Every week the contributors to The Irrelevant will share the one thing we've been into this week. It can be a movie, a book, a song, an album, some youtube video, a random meme, or twitter user, anything that's been taking up more space in our mind than it should. We want to share this with you because we like sharing things we're into. Also these are perfect things that you can consume over the weekend, so here they are:
LeVar Burton Reads
90’s kids of the world, rejoice! For anyone who spent mornings diving into the glory of Reading Rainbow (thank you, PBS), prepare yourself for, as LeVar himself puts it, “Reading Rainbow for adults”.
This is exactly what it seems to be and fills the LeVar-sized hole you never knew you were missing. In an age of never ending media and audiobooks, LeVar comes through with probably the perfect podcast for our nostalgic generation. It is impeccably produced and, though only a few weeks old, has risen to the top of the ratings list in iTunes. The combination of excellent writing, excellent narration, and just the right amount of sound effects and background music will take you away in these short episodes. There are only four episodes so far, so hop on that bandwagon and start telling all your friends who understand that this man’s golden voice is just as good twenty years later.
Orange Theory Fitness:
Well its official, I am over on the wrong side of 30 and my days of gaining 40 pounds and then immediately losing 40 pounds are behind me. But alas, I plan on making one last push to hopefully lose weight and sustain it.
Recently, my wife and I have discovered a gym called Orange Theory Fitness. The concept is simple enough, it is like a spin class but with treadmills and weights. The Orange Theory I go to has 5:00 AM classes and if you register for a class and do not show up then you are penalized $12. At first I thought this was a money grab but it has been a great incentive to make sure we wake up in the morning and go. I find morning workouts to be fun and a great way to start my day. Further, no one ever has anything scheduled at 5:00 AM. I once tried a UFC Gym with boxing classes that had classes at 8:00 PM but I found myself consistently missing because either I was still at work or too tired to do anything from the day. You can also purchase a heart rate monitor that will keep track of the calories burned and a unit called Splat Points. If you reach your Splat Points goal, then the idea is that you will continue to burn calories for another 36 hours. I typically burn about 900 calories per workout. The coaches are also personable and encouraging. For anyone looking to lose weight or just change their workout routine, I would highly recommend Orange Theory. It is worth the price tag in my opinion.
July 4th means crossing over into the Twilight Zone! Every year on this day, I am able to marathon one of my all time favorites. Despite having access to it anytime thanks to Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime, there is something special about switching over to SyFy and watching for hours on end. Which is a bit ironic since Rod Serling had the following to say about commercial breaks in a 1959 interview:
“How in God’s name can you sustain a theatrical mood when every twelve minutes the thrust of the drama is stopped and onto the screen gallop twelve dancing rabbits with toilet paper?”
Blame my love of nostalgia, but this marathon is something I look forward to doing every year. It is how I was introduced to many of the episodes when I first began watching.
I remember staying up late on summer nights and coming across this eerie black and white show. Experiencing each episode for the first time was like nothing I ever had before. I was entranced! I knew I would have to cram as many episodes in as possible before heading out to family gatherings during the July 4th marathon. To be honest, I would have rather stayed home and watched TZ. Swimming pools and hot dogs didn’t hold a sparkler to a Twilight Zone marathon. It still doesn’t!
Tthe first marathon ever aired was in 1980 during Thanksgiving on KTLA, then known as “Twilight Fests”. The July 4th tradition followed in 1983, and is still going strong. KTLA program director Mark Sonnenberg explains in this LA Times article, that at that time, he and his staff had to keep track of episodes they aired, as to avoid any repeats during these marathons.
"It gives a specialness to the marathon. People look forward to it."
It is crazy to think of a time where Twilight Zone wasn’t readily available, but that specialness that Mr. Sonnenberg mentions, I still feel that during the July 4th “Twilight Fest”.
Twilight Zone is so near and dear to my heart. There are other series that stand out as great in the TV universe, but for me, Twilight Zone is held on a pedestal. I admire greatly not only the the writing of Rod Serling, but his convictions. I believe it is thanks to his uniqueness that makes this anthology series transcendent.
To say I’ve been on a of Pro Wrestling kick, especially women’s wrestling, would be an understatement. Women's pro wrestling has brought me back a fandom I had forgotten about and didn't know how much missed until it returned.
Netflix's newest original series is about the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling (GLOW) based on the wrestling promotion from the late 80s that inspired the 2011 documentary. The show follows a group of girls’ trials and tribulations from mystery auditions for ‘different’ looking women through the taping of their premiere episode. The show is really fun and the performances are all pretty great. The humor in the despair of Marc Maron’s Sam Sylvia, the amount of frustration toward Alison Brie’s overachieving actress Ruth and the empathy that evolves into admiration you feel for Betty Gilpin’s Debbie are just a fraction of what the show has to offer. It captured the 80s as well as anything I’ve seen from costumes to home interiors it felt like it was filmed then,with better cameras obviously.
Being a pro wrestling fan I appreciate the way they tackled the subject matter as well, careful not to make fun of but also not to take itself too seriously, which is the only way to enjoy pro wrestling. The show also happened to drop the weekend before WWE had its best weeks of women's wrestling ever after coming off their most recent low point. I also watched the original documentary mentioned earlier, between that and Netflix’s fictional show, exploring this little section of the history of what I’ve been preoccupied with was pretty but cool. The history lesson was enough for me to be into it but if you just can’t get behind wrestling, it’s a great show just in a different setting, give it a chance if nothing else for the opening sequence.
Jay grew up. I'm into the whole album. Every beat is great (thanks No ID) and Jay's vocals cut through it all perfectly. He raps in a smooth style--effortless, almost lazy. It's befitting of an elder statesman of hip hop, which is what Jay is now. This is finally Frank Sinatra style of hip hop, which is what he's been aiming for all his life. The whole album in my eyes represents a shift in hip hop, as one of its biggest mainstream successes moves into "old man" status Hip Hop can now have music for "old" and "young" people alike.
Like I said, the whole album is great but the title track is just so refreshingly real and raw that I had to stop listening to the album after I heard it the first time and just have a moment. In it Jay admits to being unfaithful to Beyonce but goes far beyond that, he speaks of how their relationship started with his ego taking center stage instead of his desire for her, and how he sees how his emotional unavailability has damaged the relationship. He goes on to apologize to Beyonce for not being there during her miscarriage and how he's just been bad at love. To hear this from the Jigga man himself is amazing. It's putting aside the persona and being real.
The last verse is truly heartbreaking, Jay speaks of the shame he'll feel when his kids grow up and find out of all the stuff he did:
And if my children knew, I don't even know what I would do
If they ain't look at me the same
I would prob'ly die with all the shame
"You did what with who?"
What good is a ménage à trois when you have a soulmate?
"You risked that for Blue?"
If I wasn't a superhero in your face
My heart breaks for the day I have to explain my mistakes
And the mask goes away, and Santa Claus is fake
And you go online and see
For Blue's tooth, the tooth fairy didn't pay
I love realness in hip hop, and this is a breath of fresh air. Seek this one out!