Ali Spagnola

In Episode 147, Germar welcomes Ali Spagnola - yep that Ali Spagnola with the 8 billion Twitter followers, and the trademark, and the drinking and the dancing, and the touring and guitaring . . . .

Zaena Morisho

International recording superstar celebrity Zaena stopped by for an interview.

Michael Jackson

Posthumous Hits

Game of Thrones

Reviews

Big Movies

Reviewed

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
In Episode 167, Germar gives his SPOILER-FREE take on the first half of the last act in The Hunger Games trilogy. But first, hear all about the whitest white guy in Los Angeles.

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 summary and review

 by Melissa Scott

For me, Suzanne Collins’ dystopian trilogy The Hunger Games ended with disappointment. The first two novels provided a satisfying mix of corrupt oppression, heroic defiance, and of course, a YA romance. The action-packed Hunger Games themselves drove the action of the books. But the third book, Mockingjay, lost the story-line thrill. Mockingjay focused entirely on a full-blown war against a futuristic government. The Games get left behind as a more serious political movement dominated the plot. The ever-increasing war-based violence only confused me, as I lost track of which characters died, which ones were enemies, and which ones swapped loyalties. With no room for romance in the novel, and a seemingly never-ending battle story, my emotional investment vanished. Relief only came once I reached the end—simply because it was finally over.

I did not expect Mockingjay’s movie adaption to impress, unless, of course, it deviated considerably from the book. In fact, I hoped it would. Not to mention the commercial irritation of splitting the already dull story into two separate films. But after two-part Harry Potter, Twilight, and even The Hobbit installments, the news of a splitting of the Hunger Games did not come as a shock. So I braced myself for what I imagined would be a cringe-worthy movie. Yet, Mockingjay Part 1 delivered with surprising fulfillment. It drew emotional appeal and sufficient thrill of action, and dispensed poignant and fervent acting. Even more surprisingly, it followed Collins’ book almost impeccably.

The movie picked up right where Catching Fire left off. A traumatized Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) remained trapped and buried deep under the militarized barracks and bunkers of a previously “non-existent” District 13. Under strict control of the steely President Coin (Julianne Moore), and the clever but weary Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman), Katniss initially resists but eventually assumed a role as the face of the new rebellion. The rebellion leaders forced Katniss to act as their propaganda vehicle—a constant theme of the movie. Both the sinister President Snow (Donald Sutherland), with his governing Capitol and the District 13 rebels, fight not only a militaristic war, but one of public façade and manipulation in order to sway opinions. Of course, Katniss fumbled at first with this campaigning act of revolution. But once placed out in the battlefield, amidst the devastation caused by the Capitol, she successfully launched into a stirring fit of anger—in my opinion, Jennifer Lawrence’s best performance of the movie.

Peeta Mellark, (Josh Hutcherson), one of Katniss’s love interests, remained held prisoner by the Capitol, and also thrown into the media battle. Forced to appear onscreen, to deter Katniss and the rebels in their advancements, he caused recurring conflict for Katniss, as she battled between choosing her love for him and her passion for the resistance. Meanwhile, the fiery Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth) seized notable attention for the first time in the series (usually Peeta dominates the leading male role). Training and militarization suited him well; he emanated authority and respect in every scene. Despite showing jealousy and sourness towards Peeta in previous movies (his competitor for Katniss’ affection), here Gale assumed a much more mature position as a rebel leader. He even volunteered first to participate in Peeta’s rescue mission.

Admittedly, much of the movie surged through intense warfare and bombing scenes (like the book). However, these battle sequences worked effectively for the movie. Many scenes showed the other districts of Panem (a futuristic renaming of North America), fighting back against the government. The spark of Katniss’s revolution “caught fire,” and while these scenes may have been a little exaggerated and repetitive—probably to simply extend the time of Part 1—they nevertheless fastened feelings of fierce pride and sympathy for the revolutionary cause. 

Finally, the movie culminated with Peeta’s rescue mission from the Capitol. Peeta’s condition worsened physically with every appearance—directly affecting Katniss’s mental stability. District 13 leaders finally realized his well-being acted as the greatest weapon against Katniss, and the rebellion, since Katniss’s love and worry for him influenced her actions on the battlefield. After a terrifyingly suspenseful scene of the rescue, where it seemed Katniss lost both Peeta and Gale, the two finally made it back to District 13 unharmed. However, Gale warned Katniss that President Snow could easily have killed them, but instead let their rescue team go freely. The reason for this became clear, however, once Katniss reunited with Peeta for the first time. Peeta attacked Katniss with a ferocity never before associated with his gentle character, nearly choking her to death. The movie ended with Katniss’s horrific realization that the Capitol did more than just torture Peeta. They rewired his brain and memories in order to pit him against her with a murderous hatred. The final scene showed him strapped to a hospital bed, with his face taut from unrelenting screams.

The movie exceeded my expectations overwhelmingly. Could the battle scenes be a bit tighter? Probably. Would the movie be better as a single installment, rather than a clumsy half-slice? Definitely. But even with these drawbacks, Mockingjay Part 1 reigns as the best of The Hunger Games movie trilogy so far.


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B--a biopic

by Alyssa Couball, Writing Intern

The biopic, Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B, recently debuted on Lifetime. The entertainment industry is outraged by their depiction of the Princess. And sadly, based on distasteful acting, bad writing, and the absences of significant events and people, I agree. I get what they were going for. The two hour movie is supposed to honor the late singer. Lifetime and executive producer Wendy Williams, did not set out to disgrace the singer or her family. Unfortunately, they did.

The story launches in 1989, when the young Aaliyah, played by Alexandra Shipp, appeared on Star Search. The singer’s discouragement grows as she does not get picked. But with the help of her Uncle Rashad, a music producer--played by A.J. Saudin--she gets recognized. She shows off her talent to R&B singer R. Kelly, played by Cle Bennett. At first, he’s not interested in hearing some “kid.” But after hearing her voice, he falls in love with more than just her voice.

The 15­-year-­old Aaliyah and 27-­year-­old R. Kelly get married. But their marriage is cut short, as the two are forced to get an annulment, by the pop star’s pissed off parents. The dialogue between the singer and R. Kelly is super cheesy. Listening to the “babe” and “baby” became exasperating, and uncomfortable to watch.

Next, the movie delves into the late singer’s acting career. They touch briefly on one of the two movies she starred in. It was a little misleading because they failed to mention the movie where she alone shined in the spotlight, The Queen of the Damned. Similar could be said of how they treated her singing career. The movie did not touch on any of her most popular songs, such as “Rock the Boat,” “Try Again,” or “Miss You.” (editor’s note: there were issues with rights)

The actors portraying Timbaland and Missy Elliot are embarrassing to watch--comical. Now, I see why Timbaland threw some serious shade about the movie’s premiere.

In the end, she meets Damon Dash, played by Anthony Grant, and the two plan a
future together. However, their plans are cut short as the young singer dies in an airplane crash. But they don’t depict her death at all. Instead, text appears similar to these words: she dies, she will be remembered, yada, yada. The end.

Not good enough. 

The producers should have gone above and beyond here. Lifetime was NOT the right network to make this movie. MTV or another network or anyone else could’ve really nailed this. I don’t have anything positive to say about it. And based on the internets, no one has anything positive to say about it. I have five words for people thinking about watching it. Do NOT waste your time.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Charles White: Hanging Out with Whoopi and Cameron Diaz

In Episode 166, actor Charles White talks about . . . acting and singing and all sorts of goodness like advice from Whoopi Goldberg and buying steaks with Cameron Diaz. He also participates in the most perfect and tasteful sex joke ever. As always, the pre-show is FIYAH! And apparently Germar has one white toe because he's 5% white. It's a good one--a must listen.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Modern Family “Queer Eyes, Full Hearts” recap and review

Kayla Kenney, Writing Intern

After five years, the award-winning sitcom continues to keep their tale of three, intertwined, modern families both fresh and funny.

Cam & Mitch: Mitch (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) stumbles upon a reporter that he absolutely loves. However, the reporter absolutely loves that Cam (Eric Stonestreet) is an openly-gay, high school, football coach. Cam becomes self-absorbed in a pancake breakfast that the reporter takes an interest in. Meanwhile, Mitch, the lawyer, tries to win a case that actually means something.

Gloria & Jay: Gloria (Sofía Vergara) hires a Spanish tutor for Manny (Rico Rodriguez). He'd rather take French. Jay (Ed O’Neill) becomes jealous of the young tutor, who Gloria develops an immediate connection with. In an attempt to get rid of the tutor, Jay signs the permission slip that’ll switch Manny to French class. Gloria’s upset. She was excited to finally have someone to talk to in her native tongue. In the end, Jay decides to keep the tutor for himself.

The Dunphys: Claire (Julie Bowen) takes an interest in what Haley (Sarah Hyland) is doing with her life. She sees that Haley’s formed a friendship with Jay and Gloria’s babysitter, Andy (Adam DeVine). Haley tells her mother that she’s sleeping with him just to get Claire to leave her alone. In reality, the two are helping each other prepare for job interviews. Both succeed. Andy becomes an assistant to Phil (Ty Burrell) in the world of real estate. Haley gets a job in the fashion industry, after a frustrating interview. Meanwhile, Phil’s attempts to warn Claire of how Alex (Ariel Winter) is over-exerting herself fails. Alex’s zombie-like state of intense studying plays out as a small background story.

“Queer Eyes, Full Hearts” is all stereotypes and clichés. However, the episode twists the common and creates something comical.

Possibly the biggest stereotype here comes into play with Cam and Mitch. The football coach husband and his doting housewife. The reporter sees it this way. Cam’s actually more of the housewife. He puts on a show for the reporter and acts like a jerk, football coach husband. Mitch accidentally falls into looking like a foolish housewife. He wears a hairnet at the pancake breakfast. He ends up doing a majority of the cooking. Lily (Aubrey Anderson-Emmons) runs up to him complaining about her doll. He ends up holding the doll in one hand, a dirty spatula in the other, and donning the hairnet the whole time. The look is absolutely ridiculous. To top it all off, he nags Cam while appearing this way. He portrays the ultimate stereotype of a housewife. What’s particularly funny isn't just Mitch’s appearance, though. They're’re a married gay couple portraying the stereotypes of a married heterosexual couple. Beyond the funny surface, there’s a message here--gay couples are quite similar to straight couples.

Another stereotype in this episode is the hot, young, Spanish tutor. We've seen it before in Desperate Housewives: the hot, young, Hispanic gardener who has an affair with the married woman. Apparently, Jay’s aware of this stereotype. He takes Gloria and the tutor’s talking to each other out of context. He thinks something’s happening. Gloria enjoys her time with this guy too much. She would never betray Jay, though. She’s uncommonly loyal to him. A particularly funny part happens in the kitchen. Gloria and the tutor speak in Spanish about food. Jay thinks they're laughing about his old age. Misinterpretations are common here. Jay’s an old man. He’s self-conscious about his age because Gloria is so young and beautiful. He’s stubborn to admit it, though. Gloria comes off as stupid because she’s foreign. Her character’s famous for it. This episode reveals her longing to show how smart she can be in her own language. Modern Family took the overdone idea of a possible affair with a hot, young, Hispanic and twisted into serious commentary about fear and desire.

There’s a certain stereotype surrounding the fashion industry that this episode explores: the industry is made up of harsh snobs. Haley walks into the office for her interview. The receptionist says the man she’s supposed to meet with is in a mood. Haley says “kay!” and walks out. At the very end of the episode, a comical scene of her crying in her car before she returns to the office is revealed. She goes back in and confronts the man, and gets the job. In reality, this probably wouldn't happen. The industry does need tough people who can hold their own. Michael Urie gives a perfect portrayal of what most people think a man in charge of fashion would be like, with a little comical edge tacked on. Haley’s crying scene is meant to be funny. It flops, though, because Hyland’s acting is so poor.

When it comes to Alex, her character alone is a stereotype. She’s a bookish, smart, nerdy girl. Lately, the show puts too much emphasis on this. Her zombie-like state’s supposed to be humorous. A girl so invested in her studies that she’s not sleeping isn’t very funny. She constantly carries textbooks around to read. She walks into walls while doing so. High school students aren't that overworked. The show’s trying too hard to make her a comical character. Sure, she’s funny at times. However, her character’s credibility is going down the drain as the writers try harder and harder to keep her funny.

“Queer Eyes, Full Hearts” addresses stereotypes, and turns them into something comical. Much of the episode is funny, believable, and meaningful. Other aspects of the show are funny, but not credible. Overall, humor wins and the messages were received.

Dumb and Dumber To

by Kelsey Barritt, Writing Intern

A brilliantly titled movie, about the adventures of two gentle idiots, surprises audiences by being a pretty decent sequel. Dumb and Dumber To exceeds expectations and provides laughs throughout the entire film. The reunion, of hilariously dim-witted Harry and Lloyd and an audience, is a sweet one. Dumb and Dumber To brings a tremendously goofy humor back to screens that unfortunately seems less and less common these days.

The premise of this movie, just like the first, is outrageous. On a journey for his long-lost daughter, and hopeful kidney donor, Harry (Jeff Daniels) brings his best friend Lloyd (Jim Carrey) along with him. Lloyd’s spacious mind holds some not so innocent intentions, so of course he accompanies his pal. While on this search, they must also deliver a package that is powerful enough to save humanity. Obviously and obliviously, the two well-intended morons run into all kinds of trouble along the way.
Universal Studios

The film isn't flawless. There are lulls. A few jokes may go a bit too far (including a gag-worthy moment with a sexually charged elderly woman “hiding” diamonds). A few pieces don't quite fit (somehow Lloyd manages to get from Colorado to Mexico and back in a matter of minutes), but Dumb and Dumber fans will be ready for that. For the most part, audiences will laugh out loud at the antics of the simple-minded Harry and Lloyd, without giving these missteps much thought.

When Harry and Lloyd come together, even after twenty years, their chemistry shines. They pick up right where they left off, as if the first movie premiered a month before this one. Their knowledge gaps mesh to make some of the best unexpected witty humor. References to the first movie are sprinkled throughout this one, but understanding it does not require seeing the original. The acting, of non-Harry and Lloyd cast members, suffers at times. The story goes over the top time and time again. But this shouldn't shock any Dumb and Dumber fans.

For a sequel, to a “dumb” movie made twenty years ago, it shouldn't be taken too seriously. If audiences remember that going into it, they will thoroughly enjoy their experience. Dumb and Dumber To allows viewers to temporarily escape the complications of life and enjoy the simplicity of Harry Dunne and Lloyd Christmas. And that is all we should ask of it.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Kim K, Lena D, Meghan T, and Iggy

Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images for LACMA
In Episode 165, Elise Micheals is back! Elise and Germar give thoughts on Kim Kardashian and #breaktheinternet (incl. Alyssa Milano), Lena Dunham, Meghan Trainor, Iggy Azalea, and 1989. Plus, someone may or may not be engaged in . . . oh just listen.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Selena Gomez: the heart wants what it wants

by Melissa Scott


Photo by Glenn Francis
As one of the most scrutinized celebrity couples for the past few years, new details about the Selena Gomez-Justin Bieber relationship are hard to avoid. But despite constant media coverage, neither pop star adds much of their personal insight. After an evidently trying year, however, Gomez finally released a track clearly detailing her views and struggles throughout the relationship with Bieber. 

Following a tumultuous two year on-again off-again relationship with Bieber, Gomez’s parents reportedly gave her an ultimatum: stop drinking, stop dating Bieber, or get out of the house. Gomez chose the latter—she bought a $3 million house in Calabasas, California (near Bieber of course) and then consequently fired her parents, who acted as her managers. She cancelled the Australian and Asian leg of her “Stars Dance” tour in December 2013, stating that she needed time to herself. “I would never want to disappoint [my fans],” she apologized. “But it has become clear to me and those close to me that after many years of putting my work first, I need to spend some time on myself in order to be the best person I can be.” Gomez refused to detail any further.

She then checked herself into an Arizona rehab-facility for alcohol, drug, and prescription pill addiction in January 2014. She only stayed for 14 days of the 45 day program, before checking herself out. Finally, in April, Gomez attended Coachella, posting pictures on Instagram and seemingly enjoying herself with Kendall and Kylie Jenner, and Vanessa Hudgens. Barely a week after Coachella, however, Gomez decided to purge all negative influences in her life. Her first step involved “unfollowing” on social media, not only the Jenner sisters, Hudgens, Taylor Swift, and other close friends, but almost all celebrities she had any contact with. She then deleted all pictures of Coachella, and all other similar pictures.

Of course, Gomez refused to comment publicly about her worrying issues. She remained as enigmatic as ever. In interviews, and social media posts, she referred only to a “positive cleanse” in her life.

Now, however, Gomez has decided to open up about her turbulent year. She dropped a new single recently, “The Heart Wants What It Wants,” and confirmed in an interview with Ryan Seacrest that the song was inspired by Bieber. Because she’s known for avoiding any topic concerning Bieber, or her relationship with him, that was an astonishing disclosure. The song shot straight to number two on iTunes (only One Direction’s latest, “Ready to Run,” kept it from the top spot), and it reached an audience of 10.061 million people on its first radio debut. In addition, Gomez released a corresponding music video, which tallied over five million YouTube views in its first 24 hours. She then announced the date of her new album release, For You, to be November 24.

The music video is uncomfortably vulnerable, opening with an emotional Gomez monologue. Through building tears, she exclaims, “I felt like I know, I know him though, and I know his heart, and I know he wouldn't do anything to hurt me.” As she begins to cry harder, her voice grows louder, “But I didn't realize that feeling so confident and feeling so great about myself and then it just be completely shattered by one thing.” Finally, Gomez nearly shouts the last few lines of the monologue: “You make me feel crazy, you make me feel like it’s my fault. I was in pain.” Her words are so tortured. It’s hard to imagine them being filmed solely for the purpose of the video; there seems to be an upsetting truth to them.

From Flickr - Amanda Nobles
Gomez confirmed that the monologue acted as a therapeutic technique at the time of the filming. “They taped the mic underneath the table when I was shooting the video,” she admitted during her interview with Ryan Seacrest. “And I had shot the video over a year ago. So, in that state — where I was in that place emotionally — I went in and I went into the room by myself, and I looked at the actual mirror in the music video, and I had a conversation [with] myself to every question I had in my mind in that moment.”

The song then takes off, emotionally portraying an intense and destructive relationship. Gomez is seen crying through her vocals throughout much of the song, while a nameless love interest alternates between portraying utmost affection and complete disregard for her. The main chorus of the song is startlingly powerful; it clearly reveals an enthralling insight into one of the most unremittingly scrutinized celebrity relationships: “The bed’s getting cold and you’re not here/The future that we hold is so unclear/But I’m not alive until you call/And I’ll bet the odds against it all…There’s a million reasons why I should give you up/But the heart wants what it wants.”

Gomez explained her sudden emotional take on her relationship. “Everybody wants to form their own opinions anyway,” she shrugged.

          I think the biggest problem I had this year — even with [Bieber] and on his                side — is identity. And yeah, I made some decisions that weren't great as well,          and so did he and that’s why we went through all that to only make us better.            And he has heard [the song] and he has seen the video, and it’s something                that I feel like girls need hear, and it’s something I’m willing to share with                    people.


When Seacrest asked about Justin’s initial reaction to the video, Gomez simply replied, “he thought it was beautiful. I think it was really hard.” She ended the interview by confirming that the two were still close: “I support him. I think I always will. I’m upset when he’s upset, I’m happy when he’s happy. I don’t want anything to ever happen to him bad. It hurts me. That’s all.” While news of “Jelena” typically triggers exasperation, I’m glad Gomez finally seems confident in herself and what she wants. She seems content to make choices for herself, despite media portrayals of the two. And she should.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Sofia Squittieri: All Men in Spain are Gay and Other Insights

In Episode 164, Germar finally finds a guest that doesn't mind dating black men. And she happens to be a dark-haired European bombshell of an actress. Sofia blesses the LTC mic with stories about being nude on stage, having a crush on a certain host, and having sex with members of the audience. Remember when this podcast was all about SCOTUS, POTUS, feminism, and social justice? We don't either.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Maleficent

by Alyssa Couball, Writing Intern (with Germar Derron)

I really wanted to despise Maleficent. After someone butchered the Alice in Wonderland remake, I grew skeptical of cartoon-based remakes, prequels, and spin-offs. And am I the only one tiring of Angelina Jolie showing up and showing off in big motion pictures? She’s super talented and beautiful and she’s married to perhaps the most handsome guy in show biz. She’s also charitable. But, c’mon! Once I learned she would play the main character, Maleficent, my eyes rolled.

I wanted to say this movie is completely awful, but I will ignore the pessimist in me and admit that it’s quite brilliant. 

Maleficent, starring Elle Fanning (Aurora), Angelina Jolie (Maleficent), Sam Riley (Diaval), and Sharlto Copley (Stefan), follows the untold story of Disney’s Sleeping Beauty’s iconic villain. Maleficent begins her story in a peaceful forest kingdom. We quickly learn that Maleficent is a fairy. She entices others with her broad, stunning black wings, and matching set of horns on her head. In the forest, she meets a young human named Stefan who tries to steal from the magical land. Maleficent orders Stefan to return to the forest what is rightfully theirs. The two embark on a path of friendship and love. As the pair grow older, though, their love for one another burns out as they see each other less and less.

The forest is threatened by a nearby kingdom of humans that want to destroy it. Maleficent defeats the humans, and becomes the protector of her land. Eventually, the King declares that whoever kills Maleficent will become the new King. The King’s son, Stefan, accepts the challenge, knowing that he must make the ultimate betrayal. Stefan does not posses the strength to kill his once friend, Maleficent, but he does cut off her best asset. Stefan takes her wings.

Focused on revenge, Maleficent faces an uphill battle with the humans, the King, and herself. Her once pure and soft heart becomes cold and hateful. The once fanciful and fantastical forest becomes dark and dreary. Consequently, Maleficent places a curse upon the King’s infant child, Aurora. As the child grows, Maleficent wants to hate the child, but realizes that Aurora holds the key to peace in the kingdom. She also holds the key to Maleficent’s happiness.

Aurora pricks her finger on a spinning wheel and falls into an everlasting sleep. Maleficent sends a boy to kiss the princess, but to their astonishment, she does not awaken. It’s only when Maleficent kisses her forehead does she wake. Maleficent did not know she possessed this true love. As the two leave, Aurora’s father sets a trap for Maleficent; they battle. Her sidekick, a crow by the name of Dialvo, turns into a fire­breathing dragon. Aurora runs to escape, but she runs into a room where she makes a discovery. She learns that her father removed the fairy’s wings. 

The magical wings then fly away to their owner--Maleficent. She is struck with power as her wings reconnect. She snatches the King away and flies him outside, where they battle. Maleficent cannot kill her former friend. It’s only when he tries to kill her that she drops him to his death. The King is gone; evil is gone. Aurora, Dialvo, and Maleficent go back to live in the peaceful harmony of the forest--happily ever after.

The live action film remained true to all of the elements from the cartoon movie. It incorporated a prince, a princess, the fire­breathing dragon, magic, fairies, and even the spinning wheel. It also showed this dynamic between good and evil and dark and light. Angelina Jolie is nothing short of superb in portraying how women feel when their prince turns out to be a frog.

The movie is really about the emotional and psychological--how to handle evil in the world, without becoming evil yourself. Additionally, the movie shows off some magnificent special effects. The performances are outstanding! 

The movie may not be suitable for children. However, I am not sure if it’s a children's movie. It’s more of a family film. Also, if you cast actors such as Angelina Jolie or Elle Fanning you cannot pair them with actors like Sharlto Copley--whose ability is less than mediocre.

Before seeing the film, I grew weary at the thought of reviewing it. But after seeing it, I give it two wings way up!