Thursday, June 20, 2013

My 2nd Mr. Gandolfini Tribute

The incomparable James Gandolfini died of a reported possible heart attack on Wednesday evening while vacationing in Italy. He was on holiday with his 13-year-old son, Michael, and his sister and was slated to take part in a film festival this weekend. Gandolfini’s son found him unconscious in the bathroom, called 911, and the late actor was pronounced dead at 11 p.m.
Gandolfini — otherwise known as his alter ego Tony Soprano on what’s arguably the best premium cable show to date — was a brilliant actor on the small and large screens as well as the stage. While a diverse actor indeed, Gandolfini was undoubtedly best known for his immaculately accurate portrayal of Mafia Made Man Tony Soprano on the classic HBO series, The Sopranos. His depiction of the sociopath-meets-hit-man was raw, real, and forced audiences to, despite hesitation, fall in love with him.
Gandolfini, a New Jersey native, was perfectly suited to play Tony Soprano. His Jersey roots, forced exaggerated Italian accent and hard outer shell earned him the reigning crown of the cable Mafia world. Since his untimely death Wednesday, stars have come out of the woodwork to express their dismay and sadness.
HBO, mother of the famed Sopranos that brought Gandolfini success, put out a statement last evening. “We’re all in shock and feeling immeasurable sadness at the loss of a beloved member of our family.  He was special man, a great talent, but more importantly a gentle and loving person who treated everyone no matter their title or position with equal respect.”
David Chase, Sopranos‘ creator, also expressed sadness. “He is one of the greatest actors of this or any time. He touched so many of us over the years with his humor, his warmth and his humility.  Our hearts go out to his wife and children during this terrible time.  He will be deeply missed by all of us. “
From his colleagues to producers to his ever-loyal fan base, James Gandolfini will be greatly missed. Rest in peace.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

RIP James Gandolfini

To an indescribably talented actor, a true character portrayer and convincing Jersey mafia man. Tony Soprano / James Gandolfini, you will be so greatly missed. Premium cable, New Jersey, nor the world will ever be the same. Another legacy gone too soon. Rest in peace.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Nurse Jackie Leaves Us Thinking at Season 5 end

I must preface by saying a few things. And folks who are not up to speed on the show, please TAKE THIS AS YOUR OFFICIAL SPOILER ALERT. Hopefully those caps relay the point? Carrying on. Last night was somehow already the season premiere of Season 5 of Showtime's drug-addict-turned-way-too-normal Nurse Jackie. I truly do not know how or why these premium cable shows, ahem, the best type of show around, last for about a minute flat. Or in real time, the overly short stint of one quarter / three months / twelve episodes. I put forth that time period three different ways for the faint of mathematical heart. But I digress with my intro... per usual.

So, in any normal situation in which events were actually taking place to real humans (vs. fictional TV characters that is), I wouldn't dare to feel any trace of joy at someone falling off of the proverbial sobriety wagon. Here's that SPOILER ALERT again. (Red lights flash). But surely you must believe me. Why would anyone in their right mind wish the curse of addiction to again befall one who has overcome the ailment? They wouldn't. However, since we are speaking in the context of a fictional world inhabited by fictional characters (sorry Zoe, Jackie and Prentiss, you're real to me), I feel I may venture to a place that I would not in "real life"... a place of relief. Relief for bringing back some drama. Yeah, I said it. Seriously, Showtime. I'm now going to endeavor to give you an honest opinion from a critical-eyed-premium-cable-loving gal. So here goes. Did I overall find the season finale of NJ's Season 5 entertaining? I suppose so, moderately... minus the maudlin tear-ridden emotional outbursts both in the ER and otherwise, and the overly melodramatic saccharin love scenes. I mean, I guess it was nice to know that Frank forgave Jackie *tear* and now the two of them can gracefully waltz off into newly-found-lover bliss? (Cue the underwritten sarcasm.) But my opinion aside, clearly that totally boring and overdone Friends-esque (UGH) plotline was never going to last. And thank G-d for that.

I always quite enjoyed dream-sequence scenes in TV dramas... those scenes in which things seemingly slow down. Characters' actions takes on a deeper, more purposeful feel, and the viewer is invariably uncertain whether the events on screen are actually taking place or being dreamt. The use of dream sequences can be so-so or it can be absolutely fucking brilliant. (Read, Tony Soprano meets Dr. Melfi). Okay so. While Jackie prepared for her one year anniversary of sobriety, migrating first from lover's lane to the shower, there was a clear aura of intentional dream-sequence-ism. There is, to me, no doubt that this was done on the part of the producers to screw around with NJ viewers' minds. Was she fantasizing? Dreaming? Did she sleep with Frank or not? And ultimately and most importantly, did she really pop that solitary pill so meticulously saved in her ring box? You know, just for a proverbial rainy day... or perhaps for a sobriety-celebratory day in this case? Seemingly so, yes -- while preparing for her sober celebration, the "I'm-clean-and-sober-now-Miss Peyton" betrays her seeming squeaky new title and pops that pill. Then just like that, there ends Season 5.

I believe that, as I mentioned, that was-it-a-dream-sequence-or-was-it-real scene, was an act on the part of NJ's writers, of intentional deception. And boy, was it ever strategic. Viewers were left unanswered, pondering whether they will meet a sober or less-than-so Jackie at Season 6's inception. And therein lies the strategy. Any loyal NJ fan will now unquestionably return, if for no other reason than to learn the outcome of Miss Peyton's "action". Allow me now to say this in conclusion. Life is precious and sobriety golden. But when it comes to TV drama, please, allow it to remain as such. If I wished to watch Friends or (insert lame sitcom du jour), I would do so. No thanks. So please, Showtime, bring back the stretched-too-thin-for-her-own-good-I-have-reckless-sex-and-an-affinity-for-prescription-pills Jackie. She was infinitely more entertaining, more passionate and most of all, more addicting than the boringly sober Jackie we got to know this season. Bring the drama back into drama. 

Friday, June 14, 2013

The utmost baffling office behavior

And it is....

When my office door is clearly closed and fellow co-workers do the unsolicited, uninvited, unwanted pop-in. This is by far my favorite observed office behavior. And by favorite I clearly mean, most baffling, annoying and utterly rude.

Let me first explain the set up and details of my office as background. The office itself is positioned in the corner of the hallway right when folks are walking back from the bathroom or printer / walking to the cafe / traipsing about. I would not call this ideal positioning. But moving on. There is also a long window that spans the length of the front of the wall so when said folks are walking by, they inevitably peer right on in as I attempt to be productive. Heyyyy, yep, I'm still here. Still me in here since last time you looked.

Now, moving on to the worst affront of all. I would approximate that roughly three times per day when my office door is closed, someone will do the infamous I'm-popping-my-head-into-your-line-of-sight-and-then-I'm-just-going-to-come-in-anyway-without-knocking-or-any-regard-for-your-closed-door. Now, listen, I recognize that an office building, particularly in the fun-filled world of media, is a place of publicity and openness for us social creatures to wander about and overshare our daily or hourly musings. Really I do. However, I also recognize the value of the advent of the DOOR.

Don't you think, fellow ad comrades, that maybe, just maybe, I might (gasp) have closed my door for a reason?! Perhaps I wanted to have that totally inane conversation with my mother without the entirety of the 31st floor hearing me (and that includes you) or to make that gynecologist appointment in privacy? Or perhaps I enjoy stuffing my face by myself during fifteen minutes of my proverbial lunch break? (Insert snarky commentary on who really takes a lunch break these days anyway?) Do you think it's possible that I might just want to concentrate on that deck that was due an hour ago without being interrupted?

I don't deign to assert that I have never been guilty of committing this offensive white-collar-office crime, however I do maintain I do my best to steer clear of the behavior. #whitecollarproblems. I know. But after all, anyone who is lucky enough to have an office door in the great city of Manhattan has probably earned the right to use it.


The big blue social monster, Facebook, is taking a page from its cohort, Twitter, and adopting the hashtag. Usage of the socially symbolic character will begin to roll out to a small fraction of Facebook users this upcoming Wednesday and to more users in weeks to come.
Facebook’s endeavor with their new adoption of the hashtag is to make it easier for consumers to find content already on the social  network. The use of the functional and pop-culture-loved hashtag is the first step in doing just that. Since a large portion of users already employ hashtags in their posts (despite the lack of functionality to date), Facebook’s reported mindset is why not make them work? Smart thinking, Mr. Zuckerberg and co.  The monstrous social network will be capitalizing on existing consumer behavior rather than implementing a forced change.
And what better way to be a savvy marketer, right? Right.
Facebook hashtags will be both clickable and searchable, allowing users to interact with trends they see going on in their feeds and also proactively looking for a topic of interest.
The adored original hashtag was created in 2007 by a Twitter user, Chris Messina. From his strategic use of a symbolic keyboard character, “Twitter adopted the system of organizing tweets around a certain subject into its API and its broader ecosystem”.  Since its inception nearly six years ago, the hashtag has been adopted by a slew of other social platforms, including Flickr, Tumblr, Google+, and Instagram.
Finally, Facebook proper will join that list. And that is #goodnews.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

#inspirationinasentence ... courtesy of Billy Porter

"Your willingness to embrace that which you don't understand with unconditional love is a template that the world could benefit from employing. Your courage gives me life."

Monday, June 10, 2013

Tony in Boots

Well well well, here we are again, basking in the glorious aftermath of arguably one of the most momentous nights of the year ... Tony's night! Evening o' Tony is truly larger than life. It's totally surreal. All the unabashed stage personas gathered in one small space (well, I guess Radio City isn't quite so small is it) at once -- it's like a girl slash gay guy's overdone dream come true.

Now I know you could feasibly substitute out the word "Tony" with "Oscar" throughout the paragraph above. I recognize the seeming ease with which one could do so. But, rest assured, my aforementioned assessment is not without deep thought into the matter. Yes, the Oscars are totally and utterly epic in their own amazing right. I mean really, who wouldn't give their left arm just to be a fly on the golden wall of the Beverly Hilton on Oscar night. Buttttt, the Tony's have some sort of different special something, that for which I am at a loss for appropriate words. Shocking, I know. But they possess a sort of childhood magic ... for children and adults alike. In fact, I would venture to say the Tony's are (at least for those theatrically inclined souls) the Magic Kindgom of adulthood. Or perhaps even Neverland. In any case, when Tony comes to down,  you better believe I'm clearing my calendar.

And suffice to say, this year's Tony's maintained their track record of pure awesomeness. Uncharacteristic as it may be, I am going to make this as short an evaluation as feasibly possible, focusing solely on those plays, musicals and "play-sicals" that tickle my fancy. Ahem. And what a perfect segway to arguably the most integral asset to Tony'13 ... Neil Patrick Harris, otherwise known to those who enjoy him as NPH. Simply put, NPH is an awards show god. Yes, I said it. God. If all his Tony openings to date have been great, this year's was incomparably fabulous. The actor formerly known as Doogie was literally born for the Broadway stage... er, Tony stage. Not once throughout his debonair entracte did he feel stale, recycled or what would be the worst mortal sin of all, predictable. Harris' fresh take on the slew of plays and musicals gracing today's Manhattan Broadway stages was quite simply, electrifying. He had me at hello. I also particularly enjoyed his 2013 iteration of mashups -- quite witty Mr, Harris -- with my hands-down favorite being "Cats on a Hot Tin Roof." Love the simplicity. And don't worry, ScarJo, you're still as dramatic and sexy in your damsel in distress role as you were pre-NPH-mashup.

Okay so yeah, let's now talk about the obvious... the amazing well-deserved fiercely brash obvious, that is. And in case you're living under a rock, er, didn't watch the Tony's nor consume any social media in the last 24 hours, that obvious that I speak of refers to the mashup love child of Cyndi Lauper and Harvey Fierstein: Kinky Boots. I have no other words than to say this. Absolutely. Fucking. Brilliant. I would venture to dub Kinky Boots as the penultimate musical. From every standpoint, it is pretty much perfect. Original lyrics and music from the incomparable Ms. Lauper combined with a soul-healing story of self love and acceptance from outspoken Mr. Fierstein, infused with quite possibly the best dose of talent I've seen to date. Billy Porter: you are truly an inspiration. This play-sical successfully somehow crosses human boundaries. Black, white, gay, straight ... none of those trivial nuances make a bit of difference once you've exited the KB theater. Have I said enough? Suffice to say, watching Boots rake in six Tony's including best score, actor (hearts Billy) and musical was magical. If there was ever a message, a cast and a show I'd choose to see rewarded, it is this one.  So a heartfelt cheers and rainbow flag raised to that.

I will abstain from delving into the abominable space of Monsenoir Tony's disgraceful snub to the Divine One, Ms-I've-transformed-Into-A-Hollywood-Legend-In-A-One-Woman-Show-While-In-My-Sixties Bette Midler. My only hope is that my previous much-too-long-even-for-a-hyphen-connection-run-on (oops, I did it again) adequately conveys my dismay at the matter. But enough said there. Ms. Midler is far too divine to require substantiation of her divinity from a third party... even Tony. So alas, as we were.

All in all, Tony'13 provided nonstop theatrical magic from start to finish. Even though, ahem, I had admittedly never heard the names Vanya nor Sonia nor Masha nor Spike combined into one phrase until last evening. A team of Russian mafia members perhaps? Of course I gest. But in all seriousness, now that Tony has come and gone and awards season is truly over, let's all make a toast and pledge to see absolutely as much Broadway theater as possible until Tony'14 rears his silver head. So with that, friends and folks,, here I come.


That About Sums It Up