Monday, July 28, 2003

Top 200 Pop Culture Icons
This weekend, I spent more time than I care to admit watching "VH-1's Top 200 Pop Culture Icons" countdown, but there were so many things blatantly wrong with this list that it was like a bad car accident - I couldn't look away. They should have just named it "Pop Culture Icons of the Past 20 Years," because according to my calculations, nearly half have really only become famous or made their mark since the '80's. And there are some who wouldn't even be on this list if VH-1 had compiled it a year ago (Ben Affleck, this means you.). In general, the list was very short-sighted.

I realize that when any type of "all-time" list is compiled, there is always disgreement and criticism, but I just felt that this list really missed the mark. I tried to find something on VH-1's website about how the list was compiled, but I could only find a brief mention of "our panel of experts," although it didn't name who they were or what they used as the criteria to define a "pop culture icon of all-time." One caveat before you read my rants - I did not watch the entire program, but only saw groups of five or ten here and there throughout the weekend, so I didn't always hear the "rationale" for choosing an icon. That being said, let the review begin:

I disagreed with most of the choices in this group. "The Rock" at #200, but no Hulk Hogan? There would be no "The Rock" or any other wrestlers you see today on WWE without Hulk Hogan. Judge Judy (#197), but not Judge Wapner? He's the original TV judge. And who could forget Doug Llewylyn? Maybe Russell Crowe (#190) deserves to be on this list because he won an Oscar, but I'm going to say no, mostly because I really don't like him all that much. Dolly Parton (#189) and Joe Namath (#188) were good choices. But Broadway Joe is the only football player on the list. What about the other Joe - Joe Montana, or Brian Piccolo. And, although I'm sure no one wants to admit it, O.J. Simpson belongs on this list. He's become engrained in American Pop Culture in more ways than one. Winona Ryder (#183) probably wouldn't be on this list without the shoplifting incident. Reese Witherspoon (#181) is too new.

Larry Hagman as J.R. Ewing (#180) - an excellent choice to fit my criteria of icon. I don't think Gianni Versace (#172) would have made the list if he hadn't been killed so tragically. #166, Betty Ford, is a questionable choice, but I'll let it go because she's older than 21 and including her showed a little bit of thinking on behalf of the listmakers.

Ricky Martin at #159 is also questionable. Yes, he did help bring about the current popularity of Latin music, but in reality, he's just a one-hit wonder at this point. Harry Potter (#154) was another good choice for icon status (and I've never even read any of the books). Bob Hope at #152 should have been ranked much, much higher. I'll admit, I never really understood his appeal and sense of humor, which is a generational thing, but give credit where credit is due. I'll agree with Garth Brooks at #150 and I'm glad to see VH-1 include Dolly Parton (#189) and Johnny Cash (#88) as well for the country music category (please note: Shania Twain is not a country act - never has been, never will be). Gwen Stefani (#142) is questionable, but I really think she's one of the coolest people ever and I can't knock a vote for Girl Power.

James Gandolfini (as Tony Soprano) at #140 - that's the way it's listed, with the character in parens - should really be "The Sopranos," the TV show itself. The icon that has become The Sopranos in our culture is the entire show, not just the character of Tony Soprano. This mistake will be repeated later on. I'm not sure about the inclusion of Molly Ringwald (#139). I'm one of the biggest "Sixteen Candles" fans you will find, but her lack of longevity makes me question her. My bias toward "The Breakfast Club" may be coming into play, too. I think I'm the only thirty-something out there who absolutely hated this movie. I hated it when I first saw it and I've hated every time I've tried to watch it again to see why, but it just doesn't do it for me. Anyway, Dick Clark should be way, way, much, much higher on this list. He would be in my Top 10. How can he not be? He is the epitome of American pop culture for the past 40+ years. And Bob Denver as Gilligan at #122 should really be "Gilligan's Island," the show, a la "The Sopranos." Walk up to anyone on any street in America and ask them to name the seven castaways and it can be done.

Continuing with the TV mistakes, #120 should be "Sex and the City," not just Sarah Jessica Parker. The show itself is the star and the icon that has made its way into our culture. And now, for the biggest mistake on the entire list, #119 Ben Affleck should ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY, not be on this list! What a joke! If this list had been compiled a year ago, he wouldn't even be in the running to make the cut. He's only on this list because he's the soon-to-be Mr. Jennifer Lopez and that's it. As for #117, William Shatner, his listing should have included "Capt. Kirk" in parens, but it didn't. Why not? I don't think he's on the list for T.J. Hooker. Justin Timberlake (#112) is too new for this list, or else Jordan Knight would be on here, too.

Henry Winkler as "The Fonz" is a good selection, but he would be higher than #99 on my list. And Penny Marshall as "Laverne DeFazio" at #84 should not rank higher than The Fonz. His leather jacket is in the Smithsonian! Exactamundo! Clint Eastwood should also be higher than #90, especially when you look at some of the male leading actors ahead of him on the list (Harrison Ford, Tom Cruise). Stephen King at #97 was the only author to make the list. What about John Grisham or pop culture characters created by authors that have become engrained in our culture by coming to life on the big screen, like James Bond or Hannibal Lechter?

I can live with Pamela Anderson at #80 (atleast Anna Nicole didn't make the list), but not Susan Lucci at #74. She represents the whole Daytime Soap market on the list, but I don't think it was a good choice. There should have been atleast one show in the rank, like "Days of Our Lives" or "The Young and the Restless," that have been on the air for ages, but no one seemed to consider that.

Loved Kermit & Miss Piggy as #60. Whenever I catch reruns of "The Muppet Show" as an adult, I can't get over how smart and intelligent the shows are. I'm tempted to buy all of the episodes on DVD. #54 John Wayne also deserves to be ranked much higher in the grand scheme of things, as does Elizabeth Taylor (#49). I question Michael J. Fox at #44. I love him in just about everything he has done and what he stands for. But I have to wonder if this is a pity vote?

I'll let The Osbournes slide at #40. Even though the ratings have dropped drastically, even if they don't survive another season, I don't think any of us will ever forget them. Katie Couric at #39, along with Barbara Walters back at #89, are curious. I can accept Barbara Wawa, but why Katie and not someone else? Where are the news men? Walter Cronkite, the most trusted man in America, should be on this list. Or atleast Tom Brokaw. James Dean at #26 should be much, much higher as well. In my opinion, he is the true definition of an American pop culture icon and would be in my Top 10. And JFK Jr. at #24 shouldn't be ranked higher than his father (#32) or mother (#47). Also, Tom Hanks at #22 deserves to be higher.

Now we get to the big boys - and girls. Britney Spears is ranked too hight at #20. In my opinion, she's still bordering on flash-in-the-pan status. Same with J. Lo at #15, even though I love her and she's a great success - so far- in both music and movies. Jerry Seinfeld at #13 needs to be higher, along with the TV show itself. A day rarely goes by that I don't make some kind of "Seinfeld" reference. Tom Cruise is also ranked way too high at #5 - I would flip him with Tom Hanks. And at #3, my choice for #1 - The King, Elvis Presley. Without him, half of the people on this list wouldn't be there. And quite honestly, I'm really undecided about the #1 pick - Oprah Winfrey. Baltimore has always loved Oprah and include her as one of ours, and anyone who known only by their first name has definitely achieved icon status. I wouldn't have her as #1 on my list, but I think she might make my Top 10.

There, are you exhausted yet? I am! But just a few more thoughts on people I thought were missing from the list:
Aaron Spelling - how can his contributions to America television and Pop Culture be overlooked?
David Hasselhoff and Baywatch - the most popular TV show in the world and it's not on this list?
The Beach Boys - they epitomize the American dream of fun in the California sun, surfing, girls and hot cars
Dale Earnhart - the legacy he has left behind in his sport is overwhelming and very obviously overlooked by the listmakers

Okay, I'm finished with my rant. But I'd love to know what you think. Agree or disagree with me? E-mail me and let me know.

Thursday, July 10, 2003

Just follow the bouncing ball...
Here are some of my favorite lyrics from songs that are on the radio right now (country radio, that is). The italics are mine.

Dierks Bentley, "What Was I Thinkin'" - catchy tune from this newcomer

When a mountain of a man with a "Born to Kill" tattoo
Tried to cut in, I knocked out his front tooth
We ran outside, hood slidin' like Bo Duke
What was I thinkin'

Find complete lyrics here.

Brad Paisley, "Celebrity" - A great parody on all the reality shows

So let’s hitch up the wagons and head out west
To the land of fun in the sun
We’ll be real world, bachelor, jackass millionaires
Hey, hey Hollywood, here we come

Find complete lyrics here.

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Captain Fantastic
Driving in to work this morning, I heard on the radio that Hugh Grant paid $450,000 for himself and 10 people to have dinner with Elton John. I smiled when I heard that because I almost had a similar situation for free. Actually, this is just a celebrity siting story, but it's a good excuse to tell it.

Several years ago, when I worked for another company, we were attending a trade show in Atlanta. Earlier in the day, I was driving through the city with a co-worker, Claudia, and mentioned that I heard on Oprah or something that Elton John kept an apartment in Atlanta, which she thought was interesting versus New York, San Francisco, etc.

Later that night, Claudia and I were with a group of other co-workers and the sales reps from our advertising agency, dining at "Prime" at the Lenox Square Mall. I was at the head of the table and Claudia was at the other end, directly across from me. Next to us was another large group of diners, obviously celebrating a birthday. Another co-worker had even made a comment when we walked in that they looked like "beautiful people."

Later, as the group of "beautiful people" was getting ready to leave, our waiter came over to me, bent his head down and whispered, "If you look over at the group that's leaving, you'll see Mr. Elton John." My head sprang up, I looked over, then looked back at Claudia. The waiter had just told her the same thing. Sure enough, there was Elton John putting on his coat and leaving the restaurant. We had been sitting next to Elton John for two hours and never even realized it! A very fun, cool experience.

Other celebrity sitings I experienced while traveling on business, some more interesting than others:
  • Jane Fonda, also in Atlanta, getting off an escalator in the CNN Center. Obviously, on her way to see Ted.
  • Dan Reeves in Orlando, coming out of the convention center. It was a cardiology convention and this was just after his heart attack/Super Bowl win.
  • LPGA golfer Laura Davies, in a hotel lobby in Minneapolis. It was my first real celebrity siting and I couldn't wait to call my dad and tell him.

And then of course, the celeb-siting of them all - when I was 15 and my sister Vanessa was 13 we were traveling to California with our parents. On the way out there, we had to change planes in Pittsburgh. WWF wrestler Hercules Hernandez walked by us and Vanessa recognized him. (I didn't.) Since we had a layover, we followed him. When he arrived at his gate, there was a whole group of other wrestlers just sitting around waiting for their plane - Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat, the Honkytonk Man and others (yes, I'm dating myself). We ran to the nearest news stand and bought a wrestling magazine and were able to get a bunch of autographs.

Ironically, while we were in Los Angeles, we didn't see any celebrities.

Monday, July 07, 2003

Hayley went swimming for the first time on the Fourth and it was a great experience. I had bought her a Floaties swim seat and she was all decked out in her new glittery bathing suit, plus lots of sunscreen, her hat and sunglasses. We stood on the steps of the pool to get used to the water first and I splashed her arms and legs, then it was into the seat. She loved it! She started kicking her legs right away. No crying or fussing at all. Then, she actually stuck her face in the water and started blowing bubbles. She's a natural! And I was really impressed at how well the Huggies swim diapers work - much better than a regular diaper!

Of course, I took lots of cute pictures, but with the "regular" camera. Now that I have this website, I'll have to start using the digital camera more so I can post photos in a timely manner. I'll have to edit this post with the appropriate photo once I get the roll developed. (edited 8/2/03 to add pictures)

Also, my mom continued the tradition she started with my two sisters and me with my nieces and Hayley - matching 4th of July outfits. Even though it was late in the day and Hayley was worn out from swimming, she cooperated for a picture with my nieces Kaitlyn and Kara.

Good Morning, America
My husband and I are big fans of NBC's Soledad O'Brien and loved watching her on Weekend Today. So we were sad to hear last Sunday that she was leaving. For some reason, I had missed any buzz about her leaving and where she might end up. So I was extremely happy to see the commercials this weekend for the new "American Morning" on CNN with host Soledad O'Brien. Congratulations Soledad!

I only get to see the first 15 or 20 minutes of any of the morning shows since Hayley and I are out the door around 7:15 am, but since my mom was babysitting for us this morning, I didn't have to leave until 7:30 am and could watch the first half hour. The chemistry isn't quite there yet, but I didn't expect it to be on the first day. I watched quite a bit of Bill Hemmer during CNN's early morning war coverage while feeding the baby and I think he and Soledad will make a good team. Just from what I saw this morning, I'm not that fond of Jack Cafferty, but I'm really not that familar with him, so it remains to be seen. I'm looking forward to watch "American Morning" in the coming weeks.

And of course, I was wondering what happened to Paula Zahn - did she get the boot? No, she's moving to primetime on CNN, with a headline show and the forthcoming "American Evening."

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

She Loves to Laugh, She Loves to Sing...
To echo Pineapple Girl's sentiments, I would buy a new Ford based solely on their use of Journey's "Any Way You Want It" in their summer ad campaign.