West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 6/7/24

Well, your ol’ pal Will’s done it again. I got into another social media snafu over on Threads and, well, I think I might be done over there. You’d never believe the reaction I got to this:

Over on Twitter? Perfectly rational. Hell, even Bluesky didn’t blow a gasket. But Threads?! Well, you can see the most recent engagement counts right there. Nearly 500 people agreed with me, but there were still 70-ish folks (you’ve got to remember that some of those 166 replies are mine) who still had something to say about it. And many of them were BIG MAD. They called me “stupid”, you had the usual “Delete this trash take”, and one told me “Watch your tone, little boy”, but then hid behind her autism when I called her on it. They acted like I was such a moron for expecting efficiency from this newfangled setup, when “obviously” it was developed to control traffic flow. These people are being VERY shortsighted.

It’s sort of amusing when people talk to me like I’m just any Internet Rando, not knowing where I come from. I’ve worked in commercial real estate. I know all the terms: frontage, outlot, pad site, signage, abut, etc. A dual drive-thru manages traffic flow for a restaurant situated on a main street. However, if this fast food establishment is located, say, in a larger parking lot of a shopping center, this dual system isn’t doing much. Let’s focus mainly on McDonalds here, as folks loved to cite Chick Fil A, despite my explaining early on why they weren’t in this discussion (online folks hate their politics, yet their customer service is second to none). If the restaurant isn’t efficient, all the dual drive-thru does is it causes the restaurant to fail twice as many customers. These people don’t seem to understand that efficiency and the design have to work in unison, or it’s – as I said – merely an optical illusion. The same way comics and soap operas give their fans the semblance of change, without providing actual change, these setups make you think they’re handling more customers, when they’re not pulling it off.

I said many times that it could just be a local issue but, at my McDonalds, there are NOT two employees on the drive-thru, so right there you’re already starting off on the wrong foot, as the system was designed for two. While the dual drive-thru alleviates traffic concerns at the street, the restaurant can’t process the cars in a timely manner, leading many to be directed to the drive-thru waiting area. Since most restaurants have fewer of these spaces than the mobile order pickup spaces, you’ve simply caused a traffic congestion issue at the end of the exchange, as opposed to at the street. Same problem you had before, and the law of conservation holds that 8 cars are 8 cars, and it matters little if it’s one line of 8, or 2 lines of 4, if there’s only 1 person processing them. But I’m the moron. Somebody better call Cornell and tell them to take back this degree of mine!

Anyway, this exchange just reminded me how much I’ve come to hate social media. I used to really love it, and I met a lot of great folks on there. The inmates are now running the asylum, however, and it no longer brings me joy. So many people want to be assholes to a stranger, and then run and say “He hates autistics”. No, really, some dummy said that about me in the replies. I didn’t know she was autistic! Who isn’t somewhere on the spectrum these days?! That’s why it’s a spectrum! Still, I’ve probably got a longer rant in me about this, but it really comes down to no one wants to compromise or even attempt to communicate effectively. There’s a lot of “I don’t want to interact with that person because I hate their politics and/or opinions!” Well, that’s admirable, but sometimes that person underwrites your mortgage or runs HR at your job. There’s a lot of “My way, or the highway” lately, resulting in a lot of folks with their thumbs out on the side of the road. If we don’t re-learn how to speak to strangers respectfully, with civility, we’re in more trouble than folks realize. In any case, moving forward, I’m only posting links on Threads. If I interact with anyone, it’s gonna be someone I already know from elsewhere. As for my future online, well, let’s just say I’m working on something. Hopefully, I’ll have news soon. Meanwhile, I just dusted off my Tumblr, so I can kick it old school for a bit. If you’re still over there, come find me.

Trailer Park

Venom: The Last Dance (Theaters, October)

I still haven’t seen the second one. When this franchise started, I was really wrapped up in MCU Continuity, and had no real interest in things that didn’t “count”. That said, I enjoyed the first Venom, even though Tom Hardy wasn’t Eddie Brock. In fact, I don’t think any of the movies have gotten Brock right yet. There was that brief window when they were trying to make Topher Grace happen, and he was ALL wrong. I think it comes down to the character itself. Brock was a photojournalist who was also drawn like a “street tough”. So, while Grace looked like he could take pictures, he didn’t look like he could win a fight. Hardy looks like he could win a fight, but doesn’t look like he could take pictures. I’m saying that the character was flawed at the outset, so Hardy is closest to what I’ve imagined, but he’s still missing something. Anyway, Chitlin Ejector is here, which clearly means they want him to lend some gravitas to this thing.

Piece By Piece (Theaters, October 11)

You’ve got to wonder what’s going on in the heads of these studio execs. So, Focus Features is a Comcast company, right? So, if they wanna throw this up on Peacock for some interesting content, have at it. But a theatrical release?! REALLY?! I’m not sure there are enough LEGO fans who love Pharrell or enough Pharrell fans who love LEGO. The crossover audience for this feels NICHE. Not to mention that the whole LEGO gimmick feels sort of tired to me. We always forget that LEGO was making those shitty Cartoon Network specials for the DC characters before we ever got those theatrical releases. So, many of us witnessed the growing pains, but also saw the big screen success. This almost feels like a step backwards, and I’m just not seeing the purpose here. So, that’s gonna be a “no” from me, dawg.

The Killer’s Game (Theaters, September 13)

Pom Klementieff trying to kill Dave Bautista? It’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 4! Did anyone else feel like there was some sort of TikTok filter applied to Dave’s face? He looked…off. Anyway, this looks great. I’m sure folks will make John Wick comparisons, but I only saw one of those movies, so the whole concept is still fresh to me. Plus, though uber violent, it feels like a different type of violence, if that makes sense. Anyway, I can’t wait!

Will Around The Web

Whenever Adam and I are invited on a podcast as a “package deal”, I’m going to refer to it as #RememberThatShowWorldTour. I guess you could say the tour kicked off with our guest appearance on After Lunch a few months back, and the train keeps chugging along. The next stop, which was released this week, was our visit to the Totally Rad Christmas podcast. Its host, Gerry, invited us on to discuss the Christmas episode of the little-known 80s CBS sitcom E/R. Starring Elliott Gould, this would actually be the first time George Clooney would throw on scrubs. We were so impressed by this short-lived series that we thought it would be a perfect subject for Remember That Show? So, check out Gerry’s episode, and then look for our “spiritual sequel” next week!

Links I Loved

Longtime visitors to the site will remember this feature, where I post links to things I read that week that I wanted to boost. I had stopped doing it because, well, no one was clicking the links. Anyway, I’m really getting into this whole “Give people their flowers while you can” philosophy, and I feel there’s just not enough unpaid promotion online these days. Not to go all Sunday School on ya, but y’all love to “hide it under a bushel” lately. You repost your best friends and whatnot, but there’s not a ton of “community building” going on. Everything feels transactional, like “Can I leech off this person’s fan base?” So, I felt the need to bring this back.

This week, I want to focus on the blog AEIOU and Sometimes Why. I can’t even tell you how long I’ve known Dex online, as he’s one of my blogging OGs. And while many have quit (“We lost a lot of good men out there”), he has kept chugging along. AEIOU is a pop culture blog that skews towards horror and film. My favorite feature of his is the Monthly Media Recap, where he reviews all of the media he consumed the month prior. I’m the furthest thing from a horror fan, but his reviews have really gotten me interested in things I never would have gravitated toward on my own. I know my audience and online circle well enough to know this is right up some of y’all’s alleys, so please go check out this site if you haven’t done so already!

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • The Mike Tyson/Jake Paul exhibition fight has been postponed, due to Tyson experiencing an ulcer flare up. Ya know, Paul might have been on track to win that thing after all!
  • Charlie Hunnam has been cast as the lead in the Amazon Prime Video adaptation of the Criminal comic series by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips.
  • Speaking of Amazon Prime Video, they’ve ordered another reboot of American Gladiators.
  • The CW finally gave a formal renewal to Penn & Teller: Fool Us, as well as a renewal for an abbreviated season of All American.
  • James Gunn announced that SNL alum Beck Bennett would portray supporting Daily Planet character Steve Lombard in the upcoming Superman film.
  • As those legal fees ain’t gonna pay themselves, it was announced that Alec and Hilaria Baldwin will star in a TLC reality series coming in 2025. I just might have to watch that trainwreck…
  • Former Boy Meets World actress Trina McGee announced that she is pregnant at age 54. Man, between her and Maitland Ward, I just don’t even know what to think of those BMW girlies these days.
  • I went from 6 to 12 when I learned Hayley Atwell would be the next Lara Croft. Then I learned it was an animated project for Netflix, and went right back down to 6.
  • Expect applications to Soda Medical School to increase, as it was reported that Dr. Pepper has surpassed Pepsi to become the #2 most popular soda in the US.
  • JLo’s marriage is seemingly falling apart, and she announced the cancelation of her tour this week. At least her Netflix movie seems to be doing well…
  • Suzanne Collins is working on a new Hunger Games novel, Still Hungry, Still Gaming, slated for release in 2025. I made up that title, but I dare her to come up with anything better!
  • Does Maroon 5 even make music anymore? I guess not, as Adam Levine confirmed he’ll be returning to his spinning chair on The Voice, having left the show in 2019. He’s slated to return for Season 27, even though Season 26 hasn’t aired yet, but is expected in the fall.

Eminem and Britney Spears have something in common. No, it’s not that they both slept with Justin Timberlake. No, it’s not that they both have Elton John’s number saved in their phones. It’s that every time they release a new album, the media brands it as a “comeback”. Any other artist can take a break, come back, and it’s just “Here’s a new album by Gwen Stefani” or whatever. But these two are such icons in their own respects (One of the best rappers of all time/Triple Threat Gay Icon) that the fan bases put them on such pedestals that every new release is unfairly expected to reach the unattainable heights of their former releases. As a result, each new album “disappoints” all but the diehard fans, while the casuals and the normies adopt an almost “There’s always next season” approach. Well, it’s time for Eminem’s latest comeback, and this is a special one for me.

Eminem released the video for “Houdini”, the lead single from his upcoming album, The Death of Slim Shady (Coup de Grâce), which is a meta callback to his 2002 hit “Without Me”, right down to the video. Now, I’m a weird guy, and weird stuff brings me to certain artists. I only discovered Westlife because of their name, and I only became an Eminem fan because of the Batman 66 homage of the “Without Me” video. Yeah, he had already done both The Slim Shady LP and The Marshall Mathers LP, but I felt like he just kinda made music for angry, disturbed kids. In “Without Me”, however, I felt like we saw a little more of his goofy side, and that’s what won me over. I was actually studying abroad in London when his album The Eminem Show was released, and I ran down to HMV on the High Street to grab a copy. Funny story: The CD came packaged with a bonus DVD, but it’s in PAL format, so I’ve never actually been able to watch it. I’m sure whatever’s on it has been on YouTube over a decade at this point.

The thing I love most about the “Houdini” concept is that it tackles what would happen if old school 2002 Eminem was pulled to the present to meet 2024 Eminem. What would they think of each other? And for most of the song, it’s basically Older Em sort of critiquing how he used to handle things. And you think he’s going to acknowledge he’s since grown. Then, at the end, he swerves, and you realize he hasn’t really changed all that much. He hasn’t changed, but it’s the world that changed. Now, there are aspects about this that are problematic, as I’ve already said that he basically used to make “school shooter music”. But there’s something to be said for the “Never Change” philosophy. What if we all had followed that hallowed advice that was written in our high school yearbooks? I dunno. It’s a lot to think about really. In what begins as a self critique turns into a critique on modern society. And, not to get all “Boomer” about it, but it sort of comes full circle with how I started this post: No matter where you look, this world ain’t on a great path. That’s in many sectors, but at the end of the day, we just don’t deal with it because we no longer know how to talk about things. So, again, a lot to take in. And I’m not necessarily condoning receiving life lessons from Marshall Mathers but, in this case, I’ll allow it. So, that’s why Eminem’s “Houdini” had the West Week Ever.