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October 15, 2004

The Week of 1,000 Points begins!

The rules are simple:

Mrs. Popping Culture and I will be out of town until next Thursday evening, but that doesn't mean you can't earn a huge handful of points. I think it is safe to say that this week will be the difference in the Culture Mavens Points Contest, which ends at midnight on Halloween and will earn the lucky winner a Barnes and Noble gift certificate!

Below are posted contests, one for each day I'll be gone. You are to reply ONLY on the day that the contest is slated for (within 3 hours, to make up for those living on the Left Coast). So reply to Monday's contest on Monday, etc. Couldn't be easier.

DISCLAIMER: Some of you defend our country or have to leave town or happen to be the Chief U.N. Weapons Inspector. You folks may email me your contest answers all at once and I'll assign a somewhat reduced points total separately, as long as your excuse is valid. "Dude, I was, like, totally wasted on Thursday and forgot" is not a valid excuse.

And so, without further hairdo, here we go. Enjoy your week, friends! I'll be deep in the mountains of the Shenandoah Valley region where even cell phones don't reach, watching the leaves turn colors. Nothing could be finer.

SATURDAY: Suicide Island. Reality TV ratings are finally beginning to drop. Name and give a brief description of the fictional reality tv show you think I would least like to see. Enter as often as you like. Only your best entry will be counted. (100 points to the winner, 25 points for any entry at all)

SUNDAY: Book 'em. Nice day to rest, catch the game, and read a book. I was an English major in my college days and still read about 3-4 novel-length books a week. What was the last book you read? Name it and convince me that I should add it to my reading list. One entry per person. (100 points to the winner, 200 points if I am compelled enough to buy a copy (easier than you might think, I buy a lot of books), 25 points for any entry at all)

MONDAY: Movie day. Which movie (you get one entry only) would you MOST like to see a sequel to? This has to be a movie that has no sequel currently planned. (100 points to the winner, 25 points for any entry at all)

TUESDAY: Link me. I've been gone since Saturday morning. I haven't been near the InterWeb at all. Link me to the most interesting bit of news to happen in the world of popular culture since I've been on the road. One entry per person. (100 points to the winner, 25 points for any entry at all)

WEDNESDAY: Return of the Anagrams. Once again using Inge's Anagram Generator (or whatever tool you deem fitting to the task), pick your favorite entertainer (be it music, stage, film, books, art, whatever) and post the best anagram you can come up with using their name. Enter as many times as you like on Wednesday, but only the best of your entries will be scored. (I will score entries separately on a scale of 0-100 points)

THURSDAY: Three sentences revisited. This contest is the payoff! Choose your favorite solo musical act (popular music, opera, orchestra, classical, whatever), be it a performer or a composer, and convince me in three sentences (no run-ons!) that they are the most talented EVER. There will be one winner, who will gain an unprecedented 150 points. One entry only.

Good luck to all.

Posted by Dan at October 15, 2004 11:52 AM

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I would think that no one would want to watch a show in which ordinary people eat disgusting things in a competition for an amount of money that is just big enough to tempt the greedy, but not so big that a winner could win once and then retire off the winnings. I would call it ...

Wait, that one is already out there, isn't it.

What about a show where people with moterately tolerable voices get up and mangle other people's songs for the opportunity to become a one-hit-wonder. Then ...

They already have that on two continents, don't they?

How about one where people in committed relationships are put into compromising positions? The winners get to keep their relationship, and they get some money, and the losers find out that, surprise, they are losers!


I'll have to get back to you on this one, Dan. Every ugly aspect of human existance already appears to be syndicated.

Posted by: Mr. E. at October 16, 2004 07:35 AM

Mr E.--what if we took a bunch of average looking women, submitted them to thousands of dollars of plastic surgery, and then paraded them in front of an audience like cattle at a state fair? Nah . . . No one would believe it.

Here are my real ideas, though:
1. Colonoscopy Camera: Hey, there's hours of footage out there just collecting dust. Surely someone can string 'em together somehow . . .
2. The Watched Pot: Like Iron Chef, but without the actual cooking, just the dull prep work.
3. This Old Folks' Home: All the drama of strangers thrown together in a house coupled with the nausea of sponge baths.
4. Growing up Godfried: Gilbert Godfried's family, in all its glory.

Posted by: folkbum at October 16, 2004 07:40 PM

The last novel I didn't read for work was Passage by SF author Connie Willis. While not as good as her seminal Doomsday Book, it is evidence that the woman can tell a durn good story. Its central character is a clinical psychologist studying near-death experiences, not for commercial or religious purposes, but to find out what they mean. She hooks up with an MD who shares her interests, and together they make real headway. The book is laden with Titanic references--the ship, not the movie--and features a disaster-obsessed ten-year-old girl. Plus, there's a twist you won't expect: Once I hit that point, about halfway through, I finished the book in basically one sitting because I couldn't stop.

Posted by: folkbum at October 17, 2004 02:29 PM

The last book I read was Written on the Body by Jeanette Winterson. Frankly, it’s brilliant. The book is about an affair between the main character—who is unnamed and whose gender is never specified—and a married woman. The relationship between the two is incredible and it really strikes at the heart of what love is. It is, very simply, a story about love in all its senses. Leaving the gender of the main character unknown is genius and is, for me, what really sets the book apart from any other well-written story about love. By doing this—and by writing the character in such that the gender really could go either way—the reader is left undistracted by the mechanics of the affair and is instead able to focus on the emotion. There are times in the story that I imagined the main character as a male and other times as a female—and there is backstory that has the main character partaking in relationships with both males and females. What this serves to do is strip love down to simply an emotion. It’s hard for me to relate how well this works, but when you’re left reading about a relationship that cannot be categorized as either homosexual or heterosexual, it somehow opens up that relationship and allows the reader to better explore the nonphysical elements of love. It’s a hell of a good book and I’d recommend it in a heartbeat.

Posted by: Joel Caris at October 18, 2004 02:39 AM

Sequels . . . See, the thing about a good movie is that it's whole--it doesn't call for a sequel. There have been so many good movies that I've seen in the last few years, but none of them are dying for a sequel, per se. However, I can think of several films where I'd like to see a cast reunited, a la A Fish Called Wanda and Firece Creatures (though that didn't work out so well, did it?).

So here's my sequel-kinda suggestion: I'd like to see the cast and creative team behind Big Night team up again. The interplay between Tucci and Shalhoub was fantastic (I trust those two implicitly), and Campbell Scott is possibly the best actor using his craft today. Don't forget the inimitable Isabella Rosselini! Maybe lightning only gets caught in the bottle once, here, but, darnit, I'd like to see them try.

I hope this qualifies, Big Dan!

Posted by: folkbum at October 18, 2004 05:18 PM

Hm. I had a post and it seems to have disappeared. So I will try to reconstruct it.

The thing to me about a good movie is that it's whole to begin with; it doesn't need and won't survive a sequel. So what I would submit--if I may and this silly little box lets me--is that instead it would be nice to see a cast reuinited, a la A Fish Called Wanda and Fierce Creatures (though that didn't work out so well, did it?).

Here's my suggestion: Bring back the cast and creative team from Big Night. It is a classic film for so many reasons: the interplay between Stanley Tucci and Tony Shalhoub; Campbell Scott and Isabella Rossellini; the crisp writing and sharp direction. Heck, even the soundtrack was excellent. But not in a restaurant--that's been done. Something else . . .

Posted by: folkbum at October 18, 2004 05:29 PM

Now they're both there. Oh, forget it.

Posted by: folkbum at October 18, 2004 05:33 PM

Folkbum, your posts are appearing here. Try refresh or new browser.

Dang it all! Missing big points.

Saturday's DQ's entry:

Surfing for Sex. This reality TV series would have ten contestants surfing the internet to arrange dates with people of their choice. They would have ten weeks (or whatever length of time the series ran) to ring up the most dates. The sex part would be optional as it would be used in the title to lure viewers (aka the wife swapper shows that are proliferating like rabbits). The show would give you start to finish coverage of each and every meet up.

Sunday's DQ:

I have AADD (adult attention deficit disorder) so I don't read many books start to finish. Last book from page one to finis was Candide by Voltaire (I think, maybe). This is a rather disturbing tale and it isn't viscereal disturbing or cheap trick disturbing. It's truly disturbing at the core. If you feel the need to be brought down a notch, I'd highly recommend it.

Monday's 100 point entry:

I don't like sequels. The only sequels that worked in my mind's eye are the "Back to the Future" series. I'd do a finale that would have Marty and Doc making some serious life decisions about Marty's Parkinsons and Doc's impending old age and the tough decisions that time travel would offer.

Posted by: Ralph at October 18, 2004 07:34 PM

After taking a look at my DVD shelf, the movie I would most like to see a sequel to is Unbreakable, which was M. Night Shyamalan's post-Sixth Sense film. Some people didn't like this one as much, and it was pretty slow and deliberately-paced. But I found it to be a magnificent portrayal of a man who is realizing he is a super hero. It stripped away the myth and showed better than any other superhero movie--though not better than Buffy--how hard and conflicting it would be to learn that you are not normal, but that you have super powers when you did not believe they existed and now have a moral obligation to help people, even if it causes trouble for you.

The movie ended nicely, wrapping up the story to a large degree but leaving all kinds of opportunities to continue on. Bruce Willis's character could be explored quite a bit more and it would be curious to further see the strain his new life would put on his family and how he would adjust to it. I wouldn't mind seeing more on Samuel L. Jackson's character, either, as well as a new villain.

Shyamalan did a great job of showing how being a superhero might happen in the real world, where superheros don't exist. I would love to see him explore the idea further.

Posted by: Joel Caris at October 19, 2004 02:10 AM

Jon Stewart went on Crossfire on Friday and ripped Carlson Tucker and Paul Begala apart. I mean, he eviscerated them. Perhaps you caught it before you left, Dan. If not, Stewart called Tucker Carlson a dick, called both of them partisan hacks, and said that Crossfire is hurting America.

As anyone who saw the clip knows, Tucker Carlson didn't much care for Stewart brutalizing him on live television. So, apparently, there is now a bit of a feud going on. From the article:

Carlson on Monday fanned embers still hot from their "Crossfire" confrontation, saying Stewart looked ridiculous during his CNN appearance and was a sellout for publicly backing Democrat John Kerry for president.

Stewart, appearing on the debate show Friday, angered Carlson by saying "Crossfire" is "partisan hackery" that does little to advance the cause of democracy.

And that was the mild stuff.

"You have a responsibility to the public discourse, and you fail miserably," Stewart said.

Responded Carlson: "You need to get a job at a journalism school, I think."

"You need to go to one," Stewart shot back.

Carlson complained that for a comedian, Stewart wasn't being very funny.

"Come on," he said. "Be funny."

"No," Stewart said. "I'm not going to be your monkey."

Carlson chided Stewart for lobbing softball questions when Kerry appeared on "The Daily Show" last month.

Later, Carlson told Stewart he was "more fun" on his Comedy Central show, and Stewart called him a jerk — although he used a more vulgar term.

"I thought that he looked ridiculous," Carlson said in an interview Monday, "and I think the tape makes that clear."

Carlson said Stewart continued lecturing the "Crossfire" crew after the show went off the air. "I wasn't offended as much as I was unimpressed," he said.

You really have to see the video to fully appreciate what Jon Stewart did. Simply put, he destroyed Begala and Carlson and Carlson is delusional if he thinks Stewart is the one who came off looking bad. Stewart pointed out the obvious--that Crossfire is "theater" rather than a real, serious political show in which issues are discussed.

On Monday's Daily Show, Stewart talked a bit about the confrontation in that wonderful, hesitant and self-deprecating style of his. Contrasted with Tucker Carlson, it just made it all the more clear of who really came out on top during Friday's Crossfire, and who the true fake journalists are.

Posted by: Joel Caris at October 19, 2004 03:35 AM

Damn, the italics should have continued on down to the paragraph that ends in "I wasn't offended as much as I was unimpressed," he said. Sorry. That's where the quote from the article ends.

Posted by: Joel Caris at October 19, 2004 03:36 AM

A movie about Dr. Death.


Posted by: Ralph at October 19, 2004 09:59 AM

It was hard to choose a good link for you, Dan, especially since I don't usually follow the pop culture news. I was torn between Broadway Shrek, Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx as Crockett and Tubbs, and the fact that not even puppets having sex can beat CGI sharks at the box office.

In the end, though, I think you--a lover of words, like myself--will probably appreciate the new book that chronicles a century of clang, including dotcommer and hip. Now even you, Dan, can fit in with the cool kids from any generation!

Posted by: folkbum at October 19, 2004 11:30 AM

I can't think of anything that happens each year that is more important than who won the booker, even if it wasn't my choice to win (though I did enjoy it).

Posted by: Nathan at October 19, 2004 06:48 PM

I did see that Stewart interview before I left, Joel, and good on JS.

One more day of vacation, but I thought I'd pop in once I found internet access and make sure the Viagra spammers hadn't taken over.

I see that once I graduate, this place is gonna need some serious self-promotion.

Posted by: Big Dan at October 20, 2004 09:24 AM

Today, the anagrams are all about what the washed-up movie stars are up to:

Arnold Schwarzenegger, the renowned hagglers' Czar, expects to change dozer wranglers since the ones he has are covered in crazed gangrene whorls. And he'll stop biotech cattle research, because he's afraid of the enhanced grazers' growl.

William Shatner, though, wilts alien harm in his new role as an animal whistler. In the film, he eats a raw amish lentil, whilst a manlier airman hits well.

Ex-Bond Timothy Dalton will not hotly admit that he doesn't read damn toothy lit anymore, just novels about the altoid myth--NOT! Plus, he barks more dimly that Toto.

I typed this while listening to Natalie Merchant sing her alien-tamer chant about innate rectal ham. Must be the pot.

Posted by: folkbum at October 20, 2004 07:47 PM

Three Sentences was hard for me--I've been mulling it over all week--because, as a solo musical act myself, it's very difficult to choose from among my heros. But I'll try:

Peter Mulvey is a singer-songwriter/ guitarist who excels at both, influenced, in equal parts, by Leo Kottke and Tom Waits. He treats songwriting as a craft, and in his lyrics paints impressionistic images neatly balanced by his innovative guitar work. Unfortunately, the free MP3 of the month at his website is a cover of Gillian Welch and David Rawling's "Elvis Blues," so you can't hear his songwriting, but I encourage you also to check him out over at the iTunes music store--you will be convinced.

Posted by: folkbum at October 21, 2004 08:44 AM

I think it's Thursday. That means I get to regale you with 3 sentences.

Musically, I have eclectic tastes and enjoy a variety of artists and styles, so for me to have one favourite artist, that artist has to handle a variety of styles and genres with equal skill and originality. Additionally, the artist of whom I speak is equally skilled in writing catchy tunes and complex orchestrations, as well as with lyrics that range from simple to profound. As a performer, singer, songwriter, poet, and person of Faith, just about every aspect of my life finds an echo in the creations and performances of the Irish Cowboy, Van Morrison.

Posted by: Mr. E. at October 21, 2004 12:17 PM

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