Friday, December 23, 2011

Thankful (not just the name of a Kelly Clarkson song)

Tis the Season to be thankful so here's my list of what I'm thankful for as we head toward a new year, a fresh start and new dreams to be realized.

I'm thankful for express trains, for BLEEP Magazine and for the Hershey's Kisses Christmas commercials.
I'm thankful for gum that tastes like mint chocolate chip, that I've given up on Glee and for beautiful people on the subway.
I'm thankful for walking around New York after midnight, long conversations with no boundaries and the escaped Bronx Zoo snake's Twitter account.
I'm thankful for the new Coke machines with vanilla Coke Zero in them, the ability to not wear clothes from H&M not because they don't fit but because they are ugly and for epic nights out in the city with friends.
I'm thankful for the excitement between the plane landing and the Love Actually moments at baggage claim, for XM Radio stations and for driving down the Tollway while listening to them.
I'm thankful for End-of-Year lists, for Christmas cartoons and for tex-mex.
I'm thankful for puppies sleeping in my bed, for coat weather and for text messages.

In conclusion, I'm really thankful for the reboot we get each year and our ability to start over. I don't live a very dramatic existence but there's something about the new year that just lets you have a mental reboot. So I'm thankful for the reboot, for Florence and the Machine and for dating someone I think is fascinating. I'm thankful for the Star-Bellied Sneetches, for the song 'Rhythm is a Dancer' and for the existence of Katy Perry. I'm thankful for opportunity, for the unknown and for the possibility the future brings. I'm thankful for my family that loves me no matter what. I'm thankful for my friends that stick with me though I'm moderately obnoxious, too positive and overly excited about the seemingly insignificant things in life. I'm thankful for a shrinking waistline, for Red Vines and for salsa that's so good you can drink it.
These are the things I'm thankful for this Christmas. Here's to a great year and an even greater 2012.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

One of the best?

I think it's possible that The X-Men animated series from the 90s is one of the best serialized shows of all time. Certainly the best animated serialized show. Here's a show that ran for five seasons, with a single, continuous narrative that built on what happened the previous week. That may not sound like anything special as most television shows and film franchises do that, but this wasn't a series that ran on ABC during prime time. This was a children's animated series that ran on Saturday mornings. I can't think of another animated children's show that runs in a serialized format.
More than just fight sequences like the Power Rangers or silly situations like Tiny Toons, X-Men had drama, love, action, new characters introduced and other characters actually died. In the second half of the first episode, one of the principle X-Men characters dies. That's a heavy concept for a kid's show. Actually, that first episode is a great standard to judge from. It begins with a young girl, Jubilee, questioning why she is the way she is, how she was born a mutant and why won't the world accept her. It doesn't begin with costumes or explosions. It begins with story.
The characters are intricate too. There's Jubilee, the girl who doesn't know her place. There's Rogue, the Blance Devereaux of the X-Men world, who says things like, "You look at nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs," but because of her powers, she can't actually have human contact with other people. There's Storm who has extreme claustrophobia and deep-seeded issues from her past. And those are just three of them. If you've seen the movies, you know the issues the characters have. Those weren't added for the films. They existed in this kid's television show first.
For five seasons, my brother and I watched this show every single Saturday, too young to even know how to properly pronounce Rogue (for the record, we pronounced her name "Rah-gue" until we heard them pronounce it on the show. A sad moment in Brinson English history but a true one nonetheless) and for five seasons were watched everything that happened with the X-Men and followed along, buying action figures, creating their world out of LEGOs and pretending to be them as we climbed in our tree in the backyard. Not even Batman:The Animated Series was able to pull off the serialized story-telling and that was a stellar show in itself.  But X-Men pulled it off, especially during The Pheonix Saga, perhaps the pinnacle of the series, with complex storytelling, emotional investment and action that spanned the galaxy. It should be known that the animated X-Men told this story light-years better than the multi-million dollar costing films did.
For all these reasons, I believe that The X-Men animated series is one of the best.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

An Open Letter To Brooklyn Tabernacle

I was so excited to come and see your Christmas show, I told everyone how excited I was to finally see and experience what has only been mused to me in both fable and myth. As someone who loves very little more than he loves a good Christmas extravaganza, this was supposed to be the mecca, the epitome of what a church has to offer for the Christmas season.
But as I walked out of your doors, not filled with holiday cheer but filled with the super-pissed feeling of angst, I had one question for you: How do you do a Christmas show without your choir?
It's the one thing you're known for. The ONE thing. And yet, on the celebration of Jesus' birth, and your biggest outreach of the year, you don't bring your A Game? Rather, you bring a play that I could have written ten years ago? Furthermore, the songs you did sing, were prerecorded? Why was there never a single live instrument played over the course of the FAR TOO LONG night? I guess we just decided to skip over that whole bit in Psalms where they PLAYED INSTRUMENTS. And while I do believe that God is a fan of the synthesizer (as I also believe He is a fan of both the Muppets and Crystal Pepsi), I also believe that God is none-too-thrilled with the fact that you just used the track off the Natalie Grant album, rather than playing the music yourself with the musicians we all know you have.
So, while your building is beautiful and there was so much hope riding on you being the Christmas show of all Christmas shows, I left there thinking: How fast can you get me to Radio City to see an actual Christmas show that's done right? That's the wrong idea Brooklyn Tab. That's not what people should be thinking as they leave. You're supposed to be better than this. Actually, you're supposed to be the best at this. And you failed. Miserably. And I'm pissed. Super pissed. And full of questions. Such as this: Why is there more joy on stage at Sister Act than was on stage at your Christmas show? Shouldn't you be the epicenter of joy? Why did the manger scene at Radio City take my breath away but your little manger scene IN AN ACTUAL CHURCH looked like something I did in children's church? Your chairs may be the most comfortable theater chairs I've ever sat in, but I'm left wanting. Wanting something more. Wanting something polished. Wanting what you're known for. So next year, (not that I will be attending but still), bring your A Game. Bring out that choir and sing Mary Did You Know. And for the love of the God that you are supposed to be so joyful about, please play the instruments that are sitting next to the stage collecting Christmas dust.
Amen.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Friday to Sunday in December

 The crew of 30 Rock took over the block where I work.

 SantaCon. The day when everyone dresses as Santa and drinks for free.

 I love a festive fire station.

 Who knew that Chang from Community has his own beer?

 When you don't have the money for a sign, why not use a Light Bright?

 Old friends.


 The sites of Lincoln Center at Christmas.

Yes. I did burst into singing "Movin Right Along" by the Muppets.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Fall.

I wake up this morning and turn on the TV to see there's a figure skating competition on. Fun.
So I'm watching the guys skate around. Being an avid Olympic fan, I feel there's always an excuse to watch figure skating - but I had a problem. I'm watching the last skater skate and he fell down twice. Not only that, but he didn't complete all of his jumps. Then he won.
Now listen, I still think what he did was amazing. I certainly couldn't do that. But, if you are going to win by making all those mistakes, then I feel like that sets a pretty low precedent. Maybe I could do that actually.
I've been told that it has everything to do with a certain scoring system and whatever, but all I can see is the guy in second place skating perfectly and the guy who won first fell down twice. Isn't the point of the sport to show all the wonderful things you can do while on the skates?
I feel like people should be rewarded for being at the top of their field. I do. But I do not think people should be rewarded for mediocrity. The entire reality TV genre is composed of people being rewarded for mediocrity. Not the competition shows, but the 'follow-you-around-with-a-camera' shows are all rewarding the bad behavior and questionable life choices made by pseudo-celebrities that have no merit or anything to offer the world. Yes they are rewarded with book deals, bigger paychecks and magazine covers.
I just want people to warrant the praise they receive. The ice skater did not deserve to win. He fell twice. A 'Real Housewife' or a Kardashian deserves nothing because they did nothing to earn it.
I don't want to be like that. I want what I do in life to be important and full of substance. I strive to live a life of substance. A life of loyalty. A life of giving. A life of communicating. A life of judging people who wear ugly things in public. A life of judging people who wear ugly things in private. A life of substance.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Week in review

 Donuts from Flex Donuts. Unreal.

 World AIDS Day.

 Because snow should fall in this pattern. I truly believe that.

 One of my oldest friends in town for the first time.

 How about a peanut butter and jelly donut from The Donut Plant in Times Square?


 More sweets.

 My trip to the Bravo offices where everything is branded just like it is on TV.

Friday, December 2, 2011

The big 3-Oh oh oh

Today is Britney Spears' 30th birthday. A milestone for anyone I suppose, her included, but really, it's a milestone for the rest of us.
I remember seeing her in the mall before her first album came out and thinking, 'Huh. She's fun."  I can tell you where I was when I heard Oops for the first time. I remember going to Walmart before class on the day her albums came out and getting them first thing. But more than that, I remember what was going on in my life at all of those moments. Do you have an artist that does that for you? You've been following them for so long that you can almost chapter your life with each album they released?
More than anything, we're kinda glad she made it to 30 right? I mean, for a while there, it was touch-and-go. We weren't sure if she was going to make it or not. But, in true pop-star-redemptive-arch-Behind-the-Music-in-the-making form, she found a way to bounce back and have more number one albums and two sold out world tours.
People are making quite a big deal over her being 30 too. MTV made a special birthday video that actually looks like it took some time to make, there are articles all over the internet about her (my favorite is this one on Rolling Stone). For me, not being that much younger than she is and really growing into my own at the same time as she did, I'm not afraid to say that she's been a big part of my life. I think the musicians we listen to are a part of our lives, whether we like to admit it or not. The music we listen to becomes part of who we are in a way that other hobbies don't necessarily.
So today, Britney turns 30. I don't know what she's doing to celebrate but I know exactly what I'll be doing to celebrate my 30th. Vegas with everyone I know. Now that will be a Circus.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

World AIDS Day hits home

Today is World AIDS Day and I have to say, this is a day that's really important to me.
Ever since I first spent a summer in New York six years ago, AIDS has been something I've becoming increasingly more knowledgeable about and increasingly more passionate about.

Yesterday, in my office, there was a screening of the short documentary "Still Here" that won awards all over the world, including at Cannes, and it was about a man and his life with AIDS. His name is Randy and because of a genetic mutation, while he has HIV, it will never be able to attach to his cells, causing AIDS. He watched everyone he knew die in the early 80's and has now dedicated his life to teaching people about prevention. The film was moving, even moreso to me because it was made my a student.

But what I'd really like to write about is another Randy. My father.
You see, he took care of the very first HIV patient in Dallas. This was before there was even a name for this disease, and my father was assigned to taking care of this man that was dying. Not only that, but he began taking care of all the men that came into his hospital with this mystery ailment. I will never forget when he told me he wanted to make sure each man would not die alone and how he marshaled the nurses to stay with them every minute of the day and night.

I realize that was so many years ago, and I didn't even know this story until a short time ago, but it's yet another reason why my father is one of my heroes. No one knew what was going on, just that these men were dying so quickly, and he made sure that each one of the men that came into that hospital would not be left to die alone as so many were all over the country.

I do believe a cure will be found eventually and I hope it's in the lifetime of men like Randy and Randy who saw it at the beginning and can see it come to an end. And while my father wasn't able to prevent these men from dying, no one was at that point, he was there when they needed someone, just as he's been for me when I needed someone.

Support AIDS research. I donate to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and I partner with our AIDS programs at work, but there are so many organizations that need support.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A week of giving thanks

 This is how I started my Thanksgiving holiday on Wednesday and I just don't care.

 Central Park is so beautiful.


 My best Ruth showing off at dinner.

 I'd never had one of the cocktails that has cotton candy in it and they pour everything on top of it - now I have and it was worth the wait.

 I love New York at Christmas.

The "6" hotel. Profound for a myriad of reasons. 

 T
 I don't have much Christmas decor up in my apartment yet, but I sure do have my leg lamp night light in the kitchen.

 Because you never know what you will see scribbled on a subway wall in the village.

 Why not have brunch at a jazz cafe?

 The tree in the park by my house is lit again. I'm still convinced that the rats and pigeons put the lights up like the rodents make the dress in Cinderella.

Saw some movies, saw a play, had time with friends, went out and lived life. All without ever setting my alarm and sleeping as much as I wanted. Success.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The 'Connection'

I just started crying during a commercial for the Muppets movie.
Yes, I did.
This is me owning it.
They were singing Rainbow Connection, they gave Animal his drum sticks back, Kermit and Piggy are looking longingly into each other's plastic eyes...and I teared up.
Did I mention I haven't even seen the movie yet?
But the commercial got to me. As much as I'm a fan of the little things in life and you know how much I live for the love of a moment, I can only think of one other commercial that has ever caused me to have an emotional reaction. Actually, it's a family of commercials.
And they are Coca Cola.
Let me first clarify, the Christmas season doesn't officially start when Santa arrives at the end of the Macy's Parade. In fact, it starts the first time you see the Hershey's Kisses commercial where the kisses play like handbells. That means Christmas is here, but it doesn't make me cry.
What made me cry were the Santa trucks commercials. They were perfection. They made you feel like there was wonder in something ordinary. A truck that you see all the time was suddenly special and new. Plus, there was always something exciting about seeing the trucks with all the lights on them driving through the woods, headed to bring joy to the people of a small town. I'd be lying if I said I didn't have the mp3s of those commercials on my iPod.
The other Coca Cola commercial that moved me was the updated version of "I Wish." It's moving to me. As this woman walks down the road, she's handing out Coke as if it were hope, peace and kindness. As sappy as it might sound, I'd like to think I'm a bit like that woman, believing in people and trying to dole out as much hope as I can. I'm not going as far to say that a Coke commercial changed my life...but I kinda am.
I appreciate the fact that there was something in even a commercial that resonated within me.  That sort of simple hope keeps us alive, keeps us feeling something, keeps us connected. All from a commercial? Well, yeah.
 

Diet

I love Cream Soda. I always have and while I no longer drink regular soda (or even diet soda that much anymore), I tend to have a bottle of diet cream soda in my fridge. Part of that is a defense mechanism because if I'm craving something sweet, I can usually make the craving go away with the soda.
Here's the thing. I don't like soda in the morning. Some people wake up and the first thing they do is drink a soda. Some people are that way about their coffee too and you know I love my coffee, but I need my body to wake up a bit before I can go pouring coffee into it. If I don't wait, it upsets my stomach. I'm not sure why and I'm choosing to believe it's just a quirk...
Anyway.
I wake up this morning, tired because I'm mentally exhausted right now, and I start my routine. First stop? Bathroom sink to brush my teeth. So I'm getting ready, I turn the water nozzle and nothing comes out. The water has been shut off in our building for some reason. Okay...
You should know that I have to brush my teeth before I do anything in the morning. I have to have a clean mouth before I can feel presentable to anyone. I'm looking around, no water bottles anywhere, no water in the faucets, the only thing I have is...yes...diet cream soda.
So I brushed my teeth and had a diet cream soda rinse afterward to get the toothpaste out of my mouth. That. Happened. I'm nothing if not resourceful I suppose and while I didn't have that Orbit 'good-clean-feeling' afterward, it did the job I suppose. I'd like to believe that every time I'm resourceful in cleaning my teeth, a baby dentist gets their Red Bull wings.

Monday, November 21, 2011

A week of being out and about

 Just a technicolor reminder I suppose. "Sin will find you out."

 Patina Miller from Sister Act on Broadway and Whoopi Goldberg help unveil the Macy's Christmas windows.

 Hooray! (This actually did make me very happy)

 I've become obsessed with the Empire State Building. Since it gets dark here so early now, when I leave work, I can see whatever colors its lit in and I love it.


 Clearly.

 A great little play from a new theatre company trying to get off the ground.

 What do you get when you take a Pop Tarts box and cover it with fancy duct tape? Remote control holder. I should be on one of those silly DIY websites.

While everyone is gearing up for Christmas, I found PUMPKINS. Huge ones.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A first

I did something interesting last night and I can honestly say it was a first.  I really enjoy "firsts." First dates, first listens to new songs, etc. I just like firsts.
I was trolling Twitter for nothing and everything all at once and I saw that a past contestant from So You Think You Can Dance was having some sort of Wednesday night prayer group online. So I click the link. Turns out, it's a video chat where he lets people type in prayer requests and he and his friends pray for the needs of his fans. That's fine and all and I'm in full support of someone doing something like this. It's different, it's interesting and it's accessible. But I found myself being less interested in the praying and more interested in everything else that was going on.
Here you had people who were there for so many different reasons. Some were actually there for prayer, but some were there to tell him they loved him. Some were there to ask for him to follow them on Twitter. Some were there just to see his face and comment how pretty his eyes were. While I'm sure all of that is very flattering for a past dance show contestant/fledgling Canadian pop star to hear, it wasn't the reason for the chat. It was interesting to me to watch him for that half hour try to bring things back to the praying.
At one point, things had gotten so far off track that I was worried the poor boy was going to lose interest. I could see the boredom in his eyes because all these girls were gushing about him and not sending in their prayer requests. So, being a student of pop culture communication, I decided to throw my hat in the ring and try to bring things back. I typed in, "My friends and I started an online magazine about creative culture because we were tired of the tabloid nonesense in every publication. It's tough and we could use the prayer."
So he reads what I typed in out loud, everyone in the room with him comments about how cool that is that we started that (thank you very much by the way) and they prayed for the magazine, and by doing so, brought the session back into focus.
I just thought the entire thing was so interesting. Here you have this person that is someone of a demi-celebrity within the dance world who takes half an hour each Wednesday night to pray with/for his fans and what they need, all the while fielding compliments about how hot he is. The juxtaposition was just too fascinating to me. Will I tune back in next week? I just might because it's not every day you get to see the intersection of faith and celebrity play itself out in a digital battle of sorts. Regardless of anyone's belief system, it was an interesting exercise in the capabilities of current technology to facilitate the interplay of communication between people from all over the continent.

Monday, November 14, 2011

...our next cartoon features...

I met Slappy the Squirrel today.
I did.
I mean, I think I did.
I'm kinda in a haze today because I don't feel the greatest, but I had to come to work because I had an interview and photoshoot with someone that wasn't going to happen if I wasn't there. But I digresss...
This woman that I'm interviewing comes in, and I've met her before, but she has cut her hair since then. That shouldn't matter but when I last met her and she looked more like Helen Mirren as opposed to the Chaz Bono look she's sporting now.
She starts talking in her very New York accent and I think it was a mixture of the short hair with the Brooklyn accent and my haze of illness that made her slowly morph into Slappy the Squirrel. Suddenly, I didn't see this woman anymore. All I saw was a talking squirrel that, at any minute, was going to make a wise crack about Milton Berle or drop an anvil on someone's head.
Can I tell you how profound it is to talk to a cartoon in person? It's not as exciting as you might think it'd be when you're a kid. But it's not terrifying either. What's terrifying is seeing the faux-cartoon characters dressed up and wandering around Times Square charging tourists five dollars a photo when that's precisely that amount of money they spent on their costume. Do we really need six Elmos wandering around Times Square? Do we really need a blue formless fuzzy blob trolling for tourists in an attempt to profit off of what I can only guess is a reject Cookie Monster outfit that got ran over on the Queensboro Bridge?
But in talking with Slappy, I realized one thing. I need to take some meds and I need to get into bed. We shouldn't be talking to cartoons in real life. It may have worked for Roger Rabbit but I just don't see it working here. I'd much rather talk to a Muppet in person, mostly because I already know the language. I speak fluent Muppet.
If you've read this blog before, you know that I think Slappy is one of the best animated characters ever and Animaniacs is obviously one of the best animated shows ever, but I will say that I don't have a desire to talk to Slappy again. She wasn't a very good interview. Gonzo however, would probably nail it.