So Long, Poconos

(This … sniff sniff … looks like the last blog post I’m going to be able to write. I likely won’t have time to file a Weekend Fun Guide tomorrow. I’ll try, but it looks unlikely right now. Keep an eye on the Facebook page if there are any updates to that plan. You should know this already, but I love each and every one of you, my readers. Thanks for eight great years in the Poconos.)

“Smell ya later.”

In one of my favorite Simpsons episodes when Lisa dates Nelson the bully for an all-too-brief period, they inevitably break up. Even as pre-teens, they both knew they were too different to make it work.

But instead of making a big scene, Lisa doesn’t want to say good-bye and permanently cut off ties with Nelson.

Instead, she chooses to use Nelson’s signature sign-off, “Smell ya later.” It’s endearing, heartfelt and makes you believe those two crazy kids might possibly cross paths again.

*FF to the 14-minute mark*

So that’s what I’ll say, Poconos. Smell ya later.

This is my last column I’ll be writing for the Pocono Record or for PopRox, the local entertainment and pop culture blog I started in 2007. Actually, if you’re reading this in the Sunday paper, I’m already gone.

If you’re familiar with blogging, you’ve probably have heard of “tags.” They’re “search engine optimization” words that relate to what you’re writing about so that people searching those terms on Google or Bing will find your blog.

As a way to go through old times, just thought I’d share the words I’ve tagged most — the subjects I’ve written about most — in the last four years since I’ve had a tag-supported blog:

the winner. not that they care.

Avengers — 56 tags
I joked in early 2012 that I would attempt to trudge through one blog entry without mentioning Avengers. I failed. “Avengers” the model of how a movie franchise should be built in today’s entertainment world, the perfect mesh of brilliant quality and blatant capitalism.

The Office — 55 tags
It sure helped that for two years, one of its top writers and producers — and FOP (Friend of PopRox) — was Stroudsburg grad Daniel Chun.

Mad Men — 53 tags
These were for the 10 other people that actually watch “Mad Men,” while the hundreds of other readers rolled their eyes and scrolled to the part where I wrote about a TV show being canceled.

Dark Knight/Dark Knight Rises — 49 tags
The Dark Knight came out in 2008, a little bit before I was able to use tags, so this would almost definitely be No. 1 if that was taken into account. But let’s just say when two movies combine to gross more than $2 billion worldwide, I’m interested.

Some form of Glee — 48 tags
I’m off Glee for now. I’m pretty sure it’s beyond a point of no return, and I don’t have time for hate-watching.

this was a given.

Spider-Man/Amazing Spider-Man — 45 tags
My favorite literary character. (Not a joke.)

Community — 44 tags
Helped by the whole Chevy Chase-Dan Harmon thing last year.

Sherman Theater — 38 tags
Pretty much tells you that in my time here, it was the dominant concert force in the Poconos. Not that we didn’t know that already.

Sons of Anarchy — 33 tags
Kind of surprised at this one. Didn’t think I wrote about it this much.

Fringe — 33 tags
Full disclosure — when I mentioned Fringe in the Pocono Record’s Afternoon Update, or when I tagged it on the blog, it got more hits. Even though I loved the show, it was something I made sure to write about.

Friday Night Lights — 32 tags
At a disadvantage because it hasn’t been on in three years. Yet I still feel sorry for anyone who didn’t watch it because they thought it was just a football show.

ahhhh. the gus face.

Breaking Bad — 32 tags
And I didn’t even start watching until June 2011 while my wife was on maternity with our second daughter, Caroline. We burned through three seasons in less than a month just in time for the 11 p.m. rebroadcast of the season premiere in July.

Arrested Development — 25 tags
Worth noting that former Record ad sales guru Dan Boback is the one that turned me on to it and loaned me the DVDs, and now it’s in my top 10 comedies of all time.

And that’s it, Poconos. Smell ya later.

Michael Sadowski is about to be a freelance writer who can be contacted, now and forever, at sadowski_michael@yahoo.com.

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Uh Oh … the Last Links Blog Post?

I’ve put this off as long as I could, but just so everyone knows, this is my last week at the Pocono Record. I’ve been asked to write a farewell column as my final Sunday PopRox column in the paper, so that’s where I’ll save all the mushy stuff for. I’ll post it here tomorrow, and try to do a Fun Guide for Friday. But as you can imagine, it’s a little crazy around here right now, so i might not get to the Fun Guide on Friday.

it's ok, james. i know you're sad. it will all be ok. just sign the petition and who knows, maybe i'll stick around.

But just so everyone knows, PopRox, on this site at least, looks like it’s going away. And if it’s not going away, it won’t be me writing it. That’s good news or bad news, depending on your perspective. I am contemplating continuing it on another platform, but I’m not sure if it’s worth the time and energy it will take to do it the right way, the way I’ve tried to do it over the last five years. (FIVE YEARS!?!?!?)

At the same time, I don’t necessarily want to end the blog. There are dozens of pop culture items a day I want to comment on, and there is no one around for me to complain to. That’s where you guys have come in. You’re my sounding board. My wife, co-workers, kids and friends thank you. Otherwise, they would be the ones having to listen to me piss and moan about how Will Smith is a fraud, about how AMC is incredibly stupid for letting Breaking Bad go when it’s still got gas left in the tank or about how I’ll never understand why more people didn’t watch Friday Night Lights.

So I’m at a crossroads of what to do.

Tell you what — I’ll leave it up to you. I just set up an online petition that you can sign if you want to see me keep this blog going somehow, somewhere. If online petitions are sooooo 2008 for you, hit the comments down yonder or head to the Facebook page and unleash your pain and misery on me, since I know you’ll be sad to see PopRox go. Or you could just be old fashioned about the whole thing and send me an email giving me one good reason why you want me to keep the blog going.

Fair enough? Cool. You have until Friday to do it.

Some quick links:

my nevernudes! i've been looking for those.

Holy crap I forgot to post the start date for Arrested Development last week. It’s May 26!!! Set your Netflix for “crash” at 12:01 a.m. On that note, does anyone know how long it is before you can get another free month of Netflix? Like, you cancel your free month, then you want to start again? I canceled my free month in mid-January, so I’m hoping I can get another free month by the time AD starts. My wife canceled her free month in February 2012, so maybe she’d be eligible for a free month on her account. Lemme know if you know the answer. It’s, umm, pretty important. Although here’s an interesting question — what if the new Arrested Development sucks?

I didn’t like the original Psycho, thought it was whored out by sequels in the 80s and didn’t like the remake. Sooooo I’m not exactly the target audience for Bates Motel, the new show on A&E. But if you are one of the 4.5 million that do consider it your thing, then you’re in luck because A&E already has picked up a second season. I know I’ve had a couple people ask if I was watching, but there is NO WAY I’d be able to get into this show just on sheer numbers. Thanks to the NCAA Tournament, my impending move and the Phillies coming back, I’m so far behind on TV that I feel almost like a normal person, only watch like 6 or 7 shows at a time. I’m four episodes back on Glee and The Following, three on Happy Endings and Once Upon a Time, a couple on Modern Family, one on New Girl, and don’t even ask me where I left off with Arrow. The Middle, Vampire Diaries, Raising Hope and a couple others have fallen off my radar almost completely. The only shows in the last month I’ve kept up on are Walking Dead, Justified, The Americans, Community, Parks and Rec, The Office, Suburgatory, The Good Wife, now Mad Men and, surprisingly, Hannibal (which I really liked). All that, and I’m about to get free HBO and Starz for two years. If I had to rank where Bates Motel would rank in current shows I’d like to catch up on, it would probably be in the triple digits.

getting sick of this picture yet? i kinda am.

While it seems like some strictly niche, critically loved cable shows like Sons of Anarchy, Breaking Bad and Walking Dead gain viewers between seasons because of Netflix or Amazon, Mad Men is stagnant. So it seems like it’s time to face facts — Mad Men will never be a ratings winner any more than it is right now. If you’re not into it by now, after six years of your pompous, rich, white friends telling you how much you NEED to watch it as if your life depended on it (sorry, me included, except for the rich part), then you’re not going to be into it. Which is fine, we’ll take our conversation to Twitter and be pretty happy about it. But we’ll stop telling you to watch it. Promise. We know now that you don’t want to.

Stay classy, MTV. After pulling the plug on the teen-rednecks-gone-wild-show Buckwild because it would be “inappropriate” to continue after the death of Shain Gandee, and earning ethical praise for pulling it, the channel has decided to air a special finale episode this week following a full-day season 1 marathon. Because that’s appropriate? They’re kidding right? What’s the difference in “appropriate” to air a whole season of a dead guy whose death may or may not have been indirectly caused by the show, or just one hour of him? Every network on TV is there to make money, we all know this. But it just seems like MTV is there to pander to the absolute lowest common denominator more than any other channel. The balls on MTV to try and pass this along to us and make us think they’re being all ethical when they’re just trying to cash in one last time.

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Hey, Did You Notice the Whole “Death” Thing Last Night on Mad Men?

(MAJOR SPOILER ALERTS FOR MAD MEN!!! IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE SIXTH SEASON PREMIERE YET AND STILL PLAN ON IT, DON’T READ THIS. SERIOUSLY, STOP NOW.)

Don Draper has run from a lot of things in the five years we’ve been watching him.

He’s run from his wife. Well, now he’s run from two wives.

He’s run from his family — his true family as well as the one he made himself.

Most importantly, he’s run from himself, whatever that definition of himself might be.

welcome back, my good man. we've missed you.

But maybe all that running was related. Maybe it wasn’t separate running, maybe it was all interconnected running from the one thing Don can’t avoid, and the one thing that scares him the most — his own mortality. And if we gleaned anything from the season six premiere of Mad Men last night, that was it. That Don Draper is not just scared of death, he’s petrified of it.

It’s not just his death, either. He’s scared of anything death-related. It stops him in his tracks, effs up anything he’s doing at the time and turns him into a completely different person. If someone asked you to sum up Don Draper in five words, four of them would revolve somehow around the word “cool,” like “collected,” “calm” and those type of things.

Get him around a dying doorman? A GI destined for death in Vietnam? A doctor who just so happens to handle death? He turns into a helpless, blubbering moron. He either freezes in his tracks, gives away a bride of a man he just met or babbles on like a schoolgirl trying to figure out her algebra homework. None of which ever happens to Don in normal, everyday situations — it only seems to happen to him when death is on the line! A HA HA! A HA HA!!! A HA …

And just for good measure, in case you hadn’t realized how uncomfortable Don is around death, let’s get him blotto drunk at a dry funeral of a woman he barely knew and have him interrupt the eulogy by randomly yakking on the floor. Sweet.

So we’ve got it, Don is scared the death of death. No need to pull out the baseball bat knock us around with it anymore, Matt Weiner. He’s afraid of dying, he’s afraid of death, check and check. Let’s move on now, shall we?

But hoooold on, we can’t move on just yet because now we have to ask ourselves why we’re being beaten over the head with this new information. It can’t just be random and not thought out. We’ve got to be seeing some foreshadowing here, right? Seems pretty obvious to me …

Someone is going to die in Mad Men this year.

I’m not talking about someone random like Roger’s mother or his shoeshine boy, it certainly seems like someone majorly important in Don’s life — and the life of Mad Men — is going to die this year. We’re even talking more major than Burt Cooper, who, all in the name of foreshadowing, showed up for two minutes in the premiere at the funeral. And more major than Lane, who you can barely tell is gone.

So let’s start the speculation of who’s going to be dying this year in Mad Men:

trouble a-brewin'

DON DRAPER: It would seem to be the most obvious choice. And it would take the show in a really interesting direction. But this shows dies on the table without Don. ODDS: 100-1

BETTY DRAPER: I like this one. She was only in about half the episodes last year, so it’s almost like we’ve been getting primed for her departure. It brings into play the kids going to live with Don and Megan, creating a whole new dynamic for their relationship. ODDS: 2-1

MEGAN DRAPER: She finds out about Don and the neighbor and she offs herself right in front of him. Bing, bang boom, no muss, no fuss. I seriously doubt anyone would even miss her if she was gone. It’s almost too easy. ODDS: Even

SALLY DRAPER: She’s about to get roped into something nasty, I just don’t know what. But you better believe it’s going to be nasty. Probably not nasty enough to lead to her death, but nasty nonetheless. Wouldn’t it be interesting if it were Don that had to watch over that and guide her through it? ODDS: 20-1

ROGER STERLING: The other person in the show who’s not exactly handling death very well these days. In the span of a day after his mom’s death, he propositioned his first ex-wife, decided to invest in or fund some cockamamie refrigeration plan and then broke down bawling at the sight of a shoeshine kit. So he doesn’t exactly have it all together right now. It’s hard to envision to show without him, though. ODDS: 5-1

PETE CAMPBELL: Don might end up doing it himself if Pete doesn’t shut his yapper. But too easy. And without him, we don’t get Trudy. And I think you know my feelings on that. ODDS: 35-1

Random thoughts on the premiere:

ok, don. you win. it's probably worth it.

--A super big welcome back to Linda Cardellini! I’m not totally happy that she’s gotta be the one luring Don back into his life of infidelity, but whatever gets her back working in quality television, I’m all for it.

--The next time I get drunk enough to puke — and there will be a next time, thanks — I hope for two things: 1. That it won’t be in public, much less at a funeral. 2. That there will be someone around as cool as Roger Sterling to come up with kick-butt excuses like, “He only said what everyone was thinking.” This was the equivalent of running up the score on an undermanned opponent. Roger didn’t need to drop yet another hall-of-fame one-liner to cement his spot in one-liner history, so instead of taking a knee, he decided to go for three more touchdowns in the last minute just for the hell of it. The game is now unbelievably out of hand, and Roger can’t be touched in the world of one-liners.

--I’m a little scared of Bitch Peggy. I’m not alone, right?

--I never saw the whole Don-and-the-neighbor thing coming. I probably should have, but I completely whiffed on it. Maybe I just didn’t want to believe, maybe I was hoping he had somehow changed or grew. Let this be a lesson — Don Draper will never give up womanizing. It’s a psychological addiction. He even said he wants to stop, but it’s obvious now he can’t. Well it was obvious five years ago, but apparently I’m just catching on now.

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Mad Men Says Nothing — And Everything

Mad Men does loads of things better than just about any show on television.

But something it never seems to get credit for is its consistently excellent use of nothingness — no music, no sound effects, no dialogue — to convey its most emotional moments.

Ahead of Sunday’s two-hour season six premiere — on AMC at 9 — here are three of the most impressive non-speaking moments in the first five years of Mad Men, the best show on TV:

yup. that's the look.

Moment: “And who are you supposed to be?
Episode: The Gypsy and the Hobo, aired Oct. 25, 2009
It’s the best moment of the series, and the most marvelous blend of acting, directing and writing the show has ever given us. Don finally broke down and told his wife Betty of his secret, pre-Korean War life of squalor that he went to almost silly lengths to try and protect. It was the first time we saw Don — not Dick Whitman — completely and literally at the full mercy of another human being. He couldn’t weasel out of what Betty had accused him of, and in a way, he didn’t want to. Emotionally naked, his reward for being broken down psychologically was to take the kids trick-or-treating. Lucky him. The kids ring the doorbell, and the homeowner, seemingly sensing Don’s utter vulnerability, looks him straight in the eyes and asks the question Don’s asked himself for more than a decade: “And who are you supposed to be?” talking about his lack of costume, but inadvertently asking Don to own up for every lie he’s told. The reply is a one-second shot of Don’s face, which is mixed with embarrassment, confusion and horror all at the same time. With no warning, it’s a cut to black for the end of the episode. It was a gut punch for the viewer, and at the same time, the comeuppance we just knew Don had coming. His punishment wasn’t the loss of his family, it was the loss of the power in his relationship, one of the strongest ways he identified himself. And we saw it all in his face in that one-second shot.

smoldering.

Moment: Don locks eyes with Joan
Episode: The Other Woman, season 4, episode 11, aired May 27, 2012
We’ve always known Don and Joan had something together, you need a meat cleaver to cut the sexual tension between them. It’s been insinuated at least a dozen times that something happened between them years ago, long before we started following the up and downs of Sterling Cooper, or Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, or whatever it will be now since poor Lane is no longer with us, to the great delight of Pete. But we’ve never found out exactly what that something is, and we’ll probably never find out. However long it’s been since it happened, the two have obviously developed more than just animal lust. They truly love each other in a platonic, respectful way and it doesn’t look as if anything sexual is ever going to happen between them. That doesn’t mean they don’t want to — and that new love they have for each never burned as real as it did here. The morning after Joan sold herself to secure the Jaguar account, she and Don lock eyes to try and non-verbally figure out what the other knows. Their stare is even more significant when we learn later that Don told her not to sell herself — only an hour too late.

Moment: The final good-bye
Episode: Tomorrowland, season four finale, aired Oct. 17, 2010
At this point, I think we can all agree that Don and Betty don’t like each other. Fair? Fair. Now, the more complex question — did they ever love each other? Or did they get together out of 1950s convenience? Maybe Betty just wanted to social climb, and maybe Don just wanted some arm candy to trot out in front of clients. If that was the case, they both got what they wanted out of the marriage that ended after season four. The final moment between the two as official husband and wife was telling of how both viewed their past and future. Betty hands over her key to the house while the two are alone in the empty kitchen as they sell the house. She congratulates Don on his surprising, quick nuptials to Megan, he thanks her, and they walk away. They cross each other’s paths while they do, then exit through opposite doors in divergent directions — a perfectly simple metaphor for how the two spent their lives together.

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You’re All Looking Forward to Another Late Night Feud

Links:

leave it to leno to spoof a song no man under 30 knows. well played.

(UPDATE: Of course as soon as I hit the “publish” button, the news became official. Jay Leno is leaving The Tonight Show next spring, and Jimmy Fallon will be taking over the hosting duties. This … this could be awesome. Anyway, this is what I thought when it was only moderately kinda official …)

I’m salivating. I’m sitting here with drool running down my chin thinking about all the possibilities of everything that could go masterfully, wonderfully wrong with the whole Jay Leno-Jimmy Fallon-Seth Meyers succession, and how I’m going to love every single, solitary second of it. It’s going to be the most beautiful train wreck since … the last time NBC effed everything up in its Tonight Show succession plan. How can NBC decide to go down this road again the same way it did three years ago? The mess made by the whole Leno-Conan thing that didn’t go away for almost two years, from the time Conan officially left The Late Night Show in 2009 until the time he went to TBS in November 2010. That was 20 months of hellishly bad publicity for NBC, the loss of any young, hipster credibility they had before since replacing Conan with Leno to anyone under 40 is like telling a LeBron fan that Jon Konkack was a better post player and the overriding reality that they would need to go through this again in less than three years. That’s colossal blunder everyone — including me — let NBC off the hook for in 2010. Even the most ardent Conan fans saw the ratings numbers and knew why NBC was making the change for the short-term. But in the long-term — and three years out isn’t actually long-term — we glossed over that NBC was inevitably going to be stuck in the same, exact predicament pretty soon. That’s what happens when you bring back an old guy (Leno will be 63 this month) who couldn’t reach a young viewer if he had 100-foot arms. I watched Leno the other night to see my friend Jason Farmer on it. It was the first time I had watched Leno in years, I just find him painfully unfunny. I decided I’d watch the monologue with an open mind, and see if he’d gotten any better, edgier or funnier. He has not. He may have gotten worse, if that’s possible. I honestly wonder how he gets people in the audience to laugh at him. And that’s the guy NBC decided to bring back at the risk of going through another 18 months of awful publicity just three years later. You’d like to think Leno had more of a say in it this time and went to NBC himself and said, “I’m done, let’s do this,” but it doesn’t seem that way the way Leno’s skewering the network on pretty much a nightly basis. Four years ago, there’s no way NBC could possibly have seen the avalanche of sh!t that was about to come its way. Now they know. And it certainly seems like they’re headed right back into it. At least Leno and Fallon are having fun with it.

56 is probably a good age to hang up the suit

There might not be a more together, competent movie studio than Marvel right now. It’s a lesson in how to run a movie studio. Someone — be it Stan Lee, whomever at Disney, or studio head Kevin Fiege — had a vision, laid it out on the table and told everyone else who works there to make it happen. And that’s exactly what happened. That vision is being executed flawlessly right now (right, for Natalie Portman in Thor, that goes without saying) and Marvel is already touting its visions for “Phase 2,” which starts with Iron Man 3 in May and then includes Thor 2 in November, Captain America 2 in April 2014, Guardians of the Galaxy in August 2014 and Avengers 2 in May of 2015. That’s a money-making factory of movies — and it’s only Phase 2. There’s still a Phase 3! And though that’s all that’s planned right now, you can bet that in some office of Marvel, there is someone whose only job is to read every Avengers comic book ever made to come up with the best scenario for Phase 4, with an Avengers 4 premiering in 2021. By that time, Robert Downey Jr. will be 56 and ready to hand off to the West Coast Avengers to start a whole new phase keeping some of the team intact (Hawkeye, Ant-Man) and introduce a whole new set of characters (Wonder Man, Mockingbird). Why no one ever seriously attempted to make comic book movies other than Batman and Superman is beyond me.

I’m getting ready to name This is the End as my most anticipated movie of the summer over Iron Man 3, the Wolverine and Man of Steel. How can this thing go wrong??? I didn’t laugh as much at the second trailer as I did at the first trailer (which I still think is a first-ballot Trailer Hall of Fame lock), and I think Craig Robinson could end up bringing the whole movie down from what the trailers have shown. But this looks like the funniest movie since The Hangover, at least in the trailers. If it goes wrong, it will be my biggest disappointment of the summer.

all grown'd up

You know who won’t be disappointed with anything in the movie? Emma Watson, who certainly seems like she’s about to engineer the most impressive image change in years. She curses like a sailor in the trailer for This is the End, and that’s just in the trailer. Then Danny McBride makes fun of her (“Hermione just stole all our sh!t“). She’s got a Sophia Coppola indie movie coming out in April in which she plays a bad @ss. And how is she starting her promotion tour of the whole thing? By sporting midriff tattoos half nekked on the cover of GQ. Bravo! She needs to give her management team a raise, right now, no questions asked. By the end of the summer, you won’t even remember she was in some wizard-magic-something movie. Wait, what was it called again?

Wanna hear something shocking? HBO decided to renew Game of Thrones for a fourth season after it delivered its biggest audience yet for the season premiere on Sunday. I know, right? It’s crazy! HBO has probably found its next big thing.

In news I’d rather ignore but can’t seem to, the Finding Nemo sequel is going to be called Finding Dory. Great! I thought Pixar would just stick to the formula and have them find Nemo again. But as long as they’re looking for a completely different fish, then yeah, the whole thing will be different now. I’m in!

Got too busy with other stuff to post The Wolverine trailer that premiered last week, but maybe that’s because it’s the most blah trailer for a comic book movie I’ve seen in a while. It’s almost like they didn’t even try. “Here’s Wolverine, here’s his claws, here he is with his shirt off, we know you’re showing up, whatevs, is this thing over yet?” You would think with a whole new chapter of the life of Wolverine, the potential to keep this going in a new set of X-Men movies, his appearance in the X-Men sequel — wouldn’t they want to get this right and kick off a whole new Wolverine? That’s what the movie is supposed to be, a whole new Wolverine. But if it is, we don’t get much of a hint of that. Looks like the same old, same old, introducing some new mutants and making Wolverine fight them. Didn’t the audience (and especially fans) already reject that idea with the first Wolverine spinoff? Well, guess what, we get to do it all again this time. You would think Fox would do everything in its power to make sure that wouldn’t be the message sent with the initial trailer, but it sure looks like that’s what’s happening to me. TRAILER GRADE: C-

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Walking Dead Season Finale Recap: Just Let Us Watch

Let’s start by talking about what Walking Dead is not.

#carlisright

It is not an action show. It is not a show about zombies. Or zombie killing. Or human killing. Or any killing of any kind, for that matter. It is not about gross, gratuitous scenes of flesh being torn from people’s bones.

Here’s what The Walking Dead is:

A riveting but deliberately slow-moving, character-driven story about extreme survival and what happens to people and civilization as a whole when by some remarkable set of circumstances, they are forced to deal with the reality of the possible extinction of the human race. It’s a story about human emotion in the most trying times imaginable.

That’s it, folks. Everything else is just window dressing, bones threw at the zombie-addicted masses who are no different than the Romans in the Colosseum clamoring for more blood. Sooner or later, the writers are going to have Rick and Daryl go on a zombie-killing spree then turn around and go …

And they’ll be right to do it. The typical rabid fans of Walking Dead are both ridiculously loyal but also silly in their over-inflated expectations. They complained last year with how slow the whole farmhouse season played out, but seemed more content with this whole prison season. Why? What changed?

Last year everyone complained because they were stuck at Hershel’s farm for a whole season and didn’t really do anything. Weren’t they basically cooped up at the prison this whole year with an occasional run to Woodbury or a peace negotiation somewhere in between?

There was one change — the Governor and the whole Woodbury angle, so that must have been what made it better, right? Well no, apparently not, since fans were pissed off that the Governor was watered down from the comic book (which I’ve never read, but always consider getting into it) and that David Morrisey wasn’t very convincing. What else do they want? I spent much of this season trying to figure the Governor out, and along the way, I found myself getting a little bored with his act of talking about of both sides of his mouth while successfully cloaking his clearly insane side.

the governor be crazy, yo

But once he was able to let his freak flag fly when he became obsessed both with keeping Andrea in the fold and exacting revenge on Michone, I was in. Now that he decided to just slaughter his own people, I’m even more on board with the Governor. His true self — a maniacal, crazy, delusional, power-hungry d-bag — is much more interesting than his fake-@ss benevolent leader of a utopia of zombie apocalypse survivors. We always knew he was crazy. We just didn’t know how crazy he actually was. Now we do, and the answer is, “very, very crazy.” So he’s fun.

But the die-hards will probably fight you on this and say die-hard things like, “If you think that’s crazy, wait til I completely spoil next season and tell you what he does next!” which is the equivalent of forcing you at gunpoint to read the last page of a book you just started. Why are fans of the book being such hipster pricks about the whole Governor thing?

TV is different from movies, it’s a slow burn of weeks, months and if you’re lucky, years of action condensed from a format that you could have banged out in a week or two if you really wanted to. So you’re ahead of the rest of us, and you think you know what’s coming. Congratulations. But stop trying to ruin it for the rest of us who actually like one of TV’s best shows, enjoy its pacing and believe that the senseless killing of innocent zombies isn’t necessary to make this show successful, or more to the point, likeable.

Some of us like it just the way it is, thank you.

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Your Poconos Easter Weekend Fun Guide

Doesn’t look like much is going on this weekend, one of the few weekends of the year I even say, “You know, I should probably slow down and maybe not go out.” It’s not exactly conducive to drinking and celebrating, ya know? That actually works out OK, I’m a little pressed for time anyway. But I did want to mention a few things:

We’re going a tad out of the area for this one, but I got the funniest email maybe ever yesterday. Not laugh-out-loud-ha-ha funny, but it was the weekend’s events at the Bethlehem Steel Stacks complex. They show indie movies usually, but this weekend they’re showing a couple revivals. And herein is where the comedy lies. Check out this double feature on its web page that you (yes you!) could take in today if you were so inclined.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show
03/29
Director:Jim Sharman. Stars: Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon and Barry Bostwick
11:30pm
The Passion of the Christ
03/29
Starring Jim Caviezel, Monica Bellucci. Directed by Mel Gibson.

As far as I can tell, that’s serious. Are there two more different movies in the history of cinema than Rocky Horror and Passion of the Christ? Is there anyone, and I mean ANYONE, that can do both movies, other than on a dare? But wait! There’s more! Here’s the movie lineup for Saturday revivals from the Bethlehem ArtsQuest website:

Blazing Saddles
03/30
Starring Gene Wilder, Cleavon Little, Harvey Korman. Directed by Mel Brooks.
10:45pm
The Rocky Horror Picture Show
03/30
Director:Jim Sharman. Stars: Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon and Barry Bostwick
11:30pm
The Passion of the Christ
03/30
Starring Jim Caviezel, Monica Bellucci. Directed by Mel Gibson.
1:15pm

Apparently didn’t think they were doing the “I’ll bet you a million bucks we don’t get one repeat customer to the Friday movies” hardcore enough. So someone upped the ante and said, “Hold on, I got one for ya, check out this triple feature I concocted!” I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anything like this. OK, so Blazing Saddles and Rocky Horror kinda overlap. But in one day, you can watched Jesus be tortured in the most gruesome, uncomfortable five minutes I’ve ever seen in the theater. Then you can see a black  man say, “Excuse me while I whip this out,” reach into his pants and watch the crowd gasp. Then you can do the Time Warp in the middle of the theater aisles. That’s it, baby. You’ll never see three more different movies played in one day at one place. Good luck trying to top it, and good luck if you want to give yourself the biggest challenge of your life and sit through all three. It should be part of a movie-watching Olympics or something.

Back to the Poconos and two great shows going on sale tomorrow at Penn’s Peak. Yeah, you heard me, I just said Rick Springfield would be a great show! Who doesn’t love Rick Springfield, really? What could you possibly have against him? Yeah, he’s straight bubble gum pop and he somehow hasn’t aged in 30 years. But if you tell me you don’t sing every word to Jessie’s Girl when it comes on at the bar — and it most likely will come on at the bar, no matter what bar, no matter what time — then you’re straight lying. LIAR!!! And that’s not even my favorite Rick Springfield song. Yeah, I have a favorite Rick Springfield song. I’m almost embarrassed, but here:

i couldn't even begin to guess how many times i listened to throwing copper.

The second one actually is a cool concert, this year’s Summerland Tour. Apparently “summerland” is code word for “90s retro alt-pop one-album wonders.” I missed that email. Can someone forward it to me? Anyway, this year’s tour is Everclear (which headlined the tour last year), Live, Filter and Sponge. It’s probably not as good as last year’s bill which had Sugar Ray, Gin Blossoms, Lit and Marcy’s Playground, but it’s pretty close. I’m more interested to see how this show does at Penn’s Peak. The venue has established itself definitively as a classic rock/jam/country place, so to move into the 90s is a big step. Hold on, I may be looking at this wrong. Is … is Live now classic rock?!?!?! Holy poop on a stick. It probably is. OK, I’m calling off the rest of this column so I can go buy a walker.

I’m back. My knees feel better already. Let’s hit up the FOPRs while we’re here. And guys, let’s not do Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door tonight, agreed? Agreed.

Joe O’Malley looks like he’s got a permanent happy hour thing going at Memorytown starting at 3:30 this afternoon. Geez, doesn’t anyone work anymore?

Flyin’ Blind is going to be at Panda’s Pub tonight starting at 9:30 p.m. You know, because it’s a weekend and all, it’s not like they wouldn’t be playing.

G is then at the Speakeasy at Pocono Manor at 9 p.m. Saturday.

You can get a double dose of Big Things tonight at Silver Lake Tavern in Dingmans Ferry, then tomorrow at the Luna Rosa in Gilbert. Two shows, no wait!

Jesse Wade is at the Beltzville Bar and Grille tonight at 9, though I’m not sure I can fully endorse the who “rowdy redneck weekend” he’s touting.

Erin McClelland is at the PourHouse in Mountainhome tonight from 7 to 10.

Bad Influence is at the Original Pocono Pub on Saturday night.

The Peter Holland Band is at Big Daddy’s in Bartonsville tonight starting at 9:30.

That’s all the time I gots, have a great holiday weekend everyone! FYI, on my way in today I saw at least four staties on the roads. You’ve been warned.

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Calling Actors Out for Saying Egotistical Things

(This is a preview of the PopRox column in Sunday’s paper. It looks different because it is. I’m not allowed to be as free-wheeling in the paper. You don’t have to study the two versions to see where it’s different, but feel free to and come back every Thursday to see the REAL version, the way it’s supposed to look and be read.)

When you’re a fan of a movie star, you tend not to notice when they become so remarkably egotistical their heads are more disproportionate than Stewie on Family Guy.

They’re the charming, wildly popular movie stars whose movies we’ve seen so many times we mistakenly feel like we know them. That leads us to give them a pass when they say things so absurd, if it was said to you by a stranger on the street you’d consider punching their right in their effing face for being such a complete douche.

But because these crazy things are being said by our favorite actors, we laugh it off, forgive and forget and fork over $12 a pop for their next 3-D movie.

Maybe we should start rethinking those decisions when it comes to our two latest offenders — Ryan Reynolds and Will Smith, two of my favorite actors who decided to take at least a brief trip off the reservation this week:

it's not his fault that he looked like the riddler from the 60s, but he's not free from blame that the movie blew chunks

RYAN REYNOLDS
What he’s done: The most underrated TV sitcom of the 90s, Two Guys a Girl and a Pizza Place; Fifteen, the model for which all Canadian teen soap operas should be based; Van Wilder, which was awful; the criminally underrated Adventureland; Definitely, Maybe and The Proposal, because he’s hot and hadn’t done romantic comedies to establish his female audience and Green Lantern. Let’s talk about that last one.

What he said: In a podcast with British movie magazine Empire, when asked about whether he’d reprise the role of Green Lantern ring holder Hal Jordan in Justice League, “Working on Green Lantern, I saw how difficult it is to make that concept palatable, and how confused it all can be when you don’t really know exactly where you’re going with it or you don’t really know how to access that world properly — that world comic book fans have been accessing for decades and falling in love with. So at this point I have very little interest in joining that kind of world. But, you know, a great script and a good director can always turn that around.

Analysis: Green Lantern is putrid, just a poorly made movie from start to finish. It’s basically an advertisement for all of the products included in its marketing package. While not all of this is the fault of Reynolds — he has to shoulder some of the blame, right? Apparently not, as he throws the entire production team directly under the back wheel of the bus, gets behind the wheel and punches down on the gas pedal.

Which is fine, I guess, if you’re cool never working again for Warner Bros., which produced Green Lantern. But not one sentence later, he says he’ll do it again if there’s a good script and director!

He’s … he’s kidding, right? “You stink, your movie stunk, it probably will stink if you do it again … but call me when you get Scorsese!”

And that’s not even the worst part! The movie bombed so badly Warners had to scrap plans for a potential franchise and lost tens of millions of dollars in production and marketing costs.

I don’t remember studios ever taking the blame, but I sure do remember 50 million other instances where they blamed the actor. So who here thinks they’d even consider bringing Reynolds back for a sequel, let alone a Justice League movie, potentially the biggest movie the studio will ever make?

No one? No one thinks that?

Sorry, Ryan. You’re alone on this one.

we're on to you.

WILL SMITH
What he’s done: Had an uncredited cameo in Kevin Smith’s Jersey Girl. Wait, has he done anything else?

What he said: According to Entertainment Weekly, on why he dropped out of playing Django in Django Unchained: “Django wasn’t the lead, so it was like, I need to be the lead. The other character was the lead!” And also (SPOILER ALERT!): “I was like, ‘No, Quentin, please, I need to kill the bad guy!’”

Analysis: Holy crow, Big Willie! You thought it was cool to tell an Oscar-winning writer and likely the most respected scribe in Hollywood this side of William Goldman how to write his movie? And you were willing to drop out of it because of that? HOW BIG IS YOUR HEAD???

You know who didn’t think the script needed to be changed? THE ACADEMY EFFING AWARDS, that’s who, as they saw past the tragic error of the bounty hunter killing the bad guy and gave Tarantino the best original screenplay Oscar.

Tarantino has built his reputation as being a no-BS actor’s writer, respecting their boundaries while challenging them and then going out for beers with them after. So I can’t even imagine what was going through Quentin’s head while he was listening to this seemingly megalomaniac wax poetic on the importance of Will Smith being the lead actor. I picture him gagging on his own puke in his mouth, but trying to keep quiet so as not to disrespect Smith.

The absolute best part of this is that Smith almost definitely is giving this interview after the Oscar nominations were released, and presumably after the Oscars were awarded. During the awards season, Jamie Foxx — who replaced the Fresh Prince as Django — was promoted as the lead actor and bounty hunter Christoph Waltz as the supporting actor. Waltz won his second Tarantino-penned Oscar. So he was so full of himself that he still decided to call Quentin out for not cow-towing to his every whim, even though Quentin was apparently right the whole time.

The balls on him! Either Smith missed the point and intention of the whole script, or he is just too involved in his own stardom to notice that Django was the star of the movie — despite not killing the bad guy.

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The Perfect Oscars Host Has Been Built Already

Links:

you're welcome, ladies.

Done and done. I’m pretty pissed off I didn’t think of this before, that Justin Timberlake should be hosting the 2014 Oscars. You can rack your brain for a week and you won’t come up with a better candidate.

Let’s go through some facts:

1. He’s universally adored by every woman on the planet. At least 20 percent of those women have a crush on him that rises to or above the level of “creepy.” They will watch.

2. He’s established himself a very funny guy working with a live comedy audience, as he can be considered a top 5 member of the Five Timer’s Club.

3. In those SNL appearances, he’s managed to turn around just about every guy to his side as “funny actor” instead of “douchebag boy band retread.”

4. There are only about three people in the world that don’t like him, and they’re all people who made money of N’Sync somehow and won’t forgive for ruining their cash cow.

5. He’s the quintessential unoffensive nice guy. He will not sing about anyone’s boobs.

And they’d be getting him young. This gives him the chance to be the next Bob Hope, hosting the show for decades. And they’d be getting a quality choice talent-wise, PR-wise and Q-score wise. Win-win. Win.

blake shelton is not worthy.

The reason for The Voice ratings debuting high supposedly have something to do with Usher and Shakira making their debut. We know the truth. Christian. Porter.

My buddy and I were talking yesterday and realized we questioned ourselves wondering if Dean Smith, the legendary basketball coach of North Carolina, was still alive or not. (He is.) That’s pretty much how I felt when I saw the news Monday that William Daniels will be appearing in Girl Meets World. “Wait, is this an Internet hoax or not? Is he still alive?” With Dean Smith, you’ll know if he’s dead or not. If you’re a basketball fan — and my buddy and I are, this discussion happened at the Wells Fargo Center on Sunday during the NCAA Tournament games — there would be a week of tributes, remembrances, funeral coverage, all that stuff. Not Michael Jackson coverage, but coverage nonetheless that you wouldn’t be able to escape as long as you’re a basketball fan. But William Daniels is in that weird fame spot where he’s famous enough to get an easy-to-miss story on the obituary page, but not enough to get any splashy front-page coverage. So yeah, that was my first reaction when I heard the news — “Is he still alive?” Answer: Yes, and he’ll turn 86 on Sunday, bucking the mandatory retirement age of high school school principals.

remember this, will? I do.

Why isn’t Will Smith getting called out for his BS explanation on why he dropped out of Django Unchained? He needed to be the lead?!?!?! You conceited prick ya! You have one of the three best writer/directors working in Hollywood right now giving you a script that could change the trajectory of your career in a positive way, and you’re telling him how to write it so that you get your egotistical jollies out of it? Did Robert DeNiro go to David O. Russell and tell him to dump Bradley Cooper so that DeNiro could be the lead? NOOOO!!! And he never would, because he knew how good the Silver Linings Playbook script was. He sucked it up, go out his second (or even third) fiddle and played it all the way to an Oscar nomination. When Will Smith is making Bad Boys 3, is he pleading with Michael Bay to reduce Martin Lawrence’s role so that you’re more of the lead? You know, when Oscar time comes around? I just lost legitimate respect for Will Smith. Will Smith has always given off the air of a grounded guy who hasn’t let Hollywood affect him, but the more you hear, the more you think that’s all an act.

did you know they drink wine on cougar town? tbs made sure you did.

Unless Cougar Town was a complete flop, TBS was going to be bringing it back for a fifth season, so it’s no surprise that it did. It invested too much in the show, and got decent results ratings-wise. It’s also a good shwo to help establish a comedy brand, since it hasn’t had a breakthrough, original comedy hit yet that the critics and hispters have been able to get behind. Everything has been broad, broad, broad, but that doesn’t seem like the way to run a cable network that isn’t USA. You could tell when Scrubs moved to ABC it was being almost primed for a quick burn-off and cancellation. Very little marketing, asking it to lead a night of comedy when it was well past its prime and in the process of introducing a new cast … it just wasn’t going to work. It was viewed as a cheap gamble. When it failed, ABC seemed pretty indifferent to pull the plug and move on. There was no emotional or financial investment. That’s the complete opposite to what TBS did with Cougar Town. The network seemed like it just landed the syndication rights for another Seth MacFarlane cartoon or something the way they pimped it. They were promoting it in September and October during its baseball playoff coverage even though it’s a decided show for women and it wasn’t premiering for almost four more months. TBS was emotionally and financially invested in Cougar Town and almost needed it to succeed. Once it did, the network had no problem re-upping for another season. And the marketing hasn’t stopped since the announcement is strategically placed two weeks before the season finale so that people who want to possibly get into it over these next couple weeks know it’s safe to.

Altogether now: “Awwwwwwww crap!” on the news that Ryan Reynolds has little interest in being in Justice League. Let’s go back to Will Smith here for a second and think of it in those terms. Is Ryan Reynolds conceited enough and so full of himself that he really thinks he’s even going to be asked back for a Justice League movie? I don’t know one person who does agree that thing is a first-rate POS from the jump, and whether that has anything to do with Reynolds (answer: only slightly) he’s going to be the one that faces the fans’ ire for effing it up. Not that a Green Lantern movie is very interesting to me in the first place anyway. Green Lantern would be one of the very, very tertiary characters of the movie, so why would they even pay Reynolds’ quote on the movie for 20 minutes of screen time when they’re going to be concentrating, obviously, on Batman and Superman? Justice League just sounds like an idea that’s never, ever going to be done correctly.

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Porter to be on The Voice Premiere Tonight

Sorry guys, weird schedule today, so I don’t have much time to post.

But I can’t let it go without mentioning that it looks like Stroudsburg musician Christian Porter will be on The Voice tonight, and he gets quite the reception from the judges on the show. Shakira even calls him “sexy.”

When Shakira calls you sexy … that’s kinda it, right? Where do you go from there in life when you’re a high school kid like Porter is? How do you find any girl at your school even remotely attractive after that? “Hey, Christian, wanna go out Friday night?” “Are you Shakira? No? Then no. No I don’t. Bugger off.”

Check out the video, it’s pretty impressive. He sings a toned down acoustic guitar version of I’m Sexy and I Know It, which is probably the smartest thing you can do. And you know what? He’s probably played that song 15 times during his gigs at Sarah Street and no one even gave a second notice. But when he plays it for Adam Levine? He wonders if it’s actually a human playing it.

Guess what I’m saying is, support the local music scene, peeps. You never know when you’re going to see something great.

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