Sadly the San Diego State football hype train has crashed and burned with deflating home losses to Boise State and Fresno State. They’re undoubtedly still in the hunt in the West Division given that the rest of the teams are trash, but, you know, an undefeated run would’ve been cool for a city that just lost their NFL team.
We’ll attempt to soften the blow with our College Girl of the Day — Alpha Chi Michaela. She’s big on music festivals like every hot girl in California.
Jeff Koons and Louis Vuitton are back for another art-inspired accessories collection, appropriately deemed the second chapter of “Masters,” their successful first collaboration. The latest line of handbags and wallets feature world-famous paintings, including Water Lilies by Claude Monet, The Triumph of Pan by Nicolas Poussin, Luncheon on the Grass by Edouard Manet, Ancient Rome by J.M.W. Turner, Delightful Land by Paul Gauguin and Reclining Girl by Francois Boucher.
The collection is based on Jeff Koons’ own take on iconic paintings, which appropriately bears the same name, the “Masters” series. The bags that showcase The Triumph of Pan by Nicolas Poussin are sold exclusively at the Maison Louis Vuitton Vendôme, the brand’s Paris store. Just like the first Masters collection, the latest bags also incorporate a reconfiguration of the prominent Louis Vuitton Monogram with Jeff Koons’ own initials. Louis Vuitton has never allowed this pattern to be altered until the debut of this highly-coveted collaboration.
The combination of present and past is a prevalent theme in the works of Jeff Koons and Louis Vuitton, both of whom know how to make innovative creations while celebrating accomplishments of years past. The Masters handbags are works of art in their own right; Koon’s signature is inscribed on each creation, which also includes a rabbit-shaped tag as an allusion to his past works. Inside the bag, expect to find a biography and portrait of the artist referenced on the exterior of the bag.
The 1990s trials of brothers Erik and Lyle Menendez were long and drawn out, spanning nearly three years before the siblings were sentenced. If you’re currently watching NBC’s new drama Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders, the first trial is just getting started. In case you’re wondering exactly how everything wraps up, here’s a quick rundown.
In July 1993, the first trial began for the brothers, lasting more than six months. Erik and Lyle were tried together, as in the trials were held together because the evidence and witnesses were nearly identical for each brother, but each of them had their own jury for the purposes of being found innocent or guilty. In the first trial, both juries came back deadlocked. Interestingly, the juries were split largely along gender lines, with men typically voting for first-degree murder and women typically voting for second-degree murder or manslaughter.
After the deadlocked juries, Los Angeles County District Attorney Gil Garcetti, fresh off losses in the Rodney King and O.J. Simpson trials, immediately began the process of retrying the siblings.
The second trial commenced in August 1995 and was quite different from the first trial. There were no cameras allowed in the courtroom, and Judge Stanley Weisberg did not permit the jury to consider that the brothers were reacting to years of abuse by committing the murders. Taking away that defense omitted the testimony of 40 different witnesses from the first trial.
Finally, the judge also did not permit the jury to consider a manslaughter charge, which left them with three options: first-degree murder, second-degree murder, or not guilty.
After five months, the juries in the second trial both delivered decisions of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder. The brothers were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole — one life sentence for each murder and for the conspiracy charge.
There were appeals by each brother, but the Supreme Court of California upheld the verdicts. Both brothers were deemed maximum-security inmates, with Lyle currently incarcerated at Mule Creek State Prison in Ione, CA, and Erik being held at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego. Both brothers have gotten married since being put in jail; Lyle has actually been married, divorced, and married again.
The Canadian indie pop duo Tegan and Sara Quinn are known for their quirky banter on stage, their unpolished language and totally relatable lyrics. The twin sisters have been performing together since the mid 1990s, releasing eight studio albums and garnering a loyal fan base from hits like “If It Was You,” “So Jealous” and “Closer.”
Tegan and Sara have never been ones to “follow the rules,” citing themselves as somewhat disruptive in the music community. As a response to their commercial success from their 2004 So Jealous album, Tegan says the duo released their 2007 album, The Con. “It was like the anti-establishment record. It’s a very rebellious record in my opinion. We break all musical theory rules and kind of exploded the template,” she says. “It’s kind of glorious to listen to it all,” she adds of the iconic album.
The Con offered an emotional soundtrack to the sister’s lives during a time when they were reconciling with the death of their Grandmother and mending relationship wounds. Tegan explains that between the two of them, they were experiencing their first really big loss that most people do in their 20s. “I think there is a naivety and a vulnerability to the record and 11 years later, it pretty much holds up,” she says. The dark subjects of loss, anxiety, death and fear in life are threaded through the album and Tegan happily admits that this is a reality society may not want to accept, but her and Sara do. “You can’t have that tremendous thrill of love and that heart-pumping excitement without fear that it will someday not last.”
Tegan and Sara Photo credit: Lindsay Byrnes
In celebration of The Con’s 10th anniversary, Tegan and Sara have again, disrupted any remnants of a musical template. With the release of The Con X: The Covers, the pair enlisted artists like Bleachers, Ryan Adams and CHVRCHES to cover all 14 songs from the original 2007 album. These artists were chosen specifically for their talents but also their support of the LGBTQ community. Proceeds from the album and the anniversary tour with benefit the Tegan and Sara Foundation, which fights for health, economic justice and representation for LGBTQ girls and women. “We wanted to engineer as much diversity as possible but also feature as many women as possible,” Tegan says. She excitedly tells me how securing LGBTQ allies and high-profile artists like Cyndi Lauper, Hayley Williams from Paramore and Sara Bareilles was deliberate but they really wanted to offer an opportunity for developing bands like MUNA, Shura and Mykki Blanco to be seen.
With each song from The Con being reinvented, Tegan says it’s offered a whole new experience for herself and Sara. “I’m a fan of our band but specifically, I’m a fan of Sara,” she says of her sister. “When I’m performing songs she’s written, I’m like the people in the audience. I’m inserting my own feelings and emotions into the music and finding my own meaning in it.” She adds that their The Con X: Tour will feature the songs performed front-to-back with all new arrangements in a first-ever stripped back manner, yet another way Tegan and Sara are breaking the mold.
Don’t cry for former Phoenix Suns head coach Earl Watson. Sure, he got fired three games into the season because his team was an absolute dumpster fire on the court, but we’re pretty sure unemployment is better than coaching a team that gets rid of their star players on the reg (Goran Dragic, Isaiah Thomas, Eric Bledsoe).
Our assumption seems to be correct considering Watson took to Instagram less than 48 hours after his firing to show everyone he was out with his UCLA fam Monday night. Discussion topics probably included Derek Fisher slander, Bledsoe drama, Watson’s next gig, etc. All fun stuff.
I’ve been doing this professional writing thing for about nine months now, which may not seem like a lengthy period of time but it’s offered me a kind of detailed education in pop culture journalism that mere spectatorship could never produce. People treat you differently when they discover that you get paid to have opinions on the internet: Often they assume you consider yourself a mighty, untouchable authority on every subject and thus should be attacked for your elitism, while many see you as a cog in the establishment machine working overtime to quash the beleaguered underdogs of geek culture through criticism. I’ve faced accusations of being paid off from Marvel, of hating Ben Affleck’s kids, of having a liberal feminist agenda (well, that one’s true), and of secretly hating pop culture. A lot of the time, I’m just subjected to weird or hostile insults on Twitter. Most of this doesn’t bother me because it’s noise I can mute or a spectacle I can laugh at. You get dishearteningly used to creepy comments and dogpiles, and as aggravating as it can be for such behaviour to be viewed as an expected hazard of the occupation by the outside world, it’s something I’ve learned to live with.
However, the one insult that always sticks is one that’s not even that nasty. I get called a ‘cunt’ regularly by Twitter bullies, but that feels like less of a slight against my work than when someone calls it ‘clickbait’. You never really get over the tedious slog of spending hours researching a piece, writing it up, double and triple checking it, following editor’s orders and seeing it published, only for people who didn’t read it to call it ‘clickbait’. Then again, that’s only mildly less aggravating than someone claiming they did read it and still insisting it’s clickbait.
The most obvious example of this is, of course, the Twitter account @FilmClickBait. Admittedly, I previously found the account quite entertaining as a succinct response to yes/no questions posed in article titles, but it quickly sank into a kind of smugness I found discomfiting, long before I started writing professionally myself. The account started to become intensely dismissive of the work of countless writers and only seemed emboldened by a fan-base that took every tweet for gospel, even when they were blatantly wrong.
Last week, the account got angry at one of its favourite targets, Screen Rant, a website I write for, once again reminding me why it made me so uncomfortable. One of the things you immediately learn upon beginning your career as a professional writer is that it’s an increasingly tough field to make your name in, both as an individual writer and as a team member for a website. Competition is fierce and social media, where so many of those precious clicks originate from, stacks the odds against you. You can do everything right and still only have a thousand people read your achingly researched piece. The things you used to scorn quickly reveal themselves to have specific reasoning behind them. I can point to my own statistics as proof that a catchy title will bring in the readers, but I wouldn’t say that constitutes clickbait. Making something clickable is not offering a bait and switch for readers. There are topics that will always be popular — when in doubt, write about Batman — but every piece is still a spin of the wheel that offers no guarantees.
FilmClickBait, as well as the supposed anti-clickbait mentality that it has fostered, seems rooted in a fundamental refusal to understand the cold hard economics of our business. Online journalism is not doing great right now, as evidenced by the nonsensical ‘pivot to video’ so many sites are doing, at the cost of countless wonderful writers. It’s easy to forget someone is making their living on those articles that get brays of laughter from a snarky tweet, and believe me, this is not a field that offers the kind of money that so many people insist it does (oh if only Marvel were offering those regular anti-DC shill cheques).
Those catchy article titles that bother FilmClickBait so much are not the be all and end all of an article. Using myself as an example, for Screen Rant, I wrote a piece entitled ‘How Much Did Inhumans Cost To Make?’ I’m sure someone reading this piece saw that sentence and rolled their eyes, but I wrote it for many reasons. For one, it was actually quite hard to find definite numbers on how much Marvel and ABC’s latest series cost, which isn’t unusual with TV shows but it’s usually easier to find solid numbers through a quick google than it was here. I found some local numbers on how much the production was estimated to cost and included them but also contextualised why Marvel and ABC would want this show to be so pricey. I went into detail about the failed IMAX premiere for the series, I talked about the strength of the Marvel brand in the TV world, and I looked into the possibility of the estimated budget being wrong due to quotes given by the pilot’s director. If you wanted to just know how much it cost, the number was there, and then you could leave, but if you wanted to know more, that was there too. It wasn’t just a post about a budget; it was a quick dive into one of the most powerful studios in the world and one way their business was going a tad awry. I was quite proud of that piece, as short as it was.
I’m sure that read to some of you as self-aggrandizing, but it’s hard not to take slams about clickbait personally from an account whose smarm dismisses the hard work of thousands of people, many of whom write without by-lines just to get a foothold in a crowded industry and all of whom love pop culture enough to want to put up with the perils of the field. A study found that 59% of all links shared on social media were never actually clicked on, so watching arrogant displays of dismissal like that stings all the more. Those people cheering on FilmClickBait probably weren’t going to click on the link in the first place.
I’ve so little time for hollow snark disguised as nobility. Our entertainment culture has many problems, but I struggle to see editors helping to make their teams’ pieces SEO friendly as one of them, particularly when the rabble-rousing entitlement of geek culture, based in a hatred of even the mildest spoilers and an insistence of true intellectual prowess, has taken form in this seemingly benign form. There’s no graciousness in snark, no matter how much you try to disguise it as a public service.
Knowing FilmClickBait, I’m sure they may link to this piece and offer a pithy summary of what they deem to be its point. Their readers will laugh at it, retweet his comment and probably not click on the piece itself. That’s probably for the best. Otherwise, they might learn something.
Boogie Nights is a jewel of a movie that is a precious gift to us all. It gave us so many perfect things like Philip Seymour Hoffman in a three sizes too small 70s freakum tank, Julianne Moore busting out one of her signature cries outside of the courthouse, a pucker-inducing dance scene, everything Becky Barnett says, the soundtrack, etc… etc… But being the dumb turd corn that he is, Marky Mark regrets doing Boogie Nights and hopes that God will forgive him for it. When Marky gets to the gates of Heaven and asks God if he’s forgiven for Boogie Nights, God will probably say, “Errr, I don’t forgive Paul Thomas Anderson for casting your ass, and I also don’t forgive you for almost killing those Vietnamese men,” before hitting a button that opens a trap door to Hell.
A couple of years ago, Marky joked about asking the Pope to forgive him for Ted, and The Chicago Tribune says that during an event with Cardinal Blase Cupich in Chicago on Friday night, he said that he hopes God forgives him for playing a 70s porn star. Oh yes, Marky wants forgiveness for playing a sinful porn star with a humongous dick, and not for playing a girl-beating dog killer in Fear! Makes sense.
“I just always hope that God is a movie fan and also forgiving, because I’ve made some poor choices in my past.”
Asked if he’d ever prayed for forgiveness for any movies in particular, he added, “‘Boogie Nights’ is up there at the top of the list.”
Since Marky is the pride of the Catholics, he was in Chicago to help Cardinal Cupich draw more young people into the church (and yes, I threw a side-eye at “draw more young people into the church…”). Marky thinks that the bad youngins’ of Chicago can relate to him since he used to do bad things, like you know, viciously beat two men in a racist attack.
“I’ve never been shy about sharing my past and the bad decisions I’ve made and being affiliated with gangs, being incarcerated, so absolutely I think they can identify with me on a personal level, and that’s why I’ve continued to try to do as much as I can to help young people.
It’s one thing to give money, or to start programs, but to be there and be able to talk to them, and tell them there is someone who has been through the same things they are going through and was able to turn their life around, and turn it into a big positive. That’s always important.”
But back to Boogie Nights...
There are many Marky Mark movies that he should beg for God’s forgiveness for (Planet of the Apes, that Transformers shit, The Happening, Daddy’s Home), but Boogie Nights is not atonement quality. Dirk Diggler is considered Marky’s breakout role, so if he was never in Boogie Nights, he might not be a multi-millionaire movie star who’s at some Catholic Church event talking about how he regrets doing Boogie Nights. So the next time Marky prays to the lord above to forgive him for playing Dirk Diggler, he’ll probably get a “request denied” message in his head since God definitely knows that he should be giving a billion thanks for Boogie Nights.
Glenn Close, co-founder of the non-profit Bring Change to Mind gathered together an eclectic cast of characters from stage and screen in San Francisco to celebrate the organization’s annual Revels & Revelations fundraiser at the iconic nightclub, Bimbo’s 365.
Apart from a few opening remarks about the non-profit’s mission to raise awareness for, and erase the stigma of, mental illness, the award-winning actress and activist left the evening’s program in extremely capable hands. Host Wayne Brady opened the evening by re-introducing himself to those in the audience who might have thought, “oh, that’s cute – Westley Snipes came.” The self-effacing Emmy-winner went on to explain that he, too, suffered from depression, making this an extremely special night for showing people mental illness knows no boundaries.
Irish singer-songwriter Rooty performed several new songs from her upcoming debut album, admitting earlier in the evening that her father suffers from serious depression. Comedian and author Greg Behrendt’s stand-up act was hilariously forthcoming as he told stories about past addictions and depression. Later, Tony-Award-winning singer Idina Menzel brought the packed room to their feet with a few songs from Wicked and an earth-shattering rendition of Radiohead’s poignant 1992 hit “Creep.”
Idina Menzel at the Revels & Revelations Fundraiser at Bimbo’s 365 Club Photo credit: Drew Altizer
Perhaps the most poignant moment in the evening came when Robin Williams’ children, Zak, Zelda and Cody Williams, presented Billy Crystal with the inaugural Robin Williams Legacy of Laughter Award. Sharing stories about his long relationship with Williams – who committed suicide in 2014 – Crystal gave the audience a personal glimpse into his special relationship with the comedian by playing one of the last, hilariously funny, voicemails he left for Crystal.
Crystal sat down with me to talk about his friend and the impact he had, and continues to have on his life and the lives of so many others. For nearly four decades Crystal and Williams honored each other through their craft every time they performed together since meeting in San Francisco, in 1976. The curtain ultimately fell in 2014 when, at the 66th Annual Emmy Awards, an emotional Crystal honored his longtime friend and collaborator after his untimely passing. Now, Williams, it seemed, was able to get the last laugh by celebrating Crystal – if only in spirit. “Nothing feels right all these years later,” said Crystal. “That speech I made at the Emmys was the single hardest thing I ever had to do, because it was so raw. He’d left us about a month earlier.” The Williams family agreed that the very first award bearing the comedian’s name could only go to one person. “To be able to be honored with an award bearing his name is the highest compliment a comedian can get,” he explained. “He was the closest friend you could imagine in every way,” he continued, “from the moment I met him to all the hours we spent on stage together.”
Billy Crystal at Revels & Revelations at Bimbo’s 365 Club Photo credit: Drew Altizer
The evening broke its record by raising $ 1,020,525 to benefit BC2M with help from Close who took the number to its sweet-spot by giving $ 5,000 of her own money. Before the night was over, I met with Close to talk about the state of mental illness in our country, which she confirmed was “pretty bad” – as if we could ever think differently? “There’s a huge need on all fronts,” she continued, “for funding at the state and national level, for more places for people to go and get help, and there aren’t nearly enough care-givers.” I mentioned San Francisco’s notoriously contentious problem with homelessness to which Close responded. “Any homeless population has a high percentage of mentally ill because they’re the people who suffer at the hands of state facility closures – the ones who ended up on the streets in a vicious cycle of homelessness, addiction and jail.”
Guests included Williams’ ex-wife Marsha Williams, Close’s daughter, actress Annie Starke, Jennifer and Joe Montana, Zem Joaquin, Kristy Yamaguchi, SF Giants CEO Larry Baer and Peter Getty.
Previously on The Walking Dead: Jeffrey Dean Morgan joined the cast as Negan and instead of becoming a villain that everybody loves to hate, he ended up becoming a villain that everybody just fucking hates and wishes would die already. Rick and company spent nearly the entire season licking their wounds, gathering weapons and supplies, building alliances with other communities, and preparing themselves for the inevitable and unavoidable All-Out War with Negan and the Saviors…which won’t at all be resolved until sometime this season.
THE STORY SO FAR: Rick and company are still going on the offensive to declare war on Negan and the Saviors. From strapping protective armor to their vehicles to setting up explosive tripwires and boobytraps to leading hordes of Walkers to where Negan and his people rest their heads, this all leads to both groups finally squaring off and failing to convince each other to not take this any further. When both leaders make it very clear that this won’t stop until one side is completely dead, both sides begin shooting at each other as if they don’t have limited ammunition for their guns and just replenish all of their resources thanks to the Bullet Farmer from Mad Max: Fury Road.
Gregory being Gregory decides to ally himself with Negan and make it clear that anyone from the Hilltop who goes against him will have no home to go back to. Jesus, and the rest of the Hilltop community, pretty much respond by telling Gregory to suck a bag of dicks because he’s not their real dad and Maggie is their leader now.
Dwight is still working with Rick and company behind Negan’s back.
Michonne seems to be healing rather nicely from the vicious, pointless, and Idiot Ball-driven fight she got into with a Junkyard Gang member in last year’s season finale.
Judith’s age hasn’t even hit double digits yet, but she still looks old enough to be played by a Fanning sister.
Tara is somehow able to locate Twizzlers in the Zombie Apocalypse.
And Rick is having dreams or flash-forwards to him being older and walking with a cane like he’s Alan Moore minus the wizardry and snake-worshipping as he lives in happier times with Michonne, Judith, and Carl. Whether any of this is real, a figment of his imagination, or part of the Sideways Universe is yet to be revealed.
WHAT’S GOOD ABOUT THE EPISODE: Stuff is finally happening and Rick and company have finally made it even more clear that the days of him standing still and doing nothing as Negan humiliates him and his people are over, which comes in the form of blowing up the protective fences around the Sanctuary and allowing hordes of Walkers to infiltrate and wreak plenty of flesh-eating havoc. And if you’re a Savior who gets stabbed in a sneak attack by Rick but you’re still dumb enough to taunt him that Negan will win and kill both him and his son, expect a Walker to be cut loose so it can start eating your face like it’s a four-course meal at Cracker Barrel.
WHAT’S NOT SO GOOD ABOUT THIS EPISODE: Gabriel being stupid merciful and compassionate enough to go back and help Gregory, as Walkers are about to swarm on him…only to be rewarded by Gregory leaving him behind by taking his vehicle and driving off without him. To quote the wise words of one Homer J. Simpson…
Gabriel takes shelter in a nearby trailer, which is also inhabited by Negan, who then tells him that he hopes Gabriel is wearing his shittin’ pants. Because he is about to shit his pants.
IS NEGAN IN THIS EPISODE?: Yes, he is, and he is as (dips) profane and (dips) delightfully evil (dips) as mother(dips)fucking (dips) ever!
DOES NEGAN KILL ANYONE ELSE?: No.
IS DARYL STILL ALIVE? BECAUSE IF HE’S NOT, THEN WE RIOT: Yes, he’s still alive.
ANY TIME-TRAVELING ALIENS IN THIS EPISODE?: Don’t make me go after your collection of baseball caps and burn every last one of them because of your stupid-ass questions, Dustin.
DO WE FINALLY GET TO SEE JAMIE AND CLAIRE REUNITE WITH EACH OTHER IN THIS EPISODE?: You’re confusing The Walking Dead with Outlander, but…yes. Yes, they do. It happens as a post-credits stinger which you can watch here.
TO SUM IT ALL UP: Yes, I still find it annoying that the All-Out War storyline was stretched out much longer than necessary, but if the show is going to insist on doing that, then the least I can hope for is that this season actually moves at a much faster and better pace than it usually does and that the Idiot Ball isn’t given to the characters too much so that the episodes are actually tolerable. This week’s episode was a damn solid one, but the next seven weeks will tell us whether or not any of this comes to pass and whether we’re better off just waiting to find out if Tormund is alive and will reunite with Brienne of Tarth.
This episode of The Walking Dead was dedicated to both John Bernecker, a stuntperson who died on the set of the show this past July after suffering serious injuries due to falling onto a concrete floor from 25 feet…
…And to George A. Romero, legendary writer/director of Night Of The Living Dead and its many sequels which helped make The Walking Dead possible, and who I also wrote about here.
This episode of The Walking Dead has been brought to you by, what else, «Another One Rides The Bus» by ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic.
As you can see in the video above, it appears two fights broke out at the same time, but Kirk Cousin v. Fletcher Cox was the main event here. Cox should have been able to handle business, but he was standing straight up and ate a clean right hand that pretty much ended his night.
Now seems like an appropriate time for this Cousins clip: