(The following is part of the Super Pop! Super Summer Blog Tour and a review copy was provided by the publisher)
One of the best times I had at Book Expo America was sitting with artistic editor at Zest books, Daniel Harmon to discuss his upcoming SUPER POP!
It was a lively conversation where I got the inside scoop on the development of his funny, snarky, educational guide to movies and books.
The book came to him while listening to podcasts and hearing them do recommendations for various things. He realized there was a lack of the style of blogs and websites (such as mine) who took the time to find a way to speak in a commercial tone that curated the power of pop-culture through film, music, television and more. He wanted to create something that could actually teach teenagers what to be looking for without being lost in that big world of it all. An in print version of a Television Without Pity but with a Teen advisory board feel. So he set off on trying to figure out what type of book that would be and he landed on lists that would guide young people through the difficulties of life.
The first list he came up with was Surviving the Wild, with the 1997 film The Edge starring Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin in a tip topsy film which is exactly about surviving in the wild, amongst bears and much more that would spoil the film (although Harmon comes close to it in his overview, it is more about delivering information about a movie one should see to learn, not about the twists).
Designing the lists and writing the info took months and late late hours of research and writing. When he didn’t know as much about a book or film, he went back and watched it again to write about in a concise paragraph that equally tied into the subject of the list. Many things he felt deserved to be recognized or recommended ended up not making the book because of the list concentrations.
One of those biggest regrets that he couldn’t use because he decided to not do a “How to survive a Break-Up” list was CONTEMPT. Either the book by Alberto Moravia or the Jean-Luc Goodard film based on it.
Despite this lacking of certain entries and a few entries where I personally disagree with Harmon’s own assessment of the production (be it book, film, tv show, or song) he has found an excellent way to concisely put together pop-culture recommendations in an easy pick up, get a taste, put down, come back later style perfect for its demographic and a definite thing for folks of all areas of pop-culture expertise to pick up.
I want to mention that there shall also soon be an e-book edition which will provide youtube, imdb, and amazon links making it much easier to follow up on the recommendations.
One of the biggest things missing of any pop-culture references in the book is professional wrestling, which came from a lack of knowledge on Harmon’s end and figuring out what the list would be. During our conversation I figured out the BEST thing for this though. A way to educate all on the fun and foibles on the soap opera of wrestling as well as being a guide to surviving something they will maybe one day approach.
HOW NOT TO HAVE A WEDDING OR BE MARRIED
In no particular order here are some of the most exciting happenings in wrestling through the much exciting weddings that traditionally just go really weird, wonky or whatever.
Stephanie McMahon and Hunter Hearst Helmsley : During the ceremonies Triple H appeared on the large TV and proceeded to show a tape in which Stephanie was drugged, kidnapped by HHH and married to him in a drive-by chapel in Vegas. Stephanie’s father would challenge HHH to a fight to get the marriage annulled, during this fight, Stephanie attacked her father revealing that she had fallen in love with Hunter despite how they got married. A few years later, while the couple were having problems, Stephanie had a doctor lie to HHH and say she was pregnant causing them to renew their vows. Before the ceremony HHH found out but said nothing, going through with the whole event, then proceeding to beat up his father-in-law (AGAIN) and then telling his wife they were through! (in real life this couple are actually together, have two children and are very happy).
“Macho Man” Randy Savage and Miss Elizabeth: In real life, these two had been married for 7 years before finally being married on PPV in a ceremony which actually went off without a hitch. Although the road to that wedding despite being a real couple was quite bumpy. In the then WWF she was not introduced as his wife or even girlfriend, but just as a pretty woman who wanted to manage him. That happened and then later they became “a couple”. The first problems came when Savage thought she was cheating on him with Hulk Hogan. They “broke up” and Savage became a bad guy and started hanging out with Sherri Martel. Eventually though the two got back together, Savage asked for marriage and the wedding happened. At their reception things went crazy though, as Jake Roberts gave them a Snake as a gift and then the Undertaker knocked out Savage. This itself went awry as Jake then abused Elizabeth and then later on almost killed her only to be stopped by Undertaker. Before eventually divorcing in the real world quietly and without fanfare, the strains of their real and fake marriage got strained in a feud with Ric Flair. Years after the divorce, the couple reunited as exes still in love in WCW, but this was short lived and eventually Savage got married two more times, once to a porn star and then to a wonderful woman who was in the car with him when he died. Elizabeth ended up both in wrestling and in real life with Lex Luger and eventually also died (years before Savage) in an apparent suicide pact gone wrong from a pill/alcohol combination.
Kurt and Karen Angle: Just like Savage and Elizabeth, these two were married for many years before finally being a public couple on TV. Their marriage as it existed on TV and PPVs in Total Non-Stop Wrestling is a prime example of how not to have a wedding or be married. They started their on air marriage as a couple with problems, with this ending up only to be a ruse to trick an opponent into a flase sense of security thinking the wife at ringside was good for them and not the husband. From there it was a mess. When they did their marriage renewal vows through chaos and insanity, Karen ended up married to AJ Styles instead of Kurt. This turned into a war between Kurt and AJ that Karen eventually in storylines chose AJ over Kurt. In reality though, all this stress and insanity pushed Karen into the arms and an affair with Jeff Jarrett who had lost his long time wife to cancer only two years earlier. This controversy of Jarrett still being a recent widow and being with a married woman led to Jarrett being temporarily suspended. Eventually Kurt and Karen did divorce and Jeff and Karen got married. . In a wrestling vow renewal of Jeff and Karen while Jeff was feuding with Kurt over it all, Kurt destroyed the wedding set and laid out a guest. He then proceeded to beat Jeff in a loser leaves company match (so that Jarrett could actually do a tour of Mexico and later India representing the company) and that was the last we ever heard of Karen in TNA. Although she now accompanies Jeff in his Mexico storylines.