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!

What I'm Pop Culturing This Week, June 22nd

It's week 2 of pop culture madness. Not that I haven't always been a pop culture nut, but now I just feel the need to document and share it with you. Let's get down to business.

What I'm Watching...on DVD:
Still going strong on True Blood. While I feel as though I can't get through it fast enough (due to Netflix lead time and the Netflix-provided and unwatched Vicky Christina Barcelona DVD sitting on my player for the last 6 weeks...I swear, I'll get to it), it is nice to drag out the 12 (is it 12?) eps so I can get more Bill, Jason, and especially Lafayette before I plunge into season 2. Next up is Dexter and Mad Men, season 1 of both.

What I'm Listening to...on the Treadmill:
Often the most dreaded and mundane part of my day, I need to have a long list of running-appropriate music in a two week rotation, since I get very sick of the same songs very quickly. Recommendations are requested, so please leave them in the comments!
Here's what got me through this morning (in addition to closed-captioning GMA):

Beggin'
Madcon
I Gotta Feelin' Black Eyed Peas
Bad Things (Club Mix) aka True Blood theme song Jace Everett
Boom Boom Pow
Black Eyed Peas
Use Somebody Kings of Leon
Just Dance Lady Gaga
Poker Face Lady Gaga
Closer Ne-yo
Don't Trust Me 3OH!3
Cool Down: Lucky Jason Mraz & Colbie Callait

What I'm Reading...on Kindle:
Still working on Pillars of the Earth...and this one's gonna be a while. Not that I want it to go anywhere fast because I'm loving it, but after a couple of weeks I'm only half way through. I hear there's a sequel, World Without End, which may be up next. Since I'll be leaving for my Aruban paradise vacation in 1.5 weeks, I'm on the lookout for good beach reads...please leave suggestions in comments!