Saturday, March 5, 2011

Been a While...Whoops

Wow it has been way to long since my last post. Seriously December 9th..damn. Anyway back to the drawing board and getting some writing done. So what exactly can we talk about...why not the Oscars and some basketball.

First things first, the Oscars were Sunday night and like every year I was impatiently waiting on my couch while watching E! Red Carpet coverage. This is mainly so I have some idea of who was the best dressed and who was an absolute trainwreck. Just in case it comes up in conversation, and by that I mean I bring it up in conversation...yeah I go there.

The show itself...total dud in my opinion. One of the worst Oscar shows I can remember. Anne Hathaway and James Franco...not so much. Nothing against them, for the most part I like their movies, but as show hosts blah. They didn't really bring anything dynamic to the show...it was pretty much a snoozefest.

Another quick thing on the Oscars was the predictability. Everyone knew who was walking away with the big awards before the night even started. Except for the biggest robbery of the night...one that had me almost yelling at the television, but couldn't because I was so confused...David Fincher losing out in Best Director. He got screwed, plain and simple. David Fincher crafted, along with Aaron Sorkin's script (that got deservedly recognized) an amazing film that will be talked about for years to come.

So basically I was upset that I got my hopes up so high, like I do every year, for the Oscars. They really turned out to be...forgettable. Such a shame really.

Shifting gears, basketball season is coming down the home stretch, both college and NBA are lining up to have great postseasons. Seriously, Selection Sunday is a week away. It is one of the most exciting times of the year, and I admittedly go way overboard. I fill out brackets online, old school pen and paper style and hopefully I make some extra money in March to possibly pay some bills, but also hit up McNellies.

I cant really explain the magic of March Madness or rationally explain what makes me become so enthusiastic. For the most part, I am pretty even keel when watching sporting events. Only if I'm physically at the game will I get louder and slightly more obnoxious, but I think that is just part of the experience. March Madness though, whole new ballgame in front of my television. In my personal history of watching the tourney many things have been yelled, I have jumped way higher than I should and I definitely broke a lamp during the George Mason run of 2006.

Once the tourney starts I will definitely come back to this point of unbiased, yet enthusiastic viewership and hopefully try to make sense of it. But if I can't I guess that is just part of the madness.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Charlie Brown

Sure, its only a 20 minute animated short, but in that 20 minutes Charlie Brown Christmas lays out, with such nostalgia the true meaning of Christmas. In the age of Black Fridays and hyped consumerism so many times the actual meaning of Christmas gets lost in the shuffle. In the short, Charlie Brown is depressed about the holiday season, but gets some confidence when Lucy puts him in charge of the local Christmas production. No students show faith in Charlie Brown to do a good job, and are positive he will screw it up.

Charlie takes Linus out to the tree farm and ends up picking the smallest, weakest tree at the farm. Charlie Brown is confident in the choice, but a soon as he returns the rest of the group treats him like an outcast for being such a “blockhead”. As the group continues to argue, Linus, my favorite Peanuts character, sets the record straight. Depending on theological viewpoint, Linus’ speech either means absolutely nothing or pretty much everything. He lays out the story of the birth of Jesus, born in a manger in Bethlehem.

So what exactly does this 20-minute television short tell us about the spirit of Christmas or what it means to people? On the theological level it explores the story of Christmas as Christians see it. As a Christian, obviously this is huge, the essential aspect for me of Christmas. But also the community factor of Christmas is important. The students, after the speech, rally around Charlie Brown and fix the tree up to make it look beautiful. The spend time singing around the tree and enjoying each other’s company. At the end of the day, that is what Christmas is all about, just spending time with people who you love and you care about. Sharing some laughs and joy that is what makes Christmas great.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Elf

One of the more recent holiday films to come out, 2003’s Elf quickly became a holiday favorite for the whole family. The reason I love this holiday film has to be the combo of Will Ferrell and Zooey Deschanel. Truth be told I am not a huge fan of Will Ferrell in other roles, I can see and appreciate his appeal, but I never found myself just blown away by his humor. Yet in this role, something seemed different. I found myself laughing out loud at many of the lines and the way he carries himself as this human who totally believes he is an elf. The way he interacts with everyone around him as if nothing is out of the usual makes it just awkward enough to be funny.

Next, there is the lovely Zooey Deschanel playing Jovie, a mall employee who has developed a cynical attitude toward the holiday season. Aside from being absolutely gorgeous, Zooey plays the character with a certain edge, but still full of warmth and cheer. Which is interesting because if she came off as too distant I don’t think many people would like her character. She is cheerful and nice, and in the end her and Buddy the Elf end up together which gives it that nice holiday charm of a relationship. The scene where she gets to sing is great, because I like her voice and Ella Fitzgerald’s “Baby It’s Cold Outside” is one of my favorite holiday songs. With Zooey Deschanel playing the character, it all just seems to fit together.

Elf is a holiday winner with an original idea and enough laughs to keep it going. The casting is great and the plethora of one-liners makes it memorable way past the holiday season.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

A Christmas Story

I want an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two Hundred Shot Range Model Air Rifle. It was all Ralphie wanted for Christmas. It is phenomenal to think that the eagerness of a child for a specific gift led to one of the greatest Christmas films ever, or at least one that has embedded itself in holiday pop culture.

I think everyone at some point growing up has wanted that one gift that no matter how hard you try; it is impossible to get it out of your head. For me, it was a new bicycle…it was the only thing I could think my 8th Christmas. Then my parents teased me with presents like socks and clothes. Boo. Then finally the bike was in the garage…Success

Anyway, back to the movie. The reason I love it so much is the plain absurdity and hilarious one-liners that stick with you all holiday season. For example, two scenes that stick with me when I watch the movie: the leg-lamp scene and the Christmas meal scene.

First, the leg lamp scene is hilarious. It is probably the worst lamp ever. Yeah, ever. The joy of the father is just so childlike and he doesn’t even recognize how the whole family is just so confused. The expressions of the wife are great, trying to move the lamp all over the house where it is the least noticeable. At the end of it all, that lamp ends up in the front window only to be broken…great family connection for the holidays.

The other scene is the holiday meal. After it gets ruins the family has to try to find something open on Christmas day. The only thing open is Chinese, and as the family confusedly orders the food the chef comes out and slaughters a duck right on the table.

These scenes plus some great lines like “You’ll shoot your eye out”, “Ovaltine? A crummy commercial? Son of a bitch!”, and “Oh Fudge, only I didn’t say fudge” make A Christmas Story a must watch during the holiday season.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Christmas!!

Howdy. So now that Thanksgiving is officially over after the wrap-up post it is time to move on to what people say “the most wonderful time of the year”. It is an interesting phrase, how one point in the year can be better than others. I understand that emotions and times can be better than others at certain times, but to say every single year that Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year puts too much pressure on the occasion. If every year it is supposed to be the greatest time, the expectations become way too high. That is why every year I try not to get too nostalgic and excited for Christmas. Don’t get me wrong I love the season, but I try not to invest too much energy and excitement because I don’t want to get disappointed.

The things I tend to love about the Christmas season are the smaller things. Must take joy in everything, as to appreciate everything. First and foremost it’s the lights, can’t take my eyes off the lights. Something so nostalgic about them, one of the most amazing sites is looking at a string of Christmas lights as you sit in your car listening to old Christmas songs. The new music is nice, but the older stuff is so much more relaxing. Nat King Cole, the Rat Pack, Tony Bennett, and Ella Fitzgerald…you know, the big hitters.

Of all the great Christmas traditions, my favorite, and its not even close, is the movies. There are so many holiday movies, so many great memories full of laughs. The truly special aspect of these kinds of movies is the nostalgia factor, something about holiday films just speak to the soul. There is just a great awareness of season in these films, something that when you talk to people about them seems unspeakable, yet at the same time…understood.

So the next few posts will be a rundown of some of my favorite holiday films, and what they mean to me and why they are so important.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Thanksgiving Rewind

Been a while since my last post. Whoops. So last Thursday was Thanksgiving so I think it is time for a little turkey day rewind before I get ready to dive into the Christmas spirit.

Thanksgiving was actually pretty relaxing this year, usually there are too many people and things going on to ever find time to relax during the break. This year though, everything was pretty toned down. It was my immediate family, my sister’s fiancĂ©, and my uncle. I liked the small number, made everything uh…cozier. Just sat around and talked for a while enjoying the great food.

Let’s breakdown the menu this year at the Jackson house for Thanksgiving. The usual items: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans, dinner rolls, macaroni, and of course cranberries. Like every year not a single person touched the cranberries, but they do add that nice deep magenta color to the visual aesthetic. That is really the only reason I ever defend cranberries for Thanksgiving.

After the meal a bit of a nap and a then off to hang out with some friends. I think you know that you have great friends when everyone is eager to see everyone on Thanksgiving. Let’s be honest, its not like there aren’t enough excuses to use on Thanksgiving. But let’s also be honest, how quickly did we all want to sneak away from our families?

Some people say that friends are the new family, I have to agree. I never tend to look at family as some biological unit, but rather who you choose to spend time with and spend energy to maintain relationships with. Sure, you are built into a family unit so in youth it kind of works itself out that way that you spend time and energy with the family. But as you get older and have more freedoms the friends who choose to invest in can make all the difference. I guess that is why I have been rambling this whole last paragraph when all I really wanted to say is that this Thanksgiving I was so thankful for my friends.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Laker Basketball

Coming into the season, there was little doubt in my mind that the Los Angeles Lakers were easily one of the best three teams in the league. Well after a 7-0 start there is no doubt left they are the team to beat, not only in the Western Conference, but also probably in the NBA (though some people in Boston might disagree).

When talking about the Lakers the focus is first and foremost on Kobe Bryant. There is no arguing his ability and the leadership he brings to the team. What makes the Lakers so tough to stop is the supporting cast. When looking at the pieces around Kobe it is tough to find a weak spot. Derek Fisher at the point guard position brings composure and a big-game attitude. Ron Artest is a shut down defender is improving on the offense side of the ball. Lamar Odom is one of the most versatile players in the league; he can on the block but hit the mid-range jumper. Then Pau Gasol, brought to LA in one of the greatest NBA heist in recent memory, is a premier big man.

The guys mentioned above are just the starting five. Where the Lakers really upgraded in the off-season was the bench. Right now the LA is waiting on the recovery of center Andrew Bynum, which would move Odom back to his natural sixth man role. When Lamar Odom is the sixth man you know that this is a hell of a team. So after Odom, guys like Shannon Brown, Matt Barnes, and Steve Blake are coming off the bench. Shannon Brown is a spark plug of energy that can jump out of the gym, Matt Barnes is a scrappy glue-guy who brings toughness to the table, and Steve Blake is a reliable shooter and back up point guard.

Of course, cannot talk Lakers basketball without mentioning Zen Master coach Phil Jackson. He is the core, the foundation that keeps the team running. A master of mind tricks, he keeps this team grounded and focused when it would be all too easy to put the season of co-pilot and win games on talent alone.

At the end of the day, the Lakers are the clear favorite to come out of the Western Conference and rightfully so. With the experience and talent on the roster, with great coaching the Lakers will be playing in the NBA finals.