The Pierznik Monthly Volume 20 (November 2015)

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The latest edition of my monthly reading review list

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Christopher Pierznik is the author of eight books, all of which can be purchased in paperback and Kindle. His work has appeared on XXL, Cuepoint, Business Insider, The Cauldron, and many more. He has been quoted on Buzzfeed and Deadspin. Subscribe to his monthly reading review newsletter or follow him on Facebook or Twitter.

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Michael Jordan’s Performance as a Wizard Was Far Better Than You Remember

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The following is an excerpt from Christopher Pierznik’s new book In Defense Of… Supporting Underappreciated Artists, Athletes, Actors, and Albums, in which the author defends and celebrates individuals, teams, and projects that were unfairly maligned or misunderstood from the world of music, sports, TV & film. It can be purchased in both paperback and Kindle.

It was the perfect ending.

Continue reading “Michael Jordan’s Performance as a Wizard Was Far Better Than You Remember”

Flashback Friday Flop: “Encore”

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Welcome back to the latest edition of Flashback Friday Flop, a weekly feature in which I examine a hip-hop album from years ago that was considered a flop, either critically or commercially or both, when it was released and see if it has gotten better – or worse – over time. 

This week: Eminem’s Encore (2004)

By 2004, Eminem was at the height of his fame and notoriety. Over the previous four years, he had released two Grammy-winning, RIAA-certified diamond albums (at least 10 million copies sold in the U.S. alone) and starred in a commercially and critically successful film loosely based on his own life and also executive produced its soundtrack, which included one of the greatest hip-hop songs in history, one for which he won an Academy Award (“Lose Yourself”). He had also become a label head, founding Shady Records and overseeing releases from D12, Obie Trice, and rap’s newest superstar, 50 Cent.

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Quentin Tarantino’s Amateur Film

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Quentin Tarantino is a genius. We can argue the details, but as a filmmaker, he is almost unmatched. Pulp Fiction alone changed cinema forever. He can work in any style and deliver a fantastic film. Nearly every film is not only good or even great, but spectacular. Even his weakest effort (and the fact that no one can agree on what one that is) is better than nearly every filmmaker’s best work.

All of which makes My Best Friend’s Birthday a fascinating viewing experience. Co-written by Tarantino and Craig Hamann and directed by (and starring) Tarantino, the film was made from 1984 – 1987 on 16mm for an estimated $5,000 while Tarantino worked at a video store. (The Clerks parallels are pretty astounding.)

It was originally a 70-minute film, but due to a fire only 36 minutes of the film remains, and this cut has been screened at several film festivals. If you’re interested, the screenplay can be found online. Tarantino never attended film school, but he considers My Best Friend’s Birthday to be his coursework:

Tarantino has referred to this film as his ‘film school.’ Although the film was by his own admission very poorly directed, the experience gained from the film helped him in directing future films. Some of the dialogue would go on to be used in Quentin’s script True Romance.

It’s a bit of a mess and not just because only half of the film survives. The music is often louder than the dialogue and the editing is far from smooth. Unlike Clerks, it is not a great film on its own, but there are certain scenes and camera angles that show a window into a budding auteur  that would soon go on to change the game and the dialogue is unmistakably Tarantino:


Christopher Pierznik is the author of eight books, all of which can be purchased in paperback and Kindle. His work has appeared on XXL, Cuepoint, Business Insider, The Cauldron, and many more. He has been quoted on Buzzfeed and Deadspin. Subscribe to his monthly reading review newsletter or follow him on Facebook or Twitter.

Documentary Tuesday: “30 for 30 Short: The Deal – Alex Rodriguez to the Boston Red Sox”

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In late 2003, after losing to the New York Yankees in the ALCS again, the Boston Red Sox decided they needed to do something to get over the hump. At the same time, the Texas Rangers were beginning to regret their $252 million deal with superstar shortstop Alex Rodriguez.

A-Rod had watched the ALCS and, after floundering on losing teams, decided he needed to be part of the rivalry. He met with Theo Epstein and agreed to take a pay cut so that he could join the Sox. The deal was in place. Then it was vetoed by the Players Union and, as we all know, Rodriguez wound up in the Bronx. That year, the Red Sox won four straight to win the ALCS and, ultimately, the World Series.

This 30 for 30 speaks to (almost) all of the participants and gives a riveting look into the backroom dealings and makes one wonder how different baseball would have been if the deal had been approved.

Previously in Documentary Tuesday:

Room 237 | Exit Through the Gift Shop | The Death of Superman Lives | 30 for 30: The Price of Gold | Paradise Lost


Christopher Pierznik is the author of eight books, all of which can be purchased in paperback and Kindle. His work has appeared on XXL, Cuepoint, Business Insider, The Cauldron, and many more. He has been quoted on Buzzfeed and Deadspin. Subscribe to his monthly reading review newsletter or follow him on Facebook or Twitter.

Rewatching “Between Two Ferns”

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It doesn’t seem like it, but we are approaching the eighth anniversary of the premier of Between Two Ferns, the online interview show hosted by Zach Galifianakis. Although it has been airing since 2008, there are only a few episodes per year, totaling in just twenty episodes of the show on Funny or Die as well as one special on location in New York that aired on Comedy Central. In fact, there hasn’t been a new episode in over a year. The show is critically acclaimed – winning the Emmy for Outstanding Short-Format Live-Action Entertainment Program in 2014 and 2015 – and also a massive hit.

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Flashback Friday Flop: “Beats, Rhymes and Life”

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Welcome back to the latest edition of Flashback Friday Flop, a weekly feature in which I examine a hip-hop album from years ago that was considered a flop, either critically or commercially or both, when it was released and see if it has gotten better – or worse – over time. 

This week: A Tribe Called Quest’s Beats, Rhymes and Life (1996)

Last week, one of hip-hop’s greatest groups, A Tribe Called Quest, reunited on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and, with help from The Roots, performed their classic “Can I Kick It?” All four original members – Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, and Jarobi – performed together.

That song comes from their debut, People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm, which came out 25 years ago (the reason for the reunion). They followed that up with two undeniable classics, 1991’s The Low End Theory and Midnight Marauders in 1993.

Continue reading “Flashback Friday Flop: “Beats, Rhymes and Life””