Zach Braff came under fire last year when he successfully launched a $2 million Kickstarter to bring his latest project to life. This might not have been controversial except that Zach Braff is, ostensibly, a famous person with money, and this film was “a follow-up to ‘Garden State’” at best and a vanity project at worst.
Over the past year it’s been increasingly common to see Comedy Central’s programming pointed to as among the best on cable. Key & Peele, Inside Amy Schumer, Kroll Show, Review, @Midnight, Nathan for You, and Broad City are all relatively young shows that push at the boundaries of what TV comedies can do, while still being gut-bustlingly hilarious. Throw in those venerable stalwarts The Daily Show and the soon-to-be-departed Colbert Report, and it’s not hard to look at Comedy Central’s lineup and say it’s the equal of HBO, Showtime, or FX.
Drunk History is not as ground-breaking as some of its sibling shows, but it might be the most purely enjoyable show in Comedy Central’s lineup. It’s a sketch show where host Derek Waters gets comedians blitheringly drunk and has them tell stories from American history. Waters and a wonderful cadre of guest actors then act out the stories in full costume using the drunken soundtrack recording as both dialogue and narration. It’s a goofy concept, and doesn’t always hit, but when it does the show just soars. The slurred speech and wild excitement of the speakers (especially Drunk History all-star Paget Brewster) lend the action a pleasantly loony atmosphere. The real fun, though is seeing actors like Jordan Peele, Retta, Weird Al (as Hitler!) and Charlie Day perform the loopy action described by the narrators. Nothing on TV right now is funnier than the moments where a skilled actor mouths along to a drunken digression that utterly shatters the fourth wall.
It’s a relatively safe assumption that nobody else on our tiny staff cares about the Baseball Hall of Fame as much as I do. It’s a much broader leap, but still a reasonable hypothesis, that I care about it more than most of our (hopefully somewhat more than) tiny readership. Therefore, when news governing the actual Hall of Fame rears its head, I stand at attention, ready to pounce upon their latest justice/injustice rendered upon innocent/guilty players.
This time around, it’s a little more complicated than that.
News broke over the weekend that the Baseball Hall of Fame, that venerable and most hallowed of institutions, would be changing a few things in time for this year’s election cycle. One change will be that baseball writers will be prohibited from selling their vote and must sign a waiver of sorts agreeing to a “code of conduct”, a reaction to some of the fuss that sprang up during voting last year. While one might argue over precisely how impactful this measure will be, there’s certainly no harm in it; the Hall simply wants to make sure that there are no further embarrassments to its “hallowed process”.
I am not a fan of surrealism or excessive flights of fancy in art: when confronted with Salvador Dali or Hieronymous Bosch’s mind-warping visions of the unimaginable, my flesh feels like it is creeping off my skin and my eyes avert themselves. The one exception to my distaste for surrealism is Rene Magritte, whose paintings, photographs, handwritten essays, and the productions of his ad agency in Brussels, is currently on display at the Art Institute of Chicago in their special exhibition Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary 1926-1938, which runs through October 13.
Full disclosure: I love Jenny Lewis. She is my musical alter ego, and an indie rock goddess. Her lyrics are poetry and they say everything I could ever want to say but can’t.
Lewis writes about insecurity and falling in and out of love and the impermanence of everything, including and especially ourselves. At this time, I’d like to thank my junior year college roommate for constantly playing the Grey’s Anatomy soundtrack because it contained “Portions For Foxes”; thus began my journey into the depths of Rilo Kiley, the now-defunct band Lewis co-fronted.
When I was in college, I had few female friends — the ones I did have were not close, and more often than not they were the girfriends of my guy friends. I didn’t think much of it at the time, and possibly even prided myself on what I saw as passing as “one of the guys.” I wasn’t passing, and looking back now, I can see that while I was busy trying to be the cool girl surrounded by guys, I missed out on a lot by rejecting female bonds.
The All-Star Game grooved right on by, and now the American League will receive home field advantage in this year’s World Series. That’s about as far on the record as I’m willing to go with regards to second-half certainties in Major League Baseball. Everything else remains in flux, from division winners to potential trade candidates, from award winners to statistical oddities. Anybody who says they can see something coming from a mile away is, more often than not, lying – insider information only gets you so far. With that being said, here’s 10 fun predictions for the second half of the 2014 MLB season.
A friend and I went to Tour de Fat Saturday, July 12, despite a torrential downpour that morning, which flooded area streets and completely saturated the ground in Palmer Square where the event was held. New Belgium Brewing, based in Fort Collins, Colorado, hosts the touring festival each summer, bringing along a circus of bicycle-centric activities, contests, and — of course — beer. Chicago was the third stop of the event’s 10-city tour this summer. [Read more...]
It’s been a great few weeks of international soccer, and we now arrive at the apex. For one last time, Alex & -J. reflect upon World Cup 2014, and make their inexpert-but-enthusiastic predictions for the final couple of games.
2014 Reflections & Discoveries
-J.: As we approach the final two games, I’m both ready for it to end, but also a bit sad to see the end arrive. I’m looking forward to devoting my full attention to being disappointed by the Chicago Fire and demoralized by the Milwaukee Brewers. I’m waiting to see what happens in Brazil — culturally and politically — now that the financially crippling World Cup did not result in a 6th title for host Brazil. They laid out so much money and sacrificed so much of the common good for FIFA twice (Confederations Cup last year, World Cup this year), and are doing the same for the IOC (Summer Olympics in 2016). I’m going to enjoy the ability to pretend that Sepp fucking Blatter does not exist on a regular basis.
But I will miss the fans and the coverage of this tournament. Chicago went outlaw wild for Team USA and the World Cup. I loved the ESPN coverage, which is no small feat for a network I tend to give the side-eye. The nightly analysis from former World Cup stars like Michael Ballack, and from the few American international vets like Alexi Lalas, was entertaining and illuminating. When the analysis would break up for the “last call” style of reflection, it was a perfect way to end the day. Hell, I could watch Lalas and Ballack go back & forth, even if Alexi needs to let others get a few more words in. [Read more...]
I know the best place in town to hear music and try literally dozens of beers, and it is not Taste of Chicago. Tonight, I checked out the Square Roots Festival in Lincoln Square, and it was awesome. The Square Roots Festival runs from Friday, July 11 through Sunday, July 13, and you (yes, you) should check it out. Despite getting there shortly after 8:00 p.m., music was pumping out of the north stage and there were hundreds of people in the street between Montrose and Wilson on Lincoln Ave. Most of the vendors were still open, including an amazing line up of food trucks, tents, and…oh, right, the beer: Fifteen primarily local breweries each with at least two of their lineup for you to try.
Most street festivals and art shows in Chicago put forth the same line up of art vendors, and this festival isn’t much different, save that a number of local vendors from Lincoln Square have tents offering their wares. A score of local restaurants have food stations lining the street, including Lincoln Square favorites Bistro Campagne, Fountainhead, Gather, and Cheesie’s Pub.
Music, however, is the biggest draw for the festival, proceeds from which will help support the Old Town School of Folk (full disclosure: I take guitar lessons at the school). Tonight, Joe Driscoll & Sekou Kouyate were creating amazing African/hip hop/reggae awesomeness (that’s a thing, right?) to a crowd of well over two hundred. They were followed by Ivan & Alyosha, a Seattle based group with a fantastic name (any other Literature geeks get the reference?), a remarkably upbeat folk band whose album I’ll be purchasing as soon as my bank account will allow. Tomorrow’s headliner is Bobby Bare, Jr’s Young Criminals Starvation League. You can check out “Valentine” on YouTube.
Folk and World Music bands aren’t the only acts getting stage time. Old Town offers a number of awesome music ensembles and classes. Sunday will feature their Brazilian Folk Ensemble with Paulinho Garcia (5:00-5:45 p.m); visitors can try out their African Dance (1:30 – 2:30 p.m) or Flamenco classes (2:45- 3:45 p.m), or just hang out and watch Aloft Circus Arts (8:00 – 8:30 p.m). If you want to catch up with Travis and me, you’ll find us in the 2nd Half Guitar Jam (1:30 – 2:15 p.m).
There’s always something to do on summer weekends in Chicago. There’s a street fest happening almost every weekend, and this weekend there’s Taste of Chicago to compete with as well. If you want over-crowded places with absurd food prices and too many tourists, go to Taste. If you want a chill atmosphere, great beers, and an amazing musical experience, then go to Square Roots.