Good Sports: A Bit More Hockey

Well, this is it folks – the moment every hockey fan has been waiting for: the Stanley Cup Playoffs. For the first time since I started writing about sports, my hometown team is in there. They needed every point they could get, as they essentially snuck in between Philly and Florida for the final spot in the East.

In October, I made the bold prediction that the Washington Capitals would win their first Stanley Cup over the Edmonton Oilers. This was mostly due to the fact that I’m sick of hearing the Capitals dominate and see nothing come of it, plus I truly believe Alexander Ovechkin deserves at least one Cup to show for his sparkling career.

Now that they’re one of the remaining sixteen teams, and Edmonton so brilliantly flamed out of their spot, I have a new round of predictions for you. Playoffs start on Wednesday in Pittsburgh and Winnipeg simultaneously, while the first ever playoff game in Las Vegas will happen later that night. There are plenty of storylines to follows, so let’s dive in:

Philadelphia at Pittsburgh

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The rumble in Pennsylvania would be enough of a storyline, as the rivalry can get pretty nasty in postseason play. It might not be as huge as Ovechkin-Crosby make their faceoffs, but the ’09 and ’12 rounds were particularly chippy. Instead, the most important aspect of these games are that Pittsburgh is hoping to make 2018 their third consecutive Stanley Cup year. Having knocked off the San Jose Sharks and Nashville Predators the last two seasons, they only need to face off against four more opponents and accumulate sixteen wins to make the team the first to get three consecutive Cups since the New York Islanders nabbed four from 1980-1983. Much of the Penguins squad that won the last two years is there, though they picked up Derick Brassard at the deadline to replace Nick Bonino as a third-line cog. They’ll look to stave off exhaustion to reach their dynasty, but Philadelphia looks to just be starting things. While Claude Giroux is suddenly a veteran, he managed to turn in the best single-season performance of his career, posting 102 points (34g, 64a) in a bid for MVP status. In leading the Flyers back to postseason contention, he’s brough along a slew of newcomers – Travis Konecny, Ivan Provorov and the number 2 pick in the draft last year, Nolan Patrick. The team will look to overcome one of their biggest rivals to dismantle the tenth-longest Stanley Cup drought ever.

Previous Meetings: 1989, 1997, 2000, 2012 (Philadelphia); 2008, 2009 (Pittsburgh)
Pittsburgh in seven.

Continue reading Good Sports: A Bit More Hockey

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Review: Roseanne (Season 10, Episode 1)

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Roseanne Barr’s sitcom was always about the blue-collar, working-class woes of the Rust Belt. With the announcement of another revamp, fans of the original series were apprehensive especially after Season 8-9 were such a grandiose failure of esoteric anticlimaxes. Happily though, Season 10 is a riotously funny success that sheds the bitter aftertaste of the Connor’s serendipitous lottery win and Dan’s heart attack.

At the center of this premiere episode is the debate between Roseanne and Jackie (Laurie Metcalf) over the presidential election. Many of the jabs are politically pungent (when the family is about to “say grace” before dinner, Roseanne asks Jackie if she would like to take a knee) and from Roseanne’s bumpkin perspective, her support of Trump is aligned with her character since his rhetoric was about job stimuli.

After the initial inside-joke about Dan (John Goodman) being deceased and Goodman visibly scrolling the cue cards, the show kneads out the hiatus pangs for a smoother reintroduction to Roseanne’s rogues gallery. Sara Gilbert and Lecy Goranson effortlessly reprise the arsenic-and-nectar interplay between the dueling sisters. Ex-military DJ (Michael Fishman) is given short shrift but then again, he was always a minor character within the nuclear family.

Sarah Chalke as the surrogate benefactor to Becky is a shrewd way of a breaking-the-fourth-wall clashing between two eras on the show. Several of the punchlines elicit chortles including a droll exchange between Darlene’s effeminate son and Dan (“I like your nail polish.” “That’s not nail polish, son. That’s dry-wall.”).

The show hasn’t lost the zeitgeist pulse of the fly-over Red State mentality(Dan is apoplectic over Becky’s decision for her uterus to be the host of another woman’s child). They might be slower on the progression scale , but the Connors are an all-inclusive, amenable family regardless.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

Review: Barry (Season 1, Episode 1)

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Wandering aimlessly into an amateur acting course was the self-referential setup for Shane Black’s brilliant neo-noir Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang. A hitman/gangster exorcising their crime-ridden ennui with therapy or another incongrous outlet was the setup for Analyze This, The Sopranos, Panic and several other properties from the early 2000’s. By my count, Barry is already a decade too late for its concept.

It’s always a premature slog when the main character is already despondent from the first frame which is the case for Barry, the vanity project/brainchild of Bill Hader. Barry is a moping killjoy immediately and the jokes are a resounding thud of poker-faced dialogue about how to execute a cuckolding target (one suggestion is a stabbing castration).

The sparkplug for the premiere episode is vulgarizing the normally wholesome Happy Days megastar Henry Winkler. When he berates a female thespian on-stage with a vicious tirade to motivate her, he must be channeling David Mamet. Hader’s tentative stagefright is heart-palpitating but unlike Crashing which derived much inspiration from the other stand-up comic shows, the show doesn’t transcend the material with any fresh observations.

I’d rather the show recalibrated and focused on Stephen Root’s liaison handler. He materializes wherever insomniac Barry is and despite his chipper kinship with Barry and encouraging musings about his “purpose” in life, he brandishes an element of combustible spontaneity. It’s tenable that he could metamorphose from Barry’s accomplice to his mortal nemesis if Barry botches any more contracts.

Rating: 2 out of 5

Podcast April 7 – A Quiet Place and Blockers

Cory and Tristan were firing on all cylinders this week – they saw the biggest new release: John Krasinski’s post-apocalyptic thriller A Quiet Place. Cory also took in perhaps the biggest comedy release of the year with the surprising Blockers.

They each saw a handful of older films, including Stephen King’s Misery, Famke Janssen’s 2008 VOD introduction 100 Feet, Eddie Murphy sequel Beverly Hills Cop 2, the original Clash of the Titans, Gene Hackman/Al Pacino drama Scarecrow, astronaut conspiracy thriller Capricorn One, ’90s romance remake Sabrina, Taiwanese existential drama Rebels of the Neon God and last year’s Will Ferrell/Amy Poehler casino comedy The House. Tristan also saw this week’s newest television show, The Last O.G. It stars Tracy Morgan, fresh from his brief hospital visit.

Take in all of this and more below, and remember to comment responsibly!

Also: don’t forget to turn your headphones up for the beginning…

Music to Your Ears – Kacey Musgraves, Kate Nash and Best of Winter 2018

We’re rounding up the best of the first few months of 2018 here this week at Music for Your Ears. Before that I have a handful of reviews of last week’s new music:

 

The Vaccines – Combat Sports

I was hotly anticipating this album after their incredible first single “I Can’t Quit”. You’ll even see that track later in this article heading up the Best of Winter playlist. I’ve been playing it nearly nonstop since its release in the first week of January. I’d love to give this album a better grade, but I fear that I may have made it too highly anticipated. I wouldn’t say it’s disappointing, but many of the songs simply sound the same. I’m perfectly happy with the danceable rock outs of “Surfing in the Sky” and “Nightclub” but there weren’t enough like the palpable brake pads in the slowed down “Young American”. I’m also very happy that this band has taken up the reins left behind by their predecessors like the Strokes, Libertines and Oasis. If they keep churning out stuff, I’m happy with this level of quality to even start. I think it’ll take a listen or two more to truly identify if this is one of the best of the year, though.

Key Tracks: I Can’t Quit / Take It Easy / Out on the Street

Continue reading Music to Your Ears – Kacey Musgraves, Kate Nash and Best of Winter 2018

Podcast March 31 – Ready Player One, Love Simon and Game Over, Man!

There was a challenge sent out last week by one of our regular contributors to the Interjections podcast, Jeff Seesselberg. He offered to throw down against one of the teams’ oldest friends, Mike Duquette, over the stigma against new Steven Spielberg film Ready Player One. Jeff had once thought Mike would love the book and subsequent film, but it has appeared otherwise.

Cory and Tristan decided to invite the pair to hold a debate on the Interjections podcast to settle once and for all if the book and movie have any artistic merit. The nostalgia factor is looming large this Easter weekend, and you won’t want to pass this over.

Before we settle into the conversation, Cory and Tristan reviewed a handful of other films and shows that debuted in the past week or so:

Love, Simon – Greg Berlanti’s coming-of-age coming-out story starring Nick Robinson as the titular Simon

Game Over, Man! – A new Netflix original starring the gang from Workaholics in a weak Die Hard spoof

A Wrinkle in Time – Cory gives his take on the second Disney adaptation of the beloved children’s book

Unsane – Claire Foy loses her mind in Steven Soderbergh’s iPhone experiment

Isle of Dogs – Wes Anderson’s latest charming animated venture follows a group of mangy canines as they help a young boy find his lost pet

The Villainess – Tristan reports on the South Korean action/melodrama that mimics Hardcore Henry and Neighbours

The Golden Child – Cory finishes off some of his Eddie Murphy checklist

Tristan also brings us reviews of pilot episodes for new shows BarryRise, and Alex, Inc.

Here’s that podcast, chock full of plenty of reviews:

 

Now it’s on to part two, and the main event:

 

Remember to plug in and comment responsibly!

Good Sports: Wild Awards and Postseason Predictions

One last thing, if I could: Let’s pick some wild aspirations for the season. If I’ve learned anything over the past few years, it’s to expect nothing but a complete surprise. You saw the Royals climb the mountain and win a World Series? Doesn’t mean they’ll continue that success. The Penguins won a Stanley Cup so it’s time for a newcomer to win? Give them two. So, for all the potential Cinderella sleepers out there, all it takes is an injury to your rival and a deadline pickup of Chris Archer to push your surprising dream forward. Let’s take five wild swings at the plate as to what will happen over the course of this season:

1) Cole Hamels returns to Philly

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I’ve seen this somewhere else, but I like the idea of Hamels being sent back to Philadelphia as Texas realizes they’ve lost the season. He’s a beloved home-grown star that can spark the old stomping ground like he did for Texas when he arrived there in 2015. Throw him into the mix with Aaron Nola and Jake Arrieta and you have the makings of a return to postseason glory. At the very least, if the Mets stumble, the Phillies would be fools not to consider going after any stud pitcher. Why not their prodigal son?

Continue reading Good Sports: Wild Awards and Postseason Predictions

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