Category: Lifestyle

Super Bowl LVIII Reaction – Commercials and Trailers

Super Bowl LVIII Reaction – Commercials and Trailers

Well, the latest season of NFL football is over. It has been quite the spectacle and veered closer into the Pop Culture atmosphere than it has in recent years. With the Kansas City Chiefs defeating the San Francisco 49ers 25-22 in overtime, there is no way you can say this season was not filled with drama.

Travis Kelce and Taylor Swift. PHOTO: EZRA SHAW/GETTY

Much of the added attention had to do with the intersection of music and sports with the very public romantic relationship between Kansas City Chiefs tight-end Travis Kelce and mega pop star Taylor Swift. Swift’s presence anywhere generates buzz, and this season, her travels to support her boyfriend and the camera time that she received on NFL broadcasts were the cause of a buzz that rivaled the rumble of a 747 on takeoff. A lot of the noise was generated by those same folks who were upset that a quarterback had an opinion and kneeled to protesting police brutality. For many of us, the apoplectic reaction to a woman attending a football game to support her romantic partner was gloriously rewarding karma.

The Super Bowl is the ultimate showcase for new advertisements and film trailer releases, and this year despite prices around seven million dollars for thirty second ads, plenty of companies and organizations plunked down their cash to try to ride the Taylor wave of football viewership. Let’s breakdown what we saw.

PSAs – Hit or Miss

There were a bunch of spots during the game that were not trying to sell anything at all. Some Public Service Announcements were well done, and some were head scratching to say the least. On the positive side, there was a body positivity ad sponsored by Dove and a couple of anti-bullying promos staring NFL players as well as a PSA calling attention to homelessness and another calling for people to stand up to hate. Continue reading “Super Bowl LVIII Reaction – Commercials and Trailers”

Brainiac On Banjo: Oh, Sure, It’s For The Children!

Brainiac On Banjo: Oh, Sure, It’s For The Children!

Sex and drugs and rock and roll is all my brain and body need. Sex and drugs and rock and roll are very good indeed. “Sex and drugs and rock and roll,” written by Ian Dury and Chaz Janke.

Whenever somebody advocates for the restriction of personal freedoms in the name of the children — It’s for the children! — I utter “bullshit!” These self-righteous self-appointed snobs, elitists and holy-holies advocate against what they consider moral, according to their Dickensian upbringing and just how big and how wide that pole is that they keep up their own asses.

The latest is only the latest because of the proliferation legal establishments where normal humans can drown away their money without having to understand the nuances of decentralized cryptocurrency. According to The Guardian a couple days ago under the headline ‘We’re Killing the Youth of America’: Calls Grow For Crackdown on US Gambling, according to executive director of New Jersey’s Council on Compulsive Gambling Felicia Grondin, “There’s a lot of kids that are gambling.”

No shit, Sherlock.

And kids are speeding, drinking booze, shooting guns, and watching The Three Stooges. I’ll bet even Ms. Grondin did some of that before she was twenty-one. Or eighteen, as the case may be.

Personally, I do not possess the gambling gene. I have been to casinos exactly twice, and that was because each had a great barbecue restaurant. I won exactly enough to pay for dinner each time, and I haven’t been inside of one in nearly twenty years. I don’t have a dog in this race, except a lust to silence the Brain Police. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo: Oh, Sure, It’s For The Children!”

Brainiac On Banjo: I’m Gonna Get A Lotta Shit For This…

Life’s a football game, as every chump and champ knows. We don’t touch, we collide, till we’re worn out inside. We’re kicking each other, right where it hurts, setting up the big play, and trying to score. — “Football” written by Iggy Pop, Whitey Kirst, and Whitney Kirst.

Art by Jack Davis

Yeah, I know I’m going to get a lot of shit for this, but the worst thing that ever happened to America is football.

OK. Breathe into a paper bag for a minute and then read my explanation.

As George Carlin told us back in 1975 during the very first episode of Saturday Night Live, and I excerpt, “football has hitting, clipping, spearing, piling on, personal fouls, late hitting and unnecessary roughness. Football is played in any kind of weather: rain, snow, sleet, hail, fog. In football, you can be sure that at least twenty-seven times you’re capable of taking the life of a fellow human being. In football the object is for the quarterback, also known as the field general, to be on target with his aerial assault, riddling the defense by hitting his receivers with deadly accuracy in spite of the blitz, even if he has to use shotgun. With short bullet passes and long bombs, he marches his troops into enemy territory, balancing this aerial assault with a sustained ground attack that punches holes in the forward wall of the enemy’s defensive line.”

Art by Jack Davis

Fine. That’s the sport of football. Compared to the way the rest of the world plays their football, very few people actually get killed. Except in Canada, where they play a different game of football altogether and they are very polite, once they get outside of a hockey arena. But the culture of American football — and that’s the last time I’ll use that adjective with respect to sport — well, that’s a whole different thing. It is much more dangerous. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo: I’m Gonna Get A Lotta Shit For This…”

Brainiac On Banjo: Coming — Super Attractions!

Brainiac On Banjo: Coming — Super Attractions!

Lady window shopper with a new one in the hopper whips up a chemical brew. Croaking to a neighbor while she polishes a sabre, knows how to flavor a stew. Never need to worry with a tin of “Hurri Curri” — poisoned especially for you! — “Cat Food” written by Robert Fripp and Peter John Sinfield.

I usually write this column the night before publication. Hey who knows, maybe something timely will happen on deadline. Well this time, something did happen near deadline.

I got hungry.

I just read the Superman vs Meshi manga that was released last week through one of DC’s many ever-changing, ever-shrinking online media operations. That’s not a slam against DC or its blind, deaf and dumb corporate ownership du jour. Almost all online media is struggling to figure out what to do these days, and that started well before the current noble and worthy WGA and SAG/AFTRA strikes. Just ask Elon Musk. No, scratch that; you don’t need to talk to still another self-important asshole. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo: Coming — Super Attractions!”

Pop Culture SquadCast: The Runway to the 2023 Her Universe Fashion Show: Interview with Co-Host Michael James Scott

Pop Culture SquadCast: The Runway to the 2023 Her Universe Fashion Show: Interview with Co-Host Michael James Scott

San Diego Comic-Con is right around the corner, and one of the events I am most looking forward to is the ninth annual Her Universe Fashion Show 2023, which this year will be celebrating 100 years of Disney with designs focused on Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and more. The “geek couture” show, which will be held on July 20 at 6 pm in the Harbor Ballroom, Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel and is presented by Her Universe and Hot Topic, was created by Her Universe founder Ashley Eckstein. Actress and entrepreneur Ashley is well-known as the voice of Ahsoka Tano on Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels, and in 2010 founded Her Universe – a groundbreaking fangirl fashion company and lifestyle brand. (Groundbreaking is not an exaggeration, either – just over eleven years ago I was writing about how it was hard to even find a geeky shirt in a women’s cut.  Now, thanks to Her Universe and other brands, there are many more, and more fun and fashionable, ways for us to flaunt our fandom!)

Shortly after the founding of Her Universe followed the fashion show, an immensely fun and stylish event held yearly at SDCC, which I have had the privilege to cover several times in the past. There, models walk the runway to display original geek couture created by talented designers from around the country. The judges and audience then vote on winners who will go on to design a special fashion collection with Her Universe (now a stand-alone subsidiary of Hot Topic, Inc.). Continue reading “Pop Culture SquadCast: The Runway to the 2023 Her Universe Fashion Show: Interview with Co-Host Michael James Scott”

Brainiac On Banjo: It’s A Cruel World After All

Brainiac On Banjo: It’s A Cruel World After All

We’ll travel hand in hand across this wonderland. Strike up the marching band. ‘Cause nothing can stop us now! – “Nothing Can Stop Us Now” written by Christopher and Elyse Willis.

Be afraid. Be very afraid. Be afraid of keeping your mind open. It might turn you gay.

I had spent over a half century loathing Walt Disney, and for very good reason. He was a horrible person. Walt was an anti-semitic fanatic of the extreme right wing as it was known at the time, a central figure in the America First movement that provided the platform adapted by our current infestation of MAGAts. He was so severely anti-union that he fired one of the greatest animators of the 20th century, Ub Iwerks, the man who created (or co-created; open mind, remember?) the mouse that started it all, M-I-C-K-E-Y. I could go on and on, but oddly that’s not my point today.

Disney eventually died, and his empire came under new management — in good part because some of his family members did not share his extreme world views. The company was lead, and once again is being lead, by a man of Hebrew heritage. That alone should have defrosted Walt’s corpse. Their attitudes evolved and, somehow, remarkably, they have become the poster mouse for the LGBTQIA+ movement. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo: It’s A Cruel World After All”

Brainiac On Banjo: On Meat Mountain, We Have The Meats Alright!

Brainiac On Banjo: On Meat Mountain, We Have The Meats Alright!

Saw a big Brangus Steer standing right over there, so I rustled up a fire, cooked him medium rare. Barbecued his brisket, roasted his rump, fed my dog that ol’ Brangus Steer’s hump. — “Eat Steak,” Reverend Horton Heat (Jim Heath)

Do not read this right now if you’re about to have dinner. Or read it now if you want to go on a diet… for a few weeks.

Fast food has been part of our popular culture at least since 1955, when the first McDonald’s franchises started to appear. Chains such as White Castle, Burger King, and Jack-In-The-Box (what is in that secret sauce?) preceded the franchised golden arches, but it was McDonalds’ advertising and branding that turned fast food into a lifestyle.

I just read a piece about a sandwich they’ve been selling at Arby’s. Yup, I know. Arby’s. I probably lost you. That’s okay, and you’ll see why. I’m guessing you weren’t going to try this anyway.

Evidently, Arby’s has a “secret menu.” If I’m any example, they’ve been quite successful keeping it a secret. Anyway, on this secret menu there is a sandwich called Arby’s Meat Mountain. It contains 1.5 ounces of each of the following: roast turkey, ham, corned beef, brisket, steak, and roast beef, plus both cheddar cheese and Swiss cheese, two chicken tenders, and of course, 1.5 rashers of bacon. Their Mountain is covered by an additional starch vehicle, evidently because they couldn’t come up with an edible handle.

Hey, gotta love that health food, right? According to TheTakeOut.com, the Meat Mountain contains a mere 120 ingredients — all of the above succulent substances of gastronomical trauma plus sodium erythorbate, sodium diacetate, sodium lactate and other sodia (which, I infer, is the plural of sodium) to aggregate of 3,536 milligrams of salt, approximately two and one-half times the recommended daily limit. This is an amount sufficient to make the Morton salt girl lose her shit. I do not know the amount of cholesterol in this delivery system of death, but I suspect the number is in the range of the melting point of aluminum.

The most amazing thing about the Meat Mountain, other than how you actually eat the sucker and what happens a couple hours thereafter, is that this extravaganza is a mere 1,275 calories. That’s about the same as Arby’s King’s Hawaiian Sweet Heat Beef ‘N Brisket Meal… but at least you get a soda with that.

This sucker has been around since 2014 and, according to their website, remains available to this day. Don’t feel left out of the loop if all this comes as news to you: it’s only on their “secret menu.” This is a meal Tony Stark might feed to The Hulk as an act of desperation. At its time of introduction, the Meat Mountain cost ten bucks a pop.

Remember, you will not see this heavenly satellite of gristle and grease on the big-ass menu over their counter. You’ve got to ask for it by name and they’ll (allegedly) create it for you from scratch. That’s how this secret menu thing works.

For better and for worse, we live in the Days of The Internet so secret menu items are hardly a secret — they’re just not on their store menu or their website. I don’t have Arby’s app; it might be there. But if your looking for a bit of variety — assuming the Meat Mountain doesn’t offer enough — check this out. I admit those Onion Tanglers sounds interesting. Then again, do I really want to tangle with an onion?

Lots of chains have their own secret menus. I will never know what’s on the one at Denny’s as I am much more likely to die of starvation with $20.00 bills hanging out of my every pocket, my dead and molting body repurposed as a 200-pound external door stop. And, while I’m on the subject, no, I don’t want to know what’s on Hooter’s secret menu either. Let’s just assume it involves nipple tassels.

Arby’s slogan is “we have the meats.” Yup, and they put them all in their Meat Mountain sandwich. It’s perfect for people who have three hands, a bib, a forest of napkins, a strong colon and, perhaps, one of those bags you might find in an airplane setback pocket.

(A tip of the hat to The Florescent Leech and Eddie who provided this week’s secret message. And to Rev. Heat, because the writer always needs more barbecue.)

With Further Ado #247: Student Guest Column Contest – How Wine Lovers Geek Out

With Further Ado #247: Student Guest Column Contest – How Wine Lovers Geek Out

We’re right in the middle of an annual tradition that’s part of a class I teach at Ithaca College all about pop culture and running conventions.

Each year, I ask the students to submit a column on pop culture as if they were the author of this column. Our crack editorial staff has poured over the submissions and selected our winners.

Our first runner-up of this year’s column contest is Ellie Aliperti and her thoughts on Wine and wine lovers as a fandom.

Congrats to you, Ellie.

***
How Wine Lovers Geek Out
By Ellie Aliperti

There is a stigma around wine. It is often thought of as a sophisticated person’s drink, and to many, it may appear intimidating. I, however, happened to grow up in a family that owns a winery and with a father who makes wine. So, I know the story of wine before it’s poured into your glass at some fancy wine bar.

To me, it has always been a part of my life. While for some people wine can be intimidating or exclusionary, others (especially many in the food and beverage industry) really “geek out” on it! A wine geek can be best described as an individual with an eccentric devotion to alcoholic beverages created by fermented grapes. One should not confuse the Wine Geek with the Wine Snob (though there can be a crossover). Continue reading “With Further Ado #247: Student Guest Column Contest – How Wine Lovers Geek Out”

Brainiac On Banjo: Tits and Boobs and Breasts… Oh, My!

Brainiac On Banjo: Tits and Boobs and Breasts… Oh, My!

“‘Tits’ doesn’t even belong on the list! That’s such a friendly sounding word. It sounds like a nickname. ‘Hey, Tits, come here, man. Hey! Hey Tits, meet Toots. Toots, Tits. Tits, Toots.’ It sounds like a snack, doesn’t it? Yes, I know, it is a snack. But I don’t mean your sexist snack! I mean New Nabisco Tits!, and new Cheese Tits, Corn Tits, Pizza Tits, Sesame Tits, Onion Tits, Tater Tits. ‘Betcha Can’t Eat Just One!’ That’s true. I usually switch off.” – George Carlin, The Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television

Of course there are a lot of things going on in this world that confuse me, and I suspect that might be true with you as well. Much of that confusion comes from America’s new environment of interpretive truth. To be fair, that is exacerbated by our politically correct atmosphere — that which the Christian Nationalists, dullards and assholes call “woke” because they can’t cope with five extra syllables.

One of the things that confuses me, and it has for quite some time now, is the proper euphemism for breasts. Oh, c’mon. It’s not like we don’t all have them. I realize the holy-moly rounders are not allowed to say “breasts” unless they’re in a Chick-fill-A and their hunger overwhelms their religious angst. Yes, I’m looking at you, Mike Pence.

From watching television commercials these days, it is clear that the word “boobs” is the current preference. Some find the word “tits” to be rude or even outright disgusting. Whereas boobs sounds like it’s more fun than tits (which is nonsense; they are equally fun), I don’t quite get it. The Oxford Dictionary defines boob as “a foolish or stupid person” and, second, as “an embarrassing mistake.” The whole breast thing is noted further down the listing. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo: Tits and Boobs and Breasts… Oh, My!”

Brainiac On Banjo: Are YOU… Verified?

Brainiac On Banjo: Are YOU… Verified?

Trumpets and violins I can hear in the distance, I think they’re calling our names. Maybe now you can’t hear them, but you will. — Jimi Hendrix, Are You Experienced?

I suspect you’ve heard of Meta, but if you haven’t, it has nothing to do with DC superheroes. Less than nothing, when you think about it. “Meta” is the incredibly stupid and highly misleading name that Facebook and Instagram owner “Mort” Zuckerberg gave to his company in late 2021.

Meta is an evil corporation. They follow you wherever you go on line. When you use their stuff, they record where you are, who you are, where you go, what you like, who you like, what you buy, when you’re not home, when you are home, your credit card numbers, your phone numbers and your email addresses and those of your friends. If you masturbate, they know which is your favored hand and if you do not, they’ve got pills and ointments to sell you. I do not know if they have recorded the date and time of your last bowel movement, but I have asked. These bastards have more on each of us than the FBI ever had on John Gotti.

Now Zuck has figured out a way to screw us out of another $150 or so a year, thrusting his grimy waxed paw so deep into our pockets he now has an imprint of our car keys. It is quite impressive that he has chosen to follow the lead of the biggest, most obnoxious and cheesiest hustler who does not yet hold elective office. Then again, who among us would be surprised to discover Elon Musk and George Santos are, were, or soon will be the same person? Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo: Are YOU… Verified?”