Author Archives: Joe Froemming

I’m a reporter/copy editor for the Bemidji Pioneer. Previously, I worked for the Worthington Daily Globe as a copy editor and before that, I had a brief stint as the Fine Arts Columnist for the St. Cloud Times. I was born and raised in St. Cloud, a graduate of St. Cloud State University and worked in record stores for 10 years before wandering into the world of journalism. I live in Bemidji with my wife Gina and our cat, Mac. All the papers and towns mentioned above are located in Minnesota.

‘Walking Dead’ Spin-Off Has A Title

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Walkers - The Walking Dead _ Season 5, Gallery - Photo Credit: Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC

Walkers – The Walking Dead _ Season 5, Gallery – Photo Credit: Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC

This Sunday marks the season finale of “The Walking Dead,” and normally that means fans would have to wait until fall — when the leaves of trees start to die like so many of the show’s main characters have thus far — before they can get their “killin’ zombies” fix. But the powers that be have heard your calls, nay, demands that they supply more “Walking Dead” content and not that lame wannabe series. And those demands are set to be met by summer.

The new spin-off series (or companion series) will not be an hour of Daryl Riding His Motorcycle, Cooking and Threatening Children With Carol or the Adventures of Rick Grimes’ Beard. It will take place in Los Angeles before the events of “Walking Dead” and will follow a different group who are living in a world becoming overrun by zombies and where even the non-zombies can be cannibals, psychopaths or priests who allowed their flock to be eaten by the undead, all of whom might be made up of actors from “The Wire.

The show does have an fairly plain title: “Fear The Walking Dead.” The title was announced on Twitter on Friday by creator of the comic and TV series, Robert Kirkman. It’s like they just threw another word in there and called it that. On the other hand, it won’t confuse people into thinking it’s not “Walking Dead” related, so there is that. I actually liked the code name they used for it, “Cobalt” better.

While it is a prequel, it will allegedly eventually catch up to the time frame of “The Walking Dead.” It’s first trailer is supposedly set to air during “Talking Dead” on Sunday and the new series is suppose to start this summer. So you won’t have to waste your summer sitting around wishing for more “Walking Dead” and watching reruns to get your fix.

Side note: I plan on live tweeting the season finale on Sunday. You can follow me at @josephbemidji on Twitter.

George R.R. Martin Doesn’t Get Spoilers, Then Spoils ‘Citizen Kane’

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Martin

There are many things the author of the “A Song of Ice and Fire” series (or “Game of Thrones” for those who prefer the television version) George R.R. Martin understands: Prose, creating worlds, killing off main characters, maps, ect.

But inevitably, much like winter will fall upon this world (or the Midwest), his prose will not keep pace with the television adaptation and the show will bring an end to the series before Martin can finish the books. And that ending will be pretty much the same as the books, thus giving TV viewers a chance to spoil this rich tale to those book nerds who have spoiled it for them up to season five. Because revenge is a dish best served out of spite, or something like that.

But what he does not understand is the fans freaking out about spoilers as the show progresses beyond his written words — those pesky factoids that are capable of ruining surprises throughout the story’s narrative. Though the show will differentiate on certain characters and their stories, the end game is the same for both versions.

“This whole concept of spoilers is one that I’ve never gotten,” Martin told the Verge.com during the premier of “Game of Thrones” season five. “Yes, there’s a pleasure when you’re reading a book, or watching a television show — What will happen next? Who will win? Who will lose? But that is by no means the only reason to watch a movie or a television show. It’s not the only reason to read a book.” So, quit your complaining about elements of surprise being ruined and rejoice in elements of characters walking around, talking and not doing thrilling things that could be ruined by bigmouths.

Though Martin was not stopped at that point. Much like a broadsword coming down upon a disgraced king’s neck, Martin’s vocal-blade descended upon the figurative neck of the symbol of Charles Foster Kane’s childhood innocence — before his soul withered to black — in the film “Citizen Kane.”

“And for that matter, I still enjoy watching ‘Citizen Kane’ every few years even though I know ‘Rosebud’ is the sled. So there — I just gave a terrible spoiler to all the people who haven’t seen ‘Citizen Kane.’ Rosebud is the sled, but nonetheless, you should still watch ‘Citizen Kane,’ because it’s incredible,” Martin cackled like the monster he is, spoiling this film for all future film buffs for generations to come.

Bruce Campbell To Play Ronald Reagan in Season 2 of ‘Fargo’

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FAR_logo_v02

 

Alright people, listen up! You see this? This… is Bruce Campbell! The star of the “Evil Dead” cult franchise. Sam Rami’s top of the line actor. You can find him in the DVD department or streaming movie services . That’s right, this actor was born in Royal Oak, Michigan. His films retail for about a nineteen, ninety five. His credits include television, film and a memoir. That’s right. Cast smart. Cast S-Mart. You got that?!!

Sorry, I couldn’t resist rewriting that classic “Army of Darkness” quote for this. campbell

It was announced that Bruce Campbell, who played the character Ash in the “Evil Dead” film franchise and the upcoming TV series sequel, will be venturing into a different blood soaked Midwest town, this time in the “Fargo” universe. He will be playing President Ronald Reagan, who will pass through one of the towns while on the presidential campaign trail during the second season of FX’s “Fargo” series.

The second season will take place in 1979 in Luverne, Minn. and Sioux Falls, S.D. It will be a prequel to the first season, which primarily took place in Bemidji and Duluth in 2006, and follows a young Lou Solverson back from Vietnam and working the police beat. A beat he spoke of in season one that still haunted the character 30-odd years later because of viciousness of the violence.

FX Networks CEO John Landgraf said “He’s (Reagan) on his first campaign [and he] makes a swing through Fargo. Some of the characters have some interactions with him. And some of his movies are also a part of the show.” As to how big his role will be is unknown, but Landgraf stated the second season will use the cultural changes of that time as a part of the show.

No word yet if he will have a chainsaw hand or a boom stick.

For more of the synopsis of season two, click here.

Black Sabbath To Perform Final Concert (w/Spotify Playlist)

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Black Sabbath

Black Sabbath, the band generally recognized as one of the creators of heavy metal, will do something its frontman Ozzy Osbourne has threatened to do on his own for at least two decades — retire. This year they will release their final album and perform their final show.

Before you get too excited, there is one catch in seeing Sabbath perform for the last time — you will have to fly to Japan to see it. That’s right, their final show will take place Nov. 22 at Ozzfest Japan, because when you think gloomy metal and haunting vocals, Japan is usually what comes to mind.

Also announced is that Korn, the band that made kilts, JNCOs and cornrows popular in the late 90s, will also perform for some reason. So, if you fly all that way, prepare to sit through a set of bad nu metal that died out 15 years ago.

Black Sabbath has a colorful history of stopping and starting again. They have gone through numerous lead singers (the only real notable ones being Ozzy and Ronnie James Dio), battled with one another, both in-band and out in many court rooms over the years. The only member whose been a part of every version has been guitarist Tony Iomi, though he has been dealing with health issues as of late, so it makes sense he may want to spend the rest of his golden years not playing the same riffs he’s been playing since the late 60s to drunken metalheads all over the world.

I actually saw them on their 1999 reunion tour, at an Ozzfest in Somerset, Wis. It was quite fantastic, despite some flat notes from Ozzy (which I give the man a pass on, he was very entertaining as a frontman, engaging the crowd and shooting at them with a giant fire hose). The band was pretty solid, considering they were well into their 50s at that point.

Another highlight of that show: A visibly drunk Rob Zombie rambling incoherently about Black Sabbath on stage before their set.

It was also announced that Ozzy has invited original drummer Bill Ward (who has sat out this current reunion due to a contract dispute, and has also dealt with health issues over the years). While at this point it remains unknown if he will, or even be able to, perform with the band. My guess is he probably will not, but who knows? I never thought when I was 15 that I would see a reunited Sabbath and three years later I did, so anything can happen.

Their final album will be produced by Rick Rubin, who produced their last album, “13.”

Here are some of my favorite Black Sabbath songs (including some from the Dio years):

REVIEW: ‘Better Call Saul’ Episode 7: Bingo and Episode 8: Rico

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Michael McKean as Chuck and Bob Odenkirk as Jimmy McGill - Better Call Saul _ Season 1, Episode 8 - Photo Credit:Ursula Coyote/AMC

Michael McKean as Chuck and Bob Odenkirk as Jimmy McGill – Better Call Saul _ Season 1, Episode 8 – Photo Credit:Ursula Coyote/AMC

Episode 7: Bingo

I missed writing up last week’s episode, so this will be brief.  The gist was the Kettlemans, after being told by Kim at Hamlin that the best case scenario for the money theft would still include prison time, they head back to Jimmy. They want him to find a loophole that will get them out of any repercussions, but still hold onto the money they stole. And they hold the hush-money they gave him as leverage for him to take their case.

When Jimmy can’t find any way of getting them out of their situation, he sneaks onto their property and gives them the unspent money back. This washes his hands of the affair. Until Mike breaks in and steals the stolen money from the Kettlemans. I know a lot more happened, especially following that amazing Mike origin story, but we will just leave this episode at that.

Episode 8: Rico

This week, we find that the elder law that Jimmy has been perusing has some bite to it after all. And that bite comes from the fact that Sandpiper Assisted Care Living is swindling untold amounts of money from retirees through overcharging items and very small print on their bills.

We also get a glimpse at what Hamlin did to royally tick off Jimmy in a flashback int he opening. Jimmy passes the bar, much to the surprise of both Kim and Chuck. But, it seems, Jimmy’s only future at the firm is the mail room under the decision of Hamlin.

Back to the main story: Jimmy starts digging in at Sandpiper, talking to the retirees and reading their bill statements. This, not surprisingly, is noticed by Sandpiper staff. A snooping lawyer on their grounds (dressed as Matlock or not) is bad for business, especially when that business is bilking untold amounts of money from retirees who gave financial control over to the company for “convenience.”

So they use legalize to keep solicitors off their premises. The lady who checks people in refuses Jimmy to enter, based on some “new” solicitation rule, but Jimmy notices that someone is shredding documents as he’s arguing with the lady and the insanely built body guards at the premise. In a fit of despair, Jimmy claims to have IBS and asks to use the bathroom for the sole purpose of drafting a legal claim to stop the shredding. Obviously, the people who work there don’t care about legal documents scribbled on toilet paper and notepads.

Still determined, Jimmy sneaks through their trash (let’s just say it’s not all shredded paper) when he gets a phone call form Sandpiper’s attorneys. They do it as a courtesy call because of his legendary brother, Chuck, is so highly regarded. But they threaten Jimmy, calling his case a”shake down” and that only pushes Jimmy to go further.

Jimmy takes the loot back to Chuck’s to try and piece together the papers to find a smoking gun. It’s an uphill battle, but Jimmy is determined to do this, but it is exhausting.

Yet it is Chuck, who has been out of the law game for 18 months, who pieces together the papers after Jimmy falls asleep. Chuck, with an intense eye for all things and an encyclopedic mind (we see this many times, especially in the flashback when Jimmy interrupts him, as he’s dictating dense legal cases, to show him he passed the bar), finds the smoking gun for Jimmy.

Chuck is now in full lawyer mode, he is inspired by his brother’s tenacity in this case, and he seems to relish in all the dense legalese and case loads that have set legal precedent. He is already of thinking about opening arguments. One small problem, as Jimmy finds out, is that Chuck is still technically with HH&M. They don’t play it up too much, but I’m guessing this will be a major part of the story next week.

When Sandpiper’s attorneys show up to discuss the case with Jimmy and Chuck, they seem smug having “heard” of Chuck’s condition. They are confident they will make their offer and Jimmy and Chuck will take it. It helps when Jimmy is talking, and Chuck is sitting there, frozen in fear. Chuck looks so uncomfortable that it seems the McGill brothers will take the offer.

Except Jimmy has done his home work. Sandpiper gets its needles from out of state, which involves the scam into interstate commerce and opens them up to a RICO case. As Jimmy lays it out and they ask for a counter-offer, Chuck demands $20 Million or they will see them in court. And Chuck is serious, in full lawyer mode. Chuck is back as a cut throat attorney, and will take it to court because he knows he will win.

And it is while Chuck is in full lawyer mode that we see him do something he thought he couldn’t do. Jimmy has forgotten some paper work in his car and is exhausted. He tells Chuck he will get it later, but Chuck’s mind is at full-speed. He wants the documents now, and he walks right out of his house, grabs the keys from the mailbox and grabs the documents — totally unaware that he is outside and is supposedly allergic to the elements in the sun. As Jimmy watches in awe as his brother is outside, Chuck realizes this, and drops the box of paperwork.

THOUGHTS

* “They’re accredited! Go Land Crabs!” Jimmy on his community college to Chuck.

* “I’m at the opera.” Which one?” “Um, the ‘Magic Flute.'” Jimmy in the dumpster talking to Sandpiper’s attorney.

* Mike is looking for more “work” from the vet after giving his daughter-in-law some of the Kettlemans cash. She wants more. I’m guessing this leads to Mike meeting Gus down the road. You tell me what your have, I’ll tell you what I’ll do,” Mike tells him.

* I haven’t seen the Space Blanket for a while.

* With only two more episodes left, I can already state that this is on par, if not potentially better at times, than “Breaking Bad.” It will be interesting to see what the last two episodes will do, but if it’s anything like its predecessor, then expect a big cliffhanger ending for the last one.

 

Hollywood’s Next Unnecessary Remake: ‘Scarface’

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scarface

OK, those of you living in college apartments, frat houses and dorms: Your “Scarface” posters from the 1983 hit film are about to look as ridiculous as your father’s 1932 “Scarface” film posters did back in 1983. That’s because, once again, Hollywood has decided to take something perfectly fine and make it perfectly finer! Or just remake another hit film from three decades ago for a quick buck.

That’s right, it was announced that Jonathan Herman, who just wrote the N.W.A. biopic “Straight Outta Compton,” will pen the rag-to-riches story about someone rising to the top through crime, drugs, bloodshed and maybe a chainsaw. The film, to be directed by Pablo Larraín, will be set in modern day Los Angeles, a far cry in weather and atmosphere than the Brian De Palma 80’s film, which took place in the chilly and barren city of Fargo Miami. Well, the 1932 film took place in Chicago, so this remake is at least going to be totally different than that one.

Of course the question is, why remake a film that was a genre defining landmark in the 80s? It took the premise of the 30’s original, coupled it with the Cuban-American politics of the time, and made a classic film. I mean, there are times you take a chance and swing for the fences creatively, but remaking “Scarface” is like remaking “The Godfather” in that it shouldn’t be considered. But it is, and it is being remade.

So it’s time to prepare toss aside all those ancient and antiquated quotes from the Pacino film you repeat ad nauseam and look to the future. A future of newer quotes to bug your friends and family with until, 30 years later, a fourth remake is announced.

 

 

REVIEW: ‘Community’ Returns With Mixed Results, But With Promise

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Community; Season 6; Episode 601 "Lawnmower Maintenance & Postnatal Care"; Photo by Trae Patton/Yahoo/Sony Pictures Television

Community; Season 6; Episode 601 “Lawnmower Maintenance & Postnatal Care”; Photo by Trae Patton/Yahoo/Sony Pictures Television

“Community” will be remembered much like “Arrested Development” in that it was its fanbase that kept it alive through even the darkest of timelines. Both were also saved from the network grave by an online streaming service. “Arrested Development” was brought back for it’s fourth season via Netflix. Yahoo Screen through its hat into the online content rings by bringing back NBC’s cult-favorite “Community” for its long awaited sixth season.

“Arrested Development” took a chance with how the streaming service worked by making its fourth season jump around various story arcs and time frames, which sort of split the fans into a “like it” camp and “hate it” one.

“Community” on the other hand, has seemingly kept its basic format — for the most part. It feels like the show we all fell in love with (same feeling as season five’s “Repilot” which brought back showrunner Dan Harmon after the hit-and-mostly-miss of season four, where he was absent), and it looks like it, too. From what I saw from the first two episodes, the production quality is not different at all.

What does feel different is the obvious elephant in the room: Troy, Pierce and Shirley are no longer on the show, and Jonathan Banks’ Professor Hickey is gone too (he is on “Better Call Saul” so this is a forgivable absence). Ever in the “Community”-Dan Harmon way, they deal with it pretty much head on and through meta humor. Shirley went to Atlanta to look after her ill father (the reason Yvette Nicole Brown decided to leave the show). This was done before in season five when Donald Glover left and his character, Troy, set sail on a ship called the “Childish Tycoon” a play on his hip-hop alter ego, Childish Gambino, that he left the show to focus on. When new comer Frankie joins the study group/Save Greendale Committee, the group does not want her to sit at Shirley’s chair, but have no problem with her taking Pierce’s (RIP you Level Five Laser Lotus). It’s those little jokes that keep the show’s spirit alive.

EPISODE 1: Ladders

Like mentioned before, there is a new person sitting at the study desk. As Chang points out that the group is losing some of the minorities that were represented the group, Dean Pelton announces the new addition to the Save Greendale Committee: “New Shirley!” Actually, it’s Francesca “Frankie” Dart (Paget Brewster), an admin official set to get the community college back on track, after presumably years and years of pretty much total chaos.

Frankie sets out to actually saving Greendale from real problems, which automatically upsets the study group. They have been sucked into this school’s insanity for so long that anything normal is a threat to them.

What didn’t work for me in this episode was that everyone has become as insane as Abed, who almost becomes the voice of reason in this episode. I like that Abed’s character is finally growing up a little more, and I love the fact he points out that they’ve all been in community college for years, yet no one has really moved on (or graduated, minus Jeff). But it’s when the rest of the group gets together and creates a speakeasy on campus that felt out of place. Why are Jeff and Britta, who were originally the only voices of reason, now just as mad as the rest? This was the one part that didn’t really gel for me.

I did like Frankie’s addition to the group. She is as anal-retentive as Annie, and is at times as robotic as Abed. She plays along with Abed and the group’s fantasy to try to fit in. You can also sense her exasperation and intrigue at dealing with these maniacs, which worked amazingly well.

THOUGHTS:

* Seeing young Leonard and knowing he’s been at Greendale since the 1970s is both hilarious and frightening in that the school really does not allow people to escape.

* Frankie looking baffled when she sees there is a class simply called “ladders,” and we get to see the actual class later in the episode. The drunk professor falling on Annie an added bonus.

* Britta totally Britta-d Shirley’s sandwich shop.

* Why was Garret spying on the group, and why was Leonard spying on Garret spying on the group?

EPISODE 2: Lawnmower Maintenance and Postnatal Care

This episode introduces the next member of the group, though not until the later half of the show. This premise is the Dean bought a virtual reality machine, much to the chagrin of Frankie who is trying to keep the school within budget. She is not use to this madness, as seen by her reaction to the Dean, and Jeff basically going with the flow now. He can’t change Greendale, and has given up on being shocked or angered by it all.

The Dean goes mad with virtual power, not wanting to leave the machine (a funny play on the 90s movie “Lawnmower Man”). Which means Jeff is sent out to find the man who tricked the Dean into buying something so ridiculous.

The B-Story is Britta centered, and this is interesting. We find out that , over the years, Britta’s study group friends have been in connection with her estranged parents. When she confronts Jeff, he tallies up the thousands of dollars he’s lent her and reminds her that everyone in the group is poor. So how else could they afford to borrow her funds besides having her parents foot the bill? She is also moving in with Annie and Abed, which doesn’t really work for me.

The episode wraps up a little too neat for Britta and her family (she’s been rebelling against cool parents all her life, but her friends love her folks). The better ending was with Jeff meeting Keith David as Elroy Patashnik. What is refreshing is these two characters already have a decent chemistry between them. Like when Patashnik keeps claiming to have been the creator of a couple of popular catchphrases from the 90s, to Jeff’s disbelief. But the zinger is when the Dean gives Patashnik a check for $500, and Patashnik states he has no idea what to do with his life. When the Dean suggests the many classes at Greendale, and Jeff states he’s realized he’s never going to be able to escape, we see how Patashnik will come back.

THOUGHTS:

* Portuguese “Gremlins” sounded funny in theory, seeing the tag of it at the end made me want to see that movie.

* Patashnik: “You’re a clever young man.” Jeff: “I’m 40.”

* Chang being bit by the cat was a good running gag, with his hand getting more and more swollen each time we see him.

* Britta stealing that kid’s hot wheels toy, and then riding it away furiously was ridiculously funny

* Too much Dean wearing that VR helmet and babbling on about creating worlds.

* Chang on first seeing Patashnik: “Troy, you’re back?”

Ghostbusters: The Train Wreck Reboot Saga Continues

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stay puft

There was a time when talking about “Ghostbusters” would not bring annoyance and headaches. Those days are long gone, and much like a Stay Puft Marshmallow Man exploding over a large city, it’s hard to avoid the fallout of the mess that is the “Ghostbusters” reboot.

Just when people had sort of calmed down over Paul Feig’s upcoming all-female reboot of the beloved “Ghostbusters” franchise, it was announced that Sony is planning on taking the Marvel Cinematic Universe-style approach to over-saturating a market with “Ghostbusters.” Because why not?

Adding to the mix of ugggh is Dan Aykroyd and Ivan Reitman, who gave us two perfectly fine movies about people busting ghosts and mocking the EPA, are now part of a new production company, Ghostcorps, which will oversee this new universe. “We want to expand the Ghostbusters universe in ways that will include different films, TV shows, merchandise, all things that are part of modern filmed entertainment,” Reitman told Deadline.

As a part of this new universe, it was also announced that Sony will be making an all-male “Ghostbusters” movie, so those dudes who hated the idea of women busting ghosts can now have their own thing, which they kinda already had with the first two movies. That sort of sounds like a reboot in the middle of a reboot, but it’s not. It’s part of the growing cinematic universe. Or maybe it’s just appeasing those angry, loud fans still upset over the Feig’s concept.

Reitman, who directed the two original films, told Deadline that this new reboot-within-a-reboot will build upon Feig’s film. And from there, this universe will supposedly expand into other projects.

This other reboot seems to have Joe and Anthony Russo (“Captain America: Winter Soldier” and episodes of “Community”) interested in helming the project, with Channing Tatum in a production role and supposedly interested in starring in it along with Chris Pratt. So we will have a new universe of “Ghostbusters.” Divided by gender because having men and women working side-by-side capturing renegade spirits from beyond apparently is too crazy in this day and age.

That is, if it will be a new universe. The problem is that Feig has already stated his reboot exists in a new universe where the original Ghostbusters never existed. And Aykroyd has stated he is still interested in a proper third installment, despite the fact Harold Ramis is dead and Bill Murray has no interest in returning. But given this is a franchise that takes place in a world involving the supernatural, I guess anything is possible. Except probably getting Murray back.

REVIEW: ‘Better Call Saul’ Episode 6: Five-0

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Jonathan Banks as Mike Ehrmantraut - Better Call Saul _ Season 1, Episode 6 - Photo Credit: Ursula Coyote/AMC

Jonathan Banks as Mike Ehrmantraut – Better Call Saul _ Season 1, Episode 6 – Photo Credit: Ursula Coyote/AMC

This episode was a punch in the gut that fans of “Breaking Bad” thought we would never see: What drove Mike Ehrmantraut to Albuquerque, New Mexico from Philadelphia?

We got hints about that life in “Breaking Bad,” but now we have a clearer picture. A stark, brutal picture of a broken man trying to rebuild his life after the death of his son.

This is a very dark, and very well put together episode. As we see what Mike has went through and what he does, you can’t help but feel for the guy. We know he’s a criminal, and will remain one. But Jonathan Banks’ performance sells the viewer on feeling for this man.

The episode begins with a flashback of Mike arriving in New Mexico, wounded both mentally and physically. He has been shot, and is self-treating his wounds. Flash forward to Mike sitting in the Albuquerque PD, with the police from Philly wanting to talk to him about what happened to his son nine months prior. As he replies only with “lawyer” to every question, they allow him his attorney, who is Jimmy McGill. Finally those business cards are paying off!

Mike recruits Jimmy into a ruse where Jimmy spills his coffee on the Philly officer taking notes. This is so Mike can find out why Philadelphia is looking into him now, by stealing the officer’s notebook. It turns out that his daughter-in-law Stacy has called them about hearing her husband, Mike’s son Matty, arguing on the phone that was heated and not long before Matty was killed on the job. And she suspects he was talking to Mike at that time.

The episode flashes back and forth throughout, but the gist of it all was Matt was killed on the job by his fellow officers, Hoffman and Fenske. Mike, broken down and angry, wants revenege. He knows how crooked cops operate because he had been a crooked cop himself. He knew Hoffman and Fenske killed his son. He knew how and why. And it’s eating away at what’s left of his soul.

During a flashback, Mike pulls a nice con: breaks into the officers car and plants a gun. He then acts like he’s getting smashed at the bar (like he had been since his son’s murder) and mumbles to Hoffman and Fenske that he knows they did it. This jars the two cops. They pick him up as he’s stumbling home from the bar, take his weapon as a “precaution” and drive him to an abandoned lot. They are going to take care of him. What they don’t know is Mike stashed a weapon away prior, and emptied the gun they took. And he kills them, though he does take a bullet himself.

But the brutal scene is Mike talking to Stacy about Matty. He screams in her face after she suggests Matty may have been crooked. That’s not the case. The case was Matty knew his partner was crooked and wanted to talk to Internal Affairs.

Mike, knowing the situation, told Matty he shouldn’t. He told his son that even he takes a taste of contraband. His son worshiped his father. “I broke my boy!” Mike cries. But convicning Matty to play along didn’t save him. Matty died because he had a slight hesitation in accepting his taste. Hoffman and Fenske murdered his son because Matty couldn’t be trusted by crooked cops.

And Mike is haunted by that. His son, a good cop, was murdered by his fellow officers because of his convictions. It haunted him as he murdered the two cops in Philly, and it’s still haunting him nine months later in New Mexico. And it’s haunting him six years later when he’s working with Walter White.

The episode ends with Stacy asking Mike “But what happened to the two cops?” to which Mike replies in a cold tone “We know what happened.The question is, can you live with it?” This is the Mike we know from “Breaking Bad.”

THOUGHTS:

* “Your friends from Philly back there? They think you killed two cops,” Jimmy tells Mike. Mike, ever the stone face simply mumbles “Yep.”

* Mike getting his gun shot wound fixed by the veterinarian, on the advice of a cab driver, was hilarious.

* Jimmy is still sporting that Matlock outfit.

* I’ve read this elsewhere, but I tend to agree. This episode can only really be appreciated if you have already seen “Breaking Bad.” I think that those who haven’t may be baffled by such a deep back story about the parking lot ticket booth guy. Mike is a complex character, and knowing more about what is to come in six years gives this episode a lot more weight.

Album Revisit: Beastie Boys’ ‘Paul’s Boutique’ (w/Spotify Streaming Album)

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beastie boys

This is an installment of a series of blogs where I revisit some classic albums that I  love, used to love or has made an impact on pop culture whether I am familiar with it or not. You can also make suggestions on a classic album, and I may give a whirl and review it.

People who say hip-hop music isn’t art obviously have not heard the Beastie Boys’ “Paul’s Boutique.”

The Beastie Boys were riding high with radio play and MTV videos from their debut album, “Licensed To Ill,” when the started making their ambitious and unconventional follow-up in 1989. At the time, they hey were punk kids who found their calling in the hip-hop world. They were snotty, immature and had obnoxious voices — and they were amazing.

They had hit a nerve with their satirical party anthem, “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)” a song they would later be disturbed by the fact people got the whole concept wrong. But they followed “Licensed To Ill” with an almost complete 180 degree change in music. “Paul’s Boutique” would not be the frat-boy party album that their debut unfortunately became associated with.

The odds kind of seemed against them for their second album. They were no longer on Def Jam, and no longer had Rick Rubin producing them. Yet, it seems this almost was an unburdening for them, because they followed suit with what was a game changer in how acts approached the hip-hop genre. They had the freedom to make an album they wanted, without a ton of pressure to simply re-create “Licensed To Ill,” which was the bone of contention with their previous label, Def Jam.

First off, “Paul’s Boutique” is an album that took sampling to a new level. This album is almost a collage of intertwining sounds, clips, samples and vocals. It’s still snotty, but mature in how the music is put together. It took sampling away from being a main hook in a song. It made layered samples create new and weirder music. About 105 songs were sampled for the album, so they had plenty of material to work with. Also helped that the Dust Brothers produced the album. They would also help Beck with “Odelay” years later with incorporating weird production into pop/rock songs.

But that change in musical dynamic was a gamble. A gamble they were willing to take. They were ambitious to do something different. That has a lot to do with Adam “MCA” Yauch, who was the Beastie Boy who saw the group pushing the boundaries of sound. Along with Beasties Michael “Mike D” Diamond and Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz, many ideas started to fly. They were a group of creative minds that pushed the sound of their music to the outer limits. They would later incorporate live instrumentation and samples into their music, which would make for even greater sounds. This was a group that was not going to keep making the same thing over again.

Tracks like “Egg Man,” “Sounds of Science,” “High Plains Drifter” and “Hey Ladies” still remain some of my favorite tracks from this album. But what works is all the tracks blend seamlessly into one another, making the album as a whole solid. “Hey Ladies” also had a great music video for it.

Also, it’s a fun record. Say what you will, but the Beastie Boys were one of those groups that never lost their sense of humor. Off-kilter pop culture references litter all of their albums, things from Bob Dylan, J.J. Walker, The Beatles, “The Brady Bunch,” Johnny Cash, “Star Trek,” Jack Kerouac and basketball all make appearances in either lyrics or samples throughout their career.

Another thing about this album is that, with all the samples and weird references, it makes for a fantastic headphone album. To this day, I still find things in the music that I had not noticed before. But, and here is the genius of the Beastie Boys, it’s also a great record to put on at parties or a social setting. It even works at background music, workout music, whatever. It is a record that can be listened to in any situation.

The album ends with a weird, but awesome medley called “B-Boy Bouillabaisse.” Just a great, weird way to end the album.

This album also set the bar high for the trio. Each album that followed always tried to one-up the previous. While “Paul’s Boutique” was the album that changed the game, it is their follow-up, “Check Your Head” that remains my personal favorite, but just by a hair over “Paul’s Boutique.”

This album still holds up fantastically well. No other album will ever sound like this again. It got depth, a thing most people probably would not have associated with this band after only hearing their debut album. This is, to me, one of the greatest albums ever made.