Friday, April 30, 2010

Pop My Culture Podcast Ep 06: Mather Zickel!

Now available!

Pop My Culture Podcast Ep 06: Mather Zickel

Cole, Vanessa and the handsome, hilarious Mather Zickel (“Rachel Getting Married,” “Reno 911!”) talk Dungeons & Dragons, Bubo, the Smurfs Movie, anal media, heavenly bunk-beds, Critters 2, 3D, Joe Estevez, Roger Corman, the Janekasaurus, and Mather’s set-lifted wardrobe.

LISTEN on our website


and please rate it and leave a nice comment to help us get featured!


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Pop My Culture Podcast Ep 05: Chris Hardwick!

Now available!

Pop My Culture Podcast Ep 05: Chris Hardwick

Cole, Vanessa and our favorite Nerdist Chris Hardwick (“Web Soup,” “Singled Out”) talk Tron, the iPad, remaking Fletch, the Disney Vault, getting naked for Steven Seagal, Lode Runner, Hufflepuff, foul-mouthed kids, Dave Coulier, the Hollywood Squares, demeaning commercial auditions and a super-extreme version of Apple Care.

LISTEN on our website


and please rate it and leave a nice comment to help us get featured!


Sunday, April 18, 2010

They just don't make 'em like that anymore...

As a life-long cinema enthusiast, there's nothing I like better than discussing (or heatedly arguing about) movies--whether its defending a widely-snubbed film, gushing about a classic, trashing a brainless blockbuster, or bringing attention to an over-looked gem.

Film criticism is a tough occupation--especially one you can actually scratch out a living doing. With Internet bloggers willing to write up reviews for free (in exchange for the screening pass), and lots of moviegoers trusting quick little viral paragraphs or reviews as simple as "It kicks ass!" or "Sucks the big one!," it seems the era of thoughtful, well-written criticism may be heading the way of the VHS tape or the physical on-site video store.

I was disheartened to hear about the cancellation of At The Movies, the weekly half-hour review show, now hosted by A.O. Scott of The New York Times and Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune. They are staying on-board 'til August, then it seems that the long-standing program will leave the airwaves. A real shame--it's been around in different incarnations since the early 1980s, where it started with arguably the most beloved and influential of all film critics--Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert.

Siskel and Ebert, and their iconic balcony (which, instead of ending up in the Smithsonian, was just broken down and tossed into the trash), offered up some incredibly smart, funny and level-headed criticism. They were accessible, strongly opinionated, and fair. I may not have always agreed with them (see some of the links below), but I always respected what they had to say. What really came across was their incredible love for film, and their enthusiasm was contagious. I owe them a HUGE thank you--because of their inspiration, I dabbled in film reviews at an early age, writing a review for the Wherehouse video chain's in-store magazine of The Lost Boys, which was published and earned me a free prize (which ended up being a Pirates of Dark Water kite...I was hoping for an MGM coffee mug or something less kiddy). I was fourteen at the time, and I soon brought my love for movies to The Davis Enterprise, a daily newspaper where I was interning after school. I was eventually put in charge of co-ordinating a bi-weekly Sunday edition page called "Youth Beat," where we profiled outstanding young people in the community. The other big feature on the page were my movie reviews--where for two or so years I had hundreds of by-lines, simply writing about what I loved the most. Although I didn't end up pursuing a job in journalism or film criticism, I always kept that critical eye and unbridled enthusiasm for cinema, which is probably pretty evident from the bulk of my blog posts.

When we lost Siskel in 1999, the show went through a rough period of guest hosts who could never quite fill his chair. Ebert soldiered on, bantering with the likes of critics like Elvis Mitchell, Joel Siegel, Lisa Schwarzbaum, Kenneth Turan, and even crazy Bay Area personality Jan Wahl, who rates films by a number of "hats." Acclaimed directors such as Martin Scorsese, Peter Bogdanovich and Kevin Smith also filled in. Eventually, Richard Roeper of The Chicago Sun-Times became the go-to guy, and Ebert & Roeper was born. A few years later, Ebert was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, and had to leave the show. Roeper continued the guest critic rotation, then announced he was leaving the show in 2008 after a contractual dispute. They foolishly revamped the show, trying to draw in a younger audience with new hosts Ben Lyons and Ben Mankiewicz. They introduced an awkward Critics Roundtable segment, and seemed to try to switch things up weekly. Lyons seemed to always like everything, drawing the ire of a lot of long-time viewers who resisted the changes. Thankfully, that experiment drew to a close, and Scott and Phillips took over.

With At The Movies heading off the air, one can only hope that the website,, stays active, as they have archived thousands of video reviews. I spent hours last night watching tons of old Siskel and Ebert clips, enthralled by their child-like enthusiasm for all things cinema. I can't embed the reviews, but here are links to some reviews I particularly enjoyed. Watch a few, reminisce, and go to their website and pull up a few of your favorites. Until then...the balcony is closed.

(Two thumbs up...and Siskel's pronunciation of "Frank Darabont" is adorable)

(A mixed review....Ebert has it out for the dumb LAPD!)

(Raves for Holly Hunter!)

(Two thumbs down...for one of my favorite comedies!)

(My all time favorite movie...and nice words for young Max Pomeranc!)

(High praise for Tarantino's originality!)

(Lots of disdain for the ridiculous premise!)

(Cameron's directors cut...and praise for Laser Discs!)

(Ebert loves the weird supporting characters...and adores "Wally" Shawn!)

(Product placement be damned!)

(Boy...why must submarines be so ugly?)

(Praise all around for Kevin Kline and co!)

(A nice review for Eastwood's underrated gem, with some great thoughts on "what is violence")

(A diamond in the body-switching rough!)

Oh, and twitter friends--follow Roger Ebert! (@ebertchicago), and At the Movies (@atthemoviestv)!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Now available! RiffTrax Presents POLTERGEIST with Janet Varney and ME!


Click here to check it out!

pol·ter·geist [ pølter geíst ] (plural pol·ter·geists) [Mid-19th century <>


1) noisy spirit: a supposed supernatural spirit that reveals its presence by creating disturbances, e.g. by knocking over objects

2) 1982 Tobe Hooper-directed/Steven Spielberg-produced supernatural tale in which the Freeling Family deals with some seriously messed up/crappily-rendered spirits that ghost-nap their young daughter Carol Anne, who communicates with them through a television set (unlike text messaging, which is all the rage with the kids nowadays). A pre-Coach Craig T. Nelson and a pre-, um, Poltergeist JoBeth Williams star alongside Beatrice “I got an Oscar for a 5-min and 40 second performance” Straight, a creepy bedside clown, a ravenous tree, buckets and buckets of Star Wars product placement, and everyone’s favorite lil’ clairvoyant, Zelda Rubinstein. Running towards the light to provide RiffTrax commentary are Janet Varney and Cole Stratton, who previously underwhelmed you with their RiffTrax Presents of Dirty Dancing, Ghost and Footloose. We promise it will be more entertaining than The Bounty Hunter (since everything is). Which dictionary did this definition come out of, anyway? Am I right, people?

Please DOWNLOAD the newly available track and leave some comments here or on the RiffTrax message board! Hope you enjoy it!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Maggots, Michael! You're eating maggots!

I've never been much of a fan of horror movies, but as a teenager I had a serious obsession with the Joel Schumacher vampire flick The Lost Boys. It was one of those beautiful mash-ups of a movie--combining dark humor, schlocky effects, eye-catching cinematography, a hip young cast, and a killer soundtrack (Echo and the Bunnymen covering The Doors, two INXS tracks, Roger Daltrey, Mummy Calls, Lou Gramm, and Tim Cappello, best remembered shirtless, with long greasy hair, wearing a snake and wailin' on a saxophone).

One track in particular really set the mood for the piece, playing over the opening titles, which streamed over a helicopter shot of the moon-soaked ocean, eventually settling on the Santa Carla (aka Santa Cruz) Boardwalk and Kiefer's motley crew of vamps. That song was Gerard McMann's Cry Little Sister (Theme From The Lost Boys).

Here, as a tribute to Michael, Star, David, Lucy, the Frog Brothers, Thorn the Helldog, cranky ol' grandpa, and Sam (RIP, Corey!) is my all-vocal cover of the track. Press play--and try not to have a death by stereo!


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Pop My Culture Podcast Ep 04: Bobby Campo!

Now available!

Pop My Culture Podcast Ep 04: Bobby Campo

Cole, Vanessa, and the dream captain of Vanessa’s heart Bobby Campo (“Final Destination,” “Legally Blondes,” Vanessa’s Fantasies…) talk comics, horror movies, Teen Witch, more Teen Witch, Sookie’s Sexuality, Snow Caps, cougars, Lollapalooza, humiliating blue cat mascot outfits, Risk, and much more…and they did it all while trying to talk through the incredibly thick sexual tension that filled the room.

LISTEN on the official podcast website

If you like what you hear, PLEASE rate it and comment on it on iTunes and help us get featured!