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

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Tuesday, Feb 25, 2014
While Activision didn't have a new Skylanders game to show off, they did have new toys and MEZCO's line expands to include Sons of Anarchy as well as Breaking Bad.

In the past, video games haven’t been a big part of the international Toy Fair, but that hadn’t stopped Activision from having a big booth to showcase their Skylanders game/collectible toy hybrid line. This year however, Activision wasn’t sharing any info about any new game for 2014 at Toy Fair, so their booth was a bit more subdued. They did showcase a couple of new characters for their game as well as a seasonal variant, the springtime Trigger Happy, a pastel colored character in an egg-shaped package. They also announced a partnership by which they will release fruit snacks later this year but the samples they had were too gummy and unpleasantly stuck to my teeth.

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Friday, Feb 21, 2014
With the release of The LEGO Movie, one can make a case that the brand understands the limitations of creating specific scenes and sets but hasn't given up on a child's imagination.

With their movie at the top of the box office two weeks in a row now, LEGO debuted their Ghostbusters themed set at Toy Fair 2014 this past week and also had their set based on The Simpsons on display. The former is possibly a one-off product in the license as it in the CUUSOO line, a consumer voted on project whose last set was Back to the Future related, while the latter is expected to be bigger given that Milhouse appears in The LEGO Movie and the 550th episode of The Simpsons to air in May will be animated using the “highly sophisticated interlocking brick system”. According to EW, in the episode entitled ““Brick Like Me”, Homer wakes up in a world where his family and everyone in Springfield are made of Legos.”

While you wait for the episode, you can view some of the new toys below, including a Star Wars Rebel line. We unfortunately couldn’t get pictures of figures related to the Michael Bay TMNT movie or Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy or Minecraft, but expect those to be on the way in the near future.

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Wednesday, Feb 19, 2014
Emily Kinney, Beth Greene in AMC's The Walking Dead, is also a talented singer-songwriter with two charming EPs under her belt.

Just about six months ago, I learned that Norman Reedus, the actor who plays Daryl Dixon on AMC’s The Walking Dead, was also a photographer when he was the host of a Canon camera event. It wasn’t long after that I learned that one of his co-stars, Emily Kinney, who plays Beth Greene, is a singer-songwriter who also calls NYC home. Kinney, as Greene, gained exposure as a singer when she performed “The Parting Glass” on the show with Lauren Cohen, her on-screen sister Maggie. Towards the end of 2013, she released her second EP Expired Lover, the follow-up to 2011’s Blue Toothbrush—from which she pulled many of her songs for her pre-Valentine’s Day show at Rockwood Music Hall.

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Tuesday, Feb 18, 2014
At Sam Roberts Band sold out show, on the same day their new album Lo-Fantasy saw its release, people already knew the words to the new songs.

Heaven’s Jail (a band name I’m not too fond of) sounded pretty good as they opened for Sam Roberts Band but unfortunately the trio didn’t have much of an audience to witness them. As the fact the show was sold out might indicate, the crowd really was at the Mercury Lounge to see Canadian singer-songwriter Sam Roberts and his eponymous band perform. It was a special evening given the band’s latest album, the critically well-received Lo-Fantasy, was released that day. As Roberts announced, the band would celebrate by performing the entire 11-track album straight through, and return for an encore of a few earlier hits. Lo-Fantasy is a melodic, rock album that redefines Roberts sound with the addition of sinewy and gauzy club vibes that gives listeners more reasons to dance than to head-bang.

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Friday, Feb 14, 2014
Having beaten cancer, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings returned to the stage in NYC for a performance that was as invigorating as it was electrifying.

Sharon Jones proved she is a tour de force with her performance at the Beacon Theatre on February 6th 2014. Her rampant energy was conveyed on stage with dance moves most rock stars half her age don’t possess. All this despite the health issues she faced in the past year or so—just this past December she was still receiving chemo treatments for pancreatic cancer and it only two weeks prior to the show did Jones declare she was cancer-free. So what better way to celebrate than to tour on the heels of her latest album with the Dap-Kings, Give the People What They Want?

Jones was radiating with positivity. Perhaps the only sad moment was when she announced her trumpeter would be leaving the band to join Jimmy Fallon and the Roots on The Tonight Show as it gave him the opportunity to remain at home with his family. But she graciously thanked him and many other of her friends who happened to be in the audience including people with cancer whom she spent time with at Sharon Springs (a town in NY State) and her medical provider, Dr. Leonardo. No longer in the possession of her braided locks, Jones, shaking her head as she danced, added emphatically, “Since I don’t have hair, I’m gonna shake my head!”

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