Bits and Pieces: News from Around Pop Culture

Here are a few tidbits of pop culture news that piled up in my "to-write-about" list during the previous holiday week.

1.  A journalist I was working with last Friday showed me the new Fujifilm FinePix Real 3D W1 camera.  It doesn't need those annoying glasses to display the 3D illusion.  He showed me the results, and I must confess that I was impressed.  I'm a big critic of the recent 3D trend in movies and the attempt by the television industry to expand into 3D TV sets, but I think there may be a future for three-dimensional still photography.  Unlike the gimmicky movie trend, which I still consider to be unworthy of all the hype and high costs associated with it, the glasses-free 3D still camera is really amazing.  The depth-illusion is very noticable from multiple angles, and as I mentioned no glasses necessary!  If this is the future of 3D technology, if they can make it work like this for film, television, and other media, then we might be on to something.

2.  When Randy "Macho Man" Savage passed away after suffering a heart attack while driving, it brought back memories of watching him during his heyday as one of the greatest stars of professional wrestling.  While others like Hulk Hogan deservedly get the credit for bringing the WWE (then known as the WWF) to the mainstream, Savage's over-the-top personality and undeniable athletic ability were big reasons for transforming the fringe sports spectacle into a pop culture multimedia phenomenon.  Besides his in-the-ring achievements, he started out as a minor league baseball player, a commercial spokesperson for Slim Jims, and an actor (probably best remembered as Bone Saw McGraw in Spider-man).  Other legendary pro wrestling superstars have tragically slipped this mortal coil, but the death of the "Macho Man" is like saying good-bye to an old friend.  May he rest in peace.

3.  Mary Hart retired from Entertainment Tonight (or ET for short).  In this day and age when there are countless entertainment magazine television shows on the air, ET's impact as a trendsetter in the genre is often overlooked.  Before Access Hollywood, before Showbiz Tonight, before even TMZ, ET set the standard for celebrity news, entertainment business coverage, and pop culture reporting.  Even though she was frequently mocked for being vapid and overly bubbly, Hart nevertheless was a fine host who brought genuine enthusiasm to the topics she covered.  Her ceaseless smile was contagious and made viewing the program for 30 years a pleasure for all fans of entertainment.  Whoever fills her shoes will have a tough challenge making people forget that giddy personality and those trademark legs.

4.  Amazon officially sold more e-books than print books.  It is clear that digital books and e-readers are more than just a passing fad.  While print may never completely disappear, it is time for naysayers Iand the publishing industry) to accept the fact that e-books are here to stay.  Many readers enjoy the convenience of getting their content electronically.  Who can object to being able to carry a library of thousands of books anywhere you go in a device no bigger or heavier than a small trade paperback?  With the proper cover, reading a Kindle is very similar to reading a print book.  And the Kindle has set the bar for affordability, readability, power and storage capacity, wireless online connectivity, and much more.  It may not be the market leader forever, but it deserves credit for bringing e-books to the mainstream.  As I've said before, anything that encourages more reading, whatever the medium, deserves our praise and support.

5.  The Arnold Schwarzenegger scandal depressed me.  I always hate to see examples of infidelity and celebrities doing stupid things.  Schwarzenegger reached the pinnacle of Hollywood entertainment and the zenith of California politics, only to see his personal life come crashing down because of his dumb-headed indiscretion.  Now, his show biz comeback is in doubt as his Governator cartoon is on hiatus and his rumored participation in the next Terminator movie is in limbo.  I'm sure his thoughts are on more private matters as he endeavors to salvage whatever remains of his family life.  I hope he can find a way to make amends for the pain he has caused to the loved ones around him.  Maybe there is still another positive chapter in his life rather than having this tabloid turmoil be the final legacy of his otherwise incredible life story.