News is a 24-hour-a-day business. Correction: It’s a 60-minute-an-hour, 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week…you get the idea. Furthermore, the news simply is not a nicely groomed anchor reading today’s top stories before handing the ball off to 'Storm,' the weather guy, or 'Champ' for sports. A news channel has an anchor reciting the news. It also has a crawl along the bottom explaining, in brief, top stories. There also is a picture-in-picture of some breaking event. And, in case you were curious, there is a list of bullet points of what’s up next. It’s like staring at a strobe light. Breaking news: The cable news channel is giving me a seizure.
Let’s face it: Tragic career spirals are as common in Hollywood as Botox and traffic jams. Nobody seriously asks the question, Whatever happened to (fill in the blank)? because the answer is obvious and unsurprising: He chose a couple of bad projects (Zac Efron); his ego got the better of him (Vin Diesel); drugs (Lindsay Lohan); bad reviews (Ryan Reynolds); people forgot about him (whatshisname). It’s the nature of the business. Did you know, for example, that the actor who portrayed the magnetic bad boy Kelly Leak form the original Bad News Bears movie, Jackie Earle Haley, is a renowned and busy character actor these days; or that Karate Kid nemesis William Zabka has been popping up in television shows of late?
I drive a lemon. Let me clarify: According to Webster’s Dictionary, a lemon, in the vehicular sense, is a car that 'does not work the way it should.' So, in that sense, my car is a lemon. According to the state of Missouri, however, it is not. Not that I disagree with that. The 'lemon law' exists, and is effective because it deals with cars that have more immediate and obvious defects. In other words, the lemon law deals more with car heart attacks—my car has cancer.
It may not feel like it, but it is that time of year again: Time to pack your bags or your car or your kids, and head for what you hope will be sun and surf and peace and quiet. Spring break can have many different interpretations. It can mean chaperoning a high-school trip—or trying to avoid chaperons on a high-school trip. It can mean shuttling kids around an Orlando theme park, or it can even mean two weeks of It’s time for the kids to see Europe. It any event, whether land-locked, in flight or seaside, spring break always involves one thing: the beach read.
Not too long ago, we all can remember ourselves groaning, Darn it! I have to miss (fill in the blank here), I have plans tonight. Well, unless you’re subletting the Unibomber’s cabin, those days are long gone—but our protestations weren’t. Soon, the viewer war cry was, Dammit, (fill in the blank here) didn’t record! Now, with the rise of Apple TV, Netflix, Hulu, Crackle, Amazon and countless other streaming sites, television suddenly is without schedule.
It’s warming up. Yes, I’ve lived in this town long enough to know not to declare with any certainty the rough part is over, but still, it is March. Even if this little heatwave is just a temporary reprieve from what no one can argue has been a brutal winter, it gives a temperate moment of reflection to thoughtfully ponder what the hell went on for the last three months. I mean, if one more person posted a screen shot of a -18 degree day…We heard the explanation dozens of times: The polar vortex.
Everybody has a cell phone, and almost everybody texts. Texting is easy, cheap, fun, mildly illicit, and it makes you feel cool—it’s kind of like the 21st-century’s version of smoking. And not unlike smoking, it can be offensive at certain times. The good news is, after a solid decade of text capability, certain rules of order have been established; an E-tiquette, if you will. Now before you decide to forward this to the closest teenager you can find, know that I have seen as many—if not more—offenses committed by an older demographic. Texting, like chewing gum, done anywhere but in the privacy of your own room, runs the risk of offense, so here are some basic parameters.
It’s time. The Summer Olympics' less-popular younger sibling, the Winter Olympics, has arrived. As you know, 2014 takes us to Sochi, Russia, for the games. If I’m being completely honest, I’m not all that invested. I do, however, like to be what I refer to as ‘cocktail-party competent’ when it comes to current events. Before the media blitz, if you would have asked me what Sochi was, I would have narrowed it down to Icelandic pop star or Pacific Rim hot sauce. As it is, the only thing I really hear about Sochi is that it’s a snowless, mob-controlled wasteland where a terrorist attack not only is suspected, but apparently imminent. So let’s set the yellow journalism aside and find out some actual facts about these 2014 Winter Games.
It’s official: I am completely submerged in the teenage years. Due to a family-planning strategy that revolved around white wine and Cardinal home games, Cranky, Whiny, and Punch are now 16, 15 and 13, respectively. And there's lots of fun stuff happening: We have a licensed driver, a permit driver and a 13-year-old who likes to back my car out of our driveway ‘for practice.’ I have to say it’s strange imagining the little girl who once dove—yes, dove—off the top of a slide ("because it was faster") behind the wheel of a car.
Well, we are mid-awards season—an underwhelming awards season at that—and we’re finally through January, notoriously the worst month of the year for movies. It’s gray outside and grim in the cineplex. Nevertheless, refusing to give up on a Hollywood that seems to have done nothing but disappoint over the past year, we look to the future. We cling to the hope that when the new buds appear, so will a new crop of movies--a bountiful harvest of action, comedy, drama and suspense. So, renew your Netflix account and Hulu Plus for the next couple of weeks, and then get excited to go to the movies.
Is it me? Maybe it’s me. Perhaps I’ve gotten jaded over the years. Then again, maybe it’s just a really crummy year for movies. Sure, there were a few bright spots; but overall, disappointing is the word that sums it up. Let’s take it from the top…
So, with all the Oscar hopefuls out, as well as some pretty decent mainstream movies, a big box-office opening went largely unnoticed: Well, largely unnoticed by the public, not the critics. The Legend of Hercules had high hopes the young male demographic would turn out in droves to see the mythological hero on the big screen—and even a few female fans of Twilight’s Kellan Lutz, who plays the title role. Hopes were dashed last weekend as the only thing legendary about the movie was its flop.
Everything about modern living is efficiency- and comfort-focused. We went from starched collars and powdered wigs to three-piece suits and jeans and tees. As far as etiquette goes, there are certain formalities that seem to be standing the test of time. Please and Thank you seem to have marched into the information age unscathed. That being said, the rules applying to form of conveyance have relaxed considerably. Texting is de rigueur…for everything.
Well, all things considered, it’s been a relatively quiet year. This is what happened and how we spent our time in 2013:
It’s a Christmas tradition as old as Saint Nick
Google is a great thing. It’s a noun. It’s a verb. It is the ultimate reference resource. Google it is the 21st-century version of the parental command, Look it up. Google has put an end to trivial bar arguments, like Robert De Niro was not in the original Godfather, as well as dinner-table debates such as the phrase is To the manner born, not manor. It’s originally from Hamlet. Google is helpful. Google is smart.
If all you really wanted for Christmas was a movie you could go to without contemplating asking for your money back, Hollywood may be able to help…finally. Here’s what coming in December:
Thanksgiving is just days away, and let me guess: It kind of crept up on you this year. Well, considering it’s technically on a different date each year, I guess it can catch you off-guard—that’s my excuse, certainly. Especially this year with the Hanukkah overlap—Thanksgivi-kah, if you will—and the start of Christmas shopping, it’s a very busy time. So take a moment to unwind with a little Turkey Day trivia.
So something funny happened last week. It’s not earth-shattering or anything, but it did kind of creep up on me. Birthdays don’t exactly appear out of nowhere. On some level, we know when our kids’ birthdays are coming up. Punch’s big day shouldn’t have been a shock. We’ve been celebrating it for years, after all. I remember the first one vividly as it was the night of the infamous Bush-Gore presidential election, dimpled chads and all. Nevertheless, when he burst through the bedroom door that morning and announced, I’m a teenager! It hit me like a safe falling from a roof: I have three teenagers.
You may find this difficult to believe, but 2013 is winding to a close. That’s right. There are just two awkward family functions, one parent-teacher conference, one fight over a space in the mall parking lot, six holiday parties, three vicious hangovers and a partridge in a pear tree remaining, and it’s over. It’s also time for another end-of-year tradition: the Oxford Dictionaries Online online list of new words. Much like the technology to which many of them refer, I don’t know how long some of these will be around. Nevertheless, the distinguished people at Oxford seem to feel they are worthy of an entry. As a service to our readers, I will use each word in a sentence…and also because my children bet me that I couldn't.
OK. So it’s no secret that Hollywood is a shining example of environmentalism. I mean, when it comes to reuse and recycle, the film industry is unrivaled. If a movie’s a hit, they make it another hit and then another. Let’s see if we can hit a 10-figure, worldwide box-office gross without burning a single creative calorie. The film industry will squeeze every dollar out of a good movie down to the last action figure. It’s the soul-less version of using all the parts of the buffalo.
The eleventh month is also the eleventh hour for award consideration. While one would think an Oscar-caliber movie would stay with a viewer, contenders seem to want their film fresh in voters’ minds. So with a few brain breaks for popcorn premieres November should prove to be a heady cinematic month.
Every year at about this time, I am plagued by the same dilemma: the perfect Halloween costume. It’s not that I’m going to a party or even dressing up. I just want to think of it--that perfect outfit that makes everyone say, That. Is. Awesome. I nailed it in 2009 when I got Whiny and his friends to go as the Chilean miners; but since then, I haven’t really, you know, hit it out of the park. I will say this, though: I may not always know what costume to wear on Halloween, but I can definitely tell you what not to wear.
At one time, the height of eponymous success was having a sandwich named for you. I mean, sure, if you’re a dignitary or a hero you might score a town or a bridge. But for the most part, a sandwich really was the flag on the peak. Today, however, the information age has created something greater to which to aspire--or not. A tweet, a YouTube post, a viral video, a Google alert...and bam! Name recognition. And, like the sandwich, when a name is associated with a certain product or behavior, sometimes it sticks.