From a pop-culture standpoint, I could not be more excited about this summer. At the box office, it’s a comic-book fan’s dream come true (Iron Man, The Dark Knight, The Incredible Hulk, etc), while at the record store (…), a number of highly anticipated projects are finally seeing release. The small screen has a bit less going on, but maybe that’s for the best, especially if it helps the networks sustain the excellence we’ve seen this Spring (LOST, 30 Rock, John Adams, Battlestar, etc). Here are the three days/events I’m looking forward to most:

1. June 17th: Pacific Ocean Blue by Dennis Wilson will finally be reissued, complete with nearly 20 unreleased tracks! Dennis was brother to Brian and Carl, with whom he formed the greatest band of all time: The Beach Boys. Dennis was the cool one, the only one who surfed, a true rock n’ roll wild man a la Keith Moon before drowning(!) in 1984. After Brian checked out and retreated to bed in 1967, it quickly became apparent that Dennis had a similar gift. His songs started appearing on Beach Boys records in 1968, and soon thereafter he started planning a solo album. Nothing materialized until Pacific Ocean Blue in 1977 and man, it’s great. Watch out though: Pacific Ocean Blue is really raw. Dennis was in a lot of pain (7 marriages, serious alcoholism, constant Beach Boy-dysfunction, etc), and it comes across, big time. But like everything Beach Boy-related, it’s really beautiful. Also like everything Beach Boys-related, it’s been under a cloud of litigation for the past 20 years, keeping it out of print. So this is a big day!

Also being released on June 17th is Stay Down, the long awaited reunion album from The Smoking Popes. This Morrissey-endorsed Chicago pop-punk band broke up in 1998, following frontman Josh Caterer’s dramatic Pentecostal conversion, but last summer they reunited for a couple of gigs. I’ve heard a couple of the new tracks and they rock! For anyone interested in the intersection of Christianity and (good) rock n roll, this is an event.

June 17th also sees the release of new records from two of my favorite guilty pleasures, Weezer and Coldplay.

2. July 11th: Hellboy II: The Golden Army hits theaters! I loved the first one, and everything I’ve been hearing about the follow-up sounds incredible. Director Giullermo Del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth) has promised it’ll be even more eccentric and weird. Just check out the trailer:

3. Late July: No official date has been set for the premier of HBO’s new mini-series Generation Kill. All we’ve been told is July sometime. This is the next project from the creators of The Wire, a seven-part drama about the first phase of the invasion of Iraq. As if that weren’t enough cause for excitement, it stars Mbird friend, Mark Menchaca.

What are you looking forward to?