Beloved Indian actor Shashi Kapoor dies at age 79

On Sunday Dec. 3, actor Shashi Kapoor was admitted into a Mumbai hospital for a chest infection. After
being ill for quite some time, he passed away today at age 79 in the Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital.

Born into a
highly influential Bollywood family, Shashi Kapoor was destined for greatness in film — he became an extremely beloved actor and producer and starred in numerous Hindi and English-language films.

Although Kapoor appeared in many films as a child, his roles in Merchant Ivory productions were the most coveted. He even received the Dada Saheb Phalke Award in 2015 which is the most prestigious award in Indian cinema.

To remember Shashi Kapoor and his impact in film and culture, here are five of his most popular films to watch this week.

5. Waqt (1965)

In ”
Waqt,” a natural disaster separates the members of a rich and influential family — they never reunite as a happy family, but the film outlines how interconnected their lives are and how their different paths eventually lead them together in a courtroom.

Shashi Kapoor plays Vijay, a driver who gets bribed to not testify for a crime, but eventually does the right thing. This film led the movement in films featuring multiple stars and pioneered the path for other productions in the industry.

4. Satyam Shivam Sundaram (1978)


Satyam Shivam Sundaram” is a romance film starring Zeenat Aman as Rupa and Shashi Kapoor as Rajeev. Rupa has half of her face disfigured and Rajeev falls in love with the other half. When he finds the “ugly” side of her looks, he meets a mistress in the night who is coincidentally the same woman.

Eventually, Rajeev comes to his senses and saves Rupa from drowning — it’s a very introspective film on the differences between physical and spiritual attraction.

3. Kabhie Kabhie (1976)

Playing another character named Vijay, Shashi Kapoor is the arranged husband of Pooja, played by Rakhee Gulzar. Her real love, Amit, also marries someone else and the two cursed lovers create their own families and both have kids.

Their kids eventually come together and fall in love, reuniting the old lovers as friends — ”
Kabhie Kabhie” is a powerful romantic film that also has an amazing soundtrack.

2. Jab Jab Phool Khile (1965)

Yet another romantic love story, Rita, a wealthy heiress, chooses to relax on a houseboat, rented out by Raja, played by Kapoor. They fall in love of course, under the disapproval of Rita’s dad.

Throughout ”
Jab Jab Phool Khile,” we see Rita’s dad plot to have Rita follow his controlling path of marriage and life.

1. Deewaar (1975)

Arguably Kapoor’s best film, ”
Deewaar” is a crime drama that follows the lives of two brothers that end up in the slums as children and then opposite sides of the law as adults. Kapoor plays Ravi, the policeman in turmoil over his brother’s involvement with the underworld.

This film pioneered the path of anti-establishment and anti-heros in Indian cinema and came in as the fourth highest-grossing Bollywood film of that year.

If foreign films aren’t really your thing or if you’ve never watched an Indian film before, it’s probably time to spread your cultural knowledge and experience something from somewhere else in the world. Understand how and why Shashi Kapoor was so revered as an actor and producer and why you should also respect and honor his passing.



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WTWD? | Questions on Season Eight of The Walking Dead: Episode 6

“The King, the Widow, and Rick” takes a little bit of a break from the predominantly action-driven sequences of the beginning of the season and instead focuses on the decisions of leaders. How Ezekiel, Maggie, and Rick decide to handle the challenges they face at this tipping point in the war will determine everything for their communities. What decisions must each leader face, and how will they affect the war?

The King


Photo by Gene Page/AMC

Having experienced what appears to be his greatest loss since the turn, Ezekiel is utterly disabled by grief and refusing to fight. It isn’t only the loss of Shiva that wrecks him, it is also the loss of his morale, the disintegration of his ranks, and the self-doubt that threatens his identity as a leader. In fact, Ezekiel isn’t a leader at all at this point. Carol has taken over as leader of the Kingdom, corresponding with Maggie and Rick, making orders to others, and carrying on the fight without the King. In this desperate time with few soldiers left to fight and no official leadership, Carol even allows Children to fight with her. Despite Ezekiel’s total reluctance, Carol remains focused on the fight to defeat Negan as well as win back the King’s spirit.

  • Will Carol’s decision to take over as temporary, de facto leader be good for the Kingdom?
  • Does she have the ability to reawaken the King to his cause?
  • Will her decision to include another child in her life bode tragedy yet again?

The Widow


Photo by Gene Page/AMC

Maggie has come out as a wise, composed, and fearless leader in the wake of Negan’s destruction. Rather than being paralyzed by her loss, it’s as if she is strengthened by it. Her unwavering strength, even at times of uncertainty, seems guided by the strength and wisdom of Hershel and Glenn. While Hershel and Glenn might be compelled to keep the Saviors alive, Maggie is more conflicted over this decision. She, perhaps more than anyone, is ready to see the Saviors die, and she also understands the many reasons why they should die. Being faced with this decision, though, forces her to think about the reasons why they should live. Keeping them as POWs, and throwing Gregory into captivity with them, could prove to be a brilliant move or a fatal mistake.

  • Is the decision to keep the Saviors alive as prisoners a mistake that was forced upon her by Jesus?
  • Is Maggie using the situation wisely and playing the long game?
  • If the time comes, will Maggie really kill all the Saviors or will she integrate them into The Hilltop?

Rick


Photo by Gene Page/AMC

Rick’s patience with Jadis and the Scavengers is a little confounding. This cryptic and unpredictable community has proven themselves intelligent, dangerous, and conniving as they have already betrayed Rick once. As Rick is not famous for giving anyone the benefit of the doubt, why does he decide to gamble with them again? It is important to reiterate that they are in fact quite intelligent and dangerous, which Rick sees as useful. Even more important is the mentality of this group. They are outsiders who are not interested in politics and are partial to nothing but themselves and what benefits them. Rick understands that they were not indoctrinated as “Negan” by working with him. Now that he knows them better, perhaps he is more confidant in his ability to negotiate with them.

  • What must Rick do to persuade Jadis this time?
  • Was this appeal to the Scavengers a part of Rick’s plans all along, or is he resorting to them?
  • With Daryl off on his own against the Saviors, will he be able to come to Rick’s aid?

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Ciara Cerrato was a projectionist and curator at the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, and she currently is a poet and freelance writer in New York.

REVIEW | YACHT Embraces Change With ‘Strawberry Moon’

“A lot has happened since the last time YACHT released music,” the group wrote in announcing the release of its new EP, Strawberry Moon. Though band members Jona Bechtolt and Claire Evans made clear in the rest of the announcement that they were referring to the world at large, the statement could as easily have been referring to Yacht itself. Last year, in addition to an election that shook the worldview of many in the art and media worlds, Bechtolt and Evans provided Yacht fans with their own microcosm of a fake news crisis. After the two pretended that a sex tape they made had leaked, it became clear that the move was a hoax designed to garner attention for a music video, leading to backlash from media and fans.

“It’s a different world. We’ve been wrapping our heads around it,” Yacht’s announcement continues. This is presumably in reference to Donald Trump becoming president, but more than just that is different. The seeming shift in how the music world is responding to claims of sexual harassment and other sexual violence in the post-Weinstein moment was prefigured in the response to Yacht’s sex tape stunt, which many felt inappropriately made light of actual revenge porn. In 2016, perhaps Yacht could reasonably claim not to have expected such a response to its publicity stunt, but in 2017, such unawareness seems unthinkable. It’s in this landscape that Yacht has put forth its latest, and perhaps is related to why the EP feels more apolitical than much of the band’s earlier work.

Giphy


The standout track is “Strawberry Moon,” a song that’s closer to a standard indie pop hit than pretty much anything else Yacht has done. It’s beachy, warm, and full of coy innuendo (“You came too soon / It’s three in the afternoon / Now there’s nothing to look forward to”), an updated “Afternoon Delight” by way of electronic pop. “Strawberry Moon” is reminiscent of Bechtolt’s earlier work with The Blow, as well as drawing some influence from the lo-fi, female vocalist driven style of acts like La Sera and the Dum Dum Girls.

The EP’s other strongest song is “Look Alive,” which is slightly less pop than “Strawberry Moon,” but still equally catchy. It’s also different from what Yacht normally does, but it uses the band’s signature combination of bouncy, enticing beats and unexpectedly dark lyrics: “One of the guys / He has been radicalized / Ladies, look alive.” There are strong notes of optimism, too, as in the lyrics, “Don’t run and hide / The only way to change your mind / Is to vocalize.” The song’s layered, echoey chorus turns the lyrics “look alive” from a warning into a psychedelic call to action. Though the song is quite different from “Strawberry Moon,” it’s similarly indebted to California sunshine pop. If the Mamas & The Papas had a synthesizer, it might sound something like “Look Alive.”

Longtime fans of Yacht will find the most familiarity in “Hard World,” a dance-pop hit full of the band’s classic hyper-cynical exuberance. The song’s upbeat, slightly funky backing is layered under Evans’ singsong spoken word vocals, which inform us, “If everything’s alive / Then everything hurts / Then everything we do is the worst.” There are also unexpected hints of earnestness—”It’s a hard world / For the little things,” goes the track’s hook.

The EP’s remaining songs, “Shame” and “Finger Like A Gun,” aren’t far off from Yacht’s earlier work, either. But both tracks feel something like watered-down versions of the band’s earlier standards. Unlike “Dystopia” (2011), which takes a real, if psychotic, pleasure in the declaration, “The earth is on fire / We don’t have no daughter / Let the motherfucker burn,” or “Psychic City” (2009), which opens with nearly a full minute of guttural, utterly joyful “Huh”s and “ay yeah yeah yeah”s, these songs don’t seem cheerful. A tone of genuine sadness and nihilism lurks under the surface.

Giphy


Rather than encouraging us to revel in the fucked-up nature of the world, as Yacht typically does, these songs seem to suggest we should look away. There’s a bit of a remove here, both in the musical quality—an excess of guitar soloing in “Finger Like a Gun” and endless lyrical repetition in “Shame”—and the lyrical content. In “Shame,” rather than delving into a personal emotional conflict, the speaker “look[s] at a stranger” and “wonder[s] what it takes her / To live through another day.” “Finger Like A Gun” presents us with “the emoji of a fist” rather than the fist itself.

Where “War on Women” (2015) told us “The war is over if you only close your eyes / The war is over if you want it / If you want to tell yourself a lie,” “Finger Like A Gun” insists, “It’s a nice oblivion,” and “Shame” simply says, “I’m fighting realness… Fight the authenticity / With what’s left of feeling.” Instead of sarcastically pretending to look away from reality in order to emphasize how glaringly awful it is, here Yacht is genuinely looking away from reality. It’s telling that instead of the gleeful depravity of titles like “Dystopia” and “I Wanna Fuck You Til I’m Dead” (2015), Strawberry Moon instead chooses “Shame” and the image of a toy gun.

Even when Yacht isn’t at its best, it’s still innovative and extremely danceable. But it’s in the songs which are least like what the band has done previously that the most joy and creativity emerges. “Strawberry Moon” and “Look Alive” are each, in their own way, clear departures from Yacht’s earlier work. A lot really has changed since Yacht’s last album, and it feels like the group is still figuring out precisely what that means for its music. But it’s clear that, in the meantime, Yacht is moving in exciting new directions.

Follow YACHT on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram


Julia is a freelance writer based in Brooklyn, NY, who covers politics and pop culture with a focus on labor and gender. Follow her on Twitter.


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Top Video Games Released for December 2017

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Top Video Games Released for December 2017

ATTENTION HOLIDAY GAMERS!!

December isn’t the
biggest month for video game releases. It’s not the worst, but it’s not the best. This month, though, seems to have a really good set of new releases. Admittedly, a lot of them are rereleases of older games, but that has some merit. So, let’s dive in.


December 1st


Xenoblade Chronicles 2 (Switch)

The much-anticipated sequel to the Wii classic, The Xenoblade Chronicles is heading our way on the Nintendo Switch. Despite being a sequel to the classic action RPG, the story will feature a new set of characters, Rex and Pyra,


Doom VFR

Okay, so, I am
super freaking excited for VR release. Like, how much better can you get than a Doom virtual-reality experience? You can’t. You just can’t, there’s only one other release on this list that even compares to this – and it’s not coming out till the end. Sure, you need to have VR capabilities to play it, but come on! It’s going to be amazing!


December 5th


This Is the Police (Switch)

I know what you’re thinking, “Shann! This was already released on the e-Shop! Yes, that’s true. But there is a physical copy for the Switch coming out! Is it a huge deal? Not really, because you could already download it somewhere else. But hey, some people like to buy the game disks. Who are we to judge?


The Walking Dead Collection: The Telltale Series (Xbox One, PS4, Microsoft Windows, and macOS)

This one is a more satisfactory buy than anything else. I already bought and played through each of arc of Telltale’s The Walking Dead as they released over the years. But I don’t know, there’s something about having them all together in one place that just makes my heart warm. If you haven’t played The Walking Dead, I’d definitely recommend


Dead Rising 4: Frank’s Big Package (PS4)

Dead Rising is definitely one of my favorite of the zombie-killing video game genres. Now we get to enjoy the gory fun of Dead Rising 4 on the PS4! In this action packed release, gamers will be treated to the main game plus all of its DLC and bonus content. Plus, we have a fun new feature called “Capcom Heroes,” where we get to see Frank take on the abilities of previous Capcom classics (I’m talking Mega Man!). How can you not be excited?


December 7th


Spellforce 3 (Microsoft Windows)

The real-time strategy series is getting a prequel! I haven’t played the Spellforce series, but if this game is anything like it’s cinematic trailer, then long time fans are sure in for a good edition. I may even pick up a copy myself.


December 8th


Hello Neighbor (Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, macOS)

In Hello Neighbor, you have moved across the street from mysterious man with a dark secret. You spend the game exploring his house and doing your best to survive! This game seems so cool! I love the idea of a home invasion survival horror type game – it’s a nice, zany twist on the genre. The graphics look fun and stylized, and from the little I’ve seen of the game, it looks to be a strong new entry in the genre. I can’t wait to play it.


Tokyo Xanadu eX+ (PS4)

A PS4 release of a PSVita series. I have never really sat down and played the Tokyo Xanadu series, and after taking the time to look into it – I am pretty disappointed in myself. The gameplay looks fun enough – not anything new or special, but fun. And the graphics definitely hold up pretty well. Who knows? Maybe I’ll review this game!


December 12th


Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds (Xbox One, Microsoft Windows)

Player Unknown’s Battleground is going to be going Microsofts Xbox Game Preview! It’s not surprise, as it has made mad money through Steam’s Early Access program. I’m talking almost $100 dollars in three months. Now, according to an interview with Business Insider, the creator is making the move to console through the Game Preview Program, which is basically “Early Access for consoles.” I haven’t had the chance to play it myself – but it sounds amazing!


Resident Evil: Biohazard Gold Edition (Xbox One, PS4, Microsoft Windows)

Resident Evil’s critically acclaimed installment is getting a Gold Edition! Like most special editions, this game will feature all of the game’s DLC, as well as the main game. This includes the Not a Hero DLC and the End of Zoe DLC, where you get to play as Chris Redfield and Zoe Baker, the only sane member of the Baker family.


The End is Nigh (Switch)

The End is Nigh is a dark, challenging little platformer. You take control of the small, black blob Ash as he sets out into a post-apocalyptic world. Why? To make a friend and repopulate it. I’ve only played a little of this on Steam, and I am eager to see what it’s Switch Edition is like! Definitely take a look at this great title!


Okami HD (Xbox One, PS4, Microsoft Windows)

OKAMI! One of the most under-appreciated, beautiful, and imaginative games in recent memory is getting an HD rerelease on the Xbox One, PS4, and Microsoft Windows! In the game, you take control of the goddess of the Sun, Okami Amaterasu, who is tasked to bring life back to the Japanese inspired world of Nippon. It’s a beautiful game and I am excited to see it’s jump to the newest generations of gaming!


December 13th


Final Fantasy XV: Episode Ignis

Final Fantasy XV is getting is releasing it’s latest DLC. Like previous “episodes” this one will focus on a specific member of Noctis’ party – Ignis. I’m very excited about it myself, because these past few DLCs have definitely not disappointed. I am also excited because I find Ignis to be one of the better written characters in the game and cannot wait to learn more of his story.


Shann Smith is a freelance writer, playwright, screenwriter, and gamer based in NYC. He runs two columns here on Popdust: Video Gay-Mer and Role PlayGround! If you’d like him to take a look at a game, hit him up!


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Popdust Presents | J. Marco

J. Marco brings Popdust some Pop-Rock from Nashville!

NOVEMBER 8, 2017 — I first saw this band when they were in town playing a show at the Soho House. It’s a fancy private club with lots of rooms and different floors. They actually have a pool on the roof top. I sat down in a chair with a nice glass of red wine and watched in this high-back velvet chair. I enjoyed it very much, so Popdust invited J. Marco to do the show. He came all they way back for an acoustic rendition of his hit songs: “Love Don’t Matter” and “We’re All Alright”. It was really cool to re-connect weeks later and catch up. He brought another guitarist to play lead. They killed, so listen to these exclusive tracks.

Long before moving to Nashville and kicking off his songwriting career, J. Marco listened to records in his Massachusetts bedroom, moving between the fast-moving fuzz of punk-rock and the hard-hitting hooks of pop music. Years later, he combines both of those genres and more on Days Of Surrender, his second album as a solo artist.

Days Of Surrender finds J. Marco pulling triple-duty as singer, songwriter, and lead guitarist. He covers a good deal of ground along the way, from the album’s propulsive single, “Love Don’t Matter” to the anthemic rock & roll of “See Her Tonight” “Now That It’s Over” & “Say Goodbye.” Gluing the entire album together is an emphasis on guitar riffs and undeniable melodies, the same two ingredients that connected most of Marco’s childhood influences.

Watch “We’re All Alright” | Live & Acoustic

As they begin the song, the guitars are just strumming, but can already feel the vibe of wistful nostalgia of day we believe to be better. Although those times are rarely what we remember them. Watching this again refreshes my memory of this night. Everyone who played had a folk, blues and rock flavor. Reminds me of Springsteen, Dylan or even Tom Petty. Real Americana, while keeping true to well crafted hooks, it straddles the line between singer-songwriter and a rocking live show.


Watch “Love Don’t Matter” | Live & Acoustic

What does matter? How much I love this song. The two guitars were so pretty together. It’s rooted in the past, in concept and sound. The solo on this track is sick! We all know that Love does Matter, even if we don’t want to always admit it.

Notable Word Combinations: I had been drinking a little of the Popdust Prosseco, by Lot 18, when we started the interview and continued enjoying it the rest of the night. Here are some funny quotes out of context.

  • You were going, going, jamming, doing the thing and… STOP 1-2-3 BANG! and I was like “What?”
  • Have you seen the tickets for Broadway?
  • In my teens I got into Punk
  • Favorite Misfits Song: “Last Caress”
  • I decided to listen to a lot of Captain Beef-heart and I started hallucinating
  • Fallen art we found

WATCH J. Marco with full band at the Soho House, NYC:

Popdust caught J. Marco coming all the way from Nashville on a Friday night in Manhattan. They did an incredible version of “Dancing in the Dark” by Bruce Springsteen, that they weave seamlessly into their power pop set.


Listen to J. Marco:

Follow J. MARCO on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram


Dan Victor is editor of Popdust and producer of Popdust Presents. He is also a music producer, bassist for Low Profile (live hip hop) & The Coldpress (indie rap) and front-man for Ductape Halo (indie rock). Follow on Youtube.


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Why do Cartoons resonate so well with Millennials?

Us Millennials are an odd bunch

We are frequently spoken down to by our elders, accused constantly of narcissism, branded as empty-headed social justice warriors, we are regularly chalked up as entitled, pampered, and eternally childish. Now, the research doesn’t quite back that up, despite what a barrage of self-affirming think-pieces would have you believe, but we are very different from our parents in a lot of ways, it must be said. And some of our habits, particularly in regards to our media consumption, are considered unusual by our predecessors. There’s a lot to talk about in this regard: binge-watching, multi-task watching, download culture… but today we’re going to take a look at the millennial predilection for children’s cartoons.

Nowadays there are a slew of animated TV shows, ostensibly for children, that are enjoyed extensively by adult (and particularly Millennial) audiences. Notable examples include Adventure Time, Steven Universe, Gravity Falls, SpongeBob Squarepants, and Regular Show. These shows are critically hailed, lauded for their smart humor, and praised for their careful, accessible handling of “difficult” subject matter. They are quality programming, but nevertheless they are still primarily aimed at children, why are adult audiences so drawn to them?

Part of it is likely to do with the proliferation of adult and family cartoons in the 90s and 2000s. While The Flintstones was the first primetime animated sitcom in the 1960s, a little show called The Simpsons is likely what brought the sea-change in cartoon viewership. Debuting in 1989 and still running today, here was a show that you could watch no matter what age you were, and that held up over time. Moreover, it opened up the gates for the likes of Family Guy, King of the Hill, Futurama, South Park, and others to enter the fold. These shows made it acceptable to watch cartoons no matter what age you were, and their intelligent content gradually broke down the stigma of TV animation as being “just for kids”.

However, even though western media raised Millennials feel no qualms about watching adult cartoons, why is the distinction blurring between child and adult entertainment? Why are millennials, such as myself, completely self-justified in binge-watching 284 eleven minute episodes of Adventure Time? Well, part of the answer is that good entertainment is just good entertainment. The Muppet films are considered childish in nature, and yet they are also cinematic classics. Pixar movies are for kids, about things kids like, but you’d be hard pressed to find an adult that doesn’t enjoy them. Do Not Adjust Your Set in the 1960s was favorite viewing of John Cleese, and was instrumental in pulling Monty Python together. As mentioned above, Adventure Time and its ilk are just well made shows, so why not enjoy them?

But perhaps it’s deeper than that. Millennials are in a weird place right now, and likely will be for the rest of their lives. They are infantilized by the generations above them, and yet are also facing the prospect of lives with huge adult problems. Student loan debt is heading for a crisis point, the housing market is practically inaccessible, average wages are lower, the job market is rough, and that’s just logistical stuff. Throw in the looming threats of global warming, population boom, population bust, political instability, and it makes for a pretty anxious time to be a human being.

These shows tap strongly in to two things: an acknowledgement of absurdity, and an understanding that it’s okay to feel not okay. Adventure Time is literally set after the apocalypse. Steven Universe constantly sees the world under threat of cosmic annihilation. Yet everyone lives their lives, eats pancakes, fights monsters, and cracks silly jokes for one another. These shows are made by Millennials trying to teach the next generation what we wish we had been taught. That in a big scary world it’s okay to laugh, and it’s okay to not always know what to do. It stands to reason that we would want to take some of our own medicine.

So it’s a multi-pronged answer. We grew up watching cartoons, and when we grew up, there were cartoons for grown-ups too. So we, as a generation, were never told to stop watching cartoons. When Millennials started creating kid’s content, we made content that we would want to watch, and that, when made well, speaks boldly and simply to our concerns. Because cartoons were never stigmatized for us as being solely for children we never felt like we weren’t allowed to watch them, and so we do. We watch and love these shows, because we are the big, scared, smart kids they are made for. And I guess actual kids can watch them too.


Thomas Burns Scully is a PopDust contributor, and also an award-winning actor, playwright, and musician. In his spare time he writes and designs escape rooms. You can follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram


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THE REAL REEL | Is Larry David an Activist?

As one of the lead writers and executive producers of the revered show Seinfeld, and writer and star of his current show Curb Your Enthusiasm, Larry David, has always pushed the envelope with respect to challenging social norms. Being able to watch characters refuse to just go along with widely accepted “normal” behavior is both hysterical and exciting for the average well-behaved, self conscious, repressed American. David’s character on Curb (Lets just call him Larry) is completely un-PC and dares to say aloud what we are all thinking. In the privacy of our own homes without any consequences, except squirming into our own couches, we get to watch Larry play out all of our “Id” fantasies. In Larry’s world, there is no holding back, no weighing of social consequences, just a black and white universe where he filters nothing and publicly digests everything. Larry moves through life attempting to meet his immediate needs, stating the social hypocrisies that he cannot bear to tolerate and finds completely unjust. And of course audiences are entertained as he often winds up paying for his choices by getting kicked out of various facilities, peoples’ homes, and even their lives. I love watching this man.

Before you remind me that Larry can be a pompous, privileged ass, and wonder if I am forgetting that he is an affluent white straight man, (so the social risks he takes are not that big of a deal since he has less to lose), I want to assure you that I am aware. He isn’t worried that his outrageous behavior in a store will get him shot, or that his inappropriate remarks to women will bring on a lawsuit, or that his rude criticism to a hotel manager will get him taken away in handcuffs. He can afford to “blow things up” so to speak.

That being said, his ego takes a hefty beating that even few privileged folks I know would be willing to risk. It would be easy to write off Larry’s character as an old, sexist, racist dude. However I argue quite the opposite. Privilege aside, it is Larry’s lack of concern for the way he is perceived, that actually allows him to be culturally subversive, and even an advocate for minorities at times. “WHAT!?” you say? Yes, I said Larry is actually an advocate for marginalized populations at times. HE IS. Let me explain.

In one of the recent episodes of Curb, Larry hits a guy’s car (who winds up being a total jerk) and his friend Jeff recommends a mechanic to Larry for his own car’s damages. Larry talks to the mechanic on the phone and sets up a time to bring in the car. On the day Larry brings the car in, he meets the mechanic in person and sees that he is Black. The first words out of Larry’s mouth are something like “oh, you’re Black.” The mechanic’s race was different than Larry envisioned over the phone. Now, a couple of things are going on here. In our society, sociologists argue that not only do we all notice race, it’s counterproductive to pretend that we don’t. Many Americans still think that if you admit that you notice someone’s race, or even mention someone’s race, that you must be racist. So of course, when Larry says something like “oh I didn’t know you were Black,” he sounds like a racist…but really he is saying what most white people are thinking. Just by saying that assumption aloud, Larry makes white viewers squirm in their seats, particularly those viewers who are privileged enough to be able to go days, weeks, and even years without mentioning race. Larry is calling out the elephant in the room here… ‘come on white people…you know you see Blackness’, and white viewers are clenching their fists and squirming, mortified that Larry is betraying their inner “inappropriate” thoughts. Guess what America… we all see race, and Larry knows this. Seeing race is not the problem.

Larry takes his subversive comedy to another level when Leon (his Black roommate who lives in the pool house) answers Larry’s door one day and allows the white guy (who has been extremely aggressive and angry towards Larry for hitting his car) to believe that Leon (a Black guy) is Larry. The white guy, assuming Larry was white is clearly caught off guard. He did the same, but reverse thing Larry just did, assuming over the phone that the person he was talking to was white, and is now faced with the fact that not only was the guy who hit his car Black, this white guy had been being a total jerk to him over the phone. When he assumed Larry was white, he was aggressive, cocky, and told Larry he was going to get the “most expensive estimate from the dealer.” When Larry and Leon trick the guy into thinking Larry is Black, the guy spirals into shame, embarrassment, and clearly white-guilt, telling “Black Larry” (actually Leon) that he can just forget about the estimate, forget about the accident, and apologizes awkwardly and hastily, leaving Larry’s house as apologetically as possible.

Here, we see Larry’s show “poking the bear” of white-guilt. This episode is only funny because it capitalizes on the guilt many white people feel but don’t know what to do with and certainly don’t know how to articulate. In a world where we are trying to make Black Lives Matter, white people are still so scared to talk about race, it’s implications in our society, and even admit that they notice it. While Larry’s comedy is a slight exaggeration, he still succeeds at pointing out that if well meaning white people can’t even mention race, we are far from being able to fight racism.

Larry is having none of that. Larry, as a white man is calling white people’s bluff. OF COURSE YOU NOTICE SOMEONES RACE, of course you feel guilty that you don’t have to experience racism as a white person. Larry also points out that, that doesn’t make you racist and that it only makes you a hilarious subject of one of his skits. It’s 2017, and if you are still a white person pretending not to notice race…well than you are a joke and Larry will make sure we laugh at you.


By Rachel Hall, Rachel has a Masters in Cultural Gender Studies, and a BA in Communication & Culture, is a Certified Life Coach, and can often be found hiding in her laundry room from her two children. More about her on her website.


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ROLE PLAYGROUND | What’s my issue with Skyrim?

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ROLE PLAYGROUND | What’s my issue with Skyrim?

I avoided playing Skyrim when it came out back in 2012. I was a sophomore in high school, and I had a very hipster attitude when it came to games I played. Skyrim was huge, and I just knew that it was overhyped and I wanted nothing to do with it. Despite what my friends said, I refused to give the game a chance. A lot if this also came from the odd notion that people cared more about Elder Scrolls than they did about Fallout, which I suppose it true (but also Fallout sells really well, so I guess it’s not).

My hate for the game lacked any real merit. I would not play Skyrim for a long time – eventually though, I would go on to buy the game’s
Legendary Edition from Wal-Mart during my senior year of high school. I think I initially logged about five days worth of playtime – and during that time, my hatred for Skyrim changed. Instead of hating it, I felt disappointed by it (a trend for Bethesda nowadays).

I do not hate Bethesda’s
Skyrim, I don’t. I think that for all of the game’s many, many faults, there are so many great things. Skyrim was groundbreaking for it’s time. It’s huge landscapes, and easy-to-learn, fun game play changed a lot of how RPGs were amazing. The story was generic at best, but that’s a lot of high fantasy nowadays. But, once you look past the initial hype – you begin to see the buggy, poorly acted mess that Skyrim is.

Graphics. Or what you could call graphics.

Graphics and
Bethesda have a very strange relationship. Bethesda’s games are always huge, technical marvels – until you actually play for more than an hour. Then, you see the games for what they are, and Skyrim is no different.

Sure, game development is hard. It’s hard
not to have bugs when you release games as massive as Bethesda’s. BUT, that’s not what I’m talking about here. Bethesda has done this amazing thing where they’ve made graphical bugs a sort of staple with their larger games. You see them in almost every title – especially Skyrim.

They can be small, like weapons clipping through walls. Or they can be large, where you accidentally fall through the ground and into the void. They bugs are so bad, that modders (people who make homemade modifications to video games) have to make patches to fix the problems that
Bethesda doesn’t. And that should not be a thing! We shouldn’t have to rely on the consumer to fix the product! Come on!

It’s crazy! But it works, because the game is
really fun. The glitches are not looked at as annoyances, they are looked at as funny parts of a fun game. And, as much as that irks me, I can’t deny that Skyrim is really fun. And I think a lot of that is due to the games fun controls.

Controls. I love these controls.

Usually, whenever I play an RPG, it’s a turned-based JRPG-type game (
Final Fantasy, etc) or I’m playing a third-person hack and slash (Kingdomg Hearts, The Witcher 3, etc). You’ve also got your isometrics and your Legend of Zeldas. Skyrim, though, is different. It plays like a first person shooter.

Now, chances are, there are plenty of great RPGs that do this same thing, but I am one human being and I can’t play everything on the planet. And, even if they do exist, they probably don’t play as smoothly as
Skyrim. This is where the fun lies – you get to see the world and interact with it as if you were just looking at it. And a lot of high fantasy games don’t give you that. You do get to see a beautiful world, but you don’t get to see through your characters eyes. Skyrim makes the exploration feel more personal, by giving you that first person perspective.

As the Dragonborn, you go around and talk and fight. And sure, the acting is atrocious, but it doesn’t make it any less cool to feel like these people are actually talking to you. Plus, fighting is so much more fun. The combat system is just as exciting as playing something like
Call of Duty or Overwatch. The melee can be a little awkward, bit it’s not super frustrating and only mildly affects the over experience. It can get a little too easy, once you’re at a super high level and you’ve got your dragon shouts going hard, but what game doesn’t?

The acting is also very eh.

So, listen, voice acting is very important and I don’t know why people thought the voice acting in Skyrim was okay, because it wasn’t. Was it all bad? No. But, it definitely wasn’t great. Like, why does every single character sound the exact same? What’s with that? I’m not even going to spend a whole three paragraphs on this one. Basically, the voice acting felt like an afterthought and that disappointed me.

The Bottom Line

Okay, my problem with Skyrim is that after playing other games from the time, the story of Skyrim felt generic at best. The graphics and the acting were not amazing. Replaying the game today is frustrating, because I see a lot of things that could have been avoided. I see a game that could be much better – or a game that deserves a sequel that improves on this game’s problems. I definitely see a game that doesn’t need a million different rereleases. But, hey, I’m not Todd Howard.

Skyrim is an iconic game – but that doesn’t mean it’s an amazing one.


Shann Smith is a lover of video games and writer of plays and screenplays, based in NYC. Do you guys have a game that you think is significant to the LGBTQ+ community? Email me, and I’ll give it a look!


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THE OPTION | Jaromir Jagr: The NHL’s Last Giant

The biggest stars in the National Hockey League usually start slowing down in their early to mid-thirties, and most retire before they hit forty. The few who continue past this point, tend to spend the latter portion of their career getting shredded by much younger, faster players. It’s painful to watch, but very few leave world of professional sports gracefully. Whether these players go the Chris Pronger route and become injury-plagued cash syphons or they go the Chris Chelios route and gradually degenerate into a shell of their former selves, one thing is clear: time catches up with everyone, no matter how talented.

In a little less than three months, Jaromir Jagr will be 46-years-old. This makes him the third oldest player to ever start for an NHL team. On top of this, he’s almost five years older than the next oldest guy (Matt Cullen) currently playing. The thing about Jagr is, he’s still good. Since his return from hiatus at age 39, Jagr hasn’t posted less than 35 points (goals and assists) in a single season. He’s certainly slowed down, but his movement is now more deliberate, more focused. In his time, Jagr has seen every trick and every possible goal iteration. He knows exactly where to be on every play and, more importantly, he knows how to get there without expending too much energy. Please allow for a video demonstration:

Here, we have Jagr at 20-years-old. It’s the 1992 Stanley Cup and he’s an absolute mad man with the puck, cutting quickly and dancing through the defense.

Nowadays, Jagr plays at a much slower pace, carefully choosing the perfect moment to strike. This is him absolutely undressing John Gibson in February of 2017. In this video, he’s 45.

Jaromir Jagr has the second highest career points total in NHL history, behind only Wayne Gretzky. He’s third in total goals scored, fifth in total assists, and fourth in total games played. Still, despite his legendary status, Jagr’s return to the NHL has been an odyssey of sorts. Since 2011, the Czech-born superstar has bounced between six different teams, the 2017-2018 season marking his first with the Calgary Flames. This most recent signing followed a tumultuous free agency in which Jagr’s patience was tested. He inked his new contract hours before the NHL season took off and there was plenty of speculation that the entirety of the NHL was going to pass on him. In the defense of the league’s general managers, a five million dollar, one-year contract for a 45 year old is a ludicrous ask. That being said, Jagr still has flashes of greatness, and is a once in generation talent. Even if his playing takes a sharp dip, Jagr still has a lot to offer the younger guys he plays with. Left winger Johnny Gaudreau has attributed a lot of his recent success to Jagr’s tutelage, saying that Jagr teaches him about the “little things that make you a better player day-in and day-out.” Gaudreau is currently in third place in the NHL’s points race.

Following the 2015-16 season, in which Jagr became the oldest player to get more than 50 points, the Czech national stated that he wants to play until he’s 60, longer if his body allows him to. That’s all well and good, but the old timer had a recent scare this past October when he left the game with a lower body injury. The injury turned out to be nothing serious and Jagr only missed a few games, but it’s the way in which he was injured that’s concerning. While skating into the offensive zone, Jagr was stick checked and lost the puck. Moments later he skated off the ice and went into the locker room. It was about as routine a hockey play as one can imagine, and Jagr still missed over a week because of it. There’s a chance that this injury was nothing, as Jagr played almost every game over the past two years, but it still begs the question, is age finally catching up with him?

There’s no workout plan that can reverse the effects of time. There’re no drills that can fix tired and overworked muscles. Eventually, Jagr will have to retire. Playing into his sixties is almost certainly impossible, but Jagr still has a chance to pass Gordie Howe’s record (52) for the oldest NHL player of all time. He’s not thinking about this though and he’s not done with hockey. In an interview with Sports Net, Jagr stated “the only way you get tired with hockey is when you don’t work hard enough and you play the game and you kind of embarrass yourself.” Plenty of players before him have stayed at it too long and have, as Jagr so elegantly put it, embarrassed themselves. Plenty of older players skate sluggishly up the ice, never quite involved in the game, full strides behind their competitors but not Jagr. Not yet. The 2017-18 season is young, but Jagr is on pace to hit somewhere near 40 points this season. He’s not the quickest guy on the ice nor is he the strongest but Jagr’s experience has allowed him to hang around much longer than any of his contemporaries. Sakic, Bure, Selanne, Kariya, Koivu, and plenty of other greats from Jagr’s generation have long since hung up their skates. Jagr is the last man standing.

In 1999, Wayne Gretzky played for the New York Rangers. He lost his final game in overtime. Jaromir Jagr scored the game winner. For many, this contest symbolized a passing of the torch, one great being succeeded by the next man in line. Now Jagr is the old goat and he’s still clinging to that torch. Whether he passes it on in storybook fashion like Gretzky or he grips it so tight that it slips through his fingers, remains to be seen. Either way, Jagr’s contributions to the game of hockey can’t be measured in goals scored. He’s the last of his era and has constantly reinvented the game throughout his career. Whether this is his last season, or Jagr plays into 50s doesn’t really matter. He’s got nothing left to prove. Don’t tell him that though. He still wants another cup.


POPDUST Picks | Week 13:

  • Dallas over Washington
  • New Orleans over Carolina
  • New England over Buffalo
  • Miami over Denver
  • Chicago over San Francisco
  • Baltimore over Detroit
  • Minnesota over Atlanta
  • Green Bay over Tampa
  • Tennessee over Houston
  • Jacksonville over Indianapolis
  • L.A. Rams over Arizona
  • Oakland over N.Y. Giants
  • Philadelphia over Seattle
  • Pittsburgh over Cincinnati

LOCK of the Week:

  • L.A. Chargers over Cleveland

UPSET:

  • N.Y. Jets over Kansas City

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MUSIC MONDAY | Stop Light Observations takes over

Alt/indie rock band Stop Light Observations shares what they’re listening to.

Post-long weekend Mondays are tough. Post-Thanksgiving Mondays are tougher. Pack your leftover Turkey sandwich and tune in because Alt/Indie rock band Stop Light Observations has curated a playlist to get you through the work week. Stop Light Observations formed in 2013 releasing their debut album Radiation. Having a jump in success going from underground and unknown to playing festivals like Bonnaroo and cultivating a following in the South and beyond. They just recently released “Vol.1” and a new music video for their song “Coyote.” Check them out here.

Listen to “Vol 1.” here.

Watch “Coyote” here.

The music video seems very real and organic. It reminds you of fall nights, friends, and bonfires. Stop Light Observations’ Will Blackburn has curated a post-Thanksgiving playlist just for Popdust readers with some special liner notes.

Listen to their playlist here.

Here’s what Will Blackburn has to say about his post-Thanksgiving playlist. Let us know what you think @popdust on Twitter.

Salad Days | Mac Demarco

The quintessential happy Monday’s Sound.

Waves | Miguel, Tame Impala

A personal favorite right now, tame impala gave a new life to this Miguel’s famed track.

Get you | Daniel Caesar, Kali Uchis

A smash from the new Daniel Caesar album.

Starlite | NxWorries

Gritty and saturated vocals from the start, harmonies delight throughout.

Dunes | Alabama Shakes

A beachy number that reminds you, when you are lost keep going. Tuesday always comes.

Chamber of reflection | Mac Demarco

Reminds me of the wet and Smokey Sound childish always finds while still keeping that Erie vocal style Demarco flaunts. Stylish track always.

Tap water drinking | Lewis Del Mar

A good into into louis Del Mar, the standout freshest alt folktronica band in recent memory.

Islands | Lewis Del Mar

More beauty from LDM on this one. A deeper cut but none the less a vibe worth having.

Mad | Solange, Lil Wayne

Monday’s suck let’s not forget. Solange expresses her inner struggle as a black woman in America today. Message driven and catchy AF.

Follow Stop Light Observations Instagram | Facebook | Twitter


Anie Delgado is a contributor to Popdust and is an actress and musician based in NYC. Follow her on Instagram | Facebook | Twitter and check out her music on Spotify. Press inquiries reach out here.


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