Friday, August 29, 2014

favorite song friday: cool kids

Continuing the back to school theme, Echosmith has a deceptively laid-back song that both the kid and I like, "Cool Kids." Echosmith is an American band comprised of four siblings: Graham, Sydney, Noah, and Jamie Sierota.

It took a few listenings for my daughter to really hear the underlying sadness of the song, which perfectly captures the yearning and frankly, ignorance, of youth:

She sees them walking in a straight line, that's not really her style.
And they all got the same heartbeat, but hers is falling behind.
Nothing in this world could ever bring them down.
Yeah, they're invincible, and she's just in the background.
And she says,

"I wish that I could be like the cool kids,
'Cause all the cool kids, they seem to fit in.
I wish that I could be like the cool kids, like the cool kids."

Echosmith, L-R: Jamie (21, guitar), Sydney (17, vocals), Graham (15, drums), and Noah (18, bass).

It's hard being a kid. Especially in our media-obssessed culture. Peer pressure never really goes away.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

throwback thursday: back to school

The kid is now in her second week of fifth grade. Here we go again, having to buy school supplies and pack lunches (or pad her school lunch account.) All the rushing around and saying goodbye to summer got me thinking back to a simpler time, my school daze ...

Dad cut my bangs crooked again, but I'm all smiles, third row, second from the right (Kindergarten)
I must not be the only one waxing nostalgic, as there have been some fun back-to-school related posts circulating online. One of them definitely struck a chord, as it compared going back to school in the '70s versus today. I must have been deprived, as I never had a cool TV show-themed lunch box and thermos. It was always a paper bag lunch and an ugly plain plaid-patterned thermos for me. Ahhh youth ...

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

icymi: our idiot brother

Our Idiot Brother is one of those movies that had pretty good reviews and an appealing cast, and I just never got around to seeing when it was out in theaters. partly for its R rating — it's always harder for me to see R movies on my own — arranging to go without the kid can sometimes be difficult or just plain expensive. So I was glad to get an opportunity to catch up with the movie on Netflix the other day, and even happier when it turned out to be much better than I had expected.

The story follows Ned Rochlin (Paul Rudd), a good-natured, laid-back guy who wants to see the best in everyone and takes what people say at face value. This modern-day Candide and biodynamic farmer is easily caught selling marijuana at his farm stand in a "sting" by a policeman. After a brief stint in prison Ned returns to the farm and finds his girlfriend Janet (Kathryn Hahn) has moved on with Billy (T. J. Miller) and wants Ned out, but refuses to let him take his dog, Willie Nelson. Ned, homeless and heartbroken without his pet, reaches out to his family — first his mother (Shirley Knight), and then, one by one, his sisters, Liz (Emily Mortimer), Miranda (Elizabeth Banks) and Nat (Zooey Deschanel).

Omar, Ned's parole officer (Sterling K. Brown, speaking extremely slowly), "I'm Officer Omar Coleman. I'm your parole officer. "
Ned (Paul Rudd), "I'm Ned Rochlin. Why are you talking so slow?" 
Omar, "I just figured, looking at your sheet, that since you sold grass to a uniformed police officer that you must be retarded."
Ned, "Yeah, I get that a lot."

Paul Rudd is wonderful as Ned. He could have played the part as a real idiot, for broad laughs, but he and the movie don't make that choice. There are definitely humorous situations, but Our Idiot Brother is a more human comedy. Each of the girls' lives is spiraling out of control. Liz is trapped in a loveless marriage with her husband Dylan (Steve Coogan), Miranda is so focused on her high-powered job at Vanity Fair that she is willing to do anything to get a big story, and Nat may be throwing away her great relationship with Cindy (Rashida Jones) from fear of moving forward. While Ned may initially not seem to be helping anyone's situation, his open approach to life can't help but shine a light on some of their more deceptive ones.

As fun as it is to watch Ned, both Rashida Jones and T.J. Miller stand out in their roles as Cindy and Billy. Zooey Deschanel's twee Nat may be the only bum note, but her cluelessness does seem to be part of her character's trajectory. I couldn't help but feel that she needs to do something else and fast, as the charm has worn off the quirk. But the focus stays squarely on Rudd, who nails his hippie love man in all his tree-hugging glory. Most folks may not want to go "full-Ned," but couldn't we all stand to be a little more open, positive about people these days?

Ned, "I like to think that if you put your trust out there; if you really give people the benefit of the doubt, see their best intentions, people will rise to the occasion."

As sweet as Ned can be, there is a wonderful scene in the middle of the movie where he finally loses it, while trying to play charades with his mom and sisters. It's one of those moments that occur within families, and a glimpse at the anger and frustration that even sunny Ned has to contend with. Our Idiot Brother is a fun and funny film, and Paul Rudd once again proves how engaging he can be.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

a few words about the emmy awards

I really just tuned in for Billy Crystal's tribute to Robin Williams. The red carpet was redder than usual, as the bright bold color showed up again and again on actresses. There were a few surprises, especially Benedict Cumberbatch and Sherlock winning three Emmys. Julia Louis-Dreyfus looked amazing and was as funny as ever, as a presenter and a winner. Seth Meyers was an OK host, although his best bit was a pre-taped Q&A with people on the street.

Andy Samberg had probably the biggest laugh as the night he romped, with presenter Lena Headey, post-Weird Al Yankovich musical number, as the odious Joffrey from Game of Thrones. It was too bad that Game of Thrones was shut out of all of its awards, but maybe the Academy, like me, is still reeling from what happened to Oberyn.

The internet is buzzing about Sofia Vergara on a revolving dais, being used in a sexist skit. Are they kidding? Didn't anyone watch the pre-show where actresses were asked to stand for the 360 degree cam to show off their fabulous gowns and gym-toned bodies? We are now shocked that actors and actresses are objectified? Why are people who would complain about such a skit even watch a show like the Emmys, where we watch beautiful people congratulate each other for their super-high paying and fortunate careers? Sigh. It's all a show, just for fun and glitz. Relax, people, or change the channel.