The Self High-Five: The 2nd Time Around

bill bodkin’s column returns…

While the LeBron James fiasco seemed to dominate the world of well, everything, there were some cool pop culture nuggets that I discovered and enjoyed.

Movies: A Redbox Double Feature…It’s Complicated and Edge of Darkness
When my fiancee selected It’s Complicated for our movie night I let out a major groan, I figured it was a post-menopausal chick-flick. And for the most part it is. With a morally annoying mantra “it’s ok to cheat…since you were cheated on” the plot of It’s Complicated is pretty paint by numbers [you could easily see this as a sapfest starring Meg Ryan and that would’ve been awful], you can see the twists and turns coming 10 miles away. However, it’s the cast that makes this film an enjoyable comedic romp. Meryl Streep proves that she’s absolutely bulletproof as she can carry even the thinnest and weakest of plots with grace, flare and style. Alec Baldwin, Steve Martin and John Krasinski are a dynamite comedic threesome. This is a solid rainy-night-in-film to rent, that’ll provide a couple of good belly laughs.

I sadly selected the Mel Gibson revenge-flick Edge of Darkness. Based on a BBC series, the film is an overly-complicated, hyperviolent and pretty boring drama. Gibson plays a dead-eyed Baaaahston police detective who’s blandly blinded by rage. For those expecting the old thrill-seeking, kick-ass Mel Gibson actioneer, you get old, tired, bored Mel. You can put the nail in the coffin for another top action star from the 80s and 90s. Farewell thee well Mad Max, you’re beyond Thunderdome now. The film also stars an insanely underused Ray Winstone. Winstone,a tremendously gruff and engrossing character actor is brought in to play a mysterious government bag man, that really doesn’t do much else but wax poetic about death, drink wine and pop pills. Really? Sadly, this entire movie, like Winstone is wasted on the audience.

Music: The Milwaukees
On Friday night, I sojourned up to Maxwell’s in Hoboken to see the final performance of one of my favorite bands, Hero Pattern [blog coming soon on them]. The show was a benefit for Dan Duggins, formerly of the Hot Rod Circuit, who recently suffered a massive stroke. On the bill with HP was indie rockers Alchemy & The Queen and my new favorite unsigned Jersey band, The Milwaukees. Ladies and gentlemen, this is was rock ‘n’ roll is supposed to be. A bass booming and bursting to life, guitars ripping through the dense club air with shreds, solos and riffs a plenty, high energy drumming and vocals that’ll rock your house and rip your soul. I swear this was it was like watching the E-Street Band at the Pony back in the 70s. The Milwaukees are absolutely amazing. Kudos to guitarist Jeff Nordstedt who reminds me of Jack White and Edgar Wright’s son, the dude can absolutely shred. As for lead singer Dylan St. Clark, his incorporation of lyrics from David Lee Roth’s “Yankee Rose” in the bands final song of the night was sheer brilliance. For more check out their official website or their facebook.

Television: The Hills
This show is a major player in the TV world and on Tuesday it’s coming to an end. I can’t say I’m going to miss the show…at all (read: it makes me want to stab myself in the eyes); but the plug had to be pulled on ┬áthis formerly uber popular now quickly dying show. Since the depature of the show’s lead character, All-American girl Lauren Conrad, in 2009 the show has become less popular — trying to keep things afloat with former badgirl Kristen Cavallari taking LC’s goody-two-shoes role and focusing on the insanely weird marriage of celebrity junkies Heidi and Spencer.

However this season the show seems to be jumping the shark every episode. Heidi and Spencer went AWOL 1/4 through the season due to creative differences with the producers (or so they say). Ancillary characters (Brody Jenner, et al.) were thrown into lead roles at a frantic space to see if any of them could become fan faves- sadly they did not. So the show degenerated into a Real Housewives/Real World party all the time and yell at each in public marathon.

And now, after months of partying and seemingly no responsibility the show is ending as the entire cast must “grow-up and move-on.” Color me confused.

Food: Maxwells
Back to Hoboken. While waiting for the Hero Pattern farewell show, my fiancee and I dined at our concert venue, Maxwell’s. Located on Washington Ave, this very cool, almost Parisian hipster-styled restaurant serves delicious food. Color me shocked, because any concert venue I’ve ever been to fries everything to death. But Maxwell’s just isn’t a venue, it’s a full-service restaurant and bar that just happens to get major label acts like: The Electric Six, Mike Doughty (Soul Coughing), Antigone Rising and The Ataris on their stage. But back to their board of fare. Their burgers are absolutely outstanding — smooth, succulent half pound works of culinary craftsmanship. My fiancee ordered up the tuna steak sandwich with sundried tomato tapenade and tartar sauce — it was fantastic. The desserts we ordered up — chocolate mousse and Oreo cheesecake were refreshingly delicious ways to end our meals. My only complaint for the night– $5 for a Miller Lite draft? Woof. I stuck to the $3.50 cans of PBR for the rest of the night. Oh and for all you jukebox lovers out there — the selection is chock full of hipsterific tunes and some hidden gems like “Aces of Spades” by Motorhead, which I totally played to most people’s dismay.

Literature: Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
Upon its original release in 2000 (it’s been update a few times), Kitchen Confidential was a
shocking culinary revelation by then unknown chef Anthony Bourdain. It was hailed a modern nonfiction classic and it went on to sell at a rapid pace and land Bourdain his excellent television series — No Reservations.

I picked up the book last week and I can’t put it down. The book is an excellent read and as someone who’s been in a few kitchens in his day, there’s nothing that shocking in it. Yet, what this book is full of is humorous, well-written and sometimes highly emotional anecdotes, stories, musings and history from a well-traveled culinary maestro who’s battled through personal demons and culinary demagogues. Bourdain’s writing is amazingly intelligent and engaging. Reading his recount of an average Friday night in a kitchen in New York City was one of the most fast-paced reads I’ve ever come across, one is near exhaustion after just reading it.

If you’re a foodie, you need to pick this book up pronto. I recommend grabbing it at your local Barnes & Noble, they’ll have it on display as Bourdain’s newest piece, Raw Bits just hit the stands in hardcover.

Bill Bodkin is the gray bearded owner, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break. Most importantly, he is lucky husband, and proud father to a beautiful daughter named Sophie. He can be seen regularly on the site reviewing The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, and is the host of the site’s podcast, The BreakCast.┬áHe is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @BodkinWrites