Stephen Colbert Has Saved Late Night

The last days of David Letterman’s reign on CBS’s The Late Show were tugging at my heart-strings to say the least.

Letterman had been the last vestige in appointment viewing for me—after decades of staunch viewership. I couldn’t imagine saying goodbye to such a mainstay in my life, and could not fathom late night without him.

No one, not a one touched Letterman’s unique brand of genius. Not the Golden Retriever ‘yes-person’ styling’s of  Jimmy Fallon, not Kimmel, not even Conan’s brilliance (*and he has comic genius in spades). And don’t get me started on Leno’s paint-by-numbers, mind-numbing nightly phone in.

Stephen Colbert had enormous shoes to fill, and he stepped into that time slot + the iconic Ed Sullivan theatre, and absolutely made it his OWN.

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He has reinvigorated late night with an incredible VARIETY of guests, the latticework of his myriad talents—song + dance chops, he’s an ordained minister?! and comedic timing that is HEAD and SHOULDERS above anyone currently breathing on this planet. My brain feels like its been folded into intricate origami shapes after I watch each show, and that is a VERY good thing! He has disrupted the oh so lazy paradigm and rigmarole of late night guests—*bland celebrities, one after the other plugging their movies (wash, rinse, repeat) and turned it on its head.

His guests are changemakers, tastemakers, mavericks of science, politicians, tech giants, authors, dancers—and the ‘celebrities’ that he does feature, are the Rhodes Scholar stars of their field!

Even his band has brought something fresh and new to the late night stage. Band leader Jean Baptiste and Stay Human have a distinctive New Orleans sound and vibe (Ragtime, Dixieland, Jazz, Soul +++) and his musical guest choices are also out-of-the-box novelties. Sometimes its an on stage hodgepodge collaboration, as was the inaugural episode featuring Mavis Staples, my absolute favorites Alabama Shakes, Beirut and Buddy Guy. Sometimes its Stephen Colbert joining in as in the aforementioned, and most recently in a duet with Tenacious D’s lead singer (and actor) Jack Black. Last night’s performance by Judith Hill just slayed on every level.

 

My only complaint, the one caveat here—is Jon Batiste’s jaunty usage of that Piano Kazoo?

Piano Kazou

No one plays the ‘Triangle’ in an ADULT band, and no-one plays a Piano Kazoo. I have no idea what is its really called but it’s not doing anyone any favors and needs to go. Its freaking me out.

To sum up, Stephen Colbert and his coterie of writers, producers, musicians, and even his set designers have saved late night, and in effect saved us all from ourselves. I know, HEAVY stuffs.

To bringing Intelligenza back, (*to me THAT is SEXY)

XOXO,

Goodbye GIRL(S)…

Girls-Recap-Season-4-HBO-Lena-Dunham-636x423

So last we sexted, I had given Season 3 of HBO’s GIRLS a rather severe ultimatum—‘shape up in Season 4’—like full body SPANX styles, or I am done with you forever. *I watch every season in bulk marathon styles, and this is why this write up is late. 

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Mere minutes into the premiere episode, and witnessing the absolute GLOSS OVER and sweeping-under-the-rug of season 3’s assisted suicide cliff hanger—and the tone for my immediate disappointment was immediately set.

This could have been an incredible, multi-dimensional story arc to continue into season 4. Instead all Jessa gets is a brief lashing from Beadie’s daughter (played by Natasha Lyonne–who I personally can’t stomach), some good-bye ‘hugs & kisses’ from Beadie and this story line is suddenly now dry cleaned and tied up in a neat bow?

To simply absolve Jessa of any wrong doing was lazy & irresponsible? As if to say (without saying ANYTHING) that this, THIS experience has now resolved Jessa of all her crazy cakes antics, without showing the fall out, or after math of that very HEAVY scene? While I hate referencing anything to do with math equations; ummmm Lena DunhamSHOW. YOUR. WORK? This felt like Patrick Duffy waking up from a dream sequence in the shower on Dallas—a Huge Rip Off!

Millennial Morass

If Dunham’s depiction of millennial apathy is even remotely accurate, this is one &%#ed up generation, that I’m glad I missed by a couple of hairs. Ok…a WHOLE HEAD OF HAIR. OK, fyyyyyne…. just call me Rapunzel-years-old.

Holy F**k Tarts, these kids are fickle and flighty!?

Hannah can’t take constructive criticism? How else does one LEARN?

Hannah, DROPS out of Grad school seemingly after 2 classes because her work is being challenged? What an entitled brat?! I’m all about free will and the ability to change ones mind, but she adored her writing, and she just dropped out at the first inference of defeat? Is this generation THAT lazy? Where is the resilience?

I’ve been a writer for well over fifteen years and I still have to fight for my work. I still study and attempt to improve my craft by wrapping my brain around anything & everything that will enrich my writing. I wish I could go back to school for a Masters degree? She had the greatest opportunity in the palm of her hand, and because it challenged and provoked her writing style she simply gave up? What a waste.

So, then she gets back to Brooklyn and she gets to be a substitute high school teacher? Is it really that easy to do with an undergrad degree?  Hannah, was usually the voice of reason in the group, and she MUST have known that socializing with a teenage student was boundary incendiary? Even if the teen was played by Maude Apatow, (who is showing signs of becoming a great little actress) this was unacceptable behaviour?!

Also Jessa ‘deciding’ she now wants to be a therapist because she talked Adam’s bat s**t cray sister out of having an unsupervised home water birth, albeit barely?

Jessa, a f**cked up mess like yourself, and yes…you are messier than ever…does not just segue into becoming a therapist just like that? It takes work. It takes years of schooling. It takes dedication. It takes a conscious. She shows major signs of sociopathic behavior—lack of empathy for one. Good luck on that therapist tangent. It ain’t  gonna happen for ya kid.

Why do these GIRLS think career choices are like a game of darts? I blame reality music competition shows where unknowns become stars OVERNIGHT. Yes, this is the nexus for all millennial laziness.

Mean Girls Redux

I have never seen women act worse to each other? They’re not friends? They’re out for each others blood? Female friendships can absolutely be ‘complicated’ but these gals are outright hateful towards each other?

Jessa fixes up her new friend ‘Mimi-Rose’ with Hannah’s barely ex boyfriend Adam? Who does that? No-one does that? Her pathetic reasoning was that she wanted to date the guy that Mimi-Rose was with previously, and wanted her away from him? And she is barely apologetic? Feels justified even? Outrageous?

...With Friends Like These

…With Friends Like These

As I wrote in my Season 3 post why are these four women even friends? Where is the connective tissue? It was all but obliterated in season 4 for me. They all seem out for themselves and barely supportive. And Elijah as the token gay bestie, is also annoying as hell. His ‘Burnt Sienna’ rouge and heavy eye liner is way too distracting.

And Ray? How did the show’s most insufferable character turn out to be the most likable this season? His whole running for community board seat and possibly mayor is implausible to take seriously.  He can take his impressive vocabulary and witticisms and be gone as far as I’m concerned.

Oh please.

Also one would have to deduce that Ray is a secret serial killer, as people seem to go missing (or die) after he has words with them. Season 3 showed Hannah’s editor go missing and eventually ended up dead (with no explanation) after Ray had his fist fight with him. And in season four we are left wondering why Desi does not show up for his and Marnie’s showcase after Ray finished lambasting him the day prior?

As per Shoshana, I’ve had my absolute fill of her sing-songy, twee, complainy-recitals. It’s no longer charming. Also I feel a less than zero connection with her new love interest and it feels more like a ‘just-add-water-relationship’ than anything with an actual heart and soul.

I did like the whole Lean In/Female Empowerment story line, with her deciding to take her new job in Tokyo, despite being begged by her boyfriend not to. And let’s face it, she will be a riot to watch as she incorporates Hirajuku fashion into her clothing and hairstyles.

But no I am done. I even removed Lena Dunham from my Twitter, I was THAT disappointed. She has all the resources in the world, Judd Apatow as consult, and she’s gotten it wrong back to back from season 3 to 4. I have no more time to invest. Unless season 5 comes *free* in a new box of Jessica Alba organic tampons, I don’t plan on watching it ever again.

Also Adam Driver should get out of his contract before Season 6 (the supposed finale season.) He is way too talented to get dragged down in this disjointed fiasco of a series—despite it being where we discovered him. He’s paid his dues, now fly raven, FLY!

So much potential squandered,

Thanks for reading friendsicles!

XOXO

Logo-colo-small (2)j

*Update* I’ve started following Lena Dunham back on Twitter ’cause I missed her soooo. Still done with the show ‘tho.

Lena We Have a Problem; Why Season 4 of GIRLS Could be my Last.

I‘m not here to mince words or my online sense of entitled arm-chair criticism—so here goes…

I thought Season 3 of GIRLS was terrible.

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Yes, the show that I dripped candle wax poetry about as being the most authentic show on television felt in several cases criminally unrealistic .

I know I’m severely late on the feedback portion of this dialogue. I only watched season 3 recently in bulk/marathon styles and I realise Lena et al are KNEE-DEEP in creating Season 4—but this all still needs to be said. 

Where to begin?

Let’s talk about these four RANDOM main characters who seem to have zero roots or depth to their friendship? I no longer see the connection between any of these ladies, whatsoever? I liked the former story line of how Marnie + Hannah were drifting apart—I thought that was authentic—and yet she is brought back into Hannah’s fray as if either of them need each other?

They DON’T!

Also who is JESSA? No really, besides having zero boundaries and dirt poor impulse control, who is this PERSON?!

The only thing about her that I can relate to is that we all have that sexual exhibitionist female friend who loves to lay on guys, on girls, loves to just cozy up seemingly anywhere, and has no hang ups with their own body or sense of personal space. That being said…the character she plays become has become full-on caricature. Some of the story arcs were preposterous? Her job at the children’s clothing store? The way she slacked off and harassed the customers into pressure buying, if and when she was paying attention? The long-lost friend who feigned her own death to get rid of her? Absurd?! 

No We Can’t Jessa?!

Jessa is Harem-Scarem-reckless—and I still don’t quite know why she is like this, besides the fact she had an absent father?

Her stay in ‘rehab’ seemed to be a full on parody. The other ‘patients’ were all cookie-cutter sitcom paradigms. Was it REALLY necessary for her to go down on her female rehab mate? Was that GIRLS answer to diversity? 

Why were there no repercussions/discussions between her and Hannah on her return? Sure, she doesn’t ask much from Hannah, but where is the culpability? Where is the connective tissue? Why are these two women FRIENDS? TELL ME? I’m. Dying. To. Know.

Your early 20’s is when your female friendships are at an all time enmeshment. These gals are acting all mid-30’s and shit—when you take on friends that conveniently fit into your adult schedule, like mommy/baby-group friends, or chicks you do pilates with.

I ‘get’ that Hannah is somewhat of a door mat in the friendship space, but please tell me, why any of these four characters are still sharing a communal sense of reciprocal oxygen?

You had a chance to have all four of them have at it, so to speak. To have them examine the after-math of the drunken lashings that were handed out the night before at the beach-house in North Fork.

…And yet, you glossed over it the next morning. With some more choreography. It breathed of LAZY.

Character Studies

Let’s talk Shoshanna?

Shoshanna's Braided Mullet

Shoshanna’s Braided Mullet

Her sing-song neurotic timbre at first was charming. But really, no-one past eleven talks that way. No-one.

Also its clear she has never had an orgasm during sex, as she is never truly in her body nor present during her sex scenes.

I think a great story arc for Shoshanna, would be to be introduced to a variety of personal ‘appliances‘ if you catch my drift. There are myriad sure-fire methods that someone like Shoshanna needsPerhaps her vocal hysterics will abate? Actually, I think it would be a great ‘excuse’ and/or panacea for her to calm the eff down.

Also clearly the girl has some skillz in the hair dept? She should go to beauty school and start working at a salon. Her jibber-jabber is perfect for the salon set. Also hair dryers can drown her out. Next!                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Ray has got-to-go.

Ray...You are the weakest link...GOODBYE!

Ray…You are the weakest link…GOODBYE!

No really. He no longer belongs here. He looks about 43 and he is utterly joyless.

This is not *F*R*I*E*N*D*S—he is not resigned to playing the resident GUNTHER at the coffee shop that none of the characters have any reason to visitHis story arc has reached its apogee. It can be a work-related Java accident!

*Also he may have murdered Hannah’s boss (another story arc that was disjointed + left me with a hundred questions) after they got into that weird bar fight. Yes, he must be eradicated.

Last complaint. Correct me if I am wrong. But I recall what felt like an earnest former quote of yours dear Lena, to keep the guest stars or celebrities to a minimum—like the way I make everyone promise me there will be no math? I believe this was a promise of yours fairly early on, to give lessor known actors a chance. Season 3 was overflowing with celebrity spots? The ones that were incredible were Richard E Grant who played Jaspar the manic codependent accomplice to Jessa’s drug-addled spiral. And while it’s implausible to picture Gaby Hoffman as anything but the adorable kid from Uncle Buck—her role as Adam’s crazy-cakes sister ‘Caroline’ was fun to watch—even if her character is better-suited for the Groundlings stage.   

Caroline's Seduction Dance...

Caroline’s Seduction Dance…

Perhaps I’m being to harsh and these aren’t exactly A-list celebrities that you are casting. Also it needs to be said that Gaby Hoffman had a pretty difficult year in 2013 so giving an old friend a gig was really commendable. I don’t see why you needed to cast Amy Schumer in the first episode—she has her own hit show, and that Felicity Jones intervention story-line was unwatchable. Was she wearing a set of rabbit-teeth?

Also Rita Wilson? Here’s a question…what for?

***

The good news here is that both Hannah’s + Adam’s characters are still the paste that keeps the papier-mâché of GIRLS all artsy-craftsy. In other words…I like what you’ve done with the place.

Both Characters Were True to Themselves...

Both Characters Were True to Themselves…

And even though I would never befriend anyone like perfect-patty-controlling Marnie in real-life, I think you’ve given her character tons of great scenarios to chew on in Season 3. I did feel ever so slightly ripped off that she was abandoned by her ex in a story arc that we never got to see? Surely we deserved a soft-focus flash black sequence at the very minimum?  

For season 4, I foresee that dreamy Desi and Marnie are going to finally get together. She will fall madly and deeply in love with him. She’s going to change the way she dresses and talks, and turn her whole life around to accommodate his ‘busy actor’ schedule. She is going to lose herself in him and bore (new!) friends by talking incessantly about how “talented he is“.

Desi’s Piercing Eyes…

He’s going to teach her about music and literature and they’re going to have crazy Tantric Sex and then he’ll eventually turn on her, tell her she doesn’t understand/respect his “art,” go back to his ex and Marnie will be forever ruined. Its going to be fantastic!

The best teeth in the biz!

The best teeth in the biz!

*As a side-bar; where can I procure a set of actress Allison Williams fine dental-ware? They are like perfect tiny stucco buildings. Please don’t tell me they are natural? That is sooooo something Marnie would say.

And after all is said and done, the final story arc that Jessa was involved in with that older artist was gripping. It almost made up for the first nine episodes. I am curious to see how that all plays out.

To that end, it goes without saying that I can’t even imagine how difficult it is to write, produce and star in your own show Lena? So please don’t take any of this personally. I just hope that Season 4 ties up these loose ends and adds that initial spark of reality back that made GIRLS shine so bright. These characters aren’t all bound to one another. This is HBO, not a confined sitcom space where all characters must remain together, forever? Go rogue like that Game of Thrones director. At the very least, introduce some new female friends? This is not a foursome that makes any sense, any longer.

I heart Hannah Horvath...

I heart Hannah Horvath…

I have faith Lena Dunham,          

XOXO                                                                                                                                                                                                                         The Pop Culture Rainman

 

When a Celebrity Retweets You; The Lena Dunham Effect

I rarely follow ‘celebrities‘ on Twitter.

I recently stopped following Oprah—and not because I don’t love + adore the ground she walks on, but because there’s something about following someone THAT famous via social media that feels like fawning adulation bordering on idolatry. I’m also not about hinging on the bon mots of those who may or may not even write their own tweets.

In fact, it could be said that I mainly follow writers + comedians. The few musicians I follow return the favor—barring Prince, and that’s perfectly acceptable…because, uhm…Hullllooooo it’s P-R-I-N-C-E?!

Others are a confetti of humans that I actually know, humans I’d like to know, or brands I admire—and ‘yes’ Grumpy Cat is a BRAND thankewww!

I also follow a host of illuminated thinkers, teachers and healers on Twitter of whom, it could be argued, are ‘celebrities‘—but in my minds eye are simply people who possess the kind of brain space that I’d simply like to bathe in.

One of them is Lena Dunham. Actress, Writer, Filmmaker, Creator and Producer of the HBO series GIRLS.

What truly draws me to her is her pursuit of authenticity—warts and all. Anyone who risks exposing their vulnerabilities for the sake of their art automatically wins a parking spot in my heart.

She’s brilliantly funny, possesses a wicked vocabulary from which I steal word-play from on the regular, and she shines an exceptionally accurate light on the inner crazies of females.

***

So last week Dave Letterman announced his forthcoming retirement from CBS in 2015.  After a healthy marathon cry and some Toll House cookies, I saw that Lena Dunham had made mention about it—specifically something about how she would miss his “gorgeous tooth scenario/general brilliance.”

I was so happy to hear her say this (and not at all surprised!) as just a month prior, a very popular 20-something Toronto blogger made a comment questioning the relevancy of Letterman.

How is David Letterman still even a thing?“—20-something blogger

I almost *fainted* at the mere sight of such a clearly ageist remark?It made me sad to think that said bloggers harem of 30k followers might think the same. Heaven forbid someone is not on a 30 under 30 list and it’s as if they cease to exist in this culture?!

Letterman is an intellectual and comedy LINEBACKER,” I lambasted her. “He’s an icon who paved the way for the Conan’s…your Kimmel’s and Fallon’s!!!”

Big Deep Breath.

So back to Lena. I had written her back expressing my appreciation for someone of her stature giving a kind nod to someone as timeless as Letterman and gave her some back story on my horror re: the influential blogger scenario.

Not that I should make Dunham feel responsible for the misgivings of her 20-something half-baked peers. She’s far from your typical young woman in every sense of the word.

Dunham was going to Lilith Fair as pre-tween with her mom, writing scripts and making films before she could vote. She has admitted that she had never actually been clubbing before she shot that infamous cocaine/switcheroo top scene in season two of GIRLS, and her idea of vacationing is reading the translated versions of Madame Bovary in a well shaded area. She’s kind of like in her early 60’s when you think about it?

And then I sent her this…

… and to my absolute pleasure she retweeted it. Even though it was a part deux to what I had previously sent her—my disjointed comment got a retweet!

The Lena Dunham Effect 

My Comment Retweeted by Lena Dunham

My Comment Retweeted by Lena Dunham

I don’t write to Lena often—but when I have, she has often been kind enough to either respond or favorite a comment. For the record, Lena does not follow me and we have never met.

So she retweeted me and almost immediately I started getting new followers. It was fantastic! This was a bona fide Twitter windfall as a retweet from Lena Dunham is the ultimate cool factor endorsement! I was already up to 10 new followers! I think maybe her 1.51 million followers think the she and I are friends! AWESOME! 10 more followers, and I’m being retweeted and favorited all up this mutha!

I began to wonder if celebrities are even aware of how their retweeting influence impacts their retweetee’s or if they simply do it by rote, like everyone else? It dawned on me that the entire phenomenon would make an incredibly fascinating if not short-lived reality series.

After receiving 30 shiny brand new followers I began to feel guilty like I should write a thank you note, or send one of those edible fruit baskets?

Thanks Lena!

Thanks Lena!

I was purposely riding this wave by not tweeting anything new, waiting to see how long I could squeeze this fortunate series of events for all it was worth while trying to play it cool. Like, ‘yea…people like Lena Dunham retweet’s me all the time…so what?’ I didn’t want to write a public thanks because I didn’t want to be seen as a slushy fan to her followers and I didn’t want her to think I’m a starstruck nerd whose using her for follows? In fact I noticed how other plebes were almost using my retweet and or my statement as a piggy back of sorts to get themselves noticed.

It felt ugly.

I caved about an hour later and inked a tweet saying thanks to Lena and attached the actual photo of the retweet as seen above. Eventually she removed my comment from her page, as it was possibly annoying the fuck out of her how many people were commenting on it, or she got turned off by my inability to not draw attention to it. Perhaps there was no thought placed into the removal at all and I have suckled on the teats of Lena Dunham and milked this incident for all it is worth and should really just move on.

No, I’m not yet the Twitelebrity that I’m destined to become, but this was a lovely lil’ feather in my cap! Final tally was around 40 of which half have deserted my ass after realising that I am not in fact part of Lena’s inner circle.

XOXO                                                                                                                                                                                                             The Pop Culture Rainman

Prince on Fox’s New Girl Feb 2nd-Right After the Super Bowl!

As a lifelong Prince devotee–someone who has seen him in concert four times, pulled on stage with him thrice, and scours the net for any semblance that he may tour soon in a time zone near moi,—when word got ’round that ***PRINCE*** was going to appear on Fox’s New Girl magic bubbles started to pop in my brain!

*Yes, I realise that was the looooongest sentence ever!

Apparently his royal purpleness has been a longtime fan of the show, and it was HIS idea to appear in an episode when the timing presented itself.  Fast forward to this Sunday after a little ‘ol telecast known as the SUPER BOWL, a special airing of New Girl will feature the Prince episode! Check out the hilarious promo where Jess and Nick meet Prince for the first time. I’m particularly impressed by actor Jake Johnson’s unique choice in acting ‘star struck.’ It’s one of the funniest reactions I’ve ever seen–and totally apropos I might add!

I will write a review after the show→so stay tuned to this same space lovah heads!

UPDATE: This won’t be a long and drawn out analysis of the show as there wasn’t much to dig into all around. But I do have a couple of thoughts. While I rarely watch TV (I’m of the mind that a lot of it is mind rot)—watching any kind of sitcom is even more of a rarity for me

This was the first time I had ever watched New Girl and it was adorable just like Zooey Deschanel herself, but I’d forgotten how limited sitcoms are in terms of time constraints. 30 minutes for an entire story arc, interrupted by at least two commercials, does not invite a whole ‘lotta depth! I’ve been so spoiled by the 1-hour offerings from HBO, Netflix et al…that I’d all but forgotten about the 30-minute format! But all in all, I found it sweet and fun, and I really enjoyed the ensemble cast. I really liked that it was a mixed group of actors from all backgrounds—nice to see, and I suspect Prince liked that aspect as well. As for his part, he didn’t have tons of lines to chew on, but what can I say, he did a GREAT job playing himself! Anything he does I marvel at, but I particularly enjoyed the part when Prince and Zooey’s character follow a butterfly that lands (on command!) on Prince’s shoulder. Here is the still shot on site, minus the butterfly as it was obviously put in, in post-production.

Prince & Zooey Pretending to See a Butterfly...

Prince & Zooey Pretending to See a Butterfly…

The reason this touched me so much is because weeks before my mother passed away, when she found out the Cancer had spread to her brain, she said G-d is a Butterfly.”  In the wake of her death whenever I see one or any facsimile thereof; it reminds me of her and makes me feel close to her. My mother knew how much I love Prince, so watching that butterfly land on his shoulder (and also shown in the closing scene) was extra special and poignant for me.

XOXO                                                                                                                                                                                                         The Pop Culture Rainman