Wrestlemania: Is anyone excited?

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Wrestlemania 31....or Wrestlemania Play Button.

Wrestlemania 31….or Wrestlemania Play Button.

Monday night was the go-home RAW before Wrestlemania, and the crowd went wild…ly apathetic towards the evening’s proceedings.  What went wrong with this year’s WM build?  Here’s a five-point list.

1) No one likes Roman Reigns. He’s been the lucky recipient of a Willy-Wonka Golden Ticket to the top of the card, despite not being all that popular.  John Cena, while largely unloved by the Internet Wrestling Community (IWC, or “those goddamn smarks,” if you will,) is well loved by children, who buy lots of merchandise.  His place at the top of the card, while sometimes annoying, is understood.  Reigns doesn’t make any sense.  In one year, or even two, he could have been someone the audience could grow to love.  Right now, however, it’s still too close to the Shield’s glory days, and Ambrose and Rollins are both better on the mic and in the ring.

2) Too many part-timers, not enough appearances.  Come on, Undertaker.  You couldn’t show up once to accept Bray Wyatt’s challenge?  I honestly think Bray is doing a fairly good job building a match all by his lonesome, but couldn’t Taker have met him halfway?  Once?  Sting’s decidedly half-assed appearance schedule is also annoying.  Triple H doesn’t appear every week.  So this is a “main event” level feud that’s only built up some of the time.

3)Plotlines?  What? Bray and Taker are fighting over who is the “face of fear.”  What does that even mean, really?  Sting and HHH are fighting because WCW went out of business fifteen years ago or something.  Nothing feels personal.  It feels like Creative found a filmsy reason for each fight and went with it, with very little idea of how to make the fight personal.  Yes, beating the stuffing out of people is pretty much Brock Lesnar’s thing.  To him, nothing is personal, and that’s awesome.  It’s more awesome when it is personal to his opponent.  Nothing feels personal to Reigns, who elicits pretty much no emotion from the crowd.  Out of the card, only Cena vs. Rusev seems to have any kind of real, personal fight.

4) You get a match.  You get a match.  EVERYBODY GETS A MATCH….except most of the Divas. Since pretty much the entire current roster has been kept out of the top of the card, we get a ladder match of supremely talented people that could be way higher on the card, and the Battle Royal, or the miscellaneous pile of the WWE.  Cesaro’s treatment after his Battle Royal win doesn’t give me a lot of confidence in what the WWE will do with whoever wins.  So why not Zack Ryder?  These huge matches are very fun, but there isn’t much by way of storyline involved, and Creative more than likely won’t use this great opportunity to set themselves up with more storylines.

5) All of the matches they left off the table.  I am still furious with Memphis for ignoring the very good Stardust vs Goldust match at Fastlane.  With the storyline incomplete, I thought we would get a Dust Bros match at WM31, with Dusty Rhodes guest refereeing (or better yet, Dean Ambrose just doing his Dusty Rhodes impression.)  The Brie vs Nikki storyline that just got forgotten about when they turned Brie heel and elected to not follow through with the sister vs sister storyline.  Ambrose and Seth Rollins?  Probably not still thrilled with one another, probably Ambrose should keep trying to ruin Rollins’s life, you know, for funsies.  Hopefully, we’ll get some of these for Summerslam?

One- Shot Wednesday: Heil, Honey, I’m Home

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One-Shot Wednesday tackles a show that was canceled after one season, with many of the featured shows being canceled after one episode.  Some had hints of greatness.  Some, as you will read, did not.

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It’s a domestic sitcom.  But with Hitler.

I expected any number of things from this show, canceled after only one episode.  I expected it to be offensive, subversive, maybe clever.  What I didn’t expect was boring.  The 25 minute program barely held my attention, with me drifting off to pack another box twice.  It literally ends in a conga line involving Neville Chamberlain.

Upon its 1990 release, the show was incredibly controversial, and the outcry caused its early cancellation.  I love controversial and banned entertainment, and I’m not easily offended.  I had to bite.  Expectations were high for this legendary flop.

The plotline is a sitcom standby- Neighbor A (in this case Hitler and Eva Braun) tries to conceal an important dinner guest (Neville Chamberlain) from Neighbor B (the Jewish Goldensteins.)  Obviously, the Goldensteins find out because Braun slips up and tells them, and attend the dinner, and Hitler needs to make them leave before Chamberlain turns up.  Also, Rosa Goldenstein wants to set Chamberlain up with her niece, Ruth.  None of this is done tastefully or creatively, or even all that well.

For instance, none of the characters make any sense.  Hitler and Braun are pretty much the standard “sitcom” couple, with her being a loudmouth with no discretion, and him being a bumbling idiot.  The Goldensteins don’t fare much better, with Rosa feeling like a dollar-store-brand Ethel Mertz, and Arny not being memorable at all.  Instead of placing a slightly more realistic but still cartoonish version of real people into these mundane events, they just slapped a moustache on a random actor and got to it.

Heil, Honey, I’m Home! fails on every conceivable level.  Mel Brooks did Nazi satire earlier and better in the Springtime for Hitler sequence of The Producers.  Sitcom parodies have been done to death, most recently with Adult Swim’s deeply unsettling Too Many Cooks. It doesn’t even succeed in being shocking or offensive, because it’s not smart enough to be either of those things.

When researching the show, I found that the producers intended the show to come off silly and corny, as it was supposed to be a send-up of the American sitcom and of German appeasement.  What results is a nearly unwatchable mess.  I have seen some of the worst films of all time.   I would rather watch Movie 43 again than watch this garbage.

If you hate yourself, the video is available in its entirety on YouTube.  Don’t watch it.  It’s 25 minutes of your life you can’t get back.

Pretty Nerdy Party Planning: Community

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Just like that, we’re off hiatus!

This week, something near and dear to my heart returns- The Greendale Seven Six Four + Chang are back TOMORROW with a new season.  This little sitcom that could deserves to be brought in in style, and you know what that means?

VIEWING PARTY.

 

Drinks:
We’re going to take from the season two episode Mixology Certification

  • Seven and Seven (even if it’s a high school girls’ drink)
  • Screwdrivers (for Annie)
  • Root beer (again, for Annie)
  • Make a punch, and then serve it with this ice cube in the center

Food:

  • A tray from Subway- always appropriate
  • Chicken fingers, from season one’s excellent mafia episode.
  • Order pizza.  Try to figure out who should answer the door.

Desserts:

  • Colorful cake pops for all of your paintball needs
  • Shirley’s brownies, of course!
  • Try varying brownies for different characters.  No-pudge brownies for weight-conscious Jeff, vegan brownies for Britta, disgustingly rich brownies for Pierce, etc.
  • Cookies and Cream “Puppy Chow,” for Dean Pelton’s love of Dalmatians

Decor:

  • Turn your living room into the Greendale cafeteria with banners
  • Recreate posters from famous episodes
  • Make a flag out of Greendale’s famous logo.

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Dress:

  • Please don’t dress as a Human Being.  You will scare your guests.

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Alternately, throw this entire thing out and throw a Pulp Fiction themed party in honor of Abed.

 

Temporary Hiatus

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Hello, everyone!

I know we’ve been pretty quiet around these parts lately.  I promise, you’re not forgotten.  However, Laura’s moving, so we’re on hiatus until Monday, when we go back to Greendale for a Community theme party that will please all of the Human Beings on your guest list.

Rock on, and take care!

Laura

Pretty Nerdy Things Managing Editor.

Leonard Nimoy (1931-2015)

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Today’s Agents of SHIELD party post has been rescheduled, because I can’t post a party today.  About twenty minutes ago, I received confirmation that Leonard Nimoy had passed away.  I would never call myself a Trekkie- it’s not my favorite franchise, though I do enjoy it.  However, Mr. Nimoy’s death has affected me, more than I assumed it would.

In early 2014, Mr. Nimoy offered to adopt us all as his honorary grandchildren.  Like the lost children so many of us are, we eagerly agreed, adopting him as well.  Maybe that’s why we, as the nerd community, are taking this so hard.  Losing an actor is not difficult.  Losing a man, even if we did not know him well, who was kind and generous to his fans and his friends- that’s much harder.

I dislike saying rest in peace, because I find it trite and peculiar.  I have no other words but thanks for Mister Nimoy.  Thank you for your kindness, your warmth, and your love.

That is where you truly prosper.

 

How to: End a Sitcom Gracefully: Parks and Recreation Edition

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Friends, Parks and Recreation ended last night.  This warm, hilarious show about small government and public servants who actually serve went out not with a bang- but with a sweet, nostalgic fizz not unlike The Colbert Report’s excellent finale last December.

The year, I remind you, is 2017.  On Leslie Knope’s last day of work in the titular department, a man comes in to request a swingset be fixed.  That’s it.  Nothing life changing.  As she exchanges heartfelt words with each member of the main cast, the camera freezes on each gesture and tells us what became of Tom, Donna, Jean Ralphio, Andy and April, Garry/Jerry, Ron, and of course, Ben and Leslie.  I might have liked to see more of what became of Ann and Chris, but what we did see was wonderful.  The small story about one broken swing exists solely as a plot device for the clip-show style of the rest of the episode, but seldom does that device work so well as it did last night.

The endings for the characters never denied who they were, and rewarded their virtues without making them pay too dearly for their flaws.  Garry’s ending, even with a misspelled tombstone, was heartwarming.  A dear, optimistic man dying on his hundredth birthday, surrounded by the people he loved, who clearly loved him dearly.  Tom’s resourceful nature and neverending tenacity are rewarded, even when fate deals him a bad hand.  April and Andy grow up without maturing, as baby Jack’s incredibly long full name implies.  Everyone evolves but never changes.

Parks and Recreation was wry, but never cynical.  In a world of Breaking Bads and Game of Thrones, a world where even in comedies like The Big Bang Theory and Two and a Half Men rely on insulting and undermining each other, Parks dared to be kind.  It dared to be gentle and sweet and believe that people could really be good to each other.  Instead of finding the humor in nastiness, it found the humor in love and devotion.  We laughed with them, not at them- except maybe for Garry.

By the time Leslie Knope said her last line: “I’m ready,” I was, too.  I loved Parks and Recreation, and I’m happy it got to go out on its own terms.  NBC didn’t do the show justice cramming all of its episodes into a few weeks, but I’m grateful we got this last season to say farewell.  For me, two words started the waterworks:  “Ann’s here.”  The sheer joy and emotion in Poehler’s voice sold the moment, and I was happy to see all of these wonderful people together in one place one last time, too.
How I Met Your Mother writers, take note: This is how a sitcom finale is done.  Realistic, cathartic, and respectful of the characters, their world, and the fans.  I leave you with one of the most basic moments of Parks and Recreation, celebrating unity and mini horses.

http://youtu.be/_NbBGrBxRhs

Pretty Nerdy Party: Agent Carter

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Next week, we lose the Marvel limited run series Agent Carter for an entire year!  So let’s see her out in style with a true 1940s-themed party, like one post-war Peggy might have attended herself.  We’re going to fudge the timeline a little bit, because 1950s food, frankly, is not that appealing.  You don’t want to eat aspic, do you?

Food Notes:

  • Rationing was in full force around the time Captain America takes place, and some authentic 40s food does the trick nicely.
  • Additionally, cheese and butter were rationed, so this is the perfect menu to give your body a break from all of those Valentine’s Day treats. (Don’t worry, delightfully unhealthy food will be back next Friday)

 

Appetizers:

  • Bread is the staff of life, and its lack of rationed ingredients make it a great choice for your pre-meal fare.
  •  Victory gardens were very popular, so this would be the time for your veggie tray.
  • I won’t tell if the ranch dressing isn’t authentic, but peanut butter is probably more period-appropriate.

 

Dinner:

  • Hamburgers, Meat Loaf, and meatballs were popular in the 1940s, when beef was much less expensive than chicken.
  • Hot dogs were similarly popular, even though they were at that point called frankfurters.  This also creates a nice underlying theme of Americana, proving Steve is (at that time) gone, but certainly not forgotten

 

Dessert:

  • Go ahead and bake a cake from a box.  Convenience food was just being introduced owing to the rationing of sugar, butter, and eggs.  If someone gives you any guff, tell them you’re being authentic.
  • Frost it red, white, and blue, and serve with ice cream for Peggy’s frozen boyfriend.

 

Drinks:

  • “At the River Club in New York, as the bartender told me, the six most popular mixed drinks are: bacardi cocktails, daiquiris, dry martinis, manhattans, old-fashioned cocktails and whisky sours. Usually, and for even a fairly large party, dry martinis, with whiskey and soda highballs, sherry, iced fruit juice and milk for the many who are on diets but who like going to parties just the same, offer something for every taste.”—Entertaining is Fun! How to be a popular hostess/Dorothy Draper [Doubleday, Doran & Company:New York] 1941 (p. 67-70)
  • The above quote was super interesting.  The links are from me.

 

Decor:

  • Bowls of M&Ms and Tootsie Rolls can be placed strategically around the room for pre-meal snacking, since both were introduced as a way to heat proof chocolate for Allied soliders!
  • Propaganda posters like this one could be a nice touch.

Woman Crush Wednesday: Six Ladies of SNL that Inspire

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Welcome to the queendom.

 

SNL40 aired on Sunday night, and I was personally reminded of why I do what I do.  Women have had a tough road in comedy- John Belushi famously sabotaged sketches by female writers, claiming women weren’t funny.  Obviously, we are, and I wanted to take this week’s Wednesday column (One-Shot Wednesday will run next week, I swear) to honor six of the women that have blazed the trails for all of us.  This is not a comprehensive list of every woman who is SNL legend, but these are six women whose example we all follow or hope to follow as females, comedians/comediennes, and smart girls.

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Jane Curtin- “It used to be I was the only pretty blonde reading the fake news- now there’s a whole network of them!”  The second anchor ever for Weekend Update and the first woman, Jane’s deadpan delivery and ability to play straight against living cartoon characters Chevy Chase, John Belushi, and Dan Aykroyd made her an invaluable member of the Not-Ready-For-Prime-Time Players.  Curtin is still with us, and is sassy to this very day.

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Gilda Radner- Where Jane Curtin played straight, Gilda Radner was broad.  The first player cast, Radner was honored on SNL40 by Emma Stone’s impression of her Roseanne Rosannadanna character, though I personally favor her as nerdy Lisa Loopner.  Like Jane Curtin, Radner abstained from the drugs than ran rampant throughout the original cast.  Unfortunately, we lost Radner far too soon to ovarian cancer in 1989. However, as long as Barbara Walters (Baba Wawa) lives, Gilda does, too.

I love everything in this picture.

I love everything in this picture.

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Simply put, Fey is iconic.  She made smart girls cool and mean girls funny.  Amy Poehler went on to create one of the warmest, funniest television shows of recent times.  Fey was the first woman to be named head writer for SNL, and Poehler is the first woman to be nominated for an Emmy for acting in SNL.  Their tenure hosting Weekend Update is widely considered to be among the best runs the segment has ever known.  Bitch will always be the new black, and bitches get stuff done.  Poehler’s Hillary Clinton and Fey’s Sarah Palin were at odds, incredibly funny, and spot-on.  I considered listing them separately, but they belong together. Never before has the power of female friendship been so palpable, honest, and inspiring in comedy, where women tend to be pitted against one another.

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Cheri Oteri- What do you call the woman who can hold her own with Will Ferrell on the regular, playing instantly recognizable cheerleaders or idiotic talk-show hosts?  Well, you call her Cheri Oteri.  She didn’t blaze trails like Curtin, Radner, Fey, or Poehler, but she held her own with the boys, able to be just as funny and cartoonish as Ferrell.  Unfortunately, Oteri was not able to feature in SNL40, as she was unable to confirm her attendance until the last minute.  There was no time to rehearse for her.  We just can’t “simmer down now” when it comes to talking about this madly talented woman.

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Maya Rudolph- Kristen Wiig might be more popular, but I had to choose Rudolph for our last spot.  Rudolph is a chameleon, imitating countless celebrities during her tenure on the show.  Her sleepy, sloshed Donnatella Versace and gutsy, uncanny Beyonce earned her place in our hearts and in the show’s history.  Rudolph might not have as many legendary characters, but there was certainly room for the gifted impressionist here.

 

There are many, many more women in SNL history, and I can’t wait to see what Vanessa Bayer, Aidy Bryant, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Sasheer Zamata, and Cecily Strong will offer as their legacy- keep being legendary, ladies.

Pretty Nerdy Party: The Princess Bride

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Twoooo love.

I know last week, we threw a little Valentine’s Day shindig, but let’s keep the love going and throw a pretty nerdy party for everyone’s favorite kissing book: The Princess Bride.   Some cocktails, some fun themed food, and a good movie: what else could you ask for on Galentine’s Day?

 

Drinks:

  • Buy some Kraken (Or comparable black rum) for the Dread Pirate Roberts and mix it with whatever you have on hand.
  • The Double Honey is sweet, beautiful, and golden, like our Buttercup- but with a little punch from the tequila to make it strong enough to stand up to Humperdinck.
  • The French Peach is also a good Buttercup cocktail if you’re not into honey or lavender.
  • Brandy for Inigo, obviously.’
  • Iocane powder is tasteless and dissolves instantly, but labeled powdered drink mixes could be a nice offering for guests hoping for something a little less alcoholic.

Appetizers:

  • Buy a few eel rolls at your local sushi place for the Screaming Eels
  • Serve chips and your favorite accompaniment in a deep bowl, with a sign marking it: THE DIPS OF INSANITY
  • Peanuts and Peanut butter, for Fezzik’s infamous line.
  • Meat skewers for some freshly stabbed Rodents of Unusual Size (but only if you think they exist)

Food:

  • When the Alamo Drafthouse did this, they actually made an MLT.  Mutton is a little expensive and hard to come by, but if you can pull this off, go for it.
  • Serve chicken fries in groups of six for Count Rugen’s six fingers
  • Serve cornish hens, so everyone can feel like Fezzik eating miniature food!
  • Chicken noodle soup for poor sick Fred Savage.

 

Dessert:

  • Chocolates or chocolate cake pops, whether homemade or store-bought, can be made into serviceable resurrection pills
  • Pixie Sticks for makeshift iocane powder

 

Dress:

  • All in black, obviously.  And wear a mask- they’re terribly comfortable, and everyone will be wearing them in the future

Who on Earth is Dazzler

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A promininent member of the upcoming A-Force, Dazzler is scorned by many and loved by few.  Fortunately, I love Dazzler, so you guys have to listen to me talk about her.

Real Name: Alison Blaire

First Appearance: Uncanny X-Men #130 (February 1980)

Affiliations: Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, X-Men, Avengers, West Coast Avengers,

Notable Non-Comic Appearances:

  • Dazzler is almost definitely best known for appearing in the X-Men arcade game in 1992.
  • Time Magazine called her one of Marvel’s 10 oddest characters
  • Dazzler appeared in the Dark Pheonix arc of the 1990s X-Men cartoon

Powers:  Alison is a walking, talking party.  Sound conversion to energy beams, light projection, strobe lights, lasers, energy manipulation, and immunity to light and sound.  She’s the hero you want DJing your wedding.

Pre-Superhero Bio: Raised by a father intolerant of her creative dreams, Alison wanted to become a singer.  She pursues this after her graduation, using her powers to make herself into a star.  Eventually, her “technological secret” was out, and both the X-Men and the Hellfire club pursued her.  As a result, several of her performances were destroyed by everyone from Doctor Doom to the Incredible Hulk.  She turned down both numerous times before eventually joining the X-Men once her cover was blown and her career was ruined.

Notable Series and Plotlines:

  • X-Men: Battle Of The Atom (Dazzler is the first mutant president.  Awesome until she is promptly assassinated.  At her inauguration.)
  • Marvel Zombies vs. The Army of Darkness (Dazzler helps Ash before being destroyed by Ultron.)
  • Dazzler (1981-5)

Family Ties: Alison Blaire was raised by non-mutant folk, and in her early arcs tended to date non-mutant folk.  Her half-sister, Lois, was also a mutant, and the pair went on the lam after Lois accidentally murdered a homeless man.  Notable relationships include Warren Worthington III (Angel) and Longshot.  Close friends include Jubilee, and former bodyguards inexplicably include Deadpool.

Commentary: Often coveted and pursued, Dazzler was actually depicted as extremely powerful subduing Rogue, Mystique, and Destiny all at once.  Dazzler is a commentary on the dangers of fame, and what happens when a person becomes a public figure or even a brand.  The constant exploitation of Dazzler is tragic, and her backstory includes lots and lots of blackmail.  Starting over is also a constant theme for Alison, and her death is faked at least twice.

Dazzler rose to fame right at the end of the disco era, and sort of became a punchline when her comic eventually failed.

Dazzler as she is perhaps best remembered.

Dazzler as she is perhaps best remembered.