Lessons Learned from Aerial Dance

“It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.” -Rocky Balboa

About two years ago , I had hit a slump, fitness wise. I was used to my usual routine of going to the gym about three times a week and doing  the same thing over and over – forty five minutes on the treadmill, maybe lift a weight here and there, but overall it felt a little like signing up to be a hamster.  I looked around at any fitness options that brushed the dust off but then I ran into a work associate who had just come from an aerials class.  He was sweaty and in fantastic shape, so I had to ask what he meant. Fifteen minutes later and hundreds of pictures shown from his iPhone convinced me that I had to know more. So he gave me the details of when they met, who to talk to and left me to start one of the hardest physical things I’ve ever done.

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Welcome to my Saturday mornings…

 

Just as some background, I am one of the least athletic people you’ll ever met. Its not like I’ve never tried.  The slowest runner, the most uncoordinated, not to mention the spirit of competition is foreign to my psyche.  If you need a visual explanation of what goes into the basics of doing aerial movement, then I’ll just leave this here, which actually stars my rockstar  yet incredibly patient teacher, Kerry:

My first class was painful. Not physically, although that was strenuous, but my dignity took a hard beating. Kerry was pleasant yet tough. She instructed me to stand in between two long fabrics hanging from the high ceiling, wrap my wrists into them and invert myself. I always thought I was strong. It turns out, I was not.  She watched me try to heft my hips over my head with the sad result being, my legs barely leaving the floor, before my arms gave up and dumping me back to the floor where I came from.

What made it worse was the others in the class, the ones who had already learned how to conquer gravity and lift themselves to graceful heights, turning and flexing themselves into beautiful shapes. So I kept trying for the next hour to do something simple like lift myself up with my own body weight.

At the end of the class, I still hadn’t done it but I was drowning in sweat and exhaustion.  Not what I expected at all. I was frustrated though. I went in expecting to have a new skill, but I had run up a wall. The problem was, I had paid for five classes. So I was prepared to get up in the air by the end of the fifth lesson.

It didn’t take five lessons. It took about 30. I went two to three times a week for four months before I was finally able to invert myself using my own core strength. I almost gave up at lesson eleven, but I had already paid for four more, so I kept going.  In that time, I had learned how to climb, I learned how to put my feet in foot locks with the silk and I had even learned how to do a proper pull up, a skill that had eluded me my entire life.

Aeriel4
When your heart says yes and your muscles say no…

The feeling of being able to lift myself, turn myself over gave me a sense of control that was empowering and exciting. If I could accomplish this first basic level, then I could accomplish whatever level came along. It was only going to get harder but at least I had a handle on the first step. After all, if you can defy gravity, what other natural law can you outsmart?

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Trust me when I say, I felt this the next day.

I wish I had taken pictures of those first few lessons. The ones where I struggled to hold myself up, the ones where sweat dripped down my face as I tried to tie my foot in a knot with my other foot.   While I am nowhere near the fluid tiny grace of professional aerialists, I’m doing the things that I used to envy from down on the ground, which is a great place to see things from.

5 Favorite Books From the Formative Years

 

I don’t know about you, but when I look at the titles in my bookcase or the ones on my Kindle library, I sometimes wonder how I came to enjoy the things that I do. If there’s a slightly dark tone to it, a sense of humor or a weird twist, I’m all in. And somehow, these books stood out to me as my favorites as a kid.

  1. Blubber by Judy Blume. blubberLooking back, I’m not sure why I loved this book so much. When talking about Judy Blume, most people cite Are You There God, Its Me Margaret, but this was the one I read the most. Maybe because it was such a morality tale of how easy it is to be eaten by the beast you’ve been feeding. It was told with a first person narrative, which really sparkled. Our heroine wasn’t particularly cruel, her crime was standing aside and watching one classmate be tore down.
  2. Lois Lowry’s Anastasia anastasiaI know Lowry is more known for writing The Giver, but she wrote this delightful early teens character named Anastasia that touched something in me. She was sarcastic and innocent, getting into one misadventure after the other with her best friend Daphne. I was introduced to her world when my mom handed me one of the books titled Anastasia at Your Service. I don’t know how many times I read and reread that book. Any heroine that greets news of moving to the suburbs with “As soon as I finish my chocolate pudding, I’m jumping out the window” is perfect.
  3. Gone with the Wind gone with the wind(https://www.amazon.com/Gone-Wind-Margaret-Mitchell/dp/1451635621/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1467068717&sr=8-1&keywords=gone+with+the+wind+book) . Oh man. I loved this book. Yes, I loved the movie and the great thing about reading the book was like having the movie with extended scenes playing in your head. I loved the decadent descriptions of Scarlett’s dresses and how easy it was for her to get back on her feet every time. Years ago, Alexandra Ripley wrote a really trashy sequel which I also read. I enjoyed it as the first really trashy book I’d ever read.
  4. Esther: The Star and the Sceptre by Gini Andrews Esther(https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0310201802/ref=pd_cp_0_1?ie=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=G3ES1KT6WNMZQ9HVZHRT)  I found this book in my school library when I was probably about 13 or 14. If you don’t know the story of Esther in the Bible, this is a fictionalized account, so the author took some liberties,  but I checked this book out over and over again. It was out of print even at that time, but there was something about the descriptions of Esther’s beauty treatments and just enough PG-13 rated material that made me keep going back to the well.
  5. The VideoHound’s Golden Movie Retriever Guide Videohound(https://www.amazon.com/Videohounds-Golden-Movie-Retriever-Annual/dp/0787607800/ref=sr_1_17?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1467066271&sr=1-17&keywords=videohound%27s+golden+movie+retriever)  Stay with me here. I can’t tell you how many hours I spent pouring over the list of movies and their descriptions. The best rated movies had four bones while truly terrible ones had a Woof! I wanted to see every one of those movies, but since that was an impossibility, I could just read about and imagine what I could possibly be missing.

What are YOU looking forwards to this summer?

So technically (at least in Pop Culture land) summer 2016 is well under way, which means while there’s good weather and copius amounts of fresh air, there’s also new entertainment to be watched in darkened rooms. Here’s what I’m looking forwards to:

TELEVISION

  1. The Olympics are back! No I don’t watch every event but there’s always one event that gets pretty exciting and must watchable. Throw in the fact that this year is at Zika central Rio and it might be a event for the books.
  2. Vice Principals. I maintain that a little Danny McBride goes a long way. However, watching him with Walter Goggins (who pulled off an amazing performance in The Hateful Eight) in this trailer as feuding Vice Principals makes me so excited to dive into this new series from HBO.
  3. The Get Down. Not every series Netflix has premiered has been great. For every House of Cards, Jessica Jones and now Lady Dynamite there’s been some forgettable titles (what are they? Eh..I forgot.) This one comes from Baz Luhrman about the rise of hip hop and disco in the streets of Brooklyn in the 70s. If nothing else, the visuals will be amazing.

 

MOVIES

  1. Finding Dory. Aw man, I don’t know about you, but I remember seeing Finding Nemo for the first time and immediately wanting to see it again. Pixar has a gift for giving us thoughtful story with an emotional gut punch and I have no doubt we’re in for the same.
  2. Ghostbusters. I think this is the only movie of the summer with so much debate. No one asked for a Ghostbusters retool but this has been in development for YEARS. Instead of giving us a reboot or another adventure with the original four (R.I.P. Harold Ramis) we’re getting four of the sharpest women in comedy with Paul Feig who gave us instant classics like Bridesmaids, The Heat and Spy. The trailers got a mixed reaction but this is on my must see list.
  3. Suicide Squad. People were on the fence about this one until the trailers started coming out. Finally, Harley Quinn is making her big screen debut in what’s the second step of DC’s cinematic movieverse. No matter what you thought about Batman v Superman, you have to admit that this movie looks cooler than cool.

Events

  1. MST3K Reunion. Technically this isn’t a movie release, it’s a live event, but the beauty of this is that its being streamed in movie theaters all over the country. If you loved Mystery Science Theater 3000 even half as much as I do, you have to be excited. It’ll reunite the original cast with the two hosts as well as the new host for the rebooted series in what’s going to be a pretty exciting night. The movie riffed hasn’t been announced yet, but I’ve already got my ticket. You can get them too right here: http://www.fathomevents.com/event/the-mst3k-reunion-show/buy

TROOP BEVERLY HILLS (1988)

Lets talk about this masterpiece. Chances are, you’ve already seen it, loved it and think about it  and stumbled on this post. If so, then lets chat about what’s possibly the finest film ever made. At least the best ever made about being a Girl Scout in Beverly Hills.

If you don’t know what its about, well all you need to know is that Shelley Long IS Phyllis Neffler, a soon to be divorcee living in Beverly Hills, who takes over her daughters Wilderness Girls troop and teaches them what its really like to survive life. You know who really gets the life lesson here? Phyllis Neffler. And she does it in glorious 80s style.

So instead of going through characters and themes of this movie, lets talk about the important lessons we learned from this movie.

1.  Always look on the positive side of things.

Its hard to get Phyllis down. Her husband is leaving her and has forced a mirror in her face of what her life is REALLY about. Despite it being harsh news, she takes it like a champ and decides to challenge herself doing something she’s never done before.  Hello, Wilderness Girls!

2.   Money isn’t everything, but friends and family are.

Something about these kids brings this out. Phyllis’ social life is a bit of a mystery. She has her Joan Collins-esque friend…

…who’s fabulous in her own way, but what kind of support does she really have? Hello, Wilderness Girls! Where would she be without them? Like in my life, there’s this woman named Marilyn in the finance department who sends out emails saying we need to cut back on Office Depot orders but she’s not realizing that if you have friends in other departments, they can make orders for you.

3.  You can take anything and make it glamorous.

I hate camping. I’ve never been, but I can tell you now – nothing about it appeals to me. So when I see the way Phyllis Neffler camps, sign me up. She made fondue and took the girls to the Beverly Hills Hotel. Seriously, SIGN ME UP.

4.   If you’re unsure of anything in life, then make it your own.

Phyllis took a drab Wilderness Girls dress and turned it into MAGIC.

The structuring of that jacket isn’t what makes it magic. Its the fact that she saw something she didn’t like and did something about it. I hate khaki, but she makes a strong case for it. Marilyn from Finance likes to send out excel spreadsheet templates that make no sense. You take those templates and give her a pie chart. Shuts them up everytime.

5.  There is no enemy too great that you can’t take on.

Meet the Red Feathers. Sure, Tori Spelling is a member, but the important thing to consider is that every enemy has a weakness. There’s was also the one thing getting them ahead, which was their “Kill or be Killed” attitude. Maybe it works in the here and now, but it will catch up with you when you leave your mother in a ditch with a broken ankle.

6.  How to sell cookies.

Instead of going to door to door, make the market come to you. Stake out Jane Fonda’s Workout gym chains or coordinate a fabulous pool party at your house. Everyone likes cookies – including Marilyn from finance who takes the boxes in the breakroom home with her every week.

And never underestimate the power of working the crowd with a heart pumping choreographed number:

7.   If you don’t like how people make you earn their approval, then make your own merit badges.

Maybe you’ll never be in a situation where you have to learn how to make a campfire or bind a wound. Thats because that’s not crucial to your environment. That’s when Phyllis stepped it up and had her girls learn truly useful things like how to appraise jewelry and how to be active in your community.

Those are some fabulous patches.

8.  You can’t “win” him back. You can only make yourself attractive for the world.

Man, Freddy. This guy made all of his money with Phyllis at his side and then traded her in for a younger and hotter real estate agent. If your goals of self improvement involve winning a man back, then you’re doing it wrong. Win yourself back. If he’s a real man, he’ll see what he’s missing.

9.  Never let the bullies get you down.

Despite the emotional beat down Velda gave Phyllis, it never stopped her from offering her a smile and a cappucino. Velda never came around, but it didn’t matter in the end. Phyllis got to be the poster woman for Wilderness leadership and Velda settled back for a career in customer service. That’s how the universe works sometimes.

Also never get married in Reno. Because reasons.

10. Dress for the person you are, not the person that others want you to be.
Look, I take a stand against wearing sweatpants to work (although Marilyn in Finance feels differently as she has given up on life altogether), but other than that, every day is your own occassion and dress for whatever comes your way. 

I don’t know how one would sit in this either but does it really matter?

Is it culturally insensitive when you’re teaching the value of turquoise to all cultures?

Bet you don’t give up on gardening as quickly if you’re wearing this.

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The Faculty (1998)

The Faculty, currently streaming on Netflix, is just as good as I remember it, and incorporates some of the best things from the 90s. Namely, putting Usher in teen movies and using an alien invasion as an allegory for how high school stifles creativity. Or something like that. Did I mention Usher?

OK, so the basic plot here is that we’ve got a Breakfast Club-like mishmash of students who are all trying to stop an alien invasion. Because when aliens come to take over earth, they’re going to be sneaky about it. That means taking over the faculty (did you get where the titles comes from yet?) of a high school in Ohio. A high school where John Stewart and Salma Hayek are part of THE FACULTY.  Let’s meet everyone else.
This is Casey Connor. He’s our Anthony Michael Hall nerd who’s just pleading for a makeover. The haircut alone is just begging his peers to hassle him every day, and they oblige. Casey is the photographer for the school paper, and we can thank him for discovering one of the alien creatures on the football field and bringing it into science class.
This is Delilah Profitt, our Molly Ringwald poor little rich girl. She’s editor or the school paper, head cheerleader, but sometimes she’s sad because her mom drinks. Her body gets taken over about halfway through the movie, so it’s no thanks to her when our gang finally beats the aliens.
This is Stan Rosado, our Emilio Estevez jock who’s conflicted about just being seen as an athlete. We can see by Stan’s dreamy stare that there’s not much going on behind those eyes, but that doesn’t stop him from quitting the football team so he can pursue more academic pursuits.
This is Stokely Mitchell, and because of her name alone she’s our Alley Sheedy outcast. Really, what did her parents expect with a name like that? Thankfully she spends all her alone time reading science fiction books so she knows just how to take care of an alien invasion.  
This is Zeke Tyler, our John Bender. He’s repeating his senior year, apparently because he spends all his study time selling homemade drugs and bootleg VHS tapes in the school parking lot. He’s also trying to start some Mary Kay Letourneau/Vili Fualaau action with Miss Burke, his teacher.
This is Marybeth Louise Hutchinson, a new student. If she were to have a Breakfast Club equivalent, I guess it would be some new annoying student who ruins everyone else’s life. She is boring, so it’s only natural that she gloms on the Zeke, our resident bad boy.
Now you know the players, so on with our story.
Here’s Casey and his science teacher, Jon Stewart, admiring the new animal Casey found on the football field. I hope teacher doesn’t dumbly reach his hand into the fish tank and get his body taken over by aliens. 
Oh man, something is bad wrong here. If you ever see a public school teacher looking happy and NOT beaten down by life, you should run as fast as you can.
John Stewart is the first teacher to be taken down by Zeke’s homemade, I don’t know, meth? Our heroes can now escape to Zeke’s garage where they can score, I mean, get more of his homemade drugs to fight the aliens. 
Delilah isn’t having any of this hero business, because she’s already been taken over by aliens! Twist. OK, everyone else, let’s head back to school and see if we can’t find out who the queen alien is and kill her. Things are not going well back at the high school.
Need your suspicions confirmed that high school athletes are the worst people ever? Here you are.
Things are not going well for Zeke’s lady crush, Miss Burke either. At least they can’t commit any felonies with most of her body missing.
Marybeth why are you naked?
Because she’s the alien queen! Burn it with fire! Or offer her some of Zeke’s homemade crack. And it works! Everything goes back to better than normal, and if the characters were going to write a final Breakfast Club like letter I think it would go something like this:
Dear Everyone,
We accept that we had to sacrifice our principal, two teachers, and some of our closest friends to fend off an alien invasion. We’ve learned a lot about ourselves in the past weeks.



We learned a dumb jock and a science fiction geek can fall in love if he quits the football team and she stops dressing like there was a sale at Hot Topic. 


The head cheerleader can love a nerd if he saves the world from aliens first.


 I guess we learned everyone will look the other way on Zeke and Miss Burke’s relationship because he’s a graduating senior, but some of us still find it gross.


 But I guess the biggest lessons we’ve learned are to always be wary of outsiders, and when life hands you problems, they can be solved with drugs. Lots of drugs.

A bit of trivia: The Faculty was Usher’s film debut, so we’ll leave you with Usher, looking like a thespian. 
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Tyler Perry’s The Single Mom’s Club (2014

The most popular piece of writing advice that gets bandied about is “write what you know.” Tyler Perry heard this advice and confidently went, ”nope.” We present to you: Tyler Perry’s The Single Moms Club, as written, directed, and acted like someone who has never met a single mom. Or had children.
A staple for any Tyler Perry movie is to have about 17 characters, give each a terrible secret/unbelievable obstacle to overcome, and then they overcome it. It feels good, but only if you don’t look at the gaping plot holes and don’t ask too many questions.
The movie begins with five single moms being called into a conference with the principal of their children’s school.  “And where are the fathers?” asks the principal. Where indeed? Maybe these kids wouldn’t be smoking and tagging the school with graffiti if some dads were around (a little heavy handed Mr. Perry, but I get your meaning).

As punishment the principal makes the moms plan a charity event. Wait, what? The moms get in trouble? And the principal is going to trust five random ladies with a fundraising event for her fancy private school?  These are single moms who can barely make it to a conference on time! They can’t handle this! The moms get together and decide that it’s hard being a single mom and they should take turns watching the kids so the other moms can go sing karaoke and go to strip clubs. This is the basis for a club. Who are these women? 
This is May Miller. She’s a writer, has a son, and is being pursued by Tyler Perry’s character. We start with her trying to pitch a book, being rejected, and running late for the meeting at her son’s school. 
Heavy Handed Stereotype: Let’s start with desperate for a man. Tyler Perry shows up AT HER HOUSE, and she finds it charming rather than unsettling. May is the only mom who is late for the conference at school, so let’s add “frazzled” and “too much on her plate” to the single mom stereotypes.
Deep Dark Secret: Her son’s father is a drug addict.
Crazy Drama: When her son runs away to see his dad (whatever you do May, DO NOT call the police when this happens. Go home and wait after you call his name a few times!) May gets mad at the other mom who was supposed to be watching her kid. Then her “pride” keeps her from talking to the other moms – maybe because you acted like a psycho May?
Conclusion: Say you’re sorry to the other moms and everything goes back to normal.
This is Hillary Massey. She’s divorcing a lawyer, having to fire her maid, and has a crush on her next door neighbor. White people problems. Amirite? She seems to solve her problems by crying and drinking wine.
Heavy Handed Stereotype: Clueless white lady. Has three kids but can’t take care of them without the help of a housekeeper.
Deep Dark Secret: Her daughter loves the maid more than Hillary.
Crazy Drama: She loses May’s son, because when Hilary was supposed to be babysitting she was sitting on the porch flirting with her neighbor. To be fair, all the kids were asleep, but shouldn’t rich white ladies own a baby monitor or some kind of surveillance equipment?
 Conclusion: Just be a better mom I guess? Her kid likes her better, and Hillary cries less. And date your neighbor because it’s convenient and you’re both attractive.
This is Lytia Wright. She has five kids, no car, and her two oldest are in prison. She is also sassy, loud, and a waitress at what I can guess is a Waffle House. She’s got a customer that tries to woo her by bringing her a funeral wreath. Her life is exactly what kind of life you can expect to have when you wear crazy leopard coats without irony. She’s excellent at putting up with Jan’s casual racism.
Heavy Handed Stereotype: If Tyler Perry was going to dress up and play one of the single moms himself, Lytia would be the one. She is loud, “sassy”, and lower middle class (but with a heart of gold).
Deep Dark Secret: Maybe that her two older kids are in prison? But that’s not exactly a secret, because she reminds her youngest son of it all the time when she’s yelling at him to act right. I wish her secret was something like she used to be a competitive Salsa dancer or was starting a jewelry business, but we don’t have time for character nuance.
Crazy Drama: Lytia won’t let her son play basketball outside, because that’s the gateway activity to robbing a liquor store.
Conclusion: Let your kid play basketball sometimes and date the guy who gives you a funeral wreath. Your life can only get so good, so take what you can get.
This is Jan Malkovitch. She works in “publishing” because nobody told Tyler Perry this was a dying industry. She’s a “career gal” who spends too much time at work and is wary of minorities, and Jan starts the movie dashing May’s dreams. She has a daughter who is sexually aggressive, but Jan herself hasn’t gotten any in 10 years. She likes to ask other members of the moms club things like “why is your son named after a Jewish holiday?”
Heavy Handed Stereotype: Casual racist. Career gal who is too focused on work to be feminine enough for a man.  
Deep Dark Secret: She can’t sing. You don’t suggest karaoke as an activity if you are tone deaf.
Crazy Drama: She is up for “partnership” in her publishing company but being a mom is getting in the way. Is this even a thing?  

Conclusion: She moves to another publishing firm (really? She has several to choose from? Is everyone unaware of what’s going on in this economy?), spends more time with her daughter, and decides to publish May’s book.
This is Esperanza Luego (because, HEY THIS IS THE HISPANIC CHARACTER doesn’t roll off the tongue like you’d think) and she is also a stay at home single mom. She has a boyfriend who she won’t introduce to her daughter because her ex-husband (Eddie Cibrian!) keeps threatening to take her house away.
Heavy Handed Stereotype: The spicy Latina.
Deep Dark Secret: I guess the fact that she can’t read her divorce decree to find out that her ex doesn’t own the house she lives in.
Crazy Drama: Seriously, Eddie Cibrian won’t give her a break. He buys their daughter a phone and lets her wear makeup. This isn’t “crazy” because all she has to do is say “Lay off Eddie!”
Conclusion: “Lay off Eddie!” and she finally introduces her daughter to her boyfriend.
What have we learned from all of this? There are five kinds of single moms out there and if you can figure out which kind you are and start a babysitting co-op, your problems practically solves themselves.
What are other people saying about this movie? Here is a five star review on Amazon, so you can decide for yourself:
I don’t know why the film wasn’t a hit at the Box Office but it was a hit for me when I watched it at the movie theater with a group of people, it’s not a chick flick, it’s for everyone Men & Women! I thought the acting was phenomenal, the humor worked at every moment it hit, the emotions was surreal and it had a universal story line that I can relate and saw myself in the movie as the men the single moms fell in love with! Keep up the good work Mr. Perry, I think you’re doing a fantastic job!!! Can’t wait for your next production, either it’s Madea or not!!!! I HIGHLY recommend it to everyone, Tyler Perry fans or not Tyler Perry fans!!! Getting this one for my Tyler Perry collection definitely!!!

As you do. 

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Fateful Findings (2013)

Every now and then I come across a movie that’s so bad I have to see it again.

Enter Fateful Findings.

Here’s a little background on this film, in case you don’t know anything about it. Like all great cinema, this was written, directed, produced and stars Neil Breen.  Who’s Neil Breen? For starters, there this:

 Is there anything this guy can’t do?

This is not his first movie. Its his THIRD. What’s the plot, you ask? That’s a great question. Its one I’d like to know myself.  But I’ll try to sort through it. There’s Neil Breen and his a writer who throws books, he’s hacking into government secrets and he’s responsible for a lot of deaths. Also women really want him. Like, bad.

We open with   this boy and a girl, and they find a magic mushroom.

She takes an entire page to write “Its a Magical Day!” in graceful, adult like cursive not often seen in the hands of a child, just to commemorate that they found a mushroom in the woods. Then the boy moves and everyone’s just awkwardly sad. CUT TO:

We meet our hero, Neil Breen:

Like most cinematic multi-talented wunderkinds, this man has chosen to embrace every hard angle on his face and make us love it just as much as he does.  So many ill-framed tight close ups that corner you with the face of Neil Breen.

The movie really gets started when he’s hit by a Rolls Royce in what’s probably the best scene ever made of someone getting hit by a car:

You can watch it twenty times and still not get enough of it.

Its at this point where the plot of the movie goes from “I think I get this” to  “Your guess is as good as mine.”

While in the hospital, he’s visited by a spirit in Sears slacks and wingtip shoes. He’s revived, gets up, still wearing his hospital gown, giving us at home a tasty tease of his backside and walks home.

Yep, because hospitals are find with you wandering out of the facility barefoot, hospital gowned and dripping blood. 
He goes home and gets in the shower complete with bandaged head. I’d like to point out the doctor’s failing to properly tend to a headwound as he was due for a fresh one hours ago. I blame Obamacare.
His wife, a tall lady with an indeterminate European accent gets in with him and they do this weird slow dance. I’ve really learned nothing about the plot based on this. Just like to point out its probably the oddest thing put to film. 
Wives, if you care about your husbands at all, you will take him back to the hospital as he is clearly not well. But this is the world according to Neil Breen. We’re just living in it.
You can’t hold a good Neil Breen down. He’s back to the grind of his every day life, which is apparently a best selling author.
There’s a lot of this movie that was shot in this tiny office. He’s on the phone a lot where he doesn’t talk so much shout a lot.  Please not there are at least three laptops placed in the most inconvenient places possible. I have no idea how he gets anything done. 
Maybe its the head injury…
But he’s getting visited by the ghost who wears sensible suiting separates and gets handed revelations.  I think. We also got treated to a scene of naked Neil in a room covered in garbage bags.  I’m sure it meant something.

Once he’s revived, he decides he has no need for his pain meds and he’s done being a best selling author.  This opens to many many scenes of him throwing books at his laptops that he’s clearly not using.
“NO MORE BOOKS!” he cries. I feel a tingle down my spine as I watch a man become the superhero we’ve all been asking for.
His wife on the other hand has decided to get herself an old fashioned addiction to pain meds and helps herself to Neil Breen’s. There was a scene where she pulled them out of the toilet. Its not many people who will kick off an addiction at the bottom, but again, this is Neil Breen’s world.
He tells his wife that he’s now pursuing hacking into government secrets. No other specifics other than that. Maybe its the meds but she takes this news rather well. She complains about her job at the bank and we’re all very riveted by this domestic drama.
When Neil isn’t hacking into government secrets (his words, not mine) he’s going to a therapist who makes him talk about his deepest feelings in a large corporate boardroom.  Its an interesting form of therapy, but if that’s where you find comfort, then who am I to judge?
Because he wasn’t sure that his wife got it the first time, Neil explains to her that he’s hacked into government secrets and also she needs to get off the pills. She needs them, for her job at the bank.  I’ve never worked at a bank, so I’m going to assume its just non stop stress.
She is a little bit concerned about her husband’s mindset, so she slurs on the phone about it. 
He’s a man tortured – with the choice to buy too many laptops.
Not that it matters, but there’s a subplot with the neighbors – a husband and wife who don’t love each other anymore. He drinks, she also takes a lot of pills and blames her work at the bank (Who knew?) They also have a teenage daughter who has a thing for Neil Breen.
And when you think about it, I mean, yeah. Makes sense.
He wanted to hear about her project on elephants, which is a total panty dropper.
Remember that girl at the beginning? Well, she’s a super hot doctor who has not aged a day past 26 and she shows up to a poolside BBQ and gets a faceful of Neil Breen.
He’s been in love with her since he was eight. 
And because he’s the hero in this story, he takes her into the woods to look at more mushrooms, have sex under a tree and find real happiness.  His wife is at home committing suicide with prescription pills.  
So naturally, Hot Doctor moves in and thinks everything Neil Breen does is great.
And the neighbor brutally murders her husband. Its not really all that important. 
What IS important is that Neil Breen has been called for something higher. After all, its been a week and that’s enough time to get over the death of your wife and your next door neighboor’s murder.
So he goes into the desert and stares at stuff for awhile.
He’s done enough hacking so now its time to get everyone’s attention.
He makes a rousing speech that spurs people to cheers and higher level suicides. He also does it in front of important buildings and not in front of a green screen if that’s what you’re thinking.
We watch people kill themselves and then Neil Breen and his hot doctor ladyfriend wander off into the desert. We’re assuming they’re feeling great about their life choices.
With that being said, I’m going to watch this movie again.
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ENTOURAGE: The Movie (2015)

I’m breaking rules with this post. For one, this is a brand new, big studio film that came out just this summer. Two, its not available to be streamed on Netflix, HBOGo, YouTube or Amazon Prime. We actually paid to rent this through iTunes with my friend, Beth.  Here’s the thing – I started this site with the purpose of finding terrible movies that you might not know existed which are readily available for watching at the click of the Enter button. This movie fulfills all of these quotas:

1) Its a terrible movie. The Rotten Tomatoes reader does not lie.
2)You can now pay to rent it on iTunes and Amazon. Give it a month or two and it will be available on HBOGo.
3) This movie made $32 million over its entire run. Chances are, you might not have known about it.

To prepare for watching this movie, I watched the entire series run of Entourage. Not all at once, mind you, but over the course of a few months. So if you’ve seen the series or even just an episode or two (lets face it, that’s all you need to get the gist is there’s these four really entitled guys who hang out in L.A., have sort of brushes with risk and then end up better than when they started (which was pretty good to begin with.)

WARNING: Aspiring actors, do not try to model your life after Vincent Chase’s. This will never happen to you. This didn’t even happen to Mark Wahlberg.

The poster says it all. Dream big and live larger. I went into this expecting a big first world fantasy.  I was not disappointed.

BAM! Right away we’re thrown onto a awesome yacht party where there’s lots of women and money being tossed around like yesterday’s newspapers.  Some of these women….not even wearing bikini tops.

Okay, Entourage. Not what I would dream big about but since you’re so much smarter than me, how can I live bigger?

MARK CUBAN?

Again, I have never fantasized about hanging out with Mark Cuban with bottles of tequila and cigars, but if I’m supposed to envy these guys and want their life, I guess I’ll throw out all those dreams of a great career and my very own space pony.

I’ll say this for Mark Cuban. He was in two movies this year – this and Sharknado 3, which is more than Nicholas Cage can say.

There’s a guy in a arm sling living his best life right now with two hot babes who want nothing more than to party the day away.  This movie is for guys with minor arm injuries everywhere.

These guys have problems too, you know? Its not all yacht parties and women throwing themselves at them. At the end of the day, they have money to make, other women to hit on, and prestigious movies about DJs of the future battling SWAT teams.

I wish I were making that up, but this is Vincent’s vanity project. He’s a DJ and he throws yellow liquid in the air, people drink it and can fight riot teams with it and his jamming beats.  You guys, this movie’s going to be HUGE.

If only they can get the rest of the funding for it. Its made and its amazing, but they need money for…something.

Never fear. When in doubt, bring in the big guns. Or just Billy Bob Thornton and Haley Joel Osmet carrying thick Texas accents and an affinity for plaid shirts. They’re on board. Its a meeting that goes really really well and it seems like all is well.

OR IS IT?

Haley Joel Osmet comes to Vincent’s party and hits on the Blurred Lines girl, but what are the odds that Vincent’s dating her? (hint: pretty darn good). So, because this is Entourage, he makes Ari cut Johnny Drama’s part from DJs in Love, which is heartwrenching because Johnny just knows that awards season is his this year. And because this is Entourage, he hasn’t earned it. HE DESERVES IT.

The other thing about this movie is there’s about a million subplots happening.

Okay, maybe not a million. But its got to be in the hundreds.  One of them is Turtle stalks Ronda Rousey, future star of the Road House reboot. Stalking celebrities always gets you what you want.  Including a Uber ride directly to their house.

Sure, she made him fight for the right to date her, which he loses. I can’t tell you how that subplot ends because it really didn’t go anywhere. I’m assuming everything was fine and it was none of our business.

Oh, and then there’s the cameos.  Sure, you can dream big, but are famous people popping in and out?

Like, Jessica Alba!

Mark Wahlberg! How’s he involved with this, again?

Was there a focus group that said, “Movies are better when there’s lots of meetings in them”? Because the makers of Entourage must have found that post it note crumpled up somewhere and said, “Guys, we’ve got an idea on how to make this movie much longer!”

Seriously, every ten minutes, there’s a meeting happening or about to happen.  Its like talking to my boss.

Remember that whole on again, off again relationship Eric had with Sloane? I kind of remembered. Mostly I was surprised that I remembered the one female character in this show where we actually knew her name. But here she is, and she’s pregnant and while they’ve broken up again, she still offers to have sex with him. Sure he hooks up with other women at least once a day, but that’s just the way every guy lives. Sure, some of them fake pregnancy and STDs, but at the end of the day, its only the women who are crazy.  Sloane included. She’s the one being unreasonable. I think.

Welp, its been ten minutes. I really wish there was another meeting Ari was setting up.

YES.  Meetings!

What does Ari have to do to get Vincent Chase’s cinematic manifesto, DJs Keep on Spinnin’ seen to the hungry audiences are demanding it?

Perhaps have another meeting?

Let’s do it!

There’s other subplots running around. Johnny Drama got a tape of him jerking off to go viral. And it was during a casting sessions too! Thanks TMZ.

Seriously, thank TMZ. In true Entourage fashion, this is only a stepping stone up in his career. Sure, people laugh, but its not like he’ll stop getting jobs. After all, Vincent will always hire him for anything.

Here’s another subplot. Ari has anger issues and they’re at a therapist to talk about it. Ari takes a phone call, doesn’t apply anything he learns and still wins the movie.

Meeting time!

Here’s the thing – Haley Joel Osmet’s still pretty steamed about that whole Blurred Lines girl thing and he’s still not budging.

So they call another meeting where Haley Joel Osmet would feel more comfortable. In a hotel room, with two naked ladies doing things I won’t describe here. But it works. DJs, DJs, DJs is finally going to be distributed thanks to a multi-million dollar investment from these guys.

Dreaming big and living large. That’s what its all about.

Also, Lloyd’s getting married and wants Ari to walk him down the aisle. Because that’s a normal request you make to a boss.

Eric’s baby daughter  is born and they name her Ryan Murphy because I’m assuming the creator of Glee won a bet with Mark Wahlberg.

Is this still part of that living large and dreaming big? Because I am! I finally am!

In the end, the movie’s a huge hit and sweeps all the Golden Globes because that’s what awards voters are hungry for. And Johnny Drama wins a Golden Globe! This is exactly what would happen if a movie about a sci fi DJ went head to head with 12 Years a Slave and Gravity, and then WON.

This on the other hand was a movie about meetings and carefully put together ensembles. I think we all learned a little something about living large.

Wait, Tom Brady and Kelsey Grammer were in this?

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Why Did I Get Married? (2007)



To call Tyler Perry presents Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married? starring Tyler Perry “ham handed” would insult the graceful subtlety of ham. Thank you Netflix for making this train wreck available in the month of September. Buckle up.



This is Janet Jackson and she wrote a book called Why Did I Get Married, just in case one minute into the film you forget what it’s called. Each year JJ, her husband, and their three closest couple friends take a vacation together, a “relationship retreat” if you will, and she used all of them as characters in her book. My favorite part of this scene is when a student asks a question about one of the couple and JJ’s all “I don’t like to talk about my friends.” Also, like EVERY OTHER CHARACTER, Janet has a deep, dark secret.

Oh well, off to vacation with friends!


Couple number 1: This is Tyler Perry and his wife. He’s a doctor and she’s a lawyer, and while you think about all which 1980’s sitcom that was lifted from, let’s go ahead and start spilling secrets because there is so much going on in this movie you’ll need some kind of chart or graph to keep up. He wants another child (even though he did a secret paternity test on the first one! Oh no he didn’t!) and she secretly had her tubes tied (I guess that’s possible?) because she loves her career.

This is Jill Scott and her husband. See that woman behind her? That’s her husband’s “employee” that he’s bringing on the couple’s retreat with them (oh no he didn’t!). The first time I saw this movie I thought the husband was a bad character, but upon more reflection I think he’s a nice guy to take care of a mentally challenged lady who can’t see what’s going on. Also, Jill is asked to get off the plane because she’s too big for one seat, and her husband is all “you drive to Colorado. Me and my employee will meet you there.” That’s no way to start a week of reflecting on your marriage, sir.


This is Angela and her ex-NFL player husband Marcus. His name is easy to remember because she is always yelling at him. She’s also almost always drunk. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that Angela is hands down the best character in this movie. Side note: Angela is portrayed by Tasha Smith, and she teaches an acting class in LA. Want to learn how to yell “Marcus!” with conviction? Now you can!

Moving on…


Everyone arrives in Colorado, and the ladies are all “Men! Amirite?” and “Where is Jill Scott and why did her husband bring another lady on our vacation?” and “I hate my husband’s babymomma.” I like how Tyler Perry doesn’t use stereotypes and cliché as a crutch. Note that this movie was made in 2007, when we all had a much more liberal view on wearing fur.

 The men are all “I cheated and now have an STD!” “My wife works too hard!” “I don’t like my wife, but my secretary who came with me sure is nice…” Is your head spinning yet? Intrigue! Now we learn about the 80/20 rule. Tyler Perry lets us know that the most you get from someone is 80% of what you want. If you go looking for the other 20% that’s missing, you lose 80 and only get 20. I’m no mathematician, but that sounds like some inspiration that belongs on a poster.
Here comes Jill Scott finally. Good to see that the local sheriff is accompanying her on the last leg of her journey. The vacation can only get better from here.



 No it doesn’t. Despite the sheriff being black, apparently the only other black people this store clerk has seen are from rap videos, so she walks right up to our heroes and lets them know that she “doesn’t keep money in the store.” Yes. The women wearing gauche furs are going to rob you.

This is the dinner where all the secrets are revealed! Cheating! STDs! Paternity tests! Divorce! Can I interject here that for a group of couples that do a vacation every year specifically to work on their marriages, none of the lessons seem to have gotten through? I blame Janet Jackson’s skill as an…author? Marriage counselor? Professor? What does she do exactly? End of vacation.


The marriage retreat was a big bust, because Marcus is fed up with Angela drunkly yelling at him and his ex all the time and Anglea is embarrassed at Marcus’ fashion choices. Why are we tucking a tie dye Affliction shirt into our jeans?


Jill Scott stays in Colorado with the sheriff after her husband asks for a divorce. Sure. If I didn’t realize that my husband was cheating on me with a woman he brought on our vacation, I would be so embarrassed that I moved out of state.  


Ah, Janet can fix things! After her friends come to her asking what to do about their relationships, we realize why she is an author and speaker. Janet tells her friends to make a pro/con list about their relationships and decide based on that. What!?! C’mon Tyler, you’re not even trying. 


The men aren’t much better. Janet’s husband gives them all another version of the 80/20 rule, and they complain some more about their relationships. Does any of this help? I guess so, because…


Months later (?), everyone shows up to support Janet getting some kind of book award. Even Jill Scott, who forgot to tell everyone that she stayed in Colorado and got remarried to the sheriff. Maybe some of Jill’s “friends” should have checked in with her a little more.

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Crossroads (2002)

I took this on with some trepidation.

Yes, this is Crossroads, aka the Britney Spears movie. It was released thirteen years ago during a time where there was no one on Earth bigger than her.  It was also during a time where my cynical self was in a “I only listen to REAL music” phase and found to even give her my time was the equivalent to selling out.

Which brings us to present day where I sat down and finally watched this slice of an era that doesn’t exist anymore.  I came out with my mind broadened and an appreciation for everyone who worked on this film.

Side anecdote, I was once booked in a comedy show with a girl who looked a lot like Britney Spears.  When someone brought it up, she informed us that years back, she was on the same label as Britney, was geared up for a music career and then was dropped when the label didn’t feel like they could support two blondes with a penchant for low rise jeans and crop tops.  She was drunk and bitter and when it came time to do her set, she went on stage and did ten minutes of Britney Spears impressions.  The crowd was nonplussed but I was fascinated.

Back to Crossraods.  Don’t get me wrong, its a terrible movie that’s weirdly dark and horrifying. The fun happy poster that you’re looking at is not the actual movie. Instead, its the story of dreams stolen by other people, a girl with an eating disorder and another girl who travels across the country to face her rapist.

Here was my first kicker. This was written by Shonda Rimes.

Yes – THAT Shonda Rimes. Really makes you wonder about the world we live in today.  Also, explains a lot with the whole traumatized teenage girl thing.

We open with a flashback of three girls burying crap in someone’s back yard. As you do at that age. One girl puts in bridal Barbie, one girl puts in a locket and the other puts a keychain with globe on it. They promise to be friends forever and then bury the box under about four inches of dirt, which we all know is the most secure way to keep something for a long period of time.

And then we get to this part:

We all know why this movie was made, right? I don’t need to harp on and on about the exploitative nature of the machine that was Britney Spears from 1999-2007, right?

On a unrelated note, props to Britney to following her own directions. She put up a sign in her bedroom instructing her where she couldn’t stand and she obeyed it.

Zoe Saldana is in this. So is Justin Long and Taryn Manning.  This movie is a who’s who of people would later go on and be fairly big deals in their field. This movie likes to pretend that all that matters is Britney, but oh no. You do not put in people like Gamora and Pennsatucky and ask me not to acknowledge it.

Story wise, Britney and Zoe now hate each other despite bury stuff together in backyards so many years ago. Zoe’s the pretty popular girl and apparently this is the universe where Britney is nerdy and bookish.  How will they ever get along?

Maybe if we go and dig up our old crap, that’ll jog our memory.

Not only does it work, but when Pennsatucky asks them to go to Los Angeles the next day so she can go to an open audition for a record label, there’s some hesitation until Britney and Zoe remember that Britney has a mom in Arizona she’s never seen and Zoe has a fiancee at UCLA that never calls her back.

So naturally, a roadtrip is in order. And what’s a roadtrip without a cool drink of water like this knitted cap of hunkiness?

I don’t remember this character’s name. I do know his real name is Anson Mount and he’s on a show about trains these days.  The important thing about his character is that he served jail time for possibly murder but definitely for carting a minor across stateliness. So we’re good for letting him drive other minors across state lines.
The pros for having him around are that he has a car and he’s a mechanic. Something that sort of fails when the car breaks down and Britney has to tell him what’s wrong with it.  Being teenagers who don’t think plans through, they don’t have any money which naturally means they have to find some karaoke contest nearby to perform in.
Naturally in this universe, there’s always a karaoke contest and in it you’re an amazing singer.  Given that this was Penssatucky’s dream, she naturally was going to be front and center, but she gets nervous and can’t do it. Britney is Britney Spears. She’ll do it and the crowd will dig whatever she does.

 And this being the rules of the universe, they raise all the money they need. And then some, because now they can afford a hotel room.

They stay up all night talking about how Pennsatucky got raped and how Gamora has a eating disorder because of her mom. Also Britney is a virgin. Not sure if we were all clear on that last point.

Speaking of which, this movie makes it pretty clear why this guy came on the trip. Its not his car fixing skills. You get one guess.

I’ll wait here….

Okay then…

Is there a “Southern University”? Both my heart and the internet says no, but this movie says yes, so I don’t know what to think.

So Britney writes poetry. Its just the lyrics to “Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman”. She reads them out loud and when that happens, it doesn’t read like poetry. It reads like a 14 year old’s diary who just happened to rhyme the word “Time” and “Mine”.  Doesn’t matter. Anson is knows exactly what he’s doing and will therefore act super impressed at her writing skills.

I have never done this with anyone, much less at a gas station. Do people really do this in real life?

Despite the fact this road trip has felt like its taken maybe a day and a half, they’ve reached Arizona and Britney’s about to go meet her real mother. Its a complete surprise drop in and only in this universe would you know the exact address and the fact that your real mom happened to be home at that time.

Mom of course being Samantha from Sex and the City who now wears outfits that are color coordinated with her home decor. Britney, on the other hand looks as though she’s arrived to be the human Easter egg to be hidden for the kids to find.

Plot wise, Samantha informs her that she doesn’t want Britney, doesn’t want to know her and has three other kids that she likes way better.

So thanks for dropping in, Britney!

So what’s a girl to do? Well, you drive to Malibu and give your virginity to that one guy who pretended to like your crappy poem.  He even tinkered on the piano to make some melodies to go with it.  Clearly, you’re acing this whole decision making process, despite being overprotected by your father, Dan Aykroyd.

I like a man who’s experienced about carting underage girls over statelines too.

This movie has promised me that this movie isn’t all about Britney, so we follow Zoe and Pennsatucky to UCLA to visit Zoe’s fiancee where this movie takes a cold hard turn into the darkness of the soul.  She catches him cheating on her AND realizes that he date raped Pennsatucky, making this two for one in the coincidence department.

What makes it worse is that Pennsatucky comes face to face with her rapist and trips on carpet causing her to lose the baby.

GUH.

The worse part of this is that its treated like such a flyaway C plot. Sorry Britney virginity – but this is a more pressing issue and a way better movie.

Also an interesting way to link this to the Orange is the New Black universe.

The movie quickly skips over this horrifying incident and to the big record label audition.  After all, the whole reason this trip happened was so that Pennsatucky could be the first pregnant pop star (her words, not mine, and also she wouldn’t be the first).  But if we learned anything from the karaoke scene, she’s not as pretty or wanted as Britney, so naturally, she gives up yet more dreams.

If they had reedited this movie so Pennsatucky was the hero and Britney was the villain, it would have been waaaaay better.

No matter.

Britney does her awkwardly titled “Not a Girl” song with a full band accompanying her and her friends as back up (adding further insult to Pennsatucky). We don’t know exactly what happened from there, but we’re guessing everything worked out perfectly which is what you should expect when you runaway from home, hook up with the first guy you meet and use other people’s misfortunes to get a showbiz career.

Lessons learned all around.

Did you know I wrote a book? Its called The Girls Guide to the Apocalypse and can be purchased in either physical or digital versions from Amazon, Barnes and Noble or iBooks. Its got a lot of positive buzz and if you like my snarky sensibilities here, then it might be for you.  No pop stars were injured in the making of it.

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