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Deep underground, beneath an alligator infested lake sits State-Lines HQ. An old Soviet era bunker abandoned when ushrior owner, Vladimir Rapunksky, found out James Bond was fictional. A super villain without a super spy depresses everyone. Now repurposed by the hive mind known as State-Lines to report on pop culture and sports (and other stuff too). The first order of business, with help of Reapunksky’s high tech reel to reel super computer called DoomBringerisky 2.0, was to find the most underrated things. These are the outcomes of 1980’s best tech and current times most okay-est writers.

Without further ado, we present, the most underrated things.

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The Actual World – Jonas Arca, Host of Social Media Offline

How about unplugging from technology in exchange for real connection and human interaction?  Nostalgia for the past and the “get off my lawn” mentality are some of the last things I ever wanted to be associated with, but I think there is something to be said about the incessant engagement with our smart phones and tablets.  There seems to be a real consensus that in some ways it is not good for us; that we are losing something as a society by engaging less with our surroundings in exchange for the cyber realm.  Almost anyone that talks about the subject tends to hedge toward that conclusion, even if they are guilty of it themselves.  Nobody wants to believe they are the one staring at their phone during dinner.

In the coming years there is certain to be research and studies, based on empirical data being collected right now, that will better reflect the harm (or not) we may be doing to ourselves.  As I sip my soda, I wonder whether it will affect our overall behavior.

The Dan Patrick Show – David Staples

In a world of narcissistic blowhards on ESPN and their pathetic imitators on every other sports channel, Dan Patrick does not get nearly the due that he deserves.  In recent months, we have seen massive coverage of Bill Simmons, Skip Bayless, Stephen A Smith, Colin Cowherd, and Keith Olberman and their carousel of idiocy – personal attacks, insensitive comments, blatant mistruths, and egomaniacal self aggrandizement.  All the while, Dan Patrick just continued to display high standards of true journalism mixed with the right amount of entertainment.
For those who remember The Big Show on ESPN with Patrick and Olberman, Dan was the straight man and Keith was the brainy zany nut.  So it may give a false impression that Dan Patrick is too straight-laced to be fun-loving.  But that is not true.  Dan walks the line between professional sports journalist and goofy uncle better than anyone I can remember.  Listening or watching his morning talk show, I am always taken by how easily everything comes to him.  Whether it is a hard-hitting Lance Armstrong interview or a silly Will Ferrell segment, Patrick is always in control and comfortable and in his element.
I think the ease with which Dan Patrick carries himself is why he is so easily overlooked.  He isn’t flashy; he is just good.  And he is respected by the people who count: athletes, actors, executives.  He gets his point across without pitching a hissy fit or bloviating loudly about it.  In addition, he shares credit.  He is constantly talking about how important the Danettes (his four co-workers) are to his success. In James Andrew Miller’s ESPN book, Patrick was just about the only person to come out looking good.  He is a throwback to classy journalism, while still being modern and entertaining.  Which, naturally, means he will never get the appreciation he deserves.

 

The Brilliance of Mark Duplass – Sarah Stevens

 

I’m embarrassed to say I first became familiar with Mark Duplass from his small role in The Mindy Project. I had never even seen The League, which basically makes me un-American. Some time well into Mindy’s first season, due to divine intervention, I stumbled upon Safety Not Guaranteed. This movie pushed me into both my writing career and my stalking of all things Duplass.

Cyrus, Creep, The One I Love, Jeff, Who Lives at Home- all Duplass works of human exploration. Most of the time they end gracefully, while also giving you no answers, forcing you to think. Why are we the way we are? What makes someone crazy? Is everyone a little bad, a little good, a little bored? Duplass covers all genres and emotions, creating different conversations with each project. He works off of very little script, which give his movies an organic feel. Even when subtle elements of sci-fi are added, he still manages to create pieces that are so…relatable. If his goal is to make his viewers explore what it is to be a human being, he is doing a damn good job. Duplass forever.

The New Testament – Mark Allen

It seems the most hateful fans and hateful critics of Christianity only thought to commit The Old Testament to memory. The “Love thy neighbor as yourself” message of The New Testament is often sadly absent from the public discourse on the more aggressive ends of the spectrum. And while either end will gladly name me a hypocrite (and given the tendencies of our species, they’d likely be correct), I’m still generally willing to piss off assholes, especially both breeds of intolerance.

Setting aside the divinity of Christ (if only for the sake of not fanning the hotter flames of both religious and anti-religious rhetoric), the remaining fundamental messages of The New Testament are “Love”, “Forgiveness”, and “Redemption”. Especially so in the case of “Love”.

These are to be available to all. Prostitutes. Thieves. Even tax collectors. And if showing love (Fraternal or platonic, folks. Don’t whip out your junk.) to the IRS employee that’s auditing you is not divine, I don’t know what is.

Your Fathers, Where Are They? And The Prophets, Do They Live Forever? – Julien Llerena

Why? Why do you have that job? Why do you anger easily? Why do you have trouble making friends? Why does it feel like your fault? Why can’t you succeed? Why is the world the way it is?Answers rarely sprout from these questions. They stay in your head as mysteries. Your Fathers, Where are They? And the Prophets, Do They Live Forever? by Dave Eggers plays as wish fulfillment. What if people do have those answers? What if you just need chloroform and tasers to get it?

Reviewers critiqued the novel for it’s lack of depth and subtly. As with all his work, Eggers is unapologetically political in a ham fisted way. I’m looking at you fracking drama Promised Land. His bibliography can teeter towards lecture. Yet Your Fathers… never felt like a drunken rant. Through naturalistic and witty writing, Eggers built a thought experiment that transcends it’s shortcomings. The political wrapped with the personal created something new and a lot of fun.

Told exclusively in dialogue, Your Fathers follows Thomas as he kidnaps different people throughout his life. An ex-classmate/astronaut starts a daisy chain of hostages that includes a teacher and his own mother. In a tight 212 pages, Thomas jettisons his weaknesses on his captives. He believes himself a victim of poor treatment by the world. The reader never sympathizes with the protagonist. Thomas is whiny, unlikeable, and riddled with white entitlement. Eggers’ decision to keep Thomas unlikable helps each integration feel equal with neither party having the moral high ground. Thomas is a asshole, but one that feels very similar. He just wants to know the universal question, “Why am I the way I am?”

Taylor Kitsch – David Hennenhoefer

Last year on a random summer night, I was scrolling through HBO Go trying to find something to watch and realized I hadn’t gotten to see The Normal Heart. The film is stacked with film stars like Julia Roberts and Mark Ruffalo. It covers the stigma the gay population faced regarding HIV and AIDS. The Normal Heart also features one of Hollywood’s most underrated talents in Taylor Kitsch. Kitsch delivers one of the film’s most heart wrenching scenes as he describes the passing of his boyfriend on trip to see his mother before his death. He stands out in role that is braver then his calling card of Friday Night Nights football hero Tim Riggins.

Kitsch has versatility and can brood on the level of Ryan Gosling. This is on display in the current season of True Detective. Kitsch has rounded out a layered character in the series. Something his more A-list co-stars have failed to measure up to. Kitsch’s problem is that he starred in the wrong blockbusters of Battlefield and John Carter. Kitsch had a slight rebound as an undercard to Mark Wahlberg in Lone Survivor. His television work has been outstanding, and just needs the film presence to match. I suggest taking the late Paul Walker’s place in the Fast and the Furious franchise (which out of nowhere got really fun over the last three films), or something with the same feel as the impending Suicide Squad film.

Teaser Trailers – Jarrett Haas

 

“The mind, left to itself, is a binary system.  It understands everything by comparing it to something else.”  Richard Rohr, from “You Made It Weird with Pete Holmes“.
Movie trailers suck.  I don’t mean every trailer…  Ok, I mean every trailer.  When is the last time you watched a trailer and DIDN’T say to your buddy “They just revealed the whole plot!?”  I’m looking at you, new, confusing Terminator (John Connor is a robot!?!?)  And you Oblivion (Morgan Freeman is one of the guys in disguise down on planet Earth!?).  It’s not just limited to Sci-fi.  Check out the trailer for Cast Away which absolutely reveals the whole entire plot!  So, back to my Richard Rohr quote.  We KNOW that trailers suck, so, compared to trailers, TEASERS are the best!
What is a teaser?  They are almost always the first trailer released for a film.  They are usually around 90 seconds in length.  The film’s concept or tone are usually the selling pouts, and best of all, almost NO ACTUAL PLOT is shown.  I have compiled a list of some of my favorite teasers.  Contrast them with the trailers shown above and you’ll get my point.  We don’t need plot ruining trailers.  Down with trailers!  Up with teasers!  #DownWithTrailers

 

Holding Your Applause Until The End – Steve Ross

Imagine someone admirable and highly respected about to address an audience. The audience is eager to hear what this person has to say, as they have arrived early and made sure to look their best. Even donned their favorite outfit and wrangled that three-inch eyebrow back into place so as not to look like a member of the House of Mogh.

The room is buzzing with anticipation as the moment has finally come. The one they have prepared for steps to the podium and looks out over the sea of eager faces.

The speaker begins, “Ladies and gentlemen, as you know, my dear mother has been in a battle with a terminal condition for the past several years. She has followed her doctor’s advice and changed her diet. Even found time to take a few walks last month as the temperatures were ideal for a stroll through the neighborhood. She and her service dog have made a lot of new friends as they took their time, enjoying the breeze and the fresh air of the early evening. She was able to do this because that tricky disease, the one that has taken so many lives before their rightful time, went into remission. Yes, as of 25 days ago, she was as normal as a woman of her age could be.”

One member of the audience cannot hold back any longer and shouts “Woo! That is so amazing!” and breaks into applause. Not wanting to miss out on this chance, the rest of the room follows and there is much whooping and smiling and waving as they all share in this wonderful turn of events. The revelry continues for several minutes until the audience composes itself and turns its attention once again to the speaker.

The speakers continues, “Which is why it hurts so much for me to tell you that last night as she was enjoying her walk, she and her service dog were trampled to death by a herd of buffalo.”

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State-Lines HQ’s faulty wiring, 75% constructed with gum wrappers, short circuited DoomBringerisky 2.0. It’s child swimming pool sized macrochip went up in smoke. Until further repairs, the list above will suffice as the most underrated things. Please send electronic comment for suggestions or questions for DoomBringer 2.0 and the hive mind to ponder.

 

 

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