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Wednesday, Nov 28, 2007

Noël Coward was the personification of English wit, sophistication and cool. He was also a nearly unparalleled renaissance man (something that’s becoming increasingly rare in this age of micro-specialization) as a playwright, actor, composer, writer, painter, singer and cabaret performer. His was a life of constant creativity combined with a prodigious work ethic where the sweat from all that labor never peeked through his sober and refined exterior. The result was a massive body of classic works, particularly in the theatrical realm. This new BBC set compiles TV productions of many of his finest plays, including Private Lives, Hay Fever, and A Song at Twilight, as well as dramatizations of a smattering his short stories, interviews, and performances of sterling Coward songs. It’s an indispensable and essential set for any fan of British theatre and culture or those with a fine sense of wit.


Noël Coward - Nina [From Noel Coward & Mary Martin: Together With Music]

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Wednesday, Nov 28, 2007

You either love the SingStar series or you hate it, depending largely on your feelings on karaoke in general.  Karaoke buffs love the licensed music and smooth visual style of the series, while detractors can’t imagine taking part in such an activity without the assistance of some serious liquid courage. One year after Sony introduced their fantastic karaoke series to the United States, that series gets a jolt from the fantastic tracklists of the Amped and ‘80s editions of the game.  Amped is even more rock ‘n roll than last year’s Rocks!, with a large helping of early ‘90s grunge-era songs for aspiring Eddie Vedders and Chris Cornells (not to mention a little bit of Snow Patrol for the more sensitive rockers out there). On the flipside of Amped is the ‘80s edition of SingStar, which might just be the most hilariously embarrasing game you ever play on your PlayStation 2. Imagine putting together the most accurate rendition of “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” or “Rio” you can muster, and you have some idea of the level of ridiculousness possible with this game.  Either new edition is worth your time, so grab one, pick up your microphone, and start singing.


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Wednesday, Nov 28, 2007

According to Michael Erard, we screw-up what we say when we speak at a rate of approximately one in every ten words. I don’t know if that’s a source for consolation or worry. Although this book traces verbal fumbles all the way back to ancient Greece, what first came to my mind when I saw this title was, of course, the famed lip-tripper of our day: George W. Bush. Indeed, Bush’s blunders during the 2000 presidential campaign (and the press and the public’s response to them) are what sparked Erard’s interest in the topic.His approach is rather scientific, albeit in an entertaining manner, and you will leave this book armed with a vocabulary to identify each type of common blunder, as well as a better-tuned ear for the gaffes made in everyday conversation that more forgiving types tend to overlook, or overhear, as it were. But, he gently warns, resist the urge to correct those speaking to you, lest you send them into a stuttering rage. The drama student, the psychology major, and the otherwise linguistically inclined will be well-served by the work done here.


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Wednesday, Nov 28, 2007

The Brit Box collects 78 songs of UK alt-pop from 1985 to 1999. Rhino’s four-disc set traces the evolution of this music, from just after the neon lights of new wave died, through the Britpop explosion, and ending right before Coldplay emerged to rule supreme. This box is both an excellent survey and a very well sequenced 312-minute mix. Because Rhino didn’t stick to one genre, you won’t get fatigued by hearing the same style over and over. For Anglophiles and pop lovers alike, the Brit Box is quite a treat.


Oasis - Live Forever



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Wednesday, Nov 28, 2007

According to the noted agent provoc-auteur, celluloid is dead—and you’re tempted to believe him after witnessing this amazing three-hour digital dream. As maddening as it is majestic, overflowing with the noted director’s demented inspirations, what starts out as an actresses fantasy transmogrifies into a statement on women in general. After self-distributing the film throughout 2006, Lynch oversaw the meticulous DVD presentation, which includes a bonanza of behind the scenes material. We get deleted scenes, an onset documentary, a Q&A with the filmmaker, and a recipe for Quinoa. What more could you ask for?


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