When the editors at PopBlerd! asked us to come up with a list of our top albums for 2012 I felt a little left out.I’ve always been mainstream when it comes to music, but lately, when it comes to the pop culture world, I’ve been really mainstream.

I hear names like Beach House and Ocean (SEE: Frank) and think of places I’d like to go, not artists I’d choose to top my Best Albums list.

I’m a starving insurance agent (I just opened my own office … it’s a work in progress) with a wife and three kids. When I say starving I mean we’ve had to cut some expenses that include TV, attending movies, and Internet at home. You’re probably wondering why I write for a pop culture site … let’s hope the fine people in charge of this site are not wondering the same thing.

Since I love writing, and have been with PopBlerd! for a few months, I still wanted to play my part in our Year in Review so I asked Mr. Blerd if I could come up with my 12 Pop Culture (and some sports) Moments of 2012. Mr. Blerd told me to get on it!

I decided to do some research before I typed up my list. Wouldn’t it be embarrassing funny lame bad if I named my top 12 and 11 of them happened in 2011? Where would my street cred be then? Though I probably lost any hope of that in paragraph 3.

So you won’t be reading about how I stood in line for an iPhone 5. Shoot, I just got my first Smartphone two weeks ago and am on a month-by-month no-contract plan. Plus, what does an iPhone 5 do that is so important and so much better than my no-contract Smartphone? Check email? Surf the net? Play Angry Birds Star Wars? Check, check and really addicting!

I’m not going to talk about the love for Fifty Shades of Grey. I can’t believe some lady made millions for writing smut like that. I’ve been writing stuff like that in chatrooms for years – and all for free! Now who’s the fool?

Nor will I talk about The Hunger Games. Hunger Games? Sounds like the Johnson household after we’ve skipped lunch.

I don’t know what the heck a Honey Boo Boo is. I thought it was a spin on Honey Badger. Oh, after a Wikipedia search I found out she’s a chubby little girl from down South. Big deal I live in a rural town where the local hangout is called “The Loggers”. I see Honey Boo Boos every day.

I won’t talk about TIME magazine’s breast-feeding cover. I’m all for breast-feeding but not until the kid can pick his breast preference, “Mommy, I want the other one!” Instead my brother and I made our own TIME magazine version for a Mother’s Day card. Yah, that’d be me on the stool!

Hey, grown ups need nourishment, too.

Here are the 12 moments you WILL read about in KJ’s 12 Pop Culture (and some sports) Moments of 2012 … in order of course!

No. 12 – Meet the Bluth Family

I know, I know Arrested Development came out in 2003 and ended in 2006, but my wife and I have been watching a TV series a year for the last three years and this year we were introduced to the Bluth family. In 2010, we got extremely hooked on Lost – amazing! In 2011 we went to Friday Night Lights – “Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose!” And this year it was Arrested Development. We’ve always been Seinfeld fans and have declared it the Funniest Sitcom ever! But for the first time in years we actually felt like a show could go laugh-for-laugh against Seinfeld. Hilarious and we look forward to the possible movie and upcoming Season 4 that will be shown only via Netflix.

No. 11 – The Anti-Yogi

There were only two movies on my Summer Movie Hit List. The first one you’ll read about later on in this list, the second was the comedy Ted. Written, directed and starring (via voice) Family Guy creator Seth McFarlane, Ted is an offensive, dirty and somewhat charming comedy about a grown man and his lifelong buddy – a teddy bear. I’m not a big McFarlane fan, though he does voice the Emperor in Robot Chicken’s Star Wars, and I worried that it was a comedy where all the funny parts were in the preview. Wrong. Sure if you’re easily offended then this isn’t the movie for you, though to be fair Ted does pick on everyone, but I was pleasantly surprised that it was hilarious and that my 70-years-plus grandparents both liked it. As did a bunch of other people as it finished No. 8 in the box office grossing over $218 million.

No. 10 – King Again!

I jumped on the LeBron James bandwagon back in 2002 when he graced the cover of Sports Illustrated as a high school junior and a cover that read “The Chosen One”. I told all my buddies about him, and I stood up for him when people argued that SI should not have put a high school athlete on the cover. I was excited to see how he’d live up to the hype – and he did – for the most part. I had a LeBron No. 23 Cavs jersey. I watched only Cavs games. I was surprised when he took crap to the NBA finals in only his fourth season. I thought the Cavs needed to build around him. I watched as they said they would build around him by picking up Mo Williams, Delonte West and an over-the-hill Shaquille O’Neal. (Still dislike Carlos Boozer for leaving Cleveland for Utah after only one season with LeBron – they could’ve been special). I watched in frustration as he seemingly gave up in what would become his finale with Cleveland.

Then came The Decision. I traded away my Cavs jersey to my younger Miami Heat bandwagoning brother. I was bitter the entire 2010-11 season. I never rooted harder for a German, as Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks whipped up on the Heat and their “Big Three.” I felt James had become the A-Rod of the NBA. Lots of talent but no guts.

And then in 2012 the Heat made their second trip to the NBA finals against a team that should’ve been OURS! That’s right, I’m from Seattle and the Thunder team that was in the Finals was OURS! So I was forced to root for the Heat and LeBron and just like that I remembered why I liked him from the beginning. Because he was something special. A 270-pound marvel who could play any position on the floor and play it better than whoever he was guarding. I rooted hard for LeBron to get that first title. And I’ll root hard for him to keep adding more rings to his fingers.

No. 9 – Another Boy Band Craze?!

I have to admit it. From 1999 – 2001 I fell for the Boy Band craze. ‘N Sync, Backstreet Boys, I liked them both – and I’m straight! Then 11 years later come five more white kids that all the teenagers adore. There was no way I was jumping on this Boy Band-wagon. Didn’t have to. My 4-year-old daughter did it for me. It’s her first Boy Band crush and she made sure to point out that she liked “the yellow haired one,” which for those counting at home is Niall Horan, the Irish mate. I wasn’t sure how to react. So all summer we blasted “That’s What Makes You Beautiful” in the minivan (goodbye any chance of street cred I had left) along with …

“Call Me Maybe” became a lip sync phenomenon this summer! OMG! Everywhere I turned people were posting athletes lip syncing on airplanes to Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe.” I’m like, “Whatever!”? Sure it was somewhat catchy and easy to make a phone with your hand, pretending that you were going calling someone – maybe – but still it was crazy! But here’s my number so call me maybe?

Funny … I wrote the above paragraph a few days before I found this article about the aforementioned athletes singing “Call Me Maybe” on airplanes. I’m going to give you a sneak peek into No. 7 on this list. I just recently read that Michael Phelps said that the “Call Me Maybe” video was key for the Olympic swim team. You make the call, maybe.

No. 8  – MARVEL-ous!

I rooted against The Avengers because of another Summer blockbuster that I wanted to dominate the box office. More on that in a bit. But my 7-year-old son wanted to watch it so I obliged and we both ended up having a great time watching Iron Man, Hulk, Captain America, Thor, Hawkeye and my favorite, Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, team up to form the Avengers. It was fun, it was entertaining, it was everything a super hero movie should be. Director Joss Whedon did a heckuva a job making it more of an ensemble picture, than allowing any one character to stand out, though Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark does steal the show, and always will. It’s the whole playboy personality. Something I will never know about.

The rest of the year it was Avengers in the Johnson house. Avengers Lego’s, Avengers action figures, Iron Man for Halloween and this fun rendition of DC vs. Marvel that my 7-year-old drew.

No. 7 – Summer Showstoppers!

Michael Phelps vs. Usain Bolt!

OK, so that race never happened but for the second straight Olympics these two came out as the ones to remember. That’s not easy to do in an event that’s every four years.

Phelps struggled in his first couple of races, finishing fourth in the 400-meter Individual Medley, the first time he missed a medal since he was a spry 16-year-old in the 2004 Games in Athens. He followed that up with back-to-back silvers and just like that we heard excuses of him not working as hard in the offseason as teammate Ryan Lochte, or that maybe his Subway diet wasn’t working and he wasn’t in tip-top shape. Maybe Phelps just wasn’t focused or didn’t have the motivation. Then Phelps did what Phelps does and he won gold, and then he won another gold and then he added two more becoming the most decorated Olympian in history with 22 medals, 18 of them gold. It was must-see TV on NBC even if we had to wait hours and hours to watch it.

The same held true for Usain Bolt. How was he going to follow his 2008 Olympics when he Bolted (see what I did there?) into superstardom with record-breaking times in the 100- and 200-meters? This time though Bolt had real competition in fellow Jamaican  Yohan Blake. Except that he didn’t. Bolt won both races becoming the first person to win all four events in back-to-back Olympics. Thanks to gold victories in the 4 x 100-meter relay he’s also the first man to win six Olympic gold medals in sprinting.

See Bolt Run: Insane Bolt!

Who is the better Olympian? I’ll call it a tie.

No. 6 – Goodbye Nora E

Not one of the more talked about deaths of 2012, but writer/director Nora Ephron and her films have always played a small part in my life. My third favorite movie of all-time and my “comfort movie” is When Harry, Met Sally…, a romantic comedy that she wrote that starred Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan. Need relationship advice, man or woman, and you can turn on When Harry, Met Sally… I even own the script and can pick it off the book shelf at any time and read it like a novel.

Yes, men and women can’t be friends because the sex does get in the way. It’s true.

The 71-year old Ephron, who died of leukemia in late June, also wrote four more of my favorites, You’ve Got Mail, Sleepless in Seattle, the Christmas black comedy Mixed Nuts and the underrated My Blue Heaven.

But I’ll miss her most for her work on When Harry, Met Sally… and for giving us one of the best closing lines of a movie – EVER.

No. 5 – What’s a Gangbang Style?

It was the late Summer version of “Call Me Maybe.” Athletes dancing in the end zone, cheerleaders and their mascots making their version of the video, all to something called Gangnam Style, or what my mom calls, Gondom Style. Yes, rhymes with Condom Style.

The video was fun. The beat was catchy. The lyrics were … IN KOREAN! But 8 million plus viewers still made it the most watched YouTube video in history. That’s right – IN HISTORY!

Oh, and I know I’m peppering you with photos, videos and stories of my family. I told you, I don’t have a lot of pop culture time so deal with it. Here’s my 1-1/2 getting in on the Gangnam Style.

No. 4 – We Will Always Love You!

The news of Whitney Houston’s passing was shocking. Not as much as Michael Jackson’s a couple years back, but still shocking. She was young and sure she had some recent issues, but man could she sing! She always got my vote in the Celine-Whitney-Mariah debate. Her music was the soundtrack to the first 12 years of my life. I can still hear my mom singing, “I’m Your Baby Tonight” while she drove us home from school. I can still hear “I Want to Dance with Somebody” blasting on the radio as my mom made us dinner. She’ll be missed but thankfully her music will continue on. Whitney, “I Will Always Love You.”

No. 3 – The Return of the Man(ning)!

A few weeks back I wrote a story on this site about my love for Peyton Manning and how he tested my love of the Colts (still Colts and ChuckStrong!). For nine years I’ve followed Manning and the Colts and when I heard that the Colts were going to let him go I was devastated. I didn’t want him to go elsewhere. I loved the Blue and White! I wanted more Manning-to-Wayne.

Like a blue chip recruit, Manning made his rounds to possible suitors. Miami (yuck!), San Francisco (fingers were crossed), Tennessee (this ain’t college) and Denver (not too bad), with the hope that my hometown Seahawks would take a look at him (never surfaced). He ended up in Blue and Orange and with a team that already had a running game and a pretty stout defense. His comeback has been, simply put,  amazing, considering some wondered if he’d be able to snap on the chin strap again. His first few games were sloppy. Wobbly passes and a three interception first half. Then the Broncos allowed Manning to become Manning, running no-huddle offenses and calling plays from the line of scrimmage. Since then he’s won the AFC West, led the Broncos to eight straight victories and looks to be headed to an unprecedented fifth Most Valuable Player award, with a possible Super Bowl trip in the future. That’s why I love him!

No. 2 – A Dark, Dark Night Rises

I had this at No. 1 until I realized I don’t want to close out my list on sad note. I had looked forward to The Dark Knight Rises for a year and a half. I had my tickets in place, though not for the midnight showing but for Friday evening instead, the fault of my buddy who couldn’t go to the 12:01am showing. And then some whacked out lunatic in Colorado decides to call himself the Joker and shoot up a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises, killing 12 moviegoers and injuring 58. That’s right, just people, like myself, that wanted to watch the final movie of the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy. The movie was headed for box office history when this dude derailed it. Theaters talked about cancelling shows. People talked about not attending the movie at all. People didn’t feel safe to attend a friggin’ movie!

It wasn’t going to stop me, though there were scenes in the movie – especially one that takes place in a stock exchange setting, with locked doors and open fire – where you wondered, “Hmm, I’m wondering if everyone else is thinking the same thing.” It’s disturbing, and unfortunate and hearts were breaking everywhere for the people who passed and the people who witnessed it.

It did take a little something away from the movie. Like I said, I had looked forward to this film for over a year, and unfortunately months later when I think of The Dark Knight Rises I’m thinking of the poor people in Colorado and some idiot sitting in a cell with an orange jumpsuit on.

The movie itself was great, though I still prefer The Dark Knight, mostly because I’ve always been a fan of the Joker, ever since reruns of Cesar Romero’s performance in the Boom-Pow-Wow TV versions. Anne Hathaway surprised me as Catwoman, and Tom Hardy was great as Bane, but unfortunately it will be remembered – at least for a little while – for this sad, tragic moment.

No. 1 – Wishing Upon a Death Star

I won’t go into much detail as why this made my No. 1. You can read it by clicking here, or typing “Star Wars” in the search field above. I will say that two months later my excitement over Disney purchasing Lucasfilm has grown. I’m still nervous as to what Episode VII will look like but I can’t complain that there will be more Star Wars, more often. Instead I’ll leave you with some of my favorite Disney/Star Wars memes from the past two months!

Happy New Year Everyone!



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