The Self High-Five: Fantastic Fourth

bill bodkin’s column is back…dig it

I’m glad people (read: all 20 of you) are digging it. This week we feature on some of the highlights of the past week. Yes, the Gym-Tan-Laundry mantra of Jersey Shore will be in full effect, but I’ll let more qualified reality TV watchers (read: the fiancee) tackle this subject. For me this column is chock full of delicious tragic drama, mix-hop, fantasy football, binge eating and New Brunswick.

Movies: When Fashion Meets Film
A Single Man, directed, produced and co-written by uber fashion magnate Tom Ford, is a film that my fiancee has dubbed “deliciously tragic.” A deliciously tragic film is a the film that is sad and tragic yet beautifully filmed, masterfully told and filled with characters you fall in love with and root for and even though you know the ending, which of course is epically tragic, you still hope and pray for a different ending.

A Single Man is definitely this type of film.

The plot revolves around George Falconer (Colin Firth), a closeted gay English professor in 1960’s Los Angeles, who is hearbroken over the death of his lover (Matthew Goode) — killed in a car accident. The film documents the day’s happenings — his interactions with his students, his boozy BFF (Juliane Moore) as well as flashbacks to his ill-fated last relationship. For a first time director, Ford delivers an absolute masterwork. He manipulates the film’s color palette, muting all colors except for those things that Falconer finds beautiful — which burst on the scene in high-contrast color. It’s a simple film device, but it’s very powerful. Yet with the heart of the movie lies within Colin Firth — the simple man himself. For the past decade Firth has been typecast as the lighthearted romantic comedy lead. Charmingly befuddled, a bit of a goof and oh-so-sappy. But here, that’s all been shed aside; he owns this film. He has a comand presence and it’s a shame he lost the Best Actor Oscar. This was a career performance and perhaps this is a career-changing performance, maybe the former Mr. Darcy will return to the world of the dramatic.

So be warned, this is not a happy movie, it’s quite sad, but if you give it a chance and are in a relatively open-minded or good mood, you will definitely be swept up in the delicious tragedy of A Single Man.

Music: Aquavibe & The Art of Mix-Hop
On Monday night July 26, I will be heading over to Bilow’s Bar & Grill in Neptune to check a band I’ve dug for a very long time, Aquavibe. This Staten Island-born and based group is a fun, unique and utterly cool-as-hell
band that you must and I mean must check out. Their style is known as “mix-hop” a fusion of hip-hop, rock, electronica/trip-hop, pop and funk — think The Roots meets Portihead. (The band describes themselves as: The sound is a melody infused hip-hop incorporating live instrumentation and turntablism into a band
based urban pop mixture.) The band’s sound is fun, fresh, smooth — a head boppin’, drink the air style of sophisticated party music. Yet, the band has it’s serious side (as seen in the sound Dvision below). Aquavibe is definitely one of the most unique bands out there and if you’re hungry for your new favorite band check out Aquavibe.

Food: For He’s a Jolly Old Fellow: Old Man Rafferty’s
Last week I mentioned that upon returning to New Brunswick I wanted to desperately hit up Stuff Yer Face. Well, that didn’t happen as Brent Johnson and I opted to dine at New Brunswick’s landmark casual American restaurant Old Man Rafferty’s. Rafferty’s is one the best choices to dine in New Brunswick — period. Sure, you can dine on all sorts of cuisine in Hub City, but when it comes to comfort food, Rafferty’s has them all beat. Thick, succulent burgers covered in American and mozzarella cheese are so good you want to punch yourself in the face because you might think you’re in a culinary version of Inception. The apps, the steaks, the sandwiches (helloooo Sloppy Joe) and the entrees (their fettucine alfredo stands up to any Hub City Italian restaurant) are out of this world. However, the piece de resistance is their bakery. Cakes, cookies and sweets galore abound in this shop. It’s like Willy Wonka retired to New Jersey and decided to make cakes and pies instead of Wonka bars. My highest recommendation to you would be the banana chocolate chip cake. It’s so good you would’ve thought mom just brought it out of the oven for your birthday. It’s amazing. So people of the world, converge on Old Man Rafferty’s in New Brunswick — it’s that good.

Television: Man vs. Food — An Epic Battle!
I go through periods in my life where I become obsessed with certain types of shows. For a while it was British sitcoms then it was stand-up specials. Now it’s food shows. Thank you Top Chef for being my gateway drug. My newest foodie TV favorite is Man vs. Food on the Travel Channel. This is the antithesis to Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations. Same premise — foodie travels the country looking for great food. However, Adam Richman looks for the best pig-out food. And boy does this show make me want to become fat again. The show is divided into two parts. In the first part, Richman finds local legendary pig-out spots and finds their most famous sandwich. In the second part he engages in ridiculous eating contests — eating massive burgers, grilled cheese sandwiches, omlettes and seven pounds of steak. It’s ridiculos but so much fun to watch. Richman, our host, is the main reason this show works. His boyish boisterousness, everyman quality and his unabashed love of food makes you root for him during every competition. You like this guy and you’d go eat with him any day.

Internet: Put It on the Board- ESPN’s Fantasy Focus Football Podcast is the Best!
I’ve been thinking of a non-self-promoting way to get the ‘Net involved in this column and I realized that the perfect way to start it would be by featuring my favorite podcast. The ESPN Fantasy Focus Football Podcast is my favorite podcast because it’s informative at the same time as being a lot of fun. Hosts Matthew Berry and Nate Ravitz are the perfect odd couple of fantasy football. Berry, a former Hollywood writer turned fantasy guru, is a marvelously charming, self-deprecating and quick-witted personality. He can find humor in anything, especially himself and he’s not afraid to make outrageous challenges (the podcast crew will be facing The Jonas Brothers in softball this year due to a Berry Challenge). Ravitz is a brilliant fantasy writer who seems to revel in his job — pointing out Berry’s mistakes. The podcast also features perenial podcast whipping boy and producer, Pod Vader. The life-long Patriots fan is often the subject of the hosts’ jokes and wrath (and rightfully so), leading to some great comedy. The podcast also features a number of celeb drop-ins ranging from NFL players to even ESPY host Seth Meyer. Oh and when it comes to actual fantasy football advice, updates and opinions, these guys are dynamite.

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. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @BodkinWrites


  1. Cool. You got to introduce me to that podcast. OMR is good but I still prefer the ambiance of La Familia.