Thoughts, notes, observations on the everyday nonsense of American Pop Culture from one of the most not-hip people on the face of the planet...

Monday, June 04, 2007

Seeking snarky busybodies for new blog

Also, I have this idea I'm going to toss out there, feel free to throw it right back. At one time I wrote this blog in Milwaukee called "Seen and Heard" (see right column) devoted to people-watching, overhearing conversations and generally being snarky.

I, for one, miss having an outlet for my snarky thoughts about other people's public behavior. I've found a lot of people and incidents in Cincinnati that deserve ridicule and/or inspection. I also think the world has gotten a little bit weaker and softer without it.

So here's what I want to do. I want to launch a worldwide group blog dedicated to the fine art of people watching and occasional mockery. If I were to start a blog like this, would you participate? Would you write about your city and the people you see? Can we take the snark to the next level?


Friday, June 01, 2007

What's new?

So my promises of picking up the blog ASAP upon my move to Cincinnati proved to be empty. So sue me. Because it’s been so long since we’ve all sat down and had a round-the-campfire Hollywood-bashing, I’d like to take this time to review the past few weeks/months and bring us all up to speed on exactly what I learned during this hiatus.

1. The third time is not a charm.

You know things are bad when even a geek like me is asking there to never be another Spider-man or Pirates movie. Ever.

I’m not hard to please. I like cute boys, over-the-top special effects, loud noises and good marketing – I can handle sub-par acting and campy dialogue – and Hollywood can’t even please me this year.

Spider-man 3
, much like X-men 3 before it, was a perfect example of a series gone awry. Sure, the move was enjoyable on a very basic level (shiny!) – but it came nowhere near the first two installments in dedication to the source material and characters. This movie had so much potential – what with the presence of one of the most-beloved villains in all of comics making an appearance – but what did they do? We saw Venom only after two hours of singing, useless eye candy and sappy subplots based around special effects availability. *gag*

Pirates suffered the same fate of bloated filmmaking. The series had no spark left – which is what happens when special effects become justification for plotlines. Really, both movies turned out as though the studios said, “Ah, to hell with it, let’s cram this movie full of broken plotlines and unfinished ideas. Those idiots will still see it as long as it has good effects.” And they were right (you idiots).

I have no problem with Hollywood making sequels – which seems to be a big complaint in critic land – I have a problem with studious churning out shitty sequels.

2. America can’t be trusted to judge singing – or write music

I know, this isn’t really a new lesson. American Idol has proved more than once that its audience has a tin ear and a fickle devotion (what’s Taylor Hicks up to these days?). But this year seemed especially lacking in talent recognition. Every episode it seemed Simon Cowell was about to open fire on the audience for voting for looks or kitsch instead of singing ability. I actually started to feel bad for him – any week he’d give us the old Donald Sutherland from Animal House: Come on people, this is his job.

Aside from the only mediocre talent, the songwriting competition proved to be yet another confirmation that AI is watched by the worst people in the world. I could have guessed the winning song would completely blow because its writer would be an American Idol viewer (housewife, sexual predator or preteen girl) – but I had no idea just how much it would blow (a lot). “This is My Now” sounded like it was written by an 8-year-old at Bible camp – a song completely devoid of meaningful lyrics, decent arrangement or even a good hook. Possibly the worst song ever created – and that was the winner. Imagine how godawful the others must have been.

3. Grey’s Anatomy rules your life (and you suck for that)

This show is bigger than Jesus and for the life of me, I don’t know why. If I were to believe everything I read and hear, I’d think that everyone except for me in America watches this show.

But we know that isn’t true. The ad wizards at ABC and the unabashed fanboys that work in entertainment media just want me to be guilted into joining their cult. I ain’t buying it – and neither should you.

The show is a soap opera. The only difference between Grey’s Anatomy and General Hospital is the programming schedule – but you don’t want to hear that, do you? Every time I have ever come across Grey’s Anatomy, somebody is having sex in a coat closet. I didn’t even know the show was about doctors until I read the DVD box.

This show has ruined America. It has made people think a medical show doesn’t have to involve medicine. It made people think it deserves a spin-off which will be exactly like the original, only with new pretty people (it worked for CSI). And worst of all, it made people think The Fray is a good band (see below). The time for judgment is coming, ABC. At least, I hope it is. (Please, please, please have the spin-off fail miserably)

4. Nobody actually likes The Fray, they just really like Grey’s Anatomy

If you ever take a look at the network statistics for various MySpace and Facebook groups, you’ll see that a lot of young people claim The Fray as a favorite group. They’re mistaken. They don’t actually like The Fray…they like “How to Save a Life” as played over a montage of doctors intermittedly getting it on and crying. It’s ok, I fell for it too.

I thought I liked their sound, then I obtained a copy of their album and found out every song sounds exactly like “How to Save a Life”. In fact, I kept thinking every track was the ubiquitous single until it got to the chorus. This band barely exists. As soon as ABC and that infernal soap opera finds a new poster band, they’ll be forgotten. Mark my words.

5. The White Stripes still rule

If the new single (“Icky Thump”) is any indication, this summer is going to rock in the way that only a quasi-conscious pretty drummer can rock. This album should be the biggest of the year. Don’t disappoint me, rock fans. I know some of you still exist.

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Monday, February 12, 2007

F*ck the Police (what, what)

All of the advertisements leading up to tonight's Grammys touted the "long-awaited reunion of The Police".

Really? Was it really long-awaited? Are there really just scores of fans out there clamoring for a Police reunion? Or is this just more of the whole "let's see what else we can get rich, bored Boomers to pay for" rock 'n roll reunion tour craze?

Why would we the music fans eagerly await such a reunion? The Police never really left. Sting, sadly, has continued to make rather milquetoast adult-contemporary crap for years. I honestly never considered how wonderful the world would be if they got the band back together. Honestly, I'd be more pleased to see Scrantonicity live than The Police.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

I hate you all

Warning: This will be a hate-filled rant.

As you and everyone else in the entire universe know by now, Anna Nicole Smith is dead. Why do we know? Because you can’t get onto a news web site or turn on your television without seeing wall-to-wall coverage of this alleged event. I spent most of my elliptical time at the gym today trying to find news on television that wasn’t related to hashing and rehashing the details of the Anna Nicole Smith non-story.

I can stomp and scream at the heavens as to why her death does not warrant such media attention – after all, she was a Z-list celebrity for absolutely no reason – but it wouldn’t do any good. I know why this is a story and why we in the media have to just beat the living shit out of it: Because retards like you eat it up.

TV ratings took a big bump with this over-the-top coverage of a nobody’s death (and a certain psychotic astronaut thanks you for it). On our news site here in Milwaukee, it has far surpassed every other story in page views. You people just can’t get enough of this bullshit – you never can. If it sounds like I have an outrageous hatred for you – it’s because I do. I wish every last one of you would just jump off the closest bridge like the pathetic lemmings you are.

I have these little surges of rage every time some idiotic celebrity storyline has to take time away from covering actual news to feed the beast that is the American airhead populace. Whether it’s the Trump-O’Donnell feud, the Danny DeVito drunk appearance the every movement of David Beckham – I sit here and steam about the fact you’d rather hear about this than, say, something that actually affects your life. Did you know there’s a war on? That there are people being investigated all over Washington? That people in your community are doing great things? Do you even care?

Why can’t you – the American public – just get it all out of your system by watching “Best Week Ever” or “The Soup”? Do you need to see every moment of “Extra!”, buy every celebrity gossip rag and use your formidable viewership to tilt all legitimate news to your bidding? Why do You People have to win?

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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

There's a sci-fi fan in most of us

Obviously something spurred my renewed interest in bitching about pop culture - and it was this. More specifically, it was the New York Times' TV Watch columnist being so hopelessly out of touch that I was a bit taken aback.

Take a look at this passage: "Lost” is at heart a science-fiction thriller, while “Heroes” is more of a comic book, but both genres have a similar appeal: they provide an alternative society for those who don’t fit comfortably into their own. (That is to say, smart, socially awkward adults and all 12-year-old boys.)


Now, I don't just take this to heart because I am a nerd - it's a whole other blog post to go into how not all nerds are socially awkward or 12-year-olds - but rather, I'm bothered by this as a journalist. Are we still passing around the stereotype about sci-fi TV fans, even after it has been disproved dozens of times by demographic studies? Is the allegedly most important newspaper in the U.S. still in the dark about this?

This column surmises that not only at shows like "Heroes" and "Lost" successful because of their appeal to those socially awkward nerds and kids, but so are programs such as "Smallville", "Battlestar Galactica", "Medium" and "Ghost Whisperer". Right. Of those six programs, four are on broadcast TV. Of those, two are frequent Nielsen top 20 performers ("Heroes" was #13 last week).

Are we to believe that 13.6 million Americans (the audience for last week's "Heroes") - or at least a substantial part of them - are socially awkward nerds and 12-year-olds? This is a tremendously popular show that is obviously watched by a wide range of people - it would have to be to even crack the top 20. Case in point: Amongst the coveted 18-49 demographic, "Heroes" ranked #9 - one slot above "24" and above a least one of those CSIs - hardly just the maladjusted and hopelessly single. I'm sure the ratings for "Lost" when it returns this week will only be higher.

Aside from the ratings, one has to wonder if this columnist actually talks to anyone besides their friends who watch TV. Just because their circle of friends and coworkers are those oh-so-typical "Grey's Anatomy", "CSI" and "American Idol" watchers doesn't mean that they can't crossover in viewership with sci-fi and fantasy shows. I mean, what is "Grey's Anatomy" if not a fantasy show anyway? How many real-life doctors have time for that much hooking up?

Get your facts and your unfounded opinions, straight Ms. TV Expert. Sci-Fi is bigger than it has been in years - and it isn't just because of us mouth-breathers. Your friends are very likely into “those nerdy shows” too.

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Where do we go from here?

Well, I warned you this would likely be abandoned - and it was. I have another blog (listed at right) that has been taking more of my time. But don't fear! There is a future in sight for Pop-Rx if anyone is still reading.

My other blog, Seen & Heard, may or may not be going on much longer. More importantly, this blog will be getting more attention in the coming months as I plan a redesign and restructuring.....sometime. For now, I'm going to try to post here once a week, just to see if maybe we can get back into the swing of things. Cool? Cool.


Friday, May 12, 2006

More T, less A

If I see Bill Paxton's ass one more time, I think I'm going to become a nun. At first I just laughed off my friends' comments about how "Big Love" doesn't show enough female nudity.

But I now agree with them. I'm tired of Bill's ass (though he seems to be in pretty good shape). What's up with that? Bring on the boobs! This is why people get HBO...right?

TV season in review (and long overdue love)

As this television season comes to a close, I suppose I can finally write something.

This “year” (do we even really have seasons anymore?) marked the cancellation of the only network television show I had a history with (“Arrested Development”), the second chance for a longtime favorite (“Family Guy”) and a few new shows I found myself falling for (“Big Love”, “The Boondocks”, “Everybody Hates Chris”). I also found myself getting hooked into shows I can now finally admit that I should have started watching a long time ago, like “The Sopranos” and “The West Wing”.

This may be the most TV shows I’ve managed to follow since before college (8 years ago).

But the show that surprised me the most this season was “The Office” – which got an unlikely second season and somehow went from being a casual view to becoming what seems to be bordering on an obsession for me.

Many TV snobs who write blogs take this opportunity to sneer “sure it’s OK, but the British version is soooo much better.” From my experience, people only say this because they want you to think their opinion matters more because they not only watch BBC, but they “discovered” the show long before you.

So screw them.. I’ve seen the British version and it doesn’t even compare. Why? Because I’m not British, that’s why. This is a situation and character-driven show – and the situations and characters of the American version of “The Office” just feel more real to me. I sit two desks away from a Dwight. I know an Angela on day shift. I consider myself a Jim. And Michael? Who hasn’t had a weird boss like Michael?

And like my own coworkers, I actually care about these people. Each episode is akin to hearing great office gossip and being able to spread it. I am horrified by Creed's oddities, Kelly's idiocy and Dwight’s blatant ass kissing. I get uncomfortable when Michael gets himself into a jam. And I admittedly lost all shreds of dignity watching Thursday’s season finale, when the painfully unrequited office flirtation between Pam and Jim finally came to a head (I may have squealed and cried at the same time – it was undecipherable).

In short: I’m actually excited for a network season premiere for the first time in years. Bravo, network TV. You’ve got me hooked on one show. Damn you to hell.

Friday, March 31, 2006


Oh God! Didn't Sharon Stone get the memo? She's too old to be in a follow-up to Basic Instinct. And she looks it.

Sweet Jesus that's gross.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

"Big Love" needs more of it

So I’m sure that by now, you’ve probably heard (and/or ignored) about the new HBO drama “Big Love” and clucked about how controversial it is. And you’d be wrong. In fact, it doesn't even seem to be controversial enough to gt HBO viewers to like it.

The show is so incredibly far out in left field on everything that no one can really get a full grasp of what would upset them. This seems to be a problem for HBO’s viewers, who seem to have absolutely no interest in the show. And that’s the real puzzle.

Much like its lead-in “The Sopranos”, “Big Love” revolves around the dual lives of mild-mannered polygamist Bill Hendrickson (Bill Paxton). Sure, he has three wives and seven kids who share a backyard in a society that rejects and criminalizes polygamy…but that isn’t his problem. Bill also happens to be a successful businessman who has some serious "mob ties" threatening to bring him down - only in this case, the “mob” happens to be the polygamist sect in which Bill grew up and the “boss” out to get him happens to be both a creepy spiritual leader and a father-in-law.

Of course there’s a lot of sex (it is HBO after all). There’s a great deal of family drama (and an open door to the soapy hijinx of a “Melrose Place”). And I think it is because of the appearance of such "normal" drama that HBO viewers just don’t seem to care for it (yet).

Anyone who switches off HBO after “The Sopranos” because they see a show preview filled with feuding wives, weeping women and Bill Paxton’s ass is cheating themselves of the real fascination behind “Big Love”: The completely fucked-up world of polygamy.

Bill has three versions of a wife living essentially under one roof: The sensible mother figure (Jeanne Tripplehorn), the scheming drama queen (Chloe Sevigny) and the childlike baby momma (Ginnifer Goodwin). The balance of power between the women and of Bill over them never ceases to be absolutely awe-inspiring in its old-school carnality– it’s like watching a Discovery Channel segment on lions.

And the scenes from the backward polygamist compound where Bill grew up are so odd you’ll want to watch them over again for a repeated shock value. There we have child brides, warlord geezers, and wives and kids galore – every week serving as the token explainer for why polygamy is a bad idea. It’s delightfully creepy.

Of course, the only people really ticked off about the series are the Mormons. They don’t like even tangentially being connected with polygamy – let alone hyper-sexed polygamy. They’d rather you forgot about their history, so they want to send polite emails to have it cancelled. They seem to think this is NBC and that the network will cave to any hint of religious controversy (don’t do it, HBO).

Because of (not in spite of) that – all people who pride themselves for being super-special HBO viewers need to watch “Big Love” and make it a certifiable hit. Give it a place alongside the shows that “glorify violence” (“The Sopranos”), “demean women” (“Entourage”), encourage sexual misconduct (“Sex in the City”) and “revel in bad language” (“Deadwood”). Prove that no one loves vice more than you do.

After all, you don’t want the weirdoes who ruined network TV to come after you and the shows you pay extra to see. Do you?