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.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Don Draper: TV's most interesting man

Don Draper is so cool, you almost expect Sean Connery's James Bond to hop off a plane in New York unannounced hoping for a chance to party with the star of "Mad Men."

Draper is so messed up in the head, he makes Gene Wilder's Willy Wonka and his chocolate factory seem like commonplace.

Such is the beauty of AMC's smash-hit series, arguably the best TV has to offer these days. I'm late to the Mad Men world, but thanks to friends and the library, I am caught up with the show's first four seasons. What a wonderful ride.

When I write about the Mad Men world, I mean just that. Time-period projects are difficult to pull off, especially on TV, but Mad Men is so good, so authentic, it seems odd to look at John Hamm and not think of his character, the mysterious and troubled uber ad man Don Draper.

Of course, it all starts with Draper but there's a host of clever characters such as Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss), Joan Harris-Holloway (Christina Hendricks), Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser), Betty Francis-Draper (January Jones) and the great Roger Sterling (John Slattery). Take your pick. Each's story arc is given their due thanks to work of show creator Matt Weiner.

The costume design is fantastic and tie-ins to events during the 60s (Cuban missile crisis, JFK's assassination, the second Cassius Clay-Sonny Liston fight and the Vietnam War) aren't forced into scripts.

It is a bit shocking to revisit the 60s, which I missed since I was born in 1970. The amount of smoking (Draper would never stand for today's smoking laws), drinking and sexual harassment in the workplace was apparently normal back then.

The tiniest bit of research shows working in advertising was one of the glamour jobs of the 60s, and Mad Men hammers home that point with style, nostalgia and humor. Still, it wouldn't work without the Draper character, and his mysterious storyline.

Why does he act the Draper way? If you don't watch the show, I won't spoil it, and will only say the man has flaws. Many of them. Only Draper knows, and maybe that's the way Weiner and the show's writers like it.

Two news network shows, "The Playboy Club" and "Pan Am," jumped on the 60s genre bandwagon, but even NBC's and ABC's clout can't come close to duplicating the edge of "Mad Men." That's because neither has a character so cleverly developed as Hamm's Draper.

Or as cool.

Or as messed up in the head.

Will we ever know what Don Draper's really thinking?

- Mark Podolski

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Happy birthday, Google!

Who doesn't love a good Google Doodle?

Today's celebrates Google's 13th birthday, complete with party hats and cake.

If you want to check out previous Google doodles, visit From browsing through a few of the pages, I see I've missed some pretty neat ones, like the one for Lucille Ball's 100th birthday. How did I miss that one?

-- Cheryl Sadler | | @nhcheryl

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Monday, September 26, 2011

Stuck in My Head: Sesame Street spoofs Glee

This isn't a real "Stuck in My Head" post. But this video has been on my mind all day. I've even been singing "Don't Stop G-G-in'" as a result of this.

Sesame Street apparently spoofed popular Fox show Glee in a segment to teach viewers about the letter G. It's hilarious. Check it out:

Danielle Capriato |

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Sunday, September 25, 2011

Still the king of the box office

Even Brad Pitt can't stave off "The Lion King."

From The Associated Press:
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Where available, latest international numbers are also included. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.
1. “The Lion King,” $22.1 million ($1.9 million international).
2. “Moneyball,” $20.6 million. (Review by The AP's Christy Lemire)
3. “Dolphin Tale,” $20.3 million.
4. “Abduction,” $11.2 million.
5. “Killer Elite,” $9.5 million. (Review by Lemire)
6. “Contagion,” $8.6 million. (Review by The News-Herald's Mark Meszoros)
7. “Drive,” $5.8 million. (Review by Lemire)
8. “The Help,” $4.4 million ($1.1 million international). (Review by The AP's David Germain)
9. “Straw Dogs,” $2.1 million. (Review by Lemire)
10. “I Don’t Know How She Does It,” $2.05 million. (Review by Lemire)

-- Cheryl Sadler | | @nhcheryl

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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Facebook is ever-evolving

If you have a Facebook account that you log into regularly, then surely you've seen the changes that have rolled out. If you're like the vocal people in my news feed, you hate every single one of them.

These changes seem to be more drastic than those in recent memory, and so far I've had a bit of trouble adapting to them, too. But what I find amusing is comments like this one, which was posted on Facebook's f8 page by user Gariné Koujaian:
I suggest facebook should stop making changes and go back to it's original ways unless they want everyone to just stop using facebook and go to google +. Facebook is getting out of hand!!!!

Oh, Facebook's original ways.

I remember Facebook's original ways - or at least their ways from seven(!) years ago when I signed up for a Facebook account. My oh my, how things have changed since then.

In fall 2004, it wasn't Facebook. It was Thefacebook. And this is what the login screen looked like:

And here is what your profile looked like:

You could only have an account if you had a .edu email address.

You could only post one picture, and it was your profile picture. There were no albums of profile pictures, so if you changed your profile picture, the other one disappeared. It wasn't until Halloween weekend 2004 that you could post photo albums, which I remember well because I attend Ohio University at the time, and surely you've heard about the annual Halloween party in Athens.

The wall used to be a small box in the lower right corner of your profile that anyone could type in. You had to hover your mouse over the text on the wall to see who wrote what.

There was no "Like" button, no sharing, no chat. (But as long as I have been a member, there has been poking.)

I remember one major update to the profile layout that involved being able to drag and drop boxes wherever you wanted them. Each of the boxes were apps created by outside developers. I had one in my profile that included a random bunny picture. It was adorable.

Facebook has been evolving a lot into what it is today, and it will continue to evolve as long as it exists. In fact, more changes will be announced today, when the annual f8 conference for developers opens in San Francisco. You can tune in to the live stream - beginning at 12:30 p.m. Eastern time - below:

A possible change to Facebook that was leaked: "Listen with your friend". A post on Tech Crunch last night summarized that you can listen to what your friends are listening to at the same time. Neat concept, though I'm very curious about the execution.

Like every change with Facebook, it will take some time to get used to. But I plan to keep my account. Remember, if you don't want Facebook to change how they're showing your information, don't give them information to show. (That's why I keep ignoring their request for my phone number - if I want my Facebook friends to have my phone number, I can give it to them without Facebook facilitating that.) Facebook can't do anything with your data if you don't post it, and you're kind of giving them full access to your stuff when you upload it to the public website, no matter how strict your privacy settings are.

-- Cheryl Sadler | | @nhcheryl


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Fall TV thoughts (so far)

It's early, very early, as the fall TV season gets underway, but a few thoughts:

- The season 2 premiere of "Hawaii Five-O" (Mondays, 10 p.m., WOIO) was awesome. When we last saw the Five-O team, McGarrett (Alex O'Loughlin) was heading to prison for the murder of the governor of Hawaii, while the rest of the gang was dealing with their assortment of problems. I won't spoil the premiere, but trust me when I say you won't be disappointed, especially the ending. Other bonuses: the underrated villainous Wo Fat is great and we begin the story arch with McGarrett's former Army boss, played by Terry O'Quinn (Lost). Monday's premiere was explosive, action-packed and had a great cliffhanger. It makes for a promising season 2.

Onto the less promising new TV shows:

- I could take about 30 minutes of "Ringer" (Tuesdays, 9 p.m., CW) starring Sarah Michelle Gellar as twins before turning it off. The "Buffy The Vampire Slayer" star's return to  TV just didn't pull me in. "Ringer" is touted as a suspense. It wasn't horrible, but it wasn't my kind of show. My viewing time is precious, and "Ringer" doesn't seem worth it.

- I was looking forward to NBC's "The Playboy Club" (Mondays, 10 p.m.), but vowed to never watch another episode after the pilot. "Playboy" is an obvious rip-off of the 60s genre craze started by "Mad Men" and it's a huge letdown. The storylines are ridiculous, the acting over the top and there's even a cheesy voiceover for Playboy founder Hugh Hefner that just doesn't work. Worst of all, it fails to deliver that sense of the 1960s. I would be surprised if this show lasted the entire season.

- Other new fall shows I'm interested in (and hoping I won't be disappointed in): ABC's "PanAm" and "Charlie's Angels," Fox's "Terra Nova," CBS' "Person of Interest" and FX's "American Horror Story."

- Mark Podolski | | Twitter: @mpodo

Netflix and Qwikster

Subscribers of Netflix, past and present, received a lengthy email from Netflix CEO and co-founder Reed Hastings.

(If you don't want to read the entire email I've pasted below, the quick summary is that the company is keeping Netflix for streaming and introducing Qwikster for DVDs by mail - and adding video games. Basically, subscribers will have two accounts with two services and two separate charges on their credit cards, instead of just Netflix.)

Dear [subscriber's name],

I messed up. I owe you an explanation.

It is clear from the feedback over the past two months that many members felt we lacked respect and humility in the way we announced the separation of DVD and streaming and the price changes. That was certainly not our intent, and I offer my sincere apology. Let me explain what we are doing.

For the past five years, my greatest fear at Netflix has been that we wouldn't make the leap from success in DVDs to success in streaming. Most companies that are great at something – like AOL dialup or Borders bookstores – do not become great at new things people want (streaming for us). So we moved quickly into streaming, but I should have personally given you a full explanation of why we are splitting the services and thereby increasing prices. It wouldn’t have changed the price increase, but it would have been the right thing to do.

So here is what we are doing and why.

Many members love our DVD service, as I do, because nearly every movie ever made is published on DVD. DVD is a great option for those who want the huge and comprehensive selection of movies.

I also love our streaming service because it is integrated into my TV, and I can watch anytime I want. The benefits of our streaming service are really quite different from the benefits of DVD by mail. We need to focus on rapid improvement as streaming technology and the market evolves, without maintaining compatibility with our DVD by mail service.

So we realized that streaming and DVD by mail are really becoming two different businesses, with very different cost structures, that need to be marketed differently, and we need to let each grow and operate independently.

It’s hard to write this after over 10 years of mailing DVDs with pride, but we think it is necessary: In a few weeks, we will rename our DVD by mail service to “Qwikster”. We chose the name Qwikster because it refers to quick delivery. We will keep the name “Netflix” for streaming.

Qwikster will be the same website and DVD service that everyone is used to. It is just a new name, and DVD members will go to to access their DVD queues and choose movies. One improvement we will make at launch is to add a video games upgrade option, similar to our upgrade option for Blu-ray, for those who want to rent Wii, PS3 and Xbox 360 games. Members have been asking for video games for many years, but now that DVD by mail has its own team, we are finally getting it done. Other improvements will follow. A negative of the renaming and separation is that the and websites will not be integrated.

There are no pricing changes (we’re done with that!). If you subscribe to both services you will have two entries on your credit card statement, one for Qwikster and one for Netflix. The total will be the same as your current charges. We will let you know in a few weeks when the website is up and ready.

For me the Netflix red envelope has always been a source of joy. The new envelope is still that lovely red, but now it will have a Qwikster logo. I know that logo will grow on me over time, but still, it is hard. I imagine it will be similar for many of you.

I want to apologize again to those members, both current and former, who felt we treated them thoughtlessly.
Both the Qwikster and Netflix teams will work hard to regain your trust. We know it will not be overnight. Actions speak louder than words. But words help people to understand actions.

Respectfully yours,

-Reed Hastings, Co-Founder and CEO, Netflix

p.s. I have a slightly longer explanation along with a video posted on our blog, where you can also post comments.

I canceled my Netflix account the last week of August. I live with someone who also has a Netflix account, and when the company announced the price increase, we decided to just share an account. After all, we watch several movies together, anyway, and keeping separate queues for our own TV shows and movies just didn't seem worth the price we would both be paying.

I initially didn't think much of the Netflix/Qwikster change, but now that I'm mulling it over (and writing about it), I'm getting more and more annoyed. I'm indifferent to the fact that there will be two charges on the credit card instead of just one; if it's the same amount, it doesn't really matter. However, the lack of an integrated website shows a complete disregard for the user. The company is making it more difficult for its subscribers to find the movies and TV shows they want. Sure, with the streaming service, it's easy to scroll through genres or your instant queue to find something to watch. But if something isn't available for streaming, you're going to make me look it up on another website? That's backwards. Search for something in any other service - Google, Bing, CLEVNET - and you'll see that it gives you the information you're looking for in a variety of formats - websites, blogs, videos, books, ebooks, movies, etc. One company forcing a user to search two different sites to get the same information? Get ready to say goodbye to a whole lot more of your subscribers.

One thing I do like about the change: video games by mail! I don't play enough video games to warrant a GameFly account, but there have been several occasions where I've wanted to play something before deciding whether to buy it. I'm glad this service is finally integrated into something I'm already subscribed to.

So will I keep my account? If I was subscribing by myself, probably not. But since I'm sharing a subscription, it's probably still worth it for now, even with the clunkiness involved. One thing is for sure: Changes in technology mean us current-and-recently-former Netflix subscribers won't have to wait long for an improvement to this service or an even better option. Companies like Hulu and Redbox have a great opportunity to grab Netflix defectors. I'm sure they and other current companies or start-ups are considering ways to sweeten the deal. Will Netflix go the way of Blockbuster?

If you have a Netflix account, what will your plans be when Qwikster arrives? If you're not a subscriber, do the new options entice you?

-- Cheryl Sadler | | @nhcheryl

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Stuck in My Head: "Keep Your Head Up"

I don't know why this song keeps popping up in my head, but it's catchy and kind of fun.

"Keep Your Head Up" by Andy Grammer

Danielle Capriato |

Footnote: Tomorrow I will have many, many Foo Fighters songs stuck in my head after their concert tonight at the Q.

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Monday, September 19, 2011

Looks like you did well, Emmys


I think the Emmys got it mostly right.

Honestly, maybe the Emmys usually get it right. It's hard to remember.

I usually don't watch most of the ceremony, and last night was no exception. (Eagles-Falcons, with Michael Vick returning to Atlanta, and a new episode of AMC's stellar "Breaking Bad" won out rather easily.)

I know that the Oscars usually manage to frustrate me with an award or two every year. And the Grammys? They're a joke. The year's best music  at least much of it  is NOT showcased on that annual dog-and-pony show. 

But the Emmys and I are cool. And we're going to stay that way for another year, now that I've skimmed the list of winners.

The best dram going to AMC's "Mad Men"? Yes, sign me up. Sure, by far my favorite show on that list is HBO's fantasy epic "Game of Thrones" -- it's that where-have-you-been-all-my-life show -- but "Mad Men" arguably is the better show.
And best comedy going to ABC's "Modern Family" is fair. NBC's "Parks and Recreation" may have given it a run for its money last season, but none of the other comedies is as consistently funny as "Family."

Other wins making me happy include Jim Parsons winning for best actor in a comedy series for the second year in a row for CBS' "The Big Bang Theory" -- "Bang" would be half the show without him as Sheldon -- and Ty Burrell, Phil on "Modern Family," winning for best supporting actor in a comedy. In a show full of talented, funny people, Burrell really stands out. Last but not least, the very talented Peter Dinklage was very deserving of going home with the award for best supporting actor in a drama series for his work as Tyrion Lannister on "Game of Thrones." Glad the series got a win.

Associated Press
Peter Dinklage of HBO's "Game of Thrones" gives his acceptance speech.

Last night's Emmy's also reiterated the fact that I've made some poor choices by skipping certain series altogether. "The Good Wife," with star Julianna Margulies winning best series dramatic actress? Never seen it. Ditto for "Mike and Molly," for which Melissa McCarthy won best actress in a comedy. And, with star Kyle Chandler winning best actor in a drama series, I can't put off the great "Friday Night Lights" project much longer.

I did catch a few minutes of the Emmys here and there. The saddest moment was watching Mr. Tiger Blood, himself, Charlie Sheen, playing politics and wishing his old show, "Two and a Half Men," all the best. You know he doesn't mean a word of it.

The best was either all the nominees for best supporting actress in a comedy series going on stage before the winner was announced, following "Parks" star Amy Poehler's lead, or the acceptance speech by one of the head writers for "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" when the show won best writing for  a variety, music or comedy series. Hilarious.

Well, the Emmys closes the book on another TV season, and a new one is already underway. Happy viewing, everyone.

-- Mark Meszoros | |

How to win your awards show office pool

For the second year in a row, I was the office pool champion for the Emmys. Some of my co-workers claim I cheated. 

Don’t listen to them. Instead, listen to me, because I have the key to winning awards show office pools.

When the pool sheets are passed out, the first thing I do is search the Internet for awards that have already been announced. Getting all of those correct gives me a nice cushion while everyone else is guessing if “iCarly” was better than “Sesame Street” in children’s programming.

Then, I look for blogs that handicap the other categories in hopes getting an idea of who will win. This is important because I watch few television series. I’ve barely heard of the actors and shows, let alone know enough to analyze who will get the statues.

This year, I had 16 correct picks. The runner-up had six. My co-workers call it cheating. I call it research.
If there was a prize involved, I’d be laughing all the way to the bank.

-         -  Howard Primer


Sunday, September 18, 2011

It's the circle of life

Seventeen years later, the king of the jungle is back and at the top of the box office. Has anyone seen the latest 3D movie to hit the box office?

From The Associated Press:
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Where available, latest international numbers are also included. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.
1. “The Lion King 3D,” $29.3 million. ($700,000 international.)
2. “Contagion,” $14.5 million. ($1.3 million international.) (Review by The News-Herald's Mark Meszoros)
3. “Drive,” $11 million. (Review by The AP's Christy Lemire)
4. “The Help,” $6.4 million. ($1.1 million international.) (Review by The AP's David Germain)
5. “Straw Dogs,” $5 million. (Review by Lemire)
6. “I Don’t Know How She Does It,” $4.5 million. ($800,000 international.) (Review by Lemire)
7. “The Debt,” $2.9 million. ($1 million international.) (Review by Lemire)
8. “Warrior,” $2.8 million. ($400,000 international.) (Review by The AP's Jake Coyle)
9. “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” $2.6 million. (Review by Meszoros; "Movie simians rise to next level in new 'Apes' prequel" by Germain)
10. “Colombiana,” $2.3 million. (Review by Lemire)

-- Cheryl Sadler | | @nhcheryl

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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Stuck in My Head: "Last Friday Night"

On a recent trip to the gym, I noticed this gem of a music video playing on the screens in front of the cardio equipment. While I had my headphones blasting Foo Fighters while I jogged, the video intrigued me because I couldn't quite figure out what was happening at first. As one song on my iPod faded to another, I recognized the perky notes of a Katy Perry song.

Needless to say, the video was amusing and "Last Friday Night" has been stuck in my head ever since.


Danielle Capriato |

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Monday, September 12, 2011

'Contagion' knocks off 'The Help'

Since I'm a bit of a germaphobe, I'm guessing I shouldn't see this weekend's No. 1 movie.

From The Associated Press:
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Where available, latest international numbers are also included. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.
1. “Contagion,” $23.1 million. ($2.1 million international.) (Review by The News-Herald's Mark Meszoros)
2. “The Help,” $8.7 million. (Review by The AP's David Germain)
3. “Warrior,” $5.6 million. (Review by The AP's Jake Coyle)
4. “The Debt,” $4.9 million. ($1.5 million international.) (Review by The AP's Christy Lemire)
5. “Colombiana,” $4 million. (Review by Lemire)
6. “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” $3.8 million. ($12.5 million international.) (Review by Meszoros; "Movie simians rise to next level in new 'Apes' prequel" by Germain)
7. “Shark Night 3D,” $3.5 million. ($500,000 international.)
8. “Apollo 18,” $2.9 million. ($425,000 international.)
9. “Our Idiot Brother,” $2.7 million. (Review by Lemire)
10. “Spy Kids: All the Time in the World,” $2.5 million. ($425,000 international.)

-- Cheryl Sadler | | @nhcheryl

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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Stuck in My Head: "So Long and Thanks for All the Fish"

This, my friends, is the reason the word "earworm" was created.

I'm a big fan of Douglas Adams and "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." Naturally I saw the movie when it came out in 2005. The movie's intro featured a delightful little ditty sung, presumably, by dolphins. A friend mentioned it on Twitter, and I've been singing it in my head ever since.

Enjoy "So Long and Thanks for All the Fish":

Danielle Capriato |

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Get your hands on individual PlayhouseSquare tickets starting Friday

Sure, the weather's turning cold, and the daylight fades sooner. But the fall brings football, better movies and, last but not least, a new season at PlayhouseSquare in Cleveland.

Tickets for the entire 2011-12 PlayhouseSquare season, including Broadway, dance, concerts comedy and family shows, will go on sale beginning at 11 a.m. Friday, according to a news release. Tickets can be scored by hitting the ticket office at 1519 Euclid Ave., by calling 216-241-6000 or by visiting

Those buying on Friday can take advantage of these promotions:
11 a.m. to noon: no ticketing fees on orders
noon to 4 p.m. get one $25 PlayhouseSquare gift card per order
4 to 5 p.m.: get one free parking pass per order
5 to 6 p.m. no ticketing fees.

If you need a refresher on what the upcoming Broadway Series has in store, please check out my preview from March.

-- Mark Meszoros | |

Monday, September 5, 2011

Summer movie season ends with 'The Help' at No. 1

This is it for summer movies. It's interesting to see that "The Help" has stayed at No. 1 for three weekends in a row, now. Must be a pretty good movie.

From The Associated Press:
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Monday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Where available, latest international numbers are also included. Final domestic figures will be released Tuesday.
1. “The Help,” $19 million. (Review by The AP's David Germain)
2. “The Debt,” $12.6 million. (Review by The AP's Christy Lemire)
3. “Apollo 18,” $10.7 million.
4. “Shark Night 3D,” $10.3 million.
5. “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” $10.25 million. (Review by The News-Herald's Mark Meszoros; "Movie simians rise to next level in new 'Apes' prequel" by Germain)
6. “Colombiana,” $9.4 million. (Review by Lemire)
7. “Our Idiot Brother,” $7 million. (Review by Lemire)
8. “Spy Kids: All the Time in the World,” $6.6 million.
9. “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark,” $6.1 million. (Review by Germain)
10. “The Smurfs,” $5.6 million.

Want more movie coverage? Check out Entertainment Editor Mark Meszoros' fall film preview. You should click that link and check it out, because someone who is writing this blog post might have taken the time to find movie trailers to add throughout.

-- Cheryl Sadler | | @nhcheryl

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