Sunday, July 29

Stewing In My Own Pop Culture Juices

For the past few days, I have felt like someone flying standby on a flight that keeps getting delayed. I keep waiting for my name to be called -- or, to be more precise, since gate agents don't call out names any more, I keep looking up at the monitor to see if SIM/D has been added to the standby list. I don't know what time the flight will depart, or if I will be aboard when it does.

This whole airport scenario is just one big metaphor; the actual practicalities and details of my life are much less interesting and are hardly proportionate to the level of angst they have stirred up.

Anyway, with so many variables out of my control, I have turned to pop culture for relief and a few laughs. This weekend, Britt and I saw "The Simpsons Movie" on Friday night, returned to the theater Saturday afternoon to see "Hairspray" for the second time -- we saw it last Friday, opening night, and we haven't been able to get the songs out of our head since then. Today, we made our way back to the AMC WestShore 14 for a second helping of "The Simpsons Movie."

At my curmudgeonly old age of 35, a film has to deliver extraordinary to reel me back to the theater for second viewing. The last film I saw in the theater twice was, I believe, "Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace." The first time I saw Phantom Menace, I rushed to the theater giddy with anticipation. The second time, I forced myself to return, as I couldn't believe that the film I had just seen was really as dreadfully bad as I thought it was.

In addition to double-helpings of "Hairspray" and "The Simpsons Movie," I have been occupying myself with "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows." Britt and I finally tore into two of the three Netflix envelopes that were collecting dust on the coffee table: "Pan's Labyrinth" and "The Bourne Supremacy." And we also saw "High School Musical," a rather predictable yet harmless Disney film that has become canon for anyone under the age of 16. One of the "High School Musical" stars has a secondary role in "Hairspray," so I figured I would borrow the DVD from someone at work.

I have always loved pop culture because it gives us a wealth of stories, characters and histories through which people can relate to each other.

Now, I am finding that pop culture can be a powerful diversion. When you're waiting for your name to show up on a standby list, and you don't know if you're going to get home that night -- and when there's nothing you can do to change the situation -- you can worry. Or you can reach for your book or your iPod.

So here's to pop culture -- hip, hip, hurray!

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