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belly up to the pop culture buffet
a year-end roundup
by jael mchenry (@JaelMcHenry)
pop culture

In a year that brought us the iPhone, "Gimme More", and Superbad, you'd think there'd always be something popculturey to write about. And there is. The problem is, sometimes there's just not that much to say.

The iPhone is old news already. So much ink and so many electrons have already been spent on chronicling the downfall of Our Miss Spears. And Superbad? Pretty much speaks for itself. So sometimes, you just have to say a little about a lot of things instead of a lot about one thing. And when that happens, it's time for a roundup.

Sometimes our culture is an embarrassment of riches. And sometimes? Just an embarrassment.

So, I've been trying to figure out if there's any upside whatsoever to the writers' strike, if I can twist things around so it could be seen as having a positive impact. Could it make the general public appreciate writers more? Could the immediate dearth of TV programming and the dearth of decent film product in 2009 send people running to books? Alas, no. I think it's pretty much a negative no matter how you slice it. As a writer, I want this settled so other writers will get their due. As a consumer... I want my "Battlestar Galactica", dammit.

("Razor" so does not count.)

"Project Runway", which thank goodness was already in the can before the strike got going, is really hitting its stride. Interesting people, for a change. Partly about the drama, as always, but more about the competition. I don't tune in to watch sobbing. I tune in to learn something, and be entertained, and root and jeer and feel my heart beat faster on occasion, and so far, every episode has managed to deliver.

You know "The Amazing Race"? Everything I just said about "Project Runway" applies to it as well. Plus, of all the teams left, I only hate one. I can't imagine what it will be like when every team onscreen is one I don't want to see go. Of course, I still think it's hilarious to watch them fall over, crawl through mud, and make stupid decisions, so I'm pretty much seeing the Elimination Of Shouty Jerks as nothing but positive.

I was going to spend a short paragraph talking about the Kindle, but honestly, I couldn't have done as well as Sarah did, so go read her column instead. Go on, I'll wait. You're back? Okay. Seriously, I don't see how a handheld device could ever replace the book. Even if the machine does have a "dog-ear" feature. Bah.

Noted without comment: there is now a Talking Tim Gunn Bobblehead.

I've never been very OMG Adrien Brody, but he was far and away the best thing about The Darjeeling Limited, so it may be time for me to reconsider that position. The movie suffered, as all Wes Anderson movies do that are not Rushmore, from the ailment of not being Rushmore. But Brody. So good. Hated his character and yet spent all the time he wasn't on screen waiting for him to get back on screen again. I can't explain it.

Everyone I know who's seen "Pushing Daisies" adores the thing, so why can't I ever get into it? This coming from a person who never did erase the TiVo season pass to "Dirty Sexy Money", convinced that one day I'll actually watch all those back episodes. Call it a Dirty Sexy Marathon. Anyway, Daisies sounds like a fun show, I read the recaps, it sounds like a hoot, and... never do put it on my calendar. Huh.

Okay, here are the two best things on the internet right now, and then I'll leave you for the year.

Neil Patrick Harris and Jason Segel, during a "How I Met Your Mother" cast appearance on the Megan Mullally show, busting out into a full-on "Les Miserables" number. So Broadway. So good. So... random.

And: my wedding DJ's Christmas mix.

Happy holidays, and see you in the Ocho.


Jael is tired of being stereotyped as just another novelist/poet/former English teacher/tour guide/"Jeopardy!" semifinalist/bellydancing editor-in-chief with an MFA who was once an overachieving oboe-playing alto newspaper editor valedictorian from Iowa. She was also captain of the football cheerleading squad. Follow me on Twitter: @jaelmchenry

more about jael mchenry


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sarah ficke
12.5.07 @ 10:54a

That YouTube clip is awesome. I think the funniest thing about it is that they (like everyone else, really) feel compelled to sing Les Mis with that particular kind of British accent.

jason gilmore
12.5.07 @ 11:10a

see you in the Ocho

Did you make that up? And, am I the only person who didn't have a problem with The Darjeeling Limited? Seems like you feel the same way about Brody that I felt about Eric Bana in Munich.

jael mchenry
12.5.07 @ 2:02p

I adore their Uber Broadway style of singing... they really have the style down pat. Project!

The Ocho came to mind because of "Dodgeball" -- the sports network the tournament broacasts on is "ESPN8 -- The Ocho", so no, I didn't make it up, but I haven't heard anyone else apply it to 2008 yet either. Maybe it'll catch on.

Darjeeling was good -- entertaining, amusing -- I just prefer Anderson's stuff when it's more focused, so his non-Rushmore work has always felt a little scattered to me. As movies in general go, I'd definitely recommend it.

jason gilmore
12.5.07 @ 3:34p

Yeah, I'm hip to Dodgeball. I laughed for, like, 10 minutes straight when they said, "The Ocho." Great minds continue to think alike.

Apparently, these guys do too.


tracey kelley
12.5.07 @ 8:17p

Jason, I am so with you on Bana in Munich. I was...puzzled...over the hoopla.

The Tim Gunn bobblehead is a hoot.

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