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.

‘Fargo’ Heading to Luverne and Sioux Falls

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Well, my guess was correct.
The second season of “Fargo” will deal with the mystery case that was brought up a bunch of times in season one that happened in Sioux Falls, S.D. So it will jump back in time to 1979.
It will also take place in a town I lived close to for two years while working at the Daily Globe in Worthington.
The show will take place in Luverne as well.
Either this show is following places I’ve lived in Minnesota or I have lived in mostly unique Minnesota areas that people seem to find “quirky.”
This is pretty cool to me. For season one, I was here in Bemidji where the show took place.
The second season takes place in the past and it features I town I lived near in the past. And, I always passed through it on my way to Sioux Falls.
That’s a pretty cool coincidence.
It will be interesting to hear what my friends in Southwest Minnesota say about the show when it depicts a fictionalized version of their neck of the woods.
Plot-wise, it will follow a young Lou Solverson, back from the Vietnam war in 1979, where he encounters a case that was said in season one to have had bodies that were “stacked so high, you could’ve climbed to the second floor.”
His daughter, Molly (played in season one by breakout star Allison Tolman) will be 4-years-old in the series.
None of the actors from the first season will be returning for season two. Which some people may not like, but I am open to it. Given how interesting the characters in season one, I’d prefer not having to stretch them too thin.
Plus it allows new talent to add something new and different to the series.
Suffice to say, I’m pretty excited for the second go-around with the series.

‘Fargo’ Gets a Second Season

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Aw jeez, it’s happening again.

It was announced that the FX series, “Fargo” will be getting a second installment. And the brilliant mind behind the critically acclaimed TV run, Noah Hawley, will once again be the showrunner of the second (technically, third if you count the movie) go-around in the “Fargo” universe.

Not much is known about what the second season will be about. I hope it deals with the topic of what happened in Sioux Falls, S.D. that was brought up more than a few times in season one. I think that would be interesting for the series to go into another realm of the Midwest. And taking it out of the Bemidji area would mean I won’t live-tweet every episode. I do plan on writing a review of each episode though, because that was a lot of fun. The tweeting often distracted me from the show, so I’d prefer to just blog my thoughts.

Though it still may be filmed in Calgary, so keeping the show in the Bemidji area isn’t impossible, but I would say highly unlikely.

Anyway, I was happy to hear the show is coming back. I hope it doesn’t suffer from a sophomore slump, but I think with Hawley writing and producing, that won’t be a problem.

 

‘Mandatory Fun’ by ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic

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At this point, I think it’s safe to say that “Weird Al’ Yankovic is a national treasure in pop culture. For more than 30 years, he has poked fun all just about every pop music icon and trend. From Michael Jackson to Nirvana to Coolio to Pharrell Williams, the man has spoofed their hits and music videos.

This week, he has released another album full of gems that poke fun at a lot of contemporary hits (ie: earworms). “Mandatory Fun” is hilarious, at times brilliant (“Word Crimes” definitely strikes a chord for me at the copy desk) and a fun album. He even does a Pixies-inspired song that is way better than the new album the Pixies put out this year with “First World Problems.”

Plus, the videos he is putting out (one each day of the week for eight days) are great. The first one for “Tacky” ( a spoof on Pharrell Williams’ “Happy”) features  Aisha Tyler, Margaret Cho, Eric Stonestreet, Kristen Schaal and Jack Black dancing much in the same, obnoxious way Williams does in his video. To be honest, “Happy” has been one of those songs I hear all the time, and I find it to be about as likable  as being punched in the face. So yeah, I was really glad it was parodied by Al.

I also enjoyed “Foil,” the parody of Lorde’s “Royals.” The switch from food to Illuminati-inspired paranoia was a nice move. Also, the video has Patton Oswalt, Thomas Lennon and Ben Garant. So, yeah. I enjoy that.

Today, the video was ”Handy,” a spoof of “Fancy” by Iggy Azalea. I am not too familiar with the original song, so this video really didn’t do much for me.

His other stylized song (like “First World Problems, which he uses a band’s style over a direct parody of a specific song) is “My Own Eyes,” a take on the Foo Fighter. I’ve read other reviews which state this was not that great, but I personally really enjoyed it.

All around, I think this is his best album since 1996′s “Bad Hair Day.” Maybe it’s because of the influx of overly catchy pop songs in the past year, or whatever. Not every track is gold, but I’d say 9 out of the 12 are solid.

Anyway, here is the video for “Word Crimes.” Also, Huey Lewis and Al spoofing one of my favorite scenes from “American Psycho.”


Archie To Meet His Grisly End

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For a second, I thought it was a headline from The Onion.

Beloved comic book character and permanent high school ginger Archie will meet his end by getting shot while saving his best friend. From the drawings I saw, I seriously had to do a double take. I mean, Archie was the safest of safe, bland comics I could ever recall. He literally made Sesame Street look like N.W.A.

But, for me anyway, seeing Archie bleeding out from a bullet wound, looking a lot like Mr. Orange from “Reservoir Dogs” was literally a moment I felt my brain suddenly broke. It was too much.

My initial reaction after was, “Did Frank Miller get hired to do a gritty, film noir take on the Riverdale gang?” I mean, he did turn Batman into a psychotic freak in “Dark Knight Returns.” And it seems like something he would do if given the reins of this series.

I know for the past couple years, this comic has gone into social commentary. A lot of comics do. They always have. But, I always figured Archie would retire in some boring story line I would never have any interest in. Now, he takes a bullet in the gut for his friend, making this dopey kid who hung out with a guy who sported a king’s crown and ate nothing but cheese burgers named “Jughead” into some action hero.

And the following book features how his friends have reacted to his horrific death a year later. Yeah, as if his violent death wasn’t enough, they are treading in darker territory with that. This was not a complex, dark comic series. It was the “Saved By The Bell” of comics.

Seriously, this is “Archie.” The safest comic books in the history of everything. Now has gone dark and gritty. I seriously had to do more research to make sure this was not some joke.

This is not a joke. Wow.

Yeah, that’s pretty messed up.

A New Pink Floyd Album?

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Earlier this week, it was announced that Pink Floyd, the band that gave the world classic albums such as “Dark Side of the Moon” and “The Wall,” will be releasing their first album of original music in 20 years. And my first reaction was a painful groan. It’s not because I dislike the band; on the contrary, Pink Floyd is my favorite band. It just never seems like a good idea when bands 30 years past their prime decide to release new music.

The new album, “The Endless River” is made up of left-over material from the “Division Bell” sessions. Okay, I liked that album. The music was solid and the lyrics were weak (all their lyrics were weak after the departure of main songwriter Roger Waters).

Now, if this happened say, 15-years ago when my interest in new Pink Floyd material was stronger and Richard Wright was still alive, I would be pumped. Maybe in my old age I have grown more jaded and cynical, but I’m finding it hard to muster up a whole lot of interest in this project.

Here is my issue: “The Division Bell” was a perfectly logical place for the band to stop. It made up for the horrendous “A Momentary Lapse of Reason.” It was a solid Pink Floyd album. Heck, one of my favorite authors, Douglas Adams, gave the album its title.

And I’m not a Roger Waters elitist. I think he did destroy the band with his ego after “The Final Cut.” I find that album and “Division Bell” as equals. “Cut” had the incredible lyrics whereas “Bell” had much more interesting music.

Honestly, I’m partial to the acid freak rock of the Syd Barrett led “Piper at the Gates of Dawn.” That album is just brilliant.

But back to my issues with this. On one hand, the fact that there is going to be new music (and what is called pianist Richard Wright’s swansong) is cool. Waters is reportedly not involved, but I think they proved they can make a Floyd album without him.

On the other hand, taking old, unreleased tracks, overdubbing them and releasing them as a brand new studio album just doesn’t feel right. Wright has no say on it because he’s been dead for years. Drummer Nick Mason has always been the guy who just goes along. I love David Gilmour’s voice and guitar tone, but he has flubbed projects in the past.

When it comes out, I will buy it because I am a completeist. I own everything else they have done (including solo albums). I have bootlegs of shows and unreleased studio material. I just hope it does the band’s name justice.

The Wall, Piper at the Gates of Dawn, Animals, Wish you Were Here, Obscured By Clouds, Dark Side of the Moon and Meddle are my top Floyd albums.

Anyway, here is a photo of Shaun Michaels shockingly kicking Marty Jannetty in the face.

Why I Have Hope For The New ‘Star Wars’

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Not too long ago, in cinemas not so far away, George Lucas unleashed a trilogy of films upon the world that nearly shattered many fond memories of my and many others’ childhoods. Drunk with power, high on egomania and obviously bored with re-releasing and tinkering with films of his past, Lucas took his flagship series, “Star Wars,” and mocked our love of those films with a prequel story.

He gave us a bratty Darth Vader, lacking a cool mask and that James Earl Jones baritone. He gave us space debates about space legislation. He gave us that abomination called “Jar-Jar.”

He gave us three uninteresting films. Not even Yoda’s fight scenes could save that wreck.

Now, having sold the franchise to Disney, he has let go of his iron grip of madness and we are now, finally, hopefully, getting the “Star Wars” we’ve wanted since the end of “Return of the Jedi.”

We are getting Luke, Han, Leia, C3 and R2, Chewbacca and more in a follow up directed by J.J. Abrams, the guy who made the first good “Star Trek” films since “Wrath of Khan.”

While almost nothing is known about the plot, I do have faith in Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan (Kasdan helped write “Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi”). I enjoy both of their work.

Plus, Harrison Ford broke his ankle on the Millennium Falcon. So we know that will more than likely be in the film.

And the new cast seems promising. I’m not sure how I feel about the stand-alone films that will come out between episodes 7, 8 and 9. We will see.

But the series seems to be in better hands. I love Lucas’ work with the original trilogy. I’m not a big fan of him going in and changing stuff from those films. I’m not a fan of the prequels. But with a fresh and different perspective on the series, maybe — just maybe we will finally get a new “Star Wars” trilogy that will be worth the admission price.

And I hope I never hear the word “Midi-chlorians” again. Seriously, that was just a bad idea.

Anyways, have a great Fourth of July weekend!

‘Fargo’ Episode 10: Morton’s Fork

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That finale was, in the words of Lorne Malvo, aces!

We finally come to the conclusion of the series, “Fargo,” and it sure as heck didn’t disappoint.

With Malvo roaming Bemidji, the law enforcement is scrambling to find him. They are also terrified too. As Chief Oswalt says, the town is not ready for guerrilla warfare. And with a person like Malvo, that seems to be the only way to get him.

Lester is scamming his way out of another murder of another wife of his. His facade is crumbling before him. Even Lou seems suspicious of him when he’s creating an alibi for his wife’s murder in his diner. He even cracks up when he’s being interviewed by Molly. His lies are catching up to him.

Gus follows a hunch and locates Malvo’s hideout. He seems dead certain about protecting his family.

Without going into every detail, Lester outsmarts Malvo (after Malvo follows him home) by tricking him into his bedroom and planting a bear trap under some laundry to crush Malvo’s leg.  Malvo flees wounded and as he’s patching himself up at his hideout, Gus puts an end to Malvo’s existence.

Lester two weeks later is chased by cops while on the lamb in Montana. He runs on thin ice and like Hell swallowing him up, he goes under and meets his end too.

This finale was intense. The suspense from the start to the end was incredible and that is something. The scene were Gus is poking around Malvo’s hideout was drawn out perfectly to raise the anxiety and switches back to Lester and the FBI agents being attacked by Malvo. This is similar to the first episode’s pace. I was so in tune with the FBI agents and Malvo, and then Lester with Malvo that I forgot all about Gus until Malvo saw that wolf (symbolism!) out his window.

And having Molly finally proven correct the whole time was just wonderful, although it took a lot of time and bodies to get there.

For 10 episodes, this has been one of the best written, produced and acted series in recent memory. Heck, I would put this in my top-5 favorite dramatic TV shows ever. The show took a lot of risks (jumping a whole year into the future on the eighth episode, I mean that’s quite a gutsy thing to do) and it definitely paid off.

And hats off to Noah Hawley. Given how revered the film is, and to add to that word with something just as equal in quality, he truly wrote an incredibly “10 hour movie” as he likened it when I interviewed him just before the series aired.

Observations:

* The guy who worked at the “alleged” library in Bemidji apparently works for the used car lot.

* Bill giving the chief position to Molly was touching.

* Like the reference to the film with the DLR (dealer) plates.

* “The other one now?”  Molly on Lester’s second dead wife.

* It takes a bear trap and a lot of bullets to put Malvo down.

* Lester get’s his nose broken a second time by another bully in his life.

* Lester is wearing another obnoxious red coat when he’s caught in Montana.

* Molly saying “Goodbye Mr. Nygaard” like that was chilling. She knows he’s doomed.

That’s it. It was a fun ride these past 10 weeks. I’ve enjoyed watching this show and engaging with people on this blog, Twitter and Facebook about it. Thanks for following along. Now I will blog about things that are not “Fargo.” For the most part.

‘Fargo’ Episode 9: A Fox, a Rabbit, and a Cabbage

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Lester just couldn’t keep his trap shut.

The dumpy little insurance agent we met in the first episode has, by the ninth, developed an inflated ego. One that prompted him to attempt to face Malvo in a Las Vegas hotel elevator. And, just like in the first episode, Malvo warns Lester if, by having Malvo recognize him, if that is really what he wants.

With Lester’s “yes,” three people are brutally shot in that elevator. Lester’s confidence takes a quick nose-dive.

This episode sets up for the finale, which seems more and more a battle of wits now between Malvo and Lester. I will be surprised if neither one dies in the end.

Molly has gotten the attention of the FBI, Key and Peele’s bumbling agents that dropped the ball when Malvo gunned down the crime syndicate in Fargo.

Lester is under Molly’s radar again with the Vegas shootings. He’s also under Malvo’s radar too. Jail or death seems to be the path, but as this series has done from episode one, there are always more than two ways out for Lester.

Observations:

* Finally, we see Paul and Babe. And the likeness was pretty close to me. Pretty awseome.

* Key and Peele’s FBI agents Pepper and Budge are very poor at observing things. They walked right past Malvo in the diner.

* Lester is scum. Dresses his wife up like him to see if Malvo would kill him in his office. Which he does.

* Where the heck is Mr. Wrench?

* Malvo as a dentist, I don’t know why, but it seems like a natural fit for an occupation for him.

Next week is the finale, which I believe will be 90 minutes.

FARGO “A Fox, A Rabbit, and A Cabbage” — Episode 109 — Airs Tuesday, June 10, 10:00 pm e/p) — Pictured: (L-R) Keith Carradine as Lou Solverson, Billy Bob Thornton as Lorne Malvo — CR: Chris Large/FX

‘Fargo’ Episode 8: The Heap

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Talk about a twist.

It’s a pretty gutsy thing for a 10-episode run of a series to suddenly leap one year into the future — especially on the eighth episode. And with a lot of strings seemingly still in the air. It created more questions than answers.

First off, I want to mention it’s some good writing in this series that had me silently rooting for Lester to stand up for himself in the first few episodes to having me be pretty disgusted with the character by the seventh episode and pretty much hating him by the eighth. That is quite the turnaround.

Now, we see that a year after Molly returned to the police force that Lester’s brother did, in fact, end up taking the fall for the crimes he committed or set in motion . Lester is remarried, and is a success at his job.

Molly and Gus are married, with a child on the way. Gus is doing what he originally wanted to do in life — delivering mail as a mailman. Molly is still an officer.

And it ends with quite the run-in for Lester. After accepting an award in Las Vegas and trolling for infidelity, he sees a familiar face across the bar — Malvo.

It will be quite the last two episodes coming up, but I don’t think Lester’s moment at the top is going to last long.

Observations:

* Gina Hess (Kate Walsh) says what is perhaps most sexually graphic things in two sentences that I’ve heard on TV that wasn’t HBO.

* I want to see more of Mr. Wrench and I hope that he is now working for Malvo.

* Molly still hasn’t forgotten the events and is still convinced Lester is the true culprit.

* As silly as Malvo’s haircut was, his locks in the Vegas bar are more disturbing.

I’m really curious how they plan to wrap this up. I’ll be back live tweeting on Tuesday. Episode review will be up at its normal time.

‘Fargo’ Episode 7: Who Shaves the Barber?

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Lester, Lester, Lester — you brilliant sociopath.

The frame-up set forth in last week’s episode by Lester toward his brother seems to have gone off without a hitch. It was convincing enough for Chief Bill Oswalt (duh!) and the rest of the Bemidji Police Department. Except, as we saw at the end, a recuperating Molly Molly Solverson.

This episode we see Lester basically with his confidence back. A confidence that is rooted in his criminal ways. He’s acting like he’s now the smartest and cleverest guy in the room. His brother is in jail for crimes he committed and that doesn’t seem to bother him. Lester is, as we saw in the episode, a horrible person.

And we have Malvo on the hunt for the people in Fargo who tried to have him whacked. He goes to Reno, Nev. to confront his (I guess) superior about who in Fargo would try to put a hit out on him.

Which brings us to the awesome since. We see Malvo, now in Fargo, go into a building being monitored (poorly) by FBI agents played by Key and Peele. We don’t see anything that’s happening inside, bu we hear Malvo going floor to floor shooting everything and everybody there. His revenge was brutal.

Observations:

* It was a tornado that caused the fish to fall from the sky from last week’s episode.

* It doesn’t seem to take Malvo too long to dart from Duluth to Reno then to Fargo.

* Key and Peele’s conversation about fast food was funny.

* In less than 2-minutes, Malvo topped the previous murder record of the show in the shoot-up in Fargo.