Thursday, January 20, 2011

Not Offended by Ricky Gervais

By the end of The Golden Globes Sunday night, you had a good sense of the animosity being directed at Ricky Gervais for his barbs and witty commentary that made fun of nearly all the stars there. Celebrities were attempting to make sly comebacks to Gervais’ one-liners, but they were failing miserably. A couple examples: 1) Gervais mocked Philip Berk, President of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, by saying, “I just had to help him off the toilet and pop his teeth in.” Berk came out and fired back, “Next time you want me to help you qualify your movie, go to another guy.” 2) Before introducing Tom Hanks and Tim Allen, Gervais ran down a lengthy list of award-winning movies Hanks has starred in and then continued, “the other presenter is Tim Allen.” Hanks and Allen fired back.

Hanks: We can recall back when Ricky Gervais was a slightly chubby but very kind comedian.

Allen: Neither of which he is now.

The celebs’ comebacks weren’t funny, it’s the fact that they were seriously offended which made it funny. Why was Allen offended? Next to Hanks, Allen may as well do commercials. The celebs didn’t get the irony in attempting to send a barb back. News flash: you are paid actors, not paid comedians and Ricky Gervais is a paid comedian. What do you expect? For him to be kind? These shows need a comedian to make the night entertaining, to lighten the mood, to mock the one of many shows Hollywood puts on for themselves to celebrate their achievements and greatness.

This just in: Celebs, you aren’t funny. Gervais is. You’re easy to make fun of, especially when you make crappy movies. Get over it.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Movies: The Social Network

Last week I was listening to an old broadcast of Fresh Air (by old I mean three weeks old). David Edelstein, NPR's regular film critic, was listing his twelve best movies of 2010. I hadn't heard of 75% of them and if you aren't a film critic, then you probably hadn't heard of some of them either. Edelstein finished his list and he was asked why The Social Network did not make it because the film is the favorite in a lot of critic's circles. I listened to his response, which served more as a reminder that I needed to see the movie before awards season so I could access its worth compared to other frontrunners this year like True Grit, The Fighter, and The King's Speech. So I did. And not having seen The Fighter yet, I couldn't compare it with the SN, but I enjoyed True Grit and The King's Speech quite a bit more than the SN.

The SN is a good movie, but it's not great. I enjoyed it because people spoke very quickly throughout the movie. The whole film was an intense exercise in listening. Apparently, people who attend Harvard and/or score a 1600 on the SAT speak quickly and esoterically all the time. I love a movie that commands your utmost attention just to keep track of the arc of the film or who the hell is who. The acting was believable. Justin Timberlake puts in a respectable performance and by film's end you hate his character, Sean Parker, co-founder of Napster because he essentially talks himself into a 6 or 7% share of Facebook by suggesting the company move to California and he helps acquire some funding. But really, are we to believe Facebook wouldn't have taken off without his aid? I hope not. The SN's greatest shortcoming is that the viewer doesn't know the accuracy of the film. Mark Zuckerberg said that the film was not accurate at all, except for his college wardrobe at the time. So, what to believe? We know the lawsuits happened, but there is so much more to the film than lawsuits and beyond them we don't know what really happened during the creation and flourishing of Facebook. Jesse Eisenburg plays a pouty Zuckerberg who doesn't show much emotion at all from start to finish. Maybe that's the way Zuckerberg is in real life, but that doesn't make him hard to portray. If it were up to me, and it's not, I wouldn't consider Eisenburg for any awards because of this and that the competition this year is intense--plenty of performances outshine Eisenburg's.

Prior to seeing The SN I had heard that the movie portrays women in a disrespectful and degrading light. It does do that, but remember, the guys the movie centers around are in college and, whether or not it was an accurate portrayal, Sean Parker is no outstanding figure either. The characters are into women and sex. Are the women on Harvard's campus as good looking as the ones in the movie? There is no way. Are the women on Harvard's campus as easy as the women in the movie? Possibly, I don't know. Are there guys in college as interested in getting some as the guys in the movie were? You bet. So, for the most part, the portrayal of women in the SN was accurate.

I will write again soon about another movie. My closing thought: The SN was good, but man, not one of the finest movies of the century so far, like some critics have described it. I will say this though, The Social Network is better than Facebook.

Bad Days...

Happen when Sarah Palin appears above the fold in The New York Times.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Here's To...

Awarding mediocrity. There were 35 bowl games this year. I didn’t watch most of them, but from what I can tell they mostly sucked. This should come as no surprise. What kind of games do you expect to have when you put a 6-6 team up against a 7-6 team? Bowls used to be huge rewards for teams at the end of successful seasons, but now you only have to be at .500 to get in? Really, it’s despicable. And what it boils down to is the NCAA making more money off of its indentured servants. More bowls mean more money and who is opposed to that? Well, for one, I am.

It used to be fun to stumble across a bowl game on TV. You once had the guarantee of the two teams playing in said bowl game of actually being good. Now, not so much. I was about as excited to catch a bowl game over the holiday season as I was to find an infomercial for the Shake Weight.

Of course, classics like the Rose Bowl proved to be good games still, but enough with the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, etc. Had Wyoming won two more games, there was talk of a bowl game. Are you serious? Wyoming was piss-poor this year and putting them in a bowl game would have done the same thing as most of the other games did, it would have just contaminated the airwaves.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

First Pics of 2011

This New Year's celebration consisted of me taking a lot of pictures of the family's Scottie dogs, eating great food at restaurants, cooking excellent food at home, and me taking more pictures of the dogs because it is awkward taking picture after picture of a human sitting in the same room just to practice taking pictures with a new camera.

Here, Max and Molly take in the view from the 12th floor and watch our first substantial snow of the year fall by the window.

Chowing down at the Root Down. Awesome!

King Crab Legs for dinner on New Year's. Succulent.

Max overseeing his kingdom.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Airing Out 2010

I want to sit down and churn something out about 2010. I want you to read it and be astonished at what you’ve read, be in dismay about the year I had because maybe it was boring, but I made it sound like so much more than that.

2010 was anything but boring, but I don’t know if I can convey that anymore. As it did like the year before, 2010 started off with a trip to Florida, but through January, February, the birth of my nephew, and a conference championship my mind was with my MFA applications to ten schools. I had labored over them for almost a year and I felt like I applied to the entire spectrum of writing programs out there. Starting in late February, or was it early March, the rejections started to trickle in. First, was Wyoming. Then I can’t remember who came next. But I do remember there were nine more and the agony of going to the mailbox every day was sustained until the last letter arrived in April. I took it—the last letter—up to the apartment with me. The blinds were drawn. It was dark. I lied on the couch. I didn’t weep. I didn’t tear up. I yelled. I fucking yelled.

March is a blur. I had the whole month off. I don’t even know what I did. I wrote about the rejections. I did an annual spiel on the Oscars, self-published of course. There was a power outage and I wrote about, writing, what I believe to be, some of my best words in 2010. On the way to work one day I pulled over and threw the key to the Longmont house into Lake Michigan, cursing it in the air and hoping some feelings would sink to the bottom of the lake with it. And then Kate and I went to Wyoming and Colorado. It was cold and snowy and being in Laramie was tough knowing I wouldn’t be going to school there in the fall.

I wandered aimlessly through April, wallowing in failure (a little like I am now, but hey, that was a huge chunk of 2010). I not only coached practices, I did practices. I threw myself into them, destroying my body and finding out that I can still be fast in the pool. When I do my best in sports I tap a vein of aggression and I get lost in it. I had plenty of fuel.

The venting continued in May, one of the most stressful times of my 20s. We had made our plans for the next two years and they were denied from us. In the middle of it all we went to Mexico to escape it. We were successful in that, but the stress was waiting for us the day we got back. What next? What now? Then I went to Colorado and spent a few nights with good friends looking for our new home. Then, a wedding in May for two people in love. But it was tough and weird at times, stages of the healing process. Getting everyone together again felt right and wrong, stages of the aging and living process. Instead of a strong bond among all of us I was acutely aware of an aging history held together with feeble attempts to reestablish community. Honestly, I thought the shit was going to hit the fan this week. It didn’t so much. Some things went better than expected and for the other things, well, words went unsaid and feelings unshared, traits once rare among this group.

Like Milwaukee knew we were leaving, it threw us thunderstorm after thunderstorm in June, ephemeral, but breathtaking and humbling exhibitions of power. I searched everyday for jobs. I didn’t land one and started to doubt the wisdom in moving back to Colorado. My Mom visited us one last time in Milwaukee. Kate and I started watching Lost this month on Hulu and we never looked back. Concerning movies and TV, Lost was easily the highlight of 2010 for us. It was outstanding and our devotion to it was respectable.

July started with another vacation. This time we were off to California to see friends married, to see family, and to breath in some salty air. And then we were back in the Midwest for a few more weeks of packing and thunderstorms, one of them giving us seven inches of rain in three hours. Imagine if California got that? In our final days in Milwaukee we shed tears, took a lot of pictures of our apartment, and welcomed my Dad to Wisconsin so that he would help us move to Colorado.

I blogged twice in August. We settled into our new home, not the home we thought we would be settling into, but we thank God every day it wasn’t. We drove up our first fourteener. We went to Wyoming. The West opened its arms for us and we basked in its warm, dry, sunny climate. The proximity of friends and family helped ease the joblessness on my part. And after working for a week, Kate was offered a full-time job.

I wrote a love letter to Milwaukee in September. I witnessed Boise St. give Wyoming an ass-kicking. We finished Lost, with a blitz of 3 episodes, plus a two-hour finale, in one day. And then I got a job and we started P90X.

October: I worked some. Spent some time catching up with friends in Colorado. We had visitors. Colorado proved to be as beautiful as ever. Life went on.

A lot of people voted Republican in November. I didn’t. Are you kidding me? We spent our first Thanksgiving as a married couple with my parents and grandparents. Kate worked through the holiday and it didn’t seem relaxing for her at times, but my busy holiday schedule started at 4:30 the morning after Thanksgiving. November was warm.

In December I’ll tell you now, publicly, that I celebrated a private accomplishment. The month flew by with busy work schedules and the time to relax and celebrate our Creator was upon us in a matter of hours. We had a new camera to document it and the years ahead. The wounds sustained earlier in the year have partially healed, yet I still sometimes find in me a crushing doubt, chanting, “Failure, failure,” at me every time my hands rest on this keyboard. In the waning days of 2010, Kate’s family joined us as we welcomed 2011 into our lives, a year that can’t possibly contain in its 365 days what I want it to contain, but I will greet its every sunrise and toast its every sunset in search of it.