Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Celebrity Passings - Less is More

The year is coming to a close, as well as the decade, and if there is one thing I think we'll remember about pop culture this year it will be the significant number of icons, celebrities and the like the pop culture community lost. The summer alone experienced grieving Michael Jackson, Patrick Swayze, Farrah Fawcett, Walter Cronkite and Ed McMahon to name a few. I thought the surreal trend had come to an end until this past Sunday when I got word that Brittany Murphy had also passed. I really liked Murphy and always enjoyed seeing her in her films.

All of the losses this year are significant and make an impact, if you ask me. However, today I've noticed that now it's different. When Heath Ledger died in 2008, I had a very different reaction. I can still remember where I was when I heard the news and feeling such remorse for this person I had never met. Maybe the news hit so hard knowing that one of his greatest (if not THE greatest) role would play on without him with us. Still, I've noticed recently that I haven't felt as much of an impact for the passings this year.

I mean no disrespect, of course. All of the icons we lost this year left a significant stamp on pop culture (personally, when I heard about Cronkite that hurt the journalist in me the most). But I can't help but feel that it's beginning to feel like the norm. Maybe the difference is that I'm almost two years older and more equipped to deal with this kind of death than I was in '08. Who knows. One thing I do know is that I hope 2010 won't bring an end to as many (if not any) entertainers and icons.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Bobby's Top Ten TV Shows of 2009

10. Merlin
After an average, formulaic, solid first season, Merlin's second series (season here in the States) has taken a step up and becomes even more dangerous for all characters. The characters are getting more depth, and Merlin and Arthur are both LESS whiny. YAY!

9. Modern Family
This show seems to be everyone's favorite new comedy...understandably. The dry, natural humor of a dysfunctional family makes for perfect relation to the audience. There's no way to not love every character in their own quirky, idiotic ways. The kids Manny and Alex, including the lovable child-like Phil, steal every scene. How can you not love a show that does that?

8. Big Bang Theory
Big Bang Theory continues to shine as it showcases its goofy nerds. And it turns out that people love nerds! Thanks for accepting us nerds into your TVs, America. I love the developing relationship between Sheldon and Penny. It's ridiculous and brilliant at the same time. "Nice kitty, soft kitty, little ball of fur."

7. Dollhouse
It's too bad that Dollhouse was not renewed because it continually got better. Why, Fox, why? At least it was given a second chance. Dollhouse is now addicting and maybe my favorite show at the moment. It's crazy, unstable, twisty, and very Whedonesque.

6. Legend of the Seeker
Legend of the Seeker is Bad. Ass. You all know my love for Kahlan/Bridget Regan. But the second season shows her badassery off even more. And the lines between good and bad get blurred, as Richard inherits the throne of the Midlands from his villainous brother Darken Rahl, but Richard increasingly shows his dark side. We actually see the dark side of all the characters, except for maybe Kahlan who is the most rational, fair person, which is good since she is the Mother Confessor, judge of the Midlands. And there's the addition of the wonderful, and beautiful, Tabrett Bethell as former Mord S'ith Cara.

5. Battlestar Galactica
What a way to end the show. It was a bit direct on the final scene, but I wouldn't expect anything less from a show that so blatantly criticized religion, government, technology, society, among other things. The latter half of the last season was bone-chilling and intense. Blood on the Scales...HOLY CRAP!!! Roslin's speech to the mutinous Zarek was one of the best, if not the best, speech from the entire series. I'm not one to talk to the television or cheer or any of that, but I stood up and cheered Roslin. And then I orgasmed a bit. The finale was a nice, satisfying goodbye to the characters we so loved and enjoyed, and still the goodbyes are mysterious.

4. Glee
Glee is the breakout hit of the year, and it really induced our salivary glands when the pilot aired, making us want more immediately, but that more didn't arrive a long time. And the arrangements and cast made me love pop songs that I thought I'd never even tolerate. I hate Rihanna's music, but I loved Rachel's/Lea Michele's version of "Take a Bow." And I can't wait for Matthew Morrison's forthcoming album.

3. Party Down
I absolutely love this show; of course I would, because it's from the same creator as Veronica Mars, and the cast is even shared. And the guest stars are off the wall ridiculous, just as ridiculous as the employees of the catering business. And next season we have Megan Mullally joining the cast in place of Jane Lynch, who will briefly reprise her role to wrap it up. So much stupidity in one show and only two rational, sane characters.

2. Parks and Recreation
As I've stated before, this show has increased in quality, surpassing The Office, I think. I don't think I need to repeat myself, so I'll stop.

1. Better Off Ted
By far the best and most unwatched show of the year. It didn't help that it was a summer show going against stupid reality shows. The hilarious Veridion Dynamics commercials embedded in the show are definitely the highlights. I'm a fan of adorable characters, and this show has a lot of them.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Bobby's Favorite Seasonal Tunes

Here's What I'm listening to this holiday season to get me in the festive mood!

"Baby, It's Cold Outside"
versions: Jim Hanft and Samantha Yonack; June Carter Cash and Homer & Jethro; Zooey Deschanel and Leone Redbone
Hanft and Yonack bring a contemporary, modern edge to the now-classic song. It's fun and light. But not as fun and light as June Carter Cash and Homer & Jethro singing the song, mixing the words to add a drunken humorous quality. "I'll take your hair, your hat looks swell." And of course, Zooey Deschanel and Leone Redbone singing the song from the Elf soundtrack is rich in distinctive vocals.

"Here We Come A-Wassailing"
Kate Rusby
Kate Rusby's version of this song is probably the best I've ever heard. The soft, ethereal voice matches perfectly the Celtic-tinged folk tune.

"A Christmas Duel"
Cyndi Lauper and the Hives
I love this, edgy, rock song, almost the opposite of "The Twist of Magii." Cyndi Lauper's vocals add a definitive flare that makes the song stand out to other holiday songs. And it's rather dirty.

"It's Christmas So We'll Stop"
Frightened Rabbit
Very Frightened Rabbity. I love my Scottish rock bands. There's no reason you can't listen to this all year round either.

"Christmas Songs"
An interesting way to combine all elements of traditional Christmas songs. Definitely worth checking out.

"Frosty's Beach Party"
Barbary Coasters
I love this throwback to the 60's/70's, recreating the Beach Boys and other surfer bands. I'm a fan of fun holiday songs, and this is definitely one of the most fun. Don't fret, readers; Frosty's beach party will not cause him to melt because it's in winter.

"Silent Night"
I love Glasvegas. That is all.

"Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis"
Neko Case
I love Neko Case, and, really, how can you not love a song entitled this????

"Deck the Halls"
version by Beverley Mahood
Former member of the country group Lace, which covered "The Christmas Shoes" beautifully, released a country Christmas album, and this is highlight, with intricate soft vocals and a flute. Strange, but it works.

"O Holy Night"
Theoretical Girl
I absolutely love this version, the harmonies are soft and airy, unlike most versions where vocalists show off their powerful voices. It's a nice change of pace.

"Auld Lang Syne"
versions by Mairi Campbell and Dave Francis
I found it odd that this was in the Sex and the City movie. It just doesn't seem to fit, as this song is very traditonally Scottish. I don't hear many recorded versions these days that use the traditional Scots-English language that Burns write it as. Rather many artists modernize it. Maybe it's my love of the Scots-English language and traditional folk tunes, but I love this one, and it appeals to all audiences with a soft angelic melody.

Holiday Albums by Patty Loveless (Bluegrass & White Snow); Rhonda Vincent (Beautiful Star); SHeDAISY (Brand New Year); Tori Amos (Midwinter Graces); Enya (And Winter Came); Loreena McKennitt (A Midwinter Night's Dream)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Cheaters Never Prosper

*blogger's note: this post is not about Tiger Woods*

We love Glee here at Nerdy Pop and Wednesday's fall finale did not disappoint. There were great performances both musical and acting wise, but that's not what this post is about.

For months while watching the show I've been rooting for Will and Emma while hoping that when they finally did get together it would be without encouraging infidelity. Call me a prude, but I tend to get annoyed when television shows or movies have two characters come together romantically when one or both are in a serious relationship; no matter how compatible. Maybe it happens often outside of TV Land, but I want my shows to represent to me the ideal.

So, let's take a look at how Glee has handled some story lines that thankfully took the high road.

• Will and Emma
This is the obvious one. From the first episode it's been clear that these two belong with each other, but a marriage and engagement stood in their way. Kudos to Glee writers for bringing these two together after taking care of the dysfunctional, yet exclusive relationships they were both in.

• Quinn and Puck
It ain't neat to cheat kids and thank goodness Glee sends this message so well. Here's what happens when you take up with your b/f's bff and become his baby mama: you lose your boyfriend, your parents, your popularity and you get slushie in the face.

• Finn and Rachel
It's still unclear after the fall finale what will happen with these two. For me, that's a good thing. Viewers need something to root for now that Will and Emma are together, so come April I'll be right there waving my Rachel + Finn flag high when the show's spring premiere airs.

I don't know about you nerds, but this Gleek can't wait too see what this show has in store for the spring. And that's how Sally C's it.

Why Parks is currently funnier than The Office

The Office seems more like an awkward drama these days than a dry, awkward comedy. While it declines, just like Rome's empire, Parks and Recreation takes it place as the empress of Thursday night TV. The dialogue is less forced and now flawlessly hops between possible improv and cleverly-crafted concentrated scripts. Plot and jokes fit well together.

While it seemed first season that Leslie Knope (Poehler) was a carbon copy of Michael Scott with a vagina, she has since changed directions as a bumbling idiot. Leslie now acts as a prominent female political leader, on the same status as Hilary Clinton, Condy Rice, and Janet Reno. But she hold her own status too high? I don't think anyone actually cares if she goes out on the town and replaces her blood with pure alcohol or hires male prostitutes. But she takes the high road (usually). She has heart and tries to do the right thing, like cover for Tom in shooting Ron. While she is actually intelligent, sharp, witty, and resourceful, it seems those around her are more buffoonish than her now. She really is respectful, and I'd totally marry that.

I'm also glad to see the minor characters getting more screen time, which is something The Office is not doing. Donna and April are my favorites on the show, and their few lines make the entire episodes for me. The Venezuelan delegates lust for Donna was refreshing and hilarious at the same time because of her reaction. And my favorite parts from her were from my favorite episode "Hunting Trip," where she throws herself on her car in agony and despair, where we think she was shot or someone in the car was. But the windows we shattered by a gun, and when Leslie confesses to doing it, Donna tackles her! I laughed for minutes about that. Never saw that coming.

April's (Aubrey Plaza) lines of flat delivery are always welcome. She is so unhappy to be there, but on the bright side: she has a job. I don't think she even knows what her job is though, which makes it even better. She knows she's smarter than everyone else, but she doesn't flaunt it. She wants to partake in the crazy schemes and is often left out.

Previously I hated Andy Dwyer (Christ Pratt) and thought him unfunny and annoying and really wanted him gone. But now, he's a lovable goof that doesn't see the good things in front of him.

Mark Brendanawicz (Paul Schneider) is the only one I'm still indifferent towards. His character is flat and not funny. Even his lady friend Ann (Rashida Jones) is the most rational of the bunch and is funnier.

Ron Swanson is delightfully awkward, and you never know what you'll get form him. The episode with his ex-wife (Megan Mullally) was crazy-hilarious as she plays Jerry and Leslie. We find out more and more about him each episode.

We finally find out why Tom Haverford (Aziz Ansari) has a model-esque wife, and it's disappointing, but now we understand why he hits on other women. We still get lots of depth from his adorable and often inappropriate character.

I ALWAYS feel terrible for Jerry (Jim O'Heir), but it still makes me laugh. His only lines are thwarted by the rest of the crew when they make fun of him. The most we got out of his character was the hunting episode, which I think was a great character episode (which I think Poehler improvised during her interrogation).

While supporting cast members fade into wallpaper in The Office, Parks and Recreation makes use of their supporting cast characters.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Superhero Sightings!

Superheroes are everywhere these days, almost a reality. I expect someone to fly over me at any moment when I walk out my door. Let's take a look at recent shows revolving around superheroes:

No Heroics
ABC declined the American pilot, but the British version is successful and HILARIOUS! It's about the love lives (more sexual lives) of superheroes. The core setting is a bar where "capes" hang out off-duty. In this world, heroes are celebrities, and this follows the lives of a group of B-lister friends. A competition is played among the capes at the bar, where for each news report about one of the capes, they get a tally. There is an ongoing tally of news reports for each hero, and the most popular jerk of a hero Excelsor tops the list. The cast includes Electroclash, a technopath and loose-moralled bitch; The Hotness, a bumbling idiot ex-boyfriend of Electroclash that controls heat; Timebomb, the token gay dangerous (and questionable) hero that can see thirty seconds into the future and works for hire; and She-Force, the third strongest woman on earth and incredibly sweet and naive.

Even though it's gone downhill, and I'm no longer watching, the premise was an X-Men rip-off and worked well onscreen. Let's just get a live-action X-Men series instead. That way we don't get crappy movies that try to fit too much in. Heroes has taken all ages of powered folk, but none of them are relatable or admirable other than maybe the now-annoying Claire. They're all devious and destructive and stupid.

Another British superpower show, but this time, the main characters are troubled young adults who are doing community service. Each character is noticeably different, and their powers reflect their personality. The guy who can time travel wants to go back and change the past. When the girl who craves male attention is touched by a man, he cannot help but ravage her. The boy who is lost in life doesn't know what his powers are. The boy who often goes unnoticed and doesn't speak much has the power to turn invisible. The girl who wants to know how her boyfriend really feels about her ends up having telepathy. All in all a good show!

A modern X-Files. Not a fan. I tried. It's formulaic and just like other detective shows, but with victims with superpowers of sort.

A recent episode included a superhero that could fly, had superstrength, and could deflect blows. But it was the workings of an abnormal. I guess you could even say the good abnormals are superheroes.

Then I can't count the outrageous amount of movies and books about superheroes, but I shall give some examples.


Confessions of a Superhero
Documentary that follows the lives of three people who dress as Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman for tips.

Superhero Movies
Fantastic Four, Watchmen, X-Men, Spider-Man, Hellboy, Batman, Hulk, Iron Man, Superman, Wolverine....


Black and White by Jackie Kessler and Caitlin Kittredge by Andy Briggs
Hero by Perry Moore
So many others......