Furious Seven (review)

•April 19, 2015 • Comments Off

I appreciate it when a movie requires you to check your brain at the door, so imagine how much I might like a movie that requires you to check two brains at the door.

Full disclosure: this was the first of the Fast and Furious movies I’ve seen. I thought they wouldn’t be my cup of tea. Meh. I was right.

Having never seen the other movies, I wasn’t sure whether this group of heroes were supposed to be super-heroes or normal people. After all, they surely do things that aren’t possible, like survive falling several stories from buildings or taking brutal physical damage in street fights. I was really impressed that no rocket could harm them, and bullet hits seem reserved only for extras.

It’s hard to tell whether any of them can act, especially when given single lines that have none of that tongue-in-cheek guile that Arnold Schwarzenegger used to deliver so well. Specifically, Vin Diesel’s stilted monotone confused me, because if he just slightly winked after each line, it would’ve been a comedic command performance for the ages. Sadly, the deceased Paul Walker is the only one who seems to have had any acting chops, and Kurt Russell gets to ham it up with glee.

I never learned how to drive a manual transmission, so watching a lot of clutch releasing and hard shifting was not as erotic for me as it was for the rest of the audience. The whole affair is certainly heteronormative, what with all the hot women scantily clad and the dudes competing for their attention. The movie fulfills all the requisite stereotypes, cliches, tropes, patterns, and formulas. The studio’s algorithm knows how to make a movie.

Most problematic is not that the heroes could never survive or pull off any of their actions, but that their plans make no sense, and no one would act the way they do. This seems like a film wanting to make a new superhero franchise, yet the superheroes simply drive awesome cars really, really well. At 137 minutes, it runs about 37 minutes too long, and I almost left at the two-hour mark out of sheer boredom.

But I did stay to watch the “tribute” to Paul Walker, and although I believe a woman next to me cried a little, I had to stifle laughter at the horrible delivery of Vin Diesel, whose sadness of losing a brother belied the entire film’s heterosexual vibe.

It’s apparently okay to admit you love your brother, but only after he’s dead.

Grade: -7.

Remaster cremaster

•April 12, 2015 • Comments Off

Fans of Lucille Ball want to remodel a statute of her in Celoron, New York, because they don’t think it looks like her:

Lucy.

Lucy.

Fans of Lucille Ball, Go Take a Nap! That is a perfect statue! Looks just like the Lucy we all knew and loved. [They could at least brush her teeth now and then.–Eds.]

Candice Bergen said although she has had plastic surgery in the past, she no longer cares enough to get more even though she needs it. Candice, that’s Quite Nice. People do what they want to do. [Life is, like, the journey, man.–Eds.]

Samuel Hatmaker designed a Golden Girls Lego set, and if 10,000 people vote for it online, the Lego company might make it an official Lego set. Samuel, that’s Really Quite Nice. I’m sure children of all ages will be begging their parents for a Golden Girls Lego set soon. [We’d like to play Blanche.–Eds]

And Don McLean’s handwritten manuscript for American Pie fetched $1.2million at auction. Don McLean’s handwritten manuscript, Go Take a Nap! Do you have any idea how many cheap tacos that would be? That’s 2.4million cheap tacos! [Or 4.8 million really cheap tacos.–Eds.]

Windy windy

•April 5, 2015 • Comments Off

Russell Crowe said that Michael Jackson prank called him at his hotels for years, even though they never met. Russell, that’s Just Nice. But do you have Prince Albert in a can? [Maybe his refrigerator is running?–Eds.]

Ryan Phillippe said even though he’s 40, he still looks young enough to get carded and sometimes people think he’s his daughter’s brother. Ryan, that’s Quite Nice. You’re only as old as you feel, so enjoy life while you can. [We feel like we’ve been editing this column forever.–Eds.]

Ryan Reynolds wants his daughter, James, to have a normal life, not the life of a celebrity. Ryan, Go Take a Nap! Being a celebrity is aweome! And it’s not normal for a daughter to be named James. [We wouldn’t know.–Eds.]

And David Duchovny said his new album is like R.E.M. and Wilco. David, that’s Just Nice. But I was hoping for more of a Captain Beefheart/Nick Cave feel. [There’s all kinds of music.–Eds.]

Entitle Game

•March 29, 2015 • Comments Off

Zayn Malik is leaving One Direction because he needs a little private time out of the spotlight. Zayn, Go Take a Nap! You need to stay in the spotlight because that’s where it’s at! [We sometimes hide from our fans.–Eds.]

George R.R. Martin said he’s not going to let anyone pressure him into writing the Game of Thrones books faster. George, Go Take a Nap! Just pump out some stories already! [We could help edit them.–Eds.]

And Raven-Symone said her DNA test results showed that she is from every continent in Africa, except for one, and every continent in Europe, except for one. Raven, that’s Quite Nice. But you gotta catch ‘em all! [We’re a few continents short, too.–Eds.]

Brak Fever

•March 22, 2015 • Comments Off

Zayn Malik and Louis Tomlinson had to pay a $5,000 bond and promise not to do drugs before Philippine immigration would let them play a One Direction show. Zayn and Louis, that’s Just Nice. I’m sure that you will not do drugs again, and it’s nice to see such responsible young role models. [$5,000 is a lot of cheap tacos.–Eds.] {Yeah, like 10,000 cheap tacos.–Jack Jackson} [Or 20,000 really cheap tacos.–Eds.]

Oprah Winfrey is auctioning personal items from Chicago to get ready for a move to Los Angeles. Oprah, Go Take a Nap! You don’t need to sell anything! You have tons of money and can just put all your stuff in storage or pay someone to ship it to L.A. [We don’t have that much stuff, so we can move more easily.–Eds.]

Elton John was spotted with a Dolce & Gabbana bag just one day after asking people to boycott the brand over comments about children born in vitro being synthetic. Elton, Go Take a Nap! If you ask other people to boycott a brand, you have to join in, too! [It just makes sense.–Eds.]

And Taylor Swift bought the domain names taylorswift.porn and taylorswift.adult. Taylor, that’s Quite Nice. I expect to see lots of pr0nn0 on those sites soon. [Probably a lot of freaky stuff.–Eds.]

Spring up

•March 15, 2015 • Comments Off

[Note: Jack Jackson is away on vacation this week. In his place is Billy Halvorson, aged 9, a budding young gossip columnist.– Eds.]

Dad said uncle Jack was at a home and he was drying out, which I don’t think is so good because people are like 90% water, so if he dries out he’s gonna be like a grape or something.

Some old people roasted Justin Bieber and my mom said he was really nice about it but dad said he’s still a little punk kid who doesn’t appreciate how lucky he is. But mom and dad agree he probably has a small penis, but I don’t care because his music is so bad.

Mom said she’d be really happy to see Hillary Clinton be the next president because she’s a strong female role model. Dad said she likes to eat rugs and wants to take away all his guns. I tried eating a piece of our kitchen rug but gave up because I couldn’t chew it.

There’s a bunch of new Skylanders out and I think I’m going to get a few for my birthday, but mom and dad said not to expect anything from uncle Jack this year because he spent all his money on whiskey, and he isn’t that good of a gossip columnist, anyway. I think uncle Jack is cool because he tells me all the bad things my parents do.

Okay, maybe I’ll get to do next week, too! Dad says uncle Jack might be in the home for awhile.

Sprung Forward

•March 8, 2015 • Comments Off

Kirstie Alley honored the passing of Leonard Nimoy on Twitter, but she mistakenly used Dr. Spock instead of Mr. Spock. Kirstie, Go Take a Nap! Dr. Spock is the baby one, and Mr. Spock is the pointy-eared one. [Both were real menschen.–Eds.]

Hilary Duff said about marriage that she’s not sure some people are meant to be together forever. Hilary, that’s Just Nice. That’s why we have divorce. [You have to get married first.–Eds.]

Chris Brown named his baby Royalty. Chris, Go Take a Nap! Whatever happened to cool names, like Apple or Moon Unit? [T’Pau?–Eds.]

Harrison Ford crash-landed a private plane on a golf course. Harrison, Go Take a Nap! You gotta check in at the clubhouse first! [And you can’t bring your clubs inside.–Eds.]

And Justin Bieber claims that his picture on Men’s Health was not photoshopped to make his muscles bigger. Justin, that’s Just Nice. Keep it real, bro. [We would rather see a fake Bieber, anyway.–Eds.]

Slag time

•March 1, 2015 • Comments Off

Neil Patrick Harris says he did not stuff his underwear for the Oscars. Neil, Go Take a Nap! Go ahead and stuff your underwear! It feels good. [We’d rather it stay a mystery.–Eds.]

Eddie Redmayne said he’d like to play a superhero in a big blockbuster movie. Eddie, that’s Just Nice. I wanna do that, too. [So do we.–Eds.]

And William Shatner explained he couldn’t attend Leonard Nimoy’s funeral because he was stuck in Florida doing charity work. William, Go Take a Nap! You can always do charity work! Funerals are a once-in-lifetime deal! [Highly illogical.–Eds.]

What is “Authentic”?

•February 25, 2015 • Comments Off

December 8, 2006

What is Authentic?

By Jack Jackson

The concept of “authentic” ethnic food has always been something of a challenge for me, and I’m guessing it is for the rest of you, too.  I mean, it’s been really, actually, authenticallychallenging me.  There are two main reasons why the concept bugs me: 1) everyone in town argues over where you can find the most authentic Mexican food, yet no one can give you a straight, authentic answer; 2) that surly curmudgeon gastrophile Richard Ripshaw recently railed on me for ordering General Tso’s/Tzo’s/Dzo’s/Dso’s Chicken from Golden Wok because he did research on the dish which showed that that particular entrée was created in New York’s Chinatown sometime in the 1970’s, whereupon he smugly ordered Szechuan Chicken, which his research had shown to be an authentic Szechuan dish with authentic Szechuan peppers.  I had no choice but to blithely applaud him for his excellent and authentic ordering skills.

What does “authentic” even mean?  Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary says “not false or imitation : REAL, ACTUAL.”  My Oxford Latin Dictionary says “authenticus” means “original.”  My Oxford Greek Dictionary says “authentikos” means “principal, authoritative.”  But none of those definitions really answers the more specific question of what “authentic” means in the world of ethnic cuisine.  What does it mean, after all, to say that a restaurant’s marinara sauce is the “original” or “real” or “actual” or “authoritative” marinara sauce?

In ethnic food, it seems that “original” is the closest meaning for “authentic.”  The question is often: “Was this cooked the same way, with the same ingredients, with the same tools, as the people of that culture originally (first) prepared the dish?”  Not only is that often an extremely difficult question to answer with any meaningful accuracy, but I think the answer should generally be “Who cares?”

In music, especially in Jazz, we applaud the artist who builds on the work of earlier artists.  We can enjoy the old Charlie Parker records, but John Coltrane offered us a more complicated and challenging sound.  Was Coltrane an inauthentic sax player?  Charlie Parker’s sound is like the first pizza in Italy during the Roman Empire: a flat round of dough slathered in olive oil, bay leaves, other herbs, and honey.  It was not until several centuries later—the Middle Ages—when water buffalo, whose milk is necessary for authentic mozzarella cheese, showed up on the scene.  The arrival of mozzarella on the scene was like the arrival of John Coltrane on the jazz scene.

Did the Italians kvetch that mozzarella cheese on their pizzas was not authentic and should not be allowed or at least denounced?  I do not know.  It would be silly if they did, and I still say, “Who cares?”  I think mozzarella cheese on pizza is a nice change, just like John Coltrane’s innovative chord progressions were a nice change for jazz.

But just you look out!  Because in the 1500’s another crazy thing happened to authentic Italian pizza: some dudes brought back tomato plants from the New World.  That’s kind of like when John Coltrane said to himself, I’m going to play a fifty-seven minute version of “My Favorite Things” in Japan and it’s going to be unlike any other version of that song done before.

I do not know what brave Italian pizza-meister first bucked the fierce conservative anti-tomato movement, but I am glad it happened, nonetheless.  He turned authentic Italian pizza into something I enjoy.

Now I know Mr. Ripshaw is going to be mad at me for writing this, but the last time I visited Chicago, we took some friends out to a nice authentic Neapolitan pizzeria.  Do you believe, I mean, can you believe, that they served us what they called authentic pizzas, but actually those so-called authentic pizzas had mozzarella and tomatoes on them?  I mean, where was the honey?  Where were the bay leaves?

At what point in the history of pizza do we or can we settle on a definition of what is “authentic?”  And don’t you all enjoy a nice slice of New York-Style Pizza?  What is Chicago-Style pizza?

What are authentic barbecue ribs in America?  What is authentic fried chicken?  How many definitions will you get around the country?

India, China, and Mexico are big countries.  How can any one restaurant provide a full panoply of totally authentic dishes, even if limited to a specific region?  Is anyone in New York’s Chinatown still serving authentic General Tso’s/Tzo’s/Dzo’s/Dso’s Chicken?

Who cares?

Golden statute

•February 22, 2015 • Comments Off

Bill Cosby thanked Eddie Murphy for refusing to impersonate him on the Saturday Night Live 40th anniversary special. Bill, that’s Just Nice. But imitation is the highest form of flattery. [Unless it’s making fun of rape allegations.–Eds.]

Neil Patrick Harris wants to beat Ellen DeGeneres’ selfie from the Oscars last year. Neil, Go Take a Nap! You should focus on hosting the Oscars, not increasing your social media footprint. [Everything is connected.–Eds.]

And Kirk Cameron won the Razzies for Worst Actor and Worst Picture for Saving Christmas. Kirk, that’s Quite Nice. Looks like you’re really hitting your groove. [Who will save Thanksgiving?–Eds.]