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Friday, June 29, 2007
And the most awesome avatar is ...

Avatarcat... the cat in the hat on the couch!

Congratulations to psu-grrly, winner of our weeklong reader avatar contest. I hope you had fun voting, discussing and dissecting other Candy readers' icons -- TheLibrarian came in at a very close second with 49.4% of the vote, so let's give her some cyber-applause, too.

If your avatar didn't make it into the finals, there's always the possibility of a second competition. For now, though, I suggest you raise your mouse in honor of this extraordinary cat. He deserves it!

Update: I just spoke with Jackie S. in Chicago, aka psu-grrly. She was excited when she found out about her win: "I screamed, I'll be honest ... my boyfriend laughed at me," she said. "I'm very honored. I'm glad that everyone voted for me." I'll share more of our conversation on Monday.

The Candy mailbag: Answering your questions

Holy moly, I've had a maddening day. Between the avatar contest (voting is soooo close!) and Comic-Con planning and a sudden rush of e-mails and phone calls, I haven't had time for your questions. Let's try to blaze through some right now:

We have really long winters where I live, so we have frequent game nights with our friends. We love Cranium, Trivial Pursuit, Balderdash and Scene It, but are getting a little tired of them. Are there any board games you like and could suggest for a bunch of bored adults? -- Jill S.

That's funny, because I just packed up the new Transformers version of Risk to take to my parents' house this weekend. (Target is selling it.) I'm pretty predictable with Scrabble and Uno, but I'm sure readers can suggest a few alternates ...

I am seeing Lucinda Williams in concert in July, and I am super-excited. I have never seen her live and was wondering if anyone out there has. Also, in general, are there any websites out there that give concert reviews? Thanks. -- Janet W.

I've seen Lucinda a couple times -- I think once might've been at Farm Aid -- and she puts on a great show. Several sites give concert reviews: You could try places like Billboard, Blender for generic pieces, though if you're specifically looking for Lucinda, here's a review of a show she performed last week in Salt Lake City.

On June 8 we saw Morrissey at the Bowl. Incredible show. ... SO here’s the (possibly indelicate) question: Back in my Philadelphia Smiths/Morrissey days, the crowd would have been 95% Caucasian. At the Bowl, the crowd was much more than 50% Latino. That’s very cool, but it was a surprise.

Of course, L.A. has a strong Latino presence, so there’s the simple demographic angle. But this was a cultural thing. The most enthusiastic, singing-along people around us were all Latino. I’ve been to a lot of shows for a wide variety of bands and I’ve never been surprised by the breakdown of the audience. I’m wondering how a whole generation of Angelenos became such Moz maniacs. Any thoughts? -- Peter

You're not the first person to ask this question. Morrissey does have a large -- and still growing -- Latino fanbase. One article that may give you further insight ("1,400 Mexican Moz Fans Can't Be (Totally) Wrong") can be found in Chuck Klosterman's latest book, Chuck Klosterman IV: A Decade of Curious People and Dangerous Ideas. You can also find it in Da Capo Music Writing 2003, edited by Matt Groening.

A documentary has also been made about the phenomenon. This story about Is It Really So Strange? provides a little info about Moz's Latino fanbase, and The Believer has also addressed the subject. The reasons why have been the source of debate. Says one fan:

"I feel like it has to do with alienation. I think there's some parallels between the Latino community in the U.S. and the experience of being Irish in England, of belonging and not belonging. There's a current in his writing that touches on that."

Are you getting an iPhone today? Or ever? -- Cassandra

I'm not, but my husband plans to get one eventually. In fact, we're going to the mall after work, and he says he wants to go to the Apple store just to "touch one." I'm seriously hoping his casual touch doesn't lead to, you know, a more committed relationship. I say he should wait until the price goes down!

OK, L.A. and New York have had their fun. Where's the D.C. Pop Candy get-together? There are plenty of great spots! (Pharmacy Bar, perhaps?) -- Sean L.

Trust me, it'll happen. I've just been traveling a lot and haven't had time to coordinate anything. But I know there's a demand, and that's half the battle ...

I have missed out on the last couple of hotlines. Any chance you're planning another one sometime soon in July? Say it IS so. -- Damian B.

Oh yeah, I plan to do them monthly, as long as you guys keep calling. No worries!

Read more...
This proves we'll watch anything online

When you were a kid, you may have wondered what it would be like to count to one million. Heck, you might have even tried it, though you probably gave up somewhere in the two- or three-digit range.

Jeremy Harper might be the first person to actually accomplish this feat ... on video, at least. Harper, 31, took the challenge to a) raise some money for charity; b) prove he could do it; and c) see how long it takes if he doesn't leave the house and counts out loud for 16 hours per day. ("My voice died late last night," he wrote in his blog. "I think a little sleep helped it, and I'll get on with it.")

You can watch Jeremy count at MillionCount.com. Last I checked, he was on 145,648. Thanks to Gerald M. for the tip.

The week in Pop: My favorite things

Before I kick off this week's list, I'd like to remind you that I'm still adding photos to the Face Your Pockets post from earlier in the week. Thanks to everyone who contributed. Also, don't forget this week's podcast, which featured more calls to the hotline and some pretty stellar music. Turbo Fruits = love.

OK, here are my picks o' the week. Share your own in the comments:

Best TV show I saw: Rescue Me. This is one of maybe three good series on the air right now, and this week we got one heck of a shock.
I also enjoyed: Last Comic Standing, which I've probably knocked before, but I think it may be my new summer guilty pleasure. Also, Top Chef delivered a solid episode, even though I think we all knew who should pack his/her knives. And I'm newly addicted to South of Nowhere, which The N reruns at, like, 1 a.m.

RyanaBest CD I heard: You know what? I really like Ryan Adams' Easy Tiger. So that's my answer.
I'm also listening to: Pop reader ahomeforannie made my day by sending me Beck's cover of Nick Drake's Pink Moon. I'm also digging Battles -- I listened to their stuff the other day and was very productive in my cube. And next week I play several bands I like in a summer-music podcast, so stay tuned for that.

As for my biggest musical discovery this week, it might've been a one-man band called Throw Me the Statue. This guy is from Seattle, and, good lord, he is good! He sounds sorta like Guided by Voices -- listen to About to Walk on his MySpace page, and you'll hear the similarities. The song Lolita is also really strong ... heck, they're all great. Play 'em at your Fourth of July barbecue, and spread the word.

Best movie I saw: Um, I watched Blue Crush the other day. It's horribly underrated.
I'm also watching: I just got Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? in the mail, along with an early copy of Avenue Montaigne, so that's an interesting double feature. And I still want to see La Vie En Rose, though this weekend is out, since I'll be hangin' at my parents' house in historic Fredericksburg, Va.

Best book I read: I'm reading Douglas Wolk's Reading Comics (Da Capo, $22.95) and loving it. Subtitled How Graphic Novels Work and What They Mean, he does a fine job of writing for comics enthusiasts and those who may be relatively new to the genre. For instance, he has a section where he talks about how much he hates comics culture -- how so many stores are snobbish and scary and frown upon you if you don't know what you want when you walk in. In later chapters, he profiles artists like Chris Ware and Kevin H and Alison Bechdel.
I'm also reading: Way too much, but in my bag is Renee French's Micrographica, the new Interview magazine, Harvey Pekar's Macedonia and two unnamed pop-culture books that I will be writing about next week. Stay tuned.

OK, your turn ...

Gwen walks it out (in fabulous pants)

I'm sorry I've been gone for a little while today, but I swear I haven't been slacking -- it's been a crazy-busy Friday! As for the avatar contest, you wouldn't believe how close the voting has been at some points this morning. Like, within-one-vote close. Unbelievable.

Anyway, Pop reader Thomas H. just sent me a link to this fine video of the great Gwen Verdon busting out some Bob Fosse dance moves. He explains:

"The song Walk it Out (by Unk) is played over the original song ... and it's so damn close that I really believe the people who sent it to me didn't research the fact that they were dancing to a different song (you see the title at the beginning). Its effect is so creepy I personally believe they could release a video for this song with these three ladies." Enjoy.

In the mood for indie film?

The unfortunate thing about independent film festivals is that most of us can't get to them. The Independent Features Film Festival, however, comes to us by screening all of its entries online.

Tomorrow is the last day we can watch and vote on more than 200 indie flicks on the website before one is chosen to have a red-carpet premiere at the real film fest in New York. (That fest runs July 27-29.) The top vote-getter will also receive a distribution deal.

There are tons of films to browse on the site, but perhaps the most talked-about one is The Tehuacan Project, a documentary executive-produced by Brad Pitt and narrated by Adrien Brody about the first school for the deaf in Mexico. The movies are divided by category and include everything from docs to shorts to comedies.

The final round: It's cat vs. librarian!

SquareavatarToday is the final day of our reader avatar contest, and it's going to be a nail-biting race.

In one corner: psu-grrly, represented by a crazy cat in a hat. In the other corner: TheLibrarian, represented by the "She Blinded Me With Library Science" graphic. Who will win? Right now the votes are 50-50, so it's anybody's game. We'll announce a champion at 5 p.m. ET. I can barely contain my excitement.

Early buzz: 'Entourage,' 'Darko' director, cult TV, more

It's Friday! Whew, what a long week. Right now I'm watching the final episode of Studio 60 -- I wasn't really a fan, but I do want to see if all of these characters found happiness before NBC gave 'em the ax.

Some headlines:

- This writer says Entourage is going downhill. I have to agree, though I think Billy Walsh is brilliant.

- We have a big story about the return of Transformers.

- Donnie Darko director Richard Kelly has cast Cameron Diaz in his next flick. (Well, his next flick after Southland Tales ... whenever we might see that.)

- What are the coolest robots in pop culture?

- TV Guide has listed the top cult shows of all time.

- Spin.com has the new video from Juliette Lewis' band, Juliette and the Licks.

- Time.com has posted a very long, sweet article about Roger Ebert.

- Look, it's Veronica Mars and Sylar! That could've made one heck of a spinoff. Here are some more Kristen Bell shots.

- Netflix has cut the price of one of its rental plans.

- TV Squad has posted the Battlestar Galactica panel at Sci Fi's digital press tour. (Here's part two.)

- Veronica Mars' Jason Dohring has landed a new gig on CBS.

- Check out seven pages of Stephen Colbert's new Tek Jansen comic book.

- Yesterday's Spice Girls announcement certainly ranks as one of the most anticlimactic band reunions of all time.

- Michael J. Fox will participate in the extras for the second-season DVD set of Family Ties.

- Stop the presses: Desperate Housewives' Jesse Metcalfe wants to start a music career.

- Jim Carrey has agreed to star in Sober Buddies, a movie that will hopefully turn out better than it sounds.

- And finally, did you hear the one about the Philadelphia couple that agreed to only communicate via printed M&M's for a month?

Thursday, June 28, 2007
Feeding your Starbuck addiction

"Science-fiction fans are awesome -- they love you so much that they'll watch anything you do, even if it's complete crap," Battlestar Galactica's Katee Sackhoff says in this Esquire interview.

Yes, it's pretty safe to say I'd watch Sackhoff in anything, even if she were cast in the next season of According to Jim. (On the contrary, our beloved Starbuck appears in NBC's Bionic Woman remake this fall.) Here's a clip from her role in the riveting 1998 Lifetime movie Fifteen and Pregnant. Kirsten Dunst played the lead.

Still talkin' 'bout Tony

This will probably be the final link I post related to the Sopranos finale -- I think we're all tired of talking about that blackout -- but it's a great one: Bob Harris has posted an intricate theory about the final episode on his blog, and it's quickly becoming a fan favorite.

Just when you thought you'd heard every single angle about the diner scene, Harris opens up a new world of Last Supper and Godfather imagery, complete with screengrabs and helpful links. If you like the way he writes, I suggest you pick up his book, Prisoner of Trebekistan. The former Jeopardy! champ has many fun tales to tell, though his recent tome was a bit overshadowed by the one published by Ken Jennings around the same time.

Hundreds of flicks to rent right now

DarkoThis week the Guardian has been posting a list of 1,000 films to see before you die. The A-to-Z compilation started with 1951's Ace in the Hole and is up to Sideways; the site will reveal the final portion on Friday.

Many of my favorites made the cut (Donnie Darko, The Big Lebowski, Harold & Maude, Rushmore), and it includes a nice blend of classic, contemporary, foreign, familiar and obscure titles. Peruse the list, and there's a good chance you'll find something to watch this weekend. The site also includes daily quizzes. Thanks to Gaea S. for the tip.

Do you have Dramatic Chipmunk fever?

I was away from my computer last week when the "Dramatic Chipmunk" gripped the nation, but I've received several e-mails from folks who have fallen in love with this mesmerizing creature. "I could watch it all day," swoons Pop reader Nathan K.

The five-second video clip, which you can watch here, is taken from a Japanese TV show and showcases an expressive rodent set to Hitchcock-ian music. It has been viewed more than 2 million times on YouTube and CollegeHumor.com. Parodies seem to crop up by the hour: There's the Kill Bill Chipmunk, Dr. Evil Chipmunk, Oscar-winning Chipmunk, Dramatic Cow, the list goes on.

I dare you to just watch it once! There's something hypnotic about that eye ... maybe even sinister.

Another surprise on 'Rescue Me'

I told you this week's episode of Rescue Me was going to have a shocking ending, and now Television Without Pity has an interview with the character involved in the big twist.

RescuePerhaps the only thing more surprising than this week's final five seconds is the revelation that everything wasn't so hunky-dory on the show's set between star Denis Leary and this particular cast member.

A sample quote: "(Leary's) a bully, is what he is. Bullies most of the time don't have the guts to do things themselves." The interview also gets the other side of the story, from executive producer Peter Tolan.

Wow. Now I really can't wait to see how this season plays out. The show airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET on FX, though you can catch repeats throughout the week.

'State' alums speak to the nation

Heads up, fans of Reno 911! and The State: Thomas Lennon and Ben Garant appear in several new shorts for Declare Yourself, Norman Lear's non-profit youth voter campaign. The comedians play "The Man" in the tongue-in-cheek videos, thanking the youth of America for not voting while sporting plaid shirts, pleated shorts and (in Garant's case) a fake bald spot.

Declare Yourself has also enlisted the help of Hayden Panettiere, America Ferrera and other celebs to help spread the importance of voting. (Panettiere turns 18 in August.)

Got time to kill?

Pop reader Stephanie B. told me about this addictive game called "Get the Glass," which is a product of the "Got Milk?" campaign.

"The graphics are amazing, the concept is so fun and I can't wait to see if I can finish it," she says. "I am a receptionist for an ad agency, and all of a sudden the phone is my enemy."

At first I wondered if maybe Stephanie worked for the milk people, so I tried it myself. The site is indeed a fun time-waster, and it has some of the most impressive graphics for an online game I've ever seen. Check it out.

This one will go straight to DVD

This fake trailer for a Gobots movie probably cost somewhere in the two figures, but its special effects could still rival some of Michael Bay's.

I seem to remember my brother owning a few Gobots toys, but were there really people who preferred these over Transformers? If so, why? (For a little trip back in time, here's the intro to their '80s cartoon. The lyrics consist of "The Gobots" repeated over and over again.)

Avatar contest: The final four!

SquareavatarThe cat. The pug. The shoes. The librarian.

It's down to the final four in our avatar contest, and it's up to you to vote for your favorite. Keep checking the page to monitor the results, and we'll close the voting at 5 p.m. ET. Good luck to everyone in the running, and remember: There's no rule against campaigning for yourself.

Early buzz: 'Studio,' 'Guitar Hero,' Coreys and more

Hey, hey! It's Thursday, and I still haven't unpacked my suitcase, answered all the e-mail I received while on vacation or bought a present for this bridal shower I'm attending this weekend. I feel like I need another vacation already.

Anyway, here are some headlines. As for last night's Top Chef, I wouldn't have eaten that crazy-looking meatloaf, either ... and you know I'm a sucker for meatloaf!

- For some bizarre reason, ABC has rescued According to Jim from cancellation.

- Here are details about the DVD release of Studio 60, which will include commentary by Aaron Sorkin. (The last episode airs tonight.)

- Who wins in a game of Guitar Hero: David Cross or Dinosaur Jr.'s J. Mascis?

- Wes Anderson's The Darjeeling Limited will open the New York Film Festival.

- Look, it's the top 10 video moments with Corey Haim and Corey Feldman! Thanks to Mike V. for the tip.

- Tim Olyphant doesn't really have any news to share about those Deadwood movies we were promised.

- Ryan Gosling has snagged a part in Peter Jackson's The Lovely Bones.

- The Spice Girls are supposed to announce a reunion today. (Update: Yeah, they're touring. Lordy.)

- Even astronauts are addicted to Firefly and Serenity.

- Oprah is opening a store in Chicago.

Cure- The Cure has announced a fall tour.

- Cheers to R.E.M. for redesigning their website.

- Usher is going to be a dad.

- The Buffy Musical Big Screen Extravaganza has hit L.A. Thanks to Todd B. for the tip.

- Maxim has compiled a list of the worst commercials ever.

- In this story, AfterElton examines Midnighter, DC Comics' gay superhero.

- Law & Order's Richard Belzer has signed a deal to release two crime novels.

- Morrissey has cancelled some shows because of a throat infection. I hope Monday's concert won't be affected ... I've been looking forward to it for months.

- And finally, here's John Stamos' strange Australian TV interview, in case you haven't seen it.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Yes, 'Star Wars' can rock

Any co-workers who happened to see me in the last five minutes might've guessed I was doing something very serious at my computer. In reality, I was listening to this spectacular cover of the Star Wars theme song and imagining myself dancing like Lobot.

Sometimes such diversions are necessary, especially in large office environments with fluorescent lighting. Thanks to Brad K. for the tip.

Have you animated yourself today?

Meez_2At some point the excitement of creating avatars is going to wear off -- I mean, how much longer will we get a thrill out of selecting eye colors and shoe styles? Until it does, though, we can amuse ourselves with sites like Meez.com, which offers an insane amount of personalized attributes and amusements.

Meez expands on the typical user ID by adding animations, background scenes, hipster clothing and more. Here's mine, which sports a Chicago T-shirt and possesses some striking facial features. (In fact, I think the only things we really have in common are the skin tone and hair color. Can you blame me for getting creative?)

Don't waste your free movie time

Today has been a day of revelations for me: Now, I knew Netflix offered on-demand movies via its "Watch Now" feature, but I'm just now realizing these movies are free if you're a Netflix subscriber.

As Pop reader Andy P. explains it, "However much you pay a month -- I pay $14.99 -- you get that many hours a month of free movie streaming (in my case 15 hours)." Eager to test this out, I just fired up Stop Making Sense on my computer. The video quality is great, the sound is good and I'm a very happy woman. Maybe now I'll actually start making some progress on my queue.

Draw Homer at home

The website for The Simpsons Movie expanded this week: Right now you can create your own Simpsons avatar, play games like "3 Card Moe" and "The Ball of Death" and tour places like the Kwik-E-Mart and Moe's Tavern. It looks like they're going to add more features closer to the film's release date (July 27), so stay tuned.

HandbookSpeaking of Homer & Co., a very cool Simpsons book hit stores a couple weeks ago. The Simpsons Handbook: Secret Tips From the Pros (Harper, $39.95) is an official, well-presented guide from Matt Groening and the gang on how to draw characters from the show.

I can't draw a lick, but I'm pretty confident that I'll be able to create a pretty good Milhouse after going through the step-by-step instructions -- they're pretty easy to follow and full of nerdy tips and facts. Some of the pages fold out, and some include tracing paper and full-color drawings. It goes way beyond basic characters, too: Comic Book Guy, Kodos & Kang, Itchy & Scratchy, Krusty the Clown and Groundskeeper Willie are featured as well. Check it out!

Did someone say free music?

Pick an album, any album: Are you in the mood to hear Art Brut's new CD, It's a Bit Complicated? How about Pink Floyd's The Wall? What if I told you there's a website that lets you listen to tons of discs, new and old, anytime you want?

Soundpedia is the site you need to bookmark, and it's going to be really tough for me not to become completely distracted by it for the rest of the day. I just listened to a little of Frank Black's greatest-hits CD with my mouth agape -- this site even posts lyrics while you're listening to the songs! Classic stuff from Nirvana and other artists is featured too, though, understandably, it doesn't contain every CD in its archive. (You'll only hear 30-second samples from the new White Stripes release, for example.)

Soundpedia also boasts music videos and community features, though its impressive record collection wowed me the most. Thanks to Angelo F. for the tip; he's busy streaming a Wilco CD right now.

What's in your pocket?

PocketPop reader Heather M. told me about the Face Your Pockets Project, a cool website that asks people to empty the pockets of their pants or bags, place them on a scanner and then stick their faces on the scanner, too. The results are fascinating: We see everything from gum to guns, some more artfully arranged than others. The project began in Russia, so it's interesting to compare our pockets with those overseas.

I decided to add my own picture to the mix, so click the image to see what's in my bag. If you're inspired to take a pocket photo, feel free to e-mail me a lo-res version to share.

Update: Below is a photo from Pop reader Blake S., who is peeking from above:

Candyblake_2 

And here's one from Nick T. in Seattle. "I felt funny putting my face on the scanner," he says. "Lucky I have one on my desk!"

Candynicholas
This photo is from Pop reader Gretchen. "Apparently I have a lip-gloss addiction!" she says.
Candygretchen

And here's one from Dana U. in New Hampshire. "Scanning yourself is harder than I thought," she writes. "No wonder people prefer copiers when they have a, ahem, body part to scan."

Candydana

Pop reader Emily W. says her bag contains "all things a theater house manager needs in a day: keys, phone, lip gloss, gum and cash (for that dreaded snack bar!)."

Candyemily

Stephanie S. says it took her five tries to get this photo just right. "As soon as I would lay my head down on the scanner, someone would come in the office, look at me and turn right around and leave without saying anything. Oh, well."

Candystephanie
Camp out in your living room

This week cult-movie fans may find themselves in DVD heaven, thanks to four new collections from Warner Home Video. Four volumes of Cult Camp Classics spotlight a dozen campy flicks, including Attack of the 50 Ft. Woman, Zero Hour!, Queen of Outer Space and Hot Rods to Hell.

These films include lesser-known appearances by starlets like Zsa Zsa Gabor and Lana Turner, wonderfully cheesy special effects and commentary by critics, actors and filmmakers.

Each volume contains three films and sells for about $25. You can watch clips from a bunch of the films on YouTube, including 50 Ft. Woman, The Giant Behemoth and Hot Rods.

'Clark and Michael': Watch it, love it, repeat

You guys are just as addicted to Clark and Michael as I am, right? Right? I'm just making sure -- this morning I was watching the new episode and mid-guffaw when my husband came in and said he'd never heard of the online series before. This is when I realized that perhaps I haven't been giving it the mad love it deserves.

In case you haven't seen the show yet, Clark and Michael is the brilliant creation of Arrested Development's Michael Cera and his pal Clark Duke. Each episode follows their fictional adventures around town and includes fun celebrity guest appearances -- Patton Oswalt surfaces in the new ep, which also includes a nice Kenny Loggins shout-out and a hilarious trip to a mini-golf course.

CBS.com is responsible for hosting this series, which is pretty shocking, considering how much it contrasts with the shows on their network. Anyway, watch it. You'll laugh, especially if you like Arrested Development, Judd Apatow movies, deadpan comedy and the like.

Our avatar contest: Vote now in round three

SquareavatarWe had a good competition yesterday, but several reader avatars fell: apronk's beloved puppet lost to Alana in VA's gnome, while ChrisV's Teen Wolf icon defeated Dennis S.'s bizarro Superman. What will happen today? Vote now in the third round.

Voting ends at 5 p.m. ET, and it looks like we have some close races. Tune in at 6 ET to start casting your votes for the final four.

Early buzz: Indy video, Weezer, Joss and more

Hello! I hope you're all feeling bright and cheerful this morning -- last night I went out to dinner (there's this place called Bourbon that makes the best meatloaf ever) and then I spent the rest of the evening sifting through an enormous stack of new CDs and unpacking my suitcase. I discovered a few really great bands, so stay tuned for those in next week's podcast.

Anyway, some headlines:

- Steven Spielberg has posted some video from the first day of shooting the new Indiana Jones film.

- If you missed last weekend's Glastonbury festival -- and I think almost all of you did -- go to this page to watch performances from The Stooges, The Hold Steady, Lily Allen, Bjork, The Who and many others.

- In case you were wondering, HRG and the cheerleader aren't having a passionate love affair. Duh.

- Here is the Jem Cohen-directed video for Patti Smith's cover of Smells Like Teen Spirit.

- British band The Verve is back.

- The Squirrel Nut Zippers are back, too.

- And did I mention Weezer is also back?

- Yahoo! has premiered the new Ryan Adams video for Halloweenhead, which features footage from a vintage Scandinavian disco instructional video. Here's another new video for Adams' Off Broadway.

- Wanna have dinner with Joss Whedon? Bid now!

- Madonna and Shakira make a cute couple.

- It turns out the guy who's first in line to buy an iPhone is a professional line-stander and has been first for many other things. I guess everyone's gotta have a hobby.

- This history of movie concessions is kind of fascinating.

- The Onion A.V. Club has posted an interview with Paul McCartney.

- Police have no motive for why wrestler Chris Benoit killed his wife and 7-year-old son before killing himself last weekend.

- Rosie O'Donnell controversy of the day: Some folks didn't like this photo she posted on her blog.

- Maxim compares the new Transformers toys with the old ones.

- CNN's Nancy Grace is pregnant and married, if you care.

- La vie en rose star Marion Cotillard has won a Hollywood Breakthrough Actress of the Year Award. I'm really eager to see this movie ...

- And finally, what do you do when you can't decide what to name your baby? Give her 25 of them! Thanks to Janae M. for the tip.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Chunk, meet Jack

Here's a funny trailer that was bound to pop up sooner or later. Says Pop reader Katie M.: "I've slept through the first two Pirates movies and haven't seen the third, but throw in my Goonies, and that's a can't-miss movie for me!"

This also might be a good time to link to one of my all-time favorite pieces from Salon.com, "Stalking Chunk."

Cool stuff on DVD this week

I'm not sure how much I can help with your rental queues this week, but I'll do my best. Here's what's in stores today:

- Black Snake Moan. Director Craig Brewer returns with a flick that involves putting Christina Ricci in skimpy clothes and chains. Hey, who hasn't thought of that before? Also, Samuel L. Jackson sings the blues.

- Dead Silence. Killer ventriloquist dolls! Donnie Wahlberg! Hey, it can't be worse than that first-season episode of Buffy ...

- Wedding Wars. This is the TV movie where John Stamos plays a gay man and Eric Dane is his brother. Do with this information what you wish.

- Darwin's Nightmare. This documentary about the fishing industry in Tanzania is supposed to be unsettling, but worth watching.

- Psych: The Complete First Season. I've completely missed this psychic detective show and I know a lot of you like it, so now is my chance to catch up.

- Elvis Costello: Live -- A Case For Song. Elvis performs the hits during this London show with The Attractions and The Brodsky Quartet.

- La Jetee/Sans Soleil. Chris Marker's works get a spiffy Criterion release. I haven't seen Sans Soleil, but La Jetee is very cool and a must-see for sci-fi fans.

- Shooter. Mark Wahlberg stars in this thriller as a marksman recruited to prevent an assassination attempt.

- Louis C.K.: Shameless. Miss Lucky Louis? Watch the comedian's stand-up performance in this HBO special.

- Peaceful Warrior. This drama stars Nick Nolte and Amy Smart and follows the true-life story of gymnast Dan Millman, who is forever changed by an injury.

- Four Last Songs. Stanley Tucci, Jena Malone and Rhys Ifans star in this indie about a pianist who tries to arrange a tribute concert.

- Pride. Terrence Howard and Bernie Mac star in this film about Philadelphia's first black swim team.

- Twisted Sister: The Video Years. Is an explanation really necessary?

Also out: Reno 911: The Complete Fourth Season, Miami Vice: Season Five, Monk: Season Five, Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon.

A chunk of free 'Buffy'

Ooh, I was just perusing this 26-page preview of the new Buffy the Vampire Slayer Omnibus that Dark Horse is publishing in July. The book is a mish-mash of Buffy comics that have been previously published, so you may have seen a lot of it before.

Still, it will be fun to have all of these comics together ... and who's gonna complain about more Buffy on their bookshelves? Thanks to James for the tip.

Online radio goes silent

If you listen to a lot of Internet radio, you may notice many stations aren't broadcasting today. That's because they're observing a "Day of Silence" to protest royalty rate increases that would cripple the online radio industry. The increase is due to be implemented July 15.

Participants in today's protest include WOXY, Pandora, Yahoo! Launch, KCRW, Live365 and several other stations. If you want to speak against these measures, head to SaveNetRadio.org or this link to find out how. I don't know about you, but I can't imagine my life without Internet radio! We should do all we can to keep it alive.

No more Pearl? Nooooo!

If you liked The Landlord on FunnyOrDie.com, wait until you see the latest Will Ferrell video where young Pearl plays a tough cop. (Warning: There's some saucy language here, so you may want to employ headphones.)

The sad news about the clip, however, is that it's billed as Pearl's farewell performance. "My ventures as an actor on the Internet have been rewarding and spiritually fulfilling, but now I must look to broader challenges as I approach my 26th month," Pearl is quoted as saying in this funny press release. "I shall always reflect upon these days with much fondness, and also, I have no idea what I just said, and I want banana-nana and the upside down show."

Thanks to Pop reader snaths4430 for the tip.

Podcast: Hotline calls, Buffalo Tom and more

Are you ready to hear more calls to the Pop Candy Hotline?

FamousIn this week's podcast, you'll eavesdrop on Sean, the guy who gave me a pie at my New York meetup; Samurai Jack, a regular caller who admires my keen memory; Clayton, a reviewer for Bookslut who offers summer-reading recommendations; and other folks who waited way too long on hold.

I'm also quite proud of this week's musical selections, which should melt your Tuesday blues:

- You may remember Buffalo Tom from an appearance they made on My So-Called Life many years ago. After a long break, they're back on the scene with Three Easy Pieces, and I play a catchy tune from it.

- I wrote about Bishop Allen last year when they released a new EP every month. On July 24 the band will release a full-length record, The Broken String, and I let you hear a track. They never fail to make me dance.

- Finally, as I told several people at the meetup, my new favorite band is a raw, rockin' outfit outta Nashville called Turbo Fruits. (It features members of Be Your Own Pet.) If you like your summer entertainment a little dirty and on the punk-rock side of things, you'll love 'em. Look for their self-titled album in July.

OK! The details:

- Download the podcast via iTunes

- Stream it as a Windows Media file

See the archive at candypodcast.usatoday.com, and check out my RSS feed for more options. Thank you for listening!

The avatar contest: Round two!

SquareavatarYesterday we kicked off the long-awaited Pop Candy avatar competition, and what a heated round it was: cmjj957's win proved that dogs are cooler than babies, while JustRuby's victory showed us that  more Candy readers love The Princess Bride than Arrested Development.

We also had a bit of a scandal yesterday when it was discovered that one finalist is actually a USA TODAY employee! After some deliberation, we decided to eliminate him from the competition. Congratulations, hexqueen5 -- you're automatically in the next round. As for EdG, he's cleaning out his desk as I write this. (Just kidding.)

Vote today for the second batch of finalists, and at about 5 p.m. ET we'll close the polls. Good luck to everyone.