Good Sports: World Cup 2018 Preview

Surprise, America! That’s right, the World Cup starts tomorrow. How did this pop up so quickly on us? The rest of the world has been hungrily anticipating this for some time now, but as the American national team is pretty much a garbage fire, it’s all but a footnote until the day comes to televise the event.

Without further adieu, let’s take a glance at the 24 teams vying for the title of greatest in the football world:

Group A – Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Uruguay

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The 2018 host nation has a much better chance of advancing to the second round than its predecessor South Africa (the first nation to fail in the group stage). Its opponents are a blooming Saudi Arabia, upstart Egypt and the ever underestimated Uruguay. If anything else, the host status may not help them overcome what appears to be more of an even group then earlier realized. My pick for the lead here is Uruguay, though I have a soft spot for underdogs like Saudi Arabia as well. Russia will have to win the opener tomorrow at 11am to prove they’re here to host like champions. Egypt, while somewhat considered an afterthought, could equally play spoiler if goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary stands on his head. Advances: Uruguay, Russia

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Music to Your Ears – Kanye West, Father John Misty and Gorillaz

Never mind, there was plenty to talk about this week! Owl City is joined by ye himself, in a self-titled personal memoir inscribed with the statement “I hate being bi-polar, it’s awesome”. There’s also new stuff from Gorillaz, Neko Case and a surprisingly deft cover of Toto’s “Africa” by everyone’s favorite California neverbloomers:

Kanye West – ye

A musician’s career is a strange beast. None have been scrutinized in the past decade, I believe, as America’s beloved Kanye West. With his latest album releasing this past Friday, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that he’s either aging out of his own genre or losing grip on reality itself. I know he’s capable of something artistically majestic; he gave us My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. By now, he’s reveling in his broken-ness. It’s somewhat a shame to watch Kanye go down this rabbit hole, as I think there’s still something left in the tank before he’s cast off to the elder statesman role. Maybe he’s just trolling us with the first few tracks, because the real meat of ye is in the second half, where Kid Cudi and Charlie Wilson drop in for “No Mistakes” and there are other uncredited guest spots from Cudi and a phenomenal find in 070 Shake, rescuing the lost cause in “Ghost Town”. I’m actually sort of disappointed that the last track, “Violent Crimes” ends so abruptly, as the album was starting to heat up right at the wrong moment.

Key Tracks: Ghost Town / No Mistakes / Violent Crimes

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Podcast June 2 – Upgrade, Gringo and The Vanishing of Sidney Hall

After the last few weekends of expectedly huge blockbusters, the cinemas took a rest considering they might be overdoing it a bit. In Solo’s stead, a trio of minor films released this weekend, and Cory managed to see the most intriguing: Upgrade, by Leigh Wannell and starring Logan Marshall-Green (Spider-Man: Homecoming).

Tristan found recent indie The Vanishing of Sidney Hall on Amazon Prime, while Cory saw early March release Gringo as the pair caught up on winter releases.

There’s not too much to this week’s edition of the Interjections podcast, just three simple film reviews. So sit back, put your headphones on and take a listen in:

As always, remember to comment responsibly.

Music to Your Ears – Chvrches, Snow Patrol and Courtney Barnett

Another week, another double dose forced because of busy work weekends. Actually, this weekend was our frequent podcast guest Jeff Seesselberg’s birthday – the big 3-0. So there was a pretty good reason I didn’t get a chance to slip this into the site, as I was working and helping to prep our big camping trip. Heck, I’m lucky I managed to see Solo at any point. As it is, last week was a bit slim with content (Now, Now and Courtney Barnett are our highlights). This week saw perhaps my favorite band releasing their third album (Chvrches – Love is Dead) and an old favorite, Snow Patrol, returning after a seven-year hiatus. Let’s check it all out:

Florence and the Machine – “Hunger”

The stark open, detailing an anorexia analogy for young love, positions Florence as the edgier version of Adele, the right shoulder devil to her left angel. She paints a feeling all too familiar, of unrequited adoration settled in past innocence. Ms Welch has grown considerably since the dog days of Kiss With a Fist, and this foretells a stellar record later this month. Her signature warble anchors us by the time the instrumentals strike up, otherwise we would sink underneath the weight of the metaphor. It’s a powerful punch, and one that will likely be bolstered by subsequent singles.

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Podcast May 28th – Solo

Not too much differentiates this week’s belated edition of the Interjections podcast, though the main featured film is the latest Star Wars epic puzzle piece: Solo, the origin story of everyone’s favorite smuggler.

A lot has been said about whether this was necessary, as the mystery and intrigue surrounding Princess Leia’s one-time paramour was one of the best parts of the original Star Wars tale, but what did Cory and Tristan think?

Listen in below as you digest your hot dogs and hamburgers, and never forget to comment responsibly:

Podcast May 19 – Deadpool 2, Life of the Party and Terminal

So now that we have you gathered here, it’s time for the big announcement:

The Interjections Podcast is completely turning into the “Burt Reynolds Life and Times” Podcast, or: “BLT” for short. We’ll be hosting question and answer sessions with some of the biggest Burt fans, and each week we’ll go into extensive detail showcasing one of his many splendid films.

First, we’ll have our final movie talk ever, where I guess we’ll tell you how that Untitled Deadpool Sequel went, as well as the last important Melissa McCarthy cinematic endeavor Life of the Party. Cory can enlighten us on the stranger indie films like David Tennant’s Bad Samaritan or Margot Robbie’s Terminal, or Jim Carrey’s Dark Crimes, or now with more doves™ : John Woo’s Manhunt, out now on Netflix.

We’ll also take you back in time to the early ’90s with some Nicolas Cage features: It Could Happen to You and Guarding Tess, and an early Brad Pitt debacle, Cool World. Tristan highlights a pre-Oscar James Ivory with his final directing job on The City of Your Final Destination.

Finally, you’re in for a surprise treat to end this week’s final cinema-centristic conversation: a Burt Reynolds film from the early ’80s, which is why we’ll be transitioning next week into All Burt, All the Time.

Stay tuned for more later, but for now, listen in below and remember to comment responsibly:

 

Music to Your Ears – Childish Gambino, Matt and Kim, Arctic Monkeys and Beach House

Pro tip for life, folks: never get a job! I kid, of course! Seriously though, all my time has been taken up this past week and a half. Although I’ve listened to all this a handful of times, I’ve been driving more than sleeping, which loses the afforded time to type such feelings up. Since I ended up skipping last week’s stuff, it’s just mashed in with the following week’s for a double dose of Music straight to Your damn Ears:

Arctic Monkeys – Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino

I was not prepared enough for this. Arctic Monkeys may have put out a bad record, and the first telltale sign is that singer Alex Turner starts the proceedings off by muttering “I just wanted to be one of the Strokes”. Didn’t we all? I figured they were better than this pseudo-meta reference, but it devolves from there in a talk-sing existential experiment (“Star Treatment”) and then wanders aimlessly through dull attempts at love ballads. It’s just a little too weird for them, and somehow simultaneously not strange enough. Some spacey synths do not cover incapable lyrics. Maybe they could have taken a page from their spirtual cousins The Good, the Bad and the Weird (Damon Albarn’s 2006 side project) by branching out instrumentally. That’s not really the case here, as they simply riff on their one big hit from the 2013 comeback album AM: “Do I Wanna Know?” Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of the band, and I don’t begrudge myself feeling so poorly about this showcase. It’s rather disappointing to find that the band is merely coasting on past flourishes instead of reinventing themselves continuously as they had for their first five albums. In fact, it’s mostly because of the five-year gap that I’m truly disappointed. All this time, and you gave me not much of anything?

Key Tracks: Four Out of Five / Science Fiction / She Looks Like Fun (yes, the back half gets better)

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