Thursday, October 28, 2010

I might as well have Cablevision...

As the World Series, a sporting event that I traditionally take an interest in, begins tonight, I feel it is important to muse on why it is that – this year – I have no interest whatsoever.

Yes, the answer is not particularly mysterious. The Yankees are not making an appearance. No Yankees. No Yael. Plain. Simple.

The first sign that the Yankees were doomed to a late fall, rather than a Late Fall, appeared when the Bombers failed to clinch the AL East. The Rays? Really? Let’s examine the reasons why a team should never trail behind The Rays.

Reason number one? Two words. Expansion Team. This team did not even exist when the Yankees began their current era of domination in 1996. In their 12 year lifespan, the team has required a name change and a color change to expand its marketability. I don’t care that the ascendance of The Rays indicates the potential for young teams from minor markets in Major League Baseball. I’m a New Yorker, a capitalist, and an enemy of the salary cap. For all I care, small teams from small towns can wither and die.

On that note, we approach reason number two. Tampa Bay. The 19th largest metropolitan area in the United States. A city known only for its beer-sponsored theme park. I realize I’m an obnoxious Northeastern snob. Still. Northern Florida? Yuck.

At the end of the day, the Yankees outlasted the Rays and at least made it to the ALCS – where they ultimately lost to a team from a metropolis that at least cracks the top five. Making it within two games of the pennant would be a major accomplishment for any of the other 29 teams in Major League Baseball. For the Yankees, it is like being asked to spend the off-season in a garbage dump. They may as well have not made the playoffs altogether. In New York, it's go big or go home.

Our discontent with a semi-final level finish is demonstrative of how life as a Yankee fan is emblematic of life in New York in general. We don't want good, we want great. We don't want mostly. We want always. For instance, as I walked home the other evening around midnight, I found myself legitimately angry that the Dry Cleaners was closed, preventing me from picking up my clothing. This is New York for goodness sakes! Everything is supposed to be 24 hours. Do I care that the Dry Cleaners only closes at 10 PM? No! I should be able to visit whenever I please. Do I take any solace in knowing that, EVERYWHERE else in the world, Dry Cleaners close at 6 PM and not a moment later? Nope. Closing at 10 PM is the New York city equivalent of a Yankees losing ALCS appearance. Okay, but not nearly good enough.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Unbearable Triteness of Being (an Unpaid Intern)

I need to vent. Seriously. I need to vent about life, about work, about school. Did I mention that I need to vent about work? And, alas, I cannot – for the protocols of the workplace prevent it. You see, as the New York Times Magazine not so subtly reminded us this past weekend, the internet is the end of the innocuous tirade. What was once a transient exercise in catharsis is now html-encoded permaglyph.
And so, despite the anonymity of this blog, we cannot occupy ourselves with topics of consequence and must turn instead to other things of import – i.e. movies and television shows.

Historically , the summer has been a veritable dead zone for television and a hotbed of cinematic delights. Of course, in 2010, a year that’s gotten increasingly strange with each passing day, the opposite is true. The small screen is shimmering while most summer blockbusters have been... well... busts.

Now, some of you are going to challenge my particular TV favorites – but, before you do, you should note that, as with all things in my life, I place a high premium on fun. As such, my summer TV accolades are awarded to the coolest crew at NBC Universal – the good people of USA Network. [Insert voice-over guy saying “Characters Welcome” here.]

Never has a network’s catchphrase been so accurate. (CBS’s “Welcome Home?” Really? Do I live with Les Moonves?) At USA, characters are not only welcome, but something of a prerequisite. Their shows, In Plain Sight, Burn Notice, and White Collar in particular, are chock full of engaging, fast-paced storylines, intriguing (and hot) men, and kick-ass women. They are examples of bubbly summer fare that never takes itself too seriously. Even In Plain Sight, a fascinating peek into the Witness Protection Program and the US Marshal Service, is banter-ific enough to keep the tone light.

Another great thing about USA programming? The myriad of West Wing alums who randomly show up to join the party. For starters, Mary McCormack and Josh Malina (WW’s Season 7 Lovebirds Kate Harper and Will Bailey), are In Plain Sight regulars. Richard Schiff (WW’s grizzly, yet lovable, Toby Ziegler) has guested on both IPS (as a rabbi!) and Burn Notice (as a criminal!). Tim Matheson (WW’s smarmy John Hoynes) is at his smarmiest as Psychopath Larry, a recurring thorn in Michael Westen’s side on Burn. And, just this season, the Flamingo-esque Allison Janney (WW’s Press Secretary-cum-Chief of Staff C.J. Cregg) joined IPS as a nagging, and nuanced, supervisor who butts head with Mary Shannon every chance she gets.

Why does any of this matter? Well, it doesn’t, but it does allow me to aggravate my father every once in awhile. You see, when I’m at my parents’ house we tend to watch a lot of USA together. Every time a WW alum enters a scene, I gleefully exclaim, “He/she’s from West Wing!” Most people would find this only mildly irritating. My father, however, hates it. Let’s just say he’s not the biggest fan of The West Wing. In fact, I’m not allowed to watch the show he scornfully calls “a love letter to the Clinton administration” while he’s in the house. The fact that I absolutely adore it? It irks him to no end.

Okay. We’ve discussed my love of USA shows. Though I have to say, these past few paragraphs have been extraneous. If you need to be convinced of USA’s greatness, I only need two words – Matt Bomer. Google Image him. You’ll understand.

On to film...
Inception was great. Really interesting, not as confusing as it could have been, blah, blah, blah. But, other than that, I haven’t seen a good film for adults in ages. Toy Story 3 was wonderful, and arguably more fun for adults than for kids, but that doesn’t count. The Kids are All Right is getting good buzz and I’m definitely going to try to see it in a few days. As for Charlie St. Cloud? When Zac Efron puts an “h” or a “k” at the end of his first name, maybe I’ll take him more seriously.

And in sports...How ‘bout dem Yankees?
B'ahava, Y

Friday, July 2, 2010

To Infinity and ... boredom.

I’ve stopped and started many posts over the past month or two. Posts about hot guys at the gym. Posts about the World Cup. Posts about nothing at all.
I’ve apparently come down with some kind of writer’s block. And yet, I keep on trying.

Perhaps I have nothing to write about because I don’t really have much going on. I go to work – where Chambers privilege precludes me from blogging about proceedings. I come home. I go to the gym. And, unless you want to hear about those aforementioned hot guys, there’s not much there to tell.

Oh, how I wish I had something witty to share. When did life get so boring?

Two nights ago, in a nod to boredom, I rented “He’s Just Not That Into You.” I know, I know. I ‘m about two years late. I simply hadn’t had time to see the film that I’d heard should have been subtitled “The [Insert the name of every girl you’ve ever known, yourself included] Story.”
So, best lesson of the movie? Hanging out is not dating.
Worst lesson of the movie? You are the exception to the rule.

The movie prattles on and on about how girls shouldn’t listen to movies and men don’t change – and, lo and behold, the movie refuses to heed its own advice.
I won’t spoil the pleasantly predictable ending for those who are even slower than I, but I will profess to having teared up at the close.

Damn me and my emotional vulnerability.

One last thing – the cutest part of the movie is by far the credits. So, if like me, Ben Affleck makes you cry in the last five minutes, don’t run for the tissues until you see Kevin Connelly and Justin Long in the credit clips.

For the sake of preserving my cinematic dignity, I must disclaim that liking this movie may very well be a consequence of having recently seen the truly awful “Valentine’s Day” – another ensemble Rom-Com. It was so bad, it made “HJNTIY” look like art.

Since we’re already in cinema-scope, I just have to ask – did you see Toy Story 3? Cute, eh? Pixar has a knack for assembling stellar vocal casts. Perhaps if there were more dialogue, I wouldn’t have fallen asleep during Wall-E.

See kids, I told you that I had nothing to write about.

PLEASE. Someone do something interesting. Or… I might have to rent “The Ugly Truth.”
Don’t let that happen.

Hearts, Y

Monday, May 31, 2010

Leaks and Gleeks

A long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, I had a blog. This galaxy was known as 1L -- or, sometimes more aptly, 1HelL. In this galaxy, time was elusive. It was constantly finding a way to slip through my fingers. Just when I thought I had nabbed some, it was already out of reach. There were always footnotes to read and essays to write. I logged hour upon hour on a legal research site whose name I may or may not have found derivative. And so, blogging took a backseat to case law. Until now. The school year is over and, as much as I loved eating three meals a day out of vending machines, my life has found some semblance of order -- in the form of a 9 - 6 unpaid judicial internship. Please, contain your excitement. So yes, the blog is back. Now, let's get this party started:

Uno: For those who are interested, the pipe-burst/leak situation in our apartment has still not been resolved. For some unknown reason, the management company refuses to take our calls and hasn't given us any sort of timeline for repairs. On Friday, I left the managing agent what I like to call "an intimidating message." It remains to be seen just how (or if) he will respond. In the meantime, we continue to live in a paint chip infested domicile that still smells faintly of wet dog. Yes, it's as wonderful as it sounds.

I suppose I can't really complain given the state of other unresolved leak situations in this country. Speaking of, is there anyone out there who can explain the concept of a "top kill?"

Dos: This blog was never meant to become the Vanity Fair highlights reel. And yet, despite my disdain for Graydon Carter, the people at continue to hit culture right on the nose. My most recent fascination? The Gay Guide to Glee! Brett Berk is a delightful dilettante and his glee-caps take themselves just seriously enough to make them hilariously fabulous.

Also on this month, an interview with one of my favorite John Ritter lookalikes, Zach Braff. (Braff used to be my favorite Ritter lookalike, edging out Ed's Tom Kavanagh, but that was before I started swooning over Jason Ritter's nice guy English teacher character on Parenthood. The chemistry between John's real-life son and Lauren Graham is crackling. Check it out here.) In the interview, Braff discusses his summers at Stagedoor Manor, a drama camp in Loch Sheldrake, NY (Vacation Village represent!), and his musical theater themed Bar Mitzvah. VF seems to find this unique. The editors clearly have never been to Bergen County -- where every girl and her sister has a Broadway-themed party replete with Playbill placecards and Fiddler on the Roof centerpieces. I just want to know if he chanted his Haftorah to "I Dreamed a Dream," Dudu Fisher style.

Tres: A lot of guys are obsessed with Bill Simmons, aka ESPN's "The Sports Guy." This weekend, in honor of Memorial Day, Bill shared some correspondence that he has received from his adoring fans. Here's my favorite:

Q: So I'm in the grocery store the other night buying ramen noodles 'cause that's literally the only thing I can afford to eat. Right after I had put the fourth huge case into my cart, a really cute girl approaches me and says, "Wow, that's a lot of ramen." For whatever reason, my immediate response is, "Yeah, I'm buying it for a local food drive for the homeless." Wouldn't you know it, but the girl finds this extremely sexy for some reason, and we continue to talk for a few minutes. Eventually, I ask her out, and we decide she will come to my place for dinner and a movie later on this week. What in the hell am I supposed to do? I have no money and a kitchen full of ramen noodles that are supposed to be for some mysterious food drive. Your thoughts?
-- Shane, Baltimore

SG: Yup, these are my readers.

Other, not quite as awesome, exchanges can be found in The Sport's Guy's Mega-Mailbag.

OMG...I was just about to end this post without calling your attention to the holy grail of Glee -- last week's flirtation with Lady Gaga. At this point, it's all pretty much been said. I'll just add this -- Quinn's outfit was kickass. Anyone who buys it for me will get a special prize.

In closing, one of these days I might get around to writing about the law. I'm starting to gather that bankruptcy court is a Dynasty-level soap opera. Stay tuned for more...

Thanks for welcoming me back into your lives! Love and Leotards, Y

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Letters from The Legally Insane

In the spirit of Greenberg, the last movie I had the pleasure to see in an actual theatre, I have decided to post some complaint letters that I would send if only I had an address...
You can safely assume that, as I descend further and further into the grips of finals-induced insanity, the letters will get progressively stranger.
So, here goes:

Dear Gratingly Good-Looking and Annoyingly Touchy-Feely Couple on line in front of me at the DVD rental machine,

First, I hate you. Second, based on the current placement of your respective hands, it seems unlikely that whether you rent Iron Man or Transformers will have much of an impact on your evening. I highly doubt that you will see much of either film. That said, can you please speed up your decision making so that I can rent Notting Hill for the umpteenth time? I need to get to Ben & Jerry's before it closes.


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Greetings From Kamp

First, an apology. While I have not deluded myself to the extent that I believe you've all be waiting with baited breath for my next piece, I have abandoned this post for far too long and, for that, if it mattered to you at all, I am sorry. Second, the commentary I've been remiss in posting re-entered the cultural consciousness this week and is now timely again. So, thank you, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, for giving John Hughes the recognition he so richly deserved.

As some of you may recall, some years ago I wrote a book review for The Current on David Kamp's United States of Arugala. Kamp is a contributing editor for Vanity Fair (always my glossy of choice despite Graydon Carter) whose "Arugala" is a gastronomic history of the nation featuring equal parts gossip and grain. Simply put, I loved the book and have since been pleased to learn that Jon Rieder has added it to his Sociology of Culture reading list.
Time passed and I thought little of Kamp until I saw the name Norman Rockwell on the cover of a Fall 2009 issue of VF. It seemed that Kamp had written a piece entitled "Why Norman Rockwell Matters" -- a defense of the famed American illustrator against his high-falutin art world critics. Now, I don't profess to be an art connoisseur. I like Jackson Pollock as much as the next girl, but I don't see why Rockwell incurs so much wrath. The man created a universe inhabited by people that each of us, on some level, encounters on a daily basis. His skill is undeniable and he forced us to examine ourselves as a wartime nation in a way that no other artist of his era could.
I started caring about Rockwell as an academic pursuit in Dr. Stone's 11th grade American History class. For our first assignment, I reviewed a comprehensive biography of Rockwell and became fascinated by his political paintings -- especially "The Four Freedoms" and "Ruby Bridges goes to School." As a junior at Barnard, I chose NR (as I now fondly refer to him) as the focus of my Colloquium in American Studies research. I took on Rockwell as propagandist -- a far less odious Leni Riefenstahl. What I found, is that NR was no more commercial than Andy Warhol -- but he receives a sliver of the love. In response to Kamp's article, VF's mailbag was filled with mixed takes on Rockwell, his contributions, and achievements. Read my take. Read Kamp's take. I'll post excerpts of both. I'm curious to hear what you think.

While I was happy to find that Kamp and I have a common interest, I didn't think he was stealing my ideas until I saw his piece on the late, great John Hughes.

Note: I don't actually think Kamp knows who I am, but, DK, if you do...send a note. I'd love to chat and help you with your inevitable article on the AAGPBL.

Vanity Fair recently featured a loving tribute to Hughes -- that inimitable auteur of teendom and class anxiety. Beyond Kamp's piece, the magazine featured interviews with frequent Hughes collaborators and his undisputed muse, Molly Ringwald. (Oh, how I wish I was her at the end of Sixteen Candles! Jake Ryan, swoon, what a dreamboat!)
On Sunday night, the Oscar broadcast featured a sketch of similar note with Ducky, Ferris, The Nerd, and Kevin McAllister all making appearances. (Kudos to Adam Shankman and the Oscar producing crew for extricating Macauley Culkin from whatever crack den he currently inhabits. Though, in all fairness to Macauley, I could be wrong about the crack den. He is more likely living in a Cryogenics Lab as the man looks exactly like he did twenty years ago. Creepy.)

I know. I know. You're wondering what any of this has to do with me. Well, if you must know, over a year before Hughes passed on, I wrote a paper on his legacy for my Popular Culture at the University of Melbourne. Yes, I took a Pop Culture class. Yes, Clueless was on the cover of the reader. Contain your jealously. In said paper, I called Molly Ringwald's hair the flaming totem of a generation. Too glib? Who asked you?

So, you heard it here first kids. David Kamp is stealing my ideas. Just thought you'd like to know.
Oh, and Oscar fashion this year sucked. More on that later...if I can ever find my way out of Vera Farmiga's ruffles.

Monday, February 8, 2010

It ain't Oprah, til' it's Oprah

So, he is human after all. For awhile there, he had me going. The needlepoint precision, the Alexis Carrington shoulders, the ability to appear in four television commercials at once. Peyton appeared to be the Bionic Man -- until late in the 4th quarter of yesterday's big game. Down by 7, having been knocked from his perch by an onside kick that can only be described as chutzpah-dic, Peyton did the unthinkable. On the verge of tying the game, he threw a Brett Favre Special -- a Pick 6 to end what had, until that moment, been a high stakes gunfight.

No one could have predicted it. It was so unlike him. Something a less polished quarterback would do. Not Peyton. Not the golden boy.

So goes the story that people will be telling of last night's Super Bowl at water coolers around the world.

The questions abound as to the impact on Manning's legacy -- and what this means for Indianapolis' future. Can everyone just take a breath? He threw an interception. It happens. To lesser quarterbacks, it happens a lot. The man is not yet 34 years old and is in seemingly excellent health. In my opinion, the book on Manning's legacy is far from closed.

Yes, it's true. I wasn't on the Saints bandwagon. But today's story should be about them. Who Dat? Nation is finally getting attention for something positive. People are talking about New Orleans in terms other than destruction, racism, and, that amalgam of them both, the Ninth Ward.

So, I'm gonna head down to the Big Easy, at least in spirit, and be happy for a city that has waited to taste victory for far too long. And, thanks to Drew, Reggie, and some other guy named Payton -- it's just as sweet as a beignet from Cafe Du Monde.

Nota Bene:
If, like Dockers, Coke, and, Jason Sehorn had known that pants were optional at the Super Bowl, he might not have given up that touchdown in 2001. Just a thought...

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Peyton's Place

Yesterday was a big day for pop culture media. Not only were this year’s Oscar nominations announced at 5:30 AM Pacific Time, but it was also Super Bowl Media Day – a Miami based circus with Peyton Manning in the center ring.

Over the past decade, Manning has become one of America’s most popular athletes. He has whored himself out to everyone from Visa, to DirecTV, to Oreo and, with the recent downfall of a certain unnamed golf wunderkind, he might just be the most likable guy in sports.

You see, Manning’s talent is immense and undeniable, but he remains a man, or, more precisely, a good ole boy, of the people. Unlike his stuffy New England counterpart Tom Brady, Peyton doesn’t take himself all that seriously. Not only does he don a Bjorn Borg sweatband to pound DoubleStufs with brother Eli and Donald Trump, but he happily displays his goofy “dance moves” in front of Justin Timberlake and the world in those insufferable Sony ads. While Brady comes off as a tool who is only interested in his chin dimple and getting home to Gisele, Manning is the loveable guy next door – a decent-looking doofus who happens to have a God-given gift.

I spent several years trying to hate Peyton. I labeled him a thorn in the Jets’ side and resented his talent. But in this almost perfect season, Manning has proven himself irresistible to love. Despite the inexplicable inward turn of his chest (don’t tell me you haven’t noticed), he is climbing the ranks on my favorite QB list. What I have found most impressive about Peyton is the grace with which he handles himself in front of the press. I have no doubt that this is a skill he picked up from his parents, Archie and Olivia.

This week has seen a deluge of articles on the Manning family, their relationship to New Orleans, and their undisputed NFL dynasty. Archie is so beloved in the Big Easy that, despite having one of the League’s worst records for a starting quarterback, he remains New Orleans’ favorite son. The family’s housekeeper spoke out recently about Olivia’s down-to-earth nature and class. In fact, Mrs. Manning recently hosted the wife of current Saints quarterback Drew Brees for a meal in her home. Baby brother Eli has managed to keep his wits and his cool despite playing in the most hot-tempered sports market on earth and Cooper Manning, who without a career-ending injury may have hit the NFL as well, is a community pillar and respected businessman.

Certainly it is possible that Peyton may one day suffer from a Tiger-like fall from grace, but I doubt it. One of the things I respect most about him is his loyalty to those who have gotten him to where he is today. He is utterly appreciative of his fans in Indianapolis and with good reason. He is the king of Lucas Oil Land. Think about it. Manning has single-handedly brought more excitement to the (pretty boring) city than anyone in history. Sure, Reggie Miller was fun to watch in his day. But the Pacers never came close to creating the kind of fervor that the Colts inspire nowadays. And, yes, others have made contributions to the team’s success. Dungy, James, Harrison, Addai, and Wayne have all had an impact. But these princes of the gridiron are almost afterthoughts in King Peyton’s Court. Afterthoughts to everyone but the king himself. Manning, unlike many of today’s egocentric players, always plays up the contributions of his supporting cast and plays down the almost supernatural efforts of his own.

So despite the overexposure and the chest concavity, I’m rooting for Peyton to nab his second Super Bowl ring. Besides, I really hate Jeremy Shockey.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Tourists: Milk 'em for all they're worth...

I know what you're thinking..."She abandoned us." After months of begging for comments and insisting that we read her inconsequential thoughts on the world, she cast us aside in pursuit of better things. Maybe you're right. I'm not going to argue. But can't we put the past behind us? Winter Break shook me from my routine, but I'm here now and I'm ready for duty.

So...submitted for the approval of the Midnight Society, I hereby present: A Vignette.

If any of you are ever fortunate enough to go to Italy, think twice before ordering a latte. Rather, think twice before ordering a latte if you're looking for a caffeine fix. You see, ordering a latte in Italy will yield you a nice hot glass of steamed milk. If you'd like espresso with that, be sure to order a Caffe Latte. That's one Euro I'll never get back.
On that (EU Treasury) note, contrary to my cinematically derived notions, Italian taxi drivers do not all look like Robert De Niro. Many do, however, share his occasional gumption. As I sought a ride from Stazione Termini to the Trevi Fountain (yes, that same landmark of film at which Lizzie and Gordo shared a kiss in "The Lizzie Maguire Movie"), one driver quoted me a price of 30 Euros. Knowing that I was getting the tourist treatment, I walked away only to be pursued by another driver offering me a deal at 20 Euros. Still skeptical, I finally found a driver willing to abide by the law and the meter ("moneh b'vakasha," anyone?) and -- God bless him -- the total fare? 8 Euros.
Later on that day while wandering the Villa Borghese, essentially Rome's Central Park, I saw a jogger donning a C.C. Sabathia t-shirt. My point in sharing this tidbit with you? Good taste is international.

Since I've segued into sports, I'm sure you're all itching for my two cents on the NFL playoffs. Against my better judgment, I find myself rooting for Peyton -- overexposure and all. The Saints bandwagon is just a little too crowded for me.
Lest you think I've no sympathy for the swampiest city, N'awlins will get to take credit for the Mannings either way.

To close, in the spirit of my last post and just in case you were wondering, today I'm wearing a new pair of Levi's 632 high rise skinny jeans (Urban Outfitters). Take that, AllTumbleDown...

Arrivederci, Y