Our Whole Universe Was In a Hot Dense State…

Warning:  The following blog contains perhaps one too many potentially awkward metaphors.  Reader discretion is advised.

I grew up on television.  As a proverbial child of the 90s, television was many things to me before the internet intruded upon our relationship and shamelessly swept me off my feet: babysitter, surrogate parent, forbidden lover, and above all, friend.  I was a “couch potato” — as most modern children with parental-induced agoraphobia are — and unapologetically so.  For a long time, Saturday morning cartoons and family sitcoms were my shit.

Then things changed, as they are annoyingly prone to do.  ABC cancelled One Saturday Morning, family sitcoms became obsolete, and… I grew up.  The Dark Ages of American television had begun with “reality programming” at the sinking ship’s stern and— okay, I’ll stop with the dramatics and put it like this: things sucked until Chuck Lorre gave us The Big Bang Theory.   

TBBT is, quite simply, my crack.  Been onboard since the pilot, own all three seasons on DVD, would name my goldfish Sheldon Cooper if I had a goldfish, etcetera, etcetera.  Lorre (creator, writer, and producer) managed to do what so many in Hollywood couldn’t – he brought the sitcom into the new millennium, making it fresh, watchable, and most importantly, funny (can’t say I’m entirely surprised; he did, after all, do major work on Roseanne, the Holy Grail of sitcoms). 

My love for this show runs so deep that I feel obligated to be completely honest in my critique of its latest season: up until this week’s episode, I was worried.  Worried because the characters weren’t exhibiting any signs of growth; worried because Sheldon appeared to have become a caricature of himself; worried because the jokes were stale; worried because I wasn’t laughing.

Season Four is about one season too early for any show to jump the shark, and yet the signs, which I outlined above, are already there (it won’t happen officially until the writers go COMPLETELY assbackwards and give Sheldon a steady girlfriend).  I just pray that this week’s episode, where the gang hilariously embarked on a weekend getaway to a science conference, marks a turn for the better.  Interestingly, it appears the comedic stylings of Melissa Rauch (Bernadette Rostenkowski) and Mayim Bialik (Amy Farrah Fowler/Blossom) will be TBBT’s saving grace until the writers figure out to do with everyone else.  

But just like with a marriage, I’m in this thing for the long haul.  For better or for worse. In sickness and in health.  And that’s no bazinga.   

Oh, and here’s a little sumthin’ sumthin’ for the other sitcom lovers out there.  
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When Sampling Goes Right

Theophilus London knows what’s up.
This is how you sample a song, make it your own, and still pay homage to the original artist.
While I’m still getting acquainted with his music, the best way I can describe what I’ve heard of this guy’s flow is this: Listening to a Theophilus London tracks is like seeing colours.  Lots of them.  Hey Wonderful samples Stevie Wonder’s 1984 hit Love Light in Flight. Isn’t he the cutest dancer?  Video below.

Is He Trolling Us?

This is what happens when an actor takes himself too seriously.
I’m referring to Zac Efron’s acceptance speech at last week’s People’s Choice Awards.  Whoever decides these things chose to name Efron this year’s Favourite Movie Star Under 25.  Ignore the fact that nobody watches the People’s Choice Awards.  And ignore the fact that Efron was named anyone’s (let alone “the people’s”) favourite anything under 25.  These are discussions for another day.  We’re here to talk about his voice.  Video below.
Get a load of that drawl.  For those of you who’ve never heard Efron speak before, no, he doesn’t normally sound like that.  Dude was born and raised in California, not Louisiana, where, indecently, he spent the last few months filming Hollywood’s latest movie to be based off of a Nicolas Sparks novel, The Lucky One.   His character’s from the South so the only logical explanation I can find for this fuckery is that Efron’s gone Method.  For a Nicolas Sparks movie of all things.  SMH.
And what the hell kind of speech was that?  Remember where you are, Zac.  Or is that asking too much since, evidently, you can’t even remember where you’re from?
I hope he’s just trolling.

That Time of Year

To quote a sassy gay classmate of mine: “It’s officially my favourite time of year: Oscar season.” Preach it, brother. Preach.
The lead-up to the 83rd Annual Academy Awards informally began — as always — with the Golden Globe nominations, announced by Katie Holmes and Josh Duhamel (of all people) last month.  As everybody knows by now, films that score big at the Globes typically go on to be nominated at the Oscars a month later, rendering the show somewhat of a dress rehearsal, if you will, for the Big Night.  Consequently, the Globes are a less stuffy affair than the Oscars, what with the celebs openly “eating” dinner and poppin’ champagne throughout the night’s proceedings and all.  If you couldn’t already guess, free bottle service + an open mike + a room full of celebs = good times for all (but more so for those of us watching at home since we won’t have to relive our own public humiliation via YouTube for the rest of our lives).  Who can forget Ricky Gervais’ perfectly executed roast-worthy jab at Mel Gibson at last year’s ceremony? Or Brendan Fraser’s herp derp “clap”?  I won’t anytime soon.
But beyond the drunken shenanigans and designer gowns, the Globes and subsequent Oscars are, of course, nights to celebrate the institution of film.  This is why for the past two years, I’ve actively set out to join in on the fun by watching as many of the nominated films as I can – if only to have something/someone to cheer for when the envelope’s read.  It’s more exciting that way…having your own “horse in the race” so to speak.  For instance, I was happy as hell when Sean Penn won Best Actor for Milk in ’08, and annoyed as fuck when Slumdog Millionaire won Best Everything Else — I honestly didn’t/don’t think it was/is that great.  Sue Me.
Of the films nominated for Globes this year, I’ve only watched 4.5 of them so far (127 Hours bored me, ok?).  I hope to make it 5.5 when Blue Valentine FINALLY comes out this weekend, but ‘til then, here are my thoughts on the others:
The Social Network (Best Motion Picture, Drama; Best Director; Best Actor; Best Supporting Actor; Best Screenplay; Best Original Score):  Everyone and their mother seemed to love TSN and I. JUST. DON’T. GET. IT.  Don’t misunderstand me – the movie was good, yes, but…Oscar good?  Fuuuck no. To me, it was no better or worse than your average…let’s say…Wall Street 2.  That movie obviously didn’t get nominated – so why the hell should this?  Movies honoured at this level usually possess some sort of emotional complexity to them that permeates the screen and awakens within the viewer a newfound sense of self and/or mankind.  TSN is a flick about a post-secondary bromance gone wrong set against a back-drop of Harvard dorm rooms and frat parties.  Its premise may be culturally relevant but emotionally, it’s hollow. I won’t even comment on Justin “I act now” Timberlake.
I will, however, applaud director David Fincher for that cinematically flawless regatta sequence.  It’s not enough to get me to back his nom for Best Director, but I give him extra props on the song choice.
Inception (Best Motion Picture, Drama; Best Director; Best Screenplay; Best Original Score):  Now here’s a set of nominations I can get with.  Inception was the proverbial needle in the haystack of lackluster films released last summer.  It’s #2 on my list of best films of the year. What can I say about it that hasn’t already been said?  The actors, effects, concept — all impeccable.  And that score.  If Zimmer doesn’t win…if (God forbid) it goes to TSN…I don’t know what I’ll do.  That soundtrack got me through last semester’s finals.  I’ll leave it at that.
Toy Story 3 (Best Animated Feature Film): It has to win, it just has to. TS3 is my #1 film of 2010 and if you’re thinking that seems like a weird thing for a person over the age of 8 to say, you’re either biased, stupid, or the Prince of Darkness himself.  Once again, Pixar shits all over the competition with what is possibly the best film in the (already flawless) Toy Story franchise.  The film literally has no faults.  Beyond its immaculate animation is a timeless story that speaks so clearly to the child in all of us, grown men leave the theater weeping.*  Just ask Adam Levine.  An emotional roller-coaster, TS3 deserves every accolade it receives and then some.  If it doesn’t get nominated for Best Picture at the end of the month, the Academy will officially be dead to me.  Dead, I tell you.
*Side note: You know something’s amiss when a film about a group of toys displays more emotional depth and is truer to the human condition than a movie about actual people (Re: The Social Network).
Black Swan (Best Motion Picture, Drama; Best Director; Best Actress; Best Supporting Actress): Regardless of what I say about this one, it will win BIG at both ceremonies this year.  Trust me. It’s pure, unadulterated, Oscar bait — maybe even to a fault.  My personal sentiment is this: Black Swan is creepy as hell.  At times, it’s hard to watch.  The copious amounts of self harm and dark imagery coupled with the film’s hair-raising score results in a sensory overload that makes it impossible for the viewer to RELAX.  You’ll be thinking about it weeks afterward.  Natalie’s performance was good — though slightly one-dimensional — and Mila’s effortless in her role as the main character’s eventual nemesis.  Black Swan’s not my personal pick this season, but I’ll credit Aronofsky with creating a memorable film.  

It’s the Deadpan

Bill Murray is a funny guy.

I discovered this the other night when I finally decided to park my behind down in front of my computer and watch Ghostbusters. Yes, I know; I’m late to the party. Y’all have packed up the Doritos, wiped down the tables and placed the empty beer bottles on the curb for pickup. I’m thoroughly embarrassed. What can I say? Better late than never? 

To be fair though, one could argue that my “invitation” kinda/sorta got “lost in the mail” (so to speak). Ghostbusters hit theaters in the summer of 1984, six whole years before my immaculate birth, so by the time I was able to string together a coherent thought and legitimately comprehend a film of Ghostbusters’ (albeit simple) scope, my cinematic interests lay elsewhere (Clueless, anyone?).

That’s not to say, of course, that my awareness of the world only spans the time elapsed from my birth ’til now. Definitely not. In fact (not to get too off topic here, but…) I absolutely loathe ignorance and will promptly side-eye anyone my age or younger who says, “Well… that happened, like, fifty years ago. Why should I care?” No sweetie, read a book. I don’t excuse people like that (so don’t excuse me) but if for some legitimate reason a person missed the boat on something (and is willing to be filled in), I can sympathize, and certainly understand.

But back to Murray.  It’s all about the deadpan.  That, and the eyeroll — always done at the most appropriate moment and to the most appropriate degree.  A born comedian, he’s incredibly witty — any of his interviews on Letterman will tell you that.  He’ll call you out on your sh*t too, both on screen and off.  This man doesn’t have an agent, is allegedly only reachable via a 1-800 number, and will walk around West Hollywood and New York unshaven and in a ratty old t-shirt without a second thought.  Why?  It’s almost passe to say this but well…because he’s Bill F*cking Murray, that’s why.  He just can.  We’ve all heard the stories: Bill will show up at some frat party in Wisconsin and start washing dishes, or crash a band session in some dude’s basement and start playing tambourine.  The man simply doesn’t give a sh*t — and we love him for it, praise him for it, and frankly, envy his ability to get away with it. 

No sooner did I finish Ghostbusters did I locate Groundhog Day, another film probably best watched at this stage in my life if only for it to receive my full appreciation.  Another hilarious film, brilliant in its subtlety, it left me wondering why movies aren’t made that way anymore and why so-called “comedians” like Vince Vaughn are able to make so much bank at the box office these days. The next night I squeezed in a viewing of Lost in Translation — another Murray project I had somehow slept on — and at one point, his character said something that completely shook my world and gave me one of those “aha!” moments Oprah’s always talking about:

“The more you know who you are, and what you want, the less you let things upset you.”

Epic. This is the kind of stuff they don’t teach you in school but should. 

Viva la Murray!