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.