059 – A Hamilton Sing-Along

hamilton

Let’s be real, at the very least you have heard of Hamilton – the biggest Broadway sensation maybe of all time. Even if you don’t care about musicals or theatre or even music, at the very least you have one friend who is kind of obsessed with the show. If you are one of my friends (and you probably are if you’re reading this), then I am that person in your life. When I first found out about the show – about the life of founding father Alexander Hamilton, performed by actors of color and told almost entirely through rap – I just couldn’t wait to see it. I was a huge fan of creator Lin-Manuel Miranda’s previous show, In the Heights, but it took several years for me to get out to see that one. With that in mind, I realized I may never see Hamilton in its best iteration, so I decided instead to devour the soundtrack in its entirety, over and over again. I started listening to the cast recording near the end of October, and still listen to it on a weekly basis four months later, usually while running. The recording is an astounding accomplishment by Miranda, the rest of the cast, and the production team. It’s the kind of show full of interesting roles that I would love to play, but will rightly never have the chance to perform – they aren’t for me. But then I found myself confronted with an opportunity to do just that, in a Hollywood-set sing-along.

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052 – The New Four-Way Stop at the Corner of Lexington and Seward

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the old way of things

I’m not sure who sits in the seat of power that determines the passage of traffic through a given intersection, but those czars of congestion are at it again, creating an all-way stop at the corner of Lexington Ave. and Seward St., mere blocks away from where I sit now, typing these very words you’re reading. It’s the type of city planning that could make or break a neighborhood. It couldn’t come at a more turbulent time for what I call the “Heart of Hollywood” – an area already steeped in social and economic flux.

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042 – Hail, Caesar! (2016)

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A new film from Joel and Ethan Coen is always a big deal, and the marketing push for Hail, Caesar! juiced anticipation, at least among the cinephile community. A kidnapping comedy (whatever “comedy” means when the Coens are concerned) set in the studio-centric days of Old Hollywood starring George Clooney, Josh Brolin, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton, and more seems like the perfect recipe for a great movie.

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031 – The Finest Hours (2016)

the finest hours

Think back to your favorite movie about the military. Unless that flick is 2006’s The Guardian (and it’s probably not because I don’t think The Guardian is anyone’s favorite anything) I’ll bet it has nothing to do with the United States Coast Guard. The Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the Marines – they all feature prominently in heroic tales of action and suspense, but the Coast Guard has had no such luck. Until now. Disney and director Craig Gillespie bring the public the movie they’ve been clamoring for in the form of The Finest Hours – and the good news for me is that it’s actually pretty well done.

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030 – Fifty Shades of Black (2016)

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Remember when all anyone could talk about was Fifty Shades of Grey? Those were the four words on everyone’s lips, from office breakrooms to bookclubs to NASA Mission Control. This fan-fiction-adjacent story designed to give middle-aged housewives a bit of a sensual thrill became omni-present in the zeitgeist  – and not just with those housewives. In fact, that ghettoization of the story’s appeal is pretty unfair, as I know at least one person who falls outside of that category who saw last year’s film version of the book. That person… is me. Sure, I saw it in the context of comedians making jokes over it, but still – I saw it. Parodic auteur Marlon Wayans (does that mean he’s an auteur of parodies or a parody of an auteur? Honestly, both are pretty accurate) and practically anonymous director Michael Tiddes have decided to strike while the iron is hot and take that movie down with their own version: Fifty Shades of Black. A year later. Are people still talking about Fifty Shades of Grey in your breakroom? Yeah, not in mine either.

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029 – School Lunch by Better 4 You Meals

better 4 you

When you read the phrase “school lunch,” what image does it evoke in your mind? Some people may imagine a plate full o’ slop, dished up by a big fat grumpy lady in a hairnet, though I’m not entirely convinced that woman and that situation ever existed – she may have been created by the media to bolster support for Big Grocery Store. I ate school lunch for years – mostly through elementary school – and the thing I’ll never forget is the pizza: that rectangular pizza with the tiny cubed pepperoni pieces? I have a feeling you know exactly what I’m talking about. Why did it taste so good? Probably because nothing about it was real food. Well I’m sad to report that that specific pizza is nowhere to be found in 2016 – at least not in Los Angeles. No, school lunch has changed, man. It’s changed.

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028 – Unfriending People on Facebook

unfriend

Are your social networking outlets causing you stress? Do you stay up at night wondering who you’ll have to passive-aggressively subtweet the next day? Or quietly fume on the toilet while looking a pictures of Donald Trump on Instagram? Or roll your eyes at yet another rant about how Obama wants to take our guns so his Muslim family can take over our country? Well first of all – what are you doing on Facebook? Don’t you know it’s all about Snapchat in 2016? But more to the point – put an end to your aimless concerns. You are the master of your social media destiny and happiness is attainable. It’s simply a matter of clicking “Unfriend.”

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