TV: THE BIG BANG THEORY, S10E23: “The Gyroscopic Collapse”

#1 TV show, Thursday, 5/4/17

12.39 million viewers

What it is: A CBS sitcom about nerds and their romantic relationships. In this episode, the military (personified by Breaking Bad‘s Dean Norris in his recurring role as a gruff officer) shuts down some advanced project the main guys were working on, and Penny (live-in girlfriend of Jim Parsons’ Sheldon) gets offered a summer job at Princeton, causing her to worry that Sheldon will feel she’s abandoning him. Continue reading

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#1 movie, weekends of 5/5-5/7/17 and 5/12-5/14/17

Gross: $146,510,104, $65,263,492

What it is: The second entry in Marvel Studios’ series about the adventures of a band of intergalactic misfits. This time around, Quill a.k.a. Star Lord (Chris Pratt), the only seemingly human member of the team, meets his father (Kurt Russell), who turns out to be a god. Meanwhile, other members of the team, including Rocket Raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper) and a baby version of the anthropomorphic tree Groot (Vin Diesel) get captured by space pirates. Continue reading

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By William P. Young

#1 USA Today bestseller, weeks of 3/2/173/9/17, 3/16/17 and 3/23/17

What it is: A novel originally self-published in 2007 and eventually adapted into a recent film starring Sam Worthington, the release of which seems to have prompted the book’s return to the bestseller list. The story follows a man named Mack who receives a mysterious note inviting him to the shack where his young daughter Missy is presumed to have been murdered after having been kidnapped. There he meets three personifications of the Holy Trinity: A black woman named Papa, a Middle Eastern-looking young man named Jesus, and an older Asian woman named Sarayu. They teach him how to develop a relationship with God and deal with the loss of his daughter. Continue reading

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TV: SURVIVOR, S34E08: “A Line Drawn in Concrete”

#1 TV show, Wednesday, 4/26/17

8.49 million viewers

What it is: A competition reality show in which contestants camp out in an exotic location and compete in various summer camp-ish games while gradually voting each other out of the running until only one remains. This season takes place in Fiji’s Mamanuca Islands and is subtitled “Game Changers” because the contestants are all people who competed on previous seasons of the show. In this ep, they compete in an oceanic obstacle course relay and another exercise that involves stacking blocks, then conspire to vote off either Andrea or Debbie. Continue reading

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Music: Kendrick Lamar, DAMN.

#1 album on the Billboard 200 chart, weeks of 5/6/17, 5/13/17 and 5/20/17

What it is: The fourth studio album from rapper Kendrick Lamar.

In a way, Kendrick Lamar achieved rap dominance the same way Kanye West did: By bringing together both its gangsta side and its more conscious, self-aware threads. (Kendrick’s* 2015 album To Pimp a Butterfly mixed anti-cop death threats with Sufjan Stevens samples and appeals to the ghost of Nelson Mandela.) But Kanye’s style is more cerebral, which makes sense for a middle-class producer whose street cred came pretty much entirely from co-signs and collaborations with other artists like Jay Z. On the other hand, Kendrick grew up on the notoriously tough streets of Compton, and his style is more physical, with a lot of energetic and technically breathtaking verses as well as production that has an organic and cohesive sound rather than one that calls attention to its own source material. Continue reading

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TV: NCIS, S14E21: “One Book, Two Covers”

#1 TV show, Tuesday, 4/18/17

13.32 million viewers

What it is: A CBS procedural about an agency tasked with investigating crimes related to the Navy and Marine Corps. In this episode, Torres (Wilmer Valderrama) has to delve back into the contacts he made while undercover with a dirtbike gang(!) when the gang seems to become active again. Continue reading

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Music: The Chainsmokers, MEMORIES…DO NOT OPEN

#1 album on the Billboard 200 chart, week of 4/29/17

What it is: The debut album from The Chainsmokers, a duo who make EDM-tinged pop music.

This may be an obvious point, but I’ve thought for a long time that the amount of respect artists get in their industry often depends as much on how they’re viewed as individuals as on the quality of their actual work. Take Weird Al Yankovic and Gallagher: Two comedians whose careers are built on goofy gimmicks, and yet one is widely revered and welcomed into comedy nerd projects like “Comedy Bang! Bang!” and Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, while the other is reviled as a practitioner of the lowest forms of humor. Is it because Yankovic’s pop song parodies are that much more sophisticated than Gallagher’s routine of smashing objects onstage? Or is it because Yankovic is reportedly an incredibly nice guy, while Gallagher is known for defending racist and homophobic jokes before storming out of an interview with Marc Maron? Continue reading

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