Friday, October 29, 2010

Live From New York!

     The Big Apple.  The City That Never Sleeps.  Gotham.  Empire City.  New York, New York.

I've been counting down in anticipation.  I've purchased my round trip bus ticket, organized my play list, and packed my back pack.  I am ready.
     I'm excited about all of it.  The bus ride, the late night arrival, the subway, the purposeful lack of sleep, the early mornings, the walking, the gawking, the drinking, the eating, the drinking, the shopping, the looking, the drinking, the sun, the rain, the ogling, the food, the martinis, the ice skating, the pictures, the tall buildings, the shootings, the muggings, the bars, the music, the hot dogs, the men, the women, the comedy, the drama, the drinking; every last bit of it, you hear me?  I love it all.  In the event of a worst-case scenario, it'll still take place in the greatest city in the world, making it only an inconvenient-case scenario.  If I get shot in the head and left in a gutter, at least I'll be in New York.  Huzzah!
     There are so many wonderful things about New York.  Wikipedia has assembled a list of movies set in New York City, a list of songs about New York City, and a list of television shows set in New York City. On Sports Night, Dan spends most of the episode waxing poetic about the great city; he's having a New York Renaissance. On Mad About You, Paul and Jamie get serenaded on the subway platform.  On Any Show Set In New York City, the characters are doing something awesome in the city. 

     Also, a tip from a source: the bathrooms in the Toys R Us in Times Square are clean.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

There'll Always Be Tomorrow

     Sometimes I put things off with the honest-to-goodness hope that tomorrow will never come.  I've never been overly concerned with the end of the world.  It doesn't seem like something worth worrying about.  Mainly because if it happens, it happens to everyone.  If it were possible for only a fraction of the world to end, then possibly I'd be more concerned.  But not likely.
     I often put of doing my laundry until I simply cannot put it off any longer.  I don't like doing it, and if I wait long enough, there's a chance I'll never have to do it.  I'd rather be dead having not wasted my living time doing laundry than have my last day be spent doing laundry.  The snag in this system is of course, the world doesn't end all that often.
     This theory only applies to chores.  I still make plans for the future.  I plan trips and buy tickets to events way off in the future.  I'm not going to hole myself up in my apartment not living because the world might end.  I'm simply not going to do the laundry right away, because the world might end.
     Also, I don't actually think it's going to end all that soon.  I am not a conspiracy theorist, or a religious nut, or a ... well, I don't even know what, because I am not close to being it.  I just use it as an excuse to choose the fun thing instead of the responsible boring thing.  Also, the excuse is predicated on the fact that the entire world would just end, all at once, so there won't be people rummaging through my things, finding my dirty laundry, and embarrassing me.  Truth be told, I'd be more embarrassed by dirty laundry in my basket and dirty dishes in my sink than I would be by an accidental auto erotic asphyxiation slip-and-fall.
     The point is, whenever I would say "I'll do it tomorrow," my mother would retort with "tomorrow never comes."  She said it as a cautionary tale, but I always looked at it with a hopeful eye.  If indeed tomorrow never comes, then I'll never have to do the laundry, wash the dishes, finish my homework, or do any of the other boring things standing in my way of pure awesomeness.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Happy Birthday to My Mother

     I'm writing this post with the tiniest bit of trepidation.  The internet makes the world a smaller place, and in some cases that's good, but in some cases it can be bad.  In this case, I'd like to tell the story of my family's response to my mother's impending 60th birthday.  It is not an overly flattering family portrait.  Were they to stumble upon this, they would be insulted.  I'm taking the chance that they will never ever stumble upon this, for many reasons, not the least of which is just how damn busy they are.
     All of my emails and responses have been reasonable, yet I can’t help but think they will find a way to make them unreasonable.  Somehow my two to three line emails are a giant interruption to their lives, not to mention the apparent impending chaos I am proposing. 
-You want US to do something?  For her BIRTHDAY?  Are you the DEVIL?
-Yes, apparently I am.
I simply wanted to know if they were chipping in for some cheesy heart-shaped candy-filled canister with all of our names on it.  And if so, can I get in on that, because I am not about to go to the trouble of doing it myself?  Also, frankly, it gives them the chance to not be upstaged.  Because if I’m left to my own devises, I will pull out the most thoughtful heartwarming gift anyone has ever seen.  Really, I’m trying to save them from embarrassment.  However, I get responses stating that they don’t have time to think of frivolous things like their mother’s birthday because they are too warn down from that little thing called life.  Something they have and have to work hard for, and something that I will never understand.  At least that’s how I infer it.  And usually I’m right about these things, because as I’ve mentioned, I’m a bit smarter than they are, and frankly I think more about it.
     Sister’s email was a two line response about sleep and work, and that’s all she had time for.  Wow.  Amazing.  Brothers-wife’s email was in a similar vain; things are just so busy she hasn’t even stopped for a second to notice that it was October.  Somehow these responses were very condescending.  I beg of them to take a moment or two before hitting reply.  Read the email.  Count to ten.  Construct your response.  Then press reply and write a simple, thought-out, well-meaning response.  Perhaps instead of “I’m so busy all of the time I haven’t even considered starting to think about inane things like your mother’s 60th birthday,” you could write something more along the lines of “You bring up a good point.  We haven’t put our heads together yet, but we will let you know if we come up with anything.  Do you have any suggestions?”  The other bit of it was she simply repeated information to me that I had already provided.  I said “I talked to mom and she said her plan was to X.”  Brothers-wife responds with “well, she’s doing X.  Other than that, I don’t know.”  Yes, I already know she’s doing X.  However, X has nothing to do with her birthday.  Is it too damn hard to say “Oh, we’ll get her a card.”  “We’ll call her.”  Anything?  Jeez. 
      I shouldn’t be worked up about this, but I can see where it’s going, because the main thing about my family is they never ever change.  Lessons are never learned.  I mean, I can learn them, but that’s mostly why I moved away.  The lesson I learned was “don’t live near these people.” 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

What Dreams May Come

     Each of us dreams.  A lot of us like to talk about our dreams.  And that's where it starts to break down.  What happens when we're sleeping rarely translates through conscious words.  A professor of mine in film school felt that dreams were useless, trite, meaningless drivel and they should never be used to tell a story.  After a four hour discussion lecture, I could see her point, but I thought it a little harsh.
     This morning, something else struck me about dreams and the power they have.  Even when we understand our dreams are just pieces of subconscious all blended up, we still can't help but wonder "whoah, why was that in there?"  I had one of those to-the-core dreams, and it occurred to me just how very personal dreams actually are.
     It was something I wanted to hold on to, but I couldn't quite piece it together.  At the same time, I sort of wanted to let it go, to forget it.  If it did mean something, it might not mean the right things.  And if it didn't have meaning, then what business did it have gettin' all up in my subconscious?


Monday, October 25, 2010

Aging Gracefully

     As I grow older, I struggle to stay relevant and keep my finger on the pulse of pop-culture.  And then while in the process of keeping up with it, I found it exhaustively mind-numbing. And I've come to accept that aging gracefully is about more than just covering up gray hairs and smoothing out wrinkles.  It is also about letting the new generation enter the pop-culture world, and of course to look down on them for it.  It's the natural order of things, and who am I to go against the natural order?
     Years ago I read an article about the way music buying habits change as people age.  To sum it up: at age 27 people stop buying new music, and they buy fewer singles.  They'll buy new albums put out by their favorite bands, but they are less likely to buy new bands' new albums.  And they'd rather have the whole album than the single.  I was probably 25 when I read the album and I thought "Hm, maybe other people, but not me.  That won't happen to me."  I was shocked when I was 29 and realized I didn't buy singles, and wasn't interested in new bands.  I couldn't relate as well, but I was really looking forward to new releases from Ryan Adams, Lucinda Williams, etc.  A ton of breaks sort of fell on my head.  They were right.
     There are, of course, always exceptions.  I've found new music and purchase it and every once in a while I'll get just the single.  But by and large, I understand the study and its point within the overarching anthropological study that is life. 
     I like being relevant.  I enjoy being able to keep up with all the references made on television, in movies, in books, in articles, and coming from my 16-year-old nieces mouth.  On the other hand, I also rather enjoy growing properly into my curmudgeonly exterior.  What fun is getting older if you can't remind young people how much better it is to be older?  They may have their youth, but that fades, and their things are stupid.  Our things are classic. 

Friday, October 22, 2010

A Little Television and A Lie: Reviews.

To finish up the week full of reviews, I'm going to cover the television I consumed over the weekend.  Some was recorded from TiVo, some from DVD, and some on Hulu.  Also, I actually did finish my book, so even though I quite sternly said no to a book review, I'm going to throw in a few lines.

How I Met Your Mother: Season Five.  The last disc of the season: I starting watching on Friday night, drifted off the sleep mid-way through, and finished it on Saturday morning.  The first two seasons of this show were great and I was dismayed that I hadn't watched them live.  The third season was pretty good.  The forth and fifth season exist.  The biggest problem with the show is the worst character, the one we could all do without, is Ted- the protagonist.  He's the jerkhole telling the whole story.  Without him, we lose the structure.  We would also roll our eyes at the screen a lot less. I've invested so much time into it by now that I have to see it through.  I still love Marshall and Lily; they may be world's best couple.  And Barney is awesome.  I would believe that NPH has his own writer.  And Robin is tolerable, she has her place.  I've noticed, however, that I laugh less and I notice the laugh track more.  That's bad news bears.  Also, soon, the math isn't going to work out.  The show continues to be successful, and since the premise is all about how Ted meets the mother of his children, we can't find out who the mother is until close to the end.  But trap: the kids are about 15-ish in the year 2030, which means they need to be born in about 2015- in 5 years.  And even though television time is a little more sped up than real people time, the show is signed on through 8 seasons, so 2013.  That's pretty much down to the wire.  And I have serious doubts that the show can get back to it's initial awesomeness and make me care who the mother actually is in two years.  Ted's a whiny bitch and I wouldn't be surprised if the mother were a test tube.

Grey's Anatomy. On Hulu.  It's not good, but it's not awful either.  And on a rainy Saturday morning, it's a nice excuse to stay in bed a little longer.  It happened to be a beautiful Saturday morning, but still, staying in bed is awesome.  The people are still pretty, but I won't care if the hospital blows up and *oh the irony* the only people who can save the wounded were all blown up with it.

Private Practice. On Hulu.  How did this get on my computer screen?  It must have been an auto-play setting or something.  It's not good.  Everyone whines about everything, all the time.

Melissa&Joey. On Hulu.  If I had cable, I would actually watch (or at least TiVo) this show. It's cute enough to hold my attention, and I give Melissa Joan Hart and Joey Lawrence credit for not giving up on acting and for apparently honoring whatever contract with the devil they signed to produce another ABC Family thing together.  It's not the sharpest of wit, but it has a few laugh-out-loud moments, and the writers seem to be paying attention to the episodes they've already written.  It wouldn't survive on network TV, but I'm glad it's out there.  It is kind of like a Who's The Boss remake, but Who's The Boss was awesome, so I don't see the problem.

The Good Guys.  TiVo.  I don't particularly fancy cop shows, but I've warmed up to this one, because it's more than just a cop show.  It's a comedy.  I hear it's running the risk of being canceled.  That figures.  I think Bradley Whitford as Detective Dan Stark is hilarious.  It's a part we're not used to seeing him in, and I enjoy the range.  His mustache is actually hilarious, especially when he introduces it to people: "I'm Detective Dan, this is my stache."  I also like how they use the word stupid as a superlative.  Also, the partnership between Detective Dan and Detective Jack (Colin Hanks) continues to grow.  In the early stages of the series, there was a feeling that Dan was kind of a screw-up and Jack was just a by-the-book straight-edge guy.  A lot of the conflict came from this.  However, as the show progresses the relationship builds and they start to see eye to eye.  Kind of like Mulder and Scully did, but funnier, and with fewer aliens.

Modern Family. TiVo.  This is one of the best written comedies on today.  Smart, cutting, and with a giant load of heart to boot.  This is a show I will actually pause in the middle of to soak up the joke a little more.  Or rewind that 2 seconds to watch the subtle look Julie Bowen shot to the camera.  There was fear the mock-umentary style was being over done, but I think it's just an accepted style now, and we should embrace it, because Modern Family does great things with it.

Cougar Town. TiVo.  It has its own special style that maybe if you think about too much you'll kinda go "wait, people can't behave that way for reals."  Luckily it's not for reals, so we can enjoy its awesomeness.  This show is packed full of heart.  The heart is what drives it, and the funny comes along for the ride.  Since I watched this almost a week ago, I'm struggling to recall my favorite bits of this episode.  But they come up with their own catch phrases ("Swallow the sword," both literally and figuratively) and games (Movie Mash Up!  How fun!), and I respect that.

Raising Hope. TiVo. It only kind of holds my attention.  It's new, so I've been giving it a chance.  It's not not funny, but it's not something I'm dying to watch every week either.  Sometimes I actually forget I even recorded it.  I usually remember when I'm rewatching Running Wilde and the end of Raising Hope is at the start.  Then I go back and watch it, and it delays the crappy part of the day a little longer, but I'd rather have it get canceled than all the shows I love that are apparently in jeopardy.

Community. TiVo.  Actually, I rewatched this.  That's how much I love this show.  They got stuck in a KFC space simulator that was being towed to a remote area by a rival community college.  Clearly, that deserves more than one viewing.

Juliet, Naked. Book.  It wasn't over the weekend, but I finished it this week.  Using the GoodReads rating system, I would give it 3 stars.  I liked it well enough to keep reading it, which doesn't always happen.  But I didn't like it so much I would tell others to immediately go out and get it.  There were douchey moments of the book.  Moments where the description of how great this one thing slash person was were so over the top there is no appropriate metaphor for just how over the top it was.  Hornby was attempting to validate his characters' obsession by telling his audience it was worth obsessing over, and why.  As a person who obsesses over things, I wanted to jump right in, I wanted to believe it.  But nothing has ever been as good as Hornby wants us to believe this made up thing could have been.  In the end I liked the protagonist a lot less than one should like a protagonists and I sided with the antagonist way more than one should.  This initial assessment led me to believe that perhaps this was intentional: maybe Hornby had actually delicately swapped their positions mid-narrative.  I would also like to believe this is true, because I don't want to not like anything Nick Hornby does. (Also, I simplified that explanation a bit; there isn't one true pro and one true ant in this story, such as the case with many modern stories, and life in general.  But it was the easiest way to sum it up.)  If you're already a Nick Hornby fan, I think it will be an enjoyable read.  The style is definitely there, and that's easy to get wrapped up in.  However, I wouldn't recommend cutting your Nick Hornby teeth on this one.

Someone told me I needed to get a hobby.  Clearly, I have a hobby and it's watching television and movies, and reading a little.  For a brief second and I noticed how long this post was, I felt guilty for all the viewing.  Then I quickly got over it because quite frankly, I love doing it.  Also, please note, this is not a list of everything I watch all the time, every week.  This is actually only what I watched on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday; mostly on Saturday. (That might make it seem more pathetic. Conundrum!)  And then the book I finished on Tuesday.  It probably should have more specific for the week, but sometimes they run together and I just remember the general good feeling that covers my mind: like a brain blanket.

Yes, I'm trying to make that a thing people say.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Bringing Up Baby: A Review

Bringing Up Baby is commonly referred to as a screwball comedy, and all screwball comedies made since pretty much have Bringing Up Baby to thank for their existence.

It's easy to dismiss old films simply as the groundwork, believing they won't be able to hold your attention as well as new films.  New films speak directly to you, they understand what you're going through, and they are shiny.  I admit, sometimes I fall victim to neophilia, and the thought of watching something in black and white makes my eyes roll to the back of my head.  But this passes after I fast forward through all the boring opening credits and the shiny part comes on. 

My interest in the film was piqued as a study into the early days of comedy; my interest was sustained by the true comedy.  Also, I think it's important to watch the early stuff so when critics and film studies majors refer to all comedy as derivative, you know what they're actually referring to.

Bringing Up Baby is a good old fun time.  The cast is amazing (Katherine Hepburn, Cary Grant (swoon)), and there's a leopard!  There are actually two leopards.  Crazy!  Also, there's a Brontosaurus, which I believe at the time, they didn't know wasn't real.  Or maybe in Bringing Up Baby Part 2*, when Dr. David Huxley had to put the skeleton back together after he and Susan brought the whole thing crashing down in the end (SPOILER!), he discovered the truth about the whole Apatosaurus / Brontosaurus thing.

A much better, more in depth review can be found here: Scenic Routes: Bringing Up Baby.  Mr. D'Angelo has spent much more time with the film than I have, and analyzes it accurately and beautifully.

There's a lot of history and lore surrounding this film.  Since withstanding the test of time, it feels to us that it was probably always successful; embraced as a masterpiece when it was released and consistently at the top of everyone's list.  This is not really the case.  It has more of an Anchorman story: the short gist is that Anchorman wasn't actually a box office hit.  It only became popular after-the-fact, though a lot of pop-culture junkies not truly in the know pretend that it was always a hit.  It seems odd to discuss Bringing Up Baby and Anchorman in the same paragraph, but I'm just trying to offer some perspective.  Initially, people didn't appreciate Bringing Up Baby so much.  DVD sales have really helped it though.

Also, when googling Bringing Up Baby, a lot of non-film related links come up.  Most are about baby-showers and others are about health care.  Neither are as awesome as the film.

* There is not actually a Bringing Up Baby Part Two.  

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

It's Kind of a Funny Story: A Review

It was kind of funny.

I was tempted to just leave it at that, but indeed, there was more to it.  It's the story of Craig, a 16-year-old boy who thinks he might want to kill himself.  But only if killing himself were temporary.  He knows his family would actually be really upset by it, and he doesn't want to hurt his family.  So he's not really suicidal, but it's the best term he can find for it.

It seems as though he has a case of teenage angst, but instead of manifesting itself in some sort of goth-brooding-too-cool-for-school way, it's manifesting as depression with suicidal tendancies ideas.   He's really just as confused as the rest of us, but as he puts it, he just doesn't know how to handle it.  The truth is, a lot of us don't know how to handle it.  We don't all end up in the psychiatric ward of a hospital, but for him, it seemed like the next best idea. 

When you get right down to it, he doesn't have it so bad.  But it feels bad to him, and instead of ignoring it, or turning to drugs, alcohol, cutting, vampires, or other popular outlets that would land him in a psychiatric ward, he decides to just go straight to the psychiatric ward.  The child/teen wing is under reconstruction, so he gets put in with all the adults.  Yay Zach Galifianakis.  

The story essentially takes place over 5 days, and boy, what a long 5 days.  Though, I suppose without work and other things non-hospital oriented to fill my time, I could squeeze what seems like a months worth of growth and discovery into 5 days. 

When it comes right down to it, I think Craig's thing, his problem, his issue, the source of his angst, lies in that he basically lives in his head.  In his head are wonderful things, like Queen concerts, brain maps, and Coney Island.  But he keeps them inside and it makes him all twisty. The visuals are pretty fantastic, and I actually wanted more of that bit, to get inside his head more.  

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention my favorite aspect of it: stress vomiting.  I don't want to think about the logistics of how they pulled it off; I want to believe Keir Gilchrist can puke on command.

It was kind of a funny story, and it was heart-warming and sweet, and a little dark at parts.  It was full of small precious moments that add up to be greater than the sum.  A small scene that sticks with me is a flashback-type scene where young Craig can't draw.  He sits in his fort attempting to trace New York City. Upon hearing their five-year-old yell out "shit," the parents (Jim Gaffigan and Lauren Graham) share a look and Mom goes to investigate.  The most striking part of this scene, to me, is that five-year-old memory Craig is actually 16-year-old Craig during the discussion, until the last moment, when we see the hopeful look in the adorable five-year-old's eyes.  Because this is how we often remember things; as our current selves having these conversations in tiny bodies.  Perhaps that only makes sense in my head. 

Mostly, I do think it was funny.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Stranger Than Fiction: A Review

Flours.  I brought you flours.

The movie is a few years old, but I forgot how awesome it was so I put it in my DVD player on Saturday night.  It is still awesome.

It's the story of Harold Crick.  And even more than that, it's the story of the story of Harold Crick.  It's also the story of Karen Eiffel, the woman who is trying to write Harold's story, as it's happening, because she's making it up.  And his watch.  The story is also about his watch, and at first, that may seem hokey.  But once you get it, you go "Oh, his watch.  That's why."  Or, you don't really get it, but it's fine, because it still ends up being really great.

It's actually difficult to review this movie because I just want to think about it and then gush.

This movie is superbly cast.  It seems as though it won some sort of casting lottery where awesome actors ran at it in Velcro suits and the best ones stuck.   It's a great Will Ferrell vehicle, and it's also one of my favorite Maggie Gyllenhaal movies.  And I love Queen Latifah, and Emma Thompson.  And Dustin Hoffman.  And even the bit role by Tony Hale is great. It also has a great soundtrack, largely showcasing Spoon, along with other alt greats such as Whole Wide World.  

Thinking about it while writing this makes me want to watch it again.  

Something just now struck me- she still writes on a typewriter.  It's never seemed odd to me, but I suppose it should.  Except everything is just so well done, that there's really no reason to question it.  It works better.  And I hate that I even doubted it for that nanosecond the thought crept in my brain.

I wanted to add a video clip to add a little more beef to this post.  I don't want to give things away, so I decided to put the trailer here.  It's a pretty good trailer too.

Little did he know...four of the greatest words in fiction. But this isn't fiction. This is Stranger Than Fiction.  Yes, that was horrible.  I apologize.  But seriously, next time you need a good mind blanket, a soft covering all over your brain that makes it feel good, put on this movie.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Secretariat: A Review

This is a very middle-of-the-road broad-stroked Disney film.  I was interested in it based on the fact that it was essentially a sports movie, and I love sports movies.  I love sports movies more than I actually like sports.  I have no affinity towards horse racing, but I like to watch movies about it.  I also won’t pick up more of an affinity towards it after watching the movie.  But movies about sports tend to be about the heart of the whole thing, and that’s what I love so much about them.

In Secretariat, I left feeling as though I wanted to see more horse.  I had a few notes for Randall Wallace (director) and Mike Rich (writer).  It’s a pretty typical note actually:  show, don’t tell.  I was repeatedly told how much the horse liked to run.  Other than the few races he ran, I didn’t actually see him run very much.  I was told how very tough-as-nails owner Penny Tweedy was.  There was a scene or two where this was demonstrated, but mostly I had to just believe what the others were saying.  Perhaps I like my tough-as-nails housewives to be even more obstinate than they were actually allowed to be in the early seventies.  I can concede that point. 

The horse races themselves were exciting; loud and larger than life.  I wanted more of it though.  Maybe training montages are cliché, but they are also awesome.  It certainly wouldn’t have made the movie worse.  As far as I could tell, the horse just knew what to do.  They said they trained him, and I suppose I have no reason to doubt them, but damn it, show me!  And I can’t help but feel jipped by the scene of the family watching the horse race in their living room.  As much as I understand the point of the juxtaposition of the family watching from home, at least give me some inter-cut action.  The strongest part of the film is the horse racing, and they chose to withhold it during The Preakness. The Preakness, for crying out loud.  I don’t know horse racing, but I know if you’re wife’s horse wins the Preakness, and you were watching it from home, you’re a douche, and the tension created from the inter-cut would mean a hell of a lot more than watching you high five your stupid kids.  Just sayin’. 

There was no mistaking who the bad guys were; they were clearly labeled in their black hats and evil accents.  Not really, but it was close.  There was just no subtlety. 

It was a good story for sure, but we already know it’s going to be a good story – it’s about a Triple Crown winner.  But it was told with a mediocre tone.  It was unbalanced, and painted with the broad stroke.  I’d probably watch it again if it were on TV.  And it may be on TV very soon.

A Week of Reviews

I watched a whole bunch of stuff this weekend, so this week, my blog will be full of reviews.  It will mostly contain movie reviews, though maybe I'll throw in a few television reviews.  Book reviews?  No.  I'm two-thirds of the way through Juliet, Naked, and it's just not fair to review a book before I finish it.  Though I can say it's good enough to actually finish.

If I were reviewing my weekend, I would give it a solid A-.  I pushed aside all of the chores and errands I needed to do in favor of, well, in favor of not doing them.  And frankly I feel great about it.  Who needs groceries and clean clothes anyway? 

Friday, October 15, 2010

Live Things

I have mentioned my love for 30 Rock before, so perhaps it seems as though I am biased when discussing it.  Although, I don't see why liking something creates a bias.  It doesn't actually. I would be biased if I had given birth to it, not because I like it.  I like it because it is good.  So, moving on.

A live episode is a tricky thing.  Going live is exciting because you never know what's going to happen.  It's exciting for the people who are actually doing the live thing- the performers, the crew, and the live / studio audience.  (I think those terms are vague enough to cover everyone involved.)  It is also exciting for the television audience, but it is less palpable.  And frankly, the better the performers and crew are, the less exciting it can be for the television audience. (Especially if you don't understand why it's exciting.)

The trick here is the performers and crew do not want to screw up.  They are professionals, and to them, knocking it out of the park is hitting every line, every mark, and every joke.   That is what is exciting for them.  They get that awesome feeling, and it's an energy that is palpable to the live audience, and is dulled a bit when it is translated through wires and tubes through the magic of television.

Television audiences tend to be simpletons.  They love to see the mess ups.  They want to watch professionals screw up.  I don't know why; maybe it's a reminder that celebrities are human and schadenfreude is the greatest emotion ever, maybe it's because we're all jerks. I admit, I love the Debbie Downer sketch when everyone breaks.  I watch it over and over, and I laugh and laugh. 

It can be a vicious circle, the whole laughing at people breaking thing.  It's funny, so we laugh, but it can also ruin the rest of the finely scripted material, and then we're disappointed.  (And by we I mean the simpletons, not me.)  When it's perfect, the questions of "why do it live?" can be raised.  When it's not perfect, we ask "why did they do it live?"

There are several reasons putting on a live episode of a show that is not normally live is tricky.  One of them is timing.  30 Rock is a single camera show with a style that is derived from that choice.  The pitch perfect timing and pace of it comes from the brilliant writing and acting, and it also comes from the editing.  It's a process.  It's done so well, that on a week to week basis you don't notice how well it's done.  Editing is one of those things that is only noticed when done poorly.  It's not done poorly on 30 Rock, so you don't notice it.  So when you take the editing process away, the pitch perfect timing falls solely on the writers and the performers.  I think it was done perfectly.

Another reason: the medium.  30 Rock is shot on 35mm film.  35mm film is beautiful.   Tomes have been written about the awesome superiority and beauty of 35mm film.  It makes a person feel good.  Live shows cannot be shot on 35mm film.  I shouldn't have to explain any further.  (If you don't get it, take about 5 seconds to think about it.  If you still don't get it, please don't breed.)  Live shows use different cameras, a different medium.  I don't know this for sure, but I would imagine they used HD video cameras and it is possible they also used studio television cameras.  Either way, it's not film, and it produces a different look.  And as with so many things in film, this look is translated to a feeling.  That first frame hits you and you're shaken a bit, because this is not the 30 Rock you're used to watching.  But it's ok.  It's just a little different; it's special.

The live episode was very meta, and beautifully executed.  Here is where I would like to simply list superlatives to describe the show, as though I were giving it an award: expertly conceived, brilliantly written, skillfully acted, superbly directed.  I could go on, but I don't want to oversell it.  *If I ever write about things that are meta, this episode will be a good reference. 

I've read a few negative comments about it, and to those naysayers, I say: you're wrong.  I think the naysayers just don't get it. They're confused by so many things and can't sit back and enjoy the magic that's happening in front of them. 

I could continue, but for Mary's sake, I'll give it a rest.  Again, I love 30 Rock more than I love my mother, so I have a lot to say about it.  However, this does not make me biased. (*wink*)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

What I love about Halloween

I love the candy.  That's all.

I prefer clever costumes to all out I-can't-sit-down-in-this-bear-suit costumes.  Although, now that I just mentioned it, a bear suit would be awesome.  Mary, you should go as a bear.

By clever costumes, I mean ones that use irony or are incredibly literal.  Or metaphorical.  Whichever one is actually funnier.  At the last Halloween party I went to, I taped a black box to my back and said I was a refrigerator magnet.   I was actually wearing a T-shirt with an outline of Michigan on it, and we had a Michigan shaped magnet on the fridge.  This helped to seal the deal.

I like Halloween for other people, and I have enjoyed it in the past.  But I'm not up for the fanfare when there's no one else to share it with. I'm not really familiar with my neighborhood yet, but I haven't seen any children, and I haven't seen any decorations on doors. It is still a bit early for it.  I remain cautious.

I'm not crazy about the scary aspect of Halloween.  (Though I do support scary and gory over dressing up like an effing princess.  Unless it's a zombie princess, move on little girl.  No candy for you.)  This is simply because I don't enjoy being scared.  I think it actually makes my heart weaker.  Please don't scare me.  Creepy and gory are ok.  Pranks are cool, as long as they don't actually make me scream and think you might either be dead or trying to kill me.

I once participated in a haunted house where I dressed in all black and hid in a make shift cage.  I was supposed to jump out at people when they walked by.  I remember a young boy and his mother; they genuinely thought the cage was empty and approached it.  They examined it pretty thoroughly while I just waited, luring them in.  I think the little boy pissed himself when I yelled "boo."  I felt an odd mix of pride and shame.

Turns out I'm a pretty mixed bag when it comes to Halloween.  This year, I just want to eat the candy.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Words you don't hear anymore ... because you're a professional.

EXPLICIT CONTENT!  Just so you know, there's swears in this.

There are a few words and phrases I'd like to bring back into rotation. I was inspired by this clip from Better Off Ted. It was a great show, but canceled, because apparently people don't like great things. I'm guessing it got lost in ABC's lineup, falling victim to the over-saturation of work place comedies. Regardless, I always say (and I may have taken this from somewhere and I don't remember from where now) you take your inspiration where you can get it. So for this, I got it here:

A few years ago I was having a conversation with a lawyer friend of mine and the subject of vulgarity came up. Apparently a colleague of hers lamented the fact that certain words had gone out of rotation; words like motherfucker mostly. She took a moment to remind her colleague that it's because they were lawyers. Lawyers don't oft speak like that because it is unprofessional. Not to say that it is completely off their radar, and that they never say it, but it's not every other word, or a casual greeting, like it may have been when the colleague was in middle school and trying to impress other middle school aged boys. 

I think about how often I used to swear and how little I swear now. I feel as though I've just grown out of it. The weird part is I really wish I hadn't. I miss being at the top of my game for stringing together vulgar insults. In fact, I'm not sure I was ever there. I don't think I was ever near the caliber of these classically trained thespians. My hat is off to them.

As much as I would love to bring some of these words back into regular rotation within my own vernacular, I also understand and respect the boundaries of my professional work space. It would indeed create a hostile work environment if I were to call my coworkers "drug-addled twats" and "sister-fucking hillbillies." (Thank you Andrea Anders.) Television is not real life. And that wasn't even television, it was the outakes.

So that leads me to bring back those words within my personal life, at home. The problem here is I've simply fallen out of practice. I end up calling the toaster a "hot piece of fuck," and yelling at the remote control.  It unravels quickly and soon I stop watching my language when I'm talking to my mother. I've been relatively unguarded for a while and she's pretty used to it, but adding in fresh new swears might induce some sort of sugar coma. I did use the word twat with her once. She didn't know what it meant, and I chose to not really explain it well, hoping she wouldn't take my poor explanation for gospel and start using it in her own casual conversation. Though it would spice up her bible study.

So for lack of a sounding board, I get less creative in my vulgarity.  I do like the idea of an insult equation, since it combines two things I enjoy: insults and equations.  You tiny-eyed monkey-twat fucker.  Hm.  I'll keep practicing.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Dear Fox, Mr. Nielson, and Congress-Person:

How do I get a Nielson box?

First, I'm surprised they're even still relevant.  And second, I want one.

Too many awesome things are taken off the air and too many shitty things are left on the air because I don't have a Nielson box.  Either I need to get one, or there needs to be a write in portion for the ratings.

I did a little bit of research and it turns out you have to randomly selected to become a Nielson family.  They say it's completely random, and that it is so random, they can't even tell you how you might be chosen.  This seems suspect to me.  It makes a mind like mine wander off to conspiracy land.

I want to join in the campaign to save Running Wilde.  I've loved Mitchell Hurwitz since he was writing on The Golden Girls. Some of the best episodes were penned by Hurwitz. I actually wrote a paper in grad school about him, and I got an A on it.  He keeps getting cut short, like in The Ellen Show,  and I think it's because the right people don't have Nielson boxes. I also think Will Arnett is a comic genius. I'm convinced that if he does something that I don't think is funny, it's my fault for not understanding it.  And James Vallely is probaly pretty neat-o.  The point is, somebody (Fox) needs to know that people (me) want to keep watching this show.  So I am actually going to write a letter.

And now the pressure is on.  According to a reliable source, one letter is equivalent to 10,000 viewers.  I must do those other 9,999 viewers proud.  I must be eloquent, yet concise.  I bet executives hate wordy letters. Something short, sweet and to the point.

Dear Fox,
Please don't cancel Running Wilde.

Hm.  Maybe it needs something more.     

I don't agree with Columbus, but I'll take the day off.

And that pretty much encompasses my activism and hypocrisy in one sentence.  I've been silent this week because of some sort of crisis of conscious I've been having.  That blog posts remains in the draft folder.  I started to come full circle on the issue.  I noticed a lot of people use their Facebook stati to promote or support certain issues.  I suppose this does no harm.  Though it brings to mind a few things:
1. What does it really do?
2.  There are so many issues out there, can there really be a Facebook group for every one of them?
     2a. Yes, there probably are. 
3.  Doesn't this create an over saturation of ideas and organizations that essentially do nothing?
4.  I don't know Mark Zuckerburg, but I saw The Social Network, and I don't think Facebook was created in order to tout political ideals.  Social ideas, maybe.  But nonetheless, I don't like the idea that if I don't make my status reflect the latest political fight, I'm probably a bad person.  I then choose to make my page politically neutral on all things.  It is also pushing me to cancel my page, due to #3 above.

So what appears to be laziness is actually a calculated effort to not get caught in an accidental web of hypocrisy.

I would love to tell everyone I know why we should no longer celebrate Columbus.  The story we were told as children about the great explorer is pretty much all lies.  It's not even secret lies anymore.  Any book about Columbus tells us the same thing:  he was awful.  He killed millions of indigenous people.  He raped and pillaged and lied, and probably didn't recycle.  But he was able to sell the story well to those that would buy it, and five hundred years later, we choose to sweep the horrifying details under the rug and enjoy the day off.

Of course I'm not about to go into work anyway just because I don't agree with why we're getting the day off.  It's not really an option, the office is actually closed.  But, as unpopular as this would be, I would support revoking the day off.  In exchange, of course, for another day off.  Such as Eleanor Day (Eleanor Roosevelt's birthday:  Oct. 11, 1884) or Lucy Day ("I Love Lucy" premiered on CBS-TV: October 15, 1951).  We could put it up for a vote.  But a real vote, not a Facebook vote. 

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Dear Tuesday.

     I used to love Tuesdays.  Just absolutely love them.  There used to be good things happening on Tuesdays, and it was often a good television night.  I would have an awesome class schedule, and lunch with my friends.  I would have candy for dinner, ice cream for dessert, and a puppy would lick me clean.  Not any more.  Today, I wanted to break up with Tuesdays.  It was like Tuesday was in some sort of wormhole, but a bad one, where time moves super super slow.  And nothing at all happened.  And it felt worse than a Monday because the memory of the weekend had already faded.  And it's not as good as a Wednesday, because at least Wednesday is hump day.  I already knew why Monday was bad, and all the other days.  But I thought Tuesday was special.  I mean, really, I used to love Tuesdays.  It really let me down today.    
    I'm going to give Tuesday another chance, but it is on thin ice.
     In other news, Reece's Peanut Butter Cups come in Dark Chocolate now.  It was a delightful surprise when I opened my bad of Halloween candy. I had assumed they were just different wrappers for the holiday.  But alas, different flavors.  I was so happy I almost peed urinated.  That's how I express incredible happiness. 

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Pressure of the Weekend

     A few weeks ago, I noted that before I worked in an office Fridays didn't really mean that much to me.  But now that I do, I really really like them.  The reason they didn't mean much to me before is because I usually had to work on the weekends; a slave to the world of food service/retail.  The weekend didn't mean as much.  I didn't get those awesome two days off that you get when you have a grown-ups job.  Not that I was complaining about it (I did complain about it sometimes), but it was just a fact.  The nature of the beast if you will.
     My first week in the office I was basically high on enchantment.  And as the week went on, everyone kept looking forward to it being Friday.  It seemed they truly were working for the weekend.  I observed. 
     A few months have passed and now I totally get it.  It's amazing how quickly the transformation happened.  I love Fridays now.  I totally get it.  I say "Friday" in a hushed tone out of respect.  Waking up on Friday is like waking up on Christmas Eve the Wednesday before Drunkfest.  You know the big day is right around the corner.  Head down and power through, your pool of jello and giant screen TV are at the other end of the tunnel.  Or whatever your fantasy might be. 
     Now what I'm dealing with is the pressure of the weekend.  It's only two days, and I gotta make that jello pool count.  Of course if there really was a jello pool, it would totally count.  That's not the point. Around 1 pm on Friday afternoon I start getting anxious.  What am I going to do with my weekend?  Am I going to stick to the plan?  Will I go grocery shopping and do the laundry and act all grown-uppy?  OR, will I watch every conceivable minute of sitcom reruns and movies I can get my hands while while stuffing myself with carbs and sugar?  Honestly, lately, it's been a healthy combination of both.  Walking that ever narrowing line between adolescence and adulthood.  Adultolescence.
     And there is more to this story, but I just received a text requesting my presence at a party, and I cannot disappoint my fans.  The HIMYM marathon will wait until tomorrow.