And Finally … Our Own Parade Weekend

Stroudsburg Parade Day on Sunday, y’all. It may not be as flashy as some of its brethren, and it may be on a Sunday, so that makes it a little harder to get completely crazy, but dammit, it’s Parade Day!

if this guy got drunk, it would be ugly.

And sadly, it’s the last of our three-week celebration of St. Patrick’s Day. I don’t see Scranton doing its parade a full 10 days before St. Pat’s Day next year, so we’re stuck going back to a measly two weeks of St. Patrick’s Day boozing next year. Booooooo.

But you know what I found? No one has their specials up yet on their FB pages! I haven’t put out the call for what everyone is doing, so we’re not going to be able to do much for who has what going on. Sorry. Basically, head down Main Street, find a bar, then go somewhere else. Repeat. See if you can make it down to Rudy’s in East Stroudsburg, they’re opening at 10. So you may want to switch it up and start there, it might make the walk over the bridge a little bit easier if you do.

Here’s what else is going on this weekend anyway:

You’re too late for AWOLNATION tickets from me, I’m about to pick a winner. That doesn’t mean you can’t get over to the Sherman Theater and buy them tonight! As I’ve said this week, I’m a big fan of the three singles AWOLNATION has put out on its debut album, and I’m glad the band is finally getting some mainstream love too. Plus, now that I’ve interview lead singer Aaron Burno, he seems like a pretty decent guy, so I like them a little more now.

Just in case AWOLNATION isn’t your thing, but you had your heart set on going to the Sherman tonight, it’s your lucky day! The Living Room just keeps finding local original bands and putting them on stage (what a concept!) and they’re getting three more tonight. Awesome to see.

the only known picture of these guys without someone in a kilt.

Another cool show coming to the Sherman Theater — Dropkick Murphys on June 11, the tickets just went on sale, and I’d imagine they’ll sell out today or tomorrow. Too bad we couldn’t get them for Sunday, but something tells me their March slate is pretty booked.

Three semi-local Dave Matthews Band tickets went on sale this afternoon too, one at the Toyota Pavilion at Montage Mountain in Moosic, another at Bethel Woods in New York and PNC Arts Center in New Jersey. How long will it be before we can start making “Dave Matthews is still touring at his age?” the way we do about Springsteen, Ozzy and Jimmy Buffet? He’s 46 now, so in 2027 — when he’ll still be touring at all the same outdoor venues he’ll do every year between now and then — he’ll be 60. Is that good enough? Can we start earlier? I’d like to request 2022, please, when he gets his AARP card. Can we all agree on that? Good to see the summer shows coming out though, makes me already feel warmer.

remember -- this is what happens at the end of pond skimming. lots and lots of cold water.

But let’s not kick winter to the curb just yet. Camelback is starting to wind down for the season, and when they do, that usually means packing as much stuff into the weekends to let people know, “Hey, we’re still HERE!!!” Plus, they have to combat with the parade on Sunday, soooo … let’s have a party! The mountain is doing parking lot parties Saturday and Sunday going all morning, it’s doing pond skimming on Saturday and then on Sunday it’s the annual cardboard box derby. That’s right, people take hours out of their lives, paint a cardboard box up into some crazy designs, try to get it to go down a hill, then crash it. Skiers and snowboards are just different kinds of people.

I’ll go on record and say that I’ve never heard of Boris Garcia. But judging from his logo for his show tonight at Sarah Street, and the fact that he’s playing at Sarah Street, and his name may or may not actually be “Garcia,” I’m gonna go ahead and say he mainly hits the genre of … hip-hop and rap! Just kidding. This screams jam band/Dead cover band if I’ve ever seen it. I could be totally off. But I’m 99.9999999999 percent sure I’m not.

yeah, who am i kidding. sign me up.

So here’s something new. The Blue Tequila in Minisink Hills is doing a “Bunny Party,” nodding to the fact that Easter is only about a week away. How are they celebrating? By asking women to dress up in sexy bunny outfits, of course! Because nothing says “resurrection of Jesus” like a Playboy bunny outfit. That being said … what time does it start? Oh, 9:30. OK, sweet.

Hey, guess what? Joe O’Malley is playing around here this weekend! And hold on to your hats, but so is Flyin’ Blind! I know, I’m as shocked as you are! We kid. But these guys have been playing around here for years — and they keep getting gigs every weekend, without fail. What’s that tell ya? Need help? THEY’RE GOOD! So check ’em out. While we’re at it, on the topic of good bands you’re still dying to see even though you’ve seen them 20 times already in the last five years, 3 is at the Jubilee in Pocono Pines on Saturday night starting at 10, and the Who Knows Band is at Panda’s Pub in Marshalls Creek at 9 p.m. tonight.

There are some different choices out there though, like at the Original Pocono Pub on Saturday. Stealin’ Time is in there starting at 9:30. What’s with all these bands dropping the “g”? Fylin’ Blind. Stealin’ Time. I hate to be the grammar patrol here — actually I don’t, I kinda live for it — but g’s are there for a reason. I have no idea what that reason is because I can’t remember the last time I used one on an -ing word, but still. We can at least write them.

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Our Favorite Real World Casts

(This is a preview of the PopRox column in Sunday’s Pocono Record. And don’t forget, just a couple more hours to enter for the tickets to see AWOLNATION at the Sherman Theater tomorrow, find out how to win tickets here.)

I’m legally bound to start this blog post thusly:

This is the true story … of seven strangers … picked to live in a house …

Wait, I’m not? Then how come everything that’s ever written about The Real World starts that way? Weird.

Anyway, like just about everything with MTV, The Real World already peaked and is in severe decline, but the only ones that don’t realize it are the people at MTV.

So we watch it season by season, hoping the new cast mates will snap a spark of the old magic.

They don’t.

But hey, there’s always the new season, which starts Wednesday and sends a new cast to Portland, Ore., only a few years after it a became a popular city for young people to live in. Timely as always, MTV!

Maybe, just maybe, we can get one of the new cast members in this 28th season to crack the most memorable list:

yup, i had a big crush on elka, virgin or not.

Most influential cast: Before Boston, the show’s sixth season, we had to wait around a couple weeks for the house mates to be cooped up together before they started fighting, which is obviously the only reason people watch the show. But Boston was the first season to introduce the show to its most important ingredient — alcohol. I don’t know if drinking was banned previously, or whether the producers told the cast members to take it slow or whether they just didn’t want to film the cast members boozing. Who knows. But Boston house mates Sean and Syrus hit it off immediately, went out for beers the first night they were there, brought some girls home (one of whom I dated once or twice when she was in high school, no lie) and the show hasn’t looked back since. The season even managed to show the bad side of alcohol when Montana got fired for (still allegedly?) giving an 8-year-old a sip of wine on a field trip to Philly. Good times! And other than Sean and Syrus, it was the first time where cast mates really didn’t hide their disdain for the rest of the people in the house and were pretty inconsiderate of each other. Another current Real World staple.

is it just me, or does NO ONE look happy in this picture. sounds about right.

Craziest cast: The Boston cast may have introduced alcohol, but the Las Vegas cast perfected it. Nothing was off the table, and the tourism bureau is still reaping the benefits of what happened in Vegas with this crowd. Not surprisingly, it’s the one edition of The Real World that spawned a legitimate reality celebrity (Trishelle Cannatella) and the one edition that was so ridiculously over-the-top MTV asked the entire cast to come back for a reunion season. This is the season that obviously made MTV say, Let’s just put pretty, vapid, charming 20-somethings together in a house and pay their bar tab for three months. That’s right, Snooki, you can thank Alton and pals for your fame.

Biggest post-Real World star: For all the ill-conceived hopes and dreams of these young, naive, willing participants, no cast member really has broken out into a famous Hollywood star. Kevin from the first New York season is now a quasi-famous journalist, author and aspiring politician. Trishelle probably had about 16 minutes of fame after the first Vegas season. Sean from Boston is a two-term member of the U.S. House of Representatives. But only one person — Michael Mizanin — actually made it big. During his stint as a cast member on season 10’s Back to New York, his alter ego came out briefly. That alter ego was The Miz, and now that alter ego has held a slew of different belts in the WWE, including a six-month stint as WWE Champion in 2011 and 2012.

you're a cop, you're a cop, you're a cop

Craziest cast member: How do you even start to narrow this down? Coral from Back to New York was delusional and marvelously confrontational, Ruthie from Hawaii set the record for being the subject of the most 9-1-1 calls (since broken by Brad in the 2004 San Diego season) and in a show history littered with douchebags, C.T. from Paris somehow distanced himself from the rest of his brethren to easily claim the title of Head Douche. But there have been 25 casts since San Francisco, and still, no one can touch Puck. Oh, people have tried. My, how they’ve tried. And MTV deliberately looks for a Puck type in most seasons to stir things up. Until someone snot rockets on another cast member, Puck’s spot here is safe. Throw in the fact that he’s currently in jail on charges of stalking, and it will take a murder rap for someone else to throw him off the list. Not that I’d put it past these people.

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AWOLNATION’s Lead Singer Talks Touring and Success

For whatever reason, it takes some songs longer to reach the mainstream than others.

Take the haunting hit Sail, by AWOLNATION. Released as a single almost two years ago, the song peaked on the charts a year ago. But it’s now getting a resurgence in popularity, has re-entered Billboard’s Top 100 and recently climbed into the top 40 after months of permeating the world of TV.

Aaron Bruno almost never gets called Bruno Aaron. Thought you might like to know that.

“We always thought it was going good enough and it could go really well,” lead singer Aaron Bruno said about Sail before the band takes the stage at the Sherman Theater at 8 p.m. Friday. “Then it got this second wind of even more exposure, and it’s exploded.”

AWOLNATION hits the Sherman Theater on short notice, the band recently rerouted its local show from the Crocodile Rock in Allentown. The tour’s promoter and ownership at Crocodile Rock are involved in a legal dispute concerning the move.

The Lehigh Valley’s loss is the Poconos’ gain, as the band blows through Stroudsburg at what — so far — is the height of its popularity.

Bruno talked about that slow burn to success, touring and avoiding the sell-out label leading up to Friday’s show. (Remember — PopRox has tickets to give away to the show. Find out how to enter here and then make sure you email or FB message me the entry.)

PopRox: How’s the tour been going so far?
Aaron Bruno: We’ve only been going for about a week, so it’s hard to tell exactly what the whole vibe and energy of it is going to be. We’re doing a lot of smaller markets that some bands don’t usually get to, so we’re hoping that brings out a different kind of energy. We just got off a five-week European tour.

PR: What is the feel of a European tour compared to the states?
AB: It feels very European. We haven’t had the same kind of overwhelming commercial success we’ve had here, so the shows may be a little smaller. But Europeans seem to know the melody of a song more than fans here do, and they sing it more. The sync lines, the string lines, it’s a nice change of pace to keep you on your toes. It’s always good to learn from a different culture. Having been away from the ocean for so long and not being able to surf was hard, even though it was a great experience.

PR: You’re not going to find many waves up here.
AB: That’s OK, I got to surf today (in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) and the day before. That little bit should last me some time and happiness.

they've been touring so long they probably don't even know where this is.

PR: How long have you been touring for to support this album?
AB: It’s been a couple years. Every once in a while you get a three-week break, in December we got a whole month off, which was a wonderful experience. It gets tiring, but to be busy means people care to see you play. So I can’t complain. you’re on the bus with the same dudes every day, and the whole sausage thing gets a little old, but I get to play music for a living. No complaints. And it’s a great opportunity to try out new music for the next album.

PR: Ed Kowalczyk once told me getting popular was really weird, because it happened so fast and Live was touring the whole time, that within a month the only people going to their concerts were people who knew Lightning Crashes. For the rest of the concert, they just kind of sat around waiting for that song. Have you seen that yet?
AB: Fortunately we haven’t. We see a handful of folks leaving after we play Sail, but it’s not a lot. Our show has such an interesting style, it’s very interactive with a lot of dancing, it’s super intense and people jump on each other without getting too crazy, so we think we give people a good experience that they enjoy. We’re lucky, Sail is the song that helped us get popular, but it wasn’t the only ballad on the album. We were lucky that way. And other songs blew the doors open for us. Sail still has a lot of energy, there really isn’t a ballad moment on it. And we didn’t really have a month of exploding. For us, it’s been a nice, slow, gradual growth. In some places you can tell it’s been a phenomenon. Most radio stations wouldn’t play it at first because it has this insanely long intro, and it’s kind of an outlier of a song. But it reached every single spot it could and now people are comfortable playing it.

PR: Did you think it would be this popular?
AB: You always hope, always. We always thought it was going good enough, it could go really well, then it got this second wind of even more exposure.

PR: Why does it take alternative rock bands so long to get mainstream recognition since Sail was released about a year ago?
AB: It doesn’t take that long anymore. There were a handful of bands coming up through the alternative scene that time we were, and alternative rock stations weren’t even playing alt bands anyway. They were playing the classics and if Linkin Park or the Chili Peppers came out with a new album, they got played. It was kinda like they were classic rock stations, basically. But I think we were part of a wave of a bunch of bands that kicked it open so that new alt bands could get attention quicker on alt stations.

PR: It’s tough to pigeon hole you guys as alternative, it doesn’t always seem that way.
AB: I think we truly are an alternative band. But if the song is good, it doesn’t matter what genre it’s in, you listen to it. The format is the format, and I think Sail has kind of crossed over and there have been more commercial opportunities.

PR: What’s been your favorite use of Sail so far? I’ve seen it on TV shows, on commercials, YouTube videos …
AB: I think the (famous daredevil) Jeb Corliss sky diving video was my personal favorite. To see it used that way was just incredible. It’s been in a few beautiful, beautiful commercials, one in Italy, one in Portugal. And if you’re going to take Sail literally, it might as well be for Vikings. I’m proud of the song, so whatever format it shows up in is great by me.

PR: Do you get paid for those or does it go straight to the record label?
AB: No, I do. We didn’t spend a lot of money on it, we didn’t have to pay a bunch of players. Of course the label wanted it to be a huge thing, but it was more of a hope for the best and expect the worst. It’s been really rewarding. It took a while to figure this formula out, and I don’t even know if we figured it out. I’ve had to avoid some traffic, got some flat tires, the car broke down a couple times, there were some road rage incidents, but now we’re here.

PR: Have you taken any hipster flack for selling out since Sail seems to be everywhere now?
AB: No. We didn’t start out in the hipster scene, so it’s not like we’d get flack from there. If we started out in the Silver Lake (a famously hipster-populated area of Los Angeles, Bruno’s hometown) scene, maybe it would be a little different. But I wrote the song and the album pretty much on my own, and I didn’t think anybody was going to hear it. But it came out and got an eccelectic following since the record is ecclectic. We’ve got some hipsters, rock fans, and even parents. There’s one of everybody out there. I’m not a big fan of cliques or crews, I had enough of those in high school.

sweet, foreigner has nothing to do with sail. their quest to be randomly attached to greatness continues.

PR: Is that a Cold As Ice by Foreigner sample on Sail?
AB: You’re the second person to ask me that in the last week. It’s not true. I don’t even know what that song is, I’ll have to go back and listen to it. Do you hear it?
PR: I always thought there was something familiar about it, yeah. And I was doing research for this interview and came across it on a couple websites.
AB: That’s a really flattering thing, for someone to tell you that your song sounds like a classic, but it’s not true. When I’m writing a song, I’m always thinking, This sounds too good to be true, where have I heard this before? It’s always a good thing if you think you’ve heard the song before, and it’s better if it’s actually brand new. But I always wonder, Wait, am I stealing this from something? But enough time goes by and you realize it’s actually my idea.

PR: Are you feeling the pressure yet of having to repeat this album?
AB: No. There’s no pressure on me because I didn’t put any pressure on myself with the first one, so I’m going to make it the same way I did the first one. And I feel a little bit more open, I think I have a different take on the whole thing to know that people care to hear about what I’m doing next. All I can really do is let people down. I am what I am, but I never set out to create one thing or another.

PR: There have three singles off this album that have gotten good airplay — Not Your Fault, Sail and Kill Your Heroes. When you were putting together the album, which of those did you think would be the most popular?
AB: Actually, none of those at all, I thought a song, All I Need was going to be the most popular. It’s a ballad, kind of the Lightning Crashes of this album. I thought they were all kind of catchy and they could possibly catch on. I didn’t think Sail was the song that would really catch on though. Truthfully I could have seen any of the songs catching fire in some way.

Posted in Music, Pop Culture, The Local Scene | Leave a comment

Awolnation Concert Tickets up for Grabs

Woo hoo, contest time!

This one has a quick turnaround — alt-rock band AWOLNATION is hitting the Sherman Theater on Friday, and I’ve got a pair of tickets to give away to it! Entering information can be found below.

awolnation lead singer aaron bruno (photo by harper smith)

I’m a big fan of this one for four reasons:

1. AWOLNATION is probably one of my three or four current favorite bands. You might not know the name, but when you hear the intro to what has now become the band’s biggest hit, Sail, you’ll know the song.

2. I’ve been critical in the past that the Sherman hasn’t brought in any bands exactly like this, and I don’t want to be critical about the Sherman. I love that place. But I also call ’em like I see ’em. Glad to see a current rock band of this caliber coming to the Sherman.

3. I talked to lead singer Aaron Bruno the other day for an interview I’ll post tomorrow or Wednesday, and he was a really cool guy that had no problem talking about whatever I wanted to talk about.

4. We’re one-upping the Lehigh Valley in the process, since this show originally was scheduled for the Croc Rock, but since they’re having major issues, we got the show. You know what we say to that, Lehigh Valley?

Here’s how you enter:

–Entries are accepted electronically only, so you’ll have to email your entry in to me, Facebook message me or DM me on Twitter. Include your name, town, age and your daytime contact information. Umm, make sure you read that bolded part twice: “Include your name, town, age and your daytime contact information.” Not sure why this is so remarkably hard or unclear, but please guys, do it that way.

–Deadline to enter is Friday at noon. Then I’ll look for you for about half hour, then I’ll move on to the next person.

–Feel free to share this or the Facebook link with your friends. The more entries I get, the better.

–One entry per person, per e-mail address. If I get two entries from the same e-mail, I’m deleting them both.

–If you enter by messaging the PopRox account on Facebook or DM-ing on Twitter, it counts twice. Almost all of the recent winners have randomly come from Facebook entries, fyi.

–Whichever message method you choose is the only way you can enter. If you email your entry in, you cannot Facebook it in too. If I get an email entry and a Facebook entry, I’ll be deleting the Facebook entry. That means instead of getting two entries through Facebook, you’ll only get one entry through email.

–Please know that you can go if you enter. I’ll get in touch with the winner Friday afternoon and you’re name will be at will call at the theater.

Enter soon, we have to get this one in pretty quickly!

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Your St. Patrick’s Day Weekend Fun Guide

I’m officially convinced that people will find any excuse to get drunk, and that they feel like they need to. I have no idea why. Maybe as a good justification to get a baby-sitter? “Yeah, can you watch them on Sunday? It’s St. Patrick’s Day, after all. I’m going to get loaded.” I never did. I’m kind of a “day that ends in y” kinda guy, though as I’ve gotten older and had my daughters, yeah, I’ve been looking for more excuses.

This St. Patrick’s Day is, like, the biggest excuse going. We’ve been celebrating it for a week already, two weeks if you live in Hoboken, now this week is actually St. Pat’s, and next week is the Pocono parade. If you play your cards right, that’s four weeks of perfectly legitimate excuses to get loaded.

St. Pat’s is one of the sacred four drinking holidays of meeting up with your friends at the bar and going heavy. It combines with Thanksgiving Eve, Halloween and New Year’s to form the Quartet of Drunkenness. We squeezed two weeks out of Halloween this year, but none of those other holidays could possibly touch what St. Pat’s has given us this month. Pretty sure I’m fully recovered from what turned out to be a pretty tame Scranton Parade Day, so let’s see what the actual holiday is bringing us this weekend around here:

now you know.

First off, this has absolutely nothing to do with being Irish, St. Patrick’s Day celebrating or anything even remotely associated with green. But holy crap, I still can’t believe Bell Biv DeVoe is going to be playing in my backyard on Sunday at Cove Haven in Lakeville and I can’t freaking make it. I feel like Michael Rappaport in Beautiful Girls: “364 days a year I do d—” but this is one night I have standing yearly plans and can’t make it. Someone else is going to have to slap it up, flip it and rub it down for me. And get a new hat and leave the tag in it.

On to the Irish!

Talk about a name tailor (or taylor, in this case) made for St. Patrick’s Day. FOPR Joe O’Malley and his gee-tar is making the rounds this weekend, starting withan appearance on Gary in the Morning this morning. Then he’s off to a happy hour show at Rudy’s in East Stroudsburg starting at 5 p.m. today, another gig at Carrazza’s in Cresco at 7 p.m. Saturday and then he’ll be the emcee for the all-day festivities at Burke’s Tavern in Mount Pocono on Sunday starting at noon. Can he call ahead for a cab now and make a reservation?

Another fine Irishman — Erin McClelland! He’s making the rounds this weekend too. He’s at Peppe’s in East Stroudsburg tonight at 7 p.m., at Newberry’s Yard of Ale at 10 p.m. Saturday, then a doubleheader on Sunday at the PourHouse in Mountainhome in the afternoon and then at Jubilee in Pocono Pines from 6-10. Whew! If God gave you that name, and you were a musician, you’d wanna strike while the iron is hot too. I hit Newberry’s for happy hour last Friday and unfortunately wasn’t very impressed. I’m becoming a beer snob in my older days, but not enough of a beer snob that I don’t at least want the choice of Yuengling on tap. Nice place, nice atmosphere, but it’s for beer snobs only. Rich beer snobs.

Jubilee, incidentally, is going all weekend with live music and specials.

b'gosh and begorrah to you too, lass!

Big Daddy’s in Bartonsville is taking full advantage of St. Pat’s weekend. It’s got the SCProject starting at 9:30 p.m. tonight, then is doing a pre-St. Pat’s party on Saturday. Why not? It’s hard for people to go out and get drunk on a Sunday (not me, I’m just saying some people), you have a better shot at the weekend tourist crowd that is now going to disappear for the next two months, you have less competition … win-win-win! Surprised more places aren’t doing this.

Oh wait, they are! Panda Pub in Marshalls Creekis going a day early and bringing in a somewhat new band I haven’t heard of, but if Kenny booked them, then they’re probably pretty good. The James Surpa Blues Band will be playing for the night, and there will be drink specials too. Just don’t do green beer, it demeans us all.

Are you kidding? Flyin’ Blind ain’t missing out on a Poconos party weekend, not a chance. The band will be at Memorytown’s St. Pat’s party starting at 9 p.m. Saturday. Another Saturday St. Pat’s party, gotta love it.

Original Pocono Pub in Bartonsville is doing its St. Pat’s party Saturday with 3 hosting the festivities. It’s also doing the ham, corned beef and cabbage thing, which I don’t get. Who still eats that? I know it’s a tradition on St. Pat’s, but man, it’s gross. And cabbage is definitely something you don’t want cooking while you’ve got 200 people in your bar drinking. You’re just asking for your bathroom to be befouled, right? My mom is 100 percent Irish, and she used to make it because her mom did, but even she gave up years ago. Maybe this is the last generation of that meal, maybe we can put it to bed permanently in about 15 or 20 years. Blech!

everybody irish. now you irish too.

Don’t worry, there is plenty of actual St. Patrick’s Day stuff going on. Siamsa is doing its party all day starting with kegs and eggs at 9 a.m. and then they’re going all day long. Irish dancers, bagpipers, all that good stuff. And if you can make it to 9 p.m., then they have DJ Leprechaun, as I am sure that is his real name, keeping the drunk people up even longer.

I’m pretty sure Sarah Street doesn’t hate the Irish … but I can’t be sure since they don’t have anything St. Pat’s related listed. I’d imagine they’re saving it up for next weekend, but they don’t have anything listed then either for the parade. But they do have a soul band playing tonight and Pocono Due for its usual Sunday night deal.

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How March Madness Became MARCH MADNESS!!!

(This is a preview of Sunday’s PopRox column in the Pocono Record.)

The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament — which starts in earnest March 21 and 22 with all-day viewing marathons — is no longer just about sports.

It’s one of those handful of events that has shoved its way out of being merely a sporting spectacle and is now firmly entrenched as a legitimate pop culture happening.

And it’s only happened in the last 10 years or so. Here’s how:

1. It’s now readily available to the public.

tee hee.

Some of the things I previously had to go through to watch multiple NCAA Tournament games at once not very long ago:

• From 1994 to 1997, my friends and I stole and spliced cable and set up three televisions in a community dorm room in central Pennsylvania because our cable provider offered three CBS channels. All we could do was hope we received different games from each channel. It worked about 10 percent of the time.

• In 1998 and 1999, I traveled some 50 miles to a friend’s house to watch the games because he had a satellite dish that picked up CBS stations from, like, Portland.

I did it because I’m a hard-core fan. Casual fans checked SportsCenter when they get home from work.

Now? Four easy-to-find channels, all day, no waiting, no muss, no fuss. As long as you have a basic cable package, you can watch every game from your couch.

2. It’s a great day to play hooky day.

Just don’t call in sick. No one is buying it anymore and you’re probably risking your job. Most of us have personal days for just such an occasion. Use one.

3. This, the original version, not any of the crappy versions that have come out since like 1992:

4. It’s now easy to find.

Let me preface this by saying I love bartenders. They’re good people. But geez, at least 50 percent of them need a crash course on how to change a channel on a TV, especially ones that work at specific sports bars. I swear, I had this same conversation every year I went out to bars to watch the games. I will say that these conversations did not take place in Monroe County:

Me: “Can you put such-and-such game on? It’s on channel 879.”

Bartender, with remote in hand, changing to blank screen: “Nope, it’s not on 879.”

Me: “It is, you just changed it to 789.”

Bartender: “Oh, ha ha, sorry. I think that’s because the batteries in the remote are worn out. (Playing with the remote, while I try not to burn my eyes out with a chicken wing) There.”

Me: “Nope, wrong game.”

hey great! but do you know how to change a channel?

Bartender: “Well, that’s the channel the last game was on.”

Me: “Yes, but that’s not the game I was asking about. That game is on two TVs down and I can easily see it. I’m looking for channel 879 for the such-and-such game.”

Bartender: “Hold on, I think I need a different remote for that.”

Me: “No, you’ve got the right one, trust me. Can you just give me the remote? I can get it on.”

Bartender: (Fiddling with the remote, again) “Sorry, the owner said I’m not allowed to let anyone use the remotes.”

Me: “Did the owner ever tell you how to actually use the remotes or leave a list of which games are on which channels?”

Bartender: “No, but you can ask him. He’s the one passed out on the pool table … There, got it!”

Me: “OK, but you accidentally also changed the TV next to it too, and I was watching that game. Now they’re both on the same channel, which is exactly the reason I didn’t stay home.”

Bartender: “Really? How many games do you watch at once?”

Me: “Four, that’s why I’m here.”

Bartender: “I could never do that. It’s hard enough for me to watch ‘The Bachelor’ because there’s so much going on! Sometimes I can, but a lot of times, I’d rather just watch the Kardash—”

Me: (Loud cheers from the other side of the bar from people watching the game I’ve been trying to get on) “OK, let’s try this again …”

Now bartenders can just put on the four channels the tournament is playing on — CBS, TBS, TNT and truTV — and tell everyone to find the TV they want for the whole day. No channel shenanigans necessary, so you have more time to contribute to the Veronica Mars movie Kickstarter campaign.

easy to understand and bet-able. yeah, I'm in.

5. We all have ownership.

Has your girlfriend or wife ever participated in a World Series pool? Has she ever filled out the brackets for the NBA Playoffs? No? Huh, that’s weird. Because she (and “he” as well, since there are guys who don’t watch a second of basketball until the NCAA Tournament rolls around) always seems to plunk down $10 to fill out her tournament brackets and willingly says, “Sure, I’ll go to the bar, watch basketball and drink with you for 12 hours.” Well, maybe that last part is just my wife. Anyway, whether you care about either team playing or not, you care about your brackets. Everyone does. It gets everyone at least partially interested in the games.

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Tread Very, Very Carefully, NBC

Major league catch-up day today, I don’t think I’ve done a links column in more than a week. Sorry about that. If you’re in to the whole better-late-than-never thing, hop on board because you’ll love this one:

why would nbc even want this headache?

Anyone else downright giddy thinking about the possible Dumpster fire that could be the latest NBC late-night succession rumor? If the Conan thing was an unmitigated mess — and that’s probably underselling it — the potential for what can come of pushing Jay Leno out the door, moving Jimmy Fallon to the Tonight Show and then bringing in Howard Stern to take Fallon’s spot on Late Night is just too awesome to brush it off as silly, unsubstantiated rumor. It would be like Christmas to anyone who loves following this kind of thing. Just think about the personalities involved. Stern hates Leno and loves Jimmy Fallon. Leno has little to no credibility left in the comedy world, Fallon is at the top of his game and Stern is somewhere in between. Stern’s fans are ridiculously, overtly loyal, Fallon’s fans are almost hipster cult-ish and Leno’s fans are all over the age of 60. At least that’s what I would presume, since I don’t know one person who’s ever said to me, “Did you see Leno last night? Man, he was ON FIRE!” And amid all of that, Leno is one of the eight or nine most powerful personalities on TV, who obviously won’t be shown the door until he’s good and ready. NBC can want whatever it wants and leak whatever kind of nugget it wants, but this time, Leno won’t be moving anywheres until Leno says it’s time. NBC has two months to figure this out and have a plan that absolutely will not fail or go wrong. It’s got enough to worry about it, it doesn’t need to jeopardize the integrity of its biggest franchise for the second time in three years.

Of all the stories that have been written about this, how come no one went to New York Times critic Bill Carter for some kind of educated guess on what’s going to happen? He’s the expert, right, after writing two incredible books about the last two Tonight Show successions. I Googled “‘bill carter’ stern” in a news search and got nada. And why hasn’t he written about it? Weird.

welcome to the club.

I’m a big fan of the history and tradition of Saturday Night Live, so I’m always up for any talk of the Five Timers Club. I’ve always thought the original sketch is one of the most original ideas the show has ever had and had a strong influence on this whole meta brand of humor so popular now. And I would most definitely put Justin Timberlake in the top 5 of this list. Part of that is because I’m not necessarily a Steve Martin fan and definitely wouldn’t include Christopher Walken on there since all the guy does is read cue cards. Every single time he’s on! And they keep bringing him back! But SNL has helped showcase the other side of JT, the charming actor side and helped us all get over the boy band side. Even though it’s already been done to death, how many guest SNL hosts in the non-cast-alum category now have THREE recurring characters?

I think I’m going to start the Sigh Report now. It will encompass stories that I’m too frustrated at or too angry at or just too thoroughly ambivalent about to even rationally discuss. So you’ll have to click on the links to find out why I’m so flustered.

Sigh Report #1: Kevin Smith. Sigh.

Sigh Report #2: Eddie Murphy and Judge Reinhold. Double sigh.

And the summer movie trailers are starting to roll out in full force now. Waiting for the Wolverine trailer, hopefully we’ll get it in the next couple weeks. Two recent trailer reviews:

I don’t know if Marvel’s goal is to short-sell its movies with average first trailers six months away from their release, then kick the holy hell out of the second ones. What I do know is that every move Disney, Marvel’s parent company, makes is methodically plotted and planned down to Pi-like decimal points of accuracy. So maybe it’s just coincidence the first trailers for Avengers and Iron Man 3 were pretty blah, but the second trailers — each released at exactly the same time of year — were just off the charts good. This is the side of Tony Stark we’ve never really seen, and maybe it was good to keep him from going up against his most popular villain until now. He’s been so broken from his role in what amounted to the destruction of New York City and his vulnerability as the face of the Avengers that maybe now it’s time to explore that part of his mythology, at the time when he is most vulnerable. I like the idea of changing up the story a little bit too. Tony has never really lost anyone close to him what if Pepper died? Or if Roadie was killed? I know they don’t die in the comic book, but who’s to say that has to stay the same in the movie series? One thing I don’t want — cameos, at least not in the movie itself. Keep the rest of the Avengers out of this, they have their own things going on. Yeah, it’s cool when Jeremy Renner randomly showed up in Thor for about two seconds, but those days are over. Avengers is hyped as much as it needs to be, let’s make sure the focus is on telling stories of individual characters. OK? OK. They’re not giving us anything on the whole Extremis plot line other than the multiple Iron Men lining up behind him, but we’ll see how that goes. Oh, and we can start to see if that trend continues when the Thor trailer is attached to Iron Man 3. TRAILER GRADE: A-

The Hangover is up there as one of the funniest R-rated comedies of the last decade with Wedding Crashers and Step Brothers. Hangover II is right there in the conversation for most disappointing sequels with Caddyshack 2 and Speed 2. So I’m on the fence about how I feel about a third anyway. To their credit, everyone involved is saying all the right things without actually saying how much the second one blew. Things like, “We’re breaking out of the Hangover mold” and “This is going to be different than the first two.” Translation: “We know the  second one is just a cheap, formulaic rip-off of the first one that is so ridiculously improbable it makes the first one look like something that happens three times a day to 75 percent of the country.” And from the looks of the trailer, they stayed pretty true to that philosophy, almost going out of their way to show that this won’t be Hangover 2. In fact, heading back to Vegas is the perfect idea. If you’re going to blow up the formula, at least give the illusion that something might be the same — like the setting of the original. When you see a shot of the Vegas skyline and Ed Helms barks out, “Someone needs to burn this place to the ground,” you can almost feel like he’s talking about the second Hangover movie. Or maybe I just wanted it to be. All of it may be lip service to appease the fans of the first (me) that were totally turned off by the second (MEEEEEEEE!!!). All I know is I reluctantly watched the trailer thinking I would be disappointed — and I was laughing pretty frequently by the end of it. TRAILER GRADE: B+

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Your (Out-of-the-) Poconos Weekend Fun Guide

I say it every year, so I’ll say it again this year. When I wake up on Scranton Parade Day, that line from Striking Distance is the first thing that goes through my head. A huge smile beams across my face and I jump out of bed with the knowledge that, yes, it’s Parade Day.

And it is beautiful. This year, even the weather is going to cooperate!

can't believe someone is actually able to make money off this.

I’m partaking in my 17th consecutive drinking Parade Day, and while I don’t do the 7 a.m., umm, excuse me, 9 a.m. thing anymore, it’s still the best day of the year. It’s a different kind of fun now. My wife and I now run the annual pre-parade 2-mile race through the downtown while I push my daughters in a jogging stroller, an effort that earned me multiple chants of “Super Dad!” from drunk people lining the streets last year. Then we take the girls to the parade, drop them off with their grandparents’ and away we go!

I know there are a ton of people from the Poconos that head up to Scranton for Parade Day, and I know many of them are doing it for the first time. So if you are a first-timer, you need my wisdom and experience. I can’t force it on you, but you should trust me. I’ve done this before.

The first place to start is my 10 Commandments of Parade Day post last year. That’s the overview, and those 10 rules will never change, at least not until technology changes. So make sure you check them out before you go.

But let’s go ahead and add three addendum observations:

Don’t expect it to be “like it used to be.” I heard a whole bunch of the old-timers — umm, me, my friends and my brothers — last year pissing and moaning about how many people there are, how expensive it is, how everyone smells bad, how I should stop spilling beer on everyone, blah, blah, blah. Get over it. That’s the Parade Day world we live in now, and it’s not changing anytime soon. The most important part of Parade Day is to have fun. If you go in complaining, you’ll spend the whole day complaining and you’ll bring the rest of us down. Lighten up!

one of my scheduled stops tomorrow.

Some things that are passe and should be avoided at all times, or else you’ll look like a rookie and be treated as such: Those big blow horns, kilts on guys (but not on girls), green hair, puking before noon,

All the bars have changed from 5 years ago. I count 1 big-time bar — 1! — that is still around on this Parade Day like it was during my first one in 1997, and that’s Traxx at the Radisson Hotel. Other bars have changed hands and are now known by different names (Tink’s on Linden Avenue became Hardware Bar which is now Mulligan’s), but if you haven’t been there in a while, you’re just going to have to mill around to find some place you like. This is the first year that Farley’s, a Parade Day staple and the first downtown bar to introduce 7 a.m. drinking, will not be open. It closed last fall. Every single bar that I went into over my first five Parade Days is closed or has a new name. Mostly closed though. See what I mean about that whole “like it used to be” thing?

No tagging. That’s the bare minimum when it comes to Facebook policy on Parade Day, don’t tag that you’re with anyone without permission, and most certainly don’t tag any photos with or without permission. People say crazy things on Parade Day, like, “Yeah, you can take a picture of me smoking a joint while I make out with my mistress,” or “Make sure you get a shot of me punching this jabroni in the face.” If you have to take a picture of it for future blackmail purposes, be my guest. But when you post that kind of stuff and tag that person on it, you’re talking about things that get people fired, divorced, arrested or worse, whatever that can be. So lay off the tags. My suggestion is don’t use Facebook at all on Parade Day, but I know that’s crazy talk. I’ll probably be breaking my own rule and doing some live tweeting @poprox1, so feel free to stop by in the afternoon and see if you can decipher my tweets.

Since not everyone will be headed to Scranton, your abridged Poconos Weekend Fun Guide:

Queensryche is a band I’ll never get. I get that some people liked Silent Lucidity — I most certainly did not — but I couldn’t name one other of its songs. Yet, here they are charging $35 a pop for tickets to a show Saturday at Penn’s Peak. Maybe there’s more to Queensryche than meets the ear, but I would never in a million years have guessed that they’d still be around, touring, in 2013. Make fun of one-hit wonders all you want, but if you play your cards right, you can turn that one hit into a ridiculously lucrative career.

Now here’s a show I can get into and will most definitely support, Awolnation coming to the Sherman Theater on March 22. The show was announced this week in a quick turnaround because it was supposed to be at Croc Rock in Allentown, but has been moved to Stroudsburg. I have no idea why, I saw some Facebook chatter that Croc Rock is having trouble, I have no idea. But hey, their loss, our gain! Awolnation is probably my favorite new rock band right now. I find a lot of its music haunting and lovely at the same time, and I hope its next album is just as good as this first one. I dare say this may be my favorite Sherman Theater show so far.

In case you don’t feel like driving up for Parade Day but still want to bask in the lovely glow of St. Patrick’s Day, you can still head out to Madd Anthony’s in Blakeslee on Saturday for the bar’s pre-St. Patty’s Day party, or as most of us call it, “Parade Day.” apparently Blakeslee is the geographical limit where you can’t officially sponge off the Parade Day brand. Anyway, they’re doing green beer and Jell-O shots, which, incidentally, goes against one of my Parade Day Commandments, “no hard alcohol. But I doubt there are many people hitting Scranton at 9 a.m. and then making it to Madd Anthony’s for 9 p.m. So knock yourself out.

Raymond the Amish Comic is making his way back to the Poconos this weekend, performing at Poconuts in the Pocono Brewing Company in Swiftwater. The show is tomorrow at 9 p.m.

G is at Cinder Inn in East Stroudsburg tonight starting at 9:30, Panda Pub in Marshalls Creek is doing Ladies Night tonight and the Blue Tequila has a TGIF Dance Party starting at 9:30.

Now you’re all caught up.

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The Acting Pairs You Always Wanted to See (even if you didn’t know it)

(This is a preview of the PopRox column in Sunday’s paper, with some added Arrested Development goodness here. SEO, bitches.)

When Jim Carrey and Steve Carell were cast as a pair of dueling magicians in the comedy The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, it hit us.

“Why didn’t they think of this before?

Their careers had somewhat intersected before, with Carell taking over for Carrey in the Bruce Almighty sequel Evan Almighty, and Carrey playing an interviewee for Michael Scott’s old job on The Office.

But putting them together? Genius, right? At least on the surface it is. We’ll see what the actual product looks like when the movie comes out Friday.

How about some other memorable pairings we may not have known we wanted, ones we waited forever to see or ones that left us wanting more:

what we wanted to see for 20 years

Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino, Heat
The legend goes that in Caddyshack, Director Harold Ramis realized one possibly fatal oversight after shooting through most of the movie: Saturday Night Live mega-alums Chevy Chase and Bill Murray didn’t have any scenes together. So they went back and shot the cannonball scene and squeezed it into the movie. When DeNiro and Pacino appeared together in Godfather II without any screen time together? Yeah, that was how it was planned. Maybe it was based on some strange 1974 premonition that they would go on to become two of the greatest American actors of the 20th century, and the myth would grow when they finally, inevitably, would make a movie together 20 years later. The Michael Mann-directed Heat went on to become a well-respected (if not half-hour too long), crime thriller, but at the time, we knew it for one thing only — DeNiro and Pacino would finally meet! Their 10-minute quietly tense and effectively awkward exchange at a Los Angeles coffee shop was the money shot we had been waiting two decades for. And now let’s all forget that Righteous Kill ever happened. OK? OK.

Steve Martin and Eddie Murphy, Bowfinger

Hold on. Are you telling me these two starred in 44 movies between 1982 and 1999 … and they never made one together? Two of the most respected, beloved comedians of all time couldn’t find a script to work on together? Wait, there’s more! Of the approximately 8 trillion times Martin hosted Saturday Night Live, he never did it while Murphy was in the cast. It’s almost like they were destined to be kept apart, until they gave us one of the most underrated comedies of this generation. On these two guys’ legendary resumes, this comes really close to cracking each of their top fives.

Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly, Step Brothers
When certain teams get together, you want and expect to see them again. Astaire and Rodgers. Bogart and Hepburn. Hanks and Ryan. Then there are those that you can take or leave — more likely leave — so you don’t necessarily think of them much after their first movie. That’s Ferrell and Reilly in 2006’s Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. A good, not great, or even particularly memorable pairing. But when they got together two years later for Step Brothers, they put together one of the five greatest R-rated comedies of the last 10 years, and its success is based almost solely on their chemistry together.

mmmmm hmmmmmm

Debbie Gibson and Tiffany, Mega Python vs. Gatoroid
Look, you have to see it. It’s a random, beyond awful horror movie on Syfy. We often exaggerate and say things are the worst movies ever, but this may very well be the worst movie ever. If it wasn’t so laughably bad — intentionally so, I’d imagine — it probably would be the worst thing ever. This movie was made for the express purpose of getting these two late 80s bubble-gum pop singers together, on screen, for the first time, complete with the requisite cat fight. Who knew I actually wanted to see these two together, in a movie, 20 years after they mattered even a little? But you better believe I’ve seen it. Twice.

they look weird.

Jason Bateman and Michael Cera, Juno
Quick! How much screen time do Michael and George Michael Bluth share in Juno? How about none, despite them being two of the biggest supporting players in the movie! In 2007, when the movie came out, this fact wasn’t such a big deal since 99.99 percent of the people that saw it in the theater didn’t even know Arrested Development existed, let alone watch it enough to know that these two played father and son. If this same movie came out now, the Internet might break. There would be rioting and looting in every hipster neighborhood in America, and poor Greenwich Village would be laid to waste after the carnage. Now let’s all bow our heads and say a little prayer that May gets here soon and the new season finally becomes a reality.

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Our Lovely Weekend of Flops

It’s no secret I love a good bomb. I salivate for it. So yeah, I was like a pig in crap this weekend:

the vaunted trifecta

When a movie gets pulled from a summer release and is moved to the winter, you can be pretty sure of one or more of a couple of things: 1. The studio knows the movie is a very hard sell. 2. It’s not very good. 3. It wants to own the market for at least a couple weekends so it can try to sell that movie. Jack and the Giant Slayer, welcome to the trifecta! Hard to do, gotta hand it to him. And that trifecta landed it in the annals of wuh-wuuuuhhhhh mistakes, a $200 million idea that will be lucky to make half of that back. This was always going to be a movie of extreme box-office performance — either people would embrace it or they’d hate it, and now we know the answer for the movie originally slated to come out in June, but got shelved for … was there ever even a reason? Probably not. They just knew what they were up against. In the last few years, March has been pretty good to “event” movies not named “John Carter” with Alice in Wonderland (#26 all-time domestic box office) and The Hunger Games (#13 all time domestic box office) the biggest benefactors. So maybe it made sense to re-position Jack when it had time to claim an audience and when the studio didn’t have to be gobbled up by all the other movies of last summer. It almost lost out to Identity Thief. How do you think it would have held up to Avengers? Anyway, just a perfect storm of bad scenarios all coming together.

"get off me, ed. don't you know how much this movie sucks out loud?"

Did you know there was a movie starring Ed Harris and David Duchovny opening last weekend? It’s OK, neither did anyone else. The distributor hasn’t released the box-office figures for Phantom yet, which points to someone at the studio saying, “Holy crap, we need an extra day to figure out how to spin this so that we’re not all looking for jobs tomorrow.” But the industry estimates are that the movie has a chance to beat out the Oogiloves for the worst opening weekend ever for a movie in wide release. Somewhere, Chazz Palminteri is crossing his fingers. At least no one from Phantom promoted it. I saw poor Chazz on Good Morning America the weekend it opened showing off some lame tap dancing number from the movie. The fact that this couldn’t even crack the headlines under the weight of the Jack and the Giant Slayer bomb is nothing short of impressive.

We don’t even have to stick in movies to find bombs this weekend! ABC is S-M-A-R-T-I-N-G smarting after this weekend, first having to cancel Zero Hour, then watching as Red Widow bombed in its Sunday premiere. I’m starting to think networks should just stay out of cable’s niche of finding tense, envelope-pushing drama series that draw ridiculously loyal fans. Whether they’re good or not, they face the immediate hurdle of being a tense, envelope-pushing drama that people think might have a better place on cable. By sticking with bland, formulaic, ratings-driven middle-of-the-road slop, networks have ceded almost all good drama to cable. A quick look around at some of the reviews for Red Widow threw out quotes like this:

never had a chance

“(f)eels a lot like someone tried to turn a very dark cable series into a very lighthearted cable series” –Entertainment Weekly

“Is ABC’s new drama “Red Widow” the network TV answer to “Breaking Bad,” or just another serialized flop?” –Zap2It headline

“(s)eems to aspire to “Weeds”-meets-“Breaking Bad” territory” –St. Louis Post Dispatch

“‘Red Widow’ EP Departs From Dutch Format, Aims for ‘Breaking Bad’ Darkness” –Hollywood Reporter headline

Those took me about five seconds to find. So if you can’t make a truly great drama series, that you slam dunk KNOW people are going to love, why bother doing it at all? Just make another Castle, or make a new NCIS spinoff, keep your bottom line somewhat intact, and stay on the air. From now on, cable will have the benefit of the doubt in producing drama series when it comes to both reviews and viewers. The one exception is The Following, which easily is my favorite new drama of the season and is managing to keep its viewers intact. 24 and Lost will no longer be found on network TV. If they’re found at all, they’ll be found on cable. At least they should be, if the networks know what’s good for them.

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