2016 Year-End Music Lists (MEGA POST)

I don’t do enough music posts.

Hear is a list of my top ten favorite songs from 2016

And a list of my favorite albums from 2016 (or 2015 if I bought it this year)

My music tastes have shifted slightly. I like a lot more pop now which is weird because I was heavy into poop (I mean pop) when I was an infant but through the years it’s gotten so bad that it became hard to listen to. It’s come full circle now. It’s not as gimmicky as in the 90’s or as teeny bop as it got in the 00’s (aughts). Pop is back and all over the song list. The albums are a little more varied.

Also rap has gotten better. But I’m gonna be honest with you. Rap was shit to begin with. It represented some powerful things but musical integrity and artistry was not one of those things. Rap has evolved nicely… musically. The lyrics still ain’t about shit tho.

Here are my favorite songs.

Top Ten Favorite Songs From 2016

Just the music for each ALL AUDIO (this is a music list for heaven’s sake not a dance contest) but if I find a seriously smoking live version… I can’t help myself.

The first one is a heart-breaker. Just beautiful.

#10 Heart Shaped Face by Angel Olsen

Next Lady Gaga (who I can barely stand but this is infectious). No video. No live performance because the less of her antics the better. The song speaks for it self. Raw and bare and catchy as hell.

#9 A-YO by Lady Gaga

Next up Drake, who is really (surrounded by) more talented (people) than he gets credit for. I like this song. I like more of his stuff than I care to admit. No video. No audio. No nothing. Because Drake ain’t having it. And the guy is nothing if not full of himself.

#8 Still Here by Drake

No Audio.

See.

Told ya.

Nothing.

But anyway… Here’s Anderson .Paak (with a special guest getting down on number seven) to fill in the empty space.

#7 Room In Here by Anderson .Paak

Yeah that was tasty as all fucking hell but here’s a live version that’s just nasty… I told you people years ago… Anderson .Paak is about to bloooooow.

Next a David Bowie song that is one of his best and sadly one of his last. Here is Michael C. Hall doing a killer version of Lazarus on The Late Show.

#6 Lazarus by David Bowie

Next I want to point out that Rihanna put out her best album this year. She is maturing as an artist quite nicely. Her last three albums have been amazing. But ANTI is her best. Here’s my favorite song off of that. I like when she sticks to her island roots. She’s another one with antics on top of antics. Let the music speak for itself, woman.

#5 Work by Rihanna

Told you my songs list was heavy on the pop.

Okay here’s some more. I love this woman she made one of the best albums of the year and if not for two of the most talented people on the planet eclipsing her this would be my number one song.

#4 Influence by Tove Lo

Okay this is where it gets tricky. I’m skipping ahead to number two. Don’t ask why. It’s my blog that’s why. This is the number two best song from last year it’s by Childish Gambino (or Donald Glover as it says on his license). And in case you haven’t been paying attention, this dude is one of my favorite artists (period). This new album is AMAZING. This guy is a rapper… This is not rap at all. This is a work of ART.

#2 Me and Your Mama by Childish Gambino

The reason I skipped number three is because numbers three and one go together sooooo well. I’m not even a big Beyoncé fan. This is the second and third cut on what is undoubtedly one of the best albums of all time. I know. I know. Everybody knows this already. But I don’t even like her. Not Destiny’s Child. Not nothing. Never have. Lemonade is one of the best albums of all-time.

Hold Up (number three) brings in that island feel that I like so much. And yes because you can’t separate the music from the art installation that she attached it to (even though you totally can) here is the video. It rocks.

And yes Don’t Hurt Yourself is NUMBER ONE. And it features one of my favorite songwriters of all-time the great Jack White. (Zeppelin fans will recognize the drum opening from the song. He’s a big Jimmy Page disciple) There is no video and no audio. So I will end the list with number three.

#1 Don’t Hurt Yourself by Beyoncé 

No Audio

#3 Hold Up by Beyoncé

So that was kind of anti-climactic (thanks YouTube)

And here are my favorite albums

Top Ten Favorite Albums of 2016

Of course most of these artists are featured in my songs list but where they are not I try to include my favorite cut off the album as a little sample of their work. But being on this list means that I think that at least half of the songs on their latest album are perfect. Not just good. PERFECT.

#10 Fetty Wap by Fetty Wap 

fetty-wap

This is a beautiful example of the beauty of Trap Music (from 2015, late again). Tight and rhythmic and dramatic and syncopated and nasty… lyrics notwithstanding. Fetty Wap is Trap. Trap is Fetty Wap. If you don’t know Trap, this is a good place to start.

Trap is like Horror Movie theme chords with nasty hi-hat & tight snare over the top and some deep bass shaking you to your core (you have to say that like qquwwwore)

#9  I Like It When You Sleep… by The 1975 

the-1975

Cinematic and poetic and some of the best catchiest hooks and riffs and writing this side of Duran Duran, INXS, Early Third Eye Blind. But with poetry that makes those guys seem trite and hokey. The 1975 is deep. These lyrics pack a punch.

If you’re not crying after that, you need to listen to it again.

#8 Beauty Behind The Madness by The Weeknd 

the-weeknd

If Michael had a crown The Weeknd should have it sent out and fitted to his big fucking head because this is the new king of pop. No joke. (again 2015 but I’m slow you know)

Highlight: Dark Times (feat. Ed Sheeran)

No Audio.

#7 ANTI by Rihanna

anti-rihanna

I recognize that her sex appeal is off the charts but so is her talent and this album is amazing. Her best so far… pain and perfection and pain and perfection.

#6 Blackstar by David Bowie

david-bowie-blackstar

This is not some posthumous, throw some accolades in his fucking grave, platitude. Blackstar is a fantastic last album and heartrendingly poignant and beautiful and prophetic. David Bowie goes out on top. An amazing artist to the end.

#5 Sometimes I Sit And Think… by Courtney Barnett 

courtney-barnett

Yes I know this is also from 2015 but it took a while to get to me from Melbourne, Australia. This is a rock album on par with the best from Pretenders, Lou Reed, Early U2 and Talking Heads. But this woman, Courtney Barnett, can write her ass off better than any of those acts. I kid you not.

Check this shit out.

Raw, powerful, genuine. I love this sound.

#4 Lady Wood by Tove Lo 

lady-wood

Tove Lo is an extremely talented Swedish singer who totally worships Madonna. You can hear it in everything she does, except she’s much better than Madonna ever was… and Madonna was amazing for a while. Tove Lo is honest and raw and dirty and infinitely dance-able and incredibly fuck-able. And I love the title.

#3 Malibu by Anderson .Paak

anderson-paak-malibu

With each release, Anderson .Paak comes more and more into his own, into his talent. He ain’t even fully formed yet. He’s like that pie baking in the oven that’s ALMOST done but not quite. I mean the smell is all over the neighborhood and it’s beautiful and it’s funky as all hell. But give it a minute. The best is yet to come but I’m salivating now.

#2 Lemonade by Beyoncé

lemonade

SURPRISE. That’s right, friends, one of the best albums of all-time is only the second best album of last year. But yeah Beyoncé hit it out the park. Who knew emotional pain and turmoil was good for songwriting? Everybody. Everybody knew that shit.

So that means the number one album of 2016 has to be…

Drum roll please…

#1  Awaken My Love by Childish Gambino

childish-gambino-awaken-my-love

And why? Because of the courage. This is a rapper. An established act with a major following and he just released one of the funkiest R&B albums I have ever heard. He has always been the hook master. And he has always been the lyrics master. Now he is the funk master. If this isn’t up for album of the year I’m gonna send the Music Academy two thousand and sixteen hearing aids with the sound turned all the way up and the knob broken. But seriously, he’s way too talented. There’s a limit, dude.

I’m gonna end with this song. It’s kinda silly but very cool.

And that’s my music wrap-up for the year.

Have a

Happy New Year

Everybody.

– Mel

Ten Quick Reviews of Ten Bad Movies I Watched During The Election Season

So after not posting for a while, I had a bunch of mini-reviews in a folder on my desk. So I took out all of the bad reviews and threw them into a blog post.

This one.

It’s bad.

"Give it to me straight. Is it bad?" "Oh. It's bad."

“Give it to me straight. Is it bad?” “Oh. It’s bad.”

You damn right it’s bad. Like a ten car pile-up on an interstate highway bad. Like sharing a slow-moving elevator with a mime that wants to make eye contact bad. Like a customer service call returning a defective sex toy bad. It’s bad, I tell you.

These ten movies are ten REALLY bad movies.

"Oh they can't be all that bad." Just look at yourself. That's how bad.

“Oh they can’t be all that bad.” Just take a look at yourself. That’s how bad they are, Urge boy.

So we’re gonna rip them off like a band-aid… like ten cinematic band-aids. Quick and painless. One at a time. Presenting…

Ten Quick Reviews of Ten Bad Movies I Watched During The Election Season

These are the movies that I watched when the news was too much. Movies that I used to take my mind off the horrors of politics. I watched a lot more (some good ones). But these are the movies that reminded me what true horror was like. Bad movies.

There’s nothing worse than bad movies (not even politics).

To the list…

First up.

Alice Through the Looking Glass (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

alice-through-the-looking-glass

Directed by James Bobin

Written by Linda Woolverton

Starring Johnny DeppAnne HathawayMia WasikowskaMatt LucasRhys IfansHelena Bonham Carter & Sacha Baron Cohen

Alice Through the Looking Glass is a mess of a movie. Disjointed and unfocused. Like a mad tea party but, you know, literally. Nobody wants to have tea with a bunch of crazy people. Hot tea get’s everywhere. And it’s not fun.

mad-hatter

The first Alice in Wonderland was fantastic. Magical. Whimsical. Wonderful. Look what a mess they made of my Alice. Really. Looking Glass is awful.

the-red-queen

WHO’S GONNA CLEAN THIS SHIT UP?

Next. Another sequel mishap.

Independence Day: Resurgence (20th Century Fox)

independence-day-resurgence

Directed by Roland Emmerich

Written by Nicolas WrightJames A. Woods, Dean Devlin, Roland Emmerich and James Vanderbilt

Starring Liam HemsworthJeff GoldblumBill PullmanMaika MonroeJessie T. UsherTravis TopeWilliam FichtnerCharlotte GainsbourgJudd HirschBrent Spiner & Sela Ward

OMG what a waste of space and time and space-time and everything… Garbage. Total garbage. Space garbage? No. That actually makes it sound too interesting. Space garbage might tell a story. We could actually learn something from space garbage. Maybe even re-purpose it. One man’s space garbage… and all that. But this was wholly unnecessary. Nobody needed this. Nobody wanted this. It’s big and useless.

independence-day-resurgence-garbage

Independence Day: Resurgence is a big and useless piece of Earth garbage. Just plain old Earth garbage. Huge, smelly, redundant and taking up too much space.

Speaking of redundancy…

Money Monster (TriStar Pictures)

money-monster

Directed by Jodie Foster

Written by Alan Di FioreJim Kouf & Jamie Linden

Starring George ClooneyJulia RobertsJack O’ConnellDominic WestCaitriona Balfe & Giancarlo Esposito

Here’s a thought experiment for you beautifully open-minded people. Knowing what you do about the political views of Jodie Foster’s good friend Mel Gibson. How would you view a movie where Jewish people use black people and labor unions to manipulate the stock markets in order to steal money from under-educated, hard-working white American men?

money-monster

Well what if that movie were say directed by Mr. Gibson himself? EXACTLY!! If this movie had Mel Gibson’s name on it, it would easily be recognized for the paranoid racist, anti-Semitic bullshit that it’s meant to be. And it’s not even a good movie.

george-clooney-probably-had-no-idea-how-racist-this-really-was

Say what you want about Mel but at least HE would have made a good Nazi propaganda film starring George Clooney and Julia Roberts. I’m just saying.

NEXT

The Duel 2016 (Lionsgate Premiere)

the-duel

Directed by Kieran Darcy-Smith

Written by Matt Cook

Starring Woody HarrelsonLiam HemsworthAlice BragaEmory Cohen, Felicity Price, José Zúñiga & William Sadler

The Duel is a slow burn to a gun fight. The way a western should be. The gun fight is good (No seriously it’s actually a pretty good fight) but the wait is not worth it. On the way to the epic gun duel we would like to be entertained not bored to death.

liam-hemsworth-the-duel

There’s the classic revenge story with the powerful villain and the hero with little to no power but there’s also some other stories going on that are pretty fucking dumb.

the-duel-snake-church

Some kind of cult thing. Racist serial killer clap-trap. It’s kind of weird and requires way too much patience. This ain’t Unforgiven guys.

the-duel-woody-harrelson

The duel at the end of The Duel is not worth sitting through The Duel to get to. Watch the beginning. Fast forward to the end. Save two hours of your life. You’re welcome.

Moving on…

Urge (Lionsgate Premiere)

urge-poster

Directed by Aaron Kaufman

Written by Jerry Stahl

Starring Justin ChatwinAshley GreeneAlexis KnappBar PalyChris GeereNick ThuneKea HoDanny Masterson & Pierce Brosnan

I watched it. I watched Urge. I watched the whole thing. The acting is awful. The story is strange. It’s about a group of friends that try a designer drug that makes you do stuff. Makes you feel something. I don’t know. It’s stupid.

urge_2016

There are maybe a couple of good scenes worth a chuckle or a snort, titillation, horror, suspense, but for the most part the movie is pointless and useless and stupid and garbage and… and…

urge

And I’m done talking about it.

Moving on…

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising (Universal Pictures)

neighbours-2-sorority-rising

Directed by Nicholas Stoller

Written by Andrew Jay CohenBrendan O’Brien, Nicholas Stoller, Evan Goldberg & Seth Rogen

Starring Seth Rogen, Zac EfronRose ByrneChloë Grace MoretzDave Franco & Ike Barinholtz

Nowhere near as good as the first Neighbors (or Bad Neighbours for you Brits). This is more about the actors than the story. A couple of good laughs but for the most part the movie is a pale version of the first one. Like the second American Pie.

bad-neighbours-2

You can tell they had fun making it. Young girls in bikinis, titillation (emphasis on the tit). Zac Efron is still hot as fuck. Chloë Moretz is finally beginning to look less like Chris Hansen can’t be far behind. And Seth Rogen is good for a laugh every now and again.

neighbors-2

But Neighbors 2 is just plain frivolity and not as fun or as funny as it should be.

Speaking of Brits…

Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

absolutely-fabulous-the-movie-poster

Directed by Mandie Fletcher

Written by Jennifer Saunders  Based on Absolutely Fabulous by Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French

Starring Jennifer Saunders, Joanna LumleyJulia SawalhaJane HorrocksJune WhitfieldChris ColferKate MossLulu & Emma Bunton

I usually like what these incredibly funny women do but this was a waste of time and rarely if ever funny. Absolutely Fabulous fell into the trap that many TV shows do of simply making a larger version of the show with lots of special guest stars. That’s alright for a made for TV special. Movies need to have plots. Like a real proper plot. And then you throw the familiar faces in there and you got yourself a movie.

absolutely-fabuous-the-movie

Sex in the City messed theirs up. Entourage did the same. They blow their entire budget on big name cameos and don’t bother trying to entertain. You know who does television to movies well? The Muppets that’s who. They put those familiar characters in a movie. Yes they throw in a couple of guest appearances but there’s a plot going on.

ab-fab-absolutely-fabulous-the-movie

Sure it’s nice to see these ladies again but I would have preferred something a little more substantial. And a lot more funny.

Next.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (Paramount Pictures)

tmnt-out-of-the-shadows

Directed by Dave Green

Written by Josh Appelbaum and André Nemec  Based on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by Kevin Eastman & Peter Laird

Starring Megan FoxWill ArnettLaura LinneyStephen AmellNoel FisherJeremy HowardPete PloszekAlan Ritchson & Tyler Perry

I have never watched the cartoon version of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It’s mostly famous for the cartoon version. I remember the comic books but there were lots of comics that I didn’t read but still watched the cartoons. And I remember that time. I was a cartoon watching fiend back then. I have NEVER not even by accident viewed a whole episode of the program, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Because of the fucking commercials.

teenage-mutant-ninja-turtles

And I know why. The commercial for the toys. And promos for the cartoons and the tie-ins with McDonald’s or Mattel or whatever. Those fucking commercials were every where all over the shows I did watch. And they were obnoxious. I would never watch the damn show because it reminded me of those fucking commercials for the damn show.

april-oneil-from-out-of-the-shadows

So I was never a fan but I do watch the movies. The last TMNT movie was actually pretty enjoyable. I am able to turn off my brain at times and enjoy something that is supposed to be stupid. I have absolutely no problem with intentionally stupid. It’s only when the writers start to think that it must be okay to phone it in to write the stupid stuff. NOOOOOooooo. Everyone in Hollywood needs to understand that you still need smart writing to write stuff that’s supposed to be stupid. Writing something stupid is an art form. People like to talk about how dumb the Three Stooges was. YES it was dumb comedy for dumb people but it was smart writing. They said some deep shit while they smacked each other around. People want to see dumb on purpose not dumb because the writers couldn’t help themselves and decided to phone it in.

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: OUT OF THE SHADOWS

Out of the Shadows is dumb as it tries to be dumb and that’s too much dumb.

Next.

The Magnificent Seven 2016 (Metro-Goldwyn-MayerColumbia Pictures)

magnificent-seven

Directed by Antoine Fuqua

Written by Nic Pizzolatto and Richard Wenk  Based on Seven Samurai by Akira KurosawaShinobu Hashimoto & Hideo Oguni

Starring Denzel WashingtonChris PrattEthan HawkeVincent D’OnofrioByung-hun LeeManuel Garcia-RulfoMartin SensmeierHaley Bennett & Peter Sarsgaard

Now here is a fool-proof story. Seven Samurai. A classic heroes tale. A bunch of guys who are really good at killing finally get to put their talents to good use. All you have to do here is get a bunch of cool actors and make them do cool things and boom goes the dynamite. How did they screw this up? Fifteen more minutes of character development.

the-magnificent-seven

They got the right cast. They just got the wrong director. There is no character development. And I know seven bad-asses is a lot of bad-ass to put in one movie but it’s doable if each one is given enough screen-time. But in today’s Hollywood, time is a luxury big budget blockbusters can not afford. Movies are trimmed to a sharp two hours to fit that one more daily screening. That one more sold out theater on the first weekend (or not sold out in this case). You see, all the trimming in the world won’t fill a theater if you release a bad movie. And the lost ticket sales add up to more than one theaters full.

the-magnificent-seven-chris-pratt

DO THE MATH. With a hit on their hands, the studio can make millions of more dollars by cutting it down to a tight two hours. But ONLY if it’s a hit. So they bet on a hit. Bet on another hit. Bet on a third hit and a fourth. Fail. Fail. Fail. Fail. Until one time they’re lucky or they find a director who works better in a box and “Look ma, I’m a genius.”

the-magnificent-seven-denzel-washington

Geez. Money ruins everything. And I know it takes money to make movies… lots and lots of money. But the obsession with making mega-profits that ONE time ruins seven other films. From a business perspective it makes total scene. But from a movie fan’s perspective, it sucks ass. The Magnificent Seven sucks ass.

Last One…

Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)

kingsglaive

Written & Directed by Takeshi Nozue

Screenplay by Takashi Hasegawa  Based on Final Fantasy XV

Starring Aaron PaulSean Bean & Lena Headey

I have a serious question. Did they let the computer decide what angles it wanted to show? They must have. And it was a mistake. The coverage is horrible. You can’t see what’s going on. It’s so hard to follow. Kingsglaive is a decent Final Fantasy story. With the great Final Fantasy mix of tech and magic. I’ve been a huge fan of the game franchise since the great number seven. Final Fantasy VII. The name alone makes me smile. Now THAT was an RPG for the ages.

kingsglaive-final-fantasy-xv

In Kingsglaive, the real cars threw me a bit, but the big city setting was very present day in feel and look. So that was kind of weird but not a deal-breaker by any means. And I loved the mechanics of some of the fight powers and magic. Final Fantasy always has the most interesting magicks and mystical story-lines. I love the thrown blades that teleport the soldiers this time around. That was very cool.

final-fantasy-xv

And of course the animation is fantastic. But again, it was so hard to follow the action because the computer never knew when to show a wide-angle shot of the battle field. Humans need to be reminded of where shit is. You want to see what’s going on. They call it an establishing shot for a reason. It let’s our primitive human brains know where all the parts are in relation to each other. You just couldn’t tell. And it was hard to follow.

kingsglaive-final-fantasy-xv

The story wasn’t hard to follow. The story was awesome. The action was hard to follow. And that makes for a bad movie. So in conclusion, computers do not make good cinematographers, directors or film-makers. That is all.

So to recap…

We had two star-studded movies about addiction, Money Monster and Urge. And although movies about the misuse of money and drugs are useful, you have to question why the hell either of these films were made in the first place.

We had two classic revenge westerns, The Duel and The Magnificent Seven. And although one of them had a huge budget and the other one had a modest budget, they both sucked equally. Proving once again that money doesn’t buy quality.

And we had two movies based on established titles from a different format, Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV and Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie. And although I remain a big fan of the original series in both cases, they can do better. They both can do better.

And then we had four (count ’em FOUR) sequels that paled in comparison to the first movies, Resurgence, Out of the Shadows, Sorority Rising, and Through the Looking Glass. And although it was nice to see some familiar faces, it would have been nicer had they all stayed home and waited for better scripts.

Raise your glasses to better scripts. Better scripts all around.

Look at us.

We made it through all that bad. We rock.

megan-fox-gif

Don’t worry, guys. The good stuff is coming.

– Mel

Social Encounter X

Hey.

Hey?

Hey. I’m talking to you.
Excuse me!!!
What now?
How is this new person going to hate me?
How is this encounter with a total stranger going to go wrong?
How will I be misunderstood and hated forever?
Hey.
It’s just a word. I can ignore it.
It is my right as an American to not respond.
I have the right to remain silent.
It says so in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Excuse me. I know you can hear me.
I don’t want to know what happens next
How this new person will dislike me.
Find me incredibly annoying.
It’s too painful.
Excuse me?
How is this going to end?
How will they misinterpret my silence as a rejection and resent me
Resent me until I can’t stand to look at myself.
HOW WILL THIS RANDOM PERSON HURT ME TODAY?
Hey.
How will this next encounter hurt me?
Will they make me fall in love with them and then disappoint me horribly?
Or will they fall for me too hard, too fast and make me fear them. Fear their “love”???

You ever have an ex… yes I’m talking to you… You ever have an ex who uses every pause in a conversation to tell you how much they “love” you? Not a current. An ex. Well I have.

(in the middle of telling a joke or a story) “…And then the dog took this big dump on the grass.” (stops talking to drink because, you know, your throat gets dry)

“I LOVE YOU…. (long awkward pause) You don’t have to say it back.”

“Yeah yeah but I’m sort of in the middle of telling a joke about dog poop right now.”

“It’s okay. You don’t have to say it. (another pause and then a quick) loveyou!”
Heeeeeeeeyyyyyyyy!!!!!!
That’s not love. If you loved me I wouldn’t fear you, if you loved me.
That’s not love.
You wanna be with me.
You don’t want me to be with other people.
You want to fuck me.
I don’t know what that is
But
That’s not love.
Hey. I know for a fact that you can hear me.
Oh come on.
Now what.
Are they gonna flirt with me?
Make me feel attractive… wanted… sexy
Am I going to laugh?
Blush?

Or am I going to turn around and try to flirt with them
Only to find out that I’m standing on a scarf or something?
How is this human encounter going to ruin my self-esteem today?

How the hell will this random human interaction reshape my world view?
HOW WILL I OBSESS ABOUT THE MANY WAYS I WILL MIS-HANDLE THIS SOCIAL SITUATION UNTIL THE DAY I DIE OF EMBARRASSMENT AND… I DON’T KNOW… FOOD POISONING… RICKETS
Come on. I can tell you hear me. I know you can see me. What’s wrong with you?
Oh god. I have to say something. I have to say something. I have to say something. I have to say something.

(Turns head around and says sweetly) Yes?

(Long pause breathing harder and harder in anticipation and fear)

What. Whatdoyouwant? WHAT? WHAT? whaaat?

(Now crying) What?

(Pleading) whaaaaat.

(Wipes tears and straightens, composes self then turns head back around and says calmly) What is it?

 

No not you. I was trying to get THEIR attention.

– Mel

What’s Good? (TV 2016 Edition)

Been kind of out of it these past few days. I had a significant religious experience over the holiday weekend that I won’t bore you nice people with… much.

the-exorcist

“The power of Christ compels you to talk about Buddhism!” (You know it, Padre)

I have been in what can only be described as a completely stunned state (of the incredibly pleasant variety) for a while, and I totally forgot to post to my blog in between forgetting to breathe. (Am I breathing now? How about now?)

The Good Place

“Well this is incredibly pleasant. Not spectacular but amazingly pleasant. Are you sure this is a religious experience?”

However I promise to remedy that in the next few days starting with a long overdue:

What’s Good? TV 2016 Edition… where I cover my top ten favorite new shows, and list the ones I tried but gave up on. Some other stuff.

And anyway, Buddha says hi.

people-of-earth

“Are you Buddha?” “No. Are you?” “Noooo.” “Then what the hell is he talking about?”

 

MY TOP TEN FAVORITE NEW SHOWS (of the past few months)

So many good and clever new shows this year. And as always my favorite stuff is in the Science Fiction section. All but one of my Top Ten New Shows is sci-fi and the other is pretty damn fantastic.

Let’s start with that one.

Atlanta (FX)

Atlanta FX

Created by Donald Glover

Okay, this show reminds me of another of my favorite comedies, Portlandia. Portlandia is amazing. Portlandia is a sketch comedy about the city of Portland with recurring characters played by the two leads; Carrie Brownstein (one of my favorite people) and the amazing Fred Armisen. The way Portlandia sends up the unique characteristics of Portland, Oregon, Atlanta does the same for that city in Georgia, except without the sketches, just the recurring characters. Three friends; A rapper on the verge of minor stardom, His partner in crime (literally), And his cousin who desperately wants to manage his career (played by the almost annoyingly multi-talented writer, producer, actor and musician Donald Glover [aka Childish Gambino])

atlanta-is-amazing

“Hold up. Is he trying to say he met Buddha? The ACTUAL Buddha? On Christmas?” “I think so.” “This boy’s talkin’ crazy.” “Mm hm.”

Atlanta is outstanding. Gritty and real. Poignant and touching. Hysterically funny and irreverent. Funky as all hell. Stupidly political to the point of genius. As subversive as early South Park. As well-written as the first few seasons of Modern Family. As entertaining as a German Shepherd discovering a love for snow for the first time in his dog life. And yes I couldn’t think of a show to compare it to for sheer entertainment value because there has never been a show like Atlanta. Its ten episodes are like ten choice cuts off the début album of the best new artist of the year. It’s just beautiful.

ATLANTA --  Pictured: (l-r) Brian Tyree Henry as Alfred Miles, Keith Standfield as Darius, Donald Glover as Earnest Marks. CR: Matthias Clamer/FX

ATLANTA — Pictured: (l-r) Brian Tyree Henry as Alfred Miles, Keith Standfield as Darius, Donald Glover as Earnest Marks. CR: Matthias Clamer/FX

Atlanta is like nothing I’ve ever seen before.

 

The Good Place (NBC)

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Created by Michael Schur

The second in my list of Top New Shows is the adorably quirky The Good Place. A show that takes place in one of the heavenly realms. A setting fraught with religious pitfalls but handled with class and respect and painted with deliciously delicate non-denominational brushstrokes that border on brilliance. And so fucking funny.

THE GOOD PLACE --  "Everything Is Fine" Episode 101--  Pictured: (l-r) Jameela Jamil as Tehani, Manny Jacinto as Jianyu -- (Photo by: Justin Lubin/NBC)

THE GOOD PLACE — “Everything Is Fine” Episode 101– Pictured: (l-r) Jameela Jamil as Tehani, Manny Jacinto as Jianyu — (Photo by: Justin Lubin/NBC)

Kristen Bell’s amazingly self-centered character dies in a freakishly embarrassing accident and finds herself in heaven but… well… she’s not supposed to be there. The show is funny and sweet and sexy (like Ms. Bell herself). But at the same time deep and philosophical and… regrettably… much, much too good for TV. So watch The Good Place before the powers that be make it go away. It’s really good.

 

People of Earth (TBS)

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Created by David Jenkins

People of Earth is a great new comedy from Conan O’Brien and his team of funny people. It deals with the lives of the survivors of alien abduction. It is as brilliant and funny as you’d expect from Conan and crew. And as incredibly silly and insane. It is madcap and it is amazing. It’s just plain crazy.

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“Oh great. He’s hanging out with Buddha and being abducted by ALIENS is insane.” “I know. Right?” “Pot meet Kettle.” “Who are they?” “It’s just an expression.” “But I don’t know them.”

The cast is sensational and the stories and characters are cleverly written. Wyatt Cenac joins a support group in a small town where many abductions have happened. What they don’t know is that a small band of aliens has taken up residence in the town as part of a larger plan. Invasion? Sheer lunacy. Very funny. (oh shit I just realized what I just did TBS. Very Funny. I get it now).

 

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency (BBC)

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Created by Max Landis  Based on Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency and The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul by Douglas Adams

Here’s a show that defies description. I could never do it justice. It’s like combining Agatha from Minority Report, The Doctor from Doctor Who and the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants into a blender and… I don’t know… putting ’em in a Blade Runner, Back to the Future, Buckaroo Banzai mashup. Dude. I love Douglas Adams (even if I haven’t read these books. sorry I just don’t read as much with no place to go on the subway)

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Hammer don’t hurt ’em. Can’t touch this.

Dirk Gently is some funny, fun and well-written shit. Full of body swapping and time travelling and “Everything is connected.” Just watch it. Okay?

 

Black Mirror (Netflix)

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Created by Charlie Brooker

Black Mirror is a Sci-fi anthology series in the same vein as The Twilight Zone but with a decidedly modern bent. Technology hides horrors. Amazingly dark and beautiful horrors. Do me a favor please. Do not binge this show. These stories stick to your ribs. Don’t pile them one on top of the other. Hell, I still have three more to go in the new series. I’m so glad Netflix picked this up.

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If you like this post, please click like… please… PLEASE… No seriously you guys. I’m begging.

I’m looking forward to being creeped-out to the point of not being able to sleep for years to come. Don’t binge it. Let it marinate.

 

Westworld (HBO)

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Created by Jonathan Nolan & Lisa Joy  Based on Westworld by Michael Crichton

Yes I know everyone has theories. Everyone has opinions. And everyone loves Westworld. Why? Because it fucking rocks. The acting. The writing. The story. The Buddhism. Yeah that’s right I said it.

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“Wait. Am I Buddha?” “No, hon. It’s me.”

It’s about a wild west themed resort populated by robots. If you don’t know the premise, I’m going to have to ask where you been.

“These violent delights have violent ends.”

 

The Exorcist (FOX)

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Created by Jeremy Slater  Based on The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty

This was done so well. The Exorcist TV series first season was a joy to watch. The first few episodes of the run are sensational. Great cast. Great story. Scary and cool like the original movie (the only good one). Priests versus Demons. The way it should be.

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Who you calling boy?

You know the story. Little girl gets possessed. Says the darnedest things to a young priest and an old priest while doing TV friendly things on a bed. Where have you been?

“Time to give the people what they want, Padre.”

 

Supergirl on the CW (CW)

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Created by Greg BerlantiAli Adler & Andrew Kreisberg  Based on Characters by Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster

Okay, I know this isn’t new but it sure feels new. I loved the first season of Supergirl but the show had to do a massive reboot in its second season because they moved the production to a new city when they moved to a new network. And everybody knows what the show lost but what it gained is immeasurable. Crossover appeal baby.

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If I had to decide between dating Felicity or Supergirl, I don’t know who I’d pick. They are both so awesomely hot. (Throw Oliver in the mix and I’m totally confused)

They added her cousin Superman as a recurring character. My girl Katie McGrath as Lena Luthor. As well as letting Melissa Benoist shine in the title role. I love the move. Yes I miss Calista but seeing Kara interact with Felicity and Barry and Oliver more than makes up for it.

Supergirl -- "Worlds Finest" -- Image: SPG118_2740 -- Pictured (L-R): Melissa Benoist as Kara/Supergirl and Grant Gustin as Barry/The Flash -- Credit: Robert Voets/Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. © 2016 WBEI. All rights reserved.

Supergirl — “Worlds Finest” — Image: SPG118_2740 — Pictured (L-R): Melissa Benoist as Kara/Supergirl and Grant Gustin as Barry/The Flash — Credit: Robert Voets/Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. © 2016 WBEI. All rights reserved.

And they’re just getting started. They gave her an easy crossover button. So psyched.

 

No Tomorrow and Frequency (CW)

These are two new CW shows with promising premises and good casting.

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Developed by Corinne Brinkerhoff  Based on the Brazilian series Como Aproveitar o Fim do Mundo

No Tomorrow is a romantic comedy based on a Brazilian series called How to Enjoy the End of the World. It’s about a very pretty man who thinks the world is going to end and the woman he meets who thinks he’s just too good-looking and charming to not look past that. It’s very funny and cute.

frequency

Developed by Jeremy Carver  Based on Frequency by Toby Emmerich

Frequency is a time-bending procedural based on the movie of the same name. A clever story about a police officer communicating with his daughter (also an officer) in the future. Or is that the other way around. It’s great the way they help each other solve cases in their respective eras. It’s very cool.

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“Sure he claims the world is ending but at least he doesn’t say that he hung out with the Buddha in the Pure Lands on Jesus birthday. Now THAT would be a red flag. Am I right, girls?”

What can I say I’ve become a huge CW fan. I pretty much rock their entire line-up now. The superhero shows. Flash, Arrow. The relationship shows. Crazy Ex, Jane. I love it all. They’ve got a formula that really works. Hot actors and good writing. Who knew?

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“You don’t have to be from the future to know that he’s going to say that he knew.”

I knew. That’s who. I did. Good writing. Pretty people. And if there’s room left in the budget dress them all up real nice. Wardrobe is key. Surefire hit.

And those are my favorite new TV shows.

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“Wow! He completely left off my favorite new show.” “I know. And he missed that other one.” “Right. It must be all that meditating.” “Probably wrecked his brain.”

I Tried These But Didn’t Like:

Lethal Weapon (too dumb)

Son of Zorn (too silly and dumb)

MacGuyver (too outrageously improbable)

Timeless (too timey whimey and not in a good way)

Conviction (too serious but still great casting) &

Designated Survivor (too cliché… horribly cliché, more great casting)

I didn’t stick around long enough to see if they ever got their shit together.

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“Too busy hanging out in other realms, I guess. Huh?”

That’s it for TV

Loving The New Seasons of:

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
Jane The Virgin
Luke Cage
Lucifer
Humans
Star Wars Rebels
Life in Pieces
Man in the High Castle
Sense 8
Mozart in the Jungle

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“If he mentions that fucking monk one more time. I’m gonna shoot myself in the head thus killing everyone including him.” “That’s deep.” “NO. IT’S NOT.”

Not Liking The New Seasons of:

The Last Man on Earth (stopped being funny)
Legends of Tomorrow (bad writing bad acting still watching)
AHS My Roanoke Nightmare (couple of really cool things mostly crap)
The Walking Dead (enough with Negan already why doesn’t the show just marry him)

NOW I’m done with TV.

I’ve got a bunch of movie posts coming up so… I’ll be back… I promise.

Stay Tuned

– Mel

Some Quick Thoughts on Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (w/ Spoilers Aplenty)

This post contains spoilers.

But then again so does yours.

Once again I’m spoiling the shit out of this movie so GET LOST

SPOILER ALERT

I’m totally serious.

SPOILER ALERT

Warnings over. Let’s get right to it.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)Rogue One Poster.jpg

Directed by Gareth Edwards

Written by Chris WeitzTony GilroyJohn Knoll & Gary Whitta  Based on Characters Created by George Lucas

Starring Felicity JonesDiego LunaBen MendelsohnDonnie YenMads MikkelsenAlan TudykRiz AhmedJiang Wen & Forest Whitaker

Everybody dies.

Everybody.

Rogue One is sensational by the way. Rogue One is fantastic. Not for the faint of heart. But they go out of their way to make all of the characters dynamic yet not classically heroic. Even as Jyn is giving her big speech to try to save her father’s legacy and make sure he didn’t die for nothing. You can’t help but think that this is all her fault anyway. If she had grabbed the hologram that her father risked his life to make and sneak out of the facility, that the pilot had lost his mind for, that an entire holy city was destroyed to prevent getting out. If she had just grabbed the damn thing perhaps her little band of rejects would have been an all out assault before they even had a chance to close the gate. But I get it. She’s not a hero. Just a survivor.

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Oh but what about that band of misfit rebels. Love it. Love them all.

In order of how much I love them:

The blind monk. The true believer. Chirrut Imwe is strong in the force but untrained. So completely untrained that he has to constantly remind himself that he is one with the force during times of self-doubt. He senses Jyn’s Khyber crystal necklace (OMG I didn’t know the Death Star was just a giant lightsaber). And he doesn’t know why he sees things before they happen without eyes since he was never taught to believe in his own abilities. A homeless man in the holy city. Oh yeah. I loved him.

Chirrut.jpg

The rescued Imperial droid who can only tell the truth. I loved him. The scene where K-2SO is trying to lie to the Troopers but can only repeat their questions back to them AS questions is brilliant. The best written character in the movie. Hands down. Beautiful heroic death. When he died I still had hope that some of them might survive. In fact it wasn’t until the next main character dies that I realized they were all going down. I almost lost it in the theater right there.

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The pilot. Yeah I know, Bodhi (what’s his last name again?). But he represents redemption. Galen Erso had no idea that his old friend Saw had lost his damned mind when he sent the pilot to him. Had no idea he was going to get tortured by a paranoid soldier who had fought way way way too many battles. What did Rook say? I brought the message. I’m the pilot. He just wanted to do the right thing, build up some merit, clear some bad karma, but it all went to shit. And yeah he finally gets an important message through right before he gets blowed up. He gets his redemption. But then he dies. And the crowded opening night theater went deathly silent.

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“Oh my god. They’re all going to die.” we all mouthed in unison. Yeah that’s when I knew nobody was getting out. All that was left was for them to die well. And they did.

So we got a broken droid, a homeless monk and an enemy pilot that had lost his mind with guilt. And then the fighter. The monks friend, Baze Malbus. The non-believer. Who finds his faith at the end avenging the death of his old friend. Just all kinds of bad-ass, mercenary. Pour some beer out for these four. Heroes all.

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But the other two, him and her, completely unlikable characters. Cassian is introduced preventing his contact from running away, from escaping the Empire and then killing him in cold blood when he realizes that he’s going to be caught BECAUSE OF HIM. Not a nice guy. Shoots an ally just to make sure his bomb goes off in the right place. Total asshole. Just a few battles away from becoming Saw’s crazy ass.

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And Jyn Erso. A bad-ass like the rest of them but in it purely for personal reasons if she’s in it at all. Never thinking about the big picture. Never thinking about anyone but herself. She just wants to redeem her father. Make it so her parents didn’t die for nothing. She’s got a lot of anger and she just wants to let it out. She was raised by Saw Gerrera. So what did we expect? Not the hero.

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So what I think I’m saying is, it wasn’t sad that the two main characters die. The other four were sad. Those two were expendable even as they were the most strategically important in the bunch. The other four… the galaxy will feel their loss greatly.

Okay so that’s over. They’re all dead. Everyone in the movie is dead. But they completed their mission. The movie’s over right? NOOOooooooo. The movie has one last scene. And it is the best scene in it. Possibly one of the best final scenes in movie history.

rogue-one-storm-troopers

For starters, the story of Rogue One redeems several big plot holes in the original Star Wars. The joke was, “Why would you make a doomsday weapon and then give it a horrible Achilles heel like one good shot will blow the whole damn thing to hell?” well now we know. And again Disney saves Lucas and his bad writing. And Darth Vader. He says cool shit and makes people fear him and his force choke but he never gets to kick ass (except in the cartoon). And now that’s over. He takes on a whole squad of rebels and tears through them like paper. And it’s fantastic because even though you know the plans make it out. (We all saw Star Wars). Vader is so imposing, it’s like damn, these kids have no chance. (Again, George, not how you originally envisioned it) It was so freaking good.

And by the way. THIS IS WHAT A STAR WARS PREQUEL LOOKS LIKE, GEORGE.

Jedha the Holy City.jpeg

So you see the sacrifice of the Rogue One squad and you see how over-powered these guys are against Vader and against the Death Star and against the Empire and when they finally get the plans to Leia, after Vader kills everybody who touches it, I just started crying like a little bitch. That was fucking amazing. And you know the princess doesn’t get away (again we all saw Star Wars) but that was amazing.

That was fucking amazing.

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I saw it on opening night so the theater was full of movie fans not a lot of Star Wars fans. And I loved the way the movie separates the kinda fans from the die-hard fans. Several times in the movie there were just three people laughing, me and two other people, and we were laughing hard, and nobody knew why. (Like now we see why Cornelius was in such a bad mood. Why does everyone keep bumping into me? Is it my face?)

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Needless to say, I’m going to go see it again in the theater and I’m going to own it on Blu-ray. So, a friend of mine said something on Facebook before I went out. He said Rogue One was the best Star Wars movie after Empire. I know… what? But he’s fucking right. In fact it might be better than Empire. It’s more adult than Empire. Not as crowd-pleasing but it has an ending, like I said, probably the best ending of any movie I’ve ever seen. Empire doesn’t even have an ending.

Damn, the movie was good.

And those are my thoughts.

I’m done.

kicking-empire-ass

– Mel