What I Pop Cultured...in Aruba

While I recover from my paradise-filled Aruban vacation, where I ate surf & turf, drank frozen cocktails, sat on the beach for 12 hours a day, mourned MJ, celebrated the first anniversary, and finally got a healthy tan, I thought it necessary to update my week in pop culture. Though I have much to share about my Caribbean adventure, I still need to sort through photos and information so it could take a few days. Since I had TONS of time on my hands this week, here's what I brought along for the trip.

What I Read...on the Plane:
Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult A novel following a student who shoots up his high school, killing 10 and wounding dozens, in a mere nineteen minutes. Picoult also brings in very likable characters in the form of said student's parents, his childhood friend and her mother, a dashing detective on the case, and very unlikable bullies who've tortured the shooter throughout his lifetime. I appreciate Picoult's writing-style and her ability to incorporate controversial issues into her fictional stories. While she doesn't offer solutions or choose sides in the bully vs. bullied, she does paint a picture that blurs the line of what's right, wrong, and justified. While it was no My Sister's Keeper, it was an easy, interesting read that held my attention.

What I Read...on the Beach:
April & Oliver by Tess Callahan Childhood friends, unrequited love, sexual tension, weekends in the Hamptons...April & Oliver had such potential for a saucy chick lit beach read. Unfortunately, April & Oliver could not have been more disappointing. Perhaps I had unfair expectations of what the book would ultimately be about, but I was left unfulfilled. While I don't mind leaving some ambiguities at the end of a good read, I felt that this one lead me out to sea and left me there. Though the characters were well developed, interesting, and intense, I was highly unsatisfied with the ultimate turn of events. I mean, why would I read a book in which I have no idea what happens to the main characters? Though some may appreciate the ambiguous ending that 'makes you think', I prefer to have a definitive climax. The main character lives or dies. They hook up or they don't (and let's face it, if they don't, why am I wasting my time?). This one left much to be desired...in many ways.

What I Watched...in the Hotel:
How I Met Your Mother, Season 3 The writers finally got it right this season. While always charming, the first two season struggled (in my eyes) with Ted as the lead because...well, because he's just boring. Season 3 focuses more on Barney (played spectacularly by Neil Patrick Harris) and the group is integrated into more storylines, making it a seriously funny sitcom in a dying sitcom era. The only episodes that faltered? The ones that were Ted/finding the Mother-centric. Does anyone really care who the mother is? Give me more Barney.

What I Watched...on the Plane:
Mad Men, Season 1 Skeptical of the hype but willing to give it a whirl mainly due to Jon Hamm and my love for 60's-era things, I finally watched the first two eps and I'm hooked. Drama, comedy, inappropriate gender/racial stereotyping, New York City...a winning combo. I plan to get my DVD on all week, so hopefully it will only get better.

That's about all I had time for last week. I plan to continue pop culturing this week and be sure to check back for Aruba guides!