Category Archives: pop culture
It’s no secret we’re big fans of Scotland’s single greatest non-alcoholic export, so to start your weekend off right, here’s a list of 34 words we love to say like Sean Connery. You can picture young and studly Sean Connery, or old and grandpa-ish Sean Connery if you like, the subtle nuance changes between young and old add a nice flavor. However, I prefer to think of the smily grandpa Connery. This list is by no means comprehensive, but it is a good start. So pour yourself a glass of Scotland’s other greatest export and say them along with us.
- Creamed Corn
- Biz Markie
- Susan G. Komen
- Street Tacos
- Space X
- Intestinal Buffer
- Slim Shady
- Sig Sauer
- Justin Timberlake’s Myspace
- Sea Shanty
- Spicy Burrito
- Sexual Healing
- Gluteus Maximus
From the entire team here at Simpson/Hemstead, have a safe and silly weekend, and rememeber:
It’s a question I get a lot. I’m guessing it is because I have a relatively generic, not-unappealing face. Add to this that I’ve also had weight fluctuations in excess of 70 pounds, so my looks have been somewhat… flexible over the years. I tend to blend in to crowds easily. I’ve sometimes compared it to the quality that is described to Matt Damon in Ocean’s 11, “You have to be likable and instantly forgettable.”
I concede that this isn’t the best quality when one is running for high office, which might account for our 10 year campaign for political relevance that still only yields 50-80 hits a day.* But this quality does offer up a pretty great bounty when presented with the question, “Do you know who you look like?” I’m often quite surprised at some of the epiphanies folk’ll reach in this regard. Folk’ll have their opinions, and who am I to argue what pings a person? Basically each time I get a new person, I’m given more ammunition to believe I’m possibly the most generic person on the planet. The proverbial everyman, at least in terms of appearance. I might very well be Darkman.
This all comes back to the surface because someone who reads the blog came across the article about resembling Harvey Keitel and took umbrage at the thought. They actually wanted to debate me as to who I looked like, and felt I was out of my mind. I wasn’t sure the end game in this debate of personal perception, but I happily unpacked a number of people I’ve been compared to, both flattering and boggling. I figured it would validate my position of having no position in the matter. But sadly the opposite happened. By the end of this parade of characters my argumentative friend wished to debate all the options.
So I figured, what the hell. So I sat down with the ScienceWerks and had them make a quick graphic of some folk I’ve been compared to since I was sixteen. Keep in mind, I’m neither bragging nor lamenting any of these, nor am I taking ownership of any comparison. Each comparison was made in earnest, supported with descriptions, often fevered over fear of having insulted me, of features that sparked the resemblance. None of the comparisons were made based on clothing or costume to the best of my knowledge, and dealt exclusively with my physical appearance at some point in my life. It’s not comprehensive, but shows a pretty decent range.
What ScienceWerks concluded was that I match the basic phenotype for white male with dark hair. Possibly bearded, with an outside chance of a beak or a nose that might light Santa’s way.
So there you go. Who did I miss? Or better yet? Who do you look like? Can you beat the range of characters here?
*Vote Simpson/Hemstead realizes that Simpson’s generic look is not the sole reason behind their lack of political success. The reasons behind their fevered mediocrity are many, including but not limited to: lack of a campaign platform, lack of initiative, lack of capitalization on Hemstead’s stroke sympathy, wanton ignorance of important issues, lack of public speaking skills, outright refusal to speak in public, obsession with Muppets, “unsavory snarky attitude”, refusal to pander, awkward social skills, “hygiene”, occasional unexplained flatulence, overuse of the phrase “hug it out” in official speeches, obsession with the phrase “hopes and dreams”, infrequency of website update, honest garbage sold in online store, referring to opponents as “dirty hippies”, lack of funds to effectively compete in a plutocracy, inability to spell plutacra- plutocris- plootacr- plutocracy without looking it up online.
I have enjoyed a great privilege of driving past a number of iconic buildings from film and TV on my commute to work in the morning, including Nakatomi Plaza from Die Hard and the ICS television station that The Running Man takes place at.
However, there is a different building that catches my eye that never had. I was aware of it, but until I was watching a TV show on NETFLIX recently I’d never given it a second glance.
Taking a daily tour through pop culture is probably one of my favorite parts of living in Los Angeles. And now I hear Ron Howard’s voice every time I drive to work, so that’s a bonus.
Following a freak accident during a military test involving gamma radiation, mild-mannered ruler of the people Kim Jong-un was radioactively fused with visiting dignitary and celebrity Grumpy Cat into a foul-tempered, unamused tyrant of ennui: Grumpy Kim.
Fortunately for the world, other visiting dignitaries Chris Hardwick and North Korean’s favorite basketball player Dennis Rodman were thrown clear of the radioactive cloud due to the selfless act of Wil Wheaton.
Fortunately Mr. Hardwick has managed to work the deal to his benefit, signing the affront to God’s glory as a single entity for a 50% savings to Nerdist Industries.
“We’re very excited about this merger,” Mr. Hardwick was quoted as saying outside Decontamination Center 3 in the capitol city of Pyongyang, “fusing the plucky drunken energy of Harto & Co. with the industry smarts and old-school nerdery of Gordie Lachance from Stand By Me is a perfect match. I see this as the greatest melding of male and female energies since Edwina Cutwater took over the right side of attorney Roger Cobb’s body following a botched Hindu soul transfer.”
MrMiss. Wilhart was unavailable for comment, but a visit to Nerdist industry’s website has updated their splash page to read, “Coming in April: My Drunk Tabletop featuring Felicia Day, Gordon Ramsay, Morgan Freeman, and your host, the abominable Hanton Wilhart.
Grumpy Kim was quoted as being not impressed.
You might think we’ve been campaigning while we’ve been away from the website; and we would agree that it would have been a good idea. However, we have been standing outside a Robeks Juice in Culver City for the last month staring at this brain teaser they have posted on the door.
Where the f@#k is the seal?! We see a cow. We see a rolling pasture. We see a sun. Hell, we even see photons beaming off the sun. But no f@#king seal. Seriously, is he a ninja Waldo or something? One month! One month we’ve been here. I need a goddamned shower. Hemstead forgot how to poo.
Screw this ninja seal, I’m going to Chik Fil-A where there’s no goddamned brain teasers and you can just eat in peace.
Wait, WHAT happened at Chik Fil-A? Why the f@#k were they fighting Muppets? Why does ANYONE care if gays have the right to marry? Does it mean everyone has to get gay married? Is Kurt Russell up for grabs still? No? Then why does this affect anyone? Okay, clearly we’re gonna have to do a reality check blog about this one here.
We leave for a little while and the country starts imploding. But at least the B.S. war on women thing from earlier this year is over.
Representative Anakin said what? Who the hell is that? Jesus he looks like the crypt keeper!
Okay, clearly both sides of every argument have been running around lynching folk in a social media free-for-all the last couple months. We’re sorry. We’re back. We’re going to help you make sense of all this.
There is no side that wins a war by stooping to the tactics they lament in their opponent. Sit on that one for a while, look at what you’ve been doing -BOTH SIDES I’M TALKING TO HERE- and we’ll talk to each of you in term.
Let me get a shower in, and let Hemstead change his pants.
Goddamned ninja seal…
It’s no secret that Simpson/Hemstead are fans of wine. We’ve cultivated this love for a collective two decades and Hemstead himself actually does work from time to time at wineries during the harvest.
We are also nerds. Not asshole douchebag hipster nerds who think owning an iPad makes them Nerdy. No, owning an iPad makes you trendy. Jailbreaking an iPad to write a custom app that allows you to remotely monitor the processor temperature and efficiency of your Linux machine at home that is compiling your DVD collection by Name, Director, Writer, Cinematographer, Editor and stars (with a special asterisked column for whether it has either Clint Howard, Art La Fleur, or Michael Biehn in it) makes you a nerd.
It’s with this in mind that we were excited to hear about THIS:
This is an internationally renowned comic book about WINE. All aspects of wine. Making, drinking, enjoying. Sure this sounds about as exciting as a comic book about chess, we admit; however reviews point to the contrary. The asian wine industry has skyrocketed due to this comic.
Simpson/Hemstead will be picking up their copies, and enjoying them with at least one good bottle of the drops of God while we read.
Also, if Clint Howard, Art La Fleur or Michael Biehn would like to come over for a glass or two, just let me know, we’ll order another copy. You guys are always welcome at the Simpson/Hemstead compound.
I was going to post something about the death of the large format film camera, and something about Quaddafi, but then I saw this and my brain needs a little bit of time to reboot.
My nerd region is so happy, but my good taste lobe is in exquisite, tortuous pain.
I need to sit down.
A Brief History Lesson
Well folks it’s true, Simpson/Hemstead has found its way into Pottermore! For those of you who don’t know, Pottermore is the online experience from J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books. If you who don’t know what a Harry Potter is, you probably have just arrived here from the 19th century by way of a time/space anomaly. And we do commend you for being clever enough to not only learn how to use a computer, but possibly teach yourself english and find your way to this website. Welcome to the future!
But before you go along thinking “Harry Potter” is slang for a woman’s doo-dad, let me explain what the phenomenon of Harry Potter is so you can understand what’s coming next:
Harry Potter is a series of books about three awkward 12 year old kids who go to a really exclusive private school for wizards called Hogwarts that many believe to be located in Scotland. These kids are consistently NOT ONLY left unsupervised, but often times put into harm’s way INTENTIONALLY by the staff of the school, with predictably tragic results. Also it would appear that one of the pre-requisites for graduation is the murder of at least one of your classmates or instructors in a “winner takes all” pass or fail final exam against the school’s biggest bully. Not just YOUR class’s biggest bully, but the biggest effing bully the school has ever seen, who kinda hates you and your whole family for trying to kill him.
These wildly successful books about wizardry, witchcraft, and really spotty supervision begat wildly successful films about wizardry, witchcraft, really spotty supervision. The films themselves created an almost epidemic level of “when will he/she be 18 so I can stop being confused by my thoughts” throughout 20/30 somethings, but that’s another post.
And so now the highly successful book series about consistently endangered magically-inclined youths that spawned a highly successful film series about consistently endangered, magically-inclined youths has spawned Pottermore,* the highly successful web experience that recounts the adventures of consistently endangered, magically-inclined youths; all the while allowing the reader/watcher to become part of the experience.
The general overall experience of it is entertaining, if not a little unintuitive for the beginner. The first book (all that is unlocked at the time of writing), is presented as chapters along the ornate vines on a golden gate. Chapters for all the books are found woven into this gate, and it becomes the launching point for your adventures through the books. The player, or student, relives important details from each of the tomes told through multi-planed digital paintings rife with clickable content and collectable items. These are things you will ultimately need during your tenure at Hogwarts. Things like galleons for purchasing items in Diagon Alley or ingredients for potions, or chocolate frog cards. Each chapter also contains excerpts from the book, as well as some original “behind the scenes” content such as J.K. Rowling’s character sketches, interviews, and occasionally video messages from the blonde creator herself.
Outside of touring the books, the player/student can also learn and make potions for points toward their house (this idea of houses will be discussed later), as well as learn spells to duel other player/students. Although at the time of this writing that function has never worked and has been down for maintenance. It is a beta release after all.
And that, in a rather large nutshell is the basic idea behind Pottermore, so now let’s get into the cool stuff.
Where Things Start Getting Interesting:
Part of the experience of Harry’s first day at Hogwarts, and chapter seven in Pottermore, is the sorting hat. In the books, the sorting hat judges the character of a young wizard on their first day at Hogwarts School of the Possibly Criminally Insane and Infinitely Powerful, and puts them into one of four houses; Gryffindor (the brave), Ravenclaw (the nerdy/smart), or Slytherin (the cunning/devious), and Hufflepuff (the emotional core). These are somewhat like fraternities or sororities, or fraterorities since they’re mixed company. I think it’s in place to help introduce the Future Sociopaths of Great Britain with a friendly way to compete, hate, and be afraid of one another while being taught God-like powers*citation needed. Picture Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, but where Captain Picard holds gladiator games with the students on Thursday nights.
In Pottermore, the experience of the sorting hat is a series of questions written by J.K. Rowling herself, run through an algorithm that I believe assigns a point value to each answer, and subsequent questions are asked based upon the values tallied in different categories (but I am just guessing, I have no idea.) Simpson/Hemstead ran through this process and it’s pretty well done, leaving very little room to attempt to fix the results (we didn’t try, we wanted to see where we fit into Rowling’s universe honestly), and asking some fun and thought provoking personality questions to boot.
The interesting thing that has come out of this is that there are many people, male and female, mostly around high school/college age, who are going through severe identity crisis over their house placement by J.K. Rowling. At first I thought it was kinda funny, the way that people who started support groups after Avatar came out to help them get through the idea that they can’t actually go to Pandora are funny. But then I started talking with people, people who have lived with Harry Potter since 1998 and grew up into adulthood with Harry Potter as their contemporary. I came to the realization that in many cases the first culturally significant role-model of their lives who is still AS relevant 15 years later. I don’t have something from my childhood to compare that to.
I had Star Wars. It was groundbreaking. It created a new mythology and new characters that fueled imagination like nothing in it’s decade. But I didn’t grow up with Luke Skywalker as a contemporary. He was older than me. He lived a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. I had no means of travel to get to where he was, no TARDIS, Time Machine, or Transwarp spaceship to be found.
My generation could only WISH. Also, we only had 3 movies, spread over 7 years to contend with. Well, that and a shit-ton of marketing, toys, a weird Christmas special, a bitchin’ Muppet Show episode, and some non-canonical books.
We had no internet. We had no books that became movies. We didn’t have interactive gaming, and easy to access fan fiction. It was just those three movies, our toys and our imaginations; and for most of us probably countless futile hours straining to roll a Matchbox car or turn the page of a book with gnarled, white-knuckled fingers tensed against our outstretched arms.
In stark contrast, the Harry Potter universe is set in a world that could very easily be our own, and indeed happening as we speak. Any muggle-born child with an aptitude for magic could find themselves standing on platform 9 and 3/4 at King’s Cross Station sometime around 10:45 in the morning waiting for a very special train.
Beyond that, the Potter generation has had, since 1997 the following: 7 books, 8 movies, 10 videogames, internet forums, fan fiction, tumblr, fan art, facebook groups, myspace groups, fan films, toys, clothing, and now an interactive immersive web experience. This is a generation that has grown up, part and parcel with Harry Potter as a constant participant in their lives, as an external entity constantly rife with fresh input in some manner rather than the imagination of childhood playtime. Although I imagine every kid who saw an owl in the woods, barn or even a zoo hoped and prayed it would fly right to them carrying a letter in his talons…
To illustrate the bombardment, here is a list of release dates for the Harry Potter franchise in the US (the first two books released a year earlier in the UK)
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone 1 September 1998
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets on 2 June 1999.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 8 September 1999.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire on 8 July 2000
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 21 June 2003.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince 16 July 2005,
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 21 July 2007.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone 14 November 2001.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, 15 November 2002.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, 4 June 2004.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, 18 November 2005.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. July 2007
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, 15 July 2009.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 19 November 2010
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 15 July 2011
That is an astounding assault of input! Look at those numbers: from 1998 to 2011, that’s 14 years, there have only been 3 years WITHOUT a new Harry Potter intellectual property released from the creator of that universe. 11 out of 14 years! For many in the Potter generation, that’s 50% of their lives, the same as kindergarten through middle school.
Harry Potter is a friend. Dumbledore a mentor, Hagrid a weird uncle that you only see on holidays and who always is the most fun to be around, and Tom Riddle is that kid in class that scares the shit out of you who seems to hate you for some reason. You’ve imagined yourself having a feathered messenger drop out of the sky with an acceptance letter. You’ve fantasized about standing before the Sorting Hat and being placed in Gryffindor (the brave), Ravenclaw (the nerdy/smart), or Slytherin (the cunning/devious). Just please God not Hufflepuff (the emotional core). You knew where your loyalties lay, and you knew, without a doubt, where the hat would place you.
Where It Goes Wrong?
In Pottermore, you get closer to that dream of your childhood. You got a digital letter delivered by a painted owl. You went to King’s Crossing Station. You stood on platform 9 and 3/4. You walked through the shops in Diagon Alley. Your wand chose you. And then, you answered the questions J.K. wrote herself. You were sorted…
…into a different house.
How could this be? The creator of the world that has been a part of your life since early childhood told you that you were someone different in her world than you had always imagined. Maybe you always felt like the hero and were sorted into Slytherin, or maybe you always thought you were the brain and you were sorted into the dreaded Hufflepuff. It didn’t make sense. Was it a feeling of confusion? Betrayal? Gassy rage?
Where did the feeling come from?
I’ve been asking a number of people this question, both from the Potter generation and from the Skywalker generation to get opinions. I tried asking the baby boomers but they’re too concerned with making sure Social Security doesn’t collapse they had no time for it, and the Great Generation just says, “are you f@cking kidding me?” From both the Potter and the Skywalker generations, these are the most likely culprits:
- The feeling that you are not who you wished you were.
- A feeling of having been somehow dressed down by a person who has helped shape your life.
- A disassociation of brotherhood/sisterhood from the characters for whom you have felt a strong kinship.
- The feeling that this thing that you have put so much love and energy and money and attention into, that you know like you know your own voice, doesn’t love you and know you back the same way.
What are your thoughts? I’m really very interested to hear your experiences, good and bad with the sorting hat. The phenomenon is unlike anything we have ever as a culture been presented with, and Simpson/Hemstead is very interested to understand it from the point of view of those who have gone through the process.
Please comment below, please forward to others, and leave your house assignment and screen name as well if you’d like.
Oh, and for those who are curious, we are Simpson/Hemstead. We are Slytherin.* And we are called GoldVine100.
*Yes, that’s the house we thought we’d get in.
When I first joined Facebook I was all like this:
But now, after repost after repost after repost of the same bullcrap and an almost uncountable number of status updates that equate to something and inane and pointless as, “tacos for lunch” or “today sucks”, I’m kinda finding myself feeling more and more like this: