The Water Cooler: The World's Most Adorable Reality Show, Los Angeles' The Broad Museum, And Being Late To The Party On A Great Podcast

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: Ben Pearson visits The Broad Museum, Ethan Anderton listens to My Brother, My Brother and Me, Hoai-Tran Bui binges the most adorable TV show in the world, Jacob Hall finally plots his RPG campaign, and Peter Sciretta auditions for The Magic Castle.

Infinity Room 1

Ben Pearson Went to Los Angeles's The Broad Museum

On Saturday, my wife and I visited The Broad Museum in downtown Los Angeles for the first time. It's a contemporary art museum that opened in 2015 and it has all sorts of cool pieces on display, from two Andy Warhol Campbell's Soup can paintings to a ten-foot-tall recreation of dining room furniture that you can walk under, transporting you back to childhood and the feeling of walking underneath your own dining room table. There's a huge statue that looks like a balloon art representation of a dog, and some experimental films about societal injustice, the soullessness of capitalism, and the process of creativity. I assume that's all typical contemporary art museum stuff – we're not normally big museum-goers.

One of the largest draws at the museum right now is the Infinity Room, an "experiential" temporary installation that consists of a mirror-lined chamber packed with tons of LED lights. General admission tickets to the Broad are free, but the Infinity Room requires a separate ticket once you get inside and – get this – each person is only allowed to be inside the room for between 45 seconds to one minute. But because the installation is so Instagram-friendly, people wait for hours on end to get inside. Seriously: we arrived around 2pm and, out of curiosity, asked someone what the wait time would be if we tried to get into that exhibit. The guy working there told us we'd have to put our name on a waiting list, and if there was room for us to get in at all, we'd need to wait five or six hours. For a 45 second walk through a room! That's way worse than waiting in line for a theme park ride, because those at least last about three minutes. Insanity.

If you're in the L.A. area and are more tolerant of lines than us, head on over to the museum and check out the Infinity Room for yourselves: it'll be on display until September 30, 2017.

My Brother, My Brother and Me

Ethan Anderton Started Listening to My Brother, My Brother and Me

At the recommendation of a couple friends, I started listening to the Maximum Fun podcast My Brother, My Brother and Me. Hosted by real life brothers Justin, Travis & Griffin McElroy, the podcast is self-described as an advice podcast for the modern era, featuring the trio answering questions posed to them by listeners or from the trenches of nonsense that is Yahoo Answers. But My Brother, My Brother and Me is so much more than that.

What I love about this podcast is the dynamic between the McElroy brothers. There's a familiarity and rhythm between them that makes for thoroughly entertaining conversation and hilarious improvised moments of comedy. There are plenty of tangents and recurring segments that venture outside of the advice spectrum, and it's thoroughly funny and clever, even when it ventures into silly territory.

This is a show that I'm certainly late to the party on since Justin, Travis and Griffin McElroy are podcast giants, but it's now part of my regular subscriptions. Now that I knew who these three are, I'm keen to check out their podcast The Adventure Zone, where they embarked on a game of Dungeons & Dragons with their father.

Hoai-Tran Bui is Watching Steven Yeun on the Korean Reality Show The Return of Superman

Have you ever wondered what the purest reality show could be? It exists, in a Korean variety show called The Return of Superman. It's basically a series about watching cute children eating delicious food and being spoiled by celebs. Well, not really, but that's a majority of it. The Return of Superman is a reality show that follows a select group of celebrity fathers as they try to take care of their kids for 48 hours without the moms. I've watched about 80 episodes, mainly to keep up with one of my favorite rappers, Tablo, as he bonded with his 3-year-old daughter Haru. (This was also BIGBANG-related as Tablo is their label mate, and there's an episode where Haru fangirls over G-Dragon.) It's funny and heartwarming and has sparked a dad parenting movement in South Korea (pretty revolutionary in a country that's quite traditional about gender norms). But most importantly, it's spawned tons of viral clips of the sweetest babies and their often-hapless dads. 

One of these viral clips comes courtesy of a Hollywood celebrity, Steven Yeun. You don't see a lot of Hollywood actors on this show. Most of the celebs visiting have some personal ties to the fathers featured on the show, or are some boy or girl group who are promoting that month. But I'm presuming Steven Yen's Okja promotions brought him over to Return of Superman, and thank goodness it did. Yeun's a new father with a 5-month-old baby and he came onto the show to visit William, the only kid of mixed race on the show. William's father, Sam Hammington, is an Australian comedian who works in Korea and has entertained some more international stars — including the viral BBC Dad and his infamous two kids who crashed his live interview. (That episode featured the girl, Marion, predictably yelping at and flashing William, it was great.)

Anyways, Steven Yeun got to show off his parenting skills and practice for when his son gets older. It's utterly charming. Though William instantly cries when he first sees Steven, they bond as Steven tries to feed him and ardent Walking Dead fan Sam gushes over him. They chat in both Korean and English — it's fascinating to see Steven struggle with his Korean and Korean food more than Sam — and take William to a Korean spa.

All of the episodes of The Return of Superman are subtitled in English on YouTube, I recommend watching a few if you ever need an escape from the drudge of 2017.

blades in the dark

Jacob Hall is Finally Ready to Get Blades in the Dark to the Table

A few weeks ago, I wrote about Blades in the Dark, the new tabletop roleplaying game from John Harper that had lit a fire under my imagination. Now, having finished reading the full book and printed (and laminated!) the various reference charts and studied the various maps and assembled a crew of willing players, my campaign through a haunted industrial fantasy city is about to begin.

Kind of. Plans to begin this weekend were scuttled by the news of a hurricane slamming into Texas and everyone decided to postpone rather than risk death on a watery road. Still, I'm choosing to look at this as an opportunity. Now I have an extra week to figure out exactly what this game is going to be. Or rather, now I have an extra week to figure out how to stay as loose as possible to let my players decide what kind of game this is going to be.

I previously wrote about how I love the Blades in the Dark system because it encourages storytelling and character-builing at all times while also finding ways to constantly snowball little problems into big problems. It's a game designed to transform simple missions into clusterfucks...and stories are always more fun when everything goes wrong.

But one of my favorite things about designing a Blades in the Dark campaign has been the decision to not fill in every blank or even build a roadmap for my players. The lore of the game book specifically leaves a lot of key blanks, offering a sketch instead of a completed picture, and I intend to let the players fill those in themselves as they learn more and invent the truths of this world. And rather than send them on a quest, I'm building a sandbox: a collection of possible enemies and allies and a list of possible events, all of which could come into play if the players poke in the right direction. But it's up to them to pursue the avenues that interest them.

For me, the best roleplaying games are conversations between the GM and the players. The players aren't here to play my story – they're here to create a story with me, using game mechanics as a basic structure to keep things from flying off the handle. I'm nervous about starting this game because I'm deliberately keeping myself from over-preparing. A large portion of the story we will tell, the adventure we will go on, will be decided in the moment by group of friends feeding on each other's ideas.

And I can't wait.

the magic castle

Peter Sciretta Auditioned For The Magic Castle

I first saw the Magic Castle in an old television special that I watched with my father. As a child, I became fascinated with magic and quickly became interested in performing some magic myself. My father (pictured above) would bring me to Hank Lee's Magic Shop in downtown Boston and I'd buy a new trick from the allowance money I had saved up. I never really wanted to become a professional magician, but magic is something that has followed me throughout my life. If you're one of my close friends, then you've probably seen a bunch of my card tricks over the years. I've even written about my passion for magic and its relation to movies on /Film in the past, and even about amazingly artful magic shows and visiting David Copperfield's secret magic museum.

When I moved to Los Angeles in 2010, I finally got my chance to visit The Magic Castle. For those of you who don't know, The Magic Castle is a private club in Hollywood for Magicians and their invited guests, filled with magic shows, roaming magicians, enchanted areas and a nice restaurant. After first visiting the Castle, I vowed to find a way to become a member of this prestigious place. If you are a member, you can come anytime you want – no cover charges or expensive dinners. You get to invite people to experience the Castle. And you get access to the magician library, private lectures from touring magicians, the ability to perform magic in the common performance areas of the castle, and much more.

My internet searches about the audition process led me to forum posts which frightened me and kept me from trying. I'm not a professional magician, merely a hobbyist, and was afraid I might not have what it takes to make it pass the audition.

So for the last seven years, I visited the Castle. I was even able to bring my father to the castle a couple years back. Over the years I have become friends with Magician members, who would encourage me to join. I would swat it off as something I might do sometime in the future, putting it off at a safe distance. Because if it was at that safe distance, I didn't need to worry about it.

But then I decided to go for it.

(You can read what happened next in Peter's full article about his audition.)