Pop Culture

Not So Amazing

In the midst of a writer's strike [which I really should comment on sometime] my hope was put in a good season of Amazing Race to hold my attention. Unfortunately, it seems the producers settled for parity this year instead of excellence. None of the teams on this year's edition could win in any other season. It makes for a race that any team could conceivably win, which could keep it interesting, but I'm thinking it will soon get annoying. From the typical beauty queens, to the brother/sister team that think they're the smartest, to the goth couple from Louisville that would get laughed at by goth people from a major metropolitan area [no real goth people continually talk about themselves like they do], it's set up to be a season of mediocrity.

Here's to hoping for a few compelling break-downs to keep me into it.

Not A South Park Guy

. . . but tonight's espidode was about Guitar Hero so I had to watch. Very funny take. I still don't get why people flush so much time into to fake guitar playing. Also, this commercial kept coming on about a new video game called Assassin's Creed that takes place during Crusader era in the Holy Land. I am not a gamer, but it looks pretty sweet . . . probably cheaper than a Holy Land tour too.

Endorsed By Beit Carr

As you continue to nail down your fall television viewing schedule, do yourself a favor and catch the pilot of Pushing Daisies over at ABC's website; you can watch the entire first episode free with limited commercial interruption. This is one of the more creative shows I've seen come out in years. I'd explain the premise but you'd do better to watch it to find out.

Catch it now before all the cool kids are doing it.

TV Thoughts

Last night we hosted an intimate gathering of The Office fanatics to watch the season premiere. I thought the second half hour was better than the first [did they try too hard at the beginning?] but having Meredith hit by a car to start the season was brilliant. I ask, though, how will a Pam/Jim relationship work over the long haul? At what point do they have a major relationship blow-up? You know it's gotta happen, otherwise it wouldn't be television. Still, if you're not watching this show, you're not in the cool kids club. As we were waiting for some late-comers to arrive before we started watching last night [again, DVR is Mc-awesome] we were lulled into watching Grey's Anatomy. Now I have never seen this show before [I liked it better the first time when it was ER, and the second time when it was Scrubs], but I'm always willing to give a show a shot.

I should've shot it in the head and put all of us out of our misery.

Besides finding many of the people annoying, I can't picture McDreamy without seeing the African Anteater Dance from Can't Buy Me Love. Seriously, I'm thinking that Survivor has more redeemable value than this crap. So you Grey's fans can look around your feet, because the gauntlet has been thrown down. Do your best to defend this mindless dribble as it's as nutritious as cotton candy.

*For some really compelling television, I still suggest checking out Ken Burns' The War on PBS. They're showing all the previous episodes this Sunday afternoon.

You Should Be Watching . . .

. . . the Ken Burns PBS documentary The War. If you do, you will be hard-pressed to disagree with Tom Brokaw that those Americans were indeed the Greatest Generation. I'm still catching up after DVRing the first three episodes but, if you want to start in tonight, they're showing D-Day. I'm sure they'll re-air it eventually, but it's absolutely riveting footage.

I can't imagine we could ever do that again.

Wanted: Addiction Recovery Group

I'm afraid my wife needs some help. She's addicted to The Office. About this time of night she'll being throwing out some arbitrary fact about the show. Tonight she informed me that there'll be a convention in Scranton this October. If we didn't have a family wedding to attend, I know she'd be there. I'll admit, I like the show too, but her fanaticism is incomparable. I can't keep her away from it. It's so hard ["that's what she said"].

Prove to me she needs no help: let us know your favorite Office quote.

Paris In Captivity

A quick search of my Wordpress archives showed that I've only written the words "Paris Hilton" once and that was in a post pleading for people to stop consuming these non-newsworthy news items. But seeing as CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, and heck, even the Cincinnati Enquirer all list her re-incarceration as the top news story of the afternoon, I thought I should chime in about the situation. What good is nailing her prosecuting her to the fullest extent of the law helping the general public? I'm pretty sure that all the controversy surrounding this trial/incarceration has cost tax payers much more than Paris' punishment is worth. Do you actually think that Paris will spend any prison time among the general population? Doubtful. It's just too much cost for not enough return, especially considering that Los Angeles is notorious for releasing non-violent criminals from prison without serving their full terms.

Look, I'm not saying that she doesn't deserve to be punished, but all this is doing is creating a media frenzy and, additionally, perpetuating Paris' unearned fame. You know Mark Burnett already has the reality series drawn up for Spring 2008: Celebrity Big-House with your host Paris Hilton. It would have to be on Fox.

Actually, house confinement would've been a perfect solution. They could've extended it to make up for the comforts of home. But now we'll have to endure a month and a half of updates about this crap. Thanks, LA.

May I never have to type "Paris Hilton" again.

I'm Evil

Thanks to the heads-up from DG we had the chance to hit a preview of Evan Almighty last night. Kelly did a great run-down of it over on her blog, but I just have to make a sad confession: I don't like being in public with large Christian groups.

Last night, the theatre [British spelling] was packed and it was teeming with awkward we're-in-public-but-we're-around-Christian-people-so-it's just-an-extension-of-Sunday-School actions last night.

For instance, in what other setting would you see people in their 40's hurling popcorn at people three rows away [true, Tye?]? Where else would you find a group of people who decided to order a pizza in a theater [American spelling] and ask the person in charge to make sure they would personally seek them out to get it delivered? In what public gathering would you witness people reserving huge blocks of seats? And who else would attend a free screening of a film that won't be released for another few weeks but want to get their $2 parking validated?

And although the movie was rather entertaining, there's no way that it would elicit those kinds of boisterous laughs among a more secular audience.  It was all somewhat . . . embarrassing.

After an experience like this you can fully understand those churches that stress relevance and being cool as a number one priority. They too have been in such a setting and want to make sure their friends don't think Christianity is lame [is it still hip to say "lame"?] so they start a church that has a rockin' band, slammin' video, and totally rad relevant sermon.

So are our choices as Christians between hipster shallowness and nerdy insightfulness?

I don't think so, but I really wanted to write that sentence.

Let's just make a deal [or for hardcore Biblical believers, a covenant]: next time you're out in a crowd with a large group of Christians, let's all remember that there's more to a good witness than a KJV Bible, Stryper t-shirt, and WWJD bracelet.

Just play it cool, boy . . . real cool.

Why American Idol Sucks

I was in class tonight so we DVR'd tonight's American Idol finale. For some strange reason, probably the fact that we know own a DVR, we've watched about every week this year from beginning to now. So Kelly and I sat here and endured the crazy sing-alongs [do these kids know who Smokey Robinson is?], the random pairings [Joe Perry loses major street cred singing with Sanjaya], and insane special performances [was Bette Middler toasted or what?] to get to finally see who will win this thing.

By the time they're doing the American Idol tribute to Sgt. Pepper [nothing like watching angelic AI contestants sing about getting "high with a little help from my friends"] I notice the clock. This show is running late. I start doing the math and realize that we're not going to make it to the end. Sure enough, the commercial break before the announcement our DVR stopped recording. We watched an hour and twenty minutes of slop and were deprived dessert.

Don't chastise me that I should know better and should've added extra recording time. This isn't a sporting event where there's supposed to be overtime. It's freakin' American Idol. Instead of letting Clive Davis ramble on while promoting his record company, they should've focused on getting to the actual announcement. I wonder how long they actually showed the announcement. I'd guess that from the time Ryan announced the winner to the time they went of air was thirty seconds total. Why even have a winner? Just let everyone sing. So now we had to search on the internet to discover that Jordin won. Hooray. Thanks for the memories.

Don't hook me in to your stupid show if you're going to take advantage of me.

Just kidding. I'll be watching again next year.

Come On, DJ, Play My Song

I would say that Susan Cagle is one smart cookie. The aspiring musical artist was searching for a schtick that would get her some publicity so she pens the song Dear Oprah. Of course, Mrs Stedman has her own her show to perform her song. Needless to say, people now know who Susan Cagle is. One of the lyrics goes like this:

"Dear Oprah, Have you ever felt like breakin’ down/ when there ain't no one who cares around/did ever you feel this way back in the day so blue/ what did you do?"

I'm thinking I should do something similar in an effort to get some free publicity for Echo. Since Oprah's already taken, I'll have to set my sights on another target.

Be on the lookout for my single, Dear Jerry, to be released this fall. One of the lyrics will probably be:

"Dear Jerry, have you ever felt so strung out/hosting a show featuring little people being tossed about/ Steve's bald head creating a glare/obscuring the view of a tranny's bare derriere."

That's all I have so far.

Did I Miss Something?

Watching television yesterday and there was a commercial for the 20th anniversary of Dirty Dancing. I wasn't paying attention until I heard Patrick Swayze make the follow statement:

 "It was a film about the rediscovery of innocence."

Really, Patrick? Because besides the whole "nobody puts Baby in the corner" thing, I'm not sure the flick rediscovers anyone's innocence. You sure you're thinking about Dirty Dancing and not To Wong Foo: Thanks For Everything?

Keep The Faith

We're still watching American Idol. I think it's almost like a school assignment: something I need to see all the way through. If we didn't have DVR, I'd never watch this crap. I say "this crap" because I still think this is a pretty rough line-up. You have Melinda, who has the pipes, but should be auditioning for a Broadway show. Jordin has another phenomenal voice, but she's hit and miss. Everyone else is lucky to be there. So why do I put myself through this torture? For little gems like tonight:

Bon Jovi songs.

So I go into the evening excited because I'm a huge Bon Jovi fan. I know, I lose a little street-cred for liking a ballad singing, big-hair band who know release country music but I can live with myself.  They rock. Everyone knows it.

True Story: when I was visiting my sister's family a few months ago, we were driving around in their car. Her kids wanted some tunes and she popped in Bon Jovi's Greatest Hits. I asked her if they liked his music and she stated that they loved it. I was skeptical until I heard the twins' four-year old voices belting out in unison, "Whoa, we're haf-way there! Whoa, livin' on 'ta prayer!" Classic.

Anyway, while I thought I would be excited about Bon Jovi night, I forgot that I'd have to endure the contestants singing his songs. Quick recap for you:

  1. Phil musters his inner Emilio Estevez to sing "Young Guns." It was bad karaoke.
  2. Jordin sings "Livin' On A Prayer." Still love her, but not lovin' her "Livin"
  3. That-one-chick-who'll-be-gone-tomorrow sang, "This Ain't A Love Song." She sang a decent Celine Dion version of it.
  4. Blake did a funky version of "You Give Love A Bad Name." Incredibly entertaining. Still nowhere near Jon Bon.
  5. That-one-dude-who'll-be-gone-tomorrow sang "Wanted Dead or Alive." My choice: dead.
  6. Melinda sang "Have A Nice Day." Anyone picking something from the "new album" is obviously oblivious.

So, again, another forty minutes of my life [thanks for shaving twenty minutes, DVR] that I cannot get back.

We can only hope that a performance by the man on tomorrow night's show will redeem this evening's display of torture.

But Jon Bon better bring Richie Sambora with him tomorrow. Not doing so would be more tragic than Sanjaya.

Summer Movie Mania

Last week's copy of Entertainment Weekly was the summer movie preview. Kelly and I have decided that we're going to have to put Kaelyn in day-care to see all the movies coming out this summer. Many of them are sequels, but how can you go wrong with

  • Pirates of The Caribbean 3
  • Shrek 3
  • Spiderman 3
  • Oceans 13 [realizing the suck-fest that was Oceans 12, I anticipate a better showing]
  • Die Hard 4
  • Bourne Identity 3 [or whatever they call it]
  • Harry Potter 5 [never read the books, but watched all the movies]
  • Fantastic Four 2 [if that makes sense]
  • Evan Almighty [follow-up to Bruce Almighty with Steve Carrell]
  • Transformers
  • The Simpsons Movie

That's more than 24 hours of footage there. And that doesn't even include any non-franchise movies that could be good.

My question is, with all the crappy movies they've been releasing lately, why do they have to cram all of these good flicks into one summer?

On My iPod

I'm secure in my manhood and not afraid to admit that I have an eclectic taste in music. With the advent of iTunes, I'm afforded the opportunity to mix and match my tastes. A few weeks ago I downloaded a song that I can't seem to get out of my head. It's by a guy named Mika and the song is Grace Kelly. It sounds just like a Queen song, intentionally, since he even references Freddie Mercury in the bridge. Yeah, it's a cotton candy song, but it's a good kind of retro. And I'm really torn by Avril Lavigne's new song Girlfriend. It's sorta catchy in a Toni Basil kinda way. Entertainment Weekly's review of Avril's album stated listening "will make your SAT score drop retroactively." Her lifeless Saturday Night Live performance [why do you think they keep on showing the back-up singers?] has kept me away from embracing it.

I still think Metallica's awesome. Have to add that in there for the street cred.