Ryan

Ryan

Popspotting Podcast Producer

Home page: http://www.popspotting.net

Posts by Ryan

10th Anniversary of LOST

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Check out the special 10th anniversary video that ABC put together for “LOST” this year’s San Diego Comic-Con. Then, for cryin’ out loud, get on board with LOST 2014. Less than 50 days to go. We have to go back!

Popspotting Post: Jen’s Top 15 Albums

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A Facebook prompt suggests: “Think of 15 albums, CDs, LPs (if you’re over 40) that had such a profound effect on you they changed your life. Dug into your soul. Music that brought you to life when you heard it. Royally affected you, kicked you in the wazoo, literally socked you in the gut…” Here’s Jen’s list, and we’d love to read yours!

George Jones1. George Jones Salutes Hank Williams — George Jones
By the time I was eight, my father had worn out three copies of this album on cassette. As he drove me to school, he would roll the windows down, turn up the volume on the radio all the way up, and sing along to this album at the top of his voice. It was humiliating at the time, but now, whenever I hear George Jones, I smile.

2. West Side Story — Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
My parents bought me my first record player when I was nine. They bought me most of the top 10 singles of the time, which included such household names as Toni Basil and Men at Work. I also was allowed access to their record collection, which, for the most part, didn’t interest me. I formed an attachment to the soundtrack from ‘West Side Story”, though, because I loved to picture the dance numbers and the costumes and what the characters looked like. Eventually, I found myself listening to it more than anything else.

3. Metal Health — Quiet Riot
This was the first rock album I was allowed to buy. I really wanted “Shout At the Devil” by Motley Crue, but my mom got one look at the pentagram on the cover and vetoed that choice in short order. I think I bought this because I thought the bass player was cute. I soon began buying all of the cheesy, contrived hair metal that was trendy at the time. That would be all I listened to for a long time, but this was the album that started it all.

4. Master of Puppets — Metallica
My brother played the first three tracks of this album at the crack of dawn every single morning for months. I don’t like Metallica, really, but any song from this album reminds me of a time in my life when things were simple.

5. Led Zeppelin 2 — Led Zeppelin
I had no opinion on Led Zeppelin at all until one Sunday evening, when the local rock station played this entire album. The middle section of ‘Whole Lotta Love” scared the heck out of me, and still can. I bought “Led Zeppelin 2” and “Physical Graffiti” the next day, and then the rest of Zeppelin’s albums shortly after that, and became a huge fan. For me, “2” is their signature album.

6. Joshua Tree — U2
I found the video for “With or Without You” to be utterly beautiful and hypnotic. I would watch MTV just to see the video. I didn’t consider myself a U2 fan at the time, but I picked up the album anyway, and it snapped me out of a rut I had been in for a long time. This is still my favorite album by U2 and “With or Without You” can still transform my mood.

7. Starfish — The Church
I was a devoted reader of Sassy magazine. Sassy was a magazine for teenage girls that published between my junior year of high school and my freshman year of college. In one issue, they gave “Starfish” a glowing review, and I had some of my Burger King wages for the week left over, so I bought it, and loved every weird, haunting second of it. It introduced me to The Cure, The Smiths, and countless other English alternative bands.

8. Avalon — Roxy Music
While I was watching “120 Minutes”, absorbing all I could about my new favorite bands, I caught the video for “More Than This”. That song was so beautiful and Bryan Ferry’s voice was so sweet and pretty. He looked like James Bond, and there were saxophones and bells and it sounded like heaven.

Appetite for Destruction9. Appetite For Destruction — Guns N Roses
This, on the other hand, sounded like some kind of deranged nightmare. It was violent and angry and loud, and I LOVED it. I found it hard to reconcile my love of The Cure with the rush I felt when I first heard “Welcome to the Jungle”. I hadn’t listened to metal in a while because I thought it was getting boring. This wasn’t like anything on the radio, much less like the mediocre pop metal I was used to. I still listen to this album on the certain rare occasion when I’m so cranky I can’t even stand being around myself, and it works every time.

10, Exodus — Bob Marley & the Wailers
Bob Marley was the soundtrack of a weekend at the University of Hawaii at Hilo in 1993. Wherever you went, you heard people playing “Exodus” or Marley’s greatest hits album “Legend” at varying degrees of way-too-loud. Like “Master of Puppets”, this album represents nostalgia for a certain period of time more than an actual love of the album itself. I do like it, but by the end of that year, I was so sick of Bob Marley. Now that I don’t hear him everyday, I can put this album on, close my eyes, and be in Hilo for a little while.

Hapa11. Hapa — Hapa
Hapa was the first Hawaii-produced album I bought. It was the debut album of a Maui-based duo. It contained renditions of traditional Hawaiian songs, as well as originals. It introduced me to the big, beautiful world of Hawaiian music. I find new Hawaiian artists that I love all the time, but Hapa were the first and I still love this album as much as I did then.

12. Ten — Pearl Jam
I had heard “Alive” on the radio but didn’t know who it was by. I went back to Florida to visit my parents during Christmas break one year and found the cassette of this album in my stereo. I guess my brother must have left it. I was thrilled to hear “Alive”, but I thought the rest of the album was so much better. After a steady diet of Bob Marley and Hawaiian music, “Ten” felt fresh and unique and different.

Aja13. Aja — Steely Dan
I worked at Tower Records for two years after college. One of my bosses played this album at least once a week. I didn’t appreciate Steely Dan before hearing “Aja”. I considered them kind of old-timey and boring. Without fail, though, someone would come up and ask about “Aja” every time my boss played it, and more often than not, they’d come back with a copy of it in their hands.

14. Revolver — The Beatles
Somehow, I managed to live thirty years without really hearing this album. I mean, I ‘d heard it, but not really paid attention to it. This album is so far ahead of its time, people are still trying to figure it out.

Once15. Once — Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
I saw “Once” on DVD one night shortly after Thanksgiving in 2007. It was instantly one of my favorite movies of that year. I picked up the soundtrack a few days later and it played on a constant loop in my car until after Christmas. I just love everything about it. I love the title song, “Fallen From the Sky” and “Falling Slowly”, which eventually won an Oscar.

Popspotting Listener Edition: Anna & Wendy

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doc-odd-pirates

Over a year since the last podcast, the Popspotting feed crackles to life with a surprise Listener Edition submission from our good friends Anna (@echobase77) and Wendy (@bunnieslrnow). They’re fellow podcasters from the golden age of “LOST,” and today share their “feel good picks.” With Jen quickly recovering from what will hopefully be her last procedure, this show was a very welcome treat.

BOOKS:

MOVIE:

  • What’s Up Doc?
    Starring Ryan O’Neal, Barbara Streisand and Madeline Kahn, Directed By Peter Bogdanovich, 1972, Rated G
  • China’s Lost Girls
    National Geographic, with Lisa Ling, 2005, 43 min

TV:

  • The Odd Couple
    Starring Jack Klugman and Tony Randall ( 5 Seasons, 114 episodes on 20 DVDs. 1970-75/color/45 hrs., 36 min/NR/fullscreen) Can also be purchased in individual seasons.
  • The Pretender
    Starring Michael T Weiss, Andrea Parker, Patrick Bauchau, Jon Gries. Available on DVD via Amazon; 4 seasons and two cliff-hanging made-for-TV movies

MUSIC:

  • Dear Mr. Watterson (Original Score) by We Were Pirates, from the upcoming documentary about Bill Watterson, creator of the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes and the impact of his work even after his retirement from being a syndicated cartoonist in 1995. On this page, the score can be purchase through links to itunes, Amazon.com/mp3s or bandcamp
  • Copeland: Recommended songs – When You Thought You’d Never Stand Out, You Have My Attention, The Grey Man, Pin Your Wings, There Cannot Be a Close Second

FOOD:

  • Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Bars (and don’t forget to eat cookies straight from the freezer!)
  • Chocolate Syrup Brownies (Seen in Hershey’s 1934 Cookbook, pg 90, Published by Wilton House, 1992)

1 egg 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup packed light brown sugar Dash of salt
3/4 cup Hershey’s Syrup 1/2 ( 1 stick) of butter, melted
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour 3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts , optional

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 9-inch square baking pan. In small mixer bowl, beat egg; add brown sugar and syrup, beating until well blended. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt; add to egg mixture, beating until blended. Fold in butter and nuts. Spread batter into prepared pan. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until brownies begin to pull away from the sides of pan. Cool in pan on wire rack. Cut into squares. Yield: 16 brownies

Popspotting Post: Before Midnight

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Before Midnight

Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy), the heroes and protagonists of Richard Linklater’s “Before” trilogy, are roughly the same ages as Ryan and I. We’ve grown up with them, and that may color how we view “Before Midnight” and its predecessors. I fell in love with these characters, and couldn’t wait to experience the next chapter in their lives.

In this latest film, we join Jesse and Celine nine years after the events in “Before Sunset,” and again, many things have changed for the two of them in the intervening time. We drop in toward the end of a vacation in Greece, and the pair are immediately familiar and intimate, and as viewers we feel as if they’re just old friends of ours, catching up.

Without a doubt, “Before Midnight” is best experienced with minimal spoilers, but even the trailers have told us quite a bit. I will say that what we witness is both expected, and a little sad. And for this go ’round, it appears that there is no “deadline” to meet, and thus no innate dramatic tension.

Yet, by the closing moments, everything is at stake, and for those of us in a similar stage in our lives, we can relate to the stakes all too well.

“Before Midnight” is the most honest, most realistic film about a long-term relationship that I’ve seen in a long time. It’s deliberately paced and beautifully shot, invoking the best parts of the New Hollywood films of the ’60s and ’70s. It is its own film, yet it certainly nods in small ways to “Before Sunrise” and “Before Sunset.”

And as far as performances go, Hawke and Delpy are indistinguishable from Jesse and Celine. To me, they are Jesse and Celine, a sense only strengthened with their performances here… if they even are performances. Delpy and Hawke co-wrote the screenplay with Linklater, and there are gems and needles of truth that must certainly come from real life.

In this third outing, we actually meet and get to know a few other characters, and they are just important to this film as Jesse and Celine. They seem to represent the two at different stages of their relationship, past and future. The conversations between these characters are just as honest as the ones this film series is known for.

When the credits roll, there’s a hesitation. And I think eeryone who sees this film will have a different own opinion about what happens next. That, perhaps, is the trademark question that haunts every “Before” film. But for the first time in this trilogy, I’m okay with not knowing what happens next. I think the final scene tells me everything I need to know about these characters. It’s a beautiful wrap-up to a great trilogy.

But if “Before Noon” turns up in 2022, I won’t complain.

Cloud Atlas - Tom Hanks

Popspotting Post: Cloud Atlas

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Jen’s preview of”Cloud Atlas,” starring Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Huge Grant, directed by Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski, in theaters Oct. 26, 2012.

I read the 2004 novel “Cloud Atlas” by David Mitchell in four days.  Spurred on by Ryan, who was reading with me, I devoured the book like I had no other title before it.  We wanted to finish it before the screening of the feature film at the Hawaii International Film Festival.

I thoroughly enjoyed the novel.  Sure, it was gimmicky, but it was also fascinating. Cloud Atlas is a collection of six short stories with common themes, all tied together.  The narrators of the stories are from all over the world, in both the past and the future.  Mitchell was able to deftly create six different, distinct voices.

I realized that a film adaptation of this novel would be very, very tricky to pull off.  I had high hopes, though. The film is written and directed by Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run) and Lana and Andy Wachowski (The Matrix Trilogy).  I was somewhat confident in their collective ability to translate the novel into a coherent film.

They did pull it off.  Mostly.

The writing team cut a few corners and made a few changes that made me scratch my head.  They completely discarded the structure of the novel.  I was able to follow along with the characters, but I can imagine how someone not familiar with the novel could be very confused.  Some of the novel’s loose ends are tied up a little too neatly, and the filmmakers’ choice to use only a few actors for so many roles was maybe not a good one.

The film stars Halle Berry, Tom Hanks, Susan Sarandon, Jim Broadbent (Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince), and Jim Sturgess (Across the Universe), among others.  Halle Berry is Halle Berry, but I have to say, I am impressed with Tom Hanks.  I never saw him as a serious actor before and considered him very overrated, especially in Forrest Gump, a role which still earns him praise.  He sheds his movie star skin in this film and truly inhabits his characters. Hugo Weaving, of The Matrix Trilogy and the Lord of the Rings franchise, appears in drag in one story and is frightening every minute he is onscreen.

The team struggles, I think, with tone.  There are quite a few genuinely funny moments in the novel that just aren’t funny onscreen. One act involves a senior citizen (Broadbent) who is accidentally imprisoned in a retirement home and enlists some of his fellow residents in his escape.  This part of the novel is quite funny, but feels dark and surreal onscreen.  Another act takes place in the 1970’s, and feels much too modern.  A little more attention to how the original stories feel could have made this film seem more than just an exercise in dress-up.

And the makeup required to turn some of the Caucasian actors into Asian characters is truly awful.  Watching these actors in their makeup made me forget about the story entirely.

I appreciate what the filmmakers were going for.  I truly do.  The idea of the novel is that throughout one’s lives, he meets the same people over and over again, throughout history.  Seeing the same small cast appear as different characters underscores that idea, but it’s not necessarily successful.

The film does succeed, though, in its epic scope and especially it’s brain-twisty-ness.  It’s dense and confusing, in the best way possible.  The lack of a structure allows the audience to make connections that they might not make with the novel.  Scenes blend into each other, lines of dialogue highlight themes.  It is an achievement in filmmaking.

Maggie Mack

Popspotting Listener Edition: Maggie Mack

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Podquiz LogoMaggie Mack (@ilea02) is a long-time podcasting friend and Thanksgiving Popspotting guest from Northern Virginia. In this Listener Edition, she shares another podcast worth checking out: PodQuiz. PodQuiz is a weekly trivia quiz podcast. Each week there are twenty questions, some music as an interlude, followed by the answers.

Jen has been a fan of PodQuiz for years, and even shared it as a “Pith of Pop” pick back in 2006! It’s good to see he’s still going strong.

Popspotting Listener Edition: Wendy & Anna

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The Booth at the End

Updated to correct link! Two podcasters from the golden age of “LOST” come together to share five post-“LOST” picks in a new Popspotting Listener Edition. Anna (@echobase77) and Wendy (@bunnieslrnow) recommend:

We’re honored to have been a small part of the reasons Wendy and Anna got into podcasting. And this great contribution, as with all Listener Edition contributions, is absolutely an inspiration and cherished treat for us. As we navigate through this craziest of years, with your support, we are confident that a return to Popspotting lies ahead!

The Newsroom

Popspotting Listener Edition: Heath & Matt

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The Newsroom

Today, two good friends join forces to bring you yet another episode of “Popspotting Listener Edition.” Listen in as Heath Solo (@HeathActor) of “The Film List” and musician Matt Murdick (@musicalconcepts) of the “Musical Concepts Podcast” discuss Aaron Sorkin’s new HBO series “The Newsroom” and the BBC reboot of “Sherlock Holmes.”

i-saw-brave

Popspotting Listener Edition: Maggie & Jennifer

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We kick off the month of July with a new “Listener Edition,” this one from Maggie (@ilea02) and Jennifer (@jennielf). They discuss both “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter,” and the latest Disney/Pixar film, “Brave.” When not taking in vampire-archery double features, Maggie can be heard on “Girls Night In” radio and “The West Wing Podcast.”
nightglider1

Popspotting Listener Edition: Pete & Laurie

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Pete & Laurie

Pete in Rockford, Illinois is a long-time contributing member of our podcasting family, and this week he steps forward along with his wife Laurie to contribute a special Popspotting Listener Edition. Today they chime in with their take on board games (Carcassonne, Settlers of Catan, and Ticket to Ride), a book series, and a summer blockbuster movie.

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