Keeping Up with the Joneses

For the tenth episode of Don't Watch This Shit, Mick, Jesse, and Taylor watched Keeping Up with the Joneses, starring Zack Galifianakis, Isla Fischer, Jon Hamm, and Gal Gadot. The latest take on the suburban fish out of water genre, the boys discuss this movie about two nosy neighbors while simultaneously workshopping a screenplay about the Presidents of the United States, starring Jon Hamm.

JESSE

1. Kids largely unseen and ignored save for comic relief.

2. Joneses start off as seemingly bad guys but are later revealed to be good guys.

3. At least 1 Mexican Stand Off.

4. Zach G. does slow-mo dramatic aimed shot to save Jon Hamm/Gal Gadot.

5. At least 1 high-speed car chase, especially in a Mom car.

Bonus: Gal Gadot stabs and drinks the blood of her enemies.

Final Thoughts: More Man Hamm!

TAYLOR

1. The Joneses are going to be backstabbed by the government.

2. A car is going to explode from a bullet hit.

3. At the end, the frumpy couple will be invited to be spies, but decline.

4. Not a single gun will have recoil.

5. Jon Hamm is going to be shot in the shoulder, incapacitating him so Galifianakis has to save the day.

Bonus: Fishbowl=Keys

Final Thoughts: 

I wish this movie had Zach Braff instead.

Mick

1. The Joneses are actually good.

2. Movie hinges on physical comedy.

3. The big bads will be North Korean or Russian.

4. Plot is kicked off by something stupid and innocuous that normal person would let go.

5. Movie will attempt to make ham-fisted commentary on suburban life/spying on neighbors.

Final Thoughts: 

You'll probably see this on TV.

Richard Cory

Taylor Raj, Keith Roland, and Mick Theebs put together a visualization of the poem Richard Cory by Edwin Arlington Robinson. Taylor directed, Keith starred, and Mick narrated. Watch it right now!

Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean favored, and imperially slim.

And he was always quietly arrayed,
And he was always human when he talked;
But still he fluttered pulses when he said,
"Good-morning," and he glittered when he walked.

And he was rich—yes, richer than a king—
And admirably schooled in every grace:
In fine, we thought that he was everything
To make us wish that we were in his place.

So on we worked, and waited for the light,
And went without the meat, and cursed the bread;
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head.

NTWON: Moana

For July's Nothing to Watch on Netflix, Mick watched Moana, an animated film by Disney Animation Studios starring Auli'i Cravalho as the titular Moana and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as Maui.

Moana is a story about a Polynesian tribe, more specifically the daughter of their chief (who is not a Princess). The plot borrows heavily from Polynesian island mythology in order to add a new flair the typical Disney animated feature. The story centers mostly on Moana's journey to find herself as a young woman with big dreams of seeing the world. However, she is forbidden to see the world because her dad says so. It is only when there's a blight on her island paradise home does Moana take it upon herself to save her village.

In many ways, Moana fits the typical model of a Disney animated feature. At one point, they even hang a lampshade on the fact that Moana is pretty much a princess since she is the daughter of the chief and has an animal sidekick. However, it many other more important ways Moana flips the script on the Disney model as the story focuses more on her personal development instead of securing a main love interest. There is most certainly a happily ever after, but not in the traditional "they get married and have a lil baby" kind of way. Again, Moana is a story that primarily focuses on a young woman's self-discovery and her rapidly developing confidence in a world full of doubt. 

However, things do not stray too far from the Disney mold, as it still features several original songs. The Rock actually has a decent set of pipes on him and sings what is easily the catchiest song in the entire film. The movie's music features some heavy hitters as writers and performers, including Jemaine Clement of Flight of the Concords and Lin-Manuel Miranda of Hamilton fame. 

Moana is a fun and flighty fling that perfect for relaxing on a hot summer night. While the target audience is for children, there are still plenty of scenes and themes that keep adult audiences entertained as well. If you're a fan of other Disney animated features, you'll certainly like Moana as well. 

They Exploit - Eddy James Nardozzi

Joining us on ALSO THAT is the incredibly talented Australian photographer Eddy James Nardozzi. Eddy's work shows incredible range, as his website boasts dizzying cityscapes alongside more pensive portraiture. He also does not stray from making political statements with his work, as his series They Exploit is a critique of the capitalist system we currently live in. 

I am making a Marxist political statement regarding the way a socialist views the world. The average person accepts the world the way it is, and doesn’t give much thought towards the negative effects of the economic system. I wanted to create imagery that shows what a socialist sees and thinks when they look at the capitalist businesses and organizations around them. Seeing the truth behind an obfuscated world through the lens, a kind of building on the way John Carpenter critiqued American capitalism in his movie, They Live, and how John Nada sees the truth through the the lenses of the sunglasses he acquires. Younger people are increasingly frustrated with capitalism and its failure to deliver the goods to their generation, and I wish to help push this wave of frustration against capitalism through the medium of photography.
— EJN

Wild Nights - Wild Nights!

Mick read a poem by one his favorite poets, Emily Dickinson. This poem was subject to some controversy, as its subject matter was rather... uncouth for her time. Though it may seem tame to us, this poem scandalized people with its oblique references to "rowing in Eden".

Wild nights - Wild nights! 
Were I with thee
Wild nights should be
Our luxury! 

Futile - the winds - 
To a Heart in port - 
Done with the Compass - 
Done with the Chart! 

Rowing in Eden - 
Ah - the Sea! 
Might I but moor - tonight - 
In thee! 

Part of His DNA - Tobin Mueller

Mick Theebs had the pleasure to sit down and talk with the insanely talented and prolific Tobin Mueller, whose body of work spans a wide breadth of genres, including jazz, funk, prog, musical theater, and solo piano. Scroll down to listen to some of his music and learn a little about what drives him to create. 

Tobin (far right) at age 15 recording with his mother and brother.

MT:  How did you get your start playing music?

TM: I grew up in a musical family. I was the youngest of 4 children. All of us had to take piano lessons and learn how to play a woodwind instrument. After the Osmond Brothers came out, Mom got the idea to arrange four-part harmonies for the four of us. As a family, we sang Simon and Garfunkel tunes, Burt Bacharach, stuff like that. Plus, my mom was a jazz singer. By the time I was 14, I was accompanying her on piano.

MT: You did covers?

TM: Yes. Mom didn’t compose original music. She loved the old standards. She was an alto, so I know all of the alto harmonies to every Christmas carol, for example. I still prefer singing alto parts to singing melodies. When I grew up, harmony wasn’t just second nature to me, it was more interesting, more integral to making the song sound good than the actual melody. Even today, when I compose or arrange, I begin by choosing the harmonic style. Harmony and modal choices create the setting for me.

Tobin at the piano at 17.

MT: You have made music across a range of instruments and genres. Can you go into detail on how your style has developed through the years?

TM: My journey was not an ordinary one. I had always loved theater and wanted to be a playwright. I had written two plays that were produced before I graduated from high school. The first play I wrote, I also composed (and performed) the background music…  I ended up liking the background music better than I liked the plays. Ha! That was the first inkling that maybe I should be a composer too.

MT: So music wasn't the first thing you wanted to do?

Music was something I did every day. It was part of my DNA. It was as natural as breathing. My mother brought me up to love music first and pursue it as a career. But I wanted to be a writer. That’s what I imagined I was going to be. Theatre was a big social force when I was coming of age. I also wanted to write musicals, combine music and writing. I absolutely love West Side Story and Cabaret. They opened the door to a new kind of Broadway musical. But writing the script, designing the contours of the story,  and inventing new ways to communicate with an audience were what intrigued me the most.

Tobin's sister Toni in 1970.

MT: Everything was changing back then. What changed for you? 

TM: My sister died after a very long illness when I was 15-16 and she was 19. That changed my internal life completely. She became my main interior muse and tireless critic.  Music was a very strong interconnection between us. She was not merely a fabulous guitarist but she taught me music theory as well. Her dying wish was for me to learn how to play “River”, the Joni Mitchell song, and not just play it, but understand what Joni is doing compositionally. I embraced the complexity of Joni Mitchell’s cross-genre folk-jazz. Complexity was a theme with me. I embraced the fusion of rock and classical in progressive rock bands like YES. When I went to music composition school, I studied Stravinsky, etc. I developed a style that would eventually be identified as Post-Bop. Modal Bop without hard edges, with multi-genre influences. I called it New Age at the time, but a different kind of music developed in the 80s that ended up claiming that name.

MT: How did you become a professional musician? 

Tobin hard at work at the Factory Underground in Norwalk, CT. 

TM: Coming out of college, I got the chance to write educational musicals for children. It was something I never imagined doing, children’s music (except for my own kids), but it helped me grow, made money, became my full-time job. To present these musicals around the country, the company I was writing for (CenterStage Productions) wanted us to be able to perform the shows. So I started a performing troupe. The kids were fabulous. As the performers got older, I wrote more and more complex music. Instead of writing about classroom topics like astronomy and economics, which is what I did originally, I started writing musicals based on classic literary characters like Robin Hood and Frankenstein.  Then one day we were performing in Madison, Wisconsin, and a woman highly connected to the United Nations saw us and loved us. With her help, we performed on the floor of the United Nations in New York City.  I had asked a bunch of artistic directors from Off-Off and Off-Broadway to come see us. A few did, and one of them contracted me to begin writing music for the 13th St. Theater. A few shows were so popular, their runs were extended. That’s how my New York career began. From there, other shows were performed on several other Off-Broadway stages. Each show got bigger and more expensive, until 9/11 hit and the wheels came off. I only had one show after that. But it was a great 20-year run.

Tobin's mother, a musician herself, was a formative influence on his development as an artist.

 
MT: You are ridiculously prolific! I have a stack of CDs all with your name on it. What drives you to create so much music?

My mother’s dying words were “Make History, Not Money.” She died in 1997. She could hardly speak. Those were the only words she could get out, but I knew what she was trying to get at. She was telling me to stop writing for other people, to write what you love, to not waste time or talent. Life is short.  My philosophy is that “I have to get this other song down because I might not have that much more time.” My sister’s death had taught me about mortality early on. There’s an intensity to all things. That’s always driven me to keep creating.  I hate wasting time. My catalog of CDs include much of the music I’ve written for myself, without the pressure of producers or directors or business partners, music unconnected with my theatre career.

MT: It seems you are particularly interested in creating music in reference to other art forms. Your latest album is called Afterwords and all of the songs are meant to embody select pieces of literature.  Can you go into detail about how the process of writing a song about another piece of art works?

TM: There’s always something very visual and scene-oriented about my music. There’s a story behind each piece. Sometimes it’s a personal narrative, like a journal, sometimes it’s about a character, sometimes about an era, a time and place. In one of the songs from Afterwords,  “Learn Something”, Merlin the Magician is talking to the young Arthur. I wanted music underneath his words to reflect my father’s era of jazz because Merlin was like my father. As soon as Merlin is done talking, I break out into this post-bop stuff with the idea that learning is this thing where your mind opens. The piece is designed to illustrate the idea of learning as an exciting opening of the mind.

MT: You have worked with very diverse artists: Grammy winners Dave Brubeck, Michael Hedges, Ron Carter, Michael Hedges, and Donny McCaslin; as well as notable rock stars Jon Anderson (from Yes), Brian Welch ("Head" from Korn), and Scott Rockenfield (Queensrÿche), plus lesser known yet top notch musicians like Ken Schaphorst, Entcho Todorov, Woody Mankowski and Janet Planet. Who was your favorite?

TM: Maynard Ferguson, the famous trumpeter and band leader, was the hippest human being I have ever encountered. Jazz pianist Dave Brubeck was perhaps the kindest, had the biggest influence, a huge mentor, an amazing innovator. Saxophonist Woody Mankowski, with whom I’ve collaborated many times, was the most generous and helped me create some of my happiest music. But the legendary bassist Ron Carter, who has played on over 2200 albums during his long career, has to be my favorite. “Come In Funky”, which I did with both Woody and Ron, is my most playful album.

MT: I’m sure that you are already working on your next album. Can you tell us a little about what the future holds for your work?

TM: My health really went south around 2009. Part of it had to do with exposure to dust near ground zero at 9/11. Part of it has to do with a genetic disorder, A1AD. So I am in a race against time. I have three albums planned, all different concepts, before I can’t really play anymore. As opposed to deciding which ones I’m going to do first, I’m just going to go wherever the moment takes me. I hope to get these three albums done in the next four or five years. I want them to encapsulate my career, to complete the thirty albums that proceeded them, to speak for the whole of me.

MT: What are going to be the albums?

TM: One is going to be a double album of standards. Disk one will be dedicated to my father: uptempo jazz he loved, like “Straight, No Chaser” and “Sing Sing Sing”. Disk two will be slower, dedicated to my mother who loved ballads. I’m calling the album Standard Deviations. Then I’m going to do a whole album of quiet new solo piano compositions, titled Listening. I’ve already written the first piece for that one. If my stamina and joints hold out, I’m going to do a whole album of high energy jazz fusion, combining post-bop with prog rock keyboard stylings and funk, but using only solo piano. Prestidigitation is the working title, named after the finger magic of my Dungeons and Dragons’ wizard character, Tobryn. (I play DnD once a month with my four kids via Skype. Haha!) I’m excited about each project, looking forward to completing them in the next years at the Factory Underground Studio, my favorite area music studio. After that, I will put out a Best of Tobin Mueller box set and probably retire, although my wife tells me I will never stop. 

MT: What words of advice do you have for aspiring artists?

TM: Embrace the many aspects of yourself; don’t be put into a box. Learn something new every day. Whenever you are by yourself, find that kernel of uniqueness in yourself and those things that nourish it and helps you express it. Never lose those things only you do, or if you haven’t identified them yet, do so. It doesn’t have to be better than others. It doesn’t have to be faster, cleaner, more inventive. It just has to be something that no one else does. And always remember why it is unique: because your artistry comes not just from your technique and craft, but from the life you live. It’s the life that you live that creates unique artistry. Never divorce your life from your art.    

For an even closer look at Tobin, watch this video where he discusses his Masterworks Trilogy with Factory Underground's Marc Alan:

Fist Fight

For the 9th episode of Don't Watch This Shit, the boys are joined by ALSO THAT regular Keith Roland. The gang watched Fist Fight, starring Ice Cube and Charlie Day. In addition to discussing the movie, the boys also talked about bitchin' giant robots, solid deuces, and the market viability of a product called Fisty-Cuffs. Listen to the full podcast below! 

Felonies: 5

Drugs: 5

Ice Cube Angry Faces: 13

Jesse

1. Excessive Millennial Pandering

2. Administration Straight Up doesn't give a shit. Actually, no one does.

3. Charlie Day is trained via series of bizarre teachers and trials.

4. Fight doesn't happen, or Charlie Day immediately eats shit.

5. Christina Hendrick's character has it out for Charlie Day (Ex-Wife or Lover from another school district)

Final Thoughts:

Just make it into an Always Sunny Episode.

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Taylor

1. Ice Cube gets a job by the end.

2. There is going to be sex in the school bathrooms.

3. A gun gets fired, probably not by either main character.

4. A boxing ring gets made.

5. Tracy Morgan was a boxer and there's a flashback.

Final Thoughts:

GAMES

1.5.png

Mick

1. Celeb/cameo shout-outs

2. Multiple felonies will be committed

3. They will both end up in jail.

4. Training montage

5. Jokes will hinge on generational differences.

Final Thoughts:

This movie was a TKO. (I'm so sorry)

2.png

Keith

1. Double training montage but Charlie Day's sucks

2. The word "Fisticuffs" is mentioned.

3. Ice Cube is actually correct the entire time.

4. Ice Cube brings an ax to the fight or some other weapon.

5. There will be a ton of drug references.

Final Thoughts:

It was a solid #2. Not diarrhea. 

Off The Rails

Because the weather is so nice, Mick, Taylor, and ALSO THAT newcomer Loumarie Rodriguez went out on another urban exploration excursion taking photos. This time around, the gang found an abandoned train car off the beaten path and snapped some pictures.  

Taylor

Fleetingly Beautiful - Rob Donner

We're pleased and excited to share the photography of New York-based photographer Rob Donner. 

Photography is the art of capturing the fleetingly beautiful and preserving it for all time, whatever the subject happens to be.  I have always tried to adhere to the purity of moments and to take even the most mundane of subjects and turning it into something to be appreciated. Every day beauty happens, and photography both reveals and recalls those moments for new viewers.  That is what I find inspiring.
-RD

Click here to like Rob's Facebook page.

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.