Pop Culture Odds and Ends – American Gods Edition

Thanks to some downtime on planes and a three-day weekend, I’m pretty close to caught up on all of my shows. Of course, it helps that most shows are wrapping up their seasons and a lot of summer shows haven’t started yet, so there aren’t new things piling up on my DVR (though I haven’t started the new season of House of Cards yet, which is driving me crazy). The last few days I have been binging Starz’s adaptation of American Gods, which I have to say that I am really enjoying. I hadn’t read Neil Gaiman’s book and honestly wasn’t sure what sure what to expect from the series, but so far it’s really pulled me in. On paper I’m not sure that this is a show that would appeal to me, but I’m glad that I took a flyer on it. The pilot episode is definitely a little bonkers and four episodes in I can’t swear that I truly understand everything that is happening, but I like the ride that they are taking me on especially since I have no idea where its going. Good stuff.

Also good – this week’s pop culture roundup. The holiday weekend put a slight damper on the quantity of pop culture news, but certainly not the quality. So get yourself caught up on everything that you may have missed with the new edition of the week in pop.

Television

Movies

Trailers

  • Game of Thrones, season 7

 

  • Logan Lucky:

 

  • Wonder:

 

  • Ozark:

 

  • The Hitman’s Bodyguard:

 

  • Paddington 2:

 

  • Pennywise: The Story of IT Campaign:

 

  • Shimmer Lake:

 

  • The final season of The Strain:

 

  • Victoria and Abdul:

 

  • Castlevania:

 

  • Get Shorty:

 

  • The Little Hours:

 

Music

Stand-up

Books

Theater

Odds and Ends

Mashups and Supercuts

  • A drawing of every major Game of Thrones death (spoilers, obvs):

 

  • An 80s remix of “Somebody That I Used To Know”:

 

  • A mariachi cover of “Hopelessly Devoted to You”:

 

  • Playing Red Hot Chili Peppers – with a red hot chili pepper:

 

  • Fall Out Boy meets Britney Spears:

 

  • Terminator 2 recreated in GTAV:

 

  • Movie countdown:

 

  • Alien recut as a comedy:

Kevin Hart – Times Union Center (Albany, NY), 8/27/15

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Kevin Hart takes the use of cell phone during his show very seriously. Like, really, REALLY seriously. From the moment I set foot in the arena for his show last night, every security guard I passed asked me if I knew about the cell phone policy and the consequences. There were signs all over the arena warning that anyone even seen with a cell phone during the show would be kicked out automatically and would not receive a refund. It was announced repeatedly before the show and the opening acts reiterated it, giving us an updated number of how many people had already been kicked out of our show (16) and how many people they kicked out in Syracuse (150). During the show, security guards continuously walked up and down the aisles, shining flashlights and on high alert for that telltale glow of a cell phone screen. I had no intention of looking at my phone – I am nothing if not a rule follower – but even though I had not thing to worry about these draconian methods were beginning to get me agitated. I would not flourish in an authoritarian regime; the pressure of compliance would give me anxiety.

I totally get where Hart and his team were coming from; I’m sure that there is nothing more frustrating for a comic than to be debuting new material and then have it posted all over the internet the following year. The proliferation of social media has made a comedian’s job a lot harder. Comics could do the same 90 minute set for years because it was new to the audience. Now your material is old after a few nights because people have heard the jokes by watching grainy cell phone footage of a previous show. So I don’t begrudge Hart’s desire to prevent that as much as possible. But it certainly didn’t cultivate the ideal conditions for comedy. You’re not necessarily in the mood to laugh when security guards are circling you like vultures, waiting to swoop in. So it’s a true testament to Kevin Hart that he not only overcame the weirdness but put on one hell of a show. The weirdness may have been of his own making, but he almost made me forget about the Dementor-like guards patrolling the aisles (except for when they blocked my view ever ten minutes as they made another lap of our section).

For all the increased security and concern about recording the show to protect his new material, I found it ironic that Hart actually kicked of the show with material that he already did when he was on Saturday Night Live earlier this year. It was still very funny, but given the constant refrain that he was doing new material for us, I chuckled to myself when he launched into some stories that I has actually already heard. Perhaps that was intentional – it gave security time to get rid of people that might be hell-bent on recording or taking a photo before he got to the actual new stuff. If so, well played Mr. Hart. Well played.

Kevin Hart has been at this long enough that he knows what he’s doing and his set last night was tight and consistently funny. He’s more of a storyteller than a joke teller, per se, and it’s been interesting to see how his material has changed as he’s become more famous. Now that he’s consistently starring in movies and has made a name for himself in stand up, in addition to just getting older, there has been a tonal shift in what he makes people laugh about. The focus of this tour is on his family; his children and fiancée dominate much of his routine, with some guest appearances from his father and his buddies. Even with this more domesticated focus, he still had the audience in stitches the entire night. I often times find that a little of Hart (no pun intended) goes a long way in movies, but I really enjoy his persona in a stand up setting. His face is so expressive that it helps sell a lot of his jokes; sometimes his reaction is all that is needed to make people laugh. He’s also masterful at working in references to earlier jokes throughout his set. The callbacks don’t feel forced and by the end of the night, the audience was saying some of the lines right along with him. His storytelling was as memorable as it was funny; I was regaling my assistant with some of the bits that I thought were particularly funny and I was surprised just how much of his set that I remembered, almost word for word. I was particularly tickled with his story about what he would do if his fiancée was attacked by a shark (her hypothetical), his “debaucherous” night of playing ping pong with his pals as well his recounting of the time his fiancée put a sex toy in his luggage while he was away on location for a movie. Those were highlights, but the entire evening was a well-constructed night of comedy. I laughed so much that I almost forgot about my stupid sprained ankle, which is saying a lot.

I was less impressed with his openers, a trio of comics referred to as the Plastic Cup Boyz. Joey Wells was the first to perform and also served as something of an emcee and was the strongest of the opening acts. Both Na’im Lynn and Spank Horton made jokes about gay and transgendered people that I didn’t find particularly enlightened or funny, which I could have overlooked if the rest of the material was stronger. I was actually a little worried about the evening after they performed, but Wells returned to the stage to do some additional material about the cell phone policy that helped alleviate my concern.

Kevin Hart is very good at what he does and last night was no exception. He appeals to a lot of different kinds of people, as evidenced by the very diverse crowd that was in attendance. Hart was funny and energetic and certainly gave the sold out crowd more than what they paid for. I’d absolutely go see Kevin Hart perform again – though just to be safe I might leave the cell phone in the car.

Kevin Hart is currently touring the U.S. with the What Now? Tour.

Pop Culture Odds and Ends – Breaking Bad Edition

I normally have a lot of Breaking Bad info in these pop culture roundups, but with the show recently returning for its final eight episodes ever (SOB!), there was more awesome info than normal this week. I’m not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, so sprinkled throughout the roundup is an abundance of links related to the show. And for the love of all that is holy, if you aren’t watching this show get to steppin’. You are missing out! So kick back and bring yourself up to speed on all the pop culture that you may have missed over the last two weeks. Let me be your pop culture curator.

  • N’Sync is rumored to be reuniting at the MTV VMAs on Sunday, which now forces me to watch the VMAs. I’m skeptical as I’m not sure what Timberlake gets out of this. But I do hope it happens.

 

  • Jimmy Fallon is doing a Breaking Bad parody. This will be amazing.

 

  • It’s hard to get excited about football season when you root for the Bills, but I do love when the Manning brothers do commercials:

 

  • This is an interesting casting rumor (emphasis on rumor) – could Charlie Hunnam play Christian Grey in the Fifty Shades of Grey film adaption? By the time this movie comes out, will anyone still care?
  • Friday Night Lights, the movie? Make it happen!
  • HBO has released a trailer for the new season of Girls:

 

  • NBC is clearly in the Jonathan Banks (Mike, Breaking Bad) business. After a guest appearance on Parks and Recreation, the actor will be a regular on Community.

A quick break for the depressing stuff:

  • Lisa Robin Kelly, who played Topher Grace’s older sister Laurie on That 70s Show, died. She was 43.

OK – back to the more lighthearted links.

  • Blog fave Dean Winters (Dennis the beeper king on 30 Rock) is headed to the new Andy Samberg comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
  • Oprah gives away cars when she is just a guest on a show. Mental note – get in the audience when Oprah is on a talk show.
  • A trailer for the new season of Homeland:

 

  • Jay Leno’s last night on The Tonight Show will be February 6th. Believe it when you see it, Jimmy.
  • Mark your calendars: the third installment of Adam Scott’s The Greatest Event in Television History drops on November 7th. Nothing is confirmed, but speculation is that they are doing the opening credits from Too Close for Comfort.
  • Ha! Billy Ray Cyrus does look like fat Mac:

 

photo from Uproxx

photo from Uproxx

  • Whoa – it’s Walter, Jr. from Breaking Bad:

 

Photo from Uproxx

Photo from Uproxx

 

  • A tweet from Sons of Anarchy creator and showrunner Kurt Sutter makes me very nervous.
  • The chicken fight from Family Guy was never one of my favorites, but kudos to these two stunt women for the live action re-enactment:

 

  • This new trailer for season 3 of Revenge has piqued my interest:

 

  • The new channel FXX, which will show new episodes of The League and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, launches September. Use this handy website to find out if FXX is available on your cable system (Phew- it is for me!). The network is off to a promising start with a Parks and Recreation marathon.
  • This slowed down version of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” is pretty cool:

 

  • The house from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is for sale.
  • This Avril Lavigne music video is a little nuts:

 

  • The White House Twitter account made a Mean Girls reference:

White House Twitter_Mean Girls

  • My birthday is a month from today and I would sure like it if someone bought me this Breaking Bad Lego set.
  • Another pop culture roundup, another American Horror Story: Coven teaser:

 

  • I’m surprised it took so long; watch a guy crowd surfs in order to “Come on Down” On The Price is Right:

 

  • Benedict Cumberbatch had a message for the papzrazzi trying to get spoilers on Sherlock:

 

Getty Image

Getty Image

  • In this trailer for Fading Gigolo, watch Woody Allen act as a pimp for John Turturro. There’s a sentence I never thought I’d write.

 

  • I’ve always like Donal Logue, so I’m not surprised he helped a stranger propose. P.S. Terriers is now streaming on Netflix – do yourself a favor and watch this late great series.
  • J.J. Abrams released a mysterious trailer on Monday.

Turns out it was for a book.

  • Listen to the Breaking Bad theme played on meth lab equipment:

 

As always, we end with the mashups and supercuts

  • Mean Girls mashed up with Book of Mormon

 

  • Here are some super cuts of movie clichés. First up “You just don’t get it, do you?”

 

  • Phone numbers that start with 555:

 

  • Superheroes introducing themselves:

 

  • Vulture put together a supercut of all of John Oliver’s explanations for Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show absence.
  • Nerdist put together a Breaking Bad/Saved by the Bell mashup:

Dustin Diamond was available? I’m shocked.

  • Behind Elysium (A Behind the Candelabra/Elysium mashup)

 

  • The opening of Adventure Time done in Legos:

 

 

Another installment of a Seinfeld/Game of Thrones mashup:

 

  • Ha! Thor meets Arrested Development in Thorested Development:

 

  • Breaking Bad recut as a romantic comedy:

 

  • President Obama “sings” Demi Lavato:

 

  • Listen to “Total Eclipse of the Heart” in the style of other divas:

 

  • We Are Never Ever Gonna Cook Together (Taylor Swift/Breaking Bad parody)

 

  • And finally – Walter White “sings” “My Way”