Pop Culture & The Meaning of Life

The 5 Year Engagement

English: Emily Blunt at the Toronto Internatio...

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Not only did Kevin Haggerty have some fun interviewing me recently; he also opened my eyes to an upcoming film with a unique marketing plan. The 5 Year Engagement is using transmedia, a new form of storytelling that is changing the way we absorb stories and consume culture.

Okay, full disclosure: The movie stars a certain actress named Emily Blunt who I may or may not have mentioned a couple times*. But I’m not here to blather and blush and blubber and gush. There’s plenty of time to do that later**.

The fictional couple in The 5 Year Engagement (co-starring Jason Segel) even has a wedding blog that is building towards the big event. Some of this stuff is really clever.

I’ve been wondering how this approach impacts marketing and how writers can use this kind of creativity in the 21st century. It just happens that my friend Ellie–whose superskills include cooking and being awesome–has been delving into the world of transmedia like no one I know. I asked her for some thoughts on this emerging area.


Ellie’s thoughts:
I had lots of misconceptions about transmedia when I first learned heard about it (it’s much more than putting a wig, makeup, and heels on your book). Transmedia is not to be confused with multimedia or cross media, it’s not simply combining media. It’s creating an experience. Henry Jenkins, MIT media studies professor says, “coordinated use of storytelling across platforms can make the characters more compelling,” and Stephen Dinehart says, ” “true” transmedia is designed in preproduction with the intent of immersion.”

Transmedia evokes all your senses, immerses you in the story. Examples: Continue reading

January 26, 2012 Posted by | Movies, Pop Culture, Writing | 23 Comments

eduClaytion’s Angels

Some of you know about a couple of very important women in my life–Kate Beckinsale and Emily Blunt. By “in my life” I mean they have no idea who I am.

Well, it’s Underworld weekend, and I am going to see the film ASAP. My friend should be here any minute. I’ve been waiting for, oh, two and half years. I feel that now is a good time to give some other ladies a bit of attention before I see Kate as the lovely death dealer she is and promptly forget about everyone else for a long time.

While I never intended to hurt anybody with so much Beckinsale adoration it’s come to my attention* that I may have been hurtful to my other three favorite actresses who round out the eduClaytion top 5, a prestigious list often whispered about during Hollywood soirees and such.

I don’t have some ranking system from 1-5 or anything because I don’t think it’s appropriate to objectify chicks and stuff. But I will say that Kate and Emily are on top. Here are my three other favorite actresses. Continue reading

January 20, 2012 Posted by | Humor, Movies, Pop Culture | 29 Comments

How Does the New Sherlock Holmes Movie Rank Against Other Sequels?

So I saw the new Sherlock Holmes movie. My buddy WD and I had been planning on hitting opening weekend for a while. During a preview earlier this month I heard one critic describe the movie by saying this current film Game of Shadows is better than the original. You don’t hear that too often.

English: Second of the four illustrations incl...

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He was right.

Whether you are new to this Holmes guy or have a solid background in the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle canon, you’ll enjoy this film. Well, unless you don’t like good movies. Guy Ritchie directs marvelously. I’m not sure what all cinematography encompasses, but this movie should win Best Cinematography for 2011. That’s a thing, right?

This stellar follow up got me thinking about sequels that were as good as or better than the original. What do you think of these picks?

Back to the Future II–Maybe not better than the original but definitely great. BTTF is my favorite trilogy of all time. Get it? Time?

The Dark Knight–Okay, I know they’ve made like a jillion Batman movies but we can call clean slate on the latest rendition. Of course Heath Ledger stole the show as The Joker, but what a great film.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan–The original Star Trek movie is a disaster, just atrocious (although Mamma Mia makes it look like Casablanca). The rest are pretty good with the exception of #5 which is hard to watch. Oh yeah, I hear there’s also this Star Wars trilogy that had a pretty good run.

T2–I didn’t see the original Terminator until I was a teenager, after I saw T2. In fact, this sequel was the first R rated movie that MamaClaytion let me go to. I went with my friend and his dad during a trip to Erie. I still think it’s way better than the original.

Superman III loved Superman when I was a kid. LOVED it. Still do in fact. This sequel had everything including the unthinkable: Clark willingly giving up his powers for love just as the evil General Zod (Terence Stamp) shows up.

I’m trying to think of any major oversights here, so I’ll ask you…

What are some of the best sequels of all time?

How about WORST sequels?

December 17, 2011 Posted by | Movies, Pop Culture | 35 Comments

My Big Fat Greek Penance

It’s payday. Not the kind where I happily collect checks and go to the bank. No, today is the day I pay for my transgressions as a wayward, gambling Steelers fan.

Forgive me Thoughtsy, for I have sinned.

Many of you already know about my now legendary wager with Miss Thoughtsy Appears over the recent Balitmore Ravens-Pittsburgh Steelers football game and how I was a big fat loser.

So I had to watch the worst chick flick that Thoughtsy and her evil minions readers could come up with.

They picked a doozy called Mamma Mia! Don’t let that exclamation point confuse you. It’s in the title. I wasn’t excited. At all.

But I’m a man of my word, so I took my medicine and watched one of the greatest atrocities ever put on film. And I’ve got a guest post over at Thoughts Appear to prove it. I hope it makes you laugh so the universe can be evened out after all the tears I shed while enduring Pierce Brosnan’s voice amidst an estrogen fest of the devil. Continue reading

December 16, 2011 Posted by | Humor, Life, Movies | 11 Comments

What Muppet are You?

We’re going full-blown, Muppets out tribute this week. (I’ve already reviewed the movie). And now it’s your turn to get in on the best act going right now, so I want you to cast your own bad self in The Muppet Show.

But of course we’re doing this eduClaytion style. That means I want your Muppet personality profile.

I got this idea months ago from a couple places. First, the picture you see off to the right here. I think it’s even funnier if you understand Dungeons & Dragons, but I’ve literally never heard one person ever talk about that let alone play the thing. I did get a D & D beach towel from my grandma one year when I was a kid, but none of us knew it was based on a game. But I digress.

The other inspiration for this post came from a comment by my dear fryber Renee. In response to some other eduClaytion Muppetry a while back, she had this to say:

I have a bad boy/geek thing when it comes to favorite muppets. Go figure. I adore Animal, the Muppet wild-chid. C’mon. Who doesn’t? … But I also had a thing for good ole Kermit, a deep thinker: a little quiet, reserved. The kind of Muppet you might want to go and sit next to and chat about meta stuff, like the cosmos.

So – bottom line – I dated a lot of Animals, but I married a Kermit! ;-) 

That made me think about who our favorite Muppets are and why. Then I started wondering what Muppet I’m most like. Continue reading

December 2, 2011 Posted by | Humor, Movies, Pop Culture | 50 Comments

Muppet Mania!

I finally saw the new Muppets movie. I say finally because is was out almost 48 hours before I was able to get to the theater. You can read a few of my thoughts in a minute, but I’ve asked Lee of College Ready Writing fame (find her on Twitter) to pitch in her thoughts as well.

The Muppet Show

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She might just be the biggest fan I know. Take it away Lee.


Clay, I have to say that I am pre-disposed to absolutely adore this movie; not only am I a rabid Muppet fan (as outlined right here and at my own blog), but I am also a huge Jason Segel fan, dating way back to his Freaks and Geeks days (if you don’t know Freaks and Geeks, find it, watch it, and thank me later).

My kids, aged 2 and 4, have been raised on the Muppets; we own the first three seasons of The Muppet Show on DVD (get on those last two seasons, Disney!) and we also watch Sesame Street Old School on DVD.

This movie worked for me on so many levels. The new songs were catchy, sweet, and fit the movie quite well. As for the critique that Kermit would never had abandoned the gang and holed himself up in a Bel-Air mansion? I just don’t buy it. Maybe Frank Oz didn’t agree to do the movie because it hit a little too close to home for him. How many of the old Muppet crew still, in fact, work together? Life goes on, and often in directions we don’t plan or expect. I think that particular detail rang the truest for me. Continue reading

November 30, 2011 Posted by | Movies, Pop Culture | 38 Comments

Dolphin Tale: Behind the Scenes

All of you amputee dolphin insiders out there will know that today marks the release of a highly anticipated movie from Warner Brothers and the producers of The Blind Side. That’s right flipperheads it’s Dolphin Tale day. I knew this weekend was coming months ago, so I snuck onto the set of the film and shot some secret behind the scenes footage just for you.

On loClaytion earlier this year.

Okay, that’s pretty much a lie. I didn’t actually sneak onto the set. Turns out I missed Morgan Freeman, Harrick Connick Jr., Ashely Judd and company by a bit, but I did get some footage from the movie location.

Dolphin Tale tells the story of Winter and the people who worked together to save a life like it was a music video by The Fray. The movie was filmed at the same facility where the true life rescue took place–Clearwater Aquarium in Clearwater, Florida. My loyal readers will recognize that as the home of my sister and site of my vaClaytion from earlier this year.

I haven’t been this interested in a movie about a dolphin from Florida since Ace Ventura came out. That was back in the 90s when Ray Finkle thought he could kidnap both Snowflake and Dan Marino and get away with it. Yeah right. There’s a better chance of me wearing Isotoners during summertime. Okay, now you’ve got me thinking about O.J. Simpson *shivers* when I’m supposed to be explaining the heartwarming story of a dolphin that defied science and continues to inspire humans around the world. Continue reading

September 23, 2011 Posted by | Movies, Pop Culture | 38 Comments

By George, My Childhood’s Disappearing!

I’m super excited today to introduce my first guest writer from Down Under! My Aussie pal Christian is one of the guys I’ve known longer than anyone around the blogosphere. He posts over at Adventures and Insights. Click that link and it’ll be the fastest trip to Australia you’ll ever take. You can also sometimes find him on Twitter.

We share a love of music, movies, and the TV show Chuck. Okay, okay, we may also both be completely enamored with that show’s costar Yvonne Strahovski. We are also bonded from one side of this planet to the other by a certain legend of the 80s named Indiana Jones. In general, Christian and I can talk pop culture all day, and he’s put his knowledge to good use today for a launch by an icon who’s messing with his childhood. Take it away mate.


My friends, we are facing uncertain times. The days to come have been darkened with news which I fear is being mistaken for good. Beneath the surface reverie, however, lurks a terror which chills me to my very core. If you are by some strange coincidence unaware of what I am referring to, I shall begin with two words: George Lucas.

September 16th, 2011 has been hailed as a monumental day for Star Wars fans. On this day, the complete Star Wars Saga will be released on Blu-ray and I know that I was excited to hear this news – at first. However, I’ve since read that George Lucas has made use of modern technology to “perfect and correct” parts of the movies in his desire to evolve them into the vision he saw in his mind’s eye when initially creating these masterpieces. It’s that last sentence that has me worried. Continue reading

September 16, 2011 Posted by | Movies, Pop Culture | 22 Comments

Be Blunt With Me

Kate Beckinsale. Diane Kruger. Angelina Jolie. In that order. That’s been the list of my three favorite actresses for a good while. Then I went to see a movie called The Adjustment Bureau a few months back.

Emily Blunt. That’s the new name on my short list since I discovered her this spring. I gave a couple people a lot of grief for all the swooning they were doing over Colin Firth, but I would be powerless against Blunt. It’s not even right. Just allow me to swoon in silence.

I’m sure you’re reading this thinking, “Is she the one to take over your top spot Clay?” To that I say relax. What Kate and I have is too special to just toss aside after all these years. What’s more, I’ll be absolute putty when Underworld: Awakening comes out next January and Beckinsale reprises her role as Selene. I know that she would murder all the bad guys for me. So adorable when she kills.

But this post is supposed to be about Emily Blunt. She’s married. I get it. To John Krasinski no less. That makes things even worse since he’s one of the few actors I really like in everything he does. Plus we have a similar style of humor. Hmm, I bet Emily would dig that about me.

Nevertheless I sought her out on Netflix a couple months back and ended up falling asleep very quickly during The Young Victoria, a film for which Blunt was nominated as best actress at the Golden Globes. I should’ve known better than to try watching a movie categorized by the great and mighty Netflix as “Emotional, Romantic.” Yeah, it just ain’t me without a splash of Braveheart.

I wondered how I had missed her in three other films I’d already seen (The Devil Wears Prada which I hate, Dan In Real Life which I like, Charlie Wilson’s War which I own) but then summer came and my busy schedule only drove us farther apart. Oh well, I sighed, I’d always have Kate to slay the undead with. Continue reading

August 31, 2011 Posted by | Humor, Life, Movies | 61 Comments

10 Movie Characters I’ve Wished I Could Be

Juxtaposed images of Superman and Clark Kent

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Plenty of times, especially as a kid, I’ve watched a movie and thought about being a character in the film. I was reminded of some of these moments over this past weekend as I paid tribute to Donald O’Connor. You’ve probably imagined yourself as some onscreen personalities too.

I began listing some of the characters who impacted me and this list resulted. These ten picks aren’t necessarily definitive but were fun to consider. Here’s my list of 10 movie characters I’ve wished I could be even though I’m sure to leave off some major head slappers that I won’t realize until later.


10. Mikey Walsh from The Goonies

I remember the first time I watched The Goonies, a Saturday afternoon before my paper route. Everything was so exciting that day.

Advantages: You get to go after One-Eyed Willie’s treasure and befriend Sloth.

Disadvantages: The Fratellis are after you. Continue reading

August 29, 2011 Posted by | Humor, Movies, Pop Culture | 68 Comments

Gene Kelly & Donald O’Connor: Tribute to Legends

I remember watching hockey one night years ago. Mario Lemieux was on the ice for the Pittsburgh Penguins when a girl who didn’t particularly care for the game walked into the room. She meant to flip through a magazine but couldn’t take her eyes off the screen where Super Mario (or Le Magnifique if you want to get French about it) dominated the play. As #66 soared around the ice like the opposition wasn’t even there that girl simply said, “Wow.”

What a paradigm shift looks like.

That’s how it is with greatness. You just know it when you see it.

I felt the same way one night before my 13th birthday when I plopped on the couch to check out a movie that MamaClaytion was watching. The flick was Singin’ In The Rain, and I did all the appropriate eye rolling.

Then Donald O’Connor appeared on the screen and I didn’t look at my Gameboy for the rest of the night. I always enjoyed making people laugh, and after a few minutes of O’Connor’s brilliance all I could say was, “Wow.”

In 1925, the acrobatic comedian O’Connor was born in Chicago and right into show business. Quite a contrast to Gene Kelly who was 13 years older and had to put off college for a time once the Great Depression hit. A Pittsburgh kid (thank you very much), Kelly eventually earned a degree in economics from Pitt. After making his name on Broadway, Kelly left the Big Apple for Hollywood a few months before his 30th birthday.

The rest, of course, is history. Along with a very young Debbie Reynolds and Jean Hagen (brilliant as Lina Lamont), these two men created a classic in 1952 with Singin’ In The Rain. Kelly famously fought through a 103 degree fever to film that iconic, title routine in the rain. Lord knows how he kept a smile on his face. Continue reading

August 26, 2011 Posted by | Movies, Pop Culture | 40 Comments

Why Men Cry

This post is a follow up to a previous look at Men That Cry.


Why do men cry? Today we consider some findings from a year old Men’s Health study.

Rankings of what makes guys cry:

Seeing my oatmeal cookie smashed at a music festival this year almost reduced me to tears.

  1. The death of a family member or close friend
  2. Watching a sad movie or TV show
  3. A girlfriend breaking up with them
  4. The death of a pet
  5. Breaking up with a girlfriend

The list goes up to #21, so I’ll just point out some highlights. First off, I feel slightly more normal by #7–Listening to an emotional song. Also, I’d be passing up a clean spike if I ignored #17–Attending a wedding. That’s one thing that makes me want to cry but probably not in the way most humans would expect ;-). Oh come on, I’m not the only one who thinks weddings are torture am I?

Guys are most likely to cry when they feel:




Shame is a surprisingly low factor in forcing guy tears.

Sorry for yourself–7.9%





I don’t see any big surprises here except that maybe stress seems to be higher than these numbers indicate. I do loneliness pretty well. Yup, sadness is the main reason to release the waterworks for sure.

There’s too much in the survey to cover here, but I’m particularly curious in the part where they asked about how guys react to movies. First off, 25% of liars men claim they’ve never cried while watching a sad movie/TV show. Give me a 30 minute interview with those cats and I’ll prescribe the perfect movie to crush their souls. Continue reading

August 24, 2011 Posted by | Life, Movies | 80 Comments

Harry Potter Remake

Daniel Radcliffe filming for Harry Potter and ...

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Time to talk about how they’re gonna remake the Harry Potter movies. Details are hushed on whether it will be a prequel about Harry’s parents before the boy wizard was born or if they’re just going to remake Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone.

In case you think you’ve missed some major breaking news, I guess I should say that no announcements have been made outside of my imagination, but everybody knows it’s going to happen.

According to SkyMoviesHD, franchise star Daniel Radcliffe told Empire Magazine:

“I will be sad to finish the series, but I will feel a great sense of achievement when I finish the film ’cause it will be the longest shoot I will probably ever do in my career. And hopefully we’ll all stay in touch. We’ll probably all play teachers in the remakes in 30 years.”

Talk about financial security. How sweet is that? Radcliffe’s already got enough money to buy Prince William’s kidneys, but even if he somehow blows all that cash over the next three decades he can still just take a role as an aging professor in the revamped Potter series.

But why wait 30 years? They’re already talking about messing with some of my beloved 90s movies, and the first Harry Potter film was made way back in 2001. That’s a decade ago! With attention spans shorter than ever these days, most teenagers will soon forget they ever saw a movie about a young boy with magical powers that wasn’t called The Wizard. Continue reading

July 22, 2011 Posted by | Movies, Pop Culture | 39 Comments

Rock Star Party

Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure

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Plenty of focus on music and rock stars around here lately, so let’s throw down a worthy FFF. Been a while since yours truly has offered the old Friday Flick Faceoff, but I wanna rock so I went to the Facebook well and received buckets of titles to swim through.

The FB faithful suggested fun movies like Detroit Rock City and classics like Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. Iconic artists like Spinal Tap, Sid & Nancy, and Richie Valens also came up and you know the Beatles universe got some attention as well.

And although no one mentioned it, I have to give a shout to Empire Records if for no other reason than to keep Ms. Thoughtsie from coming after me. Just a great Gen X flick that one.

For a variety of reasons, those movies and many others aren’t going in the current batch. I’m even leaving out The Rocker starring Rainn Wilson which absolutely cracks me up, but I appreciate all the great suggestions.

Here’s your rockin’ movie lineup.

Almost Famous–The Cameron Crowe cult classic is fitting in this week of discussing life as a music journalist.

That Thing You Do–Even though I couldn’t stand the title song after watching this film the first time, I’ll say the movie grew on me in the past few years. Continue reading

July 8, 2011 Posted by | Movies, Pop Culture | 33 Comments

From the Middle of Nowhere

I am at a Mac in a tent in the middle of the Pennsylvania mountains. Not too many opportunities to snag wi-fi around here, so I’m grateful for this one as I sit in front a fan. The temperature reached about ninety degrees today and I have the sweetest farmers tan you’ve ever seen.

Maybe I’ll get some pictures to ya later this week after I get home Sunday. Of course, I’ve walked about 30 miles in the past day from all the appointments with musicians, trips to the photo pit for live shows, and the trek back to camp where my wonderful lunch meats and cheeses chill in a sun-hot cooler.


Many people would consider this torture. Camping isn’t for everyone including me, but I can deal with anything when music’s involved. At least they have hot showers for us. Bathing in a tractor trailer is a brilliant invention and I commend the inventor of that fine innovation. Continue reading

July 1, 2011 Posted by | Life, Movies | 24 Comments