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Sharknado Nation

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Now that we’ve experienced the phenomenon that is “Sharknado,” there’s no stopping the toothy creatures from taking over Hollywood. Here’s what a full-scale shark attack at the local cinema would look like.

SHARKS ON A PLANE

RAGING SHARK

RAIDERS OF THE LOST SHARK

SHARK OF STEEL

THE GREAT SHARKSBY

THE SHARKSHANK REDEMPTION

HONEY, I SHRANK THE SHARK

STAR TREK INTO SHARKNESS

IT’S A WONDERFUL SHARK

TRAINSHARKING

ZERO SHARK THIRTY

SOME LIKE IT SHARK

SHARKDOG MILLIONAIRE

MR. SHARK GOES TO WASHINGTON

GOSFORD SHARK

12 ANGRY SHARKS

THE SHARK WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE

BRAVESHARK

ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN SHARK

JURASSIC SHARK

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Independence Day Top 40

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Happy Independence Day, everyone. Here’s a List of Top 40 songs as envisioned by the folks who brought us the Declaration of Independence.

GEN. WASHINGTON’S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND

LIGHT MY FIREWORKS

IT’S MY TEA PARTY

STRAIGHT OUTTA CONCORD

VALLEY FORGE GURLS

STAND BY YOUR MINUTEMAN

CALL ME A DESPOT MAYBE

RED, WHITE AND BLUE SUEDE SHOES

WILL THE REAL BEN FRANKLIN PLEASE STAND UP?

MAMMAS DON’T LET YOUR BABIES GROW UP TO BE REDCOATS

SMELLS LIKE TEEN SPIRIT OF 76

Rock on, America.

Old Folks in Road Movies

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There’s a built-in poignancy about road movies involving codgers. Either they’re retracing footsteps of an embattled past, or they’re journeying into unknown territory in defiance of age and expectation. Either way, it can be engrossing to watch.

JACK NICHOLSON IN “ABOUT SCHMIDT”

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In “About Schmidt,” Jack Nicholson hits the road as a deeply ordinary man forced to question pretty much everything about how he’s lived his life. There are some very funny moments in RVs and a hot tub, but the overriding sense of sadness is strong. “About Schmidt” also boasts one of the most unusual choices for an ending that I’ve ever seen.

JANE DARWELL IN “THE GRAPES OF WRATH”

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It’s all there in her wonderful face: pain, fear, disappointment, resolve. Based on John Steinbeck’s great novel of Okies fleeing the dustbowl during the Depression, Darwell’s performance is rooted in a tragic, almost mystical view of travel as survival. She isn’t on the road seeking redemption or guidance. She wants to find a place for her family to live.

ALAN ARKIN IN “LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE”

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How great is this movie? Mr. Arkin’s work, in particular, is excellent. He takes a stock character, the cranky old guy, and knows exactly when to play him loud and when to play him soft. Road movies are always about the interior transformations and emotional movements, and “Little Miss Sunshine” wisely uses Arkin as a major catalyst.

ART CARNEY IN “HARRY AND TONTO”

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Art Carney won an Oscar as Harry, a philosophical widower tossed out of his New York City apartment. He roams the country with his cat, Tonto. Although this film has a few too many contrivances, it’s also undeniably moving. It makes a firm argument that loss and change can be accompanied by new experiences and new friendships.

JAMES EARL JONES IN “FIELD OF DREAMS”

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The great James Earl Jones isn’t the star of “Field of Dreams,” but his presence enlivens it immeasurably. His road from sarcastic skepticism to ardent belief in Kevin Costner’s quest is what gives the movie some zip at exactly the right moment.

GERALDINE PAGE IN “TRIP TO BOUNTIFUL”

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Page is heartbreaking in “Trip to Bountiful.” She plays an older woman, living with her shrill daughter-in-law and henpecked son, who wants to see her childhood home one last time. So she sneaks away and takes the bus. It’s such a quiet, winning performance; Page won a well-deserved Oscar for it.

RICHARD FARNSWORTH IN “THE STRAIGHT STORY”

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I’ll readily admit that I’d have been willing to plunk down full price to see and hear Richard Farnsworth recite the ingredients in soup. His manner had the simplicity and beauty of deep, still water. In “The Straight Story,” he plays a man who sets out on a riding lawnmower to visit his estranged brother, who lives in another state. It’s both boring and riveting, if that makes any sense.

And now, the Jimbo List is going to take a two-week break. Safe travels to one and all.

Singer Names That Are Just Sick

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Being a sick singer can mean one of two things. Either the cool kids think you’re so talented that you’re sick, or you’re a vocalist in need of medical treatment. Here are some instances of the latter.

SKEEVY WONDER

EWWIE LEWIS & THE NEWS

BLISTA RHYMES

WOO-Z

YUCKO ONO

RASHFORD AND SIMPSON

OW WOW

LICE GIRLS

NAUSEOUS BY NATURE

BLEECHH SABBATH

BLEARY MANILOW

MC REEK

PEACHES AND ERP

CHAKA CONGESTED

Come to think of it, I’m feeling a little verklempt myself.

The Best Workplace Sitcoms

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“The Office” sauntered into TV history last night, leaving longtime viewers wondering when another great workplace sitcom will come along. Actually, one is already going strong (I’m talking to you, “Parks and Recreation”) on the same network. Perhaps now is a good time to revisit the very best workplace sitcoms of all time.

30 ROCK

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The halls of NBC aren’t your typical workplace, but who cares? The office antics of Liz Lemon, Jack Donaghy and Tracy Jordan are as hilarious as anything TV has ever seen. Blerg.

BUFFALO BILL

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In one of the all-time best bits of casting, Dabney Coleman played the vain, sexist, sarcastic, needy host of a daytime TV show in upstate New York. “Buffalo Bill” was filled with razor-sharp writing and excellent performances by Joanna Cassidy, Geena Davis, John Fiedler and others. Can you imagine a scene between Coleman’s Bill Bittinger and Alec Baldwin’s Jack Donaghy?

M*A*S*H

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I almost left M*A*S*H off the List, since the workplace here is an Army hospital. Still, the 4077th’s ever-changing personnel and aura of difficult, noble work is a good fit. Great banter by people thrown together in a confined, insane situation.

NEWSRADIO

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“NewsRadio” had a classic workplace structure, masterfully executed. You had the endearingly odd Everyman (Dave Foley), the eccentric executive (Stephen Root), the egotistical talent (Phil Hartman), the nutjob (Andy Dick) and the dumb guy (Joe Rogan). There were no wasted moments on this show.

FAWLTY TOWERS

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Rarely has the small screen seen as brilliant a bumbler as Basil Fawlty, played by John Cleese. He presided over a wonderfully sketchy inn and restaurant in Britain, where pratfalls were common and visits by German tourists invariably led to inadvertent comments about Adolph Hitler.

THE OFFICE

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So many excellent characters populate the American version of “The Office,” including plucky Pam, dorky Dwight, ice queen Angela and always-joking Jim. But by far the most amazing thing about the show was Steve Carell’s carefully modulated performance as man-child boss Michael Scott. It didn’t happen all at once – the audience got to see Carell find exactly the right combination of stupidity and humanity during the first season. It remains a marvel.

THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW

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My fear is that with each passing year, this show becomes more of a museum piece. The pace, the look, the social themes, all seem antiquated now. Take my word for it, though, the crew at WJM pioneered the TV idea of an office being like a family.

THE LARRY SANDERS SHOW

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Where Mary Tyler Moore’s comedy flowed from sincerity, “Larry Sanders” emerged from a sublime sense of insincerity. Garry Shandling took his own observations about show business, mixed them with memories of Johnny Carson, and created one of the best shows ever. Plus, how could you go wrong with stellar support from Rip Torn and Jeffrey Tambor? Hey now!

BARNEY MILLER

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Each character in “Barney Miller” was a tiny gem of comedy craft. What a great ensemble, from Hal Linden and Ron Glass, to Jack Soo and Abe Vigoda. There was real affection in the writing and the acting, plus a healthy dose of absurdity.

MURPHY BROWN

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One thing tends to be forgotten when people recall the success of “Murphy Brown.” It was very funny. True, it had a progressive edge to it, with a galvanizing main performance by Candice Bergen. But it wouldn’t have lasted a full season without its sharp wit and genuine character development.

WKRP IN CINCINNATI

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Here’s a great example of a sitcom that started as a collection of stereotypes and gradually gelled into something special. The cast, playing employees at an Ohio radio station, beautifully blended and contrasted their many quirks. I particularly loved Howard Hesseman as Dr. Johnny Fever.

PARKS AND RECREATION

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Amy Poehler had a similar challenge in “Parks and Recreation” to what Steve Carell faced in “The Office.” How do you play a sitcom’s central character as an eccentric, rather than an Everywoman? But she’s done it, and done it very well. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say this is the best workplace comedy ever set in an Indiana municipal government building.

CHEERS

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“Cheers” is another great sitcom that you don’t automatically think of as a workplace sitcom. My argument would be that the best interplay on the show stemmed from Sam Malone’s intermingling of business, pleasure and friendship.

WINGS

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“Wings” was treated almost like a second-tier sitcom, but I defy anyone to watch a few episodes and not laugh. It was about a collection of odd characters working at a tiny airport on Cape Cod. Dynamite cast, too, including Tim Daly, Steven Weber, Crystal Bernard, Thomas Hayden Church and Tony Shalhoub.

TAXI

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There was an incredible creative spirit at work within the confines of the Sunshine Cab Co. Here were truly original characters (Louie DePalma, Latka Gravas, Rev. Jim Ignatowski, etc.) brought to life by expert actors, terrific writers and gifted director James Burrows. Beyond that, “Taxi” was soulful. It followed Alex Reiger and his fellow cabbies as they sorted out the territory that exists in-between our dreams and our actual daily lives. When you can laugh at that, you’re golden.

THE OFFICE (U.K. VERSION)

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Even though it yielded a great American remake, the British version of “The Office,” to my mind, was the best workplace sitcom ever filmed. Not only did it have a singularly brilliant central character (Ricky Gervais’ David Brent), it also NEVER pulled its punches. “The Office” is riotously funny, excruciatingly painful and deeply touching.

There you go, workers of the world. Be sure to add a few favorites of your own.

9 Things College Kids Should Explain to Their Parents

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Ah, graduation season. It’s a time for young men and women to tie a ribbon on all their years of education and launch themselves into the waiting world. Before they do so, they really need to sit their parents down and explain a few things.

PHOTOBOMBING WILL NOT GET YOU ON A TERRORIST WATCH LIST

MEMES ARE FUNNY; MIMES ARE NOT

STEAMPUNK DOES NOT REFER TO THE KID WHO WORKS AT THE DRY CLEANERS

CDs ARE NEVER COMING BACK

3D PRINTING HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE EYEGLASSES YOU PAY EXTRA FOR AT THE MOVIES

THE PROPER PRONUNCIATION OF SNAPCHAT

HOW TO TELL MICHAEL CERA AND JESSE EISENBERG APART

GARLIC POTATOES AND GNARLS BARKLEY ARE BOTH MASHABLE

DESPITE WHAT AUNT MILLIE SAYS, FLANNEL SHIRTS AND BUSHY BEARDS ARE A GOOD LOOK

Be gentle, kids.

Superfluous Singers in Movies

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For some reason, a lot of movie folks believe a good way to bring people into the theater is to plop a famous singer into the proceedings. Sometimes this works out quite well, such as when Barbra Streisand stars in “Funny Girl,” or when Justin Timberlake appears in “The Social Network.” But often it stinks.

TAYLOR SWIFT IN “VALENTINE’S DAY”

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In a film overcrowded with actors trying to work out various romantic entanglements, Swift’s contribution is exactly nil. Her subplot involves another acting lightweight (who doesn’t have a singing and songwriting career to fall back on), Taylor Lautner.

TRINI LOPEZ IN “THE DIRTY DOZEN”

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This didn’t work on any level. Lopez, a nice, amiable guy, was cast as part of a rotten, violent crew of deranged soldiers on a suicide mission. And then, he didn’t really have anything to do during the movie. His acting wasn’t anything to write home about either. He made Clint Walker look like Olivier.

BEYONCE IN “AUSTIN POWERS IN GOLDMEMBER”

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The great singer Beyonce isn’t a particularly good actress, but in all honesty, she wasn’t given much help in this comedy by the ever-inventive Mike Myers. Her dialogue was wretched and there was absolutely no attempt to create chemistry with Myers. I suspect Dr. Evil had a hand in it.

JAMES TAYLOR IN “TWO LANE BLACKTOP”

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“Two Lane Blacktop” has a legion of fans, and I understand why. Its atmospherics and vibe are uniquely compelling. It suits its early 1970s era. But I would argue that it would have worked just as well or better without Taylor (or co-star Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys). The dialogue was minimal and the characters had a laconic, empty feel to them. I know, I know – that was the point. Still, you didn’t need pop stars to accomplish it.

SNOOP LION IN “STARSKY & HUTCH”

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Aside from having Snoop wear some truly hilarious 1970s clothing, “Starsky & Hutch” didn’t give the illustrious rapper a reason to shine. I thought his TV commercials with Lee Iacocca were a lot funnier – and more intelligent.

JESSICA SIMPSON IN “THE DUKES OF HAZZARD”

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Admittedly, you’re not going to get new insights into the human condition by playing sexy Daisy Dukes. But it’s possible to at least be funny or knowingly sarcastic. Poor Jessica Simpson didn’t really have the chops to do either.

BOB DYLAN IN “PAT GARRETT AND BILLY THE KID”

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In a way, this was a perfect situation for Dylan to do some screen acting. Think about it. A 1970s, counter-culture take on the Old West almost requires a mumbling, awkward, self-conscious performance. Mission accomplished.

PHIL COLLINS IN “HOOK”

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Collins has had some stage training, so it’s not quite so unusual to see him in a movie. The odd thing is this particular role. It’s just a cameo, and a distracting one at that. Making it even worse is that “Hook” requires some attention to detail in order to follow the liberties taken with the Peter Pan story. The last thing viewers need is to be scratching their heads thinking, “What the hell is Phil Collins doing here?”

BOBBY VINTON IN “THE TRAIN ROBBERS”

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A person who watches “The Train Robbers” would be hard-pressed to say much about Bobby Vinton’s performance. It’s non-existent! Even worse, his scenes look as if an extra mistakenly walked onto the set after a smoke break.

TOM PETTY IN “THE POSTMAN”

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The cool thing about Petty here is he seems to understand how utterly weird it is to find him in a major motion picture. The bad thing is that we know it, too. If there’s a saving grace, it’s that “The Postman,” a post-apocalyptic fable starring Kevin Costner, is so downright goofy we sort of appreciate the nutty casting.

ASHANTI IN “JOHN TUCKER MUST DIE”

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Even a bitter, sarcastic teen movie needs a little acting to keep people interested. Ashanti tries her best, but it’s still painful to watch.

GLEN CAMPBELL IN “TRUE GRIT”

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Mr. Campbell, a singer whose voice I’ve always liked, remains the sentimental favorite in this category even after all these years. He often joked that his bad acting in “True Grit” was what enabled John Wayne to finally win an Oscar. He may have been right. Campbell’s line readings as a cocky Texas ranger have a certain William Shatner-like quality in their weirdness.

I’m sure there are plenty of good examples I’ve left out. Feel free to suggest more!

Anniversaries We Don’t Celebrate (But Should)

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For each of us, the calendar is filled with dates of special significance, from birthdays and anniversaries to holidays and days that live in infamy. So many, in fact, that they crowd out other anniversaries that we would do well to honor. Such as:

Your first successful “knock-knock” joke

The day you learned to whistle

First taste of watermelon

First time you successfully parallel parked with a friend in the car

The day you got your first paycheck

Hearing George Carlin for the first time

The time that idiot who tailgated you for 5 miles got pulled over by the cops

First time the person you voted for loses in a landslide

The day you learned that the spikes on ice climbing boots are called “crampons”

The first time your child says your name

Final trip to buy diapers

First time someone takes your advice because you look old enough to know stuff

That day you went into the Harley bar in your bike shorts because the sign said “BIKERS WELCOME”

First time your child buys you dinner

First time you watched a movie on your computer

The day you picked your grandparenting name

We’re all going to need much bigger calendars.

William Hurt – Superb Supporting Player

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Actor William Hurt did a rather incredible thing about 20 years ago. After more than a decade as a dashing leading man, he took a sharp turn into character acting. He wasn’t too old to play a lead; he hadn’t lost his box office stature. He simply went in another direction. Here’s a little gallery of some of his more remarkable supporting roles.

A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE (2005)

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Hurt earned an Oscar nomination for this role, playing a menacing, yet oddly engaging, gangster who confronts his estranged brother, played by Viggo Mortensen. The amazing thing is how effective he is despite the fact that he doesn’t appear until the end of the movie. I love seeing Hurt in more demonstrative parts, because it’s such a contrast to his subdued characters.

DARK CITY (1998)

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Here’s a case where Hurt’s star stature works subtly to elevate a small role and add a new dimension. This is a sprawling, weird, engrossing sci-fi movie with constantly-altered realities and manipulation. Hurt wisely doesn’t try to amplify his role – a detective – but his mere presence is like a welcome anchor of sanity for the audience.

MR. BROOKS (2007)

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Kevin Costner is a successful businessman who also happens to be a serial killer. He’s trying to tamp down his homicidal urges, but there’s one problem. Those urges constantly talk to him, in the form of William Hurt! It’s brilliant casting. Hurt is sarcastic, confident, critical and persistent.

MICHAEL (1996)

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In the Nora Ephron fantasy, “Michael,” Hurt is at the center of the story, playing a jaded tabloid reporter. Yet there’s never any doubt the star of the movie is John Travolta’s angel. This is perfect, because it allows Hurt to smolder and slowly unspool a bunch of emotions, big and small.

SYRIANA (2005)

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The challenge in a complex, political ensemble piece is to be believable and memorable without distracting the audience from following the story. In “Syriana,” Hurt deftly blends in as George Clooney’s CIA buddy. It’s a crucial role, in that Hurt fills in some important info to propel Clooney through the rest of the movie.

ONE TRUE THING (1998)

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Complicated, distant characters are a Hurt specialty. This is one of his best, playing the scholarly husband of Meryl Streep, whose character is dying of cancer. We see his fear, his anger, his conceit and his aloofness, but also his concern and his own self-loathing at his failings.

DAMAGES (2009)

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This could have devolved into simple stunt casting, having Hurt guest star in a show headlined by his co-star from “The Big Chill,” Glenn Close. Instead, Hurt invested himself in a meaty, intricate part as a scheming scientist.

SMOKE (1995)

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A quirky little movie, to be sure, but one with a very good performance by Hurt. He’s one of the customers of a Brooklyn cigar shop owned by Harvey Keitel. As the story unfolds, each character gets a chance for emotional healing, by virtue of slowing down, seeing the simple beauty of human interaction and understanding that life is as fleeting as a wisp of smoke.

INTO THE WILD (2007)

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What a thankless job, playing the conflicted, controlling, stern father of a young man who tragically wanders out west and up to Alaska to find the meaning of life. And yet, Hurt is remarkable. In particular, he has an emotional scene in the middle of a street which is powerful and intelligent.

Mr. Hurt, we salute you.

Music Festivals No One Wants to See

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The Jimbo List understands it’s never too early to make your summer music festival plans. After all, that perfect sunglasses-and-sandals combo isn’t just going to find itself, am I right? It’s also important to know which festivals to avoid. But never fear. Here is a handy List of events you’d do well to skip.

POUGHKEEPSIEPALOOZA

LIVE ACHE

KAMIKAZECON

ABUSIVE COACHELLA

SYRIAROO

CONCERT FOR A FREE BOCA RATON

GWYNETH FAIR

DRIFTWOODSTOCK

ANTFARM AID

And please remember: Don’t take the brown acid.