Pop Culture Confessions: Books

Here’s the last of my pop culture confessions (after movies, TV, and music). Some of my reading secrets:

  1. The night before my junior year of high school, I stayed up until like 3am reading the Lovely Bones. I just couldn’t put it down. Oddly, I haven’t read the book since then.
  2. I have read and re-read these books over and over again: the Harry Potter series, the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants Series, and Summer Sisters. I think the Hunger Games trilogy will soon be added to that list.
  3. I could barely make it through book 1 of the Twilight series (and never even bothered with any of the others). I found the writing so terrible that I actually laughed out loud at a few points. Please, please don’t ever be the kind of person who compares Twilight to Harry Potter. There is no comparison.
  4. My mom and dad used to take turns reading to me at night. I especially remember reading the Goosebumps series, the American Girl books, and the Boxcar Children series.
  5. When I was forced to read Bridge to Terabithia in the 5th grade, I hated it. When I read it a few years later on my own, I loved it, and I cried.
  6. I once read the entirety of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and completed a lengthy project on it in one night. Yes, I am the ultimate procrastinator.
  7. On the AP English exam, almost none of the prompts referenced any of the books I’d read (and I read a lot of them for AP English). I ended up writing about A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (which I absolutely hated), but it must have worked because I got a 5 on the exam.
  8. The two books I cannot for the life of me finish are Great Expectations and War and Peace. I have started reading these books on multiple occasions, and have yet to make it through either. I took a Russian Lit class in college, and our professor printed off certificates and gave us Russian cookies to celebrate our “accomplishment” of reading War and Peace. Ooops.
  9. Despite my War and Peace mental block, I really love Russian literature (though I always feel pretentious saying so). One of my very favorites is Eugene Onegin.
  10. Everyone loved “An Infinite Work of Staggering Genius,” but I thought it was really pretentious. Two thumbs down.

Pop Culture Confessions: Music

I’ve already documented my movie and TV confessions. Here are 10 more, of a musical nature:

  1. I will always associate the song “Since U Been Gone” by Kelly Clarkson with summer 2005 in Florence. We used to go to a sketchy bar (La Mula!) and then at the end of the night, walk home down Via Gramsci, singing that song.
  2. John Legend’s song “PDA (We Just Don’t Care)” always makes me think of summer 2007 in DC, as does The Format’s “Snails.” I think I listened to those 2 songs more than any others that summer.
  3. In the quintessential pop culture battle of ‘N Sync versus Backstreet Boys, I was solidly on team ‘N Sync.
  4. My first concert was Amy Grant, with my mom, aunt, and cousins. I can still remember the lyrics to a ton of her songs. Yeah, that’s pretty embarrassing.
  5. When we were little, my cousin Misty and I vowed that we’d dance our father/daughter dance at our weddings to Donna Lewis’s “I Love You, Always Forever.”
  6. On the way back to Ann Arbor from my grandma’s funeral, I listened to the Beatle’s “In My Life” on my iPod, again and again and again. That song will always make me think of the Morello family.
  7. The first CD I ever bought was Ace of Base’s “The Sign.” The second was Alanis Morissete’s “Jagged Little Pill.” My dad got really angry after he heard “You Oughta Know.” I guess the f-bomb is inappropriate for a 4th grader?
  8. In 7th grade, I went to a 98 degrees concert with my friend Keri. I bought a t-shirt that had a picture of the band dressed as firemen on it (also so embarrassing). Jessica Simpson was the opening act – she wasn’t famous at that point, and we actually got her autograph.
  9. One of my favorite things to do in college was to go to concerts – I saw Jack Johnson, John Mayer, Ben Folds, Coldplay, James Blunt, Ingrid Michaelson, Guster, Gavin DeGraw, and Maroon 5. All incredible.
  10. When I was younger, I used to wake up every Saturday morning to the sound of my dad vacuuming while singing various songs at the top of his lungs – think the Carpenters, Phantom of the Opera, etc. It drove me crazy at the time but now is one of my favorite memories.

Pop Culture Confessions: TV

Following up on my movie confessions, here’s another set of ten, this time related to television:

  1. I pretend the two Sex and the City movies don’t exist. The last episode was basically perfect. The movies ruined it. Therefore, they are not real.
  2. I believe any situation in life can be related to an episode of Friends. I have scientifically proven this many times over the years. Doing laundry? Better use UberWeiss! Are two people meant to be? That’s because he’s her lobster! Lost while sightseeing? Time to get in the map!
  3. I loved Dawson’s Creek in middle school. I recently watched a few season one episodes and was floored by how awkward the acting was and how forced the dialogue sounded. Perspective.
  4. I know this is a popularly-held opinion, but I think Jim Halpert is pretty much the perfect man.
  5. In the 4th grade, my friends and I used to discuss Melrose Place with our teacher. I’m almost certain this was inappropriate.
  6. For my best friend’s last birthday, I bought her the 2 biggest wine glasses I could find, labeled them “Big Joe” and “Big Carl,” and gave them to her along with the Cougar Town season 1 DVD.
  7. One Halloween, my dad dressed up as Wilson from Home Improvement – he built a miniature fence and strapped it to himself. I still think of this as the most creative Halloween costume I’ve ever seen.
  8. Sometimes when I’m home alone, I feel a strong urge to blare the song “Mama’s Coming Out,” drink wine, and stumble around my apartment a la Lucille Bluth. Not that I’ve ever actually done this…
  9. Remember when Grey’s Anatomy used to be a great show? During the Super Bowl episode where a man has a bomb inside of him, my roommate literally shrieked on multiple occasions because the tension was just too much for her. This was sophomore year and we were living in the West Quad dorms – needless to say, I was a little embarrassed.
  10. In high school, my friends and I used to get together on Sunday nights and watch Alias. We were all obsessed with it and we all had our own theories/predictions about what was going on. That show was SO good circa seasons 1 and 2. After that, it pretty much went downhill.

In Which I Make an Embarrassing Confession

By far, the guiltiest of my guilty pleasures is Dancing with the Stars. So deep is my shame that I never discuss the show with anyone except my mom. Well, my mom and the entire internet.

But yeah. It’s completely ridiculous, cheesy, over-the-top, outrageous, and pretty much any other outlandish adjective you can think of. And yet, I find it oddly mesmerizing. Sometimes I avert my eyes or mute the television because people are embarrassing themselves so profoundly, but…I always come back for more. Because, let’s be honest – in spite of all this (or perhaps because of it), I do love this show.

One of the best parts of the whole DWTS spectacle is watching with others/making and reading snarky comments. Yes, I am a faithful reader of Entertainment Weekly’s recaps (and of their Hidden Gems column! If you don’t know what I’m talking about here, get on it. You won’t regret it. Well, maybe you will). And, many weeks, my mom and I text each other with our observations during the show. Our opinions almost never coincide but, truth be told, sometimes I am just argumentative for the sake of it.

And, in case you’re curious, my random thoughts on this season:

  • Carson Kressley is a terrible dancer but, hands down, the most entertaining thing on any episode.
  • Nancy Grace is less of a trainwreck than I expected. And her partner has a hot Irish accent, which I think is a strong enough reason to keep her around for awhile.
  • Elisabetta and Val’s partnership makes me feel awkward and I want them to leave, like, yesterday.
  • I thought Hope Solo was going to be amazing, and I want Maks to finally win this damn thing. But their partnership is not living up to my expectations.
  • I want to hate Kristin Cavallari on principle, but last night I (gasp) enjoyed her quickstep. Now I am in an emotional tailspin. I don’t even know myself anymore.
  • I often think the show would be better off without judges. Bruno is flat-out ridiculous and acts over-the-top just for the sake of it. And every time Carrie Ann cries, I want to face punch her. Len is the only one of them who (generally) makes intelligent and comprehensible comments, but I could even do without him.
  • Brooke Burke is one of the most unintentionally hilarious people on television. I love how she reads every sentence with the same basic monotone, no matter the content. For example, who else could say, “Last week, we lost Metta World Peace” with complete, total, 100% seriousness? Girl didn’t even giggle a little bit.

Things That Are Awesome, Vol. 3

(image via the New Yorker)

This week’s compendium of awesome finds:

  1. A trailer for the new Muppets movie, spoofing the trailer for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. So much love for this.
  2. This tennis cartoon from the New Yorker. My heart belongs to Rafa, but I suppose I can throw Roger some love too.
  3. Another tennis thing: I had forgotten about this moment from last year’s US Open. Rafa continues to be a shining beacon of awesomeness.
  4. Oh, and one more tennis-related item (yes, I am obsessed). Rafa’s new Armani campaign pictures: uno and dos. Whoa my god.
  5. No Thai!’s Chicken Pad Thai. I love Pad Thai, and this is one of the best I’ve ever had. And, p.s., I didn’t put that exclamation point in there to be precious; that’s really the name of the restaurant.
  6. The trailer for The Swell Season looks really excellent. I also don’t want to believe they broke up in real life because that would be too sad.
  7. I thought the Emmys were pretty “meh,” but Jane Lynch nailed it with this joke: “A lot of people are very curious why I’m a lesbian … Ladies and gentleman, the cast of Entourage.” Hilarious.
  8. This picture amuses me to no end. Awkward city.
  9. The Oatmeal always make me laugh. This one is my most recent favorite because people (literally) abuse that word all the time. And, yes, that includes me sometimes, when I don’t catch myself. Also, the end of the comic is brilliant. Gayroller!
  10. Haiku Case Briefs. Three weeks into law school and I’m already becoming highly susceptible to legal humor. I especially enjoyed this one as I read the case this week.

Looking for more awesome things? Try these: Vol. 1, Vol. 2

Catching up with the Classics: The Sound of Music

Nearly every Easter, I have a tradition: I watch about an hour of the Ten Commandments, and then fall asleep/get bored/stop watching the subsequent two hours. I’ve seen Moses float down the river in a basket, the plagues, the burning bush, and the parting of the sea tons of times. But everything that comes after those parts? Not so much.

It occurred to me recently that I have the same problem with the Sound of Music. When I actually thought about it, I realized I couldn’t remember ever sitting down and watching the entire movie, start to finish. I know I’ve seen the beginning parts a ton of times, and I vaguely remember watching them escape the Nazis once or twice, but I don’t remember anything in the middle.

Because I recently visited Salzburg, this seemed like a travesty. I rectified this situation before I left for law school, and watched the movie with my family. Here are my thoughts:

  • I love, LOVE, love this movie. It is one of those movies that just makes you happy. The music and the storyline and the joy.
  • Christopher Plummer was sexy back in the day. This is very akin to my Al Pacino in the Godfather revelation.
  • My family and I found so much unintentional humor in the character of Gretl. If you pay attention, so often she’s just giving a blank stare or appearing confused. Oh, poor little Gretl.
  • This will sound obvious, but, seriously, is there a movie with better music? Every song is so catchy and so fun. Did my family kind of sing along at some parts? Well, that would be too embarrassing a question to answer.
  • I am sorry, but if you can watch the scenes where Captain Von Trapp reacts to his children singing without tearing up, you’re made of stone. So beautiful.

My grade: A+

Emmys 2011: Wishes + Gripes

I love award shows. I love the red carpet fashion and the cheesy acceptance speeches and the video montages. But perhaps most of all, I love analyzing the nominees and bitching about my favorites who weren’t nominated. So, with the Emmys airing tonight, what better time to do just that? Here’s my take on the ten major categories (and, no, all that miniseries crap does not count).

Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

  • Jane Lynch – Glee
  • Betty White – Hot in Cleveland
  • Julie Bowen – Modern Family
  • Kristen Wiig – Saturday Night Live
  • Jane Krakowski – 30 Rock
  • Sofia Vergara – Modern Family
  • Who Should Win: In an almost neck and neck race with Julie Bowen, I’d give it to Sofia Vergara, who could win this award almost on the strength of her accent alone. Please, please don’t let Betty White win. I mean, yes, I get it, everyone loves Betty White. That doesn’t mean we have to nominate her for starring in a mediocre show on TV Land.
  • Who Should’ve Been Nominated: Busy Phillips from Cougar Town. She is completely, wonderfully over the top and makes me laugh every single week. Sample quip: “I used to watch Jeopardy! every day because I had a major lady rod for Alex Trebek. Till I found out he was Canadian. Gross.”

Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

  • Jon Cryer – Two and a Half Men
  • Chris Colfer – Glee
  • Jesse Tyler Ferguson – Modern Family
  • Ed O’Neill – Modern Family
  • Eric Stonestreet – Modern Family
  • Ty Burrell – Modern Family
  • Who Should Win: Can we have a four way tie between the Modern Family guys? If not, I’d give it to Ty Burrell. I love how clueless but super lovable he makes Phil.
  • Who Should’ve Been Nominated: No contest – the biggest snub in ANY category is Nick Offerman from Parks and Rec. Seriously, Ron Swanson is unbeatable. So many great moments – his cornrows, pulling out his own tooth, getting his eyebrows burned off, his pyramid of greatness, his plain and simple hamburger making skills. How is he not nominated? Also, I give an honorable mention to Aziz Ansari, who is fantastic. I have replayed the scene where he talks about food abbreviations countless times (chicky chicky parm parm, future birds, food rakes, long ass rice, apps and zerts. Pure comedy gold).

Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

  • Laura Linney – The Big C
  • Edie Falco – Nurse Jackie
  • Amy Poehler – Parks and Recreation
  • Melissa McCarthy – Mike & Molly
  • Martha Plimpton – Raising Hope
  • Tina Fey – 30 Rock
  • Who Should Win: Amy Poehler, fo sho. Basically, I want Leslie Knope to succeed in every one of her crazy ventures because Poehler makes her so dorkily lovable and relateable. And here’s a plea for Tina Fey not to win for the 547th time. Seriously, we’re over it.
  • Who Should’ve Been Nominated: Courtney Cox, at long last. Never nominated for Friends, and now never nominated for Cougar Town. It’s a travesty, and Jules Cobb can only cope by curling up in her blumfy with a gigantic glass of wine from Big Carl.

Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

  • Matt LeBlanc – Episodes
  • Jim Parsons – The Big Bang Theory
  • Steve Carell – The Office
  • Johnny Galecki – The Big Bang Theory
  • Louis CK – Louie
  • Alec Baldwin – 30 Rock
  • Who Should Win: If I had seen Episodes, I have a suspicion Matt LeBlanc would’ve gotten my nod. But since I haven’t, I’ll have to go with Steve Carrell. I’m glad Michael Scott got his happy ending, and Steve Carrell should get one too.
  • Who Should’ve Been Nominated: I’m not sure if he submitted himself for Lead Actor or Supporting, but I’d go with John Krasinski. How has he never been nominated? Yeah, the Office’s glory days are far behind it, but Jim Halpert is always wonderful.

Comedy Series

  • Glee
  • Parks and Recreation
  • The Office
  • Modern Family
  • 30 Rock
  • The Big Bang Theory
  • Who Should Win: I am completely torn between Parks and Rec and Modern Family. I say the Emmys spread the love around a bit and give it to Parks and Rec this year. The Modern Family ensemble always gets major props, but I think the Parks and Rec cast is equally outstanding.
  • Who Should’ve Been Nominated: At this point, this will come as no surprise – Cougar Town! This show is completely underrated – I only know like 2 people who watch it, which is a shame because it’s consistently hilarious. I aspire to this life one day – never working, and sitting around all day with friends to talk, play stupid games, and drink liberal amounts of wine. Penny can!!!

Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

  • Kelly Macdonald – Boardwalk Empire
  • Christina Hendricks – Mad Men
  • Michelle Forbes – The Killing
  • Archie Panjabi – The Good Wife
  • Margo Martindale – Justified
  • Christine Baranski – The Good Wife
  • Who Should Win: I don’t regularly watch any of these shows, so it’s a toss up for me. I’d probably give it to Christina Hendricks because, even though I really dislike Mad Men, she’s one of the more entertaining parts of it.
  • Who Should’ve Been Nominated: Yeah, she’s at least half the age of every nominee, but she kicks way more ass – Maisie Williams from Game of Thrones. I can’t believe more actors from this show weren’t nominated!

Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

the tudors

  • John Slattery – Mad Men
  • Andre Braugher – Men of a Certain Age
  • Walton Goggins – Justified
  • Peter Dinklage – Game of Thrones
  • Josh Charles – The Good Wife
  • Alan Cumming – The Good Wife
  • Who Should Win: No doubt – Peter Dinklage. Tyrion is such an awesome character in the novels – and Dinklage brings him to life perfectly.
  • Who Should’ve Been Nominated: I love me some Henry Cavill in the Tudors. I know this show is kind of over the top and historically inaccurate, but I wish it would’ve gotten a smidgen more Emmy love. Especially for Henry Cavill. So fantastic. And beautiful.

Lead Actress in a Drama Series

  • Elisabeth Moss – Mad Men
  • Connie Britton – Friday Night Lights
  • Mariska Hargitay – Law & Order: SVU
  • Mireille Enos – The Killing
  • Julianna Margulies – The Good Wife
  • Kathy Bates – Harry’s Law
  • Who Should Win: Connie Britton, all the way. She makes Tammy no nonsense, wise, and humorous. Plus, she says “hey y’all” better than anyone else, ever.
  • Who Should’ve Been Nominated: I think this category is pretty complete, and I don’t watch any of the shows that might have yielded a potential snub (e.g. January Jones in Mad Men, Anna Paquin in True Blood, etc). All that leaves me is Game of Throne’s Lena Headey. So awesome at being oh so evil.

Lead Actor in a Drama Series

  • Steve Buscemi – Boardwalk Empire
  • Michael C. Hall – Dexter
  • Kyle Chandler – Friday Night Lights
  • Jon Hamm – Mad Men
  • Hugh Laurie – House
  • Timothy Olyphant – Justified
  • Who Should Win: Please, please, please let Kyle Chandler win. Coach Taylor is second to none, and I love how Chandler injects a really dry sense of humor to the character. Plus, you know, clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.
  • Who Should’ve Been Nominated: How about Nathan Fillion? I know Castle is kind of a dramedy, but I think it goes in this category. Fillion is such a good actor. Plus, anyone who got their start as Joey Buchanan gets a couple points in my book.

Drama Series

  • Boardwalk Empire
  • The Good Wife
  • Mad Men
  • Friday Night Lights
  • Dexter
  • Game of Thrones
  • Who Should Win: I will admit that I don’t watch nearly as much dramatic television as I do comedic, so perhaps it’s a bit unfair of me to judge this one. But, I’ll do it anyway since this is my blog. Game of Thrones trumps them all, hands down.
  • Who Should’ve Been Nominated: I think this list is pretty solid. The only drama I watch that isn’t on the list is Blue Bloods, so I’ll go with that one (even though it’s not really Emmy-worthy).