Friday, February 18, 2011


I wrote my first blog in 1985, but it wasn’t called blogging then.  There wasn’t a name for it.  The internet hadn’t yet been invented by Al Gore, and Facebook and Twitter were 20 years away from foisting the mundane thoughts and activities of the roiling masses into cyberspace for all to be nonplussed by.  But in my junior year at Arizona State University, sequestered in a dorm room at Sahuaro Hall, I began publishing (read:  typing via IBM Selectric) what I called film capsules, a one- or two-sentence take on a movie playing at a nearby theatre.

I had abandoned the comfort and security of my small liberal arts college in middle-of-nowhere Minnesota to study theatre acting in one of the nation’s fastest growing metropolitan areas, and I was depressed.  I was slow to make friends and took schoolwork (and myself) far too seriously.  All my friends (and my girlfriend) were 2,000 miles away.  So movies became my refuge.  My fellow dorm residents, aware of my pastime, began querying my opinion about the movies I had seen.  I grew tired of repeating myself.  So I started posting the film capsules on my door.

That was the beginning of The Pope’s Picks.  Over the years it evolved into an annual collection of reviews and Oscar® predictions (a ‘zine, to use the nomenclature of the ‘90s) sent to family, friends, and colleagues.  During the mid-‘90s I expanded the ‘zine to include video and revival house reviews, and special features, such as Tanks for the Memories (celebrating the year’s biggest money-losers) and Attack of the Summer Movie Glut (celebrating those artful studio tent-poles).  But I got old and tired and went back to basics in the early 2000s: current reviews and Oscar® predictions.

And then five years ago, my friend Michael Musa somehow persuaded me to put on a live show of movie and Oscar® commentary at a local watering hole the night before the Oscars®.  The Pope’s Picks LIVE was born.  I unwisely insisted on adding sketches, songs and trivia.  Happily, in year two Kurt Ramschissel stepped up and began contributing his own hilarious version of the Irving Thalberg Award (recipients have included Steven Seagal and Gary Coleman).  Helped no doubt by large quantities of alcohol, garlic fries, and the promise of karaoke afterward, folks have responded well.

Which brings us to the end and to the beginning.  The Pope’s Picks are now returning to blog form.  The plan is to post current reviews throughout the year at this blog spot.  And as each year ends and the Oscars® roll around, I will post a year-end review, together with Oscar® predictions and commentary.  At least that’s the plan for now.  The live show is also in transition.  This year it will be on-line (with a live after party for LA peeps).  Next year, who knows?  Check back for updates.

(If you’re interested in participating in the on-line live show this year, you can find us on Facebook at The Pope’s Picks vs. The World.)

So, welcome to The Pope’s Picks blog.

1 comment:

  1. I love that you've been at this since 1985. I love and am also shocked that I have been both following and depending on it since 1992. That's almost 20 years of Popes Picks, and I have not found a better Oscar pick/movies you have/should have list seen in all this time. Thanks Brian.