As summer blazes into the sunset and the first campus beer bash of the semester beckons, try your best to cram in some extracurricular excitement as a parting salute to 2014’s hot weather high times.
Here are the 13 best reasons why this week won’t suck:
Redskins at Browns
After a dreadful 2013 (and 2012 and 2011), the Browns aim to reverse their fortunes of recent times by settling on the right starting quarterback for the year season ahead. Head coach Mike Pettine has stated this matchup with the Redskins will be essential in deciding whether Johnny Manziel or Brian Hoyer gets the QB nod. Expect that factor to make for a very interesting competition within the competition. On the Skins side, ex-Philly free agent DeSean Jackson is set to take the D.C. field for the first time.
The Shining in Bryant Park
Have you had enough sunshine, warm weather, and free-wheeling good vibes this summer? If so, run screaming to New York City’s Bryant Park and get chopped to bits by The Shining on a giant outdoor screen. Director Stanley Kubrick’s classic 1980 adaptation of Stephen King’s novel is a masterpiece of icy, claustrophobic terror in a snowbound Colorado resort. So come enjoy Jack Nichilson being driven homicidally mad by bloody visions and merciless ghosts while you laze in the hazy evening air oflate-summer midtown Manhattan among friendly strangers. It will probably sound cool when everybody yells “Heeere’s Johnny!” in unison.
The USA Pro Challenge
(August 18 – 24)
Cyclists, start your lungs! Nicknamed “America’s Race”, the USA Pro Challenge is an impossibly grueling bicycle competition through the Colorado Rocky Mountains in which participants peddle to increasingly high altitudes over the course of six days. More than one million spectators are expected to line the 550-mile course, which kicks off Monday in Aspen, then climbs 9,900 feet above sea level over Kebler Pass, which then leads to the 11,300-foot Monarch Pass from Gunnison to Monarch Mountain. From there, the race only gets more punishing. It all ends next Sunday in downtown Denver. Be there and be kind: bring an oxygen tank.
Telluride Mushroom Festival
Go be a fun guy at a multi-day celebration of fungi. This 33rd annual gathering of portobello boosters and shitake-heads serves up mushroom picking forays and group participation events on the nutritional, medical, and otherwise practical applications of nature’s inspiration for Smurf architecture. As for any psychedelic implications, consider that this year’s festival happens in honor a top-hatted, tie-dye-robed puppeteer with a wizard beard named “Art Goodtimes.”
Amazing Spider-Man 2 on Blu-ray
Movie Spidey Mach II’s much-maligned first sequel hits Blu-ray and proves to be worth a second spin. The sound and fury are what they are—awesome—while Andrew Garfield remains likably capable in the webslinger suit and Emma Stone ups her plucky charm to match the blockbuster madness around her. In the baddie roles, Jaime Foxx commits, well, electrifyingly as main villain Electro and Dane DeHaan deftly combines whiny and menacing as the emerging Green Goblin. The two-disc Blu-ray comes with the expected deleted scenes and making-of documentaries. Throw them all against the wall and they stick.
Braves at Pirates
While not an official rivalry, tension between Atlanta and Pittsburgh baseball fans has ignited some of the funniest and most spirited barroom trash talk we’ve ever heard—in both cities. Now with each team standing as definite playoff contenders, expect verbal tomahawks and Buccaneer swords to fly hilariously on Tuesday, as Ervin Santan takes the mound for the Braves and Vance Worley starts for the Pirates.
Diablo III: Reaper of Souls — Ultimate Edition
Arriving sooner than initially announced, Blizzard’s “Ultimate Edition” of diabolical gamer favorite Diablo III: Reaper of Souls drops Tuesday for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360.Pick up copy on launch day and it comes with a code for Infernal Pauldrons shoulder plates. Sound cool? Blizzard’s description makes them sound even cooler? “Wearable at level 1, these devilishly handsome shoulder plates provide bonuses to Vitality, Life per Second, and Cooldown Reduction, and are primed and ready for transmogrification.” See you in Hell!
Fading Gigolo on Blu-ray
John “The Jesus” Turturro wrote and directed this oddball indie comedy in which he and Woody Allen become studs-for-hire to service the likes of Sofia Vergara, Vanessa Paradis, and Sharon Stone. Isn’t that what you’d do if you were John Turturro? View this arthouse curiosity as the main feature in a film festival that also includes David Bowie in Just a Gigolo (1978), Richard Gere in American Gigolo (1980), and a bunch of busty b-movie space vixens in Galactic Gigolo (1987). Do we even need to mention Deuce Bigelow?
Deadly Hands of Kung Fu (Marvel Comics)
The coolest Marvel revival of recent times comes to a close with the fourth in a series of four issues of Deadly Hands of Kung Fu. Shang-Chi, Marvel’s resident martial arts mayhem maker, resolves the murder of Leiko Wu with no lack of flying foot-and-fist action. Writer Mike Benson and artist Tan Eng Huat have done absolutely right by the original 1970s incarnation of Deadly Hands of Kung Fu, which freaquently featured movie heroes on the order of Bruce Lee and Billy Jack on its covers. Here’s hoping Deadly Hands fights back to full-time status on the Marvel roster.
USA Basketball vs. The Dominican Republic
(August 20 | 7 PM EST | NBA TV)
The United States Men’s National Basketball Team is set to take on The Dominican Republic this Wednesday at Madison Square Garden, starting at 7 PM EST. While this game is “just” an exhibition, it will be the second-to-last time players will get to make an impression on the coaches before the final cuts.
Jack White at Red Rocks
America’s last, best guitar hero (until the next one) storms Colorado’s legendary Red Rocks Amphitheatre on tour to promote Lazaretto, his multi-tiered “Ultra LP” that literally has to be spun to be believed. Opening up is soulful contemporary blues belter Curtis Harding.
Luke Bryan at Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio
“Bro country”, “ballcap country”, “tailgate country” —Nashville’s big buzz marketing terms for the current incarnation of country radio hits that incorporate rock, pop, and hip-hop actually do seem to hit the nail on the what’s no longer a ten-gallon-hat-covered head. Luke Bryan is the single performer who most effectively personifies this 21st century update on the C&W tradition of story songs, hell-raising foot-stompers, and concerts that feel like down=home gatherings of friends. Pack the cooler, grab your honey, and pilot your pickup to Ohio for a night of old-time vibes and up-to-the-minute sounds.
Echo & The Bunnymen on Letterman
With the Cure headlining massive contemporary music festivals, Depeche Mode supplying the soundtrack to yogurt commercials, and Smiths t-shirts everywhere you look (not to mention ex-frontman Morrissey making weird news lately), 1980s British synth-goth “dark wave” stands as one of the leading influences on current indie rock, as well as nostalgia among fans who were too young have experienced it the first time. Echo & the Bunnymen, one of the original frown era’s most towering gloom squads, are presently out on tour playing shows that focus on their most drearily danceable ’80s favorites. Bunny leader Ian McCullough and his unhapp hutch are scheduled to close Late Show With David Letterman on Thursday.