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And Hell Freezes Over…

8 Sep
Glenn Beck

I swear I didn't hunt for this, and that it was not the lest-flattering picture at the top of the Google image search.

It seems Glenn Beck–a Fox News personality whose style I feel perpetuates and exacerbates the trends in American culture that are least-conducive to responsible citizenship–has made a point I actually agree with.  I’m not going to link to it, because I don’t want to use the awesome influence of my readership to boost his hit count (I don’t want to brag, so I won’t get into specifics, but my readership for new articles regularly exceeds the single-digits.), but the quote comes from a brief blog post Beck wrote in response to the upcoming Burn a Koran Day: Continue reading

People Who Kind of Look Like Minor Characters from LOST/An Ode to Rose and Bernard

29 Aug
Sam Anderson, who plays Bernard

I swear that this post is totally about showing you a photo of a guy who kind of looks like a younger version of Bernard, but just let me ramble at you for four paragraphs first, okay?

Rose and Bernard’s story will likely be remembered as Lost‘s most consistently compelling and surprising plot thread: L. Scott Caldwell’s theater commitments meant that she wasn’t available often enough for the characters to become the subject of wheel-spinning, and so no scene with Rose or Bernard was ever wasted. The show’s main characters may have consistently missed the point of their own stories, but Rose and Bernard could always be counted on to put a button on who the people around them were and bring the show’s underlying themes to the surface.

Bernard’s introduction was also one of the show’s biggest surprises. Not only did the moment redeem Rose’s unflappable confidence, it was also Lost‘s clearest statement about love and prejudice: Because Rose had never mentioned that she was in an inter-racial marriage, most of the audience members had just assumed that her husband was black. Hurley spoke for the audience, as he so often did, when he said, “Rose’s husband is white? Didn’t see that coming.”

When we finally saw Rose and Bernard reunite, their easy comfort with one another seemed like the type of mature love that is earned through decades of living, fighting and laughing together. I for one expected their inevitable flashback episode to explore what it had to have been like for them to meet and fall in love decades ago: Did they meet as young kids during the Civil Rights era? Maybe we were going to be in for an inverted version of Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? Was it possible that their relationship was going to serve as some kind of analysis of 1980s American business?

As we all know now, their flashback didn’t go further back in time than a year or so. It was silly to think that they would have been able to find two actors to believably represent both of the late-middle-aged characters twenty years earlier. But part of me thinks that if they really tried, they could have found someone to play Young Bernard. I know that I did on the subway a couple months ago, and you can see a picture of him after the jump. Continue reading

For No Good Reason: The Upper West Sayid

27 Aug
Upper West Sayid

Upper West Sayid

Thanks to Sara Cohen.

You’re Welcome, World: Werner Herzog Talks About Pro Wrestling

26 Aug

It’s easy to ramble on for a couple hundred pages (or blog posts) about how amazing German filmmaker Werner Herzog is, and that’s before you even get to discussing any of his finished films.  The man has forced actors to work at gunpoint, ate a shoe Charlie Chaplin-style when he lost a bet, was shot while giving an interview*, and even hypnotized Joaquin Phoenix into surviving a car crash.

*By the way, remember a second ago when I said he was shot while giving an interview?  Well–and this part is important, so pay attention–he didn’t stop giving the interview.  Not while being shot at.  Not after having been shot.  Not while having a doctor remove the bullet from his body and patch up the wound.  Herzog promised the reporter an interview and that was all there was to it.

“Okay, Rick,” I can hear you thinking.  “We already know that Herzog is secretly an emissary of the Time Lords, his quirky ways the natural result of understanding and processing the world on a level not yet matched by any human thought.  That’s old hat.  But what does he think of professional wrestling?”

And I am oh so glad you asked, because, as part of an interview promoting a film that has absolutely nothing to do with professional wrestling, Herzog recently took a few moments to discuss his opinions of professional wrestling.  Check out the video after the jump. Continue reading

TSOL 3: Backing out of LOST, One Episode at a Time

25 Aug
TSOL

TSOL

David Gaynes has offered up his thoughts on “Across the Sea,” the Lost episode that contextualized the contest between Jacob and the Man in Black (and finally revealed what those freaking skeletons were).  David’s reactions to Alison Janney’s bad parenting and a REALLY off-color caption about Walt Whitman after the jump! Continue reading

Flasharound 2: Backing out of LOST, one episode at a time

7 Aug
TSOL

TSOL

After the jump, David Gaynes provides his somewhat dampened response to Lost‘s penultimate episode.  It looks like season six might be a bumpy ride for him…

Continue reading

A Love Letter

7 Aug

The banner at their second location.

One of my favorite episodes of How I Met Your Mother centers around the gang engaging in one of my favorite pass-times: Hunting down the best burger in New York. (For my money, by the way, it’s at Stage Restaurant on 2nd Ave.) However, being HIMYM at its best, the episode makes a greater statement about life in New York: It opens with a voice-over lamenting the way the city has changed over the years, with favorite rock clubs, dive bars and lounges giving way to drug stores, restaurants and banks.

Spots you love tend to disappear around here. Sure, some places that have played a big role in my personal experience of New York so far are still around—we still have Skylight Diner and the UCB Theater, for example—but in the eight years that I’ve been here, even hallowed institutions like the Second Ave Deli have shuttered their doors. Other places that are still open, like Castro’s in Fort Greene, are barely recognizable.

For me, though, I think my biggest New York loss will always be K’av’eh’az.

Continue reading

Backing into Lost, One Episode at a Time

19 Jul
TSOL

TSOL

You can decide for yourself which is sadder: The fact that multiple people have asked me this year what I’m going to do once Lost is over, or the fact that I actually have an answer.

As the final episode approached, preparing for my finale party ended up consuming a lot of my time. I have several written-but-unedited posts about “The Candidate,” “Across the Sea,” and “What They Died For” sitting on my hard drive, but getting ready to host thirty Lost-loving revellers (in my none-too-spacious Manhattan apartment) took priority over finishing them. You’ll see them in some form soon, as well as my own take on “The End.”

David Gaynes

I promise I'll get a better photo from him soon.

However, this post isn’t about wrapping up my own coverage of Lost‘s final season. Instead, I’d like to introduce you to David Gaynes, an award-winning documentarian who is going to continue writing about Lost for us from a fresh and unexpected perspective. David is a unique voice in the world of independent documentary film. He is the director of the forthcoming documentary feature Saving Hubble and directed the award-winning Keeper of the Kohn. His films have been seen on PBS stations, film festivals, educational venues and in his parents’ living room. David is from Weston, CT, studied Public Policy at Hamilton College and currently lives in New York City.

And he has never, ever seen an episode of Lost.

David has graciously agreed to be the subject of a little experiment: Given the chronologically fractured nature of Lost‘s narrative and the show’s habit of posing questions and only imply the answers, what would it be like for a new viewer to go through show backwards? Starting with “The End,” and ending with “Pilot,” David is going to answer that for us.

You can find David’s first entry in Flasharound: Backing into Lost, One Episode at a Time tomorrow evening. He’s going to aim for one or two episodes a week, but as this is a magnanimous side project for him, please be patient with him.

Me, on the other hand? Feel free to lambast me whenever you want for abandoning you for two months at a time.

GravyBoat Primer: Parks and Recreation

16 Jul

Statistically speaking, you’ve probably never seen Parks and Recreation, even though it’s one of the funniest TV shows around. After a lackluster first season, the show had an inspiring creative renaissance, and became last season’s most consistently impressive half-hour of free television.

Well, for the next two weeks, Hulu is offering up two episodes that, in total, serve as a pretty decent introduction to the show, highlighting four of the sitcom’s greatest strengths: Amy Poehler’s world-renowned improvisation, a lovingly cynical worldview, an ensemble with great chemistry, and Nick Offerman as the truly sublime Ron Swanson.

Let these two episodes whet your appetite, then go ahead and binge on the rest of season two. You’ll be glad you did.

In “Practice Date,” Rashida Jones helps Poehler practice for an upcoming first date while the rest of the ensemble, inspired by a Mark Sanford-esque sex scandal, digs around one another’s past for whatever dirt they can find:

In “Ron and Tammy,” Nick Offerman’s Ron Swanson re-connects with one of his ex-wives (played by his real-life wife Megan Mullally):

George Lopez is Bad at His Job

20 May

I feel bad for Jorge Garcia.  Over the past few nights, key members of the Lost cast and crew have been making the rounds on the talk show circuit, trying to drum up some awareness of their cute little show’s upcoming finale.  Executive producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse are getting interviewed by the New York Times‘ entertainment editor.  Matthew Fox was relegated to Jimmy Fallon’s show, but even that was an interesting and relatively entertaining interview.

But Jorge?  He gets stuck on Lopez Tonight, and boy is it awkward.  Lopez does his best to make the interview interesting, but only really seems engaged once the conversation turns to the toilets in the building and hypothetical situations in which Garcia would urinate himself.

When I was in college, I was working for a pop-culture magazine that had assigned me the task of finding and interviewing a middle-aged virgin as a tagalong piece for their review of The 40-Year-Old Virgin.  I found a guy online (and oh was that ever a fun thing for which to scour the internet) and conducted an interview that dripped with shame, fear and regret.  He tried to put a positive spin on something that plainly upset him; I had to pretend I didn’t recognize his dissatisfaction with his own life choices.  He had had no media training.  This was very likely his first interview, let alone his first interview with a national magazine from an international imprint, it covered a topic he was ashamed of.  To make matters worse for him, it was being conducted by a kid half his age, and he had no way of knowing that I didn’t consider him the butt of a joke.  I couldn’t interrupt him to say, “Hey, man, I consider celibacy a perfectly legitimate lifestyle, so don’t worry about my editors making fun of you before this goes to print,” because that just would have made things even less comfortable.

The interview ended up never running, probably because it was awkward and not at all entertaining.

That’s all to say, I know a thing or two about bad interviews.  And George Lopez, a seasoned and professional entertainer, in conducting an interview with another seasoned and professional entertainer, was exactly as bad at his job as a 20-year-old editorial assistant talking to a frightened introvert about a delicate and embarrassing topic for a national audience.

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