Self High-Five: What I Learned This Summer

bill bodkin’s column returns as he looks back on the summer of 2010

Here’s 10 things that I learned on my lack of a summer vacation…

1.) I Have a Pop Culture Vagina:
When you’re a single guy living on your own, you can watch whatever you want, whenever you want. Want to start watching Point Break at 3AM? Go for it! However, since I’ve moved in with the future Mrs., the TV
is no longer mine. Thus the acquisition of my pop culture vagina. The days of action movies and pro wrestling
are gone and they’ve been replaced with reality TV and the Gilmore Girls. My 37-inch flat screen has been inundated with Real Housewives, Bridezillas, Say Yes to the Dress, What Not to Wear, Project Runway, The Rachel Zoe Project, Jersey Shore, Jerseylicious, Keeping Up with the Kardashians, MTV’s Teen Mom, 16 & Pregnant, Four Weddings, The Hills, The City, and Degrassi: The Next Generation since the day we moved in together. I can tell you all about empire wastes and cute tops, what housewife trash “tweeted” the other and how Geeeeeeary is such a bad dad. My future wife says that I’ve become more well-rounded by watching these shows. I can’t argue with her, she’s too smart, too practical and she bought the TV (and Blu-Ray player) for me. She has the won war.

2.) Logan Fowler is the Luis Sojo of this Blog:
Yes, our friend Logan J. Fowler is the blogging equivalent to the most reliable bench player in baseball history- Luis Sojo. Sojo, although sparingly used, always came up with a clutch play for the Bronx Bombers when they needed it the most. Much like Sojo, a Logan Fowler blog always seems to pop up in my inbox when I least expected and most needed it. With Brent covering Barack Obama visiting a sub shop in Edison (that one still boggles my mind) and me covering the Jersey Shore, LF has come through all summer long with blogs about Green Day, Comic Book Movies (the most read blog in one day on our site) Scott Pilgrim and make you think about death and get sad and stuff (Scott Pilgrim reference for the win).

3.) Food Shows Out with the Old, In with The New: My love for food shows is well-documented on this blog. However, this summer I have totally fallen out of love with Top Chef, one of my long-standing favorite TV programs. Hyper-competitiveness has replaced culinary creativity resulting in a cast of “chefstants” (both on the Top Chef: Masters series and Top Chef: DC) that are completely and utterly unlikeable. In Top Chef’s place I have found culinary kinship with Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations and Man vs. Food. Both shows have completely engaging yet totally opposite leading men — the swaggering, sozzled and charming rock star chef turned celebrated author and food demi-god Anthony Bourdain and the funny and lovable foodie turned food challenge icon, Adam Richman. The two hosts are the kind of people you want to join on their culinary journeys; you revel in their humor-filled, honest, no frills food commentary. You salivate at the unique and monstrous food that they are able to consume. You are jealous of the hole-in-the-wall culinary oasis that they discover. It’s the human touch — something that Top Chef has completely lost this year. Maybe Top Chef: Just Desserts can bring the food franchise back to its sweet, lovable roots.

4.) MTV’s Jersey Shore MADE Seaside Heights
I have the inside track on Seaside Heights — covering the popular shore town for my fulltime job. The people of Seaside were very ambivalent towards the guidorific reality series. Some people loved it — any press is good press, right? Others felt the show’s nonstop sex, shots and Snooki punches would bring the young crowds, but drive families away in droves. The answer to who was right would be found out in the summer. Luckily for everyone in Seaside, the show brought in an insane amount of people — both nightlife lovin’ party people AND families. The attraction of the show brought in people from the world over, including actor Vince Vaughn who rented out the crew’s old house for a weekend (at a rumored 15K a night). When the show returned to Seaside, the crowds seemingly quadrupled as gaggles of people wanting to snap photos and challenge the cast to fist fights surrounded MTV camera crews. Local bar and restaurants (including The Aztec, where the Situation showed up during Memorial Day Weekend) were frequented by the crew throughout their shoot — guaranteeing a major crowd and big bucks. When Season 3 debuts, the town will be in its off-season, we’ll see if this show can bring crowds to the sleepy shore town in their normally dead period.

5.) But Sometimes the Fiancee is right about TV…
The loss of my remote usually results in tears (read: terrible reality TV). But there is the occasion where my fiancee turns me on to a show that I really learn to love. Case in point — Buffy the Vampire Slayer which is currently in late-night syndication on the LOGO channel. I did watch the show occasionally during its’ run back in the late 90s/early 00s, for the same reason I watched Dawson’s Creek — it had hot females (in Buffy’s case Sarah Michelle Gellar and Alyson Hannigan, Katie Holmes in Dawson). [Note: I’m not a SMG or KH fan anymore, but as for Alyson Hannigan, she’s still in my Top 5). This superficial reason stopped me from enjoying a terrifically written show that, due to the brilliance of writer Joss Whedon, deftly blended comedy, action, horror, pop culture, teenage issues and the supernatural into one neat, convincing and highly entertaining ball.

6.) Movies Don’t Have the Staying Power They Used To…
I’m a movie geek. And that all started when I was struck with a bad case of asthma back in ’96. I was indoors a lot due to my constant coughing and then by the skin reactions I’d get from inhalers. So I watched a lot of movies and read about them in the daily paper. One thing I always checked out was the box office returns section in the Monday papers. I still check the box office weekly on IMDB and I noticed something — summer movies don’t have staying power anymore. I can remember when a film like The Rock, which opened on Memorial Day Weekend in 1996 was still in the Top 10 box office list with pretty generous returns in mid-July. However it even blockbusters like Iron Man 2 can’t hang in the multiplex let alone Top 10 for for more than a month. By it’s 8th week in release Iron Man 2 had been knocked out the Top 10, barely scraping in 2 million. Now this doesn’t apply for every film but it just seems like there were more blockbusters with more staying power back in the day then there are now.

7.) 101.9 RXP is simply amazing…
Fans of rock ‘n’ roll have it rough. Hip-hop, pop and country dominate the world of popular music thus the lack of good rock radio stations — at least in New York/New Jersey area. Hard rock formats cling to bands like Godsmack and Nickelback and try to prop up flavor of the month acts like Cage the Elephants as “good” rock music. The other rock stations, are solid, yet predictable classic rock stations, spinning “Layla” for the millionth time. If you haven’t tuned in yet, I highly recommend Rock 101.9 RXP. Fronted by legendary music aficionado Matt Pinfield, RXP brings a wonderfully exciting blend of classic rock (ranging from Zeppelin to New Wave), grunge/alt rock and the new brand of garage-influenced hipster rock. As their slogan says — “the only rock station in New York playing new music.” It’s just awesome that I can turn on this station and listen to some vintage Bruce followed by Band of Horses or Arcade Fire followed by Metallica. It’s a great way to bring music lovers jaded by the lack of quality rock and upstart rock fans who don’t want to be inundated with nine hours of Allmans together in one collective space.

8.) I Love Burgers
One day, I swear, I will write my burger blog — chronicling my cross-country love affair with the burger. Until then, I will just say that 2010 was the summer of the burger. I know that this en masse consumption of red meat isn’t particularly healthy, but when you’re on your 10th hour of work and it’s only Monday and you’ve got another few to go, being culinarily creative isn’t an option. I want comfort food and I want it now. So give me a burger, before I starve to death. Yes, whether it was cheap and easy (Burger King’s Buck Double) or highly creative (Bar A’s Cobb Salad Burger), I gorged on all sorts of burgers. However, if you’re looking for my all-time favorite burger, I must admit, it was not consumed this summer. No, as pictured, my favorite burger came from The Burger Bar at The Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. Acclaimed French chef Hubert Keller created Burger Bar — and I love him for it. A menu filled with delicious burgers, craft beers and a Twinkie milkshake. This is my heaven. If you’re ever in Vegas, this is a MUST.

9.) Christina Hendricks….HOT
Okay, so I don’t often go into things like this on the blog, but I was running out of Top 10 ideas. Brent and I  often have this discussion about what actresses are in our Top 5. That’s in Top 5 hottest actresses, nothing impure people. C’mon! For years the answer for my #1 has always been Natalie Portman. That’s a pretty solid answer if you ask me. However, this year, in particularly this summer, Ms. Portman has been dethroned. That’s right Amidala, no more crown for you! (You’ll always have a special place in this blog’s heart– especially when Black Swan comes out. Wowza!)

My new #1 is Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks. Not only is this woman a scarlet bombshell, but, much like Ms. Portman, she can totally act. I know, you probably don’t believe me. Yes, I know she’s hot, see the title of this entry. But her acting chops and the fact she was on the cult classic Firefly helped propel her #1 status. On Mad Men, I’ve always thought she was one of the more underrated performers on the show, oft looked over due to the presence of the amazing Jon Hamm or her female co-stars January Jones and Elisabeth Moss. However, Ms. Hendricks got her due this year with an Emmy nod. I could easily see a 2nd nom coming as her work this year, has been outstanding. Now if she could only get good movie roles.

10.) Bold, Early Oscar Predictions…
Why not? Right now I’m looking to Inception, Toy Story 3, The Social Network, True Grit, Blue Valentine, Black Swan, The Tourist, 127 Hours, Fair Game and The King’s Speech for Best Picture. Best Director — Christopher Nolan, The Coen Brothers, David Fincher, Darren Aronofsky and Danny Boyle? Wow! I’m looking for Jeff Bridges (True Grit) to get a second nom, Jesse Eisenberg and either JT or Andrew Garfield for Best Supporting Actor (all from Social Network) and Michelle Williams to get nominated for Blue Valentine. I’m a bit skeptical on any acting from Inception to get the nod, but I do think you’ll have at least three from The Kids Are Alright (Actress for Annette Benning and Julianne Moore, Supporting Actor for Ruffalo). Bold Prediction- Portman takes the Oscar for Best Actress for Black Swan. Also look for a strong Michael Douglas push for either Solitary Man or Wall Street 2 in the Best Actor Category.

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 COMMENT

  1. Buffy is awesome!!! And I think your pop culture vagina has been cured somewhat, thanks to your most recent purchase! 😉