Welcome to What’s the Buzz, 25YL’s feature where members of our staff provide you with recommendations on a weekly basis. In our internet age, there is so much out there to think about watching, reading, listening to, etc., that it can be hard to separate the wheat from the chaff, filter out the noise, or find those diamonds in the rough. But have no fear! We’re here to help you do that thing I just described with three different metaphors. Each week a rotating cast of writers will offer their recommendations based on things they have discovered. They won’t always be new to the world, but they’ll be new to us, or we hope new to you. This week’s entries come from: Don Shanahan, Hawk Ripjaw, Brien Allen, Samantha McNesby, and Abbie Sears.
Hawk: This week, I have discovered the song of my people, and it is Holey Moley. No, that’s the name of the show.
One has to wonder what went through the mind of ABC executives when they greenlit Holey Moley, a show about “extreme competitive mini golf,” but whatever it was, we need more of it. Essentially, Holey Moley is competitive mini golf with some very elaborate holes combined with Wipeout-style obstacle courses. Normally not my style, but Holey Moley’s vessel of delivery is a wacko mashup of weird non sequiturs, reactionary commentary from co-hosts Joe Tessitore and Rob Riggle, and contestants that are just eccentric enough to be believable.
The grand prize: $25,000, a golden putter…and “The Coveted Holey Moley Plaid Jacket,” which is exactly as ridiculous as it sounds.
Holey Moley is, as my good friend Felix Felicis calls it, “If Channel 8 The Ocho from Dodgeball was REAL LIFE.” That absolutely could not be more accurate.
Guys… GUYS… there’s a competitive mini golf obstacle course show that just premiered on @ABCNetwork (streaming on @hulu) called… #HOLEYMOLEY And it’s… like if Channel 8 The Ocho from ‘Dodgeball’ was REAL LIFE. @holeymoleyabc https://t.co/B9DXg72Jd3
It’s a very strange beast, so strange in fact that you have to wonder how much of it is an elaborate farce. In just the pilot episode, one contestant is sporting a unicorn onesie (To be fair, I own a similar onesie from Felix and can confirm the confidence boost from wearing it). In the second episode, the show’s mascot Sir Goph, a gopher usually wearing throne room regalia, is suddenly sporting a bear pelt.
It’s goofy stuff, but metered out in a way that feels very calculated. Less so is Riggle’s riffing, which is funny more often than not but could be more tightly edited. When it does work, however, Riggle offers bizarre and hilarious responses to the action at hand.
NBA’s Stephen Curry, who apparently designed the courses, occasionally shows up to deliver nuggets of wisdom such as “I think basketball players should yell ‘Fore!’ before they throw a three” or to see if he can hit a shot harder than a robot. Once or twice per episode, Curry will appear in a spectacularly lavish lounge, decked in a velvet dinner jacket in a leather chair while pleasantly relaxing
There’s something about Holey Moley’s humor that feels distinctly 2019. This isn’t something that I could imagine anywhere else, feeling less like a Thursday night show on ABC (of all places) and far more like a segment of Rick Sanchez’s Interdimensional Cable remote. The world keeps getting crazier, those “we’re all in a simulation” theories get more and more likely, and Holey Moley is just fuel for that theory, in the best possible way.
It’s wacky, cheerfully laid-back, and surprisingly wholesome. It remains to be seen whether the novelty will wear off after several weeks of the same handful of courses, but at the same time the fresh onslaught of quirks and the genuine sense of mounting competitive tension make it a bizarre delight for the time being.
Don: Recently Los Angeles hosted the very first Rom Com Fest focusing on the lighter genre on escapism. Featuring a specially curated “classics” program that included His Girl Friday, 10 Things I Hate About You, and How Stella Got Her Groove Back, that was my kind of party.
Founded by entrepreneur and romantic comedy connoisseur Miraya Berke, the goal was celebrating the joy to be had and the art on display in this undervalued film genre. I thought this was a smashing idea for a festival and I jumped at the chance to offer some remote coverage for its five-film competition slate.
The best of the bunch was In Reality. With biting personal commentary and high creativity to bend and break the tropes of romantic comedy, do-it-all talent Ann Lupo has crafted something entirely unique with In Reality. In a very The Secret Life of Walter Mitty fashion meets Eighth Grade ten years later, her film plays like a performed stream of consciousness coming from a flighty woman of wavering success and confidence. Lupo plays a semi-autobiographical Ann, who decides to make a movie about her most recent and most impactful romantic relationship. Divided into titled chapters scribbled into a journal, In Reality takes viewers through the ups-and-downs caused by the flutter and failure of her time with John (Miles G. Jackson).
All of the character’s emotions, reactions, and fantasies—from confusion to whimsy—are acted out by Lupo and then hyper-edited by her, co-writer/co-star Esteban Pedraza, and fellow editor Erin Sullivan (Coming Through the Rye) into this extended dream. The pace and construction of this unique project is one of the best editing works of recent years, right there with the details of last year’s Searching. In Reality also shifts speeds, colors, grains, and stocks within all of that construction for a sharp and immersive presentation. You’ve never seen a modern romantic comedy like it.
In Reality won the Best Feature Film award from the Rom Com Fest and it’s easy to see why. A true indie gem and artist such as this deserves bigger acclaim and attention. In Reality is available for VOD on YouTube, Google Play, and PantaFlix and it’s worth every penny of that rental.
Brien: Malcolm Gladwell has a podcast. It’s great. You should listen.
Well, that’s probably how Malcolm Gladwell would put it. And then, of course, he would dig deeper. Malcolm Gladwell, if you do not know, is a journalist and author. He’s written for The New York Times as a journalist, and made The New York Times best sellers list as an author. In fact, all five of his books have been best sellers, the more famous of which are The Tipping Point, Blink, and Outliers. Gladwell’s style is to look at past events from a different perspective, to tease out the links between seemingly disparate stories and get at their unexpected causes and implications.
His podcast is called Revisionist History, and it largely continues in this same vein. The podcast’s website describes it as such:
Revisionist History is Malcolm Gladwell’s journey through the overlooked and the misunderstood. Every episode re-examines something from the past—an event, a person, an idea, even a song—and asks whether we got it right the first time. Because sometimes the past deserves a second chance.
The podcast has been released in 10-episode “seasons”, one per year, and season 4 just started two weeks ago. Previous seasons have had an overarching theme to them, that I’ve frankly largely forgotten, but many of the specific episodes still stand out in my mind. Like his reexamination of the underhand free throw in the NBA, the lone activist who drove McDonald’s to stop frying their french fries in beef tallow, “Free Brian Williams!”, and a crazy deep dive into revealing Freudian slips Elvis made during live performances of a particular song.
Gladwell is a great story teller. He really knows how to paint a scene and draw you in. He also does his research. He puts you inside the head of the people who were there. And he usually manages to do it all with a pervasive sense of humor as well, making the podcast both informative and enjoyable to listen to.
So go subscribe to Revisionist History. You’ll learn something. You’ll be entertained. I can’t recommend it enough.
Malcolm Gladwell on His Hit Podcast, “Revisionist History” | Season 2019 Episode 06/28/2019 | Amanpour and Company
Amanpour and Company Clip: 06/28/2019 | 2m 50s Best-selling author and public intellectual Malcolm Gladwell discusses his hit podcast “Revisionist History” and the need for us to challenge our own ideas and assumptions. Aired: 06/28/19 Rating: NR
Samantha: Revisiting The Long Walk, 40 Years Later
Four miles per hour.
It’s the pace you use when someone holds the door and you’re not quite there yet, the “just before a jog” pace on a treadmill—or maybe the rapid steps you take when you’re running late but don’t want to break into a run.
Four miles per hour just doesn’t seem like much. Until it is.
For the walkers in Stephen King’s classic The Long Walk, four miles per hour is the difference between life and death. One of the original Bachman books, this bare, dystopian tale is celebrating its 40th birthday this year, so I decided to do a quick reread of what was already a fondly remembered and occasionally revisited novel.
In a not so distant future, one that seems about the same distance away as it was when the tale was written, 100 young men compete for the ultimate prize. Like most of Kings early works, the reader is drawn in quickly by the compelling characters and mystery.
Until the first shot is fired, the Walk seems like a present-day publicity stunt or reality show; it is easy to assume the tanks and firearms are there for security, not penalizing the contestants. The rules of the Walk are simple; you walk at that easy-sounding four mile per hour pace, until you can’t take another step. Contestants who fall below that target pace are warned, then swiftly executed without mercy.
We join the walk alongside walker #47, Ray Garraty, and see the other contestants through his eyes. They walk, they talk, they live and they die at that same four mile per hour pace. Every hunger pang, every blister and every rifle report ramps up the tension and makes this a speedy and enjoyable read.
If you are already a Stephen King fan, you’ll recognize the origins of some beloved later characters in the richly drawn walkers; if you’re not, this story is an ideal introduction to King’s work. At just under 400 pages, The Long Walk is a must-read that will linger with you long after the final page. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself testing out that four miles per hour pace the next time you hit the gym or are in a hurry.
Abbie: Last Sunday I had the privilege of seeing Lynyrd Skynyrd live in concert in Birmingham. Two supporting acts began the evening, the first being Massive Wagons, a British rock band who admittedly I had never heard of. But I have to say they were the perfect introduction to the two classic bands that followed. Lead vocalist Baz Mills really knows how to put on a performance.
Next up were British legends Status Quo. With an English crowd, expectedly, I noticed a sea of Status Quo shirts in the audience. Status Quo have had their fair share of goodbyes, and we all thought they’d be back again. However I didn’t expect their return to be as a supporting act. The band loves to put on a long performance, and managed to fit all the awesome that they could into the hour they had been limited to. Finishing of with the beloved ‘Rockin’ all over the world’, Lynyrd Skynyrd had quite a task ahead of them to start their show as a follow up, and they really didn’t let us down.
From ‘Workin’ for the MCA’, to ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ the band kept the energy high and the guitar solos epic. Johnny Van Zant worked hard to keep the crowd alive, however I am quite ashamed to admit that the crowd we were surrounded with that evening were incredibly dull. With people arriving late, leaving their seats every half an hour to go to the bar, and with an all round lack of enthusiasm, it was very annoying to witness such a perfect show with a crowd who looked like they’ve been dragged there by their parents. When you’re at a concert, I encourage you to get to know who you’re going to see, so you can sing along to the music. It’s part of the fun, and with the band playing hit after hit and not missing a single note, they deserved better from the last audience they performed to in the UK.
‘The Ballad of Curtis Loew’ was a song I noticed a particular reaction to. It was very well received and it was a joy to witness, and ‘Don’t ask me no Questions’ is a personal favourite. It couldn’t have been done better. The encore, as it should be, was the almighty ‘Free Bird’. The very last song of the evening was the one that got the crowd to sit still and pay attention, 12 phenomenal minutes to end the night, with images of Ronnie Van Zant up on the big screen as the band played this song dedicated to him. It was incredibly moving, and the crowd knew every word. ‘Free Bird’ is one of my favourite songs in the world and I couldn’t have imagined it being any better performed live. Overall, and despite the crowd, this night goes into my top five concerts I’ve ever seen, and if there’s still a chance for you to catch the show in the US I highly encourage it. Thank you to Lynyrd Skynyrd for the music that bought us all there that night and if this really is the last tour for them, it was a farewell like no other.
Those are our recommendations this week! What would be yours? Let us know in the comments!