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Coffee Shop Culture in Manhattan is surprisingly (and satisfyingly) productive. And I don’t just use that word lightly. To my left, in the little Starbucks I am sitting in in Hell’s Kitchen, are four producers who have been discussing for the last hour the film that they are getting ready to shoot in a few months. ( A cop movie that they feel is going to be like “The Departed”, “not in tone…but in feel.”)
In the last week, I’ve gone to various coffee shops to do some projects of my own, and each and every time, I end up getting sucked into the conversations of those around me. A couple of days ago in Doma (this great cafe in the Village), I sat witness to a couple of journalists discussing all the interviews they’ve done and the trials and tribulations of being a freelance writer in Manhattan. The guy, who was going to do an interview with David Lynch the next day, suggested to his friend that when he really needs to make some money, he’ll do a feature for Maxim. ( Big payout, Huge Boobs, I suppose.)
And just yesterday at Doma, I sat next to a group of girls, all about my age, discussing their new blogging venture: a journalistic investigation of Life After College. ( “Remember Girls, Tell a Story. Tell something specific. Let’s not try to be too big”). Of course, their conversation devolved into an hour-long SATC: The Younger Years discussion of their sexual misadventures ( ” He came in my mouth and then just left. I didn’t even get my orgasm!”). But that just adds to the “charm.”
I used to think these kinds of conversations, in public cafes, where people of artistic value ( or at least, those aiming to achieve some semblance of artistic value) didn’t exist outside of Seattle in the Late 90’s or some sort of candy-coated celluloid vision of the world.
But it exists. It exists here. Which is an oddly gratifying feeling.
As for me, I am seated, blogging and reading a script for a new film that is going into production that I just got hired on yesterday. Which is also gratifying. Yes. Yes, it is.
Ok, this may also be The Best Thing I’ve Ever Seen. Decisions…
Lost, “Jersey Shore” Style. ( Or more like Lost, as Done by a Large Extended Italian-American Family.)
AKA “The Best Thing I Have Ever Seen)
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If you go to a Ke$ha concert, you WILL be blasted with glitter.
From a new interview she did with Entertainment Weekly: “ “If I smear glitter on my face, you don’t have a choice—you will be more attracted to me. It’s part of our brand makeup. So anyway, then I started thinking, why just do my eyes? Why not my entire body? And at the end of my shows why don’t I put a backpack on that’s like a hand-held cannon and blast glitter at people? So not only do I look attractive, but so does everybody who’s dancing? It’s kind of like become my thing.”
This bitch is crazy. And I like it. Yes, it’s all probably very fabricated, in a look-at-me-I’m-so-edgy-and-unpredictable Megan Fox sort of way, but hey, I’ve always liked Megan Fox.
“On people thinking that she runs around with the likes of Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie:“Oh, gross! I’m from the opposite of that. Do you think that those girls dig through the garbage for their clothes? That’s what I’m saying. And, you know, would they live in a house with 10 people that they’ve never met, you know? And would they be OK if they never came home for four days and just went to Vegas on a whim? Like, would they never wear high heels when they go out so they can run from the cops? Very different.”
For More: Check out music-mix.ew.com/2010/01/21/kesha-quotes/
Jersey Shore: Super Mario Brothers.
Princess Peach “PWOW”: I’m Like a Piranha Plant. Once You Enter My Pipe, I’ll Bite Your Head Off.
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With all of this hooplah surrounding the late-night debacle and with the news today that Conan is being released from his contract with NBC for $40 million under the promise that he will not seek work until September 1, 2010…I thought it appropriate to reach into the vaults and post an article I wrote for The Columbia Spectator a while back. It was in the midst of the writer’s strike, before Conan had assumed hosting responsibilities for The Tonight Show, when I attended a taping of the program. What I witnessed then, with O’Brien being forced to come up with inventive and engaging bits without the aid of writers, was a host at the top of his game. Conan, you will be missed….Until September 1st, at least.
“Sometimes things aren’t exactly as they appear on television. No, the hyper-sexualized and overly pontificating young things on Grey’s Anatomy aren’t actually doctors. Those dying-off Oceanic Flight 815 survivors Lord of the Flies-ing it up on some mystical uncharted island? That’s actually Hawaii. Even with the purported reality of a show like The Hills, rumors abound of “re-stagings” of a fight or two—or, you know, every single one. And yet, with all of this stark cynicism fresh in my TV-addled mind, it still came as a shock to me when I finally walked into the almost pathetically small set of Late Night With Conan O’Brien—a room that‘s probably no bigger than 501 Schermerhorn.
After calling up NBC’s ticket office, requesting four seats, and waiting just six weeks, I was in the studio. Once the initial shock subsided, I soon felt a sense of intimacy, if not coziness, stemming from the confined space. The small set helps to create a surprisingly personal atmosphere that you wouldn’t expect from such a well-established show, now in its 15th season. A Conan clip reel got the audience laughing before the taping began, their hopes presumably building for a water-cooler moment—like the ones upon the screen—to occur in front of their very eyes. A warm-up comic came out, cracking jokes about how the show would start once Conan was done snorting coke backstage. Everyone assumed it wasn’t true. But still, little nuggets like this make you feel that, as the audience, you’re getting privileged information—what happens in Studio 6A stays in Studio 6A.
Finally, O’Brien came out to greet the audience, swirly-hair coiffed as ever. There seems to be no “off” switch to O’Brien—he is as vivacious off-camera as he is when the cameras are blinking red. At random, he picked one audience member and asked to hug him, then sent another one down to embrace Max Weinberg, the drummer and leader of the show’s in-house band, The Max Weinberg 7. O’Brien even accepted an odd trinket—some sort of button—from a most likely deluded female fan.
As the afternoon went on, I got the feeling that Late Night is not simply performed for the viewers at home. The band even plays for the audience during commercial breaks, for no other reason than to keep the people who attended entertained. There’s an impressive amount of showmanship, despite—or maybe because of—the fact that the WGA Writers’ Strike has left the show in uncharted territory. Conan is forced to fill time that had previously been occupied with written monologues and sketches. The Late Night taping I attended on Thursday, Jan. 31 seemed, for the most part, like business as usual. The guests—Dr. Phil, David Borgenicht (the author of The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook series), and musical act Les Savy Fav—were entertaining enough, but their appearances probably would have played out the same way whether or not there had been a strike. The show’s first act, though, was something different and new.
In his opening bit, O’Brien explained that since the show always favors the audience in the front, he was going to do the opening of his show not just for the back of the audience, but from it. Perched at a desk behind the top of the audience balcony, O’Brien involved the crowd in a variety of ways. Donuts were served, beach balls were thrown, a life-size Conan doll was sent downwards first to body-surf and then to be quickly mangled and violated by the crowd’s eager hands. Even though, as luck would have it, I was seated near the very front, I could still feel the electricity of an audience who earlier that day probably hadn’t imagined they would be so directly involved with the show, or that they would get so much camera time.
Upon walking out of the show, I ran into a page who looked curiously like 30 Rock’s eternally buoyant Kenneth, played by Jack McBrayer. I couldn’t resist myself. No, it wasn’t actually him. No, he does not idolize Kenneth. Yes, he does get that question a lot. No, he does not like it. I guess, in the end, I was at least partially right—things on TV aren’t always as they seem.”
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I am really conflicted in writing this. I am a big fan of Bethenny Frankel, from the Real Housewives of New York City. In fact, the New York series is (surprisingly, considering my tastes) the only of the Housewives Franchise that I watch. On top of that, Bethenny is my favorite of the ladies. She is humorous, engaging, brassy but never malicious, and most pertinent of all, has built an incredibly successful business empire that seems to have helped (mainly) women all over to become happier with themselves, and lose weight by, as her book states, becoming “naturally thin.” My only fear is, and the reason I’m writing this, is I don’t necessarily think many of the tips that Bethenny proclaims are healthy ways of becoming “naturally thin.”
The now-pregnant Frankel has stated that she struggled with eating disorders when she was younger and has overcome them. Which is great. But tips like ” Taste Everything, Eat Nothing,” are classic eating disordered behaviors. It sounds good at first, but as reviewers have mentioned, she advocates tips such as having “three bites of everything” you want and then pawning the rest of your food off on your dining companions. Disclaimer: I have not read Bethenny’s book, but I am a follower of her on various sources and have come across, time and time again, statements that make me pause. Make me think, should this be the woman giving advice to people on how to become “naturally thin”? Talk like this isn’t new, and I’m not the first one to bring it up. There was buzz in the blogosphere a few months ago in early July that she is addicted to laxatives, when the New York Post wrote a blind item “Which unnaturally thin celebrity chef credits her bony frame to good eating habits, but really is addicted to laxatives?” Aside from blind items that point suspiciously to the BRAVO star, there are other statements that Bethenny herself makes that don’t necessarily prove she still struggles with disordered thinking, but seem to suggest it’s certainly possible that she might.
Take this YouTube video for example, where she gives you a recipe for her famous skinnygirl margaritas. Near the end, if you skip to 2:20, she says, ” When I go out to dinner and people order a Margarita with salt, I cringe, because really…And everybody gets mad at me because I’m such a stick in the mud, I’m annoying and I should be having more fun…I have a lot of fun, but I cringe when people order a Margarita with salt. It’s like I feel like my ankles are swelling and I’m bloated thinking about it.”
Doesn’t exactly sound like the thoughts of someone who has stopped obsessing about food, dieting, and her own weight. It seems like Bethenny doesn’t live by the central idea that her empire is based on: That you can live a naturally thin life, by making lifestyle changes, without “dieting” and without being neurotic about food.
Again, I am hesitant to even bring up this topic because she has clearly helped many women and I only wish the best for her. I just also wish that many of her tips, were, well “healthier.”
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Shania Twain for permanent American Idol Judge next year, to replace Simon.
Though having a panel of three women ( Ellen, Kara, and Shania) and Randy is not likely. Perhaps for the X-Factor. Nonetheless, this woman needs to get back into the public consciousness, and soon.
Love her. Forever and For Always.
Disclaimer: I used to write movie reviews. In high school, I used to write movie reviews. For a short while. For the teen section of a large South Florida newspaper. And, being young and unassuming (and importantly, not invited to advance press screenings), I would indulge my curiosity and read reviews. Reviews of the movies I had yet to see and had yet to write about. Always influenced by other writer’s words, I soon after decided that I would never read criticism of something I was going to review myself. At least not before I had written my own response.
That was years ago. Except for the sporadic articles I wrote while in college for the Columbia Spectator, I have gotten long out of that game. And so, with that concern out of the way, as an avid entertainment junkie, I read as many reviews as I can get my hands on. I never let them deter me from watching something, but it would be a blatant lie to say that I don’t get influenced. I’m human (or so I’ve been told.)
The above is a long preamble to this: I have been looking forward to Life Unexpected for quite some time. For months, I have read how it hearkens back to the days of the Old WB, the days of Felicity and Everwood and Dawson’s Creek, where caustic wit and tender sentimentality often went hand-in- hesitant-hand. As the poster above states, with a quote from my former colleagues at TV Guide Magazine, it’s “Juno meets Gilmore Girls.” I was already salivating.
When I started blogging just earlier today, I knew I had to review the show. But I realized I had already, unwittingly, broken my cardinal rule. No reviews before writing. I don’t want to be effusive and praise something just so I can write in a snappy, overblown fashion…while parroting some other writer’s thoughts. So I stupidly counteracted and expected less of the show.
And that’s what I got. Life Unexpected starts out pleasant enough. I sat there thinking, ”It’s quippy, it’s warm, it’s got a great plot… It’s nothing special. Certainly not groundbreaking and, in retrospect, not even as solid as the original pilots of those old WB Shows that is has been compared to.” The show to watch in 2010, the show I had such high hopes for seemed to just be passing in front of my eyes. My, at that point, dry eyes.
At about the three-quarter mark, by the time the show returned from its last commercial break, something in the ethos shifted. My eyes had by this point become wet with salty, sentimental goodness. Although it may not be as ambitious as other “brilliant” shows like Lost or Mad Men, Life Unexpected is, in it’s own little way, just as wonderful. I had fully innoculated myself from its charms in an effort to be journalistically sound, to not be sucked in by other reviewer’s praise. And Still. It still got me by the end.
Life Unexpected is one of those shows that will grow on you. From just one episode alone, I can see it, feel it.
Watch this. Knowing what the plot is doesn’t matter. It never should. When something is done well, that should be reason enough. You have your reason.
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Take a Bite of My Bad Girl
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