Pop Culture Odds and Ends – Snow Day edition

Another day, another snowstorm – I am really beginning to hate living in Upstate New York. It’s been a bad winter for everyone and the fact that Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow is not a good omen. We’re getting up to a foot today and there are rumblings of a Nor’easter headed our way on Sunday. This may be the winter that finally breaks me.

Thankfully I am working from home today so I don’t have to go out in this mess and I am looking forward to participating in a conference call this morning while still in my pajamas. I feel terrible for the people who don’t have that luxury or who don’t have a very understanding boss and are bracing this weather to go into work today. Stay safe!

For those of you that are snowed in, hopefully my biweekly roundup of pop culture stories will help keep you warm and make you forget about all the white stuff piling up outside. Maybe there’s even a thing or two in here to help you keep the kids entertained.

  • In honor of the weather, check out this side by side comparison of the beginning of The Walking Dead and Atlanta after 2 inches of snow paralyzed the city:


  • Benedict Cumberbatch dropped by Sesame Street:


  • The good people of Savannah, GA had to watch the same boring Super Bowl that the rest of us did, but they also got to watch this ridiculously epic local commercial for a personal injury lawyer:

They are the clear winners of Super Bowl Sunday.

  • Last time it was Liberace, this time it’s Peter Pan. Bill Murray knows how to make an entrance:


  • Steve Carell’s college mustache is OUTSTANDING:
  • A gag reel from Thor: The Dark World:


  • David Beckham – fan of LEGOs. He just became more perfect.
  • One unknown perk of winning the Super Bowl – you get to hang out with Beyoncé and Jay Z:


  • Neil Gaimain reads Green Eggs and Ham for charity


  • Former Olympian Tara Lipinksi skated a The Big Lebowski-themed routine on Fallon:


  • Conan is the king of the remote segments; in this one, he tries to sell some of his old memorabilia:


  • The cover for Vanity Fair’s Hollywood issue has been revealed:

VF Hollywood

Julia Roberts is one lucky duck!


  • Seth MacFarlane’s A Million Ways to Die in the West (Red Band – NSFW):


  • Kevin Costner’s Draft Day:


  • Transformers: Age of Extinction:


  • The Amazing Spider-Man 2:


  • 24: Live Another Day:


  • Vampire Academy:


  • Liam Neeson in Non-Stop:


  • From Dusk Til Dawn – the series:


  • A trailer for the video game Thief:


  • The Amanda Knox story inspired a feature film, Face of an Angel:


  • The final Divergent trailer:


  • Another interesting trio: Aaron Paul, Rob Thomas and Bill Murray at a Kings of Leon concert:


  • Animator Arthur Rankin, Jr., who was responsible for holiday classics like Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, passed away.
  • This week is Beatles week at Late Night with David Letterman.
  • As a fan of the original cult classic, I was impressed with this trailer for a fake Warriors reboot:


  • There were beer drones? Why am I just hearing about this now that they are grounded?

As always, we end with the Supercuts and Mashups

  • A supercut of Oscar visual effects winners:


  • A Superman vs. Jesse Eisenberg supercut:


  • Grumpy Cat in Frozen:


  • This supercut ignores the so-called plot of the first 3 Transformers movies and just focuses on the actual transforming:


  • A mashup of every Harrison Ford movie:


  • Mr. Freeze sings “Let it Go”


  • And finally, a supercut of all of Tina’s moans on Bob’s Burgers:


Spring can’t get here quickly enough!

Philip Seymour Hoffman (1967-2014)

philip seymour hoffman

I was on my way to get my nails done yesterday (as I assume all football fans do for the Super Bowl) and was flipping through the radio stations when I caught the tail end of a somber announcement. Though I missed who the DJ was talking about, someone of some prominence had been found dead of an apparent drug overdose in New York. Given his recent troubles, my mind automatically went to Justin Bieber – this was, after all, a top 40 music station that I had stopped on – but I dismissed it as I wasn’t sure that he had an apartment in NYC. When the DJ said this was a loss for Hollywood, I realized that they weren’t necessarily speaking about a musician. I got a funny feeling in the pit of my stomach and pulled over in the first parking lot that I passed so I could hop on Twitter and see what was exactly was going on. Something about the tone of the DJ’s voice made me realize that whoever had passed away was going to be a shock and a big deal.

When I first saw the name Philip Seymour Hoffman on Twitter, I didn’t want to believe it. I was hoping that was some kind of mistake. But as legitimate news source after legitimate news source confirmed the story, I had to accept that it was true. One of the greatest actors of my lifetime was gone at the age of 46. A multifaceted sadness washed over me as I processed the news of his untimely passing.

I was sad for selfish reasons – that we were going to be denied many more decades of this talented performer. Hoffman was a true master of the craft and elevated every single film that he was in. He was in the occasional bad movie – Along Comes Polly jumps to mind – but I don’t recall every seeing him give a performance that wasn’t pitch perfect and compelling. His mere presence on screen instantly made a film more interesting; whenever he would turn up, even in a small role, that film got better. He had amazing range and could seemingly play just about anything. No one could deliver a line of dialogue with the same level of withering disdain as Hoffman; when asked to play the part, the contempt that oozed from him was palpable. But he could also play vulnerability in a way that would absolutely break your heart. He was equally at home in a big budget picture like Mission Impossible II or Catching Fire and smaller independent films, though you got the sense that he preferred the latter. He also excelled on the stage, recently being nominated for the Tony for his performance as Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman. He was going to make the transition to TV with a new series on Showtime that was scheduled to air in 2014 (only the pilot was filmed). To think that such a talent has been taken away from us is just devastating. Hoffman had many more brilliant performances to share with us.

I was sad that Hoffman lost his battle with his demons; the actor had been struggling with drug addiction for over twenty years, most recently checking himself in for treatment in 2013. Death is always a sad thing, but a death that was preventable is a special kind of tragic. Hoffman’s battles with heroin were not widely known, but he didn’t keep it a secret either. He struggled with his addiction quietly and never made a spectacle of himself, but that doesn’t lessen the torment that he was going through. The fact that he recognized that he had a problem and had sought help makes his relapse all the sadder, though not surprising. It’s an interesting roulette that you play when it comes to drugs and alcohol – some people are able to use/abuse these substances with no addiction issues, while others wage a lifetime battle to control their impulses. Some people are successful with their recovery while others continually relapse. I’m sad that Hoffman was undone by his addiction and sorry that the heroin ultimately won the battle.

I’m sad for Hoffman’s family; he had three young children with his longtime partner Mimi O’Donnell who are now without a father. By all accounts, Hoffman was a kind and loving man and adored his family. His neighbors often reported seeing him out and about with his children and reported that he was approachable and somewhat similar to the everyman that he often portrayed. For those kids to grow up without their daddy is the real tragedy of this situation.

Ultimately, I’m sad that I even have to write this post; I was hoping that this was something that I would have to do twenty or thirty years from now after Hoffman had lived a long and successful life. Hollywood lost one of the true greats this weekend and as I’ve reflected over his career it becomes even clearer the void that his death creates in the acting community. I consider myself fortunate to have seen as much of Hoffman’s body of work as I have, but now I have to go back and see the few films that I missed just to savor his on-screen talent and presence. I hope he knows how universally he was adored; he was an actor’s actor and the outpouring of grief and praise for his work is truly staggering. Everyone should know how much they are respected before they are gone. I have honestly never heard anyone say a bad word about him.

A few other random thoughts:

  • The Ides of March was a largely forgettable movie, but was worth seeing just to see Paul Giamatti and Philip Seymour Hoffman share the screen. For some reason, these actors are forever intertwined in my mind and to see two talented men interact was truly a joy to watch.
  • The movie had some issues, but I have always loved Hoffman’s performance in The Savages.
  • I wasn’t a huge fan of Charlie Wilson’s War, but this monologue delivered by Hoffman is some of his best work:


The loss of Philip Seymour Hoffman is going to be felt for years to come and I’m devastated that we lost such a giant of the entertainment world. He quietly put together a stellar resume of impressive performances and while he may not have been as popular as some other actors, I think anyone who truly appreciates talented actors appreciated Hoffman and his dedication to his craft. I know that I did.

Rest in peace, Philip Seymour Hoffman. I am sorry that your time on this Earth was far too short. You will be missed.