Friday, November 16, 2007

Pop Culture Roundup

I've been reading The First Christmas, which is the latest joint offering from Marcus Borg and J.D. Crossan, similar to last year's The Last Week. This time the pair treat Jesus' birth narratives contained in Matthew 1-2 and Luke 1-2, calling them more "parabolic" than historical. They build a case for the narratives being more concerned with faith claims and presenting these through particular constructions of genealogies, birth announcements, whom they each say is invited to come visit the child, and so on. They juxtapose the announcement of Jesus the Son of God with Caesar the Son of God, and so on. This will be old hat to those familiar with these scholars' work, but still helpful heading into Advent. That's why I picked it up anyway.

We watched The Departed this past week, which we meant to see way back when it was in theaters. It finally showed up on HBO, so we settled in on Saturday evening. Matt Damon, in a rare "heavy" role, plays a guy infiltrating the Boston police department for Jack Nicholson's Irish mob boss. At the same time, however, Leonardo DiCaprio is infiltrating the boss' crew for the P.D. The theme of the movie is exploring why people lie: what they're covering up, what they just don't tell others, and how lies come back to bite you. Not very many people make it to the end, either. The style and the portrayal of this world as something less than clean-cut and operatic is reminiscient of The Sopranos, as one wishes that certain people get more out of this than they do. All that is to say that this was pretty good.

This past week HBO aired a special called Michigan vs. Ohio State: The Rivalry, which detailed the history of The Game. The big critique that I've read from the Michigan side is that once the special hits the mid-90s, we hear a lot more about the Buckeye side of things, which seems pretty true. For instance, we hear about OSU's 2002 championship, but not Michigan's 1997 championship. They go on for a little bit about Cooper and Tressel (mostly to contrast their records against UM), but there's barely a mention of Carr. One of the big focal points, of course, is the Ten Year War, featuring Woody ranting and raving and slobbering all over the sidelines and how he ran up the score in 1968, and then Bo came in to even things out. The special spends a lot of time detailing how this re-invigorated the rivalry after a period when it was almost a given that OSU would win every year. They'd interviewed Bo for this, and I guess it was one of the last interviews he did before he died. But then the special details Woody and Bo's friendship and the respect that they really had for each other. The show worked on two fronts: to show how heated the rivalry is, but also how deep down most have an appreciation for how special this game is. And then during the credits, some of the interviewees tell their favorite OSU/UM jokes. "How do you get an Ohio State grad off your porch? Pay him for the pizza." Ha!

This week I learned that the theme song to House is "Teardrop" by Massive Attack.

Speaking of House, why bring in that hot CIA chick one week only to fire her the next week? That seemed pointless. Okay, that's all I have for that right now.

Around the web, here's a Michigan Youtube video that was made before last year's game. It's still pretty relevant. Go Blue.