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.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Road to WWE WrestleMania has a lot of construction barrels

At this time in 2011, WWE was calling in returning veterans to make up for a lack of star power for WrestleMania XXVII. The Rock was the host, Steve Austin was a guest referee and Triple H and Trish Stratus entered the ring after hiatuses.

They were added because WWE had a group of wrestlers with some experience in main-event matches, but not enough to headline the biggest pay-per-view show of the year: Sheamus, Dolph Ziggler, Jack Swagger, CM Punk, Alberto Del Rio and John Morrison.

A look at the build-up to WrestleMania XXVIII on April 1 shows that the development of those up-and-comers since last year has been more like a yo-yo than a shooting star.

Here's how the card for this year’s show is shaping up with five weeks to go:

The Rock vs. John Cena

Triple H vs. Undertaker

WWE title: CM Punk (c) vs. Chris Jericho

World title: Daniel Bryan (c) vs. Sheamus

The top two matches feature two once-a-year wrestlers (Triple H and the Undertaker), an actor who hasn't participated in a WrestleMania match since 2004 (The Rock) and the No. 1 draw in the company who is supposed to be a baby face but was receiving chants of "WE ALL HATE YOU!" on "Monday Night Raw" two weeks ago (Cena).

Besides CM Punk, who quickly ascended to the top of the card during the summer, the advancement of the others on the verge of main-event status hasn't happened. Del Rio has been off camera, Morrison isn't with the company anymore and Swagger is rarely heard from. Ziggler appears poised to join Cena, Punk and Randy Orton in the headliners group, but for whatever reason, it hasn't happened yet.

Sheamus is in a title match against Bryan. But winning the Royal Rumble doesn't have the same cache as it used to. When Rumble winners announce they're going to the main event at WrestleMania, it used to mean the last match of the show. Now it means a shot at the secondary world title in the fourth match from the top.

In the other title match, Jericho won a battle royal on Monday to earn No. 1 contender status against Punk. It's the first thing of note Jericho has done since returning in early January. He cut a couple promos in which he didn't talk, and he almost won the Royal Rumble. But Jericho's latest WWE stint has been lackluster.

Triple-Undertaker is thankfully a Hell in the Cell match. Not only is this a rematch, but it seems as if the Undertaker has had the same match four years in a row now, including facing Shawn Michaels in 2009 and 2010. This year's HITC stipulation will add some variety.

WWE has a little more than a month to sell us on the show. It can start with having the Rock appear in person on a company TV show and getting Cena away from that awful storyline involving Kane and Eve. Freshening up the cast of characters on the rest of the card wouldn't hurt, either.

- Howard Primer

Sunday, February 26, 2012

'Act of Valor' finishes first at weekend box office

Looks like somewhat of a weak weekend at the box office. A movie that the AP awarded one and a half stars placed first, while the latest from the incredibly successful Tyler Perry finished definitively in second place, which was followed by a poorly reviewed kids movie. But who cares, because the Oscars are on tonight, right?

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. “Act of Valor,” $24.7 million. (Review by The AP's Jake Coyle)
2. “Tyler Perry’s Good Deeds,” $16 million.
3. “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island,” $13.5 million. (Review by The AP's David Germain)
4. “Safe House,” $11.4 million. (Review by The News-Herald's Mark Meszoros)
5. “The Vow,” $10 million. (Review by The AP's Christy Lemire)
6. “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance,” $8.8 million.
7. “This Means War,” $8.5 million. (Review by Lemire)
8. “Wanderlust,” $6.6 million. (Review by Lemire)
9. “Gone,” $5 million.
10. “The Secret World of Arrietty,” $4.5 million. (Review by Germain)

-- Cheryl Sadler | | @nhcheryl

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Monday, February 20, 2012

Audiocast: Previewing the Oscars

It's February, which means it's Academy Awards season.

Community Engagement Editor Cheryl Sadler, Entertainment Editor Mark Meszoros and Sports Editor Mark Podolski talk about the nominees in the six major categories, and some films that the Academy missed with its nominations.

Think you know who will win? Enter our Academy Awards contest for a chance to win a Blu-ray player and movie tickets package.

Follow us on Twitter: @nhcheryl, @nhfeatures and @mpodo.

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Sunday, February 19, 2012

'Safe House,' 'The Vow' finish closely at top of weekend box office

You know your movie isn't great when it's beat by two (or three) movies that opened the previous weekend. I'm talking to you, Nicolas Cage and Reese Witherspoon.

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 Tuesday.
1. “Safe House,” $24 million ($6 million international). (Review by The News-Herald's Mark Meszoros)
2. “The Vow,” $23.6 million ($6.8 million international). (Review by The AP's Christy Lemire)
3. “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance,” $22 million.
4. “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island,” $20.1 million ($26 million international). (Review by The AP's David Germain)
5. “This Means War,” $17.6 million ($11 million international). (Review by Lemire)
6. “Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace” in 3-D, $7.9 million ($10 million international).
7. “Chronicle,” $7.5 million.
8. “The Woman in Black,” $6.6 million ($8.4 million international). (Review by Meszoros)
9. “The Secret World of Arrietty,” $6.4 million. (Review by Germain)
10. “The Grey,” $3 million. (Review by The AP's Jake Coyle)

-- Cheryl Sadler | | @nhcheryl

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

We could be heroes (or just put them on the wall)

I’m a big Boing Boing fan because the popular group blog keeps me up to date on all sorts of random things from technology and science to really cool things people have built. It feeds my inner nerd. 

I was recently delighted to come across a post about “de-touched” “polygon hero” posters. James Reid (follow him on Twitter @TheBlackeningCo) is the mastermind behind Polygon Heroes, a series of posters featuring some familiar comic book heroes, as well as a new addition getting in on the Linsanity surrounding New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin (@JLin7). 

My favorite poster is the one of Superman. 

These would make a great present for any of the comic book fans in your life. Prices range from $20 for an 8-by-10 to $60 for 28-by-35 gallery-sized version. Add a nice frame, and you've got a quality gift that will go great in a den, office or man cave.

-- Nicole Franz | | @FranzOrFoe

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

I have a new favorite book title

This greeted me in my mailbox at work today.

The folks at Andrews McMeel Publishing are good about sending me the newest compilations of reviews by veteran movie critic Roger Ebert.

Usually, these are just a bunch of reviews from a certain time frame. This book -- "A Horrible Experience of Unbearable Length: More Movies That Suck" -- has a pretty obvious slant to it. More specifically, these are reviews of movies Ebert gave ratings of two stars or less since 2006.

Bad movies? Doesn't appeal to you? Hey, you know what's better to read (and write) than a good review? A bad one. A scathing, man-I-detested-every-second-of-this-piece-of-garbage thrashing of a flick. And Ebert, with his many, many years in the biz, knows how to do that.

The book, with a list price of $16.99, is set to be released March 2.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to read Ebert's take on "The Human Centipede." Ooooh, this should be bad.

-- Mark Meszoros | | @nhfeatures

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Monday, February 13, 2012

People who know how to use the Internet don't know who Paul McCartney is

(Editor's note: A lot of the links below link to Internet comments, which tend to contain foul language and poor grammar. Click at your own risk.)

I was going to blog about all of the people who took to social media to ask who is Bonnie Bear, after Bon Iver won Best New Artist at last night's Grammy Awards, spurring the same outrage as Arcade Fire (Who is Arcade Fire??!!?) after the group won Album of the Year at last year's Grammy Awards. But then I came across something much, much worse than fans of pop music complaining because they don't know the talented indie act that beat their favorite rapper for the gold gramophone.

Who is Paul McCartney?!

Associated Press
Yes, people who were watching the Grammy Awards last night -- and therefore are presumably fans of music -- complained about the old guy rocking on stage. They wondered if he was Jesse McCartney's father. They said the song he played sucks.

So many people were asking about him on Twitter that Who is Paul McCartney is a trending topic.

This is your future, America. Please teach your children about The Beatles.

That's probably not the worst thing that's been said on social media. The tweet below pretty well sums up my feelings:

-- Cheryl Sadler | | @nhcheryl

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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Pre-Valentine's Day weekend's No. 1 movie is 'The Vow'

It shouldn't be too surprising that a love story easily finished in first place at the weekend box office. I just feel sorry for all the guys who were dragged along to it.

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 Vow,” $41.7 million ($9.7 million international). (Review by The AP's Christy Lemire)
2. “Safe House,” $39.3 million ($10.2 million international). (Review by The News-Herald's Mark Meszoros)
3. “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island,” $27.6 million ($25.5 million international). (Review by The AP's David Germain)
6. “The Woman in Black,” $10.3 million. (Review by Meszoros)
7. “The Grey,” $5.1 million. (Review by The AP's Jake Coyle)
8. “Big Miracle,” $3.9 million ($400,000 international). (Review by Lemire)
9. “The Descendants,” $3.5 million. (Review by Lemire)
10. “Underworld Awakening,” $2.5 million.

-- Cheryl Sadler | | @nhcheryl

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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

'Amazing Spider-man' trailer amazing

Some are saying the reboot of the Spider-Man movie franchise is too soon.

The last Spidey film was Spider-Man 3, starring Toby Maguire. That 2007 superhero flick was awful, and taking the franchise in a different direction was needed. Enter Andrew Garfield, best known for his starring role in "The Social Network," who will don the web-slinger's mask and tights. The movie's release date is July 3.

No one knows where "The Amazing Spider-Man" will rank with the previous franchise, spearheaded by director Sam Raimi and Maguire. If the film's second trailer is any indication, this film will be a box-office smash. However, competition for spring and summer movie dollars will be fierce with the upcoming releases of "The Avengers," in May and "The Dark Knight Rises," set for a July 20th release.

Check out the latest trailer for "The Amazing Spider-Man," released this week, below:

- Mark Podolski | @mpodo

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Rocking like it's 1986 ... sorta

I can't believe that today I listened to a new Van Halen album.

Even harder to believe is that the album -- "A Different Kind of Truth" -- features the unmistakeable David Lee Roth on lead vocals.

Sure, VH hadn't put out a new studio album since 1998's "Van Halen III," the band's lone outing with then former Extreme frontman Gary Cherone. So a new album with anyone -- Cherone, former frontman Sammy Hagar or once-asked-to-sing-for-the-group Scandal siren Patty Smyth -- would have been a serious event for rock fans.

But Diamond Dave back? That is BIG.

Of course, if you're a fan and you've been following the VH news, you've already heard lead single "Tattoo" and seen this video:

"A Different Kind of Truth" dropped today. While I write this, I'm on my second spin through the disc. (No, I didn't run out and buy it. Instead, I've chosen to spend some time with it via streaming service MOG before plunking down the coin for it.)

While not one of my favorite groups anymore, Van Halen was my first. I fell in love with the band sometime around the beginning of the '90s. When 1991's "For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge," came out, I lived and breathed it. My first concert was seeing Van Halen (and opener Alice in Chains, whom I then despised but would come to dig) at the beginning of the "Carnal" tour (notice how I'm not using the acronym?). Seeing your favorite band playing the songs you love right in front of you for the first time is really something. What a memory.

Truth be told, I've always been more of a Sammy guy than a Dave guy, which is about as cool as saying you prefer Windows to Mac or going to bed early to sleeping in late. (Guilty on all accounts.). But, hey, Roth-led Halen had some righteous tunes -- "Jump," "Panama," "Little Guitars," "Girl Gone Bad" and "Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love," to name just a few of my faves. And I spent the dough to see the Roth reunion tour a few years ago ag Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.

The last VH album with Roth was "1984," released early that year. So the album that should have gotten in 1986 (we got the Hagar-powered "5150" instead) we get now. Only Roth is covering up his male pattern baldness and longtime bassist Michael Anthony has been replaced by guitarist Eddie Van Halen's son, Wolfgang. (Eddie's talented brother, Alex, is still around beating the hell out of his drum kit, as always.)

My initial reactions to the album are what I expected them to be. These aren't terrifically written tunes; they don't feel like they came together easily and organically. And Roth still leaves a lot to be desired as a pure singer. (His value is, of course, as an attention-grabbing frontman.) But it's great to here Eddie on the guitar and Alex on the drums. Through it all -- the good, bad, ugly and mediocre -- the two of them and that sound have been there.

So the 2012 version of Van Halen may indeed be a different kind of truth and, ultimately, a less compelling one. But it's still the truth.

-- Mark Meszoros | | @nhfeatures

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Monday, February 6, 2012

Will Ferrell's Old Milwaukee Super Bowl commercial

You might think you saw all the commercials during last night's Super Bowl, but you likely missed one: Will Ferrell's Old Milwaukee Super Bowl ad that only aired in North Platte, Neb. Check it out below:

-- Cheryl Sadler | | @nhcheryl

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Sunday, February 5, 2012

Super Bowl ads are fun.

Super Bowl is more than halfway over, and I've already got a favorite ad. I'm a big fan of fun. The band and the concept in general. Their song, "We Are Young," is a particular favorite of mine.

It's an anthem and the Super Bowl commercial featuring it is appropriately enough being called "Chevrolet: Anthem" on Hulu's AdZone. It's a commercial for the Chevrolet Sonic, a car that jumps out of planes, does kickflips, holds OK Go (another band I love), and goes bungee jumping.

Though there's some other great ones.

M&M's anyone?

Or you can't go wrong with a cute dog and "Star Wars."

-- Nicole Franz | | @franzorfoe

'Chronicle' debuts at No. 1

"Chronicle" didn't get as much love in the review (linked below) as I would have thought, but it still did well at the box office, edging out Daniel Radcliffe's new film by a mere $1 million. Did anyone see "Chronicle"? Is it worth the theater price, or should I wait for Netflix/Redbox?

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. “Chronicle,” $22 million ($13 million international). (Review by The AP's Christy Lemire)
2. “The Woman in Black,” $21 million. (Review by The News-Herald's Mark Meszoros)
3. “The Grey,” $9.5 million ($1.4 million international). (Review by The AP's Jake Coyle)
4. “Big Miracle,” $8.5 million ($300,000 international). (Review by Lemire)
5. “Underworld Awakening,” $5.6 million ($11.9 million international).
6. “One for the Money,” $5.3 million.
7. “Red Tails,” $5 million. (Review by Coyle)
8. “The Descendants,” $4.6 million ($11.2 million international). (Review by Lemire)
9. “Man on a Ledge,” $4.5 million ($6.2 million international). (Review by Lemire)
10. “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close,” $3.9 million. (Review by Meszoros)

-- Cheryl Sadler | | @nhcheryl

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Friday, February 3, 2012

HBO on the GO? Yes, thank you

When I first heard about HBO GO -- the premium cable network's mobile service -- I was very interested to try it out. Although it debuted in February 2010, I wasn't aware of it until an iPad app offering the service was released last year.

I eagerly downloaded it, only to find that I could not use it. Why? Because I am a Time Warner Cable customer.

Sure, it must seem shocking that a cable provider that couldn't come to a financial agreement with the NFL to carry the NFL Network (not that that still makes me so angry that I want to hurl a football through a window or anything) also couldn't come to an arrangement with HBO to allow its paying customers to use the service, but that was in fact the deal. So when I launched the app, I learned that, as a TWC customer, I was out of luck.

Actually, it didn't bother me much at first. Really, I figured, how much was I going to watch HBO content away from home? And at home, HBO's on-demand offerings on TWC are fairly robust, so it wasn't like I was starving for more HBO content. Lastly, I guessed, HBO GO would offer the same content found on demand through my cable box, little more.

Wrong. Wrong. And drop-dead, Tony Soprano-in-a-sundress wrong.

Not long ago, TWC and HBO finally got together, and I have been happily GO-ing ever since.

HBO GO is simply packed with content. Yes, there's a selection of movies showing on the network. More importantly, though, there's a ton of HBO's original content -- documentary films, comedy and sports specials, drama and comedy series and more.

It's the availability of the series that thrills me, because, as far as I can tell, you can watch every episode of all the series made available through the service. (Using HBO On Demand through your cable box, you might get the most recent season of a show or, say, six old episodes of "The Sopranos," but not everything.)

Every episode of "The Sopranos"? Check. Of "Six Feet Under"? check.

"Entourage"? "Deadwood"? "The Wire"? Check. Check. Check.

Me? I'm waaaaay, deeeeeep back into "The Wire," arguably -- and I will argue it -- one of the greatest shows of all time. The engrossing drama examining various facets of urban life, all against the backdrop of the drug trade in Baltimore, is proving just as and maybe even more engrossing the second time through.

 These are screenshots from the HBO GO app on the iPad.

And while I use HBO GO on my iPad, primarily at a desk next to a computer, you can also use the service within a web browser or on an iPhone or Android device. It is also on its way to your big screen via Xbox Live and Roku devices, if it isn't already there.

HBO has always been that service you think about canceling when you look at your obscene cable bill. But then you think of all the content the network provides, and you decide you can find those 15 bucks or so by turning your heat further down. And now, with HBO GO, it will be nearly impossible to go away from HBO.

Thank heavens it's been a warmer winter here in Northeast Ohio.

-- Mark Meszoros | | @nhfeatures


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Thursday, February 2, 2012

How social media ranks fall TV's hit shows

I don't quite understand how Nielson is the standard for TV ratings, especially now that there are SO many channels and SO many options and devices that allow us to catch up on shows whenever we want to watch them. So I like this infographic I found on about How social media ranks fall TV's hit shows. The three different measurements displayed give a more clear picture about what people are watching, why they are watching, and how they are reacting to it.

(I haven't seen a single episode listed in this graph. Then again, nothing in that graphic is about "Jeopardy!" or something on Bravo.)

-- Cheryl Sadler | | @nhcheryl

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