Happy Birthday (to Me)!

On the occasion of my upcoming birthday (and the fact that I haven’t posted anything in months), I would like to present to you, in no particular order some of the most famous (real and imaginary) birthday parties ever.

“Happy Birthday, Mr. President”

Fifty-five years ago on May 19, 1962, Marilyn Monroe sang “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” to then-U. S. President John F. Kennedy at a celebration for his 45th birthday (his actual birthday was on May 29). Monroe’s sultry performance helped fuel an even now persistent (but unverified) rumor that she and JFK were having an affair.

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By Eureka Humboldt Standard – page 3 via Newspaperarchive.com, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=57973181

The Birth of Hip Hop

August 11, 1973 is considered to be the “birthdate” of hip hop. On that date, Clive Campbell, better known now as DJ Kool Herc, was the DJ for his sister’s birthday party in the recreation room of a apartment building at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue in the west Bronx, NY. According to history.com, by that time, DJ Kool Herc had been working on refining his “break beat” style for a year. At that successful party, he used his most powerful sound system ever, before his largest crowd to that point. That party started a movement that resonates to this day.

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The original invitation to the legendary party. Source: the BBC. 

Paris Hilton’s 21st Birthday Party

Once upon a time (at the beginning of the 21st century), hotel heiress Paris Hilton was probably the world’s most famous young woman. In 2002, Hilton threw herself five birthday parties over three continents – in Los Angeles, New York, Las Vegas, London and Tokyo. It’s estimated that she spent $75,000 per guest. Although it would have been hard to believe back then, but now Paris Hilton spends her life out of the limelight. Hilton did speak up, approvingly, in a rare appearance regarding Kendall Jenner’s 21st birthday party — where Jenner (sister of Hilton’s still omnipresent BFF, Kim Kardashian) wore a dress that copied Hilton’s infamous chain mail dress that she wore during her birthday parties.

Paris Hilton 2nd bday

Photo by Richard Young/REX/Shutterstock. Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/~/article-3900102/index.html#i-99c41c3841942714

A Hobbit Birthday Party

Hobbit Day, as devotees of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit books call (and celebrate) it, is the occasion of Bilbo Baggins’ 111th (or “eleventy first“) birthday, and Frodo’s 33rd birthday. The Fellowship of the Ring opens with the birthday celebrations. In the book, the celebration included much food (three meals worth), a whole lot of drink (folks being carted away in wheelbarrows), and fireworks honoring the events of The Hobbit, courtesy of Gandalf. Instead of the birthday honorees getting presents, per Hobbit custom, the guests got presents.

[Spoiler alert] 

There was also a family supper (consisting of 144 people) at the end of the celebration days. At the end of the supper, Bilbo gave a speech, slipped on the One Ring, and vanished…

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Shot from The Fellowship of the Ring (movie). Source: Wedding Inspiration: Bilbo Baggins’ Birthday. From apracticalwedding.com

 

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Quick Thoughts on the Fourth Season Premiere of “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”

(Promotional image above courtesy of ABC.)

After months of my son asking me when is the premiere of (his favorite TV show) Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., we finally got to watch it. Just a few thoughts I had:

  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.Brett Dalton + a 10:00 pm starting time = me feeling some kind of way. Sleepy, for one.
  • I like Agent Coulson more than Director Coulson.
  • FitzSimmons are much more attractive now that they’ve gotten together. They should have done this a long time ago!
  • Note to Agent May: You really looked like such a hater when you were talking to Gemma. Not a good look for you.
  • Wonder how Mack will use his exploding pen…
  • Who’s faster — Yo Yo or Quicksilver? I hate Quicksilver, so I hope it’s Yo Yo. But I think The Flash is faster than both.
  • I like Gabriel Luna as Robbie Reyes/Ghost Rider. Even if he does look like the IT guy at my job. (The flaming skull would be appropriate after the IT guy tells someone for the fifth time to make sure the computer is on!)
  • So, just as I’ve gotten used to calling Skye Daisy, now I have to call her Quake?!? Sigh!
  • Note to self: Sliding Doors (starring John Hannah, who plays Dr. Radcliffe) is now on Netflix. Watch it!
  • If she was on, I missed her, but I heard that Parminder Nagra is on the show now. As an aside, I think she’d make an awesome Doctor Who.
  • This single episode was more racially/ethnically diverse than many networks’ entire schedules (I’m looking at you, CBS).

Looking forward to watching more episodes this season, even if the 10:00 start means a later bedtime for my son (and me).

Prince.

Still trying to process the fact that Prince is dead. 2016 has been a very bad year for us pop culture aficionados. Here’s an article that you might find interesting. 

Without backup singers, a band, or much in the way of pyrotechnics beyond a few candelabras and some swirling digital graphics, Prince commanded the stage at Atlanta’s Fox Theater exactly a week ago. It was just the pop icon and a piano, those who were in the audience that evening said. “It was more like……

via Inside Prince’s Emotional Final Concerts Before His Death — Variety

The End Of the Innocence

From a schoolmate of mine. I share her sentiments.

Corner of the Soap Box

2016 has started with great losses to the music industry, most notably David Bowie, Glenn Frey and Maurice White.  Three artists who were a major part in the songbook of the lives of kids in my generation, the 70’s.

While we have suffered other notable losses this year, the loss of these three forces hit home pretty hard.  Writer Marc Eliot, in an op ed on CNN.com, wrote “For people who came up in that time, the death of Frey — and earlier this month the death of David Bowie — comes as a reality check, a resounding reminder that the days of “Take it Easy” and the promise of “One of these Nights” are long behind us. Instead, music, the blood of our youth, has somehow been replaced by mortgages, credit cards, spouses, children, divorces, alimony, expanding waistlines and diminished dreams.”

While I do agree their passings are a reminder that…

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Valentine’s Day: Unusual Movie Romances

I know that today, some people are thinking of Groundhog Day (which is one of my favorite movies). But I’m thinking a little ahead, to Valentine’s Day. (Note: Only 12 shopping days left.) In PRC’s usual geeky view of pop culture, here are four movies that involve an unusual take on romance:

Ghost (1990)

This very popular movie features Patrick Swayze, as the ghost of the title, with Demi Moore as his lover. This movie also contains an oft-parodied romantic pottery making scene. Ghost is also the reason why, to this day, I cannot stand to watch Tony Goldwyn in anything (sorry, Scandal fans).

Whoopi Goldberg played a very funny, yet believable, psychic in the movie. She deserved her Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for this role.

Ghost also revived the oldies music standard, the Righteous Brothers’ Unchained Melody.

Love at First Bite (1979)

This disco-era movie starred George Hamilton as a well-tanned Dracula and Susan Saint James as Cindy Sondheim, the object of his desire. Richard Benjamin, as Dr. Jeffrey Rosenberg, is the third piece of this love triangle. My favorite scene in the movie? When Dr. Rosenberg tries to kill Dracula:

Dr. Jeffrey Rosenberg: [triumphantly] Well, Count, what do you say to that?

[Pulls out a Star of David]

Dr. Jeffrey Rosenberg: [Dracula hides his face, then realizes what it is and removes his hands]

Count Dracula: I would say, leave Cindy alone and find yourself a nice Jewish girl, Doctor!

Dr. Jeffrey Rosenberg: Huh?

[looks at star]

Dr. Jeffrey Rosenberg: Ah shit! It’s the other one, isn’t it?

Love at First Bite also features a great disco song, Alicia Bridges’ I Love the Night Life. 

Starman (1984)

The great sci-fi movie director John Carpenter directed this human/alien (in human form) love story. It had an unsuccessful TV show spin-off. I only have four words to say about this movie: Jeff Bridges. In 1984.

This movie does have songs, but none (in my opinion) worth noting here.

Did I mention that Jeff Bridges is in this movie?

Superman II  (1980)

I’ve noticed that people either love or hate this movie. I belong to the first category. As with all things Superman, there are those people who try to read deeper meeting into this movie. I am not one of those people. Its enjoyable as what it is on the surface – a romantic movie featuring a superhero, his witty reporter girlfriend and some really good actors (Gene Hackman, Terrence Stamp) playing villains. 

Two lessons from this movie? Sometimes it’s not about what you want, it’s about what’s best for the world. Also, not having superpowers sucks! (Sorry, I don’t know what the statute of limitations is for spoilers.)

While Superman II doesn’t have a stand out song, the first Christopher Reeve movie, Superman (1978), does feature the pretty song, Maureen McGovern’s Can You Read My Mind?

Other than Ghost (which is available on Netflix), unfortunately it doesn’t appear that any of the movies are available on a streaming service. This might be the time to check out your local library (or Netflix DVD) for availability on DVD.

 

Pop Rocking Culture Goes to Comikaze 2015!

Blue Striker, Dad and I went to Stan Lee’s Comikaze 2015 at the Los Angeles Convention Center on November 1, 2015. For starters, this may be a landmark year for the five year old convention, because Stan Lee (who bought out the convention a couple of years ago) made an unofficial announcement on Friday that this may be the last Comikaze he attends. It would be strange not to see Stan Lee at Comikaze. However, he is in his nineties, and it is amazing that he maintains such a high profile.

We last attended Comikaze in 2012, and upon entering the Convention Center, it was obvious how much Comikaze has grown. For one, we had a hard time getting through the crowds in the vendor area. While this is generally a sign of success, it made things a bit overwhelming. Blue Striker also noted that it also made it difficult to determine who had stuff to give away. A suggestion to those responsible for the day-to-day logistics of the convention: Make sure attendees (including members of the press, like me) have easy access to the programs.

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There was a lot of neat cosplay at Comikaze. I noticed that there was a relatively small number of people dressed as “traditional” superheroes. That said, there continues to be a plethora of Harley Quinns, Jokers, Deadpools and Spiderhumans. There were also plenty of anime and video game characters (who Blue Striker had to point out to me), as well as TV and movie characters. For even a minor Doctor Who fan like me, it was neat to see people dressed up as Doctors Tom Baker, David Tennant and Matt Smith. There were more fezes there than at a Shriners convention!

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As Pop Rocking Culture is also about the pop culture experience for kids, I did notice a few kids who seemed overwhelmed by all of the action. I am sure many of them were tired, hungry and even bored as well. It would be great that on Sunday, which is supposedly the traditional “kids’ day” at cons, there were a few more things geared towards the young set. On the plus side, there was a pretty neat panel called “Pop Culture Parenting with the Geeklings and Parental Units”. I got the chance to find out like-minded moms and dads, who had a few great ideas for bringing up the next generation of pop culture mavens. There is actually a group called Geeklings and Parental Units, who host meetups in the Los Angeles area.

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There were plenty of Baby Boomer and Gen X icons such as Nichelle Nichols and Walter Koenig of Star Trek: The Original Series fame, as well as Erik Estrada and Larry Wilcox from CHiPs. It was also neat to see kid star Kel Mitchell, the one half of the Kenan and Kel team from Nickelodeon whom we don’t see every week on Saturday Night Live. I pointed out to Blue Striker that this guy is the same one who played the goofy kid with the braids in Good Burger. (Note: I mentioned Mystery Men to Blue first, but then I realized that he’s never seen it. Another thing to add to his pop culture “to do” list.)

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All in all, we had a good time at Comikaze 2015. We hope that wpress credentials in 2016. Blue Striker says that he will definitely dress in costume the next time around. As for me, I might as well.

The hero of this comic book is a single, black mother raising her super-powered son

The trailer for the comic is great! There’s a link to the first (free) issue of the comic. I look forward to reading it.

Fusion

In the comic book Raising Dion, Nicole, a widowed, black single mother, dedicates her energy to raising and chronicling the life of her son, Dion, a seven-year-old boy with a bevy of inexplicable superpowers. With Dion, getting dressed in the morning turns into a frantic chase as he teleports around the apartment, playtime involves bouts of uncontrolled telekinesis, and timeouts are thwarted by the boy’s ability to render himself invisible.

Though she loves her son to death, Nicole realizes that unless she guides him properly, his abilities could easily overwhelm her and expose their secret to the world. Rather than freak out, Nicole does what she can to teach Dion about what she means when she says that he could be a superhero one day.

“How do you protect him from the world?” Nicole asks in the cinematic trailer for the comic book. “First, never take your eyes off of him…

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