NTWON: Tracy Morgan's Staying Alive

nothing-to-watch1.jpg

This month's Nothing to Watch on Netflix segment spotlight's Tracy Morgan's return to stand-up after a near death experience and a long convalescence to deliver some laughs to the 'Flix.

The special opens to a relatively low energy crowd, as the audience is unsure what to expect. Tracy Morgan was in a coma, after all, and it's difficult to tell how much he has been affected by his injuries. He moves a little slower and his speech seems to be affected by the brain trauma. However, just 2 minutes in you'll forget about all of that, as performing comedy seems to be like riding a bike for Tracy Morgan.

His one-hour special covers a wide range of topics, including how he met God when he was in a coma, the dark side of his family, the difficulties of physical therapy, and what it's like to not remember the words of a song. Tracy takes a rapid-fire Rodney Dangerfield approach to telling jokes with punchline following punchline with no break in the action. He often also follows up these punchlines with one or two extra tags to keep the energy up and the laughs rolling.

Overall, this is an incredibly strong stand-up special. The material is well-crafted and the pacing is perfect. There are no lulls and you will be laughing for almost the entire 60 minutes. It might be especially fitting to watch this special when laid up in bed with a sickness or injury. Definitely give this a watch if you're looking for something light and funny. 

My God, It's Full of Stars - Tracy K. Smith

In honor of Tracy K. Smith being named the new Poet Laureate of the United States, Mick read one of her poems, My God, It's Full of Stars

 1. 
 
We like to think of it as parallel to what we know,
Only bigger. One man against the authorities.
Or one man against a city of zombies. One man
 
Who is not, in fact, a man, sent to understand
The caravan of men now chasing him like red ants
Let loose down the pants of America. Man on the run.
 
Man with a ship to catch, a payload to drop,
This message going out to all of space. . . . Though
Maybe it’s more like life below the sea: silent,
 
Buoyant, bizarrely benign. Relics
Of an outmoded design. Some like to imagine
A cosmic mother watching through a spray of stars,
 
Mouthing yes, yes as we toddle toward the light,
Biting her lip if we teeter at some ledge. Longing
To sweep us to her breast, she hopes for the best
 
While the father storms through adjacent rooms
Ranting with the force of Kingdom Come,
Not caring anymore what might snap us in its jaw.
 
Sometimes,  what I see is a library in a rural community.
All the tall shelves in the big open room. And the pencils
In a cup at Circulation, gnawed on by the entire population.
 
The books have lived here all along, belonging
For weeks at a time to one or another in the brief sequence
Of family names, speaking (at night mostly) to a face,
 
A pair of eyes. The most remarkable lies.
 
 
          2.
 
Charlton Heston is waiting to be let in. He asked once politely.
A second time with force from the diaphragm. The third time,
He did it like Moses: arms raised high, face an apocryphal white.
 
Shirt crisp, suit trim, he stoops a little coming in,
Then grows tall. He scans the room. He stands until I gesture,
Then he sits. Birds commence their evening chatter. Someone fires
 
Charcoals out below. He’ll take a whiskey if I have it. Water if I don’t.
I ask him to start from the beginning, but he goes only halfway back.
That was the future once, he says. Before the world went upside down.
 
Hero, survivor, God’s right hand man, I know he sees the blank
Surface of the moon where I see a language built from brick and bone.
He sits straight in his seat, takes a long, slow high-thespian breath,
 
Then lets it go. For all I know, I was the last true man on this earth. And:
May I smoke? The voices outside soften. Planes jet past heading off or back.
Someone cries that she does not want to go to bed. Footsteps overhead.
 
A fountain in the neighbor’s yard babbles to itself, and the night air
Lifts the sound indoors. It was another time, he says, picking up again.
We were pioneers. Will you fight to stay alive here, riding the earth
 
Toward God-knows-where? I think of Atlantis buried under ice, gone
One day from sight, the shore from which it rose now glacial and stark.
Our eyes adjust to the dark.
 
 
          3.
 
Perhaps the great error is believing we’re alone,
 
That the others have come and gone—a momentary blip—
 
When all along, space might be choc-full of traffic,
 
Bursting at the seams with energy we neither feel
 
Nor see, flush against us, living, dying, deciding,
 
Setting solid feet down on planets everywhere,
 
Bowing to the great stars that command, pitching stones
 
At whatever are their moons. They live wondering
 
If they are the only ones, knowing only the wish to know,
 
And the great black distance they—we—flicker in.
 
 
Maybe the dead know, their eyes widening at last,
 
Seeing the high beams of a million galaxies flick on
 
At twilight. Hearing the engines flare, the horns
 
Not letting up, the frenzy of being. I want to be
 
One notch below bedlam, like a radio without a dial.
 
Wide open, so everything floods in at once.
 
And sealed tight, so nothing escapes. Not even time,
 
Which should curl in on itself and loop around like smoke.
 
So that I might be sitting now beside my father
 
As he raises a lit match to the bowl of his pipe
 
For the first time in the winter of 1959.
 
          4. 
 
In those last scenes of Kubrick’s 2001
When Dave is whisked into the center of space,
Which unfurls in an aurora of orgasmic light
Before opening wide, like a jungle orchid
For a love-struck bee, then goes liquid,
Paint-in-water, and then gauze wafting out and off,
Before, finally, the night tide, luminescent
And vague, swirls in, and on and on. . . . 
 
In those last scenes, as he floats
Above Jupiter’s vast canyons and seas,
Over the lava strewn plains and mountains
Packed in ice, that whole time, he doesn’t blink.
In his little ship, blind to what he rides, whisked
Across the wide-screen of unparcelled time,
Who knows what blazes through his mind?
Is it still his life he moves through, or does
That end at the end of what he can name?
 
On set, it’s shot after shot till Kubrick is happy,
Then the costumes go back on their racks
And the great gleaming set goes black.
 
 
          5.
 
When my father worked on the Hubble Telescope, he said
They operated like surgeons: scrubbed and sheathed
In papery green, the room a clean cold, a bright white.
 
He’d read Larry Niven at home, and drink scotch on the rocks,
His eyes exhausted and pink. These were the Reagan years,
When we lived with our finger on The Button and struggled
 
To view our enemies as children. My father spent whole seasons
Bowing before the oracle-eye, hungry for what it would find.
His face lit-up whenever anyone asked, and his arms would rise
 
As if he were weightless, perfectly at ease in the never-ending
Night of space. On the ground, we tied postcards to balloons
For peace. Prince Charles married Lady Di. Rock Hudson died.
 
We learned new words for things. The decade changed.
 
The first few pictures came back blurred, and I felt ashamed
For all the cheerful engineers, my father and his tribe. The second time,
The optics jibed. We saw to the edge of all there is—
 
So brutal and alive it seemed to comprehend us back.
 

Santa with Muscles

Mick, Jesse, and Taylor are joined by special guest Danny Henry to watch 1996's Santa With Muscles, starring Hulk Hogan and, for some reason, a very young Mila Kunis. We are also pleased to announce our new theme song, written and performed by Danny Henry (who is real). 

Bonks: 6

Puns: 8

Jesse

  1. Wrassling Moves

  2. Wrassling Cameos

  3. Christmas-themed "I'm Gonna Beat You Up" Puns/ One-Liners

  4. Santa Will Not Go to Prison

  5. Ends with a nice family Christmas dinner

Final Thoughts: 

Needs more Wrestling

2.5.jpg

Taylor

  1. Another Wrestler will appear for cameo (Macho Man Randy Savage)

  2. It will snow at the end even though it's in California

  3. Scientist is Evil because they didn't get presents as a kid

  4. There will be CGI Intro Credits that hurt to watch

  5. The Children will have a TON of one-liners

Final Thoughts: 

This movie put me in a sleeper hold.

Mick

  1. Too many puns

  2. Multiple head bonkage

  3. Christmas will only be peripheral to the story

  4. Hulk Hogan doesn't stop being Santa

  5. The "evil plot" will make no sense and would be easily accomplished through murder.

Final Thoughts: 

This movie put me in the Christmas spirit.

Danny Henry

  1. Hulk Hogan ends up with the main kid's Mom

  2. Black man only says stereotypical racist things

  3. Clint Howard gets really hurt

  4. Hulk Hogan meets the real Santa

  5. Once scientist is good

Final Thoughts: 

I kind of want to make a sequel after a heavy amount of drinking.

2.png

Glitch City 2

You may remember Keith's post, Glitch City from a while back. Well, this time around, Mick and Taylor joined Keith for some more urban exploration and photography. Check it out below!

Taylor

Mick

Keith

NTWON: Zack and Miri Make a Porno

Zack and Miri Make a Porno is a 2008 Kevin Smith comedy that squeaked under the radar due to being overshadowed by such instant classics like Tropic Thunder, Step Brothers, and Pineapple Express (2008 was a big year for comedy movies). However, Zack and Miri is a hilarious movie in its own right and it's available to watch right here right now on the flix.

Being a Kevin Smith movie, Zack and Miri is surprisingly weak on the Kevin Smith circle-jerk. A few of the usual suspects join the cast (Jason Mewes, Justin Long, Jeff Anderson), but there are plenty of other people that Smith does not typically work with, including some people with actual experience in Pornography. Seth Rogan and Elizabeth Banks are strong leads, but the secondary characters steal the show in almost every scene they are in. Craig Robinson and Justin Long, in particular, bring a ton of laughs and quotable lines.

 The script for this movie is strong and, being a Kevin Smith film, things do not stray from the more... vulgar aspects of producing and filming pornography. The dialogue is snappy and Rogan/Banks' delivery is spot on and full of pep. The plot is simple and takes a little time to get momentum, but by the end, everything comes together. Ultimately, even though this is a movie about making a porno, Zack and Miri falls firmly into the category of Romantic Comedy, even if it is full of gross-out humor and dick jokes.

From a technical perspective, there wasn't anything particularly special about the way the movie was shot. Being a movie about a couple of deadbeats making a porno, it doesn't require many special effects. Really, this is a movie that is all about the wordplay and the visual jokes, as there is one particularly memorable scene where Zack (Rogan) awkwardly propositions someone. Obviously, with a title that includes porno in the name, there is going to be a lot of sex, so if you've got some weird hangouts about seeing people plow, this may not be the movie for you. On the other hand, if you're looking to see some boobs and some dick, this might just be the movie for you.

Check it out! 

Deconstruction Reconstruction- Debbie Smith

You may remember seeing some of Debbie Smith's work from the time Mick and Willie went to New Haven Open Studios. This time, Debbie is sharing her latest series of micro-sculpture called Deconstruction Reconstruction.

 "Every act of creation is first an act of destruction" - Pablo Picasso

The creation of something new and different, something not yet seen, demands the destruction of the old and typical. This series was created from exactly this concept. Born from frustration and chaos, then reborn into order and beauty. I find hope in the idea that something can be destroyed and recreated to tell a whole new story. This concept drove me to reconstruct life from the chaotic leavings of deconstruction. Each image you see is a micro sculpture which was then photographed with a macro lense to preseve the verdant nature of the living pieces
— DS

Click here to visit Debbie's Website! 

Fates and Furies

You may have seen copies of Fates and Furies on the featured shelf at your local bookseller. You are probably familiar with the bold white letters and the roiling waves on the cover. You have probably never heard of Lauren Groff in spite of the fact that Fates and Furies was named book of the year by both Amazon and Barack Obama. But no matter your familiarity, you are doing yourself a major disservice by not reading this book.

Fates and Furies is, at its core, a love story. It is not erotica, though parts of it are erotic. It is not Jane Austen, though parts of it are feminist. It is not Nicholas Sparks, though parts of it are beautiful and touching. The love story that this novel presents is one that is entirely its own, as Groff presents an astoundingly complete portrait of the marriage between Mathilde and Lotto by piecing their unique perspectives together to form a greater picture.

While the marriage between the two main characters permeates every aspect of the narrative, the story touches on many other themes as well including jealousy, loneliness, forgiveness, and grief. Simmering below the surface of this grand love story is a tangled web of relationships that explore a piece of the greater human condition.

The novel is broken into two parts, the first showing things from Lotto's perspective and then the second showing things from Mathilde's. Mysteries in the first part become clear chains of events in the second, as each of the main character's pasts are expanded and expounded on. There is one revelation toward the end of the book that serves as a punch to the gut, though this is not the kind of story that leans on a big twist to prop up a lackluster narrative. Rather, the plot is a character-driven emotional buildup that is fueled by the reader's need to unravel these characters and understand what makes them so.

Even beyond the fleshed-out cast of characters, Groff's writing is magnificent. Her lines of description are pure poetry. Somehow, she was able to make expert artistry accessible to the layman, as the text reads as smooth as butter and is easily digestible. She also includes the added novelty of bracketed asides and comments from an omniscient speaker to shed additional truth on a passage.

Basically, Fates and Furies is a fantastic read because of the richness in character and language that the author brought to her work. Anyone who is a fan of other modern epics like Middlesex or The World According to Garp would find a new favorite in Fates and Furies. If you're looking for something to read this summer, Fates and Furies is highly recommended.

Taylor Reviews: The Discovery

Taylor Raj is back, baby, and this time he's reviewing the Netflix exclusive, The Discovery, starring Jason Segal and Rooney Mara.

The Discovery is a Netflix original drama (3/31/17) which focuses on a neurologist, Will Harber, (Jason Segal) traveling home to visit his estranged father, in a world where the afterlife has irrefutably been proven to exist.

The very first scene drops the viewer six months after the titular Discovery has already been made public. The renowned scientist who made the findings (and Will’s Father) Thomas Harber is being interviewed by a newscaster regarding the millions upon millions of people who have taken their own life to preemptively get to the afterlife. The scene is abruptly concluded when a member of the film staff takes his own life on live television, kickstarting Thomas towards going into reclusion and continuing his research. All in all, it’s an extremely well written, believably acted, and cohesively edited first seven minutes.

Unfortunately, the superior level of quality does not last through the remainder of the movie. The very next scene finds the viewer hastily introduced to Isla (Rooney Mara), in a meeting with Will that draws large parallels to the beginning scene of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Isla is a strange bastardization of the “manic pixie dream girl” trope – instead of a whimsical, and unnaturally quirky ball of light who can’t be contained, Isla is instead a depressing show of flat affect and monotoned musings. Isla only exists as a one-dimensional character who’s only purpose is to show Will the error of his ways, the harm of blanket skepticism, and to exist as an object to take care of.  It’s painful watching these two fall in love: the characters are written to be too socially awkward and clinically depressed, and they share only a handful of extremely stilted lines before deciding they’re an item – all within a very small window of time. The relationship doesn’t feel natural, it doesn’t feel convincing, and it doesn’t allow the viewer to invest in anything that is going on on-screen throughout the middle 80% of the movie.

There’s no help from the story beats to mask the character’s misgivings either - it struggles to find it’s tone, often wildly oscillating between the straight-faced maudlin and tongue-in-cheek humor. One scene finds a normally friendly leader giving an extremely tense monologue to a group of his followers for a daunting stretch of three minutes while a previous scene had two characters cracking jokes while literally stealing a stranger’s body from a morgue – an action that in no way suits the protagonist's character in any way. Technical mistakes also run rampant – one scene finds Rooney Mara’s line dubbed in post while her mouth is completely still. Another has the main character breaking into a keypad-secured room, while the rest of the cast is completely unable to enter for sake of not interrupting the plot.

Luckily, the ending of the movie picks up a few of the blatant story notes the film has spent the previous hour and a half beating the ignorant viewer over the head with and twists them into compelling thought exercises. While it is aggravating seeing the ensemble theorize and dialogue in circles around a clearly sign-posted plot points – namely where and what “the afterlife” actually is in the canon - the delivery and execution of the penultimate sequence is quite well thought out: the cuts, writing, acting, and mood finally return to the quality delivered from the initial seven minutes. Of course, the movie decides to sour the sequence by cutting to a sequence that breaks the just previously established rules of the afterlife and pulls an Inception-esque cut-to-black, but in this usage, it seems more likely that writer had no cohesive way to end the story without being completely unsatisfying or saccharine and cliché

There are shining – even glimmering – moments that bookend the beginning and ending of this movie, and it’s a shame the connective tissue is the awkward mess it ended up being. This film shines in its premise, the discussions, and the thought exercises that stem from it – but as a piece of entertainment or even just content, it flatlines.

Final Rating: 4/10

Don't Watch This Shit Episode 7: Repligator

Mick, Jesse, and Taylor watched 1996's Repligator, a piece of thrill-rotica about soldiers, sexy babes, and cheap raptor masks. There isn't anybody famous anywhere near this movie unless you count the guy who played Leatherface in the old Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which nobody does.

Tits: 13

Production Mistakes: 12

Lasers: 25

Jesse

  1. Science gadgets save the day

  2. Alligators only affect women

  3. Horrible, blatant sexism

  4. Inexplicable number of women

  5. Little plot cohesion. Scenes nearly exist in a vacuum.

Final Rating:

It's like watching the boring parts of a fetish porno.

4-point-5-shit.png

Mick:

  1. This will basically be a ripoff of alien.

  2. There will be a sex scene. It will be awkward af.

  3. There will be a "big reveal" that Dr. Goodbody is actually a repligator.

  4. There are going to be a FUCKLOAD of filming mistakes.

  5. Shitty wordplay/puns.

Final Rating:

This is the worst episode of Planet Earth I have ever seen.

Taylor:

  1. At least half of the scenes will have awkward pauses before cutting away.

  2. There is no evil doctor, just science accidents.

  3. A line akin to "yes, but at what cost" will be uttered.

  4. There will be a real world news tie-in like Bill Clinton being president

  5. There will be dude butt.

Final Rating: 

A Steve Irwin porn parody would have been more tasteful.

4-point-5-shit.png

Run the Jewels

Mick cut together a music video set to the song Close Your Eyes (And Meow to Fluff) by Run the Jewels. It is meant to serve as a stylized visualization of the lyrics using commercials, film excerpts, and news footage from both network and gonzo sources.  View it right here, right now: 

Doo-Dads - Karl Strasen

Karl's work combines the modern with the classical. Some of his pieces uses the most cutting edge technology available to bring his vision to life, while others rely on the tried and true mediums of paint or graphite. His work takes the ordinary and put it in an extraordinary light by reducing it to its most basic elements. 

Follow Karl on Instagram here!

I’ve loved art from an early age, but my work comes in fits and starts. Once a project starts to get too big, I feel overwhelmed and sweep it under the rug. In this sense, I am the king of unfinished projects. I find the futuristic space art of Robert McCall and the massive, raw landscapes of Bierstadt awe-inspiring. But the process to make such beautiful artworks was surely painstaking and more than I can handle. I’ve got a lot of sketch doo-dads at least.
My art is much smaller in size and ambition. But thematically, I connect with the idea of people and technology all being balanced with one another and with nature. Maybe this is rather idealist and simple, and maybe this isn’t present in all the images I’ve provided here as one or two are more inwardly focused. But the disc golfer, the scuba divers, and the space shit are all along those lines I think. In the future, I’d like to either depict more detailed landscapes with more subjects interacting or depict one single subject in greater detail.
Maybe Japanese woodblock prints are the answer. But for now, it’s more work and disc golf for me. Mick at Also That, thank you so much for sharing!

-KR