Saturday, June 20, 2015

No Phone Zone

Sometimes I open my mouth and my mother comes out. Sometimes I look around at my family and my father channels through my brain.
Dad was “lace curtain Irish” when it came to appropriate behavior and etiquette, for the most part anyway, but he was known for a few ‘shanty’ moments throughout his life.
As I remember, he was fascinated with emerging technology as long as it didn’t interfere with dinnertime and gathering around the table. In the days of one single telephone and one single television to service an entire household he held his ground that there should be nothing to interfere with dinner. At meals the television was turned off and should the telephone ring during dinnertime, you had two choices – don’t answer it or answer the phone, announce ‘we’re having dinner’ and hang up.  There was no voice mail or answering machine. There would not be any telephone conversation while we were having dinner.
Watching television was a shared family activity and there was only one television. We sat together, in the same room, the parlor. The best seat was usually on the floor, leaning against the sofa, with a dog right next to you, because if a sibling was sitting next you that usually ended up being a nudgey argument with something like, “WILL YOU STOP TOUCHING ME” or “MOVE OVER, YOU’RE TOO CLOSE”, as if an open floor was not enough space. Those were good times.

Recently,  I looked up from my own dinner and saw that four out of six members seated at the dinner table each had an active electronic device sitting just to the left of their dinner plates and one of them is only nine years old. While they shoveled food with their right hand they scrolled screens with their left. I felt Dad coursing through my brain and out came, “Turn off those phones and put that tablet away.”
As if I woke them from a nap, their foggy response was, “Huh?”
“ I said, put your phones away and no tablet at the dinner table.” At first, they all looked at me as if I was kidding. Then, I really had their attention with, “No more electronic devices at the dinner table.”
They patronized me and put them away. Then there was actual conversation for a few minutes.
Later, while cleaning up I noticed two people multi-tasking clean up and dishes and each had a phone either in hand or at their ear.

Dad rose up in me again. I went into the office and printed off this sign.

I posted it strategically at all four corners of the room. 

The first reaction was, “Seriously? You’re really doing this?”

“Seriously. I did it. Do not take those signs down. There will be no electronic devices in this kitchen or else I will stop cooking for you.” 
That gets them every time, gotta hit ‘em where it hurts. The stomach is needier than that phone.

Dinnertime is once again a chance to recap our day and conversation is actually the spoken word and not a text.  There is also sometimes a nudgey conversation between sisters, “Will you move over, you’re too close to me,” or “That’s my seat. MOMMY, she’s sitting in MY seat.”

Thanks, Dad.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Entourage: the Movie, the Fans Will Love It. No Spoilers.

Let me start off with a disclaimer; I am not a fan of Entourage. 
The stretch of eight seasons on HBO was more than enough for me to sometimes suffer through while my husband giggled like a schoolgirl at the ‘boys will be boys’ antics and humor of locker room jokes. 
When I hung around to watch the show with him I found I would be rolling my eyes as he giggled and guffawed. The early seasons of Entourage were the better ones - most fans agree on that. 
Like young friendships, there is a time to move on and live an adult life and if you’re lucky some those friendships return and resume where you left off and that is what the next chapter is about in Entourage: the Movie.
The movie doesn’t pick up years later in the Vinnie Chase brat pack, loosely based on Mark Wahlberg and his crew of boyhood friends, but does pick up after a few life changing events that develop each of the characters as they continue to ‘grow up’. Some things don’t change. Johnny Drama is still struggling to gain validation as a true Hollywood actor. Ari Gold is still battling his humongous ego and control issues while trying to be the husband his wife wants. Lloyd Lee is no longer Ari’s assistant and has moved on with his own success. Eric is ever the cordial gentleman but still the accidental stud. Vincent Chase is the pretty boy who always has a beautiful girl hanging on his arm, and finally Salvatore Assante, aka ‘Turtle’, who has become the most financially successful of the boys, noted at the start of the movie, with a windfall partnership with Mark Cuban selling tequila, the spirit of choice through out the show. 
Speaking of which, Avion tequila is a very smooth tequila and makes a frequent appearance through out the movie, mostly on Marl Cuban's tee shirt.

In the movie the humor is still gratuitous. The nudity of the expected collection of beautiful groupies is still there for the ogling. The collection of cameos of notable personalities and Hollywood A-listers are all still there. What else would you expect in a movie about Hollywood and the folks who are trying to ‘make it’?
Let us not forget there is an element of truth in humor. Entourage was supposed to be a tongue in cheek look at what it’s like to live and work in Hollywood and the entertainment industry. I think the cable show entertained better early on than in its later seasons, but the depictions of the characters and the shallowness of what goes on was developed in the movie regardless of the critics. The critics slammed this movie. Maybe they slammed it because the people who made the show continued the message to the movie. People don’t change, but they can evolve. Being human is a process. Hollywood is a mecca of shallow people. Entertainment is a shallow business, but it still makes money. Hollywood also depends on other people’s money to make movies and it’s the Texas money of father and son team Larsen and Travis McCredle, played by Billy Bob Thornton and Haley Joel Osment. Osment played a rich kid brat who reminded me of an unkempt and chubby Brandon Hantz from Survivor: South Pacific. He’s pissy, prickly and entitled.
Haley Joel Osment played the part well, Travis was supposed to be unlikable and Osment nailed it.

My favorite characters were Johnny Drama and Arid Gold.
Drama is the super talented home cook but still painfully pining to be a movie star. Ari knows what he has to do and he ‘fffing gets it done”.

Lloyd Lee makes brief pop-ins throughout the movie tasking his homophobic ex-boss to be a part of his wedding to Greg Louganis(uncredited).

I liked this movie because of the sameness of the characters. Most people I know acknowledge they have ‘work to do’ on themselves, but it’s rarely the first thing they think about when they get up in the morning. That is what is in the magic of coffee.

The Entourage story is about binding friendships and loyalty. If you were a fan of the TV show, you will certainly be a fan of the movie. It is a continuation of the series. What else could it be? There are plenty of women in this flick, all of them beautiful, but the movie isn't about them. It's all about the boys.

Stay for the credits.