Pop Talk: November 2013

holiday microphone

Jennifer and I have always been voracious connoisseurs of all Pop Culture.  From movies to TV to music to books, and even video games, we’ve dabbled.

Since this is our premiere Pop Talk post, I would like to share our thoughts about how we plan to offer our latest interests and obsessions.  We’ll hit the big five genres, mentioned above, and we’ll even have a key at the top of each monthly post so you can get a quick look at what we cover.  Mostly, they will be new arrivals in the collective, but other times we will cover something we’re just discovering.

WARNING:  Some of these segments will be very guy orientated as Jennifer is around and aware but doesn’t DVR the shit out the world like I do.  I will play to my current delights and despite my fan fiction writing proclivities, I am drawn to largely male demographic expectations.

This Month in Pop Talk:

Chapter 1: Outlander

Channel 2: Almost Human

Verse 3: Pearl Jam, Panic! At the Disco, Cage The Elephant

Level 4: Grand Theft Auto 5

Reel 5: Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Chapter One:

Since we have dedicated an entire blog segment to books (Locklear Library posts every month), I will often be using this segment to pick random good books that fall well below the radar.  Outlander is not one of these books.  It’s a Time Travel series that Jennifer started at the behest of nearly ALL her online friends and tells me that it is on its way to becoming her favorite book franchise to date.

I have watched her fly through two 900 plus page books since the beginning of the month and I have never heard her laugh so loud while reading.  She keeps telling me how this is my kind of book.  She likens it to seeing some kind of specialty crispy chicken sandwich on a menu before I do and knowing already that’s what I’m going to order.  Frankly, if I wasn’t in the middle of writing a book for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and reading a book for an upcoming Locklear Library post, I would be all over this series like butter on a pancake.

It would not surprise me if we post more about this series (soon to start as a TV show) in the future.

Channel 2:

While we never miss an episode of The Big Bang Theory or How I Met Your Mother, it’s truly good dramas that can make TV such a fantastic medium.  We love the mini-series over movies because we’re greedy bastards and want twelve plus hours of indulgence as opposed to an hour and a half.

To that end, there is a new show on FOX called Almost Human that I’m grateful is on every week, and hopeful that it’s popular enough to stick around.

Almost Human is a cop drama that takes place in the 2048.  As a society, we have not solved any of today’s problems and as a result, everything from poverty to crime has skyrocketed while technology continues to grow at an alarming rate.

The police is militarized, mostly by cool and efficient synthetic officers that are partnered with human detectives.  One such detective doesn’t trust the machines and has been allowed to use an older model, a synthetic that was made to feel.

He is intuition based and therefore unpredictable.  This was deemed undesirable by the force and they were replaced with the more compliant and silent models.

The characters are rich and the actors breathe passion and poignancy into every situation.  The humor is top notch, which was an unexpected bonus, and the cool special effects didn’t disappoint this nerd who is still stinging from the loss of the awesome SyFy Original show, Eureka.

Verse 3:

I’m a Pearl Jam fan from way back.  Their sophomore album Vs. is still one of my favorite records of all time.  But somewhere around No Code, they lost me.  Eddie has never been a soothing vocalist but I had previously counted on melodic discipline.

A few weeks ago they released Lightning Bolt, one of the finest rock-n-roll albums I own and a welcome return to their vulnerable and coherent work.  Over half of the songs on this record are sweet and sorrowful at the same time while others blister with originality as well as drive.  The album begins with three such scorchers but the best is yet to come.  Particular gems include: Infallible, Pendulum, and Swallowed Whole where Eddie sings, “I can feel the dawn, I can feel the Earth, I can feel the living all around.”  I rather like my Pearl Jam’s pensiveness mixed with reflectiveness but they have two particularly fun songs as well, Let the Records Play and Sleeping By Myself. Both have an almost rock-a-billy feel which would normally turn me off but are among my favorites in an album full of favorites.  I can’t find it on vinyl by the way so everybody keep your eyes open for me.

Panic! At the Disco! released their third album within the last few weeks as well and it is the best thing they’ve ever done.  They broke out of Vegas with their first busy but beautiful album and followed it up with a thunker that I only keep for a throwaway song called Folkin’ Around that I simply adore.  To Weird To Live, To Rare To Die doesn’t have a single stinker on the whole album and I think some songs on it are among the best produced this year.  Miss Jackson is a nod to Janet Jackson’s reminder that her “name ain’t Baby, it’s Janet, Miss Jackson if you’re Nasty.”  It’s one of a few clever additions to this rock/electric/vocal spectacle.  Nicotine and Casual Affair are not to be missed.

It should also be noted that Toad the Wet Sprocket has released their first album in a decade and it’s great. Cage the Elephant (famous for a song called Ain’t No Rest For the Wicked) has also wowed me with a bold but singable new CD called Melophobia.  You will know it by the fact that it will be the ugliest album cover you’re likely to have seen since Technotronic’s album.  The song It’s Just Forever is a standout featuring Alison Mosshart.

Lastly, check out a song by Great Big World called Say Something.  There is a version on iTunes where they employ the harmonies of Christina Aguilera and while I’m not a big fan of hers, her haunting vocals make this song one of the best break-up singles I know.  It sounds like a duet between her and Ben Folds. Awesome.

Level 4:

You don’t have to kill people and steal cars in Grand Theft Auto 5, but it sure is a lot more fun if you do.  Either way.  there has never been a game with a bigger “map” ever released.  It is positively astounding how big the world is and you can traverse it in a helicopter, car, motorcycle, train, subway, bicycle, crop dusting plane, golf cart, donkey, blimp, dump truck, city bus, and stolen emergency vehicles.

It’s a heist game where you switch back and forth between three characters, each with special skills but the free play is what keeps people coming back.  It’s what Sims was trying for, I think.

I like to hop the train and tour the city as well as the countryside and up into the hills while shooting down police helicopters who shout things to me over megaphones like: “You’re going down!” and “Ouch!”

Normally, I play kids games like MarioKart because I can’t see well enough to do well at super realistic games and this is one of them. I don’t do any of the missions, I just have my son bring his xbox into the living room so I can thrash around on a 4 wheeler or drive up the LA river in a semi truck like the bad guy in Terminator 2.

Reel 5:

We haven’t seen Catching Fire yet so this, unfortunately isn’t a review of the film.  However, Jennifer has read the series and I haven’t. And this has her very interested in my opinion of the shenanigans Donald Sutherland is up to.

We both enjoyed the first film and I became quite a fan of the T-Bone Burnett produced soundtrack that was designed to be music from that future era.  The new soundtrack came out just last week and I hear that it’s Christina Aguilera again, wowing people with her contribution.  (Huh, I never would have thought her name would ever appear so big in a cloud of this post as it will today).

This would be a great place for anyone to comment and let us and our blog readers know what you thought of the second film.

I hope you find great deals or books and DVDs at the holiday store sales.

Your Pal,



Posted on November 30, 2013, in Pop Talk and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. The Christina Aguilera song on the soundtrack, “We Remain” is my favorite song on the album. “Say Something” is gorgeous, too. I’m a music nut so I especially enjoyed your post. 🙂

  2. Read all the Hunger Game books but not seen the movies. “Say Something” has been on repeat for the last week at my desk. Love it, both cuts. I will be adding Time Travel series to my to-read list. Enjoyed reading and look forward to more 🙂

  3. Morgan Locklear

    Thanks you two! I connect with the music most often as well. (It’s why I couldn’t pick just one band to cover).

  4. I loved Pretty. Odd. and wrote about six chapters with it as a backdrop.


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