Friday, December 17, 2010

What New Year’s Resolutions? Start today!

Every time a New Year rolls around we all seem to want to make some kind of New Year’s resolutions. How about this one? Why wait till New Year’s when you can start today? I’ve resolved that we shouldn’t have to wait to get started. We all know what we want to accomplish. For instance for myself, I’ve resolved that I will lay the foundation for big changes that will improve and enhance my life. I will not be waiting till New Year’s. I’m starting today and so can you!

Lately, I’ve come across this idea of why we don’t get what we want and why we continue to suffer. I had a friend who was going to lose her job because her company was relocating to Arizona. They gave her the option of moving to Arizona and work over there. She at first decided that she was going to do it, and had started making plans. A month to go before the move and she starts having panic attacks. Fear had taken a firm grip on her mind, and she became convinced that she could not handle the move.

Fear is a very powerful notion. Fear can convince us that we are not capable of doing what our heart wants us to do. Fear is a paralyzer and probably much worse than a sting by a jellyfish. We have to ask ourselves, if I want to have the life that I desire can I allow fear to get in the way? It’s a like being a hamster on an exercising wheel. You keep going around and around non-stop. How can you move forward if you are going in circles? You have to decide to step off the wheel.

I’m reminded of an episode of Quantum’s Leap. I vaguely remember the story, but the ending had to do with this girl making a decision to follow her heart and pursue a career in music. She asks Sam (Scott Bakula) at the end, but what if she fails? He tells her you won't know if you've failed if you don't try. If you don’t try, then you will look back and always think what if?

The key thing is if there is something you want starting making a plan. Outline what the need to do to get there and make it happen. Who knows if it will work out or not? Isn’t it better to try and know then not to try and think what if? In the words of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, “Don’t dream it, just be it”!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Shoddy Writing III: Brothers and Sisters

Oh boy, how does one of your favorite shows become a show you hate? It’s called shoddy writing and for part III in my series I’m focusing on Brothers and Sisters. What is wrong with this show? Shall I count the ways? Let’s start with the very first episode of the new season. The season started with advancing the story a year forward. This was to allow the youngest son Justin to go off to war and come back. He came back to Robert, Kitty’s husband in a coma, Scotty and Kevin owning a restaurant with Saul, Sarah unemployed but dating a hot guy, and Holly suffering with memory loss. Ojai Foods and politics were the core through line of Brothers and Sisters. It was what made the show unique as well gave it more depth than a typical family drama. With the new writing regime these things have been decimated. Characters are fighting over ridiculous things and the stories have been the most uninspired piece of shoddy writing I have ever seen.

First off, my biggest problem is the Holly storyline. I loved seeing Nora and Holly in scenes together. How often on a show do you get the other woman and the wife being forced to run a business together? I guess giving her memory loss was a way to give her some relevancy on the show, but it led to one of the most dumbfounded, shaking your head in confusion moments I have ever had. If your mom was suffering from memory loss would you take a job on the other end of the coast from her? On Brothers & Sisters that’s exactly what Holly’s daughter Rebecca did! The quick resolution to Rebecca and Justin’s marriage just didn’t feel right especially with the time leap forward. We’re supposed to believe that a year went by and this couple never talked about their relationship or considered divorce? I believe a fatal mistake was made a season ago when they undid Rebecca’s paternity. One of the reasons why they did this was so Rebecca and Justin could engage in a romantic relationship. The problem with putting these two in a relationship was the lack of complications and obstacles. What kind of challenges could you throw at them if their families got along? This is a show about family after all, and most of the central conflict is within or revolving around the family.

Another problem I have with is a declawed Kitty Walker. At the end of last season she was running for assembly, and now she just sits around her house. Don’t you think a woman of her caliber would want to be kicking butt and taking names? Why would she just drop out of politics? There have been several women politicians who have lost their husbands and ended up running in their place. Why would she not continue on as a way to honor her husband and his legacy? I think it would be interesting to have a woman who is widowed with a baby trying to balance her career and personal life.

I also have the same issue with Sarah. I do not buy her sitting at home sewing costumes for her son’s school play. She’s her best when she is wheeling and dealing. Why was Sarah not involved in business operations for Saul and Scotty’s new restaurant? Heck, why didn’t they start a new kind of family business and include everyone in the family? I also, don’t feel the chemistry between her and Giles Marini. His acting is pretty flat, and he is way too perfect. He doesn’t seem to have any flaws and that could eventually lead to one thing—a character that will bore us to death. I wish they would bring Steven Weber back, because he had a lot of heat with Rachel Griffiths. I would have enjoyed a story between them where they would be in competing businesses.

This begs the big question can this show be saved from falling off into the abyss? At this point, I think a mercy kill would be in order. The writing is lazy, the characters have become a shell of themselves, and I’ve basically removed the show from my DVR. I think the only way to resuscitate this show is to bring back Jon Robin Baitz. Have him refocus the show around politics again and give the characters their backbones and imperfections back.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Mixed Feelings about True Blood Season 2

I just finished watching season 2 of True Blood, and I have to say I have mixed feelings about the show. I do enjoy Alexander Skarsgard in his role as Eric Northman. I love how he says his lines with an added subtext. The scene that stood out was when Eric and Bill meet outside of Queen Sophia's house and have an exchange. Eric just lords over Bill that he has bonded with Sookie (in this series it means that when you suck the blood of a vampire they can feel what you feel and you start to have sexy thoughts about them). You felt as if Eric was taunting Bill asking for him to hit him in the face so he could go cry to Sookie about how mean Bill was. I found the Sookie and Eric sexy dream sequences to be very sensual and tender.
Another aspect I enjoyed was when Godric appeared on the scene. He is Eric's maker, and Sookie was enlisted by Eric to find him. *Spoiler* When Godric makes the decision to end his life by staying out in the sunlight he has a touching scene with Eric. Eric tries to plead with him to stay as he cries tears of blood. He then offers to die alongside him, but Godric orders him away. Sookie instead offers to stay with him to the end. They have a wonderful exchange that made me teary eyed--his happiness at having a human see him off and his acceptance that he was just tired and wanted it to all be over. I hope Allen Hyde who played Godric will be offered roles on other shows or movies.
The things that bothered me the most about this season is the maenad storyline. It was so over the top that it began to borderline on cartoonish. Michelle Forbes, while a great actress, was given a character with very few dimensions. I didn’t care how this storyline was resolved, because I didn’t feel any investment or danger to any of the characters involved. Another character that suffered as a result of this story was Tara. For a character who is supposed to be best friends with Sookie they sure don’t act like it. It doesn’t seem like Sookie was too concerned about what was going on in Bon Temps. She didn’t think of giving a call to her best friend and saying “How are things going?”
Lafayette, also didn’t have much to do in the second season except act traumatized. I’m also, bothered by the sexual politics of this show. They go out of their way with straight couples, but gay characters don’t even get a bone. For instance, in the orgy scene it would have made sense to have seen some gay characters make out. What I would like to see is something more along the lines of what Russell T. Davies did on “Doctor Who”. In an episode called “Gridlock” he had two elderly ladies as a lesbian couple. I liked this moment because it doesn’t pretend that gay characters are on the fringes. It also doesn’t feel like someone is pointing with an arrow “Look! Here’s a gay character”. It’s very matter of fact and the plot keeps moving from there. Come on Alan Ball, if Russell can do it why can’t you?
My other big problem with this season is the main character, Sookie. She vacillates between being strong and sharp-tongued, and the other times she is a passive character waiting to be rescued. One of my biggest pet peeves was when she was about to be raped before being saved by Godric. Why is rape such a common plot device? I also don’t like it when rape is used as an explanation for a character’s strength. Men don’t have to be raped in order to be strong characters, why do women? I read in recaps for the third season that again someone was out to rape her and then a man comes into save the day. Where is the originality in that? How many times with this be used? Why can’t Sookie get a backbone and kick someone’s butt for once instead of being rescued by one of her many supernatural lovers?
I will still watch this show regardless until these things start annoying me to death. I’m not one to quit watching a show, because it doesn’t perfectly adhere to personal or political beliefs. I do however draw a line when intelligence is sucked out of a character’s brain in order to move plot lines along. Mr. Ball be warned I do write a regular piece called “Shoddy Writing”. Is True Blood on its way to ending up in that category? I’ll watch season three and let you know.

Monday, June 28, 2010

An Inspiration to All--Ghana soccer team

This is my first time watching the World Cup games, and I have to say I'm very excited about it all. No matter what I don't think the United States should regard what happened last Saturday as a failure. They had a wonderful run and I think great things are around the corner. I would like to focus on the Ghana soccer team for this post. I have a friend who is from the Ivory Coast. His soccer team was knocked out in the first round, and told me he would be supporting Ghana from here on out, because they were the last African team. He said that it didn't matter what their nationalities were because their victory was for all of Africa and not just Ghana. I thought what beautiful sentiment to have. He said they would be going to a Ghanaian restaurant that night to celebrate the win.

I have also read from fans of the Mexican team saying they were rooting for North America. Combining both U.S. and Mexico as teams to root for. Unfortunately, you will not hear Americans saying the same thing about Mexico. I doubt these same sort of feelings exist in other places. I don't see anything about France or England rooting for Germany as an expression of European unity. South Korea didn't throw their support behind Japan as an example of Asians supporting Asians regardless of nationality. What does this say about us? Are we way too nationalistic that we can not be happy or supportive of others who are not part of our nationality? We want to believe in these ideals, but we don't back up what we say. Are events like the World Cup and the Olympics making us more nationalistic and divisive instead of encouraging global unity?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Can Xtina go back to being Christina Aguilera?

I vaguely remember Christina Aguilera from Mickey Mouse Club, and her, Justin and Britney were the last additions before the show went off the air. Christina burst onto the music scene on the heels of Britney Spears with her song Genie in the Bottle. She did a Spanish album before coming out with the album Stripped and a new name Xtina. According to an interview on Fuse her manager gave her the Xtina label. I have to question this man's taste, because is he not aware of the connotations? The content of both the music and videos were learning towards an X-rated Xtina. She started coming out in magazines talking how how she got all these piercings, even going so far as to say she got her "woo hoo" pierced. Next album was toned down a bit and had a 40's vibe to it. However, now here in 2010 we get another round of Xtina amped up to the enth degree.

I watched her latest video "Not Myself Tonight" on youtube. There are sequences where she is feeling up a girl, bound and gagged to a chair, walking in latex drinking out of a bowl, and dancing in her underwear in the rain. People began drawing comparisons to Madonna or Lady Gaga. While both of these women have been provocative in their videos they have more to say than what Christina is offering in this video. Madonna's "Papa Don't Preach" was considered blasphemous because it featured a black Jesus and using Catholic imagery. Yet what one can take away from this video is it is about a woman trying to come to terms with what her religion has told her and what she feels is the truth. Take Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance" while she is part of a brothel and dances for the pleasure of a "pimp" like figure, but she ultimately triumphs at the end. What do I get out of Christina's video? It seems to me the whole point of the video is to sell the album by arousal and titillating the male population. I'd be more interested in knowing what Christina thinks of fame, love, motherhood in addition to any thoughts she has on sexual politics. However, that is not the kind of artist she is and I think she has ended any hopes of a long career as a singer. She'll probably end up with a Vegas show soon. I just don't feel like this is the authentic Christina Aguilera.

The thing is you can keep going down this road by making your videos more provocative, sexier, and envelope pushing, but at the end of the day all you have is your talent. Once you have taken all your clothes, what do you have left to show the world? I guess you could cut yourself open and show your insides, but people might not like the fact that you are just really human underneath it all.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Shoddy Writing Part II: Gossip Girl

It's time that I revisit an example of Sh*tty writing on a TV show again. This time I will discuss Gossip Girl. This show is teetering on the edge for me and is so close to being dropped from my DVR. This show used to be appointment TV and not something I would need to DVR. The show has lost most of its charm not because Chuck and Blair got together but the show has veered into character assassination. Characters I use to love and enjoy are being turned upside down and inside out to fill contrived plot points. Case in point, Serena's mother Lily who in the first season felt that Rufus was the love of her life. The man she let go because of societal pressures by her mother. That was a beautiful love story right there up until this season. For no reason whatsoever, Lily has been spending time with Serena's father perhaps for some conjugal visits? Rufus in turn becomes so insecure he sleeps with a lady neighbor. Now for two people who love each other so much and have been to hell and back would it make sense for them to sleep around on each other?

Next up, is Jenny Humphrey. I use to love this character, because she was actually one of the few people on the show who had career aspirations. She wanted to be a designer and she got an internship with Eleanor Waldorf. Then she became Ms. Know-it-all and tried to start her own fashion line. Shortly after that the character fell apart and has turned into a raccoon eyed, man-stealing tramp. Please writers give us back the Jenny we used to know and convince her that she doesn't need that much makeup!

Following in his sister's footsteps is Dan Humphrey. Loved him when he was with Serena up until he got hijacked into character assassination hell! He became insecure and whiny about the differences in status between him and Serena. He then became a Man Ho and was sleeping around with all kinds of girls. He had a disastrous relationship with the character played by Hillary Duff before settling with Vanessa. Frankly, he's a background character on this show. He's the new Nate! Remember how Nate was a background character until he got with Serena? Granted there were a few nice moment like the uneasy alliance with Chuck and Nate, but what really needs to happen is put him back in Serena's orbit. This doesn't mean they have to be romantically involved, but it doesn't make sense that she's his step sister and he has no idea what is going on in her life.

Lastly, can we give some character growth to Serena! The girl has been stuck in the same rut. First off, constantly needing men to define her. She goes relationship to relationship with no pause or reflection. Any time she needs a man's attention she becomes dramatic and does dumb things like act drunk or steal horses. Next off, not going off to college alienated her from core character and stories. Serena's idiot decision to not go off to college and hang around the house trying to figure out what she wanted was the dumbest story arc ever! Granted she had a few jobs, but they were not about her gaining new insight into herself. She became a part of the PR business to prop up Hillary Duff's storyline. She got involved in politics so she could have an affair with a politician. See what I'm talking about? There were no lessons learned, no choices to be made, everything was done to serve a contrived storyline.

I hear that the season finale will be explosive. I don't care for shocking story lines. What I want is for these characters to be pieced back together and made whole. I will give the show a chance till then, but I feel that it is too far gone.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Interracial relationships on TV: Can Private Practice break the trend?

Could this be the dawning of a new age in television? Can Private Practice break the trend and feature an interracial couple in a relationship that will last? I've been keeping an eye on various shows since I last wrote my blog on interracial relationships on 90210 and Privileged. Its disheartening to see that this is nearly an impossible task. More often than not these couples tend to break up and go back to dating within their own race. Reminds me of straight people who flirt with being gay before deciding they were always straight to begin with. I've tried to think of interracial couples on tv in recent memory, and I cannot find an instance where it ended happily. Another things that bugs me is that interracial couples are not allowed a full level of intimacy like straight white couples. Why is it so difficult to show people kissing on the lips? Why is the cameraman or woman instructed to shoot the back of the head? Let's not talk sex scenes because you won't see them. The last time I can recall an interracial couple really having a steamy sex scene was in Battlestar Galactica: The Plan. The underused Rick Worthy who played Simon got a steamy scene before his character decided to (spoiler, highlight if you want to know)kill himself.

This brings me to Private Practice which is a spin-off of Grey's Anatomy. Addison Montgomery as played by Kate Walsh lives next door to her best friend's ex-husband, Sam. Addison has been best friends with Naomi and Sam (Audra MacDonald and Taye Diggs) since college. Naomi and Sam used to be married and are now divorced. I could tell from the pilot that there was chemistry between Sam and Addison, and felt that they were missing out on a good story. However, at the time the end goal was to pair her with Tim Daly's character. It seems like things have changed and the opportunity has opened up for an Addison and Sam pairing. I'm hesitant to get too excited, because history has shown that these couples can't last. Also, pairing a white woman and a black man carries a lot of baggage historically. The assumption gets made that if a black man is dating a white woman it is a status thing. That may be true in some cases, but couldn't it also be for love as well? I've had my own issues with white men dating Asian women and the bad connotations that go with that. Ever since I've had the chance to observe weddings my cynical heart has thawed. I've been able to witness people that were dating a person of another race because they loved them. Perhaps before we go and judge people for their choices in who they want to date and why they want to date--we need to step back and think is this about love? Is this about two people who truly, madly, deeply love each other? That's all that matters right?

In closing, I would like to challenge Shonda Rhimes, Betsy Beers, and the writers of Private Practice to go there. Let Sam and Addison be a couple. The fact that Sam's ex-wife is Addison's best friend will only lead to great drama. I also want to see them as a happy, passionate couple. They say the fastest growing population in America are those of mixed race. Wouldn't it be great for them and all of us to see that reflected on our television screens.