Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Embellishment Versus Lying: Stolen Valor and the Brilliance of Aaron Sorkin




Aaron Sorkin is not only a genius writer but apparently a fortune teller. For all lovers of the "Newsroom" you know the fallout of telling lies or embellishing when it comes to the news. Even in a fictional world it is not something you overcome easily or quickly. When it comes to trusting those who provide us with facts about the world, we cannot write off a flagrant mistake as "better luck next time." If you want that, then read internet news and bloggers. We have no checks and balances and can say whatever we want. I also don't bring home well into eight figures.

Brian Williams has come up with a doozy of excuses as have his counterparts at NBC. This is a full breakdown in the news, make no mistake. Not only did Brian Williams lie but a series of people let him tell that lie, knowing it was in fact a lie. This isn't the "Newsroom" where one man knew the truth and kept it a secret. A series of cameramen and producers tried to bring it to the attention of the higher ups and they said, "aw, it's close enough to the truth." That is unacceptable.  I am tired of the people making excuses for his behavior. I am really disgusted by his half-hearted apology where he never admits to actually lying but rather "misremembering" facts.



I can tell you it has been decades since a car accident I was in. I remember every detail of it like it was yesterday. You better believe if I was in a helicopter hit by an RPG or behind a helicopter hit by an RPG I would remember every second of it as would he. You don't misremember that. You misremember a birthday. You misremember a funny story. You misremember a name. You LIE about being on a helicopter you weren't on to look cool.

If he were in the military he would be court marshaled for stolen valor. That says a lot. A lot about what it means to be in service for this country and a lot about honor and even more about lying. We all tell interesting stories where we amp up the dialogue (to try and be more like Mr. Sorkin) and where people are a little more daft and a little more witty. But you cannot be the authority on topics around the world and tell large numbers of people you were personally shot at when you weren't. You are held to a different standard because you are revered by a different standard.

Brian Williams enjoys many perks from his job. He gets to go places he otherwise wouldn't get to go. He makes a small fortune for telling "facts." He enjoys the ability to delve into topics the rest of us might just be curious about and meet the real players in the world. Heck, he is a real player in the world. He can help shape the conversation. His choice, and it was a choice, to lie makes him untrustworthy.

I am all about redemption. I am all about people owning up to their mistakes. But lying is not a mistake. Lying is a choice. A mistake is finding out your research was flawed and having to straighten out the facts. Lying is telling people things about you that are not true and you know they aren't true. Yes, people deserve second chances, but he is not 23 trying to increase his stature. He has the stature. He is a grown-up who knows better. Yes, you can tell interesting stories on the news, but at the end of the day they must be true. They must be as accurate as you can make them.



I don't think Brian Williams deserves the desk he sits at. I think he needs a big, long time out and then maybe he could write a book or two. The truth is we aren't taking away his livelihood. He is not a regular employee who will not be able to support himself anymore. He has plenty. He may not have as much as he once hoped but he won't be homeless and he can book another gig. Maybe he can even start a website, then he can tell all the stories he likes.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Super Bowl Delay, a Successful “How I Met Your Mother” Moment

-->

I am a huge football fan. I must admit that I lean a bit more toward college ball, but I gather with my friends almost every Sunday to watch games. It is really about the bad jokes, Frank Gore’s Penis, F**** Julius and a variety of inappropriate jokes that makes it fun. My life turned into an the Super Bowl episode of “How I Met Your Mother” when they had to wait to watch the Super Bowl recorded.

My husband was called into work the night before so he wasn’t going to be awake in time to watch the game. In addition, my best friend Carrie was in from North Carolina. Carrie and I mesh on many levels, my love of sports is not one of them. With limited girl time, I couldn’t bail early to watch a football game in which none of my teams were even playing. That being said, why did I care about the Super Bowl? If I wasn’t going to be at the party, it couldn’t matter; yet somehow it did.

I told myself I didn’t care, no big deal. I hate the Sea-Thugs anyway. When my husband suggested we Tivo the game and watch it later I was fine with it. Honestly I figured I would see something and just pretend I didn’t…it’s just a little white lie, right? Chris saw the look on my face and called my lie before the lie. He challenged me to not see anything. It was like the grown-up version of a double-dog dare. Challenge accepted.

  

My first order of business was to call Craig, the only Patriots fan amongst those at my usual football party spot. No calls or texts during the game as I was on delay. That took care of a big part of the potential problem; it also got me laughed at, but that’s beside the point. It’s easy enough not to sign into Facebook, Instagram or things like that during the game, besides I was with Carrie.

We tooled around Los Angeles, I averted my eyes from the TV whenever there was one. You don’t realize just how many TVs are around until you are trying not to watch them. I turned my phone to “hide” so text messages merely came on the home screen as whom they were from, no hint as to what the sender had typed.

For dinner, we chose a sushi place. Japanese should be safe, right? Wrong... TVs lined the one wall and then two were over the bar. Lucky for me the distance made it so I would have to really focus to see the score and I managed to listen quite intently to everything Carrie had to say so as not to hear anything. By the way, also shocking. Places that play football all season don’t put the sound up, but Super Bowl Sunday, it is blaring everywhere!

Said my good-byes to Carrie and started on my way home. I went to turn on the radio and realized that was a very bad idea. Silence in the car, I don’t think I have experienced this ever. No radio, no phone just driving. I lived, barely. Left to my own devices my road rage can get a bit out of control. But there was no traffic, so the general public was safe.

The next challenge was turning on the TV and not seeing who had won. The new menu on Tivo is cool, but it shows the current image in a small window next to the list of programs. So while I could mute it or pause it, I was still going to see a little picture in the corner that may just give it away. Solution: squinch up your eyes super tight. Just enough to make out the list and enough to see what program is highlighted. Success…we started the Super Bowl and knew nothing.

Then the phone started buzzing. I glanced down and saw it was from my brother. I quickly picked up Chris’s phone, texted my brother from there to say I wasn’t reading his text because I didn’t know who won yet. Tragedy averted.
 
We did it, we made it through the whole game without any information. We experienced it as everyone else did and were equally shocked by the ending. It was actually quite nice to live in a little bubble. To be a small party of two with our own little reality for a short time. Honestly, I don’t think we could have made it another hour without something leaking through.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Not Everything is About Color



On MLK Day it seems quite fitting to discuss the color of the Oscars. I empathize with the frustrations of minorities in feeling they are under-represented in the world of film and television but it is getting better. I get that it would be annoying to not see more people who look like me in the movies but I don't believe that story telling and awards need to be color specific. There are many things that separate people and put them in boxes. It is not all race based. With that in mind, there are simple facts when it comes to awards in the world of appearances and it really isn't about color.
  1. Selma didn't play the game. Nominations are all about the game. If you think everyone in Hollywood gets together and makes these choices of their own accord you are crazy. Screeners are sent out, ads are purchased and whole publicity campaigns are waged, people make huge money running these campaigns to get people and movies nominated. Selma didn't send screeners. Selma didn't give as many free viewings. Selma did itself a major disservice by assuming someone who played a famous black man would simply be nominated for doing just that.
  2.  Who shouldn't have been nominated? There are too many excellent movies to make a case that Selma's lead actor was overlooked simply because he was black. He was not nominated because in a tough field of actors this year his performance was simply not as noticeable as the five other men who were nominated. As usual it was a stellar year (for those who are male) and there are many men who could make a good case for a performance that deserved notice. Only 5 are chosen and I challenge you to tell me who should have been off the list so it could include David Oyelowo. Don't even get me started on the lack of parts for females. (Check out Julianne Moore's speech from the Critic's Choice Awards for a good expression of sexism in movies).
  3.    Just because you make a great movie, doesn't mean you will get a nomination. Great movies throughout history have been snubbed or overlooked by the Oscars. Often the movies as of late that are even nominated are not popular by mainstream standards. This makes the Academy Awards not a popularity contest but rather a vehicle for cause movies and lesser known entities. I think a better argument could be made to move away from this current trend and get back into what the public likes.
  4. There are many awards that are more heavily weighted to the black community and no one has a problem with this fact. When the Grammys started paying attention to who was popular, look at the color change up. Of course, since the beginning there have been more black winners than white on music stage and no one seems to notice or care. In a number of arenas black people outnumber others but yet a single missing face irritates everyone when it comes to the Oscars? How is that right? Quincy Jones has more Grammys than anyone, he's black. The country music solo performance went to Darius Rucker last year. The top four spots of total numbers of Grammys are all black people. Why does no one care or notice this?
  5. There are many careers that are more favored by other ethnicities based on talent, skill and hard work that I don't have a chance to be a part of as an average height, white female. The NBA, the NFL, the MLB are chock full of "minorities." The hard work and talent of these individuals as well as certain genetic gifts makes them superior. Why would one complain they cannot rule all arenas? It is not practical nor does it make sense.


The Golden Globes hate Clint Eastwood, not a single Globe nomination for Clint and American Sniper, yet a plethora of nods for  Oscar. Is that because he's white? No. It's because he doesn't play nice with the foreign press. We need to stop seeing color barriers where they aren't. Selma is a fantastic movie. It deserves to be nominated for best picture and it is. It deserves to be nominated for best song and it is. It didn't make the cut in performance, not because of color but because of competition. To give a pity nomination to a black person every year is not a solution. To assume you will get nominated because you play a civil rights leader is ludicrous. It is all about great stories and great movies. 

With the growing unrest around race relations it seems more imperative than ever for people to stop putting others in categories. Killing police because they are police is not fair. Treating others  badly because they are women is not fair. Assuming those of color are violent is not fair. But life is not fair. What we need to look at is providing more opportunity for everyone. The opportunity to get a good education. The opportunity to learn how to be better parents. The opportunity to make a living wage. The opportunity to tell your story. What you do with that opportunity is up to you. 



Side Note: The Lego movie didn't get nominated for best animated feature, prejudice against squares and circles or just plastic people?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Reality Check...Stop Being Stupid



Everyone was quick to jump all over Gwyneth Paltrow for her idiotic statements about how difficult her life is compared to the rest of the world. At first I thought I have no right to comment because I don't have children. Then I thought I felt a little sad for her for being so "sheltered" that she can't get out of her own way. Then I reframed the problem and realized she is a bigger douche than I originally thought. You see, she has a choice to be ignorant of the rest of the world and what brought this into perspective was another idiotic move by a more "common" person, Rachel Canning. I didn't cut this girl any slack and she at least has the naivety of youth.

Rachel Canning is the spoiled teenage girl who wanted to see a boyfriend who may or may not be bad for her, but bottom line, her parents didn't like. She moved out of the house in a fit of rage and then turned around to sue her parents to continue to pay for her private school. This sense of entitlement plagues our entire population lately. The thought that you could defy your parents, move out on your own and then expect them to still pay for your existence is laughable. It is a sheer exercise in not understanding the basic facts surrounding "consequences for one's actions."


You do have rights, you do have choices and you must deal with the CONSEQUENCES of those choices. Move out, see the boy, figure out how to pay for your existence. You aren't owed anything in this world accept the right to live. Not the right to live in the glorious style you are accustomed to. Just ask anyone who has lost it all, there are no promises of future wealth or status here. How many times did Mickey Rooney go bankrupt?

Gwyneth seems to suffer from the same lack of reality. You see she grew up in a Hollywood home. She knows no other life. She has never wanted for anything so the idea of children going to bed hungry is nothing more than some sort of Sally Struthers infomercial. I understand her statement was probably meant to say her "relationship with her husband would be easier with a more consistent schedule." Problem with that or any of the statements she made, she works by CHOICE. If she really felt her life was lacking and she put her marriage above all else she could have stopped working at any time. There is enough money in those coffers to last an average person 10 lifetimes. You are not a victim of circumstance, you are a victim of poor life choices. You reap what you sew.

Neither of these situations address the sheer tiredness of parents and the amount that they have to balance. Women were further insulted as they don't often work by choice but rather out of necessity. They don't miss school events because they are making multi-million dollar paychecks, they do so because if they don't they might not be able to pay the rent, feed their kids or buy them a new pair of shoes. And please, don't blame the 140 character limit on Twitter, Gwyneth's stupid knows no character restriction.

As for Rachel Canning, she is definitely the victim of her youth coupled with access to a lawyer, a bad combination. If Gwyneth had bothered to consult with someone, probably just about ANYONE, they would have told her the comments were a really bad idea. On the other hand, Rachel got advice from an incredibly stupid lawyer who plays to the "entitlement" factor. As a country I ask that we please get back to a sense of reality. A sense of saving for what you want, not needing the new thing at every corner and understanding the value of our relationships. We are destined to fail if we keep along the path we are on, stuff doesn't fall out of the sky and a little work never hurt anyone!

For a great response from a working mother go to Crazy Days and Nights.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

HIMYM Finale, No April Fools Joke Here

***SPOILERS, DUH! I very rarely watch things when they are "on" but due to social media I knew I had no choice. I even had to shut down my phone three hours in advance to avoid any east coast people ruining it for me.
Series finales have lots of pressure. Add that to the fact that "How I Met Your Mother" took an untraditional road from the start and you have an almost impossible scenario. Social media lit up with complaints about the finale and problems but all in all the finale answered all the questions it should have, gave you a glimpse into the wonderful life the group had and ultimately made everyone cry at different moments.
Now there are some out there who are belittling the relationship he had with his wife because he ended up back with Robin. That just isn't the case. He loved his wife completely and never looked back. SHE DIED. So his life is supposed to end!? Even his kids called out that the entire story was aimed at telling them why he might want to revisit the idea of he and Robin now that they were past the child having age and now that he had lost the love of his life.
That's another thing. The finale expands on the idea of the "love of your life." At different points in your life there are changes that cannot be planned or altered. You can't just give up, you have to adapt. If Tracy had not died this wouldn't be an issue. For Ted to go back to Robin is not a statement on how perfect they were for one another but merely a statement on the inalterable change in the situation. Does everyone need to be reminded that Tracy had her "one love" prior to Ted as well? He died tragically and so Ted was kind of her second chance and she leaves him with a great second chance. They had about ten wonderful years together, only about three of them married. It gave Ted an expanded view on the world. Just because we didn't see him mourn the loss of Tracy doesn't mean he didn't.
The truth is that Robin and Ted could have never worked out in a traditional sense. He was meant to have children. He has that, he had the perfect wife for him and now he has come full circle back to his best friend. Just because the story isn't linear and perfect doesn't make it wrong. It is messy, like real life is. It also explains why the entire show seemed to be about Robin. As the kids pointed out it was never really about their mother or she would have been on the show much, much earlier, like six seasons ago. It was an explanation of the world of Robin.
As far as the Robin and Barney of it all, they careers didn't meld, they couldn't ever find a way to both be happy. Barney also needed a kid, specifically a daughter to really grow up. Their marriage was simply a stunted adolescence. They both loved each other but not in that, I would give up the world to support you kind of way. Look at the tough choices Lily and Marshall made in order to make it work. I was sad to see the divorce but it wasn't entirely unexpected.

Another criticism is the fact that Ted and Tracy had so much chemistry that the writers should have changed their course when they saw it, despite the ending having been decided. Now that is just silly. Ted and Tracy should have chemistry, they get married, they have kids they are happy. Stop trying to make one relationship be a statement on the other! You can love two people totally, in entirely different ways. Ted was true to his heart always. He made a commitment and saw it through, now it is time to make a new commitment. You can have chemistry with more than one person, you just make a choice to commit.
This was a nice hour to tie up a complicated story. There was even more pressure put on this ending than the other sitcoms (which everyone always says fail to deliver) because of the bookended end of a story. You saw a glimpse of how adorable and happy Ted and Tracy were, you saw Marshall and Lily grow even closer and happier and you saw both Robin and Barney find their groove. It isn't flawless, but it is a perfect mirror of life.

THE DRAMA!

I understand that earthquakes can be somewhat scary. I understand that for those who don't live in California the thought of an earthquake is terrifying. I also understand that the drama the media makes up about earthquakes is ridiculous. My sister asked me the other day how many earthquakes I had been in. The true answer to that is 100s. Not exaggerating, not even a little.

The way the news makes it sound is that every single seismic event is one of epic proportions. That just because people feel a little shaking it is something to take the streets about and make sure everyone knows the terror that we live in. This is not a third world country and sending in photos of your fallen over picture frames is idiotic and way more than a little condescending. Let's wait for a real tragedy to start sending in photos of the "devastation."

Now I turn to my computer this morning and see the above headline. "Stars Respond to the Second Earthquake in March." First, let us dissect the statement for the sheer inaccuracy. I know we play fast and loose with the rules of grammar and meaning here in Hollywood, but there were THREE earthquakes just yesterday around the time of the ONE they are referring to.  The "first" one I am assuming they are discussing is the one of March 17th which also was a cluster of no less than two and likely more. What new math are they using?

Next, if you just pull up the USGS website you will see the entire area is lit up like a Christmas tree on any given day. Just because this particular earthquake seemed to last a little longer so more people noticed it, does not make it a reportable event. Maybe a single line item on the news, not a half-hour expose on the earthquake and what it means. My husband thought I was playing around, that is how little you actually felt in LA, which brings me to my next point.

In any other story the lead on this would be "ORANGE COUNTY." While I understand the wording is right in the article, the slug is WRONG. The geography of Southern California is not often related with any kind of accuracy, but this quake was in Orange County. That is not even the same county as LA. A county that is larger than many states and it wasn't in it. Maybe, just maybe, you can get away with calling it an LA earthquake when it is in the county but that is still a stretch. It is as ridiculous as saying Disneyland is in LA or that the LA Angels of Anaheim makes any sense. This is as ludicrous as starting to call the team the Ft. Lauderdale Dolphins of Miami and really it should be the NY Giants of East Rutherford by this new naming system.

Finally, as newscasters and reporters, please learn to listen. Stop asking the same question the person asked just before you of the poor scientists trying to explain to you that this is a non-event. It has been the quietest seismic time in all of LA's recorded history for 20 years so a few earthquakes doesn't mean the big one is coming. Rephrasing the question to say, "doesn't this point to a bigger event on the horizon" does not change the answer. There are pre-quakes, yes, but there has never been any proof of groupings of quakes that grow in intensity leading to a big quake. There are times of more activity that have led into big events, but we aren't even at NORMAL activity right now, so chill out!

I am glad that there are magazines out there that still make money. I am fine with the fact that our country is a bit star-obsessed. I am not okay with needing to get the celebrity reactions to non-events. It was a Friday night at 9pm, if you were anywhere but home, chance are you didn't know this massive apocalypse happened until you saw a Tweet about it or a lame newscaster chat about it.

Of course, the viral video of the KTLA newscaster diving under the desk was hilarious and the RIGHT thing to do. I only post this image because I love his eyes, his reaction and if I had 200 pound lights hanging over my head I would move too. Now that's worth Tweeting about.

Monday, March 31, 2014

One Too Many, Surprising Results

It is rare that I wouldn't do absolutely anything for my husband, but the other night we encountered my limit. He got himself in a bit of a pickle by engaging with a comedian on stage. One drink too many and my usually shy, adorable husband decided going toe to toe with someone who makes fun of people for a living was a good idea. Not wise.
Now I knew what he wanted but he was not as clear to the rest of the room opening himself up to ridicule. The thing is he went all in. He actually stood up and kept going. I have to admit I was slightly impressed. That being said when our friends leaned over and asked if I was going to go get him I looked at then like they were the nuts. I was sitting there thinking nothing more than, "please don't ask if he's with someone. And for God's sake if he does please don't let him refer to any of us! "
I can claim I was taking the high road here. On the very rare occasion that Chris has one too many beers I become public enemy numero uno. He will do anything to spite me in that moment and I am known as the fun-sucker. My friend Craig would say that's karmic retribution as my drunk alter ego,  Lily, tends to do exactly the wrong thing and is a bit belligerent. Someday I'll tell the story of the late night skinny dipping and the broken nose.
With that in mind,  me getting up to do anything would have ensured us getting kicked out and led to more ridicule. So I simply shook my head and let it play out. It wasn't too bad. I am grateful he didn't fall over on Dr. Drew,  just gave him a nice slap in the back like they are the old friends that they clearly are. Of course the real reason I did nothing was I wasn't about to open myself up willingly to whatever observation was sure to come my way,  I prefer anonymity.

The glare of the next morning came all too soon. We had a lunch date and my husband willingly offered to go clothes shopping. Taking him shopping is tantamount to trying to get a four-year-old in nice clothes,  it never ends well and is rarely worth the frustration. But you see, getting ready for the show we had been in a rush and Chris had put on my least favorite pair of pants,  Harbaugh like khakis,  ugh. I didn't notice until too late so I was stuck with the choice.  Well, his lack of fashion sense was most of what the comedian made fun of so suddenly I have a newly dressed man. Thank you Jim Jeffries for not only fixing the clothing problem but also proving I was right to just stay out of it. I am certain the last thing Mr. Jeffries ever intended was to prove a girl right.

You should watch the show: