USAToday.com Published Features on Pop Candy
All the Below Posts were published in USAToday.com Pop Candy Blog Feature.
Today’s Pop Five: Kate C.’s top heroic scoundrels
These are some of the men who were mostly good, but a little bad. Or maybe they were mostly bad, but good enough. It was sometimes conflicting to cheer for them — but you did it anyway!
Pop Five Heroic Scoundrels:
1. Star Wars, Han Solo. “I love you!” “I know.” Han Solo looks out for one guy: himself. Well, OK, he’ll help you out, but Chewbacca and he are certainly going to act all tough about it before they do. Women love him and men want to be him. The perfect heroic scoundrel.
2. Pirates of the Caribbean, Capt. Jack Sparrow. Did you want him on your side? You bet. Did you want to take him home to family dinner? Probably not. Awful teeth paired with a great sense of style earned this pirate respect from the gents and blushes from the ladies. Capt. Jack had enemies whose numbers rivaled the stars in the sky, yet he was near impossible to dislike. Selfish, dirty, untrustworthy and charismatic made him awfully wonderful.
3. Torchwood, Capt. Jack Harkness. When he gave those first 12 children to the destructive alien race, he thought he was saving mankind. A few for the many. He certainly died a little inside, but he delivered the innocent to something worse than death. The second Capt. Jack on this list can be as cold as he can be hot while saving the earth, and he saves the human race on an almost daily basis. Harkness hates himself more than anyone else ever could, and it makes you love him more.
4. Dirty Harry, Harry Callahan. Sometimes a man has to take justice into his own hands. Harry Callahan was the epitome of that creed. He was taking out guys you wanted to see punished, but he wasn’t exactly abiding by the law to do it. Excessive force was his cup of tea. He showed us that the proper way to truly stop a robbery: Drive through the store front, shoot the robbers first, ask questions later.
5. Sweeney Todd, Sweeney Todd (The 1973, 1979 and 2007 versions). Though I considered giving this spot to Royal Tenenbaum, it really belonged to the Demon Barber of Fleet Street. He was a delusional, psychopathic serial killer. Yet your heart strings always tugged and felt for him: He was crazy over the loss of his love and their daughter. And who didn’t want to see the Judge get his comeuppance? Todd was sent to a penal colony for 15 years on false charges just so the judge could rape Todd’s wife. His revenge puts the Demon Barber on the fine line of heroic scoundrels.
Today’s Pop Five: Kate C.’s top office spaces
There’s no better way to get into what you do for a living then to enjoy your workspace. Since so few of us have a workspace we actually like looking at let alone spending most of our waking hours in, I was inspired to create the Pop Five TV Show Workspaces:
1. IT Crowd — IT Department office. Every time I watch that show it’s like a Where’s Waldo of wonderful geek stuff. Their IT basement offers desks coated in Space Invaders, multiple videogame systems, a plethora of comic and pop culture toys and posters, and Noel Fielding in a bizarre, rarely entered side closet. It’s the perfect working environment!
2. The Simpsons— Mr. Burns’ office. From the giant stuffed polar bear to the trap doors, the multiple TVs in the wall … Mr. Burns’ office is one of undeniable evil, but it sure seems like fun. Also, it comes with Smithers and you can’t beat that kind of devotion in a lackey.
3. Glee — Sue Sylvester’s office. Intimidating? Yes. Are you good enough for it? Probably not. Loaded with supplements, trophies (the Victory Case) and a treadmill, Sylvester’s office is the perfect combo of intense and winning. Also there’s a mouse pad, but no computer on her desk. What else would you expect from the Chuck Norris of gym teachers?
4. 30 Rock – Liz Lemon’s office. A mixture of toys and pathetic stereotypical woman stuff (we all know Liz used the hand weight on her desk maybe twice) Liz Lemon’s office is often where hilarity ensues. The perfect place for her to have breakdowns and Jack to belittle her. And who isn’t obsessed with that framed picture of a messy plate of food?
5. The Cosby Show – Dr. Huxtable’s basement office. It was rarely seen, but super gorgeous. Cozy, neat objects you wanted to touch, but knew you weren’t allowed to, and lots of pictures of his family members … who were right upstairs. Obviously making a good living for being able to afford such a sweet brownstone, Dr. H didn’t seem to be at work too often. The only thing he coveted more then his private workspace was his hot sweater collection.
Today’s Pop Five: Kate C.’s top animation/puppet voice actors
Pop 5 Animation/Puppet Voice Actors:
5. Patrick Warburton — Whether you’ve come to love him as Brock on The Venture Brothers or as the Caboose in The Little Engine That Could, Warburton’s voice is a screen gem. Heard most recently and regularly as Joe Swanson on Family Guy, Warburton has also performed the voice of Buzz Lightyear in the television series Buzz Lightyear of Star Command, the animated film The Emperor’s New Groove, and Bee Movie, among many others. He’s got a great tough-guy, yet nonthreatening way about his speech. Of course, upon hearing his voice in anything I immediately remark, “That’s Puddy!”
4. Tress MacNielle — What would The Simpsons be without their Crazy Cat Lady? Animaniacs without Dot Warner? MacNielle even lent her voice to Chip and Gadget of the Rescue Rangers! Pinky and the Brain, Princess Mononoke, The Smurfs, Tiny Toon Adventures – MacNielle has performed for all. She’s done dozens upon dozens of voices on Futurama (an instant win in my book) as well as voices for Disney and Nickelodeon television shows, video games and movies. And I’m barely scratching the surface of her voice-over career.
3. Mel Blanc — He was Bugs Bunny. He was Foghorn Leghorn. He was Pepe Le Pew, Porky Pig, Sylvester, Tweety, and even Yosemite Sam. Mel Blanc’s voice was that of a lot of well-known characters, but most importantly he was essential to any happy Saturday morning I had as a child.
2. Phil LaMarr — If you’re unsure of who Phil LaMarr is, I recommend you check out his time as Cowboy Curtis in Pee-wee Herman‘s HBO special. As far as his voice work goes, his resume is quite extensive. I first fell in love with his voice abilities from watching Samurai Jack, but it was the 56 (!) characters and counting he has voiced on Futurama that really sold me on his vocal talent. He’s been on many of my favorite shows including Harvey Birdman, Invader Zim and Star Wars: The Clone Wars, to name just a few. At a mere 44 years old, I can only hope his career will be a long and creative one.
1. Frank Oz — Easily the greatest voice in the business to me. Sure, he was Miss Piggy, but he was also Aughra and Chamberlain of The Dark Crystal. Perhaps most importantly he is Yoda. And that’s not to mention being the voice – and soul – of Bert, Cookie Monster, Grover, Fozzie, and, my personal favorite, Sam the Eagle. Sure, there are others, but there’s just not the space available here. I adore the sound of Oz’s voice, though I’m fairly certain I’ve never heard his real one.
Today’s Pop Five: Kate C.’s bad product placement songs
Pop Five Product Placement Songs That the Products Want Nothing to Do With:
1. Shout stain remover and Shout by Tears for Fears — The lyrics just don’t conjure images of Moms getting grass stains out, at least not the way Shout would want their ads to do so: “They gave you life, and in return you gave them hell. As cold as ice, I hope we live to tell the tale, I hope we live to tell the tale.”
2. Maybelline cosmetics and Maybelline by Chuck Berry — Exactly what the cosmetic creator wants to be associated with: a loose woman who’s been cheating on her man again, is skipping out on the relationship and trying to leave town. “Maybelline, why can’t you be true? Oh, Maybelline, why can’t you be true? You done started back doing the things you used to do.”
3. Cadillac automotive and Brand New Cadillac by The Clash — It’s not exactly derogatory to Cadillac, but it doesn’t really send the best message either. Good song, though. “I said, ‘Jesus Christ, where’d you get that Cadillac?’ She said, ‘Balls to you Daddy.’ She ain’t never coming back.”
4. Vaseline and Vaseline by Stone Temple Pilots — “Punch drunk and without bail. Think I’d be safer alone. Flies in the Vaseline we are …” The Flaming Lips did a song called Vaseline that’s far cuter then STP’s tune about a slightly crazy, but adorable girl and Ice Cube did a song called Out of Vaseline (something I’m sure Vaseline really doesn’t want to be associated with).
5. Orange Crush soda and Orange Crush by R.E.M. — It was hard to choose between this and the Manic Street Preachers‘ Ocean Spray, but at least the Ocean Spray in the MSP song is meant to be a drink. I know as I child I always thought of this when having a refreshing Orange Crush on a hot day: “High on the booze in a tent, paved with blood, nine-inch howl. Brave the night. Chopper comin’ in, you hope.”
Today’s Pop Five: Kate C.’s bad TV babysitters
My husband is a social worker. It’s from his work that I was inspired to write this list:
Pop Five TV Coaches/Babysitters Who Probably Shouldn’t Have Been Allowed Near Children:
1. Charles (Charles In Charge) — Why was he in charge of a household of kids, the oldest of which was just a couple years younger then he? He was supposed to be 19! And what employer would allow their nanny to have a friend over as often as Buddy was there? In reality, Charles and Jamie Powell would have … well, I mean, really.
2. Coach John McGuirk (Home Movies) — This character was responsible for such quotes as “Life sucks, Brendon. That’s your lesson. Go enjoy it.” and “… there’s nothing wrong with lying to women. Or the government. Or parents. Or God.” McGuirk would have been the perfect date for Mrs. Krabappel.
3. Tony Micelli (Who’s the Boss?) — More of a child then a caretaker, Tony rarely seemed to have things under control and never seemed too bright. His daughter Samantha had to constantly remind him how to behave. And besides, who could have possibly concentrated with Angela coming on to everything with a pulse?
4. Joey (Full House) — Yes, that was his post in the Tanner household, to take care of the kiddies. He wasn’t related to anybody, just friends with Uncle Jesse and really quite the child himself.
5. Fran Fine (The Nanny) — A character primarily made out of stereotypes and hair so big it put Peggy Bundy to shame, Fran Fine struggled to keep her own life together let alone caring for children. Almost every episode revolved around her getting caught in a lie and using sex appeal to weasel out of punishment. When summed up like that, you wonder how the series lasted six seasons.
Today’s Pop Five: Kate C.’s top Totally Screwed Up Sidekicks
They weren’t helpful as much as they were just totally sick and twisted. Sometimes you just wonder why some people hung out with them in the first place.
Pop Five Completely Screwed-Up and Bizarre Sidekicks:
5. Duela Dent/Harlequin — Always freaking out — whether laughing or crying — Harlequin’s life was as messed up and convoluted as she was. Was she really the Joker’s daughter? Or the Riddler’s daughter? Was she a member of the Teen Titans or the Titans East? Was there anyone she wouldn’t betray? She didn’t even seem to know herself.
4. Edie Sedgwick — Muse my a–. Warhol needed her for one thing and one thing only: self-destruction.
3. Sir Guy of Gisbourne : The Sheriff of Nottingham’s right hand man, Gisbourne was bloodthirsty, demeaned by his boss, and deprived of love. On top of all that, he had a terrible first name, which I imagine only added to the chip on his shoulder.
2. Tim Tom and Kevin — As if midgets dressed up like moppets weren’t enough, these boys have an unhealthy obsession with knives and Dr. Mrs. The Monarch. “I like huggin’ you in your new costume, mum.”
1. Walter Sobchak : I spent half this movie expecting Walter to spin around and kill The Dude — or anybody — just because he could. You could never date Walter; God forbid it didn’t end well, I don’t want to think of the ways he would most certainly take his vengeance.
Today’s Pop Five: Kate C.’s top normal, lovable sidekicks
The key word here is “normal.” Granted the fact that these characters are sidekicks immediately makes them better then the rest of us who are neither main characters nor sidekicks, but they are essential and ordinary. And, yes Waylon Smithers is totally extraordinary, so he’s not on the list.
Pop Five Completely Normal and Essential Sidekicks:
5. Pokey (Gumby) — Pokey showed Gumby support and gave him advice. He was dubious of situations and asked questions, counteracting Gumby’s naïveté. He was the best clay donkey a green dude could ask for.
4. Wallace (Scott Pilgrim) — Wallace got it from the beginning. He knew what had to be done and spurred Scott to do it, though cheering on a warrior is always easier then doing the fighting himself. Wallace gave it to Scott straight and babied him rarely, playing well the fine line of cold, hard honesty and sympathy.
3. Linus van Pelt (Charlie Brown) — Often the conscience and sense of Charlie’s world, Linus, though always connected to his own blanket, frequently showed more courage and thought then his balding neighborhood comrade. Similar to the friendship shared by Gumby and Pokey, Linus is the patient philosopher of the group and, while he doesn’t have his sister’s insane emotions, he does carry his heart on his sleeve.
2. Cameron (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off) Perhaps no sidekick served his friend better then Cameron. In a single day he supported, taught and learned from Ferris Bueller, as well as doing a little growing himself. Tall, handsome, goofy and single Cameron was perfect in every way.
1. Paul Pfeiffer (The Wonder Years) — He didn’t get the girl, he didn’t make the team and he was never, ever picked first. Except, of course, by Kevin Arnold, who found Paul’s presence to be indispensable. And unless you count his incredible allergies to just about everything on earth, Paul had absolutely no superpowers. He was great just the way he was.