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General Pop Culture

My Recent Pop Culture Obsessions

Hello, Internet world. I know that I have been neglecting this l’il blog for quite a while, so in an effort to return to a semi-regular blogging schedule, I have decided to share with you, my dear readers (if there are any of you left), what is currently grabbing my attention in various cultural media.

Books:

Currently, I’m (still) reading Haruki Murakami’s 900-page science fiction-y magnum opus, 1Q84, recently translated into English. It’s an very original novel (air chrysalises, Little People and two moons all factor heavily into the complex plot), and I am enjoying it, but I do feel like it could have been trimmed down by 300 or so pages for a more manageable, palatable read.

I finished Carrie Fisher’s new memoir, Shockaholic, on Saturday, which was a delightfully quick read and chock-full of the former Princess Leia’s trademark riotous wit. Seriously, the woman’s jokes are razor-sharp, but she softens her wordplay with some genuinely touching stories about her father and the late Michael Jackson.

Movies:

Recently, Barnes and Noble was running a sale on their stock of the Criterion DVD/Blu-Ray Collection, and I made purchase of a copy of one of my favorite films of all time, Chungking Express. It’s a 1994 Hong Kong film (in Cantonese, with English subtitles) directed by Wong Kar Wai, and it tells two separate though thematically related tales of love and its effects. The film is quirky, funny, dramatic ,and has a KILLER soundtrack. After watching it, you’ll never hear “California Dreamin'” the same way ever again.

I am a huge horror buff, so October is naturally one of my favorite times of the year. This year, I watched lots of new horror flicks, but one of my favorites was Shadow of the Vampire, a film that dramatizes the filming of the silent vampire classic film, Nosferatu. Willem Dafoe gives an stellar performance as “Max Schreck,” the actor playing Count Orlok in the original film who is hiding quite a few secrets. The movie is an excellent exploration of artistic obsession, in addition to being unsettling in excellent fashion.

Music:

I was introduced to YouTube sensation Karmin earlier this year with their phenomenal covers of “6 Foot, 7 Foot” and “Look At Me Now,” and I fell in love. Their blend of “hip-pop” or “swag-pop,” as they term it, is both comfortable and nigh-virtuosic, all at once. Now, they’ve been signed to Epic Records (their album drops in February) and their first single, “Crash Your Party,” is receiving national airplay. Give it a listen and try not to fall in love, too.

My favorite album at the moment is, without question, the new Florence + The Machine release, Ceremonials. Florence Welch can be a bit of an acquired taste, as she tends to yell her way through a song or two and her vibrato can easily swing into goat territory, but her new album is a Gothic, melodramatic masterpiece. Her vocals, songwriting and production values have all improved, and Ceremonials has been blaring from my iPod for weeks now, almost nonstop. Here’s the first official single (and my favorite track on the album), “Shake It Out,” for your listening/viewing pleasure.

TV:

Happy Endings is a show that I was very ambivalent about last season. It wasn’t unfunny; I just thought that it was subpar to other ABC comedies, like Modern Family. This season, however, it is potentially my favorite currently-airing half-hour comedy. The comic timing of al six leads is on point, particularly that of Eliza Coupe (Jane), Adam Pally (Max), and Casey Wilson (Penny). Last week’s episode, “Code War,” made me cry twice because I was laughing so hysterically. Drink the Kool-Aid, people: Happy Endings is hysterical.

On the other hand, I will not be making any arguments about American Horror Story being quality television. Let’s not lie: the entire show is one giant, wacko, off-the-rails mess. And I’m pretty sure even the creators/actors/crew are aware of it. However, that does change the fact that it is a must-watch for me every week. The show is so outrageously campy and I admire it for being so (pardon the expression) balls-to-the-wall with its extremism, particularly last week’s episode, “Piggy, Piggy.” I may not like the term “guilty pleasure,” but I’d be lying if I said that American Horror Story isn’t one of mine.

There you have it: my current entertainment choices. All of them (maybe not 1Q84) come with my highest recommendations. Maybe this will uncork the blogging block I’ve been feeling of late. Fingers crossed for a regular blogging schedule, y’all. Fingers crossed.

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About Cory Hershberger

Neurotic/eclectic critic obsessed with pop culture who enjoys good food, good company, and, most of all, good books.

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"Lock up your libraries if you like, but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind."

-Virginia Woolf, "A Room of One's Own"

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