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Max Landis, Famous Geek Progeny

27 Feb

Okay, if you’ve already had a handful of people tell you to watch this video and haven’t yet, I’m adding myself to that handful and telling you to watch it now:

At this point, you only have yourself to blame.

I have to admit, I saw this video posted at least three different places before I watched it and each time, the person posting it said a version of  “I’m not sure why I waited so long to watch this but damn it’s good, you should watch it too!” And it was only posted on February 3, seriously.

Having said all this, Max Landis, son of movie-maker-mover-shaker John Landis, seems to be hitting a nerve.

Max Landis

making dad proud...

I’ve spoken about the movie he co-wrote, Chronicle, and the emotional impact it had on me just a couple of weeks ago but it’s more eloquently detailed in this piece from Roger Ebert far-flung-correspondent Omer M. Mozaffar. Mozaffar’s The Pursuit of Power succinctly describes how the movie

starts out as a curious plastic toy. Along the way, however, it carefully reveals itself as a colossal amusement park of screams and shouts. Don’t let anyone spoil this movie for you, because it is the cult film of its generation.

It’s hard to watch the above Youtube video without feeling this description echoes as a description of the young Landis (he’s a year younger than me, that feels young). In the three and a half videos (including the one above) that I watched with him this morning, I grew more and more interested in what Landis had to say.

Sure, we can say that he’s carefully crafting this casual yet intellectual geek persona and I recognize that it might not at all reflect who he actually is but watching him make a Caprese salad or drunkenly goof off all while waxing on about the history of comic storylines touches me right to my geek core. In short, this is a guy I could easily see myself being friends with. At least, that’s the feeling I get.

And in a culture where celebrity is as much about your persona as your actual talent, it’s always interesting to see someone who seems to actively and cleverly cultivating both, famous parentage or not. It’s rare to see someone this early in their career resonate in this way.

So here goes, I am officially marking Max Landis as someone to keep an eye on. Can I put some money on it?

For the Love of Facial Hair: Celebrity Crush, Nick Offerman

6 Jun

Nick Offerman may not have yet reached the level of “household name,” but the character he plays on “Parks & Recreation,” Ron Swanson, may have already reached that goal as “viral phenomena.”

For those of you not familiar, here is a great way to get to know Ron:

The character of Ron Swanson is basically a mixture of all things Midwestern and masculine combined with the magical dry delivery and dusting of goofiness, care of Offerman’s performance.

Swanson is the head of the eponymous “Parks & Recreation” department of the show and, appropriately enough, wants nothing to do with it. While the show is the epitome of ensemble casts, seriously there are no weak links, Swanson has definitely shone out as the grumpy Teddy/Grizzly Bear of the show.

It’s this quirky mix that has him inspiring websites like “Cats That Look Like Ron Swanson.”

Which Offerman has even commented on:

I mean seriously, who uses the word redolent? That’s awesome!

Swanson gets to bounce back and forth from being scary and mean:

to being a leader… of sorts:

Swanson spends one full episode in pursuit of a steak and, after repeated shutdowns, the episode ends on this note:

This is all to say that while the writing has created a character worthy of TV Legends, Offerman’s performance has lived up to it.

This should come as no real surprise as all the interviews I’ve been reading with Offerman highlight his real-life Swanson-like attributes, largely including the fact that he built his own canoe:

But what has been most impressive to me has been what I have read about his relationship with real-life wife, and sometimes special guest ex-wife on the show, Megan Mullally.

You probably remember her as Karen from “Will & Grace,” or her current role on “Children’s Hospital.” Or, let’s face it, any of another of the many roles she’s played. She’s also well-recognized within the theatrical community and, simply put, is a badass actress.

But this interview and it’s back and forth between the couple show a special side to Offerman, he really respects and loves his wife. Usually, I try to ignore the private lives of actors. However, in this situation it begs to be mentioned because of its awesomeness.

Take that and add it to the fact that he’s basically a real-life Ron that has replaced the over-the-top qualities with a refreshing realness and then add that the interview comes comes with this picture:

I think we’ve found the best Hollywood couple to hit the screens since Brangelina.

The show is in-between seasons so now’s a great time to catch up. As far as I know, it’s all up on Hulu.com.

Celebrity Crush *Nerdtastic Edition: Danny Pudi

5 Apr

Readers, this post has been coming for awhile. If you’re a fan of NBC’s hit comedy show “Community,” you probably already know why.

You may think I think he’s great because he’s half of TV’s current greatest Bro-mance. Prime example here:

“Troy and Abed in the Morning,” is a fictional morning show, inside of an already fictional world… but hey, it’s all about the theme song right?

And that’s definitely part of it. Part of it is that “Community,” is really well written and has given Danny Pudi an amazing and odd character to play. He’s a super-geek, and I love geeks. He’s clever, unerringly honest, and it’s not all in the writing, there’s a lot to be said to the subtlety of Pudi’s performance. Because while Abed is funny and over-the-top, he never feels like a caricature.

And this is despite some hilarious and nearly surreal imitations the character allows him to perform. He’s done everything from become a mean girl for an episode, dress up and “become” Batman for their Halloween episode, and, in another bit with Donald Glover aka Troy is Bert, with Ernie:

The cookie eating wins me over every time.

Did I mention he was Don Draper for a few seconds?

And yes, he really is half-Polish and seems to speak it fluently. (Here‘s a delightful video of him leading a tour of his alma mater, Marquette University… randomly running into some girl and speaking Polish.)

Let’s be straight, I like Danny Pudi because I like Abed. But from everything I’ve seen about Danny Pudi, he seems every bit as genuinely excited to be around as Abed fictionally does… and that helps make him extra cool.

*This has nothing to do with being nerdtastic… but just a friendly reminder. When you go searching for info on favorite TV characters on line, be ready to find many slash-related content you had never thought of before. Rule 34, right?

My New Celebrity (Girl) Crush: Ashley Fink

14 Mar

Alright. So, yes, I am a heterosexual female. But every once in awhile there’s a girl that makes me wonder, what if I wasn’t? Ashley Fink, is one of those girls. I may not want to make out with her, or anything else like that, but man, I want to be her friend! I want to be more like her. She is just so cool and comfortable in her own skin, she inspires jealousy. Why am I not more like her?

Dodai Stewart, over on the oft-mentioned Jezebel.com, recently wrote an article that hit a lot of the points about Fink, and her Glee character Lauren Zises, that explain my overall attraction to her.

But I should back up, if you’re not familiar with Glee, let me explain a few things. Ashley’s character is in the middle of what many people consider a non-traditional relationship.

What makes it so non-traditional?

She’s a big girl and one of the “hot” boys is pursuing her.

That’s it.

(Aren’t they cute?)

And Stewart discusses it well in her article:

Some people can’t wrap their minds around the idea that a fat person can be sexy. On TV.com, regarding an episode in which Puck and Zises talk about making a sex tape, Seth Abramovitch writes, “There was something really gross about this plot to me… why does Puck and Lauren’s relationship always make me want to hurl?”

First of all, gross dude. And second of all, how many people feel that way but are, at the very least, smart enough not to admit it? Just like any other under-represented group, we big girls gotta represent!

Stewart goes on to say:

But on Glee, Puck isn’t into Zises despite her body — he’s into her body. Oh, it didn’t start out that way — at first he was repulsed by her; he once mused, “I could have any girl I wanted… and the only girl I’ve got my eye on is a whole lot of woman.” But now, the fact that she’s “a whole lot of woman” is what he likes about her. Finding someone who is fat sexy is not a fetish. It’s not weird. It’s not even uncommon. it’s just that we usually don’t see it on TV (unless, you know, it’s a chubby guy and a ridiculously hot woman! Then it’s your average sitcom.) Although our culture often treats it as such, fat is not a punchline, a flaw or even an obstacle. As Ashley Fink herself says:

“I dated the cutest guy in high school. I had mad swagger!”

And what can I say? I’m in love with this girl’s swagger… and the fact that Glee is not making her hide it. Go here for a great interview with her.

And though this feels like a post script now, I also have to say that if you’re not watching Glee you’re missing out on important discussions like this. While the characters may be over the top, the situations sometimes laughable; they’re also giving room to situations that don’t get portrayed in mainstream media let alone a hit show.

They made news with Kurt and his relationship with his dad but it goes beyond that. It may be as simple as making the big girl sexy or as complicated as understanding that sexuality and love are not as simply defined as we’ve come to believe (anyone else cry during this whole Santana/Britney “Landslide” thing?). And despite the moments that I… less than love, this show (and its truly amazing cast) is still worth watching.

 

Darren Criss: My ( and Everyone’s) New Celebrity Crush

17 Feb

So, I finally got around to watching the Valentine’s Day episode of Glee… and you know what? I gotta admit, I’m boarding the Darren Criss train. He’s just got that, thing about him.

(Grabbed the picture from perezhilton.com, why not, this way it came with hearts!)

Okay, okay, I know not everyone is in love with Darren Criss right now but there’s a whole lot of us who are. And here’s the thing, why the hell not? It’s not everyday that there’s a rising celebrity who is multi-talented, nearly completely inoffensive, smart, and cute to boot! Here’s how Out Magazine described him in their recent interview (which you should also read)

A musical-theater geek who is comfortable in his skin and wants to be an example of how other kids can be too, collective *awwwwww* moment anyone? Anyone?

Anyhow, Criss has stepped into a massively popular show and helped remind it how to stay grounded and if that wasn’t a big deal enough, he seems genuinely grounded himself. And in a world as frenetic as ours, that may be even more attractive than his curly hair and fancy singy voice… maybe.

It also helps that he’s an old-fashioned entertainment kind of guy, the guy that stands up as a teenageer (or just past teenager) and ensures us that the old ways will make it right again. Except, not necessarily the “old” ways because he is most well-known for (outside of Glee) his Harry Potter Parody musical. Which he wrote and starred in, which means he’s also a Harry Potter geek, and straight? Yeah, he’s just asking for the love now.

Brett Erlich: My New Celebrity Crush

10 Feb

I guess it all started with Jon Stewart… there’s just something about smart guys who say funny things that just floats my boat! I mean, look at this guy:

In’nt he just he cutest? And it helps that he’s kinda brilliant and had The Rally to Restore Sanity, which was truly a great idea.

However, I have to say, what with his enormous popularity and married-ness and all, I think it’s time for me to move on. And move on I have, to Current TV’s Brett Erlich:

Put your head NEAR my mouth!

Honestly, he looks like he could use a nap. He is sarcastic. He is clearly my type.

Current TV seems to be aware because they have given him his own show to host… or rather, VERY similarly to a certain Mr. Stewart, Current has given him an old show that he is quickly making his own: Infomania. And he’s doing a great job, in fact, it may be better than it was.

You may not have been a fan of Infomania before but here’s a reason to watch:

…he’ll probably touch.

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