Monday, March 28, 2016

The Pez Easter Egg Hunt and A Thought on Community

I could have pulled a number of news stories or anecdote's to present my point, but this one really seems to fit nicely.

If you want to read a not surprising story of people behaving badly read this story in the Washington Post titled: Easter egg hunt turns ugly after being ‘bum-rushed’ by parents.This story from Connecticut was about the Pez Factory hosting an Easter egg hunt that was ruined when people acted purely selfish and rushed the field (parent's included).

I wasn't there, but can only imagine listening and reading the story. And frankly, it's simply easy to imagine because we're used to the images.

One of the reasons I believe we see these types of stories of mass chaos and people acting this way is because in some ways as the world has become more connected and "smaller" and some would say, in our communities we've becoming increasingly anonymous.

If you live in a small community, or are connected to your local town you might be more likely to consider your behavior in public and in essence find yourself, if not naturally included, to keep yourself in check with the knowledge that your friends, neighbors and community are close at hand. And int this regard, our behavior impacts our credibility, our relationships, and our day-to-day interactions.

Yet, it seems to me that when I am out and about, there is no concern for maintaining community credibility in the way I would imagine in other places.

In reality, I often see people act more civil in the workplace (a place were credibility and relationship potential impact the day-to-day or future economic opportunity) far more than I see people's civility in the marketplace.

So when I see stories about the Pez Easter Egg Hunt I find myself wondering - did these people drive from far away and have no connections to others and felt it appropriate to not only act selfishly, but also with a disregard for the rules of the organizers? Or perhaps they lived close, and knew no one, or didn't care?

I don't want to suggest that behavior is only impacted by the social/economical trade offs that come from known relationships. But I also have to think that the social fibers of community drive behavior, and acts like these suggest that those social fibers are quite weak and worn.

The world is becoming more and more connected, but in our three-dimensional life it seems that we are far less connected and as a result our civil behavior manifest itself in disappointing ways. 

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Fuller House - Season 1 Thoughts

Had it not been for my wife I doubt I would crawled back into the nostalgic reboot of Fuller House, which follow-ups the popular ABC Television Series Full House (1987-1995).

And while the few reviews I've seen generally seem to claim this as a show just for die hard fans, I would like to suggest that this may not entirely be the case.

Anyone who has fallen in love with a show and gone back and rewatched it from the beginning are sure to realize that shows that last often evolve to a point where they find their sweet spot, and rarely does a show start of in full force in it's pilot episode (think about a non-funny 30 Rock pilot, or a Gilmore Girls where there is no chemistry and characters are bitter not witty).

In this same way the nostalgic element of Fuller House is strong - not only referencing previous episodes from the past but also creating an almost over-kill amount of symmetry between prior story lines and new story lines. And that continues through all 13 episodes, don't get me wrong.

But there was a glimmer of hope in the 13 episodes, particularly towards the end of the season that characters might be given the chance to grow into something beyond their 1989 counterpart. Specifically by episode 9 ("War of Roses") when all three female leads, plus Lori Loughlin (Aunt Becky), are trying to figure out the source of an overkill floral delivery.

It's a little campy in it's presentation, and shares the same tone of the rest of the show, but I don't recall any matching story line here, and instead this episode offered it's own level of interest which really fed into the next three episodes.

So, when I heard this would be renewed for a second season I was encouraged. I didn't need cameo's of prior Full House regulars regularly appearing...sorry, Dave Coulier. But instead I can enjoy the light hearted show for what it is.

In regards to characters, in many ways Candance Cameron Bure reprisal of her role of J.D. Fuller (nee Tanner), works well even in part because it seems she naturally in real life has continued to embody the Full House ethos. So, as a result the tone of this show some how cuts above a air of cheesiness and offer a strange authenticity. Now, I'm not getting carried away - there is something romantacized and cheesy here - but it generally does not seem forced.

Also, I'm not sure what it is, but Jodie Sweetin's character of Stephanie Tanner some how caught my attention in this series. There was some unique combination of her acting, her story line, and her onscreen personae that frankly just seemed different and intriguing.

The kids who play their caricature roles are certainly doing exactly what they're expected - similar to my long term interest, my hope is that these characters are given the freedom to grow and develop as well without being stuck in a pre-defined mold. Don't get me wrong, middle child's highly physical antics (Elias Harger as Max Fuller) are often fun, but they're almost over the top, much in the same way this would have been seen in the original series. It's fun, but it might wear thin. Especially if the baby (Tommy Fuller) jumps in strong in an early toddler stage in season 2.

So hear my message. I'm not suggesting this series be short listed for Emmy's, Golden Globes, or even People's Choice Awards. Still, I find myself pleased to see this reboot capture attention and a second season and expect that when it's released we'll be ready to watch it again.

Saturday, March 05, 2016

Prior Black Oscar Nominees and Their 2016 Films

This past years "#OscarSoWhite" social media campaign regarding the lack of diversity in the awards, had an impact on the award ceremony. Must has been said and written on this topic.

It's hard to tell how this year's vocal disapproval will either (1) create or green light projects that feature more diverse characters (2) create added attention to diverse performances.

While to topic of diversity was front and center, it really specifically focused on African-American, or more generally black actors.

It could be seen as patronizing the way prior black nominees and winners were paraded as presenters and in audience members.

That said, I wanted at this point in the season collect a list of potential black performances from the list of prior nominees and winners. I fully acknowledge that there are roles and performances excluded from below from actors who haven't received prior nomination. I also acknowledge that many of these performances could be assumed to be excluded from the running because of the nature of the film/role. That said -- I've included as many as I can find here.

Actors: 2016 Performances By Black Actors Who Had Prior Nominations/Wins

  • Louis Gossett Jr: Operation Insanity, Don't Call Me Sir!, The Reason, Double Play, Breaking Brooklyn
  • Morgan Freeman; London Has Fallen, Going in Style, Now You See Me 2, Ben-Hur, Cold Warriors
  • Denzel Washington: The Magnificent Seven
  • Laurence Fishburn: Standoff, Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice,Passengers, John Wick: Chapter 2
  • Samuel L. Jackson: The Hitman's Bodyguard, The Cell, The Legend of Tarzan, Miss Pregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
  • Will Smith: Suicide Squad, Collateral Beauty
  • Jamie Foxx: Sleepless Night
  • Don Cheadle: Captain America: Civil War
  • Terrence Howard: Term Life, The Best Man Wedding
  • Forest Whitaker: Story of Your Life, Rogue One; A Star Wars Story
  • Djimon Hounsou: Same Kind of Different As Me, The Legend of Tarzan
  • Eddie Murphy: Mr. Church
  • Chiwetel Ejiofor: Triple 9, Doctor Strange
  • Barkhad Albi: Extortion

Actress: 2016 Performances by Black Actresses Who Had Prior Nominations/Wins

  • Cicely Tyson: Showing Roots
  • Diahann Carol: The Masked Saint
  • Whoopi Goldberg: Before I Do, Yamasong: March of the Hollows, Black Dog Red Dog, Actors Anonymous
  • Angela Bassett: London Has Fallen
  • Halle Berry: Kidnap
  • Queen Latifah: Miracles from Heaven
  • Gabourey Sidibe: The Brothers Grimsby
  • Mo'Nique: A Meyers Christmas
  • Viola Davis: Suicide Squad
  • Taraji P. Hensen: Term Life
  • Octavia Spencer: The Free World, Zootopia, Car Dogs, Gifted, The Shack
  • Quvenzhane Wallis: Counting By 7s
  • Lupita Nyong'o: Queen of Katwe, The Jungle Book