My 10 Favorite Moments from The Simpsons in Honor of the FXX Marathon

Categories: Pop Rocks

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One of the greatest shows in TV history is going on a marathon.
Next month fledgling network FXX, which purchased the rights to all 25 seasons of The Simpsons, will air the longest marathon in TV history when it shows nearly two weeks of episodes of one of the greatest sitcoms ever 24 hours per day culminating in the release of all episodes of the cartoon comedy online. All 552 episodes plus the movie will air in a row, unabated. For any fan of The Simpsons, it is enough to make you want to guzzle orange soda and down burritos like the Comic Book Guy in what we can only imagine will be the BEST. MARATHON. EVER!

I began watching the show before it was a show, when it was just a skit on the Tracey Ullman Show. At the time, it was mildly creepy and surreal. By the time it hit the air, I was hooked. I still have the body of a bass guitar I bought years ago with Bart Simpson riding a skateboard on it, painted by a good friend of mine.

The smartest thing the show ever did, however, was shift the focus from Bart to Homer right around season three. It opened the show up for adults and helped keep it interesting. It doesn't hurt that both the amazing writers and brilliant voice over celebrities have some of the best comedic timing in the business.

In honor of the marathon, here are ten of my favorite moments...whittled down from about 200.

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Pop Rocks: The Only Thing Worse Than Bachelor/Bachelorette TV Is America's Obsession With It

Categories: Pop Rocks

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Will she find it?
Standing in line at H-E-B the other day, I remarked to my wife that I had no idea who any of the people featured on the covers of various gossip magazines were. Now, granted, I'm a dude who doesn't pay that much attention to celebrity news, but still, I have enough knowledge of Hollywood to recognize Angelina Jolie or Matthew McConaughey. So when I glanced across the conveyer belt at US Weekly and the other assortment of register magazines, I had to ask my wife who the hell these people were. "That's the Bachelorette," she responded.

Every damn cover was some woman who decided to try and find love on a reality TV show with the exception of People, which had some shirtless, six-packed dude from True Blood. Amazingly, him I knew.

Now, before I dissect this phenomenon, it should be noted that I do not blame the magazines or websites that feature these pseudo-celebs. They are simply doing the job we Americans want. If there is anyone to blame, it's us. Like most publications, they are simply reporting on what their readership demands.

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Pop Rocks: Alternatives During the Most Boring Time of the Year

Categories: Pop Rocks

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ScarJo in Lucy might be one of your only decent movie options over the next two months.
Beginning July 5, we enter the worst part of the year if you want to be entertained. From the first week of the year's seventh month through approximately Labor Day in early September, prepare yourself for boredom. Sure, this is the traditional time of year that most people go on vacation or spend time with family and friends, but what about on those regular days when you have nothing going on? What about a random Wednesday? What the hell are we supposed to do?

Because, let's face it, when it comes to the world of entertainment, we are all out of luck.

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Pop Rocks: Five Reasons America's Got Talent and The Voice Are Better than American Idol

Categories: Pop Rocks

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Juan Carlos teaching Nick Cannon a move or two.
I hate American Idol. I want to get that right out of the way up front to be clear that I don't have some obsession or even passing general interest in talent competitions that air on TV. Over the years, I've never really cared for any of them for numerous reasons, the most significant of which is that they are rarely about who has the most talent but rather about who can win a popularity contest. Meritocracies, for the most part, these are not.

But, Sunday night, I flipped on America's Got Talent to watch Houston's favorite rollerblade dancer take his turn in front of the camera and the judges. After about 40 minutes, Juan Carlos had rolled his happy self off the stage, but I strangely wanted to keep watching. My wife did as well. Then, during an ad for The Voice showing off shiny new judges Gwen Stefani and Pharrell Williams, I remembered there might actually be two talent shows on TV I kinda like and I began to see similarities between the two.

And make no mistake, there are things I despise about them too like how they run roughshod over auditions, their attempts to constantly pull at heartstrings with practically manufactured stories and way too much face time for the stars. But what AGT and The Voice also manage to do is keep me entertained and I think I've figured out why.

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Pop Rocks: Eight New Summer TV Series to Avoid Like the Plague

Categories: Pop Rocks

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Yes, they are serious.
I watch plenty of TV, but even I have my limits. We all should. Every fall, lots of new shows tank badly. Some die a slow, painful death. Many are kept on longer than they should. But, that's the fall when networks put real work into finding the next big hit because kids are back in school and families are more apt to spend time around the flatscreen watching whatever crappy sitcom or recycled cop drama the networks roll out for them.

During the summer, it's a whole different situation. While a few networks like HBO actually try to debut new shows that have merit, most opt for running whatever leftovers that they thought might be good enough for the fall, but probably not. The end result is a lot of really unfortunate programming.

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Pop Rocks: Why Am I Keeping Up With the Kardashians?

Categories: Pop Rocks

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On Saturday morning, waiting for breakfast to be prepared inside a lovely beach house on South Padre Island, my friend Rudy and I sat in front of the TV, partly killing time, partly relaxing on a long weekend away from home. In a scene not dissimilar from Tommy Boy when Tommy and Richard finally settled on a radio station playing what they considered a lame Carpenters song only to be singing along minutes later, the TV landed on E! and a marathon of Keeping Up With the Kardashians.

The very show I had made fun of numerous times. The same show my wife said she would be watching when the Kanye/Kim wedding (if it ever makes it on TV like her last disaster of a marriage did) made its appearance while I laughed about her interest in the nuptials she followed from a distance via the Daily Mail app on her phone -- she actually gasped audibly when she learned Jay-Z and Beyoncé had not attended.

It never ceases to amaze me how otherwise intelligent, normal, rational human beings could be sucked in by this trite, superficial nonsense, yet here I was 50 yards from a pristine stretch of Texas beachfront rapt by Bruce Jenner's admission to Kris Kardashian that he would prefer to live in a different house from her even though he wanted to remain married.

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Pop Rocks: Short Shorts and Skirts Cause Problems, Apparently

Categories: Fashion, Pop Rocks

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If you dare wear short shorts...
In recent weeks, both I and my colleague with one less "F" in his similar name have written about the alleged scourge of sagging pants. Both of us think the concern is not only overblown, but pretty stupid. I never liked dress codes, particularly when they are born out of some ridiculous sense of right and wrong. Hell, this past weekend, my shorts were sagging pretty good, a combination of recent weight loss and work around the house.

But, the insanity continues, this time with a pair of young ladies who violated the silly "finger tips" rule for shorts and skirts. In short (no pun intended), if your finger tips with your arms at your side extend beyond the hem of your skirt or shorts, what you are wearing is not covering enough skin. Before I even read any further in both stories, I immediately wondered what happens to girls with really long arms. Anyway, the stories go something like this.

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Pop Rocks: Denzel Washington Brings Back Television's The Equalizer

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Denzel Washington (left) and Edward Woodward (right) as two versions of The Equalizer.
As someone who grew up watching a lot of television, I have a fairly decent list of underrated and under-appreciated shows that didn't last. But, it isn't just shows of my youth that make the list. More recent series on my list include Chuck, Reaper, Leverage and even Friday Night Lights, which had to claw out five seasons before NBC pulled the plug for good.

When I read about the trailer for the new Denzel Washington film The Equalizer, I immediately wondered if it was a remake of the '80s CBS series of the same name and, of course, that was exactly what I discovered.

Of course, this new version is sure to be different. Instead of a white, gray-haired former MI6 agent who actually takes out an ad in the paper to assist down and out New Yorkers with problems, Washington's version of Robert McCall (same name as the show) is a former military specialist who faked his own death to lead a peaceful life in Boston. He is coaxed out of "retirement" when he witnesses the brutal beating of a young prostitute by the Russian mob. From there, as you might imagine (and considering this Washington teaming up with Antoine Fuqua who also directed him in Training Day), the ass kicking commences.

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Pop Rocks: Dress Codes Are Worse Than Sagging Pants

Categories: Pop Rocks

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Photo by Mike Powell
This was once a fashion trend too.
I went into business for myself years ago for a variety of reasons. But there are two items on my list of things I want out of a job that I have tried to maintain. First, I don't want to be penalized for being fast. If I can get my work done in half the time someone else can, I shouldn't have to sit around in an office all day just to fulfill some ridiculous time requirement. Secondly, I hate dress codes.

Since I was a kid, I thought they were dumb. Why was it necessary for me to wear a collar at school? What distraction exactly was I providing for other students if I sat in a t-shirt. I remember talking with the guidance counselor at my former high school a couple years after I graduated. That previous year, they instituted a hair policy that did not grandfather in guys who already had long hair. So, as an act of rebellion, a large number of them shaved their heads -- it felt like half the senior class was bald. Administrators were shocked -- being bald wasn't against the rules, but it was damn weird -- and my response was, "Well, what did you expect?"

And this is not to say there is a time and a place for everything. It's one thing to wear cutoffs to a formal wedding or show up at a business meeting in a t-shirt that says, "Is that a pistol in your pocket or are you just glad to see me?" But, I've long thought that dress codes were more about enforcing a doctrinal discipline on a particular group of people than appropriateness. Case in point laws regarding sagging pants like this one from Pikesville, Tennessee.

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Growing up Godzilla: How My Childhood Saturday Afternoons Led to This Weekend

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Obviously, not your father's Godzilla. God, I feel old.
Growing up a white kid in the Houston suburbs, I was fascinated with anything and everything that seemed completely different from myself. My heroes growing up included Bruce Lee, Dr. J and KISS, and much of what fueled my interest in these divergent people was Saturday afternoon television. In the '70s and even into the mid- '80s, there were limited numbers of TV stations. Even in a city as large as Houston there were, essentially, six channels: the networks (NBC, CBS, ABC), PBS and a couple random local channels like KRIV (long before Fox) or KHTV 39 (which is now CW39).

I knew the stations by the programming. NBC was home to Diff'rent Strokes, The Facts of Life and Chico and the Man. CBS had All in the Family and The Jeffersons. ABC had Happy Days and The Love Boat. PBC was all about Mister Rogers, Sesame Street and Villa Allegre. And the local stations had reruns of shows in syndication, particularly in the afternoons.

Sure, I watched plenty of primetime and afternoon TV, but it was Saturday when I sunk my teeth into stuff I really thought was interesting.

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