Pop Culture Odds and Ends – Post BCS Championship edition

I think I was still in shock yesterday with how badly Notre Dame played against Alabama Monday night in the BCS Championship game. I was skeptical that the Irish (my team) would be able to pull it off – Alabama is a great team – but I thought that they would at least put up more of a fight. We knew that the game was over by the end of the first quarter, yet we continued to watch the game unfold. I’m just glad that Notre Dame scored a few touchdowns; losing is one thing – even in a blowout – but getting completely shut out is so much worse. It wasn’t a very exciting game to watch. When the big story coming out of the game is the announcer going on and on about the girlfriend of the Alabama QB (and to a lesser extent the QB’s mom) – to the point that ESPN apologized for it – you know that it’s not that good of a game. You’d think after years of watching the Buffalo Bills I would have been prepared for that display of terrible football, but I had higher hopes for Notre Dame. Clearly, I am not meant to root for a dominant football program on any level.

So while I get over that display Monday night, here’s your biweekly roundup of pop culture odds and ends to keep you occupied:

  • Oscar nominations will be announced tomorrow! It is embarrassing how giddy I am for this.
  • They are making a “sort-of” prequel to Jackie Brown (apparently without Quentin Tarantino’s involvement) that will feature a pretty good cast.
  • Genie Francis (Laura Spencer, of “Luke and Laura” fame) will be returning to General Hospital.
  • Listen to the Stark Children beatbox the Game of Thrones Theme Song
  • Film.com has an infographic that breaks down how many times Tarantino has used the N-word in his films.
  • Speaking of the Biebs, check out this video of James Franco lip syncing to Bieber’s  song, “Girlfriend.” Is there anything Franco can’t do?
  • Woody Allen’s newest movie has a title – Blue Jasmine.
  • The planned reboot of In Living Color is now dead. Thank goodness.
  • The Steven Soderbergh biopic on Liberace (starring Michael Douglas and Matt Damon) was deemed “too gay” for theaters. It will air on HBO.
  • I’m very excited for this – It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is taking a page from The Game of Thrones and will soon have its own themed beer.  This sounds like the perfect beverage to drink while playing CharDee MacDennis.
  • HBO announced the premiere dates for two interesting projects: A comedy from Christopher Guest and a WWI miniseries with Benedict Cumberbatch.
  • I love this – someone assembled a montage of training montages
  • Anna Farris has signed on to star in Chuck Lorre’s latest CBS sitcom. I’m guessing that it won’t be very good, but will be wildly popular.
  • Watch a drum duel between Fred Armisen and ?uestlove from The Roots:
  • Nicolas Cage and Ashley Tinsdale are attached to the Left Behind movie, based on the faith based novels. A previous adaptation starred Kirk Cameron. I feel like this could be the most awesomely bad movie ever made.
  • HBO has been sued over an alleged cover-up over the death of horses on the show Luck.
  • Seriously, Taylor Swift? Enough already. Try being alone for a while.
  • Check out this video of Django Unchained, reimagined as a terrible sitcom.
  • And finally, because I can’t stop yammering on about Tarantino apparently, College Humor has assembled every pop culture reference from his movies

Pop Culture Odds and Ends – It’s Almost My Birthday edition

It’s Wednesday, y’all. We’re halfway through the week! I’m especially excited for this week to wrap up so I can start my birthday celebration. Most people stop getting excited for their birthday sometime in their teens, but I am not like most people. I’m not alone in thinking my birthday is awesome – Earth, Wind and Fire even wrote a song about it:

So while the nation waits with bated breath for the big day to arrive, here’s your bi-weekly roundup of pop culture stories to help kill the time.

  • I also share a birthday with Bill Murray, Nicole Richie, Faith Hill, Ricki Lake, H.G. Wells, Jerry Bruckheimer, Liam Gallagher, Dave Coulier, Alfonso Ribeiro, Leonard Cohen, Larry Hagman, Cecil Fielder and Greg Jennings. Not too shabby.
  • The highly anticipated release of the big screen adaptation of Les Miserable has been delayed 11 days. It will now open on Christmas Day, going head to head with Tarantino’s Django Unchained. Guess which one I’ll be seeing.
  • Jon Stewart and Bill O’Reilly will debate each other online on October 6th, which has got to be more entertaining than the actual presidential debates.
  • There is a cat running for Mayor of Halifax, Canada. If my cat Pumpkin ever was elected to office, he would make Stalin look like a pushover.
  • Sad news from the world of soaps – John Ingle, who played Quartermaine patriarch Edward on General Hospital, passed away at the age of 84. His last appearance on the soap was September 11th, which was apparently done at the actor’s request so he could play the role one more time. Port Charles won’t be the same without him.
  • I hadn’t even heard of most of the shows on this list of obscure British comedies to watch, but I guess I now have a new project (because I have so much free time).
  • Soundgarden will release their first new album in 16 years this November.
  • Ben Folds Five + Fraggles = Awesome Sauce

Oh Ben Folds Five. How I have missed you.

  • Speaking of a time suck, Google now has a new search tool that allows you to find out how many degrees an actor is from Kevin Bacon. For example, Jon Hamm’s “bacon number” is 2 – Hamm appeared with Rebecca Hall in The Town and Hall appeared with Bacon in Frost/Nixon.
  • Lindsay Lohan was arrested this morning for hitting a pedestrian with her car. Your move, Amanda Bynes.
  • As an unabashed Golden Girls fan, I enjoyed this story about the books written by the women of the cast. I may have to seek one or two of them out.
  • I used to watch The Dick Van Dyke show religiously when it was on Nick at Nite, so I was glad to see this piece on the A.V. Club about the 10 best episodes. One of my favorites (“It May Look Like a Walnut!”) made the list. That was seriously a great show.
  • Ben and Jerry has announced their newest limited edition flavor – cannoli. This will not end well for me.
  • While the iPhone5 is getting all the attention, Nintendo announced their follow up to the Wii console. Wii U will be released in November.
  • Sending well wishes to Kathy Bates, who announced last week that she had a double mastectomy.
  • Also wishing a speedy recovery to Jerry “the King” Lawler, who had a heart attack during the filming of Monday Night Raw. I grew up watching wrestling, so he holds a special place in my heart.
  • While we’re on the topic….Saved by the Bell’s Dennis Haskins (aka Mr. Belding) has decided to try his hand at wrestling. Oh the humanity.
  • I was already excited for the upcoming new season of Parks and Recreation (debuting 9/20), but the news that Jonathan Banks (Mike on Breaking Bad) will guest star makes me positively giddy.
  • I have no idea if Ken Marino really punched Nick Kroll on the set of The League or not, but I’m kind of dying to find out. My gut says he didn’t, but you just never know.
  • Adam Scott is really the best. Here he is last night on Conan, dissecting the lyrics to “Ice, Ice Baby”
  • As a huge fan of Halloween, I hope to someday get to Universal Studios for their annual Halloween Horror Nights. This year they have a maze inspired by The Walking Dead.
  • Well, that was short-lived – the company that brought you “Hologram Tupac” has gone bankrupt.
  • A Breaking Bad/Simpsons mash-up? Sign me up!
  • I love that Rahm Emanuel’s spokesperson had to deny that the Chicago Mayor likes Nickleback.
  • My current album obsession is the new Avett Brothers release, The Carpenter. I’m particularly fond of “I Never Knew You.”
  • There has been debate circulating on the internet about the ending of Titanic, specifically the idea that there was indeed room for two people on the wooden plank that Rose rides to safety on. Director James Cameron disagrees and has enlisted the help of Mythbusters to prove his point.
  • Bruce Springsteen and Eddie Vedder shared a stage in Chicago during the Boss’ concert. I would have killed to see that. My heart hurts just thinking about it.
  • Amy Poehler and Will Arnett have decided to separate after 9 years of marriage. I still don’t think I’m ready to talk about it.
  • Lots of changes at the judges’ tables of two popular singing competitions. American Idol announced their full slate of judges – Mariah Carey, Randy Jackson, Nicki Minaj and Keith Urban – last week. Not to be outdone, The Voice announced that Usher and Shakira will replace Christina Aguilera and Cee Lo in the spring edition of the show.
  • I finally finished Justin Cronin’s The Passage and I have to say that overall I enjoyed it. I found that once I was able to sit and read long passaged without interruption; there is a very deliberate pacing that I couldn’t fully appreciate when I was reading short snippets. While I didn’t love the ending, it got the job done and made me very interested in picking up the second book in the trilogy, The Twelve, when it is released next month. Don’t let the vampire angle scare you off – this is very different than Twilight. I’d definitely recommend it.
  • I was already looking forward to the new 007 film, Skyfall, but that has only been amplified with the announcement that Adele will be singing the theme song. There have been some pretty spectacular Bond theme songs (I’m partial to “Live and Let Die,” “Nobody Does It Better” and “A View to a Kill”), but I have a hunch that Adele will be the best of them all.

Have a wonderful week, everybody.

Watching My Stories

As indicated by the title of my blog, I am no stranger to soap operas (though ironically, I never watched As the World Turns). While I don’t currently watch any soaps, I do have a long, if not sporadic, history with the genre. Soaps are a dying breed; many have recently been canceled or have had to substantially cut cast and introduce product placement to stay afloat. They have slowly been replaced by talk shows which are much cheaper to produce. So it brought a smile to my face yesterday when it was announced that ABC was not cancelling their last remaining soap (and my personal fave), General Hospital, as many feared would happen when Katie Couric’s new talk show debuted. I’m sure the show is running on borrowed time, but it nice to know that the Spencer, Corinthos, Webber and Quartermaine families will be around a little longer.

My mother didn’t watch soaps, so my first exposure to them was at a friend’s house. During one summer I spent most days playing over a neighbor’s house; there were four daughters in the family and they had a pool table and air hockey table, which was pretty much like the Playboy Mansion when you are 8. The girls always had friends over so the house was usually bustling with activity (and estrogen), but every day at 1 pm the whole place ground to a halt when Days of Our Lives started. It didn’t matter what we were doing, as soon they heard “Like sands through the hourglass” everyone ran into the living room and plopped in front of the TV. I’d never seen anything like it. Thankfully, they were very patient with a soap newbie and didn’t mind my endless questions about what was going on and who everyone was (and how they were related to one another). At first I was pretty annoyed that playtime was getting interrupted, but after a while I came to kind of enjoy the show, even if I never truly mastered what was going on and never watched it on my own. It was just too much back story for my young brain to process. Once we went back to school, Days was pretty much forgotten.

A few years later, Santa Barbara debuted. Unlike Days, which had years of storylines before I ever tuned in, there wasn’t as much to catch up on with Santa Barbara. Though I didn’t watch the show from its inception, I was once again exposed to the show over at a friend’s house and started watching when I was there. Santa Barbara had the added advantage of airing at 3 pm, around when we were getting home from school, so we could watch the show year round as VCRs weren’t yet prevalent (and DVR hadn’t even been invented). With a more limited history, it was easier for me to jump into the show and I would occasionally sneak and watch Santa Barbara at home, which meant I was escalating. I kept up with the show more or less until there was a fairly brutal rape storyline that scared me. After that, I pretty much quit the show cold turkey.

Night time soap operas were also pretty popular during this time period, but didn’t make much of a lasting impression. I was only 4 when “Who Shot J.R.?” was the talk of the country, but I do vaguely remember it (though I think I may have thought that J.R. was a real person). Mostly what I took away from Dallas, Falcon Crest and Dynasty was that it would be pretty cool to have a fight in a pool. Was this how grownups settled their disputes?

Like most questionable habits, it wasn’t until college that I became a regular soaps watcher. Once again, it was my friends who got me into it. It was partially a matter of convenience – I was one of the few people in our group of friends who had a TV/VCR combo in my dorm room and I was willing to tape their soap of choice, General Hospital, every day for my sorority sisters. With everyone in my room on a daily basis, I really had no choice but to start following along. But what really captured my attention was that General Hospital had organized crime story lines. I’m a sucker for mob movies and I think this is what ultimately made me commit to the show and causes me to keep coming back over the years.

Once my friends were comfortable with my command of the story lines on GH, they graduated me to Days of Our Lives, which they viewed as more complicated. Although GH actually had been on the air longer than Days, it was far more grounded in reality (well, as grounded as any soap opera could be). Days was just coming off its “Marlena is possessed by the devil” story line, which really took things to a whole other level. My soap watching had come full circle and I was now officially a soap opera devotee. I don’t know if this was normal at other colleges, but pretty much everyone at my school dabbled in soaps in some capacity — even the guys. The basketball players were especially partial to Days. Go figure.

I stuck with Days of Our Lives a little after graduation, but maintaining two soaps was eventually too much of a time commitment and since I preferred General Hospital I decided to focus on that one and continued to watch pretty regularly through most of graduate school. At some point, however, I even eventually stopped watching GH regularly. But I’ve found that I can’t quit the show completely. If I’m home sick I’ll check in on the good people of Port Charles to see what they are up to and I’ve been known to scan Soap Opera Digest while waiting in the checkout line at the grocery store. On a really slow Saturday I’ll tune into Soapnet for their weekly marathons. A lot of my sorority sisters also still keep up with the show to varying degrees, so I’ll have them catch me up on what is going on. And I became a regular watcher again during James Franco’s first stint on the show. Curiosity just got the better of me, but I managed to walk away again when I felt I was getting too sucked in. I just am way too busy to devote myself to a daily show, but I just can’t fully cut the cord either. I guess I’m a functioning soapaholic.

So though I’m not currently up-to-date on what is going on in the halls of General Hospital (is Robin really dead?), I’m slightly relieved that I still have the opportunity to go back to the show if I want to. And after this little trip down memory lane, I have a sneaking suspicion that somehow next week my DVR is going to start recording ABC daily at 3 pm. At least for a little while.