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Somebody, pinch me

July 25 is my birthday–my 21st birthday. A lot of fun, memorable (most likely regrettable) things will happen. But perhaps, more important than all of those things is that AMC has chosen that day for the Mad Men season 4 premiere.

If you haven’t seen, Mad Men is “set in 1960s New York, the sexy, stylized and provocative AMC drama Mad Men follows the lives of the ruthlessly competitive men and women of Madison Avenue advertising, an ego-driven world where key players make an art of the sell. The latest season of the show takes place in 1963.”

Jon Hamm is the womanizing, mysterious, handsome family man/ad man Don Draper. The cast also features Elizabeth Moss, January Jones, John Slattery and Christina Hendricks.

Since it’s a period show, a lot relies on costume and production design, and this show has won many awards for that already. It’s won the Golden Globe three years in a row for Best Drama Series and Best Actor in a Drama Series. The plot still has me hooked after three seasons. And hopefully, this summer won’t be an exception.
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This summer the movie theater queue will feature what seem to be some big blockbusters. To name  a few Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, The A-Team and The Last Airbender.

But you can have your Jake Gyllenhaal, your Dev Patel and your Bradley Cooper. I will take Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon Levitt and Ellen Paige in a movie about dreams. But not just dreams…

The teaser trailer had me excited for months, but now with the full trailer, I can’t wait. Yes, I have a particular affinity for the actors , but, really, it looks ground-breaking.

I will tell you what I hope it’s not. I hope it’s not Wanted. Matrix effects here and there with some explosions and some grand idea of thinking outside the box of society. Wanted was Fight Club meets Matrix with a rat explosions. Ew.

With the way they’re publicizing this movie, I hope it’s  as much of a surprise as they’re implying. I haven’t seen a really great movie in a while, and hopefully, on July16, this will break the spell.

Here’s the IMDB synopsis:

Acclaimed filmmaker Christopher Nolan directs an international cast in an original sci-fi actioner that travels around the globe and into the intimate and infinite world of dreams. Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a skilled thief, the absolute best in the dangerous art of extraction, stealing valuable secrets from deep within the subconscious during the dream state, when the mind is at its most vulnerable. Cobb’s rare ability has made him a coveted player in this treacherous new world of corporate espionage, but it has also made him an international fugitive and cost him everything he has ever loved.

Now Cobb is being offered a chance at redemption. One last job could give him his life back but only if he can accomplish the impossible inception. Instead of the perfect heist, Cobb and his team of specialists have to pull off the reverse: their task is not to steal an idea but to plant one. If they succeed, it could be the perfect crime. But no amount of careful planning or expertise can prepare the team for the dangerous enemy that seems to predict their every move. An enemy that only Cobb could have seen coming. This summer, your mind is the scene of the crime.

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In one of my first posts, I mentioned wanting to become a culinary artist or a tattoo artist, if not a writer. Well, I’ve been writing, but neglecting my other passions. I was thinking about what kind of chef I would be if I took up cooking.

Probably smack dab in  the middle of these two:

Liquid Nitrogen Capirihna by Chef Jose Andres

Paula Deen's "brunch hurger"

I don’t know what that top thing is, but it looks cool. Jose Andres got a spread in GQ’s “Men of the Year” issue for his success in culinary arts–and I do mean arts. He’s always experimenting and tampering with dishes until his customers begin complaining that they like it and he should just leave it alone. His restaurant is one where you get 10-30 courses. Each one, just a bite…or less.

Yes it’s very beautiful, and I’m sure dinner at his place is an experience, but I’m afraid it veers too close toward an experiement.

Mrs. Paula Deen however has some guarantees: lots of fat, lots of butter and lots more butter. Something about two Krisy Kreme doughnuts sandwiching a hunk of meat and  an egg, doesn’t say home cooking. It says heart attack.

I would make food attractive, but comforting. Healthy, but indulgent. Sophisticated but fun.

But maybe not that fun.

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It’s about to be summertime, and that means I must begin my reading list. How do I do that? I walk through the aisles of Barnes and Noble and see what pops out at me. Scrolling the virtual aisles of The Book Cover Archive, this is what I’ve come up with so far.

Leeann Falciani

Designer: Leeann Falciani

Text making noise.

Isaac Tobin

Designer: Isaac Tobin

As subtle sigh of relief.

Pete Garceaum, Nelson Mandela

Designer: Pete Garceau

Just beatiful, simple and powerful.

Jason Ramirez

Designer: Jason Ramirez

Funny and lighthearted. I usually don’t like vertical text, but with this, I dig it.

Ben Wiseman

Designer: Ben Wiseman

You got me. Very clever.

Will I read them all? Maybe not. Probably not. There’s still overflow from last summer, but they’re still nice to look at, right?

On Sunday, I drove all the way out (30 or so minutes) to Blufton, SC to the closest theater showing “Babies.” I was curious about it, but turns out, the title is not a metaphor or anything; it’s just a movie about babies.

Why did I go see it? The preview is  all these glimpses of babies and at the end of the trailer, the words flash on the screen, “THE BABIES ARE COMING.” So, I had to go see it, right?

Bayar from Mongolia. My favorite of the four babies in the movie.

I mean, I like babies. OK, I love babies. Most people find babies’ feet the most adorable thing, or when they say “Mama,” or the first time they lift their head or something. Yeah, OK, but I think I think when babies cry it’s adorable. Not just a normal cry, the gasping-for-air hiccup cry, and then they stop. Just like that. Brilliant actors babies are.

But did they need  a whole movie? Probably not. I thought there was going to be some angle. It’s a documentary by Focus Features made by a French production company. Sounds fancy. Where’s the dramatic story line? Where’s the trial and tribulation? Oh, yeah. Maybe it’s when the baby from Mongolia has plays with a goat. Wait, no that’s not it.

The movie documents the lives of four babies around the world, but it’s just a glorified international Mommies Day Out. And I don’t want to hear the “If you were a mom…” argument. Yes, moms probably like it more than I do. No, I’ve never birthed a child with whom I have that indescribable cosmic connection. But I bought a ticket to your “Babies” movie (admittedly, to write a review), and other than the nicely-shot footage and the adorable baby in Mongolia, there were too many times when I was bored.

And you’d be surprised (or at least I was) at how often the American woman is naked with her child. Lady, your skin and rotund shape are not as forgiving as your newborn’s.

My full review is on District, but here’s my final evaluation:

“From the clip of the umbilical cord to the first triumphant step, this movie makes a big deal of the little deals. If you’re a mother (or soon-to-be), this movie might be worth the matinee price. If you just love the YouTube videos of babies laughing, get ready to be on cute overload. If you don’t think babies are even real people until they can walk, talk and use a toilet, then this movie will be a reassuring contraceptive.”

This post is a little lengthy and it’s a step away from what I usually talk about, but stick with me. I’m really fired up about this one.

Newsweek ran an article in the May issue of Newsweek by Ramin Setoodeh called “Straight Jackets: Heterosexual actors play gay all the time. Why doesn’t it ever work in reverse?” It’s a bit of a heated argument as you can imagine, but on May 8, Tony-winning actress Kristen Chenoweth’s response to the article really got the fire going.

Setoodeh’s article starts with a review of the Broadway musical Promises Promises in which Sean Hayes (Jack from Will & Grace) plays a straight man opposite his on-stage love interest Kristen Chenoweth. His complaint: “Is it funny because of all the ’60s-era one-liners, or because the woman is so drunk (and clueless) that she agrees to go home with a guy we all know is gay?


While some of his accusations seem a bit hasty and I haven’t seen the show, I agree with him on a couple points. One being: “Most actors would tell you that the biographical details of their lives are beside the point. Except when they’re not. As viewers, we are molded by a society obsessed with dissecting sexuality, starting with the locker-room torture in junior high school.”

When you know an actor is gay, and he/she is playing straight, try as you might not, when Hayes giggles or flips his hand, you’re going to think it’s a slip. Or if Portia de Rossi on Arrested Development, I don’t know, wears a loose-fitting button down shirt, you might think that she isn’t upholding her character. Truth of the matter is, background (of the actor and the audience) is a bias.

I will say, yes, sometimes Cynthia Nixon seemed less believable sleeping with various men on Sex in the City after I found out she is gay. (It might have been the lesbian cliches: short hair cut and power suits.) But when I found out T.R. Knight (George on Grey’s Anatomy) is gay, I was astounded and impressed because there were no giveaways. Then I got angry when he started sleeping with all the girls on the show.

Was his character overcompensating? Should these actors have to make up for their life off-screen when playing a straight character? I don’t think so. While I do think some of Chenoweth’s response veered a little too far on the opposition considering her personal ties to the subject, I will take a line from her rebuttal, “We’re actors first, whether we’re playing prostitutes, baseball players, or the Lion King. Audiences come to theater to go on a journey. It’s a character and it’s called acting.”

The bias of an audience is theirs alone. It’s up to them to judge performances on what they are without the headlines on tabloids. It’s a “what if” question that’s nearly impossible to answer: If I didn’t know ______ was gay, would I see their performance as a straight character differently?

This could hold true for most actors. When Adam Sandler starts talking in a movie, on SNL or in an interview, you expect to laugh. You might even laugh when something isn’t funny because Adam Sandler is saying it. But when Spanglish, Click and Funny People came out, viewers didn’t respond as well because it seemed more false than familiar.

Just like Hayes played the flamboyant Jack and is gay off-camera, Adam Sandler is a comedic icon we recognize from classics like Happy Gilmore and Billy Madison and off-camera he is still the funny Jewish guy who sings the Hanukkah song. So in Spanglish, when he’s a middle-aged guy hating his life and in love with his pretty Latina housekeeper it’s a little harder to sell.

I couldn’t find a consistent statistic on a percentage of people who are homosexual, but we’re dealing in minorities here, people. What is a gay man’s opinion on Gyllenhaal and Ledger’s performances in Brokeback Mountain? I think the public is reacting to their performances from the standpoint of “Wow, look at these fetching straight actors making out on this breathtaking mountain. How did they muster up the courage to do that?” rather than “Are they actually pulling it off?”

It’s much easier for a heterosexual public (which we very much are), to say “He’s not acting straight enough,” than to say “He’s not acting gay enough.”

This “straight jacket” Setoodeh has invented seems to be just that, a figment of his own imagination in the case of Jonathan Groff (Spring Awakening, Glee) and Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother). But if anything, his article brought to my attention my own bias in believing actors on screen. Whether it’s laughing too hysterically at Adam Sandler’s occasional mediocre joke or pulling out the fine tooth comb on all things straight when watching Neil Patrick Harris, actors can only do so much on screen to convince a close-minded audience of their character.

It’s called suspension of disbelief. Yes, it was impossible for Will Smith to erase your memory with a blinking stick in1997 as Agent J. No, there is not really a teenage boy with spidey powers. But for 90 minutes, we let those things go–we believed it. Also believe that an actor can have sex with anyone they want off camera/stage and really sell it on stage–if you give them a chance.

If you’re interested, Setoodeh did respond to Chenoweth.

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This post is a little lengthy and it’s a step away from what I usually talk about, but stick with me. I’m really fired up about this one.

Newsweek ran an article in the May issue of Newsweek by Ramin Setoodeh called “Straight Jackets: Heterosexual actors play gay all the time. Why doesn’t it ever work in reverse?” It’s a bit of a heated argument as you can imagine, but on May 8, Tony-winning actress Kristen Chenoweth’s response to the article really got the fire going.

Setoodeh’s article starts with a review of the Broadway musical Promises Promises in which Sean Hayes (Jack from Will & Grace) plays a straight man opposite his on-stage love interest Kristen Chenoweth. His complaint: “Is it funny because of all the ’60s-era one-liners, or because the woman is so drunk (and clueless) that she agrees to go home with a guy we all know is gay?


While some of his accusations seem a bit hasty and I haven’t seen the show, I agree with him on a couple points. One being: “Most actors would tell you that the biographical details of their lives are beside the point. Except when they’re not. As viewers, we are molded by a society obsessed with dissecting sexuality, starting with the locker-room torture in junior high school.”

When you know an actor is gay, and he/she is playing straight, try as you might not, when Hayes giggles or flips his hand, you’re going to think it’s a slip. Or if Portia de Rossi on Arrested Development, I don’t know, wears a loose-fitting button down shirt, you might think that she isn’t upholding her character. Truth of the matter is, background (of the actor and the audience) is a bias.

I will say, yes, sometimes Cynthia Nixon seemed less believable sleeping with various men on Sex in the City after I found out she is gay. (It might have been the lesbian cliches: short hair cut and power suits.) But when I found out T.R. Knight (George on Grey’s Anatomy) is gay, I was astounded and impressed because there were no giveaways. Then I got angry when he started sleeping with all the girls on the show.

Was his character overcompensating? Should these actors have to make up for their life off-screen when playing a straight character? I don’t think so. While I do think some of Chenoweth’s response veered a little too far on the opposition considering her personal ties to the subject, I will take a line from her rebuttal, “We’re actors first, whether we’re playing prostitutes, baseball players, or the Lion King. Audiences come to theater to go on a journey. It’s a character and it’s called acting.”

The bias of an audience is theirs alone. It’s up to them to judge performances on what they are without the headlines on tabloids. It’s a “what if” question that’s nearly impossible to answer: If I didn’t know ______ was gay, would I see their performance as a straight character differently?

This could hold true for most actors. When Adam Sandler starts talking in a movie, on SNL or in an interview, you expect to laugh. You might even laugh when something isn’t funny because Adam Sandler is saying it. But when Spanglish, Click and Funny People came out, viewers didn’t respond as well because it seemed more false than familiar.

Just like Hayes played the flamboyant Jack and is gay off-camera, Adam Sandler is a comedic icon we recognize from classics like Happy Gilmore and Billy Madison and off-camera he is still the funny Jewish guy who sings the Hanukkah song. So in Spanglish, when he’s a middle-aged guy hating his life and in love with his pretty Latina housekeeper it’s a little harder to sell.

I couldn’t find a consistent statistic on a percentage of people who are homosexual, but we’re dealing in minorities here, people. What is a gay man’s opinion on Gyllenhaal and Ledger’s performances in Brokeback Mountain? I think the public is reacting to their performances from the standpoint of “Wow, look at these fetching straight actors making out on this breathtaking mountain. How did they muster up the courage to do that?” rather than “Are they actually pulling it off?”

It’s much easier for a heterosexual public (which we very much are), to say “He’s not acting straight enough,” than to say “He’s not acting gay enough.”

This “straight jacket” Setoodeh has invented seems to be just that, a figment of his own imagination in the case of Jonathan Groff (Spring Awakening, Glee) and Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother). But if anything, his article brought to my attention my own bias in believing actors on screen. Whether it’s laughing too hysterically at Adam Sandler’s occasional mediocre joke or pulling out the fine tooth comb on all things straight when watching Neil Patrick Harris, actors can only do so much on screen to convince a close-minded audience of their character.

It’s called suspension of disbelief. Yes, it was impossible for Will Smith to erase your memory with a blinking stick in1997 as Agent J. No, there is not really a teenage boy with spidey powers. But for 90 minutes, we let those things go–we believed it. Also believe that an actor can have sex with anyone they want off camera/stage and really sell it on stage–if you give them a chance.

If you’re interested, Setoodeh did respond to Chenoweth.

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