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

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Don't Shoot (raises money for Mike Brown's family)

Indie Music: i am Love "Self-Titled"

by Germar Derron

I can't categorize this. I don't know that I get it.  But I absolutely love it. For me, i am Love’s Self-Titled is exactly what I needed. I've read and wrote and listened and cried and gotten mad (especially with the non-indictment of Darren Wilson). The music works, on every level, like only music can. I admit that it’s taken awhile to complete this piece. And because this is paragraph one, it may still take time.


I still work on the outskirts of the music industry in Los Angeles. Something that we music snobs, rock veterans, and former music majors still love to say is “that’s not real music.”  We look for the instruments, the collaboration, the sweat, the performance of it.  And though I get it, Ableton, Fruity Loops, and dudes with laptops just ain't the same. In Self-Titled, I found the music.

This project reminds me of every musical thing that I've ever done. It’s like marching, jazz, and concert bands, mixed with some beat-making, flawless vocals, and set to a movie.  Right now, THIS is the soundtrack of my life. Listen, and my thoughts will become yours.  But other than the obvious horns, rare instrumentation, melodies, and harmonies, something else makes this personal for me—the variety and versatility.

It's a part of my culture that we all do everything. I didn't realize how uncommon this jack-of-all things was, until I met people from other schools, other families—other cultures. In my world, it was not uncommon to see the best sax players put down their horn, grab a trumpet, and become the best brass player. When the fire alarm sounded, we beat on the desks, danced in the aisles and a full on party happened mid-fifth period. And I'm not really a rhymer or singer—unless you need one. No, I don't see i am Love passing around instruments like we did. But that same freestyling flowing vibe is there.

I don't think it matters who sings. It doesn't matter who plays lead, or who plays at all. It’s all good. It’s the opposite of what happens in most pop music. We all loved Destiny’s Child, the Jackson Five, and the Supremes, as long as we were listening to Michael, Beyoncé, and Diana Ross. i am Love is the Bulls in the 90s, but everybody wears 23 and wins the MVP. It’s an absolutely beautiful project from top to bottom.

I can’t call it perfect, but I can call it 4.5 out of 5 stars.

The Legend of Korra: “Remembrances” recap and review

by Kayla Kenney, Writing Intern

Nickelodeon Studios
The Legend of Korra shocked and potentially upset fans, on Friday, with a recap episode. Embedding this into the final season only slowed down the momentum.

Mako & Prince Wu: In the previous episode, Kuvira’s followers captured Prince Wu. At the end, they decided to place him with Mako and Bolin’s family, in Asami’s house. This week, the episode begins with Mako teaching Prince Wu some defense mechanisms. However, this soon turns into Mako rehashing his old, love quarrels with Korra and Asami.

Korra & Asami: Korra confides to Asami that she doesn't feel like she’s a good enough avatar to bring down Kuvira’s army, and reinstall peace in the Earth Kingdom. Asami reassures her with a recounting of her past villains. She reminds Korra what peace she’s already brought as the avatar.

Bolin & Varrick: Last episode, the two set sail to the north, with new alliances. This time, as they cruise the waters, Varrick thinks of a new story to promote Bolin. He begins a telling of Bolin’s tale throughout the seasons. The tale goes completely wacky and untruthful to what really happened. Bolin tries to butt in. Varrick won’t have it. He claims he’s thought of a story that'll sell. All the other passengers aboard the boat agree with applause.

“Remembrances” leaves the show at a standstill. Sure, it’s humorous at times. The recap episodes are not needed, though. Especially in the middle of the final season! The show’s moving at a slow pace as it is. It needs to pick up the action—not stop and retell all the seasons in one episode. If you're watching, you're likely to know everything that already happened.

This episode would be skip-worthy if it weren't for the comedy. It’s not your typical recap episode. It’s not just clip upon clip of old episodes to show the audience the progression of the storyline.

This episode includes recaps from three point of views: Mako, Korra, and Bolin. Mako tells his story to a new character. This seems like something that would actually happen. The same goes for Korra, confessing her self-doubts to Asami. Inserting the clips of previous episodes this way seems clever and thought out.

Also new here, pop up animations appear of whoever happens to be talking during the clip. They're nearly always hilarious. As Mako talks, Prince Wu constantly interrupts him. His little, animated face will pop into view as the clip pauses. The way it’s done in the show perfectly exemplifies a person who is telling a story and constantly getting interrupted by that one loud mouth. Prince Wu simply cannot keep his mouth shut. It’s also comical because all the points he brings up were things that everyone thought during the old episodes’ original airings. His grandma’s interjections of “Yep, just like your grandfather,” when he discussed his mess of a love life with Korra and Asami added even more humor. They were like the cherry on top of it all.  

Bolin and Varrik may represent the show making fun of itself. A scene with Varrick always leads to something obscene. Here, Varrik makes up the most ridiculous story of Bolin’s plot line. He links it back to Bolin’s days as a movie star. It’s funny when Bolin interjects as a pop-up animation to claim that things didn't happen that way. Varrik just talks over him. As Varrik’s story wraps up, the rest of the people on the boat are immensely interested. Bolin’s frustrated. It’s the kind of thing Varrik’s character would do. He stays true to himself. The part also adds a lightness to the episode. It’s not a strict recap episode. This part’s proof. The episode can play around. It provides a certain sense of relief to the viewer, who might watch it for the sake of watching it.

Humor aside, this episode gives the Korra audience nothing. It’s shoved, unnecessarily, into the final season. It’s a filler episode, where fillers aren't needed. The show has the potential to do so much more. Oddly, it meanders about with recap episodes, when the audience just wants some action. 

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.