The SportsAlcohol.com Podast: SNL Midseason Check-In 2018

The SportsAlcohol.com crew includes a lot of regular Saturday Night Live viewers, so we’ve made it an annual tradition to get together and check in with the show at various points to see how it’s doing. We can do this because a famous space cowboy is hosting, or a famous piece of total garbage is hosting, or because that famous piece of garbage is president now and must be repeatedly addressed by the show, or, this year, because WE LOVE YOU NATALIE. So Marisa, Nathaniel, Michael, and Jesse stayed up even later than usual after the recent Natalie Portman-hosted episode of SNL to podcast about this most recent episode (the show’s last for about a month), the recent run of episodes including hosting gigs by Will Ferrell, Jessica Chastain, and Sam Rockwell, and how Season 43 has been going so far: in politics, in cast members, in sketches that only a handful of people love. If you’re a fan of the show, you’ll probably enjoy hearing us yak about what we love and hate. NOW SAY SOMETHING NICE ABOUT JAR JAR BINKS.

We are now up to SIX (6) different ways to listen to a SportsAlcohol podcast:

The SportsAlcohol.com Podcast: The Best Movies of 2017

Hopefully you’ve gone through our list of the 20 best movies of 2017, and maybe if you did, you had some questions, such as: Where was this or that movie? Did everyone like every movie on this list a near-equal amount? Is there a way I could listen to Marisa, Sara, Nathaniel, and Jesse talk about the movies of 2017 for a feature-length amount of time? Luckily, we have a podcast for that.

Nathaniel defends The Shape of Water! Sara expresses frustration with Dunkirk! Jesse compares Call Me By Your Name to Brawl in Cell Block 99! Marisa talks about watching The Florida Project with a stranger! It’s all here.

I should note that because some of these movies have been covered extensively on other podcasts, we tried to steer conversations away from some of them. Here’s a quick list of supplemental podcasts you may have missed that also feature movies from our best movies of 2017 list (you know, in case two hours isn’t enough):

T2: Trainspotting is featured on our Danny Boyle episode.
Logan Lucky is featured on our Steven Soderbergh episode.
We talk about A Ghost Story, The Beguiled and Columbus on our summer indies ’17 episode.
We talk about Lady Bird and The Meyerowitz Stories on our Baumbach/Gerwig episode.
And yes, for more Star Wars talk, there’s always an episode for that.

Anyway, check it totally out:

We are now up to SIX (6) different ways to listen to a SportsAlcohol podcast:

The Top 20 Best Movies of 2017

As Marisa will mention in an upcoming podcast, last year felt like it was about seventeen goddamn years long, but that doesn’t mean we shied away from the challenge of combing through the approximately one million 2017 releases to determine which, of this year’s many fine offerings (finer than what the year had to offer in general, for sure) constituted the 20 best movies of the year. Regular SportsAlcohol.com Film Gang Marisa, Sara, Nathaniel, and Jesse each submitted individual Top 20 lists which were aggregated into a single Top 20 which featured relatively few movies with four-for-four list support (about 25%, I believe) but plenty of movies that got two or three of us way on board (unlike past years, no single-vote wonders made the list). Now that the mechanics are out of the way, let’s get to the movies themselves. A podcast, as always, will follow.

The 20 Best Movies of 2017

Continue reading The Top 20 Best Movies of 2017

The SportsAlcohol.com Podcast: Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Do you like Star Wars? Do you like talking about Star Wars? Do you like listening to nerds talk about Star Wars? Did you like Star Wars: The Last Jedi? Did you hate Star Wars: The Last Jedi? Did you find yourself reinvigorated and more ready to talk Star Wars than ever before after watching Star Wars: The Last Jedi? Do you want to know what some avowed prequel-likers thought about Star Wars: The Last Jedi? Do you have opinions about Canto Bight? Do you have opinions about Brick? Do you have opinions about BB-8 driving a [redacted]? What about Luke Skywalker? Do you think you’re Luke Skywalker? Do you think you’re Han Solo? Do you think you’re Finn or Rey? Are you interested in what Rob and Jesse and Marisa and Sabrina thought about Star Wars: The Last Jedi even though it came out weeks ago because you’re still thinking about it yourself?

Here is a podcast about Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

We are now up to SIX (6) different ways to listen to a SportsAlcohol podcast:

The SportsAlcohol.com Podcast: Best TV of 2017

Hey, you guys watch TV, right? So do your pals at SportsAlcohol.com, so Marisa, Sara, Nathaniel, and Jesse got together for an end-of-year TV podcast where we discuss our recent Top 12 list and go beyond it, talking about shows that didn’t make the cut, and sometimes offering different opinions than those offered in our blurbs. Curious what we thought about recent episodes of Riverdale or what we loved/hated about the second season of Master of None or who loved Twin Peaks the most? This is the TV podcast for you.

We are now up to SIX (6) different ways to listen to a SportsAlcohol podcast:

The Top 12 Best TV Shows of 2017

It’s been a rough year, but there’s always television. So much television! It’s really a wonder that even a small group of SportsAlcohol.com editors and contributors — your usual pals Nathaniel, Marisa, Jesse, and Sara, plus novelist Maggie Lehrman and playwright/actual TV professional Jon Kern — was able to reach any kind of consensus over what we liked best. And in some ways, we didn’t; I’m not sure if there’s a single show mentioned on this list that all six of us have seen in full. (Maybe number three.) But it’s an eclectic and often electrifying group of shows we really love. In other words, a twelve-part miracle. Let’s get to miracle-in’ then!
Continue reading The Top 12 Best TV Shows of 2017

Halt and Catch Fire Finale Reaction, “Search” and “Ten of Swords”: I Have an Idea

Halt and Catch Fire is an interesting way to take the temperature of our current television climate. It is a very, very good show, with all of the hallmarks of a prestige cable drama, and yet it’s nobody’s favorite. Still, we’ve been covering Halt and Catch Fire since the first season, and Marisa has always found something about it that spoke to her personally, so she decided to write about the individual episodes as it heads into its final stretch. Read her reaction to the previous episode, “Goodwill?” here

Dear Haley,

Endings are hard. I know it seems like everyone is leaving.

Joe left, with nothing but his own “Dear Haley” letter to say goodbye. But then again, was Joe ever really, fully anywhere? Does he even have an essential self, or is he like a liquid that changes his shape to fit into his surroundings?

Joanie left. And sure, it feels like it was really easy for her to go. She was so confident, arguing with your mom every step of the way about how this is certainly, definitely the right decision for her. But maybe you should take a moment and think about how hard she works at making it look effortless. Maybe, if you stare hard enough, it’ll look like you’re the one who’s more sure of herself.

Continue reading Halt and Catch Fire Finale Reaction, “Search” and “Ten of Swords”: I Have an Idea

Track Marks – “Kattena Seishungeki” by Gesu no Kiwami Otome

For the impending end of 2017, some of our writers are going back and talking about beloved songs from this year, especially from artists not covered on our podcast.

Besides a handful of words, I don’t understand any lyrics from my favorite album of the year.

That album? Daruma Ringo by Gesu no Kiwami Otome. Three years ago, Brent DiCrescenzo (the writer who first turned me onto The Dismemberment Plan) sent out this very compelling (to me) tweet:

To my ears, he wasn’t wrong. Very much a j-pop act with their bright, melodic choruses, Gesu no Kiwami Otome sets themselves apart by bringing some major chops to the table. Their desire to show them off stuffs their catchy songs with noodle-y, basically prog riffs . Also, sometimes it sounds like rapping? This type of kitchen sink approach backed by virtuosic playing and honest-to-god melodies is very much my jam. I don’t what they’re saying or why their videos are so weird, but it’s probably better that way.

Daruma Ringo is their second full length, but the first you can buy on iTunes in the USA. “Kattena Seishungeki” is a single from Daruma Ringo that I quite like. Again, I have no idea what it’s about, but it shows off the whole band and I quite like it.

Track Marks: “Green Light” by Lorde

For the impending end of 2017, some of our writers are going back and talking about beloved songs from this year, especially from artists not covered on our podcast.

Sportsalcohol.com has had a complicated relationship to Lorde, to put it nicely. (“Why would a reviewer make the point of saying someone’s not a genius?”/”Well, I just don’t use that word lightly.”) But  every pop singer out there, it seems, has a way of breaking through one of our steely exteriors. This year, while Miley managed to charm Jesse, Lorde’s “Green Light” earwormed its way into my cold, rockist heart.

Which is not to say the song is perfect. Far from it. “Green Light” gets the 2017 Whiplash Award for going from one of the year’s worst lyrics to one of the best. “She thinks you love the beach, you’re such a damn liar,” stops me cold every time, and in a bad way. There’s no nice way of putting it: It’s just dumb. It’s petty. It’s something a sixth-grader would say. And the line sticks out abrasively; the beginning of the verse rhymes, and it seems like “liar” should rhyme with something for consistency, and it…just doesn’t. I don’t want to be the AABB-poetry-police, but I would’ve cut Lorde some slack if she forced that line in there to rhyme with something, but actually there’s no stylistic reason for it to exist. The next time she does a verse, it’s just two lines, not four, and they (mostly) rhyme.

But if you can get past the beach grievances, you are rewarded. “Those great whites they have big teeth, and they’ll bite you,” is actually a very clever way of talking about the dangers of little white lies. It’s the best shark lyric since “When they say great white sharks, they mean the kind with big, black cars,” in the Hold Steady’s “Banging Camp.”

I know a song is not just the sum of its lyrics, but, in the beginning, you don’t have much else besides a quiet piano buffering those words. But after the sharks are released, the song builds to a can’t-help-but-dance moment where I finally see Lorde living up to her reputation. It can’t slow down for a chorus, just a refrain: “I’m waiting for it. That green light. I want it.” (Genius.com says specifically that’s not a Gatsby reference, but, whether Lorde knows it or not, it is.) It’s meant to be shouted. You can jump up and point your finger at the singer when you hear it. Or you can just groove to it in your own little world, like the (tragically too beautiful for this world) Twitter feed @armiedancingto once illustrated.

Press play on “Green Light.” Watch this GIF. Best musical moment of 2017.

I listen to “Green Light” with my 2-year-old. The call-and-response chorus is repetitive enough that she can sing it, too. We both jump up  and down like Armie Hammer. Then she falls onto a pillow we keep on the floor and sticks her legs up in the air, and I grab them and spin her around like a break dancer. There are very few songs that bring us both the same kind of joy. I guess creating something like that does take a certain kind of genius.

Track Marks: “MICHUUL” by DUCKWRTH

For the impending end of 2017, some of our writers are going back and talking about beloved songs from this year, especially from artists not covered on our upcoming podcast.

I don’t write a lot on this website, but when I do I usually preface it by saying that I’m nostalgic for the music of my younger days. This year, though, I really tried to expand my horizons and engage with music culture like I used to. It probably says more about these times than my own intellectual curiosity that I replaced podcasts on my commute with new artists and tried to read the news less and music writing more. The bad news for me was that this was the year that trap music captured the zeitgeist. Particularly, Soundcloud and emo-influenced mumble rap has ruled the day in a way that’s about oppressive as possible in the streaming age. I’m not saying this music is bad; there is a compelling argument to be made that Young Thug and Future are the true rock stars of our time and kids churning out formulaic, minimalist jams on their laptop is more punk than anything white kids who can afford a whole bands-worth of instruments can make in 2017. These old ears aren’t feeling it, though. Pretty girls might like it, but I don’t think it’s for me.

Given this scenario, discovering an artist like DUCKWRTH is a breath of fresh air. Instead of Cash Money Records and Three Six Mafia,  his sound imagines N.E.R.D. and Outkast as having the biggest influence on hip-hop in the last two decades. DUCKWRTH cares about melody and rhymes as much as flow and swagger. He even sings and dances!

The song that turned me onto DUCKWRTH was “MICHUUL,” an ode in equal measure to both a hypothetical girlfriend and Michael Jackson. Kicking off with the sample of a child saying they want to be MJ when they grow up straight into a variation of a Pharrell four-count, “MICHUUL” clearly states its intentions from the jump. This is a party record like he used to get down to in his youth. A Neptunes-inspired beat is propelled by Triton-esque synth stabs and simple guitar riffs with some chill-sounding piano in the breakdown. Thematically, his subject matter isn’t that different from his contemporaries, but DUCKWRTH rhymes about desiring and enjoying the trappings of success as opposed to merely having them. He’s having fun and he wants you to have too. In 2017, that makes all the difference in the world.

(This clip courtesy of The Rundown With Robin Thede, which didn’t make our best of TV list but would have if Sabrina and I were voting).