Pop Culture Junkette

Addicted to pop culture.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Good News

Thank god! It sounds like the talks between the writers and studios, which resumed yesterday, are going well. Well enough at least that they're meeting again today. I'm all in favor of organized labor, and I support the writers 100%, but I really hope they can get the contract they deserve and get back to work soon and save this season of TV.


Monday, November 19, 2007

Exaggerate much?

A few months ago Donald Trump told gossip columnist Liz Smith about the celebrity version of The Apprentice he was planning, stating that he was in talks with Britney Spears and Paris Hilton had expressed interest. He said he was going to call Lindsay Lohan to see if she would like to participate. He also claimed Pete Rose, Carmen Electra, Naomi Judd, Joan Rivers, Jeff Gordon and former contestant Omarosa had signed on to join the cast.

Today the official cast was revealed and...well, at least he was right about Omarosa. Including the disgraced also-ran, the cast will feature Stephen Baldwin, Marilu Henner, Gene Simmons, Nadia Comaneci, Vincent Pastore (Big Pussy on The Sopranos), Lennox Lewis, Nely Galan (former executive director of Telemundo television), Carol Alt (model from the '80s more famous for dating hockey players), Trace Adkins (country music singer), Tiffany Fallon (former Playboy Playmate of the year), Jennie Finch (softball pitcher), Piers Morgan (judge of America's Got Talent) and Tito Ortiz (Ultimate Fighting Champion).

I only put parentheses after the names I thought might not be immediately recognizable. Notice that I used a lot of parentheses. I don't really see any Britney Spears in this group.

Regardless, it could be a train wreck. I generally find that reality competitions featuring celebrities (am I the only one who watched Celebrity Mole and I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here?) are not very exciting, because the celebrities are not very interesting. Regardless, it should be worth tuning in for, particularly if the writers' strike is still going on and there isn't anything else to watch. (Although, should I feel guilty watching network television at all? Is it wrong to support the networks in this way? This is probably fodder for a different post.)

A Few NFL Thoughts

1. I happened to be watching the Ravens/Browns game and its bizarre non-ending. For those not watching, Cleveland attempted a 51-yard FG as time was expiring to try to tie the game. The ball hit the left upright, hit the stanchion holding up the goal posts, and then bounced back on the field. The officials called the FG no good, and the Ravens celebrated. I was watching and thought the rule was (or at least should be) that if it hits the stanchion (which is behind the uprights), the kick should be good. In fact, that is the rule. After much debate, the kick was correctly ruled good, and the Browns won in OT.

What was weird was learning that this play was not reviewable via instant replay. If you have replay, this call is tailor made for review as there is likely to be no ambiguity (and there wasn't any here). Luckily, they made the right call, and whether they actually used replay (the officials claimed they didn't) will remain a mystery. I imagine this rule will be quickly changed.

2. If I were an NFL GM, I would immediately sign Drew Bledsoe and have him start. Then bench him. The last two times this happened, the results were Brady and Romo. Like about half the league (if not more) couldn't take a chance that this would happen a third time.

3. Speaking of Brady, wow. I mean every week is just another clinic by the Pats, and if the Steelers, the supposed biggest roadblock to perfection, can't beat the J-E-T-S, Jets! Jets! Jets!, then Don Shula better be might worried. (Oh, the irony of the Pats going 16-0 while the Dolphins go 0-16.)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

It was '80s night!

This week's issue of Us Weekly features their 20 best makeovers, with Carrie Underwood and Katie Holmes headlining the list.

I love Katie's new haircut. I think it's super cute, and even though her old hair was fine as well, it is nice to see her sporting something other than long and big-waved like most of her contemporaries. (Although points probably need to be subtracted since it looked so much like Posh's hair and she got the cut when they were hanging out all of the time, so it does seem to look a bit like copying and loses some of its orginality.) And it did make a big difference in her look, so she is a fair addition to the list.

But Carrie Underwood? All she did was lose some weight. Does a diet really count as a makeover? Her hair and makeup look much the same as when she was on American Idol. Which I guess is why Us chose a completely misleading "before" photo for Carrie. Does anyone think Carrie actually walked around with the hair in that shot? Of course not! That was the completely over-the-top hair that the traditionally over-the-top Idol stylists gave her when she sang Heart's "Alone." (Which, incidentally, was one of the all-time greatest Idol performances, and I wasn't even a big Underwood fan, although I liked her more when I found out she is a vegetarian.) The theme of the night was "number one '80s hits." I would completely hate it if someone started passing around photos of me with the crimped side ponytail sitting high on the top of my head and blue eyeshadow that I once wore to an '80s party and declared my typical look an amazing improvement. Aren't there enough unfortunate looks Hollywood stars actually choose and think the better of that could have been highlighted that Us didn't have to stoop to this level? For shame.

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Werewolf Bar Mitzvah

If you don't understand the title to this post, that is your loss because you really need to be watching 30 Rock. The show continues to thrive in its second season (even if its ratings do not). One of the highlights of the year was Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan) revealing his hit song, Werewolf Bar Mitzvah. Even though only snippets of the tune were heard on the show, it is all available here. Good stuff.

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Golden Compass

So what's the consensus on adults reading children's books? Is it embarassingly lame, or is it ok only so long as the book features Hogwarts, or is it generally acceptable?

I ask because this weekend I read The Golden Compass, the first in a trilogy of children's fantasy books by Philip Pullman ... and I liked it quite a bit. This isn't a book I went out and bought. My mother forced it on me last time I was home, and she claims she only bought it because the polar bear on the cover reminded her of her Great Pyrenees (seriously, the most awesome dog in the world, and one I'm tempted to dognap every time I go home). And while I didn't fall down in raptures with how wonderful the book was, it was perfect reading for a weekend spent ill and huddled under a blanket beside the fire. And I definitely want to read the rest of the trilogy. The little girl at the center of the story is flawed and charming, and the world they inhabit is a really interesting twist on our own. I recommend reading it before the film comes out in December. (Especially if you can do so in a snowy cabin.)


I'll Take Celebrity Sightings for $500, Alex

This weekend, Mrs. Bartender, Isaac, Jr., and I visited Nashville, TN. On our flight down on Friday, we, like many of the passengers on our regional jet, had to gate check several pieces of luggage. While waiting for the luggage to be brought back to us, my wife realizes that the first person waiting for her luggage is none other than Sheryl Crow.

For the record, Sheryl was waiting for her guitar; I thought that was a nice touch. Moreover, I have to say, she looked pretty, pretty good. I would say that her ex-fiance was better off with her than one of the Olsen twins. Of course, I couldn't resist telling Ms. Crow about how when your favorite bartender was on Jeopardy! many years ago, he failed to answer a question for which she was the answer and was ribbed about it for years. She thought this was quite funny. Our delightful repertee continued after Mrs. Bartender congratulated her on her baby. We were then on our way to enjoy our weekend with this quite amusing start to it.

The Jeopardy! theme of the weekend continued when Isaac, Jr., and I visited James K. Polk's home in Columbia, TN on Saturday. Polk was the answer (or question) to my Final Jeopardy and that one I got right! I'm better at long dead presidents than young musicians.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The Police in Concert

Last night, I saw the Police in concert. I hadn't had the chance to see them a few months ago when they toured the U.S., so I was excited that they added more dates (and a show in DC) so I could see them this go-round.

The most surprising part of the concert was just how good Sting's voice still is. He can still hit all of the high notes and hold them with power, which is pretty impressive for a 56 year old man. Sometimes the length he would hold a note seemed almost indulgent, but...he's Sting! And the crowd loved it, so it's difficult to hold the excess against him.

The set list for the show (November 5, 2007 at Washington D.C.'s Verizon Center):
Message in a Bottle
Synchronicity II
Walking on the Moon
When the World is Running Down, You Make the Best of What's Still Around
Don't Stand So Close to Me
Driven to Tears
There's a Hole in My Life
Truth Hits Everybody
Every Little Thing She Does is Magic
Wrapped Around Your Finger
Da-Do-Do-Do Da-Da-Da-Da
Invisible Sun
Walking in Your Footsteps
I Can't Stand Losing
Encore 1
King of Pain
So Lonely
Every Breath You Take
Encore 2
Next to You

So...a lot of greatest hits. Which was fine with me. "Message in a Bottle" is my favorite Police song, so it was great that they started with it. I wasn't surprised, because every set list I have seen from this tour shows they started with this song. In fact, there are few deviations from this set list and the others I have seen--the biggest difference I have seen is that they appear to have played "Murder By Numbers" at their other concerts, but not last night.

I have to admit that I didn't love some of their lesser-known choices ("When the World is Running Down," There's a Hole in My Life," "Truth Hits Everybody"), and I'm sure many critics would complain that the band was uninspired in playing so many hits. But as someone who will probably never have another chance to see them play in concert (and I guess that the other 18,000 people there are in the same boat), I enjoyed hearing their popular songs. They generally played the songs as they were recorded, although they did alter the arrangement of "Walking in Your Footsteps" a bit, and it sounded quite good. (The graphics of footsteps playing on the large screens above their heads were not as inspired.)

There weren't many young people at the Verizon Center last night (I don't know that I saw anyone who looked under 30), which I think makes getting the crowd worked up a little more difficult. I'm generally not someone who dances at concerts and I certainly wasn't the only one sitting in my seat. But the band did a nice job of getting people excited and they just sounded really good. I'm glad I can add them to the list of great bands of my youth I have seen live.


Monday, November 05, 2007


Katie Holmes completed the NYC marathon this past Saturday. To which I say: good for her, and I am so glad it wasn't me.
But I am a little confused by this photo. Running 26.2 miles is not a joke. And Katie is not flat-chested. So why isn't she wearing a supportive undergarment here? She ran for five and a half hours in what looks like a flimsy tank top?

Very odd. Also strange is the lack of training her the marathon. Tom Cruise said she has been training for a little over two months, which doesn't seem very long to me. A friend who has run a few marathons told me that one usually trains at least four months for the race. Of course, this friend also beat Katie's time by more than an hour. And I certainly don't blame her for deciding to try something but not wanting to devote a quarter of the year to training. But really--wear a bra!

Friday, November 02, 2007

Barry Bonds should take some English and history courses

This interview with Barry Bonds makes me wonder whether he was too busy playing baseball in his formative years to learn the meaning of the word "never," or some basic baseball history.

In the interview, Bonds is complaining because his 756th home run baseball--the ball he hit to break Hank Aaron's record for most career home runs--will be branded with an asterisk before being sent to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. Fashion designer Mark Ecko purchased the ball at an auction and then had an online vote to determine what should be done with the ball (the three options were send it to Cooperstown as is, brand it with an asterisk and send it to Cooperstown, or send it into outer space). The winning vote was to brand it with an asterisk.

Why? Because many fans feel Bonds' record is tainted by the fact that he used steroids at some point in his playoff career. Yes, fact. Because Bonds has admitted he did so, but said that he didn't do so "knowingly."

Bonds' response to this is that there "is no such thing as an asterisk in baseball." Actually, Barry, there is. The reason the asterisk is the symbol of choice here isn't random. It's because when Roger Maris broke Babe Ruth's record for most home runs in a season, the record books contained an asterisk next to his record, with the explanation that Ruth hit one fewer home run but when he played the season was shorter. This is pretty common knowledge for most baseball fans, and I would guess many non-baseball fans are aware of it as well. ETA: Isaac has informed me I am wrong about this (see his comment). So I apologize--apparently there are no asterisks in baseball. There are just asterisks in baseball movies directed by Billy Crystal. Regardless, my point below still stands.

And then there is the consequence of the Hall of Fame displaying the asterisk-emblazoned ball, according to Barry: he won't attend his own Hall of Fame induction. In fact, he says "I will never be in the Hall of Fame. Never. Barry Bonds will not be there."

Except...maybe never doesn't mean, well, never? He says "That's my emotions now. That's how I feel now. When I decide to retire five years from now, we'll see where they are at that moment. We'll see where they are at that time, and maybe I'll reconsider."

According to The Random House Unabridged Dictionary, the definition of never is:

1. not ever; at no time: Such an idea never occurred to me.
2. not at all; absolutely not: never mind; This will never do.
3. to no extent or degree: He was never the wiser for his experience.

Sounds pretty absolute to me. Note that there is no definition that says "not right now, but maybe some day." Of course, Barry will soon have a lot of time on his hands, so hopefully he can attend some classes at a local university.