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WWE SmackDown LIVE

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Photo Courtesy of WWE.com

Event: WWE SmackDown LIVE

City Attended: Providence, RI

Venue: Dunkin’ Donuts Center

Concert Date: 05-22-19

The Reason We Went: As children of the 1980s, we grew up with the understanding that if we trained, ate our vitamins, said our prayers and believed in ourselves that we could grow up as strong and raspy-voiced as Hulk Hogan. We idolized The Rockers, snapped into Slim Jims because Randy “Macho Man” Savage suggested it and loved to hate heel managers like Bobby “The Brain” Heenan. And now, 30+ years later, our kids are enjoying the same experience as they pour themselves into every pulled punch of current roster stars like The New Day, Becky “The Man” Lynch and Braun Strowman. It’s a shared experience that we can have with our kids that transcends generations, and in a world that is moving at the speed of light, it’s nice to have something that, while much different than the WWF that we enjoyed at their age, is essentially operating under the same set of rules.

What We Thought: With a big focus on character returns, including The New Day’s Big E and newly-formed heel Dolph Ziggler, the night offered a lot of surprises for those who don’t follow Internet spoilers. There was plenty of foreshadowing, including a main event between Roman Reigns and Elias, that further set the table for Reigns versus Shane McMahon at the upcoming WWE SuperShowdown on Friday June 7. Becky Lynch induced the most raucous pop from the crowd as the Rhode Islanders in attendance went nuts for the charismatic bad girl with good intentions. All in all, it was a night that both the young (our kids) and the old (us) could enjoy.

Bonus Takeaway: Live WWE events are a blast, but it can be jarring to watch the matches without the color commentary, which in our opinion, always enhances the action by way of propelling the narrative forward or injecting a dose of humor. Why not stream that commentary through the stadium speakers or at least offer up a way for those in attendance to listen live from their mobile devices? Hell, if we willingly paid $6.00 for a bottle of water, we’d be happy to pay for a chance to further enhance the experience.

And that’s why we’re giving this show…

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John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum

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Title: John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum

Rated: R

Genre: Action/Thriller

Release Date: May 17, 2019

Run Time: 2 hours 10 minutes

Starring: Keanu Reeves, Halle Berry, Ian McShane, Lance Reddick, Mark Dacascos, Asia Kate Dillon

Director: Chad Stahelski

Writers: Derek Kolstad (Story and Screenplay), Shay Hatten (Screenplay), Chris Collins (Screenplay), Marc Abrams (Screenplay)

Reason We’re Watching It: The first two installments of “John Wick” were nothing short of cinematic action masterpieces. It’s a simple plot, but it’s done so well and with such a likeable cast of characters that you can’t help but overlook their murderous ways and root for them like they’re your hometown team. So, with that in mind, you can bet that we will be it the front row of every “John Wick” installment ready to root, root, root for the Mr. Wick team.

What It’s All About: “Parabellum” picks up immediately where “John Wick 2” left off. Mr. Wick has become excommunicado with a $14 million bounty on his head as a result of killing a member of The High Table in The Continental hotel. There are plenty of twists and turns along the way that weave a narrative tapestry, as well as amazing fight sequences and even glimpses into John Wick’s upbringing and training.

Whoah! Rewind That!: There were so many great fight scenes it’s hard to pick one moment, but it was pretty great to see Charon (Lance Reddick) offer up his concierge services in ways we have not seen before in the “John Wick” films.

Watercooler-Worthy Tidbit: Ian McShane will inform you of this in the film, but “Parabellum” is from the Latin phrase: “Si vis pacem, para bellum,” which means, “If you want peace, prepare for war.” It is also another name for the 9mm handgun cartridge.

And that’s why we’re giving it…

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The Dirt

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Title: The Dirt

Rated: R

Genre: Biopic/Drama

Release Date: March 22, 2019

Directed By: Jeff Tremaine

Starring: Machine Gun Kelly, Douglas Booth, Daniel Webber, Iwan Rheon, Levan Rambin, Pete Davidson, Tony Cavalero, David Costabile, Rebekah Graf

Reason We’re Watching It: This one’s easy. We grew up in the ‘80s. Mötley Crüe is part of the soundtrack to our impressionable pop culture-inspired lives, so naturally we’d be interested in learning more about how that soundtrack came to fruition.

What It’s All About: From humble (and dysfunctional) beginnings to superstardom, this Netflix biopic is the feature film adaptation of the best-selling Mötley Crüe biography of the same name. While it shows the ups of rock ‘n’ roll fame, mostly it focuses on the downs, which plagued the band member’s personal lives. From addiction to loss, no one inside the band was immune, and while they have since retired from the stage, the four musical misfits found a family among themselves and will forever be a part of the mainstream musical tapestry.

One big area where the filmmakers missed an opportunity was including more of the band’s iconic songs throughout the course of the film. Unlike “Bohemian Rhapsody” which made the tunes a marquee-sharing costar, many of the Crüe’s hits were left on the editing room floor. You can’t get pumped when there’s no track to pump your first to.

Whoah! Rewind That!: The urban legends surrounding Ozzy Osbourne seem limitless, but seeing him onscreen – or at least Tony Cavelero portraying him – sniffing live ants off of concrete is worth a second “Oh no he didn’t” viewing.

Watercooler-Worthy Tidbit: “Game of Thrones” fans will recognize the actor who plays Mick Mars as Iwan Rheon, otherwise known as the most evil onscreen SOB ever to be eaten by a pack of hungry dogs, Ramsay Bolton.

And that’s why we’re giving it…

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Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds

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Photo By: Shervin Lainez

Artist: Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds

City Attended: Fall River, MA

Venue: The Narrows Center

Concert Date: 01-25-19

The Reason We Went: With a mesmerizing, grandiose voice that can transport you into any song, original or cover, Sister Sparrow, aka Arleigh Kincheloe, has wowed us with her studio recordings – including 2018’s Gold – so we made it our mission to observe her in the wild, uncaged and set free to fly above an audience.

What We Thought: Those Dirty Birds can chirp! While Kincheloe is clearly a star who effortlessly commands your attention, the band that surrounds her is flocking fantastic. Each member of the seven-piece musical ensemble had their individual moments to shine, including a rousing trumpet solo by Phil Rodriguez that brought the crowd to its collective feet. Keyboardist Nat Osborn also oozes star quality, which shined through as he handled partial vocals on a cover of Toto’s “Rosanna” while remaining an enchanting focal point throughout the set. Kincheloe meanwhile didn’t disappoint, moving us with her wide-ranging vocals and entertaining us with her natural stage presence. One thing was made clear by the end of the night… see this band live because they will exceed every single expectation.

Bonus Takeaway: The venue was fantastic for soaking in the sound of a live performance, including the opening act, Boston-based GA-20, who played a spirited blues set that inspired us to listen to some Buddy Guy on the ride home following the show.

And that’s why we’re giving this show…

Check out our interview with Kincheloe here.

The featured photo is not from the actual show. Courtesy of the Sister Sparrow Twitter page @SisterSparrowDB.

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98º

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Artist: 98º

Tour: 98º at Christmas 2018

City Attended: Medford, MA

Venue: Chevalier Theater

Concert Date: 12-08-18

The Reason We Went: Discovering fun holiday-related things to do throughout the month of December always gives a shot to the arm of the ye olde spirit meter. The childhood-like nostalgia of hearing harmonized vocal renditions of Christmas classics is about as good as it gets in that regard, an audible tree topper on the entire season.

What We Thought: At their peak in the late ‘90s and early 2000s, 98º was a chart-topping, platinum-producing, hit-making machine. Lumped into the boy band craze of that particular time period, they were often compared to the Backstreet Boys, yet always considered themselves more Boyz II Men. Like its four members, the fans who adored 98º two decades ago have since grown up, but apparently absence has made their harmony-loving hearts grow fonder. Screams permeated the theater as the quartet delivered a two hour set of both holiday favorites and some of the biggest hits from their own catalog of music, which the mostly middle-aged crowd of women excitedly unwrapped like presents on Christmas morning.

Show Highlight: We’re suckers for the classics, especially the off-beat ones. The group’s rendition of “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” was extremely entertaining, highlighting the fun that they themselves are having reconnecting with old favorites, both songs and fans alike.

For upcoming dates, click here.
To read our interview with 98º member Jeff Timmons, click here.

And that’s why we’re giving it…

 

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Tulsa Pop Culture Expo

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Event: Tulsa Pop Culture Expo

Rated: Good for ALL ages, especially the kiddos.

Event Date: November 2nd to 4th, 2018

The Reason We Went: The Midwest used to be a barren desert for comic conventions, let alone pop culture cons, but that has been changing recently. The demand for pop culture fandom is very strong in the Midwest, and that need was not being met, until… the Tulsa Pop Culture Expo came along! While Tulsa does host a Wizard World comic con on occasion and an anime con, this is the first show to represent all things pop culture under one roof and they work very hard to make this an all-ages family event that everyone can enjoy.

What We Thought: This was our first visit to this convention, so we weren’t sure what to expect. Would people turn out? They definitely did! On Saturday, cars were parked in the grass, on curbs – basically anywhere there was available space. Like a kid’s first trip to Disneyland, we lit up when we saw a giant metal robot staring down at an oversized drivable banana. We knew we were in for a fun time right out of the gates.

Even though two celebrity guests had to cancel last minute, Tulsa Pop stepped up and immediately booked Brandon Routh, Superman to some, and Katie Cassidy, one of the lead actresses from the hit CW show “Arrow.”

The variety of the booths on the con floor ranged from comic book artists to pop culture soaps to action figures. Having this diversity at a con is refreshing because each booth was so different. You’re not walking an aisle looking at 20 booths of T-shirts.

Show Highlight: The kid section of this event was something to behold. Young, aspiring wizards could get sorted into their Hogwarts House and decorate a wand, as well as receive an acceptance letter to the wizarding school. They also had loads of retro arcade video games and cutting-edge VR games available at all times, for everyone to enjoy. There was even a children’s cosplay contest that boasted a Deathstroke and Harley Quinn that could rival any of the adult costumes.

Closing Thoughts: Word on the con floors is that this event was even bigger and better than last year and that they are already planning 2019’s Tulsa Pop Culture Con. After the pleasant experience we had at this convention, which had more of a sense of community rather than a bunch of clamoring fan boys, we will definitely be back, perhaps with a booth of our own!

And that’s why we’re giving it…

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Trunktober: Gremlins

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This October we’re focused on one thing and one thing only… watching as much horror-related programming as possible to prime the pop culture pump in celebration of Halloween. Our consuming will be taking place nightly, and while there’s no rhyme or reason to how we’re going about choosing our scary screenings, we’ll do our best to tell you how we did it so that you can watch them as well.

Title: Gremlins

Directed By: Joe Dante

Starring: Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, Judge Reinhold, Corey Feldman, Jonathan Banks, Howie Mandel

We Watched On: Amazon Prime (rented for $3.99)

Trunktober Approved Because: Our introduction to the horror/comedy hybrid genre, “Gremlins” also featured our first crush (Cates) and our most sought after childhood pet (mogwai). It is a true classic in every sense of the word, and while we love it, we haven’t eaten after midnight since 1984.

Biggest Scare: We’re still tortured by the horrifying images of the Gremlin leader Stripe melting at the end of the film. Nightmare material!

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Trunktober: Supernatural

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This October we’re focused on one thing and one thing only… watching as much horror-related programming as possible to prime the pop culture pump in celebration of Halloween. Our consuming will be taking place nightly, and while there’s no rhyme or reason to how we’re going about choosing our scary screenings, we’ll do our best to tell you how we did it so that you can watch them as well.

Title: Supernatural

Episode: “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester”

Directed By: Charles Beeson

Starring: Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles, Misha Collins, Ashley Benson, Robert Wisdom, Don McManus

We Watched On: Netflix

Trunktober Approved Because: You didn’t think we’d get through an entire spooky season without throwing our favorite monster-hunting series a bone, did you? In this episode, the Winchester brothers get into some demon-raising trouble on Halloween, which could mean a whole lot of evil being let out into the world unless they can stop it. Which of course, they do!

Biggest Scare: Boiled alive while bobbing for apples. Kind of puts a damper on a perfectly good Halloween party.

Here’s a look at this week’s brand new episode.

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Trunktober

Trunktober: The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell

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This October we’re focused on one thing and one thing only… watching as much horror-related programming as possible to prime the pop culture pump in celebration of Halloween. Our consuming will be taking place nightly, and while there’s no rhyme or reason to how we’re going about choosing our scary screenings, we’ll do our best to tell you how we did it so that you can watch them as well.

Title: The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell

Directed By: Not Listed

Starring: Christine McConnell, Colleen Smith, Michael Oosterom, Mick Ignis, Drew Massey, Adam Mayfield, Dita Von Teese

We Watched On: Netflix

Trunktober Approved Because: Part Food Network and part twisted “Fraggle Rock,” this is a series so quirky and unusual, it’s hard to imagine such a thing could even get greenlit, but we’re thankful it did. Imagine it this way… If Lydia Deetz from “Beetlejuice” created a show based on the writings of “The Handbook for the Recently Deceased,” and in doing so, became the Martha Stewart of the afterlife, this is what the show would look like.

Biggest Scare: This isn’t a scary show, but the elaborate curious creations that Christine cooks up in the kitchen are terrifying, mostly because we know our versions could never come close to looking as amazing.

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Trunktober: Pumpkinhead

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This October we’re focused on one thing and one thing only… watching as much horror-related programming as possible to prime the pop culture pump in celebration of Halloween. Our consuming will be taking place nightly, and while there’s no rhyme or reason to how we’re going about choosing our scary screenings, we’ll do our best to tell you how we did it so that you can watch them as well.

Title: Pumpkinhead

Directed By: Stan Winston

Starring: Lance Henriksen, Jeff East, John D’Aquino, Kimberly Ross, Joel Hoffman, Cynthia Bain, Kerry Remsen

We Watched On: Amazon Prime

Trunktober Approved Because: We loved this revenge-based monster movie as kids, so we were worried that our impressionable young minds would have put it on a nostalgic pedestal that it could never live up to. Surprisingly, it holds up pretty well, and for an ‘80s horror movie, the performances aren’t as bad as you’d expect. Some of the subtle things that Henriksen does – removing a piece of dirt from his dead son just before he’s going to bury him – elevate the film in ways that our childhood brains could never appreciate.

Biggest Scare: The demon Pumpkinhead is a great design, but his hands… and the way they grab its victims… creeps us out today just as much as they did when we were kids.

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