2015 Unofficial Guide to Your New TV Addictions

It’s that time again, folks. Time for me to dole out my picks for the shows you need to carve time out for this fall. I’d to start off by saying that I really didn’t find many of the new shows appealing, and thanks to the slaughter of shows that happened a couple weeks ago, in which a lot of the shows I watched got kicked to the curb, it’s difficult for me to trust some of these networks again cough*NBC*cough. But, there are still a ton of new shows that recently got picked up to series and will be heading your way in September. To help you sort through it all, I’ve picked a few of my early favorites. Did I miss your potensh fave?

The Comedies

Life in Pieces

Mondays (moving to Thursdays), 8:30pm • CBS

In full disclosure, I went into this trailer not expecting anything and not knowing any details. It is by far one of the strongest and funniest trailers I’ve watched in a while (let’s hope the pilot stays the same. Life In Pieces follows a family  as told from a point of view of each character based on their own version of events. It’s kinda like Modern Family meets Parenthood meets any ep of TV that shows the timeline of a story from three different perspectives. Plus, it has a bunch of big names in it, like James Brolin, Dianne Weist, Colin Hanks, Breaking Bad’s Betsy Brandt and a number of others. This show could be an underdog.

The Muppets

Tuesdays, 8:00pm • ABC

One show that’s not an underdog but rather the complete opposite is The Muppets – a contemporary mockumentary style show following the daily life of our favorite furry friends.. Think The Office if it was run by Muppets. Sign me up immediately.

Scream Queens

Tuesdays, 9:00pm • Fox

TBH, I’m probably not even going to watch this show, but it has enough Ryan Murphy buzz that mades me think it can actually last more than a season. It’s Mean Girls and Scream combined, featuring a sorority and the hunt for a person killing of the characters one by one. Also, Nick Jonas.

Honorable Mentions:

Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris (NBC) – NPH is getting his own variety show! What more can you ask for?

Grandfathered (NBC) – If you can’t wait for the Full House reboot, check out John Stamos’ new show in which he finds out he has a son – and a granddaughter at the same tim.

The Grinder (Fox) Rob Lowe is giving it the old college try yet again with his show which features an older actor who is famous for his role as a TV lawyer, but when the show ends, he attempts to become a lawyer IRL. Rob has another show on NBC, which gives him hope for at least one of his shows sticking around this season.

The Dramas

Heroes Reborn

Thursdays, 8:00pm • NBC

Guys, remember how good the first two seasons of Heroes was? Heroes Reborn is the show you want to be as good as those early episodes. A few familiar faces will return (Matt Parkman, HRG), but there will also be new heroes on the block (hello Zach Levi).

Supergirl

Mondays, 8:00pm • CBS

Everyone is hyped for this because it’s a superhero show. That’s all.

Containment

Midseason • CW

Again, I’m not totally convinced I’m going to watch this show, but it actually looks really good. From Julie Plec, the woman who brought you Ian Somerhalder as a vampire (is that even right?), Containment tells the the story of a deadly mystery virus that spreads in Atlanta and kills 100% of the people that contract it.  If it sounds disturbing and horrifying, that’s because it it probably is.

Honorable Mentions:

Chicago Med (mideason, NBC) – I watch Chicago Fire and have managed to keep Chicago PD off my docket because I have restraint, but I might have to cave for this one. I love a good medicalshow.

Limitless (CBS) – This is already getting a lot of buzz, mainly because it’s based off the 2011 film of the same name, starring Bradley Cooper. And B Coops is actually supposed to be in a few eps, so that’s enough star power to get it going.

What I Think Happens In Game Of Thrones (I Don’t Watch It)

Are you caught up on Game of Thrones? I’m not. I’m very, very not: I still haven’t seen an episode. Don’t get me wrong, it’s way at the top of my watch list – if only because I hate when everyone else knows about something I don’t. It’s just that it’s in the fifth season, so now it’s an undertaking. But since it feels like GoT is all anyone talks about, I have some ideas about it.

God willing, this summer I’ll swipe my parents’ HBOGo login info and find out for myself. Until then, I’m pretty sure this is what it’s about:

  • Like, it’s not England, but it IS England, you know?

    Hmm. Ok, p. sure it’s England though.

 

  • And it’s not the Middle Ages, but it IS The middle ages, right?

    No but like, it’s not the “middle ages” but it’s sometime between the fall of Rome and the Renaissance, y/y?

 

  • The blonde one has dragons. They’re sort of like the winged monkeys from The Wizard Of Oz, but they want to be there.

 

  • The blonde one is icy and powerful, like Grace Kelly or Betty Hofstadt Draper Francis.

    + shades of Draco Malfoy and Princess Leia during the Jabba The Hutt era.

 

  • The Little Girl shoots arrows.

 

  • Everyone has names with lots of y’s in them. And, like, w’s? Drawnyfyr. Grwynwyn. Wywywy.

 

  • When something good happens, everyone goes to banquet halls where they eat, presumably, mutton. And drink mead. Then they all get killed.

 

  • French braids.

 

  • The blonde one’s title is kaleesi (sp? Superfluous H somewhere: Khaleesi? Kalheesi?). Her name is something else. And a lot of people act like her name is Kaleesi (sp) because that’s what they call her in the show, but it’s NOT. It’s not that. It’s probably, definitely something with a y or w in it.

 

  • The Little Girl is friends with wolves. Enemies with wolves? I think she mostly rolls with a pack of them.

 

  • I’m fairly sure the Little Girl is named Aria, which is why that’s what everyone is naming their babies now. Maybe Arya, which has a Y in it.

 

  • The Little Girl with the arrows/wolves is the Stephanie, and her older sister is more of a D.J.

 

  • There’s no Michelle; a Michelle would not survive in this world.

    This is her GOT outfit.

 

  • If your name doesn’t contain a Y or a W, it’s a regular name with one or two letters off. Like Blatt or Bobbin or Roybert.

 

  • Peter Dinklage.

 

  • Sometimes, somebody goes into a journey through the forest, runs into an enemy, battles them in the forest, emerges on horseback. But it’s the enemy’s horse.

 

  • Maybe there’s a priest who’s a bad guy?

 

  • More tapestries than a stoner’s sophomore year dorm room.

 

  • Do any of you have an extra row of eyelashes that grow straight down? It has nothing to do with Game of Thrones but I would be interested in someone’s help with that.

 

  • I’m picturing a battle in a field with humans astride creatures that look like they came from the Jim Henson factory.

 

  • All of the American actors use English accents of varying strengths and intensities, even though this is not exactly England.

 

  • Rich people wear jewel-toned silks and velvets; poors: straight-up scratchy bag material.

 

  • At least one dude has labor-intensive facial hair even though it’s the (not-) Middle Ages. One of those deals where he looks more like a topiary than a face.

 

  • Probably a gross childbirth scene at some point.

 

  • Pick a character to love. Any character. Okay, they’re going to die.

 

  • Unlike the real middle ages, people aren’t dying of, like, dysentery. Usually battles, duals, maybe a stray curse or two.

 

  •  Never go to a wedding. Ever. It will end it rape, murder, or both.

 

  • All of the men are sort of Variations On A Theme. The theme is Elijah Wood.

    Meh. Basically the same thing.

 

  • You know how everyone has that one garbage cousin? In 2015 you can just hide him on Facebook, but in Medieval England you will be hiding behind a stone turret while he and a fleet of Jim Henson Workshop Creatures storm across your moat right in the middle of the Hey Nonny Nonny festival or whatever.

 

  • Not that it’s Medieval times, that is. Or England. It isn’t.

 

  • … But it is, right?

 

 

Wedding Season Survival Kit

It’s that time of year again – wedding season is officially here. Yes, that’s right happy couples, you get to attend your friends’ and family members’ nuptials, while looking on knowing that you too are in love, and for your single people, it’s a gentle reminder that you don’t have a designated slow dance partner at the wedding, or in life.

If you’re in your 20s or early 30s, you’re probably all too familiar with wedding season already. It spreads on to social media, when it seems as if every weekend someone is going to a bridal shower or bachelorette party or wedding. With the sheer amount of weddings that occur between now and like, the end of September, it seems almost necessary to have at least some sort of survival kit to make it through months of newlyweds’ happiness. Here are just a few tips I’ve come to discover on my travels that might help you come out of these next few months alive.

Declines with Regret is an Option

Photo Apr 30, 2 42 15 PM

First things first – you don’t have to go to every wedding you’re invited to. It’s always tempting to accept every single one, but be realistic. Do you have the funds to attend? More importantly, do you even care that the two people who invited you are tying the knot? Declining and saying no to invitations is not only a good thing to learn for weddings, but for life in general.

What Not To Wear

If there’s one thing we know about weddings, is that there are a lot of pictures taken throughout the day/night. Because of this, you dress to impress. And if you’re like me, wear a dress perfect for the particular wedding you’re going to – then never wear it again. Are you kidding me? I can’t be photographed in that ensemble again after there were 10 FB albums posted! Sort through your closet and find dressy pieces you wouldn’t usually put together and create a mix-and-match outfit without having to buy new clothes. Or do something like Rent the Runway, where you can get a designer dress for more then half off the original price, and simply return it. I’m doing this for the first time for my friends’ wedding in June and I’ll report back on my findings.

Make Wedding Weekend a Vacation

If you’re traveling somewhere for a wedding and have the time, don’t just stay at the final destination for the weekend, make the most of it. When my friends got married in their hometown of Sacramento, me and my groomsman friend planned a trip to nearby San Francisco, because, why not? If you’re gonna take days off from work, might as well make it worth it.

Score a Present Early in the Game

Get the couple a present off their registry as soon as possible, because if you wait too long, you might end up with the super expensive items like 100-piece china or an X-Box. If you do happen to find yourself in dire straits and know friends who are going to the wedding as well, ask if they want to chip in and buy one of the big ticket items. I’m pretty sure this is kosher.

Don’t Go Hard Right Away

Weddings can last forever. Not the actually ceremony – those can sometimes last only 15 minutes. So if you start taking shots before the bride goes down the aisle, you might need to take a nap sometime during dinner. Or maybe that’s just us old folk. The temptation of an open bar forces you to get all the drinks ASAP, but just steady yourself so you can have fun and not vom. Unless the open bar ends at a certain time, and stock up on drinks so you have some alc throughout the rest of the reception.

Hire a Designated Driver

Speaking of alcohol, don’t be dumb. I’m sure you’re all responsible adults, so this might be a moo point (a cow’s opinion). Again, if you’re going with friends, a party bus might be the ideal situation for a wedding, or plan on taking Uber to and from the venue.

Don’t Give In To Bouquet Toss Pressure

I hate the bouquet toss/garter tradition. I feel like it’s outdated and provides for an awkward situation between the person who grabs the bouquet and the person who grabs the garter. I’ve been to weddings where they practically force all single people on the floor to participate in the bouquet toss and I’ve wanted to toss myself out the window. Don’t do anything you don’t want to do. It’s your life, bro.

Enjoy Yourself!

This goes without saying, but sometimes, especially if you’re involved with the planning of the wedding, that you focus on what could go wrong as opposed to truly enjoying yourself. At the end of the day, weddings are a great celebration of love between family and friends, and that’s all that matters.

 

They Were Astronauts: Mad Men, Time Travelers

In season 4 of Mad Men, school-marmish secretary Ida Blankenship died in the offices of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. Bert Cooper remarked that Miss Blankenship wasn’t just a fusty old lady:

She was born in 1898 in a barn. She died on the 37th floor of a skyscraper. She was an astronaut.

Ida was not even 70 years old, but her lifetime stretched from an era of horse-drawn transportation to one of live television broadcasts and international flights.

If Mad Men characters were real people, most of them would be much older than Ida Blankenship. Don Draper is now roughly 90 years old – give or take a few, because, you know, Dick Whitman and everything. Joan is 84, and Peggy is about to turn 75. At 61, even little Sally Draper is getting AARP mailers and gearing up for retirement.

That’s right: Sally Draper is only a few years younger than Miss Blankenship.

The magic of old-fashioned style: Peggy actually looks younger in 1970 than she did in 1960.

The Mad Men crew witnessed as much change in the second half of the 20th century as Miss Blankenship did in the first. Contrast the first scene between Peggy and Joan with the last. In 1960 Joan told Peggy that the way to be indispensable at work was knowing what kind of liquor to stock for your boss. Working as collaborators was out of the question. By 1970 (spoiler!), Joan proposes that she and Peggy become partners in a production company. In 1960, Joan told Peggy to “always be a supplicant;” in 1970, they’re both bosses.

During the first seasons, Mad Men’s costuming reflected early ’60s style — which, of course, owed a lot to the straight-laced 1950s. Men wore suits, women wore skirts, and pillbox hats were a hot accessory. By the last season, we saw glimpses of the fashion world we live in now. Characters wore casual clothing – jeans, even! – in settings they wouldn’t have dreamed of in 1960. Early on she dressed like a cat from a Richard Scarry book, but the Sally of 1970 could almost be mistaken for a teenager of today. Some of Mad Men’s 1970 styles look dated to us now – Pete Campbell has the semi-Medieval haircut of every man in my family’s 1970s photo albums – but most wouldn’t look out of place in a hipster neighborhood. By 1970 our modern fashion culture had emerged: much less formal and easier to maintain than the early ’60s looks, owing at least in part to all of the Joans and Peggys who were now working and didn’t have hours each week to press laundry.

RIP Sally’s knee socks.

Then there’s advertising. A few years ago I saw an old diner sign for pie. It said: “it is so good!” That’s it. That was advertising of the 1940s or so: tell them the pie is good. By the early seasons of Mad Men, more sophisticated targeted advertising had materialized. Pitch meetings involved discussions like “what kind of person uses this product?” and “who does the person using this product want to be?” By the finale, the public’s aspirations had changed. No longer striving for the middle class, suburban post-war ideal, the consumer of the 1970s wants to be enlightened, free-spirited and original. He wants to buy the world a Coke. With an ad concept that’s sure to get people talking, by 1970 we’re even looking at the start of viral marketing.

When I look at how the changing world affected these characters from 1960 to 1970, I have to wonder what would have happened to them after that. Throughout the 1970s, the firm probably focused on the youth-oriented marketing that was so successful in the Coke pitch. After all, the baby boomers had aged into that lucrative 18-35 demographic. Don Draper, at least trying to be a steady presence in his kids’ lives, stayed away from hardcore ’70s drug use. Sally had a misspent youth, as was the style of the time, and was just about the right age to hit the Studio 54 scene. Joan would have been hard at work at Holloway Harris. And Peggy… I can see the 1970s being Peggy’s decade, with the world finally getting a little closer to catching up with her. She and Stan would have made a great team both at work and out of it, and I’m sure Peggy got really into macrame decor, the ERA and oversized lapels. She would have spearheaded the firm’s pitch for a public service spot during the Oil Crisis. Baby Kevin probably ended the decade very wealthy indeed, because I can’t imagine Roger Sterling lasting that long.

The 1980s is when most of our characters would have seen a big payout. Most of our former “young professionals” would be in their 50s, the prime of their careers. Pete Campbell is still a weenie in the ’80s, because “Pete Campbell is a weenie” is an immutable truth. As a company man at Learjet, he probably made major bank targeting the Reagan-era business travel demographic. Don would find himself going back to the all-American family advertising of the early 60s, now that boomers were settling down with kids. Can’t you just see Joan getting really into ostentatious 1980s fashion as her production company booms?  Trudy is absolutely the kind of ’80s woman who decorated with ducks in bonnets. And of course, little Tammy Campbell would have graduated from Dartmouth in 1986.

Think of the popular advertising of your 90s childhood – all the neon and weird surfer slang. Some of it was coined by young ad execs, but there’s a good chance that those Nickelodeon Magazine and Sunny D spots were pitched by an aged Don Draper type. By the 1990s, the clunky typewriters are all replaced with computers, and 60-something Mad Men sat in front of desktop monitors waiting for the dial-up to turn on. This is probably the decade when most of our characters retired. 1990s Joan may be the world’s fiercest grandmother, with Kevin hitting his 20s and 30s. If Holloway Harris is a success, though, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Joan keep working into her 70s.

With the 2000s recession, most of our characters would be relieved to have left the work force. But maybe someone like Peggy would have kept working into the information age. All of these characters who used rotary phones are now face-timing their grandchildren on iPads. 90-year-old Don probably gets a kick out of online advertising.  If you’re reading this as a 20- or 30-something, Sally is probably close to your mom’s age. Can you picture a middle-aged Sally moving her kid into college in the 2000s, or an adult Sally tuning into Oprah every day after work? Or maybe her trips into the seedier parts of New York City are a sign that she ended up living the Bohemian lifestyle that Betty never had.

Back to 1970: in the Mad Men finale, Don was hanging out with his weird friends and I saw something unmistakable. It was the same exact cooler that accompanied my family on every road trip throughout my whole childhood. Then I did a little math. Let’s say one of my parents got that cooler in 1970 – reasonable, since they were college students at the time – and I remember traveling with it in 1992. The duration between 1992 and now is greater than from 1970 to 1992. In other words: I’m as far from my own childhood as my childhood was from the Mad Men era. The show was set in another time, but I’m from another time, too. When we were kids, the world was full of a lot of the same people, attitudes, and even tangible objects that had been there in the 1960s and 1970s. The other day, my dad mentioned that when he was a kid, all of the “old people” were folks who were alive in the 19th century – and now there are only 5 people left from that century. My brother added that the year he was born is as long ago today as the Korean war was when he was born.

It’s not just Ida Blankenship, and it’s not just Mad Men: we’re all time travelers. We’re all astronauts.

 

In Search Of: Mad Men Characters’ Closure

Last night, we said a final farewell to the folks on Madison Avenue, or rather the folks who ran away from the grind of the advertising life and the ones who decided to stick it through.

I personally was pleased with the way everyone’s story was wrapped up, as that was one of the main concerns of mine as we counted down to the final episodes. Would the last installment be just about Don? Would we ever get a Don/Sally scene? Or Roger/Joan? Or even Peggy/Pete? Luckily, we got all of those, and despite the fact a lot of people might not think enough “happened” in the series finale, I thought it was the best way to shut the door (and have a seat) with the characters we’ve been following for almost eight years.

And even one-liners about other characters like Dr. Rapist Harris/Joan’s ex-husband (lived through the war, is married with twins) and Margaret Sterling (still in that cult), gave us some sort of ‘cherry on top’/’tied with a bow’ ending.

But what about the characters that have been long gone? What happened to the ones who didn’t get a carefully crafted montage in the finale? I realize Mad Men/Matthew Weiner’s whole M.O. is that sometimes people leave without saying goodbye (see: series finale), but I just can’t help but wonder what happened to some of the people who used to be in the Mad Men inner sanctum.

Carla

HONESTLY, STILL MAD ABOUT HER LEAVING. Still mad at Betty for the way she fired her. Still the number one character I love to this day and held out hope for a return in the future. I bet she’s doing great things with her life. Honestly, any boss after Betty is an upgrade.

Sal Romano

Oh Sal. His storyline was heartbreaking – a closeted gay man who couldn’t come out and his homosexuality was ultimately what led to his firing from Sterling Cooper. Sal was a fan favorite and many still hoped he would make at least one appearance in the later seasons, but that never came to fruition. Is he still with his wife Kitty (played by Sarah Drew/April Kempner from Grey’s!), or by 1970 is he out and proud? Was he a part of Stonewall? Let’s just say yes.

Jimmy Barrett

Jimmy Barrett was an annoying son of a bitch. To this day, if I see that actor in another show, I’ll immediately hate him (**series finale mild spoiler***** kinda like that older woman just shoving Don at the retreat. They didn’t say a word, but she still felt like he needed a push (in the right direction?). I hope he and Bobbie called it quits. He should be single and doing his act in a bar in old Las Vegas.

Joyce Ramsay

Remember when we thought Peggy was gonna be a lesbian? Lezbehonest, it totally could’ve happened, and it totally could’ve happened with a pre-Girls Zosia Mamet. Joyce, and I think Peggy probably thought this too, was a breath of fresh air, the type of person she didn’t normally encounter during her corporate advertising travels. She was sure of herself and confident enough to wear a blazer in the 1960s. Did she become super feminist activist or just Shoshanna Shapiro’s mom?

Helen Bishop

If you forgot how Creepy Glen got into Betty’s life, it’s because his mom, Helen, was friends with her. Glen and Betty’s relationship got super weird, and by the time Betty gave young Glen a lock of her hair, Helen refused to let Glen get anywhere near her. Of course, he managed to avoid her stern request and met with Betty anyways. We get to see Glen as an 18 year old adult in one of the final episodes, right before he shipped off to war. Does Helen still hate Betty? Is she supportive of Glen’s decision to fight on the frontlines? Is there any possibility of a Mad Men/Scandal crossover-spin-off show?

Lois

This is the person who drove the John Deere tractor over someone’s foot. Where is she now??

Paul Kinsey

It was bound for one of the mad men to become a hippy dippy/granola/crunchy/spiritual type, considering the era. That person became Paul Kinsey and I solely correlate Hare Krishnas to him now.

Beth Dawes

Pete’s affair with the woman on the train ended up in crazy town – literally. She was sent to the looney bin, and that’s the last we see of her. I don’t think she was ever right for Pete anyways, but you always hope for an ending that leaves the character at peace. But I guess Alexis and Vinny lucked out IRL, since it turned out they were right for each other all along.

Stevie Wollcott

***series finale spoiler alert***

I am totally on the Peggy/Stan (Steggy) ship, but when I thought there was no hope for them, I was kind of rooting for Peggy to date Stevie, aka Mathis’ brother-in-law. He seemed like a genuinely nice guy, whose proposal of going to Paris didn’t seem too insane, but just crazy enough. But again, this is all moot because OMGZ STEGGY FEELS!! Also, he apparently was on My So-Called Life.

Bob Benson

Like Sal Romano before him, Bob Benson had a lot of hide. He even went so far as to propose to Joanie in hopes of living a ‘typical’ 1960s family, but she knew his secret, and luckily for him, said no. TBH, I don’t care where Bob Benson is now, I just think this exchange with Pete is one of the most iconic in Mad Men history.

Chauncey

No, but really. Where in the world is Duck’s dog Chauncey???

ICYMI: Your Baby’s Name Is Already Off-Trend

I don’t know about you guys, but there are more and more babies popping up on my Facebook feed, and some of them have reallll interesting names.

The Fastest-Rising Baby Names Of 2014 (And Why Your Kid Will Hate Them In 2027)

If you had a baby in 2014, enjoy! In 13 short years you will be the parent of a surly teenager. Surly teenagers hate many things, but their own name usually tops the list. That’s why last year we examined the top baby names of 2013, and why your kid will hate them in 2016. It doesn’t matter how restrained or normal the name was, how well-planned or creative — sometime in the next few decades you may have to answer to your child’s wrath. It’s not your fault.

Last week the Social Security Administration released the 2014 baby name rankings – the official list of every name given to more than 5 children in 2014. Since the top 10 names are mostly the same as they were last year, this year we’re looking at the fastest-rising names. Now, many of these were not highly ranked at all, given to maybe a few hundred kids, but what’s unusual is how quickly they skyrocketed. All the more reason for your children to hate them. We’re anticipating some of the kids’ arguments, but don’t worry if you’re the real parent of an Aranza or Bode: I don’t think any of these names are really terrible.

[Fastest-rising calculations courtesy of the Baby Name Wizard blog.]

Girls

Aranza
  • Aranza is a telenovela name, a form of  Arantxa (your daughter thanks you for not choosing Arantxa). Basically any name that pegs the mother as someone who watches a lot of soaps can be sort of embarrassing. Just ask all those 20-somethings named Kendall and Lucky.
  • It’s sort of simultaneously beautiful, yet also sounds like the name of an evil cartoon spider. Teenaged Aranza will latch onto the latter opinion.
Daleyza

Awww. Who WOULDN’T want a kid like little Daleyza?

  • Again, 13-year-olds are the worst: any name, however pretty, with the syllable “lay” in it will be the victim of dozens of dirty jokes.
  • A child will figure out that it sounds like “the laser” or “the lazy” and make even more jokes. None of them will be good or funny, because again, middle school.
  • People are stupid, so by 2027 little Daleyza will be tired of explaining that it’s not Da-LIE-za or Da-LEEZ-a.
  • If you think soap opera names will make your kids roll their eyes in 13 years (don’t worry, moms and dads, most things will make them roll their eyes in 13 years): try reality TV names. So it is with Daleyza, from mun2 reality show Larrymania. Fortunately, little Daleyza will have plenty of classmates with names like Khloe and Bethenny to keep her company.

Daleyza is quite the popular name for 2014. The year before, there were some crazy names too – including Sophia.

Top Baby Names Of 2013, And Why Your Kid Will Hate Them In 2026

It’s that time of year again – the Social Security Administration has separated the Adelyns from the Addalynns and the Jaidens from the Jaydens, and delivered its list of the top baby names of 2013. And let me tell you, this year the top 10 names are …. really normal. That’s why they’re top 10 names, you know?

The thing is, whether you named your kid Brooklyn or Greenpoint, she’ll probably hate her name in about 13 years. It’s just a phase kids go through, and no name – however normal – is safe. Here are my predictions for how the ten most popular baby names of 2013 will lead to the ten most angsty “I didn’t ask to be born!” arguments of 2026:

Girls

1. Sophia

When young Sophias finally reach the age where they can watch late-night syndicated sitcoms – truly a magical time in a young woman’s life, if my memories of The Facts of Life and Mary Tyler Moore serve – eventually they’re going to run across The Golden Girls. And at that time, your Sophia will discover that she’s really more of a Blanche.

Blanche, by the way, is a top baby name of 2026.

2. Emma

Okay, maybe your kid is a little less into TV and a little more into books. Don’t get too proud of yourself there, mom: reading is just nerd television. I should know. You’ve always told her that you named her after a Jane Austen heroine, the title character of Emma. When she gets old enough to read it, she discovers that Emma Woodhouse’s head is so far up her own ass that her face is damaged by stomach acid.

That’s when you have to tell her that you never actually read Emma. You heard that the movie Clueless was loosely based on it, and you’ve seen that easily 15 times, though. You sort of figured it was the same thing.

You should have gone with your gut and named her after Cher Horowitz.

3. Olivia

Your love for your child is something that will last a lifetime. Something else that will last a lifetime: your cached internet activity. That’s why your little Olivia will love her name … until she discovers your Olivia Pope fan tumblr and extensive postings on Olitz message boards. Then you’ll both feel a little bit weird about things.

4. Isabella

By the early ’20s, the Twilight franchise has become a camp classic. Teens gather in theaters reciting lines from the movie, dressing up as characters, and mocking the earnest Mormon sparkle of the adolescent vampires. They squeal shrilly (because what is more shrill than the mocking laughter of a junior high girl? It cuts like a knife, could a knife be made out of the things you secretly hate about yourself), asking their parents whether people really LIKED this stuff ever. And parents of tween Isabellas are left explaining that no, that wasn’t why they chose the name. But their daughters hate them anyway. Sorry.

5. Ava

When Heathers is remade in the late 20-teens – and it is a flop, I’m so sure – the filmmakers decide to update it to the modern era. All of those Heathers get renamed: the new movie is called Avas. Much like Heather in the ’80s,  everybody seems to know that one bitchy Ava who ruins the whole name. It’s like the female version of Jason, that way.

Anyway. Everyone agrees that Avas really wasn’t Michael Bay’s best work. Nor, honestly, his worst.


Boys

1. Noah

By the late 2020s, Noah is really more of a girl’s name. How did this solid biblical classic, with thousands of years as a man’s name, cross the gender line so quickly? Why, thanks to the meteoric rise of the political career of Senator Noah Cyrus (R-TN), of course. Some say she may even be the second female president someday. You, parents of 2013, just know her as Miley Cyrus’s weirdly named, poorly supervised kid sister.

Sorry. It is 2026, and Noah has now joined the ranks of Ashley, Madison, Beverly and Evelyn. They all seemed so manly once.

2. Liam

It’s not so much Liam that’s the problem. It’s a few years from now, when the creative spellings take over. Before you know it, every year elementary school teachers have to roll call Liam K. Liyam-with-a-y K., Liam C., Leeum V., and Leighham Q.  Poor Liams have to join forces with the Michaelas and Jasmines of the world, arguing that their name is spelled the right way.

3. Jacob

You really couldn’t have predicted this. The Goth movement makes a comeback, and your precious little Jacob wishes his name reflected how unique he is. Good luck cleaning all that Manic Panic out of your bathroom drains, and sorry that you have to listen to Best of Korn on cassette tape emanating from Jacob’s room. [Side note: tape is the new popular throwback music medium in 2026, like vinyl is now.]

You aren’t even that disappointed that Jacob hates his name — more that he’s kind of a late 90s Hot Topic-y goth instead of at least a cool 80s punk one. You can’t choose your children. Your children choose you. And, eventually, they may also choose nu metal.

4. Mason

Let’s just… I mean… nothing associated with the Kardashians is going to age well a decade hence. Just calling a spade a spade. They are our generation’s answer to Zsa Zsa and Eva. I hope we’re happy with what we’ve created.

5. William

When Queen Elizabeth steadfastly – but politely – refuses to die, Prince William evaluates his chances at ever actually ascending the throne. Realizing that it probably won’t happen until his mid-70s, he says “screw it” and joins the cast of series 25 of TOWIE. A few pub fights later, the nickname Bloody Billy (or, alternately, Bloody Willy) has taken hold.

It is not a fun time on the playground for little Williams. Or whatever the 2026 version of the playground is. It probably involves tablets.

Saturday Spotlight: Aca-Relevant

4/5 of these posts are irrelevant to the a capella theme: ac-irelevant. But if Pitch Perfect taught us anything, it’s that you can add aca- to the beginning of a word to make it relate to acapella: Aca-Relevant. See:

  • Aca-awesome: A capella music. That’s why our playlist of the month is all a capella, all the time. We got more New Englanders than a L.L. Bean outlet sale.
  • Aca-scuse me?Who the heck is this new Hamburgler and what, exactly, is he trying to do? We have questions. Just, like, a whole list of questions.
  • Ac-unfortunateDid you give your baby one of the fastest-rising names of 2014? They’re not all bad, but your baby will still hate it by the time he or she is 13.
  • Aca-all starWith only one season of American Idol to go, how about we make a dream team of former all stars, a la the second Hunger Games?
  • Aca-aging: That feeling you get when not only do strangers call you ma’am, they wish you a happy mother’s day and you are – in the words of that ugly dinosaur baby from Dinosaurs – not the mama.

Playlist of the Month: Amazing A Cappella

Pitch Perfect 2 comes out today, which, if you’ve been living in a cave since 2012, is a film franchise about competitive college a cappella groups. A cappella has had a revival of sorts since then, with shows like The Sing-Off also providing a platform for a cappella groups to score record deals.

But since we’re both nerds, we’ve appreciated good a cappella for years. In 2011, I think we both found this video by Swedish girl group Erato on our own separate Internet journeys and appropriately fangirled when we realized we were equally obsessed. And then the lovely Lennon and Maisy, pre-Nashville fame, did a cover of it and subsequently got 10 times more famous. Hey, what are you gonna do. Either way, this cover of Robyn’s Call Your Girlfriend is fantastic, and is just one example of how lovely and powerful a cappella can be. In the spirit of Bechloe and Fat Amy’s return, here are some of our favorite amazing sans-instrument performances, from real life a cappella groups.

Traci’s Picks

Berklee College of Music’s Pitch Slapped – Medley

In Pitch Perfect, the Barden Bellas’ main goal is to win the national a cappella championships. This is not made up. This is a real thing that college kids do. If you went to a school that was serious about a cappella like the one I went to, you understand. The International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella (ICCA) is what it’s called IRL, and it’s very serious. In 2014, Berklee’s Pitch Slapped won the ICCAs with this medley. In college, I went to a like, 10 hour (approximate time) college a cappella concert, and Pitch Slapped was one of the better groups. Sometimes you’ll find that not all soloists in these groups are the greatest, however every single person who sings a solo in this is amazing. Plus each arrangement is full of impressive harmonies and the transitions between songs are flawless. No wonder they won.

Duwende – Love Never Felt So Good by Michael Jackson

Just a quick side note: I found this group about a year-ish ago online and went through all their music videos, and when compiling this playlist, I promptly forgot what the group name was and all I remembered was that they sang a lot of R&B songs and the bald lead singer was freaking hot. Through intense internet research, I finally found them, and here they are! These guys (and gal) do a bunch of great Michael Jackson covers, including this one, you know the track released after MJ died and with JT.

Hyannis Sound – Unchain My Heart by Ray Charles

When I first found out about Hyannis Sound, it was when I still lived in Boston and I went to Cape Cod to visit my friend who was there for the week with her family. I don’t remember how they found out about these boys, but apparently they’re an all-male a cappella group that tours the Cape and New England every summer with their fantastic voices. Most of them are college kids who spend their summer break singing, and it’s great because it’s basically some of the best a cappella singers in the U.S. After going to their concert, I immediately watched all the videos on YouTube I could find because I’m an insane person who fangirls over college a cappella groups. But this soloist’s voice doe *emoji of praise hands*…

Firedrill! – If I Ain’t Got You by Alicia Keys

Speaking of fangirling… I saw Firedrill!, a Boston-based all-male a cappella group at the 20 hour long concert that I was talking about earlier (the length of said concert gets longer everytime). They closed out the concert as the ‘special guests’ and THIS GUY who is singing lead… I pretty much died when I heard this live. How am I even alive right now?

Fermata Town – Ain’t It Fun by Paramore

Hi, my friend is the girl singing Hayley Williams’ part, so, full disclosure. Good thing they’re fantastic.

University of Southern California’s SoCal VoCals – The Wire by Haim

I’m cheating because we usually only pick five songs, but it was super hard for me to narrow it down (see: Honorable Mentions). Despite the fact I still don’t understand what’s happening in this video (why are they birds, tho? oh USC film students), the vocals on the SoCal VoCals’ version of The Wire are on point and I love this arrangement. Plus, it helped them win the ICCAs this year, so if Elizabeth Banks says it’s the best, I do too.

Honorable Mentions:

Jimmy Fallon, The Roots and Miley Cyrus – We Can’t Stop, Sara Bareilles and Sonos – Gravity, my boys BSB – Safest Place To Hide.

Molly’s Picks

Once – Gold

Is it cheating to include an a capella number from a Broadway musical instead of by a bona-fide a capella group? Or is it just the beautiful marriage of the two cheesiest musical forms: a capella and musical theater? Sometimes I get a huge kick out of a capella and sometimes I cannot deal with how corny it is (come on, everyone, you know it’s true). Anyway, this is refreshingly low on the “bum bums” and “shooooom” sound effects.

Sonos – White Winter Hymnal by Fleet Foxes

What I love about Sonos: yes, they are an a capella group, but their arrangements are more reminiscent of really beautiful choral music (that is: also fairly low on the bum bums and shoooooms). This is gorgeous and if I weren’t compiling a post on a capella music, I would have to remind myself that this was even a capella.

ShireiNU A Cappella of Northwestern University – A-Punk by Vampire Weekend

Some music really lends itself to a capella performance. See, e.g.: James Taylor; anything on the doo wop spectrum. Maybe it’s because they remind me of Cape Cod and overall preppiness and so does a capella, but I’d absolutely put Vampire Weekend on that list. Music for boat shoes and GTH pants (JK I hate GTH pants).

Harvard LowKeys – Chicago by Sufjan Stevens

Again, this sounds as much like a really solid choral arrangement as it does a capella – there’s some beat boxing … can you call it beat boxing when it’s Sufjan Stevens and Harvard? … but the soprano part sounds more like a liturgical descant than a chirpy a capella “oo, oo” thing. We already told you we’re nerds, you had to know we were going to toss in things like “liturgical descant.” A pitfall of a lot of a capella groups is keeping the volume in the 9-10 range the whole time, but this group plays with the dynamics instead.

Broad Street Line – Grace Kelly

Once upon a time, when I lived on the Broad Street Line and attended Temple, I had never heard of this group. Shame on me, I totally missed out! Anyway, remember how we were all really into Mika? Let’s do that again.

 

 

 

 

Questions I Have About The New Hamburglar

McDonalds revealed the new Hamburglar last week, and the result was one that no man, woman, or child could ever have imagined. As news of the rebooted hamburger bandit sweeped the Internet, people were shocked to see this on their screen:

Yeah. This guy. So… Let’s start off with the fact that when I was growing up and McDonald’s was the place you’d get a Happy Meal and free toy and maybe get to go to the PlayPlace, the Hamburglar looked that this:

I mean, I see the similarities, but here’s my own main complaint – the new guy ISN’T A CARTOON. He’s like a person. Like the human neighbors that hang out on Sesame Street. And for some reason that’s really jarring for me.

Upon doing some brief research, the Hamburglar reboot is part of a new McDonald’s rebranding of the character, who is suburban dad by day and Hamburglar by night/after the kids go to school. He’s also a wanted man:

Okay…

What?
Who is this man?
Why does he look like Eddie Cibrian?
Is he supposed to be deviously hot?
If you’re wanted for stealing hamburgers, wouldn’t it be a dead giveaway by wearing a hamburger print tie?
When did the Hamburglar get dimples?
Does McDonalds do ‘gourmet’ burgs now?
What’s a “third pound”?

BTW the McDonald’s Twitter account is officially trying too hard, but I mean, you do you Mickey D’s. You do you. They later posted this video:

Why are you saying ‘Robble Robble’?
What does that even mean? How are you talking to America on social media if you’re “Wanted”?
Who is your wife?
I’m assuming she thinks you’re at work?
Is this your main source of income?
Are you at the party store because you bought that Hamburglar costume?

Apparently I’m not the only one who has questions, because a spokesperson from a McDonald’s released a statement clearing up the confusion over the new Hamburglar:

“The clip that was posted to Twitter this afternoon wasn’t a commercial. As part of Hamburglar’s takeover of the McDonald’s Twitter account, the short video shows his double life: grabbing Sirloin Third Pound Burgers while keeping his identity under wraps via a call back to his family in the suburbs.”

What?
Why does anybody need to be steal hamburgers?
Why did the Hamburglar even need a reboot at all?
Who is McDonald’s target demographic with this?
Why is he specifically stealing Sirloin Third Pound Burgers?
If it wasn’t a commercial, what is it?

And the hits kept coming…

So these Sirloin Third Pound Burgers are a ‘limited edition’??
Why does he want American to keep tweeting #RobbleRobble?
How is America going to help?
There should’ve probably been a better social media campaign than this?
McDonald’s is one of the biggest and most successful companies in the world why did they shoot this on a shotty green screen?

If you thought you were safe from the Hamburglar, think again. He’s probably coming to your city.

How is he getting to all these cities?
Is he going on a plane with this ridiculous get-up?
It doesn’t even look like he’s really eating this Third Pound?
Does he even like hamburgers?
Is this secretly a campaign to get America to stop eating hamburgs and start eating healthier?

Clearly I have a lot of questions about this new direction McDonald’s marketing & PR department is going in, but if it works for them, then good on ya. But in the meantime, I’ll still be asking all these questions. And I still won’t be close to eating at McDonald’s any time soon.

The Fastest-Rising Baby Names Of 2014 (And Why Your Kid Will Hate Them In 2027)

If you had a baby in 2014, enjoy! In 13 short years you will be the parent of a surly teenager. Surly teenagers hate many things, but their own name usually tops the list. That’s why last year we examined the top baby names of 2013, and why your kid will hate them in 2016. It doesn’t matter how restrained or normal the name was, how well-planned or creative — sometime in the next few decades you may have to answer to your child’s wrath. It’s not your fault.

Last week the Social Security Administration released the 2014 baby name rankings – the official list of every name given to more than 5 children in 2014. Since the top 10 names are mostly the same as they were last year, this year we’re looking at the fastest-rising names. Now, many of these were not highly ranked at all, given to maybe a few hundred kids, but what’s unusual is how quickly they skyrocketed. All the more reason for your children to hate them. We’re anticipating some of the kids’ arguments, but don’t worry if you’re the real parent of an Aranza or Bode: I don’t think any of these names are really terrible.

[Fastest-rising calculations courtesy of the Baby Name Wizard blog.]

Girls

Aranza
  • Aranza is a telenovela name, a form of  Arantxa (your daughter thanks you for not choosing Arantxa). Basically any name that pegs the mother as someone who watches a lot of soaps can be sort of embarrassing. Just ask all those 20-somethings named Kendall and Lucky.
  • It’s sort of simultaneously beautiful, yet also sounds like the name of an evil cartoon spider. Teenaged Aranza will latch onto the latter opinion.
Daleyza

Awww. Who WOULDN’T want a kid like little Daleyza?

  • Again, 13-year-olds are the worst: any name, however pretty, with the syllable “lay” in it will be the victim of dozens of dirty jokes.
  • A child will figure out that it sounds like “the laser” or “the lazy” and make even more jokes. None of them will be good or funny, because again, middle school.
  • People are stupid, so by 2027 little Daleyza will be tired of explaining that it’s not Da-LIE-za or Da-LEEZ-a.
  • If you think soap opera names will make your kids roll their eyes in 13 years (don’t worry, moms and dads, most things will make them roll their eyes in 13 years): try reality TV names. So it is with Daleyza, from mun2 reality show Larrymania. Fortunately, little Daleyza will have plenty of classmates with names like Khloe and Bethenny to keep her company.
Everly

  • Everly Brothers: charming, old-school 1950s musicians, or hokey as hell? Tween Everly thinks hokey (don’t worry, she’ll come around).
  • Everly kind of sounds like a weird adverb. That’s not really a bad thing, just an observation. They lived everly after. I’ll mow the lawn wheneverly. She’ll have this name foreverly.
Montserrat

Montserrat has it all: it’s not new or made-up. It’s a place name, and it has religious significance. And all of that will be lost on a 13-year-old.

  • The taunting starts early, with the nickname “monster rat.” Unfortunately, it comes from her preschool teacher’s failed attempt to pronounce the name on the first day (hint: it is pronounced exactly like the letters in the name look. Put the accent on the last syllable. Done).
  • Having a name that means “mountain” will not feel awesome when lil Montse hits that junior high growth spurt and feels like she’s towering over everyone.
  • At age 13, Montserrat is old enough to order those fluffy Starbucks drinks, but too young to find it hilarious when her name is misspelled.
Elsa

You’ve loved the name Elsa since you were a little girl, and just your luck, Disney releases a movie with a heroine named Elsa right when you’re getting ready to have kids. I named a character Elsa in a book I wrote in third grade — I get it. [Other characters: Charlotte, Lillian, Lucy, Eleanor. Man, was I ever tapped into the popular baby names of 2015 back in 1995).

  • “Let it goooo, let it GOOO!” If you think you’re sick of this now, imagine how tired little Elsa will be by, oh, third grade or so.
  • Sharing a name with a Disney princess has a ton of cultural cache in Kindergarten; less so in seventh grade.
  • Also, stupid children’s jokes: “Do you have a sister named Anna?” “It’s cold in here, right” [pointed stare at Elsa.]

Boys

Gannon

If you’re scratching your head about what a “gannon” is, you probably don’t watch Teen Mom. Me either. It sounds name-ish, and it’s a short name that ends in -n, a pattern that is all over the boy name charts. But don’t worry, your teen will still hate it in 2027 because:

  • TEEN MOM. First of all. You can swear to him that that’s not where you got it, but he won’t believe you.
  • ZELDA. Not just Zelda, but the bad guy from Zelda. And if any name from Zelda is trendy, why not Zelda? That’s actually cool.
  • You may be well-versed in up-and-coming names, but the receptionist at your pediatrician’s office or elementary school definitely isn’t. “Gannon Smith.” “CANNON?” “Gannon.” “No, but like, Dannon?” “Gannon.” “Gander.” “Gannon.” “Shannon.” It’s a new name, but it sounds sort of like a bunch of other names and words.
Karter

Well, somebody’s been taking a page from Kris Jenner’s guide to baby naming. And your baby doesn’t care now, but he’ll care in middle school – not because you’re a bad parent, but because the human brain is beset by obnoxious little demons from ages 11-14 or so.

  • Everyone’s just going to spell it Carter, then you’ll have to say “Carter with a K.” Which isn’t that big a hassle, but what’s the point?
  • And when Kris Jenner has that baby boy at the age of 63 after a few seasons of flagging ratings on E! – thank you, science – Karter is really going to hate sharing his name with baby Karter Kardashian.  Yes, Kris is going to legally change her surname to Kardashian in 2020 or so to keep it “on-brand.”
Bode
  • People assuming that either he – or you – smokes a whole lot of weed. It’s like the name version of having one of those heavy, woven Mexican blankets in your trunk. See also: Kai.
  • The name will constantly get mispronounced as “bode,” unless you pronounce it that way, in which case it will constantly get mispronounced as “bodie.” You’ll try to explain to his teachers that the accent is on the “e” — from which point, his name will be pronounced “boe-DAY.”
  • Seems like it stands out, but his karate class will have a Brodie and a Bodhi … oops.
  • Also, I almost wrote “karate klass.” THANKS KARTER.
Royal
  • You wouldn’t think that people would remember the Lorde song “Royals” well enough to sing it at him in 2027. But they do, because by then our nostalgia cycle is moving faster than ever and we’re all really pining for 2013.
  • By 2027, baby Royal has also internalized thirteen years of your mother-in-law tut-tutting “I don’t know why you had to go and name him ROYAL” every time she visits.
  • The nickname Roy. Just, you know, in general.
Axl
  • The worst fear of any parent naming their child “Axl”: he will grow up to be a music snob. There’s only so many times he can hear “Oh, like Axl Rose?” before he snaps.
  • He also won’t love how, thanks to Axl Rose, his camp nickname was “Rosie.”
  • Unlike the Scandinavian classic Axel, people will think that they’re supposed to smoosh the consonants together.

Bottom line: all of the girls’ names are appealing enough that I can see why parents’ will choose them. Your kids aren’t any more likely to hate them than if they were named Sophia or Mary. Which still makes your kids pretty likely to hate them, because kids are the worst. And the best. Congrats on your 2014 baby!