Well folks, the eve of summer is upon us. To my mind, it has already passed. How was yours? Mine…wasn’t terriffic. I am looking forward to a new season and am determined to make fall fun. But whatever else I can say about the summer, I have to admit, it was pretty kick ass in terms of pop culture. I saw 4 shows (3 musicals, 1 play); saw my boys play in Chicago; discovered some new bands and podcasts; read great books; went to a great film festival; and even had time to watch (or re watch) some TV. So it wasn’t all bad.
Below is the first installment of my best of summer pop culture picks. Feel free to share yours in the comments!
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I recently discovered the best podcast currently running in cyberspace: The Tobolowsky Files, starring the man himself, Stephen Tobolowsky.
You know him. He played Ned Ryerson in Groundhog Day (so I’m told; truth be told, I can’t stand that movie and only saw it once); Sammy in Momento; Hugo Jerry on Deadwood; Bob Bishop the gold man on Heros; and most recently, Sandy Ryerson on Glee. In other words, he is the ultimate “Hey! It’s that guy!” guy.
On the Tobolowsky Files, he tells stories from his life. I know this does not sound engaging, but trust me, it is. Tobolowksy, it turns out, has not only had a fascinating life, but is also a gifted writer and storyteller. I was hooked from episode one, and he had me crying by episode two. My only complaint is that the podcast just started in November, so there are only about 18 episodes so far. I got through the first 11 fairly quick, and have had to force myself to ration the rest out.
Not much else can be said about the show; it really speaks for itself. If you enjoy hearing interesting stories (and who doesn’t?) check out The Tobolowsky Files. It’s in real danger of knocking This American Life out of first place for my favorite podcast. And for those of you who know about my undying love for Ira Glass, well, that’s really saying something.
You can listen to all shows directly here, or subscribe to it on Itunes.
I don’t know why I am constantly making up pointless lists about TV in my head. That’s just me. And yes, I’ve done it again. After the Glee album was released a few weeks ago, I started thinking about my favorite Glee moments, which led to thinking about my favorite TV musical moments. That led to me making a list of said favorites, which brings us here.
Before I begin, a few things: First, I’ve not seen every show out there. These are just some of my favorite moments. I know, for instance, that Ally McBeal was chock-full of musical performances. Unfortunately, I’ve never seen it. Ditto for the first four seasons of American Idol. Second, by musical moments, I do not mean montages. I mean characters actually singing, or music being used effectively in a scene. (But there are a few exceptions for truly outstanding montages that could not be ignored.) Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE a musical montage. But the list is long enough already; if I included every musical montage I loved, I’d be writing this entry forever.
As you may or may not know, I am not usually one for spoilers. While I don’t mind knowing who is going to guest star on How I Met Your Mother or The Big Bang Theory, I REALLY don’t want to know what’s happening next on Dexter or Friday Night Lights, or who’s getting kicked off Project Runway.
Similarly, I have enjoyed all the surprises of Glee so far this season. This includes both plot lines (Rachel and Puck? Brilliant!) and the songs they perform. While I knew that Kristen Chenoweth was going to be on the show at some point, I didn’t know when, and seeing her show up and sing a dueling pianos version of “Maybe This Time” with Rachel was a major thrill.
With that in mind – today the first volume of the Glee soundtrack was released, and so of COURSE I went to get it on my lunch break. I figured that it would just have the songs from the first half of the season – i.e. what we’ve already seen. It did – along with two extras that I assume we’ll hear sometime this month. While I’m disappointed about being a little spoiled, the tracks are so good, they pretty much make up for ruining the surprise.
Sorry, Jon Cryer. But REALLY? WTF, Emmy people? If NPH had lost to Rainn Wilson or one of the 30 Rock guys, I’d understand. But John Cryer?? Other than that (and Dexter‘s snub…again) I was pretty okay with the outcome of the Emmys. If Drew Barrymore couldn’t have won for playing Little Edie in Grey Gardens, then Jessica Lange was a good choice. And, obviously, NPH rocked it as host. Can he just host everything now, ever?
I mean, really. And I don’t even think I need to mention Dr. Horrible hijacking the ceremony. Awesomesauce.
Speaking of Dexter, I’ve seen the season 4 premiere. Without giving anything away: YOWZA! It’s a doozy, and it’s wonderful, and I’m so glad it’s back. Or will be, officially, on Sunday. Also, note to viewers: This season promises to be creepier than the last two. I got used to being able to watch it alone in the dark. Umm, maybe don’t do that this season. I had to take my teddy bear with me for protection to the kitchen and bathroom after watching it alone, in the dark, in my room, at night.
For anyone in the DC area: The National Book Festival is this weekend, on the mall. And before you scoff, let me tell you that both Mr. John Irving and Ms. Judy Blume will be there. I’ll give you ladies a moment to calm down, because JUDY BLUME! I feel like I owe it to my former pre-teen self to go. She did after all, write one of my favorite books of all time.
Glee continues to be fantastic. Did everyone see last night’s episode? I have three words: “Yes, we cane.” Brilliant.
Both HIMYM and Big Bang Theory had delightful premiers. And umm…excuse me for a minute while I reveal my inner fangirl: ROBINANDBARNEYOMGSOCUTE! There. Also, I’m still laughing at the emoticon jokes from Big Bang.
So, in other words, yay fall TV!
Video of the Day: One of my favorite things ever. Also, I read a rumor that David Hyde Pierce was on the shortlist of people to play Albert in the Birdie revival, and a small part of me died. Honestly, he’s not the right type, physically, and he’s probably a bit too old, but still. Anyway, this and “Show People” from Curtains are my current go-to songs for a.) getting psyched and b.) making me happy. My favorite part is the terrible dancing combined with the bouncing hair.
So I have a confession to make: I wasn’t crazy about the season premier of Glee. I didn’t hate it – there were good things, and the story moved along, and it was funny. But, I didn’t love the “Push It” scene as much as the rest of the TV population, and I was appalled that Will’s wife lied about being pregnant.
Last night’s episode, Acafellas, totally erased all negative opinions. (Except one: I love Jane Lynch, but I’m not yet convinced they know what to do with her character. Why exactly does she hate glee so much? Is it really taking that much money away from the Cheerios?)
Anyway, so many great things about this episode:
Victor Garber and Debra Monk! Readers of this blog may recall that I am currently obsessed with Curtains, so I was thrilled to see Ms. Monk. Only one thing – with those two together, why didn’t someone come up with a way for them to sing? Hopefully they will in a future episode.
I’m no fan of Josh Groban, but his cameo was hilarious, and very well played.
Sandy Ryerson writes Desperate Housewives fan fiction! Ha! Easily the best line of the night. Oh, fanfic. You will alway be so mockable.
Thumbs up cake!
Every number Acafellas performed. “Poison” was the best, and easily my favorite since “Don’t Stop Believin’.” Also, it took me a minute to realize that..yes…they really were singing “I’m Gonna Sex You Up”, on network TV, and supposedly at a PTA meeting. Once the realization hit, I busted out laughing.
The whole Kurt/Mercedes storyline, especially when he came out to her at the end. Very touching.
Puck likes cougars. Overall, I’m glad we’re getting to know the supporting cast better. And on that note…
I’m still no fan of Terri, but it was nice seeing her supporting Will, and showing that she does actually care about him – even if their relationship is still pretty messed up.
Finally, Emma continues to be awesome. More Emma, please!