Friday, September 09, 2011

Pop Culture Roundup

I recently read Walter Brueggemann's Journey to the Common Good for my book study group. Brueggemann explores Old Testament concepts of neighborliness and community, first by examining God's order vs. Pharaoh's order in the Exodus, followed by the covenant at Sinai to live together as God's people, and finally exploring the prophets' calling the nations back to such concepts after straying from them. Brueggemann alludes to modern views of such things, offering some further contrasts between God's intentions for community and those of today's cultures. It was a pretty good read, though I admit that I skimmed some parts.

I often wonder why I'm still watching True Blood. I couldn't give you a real answer if you asked. We started watching at the beginning, and quickly deemed the acting bad and the stories campy. The acting has improved and I've come to find a certain charm in the camp, but holy crap is Sookie (the main character and heroine around which the show and the books--the Sookie Stackhouse series--are based and for whom we're supposed to be rooting) annoying. Maybe it's the writing, maybe it's Anna Paquin, maybe it's both. But this past Sunday's episode during which the vampires come to a seemingly final showdown with the witches they've been battling all season summed it up so well for me: when the vamps realize that she's being held hostage after trying to take matters into her own hands, several of them in exasperation say exactly what I've been thinking for nearly four seasons: "F*cking Sookie." The saving grace of the show for me is nearly every other character, including Bill and Tara whose characters have undergone positive turns from my perspective. They're about to close out for the year this Sunday, and like an Alzheimer's patient I'll be tuning in again next summer for some reason.

Entourage comes to an end--as in The End--this Sunday. The guys have come a long way, yet haven't: there was never any serious long-term storyline where any friendships among them were strained, Ari was fired for maybe half a season, and things never looked too bleak for Vince's career despite a major film bombing and his dealing with a cocaine addiction. The show always kept things from getting too serious for too long; people looking for some authentic look into Hollywood lifestyles were bound to be disappointed, save perhaps for the ups and downs of Drama's career. Otherwise, the show always shot for light and fun even in darker moments. To its credit, I think that it was fairly up front about that very early on, so many of those who thought it should be something else probably lost interest a long time ago. I obviously stuck with it even as I was heavily critical of it, because it was fun for what it was.

Brant Hansen has a new job, and a new blog. It features the same humor mixed with critique of Christian culture that he's always exhibited, so I just keep on reading.

The other week I heard Obadiah Parker for the first time. He does an acoustic version of Outkast's "Hey Ya," which is what I heard first. I've since downloaded the entire self-titled album on which that is found, which is incredibly good: a mix of jamband, funk, blues, and folk. Here it is if you've never heard it:

And if that isn't your thing, I've also been listening a lot to This Fire by Killswitch Engage. It's CM Punk's old theme, but it's also a good way to get motivated before a busy/tough day:

And finally, here's the Twilight series summed up in 4 seconds: