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Scene and Heard: Newest pop culture obsessions

Cassie Belek | Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Every once in a while one of my interests will turn into obsession, and no where is this more frequent than in the realm of pop culture. Let’s face it, I don’t do my homework. I read magazines and blogs and watch TV and movies all day long. How else would I get myself through the long, cold months until spring? Some of my pop culture obsessions are constant – “General Hospital,” Entertainment Weekly, “30 Rock,” any and all celebrity gossip. But here are a few new items I’m obsessing over:

Election coverage

I love election time because it makes me feel like a real political science student. During break, I found myself completely captivated by the Iowa caucuses and each primary after that. But my obsession is more specific. I’m particularly drawn to MSNBC’s coverage of the campaigns and primaries, partly because NBC is my favorite television network, but mainly because I have a platonic old man crush on Tom Brokaw.

Although Tom retired from his usual nightly news job, he’ll pop up every once in a while on NBC or MSNBC. These moments are unpredictable, but they usually occur on primary nights. I have a strange obsession with Tom Brokaw that creeps out my friends, but I think they’re just jealous of our secret love.

“Touch My Body” by Mariah Carey

About a week before Mariah debuted her new single, a friend and I agreed that we were going through Mariah withdrawl. Imagine our surprise when a trusty blog sent us to her website to get a sneak peek of “Touch My Body.” Let’s just say that I’m counting down the days until April 15 when she drops her new album. I have to say that I like the video even more than the song because I love a diva who can bring the funny. With help from co-star Jack McBrayer (“30 Rock”) and director Brett Ratner (say wha?), Mariah shows us her sense of humor again and looks fabulous. I could never see Beyoncé doing a video like this, and that’s why Mimi will always be queen bee.

“All My Children”

I keep up with “AMC” off and on, but it takes quite a bit to get me to start watching religiously again. All it took for me to add a series recording of “AMC” to my DVR this time was an old-fashioned amnesia storyline and the return of daytime’s first African-American supercouple – Jesse and Angie. “AMC” decided to give Ryan amnesia (Maria had it a few years back) and I’m hooked watching how each character reacts to his ordeal. Ryan has forgotten the last four years of his life so he thinks that he is still in love and engaged to Kendall (who is now happily married to Zach) even though he is currently married to Annie.

Meanwhile, Jesse and Angie are back together after it was believed that Jesse had been dead for the past 20 years. It’s a general rule that no one ever really dies in soap operas. Even if we see you as a ghost (which we did with Jesse in 2001), there’s a way to keep you alive. So it’s been heartwarming to see this couple together (since I was just a baby the first time around), and viewers have been treated to retrospective clips to get us caught up on the love story. Supercouples are few and far between these days so it’s always refreshing when an old one comes back.

“Rock of Love 2”

I have an excuse for this one. I met Ambre. She is my cousin’s friend’s husband’s best friend from graduate school. Meeting her wasn’t as complicated as describing my connection to her. But let’s just say that I have some juicy “Rock of Love” gossip and a few hints about what’s going to happen in future episodes. Not only does having background knowledge enhance my viewing of the show, but it also gives me someone to genuinely root for. Ambre seems too smart and normal to be picked by Bret, but at least she has already gained minor celebrity status in Chicago. That’s really all you need in life. You’re only hassled for a few autographs, you get to throw parties with vodka sponsors at bars and you’re forever a member of the VH-1 family (which includes endless opportunities to capitalize on that connection).

Contact Cassie Belek at cbelek@nd.edu

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.