Comic-Con: Not Just For Nerds Anymore

When the first Comic-Con launched in San Diego in 1970, it was only attended by about 100 fans. It was originally founded to showcase comic books and science fiction/fantasy films and TV shows. The featured guests included a science-fiction book collector and a comic book artist. Since then, Comic-Con has turned into a pop culture mecca across almost all genres, including horror, animation, video games and more. 150,000 people are expected to show-up (would be my personal hell) this year. Is it because there are more comic book fans than ever or because Comic-Con has become the ‘it’ place to be?

my friend was forced to go to comic-con by her bf a few years ago and she said it was hot, sweaty, it smelled and way too many people in a close proximity. she goes every year – to enjoy san diego while everyone else is at the convention.

There was a time when Comic-Con was thought of to be the place where geeks gather – which, let’s be honest is still true to an extent – but over the years, geek culture has become cool, and all zeitgeisty. I mean the fact that the most popular films over the past decade or so have been superhero films says it all. The kids who were once made fun of for reading comic books aren’t nerds – they’re the ones who know most about current pop culture.

And this particularly reflects at Comic-Con, where it’s become the ‘go-to’ place for celebrities over the past few years. If you want buzz for your TV show or movie, you better go to Comic-Con. All of the major studios get a couple hours to show off their upcoming movies and last year, director Zack Snyder made an unannounced appearance at the Warner Bros. panel to reveal that his Man of Steel sequel would feature Batman. Obviously, since then so much hype has been made about who they would cast as Batman, and even more of a fuss was made when they announced Ben Affleck would become Batfleck.

On the TV side, the cast of Veronica Mars went down to San Diego for a panel in Hall H, the biggest venue with over 6,000 seats. It was the first time the cast and creator Rob Thomas came together in front of the public since they smashed the Kickstarter records, and they debuted the first (mini) trailer for the film. Thanks to technology and social media, people live-blogged, live-tweeted, live-Facebooked etc. the event and the conversation about Veronica Mars reached beyond the 6,000+ people in Hall H – it went all around the world. This is the kind of publicity and buzz entertainment bosses and marketers hope for when they send their casts to Comic-Con, and it’s exactly why the convention has gone beyond traditional comic books (although those folks are definitely prominent throughout the weekend as well).

Whether you’re heading to Comic-Con among the throngs of people or following the action in the privacy of your own home, here are a few panels/events to keep an eye on as the buzz gets buzzier.

Thursday, July 24th

The Giver

Jeff Bridges, Brenton Thwaites, and Odeya Rush, director Phillip Noyce, and author Lois Lowry are scheduled to attend, but this is Meryl Streep’s perfect opportunity to show up to Comic-Con and blow everyone’s minds. Also, this will give the cast and director a good chance to defend themselves against everyone that hates the trailer.

Community

#SixSeasonsAndAMovie!!! It’s coming back y’all. Just when you thought they were out, they come back like Starburns from the dead. Speaking of which, he’ll be there, along with Joel McHale, Gillian Jacobs, Jim Rash and executive producers Dan Harmon and Chris McKenna. While I’m glad it’s rightfully receiving its sixth season, it’ll be interesting to hear where they’ll take the storyline and if the show being on Yahoo will effect it at all.

Sharknado 2: The Second One

Just in time for the sequel which premieres on July 30th, the cast, including Ian Ziering, Tara Reid, Vivica A. Fox and Judah Friedlander will be on hand to talk about ANOTHER tornado made of sharks. (P.S. we’re liveblogging it, so be prepared)

Goosebumps

Yes, that Goosebumps. Jack Black stars as R.L. Stine, whose crazy scary creatures are brought to life by his teenage neighbor, played by Scandal first kid Dylan Minnette. Chances are they’ll release some kind of clip or something but will the posters ever be as good as the covers?

Pixels

Finally, a movie of Adam Sandler’s that doesn’t sound stupid or sexist! In this movie, aliens mistake satellite feeds of classic arcade video games like Space Invaders and Centipede as a declaration of war and attack Earth using the same eight-bit characters and strategies. The U.S. President (Kevin James) hires a group of former arcade prodigies including Adam SAndler, Peter Dinklage and Josh Gad to combat the aliens. Color me intrigued.

Friday, July 25th

Mike Tyson Mysteries

Mike Tyson has a cartoon. He stars in a cartoon where he solves mysteries. His co-star is Jim Rash from Community. I don’t even really like animated series but the fact that Mike Tyson is a *voice over actor* is hilarious.

Orphan Black

An hour in which the cast, executive producers Graeme Manson and John Fawcett and the fans in attendance praise Tatiana Maslany and let out their frustrations over the fact she was snubbed yet again this year at the Emmys.

Horns

Daniel Radcliffe wears horns in this movie. He was supposed to come for HP & The Deathly Hallows, but couldn’t because of scheduling, so hopefully this year will mark his long-awaited debut at the Con. It’s like the mothership is calling him home. The movie’s about DanRad’s character who grows devil horns after his town is convinced he murdered his girlfriend. You know, the usual overdone storyline.

Saturday, July 26th

Fight Club: From Page to Screen and Beyond

Author Chuck Palahniuk recently announced that he’s finally writing that sequel to the first book, a mere 18 years after it was released. That sequel is appropriately coming in the form of a 10-issue comic book series, and he will no doubt talk about it at the panel. The movie’s director, David Fincher will be on hand and I’m guessing the chance of Brat Pitt or Edward Norton showing up is slim to none.

Warner Bros.

Warner Bros. has three major films on the docket, including Jupiter Ascending (Channing Tatum being all heroic with Mila Kunis), Mad Max: Fury Road (Charlize Theron looking like a badass) and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (honestly had no idea there were still more Hobbit movies in the making). Of course there might be a surprise or two – perhaps Zack Snyder will show up like last year, but this time with the cast of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice? Batfleck, everyone. Just want to keep saying Batfleck.

Marvel Studios

I’m going to be honest with you guys – I haven’t seen The Avengers. Add that to my list of pop culture blind spots. Of course it’s like one of the best-selling films of all time, but I’m immune to it, apparently. The follow-up, Avengers: Age of Ultron doesn’t come out until next May, but there’s sure to be something teased at Comic-Con. Of course Marvel will make its last-minute push for Guardians of the Galaxy, which opens next weekend (not like they’ll need it). I’m just looking forward to more Chris Pratt interviews, and maybe more french braiding.

Sunday, July 27th

Batkid: The Film

Get your tissues out again. The San Francisco kid who stole our hearts is back at the centre of a project of an Indiegogo campaign, and the filmmakers behind the documentary will be on hand to talk about the movie (and probs ask for money).

Random notes: Paramount Pictures and 20th Century Fox will also give presentations, and panels from the Sin City sequel and Outlander TV series will be held. There might be unexpected previews for Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar and the new Jurassic Park too. Also, super geeks will rejoice in seeing Benedict Cumberbatch at his first ever Comic-Con. Keep your clothes on, ladies. And men.

Camp Cookies + Sangria: Fake Letters From Real (Weird) Summer Camps

When I was a kid, letters to home were a big part of my summer camp dream. It seemed so quaint – like I would be an old-timey soldier or a traveler with one of those brown suitcases that’s covered in stickers. Okay, maybe you’re not a very cool kid if the fun part of summer camp is the writing exercises.

Last week, we brought you a list of weird summer camps that real parents actually send their children to. Because Camp Cookies + Sangria is all about wish fulfillment, today I’m living out my childhood dream and creating some letters for kids from these camps to send home. Hop on over to the other post if you’ve forgotten the insanity. Then just fill in the blanks, send to your parents, and get back to your adventures!

 

High Explosives Camp

Dear Mom and Dad,

Explosives camp is the bomb! That is a joke that all of the cool kids at explosives camp like to make.

We get to stay in tents for the rest of camp! Also there are no cabins anymore.

I think my bunkmate forged parts of his moral character application.

Please send burn salve.

Love,

(Name)

P.S.: Please don’t worry if my face doesn’t look all-the-way the same when I get home.

Ninja Camp

 

Dear Mom and Dad,

[sneaky silence]

[more silence]

[KARATE CHOP! Knives!]

Love,

(name)

Fantasy Battle Camp

Dear Mom and Dad,

I had to go to a second confession today because I keep calling my roommate a hobbit.

I make my confirmation at the end of camp! Waiting for approval to use Gollum as my confirmation name.

I have to go get ready for my jousting tourney before Second Dinner.

Love,

(name)

P.S. Does the Lead Gandalf wizard robe guy know that I’m Jewish, or…

Plantation Farm Camp

Dear Mom and Dad,

Remember how, in history, if a person was told that they were going to one place, but ended up at a plantation doing work instead, it usually wasn’t awesome?

Not cool, guys. This is obviously not fashion camp.

Oh, and thanks for the care package, but everything got confiscated because none of it was organic.

I did start taking care of a really cool goat, though! I haven’t seen it yet today.

For lunch today, we are having pizza.

For dinner, we’re having goat.

I hate you,

(name)

 

Zombie Camp

Dear Mom and Dad,

I know my theater professors told me that any job can lead to great things, but maybe playing the undead at zombie camp isn’t the right role for me.

It’s hard to immerse myself in lurching technique and grunting when I’m reacting so badly to the zombie makeup. I have a weird rash on literally everything.

They make us eat “brains” at the mess hall, and I’m not sure what it is, but I’m not ready to say that it’s NOT brains. The bug juice also might be bug juice.

Close-range nerf guns really do hurt.

Love,

(name)

P.S.: I’ve been thinking about that talk we had about having “something to fall back on” if acting doesn’t work out.

Equestrian Teen Tour Of Russia

Dear Mom and Dad,

So it turns out that Russia is not the best place for an equestrian teen. Or, like, a person in general. I can’t wait to cantor back to the United States! Next year please remember that my first preference was the Equestrian Teen Tour of France, and my second preference was getting a summer job like a normal freaking teenager.

Been getting really into the Romanovs.

Love,

(Name)

#Prince George Memes #Better Than Your Faves

Exactly one year ago today, a lot of creeps from around the world were on Baby Watch, staring at a hospital in England, waiting for a couple to come out to debut their new kid. Of course, because it was the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with the future king, it wasn’t as creepy. Today we celebrate his first birthday, and a year of adorable public appearances from Prince George. It’s hard to believe that this tiny tot:

Is now this overall-wearing sorta ginge (?!) walking babe amongst us plebs.

That’s right. I said plebs. Plebeians. The commonfolk. Let’s be real, none of us (unless you’re a member of the royal family reading this right now, in which case – ‘what up’) are worthy enough to be in Prince George’s presence, let alone look at photos of him. This is precisely why the plebs of the internet are my heroes. Who would have ever imagined that some pedestrians would be able to turn Prince Geezy’s public appearances into memes that will forever make me laugh and swoon at the same time? In honor of his royal highness’ landmark birthday, here are some of my favorite Prince George memes the internet wizards have made since his birth last year. Enjoy. And happy birthday baby!!

The Weird Aunt’s Guide To Car Trip Games

It’s my belief that every child should have that one weird aunt. You know, the one who will illustrate the kids’ stories about LeBron James, buy ill-advised potentially dangerous Christmas gifts, and laugh at the kids’ butt jokes. This is important, because it teaches kids that silliness doesn’t stop when you become an adult.  [Parents don't get to be quite as silly because they're the ones who have to make sure the children don't get lost, injure themselves or make butt jokes.]

However, being the weird aunt isn’t so fun when you’re in a car with kids (unless they’re the kids who have those portable DVD players or you’re an adult with a portable DVD player). In fact, I believe car rides with kids are the primary form of transportation between Dante’s circles of hell.

Between driving my local nephews around and being wedged between carseats in my parents’ van for out-of-town trips, I’ve finally got it somewhat worked out: if I’m the one driving, it’s better to run the show than it is to leave the kids to their own devices — unless the devices are electronic, then have at it kiddos! Here are a few of the weird games we do that don’t entirely suck. You could probably use these with adults, as well. Hey, sometimes we all get a little fussy in the car.

Old-School Rapping

Imagination.

 

Reality.

So maybe a lady in a shirtdress and two little boys aren’t the most authentic rap trio, but it helps pass the time if you’re with kids who are old enough to know what rhyming is. There’s a few ways to do it – have them give you one line then you come up with the rhyme to follow it, or maybe decide on a topic then just roll with it. We are big fans of the old-school classics: spelling things (the trick is to add the words “to the” between the letters, guys), making others repeat things (when I say ___ you say ___!), and commanding people to put their hands in the air.

Whatever, it’s better than the license plate game.

The Rhyming Game

Similar to the above, but makes no pretense of being music. They give you a silly sentence, you rhyme it, and you go back and forth creating a story or poem.

The Question Game

This one is such a hit with little guys! Everything you say has to be a question, and the first person to make a statement instead of a question loses.

Okay. I’ll admit it. I have taught them most of the parts of the drinking game Kings. I might be the worst person ever.

Gently mocking annoying drivers

Is it hard to keep from swearing at bad drivers when you have kids in the car? Oh, no no no. You just have to gently mock them instead. Actually, this is what I do when I’m driving by myself too. You pick the type of voice that goes with their car and have at it.

Dumb, Slow voice: Hi, I’m Bob. I have a truck. This is my truck. It can go in any lane! It can go in every lane. Go, truck! Go!

Heavy vocal fry: I’m soo busy. Ohmygod. Ew. Stop siiiiigns? Are for poor people. Gross.

Silly Voice Contest

… which brings us to the silly voice contest. Everybody picks a different silly voice and a persona to go with it, and sticks with it until somebody breaks. It’s not really a “contest” because seriously, everybody wins here. Or loses, depending on your tolerance for bits that go on way to long.

World’s Worst Trifle

When you’ve run out of drinking games to teach to children, start using Friends episodes instead. I know you all remember the beef trifle, and this is a game along those lines. Everyone adds a different layer to create the world’s worst combination of flavors and textures imaginable. I suppose you could make this some sort of educational memory game by going in alphabetical order and repeating all the other layers before adding a new one but I’m obviously not trying to make things too classy here.

Songs In The Style Of…

Whatever’s on the radio, you have to sing it in the style of somebody else. Iggy Azalea in the style of Kidz Bop? One Direction in the style of Blues Traveler? Miley Cyrus in the style of a 1920s lady at a speakeasy? Actually, my nieces and nephews don’t do this, but they do have to listen to me do it – and to be honest, those are all things I sang by myself on the way to work this week alone. Sometimes the adult should get to have fun too.

 

ICYMI: When I Met Harry and Sally

It’s hard to believe, but this week marked 25 years since When Harry Met Sally was first released in the theaters. And only one month since the first time I ever watched it…

Pros & Cons of Watching When Harry Meets Sally 25 Years Too Late

Last month, I went to an outdoor screening of When Harry Met Sally. And believe it or not - it was my first time EVER seeing the movie. I’ll give you a minute to let that sink in.

So going into my first viewing of WHMS, I had an inkling I would like it – I just didn’t realize I would like it THAT much. I couldn’t stop talking about it and thinking about it. I even looked up how much it would be on Amazon that same night. There are so many reasons why I enjoyed it, but I finally realized after viewing it why it had become such an important film in movie history – the story is timeless. At its core, WHMS is a movie questioning whether or not men and women can stay friends and never turn into lovers. That wasn’t just a problem in the 1980s, but it’s obviously still a question that’s asked today. And despite the fact WHMS is timeless, it’s not entirely “timeless”, as in, it’s been 25 years (to this day) since it was released, and there are still things that change over time. So here’s a few pros and cons I noted while watching this iconic movie for the very first time.

PRO: A youthful Meg Ryan

I think the first movie I ever saw Meg Ryan in was Sleepless in Seattle, which was made only four years after WHMS. But I don’t remember her ever looking as young as she did in this movie. I mean look at the youth! Look at the glow! She’s practically a baby acting out adult themes! It’s amazing that we can forever look back at this movie and seen the exact moment when she became a bonafide movie star.

CON: Meg Ryan’s face now

meg-ryan-billy-crystal-when-harry-met-sally-rftr

Well. Here she is. This picture was taken in April. Now 53, Meg is…  still sporting a cute blonde ‘do.

PRO: Still feeling hopeful for a love that lasts a lifetime

But how cute are these couples. Fun fact: they’re all real couples telling their real stories. Director Rob Reiner got the idea when he was talking to his producing friend’s dad and said, “Mr. Horn, how did you meet your wife?” Mr. Horn lit up and told Rob his story. And Mr. Horn is actually the very first guy featured in the set of interviews alongside his wife. *swoon*

CON: Wondering where the old couples are now

Okay sorry to be the downer here, but like, this movie was made 25 years ago, right? And these cute couples are old. Like they had already been married for about 50 years, old. I’m not (completely) delusional to realize that some of these folks might not be with us anymore and that makes me really sad.


Seeing When Harry Met Sally checks a movie off my ‘Movies to watch in my lifetime’ list. But there are some that I’ve never seen and never want to. Here are some classic movies that I’ve never seen and are my pop culture blind spots.


I’m Just Not That Into You: Pop Culture Blind Spots

One of my favorite pop culture sites, Vulture, recently posted an article about their staff’s “Pop Culture Blind Spots.” Basically, this is a term coined for people who usually tout their knowledge of entertainment, but have those few shameful gaping holes that the rest of the world has been privy to – except you.

Here is my list of blind spots, that I fully own up to, and will probably never rectify any time soon.

Star Wars

I feel like for most people, correct me if I’m wrong, the Star Wars franchise was something they grew up with, a movie tradition passed down generation to generation. But I grew up as a first generation offspring of Filipino immigrants. I think they were stuck somewhere in the 1950s/60s because I remember watching The Lawrence Welk Show every weekend and listening to the Oldies station on the radio. Needless to say, I was never ‘shown’ Star Wars. But in all honesty, I have no interest. Like most of the things on the list, I can tell you the main characters, perhaps a plot point or two, but if you start talking to me about death stars and the force or something, I will most definitely tune you out.

Lord of the Rings

Gay Gandalf FTW

In 6th grade, we were required to read The Hobbit. That is the closest I’ve ever gotten to Lord of the Rings. I don’t remember being really into Frodo and his gang then, and I certainly am not as an adult. But like, Sir Ian McKellen played like a gay Dumbledore-like guy, right?

Pirates of the Caribbean

One time at a party in my high school years, I remember that one of the movies was playing (I was really cool back then). It’s not like everyone was forced to watch it, it was one of those things that it was on in the background while everyone mingled and ate cool ranch Doritos. I tried focusing my attention on it for like 10 minutes but lost interest. Sorry Johnny Depp. I’m just not that into you. The ride at Disneyland is pretty dope though, I’ll give you that.

Godfather/Scarface/etc.

I’d consider watching Scarface if he attacked people with a banjo

In the same vein as Star Wars being a tradition thing, I also did not see any of those gangster type movies. This blind spot also has a lot to do with the fact that I hate anything with a lot of violence in it, so it bodes well that I haven’t seen these.

Tarantino films

oh my god what is happening here

Continuing with the theme of ‘Traci hates gruesome violence,’ I have never seen any of Quentin Tarantino’s films except Inglorious Basterds. I thought I’d give that a try because a couple of my friends loved it, and Brad Pitt AND BJ Novak were both in it. I watched it on a Saturday and it literally took me all day because I either couldn’t bear to watch it, walked away, or fell asleep. The violence and brutality was wayyy too much for me, and just confirmed the fact that I am not the target demographic for any of his films.

What are some of your pop culture blind spots?

 

Saturday Spotlight: Everybody Rise!

I’m honestly still bummed about Elaine Stritch. But I’m also amazed: how many times, when you hear that someone died at the age of 89, do you react by thinking “well, that’s just not fair!” Her age didn’t seem to matter. At an age when some folks knit and watch The Price Is Right all day (and maybe we shouldn’t put an age on that behavior because it sounds pretty appealing to me, to be honest), she was a stage and TV star. It definitely makes you want to get out there and do stuff – Everybody Rise!, you know?

What we do, of course, is write stuff. Here’s what we had for you this week:


 

Broad City: A Toast to Elaine Stritch

We lost a good one yesterday, folks. Elaine Stritch – actress, singer, and the ultimate performer – passed away at the young age of 89. Or at least that’s what she made it seem like, anyways.

Elaine was known for her brutal honesty. Her salty candor. Her tart tongue. Her brassiness (is that even a word?). Her refusal to wear pants. Her unwavering ability to tell it like it is and not apologize for it. She was the absolute definition of a broad (in the best way possible). Elaine was what a lot of women, and men too, I imagine, wished they had the courage to be. She was fearless and she was truthful, classy yet not, and admirable all at the same time. A true legend and icon that will never be matched in our lifetimes.


 

Throwback Thursday: Pappy Drewitt

Ah, Pappy Drewitt. If you were born in the 90s, maybe you can still hear the song: Pappy, Pappy Drewitt, he drew Pappyland. And you too can do it, if you’re in Pappyland!

But I wouldn’t know, because I was born in the 80s. Young enough to watch children’s TV in the 90s, but old enough to watch it mockingly, I remember singing something more like “Crappy, Crappy Drewitt, he blew Crappyland. And you too can do it, if urine Crappyland!”

If you wonder why millennials like things ironically, I direct you to the (relative) success of the T.L.C. show Pappyland. Except for children under the age of 5, none of us were watching it in earnest. We were watching it to exercise our budding comedic sensibilities, like a fawn first learning to walk. Pappy Drewitt is probably the cultural moment that confirmed that we are truly The Shittiest Generation.

Pappyland was a children’s art show about a kindly elderly man who lives in a fantasy world that he drew himself, possibly an allegory about how those with Alzheimer’s connect with the very young, possibly an attempt to teach children about the joys of self-expression. It was a tender gift from TLC to the children of the world – literally. The opening sequence actually says “Dedicated To Children Around The World.” And the shitty children around the world said “ha, it rhymes with Crappyland!” and tore it to shreds.

80s Babies, I’m back for round two.

pappy4

Even though I hate-watched Pappy Drewitt, I still always secretly wished he would say my name when he greeted children through the screen. He never did, because those bitches were always named Jessica.

Pappy Drewitt is a soulless children’s show: like Barney without all of the children. Or Mr. Rogers without the gentile middle-class lifestyle (I think Pappy is Appalachian?). Or Sesame Street without virtually everything likeable about Sesame Street.

They’re obviously trying – there are puppets, which is sort of the minimum baseline effort you have to make in children’s t.v. – but there’s not a surly Oscar or a childlike Elmo in sight. Instead, the Pappy puppets are all indistinguishable idiots. There’s an idiot bear, a dumb-bitch girl flower, and this one stupid bird.


 

Camp Cookies + Sangria: Weird Summer Camps Parents Send Their Kids To

As part of our summer series, we’re taking you beloved readers to internet camp. Both of us were deprived of going to cool camps (like the space camp Nickelodeon sends you to when you win Double Dare), so we’re making up for it as adults. This week, we’re taking a look at the camps that are a little odd. The ones in which parents are so desperate to give their kids to strangers that they’ll pay any amount of dough to get rid of them for a week or two.

High Explosives Camp

Rolla, Missouri

Explosives Camp is held at Missouri University of Science and Technology, where high school students can get a “hands-on experience” with explosives. The students are of course educated on the proper ways to handle and detonate various explosives, but the big hurrah comes at the end of the camp when they basically get to blow alll the shit up. Campers setup and shot a fireworks display, which includes high explosives, blasting agents, rock blasting and demolition. In case you’re wondering, campers must be at least 16 years old, and a background check is done on all applicants to “ensure good moral character and ethical standing”. AKA no crazypants.

Ninja Camp

New York

According to the Ninja Camp USA website, they are an “Intensive Ninja Fantasy Camp allowing Adults & Kids to experience the life and training of the Great Shinobi (Ninja’s) of Japan.” IDEK what that means, but what I’m taking this as is adults giving kids knives to pretend they’re ninjas. Just so we’re clear.


 

Playlist Of The Month: Summer Jams

Boom Clap – Charlie XCX

Like most people, I became familiar with this song from The Fault in Our Stars soundtrack. There are a lot of great songs on the album, but this one has the perfect feel of young love and makes me want to let down my hair and slowly sway back and forth on a rooftop patio during a cookout.

Water Fountain – Tune Yards

So, here’s the deal with this year’s “songs of the summer.” Every song that seems like a contender also feels like it’s been out forever. It just doesn’t feel like a “summer jam” if I listened to it while driving through snow four months ago. So, most of my picks will be jams that for whatever reason haven’t made it to top 40 radio yet. First up: this song that is more of an earworm than half of the creatures featured on Animal Planet’s Monsters Inside Me.


 

Pros & Cons of Watching When Harry Meets Sally 25 Years Too Late

Last month, I went to an outdoor screening of When Harry Met Sally. And believe it or not - it was my first time EVER seeing the movie. I’ll give you a minute to let that sink in. I kind of have a pop culture blind spot to a lot of classic films (I’m more of a TV person, if you couldn’t tell), and this is one of them. It’s particularly odd when I tell people this, because some of my favorite movies are of the rom-com genre, like Love Actually and Notting Hill #NoShame So going into my first viewing of WHMS, I had an inkling I would like it – I just didn’t realize I would like it THAT much. I couldn’t stop talking about it and thinking about it. I even looked up how much it would be on Amazon that same night. There are so many reasons why I enjoyed it, but I finally realized after viewing it why it had become such an important film in movie history – the story is timeless. At its core, WHMS is a movie questioning whether or not men and women can stay friends and never turn into lovers. That wasn’t just a problem in the 1980s, but it’s obviously still a question that’s asked today. And despite the fact WHMS is timeless, it’s not entirely “timeless”, as in, it’s been 25 years (to this day) since it was released, and there are still things that change over time. So here’s a few pros and cons I noted while watching this iconic movie for the very first time.

PRO: A youthful Meg Ryan

I think the first movie I ever saw Meg Ryan in was Sleepless in Seattle, which was made only four years after WHMS. But I don’t remember her ever looking as young as she did in this movie. I mean look at the youth! Look at the glow! She’s practically a baby acting out adult themes! It’s amazing that we can forever look back at this movie and seen the exact moment when she became a bonafide movie star.

CON: Meg Ryan’s face now

meg-ryan-billy-crystal-when-harry-met-sally-rftr

Well. Here she is. This picture was taken in April. Now 53, Meg is…  still sporting a cute blonde ‘do.

Broad City: A Toast to Elaine Stritch

We lost a good one yesterday, folks. Elaine Stritch – actress, singer, and the ultimate performer – passed away at the young age of 89. Or at least that’s what she made it seem like, anyways.

Elaine was known for her brutal honesty. Her salty candor. Her tart tongue. Her brassiness (is that even a word?). Her refusal to wear pants. Her unwavering ability to tell it like it is and not apologize for it. She was the absolute definition of a broad (in the best way possible). Elaine was what a lot of women, and men too, I imagine, wished they had the courage to be. She was fearless and she was truthful, classy yet not, and admirable all at the same time. A true legend and icon that will never be matched in our lifetimes.

And then there’s her talent. Ooh did she have it. A lot of people from our generation or younger are most familiar with Elaine as the wise-cracking equally as opinionated and verbal Colleen Donaghy, mother to Alec Baldwin’s Jack. I think this clip properly summarizes her character on the show – behind the caustic exterior is a woman who is caring and loving, despite the fact she doesn’t show it. Like, ever.

But Colleen Donaghy was just a role towards the end of her impressive career. She made her Broadway debut in 1946, and went in to appear in Wonderful Town and a number Noel Coward plays. However it was Stephen Sondheim (Steve, she called him) that helped her become the iconic Broadway actress she is/was today. In 1970, she was cast as the vodka-stinger drinking Joanne in his show Company, a role she was born to play. Or rather, was born to play her.

The character of Joanne was not only written for Elaine Stritch, it was based on her, or at least on her acerbic delivery of self-assessment, as exemplified by a moment George Furth had shared with her: they had entered a bar at two in the morning and Elaine, well-oiled, had murmured to the bartender in passing, ‘Just give me a bottle of vodka and a floor plan.’”
— Stephen Sondheim in Finishing the Hat on the late, great Elaine Stritch (1925-2014)

Shortly after the show opened on Broadway, a documentary of the cast recording the soundtrack was released, and in a memorable scene, Elaine is shown recording her classic song Ladies Who Lunch to less than perfect recordings. She eventually got the hang of it, and  what resulted was an act of genius, both on Sondheim’s behalf and Elaine’s on point delivery.

Fast forward to 2002 when she opens her one woman show on Broadway, Elaine Stritch At Liberty (which you can view in its entirety here). She talks about everything throughout both her professional and personal life, like the time she had a horrible date with Marlon Brando or describing the pain she felt after her husband’s death with the only way she knew how - a song from Sondheim’s Follies. She won her first and only Tony Award for the show, and the same guy who made the Company documentary turned At Liberty to a documentary as well in 2002, earning her an Emmy for Best Performance in a Variety Special in 2004, providing one of the most entertaining acceptance speeches in Emmys history.

Elaine took on Broadway one more time in the revival of Steve’s A Little Night Music, and appeared in a number of cabaret shows, which she performed in a cabaret below her apartment. And by that I mean she lived at NYC’s Hotel Carlyle and performed in the cafe downstairs. Woman was still energetic even into her 80s (I mean, I’m obsessed with this interview from last year. Doesn’t miss a beat). In 2013, after being a New Yorker for years, Elaine decided to move back to her homestate of Michigan in a subrub outside of Detroit.

“She doesn’t miss New York? “You say that like it’s not true!” she says. “I feel good about being here. When the hospital sends for me, when the ambulance comes and I ease my way out of the world, I’d rather be in Detroit, Michigan, than Lenox Hill. Pfft.” She actually spits. – Interview with Vulture in 2013 {x}

With Elaine gone, there’s an Elaine-shaped hole in the world of Broadway, in the world, really. It’ll be hard to ever find someone like her on the stage again. But here’s a toast to what Elaine left behind. A legacy that will be cherished for years. The tears, the laughter, etc. etc. etc. She probably wouldn’t want too much hullaballoo and ass kissing during her time of mourning anyways. So, let’s just drink to that.

 “I pray that I may live expectantly. To live expectantly – what’s going to happen on Sunday, and on Sunday what’s going to happen on monday? In the meantime, stay where you fucking are and enjoy it the best way you know how.” - New York Times Interview, 2008 {x}

Throwback Thursday: Pappy Drewitt

Ah, Pappy Drewitt. If you were born in the 90s, maybe you can still hear the song: Pappy, Pappy Drewitt, he drew Pappyland. And you too can do it, if you’re in Pappyland!

But I wouldn’t know, because I was born in the 80s. Young enough to watch children’s TV in the 90s, but old enough to watch it mockingly, I remember singing something more like “Crappy, Crappy Drewitt, he blew Crappyland. And you too can do it, if urine Crappyland!”

If you wonder why millennials like things ironically, I direct you to the (relative) success of the T.L.C. show Pappyland. Except for children under the age of 5, none of us were watching it in earnest. We were watching it to exercise our budding comedic sensibilities, like a fawn first learning to walk. Pappy Drewitt is probably the cultural moment that confirmed that we are truly The Shittiest Generation.

Pappyland was a children’s art show about a kindly elderly man who lives in a fantasy world that he drew himself, possibly an allegory about how those with Alzheimer’s connect with the very young, possibly an attempt to teach children about the joys of self-expression. It was a tender gift from TLC to the children of the world – literally. The opening sequence actually says “Dedicated To Children Around The World.” And the shitty children around the world said “ha, it rhymes with Crappyland!” and tore it to shreds.

80s Babies, I’m back for round two.

Feel free to watch along and follow my commentary – but I’m inclined to think that this is burned so deeply in our collective memory that you don’t even need to watch it to remember.

Even though I hate-watched Pappy Drewitt, I still always secretly wished he would say my name when he greeted children through the screen. He never did, because those bitches were always named Jessica.

Pappy Drewitt is a soulless children’s show: like Barney without all of the children. Or Mr. Rogers without the gentile middle-class lifestyle (I think Pappy is Appalachian?). Or Sesame Street without virtually everything likeable about Sesame Street.

They’re obviously trying – there are puppets, which is sort of the minimum baseline effort you have to make in children’s t.v. – but there’s not a surly Oscar or a childlike Elmo in sight. Instead, the Pappy puppets are all indistinguishable idiots. There’s an idiot bear, a dumb-bitch girl flower, and this one stupid bird.

The bear, in particular, looks like a Furry. I think Dumb Bitch Girl Flower is the only female character on the show, and for once I say “thank you, that’s quite enough representation for one day!” Boys, you’re going to have to bear responsibility for this tv mess almost alone.

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Pappy wears a ring, so he is either married or widowed. He also wears a 99-cent bandana and a plain t-shirt that look like they came from a Michael’s Craft Store. There is a turtle named Turtle-Loo, who has a god-awful indistinguishably “ethnic” accent. He is either French, Italian, or Spanish. Pappy whitely intones “prrrrronto!”  At least  Dora The Explorer teaches the children of the world how to speak annoying non-English catch-phrases correctly.

Pappy teaches us about manners in this episode, I guess, but he’s sort of dogmatic about it and he’s basically a real dick.

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During the first run of Pappy Drewitt, I was at that magical age where no matter what he drew, in the beginning it always looked like a butt or some boobs. This episode is no exception. He draws a bunny, but he starts with the eyes, which look like nothing so much as lopsided cartoon tetas.

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Guys, he just KEEPS DRAWING. In real time. For over six minutes, we watch a piece of paper as a grown man doodles a bunny on it. Can’t they do that cooking show thing and time-lapse it? When Pappy finishes we learn the name of this piece: “Two Bunnies In A Doorway, And There’s Carrots In The Doorway.”pappy3

In college we made my friend, who was high, watch a video of these cat marionettes. He could not deal with it. We had to turn it off. I think if we had showed him Pappy Drewitt instead, his brain would have actually exploded.

Sing-A-Song-Sam (Michael Curley), a 1920s barbershop quartet-looking guy, sings a tuneless song about manners. I’d like to remind everyone that before T.L.C. was America’s Sideshow, this is the kind of thing we watched on it.

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Holy cow. He is seriously going to spell out the entire word “polite” as a mnemonic to teach the rules of politiness. Isn’t that way too complicated? Isn’t the only rule of politeness “don’t be a dick?” Maybe I shouldn’t have kids. There are not actually six rules, because some of these are clearly repeats:

P – Say Please And Thank you!

Okay. I’ll give them this.

O – Offer To Help Out Too!

Fine, yeah. But this still falls cleanly under “don’t be a dick.”

L – Listen To What Others Say

Sure.

I – Is there anything that I can do?

I’m sorry. Is this an illustration of “offer to help out too”?

T – take turns in the games you play
E – Excuse me if I’m in your way!

So basically, be more Canadian.

Hold onto your hats, kids, now Pappy’s going to color the picture! We watch a grown man color for an additional 5+ minutes. I take back my indictment of our generation: Pappyland deserved our scorn.

Pappy calls himself “Pappy,” in the third person, and it truly sounds like more of a personal weird bedroom thing.

As Pappy colors the wall yellow, he surmises “It could be made of straw! Or it could be painted this color!” Then he says like seven more things about the color, which I repeat, is just yellow.

Finally, Pappy shows us drawings sent in by viewers. There’s one with the same first and last name as a girl we went to high school with and, considering Pappy was filmed an hour away in Syracuse, I think it’s probably hers. All of the kids’ drawings look better than Pappy’s stupid Rabbits With Doorway Carrots or whatever.

Speaking of high school, the quality of Pappy Drewitt’s special effects is actually lower than the greenscreen we had for Morning Update, our daily in-house student news program.
We have to leave, because it is now “quarter to orange!” I hope you’ve enjoyed this journey to Pappyland. Michael Cariglio (Pappy) is (or was?) probably a kind-hearted, imaginative man who wanted to share his love of drawing with children around the world. Instead, he helped a generation of children hone their mockery skills and probably inspired more than a few of them to take up light drug use. This, truly, was his gift to the world’s children.

Camp Cookies + Sangria: Weird Summer Camps Parents Send Their Kids To

As part of our summer series, we’re taking you beloved readers to internet camp. Both of us were deprived of going to cool camps (like the space camp Nickelodeon sends you to when you win Double Dare), so we’re making up for it as adults. This week, we’re taking a look at the camps that are a little odd. The ones in which parents are so desperate to give their kids to strangers that they’ll pay any amount of dough to get rid of them for a week or two.

High Explosives Camp

Rolla, Missouri

Explosives Camp is held at Missouri University of Science and Technology, where high school students can get a “hands-on experience” with explosives. The students are of course educated on the proper ways to handle and detonate various explosives, but the big hurrah comes at the end of the camp when they basically get to blow alll the shit up. Campers setup and shot a fireworks display, which includes high explosives, blasting agents, rock blasting and demolition. In case you’re wondering, campers must be at least 16 years old, and a background check is done on all applicants to “ensure good moral character and ethical standing”. AKA no crazypants.

Ninja Camp

New York

According to the Ninja Camp USA website, they are an “Intensive Ninja Fantasy Camp allowing Adults & Kids to experience the life and training of the Great Shinobi (Ninja’s) of Japan.” IDEK what that means, but what I’m taking this as is adults giving kids knives to pretend they’re ninjas. Just so we’re clear.

Camp Rivendell (Fantasy Battle Camp)

Calgary, Canada

Words I am typing for informational purposes but in actuality have no idea what they mean: Camp Rivendell is named after the Elven outpost in middle-earth established and ruled by Elrond Half-elven from J.R.R. Tolkien’s legendarium. Also, it’s a Catholic camp for boys. The purpose, according to the website, is to provide  an “incredibly fun and imaginative setting for boys to learn about virtue and authentic manhood, while also growing in their Catholic faith.” Okay. There’s planned battles, tournaments, jousting, castles, forts, real armor and even an enemy called the “Orc Army”. Basically it’s just one week of LARPing to extremes while practicing the sacraments in their downtime.

Wizards & Warriors Camps

Westford, Massachusetts

Speaking of LARPing, kids can stay in America to participate in this Wizards & Warriors Camp. They’re thrown into “battles” and get to create their own armor, play with (foam) weapons, and make up their own characters. Watching the video above kind of made me sad for the kids who feel like loners at regular school but I’m also glad they found a place where they’re accepted at the camp. But also, this place looks like a shitshow. Everyone is running around willy nilly! How is there any order??

Role-Playing Games at Independent Lake Camp

The Poconos, Pennsylvania

So role-playing games are like really popular these days, huh? Independent Lake Camp is your usual, run of the mill camp, but there are different areas kids can focus on, like theater, sports, or art, but then they also have specialized programs like magic and role-playing. The campers are put into small groups led by a game master and they play Dungeons and Dragons, Star Wars, Magic: the Gathering, etc. For those super smart geniuses, there’s also a “rocketry” program where campers can make their own flying models. Not sure what that has to do with role playing, but it sounds cool.

Plantation Farm Camp

Cazadero, California

Plantation Camp is not as bad as it sounds. Located in the Sonoma County Redwoods, kids live and ‘work’ on a farm, and are completely unplugged. No iPhones, iPads, iPods, iNothing. The campers care for the animals and gardens on the farm and do a total ‘farm to table’ experience every day. Seems like a good idea in theory, but how many of these kids were forced to go to this place by their parents?

Zombie Camp

Burlington, Massachusetts

Zombie Camp is a place were children can go to learn survival skills and how to live in the outdoors. But also learn how to kill zombies with nerf blasters. Just imagine it’s like living in The Walking Dead but Jr. edition. Also, can we just take a minute to shout out the poor souls (read: broke college kids) who have to dress up as these zombies and run around in a field all day? Props.

Equestrian Teen Tour of Russia

Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia

This Equestrian camp isn’t even that weird – it’s just… so specific. Campers can mix their love of horses with their love of classic Russian culture, you know, like most kids between the ages of 7 and 17. Participants ride their horses in the morning and by afternoon, they’re hitting the city for cultural tours of local museums and historic sites.

Playlist Of The Month: Summer Jams

We’re well into the summer season when visits to the beach are mandatory, weddings are aplenty and we spend our days counting down until vacation. And of course none of these activities would be enjoyable without a good summer soundtrack. More than any other season, I feel like songs help mold the three or so months where the sun (theoretically) shines bright every day, and you’re naturally in a good mood. So here’s a list of our favorites for this year’s summer playlist that will hopefully make your summer days as bright as they do ours!

Check out the entire list on Spotify:

Traci’s Picks

Day Drinking – Little Big Town

In like 2007 or 2008 I saw Carrie Underwood in concert and Little Big Town, a then relatively unknown band (to me at least) opened up for her. My friend and I were like who da fuq are these people? And what’s with the name? Well clearly they’ve since become huge in country music and I am so obsessed with this song. Who doesn’t love day drinking on a hot summer’s day?

Boom Clap – Charlie XCX

Like most people, I became familiar with this song from The Fault in Our Stars soundtrack. There are a lot of great songs on the album, but this one has the perfect feel of young love and makes me want to let down my hair and slowly sway back and forth on a rooftop patio during a cookout.

Restart – Sam Smith

Last week I was in the car for approx 20 minutes and heard two Sam Smith songs on two different radio stations. Boy is blowing up! I fell in love with him when I first heard Latch using during auditions on So You Think You Can Dance last year and immediately needed to find out what the song was. It has since become one of my most played songs on iTunes and made my 2013 Summer Jams list too. Even with his EP released earlier this year, I was dying for Sam’s full length album. As soon as I heard Restart, I knew it was going to be one of my new fave tracks and I have since done the thing where as soon as it ends I just listen to it over and over again, or restart, rather.

Brand New Pharrell featuring Justin Timberlake

Pharrell basically makes megahits with everyone he works with, but when he gets together with Mr. JT, it’s like next level, Michael Jackson shit. I can’t help but move around and dance to this song and I may or may not have found myself in a YouTube spiral of watching people’s choreography to this song.

Rather Be - Clean Bandit featuring Jess Glynne

Like Sam Smith, Clean Bandit is another British import. This song has been at the top of the UK charts for months now, and after seeing them dominate across the pond, I had to check them out. Rather Be has a contemporary feel – like they should be playing at the Gobi stage at Coachella – but at the chorus it switches up to a 90s dance vibe – like the opened up for a tour with Real McCoy & La Bouche. I can’t get enough of it.

Honorable Mention: Paris – Magic Man

In full disclosure, my good friend’s brother is in this band. But I legitimately like this song a lot and think they’re going places. In fact they’re literally going places when they open up for Panic! At the Disco this summer, so check them out, if you’re into that!

Molly’s Picks

Water Fountain – Tune Yards

So, here’s the deal with this year’s “songs of the summer.” Every song that seems like a contender also feels like it’s been out forever. It just doesn’t feel like a “summer jam” if I listened to it while driving through snow four months ago. So, most of my picks will be jams that for whatever reason haven’t made it to top 40 radio yet. First up: this song that is more of an earworm than half of the creatures featured on Animal Planet’s Monsters Inside Me.

ChiRaq – Nicki Minaj feat Lil Herb

Okay, if this one isn’t on the radio as much as it should be, it’s only because there is no way to take out all of the swears and have it even somewhat make sense. I’m sure that won’t keep Kidz Bop from trying, though.

Drive-In Movies – Ray LaMontagne

I always love a good country song about the joys of summer, but I just haven’t found any I love this year. However, Ray LaMontagne’s tribute to the drive-in — one of my favorite summer staples — sort of fills the same niche topically, albeit without the twang of actual country music. What can I say, I love when LaMontagne gets a bit Springsteen-y.

Chandelier – Sia

Sia: not just for making you crying during TV montages anymore.

Jealous – Chromeo

Like Haim and Yelle, Chromeo makes me feel like I’m experiencing the best parts of the late 80s-early 90s and the present day, all at the same time.