Mixed Media

"The Good Wife" Is Back. We Have to Talk About It Right Now. Stop What You Are Doing.

| Mon Oct. 5, 2015 3:02 PM EDT

The best show on network television finally returned last night, but is this Good Wife still the Good Wife we all know and love? Kalinda and Finn have joined Will in that great big green room in the sky and last night's episode felt...different.

Let's talk about it.

Alicia's life sucks at the moment. She has no law firm. She has no male love interest. She has no friends. And where are her dumb kids anyway? She's a pariah! "I'm a pariah," she does not say as the episode begins, but she might as well have. She's whiling away her days in Shooter McGavin's bond court, fighting for pick-up cases with beleaguered unclean lawyers who probably went to a joke Ivy like Cornell unlike Alicia who went to Georgetown, which never pretended to be an Ivy in the first place. Poor good wife.

Governor Bad Husband promised his good wife last year that he wouldn't run for president if she didn't want him to and she didn't want him to so he isn't running for president. OK? Fine, Good. Whatever. But then the good wife changes her mind, because Peter running for president is going to be the plot line for this season—paralleling the plot line in America these days—so she needed to get with it. Peter's chief of staff, the Russian computer hacker from GoldenEye, is very pleased with this development and he celebrates by wooing Margo Martindale, a top-flight campaign consultant, the meth-making matriarch from the second season of Justified.

But Margo Martindale doesn't want to be just another campaign strategist. She wants to be the campaign manager and for reasons not entirely clear, Peter goes along with this and fires Alan Cumming. The good wife's bad husband is also a bad boss.

Meanwhile the attractive young man who used to be Alicia's rival before becoming her law partner before becoming superfluous to the main plot of the show is unhappy at the big fancy law firm that bears his name. Cary's few scenes in this episode are dedicated to him trying to be popular with the first year associates who think he's a stodgy old fart because he spends all of his time with his stodgy old fart partners in their stodgy old fart ivory tower.

Speaking of Cary's aged old partners: Diane and the lawyer who makes the divorces happen are facing off against Alicia in probate court over some meaningless bullshit about a painting that is worth a lot of money. Who will get the deceased's paining? No one cares. But this does provide a nice forum for the show to do what it does best: wink at the audience and acknowledge that the show isn't really about the cases. The Good Wife, more than any other legal drama, doesn't want you to care about the cases. The cases are just a thing for the characters to do. The marathon of random specialists testifying about post-it notes in this probate case are a great example of that. Not even the judge cares about what the post-it scientists have to say.

Anyway, Alicia covers for one of the bond court lawyers—because bond court lawyers stick together— and then the bond court lawyer covers for Alicia in the probate hearing for which she's totally unprepared. Diane and Divorce Attorney are going to school her so hard but then—shocker!—the bond court lawyer is good at law and wins the case. Bond court lawyer is apparently supposed to be Alicia's new friend.

Then Alicia hires Alan Cumming to be her chief of staff because the good wife is also a good friend. Alan Cumming tells Margo Martindale that he is going to destroy her.

Oh also Michael J Fox wants Alicia to work with him. And I think she sort of said yes at the end. (Or did she?) It wasn't entirely clear.

What is this show about now? It used to be about Alicia finding the courage, through crosses and losses, to become the person she wanted to be. Is it still about that? I guess we'll have to wait and see.

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John Oliver Slams Republicans Who Only Discuss Mental Health to Actively Avoid Gun Control

| Mon Oct. 5, 2015 9:07 AM EDT

In the wake of Thursday's mass shooting at a community college in Oregon, many Republicans were quick to dismiss renewed calls for increased gun safety measures, in favor of discussing the need for a stronger mental health care system. 

On Sunday, John Oliver agreed that mental health is a topic Americans need to properly address. But as he explained on the latest Last Week Tonight, broaching mental health issues in the aftermath of a mass shooting is more often than not a political strategy used to simply reroute the conversation away from gun control.

"It seems like there is nothing like a mass shooting to suddenly spark political interest in mental health," Oliver said, while featuring the talking points of Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump, Ben Carson, and Mike Huckabee—all of whom steered away from discussing increased gun control legislation after the shooting in Oregon, to tout the need for better mental health programs.

In reality, this is dangerously problematic because, as Oliver explains, "the vast majority of mentally ill people are nonviolent, and the vast majority of gun violence is committed by non-mentally-ill people."

But if Republicans are only willing to talk about treating mentally ill people following mass shootings, so be it: Then at the "very least we owe them a fucking plan," Oliver said.

Bikini Kill's Classic Demo Finally Reissued

| Mon Oct. 5, 2015 6:00 AM EDT

Bikini Kill
Revolution Girl Style Now
Bikini Kill Records

Loud, surly and thrilling, Revolution Girl Style Now reissues the raw 1991 demo tape by the Olympia, Washington, punk quartet widely considered to have launched the Riot Grrl scene, leading the way for a host of other women not content to stay quiet. Feral singer Kathleen Hanna mixes performance art and old-fashioned show-biz charisma in confrontational outbursts like "Daddy's L'il Girl" and "Suck My Left One," addressing feminist concerns with surges of fabulous noise. For longtime followers, this essential set offers three previously unreleased tracks, including the sludgy "Playground." Recommended for fans of Sleater-Kinney and Screaming Females, and anyone else who appreciates rock and roll at its primal best.

The Bottle Rockets' Latest, "South Broadway Athletic Club," Is One of Their Best

| Mon Oct. 5, 2015 6:00 AM EDT

The Bottle Rockets
South Broadway Athletic Club

Utterly familiar yet amazingly fresh on every album, Brian Henneman and company have made loose-jointed, empathetic roots-rock for more than two decades. South Broadway Athletic Club ranks among their best. Spiritual cousins of Drive-By Truckers, with less tragedy and more wry humor, this lovable St. Louis quartet honors people who don't merit headlines, including the auto worker with a bad attitude ("Chrysler"), the dude with a canine best friend ("Dog") and someone whose idea of a good time is wasting time ("Big Fat Nuthin'").

The Bottle Rockets' nimble mix of boogie, blues, and country provides the perfect setting for Henneman's twangy everyman vocals. He's been one of pop's more underrated singers for a long time, but it's never too late to get on the bandwagon.

Why Do I Like Reza Farazmand's Stupid Comics So Much?

| Sat Oct. 3, 2015 6:00 AM EDT
Reza Farazmand

Does a man ever grow up? Apparently not. I'm a geezer, for Chrissake, and I can't stop laughing at Poorly Drawn Lines. That's the popular web comic by Reza Farazmand that, come October 6, you can acquire in the form of ink rolled onto processed and flattened dead trees. You know, a book.

Farazmand's gags are, if not poorly drawn, then simply drawn. They poke fun at technology, art, metaphysics, human (and creature) foibles, and the meaning of life. For the most part, they're kind of juvenile and super jaded, kind of like The Far Side meets Mad magazine, except with more swearing. Naturally, my 13-year-old loves 'em. And although they're hit or miss, like all comics, I love 'em, too.

The book's very first strip reads as follows:

Buffalo: Some buffalo can jump as high as 36 feet.

Man: That's not true.

Buffalo: Some buffalo are lonely and lie to gain attention.

[They pause to consider.]

Buffalo: Some buffalo would be down to get a drink later, or...

Man: I have a thing tonight.

Buffalo: Okay.

If I have to explain why that's funny, you don't deserve to get it. (Sorry, Mom.) But plenty of people do, judging from the strip's 650,000-plus Facebook fans. Here are some more examples from the book:

Reza Farazmand

Reza Farazmand

All 8,400 Apollo Moon Mission Photos Just Went Online. Here Are Some of Our Faves.

| Fri Oct. 2, 2015 5:46 PM EDT

Every photo ever taken by Apollo astronauts on moon missions is now available online, on the Project Apollo Archive's Flickr account. That's about 8,400 images, grouped by the roll of film they were shot on. You can finally see all the blurry images, mistakes, and unrecognized gems for yourself. The unprocessed Hasseblad photos (basically raw scans of the negatives) uploaded by the Project Apollo Archive offer a fascinating behind-the-scenes peek at the various moon missions…as well as lots and lots (and lots) of photos detailing the surface of the moon. Here's a very small taste. All photos by NASA/The Project Apollo Archive.


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Watch a Bear Destroy a Woman's Kayak After She Thanks Him for Not Destroying Said Kayak

| Thu Oct. 1, 2015 12:43 PM EDT

An expression of gratitude should never be followed by a threat of pepper spray.

YouTube user Mary Maley learned this lesson the hard way after she encountered a black bear during a recent kayaking trip in Alaska.

"Thank you for leaving my kayak alone!" Maley tells the bear in the video.

As the bear saunters toward her, Maley quickly decides to abandon such pleasantries and hauls out the pepper spray, telling the animal, "I'm going to pepper-spray you in the face. That's what I'm going to do with you."

After she does just that, the bear turns around and begins to destroy Maley's kayak, while Maley engages in an increasingly hysterical rant.

"Bear! Bear! Why are you breaking my kayak? Why are you doing that?!" she screamed, her voice rising.

She also points out that it's the end of September and the bear should be asleep. To no one's surprise, the bear seems unimpressed with her hibernation facts and continues playing with her boat.

John Oliver Couldn't "Give Less of a Shit" About Donald Trump

| Thu Oct. 1, 2015 10:42 AM EDT

On Wednesday, John Oliver stopped by the Late Show with Stephen Colbert to refrain from talking about the one guy America just can't seem to stop talking about—Donald Trump.

"Do you care about him at all?" Colbert asked.

"I couldn't give less of a shit," Oliver responded to a raucous applause from the audience. "It's physically impossible."

He goes on to remind Colbert that it's only 2015, and while the media remains laser-focused on reporting the antics of Trump and the rest of the 2016 candidates, he plans to wait until 2016 to actually weigh in.

"I don't care until we're in the same year as the thing I'm supposed to care about," Oliver explained.

And as the comedian goes on to say, there are far greater issues outside of election-related items that warrant our discussion. Cue the next episode of Last Week Tonight.

"Black-ish" Took On the N-Word in Its Season Premiere. Next Up: Gun Control.

| Wed Sep. 30, 2015 2:40 PM EDT

Since his latest show, Black-ish, debuted last year, showrunner Kenya Barris hasn't been afraid of sparking debate.  

His weekly portrait of the Johnsons, a well-off black family in Los Angeles, already has taken on issues like the Republican Party's relationship with African Americans and homophobia in the black community. And in a memorable season premiere last Wednesday, the Johnsons embraced the intergenerational debate over the N-word.

This week, the show will face another contentious issue: gun control. In an interview with BuzzFeed on Tuesday, Barris gave a preview of what will happen: When a neighborhood break-in occurs, Dre (Anthony Anderson) contemplates buying a gun, with wife Bow (Tracee Ellis Ross) arguing against it. (Nearly half of people who own a gun say they do so for protection.)

Barris said the idea behind the episode originated in the writers' room, when the creator told his team that he was trying to buy a gun, shocking his colleagues. As he told BuzzFeed

They were blown away…[I was like,] This isn't crazy. I'm not buying a gun to kill someone. But it split the room down the middle. For me, that's always a good sign that there's a story in there.

The notions and ideology of gun ownership has a lot socio-economic and cultural reasons behind it. We're not a political group. And we don't want to…start taking real hard stands on things that people have the right to have different opinions on. We want to have the filter of the family reflect different opinions and do it in a fun and funny way. That's what we try to do with each episode.

You can catch the episode, "Rock, Paper, Scissors, Guns," tonight at 9:30 p.m. EDT/PDT on ABC. 

College Athletes Just Lost Another Battle in the Fight to Get Paid

| Wed Sep. 30, 2015 2:28 PM EDT
Former UCLA basketball star Ed O'Bannon in 2010.

A federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that even though the NCAA violated antitrust law by restricting payments to athletes, the organization can keep colleges from compensating athletes beyond the cost of attending school.

The 78-page opinion struck down a lower court injunction in O'Bannon v. NCAA that proposed that schools pay athletes an additional $5,000 per year in deferred compensation for using their likenesses in video games. It did, however, uphold another decision that granted schools the authority to pay for an athlete's full cost of attendance, which includes covering expenses like home visits and cellphone bills.

The panel found that the NCAA was "not exempt from antitrust scrutiny," and that the association's rules "have been more restrictive than necessary to maintain its tradition of amateurism in support of the college sports market."

The opinion marks a victory for the NCAA at a time when the organization faces repeated challenges regarding the rights of athletes. In a statement, NCAA president Mark Emmert said: "We agree with the court that the injunction 'allowing students to be paid cash compensation of up to $5,000 per year was erroneous.' Since Aug. 1, the NCAA has allowed member schools to provide up to full cost of attendance; however, we disagree that it should be mandated by the courts." 

As Vice Sports' Kevin Trahan notes, Wednesday's decision raises another question at the heart of the debate, at least for gamers: Does it allow EA Sports, and more importantly the NCAA, to cash in on a college sports video game in the future? The answer, Trahan points out, may be yes.