29 March 2016

B Hyphen - "Death Before Dishonor Part 3" (Produced by Lip Beats)

B Hyphen - "Death Before Dishonor Part 3" (Produced by Lip Beats)

Once upon a time, Matt had an idea to start his own record label. He called it Death Before Dishonor Records. He never made it legally official but all my releases up until Spideyville Unlimited were released under the DBDR banner (everything from volume Three up has also been released under Soundvizion Recordingz as well).

While DBDR was conceived in high school (I think), the Death Before Dishonor mantra is something we always tried to keep with us. When I recorded volume 4 in 2012, I felt like I needed to do a third installment of my "Death Before Dishonor" series of songs. The original version was supposed to seem like a recorded freestyle session, with my verses intercut with interludes of me not liking my rhymes (think Nas's "Book Of Rhymes"). While I thought the idea was clever, I never thought the concept made any sense to anyone else.

So last night, I pieced the song back together so that all three verses blend into one song. I've been wanting to do this for a while and I like the results much better.

I'm also including "Death Before Dishonor" from volume II and "Death Before Dishonor Part 2" from volume Three.

22 March 2016

Hyphen's Long Travelled Thoughts: The Man Who Has Too Many Ideas

Hyphen's Long Travelled Thoughts: The Man Who Has Too Many Ideas
I wish you could put 100% effort into 1 thing…instead of 1000 different projects, you would be efficient & awesome at it. – @OfficiallyCHRIS

This was a tweet I got from my friend Chris the other day upon his reading of my three months late D-Why article for TricycleOffense.com. While it could be passed off as a dismissive compliment, it’s really bothered me for days now. He drove the point home further when we met up to watch football the following Sunday.

Essentially, he was saying that if I could manage to stop my mind from wandering from project to project all the time and focus on one thing, I would be great at it. The way I do things now, I have a lot of good projects, but nothing amazing.

As I’ve chronicled before, I planned on releasing The Mind’s Mixtape volume 4 and my first album, Soon You’ll Understand by my 30th birthday in January and then fading from the music scene completely,. After semi-persuing a career for the past 8 years, I wanted to focus on other things. Writing mostly, which is one of the reasons TricycleOffense.com was born. But I also wanted to start working on book ideas I’ve had on the backburner, podcasting, and myabe getting back to fanfiction for funsies. Stuff that would occupy me but also allow for me focus more on my relationships and bettering my life.

Recording was going well until this month. I have 7 or 8 songs of the album done and 6 or 7 of the mixtape. And I’ve had multiple opportunities to record and I just haven’t. I partially blame discovering The Walking Dead but really, it’s because my mind is always wandering.

Because it’s November, I considered trying NaNoWriMo again, even thought I’ve never completed a chapter, let alone 100,000 words. I’ve had multiple Victory Jumpoff Radio ideas even though I haven’t had a episode since the Aaliyah/Michael one. I’ve been mentally redesigning bhyphen.com, again. I played PS2 on Sunday and Monday instead of recording, even though my mic was less than 6 feet away.

But my biggest distraction has been writing for TricycleOffense.com. Currently, I have a weekly series chronicling the Raiders season (it’s starting to be a task), I’m 5 reviews behind on reviewing all of last season’s Breaking Bad episodes, I’ve been contributing the random WWE article here and there, and I write random articles. I’ve been trying to keep my production around 3 articles a week and at one point I was trying to do 5 a week.

On top of that, I’m the site’s webdesigner and main editor of all content that’s not mine. So while we don’t have too much content Monday-Thursday, Friday-Sunday I’m posting Trike House Party, Tom Deja’s Moves Like Curtis, and Geeks Of Gridiron.

Pretty much it’s overwhelming but only overwhelming in the sense of writing though. I can do the web stuff and editing in my sleep. But I can’t continue to write articles on a regular basis.

Back to Chris’ quote; I want to make these last projects great, not just good because I was doing 6 other things at the time. So I’m stopping everything that’s not music related.

  • No articles.

  • No podcasting (I might be convinced to do a guest spot or two).

  • No fiction or fanfiction.

I’m still going to run TricycleOffense.com but if I don’t do something now, the music won’t be finished on time. And that has to be (one of) my main priorities. I have faith that the other writers will be able to carry the workload.

Meanwhile, it’s back to music mode. Thanks for your patience.


Hyphen's Long Travelled Thoughts: The Timelines Of Misfits

Hyphen's Long Travelled Thoughts: The Timelines Of Misfits
I started watching the show Misfits after my friend Matt urged me for months on end to watch it and then he promptly stopped after I did. Misfits is a British television show in the vein of Heroes except with a smaller cast and more freedom to do what they want outside of America’s FCC guidelines. In honor of the fourth season premiering a few weeks ago, I wanted to share an article I originally posted on my blog last December. All the seasons are available on Hulu, including the new season’s episodes every Monday. The rest of this article…promises to get very confusing, very quickly.

Being the nerd fresh originator that I am and to prove that this is my actual blog, I want to talk about something serious today. Mainly, the timelines of Misfits.

The reason I think I’m even writing this is because I watched a Community episode OnDemand called “Remedial Chaos Theory”. In it, Abed tells Jeff that by rolling a die, new timelines are formed. Also, being the Back To The Future buff that I am, I couldn’t resist wondering how time travel played out on this new UK show that I can’t stop watching.

So in Series One, Curtis has the power to go back in time. The way I see it, every time Curtis goes back in time and changes something that already happened. He’s creating a new timeline. Try to follow along.


In Series 1, Episode 1 (S1E1): Curtis uses his power for the first time after the probation worker kills Kelly. He only goes back in time a few minutes but stops Kelly from opening the door, preventing her murder. This begins Timeline 2.

Timeline 2 continues until S1E3 when Sally discovers Tony and Gary’s bodies in the boot (trunk) of her car. Curtis rewinds time and warns the others, resulting in Nathan smashing a brick into Sally’s windshield, preventing her discovery. Timeline 3 begins.

Timeline 3 lasts until S1E4 when Curtis goes back in time in the middle of the night. This is the first time any lengthy period of time passes while Curtis is in the past. I assume that since it is night, the other characters are in a stasis of sorts until Curtis returns to their present. Curtis goes back to the night he got busted with his then-girlfriend Sam to put things right so that she doesn’t go to prison. In his first attempt, she is stabbed and he flashes back again which creates Timeline 4. In this timeline, he avoids bad consequences befalling anyone and when he returns to the present, he is an Olympic hopeful again. Turns out that because of this, the other Misfits were killed by Tony minus Nathan due to his immortality. I like to also refer to this as Timeline 1A since it was the most likely result of Timeline 1 before Curtis’ interference. Curtis goes back again and makes sure he takes a fall but Sam doesn’t and creates Timeline 5. The only difference when he returns is that Sam is still his girlfriend.

Timeline 5 has several mini Timelines branched from it, mostly due to Curtis’ inability to break up with Sam. Every time he tries he feels guilty and flashes back to before he broke up with her. As no major changes took place other than their relationship not ending, I don’t deem it necessary to call any of these an official Timeline. When Curtis does finally end it with Sam, it is still Timeline 5.

Timeline 6 begins in S2E6 when Curtis goes back in time after Brian has killed all of the Misfits and several other storm-powered people. Brian was the first person to come out publicly with his powers and as the news snowballed, so did Brian’s limelight. Jealous, he uses his dairy manipulation powers (scarier than I expected) to kill anyone who gets in his way. Curtis is lactose intolerant and resists Brian’s powers. After Simon is killed saving him, he tells Curtis to go back and make things right. This is the first and only time we see Curtis use his power at will. Timeline 6 is created when Curtis tells the group about Brian and they arrive at his door with Curtis’ fist ending any future threat he had.

Now this is when my “other characters are in stasis” theory gets challenged. In this episode, Alisha tells Simon that Superhoodie was a future version of himself. The stasis theory would go with the idea that no one else except Curtis remembers the previous Timeline’s events unless told. Yet in the “Christmas Special”, Simon is well aware of his future self. One could assume Alisha told him again in the new Timeline since it’s never explicitly explained.

In the “Christmas Special”, Curtis sells away his time manipulation power and it is sold to an old man who plans to kill Hitler. Well…

In S3E4, the old man goes back in time to kill Hitler…with a knife. His attempt is stopped by Adolf and before the old man flashes forward to the present, he drops his cell phone. The old man returns to a Nazi-ruled Britain thanks to the technology he left in the past and makes Timeline 7. The power dealer, Seth, is captured by the Nazis and the old man gives the time manipulation power to him before he dies from his injuries. Seth is forced to give the power to Curtis, who then gets killed by the Nazis. The remaining Misfits turn on the Nazis to save Seth and when he’s dying from a gunshot, Seth tells Kelly he didn’t give the power to Curtis. He passes it to her thru a kiss and Kelly goes back to the day the old man dropped his phone. She headbutts Hitler and he drops it. Kelly retrieves it and flashes back to the present day where she sees the old man walking away, alive and happy. Welcome to Timeline 8.

Couple things though. Kelly walks into Hitler’s office right after the old man flashes out. He had to in order for Kelly to be there in the first place. BUT when he goes back to Timeline 7, he dies. Yet when Kelly creates Timeline 8, he’s alive. With this being the first time multiple characters have went back into time, it creates a paradox. The old man should not have lived. By living, it’s implying that he never received the power in the first place. But he did in Timeline 6. Unless Kelly goes back to a variation of Timeline 5 (or 5A). Then the old man doesn’t have the power but it would mean the Misfits would all have their original powers again (they don’t). I guess it was to give the old man a happy ending. Maybe I just didn’t care enough about him to see him alive again.

The other thing that bugs me is the passage of time. This episode takes place over the course of at least 3 days and according to my stasis theory, none of the other Misfits will know time passes unless told. But Alisha walks out of the locker room at episode’s end and asks her where she’s been which clearly acknowledges that time passed while the old man and Kelly were gone. Kelly is the only one who remembers Timeline 7 or Alisha would’ve mentioned something about living in a Nazi controlled setting. Maybe the writers just lost their heads since it was the final lines of the show.

And back to the old man not dying. If he remembers Timeline 7 along with Kelly, maybe, just maybe he lives. But then again, Kelly didn’t stop him from being attacked by Hitler, she just took the phone from him. The attack still happened, therefore the old man must die!

So there is the long and short of the Timelines of Misfits. I don’t plan on updating this unless the time travel thing becomes a regularly featured power again but you never know.


21 March 2016

Victory Jumpoff Radio - Show #20: The Final Banana

Victory Jumpoff Radio - Show #20: The Final Banana

The Final Banana is for dancing. If you don't like to dance, you'll dance. If you like to dance, you'll sweat. If you like to sweat, you need The Final Banana.
  1. Madonna - Vogue
  2. Snap - Rhythm Is A Dancer
  3. Deee-Lite - Groove Is In The Heart
  4. EMF - Unbelievable
  5. Right Said Fred - I'm Too Sexy
  6. Crystal Waters - Gypsy Woman (She’s Home)
  7. C+C Music Factory - Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)
  8. Gerardo - Rico Suave
  9. Haddaway - What Is Love?
  10. Ini Kamoze - Here Comes The Hotstepper
  11. La Bouche - Be My Lover
  12. Robin S. - Show Me Love
  13. Rob Base & DJ EZ Rock - It Takes Two
  14. Sir Mix-A-Lot - Baby Got Back
  15. Technotronic - Pump Up The Jam
  16. Black Box - Everybody Everybody
  17. Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch - Good Vibrations
  18. CeCe Peniston - Finally
  19. Maxi Priest - Close To You
  20. Paula Abdul - Straight Up
  21. Arrested Development - People Everyday
  22. Heavy D and the Boyz - Now That We Found Love
  23. Madonna - Express Yourself
  24. Bobby Brown - Every Little Step (Radio Edit)
  25. Young MC - Bust A Move

Show #20: The Final Banana

Hyphen's Long Travelled Thoughts: Boyz II Men and Life After Evolution

Hyphen's Long Travelled Thoughts: Boyz II Men and Life After Evolution

Among the many, many things there are in the world that bring joy to my nerdy self, Boyz II Men’s II is one of them. My earliest memories of the album was the hit song “I’ll Make Love To You” and the impact it had on radio in 1994. And as a fan of their previous hits, I was anxious to hear the whole disc. And my dad (who I credit a large chunk of my slow jam appreciation to) had bought it and told me to take a listen whenever I got a chance. I couldn’t get the CD out of the case though.

Mind you, I was 11 years old at this time. I didn’t want to admit to my parents that I was too stupid to take a CD out of its case. So I just didn’t listen to it.

For a very long time.

Eventually, on my umpteenth try, I figured out that if I pull on the CD while pushing the teeth out, good listenings would be had by all. And I listened. I’m willing to say that even 18 years later, II is still the album I’ve listened to the most in my life. Having no portable CD player or a CD player in my bedroom, I taped a copy of the album and played it at high volume…at all times. I’m willing to bet everyone in my family knows the whole album word for word. And II might be my favorite album of all time. I haven’t made a list or anything but I love this album that much.1

I played II well into 1995 because I’m pretty sure I was entering junior high school when I finally moved onto something else (I’m thinking it was 112′s debut album by then. I’m definitely an R&B nerd.). It wasn’t long before I got Cooleyhighharmony and devoured it. The classic Boyz II Men sound was there, but it didn’t have the smoothness that II possessed. So as I spent time listening to all the CDs dad was getting from BMG and Columbia House,2 I started wanting that new Boyz II Men album. It had taken them three years to release II after Cooleyhighharmony but I didn’t think it would take them that long to get something new out. They were one of the biggest musical acts in the world at the time, why wait another three years?3

Two years later (a decade for me). “4 Seasons Of Loneliness” was released. It went to #1.

And I didn’t like it.

It wasn’t that Boyz II Men sound I was looking for. It felt like a Michael Bolton record (and I hate Michael Bolton). The video didn’t grab me.4 The vocals were good but there was nothing that screamed “This is what I’ve been waiting for!”

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the first time I was disappointed by music.

Being the true fan that I am, I made sure dad got me a copy of their new album Evolution as soon as he could. By the time I got it, “4 Seasons…” had grown on me a little but there was no way the whole album would disappoint me.

Evolution. When the times are great, they’re great (see: “Doin’ Just Fine”, “A Song For Mama”, “Can You Stand The Rain”, “Never”). When they’re bad, they’re dreadful (see: tracks 8-12).They always say it’s hard to catch lightning in a bottle twice and that it’s hard to overcome the sophomore slump. Boyz II Men had a junior slump. They were the William Gates of my music lifetime.5 I gave the album as many listens as I could before I moved on to other things (mainly, No Way Out and Big Willie Style), but for all intents and purposes, I moved on from my Boyz II Men phase.

As the years went on, I would occasionally drift back to II with fond memories, but with the dawn of the mp3 and all these wondrous ways we have of accessing music, I would run across a stray Boyz II Men track every now and then. And for some reason, last week I thought to myself, “I’d really like to listen to Evolution again.”

So while I was editing Justin’s Katie Richter article the other morning, I clicked on Spotify and listened to the whole album for the first time in at least 14 years. And the second half of the album is still pretty shitty. Maybe the guys went into “Fuck you Motown” mode and phoned in the rest of the album (there were apparently label issues around that time). But hearing those first 7 tracks just made me wonder what could have been.

I owned Nathan Michael Shawn Wanya but I never listened to the whole album. I didn’t listen to a full Boyz II Men album again until last year’s Twenty. The former quartet is now a trio, with Mike’s health issues forcing him to retire in 2003. Twenty was a decent album, but nothing that I wanted to listen to for hours at a time. The interesting part about the record though, was how the group re-recorded several of their old hits. I have no idea why they did this, but the updated versions still sounded pretty crisp.

So 18 years after the release of II, the guys are still touring the world, getting stars on the Walk of Fame, and living the dream that started at their Philadelphia high school. I came t h i s close to seeing them live for the first time after a Pirates game this summer, but my nephew decided to graduate that same day. And even if I never get to see Boyz II Men throw it down live, I’ll always have their good debut album, their stellar second effort, and their half dope third album.

And we’ll be in a serious argument if you try to say another group is better.

Long live “Motownphilly”.

WRITER’S NOTE: It hasn’t even been a week and songs I wrote off from Evolution are getting stuck in my head. “Come On”, “Human II (Don’t Turn Your Back on Me)”, “To The Limit”, and “Dear God” have all made the rounds. Maybe Evolution‘s second half isn’t so bad.

1 Let me try to come up with a Top 5 real quick though: 1. Boyz II Men – II 2. Jay-Z – Reasonable Doubt 3. New Edition – Heart Break 4. Garth Brooks – No Fences 5. Nas – I Am… And that’s just with 10 minutes of thinking. I’m sure there are albums that could easily replace those. Back

2 For some of you noobs out there, BMG and Columbia House were mail order services. They would offer you 10 or 20 CDs for the price of 1. Of course, after that you had to pay a monthly fee to continue to use their service. But as a kid, it was awesome. Back

3 Somehow, even though they are credited for igniting the boy band craze, I never got any shit for liking Boyz II Men. If you were a New Kids on the Block fan when I was growing up, you got made fun of, but New Edition and Boyz II Men both got a pass. Maybe it was the R&B element to their music, maybe it was because they were black, I don’t know for sure. But I was such a Boyz II Men fan that I created an R&B group in elementary school with 2 guys who couldn’t sing just so I could cash in on that R&B fame. We went nowhere but it was cool seeing the girls reaction when you tell them you’re in a singing group. And I could sing. Ask anyone who went to junior high with me. Back

4 I didn’t have video channels until 1995, so I missed out on most of II‘s videos until long after they were released. Except “Water Runs Dry”. I always liked that one. Back

5 William Gates was a stand out high school player at Isiah Thomas’ old high school St. Joseph’s in the late 80′s/early 90′s. He peaked his sophomore year. Knee injuries kept him from ever reaching that potential again. Watch the movie Hoop Dreams. No, right now. This article can wait. Back


Hyphen's Long Travelled Thoughts: Why We're Here

Hyphen's Long Travelled Thoughts: Why We're Here

So I never really explained why TricycleOffense.com is here.

Not that I really have to explain it. At its basis, TricycleOffense.com is just one among a million websites that are created every day. There’s really no rhyme or reason for it other than to carve out a slice of internet real estate. But after reading through this site’s inspiration, Grantland, and noticing that Bill Simmons1 did something similar, I decided to try my hand at explaining what “The Trike” is all about.

The Tricycle Offense was formed one late night when I was having Movie Night2 with Thomas and Anthony. We all worked at The Shoe Dept. and had formed a friendship. Somehow, out of my drunken rambling, I convinced them that we needed to call ourselves the Tricycle Offense3. Why? Because there was three of us, we weren’t playing basketball, and it was more fun to say than triangle offense. They agreed and from then on out, whenever we felt the need to “hulk up” or when we agreed with each other in public, one of would say “Tricycle!” and whoever else was there would loudly conclude “Offense!” History was made.

But really we’re just really dorky.

As it says on our Facebook page, I had this idea during our Wrestlemania XXVIII trip that we should form a website of the same name and start writing articles4. I think it was Anthony who chimed in that we could include podcasts as well and maybe even turn this into a successful venture. Thomas is normally down for whatever, so he agreed and history was again made.

But really, we had no idea what we were doing.

Like Grantland, I wanted TricycleOffense.com to fear no subject. I imagined articles and podcasts about sports, politics, comic books, movies, abortion, gun control, Real Housewives of New Jersey, and whatever else we could get out hands on.

So I dropped $17 dollars on a domain name and set us up on WordPress.com directly after.

And immediately realized, we had a long way to go.

We started out slow, with ours being the only articles. Thomas and I started The Slobberknocker Chronicles podcast after Extreme Rules in May. I asked a bunch of my podcasting buddies if I could post their podcasts on the site. We just started the Trike Adventures (credit goes to Anth for that name) podcast 2 weeks ago (with #1 about to drop in a few days). And slowly but surely, we’ve been building a stable of writers besides ourselves.

But what’s the ultimate goal? I’m not sure. Originally, it was to have fun and possibly make some money. But now, I’m looking at a bigger picture. With the right moves, could TricycleOffense.com become an internet powerhouse? I want us to provide entertainment first and foremost, but if we’re able to provoke thought after you close your browser, aren’t we providing an even more valuable service?

For years now, I’ve been told that print is dead. But I don’t think it’s just that print is dead, I feel like reading is dead. Sites like Grantland and ourselves provide the opportunity for reading to be had about all kinds of topics. A virtual, opinionated library if you will. Why not make an effort to drop 1000 words about something you care about in the moment? That moment can be shared to others for however much longer we exist. All through the power of word.

And the same goes for podcasts. Kevin Smith has turned Smodcast into a second career. Every form of media seems to be available in a podcast now. Why not sit around on a Sunday and shoot the shit with your friends with a microphone present? It’ll definitely be funny but you never know what someone else will take from it and share with the next person.

After thinking on it for days, I’ve given us a new slogan. “Fueled by word power! Whether you agree with them is a different story.” As I explained to Anthony through text last night: we write/speak with words. Words are contained in stories/articles/podcasts. And while some may not like an article or podcast, it still should inspire some type of commentary afterwards.

Mission accomplished.

Enough of my waxing poetic. We haven’t even hit the 6 month mark of our existence yet and I sound like a motivational speaker.

But real quick: TricycleOffense.com wouldn’t be here if there wasn’t a reason or need for it. That’s what I’m sticking with. And while “Here for a reason!” is the vaguest response one might muster, I have to say I think it works.

Now, with that off my chest, I’ll go put Stan’s5 soapbox back before he notices it’s missing. He seems to get really agitated nowadays.

  1. Bill is on my short list of heroes or people that inspire me everyday. That’s not my parents at least. He’s joined in this elite group by Kevin Smith, The Rock (the man speaks so well. And those tweets of his are gold), Jerry West (read West By West), and Michael J. Fox.

  2. A blatant excuse to get smashed while watching movies late into the night. This is how I spent a lot of 2010-2011.

  3. I am a Chicago Bulls nut and no one will ever take the years of 1990-1998 away from me. Not even Derrick Rose’s knee and poor management.

  4. I just started reading Grantland this year I think. The article that got me hooked? His career review of Eddie Murphy.

  5. Stan Lee. Co-creator of the Marvel Universe. Owner of Stan’s Soapbox.


Hyphen's Long Travelled Thoughts: The Dark Knight Rises Shooting

Hyphen's Long Travelled Thoughts: The Dark Knight Rises Shooting

I went to bed last night complaining on Twitter that I probably wouldn’t get to see The Dark Knight Rises in theaters. Having just started a new job, it looks like my comic fandom is going to take a back seat to the real life reality of paying bills. That being said, I was okay with not attending the midnight premiere of DKR. Having attended the Spider-Man 3 premiere in 2007, I realized midnight showings just weren’t for me. I’d rather hit up a matinee the week after the big screening. Less people and a better opportunity for me to focus on the movie.

In Aurora, Colorado this morning, a lone gunmen opening fired during a DKR screening, killing 12 and wounding 58 as of this writing. In the blink of an eye, the worst mass shooting in America’s history had occurred.

And I was complaining about not getting to see it.

As is the norm with any news story, the questions have been coming in droves. What would make someone do this? What impact will this have on this year’s elections? What does this mean for DKR‘s box office? And for DC Comics and Warner Bros.? Was there an accomplice? What does this mean for Hollywood’s box office in general? And how will this be spun in the never ending gun control debate?

While I don’t have all the answers, I can attempt to discuss some of the issues at hand.

The only person who really knows why the shooter did it would be him. I saw an expert on CNN this morning blame his behavior on a desire for attention because his life was going nowhere and how he had been playing shooter video games to get ready for the real thing. I’m no expert at all and I can’t say that she’s wrong. I just know that there was something truly twisted and demented going through the shooter’s head. The fact that he actually acted on it is the afterthought to me.

President Barack Obama already called off his political rallies for the day and it wouldn’t surprise me if Mitt Romney does the same. Once things die down though, I fully expect both parties to rally around the tragedy. I’m not sure what the election scene looks like in Colorado but the idea of running and not mentioning the shooting would be a mistake.

And now I feel icky after writing about politics.

While no one expected DKR to do the numbers The Avengers did, there’s no way this doesn’t affect its weekend bottom line. It’ll no doubt lead the box office but I expect a lot of people will stay away from theaters for fear of copycats. I think DKR will enjoy a longer box office run because of the shooting, however. People who stay away now will be more willing to check it out in August or even early September.

Warner Bros. has already canceled the DKR premiere in Paris, France and the marketing campaign has been suspended in Finland. They also pulled the trailer for Gangster Squad that was supposed to be shown before DKR due to a similar scene in the film that is eerily like the actual tragedy. WB will continue to do all that they can to prevent negative publicity but there’s always going to be a group of people who will lead a boycott or three. I don’t think this should hurt DC Comics too much other than the stray parent who will decide not to let their child make a Batman related purchase.

News reports have been calling this a one man job. The more details I hear makes me wonder if there was an accomplice though. Because there’s so many details we still don’t know, I wouldn’t be surprised if a second name hits the news by this evening. This again falls into the “why?” category but there has to be way the shooter got as prepared for the act as he did. Again, this is just random speculation and we’ll see what comes out in the next few days.

I don’t suspect Hollywood will be too affected by the tragedy. The aforementioned Gangster Squad and similar fare may be retooled and pushed back but Hollywood is always being blamed for violence. Sadly, this is no different.

And even though it never goes away, the gun control debate will rage to new levels. Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said at a press conference earlier tonight, “All the ammunition he possessed, he possessed legally, all the weapons he possessed, he possessed legally, all the clips he possessed, he possessed legally.” Thomas wrote about a recent run-in he had with the gun control debate a few weeks ago, but this is a new can of worms. Everything before the conference was pure speculation but with the artillery’s origins confirmed, I’d hate to be on the anti-gun control side of things. How can anyone still say that stricter gun laws aren’t needed after this? But then again, how can anyone say that after Columbine and 2 separate shootings at Virginia Tech? Ultimately, even if stronger gun laws are put into place in the future, I still believe it will be way too easy for anyone to get a weapon. And even harder for the gun control debate to end.

I started writing this before work but I didn’t quite finish it before it was time to get on the road. I wasn’t sure what kind of reactions I would hear from my co-workers. I heard a few talking about DKR itself as they had attended midnight showings. Two other people actually brought up the shooting and we talked briefly about how insane it was. The only other discussion I heard about it was from two customers who were chatting in the middle of an aisle. I’m not sure if people didn’t know or if they chose to not care. And while working was a nice break from the tragedy, I wasn’t home 10 minutes before I was digging for new details. I guess it’s just the reporter in me.

I’m not sure what will come to the forefront in the next few days. While the victims should always be the main focus of a story, in today’s media, that just won’t be the case. The shooter’s name will be repeated in countless forms of media, perhaps helping him achieve his reasoning for the act in the first place. The Dark Knight Rises will get some unneeded publicity but the public will continue to file into theaters, although smaller numbers are expected. And people all over the world will debate the gun control issue. Whether anyone tries to pass new laws in response remains to be seen.

So while I’m on the east coast, rambling about a breaking story because I felt the need to, family members of 70 victims aren’t even 24 hours removed from the violence. All I can hope is that they and the community of Aurora are able to pick up the pieces of their lives and find some peace in the fact that the shooter was apprehended.


Hyphen's Long Travelled Thoughts: Maury Gets Results

Hyphen's Long Travelled Thoughts: Maury Gets Results

I’m old. While only 29, I still have seen some things in my day. I remember when The Maury Povich Show was on. And this wasn’t theMaury we all love (and loathe) today. This is when Maury, along with the Sally Jessy Raphaels, Phil Donahues, Ricki Lakes, and Geraldo Riveras of the world where constantly chasing Oprah Winfrey’s mega-blockbuster of a show.

The Maury Povich Show had a simple format. Some people came on to confess their infidelity to their spouses, others would come on and speak of horrible experiences, and some would come on in an effort to find love. It was a potpourri of content. Since I only had 4 channels from 1992-1995 in Capon Bridge, West Virginia, I welcomed these various characters into my TV room. It was better than pulling weeds in the hot summer sun at the time.

Then, The Jerry Springer Show ushered in a new era. Jerry’s turn towards more provocative content had paid off, as his became one of the first shows to beat Oprah in 1997.

While Jerry would put virtually anything on his stage as long as the censors could block it, Maury took a different approach. He started announcing the results of paternity and lie detector tests on the show. Even though this was a much tamer approach to Springer’s daily vulgarity, viewers found themselves tuning in to find out the on-the-spot results. Soon, sides were being chosen as women would side with the accusing mothers and men would root for the alleged baby fathers.

But why?

I’ve watched my share of crappy television. But I can never understand why people are so passionate about Maury. It seems like the most outrageous couples are brought on just so they can look bad. What about the recently married college educated couple coming on to find out the truth? Or the middle class family who have wondered for years about their child’s true lineage? Instead, the worst of the worst are brought on to slug it out verbally for 5 minutes before Maury opens his famous envelope containing the results.

Of course, this is where the comedy enters for me. While the lie detector shows holds my attention, it’s the paternity tests results that cause me to burst into fits of laughter. Nothing is better when a mother brings on 2 (or more!) men claiming that one of them is her baby’s father and when Maury reads the results: none of them are. For some reason, the moms see fit to run off stage crying (probably because they just revealed on television that they can’t remember who they’ve had sex with), leading Maury to walk backstage and offer words of encouragement. Meanwhile, the exonerated men tend to erupt into celebrations like this one that can be seen all over YouTube. Some women have even appeared multiple times in an effort to find their baby’s father.

The next thing I always end up thinking when I’m watching Maury: Is this scripted? I know that people have come forth claiming that Springer is scripted but Maury too? A brief search of the internet provided a few Yahoo Answers claiming that it was written and that some guests even made $5,000 for their appearance. With MTV leading the charge a few years ago, it’s not unrealistic to think that all reality shows are somehow tampered with somehow. Why not our talk shows? With less and less people tuning into daytime television once the news and sports broadcasts have ended, why not add a little flair to an otherwise normal show?

Since Oprah’s “retirement” in 2011, Maury’s show is enjoying its best ratings in 5 years. And as much as I like to trash the show and the guests that appear onstage, I always seem to find a way to tune in to hear, “You are NOT the father!” If I really cared about how bad the show makes society look, I should be boycotting every airing and denouncing all the millions Maury takes home every year.

Instead, I’ll just drop my head in shame and wait for the next viewing. When you stumble across ratings gold, you shouldn’t do anything to turn it into worthless coal.

Do your thing Maury. I ain’t (too) mad at you.


Hyphen's Long Travelled Thoughts: On Bill Stewart

Hyphen's Long Travelled Thoughts: On Bill Stewart

On May 21, former West Virginia Mountaineers coach Bill Stewart passed away from a sudden heart attack. He had been playing a round of golf with WVU's former athletic director when he collapsed.

Those are the facts that ESPN and various media sources have reported. Anyone who had the pleasure of meeting Bill Stewart have been singing the praises of one of the nicest men they have ever met.

I never met Bill Stewart. I, the Miami Hurricane fan who started following WVU football once I moved to Morgantown, only knew Coach Stew through what I saw on the football field and what I read in the media.

I was livid in 2007 when Rich Rodriguez decided to leave WVU for the University of Michigan. Even though a great Mountaineer season had fallen short of the National Championship, I was certain that a returning Steve Slaton and Pat White would guarantee another chance at WVU's first National Title. Rodriguez' move is still viewed as selfish in my eyes and only lessened once Michigan fired him in 2011.

What followed was a story made for the movies. Associate head coach Bill Stewart was pegged to take over the Mountaineers for their Fiesta Bowl matchup with the #3 ranked Oklahoma Sooners. Stewart left his team with his infamous "Leave No Doubt" speech before they took the field:

The speech and the hurt left by Rodriguez was enough for the underdog Mountaineers to romp to a 48-28 win. Stewart was carried off the field on his player shoulders. Roll credits.

WVU decided to make Bill Stewart the permanent coach after his thrilling upset. And that's where my differences begin.

Again, I never met or spoke with Bill Stewart. And I could be a dick and list all my problems I had with his WVU teams (which I just did, but a WordPress save error just wiped out an hour's worth of research and work) but I won't.

I was never a fan of Stew's coaching. But when you hear so many stories about how good-natured he was, it's hard to hate a man just based off his coaching. Especially when he's a fellow West Virginian. As happy as I was about Dana Holgorsen taking the reigns of the football program, I always wished Bill the best.

Living in Morgantown, you learn just how important WVU sports is to a state without any major sports teams. People enjoy the basketball seasons but football season is year round. The bad years are looked over as individuals and Don Nehlen are lauded for just being apart of the program. The 1988 season is still talked about like it was yesterday. The tailgating starts the Thursday before the game and the partying can get out of control. If you're in Morgantown, even if you're not a fan, you can easily be pulled into Mountaineer madness.

Unless Rich Rod goes on to create one of those great all-time programs down the line (it won't be at Arizona), he'll eventually be forgiven and be mentioned in WVU's hallowed history. Stewart was already revered despite his resignation (he allegedly asked reporters to dig up dirt on Holgorsen, a very un-Stew like accusation) and most fans consider his four seasons highly successful.

As I said at this article's start, Bill Stewart passed away unexpectedly. Despite all the great things so many people have said and all the years of service he gave WVU (11), he passed away playing a leisurely game of golf. It reminds me of story Kevin Smith has been sharing in recent years about his father passing away. All his father did was grow up, get a job, get married, and have three kids. Never tried to step on any toes, just tried to do what is right. After being sick for a lengthy period of time, the whole Smith Clan came together in Philadelphia and Kevin said he never saw his father so happy. A few hours later, his father, who never tried to anything but the right thing, died screaming. The event changed Kevin's outlook on life as he has tried to encourage anyone who will listen to do what they want with life before they die screaming unfairly. You can find this story told in Kevin's book Tough Shit and his recent Q&A DVD Burn In Hell.

The reason I share that story now is because I think Stew's story is similar to Kevin's father. A good man tries to to live a good life and at 59 years of age, he could pretty much think that he had. He goes out to shoot a round of golf and he dies. What did Bill Stewart do to deserve that death?

Stewart was laid to rest in New Martinsville on May 25th. This was after a private viewing in Morgantown Thursday where family, friends, and fans said goodbye to Coach Stew. All Bill Stewart did was take over a WVU program that could have been thrown into turmoil after Rod left and held the reins steady. I realize that now.

For all my bitching and crying when he was coach, I never took the time out to be glad that WVU had Coach Stew. Now that he's truly gone, I feel guilty for never appreciating what he did. I feel worse for never having my own Stew story to tell to any and everyone who would listen. All I have is various tweets from the past 4 years about how horrible of a coach he was. And even this article had a slanderous section about what I thought all his failings as a coach were. WordPress didn't save my draft though and all my bitching was lost. It's only right. Bill Stewart tried his best to lead a good life, he doesn't deserve to have some blogger talk about him not even a week after his passing. Bill deserves better.

And I can only hope to be a quarter of the man he was before I die. Rest in peace Bill.


Breaking Bad - Series Finale Predictions/Bear Musings

Breaking Bad - Series Finale Predictions/Bear Musings

Kelen Conley: So after all the emotional of this episode (“Granite State”)…where do we go from here? Walt’s headed back to the ABQ, his family are loose ends…who dies besides Walt? Is it Skyler’s time? Is the ricin for Lydia or Todd? How far are the Feds on Walt’s ass? Does Walt finally die in the series finale?

Thomas Crawford: I think Walt is going to use the ricin on Lydia, or his former partners of Gray Matter; that whole bs thing telling the news that Walt just came up with the name of the company sort of set him off. I wonder if Skyler dies, I’m not sure if Lydia trusts her to keep her mouth shut even with Todd’s warning…and we have seen how Lydia handles anyone who can point a finger at her. It’s also clearly obvious that Todd would do it without hesitation; Lydia wouldn’t even have to pay him for it. The machine gun seems like it’s for a showdown with the Nazis, however, this seems too unlike Walt and this show in general. I think the writers want us to think it but they may just be leading us on with showing the gun.

KC: Since Skyler didn’t get arrested, I definitely think she’s dying. Walt Jr. and Holly end up with Marie (who narrowly escapes death).

I think the M-60 is for Gretchen and Elliott. If Walt manages to tie up all the other loose ends in ABQ, why not burst into their home and murder them in cold blood? Then he could keel over immediately after; fade to black.

I’m not sure who kills Skyler though. I wouldn’t be surprised if some firefight broke out and both Skyler and Lydia were nearby. Then when Skyler lives through the assault, a desperate Lydia picks up a discarded gun and shoots her. But then again, that’s not really her style.

And at some point this episode, Lydia will definitely use Todd’s crush to benefit her in some way.

Who’s dead after the finale list
  • Walt
  • Skyler
  • Nazis
  • Todd
  • Gretchen
  • Elliott
Which leaves Jesse and Lydia remaining alive.

Anthony Sellers: Jesse dies this episode. He’s gonna try to escape again to no avail. A couple of the Nazis will die but not Todd and his uncle. Skyler I could see dying and Marie getting the children for the family’s sake. Walt kills Gretchen and Elliott but dies trying to save Jesse.

KC: No way Jesse dies. While BB has never been a show to stray too far from reality, doesn’t it deserve to have some form of happy ending for someone?

Jesse won’t try to escape again, he already watched Andrea die and Jack said Brock was next so he’ll try to kill himself before he tries to escape.

…And I just stumbled onto something huge. What if Walt does go after the Nazis to save Jesse, somehow succeeds but Jesse killed himself somehow before he could get to him? Like maybe he remembers how to make the gas from episode 1 that Walt made and he just ends it for himself?

But that’s exactly what I mean too. How many viewers would feel cheated if Jesse kills himself? I know I would unless it’s done perfectly. And everything this part of season 5 has been perfect.

And why does Todd and Jack get to live? You almost sound like you’re pulling for the bad guys. If they don’t get their comeuppance, what’s the point of Walt going back to ABQ? He would’ve waited to be apprehended.

But on another note, again, what if Walt doesn’t die by finale’s end?

And to completely veer from predictions: What does the teddy bear in season 3 symbolize?

TC: Did we ever make any connection with the bear and Jane because of that mural in her room showing the falling pink bear?

KC: NO. I thought we (Anth and I) had just made a connection with Walter wearing pink in the season 2 finale when the bear falls out of the sky. The bear is a representation of his world falling apart with Skyler kicking him out of the house. And the bear sinking into the pool represents Walt drowning in his loss.

TC: Hah, well I just sort of remembered something about the pink bear on Jane’s wall mural while her dad was getting her funeral dress, just a thought.

I remember reading a comment about it, went back and checked it out. It’s sort of eerie.


KC: No, I meant I didn’t realize not NO that’s a terrible idea.

TC: Oh, well check out the final episode of season two, like 24 minutes left in it, I just watched.

KC: I think the bear represents all the characters in season 2 at some point or another, with the final one being Walter. Just based on the cold openings:
  • Episode 1: No-Doze and Gonzo. No-Doze because Tuco beat the shit out of him (burns on bear), Gonzo because of the missing eye (when the cars fell on him).
  • Episode 4: Jesse. Bear is put in evidence bag, away from home; Jesse gets kicked out and is living in the RV.
  • Episode 10: Walt. Bear is placed in a container and cleanup is taking place, but there’s still a lot of work to do; Walt “quits”, gets Jr. drunk, fixes the water heater, discovers the “rot”, but then runs into two guys trying to get into the business and threatens them.
  • Episode 13: Jane/Walt. Bear leaves in van, smoking city is shown; Jane is dead from “crashing” into Walter White. She’s the bear being taken away in the beginning while the bear represents Walt falling to “safety” in the end.

TC: Looked way more into it than I did, but you have a strong analysis there.

KC: Just saw the bear picture in Jane’s room. Definitely think the girl in the art is her and Walter is the bear. The Moon and Saturn could be Jesse orbiting her since she became his world. Clock shows that her time is running out.

Feel free to move back to my finale questions and thoughts, this is getting heavy.

Clock shows time is running away from her, this was in the last episode of the season.

TC: I think I like it, but at same time I think the focus is on the girl and the bear because when I watched it, that was the main thing you got to see. And when you see it over the shoulder of her dad as he opens the closet door, that is all you get to see, both are falling, it definitely symbolizes her I think. Perhaps what I read in a comment, how the bear represents her, an innocent that Walt has led to harm. Even though he has tried to rationalize it, he is doing things that hurt people, even those he doesn’t know, as in the passengers of the two planes. Walt’s actions have far-reaching consequences than even he understands and he doesn’t find out until season three when he realizes it was Jane’s father that caused the accident.

KC: There’s a bear in the tree in the “Rabid Dog” episode, 12th of season five. It’s stuck in a tree representing Jesse falling right into Hank’s hands. I’m done now.


TC: Ha! How about we are too specific? I like the bear representing the far-reaching consequences, while Walt is “trying to do the right thing for his family”.

KC: Just watched the first episode of season 3, 167 people died. 167! All because Walt let Jane choke! This would be one of the great American tragedies if it really happened.

TC: Dude this would be, all because of a decision. I more like the morality tale of this, that one decision, one action, or inaction can lead to consequences that aren’t even considered.

KC: I was just about to say I agreed with you overall, far-reaching consequences would be the big picture. I’m nitpicking.

TC: By the way, do you really think Lydia will make it out? I mean, she is responsible for Todd putting the fear into Skyler, and I’m assuming the last episode takes place over a few months. Walt is probably going to figure out she had a hand in it and whatever else happens to Skyler and his family. I really don’t like her getting away scot free.

KC: We have three women left and I really think Marie and Lydia are the ones that live. Marie lost Hank, Walt loses Skyler, Todd dies, leaving Lydia behind after she somehow uses him. I didn’t take into account that a few months pass; Walt does have to drive cross-country with cancer wracking his body…

Fuck, Anthony might be right. Jesse will probably be dead before Walt even gets back to ABQ then. And I really think suicide might be how he does it. Then, when the Nazis find out Walt’s back in town, they’re determined to make him their new in-house cook.

But yeah, I really would like Lydia to bite it or go to prison or some shit.

Breaking Bad - Favorite/Hated Characters

Breaking Bad - Favorite/Hated Characters

Thomas Crawford: Jesse is my favorite, hands down. Jesse sort of represents human nature and the condition on the show. He goes to highs, lows; starts out as a punk that you hate, then you find out he has a soft side for his brother and kids in general. He needs some authority figures in his life to help guide him when he is in trouble, but who hasn’t needed that? He finds his way, loses it, finds it again. He makes mistakes, learns from them, then makes them again or something similar and gets burned.

Every person at the end of their life would look back and see a lot of the same things; they would have memories both good and bad, regrets, lost loves, hating themselves for some things, triumphs, etc. The only difference is that Pinkman experienced them all in a very condensed span of time. He just encapsulates what it means to be human. (Vocab five to myself for finally getting to use encapsulate).

Honorable mention, gotta throw it out to Saul Goodman, a slick man that you should hate but I love for being honest and a self-realized man. He knows he’s a scumbag, but he has his own code of honor and shows he isn’t spineless (telling Walt to turn himself in, only way he can save his family now). That’s just Saul, point blank, honest, even though he knows it’s not popular opinion. Also have to include Walt Jr./Flynn, the last two episodes have been crazy. He has sort of played the innocent character throughout, but also been able to stand up to his old man. He knows what is right and wrong in his mind, and have to give kudos.

My most hated character, Jane. Yes, there was some drama and pushed the story, but I mentioned before I don’t like that tool that much. The female antagonist coming between two male protagonists is easy; that’s why it’s over used. As it is, she just falls into that spot mostly because there were so few characters if any that I could say I truly hated. I didn’t hate Jane I guess, just didn’t like her role.

Kelen Conley: Jesse Pinkman is the winner of my favorite character sweepstakes as well. Which is almost as crazy of a turn as me hating McNaulty by the time I finished watching The Wire in full again. All through season 1 and season 2 and season 3, this kid is finding ways to fuck everything up time and time again. All Walt wants to do is get enough money for his family and this guy Pinkman…what a loser.

Then we get to season 4. Fresh from having to murder Gale, Jesse is out of fucks to give. Insane, never ending ragers at the house. Getting robbed and not caring. Little did he know that Gus was done with Walter White and wanted to see to it that Jesse was too. And it worked…until Walt lied his way out of a bullet to the skull.

Season 4 and 5 is when Jesse grew the fuck up finally. And that’s when I realized that BB was not only about Walt becoming a villain, it’s also about Jesse learning to change his life.

Honorable mentions: Hank Schrader, Gustavo Fring, Mike Ehrmantraut

Hated character: Todd Alquist. I think of Todd as Jesse’s evil twin: the kid who had it all coming up but then chose to hang out with his Neo-Nazi uncle after high school. He reminds me of one of those kids who would always come up short of expectations, but everyone liked him so much that they let him pass on that alone. And now I think I’m talking about myself a little bit. But this last half of season 5 has been his grizzly masterpiece, and I hate him for it.

Anthony Sellers: Favorite: Saul Goodman. As Thomas stated, he’s a self-realized man and always honest at every turn. Not only is he honest, but he has no regrets in life because he can accept who he is, the slum lawyer that talks money, at least to an extent. (That’s where his similarities go awry between him and Maurice Levy from The Wire, am I right?) What sets Saul apart from everyone else is the fact that he has all the connections, but is never in direct contact with those connections. (“I have a guy who knows a guy.”) Although I don’t think he ever thought he’d have to actually use any of those connections for himself. But that was the fine line he walked.

Most Hated: Huell Babineaux. Huell was good up till the point where Hank took him and punked his ass bigger than Kim Kardashian’s ass. He had that personality that was like, “Yeah, whatever happens happens.” Then Hank threatens him with death and he folded. Come On, Mannn.

Honorable Mention: Hank, because he was so dead set on the Sky Blue and he loved being a cop more than anything in the world. He was beyond passionate and let the whole “I’m a DEA Agent” get to his head. And he wanted to ram his authority up anybody who tried to get in his way! And that’s what gets him killed.

Breaking Bad - "Salud"

Breaking Bad - "Salud"

It’s rather fitting that Breaking Bad Week starts, well, late. After the train wreck (in a good way) glory that was “Granite State”, one could understand why I wasn’t eager to tackle my favorite episode quite yet. Despite some real debating, I didn’t choose “Granite State” as my favorite episode…yet. Maybe after multiple viewings, especially once I sit down and watch season 5 as a whole, it’ll come out at the outright winner.

I go back to the starting late, because I started watching Breaking Bad late. It wasn’t long after season 4 completed that I pressed play on the first episode on Netflix. While some viewers call the show’s pilot boring, I couldn’t help but keep watching after seeing Walt’s taped confession in the first 5 minutes.

The moment I knew I was hooked? “Cancer Man” when Walter blew up the car with the KEN WINS license plates. It was something we’ve all fantasied about doing to that oblivious douchebag that annoys us and is an underrated plot point in Walt’s journey to “breaking bad”.

Sure, he killed Krazy 8 the episode before but he didn’t want to. Hell, he was so naive that he was going to free him before he uncannily discovered the missing plate shard.

Now, we’re 5 days away from the series finale of what some are calling the best television show of all-time and it’s hard to argue against. I’ll have to take another complete viewing of The Wire for me to settle that dispute. But to pick just one episode as my favorite out of 5 seasons? It took some doing, but I decided on season 4′s “Salud”. But first, the honorable mentions:

  • Season 2, “Four Days Out”: Walt, Jesse, and a broken down RV in the desert. We also learn Walt’s cancer, his reason for cooking, is in remission.

  • Season 3, “Sunset”: Walt and Jesse get trapped in the RV again, this time in the junkyard with Hank right outside. Gus also sics the Cousins (Hector Salamanca’s nephews) on Hank in an attempt to divert them away from killing Walt.

  • Season 3, “Fly”: Walt and Jesse take on a fly that has infiltrated the superlab. A serious candidate for my favorite episode.

  • Season 4, “Face Off”: An episode where the series could’ve possibly ended on a high note. Gus meets his end and Walt declares victory.

  • Season 5, “Dead Freight”: The ultimate heist episode, as Walt, Jesse, and Todd rob a train for its methylamine.

  • Season 5, Part 2: I’m probably too close to this since it’s the most recent episodes but any one of these could be considered a favorite.

Of all 61 episodes that I’ve watched, why “Salud”? Because it eliminates our main character from the equation, if only for one episode. While Walt is busy recovering from the can of whoop ass Jesse opened up on him the previous episode (“Bug”) and spending “time” with Jr. on his 16th birthday, Gus, Mike, and Jesse all head to Mexico to meet with Cartel that Gus has been feuding with all season. After Jesse proves to the Cartel (and Gus) that he can cook almost as well as Walt, Gus tricks the Cartel into thinking that Jesse is theirs to keep, but ends up poisoning and killing every last one of them. At episode’s end, Jesse is driving a dying Gus and a wounded Mike the hell out of dodge.

This was the episode where I knew Jesse was my favorite character. I had been a Walt guy the entire series (and I still was rooting for Walt until he made off with Holly 2 episodes ago) and I found Jesse only fouled things up. But in this episode, not only did he cook well, he also defended his bosses by taking out Joaquin (and the last Salamanca remaining besides Hector), then drove them to safety.

This is the episode where Jesse could have been set for life. He wanted to cook and be in the meth business, he had a father figure in Mike, he was learning the hitman trade…this was his true chance to start over. All he had to do was get rid of the pesky allegiance to Walt and shoot him in “End Times”…but we all know how that turned out.

This episode really showcased just how much Walt was holding Jesse back at this point in time. Yes, Walt had pulled him into a lucrative partnership, got him clean of drugs, and saved his life (multiple times), but Walt never (and he still doesn’t seem to) respected Jesse. To his face. It’s a shame that he had to call out Jesse’s name as he passed out in front of Jr. this episode.

And that’s another thing, this episode is all about father/son relationships. Walt/Walt Jr., Walt/Jesse, Walt/his father, and Jesse/Mike. While Walt always says he started cooking meth for his family, we eventually learned that wasn’t true. But the main thing we’ve learned: Walter White is a terrible father/father figure. It’s pretty sad that the only time your real son thinks you’re honest is when you’re drugged out of your mind. And your former student/partner (who has a pretty shitty dad who seemingly gave up on him), just wants a pat on the back sometimes and you refuse to give it to him. Think of the Dr. Cox/J.D. relationship taken to the utmost extreme.

And one thing we know now that season 4 showed signs of: Walt’s egomania. As soon as Mike starts taking Jesse away from the cooks, Walt starts saying how it must be a ploy to get at him (“Cornered”). While he was ultimately right, he failed to mention how jealous he was of the fact that his partner was needed for something bigger than just cooking meth. He spent the rest of the season attempting to convince Jesse to turn on Gus and he couldn’t do it until he poisoned Brock.

And need I mention how cool it is how Gus took down the whole Cartel in one fell swoop? Despite his being the villain of Season 4, I always loved how the cool and calm Gus always had a plan. What seemingly looked like a trade in Mexico to get the Cartel off his back, turned into a decisive victory for Gus and company. There’s nothing better than a villain who can’t be bested at every turn and Gus was that right up until the end.

Of course, we now have the throwaway storyline with Skyler secretly giving Ted money to pay his taxes and then when he doesn’t she tells him the money was from her. I say throwaway because it’s pretty irrelevant to the final end game of the series, but really, she cooked Ted’s books and feared them both doing time. But by the time she gives him the money, the IRS already cut him a break due to her supposed “ignorance”.

To sum up, this episode had action, drama, storyline development, the total package. This would definitely be the episode I would use if I wanted to get someone hooked on Breaking Bad.

But you should be hooked way before this episode if you started from the bottom and now you’re here.

Nothing Was The Same reference. Checkmate.

Breaking Bad - "Fifty-One"

Summary: Walt and Walt Jr. get the old Aztec back from the shop. After spotting his Heisenberg hat in the back seat, Walt sells the Aztec impulsively and buys a Chrysler 300. Once he sees Jr.’s disappointment, he swaps his PT Cruiser out for a fresh Dodge Challenger. At Madrigal’s Houston offices, Lydia gets tipped off about a DEA visit just before Hank and crew show up. She leads them to Ron Forenall, and after they leave with Ron in custody, she calls Mike back to tell him she has no one to move the methylamine. Mike tells her he’ll send someone else. Walt gives Skyler more cash to launder and she responds by telling him she wants the kids out of the house. Walt blows her off and asks for a birthday party and a chocolate cake. The next day, Jr. has to beg Skyler to break Walt’s bacon into a 51. This also signifies that a year has passed in the series. Hank and Gomez are still trying to figure out the missing pieces of Gus’s empire and decide to follow Mike. Hank gets offered the ASAC job in Albuquerque and accepts. Walt leaves a cook with Jesse early so that he can attend his birthday party; Skyler instead fixes him a store brought meal. Marie tells Hank about Skyler's affair on the way to the White's house. During dinner with Hank and Marie, Walt thanks them for their support over the past year; Skyler says nothing and attempts to drown herself in their pool before Walt saves her. Jesse goes to the Houston Madrigal to pick up the latest shipment of methylamine, when he and Lydia discover a tracker on one of the barrels. Marie and Hank agree to keep Jr. and Holly while Skyler recovers; Walt is livid that Skyler found a way to disobey him even though Skyler was trying to keep to keep the children safe from their criminal activities. Walt dares Skyler to figure out a way to stop the kids from returning home, and when she can’t, she says she’s only biding her time until Walt’s cancer returns. Walt gets a call from Jesse the next morning, who informs him Mike is ready to kill Lydia because he believes she planted the tracker. After a vote saves Lydia’s life, Walt says that the cooks must not stop. Jesse gives Walt a watch for a birthday present, which Walt uses to tell Skyler that she’ll come around as Jesse has.


It’s pretty apparent after this episode’s cold opening that Walt is officially at zero fucks status. After returning (rather burning) Jr.’s flashy car in Season 4 because of Skyler’s protests, he is definitely beyond the point of caring about anyone other than himself now. Even though he still says things about his activities being for the family, he's been completely won over by being the head of a criminal enterprise.

Lydia's actions still seem super suspicious to me here. Even with just enough notice, she turns over her meth transport guy rather easily (and I'm sure he's going to get added to the hazard pay roster). I have a feeling that she's going to eventually turn on Walt, Jesse, and especially Mike, but she's just biding her time until the right moment.

Skyler seems to be coming out of her early season coma as she starts challenging Walt about keeping the kids in the house. And actually, this is one of her more reasonable requests even though Jr. is sure to get pissy about it. Lord knows the Whites have had a hell of a year; them needing time to mend their marriage through everything that's happened kind of makes sense...to everyone except Walt. He promptly smacks down the idea and instead asks for a party and a chocolate cake, like he's not running a criminal enterprise and they're just a normal happy family. Which in his mind, they sort of are.

Then for the third time in the series, we see Walt receiving a plate of bacon that gets broken into his age (this time at Jr.'s urging, Skyler ain't have no time for that).

And we've reached the year point! 4 and a half seasons have taken place in one year's time. This is a pretty ludicrous concept if you think about it. Mild-mannered Walter White goes from teacher and submissive husband to drug kingpin in a year? I'll give you 18 months or 2 years, but not one! But in the world of Breaking Bad, nothing should surprise me.

At this point, Hank and Gomey are grasping at straws. None of Fring's men will talk and the only lead they have is with air tight Mike. And I have a feeling Hank is going to cost himself his career over pursuing this case (and ultimately, his brother-in-law). He took the promotion but you know, Hank Schrader is one stubborn motherfucker.

And Skyler has gone from fear of Walt to total indifference in short order. From her "homemade dinner" to her after dinner swim to her smoking in the house at episode's end, you can see she's past her breaking point. All she wanted was the kids to be safe and Walt isn't having it. It couldn't have been that long ago in real time that Walt was ready to relocate the entire family. Maybe his cockiness is really shielding his fear of retaliation for everything he's chosen to do in the past year?

As hard as it is for me to write these words, Skyler White was the star of this episode. The last thing I expected was for her to attempt to drown herself (poorly, but still). I expected her to act out somehow as she's prone to do when she doesn't get her way but spraying her family members with blood from slitting her wrist was probably a little overdramatic, even for her. But the line she delivered about waiting for Walt's cancer to come back? STONE COLD. And it was one of the first times this season that Walt seemed truly affected by something going on around him.

Lydia is gunning for Skyler's "Most Hated Woman on Breaking Bad" title and her "discovery" of a tracking device when Jesse arrives for the pickup only furthers her case. One of the amazing traits that Jesse has retained the whole series is his reaction when shit goes bad and this is no different here. I personally wish that Mike had been there (impossible with the tail and the fact he's under suspicion as Fring's right hand) just so he could've shot her in the head the moment she started freaking out.

But in order to stay in the meth business, they need Lydia, so I was super torn between Mike and Walt in their final confrontation of the episode. Walt winning out stays true with his invincibility mode he's been flaunting all season but you still a get sense that this new meth partnership won't be lasting much longer. This is probably another reason why Walt doesn't want to stop cooking; he doesn't want to start over with new partners and he wants to take as much advantage of their current situation that he can.

The watch was a classic Jesse gesture towards how much Walt means to him even though Walt continues to never reciprocate. But in what had to be the weirdest episode ending ever, the watch ticks loudly as Walt sleeps and then seemingly explodes as we fade to black. While Jesse (or Mike) could have planted some form of bomb in the watch, that just wouldn't be Breaking Bad's style.

The watch ticked down and blew up like bomb so it's signifying the destruction of something or someone is the series. Here are some thoughts:

  • The final break between Skyler & Walt

  • Jr.'s relationship with Skyler is ruined

  • Maybe Mike killed Lydia behind Walt's back

  • Perhaps Jesse (or Mike) did plant a bomb in the watch

  • Maybe Walt's time on top is over

  • The DEA finally broke the case open

  • Or something happened to Jesse while Walt slept

All of this is mere speculation however, we could get to midseason's end and still not know what it meant. Or maybe that wasn't a bomb exploding...was it a gunshot? Did someone shoot Walt in the head? Skyler?!

I hate you Skyler.1

  1. I know, midseason has been reached and we're all waiting for an announcement for when the final episodes will air. But I've had this review partially finished for months now and I couldn't just delete it. I'll wrap up season 5 part 1 in one shot with the next Breaking Bad Hyphenated Review. You don't want to miss it! Excelsior!I always wanted to say Excelsior.


Breaking Bad - "Hazard Pay"

Breaking Bad - "Hazard Pay"

Summary: Mike visits the remaining members of his team to reassure them they”ll be reimbursed after the DEA took their Fring hazard pay. Walt moves back into the house much to Skyler’s dismay but keeps the condo for now. Mike, Walt, Jesse, and Saul visit locations for a new superlab and then decided to cook in houses that are meant for fumigation. They work with a crew/business named Vamanos Pest Control to accomplish this. Skinny Pete and Badger make an appearance but Jesse ignores their attempts to join the new business. Andrea and Brock drop in on Jesse and Walt’s final preparations and then Brock and Walt share an awkward silence. As Walt and Jesse cook their first new batch, Skyler breaks down in front of Marie. After Walt leaves Jesse with doubts about his relationship with Andrea, he is confronted by Marie at home. He tells her about Skyler’s affair and chalks her break down up to guilt and grief from Ted’s accident. Mike, Jesse, and Walt break down their profits from the first cook and Walt is unhappy with his take after Mike’s “taxes” (for hazard pay, Vamanos’ crew and distribution). Mike leaves and Jesse tells Walt that he broke up with Andrea. Walt ignores him and leaves him with a thought about the late Victor:
Victor trying to cook that batch on his own, taking liberties that weren’t his to take? Maybe he flew too close to the sun; got his throat cut.

And then Walt leaves, leaving Jesse with more questions than answers.

Thoughts: Sadly enough, this has been my favorite episode of the season, but for all the wrong reasons. I love that it got back to Walt and Jesse cooking, being a true team again. This is what made the first 2 seasons so memorable: the awkward, yet functional Walt/Jesse dynamic. Seeing them sit around and bullshit while they finished up their cook was one of the few moments Walt let his guard down recently, even as he manipulated Jesse out of his relationship with Andrea.

And that scene with Walt and Brock? Wow. Brock definitely recognized him. If he didn’t, I wouldn’t have expected Walt to be so weird. He’s never had trouble dealing with kids before then.

Mike continues to push to be my favorite character, as his combination of badass-ery and wisdom is the perfect blend at all times. And he’s still one of the few remaining characters in the series who’s able to stand up to Walt.

The mobile superlab idea is genius and I think the Vamanos crew is pretty trustworthy. But then again, I haven’t seen too many criminals in this series willing to run to the cops either. We’ll see how that holds up as we get closer to the series finale.

I’m pretty apathetic when Skyler is onscreen now. I almost wish she would start bitching and moaning like she used to. Walt has beaten her down in every facet and you have to give Anna Gunn all the credit in the world for this portrayal. I expect her to get a ton of more work following Breaking Bad‘s wrap.

I wasn’t totally surprised by her breaking down when Marie visited her at the car wash. And again, how this woman hasn’t went to the police is beyond me. Of course, that would mean the end of this wonderful 5 season narrative, but to not even attempt to contact the police? I suppose you have to chalk it up to battered wife syndrome as she fears for Walt Jr. and Holly’s lives. And she could never confide in Marie since she’s married to the very man who introduced Walt to the crystal meth business.

Walt’s ability to manipulate everyone continues to be the trait he’s had since episode 1. Telling Marie about Skyler’s affair is the closest he’s come to telling anyone outside of Skyler the truth…ever. And the fact he can still come off as “good ‘ol Walt” at the drop of a hat really tickles me. It makes me wonder about the events that led this brilliant man to the point he was at when the series started again.

I really love Skinny Pete and Badger. I know there’s no room for them in the narrative at this point but I always saw them and Jesse as a loveable gang. Spin these three off into their own sitcom and they could get through a season at least.

The final scenes with Walt, Mike, and Jesse are intense, with Jesse always seeming to be caught between his two dads. And it’s pretty apparent at this point that Walt’s ego will be his ultimate downfall. He’s convinced himself that Fring’s death means life is easy now. Mike, Skyler, and Saul have all tried to plead their case that the danger is far from over but Walt really believes that he’s won as he stated in “Live Free Or Die”. Jesse seems to believe this as well but ultimately, (unless Walt decides he’s a liability) he’s the only person who could walk away from it all and live a normal life.1 Walt’s determination to apparently replace Gus instead of simply trying to make a ton of easy (for him) money is going to be the final straw.

And I’m worried about how long Mike can keep all of his guys satisfied with their hazard pay cuts. Isn’t one of them eventually going to want to out the badass who’s still living free and happy while they sit in jail? Not that Mike hasn’t given them plenty of reasons not to confess but at some point, as much as I enjoy the suspension of reality that you have to accept with this series, in order for it to end: reality will have to return with a vengeance.

And as I told Thomas and Anthony the other night: I just hope the whole series wasn’t a bad dream of Walt’s that he had the night after he was diagnosed.

  1. Sure, Jesse’s murders of Gale or Joaquin could come back to haunt him. But I’m pretty sure both of those murders are chalked up to Gus or his criminal empire by now. Everyone he met in Mexico died on that same trip. So unless he’s caught being directly involved with the meth, he’s fine. And honestly, I don’t think anyone (other than Hank) would waste their time testifying about Jesse Pinkman, especially with a Walter White over his shoulder.


18 March 2016

Life In Morgantown: Gary's Comics And More

Life In Morgantown: Gary's Comics And More

Living in Capon Bridge, the closest comic book store was Four Color Fantasies in Winchester, VA. As often as my parents took me to get comics from there, most of my early collection came from the newsstand (yes kids, when I was a boy you could get comic books everywhere. The grocery store, the convenience store, drug stores, etc. It’s a shame they’re not readily available anymore). So when I moved to Morgantown in 2003, it wasn’t long before I ventured out of my College Avenue apartment and went exploring on High Street.

11 March 2016

Breaking Bad - "Madrigal"

Breaking Bad - "Madrigal"

When we last left our anti-heroes, they had just managed to wipe a hard drive containing video (and possibly other evidence) that had Walt, Jesse, and Mike all on the scene of the now destroyed superlab. Their methods of wiping the hard drive also destroyed a police evidence room and revealed a Cayman Island’s account in the name of one Gustavo Fring.

In this week’s teaser, we get our first glimpse into a company called Madrigal Electromotive and one employee named Peter Schuler. After a brief introduction of Schuler tasting sauces, he then proceeds to commit suicide in order to avoid the authorities who have came to question him. We later learn in the show that Schuler was fully aware of Fring’s meth dealings and that Madrigal was an apparent partner of Los Pollos Hermanos.

Jesse and Walt toss his house looking for the ricin cigarette from last season. It’s nice that they felt the need to tie up this loose end even after Brock was revealed to be poisoned by Lilly of the Valley. I don’t know when Walt was able to plant the fake ricin in the Roomba though, maybe when Jesse was in another room. The discovery of the cigarette fully brings Jesse back to Walt’s side and erases all the work Gus and Mike did last season to make him distrust his old teacher.

But…why would Walt hide an explosive in his own home?

The introduction of Lydia intrigues me to no end. Who is this woman? We know she works for a now fully cooperating Madrigal but what part did she play in the meth dealings? At first, I thought this was the wife I’m sure we heard Gus talk about before. Her true origins still a mystery, she asks Mike to kill all 11 men that were on Gus’s payroll at the time of his death. When Mike declines, she hires Chris Mara to do the deed and he succeeds in killing Chow before Mike ultimately kills him.

Her worries aren’t entirely unfounded. The Cayman Islands account revealed all 11 men who were on payroll and each man has been brought in and questioned. The DEA has already seized all of their money, including 2 million that Mike had in his granddaughter’s name. Unfazed, Mike is cool as ever when Hank and Gomez question him.

Walt and Jesse decide to get back to cooking meth (Walter is broke and they feel things will be different as owners) much to the dismay of Skyler, Mike, and Saul. Mike even declines partnership but we all saw that coming from a mile away. The duo push on, however, with methylamine and a new place to cook being the last essentials.

When Mike showed up in Houston to off Lydia, there seemed to be no way around it. But Lydia’s pitch to not let her child feel abandoned once her body disappears allows her a stay of exexcution and Mike asks her if she can still secure methylamine. With the deal done, Mike calls Walt and tells him he’s willing to be partners.

Satisfied, we end with another creepy scene of Walt crawling into bed with Skyler, with Skyler so paralyzed with fear that she can’t even face him. Walt leaves her with more excuses that the family is why he still does this as he kisses her back.

I still love Walt. I can’t help it. But it was a nice change of pace for this to be a Mike-centric episode. Mike has been a favorite character of mine since he cleaned up after Jane died and anytime we get more glimpses into his world makes me happy. I really hope he makes it out of this series alive.

It’s also great to see Hank back at full strength, even if he is bearing down more on his brother-in-law every week.

And at this point, there’s no reason to list who could out Walt and Jesse. It could be anyone at any moment.

And I love it.


Breaking Bad - "Live Free Or Die"


I’m a sucker.

I say that because at the end of season 4′s “Face Off”, I truly believed Walter White had won. With Gus Fring dead thanks to a little help from Hector Salamanca, I didn’t see anything stopping Walt and Jesse Pinkman from resuming their lives in season 5 with little to no problem.

Until my friend pointed out that it was Walt who poisoned Brock Cantillo. I had been duped to think that Brock had magically ingested the same Lilly of the Valley flower that was in Walt’s backyard. I had been so sucked into Walt’s efforts to save everyone from Gus that I couldn’t believe Walter had went after a child. Especially after a child’s death was the reason Jesse spiraled back into drug use in season 3′s “Half Measures”.

But I was wrong. And if there ever a point where the Walter White we met in season 1 died, it would have to be the moment he poisoned Brock. And that’s exactly where season 5 picks up.

But not before a classic Breaking Bad cold opening. Walt is seen with a full head of hair getting a plate of food from Denny’s, on what appears to be his 52nd birthday. He shares a back and forth with a waitress that reveals that he is not only in California, but also carrying around a New Hampshire license that pegs him as a Mr. Lambert. Heading to the bathroom, Walt meets up with his old gun dealer Lawson with exchanges and assurances following. After popping a pill and leaving a $100 tip, Walt picks up what he paid for: a M60 machine gun.

Opening credits.

Back in the present, we come back to Walt and Skyler’s conversation after Gus is killed in “Face Off” and then Walt speeds home to get rid of evidence. Walt Jr. comes home excited that Uncle Hank [Schrader] will be a hero while Skyler tells her husband she’s scared of him. It’s not until Walt takes another swig of his celebratory drink that he realizes he’s not clear yet.

They didn’t destroy the cameras in the superlab. And so much for a return to normalcy.

Walt has long passed the point of not caring as he easily manipulates a returning Mike [Ehrmantraut] into helping destroy evidence and scares Saul [Goodman] into keeping him on as a client. Jesse is following his lead as always and it looks like the White-Pinkman business is stronger than ever. This all hinges on when (not if) Jesse finds out about Brock and/or Jane [Margolis] and Walter’s roles in both of their undoings. Surely Mike will present this to him at some time considering how fond he is of him.

Jesse’s plan for the magnet was pretty brilliant and we see a little role reversal here. Where in earlier episodes, it was always Jesse finding ways to mess up, it was Walt who pushed the magnet to it’s peak and sent the truck flying into the police station wall. When questioned by Mike about his actions, Walt calmly says that he’s handled everything and doesn’t give it a second thought. He really believes he’s untouchable now.

My Skyler hate has subsided a little after this episode. I always felt like she had no right to question any of Walt’s motives after he came clean with her. Instead, she cheated with Ted. Walt repeatedly made efforts to reconcile their relationship despite the fantastic circumstances they now faced, but Skyler repeatedly shut him down. And when she gave Ted Walter’s money? I really thought he would choke the life out of her. He didn’t and the one thing that I think remains the same about Walter is that he does loves his family still. But Skyler (and the rest of the family) are all prisoners of Walter White now and it shows in the chilling last scene where he forgives Skyler for giving Ted his money. What she decides to do about it remains to be seen.

I didn’t realize that Walter was back to having no money though. With the car wash and with what was left from his crawl space money, I figured the Whites would still be okay. Walt’s borrowing of Jesse’s money for the magnet makes things look grim, however, and one can assume Walt will stop at nothing to replenish what he lost.

The logical thing for Walt to do would be to completely wash his hands of the meth business. He’s still in remission, he has his family, and Skyler even said he could stop cooking with the money coming in from the car wash. But the day Walter broke bad was the day that common sense also left his being. And the show would be a lot more boring.

With Gus’ hard drive wiped, Walter thinks he and Jesse are safe. The reveal of the Cayman Islands account will lead somewhere, though not directly to Walt as I thought he was always paid in cash. Next week’s episode hints at Walt, Jesse, and Mike getting the cooking business started up again, as Walt says, “The streets are paved with gold.” Let’s hope he’s learned from his previous street mistakes of season 2.

Characters who could factor into Walt and Jesse being outed:
Skyler, Ted, Saul (and associates), Mike, Hank, Gomez.

And don’t forget that Skyler told her lawyer about Walt in season 2. She would get disbarred but you never know who Walt has affected in some way he doesn’t know about yet.


Hyphen Nation - Episode #8: I Feel Petty

Hyphen Nation - Episode #8: I Feel Petty

In this episode, everybody gets it! And by that I mean that I talk about how I hold grudges (I was taught by the best) and how it feels when Seinfeld loses his Newman (it feels pretty great). I also spend some time talking about being just one of the girls (people like talking to me. It's a gift and a curse) and how I became enshrined in the Mario Kart Wii Hall of Fame (it's a real thing. You can totally look it up. You'll see a picture of my victims sad faces next to my name). I wrap things up by talking about how Steph Curry is having his moment and how I no longer lust after Little Caesar's bacon wrapped pizza.

I may also be muttering under my breath at times. It was a rough week.