Ralphie May, ‘Last Comic Standing’ Comedian, Dead at 45

Ralphie May, the stand-up comedian who turned a second-place finish on Last Comic Standing into a successful career in comedy, died Friday in Las Vegas. He was 45.

May died of cardiac arrest following a brief battle with pneumonia, Variety reports. In September, May canceled a string of dates from his Unruly stand-up tour due to illness.

“We are heartbroken to announce the untimely death of our friend, Ralphie May. Ralphie had been battling pneumonia and had cancelled a handful of dates over the last month in an effort to recover. Earlier this morning at a private residence in Las Vegas his body was discovered, cause of death is cardiac arrest,” the comedian’s rep said in a statement posted on Facebook.

“Two days ago he won the Casino Comedian of the Year at the Global Gaming Expo and had performances throughout the remainder of 2017 as part of his residency at Harrah’s Las Vegas.”

On September 22nd, after canceling a Colorado Springs concert, May wrote on Facebook, “I can’t shake this bronchitis and the altitude is no joke.”

Known for his distinct delivery and outsized personality and stage presence, May finished second on the inaugural season of Last Comic Standing in 2003. Over the next 15 years, the Arkansas-raised May went on to star in four Comedy Central comedy specials as well as a pair of Netflix specials, Imperfectly Yours and Unruly. In 2016, May appeared alongside Amy Schumer, another one-time Last Comic Standing contestant, in an Inside Amy Schumer sketch.

Following news of May’s death, dozens in the comedy community paid tribute to the stand-up on social media.

“Wow….I was just told that Ralphie May passed. I’m truly saddened by this. He was a good dude. Heaven just got another funny angel RIP man,” Kevin Hart tweeted, while Marc Maron wrote, “Damn. RIP Ralphie May. Comic warrior.”

“Ralphie May RIP funny man. We shared good talks & good laughs . See you on the other side kid,” Jim Breuer wrote. Ken Jeong tweeted, ” This hurts too much. @Ralphie_May helped me so much. Rest In Peace. Thank you for all the love you have given me. Thank you for everything.”

 

Blade Runner 2049 is smart, interesting and very languid

When rewatching the original Blade Runner (1982) in anticipation of the most-heralded movie event of 2017, one is struck by several thoughts.

Principally, there is a disorienting sense that what you’re watching is more familiar from the myriad cinematic moments imitated in subsequent movies – from the Vangelis synth soundtrack and rain-drenched dystopia to the soaring cinematography across its night-time cityscapes.

You also notice how optimistic director Ridley Scott was 35 years ago, when envisaging the technology we might hope to see in 2019 (the year that Harrison Ford’s Deckard first hunted replicants on the big screen). Granted, characters make video calls (albeit only using payphones), but we’ve nearly caught up time-wise and I’m still waiting for someone to invent a domestic step-inside hair-dryer.

Thirty years on, Agent K (Ryan Gosling) is an LAPD-employed blade runner, tasked with “retiring” the older model replicants who provoked rebellion in times past. He stumbles upon a cold case mystery which his boss (Robin Wright) wants silenced, but which deepens into a rabbit hole from which he cannot climb out.

As it turns out, the first rule of discussing the new Blade Runner is to not say very much at all. With a well-written plot which pairs professional duty with personal yearning, the clever intricacies are best left for the viewer to discover. But since the second rule of the new Blade Runner is its fans already know who they are, it must be said that you should not venture into 2049‘s near three-hour run-time until you’ve watched its forerunner.

To this end, the thrills of celebrated director Denis Villeneuve’s (Incendies, Sicario, Arrival) gorgeous update derive largely from the evident reverence shown to the source material. Hans Zimmer’s soundtrack lands smartly somewhere between Vangelis-esque and the motifs of Villeneuve’s regular collaborator, Johann Johannsson, and the world-building so emblematic in the first film is expanded here, with dimly lit rooms, shimmering water shadows and Villeneuve’s trademark golden hues.

The writing team, too, seems like an astute choice: old-timer Hampton Fancher, one of the original writers on Blade Runner, whose subsequent writing credits have mostly revolved around that title, and younger-bod Michael Green, who birthed more contemporary action dramas Logan and Alien: Covenant.

But as to its pace, be warned: Blade Runner 2049 is no modern-day action-thriller, and its rewards are instead delivered by being smart, interesting and very languid.

Apart from our male leads (Gosling is terrific and Ford shows more emotion in his dotage) and the contemporary powerhouse that is Robin Wright, the cast comprises mostly unfamiliar faces, hailing from Cuba, Hungary, Sweden, Somalia and even South London.

The women are suitably strong and beautiful, and although there are a few too many nude female figures on display, the story’s sexual content is intellectually interesting in its rendering, but too tricksy to evoke either sexual or emotional feeling. (At least there’s no dubious, squirm-inducing “love scene” like they did it back in 1982.)

Villeneuve has taken the double-edged sword of the update and created a Blade Runner 2049 worthy of honouring its ancestor, while bringing it appropriately into the mid-21st Century.

Fresh mix: London Cocktail Week’s most interesting drinks

The competition is on for the best negroni as mixologists beat a path to the capital for Cocktail Week, says Samuel Fishwick

The bartenders’ eyes lock across Quo Vadis’s Marx Room in Soho, the air thick with the smell of campari and sweet vermouth. This is where the perfect Negroni is born: they are limbering up for the annual Soho Negroni Challenge, a gladiatorial cocktail-making championship on October 25.

“The Negroni is a king among drinks, and while I am eternally wary of tampering with a classic, we do also like to celebrate inventiveness and ingenuity,” says Quo Vadis’s owner Jeremy Lee, who hosts the event with Hackney restaurant Pidgin. Professional bartenders compete, and St John’s redoubtable supremo Fergus Henderson triumphed last year. There’s no limit to the ingredients, technique or garnishes, however, and the drink should resonate with the judges as being somewhere within the Negroni wheelhouse. “Last year’s Soho Negroni Challenge involved much hilarity and charm and we look forward to welcoming more valiant entrants to this curious competition this year.”

Still, that’s all in the future. October is bookended by big dates in the cocktail calendar, with the Negroni Challenge at the end of the month and London Cocktail Week upon us already. LCW is in its eighth year now — as the UK’s biggest drinks festival, it’s more about the mix than ever, with a number of collaborations between barmen around town teaming up to create something new. Collaborations mean it’s getting competitive, with mixologists going head to head to outdo each other.

“If you’ve got the right people around then it’s good to have complementing and contrasting opinions,” says Will Sleeman, head bartender of Super Lyan in Hoxton, who kicked off LCW on Monday with a takeover from award-winning Melbourne bar Black Pearl. The menu was built around Bacardi and everyone had a rum old time with drinks such as Sleeman’s signature Three Drop Swizzle, a punchy blend of Star of Bombay and pine syrup.

“Everyone draws on help and inspiration from the people around them, and being able to collaborate means you get different perspectives,” he adds. People have come from all over the world to be part of the London scene. On Friday, Moorgate’s hidden classics cocktail bar Devil’s Darling will be transporting guests to Paris when it hosts two of the French capital’s best bartenders, Aurélie Panhelleux, co-owner of Copperbay, and Hyacinthe Lescouët of Les Grands Verres.

“You can get a taste of Paris’s cocktail scene without having to leave London,” says Thomas Aske, co-founder of The Devil’s Darling. “Each of these individual bartenders are getting to present their own take, meaning there will be three very different bar experiences within one evening. In that respect, two pairs of hands are better than one.”

They’ll be playing with mixers such as Pernod Absinthe and Suze, a classic French spirit. Panhelleux’s Down the Boulevardier is a heady mix; one part Suze Saveurs D’autrefois, one part toasted orange wood bourbon, and one part salty cider vermouth.

At Behind the Wall, the tiny vinyl and cocktail bar in Hackney’s Mare Street, the global theme continues, with an immersive “travel” experience to celebrate a collaboration with drinks brands Belsazar (cool, classy Vermouth) and Starward (a New World malt whisky).

Each guest tries one cocktail from each side of the bar — a cocktail journey from Berlin (Belsazar) to Melbourne (Staward). They will be given a boarding pass and passport on their way in which will be stamped by their server to mark the journey they have taken. On the Belsazar side, there will be graffiti and Black Forest “foliage”, while on the Starward side there will be a wall of plants representing the four season cycles.

The Mountbatten is their “elegant twist on a Manhattan” made using both vermouth and whisky. “It still only uses three ingredients, but made with things like Rosé Vermouth, which make it totally delicious but completely unique” says owner Alex Harris. “This is my secret weapon for London Cocktail Week. I defy anyone not to love it.”

Not to be outdone, the East London Liquor Company is teaming up with Neo Bistro, Mark Jarvis and Alex Harper’s new style bistro on Woodstock Street, to create a one-off tasting menu with four specially created cocktails.

Magpie, meanwhile, is celebrating LCW in Mayfair with a secret whisky breakfast menu, teaming up with bartenders the Skye Scotch distiller. Ajax Kentish from Magpie and Ali Reynolds from Talisker have put their heads together to re-create their Bloody Mary and Morning Glory with a dram of whiskey, and also design a new Smokey Marmalade cocktail with the single malt, while rounding the collaboration off Ali will also be putting in a guest shift behind the Magpie bar this Friday. Then, finally, you can toast the season with a late October negroni. Bottoms up.

The Five Most Interesting Things That Happened on the Second Day of ‘TRL’

Noah Cyrus performs onstage during her ‘Witness: The Tour’ tour at PPG PAINTS Arena on Sept. 22, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Penn.

Yesterday (Oct.3), TRL aired its second episode, featuring guests PRETTYMUCH, Noah Cyrus, and Playboi Carti. The TRL reboot is almost unrecognizable, with a fresh-take fit for Millennials that discards the music videos that defined the original program and instead focuses on contests and performances. If you couldn’t tune in to the episode, here are the five most interesting moments you missed.

Tom Petty Tribute

Like its premiere, in which the hosts were forced to respond to the shocking devastation of the mass shooting in Las Vegas, TRL once again had to grapple with real-life tragedy in the unexpected loss of rock legend Tom Petty late Monday (Oct. 2). Petty may not have been an artist that TRL’s target audience deeply cared about, but as the music industry mourns Petty — who was an icon of MTV in the ’80s and ’90s — it felt necessary to acknowledge him.

The show dedicated a tribute segment for Petty, showing clips of him winning the Michael Jackson Vanguard Award at the MTV Video Music Awards in 1994. What resulted was short commentary by hosts DC Young Fly and Gaby Wilson, who struggled to find words to describe this loss. To its credit, the show did the best it could to continue even in the wake of tragedy.

PRETTYMUCH dancing to bhangra 

PRETTYMUCH are the new boy band created by Simon Cowell, one of a series of new male vocal groups filling the void left in the wake of One Direction’s hiatus. After bringing up two fans from Times Square who danced their way to TRL, the group played a game where they had to spin the wheel of genres and dance to the one it lands in, busting a move to traditional Punjabi bhangra.

Noah Cyrus wants to be on American Horror Story

Noah Cyrus, who has an upcoming show in New York City at Madison Square Garden with Katy Perry, stopped by TRL. When asked if she’d ever consider giving acting another try, Cyrus — who played multiple small roles in her sister Miley’s Hannah Montana series a decade ago, and has appeared in various other movies and TV shows — said that she’s not sure, but would definitely jump at the opportunity to appear on American Horror Story or any horror film in general, as long as she gets to play a paranormal character.

Playboi Carti’s Milly Rock dance competition 

Playboi Carti hosted a Milly Rock contest, where three lucky contestants got to show off their dance moves. Ultimately, the third contestant was the one who got everyone dancing, having DC Young Fly on the ground dancing along too.

Oh Hell No segment

In the show’s “Oh Hell No” segment, fans were asked to decide whether they’d be into certain questionable trends. This time, it was the Balenciaga crocs that have become an Internet sensation. The participants were split between “Oh hell no!” and “I’d rock that.”

Billboard Video

Lucifer Season 3, Episode 1 Review: An Interesting Status Quo Change

Lucifer Season 3 sets up a new status quo for the devil, as revealed in the Season 2 finale, with a set of angel wings and new dangers.

Creator: Tom Kapinos
Summary: Lucifer Morningstar has decided he’s had enough of being the dutiful servant in Hell and decides to spend some time on Earth to better understand humanity. He settles in Los Angeles — the City of Angels.

When we last left our favorite devil, he’d just sent his mother to a different dimension and was getting ready to tell Chloe who he really is. Cut to blade and we see Lucifer wake up in a desert, and now he has angel wings. That sets up an interesting new dynamic not only with Lucifer as a character, but also with the world around him. Has God returned Lucifer’s wings? Do they symbolize something bigger or greater? Or is God somehow not behind the wings returning? These are some of the questions the first episodes looks to answer, or at least pose.

We also get a new dynamic at the police station with the introduction of a new lieutenant Marcus Pierce, played by Tom Welling. There are people telling us that he’s really nice, but he really doesn’t seem to care for Chloe or Dan at all. So there are major changes for all of the characters in almost all aspects of their lives. The change is good, though, because it means that the show gets to play with our expectations a bit. As soon as Pierce walks in, we expect him to be all over Chloe, but he isn’t. We expect Amenadiel to react a certain way when he finds out Lucifer has his wings back, but he doesn’t, and it turns out it goes another way.

The things that have kept fans invested from the beginning are still present and more than accounted for. Lucifer and Chloe’s dynamic unfortunately remains the same, despite the hint that we were finally going to see a significant change. Lucifer and Dan still spar, but the development between the two of them is improving. Amenadiel and Lucifer are probably the best dynamic now because they actually act like brothers rather than enemies, and it’s always entertaining to watch. Linda only has a brief appearance, but the moment she does have is probably one of the sweetest interactions her and Lucifer have ever had. The writing for Ella continues to be fantastic, and it’s amazing that they’ve managed to create such an interesting character.

Lucifer Season 3, Episode 1 is off to a promising start, and the season-long plot that they set up seems like it’s going to be interesting. It seems like they are leaning into their own mythology, and considering how much that improved the last season, we can hope this one is just as good.

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5 interesting facts about Married at First Sight South Africa

Cape Town – The second season of the hit show Married At First Sight South Africa premieres on Friday, 6 October on Lifetime (DStv 131).

The second ‘super-sized’ local season of the international reality series, has been increased to nine captivating episodes, from six last season.

We got the scoop from executive producer Rebecca Fuller-Campbell for some interesting facts about the show.

1. Hundreds of people entered!

700 people entered for the second season of the show. There are even people who tried to apply for the next season.

2. The matching process

Unlike other reality shows there isn’t an audition process but rather matching workshops. The process takes several months and includes: Psychiatric assessments, sexual health checks, background checks, financial assessments as well as a whole host of personality tests and workshops. It takes approximately four months from call to entry to final matching. The core part of the series is shot over nine weeks from matching announcements to the final decisions.

3. No sneak peeks

Female and male applicants meet on separate days, as the only time the chosen pair will see each other is on the wedding day. Some of the applicants had met before, but no close friends were at the workshops. It’s generally a very personal journey and doesn’t tend to attract friends applying together.

4. A case of cold feet

There have been participants who withdraw at the final stage after being matched. Participants are constantly encouraged to be sure of what they are doing, no one is forced into marriage. The marriage is real so everyone has to be 100% sure before going through with the ‘I do’s’!

5. The strangest reaction from a family member

“We had a mother who on camera was very accepting and understanding but did not agree with the process and voiced some doubts. But then when she thought we weren’t filming voiced her real opinions, starting with an expletive,” says Fuller-Campbell.

Watch a promo here:

Review: ‘Abigail/1702’ provides interesting night at the theater

Nebraska Repertory Theatre has kicked off its 49th year with a production of “Abigail/1702,” and it is a corker.

Playing out of the Johnny Carson Theater at the Lied Center for Performing Arts, the Rep now defines itself as a professional regional theater and offers students in the instructional program of the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film a chance to work with theater professionals year-round.

So it is that professional actress Abbey Siegworth leads the cast as Abigail Williams and professional actor Don Richard plays several key roles, including a smarmy Devil. Lincoln’s Virginia Smith rounds out the professional lineup of actors who build a strong framework for the storyline.

The concept of the play is that it extends the story begun in Arthur Miller’s American classic “The Crucible,” imaging what might have happened to Abigail Williams, the witchcraft accuser, 10 years after the end of Miller’s play, in 1702. The idea is a fascinating one and, before the play ends, the audience is led to consider the great issues of the nature of good and evil, damnation and redemption.

A group of 14 performers, including UNL undergraduates, graduate students and some graduates, comprise the rest of the company and what a company it is. Each seems to be a fine individual vocal performer and together they form an a capella chorale that provides all the music for the production.

The technical aspects of the show are excellent, starting with a four-tiered circular stage of which two tiers revolve, constructed in the black box of the Johnny Carson theater. The stage serves the play well and adds motion and visual interest to the dialogue-heavy piece.

Director Andy Park, in his Lincoln debut, makes full use of the house, sending his cast into the audience and up the aisles, again adding life and movement to the piece.

Altogether, the production works and provides an interesting night at the theater. The new Rep is off and running in a good direction.