Meeting/Seeing Celebrities

I want to make this review as “non-braggy” as possible, so I’m gonna refrain from giving a list of famous people of whom I’ve been within 100 feet, but just to warn you all, to give examples, I’m still probably going to have to drop a few names.

naomiwatts.jpg
A picture I took of Naomi Watts and Heath Ledger, back when they were still dating in 2003. Hopefully he didn’t break her nose like he did Jake Gyllenhaal’s.

So, I’m sure you’ve all heard me give examples or tell stories about “When I was in California”, and I’m sure you probably cringe every time I mention it. I actually do when I find myself saying that phrase. The problem is that for people that I haven’t talked to in a while, it makes good conversation, and is probably the most intersting thing I’ve done since senior year of high school. People (who haven’t heard it before) like to hear my “glamorous” stories about the time where I stood in a crowd of hundreds on Hollywood Boulevard, watching dozens of people take pictures of Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston making kissy faces at each other at the premiere of her “instant classic” film “Along Came Polly”. Honestly, I was bored. Everyone around me is trying to get a glimpse across the street to the dimly lit figures about as big as if I hold my index finger an arm’s length away from my face and close one eye, and I’m there wondering what the big deal is. I suppose it’s good for “bragging” rights, as anyone who’s seen my “You can kind of make out the back of his crew cut” pictures of the event knows. Yeah, I took some pictures…. yeah, my lense doesn’t zoom…. It was my first time around at an event like that (it actually was the first night I had gone into the hollywood area) and I just happened to have my camera on me. But I was the tourist, and those other people lived there, so I’d hope that grants me a pardon. You’d think that after living in the area for more than I had at least, that the other onlookers would get tired of staring at people for no purpose other than that. Maybe there were a lot of other tourists in the group. I don’t know.

Moving on… working at the tv show that I worked at, I had daily run-ins with notable people… mostly b-list celebrities, and while I was excited going in to see what they looked like close up, most of the time it wasn’t a big deal or I was totally let down. The “beautiful people” as we’re led to believe, usually are no more or less attractive than any moderately attractive person you’d see in everyday life, and in fact, many times are less so. Elisha Cuthbert and Eliza Dushku are the biggest examples of this. Elisha Cuthbert (as well as Avril Levigne) is so remarkably short that you wouldn’t even recognize her if they walked past you. Eliza Dushku just wasn’t very attractive at all in person. Kelly Clarkson looks nothing at all like she does on TV or movies, or album covers without being very heavily made up.

The bottom line is that watching things like red carpet coverage where we learn to worship the idols of TV and film, we de-humanize them, and in that humanizing instance where they’re getting gas at the pump next to us you realize that they’re just above- average-looking people with a good amount of money, and unless they’re total coked out divas, or fried has-been rappers, they’re usually really normal and humble.

**

Meeting/Seeing celebrities gets two stars as the only real positive that can come of it is being able to tell other people and hope that they actually care (and don’t perceive you as unjustly gloating your “fortune”). Expectations usually will not be met because the media have set such a high standard, making people larger than life with us supposed to care about every little detail of their private lives. In the end, they’re just moderately attractive people who like to play dress-up, or dance around like idiots…. Rob Schneider, I’m looking in your direction on this last one.

Quiznos Steakhouse Roast Beef Dip

Site note: We’ll be having our first night of live reviewing on Sunday, February 5 during the Superbowl. That’s right; we’ll be reviewing all aspects of the game while it’s still in progress: we’ll review plays, people, commercials, the foods we’re eating, you name it. Be part of our reviewing milestone starting at 6pm EST on Sunday Feb. 5.

MINI-REVIEW!


Quiznos? More like Quiz-MAYBES!!!

I had this sandwich the other day, and I suppose while I can’t really claim to have expected there to be any more to it, it was very underwhelming. Having not lived under a rock for the past however many years, I realize that ads for food usually exaggerate (or “overrexaggerate” as friend of The Bookshelf Josh Calloway would say) the overwhelming deliciousness that said foods provide, and that Quiznos is a big purveyor of such underhanded tactics.

First of all, and yet a side note, Quiznos likes to pretend that their prices are cheap when they’re anything but. When you hear them speak of just 2.99, you automatically jump to the mindset that Subway instilled in us about subs being 6-inch or footlong, however that’s not the case. It’s more along the lines of 4, 8, and 14 inches, or something like that, and so the 2.99 price is for the small. I’m willing to forgive the higher pricing as the sandwiches are mostly considerably more “gourmet” than subway, but the fact that they advertise them as cheap without saying the actual size, essentially preying on this mindset, really grills my flatbread.

Back on topic. So the sandwich looks all big and stacked full of slow cooked roast beef and melted swiss cheese, when in reality, all it is is a regular roast beef sandwich (the beef hasn’t been specially cooked or anything), with swiss cheese, served with a cup of roast beef juice, known better by some french term that i’m not going to stoop to saying. The sandwich was hot, but I’m not giving them the special credit for that because they toast all of their subs. Basically this was a plain roast beef sandwich, made to look all important, and the price that the people paid for it probably wasn’t worth the letdown.

Not saying that the sandwich wasn’t good (it was quite tasty), but I probably would’ve been better off with the Chicken Carbonara sandwich, the classic italian (minus the olives), or the more expensive black angus sandwich, but hey, I wasn’t paying for it, so nothing to lose.

***

This sandwich gets three stars, due to the fact that while it was good, it was small, and didn’t even have the filler (lettuce, tomato, etc.) to make it more substantial a meal. Add to it that the roast beef was actually cold in spots, due to the hasty toasting of the sandwich, and the fact that the commercial makes it look substantially more overwhelming than it turned out to be, the sandwich leaves a good amount to be desired.

Footnote: While I understand that I am again using the argument that a product did not live up to my prior expectations as a gauge by which to judge said product, this case is different from before in the sense that the company itself was inducing false presumptions, and not other noted reviewers.

The Hype Surrounding This Week’s “Trading Spouses”

Click here for general site update.

I’ve never watched Fox’s Trading Spouses. I’ll never watch it again. But I watched it last night, and I’m glad I did. You might’ve seen the ads, “THE BIGGEST REALITY BLOW-UP EVER!!!” or something like that. Considering all of the times that people could remember details of the commercials, but not the product that the commercial advertised, the producers of the TV spots did a great job in that I can’t even remember the tagline of the commercial, but I remember that the show was to be aired Wednesday night at 9pm and was called “Trading Spouses” and some lady was to go crazy.

Trading Spouses
She loves Jesus…and cake. Yep, it’s also “mean week’ at emptybookshelf.com

Actually, Fox had been using the same commercials to advertise the episode for two weeks. If I were reviewing the ad campaign (as opposed to the hype), points would be docked due to the fact that last week’s episode did not contain the lady freaking out. It was similar to when Fox had promised a conclusion to Joe Millionaire but instead broadcast a clip show. To be honest, due to my allegiance to watching professional wrestling (credibility alert!), I’m much more accustomed to unfulfilled televisionary promises than I’d prefer to be. I did not watch or attempt to watch last week’s episode, but after seeing the same intriguing commercials from the week before, this time with even more adamant promises of “THE BIGGEST MELTDOWN EVER!!!” it became required viewing.

To be honest, I actually didn’t even watch the whole thing; I figured that the good part would be towards the end so I flipped to Fox around 9:35. For those of you wondering what the whole reason for her flipping out. In simplest terms, she didn’t like the fact that non-Christians were in her house. You’d think that there was more to it than that, but there really isn’t beyond some context. So, the context: the “traded spouses” were the mothers/wives in, respectively, a very traditional Southern Baptist (I think) family and a New Age family whose mother was a fortune teller. So, sort of, hippies versus the old school. Long story short, the “hippy” mom got along wonderfully with the religious woman’s family, but the religious woman went crazy dealing with the “godless” family. [Sort of in her defense, the dad in the New Age family tried to have discussions with the lady to which she wouldn’t take part in due to his “pushing her buttons.” The swap is over, and the religious lady gets reunited with her family and completely goes bonkers, “explaining” how dirty her house is because the “godless” (repeated about a bajillion times) lady spent time in it; she then tells all of the crew to leave, then decides that it’d be ok if the Christian crew stayed; “Only the ones that believe in Jesus can stay. Everyone else goes.”

She went on to say that anyone who doesn’t believe in Jesus is awful, etc. to which her husband says that Jewish people believe in God, and they’re ok. She says that they’re not, as her family is seen freaking out at her (as opposed to with her). Quite the blowup. I’d say that it pushes Evangelism back decades except for the fact that it’s not exactly a secret that there are wacko religious nutjobs out there (yeah, there are also wacko New Age hippy nutjobs out there too, but the New Age family in this show was portrayed to be and actually were quite reasonable, if not understanding about their “new mommy’s” religious beliefs).

Thumbs up (figuratively, don’t worry we’re not out to violate your trademark, Roger) to Fox for not turning the incident into comedy. There was no clown music playing when she freaked out, no “irreverant” narrator doing joke voices, no silly little animations added to embellish the scene. They even edited it in such a way to portray her as someone with some potential deeper (fixable?) issues, not just a Bible-quoting wacko for the anti-religious crowd to laugh about, saying, “See, I told you they were all crazy.”

****½

The Hype Surrounding This Week’s Episode of Trading Spouses receives four-and-a-half stars due to the fact that it was everything I hoped it could be and more. The ads promised an over-the-top freaking out and boy did it deliver. Even though it helped contribute to the hype, the whole tease-and-don’t-deliver ad campaign remains unforgivable, if not unfortunately expected, so that’s half-a-star off. (Lesser reviewers might take off more than half for that.) So much hype was built up once the first week was revealed as a teaser for the melt-down that it really needed to be dynamic. And it was.

Nate’s Review of Good Night, and Good Luck.

Recently, this Site’s integrity has been challenged. A member of our Junior Staff, though well-intentioned, has violated one of the precepts of reviewing. This review reviews that review, explains its shortcomings, then concludes with an establishment of goals for both The Site and its Junior Staff.

Nate takes aim at the press but hits George Clooney instead.
Nate takes aim at the press but hits George Clooney instead.

Having also seen Good Night and Good Luck., I’m more than adequately qualified to weigh in on the movie’s merits (or lack thereof). But why a review of Nate’s review instead of the movie itself? Nate made the oh-so-common mistake of confusing a movie’s hype with the actual movie itself (this confusion can be found in any reviewable product, not just movies.) It’s not George Clooney’s fault that critics think his movie’s all that and a bag of chips. Nate didn’t separate the hype from the product, and because of that, he gave the movie an unfair review, which casts this Site in an equally unfair light.

What I assume to be Nate’s gripes about the movie, what I called its “superficiality” during our initial discussion of it (before the publishing of Nate’s review), should not be gripes. They should be supporting details, leading to an informed opinion, and therefore, an informed review. Was George Clooney doing something evil when he chose to let the historical actions speak for themselves? Is it wrong to assume that history can and will repeat itself? Even if George Clooney were to consider his movie a parable (I do not believe that it is or is meant to be a parable, just a vaguely cautionary tale.), he’s not the first. If we were to consider this movie to be the thread connecting McCarthyism to the “war on terror,” we must remember that this same thread extends also to the Salem Witch Trials in Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible.” Though “The Crucible” explicitly called back/forward to the HUAC proceedings, it remained a rather superficial examination of a community of fear. Was Arthur Miller only giving Two-and-a-Half stars worth of effort in his famous play, simply because he had the (gasp!) audacity to think to himself, “Gosh, this has happened before, and it’s practically happening again.” Again, though I don’t consider “Good Night, and Good Luck” allegorical, I will say that any “depth” comes solely from the (re)viewers’ minds. If George Clooney were to say, “Gee, I hope that people vote democrat after seeing my movie!” go ahead and spend the effort bashing him (and his movie) because as an allegory, political tool, etc. it fails. It fails miserably.

Because the anti-political crowd (think of “The Daily Show” — soon to be mega-reviewed on this very site) is so large, vocal, and lacking perspective, they’re unaware of the fact that because being against politicians (or claiming that a movie is politically preachy) is just as much a political opinion as hating Hillary Clinton is a political opinion. If they’re looking for “Good Night, and Good Luck” to be a political tool, it will be. It’s been said that human minds better create horror than human eyes. Given the freedom to imagine their personal nightmare as opposed to a finite, real horror, they imagine the worst. George Clooney gives the audience that opportunity: look in the box, and what you see is only what you want to see.

No, it’s not a perfect movie. It does lack depth, it does simply re-create existing history. The actors aren’t so much “acting” as “impersonating.” but despite all of this, it remains intriguing. Metaphorically, I knew McCarthy’s ship would sink, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to watch him scramble for a lifeboat. It is not one of the “best films of the year;” it’s not particularly “important,” no one “needs to see this movie.” But even though other critics are on record saying these things about the movie, George Clooney is not. The movie speaks for itself. It doesn’t say much of value, but certainly more than two-and-a-half stars worth. Nate’s expectations of the critics were not met, not Nate’s expectations of the movie. This is not the fault of the movie or George Clooney. Once the unwarranted, incorrect hyperbole of the critics is cast off, what’s left? A particularly solid, entertaining movie, nothing else. This is not a review of the movie, but a review of Nate’s review. The absolute star ranking of the movie is not important, as its now widely understood that it’s better than the two-and-a-half bitter stars that Nate threw at it. Nate’s review was well-written, had a particularly funny caption for its photo, maintained coherency despite its length, so I will be more fair in my review of his work than his review of Clooney’s.

*½

Due to Nate’s nature as the Site’s Junior-Reviewer -at-Large, we can’t expect perfect, objective reviews. He’s only human. We all are. Should I hold The Site to a higher standard of quality, demanding insight and unbiased objectivity in reviews written by all contributors? Naturally I should (and so should all of the Junior Staff), but until that point arrives, we will use each review as an example in time, a time-capsule of sorts, of each writer’s strengths and weaknesses so that the readership-at-large sees our Junior Reviewers accomplish all of their opinionary goals. What is insight without perspective? What is opinion without foresight? What are sweeping generalizations in the absence of nuance? What is getting on one’s soapbox without a safety net of objectivity? These are the questions for which I know the answers and for which The Site’s readership demand answers. We read on as our Junior staff grabs the first handle in the philosophical jungle-gym that begins the pursuit of their own personal answers to these inquiries. Between the lines of each review we gain a clearer understanding of their answers. Between the lines of each review we see them learning to better tell others what to think. I have utmost confidence in The Site’s Junior Staff’s ability to not only learn from their mistakes, but to rise above them, and truly establish themselves, and therefore, this Site, as a premiere opinion-making entity in the world.

Nate, we’re all rooting for you.