Overzealous Recycling 009: Higher, further, faster!

My movie calendar is probably way off, but it feels like 2019 is finally beginning at the movies. Oscars season ended almost two weeks ago and Captain Marvel represents the first big blockbuster release of the year. (Sorry, Alita: Battle Angel.) So there’s finally reason to be excited.

— If you missed the last Overzealous Recycling, you can read it here

Plenty of other films have been released since Jan. 1, and I still need to catch up on a few of them. But it’s also time to write some movie reviews again. I’ve really fallen off during the past few months because I didn’t have an outlet — forgetting that I’ll always have this blog.

So I did write up a review for Captain Marvel, which you can read here. If you’d like an audio version, we also recorded some back-and-forth reaction for the Amusement Park Podcast. I’m hoping this helps me scrape off some rust and gets me back into regularly writing about movies again. More on that with some fun news after the first of this week’s links.

** I already knew that you can’t catch up on sleep during the weekend, but I still try to do it anyway. I’m not as bad as I was five or six years ago. I’m getting much better sleep during the week and I’ve tried to prioritize a more normal schedule over the past year. But just in case you’re still kidding yourself, catch-up sleep isn’t helping you. [Washington Post]

** Napping certainly helps, though. I’ve become a fan of the “coffee nap.” Or the “nap-a-latte,” as “The Sleep Doctor” Michael Breus calls it. Drink a cup of cold coffee, then try to snooze for 20-25 minutes. By the time you wake up, the caffeine should be ready to kick in. [Vox]

** Speaking of coffee, I’m a self-proclaimed #Coffeeciando. It’s probably what I order online most often, and I’ve been sampling most of Gear Patrol’s list of the 25 best roasters in America with my friend Mike McClary over the past few months. (I’m staying local for my latest brews, however. Thanks, Dynamite Roasting and Counter Culture!) Most of my ordering has been through Trade Coffee, and they just started a blog, so I’m reading. [The Counter]

Words in Print

In the category of unexpected surprises, I was recently offered an opportunity to write a movie review for Asheville’s alternative weekly, Mountain Xpress. Xpress staffer Edwin Arnaudin (whose work you can also read at his site, Asheville Movies) recently took over editing of the paper’s movie section with his fellow critic Bruce Steele and asked if I’d like to contribute an occasional review.

The bad news is that my first assignment was the final film in Tyler Perry’s Madea saga, A Madea Family Funeral. Snark aside, I enjoyed watching and writing about a movie I never would’ve seen otherwise. I also tend to go on far too long in my own reviews and keeping it short for Xpress was a nice challenge.

When I first moved to Asheville, I thought it’d be cool to write for Mountain Xpress, but soon got some online opportunities with MLive and Yahoo Sports and never tried to pursue anything else. Besides, the movie section was in the fine hands of late local legend Ken Hanke, whose reviews and commentaries were always worth reading. So many good writers cover the arts and food scenes here that I figured I probably wouldn’t ever have a byline there unless I came up with a good pitch (probably sports-related).

So the review is in this week’s issue, and I hope you check it out. Thanks to Edwin for the opportunity and I’m excited about what’s to come. No matter how much writing is done online, it’s always nice to see your name and words in print.

Musical Interlude

** I’m really trying to listen to more music nowadays and one of my favorite albums of the year so far is Maren Morris’s GIRL. It’s been fun to blast it in the mornings to get me going. Morris’s music is new to me, so I’ll be catching up on her older work. Here’s a quick interview with her. [Amazon Music]

** A Captain Marvel theme to this week’s Overzealous Recycling (and Casselbloggy) probably couldn’t be avoided. One area where I think the movie shines — and this applies to all of the Marvel movies — is that a convoluted comic book history is distilled to its most important character and storytelling elements. But if you want to know how much baggage the Captain Marvel name and the Carol Danvers character carries, the NYT‘s Mr. Comics, George Gene Gustines, breaks it down. [New York Times]

** Covering the NFL Draft Combine seems like it could be painfully boring. It’s all about times and measurements — some of which are crucial for fringe aspiring pros — and treating college prospects like products rather than human beings. But it’s also probably a great place to establish relationships with sources and get to know the sport’s decision-makers, as Wright Thompson demonstrates. [ESPN]

More TV to Pile on the Plate

A TV series based on Bruce Lee’s original idea and developed by Jonathan Tropper (Banshee)? Sign me up.

Actually, I really will have to decide whether or not to sign up because Cinemax has been eliminated from my current package with Charter Spectrum. (The business plan of taking channels away from customers when many of them are cutting cable and satellite service is a curious one.) Good timing. Maybe I can get this a la carte through Amazon?

I absolutely loved Banshee, and I’ve been eager to see what Tropper does next. (I should’ve passed the time by reading his novels, such as This Is Where I Leave You.) A more epic, intense version of Kung Fu is his next step.

Also, when visiting my friend A. in Seattle last spring, I surprised her by saying I wanted to see Bruce Lee’s gravesite. Doing it early on a Saturday morning seemed perfect.

** The cynical view of Fox News is that it’s the propaganda network for the Trump administration. Not a difficult conclusion to draw when Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and Lou Dobbs are carrying water — or even dictating policy — for the White House. Or former Fox News exec Bill Shine setting communications strategy. But now, Jane Mayer confirms that this is essentially state TV with so many employees trading places between the White House and the network. [New Yorker]

** Most sports fans presume that professional athletes live the best lives because of the money they make. (I’ve made that assumption too.) But NBA commissioner Adam Silver noted at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference that many of the players he talks to are increasingly unhappy and isolated, and the league is taking steps to address mental health. [Boston Globe]

I found this through the Axios Sports newsletter, compiled by Kendall Baker, which Mike McClary nudged me to check out recently.

** If I lived in New York, I doubt I could have afforded to see much theater. But had I ever followed through on that dream, I like to think I would’ve been able to scrounge up the resources to see productions like a revival of Sam Shepard’s True West starring Ethan Hawke and Paul Dano. (I hate to throw around the word “hero,” but Shepard is a writer I’ve always looked up to.) [Vulture]

** I didn’t know that Donald Glover got his “Childish Gambino” alias from a Wu-Tang Clan name generator. What would your Wu-Tang Clan name be? I’m not revealing mine, in case I use it for a message board or Twitter handle. Or maybe I’ll become a rapper too. [Boing Boing]

By the way, I learned about this from Miles Surrey’s piece on the Whiskey Cavalier pilot for The Ringer.

Weekly Affirmation


Amusement Park 027: True Detective, Doom Patrol and We Mourn the Punisher – and bonus thoughts


The Season 3 finale of True Detective is on Sunday, so we try to get in some theories and reactions to the season on the latest Amusement Park Podcast.

Maybe Chris and I would’ve had a bit more fun had we checked in every week, but I think we managed to put a couple of guesses out there regarding who the true bad guy is and how far up the whole conspiracy goes. And I got to voice my love for Stephen Dorff, who’s been tremendous as Roland West. It’ll be intriguing to see where his career goes from here.

We also react to the pilot episode of DC Universe’s Doom Patrol, which has the potential to be unlike anything ever seen in superhero TV. Fingers are crossed. Get weird and funny with this stuff, man.

Show notes for Ep. 27 are available at the Amusement Park Podcast website

Since we also discussed Netflix’s inevitable cancellation of The Punisher (seriously, there’s no way Daredevil, Luke Cage and Iron Fist would be canceled, and The Punisher and Jessica Jones saved), I was reminded that there were a couple of things about Season 2 that I wanted to touch on, but didn’t previously.

I’m certainly self-centered enough to think Season 2 of The Punisher was speaking directly to me somehow. But there were a handful of intriguing coincidences that were extremely amusing.

First, the season begins in my home state of Michigan while Frank Castle is traveling the country and trying to get away from the events of Season 1. He ends up at a bar called Lola’s Roadhouse, which happens to be the name of one of my nieces.


Then at the end of the season, Castle and the young woman he’s been protecting throughout the story end up at a bus station. (I’ll try to avoid spoilers by saying why.) But the destination on the bus is where I currently live: Asheville, North Carolina.



I haven’t encountered any murderous vigilantes, deeply religious contract killers, amnesiac soldiers, or Homeland Security agents with a major grudge during the past few years. So these parallels only apply so much with me. But still, I’ll always have a soft spot for Season 2 of The Punisher for these amusing coincidences. And I’ll be on the lookout for anything suspicious.

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Asheville’s WISE Sports Radio is now streaming


Here’s an exciting, long overdue development to share: The local sports talk radio station in Asheville, WISE Sports Radio, is now streaming online! That means anyone interested in hearing my weekly segments on The WISE Guys show can now listen in throughout the country.

I’ve appeared on the show to talk baseball (and movies) for nearly five years now, for which I’m grateful to Pat Ryan and his former co-host Bill McClement. But it’s been disappointing that friends and colleagues (or prospective employers) haven’t been able to hear the stuff I do on local radio, so I’m glad that’s now going to change.

The WISE Guys is on Monday to Friday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. ET. I appear on the show Tuesdays and Thursdays to talk baseball at 4:25, and Wednesdays at 3:40 with a movie review.

You can listen to the live stream (which also includes Fox Sports Radio programming throughout the day) by clicking on the image below:


Hope you can tune in! Don’t hesitate to provide feedback. And if you need someone for some baseball (or sports media and pop culture) talk on your radio show or podcast, contact me at iancass [at] gmail [dot] com.


Not a Newsletter 007: Radio nowhere

milesspidey_readingWhen I was a kid, working in radio seemed like such a cool job. Every station had to be like WKRP in Cincinnati, right?

That delusion was first dispelled when I won a prize from the old WIQB (Rock 103!) in Ann Arbor and drove to the station to pick it up. Rather than a respectable office with the magic happening behind the glass, WIQB was basically a shack out in Saline.

As I grew older and got to know people in the radio business, I learned how brutal it could be. Many of them had been ruthlessly fired. (My podcast co-host was one of them.) Plenty of people in other lines of work have been let go because of salary cuts or job duties changing. But radio was supposed to be the cool job.

I was reminded again of how cruel working in radio could be earlier this week when a host I’ve worked with for years was fired. Here in Asheville, Bill McClement was a co-host on the sports talk show I’ve contributed to for nearly five years. I’ve talked to him two to three times a week throughout that time. I’ve sat in with him as a co-host a handful of times and always had great fun doing so.


Working at home, I’m not always the most social guy, so there have probably been many weeks when Bill was one of the few people with whom I had a conversation — even if it was about baseball for a segment on a sports talk radio show.

No, I don’t know all the details and probably never will. It’s not my business. But watching someone lose his job after 15 years with a company (and 40-plus years in the industry) is heartbreaking. It sure seems like he deserved better.

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