Black Panther

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Ever since Guardians of the Galaxy blew into theaters and made a kajillion dollars Marvel has relaxed their policy on the uniformity of their movies. Sure, there’s still a bit of a formula, but like the Guardians before it, and Ant-Man as well, Black Panther is a Marvel movie that has been allowed to have its own identity, and that’s not entirely because the cast is predominantly black. With a story that feels more akin to Game of Thrones than Iron Man, a more vibrant color palette than the reds and blues that dominates most Marvel flicks, a cast of characters that are more fully-drawn than many of their four-color counterparts, and real-world themes that have resonance after the obligatory post-credits sequence, Black Panther easily finds its way into the upper echelon of superhero flicks, Marvel or otherwise.

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The Last Laugh of the Laughter

It was just announced that Hollywood institution IOwest is closing. It was the west coast arm of the Chicago improv club that has been around for nearly twenty-five years. I was never an actual member of the IO community but it was a huge part of my time in Los Angeles and it feels weird that in just over ten days it will be no more.

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And the Tooth Shall Set You Free

I’ve never had a cavity. That’s good, I suppose. My dentist once referred to my teeth as “perfect” (her word) despite my compulsive ice-chewing habit. That said, I don’t have a long history of good luck with my chompers. I’ve had five root canals, mostly due to random injury. I have three fake teeth, due to, well, let me get into that.

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2017 (in one-second increments)

In an effort to use this space to document my life as well as Facebook, I’m posting this here even though everyone saw it already over there. This is my One-Second video, where I took 1 second of video over the entire year (really for only 312 days, but who’s counting). It’s a perfect little time capsule for my year, covering the end of my job, my fitness regime, the concerts, travels, and everything and (hopefully) most of the friends involved.

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Bye Boo

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I never knew how much I could cry. I mean, if I’m being honest, I’m still surprised I can cry at all. But over the past few weeks I might’ve solved California’s drought problems if I just harvested my tears. After eight-and-a-half short years, I had to say goodbye to my sidekick, my wingman, my favorite, my puppers, my little chicken, my Radley.

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Top 10 TV 2017

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10. The Runaways

With the rest of Marvel’s TV series faltering this year (Inhumans and Iron Fist tanked, Agents of Shield is tired, Defenders and Punisher were okay but pale in comparison to the heights achieved by Jessica Jones and Daredevil), leave it to this mashup of the OC and the Avengers to bring a new twist on super heroic teen angst. While the comic was one of my favorites, the TV series has done a great job of broadening the scope beyond the basic premise of group of teens discover their parents are evil. Honestly, while the TV show has pretty awesome and faithful adaptations of the kids, it has done an amazing job of making the parents infinitely more interesting and adding a dose of mystery to keep things interesting.

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Top 10 Music 2017

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10. Dan Wilson – Re-Covered

The songwriter behind some of the biggest hits and/or best tunes of the past decade or two, Dan Wilson presents stripped down guitar-focused versions originally done by artists as varied as Adele (“Someone Like You”), Dixie Chicks (“Not Ready to Make Nice”), John Legend (“You and I”), and his own band Semisonic (“Closing Time”).

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Top 10 Movies 2017

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10. The Disaster Artist

While ostensibly about the making of The Room, aka the worst period movie period ever exclamation point, The Disaster Artist is actually more about the strength of friendship. Dave and James Franco both do a wonderful job of taking characters that could’ve been punchlines, and presenting them as thoughtful, three dimensional creatures.

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Molly’s Game

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Aaron Sorkin is brilliant, one of my favorite writers, but he has patterns and traps he sometimes falls into: rat-a-tat dialogue that is sometimes more clever than it should be, a dogged everyman as his central character, unrelenting idealism. It’s why, despite some fantastic moments, The Newsroom was a bit of a failure. And it’s why, despite some missteps, Molly’s Game is a triumph. Based on the book/true story of Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier who sidestepped her future plans to become the host of an exclusive high-high-stakes poker game, raking in millions on both coasts until her eventual arrest. The film jumps around between the case and Molly’s retelling of what lead to her eventual downfall, a bit too similar in structure to The Social Network (which Sorkin wrote), but it’s still a funny, surprising and interesting look at the underground poker world.

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All the Money in the World

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A lot of press has been made of Director Ridley Scott, and the other producers of All the Money in the World, and their decision to replace Kevin Spacey with Christopher Plummer in the wake of the allegations against Spacey. Watching Plummer was interesting knowing how quickly his scenes were put together. It’s an amazing feat, but it’s possibly the most interesting thing about the movie, based on the true story of the kidnapping of a billionaire’s grandson and his refusal to the pay the ransom. It aims to be taut thriller, but the stronger element is the character interplay.

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