Thursday, April 30, 2009

Another Stab At The Insanity...

Hottie of the Week: Daniel Sunjata...

Tomorrow, the absolutely horrid Ghosts of Girlfriends Past opens, notching yet another cheesy, ridiculous-storylined romantic comedy on star Matthew McConaughey's belt. The pretty boy player is a bit played out at this time in film history, though, and the film would have been much more effective if supporting castmember Daniel Sunjata was actually the one realizing his feelings for again co-star Jennifer Garner (they also worked together in the late 2007 Broadway production of Cyrano de Bergerac). Sunjata is also known for stealing scenes in small screen productions like Rescue Me and Law & Order: SVU, where his chiseled physique and piercing eyes set the bar for local firefighters and crime scene techs everywhere!

The Dog Ate My Blog...

Sorry I haven't written lately; Madison ate my pen.

Monday, April 27, 2009

MMFATA: Bryan Greenberg...

Bryan Greenberg has a knack for playing the somewhat tortured, somewhat brooding guy next door. He did it in the CW's One Tree Hill and then again for a different network's series, October Road, but the scenery-- and the character-- might as well have been a carbon copy. He even did it in HBO's too-short lived Unscripted, where this version was a tortured and brooding artist: a struggling actor just trying to make it in the bowels of Hollywood. Greenberg, however, can also play the lighter, romantic type, as evidenced in his star turn as Uma Thurman's boy toy in Prime. He is an "every man," a renaissance man, and of course, a very attractive man!

Why My Friends Are Talking About Him: Last week, after yet another Kris Allen acoustic cover of a popular genre classic, my friend Jaime and I got to talking about how much we love him. She compared him to Jason Mraz; I called him a cross between Bryan Greenberg and Jason Manns (oh, okay, let's face it, and my friend Jon). That spurred a discussion of our shared love of Greenberg, whose own acoustic solo album is wildly underrated (quite a few didn't even know he had one out! But he does. It's available on iTunes, and y'all should get it). He also has a couple of movies On Demand right now (the blink-and-you-missed-him cameo in Bride Wars, which was also aforementioned here, and the indie thriller Nobel Son) and yet another due out soon (The Good Guy with Alexis Bledel). In 2005 he won a Young Hollywood Award for his performance in Unscripted, and ever since then he has been unstoppable, racking up role after role in great films. He is one up-and-comer on whom to definitely keep your eyes (and ears)!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

I'm An iPhone App!...

Well, sort of...

For those of you who are iPhone or iPod Touch users (like myself), there is now a fast and easy way to stay up to date with the happenings in my world aka the world of pop culture. Follow these easy steps to set "My Life, Made Possible By Pop Culture" as an icon, mimicking the Application functions, rather than having to sift through Safari bookmarks or type in the URL every time you want to read my 30 Rock recap or take a look at some photos from the latest event I have attended (Spoiler Alert: upcoming is Maxim's Hot 100 Party).

1) Go to Safari on your iPhone or iPod Touch.
2) Bring up my website:
3) Wait for the page to finish loading completely.
4) Tap the + (plus sign) at the bottom of the browser window.
5) Select "Add To Homepage)
6) An icon and title will pop up. Select Add.

Voila! Now you can have easy access to all of my musings and opinions in your pocket! And I will work with Apple shortly to change the icon from just a snapshot of my homepage to the image y'all have come to know and love as my Official Bio photo for any site I contribute to (aka the shot of me and Jensen from Creation Entertainment's 2008 convention).

Friday, April 24, 2009

Re-Defining "The One"...

Jack hopes to win back his lady love, Elissa (Salma Hayek), weeks after she turned down his proposal and then disappeared (though he is quick to point out she didn't technically say no), on this week's episode of 30 Rock, aptly titled "The Ones." Jack claims to have coined the term "The One," as well, which leads Liz to believe he should really be a writer. He and Liz head to a fine jewelry store in Manhattan to look at rings, where she loses one down a vent, and the store clerk tells Jack he is lucky to have found someone so "spirited." Jack whips out a picture of the "real" bride, and the clerk takes him to the "real showroom." Apparently the one in the front of the store is for Liz, who is on her hands and knees because her finger is caught in the vent.

Kenneth has removed everything with coconut because of staff allergies, which Liz thinks is a bunch of crap (and not just because he took her Hostess snacks away). She claims they are psychosomatic, and not even his or Jenna's slightly bigotted stories about throats closing up can change her mind. Frank brings a box of donuts to Craft Services, which gets turned away for "no unauthorized food," but he tells everyone not to worry because there's actually just a mouse in there. It's a prank on Lutz again. Yeah, that makes it better.

Lutz screams and runs into a wall, causing a flat-screen to fall on him. Jenna promptly flirts with the paramedic who arrives on scene, who is surprisingly both a fan of hers and not a gay man. He leaves before she can get his number, so she slinks around Pete's office, belting sad songs and announcing that "911 wouldn't even connect [her] to their celebrity service!" He offers her advice from a book he read once, which determines if you're a sociopath by how you answer the question of what you do if you meet someone at your mother's funeral and want to see that person again. Jenna's answer is the correct answer: you kill your father so the person will show up to that funeral, too. Well, at least Tracy's not the only certifiable person on TGS anymore!

Tracy is trying to find the perfect present for his wife to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the day they met. He narrows it down to a denim jacket encrusted with diamonds to read "Hot Bitch" or a Snuggie rip-off. Liz tells him to just ask Angie what she wants instead of wasting money on junk. He shows his gratitude by tossing her the jacket as a thank you, but of course she'd prefer the Snuggie. It makes a nice companion when you're eating blocks of cheese while watching Bravo marathons on the couch.

What Angie wants, though, his her name and face tattooed on Tracy's chest...which he can't accomodate because it would mess up his signature move of removing his shirt to win over the ladies (and America!). Cue montage!

Elissa shows up in Liz' office, after having been back in the States for three weeks (but after not having spoken English for two months); she doesn't know what to do about Jack and the proposal, and she is reaching out for advice. She loves him, but she has a terrible secret and cannot marry him. Liz guesses that she's a man, and Elissa is shocked and asks if she wants to see her naked. Liz kind of does. She does not, however, want to break the bad news to Jack, even though that is what Elissa has come to ask her to do.

Jenna fills Kenneth's lunch with strawberries, something she knows he is allergic to due to an earlier conversation (though it is a surprise she was listening!), with the hope the "cute guy at 911" will return. Perhaps needless to say, she gets a different shift, and the EMTs that show up are women. Pete decides to teach Jenna a lesson before it goes too far, and they arrange a fake "strawberry shock" situation with an actor playing an EMT to say he has to cut off Kenneth's hands "to get the juice out." Jenna falls for it, but Kenneth can't let the prank go as far as Frank and Toofer may have wanted. She does feel genuine remorse, though, so Pete declares she has been downgraded from a sociopath to a narcissist. At least.

Just as Liz gets up the nerve to tell Jack about Elissa, guess who rushes in, announcing she is back and wants to marry him? Yup. But if you were thinking she has some sort of manic twin, you'd be...well, half wrong. Jack asks Liz if she knows if Elissa wants to keep her maiden name, and when he says it, the cleaning lady in the corner of his office gasps. She knows that name! She glances at the picture she has probably dusted a hundred times on his desk but never before paid attention to, and she gasps again. She knows that face! The Black Widow! Liz spills all she knows...which is only a theory that Elissa is the mother of all of Michael Jackson's kids. She Googles it, but all of the web sites are in Spanish, and the cleaning lady has already gone onto the next stop on her rounds. Once again, Elissa sneaks up on them, though, and admits all she did. She was married once; he cheated on her; she took her revenge and killed him. No biggie, right?

Jack still wants to marry Elissa, though, because he's fifty, which is like thirty-two for ladies, and let's face it, she's still hot. He's just afraid that she'll snap on him if he cheats, too. Liz tells him not to cheat, but it's never that easy for Jack. At least we finally learn why he keeps going to her for advice: the men around 30 Rock talk about fedoras; Liz is the closest thing to a real man they have! It doesn't really work, so he then has Tracy arrange an "erotic temptation" at a strip club to see if he really can be faithful to Elissa if they end up getting married. He only begins to feel like he can really do it when Tracy reveals his terrible secret: in twenty years, he has never cheated on Angie. The partying is just to keep his reputation. He decides to get that tattoo after all.

Jenna comes clean to Kenneth about all of the things she put strawberry juice on, like his "mouth radio" (ie the harmonica), and when she talks about how she really thought this could be THE guy for her, he softens and decides to drink his fruit-laced water after all for a chance for her to be reunited with the love of her life...which of course he turns out not to be-- because the paramedic has custody of his five year old son. But Kenneth did his good deed for the day, and that's what really matters, right?

Jack shows up at Liz' to tell her all about his wild night with Tracy, and again Elissa somehow sneaks up on them in Liz' apartment. Apparently she has been following him, and now she's jealous of Liz because of their close relationship. Everyone realizes how insane that is, and Jack says that Liz is just his "bro!" Elissa realizes the problem is truly with her: she loves too much and turns loca. They break up. Because we are in a recession, and NBC probably can no longer afford her.

Best lines of the night:

Liz: "Yeah, well, in my experience "I'll think about it" usually ends up with me watching Solid Gold in my basement on prom night."

Liz: "Where are my Snoballs? I was going to go to the gym later, so I deserve a treat."

Jack: "Being in a relationship means overlooking certain flaws. I mean, somewhere right now a guy is on a J-Date with Monica Lewinsky. Nobody's perfect."

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Hottie of the Week: Misha Collins...

Tonight might be the night Supernatural jumps the shark. By introducing a younger Winchester brother, supposedly from some secret family that Papa W had and no one knew about, the writers and producers run the risk of alienating a large part of their fan base, ie the ones who watch the show for the strong family values that Papa W imparted on his boys and the bond they share because of their devotion to him and his way of life. The writers and producers are fully aware of the risk, though (hell, they even named the episode "Jump the Shark!"). They are not afraid of it because episodes earlier, in the beginning of the season when Dean returned from hell, they took a similar risk by introducing the character of Castiel, an angel sent from heaven to help Dean on his mission. Introducing the idea of God and heaven amongst demons was a gamble, too, but look at how it paid off! Castiel has developed quite a rapid (and rabid!) fan following of his own, and TPTB at Supernatural have decided to bring him back full time (can you say series regular??) for their fifth and final season. That is why today's Hottie of the Week is none other than the simultaneously smoldering and ethereal man himself, Misha Collins.

Defining Moments: Bravo's The Real Housewives...

Though the current season of The Real Housewives (Bravo, Tuesdays at 10) is winding down, in just about three weeks, it will pick back up again with a brand new installment: The Real Housewives of New Jersey. The Real Housewives series appears to set the bar just a little higher each season-- and each incarnation-- when it comes to "charity," claws, and verbal altercations. In honor of this third spin-off (the "original" was ...Orange County, but fan favorite ...Atlanta recently wrapped its second season and is due back on air after ...Jersey finishes), I am looking back at the best (and by that, I of course mean most drama-filled) moments of seasons past.

In the first season of The Real Housewives of New York City, the girls already had some pretty big shoes to fill, and they got right to work in attempting to do so by henpecking at one of the women in the group's relationship. Alex and her husband Simon were seemingly inseparable; in fact, out of all of the versions of this series, he is the only male counterpart to be granted his own interviews with the producers, making him the "honorary sixth housewife" (well, seven now that the allegedly abusive Kelly has joined the crew). When Alex asked Jill if she could bring Simon to a "girl's night" at Jill's house, Jill and Bethenny rolled their eyes. But when Simon actually showed up trailing Alex that night, the "good Christian" Ramona went off on him, telling him he made her uncomfortable, that he threw off the dynamic, and later flat-out called him "creepy." A bit tactless? Sure, but the girl was just saying what the viewers had already been thinking for weeks!

The "words" that were had between Ramona and Jill or Ramona and Simon or Bethenny and Kelly on The Real Housewives of New York City were all entertaining, but being that these are strong, straight-shooting women, they said what they needed to once-- and to the person's face-- and then it was out of their system. The "behind the back" gossiping of the overgrown seventh grade girls down in ...Atlanta, though, did not let up all season long. Nene made fun of Sheree; Kim made fun of Nene; and apparently, as we learned on their reunion special, Lisa was making fun of everyone in her own holier than thou way. Things really came to a head, though, after the cast had the chance to watch the episode and see the two-faced-ness that had been going on. At the aforementioned reunion special, Nene finally called Kim out to her face, accusing her of breaking up a marriage and wearing a wig; Kim babbled on about pretending to have cancer; and Lisa, who pretty much stayed out of it all season, had to be physically restrained as she threatened to climb over a slightly giddy Andy Cohen to attack the "fake b*tches." It is damn near impossible to pick just one moment from that ridiculous hour!

Shane's outburst toward his mother Jeana, who flew across the country to watch him play minor league baseball on The Real Housewives of Orange County was shocking and disheartening to witness for the sheer anger behind his violent words. Shane may have been a boy raised in a house where his father was disrespectful (due to a head injury that "changed" his behavior), but he is now a man with some very serious and severe issues. For once, the audience found themselves in agreement with Vicki over the situation but also found themselves sympathizing with the millionairess they previously saw as "out of their reach."

Shane doesn't fill the "spoiled, ungrateful children" quota all by himself, though-- far from it! Tamra (also ...Orange County)'s Jack O'Lantern looking son, Ryan's antics surely took the 24kt leaf decorated cake, not when he decided that he no longer wanted to become a cop because he was bitter over being pulled over and cited for blowing through a stop sign, though, but when he flirted with his mother's friends. His bug eyes would get even bigger than normal, and he would lick his lips creepily, all while hitting on women who looked exactly like, and were just as old as, his own mother. Can you say Oedipal complex? The most dramatic was when he cornered a very inebriated and just as engaged Gretchen in the bathroom and tried to convince her to "make out with him a little." Classy dude; classy with a K!

And the number one defining moment of The Real Housewives just had to be Kim (...Atlanta) trying to become a country artist!

Here's the thing: just about every woman who has a lot of cash and even more free time on her hands (ie the trophies wives and stay-at-home wives of producers-- which may be one and the same) wants to either be a clothing designer, a jewelry designer, an actress, or a singer. Sheree tried to do it with clothes on ...Atlanta; Lynn tried to do it with jewelry on ...O.C.; and Jo tried to do it with both acting and singing on ...O.C., as well. It never seems to matter to them what kind of talent or experience they have in that arena; they figure that since they have the money, they can obtain the connections, and therefore they can do it. It is the epitome of the stereotypical wealthy, so-called "elite" housewife!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

My Book In A Nutshell...

I talk a lot about learning all of my important life lessons from 80s and 90s television, and I have always been convinced I am not alone in that. After all, I come from the generation of latchkey kids! So, absolutely sure there are at least dozens of others out there with skewed (and slightly screwed) perspective as me, I set out to turn my experiences (or lack thereof) into a book. In part because of all of the autobiographical essay memoirs that have become so popular of late (if Chelsea Handler, Sloane Crosley, Cindy Guidry, Giulia Melucci, and Laurie Notaro are any indication), I stuck primarily to my lessons on relationships, dating, marriage, and even sex, though.

After being turned down by about a dozen literary agencies who felt my subject matter "just wasn't right" for them, despite the fact that they advertised they were looking for memoirs and/or books on pop culture, I actually did find a handful that seemed eager to read my full manuscript. I happily sent it off and am now a waiting the 2-3 months it may take for them to review and let me know if and when they would like to sign it/me.

Then my friend sent me a link about one of those like-minded individuals I kept in mind while writing my book, and I got nervous. Her own lessons featured many of the same influences/inspirations that mine did, and she put her thoughts together a lot more succinctly (and perhaps even universally) than I ever care to. Suddenly 2-3 months seems like a long, long time! I can only hope she, too, is not shopping around a book about how pop culture influenced her life!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Hottie of the Week: Early Edition...

I have a new crush: Kris Allen. Apparently, the guitar still works on me...

I'm off to download his entire iTunes catalogue now, but anyone want to come with me to the American Idol tour so I can scream my head off like a twelve year old for him???

Apparently We Can't Think For Ourselves...

I watched Bride Wars just before the weekend, and I was struck by just how simple-minded romantic comedy writers think their audiences must be. I can overlook the redundant montages, the gimmicky pranks and pratfalls, and the cliched "guy next door" who pines for the leading lady. However, why is it that the writers of big Hollywood formula movies always feel they have to "justify" said leading lady deciding to dump her current beau for said pining guy? And they always, always do it by having her current beau turn out to be a giant d-bag!

In Bride Wars, that title went to poor preppy Chris Pratt, who started out so sweet and cute with his fortune cookie proposal. You really rooted for him and Anne Hathaway because here was a young guy who didn't do something cheesy or over the top but instead tailored the moment quite specifically to his girlfriend. It showed he really thought about it; it showed he really thinks about her. But all the while, you have Bryan Greenberg secretly in love with Hathaway, and considering only one of the two dueling brides could actually go through with having her wedding on June 6 (the date both were booked at the Plaza), it was clear from the get-go that person would not be Hathaway.

Pratt, therefore, had to turn into a controlling, machismo ape of a boyfriend in order for the audience to "understand" Hathaway breaking off their engagement. In this movie, and this particular situation, it almost appeared to come out of nowhere-- how quickly he turned. Usually, though, the writers drill it home so strongly and so early that it becomes almost repetitive, and it leads audiences to wonder just what the leading lady ever saw in them. Even in the kids' holiday movie Eloise at Christmastime, it wasn't enough that the character of Brooks be the wrong guy for Rachel Peabody, the daughter of the hotel (ironically again the Plaza) magnate who was secretly in love with a young singing waiter. No, he also had to be a downright crook with feds on his tail: he had stolen a bunch of money to make it look like he had his own, and once he and Rachel married, he was planning to just live off hers until there was none left. Perhaps that is an extreme example, but you get the idea...

The writers think they're doing their audience a favor by not forcing them to think or consider a perhaps moral gray area. But that is not indicative of real life. When you fall for two different guys at the same time, as I have on quite a few occasions, you only have your gut to tell you which one to pursue or which one is "right" for you. The first time I ever faced such a quandary was when I was in the sixth grade. There was one guy who lived down the block from me and who had gone to my elementary school (and yes I can hear myself and how that sounds) who I thought was just so cute, and then there was this new guy I met when I switched to a junior high an extra mile away, for the first time intermingling with a new set of kids. They were both dirty blond, brown-eyed, and dimpled. The guy from down the block never seemed to take notice of me, even though I purposely roller-bladed up and down the block when I knew he was out skateboarding. The new guy, on the other hand, always sat just a row away on the bus, and I often caught him staring at me as I laughed and joked with my girl friends. I had a feeling I had a better shot with him, but a little part of me kept holding out for the other one. And with no one to point out either of their flaws, I was left to my own devices, and afraid my instincts would be the wrong ones (because let's face it, even these more mature women I saw in chick flicks made the wrong choice for awhile before finally "coming to their senses"), I found that quite unsettling.

Having stacks upon stacks of reel world "references" where someone always hands you the "right" guy and the "right" answer does not adequately prepare you for what you have to face in the real world. Just another arena in which I was ill-equipped once I finally got there for myself.

The writers also think they are doing themselves a favor by writing a guy who deserves to be cut loose so their female lead won't be called "a bitch," but in reality (in my opinion anyway), it makes the women far less likable, let alone relatable, that they've supposedly been with this d-bag for so long and only now do they see the light. I have no patience for that kind of weakness; if you don't know or respect yourself enough to know when a person is bad for you, you have much bigger problems on your hands than when/where to get married!

Monday, April 20, 2009

What Is Wrong With People!?!?!?...

I may be a bit embarrassed to admit I was the last person on the planet to see Slumdog Millionaire, having just caught it last week when it was delivered to my office, but I am not at all embarrassed to admit the reason I wanted to see it was because those adorable little kids won me over on the Oscar red carpet. Cute and talented, they should have very bright futures, regardless of whether or not they want to continue down the entertainment path. Sadly, though, they really do come from an extremely poor village, and their opportunities are severely limited. Some might think, then, that all they need is a ticket out. Rubiana Ali's father certainly seems to think so; if you can believe US Weekly, he has reportedly made it known that he wants someone to adopt her to give her the better life he cannot. It would be a noble effort-- much the way teenage or otherwise inept mothers give their babies up for adoption-- except he is asking for $300,000 for her. He is not simply hoping his precious daughter will find a more affluent, loving, and supportive home; he hopes to profit. He wants to raise himself up out of poverty, not see his child succeed in better circumstances. He is hiding behind the guise of good intentions when really he is just a snake in the grass-- or one on the red carpet, as it were-- having seen wealth within his grasp at that awards show and desperate to grab it for himself. On one hand, he should rot in hell...but on the other, at least Ali really will be better off without such a character in her life (if he succeeds).

And as someone who is just starting the adoption process and has already feared being turned down or otherwise shut out due to financial reasons, I cannot let it go without saying that I find it absolutely appalling, sickening, and completely disheartening how the process has been distorted and bastardized. Sometimes it seems to be less about giving a deserving child a good home and rather about a business-- a baby buying business. And we all know how much I hate business!

WMFATA: Diem Brown...

Originally I planned to do a more in-depth profile on Ms. Diem Brown for my column on I Am That Girl, but as I logged onto her official website to get some specifics, I found she had already been written about there once before. Never one to be a copycat, I decided to forgo the longer Q&A style piece for this column on my own site instead.

Brown shocked, awed, and inspired friends and fans alike during her run on The Real World/Road Rules Challenge: Fresh Meat not only for the harrowing competitions in which she competed and thrived but also because she did it all while battling ovarian cancer. The twenty-something always had a smile on her face and was up for whatever the crazy producers over at Viacom could throw at her, and she did it all without letting her castmates know she was sick...until a particularly grueling and wet event, that is. No one could forget how Brown, for the first time in the history of her brief but already memorable run on the show, was visibly nervous as she stared at the pool. But very quickly she proved nothing would faze her as she whipped off her wig and dove straight into the water, earning the cheers and respect of her greatest competitors.

Why My Friends Are Talking About Her: Brown is back on MTV on yet another ...Challenge (The Duel II), and she has only gotten stronger-- physically, but also emotionally. Brown signed up for the challenge knowing her ex CT would be there as well, and though she admits she still cares for him, she saw his volatile and aggressive side get turned toward her on previous versions of the show and never once faltered in her decision to put herself first. CT wasted no time becoming belligerent and violent on The Duel II, and it was clear it was because he was still hurting over how their relationship ended. Brown stuck to her guns, though, and refused to get wrapped back up in his drama. A woman who has had first hand experience with just how short (and unpredictable) life can be, Brown uses her good spirits and her smarts for more than just making her own life the best it possibly can be: she also started a foundation, aptly called Live For The Challenge to raise money for, and provide wish gifts to kids affected by, cancer of any kind.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

"We All Started On Soaps!"...

Through the affairs and attempted murders, the countless guest stars and time-jumping story devices, the fans have stuck with Desperate Housewives for better and for worse. If there was any question to their devotion after five years of push and pulls with the women (and men!) of Wisteria Lane, this Saturday's Paley Fest panel featuring the cast and creators gave a solid answer. Fans came out in droves to see their favorites, all of whom were present except for Marcia Cross and Felicity Huffman who had prior commitments, and the recently-ousted Nicollette Sheridan.

Desperate Housewives hit televisions in 2004, nearly a decade since a primetime soap opera actually seemed to work, and it revitalized the genre, as moderator Will Keck reminded everyone at the start of the afternoon. Eva Longoria-Parker was not surprised that creator Marc Cherry found a hit when so many before him (including one starring fellow castmate Dana Delaney) had failed. "We all started on soaps!" She laughed. Therefore, it is only natural that they could fully understand the sometimes campy, sometimes corny, but always dramatic world in which he was building.

Like any soap worth its salt, Desperate Housewives has had its share of shocking and otherwise defining moments (no pun intended, even though it's latest one was quite literal: Sheridan's character of Edit Britt crashed her car into a telephone pole, only to emerge unharmed, step in a puddle of water, and brush against a downed power line, electrocuting herself before any of her neighbors could come to her aid. As one fan bemoaned: "Marc Cherry, I only have one question for you. Edie: Why? Why? WHY?") Seasons earlier, though, it came as a surprise to no one that Paul Young (Mark Moses) was a bad guy by the time he killed nosey Martha Huber, but the way in which he decided to take her out was a bit surprising. Already no stranger to death, Cherry must have been looking to win some sort of booby prize for the most original attempt, as he had Young bash in his poor neighbor's head with the blender she had borrowed from his dead wife. That moment, perhaps even more so than Mary Alice (Brenda Strong)'s death, defined the arc of the Young family…and also, in part, the up-until-that-point-mysterious Mike Delfino.

Lynette (Huffman) learning she had cancer could have been a real downer for a show that relies a lot on comic relief. At Paley Fest, in fact, Doug Savant quipped that "See? Look what happened to this panel; you bring up cancer and [he makes falling motion with his hands]. Everything was so good, we were laughing and now..." But in fact at Paley Fest and for the show in general, the mood did not completely darken when the "c word" was mentioned. Cherry and his writing team went out of their way to depict her battle as real as they could have. They showed Lynette's fears, but they also showed Tom's because as anyone who has dealt with cancer in their circle of loved ones knows, it is a disease that affects everyone. Sure, it delivered some of the show's more serious moments-- and no one thought seeing Lynette lose her hair was glamorous-- but life is full of good times and bad. And so is Desperate Housewives.

For the cast, though, some of these moments happened when the cameras weren't rolling. Hatcher reminisced about the scene where she was standing in the middle of the street in her wedding dress after Mike had left her at the alter. The scene was memorable for fans because here you had who was pitched as the "super couple" not getting together, and that didn't sit well. But for Hatcher, it was much more than that: "I was standing on the sidewalk, in this big white dress, and all of a sudden I could feel this swarm of bees rush under and get caught in the big hoop skirt of tulle...It was the kind of thing that would happen to Susan!"

Perhaps the most poignant moment for the series, though, aired just a few short weeks ago, during it's one hundredth episode. "The Best Thing That Could Have Ever Happened" took the women back through time as they each remembered an important shared moment with their handyman Eli, played by Beau Bridges, whose character quite poetically suffered a heart attack and died on Susan's roof while doing his final job before retirement. The episode was exceptionally special to Cherry, who wrote it based loosely on his own close, personal friend, Doug Blasdell (who you might remember from Bravo's Work Out)'s passing. "Sometimes there are just those people who touch your life in ways you don't even realize," Cherry explained. And when Eli, down on his luck, first came a'knockin' around Wisteria Lane, Mary Alice saw that he had holes in his shoes and gave him his first job, promising to pass his card around to her friends, as well. It was in that moment, five years and one hundred episodes later, that the narrator of the show's own importance was reiterated. All of the good Eli did for the other women was, in part, due to her; her actions while she was alive impacted them (even if they didn't know it) as much as her action in taking her own life.

Though Edie's final demise (and Sheridan's exit) is airing a month before the season finale, Cherry and Co promised many more twists and surprises within the next few episodes. "A major character from the first and second season comes back for the final five minutes of the finale," Cherry teased. The audience murmured amongst themselves for a few seconds before the next question, dealing with Longoria-Parker's ex-flame John the Gardener, had them all assuming that he was the answer. However, I'm holding out hope for one of the Young men; after all, Moses is on hiatus from Mad Men and no one really knows what Cody Kasch is up to these days...

Friday, April 17, 2009

New Column Alert: Hottie of the Week!...

This week's Hottie of the Week (christening the new column) is Hunter Parrish, co-star of Weeds, returning to Showtime this summer and ex-Spring Awakening castmember! He may look young, ladies, but he is more than legal (born in 1987) if you find yourself feeling guilty over also eyeing your daughter/younger sister's crush Zac Efron, turn your attention to the snake-tattooed bad boy of this weekend's 17 Again instead!

Deception For The Greater Good...

Liz is still suspended from work for sexual harrassment when this week's 30 Rock opens (episode entitled "Jackie Jormp-Jomp"), and unlike everyone else in her support group or workshop or sad little "pervert seminars," she actually wants to speed the process up so she can get back to work. Most likely because she is writing countless sketches in her head about a character named for, and based on, the leader of said group: "Jeffrey Weinerslave."
Jack has news for Jenna, meanwhile, about her long-awaited Janis Joplin "homage," only he never said it was good news. They didn't get clearance on their original name for the character and instead have to call her Jackie Jormp-Jomp, which thankfully cleared up the title at only the minute and a half mark into the show. The film tested horribly over the weekend-- probably due to not owning the rights to Joplin's life or music-- but the clip of Jenna singing in full wig is a hoot!! Jack tells her they have to go the independent route with this one, and she will have to turn into a PR machine, turning up at every red carpet event and morning show to talk up the film. He gives her her first assignment: attending the Kids Choice Awards. Considering she just asked him if he wants her to "leak" a "weird sex tape," there's a slime joke in here somewhere...

Liz can't help herself from stopping by the studio-- you know, just for a script or rundown or little hit-- because she is lost without her show. Instead, she spends her days (and nights) standing downstairs in her lobby talking at her various doormen (and women!) that take shifts. She has never missed a show before-- not even when she had a "virus the doctors thought only raccoons get," but she will miss one tonight, and she is unsettled by it. Jack understands, though, because "people like them" need the stress to thrive. Frank, meanwhile is stressed out about all the Dos and Don'ts that are being inforced now that Liz has been busted; he can no longer look at or talk to Cerie, for instance. Kenneth, decides he has to follow the book to a T, and he decides to disclose a relationship to his "immediate supervisor," who he takes to be Jack, partially because he doesn't trust Pete's skull ridge, partially because Liz is gone, and partially because Paul Scheer wasn't available to revise his role as deceptive Donny, Head of the Pages. Now, he and his lady friend aren't actually dating-- nor has he even spoken to her-- but he wanted the company to be aware of his long-term plans, and he does plan to marry her. As he walks out of Jack's office, though, he sees Dot Com with his lady love looking for their immediate supervisors and actually puts two and two together quite quickly.

Still in her lobby, Liz runs into a neighbor who is on her way to the gym in the building. Needless to say, Liz had no idea there was a gym in the building. They bond over being addicted to the stress-- and their candy drawers (and Liz' decoy candy drawer-- you know, to throw others off the scent. That's about as normal as the reason she is on "leave!"). Liz decides to follow the lady to the gym, determined to find a "better way" to be happy.

She ends up in her new BFFs apartment with a handful of other well put together and seemingly unemployed women, drinking wine just because it's daytime. Turns out all of the women are actually just of the "get rich quick" scheme mind (one wrote a lucky hit cookbook; one married a really old dude who died) and spend the days lounging, getting facials, and shopping. Liz protests, but she of course goes with them-- even for Botox-- and she gets so caught up she even forgets to watch her own show.

Jenna and Jack walk the carpet of the Nickelodeon Awards and get interviewed by some ten year old who asks her who's mother she is. Then she gets bumped off for Dora The Explorer's backpack. During the show, Jenna broods that no one even knows she's there. Helen Mirren gets slimed; they watch a ridiculous In Memorium for kids' entertainers (filled mostly with cartoon bears but also a picture of Jenna). Apparently, the ten year old producer Jack asked for help couldn't look up from his Blackberry long enough to hear more than "Maroney. Picture. Dead." and deduced what he would. Jack considers this hitting the jackpot, though, because he wants to "Tupac [her]." Dying young and becoming a legend. Just like Janis. Irony?

Kenneth is still mad at Dot Com and takes it out on him by refusing to order his lunch sandwiches with mustard. Tracy says enough is enough, and they can't let some woman come between them. He decides to be a problem-solver because "Liz Lemon is in jail now" and can't stop him! His answer is to fire the dancer who has caught both men's hearts. The other dancers then refuse to come to work out of solidarity, and without Liz around to fix everything, Tracy hires a bunch of new dancers-- who he found trolling in the parking lot.

Liz learns her suspension has ended, and she has earned her sensitivity certificate. She is not nearly as excited as she would have been fifteen minutes ago, though. Her "counselor" advises her that the stress of returning could cause her to fall back into old, bad behavior. As he tells her to think of the frustration, the endless problems her co-workers will heap on her, and how she is just creeping closer and closer to death, it is clear to her what she has to do. She sexually harrasses him so she can be sent home-- err, to her new BFF's apartment-- again.

Talking crazy, Liz realizes she has enough money saved to live for four years, if she gives up cable, and that is when she will come back to TGS-- in four years. Jack, too busy with faking Jenna's death for promotion, can't deal with her insanity. Instead, he tells Pete Jenna can't come to work this week, and they need to put together and obtiuary reel as a tribute, which apparently is just as easy done as said because they already threw one together when Jenna cheated on some mobster she was dating.

Liz' new friends tell her that she does still have to do something to stimulate her mind and stay active in her time of living a life of leisure, and their answer? Not Sodoku, like Liz hopes but Girl Fight Club!! This is very disappointing for her, and not just because it means Jack was right. If she wants out, though, she'll have to fight her way out...which she does, making it back to the studio with a black eye but just in time to see Jenna sing a surprisingly somber version of "Muffin Top" at her own live televise memorial. That's the kind of crazy she can get behind!

Best lines of the night:

Jenna: "The Kids Choice Awards? Fine, I'll set aside my feud with Raven Symone for one day. But she knows what she did."

Pete (dragging Tracy down the hallway): "You have to rehearse!"
Tracy: "No: passive resistence; I learned that from Dr. King. I'm brave!"

Kenneth (explaining why he couldn't read the sexual harrassment guidelines): "Ms. Viera threw it away and said 'pretty boys like me shouldn't be filling their heads with ideas.'"

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

WWATN: Hopping From One Basic Cable To Another...

Raviv (then Ricky) Ullman got his big break as so many child stars do-- as a part of the Disney Channel line up. Ullman played Phil Diffy, the star of Phil of the Future-- the only son, and the elder of two children, in a family that got stuck on a vacation back in time and had to assimilate to the mid-2000s lifestyle. Ullman was one of those precocious men-children, then, which was only further exhibited by his star turn as a rapist on Law & Order: SVU. It was surprising to see the Mouse let him out to do such a not-kid-friendly role, but it has been even more surprising to see what Ullman has been up to lately.

A promising young star, who was able to capture the hearts of young girls and their moms, Ullman proved he had the acting chops to go the distance after stints on other network dramas like House and Cold Case. However, these days, Ullman is utilizing his floppy brown locks, piercing hazel eyes, and crooked smile not in theater or independent film (ala Josh Peck) but instead as a series regular role on Lifetime's middle-aged sitcom Rita Rocks. His character there is a somewhat cartoonish, always stereotypical, dumb boyfriend of the aforementioned title character of Rita. It is a show that no one seems to know is there, but which might not be such a bad thing for Ullman after all, since it wastes his talent completely.

Ullman has some feature film projects on the horizon that unfortunately aren't any more poised to put him a bit more on the map, though. Spring Break '83 with Jamie Kennedy and Sophie Monk centers on a group of friends getting revenge on their high school bullies, and How To Make Love To A Woman is Jenna Jameson's comedic attempt at mainstream film. While the latter is sure to have a bunch of publicity and maybe even some controversy surrounding it, both will undoubtedly end up as straight to DVD/VOD monstrocities. Ullman is multi-talented, though, and if his new acting roles keep getting buried, he always has music to lead him to the spotlight. Ullman, who taught himself to play the drums and can be seen jamming with Nicole Sullivan and Tisha Campbell-Martin on Lifetime, also just released a debut CD with his band, His Orchestra, on iTunes in February of this year.

Why I'm Agro Today: Sitcom Vacations...

Why was it that on all sitcoms of the nineties, especially and perhaps even surprisingly, TGIF sitcoms, whenever the characters would go on vacation, at least one of them would fall head over heels for some tanned, toned, bleached-teeth beach hunk and after only half an hour (or a week in sitcom-time) decide he or she wants to get married to the person? In Saved By The Bell, Zack fell for the single mom Rena Sofer in the Hawaiian Vacation special; in Step By Step, Dana was proposed to by Jessie Spano's step-brother (who just happened to be self-made millionaire); and in Full House, Joey (of all people!) was practically stalked by some mysterious island woman! At least when Monica and Chandler hooked up in London on Friends, they didn't jump too far into anything...but then again, they came together during a drunken wedding reception, not a tropical beach paradise! Still, it set up an unrealistic expectation that never once paid off for me!

Maybe it had something to do with the location (Hawaii appeared to be the go-to vacation setting back then; perhaps they were offering tax incentives on productions), but I, in my finite eight and ten year old wisdom, could not see that and would spend every trip my mother and I took (usually to Disney World, the other go-to for any ABC show, at least) scanning the hotel pool or the line for Haunted Mansion for adorable boys who my be able to sweep me off my little feet for a whirlwind week and a half. I never found what I was looking for.

Even when I finally got myself to Hawaii, first for Christmas with a friend's family and then spring break with two of my closest friends from college, the only guy who ever caught my eye was the old gentleman who walked up and down one of the smaller, semi-private, pointing out to all of the tourists which famous people owned which vacation house. Once again, I was tricked into believing things could be simple and sweet based on scripts I saw play out on screen, and the worst part was I didn't realize it had seeped so deeply into my subconscious until just recently, when trying to strike up a conversation with a stranger in an airport terminal. That didn't go so well either: I kept glancing over at him, trying to be nonchalant, but he kept noticing me glancing and probably thought I was trying to figure out if I had seen him in a soap or something. At one point he actually got up and switched to a different hard-backed plastic chair, I'm convinced just to be out of my eye-line!

I don’t know what happened. I have prided myself on the fact that I have always been able to separate fact from fiction or just romanticizing (and sometimes to a fault), yet this one somehow managed to slip through. And suddenly I was forced, once again, to take a look at all I believed could be based on something that never was but which I clung to. It appears I have a lot more work to do...and I hate having to work!

Monday, April 13, 2009

MMFATA: Bonus Round!...

Having been at my mother's house for the weekend, I have been relegated to watching only channels 4, 5, 7, 9, or 11 due to the technological stone age in which she lives. Tonight, therefore, brought us an hour and a half of Dancing with the Stars-- a show I have never been able to bring myself to watch, in part due to the crappy covers of once-popular hits. After napping during the first chunk of it, however, I awoke from a hazy stupor to reveal the one thing that would have had me watching all of this time: a bonafide hottie in the form of contestant Chuck Wicks.

Okay, so to be completely honest, my friends aren't talking about him. As far as I can tell, no one is currently talking about him. After all, when his contestantcy (is that even a word??) was announced, there was a minor uproar regarding his real-life romance with dancing partner (and also sometimes country singer) Julianne Hough, asking if it is even fair that he compete with that pre-existing advantage...but that "controversy" died down pretty quickly upon news of contestant after contestant dropping out due to injuries. Who knew that in the days of televised football and cop dramas with both stunt combat and stunt driving, a dancing show could be the most dangerous thing on TV?? Anyway, the point is that there may be nothing overtly threatening about Wicks, but that doesn't automatically make him boring or therefore not worthy of headlines or photo spreads. With Clint Black refusing to take off his stupid big black hat on NBC's current celeb-reality show, Donald Trump's Celebrity Apprentice, Wicks is a refreshing change in the country music genre!

Where is my proof? Just see below!

WMFATA: Lily Allen...

Lily Allen has gotten a bad rap in the press. More people know her as "that drunk club girl-- no, not Britney; the brunette..." than a stellar singer or songwriter. I admit I knew her as mostly that, but mostly because I don't listen to Top 40 or to the radio in general. The wild child may not be as hardcore as Amy Winehouse, but she has certainly had her own controversial moments-- whether they are getting snapped swimming topless while on vacation or the lyrics from her own albums. Allen may never be the squeaky clean pop princess from yesteryear, but that should only make her more interesting. She is witty, spunky, and sardonic, and most of all fearless to do whatever she wants as an artist.

Why My Friends Are Talking About Her: Two weeks ago, Allen performed an exclusive set at The Wiltern, and to quote my friend Natalie, "It was the best show ever!!" Two weeks later, my friends are quite literally still talking about it-- from the moment when Allen kicked off the pumps that she wore "for the photographers" and slipped on a pair of Air Jordans so she could bounce around the stage to when Lindsay Lohan slipped out from the wings and tapped her on her shoulder during a number (what other singer would allow the spotlight to be stolen-- even if briefly-- at their own concert??). Besides, as my friend Natalie says, "If you're in your twenties, and you're a chick, her music is for you!" And we are.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Taking One For The Team...

After three years on air, 30 Rock, and their show within-a-show TGS, has only just now hit the fifty-episode mark, and Jack decides to celebrate by giving them all empty wine bottles in this week's episode, aptly titled "Cutbacks." Just another show to deal in the recent economic downturn, and even Jonathan was not safe (presumably because he has to go co-star in another season of Weeds, though, and once things pick back up for Sheinhardt, he and his BlueTooth will be back kissing Jack's feet in no time. Liz will have to deliver a presentation to justify her budget at the end of the week, but considering the past three years at TGS has aired three hundred sketches (and who knows how many were written that were cut out), she thinks this will be a piece of cake. And as Liz is probably dreaming of just what kind of cake, loyal viewers know this is setting up a series of completely unimaginable disasters that will unfold before us slowly, one by one-- and then gradually a little faster-- within the next twenty minutes. Economic strife has never sounded so fun!Jack asks Kenneth to fill in as Jack's assistant during this "very difficult time," pulling double duty, as he will still have to fulfill his page responsibilities, as well. Jack assures him that as long as he follows the 3 D's: "discretion, dosility, and Don't Use My Bathroom," they will be just fine. Kenneth promptly proves him wrong by not understanding what he should say when a man from aviation calls, and Jack says he's not here. "But you are here; I can see you," Kenneth replies. It's going to be a long assignment.

Kenneth is worried about not having time to go home and feed his bird while he is working both jobs, so he asks Tracy if he would mind stopping by his apartment. As he hands over the keys, though, Kenneth warns Tracy that whatever he does, he is to not go into his bedroom. Needless to say, Tracy is intrigued...and perhaps a bit scared.

At Kenneth's, even the bird warns Tracy not to go in the bedroom, and he gets so freaked out, he actually asks Jenna for her help. She tells him she had to study serial killers for some Lifetime Original movie she did, and she lists the three characteristics all serial killers share. Tracy finds ways to connect all three to traits of Kenneth's personality or past. They decide to go tell Jack so they will be seen as heroes.

Roger Bart is the consultant hired to analyze the budgets, and Liz decides to pull out her inner Steve Jobs for the presentation. Using a white curtain hung up on her soundstage, she delivers a multimedia presentation that goes off without a hitch, describing the cultural importance of her television show-- which is really like three television shows all rolled neatly into one, which basically means they are saving money! The clips of TGS are worthy of any up-front, but Roger Bart is not amused.

Liz has to cut her budget by twenty-five percent-- and she needs to turn in the revision by the end of the day or else Roger Bart will take care of it for her, and in his own words, he "doesn't give a crap about anyone here"-- so she and Pete wander around the studio, trying to figure out how they can do that. In a slightly retrospective way, they point out just why everyone is so integral through clips-- both those moments we have seen in past episodes and brand new ones. Liz nixes firing anyone, taking money away from Craft Services, and even stopping the purchase and use of straws.

Jack is spending the day firing those he deems useless, some of whom have worked for the company for two and a half decades, and others who are willing to sleep with him in order to change his mind. Liz asks him for advice on what to do, and surprisingly, he doesn't tell her to cook the books but instead to just make the hard choice and live to see another day.

Roger Bart takes the initiative to make the cuts himself, and he does all of the things Liz didn't want him to: fire the really old announcer guy and take away her snacks. She realizes (because Pete and Frank flat-out say as much) she is their only hope, and she decides to take one for the team. She tells Roger Bart he looks "hot in those trousers" and asks him out. She could do (and has done!) worse.

The next morning, Jack tells Kenneth that although there is a learning curve, he must really think before he speaks, and it takes Kenneth about three minutes to answer that he does, in fact, understand. Kenneth is uber-cryptic with Tracy and Jenna, and they decide to break in (well, not really, considering he gave Tracy his keys). They ignore Kenneth's one demand and end up finding just a can of bug bomb in the center of his dark and practically empty room before they scream and run out once again. The bug bomb kills his beloved bird-- but Kenneth is much more upset that they didn't trust him than the fact that they killed his friend. He tells them off in an angry, un-Kenneth-like way that would suggest he is ready to snap in the way they seem to have unjustly assumed he has in the past.

Liz gets "made up" by the "sluttier of the two make-up artists" and heads out for a night of sushi with Roger Bart. She tells him that they both know why she's there, so they should just cut to the chase, and she begins to bargain with him, offering him thirty minutes, and he can make dirty sounds. "The top part of my body is now in play," she adds reluctantly. And they have a deal.

Except the deal is as sour as a lemon (get it??) because he turns her writer's room into the Telemundo headquarters for soccer news. "You got your quid; where's my quo!?" Liz yells at Roger Bart, who only then realizes that the previous night had only been about business, and the "ear play" she gave him was not because she found him dreamy. For Liz, it may have just been a transaction, but for him it was oh so much more: it was the first time he was with a woman since his wife died. "Oh snap," Liz mutters. "Of course," loyal viewers do.

Roger Bart brings Liz up to human resources for trying to barter using sexual favors, which the HR guy calls "being a dirty, dirty prostitute." Jack is amused, claiming this outburst must have been brought on by Liz' menopause. She will be suspended for two weeks without pay. Hey, there's a way to save some money! Good thinking, kiddo; you did it after all! Roger Bart has been reassigned, and the budget review will start over under Jack’s guise. Kenneth bursts in to announce that there’s a spider on the printer, and Jack decides it is time to let him go. But thankfully, only as his assistant.

Kenneth's day only gets better from there, as now he can focus on just the duties he truly loves as a page. Tracy and Jenna fill his apartment with a wide variety of new birds-- doves, pigeons, parakeets, etc-- as a way to make their crazy behavior up to him.

Best lines of the night:

Tracy: "Birds are like little dinosaurs, so what I'll be doing is actually pretty cool-- and brave!"

Liz: "I don't want to fire anyone, and I don't want to take anything away from my crew, and I want to keep making long distance prank calls to people like Seattle's Richard Sackmuncher, and I think that's reasonable!"

Jenna: "This budget stuff? Don't worry about it, Tracy, it's just going to affect the "non-specials."

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Growing Up With 90s TV (For Real This Time)...

One of my greatest gifts (or maybe it's a curse) is that when I get an idea in my mind, I go for it, and I don't stop until I get it...which means that I am often fixated on one particular for thing for weeks, if not months and years, on end before it can come to fruition. In March of last year, I not only threw together my "milestone" list (the list of things I want to accomplish by the time I'm thirty), but I also published it on this website for all to see and hold me to. And though I am still far away from completing it, as of today I have officially checked off at least one item: #3-- Commission my custom Fazzino.
Concept Sketch #1-- minus a few details

I have been a collector of Charles Fazzino art pieces for only a few years now. My mother bought me my first one, "Twilight L.A" when I got my own apartment in Los Angeles as a way to christen it. But I had been an admirer for years, stopping in every hole in the wall gallery from Tribeca to Times Square when I was wandering around New York, looking for new releases or just checking to see if my favorites were still available for the day I could finally afford to buy one. After "Twilight L.A" came "For The Love of Lucy," to commemorate my deep childhood admiration for Lucille Ball, and then "The Girl Can't Help It," a somewhat fitting ode to my expensive shopping habits. His art was unlike anything I had ever seen hung on the walls in the museums my school paraded us to as kids-- it was brightly colored and practically alive with its mixed medias and 3D "technology." It grabbed the eye but that each time you looked back and looked deeper, you would find new details to focus on. Oh yeah, and no one yelled at me if I touched it!
Concept Sketch #2-- The gang's all there!

After those three came home with me, I began to think about "completing" my collection with one final piece-- the cream of the crop, so to speak. I already had an idea in my head about what it should be: I had seen so many of Fazzino's works crop up in my favorite television shows, that I thought how great would it be to have a Fazzino featuring my favorite television shows? I found one online that was very close to what I was looking for; it was titled "Remembering 60s TV" and fit the basic description of what I wanted: classic, popular television shows popping out of TV sets. A little more research found a version set in the 70s, but that was where the pieces ended. Assumedly with enough demand he would create and mass produce one for the 80s and/or the 90s, but I just wasn't sure I wanted to wait. Besides, even if he did end up creating one for the 90s, it would probably be chock full of shows that hit the mainstream culture but didn't necessarily mean anything to me (like Beverly Hills 90210 or My So-Called Life). So I decided to start saving for the day I could just commission one for myself-- using the exact shows (and images-- no Bo and Hope to represent Days of our Lives for me!) that defined my childhood.
Color on Canvas-- it's really coming along

So when I found myself with a generous check in my pocket earlier this year, I decided that I could either do the sensible, practical thing and "invest it" in a future that may or may not end up holding all of the things on that list if I didn't also get my ass in gear in other ways, or I could actually use it toward one of those things on my list. So naturally, I did the latter. I've always been very good with spending large sums of money on things.

After submitting my original idea to Mr. Fazzino, though, I was told that the sheer number of shows I wanted represented (which grew hourly, as suggestions that had somehow slipped my mind kept flowing in from friends) would cause the piece to be four feet by five feet long, which was too big for the space above my couch that I had earmarked for the piece...not to mention that the price tag was, oh let's just say, a wee bit higher than my bank account, new check and all, would allow. So I ended up cutting the shows down to just the eight that meant the most, with another thirteen sprinkled around for good measure.
My design, now in 3-D!

Though it was his busiest time of year (Super Bowl, Art Expo, etc), Mr. Fazzino quickly sent me a line drawing, and once I gave my notes and approved the design, he went to work on the actual canvas. The whole process took a lot less time than I had originally expected, probably because I really didn't have many notes on the initial sketch: from the very beginning it was exactly what I had been picturing (and even attempted on a canvas of my own the previous year). A few short weeks later, my "Growing Up With 90s TV" piece was delivered, immortalizing all of the shows, and the specific people on those shows, who greatly influenced my childhood and ultimately defined the woman I grew into.

I'm not going to tell you the exact number I spent on such an item, but you can be rest assured this: it cost more than a month's rent, the purchase price of my purebred Shih Tzu, membership to Local 871 (of which I am a member, though currently I'm on "sabbatical"), and my "new" nose-- but not more than all of those things combined! If you are interested in obtaining your own custom Fazzino, you will have to email one of the galleries that deals exclusively in his works and ask them to get you a price quote; the number will vary based on size and detail, but owning a one of a kind piece of art from your favorite artist? Priceless!
The Final Piece-- it looks great on my wall!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Defining Moments: Eminem...

After an almost half a decade long gap in his discography, Eminem returned today with the awesome and clever celeb-bashing "We('re The Ones That) Made You," his first single and video off his fifth solo release, Relapse (due to drop May 19). After such a long time away, and with the hip hop industry changing drastically within the last year, many posed the questions of if Eminem can still be relevant and whether he was really missed at all. The Detroit born and bred rapper has been known for controversy, but unlike some of the others in his field, he has never relied on it to sell a record or make a name for himself. Instead, Eminem has set the bar for those that may follow in his footsteps by his uncanny ability to mix humor, wit, and politics.

If "Light My Candle" (RENT) is the epitome of the song storytelling in musical theater, than "Guilty Conscience" must be that for hip hop. Teaming up with his mentor Dr.Dre, Eminem's strongest song off his debut Slim Shady LP might also be his most sensitive. "Guilty Conscience" introduces multiple characters who are placed in tricky situations, and under a trance-like beat, offer said characters some advice on a way out. Dre and Eminem are the devil and the angel on these misguided youths' shoulders, self-reflexing showing off just how influential they know Eminem will become.

Sure, Eminem is great at poking fun at just about situation and every other celebrity (and himself!), like in "The Real Slim Shady: or "Just Lose It," but he is perhaps at his best when he is dealing with serious subjects. "Mosh" off 2004's Encore was every urban liberal's war cry leading up to the 2004 election. The single was released digitally on October 26 2004, "leaked" early for Eminem to rally his troops to stand up and vote against then-president George Bush (the actual album did not drop until a week after the election). Eminem had offered his take on certain political figures in the past, through a lyric or two in songs like "White America," but never before had he seemed so enraged he had to devote a whole song to his point of view. With "Mosh," Eminem seemed to be inking his place as this new generation's very own Gil Scott-Heron.

2000's The Marshall Mathers LP brought another great story-song in the form of "Stan," a tale about an obsessive fan who writes letter after letter to Em and seems to be dedicating his life to being like the star. When Eminem finally gets through all of the fanmail to respond to this kid, though, he realizes he is much too late. The song is poignant for the message it drives home about the influence of celebrities in today's society, but the moments that happened around the song, namely the Grammy Awards live duet with Elton John, are what really made this a pivotal moment in the career of Eminem but also of pop culture in general. The man everyone was calling out for being "homophobic" shut up all of the naysayers by taking the stage, and then clasping hands with, the pop idol no one thought he could, further proving he is much more as a man than the image he projects may let you believe.

"Hailie's Song" (also The Eminem Show) was the first time Eminem let his guard down even a little bit to show a softer side. In a culture and a genre that prides itself on being "hard," Eminem built up a tough guy image by brandishing a pistol and screaming about how he just didn't "give a ----" about anyone, but this song (and a few subsequent others: see "Mockingbord," Encore and "When I'm Gone," Curtain Call: The Hits) proves that is not true. Eminem is a father first, and the love he has for his daughter is almost overwhelming here, in the first track on which he attempts to sing.

"Lose Yourself," the single from Eminem's theatrical debut, 8 Mile, was not only a defining moment for the artist himself, marking his second Grammy nomination for "Song of the Year" but also for the genre itself, as it won the Academy Award for "Best Original Song," paving the way for hip hop to have a future presence at such a prestigious ceremony. The lyrics of "Lose Yourself" are quoted often-- and everywhere from locker rooms before big championship games to university commencements (Jodie Foster read aloud the chorus when she spoke at the 2006 UPenn ceremony)-- due to their inspirational, and perhaps surprising tone. Though the "he" in the song is supposedly the fictional character Eminem portrayed on-screen, the emotions are pulled directly from the artist's own struggles, and therefore, they speak to millions of young struggling artists just like him. "Lose Yourself" reaches across genre lines and speaks to people who normally may have never even given hip hop a chance.

Relapse is clever wordplay from the man who claimed he was "retiring" a few years ago. But just like Jay-Z before him, Eminem is proving that when you are addicted to something, you're bound to come back to it time and again.