junior mesa builds up walls with humor in entertaining new video for “pushing away”

junior mesa builds up walls with humor in entertaining new video for “pushing away”

In the mood for a bit of soul mixed into your next favorite pop-driven track? Junior Mesa has done just that, setting a relaxing mood with his high-pitched vocals that counter the bitterness in the lyrics. The track itself speaks of putting up walls when a relationship cannot pan out the way you’d imagined and are highly relatable.

The video is highly entertaining. Basked in gorgeous colors, watch Junior dance through the pain with a masked stranger. The video itself seems to be trying to distract from the internal struggle of the protagonist, using humor and the arts to its advantage. Check it out below, and make sure to “like” it over on Youtube.

(Trust us. You’ll want to after that fish slap.)

matthew squires releases audible gem wrapped in satire, “poor men southeast of portland”

matthew squires releases audible gem wrapped in satire, “poor men southeast of portland”

Critically acclaimed Austin-based singer-songwriter Matthew Squires has been releasing thoughtful, meandering audible candy for over a decade now. While his work has taken on many forms, his vocal styling and talented lyricism have remained a constant over the years. His latest track “Poor Men Southeast of Portland” was released in January, a self-aware, modern commentary on the American dream.

For context, the song is complete satire, and was written in response to Oliver Anthony’s “Rich Men North of Richmond.” From the perspective of “a parallel universe’s version of Oliver Anthony,” Squires takes us on a ride with tortured vocals and a sense of humor that humbly brings a smile to your face, even with how hard everything seems to be right now. Further explains Squires of the song:

This song was written and passionately performed by Anthony Oliver, a parallel universe’s version of Oliver Anthony.

Oliver Anthony told Joe Rogan that he chose ‘Oliver’ as his stage
name in honor of his grandfather. He was nostalgic for a more
innocent time, when hardworking, God-fearing white men got a little
respect (he forgot to mention how that respect was at the expense of
everyone else’s, or how it was largely enabled by unions).

Meanwhile, in a parallel universe, Anthony Oliver told Roe Jogan his
name was inspired by Casey Anthony. He was nostalgic for a more
innocent time, when Americans could still unite around our fleeting
spectacles, and weren’t yet confused as to which ones were astroturfed
by right wingers.

The lyrics seem like a poignant call for justice. And they are, but in jest regarding privileged white males (who victimize themselves in a world where they have largely benefitted from every oppressive system ever built).

Baby, I’ve been working
for too damn long for too little pay
Don’t know nothin’ bout Marx or Freud
but I know what it’s like to play
the role that someone else designed
to make someone else’s day
but the tree of justice blooms upon
the top of every grave

Love’s a lot like dyin’
Love’s a lot like a Pepsi inside a church
Love’s a lot like flyin’
Love’s a lot like a heaven encased in Earth
Love’s a lot like cryin’
Love’s a lot like the space ‘tween death and birth

Poor men southeast of Portland
awake from their American dreams,
they enlist into the culture wars
to distract them from their screams
about how they feel about their shame
to look their children in the eyes
I guess the tree of justice blooms
upon the question “why?”

The unique way Squires expresses his rage is entertaining, and honestly an earworm. Check out the track below.

jake johnson’s directorial debut self reliance is a fever panic dream (nightmare?)… and we’re smitten

jake johnson’s directorial debut self reliance is a fever panic dream (nightmare?)… and we’re smitten

Run Time: 1hr 25 mins
Streaming: HULU
Genre: Comedy, Action/Adventure, Thriller, Silly Adventure, Buddy Comedy, Mystery
Suggested for: People and pets of all ages. Those who love Squid Games, Hunger Games, hunting, etc. Adoring fans of The Pepperwood Chronicles or other deep cut references from New Girl.

To tell you I know I will watch this movie a dozen times or more over the next 6 months is probably an understatement. Written, directed, produced, and starred in by none other than Jake Johnson (fka such gems as “Shady David Krumholtz” and “a deeply troubled, degenerate Oscar Isaac”), Self Reliance is a comedy thriller that pushes the needle on self-awareness. A heavily nuanced piece, it presents as a little more whacky, with adrenaline-inducing chase scenes and the inclusion of several familiar faces. My twin sister is in town, and it was the perfect way to spend the early hours of our Friday morning with Schmidt (the cat) in tow.

IMDb Description: Given the opportunity to participate in a life or death reality game show, one man discovers there’s a lot to live for.

Tommy (Jake Johnson) is a man not quite taking advantage of the prime of his life. He lives with his mom after a debilitating breakup and sticks to a daily routine that seems rigid and unfulfilling. He wakes up with a picture of his ex next to the alarm clock, rides the exercise bike watching the iPad with no sense of urgency, walks the same route to work, pushes paper at his desk all day, walks to the bar for a drink, and heads home. Everything seems gray, and very purposefully so.

One day, Andy Samberg – another producer on the project is The Lonely Island – pulls up alongside Tommy in a limo. He tells Tommy he doesn’t know why he has picked him up, but that people are waiting for him and the driver takes them to a warehouse where they drop Tommy off and urgently leave. Samberg’s quintessential over-the-top facial expressions and visible discomfort during the scene help to foreshadow a rough go for Tommy.

After following red arrows through a maze of warehouse corridors, Tommy finds himself facing a table of foreign men who tell him he has been invited to play a game where he is being hunted. It is all being broadcast to the dark web. Hunters could find him, but they might not. The only way he can avoid being killed is to stay in close proximity to another person for 30 days. If he survives that time frame, he gets $1 million. Sounds easy, so he accepts.

THIS PARAGRAPH HAS MILD SPOILERS. SKIP THIS SECTION IF YOU’D LIKE.
Until his family hears his story about Andy Samberg picking him up in a limo and offering him a spot in a game where people hunt others for sport. Because he is stuck in a post-breakup depression haze, Tommy’s family – expertly played by Mary Holland, Emily Hampshire, and Nancy Lenehan – thinks his mental health has tanked and he just doesn’t want to be alone. When he furthers their theory about his sanity by physically moving his brother-in-law from the toilet mid-shit to prove to an assassin that he isn’t alone through a bathroom window in the middle of the night, they back out entirely. He recruits a houseless man to live and work with him so he is never alone, consequently loses his job, and is thrown into a hailstorm of a month.
*******************

Joining Johnson in his debut effort is an insanely stacked cast. Aside from the aforementioned, Natalie Morales appears as Tommy’s ex. Anna Kendrick plays his love interest, a woman named Maddy who reaches out when Tommy posts a cryptic Craigslist ad to learn more about other players of this game. Christopher Lloyd makes an appearance, as well as Wayne Brady, Biff Wiff, Boban Marjanović, GaTa – whose work bringing mental health-focused projects to the table has held a healthy balance amidst his music and acting endeavors – and Eduardo Franco, who is pretty much everyone’s favorite human to be around.

My sister, Erin P.S. Zimmerman (a producer, filmmaker, and film critic) had a pointed takeaway from this fun watch. The man who wrote this movie has most likely experienced loneliness and pain, and come to his own existential conclusions. Humor and growth have been found in the process. Through Self Reliance, Jake Johnson has pinpointed the importance of community in the human experience. Though I’m sure the plotline was born from many inside jokes and comedic life experiences – and a flurry of incredible pop culture references – the core of the film is, truly, togetherness.

It is also, in my opinion, a sound testament to trusting your own gut and instincts through life. As terrifying as some of the situations were that the characters found themselves in, they had to work their their own intuition and ideas with the information they had to move forward. Watching these characters pause for thought, and then approach situations with unwarranted confidence is almost empowering. Because, truly, nothing different is happening to the people in Self Reliance than is happening to all of us at any point in our lives. Anything can happen to you at any moment. And you have to work with what you have in that moment to thrive — or even just to survive. Curveballs – like the cryptic messages from GaTa and the P.A. Ninjas – can be thrown your way at any time. You have to be aware and ready to create your own destiny. (You know, instead of meandering about as we all do from time to time for an extended period. Because meandering is cool.)

Another great piece to this film is that Tommy recognizes the people who are helping him pretty quickly. His character even goes so far as to acknowledge them along the way, and it is because he is waking up and beginning to notice the things around him a lot more — see the world more clearly. (You would too if assassins were hidden around your world, trying to take you out as soon as you’re not paying attention.)

A more detailed perspective from Erin:

As someone that works in the production industry, watching how the P.A. Ninjas were presented was lighthearted and hilarious, but also true. Knowing that Jake Johnson has touched many facets of the filmmaking workflow – writer, director, producer, and actor in this movie alone – he went into this project as a filmmaker who has a more well-rounded perspective of the process.

Though the P.A. Ninjas seem like a characature, they are very true to life in that they bend over backwards for everyone, they take care of the people who take care of them, they’re ninjas that seem to do everything and take care of everything. But they are necessary and he brought light to the fact that they are ninjas. It was a nice little nod to workforces in the industry that aren’t often acknowledged by the executives and top-billed cast, or anyone who has never been in their position before.

Coming out of the strikes of 2023, the details in this film seem all the more important as the creative community bands together again to go through a season of productivity.

Self Reliance is a little more fast paced, and it will require a bit of attention to catch all of the quips and references. Johnson’s genius mind will have you second-guessing your predictions, assumptions, and real-time assessments until the very end. Be ready to spot Ellen DeGeneres, Mario, a sumo wrestler, samurais, and more – and question everything you know – on this adventure.

rachel burns sets your weekend on fire with release of what a nasty woman

rachel burns sets your weekend on fire with release of what a nasty woman

Rachel Burns knows passion. She knows intensity, appreciation, humor, and life. Her music has reached a unicorn “pop-soul-cabaret” genre-bending classification, relatably inspired by her everyday life. As a mother of two and cancer survivor, she could just as easily sing the blues — and most likely very beautifully. Instead, she takes a tongue-in-cheek approach to her art, the culmination of which comes to a head with her new EP release, What a Nasty Woman.

From the very first staccato notes of “Mansplainin'” – which any female-identifying human can probably identify with – through the weight of “Triple D’s” (pun intended), and through to the fade-out of wild-west inspired “Sundown Of The Macho Man,” you are in for a damn treat. Burns has brought just as much sass to her sound as she has talent, and these songs will have you revving up for the weekend the right way. (HELLO to her amped-up version of “All Shook Up”!)

“I like to empower people to empower other people. I’d like to uplift us all with this project,” Burns shares. “When I would dress up as Wonder Woman, I held up a giant sign that said, ‘Time to bust out the golden lasso of truth’ in glitter. Wonder Woman’s superpower was telling the truth. The truth is really powerful; it can break down all kinds of barriers, and I think that’s the kernel of a lot of my music: Truth telling. We’re going to laugh, dance, and be real – and not pussyfoot around anything!”

And pussyfoot she does not. Double entendres like the reference to fingers as “flacid, flimsy” and “soft, limp” in “Tiny Hands” and the entirety of “Triple D’s” are scattered across the 6-track EP, adding just as much joy and giggle to the aftermath of your listen as inspiration and empowerment. Her impressive vocal range is displayed to perfection on What a Nasty Woman, from the soft disposition of “Pollyanna’s Lament” to the deep, guttural performance of “Tiny Hands” and beyond. With nostalgic instrumentation that sets the stage for her theatrical, all-encompassing songs, you may just find yourself with an earworm or two.

Enjoy.

WHAT A NASTY WOMAN TRACKLISTING

  1. Mansplainin’
  2. All Shook Up
  3. Triple D’s
  4. Pollyanna’s Lament
  5. Tiny Hands
  6. Sundown Of The Macho Man
effing candle co. hosts bandits on the run for a beautiful friday evening in midtown kc

effing candle co. hosts bandits on the run for a beautiful friday evening in midtown kc

Storied indie trio Bandits On The Run was passing through Kansas City last weekend, with a flurry of notable performances scheduled for Folk Alliance. But that wasn’t all they had up their sleeves. On Friday, February 3rd, they brought their instruments to the effing candle co. storefront in Midtown for a night that cute crowd would not forget.

Though capacity was limited inside the storefront, the energy was palpable from outside on the chilly streets of the city. effing candle co. owner Byrdie Hanson donated proceeds of period products and monetary donations to a local women’s shelter, for which she put together goodie bags as well. The candle company’s commitment to humor is matched only by its commitments to both sustainability and civil rights.

In front of a rainbow-tinged front window, this folk group garnered smiles all around. Plus the Bandits made time to hang out with their fans afterward, identifying their favorite candle scents and enjoying time with new friends. It was a night of pure magic, where everyone was lifted up, and we were honored to be in attendance.

“You People” Wasn’t Received Well – But its Message is Critical

“You People” Wasn’t Received Well – But its Message is Critical

You People has been the talk of the town, as the cast has been on a larger-than-life press tour. Most late-night talk show hosts have been clinging to the idea of an Eddie Murphy revival. The stacked cast stands on its own even without the comedic talents of one of the most storied celebrities of our time. Shelley (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and Arnold (David Duchovny) are the parents of Ezra Cohen (Jonah Hill), who has recently met and fallen in love with Amira (Lauren London), the daughter of Akbar (Eddie Murphy) and Fatima (Nia Long). The supporting cast includes Molly Gordon, Rhea Pearlman, Taco, and Sam Jay, among others. 

The Humor in You People is Often Clunky and Uncomfortable

The plotline centers on the way people of different racial, religious, and ethnic backgrounds look at each other. Everyone has preconceived notions of the way the world is and how it should be. While none of the characters are outright racist, microaggressions that they may never have intended can rear their ugly heads. And this movie created plenty of opportunities to observe this behavior.

Ezra finds himself experiencing a series of unfortunate events stirred on by inherent racism, as does his betrothed. Akbar always imagined his daughter marrying a black man, and his disapproval of Ezra is palpable from the moment they meet at Roscoe’s to discuss the idea of marriage. 

The filmmakers chose to have Ezra want to impress them so badly that he missteps and comes off as insensitive as well. This begins with his choice of eatery and the fact that he is proposing the idea of marriage during his first meeting with the family.

While Ezra struggles to level with Akbar throughout the movie, Amira has similar issues with the Cohen family. Ezra’s sister takes a romantic liking to her and his father – who has an affinity for Xzibit and wants the world to know about it – chooses to serenade her with John Legend’s “Ordinary People” in an awkward first meeting moment. His mother? Well, she is on a whole other level, leaning into the “diversity” the family is engaging in a little too much. 

Admittedly, the Plotline isn’t Entirely Believable

The plotline goes a little bit too far when Shelley and Akbar take it upon themselves to attend the bachelor and bachelorette parties for their in-laws. These scenes actually make the viewer think, “Why didn’t their significant others or children put a stop to this?” This is the piece of the movie that came off as too wild, too unhinged. The discomfort felt during these scenes could have easily been portrayed in other, more believable ways. Plenty of moms have made themselves seem off-the-rocker on the hunt for a bridal gown or at a bridal shower, for example.

But that might be the exact point the writers are trying to make. These ideals are antiquated. The atmosphere they create is uncomfortable. And sometimes you have to sit through the discomfort to truly understand the message of a movie. Race struggles are still at the forefront of the conversation in America, still. It can be difficult to find humor in it, and it is something we should all be working to fix. This commentary and this perspective are necessary because change doesn’t come unless we get uncomfortable.

Have you gotten a chance to check out You People yet? Maybe you can help me find a new discourse for it… and get it out of its lower-rated category on Rotten Tomatoes.

5 Reasons Why Tim Burton’s “Wednesday” is Worth the Binge

5 Reasons Why Tim Burton’s “Wednesday” is Worth the Binge

In case you have been living under a rock or in a hollow tree, Tim Burton’s latest addition to the Disney universe – the series reimagination of The Addams Family, aptly titled Wednesday – has been making waves since its Netflix release on November 23rd. While purists might not be immediately ready to dive in, I binged the series (3 times) and heavily encourage you to do so as well. Here’s why.

“Wednesday” Is A Welcome Departure From Reality

Reality has been dark. But Wednesday? She’s darker. A teen nightmare who is obsessed with all things evil is absolutely entertaining. The closest we can get to having friends like Wednesday is if we unironically hang out with gothic peers or take a time machine back to the aughts emo scene. Existing in the orbit of someone this maniacal isn’t usually a pleasure we all have.

Watching someone use piranhas for their high school revenge schemes is laughable and unrealistic (for the most part), but so out of left field that it’s funny to watch. Having a detached hand named Thing scurrying around and supporting your educational efforts isn’t something you see every day. 

Wednesday Is More Relatable This Time Around

Wednesday – now depicted by the indelible Jenna Ortega – seems even more relatable post-pandemic. The disdain for other humans? Check. The quirky ways she moves through life, particularly on the dancefloor? Check. The constant desire to be alone? Check, check, check.  

Wednesday’s Humor Is Elevated

Sure, all former portrayals of the character of Wednesday include some heavy dry humor and sarcasm. But the bits in this revival – and Ortega’s delivery of said bits – are absolute gold. Some of our favorite quotable Wednesday moments?

  1. “I don’t bury hatchets. I sharpen them.”
  2. “But drip [coffee] is for people who hate themselves and know their lives have no real purpose or meaning.”
  3. “I don’t need your help or your pity. I already have a mother and a therapist. That’s enough torture, even for me.”
  4. “It’s not my fault I can’t interpret your emotional Morse code.”
  5. “I find social media to be a soul-sucking void of meaningless affirmation.”

The Easter Eggs Are Amazing

What does everyone want out of a follow-up, sequel, or remake? They want callbacks. Give me all the new material you want, but if you can slide props, quotes, cameos, or similar storylines in for nostalgia, you’ve captured my attention. For example, there is a secret society housed in the walls at Wednesday’s outcast school – where her parents met and fell in love – Nevermore. The “passcode” to enter is a quick two-finger snaps. Where have we heard that before? 

How about the archery scenes at Nevermore that harken to scenes of Pugsley and Wednesday practicing archery in Addams Family Values? Plus, Wednesday hates pilgrims… if ever there were a nod to Christina Ricci’s portrayal of the character, this is it. You’ll notice this – plus many more references to previous storylines and even Tim Burton’s work – sprinkled throughout.

Wednesday’s Rendition Of “Paint it Black”

I had never heard anything so painfully beautiful until the first episode of this series when Wednesday plays the cello. Her own siren song, it seems, “Paint it Black” by The Rolling Stones was performed by Ortega herself, who learned to play cello for the role. If you tune in for nothing else, this moment will change you.

4 Things That Make Dan Levy’s “The Big Brunch” So Alluring

4 Things That Make Dan Levy’s “The Big Brunch” So Alluring

I love brunch.

Savory, sweet, a fun combination… I will eat pancakeswaffles, fries, quiche, a great bagel, and shmear, or otherwise. Give me bellinis and rose, citrus juice, or a hot chocolate concoction. This delicious ritual of great friends enjoying each other’s company is something I have always been on board with.

So when Dan Levy’s face popped up on HBO next to the term “brunch,” I had to check it out. Here is why I believe you should take some time to enjoy this offbeat chef’s challenge show, “The Big Brunch.”

The Cast Is Inclusive

Whoever was involved in casting this show did an impeccable job. They chose people from all racial backgrounds, religious and social affiliations, cultures, and regions. Some of their chefs were professionally trained, while many had complicated and beautiful backstories that made their vision for their meals come alive.

Take, for example, fan-favorite Catie Randazzo, who is the Executive Chef of Huckleberry Bakery & Cafe in Santa Monica. She can come to some hard self-realizations during the show, and her vulnerability makes her endlessly relatable. Or Danielle Sepsy, a pastry chef from New York who has already made quite the name for herself through her elaborate and eye-popping confections, as well as her wholesale business.

Then there’s Roman Wilcox, co-owner of the first 100% plant-based food business in El Paso. You can find his culture and family traditions sprinkled throughout his creations, as he explores flavors that led him to his own meatless diet in recent years.

Episode Themes Make It Original

While many chef competition shows explore multiple ideas per episode, The Big Brunch simplifies things with a cohesive theme throughout each episode. Take, for example, Episode 1 Today’s Brunch Special is You. From the name alone, you get the impression that the chefs have been tasked with representing themselves, somehow, on their plates.

And that is exactly what is happening. The episode allows each chef to introduce themself uniquely, using ingredients and techniques they are fond of or that represent a part of them. It is an incredible icebreaker and gets the audience to consider how they would present themselves if given the opportunity.

The chefs get especially vulnerable in the third episode, titled “Farm to Table Brunch.” They get to individually dive into clean ingredients and this is where we begin to truly see the emotional side to some of them. This is especially true for those who have started their clean food journeys, which it seems they are all very cognizant of the importance of.

The Recipes Are Accessible

Incredible-looking courses created in front of a camera for me to learn about? Sign me up! While some recipes are a little bit more difficult to master, many of them are created with simple ingredients and accessibility in mind. If you really want to see an eye sore, tune into the bread episode, Carb Loading Brunch.”

Looking for a spin on Thanksgiving and other cold-weather holiday favorites? Explore episode #7, Holiday Brunch. We may have snagged a few tips to make this year’s festive favorites a little more elevated than usual!

Dan Levy Is The Host And 1 Of 3 Judges

Need I say more?

If I must, the man’s biting sense of humor perfectly entangles with his affinity for food and helping to make people’s dreams come true. The winner comes away with a cool $30k, and the others get infinite wisdom – and humor – from the judges.

‘Hocus Pocus 2’ Is Finally Here (And It’s Wickedly Good)

‘Hocus Pocus 2’ Is Finally Here (And It’s Wickedly Good)

29 years.

We waited 29 years to experience these witches again. The long-awaited sequel to the cult classic Hocus Pocus was released just in time for the witching season, on September 30, 2022. Just 29 years, 2 months, and 2 weeks after Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy, and Sarah Jessica Parker portrayed the most wicked trio of sisters the silver screen had ever encountered. 

Equal parts sass, silliness, captivating humor, and darkness, the first film created a movement of witch-adjacent fans. Holding onto that sense of magic, that belief in powers and the safety of nostalgia has kept its fire fueled all this time. So, of course, the whole world went wild when the sequel was announced.

The Deets on Hocus Pocus 2

In all honesty, my expectations were low. Three decades removed, Hocus Pocus 2 was written by producer and actress Jen D’Angelo, who was just 5 years old when the first movie made its theatrical debut. While I am a very big fan of the first movie, I was afraid enough of the characters in my early years. I didn’t get into the fandom side of things until much later in life. Still, how could this new movie possibly do the original any justice? 

Let me tell you, this movie was enjoyable above and beyond all expectations. It begins by establishing the (honestly heartbreaking) history of how the Sanderson sisters became witches in a dark forest as orphaned teenagers. It quickly swoops us back to present-day Salem, where holistic wellness and mindset work mirrors witchcraft that dates back centuries. Three teen girls reignite their friendship through a high-energy plotline. It brings back key characters and highlights the importance of community and friendship. 

What’s The Final Verdict?

Aside from the rogue religious rant here and there about the unholiness of witchcraft (many of whom clearly never saw the original), the movie is getting high praise from fans everywhere. Critical acclaim, however, has been a little more difficult to come by. Rotten Tomatoes only rates it at 63%, and most of the negative reviews I have happened upon indicated the plot was too simple, but most sequels are mirrors of the original plotlines.

This one is more tongue-in-cheek, the characters and their personalities are so much more diverse, and the lessons to be learned echo louder than they ever have before. My personal social media feed was full of insanely positive reviews within the first 48 hours of release. This, in turn, convinced me to dig in quickly. 

Like the original, there was a lot of attention and care put into the soundtrack. While the Sanderson Sisters’ cover of “I Put a Spell On You” became a huge hit in the 90s, their entrance in this film is just as theatrical with their fun spin on Elton John’s “The Bitch is Back.” 

From thoughtful easter eggs to the inclusion of popular technology and skincare, the movie is truly delightful from beginning to end. It is available to watch on Disney+ now.