Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Netflix Documentary Hits and Misses: Vol 10 (May 2015 Edition)

If you are reading this, I am currently enjoying some much needed vacation time at the beach in North Carolina...livin that Dawson's Creek dream. However, I didn't forsake you on the Netflix front this month. Due to important priority viewing like binging on Scandal [Tangent: I swore after the ghost sex debacle a couple seasons in on Grey's Anatomy, that I wouldn't go down that road to ShondaLand productions again...but here we are starting Scandal, and I'm lovin' it.] and rewatching Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt [Tangent: I know it's only been a couple months since I fell in love with Tituss and company the first time, but I felt the need to watch again.] I haven't had much time to be a functioning human and stay up on my Netflix documentaries. Don't worry though, I have a few hits and misses to report. 

 Oh, and before I forget, I really went out on a limb and wrote about my Netflix obsession for Hello Giggles. Because they are a positive domain, I decided to just reiterate my favorite feel good documentaries [Tangent: Although I could have very well pitched my favorite effed up docs! Hello, Tabloid...I'm looking at you!]. If you haven't checked the article yet and that sounds like your kind of thing, you can read it here.  OK, enough shameless self cross-promotion, on to the May docs...

Fed Up- A
 Ugh. Don't get me wrong- this movie is really well made and informative, but it may make it harder for you to enjoy junk food. Usually I am leery of docs like this for the mere fact that they suck the fun out of things. However, even still weeks after the viewing,  I have become the kind of person I loathe most- one that spews statistics from a documentary all the time as a fear tactic. [Tangent: God bless Jamie who had to listen to me blather on about the way the body digests coke for 10 minutes at dinner the other night. I could just see it in his eyes that he was kind of zoning out during my talk of government sugar conspiracies; I don't blame him. Gotta keep that in check....but I know he loves me so has to put up with it somewhat. ] That being said, it's absolutely a game changer, and unfortunately has made me start thinking before I shove Little Debbie's in my mouth [Tangent: More or Less.]. The other day I called my sister to vent about how much sugar a Starbucks frappecino has and I seriously didn't recognize the words coming out of my mouth, and I'm positive my sister thought I was punking her. I guess that means I am evolving and growing up...blergh.

Supermensch: The Legend of Schep Gordon- A
Watching this movie is like eating a meal with a wacky relative who is well- connected and has endless fantastic stories. I started it with my doubts based on the synopsis, but I was roped in within minutes.  Gordon is probably the most loveable and successful talent manager ever, and he happened upon it almost by accident... just because Jimmy Hendrix told him that's what Jewish people in LA do. [Tangent: I was so riveted by his stategies and tactics along the way. He would call cops on his acts to get press, and went way out on a weird-ass limb a number of times.] He is a mastermind.  If you are at all interested in the behind the scenes goings on in the music industry, then add this to your queue now. Do not pass go. 

Mansome- B+
This documentary has a lot of key things going for it- 1. Produced by Morgan Spurlock. 2. Topics in the film are bookended by conversations between Jason Bateman and Will Arnett as they get spa treatments. 3. It's about manscaping, facial hair and the rise of the metrosexual. This was my second time viewing it, and it is definitely a good time, but I felt there needed to be more diversity of topics and less Jack Passion. [Tangent: I know I know...this seems like a bizarre deep-cut reason to fault a movie, but I used to watch Passion on the IFC series Whisker Wars, and he always rubbed me the wrong way. He proves that cocky people can exist in all sports, even bearding.]

Magical Universe- A+
Immediately upon reading the description, I couldn't hit the play button fast enough. "A documentarian strikes up a friendship with reclusive artist Al Carbee, whose Barbie-doll photography gains acclaim and interest over the course of this project's 10-year history." SOLD. As you all know, old kooks is a favorite sub-genre of mine. I hesitate to say too much, because I want you to be as flabbergasted as I was upon watching it. You will basically go from thinking the filmmaker is for sure gonna be chopped up into tiny pieces by Carbee to feeling that Carbee is an unappreciated kind-hearted genius. You may cry by the end, but throughout you will laugh in moments of "WTF is happening!?!?" One of my favorite moments is when Carbee is detailing the inner motivation of all the Barbies in one of his Barbie party vignettes. Go watch this NOW! 

Jedi Junkies- B
It's it ironic or poetic that fandoms are an obsession of mine?  Although I have probably only seen the original Star Wars trilogy maybe once,  but I happen to know a lot of die-hard fans,  so this was not shocking or suprising film, but it was fun. The filmmakers got a lot of their footage from interviews at conventions, but they also profiled people who dedicated their lives to the franchise in some capacity. Some folks devoted their time to tattooing [Tatoin?] their body with the imagery from the movies or devoting their lives to collecting merch or fashioning working light sabers.

Beyond Clueless- D
Have you ever been so so excited about watching something because it 100% fits your specifications, but then you watch it and find it doesn't even come near your expectations? In fact, the whole time you are bored thinking of ways it could be better. Beyond Clueless is that movie. The doc is about teen movies and the common tropes that bind them: fitting in, pack mentality, budding sexuality, transformation etc. It's also narrated by Fairuza Balk of The Craft, which should make it a homerun, but it doesn't. Although it featured some deep cut movie clips and made me surprised "dark teen comedies" isn't my top trending categroy on Netflix, it definitely left a lot to be desired. I would have loved to hear different people interviewed or maybe just some formatting change. Balk's voice, whose monotone quality made me nod off. overlayed on top of clip packages can only be enjoyable for so long. No one is more dissapointed than I am about this than me. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015


Earlier today I was talking to my mom as I was scrolling through Twitter and reading her some of the #ThanksDave posts on Twitter in honor of the last episode tonight of The Late Show with David Letterman.

 I read her my tweet about being 10 and the fact that my parents told me that I could stay up past my bedtime because it was Letterman's last show before jumping networks and landing in his current CBS time slot. Probably to appease their own insecurities about their bold parenting decision, they reiterated that this show had historical value many times. [Tangent: Although she didn't remember it, my mom now finds it funny and a bit skewed the things my folks found historical...lest we forget her decision to allow me to stay home from Pre-K when Maria got married on Sesame Street. My addiction to pop culture has clearly been enabled by those closest to me for quite some time.]

At this point in my life, I don't know if I had ever focused on an episode of a late night show before. The jokes were always over my head, [Tangent: WHY IS THIS CLARENCE THOMAS COKE CAN GAG FUNNY!!??!] so I guess I found them useless and just continued to wish I was watching TGIF instead. That night was different. Not only did I watch my parents laugh hysterically, but I laughed, too. I remember them showing a clip of him wearing a velcro suit and stuck to the wall. It was so ridiculous that I can still picture it and how it was so stupidly funny that it bridged the generation gap between me and my parents. My mind raced with two thoughts: Who is this man? and OHMYGOD! This is the coolest job ever.

I'll admit, I haven't been 100% loyal to Dave. In fact, when Conan took over for Leno [for that year that existed] that was my clear choice from 10:30- 11:30. And once Jimmy Kimmel moved his show up a half hour, that has been my default. However, Letterman was my first love and I'm slowly realizing it as I have teared up at almost every episode counting down to his retirement. [Tangent: Most blatheringly during Ray Romano's heartfelt Thank You and then again during Norm McDonald's stand up set. It was so touching that snot might have presented itself. I even teared up during a montage of Rupert moments on last nights show.] As stated in Steel Magnolia's- "No one cries alone in my presence", so it's highly likely that I will be crying with many tonight and thanking my mom and dad for instilling in me the important things in life. [Tangent:...and remembering how hard my dad used to laugh every time they played Will it Float?]  Thanks, Dave!

Monday, May 11, 2015

My Mom's guide to Facebook

Last month was a momentous one because my mother joined Facebook, and as expected- she has heaps of commentary on the matter. [Tangent: My mother is the funniest no-filter person on the planet, and I often have said that if she had a Twitter account, she would be Internet Famous by her fourth entry.] Although practically every human in on the grid, my mom has always remained steadfast that she wasn't interested in joining. My father and her were always under the assumption that just because you joined the site meant that everyone HAD to know your business. [Tangent : I can't tell you how many times I heard "I don't want someone to know where I am at all times or what I'm having for dinner."] Over and over,  I tried to explain that FB only posts what you type in on the site, but they weren't  having it.

Being that everyday, and for a paycheck, I sit on Facebook, this abhorance of social networking didn't sit right with me [Tangent: OK. Maybe it wasn't  that bad before. Back before she was on social media, my mom never had to send me text messages to alert me that someone I know has posted an unflattering yet trying to be sexy picture or  god forbid to question why my boyfriend has posted a drawing of a penis in a post.]. She needed some frame of reference when I tried to tell her about my day at work. [Tangent: For example, if I wanted to brag on a day when I got a lot of "likes" for my work account. Her response before was, "What does that mean to 'like' it. I don't need Facebook to like you."]

When she broke her hip in February, my sister and I saw FB as a way to give her a project that would keep her occupied. Against her will, we set up her profile and started adding friends for her. Slowly she is picking up on ins and outs. [Tangent: I forget what it is like to be new to Facebook. I joined 10 years ago when it was still "the Facebook" and limited to people with university email addresses. I have adapted to the  evolution and the lingo and the various quirks, but explaining it to someone for the first time is surprisingly difficult. Sometimes it's like teaching English to someone from another country...it makes sense to me, but I know it sometimes is illogical.] Within a week, she was already forming a lot of strong opinions about people on Facebook and had expressed several times to me a real concern that she would be Catfished. [Tangent: Yeah, although she wasn't on the social media grid, my mom watches Catfish and lots of Criminally-mindsy type shows, so she is super aware that the net can be a crazy place.]
Here are some of mom's feelings as a newcomer to the social matrix:

  1. Profile Pictures- My mom feels super strongly that it should be make it be of YOU...not your pet or you and 9 other people. This is mostly due from the fact that a lot of the people requesting her friendship are total blasts from the past and sometimes a name isn't ringing a bell, she relies on the photo. If the photo is of a kitten in a hoodie, it makes her powers of deductive reasoning null and void.
  2. Being invited to games- Because she is a newcomer to Facebook, she thinks being invited to play Farmville or being asked to get upped a level in Candy Crush is like being invited to a party. I heard her say the other day, "I got invited to play a game today, which is so nice of them because it's someone I don't know very well. Too bad I don't play." I'm sure after her 30 millionth invite, I'm sure it will lose it sweetness, but for now- mom finds the whole exchange very charming.
  3. Liking Your Own Picture - One day I came home from work and called my mom out on this faux pas. She, of course, had no idea that she had done it (and didn't know how to delete it), but was glad she had because it pushed it back into people's newsfeed, and hence got lots of new people to see it and comment and like it. So mom's lesson here, if you want more likes on your photos, give it a few days and like your own. I'm not sure this will catch on, but she has a valid point.  
This is just scratching the surface! Don't you think she's halfway to a technology blog by now?

Thursday, May 7, 2015

I had to weigh in on the girl in a wheelchair winning a treadmill, right?

On Tuesday, a friend sent me the now infamous video where the girl in a wheelchair [Tangent: Not me...there are others and this lady's name is Danielle Perez.] wins a treadmill on the Price is Right. The irony of the matter of course made me giggle hysterically. I watched it multiple times as I imagined the producers heads exploding.

I was in no way laughing at her, but laughing with her as a sign of disabled sister solidarity because I knew the Internet would lose their damn minds over the palatable awkwardness. Here are a couple of the scenarios I dreaded.

1. Somehow someone would see her appearance on the show as inspiring despite her disability. Ugh. I'm pretty sure the ability to walk and the ability to guess prices are not mutually exclusive. She wanted to be on the show, so she auditioned to be a contestant. Simple.  [Tangent: I didn't love that most of the articles featured the phrase "wheelchair bound"...which sounds so scary to me!] It's always good to see people like me on television, but not when it comes standard with a morality play.

2. People would be mad at the show for airing the episode or for giving her the prize at all.
I don't really get why people get their panties all in a twist about this. I think pulling it from the air would be insane. I mean if an 80-year-old woman goes on the show and wins a Roku TV or high-tech sound system or a dune buggy, she may not use that either, but they wouldn't pull it from the air. [Tangent: I've also considered what if someone won a giant sectional sofa and 90 inch TV but lived in a teeny apartment?]

Luckily, Jimmy Kimmel had Danielle on his show last night and extended her 15 minutes a fame a little longer, which I am A-OK with because this girl is definitely someone I could roll with. [Tangent: Yep! Pun intended, shamelessly.] He got to know her a little and they discussed the absurdity of the whole thing and spoiler alert: he awards her with an accessible cruise. 

My favorite part of this whole thing is Jimmy's statement:
"People are looking for reasons to be mad about things they have no right to be mad about all the time. That is why the Internet was invented."
Well, i for one am not mad.. maybe because I am such an unabashed game show nerd, but I am glad this weird pop culture faux pas has introduced the world to Danielle!

Monday, May 4, 2015


On Friday, my friend and morning helper Kate came to get me out of bed and brought my mom and I a pretty potted plant. She said, "I know this is your crapiversary, so I thought this would help." Friday marked one year since my brother, Chris, passed away suddenly and this new term "crapiversary" seems like the perfectly fitting way to describe a day that is indescribable.  Every few years, I seem to acquire new crapiversaries, days that deserve remembering but not for fun joyous reasons. They are the "never forget..." days of your personal life.

Crapiversaries are not easy and usually end up making you cry at random times. To keep me from dreading these inevitable calendar pages, a planned day with equal parts remembrance and diversion is kind of crucial. This year, on May 1st, in addition to the standard eating out at a favorite restaurant, my mom and I decided to go to the Southern Women's Show, which for me is a lot of stimulation and food samples and monograms and bedazzled BS coming at you like whack-a-moles. [Tangent: Seriously, I don't know how everyone there looked so happy. I hit my ceiling after being there for 15 minutes.]

We were feeling kind of defeated in our search for diversion there because I didn't need hair extensions or floor refinishing services. Then we wandered into a booth by World Vision, who does mission work with third-world countries and has a child sponsorship program. [Tangent: Because I am always dubious, I used to think these things were Sally Struthers style shams, but my former roommate sponsored a child and I used to see the notes she got from her sponsor child from Africa..and now they are Facebook friends. Clearly, these people are real. It forever reminds me of Garden State where Natalie Portman's sponsored "brother" comes to live with them from Africa when he goes to Rutgers...but I digress.] They shared the booth with a group that sets up businesses for native artisans and sells their wares stateside. At first we were just lured in with pretty textiles and magazine bead necklaces, and before you knew it we were sponsoring a child.

The sweet woman with the nose ring working there told us that we could pick based on country or even a birthday, so at that moment a little light bulb went off cohesively between me and my mother.  We decided this was some sort of cosmic way to remember Chris. We "adopted" a little boy from Nicaragua named Christian who shared my brothers birthday. It seemed only right and it led to us both crying in the Music City Center like damned fools. I felt like my brother, the ever charitable Jones family member, was pleased with our decision.

I know there will be many Crapiversaries to come, and some may be more laced with sad than happy, but I think they are important.  It made me happy to see that my brother's friends celebrated the crapiversary, too. They went camping at one of their favorite camping/canoeing spots. It also seemed like appropriate timing that last week, Hello Giggles ran my story called Being there for Someone who has lost a loved one. [Tangent: You can read it here. I had written it a few weeks prior after a week of REALLY awkward interactions regarding the losses in my family. I think it was a perfect time for Hello Giggles to run my first story about something other than TV. I know it feels awkward plugging this in a post that is dedicated to Chris, but I think it's an important one to read and is relatable for anyone that has lost a loved one.] I miss my brother everyday, and I think he is somehow pleased to be contributing to my creativity. 

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