Category Archives: Tony On: Pop Culture

MOVIE REVIEW: “Pride & Prejudice & Zombies” is Deliciously Irreverent

As the saying goes: everything old is new again. Whether it is trends in fashion, styles of music, or even the food and drink we put in our bodies (the “Paleo diet” is from how long ago?), our society has an interesting penchant for liking something, forgetting that something for a while when newer and flashier somethings come along, and finally rediscovering that something and saying “y’know, this something is actually pretty cool.” Even though a timeless work of fiction – such as a Jane Austen novel – is really never truly forgotten, sometimes it does take an infusion of a new idea to bring a classic “back to life,” as it were.

Ironic, then, that the catalyst to reanimate wide-scale interest in Austen’s bourgeois-eschewing “Pride & Prejudice” is a creature that is, by its own nature, reanimated in and of itself: the zombie. Yes, the separate components of Pride & Prejudice & Zombies may not break any new ground on their own, but when these two disparate pieces are “mashed up” together, they become much like Paula Abdul and MC Skat Kat, with opposites attracting in the most delightfully random of ways. Continue reading MOVIE REVIEW: “Pride & Prejudice & Zombies” is Deliciously Irreverent

MOVIE REVIEW: “The Last Witch Hunter” is Bewitchingly Entertaining

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The Last Witch Hunter is an intriguing entry into the world of cinematic fantasy genre.  While it doesn’t particularly revolutionize the way we see witches and warlocks nor does it herald “the next great franchise” of feature films, it is a solid tale packed with great special effects, excellent pacing, a presentation designed for an intellectual audience (relatively speaking, of course), and charming characters that are fairly believable in terms of their place in this witchy world.

Continue reading MOVIE REVIEW: “The Last Witch Hunter” is Bewitchingly Entertaining

MOVIE REVIEW: “Ant-Man” May Very Well Be Marvel’s Most Entertaining Film So Far

WARNING: Mild spoilers ahead – I did my best to keep quiet about the big stuff, but some parts of the film required a little explanation in the review.

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MV5BMjM2NTQ5Mzc2M15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTcxMDI2NTE@._V1_SX640_SY720_I know what you’re thinking – that’s a mighty bold statement you’re making there in the title, sailor.  Now hold up, Guardians of the Galaxy and The Avengers, I’mma let you finish… but Ant-Man just may truly be one of the greatest Marvel films of all time.  Of all time!

How might this be possible, you might ask?  Well, these folks at Marvel, see, they’ve got this “fun hero movie” formula down to pretty much a science.  Ant-Man will likely resonate with movie-goers in one key way that flying superheroes, mega-powered aliens, and high-tech billionaire genius playboy philanthropists can’t – the “same level” department.  The “I can identify with that guy” department.  The honest-to-God, trying-my-best, life-is-hard-and-I-am-flawed human department.  That’s where Ant-Man lives.  Oh, and it’s really funny, too. Continue reading MOVIE REVIEW: “Ant-Man” May Very Well Be Marvel’s Most Entertaining Film So Far

REVIEW: Guardians of the Galaxy

I knew ‘em before they were famous.

The Guardians as I remember them from back in the '90s. SPOILER ALERT: you'll be seeing none of these characters in the movie.
The Guardians as I remember them from back in the ’90s. SPOILER ALERT: you’ll be seeing none of these characters in the movie.

For those that aren’t as deeply invested in comic-book lore as some of us (what do you expect – one of my first real jobs when I was 16 was in a comic book store, for cryin’ out loud… being knowledgeable about comics was literally my job), the newest cinematic offering from Marvel Comics, Guardians of the Galaxy, may seem a bit more “random” than you are prepared to handle: the film is only loosely connected to the existing Marvel Cinematic Universe that audiences have come to know and love, that of Iron Man, Captain America, and The Avengers fame (among others).  In fact, at this point, the only actual crossover that GotG has with the rest of the on-screen Marvel superhero crew is The Collector, an eccentric, intergalactic keeper of rare treasures and oddities; The Collector was seen in the mid-credits scene of Thor 2: The Dark World as he met with two of Thor’s compatriots and agreed to keep the powerful Aether – one of the six Infinity Stones – in his collection.  He appears in GotG in a slightly-expanded-but-still-fairly-ancillary role.

The Collector is an old-school comics character, making his first appearance all the way back in 1966, and has usually existed in the nebulous area of not quite a bad guy, per se, but not a hero, either.  Over the course of comic book history, he’s had run-ins with The Avengers, The X-Men, and – you guessed it – the Guardians of the Galaxy.  You see, much like the first two aforementioned teams, the Guardians have also been around in print for over 50 years.  From the ‘60s through the ‘90s, the team existed in the 31st Century, a band of intergalactic alien loners that come together to fight injustice (including one character, Major Victory, who possesses and uses Captain America’s very-old-but-very-functional indestructible shield).  These are the Guardians of the Galaxy I grew up with, and they spoke to me, since they combined two facets that I thought were totally tubular: superheroes and science fiction.

Still with me?  Good, although you don’t necessarily need to know all the above info about Guardians of the Galaxy to have a great time watching the film.  All you really need, quite frankly, are your eyes and your ears. Continue reading REVIEW: Guardians of the Galaxy

77 Facts that Sound Like Lies but Are Actually True!

So, today is April 1st, a.k.a. April Fool’s Day, a.k.a. The Day the Internet Explodes with Purposely-Fabricated Lies.  I feel like today is the perfect opportunity, then, to instead bombard you with facts that are 100% positively true, but they sound so ridiculous that some people might not believe ’em anyways.  But I DO promise, all of this stuff below factually checks out and is the honest-to-goodness truth!  Culled from the ever-popular BuzzFeed, here are some tidbits that might just blow your mind: Continue reading 77 Facts that Sound Like Lies but Are Actually True!

The Phenomenon of Show Choir

Long before there were any “Gleeks,” there existed a special breed of teenager I call the Show Choir Nerd.

glee2The TV show Glee, for those unfamiliar, is a fictional series all about show choir, or at least something that represents the Hollywood-embellished version of show choir.  Glee has been nominated for numerous awards and received high praise from both critics and fans (who prefer to be called the aforementioned “Gleeks”), and is still going strong in its fifth season on the Fox network.  Five years is nice and all, but hey TV executives – try keeping the show choir passion going for 40 years, and then we’ll talk about what it really takes to embody the show choir experience.

Why 40 years?  Even though it may seem like a random number, 40 years ago, at a little catholic high school in Fort Wayne, Indiana, the first show choir competition in the nation (most likely the world) was held.  How do I know this little bit of trivia?  Well, I wasn’t there…but my Dad was.  As a founding member of the Bishop Luers H.S. Minstrels, he was there when the choir’s director, Father Fred Link, had the revelation: why not get choirs together to perform in front of judges and fans?  The feedback the judges give would help the groups get better and enhance the experience for all involved.  So, on a chilly Saturday in February of the 1973-1974 school year, seven swing choirs (as they were known at the time), invited to the competition by Father Link, performed on a tarp-covered gymnasium floor at Bishop Luers, in front of a grandstand full of raucous fans.  The show choir Invitational was officially born.

And, in case you were curious, that night the Marion, IN, 26th Street Singers became the first show choir Grand Champions ever, and they would return to successfully defend that title the following year before the Carmel, IN Ambassadors went on a four-year Grand Champion run from 1977-1980.

ShowChoir3I currently serve as half of the Masters of Ceremonies duo for the Bishop Luers Midwest Show Choir Invitational, alongside the amazing Mr. Larry Bowers, who is marking his incredibly-impressive 38th consecutive year as Invitational MC this year.  The competition takes place this coming weekend, and every year at the Invitational I am reminded first-hand how much hard work, time, and effort goes into every facet of show choir, most prominently from the immensely talented and dedicated students that participate in the choir, band, and technical crews.  As a four-year member of the Bishop Luers Minstrels myself from 1992-1996, I know first-hand the long hours of rehearsal, fund-raising, travel, performance, and anxiety that comes standard with being a show choir member.  I also know it’s an enormously rewarding experience, one that I will truly treasure and remember for the rest of my life.

So to all you show choir members out there that are reading this, whether you’re a singer/dancer, handle an instrument or the equipment, and are a current or alumni member: THANK YOU and CONGRATULATIONS.  Thank you for your hard work and dedication to keep this amazing culture alive and well, and congratulations on all of your successes, whether they come in the form of trophies or simply the satisfaction of knowing that you stood tall and performed to the best of your abilities.  NO ONE can take any of this away from you, and NO ONE except other show choir members will truly understand the feelings of pride and accomplishment you can carry with you.  No matter how much of a “Gleek” they are.

ShowChoir2So stand tall and be proud, Show Choir Nerds.  Wear the title as openly as so many wear the title of being a “Gleek.”  Like I said above, the difference between a “Gleek” and a Show Choir Nerd is an important one: “Gleeks” watch the amazing-ness that is the show choir experience onscreen.  Show Choir Nerds get to live it.

It’s good to be a Nerd.

 

 

Photo Credits (from top)

The Sedalia News-Journal (sedalianewsjournal.com)

The Fox Network (Fox.com)

The Findlay First Edition (findlayfirstedition.org)

The Homewood Star (thehomewoodstar.com)