Unidentified Flying Objects

Our skies are not as empty as they may appear. From threadless t-shirt designer Aled Lewis.

Sideshow Bob: The Perfect Side Dish... For Revenge!

"Bart if I wanted to kill you, I'd have choked you like a chicken as soon as I walked in that door.... then what kind of guest would I have been?"

Die Bob, die: Master food carver Ken A. over at Only Knives unleashed his blades upon a poor, unsuspecting turnip and slashed it into an impressive likeness of Springfield's most-industrious attempted murderer, Sideshow Bob.

As someone who can neither cook nor carve, I'm in awe. Of course, I wouldn't eat it — turnip, yecch! But to each their own — check out the entire process.

Stamp And Deliver: Early TV Memories

You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension - a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You're moving into a land where a twentieth century technology is commemorated by a nineteenth century invention in the early years of he twenty-first century. You've just crossed over into the Twilight Zone.

The U.S. Postal Service will be releasing a 20 stamp set of Early TV Memories next year. The collection will include: Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet; Alfred Hitchcock Presents; Dinah Shore Show; Dragnet; Ed Sullivan Show; George Burns & Gracie Allen Show; Hopalong Cassidy; The Honeymooners; Howdy Doody; I Love Lucy; Kukla, Fran and Ollie; Lassie; The Lone Ranger; Perry Mason; Phil Silvers Show; Red Skelton; Texaco Star Theater; Tonight Show; Twilight Zone; and, You Bet Your Life.

Now if I could only recall what one uses a stamp for. Perhaps, looking at the way the economy is going, they should convert them to food stamps. They may get some more use that way.

Elements of Awesome

Bacon, ninjas, beer, coffee, pirates, robots, Lego, sex. Just a few of the elements that make up Dapperstache's Periodic Table of Awesoments.

It is explained thusly: In the 300 B.C., years before the birth of black Jesus, Aristole postulated that all good things were made of "win."

I could never get my head around the periodic table in school, but maybe if it had elements such as Mr. T and video games, I may have paid more attention.

100 Pop Culture Santas (Almost)

Everyone has their favourite pop culture Santa, be it the kindly old gent from Miracle on 34th Street or the irascible Billy Bob Thorton in Bad Santa. In between these two extremes are a lot of Saint Nicks, some celebrated, some rightly forgotten.

Here are 96 pop culture Santas, from Archie to Zanta — hopefully I found the one you love. Merry Christmas everyone, see you after the holidays. Ho ho ho. Click here or on the picture for a full-size version.

(Oh yes, it is 96 instead of 100 because the snazzy app that laid these pics out for me does them in lines of 8. Tell me four others you would have included.)

Survivor: Technology Edition

Survivor is my one reality show addiction — I've been watching since its inception back in 2000 and 17 seasons later I'm still hooked. It's like comfort food, you know what you're going to get.

The PVR has been a great boon in allowing me to keep up with the show — I just set it and forget it, watching when I have time. Such was the case this past weekend when the season finale of Survivor: Gabon aired on Sunday. Except it got delayed by a football game and the recording is tied to the time slot and not to the program itself (why, I have no idea), so we missed half of the show.

Sigh. OK, we figured, we'll just watch it on demand. Rogers has been promoting that, so we'll pony up the $0.99 and get our fix. Ooop, after 24 hours, its still not available.

Sigh. OK, we'll go to the Survivor site and watch a grainy, streaming video version. Oh, wait, CBS is blocking Canadians from viewing any of their videos. Fine, off to Global, Survivor's simulcasting partner in Canada. Hmm, they don't even have the episode, just a promo video.

Sigh. OK, off to Hulu, surely they will have it online. Oh, wait, it's another site that geo-blocks Canadians. What are we, terrorists? Let's work this out, networks! When you sell a show to a foreign broadcaster, don't make the online rights a separate deal — insist on bundling them together. And if you can block Canadians, surely you can tag them so you only serve up Canadian advertising.

Sigh. OK, it looks like Rogers has gotten it together add added the finale to the on demand lineup, but oh no, the service is down and it won't play.

Sigh. Finally, it plays and we watch the finale 72-hours later, which is a letdown as I'd already seen who the winner was all over the interweb about 70-hours earlier.

I'll concede that a few years ago of you missed an episode, you we're mostly out of luck unless a friend had taped and saved it, so things have improved, but it seems the networks still have a ways to go before TV is truly personal.

Transmissions From The Satellite (Radio) Heart

Often the hardest thing to do in pop culture is to keep up with music. You can always catch up with new movies and TV shows, but finding new music is tough, which is why most people tend to settle in with a particular decade, leaving new music for "the kids."

Where do you find new music, especially if you like listening to the radio? Your local radio station is terrible — Top 40 is painful to listen to, DJs are annoying, the ads endless. Even in a city like Toronto, there are many stations, but little choice. Soft rock, classic rock, dance, country, meh. Unfortunately, I still love the format, the chance of discovering a new song, or hearing a new band.

When satellite radio was introduced I was intrigued — multiple, ad-free channels in all kinds of styles. It sounded ideal, but it was pricey and you'd only have it in your car or house, neither of which was enough play time for me to justify.

So when I was approached by Matchstick to review XM satellite's XMp3 player, I jumped at the chance. Portable satellite radio seemed like the answer to a lot of my concerns. For the most part, it has been.

The unit itself is small and lightweight, just slightly larger than an iPod Nano. Its reception has been great - I've only last contact while in the grocery store and in the subway (of course), but you need to get a separate adaptor for the car, which is a pain. The upside of downtime is the record function. Anytime you're listing to a song, there is a one-click button that will record it for playback later — like a PVR for the radio. I'm already collecting a nice mix in there.

The winner for me has been the station, Sirius XMU, which I think is a shared station with the merging (but not really in Canada) XM and Sirius satellite outfits. It is described as North America's indie rock station and I've picked up a couple of artists I'd never heard before (The Asteroids Galaxy Tour, The Virgins) and some I had but had never really listened to (MGMT, LCD Soundsystem). Not too shabby for a month of sporadic usage. In fact this has mostly replaced my iPod for that time, mostly because I was hankering to hear something new. Now if they would only add CBC Radio 3 to their lineup, we'd have a winner. Of course they do have 130 other channels, so there is bound to be something for everyone. If I had a remote interest in sports this would be a gold mine, or so I gathered when I showed it to a hockey-mad friend.

Anyway, it's a fun toy, but like any tech it comes at a price. The player is going for $199 and a month's subscription is another $14.99. Not cheap, but not horrific either. Depends on how much you want it.

As this was a marketing company that approached me, they of course have a survey. Knock yourself out.

More Canadian blogger reviews:
Toronto Mike
Sens Army Blog
NASCAR Ranting and Raving Blog
Nunc Scio
Top Cheddar
if the music's loud enough
Cloud9 Sports Blog

If the Shoe-icide Bomber Fits...

Before the first shoe hit the floor, netizens began work on parodies of George W. Bush's dodging of an Iraqi journalist's footwear. The raw footage itself has been viewed millions of times on YouTube alone and on countless other news sites worldwide.

Several web-based games have already appeared, where you can either toss shoes at President Bush — who pops up and down like a Wack-A-Mole (Sock and Awe), take the role of the shoe-dodging Dubya and see how long you can avoid getting smacked in the noggin (Flying Babush), or play one of his beleaguered Secret Service detail and try and shoot the shoes before they reach their target (Bush's Boot Camp).

Would-be humorists have been hard at work mashing up the footage into their own videos, the most popular subjects being Dodgeball, the Three Stooges, the Matrix and Austin Powers — the last time anyone can recall a shoe being used as a projectile weapon.

While TV reporter Muntazer al-Zaidi has became an instant sensation in the Arab world as well, Iraqi officials have not taken the incident lightly. Zaidi appeared before a judge on Tuesday and admitted “aggression against a president”, a judicial spokesman told Agence France-Presse, and he could be facing up to 15 years in jail.
Zaidi’s brother said on Tuesday that the reporter was hit on the head with a rifle butt and had an arm broken in the chaos that broke out after he threw his shoes at Bush and was leapt on by Iraqi security officers and U.S. secret service agents.

Zaidi is in a hospital in the heavily fortified Green Zone in Baghdad, his brother Maitham al-Zaidi said.

“All that we know is we were contacted yesterday by a person — we know him — and he told us that Muntazer was taken on Sunday to Ibn-Sina hospital,” Maitham al-Zaidi said. “He was wounded in the head because he was hit by a rifle butt, and one of his arms was broken."
From National Post's Posted blog, where I got to pass this off as work today. I love my job.

Fourth Is The New First

The results are in for the Best Cultural/Entertainment Blog at the Canadian Blog Awards and I can't deny the fact that you kinda like me, right now, you kinda like me! The votes have been tallied and Popped Culture came in... fourth. Hmmm. It's like high school all over again.

What the hell, I'll take it! Thanks to those of you who voted and even those of you who meant to, but didn't. I'd say this was a ranking drop after 2006's third place finish, but I wasn't even in the race last year, so this is a vast improvement. I will leave the heavy burden of pop culture leadership on the shoulders of two-time winner Mike's Bloggity Blog.

I'd also like to thank/ask you to visit the other members of the illustrious Top Five: Department of Culture, The Nag on the Lake and The Delete Bin, which are all new blogs to me, and is kind of the point of all this anywho.

And while fourth doesn't come with a snazzy badge like the others get, I just went ahead and made my own. Thanks CBAs, see you next year!

F Is For Freeze Ray

Professor Farnsworth: "So what are you doing to protect my constitutional right to bear doomsday devices?"
NRA Guy: "Well, first off, we're gonna get rid of that three day waiting period for mad scientists."
Farnsworth: "Damn straight! Today the mad scientist can't get a doomsday device, tomorrow it's the mad grad student! Where will it end?!"
And where does it begin? It seems today that nobody is putting any thought into teaching the next generation of mad scientists and supervillains? Remember the children are our horrifying future! Thankfully Xylocopa has stepped up with a Young Mad Scientist's First Alphabet Blocks.
"We have noticed that there is absolutely no training in the K-6 grades that prepares students to become mad scientists. In this competitive 21st-century world, the need for mad scientists will only increase, but the lack of basic education in primary school leaves us concerned that there will be no future students capable of leading in this illustrious field.

"These lovely blocks contain many carefully engraved illustrations of the equipment, training, and activities that a budding mad scientist will require, combined with a clever alphabetic introduction to the concept depicted. A complete list of the images represented by the letters is as follows:
A - Appendages

B - Bioengineering

C - Caffeine

D - Dirigible

E - Experiment

F - Freeze ray

G - Goggles

H - Henchmen

I - Invention

J - Jargon

K - Potassium

L - Laser

M - Maniacal

N - Nanotechnology

O - Organs

P - Peasants (with Pitchforks)

Q - Quantum physics

R - Robot

S - Self-experimentation

T - Tentacles

U - Underground Lair

V - Virus

W - Wrench

X - X-Ray

Y - You, the Mad Scientist of Tomorrow

Z - Zombies

So won't you help and warp a young mind today?

The One Where Rachel Gets Naked

Ever seen something that was both sad and titillating at the same time? If you somehow managed to avoid the internet over the past couple of days you may have missed Jennifer Aniston baring it all on the cover of GQ.

The 39-year-old ex-Friend and ex-Mrs.-Brad-Pitt wears nothing but a tie in her latest national magazine nudie shot, the first coming 12 years ago in Rolling Stone when she was a pop culture figure of note. Back then Aniston was riding high as the It Girl of TV's hottest show. Now she's playing the mom in Marley & Me, where "a family learns important life lessons from their adorable, but naughty and neurotic dog."

Sure, she still looks great, there's no denying it, put it just reeks of desperation. In 1996 it said look at me! In 2008 it says PLEASE! Look at me — and it has nothing to do with her age. At this point in her career, is this what she wants to be know for?

Aniston got naked and ended up revealing more than she wanted to.

Joker Golden, Dark Night Not So Much

The collection of part-time journalists that make up the Hollywood Foreign Press Association announced the Golden Globe nominations today and managed to lock in Heath Ledger's Oscar hopes and skewer The Dark Knight's chances, all in one fell swoop.

The Golden Globes have an incredible amount of influence for such an otherwise unremarkable and insignificant group. Its crowning achievement is having created an award show and getting the Hollywood to buy into it as a way to market their movies. Which means what they nominate tends to carry a lot of weight with everything that follows. Or they are just a crutch for lazy/busy members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

So when Heath Ledger's darkly electric performance was nominated, posthumously, for Best Supporting Actor, it means you can check that box off on your Oscar ballot right now. It's the free box everyone gets on their bingo card. Subsequently, the Globes snubbing of The Dark Night throws some cold water on the chance of an Academy Award for the comic book adaptation. The Globes have twice as many Best Picture slots as the Oscars, and without this nod, the odds for Gotham's savior have faded. That's award season for you.

The other curiosity of this time of year is kudos being piled high upon films that nobody but select critics have seen. It rankles me about being told that the best film of the year is something that you haven't even has a chance to see. For example, The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button won't be out until Christmas Day, and it is leading the nominations.

Not that I don't want to see it, of course. It looks great, I like Brad Pitt and director David Fincher has yet to let me down. And were that not enough, there is a trailer for it that uses a perfect piece of music from Arcade Fire.

Woo Hoo! Blur Reunites

Forget Oasis, Blur ruled Britpop. While the Gallagher brothers still get the headline, their music seems stuck in time while Blur's still holds up. Seems I'm not the only one who thinks so.

"It just felt it was right again," Damon Albarn told NME about a Blur reunion. "It somehow feels like there's something for us to do again, we're not completely useless or pointless, we've got a reason to exist."

Sounds like an album could be in the works, not just a reunion tour. While technically they've really only been gone since 2003's Think Tank, I never really thought of that as a proper Blur album, making their actual last album 1999's 13. So 10 years is a long time. Anyway, here are just a few of their videos as a refresher, an introduction or just an indulgence.

Boys and Girls


Charmless Man

Country House

Song 2

Trimm Trabb - Live

Pop Culture Supreme Court: TV Judges

The Pop Culture Supreme Court is reconvening after a lengthy prorogation to deliberate on an emergency case brought forward by CBC Radio's Definitely Not the Opera. A producer on the show approached our Chief Justice, Matthew Caverhill of culture kills, with a request for a ruling on judicial reality shows.

Case: Given the fact that syndicated reality programming grossly distorts the perception the average viewer has of the law and its practice, should there be a moratorium on the use of the words Judge and/or Court in the titles of these types of programs?

There has indeed been a proliferation of shows placing small-time litigants in front of cameras and court at the same time. A quick look through IMDB shows that 11 have aired since 2000, seven of them appearing since 2006. The judges can be coarse, pompous and condescending; the defendants shallow, petty, bitter and conniving. In other words, the perfect reality-show contestants.

If viewers are coming away from these shows with a distorted view of court proceedings and how the legal system works, they are also likely to believe that they can dance, audition for a singing career and survive on an island for 39 days. Judicial reality shows should shoulder no more blame for people's legal misconceptions than Grey's Anatomy does for perceptions of medical residents or Heroes for people's opinions of gene therapy.

In any case, legal reality shows are hardly a 21st century phenomenon. TV viewers in 1949 saw both Famous Jury Trials and Your Witness, while six court shows aired between 1957-1959, including Divorce Court and People’s Court of Small Claims. What goes around, comes around, it seems. In 1981, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Joseph Wapner kick started the modern version by adjudicating actual cases in simulated courtroom settings.

In short, anyone who believes what they see in a reality-based court show might as well search out attorney Lionel Hutz at I Can't Believe It's A Law Firm before their next court date. Legal knowledge is the least of their worries. I rule against a moratorium.

Who? What? Where? When? Why? How? Seriously?

Math, diagrams and the like are hard. Humans are insanely complex. From the always entertaining indexed.

Talent Night at the Cantina

Stormtroopers performing Dueling Banjos, Luke and Leia doing a duet of I Got You Babe, Chewbacca's Hungry Like the Wolf, Han Solo as The Gambler, and a Hoth Wampa singing Ice Ice Baby.

This Star Wars fanatic's fevered dream comes from Yak Pub, a web strip (with occasional videos) created with action figures. Geek gold.

Once again my thanks to Topless Robot for turning my on to this, with this stormtrooper version of Queen's Bicycle Race, with speeder bikes, naturally.

For Your Consideration

Popped Culture has been out there delving into entertainment for years, bringing the inside story of a pop culture geek to you. In my ongoing efforts I have flown an X-Wing Fighter as a Lego Miniman:

I then traveled space and time to land in the near past to appear as Tony Manero in Saturday Night Fever:

It's the sort of thing I'm willing to do and all I ask is for you to vote for me as Best Cultural/Entertainment Blog in the Canadian Blog Awards, where I am one of five finalists.

Is it a popularity contest? Of course it is, but as a wise man once said, what's wrong with that?

Homer Simpson: JUST a popularity contest? Excuse me. What's more important than popularity?

So that's my pitch. Vote for me and I'll vote for whatever crazy thing you ask me to and should I win I will spread the vast wealth that I can only assume comes with an online, Canadian, award.

Oh yes, and go and view my full Lego Miniman history video and make your own. It's amusingly creepy.