Pop Culture Odds and Ends – Almost Vacation Edition

Just when I thought that winter might finally be behind us, Mother Nature decided that we needed one last storm (I hope!) to make things all snowy and white. I am not a fan. The only thing making this bearable is the knowledge that in less than a week I will be in Florida with some of my favorite people and watching baseball. The idea of sitting in the sunshine and not having to wear a winter coat make me positively giddy. Plus it has been five dark and lonely months since I last saw my beloved Yankees, which feels like a lifetime. I’m ready for our reunion. But never fear, dear readers – you won’t be without the blog while I’m away. I’ve got some posts ready to go up in my absence. I’m just that dedicated.

So while I dream of warm weather while I scrape ice and snow off my car, here’s your biweekly round up of some of the pop culture stories that you might have missed.

  • Today would have been Mister Rogers’ 85th birthday

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  • Christopher Meloni has been cast in a new pilot from Bill Lawrence (Scrubs, Cougar Town) based on the book I Suck at Girls.
  • Jimmy Fallon and Selena Gomez performed “Mario Kart Love Song” last night on Late Night:

 

  • I’m not sure that anyone was asking for it, but Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters is getting a sequel (my guess is without Jeremy Renner).
  • If you’ve got nothing to do this weekend, MTV will be marathoning old seasons of The Real World. The Real World: Portland will debut on March 27th.
  • Safety Not Guaranteed director has been tapped for Jurassic Park 4. I really enjoyed Safety Not Guaranteed – worth checking out on DVD. A sweet and quirky indie.
  • A Walking Dead/Homeland mash-up:

 

  • This dog does indeed resemble Samuel L. Jackson:

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  • The actor who played Captain Peacock on the British comedy Are You Being Served? has passed away.

 

  • The Funny or Die website is venturing into the world of feature films. Their first product is iSteve, a comedic biopic of Steve Jobs and starring Justin Long (which has got to be better than the not intentionally funny Ashton Kutcher version).
  • Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s production company released a cool short film:

 

  • The blog Thumbs and Ammo has replaced all the guns from TV shows and movies with actors giving a thumbs up. The result is surprisingly positive.

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  • Check out this LEGO paper plane folding machine (it took 600 hours to build):

 

  • I didn’t understand a word of this “March Madness explained with Star Wars” video

 

  • You can watch the first three minutes of the new BBC America show Orphan Black online. The show debuts March 30th.
  • Sigh. I really didn’t need to stumble upon this website of pop culture tribute prints.
  • A Good Times movie is being developed. Not so Dyn-o-mite, though I bet J.J. Walker is available.
  • HBO has released a trailer for the second season of Veep:
  • Vampire Weekend has released two new songs: “Step” and “Diane Young.” Their new album Modern Vampires of the City is out May 7th.
  • Listen to a mix of Justin Timberlake’s “Suit and Tie” and Daft Punk:

 

  • What every home needs – A Breaking Bad terrarium. I’m not kidding – I would put this in my living room.
  • Filming for the third season of the BBC’s Sherlock has begun.  A fourth season is happening as well. More Cumberbatch for everyone!
  • A Shining/Dumb and Dumber mashup:

 

  • Beyoncé has posted a new song on her Tumblr:

 

  • A new red-band trailer for Kick-Ass 2 has been released:

 

  • This is a good dad – a game developer hacked Donkey Kong so his daughter could play the game as a female character that rescues Mario
  • Whoa – Pete Campbell from Mad Men and Rory Gilmore are getting married (well – the actors that play them are, anyway)
  • Watch Usher and the Afghan Whigs perform together at SXSW:

 

  • I can sympathize with Hitler’s reaction in the video I linked to above – I love Google Reader and am very bummed that it will be retired soon. It’s what I use to keep track of all the links that I share with you in these roundups.
  • A new trailer for Despicable Me 2 has been released:

 

  • Cedric the Entertainer is the new host of Who Wants to be a Millionaire.
  • And finally – The Princess Bride meets Game of Thrones:

Dick Clark, 1929-2012

Dick Clark, “the world’s oldest teenager” died yesterday from a heart attack. He was 82 years old.

Clark was truly legendary in the music business; American Bandstand, a show that he created and hosted, was extremely influential in exposing people to new music and helped give rise to Top 40 radio stations. A man that never seemed to age, he was able to adapt to the changing musical trends which helped make American Bandstand the longest running variety show in TV history. The show, which ran from 1957-1989, was also influential in their early decision to integrate their dance floor and feature black and white teenagers together. Clark also created and produced the American Music Awards. More recently, Clark was a household name for his annual program Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, a show with a lot of apostrophes. For many people, he is synonymous with the countdown to the ball dropping in Times Square and the welcoming of a new year.

I vaguely remember Bandstand, but it was not the dominant show that it once was. By the time I was aware of popular music MTV had been launched and was becoming the primary source for music information. I’m sure I occasionally saw Bandstand, but I have much more vivid memories of one of its competitors, Solid Gold, which was flashier. My main association with Bandstand is from clips of the show that have appeared in episodes of Behind the Music or E! True Hollywood Story to illustrate the history of the musician they are profiling. For example, I know that during her appearance on Bandstand a young Madonna announced her future plans “to rule the world” not from watching the actual episode but from the endless loops of this clip on various retrospectives of her career.

I also have an ambivalent relationship with New Year’s Eve as a holiday; if I’m not at a party or out with friends, I generally don’t care too much about it. So unlike most people, I have not spent December 31st with Dick Clark. If I happen to be home and near a television that night, I’m probably watching something other than the television countdown. I just find the whole thing pretty silly. This year was an aberration – I wasn’t feeling well so I wasn’t participating in any festivities and out of sheer boredom I flipped on Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve. Unfortunately Clark’s appearance on the show post-stroke made me so uncomfortable and sad that I had to switch the channel. He was just a shell of the man who I remembered and I didn’t want to start 2012 depressed.

My fond memories of Dick Clark come from two of his less famous endeavors – the $25,000 Pyramid and TV’s Bloopers and Practical Jokes.

I love game shows and watched a lot of them growing up. But one of my favorites was always Pyramid. I liked the fact that regular people were teamed up with contestants and that you had to be creative in getting your partner to guess the answer. Sometimes all it took was one well-crafted clue for them to figure out the category. It was sometimes so maddening to be watching at home when a contestant couldn’t figure out what to say, especially if it was in the winner’s circle and there was big money to be had. The skill of the celebrity often dictated if you won the game or not; it was always a pleasure to watch a strong competitor like Betty White try and help their partner win the big money. Clark was a great host and always seemed legitimately disappointed for the contestant if they didn’t win. Unlike Alex Trebek, who comes across as smug sometimes, Clark took no joy in explaining what clues would perhaps have been more helpful. As a kid, I always thought that the celebrity should pony up some of their own cash to their partner if they were the reason that they didn’t win. What a little socialist.

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I also got a big kick out of TV’s Bloopers and Practical Jokes. Paired with Ed McMahon, Clark looked at bloopers from commercials, TV shows and local news as well as pulling practical jokes. Think of the show as a precursor to both Punked and America’s Funniest Home Videos. It was all pretty corny in retrospect, but I absolutely loved it at the time. I didn’t know what schadenfreude was yet, but I certainly did derive amusement from the errors and embarrassment of others. Clark and McMahon made a good team and were both very likable. Plus I thought the set with all the giant light bulb was kind of cool.

Here they are in a clip with another 80’s personality that I was fond of, Elvira. Thank goodness my pop culture palate has become a little more sophisticated as I’ve gotten older:

So while my memories of Dick Clark are not necessarily the ones that everyone else has or immediately thinks of, I share in everyone’s sadness in his passing and not just because this means we will probably be forced to deal with more Ryan Seacrest. Clark was a true entertainment legend and he will be missed.