Hey all, PCR here!
So, I just watched the finale of LEGO Masters Season 2 last night and…I have thoughts.
First, let’s go over the teams…
Caleb and Jacob – Even though they had been in the bottom two more than any other team in the finale, they made their move towards the end, winning Episodes 9 (Land and Sea with their “Chameleobster”) and 11 (Cliffhanger) which gave them some great momentum going in to the final.
Mark & Steven – They held The Golden Brick the longest, and had the most wins going in to the final episode, and though they were only at risk of elimination twice, once was the episode right before the finale, which put them on shaky ground.
Zack and Wayne – They were only ever at risk of elimination once in Episode 10 (Flip My Block) and had more 2nd place finishes than any other team the entire season.
So, we’re in the finale, and the teams are tasked with doing a “Day/Night” build. Caleb and Jacob opt for an hourglass design with a ‘Day City’ on the bottom and a ‘Night Realm’ in the top of the hourglass. It was bold in design and impressive in construction considering the two halves were built separately and then the top literally flipped upside down to join with the base. Considering the middle didn’t actually connect and it was only the 4 outer pillars supporting the weight, it was amazing to me that the thing stayed together.
Mark and Steven opted for a “Warden of the Woods” character. The “Day/Night” shift was accomplished with a number of lights throughout the model, and while the water base they created was very impressive at “night”, the figure overall honestly wasn’t that impressive to me due to the complete brown build with little variations of color except the leaves for the hair and the glowing eyes.
Zack and Wayne went back to the well once more (which they did often this season) and incorporated dragons into their tower build. It was tall, and each floor of the tower was personalized to their story, but the “Night” shift felt like it was just lights inside each floor that made them brighter.
Overall, I was expecting something different when the Brickmasters said they wanted a build that had a different feel and look in each Day and Night segment. To my dismay, Caleb and Jacob came in third, leaving Zack and Wayne and Mark and Steven to fight for the top two and… to be fair… both builds left me nonplussed. Mark and Steven as a team just felt too… cocky? Too… entitled? I don’t know… just something about their demeanor and how they came off most of the season made me not a fan, and while Zack and Wayne had many of those same qualities, it was their constant use of things we had seen them do before that left me unimpressed with a lot of their builds.
For me, the REAL winners this season were Natalie and Michelle, and Dave and Richard. Both teams had that creativity factor in a lot of their builds that felt others were lacking. They thought outside the box (and the brick) to do builds that were always on theme, but always original.
I won’t spoil who the winner was.
Did the best team win? Probably. Did the most creative team win? Certainly not in my opinion.
Season 2, while I was happy to see it come back, didn’t live up to Season 1 (the highest rated episode of S2 was barely over half of the lowest rated episode of S1), and it will be interesting to see what, if anything, comes to fruition for a Season 3.
Somethings! It’s Hatton!
Since PCR went and ranked his American Horror Story seasons, I thought – especially since our tastes differ pretty severely on a couple ones – that I’d hit it up too. If I really was going to dive in deep here, I’d break them down by half seasons, because it always feels like AHS gives you two stories and notoriously I like one side of it better than the other.
That said, let’s get into it…
9 – 1984
I thought 1984 was a disappointment. It leaned on the ‘Ghost’ rules of AHS heavily, and the latter half felt completely unbalanced to the first half. I really had wanted this to be a brilliant take on horror slashers and 80s teen horror, and it just fell into its own AHS branded melodrama.
8 – Asylum
PCR and I agree about the weakness of Asylum… with the exception of Lily Rabe as Sister Eunice, it felt like this season just didn’t have a cohesive story to tell, but a handful of separate stories that just didn’t land for me. The twists of aliens and the like just didn’t match the tone of the rest of the show.
7 – Apocalypse
I will admit, this one sits in the middle for me because it is the one season I’ve promised I’ll go back and rewatch sometime in the not far future. I would watch AHS while I was doing other things and I missed a lot of this one. I like bunkers. I like apocalypses. I remember there being one thing about this season I really disliked, but I couldn’t tell you now what it was.
6 – Coven
I know not worshipping Coven as a season is sacrilegious for some fans of AHS. I enjoy it, and it does feature one of my favorite subplots in all of AHS in the Axe Man. Coven, to me, feels like a season where AHS discovered what it could be and how it can tell different stories. Not a bad season, and important to AHS lore, but similar to my next entry – it felt like a well they kept coming back to.
5 – Murder House
I love a good sexy latex gimp. Who doesn’t, right? Murder House was an intensely new way to see a serial story and you didn’t know if you were watching a one season journey or if this was chapter one to a much bigger tale. The insert of the Black Dahlia felt very disconnected, but it set the rules we got to know so many times.. even though I think that at times it has been a crutch for AHS to lean on.
4 – Cult
PCR made a point that Cult was uncomfortable. I agree wholly, and it was that uncomfortability that had me glued to what was going on. I’ve seen so many documentaries about cults and group conspiracies and Jim Jones, NXIVM, etc that this was as much a curiosity as to how far they would take it as much as finding the real stories they pulled from to get there. Plus, Billy Lourd was a VIP in brilliance in her AHS debut.
3 – Freak Show
This was the first season I loved. Immensely loved. The addition of Neal Patrick Harris as huckster Chester Creb, Jessica Lange’s black and white over-produced musical numbers, and Dandy. I would have watched a Dandy season – he was brilliant in all of the most horrible of ways.
2 – Roanoke
OK OK OK … Hear me out. I can hear the pitchforks already. I have learned there are people that like what they did with Roanoke… and people that don’t. A documentary style show where the reenactors then go and get sucked into the plot of the story itself. it is AHS at its most meta and I was all about it.
1 – Hotel
I find Hotel to be -the- perfect story for Horror Story. It brings back something that hadn’t been around since the first and second season, which is this intangible sexiness. The location was this gorgeous gaudy affair that was a character unto itself. Every person feels like a fully lived in character. It doesn’t hurt that Evan Peters’ character was this amazing mix of an out of touch HH Holmes and Howard Hughes. Gaga was just amazing icing on an already packed cake.
Which ones were your favorite? Tell us where you tell us stuff!
Hey Somethings, PCR here!
So, in our Free For All episode (which you can listen to here…) we touched on ‘American Horror Stories’ and, tangentially, AHS in general. Long time listeners of the show know both Hatton and I have varied opinions of the AHS seasons… but here, for the first time, I’m giving you my rankings of them…
9 – Roanoke – I know they tried something a bit different this season with the ‘real vs re-enactment’ and the second half feeling like a different story until it wasn’t… but the whole thing fell super flat for me. When I first saw the title, I wanted a season ABOUT Roanoke not.. this convoluted mess that we got.
8 – Asylum – I know I’m stepping on toes here, there are a BUNCH of people who like Asylum. There were PARTS I liked, not not nearly enough to override the fact that I feel like I got scammed in a story that was teased and never shown.
7 – Cult – Cult was… uncomfortable. I know AHS stories aren’t supposed to be all ‘light and fuzzy’, but “Cult” for me felt ‘too soon’ with what was going on in the world at the time.
4 – 1984 – I liked the schlock of it. The season captured the ’80s vibe great, and it was exciting for me to see them bring Ramierez back.
1 – Apocalypse – I’ll be honest, this almost came in at the second spot as the first few episodes I was a bit “meh” on, but once The Witches showed up and everyone revealed their true colors, this season really took off. Cody Fern as Michael Langdon REALLY gave me some “Lucifer/Ahura Mazda” vibes from Cry for Dawn and there was little, if anything, I would change about the season as a whole.
Hey all, PCR here. Reading Hatton’s blog last week as he took a walk down memory lane with some video game accessories got me waxing nostalgic as well, and this week I wanted to speak on some of my favorite Table Top RPGs from back in the day. So, without further ado, grab your sheet and your dice, and let’s roll….
Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition – Still my favorite version of D&D as it’s what I spent the majority of my D&D time playing. I don’t begrudge folks their 5th ed and their D20 systems, but for me, this was something special. More streamlined than 1st ed, some great new spells and categories.. to me it just had a great, smooth feel to it. Had I the books, I would love to get into a 2nd Ed group to this day.
Mutants & Masterminds – My first foray into the d20 system came from M&M, and I have to say, I loved this system from Green Ronin. The rules were polished enough that combat was easy to jump into without feeling overly bogged down, and the creation was flexible enough that everything pretty much made sense. I’ve played RIFTS and GURPS and such, and while you can come up with anything your heart imagines in those systems, sometimes it just feels “Huh… sure.. ok…”, but in M&M it all felt like it made more sense. The closest a Super Hero RPG has been for me since the original “Marvel Super Heroes”. Speaking of…
Marvel Super Heroes – I still love this system, even with all its flaws. Loved the FASERIP chart, loved the d100 system.. my friends and I would spend countless hours just doing Battle Royal games…setting a timer for 5 minutes per person, having so many points to spend and just the Ultimate Powers Book to make a character, grab a random map, and off we go.
Hey Somethings, PCR here.
There are a lot of directors that have a certain “style”, but I feel many of them lean on that style so much that they become a parody of themselves and their movies no longer feel like “A movie directed by…” as much as they feel like “A movie done in the style of…”. Here is a list of my biggest offenders.
You knew he was going to be on this list. He’s shown he can indeed use more than 4 colors (Big Fish, Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, Mars Attacks!…) but he’s most well known for his ‘gothic fantasy’ color palette as seen in “Batman”, “Sweeny Todd”, “Sleepy Hollow” and many MANY many others. Even “Alice in Wonderland” and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” felt like instead of making a regular movie Tim Burton said “WHAT IF… I use a LOT of colors???”.
M. Night Shyamalan
The man who brought you “Bad Boys II”, “Transformers”, “The Rock” and “Armageddon” has also brought you metric fucktons of explosions, and throws around Dutch Angles like JJ Abrams uses lense flare. Now, I’ll freely admit, I really enjoy Bad Boys II, and seeing that felt he’d be a great director for Transformers (and I still don’t think I was wrong when the first movie is discussed), but it’s like he started becoming a superfan of his own work and “Baysplosions” were really a thing. Still, as bad and campy as they may be, most of them are still amazingly fun, and when Epic Rap Battles of History riffs on you, you’ve certainly put a mark on pop culture.
In my opinion, the worst of the bunch when it comes to ‘Style as Gimmick” because it’s the most egregious. Tarantino has an eye for cinematography for sure, but it’s his scripting and language that, to me, have become problematic. While “Reservoir Dogs” and “Pulp Fiction” made him a name when it comes to great conversational scenes and dialogue, “Jackie Brown”, “Django Unchained” and more recently “Hateful 8” felt like he was going out of his way to be controversial when it comes to the use (and sometimes HEAVY use) of certain words (which won’t even be alluded to here… you know which one I’m talking about). I’m not a ‘feet’ guy, but I’d have rather sat through 20 different shots of Quention licking toes than the nearly 50 times “that word” is used in “Hateful 8” (which is still less than half the number of times it was used in “Django”). Now, there are people who defend his use of that language in his films (most notably, Samuel L. Jackson), but in my opinion, if you’re specifically using a word or language for no other reason than to make your viewing audience uncomfortable watching it, then it’s a crutch and only being done gratuitously.
Hey Somethings, PCR here!
James and I had a great time recording our “Movie Quotes” episode…so much so that we both wanted to continue on the quote hype train. While James waded back in to Movies and Television, I’m going to drift more in to music… and.. more specifically, quotes from one of my favorite YouTube channels… Epic Rap Battles of History.
Without further ado… my “Top 8 favorite ERB lines”!
8 – “It’s Wendy, the hip-hoppin’ Pippy Longstocking… no flows as Frosty as the salad bars that I’m droppin’” – Burger King vs Ronald McDonald (feat. Wendy). The cameo we weren’t expecting, but absolutely elevated an already awesome battle.
7 – “Meanwhile I’ve mastered the atom more than any man alive, now I’m here to split you like 2 and 3 from 5” – J Robert Oppenheimer vs Thanos. This was a DEEP dive line that showed these guys seriously do their homework.
6 – “Let’s skip the kick flips and McTwists, you’ll be speechless after three periods like an ellipsis…” – Wayne Gretzky vs Tony Hawk. Another example of these guys diving deep to not only make lyrics rhyme, but show amazing creativity while doing it.
5 – “You swamp-school dropout you’re too whiny to rhyme, at least when I Slytherin a sister.. she isn’t mine” – Harry Potter vs Luke Skywalker. Two heavyweight franchises fighting it out gave us this fantastic dig.
4 – “Get beat by Count Dracula? You’re smoking crackula I dunk on your whackula raps like I’m Shaqula” – Count Dracula vs Vlad the Impaler. I’m a sucker for running rhymes and this one stole this battle.
3 – “Maybe Q can craft some new plotlines… you made Thunderball two bloody times” – James Bond vs Austin Powers. As a Bond fan, this line almost broke me and once again shows the levels of research the team does for their lyrics.
2 – “O, happy dagger pierce me true, persuade my breath to stop. Sheath yourself inside my heart, and like the beat…I drop” – Romeo and Juliette vs Bonnie and Clyde. There was a LOT to like about this battle, but to have come up with this line was near perfection.
1 – “Face it Ernesto, you’re Castro but less so. He’s Cuba Commander you’re more of the Destro”. – Che Guevara vs Guy Fawkes. A brutal diss, great rhyme AND pop culture relevant? Winner winner chicken dinner.
If you are a faithful Something, you have already listened to, or joined in as we celebrated our Year 8 Podiversary this month. On that first episode, we discussed our favorite quotes.. not just the best quotes, but our personal favorites.
For those who have never met me, I am a walking bastardization of a movie quote. There are so many great words that have been spoken in films and written in books that I have slipped into my brain, and reasonably gotten wrong most of the time, that for a long time it was its own joke that I know the movie, but I screw up the quote. I stand by that sometimes my versions are better…
More to the point at hand, we did 8 movies and it just didn’t feel like it was enough – so here is a few more quotes, not just from movies, that inspire me, altered me, or otherwise have moved me in some way.
* “I don’t have to explain my art to you, Warren”
I know, shock me shock me shock me with that deviant behavior… Empire Records is a movie that stuck with me the way, I assume, Breakfast Club stuck with the kids that came a few years before me. The internal affairs of the half-dozen twenty-somethings screwing up while they try to save their failing business model. To this day, when people talk about their favorite job.. the place where it wasn’t just the place they worked, but the place they grew.. it’s their Empire Records job.
* “This is my day, this is my song! // I am alive… what can go wrong?”
Now a song. Carbon Leaf’s ‘This Is My Song’ – which is the song I use when I just need to turn my brain around. When I am in a headfog of self-defeat and an inability to feel like anything around me will ever be better. I turn on this song and, no, things don’t magically get all the better, but be damned if I’m not just ever so slightly in a better headspace.
Doubly so if I can sing it at the top of my lungs loud enough to startle the people driving in the next lane over.
* “Stop looking for the next secret door that is going to lead you to your real life. Stop waiting. This is it: there’s nothing else.”
This right here is from Lev Grossman’s The Magicians, which is my favorite book series of all time. Some people just can’t get past the main character’s sort of grumpy Holden Caulfield, angry at the world, demeanor. Unlike Quentin from the television show based on the book, I get book Quentin and I’d like to believe we would hate each other, but he would get me…
So there you go, and I have a feeling we’ll do another quote episode sometime in the future with the fun we had. But what’s yours? What’s your favorite quote from anything! You can find us everywhere, just click a link at the top and poof.. there we are.
Hey there Somethings!
This week, I’m going to dive into something I enjoy doing, and haven’t done enough of lately… baking.
Years ago, on a whim, I applied to work at Carlos’ Bakery (of “Cake Boss” fame) in Hoboken, NJ. I got as far as having an interview with Joey. It was… surreal. The line to buy stuff was out the door, and I had been instructed to bypass the line and let them know I was there for an interview at the counter.
When I did, they ushered me to the ‘consultation table’ (If you’ve seen the show, you know what I’m talking about) right at the front of the store.. and immediately, cameras came out from those waiting in line thinking Buddy was coming out….the disappointment was noticeable when he didn’t.
I was brought back through the main bakery, up the narrowest flight of stairs I’ve ever been up, and into one of the upstairs offices where I met with Joey. I showed him pictures of some of the things I had backed and decorated and.. either genuinely, or to be polite.. said he was impressed. The job offer was… less than stellar however since I had neither a diploma from a culinary school, or a certificate of completion for a culinary course. I turned the offer down, but it lit a fire to keep doing what I was doing.
That said, here are my favorite desserts I’ve made….
Simple to make, look great on a table, and addictive to eat. Hollow out some good-sized strawberries, decoratively pipe in some cheesecake filling (I make it from cream cheese and vanilla extract) and serve. I’ve also done chocolate dipped versions as well.
Yellow cake cupcakes hollowed out and drizzled with coffee, filled with mascarpone cheese, topped with vanilla icing and shaved chocolate. Not quite as moist as the traditional version, but all the flavor profiles are there, looks great, and there is no mistaking what you’re tasting.
Basic B*tch Cupcakes
Take a Latte Oreo, put it in the bottom of a cupcake paper, fold in pumpkin compote to a spice cake mix (replacing half the liquid with the compote), spoon the mix over the Oreo and bake. Top with vanilla icing.
Crumble up some graham cracker and place on an eggroll wrapper. Add some chocolate chips and marshmallows, wrap the wrapper like a traditional eggroll and deep fry. The hard part is letting them cool off just enough that when you bite into it marshmallow lava doesn’t destroy your mouth.
The Fat Elvis
My most favorite. Chocolate cupcake filled with banana cream pudding, topped with peanut butter icing and crumbled bacon. I honestly don’t think anything else needs be said about it!
As we inch closer to being able to go hangout places again, there is one thing that I can’t wait for. It isn’t parties or going to the movies, although those will be nice… it’s sitting down with a few friends, or even a couple of strangers, and playing some board games.
Tabletop Simulator has done a little bit of scratching the ‘board game’ itch, but an afternoon around a stack of cardboard and dice legitimately sounds like a dream I once had, and I can’t wait to get back to it. Sometimes the games are laugh riots where everyone is just having a great time, others its deep strategy while you pour over dozens of little chips that represent armies or spaceships or elemental beasts…
No matter what your game dujour is – here is a brief list of the games that I am looking forward to cracking open, hopefully sooner than later. And, mind you, it also acts as a list of ‘great games you might not have played’
– Betrayal At House On The Hill – Arguably my favorite board game of the last decade, it doesn’t matter how many times I’ve played Betrayal… when someone suggests it, I am always first in line to choose my character. The premise, is that a group of thrown together folks are searching a house. Every game, the house is revealed randomly, so it is never the same look twice.
Eventually, some bad things happen and – this is where the magic happens – the game /changes/. More often than not, someone becomes the villain, and a plot is revealed. Whether it is a mysterious wedding the players have to stop or a rocket missle that is about to launch itself from the basement – Betrayal isn’t always a well-balanced game… but it is *always* a fun one.
– Werewolf/Mafia/One Night/Resistance – I put all of these games in the same pile because they all fit the same genre: Social Deduction Gaming. Someone (or ones) are the baddies, and through a mix of logic and unfettered arguing, it is up to the rest to reveal who it is before time is up. These games tend to do better with quite a few people, but when you have the right mix of sneaky players, meta players, loud players, and quiet players.. all with a little bit of knowledge, but nobody with all of the knowledge; add in a couple of drinks and you have yourself hours of some of the most fun deductive bickering a group can have.
You may have noticed I have a thing for games with traitors, or at least us vs them dynamics.. I do. A lot. So instead of listing nothing but traitor-oriented games, here are a few that don’t involve someone being an asshole. (But first, to add to those, there’s also Shadows Over Camelot and Letters from Whitechapel with are both worth your time)
– Charterstone – I was given Charterstone as a Christmas gift a few years ago, and my wife and I played it weekly until we had completed the campaign. I have been patiently waiting to have forgotten the strategy enough to play it again. You see, Charterstone is a ‘Legacy’ game, where along the journey, you draw/sticker/and edit the board as you go, guaranteeing that your end results of the 13 or so game series is drastically different than another set of players.
At its heart Charterstone is a ‘build a resource to trade a resource’ game, but the strategies you lay out in the first games become the lifeblood of your country in later games… and with the players, you build a world together.
– Love Letter – They don’t all have to be grand adventures… sometimes the best game is the one you can play a dozen times before you move on to something else. Love Letter is a game that has 16 cards, and takes about ten minutes from beginning to end. You have one card in your hand and take one card, and then play one of the two. It is remarkably simplistic, but the strategy can become fairly intense even in its short playtime. Perfect as a pick-up game between marathon sessions of any of the other games on this list.
So what boardgames have you been staring at on your shelves and swearing you are going to dust eventually? Let us know in all of the usual places and have a safe and healthy Fourth.
Hey folks, PCR here with some more TV that went under the radar (at least in the US)
I stumbled upon this first one on Netflix a while ago, and while they only had 2 seasons listed, there are a whopping FOURTEEN seasons available on Youtube. I’m talking about “Canada’s Worst Driver”. This show is equal parts hilarious and terrifying… hilarious in the way that, for those of us who drive (and have common sense) it’s crazy that there are people out there that have the thoughts and beliefs about driving (and driving laws) they actually have. it is also terrifying in the way that…. or those of us who drive (and have common sense) it’s crazy that there are people out there that have the thoughts and beliefs about driving (and driving laws) they actually have. 8 people get nominated by friends and/or relatives as “Canada’s Worst Driver” and are sent to a “Rehabilitation Centre” where they learn driving skills. Each episode, the driver who has improved the most… gets sent home… until there are only 3 left, and one of them end up getting named “Canada’s Worst”, complete with trophy and all.
The second show I’ll mention, “Canada’s Worst Handyman” (which has all 6 seasons also on Youtube) is the spiritual sister show of CWD. In CWH, there are only 5 competitors, and no one goes home each week… instead they all stay the whole season. The worst each week “hangs their head in shame” (hangs an actual portrait of themselves on the wall of shame), and the most improved becomes “The Foreman” for the group challenge they all work on throughout the season. It’s a bit less scary (at times) than CWD, although watching someone take over 170 swings to hammer a nail is like watching a car wreck.
The thing these shows have in common is their host, Andrew Younghusband.
This man is destined for Sainthood. The patience he has with people who either can’t learn, or are too stubborn to learn because ‘they know better’ (yet… here they are…) is something most of us should surely aspire to. To balance the job of ‘being host of a show that is… for all intents and purposes.. comedy’, and yet still honestly want to teach these people to ‘be better’, is not an easy thing to do, and Younghusband does it with ease. Even as the seasons of CWD continued on, and you watch him transform from ‘spry young host’ to ‘older and wiser’ (and could be bitter) host… he doesn’t. As Chris Rock once said “I’ll never hit a woman. I’ll shake the shit out of one tho…” it’s amazing that Andrew never even comes close to that with any of the contestants based of the people he interacts with.
That being said, do yourself a favor and check out at least an episode of each, and I assure you that you will almost certainly feel better about your own skills.