Stereo in a Hearse

I was walking downtown yesterday and passed by a funeral home. There was a hearse pulling up to it. I didn’t wonder if there was a body inside. I wondered if the driver had any music to listen to. I don’t know how most funeral homes work, but I assume the driver isn’t always carrying deceased cargo. It’s not always a solemn occasion. Sometimes he’s just driving. And driving is always better with some tunes. I truly hope that there is a stereo in a hearse. I’m not being morbid. I’d want my last ride to be accompanied by music instead of silence.

Critically Rated at 11/17

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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Curling

We are in the midst of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics and curling is once again taking the world by storm. Curling is like shuffleboard on ice. It’s one of the few sports that seems accessible to everyone. I’m thirty-two years old and know that I can never win a medal with a snowboard, skis, or ice skates, but I have a chance to compete with a broom in my hand.

Instead of getting drunk and going bowling, I want to get a group together to drink and go curling. It seems like a leisurely activity with plenty of time to chat and socialize without being overly physical. Plus you can set your beer down on the ice between turns and keep it cold. You can’t do that while bowling.

Critically Rated at 13/17

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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Guns

I’m not a politician. I don’t pretend to be. But it’s quite clear that this country has a problem with guns. The Valentine’s Day school shooting in Florida is the latest massacre that left innocent people dead at the hands of a madman. It won’t be the last. I guarantee you that there will be another major mass shooting before the month is over. How many more Columbines and Sandy Hooks do we have to endure before we wake the fuck up and do something?

Americans love guns. They are a huge part of our history. They are huge part of our entertainment. The top five movies of all time are Avatar, Titanic, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Jurassic World, and Marvel’s The Avengers. Pretty diverse movies ranging from fantastic space operas, historical love epics, to dinosaurs and superhero collaborations. They all feature guns. We are encouraged to own guns. It’s ingrained in us thanks to mass media and the power of the NRA and a corrupt government that always turns a blind eye.

I’ve shot guns before. I went to a shooting range in Alaska and shot a few handguns and an AR-15. It was fun. I get why people like it. But guns kill people. That’s what they were designed to do, especially the AR-15. Anyone remember lawn darts? That was a game where people threw foot long darts with metal tips at a target. It was a fun childhood game, innocent to the core. Over a ten year period 6,700 people in the USA were injured by lawn darts. 75% of these injuries were to children, three of whom died. Things that kill children are bad, so the government wisely stepped in and banned the sale of lawn darts. Lawn darts killed three kids in ten years and that was enough to make them illegal. Seventeen people died yesterday in Parkland, Florida. Something is clearly wrong here.

Critically Rated at 1/17

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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Self Narrator

I know a lady who narrates whatever she is doing out loud. If she walks into a room to check her phone she will actually say, “I’m walking in here to check my phone.” If she’s brushing her hair she’s explaining why she has to brush it, how many tangles she has, and how her hair gets frizzy with the slightest bit of moisture. Most of the time she’s talking to herself but every now and then she will look at someone else for validation. She’s a self narrator. I have no other way to describe it. Narrating your own life isn’t a habit I would recommend falling into. It annoys other people and makes you look crazy. Morgan Freeman is the only person that can successfully get away with it.

Critically Rated at 6/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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D.B. Cooper

D.B. Cooper is the alias of an unidentified man who successfully hijacked a plane on November 24, 1971. ”Twas the night before Thanksgiving and D.B. Cooper had a meticulous plan. He bought a plane ticket with cash and shortly after takeoff he told a flight attendant that he had a bomb in his briefcase. He demanded four parachutes and two hundred thousand dollars in cash. His demands were met, he released some hostages, and arranged for the plane to go to Mexico. At some point during the flight he jumped out of the plane with the money and two parachutes, never to be seen again. It was and still remains the only unsolved case of air piracy in commercial aviation history.

Whether or not he survived is unknown. But this was a man with a plan and he’s become a legend. The FBI investigated the case for more than forty-five years before giving up. He inspired a slew of copycats, none of which were successful. It’s a fascinating story and Hollywood has been slacking on telling his tale. Someone needs to make a movie about him. Maybe Kevin Spacey can play him. His schedule is pretty open these days.

Critically Rated at 15/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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My Christmas Lights

I have a strand of Christmas lights in my room. I leave my Christmas lights up all year. I’m not lazy. I leave them up on purpose. I use them as mood lighting when I’m watching a movie or Netflix. I have them displayed around my TV. It makes for a more immersive viewing experience. The soft glow of the lights perfectly compliments the soft glow of the TV. It kind of looks like a shrine to mass media. They also give me enough light to see around the room without destroying my night vision. Plus they look decorative around the holidays and make me seem festive. I’m not though. I’m a grinch.

Critically Rated at 14/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Cooking Shows

Cooking shows are awesome. That’s why there’s a whole network about food. I used to not enjoy them. That was mostly because I was stoned and being tortured by tantalizing food that I couldn’t eat. Now I see cooking shows for what they are: a celebration of culinary creations that bring people together. Food is the great equalizer. Everyone needs to eat. It’s only natural to talk about the things we share. Different cultures have different cuisines and you can’t travel the world without expanding your palette. Cooking is an art and the cooks depicted have honed their craft.

Cooking shows are the televised window to all the things you are missing out on. They make you want to go to Vietnam and eat phò. Or to Mexico for some tacos al pastor. Every host enjoys the food too much and always praises it highly, and that makes me want to try it more for some reason. I want to scrutinize it and put it to the test. Every meal brings them to orgasm. Can it really be that good? Let’s see.

Cooking shows are postcards to what the world has to offer. It’s great to look at but it’s not real until you experience it for yourself. They give you incentive to try new things.

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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My Umbrella Story

It was raining when I went to work yesterday, so I bought an umbrella on the way. It was green and black and I had to get it because it reminded me of The Matrix. I was pretty proud of it. I showed it off to a couple of coworkers and they all agreed that it was a fine looking umbrella.

I chose a good time to buy a new umbrella because yesterday was the rainiest day in San Francisco since 2014. It was still pouring when I left work and headed to my girlfriend’s house, so I proudly made use of my nifty umbrella. Rain was still in the forecast this morning so I brought my umbrella with me when I took the train home. I was playing solitaire on my phone when I suddenly realized that I was at my stop. I quickly got up and jumped off the train. The doors closed, and as the train pulled away I looked down at my umbrella-less hands, knowing that I made a huge mistake.

I lost my umbrella. Well, I didn’t lose it. I knew exactly where it was but I was never going to get it back. I basically paid sixteen bucks to rent an umbrella for twenty-four hours. All I have left is a few memories and the now useless cover for it. I can only hope that the person who stumbles upon it treats it nice and gives it a better home than I did.

Critically Rated at 6/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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2017

The last day of 2017 is the best day to reflect on 2017. There were a lots of ups and downs. Like I saw Tom Petty live in May. Then he died in October. California finally got out of our devastating drought. Then we got massive fires in NorCal and SoCal. The San Francisco Giants were supposed to be playoff contenders. Then we ended tied for the worst record of the season.

I had a lot of good things happen this year. I won’t get into them because I don’t want to brag. I had a lot of bad things happen. I will get into them because I want to bitch. First off, I lost a very close friend in June. His passing was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to deal with in my life to date. I’m somewhat lucky to be surrounded by people feeling as lost as I am in the matter. We all miss and grieve him together. I lost a few others this year, like my Great Aunt Florence and my dog-in-law, Crash.

Pop culturally we watched in awe as powerful men were brought down with sexual harassment allegations. People that were long admired had their reputations and careers ruined when the public found out they were creepy rapist douchebags. I think that’s fucking awesome but I’m disappointed that the biggest creeper is still in the White House despite all the pussies he’s boasted about grabbing.

It’s hard to say if 2017 was a good year or a bad year, but it’s definitely a year that changed me. But I’m over it and want to see what 2018 has to offer. I’d say it can’t get any worse but I know it can and I don’t want to jinx anything. Hope you and yours have a prosperous 2018.

Critically Rated at 7/17

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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You Need a Valid ID to Drink

I’m a bartender at a corporate chain restaurant and we are required to check IDs when customers order alcoholic beverages. It’s not personal. It’s part of my job description. If you order a drink with me, I have to ask for your ID, and I can’t serve you if you don’t have a valid ID. It doesn’t matter if you’re twenty-one or eighty-one. You need a valid ID to drink. It’s the law, bro.

The other day I was at work and an elderly British couple came up and ordered a drink. I asked for their IDs. The husband had his ID, the wife did not. I told them I couldn’t serve her. The husband said I was being ridiculous, that she was sixty-three, she’s clearly of age. I said I was sorry, it wasn’t my policy, that I would serve her if I could, but she needs a valid ID to drink. At this point they became irate and started to raise their voices. They asked if I carded everyone else. I told them I did and my other customers confirmed it and backed me up. Their voices got louder and I started to enjoy watching them make asses of themselves. I showed them the piece of paper that my manager gave to every single employee that says we are required to check IDs when someone orders alcohol. I showed them the email he sent to every single employee about checking IDs. They still argued and got louder and louder while I fake-smiled more and more until they stormed off to find another bar to go to.

They found my manager on the way out and complained about me. He came up to me and thanked me for doing my job. My other customers tipped fat and offered me verbal consolations for enduring their rant with a smile. Everyone had my back. It’s not my fault that a grown ass adult didn’t have a valid ID. They should know better. They were a miserable couple anyway. I’m glad I inconvenienced them. I hope I ruined their vacation. A small victory still makes me a winner.

Critically Rated at 11/17

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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