26 February 2016

Hyphen Nation - Episode #7: Welcome To The Disney Movie Review Podcast


You take one day off and life gets in the way. So what do you do? You wait until the next opportunity presents itself and you keep the podcast train on the tracks! Enclosed within these audio walls, I question whether I'm a bad husband, I talk about Aladdin and the Little Mermaid and my differing opinions on both (Welcome to the Disney movie review podcast!), this episode's cover girl Ronda Rousey's confession to considering suicide after she lost to Holly Holm, and getting better at writing (faster) through repetition.

This episode was recorded at not just one but two Morgantown Krogers before and after a dentist appointment. Your man of the people has come back.

24 February 2016

14 Questions: 14 Questions Strike Back

14 Questions: 14 Questions Strike Back

Garbage day. Maybe one day I’ll actually get back to putting it out the night before instead of getting up at the buttcrack the day of to do it.
  1. Did any else notice how Miley brought “turnt up” to mainstream radio?
  2. Does seeing a hated NFL team’s jersey make anyone else want to curse the person wearing it out?
  3. Can we chalk Johnny Manziel up to an NFL draft bust already?
  4. What the hell is up with people sitting and reading in the graphic novel section of Barnes & Noble now?
  5. Am I the only one who hears the drums from “Don’t Be Cruel” on Austin Mahone’s “What About Love”?
  6. Did Bobby Brown or Teddy Riley get any credit RedOne?
  7. Did anyone else want the main character Piper to die by the 4th episode of Orange Is The New Black?
  8. A-Rod’s never going to go away, is he?
  9. How are there repeats of Whose Line… showing already?
  10. How boring was that NFL Hall of Fame Game Sunday?
  11. Is it me or is chain restaurant food getting worse?
  12. As usual, has summer went by too fast?
  13. Is Brain Michael Bendis bad for Marvel or the opposite?
  14. Is it really possible to hate “Blurred Lines” (If you say yes, you're a liar!)?

14 Questions: The Return Of 14 Questions

14 Questions: The Return Of 14 Questions

Back from island. Despite Matthew’s opinion that this is a stupid feature, the questions remain.
  1. What if there were no hangovers?
  2. Is Matt Lauer still the devil?
  3. J. Lo & Marc Anthony: She only did it (him) for the babies right?
  4. Did Kate Middleton just have the best birth of all time?
  5. Did you know someone sued Pepsi because they couldn’t use Pepsi Points to buy a jet?
  6. Is it me or is “Take Back The Night” a bit underwhelming compared to Justin’s earlier material this year?
  7. Did you really think they would find Zimmerman guilty?
  8. And does anyone believe that Al Sharpton gives a shit about anything other than publicity?
  9. Is Leah Remini quitting Scientology going to make her a nicer person?
  10. So the CW’s Capture is a safer rip-off of The Hunger Games correct?
  11. Who else is glad Whose Line Is It Anyway? is back?
  12. So seriously. What’s the best hip-hop album of 2013 so far?
  13. Is it me or do people who work TSA and Customs in airports enjoy being jerks?
  14. Did you know Bill Cosby released several albums featuring his singing?

14 Questions: Red, White & Hyphen

14 Questions: Red, White & Hyphen

I’m two days late. Happy birthday ‘Merica. Happy Magna Carta Holy Grail. Happy wedding to me. I give all credit to DJ Monstalung for the NBA questions.
  1. Why did TLC remake “Waterfalls”?
  2. And did they really hate Left Eye as much as she used to claim?
  3. Did you know “Blinded By The Light” does not contain the word douche?
  4. Did you know “Blinded By The Light” was a Springsteen song originally?
  5. Anthony Bennett?
  6. Do you think Kanye should speak out against all the violence in Chicago?
  7. Pelicans?
  8. Would Dwight Howard sign with the Heat just to win rings?
  9. Is the roundabout the most exciting non-sports/non-party school related news to ever hit Morgantown, WV?
  10. How come fireworks can still make you feel like a kid?
  11. This one is from @luvelizabethany: Is the topless video girl replacing the barely clothed video girl?
  12. Why do we forgive R. Kelly and Chris Brown for their terrible decisions as soon as they decide to sing?
  13. How did America love Kevin Arnold so much on The Wonder Years when he was such a dick?
  14. Do people only remember if the music and food was good from a wedding?

14 Questions: Magneto Was Right

14 Questions: Magneto Was Right

None of these questions have to do with Magneto. I was just looking at how awesome Cyclops has become in the comics since he murked out good ol’ Chuck. I’m telling you, Scott Summers has been gold since Grant Morrison got a hold of him.
  1. Is En Vogue’s “Free Your Mind” one of the scariest empowerment songs ever?
  2. Did anyone think Wyclef would fall off as bad as he has after he released The Carnival?
  3. Was that the most subdued NBA Championship win of all-time last Thursday?
  4. Did anyone else waste their Sunday watching Catfish?
  5. Was seeing a cow split in half by a giant dome on everyone else’s bucket list?
  6. When did Alicia Keys fall off?
  7. We’re never getting anymore music from any of The Diplomats are we?
  8. Will Dave Chappelle update his juror skit to include Aaron Hernandez now?
  9. Does anyone else wish Carrie Bradshaw was real and Sarah Jessica Parker was a character?
  10. Would a lady who’s having an affair with a pastor be referred to as a pastoress?
  11. Are Jolly Ranchers the greatest candy of all-time?
  12. How does one maintain the right balance of smartass-ed-ness?
  13. Seriously, why does no one else believe there will a Cat-pocalypse?
  14. Why does losing a co-worker sometimes feel like a death in the family?

14 Questions: And a Yeezus Saved Them All

14 Questions: And a Yeezus Saved Them All

Heard Yeezus yesterday. In other news, most of these questions were inspired by the gym last Wednesday.
  1. Why do us men get addicted to the silliest things sometimes?
  2. Did anyone else realize Intervention had been on for 13 seasons?
  3. Is Reshma Shetty of USA’s Royal Pains underrated?
  4. Is Duck Dynasty the best “reality” show on TV?
  5. Does 2 Guns look like the best movie ever made for men of all-time?
  6. Would you rather have a joint T-Pain/Lil’ Wayne album or “Turn Down For What”?
  7. Did LeBron really need to shoot that 3 at the end of Game 4 so he could outscore Wade?
  8. Why don’t people listen to their voicemail first before calling someone back?
  9. Have you ever gotten some friends together, bought drinks, and played New Super Mario Bros. Wii?
  10. Should everyone be cheering for the Heat on Thursday now?
  11. Is everyone going to start making music like Kanye did on Yeezus?
  12. Did anyone else think we wouldn’t get new Jay-Z music until next year?
  13. Has anyone else heard about dilation in two random conversations since Saturday?
  14. Is there no feeling worse than being bombarded with questions and having no answers?

14 Questions: The Man In The Bill Murray Shirt At The Spurs Game

14 Questions: The Man In The Bill Murray Shirt At The Spurs Game

Welcome to the newest feature of the site. Just like how Vibe used to pose 20 Questions at the end of every issue, I’m seeking to pose 14 questions every Wednesday. The answers are left up to the reader. And if you really want to answer them, use the comments section.
  1. Is it safe to assume yet that LeBron’s Kryptonite is found in the entire state of Texas?
  2. Is Adam Levine really okay with Olly Murs impersonating his voice?
  3. Did Kanye plan all of this Yeezus promo this week or does J. Cole’s Born Sinner have him that worried he won’t be dropping the best album June 18th?
  4. Should I still waste money to see The Hangover Part III?
  5. How is CBS still the #1 network?
  6. Does Warner Bros. really have enough money to keep DC Comics afloat?
  7. Dammit Chris Brown, why do you continue to make such catchy songs like “Fine China”?
  8. Is anyone else ready for there to be some form of professional football on television all year round?
  9. Who else would buy a Julia Dale album of covers?
  10. Why is Donald Glover/Childish Gambino so quiet lately?
  11. Are there actually zombies in the movie adaptation of World War Z?
  12. Is anyone else anxious to hear Kelly Rowland’s Talk A Good Game?
  13. Why do white boys love Strange Music?
  14. Is Miley Cyrus smarter than everyone gives her credit for?

23 February 2016

Victory Jumpoff Radio - Show #18: Earth, Wind & Fire

Victory Jumpoff Radio - Show #18: Earth, Wind & Fire

Another legend gone. The music lives on. Rest in peace Maurice White. Clap your hands this evening, 'cause it's alright.
  1. Reasons (Live)
  2. Shining Star
  3. Boogie Wonderland
  4. Got To Get You Into My Life
  5. After The Love Is Gone
  6. Fantasy
  7. Keep Your Head To The Sky
  8. Devotion (Live)
  9. Can’t Hide Love
  10. That’s The Way Of The World
  11. On Your Face
  12. Faces
  13. September
  14. Let Me Talk
  15. Let’s Groove
  16. Magic Mind
  17. Mom
  18. Getaway
  19. Sing A Song
  20. Earth, Wind & Fire
  21. Wanna Be With You
  22. Caribou
  23. See The Light
  24. Runnin’
  25. Sun Goddess

21 February 2016

Talking Out The Dead: "No Way Out"

Talking Out The Dead: "No Way Out"

Kelen Conley: Well that escalated quickly.

I hate to start things out on that note but they really did. This episode and the first 3 episodes of Season 6 have all been contenders for greatest single episode of The Walking Dead ever. This one stands out for the amount of false finishes (look, wrestling jargon!) it had but there wasn’t a second that I wasn’t on the edge of my seat. I covered my eyes a few times because I knew what was coming and I knew it was going to be bad. And I definitely ran around my living room fist pumping when cool shit was happening. This is another one of those tent pole episodes you can show to a non-fan when they ask why you watch TWD.

19 February 2016



I’m miserable right now.

I hate to put it so bluntly but I am. It has nothing to do with my personal life. I’ll leave it at that due to what else is obviously causing the issues. I’m not writing this so I can bitch. I’m looking of some kind of release.

13 February 2016

Talking Out The Dead: "Start To Finish"

Talking Out The Dead: "Start To Finish"

Kelen Conley: This episode had a ton of things happen. While I hate that it ends on a cliffhanger, many storylines that have been plodding for the last 4 episodes get moving along in a hurry. While I’m definitely not ready to forgive the show for the atrocities it’s committed after a brilliant start, it’s a definite step into the right direction as we head into the latter part of Season 6. It also seems like a lot of the things we’ve been complaining about lately are going to get handled and a new threat is finally being introduced. A much needed change after the Wolves seemed to fizzle out, just like the Terminites in Season 5.

12 February 2016

Hyphen Nation - Episode #6: The Case of the Stale Fudge Rounds & Cherry Pop-Tarts

Hyphen Nation - Episode #6: The Case of the Stale Fudge Rounds & Cherry Pop-Tarts

So with the professional footballs officially put away for another season, it's time for Hyphen Nation to blossom into its final and best form! Or something like that. Contained within these audio walls, I discuss why the day after the Super Bowl should be some kind of national holiday, I compare my experiences with the OJ Simpson trial as a child with what I know today, the story of gas station snacks that spawned this episode's title, my eternal struggle with never being able to catch up on all the podcasts I like, and I end things with a small tribute to the retiring Daniel Bryan.

It's still snowing in Morgantown so if you live in a warm climate, I hate you. But I'd still like you to check out this episode. And pass it along like a note in class. I don't really care if the teacher sees it.

11 February 2016

Talking Out The Dead: "Heads Up"

Talking Out The Dead: "Heads Up"

Kelen Conley: There is absolutely no denying it; I am highly disappointed with this. We sat through 3 episodes, Morgan’s, the boring “Now”, and the update on Daryl, Sasha, and Abraham. We hung on the edge of our seats for this key plot point to be resolved. We speculated, some of us were crying, some of us wrote thousands of nice words about something we thought the show had lost (that would be me and you). The Walking Dead had a true shot to take the show in a brand new direction as Season 6 moved on and they couldn’t pull the trigger. We all know what not pulling the trigger can do for you, right Andrea?

10 February 2016

The Email Exchange: The Walking Dead Theory (w/ Heather Carrico)

The Email Exchange: The Walking Dead Theory (w/ Heather Carrico)
What began as an innocent few lines to Heather Carrico, who got me to start watching The Walking Dead turned into a massive email fest about what will happen in tonight’s season finale. Email gold is what follows.

Kelen Conley: Who’s gonna die on Sunday

#1 – Hershel
I just don’t see him leaving the prison, I can’t. We talked about this.
#2 – Daryl
You’re gonna hate me for this one but his character arc seems to be ending with Merle dying.
#3 – Andrea
If she somehow lives through the Governor’s torture and makes it to season 4…I don’t know what I might do.
#4 – Carol/Judith/Maggie’s sister
If Daryl or Judith go then Carol can’t be far behind. The only way I see singing sister living is if she leaves before the battle starts.
#5 – Everyone in Tyreese’s party except Tyreese
They’ve pretty much made them expendable by not developing them much.

Who’s leaving before the war starts on Sunday

#1 – Glenn & Maggie
I wonder if Hershel will perform the ceremony and then they decide to leave together…sounds so out of character for them but I could see it. But I doubt Maggie would leave if Hershel and less hot sister decide to stay.

I also have a strong feeling that we may go into season 4 with the group being down to Rick, Carl, Tyreese, Maggie, Glenn, Michonne, and Daryl if they don’t kill him.

And the Governor’s not dying.

Heather Carrico: #1 Agree. I think he’s a goner. I’ll be really surprised if this is wrong.

#2 It’ll never effing happen. From what the internet tells me, if they kill off Daryl, about 8 million watchers of their “record-breaking viewers” show will be GONE if they kill Daryl. I know the writers have done some goofy stuff, but they’ll never alienate that much of their audience. NEVER.

#3 Good riddance to bad rubbish, I say. I feel like she’s served her purpose.

#4 Carol won’t go either. What I said about Daryl? Those same 8 million folks want her to hook up with Daryl. They won’t NOT give fans that at some point. I see next season, them getting together and they’ll kill her off then. As for Judith, I’m on the fence. On one hand, I see it, on the other, I can’t see them doing it because it’s a baby. And for whatever reason, it kind of ups the intensity that they have a baby to try to keep alive. Maggie’s sister, I feel like she should be a goner, but I feel like a saw somewhere that she is getting bumped up to a regular cast member. Besides, it’s only a matter of time before Carl is tapping that a**.

#5 Agreed. I think there is a slight chance that they will keep the sister around, but it’s not a very good chance. I’d say 20%.

#1 Maggie and Glenn won’t leave because there is no way in h-e-double hockey sticks that Rick and the group can win any sort of war without them. No way. Beside the fact that he is stepping up to be a little more of a leader, she’s a badass.

I really don’t think that the death count is going to be as high as last season. They had a LOT of extraneous characters on that farm. And most of the characters have been more developed this season. I do think there will be at least one “shocking” death, but I don’t think it’ll be some beloved character blood bath situation.

KC: Unless they fast forward a few years, Carl is at least 5 years away from getting that, zombie apocalypse or not.

I don’t really think they’ll kill Daryl or Carol but if we’re looking for a shocking death, I think it takes more than just Hershel. And we all know Rick is the main character, so he wouldn’t die.

I think the baby is a goner, they barely acknowledge her now, and the writer’s don’t want to deal with that. And if not Maggie sister becomes more of a regular, she needs to quit singing. It was cute when they found the prison but I’m over it. She needs to spread herself around if she wants to inspire hope.

The only reason I think Andrea makes it is because the writers like her character.

There’s no way they win the war period. The sneak peak from Talking Dead showed Woodbury busting through into the actual prison. I think the group has some form of plan (maybe they let out the walkers from other parts of the prison) but I still think Woodbury overruns them and they’re on the road again.

Maggie and Glenn is the only romantic thing they have going for the show. Everybody else is just hooking up because it’s the end of the world. I feel like making sure they stay alive to come back in season 4 would be an option. And Rick said everyone had a vote in whether they stay or go.

I think more characters die than expected but last season did have a lot of stray characters. Maybe they’re banking on Tyreese’s group being taken out as the shock they’re looking for.

HC: That kid has to be 13 or so. I, for one, know several people who lost their V-card at around that age. (Dirty, dirty degenerates!)

I think Hershel would be shocking enough, honestly. I mean, he’s the old, moral, voice of reason that Rick goes to for advice and it would destroy Maggie. Plus, he lived through getting his leg cut off under the absolute worst of circumstances.

She does need to quit singing, or at least so much. But if they kill Hershel, I bet she at least cuts back on it. I think the idea is that she does it for him. You are horrible for saying that about her.

Ugh, the writers just need someone to make really bad decisions. They can do that with anyone. SHE DOESN’T HELP ANYONE AT ALL. What’s to like?

I do think that corralling walkers is going to play into their plan. And I bet they do better than expected. I’m not sure if they’ll “win” per se, but I don’t think it’s going to be a blow-out and I bet they don’t leave for good. If David Morrissey is coming back next season as the Governor, I really don’t think it’s going to be him chasing them all over Georgia. I think he’s going to get his ass at least partially handed to him. He’ll go back to Woodbury with his tail between his legs, torture the shit out of Andrea and try to re-group. I think the point is for the group to make it look like they’ve left, but they are still there somewhere. Element of surprise and not just with walkers.

Now that I think about it, I bet they do kill Tyreese’s sister. And that’s what sets him off. And gets him with Rick’s group somehow. There’s another shocking death for you because it’ll eff Tyreese up so bad.

Also, Milton is a GONER. And honestly, I’d like to see Rick’s group bring that Martinez or whatever the Hispanic guy’s name is. Him and Daryl could be some sort of badass, zombie destroying duo. But like Legolas and Gimli from Lord of the Rings. Where it’s always a big penis measuring contest for zombie kills. Could add a little levity.


KC: (Wo)Man, I was looking at season 1 last night and Carl looked about 8, so I’d say he’s approaching 10 now…

Maybe it’s because after the Sophia (“I forgot to mention the walker kid I threw in my barn that could be the one you’re looking for”) incident, I never fully bought into Hershel. He’s a sweet man but that just wouldn’t be big enough for me.

She’ll have to, I wonder what direction they would take her though, especially since she considered opting out in season 2. Maybe she’ll cope okay at first but slowly lose her marbles in season 4 and turn on the group. That would be crazy interesting.

I don’t know (wo)man, Andrea has this annoying habit of staying alive. When she goes, it’ll be unexpected. But her remaining the Gov’s prisoner does appeal to me…

And the Gov won’t be a threat for awhile but I definitely think that if he does make it, Woodbury’s population will be decimated and he won’t be around again until end of Season 4 or Season 5. The idea of him punishing Andrea until we see him next would be awesome (just cause I hate her).

And they have to use the walkers to their advantage. One would think this whole thing started due to the government trying to weaponize dead soldiers, so the group using them for their intended purpose would be smart on their part. But they have to get out of that prison; it’s never been fully safe, even before the douchebag prisoner opened the other cell blocks.

Tyreese is definitely killing the one white guy whose wife died earlier this season, I can see it. I think his sister will take a bite or a bullet from a Woodbury person.

And Milton should be on the dead list. He would be an early kill though…unless he’s got some kind of plan that will lead to him being next season’s antagonist, but that’s a stretch.

And I love Martinez too. Been waiting on the Woodbury black guy to buy it but Martinez is a lot of fun. Couldn’t they be Vincent and Jules from Pulp Fiction though? You know I’m not a LOTR fan.

But on second thought, I really just despise the hobbit parts of those movies. Legolas and Gimli were badass.

HC: Chris seems to think Beth has the hots for Rick and is going to try to go in that direction. That’d be sick since she’s clearly a teenager and he’s a grown-ass man.

It’ll get old after a while if Andrea is just his prisoner. I mean, how much actual material can they glean from that? Now, if there was some sort of Stockholm Syndrome deal taking place and she stays, that could be potentially interesting. I’d still probably hate her though.

I think Woodbury’s population is going to be decimated. And if they’re not killed, they are going to take off. Or possibly push the Governor out? He loses his power? And it makes him really crazy? All possible and interesting avenues to explore. What if he goes off in the woods somewhere and loses his mind (even further) and plots some sort of crazy, backwood hermit revenge on everyone? There is a good way to keep him around and the group still win. And this could tie in with your whole Milton-as-leader option.

I’m not fully convinced that it was the government (or at least our government) weaponizing the dead that caused the whole thing. I’m not fully unconvinced either though. That helicopter sure makes it seem that way, but could it be a red herring? That it was caused by an outside group attempting to weaponize? Possibly a terrorist group? And our government just found out about it?

I feel like they could make the prison safe. If they got their heads out of their butts and also didn’t have to worry so much about any threat besides the walkers. It’s certainly the safest place they’ve been other than the farm. And they aren’t getting that lucky again. Although, I always told Chris that staying in a rural setting is definitely the way to go in the case of a zombie takeover.

I agree with both your points about Tyreese and his sister.

Oh, that Woodbury black guy is getting it next episode, I’m sure. He’s probably the one that’ll bite/shoot Tyreese’s sister.

Vincent and Jules didn’t have the ongoing fight about who could kill the most/kill the baddest.

Legolas and Gimli were badasses. Same for Aragorn. I also loved Eomer, but that’s partially because he was dreamy…but also a badass.

KC: Okay, okay. If you want Carl to bang other sister who will now be referred to as Beth, fine by me.

Beth has looked at Rick rather lustily a few times this season, especially since that whore wife of his croaked. If anybody comes at Rick that way though…it’s Michonne. I just have this feeling that they’ll at least hook up next season unless she gets with Tyreese.

I don’t want to see Andrea get tortured. I’d like for the Gov to leave her in the room to go fight the battle and then we don’t see her again for x amount of episodes. Her Stockholm Syndrome moment occurred when she didn’t kill him after her prison visit. She’s knows he’s insane now but I don’t know if she can legit escape him. And I’ll still hate her too.

I could see the Gov being pushed out if he’s not killed and Milton planning on taking things the original direction he and Phillip decided which was to rebuild society. There’s something not right about that boy though so his decent into madness could still be a direction possibility. Having the Gov completely stranded in the world would make for a great story as long as he’s kept away long enough for people to forget about him then BAM like Emeril.

I had completely forgotten about the helicopter until I watched episode 2 last night. I like the idea of it not being us, but I feel like America would be the dumbasses who screwed up the world. The idea of terrorists would be the most likely reason though.

Kirkman has always said he has no interest in telling the story of how everything happened but I feel like they’ll have no choice with television.

The prison would be the safest place…of boredom. Say they beat Woodbury, clean house over time, re-secure the fences and then what? You can’t have the group constantly defending the prison against all comers. They need to get out on the road, meet new people and all that jazz. And unfortunately, die.

Watching back those Atlanta episodes, cities are scary as shit when it comes to walkers. The threat level is definitely lessened in the country if you can defend your property…properly.

Vincent and Jules bitched at each other the whole movie. I’m sure they’ve had many bigger penis contests over their travels together.

I like Liv Tyler.

HC: I’m just saying, he wants it and it’s not outside the realm of possibility. I do agree that Rick and Michonne will probably get something going on. I feel like they may avoid a Tyreese/Michonne thing since they keep kind of coming under fire about race issues anyway. Maybe make some sort of “see we can do an interracial relationship, we aren’t racist” statement.

I feel like there is a decent chance of them adding more new characters next season. The group can’t just keep getting smaller or else it won’t even be a group anymore. And if they all split off too much, it’ll be way too hard to follow everyone’s story. Too expansive and no cohesion.

Hah, or if the Governor keeps her in that room, goes off to fight, something happens and he’s gone and no one knows she’s down there. You know she’d figure out a way to survive that, but it could keep her “occupied” for a while. She won’t be able to legit escape him. She had it all taken care of at that warehouse and didn’t even bother to take the time to make sure he didn’t get out and wasn’t following her. At least hide in the woods for a little bit to make sure he didn’t come out of there alive.

Well, not exactly forget about him, but just assume that he was killed in the battle and attempt to move on with their lives. Under Milton’s charge. Then he can pop out like, BOOM. All crazy and feral. And OUT FOR BLOOD. (I just said that in my head with a very dramatic voice-over voice.)

I would, just for once, like to see a zombie movie where the outbreak wasn’t caused by some sort of government conspiracy or terrorist attack. Even most of the zombie books I’ve read have been like that. One exception is World War Z. Started by the Chinese, but it was a legit infection issue. And they didn’t even know where it came from. Now, the government did cover it up and that was how it spread, but it wasn’t directly caused by them. (Don’t worry, I didn’t just spoil you for if you ever want to read that book. All that is laid out pretty early. ) But that book is awesome and turns a lot of zombie clichés on their heads.

I’m with Kirkman. I don’t think they ever do need to explicate on why/what caused the whole thing. Part of the beauty of the show is that you aren’t omnipotent. You are just as much in the dark as all the characters are. And I’m afraid the TV writers will want to change that. But the fact that Kirkman is so involved with the show may help that cause.

I’m not saying I have issue with Jules and Vincent. They are just not the “couple” I think of when I’m trying to describe the kind of interaction I would expect from Daryl and Martinez.


KC: I was watching some of season 2 last night and kept wishing they had kept T-Dog around longer. I really feel like they misused his character and they could have told some decent stories with him. I think Daryl’s overwhelming popularity put a kibosh on all of that though.

Nikki could never watch the show because all she would say to me is how bad it makes society look that when the world goes to crap, women and minorities fall into their traditional roles without any issue (Glenn and Michonne are the exceptions of course, but Maggie had to chew Glenn out for him to get it).

Richonne (see what I did there) could be fun for a bit but they would have to just be hooking up behind everyone’s backs. I can’t see them holding hands and cuddling.

I think we’ll get new characters for the group next season since we got a whole town that is ruled by a McCrazy this season. I like new characters and learning a little bit of their stories before they inevitably get killed when you don’t expect it. And they better not break up the group anymore, I forgot how many people actually rolled into the CDC together until I rewatched it. They have 9 people now so depending on who makes it through the finale, they should keep it around that number.

Now that I slept on it though, I feel like Andrea does die in the finale. But I think she’ll escape and be the one to take down the Gov or at least turn the tide somehow before she bites it. I hate her but having her stuck and tortured off camera is just mean, even for me.

But you reminded me, HOW DID SHE NOT MAKE SURE HE WAS DEAD. SHE HAD HIM, HAD HIM, HAD HIM. And she goes skipping through the meadow like a big dummy. Stupid Andrea.

If the Gov does lay low then pops back up in Miltonbury, it will be a blood bath all around. I don’t even think AMC could show all those deaths. And I just really love the way Morrissey portrays the character so I feel like they would like the option of using him again unless he has some other projects coming up.

My zombie experience is limited to Zombieland and Shaun of the Dead so that’s why I go for the obvious blame the government clichés. Hell, it could have been a crystal meth cook gone wrong that started it all. And I do like that we’re in the dark about things as well, mostly because I love a good conspiracy/cover-up. And yeah, World War Z is needed. I don’t mind minor spoilers.

Well as long as Kirkman makes sure the writers don’t start torturing the characters for fun like he does in the comic book, I’m cool with everything staying in the dark. Jenner from season 1 was probably the closest we’ll get to any concrete answers and he barely knew anything. If anything, they might reveal what happened in the last season and I’d be okay with that.

Fine, Gimli and Legolas it is.

And one other note: I was watching the Sophia episode with Angel and Carol had no rights to ever blame Rick. If she had taught her child better, Sophia would have listened to Rick clearly say: STAY HERE. What that little dummy do, as soon as Rick and the walkers went the opposite direction, she left.

She deserved what she got. And Hershel still could have mentioned there was a kid walker in the barn.

They’re both dummies.

HC: I always found T-Dog totally expendable. Like, I just didn’t care. I guess they could have maybe developed him some sort of backstory, and I may have cared just a little more, but my main issue was what he did or rather didn’t do within the group. I feel like he had no role or purpose that he served besides being the lone black man. So, even had they given him a story, would I have cared about him? I don’t know.

I feel like it’s the nature of the beast that in times of extreme crisis, folks fall into the roles that are expected of them/what they are comfortable with. When your society/civilization is down to a dozen people, you need someone to fulfill all the generalized roles. And people are likely going to fill the role that they know. Your exception in that situation is that Chris cooks and cleans anyway and has generally not much idea about guns, so our roles would likely be slightly reversed in the beginning, but frankly, he’s too proud to be in some subservient role when I was out shooting zombies all day. But in general, I think the ladies would do a lot of the stuff that their moms taught them to do and the dudes would at least try to protect them.

Richonne (yes, I saw what you did there) would not be some sort of lovey-dovey relationship. I feel like they would be the kind to be tearing each other’s clothes off and shit. Almost violent without actually being violent. And the whole thing would start during to “training” session. I can just see it now.

They almost have to add any new characters to the group at this point. It’s even worse to see how many they’ve lost if you go back to the episodes where they are at the camp. When Carol’s husband was still around and Jim and Jacqui and Amy and there was that whole Hispanic family that just went off by themselves. And I don’t really care if they added any new characters around this point in the books. They can make them up for the show. I mean, the Dixons weren’t in the book and look at how successful they’ve been with that addition. I think the problem is that viewers are going to stop caring about some tiny, piddly group. But it doesn’t need to be too big either or it’ll be hard to give everyone enough story time and they’ll be right back into a situation they’ve been in before where there are some characters that you don’t know well enough to give a shit about. (i.e. all those randoms on the farm.)

At this point, I have no real concrete theory on Andrea. I’ll just find out what happens to that one when it happens. She is a big, dumb idiot though. If I’ve learned anything from Zombieland, it’s the Double Tap. It works for more than just zombies.

First off, I love calling it Miltonbury and if that’s what happens, it will only be known as that in my world. Second of all, you may not have seen it, but in 30 Days of Night (the movie and the graphic novel) they have this AMAZING and amazingly effective shot of the vampires attacking the townspeople in such a way that you lose that up-close graphic nature of the killings, but oh, sweet Lord, do you get it. If the Governor does come back to wreak havoc on Miltonbury, they could use that effect to get their point across and still be able to air it on television.

Also, I read somewhere that Morrissey signed a contract extension, so he’s not going anywhere. They just need to find something interesting and surprising to do with him. They’re going to lose me with him if it’s just more seasons of him being all creepy and manipulative and trying to get Michonne.

You for real, need to watch some more zombie movies. I recommend at the very least the 28 movies and Dawn of the Dead-the remake. I thought Land of the Dead was pretty cool, but Chris didn’t care for it as much. What’s cool about the George Romero movies are that most of them are filmed/take place in Pittsburgh because he’s from there. Anyway, Zombieland started with a tainted burger or something, right? Also, it may turn out to be lame, but I want to see World War Z big time. If they can keep even half of the badass stuff from the book, it’ll be epic. There is one part in particular that I’m hoping makes it in.

The only way I really want to know the cause is if we find out late. And I don’t want it to be some sort of season long quest to find out what happened. I want it to be some small discovery that has huge implications and doesn’t overwhelm the entire season’s plot. I think it would have more of an effect if it was almost some throw-away “discovery.” Like they have no idea it’s coming and then BOOM, they find out. It’d knock them all off their axis a little more than if they were trying/expecting to figure it out.

KC: I think it was mostly because he’s the lone black man and they haven’t done a lot with Tyreese yet and the fact that Jacqui opted out. I’m not a super pro-black guy but I still like to see my people get fair treatment every now and again. I guess T-Dog fulfilled his purpose once he dropped the handcuff key and Tyreese will really get more screen time next season. Unless he bites it, which could be one of the shockers we were talking about.

I totally agree with the roles thing. I think it was Andrea (surprise) who was bitching about doing laundry in season 1 but the apocalypse is no time to say, “You know, I know this is the end of the world and all but I think us women deserve to be leaders too and we’re gonna stand up for ourselves” (though I could see Andrea starting that movement). I mean, I would probably be someone’s right hand, I can’t imagine myself in a leadership role, but I wouldn’t want to hide out all day either. And I’m with Chris, I don’t know jack about half of the man stuff I should know, but I can cook my ass off.

Richonne sounds like a romance novel title. But definitely all that steamy, rough stuff. And I could eventually see Carl catching them and losing his shit on his dad about it. Especially since he’s older than I thought and he’s approaching his teenage years. Angel thinks he looks about 12 as well. And he would probably freeze Michonne out and that would bother her since it looked like a bond had been formed after the episode with Morgan this season. And I could see Carl being the reason Richonne ends. I think it starts during an argument. Michonne got reckless but saved herself at the last second. Rick takes her aside to give her shit and then the “f” goes down.

I have a feeling we might encounter that Hispanic family again, probably the father. I could see him in a Morgan kind of way if walkers got his whole family and he survived it. But then again, he would probably opt out if he lost his whole family like that. And the TV characters are way better than the comic ones because in the 50 issues I read, the characters were just becoming worse and worse as they popped up. At least in the show, they try to redeem everyone at some point (see: the Merle episode). I’m definitely a fan of the big group idea as long as everyone gets a little time and it’s not the group and 5 randoms. Like for next season: Rick, Carl, Michonne, Tyreese, Daryl, Beth, Carol, perhaps Milton (if no Miltonbury), and Martinez. That leaves room for a new addition or 2 to start the season with.

The Miltonbury idea has to happen but here’s what I see for it now (unless the Gov does come back to wreck shit and I love the idea of not showing it but conveying it): Milton wants to rebuild society so he’ll find a strong partner to take care of walkers but he’ll start experimenting on them and eventually end up killing the whole population and be this lone human trapped in a “town” of walkers (Walkerbury) and somehow someone in the group helps him escape at the loss of their own life.

I’m glad Morrissey will be back somehow, hopefully it won’t be as another vision for Rick like Lori became this season. I’m trying to think of other things he could do though, other than come back and terrorize everyone. Like, he gets ousted from Woodbury, he’s out there alone, and he stumbles into an abandoned church. He manages to protect it and with nothing else to do he becomes a man on God; the Minster if you will. And when he encounters the group again he convinces them he’s changed but then he starts listening to the voice in head (that he says is the voice of God) and it tells him to kill the sinners. And then he attacks the group. Which means that whole paragraph established nothing, lol.

I’ve wanted to watch the Romero movies forever and I just keep forgetting to put them in the Netflix queue. I definitely have the remake and I’ll check that out soon though. And the 28 series is another one I just haven’t gotten around to watching. It was mad cow that started everything in Zombieland (I had to look it up) but I just can’t see that fitting TWD world. And the more you talk about World War Z, the more anxious I am to read it. And I’ll find the teaser trailer tonight.

I would really like the big reveal to be told in the very last episode but just to the viewers. Have them stumble across something that they don’t pay attention to, but it actually links back to something Jenner said in Season 1. Just slowly reveal everything through the episode but have none of the group understand it because it’s been too long. That would be cool for me. I wouldn’t like a “hunt for the answer” season either because if they find out what happened, that doesn’t bring a cure any closer. Or maybe have just one of them find out but know it’s not gonna matter to anyone else so they do some sort of time capsule dealie with what they know in it and then move on.

09 February 2016

The Email Exchange: Ultimate Comics Spider-Man & The New Reader (w/ Matthew Spencer)

The Email Exchange: Ultimate Comics Spider-Man & The New Reader (w/ Matthew Spencer)
The Email Exchange is exactly what it says: two writers correspond by email until enough of their rambling can be made into one coherent read. In our first edition, my brother from another (and Hip-Hop Manifesto podcast partner), Matthew “Chivalry” Spencer and I discuss the new Ultimate Comics Spider-Man series. Which segues into a intense discussion about new comic fans vs. old comic fans. Points were made, points were argued, but I think it came out well.

Conley: I read those issues of Ultimate Comics Spider-Man you graciously gave me when you visited in April. Read them from cover to letters page and I have to tell you man…I’m not really impressed. I’m used to reading Brian Michael Bendis’ super-slow “for the trade” style and none of it really grabbed me. Miles seems like a cool character but I don’t really buy it. He gets drafted into this special school where he’s supposed to be at during the week but he sneaks out with no problem? The invisibility helps but where are the security cameras? Why is the third roommate such a douche? I also hate how a bunch of shit happened in Ultimate Fallout and is merely referenced in the main book. While I understand the need to sell the separate mini-series following Peter’s death, I hate how his first outing as Spider-Man is barely shown in his actual book. And his uncle is the Prowler and already knows who he is? While I know this storyline is still being told (I haven’t read any issues since the ones you gave me), I think it really sucks that his murderous criminal uncle is already on his ass.

I read the original Ultimate Spider-Man issues online at Marvel.com when they first came out. While I enjoyed them, it wasn’t until I read the few issues approaching #50 that made me a fan. Maybe I’ll change my tune about these new UCSM issues but right now, the magic’s not happening for me.

Still appreciate the awesome gift though.

Spencer: As you know, I have no background in comics or graphic novels. I’ve been introduced to some fantastic books over the past few years and I have found that I have the propensity to be sucked into a good comic. However, there are have been some friends who have lent or recommended classic works that I failed to be find even the least bit interesting. I’ve since come to the conclusion that while I can fully appreciate this media, I just don’t fully geek out over it like I do with many other of my interests and hobbies. So, it’s a bit intimidating when I pick up the latest spin-off or universe or arc of some long running characters and there lies so much backstory, nuggets from the past, references, allusions, and flashbacks that I have no idea what is going on and seriously miss out on a bit of the story. This has even happened with the very first issues of books like X-Men, Wolverine, Batman, Daredevil, Iron Man etc. I know that the comic book industry is always trying to bring in new readers but they are forever trying to appease their most loyal fans as well. It’s a fine balance and I don’t envy that responsibility.

When Ultimate Comics Spider-Man came along, I was leary. It sounded contrived and kitschy. But in a literary and artistic universe of exaggerations, caricatures, and imagination…what isn’t? But I like Spider-Man. And I LOVE Brian Michael Bendis. So much so that I named one of the tables at my wedding after him (Honestly! Alongside other literary favorites like Hemingway, Steinbeck, Hesse, in fact.) So I gave it a try. I don’t know much about Spider-Man. I saw the first two movies. I know the basics, but that’s it. But the first issues of UCSM didn’t have any prerequisites. Pick it up and enjoy it. It also didn’t hold many punches. After reading other Bendis favorites like Powers, I expected a slower evolving story. Spider-Man moves at such a quick pace that I could forget my ritalin meds for two months and still keep track of the story. But yet, despite all of this, I still found that the characters were developed enough that I liked them. Maybe I read into them a bit, who knows. But I was worried about Miles and read on in a mad fervor.

I didn’t read about the death of Spider-Man. I didn’t even know why there was a new Spider-Man series with a different Peter so to speak. It also mentioned just enough of Ultimate Fallout that I felt I was just as informed as the average New Yorker from that universe. Yeah, there are super heroes doing their thing but I got a life to live. Oh shit, Spider-Man died…caught me blindsided.

I like the book. It has it’s weaknesses, yes. I feel like I’m reading something intended for a younger audience but yet I still feel it has plenty of adult qualities. Hell, even Harry Potter was recognized for being a great book and was read by an unbelievable amount of adults so what do I have to feel guilty about? I enjoy it for what it is.

Conley: You’ll have to excuse me. I often forget that you’ve only been in the comic game for a short time. But your comments have reminded me of one of biggest complaints I get about the funny books of today:

There’s so much material. I don’t know where to start. I don’t want to figure out where the story has been so I can catch up with where it’s going.

I know that you truly don’t have time to take on the back issues of Iron Man or Wolverine. I really don’t see the intimidating point though. When I first started reading Spider-Man, he was in an epic battle with the Green Goblin in a storyline called “The Child Within”. I didn’t know this was the third Green Goblin. I didn’t know anything about another character in the arc named Vermin. And I was 8. That didn’t stop me from reading altogether just because it would be too hard to figure out who was who.

When I picked comics back up again in 2000, I had missed at least 3 years worth of continuity. Thankfully, a little thing called the internet helped me figure out what I needed to know but I didn’t give up. Maybe it’s my obsessive nature with things I get into. You said that you don’t geek out over comics like you do other things. I geek out over everything. I’ve lost sleep reading Wikipedia entries about Wife Swap because of a marathon of episodes I had been watching.

To sum up this point, I just don’t see how a character’s history could stop you from enjoying the character’s current stories. But we are two different people as well.

Back to UCSM, I don’t think it’s Bendis’ best work. As of right now, he’s writing 4 regular books and Marvel’s summer event Avengers vs. X-Men. As someone who’s always taken on a large workload, it’s not surprising that something suffers. In my experience, it’s always been his 616 Marvel work. But after reading through the issues again since our last email, I realize my main issue: I don’t think Bendis is writing slow enough.

We’ve both read a majority of his Powers series and no matter how short or long the arc, I feel like Bendis never deterred from making sure he told the story at a certain pace. It’s his trademark and when he nails it, you get great material. But when he rushes through it (like in a lot of his Avengers work), I just can’t get with it. I think this is the reason I’m not connecting to UCSM like you have.

Or maybe the fact that Powers was the last Bendis thing I read. It’s hard to go from a creator-owned masterpiece back to a Marvel property, especially an entirely fresh one when I was so committed to the previous version.

And Peter Parker will forever be dope to me as well. That’s tough for Miles to overcome in my book.

Spencer: I think there are many reasons why comics are so intimidating to “outsiders.” 1) The existing loyal fans. 2) The sheer volume of material. 3) The expense 4) The history across arcs.

1) The existing loyal fans are tough. I think comic book fans are the new record store employees. You get judged no matter what you buy. Your tastes are never as debonair as theirs. You don’t know jack about what you are buying. I’ve been to some great comic book stores (I think) but even the nice employees overwhelm with the nonstop nerd talk that I will never be nerd enough to understand. The people that are really into comics probably read more every Wednesday than I’m able to read in 3-6 months. It’s a barrier between those that want to relate and talk about books/arcs/characters/artists/writers but can’t find anyone else quite on their level. I’ve tried to talk comics with people…and found I could never understand all the comparisons or allusions or other books because I have never read them.

2) THERE ARE SO MANY COMICS. Where the hell do I start? I tried just buying comics online that had great reviews and nice art? What did I end up with? Garbage. Comics are hard to shop for. Everything I’d think I’d like about comics can get turned on it’s head if the book is right. For instance… Scott Pilgrim (I know not exactly a comic but bear with me) had amateur art. But the story was fun and exciting. I was even able to look past the fact that most of the characters looked the same and I couldn’t figure who was who because the characters were all so awesome anyway. If I didn’t get unbelievably lucky buying it at random online, I would have never given it a chance. It takes a lot of sampling otherwise to find a comic that is good for you. You also have to continuously revisit comics you may not have liked in the past because new writers are always coming along and taking over and you may or may not like what they are coming up with now.

3) Wow, comics are an expensive hobby. Sure you can buy the one piece meal where weekly it’s a cheaper. But you might as well buy the trades at a cheaper rate and have more extended reading time. While trades themselves are a bargain, it’s expensive to go to the comic book store and buy say 4-5 books like one might at a bookstore.

4) Where to start is intimidating enough, but knowing there are several different tellings of the same popular characters running at each time is a bit much. I love that the comic book world offers so much material to choose from but it’s like going to a restaurant where the menu has 7,000 different types of food. You’d want to read the whole menu first and really weigh what you’d enjoy most but that’s not feasible so you just look until you get tired of looking and pick whatever looks good so far. I know all media venues are like this. BUT, traditional book writers, novelist, musicians, etc. have much more limited catalogs than say Spider-Man.

Regarding Bendis: It is a change of pace from his other work (not that I’ve read a whole lot though). But I don’t mind it. UCSM is a more pop culture icon and will probably be read by a wider audience (including much more of a younger audience). I don’t think it’s quick storytelling dumbs it down (although I can agree that maybe a little more character development would be nice).

I’m not going to call it the greatest comic ever. I can’t even reliably say it’s the best Spider-Man (as I haven’t ever read a Spider-Man comic). But I like the possibilities that the story has now that it has dropped the chains of the past. It also has my favorite writer and a damn good artist (Sara Pichelli). I’m willing to wait and see where it goes.

My guess: Peter Parker and Miles Morales will always be apples and oranges.

Conley: I think our main disagreement on UCSM is that we’re both different readers.You like the fresh and new approach. While I like that too, as a writer, I’ve become such a storyline guy that when I feel like the storyline isn’t being fully told it pisses me off. You mentioned the lack of character development and that also plays a big part of my problems. I don’t care about Miles Morales right now and that’s Bendis’ fault. I even took a glance through issue 8 recently and still feel the same way. There’s a little bit of character development with Miles’ roommate but besides that, I still can’t get into it.

I felt the same way about Ultimate Spider-Man when it started. I read the first 20 or so issues on Marvel.com just because they were free. I had no exposure to Bendis back then and he still didn’t grab me. It wasn’t until USM #47 that I actually started paying attention (so much so that I bought every USM issue up until the Chameleon arc of the first volume of UCSM).

You mentioned this to me on the phone when you first started reading as well: the issues seem ridiculously short. Maybe comics in general have gotten shorter (and more expensive) in the 2 years it’s been since I stopped getting books pulled. But every time I start to get into a UCSM issue, it ends, and that’s frustrating.

I guess UCSM isn’t for me right now. I think I’ll check in every so often though. Maybe Bendis will hit a good arc that gets me into it full time. We’ll see.

To answer your concerns in reverse order:

4) Comic books easily have the most overexposed characters ever. Considering I’m not currently collecting, I’m not sure of how many books everyone has now, but at a given point in the 90′s, Batman, Spider-Man, and Superman all had 4 books each. All with different storylines and sometimes not related to each other at all. This is the biggest gripe of most comic enthusiasts because how does it make sense for Wolverine to be in Genosha with the X-Men, New York with the Avengers, Los Angeles with the New Avengers, and Madripoor in his own book all in the same month? It doesn’t but this is where the fault lies. Fans like myself in the past and many people I know now will throw down money for each of those books. Overexposure is an unfortunate way that Marvel and DC keep their mediums afloat as they enter into the digital age. Smaller companies like Dark Horse and Image are able to keep their characters in one book and it works. But their bottom lines will never be that of Marvel and DC, so they have that advantage.

There’s always going to be 7,000 books for one character and it sucks. But if it keeps the comic book medium alive, I’m willing to deal.

3) The price of comics is the reason I had to stop collecting. From 2003-2008, I always had the money to throw down $15 to $50 bucks a week on new issues. By 2008, my buying was more spaced out, so much so that my girlfriend would often buy me several months’ worth of comics for gifts because I was so behind. And you don’t even want to get into the amounts of money she would drop.

The prices have gone up as the cost to print the comics have risen along with the constant shrinkage of the fanbase. I used to be thrilled in 1995 when Marvel would plaster on a cover, “Only $1.50!”. Anything that helped me avoid a 1.99 cover price made it easier for my parents to buy for me. By the time I moved to Morgantown and got into collecting heavy, the average cover price was 2.25. Now it’s 2.99.

It’s an expensive medium to keep up with weekly. Even trades run anywhere between 11.99 to 29.99 for a regular collection of stories. Omnibus’ start around 100.00. While you’re getting what you’re paying for, I still can’t bring myself to drop that much for a single book. I’d love to get my hands of that Absolute Dark Knight book though. And yet, it still retails for 99.99 and it’s 6 years old!

With the fanbase growing older (You hardly ever see a kid in the comic store. Why read a book when they can watch the movies or play the video games?), the prices are going to get higher. A lot of fans refuse to buy into the digital comic. Obviously, Marvel and DC would make more money if they dropped the print format altogether, but how do you sell your better priced digital comics when stubborn fanboys won’t buy them? It’s a vicious cycle that will have to make a decision soon. Until then, us readers get shafted there.

2) This goes back to our discussion of your fourth point. It is intimidating to figure out where to start, especially when you’re new to the medium. I’ve been into comics since I was 8, so I got used to all the different options and tellings and alternate universes. You took an interest about 4 or so years ago? It’s almost as if your age is hurting you in this aspect. My first argument was that it shouldn’t matter what’s gone on before. While I still believe that, it would be like you starting The Wire from season 5. Everything that’s gone on before is important to know in order to fully appreciate the season. Without it, you don’t get some of the characters’ motivations at all. And you probably wouldn’t watch.

It’s not as simple as “read the origin story” either. Just because you know Superman was born on Krypton doesn’t explain why he’s fighting robots in Metropolis this week. I think it all depends on the character and how complex their history is. I think a Batman or Spider-Man story is pretty easy to get into at any point. But it’s hard for me to get into any Iron Man storyline because there is such a deep history of the armors, there’s Stark Industries, Stark Enterprises, Stark Solutions, etc. It makes my brain hurt. So I see your point there.

That’s why you’ve been able to take a liking more of the newer series like Powers and Invincible and UCSM because they’ve only been around a few years. That’s easy to catch up on through trades. Why Doctor Octopus is attacking the planet in Amazing Spider-Man is not. The newer content doesn’t intimidate you or other new readers as much. And for someone who barely has free time like yourself, it would make sense you would gravitate towards that.

Someone your same age who has the time might not mind the extensive character histories. It’s different with everyone. You just have to pick what works for you.

And for the record, Scott Pilgrim is the best find you’ve ever made my friend. And I thank you for it.

1) As for the loyal fans? We can be dicks, nothing more to it. There’s 2 guys in my comic shop I can talk all kinds of comic book with: the owner and one of his employees who has been there for years. They’ll talk to anyone on any level without making them feel stupid. I could walk in tomorrow and talk to the employee for 2 hours and be caught up on a year’s worth of DC books. And he wouldn’t mind one bit.

Would I talk comic book with any of the other employees there or the store in the Morgantown Mall? No. They don’t know me and just from what I’ve heard them say as I look around and eavesdrop, they have no time for a silly question like, “What exactly did happen in “Flashpoint”?” Those are the fans who will make you feel uneducated.

There’s definitely some nice employees or fans who have the best intentions when they’re talking to you. But a conversation about a specific event in one panel of an issue you’ve read can spawn into a debate about Superman Red and Blue before you know it. They don’t mean to do it, but once you get some of them started, they’ll lose you quick. My suggestion is to try to reel them in and let them know you haven’t read the stories. Some will tone down their nerd rambling and some will scoff at you interrupting them. You never know what kind of fan you’re going to get.

But just remember: fanboys (and girls) are dicks. The Simpsons got it right with Comic Book Guy.

So somehow, this exchange has went from a discussion of Ultimate Comics Spider-Man volume 2 to a discussion about comic books as a whole. I think I did ask you if you were sure you wanted to start reading comics when you first brought it up to me. I always just kept my comic fandom away from you because I was trying to protect you. You were the one who opened up the can of worms my friend. I just hope I’m somehow helping you instead of discouraging you.

Spencer: I think it’s also worthwhile to point out that great moments in comics are sort of ethereal and temporary. One of the first comics I read as an adult was Runaways after my close friend Kristina Lopez recommended it and lent me a copy. Brian K. Vaughn and Joss Whedon’s arcs were incredibly entertaining but then it quickly sizzled out. Runaways was first imagined to only last about six months but kept going because of its abrupt popularity. Somehow, its entertainment value and quality disappeared over time and I quickly lost interest.

Writers, artists, and even characters themselves come and go, bouncing from title to title, galaxy to galaxy, arc to arc. Spider-Man has certainly seen his share of this. His popularity has probably helped him weather a few dry spells but it always finds a way to make itself completely relevant time and time again (even now with a movie series reboot for a story most of us already know and even saw in the theaters just a few years ago.) But comics like the new Ultimate Comics Spider-Man really tug at our DNA or something. We keep going back. Even when it’s bad, or the story is familiar, characters undeveloped, etc. There is something about Spider-Man that people love. Even people new to Spider-Man like myself.

Perhaps I make excuses for the flaws in Brian Bendis’ telling of this reboot because Spider-Man is so mythical to me already that things like plot holes or weak characters don’t disturb me. Maybe you, as a veteran supporter of Spidey, has an untouchable archetype of what Spider-Man is (even in a reboot) and what every comic of his should always have and that ruins this new line for you.

No matter how polarizing it is, Spider-Man somehow finds his way back into conversation for nerds and the newly initiated, for silver screens and paperbacks. But then again, so does everything else great.


2009 NBA Playoffs: Lakers/Nuggets Game 5 Preview

2009 NBA Playoffs: Lakers/Nuggets Game 5 Preview

Before we get into the Cavs/Magic Game 4, let me talk about their Western counterparts.

Lakers/Nuggets Game 5 Preview
I got really smashed on Saturday night so I barely saw any of the Lakers win except for the score. So I won't act like I saw it.

What I did see before was a Nuggets team who made a decent Mavericks team look stupid in the second round. Following their Game 4 victory, the thought crept in my head that the Nuggets could possibly beat the Lakers, especially the way the Lakers weren't showing up in Houston late in that series.

The thing the Nuggets need to keep in mind, especially going into Game 5 tonight, is they cannot win any series by just winning the even numbered games.

This series has been close every game with the exception of Game 4. The opportunities have been there for Denver to win Games 1 & 3 but that "old Laker luck" as some L.A. haters call it came calling both times. Trevor Ariza's huge steal in Game 1. Kobe taking over in the 4th quarter of Game 3. The Lakers may not be playing like everyone expects them to, but they haven't lost any games they needed to win.

And Game 4…wow. Easily the worst game of either conference final series. Carmelo gets sick and every other Nugget steps up big time. The Lakers looked out of sync (even Kobe, who still managed 34 points) and were just pummeled by Denver in every major statistical category. Both teams took bad shot after awful shot each trip up the court. And J.R. Smith was apparently throwing up gang signs. It was really bad.

But, that was Game 4. Game 5 is back at the Staples Center. And despite Game 5 normally being the key game of any playoff series, all the signs are pointing to the Lakers going back to Denver up 3-2. Smith will not shoot like that in Los Angeles. The Lakers will resemble a team again (but Derek Fisher needs to stop shooting and be more of a playmaker). Kobe will be the Black Mamba and make the crucial shots that will lead to a L.A. W.

While the Lakers are not the same squad I deemed this season's champions after they had those big wins against Boston and Cleveland early this year, they still can turn it on when they have to. If they turned it on all the time this series would be over after Game 5.

Not to take anything away from Denver. They're a great team and when everything is clicking they are just as dangerous as the Lakers. They might even win Game 6. But their streakiness, bad starts, and shooting slumps will keep them from the Finals. It would take a complete Los Angeles breakdown the rest of the series for them to meet the Eastern Conference Champion no one expected and Nike did not want.

SIDENOTE: I am sick of counting flagrant and technical fouls. Kobe is 2 techs away from a game off and Dwight Howard is 1 away. I understand keeping track during the regular season but this is for that big gold trophy dammit!

Orlando 116 Cleveland 114 OT
I didn't expect Orlando to really have the Cavs number like this. But as the one team in the playoffs who look like they know what they are doing on their offensive possessions, they've certainly earned it. The Cavaliers wore their red road uniforms in Game 3 and never found the run they needed to threaten Orlando with a win (I'm a firm believer in uniform superstitions; remind me to blog about it sometime). They returned to the familiar blue road unis for Game 4 and they still came up short, even with LeBron getting his ghost foul on his last drive of regulation. I blame a lot of the Cavs problems with the Magic on their head coach Mike Brown though. No LeBron on Hedo Turkoglu in Game 2 almost lost them that game and then I watched as Ben Wallace(?) tried to fight through a screen as Rashard Lewis slid open for three pointer that gave the Magic the lead in the waning seconds.

Ben Wallace on Rashard Lewis? Wally Szczerbiak would've made more sense. At least he could have kept up with him. Maybe. But this whole series I've watched the Cavs be forced into odd matchups that never end well for them. There may be nothing Brown can do in certain situations but it shouldn't happen time and time again.

Remember when I said the idea of Howard not being able to close out games was dookie? Games 3 & 4 proved me right as Superman poured in 24 and 27 points respectively, including 10 points in the overtime. There is no reason Dwight shouldn't be a factor in any game's closing minutes as he made clutch plays when Lewis and Turkoglu were actually properly guarded. And if Anderson Varejao had been called for a foul on that last lob play, Dwight would have knocked down the free throws and saved everyone 5 minutes.

LeBron is getting no help. Delonte West had 12, Mo Williams 15 and Zydrunas Ilgauskas had 9. James only scored 41, hit an impossible three with 4.6 seconds to go, and damn near hit a 35-footer that everyone thought was going in with the way LeBron has been casually making insane shots all year. And while the MVP tried to win the game alone a la Jordan before the 1990-91 season, Rafer Alston chipped in with 26 points off the bench for the Magic.

At this point, Cleveland should go back to the Q and take care of business in Game 5. I'm assuming someone will help LeBron or he'll just go off as superstars are known to do and force Game 6. Or the Magic could keep it close all game and then hit the big shots in the 4th like they've been doing all series and send the MVP home for the summer.

And just to play devil's advocate, Stan Van Gundy was the Heat's coach in 2005 when they blew a 3-2 series lead to Detroit in the Eastern Conference Finals. Even though 3-1 comebacks are rarer, you never know when a few bad decisions could lead to this series getting tied at 3 or even being lost in 7. These are still the Cavs. They could show up. But I don't think so.

2009 NBA Playoffs: Magic/Cavs Game 2

2009 NBA Playoffs: Magic/Cavs Game 2

Cleveland 96 Orlando 95
So LeBron James hits a deep three pointer with 1 second on the clock to tie the Eastern Conference Finals at 1 game apiece. I wasn't shocked when LeBron's shot went in (though I did set up in my bed just from the excitement of the moment) and I wasn't shocked when Hedo Turkoglu hit his shot that put the Magic up by 1. I was really shocked the Cavaliers won.

Most people who know me know that as a diehard Chicago Bulls fan, I hate the Cavs and I despise King James. But through the first two rounds of the playoffs, the Cavs were playing like they were the best team in the NBA. I expected them to continue to play well considering Orlando barely survived the Celtics in a grueling 7 game series. I worked on Wednesday night but I came home to see the Magic getting blown out in Cleveland, where the Cavs had only lost twice all season. I tune in later in the game to not only see the Magic had gotten back into the game but would go on to win on a Rashard Lewis three. The next day, I came to the conclusion that the Cavaliers were rusty and they would come out angry in Game 2.

Or would an angry LeBron even matter to the Magic? I had a theory in the Magic/Celtics series that if they C's could put together back to back wins; they would gain the momentum they needed to beat the Magic and possibly upset the streaking Cavs. I was basing that idea solely on the fact they were the defending champions and I figured some of that experience would count, KG or no KG. The Celtics won Games 4 & 5. And then promptly dropped Games 6 & 7.

Could the Magic be on the aforementioned playoff streak I thought the Celtics could have gone on? Sure they took 2 of 3 from the Cavaliers in the regular season, but this is the playoffs. The regular season doesn't really count anymore. Right?

Again, after spending most of the evening grilling outside. I come in to see the Magic are down by 12 at the half. I turn back to the game for the final 4 minutes and the Magic have tied the game again. As the time ticked down, all the shots were falling for the Magic and the Cavs looked to be tripping all over themselves. A traveling call on the game's biggest superstar in the final minutes? Not Jordan-esque at all LeBron.

After Hedo hit the game tying three pointer, thoughts of Finals MVP flashed through my head. Not that I think the Magic could really beat the Lakers (or will it be the Nuggets?) but either he or Rashard would take the honors home considering how Stan Van Gundy refuses to allow Dwight Howard a chance to dominate (I don't buy those he rumors that he can't dominate). And when Hedo gave the Magic the lead, I thought the game was a wrap. With as well as the Magic were playing them, I really didn't think this Cavaliers team could go to Florida down 2-0 and come back 2-2. Maybe 3-1, but no way they take 2 in Orlando. It was around that time I looked at how much time was left on the game clock.

The first thing I said back in February when the Arizona Cardinals took the lead on the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLIII was there was too much time left on the clock. I was right then and I was right this time too.

LeBron's shot will go down in NBA history. It's definitely one of the greatest shots I've witnessed. But I don't think this will change this series. I think we're finally passed the blowouts that have plagued these playoffs and gotten down to competitive basketball. I think the Magic's playoff streak does exist and I can see them taking Game 3. They're 4 and 2 at home these playoffs and it's going to be tough for the Cavs to win the 1 game they need down there. Game 3 will actually say a lot about who will come out as 2009 Eastern Conference champion.

Of course, the Cavaliers from the first two rounds could show up and win three straight games. I don't think the Magic have a chance against those Cavs. But chances are I'll be talking about a 2-1 Magic series lead come next time. As far as the Lakers/Nuggets, that's next article. The Nuggets really impressed me with the way they handled the Mavericks in Game 5 of the Western Semis. And the fact that the Lakers aren't up 2-0 going to Denver might really cause problems for them. Unless they play like the Lakers from December/January. But I definitely don't think that version of the team will be making a comeback. Unless Andrew Bynum gets a bionic leg.

08 February 2016

Talking Out The Dead: "Always Accountable"

Talking Out The Dead: "Always Accountable"

Thomas Crawford: This episode seemed a little like filler in my opinion. Yes, there was some things going on, yet it didn't really hold my attention that much either. I'm not going to say I had the problems with it that I had with "Now." However, there were some points where it was trying to waste a little time in between the last episode and the next.

Talking Out The Dead: "Now"

Talking Out The Dead: "Now"

Thomas Crawford: The beginning of the episode seemed to suggest something crazy was about to start. A wide eyed Rick was running towards the town of Alexandria with a massive swarm of walkers in hot pursuit. Overall though, this episode really had a tough time keeping my attention.

05 February 2016

Hyphen Nation - Episode #5: Predicting The 2015 NFL Playoffs: Super Bowl 50

Hyphen Nation - Episode #5: Predicting The 2015 NFL Playoffs: Super Bowl 50

The 50th edition of the Super Bowl is two days away. Panthers. Broncos. I make the final pick that can make or break my 2015 NFL playoff season. A win puts me above .500; a loss, under .500. More importantly, can Peyton win his second ring and tie Eli? Will he retire on top or head to LA next season? Can Cam silence his critics, at least for awhile? I'm really pumped about this game.

Also in this show (because I couldn't do a 20 minute show just about the Super Bowl): Understanding what I like to eat, whether or not I'm scared of success, my candy addiction, and Go Demarcus and viral video in 2016.

Recommendations: New Girl season 5, Carly Rae Jepsen - E·MO·TION, The People v. OJ Simpson, The Internet - Ego Death.

04 February 2016

Life In Morgantown: Born Day

Life In Morgantown: Born Day

On January 22nd, I celebrated my 12th birthday in Morgantown. On January 30th, E took me out on the town.

In the past, I used to have something called a Birthday Bash at Buck’s Corner Pub every year. It was really just a ruse so I’d have an excuse to headline my own show; all the drinks and time with friends was an added bonus. The Birthday Bash ran from 2009 to 2012, when I was so intoxicated that I passed out on Willey Street and almost ended up in jail and/or the hospital. I took it easy the next few years, choosing to remain home, but last year I ventured to the Apothecary for the first time.

I don’t remember anything after the Apothecary.

Borrowing 10 Statements from Tom for... Magna Carta... Holy Grail

Borrowing 10 Statements from Tom for... Magna Carta... Holy Grail

So fellow Trike writer and podcaster (seriously, he has like 5 podcasts that I need to edit and get out. I’m a slacker.) Thomas Deja runs an awesome blog called Damn Your Ears! Damn Your Eyes! where he writes 10 statements about a film or television show he’s watched recently.

About a month and a half ago, my iPod adapter for my car (it’s old) broke and my CD player can only play actual CDs and not burned ones. So of course, being the Jay Z (Jay-ZJay-ZJay-ZJay-Z!) fan that I am, it was a must I get Magna Carta Holy Grail (or Holy Magna Carta Grail as I sometimes say it). I’m currently on my 4th or 5th listen and I’m finally forming unbiased opinions about Hov’s newest work. Hopefully, Tom won’t mind my borrowing his format here. If he does, read this while you can!

  1. Having listened to all of Jay’s albums extensively, this has to be the most in the moment his lyrics have ever been. While he’s never been a slouch when it comes to punchlines that resonate, his mentions of Miley twerking amongst other things, really makes MCHG sound like he just stepped out of the booth and put the album out. I also think this is his most unguarded work, because he’s tried to keep his work secret until the very last moment since 1999. On the other hand…

  2. This is the most rushed Jay Z has been since The Best Of Both Worlds. The perfectionism that he’s displayed throughout his career is missing here as he goes left when he would typically go right and he goes simple when he would shoot for complex. Although he said MCHG was completed reasonably fast (as he wasn’t even planning to do an album), when compared to other “fast” albums in his catalog like The Blueprint, it pales in contrast.

  3. Jay does a wonderful job of balancing the quality he’s known for with the sound expected of rap today. While “Holy Grail” seems like something from the cutting room floor of Watch The Throne (I still think it’s dope), songs like “Tom Ford”, “FuckWithMeYouKnowIGotIt”, “F.U.T.W.”, and “Beach Is Better” sound like they could be given to any 21 year old’s top 10 rappers and they would be thrilled. Even records like “Picasso Baby” and the aforementioned “F.U.T.W.” ring off as if they came out of the Vol. 3 vault.

  4. With that said though, MCHG doesn’t offer the variety of beats that a Shawn Carter album is known for. Despite Timbaland having a hand in 10 of the 16 tracks, the album has a very “too many cooks in the kitchen” feel, especially on “JAY Z Blue” (where his heartfelt worries about being a first-time dad are almost lost) and “Oceans” (when Frank Ocean can’t recreate the chemistry of “No Church In The Wild” and “Made In America”). While less production might not have made Jay more inspired (on a project he’s claimed has sparse production), it wouldn’t have hurt either.

  5. Jay’s in on the joke: While he’s always approached his work in a more serious manner, he seems to revel in the fact that he’s 43 and could be doing anything else to add to his wealth, but he’s still rapping. “Somewhereinamerica” and “La Familia” feature Hov at his most bouncy, despite the average lyrics of the latter. And he taunts the listeners on the interludes “Versus” and “Beach Is Better”, as they clock in at 51 and 55 seconds respectively. While he could be plotting another project with longer versions, he seems satisfied to let people know that his less than a minute songs are hotter than half of the 3 and a half minute plus songs that coat the radio waves today.

  6. Jay Z’s not afraid to show the world that he’s married to Beyonce anymore. After years of never talking about his relationship (now marriage) to Houston’s own Beyonce Knowles, he throws references all over MCHG…and it works. While he has mentioned her as “B” on past records, The Carters are on full display here, with Beyonce contributing to three records (with “Part II (On The Run)” as the only credited “Beyonce” feature) as well as getting name dropped several times. Baby Blue is all over the place as well, as her name is the first word that Jay utters on “Holy Grail”. I mean, how many dudes tell their baby to lean on expensive art because they own it too? No one. And while “JAY Z Blue”‘s production fails me, the message is easily my biggest fear of being a future father.

  7. When Hov is bad, he’s terrible. While “Crown” is a solid record, his choice to go off beat at the end of his verses bothers me to no end. Was this a conscious choice? Was it a mistake he chose not to fix to show vulnerability? Either way, it shouldn’t happen on a Jay Z album. “Nickels And Dimes” has to be the worst album closer he’s ever chosen, as the uninspired hook and beat are met with a bored Jay.1 And “Heaven” is anything but as a quality first verse is followed with a subpar second one. Which leads me to my next point…

  8. Believe it or not, the album is too long. While 16 tracks isn’t out of the norm, for what Jay was hoping to accomplish, I think it is. I told a friend on Sunday that MCHG had a great beginning and a lousy ending and the length is the reason why. While the album is just under and hour long, several songs could have been omitted. Look at this:
    1. Holy Grail
    2. Picasso Baby
    3. Tom Ford
    4. FuckWithMeYouKnowIGotIt
    5. F.U.T.W.
    6. Somewhereinamerica
    7. Versus
    8. Part II (On The Run)
    9. Beach Is Better
    10. BBC
    11. JAY Z Blue

    At 11 tracks (with the removal of songs I’m not a fan of), you have a streamlined version of MCHG without losing the key content. In fact, this might the way I add it to my iPod. Can you imagine if Yeezus had been 16 tracks? ‘Ye knew he was pushing boundaries as is; the people didn’t need 16 tracks of it.

  9. “Part II (On The Run)” might be the best Hov and B collaboration they’ve done. While lovers of “Crazy In Love” or “’03 Bonnie & Clyde” might scream blasphemy, this is the first song that they’ve done that truly felt like a collaboration. While Jay’s verse on “Crazy…” might be one of his best guest verses ever, it’s a guest appearance on a Beyonce song. I’ve always felt “’03…” betrayed 2Pac’s better version personally. Lovers of a bored Jay on “Upgrade U” or even suckers for one of Kingdom Come‘s standouts, “Hollywood” (that’d be me) can’t compare with the chemistry of “Part II…”. While Hov’s lyrics aren’t heavy handed, he nimbly weaves in and out of his wife’s vocals like Ali in his prime. This is everything 2011′s “Lift Off” from WTT started as, except with full effort from all parties.

  10. “BBC” is another Nas/Jay Z dud. Out of the 4 songs they’ve appeared on since their 2005 reconciliation (2006′s “Black Republican”, 2007′s “Success”, and 2008′s “I Did It For Hip-Hop” with Ludacris), they’ve never had an absolutely dope song together. “Black…” & “Success” came closest but their Luda collab was just another on an album full of collabs already. I reallly, really want to like “BBC” but I just can’t. Subpar verses from both Jay and Nas don’t elevate a hook that boasts of a “b-boy drug dealer look” and the beat is another one of MCHG‘s clunkers. Maybe one day these two will put it together in the studio for that “perfect collaboration” we expect out of them. But it’s less likely with each year that passes in this genre of music.

Bottom line: I love the fact that there’s new Jay Z music. It just takes me awhile to separate myself from giddy fanboy mode to music critic. Magna Carta Holy Grail is a better album than Kingdom.. or In My Lifetime, Vol. 1. It’s not better than American Gangster but it just squeezes by The Dynasty: Roc La Familia (which isn’t even a true Jay album).2 But beyond all that, it’s new Jay music in 2013. Let’s enjoy while we can; there’s no guarantee he’ll put out another full album. He doesn’t have to, he just signed Kevin Durant and Robinson Cano to Roc Nation Sports. He’s a business man…

  1. This from a guy who hated (and still hates) “Young Forever” from The Blueprint 3.

  2. Officially: 1. Reasonable Doubt 2. The Black Album 3. The Blueprint 4. Vol. 2…Hard Knock Life 5. American Gangster 6. The Blueprint 3 7. Vol. 3 8. MCHG 9. The Dynasty 10. Blueprint 2 11. In My Lifetime 12. Kingdom

May The Capture Games Odds Be In Your Favor

May The Capture Games Odds Be In Your Favor

In this new feature, the writer attempts to get to the point in 500 words or less. Today, I take on the CW’s new show Capture.

So after Whose Line…[1. I really, really, really love Whose Line... Get off my back.] on Tuesday, Anthony pointed out a new show debuting called Capture. The opening montage was enough to suck me in so Angel and I settled in to give it a chance.

Five minutes hadn’t passed before Angel yelled, “It’s The Hunger Games!” She wasn’t wrong. 12 teams are competing for $250,000 and every two days a new team is chosen to hunt the other team across a sprawling 4,000 acre terrain. After a small head start, the hunters are required to capture the other teams by placing a talon (a disc with red lights that causes the captured’s vests to flash) on at least one of another team’s players. Once a team is captured, the hunt is done for the day, and the captives have to sit in an open jail cell adjacent to the other teams. The hunting team must capture 1 team on each day in order to have immunity from elimination. If they fail totally, they’re automatically eliminated from the game and if they only capture 1 team, they face elimination with the captured team.

Each player is given a tracker so they have an idea of the lay of the land but if a team stops for three minutes, they become visible on the hunters’ trackers.

Team Purple captured Team Yellow and Team Lime (I know). Yellow got caught because the two girls were arguing over which direction to take for 3 minutes and Lime wasn’t fast enough to escape. The girl on Lime twisted her ankle but over exaggerated it to appear weak.  The remaining 10 teams made nice with each other and debated on eliminating Yellow but had all seemed to change their minds to Lime by night’s end, and even told Yellow this. At elimination, Yellow was shocked when they were eliminated (they were the first team to reach 6 votes).

The actual hunting part of the game is dope, as those parts of the show feel truly authentic…except for the part where Yellow stopped for three minutes just to argue. Nothing screams scripted better than an impromptu fight after one of the girls puke. All the dialogue that took place in between the hunts was pretty awful; a team of guys managed to get a team of girls to sleep with them…for “warmth”. The hunting team said they were homeless and living out of their car, so they really needed the quarter of a million. And the part were several teams walked up to Yellow and told them they were voting for Lime only to do the opposite felt forced too. Survivor this is not. One of my favorite lines: After a brush with the hunting team (who wear silver vests to distinguish themselves in the field), a panting woman compared them to silverback gorillas. Really? Really? Really?

While it wasn’t a bad episode, there were too many glaring flaws that might make me pass on coming back (apparently, I missed the second episode last night). I’ll give it another chance though; I just have to remember that I am watching a CW show at the end of the day.

Victory Jumpoff Radio - Show #17: Slow N Grooves vol. 1

Victory Jumpoff Radio - Show #17: Slow N Grooves vol. 1

This one is dedicated to my old desktop computer. The one that used to pump out slow n grooves every single weekend on Naomi Street. Thanks for the memories.
  1. Usher - Superstar
  2. Monica - Before You Walk Out My Life
  3. Michael Jackson - I Just Can’t Stop Loving You
  4. Usher – Slow Jam
  5. Boyz II Men – Doin’ Just Fine
  6. Lauryn Hill – The Sweetest Thing
  7. Chicago – If You Leave Me Now
  8. The Tony Rich Project – Nobody Knows
  9. D’Angelo – Untitled (How Does It Feel?)
  10. Sunshine Anderson – Lunch Or Dinner
  11. Drake – A Night Off
  12. Stevie Wonder – Knocks Me Off My Feet
  13. Donell Jones – Where I Wanna Be
  14. 112 – Now That We’re Done
  15. N SYNC – Gone
  16. Chicago – Hard To Say I’m Sorry
  17. Beyoncé – Me, Myself, And I
  18. Alicia Keys – You Don’t Know My Name
  19. Xscape – Who Can I Run To?
  20. Norah Jones – Don't Know Why
  21. Boyz II Men – Trying Times
  22. Carl Thomas – I Wish
  23. Childish Gambino - So Into You
  24. Dru Hill – Beauty
  25. Meghan Trainor - Like I’m Gonna Lose You

An Evening With "KING DAVID": D-Why Returns To 123 Pleasant Street

An Evening With "KING DAVID": D-Why Returns To 123 Pleasant Street

I should have written this article days after this event but I didn’t. Some may call it pure laziness but I have to call it something else.

The night of August 25th meant something to me.

In my previous article, I chronicled how D-Why and I had met and his rise leading up to the release of his mixtape Don’t Flatter Yourself.1 Now from those beginnings, imagine you’re on your way to meet this guy who’s blowing up nationwide. You would expect a certain change to take place once the notoriety begins. D had agreed to do an interview with me on Twitter but I got no response to my phone call the day of the show. Figuring he was just extremely busy, I assumed the interview wasn’t going to happen. Nevertheless, I packed my old school tape recorder with me in search of quotes from showgoers, figuring I could piece together a nice show review.

I parked in the Chestnut Street garage because I didn’t feel like running to a meter all night. As I rounded the corner to 123 Pleasant Street, I noticed a small line had formed. I didn’t think much of it, expecting most of the crowd to file in closer to D’s 10:30 stage time.

What I found a very generous crowd that had already gathered around the stage and that’s excluding the people at the bars and milling around the building.

This was the biggest crowd I had seen in 123 for a local hip-hop show in about 6 years.

I immediately ran into my friend (and Nerd Fresh partner-in-rhyme) Chris “CFX” Flynn and his friend Alisa Griffin near the entrance. I was surprised to see that he wasn’t drinking yet, as he’s always quick to grab a drink when a party is about to go down.

“Not yet. After the show…once everything is handled.”

I then brought out the trusty tape recorder and rattled off a few questions at him.

“Myself and Jameson “Holt Dizzee” put this show together when D decided he wanted to come through town. There was really no discussion about the venue because I knew 123 would be the least hassle money wise. It’s locals only normally. To be honest, in the future, we probably won’t be at 123 just because it doesn’t really have the capacity. But this one is for the homies, that’s why we came through 123.”

“He’s [D-Why] just grown all-around. When we first met the guy, he was a little much. But in turn, what’s crazy is it’s evidence of his drive. When I first met the guy, all he wanted to do was talk rap. He just wanted to rhyme and that was it. To this day, he’s made it where he’s at because he eats and breathes it. That’s his work ethic.”

I made my way to the bar and ordered myself a Red Bull, determined to stay sober since I was working. As the opening act of Dinosaur Burps (B Rude and DJ Sqweazle of Charleston, WV) were going through their sound check, I pulled aside Bryce Johnson who was next to the stage.

“I’ve been a fan of D-Why’s since he came out with “License To Chill” and ever since then I’ve been hooked. I’ve listened to Don’t Flatter Yourself many times. I like “Ballad Of An Asshole”, “Hawaii” is good. Slowing down a little bit, “The Reprise” is a beautiful song. Those are my favorites.”

When I asked him how it felt to be on the D-Why bandwagon early, he responded: “It feels good. I got introduced by a friend and then I found out D-Why went to my high school which was GW [George Washington High School]. And then he went to WVU and graduated and all that camaraderie is what got me hooked to him.”

His friend Jordan Bailey chimed in, “I like “2000 Miles".”

After heading to the bar to get another Red Bull, Dinosuar Burps’ set began. With Sqweazle on the decks and Rude with mic, they had no trouble winning over the crowd that was there to see the main attraction. They ran through songs from their newest release, Mother Nature Wants You Dead as well as some favorites from the Rabble Rousers album, Tastes Like Crazy. At one point, they pulled a kid from the crowd who spit a dope 2 minute rap. After their set, I caught up with Rude outside.

Do you remember D-Why when he first started?

B Rude: It was sometime in Charleston, he was running around with the graf kids and the skateboarders.

From the little graf kid until now, what would you say most amazes you about what he’s done so far?

BR: I’m just glad he’s doing his thing, likes what he does. Do what you do, when you do when you’re doing it, you know?

After making sure to tell me how cool everyone was when they performed at Warped Tour, I pulled aside Nathan “N8″ Wolfe.

I’ve known N8 for as long as I’ve been apart of the West Virginia hip-hop scene but mostly through message boards. I had only met him maybe twice before this and I was surprised to see him at a D-Why show of all places. But the guy treated me like we were old friends. We bullshitted during sound check and he introduced me to his wife. And we were moshing with the kids during Dinosaur Burps set. No one can ever call N8 dull.

What brings you all the way from Clarksburg tonight?

N8: I just came to show my support to B Rude and D-Why. This is important to me.

When was the first time you remember meeting D-Why?

N8: D-Why was hanging out in front of PJ Kelly’s. He was too young to get in the club and he and his little brother Matt were waiting outside. And Holt Dizzee came in the club and was like, “There’s some kids that wanna meet you.” So I went outside and D-Why is out there and he’s rapping one of my songs to me. “This is when I come and get ya bags and go/better grab ya coat before I grab ya throat…” He knew all the words to it and was like, “Man that’s really cool, you know my shit. That’s cool, nice to meet you guys, good to see you.” And a couple weeks later, he comes over to my house with Jamie Holt, and ever since then I’ve always looked at him as part of the scene growing up. We were apart of a hip-hop community that I followed. And it was very important to see somebody from that…I think he’s gonna blow up real big.

BR: Ditto. From B Rude.

N8: Just showing my respect. To the people who showed their respect, earned their respect and I fight for the kid.

Before Dinosaur Burps took the stage, I ran into Timothy “TD” Williams by the downstairs bar. I’ve known TD for a few years now but it wasn’t until the last year or so that we really became friends. He’s close with Marcus D’ Tray, one of the lead producers of DFY.

I didn’t shove my recorder in his face but he shared some stories about D’s recording process, esssentially saying how he would leap from playing guitar (he’s teaching himself), to singing a hook behind someone who’s working on an entirely different song, to asking someone to listen to his latest song idea.

“But when you get him focused, he’s locked in,” he said. “He’s incredibly talented.”

He also shared a story of when D-Why was recording “One Day After 2 Chainz”, his freestyle over 2 Chainz’ “Birthday Song” track.

DFY was in its final mixing stages and D begged his engineer to record his new freestyle. After convincing him, D was going in and out of booth and talking to everyone in the room and then, BOOM!, slamming the door and going back in the booth. And he kept doing it. Next thing we know, it’s getting later and there are neighbors, and D’s engineer says ‘Stop slamming the door!’ and D nods and slams the door again. The door flies open again and D’s saying something and then his engineer tells him again about the door. He looks back at him, gets this look on his face and then BOOM!, slams it again. And then he finished the song in the next take.”

There was a brief intermission following Dinosaur Burps as DJ ETrayn hit the stage to get the antsy crowd even more ready. As the “D-Why” chants began, I posted up backstage near the backdoor, just in the time see D and his crew enter. D yelled some last minute things to his people, and then emerged on stage to thunderous applause. I had to go to the back of the venue to get a clear view and I still had to scale a nearby railing to get a great view.

The setlist was eclectic to say the least. DFY had just dropped a few days earlier and it made up a majority of his performance. He ran the crowd through a few favorites that didn’t make the mixtape like “Macchiato Music” and “Shooter McGavin”, with the crowd singing along word for word. After holding the crowd over with “Ballad of an Asshole”, “New York Times”, and “Kate Upton Is The Motto”, he asked the crowd if they were ready for “Devil Horns To All”, his 2010 remix of Wiz Khalifa’s “Black & Yellow”. After the crowd answered emphatically, D said he wanted to party in the crowd because he didn’t remember all the lyrics; he wanted the crowd to fill in for him.

The loudest rendition of “Devil Horns To All” followed, with D-Why bouncing through the crowd to his own music. It was a superstar moment if there ever was one.

After a few more DFY cuts, D invited his crew and all the ladies in the crowd onstage. Then he signaled ETrayn to start spinning records. Songs from his time at WVU blasted as the whole building rocked along with the familiar tunes. As D4L’s “Laffy Taffy” shook 123, I had to make an audio reminder to myself.

“At this given point, D-Why’s mic is not standing up. He has 15 girls on stage, dancing to “Laffy Taffy” like it’s 2004.2 This shit is blowing my mind.”

After another dozen or so songs, D finally signaled for the music to end and said goodbye to the crowd. Drenched in sweat, he made his way to the merchandise table that had various t-shirts either emblazoned with his logo, his face or “Sarcasm, Orgasms & Fashion” (a line from “Macchiato Music”). He then began signing merch, taking pictures, and taking a few minutes to talk to any fan who approached him. As I took in this scene, I pulled one fan to the side to ask her what she thought of the show.

“It was good. I don’t know…I love D-Why until tonight…I’m biased. He said “Peace, Love, and then Money”?3 The money thing is throwing me off. I was like uh uh. Peace does not go with money and that made me so mad. I didn’t know he was for that. And I was [turned off]. I love him. “Party Girl” is my favorite. I love “Party Girl”. I came to college here (WVU) and that’s how I knew him. This shirt (pointing at someone wearing the Peace, Love, Money tee), I do not like this shirt. I don’t like the money sign. The money sign made me so mad. Because I love peace and I love the heart. But…I love his music. If I’m happy, I’m happy. But I’m not gonna be happy because of money. Peace and love, hell yeah! But not the money. I wish it were peace, love, and happiness…peace, love, and something, not peace, love and money.”

After talking a few more minutes with the girl who had the interesting t-shirt views, I asked WV rapper Daniel Aliff his thoughts on the show, as he traveled all the way from Beckley to check it out.

“I can’t say I’m a D-Why fan but he killed that shit, for real.” When asked about his favorite part of the show: “That Cam’ron shit. “What Means The World To You” (“Killa” was what D-Why called his version)? That was dope.” After saying he still wasn’t a fan of D’s look: “He killed the shit, everybody says he’s a cool dude, he killed the show.”

While D was outside doing an interview with Jenesis Magazine, I chopped it up with his brother Matt Morris and Andrew Sullivan of ZFG about D’s work ethic, how far he’s come since he started his career a few years ago, and Andrew asked Matt if there was deeper meaning linking some songs from Don’t Flatter Yourself. I had planned on saying a few things to D when he finished his interview before I headed out, when his manager approached me.

“You still wanted to interview D, right?”

Hot damn.

How does it feel to come in here at 123, where you did your first show way back when…

D-Why: You know…you was there. I was wearing a 2 XL tee on stage. [Laughs] A 2 XXL shirt that said “Graffiti Changed My Life”.


It feels incredible. Being from Morgantown, being from Charleston, being from West Virginia, it’s a special place because they support their own. Always have, always will. To be back here and see the house packed, to see tickets sold out at capacity, I couldn’t do anything but smile. This is amazing, it’s a blessing. When I come back to Morgantown, in spring or something again for a bigger show, by then everything will be super tight and polished.

Don’t Flatter Yourself, how long did it take you to get that start to finish?

D: Start to finish? For real, two and a half years. Maybe even a little longer. It came about, I had the name, had the concept and from there it went through three phases.14 tracks? Nah. 16 tracks? Nah. When I got out to LA, I was like wow, this is the fucking time to really go in and get it. And just in the past 6 months, having a new engineer, he’s amazing. And really everything came together. It’s been an evolution man. I reference my age as 22, 23, and 24 on the tape.

How did living in Brooklyn and LA change your style, influence your style

D: I was born in New York City, so I was always going to New York City growing up. When I moved to New York [after college], it gave me perspective. There’s more than just Morgantown. I’m nobody in the city, all I am is hungry. It grounded me, it told me…you have to make your fucking way in this world. I’m still nobody, I’m still just this hungry kid who wants to make music for people. But living in New York, I wrote “Devil Horns…” there. “I’m on Bedford and Halsey”, that’s the street corner I lived on. And Bed-Stuy. I tell people Bedford and Halsey, right near Bedford and Ocean, and their like “Oh shit, that’s not a good neighborhood”. And it’s dope because that gave hunger, that showed me the real hustle, the real grind. And then LA showed me the potential. LA was like…this is Beverly Hills, this is Hollywood. I need to go hard because of this. And that’s really what it’s been man. It’s been a great journey up to this point and it’s only beginning.

Tell me about your relationship with Marcus D’ Tray.

D: That’s my big bro man. We just started linking on a local tip. He lived in Morgantown, he had a studio in his mom’s garage, just making beats. We just chopped it up, we just kept building. And now he’s a big brother to me. I go down to stay in his crib with him and his wife. For days at a time we work in the studio. And it’s dope because he, mark my words, is the most talented producer that I’ve ever seen or worked with. Not joking, all that’s missing is the opportunity for him to get to the next level. He’s just as talented as your favorite producer’s favorite producer. Period, hands down, not fucking around. He does it all, everything. He produced “The Reprise”, he produced “All Good”, he produced “Good Will Stunting”. That’s a pop record, that’s an urban record, and a country folk record. He does it all. All the strings, like the strings in the intro, that’s all him, they sound real. It’s amazing. So it’s really just been back and forth. I’m trying to put him on, introduce him to people and that’s why he did the majority of the songs on DFY or at least touched them up. “Limitless”, he went in and made that sound even bigger. And I can’t think of anyone better than D’ Tray. It’s a blessing man, he’s uber talented.

So you finally have Don’t Flatter Yourself out. Can I get any early name…DFY 2? Do you have anything in mind?

D: There’s not gonna be a DFY 2, I don’t have anything in mind right now. There may be another possible free album. But what we’re doing now is building DFY, spreading it to the masses. We’re gonna release some singles, “2000 Miles”, “Stealing Youth” maybe. “Good Will Stunting”, shoot some videos. Release that, put ‘em on iTunes. The reason we haven’t put it on iTunes, there’s a lot of legal stuff and also because I want the stuff to be free. I want it to spread nationally, I wanna give back to the fans. So now’s the time because people are demanding, “I want to pay for it.” So we’ll do it a single at a time maybe and then the real goal is to take DFY on the road. I’m setting up a tour right now, I wanna be able to get across the nation just bringing it to the people. And from there, there might be a DFY retail version. How cool would it be to see that in Target?

Macchiato Music. Do you watch Sex In The City?

D: No. I mean, I’ve seen Sex In The City numerous times but I’m not a rabid fan.

How amazing was it to just go in Italy, shoot illegally, tell me about that experience.

D: First of all, we have videos that we haven’t released that we shot in Paris and a video in London. 2 in Paris, one in London, and then “Macchiato Music” was in Italy. So what we did was took all the money from our savings, took all the frequent flier miles we had saved up growing up, bought the tickets, slept on the floor of small ass hotel rooms. Got kicked out of hotel rooms. It was really just guerrilla-style shooting, it was great. Hopefully we’re gonna have those videos soon and release them as a mini movie.

Speaking of mini movie: “New York Times”…that is one of the dopest videos to come out this year. Who’s idea was that?

D: That was my idea. I have these 2 other videos, “Taxi” and “God Amongst Men”, which…you’re probably the first person to hear that. I filmed those 2 years ago, they might still come out and they’ll be a flashback to “New York Times” and how it all started. I filmed those and there’s a story in my mind and it’s this James Bond-like assassin, a young guy who’s kinda pulled into that world. I wanna continue with that black and white GQ James Bond theme and hopefully go bigger with the videos. “New York Times” is only beginning [of that story].

Meuwl. Profit Money. How much did they influence you when you were younger and you first started rapping?

D: I can’t even put into words really. First of all, rest in peace to Meuwl. He was like my big brother, the big homie, and that’s why I looked up to him. May he rest in peace, I always looked up to him and now he’s looking down on me. I was passing out flyers for shows, he’s the one who encouraged me to rap. He was the first one who said “What are you gonna call yourself?” He was the reason. In high school, I was listening to his shit thinking, if he can do it…he’s a kid from Charleston, he skateboards, he writes graffiti, he raps. That’s me, I can do that. Then when I got to WVU in 2005 as a freshman, the homie Profit Money was a little bit older, he had been around more, had see more. And we teamed up because it was opposite sides of the spectrum. He would come in the dorm room, stay the night, I’d wake up for class and he’d up hella early drinking coffee; making beats. We put out The Wake Up Call and he was heavily involved in the Two Thousand And Hate shit. That’s my homie for life, I talked to him a week ago.

Five years from now, where’s David Morris?

D: I’m only gonna say this: No competition with rivals, only competition with idols, D stands for disciple and DFY is the bible. That’s all I can say, that’s all I know. Constant progression and where things go, that’s where they’ll go. All I can tell you right now is that I’m blessed with DFY and I’m trying to go even harder on the next.

I spent the next 20 minutes or so saying my goodbyes to everyone. D tried to convince me to head to Bent Willey’s with him but I knew my night of Red Bulls would’ve turned to my night drinking and being late for work the next morning, so I passed. As I split up from the group and headed back to the parking garage, I felt awesome. Not just because of the interview and how much content I had gotten for this article but because D-Why is the same kid I’ve always known. He’s just a little bit more famous now.

I’m sure the future holds super stardom for D at this point. He’s too stubborn to fail. And for one night, I got to be apart of watching the fuse get lit on his stick of dynamite. Think if you went to interview Drake a few days after So Far Gone had dropped, before everyone knew So Far Gone had dropped. This was that moment for me and I’ll remember it for a long time.

Then again, he might never get as huge as I think he will and I might have jinxed him by writing this piece.

But then again... don’t flatter yourself.

  1. It’s good. You’re crazy if you don’t give it a listen. It’s not your average hip-hop either. D does whatever he wants on the project and he does it well.

  2. “Laffy Taffy” was released in 2006.

  3. Seen on D’s crew at the show and a reoccurring theme of DFY.