Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Join The Club...or stop watching already

also tittled: Don’t Tell Me the Sopranos Are as Good as They Used to Be

This is one of my biggest pet peeves, people who call themselves Sopranos fans but are consistently disappointed by amazing episodes. What are you expecting from this show? Because if you’ve watched the past two episodes of the new season you can’t really ask for more than that, this is television at it’s best and if you’re not digging it, go watch American Idol, play a gory video game, don’t come back to this show until you can appreciate it.

The season opener resolved so much that season 5 left hanging. We’ve now lost the FBI tail because they’ve lost their leads, New York is in prision and functioning with Johnny Sachs talking through the Phil Leotardo, for now. The tension between towns is still heavy but we are made to understand that this is not the time for war, which is part of the glorious part of the mafia. The mafia in the world of Sopranos is outside the realm of American law but functions similarly to a governmental system. Many times the characters have referred to themselves as soilders: Tony being painted as a captain by Paulie, The episode in the fifth season that discusses that even though Tony B has gone against the family they still must protect and serve the family even if they don’t agree because they are an army and all go down together.

Ultimately though, the show is about family. And the Soprano family is growing older. Meadow is engaged and dealing with a relationship ups and downs, Anthony Junior is still hopeless at school but now he looks older, thinner, hipper with long hair, but still has the same pouty face, Carmela is still struggling with her feelings of entrapment in marriage and her project house is literarily falling apart. Janice, now with baby, seems to have given her attitude to her husband. And Uncle Jun’s Alzheimer’s is obviously worse. This all seems to be growth of static and just when you fear that it will all be baby steps.

BANG!

And Tony Soprano is shot down.
The second episode of the season was anything but boring. It was written by David Chase, who not only created the show but frames every season by usually writing one of the beginning and finale episodes of the seasons. His dialogue, setting and pivotal plotted action is pure genius.
The episode was split into two halves, Tony’s coma dream and the family dealing with Tony in the coma.

The coma was beautifully symbolic. The first thing we see is a California wild fire which sets up the idea that he may be in hell. He also sees a screen in the hotel which poses the question “Are Sin, Death and Disease Real?” and then the holy cross flashes upon the monitor. This duality of images on the screens is an indication that he is in limbo, and limbo is the Omni hotel.

Tony is forced to pose as Kevin Infinerty, which is noted that it is very similar to infinity, due to a “wallet/briefcase mix up”. He’s lost his identity, and even the identity he thinks is his own is false. The house he calls has an answering machine with a family that is way too happy and young to be his own. (“Quit picking your boogers!”) When his wife picks up the accent, tone and cadence of the voice is nothing close to Carmela’s (it actually sounds a little like Gloria Trillo, the car dealer mistress who killed herself) and his job is not waste management. With his new identity of Kevin Inferinerty, Tony checks himself into the hotel and in the classic fashion of Tony never getting a break even the false identity isn’t liked. Kevin Infernity is apparently hated by Buddhist monks who he screwed over. He is slapped by a monk.
Tony is trapped between life and death, and his coma dream is uncertain. He’s not sure who he is, or if he should stay. It’s a fascinating prospective of limbo. That has so many nuances that I could barely give them justice by describing.

If that’s not mind blowing enough for you, you’ve got Carmela by his side*, giving the best performance an actress can give. She has to face the fact that they were awful to each other but she needs him. In a magnificent monologue she speaks not only of a time when they were young and in love, but when she used to be, and in fact still is, aroused by his overwhelming strength. This beautiful sincereity is something rarely seen in television drama and should be heralded, not thought of as “boring or dragging”.

The other amazing take away that I’ve hardly heard spoken about it Anthony Juniors parting words to his father. AJ is blaming Uncle Junior for incapacitating his father and he is swearing revenge. If this is a plot line that is actually followed this would be a huge change of direction for the show.

So don’t tell me nothing happened. Great television happened. The Sopranos is a serial drama at its best, not weekly Goodfellas and if you can’t take it, I recommend watching Family Guy and calling it a Sunday night.

*Fun Fact: Edie Falco has played sad wife to a gun shot victim before, and I'm not talking about when Tony was shot in season one. She was on another AMAZING drama Homicide: Life on the Street where she played Thormann's wife who was shot, if you watch the episode "Son of a Gun" you can clearly see the growth in ability.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Chicago Snow

The snow isn't sticking. But it is beautiful.
Sue lives in the backyard of a school. I look out the window into a class room across the way expecting kids to be equally extatic.
SNOW!!! I expect to see little noses pressed against the windows all jazzed for the possibility of sleigh rides and snowmen and forts.
But these kids, these kids are learning. They're all facing forward, some with hands raised. They better be waiting to say "Mrs. so and so, do you see the snow?!? Can we leave early?"
They still do not look out.
I want to get their attention be like "LOOK at the SNOW!!!! Be young and excited!!!!!"
then I realize I can do it for them.
To celebrate the snow we've decided the best vantage point will be to go drink in a very tall building.
Sue's apartment is located in Lincoln Park, a beautiful neighbor hood with a Gap, a Whole Food, and tons of little boutiques. It is also the "mean streets" that the band Linkin Park rose from. In my eyes it makes them even more of an annoying white boy band.
Cool sites I've seen so far:
drove past Soldier Field
saw the city from afar
a pedestrian crossing sign that had a drawing of the stick figure man hoola hoopin' as he crossed*.

*thanks to blythe who not only pointed this out but made us go back to take a picture and hold up traffic...just one of the many stunts that can be tolerated by others thru the careful use of hazard lights on a car.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Another Saturday Night

and I got two buddies at the Liar, so I hop the train for a drink.
A drink, maybe two, or three...
That was at 6pm.
Due to intoxication and the horrible MTA, I ended up not getting home until 2:30 in the morning.
Here is a recap of the night, as I remember it:
7 PM - I walk up to the bar to see Adam smoking a cigar and Tom smoking a cigarette, both look at me like I'm insane. Aparently putting on a long skirt, no matter how dirty it is, is "putting in a lot of effort" on my appearance, I try to explain I'm the same dirty hippie I always am.
Adam tells me he has a bit for me, but I need to catch up on my drinking before I hear it.
7:15 - I start out with a Guiness, I'm not staying out too late or drinking too much tonight, might as well savor the flavor.
8 - I'm drinking Yeingling and discussing new inventions in bandaids.
9 - I'm drinking Bud and finally ready for Adam's comedy bit (I'll tell you it when you're older)
10 - I switch to Bud Lite, I'll watch my weight and my purse. I'm talking to a girl my friend is hitting on, turns out she's more into me. I say no thanks, I get blamed for chasing girls away.
11-Tom declares it's a crazy night, we're all going for the long haul, maybe bar hopping?
11:30 - Adam drops out.
12- Renee is coming out, we're staying at the Liar tonight.
1 am - I'm on an E train to Queens, but I fall asleep. I'm woken up by a nice elderly Indian man who asks me if I really want to be at Union Turnpike, I say no but miss the door, as does he, it's his stop. We go to the next stop and get out together for a transfer. His name is Richie. He's in love with me and wants to take me dancing sometime. I give him a fake number and send him on his way.
1:30 - At roosevelt ave a kid gets on, he's got stars in his eyes, literally, star contacts. They match his shirt. He asks me if the train is express, I say I hope not, he hopes it is.
Kid with stars in his eyes wins, and I end up at Queens Plaza.
2 - No trains coming at Queens Plaza, I join an "I hate the MTA discussion" with two other female Queens residents. A subway pulls up, it's an F train. The F isn't supposed to be at Queens Plaza! I tell the conductor this, then ask him where my train is, he said they stopped running trains local, they made an announcement about it two hours ago.
Super!
2:30 - my fellow females from the hood turned out to be trying to get to the same stop I am going to. Safety-in-numbers-Sue asks if they want to split a cab, we go to the street level and split a cab.

Morals of the story -
  • This whole "I'm going to save money and stop taking cabs" idea is going to be revoked.
  • People in New York are nice, helpful, caring people - not all of them, but I've met more nice than nasty. I think all the nasty ones live on Long Island*

Well, now I'm off to a Sopranos party, expect reactionary blog on that later...


*I am from Long Island so I can mock it as much as I'd like.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

I think I need a bigger box

I need a vacation .

In a rare change of sue funke behavior though, I am actually taking a vacation which doesn't mean time off due to illness or injury. Nope, not this time.
On Wednesday I'm going to leave on a jet plane and head off to a new location; beautiful windy Chicago.
I've never been there and I'm looking forward to checking out if their taco bells still have the cheesey gordita crunch .
Leaving New York City will be hard for me because I'll be leaving my friends (except for Blythe who's coming with me and Sue*), my job, my favorite bar, my comfy new bed, and my beloved television.
Because of this, I've gone out and gotten myself a DVR cable box. It was much like switching out the stone of shame for the stone of triumph. My old box was smaller, lighter, easy to transport to the Queens mall and the new one is bigger, heavier, and a bitch to lug back to my apartment. I can call that "exercise" can't I?

Since I've gotten my DVR I haven't really moved off my couch, I can now make sure I see every program I want to in a day, this could be dangerous. I got it so I'd go out more, but I have a feeling I may soon be saying "I can't come out tonight, I have thirty hours of Homicide and M*A*S*H repeats to catch up on while I dvr the Met game."

There goes my social life, my apologies to the makers of Sam Adams, Jack Daniels, and all my other friends.




*Sue - no, I am not speaking in third person here, I'm talking about my friend, Sue Redman. She moved out to Chicago last year to persue acting, she's an extremely talented actress and a very good friend so I'm stoked to see her, sleep on her couch, and drink free beer at the bar she waitresses at.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Nerd Alert!

Two hours of 24 tonight.
It got a little too intense when at 9:30 there was the X3 trailer that went straight back to 24,
it was a new pants moment*.

For the first forty five minutes of 24 I was housewife entertained**.

I was flipping back and forth to the Hofsra Pride game at commercial,
which made me once again disappointed in my alma mater
not because they lost,
but because the only running commentary was on what a lame name we have,
I think even the gay students are offended by it.

From 8:45 pm on, I was jumping on furniture, recoiling, trembling with fear,

breaking at commercial to work on the computer on ten million various things (nervous energy fueled by 24)
and then life stopped
The Sopranos coming attraction.
Oh man, I hope Sunday is all I hope it to be....

I swear, I have a life outside of television viewing which is somewhat adventerous and thrilling, a life away from the computer... it's just cold outside the apartment walls right now, too cold for even whiskey to fix.

Well, now I'm off to watch Medium****.

*new pants moment - a moment that is so exciting, fantasticaly, magically terrific and wonderous that you lose control, and need new pants.

**housewife entertained - a type of entertainment that allows one to watch tv and clean or do some other mutlitasking activity but still be interested.

**** Medium - this gets four stars because it's an excellent drama, produced by Kelsea Grahmer which deals with a woman with psychic powers, maybe I enjoy it because I used to read Tarot cards for money in college, or maybe it's because the cast is an excellent ensemble -even the kids are talented actresses. I highly recommend checking out an episode.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

It only takes me about a year to do something for myself,

maybe longer if it involves cleaning.
For over a year I've slept on two twin bed pushed together.
One bed had a heavy bottom with an all too giving mattress with four dips with the little plastic tie covers similar to the ones that Corduroy mistakenly took for buttons.
The other bed was about two inches higher and was just like the bed I would sleep on at my grandmothers house, which was either my aunts or my fathers, which is to say it's old.
I remedied the uneven beds after about six months of uncomfortable sleep with a queen size egg crate.
For those of you who are not aware: twin bed + twin bed = king sized bed
Needless to say my thrifty fix was quick and lasted about a week or two.
It wasn't a huge deal that I had an uncomfortable bed, I usually fell asleep on my computer, working on my screenplay or on one of my many "great writing pieces" that's abandoned on the hard drive of broken dreams,
or on Will's futon after Family guy, or on Blythe's futon after a Brooklyn bar hop, or my futon when I'm having one of my TV marathons.
I started to think I deserved to make my own comfortable bed for once, and I looked at mattresses online.
And then I forgot about it for a couple of months while I:
transitioned positions at work
worked out
spent three nights performing stand-up
ate a lot of italian and mexican food,
drank beer
(completely negated the work out portion I mentioned earlier... )
and the thought of comfort escaped my mind,
and when it did return I thought of the price of comfort; yowser! Beds are expensive.
But whenI tried to take a nap this afternoon because I was so freaking tired all I wanted to do was be in bed with eyes closed. But then as I snuggled into my conjoined bed and felt that harsh hollow crack I thought to myself, maybe it is time to finally buy myself a mattress.
So I caved and called
1-800-M-A-T-T-R-E-S...and I left off the last S for savings.
Not to sound like a paid endorsement, but the service they provide make Mickey's dancing brooms and Jesus's wine theatrics look like a Judge Harry Stone trick(Night Court reference).
I made a twenty minute phone call and three hours later I had my bed set up and my old mattresses taken away and even with the tip I paid way less than I projected.
Now, of course there is a catch,
I had to clean.
I only had two hours to clean, because I also had to run some local errands. I love errands. Cleaning I will only do when I know people are coming who actually don't know how little I care about mess surrounding me,
aka - strangers and moving men.
I magically moved piles to different piles, camouflaged disorganization with bigger pieces of clutter, and shoved a lot of little pieces of garbage into bags, then I pulled out the bed.
Now, I know I said I'm messy, but before you judge me, I'd like you to tell me everything that is under your bed right now - without looking, and then go under the bed and look, I'm sure you'll find something you didn't think was there:
a paper clip, a long lost sock, a book mark that was dropped by sleepy, listless hands.
What did I find?
A beer can of a type of beer I've NEVER drank before, and a 5lb. weight
Thanks people who lived here before!
I really did need that 5lb weight.

This blog could also be entitled:
I know I'm horrifically Messy but I Swear I'm Still a Good, Clean Soul
or
Sid & Nancy Were the Previous Tenants at My Apartment

In other news, The Oscars/Academy Awards are on as I'm writing this, and I've got some quick comments:
It's about as real as wrestling
Jon Stewart is great
Whoever writes some of this stuff would be better off writing for “skit night” at a senior citizen home
and
I haven’t seen such gratuitous use of the ‘clip show’ format since Family Ties

I’m actually kind of bummed that Grey’s Anatomy wasn’t on tonight,
at least I can sleep it off my disappointment on a whole mattress.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

All My Favorite Bands Are Dead

I’m listening to Frank Zappa right now and I realize that most of my favorite bands are dead. Don't get me wrong, I'm hip to, and like, new music and a large variety of types and artists, but I just really truly *love* bands that I will never see live.
I wasn't always into music it wasn't until I was about 11 that I became passionate about music.
That's when my brother, Matt, saved me.
I used to listen to Z100, top 40 stuff, and I possibly would still if he didn’t make me hang out in his room and listen to Led Zepplin, Janis Joplin, Deep Purple. He even forced me, the girl who was scared shitless by Little Shop of Horrors, to watch The Wall.
I love Classic Rock.
I have a crush on Tom Petty.
I have a crush on (young) Ringo Starr.
I would open mouth kiss (young) Bob Dylan.
If I ever became an actress and had to force myself to cry I think one of my triggers would be that I never walked the earth the same time as John Lennon.
I remember when I went to lunch once with my sister, Jen, and her husband, my brother-in-law (who I consider my brother since they got married when I was 13), Greg.
Jen asked me if I could choose one person in the world to dance with, who would it be
(Jen asks questions like these often, a lot of people buy books with 100’s of random questions, I never found much need for them with a sister like Jen)
My answer: Jim Morrison.
“You would never be able to keep time with him, he’d just be stumbling all over you with a bottle of whiskey in his hand,” Greg pointed out, in that brotherly shoot-down way.
He is probably right though.

I just wish I could actually go to a concert and see one of my favorite bands when they were in their prime.
I mean the closest I will ever get to dancing in with Guns ‘N’ Roses is the time my brother, Mike, put on “Welcome to the Jungle” when he was babysitting me and we jumped all over the living room furniture, including on top of the big wooden stereo system. Although, for my brother’s sake I’d like to say he’s still got it.
Where as for Axel Rose…yikes, all that comes to mind is the word yikes.

I guess it makes sense that the song I relate to the most is the Beach Boys, “I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times”.

PS – It’s kinda weird that it’s under classic rock genre now, but I also miss Kurt Cobain a lot.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

"You are not a unique snowflake"

You are not a unique snowflake

Ah, to be different. I am different. This is something I have come to embrace.

When I was in fourth grade I was the kid that was wearing the 70’s sweater vest when it was the early 90’s and the 70’s weren’t yet hip. There was no embracement of “old school” or acknowledgement of how hip I was because it was my sister’s and therefore truly vintage.

I was just a dorky kid who didn’t look or act like everyone else. I was different. When you’re nine years old different is difficult because you’re still desperately clinging to the idea of conforming and being just like everyone else.

This doesn’t always change with age, in some ways I think we all want to “fit in” and be the same as everyone else.

But due to my difference as a child; the stand out funny, chubby, dorky girl that was ridiculed by 'cool kids'. (Cool kids who have McJobs now)

I now embrace my difference as a woman-child; a stand out funny, chubby dorky twenty-something.

I like the fact that I’m not really adhering to any particular style or group, I’m different, so different that I’m special.

Yes, I’m special.

And yes, at one point I did take the short bus to school.

The “short bus special” is something that seems like such an odd thing to tell a child who is faced with the major set back of being different.

You’re separated not because you’re a freak that doesn’t fit within normal society, but due to the fact that you are special.

The thing is all you big bus kids don’t really know if the short bus kids are special or not, all you know is, they’re different.

Different = weird = lame = don’t talk to that kid or else you’ll get cooties.

Now that I am out of school, I find it hard to differentiate myself. Sure there’s normal, there’s the social rules of etiquette that we follow in order to function. But there is no short or long bus.

Maybe I should start measuring myself to others in regards to distance of commute to work.

Oh, Paul he takes the short walk to work.

Sally? Yeah she’s cool, she takes the long subway ride to work.

Or would it be reverse?

Paul takes the short walk, he’s exceptional.

Sally has to take the long train to work, she’s a little slow.

I know that measuring person against person is like measuring an apple against an orange, but still I think we all want to know how we measure up.

I’d like to think of myself as unique. But how can I prove that? One of my co-workers has a very similar red coat as mine, another co-worker has the same exact sweater as I do, even my best friend, who has always been the night to my day, is in love with the same album as me.

The thing that can make me feel unique might just be my writing.

I am many things (some not so flattering, some spectacular) but the one thing I have always identified myself with is being a gifted writer.

So, I took a writing class to help me remember that Sue Funke is indeed a special girl.

In a Lisa Simpson style, I thought that maybe if I was graded, judged by my skill, I’d once again be Super Special Sue.

Tonight I was handed my first four pieces of work back.

I waited until I reached the subway platform to read my professor's comments.

They were insightful, helpful, directive…

Yadda, yadda, yadda,

Grade me! Grade me! Give me a Gold Star!!!!

and at the bottom of the page ---

a BIG

C


I am not unique, I am not special, I am in fact as average as all of you who do not write at least one page a day, oh the horror…

I won’t panic, I won’t accept this, I will rewrite my work into the masterpiece it can be and I WILL get these works published and then we’ll see who’s average,

Not Sue Funke.

I am ANYTHING but average.

I then looked over at a fellow classmate’s paper, she too got a C, but there was a dash in front of it.

And as I looked back, mine had one too.

Then I realized. I’m not taking this class for a grade, and my professor’s name is Chris.

I’m special, so special.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

"This here, this therapy, it's a lot like taking a shit"

~Tony Soprano
"I like to think of it as birth"
~Dr. Malfoy
"No...it's more like taking a shit."
~Tony Soprano

This blog has nothing to do with the Sopranos, although it is a dam good drama.

I just used the quote because tonight’s LOST reminded me a lot of break through in therapy, and when I think of that I think of the above Soprano’s quote because it’s the best metaphorically crude way of putting it, it’s relieving yourself for those who don't like to talk in four letter words (stupid high brow readers, ruining it).

This blog has everything to do with this week's LOST.

Whether you're into the show or not, you need to know that this weeks episode delivered better than the milk man that brought you into this world. For you fanatics that missed it, I promise, I'm not giving away anything by saying what I'm about to say;

The thing that was great was that there was set up, and delivery each time. It was like watching your favorite baseball team connect with the pitch every at bat and just sweep the freakin’ game...well as a Mets fan let me just say inning...(maybe game this year, as we say 'ya gotta belive')
The reason that people keep craving LOST is because of a genius formula: Hot people, beautiful scenary, and a story line with a plot that twist and turns with a clear determination to an end. In some ways, this formula could be thought of as Dallas meets Telemundo soap opera.

I mean this in a really flattering way. See, what you might realize is, as horrifically overdramatic as they are, Spainish soap operas are great because they know when to quit. The “on-air” lifetime for an average Spainish soap opera is one year. This forces the writers of these programs to have at least one cohesive story that runs throughout and write with a definitive beginning and end. Unlike American soap operas like Days of Our Lives, which has ran so long my mom watched it as a little girl and now her little girl still watches it (only once in a while...). Lost is clearly using this method but with a longer term (the producers/creators often speak of a 6 or 7 year plan).

THE LONG SHORT OF THE TELEMUNDO SOAP OPERA COMPARISON IS:

LOST is setting out to tell a story within a designated time frame.

There’s an ending known, but the well plotted sequence of energic episodes makes this show’s structure quite similar to the classical epic structure, similar to the beloved form of Homer (author of the Iliad and Odyssey, not the Dad on The Simpsons).

LOST is also similar to Dallas because there are pretty people with dramatic personalities. The Dallas comparison is simpler because Dallas isn’t complex; it’s only family trees and a look who’s boinking who structure. LOST has the complexity of ‘Who the hell did what to you to make you this way right now’ structure with obviously dramatic personalities.

Why tonight’s show kicked ass, which is a positive review for all you non- slang speakers, is due to the effective use of flashback. Instead of going back to a character’s life before the crash, they dealt with a character’s unresolved issues on the island via flashback.

FOR THE SAKE OF FULL DISCLOSURE:

As someone who has experienced the joy of Post Tramatic Stress Syndrom, or PTSS for all you hep cats in the know, I might be a tad biased with my favor towards the “flashback” story telling.


The thing is, I was supposed to come straight home and work on my short stories tonight, instead I visited with some friends at a local watering hole, typed some notes on the subway, ran three blocks, put some tortellini on the stove, and then dropped everything without a second thought and was thoroughly entertained for an hour by LOST. That’s good television. That’s what television should do. It should make you watch, forget about life, but also spurn some sort of creative thought as to why you enjoyed it, or if not that, maybe to do something else. Television shouldn’t beget mindless television viewing, when done at its finest television should beget thought, conversation, and ultimately dissection similar to the effect of great literature.

So far we have about 10 shows that do that, and about 2000 that don’t.

I guess, for tonight, I’ll be thankful for the 10. I should really go check on that tortellini now….