Sunday, April 15, 2012

My New Direction

At the start of the month, I spun off a new website called Small Screen Happenings that's only going to focus on television since that what I love writing about the most. I've been going back and forth about what I wanted to do with Poppas Two-Cents, and for now I'm going to try to keep it going because I still love movies, music and pop culture, and this would be the home for those stories.

The thing is, I have no idea how the Internet works, and I've been trying to figure out how to appropriately forward stuff, use domain names, and so forth and so on. This means, that my blogs will be all over the place while I learn what I'm doing, so please pardon the mess. I'm going to get the hang of this, oh bet on it. Until then, check out my new blog and come back if you're looking for my older work. Thanks.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

My Half-Hearted Oscar Picks: 2012

There once was a time when I was obsessed with the Oscars. I would insist on watching every Best Picture nominee prior to the big night, and then the Dark Knight rule had to swoop in and ruin everything. Ever since then, I've found my interest level in the show (and movies in general) drop. That being said, I still feel obligated to put together a list of half-assed predictions.

Best Picture: The Artist
Best Director: Wood Allen, Midnight in Paris
Best Leading Actor: George Clooney, The Descendants
Best Leading Actress: Viola Davis, The Help
Best Supporting Actor: Christopher Plummer, Beginners
Best Supporting Actress: Octavia Spencer, The Help
Best Original Screenplay: Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris
Best Adapted Screenplay: Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, The Descendants
Best Animated Feature: Rango

I'll probably still check out the show just to see how many of these shots in the dark hit their marks. I just wish I didn't have to sit and watch Billy Crystal for three hours...

Sunday, December 4, 2011

My Two-Cents on the 2011-2012 Bowl Season

Admittedly, I have not been paying too much attention to college football this year since my television obsession has taken over, but I do know that it's been a crazy season. Last night, the bowl match-ups were announced, and I thought I'd share my initial thoughts:

BCS National Championship Game: (1) LSU vs. (2) Alabama
I go back and forth when it comes to the BCS. On one hand, I agree that the only fair way to crown a National Champion is by having some sort of playoff system because that's how every other title is determined in America. It's only logical, but big time college football has never been logical. On the other, I like bowl games and the tradition that comes along with them. The schools like them too because of the money that comes along with them which is why we'll never see a playoff anytime soon.

If anything, the BCS causes a lot of drama and is the seed of interesting debates throughout the season, but the idiocy of the system has peaked its head out from the ground as we're being forced to watch a rematch between LSU and Alabama for the BCS Championship. Luckily, I didn't watch the first game, but having a rematch to crown the championship makes zero sense in my opinion (yes, a playoff could result in the same match-up.) What makes me even more upset is the fact that it's two SEC teams because I'm tired of that conference dominating football. Since I don't have a horse in the race, I'll be skipping this year's game altogether.

Orange Bowl: (23) West Virginia vs. (15) Clemson
I cannot remember a non-BCS Title Orange Bowl that I actually cared about, and this year's is not going to be memorable either, but it's a prime example of what's wrong with college football. You see, the big bowls thrive on dishing out big money to the champions of the big conferences. The problem is the Big East and the ACC are not relevant anymore but we're stuck with this match-up between a school, West Virginia, that's ranked lower than schools from smaller conferences (Boise State, Houston, and Southern Mississippi) and a team that's ranked lower than the team they beat for their conference's championship (Clemson). Since the Orange had to take the Big East and ACC champions, more deserving teams are left on the outside. How does that make any sense?

Much like most of the major games, I don't really care for either team. Since WVU will be jumping ship to the Big 12, and that's my home league, I'll go ahead and secretly cheer for them while I openly mock them for sneaking into a big money game.

Sugar Bowl: (13) Michigan vs. (11) Virginia Tech
OK, now I'm really confused. I know that the Sugar Bowl has ties to the SEC, and since the two best teams are facing off for the BCS title they couldn't play in this game. I get that, but how did two teams that didn't even win their conferences get here especially when Arkansas was ranked higher than BOTH of them?

I give up. I'm going for Michigan because the Big Ten is less of a joke than the ACC.

Fiesta Bowl: (4) Stanford vs. (3) Oklahoma State
So, I lied. There is a major bowl game that I care about and it's the Fiesta. My allegiances will always be to the Big 12 (until next year when Texas A&M leaves for the SEC), but the Pac-12 will always be a close second.

I was surprised that OKSt did as good as they did, and I was little upset that they ruined their own chances to play for the National Title (who loses to ISU?) thus giving us an all-SEC championship game. On the flip side, I was pulling for Stanford for most of the season, so I'm going with the Tree over the Pokes.

Rose Bowl: (10) Wisconsin vs. (5) Oregon
Ah, tradition. The Granddaddy of Them All. At least we can count on the Rose Bowl to remind us of the greatness of college football and for keeping us all stuck in the past since they'll never budge enough to give fans a playoff. Deep down, I'm always looking forward to the Rose Bowl even though it stands in the way of progress.

My ties to the Pacific Northwest dictate that I root for the Ducks, so that's what I'm going to do. I'm just glad they don't have to play Ohio State again. Man, I really dislike the Buckeyes.

Other Notable Games:

Poinsettia Bowl: (18) TCU vs. Louisiana Tech: Yup, the 18th ranked team in the land has to play in the Poinsettia Bowl...again! At least next year TCU will have a legit shot a bigger bowl game since they'll be a member of the Big 12, but so will WVU.

Las Vegas Bowl: (7) Boise State vs. Arizona State: Much like the Poinsettia Bowl, a decently ranked team (top ten as a matter of fact) is forced to play in an inferior bowl game for who knows why. It's just too bad we didn't get another meeting between TCU and Boise State because those games salvaged previous bowl seasons.

Holiday Bowl: (24) Texas vs. California: I just want the Golden Bears to destroy to shorthorns. I know it probably won't happen, but a guy can dream.

Alamo Bowl: Washington vs. Baylor: Maybe I should move back to the West Coast because this is the second match-up that has me picking a lefty school over a Texas one. To be fair, I've always been a fan of Washington even when they were horrible (plus, I really dislike Baylor.)

Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas: Texas A&M vs. Northwestern: Leave it to the Aggies to force me to break my "no corporate sponsorship" rule. Ah well, Gig 'em!

TicketCity Bowl: (19) Houston vs. Penn State: What the hell is TicketCity? I still can't believe the Coogs blew their chances at a bazillion dollars and a BCS bowl game.

OK, rant over.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

My Two-Cents on The Muppets

The only movie of 2011 that I was anticipating to see besides the final Harry Potter was The Muppets. There's just something magical about those felt puppets, and the fact that Jason Segel was involved with their return to the big screen was icing on the cake.

The plot was not groundbreaking by any stretch of the imagination. It was your typical "get the band back together" movie as Kermit and the gang had to raise money to save the Muppet Theater from the archetypal rich businessman who was of course a Texan. Along the way, The Muppets used relatable themes like love, family, and growing up to punctuate the story. It took these standby tropes, ideas, and gimmicks and added the right amount of nostalgia and satire to take the movie to the next level.

What I appreciated most about The Muppets wasn't the story itself but the subversive humor that was threading throughout the entire run-time. From the get go The Muppets didn't pretend that it wasn't a movie, and instead it alluded to that fact and hung a lampshade on the very cliches that it was using. I'm a big fan of that kind of humor, which was why I was so happy to see Community's Donald Glover make an appearance because in a lot of ways this was the Muppet movie for my generation. It's idealistic without being gullible, which made some of the heartwarming scenes even more powerful.

Speaking of Childish Gambino, the celebrity cameos also made The Muppets a delight to watch. Some were obscure (Kristen Schaal), some were mandatory (Neil Patrick Harris), and some were flat out brilliant (Jim Parsons). These appearances turned watching the movie into a pop culture scavenger hunt that added an extra layer of awesome, but some were so inside that I was the only one laughing and I was OK with that (it made me feel superior.)

It wasn't just about the cameos because Jason Segel and Amy Adams did amazing jobs as the human leads. Segel was born to make this movie, and Amy Adams was pitch perfect as his romantic opposite. Even Chris Cooper did a great job as the worn-out, rich Texan character, and he made watching an old stereotype fun again. I also have to praise Rashida Jones as the cynical TV executive because she plays this kind of role so well.

While I liked The Muppets a lot, it was not perfect. There were some pacing issues in the second act, when they traveled to Paris to bring Miss Piggy back, and it ran a little longer than it needed to. I get that they wanted to get in as many callbacks, cameos, jokes, and story into a finite amount of time, but it would've been a stronger film if it had been 10-15 minutes shorter. That being said, these are minor quibbles.

This was the right time for the Muppets to make their comeback. This movie probably would have been too by-the-books even ten years ago, but this day and age allowed Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller to write their version of a Muppets movie that can speak to not only my generation but to the kids inside of us. Younger and older audiences may not get The Muppets, but who cares? It was a fun time at the movies and a reminder of the magic that Hollywood is capable of.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

My Yesterday

One of the great things about NBC's The Sing-Off is a group will occasionally bust out an old Boyz II Men song, and it always brings back fond memories of my childhood. This week, one of the eliminated groups sang "It's So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday", and I was reminded of how great the BIIM version was. This was my first experience with a cappella music, and one of the first songs that I connected with emotionally.

How good was that? Sometimes I miss the 90's when music was good.