Post Ron Swanson, Nick Offerman Still Rules

Even after the Ultimate American Character was retired on-air…

Ron Swanson Gif

Nick Offerman isn’t going away any time soon.

It’s well known that Offerman is as interesting as his “Parks and Recreation” character. He is an accomplished wood craftsman who builds furniture and canoes at his Offerman Woodshop in East Los Angeles…while sometimes reading tweets from young female celebrities. He has released two semi-autobiographical books,Paddle Your Own Canoe: One Man’s Fundamentals for Delicious Living in 2013 and Gumption: Relighting the Torch of Freedom with America’s Gutsiest Troublemakers in May of 2015. Offerman also tours regularly with his wife of 12 years, Megan Mullally, performing comedy and music.

You can see Offerman as a philosophy professor dad who only wears robes in my favorite film of the year so far, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl . You’ll also see him in the second installment of FX’s “Fargo“, premiering in September this year.

In the meantime, I recommend filling your void for more Ron Swanson with Offerman’s fantastic “Pizza Farm” PSA from Funny or Die…because “french fries are practically salads”.

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Time To Exhale: True Detective Season 2 Does and Doesn’t Suck, So Far…

We are three episodes into Nic Pizollato’s followup to the incredible first season story that made the brothers from ‘Edtv’, Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey, our favorite detective tag team of all-time. Some viewers have jumped off the ledge, some are looking for a reason to hang on, and others aren’t that phased by True Detective Season 2…You can count me in the latter because I’ve suffered through much worse television.

Here’s the part where I warn you that the rest of this is riddled with SPOILERS. Continue at your own risk, if you aren’t caught up on the season. 

shh gif

As I’ve already mentioned, I don’t hate this new season of True Detective. There’s an actual mystery that I find compelling and some performances that I can appreciate. However, there are things worth hating and I understand the frustration and annoyance by fans. Pizzollato told us this would be a completely different story, but I don’t think viewers expected it to be THIS much different. If the first season wasn’t on such a high pedestal, would we care as much?

Trying to separate Season 2 from it’s predecessor, while also analyzing what the first season got right, there are reasons to indeed hate this season and reasons not to.

Why Season 2 Sucks

1. Taylor Kitsch! 

When the cast was finally confirmed, after what seemed like an eternity of speculation, I was actually excited about it. Colin Farrell was the most talented of the bunch. Vince Vaughn could finally get back to being the dark and twisted character actor that he started out as. Rachel McAdams is swell. The only wild card, to me, was Taylor Kitsch…TAYLOR KITSCH HAS BEEN EXCRUTIATING AND PAINFUL.

In 3 episodes, his only meaningful contribution to the story is finding the murder victim that kicked this whole thing off, Ben Caspere. Outside of that, Kitsch’s character has been an awful stereotype of a self-loathing war veteran with some messed up mommy issues and sexuality denial. Every curse word he tries using sounds as forced as when preteens discover swearing.

I don’t know if we’re supposed to feel bad for Officer Paul Woodrugh because of what he’s dealing with, but I have zero investment in him. If Paul doesn’t get interesting soon, I’m going to go back to referring to him as John Carter (not a compliment).

John Carter gif

2. Too Many Moving Pieces

This isn’t Game of Thrones. With twice as many main characters as the first season, we’re getting 4 times as many storylines. Part of Season 1’s charm was its simplicity. The main focus was finding the “Yellow King”, and how the development of the dysfunctional, yet charming, partnership between Rust Cohle and Marty Hart made that happen.

Instead, we’re not only worried about who’s killing off associations to Frank Seymon, but also an investigation into Ray Velcoro and the Vinci police department, Ray’s custody battle for his son, Paul’s stupid drama (which we eluded to earlier), and Ani’s family “cult” connections/porn addiction. Because of the multiple separate storylines, there’s very little chemistry between the characters (besides Ray and Ani) and the plot just drags…

It was episode 4 of Season 1,  “Who Goes There”, where the series set itself apart from everything else.

Will they pull something like the “6 straight minutes of one continuous shot” off again to make all the storylines worthwhile?

3. Cut the Bullshit, Frank.

I thought Vaughn with an organized crime background would be much more interesting than it has been so far. I understand Frank is trying to “go legit” and it’s not the signs of fading or weakness that bother me…It’s the soliloquies in bed and “attempts to speak with a blank stare” that do.

Frank push

I’m convinced, though, that Frank has turned a corner following his reawakening as a violent man. I loved him tearing the nasty gold teeth out of Danny Santos’s mouth and saying “Why would you greet the world like that?”

Frank’s wife, Jordan (played by Kelly Reilly), is a different dynamic and I don’t know what to make of her. Her consistent glares from a distance make you wonder if she has something else at play, besides what’s in Frank’s best interest, or if there really isn’t anything going on up there. I know everyone can’t be Claire Underwood, but that’s the kind of character I wish Jordan was. Frank has appeared needy of a backbone at times. I hope Jordan can be someone who can reinforce it….or completely break it.

4. Hitting 1/3 on Cliffhangers Isn’t a Good Batting Average.

Season 1 was masterful when it came to making you want more after the duration ran out each week…Rust telling investigators to “Ask the right fucking questions” after the first episode. “The Monster at the end of your dream”, Reggie Ledoux, entering the picture before everything goes black…

We’ve only had one of those instances in Season 2, and it was nearly a killer (literally).

Ray shotgunned

I found that ending to be brilliant. People were already swearing off the show because they thought Ray was dead. The speculation was as heated as the ending to Game of Thrones this past season. The follow up episode had kept the vigor going, an excellent chase scene, but they couldn’t end it with momentum. A weird awkward scene between Frank and Jordan to close the episode was as effective as Russell Wilson not handing the ball off to Marshawn Lynch at the goal line in the Super Bowl.

5. NO MORE MUSICAL NUMBERS!!!

The “Conway Twitty Impersonator in Limbo” bit was weird, right?

Conway Twitty TD

I allowed it because it matched with Ray’s bolo tie and I was excited to see Fred Ward as his father. Maybe it’s a theme with the bar, that Ray is in limbo whenever he’s seated in his booth, but I don’t need this show to turn out like American Horror Story has. My biggest complaint (among many) is that AHS turned into Glee for their “Freak Show” season, and that’s not why I tune in. For 3 episodes in a row, a performer has gotten too much screen time on the same stage in the same bar and I hope that changes in Episode 4.

Why Season 2 Doesn’t Suck

1. Ray Velcoro

Ray’s bolo tie puts Philip Rivers to shame, He’s also the most compelling character on the entire show.

Ray Fucks shit up

Ray has a little bit of both Rust and Marty in him. The baggage is evident and clear, as is the cynicism. He also prides himself on being a good detective, despite being morally and legally compromised. It’s hard to not get excited when he turned down a drink in Episode 3, saying “…it takes the edge off. I want to stay angry.”

2. Ray and Ani’s Chemistry

Ani is closest to Ray’s level as a cop, she’s not in anybody’s pocket, and there’s definitely a mutual respect between the two. On a show that LOVES asking unanswered questions, they are forthright with each other and don’t let bullshit get in the way. You would think two cops from different departments with different agendas would have unnecessary drama…That doesn’t seem to be the case yet.

I think most fans are glad Ray is alive so that they don’t have to deal with more Paul than they have to. Looking forward to some Marty & Rust-like banter going forward.

…and hopefully Ray heals up in time to actually catch someone.

3. Nic Pizzolatto’s Writing

None of the characters are made for Rust Cohle’s philosophy lessons (even as much as Frank tries telling dumb rat stories). They don’t have to be. As slow as the show has progressed so far, the dialogue has still been fantastic. Whether it was malicious or not, Pizzolatto’s shots at his former award winning director, Cary Fukunaga, in the scene on-set of a post apocalyptic film were hilarious…and completely passive aggressive.

I also know that everything on the show is deliberate, and everything has a purpose. Like creepy Rick Springfield…

If we go by some of the Season 1 playbook, there’s a lot riding on episode 4 this week. It’s the midway point, and you have to think Pizzolatto has something up his sleeve.

4. Who Doesn’t Love a Good Mystery?

Caspere’s murder has taken the detectives down one hell of a rabbit hole…Sex trade, corruption, weirdos in animal masks…And with one of Frank’s soldiers having a similar fate, one wonders if we’ve already met the killer (sorry, Stan)….It’s tough to jump ship if you were already invested in the mystery itself. Whether you like or dislike each of the characters, everyone is a suspect in this case.

5. The Sprinkling of Classic HBO TV Alums

One of my favorite aspects to Season 1 was seeing some of my favorite actors from my favorite shows make appearances. The Wire’s Clark Peters aka Lester Freeman and Shea Whigham from Boardwalk Empire are a few notable ones, and this season of True Detective hasn’t been any different. Another Wire alum, Michael Hyatt (Brianna Barksdale) has made waves as Ani’s commanding officer. Deadwood fans should recognize Ray’s teammate, W. Earl Brown, who played Dan Dority on the classic western series…now stalking Paul, for some kind of leverage.

But probably THE BIGGEST REASON True Detective Season 2 doesn’t suck…

Screen Shot 2015-07-08 at 7.28.06 PM

Masuka from Dexter aka C.S. Lee has made his presence known! And that goes a long way in my book…no matter how brief it’s been so far.

Love the show or hate it? Let’s talk about it on Twitter @Mike_PiFF03.

Bears of Thrones

As Free Agency kicked off a week ago, the Chicago Bears made it clear that Jay Cutler will be on their roster in 2015. Pro Bowl guard and 3rd year veteran Kyle Long went as far as declaring his allegiance to his quarterback…

And so, Cutler was dubbed the #OneTrueKingOfTheNorth.  It’s no secret that I am a huge geek…or obsessed with Thrones. So thanks to Long’s Tweet, I will take it a step further and align the 2015 Bears with characters from Game of Thrones (That’ll be stuck in your head forever). WARNING: MILD SPOILERS IF YOU HAVEN’T CAUGHT UP ON THE SHOW. CONTINUE IF YOU DARE.

Jay Cutler / Stannis Baratheon

image1 Long has set the tone with his allegiance and it makes all the sense in the world (of Westeros). Cutler had knocked on the gates of a Super Bowl birth before he was knocked out with a torn MCL against the “Lannisters” of the NFC North, the Green Bay Packers. Sound familiar? Stannis Baratheon was dealt a similar hand at the Battle of Blackwater, blown away by a similar “Green” explosion.

Blackwater Packers

Neither Cutler nor Stannis are very likable to the public. Both can be viewed as underestimated to their opponents, but command loyalty from those closest to them. And you best believe Cutler has slayed some Wildlings in his day… (Picture this being the Vikings)

Slaying Wildlings

Kyle Long / Jon Snow

image2 Most Thrones geeks probably assumed I would have gone with Davos Seaworth, Stannis Baratheon’s righthand man, but I felt Long deserved a much more badass comparison…and there are some strong correlations. Long comes from a family rich in football prowess. While not a bastard, he is the son of a well respected warrior of the game (like Ned Stark). Kyle’s brother, Chris, built a reputation as one of the league’s elite defensive players before he came onto the scene. One hopes Chris doesn’t attend any shady arranged weddings in the near future. And Long has stepped up to lead his position group to protect his quarterback, much like the Night’s Watch at the wall.

Alshon Jeffery / Daenerys Targaryan

image3 Now hear me out, Alshon… Like Daenerys, Jeffery has proven naysayers wrong over the course of his young professional career. He was underrated in the draft, similar to when Daenerys acquired her Unsullied army from “The Masters” of Astapor. Jeffery’s skills and work ethic that helped him ascend to Pro Bowl status are like the Khaleesi’s dragons doing this to everyone in her path…

Jeffery has an opportunity to prove he is a #1 wide receiver like Daenerys, who is gunning for the throne of the seven kingdoms.

Alshon Browns catch

Matt Forte / Jamie Lannister

image4 Incest aside, Matt Forte and Jamie Lannister can be considered comparable for their accomplishments. Forte has always been a workhouse and a consistent weapon for the Bears offense and for multiple head coaches while Jamie served as captain of the Kingsguard under multiple kings. Both are getting up in age and have dealt with their share of injuries (Jamie losing his hand is a lot more severe than anything Forte has dealt with), but have plenty to offer still. Oh, and Bears…

Thrones Bear gif

Martellus Bennett / Tyrion Lannister

image6 Like Tyrion is to all of Game of Thrones, Martellus Bennett is a unique individual on the Bears roster. Both have a great sense of humor. Neither care what others think of them. And when the moment counts most, they can get the job done in the clutch. Bennett will come up with the big play against a division rival…

Marty GW TD

…and Tyrion will rally his troops against impending doom.

Eddie Royal / Barristan Selmy

image5 Neither Eddie Royal or Barristan Selmy are flashy names, but they are helpful pieces to their respective teams and both are quality free agent signings. I mentioned how Jeffery is like Daenerys already…Royal’s skill set can potentially make Jeffery better by forcing team’s to respect the slot more. That pulls coverage away from Jeffery that would allow him to shine, just like Barristan providing council to Daenerys. image7 Proven veterans who both could use a bounce back season. Jermon Bushrod is Pro Bowl left tackle who had difficulties blocking in year 2 of his Bears tenure. Sir Jorah was recently cast away by Daenerys for losing her trust. Both were meant to play big parts in achieving greatness, whether it be a Super Bowl or control of the Iron Throne, and both have the ability to make a comeback.

Jared Allen / The Hound

image8 Outside of similar appearances, both Jared Allen and The Hound are defectors of their longstanding teams. Allen (former Viking) and Sandor Clegane (formerly employed by the Lannisters) are also looking to return to form and regain the feared reputation they both once had.

Pernell McPhee / The Mountain

image9

In his Bears introductory press conference, Pernell McPhee was asked to describe himself.

“I’m violent.” And that was it.

Pernell sack

Also violent and a man of few words, meet Gregor Clegane…

The Mountain

Ego Ferguson / Hodor

image10 Transitioning to a 3-4 defense, the Bears need to identify a nose tackle to eat space up the middle. Hodor would be an AWESOME 0-technique…and Ego Ferguson also seems to fit the bill as well. I’d also like to hear Ferguson do an entire interview just saying “Ego.”

Willie Young / Daario Naharis

image11 In his first year with the Bears, Willie Young was a quarterback assassin. Daario is not very different, playing deadly mercenary for Team Targaryen. Hoping Young can return fully healed, and in Vic Fangio’s 3-4 system, let’s hope to see more of this…

Daario GIF

Followed by this…

Willie Sack dance

Antrel Rolle / Davos Seaworth

image12 Antrel Rolle is another new Bears addition but there are two things he brings to the defensive side of the ball: Loyalty and Leadership. It’s been very cool to hear Rolle speak on his experience in New York and it sounds a lot like what Davos brings to Stannis Baratheon’s camp. Loyal to a fault, not afraid to speak his mind, a warrior, and adaptable.

Antrel Rolle

Kyle Fuller / Bran Stark

image15 Unlike Bran Stark, Kyle Fuller still has the use of legs. But LIKE Bran, Fuller has the potential for big things. After an excellent first month in the league, Fuller had a tough rest of the season. He was forced into a starting cornerback role after Charles Tillman was ruled out for the season and had a quick “Welcome to the League” experience against the league’s best wide receivers. Fuller has the skills and makeup to improve though, and you can’t help but get excited for what’s next…like Bran Stark.

Jon Bostic / Arya Stark

image13 Sure, on the outside the two are nothing alike…but think about it. Jon Bostic has been out of position for most of career, mis-casted as a middle linebacker and a strongside linebacker when he was best suited for weakside linebacker. Arya Stark was raised to be proper and in a world of aristocrats while she is truly meant to handle a sword. Both play with a chip on their shoulder and strike like they have some serious anger issues. Don’t be surprised if both have breakout seasons in new positions coming up.

Bostic hit

Have some more Football & Thrones comparisons on your mind? Or maybe you just want to geek out some more about sports and TV? Let me know on Twitter @Mike_PiFF03

Seattle vs. New England: Everything BUT Football

I love Super Bowl week.

Media Day, All-Time great commercial countdowns, the constant NFL Films replaying of Super Bowls past, food…

It’s the best.

Once #DeflateGate finally blows over (if it ever does), we’ll see the game itself broken down in every way possible and multiple prop bet odds fluctuating up until Idina Menzel starts belting out our National Anthem. We’ll get trash talking from coast-to-coast and perhaps a gentleman’s bet between Ed Murray and Martin Walsh, the mayors of Seattle and Boston.

We DO however have an epic bet going between Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) and Captain America (Chris Evans)

Pratt vs Evans

I would like to heat up the trash talk between the two regions by widening the scope and digging deeper into more than football. By comparing Seattle and New England (Boston) in categories such as music, TV, movies, other sports, beer, etc, we’ll be able to formulate a prediction for the Sunday’s outcome that’s as logical as an elephant choosing the winner…or a tiger.

That was awesome.

Anywho…

Music

In Seattle…

As part of Dave Grohl’s “Sonic Highways” docu-series following the cool concept of the Foo Fighters’ cross country recording journey for their latest album, Grohl and HBO focused on the Seattle music scene. While the central theme was how bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and Alice in Chains almost literally blew up your FM frequencies, helping to create the alternative genre, grunge wasn’t the only calling card for Seattle.

During the post-war era (1945-1975), Seattle produced three of the industry’s all-time great black musicians. Ray Charles recorded his first single and made his television and radio debuts in Seattle. Quincy Jones played as an instrumentalist in Bumps Blackwell’s band. And before he went to England to start recording to eventually gain worldwide fame, Jimi Hendrix was rocking the clubs in Seattle on a nightly basis…In Hip-Hop, most of you know that Macklemore is from Seattle, but did you know Sir Mix A Lot was too? Seattle has also been the hub for current indie music acts, including Sunny Day Real Estate, The Postal Service, Death Cab for Cutie, The Head and the Heart, Fleet Foxes and (one of my favorites) Band of Horses.

In Boston…

I wanted to preface this in the beginning, but we find in a lot of these categories to be “Old School vs. New School” with New England representing a lot of the former. Of course we have to start with the “Bad Boys from Boston”, Aerosmith. Also fondly referred to as “America’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band”, they certainly score big points in this game. Add (the band) Boston, The Cars, and J. Geils Band to the list of bands yours dad (and I) really likes.

But wait, there’s more! While New Edition and Bell Biv Devoe rocked your oversized boom box, Donna Summer had the last dance. Raise your hand if you had a New Kids On The Block lunch box…Marky Mark might have. Add Powerman 5000, American Hi-Fi, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Guster, and The Dear Hunter and you get a pretty good feel for the Boston music scene.

Also Dropkick Murphys, Extreme and Pixies…Oh my!

Who Gets The Edge?

I found myself torn between the two, so I asked a couple of music experts and enthusiasts for their thoughts:

“Both great legacies. I couldn’t possibly pick one over the other, as four of my favorite bands of all time come from each city: Mission of Burma and Morphine (Boston/Cambridge) and Fastbacks and Mudhoney (Seattle). Also Tad makes up for the rise of Candlebox in Seattle, and the Cars make me want to forgive Boston for the existence of Extreme.” – Greg Kot, Chicago Tribune Music Critic 

“Hard to not pick Boston just because I have so many musician friends there, but Seattle is formidable. I will call it a draw.” – Len Kasper, Chicago Cubs Television Broadcaster and musician.

See! Not that easy.

However, I’m a firm believer in quality over quantity and Seattle’s scene from the 90’s and recently is too good to deny. Plus, they don’t have a band like Extreme to worry about canceling out.

TV

Set in Seattle…

When we see Seattle depicted on television, what impressions do we get? Progressive, new age, rainy?

Twin Peaks, Weeds, Grey’s Anatomy, The Killing (aka The show that makes me genuinely afraid of Seattle.) And of course…

Frasier. 

Set in Boston…

There’s a handful of the typical (but still good) “Boston” themed shows. Boston LegalBoston Public, Boston Commons (yeah, I said it.)…Wahlburg is basically a synonym for “Boston” so Wahlburgers is included. Fringe, Leverage, and Rizzoli & Isles too. Ally McBeal is your “Grey’s” equivalent. And then there’s the real Boston heavyweight…

Cheers. 

Who Gets The Edge?

At the end of the day, its Frasier vs. Cheers isn’t it? And there wouldn’t be a Frasier without Cheers. So Boston gets the win here.

Movies

In Seattle…

Yes Chick-Flick lovers, Sleepless in Seattle is a classic. But it’s not Seattle’s only claim to fame in the genre. 10 Things I Hate About You, Love Happens, An Officer and a Gentleman, the upcoming Fifty Shades of Grey film, and Say Anythingare all worthy of getting a spin this Valentine’s Day.

Some of my favorites include This Is Spinal Tap, War Games and 50/50. Add thrillers like Fear, The Hand That Rocks The Cradle and The Ring. And of course we can’t forget Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, Saving Silverman, and Harry and the Hendersons.

In Boston…

There’s a fun spectrum of films that come to mind when you think of films based in Boston.

Gritty action movies: The Equalizer, Boondock Saints, The Town

Sports movies: Fever Pitch, Celtic Pride, and I’ll allow Field of Dreams.

Comedies: Legally Blonde and Ted

Oscar nominated dramas: Good Will Hunting, Mystic River, The Fighter, and The Departed.

Who Has The Edge?

As much as I love 50/50 and War Games, Seattle can’t compete with the heavy hitters that were filmed in Boston. How do you like them apples?

Food

In Seattle…

Visuals are helpful. Warning: you may get hungry.

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In Boston…

Ditto.

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The Edge?

I don’t think you can go wrong getting seafood in either town, but my tastebuds lean toward Boston for the pizza and sweets.

Landmarks/Sights

In Seattle…

Space Needle

The Space Needle

Pike Place Fish Market

Puget Sound view

The Puget Sound

Safeco Field

Safeco Field

Fremont Troll

…and the Freemont Troll. It’s under a bridge. And scary/adorable. 

In Boston…

Mass State House

The Massachusetts State House

Hatch Memorial Shell

The Hatch Memorial Shell

Freedom Trail

The Freedom Trail

Fenway Park

Fenway Park

Cheers Bar

…where everybody knows your name. 

The Edge?

Close call, but how about that view in Seattle? Fenway Park will always have a place in my baseball heart but the Bridge Troll is kind of a deal breaker.

LIGHTNING ROUND!

Starbucks vs. Facebook – Seattle: Both addicting and everywhere, but I don’t have to worry about baby pictures, candy crush invites or internet trolls at any of the 5 Starbucks in a 3 mile radius of my house.

Sports Other Than Football – Boston: Love Gary Payton, Shawn Kemp, Ken Griffey Jr. and Edgar Martinez, but how many championships does the city have outside of the football stadium?

Beer – Boston: The Seattle craft beer scene is definitely a thing. Black Raven, Elysian, Georgetown and Naked City are all notable breweries…but the Boston Beer Co. is America’s original.

The Score: 

Seattle – 3
New England – 5

Sorry, Star-Lord.

Peter Quill

Let us know what you think and other ways your favorite city is better than the other by Tweeting @Mike_PiFF03