Call for Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past

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Monday, Apr 1, 2013
ABC's new campaign to "Save Happy Endings" is a bold and contemptuous new parlay in the ongoing war between networks and audiences.

So riddle me this, fellow TV lovers. Big bad major network unceremoniously yanks your favorite comedy from the air halfway through its current season for a two month hiatus—this after spending two and half seasons basically setting it up for failure, juggling it around various nights and timeslots. Then it murders its companion show, as if to taunt it with the fate that’s in store for it all too soon. And then it condemns it, upon its imminent return, to the purgatorial death slot of Friday night, where it will serve out its remaining sentence burning off episodes two at a time, with no hope at redemption. Seems like the end for you poor, underwatched (but over-funny!) Happy Endings, right?


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Thursday, Mar 21, 2013
The future is already around us and that means facing up to its horrors as much as its delights.

Finally, we’re living in the future. What on Earth is it doing to us?


At their recent sold-out shows at the Tate Modern in London, Kraftwerk revisited its eight studio albums in neat, chronological order. At first glance, it’s rather jarring to think of such forward-looking sounds having earned a retrospective. But then they were never really about the future, anyway. With songs like Autobahn, Pocket Calculator and Trans-Europe Express, it’s clear that Kraftwerk was actually interested in the technology that already surrounded them.


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Friday, Jan 25, 2013
Why you – and ABC – should trust The B---- in Apt. 23.

Trying to explain the abysmal ratings of ABC’s agreeably daft and eccentric comedy Don’t Trust the B——in Apt. 23, perhaps it’s a case of audiences taking the advice built directly into the name of the show too literally. And the name is a problem, if only because it seems to want to keep the viewer continually at arm’s length, deflecting rather than inviting with its initial “Don’t” followed by a sing-songy jumble that skirts the line between clever and obnoxious, and goes on just a bit too long besides.  It’s like it’s knowingly overcompensating for being so coy by being a mouthful, trying to be both risqué and cute, never quite succeeding either way.


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Thursday, Oct 25, 2012
The search for the past, which is also inevitably the present, is profoundly disturbing. And yet, Nostalgia for the Light proposes, that search must go on.

The Chile of Patricio Guzmán’s childhood is long gone, a collective history he’s explored in other films. But Nostalgia for the Light (Nostalgia de la luz), premiering on PBS on 25 October, looks at that history in brilliant new ways, articulating two searches for the past. One is a pursuit of scientific knowledge, the evidence to support theories of how life began and what might be coming for the planet earth; it’s conducted by astronomers via the world’s largest optical telescope (called the European Extremely Large Telescope, or E-ELT) located in Chile’s Atacama desert. The other, ongoing since 1990, is undertaken by the relatives of victims of August Pinochet’s dictatorship: they seek remains and stories, knowledge of how their loved ones died. Both searches, the film points out, involve bodies, material and celestial, and both are endless.


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Monday, Oct 22, 2012
There's No Place Like Home never loses sight of Josh's own guiding principle, that he is irrepressible.

“There’s fans, then there’s Kansas fans, then there’s Josh,” says Daymion Mardel. He’s Josh Swade’s friend, according to his credit in There’s No Place Like Home, and his description frames the story of Josh’s efforts to bring James Naismith’s original “Rules of Basketball” to Kansas University. Because Naismith coached and taught at KU for 40 years, Josh reasons, the Allen Fieldhouse is the document’s rightful home.


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