Passing Opinion Off As Fact Since 2009

Passing Opinion Off As Fact Since 2009

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Zooey Deschanel Tries To Act Like A Person: Starring her giant engagement ring

Here is a video...

1. She is so pretty
2. She is completely incapable of acting like a regular casual human being
3. I didn't know Ben Gibbard had giant diamond ring money
4. Her songs don't need to be altered at all to be appropriate for a little kids movie
5. I imagine whimsical animation surrounds her at all times
6. She is so pretty.

A One Screenshot Top Chef Recap: Finale

I have touched on this before but the winner of a reality competition is often a battle of conflicting validities. The winner either confirms that the show is an accurate judge of talent or that the show is an accurate creator of talent.

If Mike won that would mean that Top Chef is valid in its ability to take the person who wasn’t the best and help him grow to be.

If Richard won that would mean Top Chef All-Stars is a valid way of determining whom is the best chef.

Oh, before I forget, Richard won!

Last night, Richard did everything I previously hated about him but I’m still certain he should have won. Naming a restaurant “Tongue & Cheek” is just so obvious it should have been named “Tongue & Cheek & On The Nose”. Add in the fact that he started the meal by stating the obvious pun of his Amuse,“Oyster & Pearls”, which is made worse because its not even his own pun. Thomas Keller has been serving a dish under that name for decades, including the time when Richard worked for him.

Richard’s hokey explanations and somewhat unoriginal originality aside, his food last night was probably the most thoroughly conceptualized in the history of the show. On you can watch the extended judge’s table and it is incredibly revealing:

“This guy’s a star.” And that is really it. As I said a zillion weeks ago, the previous winners (meaning the actual winners save Hosea & Kevin and the chefs that have succeeded in real life) deserved it because of an exceptional focus and a clear perspective, Richard was the only chef this season that had that.

Now the question is where does Richard rank all-time?

Here is a list of everyone else who could be in the running for top 5: Michael V, Brian V, Hung, Stephanie, Harold, Kevin Gillespie, Ilan

Based on how they performed on the show only, I think he ends up 2nd between the brothers. But the real test is to see where they are in five years when everyone’s real restaurants can be looked at.

How was the season overall?

Considering that this was its 8th season, I would say it was fantastic. Last season was such a snooze and this effectively breathed new life into the franchise. Hopefully, they were able to stock pile talent and next season will be as good as Las Vegas. Either way…

BRING ON TOP CHEF MASTERS! Let’s go Floyd Cordoz!

This shot was nice

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Hanging By A Firework

I have heard the chorus, just the chorus, of "Firework" three times in the last week because I started listening to Who Charted? where it is often a topic of conversation. As I am wont to do I started singing it in a more understated manner like I was working on an acoustic youtube cover. As a result, I realized the chorus is identical to "Hanging By A Moment" by Lifehouse. Here is a clip...

I don't really think this is fraud, as I've said before, there are only so many notes. I wanted to point this out simply because they sound great together! It's like she is singing the higher harmony. I don't know any mash-uppers but if I did I would ask him or her to mash-up the hell out of that as a birthday gift.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A One Screenshot Top Chef Recap: Week 15

Padma: “Remember this?”

Come on! For a show not necessarily known for it’s subtlety, last night will go down in the on the nose record books. To set up the twist in the first half by saying there is going to be at twist inside this envelope was bad enough but to cut away to commercial with the reveal of the envelope, then spend the DVR-buster on just the reveal of the envelope, and to finally come back from commercial with the reveal of the envelope was unbelievable. It was like an SNL skit making fun of Top Chef's fabricated tension. And all of this for Antonia to read a red letter that said, “There will be one more challenge to determine who claims the last spot in the finale.”

Seriously!?! Tom couldn’t have just said that? Obviously, that is what was happening. That might as well have been written ON the envelope and inside there would be actual instructions. Come on!

“There will be one more challenge to determine who claims the last spot in the finale.”

BUSHLEAGUE! This isn’t the first season of Work of Art, you guys won a damn Emmy!

That being said, what a great idea! A three-person finale never really worked, as only two people would actually perform up to par. So instead of rewarding a person just because they didn’t cook the worst dish, this created as much of a competition for that last spot as there was for the first.

It also was nicely portrayed as a competition for who was going to lose to Richard. Really, this entire season has building up to that fact and everyone is on board: the chefs, the judges, the fans. Richard’s story of redemption is much more compelling than any of these other suckers somehow squeaking out a win.

I will admit I wasn’t a Richard fan in his season - I thought he was overly whimsical and derivative – but my tune has changed to a tuneful tune. Primarily, it is because he has conveyed a real sense of self as an artist unlike he had before and unlike almost any of the chefs on the show ever have. Secondly, like an artist, he has showed he is a real nut-job. And as my zillion posts about Kanye reflect, I love artistic crazy people.

So he better win. If he doesn’t its going to be real weird, like if Sleepless in Seattle ended with Meg Ryan having a sensible wedding with Bill Paxton/Pullman.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A One Screenshot Top Chef Recap: Week 14

Maybe they were trying to send a message to the chefs that if you win then you get to be rich and wear all white on a beach in the Bahamas, get served by the King of Junkanoo and his friends, and meet girls that look like Padma in a bathing suit. Either way, watching a bunch of white folks having a chuckle over the perils of the yacht club Commodore electoral process gave me the creeps.

On the other hand, as Mike learned, it’s lonely on the top. That moment where he realized it’s not fun to win when there is no one to celebrate with was pretty tragic. Mikey is just a simple New Jersey bro who wants to hang out with his friends and have a good time. Either way, he is doing a great job of filling his role as the person who eventually loses to Richard.

Also fitting her role was Tiffany. She lost because she is not as good as the other three; however, at the end it became clear that she wanted to blame her lack of highfalutin kitchen pedigree and the fact that she is from a small town. I call bullshit. She lives in Dallas now, which is a city much larger than both where Blais and Mike live. Not to mention that Beaumont, TX has a population five time larger than that of Uniondale, NY (where Blais is from, STRONG ISLAND REPRESENT). I have no problem with chefs who haven’t worked for Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud, and Ferran Adria (as Blais has) but I do when they continue using it as an excuse.

So now we are down to a final three: Blais is making noodles out of sweet potatoes, Mike is making pineapple that is completely savory, and Antonia is cooking food that would have been interesting in 1985.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Even My Favorite Music is on the NBC Thursday Night Line-up: Childish Gambino EP edition

When I was younger, I listened to a lot of rap music. This was de rigueur for a white fellow from the suburbs but that didn’t make me any less, as have continued to be about anything I have liked since then. Over time my interest waned and I was only listening to some choice backpackers like Mos Def. Since his first single I have loved Kanye but I view him as more of a singer-songwriter of sorts than an MC. As a result, Lupe Fiasco had held the title as my favorite rapper of the modern era. With his new album coming out this month, I expected to be an influx of hip hopping, which has definitely been case. BUT I have barely listened to Lasers partly because it is just not good enough and mostly because of another rap release that I love…

Childish Gambino aka Donald Glover on his current EP has proven he much more than a competent rapper, he is actually quite great. He comes across more genuine than about any rapper I have ever heard, wavering between the necessary bravado and a comic’s proclivity for self-deprecating. His lyrics are packed with punch lines that reflect an exceptional understanding of the rhythms of both music and comedy. Quite possibly, what I like so much about Glover’s music s that his references are references that I completely get. Here are a few:

“I’m the boss, Michael Scott, y’all bitches is just Phyllis”

“Steady movin’, don’t worry about where I’mma be

‘Cause I’mma be on these tracks like indie girls on Amelie

Honesty, I’m rappin’ ’bout everything I go through

Everything I’m sayin’ I’m super sayin’ like Goku

“Even though I was rappin’ back when Lance had chemo, ho

Even flow, Pearl Jammin’ niggas can’t leave me alone”

“Let me poke ya, ma, Raichu

“Hard for a pitchfork, soft for a Rockefeller”

“Yeah, we doin’ stupid shit, have stories when I’m older

But I don’t wanna see pictures of us on Vulture

He reads the same blogs I do!!!! Eminem doesn’t read my blogs. I’m pretty sure 50 Cent just doesn’t read.

The EP is filled some slightly satirical tough talk and bragging but it also features a great deal of an honest vulnerability. Glover doesn’t pretend he is from the streetz like many of his contemporaries, instead it seems like he understands the importance of his truth, as he raps:

“Whiskey-sippin’, wanna drink the whole bottle

But these smart middle-class black kids need a role model”

As is the fundamental conflict of his character on Community, Glover tends to waver between being cool and being a nerd. Take the absurd lyric:

“And my dick is too big, there’s a Big Bang Theory”

Glover effectively uses macho vocabulary of rap music to wink at the popular sitcom that beats his handedly in the rating every week in their shared timeslot.

I think it also important to note that his music also succeeds at being what is expected of hip-hop musically. Previously, he used to rap over indie rock songs – effectively endearing him to some choice bloggers - but now his beats are more what is to be expected from today’s more cerebral rappers. He even dips into the omnipresent dance-rap with “Lights Turned On”. A track I imagine could do really well at LA’s Temporary Spaces both on their more East-side and more Hollywood nights.

Considering his good deal of success at such a young age, it is obvious that Glover is an exceptionally hard worker. This leaves me incredibly excited to see where both his acting and music career goes. Maybe, he is destined to do what the character he used to write for recently accomplished, EGOT.

You can download the aforementioned excellent EP for FREE here

Sunday, March 13, 2011

7 Reasons Why Battle: Los Angeles is Good

Battle: Los Angeles is such an obviously bad movie that spending time mocking it just makes the writer look silly. For example, yy beloved Vulture published a piece entitled "7 Reasons Why Video Games are Better than Battle: Los Angeles" that was equally as hackneyed as it accused the film of being. If anything Battle: Los Angeles came off a film that subvert a paradigm: It was a movie created to launch a series of a video games and not the other way around.

So here is my counter-list:

1. It is not bad

Battle: LA is not some joke like Drive Angry in 3D. Yes, it is unoriginal but that does not necessarily mean it is unwatchable. If anything, Battle: LA is a very watchable 2.25 hours of movie. Yep, it is that long. It is super long but it doesn't really drag because...

2. Things happen

Say what you will but stuff goes down. The movie starts off with a few minutes at the height of the chaos and then jumps back to the day before so it can handle some expository heavy lifting. This is the writer's way of saying we don't trust the patience of the audience so let's rile them up. Once the ten minutes of a character explanation is over it is full speed ahead and tons of things happen. There is like 20 different location set-ups where they fight the aliens: freeways, pools, police station, airports. Say what you will, but five minutes didn't go bye without someone getting exploded to death (the only way people died), you can't say that about a Duplass Brother's movie.

3. It's Pretty Dark

I'll just say that the movie started with a bunch of characters and ended with a lot less. Since all the characters were so poorly fleshed out you had no idea who was going to be exploded to death (the only way people died). Also the movie was so long that I started getting nervous that it would end with the humans losing. Finally, when the movie does end, things didn't necessarily look that great. As cliche as the film was, at least it didn't end with the protagonist/s single-handedly beating an entire race of aliens.

4. It was definitely a satire of LA's car culture, maybe

The real bad guy of the film might have been Los Angeles. The soldiers had to go so far to get to the home base because the city itself is so expansive. This meant they had to try and drive through the streets of non-moving cars. It didn't necessarily feel much different than what living in LA is like anyway. Add the fact that taking the freeway results in disaster and it definitely seems possible that the writer was taking the worst part of LA to task. Or not, but maybe.

5. Confusing, but in a good way

The film is over two hours long and for the most part the audience has no idea what is happening at any point. Easily, this could be chalked up to lazy writing or maybe, just maybe, the hope was to put the audience in the same situation as the soldiers. If aliens really did attack, we would have no idea what the hell to do. We wouldn't be making jokes and saying slick catchphrases ("welcome to urf!"), we would be super frightened and our marines would try to fight them like any other hostile force. The soldiers felt like, well, soldiers in how inarticulate and overwhelmed they were. This was partly do to what I consider excellent direction...

6. Jonathan Liebesman did a good job

The wikipedia page for the film that Liebesman was very deliberate in his execution of the story. Inspired by footage shot by soldiers in Fallujah, Liebesman gave this big-budget action film a very realistic feel. The use of a lot of hand-held cameras resulted in a "Hurt Locker for simple people", of sorts. The script was ultimately awful so Liebesman is owed credit for making it watchable. Also, he also was able to make it for just $70 million, which is incredibly small for a movie like this. Take the fact that movie seems like it is going to be a success and this means....

7. Sequels!

Battle: New York, Battle: Bangkok, Battle: Des Moines... The possibilities are endless. Half-way through, I started rooting for a lack of closure so the series could continue. The worst part of about Battle: Los Angeles was Los Angeles. LA just does not have enough landmarks near each other to make the carnage exciting. So if the series continues, I am hopeful for how much delightful destruction is in store.


Don't get me wrong Battle: Los Angeles is a bad movie but everyone who goes to see it knows that. What really matters is how you go see it. Critics expecting a bad movie will get a bad movie, especially when it is a bad movie, which it is. However, if you go into it without expectations then you can definitely have a blast, not the type of blast that resulted in all the film's deaths, but like a fun blast that results in little bodily harm.

****UPDATE**** An inside source has told me that my suspicions were correct: Sony has already began working on Battle: Tokyo (too soon?)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Jesse, Where did your NBC Thursday Night Recaps Go?

For those who follow my blogging but not by twitterings might not have learned why I stopped writing about the delight that is NBC's Thursday night line-up.

They now appear on check-a-check-a-check it out.

Fox Thursday Line-Up: take 2

If my blog was incredibly SEO friendly for only one thing it would Fox's Thursday Line-Up. I feel bad because I never ever write about it (save this similar post).

Anyway, I want to be friendly to those who stumble upon this so currently Fox's Thursday night looks like this:

American Idol 8:00-9:00

Bones 9:00-10:00

I have not watched Bones yet and I haven't seen the last five seasons or so of AI (Rubban Studdar 4 Lyf ya'll, amiright). Though, I did hear that one of the contestants is cheating this year by getting blood transfusions before episode to boost his energy and soulfulness, dawg (is that guy still a judge?).

Netflixing: Radio Days

As much as I like watching movies, I might like rating them on Netflix better. In this series I will explain why I rate what I rate. This week...

For a while I used to call my Netflix queue the “Woody Allen Film of the Week Club.” After far too long without a subscription and after living a life where I watched far too few movies (Have you seen Jaws or 2001: A Space Odyssey? Because I haven’t but I have seen the Brendan Fraser/Albert Brooks bromance The Scout 12 time), when I finally did bite the bullet, all I wanted to do was watch the entirety of the Woody Allen Catalog.

Beyond the innate Allen appreciation that swims through my bloodstream as a natural born Jews, Woody just makes the movies I like to see: tightly-scripted, heady comedies set in New York. The first film I watched via Netflix was Sweet and Lowdown, which instantly became one of my hands down favorite movies ever. The ending of that film might have been my favorite of any story I have ever experienced, film or otherwise. S&L was considered to be a very good Woody film (and one of his eventual many “comeback films”) but not one of the all-time greats, even though I think the movie is absolutely flawless.

Same goes for Bullets Over Broadway, another late-era film that was very well received but not really thought to be in the same echelon as the films of his late 70’s to late 80’s run. Though it is a high-concept film, BOB really acts as Woody’s meditation on what it means to be a true artist. I was not expecting to like it as much as I did but ultimately it is a must-see film.

It hasn’t been all pleasant surprises. I didn’t love The Purple Rose of Cairo, a film generally considered to be one his all-time best. I got a lot of the meaning of the picture yet it still just didn’t resonate. I am by no means saying it’s not great, it just didn’t work for me.

So where does Radio Days stack up?

In chronicling his childhood growing up in New York, Radio Days comes off as one of Woody’s most wistful and least bitter movies. The story mixes tales of the Golden Age of Radio with trials of his family. I think partly what made the film so enjoyable was realizing that this was also the story of my grandparents New York, where my Bubbe grew up not too far from Woody’s Brooklyn childhood neighborhood. Adding to the overall nostalgic feel was how many of the film’s actors have appeared in other Allen movies: Danny Aiello, Jeff Daniels, Mia Farrow, Julie “Marge Simpson” Kavner, Diane Keaton, Wallace “Inconceivable!” Shawn, Diane Wiest, and a young, barely recognizable Larry David. There was also something nice about having a very young Seth Green play the surrogate young Woody.

The film plays out more as a series of short stories with interconnecting themes than one all-encompassing narrative. With Woody taking the duty of the narrator, the film did have the feeling of an excerpted memoir. It was definitely a nice change of pace from the Woody standard but I did find myself longing for a more realized arc.

Radio Days is a terrific movie and a definite most see for Allen fans and people with New York Jewish grandparents, but it do not place it on the same level as my eight favorites: Crimes & Misdemeanors (my hands-down #1), Sweet & Lowdown, Manhattan, Annie Hall, Vicky Christina Barcelona, Bullets Over Broadway, Hannah & Her Sisters, Husbands & Wives.


Thursday, March 10, 2011

A One Screenshot Top Chef Recap: Week 13

There were two quick fires last night on Top Chef (amiright).

What was so fun about the second one (the first was actually quite dull thanks to Hosea’s pointless face) was that it totally ruined the “big twist.” “Cook for Royalty” is not a Top Chef challenge so obviously there was going to be a surprise. We eventually learned it wasn’t a man-servant flanked Duke but just a humble dancing King (I can't decide if I think this felt racist) and everyone shrugged like, “I guess that’s a thing.” The Chefs didn’t even ape shock. That was until they realized besides being run down that kitchen was completely unsafe. And then, BAM!...

All the food is damaged so we get to see what happens when the chefs cook knowing exactly what the classic TC left-turn is going to be. The result was completely revealing about each contestants personalities:

Antonio: Is not necessarily a thoughtful chef so when given time to over-think or second-guess herself it goes poorly.

(black) Tiffany: Has so few tricks in her bag that she is completely incapable to doing anything different the second time.

Carla: She is so absorbed with this concept of “cooking my food” that she fails to adapt to situations even when they are presented plainly in front of her.

Blais: Is an artist and over the course of this season it has been made clear he is crazy like one. Personally, I like Richard a lot more now that I know he is a self-doubting, obsessive lunatic then before when I thought he was a cold, scientific chef. He is incapable of cooking the same thing twice because he thinks everything is awful. He is incredibly knowledgeable and creative but, this being a single elimination competition, he is playing with fire (that's 2!).

Mike: Is a kitchen rat, who has worked for a lot of artistic chefs. This means that he understands how to execute complex seeming food but does not have a huge urge to constantly create. Last night was obviously a dish he knew was going to want to make so he was able to take the redo to just make it better.

Mike deserved to win and Carla deserved to lose. Tiffany also deserved to lose. Antonio also deserved to lose. Blais deserves to beat Mike.

However, Things do not always go as they should just ask Jennifer’s angry face.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

A One Screenshot Top Chef Recap: Week 12

Mike: "Who's going?"

Carla & (black) Tiffany: "We're all going AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACK"

It was a wonderful 30 minutes of Top Chef (after the completely useless quick fire) and I decided to not begrudge the decision to have a final 5. Introducing family members is usually a sure-shot at a bizarrely touching episode and this was not an exception. Mike's in particularly felt especially poetic. To spend 20 years in denial just to go through acceptance on television, woof. For that moment I must have smelled the onions they had been cutting. The rest seemingly nailed it as well - Carla go to cook with her <3, black Tiffany saved Tom from a life sans okra, Antonio made solid Italian food that somehow won her an automobile, Richard had the hardest challenge and did the best job - so let them jump around too. Let everyone jump around.

Except, well, Dale:

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Most Depressing Photo of the Day

This was spotted on the corner of 20th & Van Ness and it just floored me. How did this baby lose both their shoe AND sock? It's an absolute tragedy, I say.

Is the foot still in there? I bet it is, eek. Well. Maybe. Though, I feel like if you were going to chop off a baby's foot you would do so to steal the FOOT not that baby. Who would want a one footed baby? You would need to invest at least $5,000 to buy him a prosthetic if you wanted to make him a slave when he grows up. That just seems like a shortsighted financial strategy. Needless to say, I was too scared to look.

My guess is that the baby was a Hispanic (20th & Van Ness, spade a spade, etc.) John Connor of sorts and a cyborg from the future is out to get him. Unlike Terminator this cyborg is able to travel through worm holes. I know, of course, typical. So obviously, this Terminator (played in the film by the Mexican-enough looking Vin Diesel) used a worm hole to pop into this dimension, snatch Juan Connor and pop out. Sadly, the hole closed on Juan's ankle, effectively stripping him of his shoe AND sock. Now he is careening through the Universe with one disproportionately cold foot. It's an absolute tragedy, I say.