Friday, February 25, 2011

...I'll be spending time with "Oscar" this weekend!

Maybe it's the acting urge I have... or perhaps the dream of one day winning one... but it could just be the entertainment value...

...well, no matter what it is, I always make it a point to watch the Oscars--excuse me, Academy Awards--every year.  I remember seeing as a teeny tot teetering tamely on the table top (actually, I was sitting on the couch but the historically-inaccurate alliteration sounded so much better) Anthony Hopkins win for Best Actor in Silence of the Lambs, even though I hadn't the slightest idea who he was or what the movie was about--and at age 8, that was a good thing.


Sipping along, A recent Oscar-watching moment (that could in fact be quite Oscar-worthy if put into a movie) truly typified my "need to know" condition when it comes to finding out the winners and losers.  I was at a bachelor party in Atlanta, surrounded by good friends and good company,* but sans a screen of televisic proportion.

*Note: "good" in the first context means trust-worthy and life-long, "good' in the second context refers to pole-dancing and clothes-stripping.

Everywhere I looked, there was no TV.  And this was during the time of phones only calling and texting people, believe it or not (the nerve of having no cellular Internet connection!).  But alas, my luck changed when I strolled into the men's room to wash my hands and discovered a mounted screen above the door. What was on?  Surely you jest if you thought anything but the Oscars! (I never jest... and don't call me Shirley!)

I don't know what was more insane about that ordeal: me foregoing half-naked strippers to watch the damn Academy Awards from the bathroom, or Crash stealing the best picture win from Brokeback Mountain.  Either way, my "good" friends and I laughed all the way home about it (or about tit, as they joked).

Now, in 2011, my plans are more sedentary for the Oscars (ironically they could have been the same years go if I had stalled longer in that fabled facility of the wash).  I've seen all the major films nominated and paid attention to all the nominees for acting.  I'm banking on The King's Speech speaking loudly with a win for best picture and actor (Colin Firth), The Fighter fighting its way to both supporting acting nods (Melissa Leo and Christian Bale), and Black Swan flying away with best actress (Natalie "I may have been making out with another girl at that club in Atlanta while Evan was in the boysroom" Portman).  Oh, and Academy voters will "Like" the Social Network enough in the best screenplay and director categories.  Those are my bold predictions.

Now to find a nice Chianti with some fava beans for when I watch... ;-)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

...Blogging on a Regularly Basis is a Breuhaha!

I keep telling myself... I've got to find more time to blog about the myriad of topics running through my mind and life!

But life keeps interrupting this effort my making my schedule busier and busier (which is a good thing).

Also, work gets in the way often.  But thankfully today, I've set some time... oh, son of a... I'm late for the noon show!

Monday, February 14, 2011

...When I Tap Dance, I Get "Astaire" or two

"You journalists, you're too stressed!  You need to get out more and frolic... take up dance!  Who knows, you could be another Gene Astaire."

One of my favorite quotes from the ill-fated, oft-forgotten 80's horromedy Transylvania 6-5000 came true this past weekend: I, a frequently stressed journalist, took up dance (though I do get out a lot, even if frolicking isn't a frequent foible of mine).  And not just any dance: TAP DANCE.

The Mid-Michigan chapter of the United Cerebral Palsy organization held a Dancing with the Stars-esque charity fundraiser and yours truly, in truly the most liberal and local of definitions, was considered "a star" and asked to perform. 

And what a toe-tappin' time it 'twas: 
--3 rehearsals in tap shoes only (my schedule prevented more... you know, all that frolicking)
--2 hours of practice each time I laced 'em up and clicked 'em off
--1 two-minute performance on-stage with no do-overs
--but countless fun and memories to last long after all my shim-shamming, cramp-rolling and scuffle shuffling is kaput!

My routine featured wonderful choreography by Carmen Zavala of the Ruhala Center (I really enjoyed the fact that this rhymed and would often point it out during rehearsals) to Nat King Cole's L-O-V-E.  And yes, we most certainly capitalized on the Valentine's Day holiday sentiments when it came time for audience appreciation (or TapClap as I called it).

But one thing is for sure... I have a new found respect for anyone who puts on tap shoes and makes both music and dance out of them. It's a remarkably challenging feet I one day hope to become even more in-tune with.  Until then, I'm fine with what I've accomplished so far:

Hey, they don't call me "Twinkle Toes" for nothing ;-)!  

Monday, February 7, 2011

...What makes the Superbowl "Super" has nothing to do with Football.

And yes, I'd even say the same thing if the Patriots were playing in the coveted pigskin contest (well, maybe).

For me, the Superbowl brings together all the elements essential to successful daily living: great friends, great food, great entertainment.  Case in point--I stopped at two get-togethers, hung out with some fantastic people, sampled an array of pallet-pleasing snacks and samplers, and stirred up many a successful conversation (and drink) about life, work, social plans and of course, the commercials (note: I did not mention "the game" at all).

And I'll even touch(down) upon more evidence supporting my previous statements: I had a monetary vested interest in paying attention to the score, as I entered into three SuperBowlSquare Pools.*  But after pulling out my sheet once, I soon became more interested in having a good time with the people around me, than getting worked up about a few bucks and few flagged plays on the "football-o-vision".

*Note: my Tommy Tutone-esque numbers on said sheet also helped defer my attention (yes, I had 8-6-7... 5-3-0-9 in various combinations...that means safeties, two-point conversions and missed extra points were necessary... talk about an illegal hit to the head, or wallet).

My highlights from the afternoon/evening: Venison Sloppy Joes, a Norwegian Cheese Dip recipe claimed to have been handed down since the 16th century, a drink known as the "Flying Saucer", a dessert called "Cookie Salad", commercials including a little Darth Vader and a prison-bound Kenny G, and Miss Moulan Rouge herself pulling a Frank Drebin and singing the lyrics to our national anthem wrong (why can't we get Enrico Pallazo to sing at the Superbowl ;-).

If I could, I'd go long and root for every gameday to be like this (well, maybe).

C'mon Pats in 2012!

Monday, January 31, 2011

...I'm still waiting for "The Rite" movie to scare me at the theatre!


Only five movies have ever truly scared me during and after watching them (and while Anthony Hopkin's "The Rite" wasn't one of them, it still was a highly entertaining horror flic, primarily for all the wonderful Silence of the Lambs moments it stirred up---Chianti and fava beans anyone?). 

And I'm not talking about the jump scare, the screamer scare or the gore scare... I mean the CORE scare--the one that sends shivers up your spine throughout; the one that keeps your arms glued on the rest, to your date, to your lap and so darn tight you lose circulation; the one that even when it's over and you're laughing about your experience watching it (and in the daylight, no less), it still makes you go cold.  

Yes, these are the factors of fear that get my heart pumping...these are the tenements of terror that send my adrenaline rushing...these are the high-mark horror hits that make my eyes widen with excitement.  And it's a crying shame we just don't get them anymore in theatres.

As inferred from above, I recently saw "The Rite".  While it didn't, in my opinion, scare me to the level I wanted and hoped for, it was still a thematically freaky and suspenseful film (Mr. Hannibal the Cannibal himself gets all the credit, though, as the devilishly deceptive Father Lucas).  But it got me thinking... when was the last time I was indeed scared stiff from/at a movie?

It wasn't the latest re-incarnations of Friday the 13th or Nightmare on Elm Street--those were more root-out-loud-for-all-the-throwback-references type horror movies.  It wasn't any of the Saw films--I'd categorize those as plain bloody entertainment (both for Brits and American horror hounds).  "And it certainly wasn't Jack the Ripper," to quote a brilliant line from one of my fav five aforementioned films of fearful fandom (yes, I'm dragging out the names of all those films just like a horror movie's plot).

I'd have to say the last time I was genuinely spooked from head to toe at the theatre was "Drag Me to Hell," preceded by "The Ring."  These films represent 2/5 of my list, with the other three being classics I saw on TV as a youngster.*

*Note: some of these films no longer scare me the way they did, but I love watching them nevertheless, especially with people who've never watched them before :-D

Rounding things out: JAWS, The Exorcist and The Omen, in no particular order (with Stephen King's "It" an honorable mention).  I still remember the first time I watched all of these movies and being frozen to the couch as a result.  I even had a few nachtmares that got them banned by the 'rents until the teen years.  But, that's what I get for watching horror movies at age Nein!

However, I'll end my horror-scope, if you will, by saying none of the aforementioned flics could have ever achieved their superscare status without one key element: a chilling score. Yes, listening to a horror movie brings equal "music to my ears" as watching it (and I mean that literally and figuratively). What would Jaws have been without "dum dum, dum dum dum dum"?  What would The Omen have been without "Ave Satani"?  You name me a favorite horror film of yours, and I guarantee the music is morbidly moody, if not memorably macabre.  If you don't agree, try playing that said movie on mute.

Then again, how do you watch a horror movie "The Rite" way?

Monday, January 24, 2011

...a Romp at Stomp, a B-ball free-4-all and Good Vibration Sensations.

What a weekend!

Friday night -- STOMP at the Wharton Center;
Saturday night -- Hoops with the Globetrotters.
Sunday afternoon -- an amazing workshop on the Law of Attraction.

I haven't been so exhaustively fulfilled on a Monday morning like this since 'Nam (as I exaggeratedly make a historical reference to a pre-birth event for a dramatic gramatic effect--I find these fun in writing)!

Let's start with STOMP.  No exaggerating here... it's one of the most entertaining and enjoyable stage performances I've ever seen.  As George Gershwin so eloquently put it, when you've got rhythm and you've got music, who could ask for anything more?  Well, how about a broom, a mop, a lighter, a dustpan and everything else around the house, including the kitchen sink (no figurative allusions meant with this reference, I'm literally impressed).

That's right, those were the "musical instruments" of the cast and when paired with tap shoes, it made for quite the eye-popping combination.  STOMP, as I told a friend, is the most ingenious blend of humor, dance, music and showmanship since the glory days of Vaudeville and Slapstick. 

I caught references/homages/tributes to Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy, the 3 Stooges, Peter Sellers and Mr. Bean; I saw moves right out of Kung-Fu movies, Fred Astaire numbers, Riverdance, heck even Dancing with the Stars!  It was a spectacle that swept you away, gave you a bang, lit-up your theatre-going experience and made you want to drum up support so others could see it, too.  You even got to be a part of the performance by trying to clap in rhythm with the cast and their tools (yes, my arms were sore after keeping up with the beat for a good 10 minutes... but a fun sore).

Speaking of sore... diving into the stands to save a basketball from going out-of-bounds is usually reserved for star players hustling during a big game.  Well, this news anchor turned 2-on-2 basketball cohort pulled out the infamous move during half-time of the Globetrotter's game at the Breslin Center on Saturday. 

As part of a local publicity partnership, TV-6 took on Q106 for an epic radio vs. television hardwood throw down well worth all the hoopla. Myself and Darren Cunningham shut out Mojo and Andy with two buckets and solid defense in our 3-minutes of on-the-court chaos, lol.  We walked away (perhaps limped away in my case) with cheers from the fans and Globetrotters, maybe more out of sympathy than impressiveness, but it didn't matter to us.  Not many people can say they shared the parquet with some of MSU's biggest basketball stars, and in terms of the GT's, some of the world's most recognizable trick-shot artists.  It was a memorable experience I won't soon forget (especially since we had about a dozen friends with cameras and video recorders documenting all our "travels").

But where my travels took me Sunday made the biggest impact on my weekend (and quite possibly my life).  My esteemed colleague at TV-6 Jane Aldrich is a life coach and inspirational speaker on the Law of Attraction.  She holds a work-shop a few times a year about how you can improve all aspects of your life by following LOA.  Though lasting a couple of hours, I knew within the first 10 minutes that I was hooked on her message:  the more good vibes we give out, the more we'll get back (from ourselves, from others, from the Universe). 

And what a way to live, if you think about it.  If you could stay positive and CHOOSE to be happy and optimistic at every chance allowed... then OMG (as Jane would say)!  Life would open up some amazing new opportunities for you, ones perhaps you never thought about or dreamed of or expected to discover.  I'm excited to be "on the right track" right now... and I don't plan on sitting still and getting run over, either.  Actions do speak louder than words... but it all starts with asking yourself one simple question: are you happy?

If not, perhaps you need to STOMP, go for a Globetrot and make a few new good vibrations.

I did. :-D

Monday, January 17, 2011

...Is Monday the Saddest Day of the Year?

How's this for a top story (the capital letters represent 'prompter lingo'): IF YOU'RE FEELING THE BLUES TODAY... BLAME IT ON THE CALENDAR.  JANUARY 17TH IS CONSIDERED THE SADDEST DAY OF THE YEAR. 

Yup, that's how I started my Monday morning, MLK Day no less, reading this immaculately cheerful and awe-inspiring story.  Forget honoring civil rights and activism, we should be celebrating BLUE MONDAY... a day where we realize we didn't stick to our New Year's resolutions, truly spent too much over the holidays because the paychecks don't catch up with the bills, and can't stand to go outside because it's too fricken cold.  "How does it feel... to treat me like you do," a *Blue Monday indeed.

*note: incorporating 80's musical lyrics and references into everyday writing and lingo is a daily goal of mine.  Dare I say, a New Order I plan to use often in the years ahead (especially my political-speech-giving days: you can vote if you want to, you can leave your friends behind...).

But wait a minute.  Stop the presses... hold the scripts... roll back that prompter!  Here's what I say to anyone feeling the woes of a Blue Monday: just hang in there 'Til Tuesday.  Because no matter how blue you may feel now, know Mondays never last or linger.  And they certainly won't Phil Conner's you and keep you waking up to them perpetually.

So a raise a glass to the calendar, don't "BLAME IT" as my script all-capsed me earlier.  It always moves forward and pushes on and we should do the same, making the most out of our Mondays and the start of our work week.  For, if we do that...if we stay positive, upbeat, filled with hope... Come Monday next, we shouldn't be feeling that blue at all.

Unless of course you oversleep, get to work in a frantic state, miss proof reading a certain calendar-inclined story and "Bangle" up in a bench of stress at your computer.  That, my friends, makes for one Manic Monday.