Category Archives: Entertainment

TV, Movies, etc

Fantasy Football

The NFL season is four weeks in and that means fantasy football is in full swing. Fantasy football is a game where you and your friends form a league and each person has their own team. It starts with a draft: each person picks real NFL players to fill out their own roster. Each week you play head to head against another friend, accumulating wins, losses, and points. There are surprise victories and stunning upsets. And a whole lot of shit talking. It’s not fantasy football without shit talking.

There is some skill involved, but it’s mostly luck. For example I currently have fifty points more than my league leader, but I’m in third place because I lost two close games and he is undefeated. I have more than a hundred points more the person in second, but she has won one more game than me so she’s better. Points are nice. Wins are what really matter though. As the great Vin Diesel says, “It doesn’t matter if you win by an inch or a mile. Winning is winning.” If you win you are obligated to let your opponent know that you beat them with an insulting GIF and a taunting message in the group chat. It’s the only way to play.

Critically Rated at 14/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind

Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind is a 2018 documentary about the iconic comedian. Robin Williams was one of a kind, renowned for his quick wit and manic energy. Director Marina Zenovich takes you on a journey through his life, starting with his childhood, exploring how he developed his talent, the highs and lows of his comedy and acting career, revealing aspects of his private life, and ultimately his final days and his enduring legacy.

I was kind of reluctant to watch it at first. It was kind of late to be starting a two hour movie, and I was afraid that it would be depressing. It wasn’t. I was laughing and learning and reminiscing for pretty much the whole running time. It only got sad towards the end as his mind started to betray him and his talent slipped away.

The documentary is pretty thorough but doesn’t cover everything. It goes into behind-the-scenes stories from a lot of his movies, but omits Hook for some reason. It loses a couple of points for that. It also doesn’t delve into his habit of stealing jokes from other comedians. Yeah, he was brilliant but a lot of his jokes came from other people. They should have addressed that.

Robin Williams was larger than life, but Come Inside My Mind makes you realize that he was a real person too. He had hopes and dreams and flaws and fears. He accomplished a lot and was an inspiration for many. His death left a void in the world. This documentary is a nice tribute to a great performer.

Critically Rated at 14/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Barbary Coast Trail

My girlfriend and I go hiking a few times a month. We prefer dog friendly trails so we don’t have to leave the pup at home. We live in San Francisco and don’t have a car so our options are mostly limited to hikes in the city and Marin, and there are only some many times you can do Land’s End and Twin Peaks before you get sick of it. So I googled good urban hikes in SF and discovered the Barbary Coast Trail.

The Barbary Coast Trail is a walking tour of some of San Francisco’s most historical sites and famous landmarks. The trail is not a loop. You can start at the old San Francisco Mint if you’re downtown, or you can start at the cable car turnaround at Beach and Hyde if you’re in the Fisherman’s Wharf area. The trail is marked by over a hundred and eighty bronze plaques embedded in the sidewalk. The plaques have arrows to point out the direction you came from and the direction you’re headed to. It becomes a bit of a game to find and step on each plaque. The plaques make it hard to get lost, but every now and then you might stray away from the path and have to resort to Google Maps.

The trail takes you through Union Square, Chinatown, North Beach, Fisherman’s Wharf and past iconic and forgotten San Francisco treasures. The best part about the trail is that it really is an urban hike so you can easily take a break to browse a boutique, stop for a beer in the city’s oldest bar (which is on the tour), or enjoy lunch from an outdoor cafe.

I’ve lived in the city for over ten years and the Barbary Coast Trail is one of the best things I’ve experienced yet. My girlfriend feels the same way. The dog liked it too. It’s a time filling activity that’s both recreational and entertaining, not to mention educational. And it’s free. I have a feeling that I’ll be taking visiting friends and family on the trail for years to come.

Critically Rated at 16/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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There is no Wayne’s World 1

One of my biggest pet peeves is when someone inserts 1 into the title of the first film of a franchise. You often hear people say that Wayne’s World 1 is way better than Wayne’s World 2. Or that Rush Hour 1 was the best movie in the trilogy. I hate that. There is no Wayne’s World 1. It’s Wayne’s World and Wayne’s World 2. Rush Hour has two sequels. Yes, it’s the first movie but it’s not called Rush Hour 1. It’s simply Rush Hour. You can check IMDB.com if you don’t believe me. Don’t even get me started on people who say Die Hard 1 or Star Wars 1.

There are a few exceptions like History of the World, Part I and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1. But there is no History of the World, Part II and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 was the seventh film of the franchise, not the first. The moral of the story is there is no Wayne’s World 1. So don’t say it.

Critically Rated at 5/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Black Panther (Film)

Black Panther is a 2018 Marvel superhero film based on the comic book character. It’s more than a movie, at this point it is a bona fide movement. It’s the first major blockbuster to celebrate black culture. It was directed by a black guy, written by black people, with a majority black cast and that’s a rare feat because Hollywood loves whitewashing. It’s not the best Marvel movie, but you could argue that it is the most important one.

Ryan Coogler (known for Fruitvale Station and Creed) will join Spike Lee and John Singleton as one of the most successful African-American directors in cinematic history. He deserves it. He turned a relatively obscure comic book character into movie star. Not only is Black Panther about powerful black men, it’s also about powerful black women. That means that black kids have powerful role models to look up to. White people take that for granted. The white guy is almost always the hero of the story. Black people are depicted as sidekicks, villains, gangsters, and comic relief. It’s a breath of fresh air to see something different.

Chadwick Boseman stars as T’Challa aka the Black Panther. Michael B. Jordan plays Killmonger, the sympathetic villain. They are kind of like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. They recognize a major injustice and deal with it in different ways which leads to an inevitable conflict. There you have the most simplistic deconstruction of the plot. Throw in a few awesome action sequences and some philosophical questions about race and responsibility and you have the formula for a great movie. Go see it in theaters. Pay for your ticket. Be a part of it.

Critically Rated at 14/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Everything Sucks! (TV Show, Not Life in General)

Everything Sucks! is the latest Netflix show that I binge watched. It’s a coming of age dramady set in 1996, so expect plenty of tubular references to ’90s pop culture. The show follows Luke O’Neil (played by Jahi Di’Allo Winston) as he begins his freshman year at Boring High School in Boring, Oregon. That’s a real town but a fictional school if you were wondering. Luke meets Kate Messner (played by Peyton Kennedy), the angsty daughter of the principal and develops a crush on her. Throw in supporting characters from the A/V Club and the Drama Club and you have the premise for a solid show.

Everything Sucks! starts out seeming like your stereotypical teenage soap opera but they take a few chances that I wasn’t expecting. This isn’t about boy meets girl, boy gets girl. There’s more to it than that. Shit doesn’t go to plan, and the main characters have to deal with things they weren’t expecting. All of this set to a sweet soundtrack of nostalgic nineties hits. It’s not as universal as The Wonder Years nor as honest as Freaks and Geeks, but it’s worth watching if you experienced the nineties and want to reminisce a bit. It’s not in my top twenty-five shows of all time, but it’s good enough to recommend.

Critically Rated at 12/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Group Crossword

I was at my dive bar a week ago and the bartender was doing a crossword puzzle behind the bar (that’s how you know it’s a real dive bar). There were three other patrons besides me and we were only sipping beers so he had plenty of time to work on it. He would occasionally read out a clue and ask for help. After a little while he set it down and I asked to see it. He had about half of it filled out, not too shabby. I picked up a pen, jotted in a few answers, and put it down. The lady sitting next to me grabbed it next. She put in a few words and passed it on to the guy next to her.

At this point it was a group crossword, a collaborative effort to fill it all out and complete it. Each of us had mini Eureka! moments and contributed in some way. We came close to perfection. We only had a few answers missing by the time I left. I can only hope that the bartender took it home and finished it. A crossword is like solitaire. You’re supposed to play it by yourself, but it becomes a group effort when you do it in public.

Critically Rated at 14/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Drug Lords

Drug Lords is a four part Netflix documentary about drug lords. It’s a very deceptive title. Each episode runs about forty-five minutes long. The first episode is about Pablo Escobar, who is always a fascinating topic. The second episode is about the Cali Cartel. The third episode is about Frank Lucas, the heroin king of New York. The last episode is about Australia’s Pettingill Clan. I didn’t know anything about the Pettingill Clan before I saw Drug Lords, and now I do, so Drug Lords is educational.

The first two episodes go hand in hand with Netflix’s Narcos. Denzel Washington played Frank Lucas in American Gangster so I was a little familiar with his story. The episode about the Pettingill Clan is the least interesting. They aren’t nearly as dangerous or infamous as Pablo Escobar, the Cali Cartel, or Frank Lucas. They should have done El Chapo or Freeway Rick Ross instead of limping out with the Pettingill Clan. Oh well. Drug Lords is a cool series. I wish it had a few more episodes, but it’s worth checking out if you have some time to kill.

Critically Rated at 12/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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The End of the F***ing World

The End of the F***ing World is a British dark comedy and the next thing you should watch on Netflix. Alex Lawther stars as James, a self proclaimed psychopath, who begins a relationship with a rebellious girl from school named Alyssa (played by Jessica Barden). Alyssa is intrigued by James because he is not normal and normal bores her. He doesn’t really like her but he wants to kill her and that’s reason enough to start dating her. They decide to run away together and there you have the premise for the show.

The End of the F***ing World is based on a graphic novel that I never read or heard about, but the show is pretty awesome. It’s funny, dark, and easy to binge on. The season only has eight episodes, each one running about twenty minutes. I finished it in two nights. The whole cast does a solid job. There are quite a few memorable characters and moments that will leave you reeling. The writing is witty and clever. The pacing is quick but never feels rushed.

This is one of those shows that you fly through and then you tell all your friends to watch it to so you have someone to talk about it with. This isn’t a review as much as it is a recommendation to add this to your Netflix queue. Check out The End of the F***ing World. You’ll thank me later.

Critically Rated at 15/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Kevin McAllister’s Brand Loyalty

The next time you watch Home Alone and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York pay attention to what soda the McAllisters drink. In the first one Pepsi is the brand shown on screen. They even mention it by name: “Fuller, go easy on the Pepsi!” It’s pretty obvious product placement. But in the sequel the McAllisters are drinking Coca-Cola. I question Kevin McAllister’s brand loyalty. You are either a Coke person or a Pepsi person. You don’t switch between the two all nimbly-bimbly. Maybe it’s symbolic of his character growing and maturing, going from a lesser cola to a better one, but I doubt it. My guess is Coke was willing to pay more money to the studio.

Critically Rated at 9/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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The Disaster Artist (2017 Film)

The Disaster Artist is a 2017 film based on the book with the same name about the making of The Room, which is widely hailed as the best worst movie of all time. Watching The Room first isn’t required but is definitely recommended. In case you have seen it, The Room is a train wreck of a film that you can’t stop watching. The acting is terrible. The dialogue is terrible. The plot lines are terrible. Yet it’s become a cult classic and beloved by millions.

The Disaster Artist takes you behind the scenes and shows how The Room came to be. James Franco directs and stars as Tommy Wiseau, the real life creator of The Room. Dave Franco plays Greg Sestero, Wiseau’s friend, costar, and coauthor of the book on which this film is based. Seth Rogan produced and also plays script supervisor Sandy Schklair. Every single role seems to be played by somebody famous, that’s how beloved The Room is in Hollywood.

The Disaster Artist could have taken the easy way out and simply make fun of the eccentric Wiseau and how shitty his vision turned out to be, but James Franco makes him sympathetic. He humanize him. You feel for Wiseau. You want him to succeed even though he fails spectacularly. This film celebrates the success that arose from his failure.

I enjoyed every second of this movie. It grabs you from the get-go and never lets go. It is hilarious and fascinating. Spoiler alert: the film ends with a side by side comparison of iconic scenes from The Room that are reenacted by the Francos and friends. I wanted to watch it again as soon as it was over. Instead I had to settle on watching YouTube reviews and interviews. It’s pretty awesome to see how much James Franco and Seth Rogan have grown creatively since Pineapple Express. They still make stoner comedies but now they are Oscar worthy stoner comedies. The Disaster Artist was probably the best movie I’ve seen this year. Go see it so I can talk to you about it.

Critically Rated at 16/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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HQ

HQ is a trivia app that’s currently only available for iOS. There are a lot of trivia games out there, but HQ stands out for two reasons. The first is that it’s free to play but you can win real money. Secondly, it’s a live broadcast so you can’t just open it up and play. There are two games daily Monday through Friday (one at 3:00 p.m. EST and the other at 9:00 p.m. EST) and one game daily on the weekend (at 9:00 p.m. EST). They send you an alert when the game is about to begin, you open the app and join the game. The host, comedian Scott Rogowsky, comes out, explains the rules, gets you hyped, and starts powering through twelve questions. Some questions are easy, some are tricky, and some are really hard. Whoever goes the distance shares the pot with the other winners.

My brother-in-law told me about HQ a week ago. I’ve only played it four times since then, never getting past the eighth question. I’ve played a bunch of trivia games and this is one of my favorites. I like the fact that there are only one or two chances a day to play. It’s addictive but you can’t get your fix whenever you want. You’re on their time. There are a couple of crazy hard questions each game. They show you how many active players there are, I’ve seen 100,000+ playing and a savage question can eliminate tens of thousands at once. It makes you feel smart when you get it right. But you don’t feel bad if you get it wrong along side forty thousand other people.

If HQ sounds fun, that’s because it is. Download it for yourself and see. Use my referral code: Bmani429. This isn’t a paid ad, I get a bonus life for each referral. Join the bandwagon before it gets played out.

Critically Rated at 14/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Tom Petty

Once upon a time in the summer of 2001, I walked into a Best Buy and walked out with the compilation album Greatest Hits by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. I didn’t know much about Tom Petty at that point. I knew a couple of his songs like “Free Fallin'” and “The Waiting” and that was enough to justify buying it. I popped the CD into my car stereo on the drive home and my life was changed forever. His music spoke to me. It awakened something in my soul. I felt like Tom Petty was singing to me directly. He became my favorite artist instantly.

He was a rock star, a real rock star. He had hit singles and critically acclaimed albums and put on one hell of a live show. No road trip was complete without listening to a little Petty. In an era of illegal downloads, I made it a point to buy his albums, all of them. Even his stuff with Mudcrutch, the Traveling Wilburys, and Johnny Cash. I wanted him to have my money. I was lucky enough to see him live five times. Once at the Hollywood Bowl, twice at Outside Lands, once at the Oakland Coliseum, and the last one at BottleRock in what became his final tour. Watching Tom Petty live was better than listening to his albums. Everybody would sing along to every song, spark joints during “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” and just enjoy experiencing a legend do what he did best.

I hate that I have to speak about Tom Petty in the past tense now. He was a big part of my life. He always will be. You are the soundtrack to my life, Tom. Thank you.

Critically Rated at 17/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Matt Cain

Matt Cain pitched his last game on September 30, 2017, one day before his 33rd birthday, retiring after thirteen seasons with The San Francisco Giants. It’s very rare to see a player wear only one uniform for over ten years and he deserves to be recognized. He accomplished many great things in his career. He has three World Series rings, three All-Star recognitions, and the only perfect game in Giants history. He never got the fame or glory that Tim Lincecum or Madison Bumgarner got, but he was the backbone of the team for many seasons. He was called the Horse for a reason. He was reliable. You knew he was going to go seven innings and that he was going to keep you in the game.

I grew up a Giants fan. I remember the magical 2010 season in which we finally won the World Series as the San Francisco Giants. I went to a lot of games that season but the most memorable one was my first ever postseason game. I saw Matt Cain take on the Phillies in the pivotal Game 3 of the NLCS. He was masterful with only two hits in seven innings, giving us a 3-0 victory. I celebrated in the stands and snapped a photo that became my iPhone background for the next couple of years. I remember watching his perfect game two seasons later. I started watching it at Red Jack Saloon, my favorite dive bar. I made the trek home and got back just in time to see Gregor Blanco’s amazing catch. I knew that I was witnessing history in the making. They got that last out and Matt Cain cemented his legacy. Lots of people win multiple championships. Throwing a perfect game is damn near impossible.

Matt Cain will always be one of my favorite Giants. His poster is on my wall. He will stay on my wall. It’s not the greatest honor but it’s the least I can do.

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It (2017 Film)

In this era of Hollywood there is an abundance of sequels, prequels, remakes, and reboots and most of them suck. But every now and then a seemingly unnecessary reboot comes out and steals the thunder from the original. Mad Max: Fury Road comes to mind. It is one of those films as well. Most people grew up with the beloved 1990 miniseries starring Tim Curry as Pennywise the Dancing Clown. It was scary, but lots of things are scary when you’re five years old. The miniseries was tame. They didn’t have the budget to do anything spectacular. It was made for TV so they had to censor things and leave stuff out. The movie has an R rating and they run with it.

Tim Curry’s portrayal of Pennywise was iconic. Bill Skarsgård had some big shoes to fill. He filled them, and then had to get bigger shoes because his feet were too big to fit them. He Heath Ledgered it. Skarsgård’s portrayal is terrifying and mesmerizing. He’s unpredictable and makes you feel uneasy. The only way to keep your sanity is by reminding yourself that it’s only a movie.

The movie stars a bunch of kids. Movies that rely on child actors are hit or miss. It only takes one shitty actor to ruin the whole film. The entire cast is solid. Jaeden Lieberher does a great job as Bill Denbrough, the main character. If he sucked the movie would suck. All the kids in the Losers Club are good. Finn Wolfhard, aka the kid from Stranger Things, adds another classic child horror story to his resume. Jeremy Ray Taylor plays Ben, the fat new kid. He’s actually overweight, not the usual version of Hollywood’s stereotypical fat kid. He adds to the realism. Jackson Robert Scott plays Georgie, the film’s first depicted victim of Pennywise. He’s the youngest actor and has some of the creepiest lines. 

Director Andy Muschietti has created a blockbuster. It is already the highest grossing horror film of all time. It is also the highest grossing film to be released in September. That’s pretty impressive. It deserves all the hype it is getting. Right after I saw it, I went home and watched the opening scene from the miniseries and from the movie on YouTube to compare them. Watch it now, see for yourself. It’s night and day. It made me realize how cheesy the miniseries actually is. 

In conclusion, go see It.

Critically Rated at 16/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

You’ll Float Too!

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Dear White People (TV Show)

Dear White People is a 2017 Netflix dramedy about racism in a fictional Ivy League school. It’s based on the 2014 film of the same name and it brings back some of the actors as well as the writer/director, Justin Simien. I never saw the movie so I can’t talk about any comparisons between the two, but holy shit, the show is great. Racism is a sensitive subject and Dear White People tackles it head on. 

The show follows a core group of black students at a predominately white university. They each deal with being black in different ways. They all have their own ideas on how to combat the racism that they deal with everyday. Some try to stand up to the man, some try to assimilate into the campus culture to fit in, some try to remain neutral. But you can’t stop racism, you can only expose it.

I don’t want to talk about the plot. I don’t want to spoil anything. You should just watch it. I really like how they tell the story. Each episode focuses on a different character and the timeline jumps back and forth. You see the same events but from different perspectives. 

It’s a dramedy so you’ll experience a lot of different emotions. Sometimes you’re angry, sometimes you’re laughing, sometimes you’re crying. It takes place at a fictional college but it feels all too real. There are only ten episodes, each one is thirty minutes or less which is perfect because it makes binge watching easy. I flew through the last six episodes in one sitting. 

Not only is this an entertaining show, it’s an important one that can lead to real life changes. Dear White People makes racism a talking point in the same way that Thirteen Reasons Why makes suicide a talking point. These are taboo subjects that need to be dealed with. Racism is real. It’s too bad that the people that the show is trying to educate will hide behind their bigotry and never watch it. I can honestly say that I’m a better person after watching it. You will be too.

Critically Rated at 16/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a 2017 superhero flick based on Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. It’s the sequel to 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy and the fifteenth entry of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It brings back writer/director James Gunn and most of the actors from the first film including Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, and Michael Rooker and brings in newcomers like Kurt Russel, Sylvester Stallone, Pom Klementieff, and features one hell of cameo from (*spoiler alert*) David Hasselhoff. 

The film tries hard to recreate the magic of the first one and it succeeds for the most part. The humor is there, the character interaction is there, the action is there, but it’s missing the joy of discovery. At this point we know what to expect from Star-Lord and his crew. That’s not a bad thing. You’ll like it if you liked the first one. My girlfriend hadn’t seen the first one so we watched it on demand and then watched Vol. 2 later that night. That’s practically five hours of Guardians of the Galaxy in one sitting and we didn’t get sick of it. That’s impressive because I have a short attention span. I’ll end this review on that note because I hear the ice cream man outside. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is good. Go see it in IMAX 3D if you can, it’s worth the money and not many movies are these days.

Critically Rated at 15/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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