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Showing posts from July, 2010

Ellen Redeems Herself By Quitting American Idol

I have to admit, after watching the last season of American Idol, my love for Ellen Degeneres was dwindling.

It was painful watching her on a show where she clearly had little to contribute. I loved the idea of an average viewer/music-buyer as a judge on the show, but Ellen was obviously at a loss most of the time to size up what was wrong with the lackluster crop of contestants.

The only thing that made the experience worse was knowing that Degeneres had signed a multi-year contract, which meant the suffering would continue for years to come.

Thankfully, yesterday, that suffering came to an end.

Degeneres--through a very appropriate, honest and polite statement--left the show. You could almost hear the sigh of relief in the producers' equally polite statement.

It's nice to see this awful collaboration end amicably without finger-pointing, and it's redeemed my love for Ellen.

Rather than sit around for a few more years offering worthless advice (a la Randy Jackson) she decided…

Liev Schreiber: Overrated

Entertainment Weekly put out an article citing Liev Schreiber as one of the great actors of his generation, and it posed the question: Why isn't Liev Schreiber a bona fide movie star yet?

Here's why: Because average moviegoers are often smarter than magazines like Entertainment Weekly give them credit for.

Liev Schreiber is overrated.

He's worse than overrated--he's overused.

One of the things I like about movies is that sometimes, despite how hard Hollywood might try to shove someone down America's throat.

Well, Hollywood's tried to shove Liev on us for a long time, and moviegoers like me just weren't having it.

So what did he do?

He retreated to New York, where he gets lavished with praise and roles that are way beyond his abilities.

Basically, he gets to be a big fish in a little pond.

Don't get me wrong. I don't think he's a horrible actor. I think he's all right. Just all right. What I resent is that it's clear he thinks he's much …

Hope Shouldn't Replace Logic

Lately, there's a disturbing trend amongst people I know.

"Well, it HAS to happen."

I hear this a lot. A friend will be talking about something they want--money, a new job, a better place to live--and they'll start using very firm phrasing.

"It WILL happen."
"It's GOING to happen."
"It's pretty much SET."

Now, I understand the value of positive reinforcement, but what worries me is that these people are actually planning on their dreams coming true. The flip side of that is that they're not planning for anything else.

It reminds me of watching televangelists heal people. They place their hands on them, and suddenly a body full of cancer has been cured.

I'm not judging someone for wanting to believe that God or belief can come to their rescue, but the scary part is that those people will most likely never see a doctor again after the "healing" has occurred.

In my opinion, having a dream is fine, but keep in mind what i…

The Last Person Alive Not on Facebook

Recently, the last person alive not on Facebook was found in a cave on the Vermont/New Hampshire line.

His name is Ralph Freitas, and he was shocked to learn that there was such a thing as Facebook.

When it was explained to him that he'd been missing out connecting with everyone he's ever met in his entire life, his response was--

"Oh, I can do that now!"

He then whistled using two of his fingers, and in a matter of moments, three adorable chipmunks ran out of the forest and right up to him.

When interviewed, the chipmunks said that they'd tried to talk Ralph into getting Facebook, but he was hopeless with a computer.

One of the chipmunks turned out to be Bucky, star of the viral sensation "Bucky Looks at a Camera for Eight Minutes."

Ralph's cave was in decent condition for a man who has absolutely no idea that Betty White is cool again or that his third grade teacher is currently baking muffins.

It was impossible to determine his age, as he is not on Faceb…

The Death of the CD

Does anyone you know still buy CD's?

I was a little surprised when I stumbled upon an article today asking whether or not the CD is dead.

To me, it seems a pretty obvious answer--

Uh, yeah.

I don't mean to say that in a year or so all the CD stores will pack up their products and turn into supermarkets. In terms of relevance, however, I think the CD disappeared about two seconds after ITunes arrived on the scene.

In music, or in any art form, something is only alive as long as it's culturally relevant. So no, the CD isn't extinct, but is it still a relevant way to buy music compared to buying online?

Cassette tapes were still available to buy up until a few years ago, but when was the last time anyone you know bought a cassette?

I do still know a few people who buy CD's because they like the cover art. Some just like actually having something they can look at, which to me, makes sense.

The problem with buying music online is that you feel like you aren't really buyi…

Do I Really Write Like Chuck Palahniuk?

There's a brand new website that allows you to submit a writing sample so they can tell you which author's style is similar to your own.

As someone who writes frequently, I was excited to find out which brilliant literary mind is closely connected with mine.

Was I a Joyce? A Bronte? Henry James, perhaps?

So I submitted my writing sample and was told I most resemble--

Chuck Palahniuk.

Now, I wasn't terribly disappointed by this. After all, Chuck Palahniuk is not only a best-selling author, but he's something of a pop icon.

Being compared to the guy who contributed Fight Club to the world isn't too shabby.

The thing is...

I don't think I write anything like Chuck Palahniuk.

For one thing, I'm not an edgy writer at all. Palahniuk's not afraid to go into the darker dimensions of the human mind. I prefer to skate on top of the human mind like a little kid on a safely solid frozen pond.

When I heard Chuck Palahniuk, the first word that jumps to mind is "brave…

Diary of a Non-Drinker

Yesterday was my 26th birthday.

More than any other day of the year, I get asked one question over and over--

"You going to go out and get drunk?"

As someone who doesn't drink, I always feel a little awkward answering this question. When I do, I sound like I'm admitting to being a strict follower of some astringent religion or a character from Happy Days.

"No," I say, "I don't drink."

In the interest of full disclosure, I should say that I have had drinks. I've had about three drinks in my entire life, but I've never been drunk nor do I drink regularly.

There isn't any ethical or moral reason I don't drink. When I was younger I made a joke about the fact that my parents never cared if I had a drink or not, and I wasn't interested in doing anything that would constitute being rebellious.

Then again, my parents don't drink either, so we never had any alcohol in the house. I never really saw poeple drinking, and when I did, t…

Missing Mussolini

I work in a public place where people often feel the urge to chat with me about various topics--their lives, their thoughts, their nostalgia for former dictators.

Hmm, maybe I should back up a little.

To be perfectly honest, I was NOT working when one of the regular patrons at my workplace stopped by to chat with my co-workers. I stopped by to check on a few things, and overheard the conversation involving the phrase "missing Mussolini."

Of course, I was intrigued.

Missing Mussolini? Was that the name of some new movie? Someone could actually be talking about longing for an Italian despot, right?

I figured since I was off the clock, it was safe to inquire about what this gentleman was talking about. Normally, I would avoid any conversation dealing with politics--even World War politics. It usually leads to arguments, and you don't want to argue with people at work, especially in a public environment.

But as long as it was my day off, I thought, why not?

"Sir, did you …

The Church Embraces Technology--Should We Be Afraid?

After years of preaching that we should beware technology, the church has done a complete one-eighty and embraced it whole-heartedly in a move that some may find...creepy.

There is now such a thing as a virtual preacher. Now sermons can be given from a "mother church" and transported out to other churches all across teh country by using high-def imagery.

The church sees it as a way to reach even more people, but it's coming at a steep cost--somewhere between $50,000 to $2 million as reported by CNN.com.

You have to wonder--couldn't that money be better spent? Especially considering the institution using the technology is one that preaches against greed and champions helping the poor.

And what kind of message is it sending to have sermons phoned in? Isn't human connection one of the main reasons people go to church?

I can't help but feel that this may be another instance where celebrity preachers are hoping to increase their fame by adopting a "modern"…

A One Author Summer

There's a certain pressure that goes along with summer reading.

It starts when you're a kid in school. You're assigned a list of ten to fifteen potential books and told you have to read at least five of them.

Then when you're adult, you're assigned a list of twenty to thirty books by various magazines and websites, and told that if you don't get through all of them by September you're going to be missing out when you're well-read friends discuss their favorites at the Fall Book Club meeting.

It might be enough to make you avoid a book like Justin Cronin's The Passage. A big, bold, genre-busting book that might end up soaking up most of your summer--in a very good way.

Actually, I find that I can't put the book down, and after I finished it, I googled the author and found that his other books are all acclaimed and all vastly different from The Passage.

I thought to myself--what if I just spent the whole summer taking in a particular author's bod…

The Benefits of a Little City

It's weird living in a little city.

For one thing, you can't say you're from a small-town, and have people give you that "oh shucks, aren't you adorable" look.

On the other hand, you feel odd saying you're from a city, when the city you're talking about is less than half the size of most major U.S. cities.

I'm from Providence, Rhode Island, and whenever I'm in another state and tell people where I'm from they usually respond with "Long Island? You're from Long Island?"

"No," I say, "RHODE Island."

Instantly, they look disappointed.

I'm not going to have any fun farm anecdotes, but I'm still just as foreign to them as if I were from Uzbekistan.

At a play in New York, a woman mentioned to me that one of the actors in the play was recently on "Law and Order."

With complete sincerity she asked me--"Do you have Law and Order in Rhode Island?"

"Ma'am," I said, "I'm pret…

The Lindsay Lohan Media Circus

For those of us who thought the news of Lindsay Lohan going to jail was going to fade out as soon as she was actually put behind bars, today's headlines show that we're not going to be that lucky.

One of her friends made a comment that Lohan "has no intention of going to jail." She's hired a new lawyer, and plans to plead that she's being dealt with harshly because of her celebrity.

Now most of us would probably look at the situation and argue that, if anything, Lohan's celebrity is the only reason she wasn't put in jail sooner.

Many thought that she would use going to jail as a way to reinvent herself--it certainly worked for Martha Stewart. She was more popular after getting out of jail than she was when she began her prison sentence. In that case, however, there was some contention as to whether or not Martha was actually being targeted, whereas when Lohan explains why she shouldn't be going to jail, she sounds even guiltier than when the judge…

Can You Actually Rent Friends?

There's a website causing a lot of controversy in the news right now by suggesting that people should actually be able to profit from being a friend.

The site--Rentafriend.com--is owned and operate by a man named Scott Rosenbaum in Stewartsville, New Jersey. On the site, you can type in your zip code and find people in your area who will gladly go see a movie with you or scrapbook in your living room--for a price. Alternatively, you can put up your own profile and determine an hourly rate for yourself. If you want to contact anybody or have them contact you, you have to pay the site to do so.

The obvious question--Isn't this just prostitution without the sex?

The obvious answer? Yes, yes, and yes.

But that doesn't seem to bother anybody involved with the site. It seems to be another way the Internet allows shy people to connect with others that they wouldn't feel comfortable meeting out in public. Rosenbaum monitors all the profiles, and if he sees anything on the se…

The Emmy Round-Up

The Emmy nominations were announced today, and I was actually pleasantly surprised.

These particular awards aren't always known for recognizing new shows, but this year, there's more than a fair share of worthy and fresh nominees.

The only question I have is whether or not some of the nominees belong in the category they're in.

For example, would you say John Lithgow was a guest actor on this season of Dexter? I'd say he was a supporting actor, even was only meant to be for one year. The amount of material he has to submit would surely be more than your normal guest actor.

There was an awful lot of love for Glee and Modern Family. I don't think anyone was surprised that Fox's big hit was nominated, but it even managed to snag nominations for Chris Colfer (as scene-stealing Kurt), Kristin Chenoweth, and Neil Patrick Harris.

The Global Guts fan within me rejoiced that Mike O'Malley was nominated for an Emmy for his Glee guest spots.

(Mike O'Malley and "…