Category: Pop Culture

WKRP Nessman reporting Thanksgiving stunt

Pull the turkey TV dinner out of the oven. Throw some butter on those peas. It’s time again for your annual tryptophan coma. And another annual tradition.

Here at we like our Thanksgiving with turkeys. Not just one turkey. Several turkeys. Flying overhead even. Yes, it is time again for your annual viewing of one of the two best Thanksgiving episodes of TV ever. Finish this phrase: “As God is my witness, I thought…” You don’t know how it ends? Then watch and enjoy our traditional viewing of the greatest Thanksgiving episode of TV ever:

And in between your seconds and thirds on mashed potatoes, corn casserole, bean casserole, pea casserole–and don’t forget the gravy–then check out other Thanksgiving blasts from the past here. And don’t forget the cranberries.

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Staff


By J. Torrey McClain

I have an outsized morbid curiosity.  I am in the midst of reading “Devil in the White City” about the 1893 World’s Fair and the serial killer that lurked just outside its gates.  I definitely enjoyed reading Bill James’s foray into something not related to baseball, “Popular Crime.”  I’ve included several books by criminal profiler John Douglas in my reading list over the last fifteen years.  I wrote about “Green River Killer: A True Detective Story” for  So, those personal facts may color my opinion, but I’m going to go ahead and say that if you’re looking for a true crime podcast, you can’t do any better than the season that “You Must Remember This” devotes to Charles Manson and the murders he and his family committed in the summer of 1969.* (

*However, if you’re looking for runner-ups, I suggest the first season of “Serial” from the producers of “This American Life,” and the ongoing “Criminal” that is part of the Radiotopia podcast network.  I’m sure you’ve already read WAY too much on “Serial,” but I may have to add my own “Hey Listen To This!” post on “Criminal” and several of the other members of Radiotopia.

Host Karina Longworth knows how to tell a story, gives the listener a bunch of great facts and lets you know when she ventures into the realm of speculation and rumor.  Each podcast episode comes with its own blog post that notes the sources Karina uses to edify and explain the years Manson spent living free outside of prison.  She connects Manson to various other figures in Hollywood like Dennis Wilson and Doris Day.  (I must say the Wilson part really intrigued me and got me to add his digital double album, “Pacific Ocean Blue & Bambu” to my music wish list.)  She takes her time telling the story, so the series runs for twelve episodes and each episode is at least a half an hour.  It’s not a rush job, it’s not a sample of one evening in the life, it’s a darn comprehensive look at a specific time and place centered around one of the most sensational and senseless crimes of the century.**

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by J. Torrey McClain

If you read, there’s a great chance you love pop culture in all of its forms. I would bet that most of you really love movies like I do. If you do, I have just the thing for you – Matt Gourley’s podcast “I Was There Too.”

Some of you may know Gourley from his appearance in Volkswagen commercials before VW imploded from within based on emission shenanigans. Others might know him from Superego, a fantastic comedy improv collective that has had episodes like this one devoted to H.R. Giger (voiced by Gourley) animated on YouTube. Others may know him from his other podcasts James Bonding and Pistol Shrimps Radio, his frequent guest appearances on the “Comedy Bang Bang” and “Spontaneanation” podcasts and more still from his hilarious collaboration with Andy Daly on the “Andy Daly Podcast Pilot Project.” For those more visually inclined, you may have seen him on “Drunk History,” “Comedy Bang Bang” the television show, or heard his voice as he details the actions of his cat Margaux in the adventures of Margaux the fat guy.

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NASA space station photo

While we have all been busy here on Earth, the international assemblage of astronauts on the International Space Station have been moving on with their scheduled work week far up and away in Earth’s orbit.  The Expedition 45 crew has been busy this month with biomedical science, Cygnus mission preparations, and routine maintenance.

But this crew is not above letting its fanboy flag fly, donning the Jedi Knight look of Obi-Wan Kenobi, complete with lightsabers, for their NASA expedition poster.  What better way to keep the tie between science fiction and science fact?  You often hear about how many astronauts and NASA engineers and crew were influenced by Star Trek, but clearly Star Wars must have had a similar influence.

Expedition 45 includes flight Engineers Kjell Lindgren and Kimiya Yui, who both have been in space for more than 100 days.  Yui has been working on experiment hardware inside Japan’s Kibo lab module.  Lindgren is conducting research on growing food in space for the Veggie botany experiment.  Commander Scott Kelly is prepping for the December arrival of the Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo craft. Continue reading

Sci-Fi Block Doctor Who

Catching up with the fun, genre-tailored grab bags like Loot Crate and Comic Con Box, two new box services beginning soon will mean you will have four major monthly genre-themed services to choose from.  We reviewed past Loot Crate and Wizard World’s Comic Con Box offerings earlier at here.  Our conclusion from a review of a few months of each of those boxes was that these may be for you depending on (1) how much you want to spend, (2) whether you like surprises, and (3) whether you have a broad interest in genre swag.

Friends we know who regularly subscribe to these box services tend to trade or sell items, or have friends of different interests they can give items to as gifts.  You can save money by committing to three months at a time, with Loot Crate this gets you a discount, and with Comic Con Box you can get an extra, exclusive variant comic book.  The biggest draw of box services generally is the exclusive swag.  Comic Con Box includes random gifts like autographed photos.  The two latest boxes, Nerd Block’s Sci-Fi Block and Funko’s Star Wars themed Smuggler’s Bounty also stress the exclusive swag that will be coming to their subscribers.

Smugglers Bounty

So what will you get?  It’s a surprise–You don’t find out until the box arrives.  But, the types of content in the boxes will be similar.  T-shirts, action figures, toys, comics, you name it, it might be included–as long as it can fit in the shipping box.

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Just like I could make the case that The Empire Strikes Back is the best film of the saga, I could make a similar argument for the superiority of John Williams’s stunning score for The Empire Strikes Back.  And no version of that soundtrack surpasses the original 1980 two-disc vinyl set, which hasn’t been available in its original version for literally decades.  Thanks to Sony Classical, the original soundtrack for not only that film is coming back, all six original soundtracks are returning to store shelves in 2016 in CD, digital, and yes, good ol’ vinyl formats.

I still have my vinyl two-disc LP sets for both Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back, and they still play with the clarity and punch as they did in the late 1970s and early 1980s on the same 1950s Magnavox record player I first played them on.  If you’re not into the vinyl scene, no worries, just pick these up in one of the other formats.ESB vinyl 1980 reverse

As to The Empire Strikes Back soundtrack, I go back and forth between Side Two and Side Three as being the best of the set.  Side Two begins with the epic Darth Vader theme in The Imperial March and ends with the menacing Hoth assault in The Battle in the Snow.  With Side Three probably the most exciting of any of John Williams works is The Asteroid Field followed by the sweeping Bespin arrival theme in The City in the Clouds.  Throughout all four discs are cues from the Star Wars main theme, the haunting Yoda theme, and the touching Han and Leia theme.  As with the prior release of the Star Wars soundtrack in a two-vinyl set, the tracks for the original 1980 release of The Empire Strikes Back are not presented sequentially, and masterfully they are instead included in a very cohesive and musical order crafted for each album.  The CD versions of The Empire Strikes Back released and re-released in the 1990s are in sequential order, yet they don’t provide the complete musicality of sound experience as the original vinyls.

SW box set CDs

Sony Classical announced they’ll reissue the six soundtracks January 8, 2016 (or about the time you’ve seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens for the tenth time) in three editions: Star Wars: The Ultimate Vinyl CollectionStar Wars: The Ultimate Soundtrack Edition, and Star Wars: The Ultimate Digital Collection.  Here are the details:

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I love a parade

Royals parade 1 CJ Bunce 110315

Anywhere from 300,000 to 500,000 people attended the downtown parade that took over the streets of Kansas City, Missouri for the better part of a day Tuesday to celebrate the Kansas City Royals World Series Championship after the team’s victory on Sunday over the New York Mets.  Many businesses and most areas schools closed for the day to make for a rare assemblage of a good portion of the metropolitan area’s 2 million residents.

It’s not every day hundreds of thousands of people show up to a party in your backyard.  It’s as unthinkable as being able to attend the World Series two years in a row at your neighborhood ballpark.  From the sky it looked like a flood of bright blue liquid flowing along and filling in gaps along the city streets.  Fans, young and old, all dressed in Royal blue, and cars parked anywhere a free space could be found.  From afar it looked like a Smurf apocalypse overtaking the south half of the city’s downtown neighborhoods.

Royals parade 6 CJ Bunce 110315

The parade began just after noon at the Sprint Center and then moved down Grand Boulevard to Pershing Road at Crown Center.  It then crossed over to Union Station in front of the Liberty Memorial where a few hundred thousand of the blue-clad onlookers stood together with little room to move and no sight from afar of the lush green grass that usually marks the memorial’s front lawn.

The parade was followed by a rally on the south side of Union Station, held by the team, manager, and staff, to thank their fans.

Royals parade 8 CJ Bunce 110315The parade featured bands, confetti cannons, the Budweiser Clydesdales, giant baseball balloons, and the team waving at fans from a procession of trucks.

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Walken Poe The Raven

The Witching Hour of All Hallow’s Eve has just passed.  It is time to pick your poison, so to speak.

It is time to listen to the many readings by celebrities of Edgar Allan Poe’s classic poem, “The Raven.”  The poem actually takes place in December, so there’s no wrong time to listen to the poem again and again.  Thanks to a new audio version uploaded this weekend by Sean Astin, we were prompted to search for other famous voices, and we found many interesting celebrities to choose from, many from long ago.  Oddly, we found no famous actresses voicing the creepy story–if you know of any please add them to the comments above.

So which do you want to hear first?  Why not give an ear to all?  As you listen try thinking of the actor, or of that actor’s many roles, from Samwise Gamgee to Gomez Addams, from Saruman to Dracula or Sherlock Holmes, the Headless Horseman or Johnny Smith, Max Schreck or Lucius Fox, and from Darth Vader to Captain Kirk or the alien known simply as Q…

The Raven

Have a listen to one or all.  Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”


Sean Astin


John Astin


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Kauffman Stadium 14 innings Tuesday October 28 2015 World Series Game 1

As predicted by Bob Gale in his script for Back to the Future II, it was the destiny of the Chicago Cubs to be playing–in fact sweeping–this year’s World Series.  At least in the current alternate timeline we’re all living in, that just didn’t happen.  If the Cubs hadn’t lost to the New York Mets they would have played Game 1 tonight at the home field of the American League champs instead of Wrigley Field because the American League won this year’s All Star Game.  That meant Game 1 was played in Kauffman Stadium, and had the Cubs made it to the Series they would have faced off against the Royals last night in Kansas City.

In that game we got to see the second longest game in World Series history–14 innings, ultimately with the Royals taking the win, 5-4.  The bright lights at the stadium in the wee hours of this Wednesday morning seemed to actually burn into the wet night’s sky.  Fourteen innings and more than five hours of exciting gameplay.  You can’t have a better World Series game than that–well, unless you’re a Cubs fan.

Bunce World Series 2015 dugout

We did our part, yours truly and writer Elizabeth C. Bunce were bound and determined to see the Royals face off against the Cubs, because we’re sci-fi (and Royals) fans, and thanks to our friend Mike we watched Game 1 from dugout seats last night.  Watching Lorenzo Cain steal second base when you’re sitting at first base… just can’t be beat. (And, hey, that stolen base means Taco Bell must give away free A.M. Crunchwraps on November 5, 2015, because they sort of lost a marketing bet in their Steal a Base, Steal a Breakfast campaign–see here for details).

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Plenty of videos have arrived at YouTube for Back to the Future Week, including many on Back to the Future Day itself.  If you missed any, here is your chance to catch up.

First up, here is a Toyota Mirai commercial featuring Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd:

Marty McFly and Doc Brown return to 2015 courtesy of The Jimmy Kimmel Show:

Universal Pictures produced a fun trailer for Jaws 19:

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