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‘MAY’ I interest you in this month’s entertainment options?

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Oh, May. The overlooked month situated right before the onslaught of the summer blockbusters. While many are finishing school and looking for something to do, the real seat-filler and popcorn movers will not be released for another month or so. But fear not, as there will be plenty to keep you entertained this month including a superhero trifecta, which includes the latest chapters in both the Captain America and X-Men stories. As well as a new Fox series co-produced by Seth Rogen, based off of the Preacher comic book. Star Wars fans also have something to look forward to, as the documentary Elstree 1976 delves into the lives of the small bit players that made up the George Lucas-created universe. The epic mini-series Roots is being remade for a newer generation, and will be a simulcast event broadcasting on multiple networks. And M. Night Shyamalan’s critically acclaimed series Wayward Pines returns for a second season. So your plate should be full this month, enough to tide you over until you’re ready for the summer blockbuster popcorn.

Elstree 1976

Out May 6th

A long time ago, in a galaxy known as 1970s’ London, a rag-tag clan of workaday actors gathered together in the city’s Elstree Studios to begin working on a sci-fi project that would alter the course of the rest of their lives. Of course, I’m talking about Star Wars, if you couldn’t have guessed by my outstandingly original opening. While some of the names in the George Lucas-created universe would go onto become standards in the lexicon of not only America but throughout the world, (both their given and character names). Others would only live in the memories of diehard fans. Now 40 years later, a new crowdsourced documentary sets out to give those small, yet beloved background players their just due. Elstree 1976, which was made possible by a Kickstarter campaign, and was written and directed by Jon Spira. Spira examines what life was like for those actors in the grand trilogy who were not named Han or Luke, and how, although they were in one of the most famous films of all-time, they have little in the way of fortune and fame to show for it. Spira does speak to some of the main cast as well. As David Prowse, the man behind the iconic Darth Vader mask, recounts practicing his lightsaber routine with Obi-Wan himself, Sir Alec Guinness.  Even Jeremy Bulloch, who donned Bobba Fett’s armor in The Empire Strikes Back, tells of his meeting a young Lucas, who informed him that the part he would be playing is rather small. Little did either of them know, that small role, would end up being one of the most seminal characters in the entire sci-fi oeuvre. There may be more in-depth and behind-the-scenes documentaries revolving around the wonderful world of Star Wars, but I’m glad this one puts more of an emphasis on the little guys and the bit players who made that world complete. Elstree 1976 opens in theaters Friday, May 6th.

**If you by chance, do not catch the limited release, check your cable’s video-on-demand platform shortly after the doc premieres in theaters.

Wayward Pines

On Fox, the 25

Nearly a year after its initial season debut, the M. Night Shyamalan created Wayward Pines returns for another creepy go around. The director takes us back to the twisted small Northwestern town, and picks up where we last saw bewildered Secret Service Agent Ethan Burke, played by Matt Dillon. Burke awoke dazed from a car wreck, after being sent to the backwoods burg in a desperate search for two fellow missing agents. One of them being a former lover of his, played by Carla Gugino, whom he has found settled into the picturesque Idaho town. Burke had come to find that the second agent he was in search of, had been killed. And as idyllic as the tiny town tries to present itself, Burke begins to sense something sinister behind the inhabitants lives. With a strict set of rules set in place by Wayward’s sadistic Sheriff Pope, portrayed by Terrence Howard, Burke began to slowly discover that leaving town, would be harder than he could envision. Townsfolk that make attempts at escaping are ultimately put through what the shady Sheriff refers to as “reckoning.” Which is just a not-so-gentle euphemism for the public execution that befalls those poor souls looking for a way out. This upcoming season will see Jason Patric joining the cast. And as the show is based off of the Blake Crouch trilogy of books, there’s a good chance a third season will be added to complete the storyline. Given the acclaim the first season garnered, accompanied by last year’s film ‘The Visit, Shyamalan has made somewhat of a comeback. Now everyone is awaiting the inevitable plot-twists, which became the writer/director’s staple. So much so, that it began to seem hacky in some circles. Although it is possible, that M. Night is just setting us up for the ultimate curveball, one we will never see coming. The second season of Wayward Pines begins on Fox Wednesday, May 25th at 9pm.

Roots

Memorial Day

Given all of the remakes and reboots we’ve been inundated with in the past decade or so, one story that seems to make a lot of sense to introduce to a new audience would be the iconic series Roots. To some viewers, especially younger ones, watching a historically based series, let alone one that takes a searing look at a not-so-proud moment in American history, may not be there idea of a good way to spend some Memorial Day. Even fictitious hits like the mega-popular Game of Thrones, have helped to stoke a historic revival in a sense, Roots seems to be a timely reminder, in a time where we’re still dealing with many of the same issues that the figures in these pieces dealt with. As the current Black Lives Matter movement could easily illustrate. While many Millennials are either unaware of, or have a cursory knowledge of the story of Kunta Kinte, they were benefactors of the impact that the original 1977 run of the series made on American culture, for good or ill. As sadly, through time, the series lost much of its power and became a punch line of sorts. In the remake, producers have lined up a slew of big names in an attempt to reach that newer demographic. Laurence Fishburne, Forest Whitaker and Anna Paquin are set to star in the modern version. They’ve even tapped Questlove to write the main theme and score. Whether the latest take on the old tale will have the same cultural effect the first Roots had on the American conscious, will be interesting to see. The Roots remake will be another television event, as the series will be simulcast over a series of networks, including A&E, History, and the Lifetime channels. The simulcast begins Memorial Day, Monday, May 30th at 9pm.

A Superhero Trifecta

Contains: Captain America: Civil War film, X-Men Apocalypse film, and Preacher TV series.

The latest installments in the line of Superhero releases is about to hit the masses this month. Fans will be treated to a trifecta featuring two films and one TV series premiering on AMC. First up is the third film in the Captain America franchise, Captain America: Civil War, opening in theaters Friday, May 6th. Next is the Seth Rogen produced Preacher series debuting on AMC, Sunday, May 22nd, at 10pm. And the X-Men: Apocalypse film starting Friday, May 27th rounds out the month. So fans should feel safe and secure, knowing their heroes will be there to entertain them throughout May.

Maron

Returns May 4th

Things were not going so great for comedian Marc Maron, during the last season of his hit IFC series, Maron. His character with a long and storied past of substance abuse, was on the verge of a breakthrough with his own television talk show. Tumbling off of the wagon yet again, becoming heavily addicted to the painkiller OxyContin, Maron found himself shooting his shot at success in the foot, and losing everything he owns, including his house and much-beloved cats. This upcoming season we get to see Maron really hit rock-bottom, as he is living in a rented out storage locker, a circumstance he conveniently refers to as a “studio apartment situation”. And with the help of a friend, fellow comedian Dave Anthony, Maron reluctantly, but ultimately puts himself into a clean living center, in the hopes of reviving his damaged career. We will get to watch if the curmudgeonly comic will be able to overcome his knee-jerky stance towards rehab, which he so lovingly referred to as “a resort for people with no self-control”. And also see if he can kill the demons he has been wrestling with for most of his adult life. For given the number of talented folks we’ve lost at a way-too-early of an age, it would be a shame to see another gifted mind be silenced by something they could have possibly controlled. But Maron is resilient, and his humor is as strong and biting as ever. So I hope he will be gracing us with his presence for years to come. Lord knows, especially in a chaotic year of election such as this one, we need a voice like Maron’s to help us laugh at the absurdities of this mortal coil. The new season of Maron begins Wednesday, May 4th at 9pm.

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Denver’s Wes Watkins dynamic new future-funk EP is from another planet

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Future-Funk Party Starter | Wes Watkins

Dreams Out from Denver’s best kept secret Wes Watkins wears so many musical hats it needs a rack; downtempo G-Funk homage and sweltering nee-Soul / Rn’B are all over this release, all covered with a thicc pop glaze and a penchant for electronic-sonic experimentation that keep every song fascinatingly adventurous while maintaining a danceability and groove that easily, easily warrants multiple listens. Don’t sleep on this one.


Lo-Fuzz Folkie | Hoi Ann

The beauty of Hoi Ann’s Tangenier lies in both what you can hear and what it may want you to not hear. Lo-fi folk and bedroom-pop are easily tangible on its surface, but the buzzy electronic tones that sparingly flourish the 5 songs of this release lie low and create a unique aural atmosphere for listeners, like hidden secrets for your ears only.


Indie-Punk Sweeties | Gestalt

The pop-punk shred-bois in Gestalt are back at it again; The irresistible combo of the Get Up Kids earnest midwestern-emo and smart pop-punk wit of the Wonder Years is strong on the tracks that encompass LongBoix, as is an acute fondness and growing appreciation for the finer indie rock of yesteryear. Well I guess this is growing up.


Psych-Rock Screamcore | Gone Full Heathen

On their criminally good self titled EP, Fort Collins heavies Gone Full Heathen friggin dare you to try and trap them in a single genre. Nice try, but they’ll just chew right through your puny ropes using a gnashing blend of crushing stoner-rock laced hardcore punk and overdriven psych-rock / post-metal induced bite like the righteous rock and roll wolves that they are.


All releases available for purchase now thru Bandcamp. Go Local!

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The Haze Craze for Lazy Days

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There are many different styles of beer. Ranging from light lagers (think Bud Light) and ales to sours, stouts, and IPAs.

Within those styles, however, are varying styles.

For example, one would think a sour beer is a sour beer, right? Wrong. According to the Beer Judge Certification Program, which defines every style of beer, there are six recognized European sour styles.

For IPAs, there are seven. American beers have four; stouts have three… You get the point.

Even with viewing the list of recognized styles, it’s not a complete list.

Take New England IPAs (NE IPA), as a prime example. Many breweries are currently mass producing this style of beer, and it’s selling like crazy.

You may have heard one of your annoying beer loving friends talk about drinking a “juice bomb,” or a requesting a “hazy IPA” at the pub, and shrugged it off. It turns out, they (sometimes) know what they are talking about.

What makes NE IPAs so popular when compared to a more traditional, West Coast IPA? NE IPAs have all of the hop flavors, without an overabundance of bitterness.

Instead of constantly adding hops throughout the boil to achieve a fruity flavor balanced by bitterness, the NE IPA has a small hop addition at the begging, and then nothing else until after the boil has finished.

That translates into a beer with very little bitterness, and plenty of hop aroma and flavor. Hops like Citra, Mosaic, Mosaic, Galaxy, and El Dorado are most common in NE IPAs, according to the Homebrewers Association. Those hops tend to impart a fruity, and dare I say, juicy flavor profile.

Between the juicy flavor and the seemingly natural haziness to NE IPAs, it’s not far fetched for an NE IPA to look like a tall glass of orange or grapefruit juice, only carbonated and full of alcohol.

NE IPAs are starting to gain momentum here in Colorado, with breweries turning their focus to the haze craze. Specifically, Odd13, WeldWerks, and Epic Brewing coming to mind.

Odd13 is based in Lafayette, Colo. and has a long list of NE-inspired IPAs constantly rotating through the tap room and distributed throughout the state. Codename: Super fan and Noob are two beers that are found in cans, and both offer a different approach to the haze craze.

WeldWerks is based in Greeley, Colo. and has accumulated a cult-like following in just a few short years for its Juicy Bits NE IPA. The brewery just started self-distributing locally, so you’ll have to make the trip to the brewery and pick up a crowler or four. Be sure to check the WeldWerks Facebook page for availability and limits. Yes, they have to place per person limits on how much you can purchase.

Epic Brewing recently announced its NE IPA, which will rotate between four different flavor profiles throughout the year. The cans will look the same but will be different colors as a quick way to tell identify which version you have.

So the next time you walk into a brewery or liquor store, it’s OK to ask for a hazy or juicy IPA. It’s a thing, and, frankly, they are damn good.

On Tap: By the time this hits newsstands, ThunderZone Pizza & Taphouse will have opened on the CSU-P campus. Located at 2270 Rawlings Blvd., the ThunderZone features 32 taps, a carefully curated tap list, and is locally owned.

At the opening, the tap list includes tasty brews from the likes of Florence Brewing and Lost Highway.

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Senators upend GOP health care bill in true Trump style… Twitter

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WASHINGTON — When Sens. Mike Lee and Jerry Moran decided they were in ready to disrupt the GOP rewrite of the health care law, they chose President Donald Trump’s favorite medium.

They could not support Senate Republicans’ plan, the somewhat unlikely pair of conservatives tweeted at 8:30 p.m. Monday night, giving no heads up to the White House or Senate leaders before pressing send.

The story behind the statement reveals two senators willing to be branded as bill killers and seemingly unconcerned with trying to soften the blow with party leaders.

The announcement, coming after some 10 days of conversations between the men, stunned official Washington and left Majority Leader Mitch McConnell at least two votes short in the closely divided Senate from being able to move forward with the GOP bill, effectively sinking the measure. It landed shortly after Trump dined with a group of senators to discuss strategy – unwittingly plotting a plan that would immediately become outdated.

Sen. John Cornyn, the second-ranking Republican leader, found out about Lee’s defection after the White House dinner of rosemary-grilled rib eye and summer vegetable succotash. He “had no idea it was coming,” Cornyn said.

Another Republican, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, found out from TV news.

Moran, a second-term lawmaker from Kansas who isn’t known for making waves, and Lee, a two-term senator from Utah who has clashed with Trump, have been talking over the past 10 days about the health care legislation and agreed the GOP bill did not go far enough to repeal Obamacare or address rising health-care costs. They decided to announce their position to make the bill’s fate clear and allow senators to move on, Moran said.

“It could have been prolonged for days or weeks while no one said anything,” Moran said in an interview.

Moran, who oversaw the Senate Republicans’ 2014 election campaigns, concluded last week he wouldn’t vote for the latest version of the bill but “gave myself a weekend in Kansas to think about it,” he said.

Lee had helped draft an amendment, along with fellow conservative Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, that would allow insurers to sell skimpy plans alongside more robust ones to lower costs. Cruz agreed to some changes in wording by GOP leaders, but Lee thought the new language allowed too many Obama-era regulations to remain in place.

After talking again, Moran and Lee agreed Monday night on a statement drafted earlier in the day. They issued their statement shortly after a White House dinner attended by seven GOP senators – all likely yes votes on the health care bill. Neither Lee nor Moran attended.

A Lee spokesman said the statement – and its timing – “had nothing to do with the White House dinner. It was not a reaction in any way.”

The statement was made public as soon as it was ready, the spokesman said.

Neither Trump nor McConnell received advance warning about the statement, although it’s likely that neither the president nor the Senate leader was completely surprised.

Trump and Vice President Mike Pence spent the weekend calling lawmakers, including Lee and at least seven other GOP senators, according to the administration. Trump talked politics, while Pence discussed policy.

Trump called Lee on Saturday, and Lee told the president he was leaning against the bill, for the reasons he later made public.

Lee told Utah’s KSL Newsradio that he had a great conversation with Trump, when he told the president his “consumer freedom” amendment had been weakened and that he wasn’t sure that he could support the bill.

“He was encouraging to me and said, you know, ‘Just see what changes you can make to it,’ ” Lee said.

Lee and McConnell did not talk over the weekend, but Lee spoke twice to Cornyn, R-Texas, the majority whip.

Trump, who frequently takes to Twitter to announce proposals or denounce opponents, was blindsided by, of all things, a tweet.

He told reporters Tuesday he was “very surprised when the two folks came out last night, because we thought they were in fairly good shape. But they did. And, you know, everybody has their own reason.”

Moran said while he remained committed to repealing the health care law, Congress needs to make a “fresh start” on writing a replacement bill in an “open legislative process.”

“We should not put our stamp of approval on bad policy,” he said, in a statement that followed the tweet.

In his own statement, Lee said the GOP bill does not repeal all the Obamacare tax increases and “doesn’t go far enough in lowering premiums for middle class families; nor does it create enough free space from the most costly Obamacare regulations.”

Both explanations were issued on social media.

“Twitter is a nice medium to get your message out,” Lee’s spokesman said.

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