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Five Cool Things and I Know This Much Is True

Cool things, I've got your cool things right here.
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This long lock-down, shut-in has created some interesting situations, not all of them bad. Don't get me wrong, I hate this virus and I want it to go away forever, but that doesn't mean it hasn't forced upon us some things that are good. For example, I've reconnected with some old friends. I stayed in touch with my old college buddies longer than most. For years we regularly e-mailed, called each other, and had periodic get-togethers. But then, like so many old relationships, especially those in which the participants live miles apart, the connections became fewer and far between. I

Phenomenacon 2020 Review: The First Online Paranormal and Occult Convention

A way to unite the "weirdo" community of the paranormal during this time of physical distancing.
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As the Spring moves towards Summer, for many of us these seasons are usually full of conventions. Conventions that celebrate our love of comics, the paranormal, and horror to name a few. But in the face of the COVID-19 precautions, many conventions have been cancelled. So what is one left to do? Attend an online convention, that’s what! And this past weekend I had the privilege to attend Phenomenacon, the first online paracon. From haunted places and psychic witches to UFO’s and conspiracy theories, this convention had a little bit of the paranormal and occult for everyone. Phenomenacon is the

'Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire' Original Video Game Soundtrack to be Released on LP for the First Time Via Varèse Sarabande Records

As part of the Shadows of the Empire multimedia project, a full soundtrack was composed by Joel McNeely and recorded with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.
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Press release: May the 4th be with you! In celebration of Star Wars Day, Varèse Sarabande Records is thrilled to announce the upcoming special release of the Original Video Game Soundtrack for Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire by GRAMMY-nominated composer Joel McNeely. The soundtrack will be released for the first time on LP and reissued on CD on August 7, 2020, exclusively from Varèse Sarabande Records. Pre-order for LP and CD are available now. Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire was developed and published by LucasArts for Nintendo 64 on December 3, 1996, and sold one million copies in

Five Cool Things and Movies from the 1930s

My movie theme for April was films from the 1930s, here are six cool ones.
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For the month of April, I decided that my theme should be movies made in the 1930s. Actually, my original plan was to do the 1940s but after watching several gangster movies made in the '30s last month and realizing that I'd only seen a handful of films from that decade, I made the switch. The 1930s were a fascinating time for film. The Jazz Singer, made in 1927, became the first financially successful "talking" picture. This created a rush in the production of other sound pictures, but the technology was still in development and most theaters were not yet

Five Cool Things and The Lemonheads

My house might be a wreck and my yard is a jungle, but I'm still watching some cool movies.
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I mowed and weed-eated my yard today. A small accomplishment I know, but one that felt good. Our house is a wreck. The garden lays fallow save for a few wild strawberries that have come back from last year's planting. Though we spend most of our weekends at home, we just can't find the energy to do much of anything. I know I'm not the only one who feels this way as my social media feeds are filled with people in similar situations. One of the odd things about this virus and the quarantine is that so many of us

Five Cool Things and Punky Brewster

Here are the cool things I consumed this week.
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Last weekend, I went for a walk around the neighborhood with my wife and young daughter. Along the way, she saw some of her friends playing in the yard. One of them ran over to my daughter to give her a hug. I had to shout at her, screaming that they shouldn't be touching each other. Later this week, my daughter had her birthday. All things considered, it was a good day. We Facetimed the grandparents to let them see her open her presents. Many of her friends did drive-bys; they pulled up to the curb and she got to

Five Cool Things and John Prine

It's a week full of gangsters, cool and otherwise.
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Many years ago, back when I was writing for another site, I requested to watch and review a new DVD set called Warner Gangsters Collection, Vol. 4. It contained five movies from the '30s and '40s starring guys like Humphrey Bogart, Edward G. Robinson, and George Raft. I was a pretty big Bogart fan at the time and gangster movies sounded fun so I was excited to find it in my mailbox. I watched The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse first because it starred both Bogart and Robinson and had that ridiculous title. I hated it. While I was already a fan

Five Cool Things and a Murder Most Foul

Another week of self-isolation, another week of cool things.
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This month's theme was movies in which one character or multiple characters were going mad. I called it March Movie Madness. I did pretty well for the first couple of weeks, and then the virus came and scared the crap out of everybody. Naturally, I turned to apocalyptic movies then. Turns out, zombies and viral outbreaks also tend to star folks who are going quite mad. So all and all, it hasn't been a bad month, theme-wise. But it wasn't as good as it could have been. What I've learned is that choosing a theme that involves something slightly intangible

Five Cool Things and (Another) Run

Never fear the viral outbreak has not kept me from consuming cool things.
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Week #2 of Coronavirus quarantine. I'm not actually all that shut-in. On normal days, I work from home about 50% of the time. The other time I'm in my truck driving to different jobs and doing various manual labor tasks, or going to the bank, or running to the city to pick something up. Most of those things don't really involve interacting with others face to face. While I am home working, my wife and child remained cooped up in the house and that brings lots of interference into my working day. That's not meant to sound like a complaint.

Thoughtful & Abstract: A Good Opinion Is Hard to Find

Shawn and Kim return to the fold with some random subjects but spot on opinions.
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It's been a minute rice since we put forth some of our Grade A, doctor-recommended, mother-approved opinions on pop culture and beyond. Instead of a focus on quality shows like The Walking Dead and Sons of Anarchy, we're going to provide you with a less focused set of thoughts that don't follow any established pattern or rules. Just soak in our brains on paper. KIM: There sure was a lot of brouhaha over the Superbowl Halftime Show this year. What with Shakira and J-Lo and all of the sparkly outfits and whatnot. I really didn't like the halftime show at

Five Cool Things and Another Five Things

After a week off, I'm back with many cool things.
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It has been a weird week. My wife's mother just had hip replacement surgery and the original plan was that my wife would be leaving us today to spend time with her mom. This coming week is Spring Break which means my daughter will be out of school. I still have to work and so there was a bit of a conundrum about what to do with the girl. I kind-of, sort-of work from home so we didn't need to find full-time childcare, but we also didn't want her to sit around watching TV all day. Nor would she be

Five Cool Things and Candyman (2020)

Foreign Film February comes to and end with a lot of very American movies and the conclusion of a terrific French series.
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I watched 23 films in the month of February. That's not quite one film a day but it isn't bad either. My theme this month was foreign films and I watched 14 movies not made in the United States and not initially using the English language. I write "initially" because I watched a few low budget Italian horror films and I could only find them in dubbed versions. Still, I call that a victory. My tentative theme for March is Madness. No, I won't be watching basketball movies, or even sports ones. But rather I'm using the basketball nomenclature and

Five Cool Things and Run

There's a little bit for everyone - Stephen King fans, French film buffs, Italian horror fans, arthouse nerds - in this week's cool things.
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Last month, I watched, on average, over one movie per day. I knew going into February I would not keep up with that schedule. My plan was to watch some of the many television shows I'd missed that everyone keeps talking about. I've managed to not only not watch as many films but also I've hardly watched any series. It has just been one of those months where my pop-culture consumption has been down. Luckily, this week the things I did consume happened to also be pretty cool and so I have plenty to talk about. Bed and Board The

Five Cool Things and The French Dispatch

Another week, more cool things.
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Last week, I talked about how the themes of this month were going to be foreign films and films made by and starring people of color, in honor of Black History Month. I have utterly failed on that last one. Films by people of color are a large hole in my cinematic viewing history and I really do need to start filling it. But like so many other times when I’ve failed at watching certain types of films during one month, it all comes down to availability. White males have dominated the film industry since there was a film industry,

The 2020 NAMM Show Review: There's More to the Music Business Than Music

An impressive endeavor with so many interesting things going on.
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The NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) Show traces its roots back to the NAPDA (National Association of Piano Dealers of America), which formed in 1901 and had its first trade show in 1902. It was first held in Anaheim, California in 1976 and has returned many times since. Attendance is open to NAMM members, “pro audio professionals and buyers representing non-member companies, venues and houses of worship, as well as music educators and music majors,” and members of the media. This was my first time attending, and while I have visited numerous trade shows over the years, including San

Five Cool Things and The Jesus Rolls

Foreign Film February is off to a great start.
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After a very successful January in which I watched many films from director Jean-Pierre Melville, I couldn’t decide on a theme for the month of February. I knew I wanted to go with some kind of topical theme rather than choosing another director or star as I feared choosing another director would mean that each month would be nothing but directors and perhaps actors, and it seems more fun to mix it up. Eventually, I narrowed it down to two choices: movies made by or starring African Americans as it is Black History Month, or foreign language films as Foreign

Five Cool Things and A Quiet Place Part II

January was a great month for cool things. Here's hoping February has just as many.
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I officially watched 34 movies in the month of January. That’s more than one movie per day. That’s a record for me. Only nine of those were movies I’d previously viewed. Six of those were from Jean-Pierre Melville, my Artist of the Month. I really enjoyed trying to watch a bunch of Melville films in January. I didn’t see all of the movies he directed but that’s a pretty good chunk. I’m not sure what my theme will be in February, but I’ll have to decide by tonight. I also suspect I won’t keep up my pace. There are a

Five Cool Things and the Year of the Rat

Happy Chinese New Year, everybody.
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I watched a lot less Jean-Pierre Melville films this week than I did last week. In fact, I only watched one, but it was a really good one. I'll probably try to catch another couple this coming week to finish out my month of Melville and then I'll have to decide what February's theme will be. But what I missed in Melville this week I made up for in lots of other random things. I tell ya, I must have been eating my Wheaties or something this month. I regularly struggle finding five cool things to talk about each week.

Five Cool Things and Neil Peart

This week I dig deep into French director Jean-Pierre Melville's films and we mourn the loss of a great drummer.
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For the last two years, I have spent the months of October and November viewing movies through a theme. In October, I’ve naturally watched as many horror movies as I could, and in November, I’ve been a part of #Noirvember (November + Film Noir). Like most people, I suppose I typically watched movies randomly. I turn on various streaming services, or look through my DVD collection and watch whatever looks interesting at that moment. It has been really fun to watch movies through a theme. At the end of both of these months, I’ve thought of ways of extending this

Five Cool Things and Another New Cat

Another week filled with cool new things.
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Last month, I finally broke down and subscribed to Disney+. With The Rise of Skywalker coming out, I knew we’d want to watch some of the films, and with my daughter off for Christmas break, I knew we’d enjoy watching some Pixar or Marvel movies. We’d also be spending a week at my in-laws with all my wife’s family so I figured I could bring my Amazon Fire box and we’d all enjoy Disney+ more than regular cable TV. All of this was true, but mostly I wanted to watch The Mandalorian, Disney+’s new Star Wars series. We had a

Five Cool Things and Hunters

A new year brings many new cool things.
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I hope everyone had a great holiday season. I had a great time with mine and my wife’s family. I received some wonderful gifts (including that spectacular Godzilla set from Criterion and some Grateful Dead socks). I also got some much-needed rest. With a couple of weeks off, I have lots of cool things to talk about. It was really hard to just pick five, but never fear, I’m sure I’ll slip some of the things I consumed over my break during the next few weeks. Universal Horror Collection, Vol. 3 This collection from Shout Factory continues to cover Universal

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Movie Review: The Sinking of the Sequel Trilogy

Am sorry to see the film and this new trilogy falter as much as it did.
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This franchise became so controversial after The Last Jedi I should probably state where I stand in the Star Wars wars. As stated in my reviews, The Force Awakens has “enough entertainment to satisfy fans new and old, even though the script is filled with repurposed plot points and questionable character motivation.” “The plot [of Rogue One], specifically character choices and motivations, is not well thought out, and at times the film gets a little too inside baseball for those not part of the cult.” The Last Jedi's “plot is overstuffed and at times nonsensical, leading to a lot of

Five Cool Things and Wonder Woman 1984

My last cool things until 2020
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It is, as the song says, beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Around here anyway. The tree is up, stockings are hung, presents are piling around the room. We don’t have a fireplace and there is no snow, but Christmas is certainly coming. This means two things for me and this little column. This time of year means the prestige, Oscar-hopeful films are all in the theaters and the big boxed sets and designer blu-rays are being released in hopes of catching all that Christmas money. I’ve spent the last week or so watching numerous films in a couple

Five Cool Things and No Time to Die

Even a head full of junk can't keep me from cool things.
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I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I enjoyed some time with my family (who I don’t see that often even though we all live in the same town) and ate way too much turkey and pie. Obviously, I took the week off from writing about Five Cool Things, but I did, in fact, consume many cool things over the last few weeks, so let’s talk about them. Briefly. Truth be told, this post-Thanksgiving week I’ve felt pretty miserable. Change in seasons always mess with my allergies and this week has been a doozy. I’ve not been sick-sick, so I’ve

Five Cool Things and Honey Boy

I watched some movies this week, and rediscovered an old game.
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This week, I saw consumed some new things, but mostly revisited older ones. I also found and rediscovered things I thought were gone. I bought a Kindle back when my eight-year-old daughter was just a baby. I bought the cheap one, without any fancy software that lets you do things besides reading (because I knew I'd do everything but read on it if it was available). I wanted to be able to read with one hand so I could hold her in my lap while doing it. I loved it. Still do, actually. I'm still a huge fan of real

Five Cool Things and Knives Out

Who needs Disney+ when we've got the Criterion Channel?
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Disney+ launched this week and it seems to be all anyone can talk about. When it was initially announced, I was excited about it. Figured I’d subscribe the very first day, and thought it might be a replacement for Netflix. Now that it's launched, I find I’m not all that interested. The thing is I already own the good Marvel movies, or I’ve watched them recently, and the other ones I’m not all that keen to see again. Ditto with the Star Wars films. There are some Disney animated films I’d like to see again, but those aren’t the type

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw Blu-ray Review: A High-Quality, High-Definition Experience

Fast and furious enough to please fans and those looking for a ridiculous action movie.
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The folks behind the Fast & Furious franchise took two of their most bankable actors, Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham to lead the spin-off Hobbs & Shaw and followed the series' successful formula: over-the-top action scenes set around the world combined with a focus on family. The movie was previously reviewed this summer. The Blu-ray's video has given a satisfying 1080P/AVC encoded transfer displayed at an aspect ratio of 2.39.1. The colors shine in brilliant hues. Blacks are inky and whites are accurate. These elements contribute to the strong contrast which is most evident during the split-screen introduction of our

Five Cool Things and Martin Scorsese Takes on the MCU

I am joined by a guest this week.
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We are right smack in the middle of Noirvember and it has been super fun reading everybody's discussions on the various film noirs they've been watching. My own experience has been pretty good. I've seen some excellent noirs, some not so excellent, and I've gotten distracted by films that aren't noirs at all. I finished a couple of horror films that I didn't get to during last month's 31 Days of Horror film watch. Also cool this week, I am joined by a guest and fellow Sentry, so let's get started. The Blob (1958) The wife and I started this

Five Cool Things and The Witcher

Halloween may be over but we've got some scary cool things to talk about.
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My apologies for missing last week. My wife and I both came down with some nasty cold/allergy/flu thing and I just wasn’t up to writing about cool things when I was feeling so bad. But never fear, dear reader, I consumed many cool things during these last two weeks and I am ready to talk about them. Today, is, of course, November 2nd, which technically means the end of Halloween season (and begins the most excellent Noirvember), but for one more day, we will be talking about a lot of horror movies. So sit back, grab your best stabbing knife,

Five Cool Things and The Laundromat

Cool things abound this week, come inside and find them.
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My wife’s folks are in town for the weekend and my daughter is dying for us to take her to the pumpkin path so let’s get to what was cool this week. And Soon the Darkness This very British and very early 1970s thriller finds two young women traveling through the French countryside by bike. After a heated argument, one of them travels to the next village while the other stays back to sunbathe next to a small grove of trees. She is never seen again. The film then follows the first girl as she tries to find out what

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