Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Freaks and Geeks

Freaks and Geeks TV show
source: NBC Universal / Getty Images
As with most cult favorites, I'm late to the party on the 1999-2000 television show "Freaks and Geeks". But honestly, how many of us teens were watching "Freaks and Geeks" the first time around? Weren't we too busy setting ourselves up for later disappointment, watching The WB with its loquacious teen melodramas? Not caring about how teens lived in the oh-so-vintage '80s? How many of us touched NBC, aside from its Must See Thursday nights?

Now that I'm older (and frankly, a little bitter that life did not turn out the way The WB promised it would), I fully appreciate the quality television NBC offers. "Friday Night Lights" was probably one of its greatest gems, and "Freaks and Geeks," while not nearly as serious or earnest as "Friday Night Lights," speaks of high school with the same honesty.

This is a world where romances last two weeks, teens are too self-involved to spend more than half an episode bullying their peers, and kids are just trying to get by. Cindy is a genuinely nice girl, in spite of being a cheerleader. She is equally nice to the geeks, the freaks, and the popular kids. And one of the most balanced adults I've seen on television, guidance counselor Mr. Rosso. (Although some of the guidance counselors at my school were as bad as you hear.)

Most people of my generation seem to think that "Mean Girls" was the pinnacle of what high school was like, but I just can't relate. "Freaks and Geeks" ... that I get. And to think, one of the co-creators was Mr. Poole from "Sabrina the Teenage Witch."

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

14 Pop Culture-y Things That Turn 10 This Year

Britney Spears Kevin Federline
... just to make you feel old (or just very confused), let's make a list of 14 pop culture-related things that will turn 10 years old in 2014. And ... go!

1. Facebook
And are we any better for it?

2. "Mean Girls"
Which also means that it's been 10 years since Lindsay Lohan was considered an ingenue, a good actress, attractive, and reliable by most. Tell me the truth -- do you still quote this movie?

3. "The College Dropout"
Kanye West releases his debut album and becomes a megastar instantly. Things haven't changed too much.

4. Britney Spears gets married ... twice
Within a span of 12, nay, 10 months, Britney Spears gets married in Vegas, has her marriage annulled, then inexplicably gets married to Kevin Federline.

5. Ashlee Simpson gets caught lip synching on "Saturday Night Live"
... and then does a weird jig. I can't believe that was 10 years ago. I remember watching that live, crammed into an uncomfortable corner of an eerie corner kitchen of my basement dorm hall. I didn't think she deserved all the hate then, and I still don't now.

6. "The Notebook"
And yet, I can't seem to imagine Ryan Gosling or Rachel McAdams a day older than they looked in "The Notebook." And I don't think they do look a day older now. If you're a bird, I'm a bird, right?

7. Paris Hilton's popularity
Ugh, I do not miss the era of celebrity gossip when all that mattered was what stupid thing Paris Hilton, Nicole Richie, Lindsay Lohan, and Mischa Barton had done that week. But do you remember the phrase "That's hot"? And how Paris successfully trademarked it? The rockbottom of pop culture.

8. Massachusetts and same-sex marriage
The state of Massachusetts, then under the watchful eye of future presidential candidate Mitt Romney, became the very first U.S. state to legalize same-sex marriages.

9. "Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County"
The reality show that spawned a new style of "reality" shows made its debut on September 28, 2004 and became arguably bigger than the show from which it drew inspiration: "The O.C."

10. "Nipplegate"
Justin Timberlake "accidentally" exposed 80% of Janet Jackson's star-covered breast at the Super Bowl. The pair consequently begin backpedaling with the lamest PR excuses I've ever heard in my life. I didn't think it was that controversial ten years ago, but now I just think it's plain stupid. Why would you end a song by ripping off a pocket of a woman's shirt to expose a sparkly star-covered boob? Like, what's the point? If it was purely shock they were after, I guess they succeeded. Also: ten years on, and people are still treating Justin Timberlake like he's some sort of demi-legend. Still don't get it.

11. "Napoleon Dynamite"
Now this is something that feels more like it happened 20 years ago, maybe even 30. And that probably makes "Napoleon Dynamite" a classic. Or incredibly dated when it was released.

12. "Friends" ends
Good riddance.

13. The Curse of the Bambino is lifted
The Boston Red Sox beat the New York Yankees to win their first World Series in 86 years. Yeah, I'm New Yorker born and raised, but I still know all about the Bambino. I happened to be living in Boston at the time, and it was madness. Pure madness.

14. The Olsen Twins turned 18
There was a countdown and everything. Sick. Especially since they still look underage, ten years later.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

2003-2004 Playlist

Jason Mraz 2003
By 2004, I very definitely had one foot in Top 40 music and one in acoustic/folk, singer-songwriterly music. I spent most of my time playing Jason Mraz, John Mayer, and Jack Johnson on repeat and wishing I was in California instead of the Northeast (don't worry, I won't subject you to my actual 2003-2004 soundtrack). Most everything else that entered my Cone of Beachy Angst seeped through via television and films.

And (this is a little difficult to admit) Michelle Branch's "Hotel Paper" was, for at least a few months, my crutch for the transition from high school to college. For leaving behind a certain someone I was convinced I would never get over. I don't know what it was about these songs (and "Goodbye To You" from her previous album), released just before I graduated from high school, that "spoke" to what I was going through. Oddly enough, Michelle did a big concert at my college the next spring. That helped me close the book on my past a little.