The people who filled Queens, New York’s Arthur Ashe tennis stadium for this weekend’s Fortnite World Cup were people who love Fortnite, or at least those people and their parents. The bulk of the attendees I saw were young kids, swimming in soccer shorts and baggy Fortnite t-shirts. They performed the game’s emote dances. They played miniature golf holes designed after in-game icons like the Durr Burger mascot and the Battle Bus. They competed in Fortnite trivia contests, demonstrating so much knowledge of the game that one young contestant even corrected the host on a prior day’s question. The World Cup, like Fortnite itself, felt like a kids’ world.
As an adult—and as a reporter—I have to be attuned to the cracks: the cheating competitors, developer Epic’s penchant for stealing dances from real-life artists, the V-bucks scams that proliferate on Twitter and YouTube, the in-game bullying a teacher friend once told me goes on among his students. I’m inherently suspicious of the money swirling around the World Cup, with its $30 million prize pool, and the juggernaut of Fortnite and the estimated $3 billion Epic has profited off the game. But I’m also, frankly, afraid to love anything with the openness of Fortnite’s fans.
What I saw in Queens, however, wasn’t a slavish devotion to an astonishingly popular game. The times the stadium announcer referred to “making history,” one of Epic’s well-worn phrases, felt crassly commercial. There was the drummed-up exclusivity and the carefully-controlled branding of any major event. But the purest moments of excitement I saw weren’t about things that came from Epic. They were about people—fans, players, self-made stars—sharing their passion with each other.
The Fortnite World Cup Finals were the culmination of months of worldwide qualifying matches, hype by Epic Games, and awe at the millions of dollars on the line for winners. The three-day event brought together hundreds of competitors in solo and duos finals, as well as a competition in various creative modes and a Pro-Am featuring celebrities like streamer Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, wrestler Austin “Xavier Woods” Creed, and boy band NSYNC alum Joey Fatone.
According to Epic, the event sold out, but I saw an unexpected amount of empty seats and closed sections in the approximately 23,700-seat stadium. Lines for the accompanying outdoor fan festival were long, with some attractions having posted wait times of over an hour, but the event felt mobbed to me only once: before a concert of electronic DJ Marshmello, for which an event security person told me fans had lined up two hours ahead of time to score some of the limited Marshmello bucket masks, cardboard signs, and noisemakers promised to the earliest attendees. The crowd surged forward the moment the arena doors opened, and the security person told me he’d stopped several people from trying to sneak in before opening time.
The stadium itself was a wall of sound (Epic provided attendees with Fortnite-purple earplugs.). Players sat on a multi-story stage fenced with images of Fortnite’s wood and metal building materials, with overflow on the ground. The stage was topped with giant monitors and ringed with screens showing match details. Players’ face cameras appeared in front of their seats; when they were eliminated, the virtual fences replaced their images. The acoustics were terrible, and the casters’ voices echoed unintelligibly. I watched Saturday’s duos finals from home, where Epic’s website featuring match stats, player profiles, and multiple streams gave me insight into the proceedings that I and other viewers had longed for during the 10 weeks of qualifiers. In the arena, only the main cast was available, and without being able to comprehend the casters, much of the game was just swirling colors and headache-inducing noise.
The crowd’s energy focused things. Friday’s creative finals and Pro-Am were the least attended. More showed up for Saturday’s duos and Sunday’s solos, which were six matches each. People didn’t trickle in and out much, even when ultimate solos winner Bugha headed into game six with a nearly-untouchable 15-point lead. One of the strengths and weaknesses of the World Cup has been the sheer amount of unknowns, with most of the big-name Fortnite streamers failing to qualify. While this could make it hard to have a favorite, it also gave the event a communal feel. It felt like a scrum of people who all play Fortnite, with some being better than others. I saw a few signs in the stadium for particular players or teams, but it felt like attendees were happy to cheer (and sometimes boo) just about anyone who showed up on the big screens. It seemed like many people didn’t care too much who won. They just wanted to watch each other play.
On Friday, I was sitting in the grass outside the stadium trying to surreptitiously vape without kids noticing. (This futile task continued throughout the weekend.) A short, blue-haired kid milled nearby, looking like every other dyed-hair kid I’d seen in the crowd. I watched a young person approach him and ask cautiously, “Are you Sceptic?” It was in fact the 15-year-old duos player. In the finals, he’d jump in childish alarm when smoke cannons went off during the pre-show, triggering all of my uncle instincts even through my computer screen. In competition, he braggadociously flashed the “take the L” emote during the finals and then almost immediately got killed by player Mongraal, a moment that spread widely on social media.
On Friday, he wasn’t that person yet. He graciously took a picture with the fan who spotted him. The telltale selfie pose attracted others, who recognized that he was a player even if some of them might not have known which one. Sceptic was polite and well-spoken in the way grownups praise kids for being. Adults hovered in the background, a protective audience to a crowd that was, in many ways, peers. Sceptic is a professional esports player, but he’s also a streamer with over 1.3 million YouTube subscribers, someone kids can spend virtual time with whenever they want.
Many of the World Cup qualifiers have made their fame on Twitch and YouTube, and while they all made more money in a weekend than most adults at the event—every competitor was guaranteed to take home at least $50,000—they didn’t feel as inaccessible as traditional sports or television stars. Security was tight at the finals, but there was a collegial air to most of the event, a lack of separation between players and fans.
Fans held up signs with their creator codes, a name Fortnite players can enter in the game’s shop to fiscally support their favorite streamers or themselves. More than one person introduced themselves with their creator code during the trivia contests. I was surprised not to find the promotion cringe-worthy, though I might be numb to it from too much Fortnite on Reddit and YouTube. These self-promoters, especially the younger ones, seemed at home in their moments in the spotlight, like they’d come to expect it from Fortnite’s world of clip-sharing and fan art. The World Cup’s “anyone can win” ethos, certainly a big part of what drove its hype, felt repurposed in their hands.
The youngest player to qualify for the World Cup was 13, the minimum required age, and the oldest was 24. Bugha, who won the solos finals and took home $3 million, is 16. Fortnite is a young person’s game.
Fortnite’s adults also skew young. Popular player Tfue is 21; superstar streamer Ninja is 28. During Friday’s celebrity Pro-Am, content creator CouRageJD took a potshot at the age of player and caster DrLupo in a joke announcement for a “Geriatric Gamer Foundation.” Lupo is 32, five years younger than me.
Fortnite’s adults don’t quite feel like adults. Ninja wears brightly-colored clothes and dyes his hair to match. Tfue spent most of his finals matches in a leopard-print vest. I find Lupo preternaturally fresh-faced. Over the weekend, fans hung off the stadium railings trying to get these adults’ attention, shouting “Lupo!” and “Ninja!” even though they were much too far away to interact in any meaningful way. These shouts didn’t feel needy or full of awe. They sounded more like people hollering to their friends. At the end of the tournament, I overheard some teenagers trying to sneak into a restricted part of the arena. “I’m meeting someone,” one said, and the event staff member appeared to almost believe them before refusing.
The adults’ accessibility is a brand, obviously. Ninja wore a yellow World Cup hoodie when he cast some of Saturday’s matches, and the next day I saw dozens of kids in it despite the heat. The game’s adults need to portray the family-friendly image that encourages parents to let their kids play and brings in the money that keeps the machine running. They aren’t perfect: Ninja rapped a slur last year and later apologized. I don’t know if Fortnite’s adults need to be role models, or if that’s just my own expectation as an adult who second-guesses my every word when I squad up with kids. A 24-year-old and a 13-year old aren’t peers, even if they’re competing in the same game. The day before the World Cup kicked off, Sceptic tweeted a selfie with Ninja, their arms around each other. He captioned it “Finally met my Dad.” Ninja retweeted it.
As I lingered at the fan festival after the Sunday crush for Marshmello’s concert had filtered inside, a new crowd appeared. Whispers of “That’s Marshmello!” went up, which attracted more people to the fast-moving cluster. Marshmello is a Fortnite mainstay, having played an in-game concert in February. His catchy beats and simple lyrics make him popular with kids: The entirety of one song’s lyrics go “I’m so alone/ nothing feels like home/ I’m so alone/ trying to find my way back home to you.” I spotted glimpses of a white bucket mask and a purple sweatshirt, the outfit Marshmello would wear during his performance. It seemed like him, but I wondered how anyone would know if it really was. It would be so easy, I thought, to pretend to be the musician for attention.
“Look, it’s Marshmello!” a mom shouted to her kids, who were busy watching a performance on the fan festival’s small stage. Their dad eventually heralded them over to the crowd, which paused by the end of a zipline ride to form a mass of waving arms and selfie sticks before mysteriously dissolving.
The mom and her family were from Orlando; her kids, ages 10 and 12, love Fortnite and were thrilled to be at the event. She told me she didn’t play but that her kids’ dad played with them. She said her kids had wanted World Cup tickets since the moment they were announced, and when I asked her how she felt about being there with them, she said, “It’s nice to see what they love.” She told me they hadn’t gotten into the stadium in time to get Marshmello souvenirs, but their dad had somehow scored a poster, though she said, with pride, that she didn’t know how.
Marshmello had vanished, but there was a new crowd. A small kid in a Marshmello mask was wandering by the line for the stage. An adult started up a call of “Hey, it’s Marshmello!” I couldn’t tell if they were related, though the adult had the friendly air of someone used to kids. “Let me know if you need a bodyguard, Marshmello,” he offered congenially. Some other kids waiting in the line asked for the miniature Marshmello’s autograph. They obliged, marching along the row with their bucket mask knocking loosely.
I expected parents to look out of place, the way I felt. But for the most part, they appeared to be having fun. I watched an adult beaming as he filmed a kid during in-game character DJ Yonder’s music set, rushing up to take the kid’s lanyard and store it around his own neck in a move that screamed “dad.” Parents held bags of goodies and food, ushered kids into the shade and waited patiently in lines. They seemed used to their kids’ excitement and by and large happy, or at least comfortable, sharing in it.
Parents of the competitors beamed with pride. Heading back to the subway at the end of the weekend, I fell behind a couple wearing matching jerseys with “Smeefdad” and “Smeefmom” written on them. They confirmed to a man nearby, with his arm over a young boy in a Ninja Turtles backpack, that they were Europe competitor Smeef’s parents. Bugha’s dad danced unabashedly when his son won; Brazil powerhouse K1ng’s father embraced him as he cried after coming in fifth in solos.
Throughout the weekend, I was impressed with how much fun everyone was having. People were excited to be there, getting pumped not just to see the likes of Marshmello but also a kid dressed as him. They didn’t seem as excited to watch Marshmello as they were to just be excited about him with each other. The Epic-produced event of him, though enjoyable, was secondary.
That’s how the whole event felt. Whatever corporate stuff was going on was an excuse for people to gather, the same way Fortnite can function more like a hangout spot than an attraction in its own right. The impressive gameplay in the World Cup finals was a worthy draw, but I can imagine a kids’ party with Fortnite balloons having a similar energy. While only some people left with prize money, a lot more had a great time simply being around their fellow Fortnite fans.
Today, Smash daddy Masahiro Sakurai announced that Dragon Quest’s Hero fighter will arrive in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate today as part of the version 4.0 update.
The Heroes, referred to as “Hero” in-game, are from Dragon Quest XI S, Dragon Quest III, Dragon Quest IV,and Dragon Quest VIII—each expressed as different skins for the base fighter. Along with them, six Dragon Quest songs are coming to Smash, including two from each released game, as well as a Dragon Quest stage called Yggdrasil’s Altar.
Players can buy the fighter pack for $5.99 when it’s online today, Sakurai announced in a video this morning:
Also announced today in the 4.0 update, fighters’ final smash meters now have a time limit. “That will make it harder to use your attack range to play a waiting game,” Sakurai explained. Smash Ultimate’s adventure mode is getting a “very easy” difficulty, too, and now, players in “spectator mode” can bet on who they think will win in exchange for points.
Lastly, Smash Ultimate is getting an online tournament mode. Finally. And yet, in proper Smash online fashion, it seems a little wonky: The rulesets will change periodically.
After Hero, Smash players will get the long-awaited Banjo & Kazooie this fall. Then, there are just two unannounced mystery fighters left. Perhaps one of them is Goku-shaped?
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Let’s get this out of the way first: This is not a complete recounting of every single pop culture reference inOnce Upon A Time… In Hollywood. To claim as much would be hubris. No, this is simply the best The A.V. Club could do after two back-to-back viewings of Quentin Tarantino’s latest, the second of which was devoted wholly to noting every movie poster, real-life character, radio ad, and name drop we could catch. It was humbling—and really enjoyable.
Tarantino’s films always double as cryptic scavenger hunts, maps of the writer-director’s cinema-obsessed psyche where each landmark is as lovingly and deliberately placed as the monthly programming at Tarantino’s New Beverly Cinema—which Tarantino makes a point of curating himself, even when he’s in the middle of shooting one of his own movies. Asked if he’s worried if younger viewers won’t “get” all of his references in Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood in a new interview with Time, Tarantino says, “it bums me out that [younger viewers] don’t know more than they do,” but “you don’t have to know everybody I’m talking about here. Every film book I ever read, I expected the guy to know more than me.” But he encourages the millennial crowd to look up unfamiliar elements of the movie to enhance the experience; “I’m Mr. Look Up Things, constantly, as I’m watching stuff,” he adds.
Now, we have more clues to help with this obsessive-compulsive endeavor than previous generations did flipping through their film encyclopedias. Even a director who’s famously adverse to social media can’t avoid the internet entirely in 2019, and Tarantino breaks down the New Bev’s July 2019 schedule—all films that relate to Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood in one way or another—on a three-hour episode of the theater’s Pure Cinema Podcast. That’s recommended if you want to get deeper into the cinematic references in the film.
We are, for the purposes of this piece, assuming that you know who Sharon Tate was, what happened when Charles Manson commanded his followers to kill in August 1969, who Roman Polanski was at the time of the murders, and who he is today. If you’re not familiar with any of these people, the “Charles Manson’s Hollywood” series on the You Must Remember This podcast is a detailed, extremely well-told recounting of the historical background for the film’s depiction of Tate, Polanski, Manson, and his “Family.” There have also been multiple biographical documentaries about Bruce Lee, who’s played by Mike Moh in the film and about whom we’re also assuming you have at least a passing familiarity. Of those, we like Bruce Lee: A Warrior’s Journey, which was released in 2000.
With all that being said, hop into the way, way back machine, kiddies, because we’re taking a trip to Hollywood, 1969.
Hullabaloo / “Green Door”
Rick’s failure to get with the times is underlined in his appearance on this rock ’n’ roll variety show, one of two youthquake aftershocks that hit primetime during the 1964-65 television season. (The other being ABC’s Shindig.) NBC’s version played host to The Rolling Stones, The Supremes, and the miniskirted dancers who shimmy and bop around DiCaprio in Once Upon A Time…, but Hullabaloo was equally stacked behind the scenes—future T.A.M.I. Show director and Pee-wee’s Playhouse producer Steve Binder set its frenetic visual template, and Beatles impresario Brian Epstein provided a steady stream of British Invasion bookings. In front of the show’s distinctive pileup of Cooper Black text, DiCaprio sweats his way through an off-key rendition of “Green Door,” the novelty record that ruled the Billboard Top 100 in November of 1956. The Cole Porter standard “Don’t Fence Me In” was also considered, but “Green Door” is a better fit—why shouldn’t has-been Rick Dalton croon about being kept up all night by the noise emanating from a swinging club that won’t grant him admission? [Erik Adams]
The Rick Dalton guest-shot résumé
When Marvin Schwarz (Al Pacino) rattles off a list of shows Rick has or could’ve guested on, it’s a whirlwind tour of mid-to-late-’60s action-adventure TV: NBC’s two-season update of the Tarzan mythos, the Irwin Allen forced-perspective spectacle of Land Of The Giants, na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na Batman. But with the exception of the pilot Rick’s lending his name recognition to, Lancer, there’s not a Western among them. Shows like the fictional Bounty Law were on the verge of being put out to pasture in 1969, a once-dominant genre reduced almost entirely to the small but steadfast posse of Gunsmoke, Bonanza, The Virginian, and High Chaparral. Wasn’t much call for a gunfighter those days—good thing Rick hung onto that 14 Fists Of McCluskey flamethrower. [Erik Adams]
Jay Sebring is mostly portrayed as Sharon Tate’s loyal lapdog in Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood, with only the briefest mention of his career as a hairdresser towards the end of the film where Jay clarifies, “no, I get a thousand dollars a day.” Sebring, who taught himself to cut hair while serving in the Navy during the Korean War, was the premier hairstylist for Hollywood leading men in the late 1960s, counting Kirk Douglas, Paul Newman, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Marlon Brando, Henry Fonda, Steve McQueen, and Bruce Lee—who really did give him martial arts lessons—among his regular clients. He was also the inspiration for consummate ladies’ man George Roundy in Shampoo (1975); Sebring’s regular client Warren Beatty came up with the idea after learning that Sebring had a private entrance at his salon that provided perfect cover for afternoon trysts as well as A-list makeovers. [Katie Rife]
The “king of cool” himself. In Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood, action star Steve McQueen(Damian Lewis) pines at a Playboy Mansion party that he never stood a chance with Sharon Tate—who, according to McQueen, appeared to prefer shorter, less handsome men than himself. Much like Rick Dalton, McQueen got his start on television as a bounty hunter with a heart of gold on CBS’s Wanted Dead Or Alive, which premiered in 1957. (His second act as a movie star was far more successful, however.) In Tarantino’s Hollywood, McQueen and Dalton go up for many of the same parts, including the Oscar-nominated The Great Escape (1963), prompting Dalton to imagine himself in the starring role. [Mike Vanderbilt]
The Mamas And The Papas
The counterculture that Rick and Cliff detest, Sharon, Jay, and Roman hang on the fringes of, and Charles Manson exploited found one of its widest-reaching expressions in the music of The Mamas And The Papas. The group’s richly harmonized blend of folk, rock, flower-power euphoria, and bad-trip melancholy hangs over Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood like a period-appropriate smog: “Straight Shooter” plays on the radio and the Tate-Polanski piano, and Jose Feliciano’s cover of “California Dreamin’” soundtracks the conclusion of the film’s winter chapters. The “mamas” half of the band appears on screen, too: Vocalists Michelle Phillips and Cass Elliot are the friends who greet Sharon upon her arrival at the Playboy Mansion. They were close enough in real life that Phllips’ husband—and Mamas And The Papas bandleader—John Phillips was briefly considered a suspect in the Tate murders. [Erik Adams]
Paul Revere & The Raiders/ Terry Melcher
In the late ’60s, Paul Revere & The Raiders had a string of Top 40 garage-pop hits—including “Kicks,” known as one of the first anti-drug anthems in popular music. (Lead singer Mark Lindsay contends he thought it was “about how it’s not as easy to have fun as it used to be.”) Lindsay, Revere producer Terry Melcher, and actress Candice Bergen moved in to 10050 Cielo Dr. in late ’66, and in ’68 Charles Manson attended a meeting with the producer, facilitated by Beach Boy Dennis Wilson, at the house. (Manson, a failed musician, plied Wilson with LSD and sex all summer to get that meeting.) Melcher declined to sign Manson, but considered working with him on a documentary about his music, until abandoning the project after witnessing a brawl with a drunken stuntman at Spahn Ranch. Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood features Sharon Tate, who by February 1969 had moved into Melcher and Lindsay’s old digs, grooving to “Good Thing;” the band’s pure pop sound was falling out of favor for edgier fare from the likes of The Doors by 1969— thus Sharon teasing Jay Sebring that she’d tell Jim Morrison (a client at Sebring’s salon) that Jay digs Paul Revere & The Raiders. When Manson comes by shortly afterwards asking where “Terry and Candice” are, it’s a desperate gambit to try to get the record producer to give him one more chance. [Katie Rife/Mike Vanderbilt]
Lancer: Sam Wanamaker/James Stacy/Wayne Maunder
Rick’s guest spot on the pilot for Lancer—a real Western TV series that ran on Tuesdays at 7:30 on CBS from 1968 to 1970—is littered with real-life figures. The flashy, capelet-clad director who wants Rick Dalton to bring some of that Hells Angels’ counterculture flair to his role is Sam Wanamaker, a real actor and director who actually did helm one episode of Lancer. James Stacy, the series lead portrayed by Timothy Olyphant, really did star in the show, whose “half-brothers defending the family ranch” conceit solidified its status as a second-rate Bonanza. Wayne Maunder, portrayed by Luke Perry in the movie, co-starred as the half-brother. In fact, the most heavily fictionalized detail of Rick’s Lancer experience involves the child actress Dalton’s character kidnaps on the episode, as the family’s female ward on the actual Lancer was played by 22-year-old Elizabeth Baur. [Katie Rife]
As Tarantino outlines on the Pure Cinema Podcast, the character of Rick Dalton was informed by a handful of real-life ‘60s screen stars, and Fabian is a big one. Unlike the warbling Rick, Fabian Forte is an excellent singer, and got his start as a heartthrob and crooner on American Bandstand in the late ‘50s before making the transition to acting in the early-to-mid-’60s. Much like Rick’s big-screen belly flop, Fabian wasn’t able to sustain his previous level of celebrity as a movie star, and after a handful of early successes he was banished to B-movies and TV guest spots—like his appearance on the primetime Western The Virginian, on the set of which Fabian is in a (fictional) accident that forces him to drop out of the (fictional) WWII action flick The 14 Fists Of McLusky, allowing Rick Dalton to step in in his place. [Katie Rife]
The Wrecking Crew
When Hollywood got ahold of Donald Hamilton’s series of Matt Helm novels, the studios took the literary spy and, knowing there was no real way to compete with the James Bond juggernaut of the ‘60s, turned him into a parody of the character—and the genre. A sort of proto-Austin Powers, Dean Martin’s Matt Helm was more swinging than his British counterpart, and infinitely sillier. Frankly, 1969’s The Wrecking Crew, the Matt Helm moviethat Sharon Tate goes to see in Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood, is kind of a drag. But Tate is a technicolor wonder in groovy ‘60s ensembles, and steals the show by showcasing both comedic chops and karate chops. (Bruce Lee really did assist in choreographing the fight sequences.) [Mike Vanderbilt]
The Mercenary/Sergio Corbucci
The other movie playing at the Bruin Westwood on February 9, 1969 ties in to both Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood and Tarantino’s larger filmography. This (actually quite good and worth tracking down) 1968 spaghetti Western was directed by Sergio Corbucci, the real-life director of such classics of the subgenre as Django and The Great Silence; within the film, he’s also the director of the fictional Rick Dalton vehicle Nebraska Jim, about which the Narrator says Rick “exist[ed] quite nicely” among Corbucci’s coterie of rough-and-tumble antiheroes. A snippet of music from Ennio Morricone’s score for The Mercenary, the stirring “L’Arena,” was also featured in Kill Bill, Vol. 2. [Katie Rife]
Valley Of The Dolls
It’s ironic that Sharon Tate isn’t recognized in this movie for what would wind up becoming her most famous role: Jennifer in Valley Of The Dolls. In the top-selling novel of 1966, Jacqueline Susann crafted the trashy-yet-epic story of three beautiful young starlets and their tumultuous Hollywood paths: Neely O’Hara (played by Patty Duke in the movie), Anne Welles (Peyton Place cast member Barbara Parkins), and Jennifer North, “the one who ends up doing dirty movies,” played by Tate. The part of Jennifer, the gorgeous blonde bombshell who only wants someone to love her for who she is, not what she looks like, was reportedly based on Marilyn Monroe and Carole Landis, both actresses who eventually died of barbiturate overdose. The movie version of Valley Of The Dolls was a box-office success, but was so panned by critics (it’s often included on lists of the worst films of all time) that it eventually became a cult hit as a camp classic. After Tate’s murder in 1969, Valley Of The Dolls was re-released. [Gwen Ihnat]
Squeaky Fromme and George Spahn’s appointment viewing has some basis in truth: The FBI (“A Quinn Martin/Warner Bros. production!”) and the long-lived oater Bonanza aired back-to-back on ABC and NBC, respectively, on Sunday nights until 1971. [Erik Adams]
The Deep Cuts
Love, Hate, And Dishonor
The first of several ads that play over the radio in Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood is for Love, Hate, And Dishonor, the American TV title for the jazzy 1965 Italian murder mystery The Possessed. The film’s significant not only in the fact that it stars Peter Baldwin—another American actor slumming it abroad in European genre movies— but also because Tarantino first saw many of the films that make up Once Upon A Time’s collective unconscious in their TV airings, as he elaborates on the Pure Cinema Podcast. [Katie Rife]
Clint Ritchie/Henry Wilcoxon
Tanner is Rick Dalton’s big-screen Western triumph in Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood, but brief insert shots of Marvin Schwarz watching the movie in his home theater turn up the names of two real-life actors who play second banana to the fictional Rick. The first is Clint Ritchie, a North Dakota native and studio player who started his career on the CBS cowboy series Wild Wild West before being set adrift after Twentieth Century Fox released him from his contract in the early ‘70s. The second is the distinguished English actor Henry Wilcoxon, who enjoyed a long and loyal partnership with director Cecil B. DeMille in the ‘30s, ‘40s,’ and ‘50s. By the late ‘60s, however, Wilcoxon had been reduced to appearing in guest starring roles on primetime TV, much like another fading star we could name. [Katie Rife]
Musso & Frank
Any history of Hollywood’s oldest restaurant—and there’s been a lot of them on the occasion of its centennial—drops enough names to be mistaken for Tarantino dialogue. The steak-and-martini joint is where Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio engaged in PDA, Bukowski got blotto, and Jon Hamm pretended Don Draper was at Sardi’s. Once Upon A Time In Hollywood’s period setting required plenty turn-back-the-clock touch-ups on L.A. landmarks, but not here. The red-leather-and-mahogany decor, the jacketed servers, and most of the menu have practically been preserved in amber. Any night at Musso’s could look like 2019, 1949, or, for one fateful, Tarantino-directed schmooze fest over whiskey sours and bloody marys, 1969. [Erik Adams]
“Bill Cosby, Nancy Sinatra, and Tom Smothers”
As Cliff drives up Cielo Drive, he hears a radio ad announcing guest stars like Bill Cosby, Nancy Sinatra, and the Smothers Brothers on an unknown variety show. An entertainment holdover from the vaudeville days, the variety show was trying to retain relevancy as the ’60s drew to a close. Irreverent upstarts like Rowan And Martin’s Laugh-In and Tom and Dick Smothers attempted to breathe new life into the old format, while Bob Hope’s never-ending series of specials was steeped in the nostalgia of old-school Hollywood. So this list of guest stars tracks the industry’s forward-looking transition that Rick is so desperately trying to fight. Bill Cosby and Tom Smothers are the future, while Nancy Sinatra is an interesting bridge in the middle: She’s Hollywood royalty thanks to her father Frank, but was ready to kick up her own go-go boots in hits like “These Boots Are Made For Walkin’.” [Gwen Ihnat]
The Illustrated Man
Rod Steiger became the human canvas upon which three Ray Bradbury short stories are inked in this cinematic adaptation of the science-fiction author’s 1951 collection. Once Upon A Time digs up one of the film’s radio spots, but its theatrical trailer has its own Tarantino connection: It’s structured an awful lot like Edgar Wright’s contribution to the Grindhouse trailer reel, Don’t. [Erik Adams]
Romeo & Juliet
The 1968 film Romeo And Juliet is shown on two marquees in Once Upon A Time…first in February and then in August, where the marquee exclaims, “8th month in theaters!” Many movies had been made of Shakespeare’s tragedy about the doomed young lovers, but Franco Zeffirelli’s film, released in October 1968, was a straight-up sensation; Roger Ebert called it “the most exciting film of Shakespeare ever made.” Zeffirelli broke with tradition by casting unknown teenage actors Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey to play the titular pair, filming in stunningly picturesque Italy. The film’s prominent placement here could be a reference to the tragedy of the actual Manson murders, but also a sly wink to star Leonardo DiCaprio’s younger glory days, when he played Romeo in Baz Luhrmann’s 1996 version. [Gwen Ihnat]
Lady In Cement/Pretty Poison
The double feature playing at the Van Nuys Drive-In the night Cliff comes home for some mac and cheese reflects the changes in the film industry that have Rick and Cliff so out of sorts: The first is Lady In Cement, a Miami-set thriller marketed towards middle-aged Playboy subscribers fossilizing at a rate similar to that of the film’s star, Frank Sinatra. The second is Pretty Poison, which, despite starring the past-his-prime Anthony Perkins, catered to the edgy sensibilities of New Hollywood with a torrid tale of an ex-con and a disaffected teenager caught in a sexually charged folie a deux. (Longtime Tarantino fans will also recognize the brassy trains of “Funky Fanfare,” the snippet of music that National Screen Service used to mark the end of the pre-show and beginning of the feature throughout this period.) As for the drive-in itself, it hung in there longer than any other outdoor theater in the San Fernando Valley before being torn down to make way for a high school in the late ‘90s. The school’s mascot is The Vaqueros, a tribute to the cowboy on the drive-in’s famous sign whose bucking bronco lorded over the lot for nearly 50 years. [Katie Rife]
As Cliff arrives back at his trailer on February 8, we very pointedly see vocalist Robert Goulet performing on his TV screen, singing “MacArthur Park.” And Goulet did appear that night in an ABC show called The Hollywood Palace, a midseason variety show replacement for The Jerry Lewis Show. Featuring Goulet is a very deliberate choice: he’s like the musical version of DiCaprio’s character Rick Dalton. By this point, the high point of Goulet’s career—playing Lancelot on Broadway opposite Julie Andrews and Richard Burton in Camelot—was also years behind him, and the rest of his career primarily consisted of guest-starring TV appearances on variety shows like this one, dramas like Police Story, and a variety of game shows (although he did get his own special in 1970). Jimmy Webb’s 1968 hit “MacArthur Park” was a favorite of Goulet’s, a detailed account of the end of a relationship; perhaps Tarantino appreciates the song’s poignant but picturesque descriptive elements, like the old men playing Chinese checkers and the cake getting left out in the rain. [Gwen Ihnat]
With those striking blue eyes and iconic mole, there’s no mistaking Anne Francis on the pin-up poster that adorns Cliff Booth’s Van Nuys trailer. Best known for her role in Forbidden Planet—which earned her a nod in“Science Fiction, Double Feature” from The Rocky Horror Picture Show—Francis appeared on most of the big television shows of the day, from The Untouchables to The Twilight Zone. In 1965, she was cast as private investigator Honey West, a show that,despite running for only one season, quickly developed a cult following. Produced by Aaron Spelling, West was an American answer to the British Avengers and featured Francis as one of the first female private investigators on TV, cruising around in a bitchin’ convertible Shelby Cobra with her pet ocelot. [Mike Vanderbilt]
Three In The Attic
Released in December of 1968, Three In The Attic is still playing in February 1969 in Tarantino’s Hollywood. Attic stars Christopher Jones as Paxton Quigley, a ladies’ man dividing his time between three girlfriends; when the girls discover Quigley’s deception, they lock him up in an attic and do with him whatever they want (oh no!). Roger Ebert called Attic “a frustrating movie because it could have been so good and occasionally is so good and yet it finally loses its nerve and collapses into a routine gutless exploitation picture.” That last bit is to be expected—it was released by American International Pictures, after all. [Mike Vanderbilt]
Cliff has a copy of the February 8, 1969 issue of TV Guide in his trailer, the cover of which puts Mount Rushmore heads, scuba-fin feet, and pipe-cleaner legs on Martin Landau, Peter Graves, and their Mission: Impossible co-stars. The caricatures are the unmistakable work of the late Jack Davis, whose illustrations and designs enlivened newsstands, movie-theater lobbies, and the animated productions of Rankin/Bass throughout the latter half of the 20th century. In the world of Once Upon A Time, he even took on the star of Bounty Law, giving Rick’s rec-room decor faux-Davis renditions of Jake Cahill fronting TV Guide and the storied publication that claimed the cartoonist as one of its “Usual Gang of Idiots”: MAD Magazine. (The cherry on top of that cover: The “ECCH!” flag issuing from cartoon Rick’s sidearm.) [Erik Adams]
The Golden Stallion
A poster of the 1949 Roy Rogers Western The Golden Stallion isn’t just displayed in Rick’s house because it’s his favorite genre. Quentin Tarantino is fascinated by this little-known film and its director, William Witney; it’s also the movie playing in the background when the Bride confronts Bill in Kill Bill, Volume 2. Witney had a long Hollywood career as basically a utility director, starting out in serials like Zorro Rides Again in the ‘30s, and directing tons of TV Westerns like Bonanza and Wagon Train. (One of his last movies was the blaxploitation film Darktown Strutters in 1975.) Roy Rogers was known as the smiling, singing cowboy, usually accompanied by his horse, Trigger, and his wife, Dale Evans. The Golden Stallion goes a bit deeper than Rogers’ films usually did, however. Trigger gets second billing (yes, above Rogers’ wife), as Rogers falsely confesses to a killing the horse is being blamed for, and winds up on a chain gang. As Tarantino told The New York Times in 2000, “You know, in some movies, a cowboy might go to jail to save his best friend from being shot down dead. Well, Trigger is Roy’s best friend. It’s the easiest leap to have him do that here, yet it’s so powerful and so unexpected. What’s great is that you buy it, you absolutely buy it, and I don’t know that I really would buy it from anybody else but Roy and Trigger.” Seems an appropriate nod in a movie about two best friends—and one of the friends’ dog. [Gwen Ihnat]
He doesn’t pick her up until later in the film, but in the first scene where Cliff sees—and wordlessly flirts with—Pussycat (Margaret Qualls) as she hitchhikes through Hollywood, the Manson follower is sitting in front of a piece of history. The pink-and-orange building behind her is a replica of Pandora’s Box, a popular all-ages coffeeshop/nightclub on the Sunset Strip that was the epicenter of the groovy Hollywood “youthquake” in the early-to-mid ‘60s; interestingly, the actual Pandora’s Box was shut down following an infamous anti-curfew protest held outside the club in November 1966, about which Buffalo Springfield later wrote the song “For What It’s Worth.” The fact that the building still appears functional three years later in Tarantino’s 1969 points towards another death knell for youth culture averted in his alternate-history version of the ‘60s. [Katie Rife]
Don’t Make Waves
A poster of this 1967 film is hanging on the wall at Sharon Tate’s home for good reason: She co-starred in the Beach Party-esque sex farce. Starring Tony Curtis as a guy looking for a fresh start in Malibu, only to wind up meeting Tate’s surfer named—wait for it—Malibu, Don’t Make Waves was produced in the waning days of the beach movie trend. But it did get Tate prominently into the public eye: Cardboard cutouts of her bikini-clad character graced theaters around the country, and a nationwide Coppertone ad campaign linked to the film got her even more attention. [Alex McLevy]
C.C. And Company
Tarantino lets most of the trailer for the 1970 biker flick C.C. And Company play behind the scene where Sharon Tate settles in to a matinee of her movie The Wrecking Crew; if this seems like a tacit movie recommendation, it is. Joe Namath—yes, that Joe Namath—stars as a lone wolf biker, and while he’s obviously not a professional actor, Namath does have a strange magnetism that keeps the movie compelling, or at least watchable, despite your typical overabundance of motorcycle (and dirt bike!) footage. Tarantino cracks up describing the opening scene of C.C. And Company on the Pure Cinema Podcast, and we have to agree. It’s a good one. It’s also representative of the New Hollywood that was making the studio system quake in its boots in 1969: The film was distributed by AVCO Embassy, an indie studio that got its start distributing the original Godzilla in the U.S. before becoming a major player with The Graduate in 1967. [Katie Rife]
The Pussycat Theater
The provocative marquee of the Pussycat Theater, one in a chain of X-rated theaters that spread throughout Southern California in the ‘60s and ‘70s, purrs seductively in the background throughout Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood. Cliff passes it in one of the film’s many driving scenes, as the marquee advertises a double feature of the NYC sexploitation picture Babette (1968)—starring Linda Boyce as an enterprising young lady who will “do pretty much anything with pretty much anyone” as long as the price is right—along with The Turn On!, which may be an alternate title for 1969’s Turn On To Love, or could be fictional. Our research was inconclusive on this one. What isn’t fictional is the exchange Sharon and Jay have later in the film, where Sharon asks if “dirty movies” have premieres, to which Jay replies in the affirmative as he pulls her into El Coyote for dinner. (Fun fact: They’re not talking about the Pussycat in that scene. They’re talking about the theater Tarantino now owns, the New Beverly Cinema, which is right down the block from El Coyote and was an adult theater in the ‘60s and ‘70s.) Full-on XXX pornography hadn’t quite broken through to the mainstream in 1969, but a few short years later theaters around L.A. would host the premieres of multiple entries into the so-called “golden age of porn.” [Katie Rife]
Linda And Abilene
This may be one of the less historically rigorous details in Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood, given that the movie wasn’t released in U.S. theaters until September 1969, but seeing the poster for Linda And Abilene hanging up in George Spahn’s cabin is still a treat. Directed by Herschell Gordon Lewis, Linda And Abilene is one of three low-budget softcore films from the “Godfather of Gore” that were thought to be lost forever until Vinegar Syndrome found them and put them out on Blu-ray in 2013. It was also filmed on the Spahn Movie Ranch while Charles Manson and his followers were living there. (A “family” member named Bill Vance appears as a featured extra in this incest-obsessed “sex Western,” which was indeed a thing in the late ‘60s.) According to the Blu-ray liner notes by Casey Scott, Lewis dismissed Manson’s followers, who stood around gawking at the sex scenes as they were bring filmed, as “goofy kids … stoned out of their heads.” [Katie Rife]
Rick Dalton has a soft spot for Hopalong Cassidy in Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood, counting a collection of mugs featuring the fictional cowboy among the Western collectibles he keeps on the shelf above his in-home bar. He even picks up a fourth mug to complete the set while he’s abroad in Europe, and the collectibles-obsessed Tarantino makes a point of including an insert shot of Rick’s hand placing the new mug next to the others when Rick, Cliff, and Francesca return to L.A. Where the younger characters in the film grew up with Rick Dalton as Jake Cahill on Bounty Law, Dalton himself grew up with Hopalong Cassidy, who was played by actor William Boyd—himself past his prime when he got the role in 1935—in a series of more than 50 B-Westerns in the 1930s. The character was revived in the late ‘40s for the then-new medium of television, sparking a craze for Westerns that later catapulted Rick to stardom. Boyd didn’t die until 1972, so who knows—maybe Rick got the chance to work with his idol before he rode off into the sunset permanently. [Katie Rife]
On a poster for one of Rick’s spaghetti Westerns, Red Blood Red Skin, it’s noted that he co-stars with Telly Savalas. In real life, the famously bald Greek actor was on a bit of a hot streak at the time, after co-starring in The Dirty Dozen in 1967 and appearing in Bond movie On Her Majesty’s Secret Service in 1969. So his appearance bodes well for Rick’s cinematic career. Savalas’ iconic role was just around the corner, though; he played lollipop-sucking lieutenant Kojack from 1973 to 1978, followed by a series of TV movies. Random Savalas fun fact: He’s Jennifer Aniston’s godfather. [Gwen Ihnat]
In the mid ‘60s, former TV cowboy Ty Hardin made his way to Italy, where he cranked out a series of spaghetti Westerns—and Sergio Corbucci’s kinetic, massively entertaining 1967 spy thriller Moving Target, a.k.a. Death On The Run. In the film, Hardin plays an international superspy in a stylish Harrington jacket and driver’s cap known simply as Jason. (Tarantino has described the character as a proto-Jason Bourne.) No stranger to “borrowing” footage, Tarantino repurposes the car chase from 1967 film to stand in for Rick Dalton’s fictional Operazione Dyn-O-Mite, making a point to highlight some impressive stunt driving from Cliff Booth. [Mike Vanderbilt]
Krakatoa, East Of Java
For present-day denizens of Hollywood, the summer of 2018 was a real time warp, as Tarantino and crew took sections of Sunset and Hollywood Boulevards and retrofitted them into what they actually looked like back in 1969. The Cinerama Dome on Sunset, a massive 800-seat theater with a curved 70mm screen, has been a primo location for movie studios to show off their latest epics since its construction in 1963. It also looks pretty much the same as it did when it was first built, and so naturally it gets the flashback treatment in the film. Krakatoa, East Of Java, the disaster movie playing at the Cinerama in Tarantino’s Hollywood, is an interesting choice, given that the 70mm spectacular was a huge flop with both critics and audiences when it premiered in May 1969. Then again, its presence in the film does winkingly nod to the fact that overbloated, sloppily assembled—Krakatoa is actually west of Java—special effects-heavy blockbusters are nothing new. Bringing everything around full circle, Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood is playing in 70mm at the Cinerama Dome as we speak. [Katie Rife]
Also spotted: Numero Uno cologne;Screen Gems; Eddie O’Brien; Sgt. Fury and Kid Colt comic books; Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970); Heaven Sent by Helena Rubenstein; Western TV series The Big Valley (1965-1969); Joanna (1968); Pendulum (1969), Combat! (1962-1967); L.A. newscaster George Putnam; The Night They Raided Minsky’s (1969); They Came To Rob Las Vegas (1968)
Farming Simulator, a game about planting and harvesting crops using giant pieces of agricultural machinery, held its first tournament since launching an esports league this past weekend. The results were surprisingly chill and wholesome to watch.
The team Trelleborg, which came in second at last year’s FarmCon competition in Germany, found itself on the winning side of the finals this time around against Landwirtschaft3.0. Though the final score was only 556 to 523, the returning runners-up seemed to have things well in hand throughout the match. That was despite a handful of minor hiccups that, while fascinating to watch unfold in real time due to their intrinsic Farming Simulator-ness, didn’t end up slowing them down that much in the long run.
Trelleborg took home $13,000 in prize money and are well positioned now going into the rest of the rest of the season, but even among the infamously reserved crowd of esports champions, these winners seemed particularly lowkey about their victory. A gift certificate with the word “Yay” in all caps held up by one of the Trelleborg players on stage at the end was the only thing close to an exclamation on stage. To say that competitive Farming Simulator is a sleepy affair might be an understatement, but that quality is also one of its greatest virtues.
When the league was first announced in January by the game’s creators, Giants Software,a lot of people, including me, had…questions. How does one “win” at Farming Simulator? What makes someone especially good at virtual farming? And why would anyone find it exciting to watch? I haven’t found answers to all of those questions, but having witnessed the inaugural tournament’s grand finals at FarmCon 2019, I now have an appreciation for the extremely anti-esport vibes surrounding the game’s competitive scene.
The rules, it turned out, are relatively simple. Two teams of three players compete in separate areas to see which can harvest the most wheat in 15 minutes. There are some wrinkles that add some opportunities for cheeky plays. For example, teams can get point multipliers by selling excess wheat to a local town. This boosts the points they get for each subsequent bale of wheat harvested while also decreasing their opponent’s multiplier. Teams also get more points for loading their wheat into the top door of the barn through a conveyor belt, although it takes a little bit more time and requires extra precision to get the bale situated on a conveyor belt just right. Each field is also separated from the barn area by a small drawbridge that occasionally moves, which is the competition’s only map hazard.
Often in competitions there sharp contrasts that can be drawn between different characters or team playstyles. One fighter might be bigger and slower while another is smaller and faster. One soccer team might be cautious, waiting to counter-attack, while another dominates the game and takes big risks. Farming Simulator eschews these archetypes, with the core strategy taking a cue from Aesop’s fable “The Tortoise and the Hare.” In Farming Simulator, everyone is a tortoise. Players slowly navigate vast fields of wheat and deal with the intricacies of detailed mechanical equipment until each individual task, gently accomplished in turn, eventually brings the toil to an end. Try to imagine the golf of esports and you’ll probably end up with something close to the tranquil plodding of a Farming Simulator match.
One of the first things esports newcomers tend to notice when watching a tournament is how loud the casters are. Commentators in traditional sports may get worked up every once in a while, like during a big play or when something otherwise shocking occurs. In esports, casters seem to excitedly speed up and increase the volume of their speech as a matter of course. In Farming Simulator, that’s not the case. Commentators Joe Barnes and Paul Seal sounded more like they might have been auditioning for NPR than trying to drum up faux-enthusiasm for a new esport. Instead of playing up the sense of urgency while commentating about a losing side, they would say things like, “This is when the bales are gonna start going on big time.” A small tractor getting snagged on the dirt and flipping sideways provoked a casual “Oh no.”
The most tense moment in the finals came when team Trelleborg’s upper barn window appeared to get blocked by a rogue bale. Situated perfectly perpendicular to the opening at the top of the conveyor belt, the commentators speculated that Trelleborg might be resigned to stowing the rest of their haul in the lower door, significantly decreasing their possible points. It would have been poetically tragic for the team that had done almost everything right up until the last few minutes to be foiled by such a small detail.
The Farming Simulator gods had other ideas, however, and whether through glitch magic or some unforeseen physics, the bale eventually dislodged itself, freeing up Trelleborg to bring home the W in the unassuming, workmanlike approach they’d taken to the rest of the match. No fancy maneuvers or trick plays. Sometimes, it’s enough just to get the work done.
Tomorrow, a veteran Twitch streamer is organizing a day called “SlutStream” for women gaming online to band together and deflate the power of the word “slut.”
For over a decade, the word “slut” has been under siege. At annual SlutWalks, thousands march in “sexy” attire to protest the idea that women’s clothing or lifestyles could in any way invite sexual violence. In high schools, teenagers are battling the notion that young women who violate dress codes are distractions or unfit for education. Now, Twitch streamers are launching their own effort to highlight how the word “slut,” or slut-shaming generally, can make it hard to live and work online.
“I’ve had a lot of people ask, ‘Why call it SlutStream? That’s just offensive,’” said Kacey “Kaceytron” Kaviness, a longtime Twitch streamer with 500,000 followers. “The whole idea of calling it ‘SlutStream’ is taking the name back and giving less power to it.”
Kaviness, who has mockingly referred to herself as a “titty streamer,” made a name for herself on Twitch around 2013 trolling and mocking Twitch culture. “People who are upset about female streamers wearing low-cut tops will see [my stream] and say, ‘Oh, yeah, she’s making fun of female streamers acting like sluts for views,’” Kaviness told Kotaku for a 2018 profile. “The way I see it is, it’s making fun of the people who get upset about that.” Eliciting fury and vitriol from self-serious gamers, Kaviness has for years satirized the widespread stereotype that women on Twitch are leveraging their goods for clicks.
Tomorrow, Kaviness and fellow streamer Isabella “IzzyBear” O’Hammon are leading a cadre of Twitch streamers in talking about the word “slut” on the interactive gaming platform. Hosted the same day as World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, #SlutStreamDay is raising money for Freedom 4/24, a nonprofit raising awareness of sex trafficking and exploitation.
“We want any and all streamers who stand against the constant harassment and slut shaming of women to stream dressed in ways that make them feel comfortable and raise awareness for a good cause, Kaviness and O’Hammon wrote on Twitter. Kaviness says harassment on Twitch happens no matter how women dress: “If you’re a female on this website, you’re going to be slutshamed by somebody.”
#SlutStreamDay will take place tomorrow. Over the phone, Kaviness and O’Hammon strategized on what to do if Twitch’s algorithms rain on their parade. Despite streamers’ efforts, it’s ultimately on the company to govern the harassment that takes place on it—an effort that’s can clearly be improved as harassers continually bypass whatever protections are currently in place. O’Hammon says she can’t write the word “slut” in a stream title; Kaviness, who is a Twitch partner, says she can. “Just put a dash where the U is,” O’Hammon suggests.
Every month, EVE Online players like to share their favorite moments with each other. Countless videos are produced by players, showcasing their skills and prowess in battle, the beauty of the EVE game world, propaganda pieces for their groups, and news reports attempting to keep others up to date on the game. Here are a few standout videos from the last month that highlight EVE players’ creativity.
EVE player Samoth Dassie is one of the most successful and prolific pilots of one of EVE’s newest ships, the Ikitursa. The Ikitursa is an expensive ship introduced in the Invasion expansion, and not many players have truly mastered piloting it yet. According to a third party website that attempts to track and display every ship lost in EVE, Samoth is the 11th most successful Ikitursa pilot in the game.
The video, originally posted on Reddit, focuses mainly on flying the Ikitursa alongside a small group of friends. Samoth adds on-screen prompts to help people understand what’s going through his head while he risks this incredibly expensive ship.
Abyssal PVP sites were introduced to EVE last year. They’re meant to serve as proving grounds for players in one-vs-one winner-take-all fights. Once a player chooses to go into the “arena,” they can’t leave until they defeat their opponent. For an additional level of danger, the arena itself is unstable and will collapse if too much time goes by without a winner, destroying both ships.
Player Gustav Mannfred posted this video showcasing his strategy in Abyssal brawls. His ships are configured as slow-moving, heavily-armed and armored behemoths, with weapons systems that can cover the majority of the arena space. Gustav’s on-screen comments during the video explain the tactics he uses during his encounters, as well as tell a story about the people he is fighting.
This video showcases the culture and attitude of one of EVE Online’s new player-friendly corporations, Karmafleet. Because of their policy to accept players regardless of the amount of their experience in the game, they have become one of the largest and most active corporations in the game. Karmafleet veterans take pride in sharing EVE with new players and helping them succeed.
The video, created by Karmafleet pilot, Aidana Forwell, was shared on Reddit with little comment by EVE player Zul Eto, but other players have flooded into the post to share their experience with Karmafleet, and their reactions to the video. As a member of Karmafleet myself, the video does a good job capturing its corporation’s spirit.
Former CSM member Jin’taan has a very unique point of view on EVEOnline, by virtue of being a member of the player-elected council that interfaces directly with developers. In his “Jin Talks” video series he explores topics about the entire game from an overarching perspective.
In this post, Jin’taan goes into great detail about the current perception of a problem with the balance between EVE’s massive capital vessels and the smaller subcapital vessels in the game. The perception is that players in null security space are currently using massive amounts of capital and super capital sized vessels to overwhelm entire fleets of smaller ships, with little to no risk to themselves. The massive vessels are able to completely dominate smaller ships, almost to the point of making them irrelevant. The video and the post that go alongside it have generated a lot of discussion from both players and CCP employees, talking about both the problem, and potential solutions to it.
Podmass_In [Podmass](https://www.avclub.com/c/podmass),_ The A.V. Club _sifts through the ever-expanding world of podcasts and recommends the previous week’s best episodes. Have your own favorite? Let us know in the comments or at [email@example.com](mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org)._
Summer is the perfect time for sitting around the campfire to revisit the nostalgia of ’90s Nickelodeon classic Are You Afraid Of The Dark? Hosted in the heartfelt way that only folks from Springfield, Illinois can pull off, Sara Laurel Goeckner and Jeremy Goeckner, the wife-and-husband team behind Are You Afraid Of The Podcast? present a watch-through that is entertaining for new and old viewers alike. Their spot-on analysis of this bonkers show pokes holes in ridiculous plot points, highlights unfortunate outfits, and even includes interviews with actors from the show’s original run. Although the podcast is billed as biweekly, you might have to wait a bit longer for new episodes since the hosts are deep in summer stock season, but it’s worth the wait. “The Tale Of The Carved Stone,” episode 33 of Are You Afraid of The Dark?, features the “new to town” trope that dumps poor Alison Denny in the middle of nowhere with zero friends. Can Sardo’s Magic Mansion help her find a friendship charm to change her luck? A dissection of the episode’s non-sequitur time-travel plot is the highlight of the episode. [Morgan McNaught]
Joining hosts Dax Shepard and Monica Padman this week is actress/director/screenwriter Lake Bell, who plays Shepard’s wife in the new show Bless This Mess. After pondering the feminine equivalent of a man’s musk, the trio discusses the current art exhibition of Bell’s husband, Scott Campbell, a celebrated tattoo artist whose show literally changes the people who see it—they put their arm through a hole in a wall to allow Campbell to tattoo them, sight unseen. Transitioning to an in-depth discussion of commitment and the nature of marriage, Bell shares her own insights on how a long-term, intimate, and trusting relationship allows humans to evolve. She’s found that spouses challenge each other in different ways and furthers the relationship by having children, a jumping-off point for unpacking the life-and-death stakes navigated by Bell and Campbell during their kids’ home births. As a guest, Bell is candid and personable, going deep into personal conversations as well as offering a compelling perspective on topics like careers, too. [Jose Nateras]
Every album has a story, especially the weird ones. With his new podcast, Bizarre Albums, host Tony Thaxton (Motion City Soundtrack, Feliz Navipod) will celebrate those stories through weekly mini-documentaries that explore the who, how, and why of history’s most infamous audio oddities. His inaugural episode takes us back to the year 1985 when the nation was suffering from a pandemic scientists have come to refer to as Hulkamania. Riding off the soaring popularity of Hulk Hogan and professional wrestling in general, WWF executives leaped at the opportunity to churn out an album of covers, parody songs, and truly twisted originals performed by their very own roster of leotard-clad brawlers. Despite the comedy album facade, the personnel listing on this record is nothing to sneeze at. Noted wrestling fan Cyndi Lauper provides backing vocals on a couple songs and legendary songwriter-producer Jim Steinman even lends a hand with production. In the end, the most bizarre thing about this album is the complete lack of the decade’s biggest star and the impetus for the whole project, Hulk Hogan. [Dan Neilan]
It’s the season-three premiere of everyone’s favorite show about a guy who fell into a portal behind a Burger King with all his podcasting equipment, landing in a magical world where he records a weekly show with Chunt the shapeshifter and Usidore the wizard. This beloved improv series, now in its fifth year, allows every stated addition to the universe to become canon, no matter how wild. This week they are joined by Rodney the Figurehead (Justin McElroy of the greater My Brother, My Brother And Me universe). Rodney wished upon a star and became an animated wooden man with a limited understanding of time and a truly confusing vocabulary; McElroy brings his humor and contagious laugh to the character. As always, the sound editing in this podcast, complete with background chatter and clinking mugs, lets listeners feel like they’re sitting right inside this seaside tavern, eavesdropping on our protagonists. For those who might be intimidated by this show’s back catalog, this season kicks off a new seafaring story arc, making it a great place to start. [Nichole Williams]
As the title implies, this movie podcast isn’t going to be a scholarly deep-dive into the vast, flickering world of cinema—even though it’s slated as the audio companion to CNN’s new show The Movies. Instead, CNN writer Lisa France, CNN reporter Sandra Gonzalez, and professional podcaster Kristen Meinzer record casual conversations about movies, especially popular ones. The opening minutes of this episode feature Gonzalez’s top five audience-friendly desert-island movies (Love Actually! Edward Scissorhands! The Lion King!). This week’s guest is Trace Lysette, a trans actress and activist who discusses being influenced by strong female characters as a kid, how Hollywood needs to start hiring trans women for trans roles, and that time she starred in an action movie that got shelved because her trans identity was revealed. To close things out, Lisa France solemnly reveals her undying love for Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas. Considering that several people on Twitter last week—of all genders—dropped enough divisive takes on Scorsese to make him a trending topic, it’s like France knew she had to get on the mic and speak on behalf of all her Scorsese-loving sisters. [Craig D. Lindsey]
A cop records himself trying to coax a confession out of a wounded bank robber he’s carrying downhill in the cold open of this intimate, documentary-style show. Despite its name, Pretend profiles true events, with special focus on imposters. It’s not entirely clear what George Wayne Smith was pretending to be, unless it was a criminal mastermind. That he had a gifted mind and conditioned body was a given, but prior to May 8, 1980, Smith had nothing in his history to suggest what he was about to do. His military training and born-again-Christian indoctrination combined with a lifelong sense of superiority led him to subscribe to a paranoid fantasy of the world ending in 1981, and for whatever reason, he needed a lot of money before that happened. His bank robbery plan was one part too intricate, two parts overkill. Before it was all over, Smith and three accomplices used their considerable firepower to shoot up 33 cop cars and a helicopter. Host Javier Leiva wisely gets out of the way and lets author Peter Houlahan (who wrote <a rel="nofollow" data-amazonasin="B07GS7J2Z3" data-amazonsubtag="[t|link[p|1836724687[a|B07GS7J2Z3[au|5876237249237154266[b|avclub[lt|text" onclick="window.ga('send', 'event', 'Commerce', 'avclub – A meeting of the (twisted) minds: The directors of The Witch and Hereditary talk horror on The A24 Podcast‘, ‘B07GS7J2Z3’);window.ga(‘unique.send’, ‘event’, ‘Commerce’, ‘avclub – A meeting of the (twisted) minds: The directors of The Witch and Hereditary talk horror on The A24 Podcast‘, ‘B07GS7J2Z3’);” data-amazontag=”kinjaavclub-20″ href=”https://www.amazon.com/Norco-80-Spectacular-Robbery-American-ebook/dp/B07GS7J2Z3?tag=kinjaavclub-20&ascsubtag=e00342e7b8d4cb881d7a561959c2265326454ebe”>the definitive account of the robbery) color the scenes with his exacting knowledge of the case. [Zach Brooke]
It’s almost impossible to talk about horror movies of the last decade without mentioning Robert Eggers’ hyper-superstitious period piece The Witch or Ari Aster’s dread-ridden family drama Hereditary. The two films sparked a conversation around the massive divide between critics and audiences, yet the two films are undoubtedly some of distributor A24’s star children. This year already saw the release of Aster’s latest film, Midsommar, and later in 2019, A24 will release Eggers’ The Lighthouse. The newest episode of The A24 Podcast places microphones in front of the two visionaries to discuss some of their past work and their newest films, sans spoilers. The two directors, who are also friends, nerd out at almost a rapid-fire pace, jumping to topics like CinemaScore, Carrie, the importance of watching films more than once, and directors Paul Thomas Anderson, Stanley Kubrick, and Andrei Tarkovsky, but mostly Ingmar Bergman. Film buffs, get ready to take notes. [Kevin Cortez]
Hosted by Marin Buljan, this fictional documentary podcast follows the trial that will determine whether women are allowed to play in the top male soccer league at East Keilor High School. Focusing on the push and pull between men and women and their relationships with sports, the podcast is framed by Marin’s commentary of soccer games, news clips, and interviews with players, their coach, and others. “Retaliation” picks up after Alice, who spearheaded the change and was the first (and for a while, the only) woman to join the team, convinces her friend Grace to join and sees them through their first match, when the boys on the team structure a subtle but devastating retaliation. The games are cleverly time-lapsed, with Marin describing the highlights and interacting with their coach as his anger builds toward his team every time they ignore his instruction. The Graduate’s Cup unabashedly points out how an administration can (and does) turn their backs on the people they’re supposed to be supporting. [Elena Fernández Collins]
Host Fran Tirado kicks off this new weekly series with a discussion of all things ballroom, the competitive performance and pageantry originating in queer and trans communities of color. Out magazine senior editor and ballroom scholar Mikelle Street joins Tirado for a look back at the origins of voguing and ballroom dating back to the 1920s, as well as major moments in pop culture visibility long before RuPaul’s Drag Race launched ballroom into mainstream consciousness. Now, ballroom culture and language is everywhere: “It has seeped into every nook and cranny of the mainstream in a way that I personally have never seen before,” Tirado says. Terms like “reading,” “kiki,” and other catch phrases popularized on Drag Race all have roots in ballroom, but correct usage and exact definitions can sometimes get lost in translation (fans of the show might be surprised to learn that a “death drop” is actually called a “dip”). Tirado concludes with “Week In Gay” (WIG), a light news recap segment. [Sofia Barrett-Ibarria]
Kotaku Game DiaryDaily thoughts from a Kotaku staffer about a game we’re playing.
The developers of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey have been moving the game’s finish line farther out since October of last year, but I think I’m finally about to catch it. This sums up my gaming experience these days, perpetually racing toward a moving goal.
At launch Odyssey was already a marathon, a game with not one but three main quests as well as dozens of sidequests. I’d heard that it was already a 100-hour game. I wouldn’t know, because before I could finish even one of the game’s main quests, its developers were already adding more adventures.
Then came the flow of free “Lost Tales Of Greece” updates, each of which added a new questline consisting of five or so new missions. There have been 10 so far. I’ve played through one that involved two brothers who were both mourning their dad and also both trying to sleep with my character. I’ve got one going now in which I’m trying to track down the missing wife of my top adviser. Each Lost Tales questline I’ve played has taken me an hour or two, and I think I have seven to go.
In between those Lost Tales, Ubisoft has released the game’s paid episodic expansions, three chapters apiece for two big story arcs. I’ve played all of those, with each chapter taking me about 10 hours to play through. I’ve liked the middle episodes for both arcs the most, for what that’s worth.
All of this had made Odyssey a year-long proposition, a game I’ve played in bursts at night after my kids go to bed and between other games I’m playing for fun or review. I’ve liked most of what I’ve played, but I’ve also felt some weariness of never being able to put the game behind me. I know it’s the reason I’ve not been able to make time to finish the purportedly massive Red Dead Redemption 2 (I’m about 20 hours into that), nor have I found the time to get back into Destiny 2 for the same reason. It’s not just about the time commitment. I could really use the 117.3 GB that Odyssey occupies on my PS4 back. I could probably also just use some distance from the game.
I like it, but it’s made me nostalgic for older Assassin’s Creed games, including ACIII, which was released as part of the Odyssey’s season pass. I’ve had no time to dig back into it, though. Just one AC game at a time, right?
Odyssey has so far refused to end. It keeps getting longer and keeps surprising me. Just the other day I decided to finish a quest in the game’s Lakonia region that involved tracking down someone’s lost sons. Once I managed that, their mother then told me about four women in the region who also need help. That’s four more quests for me to now do!
Despite all this, I’ve never seriously considered just dropping the game. I like it too much, though I did become tired of its combat for a spell. Then its paid expansions started adding new combat moves to make fighting fun again. I have at least decided that I don’t need to clear every enemy base in the game. Not this time.
For years, I’ve written reflectively about Assassin’s Creed games once I’ve finished them. The length of my time with each now seems almost cute. In 2012, I reviewed Assassin’s Creed III after finishing its story in just under 21 hours, then wrote several months later about spending “nine more surprising hours” checking out the game’s nooks and crannies months after release. In 2013, I finished Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag in about 28 hours, then went back and played it for 23 more. In 2015, I returned to the prior year’s Assassin’s Creed Rogueto finish that play clock at a total of 35 hours. Last year, after I finished its downloadable expansions, raided every one of its enemy bases and opened every one of its treasure chests, I tallied my Assassin’s Creed Origins play time at what I thought was an incredible 100 hours.
My play clock for Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is at 149 hours, 9 minutes, and 45 seconds. My quest log shows I have 28 active, unfinished quests. My map shows there are 10 more I haven’t even started, many of which may well trigger new quests to pop up on the map. Plus there are still one or two more Lost Tales Of Greece coming.
I will reach the end. I’ve had a fun journey. But when I do reach that ending, I’ll be ready for a break. With a double-length Assassin’s Creed nearly done, I’m fine with 2019 being a new Assassin’s Creed skip year. And when the series comes back, presumably in 2020, if they want to make the next game a tad shorter, I won’t complain.
And yet, in the Access video below, the interviewer refuses to believe that Carrey will not be lending his rubber-faced charms to Sonic himself.
The first mistake comes early. The interviewer has crossed some wires and asks Carrey what it was like to be “the only animated character” in the otherwise live-action movie.
“Well…y’know, I’m totally live-action in this,” Carrey replies. “It’s just acting. It’s just fun.”
Having gracefully side-stepped the mistake, he continues talking about what it was like to be Dr. Robotnik—the non-computer animated character he plays in the movie.
“So, are you wearing some sort of special suit?” she asks next. “Or how does it work…once they turn you into the animated Sonic?”
“Well, I’m not animated at all. My character’s Robotnik so…I don’t do that,” Carrey replies, still smiling warmly and likely hoping to get things back on track.
“When I played Sonic growing up, he doesn’t really have a voice,” the interviewer continues, refusing to take a hint. “So, we’re going to really get to know him through you. What can we expect and what’s the story going to be like?”
“You can expect me eventually, as Robotnik, to get that little blue boob,” Carrey answers, going through another question where he makes very clear that he will be playing Robotnik, not Sonic.
Though the clip is misleadingly titled “Jim Carrey Goes Off The Rails In This Hilarious Interview!,” the whole thing is Carrey trying his very best to stay on the rails, despite being given every opportunity to fuck with his interviewer. Maybe he just felt like being nice, doing his best to keep the talk rolling without embarrassing the reporter. Or maybe he’s saving his energy for better targets—like the Trump administration and Mussolini’s granddaughter.