Pop Culture Odds and Ends – Getting Old Edition

It’s my birthday this weekend, which is usually cause for celebration, at least in my eyes. Everyone else just kind of humors me. This year, however, I’m just not feeling it and am kind of dreading having to say that I am a year older. There is not legitimate reason for this apathy – it isn’t a “milestone” birthday or anything – and I know turning a year older beats the alternative, but I’m just not in a celebratory mood at all this year. Perhaps I’ve finally gotten over the excitement for my birthday that everyone else got over when they were a kid. Perhaps it is because this year a lot of people have yet to respond to my unofficial party or can’t come. Perhaps it is because I do so many awesome things throughout the year that I don’t really need this excuse to make a big deal out of one particular day. Whatever the reason, as Saturday approaches, instead of my usual giddiness, it’s being greeted with a shrug. I’m happy to see my friends, but that’s about it.

Pop culture, on the other hand, still makes me excited and I had a lot of fun compiling your biweekly roundup of all the pop culture goodness that you might have missed. I just kept finding all sort of cool things to include. So while I attempt to determine what exactly is bumming me out, kick back and enjoy:

  •  Congrats to Bob Newhart for winning his first Emmy! The full list of Creative Arts Emmy winners can be found here. The Primetime Emmys will air on September 22. There may be a live blog.
  • The West Wing fans – Allison Janney performed “The Jackal” last night on the newly revived The Arsenio Hall Show.

 

  • Everyone that I know that watched the Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Canelo Alvarez fight last weekend was disappointed. Snoop Dogg Lion, however, won over a pound of weed on that fight.
  • After a lackluster performance at the box office, the planned sequel to The Mortal Instruments has been delayed indefinitely.
  • A new season of Key and Peele debuts tonight:

 

  • Best. Parents. Ever.
  • Doctor Sleep, Stephen King’s sequel to The Shining, will be released next Tuesday.
  • People keep making Breaking Bad musicals. Check out Walter White and the Mazing Blue Crystal Meth:

 

  • This is probably NOT a good sign: Pirates of the Caribbean 5 has been shut down indefinitely for script maintenance. Probably for the best; this movie is wholly unnecessary.
  • Eddie Murphy did a reggae song with Snoop Lion. I have no idea if this is supposed to be a joke or not:

 

  • The O.C.’s Sandy Cohen and Ryan Atwood (Peter Gallagher and Ben McKenzie in real life) reunited at Gallagher’s daughter’s concert.
From @petergallagher

From @petergallagher

  • The O.C. is getting a a remake – in Turkey.
  • I am a fan of both Metallica and bluegrass, so I really enjoyed this cover of “Enter Sandman:”

 

  • The first three hosts for SNL have been announced; Tina Fey kicks the season off, followed my Miley Cyrus and Bruce Willis.
  • Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball” video is greatly improved with the addition of Nicolas Cage:

 

  • Watch this guy do 13 Muppet impressions in a minute:

 

  • Speaking of Muppets, they did all sorts of great stuff since the last round up. Cookie Monster spoofed some movies:

 

  • Elmo (or a reasonable facsimile) hung out with Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen:
@SirPatStew

@SirPatStew

  • Grover sang with Dave Matthews:

 

  • Cookie Monster also found some time to hang out with Loki:

 

  •  UC Irvine is offering a free online course on The Walking Dead. I’m not a huge fan of the show, but I may have to take this just for kicks. I’m thinking that could really spruce up my resume.
  • Ha! Watch Todd from Breaking Bad gun down Justin Bieber:

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No Biebers were harmed in the creation of this GIF

No Biebers were harmed in the creation of this GIF

  • He’s still really good looking, but I’m not digging Joe Manganiello as much without his beard.
  • Eminem turned up during the Michigan/Notre Dame game. It was awkward, to say the least.

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  • Michael Jackson’s Thriller recreated with LEGOs:

 

  • Britney Spears is rumored to be earning $15 million per year for her Vegas residency. Seems as good a reason as any to finally plan my first trip to Vegas.

 

  • This local sports anchor worked 41 Seinfeld references into his segment:

 

He also did a segment full of old school rap references and wrestling references. I think this guy and I could be fast friends.

  • Also announcing tours: Robin Thicke, Jay Z and Kanye (the latter who I am going to see in Madison Square Garden!)
  • Cecily Strong is joining the soon departing Seth Myers at the SNL Weekend Update desk. The last few people to sit at the desk (Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Jimmy Fallon) have gone on to some pretty great things.
  • A writer at UPROXX wrote a tribute to one of the greatest episodes of It’s Always SunnyChardee MacDennis. I wholeheartedly concur.
  • The Ohio University marching band preformed a rendition of Ylvis’ viral sensation The Fox during their game against Marshall.

 

Haven’t see the video for The Fox yet? Here it is, in all it’s weirdness. Watch it now, thank me later.

  • Breaking Bad fans are the best. Los Pollos Hermanos now has its own Yelp page, full of reviews.
  • Fiona Apple covered “Pure Imagination” from Willy Wonka for a Chipotle ad:

 

Trailers! Get your trailers here:

  • Nicole Kidman in Grace of Monaco:

 

  • National Geographic’s Killing Kennedy, starring Rob Lowe and Ginnifer Goodwin:

 

  • Kill Your Darlings with Daniel Radcliffe and Michael C. Hall (that’s kind of a weird combo):

 

  • Will Forte and Bruce Dern star in Nebraska, the latest from director Alexander Payne:

 

  • James Franco and Jason Statham are in a movie together. Yes, I’m serious.

 

  • A photo of Justin Bieber holding a script for the upcoming Batman vs. Superman movie almost broke the Internet.
@justinbieber

@justinbieber

No – he isn’t playing Robin.

As always, we end with the supercuts and mashups:

  • Who knew that Marty McFly was such a screamer?

 

  • A Billy Joel/Kanye mashup sounds way better than you would think:

 

  • Blurred Sanford mashes up Blurred Lines and the Sanford and Son theme song:

 

  • This supercut proves Bill Murray is an awkward kisser.

 

  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail gets a modern trailer remix:

 

  • Les Miserables…..with light sabers:

 

  • Good Will Batman (NSFW):

 

  • It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia gets the Cheers opening credit treatment:

 

  • And finally……The Dukes of Heisenberg:

 

Have a great Wednesday!

Pop Culture Odds and Ends – Back to School edition

In this part of country today is the first day of school, which has little direct impact on my except that I had to avoid school buses during my morning commute and that my Facebook feed is filled with pictures of my friends’ offspring heading off to their institutions of learning. It’s still weird to me to not have a first day of school anymore; when you are a student and teacher continuously from the age of 4 to 32, you get used to such things. I do miss back to school shopping. I may have to buy myself some highlighters and folders just for old time’s sake. Best of luck to all the kiddos and teachers out there for a productive and educational school year and congratulations to all the parents in weathering another summer (and a special shout out to those of you who now have all your children in school and no longer have to pay for day care – the nightmare is over!).

In honor of the first day of school, allow me to educate you on all the pop culture stories that you might have missed while you were looking for the school prescribed type of scissors or haggling over first day of school outfits. Kick back and enjoy the beginning of Fall with your biweekly pop culture roundup:

  • Someone at HBO has been listening to me – next season of True Blood will be the series’ last. They are proving to be smarter than the books.
  • The new cast of Dancing with the Stars was revealed. I knew it was only a matter of time until Snookie turned up, though I wouldn’t have predicted Bill Nye the Science Guy,

 

  • Official Comedy looks at what would happen if Mark Wahlberg got his wish and became Iron Man:

 

  • Clint Eastwood and his wife have separated (I called this when she got her own reality show).
  • This dude made a homemade version of KITT from Knight Rider:

 

  • Here’s a photo of Peter Dinklage hula-hooping at a gay bar in Canada. If this doesn’t make you smile, you have no heart:

dinklage-hula

He was joined by his Game of Throne’s sister Lena Headey. Say what you will about the Lannisters – these people know how to have a good time.

  • This parody site offers suggestions for Robin Thicke for “what rhymes with hug me.”
  • This weekend we had a debate about what kind of tattoos we would get (neither of us got tatted up in college with all our friends). I’ve considered a lot of options, but somehow a Minion tattoo never crossed my mind.
  • Michelle Williams (the actress, not the Destiny’s Child singer) will make her Broadway debut in Cabaret. In other news, someone needs to get me tickets to Cabaret.
  • Aaron Paul continues his general tour of awesomeness with this napkin that he left for a server that he found out was a Breaking Bad fan:

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  • Watch a trailer for the 4th season of Downton Abbey:

 

  • Also on Thursday, Fiona Apple stormed off stage. Seriously – was there a full moon?
  • David Schwimmer angered his neighbors by tearing down a townhouse in NYC that was one year away from receiving landmark status. Their passive aggressive response is outstanding:
Did anyone think he was?

Did anyone think he was?

  • Jay Pharoah does a fantastic Kanye impersonation in his parody of West’s “I Am A God” (NSFW):

 

  • This is ONLY A RUMOR, but Benedict Cumberbatch may join the cast of the new Star Wars film.
  • The director of the Academy Award winning animated short Paperman has left Disney. Best of luck to him in his future endeavors – I loved his film.
  • Internet sensations Grumpy Cat and Lil Bub met for the first time at the Internet Cat Festival in Minneapolis. Yeah – you read that last part correctly.
  • The role of Daario Naharis on Game of Thrones has been recast. Because it isn’t hard enough already to keep all those characters straight when they are played continuously by the same actor.
  • Speaking of parent/child switcheroos, this tweet made me literally laugh out loud:

funnytweeter.com

 

  • This guy definitely sounds like a legit doctor – a dentist who bought John Lennon’s molar at an auction wants to use it to clone the Beatle. Yup – that’s not at all creepy.
  • Damn you to hell, Chase Utley. I have been perfectly content to hate you and your stupid hair since 2009 and then you had to go and do something relatively awesome like answer Mac’s fan letter from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

 

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  • Kyle Chandler isn’t particularly interested in a Friday Night Lights movie (based on the TV show, obviously, since there already is a Friday Night Lights movie in existence). I still need to get around to watching season 5.
  • Muhammad Ali and Liberace once performed together. No, seriously:

 

  • I love this video of a guy dressed up as Spiderman, schooling people on the basketball court:

That was twice as entertaining as The Amazing Spiderman.

  • Further proof that Charlie Hunnam will do just fine in the Fifty Shades of Grey lead – he already basically played the other lead role on Queer as Folk.
  • According to Entertainment Weekly the greatest boy band of all time is……The Backstreet Boys.
  • Someone figured out how to play “Get Lucky” on Mario Paint:

 

  • Simon Pegg and Nick Frost actually do a decent cover of the song as well:

 

As always, we end with the mashups and shupercuts

  • A supercut of near kisses in movies:

 

  • People on The Newsroom sure like to shout:

 

  • Every time Leonardo DiCaprio says “old sport” in The Great Gatsby:

 

  • The new season of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia starts tonight on FXX. Watch clips from the show re-cut as a trailer for a psychological thriller:

 

  • Kill Him – the supercut:

 

  •  I was forced to watch a lot of Thomas the Tank Engine while babysitting a dreadful little boy while I was in grad school, so I took particular joy in this mash-up:

 

  • And finally, a fan already cut together a trailer for Man of Steel 2, adding the rumored Brian Cranston as Lex Luthor for good measure:

Heather Watches The Voice

One of the things that happens when you are on vacation and stay with other people is that you relinquish control of what you watch on TV. For most people this is probably not a big deal, but for someone like me that is no small thing. I will admit that on more than one night while I was away I wound up staying up well after everyone else had gone to sleep with my headphones plugged into my Nexus tablet, catching up on my shows on Hulu. You can’t expect me to quit cold turkey.

However, I like to think I am a very polite house guest, so I would not subject other people to my TV preferences or rigorous viewing schedule. I was ready to go with the flow; whatever everyone else was watching, I would watch. So I saw a lot of daytime TV that I am not normally home to watch, like the Today Show (Kathie Lee and Hoda are insane) and Good Morning America. I watched the local news, which I never watch at home. And the first night that I arrived in Florida, I watched The Voice.

Now, I’ve been pretty vocal about the fact that I don’t like reality talent competitions. They just aren’t my thing. I haven’t historically paid much attention to America’s Got Talent, X Factor, American Idol or The Voice beyond the constant rotation of celebrities that are judges. But when in Rome……so I settled in to politely smile through my first episode of The Voice if necessary and hold my sometimes overly critical opinion to myself.

So the fact that I actually enjoyed The Voice was a nice bonus. And believe me, no one was more surprised by that then me.

Now I was vaguely aware of how the show worked with the blind auditions; I don’t think that you can watch any amount of programming on NBC and not pick up on the basic concept of the show from the many promos that air. The visual of the judges spinning around in their giant egg-like space age chairs was one I was familiar with. I knew that each judge formed a team, but I wasn’t really sure of the specifics beyond that – what happened when multiple judges wanted a contestant? How many people were on a team? Did the judges have to turn their chair or could they all pass on a contestant?

I’ll admit that as the show started I was pretty skeptical; the focus on the often sad or challenging backstories for the contestants reminded me too much of the contrived narrative of the Olympics (and we all know how I feel about the Olympics). For talent shows, I am only really interested in the actual talent. I don’t want to be manipulated to root for someone because they have had a tough life. They should get through on merit, not based on who has the saddest personal history. I know that some people really eat that stuff up, but I am not one of those people.

Thankfully, The Voice keeps that stuff to a relative minimum and the judges are apparently unaware of all this information during the audition. They do not converse with the contestant before the audition; they don’t even know the person’s name or gender or if there are multiple people or if it is a solo act. On more than one occasion, the judges have been quite surprised when they turn their chair at the end of the song; the voice and the appearance of the contestant to not always match the judges’ expectations. The determination of whether to send the person on to the next round really does seem to be based primarily on the strength of their performance.

What really struck me about The Voice was the chemistry of the four judges. Adam Levine, Blake Shelton and newcomers Shakira and Usher (replacing Christina Aguilera and Cee-Lo) all seem to really like each other. While they are competing against each other, there is a lot of playful banter in their exchanges. Watching the judges interact is a lot of fun; I can’t say that I was a huge fan of any of them before watching The Voice, but I have a lot of goodwill toward each of them after watching the show. They seem genuinely interested in helping others in the industry. It may all be an act, but they really give the appearance that they want to be there and that they want The Voice audition to be a positive experience for everyone, even the people who are not selected to compete on the show. I’ve always found the audition process on American Idol to be a little mean spirited; some of the people that are selected to perform for the judges are obviously there for the audience to laugh at and the judges’ input is not always constructive criticism. From what I’ve seen of The Voice, no one has been put on television who is truly terrible. Some of the performances are slightly shaky and uneven, but I don’t think I’ve seen anyone that completely lacks talent. For those who don’t turn any chairs, their exchange with the judges at the end has uniformly been professional and encouraging; the judges often appear to feel terrible that the person wasn’t chosen and provide useful feedback on what people need to do to improve. Almost everyone is encouraged to audition again in the future after making a few adjustments and I don’t think I’ve seen an exchange where the judges have been unable to give the unsuccessful contestant some sort of compliment as well. The Voice has a surprisingly positive vibe for a reality show. The judges really appear to want people to succeed.

The Voice also doesn’t have an annoying host like some of the other programs (cough, cough – Ryan Seacrest – cough cough). I’m never really had a problem with Carson Daly and he is used very sparingly on the show. In fact, you kind of forget that he is there a lot of the time until the camera cuts backstage to get the reaction shot of the friends and family of the person auditioning and suddenly you see Daly hanging out with them. He’s mostly in the background from what I’ve seen and while he isn’t a musician, he has a long history with the music industry and his Last Call with Carson Daly has provided many up and coming musicians a showcase. On some shows, you aren’t even sure why the host is there (Khloe Kardashian-Odom, anyone?). Carson skulks around behind the scenes and pops up when necessary. That’s what a host should do.

I’ll admit that I was intrigued enough about my first experience with The Voice that I have watched several more episodes since I’ve returned home and now have full control over the television. I’ve seen most of the blind auditions, but haven’t seen any episodes of the actual competition. Depending on how that is structured and executed, I may not enjoy the show as much. I also can’t say that I was super invested in any of the contestants; there are definitely some talented people competing, but I think the draw for me is always going to be the judges more than the performers. With my busy schedule, I don’t know that I’ll go out of my way to keep up with the show and make it part of my regular rotation. However, when there is nothing else on and I want to watch something that doesn’t require my full attention, I would definitely consider watching a few episodes of the show on demand in the future. I am curious by what “stealing” a contestant from another person’s team entails. My positive experience with episodes of The Voice doesn’t completely change my stance on reality show talent competitions – I still don’t think these shows are up my alley – but it is nice to know that some of them are much better than others. An hour of Adam Levine isn’t the worst way to spend an evening.

The Voice airs Mondays and Tuesday nights on NBC at 8pm (ET).