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Last update: 2015-04-08

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D Season 2 Episode 16 Review and After Show "Afterlife"

2015-04-08 :: g_derron@yahoo.com (Germar Derron)

After Robert Gonzalez takes action, Coulson fights to protect the future of S.H.I.E.L.D.; Skye meets an enigmatic inhuman.

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Indie Music: Slim Loris "Love and Fear"

2015-04-08 :: g_derron@yahoo.com (Germar Derron)

by Germar Derron

People say that art is subjective. Maybe that's true. It doesn't work that way for me. I have a comedy writing partner. She rarely laughs at my jokes and sketches. I rarely laugh at things she finds funny. Even though we respond differently, I always see the humor and value in her comedy. We come from very different backgrounds. She writes straightedge, corny, punchline-driven, rim-shot worthy jokes. I'll never laugh at that, but I'll peddle it to the appropriate audiences all day. And that's how I feel about Slim Loris.

I will likely never listen to any track from Love and Fear, after I finish this review (well maybe "Down"), but I can't really say anything bad about it. The overall sound of the album is polished--it's professionally soft. It feels like the guitar strings and drum skins are covered in some sort of sonic felt. It's pleasing. This feeling connects each track, so that the album plays cohesively. I can't say the same for most indie projects that I review. Plus, fortunately, here that soft cohesiveness doesn't lead to monotony. 

The album does seem legit--not contrived. I imagine that the band doesn't spend a lot of time determining what they should be, or who they should sound like. Maybe they do, but it's not obvious to me. Of course, only independent artists could ever pull this off. I don't know what the major label version of Slim Loris might be, but oddly I'd probably like that . . . .  

The vocals could be called "all over the place," but never "awful." I prefer what they do vocally on "Sparkling Sun"--a touch of Dave Grohl.  And the strong and eccentric vocals on "Down" make it an obvious lead single. 

Though, I'm not a fan, I know that the album deserves a 3.5 of 5 stars.

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Fearless Flap with Erin McKelle--Episode 3

2015-04-07 :: g_derron@yahoo.com (Germar Derron)

John-John Cabibihan, In episode three, of a new series, Erin McKelle talks to writer--and all around awesome person--Allison Epstein. They discuss prosthetic penises, Gone Girl, 50 Shades, Harry Potter, Ohio State's total domination of Michigan, and post-college real world adult life. This may be the best podcast yet on earth planet.

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Batman v. Robin, Super Mario, and Black Bruce Wayne

2015-04-06 :: g_derron@yahoo.com (Germar Derron)

In Episode 198, Germar covers the new Batman vs. Robin animated film, and the Super Mario series. But first, don't call Germar creative, but do call him the best option. Oh, hey racist, tell me again why we can't have a black Bruce Wayne, or an Asian-American Clark Kent, or a Hispanic Peter Parker?

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The Insurgent Flarrow

2015-04-03 :: g_derron@yahoo.com (Germar Derron)

Episode 197 is the sloppiest D.S.E. (Daddy Soda Edition) yet! Germar covers the Divergent sequel--Insurgent, and the latest episodes of The Flash and Arrow. Try to enjoy.

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Indie Film: We Want Some

2015-04-01 :: g_derron@yahoo.com (Germar Derron)

by Kelsey Barritt, Writing Intern

Writer-Director, Tamir MostafaWhen ordinary relationship issues are put under a spotlight, extreme measures might be taken. This happens in We Want Some, a film written and directed by Tamir Mostafa and produced by Germar Derron. This unique account of a very common relationship debate offers a comedic and exaggerated point of view, while also addressing real issues. Recently, I interviewed the producer. Here, he gives a great amount of insight into the making of this one of a kind film.

The premise of We Want Some branches from an ever-hot topic between couples: sex. When Rob’s (Rich Finley) wife denies him sex for three months, he literally goes on strike outside of his home—picket signs and all. The community soon becomes involved in his business, and this hidden debate is put under a microscope. Derron, who got involved in the film through a creative networking site, laughed out loud several times reading the script, appreciating its intense take on such genuine issues.
When asked about such an extreme premise, Derron makes the argument that the basis for this film is not that extreme at all. He says that long-term couples often lose interest in sex, and don’t even quite realize why. The joy of it simply disappears and it becomes more of an obligation than romance or intimacy. While the measures this character, and eventually his neighbors, take may be extreme, the problems are very real.
This comedic cast is not only unique in talent, but also in just about everything else. Both Mostafa and Derron take pride in their diverse cast of 36 people. Rather than using young, typical model-types, Derron and Mostafa went with authentic people of all ages. Derron says that the diversity actually occurred somewhat naturally, making the film more realistic. Of course, any decision like this also has its challenges. While diversity among the cast was essential, it is a movie about couples, after all. One challenge of so many different cast members was being able to pair people off as believable couples. The size of the cast became a bit of an issue as well. Derron mentions that consistency was difficult, and that the cast changed quite a bit from the first round of auditions through the final wrap on production.

When it comes to the overall production, Derron believes the film actually exceeded expectations, which is rare. As producer, he focused on getting the cast and crew through all of the bumps in the road, and they got through them gracefully. He made sure to mention how the comedic talent and improv skills of the cast added quality to the movie. Derron shares that cast members often offered ideas, including personality traits, actions, and quirks for their characters.
Derron and Mostafa are both extremely pleased with the film to this point. Derron says that millennials especially will appreciate it. The movie injects a very raw humor into mature, adult issues. Anyone who enjoyed movies like The 40 Year Old Virgin or Knocked Upshould love We Want Some.
While this film is already making its creators proud, there are still ways to improve it. We Want Some is posted on Kickstarter, the popular crowd-funding website. The film itself is very low budget, and needs money for post-production costs. In order for it to look and sound professional, additional funds are necessary. Anyone can go online to kickstarter.com to help fund this project, and receive rewards for doing so. A trailer is posted online, so potential donors can get a feel for the movie. While the trailer gives viewers an idea of the film’s style, it does not represent the movie in its entirety. The film itself is far more “Hollywood” quality, and documentary-styled.
We Want Some, a fresh look into the usual sex debate, shows what happens when an entire community gets involved in someone’s most personal matters. This peek into very relatable relationships should be fascinating.

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Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D Season 2 Episode 15 Review and After Show "One Door Closes"

2015-03-31 :: g_derron@yahoo.com (Germar Derron)

War comes to Coulson’s doorstep in a way he never anticipated as shocking revelations are brought to light, and Skye struggles to control her new abilities but will soon make a decision that irrevocably changes her life.


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Walking Dead Girls and Privilege

2015-03-31 :: g_derron@yahoo.com (Germar Derron)

Gene Page/AMCIn Episode 196, Germar provides the best ever Walking Dead related verbosity. Then, he wraps up the wrap up of the fourth season of HBO's Girls. But first, some crazy lady sat with a woman and her child and got spat on and beat down. What was that all about and who was at fault? You are--you're at fault.

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Indie Music: bitter's kiss

2015-03-30 :: g_derron@yahoo.com (Germar Derron)

by Germar Derron

bitter's kiss is the project I always wanted to produce. I apologize for making each music review about me. It's hard to not feel attached to these artists, when I worked the indie scene as a producer, engineer, songwriter, and manager for much of my life. I applaud the time and effort, thought and hard work that goes into a project like this one. Yes, bitter's kiss is an amazing listen, but it's also a more complex project than it seems, or sounds.


Obviously, Chloe Baker's vocals drive this entire project. And though her vocals may be niche, and comparable to many other artists--that sound is flawless. I played my favorite track, "Love Won't Make You Cry," without warning, in a room filled with singers, songwriters, and musicians. In unison, they asked "what's that?" They loved it. I thought they might. I don't think she could shine brighter than she does on this track. If she can, it may be a bit too much for me--blinding.

Each track plays consistently sparse and light, while remaining whole--complete. It's a tough trick to pull off. To do that, you need more than a perfect vocal performance. The mix, production, arrangement, and performances have to be equally perfected. It's a trick that I never mastered as a producer and engineer. Regularly, I bet on the best vocal talent, recording, and treatment carrying a song or album. It never worked. The lack of a real band, rehearsals, a solid composition, and professional musicians was easily apparent. Here, it all comes together.

If there is one problem with the project, it all sounds the same.  And with that vocal and style, it would all sound the same. The “same sound” critique always reminds me of an old Coolio quote. Apparently, a record label exec once said, “this sounds like a typical Coolio album.” Coolio responded, "who am I? I'm mother------- COOLIO!" Even though bitter's kiss's songs all sound similar, each song remains distinct. They sound purposeful, consistent, non-arbitrary, and not contrived. Oh, and the lyrics work too.
bitter's kiss earned a spot in my rotation. And "Love Won't Make You Cry" will be my favorite song for awhile.

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RHOA Review and After Show Season 7 Episode 19 "Drama Detox"

2015-03-30 :: g_derron@yahoo.com (Germar Derron)

The women travel to the Philippines. Everyone is in attendance except NeNe, who has chosen to work on her upcoming role for Broadway. Phaedra opens up to Claudia. For once, there seems to be peace and positivity throughout the group...that is, until dinner time.


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The Divergent Series: Insurgent

2015-03-30 :: g_derron@yahoo.com (Germar Derron)

by Melissa Scott

For the most part, I've had my fill of the YA dystopian genre. I enjoyed it while it lasted. The Hunger Games provided a riveting “take down the government” sentiment, and the idea of a female heroine rising as savior and leader for all--coupled with gorgeous, love struck men. But that fever dwindled. When Insurgent was announced, familiarity drove my desire to see it.
I admit that Divergent surprised me; I enjoyed the story-line and found myself impressed by Shailene Woodley’s acting, especially in her first major role. Theo James proved he could act just as stunningly as he looks, and the supporting actors (Ansel Elgort and Miles Teller) worked well with Woodley. So I thought I’d at least pay tribute to the first movie’s decent showing, and give the second a fair chance. And while Insurgent once again exceeded my expectations, it was a clear step down from Divergent, and secured my indifference for the YA dystopian film.
Returning to a post-apocalyptic and rundown Chicago, Tris (Woodley), her boyfriend Four (James), her brother Caleb (Elgort), and on-again-off-again friend Peter (Teller) crash into the scene as fugitives on the run. Insurgent picks up right where Divergent left off: society’s divided into five factions (Erudite, Abnegation, Candor, Amity, and Dauntless), each representing the main virtue and value of its name. Cold and calculating, Jeanine, (Kate Winslet) reaffirmed as the factions’ leader, meets any conflict or threat to her perfectly divided system swiftly (usually death by gunfire, a recurring note of violence throughout the film). As the classic YA dystopian heroine, Tris fully embodies this threat as a Divergent—one who fits into more than one of the five factions, and thus is uninfluenced by the various serums Jeanine’s government used to control the factions.
Now, Jeanine hopes to open a mysterious box, which holds the “secret message” for society. Developed as a time capsule from the ancient faction leaders, Jeanine believes the message will confirm the evils of Divergents, and publicly condemn them. The only problem is that Jeanine needs a Divergent to open the box—and not just any Divergent. She needs one who can pass five simulation tests, one from each faction. I’ll give you three guesses who it is. (of course it’s Tris)
The rest of the movie is fairly, I mean entirely, predictable—but satisfyingly flashy and grandiose. Caleb and Peter betray Tris and Four and join up with Jeanine (they did this is the first movie, so—yeah, predictable). After a few intense flare ups between Four and his dad, and then Four and his mom (because what else would shout “young adult” without some parental conflict and disappointment), Tris and Four hideout with other fugitives, jumping from faction to faction. They work to form a plan and build up an army for a revolution against Jeanine. Meanwhile, Jeanine forces Tris to turn herself in, after killing Tris’s friends and threatening to continue the tirade. Tris undergoes the trying simulations of the box, obviously succeeds with remarkable courage and selflessness through all of them (she is the chosen one, after all), and eventually manages to open it. Despite Jeannine’s expectations, the box’s message applauds Divergents, naming them essential to the fabric of society, and urges all to venture forth “outside the walls” to a new era. That’s how Insurgent ends—literally a mass exodus of the factions running toward the outer borders of Chicago. Hurrah for the YA dystopia.
The plot of Insurgent was painfully dull, but at least the movie’s budget salvaged the audience’s attention. According to Forbes.com, about eighty-five million dollars were spent on the film, and it’s clear the money wasn't wasted. In addition to impressive and well-choreographed fight scenes, rescues, escapes, and surrenders, the movie excels in virtual reality features. Much of the movie transpires through Tris’s simulation--the post-traumatic dreams she suffers. While Time’s review deems the graphics excessive, I think they are just the right level of extreme. With a generic and frankly un-creative plot, Insurgent needed the extra bangs and whistles. Placing it second to Inception in virtual spectacle, the clashes and clatters through one virtual plane to the next made Insurgent memorable—when it otherwise would have barely scraped mediocre. 
The script was cringe-worthy (Four actually compliments Tris at the end with an embarrassing “You did it!”). But the acting helped to balance the disappointment; Woodley was strong and defiant. Her vehement cutting of her hair into a rebel pixie style could have been cheesy and laughable, but she generated respect and upheld the fiery and almost callous personality needed for a dystopian heroine. Both Elgort and Teller deliver appreciable humor. While James disappointingly shrinks from his place in Divergent as the misunderstood yet exceptional warrior, to smitten protector of Tris in Insurgent, he nevertheless seizes attention whenever he docks the scene.
Insurgent holds its own fairly well, but there’s no getting around the chronic dystopian novel/film boundaries. The special effects and acting are superb, but only manage to pull the movie out from its self-digging hole of monotony. If you want to sit back for two hours and enjoy some well-enhanced graphics, I’d recommend it—but don’t expect much more than that.

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Get Hard and Other Whites with Blacks

2015-03-29 :: g_derron@yahoo.com (Germar Derron)

In Episode 195, Germar digs into the new film Get Hard (at 19:00), starring Kevin Hart and Will Ferrell. But first, those stupid "real" articles about the reasons for black men dating white women are back on Germar's Facebook.  He addresses this topic for hopefully the last time, but probably not.

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The Nice Guy Syndrome: it's not what you think

2015-03-26 :: g_derron@yahoo.com (Germar Derron)

by Sofia Squittieri, Writing Intern
noguiltlife.comElia Kazan—film and theatre director as well as producer, writer and actor—said, “I used to spend most of my time training to be a nice guy so people would like me.” The acting community recognizes him as one of the masters of what is called “The Method.” Method actors need to have a high degree of self-knowledge and criticism. Kazan has this. When he says “I,” he means “we.” We want people to like us. I imagine everyone feels this—some much more intensely than others.
Dr. Glover—a psychotherapist who specializes in this area—states, “If I can hide my flaws and become what I think others want me to be then I will be loved, get my needs met, and have a problem-free life.” This is how he describes the “Nice Guy Syndrome”—this behavior taken to the limits. All of us, as “Nice Guys,” rarely express ourselves sincerely. We repress what we really feel so that we don’t upset the other “nice guys.” We don’t ask for what we want, or know how to say “no.” We avoid tense situations, and conflict. These behaviors live in us.  But why is this considered unhealthy behavior? “Nice Guys” forgo autonomy and agency, swallow their emotions, feelings, and even principles. This way of being promotes stress, and reduces self-esteem. Those consequences are undeniably unhealthy. 
But not everyone believes this behavior is unhealthy. Avoiding confrontation and “people-pleasing” can definitely have positive results: l000 Twitter followers, hot dates, or free drinks. And this positivity is as superficial as it sounds. It could equate to “frenemies” and no realsocial life which might fill that emptiness we feel inside.
Furthermore, dramatist Harold Pinter—Nobel-prize winner—wrote a play called A Night Out in which its main character, Albert, is an exaggerated version of Dr. Glover’s “nice guy.” I’d call him a “really nice guy.” He is repressed, and alienated by his mother, who he could under no circumstance displease. He ends up liberating all of his repressed feelings with a prostitute in her flat, nearly killing her and believing he killed his mother—his hidden and unconscious wish. As we all know, theatre—as well as film—reflects human conflict and imitates reality, to the extreme. Pleasing the other–taken to the extreme—could havefatal consequences.
In one real case, “Sarah” suffered the fatal consequences of the Nice Guy Syndrome. She worked as a lawyer in a top-tier Sydney firm. Attempting to please everyone left her drowning in her own work—as well as her colleagues’ work. “Experiencing negative feelings . . . made [her] overeat.” She gained weight. As a self-confessed people-pleaser, she underwent treatment. This testimony best illustrates and proves that Elia Kazan was right: being the “nice guy” can be harmful.
It seems contradictory that the search for a problem-free life compels us to behave this way. Psychologists say that this comportment ends up in pleasing no-one because we will never please the other, who will always demand more and more. And we’ll never satisfy ourselves because we are trying to please the other. There’s no point in acting as “the nice guy,” unless it is to achieve a particular aim in a particular moment in one’s life. But it is very difficult to say “no” and to express feelings without being afraid of the other’s response.
Lawrence Sullivan, master chief of a major petrol firm, answered to an interview about how he had achieved his success. He said that he never did anything he did not really want to, and did not think of trying to please anyone. However, the unconscious mind is more powerful than the conscious, and what we think is not always what our inner-self expresses (often the opposite). Accompanying the interview was a photograph of him. He wore an ambitious suit and his posture was clearly the result of an intensive study of his anatomy. His wearing of the suit was not a comfort decision, but an attempt to present a good image—to please the reader—strategy. This proves that no-one escapes from trying to like or please. No socialized man escapes society.
Elia Kazan put it into words, but he spoke for us. We try--hard, even when the effects are harmful to ourselves. The effort each of us makes varies. It could be represented through a continuum. This means that to a greater or lesser extent, we all care about pleasing.

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What We Do in the Shadows and Flarrow

2015-03-26 :: g_derron@yahoo.com (Germar Derron)

In Episode 194, Germar covers Facebook idiots, a new mockumentary in theaters, and the latest episodes of The Flash and Arrow. This may be the BEST. PODCAST. EVER.

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Indie Music: The True Groove All-Stars "Fully Re-Covered"

2015-03-26 :: g_derron@yahoo.com (Germar Derron)

by Germar Derron

I sense two projects here, or projects from two different periods. That considered, the album flows well. But I do strongly prefer one project to the other. "Project A" sounds more modern (though not current); it features "Relax." "Project B" features a dated sound that likely stunts the potential of the project. 
Lael SummerCovering songs is risky business. There is no right answer. If artists stick to the source, then maybe the cover was unnecessary. If artists drift too far from the original, fans won't be happy. But artists are also fans. We love to honor the music, bands, and artists that fuel us. I appreciate that the songs here are an eclectic mix and not necessarily Top 40 anthems. The featured artists, without apology, recorded their own interpretations; good.
Tomas DonckerMy only problem with the project concerns something that will make every musician groan. It's not "radio" enough. "Project B" especially sounds like the best musicians, in a serious jam session at the local bar, small amphitheater, or garage. I miss the hard compression, extreme EQ, effects, "sheen," and "polish." I believe you can hardcore crunch a track, while retaining dynamics, balance, and overall musicality. Maybe a remastered "Recovered" album is what I need. Whatever the arguments are--about genre, style, or preference--this is a sound that we've grown accustomed to for almost two decades. The talent shines, especially the instrumentalists, but this mix sounds like Stevie Wonder in the '80s. 

"Relax," featuring Heather Powell, is flawless. Glen Campbell's "Wichita Lineman," featuring Kevin Jenkins, is a surprise gem. "What's So Funny," as covered by the Tomás Doncker Band, recalls a sitcom theme from the late '80s through early '90s. I mean that as a compliment. Those songs remain etched in our memories for a reason--they're good. So producers take note. For the next Goldberg-like show, your theme song is ready. Let's get some artists paid. "Wires" is another strong addition from my hypothetical "Project A." 

This album adds nicely to the True Groove catalog, but a bit more Hollywood sparkle would go a long way.

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Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D After Show Season 2 Episode 14

2015-03-25 :: g_derron@yahoo.com (Germar Derron)

Coulson and his team are still reeling from a shocking revelation that leaves the team fractured as they must decide what to do with one of their own. Meanwhile, Bobbi and Mack reveal their true allegiance to Hunter, while elsewhere, Ward and Agent 33 embark on a personal mission.

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Bruce Jenner and Rob Kardashian: stealing the spotlight

2015-03-24 :: g_derron@yahoo.com (Germar Derron)

by Melissa Scott

As a family that makes money explicitly from media attention, the Kardashian/ Jenner group seems to resent the spotlight at last. At least, any spotlight focused on the male members of family. This week produced some awkward skirmishes with the Kardashians—beginning with an alleged interview with usual headline-maker Kendall Jenner, and ending with a disturbing post from estranged brother Rob Kardashian.

Eagerly, the Kardashians flaunt new bleach-blonde hairstyles and post half-naked (and underage) snapshots with twenty-five year old divorcees. But apparently they’re not to keen when it comes to transgender fathers, or mentally unbalanced brothers. Kendall Jenner vehemently denied any input with Us Weekly Magazine’s interview, staging “exclusive” comments from Jenner surrounding rumors of her father’s gender transition. The interview, which is now deleted from the magazine’s website (UsMagazine.com), was revealed to have taken place backstage with Jenner after Justin Bieber’s Comedy Central Roast. The article quoted Jenner, “I love my dad. He’s always been there for me and my sisters. He’s a wonderful man. And just because he’s changing shoes now, so to speak, doesn't make him less wonderful.” Jenner apparently concluded on the subject, “I will always love my dad, whether he’s a man or a woman.”
from Eonline.com
Following the release of the interview, Jenner lashed out on Twitter. “How is it legal for someone to ‘quote’ someone and publish it if in fact you never said what was quoted,” she posted. Just to confirm that it was the magazine’s article, she later added, “Shame on Us Weekly for making up those quotes. I NEVER said those things. I never spoke to them.” Surprisingly, especially for a magazine, Us Weekly issued a public apology, retracted the statement, and deleted the article after Jenner protested. The magazine attributed the mistake to “an independent freelance journalist,” who continued to stand by the interview, and insisted the quotes were accurate. However, Us Weekly officially voiced “concerns about the veracity of this interview and the circumstances under which it was obtained.” The magazine affirmed, “We would like to retract the story entirely and have removed it from our website. We sincerely apologize to Ms. Jenner and her family.”

While an official retraction is startling—most tabloids avoid admitting blunders or transgressions, let alone delete entire articles—I can see why Us was quick to keep in good graces with Jenner. Us Weekly maintains a mutually beneficial relationship with the Kardashians, as one of the family’s preferred tabloid outlets. The reality show dynasty provides editors with “exclusive” cuts of news, and in return gets prime placement in the magazine. Clearly, Us worried that angering Jenner might harm this relationship, and brought about some heavy damage control.

The subject--Bruce Jenner’s supposed transition into a woman--is one the Kardashians have chosen firmly to evade, and it looks like Jenner’s outbursts ensure it will remain obscure. Meanwhile, the other male “outsider” of the family, Rob Kardashian, rocked social media via Instagram barely a few days after the Jenner/Us Weekly flare-up.

Rob Kardashian works to avoid the reality show limelight; he hasn't been filmed in the TV series for quite some time. Following some depression and weight gain, Kardashian chose to distance himself from the Kardashian/Jenner family. He un-followed most of his family on Twitter and Instagram, left the TV show, and even refused to make an appearance at the grand Kardashian-West wedding last May—the only member of the family not to attend. When asked about Kardashian’s aloof behavior, Khloe Kardashian shrugged, “I just feel, especially over the last year, Rob has become very introverted and has a kind of social anxiety.” She continued, “He’s definitely not at his happiest place that he once was, and I know he can get to that happy place and he will.”

If I had to guess, I’d say Kardashian hasn't quite reached that happy place yet. He alarmingly posted a picture of Rosamund Pike’s sociopathic character, Amy Dunne on Instagram, and captioned the image, “My sister Kim, the bitch from Gone Girl.” Comparing Kim Kardashian to Pike’s character, a murderous and psychotic wife, probably isn't quite the kind of publicity she’s used to enjoying or enduring.

It’s a shame that Bruce Jenner and Rob Kardashian have to be sucked in to the poisonous publicity that surrounds the women of the family. Any stir or scandal caused by Kim, Kendall, Kylie, or Kourtney is intriguing and gregarious, but the men are regarded as unbalanced or fat. Even when Jenner or Kardashian makes an effort to distance themselves from the drama of the reality show, or avoid making headlines, they still spark horrible accusations and press. Whether or not Jenner is choosing to change his gender, or Kardashian is struggling with his weight or family relationship, they chose to shun the public eye for a reason. The Kardashian girls seem to love the camera, and clearly don’t want the spotlight on their dad or brother. So please, let’s just leave the guys in peace.

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Indie Music: LOVESUCKER

2015-03-23 :: g_derron@yahoo.com (Germar Derron)

by Germar Derron
How did you learn to spell Mississippi? EM-EYE-CWOOKED LETTA CWOOKED LETTA . . . . Well, that's the hook from Loversucker's lead single "Mississippi." It's almost cheating, but it's also a formula that works. That formula made millions for Puff Daddy, Jermaine Dupri, and Kanye West. When a producer pulls something--a hook, a sample, a memory--from your childhood, and inserts that into their song, it'll be a hit every time. Instant nostalgia. But "Mississippi" ain't all picnics and sunny days either. The melody sounds pop-ish, while the lyrics remind listeners of a very troubling history, with long-lasting effects.
The vocals drive "Mississippi," and every other track on the EP. The vocal treatment, from an effects and mix standpoint, is flawless. Beyond the digital manipulations, the vocals are raw, evocative, soulful, and a perfect match for whatever genre of music this is.
Lovesucker is rock, soul, garage, and also very funky. It could be called "all over the place, but not." There's a consistency. It sounds whole and purposeful, but each song remains distinct. That connecting thread may be the production, or mastering, but it's most likely that lead vocal. 
“Mississippi” is the class of the EP, before we discuss the subject matter or music video. Slavery remains a hot and controversial topic. Tackling this subject matter in a "pop" song is likely ill-advised. And even though it's a little Django-ish and possibly problematic, personally I'm not offended. Plus, the video's hot.
Lovesucker did something wholly novel here, and it works.

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Fearless Flap with Erin McKelle--Episode 2

2015-03-23 :: g_derron@yahoo.com (Germar Derron)

In episode two, of a new series, Erin McKelle talks to the amazing Amber Ikeman. AI, as she's called in the hood, is a touring, recording, rocking musician, living in a recording studio and crowd-funding a project. Listen and learn how you too can break the mold and live your love. Plus, show producer Germar Derron has a very important message at the top of the episode.

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#ScandalAS Episode 16 "It's Good To Be Kink"

2015-03-20 :: g_derron@yahoo.com (Germar Derron)


Olivia faces off with kinky Sue about her tell-all book. Olivia ends up learning a little something from Sue and finds ways to "heal" herself. Abby learns a little something about Leo and Rosen and Huck gives us the shock of our lives!


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Georgia STATE Basketball: March Madness Edition

2015-03-20 :: g_derron@yahoo.com (Germar Derron)

AP Photo/Chris O'MearaIn Episode 193, Germar covers the best story in all of college sports because all of you missed the entire first act.  He talks about the history of basketball awesomeness at Georgia State University and this year's team. You do know that R.J. Hunter is projected first round and has won many conference and national awards right? You know that THE Ryan Harrow from that Kentucky team was the leading scorer in the conference, and didn't play in the first round? Ok, but the world famous Kevin Ware (Louisville leg) comes off of the GSU bench--everyone knows that! Curtis Washington, Shipes, Crider, Ryan Greene and everything about the best basketball team from the biggest best school that you've never heard of. …

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Indie Music: Liz Graham "Damaged"

2015-03-18 :: g_derron@yahoo.com (Germar Derron)

by Germar Derron


Maybe I'm alone, but I feel that 2000s music has no "identity." Everyone recognizes 80s music as 80s music, regardless of their age or the style of the music. Music of the 70s, 60s, and 50s sounds similarly distinctive. Music evolves. Seemingly, in the last few years of the 90s, music became an adult--stopped having growth spurts, long passed puberty (70s-90s), gained some weight and got an office job. Much like the Anne Steele album, Liz Graham's "Damaged" feels like a hot single from that late 90s through early 00s leaving for college transitional period.

Graham could be compared to many artists, especially the late-90s Lilith Fair variety. Actually, check the late-90s Lilith Fair roster and you'll find Liz Graham listed. Specifically, this song reminds me of a very specific period in the career of another Lilith Fair alumnus--Liz Phair circa 2003. It was the highly-criticized "she's gone pop" period. Personally, I loved that album. But my love affair with that sound ended in 2007. Fortunately for me, and unfortunately for music, the sound of commercial success didn't change much from 1998 to 2005. And for a surprisingly quick ten years, what should have become a classic sound, remained current. Maybe the last few years is the "Mustard on the beat" era, or the "guys and gals with laptops" era.

"Damaged" is totally fine--enjoyable--just dated.  The chorus defines chorus. The lyrics are better than most. And the vocals are fine, though distinctive in that you love them or hate them Alanis sorta way.

I hope there's an EP or album to follow. I need a larger sample to understand Liz Graham today. Regardless of what comes next, please get this track to the people who run The Walking Dead. This song has an obvious place in any of the lighter scenes of that series. …

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Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D After Show Season 2 Episode 13 "One of Us"

2015-03-18 :: g_derron@yahoo.com (Germar Derron)

Cal forms a team of super villains (including "Francis Noche," who joins us live in studio) with the hope of seeking revenge on Coulson -- and destroying S.H.I.E.L.D.; a crisis forces May to reach out to her ex-husband.


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The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

2015-03-18 :: g_derron@yahoo.com (Germar Derron)

by Kelsey Barritt, Writing Intern
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, a new Netflix original comedy, offers a very original concept, to say the least. Produced by Tina Fey and Robert Carlock and starring Ellie Kemper, the show chronicles the New York life of a hopelessly naïve woman who has literally lived under a rock.

As a child, an insane preacher kidnapped Kimmy (Kemper). Under his power, he convinced Kimmy, along with three other women, that the apocalypse occurred and they were the last five people on earth. After being under this crazy man’s spell, and kept in a small bunker for fifteen years, the hatch opens. A SWAT team member’s hand comes through the light, saving Kimmy and her cage-sisters.
After being freed, Kimmy and her co-victims do what every trauma survivor does--an interview on the Today Show. Together, they talk about future plans, one victim gets an ambush makeover, the cameras go off, and Matt Lauer pushes them out the door.
For some reason, Kimmy, who never seemed to lose her wide-eyed optimism in her 15-year prison, sees an opportunity. She could either go back to her hometown of Indiana, or have a completely fresh start, right there in New York City. What she doesn't realize is that this new world she is entering is just as bizarre and dangerous as the one she left behind. With a 1990’s frame of thinking, and an eighth grade education, Kimmy dives head first into a world of selfies, hashtags, and “phones with clocks on them.” She offers blasts from the past by saying things like “later gator” and “As if!”
Kimmy quickly finds a home and a job, which could not be more opposite. She moves in with an eccentric, hopeful actor in a run down neighborhood. But to Kimmy, this feels like a mansion. Her excitability over things like a sliding door and a window is both endearing and corky. Her roommate, Titus (Tituss Burgess) seems like a big reality shock at first, but ends up being a beautiful transition tool. Titus allows his pessimism to outweigh his love for performing until Kimmy relights his flame. Once Titus begins to follow his dream again, viewers see that he is much like Kimmy; he has big dreams with little opportunity.
Her job, on the other hand, shocks Kimmy in a much different way. A nanny for the filthy-rich Voorhes family, she does things like massage the dog and force the mom, Jaqueline (Jane Krakowski), to eat a peanut M&M. If there is one thing more peculiar than the simplicity of an underground bunker, it is the extravagance in which Jaqueline and her children live. Jane Krakowski plays a similar personality to her 30 Rock character—well-meaning but clueless. The sheer humor of her “struggles” becomes even more laughable from Kimmy’s point of view.
Often, these colorful characters seem unrealistic, but Fey and Carlock clearly do not worry about this show being relatable. For the most part, viewers watch Kimmy’s bumpy, heart-warming transition and laugh at some of the more outrageous bumps. Kimmy offers several words of wisdom that only someone kidnapped for 15 years could understand. Kemper plays this role believably, and wins viewers’ hearts by making them laugh at their own so-called problems. If Kimmy can smile constantly, the rest of the world should have no problems.
Overall, this Netflix series offers a fun, silly sitcom with an absolutely insane plot. If anything, the background story adds richness to the comedy, including absurd flashbacks. Viewers get to observe an incredibly unique point of view. They see genuine friendships form, and learn the ins and outs of the world all over again. Kimmy Schmidt charms viewers and has them pressing “next episode” until the sun goes down or comes back up.

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Pretty Little Liars: “I’m a Good Girl, I Am” recap & review

2015-03-18 :: g_derron@yahoo.com (Germar Derron)

by Melissa Parkin Photo by ABC Family.Eric McCandlessPLL starts with a bang as author Sara Shepard makes a special guest appearance. Mona’s old friend, Lesli Stone, takes the stand, and her testimony isn't particularly kind (or honest). It doesn't help that Alison’s public label as the ultimate “Mean Girl” further tarnishes her image. The only hope that she has is for someone to corroborate her whereabouts on Thanksgiving Day. Months back, at the park awaiting Cyrus’s arrival, Alison heard someone inside one of the large pipes near where she was sitting. The girls track down the lead, but it winds up being a dead-end. Mike’s eagerness to help with Alison’s case throws the Montgomery clan into hot water. It’s obvious he wants to testify, but Aria puts the kibosh on that when “A” ships a large box to their house with a huge cow tongue inside.
Aria convinces Mike to go with Ezra out to his cabin, and the boys find an unwanted guest waiting inside for the two. Caleb, the cabin-crasher, insists that Mike return to Rosewood for the sake of Hanna and Ali, but Ezra argues differently. During the spat, the youngest Montgomery exits stage left and takes the car, only to be attacked. Ezra and Caleb race after him and come across an old Pathfinder’s camp where a mysterious archer starts firing at the boys. With arrows flying through the air, they flee from the scene before coming across Mike. Having been pepper sprayed in the eyes and knocked unconscious, “A” ties Mike up and leaves him for the others to find.
Caleb and Ezra race to Detective Tanner, and relay the ordeal. Being the archetypal cop in town, Tanner simply brushes them off. Rosewood P.D.’s finest at work. Andrew continues to up the creep factor with every discussion he shares with Aria. First, he blows a gasket over Aria asking for Ezra’s help instead of his. Then, after the whole crazy target practice at the scout camp, Andrew mentions to Aria that he just so happens to be an award-winning Pathfinder . . . .
Alison DeLaurentis may be the prettiest prisoner of them all, and she’s going to be wearing a whole lot of orange--for life. Following a grueling murder trial, the verdict finally comes in, and it’s unanimous. Guilty. The Liars remain shell-shocked by the ruling, until Aria notices Detective Tanner waiting for all of the girls. Without any explanation over the charges filed against them, Spencer, Aria, and Emily get hauled off to be processed before entering the slammer.
The plot of this episode meanders here and there, but “I’m a Good Girl, I Am” is entertaining overall, even if outlandishly so. Mike’s commonsense (or lack thereof) to go venture out alone in the woods is blatant proof that the kid got what was coming to him. The mentioning of Andrew’s archery skills immediately after “Hawkeye” attacks Mike, Ezra, and Caleb was about as subtle as a brick to the small of one’s back. The whole Kendra story-line was pure time filler. We already knew Alison was framed, so Kendra’s confession wasn't for the audience’s sake. The plot-line wound up being put on a fast track to nowhere. The only good news to take away from the episode would probably be Toby’s declaration of love to Spencer. Thank the Lord! About time man. Hopefully, no one held their breath waiting for this turnaround. Geez.
Detective Tanner has to be working for the “A”-team. Someone gets attacked, and she treats it like it was a jaywalking violation. How could you be in that job position and be that useless? She’s smarter than that, and we all know it. With “A”’s identity apparently being revealed next week, it makes us wonder…who’s under the hood? Some still think Mona’s alive (I strongly agree). Some think Aria might be behind the whole debacle. Whispers still linger over Wren’s involvement. Remember, how could “A” sabotage Spencer’s Oxford interview and know the exact moment the blood vials would bleed out unless “A” was there in England? Definitely something to think about.
Pretty Little Liars - “I’m a Good Girl, I Am” Rating:  A -

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Look to the Cookie

Look to the Cookie is now the one stop shop for all things progressive pop culture. Writers from all over the country contribute opinions--backed by education, experience, and research--on current events. Germar Derron hosts the eponymous podcast. We cover all of pop culture, news, sports, and politics.

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