A Few of My Favourite Things

What would New Year’s be without me adding to the plethora of lists? So without further ado, here is my picks for the best in pop culture for 2006, in no particular order:

The most sci-fi show on network television since The X-Files is also the best show on TV this year, topping Prison Break and even Lost. Random people suddenly develop powers and must figure out how to handle and use them, for better or worse. It is the best comic-inspired work of fiction since Sin City, doling out plot developments at a furious pace.

Hiro Nakamura
Super Hiro is the heart and soul of Heroes and the one character who wholeheartedly embraces his newfound powers and sets out to do good with them. Also, as a Star Trek quoting Japanese nerd, he provides the show with comic relief.

Stephen Colbert was on a tear this year: he lambasted George Bush and the assembled media as a speaker at White House Correspondents' Association Dinner; he had his fans stuff the online ballot box to have a Hungarian bridge named after him; and the Merriam-Webster dictionary selected truthiness as its Word of the Year for 2006. The Colbert Report is spectacular satire.

I’d never heard of these guys until the day I got sent a link to a video for a catchy song – Here It Goes Again – and their treadmill-hoping, choreographic perfection. Then I watched it over and over and over again.

Royale With Cheese
After the unceremonious dumping of Pierce Brosnan as the agent with the licence to kill and years of speculation on who would fill the tux, Daniel Craig emerged as the new, hard-edged 007, reinvigorating the venerable franchise without abandoning its past.

The most thrilling movie chase of the year had no gadgets and no cars, just two people making their way though a construction site at a death-defying, breakneck speed. The opening sequence of Casino Royale showed a terrorist using the technique, also known as free running, to escape the pursuing James Bond. Pure adrenaline.

After 15 years, the Canadian power pop quartet refuses to phone it in, releasing the 30-song Never Hear the End of It and heading back out on tour. Much goodness to be had.

Toronto During TIFF
Visitors often complain that Torontonians are cold and aloof – and they aren’t wrong – but all of that changes during the Toronto Film Festival. Suddenly complete strangers are chatting with each other with ease while in lines and theatres. They compare notes, thoughts on films, celebs they’ve spotted and then as quickly as it began, it evaporates. I wish the city were like this year-round.

The Tick vs. Season One
The big blue bug of justice finally comes to DVD after 12 years and multiple fan requests. A parody of superheroes, The Tick is as dim as he is strong – neigh well invincible – as he battles bizarre villains alongside an equally bizarre cast of characters, including American Maid, Die Fledermaus and the Civic-Minded Five. I’m so thrilled, all I can say is spooooon!

Shut Up and Sing
I’m no Dixie Chicks fan, but the documentary on what the country stars went through after lead sing Natalie Maines said “Just so you know, we're ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas,” was a real eye-opener. Their statement is mild by today’s standards though it was almost a career killer a scant three years ago. I picked Fido as my top movie of the Toronto Film Festival, but months later, it’s the Chicks that I keep talking about.

S.O.A.P. Suds
Despite massive amounts of internet hype, Snakes on a Plane is grounded. Turns out all the bloggers saying “wouldn’t it be cool if they did…” never had any intention of going to see it. Best web hoax of the year!

Video Mashups
It was like the birth of a new art form as digital videos, YouTube and people with loads of free time collided to create some of the most hilarious web moments of the year, from Toy Story 2 recast in the Requiem for a Dream trailer to the Peanuts gang shakin’ like a Polaroid picture to Outkast’s Hey Ya. Absolute brilliance.

Britney Spears
While there are many pretenders to her throne, Spears is in a class of her own when it comes to young celebrity train wrecks. From questionable parenting (now where did I put Sean Preston?) to finally dumping her parasite impregnator Kevin Federline, and then partying harder than Paris Hilton in a one-week period, she bows down to none. Keep trying Lindsay and Nicole.

Not Ready for Prime Time Players
Saturday Night Live is hot this year, not so much the show, but the shows about the show. Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip gives West Wing fans a taste of what they’re missing (even if it does take comedy writing far to seriously) and 30 Rock has all the laughs, especially with the sublime Alec Bladwin playing network blowhard Jack Donaghy. As for SNL itself, on the rare occasions it has a funny skit, I can watch it the next day on YouTube – see Lazy Sunday and Dick in a Box.

Yul & Ozzie
The top two finalists in Survivor: Cook Islands actually deserved to be there: Yul for his masterful playing of the game and controlling other contestants without it ever being obvious and Ozzie for being one of the most natural physical players ever to compete. The reality show granddaddy proved it still has chops.

For more lists than you can possibly imagine, be sure to check out Fimoculous' stunning list of lists, including such gems as the Best Re-cut Movie Trailers, the Top 10 Retro Gadgets, the Top 10 Sex Toys, the Top 5 Most Pretentious Looks and more music and film Top 10s than you will ever be able to read.

They Have the Internet on Computers, Now?

I wish the media could report on the web without me being able to sense all the eye rolling and smirks. It’s not to say that there hasn’t been some begrudging acceptance of the online world, but I often get the feeling it is being couched in “ahh, aren’t you cute!” head-patting condescension whenever there are stories about blogging, Wikipedia, MySpace and the like.

The latest came in the National Post this week, in an article titled “Behold the new narcissism” which went after YouTube and how it had “cornered the unnecessary media coverage of online ephemera.” Author J. Kelly Nestruck, while conceding the video site was a huge phenomenon, described it as the “online repository of videos of pandas sneezing, experiments documenting the effects of Mentos on Diet Coca-Cola” and sniffed at the number of mentions journalists had made of the site this year. His own chain, CanWest, racked up well over 800+ and I’m just going to assume he saw the irony of adding to that number. It’s just not worth the coverage, he concludes.

Now while I can’t defend the earth-shattering nature of the content, you can’t negate the popularity of the site – which has somewhere in the nature of 20 million site visits a month, with tens of thousands of clips uploaded daily. Why wouldn’t this deserve coverage? The most appalling dreck to come out of Hollywood garners pages of coverage everyday, no matter what the quality. The same can be said for music, TV shows and most of all, celebrities. Some may argue that none of it deserves ink, but not me. That’s the deal with pop culture – a lot of it may be trite and shallow, but if millions of people are consuming it, you’d best pay attention.

For Auld Lang Syne

It's the start of another new year, better call the newspaper up. I'm not usually one for self-indulgent posts (cough, cough) and I have studiously avoided blogging memes, but I couldn't resist end of year wrap-up, even if there are still a few days left in 2006. For those interested, just snag the first sentence of the first post of each month and let 'er rip.

January: There are no 20-something acting superstars these days, and The New York Times blames it on the actors.
Almost a year later and it's still true. Come on 20-somethings, step it up. Is Lindsay Lohan the best you have to offer?

February: Lots of interesting tidbits about the new James Bond film, Casino Royale, today.
Yeah, I was going on about the new Bond back them and months later it was totally worth it. Best Bond in years.

March: Forget the Seinfeld curse, that’s so early 2000s. The question now, is there a Friends curse?
Seems like Matthew Perry has put an end to that speculation with the full-year pick-up of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. Not that any of the rest of them have anything to brag about.

April: Why do TV shows have such inferiority complexes?
I still don't really want to see The Simpsons movie.

May: It’s funny how pop culture moments happen.
It sure is. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!

June: File these under Ways In Which My Life is Unlike a Celebrity.
I could pretty much begin all posts this way.

July: Canadian musicians haven’t recorded anything worth commemorating since 1970.
I don't actually believe that to be true - just being overly dramatic for effect.

August: Jer is back at his cottage - lucky bastard - and tagged me to step in for a post.
Yeah, I'm a real slacker. I wish it was summer already.

September: I wonder who looked at the short and stubby Hobbits and thought, “what it would be like if they could sing Broadway tunes?”
September was a truly geeky month for me.

October: Will Lost sink or swim this year?
Still waiting to see. The second-half of the season better rock. And enough with the Others.

November: It’s odd, I know this song, but I can’t say I’ve ever listened to it.
Pop culture, you don't always need to participate in it to be part of it.

December: It's down to the final day of voting for the Canadian Blog Awards and Popped Culture is in a tight, three-way battle for the title of Best Entertainment Blog, thanks to your votes and proselytizing on my behalf.
Second! It's the new first!

The True Meaning of Christmas

The Peanuts gang and their classic, A Charlie Brown Christmas, seems the most open to mashup and light parody (see Hey Ya and SNL's clever version). I think it is because it has become part of our common pop culture heritage over the past 40 years, as special to kids as their parents and grandparents.

The latest I have come across is a 10-minute version of the ‘toon, voiced by the cast of Scrubs. It’s not just a rework, but their own dialogue done in character and it’s great, even if you don’t watch the show. J.D. plays Charlie Brown, Dr. Cox is Linus, Carla is Lucy, Turk is Schroeder, Elliott is Sally, Ted is Pigpen, among others. The mashup (does this qualify?) was reportedly made for a cast Christmas party.

And as a parting gift, my friend Steph sent me a link to The Christmas Spot, which has links to 101 classic Christmas videos and is where I found the Scrubs video. Merry Christmas everyone, and I’ll see you in a few days.

Sugar, Sugar, You Are My Candy Girl

Imagine you're well over 60, but you are still trying to appeal to teenagers who read Japanese manga and worship at the alters of Lohan, Hilton and Duff. How can you possibly compete? A facelift and a makeover seems to be the fashion – just ask Betty and Veronica of Riverdale, USA.

The comic book icons, who often duel over the apparently must-have affections of Archie Andrews, have gone under the pen and emerged with a look that is more Hollywood than Toontown, all in an effort to give the brand a little more realism and romance. This is what female fans are supposedly clamouring for, according to Archie publisher Michael Silberkleit, and how they want to view themselves.

But you needn’t worry that these wholesome young ladies are going to start partying till dawn, snorting cocaine and dropping their underwear before eventually checking into rehab for “exhaustion.” No, no. "There will be no denigrating anybody, no putting down authority or family, no sex, no drugs. The characters will still wear seatbelts. There'll be no smoking. Nobody is going to break the law. It's going to be the same thing from dear old Riverdale that we know and love," says Silberkleit. Phew!

As a kid, I was always more partial to Archie comics, but despite what some may think I am not a prepubescent girl, so I really have no idea what they are looking for in a comic book. Maybe they could make Betty and Veronica more like Ugly and Mars versions currently tearing up our TV screens. They are strong, clever and rarely boy and clothes crazy.

Of course, they could also just leave well enough alone. The desire to changes the characters seems more an exercise in brand expansion than any desire to keep the characters fresh and relevant. Archie comics haven’t been cutting edge since, well, ever. You can pick up an issue and literally read the same stories, with the only concession to the times being our current technological obsessions. And what’s so wrong with that? There is a time for everything and once those readers have grown out of that phase it is as foolish to chase after them as a senior citizen trying to pass herself off as a teenager.

If It Weren't For You Meddling Kids!

Their animation was often choppy, the action repetitive but even so, William Hanna (who died in 2001) and Joseph Barbera created some of the most memorable cartoons ever made. Barbera passed away earlier this week and looking back at what he and his partner created at Hanna-Barbera is to view the work of animation giants.

The list is incredibly extensive and impressive: Scooby-Doo, Where Are You, The Flintstones, Tom & Jerry, The Jestsons, The Yogi Bear Show, Huckleberry Hound, Quick Draw McGraw, Wacky Races and the Super Friends to name just the some of the A-list. While Warner Bros. animation was the gold standard, Hanna-Barbera were the workaday heroes, pumping out cartoon after carton and making my Saturday mornings heaven.

The meddling kids of Scooby-Doo was always a favourite, despite the fact that every show was nearly identical – kids drive about in Mystery Machine, discover a haunted (fill in the blank), they would split up and Shaggy and Scoob would go off and find food and the ghost/monster and after a failed trap the ghost/monster is revealed to be Old Man (fill in the blank).

So much of today’s prime-time cartoons owe a debt of gratitude to Hanna and Barbera. Without The Flintstones you wouldn’t have The Simpsons and Family Guy. Fred and family were the most successful animated prime time show until Homer’s clan took the crown. Many of the original cartoons are being revived these days, albeit in an ironic, mashed-up kind of fashion. Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law and Space Ghost: Coast to Coast have both bought back the original HB characters and reimagined them as layers, judgesm, talk show hosts and more. Robot Chicken also delves into the archives every so often, going to show that I wasn’t the only on sitting on that couch every weekend.

The pair were amazingly prolific and imaginative and it will be a long time before pop culture sees the likes of them again.

Reality Bites

Mark Burnett is a genius. When Survivor announced its 13th season this summer people were up in arms over the premise – dividing the contestants into white, black, Asian and Hispanic tribes. Critics howled racism, advertisers pulled out and executive producer Burnett was accused of putting together a cheap publicity stunt.

It was a publicity stunt for sure, but it was hardly cheap. People talked about the show, mostly negatively, but they still tuned in. And at the end of the run, the show was in the Top 20 for the season and Sunday’s finale toped the night when Yul Kwon won the title of Sole Survivor. I would have given it to Ozzie, but what can you do?

For all of the concerns that the show was trading in racist stereotypes, the issue didn’t really rear its head beyond a lot of posturing about “representin.’” The gimmick played out for a few episodes before the merge returned the show’s usual scheming and backstabbing. I’ve been watching Survivor since a fat, naked, gay Machiavellian named Hatch schemed his way to a million dollars and this season held its own with the best of them. That is impressive for any show of this longevity, let alone a reality show.

I can’t say the same for the recently concluded Amazing Race. I haven’t been watching the series, but this year decided to give it a try. While it was entertaining enough, I couldn’t help noticing how contrived the whole production was – more so than Survivor. Every time a team got a head start they were inevitably sent to some store or attraction that was closed for hours, allowing the other teams to catch up. And when a favourite team was about to be knocked off, they oh-so-luckily happened to be in a non-elimination round. (I’m looking at you, blonde beauty queens.)

But my current guilty pleasure reality show is a Canadian production called The Big Flip, airing on HGTV. Two guys attempt to renovate and resell as many Toronto homes that they can in a year. It may not sound exciting except for one thing – they keep screwing up. It’s not that they don’t do good work, but they assume everything will be simple and it keeps biting them in the ass. Homes cost too much, they sell them for too little, they tear down load bearing walls and they ruin heritage homes. I watch it purely for the schadenfreude.

Our Stories, But Who's Watching?

Have you seen any Canadian films lately? It’s likely that you haven’t, because they aren’t that easy to get to. The Toronto Film Festival Group released its list of the Top 10 Canadian films of 2006 this week and most of them haven’t been seen outside of the festival circuit. I would say it is only because I am an avid TIFF attendee that I've seen any homegrown films this year.

Here is the Top 10, celebrating the best of Canuck cinema:
  • Away From Her – Sarah Polley
  • Congorama – Philippe Falardeau
  • The Journals of Knud Rasmussen – Zacharias Kunuk and Norman Cohn
  • Manufactured Landscapes – Jennifer Baichwal
  • Monkey Warfare – Reginald Harkema
  • Radiant City – Gary Burns and Jim Brown
  • Sharkwater – Rob Stewart
  • Sur La Trace D'Igor Rizzi – Noel Mitrani
  • Trailer Park Boys: The Movie – Mike Clattenburg
  • Un Dimanche a Kigali – Robert Favreau
Sharkwater was one of our festival faves, at has been cut by 90% since the 1950s. It, like many of the films on the list, has not been released yet, nor does it have a distributor. Even Sarah Polley’s film, Away From Her, won’t hit theatres until May.

I haven’t seen the Trailer Park Boys movie, which made the list, nor the top grossing Good Cop, Bon Cop, which did not. Neither of which had any appeal to me in the first place. So do I really have the right to tell people to go and see Canadian films? Perhaps not.

This year the festival didn’t separate the Canadian films in the program, placing them in the categories that were the most appropriate – allowing them to stand shoulder to shoulder with the best of world cinema. If we picked a Canadian film it was because it appealed to us – being homegrown was just an added bonus – which is how I think it should be done. But outside of the festivals, it can be difficult to find a screen with a Canadian film on it, or two even hear about them in a Hollywood dominated entertainment press.

If people don’t even have a chance to see the best of what comes out of this country – as evidenced by the TIFF list – than how will the industry even grow any larger? Maybe it is time for some Cancon regulations for theatre distribution. It worked for the music industry.

Spider-Man, You Blockhead!

Did you ever want to be a superhero, or a comic strip character for that matter? I don’t think I ever did but, having said that, my high school yearbook listed my destination as Bloom County.

But what if you were a comic strip character that became a superhero, which part of your personality would win? Great power or your schluby self? In one of those wonderful moments of pop culture serendipity, I came across a great Peanuts link over at Casual Slack soon after searching out the Hey Ya, Charlie Brown link. An artist named jdh has mashed together Marvel Comics characters with the Peanuts gang, to wonderful effect. Charlie Brown as Spider-Man, Linus as Thor, Lucy as The Hulk (Don’t make me crabby. You won’t like me when I’m crabby!)

It's a Hey Ya Christmas, Charlie Brown

I stumbled across a new Christmas classic the other day while compiling my favourite holiday TV list. It didn’t fit with the post, but it’s too good for just me to sit watching over and over and over again.

Imagine, if you will, Outkast’s André 3000 and Big Boi meeting up with the Peanuts gang and you get another fantastic mashup. I love how two wildly different pieces of pop culture can be spliced together to create something both unique yet familiar. Enjoy - those kids sure can dance! Oh yeah, please vote for me at the Weblog Awards so I don't finish dead last behind Famous Quotes and Recipes. Good grief.

A Pop Culture Christmas

I know it is the Christmas season, not by the ever-growing forest of lights on the neighbours houses, or the fact that advertisers have been pushing holiday shopping since the first of November, but by the specials on TV. There are a few that I just have to see to make me feel the seasonal spirit.

Mr. Hankey’s Christmas Classics has become a recent favourite, with the profane denizens of South Park remaking various Christmas classics and creating some of their own along the way. It is often blasphemous and likely offensive to many, but somehow it still manages to be sweet at the core. It also speaks to the eight-year-old in me who thought singing fake lyrics to We Three Kings was the height of hilarity:
We three kings of Orient are,
Puffing on a rubber cigar.
It was loaded, it exploded
Now we’re on yonder star
So when Cartman sings O Holy Night, I know where he’s coming from:
And, O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of our dear Savior's birth.
O holy night! The something something distant
It is the night with the Christmas trees and pie.
Jesus was born and so I get presents.
Thank you, Jesus for being born.

My favourite though has to be the lounge act duet of Jesus and Santa, singing carols and songs in the first person – a brilliant concept. Who hasn’t wondered what these two would be like singing at a piano bar?
Jesus: He he hoo, get away!The 2006 Weblog Awards
Santa: Go away?
Jesus: Get away.
Santa: Where away?
Jesus: Away in a manger, no crib for My bed
That's where cute little old Me lay down My sweet head.
The stars in the sky
Both: Looked down where I lay.
Jesus: Cute little eight-pound me (Santa: Oo-oo)
Both: asleep in (Santa: on) the hay.
Another modern-day classic (ok, ‘80s classic) is Scrooged, Bill Murray’s greed is good interpretation of Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol. Murray plays the Scrooge-lik Frank Cross, a driven and cynical TV exec who torments his employees and keeps the entire network working to produce a live show on Christmas Eve.

Much like Groundhog Day, I can watch this film over and over again even though I know exactly how it’s going to turn out. I just can’t get enough of that smarmy Murray charm – plus, Bobcat Goldthwait!

Clearly I like my holiday fare with some edge and A Christmas Story walks it quite nicely. “You’ll shoot your eye out!” is all Ralphie ever hears in his relentless quest to get "an official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle, with a compass in the stock and 'this thing', which tells time."

Ralphie is such a sweet little geek, I’ve always imagined he grew up to be Zach Braff’s Scrubs character Dr. J.D. Dorian – the only other person I could see dressed up in a pink bunny sleeper with feet. There are so many great childhood scenes that ring true as real kid moments and not what adults think kids act like. What kid hasn’t thought about sticking their tongue to cold metal? Or realizes that the way you deal with a bully is to run away? Forget the film? Than catch up with the 30 Second Bunnies.

But my ultimate Christmas fave, the one I cannot make it through the season without is Dr. Suess’ The Grinch Who Stole Christmas – the animated version, of course. It is such an amazing piece of work, whose sum is better than it’s already amazing parts: the tremendous wit and words of Dr. Suess; the stellar animation work by Chuck Jones (director of multiple classic Loony Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons); and the dulcet tones of Boris Karloff as the narrator. It’s as good as it gets.

No Such Thing as Bad Publicity

What lesson has been learned from Michael “Kramer” Richard’s pro-lynching rant? That tossing around racial slurs in a comedy club is a surefire way for a faded TV comedian to generate some publicity. Andy Dick, formerly of NewsRadio, dropped the n-word during another comedian’s routine on Saturday.

The appropriately-named Dick was heckling the comedian when he grabbed the mic and yelled “You’re all a bunch of n-----s!” Nobody laughed, or caught it on tape for that matter. But to make sure that everyone knew he felt bad, he issued a predictable apology. "I chose to make a joke about a subject that is not funny," read his statement. "In an attempt to make light of a serious subject, I have offended a lot of people, and I am sorry for my insensitivity.”

What he should be sorry for is his shallow attempt to cash in on the Richards controversy. Look, I’m outrageous too! It makes me look back fondly on the practice of washed-up stars making sex tapes – but don’t get any ideas, Andy.

Though not in the same category, the former Mr. Britney Spears, is continuing to garner media attention by turning his impending divorce and potentially divisive custody battle into a reality show. When Kevin Federline loses his wife, home, kids, he turns on the cameras so everyone can watch him implode. As long as people are talking, right Kev?

While Federline is attempting to wring the last drips of publicity out of his extended 15 minutes of fame, another celebrity couple has pulled the plug on their tabloid-friendly relationship. With the DVD release of The Break-Up well behind them, Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn parted company in the traditional fashion – a statement to People. The two got together on the set of The Break-Up, which garnered acres of press and likely helped propel the box office over the $100 million mark.

I can’t prove that Vaughniston was solely a studio/agent creation meant to drum up ticket sales for a middling film, but consider these are two people who are paid exceedingly well to act like they are in a relationship. How hard would it be to extend that to a few well-chosen public events if it meant more exposure for the film and more money on the backend for the aforementioned actors? I wouldn’t put it past Aniston, who has often used her breasts to garner attention for her career – either on magazine covers or sunning topless for the paparazzi. So what’s a couple of public smooches if it means a few million dollars?

Damn Popularity Contests!

The 2006 Weblog Awards Just days after I was soundly trounced for the Best Entertainment Blog at the Canadian Blog Awards (ok, I came in second by 16 votes, but that doesn’t sound as dramatic), I have discovered I am a finalist in the 2006 Weblog Awards. It seems somebody really does like me.

The category isn’t quite as prestigious: Best of the Rest of the Blogs (8751+). The number is based on The Truth Laid Bear Ecosystem blog ranking system, so that blogs of similar size can compete on a level playing field. There were over 80 nominations narrowed down to 10 finalists, so I’m happy for the recognition and any new visitors who come by because of it.

If you feel so compelled, please do vote for me – voting begins sometime Thursday and you can vote daily for the following 10 days. But I won’t be harassing everyone to do so this time around. I’m just not up for a second intensive campaign and I think people may start blocking my emails. Anyway, my friend and fellow blogger Amber Mac is up for Best Canadian Blog, so make sure to check off her name as well.

Best of luck to all.

Oh Lindsay, You Nasty Skank

The superpowered sluts have returned, this time to battle crabs and Wilmer Valderrama, which to nobody's surprise turn out to be one and the same. It looks like Heavy.com is using the Superficial Friends as a draw to promote their YouTubeish video site by making it a weekly series. Content is king! To the Brittle Bones Machine!

Born to Runner-up

The votes have been tallied and the results are in and Popped Culture has come in second in the Best Entertainment Blog category of the Canadian Blog Awards.

I would like to thank my many, many friends who annoyed their friends, coworkers and complete strangers to cast a vote for me. It was a valiant effort, but the winner – Bookninja – crushed me by 16 votes and so my congratulations goes out to them for their victory and their stealthy ability to kill people with literature. A tip of the hat as well to my worthy competitors: oRadio, Bow. James Bow and SHZine.

I take solace in the fact that even the mighty Lisa Simpson discovered she can’t be first all the time. (You can always find an appropriate Simpsons reference.)

Lisa: Hey, I am above average! So what if Alison's ahead of me? There's no shame in being second.

Announcer: And now, Avis Rent-A-Car is proud to present the second best band in America. Will you welcome Garfunkel, Messina, Oates, and Lisa singing their number two hit, "Born to Runner-up". [Audience boos]

Lisa: Why would they come to our concert just to boo us?

I’d also like to congratulate Amber Mac for the second place finish in the Best Best Sci/Tech Blog category, My Dinner Table for placing third in Best Activities and CBC Radio 3 and Inside the CBC for the two/three finish in the Media category. Lastly, I’d like to thank Robert McClelland for putting together the awards and introducing me to so many new and interesting blogs.

Thanks everyone, we’ll try again next year. (Yeesh, acceptance speeches are tedious, aren’t they?)


Campaigning is hard work – it takes a lot of effort to get enough people to vote for you. Just ask Michael Ignatieff. Oh… right.

So in lieu of anything trenchant or insightful to say, I present you with a list of things you can while away many an hour on the interweb. Don’t use these at work. Ha ha ha.

Ever wanted to be on The Simpsons or South Park? Well you can be, sort of. There are character generators for both – to the right is me as I would appear (for the most part) if I went to South Park to have myself a time.

Not the animated type? Then how about joining a ‘70’s Bollywood musical? If that's your dream, than it’s your lucky day! Bombay TV lets you subtitle your own mini-epic and email the masterpiece to your entire mailing list – ‘cause you know they want to see it.

Do you like those mosaics made up of thousands of smaller photos? If you thought they were ubiquitous before, now you can make your own with the Image Mosaic Generator which pulls the pics from Flickr and turns any photo you upload into a mosaic. Good, pointless fun.

Lastly, check out this fantastic mashup of the trailer for Requiem for a Dream and Toy Story II. Pure brilliance.

It's the Final Countdown

It's down to the final day of voting for the Canadian Blog Awards and Popped Culture is in a tight, three-way battle for the title of Best Entertainment Blog, thanks to your votes and proselytizing on my behalf. The award comes with 10,000 acres of beachfront on a remote Pacific Island with a mansion so covered in gold leaf, Donald Trump would be speechless with envy. When I win this coveted award, you will all be given two exclusive weeks to relax there.*

All you need to do is cast your vote today and I will stop writing these increasingly annoying posts. Doesn't he have a newborn, you many ask? A job? A life? All perfectly valid questions, but entirely beside the point. So help me help me.

Tristan is voting for me, won't you?

(* Pledges will not be honoured)

Whatchoo talkin' 'bout, Willis?

"How you doin? I love it when a plan comes together. Is that your final answer? Yeah, that’s the ticket. D’oh!"

Cable network TV Land is counting down the Top 100 Greatest Catchphrases in December, but put out its list so we could all bicker and reminisce over their choices and presumably tune in and watch. OK, I’ll bite. Reading over their collection, I could picture so many of them, not just from the episodes, but from friends repeating them, t-shirts and parodies. Some of them were real monsters, but they have all lost their impact when stripped of context.

TV catchphrases really don’t add up to a whole lot of conversation, but they do tend to stick in your head. They also age poorly, being unable to escape the moment in time when they captured the elusive pop culture zeitgeist. I’m sure many of these phrases were a mixed blessing – helping to catapult a series and a star into the limelight and forcing them to repeat it for the rest of their lives. Just ask Gary Coleman. (Ok, not anymore: RIP.)

But with that being said, here’s my Top 10, chosen on the basis that I repeated these phrases at some point in my life, over and over and over again:
  • D'oh! (Homer Simpson, The Simpsons)
  • De plane! De plane! (Tattoo, Fantasy Island)
  • Good night, John Boy. (The Waltons)
  • Holy ______, Batman! (Robin, Batman)
  • No soup for you! (Soup Nazi, Seinfeld)
  • Oh my God! They killed Kenny! (Stan and Kyle, South Park)
  • Silly rabbit, Trix are for kids! (Trix Cereal)
  • Whatchoo talkin' 'bout, Willis? (Arnold Drummond, Diff'rent Strokes)
  • Yada, yada, yada... (Seinfeld)
  • Yeah, that's the ticket. (Jon Lovitz, Saturday Night Live)
And now as a cheap ploy to fill an incredible amount of space, here is the full list:

- ... if it weren't for you meddling kids! (Various villains, Scooby Doo, Where Are You?)
- Aaay! (Fonzie, Happy Days)
- And that's the way it is. (Walter Cronkite, CBS Evening News)
- Ask not what your country can do for you ... (John F. Kennedy)
- Baby, you're the greatest. (Ralph Kramden, The Honeymooners)
- Bam! (Emeril Lagasse, Emeril Live)
- Book 'em, Danno. (Steve McGarrett, Hawaii Five-O)
- Come on down! (Johnny Olson, et al, The Price is Right)
- Danger, Will Robinson! (Robot, Lost in Space)
- De plane! De plane! (Tattoo, Fantasy Island)
- Denny Crane. (Denny Crane, Boston Legal)
- Do you believe in miracles? (Al Michaels, 1980 Winter Olympics)
- D'oh! (Homer Simpson, The Simpsons)
- Don't make me angry... (David Banner, The Incredible Hulk)
- Dynomite! (J.J., Good Times)
- Elizabeth, I'm coming! (Fred Sanford, Sanford and Son)
- Gee, Mrs. Cleaver... (Eddie Haskell, Leave it to Beaver)
- God'll get you for that. (Maude, Maude)
- Good grief. (Charlie Brown, Peanuts Specials)
- Good night and good luck. (Edward R. Murrow, See It Now)
- Good night, John Boy. (The Waltons)
- Have you no sense of decency? (Joseph Welch to Sen. McCarthy)
- Heh heh... (Beavis & Butthead, Beavis and Butthead)
- Here it is, your moment of Zen. (Jon Stewart, The Daily Show)
- Here's Johnny! (Ed McMahon, The Tonight Show)
- Hey now! (Hank Kingsley, The Larry Sanders Show)
- Hey, hey, hey! (Dwayne Nelson, What's Happening!!)
- Hey, hey, hey! (Fat Albert, Fat Albert)
- Holy ______, Batman! (Robin, Batman)
- Holy crap! (Frank Barone, Everybody Loves Raymond)
- Homey don't play that! (Homey the Clown, In Living Color)
- How sweet it is! (Jackie Gleason, The Jackie Gleason Show)
- How you doin'? (Joey Tribbiani, Friends)
- I can't believe I ate that whole thing. (Alka Seltzer)
- I know nothing! (Sgt. Schultz, Hogan's Heroes)
- I love it when a plan comes together. (Hannibal, The A-Team)
- I want my MTV! (MTV)
- I'm Larry, this is my brother Darryl... (Larry, Newhart)
- I'm not a crook. (Richard Nixon)
- I'm not a doctor, but I play one on TV. (Vicks Formula 44)
- I'm Rick James, bitch! (Dave Chappelle as Rick James, Chappelle's Show)
- Is that your final answer? (Regis Philbin, Who Wants to be a Millionaire)
- It keeps going and going and going... (Energizer Batteries)
- It takes a licking... (Timex)
- Jane, you ignorant slut. (Jane Curtin and Dan Aykroyd, Saturday Night Live)
- Just one more thing... (Columbo, Columbo)
- Let's be careful out there. (Sgt. Esterhaus, Hill Street Blues)
- Let's get ready to rumble! (Michael Buffer, Various sporting events)
- Live long and prosper. (Spock, Star Trek)
- Making whoopie! (Bob Eubanks, The Newlywed Game)
- Marcia, Marcia, Marcia! (Jan Brady, The Brady Bunch)
- Mom always liked you best. (Tommy Smothers, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour)
- Never assume... (Felix Unger, The Odd Couple)
- Nip it! (Barney Fife, The Andy Griffith Show)
- No soup for you! (Soup Nazi, Seinfeld)
- Norm! (Cheers)
- Now cut that out! (Jack Benny, The Jack Benny Program)
- Oh my God! They killed Kenny! You bastards! (Stan and Kyle, South Park)
- Oh, my nose! (Marcia Brady, The Brady Bunch)
- One small step for man... (Neil Armstrong)
- Pardon me, would you have any Grey Poupon? (Grey Poupon)
- Read my lips: No new taxes! (George H.W. Bush)
- Resistance is futile. (Picard as Borg, Star Trek: The Next Generation)
- Say good night, Gracie. (George Burns, The Burns & Allen Show)
- Schwing! (Mike Myers and Dana Carvey as Wayne and Garth, Saturday Night Live)
- Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy. (Lloyd Bentsen to Dan Quayle)
- Silly rabbit, Trix are for kids! (Trix Cereal)
- Smile, you're on Candid Camera! (Candid Camera)
- Sock it to me. (Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In)
- Space, the final frontier... (Capt. Kirk, Star Trek)
- Stifle! (Archie Bunker, All in the Family)
- Suit up! (Barney Stinson, How I Met Your Mother)
- Tastes great! Less filling! (Miller Lite Beer)
- Tell me what you don't like about yourself. (Dr. McNamara & Dr. Troy, Nip/Tuck)
- That's hot. (Paris Hilton, The Simple Life)
- The thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat. (Jim McKay, ABC's Wide World of Sports)
- The tribe has spoken. (Jeff Probst, Survivor)
- The truth is out there. (Fox Mulder, The X-Files)
- This is the city... (Sgt. Joe Friday, Dragnet)
- Time to make the donuts. (Dunkin' Donuts)
- Two thumbs up! (Siskel & Ebert / Ebert & Roeper)
- Up your nose with a rubber hose. (Vinnie Barbarino, Welcome Back, Kotter)
- We are two wild and crazy guys! (Steve Martin and Dan Aykroyd, Saturday Night Live)
- Welcome to the O.C., bitch. (Luke, The O.C.)
- Well, isn't that special? (Dana Carvey as The Church Lady, Saturday Night Live)
- We've got a really big show! (Ed Sullivan, The Ed Sullivan Show)
- Whassup? (Budweiser)
- What you see is what you get! (Geraldine, The Flip Wilson Show)
- Whatchoo talkin' 'bout, Willis? (Arnold Drummond, Diff'rent Strokes)
- Where's the beef? (Wendy's)
- Who loves you, baby? (Kojak, Kojak)
- Would you believe? (Maxwell Smart, Get Smart)
- Yabba dabba do! (Fred Flintstone, The Flintstones)
- Yada, yada, yada... (Seinfeld)
- Yeah, that's the ticket. (Jon Lovitz, Saturday Night Live)
- You eeeediot! (Ren, Ren & Stimpy)
- You look mahvelous! (Billy Crystal as Fernando, Saturday Night Live)
- You rang? (Lurch, The Addams Family)
- You're fired! (Donald Trump, The Apprentice)
- You've got spunk... (Mr. Grant, Mary Tyler Moore)

    Canadian Blog Awards Don't forget to vote Popped Culture
    for Best Entertainment Blog.
    C'mon, you know you wanna.

    Where There's Not a Lot Goin' On

    It may seem that that Iraq is spiraling into civil war, with an increasing death toll and factions fighting each other in the streets. But democracy is breaking out all over – you can tell because Iraqis can now watch Canadian TV!

    One of our most popular homegrown shows, Corner Gas, is now being broadcast in Iraq, along with 25 other nations worldwide. It’s great to see the genial comedy, which is often described as Seinfeld on the Prairies, get international recognition – especially in the U.S. where we have a definite cultural trade deficit.

    But I keep wondering about Iraq. I honestly didn’t even know many people had enough electricity to run a TV, let alone spend some of that time watching the exploits of small town Saskatchewan folks. Perhaps, in an effort to bridge what I can only imagine is a cavernous cultural gap, Brett Butt and the gang will relocate to Baghdad for a few episodes…
    Hank: Uh, I just tripped an IED and blew up The Ruby again.

    Brett: IED, IED, IED. That’s fun to say.

    Oscar: You’re both jackasses!
    OK, maybe that’s not as good of an idea as it seemed. Best of luck to the denizens of Dog River, it’s nice to see some good news about Canadian TV once and awhile. And to CTV, don’t rest on your laurels. You’ve proved you can recognize and nurture a hit show – now do it again.

    Canadian Blog Awards Don't forget to vote Popped Culture
    for Best Entertainment Blog.
    C'mon, you know you wanna.

    These Pretzels Are Making Me Racist

    The Michael “Kramer” Richards apology tour is so transparent it’s painful to watch – yet I cannot look away. Today the disgraced “funny man” appeared on Rev. Jesse Jackson’s radio show to do his mea culpa shuck and jive, which would be OK if it wasn’t so contrived. Last Wednesday he hired publicist Howard Rubenstein, who reportedly has strong ties to the black community. His first order of business? Setting up a call to Jackson.

    What’s making this so galling is how obvious it is that Richards is being told how to limit the damage of his comedy lynching of two hecklers. It’s like a little kid apologizing because he’s being forced to, not because he feels sorry. Why Jackson agreed to be Cosmo’s beard is a mystery. Richards’ puppet master also announced that the so-called comedian has begun psychiatric counselling for anger management – it’s not quite rehab, but it’s close.

    In another “everybody does it” excuse Richards claimed the racial epithet he spewed during his act is used frequently in the entertainment industry. “I fear that young whites will think it's cool to go around and use that word because they see very cool people in show business using that word so freely.” Oh yeah, teenagers will be swearing like Richards because he’s so very hip. I still have my bets that the tour will make a stop at Oprah’s this week.

    Speaking of comeback attempt tours, Britney Spears is trying hard to shed her mom of two image and she’s dancing like she’s never danced before. More to the point she’s been partying all weekend with Paris Hilton, sans underwear.

    Taking a page from the world’s most famous heir-head, the newly single Spears flashed a throng of paparazzi, showing her thong-less self to the flashbulbs. At least she didn’t have one of her kids with her, so no need to apologize.

    Canadian Blog Awards Don't forget to vote Popped Culture
    for Best Entertainment Blog.
    C'mon, you know you wanna.

    Best in Show

    The results are in and Popped Culture is moving on to Round Two of the Canadian Blog Awards! Many thanks to my tens of fans, random strangers and friends whose arms I twisted to vote. Your dedication has me listed in third for the Best Entertainment Blog with the second round of voting beginning on Saturday. Come on, you’ve gotta vote if you want a piece of the huge endorsement deals that I’m sure will follow my win.

    Well democracy in action took out my good friends at Nik at Night, Scandal Sheet and Menard Communications, a couple of others are joining me in Round Two, namely:

    Best Activities Blog: My Dinner Table
    Best Sci/Tech Blog: Amber Mac

    Share the love, people.

    Lindsay Fully Loaded

    Lindsay Lohan may soon be one of the most remembered actors of her generation and not for her role in Bobby or any of the other projects she has lined up. The National Enquirer is reporting that Lohan overdosed on a deadly cocktail of cocaine and painkillers earlier this month and had to be revived by a doctor. The doctor then flushed the cocaine and bagged seven different prescription drugs, telling the star she needed to go to a hospital and rehab. She did neither.

    Becoming a serious actor and being lauded for your performances is one way to Hollywood immortality. The other is to die young and pretty, a la Marilyn Monroe. Though maybe she’s just a wealthy, famous 20-year-old who’s having a little fun. You know, a shining example for your little girl (or boy, who am I to gender stereotype?) But she’s not trying to be a role model, right? Well, then maybe her people should reconsider the My Scene Goes Hollywood: Lindsay Lohan and Limo doll set, which is described thusly:

    “A great gift for ages 6-12 Years. The doll captures the likeness of Lindsay Lohan, and the fun trendy outfit expresses Lindsay's fashion-forward sense of style. The My Scene Lindsay Lohan doll is ready to hit the red carpet with a full movie premiere outfit, faux fur-trimmed coat, director's chair, velvet-style rope and lots of fun movie-themed accessories. Movie stars always arrive in style, and this luxurious SUV party limo is decked out with glitz and glam from door to door, including working lights, a beverage bar, fancy seats and a real hot tub.”

    Ah yes, every little kid needs an SUV with a bar in it. At least it is realistic and you can slam it into Barbie’s camper, much like the real Lindsay does. Personally, I’m hoping for a Peter Doherty doll with Real Shooting Up Action for Christmas. (And thanks to Bulletproof Bracelets, where I first came across this wonderful toy.)

    What, Can't You Take a Joke?

    No rehab yet for Michael Richards, but he is moving along with a textbook example of crisis management as he tries to salvage his career from his most famous appearances in years – a rage-infused, racist rant at a comedy club. KKKramer has hired a high-powered publicist who has got him putting calls into Reverends Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. If he isn’t on Oprah by the end of next week I will be shocked.

    But is it too late? He is now everyone’s punching bag and an instant punch line for every other comedian. The NAACP, for one, isn’t buying his contrition, saying it "is indicative of the type of denial that too often accompanies racist rhetoric." There is also confirmation that he shouted out anti-Semitic remarks during another standup comedy routine in April. Just role-playing, says Howard Rubenstein, Richards apologist-for-hire.

    The guys he heckled don’t accept his apology either and have hired a lawyer and Oscar-winner Jamie Foxx wants to lay a beating on him If that wasn’t enough, the t-shirt companies (who print at the speed of light) are weighing in with their opinion as well, further imbedding his new image deep into pop culture. It’s not looking good, Cosmo.

    Celebrity See, Celebrity Do

    Hang him upside down and stick a fork in him, Michael Richards career is done. Already fading away, the former K-K-Kramer decided to give his career a poorly thought out publicity boost, Mel Gibson style.

    During a failed piece of standup last Friday, Richards was taunted about his lack of comedy skill, and he decided to prove the heckler right by launching into a racial epithet-laden rage that cleared the room. Richards, who is Exhibit One of The Seinfeld Curse, has already begun the de rigueur rounds of celebrity apologies – most likely because his What’s the Deal With N-----s? routine was posted in all its bigoted glory on the gossip site TMZ.

    Appearing last night on the Late Show with David Letterman during a segment with Jerry Seinfeld, Richards said he was sorry and that he was not a racist. If that doesn’t take, expect to see him check in to rehab in the next week for drugs/alcohol/exhaustion or a tearful admission to Oprah about being abused as a child. As Cosmo’s former lawyer Jackie Chiles would have said: “It's outrageous, egregious, preposterous.”

    In other news, it appears Fox has finally found something that even they find unpalatable. The usually, umm, cutthroat Rupert Murdoch has put the kibosh on O.J. Simpsons “fictional” confession If I Did It, Here's How It Happened. Seems the tycoon came to the realization that an interview and book of Simpson graphically describing how he would have carried out the 1994 murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman, stating that it “was an ill-considered project.” Gee, ya think? Anyway, I’m glad to see them come to their senses and I just hope it isn’t all being saved for MySpace.

    Blame Canada!

    Oh my God! They killed Squiddy! You bastards! To draw attention to Canada’s opposition to a ban on bottom trawling fishing, Greenpeace has turned to a group of foul-mouthed fifth graders – Stan, Kyle, Kenny and Cartman.

    An animated short featuring ocean creatures that look and sound similar to, but not exactly like, the denizens of South Park has hit the web, calling attention to Canada’s role in helping to destroy the sea floor. Bottom trawling destroys marine habitats as the heavy nets drag along the ocean floor, gathering everything in their wake.

    Canada is opposing a ban on the controversial fishing practice on the pretext that it is unenforceable, but this is yet another example of Stephen Harper’s Conservative government turning its back on the international community.

    It’s interesting to see Greenpeace turn to the pop culture side to get the message out. It’s a bit rough-edged, but I and many others know now about the current U.N. fisheries talks and my government’s “screw you guys, I’m going home,” attitude. Mmmm hmmm.

    Canadian Blog Awards Don't forget to vote Popped Culture
    for Best Entertainment Blog.
    C'mon, you know you wanna.

    Nobody Does It Better

    James Bond is dead. Long live the new James Bond. After a couple of years of waiting (and gnashing of teeth by some petulant, stuck-in the-past fans), Daniel Craig, the new face of 007 has made it to the big screen and truly brought the legendary franchise into the 21st century, by stripping him down to the basics in order to rebuild him.

    When Pierce Brosnan was unceremoniously dumped as the world’s most famous spy, I was not happy. Brosnan hewed most closely to the Bond I was introduced to – early ‘70s Roger Moore, and managed the role with more swagger and fewer quips. But once he was gone the realization set in that the franchise had, despite raking in record box office takes, had lost its already tenuous grip on reality. The stories and villains had spiraled out of control, as has the gadgets and miraculous escapes. While these were the essential elements of every Bond movie I had grown up with, the films now bore more of a resemblance to Goldmember than Goldfinger.

    The release of The Bourne Identity in the same year as Die Another Day set the bar higher for any spy film that was to follow. Compared to Matt Damon’s Jason Bourne, Commander Bond looked soft and effete. Bourne could beat someone half to death with a rolled up magazine, while Bond was rolling about in an invisible car. It was hard not acknowledge that the torch had been passed.

    That didn’t mean that it was time for James to slip quietly into the night though, and the producers recognized it. They returned to 007 creator Ian Fleming’s first novel, Casino Royale, and hired a relatively unknown actor for the role, eschewing the A-listers circling the part. And the results are a fantastic success. Craig plays a much harder Bond, disassociating himself from what he does with arrogance instead of smarmy one-liners. He’s rough around the edges and less than infallible. He makes mistakes and is more than willing to get his hands dirty – dispatching bad guys up close and bloodily personal. Craig comes across as leaner, meaner and far more believable because of it.

    The film even deals with one of the most improbable aspects of a secret agent – the fact that he tells everyone his name. It is one of many nods to the character’s long lineage, from the vodka martini to the Aston Martin and a reinterpretation of a famous scene from Dr. No. This Bond film hasn’t forgotten where it came from, but nor is it tied down by history – jettisoning Q, gadgets and Miss Moneypenny, at least for now. The critics that were up in arms with the choice of Craig as the new face of 007 have been silenced.

    Canadian Blog Awards Don't forget to vote Popped Culture
    for Best Entertainment Blog.
    C'mon, you know you wanna.

    Me and the Boys

    My name is Bond. James Bond. That line always gives me a thrill. The first 007 I ever saw on the big screen was Moonraker – at a dive-in with my 17-year-old aunt who was supposed to take me to something far more age appropriate. In retrospect, it was hardly the best introduction to the franchise, but outer space and a huge, metal-mouthed villain named Jaws and I was in a 9-year-old’s idea of heaven.

    Over the next few years I saw Bond films mostly on TV and mainly starring Roger Moore. For the longest time I thought he was the only actor to have ever portrayed the suave secret agent. As a kid, my favourite was Live and Let Die, featuring the fat southern sheriff, J. W. Pepper. Thinking about it now, that might have been because I also loved The Dukes of Hazzard (Boss Hogg) and Smokey and the Bandit (Sheriff Buford T. Justice). It wasn’t until years later that I heard of the word blaxploitation and saw how campy and full of ‘70s kitsch the film was.

    Eventually I was introduced to oeuvre of Sean Connery – he was a harder man, more willing to lay a beating on anyone, including woman. Such was the time I suppose. Still I found myself drawn to Diamonds are Forever, one of his last runs at the character. Nowadays I give high praise to From Russia With Love and Goldfinger, which are the true origins of the Bond and Austin Powers film franchises. It was those movies that introduced gadgets to 007, including the Aston Martin and gadget man Q.

    At the end of Grade 9, my graduation gift was a movie – and I chose to go and see The Living Daylights. It was Moore’s last portrayal of the role of Commander Bond and he had become increasingly creaky. The film itself was a pastiche of ‘80s pop culture, with a Duran Duran theme song, a villain played by Christopher Walken and Grace Jones as a Bond girl May Day. Again, not much of a film to speak of.

    When Moore retired (and it was about time) the producers installed Timothy Dalton, whose characterization in The Living Daylights was darker and more serious than the light-hearted jokiness of Moore’s performance. I wasn’t a fan, which is ironic as that’s what I’ve been hoping for in the new Bond.

    When Dalton was replaced after two films with Pierce Brosnan (who I had enjoyed in Remington Steele), it was like a return to a young Roger Moore. I liked what he brought to the role, but by the end of his run it was the stories that had gotten out of control. Invisible cars and a diamond-encrusted villain were too much and even showing Bond being held prisoner and tortured didn’t do enough to ground the spy in reality.

    So tomorrow we are going to go and see Casino Royale (and our first time away from Tristan) and I’ll get a look at the new face of Bond. Can Daniel Craig take 007 into the new century or is he a spy out of time? I’ll find out soon.

    Canadian Blog Awards Don't forget to vote Popped Culture
    for Best Entertainment Blog.
    C'mon, you know you wanna.

    Naked Gun 44 1/4 - Nordberg gets The Chair

    O.J. Simpson is no longer looking for the real killer, having come to the same conclusion we have all come to – he did it. Of course seeing as he has been found not guilty of murder, the former actor (and football player, so I’m told) has had to find another way to confess.

    In If I Did It, Here's How It Happened, O.J. “tells for the first time how he would have committed the murders if he were the one responsible for the crimes," said a statement from Fox, describing an interview with The Juice at the end of the month. The book will be followed by the publication of a similarly titled book, proving conclusively there is no such thing as bad publicity.

    I’m not easily shocked, but this is just twisted. If, as he has so often claimed, he is innocent, why would he possible want to imagine himself as the killer? If he did kill his ex-wife Nicole Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman (but the glove didn’t fit!) than this a disturbingly cynical attempt to profit from a crime. Back off O.J., that’s Hollywood’s job.

    I suppose that I shouldn’t be surprised that someone is willing to publish and air this nonsense, but I suppose there’s a buck to be made. Next up on Fox – When Killers Attack! followed by World’s Slowest Police Chases.

    Canadian Blog Awards Don't forget to vote Popped Culture
    for Best Entertainment Blog.
    C'mon, you know you wanna.

    You Like Me, You Really Like Me!

    I’d like to thank my agent, my lawyers, God (in that order), and all the little people who helped me get where I am today. Oh, I told myself I wouldn’t cry. Hey, don’t play me off!

    Ok, that may be a touch premature, but I have been nominated for Best Entertainment Blog over at the Canadian Blog Awards. What fun! I of course only got into this blogging thing to feed my raging ego and to accumulate wealth, fame and everything else that comes with getting millions of hits a day. Ask me how that’s working out…

    Nonetheless, I do appreciate the nod and glad that someone out there likes what I do. If anything it means I will be exposed to a few new good blogs that I’ve never seen before. If you feel like voting for me (oh yeah, I forgot to mention that part) I won’t say no, but don’t feel obligated or anything. Ok, I'm begging.

    There are also a few of my friends nominated, so check them out as they are all worth reading (and voting for):
    • Scandal Sheet – The nastiest celeb gossip wrap-up around. Wonderfully catty.
    • Nik at Nite – Pop culture insight, bar none. Better than Lost itself.
    • My Dinner Table – The mouthwatering site of a dedicated foodie, from gourmet to street meat.
    • Menard Communications – Opinionated, mouthy, sarcastic and idealistic all at the same time.
    • Amber Mac – The Geek Goddess, the Queen of Web 2.0.


    We interrupt this Bond Week marathon (cough, cough) with this breaking news from two days ago (gimme a break, I have a newborn): The Simpsons Movie Trailer – in Glorious 2-D! – has been released.

    Ok, it’s not so much a trailer as a teaser, but hey, who am I to argue with their nomenclature? You can watch a huge version of it over at Apple or, like most things these days, the YouTube version. (Update: Seems YouTube is trying to purge the trailer off their site, on the behest of Twentieth Century Fox. Yeah, take that fans providing free viral advertising! What were you thinking?)

    It has a very Wile E. Coyote feel to it, which is appropriate after Sunday’s homage to classic Warner Bros. animation. Many might have seen the trailer in Sunday during the episode, but not us Canadians. Due to the wonders of simulcasting, we were treated to a Tim Hortons or Leons commercial instead. But whatever, that’s what the interweb is for.

    There wasn’t anything about what the movie is going to be about, but it hardly seems to matter. Which is why I’m not really looking forward to it. The Simpsons have been on the plains of Africa, been to outer space as well as heaven and hell. What more can they do in a feature length film and a larger budget that they can’t already do during a regular season, beyond a long story?

    I’m a huge fan (we had a Simpsons cake at our wedding) but I’m just not excited about the movie. Maybe a when the show was a cute little toddler of four or five I would have been interested, but now that it is a full-grown adult of 18 the idea has grown a little long in the tooth.

    But who knows, perhaps it will surprise me. South Park managed to create something unique with Bigger, Longer and Uncut, so I have given up all hope. And of course this won’t be the last we hear of the movie – they are going to beat this until the old grey mare ain’t what she used to be.

    From Ian Flemming, With Love

    It’s Bond Week here at Popped Cultre. With Casino Royale and a new James Bond on the horizon, I thought it would be interesting to see where the film version of 007 originated. The franchise was in need of a revival – the stories had become bloated and Bond was out of touch with today’s world. Not to say Pierce Brosnan wasn’t doing a good job, but radical change was required.

    Back in 1962, James Bond was new to the silver screen – a character know only from the Ian Flemming novels. With the relatively unknown Sean Connery’s appearance in Dr. No, the first Bond film, many of the icons of the franchise were put into motion. We are introduced to the high-society dapper spy, who has expensive tastes and never has a hair out of place. We learn what he drinks (vodka martini, shaken not stirred), what gun he carries (the Walther PPk), meet his boss M, the flirty secretary Ms. Moneypenny, and CIA Agent Felix Leitner – all who make repeated appearances over the years.

    We also get a taste of the Bond “wit,” when a hearse full of bad guys goes off the road and explodes (natch) and 007 dryly remarks: “I think they were on their way to a funeral.” Connery, in a documentary following the film, says that kind of one-liner was introduced by the Bond series. So we now know who’s to blame.

    Dr. No also introduced the theme music, the opening sequence through the barrel of the gun and the most persistent of Bond’s enemies, SPECTRE (SPecial Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion) and their over-the-top underwater lair. Last, but not least is the ubiquitous Bond girl, taking the form of Honey Ryder, played by Ursula Andress. When she emerged out the water in a less-than-skimpy white bikini, she stepped into movie history and set the standard for all Bond girls to follow.

    Notably, the movie was gadget free – no secret spy gear, no tricked out car, no Q. It was just Bond and his Licence to Kill, which he does, remorselessly shooting an unarmed man. He was a colder character in the beginning.

    It was fascinating to watch all the pieces come together for the first time and the longevity that many of them have had. What will survive into the newest incarnation? We’ll know in a week.

    Cultural Learnings of Frat Boys

    If you’ve made an ass of yourself, don’t call more attention to it. It’s a simple lesson, but one clearly lost on a pair of frat boys who drunkenly mouthed off in a scene from Borat.

    The two idiots appear on camera, talking trash about women, Jews, how minorities in the U.S. "have all the power," and wishing they had slaves. Oops. Best to crawl under the floorboards of the frathouse and wait for a few years. But not these boys, no sir, they are suing 20th Century Fox.

    The pair were allegedly assured the faux documentary wouldn't appear in the U.S. and claim they signed the movie releases after "heavy drinking." The suit states that since the release of the film they have suffered "humiliation, mental anguish, and emotional and physical distress, loss of reputation, goodwill and standing in the community..." and are seeking unspecified damages. Note there was no denial of what they said.

    I can’t think of a better way to ensure everyone knows how ridiculous you are than suing the most popular film in North America over something you said. As for the movie itself, they couldn’t have asked for better publicity than if they had created this as part of their marketing plan. Of course that’s just me being cynical…

    Denise Richards Will Cut You

    Denise Richards, the B-actress best know for being the Charlie Sheen’s ex (and Wild Things) has added paparazzi vigilante to her oeuvre. On the Vancouver set of Blonde and Blonder (which I’m sure will garner her an Oscar nod), Richards had a run in with a pair of local photo leeches, who were watching Richards and co-star Pamela Anderson. From there the stories diverge. "I saw one of the photographers, went up to him and offered to give him a few nice shots and asked him to please leave so we can focus on our scene,” states Richards, ever so reasonably.

    Not so, claims shutterbug Rik Fedyck. “She came running up the stairs, she went at my partner first. After five minutes of calling him a cocksucker and everything else under the sun, she noticed him looking at me and said, 'Are you fucking paparazzi?’”

    At that point Fedyck decided to give a frank assessment of her life so far. “I said to her that she didn't know me but I knew her. That she was a homewrecker. I also mentioned to her that in my opinion she doesn't know how to keep her men happy.” Not surprisingly, she lost it and tossed the cameramen’s laptops off the third floor casino balcony, hitting the arms of a 90- and 81-year-old woman who were sitting in the lobby.

    Richards apologized to the women, the paparazzi and agreed to pay for the computers, avoiding any legal trouble. "It is not in the public interest to forward criminal charges regarding this matter," said an RCMP spokesman. It’s likely not in the city’s interest to charge any actor, no matter how unhinged, lest it seem like an unfavourable place to shoot. And now we’ve all heard of Blonde and Blonder – well worth a few thousand for some laptops when compared to all the free publicity. It’s all part of the wonderful mystery of filmmaking.