STAY WOKE: don’t sleep on these two NBA teams this year

Something underlying has been brewing that will cause an even bigger fan reaction than the offseason big name trades — sleeper teams.

Detroit Pistons v Minnesota TimberwolvesBy SIDNEY PERALTA
ITCNews Editor
erasidneyp@gmail.com

Do you remember the off-season? Big name trades, and even bigger expectations. Kyrie and Gordon to the Celtics; Paul George and Melo to the Thunder with the stat king himself, Russell Westbrook; and CP3 crossing the border over to Houston to join The Beard in his quest to take rule over the west coast dominant Warriors.

The off season trades were amazing for fans that were growing tired of the less than surprising playoff/finals turnout over the last three years. (Call it a Warriors/Cavalier overdose.) But something underlying has been brewing that will cause an even bigger fan reaction than the big name trades; sleeper teams.

Watch out for the Pistons. No, it’s not the early 90’s, but we may just get nostalgia from the current bad boys fronting for Detroit. The Pistons currently sit at the second place in the east with a 14-6 record. Admittedly, we all thought it was an early season fluke, but then — they just kept winning and winning and winning. Even so far as to beat the current East coast top seeded Celtics. With their next game going up against a Wall-less Wizards, it can almost be guaranteed that they will find themselves with another W, inching closer to serious talks of being big time competitors.

636474180465308855-SI-20171127-kek-ad7-10-1-Drummond has been a stand out for the Pistons, with 14 points, 15 rebounds, 3 assists and 1 block a game. Bradley, who was recently traded from the Celtics in the offseason, is also putting up stellar numbers with 17 points a game with 45 percent from the field, and 44 percent from the arc. Tobias Harris and Reggie Jackson have been just as big this season, with the former averaging 19 points with 47 percent from the field and 47 percent from the arc, while Jackson is averaging 16 points with 47 percent from the field and 40 percent from the arc. That’s 64 single-led points from these four alone. These are some bad boys we’re dealing with.

sr-11-30-2017.jpg

This big 3 out west is causing a lot of quiet commotion and whispers in the conference — and it’s not the Thunder. Ahead of tonight’s game, the Timberwolves will have the opportunity to prove something that I have believed since 10 games into the season, the real new big three is in Minnesota — we can even say it’s a big 4.

With the likes of Towns, Wiggins, Butler, and last but not least Teague, the Wolves are 4th in the West, with two wins over the other big 3 led Thunder. Tonight, they have a chance to make it 3 wins, and with that, they arguably make the statement that they can take on the Thunder in the postseason for a 5 to 7 game series, and win at that.

Towns is averaging a double-double this year with 20 points and 12 rebounds. Wiggins is just shy of 20 points a game with 45 percent from the field and a humble 32 percent from the arc. Butler adds about 18 points a game to the mix, while Gibson and Teague combine for 24 points and 11 rebounds on the floor.

Tonight will be one of those statement games echoed throughout the Association — watch out, because we are coming.

Why ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ was so disappointing

Disclaimer: This editorial has spoilers for Thor: Ragnarok. Proceed with caution.

By: Dan Marcus (Special to ITCFILMS/ITCCOMICS)

FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE, CLICK HERE.

To preface this review, I want to state I love film with every iota of my being. When I watch a film, I always go in with an open mind. I always want to like a film. I never go in wanting to dislike a film. However, I try to be critical with every film that I see. I don’t give any movie a pass. As a filmmaker myself, I understand wholeheartedly how much effort goes into making any film. Which is why I always try to appraise a film with as much care, thought and consideration that goes into making them. I just wanted to get that out of the way.

With that said, on October 20th I wrote an editorial explaining why I thought making Thor: Ragnarok a comedy was a mistake. I outlined that making Ragnarok a comedy was more of a Marvel problem. The studio has a tendency to be leaning more toward comedy as of late, which is baffling since Infinity War (hopefully) promises to be one of their darkest entries yet.

I received some criticism for writing that piece before the film opened. However, upon seeing the film proper, I can safely say my article was pretty much dead on the money. I say this as someone that while never considered themselves a huge Thor fan, greatly appreciated the first Thor film directed by Kenneth Branaugh. It seemed to balance a light-hearted, jovial tone with some well-earned emotional beats that resonated. The less said about Thor: The Dark World, the better.

For some reason, Marvel decided to respond to the critically derided and tonally uneven Thor: The Dark World (which has 66% on RottenTomatoes and 3.9 average rating) with Thor: Ragnarok, a film that trades in an uneven tone with a tone that is decidedly comedic. The biggest problem with Ragnarok is that it is indeed a comedy. The film feels like a giant missed opportunity, with so many moments that could have provided for great drama or tragedy and instead are undercut by comedy almost every chance the film gets.

Even if we’re ignoring the fact the first act is mostly exposition, director Taika Waititi and the film’s writers (Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost) squander dramatic potential with disconcerting ease. One of the film’s first missteps is the handling of the Warriors Three, or in this film the Warriors Two as Sif is for some reason absent from this film. Hela, played by Cate Blanchett, kills Volstagg and Fandral without any fanfare. While that was a bold choice – and does strengthen Hela as a villain – that move is almost immediately made ineffective since none of our main characters, such as Thor, react to their deaths.

In the first Thor (and even in The Dark World), the Warriors Three play big parts in Thor’s life. He grew up with them. He fought with them. He loved them. For them to be discarded so easily without a single reaction from Thor completely undercuts the story’s decision to eliminate them from the narrative. All it would have taken would be a simple moment where Thor quietly reacts to their deaths, further realizing how awful Hela truly is. I thought at first that Hela would kill Odin, cementing her place as a true villain, but even Odin dies willingly.

thorragnarok-trailerbreakdown-loki-thor-lasers

In regards to Hela, while Cate Blanchett gives the villainess her all she doesn’t have a lot to work with. While she does quickly take over Asgard, it feels like she doesn’t really have much to do for most of the narrative. It doesn’t help that she’s separated from Thor for a majority of the story, giving Hela not much to do besides gloat and twist her evil mustache. At least in the first Thor, Loki visited Thor to torture him emotionally and lie to him about Odin’s death. Thor and Hela have a brief interaction in the beginning and then don’t meet or interact again until the end. It feels like an odd choice creatively speaking.

The film’s biggest problem, however, is the overabundance of comedy. As I said in my editorial published October 20th, I fail to see why Thor: Ragnarok was made to be a comedy. As a matter of fact, Ragnarok feels more like a Guardians of the Galaxy film and less like an actual Thor film. This is a film where Odin dies, Thor loses two members of the Warriors Three, loses an eye and literally watches as Ragnarok completely destroys his home. It should be the darkest of the Thor films, but somehow is the lightest and funniest.

I’m not against comedy. I think Spider-Man: Homecoming was the perfect example of a film where the tone was totally appropriate for the character. However, what made Homecoming so great is that it knew when to take itself seriously. One of the most memorable scenes from that film is when Michael Keaton’s Toomes is driving Peter and Michelle to the Homecoming dance. It’s the most tense scene in the film. There’s no superhero costumes, no visual effects, and no action stunt work. It’s merely a couple of actors acting the hell out of an intense scene. And you know what? It’s not punctured by a joke or witty one-liner. Everyone plays it straight.

Thor8

While Ragnarok has moments of emotional resonance, most of them don’t land. And if they do, they are quickly interuppted by a joke. Take, for example, any meaningful moment between Thor and Banner. Or, more to the point, a wonderful scene where Thor talks with Loki that is then immediately followed up with the “Help me” gag. It’s as if Waititi felt the need to interject comedy into nearly every scene of the film. If you don’t believe that, read Dan Kois’ profile on Waititi in The New York Times where he cuts out dialogue from a scene because it’s “not funny”, shaving the scene in half to focus on the humor instead. I wanted to be emotionally moved by anything that happened in Ragnarok, but I simply wasn’t. When Thor approaches the Destroyer in the first Thor without his powers, I was genuinely moved. And when his powers returned to him, it was heroic, uplifting and (no lie) nearly moved me to tears. I wanted something along those lines in Ragnarok, but for me I was never personally moved or affected by anything that happened in the film.

I’m not saying a Thor comedy wouldn’t work, but I’m saying it was a weird and poor decision to make Thor: Ragnarok one. There’s a lot of stuff that happens in this film, yet at the same time I felt like not much happened at all. I will give the film some credit, though. There are some genuine moments of brilliant characterization. Thor has a pretty decent arc, finally ascending to the throne after three films of build-up. Valkyrie isn’t given much to do, but her arc works even if it feels perfunctory. Loki seems like he might be a good guy now and even a non-essential character such as Skurge has a moment of redemption. I also loved how the ending featured our heroes basically succumbing to the villain in order to defeat her, which was something creatively I’m not sure I’ve seen before – at least not in a Marvel film. (I also give Marvel and Waititi credit for reprising some musical motifs, such as Brian Tyler’s Age of Ultron theme when appropriate and Patrick Doyle’s stirring Thor theme at the end of the film. That was perfect.)

Thor: Ragnarok isn’t terrible. It’s genuinely funny, however it remains to be seen if those jokes will hold up in subsequent viewings. The film does have some great characterization and some clever ideas. However, the film could have been so much more if Marvel simply didn’t try to shoehorn in as much comedy as much as possible. I usually applaud Marvel on their choice in directors – Jon Favreau, the Russo Brothers, James Gunn, et al were all brilliant choices. Taika Waititi is a brilliant director, but I think he was wrong for this film. It feels more like Guardians (and not in a good way) or Beastmaster more than a Thor film. Heck, I think Waititi would make one hell of a Masters of the Universefilm. I just think he was wrong for Thor.

thor-movie-image-chris-hemsworth-hammer-01

I might be too hard on this film. I have a feeling overall though it’s going to be pretty forgettable. It feels especially pedestrian in the wake of 2017’s superhero films which have all been pretty spectacular. Logan was a defining achievement, one of the great films of the year. Wonder Woman was just wonderfully astonishing. Spider-Man: Homecoming was a breathe of fresh air for the Spider-Man character that was desperately needed. Thor: Ragnarok was fun… but it wasn’t much else. I guarantee you people are going to be talking about Logan, Wonder Woman and Spider-Man: Homecoming for a while. I’m not sure if the same can be said for Thor: Ragnarok, especially with Justice Leaguearound the corner.

If anything, Thor: Ragnarok feels like a great companion piece to Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2. While I would argue Ragnarok is vastly superior to Volume 2, it still feels like a film uncomfortably burdened with an overabundance of comedy. It feels as if Ragnarokis desperately trying to be like Guardians, no different than Loki trying desperately to live up to the perfect, spotless image of his brother Thor. Except Loki did enough to distinguish himself from Thor – well, he was a dick – and Ragnarok feels like it wants to cozy up to Guardians a bit too much.

Also, on a final note: For anyone that thinks I’m pro-DC over Marvel, I’m the same person who didn’t like Man of Steel or the Theatrical Cut of Batman v Superman. I thought Suicide Squad was laughably bad. However, I absolutely loved Captain America: The Winter Soldier, I thought Guardians of the Galaxy was brilliant and I loved this year’s Spider-Man: Homecoming. Even though it is not Marvel Studios, Logan is my third favorite film of the year so far. So I would hardly say I’m biased. I just genuinely didn’t like Thor: Ragnarok.

Maybe I’ll warm up to the film upon future viewings. I’m not in any rush to see Ragnarokagain, but perhaps time will make the heart grow fonder. I’d be very curious to see how the film holds up now that I know all of the comedic one-liners. I really wanted to like Thor: Ragnarok and I wish I liked it more. However, I know my opinion will matter zilch in the grand scheme of things. The audience I saw the film with roared with laughter throughout the film and clapped at the end. Based on the reviews and early box office buzz, Thor: Ragnarok is going to be another hit for the studio.

It sounds like, once again, Marvel will have the last laugh.

WATCH: Denver Broncos rookie Shakir Soto gets rookie treatment with bad haircut.

Bad haircut doesn’t even begin to cover what they did to this young man’s hair.

By SIDNEY PERALTA

I can already hear the roasting that will ensue due to Denver Bronco’s rookie Shakir Soto’s “bad hairday.”

Apparently, the Broncos engage in light and harmless hazing for the rooks, and Soto was caught in the cross hairs.

Looks like he’ll have to keep the helmet all day until the hair grows back. Or he’ll have to take a page out of Lebron’s book, and just go with a baldie. Maybe he’ll make a work out routine video to go along with the new due as well.

Whatever he decides, we just hope he can deal with the 1000 degree roast session that will come his way.

Breaking: Mayweather Officially Requests To Use 8 Oz. Gloves Against McGregor

Will the smaller gloves give McGregor the edge? Or will it make no difference?

134771789_Action-Plus_2017-Boxing-Press-Conference-Mayweather-v-McGregor-London-Jul-14th-large_trans_NvBQzQNjv4BqytStWzET8IU_YHbhIsrHT3uTgtFKZSrRPIgdVHLfdx0Floyd “Money” Mayweather has officially offered to fight UFC Lightweight Champion Conor McGregor in 8oz gloves.

Later this month, Mayweather is scheduled to fight McGregor in a boxing match. During the lead up to the fight, there has been speculation that Mayweather is afraid to fight McGregor with smaller gloves due to the UFC champion’s punching power.

On Tuesday, Mayweather sent out a message on his Instagram page saying he is willing to fight McGregor with smaller gloves.

“Don’t believe what you hear in the media. Don’t believe what you hear on blog sites. If it’s not coming directly from me, then it’s not true. I’m telling McGregor, “Let’s fight in 8 oz gloves”. McGregor can fight in any brand he prefers or chooses. I’ll be wearing 8 oz Grant gloves. Whatever advantage McGregor needs to feel more comfortable in the ring, I’m willing to accommodate. Let’s give the boxing and MMA fans what they want to see.”

https://www.instagram.com/p/BXRKvU1gdsn/embed/captioned/?cr=1&v=7&wp=658#%7B%22ci%22%3A0%2C%22os%22%3A4695.22%7D

Mayweather vs. McGregor will take place Aug. 26 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Professors say Trump still writing his own history

“What history will say will depend a whole lot on the economy’s growth, whether people find jobs, physical health determination and whether the world is closer to peace.”

READ THE ORIGINAL BRADFORD ERA ARTICLE HERE5981331edcfb6.image

President Donald Trump, accompanied by his daughter Ivanka Trump, speaks in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2017, during an event with small business owners as part of “American Dream Week.” (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Bradford Era article by SIDNEY PERALTA

Once everything is all said and done, the 45th administration of the United States will be a part of history. Whether that history will be looked back upon positively or negatively is still up for debate, as the Trump administration is still just a few months shy of its first year.

Dr. Rick Frederick, professor of history at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford, suggested that it was difficult to predict how the current presidency will be perceived down the line because of “how different of a president he is.”

Frederick believes that the President Donald Trump’s attempt to deliver policy is “sort of a bull rush,” with members of his own party showing resistance.

“This kind of tactic isn’t necessarily new, but it is much more used in the current administration, which has left (Trump) high and dry in his attempts to pass any significant legislation,” Frederick said.

Dr. Andrew Dzirkalis, an associate professor emeritus of political science at Pitt-Bradford, shared a similar sentiment about the president’s tactics, adding that the White House seems to be in a bit of turbulence.

“I have a general tendency to believe that Trump is doing some things rather well,” Dzirkalis said. “I just worry about his ego and his tendency to want be in charge of every detail. This is leading to a loosely structured White House.”

Dzirkalis further explained that the turbulence that Trump’s tactics has on the White House extends to every member in his staff, which can lead to them individually pursuing their own line.

With the administration looking to cut close to $3 billion from the Pell Grant, which is primarily used by students in need of help with the cost of higher education, Dzirkalis was in favor of the president’s stance.

“As a college professor, I’m not at all happy with all of our education,” he said. “It’s been oversold, with people believing that everybody ought to have a higher education. It’s rather unrealistic.”

Dzirkalis explained that although he agrees with the decision to cut back on spending for higher education, he would like to see the money reinvested into trade education.

“We need good electricians, welders and carpenters,” he said. “It can be a very rewarding and satisfying experience.”

Frederick took the opposite stance, frustrated with the cuts to higher education.

“It’s extremely demeaning to treat higher education as if it’s a detriment to the country,” he said. “(Trump) keeps talking about ‘no chaos’ in the White House when actions like this prove to anyone looking from the outside that there is nothing but madness going on there.”

Frederick maintained that it is still too soon to decide whether the Trump administration will end positively or negatively.

“We’ve got a long way to go, but as of now, he seems to refuse to work with Democrats in any way,” Frederick said. “I can only hope that he attempts to make compromises with Congress.”

Dzirkalis agreed about the premature analysis of the administration, even though he says he’s frustrated with the disorganization of the White House.

“What history will say will depend a whole lot on the economy’s growth, whether people find jobs, physical health determination and whether the world is closer to peace,” he said. “Will we have solved a lot of our international issues as well as our internal issues, these are the things that will determine the current administration’s place in history.”

Review: I’m hyped for Jeremy Haun’s “THE REALM,” and why you should be, too

pic1Art by Jeremy Haun, Colors by Nick Filardi

20424610_816945665138657_1023196076_o By RUSSELL BERGER

I’ve been a HUGE fan of artist and inker extraordinaire, Jeremy Haun, for quite some time now. I’ve been, and like to think, a very vocal advocate about how great his work is, and making sure that everyone I know (and don’t) knows about him and to be buying his books.

I had first came across Jeremy’s back in 2013 when he was drawing CONSTANTINE for DC Comics. Sure, I was a bit late to the party and to board the Haun-train that’s full of all ten levels of awesomeness, but no matter, I haven’t missed a beat since.

His style is one of the cleanest and crispest I’ve seen of any penciler and inker. His work on his creator owned book out of Image Comics, THE BEAUTY, which follows those who are infected by a sexually transmitted disease – which shares the same name as the title of the book – that turns them into “beautiful people, is a prime example of what I’m talking about. It’s beautiful. Jeremy has a way of telling a story through the characters he draws that connects with you, and makes you feel you could have a beer with them. Most notably for me is Detective Vaughn from THE BEAUTY. She’s a foul mouth, beautiful red head that doesn’t take anyone’s shit. I’m sure she’d kick almost any dude’s ass, too.

pic2

Detective Vaughn: Art by Jeremy Haun, Color by John Rauch

His work ethic, and attention to detail in making sure you get an A+ end result is one of the many reasons why he’s must follow. It also sets the tone for what’s to come as he’d been teasing a new project.

Initially, over a year or so, there was no name or many details other than what we could see from WIPs and “desk shots” to this new project. Though, for me personally, the WIPs and desk shots were enough to hook and reel me in. Maybe because I’m bias toward Jeremy, but I much rather like to think that it’s because the product speaks for itself. The little bit we were getting was setting the stage to this new world. Many post apocalyptic looking images. The characters each appeared like they’d spent years in this chaotic ruin. Again, the art speaks for itself. It has a way of telling the story without dialogue, and that is sometimes a rare thing to come by.

Character designs are one of the bigger parts of a comic’s success. That’s the first thing that a reader sees, and if they aren’t pleased with what they’re seeing, then they most likely won’t bother. No worry on this end, because that’s something that Jeremy excels at. When we look to his characters, and to the past work he’s done on preexisting characters, we see that he has a way of capturing our intrigue with how stunning the characters are. Even everything around the characters like the buildings, and even the streets are eye candy. It’s a call back to when I said that he’s one of the cleanest and crispest in the business.

I'm hyped for Jeremy Haun's -The Realm- and you should be too

Art by Jeremy Haun

Then BAM, we got the long awaited news that this project was going to be published out of Image Comics, along with its title – THE REALM – and a synopsis:

Fifteen years ago, our world was overrun by creatures of myth: orcs, dragons, and other nameless horrors that threw the entire planet into total chaos. Today, the shattered remnants of civilization must fight tooth and nail to survive in a deadly new era of violence and mayhem.”

Now come on, Orcs? Dragons? And numerous other mythological creatures that are all in the same story? Holy hell, YES! As a comic book fan, this hits everything I want to read about outside of the “super” quality worlds of DC and Marvel. And combine with the talent that is behind this book, it’s a radar-bleeping machine, because it’s top of the list of what’s to be hitting shelves.

Though, currently, the post apocalyptic genre is very big. It’s being explored a lot in movies, books and the TV, which does make it a smart move on Jeremy and Seth’s part to tell a story that takes place in such a world. It’s also a ballsy move to tackle such a saturated topic, not knowing whether or not yours will be enough to peak the interests of possible consumers. This to me tells us that these two great creators – Jeremy and Seth – are confident in their product. It’s showing that they aren’t going to be putting out something just to put it out, but because they have a kick ass story with an awesome cast of characters and want us to delve in and get away from the chaos going on out in the world around us.

I’m hyped for this book. We have on the horizon the perfect combination of a great writer and an awesome artist. From the sneak peaks we’ve seen, and from a “child’s dream brought to life” of a synopsis, the hype meter is broken. If you’re a comic fan, or even just someone who loves amazing art and/or stories then you too should be absolutely stoked for this. It’s the equivalent of that perfect present under the Christmas tree that you’re itching to get at on Christmas morning, and this metaphorical Christmas isn’t that far away.

Make sure to tell your local comic shop that you want THE REALM, and be prepared for the ride of your life come September 13th when this book hits a shelf near you!