Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Dull as Dirt Squared

As anyone that knows me, knows, I love an awards show.  I use to watch them all, but as time marches on they are becoming far too predictable and unexciting. The only Awards show that has never been dull in all its television airings is The Golden Globes.  The MTV Music Awards are supposed to be risqué, cutting edge, down and dirty, but this year...dull for the most part.  Hard to surpass the buzz of Miley Cyrus last year twerking on Robin Thicke.  That had legs for days.  Nothing like Beyonce cleverly announcing her pregnancy to the world, two years ago. This year nada.  No shocking or surprising moment. Okay, well maybe one.  Miley Cyrus won best video of the year and had Jessie, a homeless young man, accept the award on her behalf, while she teared up 20 feet away.  It was a beautiful moment and shined the light on a problem that is not singularly Los Angeles, but focussed on the L.A. boulevard of broken dreams.  Beyonce received the Michael Jackson Vanguard Award and performed a 16 minute show.  She was fantastic.  She looked amazing, sounded amazing, and had the audience at the first note.  Topped off by Jay Z, her rumored estranged husband, and her baby girl, Blue Ivy coming on stage and giving her the award.  It was a beautiful moment.  They did a magnificent job of squelching any marital woe rumors.  They were the picture perfect family.  It ended with no goodnight, that's all folks, thanks for watching, nothing.  It was weird television and then just started re-airing from the beginning.  

As a dear friend of mine pointed out, no one acknowledges that they give out best video awards and MTV and VH1 hardly air videos anymore.  How do they decide on the winner?  Is it how many hits the video gets? No mention of the accounting firm of Price/Waterhouse. It's really a bizarre phenomenon and we just all watch and ignore the oddity of it all.  Though if the show continues to be boring next year, they may have a problem.  

Okay, now the next night we are graced with another Red Carpet event and the Emmys hosted by Seth Meyers. His opening was funny and safe.  He did point out how few network shows are nominated and how many nominations HBO and Netflix received.  I had discussed that earlier and still think they may have a problem in future years doing an Emmy show on primetime networks.  Maybe it will have to move to HBO or Netflix to gain viewers and traction.  

Okay, so now a few observations of the evening.  Very disappointed not to see Lena Dunham's dress on stage.  She never fails to dress so expensively and unattractive.  Stunningly ugly couture.  Stephen Colbert bombed so badly, I wondered if CBS got nervous about hiring him to take over for David Letterman.  You could hear a pin drop. Gail Mancuso had by far one of the best speeches of the night and she won for best director for a comedy series. 

I seriously can't stand how many repeat winners for the same role and the same show occurred.  The talent pool is ridiculously great and to keep giving awards to Jim Parsons, Breaking Bad, Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, and others makes it boring.  I'm not saying that these people or shows aren't worthy, but there are others just as worthy these days, and they should spread the statues around. The categories were filled with stellar talent and not a bad or undeserving actor in the bunch.  The repeat winners have always occurred but in today's television market, the quality is incomparable to days gone by.  Also, can someone please give me the definition of a mini-series?  There seems to be no clearcut differentiation from a series.  In the olden days, when we had mini-series events, there was no question. Holocaust, Roots, Rich Man Poor Man, would begin and end within two weeks and glue viewers to their TVs.  Now, series like Fargo and American Horror Story return for new seasons are called mini-series.  Clarification, please.  Thrilled that Joe Morton won for Scandal, though he didn't get to accept his award on primetime, and the beautiful Julia Roberts pronouncing the "t" in "often" almost put me away.  WTF?  You are a girl from small town Georgia, when did you start that?  That is a new affectation.  Ugh!  Julia, stop it.

In memoriam was fitting and moving.  Up first, Sara Bareilles singing Smile as the photos of some of our favorites flash upon the screen.  It's always shocking and sad to remember who died since last year.  And then, what kept most people watching...Billy Crystal's heartfelt and very touching tribute to Robin Williams.  It was just right. Perfection.  I am still just so sorry for the gravity of the loss, and I'm just a fan.  

Overall, the Emmys couldn't have been more dull.  I ran to watch Bachelor in Paradise after Billy Crystal.  I couldn't bear to sit through another 5 minutes of commercials.  I don't know about you, but it was incredibly commercial heavy.  I can't remember feeling like that before.  They presented an Award, then 5 minutes of ads, and award, then 5 minutes of ads.  It's not the Super Bowl. These commercials have been seen a ton of times.  Not clever or new.  Just commercial after commercial after commercial.  If the networks are having a tough time paying for the Emmys, maybe it's time to go to cable.  This can't continue in its current form.  Time to shake the trees up more.  

Sidebars:  The news has continued to be bleak, so very happy to have some light fare to distract.  Tonight is America's Got Talent again.  Still, if you aren't watching with your family, there's still time.  It's NBC's answer to Ed Sullivan, but with judges.  The San Francisco Giants are just killing their fans again.  They have had the lead in so many of the past week's games, and then lost.  The Yankees still have some hope.  Here's to my friend, Dave Sims, and the Mariners on a fantastic run.  Still rooting for the A's too.  Can't believe the amount of damage done by the most recent earthquake in Northern California.  Very surprising.  As the light of day happened, the reality set in.  Very lucky that it occurred in the middle of the night.  There would have been far more injuries if the streets were crowded in downtown Napa.   The poor vineyard owners.  First, dealing with a severe drought, and now many have lost valuable wine stock.  Hope there's no more shaking for another 25 years.  

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@Diana Podolsky

Monday, August 18, 2014

Who Took the Saint Out of St. Louis?

This past week we have watched from the comfort of our homes the complete and utter destruction between a community and the police that are supposed to protect them.  It's as if we haven't learned anything from all the protests and confrontations from the 60's and 70's.  How can the police force of Ferguson, a suburb to St.Louis that is largely African-American citizens, not learn from the past?  The Ferguson police force and local officials are almost 100% white.  Many don't live in the community and have not taken the time, over these many years, to build trust and confidence.  This is not a new story, but, oh my God, it is a harsh reality.  

If you have been out of the country or living under a rock, here's what happened in a nutshell.  A young unarmed black man was shot to death by a police officer.  Immediately, the police department failed to reach out to the family and the community. The citizens felt there was a thick "Blue Line" covering up whatever happened.  They wouldn't release the name of the officer.  The police failed to interview witnesses.  It seemed justice wasn't going to be served for this young man.  So, the people of Ferguson began protesting peacefully in the streets and the police over reacted.  That's how it feels from my arm chair.  Police forces now are equipped with military equipment.  Remember during the Boston Marathon bombing all the army tanks and things rumbling through the streets of Boston?  It was shocking to see, but Boston is a big city on the coast and may have felt it necessary to be fully armed, but why did the police force of Ferguson feel the need?  What are the chances of a terrorist attack?  Slim to none, thankfully.  

Why are the police fully loaded? Well, I think that all the irresponsible rhetoric being thrown around has instilled irrational fears in so many Americans.  The bigger the guns and tanks, the safer they are.  Have you seen that Geico ad on television?  Words do hurt. Sticks and stones and words hurt.  Between social media, radio talk show hosts, and crazy far-right wingers, a lot of paranoia and fear has built up in the past decade.  Anyway, the point is the Ferguson police department, pulled out the big guns on their own citizens.  They over-reacted and didn't think about the pain and suffering of the community.  The Governor of Missouri should have stepped in publicly immediately and not waited 4 days to make a statement (and that was after the President of the United States did).  Governor Nixon should have brought in the National Guard from day one of the protesting, rioting, and tear gassing of the citizens trying desperately to get answers.  It took six days for the Police Chief to release the police officer's name and in the same breath released a video of the victim possibly robbing a convenience store for cigars.  Seriously?  Good move?  The Governor should have taken control of the situation immediately and cut off the ill-prepared and ignorant local authorities.  

And now the truth comes out last night...Michael Brown, the unarmed man, was shot over six times???  Really?  He didn't have a weapon, he wasn't caught in the middle of a crime, he was shot for what?  Disrespecting a cop?  I don't know.  There are witnesses that weren't ever interviewed until the FBI and the Justice Department came in.  There have been multiple injuries from the over zealous police force.  Another person was killed in the riots and many suffered from all the tear gas bombs.  Two journalists were arrested for not moving quick enough or some made up charge.  Both were released the day after.  The Governor got caught with his pants down.  He didn't want to get involved until his hand was forced.  

It is dreadfully sad and tragic in its entirety, but what's worse, too many communities haven't shifted with the ever changing demographics.  Communities are changing all across America.  People have to demand a more diverse government and police force to represent all the people that live there.  I really am surprised and, sadly, not surprised that we are here again.  It is unbearable to see a part of St. Louis under siege as if we were in Mosul.  

Communities and local governments, wake up!  Look around and see who is your neighbor.  To the people of Ferguson, please stay strong, demand changes, and vote in your elections.  I am truly sorry for the pain the Brown family is suffering and all the people of Ferguson.

Sidebars:  NBC did it again.  Remember how discgracefully they fired Ann Curry from the Today Show?  They took so much heat, as if they killed Bambi.  Did they learn from that?  Clearly, no.  Meet the Press unceremoniously dumped David Gregory who had been the moderator since the tragic loss of Tim Russert.  He did a good job.  He's not Tim Russert, and who is, but he's very credible and smart.  The rumor mill really picked up steam that David Gregory would be replaced.  After NBC got all their ducks in a row and got David Gregory to sign off, they didn't even have him come back to do a final show.  Just like that, poof, gone.  Poor Andrea Mitchell had to fill in on Sunday morning's show and do a BS homage to David Gregory.  If they liked him so much, they wouldn't have treated him so shabbily.  What a crappy business!

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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A Tortured Soul

I was in a dressing room when I read the news on my phone about Robin Williams.  I burst into tears.  So sad.  I figured he had a heart attack at the age of 63 from so much drug abuse, so when I got home and read all the reports that he actually committed suicide, my sadness went deeper.  It's no surprise that Robin Williams fought demons.  Throughout history geniuses have shown to suffer a deficiency in another area of the brain because their genius takes up so much brain power. And that is what Robin Williams was, a genius.  

The word genius gets thrown around a lot, just like the word hero, but Robin Williams was a force of energy that couldn't be contained.  When he first sprung onto the television screen as Mork in "Mork and Mindy," he took the world by storm.  (Before I get corrected, I know Mork began on Happy Days). Immediately everyone was talking about him and his incredible talent.  He followed Mork up with another four letter character as Garp in The World According to Garp.  A definite sharp turn from Mork and a glimpse into his expansive talent.  His mile a minute radio DJ in "Good Morning, Vietnam!" again took us to another level.  It wasn't until his stand as John Keating in "Dead Poets Society," that he solidified himself not only as a comic genius, but also as a deeply talented actor.  If you missed this movie, it is well worth your time.  The beauty and poetry of the entirety makes this one of the greats. There are so many great movies in his repertoire.  Who can forget his Academy Award winning role in Good Will Hunting?  But the character that put him over the top and forever exemplified his exquisite talent, Aladdin.  In his portrayal of the Genie, he achieved greatness like none other. His lightning speed transition from character to character achieved Robin Williams singular greatness in animated filmdom and a wet dream for the animators. I can't forget Mrs. Doubtfire, which I can watch over and over again.  There are too many favorite movies and characters to write about fully.

I am going to tiptoe into the world of depression.  I have minimal experience, but even in my "darkest" days, I can't understand true chronic and severe depression.  What strikes me is how alone he must have felt.  How deep the pain he must have experienced.  How he wanted it all to stop. Many people think that suicide is a selfish act.  It's not that simple.  This isn't a person who did a bad thing and couldn't take responsibility for his actions.  This is a tortured soul that clearly couldn't take it anymore. He succeeded in taking his own life, but his family, his friends, and his fans lost so much. All of us are wallowing in the loss.  Maybe we are the selfish ones....

Robin Williams a genius talent that will live on in our memories and on screen.  Robin Williams was a big hearted supporter of causes.  Can't forget the success of Comic Relief to raise money to help homeless people, along side Billy Crystal and Whoopi Goldberg.  His committed and loyal friendship to Christopher Reeve before Mr. Reeve's accident and especially afterwards.  We can't forget how much he loved and lost.  First Christopher Reeve and then, his comic foil and father figure, Jonathan Winters.  Maybe it was all just too much for him.  Maybe he believed that after the pain, they'd all be together again. 

I'm sure that none of us can understand this completely.  I am grateful that we even got the chance to witness his greatness for almost four decades.  He gave a lot and maybe had no more to give. R.I.P. O Captain, My Captain.

Sidebars:  So happy to take a break, even with the death of Robin Williams, from all the world events.  I will get back there.  I will again say how much I hate the euphemisms of death.  On MSNBC last night, they said that Robin Williams passed away.  Hate that.  Feels so wussy to not say the harsh truth.  He committed suicide or he died.  Passed away is for those lucky enough to die in their sleep.  Being killed by a gun, isn't "passed away."  Being hit by a car isn't "passed away." And while I mention being killed by a gun, I can't go silent on the death of James Brady.  He took a bullet for President Reagan as his press secretary.  Lived with physical challenges for decades and finally died from his gunshot wounds 30 plus years earlier.  He and his wife spent the rest of his life fighting for gun control. With some success, they did get some laws passed, which have since been whittled away.  R.I.P. James Brady.  Tonight, sit down with your family and watch America's Got Talent on NBC.  Great family fare.  Hug the people you love and little tighter today.

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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

One, Two, Three Strikes

So finally, I can take the time to dwell on Cooperstown, NY.  It's been two weeks.  Seems like months since we came back from our 3 day jaunt Northwest of NYC.  I am a fan of baseball.  I am not a stat head  at all.  All those stats are meaningless to me, for the most part, but I love watching the game.  Cooperstown and the Baseball Hall of Fame were on my bucket list.  I never imagined what it would be like but finally two weeks ago, my husband planned the short trip.  He made a reservation at an incredibly beautiful grand hotel named the Otesago.  Gorgeous. Old school. Actually, it was originally built as a girls' school in the 30's, but they have transformed it into one of the most charming hotels I've ever stayed at and from there, you can walk to main street. I love not having to drive and park everywhere. It adds to the relaxation of the vacation.  We had unusually cool weather for summer.  The main street shops are all devoted to baseball.  Baseball everything.  There's one shop that custom makes bats.  There are t-shirts and MLB branded tchotchkes everywhere.  There are restaurants and ice cream every 3rd shop.  And then, there are the people.  People from all over; all devoted to baseball.  We happened to be there while there was a huge baseball tournament with 100's of teams of 11-13 year old boys.  The town was a buzz and revving up to the following weeks new induction ceremony for the Hall of Fame.  

Spending the day at the Baseball Hall of Fame was fantastic.  So much to see.  The space is very crowded with all the treasures and memorabilia from the sport.  I am guessing that they had no foresight that it would be such a fantastic mecca for baseball fans, but they are growing out of their space and I can't see how they can expand.  There is a short film that they push that is such a disgrace and waste of time, that if you go, don't bother.  It tells nothing and basically is a commercial for how much we love baseball.  The Babe Ruth area has some of the most interesting items.  Unfortunately, it is all displayed very tightly.  There is a section honoring and teaching about the Negro League.  A very small, but fitting area for Women's baseball from the 40's.  

BUT, and a big but, MLB has a serious problem.  How do they handle the steroid era?  It can't be ignored. It can't be swept under the rug, which is how it feels.  I think that there should be the Bud Selig area called the Selig Era.  MLB can explain that after the baseball strike in 1994, baseball was prepared to do anything to get fan support back.  Ergo, the steroid/Selig era was born.  Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa thrilled fans once again with the home run derby.  Barry Bonds kept hitting long and often out of the park.  Everyone was happy again!  Fans, networks, owners, and, most of all, MLB.  There is no part of me that doesn't think that this was all an open secret that served them all to become more rich.  The faux outrage from all the entities is ridiculous and hypocritical.  The other problem they have is Pete Rose.  They have banned him from baseball.  The sportswriters refused to vote him in to the Hall of Fame.  He was a gambler.  He was a gambler as a manager, so vote him in as a player.  No one deserves to be in there more than Pete Rose and without him, it significantly diminishes the whole.  

Hopefully, even with these serious tarnishes on MLB, people will continue to visit, enjoy, and learn some of the history.  What makes baseball history more relevant than any other sport is that it spans and covers all of 20th century history.  It's a great way for kids to learn about America.  

Sidebars:  On a personal note, so proud of my husband. He wrote a magazine article a few years ago about Hilda Chester, a very famous fan of the Brooklyn Dodgers. The article is in the archives at the Hall of Fame forever! Did you hear that Alan Freed has to find a new resting place?  No seriously, did you? Alan Freed's ashes have been on display at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame since its inception.  They are now asking the family to remove the urn.  OMG!  What a disgrace. First of all, Alan Freed is Rock and Roll and probably the only reason that Cleveland can justify its housing the museum there.  So wrong and another knock to the validity for the raison d'être. Went to see the San Francisco Giants at CitiField yesterday. Beautiful ball park, but really, Mets, only exemplifies your lack of history and greatness when you highlight Dodger greats Jackie Robinson and Gil Hodges.  Would be remiss not to mention the passing of James Brady. The gun control lobby has lost a great champion. Watched Bachelor in Paradise and didn't feel too dirty.  America's Got Talent live tonight with the next batch of acts.  If you are home, worth watching.  Great for the whole family.  

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