Linda Holmes

Linda Holmes writes and edits NPR's entertainment and pop-culture blog, Monkey See. She has several elaborate theories involving pop culture and monkeys, all of which are available on request.

Holmes began her professional life as an attorney. In time, however, her affection for writing, popular culture and the online universe eclipsed her legal ambitions. She shoved her law degree in the back of the closet, gave its living-room space to DVD sets of The Wire and never looked back.

Holmes was a writer and editor at Television Without Pity, where she recapped several hundred hours of programming — including both High School Musical movies, for which she did not receive hazard pay. Since 2003, she has been a contributor to MSNBC.com, where she has written about books, movies, television and pop-culture miscellany.

Holmes' work has also appeared on Vulture (New York magazine's entertainment blog), in TV Guide and in many, many legal documents.

I've always been the shrugging type when it comes to lots of things that Facebook does that make people crazy. They change the layout, they mess with the feed — even making you noodle with your privacy settings has always seemed to me like the craven doing of business, and something where I could say yes or I could say no, the same as any business that offered good service sometimes and lousy service other times.

Transcript

WADE GOODWYN, HOST:

Twenty-five years ago, Lloyd Dobler raised a boombox over his head and changed the world of movie boyfriends forever.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "IN YOUR EYES")

PETER GABRIEL: (Singing) All my instincts, they return...

GOODWYN: Linda Holmes, of our pop culture blog "Monkey See," was a teenager when she first saw the film "Say Anything..." She says all these years later, she has a new appreciation of it.

Transcendence is a science fiction story, but it's very much about faith. Early on, a member of a "neo-Luddite" group confronts Will Caster (Johnny Depp) about his work. Caster is promising a future in which a massive artificial intelligence will contain more knowledge than the world has ever collectively possessed, and the man – played by Lukas Haas, whom many of us first saw as a tiny Amish child in Witness, where he was also counseled about the dangers of modernity and technology – accuses him of trying to create a god.

Imagine a scene in which a man is sitting on a park bench reading a book. A woman comes up and sits beside him. He looks up at her. She hands him a letter. "It's over," she says.

The big winner was 12 Years a Slave, but there was quite a bit of love to go around at Sunday night's Oscars. What there wasn't, as usual, was a lot of riveting television.

Sure, there was John Travolta squinting at the teleprompter and introducing Idina Menzel (to sing the Oscar-winning Best Original Song "Let It Go," from Frozen) as — no kidding — "Adele Dazeem." And there was a fun dance number featuring Pharrell Williams and his own Oscar-nominated "Happy," which he wore a formal black version of his Grammys hat to perform.

I read Pam Ribon's Notes To Boys: And Other Things I Shouldn't Share In Public in a few sittings, but the longest stretch I consumed where one should ideally read this book: in a bubble bath. The calming atmosphere is good for the anxiety that comes from seeing a woman excavate her teenage brain, the vulnerability builds the empathy it takes to understand how terrified all these boys she was writing to must have felt, and if you get too mortified for her, you can always elect to go down the drain with the bathwater just to escape.

It's been 50 years since The Beatles first appeared on Ed Sullivan, to an audience of screaming, hair-pulling, ecstatic (in the classic sense) teenage girls. Cutes in suits, you might call them, like (and, of course, nothing like) countless other bands of the time that wore skinny ties and shared microphones and said "oh" and "yeah" and "baby."

Much will be said and has been said about Pete Seeger, who died Monday at 94, as an activist and musician. Blacklisted, tireless, stubborn, and funny, he wrote a lot of songs that seem to have simply always existed: "Where Have All The Flowers Gone?", "If I Had A Hammer," "Turn, Turn, Turn."

Let us say this first: The Golden Globes are Hollywood culture at its most purely self-perpetuating. Given out by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, a small group of journalists so gleefully obscure that there is usually a joke about how gleefully obscure they are, the Globes lack the gravitas of the Oscars, which is really saying something, given the fact that the Oscars lack the gravitas of the Tonys and the Tonys lack the gravitas of a halfway decent episode of Law & Order: SVU.

What is James Franco doing?

Two days into the Toronto International Film Festival, I'm 10 films in. We'll talk more about all of these later, but it seemed only fair to share some basic impressions, since I'm certainly logging the seat time to earn them. So here are the 10 I've seen so far.

Look, it's possible that I don't completely understand how British titles work. But it's 100 percent true that Prince William is also called Baron Carrickfergus. (You may Google that. I'll wait.)

It's not the least bit surprising that Paula Deen lost her gig on The Food Network — and you don't have to believe she's a terrible person to know it. All you have to do is watch Food Network Star, the competition show that seeks a new network personality and sometimes finds one.

That's where they got Aarti Sequeira, who now hosts the Indian food show Aarti Party. It's where they got Aaron McCargo, Jr., who hosts Big Daddy's House. And Melissa d'Arabian, who hosts Ten Dollar Dinners, and Jeff Mauro, who calls himself "The Sandwich King."

Look, Miss Utah USA, Marissa Powell, gave a pretty unimpressive answer to a question about income inequality at the Miss USA pageant. Let's all agree on that.

But what, exactly, did the circumstances call for?

There was considerable mouth-dropping from publications such as The New York Times at initial reports this week that NSA programs are gathering both telephone records and information gleaned from large tech companies like Google and Microsoft. But as those reports have settled in, reactions have gotten more complex.

On the heels of Liz & Dick, Lifetime's campy take on the love story of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton that starred none other than Lindsay Lohan, BBC America will be delivering another made-for-TV version this fall. Because they couldn't call it Liz & Dick, this one is called ... Burton And Taylor. (Innovation!)

This one stars Dominic West and Helena Bonham Carter, and the first photo was released yesterday.

You may be familiar with the San Diego Comic-Con, a constantly expanding convention for fans that started as a niche event for comic-book nerds and is now a sprawling pop-culture event.

Pop culture does not mean celebrity culture; I have perhaps said this more often than anyone you're going to meet. Who dates, who gets a divorce, who has a tantrum, who has surreptitious photos snapped of him by mangy, grim opportunists — these things are not culture of any kind, popular or otherwise, unless there is something else at stake. They are curiosities, and given that we are curious creatures, their pull is not surprising, nor is it new, nor was it invented by the internet, or television, or Americans.

Christopher Guest has made so many people laugh since he started making mock documentaries with This Is Spinal Tap in 1984 that his fans might be surprised to hear his response to Scott Simon's question on Saturday's Weekend Edition about whether he ever thinks about making a serious movie.

Referencing Family Tree, his new show for HBO starring Chris O'Dowd as a man discovering his roots, Guest says that even with comedy, the emotional content can still be critical.

UPDATE, 4:08 p.m.: In addition to the institutions mentioned below, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum has announced that admission will be free on Wednesday, April 17.

You may find a hint to the era in which you were born (as well as your taste in entertainment) in Linda Wertheimer's clarification that on the '80s nighttime soap Dynasty, actress Linda Evans played Krystle Carrington — Krystle with a K, that is. (And, she does not add, an L-E.) If that surprises you at all, you were almost surely not paying attention to the television of the 1980s, when Evans, John Forsythe and Joan Collins made up the wealthiest, nuttiest, most notorious and most rhinestone-covered love triangle ever bedazzled for prime time: Krystle, Blake and Alexis.

As Eyder Peralta reported last night, the National Spelling Bee has made a big change to its rules.

1. The symbolism was a bit heavy-handed. It's frustrating that Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner doesn't trust viewers of the show enough to allow symbolism to live in an episode as suggestion and not insistence. The Mad Men audience is small and self-selecting; it is made up of people who choose to watch a show that requires attention and rewards patience.

It's Friday, and that means that television is serving up a few gems (new episodes of the wonderfully deranged Happy Endings) as well as a bunch of stuff intended for a target demographic of "started partying early; already passed out."

In that spirit, we bring you a few Real TV Listings for Friday, April 5.

There's always been Roger Ebert. And when I read that he had died Thursday, that's what caught in my throat. Not just sadness, but bafflement. I don't understand. There's always been Roger Ebert.

This will be the first night in my life I go to bed and he's not out there thinking about movies. And perhaps it's an odd description of sadness, but: It's weird.

I was out of the house, as it happens, for most of the first half of yesterday's Louisville-Duke game, and when I got home and looked at Twitter, before I turned on the TV, there was a huge stack of stuff to read, and the first thing that caught my attention about the game was this.

If you like Argo (which won Best Picture), the movie Chicago (which made a couple of appearances) and jokes about women (which just kept coming), you probably had a substantially better night than the average viewer, who was subjected to Seth MacFarlane's delivery of one of the worst hosting performances in Oscar history.

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