Pop Culture Junkette

Addicted to pop culture.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Nobody's Safe

SPOILERS. Since the re-start of this season of the Soprano's, it is clear that (1) everyone close to Tony is in danger from Tony and (2) everyone close to Tony has reason to possibly get Tony. The victims/suspects:
  • Bobby. He is facing problems with his poorly executed hit in Montreal and has reason to turn on Tony for forcing him to perform this hit.
  • Christopher. The growing mistrust between him and T was epitomized by Cleaver.
  • Paulie. He thought Tony was going to have him join Big Pussy last week, and he had good reason for concern.
  • Junior. He has wanted to off Tony since season 1, and Tony has reason to get him for trying (accidentally) to kill him. I'm not sure he is in any condition to try, but Livia was in a home as well when she tried to get her son.
  • Hesh. Didn't see that one coming, but last night, he clearly saw the animal that is Tony Soprano and was rightly scared. (Although Tony in his own sick way saw the immorality of killing Hesh or simply not paying his debt; of course, the manner of repayment--with his condolence call--is hard to fathom.)
  • Phil. Obviously. (Have to give kudos to Nancy Sinatra for her cameo last night, something that never would have happened had the Chairman of the Board still been alive. NB: Frank, supposedly, prevented Frank, Jr. from playing Johnny Fontaine in The Godfather.)
  • Carmela. While I don't see Tony killing her, I still believe there is something wrong with her after episode 1 (or whatever number it is of this season). Her fight with Tony last night was quite bleak.

Again, last night was more a build up for what is sure to be a violent conflagration in the weeks to come. The Vito, Jr. story provided (1) a picture of the life the next generation of these people have, particularly when they are not inclined to be mobsters themselves and their father is a known homosexual and (2) one of the most disgusting scenes ever on the show. And as bad as Tony's interaction with Vito, Jr. was, Phil's was infinitely worse.

No shock that AJ and his girlfriend/fiancee are not working out. Her look when discussing the wealth of Carm's relatives who bought the spec house was priceless. She clearly wants/needs money and is afraid that AJ can't provide it.

Finally, Tony's gambling seemed more of a device to show how out of control he is while providing a look at his financial position (not as good as one would think). Assuming Carm gets out of the show alive, the question remains what type of position she will be in financially. (And once again we saw that Carmella's ethics are as questionable as her husband's with her use of shoddy building materials and then selling the house to relatives! Tony's comment about killing their unborn child really hit close to home.)


This Post Brought to You by Bank of America

During the month of May, you can get into all sorts of museums for free if you have a Bank of America or MBNA* credit or debit card. But only if you live on the East Coast or California. But not DC, because our museums are already free for the most part.

*Note: This post should not be considered an endorsement of MBNA. Because they are evil and they suck.

New Beverage Alert

I've fallen off the caffeine wagon. I blame this on the total lack of Diet Sprite in India and South East Asia, which forced me to turn to Diet Coke (aka Coke Light) to meet my carbonated beverage needs.

Anyway, I have noticed a new beverage gracing our convenience store shelves. It's called Diet Coke Plus, and it is just regular Diet Coke with a few B vitamins, zinc, and magnesium added. Verdict: as far as I can tell, it tastes the same as Diet Coke. But my question is why? This is for people (a) who are concerned about nutrition, (b) who drink soft drinks, but (c) are too lazy to take a multivitamin (or eat actual food). Is that a large segment of the market.

It's also odd that there's been no marketing for this product.

This Is Sad

Eastern Market burned down.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Can't they just test it?

Any baseball fan will remember Curt Schilling's sock from the 2004 ALCS against the Yankees. In game six, blood seeped through the sock because Schilling had just had the tendon in his ankle stitched together. It was a visual reminder of the sacrifice a committed athlete makes to win it all.

Or so we thought.

Now baseball broadcaster Gary Thorne is claiming catched Doug Mirabelli told him that the sock wasn't bloody but rather, just painted. Mirabelli denies this, calling Thorne a liar.

I'm not sure who to believe. On the one hand, it really did look like blood, and Schilling is known for his (sometimes brutal, sometimes inappropriate) honesty. On the other, the bloody sock has become a thing of legend and made someone who clearly cares about his fame even more popular.

But can't they just test what's on the sock? In his blog, Schilling wrote that the first, really, really bloody sock was thrown in with the laundry, but his second, less bloody sock (worn during the World Series) is in the Hall of Fame. So why not just do some tests and get an answer?


David Halberstam: A Tribute

On Monday, the legendary journalist/author David Halberstam was killed in a car accident at the age of 73. I read The Best and the Brightest almost 20 years ago, and the vivid characterizations Halberstam provided of the leading figures in the Kennedy and Johnson Administrations remain with me to this day. For example, I still recall his story of McGeorge Bundy giving a fabulous presentation on some topic in, I believe, boarding school while reading from a blank page as he had not prepared anything.

Sure, he was frequently criticized for his pomposity or verbosity (and I can give second hand confirmation of the former and first hand of the latter), but he brought a talent and love to his craft that few can match. (If I could write 10% as well as he did, I would be getting paid for my insights instead of having the three of you read them on this blog!) In the years since reading what, I believe, was his magnum opus, I have read several of his other works including three of his "lighter" sports books on the 1949 Pennant Race (Summer of '49), the 1964 World Series (October 1964), and Michael Jordan (Playing for Keeps) as well as his work on the 1950s (fittingly, The Fifties). He died in the midst of his latest project, going to interview Y.A. Tittle for a book on the 1958 NFL Championship Game where the Colts beat the Giants in the first overtime game ever played and in a game forever after known as The Greatest Game Ever Played. It is such a sad loss particularly as he had so much left in him.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007


My thoughts on last night's show:

1. Chris - As a boy crush matter, I lurve him, but thought last night was one of his weakest vocals. The Judges, however, seemed to think it was his best. Am I the only one who thought he sucked?

2. Melinda - I continue to think she is by far the best of the group and I thought she was great last night. The judges seemed to agreed. Waiting for her to have a Fantasia make-me-want-keep-her-perforamnce-on-Tivo-forever moment though.

3. Blake - Imagine me falling asleep during his performance. Seriously. Though I thought his performance was sweet. He needs to do something better to avoid elimination and actually have a shot at beating Melinda or Jordin.

4. Kiki - I'm totally over LaKisha and thought last night she wasn't even 1/10th as good as Fantasia was when she sang that song a few years ago.

5. Phil - I actually like his voice better than the other two guys but I still think he's a weirdo.

6. Jordin - I like her and think she has a very good chance of winning it all, but I was not even close to blown away by her performance last night. I couldn't believe Randy dubbed it one of the best all-time Idol performances.

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Monday, April 23, 2007

Bingo? You Can't Be Serious!

So now, thanks to ABC, I see that Friday is being declared National Bingo Night. Is this what TV is now reduced to? I have got to pitch my tic tac toe idea, and I don't mean an updated version of Tic Tac Dough--this will just be tic tac toe. (Although I would be open to the idea of having Wink Martindale host; how can you not love someone named Wink?)


Getting Old Sucks

Last night, we saw, once again, that the myth of the mob and the world of the Sopranos bear scant resemblance to one another. (SPOILERS.) While the Sopranos may aspire to be like Don Corleone (or Gary Cooper), they are faced with a much bleaker future as we saw the pathetic existence of numerous members of the Soprano (and NY) families:
  • Uncle Junior--now suffering from dementia and incontinence and still trying to stay in the game with poker games out of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest or The Dream Team. His unstable "protege" ends up having major father issues, seemingly killing his real one before nearly doing so the same to Junior. And his former associates were even more pathetic with their plan to rescue Junior. (I forgot to initially mention the hilarious letter Junior sent to the Vice President; simply outstanding. I think we'll still be making jokes about the VP shooting someone in the face when I'm in a nursing home.)
  • Beansie--Now in "retirement" thanks to his near killing by Richie Aprile. He may be in Miami with his loving wife, but he is in a wheelchair and impotent. Not exactly the Florida dream.
  • Paulie--perhaps the most pathetic of the lot, stuck watching Three's Company reruns alone late at night and taking a whole lot of pastries from a breakfast buffet. His inability to keep his mouth shut may lead to his demise (as he rightly feared).
  • And, of course, Tony. Last night, he was forced to run from his childhood, i.e., his initiation into the world of murder. He may live in his comfortable, suburban home, but he can't escape who he is and what he has done, and he sees more and more that his childhood heroes--his father, Paulie--have clay feet. He constantly is seeing signs of his own mortality as he is stuck driving to Florida with Paulie. (Btw, nice shout out to my home town while on the road.) Whether this means Tony definitely is toast in 6 more episodes, I don't know.

Okay, so not much happened last night with the NJ family although we learned not to eat the food off the plate of a mobster. The uncertainty and violence in NY has yet to spill over to NJ, but I can't imagine that will last (and based on scenes for next week, it looks like things are going to start to explode).


Friday, April 20, 2007

In the world of celebrity parenting . . .

Have you all heard about this voicemail Alec Baldwin left for his daughter? If you don't feel like following the link, he left an irate voicemail calling her a "rude thoughtless little pig" because she didn't answer the phone for a scheduled call. She's 11. That poor kid. I wonder if I'm in the minority on this, but I actually am even more appalled at Kim Basinger for LEAKING this tape to the media than I am for Baldwin leaving the message in the first place. Obviously, both acts are . . . not good parenting, but what kind of parent puts this out in the world for everyone to see? WHY??


Thursday, April 19, 2007

Lost My Mind

I, for one, still remain fascinated by Lost which has lately decided to unravel and add new mysteries every week. The symbolism on the show is beyond comprehension, and it just keeps growing. (Before I get acccused of plagiarism, some of these thoughts have germanated from Entertainment Weekly's excellent weekly postings on Lost (although some are all my own):

  • Last night, we met Ruth (Desmond's ex-fiancee) and Naomi (the name of the parachutist according to ABC). Two names with major biblical significance and Naomi is the daughter-in-law of Ruth. What does this mean? I don't know.
  • We have Benjamin, the youngest son of Jacob. Yes, more bible stuff. And who is Jacob? The mysterious figure we keep hearing about who seems to be in charge of/a deity to the Others. Is Ben his son?
  • I'm sure this has been observed elsewhere, but Desmond is Odysseus and his beloved Penelope (for those not up on your Odyssey, that is the name of Odysseus' wife) is faithfully waiting for him to return from his sea adventures. Is Desmond actually the central character in this entire adverture, i.e., is Lost simply an Odyssey for the 21st century? As is Desmond forced to constantly be saving the world, whether be entering the numbers (remember the numbers?) or saving Charlie's life?
  • And then Joseph Heller lands in the middle of the Island, in Portugese to boot. (When I saw the book, I said to Mrs. Bartender, "Portugese?") Is this too a sign that war is coming?

As always, the best comic moments come from Sawyer (mix tape!) and Hurley. But what is going on with Jack (and Juliet) will clearly play a major role in the final 5 episodes and Locke will (must) also be back in a big way. I'm not sure we'll ever know what it all means, but I still want to try to find out.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Going Green

One of the frustrating things about global warming is that it is really hard to know what we, as individuals, can do to lessen our impact carbon-wise. I joined a CSA for the summer, (this one) so I can be sure that the fruit and vegetables I buy every week and inevitably throw away after they rot will come from our area, rather than being shipped all the way from South America.

But other than that, who really knows what to do? I walk to and from work every day, so I feel like I'm doing pretty well on that front, but then I wonder if living in the relatively densely populated area that allows me to do so, and to walk to grocery stores, etc., just makes the impact less visible by shifting the driving to the delivery people, etc., who make things so convenient.

Anyway, to try to give concrete guidance, Slate has reinstituted its Green Challenge. It is a series of weekly quizzes that assess your impact and offer specific ideas for reducing it. It is not problem free. This week's topic was transportation and one of the suggestions it makes is to reduce your driving by 25 miles per week. Considering how little I already drive, that's pretty tough to do. It did remind me, however, to buy a TerraPass to offset the 25,000 or so airplane miles I flew in the first three months of this year. Check it out.

Call Me "The Venetian"

On the subject of The Soprano's, sort of, I thought I'd point out this handy mafia nickname generator.

Mine is "The Venetian." Isaac's is either "The Abalone" or "The Coin Operator" depending on whether you count "your" as part of his last name.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Life, Death, and the Movies

So last night on the Sopranos, we had numerous intersections of life with our favorite NJ crime family and certain cinematic achievements. (As if I need to warn you, SPOILERS AHEAD.) Most obviously, we had the Tony/Christopher relationship come to a screen near you in Cleaver. With Daniel Baldwin in the lead (who needs an Oscar winner although Danny boy seems to have followed his brother in the fine dining department), we have what is perhaps an allegory of the Tony/Christopher relationship with a nice twist on the Adrianna relationship thrown in. How much is really there and how much is in Tony's head is not certain but, in the end, it doesn't matter--if Tony perceives it, the impact is real. (Okay, so Dr. Melfi made the same observation. Sue me.) And there is no question that Christopher has some issues with his father figure. Whether he really wants to give him a cleaver is another thing entirely, but we will see. (And, as usual, Tony saw through J.T.'s attempted explanation of the source material in 2 second while Paulie was extra frightening during this exchange. Paulie reminds me a little bit of Creed on The Office only without any inhibition on the use of violence.)

But while seeing the Sopranos played out in a crude Saw meets The Godfather caricature that is Christopher's epic, the actual show repeatedly paid homage to the latter film. First, the one whacking in the episode (not counting those on screen) echoed Michael Corleone's killing of Tattaglia. Here, the similarity was, I think, simply stylistic as it said nothing deeper about the unnamed killer (as opposed to the way that this killing was the turning point in The Godfather as it transformed Michael from the good son into a part of the mob family). The second echoing, however, has much greater portents--the final baptism scene where Tony becomes Godfather to Christopher's baby. Just as Michael Corleone became Godfather to his sister's child (whose father he had had killed) while becoming Godfather to the mob family, here Tony was becoming a (the?) central figure in his nephew's child's life while possibly involved in a life or death struggle with the actual father. I can't see both Tony and Christopher getting out of this season alive and wouldn't be shocked if one finally offed the other, but we will see. Of course, Michael ended up the boss of one family while losing his other one. I feel that Tony will at least lose one of his families before all is said and done.

And the other big drama is who will run New York. The sad demise of Johnny Sack featured an outstanding cameo from Sydney Pollack (who brought whole new meaning to the term "fully committed") and a portrayal the not so glamorous way in which so many mob bosses (and non-mob bosses) go. And yet the candidates to succeed him seem to be diminishing quickly with one executed, one happy living it up on the Island (with his mellifluous box, the latest example of Carmine, Jr. slaughtering the English language), and one more interested in revenge for his brother's death and the mangling of his family's name. It seemingly leaves Doc as the one most likely to succeed, but how this will affect Tony remains to be seen.

Until we meet again.


Friday, April 13, 2007

And in the world of celebrity dance . . .

I really wish we had a label for "couldn't make this shit up" because this would be the ideal post for it. According to UK's Guardian, Mike Tyson, the boxer better known for his antics than his technique (i.e. (a) biting an opponent's ear off, (b) spending time in prison for rape, (c) squandering an enormous fortune and declaring bankruptcy, (d) being married to that girl from Head of the Class (awesome show by the way) (e) really interesting facial tattoos (photo via Smoking Gun) has been cast in a Bollywood film in which he will dance.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Tudors

As someone who loved the point in history class where the lessons turned to the British monarchy, and who could at one point name all of the British regents from Richard III through Elizabeth II in order, it's no surprise I have been watching The Tudors. I have been a little reluctant to post about it, however, because I don't know that anyone who reads this blog (other than me) actually gets Showtime, but Comcast is offering the first two episodes for free On Demand, so everyone can at least catch the beginning. And it's worth a viewing.

The show stars Jonathan Rhys Meyers (although some like to refer to him as "the hot guy from Match Point," although I have never seen the film, nor have I seen Bend It Like Beckham) as King Henry VIII, following him through the early period of his monarchy. This is not the bloated, tired Henry VIII of Charles Laughton or Richard Burton films. This Henry is slim and athletic (although there is still some gluttony--with various women in bed) and, although I have never found Rhys Meyers to be so before, pretty attractive.

At the start of the series, Henry is married to Catherine of Aragon, and like HBO's Rome, we know how this story ends. But although I watched the first six episodes of Rome, I was never hooked. The characters weren't compelling enough to tune in week after week. Not so here. Rhys-Meyers' Henry is multi-faceted and conflicted. A self-professed humanist, but a realist about the duties of his monarchy; loyal to his friends, but vicious toward his wife. And the supporting cast is quite good as well, notably Sam Neill as the ambitious Cardinal Wolsey and Nick Dunning as the Joe Simpson-esque Thomas Boleyn, a man willing to pimp his two daughters for a little bit of status. Jeremy Northam has also been good as Sir Thomas More, although he hasn't been spotlighted in the first two episodes; I suspect he will be featured more in the future. The show also treats us to smaller stories within the larger arc, such as the beheading of the Duke of Buckingham, which help keep the episodes fresh.

Of course, Anne Boleyn is sure to be the other star of this series, although she has only made brief appearances thus far. As of yet, there isn't much to say about her except that she's cute and the casting department did a good job of choosing an actress who really could pass as her sister to play Mary Boleyn. Oh, and in a nice touch, she wears the necklace worn in her most famous painting, which I now think of as "Betty's necklace on Ugly Betty" (see painting to the right).

I'm unsure how far into his reign the show will go, although I suspect most of season one will consist of Henry's affair with Anne and his divorce from Catherine and split from Catholicism. (Theoretically, with the title of the series, it could go all the way to the death of Elizabeth I, but I doubt we will get there.) History has given the writers a fascinating story, and thus far they have delivered with good scripts and great acting.


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

American Idol, End Game

After careful consideration, this is the order that I think the remaining contestants should be voted off:

1) Haley
2) Phil -- he's actually not a bad singer, but so boring and creepy looking.
3) Sanjaya -- not that I like him, but he provides more entertainment value than the other two, and it would not be a travesty if he outlasted them.
4) Lakisha -- she does nothing for me.
5) Chris -- I sort of love him. I like that whole R&B thing and he seems more relevant than a lot of the other contestants. Unfortunately, I have to admit that he's not that good of a singer.
6) Jordin -- this is where it gets hard because I like the remaining three pretty much equally. I think that Jordin is probably the most marketable because she is very attractive and also a good singer. But, right now, she has the least presence.
7) Melinda -- she's clearly the best singer and also a really good performer. But I don't really care all that much about good singing. I mean, Celine Dion and Whitney Houston are good singers, but I don't buy their albums. Which leaves us with . . .
8) Blake. I'm not the die-hard American Idol fan that Wilder and Red are, so I might be wrong about this, but he seems unique in the history of the show. He's not a particularly great singer. And he manages to get by on his performance without being annoyingly cheesy like Taylor Hicks or Justin Guarini or insufferably earnest like Chris Daughtry. And he somehow manages to seem cool, while being on perhaps the least cool show in the world. I would love to see him win. You know he'd pull a Kelly Clarkson and leave the show in his rear view mirror.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

American Idol, Top 8

It's been awhile since I had an American Idol post, but I couldn't let Jennifer Lopez night go without comment. Most fascinating is the idea that Jennifer Lopez is coaching others on singing. But that's okay, because I love J. Lo. (except for the fur).

Melinda. "Sway." Once again, Melinda sounds good, but boring. It is nice that she never oversings, but she can get tedious. She looked really good--good hair for her and she looked liked she has dropped quite a few pounds. Gobo loved her.

LaKisha. "Conga." She is wearing an absolutely terrible dress--back fat is all over the place. I couldn't even really concentrate on the song. It wasn't a vocal challenge, and it wasn't all that exciting. Simon criticized her singing, but since I couldn't keep my eyes off of her back fat, I have no idea whether I agree with him.

Chris. "Smooth." I don't understand the credit he gets from the judges. I thought it was pretty awful. The guitarist stole the show and Jennifer Lopez must have been right that the song was too low for him, because even taking it up a step it was still too low for him.

Haley. "Turn the Beat Around." Absolutely terrible. There was nothing good about the performance. The backup singer sounded better than she did. And her clothes weren't even good. She clearly listened to Simon telling her she had great legs, because now she's wearing shorts that are way too short. And her hair and makeup sucked too.

Phil. "Maria, Maria." Jennifer Lopez says "goose pimples." I hate that. They are goose bumps. Regardless, I didn't get them from Phil's performance. It was really boring, and his voice cracked. The only good thing I can say about it is that it was better than Haley.

Jordin. "Rhythm is Gonna Get You." Is Gloria Estefan the only person who sings Latin songs? This is the third one of the night. I thought it was fine, but not that great. Simon is right when he says there is nothing stunning about the night, but the problem is that there is nothing stunning about the entire season.

Blake. "I Need to Know." His dancing just doesn't fit the Latin vibe at all. It was distracting. Nor is his voice even close to as good as Marc Anthony's. The end of the song wasn't bad, though.

Sanjaya. "Mas Que Nada." It's hysterical that they allowed Sanjaya to end the night. Was he has bad as he has been in other songs? No. Was he good? No. And oh my god, the facial hair. Did he decide he had exhausted the possibilities with the hair on his head and decided to style that on his face instead?

My guess for the bottom three: Haley, Phil and LaKisha or Melinda (upset!). Going home: I'm guessing Haley, but wouldn't be surprised if we see one of the front runners sent home in a surprise.

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Dancing With the Stars

Anybody else watching this? If so, I have just one question for y'all: When did Ian Ziering get hot? Because it's kind of freaking me out. He's STEVE SANDERS. He's not supposed to be hot.

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D.C. Notes

A few local notes:

1) DC has its own version of Sartorialist -- Project Beltway. It's not as good as the original though.

2) I predict that it will be much harder to get a table at Komi, one of my favorite neighborhood restaurants, now that Johnny Monis has been declared one of Food and Wine's best new chefs.

3) Gilbert Arenas has a blog. Unfortunately, he also has a whole bunch of free time to post to it, now that he had surgery on his knee.


Remember how I posted last Thursday about the new format of 104.1? Well, on Friday, it changed format again and now plays gospel music.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Bad Tidings

After a long day of watching sports and taking care of Isaac, Jr., I turned to HBO to bring a different form of entertainment into my life. And just having Tony and Carm and Vince and Ari back is enough to bring a smile to my face. For now, let's focus on our favorite family from New Jersey (other than my own).

SPOILERS. While the episode had a number of slower moments (interrupted by the vicious fight between Tony and Bobby and Bobby losing his cherry whacking the drummer), signs were rampant that some of our favorites are not getting out alive from this final season:
  • Bobby seems to have a bleak future. No, I don't think Tony will whack him for besting him in their drunken ramble, but his revenge--having Bobby finally murder someone after his father tried to get him out of that (a touch of Michael Corleone and was I the only one who thought of Fredo getting killed on Lake Tahoe when Tony and Bobby were boating)--may spell his end. Bobby's hit on the drummer was extremely poorly executed (no pun intended) with blood on his clothes and leaving the gun. His mentioning of the DNA evidence earlier was no coincidence and this can't be good for him.
  • I actually don't think Tony will die (although as he pointed out "historically" 80% of people in his line of work end of in jail or dead). I think something worse will happen. One of the funniest and most symbolic moments of the episode was at the end of the fight, a monopoly house was stuck to Tony's face. When Carm finally removed it, the house was seen, covered in blood. A fitting image of Tony's home.
  • I fear that Carmella's shoulder problem (which seemed to preexist the fight) is the portent of something much worse. As Junior would say, the Big Casino. Losing Carm would be deadly for Tony, and it may happen. We'll see.

But the genius of the show remains the little things (such as the monopoly house and the ducks (yes, they were back)). A number of comments make you understand the depths of these tragic characters. Tony's astute observations regarding his likely future and his recognition of Carmella's love of his violent side. Despite her protests, she loves his ability to inflict violence on others and he rightly knows it. Carmella's flaws were also apparent--her attempted blindness to her husband's character (he's "not a vengeful man") and her superficiality when discussing Meadow's career choice (not only criticizing pediatrics because it is not the highest paid medical field but knowing that radiology is; like Meadow will need the money).

So last night was just a taste for what is to come over the next 8 episodes. I'm certainly ready for more.


Friday, April 06, 2007


Remember last Friday when I was all, "oh woe is me, Television Without Pity why have you foresaken me" just because it was having server problems? Remember? Ungrateful wretch! I just clicked over to my favorite website (aside from this one of course) and what should I see but that they've started recapping the first season of The Wire. Consider this post the blog equivalent of scratching "I [heart] TWOP" in my desk in the back row of sophomore English. All is forgiven.

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How Not to Decorate

Has anyone else caught this show on BBCA? The title is obviously a play on the infamous and fabulous What Not to Wear, and indeed the two shows are paired together on Wednesday nights. Anyway, for those of you who can't resist a good home decorating show, this is totally for you. It's got a nice little twist on the usual theme, as the two designers are these FABULOUS and completely unrealistic Scottish fellows, Colin and Justin, who blow in, decide what needs to be done, and then leave their crew to get to it while they go shopping. Of course, the schedule is always too tight and the budget too small to perfectly implement their vision, and various madcap antics ensue as their team blatantly lies to them about the status of the projects, and begs to be allowed to do things more easily and cheaply, and Colin and Justin have fits and throw tantrums about the complete unsuitability of plastic bath fronts to their design scheme. It's completely adorable. But the best bit is when they check in a month after they've left and see all the horrible changes that the homeowners have made. I highly recommend it.

[On a side note, has anybody been watching the newish episodes of What Not to Wear that don't have Trinny and Susanna? The new presenters are TERRIBLE. They don't seem to give any real rules or advice about fashion at all. They're not stylists, they're an ex-model and a singer whose own style choices are questionable. It's ridiculous.]

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Deadliest Catch is Back!

Ok, I might be the only person who both reads this blog and loves this show, but just in case I'm not, I wanted to let everyone else know that the show is back with a whole new season on the Discovery Channel. New episodes airing on Tuesdays and repeating throughout the week. The season got off to a really depressing start as a fishing boat (not one of the crab fleet that the camera crews were following) capsized. But this season the crew has cameras with the Coast Guard too and we got to see the a real-live rescue. It was just like that Ashton Kutcher movie The Guardian, but real, and so, obviously, far more heartbreaking.

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Thursday, April 05, 2007

Breaking News: Puppies Are Cute

It's good to see that CNN is so focused on hard hitting journalism. This story from CNN.com has reached new levels of absurd. Do you think George can afford to drop the $20? I like Clooney, but this is ridiculous. Please let Anderson Cooper know that when I go out to dinner on Saturday night, I'm planning to leave a 30% tip. I expect appropriate coverage.

Radio Radio

We don't talk about the radio too much here at Pop Culture Junkette. Maybe because it's an increasingly irrelevant medium and Washington, DC is a notorious wasteland for radio. But I was pleased to discover that there have been two format changes to our local stations in the past couple of months.

104.1, which has been through numerous format changes, but was most recently playing classical music, has changed to George 104 playing "70's, 80's, and whatever we want." I'm sure the classical music people are up in arms, but since it's clear to anyone with any sense that 70s and 80s music is superior to classical music, this is obviously an improvement.

More confusingly, 94.7, which had long been D.C.'s classic rock station, changed to 94.7 The Globe, which now plays "World Class Music" and is "green-focused." What does this mean? Well, they seemed to have retained the same DJs, but now play more recent alternative music as well as some classic rock. I'm not 100% clear on what it means for a radio station to be "green-focused," however, except that the DJ commentary seems to be peppered with remarks about recycling and energy savings. It's no 80s-era WHFS, but it's better than what we had before.

Lost: Is It Worth It?

I've caught up on pretty much all of the TV that I missed while I was gone, but the one show I can't get motivated to watch is Lost. I now have 9 unwatched episodes.

Any Lost viewers out there to weigh in on whether I should devote the time to watching it?

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Do You Know What's Sad?

They finally bring back Six Degrees and tantalize us with previews showing Josh Charles (!) and then they cancel the show before the episode airs. So sad. Not that I lament the passing of the show itself because it was pretty pointless.

But maybe now that Aaron Sorkin seems to be free, he could reconstitute Sports Night. That would be great.


Tuesday, April 03, 2007

What's Going on with the Amazing Race?

This season of The Amazing Race has really suffered from some poor planning. It started 4 weeks ago with the Sign It v. Navigate It detour in Punta Arenas, where everyone who chose the latter (and even two teams who tried both) finished before the only team to complete the former. Then the same thing happened the next week in Mozambique with the Pamper v. Porter. Obviously, the two choices can't have the exact same degree of difficulty, but it would be nice if they would be close -- even if they require different skills -- so that the difference between winning and losing isn't just having made a lucky guess about which Detour to do.

Then, last week was sort of a disaster with teams ending up more than 12 hours apart just because some teams got on the standby list like a minute before others did. This, in turn, forced the producers to conjure up a transparently phony "storm" to prevent Mirna and Charla from being even farther ahead. I wonder what the deal was there, but it seems like the producers should reserve seats on various flights just to make sure that they don't get so spaced out (like they did with the trip from Ushuaia to Mozambique and tried to do from Zanzibar to Warsaw).

This carried over into this week's first episode. To give the producers credit, if the final two teams had made their connection as planned, they would only have been 2 hours behind the lead team and it would have been a closer leg. Did anyone else get the impression that there was a Road Block in there somewhere that got edited out? If not, it's not clear how Joe and Bill ended up an hour and half behind Eric and Danielle.

With the help of more blatant producer-created bunching, things were back on track with only 4 hours separating the top and bottom teams. I really question the combination of an Intersection, a Fast Forward, and a 4 hour gap, following a non-elimination leg. First, the only interesting thing about a Fast Forward is that you're taking a risk that you can't do it (either because it's too hard or someone else has already done it). But that risk doesn't really exist when you know that you have a 4-hour lead. Second, I just don't see how Joe and Bill could have made up half an hour unless one of the other teams totally screwed up. The only way this could possibly have worked is if the two lead teams decided not to go for the Fast Forward.

All of that being said, this is still some quality television. I've never been a fan of the eating challenges, but that polish sausage one was hilarious. How can you not like the BQs after that? And the armor, although I can't believe they missed the chance to dress Phil up in armor. That would have been awesome.

Go Danny and Oswald and BQs!

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