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Pop Culture Reflection: “The Addams Family” Theme

10 Dec

 

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My pop culture reflection tributes the famous theme to 60s quirky cult classic sitcom “The Addams Family“.

According to USA Today, Ken Weatherwax who played Pugsley on the show passed away this past Sunday on December 7th. The article also noted that original show ran from 1964- 1966.

I have always loved “The Addams Family” theme ever since I was a kid. During the 80s when they played re-runs of the show I use to at least listen to the theme even if I wasn’t going to watch that particular episode. Whenever I hear the famous song the first thing that pops into my head are the snapping fingers and folded arms.

I always felt the whole idea for “The Addams Family” with its’ gothic, spooky themes and characters was unique for its time. Over the past 50 years the show has become yet another notable pop culture gem.

Below is the original theme song shared from Barry Cassidy’s You Tube channel.

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Pop Culture Reflection: Schoolhouse Rock!

24 Sep

My collector thermos that I’m not ashamed to still use

My reflection this week goes to my early childhood memories of the Schoolhouse Rock! series. If you were a kid growing up in the 70s or early 80s then you would remember these musical educational cartoon shorts that would air between Saturday morning cartoons.

Schoolhouse Rock! was a great idea because those short catchy tunes did teach me information that I can still recall as an adult.

Unfortunately there is not an official Schoolhouse Rock! website. I only came across Wikipedia facts which states that the series creator was David McCall and it ran from 1973 – 1985.

There is a 30th anniversary DVD released in 2002 that has all original 46 shorts. I own the collection and it’s sold by Disney. You can also look up any Schoolhouse Rock! video on You Tube.

Some of the more popular Schoolhouse Rock! shorts were: “Three Is A Magic Number,” “I’m Just A Bill” and “Conjunction Junction.” My favorites included: “Interplanet Janet,” “Figure Eight,” and “Unpack Your Adjectives.”

Now, “Interplanet Janet” appealed to me the most because I use to love drawing planets and learning about the solar system as a kid.

On wiki it states that Lynn Ahrens wrote and performed “Interplanet Janet.” (1978) And thanks to “Interplanet Janet” I will always remember facts about the sun because:

“She’s been to the sun it’s a lot of fun. It’s hotspot!  It’s a gas! hydrogen and helium in a big bright glowing mass.”

Below is the “Interplanet Janet” video shared from Us Chronicle’s You Tube Channel.

Pop Culture Reflection: MTV 2014 VMAs

27 Aug

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I have not watched an MTV Video Music Awards show in years and when I caught part of it this past Sunday everything seemed so different. Here is what I noticed and what has changed about the VMAs:

The VMAs was not held at Radio City Music Hall in N.Y. instead it was at the Forum in L.A.

I wasn’t familiar with the host or half of the nominees.

There was no hard rock presence whatsoever!

There are categories for awards like Best Video With A Social Message and Artist to Watch!?

The wardrobe style is to wear next to nothing in a glittery and fish netted fashion.

Aside from those changes, the only two artist nominees that I liked from the choices were Eminem and Pharrell Williams.

Eminem is at least a good hip-hop artist who brings back the old school influence. He also represents my hometown of Detroit.

I really like the song Happy by Williams because it’s catchy and I think it beats the competition. Unfortunately, he didn’t win a VMA!

The MTV VMAs just doesn’t appeal to me anymore and it hasn’t in years.

I’m also sadly accepting that hard rock is missing from todays pop dominated music scene and that my beloved rock bands are now considered classic rock!

Below is the video for Happy shared from PharrellWilliamsVEVO You Tube Channel and I think this one really deserved a win.

Pop Culture Reflection: Robin Williams

13 Aug

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The news that legendary oscar-winning actor Robin Williams is gone at age 63 has been a heartbreaking shockwave.

Hearing the media unfold details yesterday about his depression battle and suicide is a sad and tragic loss.

Williams was a great talent with Detroit roots. According to an article in The Detroit News, he grew up in Bloomfield Hills, MI and attended Detroit Country Day School.

I always felt that Williams was a super talented guy. He had that genius ability to do it all from impersonations, ad-lib, acting in comedic or dramatic roles and everything in between.

I loved his sense of humor and he has been making me laugh since I was a kid. I remember watching him in Mork & Mindy reruns and hearing his most remembered alien salute, “Na-Nu Na-Nu.”

He has made so many great movies but my favorites include, Dead Poets Society (1989) which I came to appreciate when I watched it again in my late teens. It’s one of those inspiring movies that made a lasting impression on me. In middle school I loved Mrs. Doubtfire (1993) and even as an adult it remains a classic favorite. I also really liked his dramatic performance in One Hour Photo (2002). I use to work in a photo lab and customers would ask me if I had watched the movie or I would get people who would say: “Hey your like Robin Williams in that movie.” The comments use to make me wonder if people understood that the movie was more about loneliness than photography. But it also shows the impact and perception Williams had and created with his characters.

I recognize that Williams was a gifted man who was one of a kind. I will always appreciate him for all of those iconic movie roles he played.

Below is an awesome Dead Poets Society clip shared from Fondablaster’s You Tube Channel.

 

Pop Culture Reflection: Record Store Day

23 Apr

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I fully support Record Store Day which was held this past Saturday on April 19th. I love this event not only because I collect vinyl but it also helps independent music stores.

According to the website www.recordstoreday.com, the event has been annual since 2007 and got started by record store owners and employees. The event is to celebrate the unique culture surrounding independent record stores throughout the U.S. as well as internationally.

What I like about the event is seeing the support of other vinyl fans uniting. I felt great walking into a record store and seeing it packed with people. It was like the good old days before iTunes and downloading music took over.

The part that I don’t like is having to miss out on the limited stock of the exclusive Record Store Day releases and then finding the prices inflated online.

This year had some decent special releases from artists like Ice T, Otis Redding and Bruce Springsteen. The full listing is available on the Record Store Day website but the release that I was hoping on buying was: R.E.M Unplugged: The Complete 1991 and 2001 Sessions, a 4-LP box set consisting of the band’s 1991 and 2001 unplugged sessions.

I knew my chances were slim to none to get a copy especially since Detroit has very few independent  stores left and only two locations participated in the Record Store Day event. Sure enough neither location that I checked had the record.

As a huge R.E.M fan, I still want to get my hands on the limited edition vinyl release so my next step was to check online. The listings on eBay and Amazon were ridiculous with prices ranging from $900 being the highest and $289 being the lowest!

The dam retail price for it is $90!  I get so frustrated with online sellers who do this and as much as I love R.E.M I’m not spending over $200 on limited edition vinyl.

The cd/digital release for R.E.M Unplugged: The Complete 1991 and 2001 Sessions will be available on May 20th as stated on the band’s website http://remhq.com. The website also stated that R.E.M is the only band to have performed the MTV Unplugged series twice.

I remember bits and pieces of watching the unplugged in 1991. I loved the cover they performed of One by U2. I also remember liking the acoustic version of It’s The End Of The World As We Know It. The 2001 performance mainly focused on the songs from their 1998 album Up and their 2001 album Reveal but the acoustic version of The One I love is awesome from that session.

Below is a link from Miserkocho You Tube channel showing a clip of R.E.M performing End Of The World As We Know It from their 1991 MTV Unplugged session.

 

 

 

Pop Culture Reflection: Remembering Nirvana

9 Apr

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Michael Stipe of R.E.M will induct grunge icons Nirvana into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on April 10th.

Surviving Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic tweeted that he has been practicing and he tagged Nirvana in his tweet. This has raised curiosity with fans if Novoselic and drummer and Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl will perform Nirvana songs together.

An article by Troy L Smith from Clevland.com even held a poll of who should sing with Nirvana with likely choices as Stipe, Grohl or even Paul McCartney.

Personally, I would love to see Stipe perform since R.E.M is my favorite band and Cobain and Stipe were friends.

Nirvana has left their mark in music history, releasing the epic Nevermind album in 1991 and introducing the birth of grunge with Smells Like Teen Spirit.

My love for Nirvana’s grunge sound crept up on me slowly with Lithium being the first song I liked. But it wasn’t until the In Utero album came out in 1993 that I truly got into them. The unforgettable music video for Heart-Shaped Box came out on MTV and I loved the song.

Heart-Shaped Box was so over played that I heard it at least four times a day between the radio and MTV but I still couldn’t get enough of it.

My brother who already was a Nirvana fan before me had the albums Incesticide and Nevermind.

I borrowed and would listen to those two albums for hours on my headphones. I thought Nevermind was a masterpiece and songs like Drain You, Come As You Are and Lithium were gold. Incesticide has inspiring gems too with catchy tracks like Molly’s Lips, Son of a Gun and Sliver.

I loved when Nirvana went on MTV Unplugged. It feels like yesterday that I watched what was then a highly anticipated performance as it generated so much buzz on MTV.

The MTV Unplugged performance was awesome from the songs Cobain covered to special guests The Meat Puppets. It was a memorable with Pennyroyal Tea, Dumb and Lake of Fire being my favorite songs from the set.

At the time Nirvana was becoming one of my favorite bands when Cobain shockingly committed suicide in 1994.

I was in Canada on a spring break trip with my family on April 8, 1994. I kept seeing clips of Nirvana’s music videos on a news channel at the hotel but it was in french so I didn’t realize what happened until the next evening when I was back home.

For that whole week I watched the news coverage on T.V. stunned and saddened as I watched Cobain’s  memorial.

I hope tomorrow’s induction ceremony will have surprises with performances and with Stipe on board i’m sure everything will be tasteful.

To pay tribute I linked a clip from Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged performance from TheNirvanaConcerts You Tube channel.

Pop Culture Reflection: Paying Tribute To ‘Ghostbusters’ Actor Harold Ramis

26 Feb
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I took this photo of the Ghostbusters car at a museum exhibit in 2008

I was deeply saddened to hear that Ghostbusters actor and comedy writer Harold Ramis passed away on Monday.

According to article on Today.com he died from complications to auto-immune inflammatory vasculitis and he was only 69 years old.

I want to pay tribute to his brilliant work which includes hits like Caddyshack, Groundhog Day, Stripes and of course mega blockbuster Ghostbusters which also has one catchy theme.

I loved Ghostbusters as a kid even though some of the scenes use to scare me a little. Ramis playing his cool science guy character as Dr. Egon Spengler is his most notable role.

An article on People.com showed a photo of Twinkies being left by fans outside the Ghostbusters Firehouse in New York in memory of Ramis. I thought that was awesome. Below is a link from Ghostbusters.net You Tube channel of the famous scene.

My personal favorite film is Stripes. Ramis along with comedic actor Bill Murray were great on-screen together.

The film is a gem with its simple plot of two friends dissatisfied with their situations who decide to join the army. The comedic results of this plan along with all of the memorable lines make this a genius hit comedy.

Below is a link from Movieclips You Tube channel  of one of the many funny scenes from Stripes.

Ramis was definitely a man of talent who wrote great hit movies that I will always remember and appreciate.

Pop Culture Reflection: The Tonight Show

19 Feb
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My welcome poster to Fallon

I think Jimmy Fallon delivered a stellar debut in New York on Monday as Tonight Show host with his first guests Will Smith and U2.

His opening remark kicked things off in the right direction:

“I’m Jimmy Fallon and I’ll be your host … for now!”

The joke was a light-hearted reference to his predecessor Jay Leno leaving then coming back to host The Tonight Show after the clash between the network and Conan O’Brien four years ago.

I’ll miss Jay Leno but he had a good 22 year run on the show and I’m looking forward to Fallon taking the reigns.

I was a fan of Fallon’s comedy from his Saturday Night Live days and I especially like when he does his ‘Late Night Superlatives’.

Some of my favorite highlights was seeing celebrities like Rudy Guliani, Mike Tyson, Lady Gaga and many more walking up to drop money onto Fallon’s desk for losing the bet that he would become The Tonight Show host.

His evolution of hip-hop dancing with Smith was the best part for me because I remember actually doing those dances in middle school like The Running Man and Kid ‘N Play. My two favorites that had me laughing the most was The Stanky Legg and The Steal The Face Then Swallow It And Throw It Back Up. (I included the You Tube clip below because it’s too hilarious to miss)

Now, I have not listened to U2 since they released Zooropa in 1993 but I did think the live performance on top of the Rockefeller Center was cool and I also liked the acoustic performance of Ordinary Love.

I have always related to Fallon because he appreciates the same 90’s era sitcoms and alternative bands that I like, such as Pearl Jam and shows like Saved By The Bell.

I look forward to his future with The Tonight Show.

This is the link from The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon You Tube channel for the hip-hop dancing clip.

Pop Culture Reflection: The Beatles 50th Anniversary CBS Special

12 Feb
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My illustration tribute to The Beatles

Great moments took place during Sunday night’s CBS special for The Beatles 50th anniversary of their live appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show.

Their performance on February 9th, 1964 changed America or known in popular culture as what started Beatlemania.

Surviving members Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr sat together during the show as the band’s history and bios got covered. The night featured big name artists paying tribute like Dave Grohl, Stevie Wonder, Katy Perry, Johnny Depp, Sean Penn and many more.

Members of John Lennon and George Harrison’s family were there. Harrison’s widow Olivia was in the audience and Sean Lennon sported a shaggy spit in’ image look of his father while he stood next to his mother Yoko Ono.

A few notable artists that I felt delivered great performances of The Beatles classics were Maroon 5 who did a stellar cover of All my Loving as well as Alicia Keys and John Legend who delivered a nice rendition of Let it Be.

I thought it was cool that while artists were performing their tribute’s the camera would turn to McCartney and Starr whose faces seemed so honored as they clapped along and mouthed the words to their songs.

McCartney performed I Saw Her Standing There which is one of my favorite songs and I also enjoyed when Ringo played Boys and of course hearing him do Yellow Submarine was awesome.

The closing part of the night was the best when they performed together again doing With A Little Help From My Friends and then Ringo on drums for Hey Jude. Their whole performance gave me goosebumps.

The Beatles are my best friend’s favorite band and they are a classic iconic band that hold a special place in my heart too.  We each differ in who our favorite Beatle is and which album is our favorite but their brilliance as a band is never an argument.

For the record, Ringo is my favorite Beatle while Lennon is my best friends favorite. I also believe her favorite album is The White Album while mine is Magical Mystery Tour.

I found a link from The Beatles You Tube channel showing some of the The Ed Sullivan performance, enjoy.

Pop Culture Reflection: 90s Hit Sitcom Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

8 Jan
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I took this pic in 2008 because I saw the Fresh Prince on side of The Detroit People Mover

Paying tribute this week to 90s hit sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, after hearing that James Avery who played Uncle Phil on the show passed away December 31, 2013.

According to an article from CNN, Avery was 68 years old and suffered complications from an open-heart surgery.

Will Smith who gained his stardom playing Avery’s street smart nephew, posted a recent photo of the last time he was with Avery on his Facebook page and included this statement:

“Some of my greatest lessons in Acting, Living and being a respectable human being came through James Avery. Every young man needs an Uncle Phil. Rest In Peace.”

Alfonso Ribeiro who played Avery’s son Carlton on the show also included photos and tribute posts on his Facebook page stating:

 “Here’s another photo of James from our wedding. It is still hard to believe he is no longer with us. It feels like yesterday when I would drop by his dressing room and learn about some of the great Jazz music he would listen to. Such a warm, inspiring, wonderful man.”

I loved Avery’s memorable role as a stern but caring uncle who kept Smith’s wild character in place.

I remember at the time the show aired Will Smith was more known for being a rapper with his hip-hop duo as DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince but after the first season The Fresh Prince blew up in popularity and the rest is history.

I also recall that at my school If you didn’t watch the show then you lived under a rock. The kids in my class would always talk about the show and repeat the jokes.

One of my favorite episodes with Avery is when Will gets himself in debt with a pool hustler and Avery has to come to the rescue. At first Avery acts like he can’t shoot pool to raise the ante on the bet before going into shark mode and getting even with the pool hall hustler.

The Fresh Prince ran from 1990 to 1996 and the show carries memories of an awesome cast filled with memorable scenes, catch phrases and of course one signature dance number by Ribeiro!

I am glad that I grew up watching it and carrying the memories of the 90s era.

Below is a link to my favorite clip of the pool scene from nub2sauce You Tube channel.