The Rundown is a weekly column that highlights some of the biggest, weirdest, and most notable events of the week in entertainment. The number of items could vary, as could the subject matter. It will not always make a ton of sense. Some items might not even be about entertainment, to be honest, or from this week. The important thing is that it’s Friday, and we are here to have some fun.
ITEM NUMBER ONE — You’re looking for something to watch anyway
This is an excellent time to watch (or re-watch) Watchmen. To be fair, it’s kind of always a good time to watch Watchmen. What a terrific season of television that was. I’m not even a big comics guy. I’ve never read the original text the show was based on. I haven’t even seen the Watchmen movie. But man, did I ever enjoy that series. I would recommend it to anyone, any time, even if conditions in the real world weren’t making it extremely relevant, again, for like the third or fourth time since it aired, which was somehow less than a year ago.
But conditions in the real world are making it relevant. Again. The series takes a hard look at policing and race and gets to some interesting truths by addressing everything from an angle instead of head-on. There are messages about vigilante justice and government ineptitude and real-life historical events that some viewers might have just been learning about for the first time, and yes, this is a reference to the Black Wall Street massacre in Tulsa that opens the series, which was not entirely on my radar before the show even though I took multiple American history classes in college and paid attention in most of them. I’m not proud of this, but the educational system in the country should be substantially less proud.
To be clear, the show is also a blast. Just a joy to watch all the way through, with its serious messages occasionally punctuated with the silliest things you’ve ever seen, the proverbial spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down. Jeremy Irons plays a madman on a country estate in the cosmos and chews up all the scenery out there in the best way possible. James Wolk, Bob Benson from Mad Men, uses the phrase “squid pro quo” in a context that both makes sense and is hilarious. Regina King plays a cop who is uncovering the corruption and evil plots and she drops about five or six emmeffers with such force and passion that it feels like maybe we should make a rule that she’s the only one allowed to say it.
It’s a good show! And again, this is a great time to watch it, whether it’s your first time through or your second or third. It’s a shame that it keeps being relevant like this, in a few ways, and if you see me on the street this weekend I will happily elaborate on my position that millions of tiny squid raining from the heavens out of nowhere is kind of like a global pandemic, but if we’re going to live through it over and over we might as well take our silver linings where we can get them.
For me, that means I get to write about Watchmen again. For you, it means you might get introduced to — or reacquainted with — the one and only Lube Man.
It’s not going to solve anything, not on its own. But does serve the dual purpose of facing some ugly issues with an interesting perspective and being an entertaining way to spend 8-10 hours, and I don’t know if you can ask for much more than that out of a television show. Watch Watchmen. Or rewatch Watchmen. Or watch and then rewatch Watchmen. Tell other people to do it, too. Don’t tell them about Lube Man, though. Let them discover that on their own.
ITEM NUMBER TWO — Bitcoin entrepreneur and former Mighty Ducks child actor Brock Pierce is running for President and has been endorsed by Bitcoin entrepreneur and R&B singer Akon, who is also building a $6 billion Bitcoin-funded city he named after himself
There’s a lot going on here. I can’t wait to tell you about some of it. But we need a foundation first, a place to build from. Let’s start with the basics. Brock Pierce is a former child actor who played the young Gordon Bombay in the flashback scenes of the Mighty Ducks movies. He is now an adult who identifies as a tech entrepreneur and “Bitcoin billionaire,” which is kind of funny just in general, but specifically when you Google him and see the hats he chooses to wear and the various characters with whom he chooses to associate himself. He got married in a unicorn-themed wedding at Burning Man and that is maybe the fourth weirdest thing you can discover about him in under 10 minutes of Googling.
Anyway, he’s running for president. Sure. Welcome to the future. His platform appears to be, and I’m admittedly generalizing a very little bit here, “because Bitcoin,” which is why it probably makes sense that he was endorsed by fellow Bitcoin entrepreneur Akon, the R&B singer best known for songs like “Locked Up” and “Smack That,” and who is also, according to news dot Bitcoin dot com, Pierce’s new campaign manager.
“Not only is Akon one of the most well-known artists globally, he is a successful global businessman and philanthropist,” Pierce, who announced his candidacy in July, said in a statement quoted by Cheddar. “I started my life as an artist so I have the utmost respect for culture and the arts — without it we are lost. His aspirations to be in politics, to be in civil service, and what he has accomplished in Africa and beyond will be valuable for our platform on a regional, national, and world-wide level.”
This story is already fabulous. Just so many things happening that don’t make sense on their own, let alone rolled up into one big chaotic ball with all the other things that are happening. I love it. And it brings me a great deal of pleasure to inform you that it gets even better. A few paragraphs lower in that news dot Bitcoin dot com story, this happens.
Pierce was also an inspiration for Akon to create his own cryptocurrency called akoin. This cryptocurrency will be used in Akon City, the futuristic city Akon is building in his home country of Senegal, Africa. Phase one of Akon City is expected to be completed by 2023 and the entire city is expected to be completed in 2029. Phase one will include a 5,000-bed hospital, homes, hotels, schools, police and fire stations, an airstrip, a mall, a waste facility, a solar power plant, and all the other hallmarks of modern-day cities.
Akon is helping a kid from Mighty Ducks run for president while building a $6 billion city called Akon City that he intends to bankroll with his own personal cryptocurrency, which is called akoin. This is the only political story I care about now.
ITEM NUMBER THREE — Finally, content for me
This is a video of Adam Sandler trying to teach his beloved dog Meatball to skateboard and Meatball failing in just the most charming ways possible, over and over, as Sandler cheers him on. It is so refreshing that I think it has hydrated my entire soul. I wish it lasted a full hour. I hope someone greenlights it as an entire show. The Meatball Show featuring Adam Sandler. I would watch and recap weekly.
Adam Sandler gets a lot of grief online, some of it justified, for making a bunch of movies that appear to be more “excuses to go to Hawaii with his friends” than they “artistic endeavors.” Which, fine, yes, sure. But he also appears to be just about the most normal, well-adjusted very famous person in Hollywood, and everyone who works with him comes back raving about what a sweetheart he is. He keeps his buddies employed and eating. He plays with his dog. He wears sweatpants and basketball shorts 350 days a year. Once a decade he tries really hard and reminds everyone he’s insanely talented. It’s a pretty good life. Maybe the Sandman has things figured out pretty well.
This tweet is still powerfully funny, though.
Adam Sandler Wears Golf Muumuu to Premiere of New Film 'Fart Vacation' pic.twitter.com/QHZDArGn0D
— Matt Ufford (@mattufford) June 22, 2015
It says a lot about where my brain is at after six months of quarantine, but I… I would watch Fart Vacation? Yes. Yes, I would.
ITEM NUMBER FOUR — I will watch this movie
Two things worth noting right off the top:
- This is the video for “Gravel Pit” by Wu-Tang Clan, and I must insist you watch it before you continue reading, only because it is completely nuts and ends with a Tyrannosaurus rex eating an evil ninja, which is the second most Wu-Tang thing in the video, just behind Ghostface wearing head-to-toe white fur in a damn prehistoric rock quarry
- It is relevant here and now because RZA is working on a movie about the time Pharmabro Martin Shkreli paid $2 million to purchase the only copy of a Wu-Tang album.
Tell me everything, Collider.
[Brittany Runs a Marathon helmer Paul Downs] Colaizzo has already done his own pass on the script, which follows the auction for Wu-Tang Clan’s seventh studio album and its aftermath. Once Upon a Time in Shaolin was recorded in secret over a period of six years, and a single two-CD copy was pressed in 2014. It was stored in a secure vault in Morocco before selling to Shkreli for a reported $2 million the following year. In March 2018, a federal court seized control of the album following Shkreli’s conviction for securities fraud, which required him to forfeit millions of dollars in various assets.
I will, of course, watch this movie. As soon as it is made available to me. Earlier, if we want to break in and steal the completed copy from the studio before it hits theaters, which conveniently brings us to one of the best tweets ever written: the fake, Photoshop-produced clause in the contract that tricked half the world into thinking the Wu-Tang Clan was going to heist their record back, which is now what I want this movie to be about.
Forget the $2M, this is easily the most interesting part of the whole deal between Wu-Tang and Martin Shkreli. pic.twitter.com/5nSshXhjnJ
— Rob Wesley (@eastwes) December 9, 2015
It’s kind of a bummer that the tweet is fake. Luckily, that bummer is softened a bit by this very real excerpt from the jury selection process at Shkreli’s trial. Please go read the whole thing, only after you’ve watched the “Gravel Pit” video, but start with this bit, which gets more beautiful with every sentence.
JUROR NO. 77: You’d have to convince me he was innocent rather than guilty.
THE COURT: I will excuse this juror. Hello, Juror Number 125.
JUROR NO. 125: I’ve read extensively about Martin’s shameful past and his ripping off sick people and it hits close to me. I have a mother with epilepsy, a grandmother with Alzheimer’s, and a brother with multiple sclerosis. I think somebody that’s dealt in those things deserves to go to jail.
THE COURT: Just to be clear, he’s not being charged with anything relating to the pricing of pharmaceuticals.
JUROR NO. 125: I understand that, but I already sense the man is guilty.
THE COURT: Well, I’m going to excuse you. Juror Number 144, tell us what you have heard.
JUROR NO. 144: I heard through the news of how the defendant changed the price of a pill by up-selling it. I heard he bought an album from the Wu-Tang Clan for a million dollars.
THE COURT: The question is, have you heard anything that would affect your ability to decide this case with an open mind. Can you do that?
JUROR NO. 144: I don’t think I can because he kind of looks like a dick.
THE COURT: You are Juror Number 144 and we will excuse you. Come forward, Juror Number 155.
JUROR NO. 155: I have read a lot of articles about the case. I think he is as guilty as they come.
THE COURT: Then I will excuse you from this case. Juror Number 10, please come forward.
JUROR NO. 10: The only thing I’d be impartial about is what prison this guy goes to.
I want to buy Juror 144 a lobster dinner.
ITEM NUMBER FIVE — Go sit under a tree and read a book this weekend
I’ve said it many times but I’ll say it again here: There is a lot going on right now. Too much. Look at this week alone: two hurricanes in the Gulf, wildfires in California, ongoing pandemic, increasingly ugly political campaigns, and massive unrest and uncertainty over the intersection of police and race, the last of which resulted in multiple NBA teams taking part in a wildcat strike during the NBA Playoffs. Any single one of those things is a lot, and the crazy thing is that the relentless chaos of the last six months has made a lot of us almost numb to the importance of them. Like, I know they’re important, very much, and I’m trying to be sure I keep telling myself that, but also, it’s kind of like we’ve all been living inside a rave since March — NEON LIGHTS! THUMPING MUSIC! IS THAT GUY PUKING INTO A SHOE? THUNKTHUNKBEEPTHUNK! — and any new stimuli are just getting swallowed up in the noise. Like tossing a bucket of water into the ocean.
It is understandable if you are very fried and very on edge, even if sometimes it doesn’t feel like it. My recommendation is for you to log the hell off and go sit under a tree with a book for a while this weekend. I don’t know where you live but I live in Eastern Pennsylvania and Sunday looks gorgeous. I’m going to grab an iced tea as big as my head and go sit in a park for like three hours with some beachy crime novel — I’ve been reading Donald Westlake’s Dortmunder series lately, which is all about a group of doofus criminals trying to steal stuff and watching their plan go to hell in a parade of goofs misadventure, and is very on-brand for me — and try to turn the noise in my head down to a low hum for a little.
Please consider doing the same, or something similar. This can’t be healthy for our brains, all of… everything. There’s a lot of stuff still worth addressing and stuff that badly needs dealing with, but I worry a lot of us are thisclose to becoming one of those lunatics you see online who are screaming at no one in particular in the produce section of a grocery store. Go outside. Put your phone in your pocket and leave it there. Drink some iced tea. Just for a little. Come back fresh and ready on Monday.
If you have questions about television, movies, food, local news, weather, or whatever you want, shoot them to me on Twitter or at firstname.lastname@example.org (put “RUNDOWN” in the subject line). I am the first writer to ever answer reader mail in a column. Do not look up this last part.
I remember seeing your batman/joker theory before and overthinking this then, but you reupped it so I figured I should ask you:
Which actor most defies your theory; is both a Batman AND a Joker, could pull off playing both characters, and why haven’t they yet come up with a movie where the same actor played both? I’d watch that movie twice.
I’m pretty sure it’s Rob Lowe. But I’ll hang up and listen to your thoughts.
Don is referring to this article from earlier in the week, in which I expanded on my long-held theory that every actor is either a Batman or a Joker. And he touches on something I forgot to mention in there. So it’s a very helpful email.
A Joker can play Batman, but a Batman can’t play Joker. Look at the actors I classified as Batmen: Will Smith, Chris Evans, Michael B. Jordan. Try to picture them as the Joker. Doesn’t work. But now look at the actors I identified as Jokers: Shia LeBeouf, Lakeith Stanfield, Tilda Swinton. They would be fascinating Batmen. I know this to be true because Val Kilmer and Michael Keaton have both played Batman in believable ways despite being Jokers deep in their soul. I can’t explain it beyond that. You’re either with me or you’re not. Either way is fine.
To answer the final question: It’s Jake Gyllenhaal. He has the Batman look and ability to play reserved characters, but is also a complete lunatic. I mean…
There is no doubt in my mind about this.
AND NOW, THE NEWS
A Fresno man is in custody, accused of taking part in an elaborate scheme that involved the theft of $300,000 in pistachios from a Terra Bella farm and trying to sell them in Madera, the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office reported Wednesday.
Detectives say that Bhavna Singh Sekon, 23, was part of a scheme that involved stealing the identity of a legitimate trucking company and taking possession of two tractor-trailer loads of pistachios valued at nearly $300,000.
WHAT WAS HE GOING TO DO WITH $300,000 WORTH OF PISTACHIOS
Tulare County detectives were called Aug. 14 to Setten Pistachio in Terra Bella, where they learned of the theft. Instead of delivering the nuts, the thieves took them to an abandoned property in Selma, where they were repackaged, and sold to an unwitting buyer in Madera County, said sheriff’s spokeswoman Ashley Schwarm.
This is… this is diabolical. The evidence would all just get eaten. And it’s all profit. The biggest hassle would be packaging all those pistachios. That seems like a lot of work. But still. Kind of a genius plan.
Which raises the question: How did these pistachio thieves get caught? It seems like they thought of everything.
The plan went bad because the trailers were equipped with GPS tracking devices, leading to the recovery of the pistachios and the trailers.
I like to picture one guy named like Larry or Fred watching a screen with the truck’s location on it, like a cross between old-timey military radar and how you can see your Uber moving on the little map on your phone, and as it goes off course he turns around to face his supervisor — also named Larry or Fred, but he has a cigar — and says “Sir… I think we have a problem.”
I would watch this movie, too.