Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Monday, March 29, 2010
I'm in one of those moods.
It's a mood that seems to occur exactly three times each year for the past two years. It can manifest itself as an uncontrollable desire to declare my love for everything. It can make me stop writing. It can inspire me to start writing again. It can even make me begin a blog called The Collective(ly) Unconscious.
It's that mood at the birth of each new Quarter of my college education. This time around, it has inspired me and reaffirmed that I can do just whatever I feel like doing. And what I feel like doing is preaching.
No, not the Jesus/Muhammad/Abraham gospel but the Harry/Conan/Bluth gospel (I am rather proud of that hastily thought up holy trinity, by the way).
I had a class today called "Writing About Culture" and it, to borrow from the cultural vernacular, "fucked my shit up." It wasn't so much that I was presented with new and exciting information, but rather presented with old, obvious information that I feel is underused. I know now that for the next ten weeks, I will spend four hours in a classroom in which Culture is the most important topic in the world.
My God...I needed this. Prepare for an onslaught of rushed thoughts as I leave a 200-level class exhilarated and inspired each day. Today was only the syllabus day and I still have something in mind that I want to write about inspired by this class.
The wonderful Dr. Hart began role call by going around the room and having each person declare their name and a "guilty pleasure" of theirs. The answers ranged from Lost to the Food Network to John Hughes movies. I answered True Blood, since the person called two names before me had swiped Glee away from me. This, of course, got me thinking, as any random listings of tv shows and movies is bound to do. Is there really any such thing as a "guilty pleasure?"
Chuck Klosterman has written on this topic before. And as always he can elucidate this difficult-to-comprehend concept better than I can:
People who use this term (guilty pleasure) are usually talking about why they like Joan of Arcadia, or the music of Nelly, or Patrick Swayze's Road House. This troubles me for two reasons: Labeling things like Patrick Swayze movies a guilty pleasure implies that a) people should feel bad for liking things they sincerely enjoy, and b) if these same people were not somehow coerced into watching Road House every time it's on TBS, they'd probably be reading A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.
There just seems to be something inherently disrespectful and dismissive about the term to me. There should be no shame in any pop cultural experience. I mean that's the whole reason the entire structure we know as "pop culture" exists. Viewers are allowed to enjoy things on an intellectual level or a visceral level or both.
If I were teaching a class on "Writing About Culture," (Thankfully, I'm not and Dr. Hart seems infinitely more capable than I) I think I would walk into the classroom the first day, write "there is no such thing as a 'guilty pleasure'" on the board and spend the rest of the quarter arguing that fact.
Does this mean I would expect my hypothetical students to blindly love everything that crosses their path? Of course not. And it brings up a point from a recent episode from my third favorite show on TV right now: Community (Ten points to whoever figures out what #1 and #2 are).
God bless Jeff Winger for hating Glee. Hating something vehemently and with cause or without cause is as integral part of pop culture as loving something is. But the hypothetical students in Dr. Bojalad's ENG 284 will never, ever be allowed to utter the words "I don't understand the appeal."
Part of being a cultural scholar is understanding the appeal of everything or lack thereof. Part of being a human being is hating it anyway.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Sunday, March 21, 2010
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Monday, March 15, 2010
And so the craziest quarter of my college experience ends...not with a whimper, T.S Eliot, but a deafening, terrifying bang.
After four quarters of easy classes leading into easy (if not non-existent) Finals, I have finally run into the "Bitch Quarter" that I'm sure every college student experiences. Unless, of course, you have semesters in which case: go to hell, nobody likes you.
Here is my Finals schedule for this week:
ECON 103 - Tuesday 8:00 AM
JOUR 270 - Wednesday 12:20 PM
WGS 100 - Thursday 2:30 PM
ENG 253 - Friday 10:00 AM
Of those four finals, I am confident for two and a half of them and absolutely pants-shittingly terrified for the remaining one and a half. I will let you guess which ones have me sweating. Here's a hint: I am currently at Alden right now and will not be leaving until 7:00 AM tomorrow morning.
Then there are the other various responsibilities that I have chosen to burden myself with. There will be a new article up on Backdropmag.com researched, written and mixed by yours truly. The subject matter is pretty fascinating and it marks my first attempt to create a watchable video since my ill-fated News Writing project so be on the lookout for that. In addition to that, I will be researching and conducting interviews all week for my Spring Quarter Backdrop story. I was working on a profile of the town Chauncey for this Winter but just like everything else during my Bitch Quarter, it was a complete and absolute failure. I went too broad with it but it led me to a topic for this Spring that might actually make a compelling story.
If I have so much to do then why am I writing? Well it turns out that it takes about 40 minutes for a little over 22 minutes of video to upload to iMovie. And in that 40 minutes of spare time, I must use my favorite self-indulgent outlet to complain about my various misfortunes.
Feel free to stop the second floor of Alden tonight, Athenians to sacrifice your time, dignity and sanity to Bitch Quarter with me.
Friday, March 12, 2010
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Here is the second Lost review. Does anybody else think Ben Linus is just like Jack Bauer? He chose flag (The Island and The U.S Government) over family (Alex Rousseau and Teri Bauer) and now must deal with the repercussions for the rest of his life.
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Sunday, March 7, 2010
Remember how I said you wouldn't see anymore TV blogs here at the C.U? Well I lied. I have a personal observation about one of my favorite TV shows, that doesn't quite work on Examiner.com and that I don't want to fit on my Twitter feed. So here goes.
Much like Brick Tamland once admitted to loving "lamp," I must admit to loving Lost. Lost is on my pop culture shortlist of loves that includes only the likes of Arrested Development, My Chemical Romance and a kid named Potter. And like everything else on that list, I obsessively seek out every scrap of information that has ever existed about it.
Sometimes this has come back to haunt me. During season 2 of Lost, I once came across a spoiler that I did not want to come across. I knew a character was going to die in episode 6. I wanted to know who this character was going to be but I didn't want to know who this character was going to be. Hopefully anyone who has ever obsessed over a piece of culture can understand this paradox. Of course fate (a.k.a spoilerfix.com) intervened and I found out that darling Shannon Rutherford was not long for this world. I was quite alright with this as Shannon was annoying as well.
So I watched the episode with this in mind. 10 minutes pass - Shannon isn't dead. 30 minutes pass - Shannon isn't dead. 50 minutes pass - Shannon isn't dead. There is now only two minutes or so to go in the episode and Shannon still isn't dead. What she is, however, is running around the Jungle like a moron with her sexy Iraqi BF, Sayid, trailing her. It is then that my heart sunk and I had a horrible thought:
Sayid is going to fucking kill Shannon.
I immediately hated myself for thinking this. "Come on, Alec," I said to myself, "it's 2005 and you need to grow up. Just because Sayid prays five times a day, likes falafel and was in Uncle Saddam's Republican Guard doesn't mean he is capable of killing the blonde image of American unchecked excess for no apparent reason." Still, there was no time left and Shannon absolutely had to die. My heart started racing as I imagined the Internet chatter the following morning designating Lost as xenophobic, archaic and no longer worth watching. Then Ana Lucia appeared from nowhere in the Jungle and fired a bullet deep into Shannon's annoying chest. Nothing like a Dominican-American Deus Ex Machina to absolve me from allegations of closeted racism! Poor Shannon had not dodged a bullet but Lost had, in my mind. What show could survive humanizing an Iraqi and then turning him into a villain immediately? Aside from 24, of course...
Cut to: this past Tuesday. Lost did what I had once feared: they turned Sayid "bad." Only it didn't feel offensive or cliche. Back in 2005, I was worried that Sayid's turn to the dark side would resemble a cute and cuddly puppy suddenly snapping at a child and then having to be put down. But Sayid's actual turn to the dark side in 2010 felt like a good man, trying to preserve his loved ones' lives because he knew he was already damned. It was epic. It was touching. It was classy. It was Anakin Skywalker in Revenge of the Sith. But most importantly: nobody has brought it up.
To my knowledge, no one has written one word about the abrupt turning of a Muslim character into a villain. It doesn't seem to strike anyone as "off" or to disturb anyone's sensitivity meter.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that Barack Obama can suck it. Lost is the REAL reason we live in a "post-racial world." Enjoy the descent into darkness, Sayid Jarrah! We'll be there with you every step of the way.
Friday, March 5, 2010
I got a double dose of blog today.
The first is my reviews/rankings of NBC's Thursday night comedy block this week.
The second is a little bit of some hard news pertaining to the very same subject.
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
With merely four days before the Pop Culture Super Bowl a.k.a the Oscars, it is time for me to go on record with my predictions. I may actually enter my first ever Oscar pool this year so be sure to come back to this blog after every award on Sunday to see how much money I am hemorrhaging.
The consensus seems to be that this is one of the easiest Oscars ever to predict but I am not too sure about this. I'm just not 100% feeling The Hurt Locker for Best Picture winner whereas I was 100% feeling Slumdog Millionaire last year. Really, who has Slumdog competing with? The Curious Case of Benjamin Button hype died out immediately, Milk and Frost/Nixon were never a factor and all the Weinstein stumping for The Reader couldn't change the fact that nobody liked the film. Slumdog didn't have to go up against the highest grossing film of all time. The Hurt Locker does. And that is why you will find one very, very large deviation on my prediction list from most others.
Here are the predictions. Like last year, the predicted winners are in bold, while my personal choices are in italics.
The Blind Side
The Hurt Locker
Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire
A Serious Man
Up in the Air
I am sick of James Cameron making me look like a dumbass. Consequently, if Kathryn Bigelow makes me look like a dumbass then so be it.
James Cameron - Avatar
Kathryn Bigelow - The Hurt Locker
Quentin Tarantino - Inglourious Basterds
Lee Daniels - Precious
Jason Reitman - Up in the Air
How stupid is it to have ten Best Picture nominees when everyone knows that the five Best Director nominees are the real five normal Best Picture nominees? Anyway, Kathryn Bigelow is the only female Director to have a realistic shot of winning this thing. Oscar can't turn that opportunity down.
ACTOR IN A LEADNG ROLE
Jeff Bridges - Crazy Heart
George Clooney - Up in the Air
Colin Firth - A Single Man
Morgan Freeman - Invictus
Jeremy Renner - The Hurt Locker
I don't know how this became the obvious choice but it did. And I have to roll with it.
ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Matt Damon - Invictus
Woody Harrelson - The Messenger
Christopher Plummer - The Last Station
Stanley Tucci - The Lovely Bones
Christoph Waltz - Inglorious Basterds
This performance is comparable to Heath Leder's in The Dark Knight for me...only even more nuanced. Christoph Waltz may even be more of a mortal lock than Heath was last year. And that's saying something.
ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
Sandra Bullock - The Blind Side
Helen Mirren - The Last Station
Carey Mulligan - An Education
Gabourey Sidibe - Precious
Meryl Streep - Julie & Julia
Notice the lack of italics? That's because I haven't seen any of these films. Woops!
ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Penelope Cruz - Nine
Vera Farmiga - Up in the Air
Maggie Gyllenhaal - Crazy Heart
Anna Kendrick - Up in the Air
Mo’Nique - Precious
Comedians knocking a dramatic role out of the park is too much for the Academy to resist. I, myself, prefer Vera Farmiga. Mostly because I ALWAYS prefer Vera Farmiga.
ANIMATED FEATURE FILM - Up
CINEMATOGRAPHY - Avatar
ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY - Inglourious Basterds
ADAPTED SCREENPLAY - Up in the Air
ORIGINAL SONG - "The Weary King" - Crazy Heart
ORIGINAL SCORE - Up
VISUAL EFFECTS - Avatar
ART DIRECTION - Avatar
SOUND MIXING - The Hurt Locker
SOUND EDITING - The Hurt Locker
MAKEUP - Star Trek
FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM - The White Ribbon
FILM EDITING - The Hurt Locker
DOCUMENTARY FEATURE - Food Inc.
COSTUME DESIGN - The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
Avatar - 4
The Hurt Locker - 4
Inglourious Basterds - 2
Crazy Heart - 2
Up - 2
In this scenario, Avatar has 9 nominations, 4 wins and a Best Picture Oscar, while The Hurt Locker has 9 nominations, 4 wins and a Best Director Oscar. Ladies and gentleman, I give you the 2010 Oscars: the year with no clear-cut winner!
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Monday, March 1, 2010
Attention, ladies and gents!
I have now joined the great and storied tradition of citizen journalism. Instead of merely toiling away at this soul-sucking blog, I will be toiling away at the soul-sucking media conglomerate known as Examiner.com.
What is the Examiner.com, you ask? I'll let our good old friend, Wikipedia explain:
Examiner.com is a media company based in Denver, Colorado, that operates a network of hyperlocal news websites, allowing citizen journalists to share their city-based knowledge on a blog-like platform, in over 100 markets throughout the United States and parts of Canada. Examiner.com is a division of Clarity Media Group, with the primary investor being conservative businessman, billionaire Philip Anschutz, owner of Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), Regal Cinemas, and other media and entertainment companies. Examiner.com claims to have 21,000 contributors, commonly referred to as "Examiners", in addition to the citizen journalists at NowPublic, a Vancouver-based website purchased by Examiner.com in September 2009.
As you can see, I left the footnotes in for veracity's sake. But why would I do such a thing you ask? Let's read one sentence on in the aforementioned Wikipedia entry:
The company has been criticized for the low compensation received by many "Examiners", and the lack of editorial oversight, including accusations of plagiarism.
So the Examiners receive low compensation? You know what that means? I ACTUALLY GET COMPENSATED! Screw Journalistic integrity...Bojalad's got to ged paid, son.
My position at Examiner.com will be under the "Cleveland"and "Arts and Entertainment" sections and I will be one of three Cleveland TV Examiners. Here are the other two if you would like to read them. I recently submitted my first blog entry and will let you all know the moment it appears on the actual site. I will place the link for my new page at the right of under "My Collective Unconscious" safely nestled under the new Backdrop website. I will also post the link to my newest entry at Examiner on the Collective(ly) Unconscious the second it posts.
What does this mean for the Collective(ly) Unconscious? Probably nothing. I can guarantee that you will not see another TV-based blog on this website for the duration of my stay at Examiner.com. Why would I waste my precious words here when someone is going to pay me to spout them at another URL?
Undoubtedly, I will have thoughts on things other than television that I will want to communicate to the world. And when the inspiration strikes, the Collective(ly) Unconscious will still be here.
I hope you will be as well.