unrequited narcissism

Archives: pop culture
Archives: pop culture
August 25, 2006
August 25, 2006
unfugging pop culture

"style-healing wang" might be my favorite phrase, like, EVER.

but christina aguilera is looking rather amazing there, isn't she? i love that dress.

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August 10, 2006
August 10, 2006
hot pants: only a good idea on project runway pop culture

when i called mariah carey an unstoppable force of hair extensions, thighs and sparkles, i had no idea how frighteningly accurate that was.

also, interesting fact: i park below philips arena (appropriately known as the pigeon pit), and as i passed the staging/loading area this morning, post-mariah concert, i noticed there were no less than 10 semis being loaded with concert stuff. so when somebody asks you how many trucks it takes to put on a mariah carey concert, now you know. you're welcome.

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August 06, 2006
August 06, 2006
scumbags! media  - politics  - pop culture

It appears that Exxon is astroturfing YouTube, producing content designed to look like an authentic, amateur piece belittling Al Gore's efforts to bring attention to the climate change crisis.

It's been a while since I got really upset by an advertising campaign. I sort of thought I'd grown out of it, to tell you the truth. Guess not. Kriston thinks I'm crazy, but I still believe there should be some sort of disclosure requirement that makes this kind of sleaziness nonviable.

More realistically, YouTube might want to think about introducing such a requirement into its license terms, if it wants to maintain the cachet it's currently enjoying. Eventually the copyright owners will yank their content. If all that's left is a collection of cutting-edge marketing efforts, interest in the site will evaporate pretty quickly.

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July 27, 2006
July 27, 2006
ANTM on strike! pop culture

for myself and other fans of fabulous reality tv show america's next top model, you might be interested to read this interview over on television without pity with one of the show's writers about the strike the writing staff is currently on. it's actually kind of interesting - the writing team is striking because currently, basically no reality show writers have been allowed to join the writers guild of america and get all the benefits that come with that - little things like health insurance and pensions. apparently reality tv show writers aren't considered real writers, or something, by the industry in general, and this strike by the ANTM writing crew could have really far-reaching effects on if reality show writers are allowed to unionize. kind of interesting. there's also a bit of insight into the process of how the show - and other reality shows - are "written." my take is that the CW better up and let the ANTM folks do what the hell they want, as the show is basically the flagship of a fledgling network that's gonna need a lot of help come fall.

but let's face it: ain't no writer talented enough out there to come up with the line "bitch poured beer on my weave."

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July 20, 2006
July 20, 2006
grr pop culture

i think i might hate those new hummer commercials more than anything else.

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July 13, 2006
July 13, 2006
webisodes pop culture

don't forget: the office started showing webisodes yesterday. the first two are online and i believe they plan on showing 13 or so. the storyline follows the three accountants figuring out a possible embezzlement scandal. pretty funny!

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July 03, 2006
July 03, 2006
the office music  - pop culture

i recently downloaded season two of the office and am finally getting to see all the lovely hysterics. i'm kind of on a vmars-like-dvd-type-roll; i go through multiple episodes in stretches of time. hell, i had meant to start running with scissors tomorrow, having finished everything is illuminated, but maybe (since i have the day off) i will just finish the whole darn season. i'm craaazy like that.

while watching the email surveillance episode, i had a flash of genius. fountains of wayne should totally guest-band on the office. it would be the best musical tv appearance ever. new jersey power pop gods, writers of anthems for the weary office set - it's like a match made in heaven. "hey julie"? "bright future in sales"? C'MON. make it happen, steve carell. i have no conceivable idea of what the setup would be, but i'm sure they could do a good job.

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June 30, 2006
June 30, 2006
everybody's freeeeee pop culture

i didn't catch the episode myself, but aly points me towards the pretty great opening montage of the season premiere of perennial zunta favorite "the venture brothers." i'll have to make a note to catch the next one.

and guess what? i may be getting a personal tour of the cartoon network while i'm down here! woot.

UPDATE: sorry, i had the wrong youtube link for the venture brother's opening montage. it should be fixed now.

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June 27, 2006
June 27, 2006
a new threat pop culture

Rachael Ray is getting her own daytime talk show. This is old news, but I just saw an ad for it on TV. And I am disturbed.

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June 19, 2006
June 19, 2006
entourage pop culture

Ezra's completely right about Entourage. It's weird. Not Ezra being right about something — he does that all the time. Rather, he's right in noting the weirdness of the show being so entertaining despite its almost complete lack of actual conflict. I was talking with some folks about this last night, and we all basically agreed: people like happy endings, and there's only one place to get them on HBO.

But I'm still conflicted about liking the show. If I ever met anyone like the main characters (aside from E), I have no doubt that I'd hate their guts. I'd probably spend the evening trying to make them look dumb, then cowardly backing down from any resulting threats. You know, like that jerk from that scene in Good Will Hunting who ended up not liking those apples very much.

Seriously, Turtle is a perfect instantiation of some of the most despicable Dude Archetypes of all time. The show's apparent endorsement of the douchebag lifestyle makes me wonder what company I'm putting myself in by liking it. Whatever demographic it is, I have a feeling it includes a lot of dudes who spent most of their college years proclaiming how "money" various things were. I'm not particularly comfortable with that.

But there's no helping it. The show's got sharp writers, nonstop wish-fulfillment and an unpretentious way of presenting its thoroughly pretentious subject matter. Plus, Jeremy Piven is a comedic force of nature (his thoroughly wussy yogic journeys notwithstanding). Who am I to stand in his way?

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June 09, 2006
June 09, 2006
nuggets of gold pop culture

one of the best things about coming back to d.c. is the opportunity to reimmerse myself in retarded pop culture shit/music/commercials that are floating about on cable, which i didn't get back in chicago. observations:

-i still have a lady crush on the lead singer of the pussy cat dolls
-i still have an irrational love of the fanta commercials
-nick lachey seems sad
-teri hatcher looks like a reanimated zombie

ah, mtv/vh1. how i've missed you. up next: food tv!

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May 24, 2006
May 24, 2006
preparing to witness an injustice pop culture

I'll be tuning over to the Lost season finale at 9, but for the moment Charles and I are watching the two-hour American Idol extravaganza (that doesn't include the red carpet telecast, of course). So far it's pretty awesome. Do you like... scatting? Yeah, I hate that shit too. But we got some of it!

And Live played! Remember Live? They had that song that was about abortion, maybe? Well, their lead singer and one of the American Idol contestants (possibly the one who Fuel has an embarrassing crush on) just had an epic falsetto/bald-off in their ridiculously high-heeled boots and sweaty, billowing synthetic shirts. They will presumably take alternating shifts on tour/in cryogenic suspension, supported by an increasingly cybernetic backing band, allowing rock-FM summer festival victims to enjoy "Dolphins Cry" well into the next millennium.

Also, Katherine McPhee sang with Meatloaf, who looks and sounds like he could drop dead at any moment.

And now Wolfgang Puck is brandishing a lobster at newly short-haired Kelly Pickler, who is either a masterful comic actress or simply proof that my taste in women is the product of a deeply sick misogynism. Either way, the segment is pretty fantastic.

Alright, focus: why am I writing this? To protest the travesty that's about to unfold. It seems clear that Taylor Hicks is going to win this thing, despite Katherine McPhee being talented, beautiful, and scary in exactly the right way. Now, I've got nothing against the idea of the women of America publicly proclaiming their love for a prematurely gray shlub — I'm kind of partial to the idea, actually. But not this shlub. Not this Michael McDonald-aping motherfucker. I can't take another lifetime's worth of whiteguy-soul-filled MCI commercials. I was counting on the original abomination to eventually die... or at least be imprisoned by some sort of unbreakable enchantment. Don't take that away from me, America.

But there's one normally-noxious player on the screen that I'm actually growing to tolerate: Ryan Seacrest. Sure, he's awful in every conceivable respect. But think of it this way: if it weren't him, who would it be? What's the Death Takes A Holiday scenario? I'll tell you what: it's Billy Bush. And no matter how awful Seacrest is, it seems unlikely that he'll ever become president. We need to support Ryan; if that slot opens up, it's not going to be Dunkelman taking over. It's going to President Billy and First Lady Jenna and their hemophiliac children.

Lesser of two evils, people.

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May 18, 2006
May 18, 2006
shower scene, take two pop culture

i may have been unhappy with the direction the season finale took grey's anatomy, but this video they filmed from this week's upfronts is basically comedy gold. (via)

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May 15, 2006
May 15, 2006
tv thoughts pop culture  - veronica mars

first tv thought: the good - veronica mars was picked up for next season! the bad - it was only for 13 episodes. this is a classic sign that if the first few episodes don't perform well, the rest of the season won't be ordered. in fact, if the first few episodes don't do well, we might not even see all 13. i am relatively calm now as i type this, but i am telling you: if YOU DON'T WATCH VERONICA MARS THIS COMING SEASON I WILL GO APESHIT ON YOU AND YOU WILL BE VERY SORRY. IF THE SHOW DOES NOT DO WELL ENOUGH IN THE RATINGS I WILL PERSONALLY COUNT ALL OF YOU, ALL OF THE ZUNTA READERS, RESPONSIBLE, AND I WILL FLIP MY SHIT, AND THE BLOG WILL BECOME RAMBLING GIBBERISH. I WILL ALSO TIE TOMMY UP IN THE CRAWLSPACE SO NO LOGICAL THOUGHTS CAN BE POSTED TO THE BLOG WHATSOEVER. TAKE THIS AS THE FIRST OF MANY WARNINGS, MOTHERFUCKERS.

ahem. emily and i chatted this afternoon about a possible plan to take the first episode of season one coast to coast - launch an online campaign, if you will. our philosophy is that if you see that episode, you will be hooked. beyond hooked. this happened to my brother; today, michelle told me it happened to her. if i could think of a good enough contest, i would offer as first prize the season 1 dvd. i would go out and buy it and give it to the winner. so any thoughts on that, and i promise to make it happen.

tv thought 2: the grey's anatomy season finale #1 really kind of bit. i'm in the middle of #2 right now, and it is better, but the izzie/denny storyline drives me absolutely bonkers. it might be the stupidest piece of shit i've ever seen on television. alan says:

I'm not sure I have ever laughed at hard as an intentionally dramatic moment on a TV show as I did during Izzie's crying jag to convince Denny to let her mess up his heart. That entire subplot underlined everything I've grown to hate about this show and most of its characters. It's annoying enough when, say, Meredith and Cristina are gossiping about their boyfriends in the middle of a bomb scare, but for Izzy to risk two lives (Denny's and the legitimate recipient) because she's getting frustrated at how long it's taking for Denny to get a heart? George should have brained her with a bedpan as soon as he realized what she was up to. Add to that George scolding Callie for daring to speak the truth to poor, fragile Meredith, plus the shooting of Burke, one of the few characters I still like unreservedly, and my patience is really being tried here.

for this, she risks her career? SHE'S NEVER EVEN HAD SEX WITH HIM. the sex could be terrible! and if it's terrible THERE IS NO POINT.

tv thought 3: i am excited for studio 60 on sunset strip. watch a commercial here. i have to admit, i kind of have a grosscrush on timothy busfield. gross because he's really kind of ugly and fat. crush because of danny concannon.

UPDATE: as far as grey's anatomy, on the other hand, the song they played as denny wheeled into the operating room, hopefully to a painful death, was pretty. i found out is called "look at her face" by a band called the coral sea. some mp3s are here. if you wanted to d/l "look at her face" you can pay for it (pshaw) here.

UPDATE II: did georg really just say "i figured one night with you was better than never" ?!?!?!?!? THE FUCK. this show has come a long way since the awesome bomb episodes.

UPDATE III: on one hand, while izzie's storyline with denny made me want to puke and roll around in it, i still think katherine heigl is gorgeous and an amazing comedic actress. just please don't make her fall in love with any more heart patients.

UPDATE IV: i'm sorry. sorry. i know that frequent updates reload the post in your rss reader, and it's annoying. but i must. SERIOUSLY?!? A PROM STORYLINE? and who gives a fuck that the dog has cancer? sheesh. on the other hand, i would like to add that whoever plays the nazi and alex karev are severely underutilized. i would watch a show with those two characters all day long.

UPDATE V: i'll admit it. the ending made me cry. i'm such a pussy.

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May 12, 2006
May 12, 2006
bleg pop culture

can anyone point me towards a torrent for "the office" finale? it's called "casino night," i think, and i must watch it!

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May 11, 2006
May 11, 2006
lost the plot lost  - pop culture

Yes, it's true. I dove back into Lost last night. Sommer had missed last week's episode too, so she came over and, along with Charles, myself, some beers and a bit of morningroundupering, caught up on what's been going on on the Island.

Short answer: serious shit. They revealed another research station! They killed two characters — and ones whose backstories we were merely somewhat tired of, instead of totally fucking bored by. They inserted a twist! And Ana Lucia and Sawyer played several variations of "hide the pistol". There was lots of stuff going on, and at a pretty good decent pace. I was pleased.

I was even more excited to see that the powers that be have started placing fake Hanso Foundation commercials in the middle of Lost's regular ad breaks. "Paid for by ABC" flashed in the corner of the first one ever-so-briefly, but otherwise it seemed like a low-budget but generally plausible commercial for one of those organizations that doesn't actually sell, make or do anything, yet still feels compelled to purchase TV spots. At the end: dial 1-877-HANSORG for more information.

"Wow!" I thought to myself. "Now that's a good use of Asterisk."

Since we were still working off the Tivoed copy of last week's episode, the phoneline wasn't jammed. We put it on speaker and heard some floaty music and instructions to dial our party's extension or select another option. We hit 1 for general information and got a looping clip of somebody speaking French. Hmm. Pretty intriguing. I mashed the star key a bit and somehow ended up hearing a rap extolling the virtues of Sprite. Er. Okay. Somebody has to pay the bills for this sort of unconventional storytelling, I suppose.

Then it was time for this week's episode. As I said, pretty satisfying. And they ran the same commercial again, except this time the momentary flash said "Paid for by Sprite", and they showed a URL along with the phone number: www.sublymonal.com. If you follow that link you'll find it contains a flash animation of a bunch of TVs showing static, arranged around the word "OBEY".

First of all: this is not a great site for a nonprofit, Mr. Hanso. It's flash-based, there's no action, and the navigation could use some work. You're never going to build your list this way.

Second: it all started falling into place. I think Sommer may have been the first one to put it together. SubLYMONal.com. As in "the only one with lymon (dot com)". And what should we be obeying, anyway? Our thirst, perhaps?

This does not sit well. I don't mind being sent down blind alleys, but I don't expect to find soda machines at the end of them. This ad campaign demonstrates that the show's producers not only don't have a grand vision for the show, they also don't particularly give a shit about whatever it might turn out to be. I fully expect the Others' next onslaught to be warded off by the sight of a CapitalOne card.

I find this particularly crappy because I was completely and totally ready to jump back onboard the Lost bandwagon. As Catherine mentioned, I even decided to waste some time in Illustrator and make a vector version (PDF) of this bitmap of the Dharma Initiative logo. I figured it looked kind of cool, and might be good for some money on SpreadShirt. But after the Sprite Revelation I've pretty much lost interest in the project, to what I'm sure is Catherine's great relief.

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May 09, 2006
May 09, 2006
don't forget! pop culture  - tech

Today is E3, when we'll supposedly learn some more details surround Nintendo's new console and the plans of the Big Three in general. Already revealed: the PS3's $500 price tag — and that's just for the entry-level model without wifi or HD support. Yikes.

I sort of had a PSOne in college — a roommate owned it, but I chipped it — and it was a pretty fun, but not great system. I've always had a grudge against Sony's offerings, though, on the basis of their insanely bad controller. I think they just shot themselves in the foot pretty seriously.

Meanwhile, I'm getting more and more excited for the Nintendo Revolution Wii. Everytime I look at that new controller I get a little more excited.

UPDATE: NYT coverage of the Wii can be found here. In general the various gaming news outlets are saying Nintendo hit it out of the park with their demo, It's getting very favorable comparisons to Sony's presentation. which is being treated as something of a flop (largely because of the huge price tag for the PS3). No word on price for the Wii, but they've previously pledged it'll clock in at under $300. No release date either, other than the disappointingly vague and far away "Q4".

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May 08, 2006
May 08, 2006
television i have known and loved pop culture

Ah, Monday night. Broadcast wasteland. Still, there are highlights:

  • David Blaine: Drowned Alive seems unlikely to be able to live up to its title. Still, I'm transfixed by the man's overpowering lack of charisma. Unfortunately Stuart Scott, a talented professional broadcaster, is on hand to emcee the whole thing, lending the proceedings an inappropriate air of competence. Right now he's interviewing Actual Yale Doctor about the horrors Blaine has faced during the past week (spent immersed in a sphere of water in Lincoln Center). Skin breakdown! Fluid loss! And, most disconcertingly, briefly elevated liver enzyme activity that began to correct itself before the big finale, but is still being used to imply that death was/is imminent. Paging Morgan Spurlock! Mr. Spurlock to the front desk! Someone's stealing your bit!

    ALSO GREAT: They're using flesh-colored wind guards on their headset mics. It makes everyone look like they've got enormous goiters on their faces. My man Stu was smart enough to say no to this idiotic scheme, however: he's got the black wind guard, so it just looks like he has a huge, cancerous mole. I told you he was a pro.

    POTENTIALLY GREATER: The discussion of how David's London fast "wreaked havoc upon his metabolism". Translation: HE TURNED INTO A BIG FAT LOAD.

    Man. I'm kind of surprised/alarmed at how much I dislike this idiot. Let's move on.


  • I really enjoy commercials for gardening products. The spokesmen crack me up: they're invariably older but craggily virile men — ex-firefighters looking to spend more time weeding with their beloved wives, mostly — who confidently expound on the merits of whatever revolutionary advance in dirt technology they're peddling. I always get a kick from the recognition of another demographic's Marketing Achilles Heel. Much easier to see others' than your own, I suppose.

  • Telecom commercials! First, the cable company bragging that it supplies steady jobs. Now there's a good lobbying approach: pass preferential legislation for our industry because we employ people. Of course, whoever they're going to lose their business to probably also employs people, so I'm not quite sure what they're getting at. Perhaps this is a DC-area narrowcast meant to scare politicians with cable repairguy constituents. Still, seems like a pretty lame argument.

    Next up is AT&T, which, among a series of pledges to do things like "bring us the future", let loose one or two interesting tidbits. First, a thinly-veiled appeal to network neutrality advocates — "we won't block access" was the wording, I believe (which isn't really specific enough, but it's interesting that they're addressing it). Second, they promised to observe local right-of-way. I can't remember the wording, so I can't be sure, but I believe this is tackling the municipal broadband legislative question.

    If they meant these pledges, good for AT&T. But even moreso, good for us: if the telecoms are feeling threatened enough over these issues to create commercials filled with friendly promises rather than commercials filled with self-serving lies, the EFF must be making progress.

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May 07, 2006
May 07, 2006
it's all coming together pop culture

Catherine sent me this earlier today: Simpsons versions of the Battlestar Galactica cast.

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May 01, 2006
May 01, 2006
everyone hates comic sans personal  - pop culture

With Kriston in Chicago as well, the nerd contingent finally had numbers on Catherine, and the three of us ended up making a trip to the completely awesome Chicago Comics (conveniently located just a few blocks from Catherine's apt).

Thanks to Tim I've been jumping back into comics recently — he set me up with some Sandman and Transmetropolitan torrents, and I'm slowly working my way through them.

I have to say that I don't really get the appeal of Sandman. And it's not just that I'm tonedeaf to this stuff — I dig the mythical mystery, and I enjoyed American Gods. But so far the series just seems to be about a pale, skinny sliver of humorlessness who spends a lot of time on concerns related to faeries and the dreamscape. It's like some terrible, terrible Trent Reznor/Tori Amos collaboration. I'll stick with it, but so far it hasn't hooked me.

Transmet's considerably more enjoyable, even if Ellis's writerly narcissism isn't actually dismissed by his constant winking in the way he seems to think it is. Also, it provides another excuse to link to a photo of Julian's awesome Spider Jerusalem Halloween costume. And I think it might provide a comprehensive alternate philosophy of journalism for Catherine, should this Medill thing fail to cover all the bases.

I added to these at Chicago Comics. Kriston bought a bunch of incomprehensible but cool Marvel alternate universe thingamajigs, and a mixed bag of DC trade paperbacks. I stuck with my tried & true formula: volumes 7 and 8 of Powers (and 9's out already!? w00t) and a Hellboy spinoff that's not quite as awesome as solo Mignola, but still pretty satisfying in a "former Nazi scientists' hubris unleashing unspeakable supernatural horrors" kind of way. And that's one of my favorites ways.

So yeah — dorking it up: recommended.

comments [8] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
April 24, 2006
April 24, 2006
promalama pop culture

click through for the atrocities to be worn by mischa barton and the other actresses on the prom episode of the OC. yeah, i remember when i wore vera wang to the prom...or was it the 75$ dress from hecht's? it's all blurry. barton's dress is quite possibly the ugliest thing i've ever seen. it looks like a mentally imbalanced puppy made it out of bedsheets. thank god i don't watch that show anymore or i'd go blind.

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April 18, 2006
April 18, 2006
outrage! pop culture

Saved By The Bell on Adult Swim? Unacceptable! AS is for stupid but beloved cartoons, not stupid but beloved sitcoms.

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April 04, 2006
April 04, 2006
and your opinion of me is now even lower pop culture

i have to say that i kind of adored the premiere of "pepper dennis." and when i say adored, i mean "am hitting my head against the wall for admitting in any sort of public forum that i actually like this show because it's really pretty terrible." i just thought it was sort of good in that fun, over-the-top-cheesy way, where even the people starring in and creating the show know it's terribly cheesy and insanely unrealistic, but since you all can admit this freely to each other, and they have fun with it, you can all share a big hearty laugh and drink a bottle of wine while it's on. or that was just me. whatever.

anyway! that rebecca romijn sure is pretty, isn't she. i'd even consider adding her to my who-i'd-do-if-i-were-a-lesbian list. which currently consists of eliza dushku circa buffy.

UPDATE: what's even weirder is seeing the creepy dude who played goodwin on lost play pepper dennis's cringe-inducingly bad stereotype of a newsroom boss. he chews gum like an over-excited cow and speaks in what he must imagine is a chicago accent (the show is set in the lovely windy city). he's awful, frankly, whereas he was pretty good on lost. the mind boggles.

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April 03, 2006
April 03, 2006
mighty / fallen pop culture

Wolfson shows, once again, why The Simpsons represents the single greatest non-internet source of knowledge in my entire educational history.

But it's been a long time since the show has fulfilled its mission of teaching our youth and fueling our nation's bootleg t-shirt industry. At the beginning of this season I thought we were in for an uptic in the great Simpsons sawtooth-graph o' quality. Not so. Here's the description of last night's episode, courtesy of Tivo:

Grandpa considers suicide but decides to become a matador instead, after foiling Homer's plans to make Springfield home to a professional football franchise.

How do you even pitch that as a show idea? All I can imagine is that a writer picked a moment to try to get fired that coincided with his boss doing the same.

comments [2] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
tmyk! pop culture

the more you know segments from "the office" are cracking me up today. i have to admit, i toooootally gave up on the show early on when i found that the first two or three episodes sucked, but i've watched a few recent ones and i must admit that my usually so dead-on take on tv shows was pretty wrong in this case. the office: good for what ails you.

other tv thoughts: josh and donna. read they had the sex. didn't see it, but am bit torrenting the show now. was the josh-donna sex terrible or, you know, not terrible?

grey's anatomy: two words: hellooooooooooo chris o'donnell, my mothereffing god, where have you been the past few years, and what a beard. well, that was many more words than two, but he deserves many, many words. my lord. good mcdreamy foil.

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March 28, 2006
March 28, 2006
the grupsters pop culture

oh my god. can we make any more lame-o stereotypical nicknames involving some retardation of yuppie? we've got the yupster, and now new york magazine gives us the grups.

...oh cripes. just reading into the article, i have discovered, though i am a 26-year-old female, i am apparently a grupster:

Let's start with a question. A few questions, actually: When did it become normal for your average 35-year-old New Yorker to (a) walk around with an iPod plugged into his ears at all times, listening to the latest from Bloc Party; (b) regularly buy his clothes at Urban Outfitters; (c) take her toddler to a Mommy's Happy Hour at a Brooklyn bar; (d) stay out till 4 A.M. because he just cant miss the latest New Pornographers show, because who knows when Neko Case will decide to stop touring with them, and everyone knows shes the heart of the band;...

except for the having of a toddler part. i have not hidden a toddler away in my shoe closet of doom, nor am i with toddler, but i totally will subject my toddler one day to the stylings of radiohead. and lo, he will be a moody adolescent.

UPDATE: oh my god. reading even more into the article, i find out that "grups" is actually a star trek reference. arghghahahahgghh! did i tell you, about the saturday night, that i spent with tommy last week, where he was flipping between star trek and anime on tv and, when those were on commercials, watching battlestar gallactica on his computer's dvd player? nothing to do with this post, really, just wanted to tell you that. although i have to admit that the anime was princess mononoke and i liked it, and BG actually seemed really good.

WHAT HAS HE DONE TO ME.

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March 24, 2006
March 24, 2006
a wedge up pop culture

i like to think of myself as a general averter of fashion trends. i like to follow what's in, and i love to shop, but most of the time i know whatever is hot in a particular summer will come crashing down on its purchasers' heads in two years or less. never bought into the prairie skirt look. metallics? hell to the no. i've never owned a pair of skinny jeans in my life, because i don't care to create the illusion that my thighs are actually two enormous bags of sand, thank you very much. and you'll sure as hell never catch me in a pair of leggings worn under a miniskirt. i am happiest in a pair of jeans, a tank top, and flip flops or flats.

but, woe is me, it appears that i have fallen victim, am 100% totally and truly obsessed with one of this season's spring shoe trends, and i just can't help myself. ladies and gentlemen, meet catherine's new friends: the platform wedge.

argh!(#(@(@! I KNOW! what am i doing to myself? these shoes are decidedly 70ish, decidedly difficult to walk in, and, even i admit it, sort of decidedly ridiculous looking. but I LOVE THEM. it all started last spring, when i bought a pair of these over at urban outfitters. i thought that pair of shoes would satiate my wedge needs. BUT NO. as i discovered when i hit up the marshall's on route 7 this morning. (as an aside: when the hell did the shoe department at marshall's get so incredibly kick-ass? it's like DSW's little sister in there.)

first i had to have these (in black, not brown as shown):

chineselaundry.jpg

I KNOW! i know, i know. except for the color, they look eerily similar to the wedge sandals purchased last spring. not to mention they literally make me about 6'1". it's all amazonia up in here when i'm prancing around in those things. i'm going to terrify children. and maybe unknowingly step on them.

and then, i had to run across these:

ninewest.jpg

"well, don't THESE look practical," i trilled to myself as i clomped through the store aisles. "they're a must-buy!"

all i can ask for now is your help in preventing me from throwing away even more money on this ridiculous style of shoes. if we walk into a store together, please steer me towards the pumas and ballet flats. if that DSW commercial featuring several adorable styles of wedge heels comes on, cover my eyes. and if i fall on you while wearing these monstrosities out in public, will you give a girl a hand and pick me back up?

comments [9] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
March 23, 2006
March 23, 2006
le beards pop culture

oh, new york times. always three months behind the zunta (and, apparently, the sunday source).

comments [6] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
March 07, 2006
March 07, 2006
wuss is the new bad boy pop culture

What is going on, people? Someone go check that Gavin DeGraw isn't off trying to poison the water supply somewhere.

comments [1] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
March 06, 2006
March 06, 2006
cooter! movies  - pop culture

it goes without saying that Go Fug Yourself is a daily must-read (especially in the wake of the oscars), but i really think they've outdone themselves with this imagined interaction between la lohan and sharon stone. go forth and read!

comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
March 02, 2006
March 02, 2006
iPod: doomed to failure! pop culture

this is hysterical: 37signals posts the original macrumors thread on the announcement of a little mp3 player called the iPod. excerpts:

"iPoop... iCry. I was so hoping for something more."

"I still can't believe this! All this hype for something so ridiculous! Who cares about an MP3 player? I want something new! I want them to think differently! Why oh why would they do this?! It's so wrong! It's so stupid!"

"All that hype for an MP3 player? Break-thru digital device? The Reality Distiortion Field™ is starting to warp Steve's mind if he thinks for one second that this thing is gonna take off."

via waxy

comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
February 27, 2006
February 27, 2006
deal with no deal pop culture

For some reason I'm watching Deal or No Deal at the moment. As you might imagine, it's approximately the stupidest thing ever. That's fine; gambling is basically about dressing up random chance in as elaborate a wrapper as possible. If some TV executive wants to spend his production budget on a fancy set and Donald Trump cameos instead of paying someone a pittance to design a "game" with "entertainment value", well, that's his prerogative.

But here's the thing that really blows my mind: tonight's show, at least, centers around the contestant choosing numbers to open suitcases. Assuming that the show's not rigged, this exercise is completely random. Yet the audience is offering suggestions! And the guy's listening! Carefully!

Well, good luck, moron. I hope you're good at guessing who's good at guessing.

UPDATE: JESUS CHRIST, THAT'S HOWIE MANDEL!?! Terrifying. At least he's found a good niche for his unique brand of talentlessness.

comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
February 24, 2006
February 24, 2006
grey's gushing pop culture

my love for the tv show grey's anatomy has only recently been expounded about 10 billajillion times by the fact that it has got to be one of the most web-friendly shows out there. by now you all probably know about the writers' blog, which is fantasic. there the authors of each episode explain their motivations and ideas behind each episode, often delving into experiences from their own life that influenced them to write the show in one way or another. it's good reading. and they've got comments. and they READ the comments. and they answer them. it is, like, interactive and stuff.

there are also several other blogs, two of which are admittedly extremely retarded because they are "character" blogs, ie, blogs written from the point of view of a couple of minor characters on the show. they're extraordinarily stupid, as are all blogs written by fictional personas, so just skip over them. but the site also has a blog exploring the medical situations that take place on each show. they've got a blog listing all the songs used in every episode from the music supervisor of the show. and they have TEH PODCASTS as well. somewhere on itunes, apparently. i have to admit to not really ever having gotten into the big old podcasting scene so i haven't listened to them yet. but i am sure they are wonderful.

anyway. if only all tv shows employed the internets in this way. especially the writers' blog. if you could have a peek into the minds of the people behind your favorite show, it would clarify things in a way that is both revealing and interesting. grey's anatomy isn't going to change your life, but it's a funn, well-written comedy-drama, and its writers seem to realize one key to its success is a) realizing your fans are what drive the show b) engaging with them.

comments [5] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
February 20, 2006
February 20, 2006
it's not easy being green pop culture

I've got a feeling that I might just be the last person on the internet to see it — but if you haven't watched Muppets Overtime, you really ought to. It's a beautifully-made and surprisingly sad five minute animated short.

But for the record, I still think that a Muppet retelling of the New Testament would be the ultimate application for the franchise.

comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
February 15, 2006
February 15, 2006
just heard on an nbc olympic promo pop culture

"A dramatic day for team USA, with flamboyance in men's figure skating from an uninhibited talent."

That seems more, um, forthcoming than is usual for figure skating coverage. Aren't they supposed to be trying to convince me that the American favorite is the Bad Boy of the ice dancing world? You know, like they do every four years?

comments [5] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
the scientology life pop culture

tom cruise has bizarre outbursts at kayne west concert.

you know how tommy described that weirdly giddy feeling of something awful and uncontrollable starting to happen, but you're powerless to prevent it, like when you crest the top of a rollercoaster? except he was talking about major and scary privacy issues?

well, this is how i feel about the inevitable decline of tom cruise. we are on the verge of watching some monumental breakdown, people, the likes of which has rarely been seen before in celebrity history. mark my words, folks, it won't be long before he's peeing into stored milk bottles and putting on three hundred pounds. all we can do is grab some popcorn, sit back and blog it all.

comments [1] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
February 14, 2006
February 14, 2006
fin pop culture

what ramifications could this rumor have for us lowly regular people?

hopefully, the end of calling us fricking TomCat.

comments [9] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
February 09, 2006
February 09, 2006
bored on a friday? pop culture

from the ap daybook:

CHICAGO -- Scheduled motion hearing for singer R. Kelly on child pornography charges. Judge Vincent Gaughan presides. 10 a.m. Criminal courthouse, 26th and California.

i would be there in a hot minute if i didn't have class. damn.

comments [4] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
February 07, 2006
February 07, 2006
vanity fair pop culture

one of these things is not like the other ones! and it's freaking me out, frankly.

and why did keira knightley go blond, by the way? she's much prettier as a brunette.

UPDATE: just realized the first link may not be entirely SFW.

comments [10] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
February 01, 2006
February 01, 2006
this could've been avoided if she'd had a better catchphrase pop culture

Via my sister: the Olson twins participated in someone else's intervention!?

comments [1] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
January 27, 2006
January 27, 2006
fear the oprah pop culture

i have to admit i think all this james frey stuff is kind of silly (though he comes off looking like an ass, i'd be surprised if book sales aren't rising - i see people reading a million little pieces constantly on the el nowadays), but this photo recap of his appearance on oprah is a) rather hysterical b) makes me want to go hide under my couch. oprah knows no mercy.

man. photoblogging of appearances on oprah are always the best, aren't they?

comments [1] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
January 24, 2006
January 24, 2006
nanananananananafishing pop culture

It's been on BoingBoing, and it's a few days old — but I didn't actually look at this Batgirl thing until tonight, and it's awesome enough that I feel compelled to blog it.

ALSO: via ScaryGoBlog, more LiveJournal webcomix goodness. MySpace:music::LiveJournal:cartoons?

comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
January 19, 2006
January 19, 2006
yes, i still care about *some* intellectual property misc  - pop culture

It turns out that my lack of style is actually just responsible consumerism: Urban Outfitters is run by a bunch of goddamn thieves.

via preshrunk

comments [4] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
January 14, 2006
January 14, 2006
um pop culture

i might be sorry later that i admitted this, but i think "beauty and the geek" is possibly THE BEST TELEVISION SHOW EVER. certainly, the most quotable. tommy and i have been laughing hysterically while watching it for the past 15 minutes. highly recommended.

comments [4] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
January 09, 2006
January 09, 2006
i feel weird for saying this, but... pop culture

is anybody else kind of TOTALLY LOVING the new burger king ads?

comments [9] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
January 04, 2006
January 04, 2006
let the boys be boys pop culture

Sommer falls in love with Roller Derby, and reminds me of my own favorite stupid pseudosport: SlamBall. Sure, it sounds dumb. But I've never seen a sport as gleefully, accidentally brutal. It seemed like SlamBall's fate would be decided by which happened first: achieving popularity, or its first high-profile spinal injury. The odds looked good.

Sadly, someone made some stupid business decisions and my beloved SlamBall went away. But lo! What light on yonder trampoline-filled basketball court breaks?

Apparently, the sport isn't totally defunct. Some dopes even think the future looks bright for a EuroSlamBall league. I'm trying not to get my hopes up, but it's tough.

comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
December 30, 2005
December 30, 2005
face off pop culture

via amber, i tried out this celebrity-face-imaging thing-a-majigy that is supposed to scan and analyze a photo of you and tell you what celebrity you most look like. why this is important to anybody, i am not sure, but it certainly is fun...turns out my top matches are a) katie holmes (this is totally untrue, btw, and will do nothing to diminish the TomCat nickname) b) jk rowling (i can see that a bit more; blond, big schnoz, etc) c) kate winslet and d)....martina navratilova.

yay.

who do you get?

comments [22] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
December 28, 2005
December 28, 2005
links galore pop culture

most of you'll already know this, but it's still worth a look: kottke's got his best links of 2005 up. hours and hours worth of internet fun.

comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
the gospel of mars pop culture  - veronica mars

i know, i've preached the love for veronica mars one too many times on this here blog. but i just can't help it. even if you don't think you'll like it, you will. guaranteed. unless you have no eyes. i wanted to share this brief example with you of how VM can transform a non-VM lover into a slave for kristen bell. exhibit a: my brother. doesn't watch much tv (though is obsessed with nip/tuck, one of the few shows he does watch). never got into buffy the vampire slayer. not generally interested in chick-centered shows. but this is how we spent christmas afternoon.

sister and i: please, can we start watching the veronica mars dvd we got for xmas, pleeeeeease? PLEASE!
brother: christ. ok.
watch watch watch the first episode.
brother: gets up, stretches, says, well, i know what i'm doing for the next 18 hours.

(note to slow: he meant he was going to watch VM. AND HE DID. at this rate, he and my sister must be done with the first season by now.)

additionally, yesterday my sister let slip a disturbing spoiler she read on the internets for VM. i have no idea if it is true or not, but i think, based on other clues i've read elsewhere, that it may be. i'll post behind the cut; tell me what you think. and by you i mean kathryn, because she is the only other blogger i know who reaches my level of VM obsession.

MORE...
comments [15] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
December 26, 2005
December 26, 2005
sometimes i love commercials pop culture

Sean "Puffy" Combs on the Proactiv acne-fighting system:

"I didn't want no bumps on my face. I'ma be straight up with you."

...

"It moisturizes my situation; preserves my sexy; an then I'm off to doin' what I need to do."

To be fair, that joint was thoroughly moisturized. Double tru.

comments [1] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
December 25, 2005
December 25, 2005
tricked pop culture

this article reminds me of the time that kyle was visiting in chicago and rj3 and we went to catch the super furry animals concert. and i felt dumb. kyle and i, walking up clark street to the metro, had seen the graffiti in that article being painted by two guys on ladders with massive floodlights. we thought it was cool. then rj3 later pointed out to us that the hardcore old school street graffiti we had seen was actually a PLAY STATION AD. we were full on suckers.

later:

kyle, rj3, catherine, walking past a brick building with a huge miller high life ad painted on the side.

rj3: hey guys! there's some more street art!

comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
December 21, 2005
December 21, 2005
nip/tuck pop culture

you know what? i have to give nip/tuck a hand. it has somehow done the impossible: made me obsessed with its plotline even though i have never actually seen a single episode of the show. the buzz surrounding this season's events was unavoidable, and when i hung out with my little brother over thanksgiving, he gave me the run down on all the happenings so that i now somehow now most of the characters, their dalliances, the deal with the carver, etc. the runup to last night's season finale had me all atwitter: what would happen to kimber? could the carver really be quentin, as obvious a choice as that was? WHAT WAS WRONG WITH ME THAT I WAS SCOURING THE NET FOR INFO EVEN THOUGH I'VE SEEN MORE EPISODES OF SANDRA LEE'S SEMI-HOMEMADE THAN NIP/TUCK and sandra lee makes me want to kill myself? where are my priorities? and is julian mcmahon scorching hot or what?

anyhoo, i've been thinking about asking for the first couple of seasons worth of dvds for christmas. will i love it? will i hate it? will i lock myself in my apartment for two weeks watching it, eating nothing besides kraft singles and oatmeal because that's all i've got in my kitchen back in chicago? inquiring minds (aka mine) want to know.

comments [5] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
December 20, 2005
December 20, 2005
jesus, wine, whatever! pop culture

i somehow love kelly clarkson even more!:

Kelly Clarkson defends her drinking by citing the Bible. Sort of. "Jesus drank," the "American Idol" star tells the January/February issue of Blender magazine. "It came straight from the Bible that he had a glass of wine. Actually, I don't know if it says he actually drank it, but whatever."

comments [2] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
December 04, 2005
December 04, 2005
everything will work itself out pop culture

Some might see Fox's Skating With Celebrities as a depressing sign of our society's cultural bankruptcy. To the contrary, I see it as an unpleasant but necessary step along the road to cultural redemption. After all, Celebrity Cave Diving can't be far off.

comments [6] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
December 01, 2005
December 01, 2005
how you should be spending your wednesday nights lost  - pop culture  - veronica mars

well, lost is on hiatus till january 11 (my birthday! hurrah). and all i can say is: lucky for you. now you can spend your evenings watching a far more deserving and far better and far more satisfying show: veronica mars. and in its honor i am giving it its own category.

i know i've been harsh on lost, and i will continue to be so, but i can't help it: it was such a great first season, and the second one has essentially been, in my opinion, a big ole pile of poo. every episode moves at a snail's pace, barely anything happens, and even less is resolved. we're about, what, halfway into the season, and what have we seen: shannon died; the tailies did their thing and found the front section's camp; locke decided everybody has to push a pointless button every few hours; and, ooh, the missing piece of film for the dharma initiative said to not use the computer for any communication purposes. the thing with walt typing through the computer at the end was pretty awesome and freaky, but the rest of the episode crapped. does anyone actually think jack and kate have chemistry? how terribly sucky and unimaginative was kate's flashback? so terribly sucky and unimaginative that EVERYBODY PREDICTED IT LAST SEASON.

in my opinion, lost is performing the kiss of death: it's making me NOT CARE ANYMORE. honestly, whatever the mysteries are aren't so exciting that i will wait around several seasons to receive any gratification whatosever. last season was great because there was a) one thrilling, overarching mystery and b) small mysteries that took place and were resolved within each episode that were interesting in their own right and often connected in unexpected ways to the island and the overarching themes/mystery.

this season, all we've got is still the Big Mystery, on which we will never get any answers/hints, because the producers have no idea what the Big Mystery actually is and are not dealing with it in any coherent manner...and that's it. every episode now moves slowly (is it just my imagination, or is there a lot more silence/characters speaking incredibly slowly this season?) and very few things actually happen/are resolved within each episode. and what happened to the stompy monster?!?!

on the other hand, you have the excellently-edited, fast-moving and always satisfying veronica mars (though i haven't seen last night's episode yet, so please don't spoil it for me!). trust me: this show is the best show on tv right now. i wouldn't have said so at the beginning of this tv season, but now i'm positive that it is superior to lost. it's got attractive characters, tons of conflict, romance, one Big Mystery that i am CERTAIN the producers know how to resolve, one smaller mystery that i don't doubt ties into the Big Mystery (with grace and her abusive father, and everything else that is going on with meg), episodes that give you clues towards the Big Mystery every week, secondary storylines for every episode that are normally resolved in a satisfying and believable manner, interesting and plausible tensions (race and class dynamics in the community) and great, witty, hysterical dialogue.

please, please, do yourselves and the creators of VM a favor: watch it for the next six weeks (i'm not certain every episode will be new, but there should be at least a few fresh ones in there, and if there are reruns you can catch yourself up). lost draws billions of viewers every week; VM only gets a couple of million, and i don't think it's in danger of being canceled, but every bit helps. it deserves your viewership, and you deserve a non-frustrating show that gives you what you expect out of a top-rate series. UPN, wednesday, 9/8 central. WATCH IT OR DIE!

UPDATE: greg proves that there are still plenty of people out there who are enjoying the show.

UPDATE II: for random hints/tidbits that probably mean nothing but are fun anyway, check out this photo (look at the tv in the background).

comments [7] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
November 30, 2005
November 30, 2005
newsworthy pop culture

Maybe I read the wrong blogs, but this whole Fifty Cent/Bat Mitzvah debacle seems like it deserves more attention than it's been getting. Charles has the details (and links to pictures!).

comments [4] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
22 hours of pure goodness pop culture

one reason (i'm sure amongst many) why austin sounds like paradise: they're hosting a 22-hour veronica mars-athon, with appearances by creator rob thomas, kristen bell, and hottie jason dohring.

is anyone watching tonight? any guesses as to what was in the letter duncan read last week?

comments [4] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
November 23, 2005
November 23, 2005
how about that pop culture

My silly contribution to the Penny Arcade ELoTH:TES project got mentioned in Wired (in the context of a larger article on the wiki). Cool.

comments [7] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
November 15, 2005
November 15, 2005
not borat! pop culture

Via Wonkette I see that the Kazakh government is once again raising a fuss about Borat, Sacha Baron Cohen's much-funnier-than-Ali-G character. This won't stand — God clearly intended for America (and our li'l British buddies) to belittle whomever we want, whenever we want. It's all right there in the Bible, probably. Regime change, anyone?

comments [8] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
November 13, 2005
November 13, 2005
viva biba pop culture

With apologies to Anna Kournikova, Maria Sharapova and Catherine, I present the hottest, uh, " tennis" player ever. All I can say is: God bless ESPN2. I thought that the 3AM Magic: The Gathering tournament coverage I witnessed in middle school could not be topped. I was very, very wrong.

Also: fr1st post (among myself, Charles and Kriston). That means I get dibs, right?

comments [1] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
the VDs pop culture

check out this new york mag column on female sex columnists in new york city. unsurprisingly, everybody's favorite slutty d.c. blogger, jessica cutler, is featured. she comes off as absolutely crazy in the interview. but you know what? she's also the only interesting one.

comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
November 11, 2005
November 11, 2005
torrents! lost  - pop culture  - tech

Lost is here. You might need RAR software to uncompress it before playing it.

Veronica Mars is here (I think).

comments [4] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
long live arrested development pop culture

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

comments [5] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
November 07, 2005
November 07, 2005
boondocks pop culture

Just saw an ad for the new cartoon on Adult Swim. Doesn't look very funny. And I've got to be honest: I don't really care for the comic. It occasionally hits its mark, but no more often than, say, Mother Goose & Grimm (seriously). Plenty of comedians have proven that racial politics are fertile ground for comedy, but the Boondocks' writing is frequently flat, and half the time it seems phoned-in.

Overall: better than Blondie, worse than Foxtrot. If you think I'm an idiot and have a particular strip in mind, I'd love to be proven wrong. But right now it seems as unfunny to me as any other middling newspaper comic.

Also, Aaron McGruder went to the hated University of Maryland. QED.

comments [6] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
October 06, 2005
October 06, 2005
mission impossible pop culture

Wolfson posted this link in a thread over at unfogged, and it seemed interesting enough to pass along. The gist of it: Tom Cruise may carry a genetic defect that could/has affected his ability to give his wives viable pregnancies. Don't follow the link to the photos on that metafilter post if you're easily upset.

If this is true, it's sad. It kind of takes the wind out of the sails of my Cruise-hatred, delicately balanced as it is between intense loathing for a Scientology advocate and sympathy for a guy who appears to have had a pretty tough first act.

Here's hoping that Cruise isn't the father, and that Holmes was artificially inseminated with L. Ron Hubbard's frozen sperm in an elaborate church ceremony. Not only would this be entirely plausible, it'd also go a long way to bringing moral clarity back to my homicidal hatred of celebrity culture.

comments [4] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
October 03, 2005
October 03, 2005
and of course there's the pageantry pop culture

It may surprise you to learn that since Catherine left I have played exactly zero games of Halo. In fact, I've barely played any video games at all. Instead I've been immersing myself in a number of tech projects (one of which should launch later this week). But that can only last for so long. Soon enough I'll ease myself back into the lifestyle of a dissolute twentysomething guy.

On that note, have I mentioned how much I love the WWE? Sure, I don't watch it as much as I used to. But tonight's broadcast of RAW is some sort of three-hour spectacular celebrating the program's return to the USA network, and it's providing an excellent way to reacquaint myself.

Tonight the backstage is packed with luminaries of yesteryear. Tatanka? Hacksaw Jim Duggan? Ted "The Million Dollar Man" DiBiase? Yup, they're all here. Hell, Ric Flair is even still wrestling, if you can believe that. The sight of his overtanned hide flopping around evokes both nostalgia and disgust, like the "salmon loaf" entree that my parents inexplicably served during my childhood.

There's something very compelling about professional wrestling. No, I don't think it's the homoeroticism. No, I don't think it's because I'm stupid. Well, it's not just because of that, anyway. It's that it's a very specific and unappreciated dramatic art, with its own tricks, terminology, traditions and code of honor. It's only fake in the way that a circus performance is fake: there are real feats being performed. But they may not be the ones you think; and (of course), despite the stated motivation they're actually being done for no particular reason. Other than spectacle, that is.

There's a minimalist aesthetic working in wrestling's favor, too. The in-ring promos are just two people playing broad archetypes, with perhaps one prop. The crowd — which, yes, is in on the joke — adds its contribution, not only with boos and cheers, but, in recent years, with specific, formalized chants. Greek chorus, anyone?

Finally, there's the industry's seedy underbelly. The backstage fights; the injuries; the predatory business dealings made possible by the WWE's monopoly. And, of course, the drama is aided by the fact that seemingly every performer is or has been addicted to painkillers (or worse). Anybody else see this? If you haven't, keep an eye out the next time you're at Blockbuster and in the mood for a harrowing documentary. It's fascinating, I swear.

The quality of the product goes in cycles. I tend to get bored after a few weeks. But when a show is well-booked and well-executed, it's pretty goddamn entertaining. I'm not saying it isn't stupid. I'm just saying that more thought goes into this particular type of stupidity than you might imagine.

comments [1] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
September 30, 2005
September 30, 2005
normal is the watchword pop culture

i'm just gonna make this simple: if you aren't watching "veronica mars," you should be. not only is it teh tv hotness (better than "lost," i think), it features a HAWT charisma carpenter (you know, cordelia of btvs fame?) this season. and seriously, everyone compares it so casually to btvs, but it's not for no reason that they do so. if you're looking to fill the btvs-shaped hole in your heart, you could do worse than to check it out.

comments [1] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
September 29, 2005
September 29, 2005
better to be thought a fool pop culture

You know what I really enjoy? When people call into NPR to explain to the world that they don't watch any TV. Bonus points: when they do so within the context of a segment about the new TV season.

Requisite onion link here.

comments [1] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
tv on the internet lost  - pop culture  - tech

Catherine can't get UPN. Susan doesn't have a TV, and if she did it would mostly serve to confuse. How are we going to maintain our shared pop cultural language? Wouldn't it be convenient if someone put up a BitTorrent site offering easy downloads of Veronica Mars and Lost each week? Yeah. Seems like it would.

In totally unrelated news, I've started working on a hacked-up version of Blog Torrent that allows for the creation of private torrents. It won't provide real security — the tracker won't customize .torrents with unique logins, so this is really just security by obscurity — but it should stop those wandering in from the internet from seeing what on offer. I'll release the customized Blog Torrent to whoever else might want this sort of Darknet functionality.

But having thought about it a little more, this is clearly overkill. It'll be useful for DCist since we may occasionally need to ferry large amounts of video among the staff prior to editing it down, and we don't want it to be publicly accessible to everyone. But you lose out on the speed advantage of BitTorrent if your swarm consists of one downloader and one seeder. Plus, I'm running out of disk space. Running my own BitTorrent operation doesn't really make sense.

So: here's what I suggest. It's really simple.

  1. Head to DCist Torrents and click on the "Easy Download" link for any of the torrents listed. Let it walk you through installing the software. It'll automatically detect if you're using a Mac or a PC. Once the download starts, you can cancel it. BitTorrent is now installed on your computer.
  2. Each week I will supply links to the Pirate Bay pages for the torrents of the two shows. Go to the one you want, click the link that looks like DOWNLOAD THIS TORRENT, specify a save location, and your download will begin. That should be it.

Easy enough? Okay, you might need to install one other thing in order to play these files. But there's no getting around that. If your download is complete but you can't play the file in Windows Media Player (or its Mac equivalent), just go here and download and run the appropriate file.

A torrent for this week's episode of Lost can be found here.

A torrent for this week's episode of Veronica Mars can be found here.

Note to angry MPAA peons: I'm not linking to a copy of the TV show. I'm linking to a website that links to a torrent that links to a copy of the TV show. I can add some additional degrees of separation if you'd like.

comments [3] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
September 28, 2005
September 28, 2005
mmm, ryan atwood pop culture

the one thing slightly worth reading to come out of my three years of being subscribed to the arts&sciences newsletter at uva. even though it is not original content and is being reproduced from the boston herald, of all places. should i be excited or sad that the newsletter has come to this? next month: a reproduced profile of FAT HEAD LARRY SABATO FROM PEOPLE MAG.

do you know who larry sabato is? did you go to uva? if you answered yes to the first and no to the second, you will never understand my wrath.

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September 26, 2005
September 26, 2005
OMFG pop culture

remind me to never get a tattoo.

comments [2] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
i know i don't know much about sports... pop culture

but what is up with the ridiculous cross-promotion or just-plain-weird promotion going on by the anchors DURING SPORTS GAMES WHEN THEY SHOULD BE COMMENTATING? i'm watching monday night football (it provides a soothing background for comma studying and article writing), and they just had gina davis on for a painful five-minute interview about her new show, commander in chief, which premieres tomorrow on abc. i understand showing COMMERCIALS during MNF for a new show, but aren't you going to alienate and piss off fans who just want to hear the crazy anchor men talk about, you know, the game, and don't want to look at a creepily masculine gina davis? also, what happened to her? didn't she used to be kind of hot?

i was also watching the cubs' game yesterday on the local tv station (as an aside: i've gone crazy, opted to not get cable, and only get broadcast now, and i soon might find myself missing even michael chiarello) and found an even more mind-bogglingly bizarre promo. i tuned in a bit late, so i'm not sure exactly why this was happening, or in what way it benefited the station, but anyway: they had kids from a local band sing "take me out to the ballgame," and before and after the song kept playing clips of the group, and the 50-something anchors raved, literally gushed, about how mind-blowingingly awesome this band (who looked like a younger, less-cracked-out version of the libertines) was. they then had a band member do commentary for a while on the game with the anchors, except the entire thing turned into a discussion of the local music scene, with the band kid sounding bemused and stoned the whole time while the old guy anchors talked about how great some local indie bands were. NEVERMIND THE BASEBALL GAME OR ANYTHING.

what. the. fuck.

is this a new phenomenon, or have i just somehow managed to avoid it up until now?

comments [6] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
September 15, 2005
September 15, 2005
GOF pop culture

FYI: the official trailer for "the goblet of fire" is up here, and if you look real close, you can catch a glimpse of ralph fiennes as voldemort at the end...and lemme tell you, he doesn't exactly look as good as he did in "the english patient." well, let me rephrase that: he actually looks QUITE similar to how he spent half of "the english patient." the gross-looking half. maybe that's how the director knew to cast him. (UPDATE: a still of voldemort in the film is here, if you're interested in how he looks.)

anyway, the movie looks pretty great, well, if i'm going to base my opinion on the 45 seconds of clips. let's hope it takes after #3 and not #s 1 and 2.

comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
September 08, 2005
September 08, 2005
it's topical for 21 more minutes, then again in 8,580 pop culture

California, man. Fuckin' California. Jeff, are you aware of these people? Do they set up a table at campus events?

(I realize this could easily be old, old news, but I just overheard some guy talking about it tonight)

UPDATE: Their FAQ is pretty funny. Their zine, on the other hand, is pretty scary. Also, there's a band.

comments [4] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
August 29, 2005
August 29, 2005
take a pass on the past pop culture

On Saturday I stumbled across MTV's The 70s House, a reality show in which contestants live in a seventies-themed residence, complete seventies-themed challenges, and irritate me in a distinctly seventies-themed way. Or at least, what I assume to be a seventies-themed way; I was born in 1980, so I'm pretty much taking MTV's word for all of the wood panelling and stupid haircuts. So are the contestants — most of them look younger than me. I'd be surprised if any of them were alive for more than a couple of years starting with 197.

Yesterday afternoon I had lunch with my mom at the Silver Diner in Clarendon, a chain restaurant awash in chrome, patriotically-themed desserts, and looping videos of Elvis. It's like an Archie comic come to life, except without the prurient Betty/Veronica subtext (and therefore totally uninteresting). Again, most of the people there were too young to have been alive for the time period being evoked.

Why do we participate in these ridiculously-themed charades? I realize that nostalgia is a powerful commercial force. But the people buying into these enterprises don't seem to be driven by nostalgia per se, because they don't have relevant memories to evoke. It's more like playing make-believe, but with an unusually boring premise.

I wish someone would inject just a little imagination into these synthetic eras. You know what I'd like to do? I'd like to have dinner in a restaurant devoted to, oh, let's say the 1240s, when people rode tyrannosaurs like horses in undersea cities ruled by a race of heatray-wielding alien vixens. I could see myself getting excited about ordering jalapeno poppers under those circumstances. It's not like I'd know any better.

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August 23, 2005
August 23, 2005
sopranos pop culture

christ. i never thought i'd see the day where i wasn't annoyed by a "guerilla marketing" campaign. but apparently, that day has come.

comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
August 22, 2005
August 22, 2005
summerslam pop culture

I have to say, last night's WWE payperview was surprisingly disappointing. The interesting matches were too short, and I was too out of the house picking up takeout during them. Nuts.

On the upside, the fact that both Ed Gillespie and Ken Mehlman were in last night's MCI Center audience is making me feel pretty good about the newly launched McMahon for President initiative.

comments [1] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
August 19, 2005
August 19, 2005
slam! duh duh duh pop culture

With Kanishka's help I wrote a SummerSlam preview for DCist, and accidentally got excited about it. So yeah -- we'll be getting the pay-per-view on Sunday, and it will no doubt be awesome. Would anyone care to join us? You don't have to know what a hurricanrana is to attend, but you have to want to know.

comments [2] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
gross pop culture

i'm hanging out in my PJs, watching vh1 videos (it's just like summer vacation in high school!) and, UGH, the man who has made me more excited for the fall tv schedule than i have been since season three of buffy the vampire slayer is playing mariah carey's love interest in her video for "we belong together." this just seems wrong.

by the by, speaking of tv, i have to thank susan for heartily recommending veronica mars. i never watched it last fall, but i've been catching the UPN summer reruns and it's excellent. sigh. what am i going to do without tivo next year? i suppose a) study and b) get rid of tv brain rot. so sad.

UPDATE: could gwen stefani's video for "cool" be any more awesome? i have to say i didn't really like the song until i saw the video, and then it all fell into place, and it's the awesomest 80s song ever written in 2005. plus, she looks gorgeous as a brunette.

oh my god. i need a life. please help me.

comments [2] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
August 11, 2005
August 11, 2005
the baby panda is also very hot right now D.C.  - pop culture

In recent days it has come to our attention that many are experiencing increasing difficulty when trying to distinguish between the newborn baby panda and Owen Wilson. In order to resolve any potential confusion, we present this handy chart. It should serve both to help you identify the subtle distinctions between the two, and to spot possible "trouble areas" that may cause confusion. Feel free to print it out and keep a copy in your wallet for quick reference.

Baby Panda Owen Wilson
Dairy-Related Appellation Butterstick Butterscotch
Girls' Opinion Of Highly Favorable Highly Favorable
Nose Stupid Looking Stupid Looking
Anal Regimen Mother engages in prolonged licking sessions to stimulate waste elimination Engages in prolonged licking sessions (motivation unknown)
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August 10, 2005
August 10, 2005
a toast to the host who can boast the most roast pop culture

Wow. So: August. Pretty boring, huh? I'm still avoiding caffeine, which certainly isn't helping, but the emptiness of my bloglines tab is making it tough to satisfy my self-imposed rule about posting something, anything, at least once per weekday. Needless to say, you guys are the big losers in all of this.

So here's all I can muster: why the hell is Comedy Central roasting Pamela Anderson? Correct me if I'm wrong here, but I thought the Friars Club institution of roasting was a way for old comedians to affectionately make fun of other old comedians with some of the filthiest jokes ever conceived. Pamela Anderson is not a comedian, nor is she old. And basic cable's always-improving filth quotient still leaves something to be desired.

I know, I know, other non-comedians like Frank Sinatra have been roasted -- but at least Frank must've brought an entertaining tenseness to the show, as everyone wondered whether he'd have his roasters mercilessly beaten afterward. Pam Anderson offers nothing but the most obvious jokes. She's a totally blank canvas, a sphinx with boobs. In fact, her career can be summed up in a recurring theme: complete failure in any endeavor not solely tied to her sex appeal. Seriously, if you had to write a joke to roast her, where could you go? Boobs, sex tape, commercial failures, hepatitis. We've heard all of it before. An hour of that junk is going to be more depressing than it is funny. You might as well invite Jay Leno*.

* Don't worry -- Jeffrey Ross will be in attendance, and he's not only cheaper, but also every bit as not-funny.

comments [6] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
August 08, 2005
August 08, 2005
aren't we all trapped in closets of our own devising? pop culture

Kanishka sent this to me in email: Cliff's Notes for Trapped in the Closet. Why is Tina mentioned, anyway?

Charles managed to Tivo the complete music video this weekend, which includes a concluding chapter that my mp3 copy is missing -- an important addition. Before, I thought that the saga concluded with the discovery of the condom, leading me to wonder whether Kelly was implying a relationship between Sylvester's wife and her brother 'Twan, making the whole song a smoothly escalating instance of perverse-relationship brinksmanship. Turns out that no, it was just the cop. And nobody gets peed on! It's both a relief and kind of a letdown.

And the video has its own rewards: driving back from Cathy's house, believing his own wife to be cheating, Sylvester ponders "what [he's going to] do and who [he's] gonna do it to when [he] get[s] home", and a momentary flash-edit shows him drawing a gun on himself. Meaningful, dude.

I have yet to unpack any additional layers of allusion and narrative sleight of hand, but I'm confident they're there.

In other news, my tonsils continue to have some weird awful thing going on due to inhaling powdered deck, which is apparently a potent throat toxin. This prevents me from drinking the heroic amounts of caffeine necessary to produce interesting blog posts. So, er, take it away, Catherine!

comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
August 04, 2005
August 04, 2005
sorry, guys pop culture

anybody with a passing interest in beauty products should be reading Jolie in NYC, the latest in a long line of bloggers-who-are-fired for their mostly innocuous blogs...but she got a book deal and several high-profile media appearances out of it all, so i think you can say she's doin' alright. the author, nadine, used to be a beauty editor at ladies home journal and was heading to seventeen before her blog was outed. anyway, she's got a deft, humorous touch, covers celebrity gossip as well, and has the super inside scoop on tons of great beauty products. my repetoire of products is mostly limited to what i can get on sale at CVS, but i still like drooling over her suggestions.

on that note, a few of my latest favorite (yet affordable!) products:

  • matrix volumizing shampoo and conditioner (necessary when you have babyfine hair as straight as a board)

  • clean and clear advantage acne spot treatment. remember when mom said your skin would clear up as soon as you turned 18? keep dreaming. adult acne: the gift that keeps on giving. that said, this stuff works pretty effectively.

  • i've said it before, and i'll say it again: almay skin stays clean foundation.

  • i'm also a big fan of almay's bright eyes mascara. clean, not clumpy, looks natural, and has a two-sided brush that applies and separates.

  • now, a bleg: i've been looking for a good, low-key sparkly sort of cream eye shadow, in a brown tone. maybelline used to have a great one - cool effects cooling cream eyecolor - but i think they've discontinued it. and something i could use even more: a good undereye concealer. i have the Dark Circles From Hell, and nothing covers them up. help me out, beauty bloggers!

  • comments [6] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    August 03, 2005
    August 03, 2005
    ship this pop culture

    there's a funny article in the san francisco chronicle today (SPOILERS! if you haven't read HPB yet. and if you haven't, what the eff is wrong with you?) about "shipping" in the harry potter universe. any buffy the vampire slayer fan worth their salt should know about the phenomenon of shipping: it has nothing to do with boats, but rather intense focus on characters' romantic relationships (and readers' beliefs or desires about who should be having/have had a romantic relationship). i'll put a little more discussion behind the cut so as to protect the innocent eyes of those who haven't yet finished the book...

    MORE...
    comments [4] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    August 01, 2005
    August 01, 2005
    the kids aren't alright pop culture  - science

    We had high hopes for TLC's Feral Children show, but it ended up being less like this:

    batboy lives!

    and more like this:

    starving_child.jpg

    Still, it was all relevant and cognitive scientastic, so I guess I can't complain. But did you guys have to bring out the wire monkey mothers, too? With the maladjusted monkey geeks avoiding eye contact with the cool monkeys and shuffling toward whatever side of the experimental apparatus most resembled a high school prop closet? Cause that was just upsetting.

    comments [4] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    July 27, 2005
    July 27, 2005
    more harry potter pop culture

    well, kevin drum is here again. he's got a post about the half-blood prince that asks the very question i've been pondering since i read the book. it's very spoilery, obviously, but there's a good comment thread.

    UPDATE: as pointed out in drum's comments, there's also a very good thread at alas, a blog, here. spoilers, warning, etc.

    for those still interested, the zunta harry potter thread is here.

    UPDATE II: this is a great theory about the blank that blank blanks. in the cave. heh.

    UPDATE III: and another good theory about the blankity blank blank. dear lord. i need to stop.

    comments [4] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    a model life pop culture

    kriston just sent susan and me this link, which states (or shouts, rather):

    AMERICAS NEXT TOP MODEL WILL BE NEAR THE NATIONS CAPITAL ON AUGUST 20TH AT MACYS 1000 HAYES ST. ARLINGTON, VA. FROM 10AM TO 5PM. LADIES YOU MUST BE AT LEAST 5 FT' 7'. PLEASE ALSO EMAIL PICTURES TO US TO BE CONSIDERED TO COME TO L.A. AND ATTEND TYRAS NEW SHOW, 'THE TYRA BANKS' SHOW AIRING THIS FALL

    susan's response:

    AWESOME. Cath let’s get on the show together and then claw each other’s eyeballs out. I’ll be the virgin anorexic, and you can be the atheist coke addict.

    i'm so in. all i have to do is lose 30 pounds. i think that's where the coke addiction comes in.

    comments [10] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    July 23, 2005
    July 23, 2005
    maybe i'm behind on this but pop culture

    tommy makes fun of me whenever i watch vh1's best week ever, but my liking for the show has JUST BEEN VALIDATED FOREVER because they pointed me towards the awesomest, most bizarre internet clip EVER - really, ever, no kidding - a promo clip for next season of lost, directed by dave lachapelle, showing all the characters dancing in slow motion, dressed in sort of 20s-style-meets-starving-deserted-island getups and smeared makeup to FUCKING PORTISHEAD.

    watch it here.

    comments [3] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    July 18, 2005
    July 18, 2005
    hp and the hbp pop culture

    so, i finished it. i thorougly enjoyed it. and now i'm dying to talk about it. but tommy hasn't read it yet, and if i post any spoilers on here, i think he might cut off my beer supply. for those who have read it, julian sanchez has an excellent and probably correct (spoilerish) point here. i'm also trying to say what i think in the vaguest terms possible so i can't spoil it for everybody, but my guess is that the person who did the very evil thing near the end of the book that made me cry - is it obvious to anyone else that said person is not actually evil? or will turn out to not be evil and have had good reason for doing that?

    i have said too much.

    comments [61] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    July 17, 2005
    July 17, 2005
    at least somebody's go for launch pop culture

    The Futurama straight-to-DVD movie has been greenlit. Woohoo!

    On a totally unrelated note, does anyone else's Tivo temporarily reduce the volume immediately after fast-forwarding? And don't you find it really, really annoying?

    comments [1] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    July 15, 2005
    July 15, 2005
    kids these days pop culture

    This Andy Milonakis thing? Yeah, it's got to be stopped. Is this really the first time TV producers have seen a kid in LOOKATMEI'MWEIRD mode? I'm all for absurd comedy, but it's got to occasionally flirt with actual humor. Otherwise it's just an excruciatingly long non-sequitur.

    Now in my day (hikes up pants) Jeff's younger brother David did this kind of stuff like he meant it. Most memorable: Dave writes "Lookyunko Day" on the calendar. Then he waits. And waits. Eventually Jeff asks, "Dave, what's Lookyunko Day?" and Dave replies, with irritation, "Look, yunko..." and trails off.

    Now THAT'S comedy. Sort of.

    comments [4] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    multiple tanning beds pop culture

    My recent complaints about stealth marketing at the All Star Game might have given you the wrong idea. Sure, I hate ad culture with a passion. But that's only half the story; I'm also a raging hypocrite.

    So with that in mind, allow me to wholeheartedly recommend VH1's Hogan Knows Best. Yes, it's a trashy reality show on VH1. No, it has no redeeming values whatsoever. Yes, it is another small step toward the complete destruction of American culture.

    But, like the scientists who developed the hydrogen bomb, I don't have the time or inclination to consider the implications surrounding my participation in this process. Instead I am entirely consumed by the potential for the endeavor to attain a state of perfection. And Hogan Knows Best is a significant step forward. Allow me to explain.

    Ex-wrestlers are ideal reality TV stars. They have spent years honing their entertainment skills into their crassest, most deadly form. They are visual spectacles trained to convey the maximum drama possible through a severely limited dramatic medium, and they know how to do it with a single set, a few props, and no budget for writers. And, in addition to being well-trained at appearing to be emotionally unstable, many of them actually are (largely thanks to a carney lifestyle and that perennial crowd favorite, substance abuse). Hulk Hogan was very good on the mic, but it would be a mistake to think that he was a knucklehead who just happened to be good at imploring kids to eat their vitamins. It takes a highly specialized set of theatrical skills to become the kind of star that Hogan was.

    In the episode of HKB that I caught, daughter Brooke (age 16) would like to go out on her first date with an older aquaintance (age 22). The Hulkster doesn't like this idea. A simple, central conflict has been established.

    Cut to the next scene. Hulk is working out in his lavish home gym with a former colleague (a round-looking fellow who I think was in the Legion of Doom). The conversation is completely natural, but focused. "You can't let her" changes to "how about a chaperone?" which changes to "you could always spy on her."

    "You know," says Hulk thoughtfully, from beneath a barbell, "That's not a bad idea." Next scene: auto customizer's office. A remote GPS system is surreptitiously installed in Brooke's car. And things unfold from there.

    The show moves forward efficiently, amusingly, and naturally. Other episode highlights include Hulk's pre-date interview with the prospective suitor, and son Nick's revelation, in the midst of remotely monitoring the date with dad, that the young man has nipple rings.

    It's trash, and the storylines are a bit too tightly structured to be believable, but they're fake in just the right way. Reality has always been the Achilles' heel of reality TV. Putting a wrestler in the starring role ankles that problem nicely.

    And did I mention that the show takes place in Clearwater, FL, the location of Scientology's national headquarters? There's something for everyone!

    comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    July 12, 2005
    July 12, 2005
    as if the don mclean association wasn't enough pop culture

    Jesus fucking christ. Argh. Charles and I are watching the All-Star game right now. The broadcast comes back from break, and the announcers tell us (paraphrasing) "a banner's just been unfurled in the outfield" -- and indeed, a large vertical stripe of fabric, seemingly hand-painted, has been draped over a billboard suspended above the outfield, and it's got the letters HHRYA.com painted on it -- "I have no idea what that's supposed to mean, but clearly someone went to a lot of trouble to do it."

    Hmm. Some sort of guerilla website promotion at the All-Star game? Intriguing. It's a little weird that the FOX broadcast would give it exposure, but baseball games, even the All-Star game, consist of an awful lot of airtime to fill with chatter. The HHRYA website is slammed, of course, and the Coral cache won't load, but it gets far enough that I can see it's trying to get content from textamerica.com. Somebody's moblog? Very interesting.

    Well, it's been a few more minutes, and now I can load the site. And you know what? It's a fucking viral marketing campaign for a fucking Chevy. Rewound the Tivo -- hey, whaddayaknow! The banner was draped over a Corvette ad. And the greenscreened batter's box ad for that at-bat was a Chevy billboard. Yeah Joe Buck, I bet you had NO FUCKING IDEA what was going on with that banner. Must be some kind of authentic piece of underground culture asserting itself upon Major League Baseball! Yup, that's the only explanation. Look at those jagged letters! Look at the amateurish fabric! Yes, somebody is really desperate to share their love of an UPCOMING GODDAMN AUTOMOBILE. And they want you to upload your pictures and music to their site! Or something! And become part of the HHR community! WOW! Are tattoos available?

    Man oh man, Chevrolet. I already disliked you for the design abomination that is and has been the Corvette. But now I outright hate you. Fuck you, Chevy. Don't try to relate to me, don't demand my attention, and most of all don't try to fool me. Stay out of my goddamn culture. You make cars. You are not a community, you are not an aesthetic, you are not a way of life, and now you are not a brand I would ever consider purchasing.

    comments [12] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    July 07, 2005
    July 07, 2005
    the c stands for circumspect pop culture

    I caught a little Showbiz Tonight on CNN at the gym. Tonight's show focused on the London bombings. Highlights:

    • "Celebrity Reaction" featuring Tom Arnold and an unidentified male costar. "My girlfriend is from Glasgow, so..." volunteered the costar.
    • A segment with that jerk from Rolling Stone (no, the other one) and some guy from Spin who I didn't recognize, but is probably also a jerk. The topic: will the bombings draw attention away from Live 8's message, and lessen its impact? Sidebar: did 9/11 lessen audiences' ability to clap Tinkerbell back to life?
    • And after the break, three easy, breezy summer looks that won't weigh you down when you're fleeing for your life!

    Okay, I made that last one up.

    comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    July 06, 2005
    July 06, 2005
    i blame the olsens pop culture

    i don't consider myself much of a fashion buff. i know what i like, i buy trendy pieces once in a while, and mostly keep my criticisms to myself. i like to think that most of the time i don't dress like a deranged bag lady, but neither do i consider myself a fashion knowitall. normally i'm all about personal expression. people are gonna wear what they're gonna wear. trends come and go. it'll all be okay, man.

    but this summer, my head, it is exploding. every time i step out on the streets of d.c., i see what i consider to be massively misguided fashion choices that have obviously trickled cross country from hollywood. ginormous shiny bags? check. sunglasses the size of the planet saturn? check. enormous strands of chains and plum-shaped beads draped over the cocaine-flattened bosom? check. shapeless tiered peasant skirts that can make a woman look like she's hiding a family of four? young ladies who seem to think that "geriatric chic" is teh hotness? LEGGINGS UNDER MINISKIRTS?!?! gaaaaaaaaaarh.

    it's a world gone mad. and i, for one, am not sure i can take it anymore.

    comments [1] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    June 24, 2005
    June 24, 2005
    wild eyed and crazy pop culture

    That's how I, and another more notable Tom, are feeling. See, Scientology reveals all of its ridiculous bullshit at a level called Operating Thetan 3, or "OT-3". The levels proceed in order, so OT-1 happens before OT-2, etc.

    Tom Cruise is an OT-6. So he knows about the alien ghosts, and the intergalactic overlord Xenu, and the nuclear volcanos, and storing souls on magnetic tape.

    For some reason, this has kind of sent me into a panic. I had just assumed that they kept the celebrities at a relatively plausible level of doctrine, to better sell themselves to the public. Not so. Wow.

    Oh, and I should probably mention that revealing the above high church teachings to individuals who haven't completed the necessary courses is supposed to induce fatal pneumonia -- which is why the church keeps it secret. So, er, sorry about that.

    UPDATE: proof of amazing OT-3 powers!.

    comments [5] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    June 21, 2005
    June 21, 2005
    bits and pieces pop culture

    things i've been enjoying/not enjoying over the past couple of weeks, squeezed down into bite-sized assessments for your reading pleasure:

    -brendan benson's the alternative to love. fun, retro-sounding, shiny good power pop. at least the first half of the album. the second half, for some unfortunate reason, comes to a grinding halt and enters the realm of total premeditated crap that sounds like pete yorn but somehow even more formulaic. but the first five songs - pure pop goodness. you can download "the alternative to love" here and you can watch the video for "spit it out" here. my favorite is really "pledge of allegiance," and i've got an mp3 for it at home, but can't find it on the internets right now.

    -"mr. and mrs. smith." this movie wasn't half bad, but i thought it could have used a) more rocket launchers and b) more sex. and c) more assassin scenes, because the two scenes where jolie and pitt go off to kill their respective bad guys are pretty kickass. there's a good amount of humor laced through the film, but otherwise i found it kind of clunky. and weirdly slow-paced. definitely not as good as "the bourne identity."

    -"batman begins." i really liked this movie. i don't have any comic book baggage, and i barely remember the tim burton movies, so i had no basis for comparison, which might have affected how i saw it. but i thought it was great. the first 1/3 moved slowly for me - the part where christian bale is off at that ridiculous asian boot training camp - but i thought it picked up as soon as michael caine and morgan freeman came into the picture, and as soon as bale was allowed to inject bits of humor into his delivery. cillian murphy as the scarecrow was weirdly fascinating, and i didn't want to rip katie holme's always-twisted mouth off, though she was certainly the weakest actor in the whole thing. my main beef was the fight and chase scenes - i thought they were shot too dark, too close and too fast for anybody to get a good sense of what was going on.
    UPDATE: it is with much glee that i discovered that katie holmes has been dropped from the "batman begins" sequel while everybody else has been signed. suck it, scientology.

    -the irving penn exhibit at the national gallery. totally fantastic! i just wished they'd had more posters for sale. the only one they had was this one, which i like, but was so straightfoward compared to most of the other stuff.

    comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    June 17, 2005
    June 17, 2005
    Tomkat pop culture

    FYI, everybody: i'm ashamed that tommy beat me to the punch on the announcement of tom cruise and katie's engagement. well, good on him. my embarrassing obsession with repugnant pop culture must be rubbing off, which is great, because now that i'm reading comic books and watching "the justice league" on a regular basis, and, like, quoting lord of the rings or tony kornheiser or whatever, i feel it is only fair.

    i just think it's funny that cruise proposed at what is possibly THE MOST PHALLIC BUILDING ON EARTH, bar the washington monument, but that wouldn't have been in gay paree, n'est-ce pas? do you think he chose the eiffel tower on purpose? like, "hey everybody, here is something that looks like a giant penis, and i also have a giant penis, don't you forget, and it is UBERheterosexual, and i will be using it constantly in the future, and PENIS! STRAIGHT! GO SEE WAR OF THE WORLDS!"

    has anybody ever seen anything faker than this relationship? i have seen silicone breasts the size of watermelons that emote more reality than cruise and holmes. sigh. and of course, i cannot tear my eyes away. i'm seriously worried, like susan, that this entire parade will not end itself before i go away to chicago - not because i will miss anything, but because if it is still going on, i will have to run away to LA and become an entertainment journalist instead of a new media guru.

    comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    beating catherine to the punch pop culture

    Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes are engaged. But then, you already knew that.

    Nobody believes this is a real relationship, but the the exact contours of their sickness remain vague. Is Cruise gay? I don't know. I kind of doubt it. Doesn't that seem a little too conventional?

    I suspect it's something much weirder than that. A horrifying sublimation of his sexuality beneath Scientological principles? Maybe. But right now I'm leaning more toward something like this.

    UPDATE: I guess it could be something like this, too.

    comments [1] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    June 07, 2005
    June 07, 2005
    bag lady pop culture

    taking a page from susan's ET-concern about mary-kate olsen...i don't think things are likely to get better.

    marykate.jpg

    she looks like she raided all the curtains from her grandmother's house and just decided that swadling herself in them was as much effort as she was willing to expend. i mean, count it. she's wearing like 5 scarves.

    comments [3] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    June 06, 2005
    June 06, 2005
    even more lost stuff pop culture

    i'm so sorry. i can't help myself anymore. but this is weird: do you remember the creepy, washed-out woman in the background of the kidnap boat who threw the molotov cocktail on the SS lost? was she actually TINA WESSON OF SURVIVOR FAME? she is listed as a guest star on lost on imdb. and that looks a hella lot like her.

    i mean, what the fuck?

    UPDATE: additionally, that lost guest star page gives a few tidbits about next season; for the first episode of season 2, they list the following:

    Andrea Gabriel .... Nadia
    Neil Hopkins .... Liam Pace
    Skye McCole Bartusiak .... Young Kate
    Angus Scrimm .... Mr. Meahpares
    Tina Wesson .... Alex Rousseau

    tina wesson as danielle rousseau's long-missing daughter? that's gotta be incorrect. for one, they're about the same age.

    additionally, we get an actress playing "young kate," who i assume will delve into even more boring backstories - maybe related to the childhood abuse that i suggested kate suffered (which possibly caused her to murder/harm somebody).

    comments [4] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    June 03, 2005
    June 03, 2005
    more lost stuff pop culture

    So I headed over to the Oceanic Air website that Catherine just posted about. I have a nervous tic when I'm reading web pages, where I highlight and unhighlight text rapidly with my mouse. Well, doing this revealed that the DHTML on the page around the fake President's closure notice is (intentionally?) broken. Dragging your mouse around, you can find an image of a page of the show's script. A page of a (EDIT: presumably) upcoming episode's script. A page about the monster.

    lost-script-small.jpg

    This page, in fact. Click on it for the full-size view.

    Click here for an article about the Mapinguari. Short version: mythical deadly Amazonian bigfoot. The script appears to add "cyborg" to that list of adjectives.

    Rockin'.

    UPDATE: Needless to say, whether the DHTML was intentionally broken or not, fake-crumpled-up script pages don't magically photograph and upload themselves onto servers. It's clearly planted. But is it to throw us off or to tantalize the faithful? I think it's the latter -- the monster's not the punchline.

    UPDATE 2: From the last post I see that Susan found it, too. A time-release easter egg, maybe? It's a little hard to believe that Whitney Matheson's Lost-obsessed acolytes couldn't find it, but we both did within the span of ten minutes.

    UPDATE 3: This is hilariously plausible.

    comments [9] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    lost stuff pop culture

    to help keep us occupied in the lonely summer months...

    1. Go to the "official" Oceanic Airlines Website.
    2. At the bottom, where it says "Travellers," enter Hurley's unlucky lottery numbers: 4, 8, 15, 16, 23 and 42.
    3. Click the "Find" button.
    4. Click on the row numbers on the flight's seating chart that match Hurley's numbers.
    5. Don't blink.
    6. Change shorts.
    7. Figure out what the hell it all means.

    go also here.

    comments [2] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    June 01, 2005
    June 01, 2005
    birthing jack osbourne pop culture

    susan recounts here the hilarious time we had at the beach playing the game of "celebrity," of which i'd never heard but enjoyed enormously because i am a pop culture whore. it's very easy - everybody writes 7 generally-well-known names down on scraps of paper, it's all put in a bowl, you split up into teams and one person from each team goes at a time, drawing a name out of the bowl and, in the first round, trying to get their team to guess who the celebrity is without saying their name. sounds almost too easy, but the subsequent rounds become more difficult - in the second round you must only use two words to describe the celebrity, and the third round, if you make it that far, you do charades.

    the second round was a lot of fun, mostly because you don't use the phrases you might think for the two allotted words. for example, in the first round susan revealed when, attempting to get us to guess "sandy koufax," that he was a baseball player and she could never remember his name when he came up in other trivia (or something along those lines). so the second round, another team drew sandy koufax and merely said, "susan baseball," and that was enough. or, for ani difranco, as susan noted, we could say "ugly musician" and that'd work.

    the charades are where it got pretty difficult, especially since we constantly seemed to be drawing jack osbourne. i ask you, how would you mimic jack osbourne? my instinct, which failed SPECTACULARLY, was to try to a) impersonate a bat (think short little bursts of wings and some circling around) and b) post-bat-attempt, mime somebody viciously biting the head off of something. i can assure you that this drew blank looks all around, and as the confusion spread, i only grew more panicked, hysterically flapping my arms and opening and shutting my mouth. when that didn't work out, i tried to mime, erm...birth. because you see. well. i thought perhaps in the subconscious understandings of my teammates' minds, they would have gotten the "biting off bat's head" thing and merely needed some sort of hint that we were looking for a son of ozzy osbourne here.

    i have a question. have you ever tried impersonating birth? silently? it's not as easy as it looks. and i didn't even think to try to lie down or anything, so my birthing impersonation consisted merely of me semi-squatting and making a sweeping gesture wherein i sort of waved my hands in the general crotch area and then thrust them out over and over again. in my head, post-sixteen margaritas, trust me. it made a hell of a lot of sense. the miracle of life encapsulated in some wild squatting gesticulations.

    which leads me to a second question, which i must know the answer to. how DOES one successfully impersonate jack osbourne in a game of charades? because, um, i already have some crazy plans for saturday night, and i'm gonna need to know.

    comments [1] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    May 26, 2005
    May 26, 2005
    random facts that worry me pop culture

    last night while tommy and i were watching "lost" with susan and kriston, susan referred to some plot point as "like they are heading into mordor." rereading a blog post below, i referred to someone as "pulling an anakin."

    this is a problem. and it will be a problem until i hear one of our boyfriends refer to a moment in pop culture as "totally acting like mr. big!!!" and then drinking a bacardi breezer.

    or until many diamonds are bought to pay for the decimation of our feminine popular culture mental landscapes.

    comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    random facts that amaze me pop culture

    dan castellaneta, who does the voice for homer on the simpsons, also did the voice for the "robot devil" on futurama. does this boggle anybody else's mind, or is the fact that i just drank three vodka tonics playing into the equation?

    comments [8] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    lost pop culture

    it's over! and guess what? WE FOUND OUT ABSO-FUCKING-LUTELY NOTHING!

    thoughts posted behind the cut; include detailed plan to tie up and torture j.j. abrams.

    MORE...
    comments [25] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    May 25, 2005
    May 25, 2005
    harry potter and the dead one pop culture

    via julian sanchez, i see that the gamblin' types think that dumbledore will be the next character to bite it in the upcoming book harry potter and the half-blood prince. though the amount of bets on dumbledore supposedly stems from a leak in the town where the book's printing press is located, i still can't convince myself that it's true. isn't dumbledore too obvious of a choice to die?

    in thinking about it since rowling confirmed a character would definitely be kicking the bucket, i've often thought that percy weasley, obnoxious older brother to ron and his clan, would be the goner. he's shown a tendency to get evil-er and evil-er as the books have gone on, and i can only imagine that he's going to pull an anakin at some point and will need to be killed off. or, or he's going to get a bit too drawn into the dark side, eventually have a crisis of conscience when ron or a member of his family is put at risk, and possibly sacrifice himself to save them.

    either that or the owl. who the hell would miss it anyway?

    comments [6] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    May 24, 2005
    May 24, 2005
    hmm pop culture

    i can't decide which is the crazier tom cruise incident of the day - his insensitive, idiotic, slathered-in-scientology-goodness condemnation of brooke shields' use of drugs to help her postpartum depression, or his totally-fucking-insane performance on oprah (click through for pictures on defamer, where cruise acts like a goddamn monkey flinging his suspiciously hysterical love for katie holmes around like so many feces).

    somebody, please, give him an oscar already, for anything, for a beer commercial, a belated award for the terrible last of the samauris, ANYTHING, so he can go into scientology hiding and leave us all in peace.

    comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    May 19, 2005
    May 19, 2005
    ditto pop culture

    i try to be half-assedly original in most of my posts here, but sometimes somebody else says something so well, something that you have been THINKING YOUR ENTIRE ALMOST-FIVE-YEAR RELATIONSHIP, something that has been coursing through your blood but did not yet have the means to escape through your fingers onto the keyboard, that you just gotta link it and leave it.

    in short: what she said.

    so, like, i guess i'll see you at the gallery place chinatown movie theater tonight, in line for that sith thing. i'll be the one surrounded by manboys in glasses, with a disgruntled look on my face.

    comments [1] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    dilemma pop culture

    so: apparently ron livingston is going to be at the johnston & murphy clothing store tonight from 6-8 p.m. the store about two blocks from my office.

    however. i have somehow gotten roped into standing in line for the opening of "revenge of the sith" with several other people and one other unwitting friend at approximately the same time.

    huh.

    livingston.jpg

    what to do, what to do.

    comments [10] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    May 13, 2005
    May 13, 2005
    yay! pop culture

    from my favorite tv diva's latest column:

    Though they're still dotting I's and crossing T's on the final documents, I'm told Fox network and 20th Century Fox studio are "99.9 percent of the way there" to reaching an agreement on the new season. According to these highly placed sources, it looks very likely that Arrested Development will be coming back not only for a full season of 22 episodes but actually two full seasons of 22 episodes. How freaking fantastic is that?

    At press time, I can tell you this is precisely where the show's fate stands. So, barring any last-minute switch-a-roonies or bad acts by Satan or Rupert Murdoch, we will get glorious "twin" seasons of the best damn comedy on TV.

    According to these insiders, even though the ratings weren't exactly American Idol numbers, Fox's new prez, Peter Liguori, bless his perceptive little heart, has faith that the show will do well in a different time slot. He also wants to bring AD up to the magical episode number required for syndication and feels the show will do very well in repeats and also in DVD. Can I get a "Hell, yeah!"?

    comments [2] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    May 12, 2005
    May 12, 2005
    more lost pop culture

    it's been a while since i blabbered on about my favorite show this season, "lost." and considering i'm still getting comment threads on the last post about it, i figured it was high time to start a new thread on "what the fuck is going on?" some people may not have seen the latest episode, so i'll put my thoughts behind the cut.

    MORE...
    comments [2] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    May 10, 2005
    May 10, 2005
    scooped pop culture

    today's scoop might be the best i've read in months. first off we have craaaazy has-been tara reid, who's apparently decided a walk down the paula abdul path would serve her well:

    The “American Pie’ star showed up at the famed Barnstable Brown party Friday night and tried to get in, even though she wasn’t invited. “A security guard kept her out, and she did the whole, ‘Don’t you know who I am’ thing, and then a whole crowd outside started chanting, ‘Let Tara In! Let Tara In!’” reports an eyewitness. “So they went ahead and let her in.”

    Once inside, reports the source, Reid was an aggressive partier and was downing Grey Goose martinis. “She was going up to male celebrities and trying to cozy up to them, with little success,” says the insider. “She kept trying to talk to Usher, but he pretty much ignored her.”

    The next day, at the Derby itself, a source says Reid showed up in a dirty dress “that looked like she’d been rolling around on the ground.” She went into a VIP room and knocked a woman over and — apparently not realizing her mistake — walked on. When she was informed what happened, she offered to give the woman an autograph.

    then we have this d.c.-specific tidbit at the end:

    Jenna Bush was spotted Saturday night at Cafe Saint-Ex in the Logan Circle area of Washington, DC.. “She was chain-smoking and dressed all in white,” says the source.

    i wonder what the hipsters bitching about saint-ex being taken over will have to say about this? and can it be long before she hits wonderland?

    update: wonkette's gossip roundup spells saint-ex as satin-ex.

    comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    May 06, 2005
    May 06, 2005
    plagiarism! pop culture

    read this entry at gofugyourself.com. then read this bit on eonline.com (dated later than the fug one). is the mainstream media (well, if E! can be considered MSM) plagiarizing from blogs?!

    UPDATE: tommy has informed me dismissively that he does not consider this plagiarism. bah. but i still think it's highly suspect.

    comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    May 05, 2005
    May 05, 2005
    geek alert pop culture

    pretty funny, tho. link.

    comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    "we're going to catch the world in the headlights of my justice" pop culture

    Stephen Colbert's getting his own show (link via Atrios). Awesome. It'll air after the Daily Show, and the plans is for it to go after the pundit half of the cable news establishment. I'm expecting an absurdist O'Reilly Factor with the egomania somehow ratcheted up.

    I don't know if there are four nights' worth of material available per week to power that concept -- but as a fan of the impossibly funny Strangers With Candy, I'm eager to find out. The scene from season 2 where Colbert mimes a clown committing suicide reduces me to drooling, hysterical, drowning laughter pretty reliably.

    comments [1] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    April 19, 2005
    April 19, 2005
    talking garbage can pop culture

    via Slashdot, check out these pics of a Bender-shaped computer case. Includes mouth-mounted slot-feed CDROM drive!

    As impressive as Justin's Bender costume? One can be plugged in, the other can consume beer. Tough call.

    comments [1] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    April 14, 2005
    April 14, 2005
    guilty as charged misc  - music  - pop culture

    What do you do when you like money and elitism, but don't have enough money to be really elitist? Do the indie self-identification shuffle: cyclical self-loathing and self-deprecation. Alternately, if your monetary or indie cred prospects aren't looking good, take a preemptive turn to vitriol (joke's on their subtitle: my blogging sucks and they don't seem to know about it).

    It's all pretty predictable and tiresome -- but why wait for affluence and middle age to wipe it from your troubled mind? Oddly enough, Pitchfork offers the wisest solution to the unsustainability of the scenester psyche.

    comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    April 13, 2005
    April 13, 2005
    memer memer pop culture

    kriston and matt are doing a meme which is "invitation only," but i'm crashing the party because it looks like fun: List five things that people in your circle of friends or peer group are wild about, but you can’t really understand the fuss over.

  • i am pretty sure i am going to get shot for this, but anything from radiohead post "kid a." hell, i'd even include "kid a" in there because "the bends" and "ok computer" are so mind-staggeringly brilliant that the bleeps and bloops and toneless muttering of the last three records sound like drivel tapped out on a mac recording program. which is exactly what they were! every time i'm in a conversation where someone is fawning over the mindbending awesomness and "advancing experimentalism" of "hail to the thief," i feel like i am trapped in a seriously unfunny nightmare where thom yorke has tied me to a chair and is forcing me to listen to him play a fisher-price electronic keyboard for hours on end.

  • somebody mentioned this in the comments over at matt's - garden state. i'm not trying to be pretentious (for once) but i didn't get the hubbub at all over this film. it was cute, sure, and i thought zach braff and natalie portman were pretty adorable, but it was all so obvious and right-out-film-school-y. the relationship with the father just needed to be cut from the film; the whole cleansing-screaming-in-the-rain scene was cliched; and it was just generally too precious. i mean i liked it, but...yeah.

  • desperate housewives. wtf? bad acting, bad plots, bad dialogue. felicity huffman is the only halfway bearable person on that show. where were all her fans when "sports night" was being canceled?

  • new york city. i know, i'm crazy. this is stupid of me, considering i've only been there a few times, but i can't stand the place. i really think that it says more about me than the city, though. but i just feel like every time i'm there it's raining, i'm lost, and a homeless man/potential rapist is stumbling towards me.

  • blogging. totally overrated.

  • comments [17] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    third way of the warrior politics  - pop culture

    Those who don't frequent political blogs but maintain an interest in Warriorcentric stories: this one's for you. Yes, you, Jon.

    The Ultimate Warrior's in the news because of his homepage being featured on SomethingAwful last week as their Awful Link of the Day. The Legal Counsel of the Warrior issued a C&D letter, which SA ignored.

    Oh, and he was recently invited to UConn to speak to the Young Republicans club. It didn't go so well, as you can tell from the statements here, here, here or here. For Warrior's full-length ramble on the subject, see here.

    But that's just one incident. You really need to get a broader perspective on the contemporary Warrior phenomenon to fully appreciate it. You might start with his list of key concepts -- among them, "foke" and "destrucity". As far as I can tell he's trying to put together a political movement/cult centered around a wrestling-flavored varietal of the ubermensch concept, sprinkled with generous portions of homophobia and a homoerotic body obsession. It almost makes Adam Yoshida sound reasonable.

    comments [1] trackBack [1] posted by tom - link
    April 12, 2005
    April 12, 2005
    once more pop culture

    charles just put on the buffy the vampire slayer musical that he tivo'd the other day. goddammit. and i was going to go to bed early, too.

    best musical ever? discuss. when giles and tara go into that duet, i always die a little bit on the inside.

    comments [2] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    April 10, 2005
    April 10, 2005
    *sigh* pop culture

    Douglas Adams fans: prepare to be disappointed. (Slashdotted -- cached copy here).

    (The author of the review, MJ Simpson, is the late Mr. Adams' biographer).

    comments [2] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    April 08, 2005
    April 08, 2005
    duh vinci pop culture

    i don't know what's stupider: that somebody wrote a book called Truth and Fiction in The Da Vinci Code, or that people are willing to pay $125 to watch him speak.

    comments [3] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    April 04, 2005
    April 04, 2005
    oh, also pop culture

    I wrote a review of Sin City over at BTD this past Sunday. Got this in my inbox today:

    Futurama, episode 4.12...
    Leela: I didn't want to leave them either Fry but what are we supposed to do?
    Fry: Well, usually on the show someone would come up with a
    complicated plan then explain it with a simple analogy.
    Leela: Hmm. If we can reroute engine power through the primary weapons
    and reconfigure them to Melllvar's frequency that should overload his
    electro-quantum structure.
    Bender: Like putting too much air in a ballon!


    Tom...
    The tropes of film noir that Miller triumphantly collected, distilled
    and unleashed as epic archetypes don't always fare well in the
    transition back to their source medium, like an audio cassette copied
    too many times.


    love,
    -jeff

    Damn you, Nye! That's what I get for letting my brain's thesaurus function run amok while the rest of it is still hungover.

    comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    i defy you to name a greater event in sports entertainment pop culture

    Ah, Wrestlemania. Where champions are crowned! Or at least given gigantic belts. Last night Jon and Kanishka joined Charles and myself to take in the spectacle. Having not watched wrestling in a couple of years, I was expecting to be adrift among the new faces and nuanced plotlines, but with the help of Kanishka's encyclopedic wrestling knowledge, I was able to piece together the web of relationships: it turns out that if a wrestler dislikes girls, America or drinking beer, their activities may not be entirely on the up-and-up. Something to keep in mind.

    If you're genuinely interested, wrestling columnist/dimwitted fascist Mr. Tito has got a full run-down of the show. For my part, I'll say that the HBK/Kurt Angle match didn't disappoint, and Randy Orton/Undertaker was every bit as entertaining as you'd expect a showdown between a pampered wrestling scion and an unstoppable undead juggernaut to be. And the ladder match was, as usual, a testament to the inspiring human capacity for inventing new ways to hit each other with ladders.

    But the evening's most offensive -- and therefore most entertaining -- moment came early, when Eugene, a wrestler who pretends to be developmentally disabled, took the mic to share his childlike enthusiasm for Wrestlemania with the sold-out Staples Center crowd. Unfortunately for him, the sinister Muhammad Hassan, a wrestler who pretends to be Iraqi, didn't take kindly being denied a piece of Wrestlemania (and the political self-determination that it clearly represents). Long story short, Eugene ended up in the excruciating Camel Clutch while Hassan's associate screamed faux-Arabic gibberish at him.

    Well, thank goodness someone put a stop to this outrage. Resplendent in a yellow and red feather boa, and accompanied by his signature theme "Real American", Hulk Hogan strode into the arena with a creaky determination. Although he's in his fifties, Hogan's iconic status and sheer Americanousity were enough to paralyze Hassan, leaving him little more than a punching bag for Hogan's deliberately-paced geriatric onslaught. "Probably the greatest American, ever," was Jon's assessment and, not knowing very much about American history, I am inclined to agree. We immediately formulated plans to rechristen our nearest traffic roundabout "Hogan Circle".

    Okay, the marquee matches were a little boring -- maybe it was just that the novelty begins to wear off around hour 3. But hometown hero Batista took the title, good mostly triumphed over evil, and nobody got paralyzed. What more can be said? Only this: I love this stupid shit.

    comments [4] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    April 01, 2005
    April 01, 2005
    no, you're fake pop culture

    Well, my fortunes in my various NCAA pools aren't looking too good at the moment. But that's alright, because flipping through the channels on Thursday I was reminded that the INDISPUTABLY LARGEST SPORTS entertainment EVENT OF THE YEAR IS OCCURRING THIS SUNDAY!

    That's right folks, Wrestlemania XXI is upon us, and there's drama a-plenty. Will underdog caucasian rapper/wrestler John Cena be able to stand up to the plutocratic might of Texan blueblood/financial analyst/wrestler John "Bradshaw" Layfield? Will the relative no-name Randy Orton pose a challenge to the undefeated, undead Undertaker? Will Rowdy Roddy Piper's geriatric status keep Stone Cold Steve Austin from crippling and/or spilling beer on him? There's just no way to know. Well, no way that doesn't involve dropping $50.

    I haven't watched pro wrestling in quite a while, but back in the day I fashioned myself a so-called "smart mark", one of those guys who would watch every week for the spectacle, the nasty backstage gossip and, let's face it, the ludicrous macho pageantry. This Sunday evening seems like a good time to catch up on who's on top, who's popping pills, and who's dead. So who's in?

    comments [1] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    March 28, 2005
    March 28, 2005
    wondering pop culture

    question: how can steve carell be SO FRICKIN HYSTERICAL in "anchorman," yet just tepidly, barely funny on the office?

    it boggles the mind.

    comments [8] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    March 25, 2005
    March 25, 2005
    awesome pop culture

    if you watched this week's episode of american idol, you might have noticed that paula abdul seemed a little, well...more crazy-ass than usual. she slurred words, pawed simon even more than normal, lolled her head around and was just plain weird.

    but we should have seen the signs a-comin'; it's clear that paula was on the verge of a COMPLETE INSANE BREAKDOWN, the description of which is so totally awesome that i must post most of it here:

    Abdul flew to Kuala Lumpur last Friday for the Force of Nature Tsunami Aid benefit as the guest of the King and Queen of Malaysia. She joined the likes of Lauryn Hill, Wyclef Jean, Jackie Chan, Bai Ling, Joey Fatone and the Black Eyed Peas. Abdul introduced Hill at a gala concert.

    The next day, however, Abdul was at her suite at the Kuala Lumpur Ritz-Carlton when she learned that Los Angeles authorities planned to file a criminal charge against her for a hit-and-run incident she was involved in last December, which carries a maximum penalty of up to six months in jail.

    Abdul was scheduled to have tea with the king and queen at the Malaysian Royal Palace on Saturday but refused to leave her bed, our source reports. A girlfriend who accompanied her on the trip told her she had to pull herself together and attend, since the royals were footing the bill. But when Abdul and her pal returned to the hotel, the pop star flipped out.

    Abdul scratched her friend's face and the fracas was seen by a Ritz-Carlton staffer who entered the room. Before long, word of the fisticuffs spread among the other celebs staying at the hotel.

    We're told that Abdul finally cooled off, but the next day, she flipped out again during her flight back to California with the friend. She threw a bracelet at her pal and screamed that the friend "owed her money" for a hamburger she'd consumed at the hotel.

    fisticuffs over a freakin hamburger? paula, get your act together. this is not the kind of attitude i expect from someone representing the fine folks of american idol. clean yourself up, get off the quaaludes, and stop having sex with simon. it's obviously not helping.

    also, WHO IS THIS FRIEND that puts up with a crazy bitch scratching her face and demanding repayment for $5 hamburgers? that's not friendship; that's a little thing called abuse.

    comments [1] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    March 24, 2005
    March 24, 2005
    teaching grammar with celebrity shame pop culture

    Pat O'Brien has been a bad boy.

    Michael Jackson has been bad with boys.

    Diagram and discuss.

    PLUMPERS!?

    comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    March 10, 2005
    March 10, 2005
    the truth is out there pop culture

    i haven't done any "Lost" blogging in a while, and with the show in reruns until mid-april or so, i won't be doing any for the forseeable future. but i received a comment yesterday evening on some show theories that i think deserves some really serious consideration, so here it is. discuss.


    Name: Taodallan

    Comments:

    I can't beleive none of you have thought about the possibility thats its aliens. let me give some reasons why i think its aliens.

    - 1. the mystery numbers that were found on a transmition 16 or so years ago that the french lady changed. the numbers make weird things happen.

    -2. the radio tower that was on the island before the shipwreck

    -3. The weird bunker( Spaceship?) that has the numbers on it.

    -4. Ethan not being on the plane in the first place and being extremely agile and strong

    -5. Walts mysterious ability to make weird things happen (possibly a later connection with him and the numbers)

    -6. the cable going into the ocean definatly spells out some sort of underground facility or spaceship

    -7. the voices Saheed and Sawyer heard

    -8. Saheed saying when he got back from the frech lady "were not alone" a common alien cliche.

    -9. The dead bodies from 60 or so years ago...possible dead aliens or original inhabitants of the island.

    -10. the polar bears and the compass..both impling a normally cold climate....(aliens changed the climate to fit there liking)

    thats about it but i would say that aliens are a BIG possibility.

    but who really knows all we can do is wait. And ...unfortuantly because of its success we probably wont find out the full story for another 2 or 3 seasons. oh well more to watch and hypothesis about than.

    comments [3] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    March 09, 2005
    March 09, 2005
    duff this pop culture

    god LORD, harvard students can be arrogant assholes. hillary duff starts taking classes at the university's extension school, and the crimson feels a need to write a bitter, snippy and not-even-close-to-clever editorial about it? leave the poor little celebrity alone. she's just trying to learn real good, y'all hear?

    comments [12] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    extreme home philanthropy pop culture

    browsing around the d.c. blogosphere today, i came across a recent post by brooke at obernews concerning my favorite sob-inducing show: extreme makeover:home edition.

    I'm not ashamed to say that I cry at almost every episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. You'd have to be practically inhuman not to. There's something satisfying about seeing actual good happen in the world, even for someone as jaded as I fancy myself to be.

    you don't want to be sitting next to me if we're watching extreme home makeover on a sunday night together, because it's bound to be awkward and uncomfortable for everyone involved. i usually start off with a few sniffles and an attempt to restrain myself for the sake of tommy and charles' manhoods, because everybody knows boys suffer mental meltdowns when confronted with a female's tears. but unfortunately, the occasional times that i happen to catch EHM always seems to coincide with a monthly bout of PMS, and i usually end up sobbing hysterically into tommy's tear-soaked t-shirt, burbling, "the-hey-hey gave the parents a hot tub and the daughter a schol-hol-arship to the fashion institute of technology! OH MY GA-HAW-HAWD [insert unconstrained wails]!"

    in case you haven't ever caught the show, it's hosted by ty pennington, the unbelievably annoying carpenter from trading spaces. every week, ty and his crew of jolly interior designers pick a needy family with a particular affliction (dad's gone off to iraq; son's in a wheelchair; house had a car crash into the living room and they can't afford to repair it; a few weeks ago it was two homeless families) and build them sweet new digs, complete with personalized touches. the whole thing is sponsored shamelessly by sears; the product placements are brazen and abso-fucking-lutely everywhere. sears' logo appears in glowing, angelic light about every fifteen minutes, accompanied by melodic trumpets and what have you.

    but i don't really have a problem with this, and neither, thankfully, does brooke:

    Between the obscene amount of product placement and the general feeling of goodwill generated by corporate benevolence, there's big money to be made in philanthropy.

    As anecdotal evidence, I hadn't been to a Sears in many years, but when faced with the decision between Sears and Marshall Fields one day in Chicago a few weeks ago, I decided to patronize Sears purely because of the warm fuzzy feeling it gave me to contribute in some small way to the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition project. (Let add some weight to this decision by adding that I often make up reasons to visit my mother in Chicago just so I can go to Marshall Fields--that I should forgo a trip to Marshall Fields to visit Sears, of all places, speaks volumes.)

    So it wasn't just a nightgown for my mother that I bought: Sears has, in a way, put the very idea of philanthropy up for sale. I didn't have to do anything particularly philanthropic. I bought something that I was going to buy anyway, I came away feeling like I had done something to benefit a good corporation that would in turn do a good deed for a nice family, and Sears made a sale that it otherwise wouldn't have made.

    I'm not sure exactly what my point is, but it strikes me as something libertarians generally should be particularly pleased with: whether it's selfishness masquerading as philanthropy or vice versa, there is a strong and thriving market demand for philanthropy. The ratings for EMHE prove it. I'm not suggesting ABC and Sears will be taking over the functions of the welfare state anytime soon, but still, I'd say there's strong support for the argument that communities--with a little help from ABC and Sears or other corporate sponsors (who can easily be convinced to help if it turns a profit)--can take care of their own.

    there are plenty of people out there who will argue against me in this point, and i don't blame them, but i have absolutely no problem with sears profiting off EHM. my take is that corporations are going to do whatever they can to maximize profits and sales anyway, so they may as well throw some philanthropy into the mix, right? i know and accept the fact that my perception of sears and any other company contributing to the show are being totally manipulated, but if i'm going to be manipulated by ads, environment, social constructs anyway, why not have it be in this manner?

    a while back when tommy and i were discussing the show, i believe he brought up the point that shows like this are ridiculous, because a) they exploit the subjects and b) it seems as if they're doing a lot for poverty, when really, they aren't doing very much; they don't help out a large number of families, and the money could be better spent on federal programs or in another more large-scale manner. i agree with all of this, but i can't get past the fact: corporations and tv execs are going to do bad, manipulative stuff anyways that's not going to help anyone except their bottom line. so why not take on this format and help out a family here or there along the way?

    but maybe i'm just a sucker. feel free to slam my naive ass in comments.

    UPDATE: in comments, both kriston and scott have pointed out good reasons why i am indeed a naive sucker, and today slate has an article on the ever-annoying ty pennington, which is mostly positive but reveals:

    What we're saying is, Ty is not an excessively introspective creature. His do-gooding can be so relentless that it sometimes leaves its recipients in a pinch. As Newsweek has pointed out, an Extreme Makeover makeover could add thousands of dollars in new property taxes—which, in all likelihood, the owners couldn't afford. Last year, Ty led his troops on a mission to house on a depressed block in Watts, in South Central Los Angeles. The team performed its usual miracles, never bothering to consider the social consequences of erecting a fortress that towered over every other house on the block. And then there's the nagging feeling that building a 5,300-square-foot home, however magnanimous an act, may not be the most appropriate solution for a problem like sewage backup.

    comments [11] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    but he's australian... pop culture

    phew! that was a close one. turns out that al-quaeda correctly surmised that smashing planes into the world trade center and killing thousands of people wouldn't have terrorized americans enough - they might have also been plotting to kidnap russell crowe as part of a plan to "culturally destabilize" the united states:

    The Australia-based Crowe told GQ magazine in an interview that he received FBI protection throughout the filming of "A Beautiful Mind" and for part of "Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World." He also was flanked by undercover agents at the Golden Globe awards ceremony in 2001.

    When asked who might have been targeting him, Crowe replied: "Um ... well, that was the first conversation in my life that I'd heard the phrase al Qaeda."

    ..."I don't think that I was the only person (targeted). But it was about -- and here's another little touch of irony -- it was about taking iconographic Americans out of the picture as a sort of cultural-destabilization plan," he said.

    wow. close call, that one. let's just hope the terrorists don't go after brad pitt - my world would be turned upside down.

    comments [1] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    March 03, 2005
    March 03, 2005
    haw haw pop culture

    Have a look at this. And no, despite all indications to the contrary, I am not twelve years old.

    ALMOST RELATED BONUS: Kriston sent me this yesterday.

    comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    February 23, 2005
    February 23, 2005
    hilton hacking update pop culture  - tech

    Turns out I misspoke yesterday when I wrote about Paris Hilton's Sidekick getting hacked. Although all T-Mobile user accounts were hacked a while ago, that isn't what happened to Paris. Engadget reports that the crafty thieves just managed to guess the answer to Hilton's lost password question -- "what's your favorite pet's name?"

    So I suppose it's kind of a punishment for her television show... I guess. I was sort of hoping for something involving skewers.

    comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    February 22, 2005
    February 22, 2005
    speaking of movies pop culture

    I caught a little bit of the much-loved Moulin Rouge on TV not too long ago, and I've been meaning to ask: what the hell is wrong with you girls?

    It's not that I dislike the actors, or the plotline, or watching celebrities die of tuberculosis. In fact, I even like musicals: I think the Buffy musical episode was great!

    But what possible reason is there for the movie's bizarre timing? Or the odd sound effects that accompany the constantly-swooping camerawork? Or the outbursts of "ohmigodthisisSOfunny"-high-school-improv-workshop-style hamminess?

    Well, I suppose I shouldn't hope to comprehend the work of an artist capable of creating that goddamn sunscreen song -- that ML director Baz Luhrmann could create an artifact of such bottomless banality makes me think his films ought to be viewed with the same sort of critical eye directed toward, say, the cinematic ouevre of a costume designer.

    But really, I don't dislike Moulin Rouge -- I just find it astoundingly strange. Watching it makes me feel like I have a neurological disorder.

    comments [1] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    February 18, 2005
    February 18, 2005
    vogue weekly pop culture

    maybe i'm just giddy that it's friday, but i found this vogue italia fashion spread to be the perfect bit of entertainment for those of us who revel in low class celebrity trash but aspire to be highbrow, tasteful fashionistas. frankly, i think it's brilliant. [via shesbitter]

    vogueitalia.jpg

    comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    just click it pop culture

    GO TEAM VENTURE

    comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    it's friday pop culture

    Spend it reading comics.

    Scary Go Round has got a good story going on, plus its usual amazing artwork.

    And Boy On A Stick And Slither has been on a mini-roll lately.

    comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    bullshit pop culture

    American Dad will be replacing Arrested Development

    Arrested Development's quality seems to have fallen off a bit this season, but American Dad is an abomination. Unfortunately, Fox executives saw that it drew 15 million viewers in its post-Superbowl debut -- that's way more than the 6 million Arrested Development gets every (non-Superbowl) week! QED.

    comments [8] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    February 17, 2005
    February 17, 2005
    zombies in paradise pop culture

    i haven't written about "lost" in a while, but reading over this msnbc recap of last night's episode, i'm reminded of charles's theory:

    Line of the week: As almost always, the best line belonged to Hurley. When helping Charlie bury Ethan, he responded to Charlie's "I killed Ethan, I can bury him" with "Yeah, until he rises from the dead." Seems that Hurley, like many viewers, isn't sure that such a powerful evil man can be killed with a simple gun.

    a hint of zombies to come?

    anyway, did anyone else watch the show last night? while it was somewhat slow-paced and light on freaky monsters, i thought it was a nice bit of character development. also, sawyer and kate are totally going to hit it.

    UPDATE: i just have to give a nod to this local blog in their recap of last week's OC, mostly because i sprayed my monitor with caramel macchiato when i read them call rebecca, sandy's former love-interest-fugitive chick, "an animatronic butterbeast, like Abby Bartlet's slightly-younger but still melty sister." most excellent.

    also noted: defamer's take on the much-hyped lesbian kiss that took place last week: "We’ve gotten hotter kisses from fat aunts who were pinching our cheeks until we cried. Showing her usual deep commitment to the craft of looking uncomfortable anytime a camera is pointed at her, Barton snapped her mouth closed tighter than a former child actor’s asshole when “Beat It” plays on the radio. Merely showing up for work and pressing your lips against someone else’s do not a sweeps ratings stunt make, Mischa. When you don’t deliver the tongue with the season on the line, don’t be surprised to find your character solving her identity crisis by taking a four-slice toaster with her into the jacuzzi."

    comments [1] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    January 31, 2005
    January 31, 2005
    super mario kart pop culture  - tech

    I'll fess up: I like talk radio. I start most days listening to the Tony Kornheiser Show, then Don and Mike in the afternoon. NPR fills the lunchtime gap. Occasionally I'll even drag out Charles' XM receiver and turn on Al Franken's show. I know it's not good for me, but it's easier than picking out music.

    It's a shame that I mostly listen on weekdays, though -- in the DC area, Saturdays are when things get really good. I'm thinking in particular of This American Life and Studio 360. I usually prefer TAL, but this week's Studio 360 was all about videogames -- so naturally I was intrigued. You can find the "this week's show" page here; it looks like eventually the videogame episode will move to the archives here.

    The episode was quite good, providing listeners with a quick background summary before launching into a piece on how games affect people and a segment on the military's use of game-like simulators for training. All of this was tied together by insightful banter between Kurt Andersen and Clive Thompson, Slate's videogame critic.

    But the most interesting segment focused on an guy named Cory Arcangel, an artist who uses old NES cartridges as his medium. Arcangel's been shown at the Whitney Biennial, where, among other things, he displayed what seems to be his most heralded work: a piece called Super Mario Clouds. SMC is an installation of three projectors showing a looping animation of clouds coming from a hacked Super Mario cartridge. It looks like this (taken from Arcangel's site):

    Super Mario Clouds, by Cory Arcangel

    This may seem a bit silly and frivolous. I think that's normal; it's pop art, after all. Irritating though these NES references may be, we're only going to see more of them. The MiniBosses are enjoying considerable success doing rock covers of songs from classic videogames; and apparel pushing 8-bit nostalgia is keeping our nation's unemployed musicians warm. It makes perfect sense: loving videogames is as close to a universal boyhood experience as anything. It's a touchstone, and both marketers and artists are going to use that to their advantage.

    But which is Arcangel? I can't say that I'm sure. Looking at a sampling of his work confronts the tech-savvy viewer with a chicken and egg problem. Much of his art can have conceptual significance ascribed to it -- but did Arcangel himself know the piece's meaning prior to its completion? Customized Nintendo games will no doubt seem novel and impressive to the normal, non-geeky art-lover. But people have been hacking cartridges for a while without demanding artistic kudos. Making Tetris insanely slow only requires the alteration of a few bytes of the game's code. So Arcangel isn't inventing a new type of canvas, or even pushing the boundaries of an established one. It therefore seems critically important to know whether he's coming up with new ideas, or just a new way of marketing a dorky hobby.

    The case for Arcangel as a serious artist trying to communicate his ideas isn't helped by stupid, jokey pieces like NIpod -- a hacked cartridge with an iPod-like interface that can play the likes of Weezer and Lil John; or I Shot Andy Warhol, a modification of the light-gun game Hogan's Alley that turns the bad guys into pixellated Warhols; or, most despicably, Doogle, a version of Google that only returns results related to the show Doogie Howser, M.D.. These last three works all seem pretty lousy to me, but they're also considerably more complex technical achievements than the relatively pleasing Super Mario Clouds, adding to the possibility of SMC and Arcangel's other best pieces being merely the good bits culled from mountains of thoughtless technical noodling.

    I think this opens up a more fundamental question about artists and the materials they use. Arcangel seems beholden to his medium. Did he conceive of Super Mario Clouds and then decide to implement it? Or was he fucking around with ROM hacking and realized he could market a sub-par tech demo as art? I don't know the answer to that, but I think the line between those processes marks the delineation between "art" and "arts & crafts". I suppose this puts me in the unpleasantly complicated camp of believing a piece of art can't be divorced from its creator's intent and personal history. But for all the pretension and subjectivity such a stance introduces, it still seems preferable to getting suckered by endless medium-specific variations on solarized photos: engaging tricks with meaning ascribed only after their fabrication.

    Unfortunately it also means I won't really know what I think about Arcangel's work until I know exactly how he makes it.

    comments [7] trackBack [1] posted by tom - link
    January 27, 2005
    January 27, 2005
    are we done exploiting krunk? already? pop culture

    Is this what that guy on American Idol was talking about? Well, count me as another clueless white guy, but Krumping is still new to me, despite its apparently having been around for years. Fortunately for the likes of my out-of-touch self, glossy celeb photographer and Warhol protege David LaChapelle is going to teach us all about it (from a safe distance, of course) via a short feature called Krumped. An award-winner at Sundance, the film chronicles the emerging west coast dance movement notable for its rejection of hiphop materialism and its participants' tendency to wear clown makeup. No, not like that. More like this. You can read an interview with LaChapelle about the whole thing over at Salon.

    Seems pretty interesting, although sometimes I half-wonder whether young black Americans secretly get together and plan out their fads with an eye toward making MTV look as silly as possible when it inevitably steals their ideas. "Carson Daly in clown makeup, people. Come on, this is going to be great!"

    UPDATE: While you're at it, check out some of LaChapelle's portraits. I'm no photography expert, and his stuff is of a particular sort that many people may not like -- bright, saturated pop photography with lots of too-cute ideas -- but I still find the shots pretty astounding. If nothing else they're eye-catching.

    comments [3] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    January 25, 2005
    January 25, 2005
    buzz pop culture

    sometimes i love the celebrity puff profile pieces in the post's style section. oh, who am i kidding? i always love them! and today they've got what i think is a particularly fascinating piece on PR guru jonathan cheban, whose job it is to raise the profiles of whatever products have hired him to work on their advertising campaigns. basically, it means he's got to get stuff like evian water bottles or certain products into music videos or the pages of US weekly - because if you can get a shot of lindsay lohan wearing your company's shoes or chatting away on your company's cellphone, it both creates a lot of buzz and saves you millions of dollars in paid advertising.

    cheban is apparently a genius at this kind of stuff. but this time around, a PR marketing firm has given him what seems like the most impossible of jobs: making lean cuisine cool!

    "It costs $50,000 to get your product in a rap video now," explains Ryan Berger, the head of "buzz marketing" at a company called Euro RSCG Worldwide, the same firm that handles Evian. "That's why Jonathan is so crucial. He makes it okay for Paris to hold that Evian bottle."

    This week, Berger is betting heavily on Cheban. He's hired him to fly to the Sundance Film Festival and bestow the penumbra of chic on something that sounds utterly chic-proof: Lean Cuisine. Yes, Cheban's mission impossible is to somehow finagle frozen dinners into the arms of some bold-faced names, and then immortalize that moment in the pages of Us Weekly, or one of its rivals.

    The tough part is that Sundance is essentially the Mall of America during the festival. Cadillac, Nautica, Philips, Hewlett-Packard, Heineken and dozens of other companies -- they're all going, too, trying to sideswipe a celebrity long enough to generate an image that can be "serviced," as it's known in the biz, to the press.

    "The dream would be to have a Hilary Swank or a Will Smith get hungry at midnight, when all the restaurants are closed, and order 10 boxes of Lean Cuisine to their condo," Berger says. "Then have Jonathan deliver the Lean Cuisine with a deliveryman and a photographer and get a shot of that. It would totally transform the way people think about Lean Cuisine."

    did anybody else just BUST OUT LAUGHING upon reading that last paragraph? it's one of the most ridiculous claims i've ever heard - that lean cuisine believes someday that it can be contained in the same lexicon as evian water or (ugh) ugg boots. lean cuisine is what the other half of america eats - the non cameron diaz, non paris hilton, non famous, non-thin-as-a-stick-insect-who-shop-at-safeway-half of america. BWAH. lean cuisine is DREAMING.

    but then i started reading the rest of the article.

    Talk turns to Cheban's upcoming Lean Cuisine job. How exactly is he going to pull off this miracle?

    "I can tell you exactly what he's going to do," Grubman interrupts. "He's going to walk around in the afternoon and stick Lean Cuisine in everyone's hand." She's laughing now. "I'm so glad I'm not going to be there because he'll be like, 'Here!' "

    "No," groans Cheban. "It's going to be at a spa, so people will be eating it after they get their facials."

    "What if they don't want to eat it?" teases Grubman.

    "It doesn't matter!" says Cheban. "I'll give it to somebody else who wants to eat it."

    Like Star magazine. The latest issue, the one published last week, ran an In & Out column that announced that fried foods are officially out, and -- you got it -- Lean Cuisine is officially in. Us Weekly, meanwhile, worked a Lean Cuisine reference into its "Best Bashes at Sundance" page, leaking the news that "clean-living stars can nosh on Lean Cuisine's new Spa Cuisine line" at the Shutterfly Lounge.

    Ka-ching!

    maybe the impossible isn't so unlikely as i thought. and then i read this sentence: "Suddenly, [Cheban]'s surfing the Internet on a gadget called a Sidekick."

    and i realize: if this is a man who has made tommy's trademark phone cool, then he can probably do anything.

    viva la lean cuisine!

    comments [2] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    January 21, 2005
    January 21, 2005
    so irresistible pop culture

    favorite story lede of the day:

    The irresistible cuteness of a puppy drove a Bronx teenager to slash his girlfriend and fatally stab her cousin yesterday after the two victims refused to let him pet the little pooch, police said.

    this - this is why i want to go back to journalism school. in the hopes that i will one day be capable of writing hardcore reporting like the above.

    comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    what would tyra do? pop culture

    readers of this site should be very familiar with my worshipful attitude towards tyra banks and my near-obsession with her hit UPN reality tv show, "america's next top model." the show is a fabulous mix of cattiness, disturbing and beautiful clothing, the ever-present eating disorder, aspiring models freaking out when they have to place a spider on their boob, and sweet, sweet sadism dished out by the freakishly bitchy judges. in short, it's the perfect television show.

    but in the past couple of weeks, i've started to question the wisdom of tyra banks (i know; i gasp at the horror of my impertinent mind as well). but really, the woman might know how to make good tv, but can she ACTUALLY produce a top model? i've seen no evidence of this. let's take a look at the winners of the first two seasons: adrianne curry and yoanna house.

    they are both lovely girls, to be sure. and they both won whatever riches and fashion spreads that tyra promised would rain down over their heads. but once you win "america's next top model," aren't you supposed to, like, be successful at modelling?

    curry and house's experiences would suggest not. curry is now a fixture on vh1's latest season of "the surreal life," where faded celebrities go to die (and she's only, like, 21). i saw her in one episode helping an inebriated mini-me get to sleep while he moaned obscenely; she also had the pleasure of acting as a nude serving board off of which her costars ate a meal of sushi. lovely. from the highlights of the next episode, i saw her proclaiming that she had fallen in love with christopher knight, the 40something dude whose only claim to fame is having played peter brady. alright. so adrianne curry is a) not modelling b) having verne troyer eat sushi off her breast and c) dating someone twice her age who is twice as washed up as she.

    on to yoanna.

    yoanna was supposed to be the recipient of an uningnorable sephora campaign and billions of dollars and infinite fame. but the funny thing is, the only place i've seen her since she won ANTM2 is, crazily enough, on ANTM3, dispensing advice to the new wannabe models and looking, if we're going to be truthful, a little fat.

    now i read this report on gawker.com today that yoanna seems to have forgone modelling and is reaching into the uber-realms of something even more inspiring: auditioning for painkiller commercials!

    Saw Yoanna, the America's Next Top Model has-been at a casting for a Tylenol PM ad, Friday morning in Chelsea. We, ahem, the models were told to come bare-faced (no make-up, that is) and she showed up in full-spackle in what would appear to be an attempt to camoflage a less-than-flawless complexion. AND she signed in with a huge, black Sharpie in lieu of the blue ball-point used by everyone else, so her name stuck out like a sore thumb. She hung around long enough after, in an apparent attempt for someone to recognize her presence, which didn't happen. So she inquired as to the whereabouts of the ladies' room, in complete ignorance of the HUGE sign stating "restrooms, 2nd floor" at her right.

    OMIGOD, she used a SHARPIE. that BITCH. right.

    so i've been wondering if tyra merely puts all her effort into the show and none into the so-called career of the actual winners, casting them off into the new york city gutters like used, browbeaten, emaciated raggedy-ann dolls, once they've served their purpose. if that's the case, i fear for poor eva, who has been by far my favorite winner of all the seasons; she's cute, feisty, just the right amount of bitchy and hopefully will suceed in some capacity and not end up hocking Swiffer WetJets on tv one day.

    but if you're looking for a model that seems to have had some measure of success AND is spectacularly normal and funny, i suggest you check out the livejournal of elyse sewell, one of the runners-up on the first season of ANTM (AND she used to date a Shin!). she's clever, self-deprecating, and writes nuggets like these from the fashion world of hong kong, where she lives:

    Smell that repugnant menstrual tang in the air? That's the scent of Fashion Week, which is still plodding forward more glacially than Naomi Campell on 'Ludes. I'm writing this (in my physical journal) from the hallowed estrogen-saturated Fitting Hall, during my seventh of eight hours here. Models in various stages of undress steal furtive glances at each other's g-string-clad asses and picked-over styrofoam lunchboxes. Vanity is inflated or punctured as designers march down a lineup, scrutinizing breasts, distributing outfits, musing aloud, "Hm, I need model with beautiful legs to wear this one." Narrowed eyes dart toward a scene near a rack in the corner: ohmigod, Ksenia can't zip the pants the designer handed her- another model must heroically step forward and volunteer to exchange outfits, but whose hips will be small enough? The air is constantly thick with tension, or maybe just with drifting hash smoke from the crowd of male models populating the bathroom.

    a model with brains and wit. thank god tyra didn't pick her to win america's next top model. who knows how she would have ended up!

    comments [1] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    January 12, 2005
    January 12, 2005
    alias pop culture

    i really wanted to do a big old pop culture roundup post today - on "Lost," women in "24" (since "24" is the hot new blogging topic, ya know), maybe a bit on the new seasons of "alias," and my impressions of "Garden State," which i finally saw last night for the first time. unfortunately, i've got a hugeass essay to write for a grad school application on whether or not i believe there's an overt liberal bias in the media. and it's much harder to do than i expected. (i can't really just write, "duh, i'm a liberal, so no, i don't think there's a bias. but hey, even if there was, who am i to critique my fellow journalists advancing our communist agenda! mwahahahahah!"). also, i love how my JOB or REAL WORK doesn't displace blogging; other stuff that is NOT my job does. i LOVE my job.

    so anyway. it shall have to wait. however, i wanted to point out what is perhaps the most retarded sentence in tv criticism about "alias" that i've ever read. courtesy of charles taylor in salon.com today:

    Her entrance in last week's season opener, in a short blond bob and a baby-doll nightie with push-up brassiere, was the closest the show has ever let the character come to being a sexpot.

    reading this grain of wisdom, i must believe that mr. taylor has never actually watched "alias", like, ever, not even for a half a second. honestly, the show would be bereft without jennifer garner and her slutty, slutty costumes. the only thing holding her back from being a true sexpot in every meaning of the word is her enormous shoulders. it's hard to be sexy when you look like a transexual linebacker half of the time, but i think if anyone can pull off it off, it's jennifer garner.

    comments [4] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    January 10, 2005
    January 10, 2005
    no escape bitching  - pop culture  - tech

    Dammit. I was prepared to ignore 24 this year -- last season irritated the hell out of me. Having inexplicably killing off the pouty-lipped, double-dealing, druglord-dating latina love interest halfway through the season, the series' producers left us to slog through a maze of bureaucrats, geeks and metrosexual villains. It fell apart pretty rapidly.

    But then, that's always the problem with 24: the people plotting the show make it up as they go along. I still find it amazing that each season's arc isn't set in advance -- doesn't the premise demand it? Realistically, yes. In practice, no. As a result the show always gets off to a gripping start, then degenerates into plotlines about amnesia, mountain lions and bad Russian accents.

    I'd finally had enough after season 3, and was determined to avoid this year's installment. I was prepared to be exposed to it -- Charles remains devoted to the show like no other -- but I hadn't counted on the blogospheric pop culture currents that this franchise brings with it. The first two hours seemed a little unexciting compared to previous 24 premieres, so maybe I'll be able to jump off this bandwagon earlier, but for now COMMENCE BLOGGING.

    AKA nitpicking. Jim Henley (via Yglesias) has already picked apart the nonchalant acceptance of torture that we saw last night. There's also the apparently silly decision to make this season's terrorists Turkish -- I'm no expert on this stuff, but a country as publicly secular and westernized as Turkey seems like a bad candidate for breeding zealots determined to strike against the far enemy. Plus, it sounds like Turkey's actual terrorists are Marxists. If that's who this season's enemy turns out to be, count me in: now that the conflict is safely fictional, I love jingoist anti-Commie entertainment. Their debauched ideology killed Apollo Creed, for pete's sake!

    But I have a feeling they'll be pushing America's more contemporary fear buttons, so instead let's talk about the other fun aspect of 24: the technononsense. We're still easing in, but this season is already off to a rollicking start.

    MORE...
    comments [2] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    January 07, 2005
    January 07, 2005
    happy golden days of yore pop culture

    brad and jen are done. and so is coverage of the tsunami.

    for posterity's sake in this tragic moment, i'd like to remind you of the burgeoning bud of the pitt-aniston alliance, which i witnessed in all its glory at the secret radiohead show at the 9:30 club several years ago. what starts off with dreds can never end well.

    comments [1] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    the return of Lost pop culture

    alright. i've been sick the past two days with some sort of lymph-node attacking, joint-eating viral nastiness, so apologies for not having put up a Lost recap/post earlier. not that anyone is demanding an apology. not that anyone cares if i write about it or not. in fact, i should probably be apologizing instead for forcing this on you all. but nevertheless, i'm bored, hopped up on advil and coffee, and i VONT TO WRITE.

    MORE...
    comments [7] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    January 04, 2005
    January 04, 2005
    Lost theories pop culture

    alright. because 1) i am a benevolent blog goddess whose only interest is in disseminating interesting info to my worshipful readers 2) i am hella bored at work and 3) after the Interminable Winter Break of Terrible Reruns i am starved for new, good tv that involves mechanical dinosaurs and possible religious conspiracy theories (which makes me think that dan brown should write his next book not on the freemasons in d.c. but on how opus dei is actually an organization set to bring hell on earth by releasing hordes of trained robot triceratops, therefore validating catholicism), i am going to start a thread on both the TV show Lost and the subject What The Hell Is Happening On Lost?

    (apologies to any blog readers who don't watch Lost; but really, you should be apologizing to yourself, because you are missing out on some great TV. and did i mention mechanical dinosaurs?)

    MORE...
    comments [25] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    January 03, 2005
    January 03, 2005
    w00t pop culture

    It's getting to be the best time of any Star Wars movie's release cycle: the period after we've seen hints of how awesome the movie could be, but before we learn how bad it actually is. Check out this site for some newly-leaked images.

    Despite what this post might indicate, I'm not a huge Star Wars geek. My sophomore roommate in college (to whom I was randomly assigned) owned a life-size cardboard cutout of Han Solo that would scare the shit out of me every time I opened the door on my way home from a party, doing little to endear the franchise to me. And witnessing my roommate Rusty's level of devotion firsthand made me realize that of Star Wars, computers, and dignity, men are only allowed a choice of two.

    However, I am pretty psyched about these images, because they include what looks to be a CG version of the impossibly awesome lightsabre-wielding robot from the Cartoon Network Clone Wars miniseries.

    God dammit, I swear I'm not a geek. Shit.

    comments [2] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    December 28, 2004
    December 28, 2004
    file under 'Really, Who Gives a Shit?' pop culture

    alternate category: Let's Try and Gain Some Perspective, Shall We?

    "Tsunamis shatter celebrity holidays"

    comments [4] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    December 23, 2004
    December 23, 2004
    oh man personal  - pop culture

    Things aren't exactly busy at work, so I just fired up a game of Halo. I got beat, badly, by virtually everyone in the last round. But that's not the problem. One of the competitors was twelve. And, when it was all over, the winner (not the twelve year old, although he beat me too) said, "You suck, old guys! You suck!"

    Hard to argue with that.

    comments [3] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    December 13, 2004
    December 13, 2004
    retaliaiken pop culture

    Thanks to Catherine for pointing this out: the teacher who wrote in to Gawker about Clay Aiken being -- surprise! -- a showbiz phony, has been suspended by her school district.

    Okay, she used profanity in the message she sent to Gawker. But the email was submitted anonymously and the facts of her account don't seem to be in dispute, so it's tough to see why the district bothered to track her down and exact their admittedly not-so-terrible vengeance (a one-week suspension, with pay). I guess Clay did threaten to "make trouble" if anyone went to the press, so maybe that sent them running scared.

    A crooner prone to vague threats and acting like an asshole, huh? Is it too early to crown the new Sinatra?

    comments [2] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    December 10, 2004
    December 10, 2004
    clay-hole pop culture

    I don't know if everyone else has seen this, but I forgot to post about it this morning, and I know it gave me a thrill of evil pleasure.

    Clay Aiken enlisted a high school choir to support his concert in Jersey. It turns out Clay makes music the same way Kathy Lee makes affordable activewear. Where to begin? The scant and ice-cold meal of McNuggets? The refusal to be photographed with the children? The fake donation to the choir? Or maybe calling the NJ Teacher of the Year "a disgrace"?

    The Philadelphia Inquirer and Gawker have the story.

    comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    December 03, 2004
    December 03, 2004
    corporations hate you, pt. 2 pop culture  - tech

    Check out this story. What jerks. Apparently networks are deliberately shifting the start and end times of their shows to confound TiVo users. Networks hate TiVo due to its commercial-skipping powers. By making time-shifters miss the end of their recorded shows the practice is discouraged.

    Of course, you can manually extend the recording period by the necessary minute or two, but if you're planning to record NBC at 9 and ABC's 8PM show runs until 9:01, your one-tuner DVR will typically decide there's a conflict and conclude that it's not worth recording any of the NBC show. ABC gains an advantage either way: either time-shifting is discouraged, or its competitors get fucked over. Great job, guys!

    It's curious how this innovation has popped up, yet, having had decades to offer additional value to consumers by competitively scheduling their commercial breaks -- that is, not having them simultaneously -- the networks have managed to stay in wonderful synchrony: when one is at commercial, so are all the others. Hmm.

    Obviously something has to pay for TV, but I don't think it's going to be commercials for much longer, ill-advised legislation notwithstanding. Networks will increasingly have to turn to subscription fees to support themselves. There won't be a massive switch to an HBO model, but fees paid by cable companies will slowly increase. Some networks will disappear and your cable bill will creep upward. That's a shame, but if it means I can escape a nightly corporate assault on my subconscious it's a tradeoff I'll be happy to make.

    In the meantime, I suggest you apply the power of righteous indignation to downloading this week's episode of Lost (click the link, click on 'Lost', then scroll down). Who would have thought that the pregnant girl's backstory episode would be so fascinating and spooky? I liked the show before, but I thought it was going to end up with an unfortunately mundane foundation once the island's mystery was stripped away. Now I'm not so sure. Seriously, go watch it.

    comments [11] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
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