Friday, August 14, 2020
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Chatty Talk with Elise

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Kim K and Khloe K
Credit to JustJared.com

Well, well, well …Drake is no longer wiping his tears from his poor attempt to win over Rihanna … because he has a new lady love. None other than the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’s Tatyana Ali! They were just spotted getting cozy at the Supperclub, in LA a few short days ago! The only reason you should take this somewhat serious is because it was Drake’s birthday celebration… Could Tatyana be the new birthday cake?Additional Pic
Chris Culliver may be heading to the Super Bowl but he’s not winning any points for his homophobic remarks! So he apologized, SO WHAT! Actions speak louder than words buddy, stop with the hate & try some love. Kids look up to you, clown!Additional Pic

Brandi Glanville is at it again! When will this girl realize, nobodyyyy cares about her or her sad excuse for a life.  Well, I guess we are talking about it so we just like talking smack on her. To get back at her sexxxy (ex) hubby Eddie Cibrian,  she had a $12,000 vajayjay rejuvenation & charged it to his card!  Surprise! Well, well, well.. Looks like someone is looking to get skanky, I mean sexy, with some guys soon.

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Kim K. We get it. You are pregnant. To Kanye. We don’t care anymore. Congratulations.  Go away.Additional Pic
Lindsay Lohan – So, we all know she’s in court for killing someone, or something… with a car.. while drinking. But what some don’t realize is that she’s become so trashy apparently hotels won’t even allow her to stay there. She was refused from Santa Monica’s Shutters AND the Loews Hotel but can you blame them? Would you want that sleeping in your hotel & giving you a bad name? I think NOT! Especially when your party animal troll of a mom is always around. Baggage City!Album Cover

30 Rock Goes Out With a Bang after 7 Seasons

30 Rock Cast Shot
Source: NBC
30 Rock Cast Shot
Source: NBC

Last night marked the series finale of 30 Rock after seven long seasons, and the show ended as it lived: full of rapid-fire humor, Tracy Jordan’s antics, Jack Donaghy’s classic manipulative tricks, and Liz Lemon being as neurotic and frantic as possible.

The first half of this double header finale revolved around Jack Donaghy’s quest for happiness and Liz adjusting to being a stay at home mom. Neither goes particularly well as Liz immediately starts a fight on a moms only message board (with an anonymous poster that happens to be her husband nonetheless), while Jack goes off to formulaically fill out a pie chart with various things that are “supposed” to make him happy (such as faith, hiring a guy off the street to co-anchor for today, and a threesome with Nancy Donovan and Elisa. Despite filling in his happiness pie chart entirely, after reaching a number of goals (including an angry screed by Nancy Pelosi), Jack feels more disappointed than ever and leaves the job that he worked his entire life to get. Conversely, Liz and Criss come to realization that Liz would make the better breadwinner of the couple and Liz goes off to find a new writing gig. This ultimately leads to Liz and Jack getting into the most tumultuous argument in the seven year run of the show after Liz feels betrayed by the fact that Jack made her “want more” (in terms of dreams, expectations, and generally not settling).

Tracy and Jenna on the other hand, formed the backbone of the show’s two B-plots. Jenna attempts to adjust to the show’s cancellation by throwing Jenna-style tantrums but cannot cope with the fact that absolutely no one is listening to her. As a result she tries TV (only to be forced to play roles like corpses) and movies (only to find everyone in Los Angeles is younger and prettier than her). Tracy meanwhile is upset that Kenneth is not around to do him a favor as he used to in his positions of both page (and janitor), leading to a heartwarming moment where he “releases” Kenneth from his entourage.

The second half of the show revolves around a major plot development that occurs in the first half with Liz having to put up one final show of TGS in order to fulfill a contract obligation to Tracy Jordan. However, a monkey is thrown in a wrench when Tracy runs away in order to ensure the show never happens, unknowing of a hefty penalty in his contract that would be owed to him if the show does not reach the 150 episode milestone. As a result, Liz has to chase him down in order to shoot the final episode. Liz ultimately finds Tracy in a strip club, where Tracy is running from the show in order to avoid having to say goodbye.

Meanwhile Jack is trying to patch up with Liz after the tumultuous argument that occurred at the end of the first part of the show. This ultimately leads to Jack hitting rock bottom and various cast members wondering if Jack was looking to off himself. However, this turns into Jack’s final manipulative game, as Liz finds him boarding a boat to find his true bliss, only for it to turn into the shortest boat trip of anyone’s life after deciding to push a “see-through dishwasher”.

The show’s final C-plot involves Frank and Toofer trying to get Lutz to move off of Blimpie’s when he got to choose the writers’ final lunch. Nothing however will work to make Lutz not pick Blimpie’s as he chosen it for revenge after all of the hell the other writers have given him over the past seven years (until Liz, who is tyrannical about food throws Lutz in her office tells Cerie to order sushi and dessert). However, Lutz takes the ultimate of measures to ensure that the writers’ will eat Blimpie’s, come hell or high water.

The finale as a whole impressed, often juggling four plot lines through both halves of the show, with neither section feeling particularly crowded, and giving every cast member a proper send off, be it Jonathan finally screaming at Liz how Jack was all his, Pete’s attempt at faking his death, and Tracy’s father finally returning from buying that pack of cigarettes. This comes as no surprise, however, as 30 Rock has done an excellent job this entire season of wrapping up lingering plot arcs, whether it’s Kenneth’s final rise to the presidency of NBC (a long term callback to a remark Jack mentioned in which he stated that “Kenneth will be running this company in five years”), Jack’s final realization that despite her salty interior, his mother was really caring for him the entire time, or Liz’s adoption arc that mysteriously fell off the face of the earth somewhere in the middle of season three.

The (in this case, absolute) final verdict: 30 Rock went out with the sort of ending that a show of it’s caliber deserved. Despite the massive changes that many of the major characters had over the course of the show, it took lengths to prove that it’s central characters (Jack, Liz, Kenneth, Tracy, and Jenna) were still at their core the people that they were at the start of the show. As has been the case all season, the show managed to neatly tie up a number of unresolved loose plot lines, whether it’s Jack’s unresolved love life or the Liz Lemon adoption arc that disappeared from consciousness over the past couple of seasons. A terrific sendoff (and the first of many this season for NBC’s Thursday night lineup) for a show that was fearlessly frenetic and funny.

Mama Gonna Creep You Out: Review of the movie Mama

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Mama
Mama the movie

This past weekend I paid the ridiculous $12.50 to go see the 2013 horror movie MamaMama is co-written and directed by Andres Muschietti, co-written by Neil Cross, and produced by Guillermo del Toro.  The movie has a dark, cold feeling to it.  The colors all seemed very ominous and frigid.  The special effects were mediocre and the soundtrack was not memorable.

Mama
Mama the movie

The story begins with a wall street broker gone rogue who shoots his work partners and then returns home to execute his wife.  After brutally murdering his wife, Jeffrey, proceeds to kidnap his 2 daughters, Lilly and Victoria. The three of them flee in his Mercedes and, because of the icy roads and Jeffrey’s manic state of mind, crash into the woods.  Of course, he finds a cabin to hide out in, because there’s always an abandoned cabin in an isolated wooded area (yes, I am being sarcastic).  Turns out, the cabin is already inhabited by “Mama.”  Mama is the ghost of a mental patient from the 1800’s who escaped and kidnapped her baby from an orphanage.  Mama isn’t too fond of Jeffrey and he “disappears”,so Mama looks after his 2 daughters.

Cut to 5 years later.  Lilly and Victoria are found in the woods, because of their Uncle Luke’s relentless efforts, and, after some psychiatric treatment, move in with their uncle Luke (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and his girlfriend Annabel (Jessica Chastain).  As one can imagine, the girls have adapted to living in the woods and the younger of the two, Lilly, being an infant when she was brought into the woods, walks on all fours and can barely speak.  The elder daughter Victoria is slightly more adjusted.  The creepiest part of this movie was the way the girls walked and spoke.  Lilly contorts her body in ways that seem very unnatural.  Also, the sounds Lilly made were completely unnerving, think The Grudge and Signs.  Eventually, the girls start speaking to “Mama” and playing with her.  The first entrance of “Mama” was actually unexpected and terrifying, causing everyone in the theater to jump out of their seats and scream, followed by a rolling laughter.  Although the ghost looked a little to digital for my taste, she was disturbing nonetheless.  Distorted face and disjointed limbs.  The movie reaches its climax when we find out “Mama’s” story and her jealousy, over taking care of Lilly and Victoria, causes her to attack any adult in her way.  The ending was actually quite unexpected and almost brought a tear to my eye.  But you’ll have to see it I don’t want to spoil the whole thing for you!

Mama definitely had its scary moments.  I would define it more as creepy than scary.  The acting was actually pretty good, especially by the youngest daughter Lilly, played by Isabelle Nélisse.  I have to say, as a horror movie buff, that I haven’t seen many good frightening flicks made in the past decade or so, but Mama was worth the watch, but maybe not the $12.50 movie ticket.

Album Review: Mountains – Centralia

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mountains-centralia

Mountains:          Centralia

Score:          8.5/10

 

Similar Artists:          Emeralds, Tangerine Dream, Tim Hecker, Fennesz

Genre:          Kosmiche, Space-Rock, Experimental Ambient

 

A first for my album reviews, I gave this a go with neither listening to any of “Mountains” previous work, nor knowing what style of music they played. My reasoning behind this was for the sake of removing preconceptions from the music, and allowing myself a clean slate in which to hear it. For some reason, I was expecting “Centralia” to be either “Godspeed” post-rock or “Crystal Castles” arcady synth pop. I found out that I had much more work cut out for me when it turned out that “Mountains” are more indebted to the Kosmiche of “Tangerine Dream”, or more recently, the now defunct “Emeralds”.

Brendan Anderegg and Koen Holtkamp of “Mountains” build their sound through the use of insurmountable synths/guitar. The Brooklyn based band creates effervescent soundscapes with a deeply textured, ever-changing electronic palette. While many spacey synth/guitar duos have been known for impromptu, half improvisational affairs, “Mountains” stand out (much like Julia Holter’s work) because it is organized and flows naturally from one theme to the next. Fear not, for this does not mean they don’t delve into the trippy, kaleidoscopic or hallucinatory; terms you would certainly use to describe the impeccable, 20 minute long centerpiece “Propeller”. The scene that “Mountains” are a part of is a cluttered one to say the least, but because of the fastidiousness that went into the production work, “Centralia” stands out among the band’s peers.

Centralia’s beauty is shown off quickly on 11 minute opener “Sand”. The heavy, stylized production incorporates whirring synths and a zoned out keyboard refrain. Near the end of the piece, the elements are washed out by swelling orchestral strings. These strings seem particularly demanding of one’s attention for how rarely they are used to such delirious affect in music of this variety. The album progresses to include other, surprising, instrumental forays, such as the arpeggiated acoustic guitar on “Identical ship” or “Tilt”, and the huge, feedback laden, black metal guitar chords on “Liana”. “Living Lens” ends the spaced out journey with a slice of delectable ambient wash. Highlights are abundant, so picking apart the album by playing tracks separately or out of order is not recommended.

It is easy for an artist to become engulfed in the random when dealing with music this massive, but everything on this album sounds necessary. There are no cacophonous yowls or overly drenched atmospherics. If there ever was a veil to curtain the talent of these two artists, it is surely pulled away on “Centralia”, and my god have they got some!

Track Listing:

1.) Sand*

2.) Identical Ship

3.) Circular C

4.) Tilt

5.) Propeller*

6.) Liana*

7.) Living Lens

* – Album Highlight

The Americans Thrives with Thrills and Subtlety

Noah Emmerich (l.) and Matthew Rhys (r.) in The Americans
Noah Emmerich (l.) and Matthew Rhys (r.) in The Americans
Noah Emmerich (l.) and Matthew Rhys (r.) in The Americans
Noah Emmerich (l.) and Matthew Rhys (r.) in The Americans

The Americans 10:00pm Eastern Time, FX

It takes a lot these days to truly blow me away from a pilot. I’m typically the sort of person who believes that the first episode displays what a given show can become, but often is not executed to a degree where that promise is actualized. However, the first episode of The Americans last night managed to completely blow me away.

The show loosely follows both the un-american activities and family life of two sleeper agents in America: Elizabeth (Kerri Russell) and Philip Jennings (Matthew Rhys). Their “jobs” are a sham, their marriage was dictated by their Soviet overlords, and they exist to handle missions for the KGB while living comfortably in suburban Virginia. However, they must balance this while entirely withholding the truth from their neighbors, including a recently relocated FBI agent named Stan Beemer (played by Noah Emmerich) and even their own children.

What I truly enjoy about this show is that it reminds me a lot of Mad Men in that it’s a fairly subtle period piece that truly enjoys exploring the notion of identity. This tension is particularly palpable in the scenes where Philip and Elizabeth are discussing what to do with General Timoshev, a Russian defector whom they kidnapped from his apartment in Washington. Elizabeth remains steadfast in her resolve to serve the motherland, but also would like to off him because of some improprieties he took with her back in training, while Peter seriously considers his offer of defecting under the guise that they have been living this “American” life for half of their lives and that with young children they should consider taking the money and living a more stable life.

Another small positive for the Americans was the amount of detail they put into making the show look and feel like the early 1980’s, whether it be the cheesy wigs used for spycraft (that gave me flashbacks to the music video for “Sabotage”), the use of music (the show makes incredible use of both Fleetwood Mac’s “Tusk” and Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight”), down to even the automobiles (my dad owned a boxy ’77 Cutless Supreme when I was a kid that looked not too far off from the sedan that proves to play a fairly central role in the plot).

The show, while positioned as a serious drama also likes to inject little funny moments into the show to break the tension, be it a seemingly pasted on scene (last night’s showing was an extended version of the pilot) where Philip just starts randomly dancing in the mall, while taking his daughter shopping, or the way that the FBI claims that President Reagan is trying to break them down with 7am meetings.

Where there was action in the pilot (most notably the first ten minutes, where Philip, Elizabeth, and one of their comrades kidnap General Timoshev) the action was tight, well executed and tense, especially once you come to the realization (and it took me a couple of minutes to get to this point) that these are not immigration officers checking on a random Russian, but rather the wholesale kidnapping of a Russian ex-pat.

One aspect that initially grated on me until it clicked, was that most of the action was shot in the dark (to the point where it was almost difficult to see). However, once I came to the (delayed) realization that the entirety of the spy aspects of the show occurred at night and most of the family drama during the day, it made it slightly easier for me to take. The other minor issue I had with the pilot was that it felt bloated at points (as much as I loved the scene where Philip maims the sleazebag who was making moves on his thirteen year old daughter, it felt pasted on and I can’t imagine that the scene made the 44-minute cut)

The Final Verdict: The Americans is a gripping thrill-ride of a show that grabs on to your attention and never lets go. While this version of the pilot felt a little bloated at points (it ran 90 minutes instead of the usual 60), it had the vibe of both a blockbuster action thriller and a subtle period piece all rolled up into one. This show is easily finding it’s way into my regular viewing, and it should really make it’s way into yours. Give it a shot, you won’t be disappointed.

Not so bueno at Yerba Buena

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Tuna tartar, potaro, aji Amarillo,
Tuna tartar, potator salad, aji Amarillo, crispy wonton

What can I say, I just was not impressed. Its really seamed like dad wasn’t home so all the kids were at play. With Chef Julian Medina’s name and reputation I expected the food to be much better than it was, at least when I ate at Yerba Buena.

The service was warm and always with a smile, despite the number of requests my table, unfortunately had to make. Only two menus for three people, only 2 knives, having the request dinner sized plates for dinner. Things like that. But, no matter the request or question every person there was warm eyed and kind. Even when I walked out of the bathroom with toilet paper stuck to my shoe, my server noticed and discretely asked me if he could remove it. (how embarrassing…but thank you!)

I did a full tasting of the NYC Restaurant week menu, with the help of two friends and across the board none of us were impressed by what came out of the kitchen. There was a close competition for the worst dish between the Lechon (suckling pig carnitas) and the Causa de Tuna, but the tuna won.

The menu explains the dish as tuna tartar, potato salad, , crispy wanton. The tuna, oh I feel bad for the tuna. It just treated so poorly, it was grey, tough and not properly chopped. The knife skills show here were only adequate for a child. The pieces were uneven, not always cut the whole way through the membranes and the pieces were just way too large to begin with. The “potato salad” was more of a mashed potato. Which is just not what I would ever want with my tuna tartar. I don’t know why it was even on the plate. All it did was take away from the really nice aji Amarillo sauce that was drizzled across the plate. This bright and vibrant South American yellow chili sauce with the watercress was the best part of the dish.

Tuna tartar, potaro, aji Amarillo,
Tuna tartar, potator salad, aji Amarillo, crispy wonton

The best dish also a fish dish, Parihuela. Which was explained as “Seafood stew, shrimp, fluke, clams, mussels, ginger, Peruvian corn, roccotto.” Here the shrimp was cooked to perfection, but the muscles and clams were overcooked and chewy and the fluke provided a nice contrast in texture against the other fish and the corn. I found myself searching through the soup for more bits of the unique oversized Peruvian corn pieces. I had a lot of fun eating the dish. The broth was aromatic and strongly flavored with corn, ginger and rocket (popular Peruvian salsa base).

All and all I would try another restaurant of Chef Medina but I will most likely be calling a head to see if he is in the kitchen. I am really hoping that he was not in the kitchen the night I ate at Yerba Buena, but any way you slice it the food was below my expectations and I was disappointed.

One area that I was very happy the Yerba Buena with was the fact that the portions were not huge, and the food was not heavy. I was completely satisfied when it came to all of those aspects of the meal. It was not overly fatty or seamed to be heavy in any sort of butter. There was very little as far as creams and caloric rich foods, yes some of the sauces were not light on calories, but the portions used were great so that I felt as if I could enjoy the whole portion with out the guilt. Who does not love a really great sauce? We can and should all have some wiggle room in our diets for enjoying the scrumptious drizzling, but we should not be be dousing our whole plates in the sauces, thats an easy way to kill a diet.

All and all the restaurant was so close to being great, there were hints of it. For instance, the bar was great. The bartender there really knows how to mix a great concoction. And  I call some the drinks that with some love, because you didn’t have to know what you wanted to order, you could just tell him what you like, the flavors and liquor, and presto, a delicious unnamed drink will appear courtesy of the bartender.  There were so many hints of great, but they were all muted out by the disappointing aspects of the same bit of the evening.

 

 

Catfish the TV Show: Addictive for all the right reasons.

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Catfish
Credit to: www.mtv.com
Catfish
Credit to: www.mtv.com

 

I have to say in recent years MTV has sure put out some shows that I would rather run into a knife than watch, most recently Buckwild and the gem of all gems Teen Mom, which is making thousands of girls pregnant and money hungry as I type this post.  It didn’t seem too long ago when I was growing up that shows like Fanatic, Total Request Live and The Real World (when it was good and documentary-ish) were filling their airwaves of a once thriving network.  Lately though, that sparkle and luster is gone from a network that is completely devoted to programming (why on earth there is still a VMA every year beats me).

Yet, they seemed to have strike it gold with their new reality show “Catfish”, which premiered back in November.  The show centers around its star Nev Schulman, who made the movie of the same name two years ago.  It is based off of people you develop a relationship online, yet never meet in person, or Skype/Facetime either.  His whole purpose of the show was that “Catfish the movie was my story, Catfish the TV show is yours”.  Pretty simple, right? Sure.  Then, no matter what the topic is, shit always gets real and by the end the show has more twists and turns than a bad Lifetime movie (it’s your opinion if that is a good reference, but you get it).

Take the premiere episode.  Cute nursing student Sunny thought she had been talking to a model out in Los Angeles called Jamison for quite sometime.  Her younger sister actually talked to him first.  Yet during the whole eight months they talked, they never did it in front of a camera.  Finally, Nev to the rescue!  After doing some research (he does this in every episode, and it seems like anyone can, just pointing that out there) both Nev and Sunny travel to find that the person they were talking to isn’t a drop dead gorgeous model, but in fact a teenage girl named Chelsea.  Chelsea in return said she made the profile due to the incessant bullying she was dealing with on a daily basis, and wanted to create an alternate life in a way where she felt like she could be accepted.  All hell breaks loose but by the end there isn’t too much harm done and everyone goes their separate ways.

I’m sorry, I would be having serious issues if I was Sunny.  For so many different reasons.  I felt bad for her the whole time but at the same time you have to wake up and realize this person you think you are talking to isn’t real.  Why do I say this? Because just like every other gay man, woman, and even straight man to a certain degree, I have done online dating.  Whether it’s an app or a site, I have been there, and still do.  The thing for me is unless you are far away or there is a chance you are visiting the Tri-State area I don’t really have the need to talk to you beyond a certain point.  It’s not rude, it’s just honest.  If you are in Australia, and ask to see certain parts of me, what is the point? Can’t go through someone’s phone and grab it now right? Ugh, I digress.

I have been in Sunny’s situation where I have talked to guys from far away, and there have been several few exceptions of ones that really get my interest.  But, within two or three days of talking, we always Facetime or Skype.  That way, I know you are real and not cray cray.  Moral of the story to everyone reading this and watching the show is always make sure you know who you are talking to.  That way, you don’t end up sad and really embarassed in front of millions of people.  I think the show is fantastic though for several reasons.  It has done a couple of episodes focusing around the LGBT community, especially transgendered which of all those letters doesn’t really get the most attention.  It’s done in a non-judgemental way and people can see that when they watch the show, so kudos to Nev.

Bottom line, I am hooked.  Watch the show.  Debate it for yourself.

Have you ever been in a catfish situation? What do you think of the show? Sound off!

Dance Moms Recap: More Often Than Not Are Hotter Than Hot

Dance momsIt’s Dance Moms time! Have you been keeping up? In case you haven’t, there have been lots and lots of screaming. All the dancers were replaced and then brought back. Caught up? Good.

The Best Stuff You Aren’t Watching: Portlandia

Carrie Brownstein (l.) and Fred Armisen (r.) stars of IFC's Portlandia
Carrie Brownstein (l.) and Fred Armisen (r.) stars of IFC's Portlandia
Carrie Brownstein (l.) and Fred Armisen (r.) stars of IFC's Portlandia
Carrie Brownstein (l.) and Fred Armisen (r.) stars of IFC’s Portlandia

Portlandia: Fridays at 10p.m. Eastern on IFC

Mike normally reviews new (or recently returned) TV in an attempt to answer the question: Would I watch this again or would I recommend a friend picking up this series? However, once every week or so, the brain trust at Manhattan Digest gives him a little more free reign which he in turn uses to highlight the stuff you should check out (but probably haven’t yet).

I realize right off the bat that I am asking a lot, immediately recommending a show that comes on at 10p.m. on a Friday night, a time when most people are out and about kicking off their weekend, be it with friends, at a bar, or a party. That being said, if for some reason if you are stuck in on a Friday night (it is the middle of winter after all) or have a half hour to kill and a Netflix account or On Demand service I strongly recommend giving Portlandia a spin.

Portlandia is a sketch show that is the brainchild of Fred Armisen (Saturday Night Live) and Carrie Brownstein (of the bands Sleater-Kinney and Wild Ones). The show revolves around the hip, the hippies, and the hipsters that live in the greater Portland area. The show is currently airing it’s third season, with the first two seasons available on DVD (or on Netflix if that’s your sort of thing).

While there is a glut of sketch comedy regularly on TV between SNL, shows on Comedy Central and Adult Swim and the library of classic sketch comedy (be it Kids in the Hall, SCTV or Monty Python) that can be accessed through a variety of different means (be it DVD, YouTube, etc.), Portlandia stands out from the pack because it feels less forced, hackneyed, or reliant on pop culture than many of those similar shows.

The show’s humor comes from a number of sources. First and foremost, the show does a superb job of sending up pretentiousness, whether it’s yuppie parents who feel that their child’s life trajectory is based on getting into a choice preschool, the feminist bookstore owners whom are comically inept in running a retail establishment to the extent that they prefer donations over selling books, or people who create “art” by putting birds on various objects. Similarly, anyone whose ever had to deal with any alt-culture subgroup, be it your garden variety hipster, street punk or someone whose life choices are based off of some sense of moral superiority as opposed to actual intellectual honesty will see those contradictions ring true in many of the show’s characters.

The show’s second main form of humor comes from zany surrealism. This is often seen in a lot of the segments involving the Mayor of Portland (Kyle McLaughlin), who often dispatches Fred and Carrie (playing themselves) on various civic missions for the good of the city, whether it’s ensuring the Olympics never come to Portland, creating the city’s first major league team, or redesigning the police uniforms to give them a softer and less authoritative feel. Similarly, Portlandia has turned the wait for Sunday brunch into a post-apocalyptic wasteland where cutting the line is treated with extreme (and toasted) prejudice.

While there is no serialization inherent in the show, the show truly succeeds in creating a universe that seems as full and vibrant as a show like The Simpsons (which is known for its’ fairly large recurring cast), which is no small feat considering that the bulk of the characters are played by the duo of Brownstein and Armisen. This is critical as it means you can pick up the show at any point (as opposed to a show that runs on in-jokes and callbacks like say Frisky Dingo, or a show with a heavy serial element like Community). That being said, my recommended start point is still the pilot as it opens with one of the shows strongest sketches (The Dream of the 90’s) and really sets the tone of what you can expect throughout the rest of the series.

Choices and Judgement

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It is pretty astounding how common it is that a lot of gay men subconsciously feel they are not good enough and frequently put themselves down to the point where it has become the norm. The years of being categorized as a mental illness and having to hide one’s sexuality are being left behind as society enters an era of more acceptance and understanding. Yet still there is a sense of solitude and misunderstanding that cuts through the gay male community.

Many have written about the gay male community suffering through post traumatic stress disorder as a result of HIV wiping out an absurd amount of gay men, to me this could not be any more true. Now on top of still struggling with self esteem and self worth issues, there is a constant awareness that the natural sex gay men enjoy can lead to a disease that will destroy your immune system without some form of medication to treat it. When it comes to sex the gay male community has been scrutinized more than anyone else, from judgement for sexual choices and preferences to shame for desiring intimate and barrier-free sex. This scrutiny has not only come from people outside the gay male community but from community members themselves.

It doesn’t help that this country carries a deep seeded stigma towards sex, causing many to revolt and take on the complete extreme side of things by being overly sexual. Hence 1968 Summer of Love and the 70s, which were years of being as sexually free as possible. To be clear, I’m not stating there is anything wrong with that. Hedonism is part of our human nature and the more we embrace it the better we can care for it and not let it run our lives. Like everything else, moderation is key. However, is it really surprising that people have taken extreme measures to express themselves sexually after years of being repressed about it?

The same perspective applies to gay men in response to years of sexual restrictions after HIV hitting the community. It is only normal to crave sex without restrictions and when you create an environment where even talking about that desire is put down and ridiculed, well then it all goes underground where no one openly talks about it and people are less likely to be frank around discussions about HIV, STDs and looking at different options to be safer.

In the past few years I’ve heard some gay men refer to condom free sex as a “kinky” – wow, really? Kinky? That’s how far restriction has taken the notion of sex without condoms, where it is considered a kink or a fetish of sorts…as if it is something that is SO out of the normal range. Let’s be real here, sex with condoms is not natural or normal sex. Sex with condoms is simply a way to be safer and feel more protected. Unfortunately the community has let fear get in the way so much so that it has prevented the ability to just talk about the normal desire for sex without condoms.

In a community that still faces strong issues of insecurity and low self esteem, it is imperative that shame and judgement be removed from dialogue when it comes to sex. When people have low self worth and don’t have a safe outlet to discuss sex beyond condoms, the typical outcome will lead to behaviors that only perpetuate more misunderstanding and solitude.

– Alex Brousset, MFTi