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, Hawk Ripjaw is watching Beef House, Stephanie Edwards is enjoying Digital Drag, John Bernardy is listening to Talking Backwards, and Vincent Greene defends The Thing (2011).
Hawk: I’ve long been a fan of Tim Heidecker and Eric Wereheim, best known for the absurdist masterpiece Tim & Eric’s Awesome Show, Great Job! on Adult Swim. Their humor is a combination of awkward, bizarre, and sometimes disgusting–described by the duo as “David Lynch meets late night access television—but driven by a strong understanding of what they’re spoofing. They’ve had other similar collaborations but Awesome Show remains the true tentpole.
It’s been a while, so it’s great to see them back together with Beef House, in which they are joined by common Awesome Show alumni Ron Auster, Ben Hur, and Tennessee Luke as five men (plus Eric’s wife Megan, played by Jamie-Lynn Sigler) living under the same roof. Yes, Beef House is a spoof of the endless stream of basic cable sitcoms, right down to the multi-camera format and canned studio audience reactions, but it’s still got the unmistakable, bizarre spirit of Tim & Eric’s humor.
The pilot episode finds Tim’s wartime buddy Brad (Michael Bowen) visiting the Beef House and taking up residence in the family room, interfering with Eric’s annual Easter fashion show and egg hunt. Brad’s presence upends the house dynamic as he starts to turn everyone against Eric, including Megan.
The actual term “beef house,” is, like many of the random words Tim & Eric come up with, meaningless and chosen for its phonetic quirkiness. Even when the pair do assign a meaning, it’s still nonsense. Also unexplained is how exactly these men know each other and why they’re living together, and what’s going on in Eric and Megan’s relationship. The show leans hard into the “exasperated hot wife with doofus husband” for some of the most painfully awkward interactions of the show.
The humor of Tim & Eric has always been, I’ve felt, best experienced in small doses (although I think that can be said of a lot of Adult Swim shows). As such, Beef House sticks with the common format of 11-minute episodes and doesn’t overstay its welcome, while pacing itself with plenty of humor at a near constant clip. It’s good to have Tim & Eric back.
Stephanie: Acclimating to this new indoor way of life has been difficult for many, especially those who pay their bills through performing live. Although I am definitely not a live performer, the drag community that I belong to has been hit hard during these past few weeks. From major events getting cancelled, like Drag Con LA, to the closure of many LGBTQ+ bars and nightclubs, like local favourite Crews and Tangos, drag performers have been feeling the sting of Ms. Rona, as many of us like to call her.
Thankfully, performers and fans alike have rallied together to find a way to express and enjoy their art during this dark time, and none have rallied harder than the winner of Dragula’s second season, Biqtch Puddin. Puddin was one of many drag artists who anticipated taking a financial and creative hit due to self-isolation and also noticed the damage that these closures would do for smaller, local queens and kings who don’t have the large fanbases of other drag artists who have competed on TV. Thus, Digital Drag was born, a one-night, three-hour live Twitch telecast featuring 30 drag performers for across the world who would come together and put on a show unlike anything the drag community has ever seen before.
For the small suggested fee of $10, viewers could enjoy a myriad of drag talent, including Drag Race alum like Alaska and Rock M. Sakura, Dragula alum Vander Von Odd and most recent winner Landon Cider, online sensations like Florida Man, and a huge array of local queens from many of the hottest drag cities. Not only would the money from the $10 entry fee be split evenly between the talent, but audience members could also tip their favourite performers via apps like Venmo and Paypal.
I didn’t know exactly what to expect when I first logged onto Puddin’s Twitch channel, but I knew I wanted to be there to witness it. The night ended up being even more fun that I imagined it to be and I felt lucky to be able to not only witness performances from queens and kings that I’ve longed to see forever but also to discover new drag talent. My favourite discovery of the night was Chicago-based drag king Tenderoni, who I am now officially obsessed with. A few other highlights included seeing my favourite Dragula contestant, Louisiana Purchase, perform, as well as hilarious virtual performances from Dragula alum Abhora and UK sensation Juno Birch. Digital Drag was a drag fan’s dream come true, featuring a wonderful mix of well-known and local performers, as well as including lots of trans and afab performers, two groups who we don’t always get to see in the spotlight.
At its peak, Digital Drag had an audience of close to 10,000 watching live and was such a success that it might just become a weekly event. The March 27th show boasts just as exciting a lineup, with Drag Race stars Jinx Monsoon and Miz Cracker making an appearance, alongside another of my favourite Dragula contestants, Evah Destruction. To watch the shows live, make sure to check out Biqtch Puddin’s social media for announcements and check out their Twitch account for streams of past shows.
The Thing (2011): Expanding the Mythos of a Cult Classic
Vincent: The long-awaited follow up to the John Carpenter sci-fi/horror masterpiece from 1982 came almost 30 years later. It was directed by Matthijs van Heijningen Jr. and written by Eric Heisserer. It is not easy to follow such a legendary film as The Thing (1982) which holds a place of cult status in the world of horror, but I think this much-maligned sequel/prequel does a far better job than many others in a similar position.
Over the years there have been many follow-ups to classic movies in both genres that were criticized at the time of their release, but I believe have gone on to have found an audience of their own as time has gone by. Take the sequels to Predator and Robocop for example, two movies that were not initially appreciated but have gone on to have a cult status of their own.
I think given time The Thing (2011) will enjoy a similar status going forward. The reason I say this is because sometimes we need to get our fanboy out of the way first before we can appreciate a movie on its own merits and not as a direct comparison to what has come before. We have to let go of those preconceived notions of what we thought the next entry was going to be and embrace the qualities of what we see before us.
The way I always viewed John Carpenter’s The Thing was as an incomplete puzzle. What was assembled was the main picture. We could see so much of the center but none of the edges, that’s exactly how I see van Heijningen’s sequel/prequel. It is the framework that surrounds the main piece that was the original. It completes the puzzle and fills in the blanks.
The 2011 entry goes back to the events that occurred at the Norwegian station, the team of scientists that originally discovered and excavated the murderous assimilating alien lifeform. They were the ones who disturbed the thing’s slumber and suffered the direst of consequences, which we saw to some degree in the original when MacRready (Kurt Russell) and Dr. Copper (Richard Dysart) investigated the nearby base.
What they witness are nightmarish scenes: the station destroyed and all of its inhabitants dead, victims of unspeakable horrors. The pair’s discovery left the audience with as many questions as the characters themselves. These questions would go unanswered for nearly 30 years until Matthijs van Heijningen Jr. would step in. The Dutch filmmaker had the unenviable task of completing the aforementioned puzzle that Carpenter left unfinished.
In the roles of the doomed team are Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Joel Edgerton, Ulrich Thomsen, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Kristofer Hivju, and Eric Christian Olsen. Winstead leads a strong cast as the American vertebrate paleontologist called in to examine the Norwegians discovery. After they unearth the creature, slowly but surely the events in the camp take the most hellish of turns for the worse.
As the story progresses and it all falls apart we see van Heijninen’s attention to detail. The way he reconstructs the events that occur by using the original as a sounding board is so excellently done. He puts all the pieces where they belong, right down to the ax in the wall. This entry is a homage to its predecessor but never goes as far as trying to copy it—it emulates instead of imitates. It finds its own identity whilst always giving a very respectful nod to John Carpenter’s masterpiece.
It uses similar tropes but is very clever in how it expands on the mythos of the original without ever stepping on the toes of the continuity. Matthijs van Heijninen cleverly moves the story out of the camp and fills in blanks with a very fast-paced original narrative. Even though this quickening of the pace helps the film move along nicely, it does unfortunately come at the expense of the eerie suspense of Carpenter’s version.
Just like the original, the 2011 outing was a product of its times. Whereas Carpenter favored the use of practical effects, Rob Bottin’s creations are legendary for their stomach-churning repulsiveness. This was the bleeding edge of special effects in the early ’80s and Bottin was a master in his field. In this outing van Heijninen went for a mixture of practical effects and CGI, unfortunately, the latter of the two was the more prominent of the special effects that were deployed.
The poor CGI took away from some of the most pivotal moments in the movie but still, they conveyed a level of horror that stays true to the original. The scenes of the creature assimilating the station’s inhabitants are absolutely terrifying, none more so than when it pins one of the team members down and begins to fuse together with its helpless victim. The image of the two melding together is stuff straight from the worse kind of nightmares. This is also a perfect example of how van Heijninen pays respect to Carpenter whilst putting his own stamp on proceedings.
Matthijs van Heijninen does an excellent job of re-enacting what Carpenter laid out without ever leaving so much of a fingerprint behind. He brought his imaginings back to life, and he answered all of our questions and expanded upon the mythos, leaving more than a few of his own unanswered questions, which typifies this franchise perfectly.
I believe it is a worthy follow-up to an incredible work of horror that I feel is wholly under-appreciated in its time. It too has had to wait to find its audience, not unlike the original, which I find kind of funny. You think we would have learned our lesson by now but we haven’t. Someday we will and this excellent horror will get the respect that it truly deserves.
Talking Backwards Podcast
John: The Talking Backwards podcast is a Twin Peaks recap podcast with a host who’s seen Twin Peaks once (Dave Jackson), a host who regularly watches (Patrick Mahan), and one who is new to the show (Tyler Mullins). They’ve been covering Twin Peaks one episode at a time since the end of August, which means they’ve entered the “questionable” territory of Season 2. Not only are they staying positive, all three hosts are enjoying it (including the Nadine storyline, for fellow fans of it like me).
This week, the hosts covered S2E22, or Episode 19, or “Masked Ball,” depending on your preference. They discussed Duwayne Dunham, why Dick Tremayne would decide to enroll in a big brothers program, how the bike ride was probably unused footage from the pilot, and typography confusion between Wally’s Hideout or Hideout Wally’s.
The hosts are pretty sure the student who dances off screen in the Pilot (you know the one) makes an appearance again, are questioning towards Harry’s treatment of Josie, make fun of James’s mechanic sweater, and are pleasantly surprised by the reaction to Denise both then and now.
They mention the lack of Lucy, how the plot to kill Catherine was somehow not brought up, and how they want to see Josie’s reaction to Tojimora.
Every time Mike is mentioned, an audio cue of him shouting “Donna!” is spliced in. Same thing with James shouting “why” for his dumber moments. The sound cue usage is always entertaining. I wonder if they’ll keep using the cougar roar or not whenever Evelyn is mentioned.
Also fun is Tyler’s fascination with “who the hell is Diane?” and his co-hosts’ ways of dodging the answer.
They ended this episode with their normal segments, “Damn Fine Line Of The Night,” and one where they rate the show using James foreheads instead of stars.
The show is pleasant stuff, and does a good job of mixing in production details with interesting insights. I know they need to avoid spoilers thanks to Tyler’s newbie role, but they have solid enough conversations that it keeps it interesting for me even though I’ve listened to who knows how many of these.
It doesn’t hurt that the guys genuinely enjoy each other and they never turn the show into a competition. The energy is especially welcome these days.
I’d’ve reviewed them earlier but I wasn’t sure if they’d go south on Season 2 or not. I’m glad they proved me right that they enjoy Twin Peaks for itself rather than just its mystery plots.
Those are our recommendations this week! What are yours? Let us know in the comments!