Movie review: “Trainwreck” (2015)


“I’ve been with a lot of guys.”

“I don’t care! I…how many?”

“I don’t know. How many girls have you slept with?”

“I’ve slept with three women.”

“Me too! I have…slept with three women too.”

“How many guys?”

“What…like, this year?”

To a successful stand-up, a well-honed comedic persona can be an invaluable tool – part battle armor, part Kabuki makeup, part magician’s assistant. Such a persona, historically, particularly becomes the provocateur – your Kinisons, your Dice-Clays, and so forth. The late, great Richard Pryor was such a gifted mimic and storyteller that he could try on new roles two at a time ten times a night and still be hailed for his truth-telling authenticity*. Amy Schumer has enjoyed a meteoric, in many ways fascinating, rise over the past five years from relative unknown to buzzworthy stand-up** to television star to trending pop culture force. Through it all, the stage persona that has allowed her to not only reach but charm a significant audience – largely on the strength of, let’s face it, objectively filthy material – has remained more or less intact. Continue reading “Movie review: “Trainwreck” (2015)”

Movie review: “Sixteen Candles” (1984)


“Can I borrow your underpants for ten minutes?”

For someone whose work is so often rightly lauded for portraying teenagers in a three-dimensional, sympathetic but non-patronizing light – “realistic”, in critical shorthand – it turns out the late John Hughes was also a hearty proponent of brazen wish fulfillment. To wit: in a fit of pique, Home Alone’s eight-year-old Kevin McAllister wished his family would disappear, and off they rushed the next morning to Paris, without him. Andie Walsh and Keith Nelson, of Pretty in Pink and Some Kind of Wonderful, overlooked the unrequited loves parked right in front of their faces in favor of dogged, unlikely, shockingly successful romantic pursuits of the most popular boy and girl in school respectively. I’ve long contended that the only reason everyone in The Breakfast Club didn’t leave Saturday detention with a brand new significant other on his or her arm was that the group itself was an odd number. Continue reading “Movie review: “Sixteen Candles” (1984)”

Steelers Thoughts #9 (8/10/15): The Not Ready for Primetime Players


We leave aside the noble, useful, stated purpose of preseason football for a moment, which is to allow a venue through which teams can effectively simulate, or at least approximate, NFL game speed and coaches have an extended opportunity to evaluate young talent in a crucible of combat ostensibly more competitive than training camp drills would be. We do this because the NFL and its member clubs comprise a cut-throat business cartel that would not only probably sell its soul for an extra 30 seconds of prime time ad revenue, it doubtless has many times over. Televised preseason football (gulp) springs from a modified carnival barker/snake oil salesman’s mentality, with the exception that instead of convincing Joe and Jill Q. American that their ho-hum lives are sadly and shoddily incomplete without the inclusion of this revolutionary new product, it is convincing folks with an authentic hole in their lives that the clearly substandard product being peddled is, in fact, a 1:1 replacement for it. Continue reading “Steelers Thoughts #9 (8/10/15): The Not Ready for Primetime Players”

Concert review: The Smashing Pumpkins/Marilyn Manson


Mid-Florida Credit Union Amphitheater, Tampa, FL – July 24, 2015

The historic first joint live venture between The Smashing Pumpkins and Marilyn Manson has been dubbed, with characteristic humility and understatement, “The End Times Tour”. It does make a weird sort of sense that the leaders of perhaps the two most prominent cults of personality to survive the free-for-all that was ‘90s alternative rock would one day tour together. It also makes sense that the two would exhaust most every option that allowed them to maintain top billing and/or autonomy before grudgingly doing so. The infamous “Mr. Manson” and persnickety Pumpkin King Billy Corgan achieved their respective heights through mixtures of talent, ambition, artistic vision, and sheer guile (the exact percentages may be tweaked or spiked in the favor of one category or other). Continue reading “Concert review: The Smashing Pumpkins/Marilyn Manson”