Linda Holmes

Linda Holmes writes and edits NPR's entertainment and pop-culture blog, Monkey See. She has several elaborate theories involving pop culture and monkeys, all of which are available on request.

Holmes began her professional life as an attorney. In time, however, her affection for writing, popular culture and the online universe eclipsed her legal ambitions. She shoved her law degree in the back of the closet, gave its living-room space to DVD sets of The Wire and never looked back.

Holmes was a writer and editor at Television Without Pity, where she recapped several hundred hours of programming — including both High School Musical movies, for which she did not receive hazard pay. Since 2003, she has been a contributor to, where she has written about books, movies, television and pop-culture miscellany.

Holmes' work has also appeared on Vulture (New York magazine's entertainment blog), in TV Guide and in many, many legal documents.

Look, Miss Utah USA, Marissa Powell, gave a pretty unimpressive answer to a question about income inequality at the Miss USA pageant. Let's all agree on that.

But what, exactly, did the circumstances call for?

Last Thursday, the NFL announced a policy change in which only clear plastic bags would be allowed into stadiums — one per person. Nothing they can't see through. The league says that the change is meant to ensure safety while speeding up security checks and preventing gate backups, which sounds good enough at the outset.

Well, this is news.

MTV, VH1, and CMT sent out a press release this morning announcing that on July 4th, which they're calling "Music Independence Day" (!) (!!), they will "dedicate their channels exclusively to music."

ALL DAY LONG. If by "all day long," you mean "from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern and Pacific." (Hey, what's a day, right? 12 hours, 24 hours, these are semantics.)

If you woke up this morning thinking, "I really need to hear NPR's Linda Wertheimer say the words 'noisily unwrapping her Twizzlers,'" have I got good news for you.

Unless you've seen every awards show since the dawn of time (which would make you The Unluckiest Person In The World), you can't really answer the question of whether last night's opener of the Tony Awards, hosted for the fourth time by Neil Patrick Harris, was the best opening ever.

There was considerable mouth-dropping from publications such as The New York Times at initial reports this week that NSA programs are gathering both telephone records and information gleaned from large tech companies like Google and Microsoft. But as those reports have settled in, reactions have gotten more complex.

"Mr. Lashes, 34 years old, is an agent for Internet cats."

Here's a question: If you go to the movies and the scheduled showtime is, say, 7:30, when do you actually expect the movie to start? If you said 7:30, you go to very unusual screenings. If you said 7:45, you're closer to what many experience. If you said 7:50, you're still in range: There's often some advertising other than trailers, the limit for trailer length is 2 1/2 minutes, and theaters sometimes run seven or eight trailers. Eight would add up to 20 minutes.

I hate to break this to you, Men Of The Entire United States (Especially Actors), but The Atlantic has just run a lengthy piece pronouncing you un-charming.

At first, Benjamin Schwarz seems to mean "good conversationalist" when he says "charming." He says:

I hate to break this to you, Men Of The Entire United States (Especially Actors), but The Atlantic has just run a lengthy piece pronouncing you un-charming.

At first, Benjamin Schwarz seems to mean "good conversationalist" when he says "charming." He says:

You may be familiar with the San Diego Comic-Con, a constantly expanding convention for fans that started as a niche event for comic-book nerds and is now a sprawling pop-culture event.

It really only hit yesterday: It's the end of The Office.

After nine seasons, Dunder Mifflin is going dark Thursday night, with an hour-long retrospective at 8:00 and a 75-minute episode at 9:00 that may or may not feature a cameo from Steve Carell. There have been denials of an appearance from him that could be read as emphatic or tiptoeing, depending on whether you focus on the obvious implications of those denials or the technicalities that might allow for wiggle room.

Pop culture does not mean celebrity culture; I have perhaps said this more often than anyone you're going to meet. Who dates, who gets a divorce, who has a tantrum, who has surreptitious photos snapped of him by mangy, grim opportunists — these things are not culture of any kind, popular or otherwise, unless there is something else at stake. They are curiosities, and given that we are curious creatures, their pull is not surprising, nor is it new, nor was it invented by the internet, or television, or Americans.

Monday night was the big night for unusual dresses (you may remember a previous post about Madonna's bunny ears): the Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, known as the "Met Ball." It had a loose punk theme (because the costume exhibit it's celebrating is punk-centric), but everyone got up to quite a bit of her own thing.

[CAUTION: This is all about Sunday night's Mad Men. Obviously, if you haven't seen Sunday night's Mad Men and you still intend to, you might hold off.]

It's reductive to conclude that on far too many episodes of Mad Men, nothing happens. Of course something always happens: someone feels something, or learns something, or is locked in a continuous internal struggle with something. A dynamic continues to simmer, a memory comes to the surface, angels and demons battle for somebody's soul.

It's generally understood that something about MTV was revolutionary. Perhaps it was the music video, perhaps it was the short attention span, perhaps it was The Real World, but something about MTV had enough cultural permanency that it made for a fine oral history from Craig Marks and Rob Tannenbaum, called I Want My MTV, in late 2011.

Meet Tony Stark at the opening of Iron Man 3: insanely wealthy, possessed of every toy, and traumatized by an attack on New York that has left him restless, anxious, belligerent, and given to both hunker-down security measures and fate-tempting swagger. He declares his total lack of fear, then builds the fortress walls higher.

Let's step back.

UPDATE, 4:08 p.m.: In addition to the institutions mentioned below, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum has announced that admission will be free on Wednesday, April 17.