Archive for October, 2010

A Long Way For Nothing

Saturday, October 30th, 2010

Early this morning I flipped on my TV to a near empty DVR. The only things I had left were long informative TV shows or Spanish novelas (to help with my Spanish). I couldn’t take my DVR or infomercials, I was up kind of early for me, for a Saturday, or any day, so I started looking through all the movie channels that used to be free but I forgot to cancel. What I found was a documentary called Running the Sahara and I couldn’t have hoped for better. I love adventures and expeditions, culture and nature and sport. Too bad for me that it just takes an incredible athletic ability and not personality to make it across the Sahara on foot.

Three guys, Charlie, Ray, and Kevin set out to run over 7,000km across Africa, through the Sahara, to the Red Sea in Egypt. Don’t get me wrong, I can appreciate how amazing this is. They ran 170 marathons in 111 days without taking a day off. I can’t sit at my desk for four hours a day without two days off every week. Incredible, astounding. But an entertaining documentary this does not make. Maybe the physical act of running so far took too much out of the guys to give us any room for compelling relationships or story lines, but they only had any cultural encounters incidentally and the biggest drama came from the director wanting to leave the journey ten days early for another job. The only conflicts seemed well beneath the toughness and grit the runners showed on their feet. Two members of the support crew left the race for nine days to stock up on medicine for the last 6 days through Egypt. Good timing fellas, if you’re bored with the project and want to have a glass of red wine at a hotel bar in Cairo…which the doctor did. And then they whined that they weren’t welcomed back by the guys who were still trudging it out every day in the desert.

The last real kicker is that at the end only one of the guys seemed like he went through a personal change at all. The main motivator and mouth of the project, Charlie, copped out of giving the viewers any payoff for our hour and forty five minutes by saying that after the adventure is over it’s impossible to reflect and it just forces you to appreciate what you’re going through while it happens. No change that he can speak of. Cool. That’s fun to watch. And Matt Damon narrated this doc, what a score for these guys. I’m sure Matt Damon saw a connection to this movie and Gerry, a terrible movie he wrote and starred in 8 years ago about two friends endlessly walking through a Baja desert.

If you want an adventure, watch Long Way Round. If you want endurance challenges watch the Tour de France. Just don’t watch this movie for anything.

Project Runway: One Day You’re In and the Next You’re Out…of my DVR

Thursday, October 28th, 2010

Don’t worry everybody, the Renaissance Fair is still strong in America. The only trouble is, Gretchen Jones stole all their costumes, so if you’re trying to see them, you’ll have to watch the Project Runway season 8 finale. It would be a lie to say I’ve never been this upset before, but I will say, that this finale was another major travesty in reality TV. In Survivor, the actual competitors vote on the winner so it’s no wonder the winner never wins. But in Project Runway, the viewer hands over all control to a panel of experts to decide the fate of competitors they’ve forced us to watch for an hour and a half every week for sixteen weeks. The least they could do is try to award the win to the right person. They got it wrong. Stupid Nina Garcia. I’m no fashionister but come on! Gretchen?

Whatever, Gretchen can keep the victory. The deserving winner was Mondo Guerra who came in second place. Second place is worth nothing, but in his concilation interview, I genuinely believed that Mondo was more enriched by just showing up and participating than Gretchen could have by winning ten times over. I just hope her starving models don’t drip turkey leg grease all over her frocks, what a shame that would be for the Renaissance Fair.

I never thought I’d get so upset about a show I swore I’d never watch, but they did it to me, too. I can’t stand injustices and a huge injustice was done to Michael C on the second to last episode, but even that was trumped by this fix. Michael C lost his spot in the final to a guy who designed an entirely ridiculous and narrow line which was seemingly inspired by The Great Gazoo from The Flinstones. I want to keep the focus on Mondo though. I’ll sum it up by summing up Heidi Klum’s comments to the other self-serving judges. Why did we give Mondo so many victories throughout the season for the same talent and spirit he showed in the finally only to tell him tonight that it wasn’t good enough? Smart girl that Heidi Klum. Pobre Mondo that her voice of reason was the only one on the panel last night.

Out of England and Out of Luck

Monday, October 11th, 2010

Ricky Gervais loves Chicago and that’s why, out of performances in L.A., New York, and England, he chose to film two of the dates in Chicago for his Out of England 2 HBO special.

I had four tickets to go and I hand-picked the remaining seats. I had the same mentality for Ricky Gervais as I do for my sports teams. You’re well within your rights to root for the other team, or against Ricky in this case, but you’re not doing it next to me, especially when I’m the one who hooked us up with the tickets from the pre-sale. My brother and cousin are both into the podcasts and the shows and specials so they were offered tickets. The last ticket went to my friend, ex-roommate Kevin. This guy is a “huge fan”, too. Why the quotes? Here’s a conversation I had with Kevin on the night of the show:

Myself: Hey Kev, we’re meeting downtown before the show to get something to eat and then we’ll head to the show.

Kevin: I’m in the burbs.

Myself: ?…grrrrrr…?…(breathe, relax, breathe) The burbs?

Kevin: Yeah. Try to leave my ticket at Will Call.

Myself: We’ve got two hours till the show, you’re not going to meet up with us beforehand?

Kevin: I’m in the burbs.

Myself: Uh…

Kevin: He’s got an opener. I’m sure I’ll get there on time.

I don’t know what this guy was doing. I bestowed the ticket on, not the wrong guy, just a guy. A guy who was in the suburbs, a forty-five minute drive into the city, two hours before the Ricky Gervais show-of-a-lifetime and didn’t think he’d make it for the opener. That’s the guy I picked.

There was nowhere for me to leave the ticket for him. They wouldn’t let me leave it at Will Call so I took the next best option. I went across the street to a Borders, walked to the back of the first floor, right into the heart of the Literature section and I hid it inside the third copy of Pride and Prejudice and Vampires. I told Kevin where it was hidden and I turned off my phone

Ricky Gervais came out on stage and I lost it.  The guy is unbelievably funny, and to see him live was an unreal experience.  I was the only person who gave him a standing ovation on his entrance, but if you’re going to give someone a standing ovation on reputation alone, Ricky Gervais is the one.  And you better believe he earned it, too.

He came out and said he lost twenty pounds.  When everybody clapped for him he told us to stop and said something like,  “I shouldn’t have gotten fat in the first place.  Don’t congratulate me for something I should have never done in the first place.”  And that’s how he allowed himself to take shots at fat people for the next twenty minutes.  Then he went into homosexuality in the animal world, with slides, and the best part of the show was when he pulled out a children’s book version of the Noah’s Ark story, the actual book he had when he was a kid.  He went page by page, reading the story and tearing apart the illustrations and the story, it was hilarious.  The whole thing is going to air on HBO later this year, can’t wait to see it again.

As soon as the show let out, Ricky was off to his hotel and the three of us who actually went to the show started talking about our favorite parts.  Then I called Kevin to find out what happened to him and he told me a story about going through three different stories of the Borders looking for the ticket and that it wasn’t there.  Just so I could make sure he had to pay me for the ticket, I went to the bookstore which was now closed and played charades through the doorway to get someone’s attention.  I told him exactly what I told Kevin and within a minute, he was back holding my ticket.  Too bad Kevin couldn’t follow directions.  An open seat for Ricky Gervais?  What a waste.  But for those of us who were there, it was an amazing show.