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Avada Whateva

July 13, 2011

I think I may be about to commit pop culture heresy.

I couldn’t care less about the final installment of the Harry Potter cinematic saga.

 Okay, so now that you, gentle muggle reader, have found another computer on which to read this article after destroying your previous monitor in a fit of outraged disbelief, please take a moment to let me explain why I have only a threadbare interest in the final (?) installment – and, despite my ambivalence, why I’ll still end up at the cinema, watching it unfold.  Read more…


That’s Kinda My Gimmick: “Community” and Pop Culture References

July 10, 2011

I recently discovered Community.  Featuring a diverse crowd of misfits in a Spanish study group at a community college, the show has quickly become one of my favourite sitcoms for its razor wit and its hilarious cast of characters.  But the show is perhaps known more for its endemic references to popular culture.  And it’s true: every episode of the show is littered with name-drops, allusions and parodies.  But uniquely, I’ve yet to find any reference that seemed out-of-place, jarring, or exclusive.  Even though several comments that are clearly references to some entity of entertainment have flown over my head, they have never made me feel like I’m missing the joke, even though I certainly am.  Why might this be?

Pens and pencils ready, class.  There may be a twenty-page paper, in Espanol, due on Monday.  Read more…

Setting the Right Tone…

July 4, 2011

So I’d heard quite a few good things about the television series Fringe.  The consensus seemed to be that it may have started off with a rocky first season that tried to balance an episodic procedural crime show with a satisfying overarching narrative arc, all overshadowed by wacky paranormal science fiction, but over time it only got better and better.

So I decided to check it out, and was happy to find it on rental at my local video store.  I put down my pocket-money and borrowed it, and was quickly drawn into the eerie and surprisingly complex world of the FBI fringe science division, full of science gone wrong, secretive organisations, psychoactive drugs, otherworldly observers, eating licorice at the morgue and forbiding patterns foreshadowing a grim future and an alternate world.

But the inside of the DVD case didn’t exactly… uh… set the right tone.

So maybe Hannah Montana is actually part of the first wave of evil from that parallel universe.  She does change her physical appearances after all…  😮

Watch This [Virtual] Space

June 10, 2011

It’s been a very long time since I have actually updated this blog. But, surprisingly enough, it isn’t actually dead. In fact, there are at least three or four potential posts on potentially fascinating subjects lurking in my drafts folder. So once this lovely collection of final assessment joins Shakespeare, Mozart and Firefly in the annals of history, I shall get around to actually posting them!

After all, who wouldn’t want to hear about my thoughts on rewatching one of my favourite shows?

It’ll be DY-NA-MITE!! (Say that with peppy emphasis)


Or how cool Iceland is?

Because AstroTurfing the front lawn isn’t enough.


Or why I’m shocked I hadn’t discovered comedy sooner.


Tune in in a couple of weeks and you’ll get all this and more! Unless I am in desperate need of procrastination, in which case, you might see it sooner…

The New Number for Sectionals: Song Choice in “Glee”

November 23, 2010

Those glee kids are never happy, are they? I mean, when you join a song-and-dance club, you’ve got to be anticipating some classic Broadway and a few crowd-pleasing rock-and-pop hits here and there. It’s a given, isn’t it? Well, the William McKinley High students seem to have been a bit fuzzy on what to expect. Last night’s episode of Glee, entitled The Substitute, was hardly the first to touch on the yearning of the teens to sing something modern. There have been complaints of too much ‘70s pop way back in the second episode of Season One. And it’s glee club teacher Will Schuester who ends up with the blame. Last night, the students lamented that they couldn’t remember the last time they’d sung something that wasn’t from the ‘80s.

Well, New Directions, you should probably be blaming yourselves for that predicament.

Since when did this need modernisation?

The Substitute culminated in a (horrid, in my opinion) mash-up of the timeless Singin’ in the Rain with Rihanna’s Umbrella. It’s not that these songs could never work together (Jamie Cullum is proof of that), but the method Glee chose was awkward: the whimsy of the musical is shoved, reluctantly, in between pounding bass and droning vocal refrain. I think it’s safe to say that my soul was crushed by the rendition, and it got me thinking.  Why does Will feel he has to take something iconic (and that he loves) and make it modern?  Why can’t the glee club respect the classic for what it is?  And seriously: where did all this ‘we never sing any new songs’ lament come from?

When Will handed out the sheet music to the classic, the club was non-receptive after enjoying the hip influence of substitute teacher Holly. So in order to please his club, Will asked Holly to help him “modernise” the song: resulting in the introduction of Ms Rihanna.  This all came about because of the glee club’s dismay at never being allowed to sing music that spoke to them. The main evidence of their argument seemed to lie on the apparent fact that Will only wanted them to sing Journey (which, admittedly, has some humorous ring of truth after their Regionals performance in Season One). It was all Will’s fault, they reasoned. He never listened to their modern song selections. But a little bit of number crunching suggests that the club has a slightly unsubstantiated hypothesis…

Proof (and graphs!) after the break.

Read more…

Vicious Cycle

June 28, 2010

I was recently viewing the Know Your Meme video for “Weegee,” which discussed how the internet meme developed to the point where looking at the blank-stare of the Luigi character would have adverse effects: “Anyone who sees Weegee becomes entranced by his stare, eventually becoming a Weegee themselves.”

Hmm…  This sounds familiar…  To loosely paraphrase, “Anything that bears the image of an Angel, becomes an Angel.”  In the recent Doctor Who episode The Time of Angels, the TARDIS team discover that the Weeping Angels – creepy creatures that turn to stone when something is looking at them – can propogate in photographs, video and even mental images.

So, the natural question…  What would happen in a Weegee/Weeping Angel staring contest?

Rinse and repeat.

A Penny For Your Thoughts

June 22, 2010

What’s with all these Pennies? Surely it can’t be a coincidence that there are Pennies in three of my favourite pieces of celluloid. Can it only be happenstance that two Pennies lack a surname? Can it be one massive bazinga that all three are unattainable objects of affection? Can it be more than coincidence; can it be fate?

“Is there a point to this?” I hear you ask.

Probably not, but don’t tell me what I can’t do.  I’m answering these questions anyway.

The Pennies

Penny Number One is the long-lost love of the tortured Scotsman Desmond Hume in Lost.  The daughter of the mysterious Charles Widmore, this Penny is a class above the rest in terms of social status and in terms of her sheer determination.  Even after a heart-wrenching conflict, Penny spends several years of her life devoted to finding her beloved after he disappears during a sailing race around the world.  She enjoys yachting with Our Mutual Friend, defying her father and long-awaited phonecalls.

Penny Number Two is the girl-next-door-but-really-across-the-hall in The Big Bang Theory.  This plucky aspiring actress stands in sharp contrast to the nerdy Leonard and Sheldon, but she blends surprisingly well with our geeky friends, even – fleetingly – coming into a Facebook-affirmed relationship with Leonard.  She won’t get your arguments about whether Babylon 5 is actually worth watching, but she will get her way: which frequently involve a curious fashion sense and a severe lack of adhesive ducks.

Penny Number Three is the good-hearted volunteer who gets caught up in the worst love triangle imaginable in Doctor Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog.  As the shared affection of cocky local superhero Captain Hammer and our tragically heroic villain Doctor Horrible (aka. “Billy”), her life is thrown into chaos as their rivalry escalates.  It’s plain to see some kind of harmony is on the rise when she’s enjoying frozen yogurts, helping the homeless and maintaining her strictly regimented laundry schedule.

So now that the introductions are out of the way, let’s get cracking.

Read more…