The Water Cooler: 'Big Brother' Season 19, 'The Secret History Of Hollywood' Podcast, And A Great Time Travel Board Game

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Welcome to The Water Cooler, a weekly feature where the /Film staff is free to go off-topic and talk about everything except the movies and TV shows they normally write about. In this edition: Ethan Anderton is watching Big Brother season 19 and enjoying the hell out of it, Peter Sciretta played Escape From 100 Million B.C., Ben Pearson is listening to an exceptional Hollywood history podcast, Hoai-Train Bui is trying out YouTube fitness videos, and Jacob Hall is having way too much fun with a quality flashlight.

Ethan Anderton is Watching Big Brother Season 19, Deal With It

Listen, we all have our vices. Mine just happens to be a reality show now on its 19th season. However, I haven't been watching this show from the beginning. There was a girl I dated who happened to be a big fan, so I got caught up in Big Brother during the 15th season and just couldn't give it up. The show is genuinely fun and it's quite addicting.

This season has been an interesting one so far after just a few episodes, including the surprising disappearance of one contestant who just couldn't deal with the stress of the game due to some tragic experiences from her past. There's also all the various temptations the cast are getting every episode, each with their own twist that keeps changing the game at every turn. I realize that this all may sound silly and melodramatic, and it is, but that's part of what makes the game so fun. Yes, it's absolutely a little sleazy as a bunch of attractive people in their 20s and 30s try to deceive each other, partake in physical challenges and generally make fools of themselves, but it's also quite entertaining.

If you're judging me, just know that I accept your judgment and I don't care. This is the only reality show that I watch, it's undoubtedly a guilty pleasure, and I love it. For anyone out there who may be watching as well, I think Cody is boring as hell, Josh is a trainwreck who needs to go home, Jessica is a deceptive vixen, Mark is my favorite guy on the show, Kevin looks like Sean Penn, Cameron didn't deserve to go out on opening night and Elena is definitely this season's crush for me.

escape from 100 million bc

Peter Sciretta Played Escape From 100 Million B.C.

Over the Independence Day weekend, I got together with friends for a tabletop game day. We played a few different board games, but I wanted to talk about Escape From 100 Million B.C., designed by Kevin Wilson (Descent, Arkham Horror, Game of Thrones) and released by IDW Games. I was attracted the to game because of its time-travel theme. As some of you know, I'm a bit of a time-travel fanatic and Back to the Future is my favorite film of all time. In this cooperative game, you play stranded time travelers hurrying to reassemble your ship because a nearby volcano is about to blow. Pieces of the time travel device and your equipment have been dispersed all over the island, which is, of course, inhabited by dinosaurs.

So it's a fun puzzle with dice chucking as you need to avoid the inhabitants of the world while trying to create as few changes as possible to the space time continuum. If you kill a dinosaur, that causes paradox. If you leave weapon or even snicker bar wrapper behind, that can cause a paradox. And there are also open time rifts that will occasionally spew castaways from other eras into your game. Some of these people are random, while others are famous historic figures that I won't spoil here. So not only do you have to worry about piecing the parts of the time travel machine back together, but you must recover as much of your equipment as possible and return any time travel castaways to their original eras before they get eaten by a dinosaur.

It's probably one of the most thematic cooperative games I've played. If I have one complaint, it's that the board art looks very bland. It's sad that a company that publishes some great looking comics couldn't have gotten the game board to look a little better. If only the stuff inside the box could look as epic and cool as that box cover! The components, which include a bunch of standees, also look a little cheap compared to other games released today. But the game itself is very solid and a lot of fun – I'd highly recommend it. The game is available on Amazon for under $50.

Hoai-Tran Bui is Trying to Get in Shape

We're in the swing of summer, which is probably late to start thinking about getting a "beach body." And I've honestly never felt the need to hit the gym or maintain my weight — mostly because the gym is the worst and I am lucky enough to have been relatively skinny most of my life. But I've been seeing the signs for a while that I should probably try to get in shape — first I saw an incredibly pregnant lady walk out of the fitness center at my office last week, then I was invited to a 4th of July party on Tuesday that seemed to be exclusively populated by rock climbers with rock hard abs. Seriously, I had never seen that many abs in one place before. I also tend to get winded going up most flights of stairs, so that was probably the first sign.

I'm 25 now, which I'm told is the age that most people stop relying on their youth to stay in shape, and start paying attention to their health. I believe that. I still hate the gym too much to try to go there every day, plus I have a packed schedule that only really allows me maybe two hours of free time a day. So I've been incessantly researching short, easy workouts to do at home — as computer screen addicts do — and actually found some good options. There's a "scientific 7-minute workout," published by the American College of Sports Medicine's Health and Fitness Journal, which is a high-intensity routine without any equipment that is supposedly the equivalent to 20 minutes at the gym. And fortunately for me, there are tons of YouTube videos that time and guide you along this workout routine. So I threw one on my TV, dug out my old college yoga mat, and tried it out. And it wasn't bad.

This, and some short yoga routines I also found on YouTube, may be the extent of my exercising for now, but hey it's a good first step. More than getting in shape, I want to be healthy and maybe not get winded going up the stairs.

secret history of hollywood

Ben Pearson is Listening to The Secret History of Hollywood

I'm always on the lookout for interesting podcasts, and it's a bonus when they can teach me things about the film world I didn't know before. Such is the case with The Secret History of Hollywood, Adam Roche's incredible podcast that tells the stories – in wonderful, painstaking detail – of a variety of different real-life people as they make their way through Hollywood in the early days of the movie industry. Oh, and by the way, these episodes can range anywhere from an hour and a half to a staggering nine hours long (yes, for a single episode!).

I realize that listening to a nine-hour podcast sounds ludicrous, but it's a testament to Roche's incredible storytelling ability that you get swept up in the true tales of his subjects and the time soars by. The writing is outstanding, the delivery is lyrical and energetic, and the whole show has a soulful feel that you wouldn't get from just reading biographies about the people he covers. I'd recommend starting with "Bullets and Blood," a series that covers the dual rise of the Warner Brothers (Harry, Albert, Jack, and Sam) and actor James Cagney. I thought I knew a thing or two about the Warner family, but listening to this series is like taking the best college class about them you can imagine and proved that I had only known about the tip of the iceberg. I was even more woefully uneducated when it comes to Cagney, so hearing his life story and how he managed to traverse the ups and downs of his career was an absolute thrill.

The show is currently in the midst of a series about producer Val Lewton, someone I knew almost nothing about beforehand, and I won't recount any of his story to you when The Secret History of Hollywood can do it infinitely better than I can. Do yourselves a favor: subscribe immediately and dive into the back catalogue of episodes – you won't regret it. Bonus: the podcast is so great, it attracted the attention of Mark Gatiss (Sherlock, Game of Thrones), who contributes his voice talents in the Val Lewton episodes. Believe me, this is must-listen stuff.


Jacob Hall is Obsessed With a New Flashlight

This is going to sound silly, but hear me out: I'm obsessed with my new flashlight.

Let me back up. You never notice just how many essential life things you don't have until you're getting ready to move into your first home. While discussing what we needed to purchase before our new house is finished next month, my wife and I realized we didn't own a flashlight. What would we do if we lost power? What would we do if a tornado ravaged our home and we needed to navigate a dark landscape filled with the wreckage of our former abode? Yes, we needed to buy a flashlight. Just in case. And since I was raised in a home where the flashlights where cheap plastic things that barely offered illumination with their tiny, dim bulbs, I decided to splurge a little. Treat yo self.

So I took to the internet and found a flashlight that seemed to fit the bill: the ThruNite Archer 2A V3. Retailing for $45.95 (but much cheaper on Amazon), this flashlight is small, lightweight, incapable of rolling away if sat down on its side, and surprisingly versatile. Despite its tiny size, it packs a wallop, with four settings that range from "firefly" (perfect for reading in bed without disturbing anyone) to a setting so powerful that it completely illuminates a pitch black room. For emergencies, there's also a strobe mode. And it's a simple device, too – there are only two buttons to be found here.

And while I bought the Archer because I want to be a Responsible Adult and a Prepared Homeowner, I won't lie to you: I've been playing with this non-stop for the past 24 hours. I'll lock myself in a closet and experiment with the various modes. I played detective in my darkened apartment. I drove to the nearby woods and explored, testing my new tool...but also reliving my childhood fantasy of stumbling across Bigfoot in the wilderness.

There's something so pure about owning a good flashlight. There's nothing to discuss or analyze. It's not art. It's just a useful device that will continue to work long after my books and movies and board games have perished in the post-apocalypse. As long as I have a supply of AA batteries, of course.