Tribute to Food Network Star’s Matthew

The 13th Season of Food Network Star crowns its next winner this Sunday night but it ended the journey early for one particular contestant last night. Matthew Grunwald, AKA the ever persistent and highly divisive 20 something that haunts the Food Network studio, was cut right near the end. The prospect of filming a TV pilot was ripped right out of his fingers.

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But to fully understand how and why this elimination was one that shocked me like few reality TV eliminations have before we have to go back to the summer of 2015 when Matthew Grunwald made his first appearance on Food Network Star season 11. As an abrasive and rude early 20 something who frequently belittled the competition, Matthew seemed like he was going torment the rest of the competitors all season long. However his first elimination was just as a shock when regular judge Giada decided at last minute to switch her vote and kick Matthew off after noticing how smug and in delight he was to see another contestant to go.

Since then Matthew spent the last 2 years trying to crawl his way back through the spin off Comeback Kitchen, in which past contestant fight it out to continue the bigger fight to get their own TV show.  In his first appearance of the show he lost to eventual season 12 loser Martita Jara. He managed to come out victorious in his second go around on Comeback Kitchen, honing in his presentation skills and trying to appear as likeable as he can to America. For the majority of the current season of Food Network Star Matthew has been consistently been providing quality food and delivering high energy in his presentations.  At times his high octane energy made him look forced and even desperate, but his passion and ambition were undeniable. Ultimately judges Bobby and Giada sent him home for lacking storytelling abilities and not having the life experiences to have his meals mean something. So just like that Matthew’s dreams of having his own show on Food Network were set aflame.

It felt very odd and a little sad seeing a clearly heartbroken Matthew give his tearful goodbyes after seeing him spend years attempting to get his own show. As a viewer of the Food Network, growth was clearly seen from this end and a win for Matthew seemed all but assured throughout the season. It seemed like the years and endless effort Matthew put into Food Network didn’t pan out the way many thought it would.

In ways I can relate to Matthew for being someone very young, very ambitious, and a bit entitled here and there. Someone blindsided so much by their failure, a failure that he didn’t believe his work was deserving of, that it left him more emotional than one would normally like to get. While Matthew wasn’t the most likable person all the time, he felt sincere with his intentions and was never afraid to voice his opinions. These are aspects that I can relate to and so it was disappointing to see someone I personally relate to lose so close to the finish line. Either way Matthew’s 2 year Food Network arc has come to end and while it’s not the ending I would have wanted, it was certainly something to witness.

Ascendent Cancelled: Reaction to a Next Level YA Film Failure

 

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The tagline sure was right.

Recent reports have stated that the conclusion of Shailene Woodley’s YA action-adventure film franchise will NOT be recieving a theatrical release and instead will be shipped to the land of TV movies, with hopes of launching a TV show afterwards. In reading this news I found my sense of embarrassment for the franchise (which first popped up as soon as I first saw Insurgent in its opening weekend) expand to lengths that I never would have suspected when I first saw the first film back in 2014.

This announcement does make sense to me since the latest film in the franchise, The Divergent Series: Allegiant, flopped hard making only 179 million off of a budget north of 100 million and was also eating alive by critics and audiences.  However seeing it fall like this is even worse than if Divergent had flopped. The fact that audiences turned their backs on the films as they got worse was sad to see as a fan of Shailene Woodley. She is a great actress who never phoned it in with these films, despite the films themselves never being sure of what they wanted to be. She always gave them her all and I thought she did a stellar job in making the films as watchable as they possibly could be with what was done to them. Unfortunately I have this hunch that she will be blamed for the failure of this franchise and having a stain as big as this is something that could really hinder her career. I really hope I am wrong because Shailene Woodley deserves better than this!

 

Nightgowns… Horror’s ultimate clothing item

I was babysitting my niece for a weekend two months ago, because I try to be a better uncle than I really am, and was slightly unnerved when she dressed to go to bed. After watching a number of possessed children spew vomit or talk to demonic imaginary friends I was startled to see her wear a Minnie Mouse nightgown just like any other soon to be haunted child you would see in the latest horror movie would. Her just laughing and twirling as she sang along to the latest Kidz Bop video on YouTube become something out of The Conjuring or Paranormal Activity, minus the huge houses that hauntings need to occur in. And so I begin this rundown of some of horrors most recent creepy little girls donned with a clothing item I thought died out a long time ago…

Janet in The Conjuring 2

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One of the most recent examples of a creepy child, whenever Janet wore this red nightgown it drove the supernatural entities in her house into super mega evil overdrive.

Leila in Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension

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The final creepy child to be created from this highly successful franchise is arguably the scariest. As soon as she switched from her colorful PJs to this white nightgown hell, as it always does in these films, broke loose.

Annabelle in Annabelle

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Perhaps I am cheating here since the 7 year old apparition of deceased satanist Annabelle is technically wearing an ominous white dress that you would see at a baptism of sorts, but the look still rings the same terror as the rest!

Kristy and Katie in Paranormal Activity 3/The Marked Ones/The Ghost Dimension

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This pair of sisters go through a number of hellish events throughout their lives in this iconic found footage franchise. With the strange power of witchcraft, time travel, and other bizarre and convoluted aspects that this series came to incorporate we manage to see a lot of the younger versions of Kristy and Katie. And of course both would wear nightgowns!

Vivian in Dawn of the Dead (2004)

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Sarah Polley and her boyfriend wake up to hell in the fantastic opening for this remake of the original Romero classic. Vivian successfully carried on the legacy and memory of fellow killer zombie child Karen, from the original Night of the Living Dead.

Samara in The Ring

 

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Samara does have our sympathy (well at least a part of mine) since there really doesn’t seem to be a reason why she is so evil. As for as I am considered it isn’t her fault that bad things happen when she’s around, but her chilling look and inherent evil make her one of the creepiest kids both in American and Japanese horror.

 

Illumination’s The Secret Life of Pets

This company’s super hit distinguishes itself from other 2016 animated features by daring to just please viewers through the simplicity of its zany tale and successfully doing so.

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The Secret Life of Pets follows Max (Louie C.K) and Duke (Eric Stonestreet) two dogs who are effectively made into brothers when Max’s owner Katie (Ellie Kemper) adopts Duke one random night. After a series of zany events the two go on the run from both animal control and a group of rejected pets lead by Snowball (Kevin Hart) and must find their way back home. All while Max’s friends, lead by Jenny Slate’s crazy in love Gidget, make it their mission to find the pair.

This is not an original or deep film. The story of lost pets finding their way back to their owners can be traced to a number of things (my first thought was Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey… which was apparently a remake). But instead of the heavy sentimental feel of that film, this has a never ending sense of joy and fun. While Max and Duke desperately want to make it back home they never whine and mop about the dangers they face and reach the low points the pets in that film did. Another frequently made comparison is 1995’s historical animate classic Toy Story. While Max and Duke’s dynamic is similar to Woody and Buzz’s on a structural level it never had the intensity and back and forth drama that the toys. Max and Duke start out on a bad place but immediately get over it when  they realize the situation they are in. It’s a simpler one that lacks their development but is an enjoyable pairing nonetheless. Louie C.K and Eric Stonestreet both bring the laughs with their characters, both of which are shown to be far more capable than I expected.

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The film ultimately has a carefree and loving attitude that is never really dimmed down. While some of the more emotional moments don’t pack the same punch as you feel that they should, the funny fast paced nature of the film shines through and through. The characters are entertaining and a blast to be around, the heart and love of animals comes through with ease (I don’t own a dog but it made me want one), the animation is bright, colorful, zany and very on brand for Illumination, the rising juggernaut of the animated world .

Well Hopeful Champions

This is the start to what may be the blog that I stick too! My interest and appreciation for writing has always stuck over the years and so I will give it another go. Yes this bad runner will write and spill over his thoughts about random “entertainment” things. Because random is always better than nonexistent.