Pop Culture Blast

Monday Morning Pick-Me-Up: 'Serial' Returns for Season 2

Plus a Will Ferrell appearance as George W. Bush, a Christmas cover from Sleater-Kinney, and another Seahawks win.

By Seth Sommerfeld December 14, 2015


Podcast nerds across the country let out a collective squeal of glee last Thursday as the nonfiction reporting storytelling podcast Serial returned for its second season. This time around Sarah Koenig and her team look at the case of Bowe Bergdahl, the U.S. soldier who was captured by the Taliban and held for five years after he abandoned his post in Afghanistan in 2009. There are so many angles for the podcast to explore: why Bergdahl left his post (which is what the first episode covers), his time in captivity, the lives lost trying to rescue him, President Obama's trade of prisoners that led to his release, the military trail he's currently awaiting, and more. If you haven't already done so, catch up by listening to the first episode ASAP. We all know everybody's going to be talking more and more about it as the weeks progress, and you wouldn't want to fall behind and feel left out.


Casual music fans generally like the Killers' 2006 album Sam's Town. But you know who loves Sam's Town? Musicians. It's one of those records where the professionals' adulation absolutely dwarfs the public's feelings. It helped rekindle Rocky Votolato's love for music, and now David Bazan has released a cover of "Read My Mind" as part of Polyvinyl's 4-track Singles Series. It's an enchanting stripped down version of the track with synth swells backing Bazan's emotionally gruff voice.


The field of Republican presidential candidates is a mess. Donald Trump's continued involvement at the top of the field is enough evidence to make that clear. But who can come to the rescue in this time of peril? Dubya. In this week's Saturday Night Live cold open, Will Ferrell reprised his famed role as George W. Bush, and made the case for electing W for a third term by slamming the current field of hopefuls (including his brother, Jeb). Turns out there are still plenty difficult words to pronounce, and plenty of laughs to be had as a result.


When done right, improv comedy is magical. When done wrong... yikes. Adam McKay (director of Anchorman and The Big Short) managed to densely pack in the cringe-inducing bad improv troupes in this online bit for The Late Show. The premise is that the absent Stephen Colbert will fill in the other half of the insane scene that takes massive unnecessary jumps. Good luck with that, Stephen.


As disappointing as the early season was for Seahawks fans, the 12s seem perfectly peachy at the moment. After all, the team looks like it might not lose again this season. The Hawks continued their winning way on Sunday, destroying the Baltimore Ravens 35-6. Russell Wilson remained atomic fireball hot, tossing 5 touchdowns to the emerging 1-2 wide receiver punch of Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett. (And no, Wilson's not the MVP, Seahawks homers. Until the Panthers lose a game, Cam Newton is the favorite by a mile. The whole season counts, and Russell only had one game with multiple TD passes through Week 10.)

The rest of the regular season looks to be very easy. The Seahawks only have the woeful Cleveland Browns, the disappointing St. Louis Rams, and the Arizona Cardinals (likely resting its starters after locking in the #2 seed by Week 17) left on the slate. Winning out would probably mean a first round matchup against a possibly sub-.500 NFC East champion, which would obviously be ideal. Then again, the last time the Seahawks played in a first round game where one of the teams had a losing record...

Oh, also Pete Carroll got up on the lockers after the game for some reason...

When you're playing this well, you can be a little bit crazy.


Finally, if you're looking for a change of pace from the standard holiday music, here's Sleater-Kinney covering "Merry Christmas (I Don't Want to Fight Tonight)" by the Ramones at a show in Cleveland last Thursday. Hey ho ho ho, let's go!

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