Saturday, February 28, 2015

Tiny Bits of Nonsense: February 2015

Here is the February 2015 edition of "Tiny Bits of Nonsense," featuring 10 of my tweets for the month:
Other bits of nonsense:
Valentine's Day Edition
January 2015
December 2014
Holiday Season Edition
November 2014
Thanksgiving Edition
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014

April 2014
March 2014

An FAQ For "Shahs Of Sunset"

As someone of Persian descent, I feel a strong sense of pride when I watch Shahs of Sunset. Slight shame, too. Perhaps more than slight shame. But also a strong sense of pride.

The cast is comprised entirely of Persians. I'm Persian. It's a bond I share with them. And that's why I support them, even though there are times when they may not portray themselves in the best of lights on the show. (GG, I'm looking at you and your knives.)


I've rooted for Persian celebrities my whole life, because there have been so few of them in U.S. pop culture. They are underdogs in that way. It made it easy for me to pull for Andre Agassi in his matches against Pete Sampras; the Iron Sheik in his title defense against Hulk Hogan; and Alfred Molina's character in Not Without My Daughter.

With the fourth season of Shahs of Sunset premiering Monday night on Bravo, I thought I'd devote some space on this blog to questions about the show I'm often asked by friends.

Are there many Persians in the Los Angeles area, where the show is set?
Yes. The Los Angeles area is home to the largest community of Iranian-Americans in the U.S. More than 500,000 Iranian-Americans live there. 

Why did so many people of Persian descent move to that part of the country?
For the same reason that a person of any other ethnicity would: to live the American dream and pursue a career as a struggling actor/waiter.

Are the cast members of Shahs of Sunset really shahs?
There is no concrete evidence at this time to prove that any of the cast members of Shahs of Sunset are shahs. The last known record of a shah dates back to 1979.

Occasionally the cast members will mix Farsi words into their conversations at random times. Is that typical for English-speaking Persians?
Yes. We are also known to put heavy Farsi accents on English words for no apparent reason. For example, let's say I'd like to see the number-one movie in the country with you. I would ask you, "Vood you like too see Feef-tee Shades of Gah-ray?" There you are: your first Farsi lesson. Now you can say Fifty Shades of Grey like a real Persian.

Is it customary for a white American man to throw a lavish Persian dinner party for his feuding Persian pals to help them resolve their differences? 
Yes. This happens all the time. If anyone can diffuse tension involving Persians, it's an American. The U.S. has a long history of brokering peace with its Iranian friends.


Can you possibly rationalize the release of the following two music videos, titled "Like a Persian" and "Bringing Persian Back"?
No.


Can you grow a mustache like Reza's?
I wish!


How come there are never any cameos by other famous Persians on the show?
Excellent question. The show is mostly based in Beverly Hills. They can't find one A-list Persian star to make an appearance? The biggest celebrity cameo so far has been a member of the Jackson family, who, as best as I can tell, is not Persian. What Shahs of Sunset needs this season is a multi-episode arc by, say, the Iron Sheik. Or Alfred Molina.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

The Problem With: 2015 Oscars Edition

Oscar season ends this Sunday. What a relief. I've had it with this Oscar season. This was the coldest Oscar season I can remember. The temperatures frequently dipped below 20 degrees here. As I write this sentence the windchill is three degrees. Three! How can I be expected to watch and analyze the nominated movies, make my Oscar predictions and complain about the top categories' lack of diversity in this type of weather?

Snow, ice, arctic blasts...we've experienced them all since the Academy announced its nominees in mid-January. Since then, I've basically stayed indoors, curled up underneath several blankets and repeatedly told myself that MTV Movie Awards season is just around the corner. I'm very happy that we're finally closing the curtain on Oscar season.

But before that happens, I'd like to say a word or two or 800 about the nominees. A year ago on this blog I offered critiques of nearly all of the movies in the best picture category for the 2014 Oscars. I'll spare you this time around by highlighting just five of the currently nominated films. I promise not to run too long, but if I start to ramble please feel free to cut me off with orchestral music.

Boyhood
It's fair to say that Boyhood is the front-runner to win the best picture Oscar. It's won a slew of awards over the past two months, in particular for Patricia Arquette's performance as the mother of two kids with a lousy romantic track record. I've watched Bachelorette couples with more stable relationships.

Boyhood was shot over the course of 12 years, but you already knew that. You must have known, because this particular fact is mentioned in every single story about the movie that's been published since its release. I'm exaggerating, but only slightly. A Google search for "Boyhood" and "shot over the course of 12 years" turns up approximately 11,800 results. Richard Linklater should have titled the movie Boyhood (Shot Over The Course Of 12 Years).

Did I just plagiarize the parenthesis joke I made in my Golden Globes monologue just a month ago? I sure did! In my defense, you probably didn't read it the first time.

Perhaps Boyhood deserves to win the Academy's top category, but not, in my opinion, because it was more than a decade in the making. It's not the great accomplishment you might suspect it is. Here's a brief list of other projects that took 12 years to complete:

-Two and a Half Men, the entire series
-Blur's upcoming album
-My studies in elementary school, middle school and high school
-My attempt to watch every episode of Gilmore Girls

Birdman
Birdman poses the biggest threat to Boyhood in the best picture race. It has an ending that's open to interpretation. If you haven't seen the film, I suggest you skip ahead to my notes on The Theory of Everything. Otherwise, read my take on Birdman's final scene below....

Here's what I believe happened: Michael Keaton's character jumped off the window ledge. However, he survives. He dusts himself off and walks the streets of New York alone, barely recognizable after receiving a new nose. Serendipitously, he runs into the only other actor who can understand what he's going through: Nina Sayers, with Natalie Portman reprising her Oscar-winning role from Black Swan. Following an emotional, heartfelt conversation in a coffee shop, they agree to co-star in a brand-new play that will end in the most disturbing way imaginable.

The Theory of Everything
If Michael Keaton does not take the best actor category, Eddie Redmayne will for his breakout role as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything. I hope Redmayne wins, because I'd like for him to star in the "history of Saturday Night Live" movie I created in my head as I watched SNL's 40th anniversary special last weekend.

Redmayne would play Seth Meyers. It's an obvious fit once you browse enough pictures of Redmayne in Google Images. Other casting choices I made: Josh Radnor as Jimmy Fallon, Adam Scott as Colin Jost, Tyler James Williams as Michael Che, and...well, so far I've only cast the male "Weekend Update" anchors after the year 2000.

Selma
The greatest mystery of the Oscar nominations announcement, as far as I'm concerned, was the exclusion of David Oyelowo from the best actor race. He was magnificent as Martin Luther King, Jr. in Selma. He deserves to be recognized for his performance.

But allow me a moment to dwell on one of his co-stars in the film, Stephen Root. Maybe you don't recognize the name. He played Colonel Al Lingo. Still not ringing a bell? Here's another clue: He played Milton in Office Space. Yes, "I believe you have my stapler" Milton.

When I first spotted Root in Selma, I nearly jumped out of my seat and yelled, "It's Milton in the middle of the civil rights movement!" Honestly, I was so distracted every time I saw him in the movie because all I could think of was Milton. I practically begged for Root's character to advise the government to resolve its issues with King by using a "Jump to Conclusions" map.


The LEGO Movie
I haven't a bad word to say about The LEGO Movie. It was my favorite movie of 2014, hands down. Not only should it win best animated feature, it should win best picture, too.

Wait...it's not nominated for best picture? It's not even nominated for best animated feature?? How is that even possible??? Did the Academy even watch it???? It's a fantastic film, and I'd argue it was a greater technical achievement than Boyhood. The LEGO Movie was completed in fewer than 12 years, even though virtually all of the sets and cast members were made of LEGOs. I can't even fathom how much work was poured into assembling all of that. It would take me more than 12 years just to put together the Batwing featured in the movie.

Simply put, everything about The LEGO Movie is awesome.



In case you missed it:

The Problem With: "Back To The Future"
The Problem With: "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving"
The Problem With: "Family Matters"
The Problem With: 2014 Oscars Edition
The Problem With: "The Wonder Years"
 

Friday, February 13, 2015

The Inconvenience Of Snow In The City

Snowfall is rarely a cause for celebration at my age. When I was young, I loved the snow. Loved it. Snow meant sledding. Snow meant snowball fights with the neighborhood kids. And, most importantly, snow meant no school.

At the slightest hint that there might be snow in the forecast, my classmates and I would grow incredibly excited. "Did you hear it might snow tonight?" "Yeah, six inches." "The guy on Channel 4 said nine inches." "Channel 2 said 18 inches!"

I would voluntarily move up my bedtime that night so I could wake up early the next day and tune in to the adult contemporary radio station, hoping to hear the DJ announce that my school was closed for the day. Belinda Carlisle and Rick Astley never sounded as sweet as they did when they followed the news that my school had shut down due to inclement weather.

My perspective on snow has changed since then. Now, I hate the snow. Hate it. Snow means the sidewalks will transform into a slushy mess. Snow means a slower commute. Snow means having to drag myself to work when I'd rather stay home and have snowball fights with the neighborhood kids.

I believe most New Yorkers share my opinion of snow. It's very difficult to deal with snow in the city. You have to shovel it and drive in it in the suburbs? We have to walk several blocks in it and wait several extra minutes for delayed buses and subway trains because of it. It's such a major inconvenience.

I'll tell you who enjoys the snow here: dogs. They're very happy when there's an accumulation of snow on the ground. Why? Because it gives them something new to pee on in public.

You can't walk more than 50 feet in New York City during wintry weather without finding a yellow-ish patch of snow in your path. I honestly believe dogs think to themselves, "The snow is so white and pure. It's the perfect spot to relieve myself."

The dogs will occasionally leave another gift on the snow, if you know what I mean. You'll see it laying on a bump of snow, at its summit. It's as if they'd scaled Mount Kilimanjaro and had to plant a flag to signify their accomplishment.

I'm often asked what the greatest challenge is in living in New York City. I would say it's walking on the sidewalks without avoiding dog waste. Even on a nice day. It's randomly placed, and sometimes well hidden, so it can be hard to detect. You have to pay really close attention. And the anxiety rises at those moments when you realize you're one step away from a pile, and you have to make a last-second leap to avoid contact. It's essentially an elaborate game of hopscotch that can last for dozens of blocks.

In the winter the game becomes even more difficult. Since the weather is more uncomfortable you're inclined to walk faster, but you also have more obstacles to dodge because of the dog-defiled snow. You're constantly sliding left and right and changing direction, like you've been inserted into a real-life version of Frogger, with the timer running out.

This would be a lot less stressful if I could find an adult to drag me around on a sled after a snowstorm. Let him keep an eye out for the urine and feces. But I can't, not like I could when I was a kid. And that's as good a reason as any to hate the snow now.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Tiny Bits of Nonsense: Valentine's Day Edition

It's a special Valentine's Day edition of "Tiny Bits of Nonsense"! Here are some tweets related to my favorite holiday of the year:














Other bits of nonsense:
January 2015
December 2014
Holiday Season Edition
November 2014
Thanksgiving Edition
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014

April 2014
March 2014

Tiny Bits of Nonsense: January 2015

Here is the January 2015 edition of "Tiny Bits of Nonsense," featuring 10 of my tweets for the month:
Other bits of nonsense:
December 2014
Holiday Season Edition
November 2014
Thanksgiving Edition
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014

April 2014
March 2014