Archive | July, 2013

Max Browne

30 Jul

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Had a new story go up yesterday for TD Daily, (you can check it out here) on Max Browne, a freshman QB at USC. Browne was the highest ranked high school QB last season, and the winner of the Gatorade National Football Player of the Year award, which is where this where story came from, and where the above photo was taken. Don’t really have much else to say on this—except that Browne seems like a pretty cool kid who I hope does well at USC. I also figured that there’s no point of having a personal blog if you’re not going to talk about yourself and pimp your work and direct people to the awesome and incredible things you’re doing and writing. So yeah, check out the story. Think “you’ll” like it.

My Final Thoughts on L.A.

23 Jul

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(Apologies for the tardiness of this post.)

Last week I was in love. My relationship with LA had just started and I was in the honeymoon stage. She was beautiful and kind and gave me chances to do things that I had never done before and opportunities that Manhattan never did. I could go for a walk and not have my t-shirt morph into a darker shade. I could stroll down Rodeo Drive and see a glorious vehicle called The Monkey Mobile* parked to my right, and in front of it a Porsche, and in front of that a Mustang, all lined up, as if the garage you imagine Mike Tyson having had been brought to life.

Monkey Mobile

* I’ve always had an infatuation with our furry, hairy ancestors, going back to when I was a kid and was so attached to a Curious George stuffed animal of mine that it would have been hard for someone else to differentiate between that, and any other of my limbs. So you can imagine my excitement upon spotting this car.

Everything was going great, and then Wednesday happened. It took less than three full days for me to loose the twinkle in my eye, for the spell to be broken. Yes, the weather in L.A. (not to mention the people) is beautiful and intoxicating, but after that, well, I’m not so sure. A relationship with a city needs more. It needs substance. It needs idiosyncrasies to love. It needs some form of useable public transportation so that you can to get to a beach on the other side of town without having to decide between a 90 minute bus ride or a 30 dollar cab ride. It needs you to be able to order a slice of pizza without having to wait 15 minutes to get the cashier’s attention, and then another 10 for it to come out, and then have said slice of pizza come out cut in two halves—as if you just jumped out of the ball pit at the Discovery Zone and are now sitting around the table for Pizza and cake at your friends eight-year-old birthday party.

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When it comes to judging a city, convenience should never be overlooked. It’s the trait that that makes a city what it is, that gives a city its personality, and L.A. is about as convenient as a case of kidney stones.

Last Wednesday night, at about 10 p.m., I got a deep, deep craving for eggs. Toast and hash browns, too. I hadn’t eaten a thing for 24 hours, thanks to Judaism’s insistence on instituting a yearly fast day to commemorate nearly every bad thing that’s ever happened to us Hebrews.* (Though, in the Rabbi’s defense, it’s is a pretty long list, and so I guess I can go a day without fulfilling another sacred Jewish tradition—eating.) So there I was, in the W Hotel on West Hollywood Boulevard, at 10 p.m., starving, desperately wanting to satiate myself with some eggs, a food that I was sure would be easy to find.

*Tuesday night I turned down an oppurninty to cover some event at the Playboy Mansion because it was Tisha B’av, which meant that I had to go to temple. This decision, I feel, should absolve me from having to observe any other mourning ritual on the Jewish calendar for the rest of the year.

Down the elevator I went, out the lobby and a left on Hollywood Blvd. One block, nothing. Two blocks, nothing. Three blocks, nothing. There didn’t appear to be anything ahead of me either.

So I backtracked, walked past the hotel, and in the other direction. Still nothing. I checked Yelp. Only then did I learn that I was looking for a unicorn, that late-night diners in West Hollywood didn’t exist. In Manhattan, this quest and craving would have sent me on a two minute walk and it would have cost me six bucks, tops. Here it was a 25 dollar delivery that I had to wait 45 minutes for.

I loved L.A., and I could definitely see the appeal. For me, though, the decision between it and Manhattan boils down to which of the following do you value more: Weather or midnight eggs.

I truly, truly hate sweating.

But I also really love late-night eggs.

My First Ever Trip to the West Coast, Day 1

15 Jul

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Yesterday afternoon I took a walk. For the first time in more than a month, I was able to do so without sweating. For about two hours, if not more, I walked. The sun was shining and I was walking, and still, not a drop of sweat could be found on my body.

LA is awesome!

Granted, at the moment that I am writing this, I’ve only been out here for about, oh, say 24 hours, and this is my first time ever going west of Cleveland, but still, I feel like describing LA as an amazing place is not me prematurely jumping to a ridiculous conclusion. The weather is incredible, the people (excluding those hosting me) are beautiful. There are beaches that you can walk to, and yet, unlike Miami Beach, you can do so without having it look like you just trekked through a tropical storm, which, as you may be picking up on, is a problem that I am unfortunately forced to deal with quite frequently. And for those of us who are sweaters, summers in Manhattan, my home of the moment, are absolute torture.

Sure, there are some weird things going on here. For example, in the two hours I’ve been sitting here in this Beverly Hills coffee shop, I’ve seen about four men—some in their 40s, some older—walk in wearing button down shirts with multiple buttons unbuttoned. Also, everyone here seems to be obsessed with or working in the movie business. As I write this from Peet’s Coffee and Tea on Beverly Drive, there are three different business meetings going on around me, and the discussions in every single one of them seem to be movie related. Right now I can hear some dude with side burns and in sunglasses, jeans and a plaid shirt pitching his script to an another dude and words and phrases like “my character,” “James Franco,” “it’s more than a love story,” “he would be good in it, although I don’t think he’s perfect,” are being used. And also, yesterday there was this, which on the one hand is kind of cool, but also a bit nutty, to say the least.

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What’s going on here? Well, I’m no exactly sure. At one point at the beach in Santa Monica there’s this patch of green just east of the sand where a bunch of people of different ages and colors get together and take part in what I would call a giant yoga orgy. It’s just a bunch of people standing on the green stretching and breathing and bending together, and sometimes on top of one another. It’s very confusing. But hey, to each their own.

Anyway, more to come throughout the week. Who knows, maybe by week’s end, I’ll be taking part in the yoga orgy myself.

Power Rankings: Will Smith Movies

5 Jul

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Wrote a satirical post yesterday for TDdaily about Will Smith and Will Smith and Independence Day and Independence Day. What I mean is that apparently Will Smith the football player was born on July 4th, which means his birthday is on Independence Day, which is also probably my favorite Will Smith movie, and a movie that I’ve watched I would guess something like 50 times in my life. So yeah, this news/discovery excited me and was something I decided to have some fun with. Check it out.

Writing that post also got me thinking about Will Smith’s career and the movies he’s made. Do you realize what his first four films were? Bad Boys, Independence Day, Men in Black and Enemy of the State. To me, that’s going 4 for 4 with like two homers and two doubles. Since Enemy of the State, though, well, not so good. Seven Pounds, The Legend of Bagger Vance, Wild Wild West, just to name a few of the flops. Anyway, I thought this would be as good an excuse as any to power rank Will Smith’s movies. After all, aren’t we all always looking for excuses to power rank things. Power rankings are awesome!

One caveat: I have never seen “Ali.” I’m embarrassed to admit this, and realize that it’s kind of dumb to power rank Will Smith movies if I haven’t seen one of, if not his best one. But I’m still going to do it. You can just slot “Ali” in wherever you like. Also, I’m sure I’ve left some other ones movies off this list, but I don’t feel like ranking 20 films.

1. Men in Black I: A brilliant concept with brilliant execution. Great acting. Hilarious. Still makes me laugh.

2. Enemy of the State: The perfect thriller and, apparently, had a plot that was wayyy ahead of it’s time, and a lot more realistic than we realized.

3. Independence Day: The alien invasion movie is hard to pull off, though I’m always a sucker for it. This movie pulled it off, and Smith and Goldblum make great “buddy cops.”

4. The Pursuit of Happyness: A “real” movie, and one that, while maybe tries a little too hard, certainly makes you think about your life and feel this man’s struggle and pain.

5. Hitch: Lots of good laughs, and the perfect date movie. Something for men and women.

6. Bad Boys: Stupid? Yes. Incredibly entertaining? Absolutely! Cool chase scenes and some good laughs.

7. Men in Black III: Really saved the franchise after II almost ruined it. I like the plot twist at the end that tied everything together.

8. I am Legend: This is the part on the list where I think the rails start to come off. This movie is a 70 on Rotten Tomatoes—I don’t see how that’s possible. Thought this was dumb and boring.

9. I, Robot: This movie is the definition of “bleh.” It’s nothing. Not bad, not good. Just nothing.

10-12. Bad Boys II/Men in Black II/Wild Wild West: As far an I’m concerned these are all the same movies. Some OK action, maybe a laugh or two, bust mostly just large piles of dung.

13. Hancock: Made no sense. Is it a superhero movie? An action movie? A romantic comedy? And how the hell is there a sequel coming out?!? America is dumb.

14. Seven Pounds: Never have I been so angry when leaving a theater. Perhaps the worst movie I’ve ever paid for. It’s like Will Smith thought he was making this brilliant After School Special on why texting and driving is bad. Uch.

15. After Earth: What moron decided to green light this joke? And who told Will Smith that speaking in a weird accent would be a good idea. Feeahhrrr is not realh. Dahgnerr is areall. Feeahhrrr is an opshhion. The only good part about this movie is that I think it’s the one where America came to the decision that we will no longer pay to see Will Smith movies just because they’re Will Smith movies. It’s on him to now step up his game.

The Most Underrated Show on TV

1 Jul

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OK, that might be a bit of an exaggeration since I’m pretty sure people do actually like Veep and consider it an exceptional show. For some reason, though, it doesn’t seem to get the recognition and and praise that it deserves. It certainly never gets mentioned in the “Best Comedies on TV” conversation.

Veep, which wrapped up its second season last week, might be—save for the brilliant South Park and the wonderful Parks and Recreation—as funny a 30-minute sitcom as you’ll find on TV. Julia Louis Dreyfus* is fantastic as Selina Meyer, the foul-mouthed, constantly-trampled on Vice President of the United States who hates the first word in her title and has big eyes for her boss’ chair.

*(Want to talk about things that are underrated: Julia Louis Dreyfus might be the best comedic actress of the past twenty years, yet you never hear anyone talk about her. You can have Melissa McCarthy and her low-hanging fruit version of humor; I’ll take Elaine Benes and her ability to convey her character’s selfish emotions so perfectly in a smile or a frown, any day of the week.)

In fact, that’s all her eyes are focused on, and in Veep‘s Washington DC, that statement applies to everyone, from the lowest congressional secretary to the Vice President herself. Everyone is a career-oriented prick who views people as tools rather than human beings. Everyone (aside from Gary, an emotionally castrated, tote bag-carrying aid of the Veep’s) is looking out only for themselves, and everyone else knows it…and respects/expects it. No political parties are ever mentioned, nor should they ever be. They don’t matter. Everyone in Washington DC is a narcissistic vampire; what side they play on is irrelevant.

What’s not irrelevant is how they play the game of politics, which we get to see played out in hilarious, absurd fashion. Yet despite it’s absurdities, all the cursing and conniving and clueless characters seem like people we’d actually meet if we were given a peek behind DC’s curtain. It’s the perfect form of satire. Completely ridiculous, yet you feel like what you’re watching on Veep is actually a pretty decent portrayal of life in DC, just with an a touch obvious exaggeration.

Sometimes the only way to deal with the insane aspects of life it too laugh at them. Otherwise, things can get too depressing. Veep gets this. You should watch it.