I dare you to listen to this song and NOT be in a good mood! I take a dance class a few times a week and this jam was the soundtrack to not one but two classes. Nothing like a little Robin Thicke to make you question your blue-eyed soul fidelity to Justin Timberlake.
I recently sat down with Eli Roth, Nicholas Lopez, Lorenza Izzo and Andrea Osvart to chat dance moves and natural disasters for the upcoming flick “Aftershock.” Set in the sexy seaside town of Valparaiso, Chile, the thriller follows a group of semi-strangers on a wild night of partying that’s interrupted by the forces of Mother Nature, something as an Angeleno, I know a little too well. For more, head over to Shock Till You Drop.
In elementary school, every year on Earth Day one of the 6th grade teachers – we’ll call her “Mrs. H” – would bring out her acoustic guitar, don a t-shirt with a cartoon planet Earth on it and lead an assembly of grade schoolers in singing John Denver’s “Earth Day Every Day.” Looking back, it was a little more Barney sing-a-long than “Lesbian Seagull” song circle, but she was definitely the school’s Mr. Van Driessen. It’s a cheesy childhood memory but decades later I a) still remember that song, and b) understand Mrs. H’s intention with it a little better now that I surf.
Some would call surfing a religious experience and if not religious, then at least a spiritual one. Father Christian Mondor seems to agree. He’s an 88-year-old Franciscan priest who picked up the sport at age 70 and through it sees the intersection of God and water. Whatever your faith, this story is moving for anyone who has experienced the natural wonders of our little blue planet, and also for anyone who has thought it’s “too late” to learn how to surf (it isn’t). Given the events of the past week, Earth Day is happening at a juncture when we can all appreciate that we are part of something bigger (yes, planet Earth) and at times inexplicable. Check out the story of the surfing priest here.
2002′s Better Luck Tomorrow made a bit of a splash when it was released over a decade ago. The story surrounds a group of seemingly straight-laced Asian-American high school students who descend into a world of cheating, drug-dealing and murder. In Hollywood terms, the roles were markedly “against type”; in plain terms, it meant movie-goers finally got to see some Asian-Americans who weren’t playing kung-fu fighters, dragon ladies, ninjas and/or asexual IT assistants. And for Hollywood, that’s pretty bold.
The pop culture world will remember many things about Roger Ebert: his words, the impact his thumb had on the box office, the erudite and witty way he talked about films good and bad. I grew up watching Siskel & Ebert, not always interested in every movie the two talked about but always impressed by their banter, their back-and-forth; always envious that they got to see movies before everybody else did.
When BLT debuted at Sundance, the audience no doubt took note of the film’s provocative cast of characters and subject matter, with one member asking the director and stars how they could represent Asian-Americans in such a way? And it’s what Roger Ebert did in response that made for a pretty epic moment for minority filmmakers and actors, Asian or not. Leaping from his seat, he rebutted, “What I find very offensive and condescending about your statement is nobody would say to a bunch of white filmmakers, ‘How could you do this to your people?’ This film has the right to be about these people, and Asian-American characters have a right to be whoever the hell they want to be. They do not have to ‘represent their people.’ ” How refreshing and necessary that the most powerful voice in film criticism and film journalism lent some of his to these filmmakers and actors, only to, ironically, lose his own later in life.
I hope that with Roger Ebert’s passing, we haven’t lost the discourse necessary not only in the film world but also in TV and pop culture generally; progressive discourse that is sometimes belied and undermined by Hollywood’s tendencies to play it safe, play into stereotypes and play right into – not against – type. How far we have come since Better Luck Tomorrow is up for debate, but it’s nice to remember how Ebert contributed to that conversation.
How did it take me this long to start watching this? Lady pro surfer/Sports Illustrated model Alana Blanchard kicked off the the second season of her web series, “Alana: Surfer Girl,” last month on action sports network, Network A. Each webisode is like a visual mini-vacation to world-class surfing spots and the kind of wave-riding I wish I could do. In the latest one, the Kauai native surfs alongside – who else? – Kelly Slater. Check out the video below.
I recently guested on the 10 Reasons Why podcast, weighing in on ten reasons why people seem to “hate” Anne Hathaway. In the past few months, self-proclaimed Hathahaters have taken to the web (where else?) to express their disdain for the Oscar winner’s allegedly cloying personality and what has been interpreted as contrived humility. Also, people just love to hate. Just ask Taylor Swift.
But in contrast to Hathaway and Swift are Hollywood’s, well, not sweethearts but perhaps its BFFs, including Jennifer Lawrence for her off-the-cuff candidness and Mila Kunis for breaking out of rote soundbites during the press tour for Oz the Great and Powerful. Amy Poehler and Tina Fey doing pretty much anything. Women who are equal parts guy’s gal and woman’s woman, who won’t hesitate to name their favorite beer, don’t seem to take their “craft” too seriously or self-importantly, and probably wouldn’t refer to their work as a “craft” anyway.
So, what are the aforementioned ladies getting right that others like Hathaway or Swift seem to be getting wrong? After all, the Hollywood likeability game is a tough one to win at, the grasp of its trophy always hung onto tenuously by the victor. The court of public opinion (and Tumblr blogs) can be vicious and fickle. And sometimes, a “win” isn’t even clear: Girls series creator and star Lena Dunham is as much revered for her work and writing, as she is attacked forgoing sans clothing on her show.
What makes a female celebrity likeable and does it influence whether you buy an album, go check out her movie or DVR her TV show? Weigh in. Also, check me out guest hosting on the 10 Reasons Why show, video below. Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes here and follow on Twitter here.
They laughed, they cried, they got really uncomfortable about Ted’s jokes. Last night’s Oscars ceremony was, perhaps, one of the more memorable ones in recent years and Seth MacFarlane surely one of the most polarizing hosts to take the stage. Here’s the thing about being the Oscars host: it’s not a job you can ever really “win” at. You are basically set up to fail from the start. It’s the biggest night for the world’s most glamorous industry, where its most notable power players assemble in one giant room and you have to stand up there, sing, dance and entertain-slash-rib some of the most thin-skinned but talented people on the planet while keeping the viewers at home happy, many of whom can’t wait to weigh in on the snark-a-thon. Calling it “not an easy job” is an understatement. So bravo to anyone who is crazy enough to take it in the first place.
Despite its marathon telecast, there were still quite a few standout moments (and dresses, if you’re into that kind of stuff, ahem). Below, a few of my personal favorites:
The Prometheus joke. Before he sent the show to break, MacFarlane’s promise that the cast of Prometheus would be up to “explain what the hell was going on there,” made me feel as though he had crawled into my mindspace and done some extraction. My mind from last year about halfway through Prometheus, but still. I’m glad SOMEONE finally brought it up and, hey, why not at the Oscars of all places?
Jennifer Lawrence’s epic faceplant. If there’s anyone who could make totally eating it on her way to collect a Best Actress award, it’s Jennifer Lawrence. Her remarkably self-effacing nature came through last night, hazardous haute couture notwithstanding. And next time, someone please tell her if Hugh Jackman is rushing to your side to help you up, you STAY DOWN UNTIL HE STARTS GIVING YOU CPR.
Ben Affleck’s acceptance speech. I loved Argo. I hated that Affleck didn’t get a Best Director nod. I loved that the movie won Best Picture and that Affleck, more or less, got to give his would-be Best Director speech anyway. Especially poignant was when he acknowledged that to succeed in Hollywood (although I think it can be applied more broadly to just life), “you have to work harder than you think you possibly can. You can’t hold grudges… and that all that matters is you gotta get up.” Which he would definitely know about because he starred in Gigli.