids that mine tried to spread the truth to, but it will be worth the sacrifice to see all that they will accomplish. Plus I hope that this article inspires you all to end the Santa fallacy as well. Together we have the power to put an end to Santa Claus forever. But if this article is not enough to inspire you to join me, then consider this, Santa’s been fucking your mother for years. Let’s kill that bastard.

santa dead

New Music Monday: The California Honeydrops

I forgot how much Monday sucked. It seems like it’s been an eternity since the last one. That’s probably because by the time Saturday rolls around, Monday feels like a terrible, distant memory. Then Sunday night hits and the immediacy of Monday swallows you unsuspectingly, the way a certain Game of Thrones character unknowingly imbibed a purple poison last night.

Never fear, however. I think I’ve found the perfect mood boosting music to help you reach the peak of Monday Mountain and descend delightfully into Tuesday.

Today’s new artist is The California Honeydrops.

california-honeydropssfgate

If you like blues, jazz, or soul, you will love The California Honeydrops. The band formed in late 2007, first debuting their riffs in Oakland subway stations. The group is known for their creative instrument choices like homemade a gutbucket bass, washboard, and jug.

It’s hard to find the group’s music anywhere online (I found them on Spotify), but that shouldn’t be surprising for a band that started playing in subway tunnels.

Below is “Pumpkin Pie,” a song that can be interpreted in a couple of different ways.

I haven’t known the band that long, but this seems quintessential California Honeydrops. They look like they’re having the time of their lives in this non-descript, vintage van. Maybe one day they’ll do another close quarters performance with Jimmy Fallon and The Roots on The Tonight Show. Can you imagine how fun that’d be?

One of the band’s more popular songs, “Like You Mean It,” teaches a valuable lesson about going after the person you want and not holding anything back.

I love the lyrics in this song:

You might be wondering which way to turn/You know we all wondering the same thing too

But if you feel there must be something more/ And love is what you’re living for then here’s all I got to say to you

If you want it, go out and get it/ If you love it, hold on to it

But don’t you keep it just cause you think you need it/But if you do it, do it like you mean it

The California Honeydrops speak the truth. When you commit to doing something, especially going after someone, do it like you mean it. Don’t go through the motions because you feel like you have to. Life’s too short.

I encourage you to check out some of The California Honeydrops’ other awesome tracks like “In Your Power,” “When It Was Wrong,” “Here Comes Love,” and “Same Ol’, Same Ol’.”

Happy Monday!