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August 31, 2004

This just KILLS me.

Celebrity Death Beeper.

Know first.

Hat tip to Defamer.

Posted by Dan at 07:51 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

MONKeying around with a successful neurotic


Monk is one of the two television shows (not counting Sportscenter and the Daily Show) that I watch regularly, the other being the oft-discussed (well, here, anyway) Dead Like Me.

I know I'm not the only one who watches Monk. So surely one of you Culture Mavens understands what a loss to the show the disappearance of Sharona will be.

Note that she didn't quit. They fired her.


Posted by Dan at 05:30 PM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

They have said their prayers, and they stay for death. -Shakespeare, Henry V (4.2.56)

Not everybody would be into a Shakespeare blog.

At Popping Culture, we are.

Posted by Dan at 11:15 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

I sure do like tennis.


Posted by Dan at 08:41 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 30, 2004

25 Shatner-esque points

Those of you who loved the Shatner video will love this hyper-cheesy remake of "Pour Some Sugar On Me."

From the Blogcritics.org review:

"To say their version of the song sucks would be to insult all those songs out there that really do suck."

"But the video introduces even higher degrees of suckage. The lead singer from Smashmouth is in it for some reason, as is Teck from MTV Real World Hawaii."

25 points if you can honestly say you watched THIS whole thing front to back.

*UPDATE* The "white boy rap" section of this video may cause spontaneous aneurysms. You have been warned.

Posted by Dan at 07:27 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Well, this is all I really wanted: an apology.

Looks like the L.A. Times finally ponied up and ran this much-needed correction:

An editorial Sunday on Donald Duck and other cartoon figures described the Disney icon as a single father. Although he is the guardian of Huey, Dewey and Louie, these characters are his nephews, not his children.

Way to face the music, guys.

Posted by Dan at 11:33 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Your points!

In the end, I had about 7 entries I wanted for first place.

My scientific method of ranking, then, became taking another hit of cough syrup, giving it half an hour to wear in, then reading the entries again: the three that made me laugh the loudest won, although for the record, everyone did a great job.

Usually, there are only a couple entries worth even looking at, but this was a tough choice. Nevertheless, there can be only one!

Well, three. And here they are:

FIRST PLACE (75 points): Joel Caris

Raúl wanted a striptease from me, but I refused to do it without the proper lighting. So we drove all over town looking for a well-lit bathroom. It’s amazing how few public restrooms have poles in them these days, but we finally found one that would work at a Denny’s about five miles across town. I slipped the manager a hundred dollar bill, Raúl barred the door and before I knew it I was lost in the flow of my body and the gentle serenading of Celine Dion being piped in through the bathroom speakers. The desperate pounding of customers who had just finished their Grand Slams threatened to break the mood, but the nearby mirror kept me focused.

Celene Dion. Grand Slam breakfasts. 'Nuff said.

SECOND PLACE (50 points): Folkbum

From page 53:

The sex-change operation was a complete success, and I re-joined the mile-high club on the flight back from Thailand.

Short. To the point. Left me with unresolved questions.

THIRD PLACE (25 points): Mr. E

Chapter 17: Prague, 1998

The unfortunate incident with the Prime Minister of Canada behind us, it appeared to have fallen to Tinkerbell and I to retrieve the microfilm. Valuable time was lost in the attempt to locate the appropriate Prada handbag: it had to accommodate Tinkerbell in the primary compartment, my trusty Walther in the outer, and must be absolutely stunning when matched with the trenchcoat and Manolo pumps. We settled on puce, grabbed an extra magazine of dum-dums, and set off into the sultry Czechoslovakian night.

Perfect. Would have been first place based on the dum-dum reference alone, but in the end I thought the Manolos were too "Sex and the City."

Good work, all. Don't be sad if you didn't win... many more points to be won this week!

Posted by Dan at 03:20 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 29, 2004

How Many Have YOU Read?

Currently topping the charts, according to the USA TODAY:

1. "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" by J.K.Rowling (Scholastic) (F-P)

2. "The 9/11 Commission Report" (Norton) (NF-P)

3. "Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry" by John E. O'Neill, Jerome R. Corsi (Regnery) (NF-H)

4. "Angels & Demons" by Dan Brown (Pocket Star) (F-P)

5. "The Da Vinci Code" by Dan Brown (Doubleday) (F-H)

6. "The Notebook" by Nicholas Sparks (Warner) (F-P)

7. "American Soldier" by Tommy R. Franks (ReganBooks) (NF-H)

8. "The South Beach Diet" by Arthur Agatston (Rodale) (NF-H)

9. "The Wedding" by Nicholas Sparks (Warner) (F-P)

10. "The Purpose Driven Life" by Rick Warren (Zondervan) (NF-H)

11. "The Teeth of the Tiger" by Tom Clancy (Putnam)(F-P)

12. "The South Beach Diet Good Fats Good Carbs Guide" by Arthur Agatston (Rodale) (NF-P)

13. "The Five People You Meet in Heaven: A Novel" by Mitch Albom (Hyperion) (F-H)

14. "Hello, Darkness" by Sandra Brown (Pocket Star) (F-P)

15. "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time" by Mark Haddon (Vintage) (F-P)

16. "My Life" by Bill Clinton (Knopf) (NF-H)

17. "Beach Girls" by Luanne Rice (Bantam) (F-P)

18. "The Secret Life of Bees" by Sue Monk Kidd (Penguin) (F-P)

19. "Bleachers" by John Grisham (Dell) (F-P)

20. "Nights in Rodanthe" by Nicholas Sparks (Warner)(F-P)

21. "Deception Point" by Dan Brown (Pocket) (F-P)

22. "White Hot" by Sandra Brown (Simon & Schuster) (F-H)

23. "The 9/11 Report" by 9/11 Commission (St. Martin's) (NF-P)

24. "See How She Dies" by Lisa Jackson (Zebra) (F-P)

25. "Skinny Dip" by Carl Hiaasen (Knopf) (F-H)

26. "The Rule of Four" by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason (Dial) (F-H)

27. "The Abs Diet" by David Zinczenko (Rodale) (NF-H)

28. "Digital Fortress" by Dan Brown (St. Martin's) (F-P)

29. "The Time Traveler's Wife" by Audrey Niffenegger (Harvest) (F-P)

30. "The Lovely Bones" by Alice Sebold, (Back Bay) (F-P)

31. "Life of Pi" by Yann Martel (Harcourt) (F-P)

32. "The Battle of Corrin" by Herbert/Anderson (Tor) (F-P)

33. "A Little Magic" by Nora Roberts (Jove) (F-P)

34. "Wicked" by Gregory Maguire (ReganBooks) (F-P)

35. "Reading Lolita in Tehran" by Azar Nafisi (Random House) (NF-P)

36. "Eats, Shoots and Leaves" by Lynne Truss (Penguin) (NF-H)

37. "Bushworld: Enter at Your Own Risk" by Maureen Dowd (Putnam) (NF-H)

38. "The Namesake" by Jhumpa Lahiri (Mariner) (F-P)

39. "The Devil Wears Prada" by Lauren Weisberger (Broadway) (F-P)

40. "A Place of Hiding" by Elizabeth George (Bantam) (F-P)

41. "The Sinner" by Tess Gerritsen (Ballantine Books) (F-P)

42. "To Kill A Mockingbird" by Harper Lee (Warner) (F-P)

43. "The Bourne Ultimatum" by Robert Ludlum (Bantam) (F-P)

44. "The Bourne Supremacy" by Robert Ludlum (Bantam) (F-P)

45. "The Devil in the White City" by Erik Larson (Vintage) (NF-P)

46. "A Faint Cold Fear" by Karin Slaughter (HarperCollins) (F-P)

47. "Lost City" by Clive Cussler with Paul Kemprecos (Putnam)(F-H)

48. "Sam's Letters to Jennifer" by James Patterson (Little, Brown) (F-H)

49. "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" by Kiyosaki, Lechter (Warner Business) (NF-P)

50. "The Real Deal" by Fern Michaels (Pocket) (F-P)

I've read a pretty pathetic 9-of-50. Anyone beat me?

Posted by Dan at 07:35 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

He should have thrown away the whole thing

The age-old debate (Is it Art or Trash?) suddenly escalated over in England.

Posted by Dan at 03:24 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 28, 2004

Brain Candy

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird
By Wallace Stevens

Among twenty snowy mountains
The only moving thing
Was the eye of the blackbird.

I was of three minds
Like a tree
In which there are three blackbirds.

The blackbird whirled in the autumn wind
It was a small part of the pantomime.

A man and a woman
Are one.
A man and a woman and a blackbird
Are one.

I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of inflexions
Or the beauty of innuendos,
The blackbird whistling
Or just after.

Icicles filled the window
With barbaric glass.
The shadow of the blackbird
Crossed it, to and fro.
The Mood
Traced in the shadow
An indecipherable cause.

O thin men of Haddam,
Why do you imagine golden birds?
Do you not see how the blackbird
Walks around the feet
Of the women about you?

I know noble accents
And lucid, inescapable rythms;
But I know, too,
That the blackbird is involved
In what I know.

When the blackbird flew out of sight,
It marked the edge
Of one of many circles.

At the sight of blackbirds
Flying in a green light
Even the bawds of euphony
Would cry out sharply.

He rode over Connecticut
In a glass coach.
Once, a fear pierced him,
In that he mistook
The shadow of his equipage
for blackbirds.

The river is moving.
The blackbird must be flying.

It was evening all afternoon.
It was snowing
And it was going to snow.
The blackbird sat
In the cedar limbs.

Posted by Dan at 12:56 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Quentin Tarantino in the latest Muppet film

Well, just let's all thank God he's not directing the thing.

Posted by Dan at 12:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 27, 2004

My favorite quote from this week's Onion

"And then... Surprise! People jump up from behind the pews, and a fake wall flips around to reveal a kindly organist at her pipe organ. The priest lowers from the ceiling and the festivities begin."

Posted by Dan at 06:43 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Getcher points here!

First place gets 75 Culture Mavens points. Second place gets 50 points. Third place gets 25 points. Enter as often as you like, but you can only win once.

The game surrounds this new book by Paris Hilton (who knew she could write?), which is due out September 7:


Your job is simple.

Pretend you've read this book without having some kind of hemmorhage. Now invent a quote (of any length) from Hilton's masterpiece and list it here.

For instance:

Nikki and I had been up until 4 a.m. the night before. Nikki, as usual, was passed out from Tequila shots, but I knew I couldn't sleep until I found Tinkerbell and until I knew who this man in my bed was. Just in case, I left him $14,000 cash. At least, I think I did - the red pills always make it hard for me to count. Later that week, we had my 8th birthday party.

See? Simple!

You have until Sunday night, Midnight, EST.


Posted by Dan at 08:18 AM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

August 26, 2004

Eye Candy


Breezing Up
Winslow Homer
(1836 - 1910)

Posted by Dan at 07:49 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Celebrity Quote of the Day

From washingtonpost.com:

"I wouldn't run for president. I wouldn't want to move to a smaller house."

- U2's Bono, responding to People mag's question, "If you ran for president, who would be your running mate?"

Posted by Dan at 12:07 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

August 25, 2004


This time from folks who are tired of the Dave Matthews Band's crap.

Posted by Dan at 04:56 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

I can name that lawsuit in two notes.


Oh, Lars.

The first sentence says it all: "Metallica are taking legal action against independant Canadian rock band Unfaith over what they feel is unsanctioned usage of two chords the band has been using since 1982: E and F."

I hear Beethoven used those chords, too. Can we sue his estate?

Posted by Dan at 02:32 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Scary book of the day.

"Converse claimed that only around ten per cent of the public has what can be called, even generously, a political belief system."

"Seventy per cent of Americans cannot name their senators or their congressman. Forty-nine per cent believe that the President has the power to suspend the Constitution. Only about thirty per cent name an issue when they explain why they voted the way they did, and only a fifth hold consistent opinions on issues over time. Rephrasing poll questions reveals that many people don’t understand the issues that they have just offered an opinion on."

"And voters apparently do punish politicians for acts of God. In a paper written in 2004, the Princeton political scientists Christopher Achen and Larry Bartels estimate that '2.8 million people voted against Al Gore in 2000 because their states were too dry or too wet' as a consequence of that year’s weather patterns."

"The most widely known fact about George H. W. Bush in the 1992 election was that he hated broccoli. Eighty-six per cent of likely voters in that election knew that the Bushes’ dog’s name was Millie; only fifteen per cent knew that Bush and Clinton both favored the death penalty. It’s not that people know nothing. It’s just that politics is not what they know"

This from The New Yorker. I suggest you read the whole thing.

And try not to think about the November election. It'll keep you up at night.

Posted by Dan at 08:38 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

My career may be over.

I work hard year after year to master the job skills I need.

Then a stupid co-worker goes and publishes all my secrets.

Posted by Dan at 07:55 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Could I borrow $502?


Today's Popping Culture must-have: Chewed gum! Currently going for $501 on EBay!

Chewed last (as far as we know) by Britney Spears. Ebay not responsible for oral diseases.

Posted by Dan at 07:48 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

August 24, 2004

Eye Candy


Delphes Sylphide
ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City
by Michelangelo Buonaroti

Posted by Dan at 08:27 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Nepotist Brain Candy

This poem is written by our own Mr. E Poet, borrowed from his poetry archives. It is intended to be read in French, but an English translation follows.

Le Minuit S'Amuse
by Mr. E Poet

Le minuit s'amuse.

Elle s'habille magnifiquement dans le mystère énigmatique.

Elle la met des peignes d'ivoire dans ses cheveux.

Ses cheveux sont les secrets de l' mille mille amoureux.

Les bandes de lumière dans ses cheveux

sont le rire épuisé de joindre

le baiser triste du départ.

Midnight amuses herself,
she enrobes herself in enigmatic mystery.
She affixes combs of ivory in her hair,
the secrets of a thousand thousand lovers.
The highlights of her hair
are the breathless laughter of the joining,
the tearful kiss of the parting.

Posted by Dan at 08:41 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

So, you stole that world-famous painting...

... now what are you gonna do with it?

Posted by Dan at 08:33 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 23, 2004

Because you demanded it!

Men who look like Kenny Rogers.

See if you can spot "Concert Flash Kenny."

Posted by Dan at 04:43 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

It's all... so different now...

I went to Daily News to check out the rumor that Flava Flav might be getting his own music show in the near future (remember Flav? Clocks, teeth, 911 is a joke?) but was stopped in my tracks by the sight of a newly brown-haired Reece Witherspoon.

Key quote: "I think I really am blond."

Posted by Dan at 11:50 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

And there was much rejoicing!

The latest Popping Culture points update is on the board! It's closer than ever, as 20 points separate the top four Culture Mavens! Check the right sidebar to see where you stand.

Remember, you can always check out the points-getting posts by clicking under "topics getting much play," also in the sidebar. Plus, look for new ways to earn points this week!

Halloween is the cut-off for this latest round of action. On October 31, midnight, if something isn't stealing my soul, I'll tally the points and the winner gets a HUGE prize that I haven't thought of yet. Exciting, kind of!


Update: Shortly after I initially posted this update, Mr. E Poet revealed himself to be the points whore that he is. The Crafty Mr. E clicked "points getters" in the "topics getting much play" division of the right sidebar and proceeded to scour the posts-of-the-past for any points opportunities. In short order, the clever devil rang up an extra 85 POINTS, which are now reflected in the sidebar's update of the update of Culture Mavens points.

Now, THAT'S dedication. Anyone else wanna take this as a personal challenge?

Posted by Dan at 07:41 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

August 22, 2004

Points Update!

Um, tomorrow.

Posted by Dan at 05:32 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Have you seen me?


"The Scream"
by Edvard Munch

Posted by Dan at 05:22 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

August 21, 2004

Hint for pop culture writers

Your list of the top ten worst rock stars of all times plummets in credibility when you include Billy Joel.

Or even Madonna.

So who do you Culture Mavens want to see in their places on the list?

Posted by Dan at 08:16 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Ah, the splendors of nature...


This Boston Globe writer is sick of it.

Particularly, nature writing.

Posted by Dan at 08:02 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Finally, a cure for insomnia.

And just in time for football season!

Posted by Dan at 07:57 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 20, 2004

Ho Ho Ho

Now you know what to get me for Christmas.

Posted by Dan at 11:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Eye Candy


The Persistence of Memory, 1931
by Salvador Dali

Posted by Dan at 01:21 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 19, 2004

By the way, I would give any amount of money...


... if they'd bring back the brilliant Chris Isaak Show for just one more season.

Sad now.

Posted by Dan at 08:46 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack


Back in college, my buddy Keith and I would rent or view at the theater EVERY horror flick that came down the chute (what else was there to do? Go to class? Please). There's a brilliant discussion here that brings that joy back to mind, starting with a truly scary film: Scream.

Now, I am a fan of dramatic cinema. I've taken screenwriting classes, and my favorite films of all time are dialogue-driven. I enjoy a good thematic script.

Still and all, there's just something about a movie that's really and truly SCARY. I don't mean there's a cat that jumps out at you in the dark... that's startling, not scary. I remember in John Carpenter's The Thing, a scene where the monster, disguised as a friendly mutt, reveals itself. There was a feeling of slow inevitability, as innocent victims were trapped and just had to watch the transformation happen. SCARE-EEEEE!

The Thing still holds a place in my heart as the scariest flick I ever saw. That movie-long sense of paranoia is a wonder that could only be created by inspired writing and film direction. (Note here that I don't count the time we were watching Alien at the Farwell's house and at a critical moment, Mrs. Farwell, who had snuck outside, pounded on the viewing room window. I very nearly wet 'em.)

So, how about you? What's the scariest movie you ever saw? When were you most scared in a movie?


Posted by Dan at 07:58 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

When did the impossible become ordinary?


This new book explores the demise of televised magic specials (i.e. David Copperfield). I suggest you read this very interesting review.

My own two cents is that at least part of this is because nobody really knows how anything works anymore. When I was a kid, we could take apart my dad's truck, fix it, and put it all back together again.

Now, everything works in inexplicable ways - computers most of all. We're so wowed and jaded by everything the world keeps throwing at us that real "magic" tricks aren't as special by half any more.

Posted by Dan at 08:34 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

August 18, 2004

Brain Candy

The Emperor of Ice-Cream, by Wallace Stevens

Call the roller of big cigars,
The muscular one, and bid him whip
In kitchen cups concupiscent curds.
Let the wenches dawdle in such dress
As they are used to wear, and let the boys
Bring flowers in last month's newspapers.
Let be be finale of seem.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.

Take from the dresser of deal,
Lacking the three glass knobs, that sheet
On which she embroidered fantails once
And spread it so as to cover her face.
If her horny feet protrude, they come
To show how cold she is, and dumb.
Let the lamp affix its beam.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.

Posted by Dan at 08:35 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

We knew it was only a matter of time before we saw THIS headline

Marilyn Manson Takes On 'Jesus'

Posted by Dan at 08:09 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

I knew it all along!

Thanks to Peter Bagge for saying what we've all been thinking during our visits to local art museums.

Key Quote: "95% of what they're hyping is pure crap, yet if you say as much out loud you'll be looked upon as a clueless Philistine!"

Posted by Dan at 07:47 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 17, 2004

Do You Know Me?


Ask me how YOU can get rich overnight in real estate!!!

No? Well, then, can I borrow a twenty for the next five months?

Posted by Dan at 04:57 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 16, 2004

Keanu Reeves engaged!

Witnesses say, "His face almost displayed an emotion!"

Posted by Dan at 09:57 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

This just in from our "Unfortunate Pop Culture Headlines" desk

Report: Michael Jackson Not 'Manhandled'

Insert joke here.

Posted by Dan at 12:48 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Eye Candy


A Vase of Flowers on a Console 1848, Montauban, Musée Ingres by Eugène Delacroix

Posted by Dan at 12:44 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

50 more points!

Here's an easy one:


First to identify this pop culture icon gets 40 points, 50 if they spell his name correctly.

Posted by Dan at 04:59 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

August 15, 2004

The truth is out there...

60 points still up for grabs by identifying one old lady! How hard can it be? Look down 4 (or so) posts to "Ok, smartypantses..."

*update: Carolyn got it! It was Grandma Moses, for those of you keeping score at home*

Posted by Dan at 10:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Brain Candy via Threepenny

a poem in two parts
by Daisy Fried


Late afternoon, snow starts. I'm walking
with my husband, as we do, in the city,
talking, as often we also do, about the problem of
putting dead animals in poems.
"Too obvious,
invisible, symbolic," I say. My husband agrees,
or might not be listening. "Maybe," he says.
"It disappears into its facts." Snowflakes like fingertip
touches on our faces. We turn the corner:
Ninth St. Market-kale, collards, garlic piles—
bootleg videos, clap-to-start singing Xmas elf dolls—
and "Look!"—my husband pokes me, points—
a dead deer is pushed into this poem. Junior
the butcher rolls it forward, laid out across
a low dolly: a button buck, tiny spikes,
red eyes clouded over-stiff like a toy horse
knocked on its side. Hunters freeze their kill,
bring it to Junior to make "roasts, chops—
hamburger, mostly," Junior says. "Ow!"
He dances awkward around the hooves. "Dead
but still kicking—I knew it wouldn't fit in the door.
I tell them, 'Cut the legs at the knee, you're not
losing meat.' They can't find the joint." He bends;
his five-inch fibrox-handle straight-edge knife
slides in the knee-knuckle. The leg-end falls.
By now you're imagining a stereotypical butcher—
big man, tall, gore-stained apron, toupée—
and you're almost right. Junior's never
marked with blood; he raises orchids
which curl their panicles and lippy scapes
above his fancy sausages. He paints Renoir
copies he shows among carcasses in his window:
plushy naked ladies look ethereal
beside real meat. Second hoof, third hoof.
Frozen blood on frozen belly hair. Closest
I've been to a dead animal with its skin on.
Gauze over the city, gauze really is what the
sky looks like, clouded over. Snow detaches
down to our world in dit-dots. Fourth hoof.
Junior's hand follows where the knife feels to go.


"Ow," I say, when we get home. "Don't touch
my body, your hands are too cold. But
I'll hold them in my armpits till they're warm."
Curtains printed with small red flowers
hiked back. Night. Asterisks of snow. His hands
warmer now. Snow in swirls across the window,
invisible, symbolic, obvious.

Posted by Dan at 08:22 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 14, 2004


Popping Culture insta-poll:


When did you stop caring about The Simpsons? For years, they were a must-watch for me... irreverant, religiously and politically relevant and just plain funny.

Then, about two or three seasons ago, I just stopped watching. Cold turkey.

Posted by Dan at 09:26 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Have yourself a fancy little skinny 15-minutes-of-fame-are-almost-up, please-please-please-make-him-stop Christmas

The sound you just heard was popular culture hitting rock bottom.

Posted by Dan at 09:19 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Ok, smartypantses...

60 points for this figure from popular culture:



Posted by Dan at 09:05 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

August 13, 2004

Cheap Points!

40 points to the first person to identify this soul from the world of entertainment. We'll make it 50 if you spell her name correctly.



Posted by Dan at 07:44 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Worst Movie Ever Contest results!

First place and 60 Culture Mavens points (viewable on next update) go to: Ralph!!! Despite a clever Dick Van Dyke-Mary Poppins accent reference to a Nick Cage movie, our judging staff chose his account of "Daisy Miller" as the worst of the worst. You had me at "Cybill Shepherd, Ralph... you had me at "Cybill Shepherd."

Here is the winning entry in full:

Daisy Miller starring Cybill Shepherd had to be the most excruciatingly painful movie going experience I have ever had. Being a young teenage boy at the movie theater with his older sisters, I had no escape from this monotonous, dull and poorly acted piece of celluloid. As I left the theater, my head throbbed with pain and I had the distinct feeling that all my senses had been assaulted with hot pokers.

Second place and 30 big points go to The Chairman for his psuedo-ku:

Battlefield Earth,
Forest Whitaker looks stunned;
"Fuck, my agent sucks!"

Granted, the typical August blogging doldrums may have helped. Nevertheless, both entries are clearly worth the points!

Posted by Dan at 07:37 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 12, 2004

The sound you just heard was Catwoman purring a sigh of relief...


... as another steaming pile of celluloid enters the "worst movie ever" contest.

Posted by Dan at 11:37 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Winnie the Pooh is my co-worker

Praise be to Sheila for this link.

Key quotes:

"Winnie's friends came by to take him out for lunch today: a little pig, a pissed-off-looking rabbit, an adolescent kangaroo, and a tiger that had to be on coke."

"It's Robin. Walt Robin, the V.P. of finance. That's how Winnie got the job. Apparently, Winnie has some sort of relationship with Robin's grandson or nephew or something."

Posted by Dan at 08:23 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 10, 2004

Worst. Movie. Ever. (60 points)

In Popping Culture's opinion, and in honor of the way Catwoman burned through all 9 of Halle Berry's lives, this would be the movie Gymkata.


Simply using the term "plot summary" is a rare mercy for gagging pile of wasted VHS tape. Kurt Thomas, Olympic vaulting horse star and ninja, "stars" in this tale of, um, tale of... well, it's not as long as you might expect, anyway.

I don't want you to hear that the cheap special effects were the only problem with this steaming pile of eye-burning, sensibility-offending tripe. With a 30 million dollar budget, this would still be crap, just nicely wrapped.

The acting is of a quality you expect - no, demand! - from your average Olympic gymnast. Unfortunately, the actual actors they surrounded him with are even worse.

The best part, however, is that they didn't even TRY to PRETEND this was a real movie. It seems they only had a roll or two of film to work with, because glitches, bad edits and special effects gaffes are simply left in. Part of the mystique, I imagine.

For instance, when our hero is attacked (one at a time!) by a band of Arabian thugs in a back alley (who are cleverly disguised as white, American males in bedsheets), you can CLEARLY see that there are gymnastics mats ON THE STREET. In the alley. For not just a few glimpses, but MINUTES ON END. Another prize moment (although my buddy Lloyd and I counted at least three dozen - hey, it was college. What were we gonna do, go to class?) is when a hapless Arabian prisoner (translation: white American male) is hanging from a rope bridge.

He is shot by an arrow that is clearly held only to his shirt by tape. As he is shot, instead of letting go of the rope immediately, he twists and spins, but the arrow STAYS IN PLACE until it is bent to a 90 degree angle from his body and hanging limply from his shirt. The arrow that killed him. The one they left in the film as a drama-building moment.

This is just horrible beyond words. You could use the "romantic" subplot to induce vomitting in case you ever gulped down something caustic, which this movie might just inspire you to do.

In any case, Thomas would have been killed immediately, the enemy held at bay only by his sudden uncontrolled urination at the site of real bad guys - except for one saving grace. He is in Yugoslavia! Yes, Yugoslavia, where the hordes of rampaging ninjas (oh, they got em, all right) attack in a very sociable one-at-a-time order and gymnastic equipment appears in every home, village, market and roadway.

In what might be the most memorable scene of Gymkata (hard to pick just one, I know), Kurt is surrounded by at least 30 ninjas. He runs to the center of the dirty village where there is (surprise!) a vaulting horse!

If your brain hasn't hemmorhaged by now, you might survive long enough to see the 30 ninjas surround Thomas and then... ATTACK!

One at a time.

After pausing between each ninja for Kurt to do a few spins, handstands and leg twists, or whatever you do on a vaulting horse.

At one point, Kurt is still whupping up on one assailant when another charges into the fray, realizes he has charged too early, and returns demurely to the angered crowd.

My vote for the worse movie ever.

What's yours? Time for Three Sentences.

You have until Thursday midnight EST to place an entry, with the following guidelines:

1 - Three sentences, no run ons.
2 - You must describe a movie you have seen all the way through, and you must give the reasons you think this movie qualifies as the worst ever.
3 - You are allowed two separate entries in two separate comments.

Winner (chosen by our crack Popping Culture staff) gets 60 Culture Mavens points. Second place gets 30. Everyone else gets to vent.


Posted by Dan at 11:15 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

August 09, 2004

Points Update and Critical Revelation!

The MOST CURRENT points update is in the right sidebar, along with the one-click link to a list of Popping Culture "points-getters," which are all the posts that have earned Culture Mavens points here. It is never too late to go back and earn points on past contests, unless they specifically list a time limit.

Critical revelation: Points will reset at Midnight on Halloween night! Whoever is leading the Culture Mavens points race at the post-trick or treat tally will win a prize!

A BIG prize! Just huge!

So big I haven't even thought of it yet.

The point, of course, is that I love Halloween.


Posted by Dan at 08:17 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Brain Candy

Your Dog Dies
by Raymond Carver

it gets run over by a van.
you find it at the side of the road
and bury it.
you feel bad about it.
you feel bad personally,
but you feel bad for your daughter
because it was her pet,
and she loved it so.
she used to croon to it
and let it sleep in her bed.
you write a poem about it.
you call it a poem for your daughter,
about the dog getting run over by a van
and how you looked after it,
took it out into the woods
and buried it deep, deep,
and that poem turns out so good
you're almost glad the little dog
was run over, or else you'd never
have written that good poem.
then you sit down to write
a poem about writing a poem
about the death of that dog,
but while you're writing you
hear a woman scream
your name, your first name,
both syllables,
and your heart stops.
after a minute, you continue writing.
she screams again.
you wonder how long this can go on.

Posted by Dan at 08:01 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 08, 2004

Speaking of Neil Gaiman...

Lookee here.

Posted by Dan at 08:28 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 07, 2004

We're On A Mission From God... For Points!


Some undoubtedly hip BBC wags named the soundtrack from The Blues Brothers, one of Popping Culture's all-time favorite bits of cinema, to the top of the all-time best movie soundtrack list.

I can't really think of any competition here, even among the non-first finishers they named.

Top Gun? Saturday Night Fever? The Sound of Music?

I would put Moulin Rouge at number two, but I'm a romantic. Let me know your favorite soundtrack and why for an easy 35 Culture Mavens Points.

Posted by Dan at 10:26 PM | Comments (21) | TrackBack

August 06, 2004

Thanks to Dean for this clever link...

... can you spot the difference between these two pictures?

It's not hard, but you've got to look close.

Posted by Dan at 08:51 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

August 05, 2004

"And now there is merely silence, silence, silence, saying all we did not know." - William Rose Benet

As chaplains, those of us who drew the dreaded and loved 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. shifts in Richmond's downtown MCV hospital were required to conclude our tours of duty by logging the night's activity in a notebook, to be read by the day staff in case follow-ups were needed.

Normally filled with names, times, conditions and activity reports, this is the report I wrote one particular Thursday afternoon:

It started with noise, in the way that Wednesday nights are often noisy. The code beeper came to life, demanding attention, signaling to those of us who are chaplains and therefore forced to listen that somewhere in the hospital someone was dying, or dead.

There was noise as I arrived. Nurses and doctors huddled around a newborn, shouting orders, yelling for this or that medication. A mother, asking questions that had no good answers, questions like "What's wrong with him?" and "Will he be alright?" More noise as monitors sounded alarms. More noise as the father's labored breathing gave background to the shuffle of activity around the little one. Then, finally, more noise, as a deep voice cut through the cacophany, "Time of death, 1:32 A.M."

And then silence.

You call yourself a chaplain, Dan, don't you have anything to say? Where are your words of comfort now? Where is your precious faith now?

There was another chaplain with me. He was useless, too.

We quietly steered the couple, the mother and father, to a family room. I opened my mouth to start to say something, anything, to speak to their pain, but what words are there for a time like this? There is only silence. Only silence can communicate what a mother feels when she loses her 9-day old son.

We sat in silence for half an hour, then an hour. One of the other of us would sob out loud occasionally, but even that was cut short, as if in reverence for the silence, for the empty, hollow, quiet place that was now forever part of their lives. Even a hundred healthy children could never fill the empty place that was now in their hearts. Part of them would always keep silence now, even in the happiest of times.

And what was there for me to say? I was powerless in the face of such amazing grief. No words from a textbook or verse from the Bible can make a dent in a pain so big, so sudden.

Finally, I slipped out of the room, to find the nurses. They had wrapped the baby in a blanket, clean and blue. They had combed his hair. It is part of my job to bring the parents their child, to hold for the last time. Numbly, silently, I took the child that would not even see ten days in to them.

There are times when keeping silence communicates more powerfully than a million words or songs or cries. There are times when the only thing you can give to someone is your silent presence, your sharing of their pain. Sometimes silence says that there are emotions too deep for words, too primal, too much a part of who we try to hide to ever be expressed aloud.

And so I was there, with them, silent in that awful, terrible room for as long as they wanted to stay. Where could I go? Where could I run from silence? I had shared with these two souls the most terrible, most defining moment of the rest of their lives. I had been with them to watch their child die.

Later, they left. I finished my shift in silence, waiting for 8 A.M. to arrive. Tears would fall from time to time, and I never moved to dry them. If I spoke, it was only in response to questions, and even then my answers were nothing more than excuses to be silent again. Silence has that kind of power, a power I had never seen before.

Somehow, I drove myself home and got safely into the bed.

It is a terrible thing when it is too quiet to sleep. I lay awake, staring at the pillow where my wife's head would have been if she were home, should have been if there were any justice in the world. I lay awake staring, praying that she would never leave the place she holds in my heart. It is too big a place to be empty, to be silent. Funny how I never seem to tell her that. Funny how silence can teach us the things that are truly important.

Sometimes silence can be a cave to hide in, an excuse to never take risks.

After a while, physical and emotional exhaustion took over, and I fell asleep.

I almost never remember my dreams, but that morning I dreamed of a white room, and a blue blanket, and I was trying to scream or cry or yell, but all I could dream was silence.

And we all go in to them, into the silent funeral,
Nobody's funeral, for there is no one to bury.
I said to my soul, be still, and let the dark come upon you
Which shall be the darkness of God.

- T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets, East Coker, 1940

Posted by Dan at 08:30 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Very Rare Eye Candy - Brain Candy Combo!


Victorian Christmas by Thomas Kincade, also known as "The Painter of Light and Mass Production"

Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening
by Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it's queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there's some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Posted by Dan at 08:16 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

I know you THOUGHT the Harry Potter series couldn't get any better...


...but you were wrong.

Posted by Dan at 07:48 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 03, 2004

Eye Candy


Poppies; near Argenteuil by Claude Monet

Posted by Dan at 10:33 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Points Update

Culture Mavens points are updated as of 8 a.m. EST (8-3-4)!

We have a new leaderboard, but everyone is still within striking distance of the title! Remember that you can click on "Points-Getters" in the right sidebar to create a list of JUST the posts on Popping Culture that will nab you points.

OH, how they'll cheer when they see you downtown once you're the Culture Maven Points Leader!

Posted by Dan at 08:03 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

August 02, 2004

The Pinnacle of Pop Culture.

No need to make more movies. Shut down the record studios. This is the height of audio-visual entertainment.

Thanks for this go to Paul, via Dean, both of whom should die painfully and soon.

50 points to anyone who tells me honestly that they watched and listened to the whole thing, beginning to end.

Posted by Dan at 05:19 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

My Favorite Pop Culture Everything, Redux

This list of questions was out a few months back on ArtsJournal and I used it as my opening entry here on Popping Culture. Now that we've had a few months to get settled, I thought a re-visit was in order.

Here it is in all its glory... you have any significant challenges?

1. Fred Astaire or Gene Kelly? Fred Astaire
2. The Great Gatsby or The Sun Also Rises? The Great Gatsby. No-brainer.
3. Count Basie or Duke Ellington? Duke Ellington. Swing, baby! Yeah!
4. Cats or dogs? Ouch. Um. We’ll do this numerically. I have two cats and one dog.
5. Matisse or Picasso? Please. Picasso.
6. Yeats or Eliot? Yeats
7. Buster Keaton or Charlie Chaplin? Charlie Chaplain. I laughed a little just typing his name.
8. Flannery O’Connor or John Updike? Please don’t make me pick.
9. To Have and Have Not or Casablanca? Casablanca. I buy the hype.
10. Jackson Pollock or Willem de Kooning? Pollock.
11. The Who or the Stones? I HAVE to pick one? How about the Beatles?
12. Philip Larkin or Sylvia Plath? Plath Plath Plath. Also, Plath.
13. Trollope or Dickens? Dickens. Duh.
14. Billie Holiday or Ella Fitzgerald? Ella Fitzgerald.
15. Dostoyevsky or Tolstoy? Dostoyevsky. Double duh.
16. The Moviegoer or The End of the Affair? Not enough information. Um, in my head, not in the question.
17. George Balanchine or Martha Graham? Eep. I defer to Sheila on this one and say Balanchine.
18. Hot dogs or hamburgers? Burgers. Double duh.
19. Letterman or Leno? Letterman five years ago or Letterman this year?
20. Wilco or Cat Power? None for me, thanks.
21. Verdi or Wagner? Verdi.
22. Grace Kelly or Marilyn Monroe? Grace Kelly in by a nose. A particularly cute nose.
23. Bill Monroe or Johnny Cash? The Man in Black. I’m shocked you even asked.
24. Kingsley or Martin Amis? Kingsley
25. Robert Mitchum or Marlon Brando? Early Brando.
26. Mark Morris or Twyla Tharp? Not enough information.
27. Vermeer or Rembrandt? Rembrandt.
28. Tchaikovsky or Chopin? Tchaikovsky. They’re getting easier.
29. Red wine or white? Red (I was tempted to go with the Billy Joel answer: “A bottle of red, a bottle of white”)
30. Noël Coward or Oscar Wilde? Wilde
31. Grosse Pointe Blank or High Fidelity? Nice choice here. Can I get back to you? Both are right up my alley and Cusack’s the man.
32. Shostakovich or Prokofiev? Pass.
33. Mikhail Baryshnikov or Rudolf Nureyev? Baryshnikov.
34. Constable or Turner? Dunno
35. The Searchers or Rio Bravo? Rio Bravo. Makes me feel all manly.
36. Comedy or tragedy? Mood-driven. Mostly comedy.
37. Fall or spring? Fall. Triple Duh.
38. Manet or Monet? Manet, based on minimal information.
39. The Sopranos or The Simpsons? Simpsons. Easy one.
40. Rodgers and Hart or Gershwin and Gershwin? Rodgers and Hart.
41. Joseph Conrad or Henry James? Joseph Conrad. Close one, though.
42. Sunset or sunrise? Sunset.
43. Johnny Mercer or Cole Porter? Johnny Mercer. I see a lot of folks going with more popular but less talented names on this thing.
44. Mac or PC? Please. PC... unless I'm publishing.
45. New York or Los Angeles? NYC
46. Partisan Review or Horizon? None of the above.
47. Stax or Motown? Motown.
48. Van Gogh or Gauguin? Van Gogh. So I’m a romantic. Sue me.
49. Steely Dan or Elvis Costello? Elvis Costello. Not even close.
50. Reading a blog or reading a magazine? Magazine. Magazines don’t demonize you for disagreement.
51. John Gielgud or Laurence Olivier? Olivier
52. Only the Lonely or Songs for Swingin’ Lovers? No clue.
53. Chinatown or Bonnie and Clyde? Chinatown. One of the best ever.
54. Ghost World or Election? Good question. Election.
55. Minimalism or conceptual art? Minimalism.
56. Daffy Duck or Bugs Bunny? Bugs.
57. Modernism or postmodernism? Modernism, if I have to choose.
58. Batman or Spider-Man? Batman as a concept, Spider-man as a movie
59. Emmylou Harris or Lucinda Williams? Emmylou
60. Johnson or Boswell? No answer.
61. Jane Austen or Virginia Woolf? Austen Austen Austen. May I just say Austen again? Ever see Emma Thompson do Jane Austen? Delicious.
62. The Honeymooners or The Dick Van Dyke Show? DvD, of course… got me through a lot of long, sick afternoons.
63. An Eames chair or a Noguchi table? Pass.
64. Out of the Past or Double Indemnity? Out of the Past
65. The Marriage of Figaro or Don Giovanni? Figaro.
66. Blue or green? Green. This is a recent change. It was blue for the longest time.
67. A Midsummer Night’s Dream or As You Like It? Midsummer, of course. The best of the comedies. God, I love Shakespeare.
68. Ballet or opera? Ballet in a landslide.
69. Film or live theater? Live theater. Duh.
70. Acoustic or electric? Acoustic. Double Duh again.
71. North by Northwest or Vertigo? Ouch. I honestly can’t pick here. Durn. Wow.. good question.
72. Sargent or Whistler? Sargent
73. V.S. Naipaul or Milan Kundera? Cute. Um, Naipaul.
74. The Music Man or Oklahoma? The Music Man, based strictly on fond childhood memories. Color me biased.
75. Sushi, yes or no? No.
76. The New Yorker under Ross or Shawn? Stop it.
77. Tennessee Williams or Edward Albee? Williams.
78. The Portrait of a Lady or The Wings of the Dove? The Portrait of a Lady!
79. Paul Taylor or Merce Cunningham? Dunno
80. Frank Lloyd Wright or Mies van der Rohe? Wright
81. Diana Krall or Norah Jones? This is not a choice. Norah Jones is a gift.
82. Watercolor or pastel? Watercolor. I like being able to hide my mistakes.
83. Bus or subway? Subway
84. Stravinsky or Schoenberg? Stravinsky. Not close.
85. Crunchy or smooth peanut butter? Smooth.
86. Willa Cather or Theodore Dreiser? Willa Cather.
87. Schubert or Mozart? Hrm. My heart says Schubert.
88. The Fifties or the Twenties? Fifties.
89. Huckleberry Finn or Moby-Dick? Huck Finn, still changing my life.
90. Thomas Mann or James Joyce? James Joyce.
91. Lester Young or Coleman Hawkins? Dunno
92. Emily Dickinson or Walt Whitman? Part of me really wants to say Dickinson just because, even though I love Whitman, he’s all elitist and white male in his writing. However, I’m saying Dickinson because I just think she saw things others didn’t.
93. Abraham Lincoln or Winston Churchill? Lincoln. Freed the slaves, yo. I hate this choice, because I’m a huge fan of Churchill and I’m ultimately only picking Lincoln because he’s the American.
94. Liz Phair or Aimee Mann? Liz Phair, but another close one.
95. Italian or French cooking? Italian. Not even close. Not in the same time zone.
96. Bach on piano or harpsichord? Anything on the piano.
97. Anchovies, yes or no? Nope
98. Short novels or long ones? Long ones.
99. Swing or bebop? Swing, baby. Yeah! Or did I say that already?
100. "The Last Judgment" or "The Last Supper"? “The Last Supper,” and I am presuming this is a reference to art, not occasion.

Posted by Dan at 12:41 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

August 01, 2004

From Popping Culture's "The General Ain't Never Let Us Down Yet, Luke!" Desk.

Well, it's about time.

Posted by Dan at 11:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack