Blogs > Tuned in to Pop Culture

They’re not standing around the watercooler, but Cheryl Sadler, Mark Meszoros, Mark Podolski and Nicole Franz are talking about what they’ve been watching, listening to and playing during their free time.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Stone Temple Pilots: Self-titled

By Nick Carrabine

It’s been nine years since Stone Temple Pilots have released an album, seven years since they broke up and two years since they reformed.

When I was growing up, STP was my favorite band around. Purple and Tiny Music... Songs from the Vatican Gift Shop were two of my favorite albums as a kid and the tracks — "Creep" and "Atlanta" — are two of my favorite songs of all time.

The band started to crumble with subpar releases, No. 4 and the truly awful, Shangri-La Dee Da until finally hating one another enough to break-up in 2003.

From there Scott Weiland formed Velvet Revolver with former Guns N’ Roses members, had some quick success, until that finally came to a screeching halt in 2008, leading Weiland to then regroup with STP.

Weiland hasn’t always been the ideal front man. Obviously, he is a talented singer/song-writer as STP has released some of the biggest hits in the past 20 years, but he was never one to lay off the drugs. And a lot of drugs he did.

When the band announced they were reuniting in early 2008, I was pretty ecstatic. As time passed and no new music was being released throughout the past 18 months, I kind of lost some of that excitement and upon hearing the new album I had mixed emotions.

I originally started writing this review days ago, but put it on the back burner and am glad that I did.

At first listen, I thought the first half of the album was significantly better than the second half. Now, that I’ve listened to it straight through about two dozen times the second half is nearly catching up with the first.

Without a doubt, this is a good album. However, I’m not sure I can say it is great. I can say with full confidence it is better than No. 4 and Shangri-La Dee Da.

There is less experimentation on this album as it is a more straight-forward pop-rock album and doesn’t stray far from the formula that made STP one of the biggest bands in the world in the mid-90s.

Having all that said, when you’re releasing your first album in almost a decade, there are going to be expectations no matter what your last record sounded like. And at this point, it’s probably next to impossible to please everyone’s high expectations.

However the above statement may not be fair either, because if they had released this album two years after Shangri-La Dee Da, it would have came out with low expectations and blown everyone away.

Whatever expectations anyone had for the album, the band has redeemed themselves from their past two efforts, made themselves relevant again and added an impressive record to their already storied career.

"Between the lines" music video

"Huckleberry Crumble"

"Dare if you dare"


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

If you're still 'Lost' about the finale ...

A pretty thorough explanation of "The End," written by someone from Bad Robot, was posted on the Lostpedia forum. As much as I would like to be able to take credit for summarizing the show in a succinct way, our audiocast and Mark Podolski's blog are more fodder for discussion than defining the purpose of the show.

Anyone still scratching their heads from Sunday night's finale, or who wants to know what happened without watching all six seasons, or who just can't get enough of the show, should check out all five of the links above.

-- Cheryl Sadler


Monday, May 24, 2010

"24" blog: Clock strikes zero on extremely entertaining era

Jack Bauer is on the loose again.

Fitting, because "24" closed the 8-season run of the ground-breaking, real-time series with a lot of loose ends.

But, after a little reflection, I am OK with that. Especially if it is setting up the proposed movie.

Look, "24" didn't end with some happy ribbon that wrapped everything up neatly. After eight heart-thumping seasons, that kind of neat little package couldn't be expected. Bauer is free, but hunted. The Russians and the American government would love to have a little chat with the iconic Kiefer Sutherland character. President Allison Taylor is more than likely headed for prison. President Charles Logan has a bullet lodged somewhere in his head. Jason Pillar has half an ear left after Bauer went Mike Tyson on the agent running point for Logan.

All in a good "day's" worth of work for this show.

You could dissect the series finale and pick out all the shortcomings and unanswered issues. But why?

At the end of the DAY, at the end of each season's 24 hours, isn't it about being entertained?

I don't know about you, but I was thoroughly entertained, even if it wasn't totally fulfilling or satisfying.

Sutherland owns the character and the screen, even when some of the actions seem to stretch possibility and reality. The toughest man in history got shot in the shoulder and yet rallied to stay alive long enough for President Taylor's attack of conscience to save his butt and release him into the world yet again.

I have some issues with how it all ended. I am sure hard-core fans will, too.

But how much can you complain? The show continued to entertain and keep you riveted until the final second ticked away and we faded to black.

Now, the reality of the situation is this: No more terrorists or CTU or moralistically-challenged presidents on Monday nights. We have to wait for the movie to see Bauer again. Probably, resurfacing in Europe, hiding from the Americans and the Russians.

Suspend disbelief. Forget nitpicking the obvious holes.

"24" is over, Bauer is dead in terms of TV drama, but on the loose in the fictional world we all love.

If only there were more time to appreciate good television entertainment.

The experience in the movie theater for 2 1/2 hours won't be nearly the same, but to see Bauer do his thing yet again, I'll be there and so should you, "24" fans.

Have your issues with the final two hours and how some things too neatly came together. But never lose sight of what Jack Bauer or this series stood for.

What we will do on Monday nights from now on?

- Bill Tilton

Clock running out on "24"

The clock is almost at 0 for "24" fans.

Tick tock, tick tock.

In its most basic sense, "24" is an action/drama starring Kiefer Sutherland as special agent Jack Bauer, presented in the semblance of real time, with each 24-episode season covering 24 hours in the life of Bauer. First broadcast on November 6, 2001, the show has run for 192 episodes and eight seasons, with the series finale due Monday night.

For the better part of this century, we have watched Bauer deal with terrorists, good and bad presidents, a murdered wife, a daughter who has been in and out of trouble more times than we can count, and killed many men and women.

It all ends Monday night at 10 p.m. But how does it end?

Jack will finally get some peace - dead or alive - and so will we as fans. We will miss "24" and all of its absurdities, but it seems like this is the best time for time to run out. Will Jack get his vengeance for the death of Renee Walker? Will Chloe O'Brian talk her friend down or simply take him down? What is the future for President Allison Taylor and former President Charles Logan? Neither of which, by the way, hold a candle to President David Palmer in the early bad days.

Ooh, the suspense.

Look up "24" on the Web, and you get some relatively simple explanations such as:

A typical plot has Jack Bauer racing against the clock as he attempts to prevent multiple terrorist plots, including Presidential assassination attempts, nuclear, biological and chemical threats, cyber attacks, as well as conspiracies dealing with government and corporate corruption.

The truth is, we are addicted to the trials and tribulations of a fictional character and his VERY BAD days because we care. We care if he lives or dies, is imprisoned or pardoned, or anything in between. We know it's not real and we know it might not be a logical or plausible conclusion, but at least it is a bit of closure for the former CTU agent with an array of MacGyver-like tricks up his sleeve.

On Monday, the body count is sure to rise, and yet, we still care.

On Monday, the last crisis will be resolved. We all care.

Who lives, who dies, who is right and who is wrong?

Jack Bauer will forever be remembered as a slice of American TV history. NO show ever made you contracted emotionally to see every episode. Miss one and miss an hour in the day of the life of Jack. Not easy to make that up, is it?

The end is near, but welcomed in a way. How many more bad days and horrible dilemmas can one man get into and out of?

We will miss his barking, his scowls, his wit, his way of having the answer and the way out of any and all situations. Jack Bauer is a hero, even if he is a fictional character constantly stretching the bounds of possibility.

Can he stay alive long enough Monday to hunt down the Russian president for his role in this final day's drama? Is there a happy ending waiting for Bauer or is it just simply the end? Any way all "24" fans can be satisfied with a two-hour wrap-up and bow put on top? Probably not.

Ah, who cares?

We do. And that's what has made the show so popular and so addicting for eight seasons.

Happy trails, Jack. And a bad day will never be the same.

- Bill Tilton

Sunday, May 23, 2010

My last-minute "Lost" thoughts

I never actually compiled my thoughts about the series end, and I'm still baffled as to what I think will happen and what I want to see happen. Executive producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse said it best in an interview running in Sunday's News-Herald:

“But for the ‘Lost’ finale, people don’t really know going into it WHAT would satisfy them,” Lindelof declared. “If you say to somebody, ‘What thing would need to happen in the story for you to feel satisfied?’, they’d say something like, ‘Well, I want all my questions to be answered.’ But they can’t tell you what they want to happen to the characters.”
“They don’t even know what the questions are they would want to have answered,” Cuse added.

If you didn't catch Mark Podolski's three LOST Big Board predictions that he uploaded earlier this week, you should watch this:

As for my own predictions ... I'm not sure. It's hard to say what exactly will happen to each character. Jack is obviously seeking redemption for all the lives lost on his watch. We just saw Sawyer realize he might be the reason for the several deaths a few episodes ago, so chances are, he is going to fight Jack for who gets to be the hero to save the world because they couldn't save their friends. Kate is going to have to choose between them -- bring back the love triangle, if you hadn't felt the tension with that already. I think our castaways will defeat the Smoke Monster, and they'll have to sink the Island to do it. I'm sure the L.A. timeline will intersect with the Island timeline, but I have no idea how it's going to happen. You'd better believe that Desmond is going to play a key role in it, though.

I caught some of Saturday night's airing of the enhanced pilot episode, and realized that when the show is all over (and I dig up some free time), I'm going to need to sit down and rewatch the entire series -- maybe several times.

Podolski, Mark Meszoros and I will be back Monday with our weekly audiocast to talk about the show's ending. We usually talk for a half hour, but I'm sure we'll need much more time to dissect the 2 1/2-hour ending.

--Cheryl Sadler


Saturday, May 22, 2010

LOST re-enacted by cats

Miss the last few seasons of "Lost" and want to watch the finale this weekend? I would recommend against that (you've missed WAY TOO MUCH), but here's a helpful video if that is your game plan. Also, it features cats.

--Cheryl Sadler

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

LOST blog: It's Desmond's time ... I think

Mark Podolski

Could it be Desmond has been the key to the island all along?

For the longest time, I wasn't on board with that thinking. Lately, I've been all on board.

Since Season 2, when we learned Desmond was typing 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42 into a computer every 108 minutes to keep the electromagnetic powers of the island at bay, we never knew the BIG picture.

Now we do. At least, if you believe the Man in Black/Locke and his comments to Ben at the end of the fascinating second-to-last episode titled, "What They Died For."

To read the rest of this blog, and comment, click here:

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

"Lost" auction

The New York Post reports that more than 1,000 items from "Lost" will be auctioned sometime this summer. One item they mention that will be included is Charlie's Drive Shaft ring (although they refer to him as Charlie Price ... the article CLEARLY was not written by a "Lost" fanatic).

I hope the auction will be online so I can check out the merchandise. Pretty neat to think that I could be able to own a piece of something from what has turned out to be one of my favorite shows of all time.

Anyone who thinks this is neat should check out our weekly audiocast before tonight's episode.

-- Cheryl Sadler


Nas & Damian Marley: Distant Relatives

By Nick Carrabine

"No matter where you're from -- you can be Native American, Italian, Jewish, Latino, African-American -- whatever you are, we're all distant relatives. That's what me and Damian are saying. First and foremost, the Jamaicans, Haitians, Bahamians, African-Americans, we're distant relatives to our long-lost brothers and sisters in the motherland, and we're connecting with them first. And then, second, is the whole human family -- everybody in the world is family." -Nas

No one likes a collaboration album.

They rarely ever work, they usually seem forced and worse, most are just made for the money.

If you don’t agree, see Jay-Z & R. Kelly.

Nas has long been rumored to make a collaborative album. Die-hard fans have dreamt of the day he’d release an LP with AZ and since signing with Def Jam in 2006, people figured him and Jay-Z would release an album together.

So when Nas announced in early 2009 that he was making an album with Bob Marley’s son, reggae artist Damian, aka Jr. Gong, I almost fell out of my chair.

That really came out of left field.

Not that the two haven’t collaborated together before. The two hooked up in 2005 for the Grammy-award winning Road to Zion track, which was released on Marley’s Welcome to Jamrock.

The song was great, but I didn’t think the two would have it in them to make a whole album together.

Flash forward five years to the release of Distant Relatives, which was released on Tuesday (May 18).

The two have released close to a flawless album that touches on subjects from Africa, poverty and various social issues that surround us all today.

Nas has always been a socially and politically conscious rapper. I haven’t listened enough to Damian Marley’s past work to really know that much about him, but his work on Distant Relatives will certainly earn him plenty of new fans as it is clear he has a similar mind to Nas.

In fact, the album, which samples a lot of African music, sounds more like a reggae album with guest appearances from Nas, meaning, Nas pretty much let Marley do his thing and Nas chipped in where it seemed suitable.

Dare I go as far as saying that Marley actually carries this album while Nas follows?

Nas, who has always been a creative writer, rarely steps out of his comfort zone when it comes to beats, style or genre but here it is refreshing to hear him 16 years into the music industry make a complete jump into the reggae genre without it seeming too forced.

Proceeds of the album are going towards schools in Africa and while the album was made for a good cause, it rarely comes across as too preachy.

Obviously, if you aren’t a reggae fan, or a rap fan — in particular — a fan of Nas. Then this album isn’t for you.

But if you are a fan of either one of these artists, then you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how good it actually is.

Land of the Promise

My Generation Ft. Joss Stone and Lil Wayne

Nah Mean

Monday, May 17, 2010

Why I still love Hanson

When I was 12, I was obsessed in love with the band Hanson -- catch melodies, long blond hair and all. I listened to their 1997 album "Middle of Nowhere" on repeat endlessly.

I'd like to pretend that I still don't think they're great, but that would be a lie. Their Christmas album is still part of my holiday music rotation. I went to their concert at Cleveland's House of Blues in September 2007, and I'm totally considering their return there this summer (details and other concerts on John Benson's summer concert preview).

So maybe it should come as no surprise that I was immediately smitten with the group's new single and video when I first saw it a few weeks ago. I watched it a few times in a row, then played it on repeat while I was writing a paper for grad school.

Things to love about this video:
  1. Catchy music
  2. Choreographed group dance
  3. Cute children dancing
There's also some sort of reference to Blues Brothers that I don't get because I've never seen the movie, but I'm told it has something to do with shaking one's tail feather.

I don't love this music video just because I want to marry the Hanson brothers. Several other non-Hanson fans have enjoyed it, so I think you should watch it too:

Thinking 'Bout Somethin'

HANSON | MySpace Music Videos

-- Cheryl Sadler

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Friday, May 7, 2010

Patrick Dempsey in Transformers 3

McDreamy meets the Transformers. It's coming soon to a movie theatre near you.

Patrick Dempsey, star of ABC's hit show Gray's Anatomy, has been confirmed for Michael Bay's third installment of the Transformers' series, Entertainment Weekly reported on its Web site.

Dempsey will play Megan's Fox's boss in a significant role to the plot, reported. The film's plot isn't known, and shooting begins this month in the U.S., Africa, Moscow and China. It will be released next summer.

APES SEQUEL CONFIRMED: Twentieth Century Fox announced it will make "Rise of the Apes" an origin story to "Planet of the Apes."

The release date is June 24, 2011. The studio plans to take advantage of the ground-breaking technology used in "Avatar" to create its apes.

The story is set in San Francisco, where experiments on apes leads to a battle of supremacy.

LOST FINALE GETS LONGER: May 23rd is set up to be a Lost night on ABC.

There won't be time for much else, literally. Several Web sites are reporting the May 23rd series finale, originally scheduled for two hours, will now be two-and-half-hours.

Here's the lineup: A Lost retrospective from 7 to 9 p.m.; the series finale from 9 to 11:30 p.m.; then a Lost special Jimmy Kimmel Live! to follow.

Some where in there, WEWS might make room for your local news.

- Mark Podolski

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

LOST: Spoiler alert!

By Mark Podolski

If you haven't watched Tuesday's Lost episode, stop reading now. Serious spoilers ahead.

OK, back to this week's blog.

To read the rest of the blog, and comment, click here:

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Batman 3 set for July 2012

By Mark Podolski

The yet-to-be-named sequel to Warner Bros.' blockbuster The Dark Knight has a release date: July 20, 2012.

The Hollywood Reporter was the first to post the release date. Director Christopher Nolan and writer David Goyer have yet to finalize the story and script about the third installment of Batman or whether or not the character of the Joker will return.

Obviously, Heath Ledger, who died shortly after filming of The Dark Knight, won't return as the clown prince of crime. Ledger won an Oscar for his role as the Joker.

According to reports, Christian Bale said he would return to reprise his role as Bruce Wayne/Batman if Nolan was directing.